my very own swoon

I rarely buy quilt patterns. Why should I, when there is so much that’s free out there? And I sure do love free! Yet there are times when even I make and exception. Enter, the “Swoon”.

I’m not sure what it is about this pattern, but I really, really like it. I bought it with the expectation that I would make a quilt for my mother and for our bed. I happened to have birthday money at the time, so I bought half of the fabric that I would need for each quilt (then supplemented from my own stash).

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I cut all the blocks out at once, storing them in plastic baggies so I wouldn’t get things lost and confused, and proceeded to make 2 blocks at a time: 1 for me, 1 for her, 1 for me, 1 for her, etc.

Then I looked at the calendar and realized that I didn’t have enough time to work on both quilts and still get my mother’s quilt all done by the time she came to visit. So I put ours aside and worked on my mother’s. I finished that one just in time, and she loved it!

And….. then it sat. And sat. And sat some more. I s.l.o.w.l.y. worked on it, doing a bit here, and a bit there. I’m not sure why I lost interest in it, for I still really like the pattern. It just seemed like other stuff got in the way and …. well, whatever. At some point I bit the bullet, sashed all of the blocks, laid them out on my bed (to get a good idea of where to place what), and sewed them together. Good job! I told myself, Now on to the basting!

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Yeah. I hate basting. And this is a king sized quilt (I added 3 more blocks then the original patterns calls for). Yet I made myself drag it take it to a place where I had the room to do the deed (not at my house) and I spray basted it. Which was fine, since I could reach the middle of the tables to pin it anyways. Yet, I didn’t count on one thing: not quilting it right away. I’m not sure how long it sat on my shelf, waiting to be quilted, but it was long enough that the spray had become useless and I ended up pinning some of it anyway.

At the beginning of September (yes, this September), I told myself that it would be all quilted by the end of the month. No excuses!! So I got it under the machine and started quilting it. I had decided long ago to quilt it in a cross hatch pattern, so at least I had no questions about what I was going to do. It was at this point that my machine started skipping stitches and doing other stupid stuff. But I persevered, figured out what was going on with the machine, and finally finished the cross hatch in one direction.

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It was at this point that I said, “Looks good! I’m done!”, to which my husband replied, “Are you sure you’re doing to be happy not doing what you’ve envisioned?” I told him that if it really bothered my, I could always quilt going the other way, even after it’s bound. The quilting that was already done was enough to stabilized it, so the other direction was only for aesthetic reasons.

Plus I really needed to be done!

So, by the end of September, it was not only quilted, but bound and on our bed! Yay!!

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2 1/5 YEARS. That’s what this quilt took to be made. But it’s done. It’s done!!

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story.

week 15

Cold  cold GO AWAY!!

The virus, that is. Not the temperature. I figured out that I have had one cold or another for the past 6 weeks. Ugh! Aside from the hacking, the sore throat, and the blowing-of-the-nose, my week was finally a good one overall. I still didn’t have a ton of energy, but I successfully managed to get several things done. And that sure makes things easier.

Baby’s heart was nice and strong! I’m measuring just as I should at 15 weeks and my next scheduled time to see Dr. B will be in 6 weeks, when we do the organ scan. Adam is absolutely sure that we are having a girl, so he sees no reason to look for the gender. Or even think of a boys name. Talk about confidence! I must say, though, that he has been correct 7 out of 8 times, so I suppose he has good reasons to be.  Open-mouthed smile

I’m still struggling with what I can eat and what I can’t. I have what’s called fructose malabsorbtion. It’s a fancy name for people who can’t eat foods that are high in fructose/fructans (foods like apples, watermelon, stone fruits, avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, wheat, etc. You know, the good stuff.) and lactose (dairy products). These “no no” foods cause many different problems within me, things like IBS, fybromyalgia, headaches, mouth and nose sores, etc. In other words, it’s quite worth it to me to avoid those foods! Plus, I’m hypoglycemic (constant low blood sugar) and for whatever reason, I’m really fighting my blood sugar like crazy. As long as I eat regularly, well balance meals I’m okay for the most part.

I mentioned that we were scheduled to tour a house on Wednesday, which we did. If the shop had water and sewer already hooked up to it, then we would be making an offer on it right now. As it is, though, the septic tank would have to be replaced with a larger one (according the “the specs”, it’s not even large enough for our family size.) and we might have to dig another well just for the shops use. Either way, there just isn’t enough time before the snow flies to do all that digging work. So we are going to wait until spring (March or April) to make an offer. The realtor and owner know this, for we have been very honest about things with them and they know that we do, indeed, want the property, and hopefully the property doesn’t sell before that. Plus, this just gives us some more time to save more money, seeing that we will have the added expense of a septic/well upgrade. My mother asked “can you really save that much over the winter (for winter is historically our slow time)?” My response? “If God can speak this world into existence, then He can certainly send us an unusually high amount of business over the winter. Nothing is impossibly with Him. This is in His hands, not ours, and if He is desiring us to move, then He knows all that needs to be saved and do to accomplish it. I’m not worried.” In my heart, I really believe that this is the right direction for us (of course, I reserve the right to be wrong.  Winking smile).

For now, we are waiting, saving what we can, and praying for the right result in the end, whatever those results may be.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I’ve lost 20 pounds since mid July. I’m not trying to, but this is common for me during early pregnancy. Around 6 months I start gaining stuff back, but I’ve always been about 5 – 10 pounds less at the time of birth then I was at the beginning. I’m not complaining though, for I have more then enough to lose! Smile with tongue out

week 14

This pregnancy is really kicking my bootie!! With everyone else, by this time I was feeling so much better. I had energy, my appetite was back, and I was well on my way to being “normal” again. Not so this time. While I don’t have the round-the-clock nausea anymore, I still don’t feel good. I’m not sleeping good at nights, so I’m sure that has something to do with it. I suppose it is to be expected: this is my 9th baby after all and I am almost 35. But still…. knowing the reasons doesn’t make life any easier. The scary thing is: I’m just 14 weeks! Heaven knows what things will be like at 34 weeks…. yikes!!

Okay, moving on…

We didn’t get a whole lot of school done last week (see above), so I’m hoping that this week is different. It’s a hit and miss kind of thing, with each day being drastically different from the one before. At least I start off the week thinking good thoughts, right? Yesterday was a really great day. I felt fine and we did everything we needed to. Here’s to a good day today!

We are house hunting. Not that it’s much of a hunt, for we don’t have much money and properties are ridiculously high around here. For example: a 2 acre piece of land, with nothing on it, is going for $15,000. Stupid.

We live in the city (our “city” has a bit less than 2,000 people, so I use that word loosely) and while our house is large enough for our ever-growing family, houses our commercial kitchen just fine, we’d like to not live in town. We want the privacy that out-of-town living can give you. Plus, with many children of all ages, it’s just better off all around if they have SPACE!!! And we can have chickens…. Winking smile

We are going to tour a possible property on Wednesday, (a 3 bdr, 2 bath house, on 15 acres, that already has a large shop insulated,  electrified, phoned, and fueled. That’s huge for us!! ). It’s 10 minutes away from where we are now, which is perfect for the small radius we need to stay in. We know that the building doesn’t have water and the septic isn’t large enough even for our family. Baste on the rough figures I could find on-line and the amount of water we go through a month (baste on our water bill), a new septic will cost between $6,000 – $10,000. That doesn’t leave any room for the down payment and renovation on the building itself. The realtor said that the seller would give us a credit towards the cost of a new septic system (she apparently really wants to sell), but still, even if we do take $10,000 off the asking price, we have to come up with the money for the new system…. I don’t know.

I have being praying about moving for so many years and while I’m excited that we finally have gotten to the place where we can seriously look, I’m still praying for patience. I’m hopeful this will work for us, yet I don’t know the will of God and what He has planned for us, so I don’t want to get my hopes up just yet. But I do know that God will work it out if this is what He wants.

And I’m good with that.

I see Dr. B on Wednesday and we should be able to hear the heart beat this time. I love that part!!

fun with …..

Do you ever feel like life takes you by storm and you are helpless to do anything about it? Even when those storms aren’t bad, or bring hard things, it can still be difficult to catch your breath. Well, that’s exactly how I feel. Life has been good. Life has been busy. Yet, I feel like I can’t keep up! Just like a wood pecker, he pecks and pecks away at the tree, and never seems to get anywhere. Or to anything. Yet he must, for he’s still alive….

(this picture was taken from our porch, with the wood pecker in a tree across the street)

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We have been very busy this Summer with functions and the county meal attendance increasing greatly. This has been a good thing, for as the Fall slows down (please?), we have a good back up in the bank for the high heating bills come snow time. Plus, it means that our business is growing, at least word-of-mouth wise, and that is always a good thing for a self-employed family to know.

We have been in school now for 2 full months and while we’re not quite as far as I had hoped we would be, I’m satisfied with what we are doing. I’m still tweaking the schedule, for I’m not sure we’ll ever find that “perfect one”. I suppose I never have spoke about what we’re doing this year. I plan on doing a 2 month school review here shortly, so I’ll go into depth of what we’re using, how they are going, and what I’m thinking of changing.

I’m 14 weeks along now and while I’m finally out of that nausea-all-day-long trip, I’m still not feeling so great (hence the self-seen behind-ness in school). I’m not sleeping very well at night, which doesn’t leave me with much energy for the day. Around 1 pm, I’m finding that I need to take a nap. I hate that!

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Most people don’t believe me that I’m only 14 weeks along, for I’m  quite a bit bigger than that. But I suppose that’s to be expected, seeing that this is my 9th child.

I’m still keeping myself sane with my sewing. I am accused often of sewing and quilting being the only things I’m really interested in. While it is a hobby of mine, and something I have tried to make into a business, it’s not the only  thing I’m interested in. I love doing things with my family, I love to decorate, I enjoy being outdoors (although I’m not really an athletic person), I love all crafting in general (from using a glue gun to a needle, I enjoy it all!), I enjoy baking….. No one is so 1 dimensional that they don’t have several interests. I will attempt to do a better job at being more “rounded” in my writings.

With that said, here is a fun little contest that I’m entering. Every now and then, Stitched in Color holds a contest for people to make a “fabric bundle” in the designated theme. This time, the theme is “Folksy Fall”. The words “folksy” can conjure up so many different images for each individual, doesn’t it? Below you can get a feel of what “folksy” means to me. What does it make you think of?

The rules of the contest are as follows:

Carefully craft your mosaic of 12 fabrics from among the offerings at The Intrepid Thread.  Choose fabrics to express your interpretation of Folksy Fall.  Your collection of fabrics can be pretty, funky, dramatic or totally playful.  Just make sure to include a variety of colors complimented by some rich fall neutrals – browns, grays or navy blue.

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This is my first interpretation. It’s a calm, soothing palette.

And this is my second. It’s a bit more funky then I usually do, but I’m totally enjoying those owls! I’m not sure which 1 I like best. What do you think?

Finally!

Two posts in one week. Wow! I’m on a roll! Princess (my almost-5 yr old daughter asked for a princess face. I figured why not?)

We are working on many things around here, for life is never dull or boring in this house. Here is a peak at some of the things that we’re up to.

School:

We are studying about the Middle Ages in history and so we made our own castle. Out of sugar cubes. The children had a lot of fun putting this together. We used royal icing for he mortar (royal icing for a castle. Kind of fitting, eh?), blue frosting for the water in the mote and green sugar sprinkles for the grass in the courtyard.  Of course, what castle is complete without a few soldiers and horses? Legos to the rescue!

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My quilting:

I have many projects going at the same time. Doesn’t everyone? Winking smile

I am finally getting to our Swoon quilt, which I started almost 3 years ago and has been ready to quilt for at least 6 months! It’s a king sized quilt, so I’m just strait line quilting it.

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My boys just blow through their jeans like there’s not tomorrow! Unfortunately, it’s usually the knees that they leave in shreds, literally, yet the rest of the pants are just fine. I hate to throw them out, but I’m not willing to spend hours on patching them up either. So I decided to cut them up and make a picnic quilt out of them. Denim is very durable and I’ll back it with 1 or 2 blankets that I already have, yet don’t use.  It’s slow going, for I have a lot of denim! I am doing it the “slab” method, a la Crazy Mom Quilts. The whit basket are the cut up pieces and the wicker basket are the pieces sewn together. (yes, I have a purple floor. My husband just about freaked when I came home with that color. Its called “eggplant” and I love it!)

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2015 is the self-imposed year that I’m making lap sized quilts for all of my 10 nieces and nephews, to be given to them on their birthdays. The patterns have been chosen (although I reserve the right to change my mind), most of the fabric has been decided upon, the top for the 1st one is finished (my 1st scrap quilt!), and the cutting for the 2nd has been done. I have a ways to go!

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Catering:

I don’t have any pictures, but we have been super busy! We’ve had 7 weddings this Summer, with our last one in October. We have had countless (or at least I’m not going to count them) business meetings/luncheons, as well as the increasing county meal. In fact, we are double booked every day next week! At least the weekends are free now….

See? I can blog about other things then just quilting! Rolling on the floor laughing

I am linking up with WIP Wednesday, at Freshly Pieced.

Once upon a time…..

I used to blog here. Really, I did. Just look over there on the left side bar, and you’ll see the proof with all my archived posts. Granted, I didn’t post here every day, and most times not every week, but it was certainly more than, say… once a month. Or even skipping a whole month. *sigh* Yet, sometimes life happens and thing have to be re-categorized in your lists of priorities. So here I am, in mid September and I haven’t posted since July. But that’s okay, right?

It occurred to me today that I never posted about some quilts that I had made and then decided to donate to a very worthy cause. At least one that jumped out at me and I knew that I could help with. I was reading the blog of one of my favorite fabric on-line stores, The Intrepid Thread, and Julie was talking about a quilt auction to help families raise enough money to complete their international adoptions. These families have been trying to adopt those children for 6 years, due to political problems with in the country. According to the countries policy, or something like that, each family had to stay about 4 – 6 weeks within the country while they awaited to final authorization. Well, as you can imagine, that can be quite expensive, on top of all the fees and what not’s each family has already had to pay.

So an auction was set up to help. For each $25 a person/people donated, they received 1 raffle ticket for the drawing of a quilt of their choice. I knew that I wasn’t able to donate any money, but I could donate some quilts! I donated 4 of them.

May Flowers

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Quilt size: 47 x 53   Pattern: May Flowers from the Moda Bake Shop. Fabrics: from my stash   Quilted: by me, with inspiration from Angela Walters. And yes, the strait horizontal lines were marked but not the details with the lines.

Gracie’s Garden

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Quilt size: 40” square  Pattern: a whole cloth quilt  Fabrics: from my stash  Quilted: by me, with 3 or 4 small to large mums random placed and a small vine with hearts for the filler.

Catch a Wave

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Quilt size: 45×58  Pattern: my own spin on a simple strip quilt  Fabrics: from my stash  Quilting: by me. I thought the pattern of the quilt was a bit boring, so I wanted to jazz it up some, while also working on my quilting skills. I decided to do interconnecting “waves” in a colored-thread pattern. By the time I was half way done with this thing, I was kicking myself for such a stupid idea! LOL But, not one to give up easily, I persevered and I’m quite happy with the outcome. Not the most perfect of quilting, but that’s okay.

Fractured Elements

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Quilt size: 65×80  Pattern:  Improve Herringbone tutorial from 13 Spools.  Fabrics: I had some amazing help with the making of the blocks! They were made by my (previous) bee mates in the INSPIRE do.Good stitches (which has since been closed). I was the quilter for that month, so I picked this block and the color scheme. We each made 2 blocks, using fabrics from our own stash. The block were sent to me and I put them together.  Quilted: by me. Since there were so many seams, and the funky-ness of the fabrics was enough, I did simple strait lines for the quilting in the gray only. (I am now a member of the BELIEVE circle.)

So there you go! I don’t blog for 2 months then inundate you with quilt pictures!

In other news, I’m starting to feel back to my old self (whatever that means). I some respects, time is moving slowly. But in others, it’s not. And if you look closely, you’ll find a new little “ticker” under Samuel’s name. Be right back

I am linking up with 13 Spools Pin it Monday.

Summer dresses

Have you heard or seen the cute little “pillowcase” dresses? They seem to be quite popular and they have been on my bucket list to do for some time now. Enter Damaris’s need for some new Summer dresses.  In full disclosure, I have plenty of material to make something for her.  Enough for, like, 6 years… or something like that. However, I don’t have the time. Even though the dress patterns I have are simple and have been made time and time again, they still require a bit more than an hours worth of work (maybe 2 hours). So…. I was looking for something faster.

That’s where the pillowcase dresses come in. They are apply named, for the original version is made from a pillowcase. There are many tutorials out there on blog land that make use of yardage, but still maintain the look of a pillowcase dress. While I was in Goodwill last week, I saw some pillowcases that I thought would look adorable made up into some dresses for her. And so they found their way into my cart. Does your husband hate it when that happens, too?

I didn’t follow any tutorials, per say, just because that’s how I am (here is a site with several different tutorials for these kinds of dresses, although I think most of them use yardage instead of actual pillowcases).There really isn’t a wrong way to make one. For Damaris, since she is so petite, yet tall, the total length is 27”. From the top of the casing (where the seam of the pillowcase is), I measured 6” down on each side and 2” in for the arm hole, making a “half u” shape. For all but 1 dress, I kept the finished band as the hem. I sewed biased tape around the arm holes, to give them a finished look.

Each of these dresses took me 30 minutes to make. Now that’s what I’m talking about!!

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This is the one dress where the band of the pillowcase is on the top. I bought 2 of these pillowcases, so I wanted to make the dresses a bit differently (the other dress was in the wash when we took these pictures) and the other dress has the pink band at the bottom.

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These pillowcases were a bit different due to the fact that they each had 6 ties at the opening of the case (to keep he pillow in, I’m guessing). I simple snipped them off and sewed them back on at the desired place. They were already finished and they matched perfectly. I made a casing on the front and back, between the arm holes, and inserted elastic.

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This next one has funky, non-strait lines that make for a nice little change.

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For the straps, I made a long ribbon on purple and white polka-dot and inserted that into the casing on both the front and the back, tying together on one shoulder. The bow can be on either shoulder and in the front or the back.

 

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This pillowcase I have had in my stash for some time and happened upon it while cleaning up the other day. I was still in the “pillowcase dress” mode, so I snatched it for a dress too!

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The twill ribbon was done the same way as the striped dress above. And the piping with the lace was already part of the pillowcase. Score!

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This dress was from and extra long pillowcase, so I cute off more then from the other ones.

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The straps for this one were made from 2 blue ribbons, threaded through the casting and tied at the shoulders. I tacked the ribbons down in the middle of the dress, for both front and back, so the ribbons don’t move around and come out.

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She had to pet the bunny!

As you can see, these dresses can be made with tons of variations! If you have a little girl in your life, I’m sure she needs a new Summer dress and what could be easier then these?!

I just wish I could get away with one my size…..

I am linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts, Can I get a whoop! whoop!, and A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.  Have a great weekend everyone!

In the water

I am entering this quilt into the fabulous Bloggers Quilt Festival, over at Amy’s Creative Side. Seriously, this is a wonderful place to find beautiful quilts, all in one place! I have entered this quilt into the category “Home Machine Quilted” and the voting starts May 23. Be sure to visit all the ones you can and vote for your favorite. There are some sweet prizes up for grabs!!

Last week, I showed you the quilt that I made for an adorable little girl. Now it’s her big brother’s turn.

When my friend contacted me about a quilt for her son, she asked for a sophisticated nautical theme, with his room having that decor. My first thought was to have both an under the sea view, as well as some sky, but not at a strait angle, for I thought that was boring.

Here is the rough draft I came up with. Not all creatures made the cut, though.

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Like his sister’s quilt, the creatures needed to be sturdy and I didn’t feel that applique would hold up over time. So I opted to paper piece the sea creatures.  I used the free program Quilt Assistant again and this time, I had a better understanding of what I was doing!

The first creature I did was the sea horse, which came from a paper pieced picture off of Pinterest (I tried to find the source of the pattern, but was unable to). The tail was… something else, but in the end it turned out fine.

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Next up, was the shark. This pattern was drafted from a clip art picture and went more smoothly.  Once the quilt was half way quilted, I saw the fin not quite match up. I’m not sure how that escaped my attention….

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Then came the birds, for a sunny ocean sky must have seagulls! I positioned one to give the idea that it was diving for fish, but my husband said it looks like it’s falling out of the sky, dead. What do you think?

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Nemo The clown fish were next, the pattern being drafted from a picture found on Google. I wanted to incorporate creatures from both the top and bottom of the sea, and what fun fish the clown fish are! (and yes, my children never called them “clown fish”. It was always Nemo and his dad.) They are a much brighter orange than the picture shows. These fish were puzzles that were quite mind bending to figure out! The program usually prints them out grouped together, in the way that I number them. But with these guys, the program printed them out however it wanted, in 20 different, small pieces for each fish! I’m not going to admit how long I sat there and stared at all those pieces, trying to figure out which went where. Suffice to say, it was too long!

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The jelly fish were fun and simple to do, as well. I was trying to decide between these or the large, plump looking ones, both being clip art pictures. I took a vote with my family, and these ones won. The picture doesn’t show it, but the teal one has a darker teal swirl printed on it.

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My favorite creature of the whole bunch is the sea turtle. We found this pattern via Pinterest, as well, found on Sewhooked ( the turtle pattern is found just under the “Animal” heading). I did him in a green and gold fabric that I had gotten from the Traveling Stash Box(es), which reminded me of a turtle’s shell. I tried to keep the small arches going in the same direction, and even though it’s not perfect, I am quite happy with it!

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The sun was another New York Beauty block from Sew Sweetness’s New York Beauty quilt-along. This one was presented by Lee of Freshly Pieced.

Last of the creatures was the sea dragon. Now, if you know what a sea dragon is, you know how incredible it looks! Those “leafy” appendages, the tiny face, the skinny body… so cool! However, God does a much better job at forming those little guys than I do and I just couldn’t figure out how to paper piece it. Applique? No way!! I couldn’t stand the thought of appliqueing on such small, tiny pieces. So I did the only thing I could think of: I embroidered it. While I don’t enjoy hand work (I machine quilt and bind my quilts), I do enjoy embroidering. Some of you might remember my MIL’s quilt that I made for her 2012 Christmas. That was my first dip into embroidery and I really enjoyed it. ( Am I the only one who see’s a pattern here? Let see: I don’t really know how to do something, but let’s jump off into a large quilt anyway. Go big or go home, right? Yeah, that’s me.)

I printed off a fairly simple picture of a sea dragon, traced it onto my fabric and got to work. It took me longer than I had thought, filling in all those areas, which lead me to leave out a few details I was planning on doing. But I think it turned out quite nicely. This was also the specific creature that my friend asked for, so it was a pleasure to do that for her. You can’t tell by the picture, but his body is a yellow and his “leaves” are a yellowy-green.

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Once the quilt was together, I got the chance to play! I wanted to incorporate more creatures into the quilt, but not with paper pieceing. From the very beginning of this quilt, I wanted to quilt in some sea life and I designed this quilt to let me do that.

My sea dragon, sea horse, and clown fish all needed homes to keep them safe, so kelp and coral was first up. In the pictures and information I found online, the sea dragon is in one type of kelp, while the sea horse is in another. I ended that problem by quilting in both kinds.

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The clown fish lives in coral, so I chose a type that was a bit easier to quilt, but mostly easy for the viewer to understand what it is: fan coral.

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I love dolphins, and was quite happy to put two of those lovely creatures into this quilt!

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I thought a Manta Ray was another well know creature of the sea, so he went in on the other side of our playful dolphins. Unfortunatly, it was too late when I realized that his under side should be a lighter color, not his top side. * sigh *

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Last, but certainly not least, we can’t forget our hungry shark (and bird!). A school of fish is in order, but they need not be fancy or anything. I don’t believe our shark is that picky, do you?

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The top of the water always has fast, agitated movement, with the lower levels being more gentle and slow. I attempted to imitate this with the quilting. Near the top is the agitated bubbles and swirls, moving downwards to more gentle tides, with an occasional swirl of water. At the bottom, we have even more gentle movement, with the easy sway of the kelp.

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I asked my friend if there was any saying that she wanted me to incorporate into the quilt. The one she sent me was perfect and I quilted it right into the center of the quilt.

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Here is the full view of the top.

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The back is pieced in a pleasing, yet simple way. I wanted the back to be very different from the top, to give my friend’s son options as he gets older, for he may not always want an ocean theme quilt on his bed.

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Noah's quilt binding

Quilt Stats:

Size: 72” x 98”

Design: by me

Quilted: by me

Quilt fabrics: the fabric for the water is Batik Dreamscape Mystic; the sky fabric is Sky; the backing is (center) Boxing Plaid, (skinny border) Intertwining Chevron crimson, ( the outer border is no longer carried); the sand is Mirage carmel;  binding is Intertwining Chevron charcoal. All of these fabrics were bought from Connecting Threads.

All of the creatures and the sun were from my stash.

A starry night

I am entering this quilt into the fabulous Bloggers Quilt Festival, over at Amy’s Creative Side. Seriously, this is a wonderful place to find beautiful quilts, all in one place! I have entered this quilt into the category “Original Design” and the voting starts May 23. Be sure to visit all the ones you can an vote for your favorite. There are some sweet prizes up for grabs!!

Last fall, a friend of mine contacted me about making a quilt for her son and her daughter (which are also commissioned quilts). Each of them picked out the theme, with Mom adding her 2 cents, and I came up with the design. It took me quite a bit longer than I had first expected them to.

For her daughter, she wanted a hunting owl, a sleeping animal, orange and yellow stars in the sky, leaves blowing in the wind, and a boat in a distant lake. Here is the rough draft I cam up with :

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Owls hunt in the evening/night, but instead of having a boring sky of just one color, I decided to have a gradient of blue to give the illusion of an evening sky.  To give more depth and interest to the quilt, I wanted to add hills to the landscape. They had gentle slopes, so I was sure they wouldn’t be difficult to piece. Hehehe, famous last words, right?

I wanted this quilt to be the most durable it could be and I didn’t feel that applique would offer that. The only other option was paper piecing the critters. Trouble was, there wasn’t much in the way of patterns for the critters I wanted. So I turned to 2 sources: Quilt Assistant (a free downloadable program) and my computer-savvy husband. With the Quilt Assistant program, you can open any picture of your choice, make the needed sections for paper piecing, then print them out (that is a bit simplified, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really easy). I was a bit nervous, as you might imagine, never drafting my own pattern before and it was quite a learning curve! By the 4th pattern or so, I could look at a picture and know the best way to segment it and label it.  (Some of these pieces, however, were images from Pinterest by other people and they were paper pieced already. So I just had to follow the seams to make my lines. Try as I may, I couldn’t find the original source for these patterns. If anyone knows of those sources, please tell me! I want to give credit where credit is due!!)

Here is the moon that we found (this is the 2nd moon. The first just did not pass any kind of test what-so-ever!).

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The stars are blocks, pieced the traditional way. I found the tutorial here.

The owl was interesting to piece. This was one of the first pattern I printed out and….well, I didn’t know what I was doing! I figured it out, though, and most likely did things very unconventionally. His eyes are 2 little black buttons.

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The deer was the 2nd critter to make an appearance.  I’m happy with how she turned out. Her “skin” is from a suede skirt, so it’s nice and soft.

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Next up, we have our adorable sleeping fox. This one was fairly easy to do, since it had big pieces to it. The hardest part was coming up good looking oranges from my stash for his fur (orange is a color sorely lacking on my shelves). The green looks quite gray in this picture, not sure why. The green with our little deer turned out just fine.

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Of course, our owl needs to have something to hunt. This cute little mouse fills that role nicely! I found a large wiggly eye button in my stash for her eye.

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The sun is one of the patterns from The New York Beauty block-along, done with Sarah from Sew Sweetness. I believe my sun came from The Littlest Thistle. I wanted this to be a setting sun, so only half of the block was made.

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For the boat, I decided on a little house boat, complete with a little girl peeking out of the window. I found this pattern here.

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After the top was complete, but before it was quilted, my friend contacted me and told me that she wanted more of a burgundy/merlot color instead of the pink. Definitely not what any quilter wants to hear! I was so amazed at how difficult it was to find a burgundy/merlot colored fabrics that’s not a solid! Here is what it looked before the change.

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While looking around for a good burgundy/merlot print, I wasn’t liking how the colors were going to mesh. The trees and green flowers (seen best with the boat photo above) would be fine, but I wasn’t liking how the multi print (seen best in the sun photo above) would look with such a dark color. I decided to change both the pink and the multi print fabrics at the same time.

I was apprehensive about how the burgundy/merlot print would look, but once it was here, I loved it! As you can see, I put the darker burgundy/merlot print in the back, for I was concerned that such a dark color would overwhelm the quilt. I bought a sweet warm yellow print to replace the multi print. Here is the after picture.

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Now for the quilting.

I did it all on my machine, a Sewstrong 8700, and had So. Much. Fun!

In the green, I did a simple meander with echo-type flowers.

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In the hills, I quilted dragon flies and daisies.

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I quilted simple peaked waves for the water. And in the sky, I quilted around each star, quilted more stars, quilted the wind, and added in fluffy clouds.

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For the back, I wanted to create a more neutral palette and my friend wanted some leaves in fall colors.  I appliqued them on in  a wind-blown look.

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I am glad to report that the whole family loves what I did. I’m quite proud of it myself. Winking smile In fact, there were a few times through out the designing and piecing and quilting stage, that I thought to myself, “Perhaps I do have some skill after all.” We are always far more critical of our own work, aren’t we?

Quilt stats: 

Size: 83” x 85”

Designed: by me

Quilted: by me

Quilt fabrics: (from top to bottom of sky):  rich navy, Persian blue, patriot blue, blue, bluebird, sky from Connecting Threads; the hills are: Dreaming in Pearle in Merlot, Bed of Daisies in Golden, Whispering Trees in Poppy, (I can’t remember what that green floral is); the water is a Batik Dreamscape Mystic from Connecting Threads; the green is Mirage Clover from Connecting Threads; the binding is Little Stars is Navy from Connecting Threads; and the back fabrics are a very soft  flannels (from top to bottom) cream, fawn,  and pioneer and the leaves are a Batik Aurora Heatwave all from Connecting Threads.

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

My Weekender bag tips (and bag #5!)

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I have made 5 of these wonderful bags ( #1, #4, #5. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of #2 {but it is made similar to this one, only with purple, green, and white} and I haven’t gotten around to getting a picture of #3)  so far and so I thought I’d write some tips and tricks that I have found to make this bag easier to conquer.

Before we start, there is something you should know about me: I’m cheap frugal.  I don’t have much to spend in the way of supplies (and if I had the income to dispose of, I’m not so sure I’d spend it on myself, anyway. Unless it’s to go out to eat. I LOVE eating out!). In light of my frugality, I did as much research about this pattern as I could. I found a Flickr forum that talked about how much supplies would cost to make on of these bags. That sum just blew my mind: $120! Are you serious?? On a bag??!

I knew there had to be a cheaper way and still make something beautiful. I’ve been sewing for a long time, and I’m not afraid to find different materials and ways to make something. Plus, I look at it as a challenge and I love me a challenge! Winking smile Once I had the pattern, I was able to lay it out, read it, and come up with a plan. By the way, I have yet to use all of the called-for supplies, too.

1. The patter calls for upholstery fabric, of medium weight. I have used quilting cotton in all of my bags, and they come out just fine. Believe it or not, 5 fat quarters are enough for the outside of the bag (not including the bottom) as seen in this bag:

As you can see in this picture, the red fabric starts just below the top of the pocket so the red is not seen. This is how you can get that front panel out of 1 fat quarter.

2. Heavy, sturdy interfacing works very well. I use Pellon 926W1 sew ins stabilizer with great results. Doing the quilt-as-you-go method also works very well, as seen in this bag:

3. If you are of average height or taller, you’ll want to add some length to your handles. If you are wanting to add a shoulder strap as well or instead, attach the strap below the zipper at the side pockets.

4. Using a zipper foot or a piping foot to attach the front panel to the zippered panel makes things a whole lot easier! But if you don’t have on of those, it can be done with a walking foot.

5. The pattern piece for the bottom I have found is 2” too short. Cutting it 8.5” x 18” took care of this problem. Also, I have found the side pockets to be too narrow, so I have added 1.5” to make it line up with the zippered panel.

6. Some people have used purse feet for the bottom, but that isn’t something I have wanted to invest it (yet). I do, however, have quite a bit of Cordura fabric (the material that is used in backpacks, semi-trailer tarps, and the like), so I have used that on the bottom of all my bags to help with waterproofing. You just never know where those bags are going to land!

7. The pattern says to make your own piping. There is only Walmart that has any type of craft supplies near us and they don’t carry piping cord. That leaves me with the pre-done stuff and 2 packages of that works fine. You can always cover it if you want a particular color or print to match your bag, like I did with these two bags:

Of course, you can always skip the piping, which looks fine too.

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8. Add your own flair to your bag! There are many different things you could do. Use twill tape for the handles,

or quilt them.

If you’d like a shoulder strap, try covering an one from an old bag (like the one with black piping, seen above) or make one of your own using whatever hardware you have laying around.

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You can make the lining match the bag perfectly or have it coordinate but not match.

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I have made these bags with both the plastic teeth zippers and the metal teeth ones (as seen 2 pictures up). It just depends on the look that you’re going for.

Sometimes, things happen that makes you look really good. Open-mouthed smile

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So there you have it, my tips and tricks. Don’t be afraid of this pattern. It can be done with a very modest budget (you might have everything you need already!) and you, too, can have a wonderful, huge bag! This grey bag was made as a diaper bag for a friend. The teal and red bag is my diaper bag and it makes a fabulous diaper bag!!

Did I mention it was huge?

I am linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a fabric addict!