Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Elephant Quilt

My cousin is about to have a little girl ... when I asked her what she wanted in a quilt ... she replied, "I'm thinking sunshine yellow and maybe some various shades of green (spring, lime, etc.). I know a lot of people are pairing yellow and gray but I'm going for a warmer palette -- cream and natural browns instead of gray.   I'm doing a mix of animals for a motif (I am doing a project where I am framing various animal drawings with their "plural" names, e.g. "a parade of elephants").  We do have a chocolate brown rocking chair from K's grandma so trying to find a way to tie that in, too"

So that ... was the basis for this quilt.

The color palette and new fabric:

I do believe I made a couple of tweaks on the fabric as I couldn't find everything I was looking for.  With no LQS yet located near me ... I was pushed online to buy my solids.  I started at, but they are now charging a 50% premium for 1/2 yard cuts over their full yard prices ... while I appreciate why they have done this, the reality is I can't afford it and I didn't need 10 yards of greens and yellows to add to the stash.  So I went over to who actually had a better selection of Kona solids and had a lower price per yard.  If I can't buy local, I am going to go for the lowest price.

Elephant Quilt Applique
The elephants were appliqued on.  While, I like the look, it definitely creates a shift in how the fabric feels after it's complete ... stiff.  Hopefully that will settle down after a little while.

The back is pieced ... a few prints from the stash for a little interest.  I had a diagonal cut piece of material that I had used before to make some bias.  I thought that it would carry the diagonal theme from the front ... it's OK ... but I wouldn't do it again if I had an option.

I am pleased with those points however!  And you can see that I went with a meandering quilt stitch.  I really debated this one ... I wanted to straight line ... but am still perfecting that approach and didn't want to risk it on this one.  And I do love that crinkled look you get with the meandering stitch.

The binding was in the stash & I'm not sure I have the name of the print.  It was machine finished with mitered corners.  

Quilt by the numbers:

  • Finished quilt dimensions:  A generous 40" x 48"
  • ~ 1/3 yard each of Kona solids + 2 yards of the pale yellow (Kona Meringue).  
Because I had purchased 1/2 yard amounts, I had enough to make a slightly smaller one which I have done the straight line quilting on the diagonal and have put in my Etsy shop.  I actually prefer the straight-line quilting ... I think it goes better with the design.  And I prefer the back on the shop quilt.

I did have a couple of learnings from this effort which I will share next week ... and a few questions for you talented quilters to help me with ...

Hope all is well with you and yours.

All the best,

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Good neighbors ...

Those of you that follow know that we live in the boonies ... beautiful boonies ... but middle of nowhere.  John moved out here permanently in June 2015 as we sold the Seattle house and I followed in mid-February this year as I retired.  

His first 6 months were spent building a shed (the kayak shack -- or "the shack" as it's now known) and then parlaying those skills into building a quilting studio (which still remains nameless) for me!  

While he did 95% of the work himself ... he had sage advice from a great neighbor, Jim, who helped him think through various aspects and was indispensable when it came to putting both roofs on ... literally climbing up to help (who knew I was afraid of heights ???).

This quilt ... the first one out of the new studio ... is for Jim and his wife Diane.  To thank them for being such amazing neighbors.  

I wanted something that was a bit more traditional and settled on a patchwork ... but still wanted to lend a touch of modern to it ... and I love "white space".  So I landed on a design put about half the squares into a neutral Kona ash. 

My process was to cut 198 3.5" squares.  Then stitch them together is pairs and then, for the most part, stitch the pairs to a solid piece of the same size, creating a block.  The finished quilt is 18 rows by 22 columns.  

As usual, Madigan had to get her first lie on it once I laid it on the floor to square it off.  

You can't really tell by these photos, but I quilted it on the diagonal both ways ... probably my straightest lines yet, so the 3.5" squares were small enough for my vision to follow and not have to mark where to sew.

I did a mixed binding and a pieced back.  

John (on roof) and Jim finishing up the roof on the quilting studio.  

Hope all is well with you and yours!

All the best

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Placemats v2

The placemats were such a big hit ... I went ahead and made a 2nd set for a birthday present for another friend.   

Again, using the tutorial from CoopCrafts, I made a second set.  A couple of modifications this time:

  • I left the rectangular instead of creating them in oval ... certainly a bit easier to bind this way.
  • Instead of using a neutral (read gray) binding to tie them all together ... I used an Anna Maria Horner print, Crescent Bloom in Tangerine.  
  • I opted for a single print for the backs, instead of having a coordinated back for each color palette.  

The theory on the matched backs is that they could be a reversible set ... great in theory, but not sure that this was the print that would be able to carry it off ... oh well, another lesson learned.

I also got practice at machine mitering my corners ... getting better ...

Again ... going to be delivered to another friend who truly appreciates hand crafted and never sees the flaws (don't you just love those types of friends)?  

And while I got creative in the studio ... my better half tested out his new cord to connect the Mac to the TV to watch his beloved Six Nations Rugby match (England v Wales) via live streaming.  You can take the boy out of England ... but he WILL find away to watch his rugby. 

Hope all is well with you and yours!

All the best

Thursday, March 10, 2016

IKEA Billy bookcase do's and don'ts ...

Well ... I haven't been quilting ... because I have been building bookcases!  Thought I might share a few do's and don't for those of you who are considering trying an Ikea hack.  First ... I DO recommend doing it ... you can get some great looking shelves for a fraction of the cost of custom ... however, don't do what I did ...

But before the story ... a finished picture or two.

Installed bookcase
base of bookcase
As many of you know, we have recently moved and made our vacation home our permanent residence.  When we originally built, we had intended to build in bookcases in the small vestibule between our dining room and master bedroom.  However, as usually happens in new construction, budget limitations at the end meant something had to go ... and it was our bookcases.

I had been perusing Pinterest since we moved out here and had seen a number of Ikea Billy bookcase hacks and was smitten.  The relative low cost of Ikea coupled with a few pieces of trim and it could work pretty well.  So one rainy day a couple of weeks ago we hooked the utility trailer up to the car and made the 2-hour drive to Ikea.  After an hour shopping and another hour waiting in line to get out (not our most favorite shopping experience) ... we were on our way home with what we needed to build the main book case, plus a smaller one for my quilting studio.

I set to work right away ... turning the dining room table into paint central, I painted the backs with Red Cent (SW6341) which is the color that we have used on accent walls our entryway and guest room.  I painted the rest Navajo White (SW6126) to match the trim throughout the house.

It was pretty easy to paint prior to putting together.  I did two coats and the next day, we started to install them in the hall.  Which is when we noticed that all we needed to do was touch them, and the paint was chipping/scratching off ... whaaaat!!!!

I got back online and Googled "painting Ikea cabinets" ... oops ... looks like you can't paint directly on top of melamine/laminate ... that was a painful learning experience.  The following picture is my husband sanding 100% of the paint off that I had so carefully put on.  I was not amused. 

Here are two links to good articles on how to do it right ... here and here.  Sanding helps ... but the real trick is the primer ... this stuff is GOLD!!!  Zinsser BIN Shellac-based Primer ... do not try anything else ... there's no point ... this is the stuff.  It's not cheap ... we paid just over $40 for a gallon of it at Lowes ... but I put two coats on everything and didn't even use a fifth of the can.  I just rolled it on with a sponge roller as I did with the rest of the paint.

Anyway ... let's just say if you're going to paint the back of your cabinets red (or any different color for that matter), it is a whole lot easier to do it before you assemble the cabinets.  We had already nailed the trim on ... so that was no longer an option.  

The other key to making this work, from my perspective at least, is the baseboard.  We have 5.5" baseboards throughout our house, so the cabinets had to be built up on a wooden platform so that they could carry the higher trim at the bottom.  But as you can see in the photos, the baseboard trim goes a long way to making these cases look custom.

Final note, if you use your own door handles, I would recommend only using ones that require one screw.  That hole is nearly pre-drilled all the way through.  We had some extra pulls hanging around that required two holes it was not as easy as we had anticipated.  We made it work, but in retrospect, I might have gone and bought two knobs ... but I really didn't like the ones that came with the doors. 

In the end, we have gained a TON of storage space for just under $400 (see costs below).  The cabinet doors hide the not-so nice looking books, magazines and papers and I am thrilled to have this project behind us and am ready to move on to the next one ... installing an Ikea butcher-block counter top (picked up at the same time) as my sewing table in the studio!

By the numbers:
  • 1 BILLY book case 31.5 x 11 x 79.5" = $70
  • 2 BILLY book cases 15.75 x 11 x 79.5" = $100
  • 2 BILLY height extension 31.5 x 11 x 13.5" = $40
  • 1 BILLY height extension 15.75" x 11 x 13.5" = $15
  • 2 OXBERG Door 15.75" x 38/25" = $80
  • Primer = $40
  • Sandpaper/tack cloth/rollers/paint liners = $20
  • Wood trim pieces = $24
  • Red Cent paint sample size = $6
  • Navajo White paint & door knobs already had in the garage = $0
Total cost $395.

Hope all is well with you and yours!

All the best

Friday, March 4, 2016


We are headed into Seattle this weekend as John is running the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon (which he last ran 2 years ago when I threw his 70th birthday surprise party).   We are staying at our friends house where I hosted the birthday brunch that year.  I wanted to take her a small gift to say thanks ... and found a lovely placemats with a tutorial on Pinterest from Coop Crafts.

Quilted patchwork placemats
While they are easy to make ... I would add that it did take about 2 hours per placemat ... so not quite as simple as I guess I had anticipated ... but what a great scrap buster!

I did the packs in coordinating prints that matched the color theme from the front of each.  Perhaps the one thing I would have done differently is to have done the backs all in the same print so that they would be reversible ...

Using Sarah's tutorial ... I started by mining the scrap bin for 2.5" or larger pieces.  

Then I created 4 different color pallets ... her 3-year-old daughter must have everything pink ... so, of course, that was one of the color pallets that I chose.  I did mine a bit more random that Sarah did hers as I suspect my color assortment wasn't as well stocked.

Her table is round, so I deviated from Sarah's plan and created a cardboard template from an oval placemat that I had.

I then used the template to mark and cut the placemats into 4 equal ovals.

I used a black and white pin stripe as a neutral binding on the four, first cutting the binding on the bias using this tutorial and cutting the strips 2.25".  I was a bit nervous, but with a little clipping at the curves, it actually went on quite evenly AND easily.

I will definitely make them again ... but perhaps allow a little more time ;-)

Hope all is well with you and yours ...

All the best,

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Vivienne's Quilt

Vivienne's mom, Shyla, spent some time with my Kona solid color swatches and picked out the color palette for her daughters quilt ... 

Things kinda got busy at work (fortunately, I work with Shyla ... so she gets it) but I did finally get started on the actual quilt in November (at least it was in Vivienne's birth year ;-).  One delay led to another until ... well, until this was finally delivered in time for Vivienne's 5-month birthday ...

The solids that she chose were:

The solids were her choice and then I added a few coordinating prints from my stash.  

What I found difficult about this effort was that Shyla is a designer ... not a quilt designer, but an extremely talented designer who worked in the marketing department of my former employer.  She had even done a few things on the side for me ... designing my quilt label as well as the T-Shirts for my husbands 70th birthday surprise party (needless to say, neither of these efforts do anything to help you understand how talented she truly is).

But designing a quilt for a designer is VERY hard work ... I was filled with angst about whether she would like the design.  

Shyla was creating a diagonal patchwork quilt for her older daughter ... so as we spent time at the white board talking through actual construction techniques, I learned a bit more about her likes and dislikes and settled for this relatively simple pattern.  

And it turns out she likes one-piece backs (well that was easy!!!).

In the end ... she loved it and is now proud to own two quilts from me ... the other I made for her older daughter's new toddler bed to say thank you for the work that Shyla had done for me.  

Hope all is going well for everyone out there.

All the best

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Labor of Love ... the new Quilting Studio

As we made the decision last winter to sell the Seattle house and move to our cabin at Hood Canal ... I only had one concern ... our small foot-print, single-level cabin didn't have a place that I could dedicate to quilting.  

We looked at a number of online alternatives to buy a pre-built building ... but the costs were beyond what we were prepared to spend. 

Enter my amazing husband ... he knew that we needed a shed to store the kayaks among other things ... so he volunteered to build the shed first and then parlay what he learned on that into building a quilting studio.  Who could argue with that ?!?!?

"Back-yard" Quilting Studio
Right now, the plan is for the cutting table to go under the two windows and the sewing table under the smaller window.

Quilting Studio
There are 4 windows as well as the window in the door ... it should have great light!

The floor is Maui White Washed Oak by Hampton Bay (Home Depot).  Both paints are by Sherwin WIlliams.  The walls are Shiitake (SW9173) and the trim is Navajo White by (SW6126).  

So while I have been wrapping up work in Seattle ... my husband has been building me a quilting studio out here ... it is actually hard to put into words how much that means to me.

We partnered on the floor installation for the past two days and he wrapped up the trim yesterday.  It's done!

A couple of pics of the process ... it started with this.

The Creator!!!
The outside is still in "construction mode" and probably will remain just wrapped in paper until the rain lets up a bit.  

Hopefully the rain will let up enough tomorrow for us to move some of the furniture in (we desperately need to get our garage cleaned out ;-).   I am probably a week away from starting to get creative in here ... but I am looking forward to years to come !!! 

Hope all is well out there for all of you!

All the best


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