Thursday, December 21, 2017

I love making Christmas presents for the family!  Last year it was placemats and potholders and this year it's pillows!

I had the opportunity to take a quilting class with Katie in October and really liked the pillow forms that she was using ... she shared that she buys them at Garnet Hill.  Waiting patiently, I was able to pick them up some of the 18" x 18" down-filled pillows on sale for $13.50 each (25% off their list price of $18). 

She also introduced me to the beauty of Essex Linen ... which by-the-way ... I LOVE!!!  And set out to design some pillow covers that didn't look "home made".

The first pillow was light on quilting but had some geometric chops (my favorite!). 

Then, delighted to find a zipper tutorial that has to be the easiest zipper install EVER ... the backs of the pillows got a little visual punch with a contrasting strip that covers the zipper.

I then created a few different neutral versions with just enough quilting to give them a finished look, but not too much to make it look to crafty.

But then ... I got another idea ... why not make some additional pillow covers?

Holiday Pillow Covers Front

Settling on the holiday theme (they are Christmas presents after all) Rudolph (with his red nose) and Christmas Trees seemed appropriate.  I was able to pick up a reindeer silhouette on Etsy for $2.35 that I printed out at 140% to create the template for the cut out for the pillows. The Christmas tree was inspired by this Instagram post.  The backs were made with the same zipper tutorial as the fronts.

Holiday Pillow Covers Back
I shipped the pillows to their recipients with the Holiday covers on them ... and then in a separate package that will go under the tree, I included the folded up covers that they will be able to use the other 11 months out of the year.

In addition to using high-quality down pillow inserts that are super comfortable, I am really happy with the decor pillow covers!

The elf shop is closed for the season and I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

All the best

Blue Offset Diamond Baby Quilt

Friday, December 15, 2017

I just received a commission order from a friend for her new niece and nephew ... twins!

We spent a little time with my Kona color chart and she came up with the following palette ... the blues on the left are for the little boy and the lavenders on the right for the her niece ... she wants to have a pop of Sprout green in each.

I am still thinking through design plans for hers ... but have started on his.  I sketched out the what I want for his.  Wider strips of blues with narrower strips of white in an offset diamond pattern comprised of HSTs.

It's a variation on the a baby quilt I made several years ago for a friend. 

Today I got all 252 squares up on the design wall.

I used different white neutrals in the rows of white instead of a solid color.  I did this on my Rainbow of Color quilt earlier this year and felt it really calmed the pattern down.  I loved how it softened the rows.  I didn't understand why I liked it ... but then someone explained that it was because it added texture ... which it definitely did.

Hope to get it pulled together this weekend and finish designing the second quilt.

Whilst I've been busy with holiday presents and these commissions, John was equally busy in the house with his latest Ikea hack from Billy bookcases.  We learned our lesson last year on our first  book case hack (see our do's and don'ts here) and he used primer on all the surfaces before paining it to match our woodwork and a contrast color on the back panel.  It came out pretty good ... a custom look at a fraction of the price.

Hope everyone has had a great week out there ...

All the best,

Sail boat quilt

Sunday, December 3, 2017

My husband has 6 grandchildren!  I prefer to say it that way than to say I am a step-grandmother ...

This quilt is off to the youngest for Christmas ...

Eric, just turned 1 in September.  His mom let me know about 9 months ago that she was going with a nautical theme in his bedroom.  Once I clarified that meant boats not fish (duh) and the colors she was using ... I started trying to come up with design ... and boy did I struggle!  My Pinterest board is filled with about 30 different options.  I knew that I didn't want to do applique, but was struggling to find a way to piece it that I would result in a design that I was happy with.

Then one day, I came across this fabric online ... I was so excited to have found what I KNEW would be the whole-cloth back.  When it arrived in the mail a few weeks later, I was totally disappointed to discover that I have purchased decorator weight ... not quilting cotton.

In the end, I decided to go with it anyway ... I used the fabric as inspiration for the front.  And was able to make a simple pieced front that still passed my design sensibilities.

I had recently taken a course in straight-line quilting and had also just bought the book Walk by Jacquie Gering (which is worth it's weight in gold!) and wanted to try it out a bit on here.  I started with the large sail and went at an angle in the right angle portion ... I have a Juki and a not-so-great walking foot, which meant that if I didn't want to mark it, I would be stuck with 3/8" quilting lines.  I started it that way, but in the end, felt that with the heavier weight back, that would simply make the quilt too stiff.

Decided to go ahead and leave in the 3/8" that I had done ... it doesn't detract and brings a little texture & differentiation to the straight lines that I ended up with placing at 3/4" spacing for the rest of the quilt.  For the water, I used the first free-motion quilting technique that I ever learned, I don't know what it's called, but it's from the Plain Spoken quilt in Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr's "the Modern Quilt workshop" book.  I think that it gives it a bit of movement like ripples.

The binding was simple, I just used the same Kona gray that I had used for the body of the boat, with a little bit of patterned print on one side to break it up.

Overall ... I am pleased that I tackled and accomplished something that I had struggled to get started on for quite a few months ... it's been washed a couple of times and has softened up a little, although it will always remain a bit stiffer due to the decorator fabric on the back < sigh >.

It will go in the mail on Tuesday and I hope it puts a smile on mom and baby's faces on Christmas morning.

Well ... I am now off to attend a forum to learn more about the impact the proposed tax legislation will have on my health insurance and small business ...

Hope all is well out there with everyone!

All the best,

Quilted Coaster Tutorial

Sunday, October 8, 2017

As I shared last week, quilted coasters and pot holders, have turned my favorite hostess gift.  

Here are the ones that I will be tucking into my suitcase next week to take with me on on my trips.  

You can also get a little creative with them ...

So here's what you will need to make your own:

Top -- 4 - 5"x5" pieces of cut fabric for the top
Bottom -- 4 - 5"x5" pieces of cut fabric for the bottom
Insulbrite -- 4.5" x 20" piece
Thread -- coordinating or contrasting, depending on your mood.

Step 1:

Cut your fabric.  You can use the same fabric for the top and bottom, two different fabrics, or for that matter 8 different fabrics if you choose.  Up to you.  But you will need 8 pieces of 5" x 5" fabric cuts for the top and bottom of your coasters. 

Step 2:  

Cut 4 pieces of InsulBrite.  Here you are going to use a slightly different dimensions.  The InsulBrite pieces will be 5" x 4.5" (that is not a typo ... leave 1/2" off of one of the sides).

I use InsulBrite instead of batting as I feel it provides a bit more heat protection for furniture when used with hot mugs.  But this may be personal opinion rather than fact, so if you have scraps of batting you would like to use up, this may be a good project for them instead of InsulBrite.  
Note:  For those of you who aren't familiar with Insulbrite, it is a mylar-based fabric that reflects heat.  Think of those thin metal like blankets that are used in emergencies with some fiber on either side.  

Step 3:

Lay a square of the top fabric face down and lay a piece of InsulBrite on top of it.  It doesn't matter which side of the InsulBrite is facing the fabric as the coasters are reversible.  Remember, the fabric is 5" square and the InsulBrite is 5" x 4.5", so you will have extra fabric.  Fold the excess fabric over the InsulBrite and press it with your iron.

Step 4:

Lay the bottom piece of fabric next to the top piece and fold the fabric back on the bottom piece to match the fabric on the top piece.  Then put the top piece (with the InsulBrite) on top of the bottom piece, right sides together.  I like to use clips as opposed to pins to hold them together and not distort this tiny item.

Step 5:

Stitch around 3 sides of the coaster (leaving the part with the fabric folds open).  Make sure that you tack the beginning and end of your stitching so that it doesn't come apart when you turn it right-side-out.  

Step 6:  

Clip the two stitched corners of the coaster.  For the opening, I like to clip it from just outside the stitching and down to the end of the fold.  

Step 7:  

Turn the coaster right-side out.  Using something sharp in the corners to get the points out ... but be careful not to pierce the fabric.

Step 8:

Press the coasters on e they are right-side out at this point.  Top-stitch all the way around the outside of the coaster.  I top stitch 1/8" from the edge, or as close as you are comfortable.

At this point, you can choose what ever stitching you want to complete the coaster.  I am a linear kind of girl, so I simply stitch two boxes in the center of the coaster.  As can best be seen in the following photo.

Step 9:

Bundle 4 coasters together with a bit of ribbon, and you have a perfect hostess gift.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

All the best,


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Today is the final day ...

I have been overjoyed to see the response.  Thus far I have sold 3 baby quilts, 1 throw-size quilt, 2 sets of placemats, 1 table runner, a birthday banner and a set of potholders!

Inventory is dwindling and I didn't want to wait, given the challenges that Puerto Rico is facing.  So, proceeds thus far ($640!!!) have already been sent to Voices for Puerto Rico.

There are a few things let if you want to take a look ... again 100% of the purchase price is being donated to hurricane relief.

I have to end my offering because I will be traveling, but head on over to Amy at Diary of a Quilter where her offering will continue until Tuesday.

And, of course, direct donations to the Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity are also sorely needed.  


Hostess Gifts

Always looking for simple, but functional, hostess gifts.  Coasters & hot pads are now my go to gifts.

My love for coasters started last year when we were putting together Holiday Gifts for our neighbors.  We up-cycled some holiday mugs from Goodwill and filled them with John's homemade biscotti.

But I wanted something from my brand new quilting studio, that John had built, to go with them.  Then I got the idea for some coasters ... what better addition to a gift that includes a mug and biscotti?

So I made a few out of scrap Holiday fabric that I had from previous years.  I didn't make sets, just random fabric individual coasters which I then added to each of the mugs.  

We had a couple of friends we were going to see over the holidays, so I made up a few sets, of matching coasters ... and my obsession with fabric coasters had begun.

Not to be left out, I made a set of 6 for us.  Nine-months, and multiple washes, later, they are still holding up well and are used everyday in our home.

I am off to visit my mom next week and the week after that we will be staying a few days with a cousin (who already has some potholders from me & a quilt for that matter!), so I set about yesterday to put together a few new sets of coasters.

One thing I have learned based on using my own coasters is that the ones for coffee drinkers should be made out of darker fabric to keep them from becoming stained.  (My mom doesn't drink tea or coffee, so I was able to use lighter colors on hers as seen in the photo above).

I am putting together a tutorial on how to make this quick and easy hostess gift for those of you who are interested.  It's a great way to use of some holiday fabric scraps as there really is no need to have all 4 in a set match.  They just need to coordinate in color ... with green and red, that's pretty simple!

Stay tuned!

All the best,

Back to quilting ... a little ...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

It has been a busy, busy, busy year ...

We were able to take our T@b Trailer down to Arizona, New Mexico and Utah for the month of April ... S T U N N I N G ...  Personally, I think that ALL vacations going forward should include a trip to Utah!

May/June saw us off to the UK to visit my husbands family.  We did a week in England doing the friends and family routine and then spent 2 solid weeks roaming Scotland ... hiking and kayaking along the way ...

July found us off to Washington DC for my father's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery ... we lost him to Alzheimer's in September 2016, but had to wait our turn for him to be laid to rest with full honors at Arlington.

It seems like the rest of my time has been spent painting the house and making window awnings for T@b Trailer owners ...

But this week ... this week I actually got to make a quilt top!  It will remain unfinished until we return from our next T@b trip ... but I got it done and a couple of potholders for a hostess gift while we are on this trip.  

We are off to beautiful British Columbia on Saturday ... looking forward to more kayaking and hiking!

Hope everyone is having a GREAT summer.

All the best,

A quilt that came with learnings ...

Saturday, March 25, 2017

I know it's been a while ... sigh.

My T@b Window Awning business has actually done well and has taken up a bit of my time ... but the good news is has generated a little bit of money to fund my quilting obsession!

Many of you have seen this quilt before ... today is my 3rd (and final) version ...

This quilt, comes with a story that starts back in October 2015.

That month, a good friend turned 50 and John and I joined her and about 30 other friends in Palm Springs, CA to celebrate her birthday.  As I was still working, and living in a tiny apartment in Seattle, I hadn't been able to get any quilting done in advance for a birthday gift.  So when I retired, in the spring of 2016, one of the first things I did was start thinking through potential designs for a quilt for her.

Her house is quite eclectic and I didn't know where to start, so I decided to stick with the birthday theme (Palm Springs) and go with a mid-century modern approach.  I scoured the internet, looking primarily at mid-century modern blogs, hoping to get inspiration.  Ultimately, I landed on this image from this website.

There was no back link on the image and I assumed (perhaps hastily) that it was an "Eames inspired" image like the 50 Eames-inspired chairs that are ubiquitous.

I made the quilt, posted it and it's story on my blog and received an overwhelming response!

Because I was quite impressed with myself for having figured out the mental math gymnastics to actually produce this quilt and have all the lines match up ... I also created a tutorial for it as I made my second version ... again for a friends 50th birthday who has a mid-century modern home in Seattle.

I also listed the quilt in my Etsy shop as a custom option.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2016.  I received an communication on Etsy from an artist.  He shared his concerns with me that I was marketing his image that he had created and was selling in his Etsy shop.  I looked ... and sure enough, there it was, plain as day ...

I immediately took down all of my links, blog posts, IG and Pinterest photos and went back to figure out how this had happened.  Once I realized what I had done, I contacted him and shared what had happened.

Turns out he's a super nice guy, who was very understanding and considerate of what had happened.  He appreciated my pulling it down and offered to let me continue to make the quilt for my family and friends as gifts, just not in a manner where I profited from it or infringed on his copyright ... which was SUPER generous of him.

The one thing I can't fix, however, are the pics that people posted on Pinterest from my blog of the quilt.  So I continue to get inquiries from people who have looked through my blog and can't find anything on it.

Today, I completed the quilt for the last time ... it is, again, for the 50th birthday of a friend who actually lives in Palm Springs.  We will be visiting soon and I will take it with me on our trip.

So I thought it appropriate to post a few pics for Pinterest browsers who continue to look for it, to share the great shop of Thedor, the original creator of the image (he has tons of other beautiful images listed as well).  I also thought it worthy of time to share a little of my learnings.

  1. I looked on line for "inspiration".  But quite honestly, in the end, I didn't move that far off the image.  That may be fine for what my intended purpose was, a gift to a friend for her birthday.
  2. But, while it's not an exact "copy", I moved too far and too fast with an image to recreate and sell/market based on positive feedback from the crowd.  I still want to make a mid-century modern quilt for my shop ... but I need to take the time to make one that reflects my design ideas as they pertain to that period and isn't as reliant as this one was on a particular image that I had seen.
  3. I didn't do my homework.  I simply found an image I liked and when it wasn't back-linked, I went for it.  I now know that had I looked on Pinterest, I would have discovered that this was a well posted image and I would have quickly discovered who the rightful owner was.  
In the end, this quilt has gotten a good deal of well deserved attention -- it is a beautiful image and I encourage you all to look at the images in Thedor's shop.  It's also a lesson on how I need to be more focused on the artistry and originality of my work and take the time to do that properly.

I hope my learnings will help others as they navigate this "images are absolutely everywhere" world ... 

All the best,

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