Saturday, December 20, 2008


Winter doesn't officially start until tomorrow...
But after having 11+ inches dumped on our house, I'm willing to greet our great cold season a day early. And so are our little snowpuppies!

This is our first big storm since Kaya came to live with us. I was excited to see how she might react- and I was not disappointed!

Like I did as a child, she sees the snow as one huge excuse to romp and play... sticking her nose into the snow and tossing it upward with a swing of her head. She even got me & her big brother Zack to join in the fun. Usually he & I both prefer to stay inside where its warm and dry... enjoying the beauty of the snow- without all the cold...

But who can resist this face?!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sunflower Bag

Quite awhile go a friend of mine asked me to make her a bag... the catch? She wanted me to use an old family cross-stitch project as the center of the bag. Eeep.

It took me forever to work up the courage to start on the project- and even throughout, I was terrified of accidentally cutting into the cross-stitch (which is beautifully done, btw!). I even managed to do the whole thing in such a way that if they happen at any point to want to free the cross-stitch from the bag, they could without damaging it. That was important to me, just in case!

It also took me forever to figure out the right way to do the project... I didn't want to simply make a bag and sew the sunflower to the front... so I made a sort of quilt block out of the sunflower piece, and four pieces of fabric framing it. Corduroy, to be specific. I felt like the cross-stitch needed a heavier, more textured fabric for its frame.

I even branched out and used strap buckles for the first time... once I started the whole bag sort of designed itself in my mind, and then went off without a hitch. I am so pleased with the result!!

Monday, December 15, 2008


Things are always hardest around the holidays, I find. Its like taking all of the stress in your everyday life and turning it up a notch.

And then turning it up another notch.

I saw this photo today, and fell in love... its by Robert Socha Photography. Available on etsy,
The title says it all, I think...


Thursday, December 11, 2008

An early gift...

The holiday season is alive and well in our house tonight... egg nog, Christmas shows...

And a puppy just begging for an early gift...

Luckily I was prepared, and pulled out a little stuffy with "Naughty" on one side, "Nice" on the other. Guess which side Kaya preferred?

But doesn't she look appreciative? What a smile!

But she spent all day playing in doggy daycamp- and care barely muster the energy to play with her new toy...

Good thing it functions as a pillow too...

Sweet dreams!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Felted Gnome

Kate over at two little banshees felted this little dude recently...

I'm just head over heels for him... I'm also half-convinced I could head out into the woods of my backyard and find one of these guys hiding among the mosses... anyone up for a hike?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Brick Path Quilt

Today was the first significant snowfall of the year... the this is the view from my craft studio window...

The perfect afternoon for some quilting... which I haven't had time to do since I finished my "Apples and Pears" baby quilt last weekend (which the recipient seemed to adore, btw)...

This quilt is going to be a Christmas gift, if I can get it done in time... the finished size will be around 6 feet square... my largest project so far, by far!

Its a collection of Amy Butler's Daisy Chain fabrics... using her free Brick Path Quilt pattern.

I've been waiting to try this one out for awhile now... but man, it is large... I finished all of the cutting and about half of the piecing today... the countdown to Christmas has begun!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

FINISHED!!!! (with pattern link & review)

I've finished it!!! The baby quilt I started on November 16th (two weeks is a record time for me, btw, nothing like quilting on a tight schedule!)... is officially done!

In case you haven't been following from the beginning, it is the quilt pattern from oh fransson that I first introduced here. I just love how it turned out, and I recommend it to anyone (especially since at the "download and print it yourself" price, its a steal!).

The piecing was very forgiving- the pattern actually calls for 1/2 an inch to be cut from each side of each block after its been stitched together- and I found this completely negated any little issues I had with matching up my pieces exactly. I may even try to work this trick into any future quilts I make...

The binding is the best I've ever done- but it was the one part of the quilt I didn't enjoy doing- as I had to finish it by hand. Terrible on the fingers- but it just looks so professional and gorgeous- I can't come up with a better way!

Oh... and one significant change I made to the instructions was the back. The original calls for you to quilt the top to just the batting, and then add a super-soft
minky backing to the quilt when you add the binding. Since I've recently gained access to a long-arm quilting machine that requires a three-part sandwich (and won't let me just quilt the top to the batting), I decided to do mine in the more traditional style. I'm sure the minky back would have been great though. I also skipped the applique because I didn't want to either quilt over the design- or stitch it on after I quilted and have the stitches show through to the back. This issue doesn't come up if you use the originally minky-backed pattern!

The one change I might consider for future quilts is adding 1/4 inch to the sides of the blocks that end up on the edges of the quilt. I know its such a little thing that would add SO much confusion to the cutting and piecing stages- but I don't love that the blocks around the outer edge end up with one side thinner then the others... am I just being WAY too picky?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My next project...

Only an hour or two from finishing my current quilt... and I'm already prepping my fabric for the next one...

This one will be based on Alexander Henry's "2D Zoo"... such a cute & fun fabric!


Man do I hate sewing by hand...

But the results on my binding are just so very worth it...

Much better then I could have done by machine... so my fingers will pay the price- ouch!


Yesterday I was lucky enough to have three fabulous & crafty ladies over for an afternoon of food, fun, and of course, crafts!

Tracy, Nici (of ArtShapedWorld) and I made faux-quilted holiday ornaments from scrap fabric & styrofoam balls...

As Nici demonstrates here, the first step is to use a sharpie to divide your ball into 8 wedges... then you use an exacto knife to make deep cuts on those lines...

Then you take your leaf-shaped piece of fabric and using the back of your knife, press it into the cuts you've made...

Tracy is showing us that here on her gorgeous ornament... I just loved this one, so retro-modern! The fabric she's using are all Chez Moi by Moda... and they match her shirt pretty well too!

When you're crafting, even a mess can look beautiful & inspiring!

Here are two of the ornaments that I made...

And the very talented Nici's collection! She's so great with embellishments!

Sarah was working on some crocheted Christmas gifts...

Some very lucky recipients if you ask me... can you believe she only picked up her first hook this past summer?

Friday, November 28, 2008

How I spent "Black Friday"...

Almost finished now... just the binding to go.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm thankful for these cookies...

Sure, they’re delicious. They’re soft and moist and oh-so-chocolately. But that’s not why they make me so very thankful.

These cookies are a (secret) family recipe- specifically my boyfriend’s mother’s recipe. And I’m thankful because my wonderful boyfriend (of just over two years) has come into my life, cookie recipe in hand, and made it better. In fact, he’s made it amazing, wonderful & perfect.

And so these cookies, once served only at his own family’s holidays, have now started making appearances at my family celebrations. My father, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmother- they all enjoy these delicious treats, and as they do, our families are brought together. My family becomes his, and his becomes mine. We all become connected.

Just another way my life is sweeter since he came along.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thank you so much!!!

Thank you all for encouraging me to move forward with this quilt... after a couple days of soul searching, I decided that so many experienced crafters can't be wrong! Besides, I really do love this quilt, and I'm now quite sure that its my love for it that is making me second and third guess myself...

Nonetheless- I went ahead tonight and sewed those blocks together and now it is looking just gorgeous!!

So thank you all for your support, opinions and comments. I appreciate them all so much!

Oh, and when is blogger going to come up with a fix and make it easier to actually reply personally to all the great comments I get?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Need Your Opinion! Please?

So here is where my "Simple Modern Baby Quilt" is right now... the "wait and see" stage. Thats the point that I've finished all my piecing, and I lay the quilt out with the squares in the proper order. Then I come back periodically over the course of a couple days or a week and decide how I feel about it. I find that directly after spending hours and hours cutting and piecing, my view is different then it will be after I wait a bit and come back to it.

Unfortunately, I never get to see it through the eyes of someone who isn't me... which is where you come in... I need an honest opinion before I commit these squares to my quilt. Its meant as a gift- so I want it to be a nice as possible. The thing I'm having trouble with tonight is the light pink blocks I have around the main "Apples & Pears" fabric. Is it the wrong shade of pink? Do I need to go darker? Pinker? As long as the comments are constructive, I'm happy to accept some criticism.

Please share your thoughts!! Thank you!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My First Quilting Lesson!!!

Today I headed out to my neighborhood quilting shop- Jigglestitch, where I had scheduled a lesson on their giant sewing machine, the HQ Sixteen. Talk about intimidating- compared to this thing, my little home Janome is teeny tiny.

The lesson started with about an hour of cleaning the machine, threading the machine, and setting up the three layers of my quilt. I know it was all necessary- but imagine the anticipation, by the time we turned it on, I was really chomping at the bit!!

Its different then normal machines in that you lay your quilt material out, and then move the actual sewing machine around it, instead of vice versa. Its steered using two handles (an upper or lower set, depending on what kind of design you're doing). The whole thing just sort of floats along, and its kind of disconcerting at first- but I got it after a short while. You can set up a laser-pointer on top of the machine and use it to trace out designs, or you can use a special set of plates and a kind of stylus that moves within grooves in the plates. I also know the computer part mounted on top of the machine can do a number of automatic things- but they weren't covered in my lesson.

I was concerned at first that all the real "hands on" things I love about sewing would be too automated with this machine. For that reason- I sort of really dislike the plate & computer methods. I like to work directly on my quilt- not on plates, or worse, let the computer do everything for me. So unsurprisingly, I really took to the free motion quilting. It was very similar to quilting on my home machine. Just much, much easier.

My first attempts at free motion quilting were all about getting a feel for the weight and movement of the machine.

My doodling skills were put to great use here...

I couldn't get over how much freedom of movement I had!!

I took to meandering (or stippling) really quickly... and it was my favorite thing to do, both in practice and results. It was sort of zen, just doodling around and around, making loops and lines... and I think it really looks great! I can't wait to try it on a real quilt.

This was some more random practice- trying to make some really tiny designs using the lower handles on the machine.

And here is my full finished practice quilt (five hours of work!). I'm feeling pretty proud of myself, I may even give this monstrosity a binding and hang it up on my wall for the sake of posterity. Besides, it sort of makes me giggle!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Adorable Drawstring Pouch w/Carrying Strap

Here is a cute little bag tutorial for you, created by orange flower... I haven't tried it yet, but the instructions look super-easy to follow (lots of great photos!), and as you can see below, the bag is just adorable!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Du nähst wirklich wunderschöne Sachen!!!

A comment left on my blog recently, translating from German into the English "You sew really beautiful things!!!".

I never really thought about how crafting overcomes language barriers... but I've seen enough gorgous fabrics from across the world to know that whether its schön, όμορφος, bello, 美しい, bonito, hermoso or beau... this stuff is beautiful in any language.

I know that "Elemental" has some pretty dedicated fans in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, New Zealand, Brazil, Spain, Oman, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Malaysia, Greece, Singapore, Bulgaria, Argentina, Turkey, Isreal, Finland & Mexico... and I just wanted to give a big "Hello!" to everyone out there that is visiting, linking and commenting. I'm so glad to have you as my guests!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Simple Modern Baby Quilt Weekend...

Well, I didn't lock myself in the craftroom ALL weekend (just a good chunk of it)... and I didn't quite FINISH the Simple Modern Baby Quilt (just a good chunk of it). Two of the main colors are pink and green... you can see some of my cut squares here waiting to be stitched together.

I really need to learn to read instructions more carefully before I begin- I wasted a couple hours cutting 12 of each square, when I only needed 6. Oh well, maybe I'll make a second quilt with them someday!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rainy Day Quilting

Spent part of this rainy day in my craft studio... quilting up some adorable baby bibs. They're not quite finished yet- but I do hope to have them up on etsy soon!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Heather Mulder Peterson Patterns

Here is someone I just happened up on in a post at Craftgossip... her name is Heather Mulder Peterson, and apparently she just came out with some new patterns. Well, I wasn't even aware of her old patterns, until now. Oh Heather- where have you been all my life?! I love these!!! You can pick them up here. She also has an excellent blog that I'll be sure to add to my lists...


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