Christmas finishes

A couple of special Christmas present finishes today:


First up, this adorable gnome pillow! The pattern is by Kristy at Quiet Play (maven of all things paper piecing). I actually first spotted it last week when Amanda at What the Bobbin? posted a test block she’d done for Kristy. I told Amanda I was in the market for just such a pattern and the next thing I knew Kristy sent it to me! Quilt friends! Gotta love ’em.

The gnome pattern isn’t available yet but you can find many other adorable paper-piecing patterns in her shop.

I used this great Anna Maria Horner print on the back.


A couple of little procedural tidbits you might find useful:

  • I implemented a couple of straight-line quilting tips Rachel at Stitched in Color posted last week:
    • start by quilting a loose grid and then gradually fill it in 
    • increase the stitch length to 3-4

She had other fantastic tips but those are the 2 that were new to me and that I specifically tested on this pillow. Now, obviously, a pillow is rather easier to quilt than a large quilt. But nonetheless I think my quilting results were improved and I’ll definitely be trying these tips again on a larger quilt soon.

  • I’ve been using 2 1/4 inch binding (rather than 2 1/2) when I do small projects like this and I think it’s rather nicer. It’s a small difference but I like it.
  • Purely hypothetically, a “friend” told me that if she (hypothetically) bled on this pillow it came out with a little scrub by a cold, damp cloth sprayed with Shout spray n’ wash. Purely hypothetically because I of course would never bleed on one of my projects. Ahem.

It should come as a surprise to no one that I also made another Noodle-head divided basket. I know. I love these!


I switched it up a little this time by using different fabrics for the front panel and pocket (last time they were constructed from the same fabric) and by using different fabrics on either side of the divider. You can see my previous version here.


I used mostly Anna Maria Horner fabrics because the recipient is a bit of a fan.

Once again, I lined the pocket.


I don’t know why I get so much joy out of that little detail.

I won’t be spending much time on the computer for the next couple of weeks, as I’m sure you guys won’t be either. I hope you have a very blessed holiday season and I can’t wait to sew with you again next year! In particular, I am very excited for you guys to quilt-a-long with me!

Here’s a recap of the schedule:

  • November /December – fabric requirements & selection
  • January 6 – cutting
  • January 13 – assembling the HSTs and hourglass unit
  • January 20 – assembling the strips
  • January 27 – piecing the X
  • February 3 – adding the top and bottom borders
  • February 10 – quilting & finishing
  • February 24 – final link party celebration (with at least one giveaway, possibly more!)

See you next year!

(Linking up with Crazy Mom and, appropriately, Kristy at Quiet Play for her Paper Piecing Party).

A lucky gal


Mr. Random spit out the number 41, and she’s one lucky Gail:

on December 9, 2013 at 10:25 am 

I started a Noodlehead divided basket and messed it up, so I ended up using the fabric for other crafts. I need to try again!

Yay for you Gail! I think the universe definitely wants you to try this basket again.

I’ve sent Gail an email and will get the basket off to her right away. Thanks so much for all the entries (422)! This has been so fun that I’m sure I’ll be doing another giveaway soon, maybe as part of the Barn door quilt-a-long in January/February.

My favorite finish so far

I love this quilt.


As soon as Rachel started posting sneak peaks of the projects for her penny sampler class (now available as an ebook), I knew I would be first in line.

I learned a lot of new skills and honed some others.



But what surprised me was how much this project changed the way I think about all of my projects. (I wrote some of my initial thoughts about this here.)

I wanted to understand why I love this quilt so much, and why I didn’t tire of it during the process. Certainly some of it has to do with the sampler nature of the quilt. Each week brought different challenges and experiences. And then there’s the fact that I used just under 100 different fabrics. That kept it interesting – always something new to look at and enjoy.


But I don’t think it’s just that. I think I enjoy challenging, complex quilts. Quilts that you don’t let anyone touch for a year after you finish it. True present-day heirlooms.

In 2014 I really want to choose my projects carefully. For me, I think a little extra planning and deliberation are worth it. I’d rather make fewer quilts, but really love them.

My color scheme developed quite a bit over the course of the project. It started here:


Various shades of teal and aqua and pool blue. A touch of purple.


I thought my accents would be the pink and orange fabrics on the right.

Over time my pinks and oranges softened to peach and I added more purple.




I didn’t realize it at the time but now I’m certain I was influenced by this post about peach and jade. So pretty together, especially against the white background with just a little black here and there. I didn’t set out to make this my color scheme, but I loved it so much that I started buying a lot of peach fabric… and then just started adding them to the quilt!

About 1/3 of the 100 fabrics I used are Anna Maria Horner. I think that helped to ground and focus the color scheme.

I challenged myself in this quilt to avoid solids almost entirely… unless absolutely necessary or beneficial. The reason being that many of the quilts that have made me gasp aloud with delight this year have been made without solids (off the top of my head: Sarah Fielke, Sarah @ No Hats and Jess @ Elven Garden).

The citron is the only true solid in the quilt. It caught my eye at a quilt shop and somehow ended up in my penny sampler stack. I used it to create a “lights on upstairs” effect in my little village. (By the way, how amazing would a little village tree skirt be?)


Otherwise the fabrics that appear solid are actually quilter’s linen or Architextures crosshatch. Up close that little bit of visual texture makes a difference.

I kept the back of the quilt simple, but I used one of my favorite Anna Maria Horner prints to make it special.


I like to think of it as “the dark side;” a little surprise when you lift the corner and peak underneath. It’s hard to see in this photo, but the side panels are a thin black and white stripe.

I chose my quilting design and binding with complete disregard for the backing because I don’t consider this quilt to be necessarily reversible. I outline quilted all of the “picture” blocks and diamonds and put a cross or X in most of the others. It took a while! But I was concerned that anything else would take away from the beautiful block designs and fabrics. (Except maybe hand quilting, as Laura of Little and Lots plans to do with her gorgeous Christmas version. If I didn’t already have a big hand quilting project going I would definitely have done that).


I really wanted to use this stripe as the binding, but I was worried about how it would look with the backing fabrics. I decided not to let that stop me, but in the end I think it actually isn’t too bad even on the back. Perhaps even mismatched fabrics look like they belong together once they’ve been sewn?


This quilt will live in my guest room, but it’ll be a while before I let anyone sleep under it.

(It should go without saying that I’ll be obnoxiously linking up with every link party that remotely applies: Finish it up Friday, Paper Piecing Party, TGIFF, ASWC).

Barn door quilt-a-long: my fabric choices

I loved Carolyn Friedlander’s line Architextures. It’s getting hard to find, but her new line Botanics is most certainly the next big thing. It started popping up here and there after Quilt Market and now it’s just hitting shelves. I got mine from Fat Quarter Shop when they were offering 25% off on black friday.

I gotta tell ya, I was sorely tempted by the beautiful stack of fat quarters. It’s just so pretty! But I’ve been quilting long enough to know that, for me, fat quarters are never enough. It makes more economical sense to force myself to choose my favorites and buy half yards.

All that to say, Botanics is my starting point for my next barn door quilt. I ordered most of the whites, grays, blues, and greens and a little orange. From there, I decided to incorporate what’s left of my Architextures stash (leftover from the fat quarter stack I purchased to make these airplane pillows). Then I went nuts and grabbed any similar shades from my stash, and landed here:


Botanics + stash coordinates

Low volumes

Low volumes


Light blues

Dark blues

Dark blues





My initial plan is to not have a plan. Ha! Seriously though. I am going to start the first few rows and then see how it develops. When I made my first version I definitely planned each fabric selection very specifically before I started sewing.

They alternate with quite mathematical precision!


This time it’s a bit more complex because I’m planning to use quite a few more fabrics, so I’m just going to take it one row at a time. Eventually a more specific plan will form, I promise.

The pattern works outward from the middle. The first row we sew will be the hourglass row at the center. From there we’ll sew both the adjoining rows and work out until we have completed the central X of the design. From there we add the top and bottom borders and we’re done! It really does come together quite quickly. The trickiest part is lining up the triangles but we’ll worry about that next year.

I’m so excited to see what you guys are thinking about using for your fabrics! Please do not hesitate to ask questions. I love talking about this stuff. If you’re on Flickr please upload your fabric stacks here! If you’re not on Flickr you should consider joining, especially if you don’t have a blog. We’re all going to want to see your quilt!

Linking up with Lee for WIP Wednesday. It’s an official WIP once you’ve got fabric and a pattern… right?

Oh, and if you’re new around here, you can always catch up on everything Barn door quilt-a-long related by clicking its tab at the top of the screen!

Sew mama sew giveaway!

Giveaway is closed! There’ll be another soon. 🙂

Yay! I’ve been so excited for this day to come and now here we are.


Sew Mama Sew is hosting a HUGE giveaway party this week! I decided to make a Noodle-head divided basket because there are so many ways to use it, especially in a sewing space. In the new year I plan to make a whole set of them for myself for scrap sorting and storage. You can read more about my experience sewing this basket here.



Hey look! I even lined the pocket for you.


And because quilters always want to make the most of it when we’re paying postage anyway, I’ll definitely include some favorite fabric scraps. Maybe I’ll even include an extra (PAID) copy of the pattern if the winner doesn’t already have it.

To enter, simply leave a comment telling me whether you’ve ever made a Noodle-head divided basket or other fabric basket. As always, followers (old and new) get an extra entry. Just leave an extra comment indicating how you follow. (And yes, the giveaway is open internationally.)

Be sure to click over to Sew Mama Sew to find more great giveaways! This giveaway (and all the others) close on December 13 at 5 pm. Good luck!

Finish: Noodle-head divided basket for YOU

Such a fun finish today!


I have long admired the Noodle-head divided basket. When I heard about the Sew Mama Sew giveaway day I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

I blocked off pretty much this whole week to work on it but that turned out to be completely unnecessary! I finished it in one day – maybe 5 hours of sewing time from cutting out the pattern pieces to taking the final stitch. Some of you who are more experienced at this type of project are probably laughing at me because perhaps that took longer than it should have! I’ve got big plans to make many, many more of these so I’m sure I’ll have a chance to speed it up a bit.

This basket is big! I think it’s about 10 inches tall and 14 wide. It fits nicely on the Ikea Expedit shelves so many of us have!


I included all the optional steps (lined pockets!) because that’s how much I love you guys.


Come back on Monday for a chance to win this basket along with a few goodies I’m sure I won’t be able to resist tucking inside.


Linking with Crazy Mom!

WIP wednesday: dreaming of next Christmas

So many fabulous Christmas projects around the interwebs lately! I’m terribly jealous because I pretty much only have time to pin to my Pinterest page and dream of next year. I’ve decided that I’m going to completely block off November and December next year for holiday sewing!

Here’s what I’m working on instead:

  • I’m sewing the binding down on my penny sampler. How exciting is that?? As soon as that’s done I’ll be on the lookout for the first available moment for some decent photos. DSC07082
  • I’ve been setting up my new sewing room, and getting used to sewing in it. I’ll be sharing much more about that when it’s in a more presentable state. This week I’m painting the walls and soon I’ll be making curtains out of this voile I finally found an excuse to buy. I would seriously buy that fabric in every color of the rainbow if it was regular quilting cotton.DSC07058
  • I’m hand quilting a great big quilt that will be a Christmas present. I’ll share it with you after it’s gifted. (No picture allowed!)
  • But I’m the most excited about the present I am making for YOU!


How bout that? I’m participating in Sew Mama Sew’s Giveaway Day next Monday. I’ll be giving away a Noodle-head divided basket. Here’s a sneak peak:DSC07078

Ok, so technically no longer a WIP. This went together much faster than I expected. I’m usually pretty shy about 3-dimensional objects but I was determined to conquer this pattern because it’s such a cute & useful item. I’d love to have a whole bunch of them to organize my scraps. It also seems like a great go-to pattern for baby shower gifts (you know- when there’s just not time for a quilt).

In case you missed it, I’ve posted the fabric requirements for the barn door quilt-a-long. But DON’T PANIC. We won’t be starting until after the holidays! I took advantage of the Fat Quarter Shop black Friday sale and ordered the fabric for mine. I’ll share that as soon as it arrives. That is going to be some happy mail!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday and NTT!