Friday, December 06, 2013

The Sewing Elf








I finally finished up this little blanket after the birth of a co-workers baby girl gave me a great big push.  I always feel a little intimidated by the quilting, but once I got rolling on this corner to corner design I made up myself, I cranked it out in only a few hours.  I backed the quilt in flannel which I had never quilted on before and I am very happy with the results.  The fabric is prints from the Little Golden Books and has all my favorite characters though I am not sure if children these days know Shy Little Kitten, Pokey Puppy, Saggy Baggy Elephant and the rest.  It was sure a fun quilt to put together and quilt.


Once the baby quilt was done I put on my elf hat and got to work on a few small gifts for some special little people.  I have to get these in the mail so they have them to put out on Christmas Eve.  The pocket is for holding a little note to Santa which I am suggesting to them that they put a nice ‘Thank You!’ note in.  This pattern was around last year and I had saved it in my Pinterest folder so I found it easily and purchased it from Jodi Nelson at Pleasant Home.  She has an Etsy shop where you can get this immediately as a PDF.  What did I ever do before the internet?


Also on my sewing table I am mass producing some pin cushions for sewing friends from a Fig Tree pattern that I have already used many times before.  It makes such a nice and useful sized pin cushion that I just have to share with all my sewing pals.  It fits nicely right by my sewing machine when I am sewing and I can easily transport it all around my sewing area with me.  Since I love it I am sure my friends will too!  Next up I am going to mass produce some needle books to accompany these little cushions.  They are both from the patterns I used for the ones in my header, though I think I will make the needle book a little smaller this time.

I am loving working on these smaller projects for now, but I think there will be some bigger projects in the near future and with snow in the forecast what a perfect time to focus on some of those!  I am about to tackle some more free motion quilting and finish up some of the tops that I have been nervous about.  I found a wonderful blog by a lady who does some really beautiful quilting on her Janome 6600 (same machine as me) and she has been talking about using these Fine Line Rulers on her domestic machine.  I am very intrigued and on the verge of purchasing a few after watching some demos and seeing what she is doing with them looks like a very handy tool.  I love quilting, but get a little disappointed with my imperfections and these look like the perfect tool to help me create some perfect lines.

Slow down, create and most of all…enjoy the holidays!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Patches the Pumpkin Protector

IMG_0007Patches is quilted and the binding is on.  I am very happy with the way this project turned out.   It is a free paper pieced pattern from Martingale’s website you can get for free here

Enjoying Fall!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013


On my last blog post I received this comment: “stop looking at all the blogs and pinterest..."looking at art is not the same as making art" then there is time for sewing”.  My first instinct was to erase it because I took it as an insult, but after thinking about it I realized that it is partly true though the author of this comment was also taking time to look and my blog and I didn’t even know who she was.  I have several reasons for looking at blogs and pinterest and the biggest reason is for inspiration.  Another blogger this week was discussing whether copying an idea or project was flattering or made you upset and I tend to think of it as flattery.  Most of the time people will change a thing or two and not copy something exactly as you have done it.  I enjoy seeing a new spin on an old idea.


I copied this free pattern for Patches the Pumpkin Patch Protector from the Stitch This! website and have really enjoyed making it.  I am not done yet, but it has gone together faster than I anticipated and I have discovered that I do love paper piecing.  The recommended method was to use freezer paper, but I chose to use printer paper and  it went together smoothly until I tried working on it one evening after work and made a mistake that I had to rip out and proceeded to tear the fabric a bit.  I will be able to fix it, but it made me realize that one reason I don’t sew much after a hard days work is that I usually make errors when I am tired.  My job can be quite physically exhausting some times.  I work at a nursery and do a lot of walking and lifting and dragging heavy hoses around to water plants, I love my job, but I sure do get tired.  That is when blog hopping is a good thing, it fills my head with ideas for my next day off when I have the time and energy to put into a project and do it right the first (or second) time.

Photo: 'tis the season- almost~

I get inspired by lots of things on the internet.  Someone posted this picture on facebook last week and when we were decorating the lobby for fall I spotted the perfect thing to use this idea in and shared it with my colleagues who then followed through with the idea while I watered plants and I think it turned out splendidly.  The inspiration picture is on top and I think it is at Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore, California, the picture below is how we used the idea in our way at our nursery, Wyntour Gardens in Redding

So I would say that looking at art may not be the same as making art, but it sure does give you inspiration to make something of your own later, and I will continue to get my inspiration from blogs, pinterest, facebook, nature and everything else around me and find what speaks to me to use in my own works of art.

Always looking to be inspired ~


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sewing Dreams

I have a serious problem…I dream of sewing, I fall asleep most nights with quilt blocks in my head or quilting design possibilities swirling through my mind.  I have been watching Angela Walters videos on Craftsy and last night I stopped as she showed how to quilt swirls, I think there were swirls in my dreams.  My problem is that with summer still in full swing here I am busy at work and busy in the garden when I get home or I am spending too much time on blogs and Pinterest looking at more quilt ideas.  I have stacks of patterns and inspiration that I have printed to work on when things change and I have more quilting time.  Well, the days are getting shorter and my time in the evenings is getting longer and in a few weeks I will drop one day from my work schedule.  I am looking forward to rainy days of doing nothing but stitching away on the ideas in my head.  For now though I do have one finished project to show for it all…I watched a Craftsy video by Joanna Figeroa called Simple Fresh Quilts and figured out how to make her fun dresden block smaller so that I could try making one and turned it into a cute little pot holder.  This also gave me time to spend practicing quilting and also some time spent binding, which I love to do for some reason, and voila a finished project!

IMG_1638 Another time eater these days has been the acquisition of two new kittens.  We went in for one, but couldn’t choose between these two girls and they were sisters so why split them up, we took both.  They are precious and entertain each other very well.  They are about 12 weeks old now and really showing their different personalities.  I’m sure they will be showing up on this blog more in the future.  Their names are Gracie and Maggie and they are crossed Russian Gray with Maine Coon so they will be quite large cats.  They are already climbing the deck railing and going toward the roof and climb every tree they come close to when they escape into the yard.  They are eating constantly and really growing up much to fast.

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We have had a really nice harvest of Comice pears and figs this year so we sold at a market for our first time this year.  It was fun getting it all together and while we were there we met a lot of neighbors that we had never had a chance to meet before.  This is our little set up with my thrifted frame and my first attempt at using chalkboard paint.


Fall is just around the corner and this year I am ready for it…time to bake and sew!



Friday, June 21, 2013

New! Olfa Splash Rotary Cutter

IMG_1503Once I saw how it worked I had to have it and came today!  Not only is it a nice fresh color and so light weight and easyIMG_1507 to use, as soon as you see how easy it is to change the blade without ever touching it you will be sold too.  I am loving the way it feels in my hand, but I can’t stop playing with the blade.  YIMG_1508ou just lay the cutter on the table and with the flick of your thumb pull  down the lock, lift the blue handle off and the blade will be laying there  ready  for changing.   Nothing to unscrew or line up IMG_1509later.  just put the black pin in the hole and push the lock in place and voila!  Now did I really need another rotary cutter?  Not really, but this was too good to not get and I have a feeling it will be my new favorite rotary cutter.  Thanks Amazon Prime for getting it to me so fast!  (here is the link so you can get one too ~ Olfa Rotary Cutter)


Butterflies Inside and Out

IMG_1468These days my time at home is being spent mostly in the yard.  With a garden and orchard to care for and working an extra day at work sewing time has been cut back a lot.  So no big sewing projects going on, but I have been enjoying  working on a few blocks here and there.  I couldn’t resist giving this butterfly  block a whirl.  It was quick and fairly easy.  I didn’t really have any project to use it in so I am making one up as I go.  I figured out how to sew hexies together on the IMG_1496machine a few years ago and have been doing it that way ever since, but I really wanted to try piecing them by hand just once so I made this flower for the center of my butterflies by hand and hand appliqued it too.  I am thinking of making a scrappy hexie border for it  and for that I will machine piece them.  It really goes together quickly.  I mark a dot at the quarter inch seam in the corners and sew to the dot and move on to the next one.  I have paper pieced before and in fact my first quilt project was paper pieced so I never was afraid of it because I didn’t know I should be so when I saw Kerri’s Kaleidoscope pillow on her Lovely Little Handmades blog I went right to work IMG_1497 drawing up my pattern and stitched a few together.  Today I came across some more information and an already drafted pattern on Red Pepper Quilts blog.  I am glad I found her tips for sewing the them together because I was having a heck of a time with the centers having big bumps in them.  I tried pressing them open, but that didn’t really help much.  Not sure where I am going with this project either, but the colors I have chosen would look really nice in my bedroom so maybe something for in there.  I would like to try my hand at big stitch quilting on this project since it is something I haven’t done before and I  love how Kerri’s turned out.

Well, since I am not sewing much I am spending lots of time watering the garden and it is coming a long nicely.  I love the hay bale beds we made, everything in them is growing leaps and bounds.  I have been harvesting a lot of squash and today potatoes, I even have had some to share with neighbors.  We are going to have pumpkins this year and they are getting big already.  I think the bales are heating up the soil and compost a little more than the ground soil temps and that is what is making things grow so big. 

We have also started harvesting the first real crops of fruit from our little orchard.  We first harvested Cotton Candy Aprium which is in its third year.IMG_1446   Usually just as it flowers we get a frost or hail or something that destroys the fruit, but not this year.  We got a nice harvest off of another apricot that is only 2 years old and a neighbor gave us more apricots that he didn’t know what variety they are, but they are quite tasty.  There is not enough fruit to do much with, but we tried drying some and yesterday I baked muffins, today it was pies to which I also added some raspberries that have been producing in spurts.  I think it will be peach time soon! 

I have been on a mission to find the perfect pie crust recipe that can be my go to crust and I have gotten really close, but today I tried a different technique that I never thought of and that was to mix the butter and flour by hand.  It was messy, but since I could feel it I think I did a better job mixing it and it wasn’t over mixed like is so easy to do in the food processor.  I made 2 pies which are still in the oven.  I am trying to come up with a flavorful crust because I think pie crusts are really quite boring and bland so today I added cinnamon to the crust.  This recipe also called for adding an egg with some milk beat into it at the end instead of water, we don’t drink milk so all had on hand was almond milk.  Almonds and apricots are usually quite good together so I am hoping this will be tasty.  I got my recipe from King Arthurs Rant.  What a fun site to visit if you like detailed descriptions of recipes with lots of pictures.  Of course, they recommend their products, but they have great products so I don’t mind.  In fact I do order from them quite often.  I love to bake almost as much I love to sew.  Now I have some pies to take out of the oven!



This is where you can find me, flitting around from flower to flower in the sun!


Sunday, April 07, 2013

Rainy Day Activities

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I am really not a very disciplined blogger.  It is easier to read other people’s blogs and I sure spend a lot of time at doing just that, than to write a post for my own.  I have been doing some sewing especially on the rainy days, but just not blogged about it much.  The scrappy trip around the world block has been so much fun and I have used it in several ways lately.  I made this baby blanket which I am still sewing the binding on.  I made the center block with Ann Suttons block from the recent Moda Designers blocks.  You can’t tell really but, I also tried my hand at trapunto on those bunny rabbits.  It doesn’t show much but, they sure feel fluffy.  I added a layer of batting and sewed it around each bunny before I made my quilt sandwich, then I cut the excess batting away from the stitching so the bunnies have an extra layer of batting after the quilt is sandwiched.  It was easier than I thought it would be and something I will definitely be using again.

I also recovered my old chair cushions using strips from an old collection of coffee fabrics I had.  I quilted them and sewed them to fit the cushions.  Now they are washable!  The quilting made the cushions just a bit more cushy, loving that part!

Another big project I tackled on a rainy day was to finally paint the ceiling after almost 4 years of living here and already painting the walls several years ago.  I know I should have done it first, but I thought it would be a bigger project than it was.  We have a very open floor plan so the ceiling had to painted all through the house except the bedrooms and bathrooms.  Well, it took me 2 days and 2 gallons of paint, but it is done!  Now I can move on to the next task…putting in new flooring in the bathrooms.

IMG_1323 Wait till you see what I did on the sunny days!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mystery Cat Quilt


My latest piecing project was picked out by my cat.  It really was.  I was cleaning up files on my computer and printed out a few of the patterns I had downloaded at sometime or other and deleted things I couldn’t figure out why I had saved.  Now there is room for lots more!  I printed this pattern out and laid it on my quilting table among others and my cat kept laying on it.  It was a mystery quilt so the finished picture was on the last page, just so you know my cat didn’t know what he was picking out.  I wanted a small project to work on after spending a lot of time trying to decide on a pattern to use for making a quilt for my queen size bed which is a big project.  So I decided to give my brain a break and quilt this one up.  I got some really great fabric advice from the guy in the house and had a lot of fun putting this together.  I am thinking it will be lots of fun to quilt as well.  It measures 36”X36” so it is a really nice manageable size.  Originally I was going to put it in the cat bed, but I think I will hang it on the wall and ask my cat to pick which pattern I should use for my bed quilt…he obviously has good quilt sense!

IMG_1201 I decided that I need some new gardening aprons with spring just around the corner and thinking this little paper pieced project will be a pocket on my next one.  I use these a lot at work and home because I have to carry a walkie talkie and a phone all the time so the pockets work great.  I posted a little tutorial for this apron on this blog and refer to it all the time.  I have IMG_2796accumulated lots of cute garden fabrics and I line them with cheap flannel which gives them just the right weight and makes them a little absorbent which is helpful with all the watering I do in the spring and summer.  The best part is that they wash up really nice, and you know I am bound to get a little dirty!  I work in a nursery and then garden a lot at home so there is always dirt in my fingernails and on my knees.  Speaking of which the sun is shining finally and the temps are raising a little, all that and a day off work is making me ready to go out and play in the dirt or the compost or the greenhouse or all of the above.  So not much sewing going on today.

Enjoy the sun when you can!IMG_2776




the quilt connoisseur