Kindergarten Drawstring Bag

It's official!  I am the mom of a Kindergartener!!!!

I swear 5 years of his childhood haven't gone by.  Did I have my eyes closed or something?

He had a difficult time with it.  The 4.2 earthquake we had while he was getting dressed didn't help matters.  But, we got through the drop off together.  I tried to do what I could to make his day special.  I left him a note in his lunch and made him a special bag for his rest time blanket.

I picked up this fabric the last time I was at Ikea.  Lets just say that my sewing machine didn't love it. I tried a variety of needles but it just sounded awful going through the machine.  :/  I've never experienced that and ended up throwing the remainder of the fabric away.  But, it looks cool!  The quilting cotton in the bag...went through my machine like buttah!  Eh.  What are you going to do?  Make it and move on.

He loved it though, and it just made the day that much more special for him, I hope.  I mean...what boy doesn't love a giant bug bag?!  I used Jeni Baker's Lined Drawstring Bag pattern in the Artist Bag size and some lovely twill tape for the drawstrings.

Luckily he declared the day "good" as he climbed into the car with a smile on his face, and then we went out for frozen yogurt so he could tell me all about it.  I'm so proud of him for conquering his fears.  That can't be easy when you're five.  I know it sure isn't when you're 32!


One Fish, Two Fish

I love giving handmade items for baby gifts.  But, then the teacher in me says...what about the books?!  Rarely does someone register for books, and yet it's so nice to have a fun variety to grow into.  So, this go 'round I decided to do a bit of both...

 a little bit handmade...  (I LOVE that stitching around the edge.  Receiving blankets are a great opportunity to use those fun quilting stitches on your fancy-shmancy machines.)
 and a coordinating book to match. Okay...I got them two books, but the other one wasn't theme inspired.  Just one my kids loved as babies.

I'm so pleased for this dear friend of mine and his wife.  They will be fabulous parents.

Colorful Sunday

I thought I would challenge myself a bit.  I always find myself pinning color palettes but rarely use them when working with my fabrics.  So I thought it would be fun to challenge myself with making my own palette and then pulling fabrics that coordinate.  (Apparently I'm ready for fall!)

This is such a fun exercise, and now I want to stop everything I'm doing and make some sort of autumnal table runner.  HA!  How do you get inspiration for color in your quilts?  Do you look at color palettes?  Do you rely on bundled fabric lines?  Do you start with a base fabric and use that to pull in your other colors?  I would love to hear a bit about your color selection process!  :)


"Big Stitch" Winner!

First off, thanks to everyone who stopped by and left your very sweet comments about the video tutorials.  :)  Hopefully everyone got a response back from me.  I tried to make sure I replied to everyone.  It sounds like y'all have some fun projects on the horizon!!!  (If you're looking for the "Hand Quilting with Perle Cotton Tutorial" click here.)

Before we get to the winner I wanted to share a few changes that are occurring here on the blog.  If you'll notice I've added a couple of page links at the top...Link Parties and Classes.  Rather than retype the same link parties over and over each time I link up I thought it would be more efficient to list them all on their very own page.  :)  So, if you're looking for a good link party head over there and check out where I like to visit.  Also, if you know of one I'm missing out on that I really need to check out let me know!!!

You'll also see that there is now a tab for "Classes."  I have begun teaching at my local quilt shop, Oklahoma Quiltworks.  If you're in the Oklahoma City area, or plan to be at some point, head on over there.  It's my personal favorite of our local quilt shops and I'm thrilled to be a teacher there.  And of course, I would love to see you at one of my classes.  The next one is "Big Stitch Hand Quilting."  We'll be going more in depth than I did in my videos, and of course I'll be there to answer questions in person which can be handy.  Class dates and times will be announced soon, so feel free to keep an eye out for that.  :)

Okay.  Enough chit chat.  On to the winner.  I so wish I could give ALL of you some of the goodies from Presencia, but alas, I can only give it to one lucky person.  The Random Number Generator came up with #8 which was Jayne.  She wrote:

So gorgeous! As much as I love to hand sew all my bindings, I think hand quilting would be an amazingly fun project! 
I would love to try it on a small mini quilt, which I would make special just for the project! thank you so much! I am certainly inspired by you and your work!

Congratulations, Jayne!  I will be emailing you to get your address so I can get this package of fun out to you.

Again, a HUGE thank you to Presencia America for their generous donation, and to all of you for reading, watching, and participating!  :)  I hope if you work on some "Big Stitch" projects you'll email me a picture.  I would love to see them.


Hand Quilting With Perle Cotton - A Tutorial

One of my favorite quilting activities is to hand quilt using "big stitches" with Perle Cotton.  Some quilts call out to be quilted by hand, and this is my favorite method.  (You can see a sampling of my hand quilted projects here, here, here, and here.)  I have tried traditional hand quilting and while I liked the finished effect for that particular quilt, it just took too darn long.  "Big Stitch" hand quilting allows you to have that hand quilted feel while being a lot less time intensive.  So, when some of the ladies at the recent SewOK retreat asked me to do a demo on hand quilting, I realized I wanted to share it here as well.  :)  Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

Lets start off with supplies.  Presencia's Finca Perle Cotton is the ultimate for me when it comes to my hand quilting.  The colors are rich, the thread's smooth texture glides like butter through the fabric, and it never tangles up on me.  The colors have never bled after washing, and it's really just an all around pleasure to work with.  Actually, I love their product so much that I emailed them, told them, and they kindly offered to do an awesome giveaway with this post!  You'll find instructions further down on how enter to win their generous gift!!  Thank you, Presencia!!!  (And I would totally be saying all of that even if there wasn't a giveaway.)

But, I can't do the quilting with just the thread, so enter the other necessary supplies.  Embroidery scissors are a must.  Thimbles are important because you'll be using your finger a lot.  I really enjoy the thimblelady as I push with the pad of my pointer finger.  Some quilters push with the tip of their finger so they use a different style.  It's all personal preference so test a variety out at your local shop and see what feels good to you.  They come in metals, leathers, gellies, plastic and even stick ons!

Of course you'll need good needles as well.  My preference is a Size 2 Crewel needle.  It's sturdy, has a large eye, and the thickness of the needle is pretty equivalent to the thickness of the perle cotton which means you will have an easier time pulling your thread through.

And really, that's all you'll need to get started.  Some people like working with a hoop, but I find it easier to work without one.  It's just personal preference, and that's a lot of what hand quilting is.

However, before I unleash you on the videos I want to give you the details on the Presencia giveaway pictured above.  :)    The winnings include 10 "spools" of Perle Cotton, a rotary blade sharpener, a Presencia America catalogue, and a color card!!!  I'm excited for you!

So, how do you win?  Just leave me a note in the comments telling me about a project you would like to hand quilt using their lovely Finca Perle.  I will announce the winner on Friday, August 8th!   The giveaway is now closed.

In the meantime...enjoy the videos!

Please visit the "Link Parties" tab to see where I enjoy linking up.  :)


Star and Stripes Table Runner Pattern

I have a free pattern for you today!  I thought a small and fast summer project was in order and I have had this idea drawn up for a couple of months now.  Perfect for 4th of July, but also Memorial Day and Flag Day!

Despite being born in Texas and having lived there the majority of my life, I don't ever feel that I am a Texas gal.  My parents hail from the Northeast, my mom from the Philadelphia area, and we lived several of my childhood years in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  That is where I feel most at home.  So, it is no surprise that every 4th of July I feel nostalgic for places like Independence Hall and Washington's Crossing.
It was an easy decision for me to use "Martha Washington's Star" as the feature block in my table runner.  She doesn't seem to have anything to actually do with the block itself, but the name is enough for me.  ;)  I think making it scrappy gives it a charming "vintage" feel.  For the quilting I used my walking foot exclusively.  Yep, all of the curves are done with my walking foot!  It was much easier than I thought it would be, but I only went that route because I was too lazy to be switching presser feet and threads back and forth constantly.

Below you'll find the directions to make your own.  I hope you find this helpful!  And if I don't "see" you before then...Happy 4th of July everyone!

Finished Dimensions - 16" x 48"
Sew with a scant 1/4" throughout.
Abbr:  W = White/Low Volume, B = Blue, LB = Light Blue, R = Red, RST = Right Sides Together

Cut the following:
Stripes - 
R1 - (16) 4.5"x 4.5"
W3 - (16) 4.5"x 4.5"

Martha Washington Star -
Corner Squares:  B1 - (4) 4.5" x 4.5"
Windmill:  LB1* - (2) 4 7/8"x 4 7/8"; LB2* - (1) 5 1/4"x 5 1/4"; W2 - (1) 5 1/4"x 5 1/4"
Flying Geese:  B2 - (1) 9.75"x 9.75"; W1 - (4) 5 3/8" x 5 3/8"

* Due to my available scraps I ended up using a mix of light and dark for the windmill after I designed the pattern, so feel free to mix it up in a way that works for you.

To make the stripes:
1. Sew R1 pieces together into 8 sets of 2, RST.  Press seams to one side.
2.  Sew W3 pieces together into 8 sets of 2, RST.  Press seams in opposite direction of the R1 sets.

3.  Aligning seams sew sets of R1 with W3 pairs to create eight 4-patches, RST.  Press seams open.
4.  Sew the 4 patches together into 2 rows each containing four 4-patches, RST.  Press seams open.
5.  With RST sew the two rows of red and white striped patches together.  Press seam open.
To make Martha Washington's Star:
Measures 16.5" square

Windmill Unit -
You will need the following pieces - LB1* (2) 4 7/8"x 4 7/8"; LB2* - (1)5 1/4"x 5 1/4"; W2 - (1) 5 1/4"x 5 1/4"

1.  Cut LB2 and W2 squares on the diagonals to make 4 triangles.
2.  Cut LB1 squares on one diagonal.  Each square will yield 2 triangles, giving you a total of 4 when done.

3.  Pair each LB2 piece with a W2 piece and sew right short edge of the LB2 pieces to the left short edge of the W2 pieces, RST, creating 4 units.  Press open.
4.  Next, with RST, sew an LB1 triangle to each of the units you made in Step 3 along the long diagonal edge.  Press open.  Square up each unit to measure 4.5"x4.5".
5.  Sew together the four units you just created, RST, to make the windmill portion of the star:

Your completed windmill unit should measure 8.5"x8.5" when finished.

Flying Geese -  (We're going to make all 4 at once!)
You will need the following pieces - B2 - (1) 9.75"x 9.75"; W1 - (4) 5 3/8" x 5 3/8"

1.  With RST, place white squares (W1) on the large blue (B2) square.  Draw a center "cut" line from corner to corner on the white squares (W1) and pin.  Stitch with a scant 1/4" on each side of the center "cut" line.  

2.  Cut unit in half along center "cut" line.
3.  Press open.
4.  With one of your assembled units, place another white square (W1) on the opposite corner of the blue triangle, RST.  Mark a center "cut" line from corner to corner on the white square.  Stitch a scant 1/4" on each side of the center "cut" line.
5.  Cut unit in half along the center "cut" line and press open.  Repeat Step 4 for the remaining unit.

6.  Trim the four flying geese units to 4.5" x 8.5".

Now assemble the Martha Washington Star... (Sew with RST and press seams open.)

Square up to 16.5" x 16.5"

Sew your completed "Martha Washington Star" to the stripes with right sides together.  Press seam open.

All that's left is to baste, quilt, bind, and admire!  :)  I hope you enjoy your lovely table runner as much as I am enjoying mine!


Classic Oxford Button-up Shirt

Continuing my foray into the world of garment making I completed this sweet Classic Oxford Button-up Shirt for my son right before we left on a short vacation to Colorado.

The pattern was well written by peek-a-boo pattern shop. And despite a well written pattern I was struggling with setting the sleeves and attaching the collar stand.  There was definitely some seam ripping.  Although I count those steps a success because when I serged it I didn't accidentally serge through the back of the shirt like I did the last time I made a shirt for my son.

The pocket on this shirt is very sweet, but maybe a bit large as it uses one size pocket for several shirt sizes.  I would also shift it over about .5" - 1" towards the button placket as it sort of folds under his arm a bit.  I had to pull it forward for this shot.  For the closure I skipped buttons and opted for "rodeo" inspired pearl snaps.  My daughter isn't the only one taking horseback riding lessons now.  ;) The snaps also make for a happier kid because little is more frustrating than trying to do a bunch of tiny buttons down the front of your shirt.
For the main parts of the shirt I used the fabric "Night Sky Raindrop Pinstripe" from Moda's "Little Things" line.  For the pocket, yolk, and collar I used RJR's Cotton Supreme in "Soft Blue."  All of my topstitching was done in a dark blue to match the main fabric which pops very nicely.  I think the use of two fabrics keeps this oxford shirt from feeling overly formal for everyday wear and pairs with his knit shorts very well.  But, if you wanted to dress it up a bit with some nicer slacks that would work too.
You can see my son is all about comfort...yep, he's wearing socks with sandals.  Trust me ladies...I'm working on it.  HA!  But, I'm glad that he feels good in his shirt as he's VERY picky about what touches his skin.  He didn't want to be outdone by his sister on the goofy poses so he worked his silly side for the camera.  But, also likes to share his love of nature which you can see by the leaves in his pocket and that we wore the shirt to the aquarium....
He has made me promise to make him some knit shirts with pockets "down low".  So...I guess I have that in my future.  ;)  I'm happy to accommodate, and hopefully it will help me over my fear of knits.

Linking up with Show and Tell Tuesday.