Author Archives: Lisa

Fall Sewing

Fall is the time of year when I want to sew all the things! It has finally cooled off here in Texas. We’ve got rain and clouds all week long – the perfect weather to stay indoors sipping coffee and cutting out quilts (and watching Netflix, etc.!). The list of Christmas gifts, decorations, and quilts I want to make seems to grow each year and includes several projects lingering from last Christmas.

A few of the new additions this year are Christmas gifts for my children, including some sweet little Alicia Paulson softies.  I’m torn between the rabbit and the fox, though, so perhaps both! I’ve recently acquired a small stash of Liberty prints that will work perfectly for inside little ears, as dresses, and lining fox coats.

Liberty of London

My birthday was earlier this month and I treated myself to a couple of lovely vintage finds, including this strawberry crewel to decorate my sewing space:

Strawberry CrewelStrawberry CrewelThe berries are three dimensional and they may have even been crocheted and added to the crewel. It’s a darling and really well made piece.

Before I’m get too deep into Christmas sewing, I have a Halloween quilt I want to finish up. I have just a few more blocks to go before I can get the top pieced.

What are you sewing this week?

Boho Ottoman


Well, this long-running project is finally complete! I started this quilted ottoman after seeing a similar patchwork one without quilting in a boutique here in Dallas (it was $300). I balked at the price but considering how long it took me to quilt it and assemble this, that price tag is looking a little more reasonable.

I’d planned this as a Moda Bake Shop tutorial but I think it’s a bit too difficult and the materials would be quite pricey, as well.  I may do a smaller version that uses only one jelly roll, though.

I combined three Moda lines – Lush Uptown by Erin Michael, Collections for a Cause – Historical Blenders and Collections for a Cause – Love. There are some very traditional fabrics in there with pops of modern prints. I had three jelly rolls to start and there’s probably enough left to make a nice throw quilt for my sofa.


I added piping to my version  – and a zipper. There’s an inner cushion that’s filled with fabric scraps and polyfil. I wanted to be able to at least machine wash the outside since I do live with dogs and kids.


It’s a really large ottoman – 20″ square top/bottom and 13″ high. It’s quite hefty filled with all of those fabric scraps. I’ve left the inner cushion seam open so I can add a bit more filler as I cut fabric for some more quilts this year.

Sewing layers of quilted fabric, piping, and especially that zippered edge was not fun (the zipper is tucked between two rows of piping). And of course now that I’ve put it together I want to serge the seams inside so it’s nice and tidy. But in spite of the two broken needles and sore shoulder, this was a fun project. I love the colors and it’s an unusual but useful piece for my living room. Plus, it feels really good to have finished it!



Earlier this year I started Moda’s “Spell It With Fabric” quilt. You can download the free patterns for each letter {here}. Instead of beginning at the beginning with ABC, I started at the end with XYZ. I figured this was a good way to force myself to actually finish it, It worked! Well, almost. I still have to make the borders.


I’m using Sweet by Urban Chiks, which is a darling 1930s-inspired line. The colors are soft and so feminine and candy-like. It’s an older line (2009ish) so very hard to find now (one of the benefits of hoarding fabric.)


I finished the letters and filler blocks this weekend at a retreat.  My plan is to continue the scrappy look with the borders, though I am a bit nervous how they will look since they are uneven borders meant to square up the quilt. We shall see…


The filler blocks are a combination of Lori Holt’s crops and sunflower block patterns. These patterns are both in her {Farm Girl Vintage} book. I adore adore adore that entire book. Filled with cuteness.

Temptation Procrastination


There’s something that seems to be common among most creative people/makers that I know. None of us can resist the siren’s call of new fabric and new quilt patterns and quilt-alongs. It causes us to throw aside everything we had planned on making to start something wonderfully new. I call that temptation procrastination.

Temptation procrastination is the reason I have 15 completed quilt tops, 2 quilted quilts awaiting binding, and 3 basted and partly quilted quilts languishing in baskets in my sewing room. Let’s not even get into my WIPs that are just cut fabric and various quilt blocks. I can’t count that high.

Is there are cure for this ailment? I think throwing some money at my problem and sending a few quilt tops off to longarmers is a good start.  Then I’ll need a few good shows on the DVR to hack away at that binding and some audio books to keep me company during basting and quilting the rest of that sad, neglected pile. I may not leave my house for the remainder of the year…

Tell me, are you a one-at-time kind of quilter? What are your secrets? I must know.

My Small World QAL – Section 4


Welcome to Section 4 of the My Small World QAL. There’s a little bit of everything in this section – Clam shells, Economy square, pin wheel, 60 degree triangles, Orange Peel, and embroidery! I’ve gotten off to a slow start with this quilt after choosing my fabrics but once I got into my rhythm I’ve loved working on this. The tiny pieces are fun and challenging.

One of my hurdles in getting going was template making. There are a lot of tiny templates for this project and I was overwhelmed every time I sat down to trace and cut them.  In the end, I took paper copies of the template pages to my local print shop and had them laminated. It cost me less than $4 and I have quite a bit more confidence in the accuracy. Plus they’re labeled!


There are three things I couldn’t live without while working on this project – 1. Frixion pen, 2. Add a quarter ruler, and 3. Ziploc bags for keeping each section sorted. I trace my pieces with the laminated template and Frixion pen and then use my rulers and rotary cutter to add the 1/4′ seam. For applique shapes, I cut around the template, eyeballing the seam allowance.

Which brings us to my next hurdle – the applique. I’ve tried several methods in the past but my favorite has always been freezer paper. It involves quite a bit of prep but the results are pretty fantastic. Very crisp edges and perfectly shaped pieces. (Jan Patek has a wonderful video tutorial for this method.) If you have a Silhouette Cameo, I wrote a very basic tutorial on using it to cut your shapes that you can find here.

This summer hasn’t allowed me much extra time for applique prep so I’m keeping it simple with back-basting and needle turn. It took me a few rounds to feel like I was back in the hang of it, but now I’m in love with needle turn. It’s also VERY portable.


I use a bit larger seam allowance than most tutorials mention. Anything less than 1/8″ seams makes my edges fray and I can’t poke and prod it into submission.  Here’s my prepped applique piece – seam allowance marked and basted onto my background with a contrasting thread. I’ve marked lines on my background as well for a placement guide.


A quilter’s knot holds my applique thread in place (no, I’m not using a matching color. It doesn’t show since you work the stitches in the back.). I pull the needle up right at the basting thread.


An important tip is to keep the thread perpendicular to the fabric edge. If you are bit haphazard your shape can get skewed and wonky. I fought those wonky stitches in the binding of my first few quilts and they always looked twisted and ugly.

Then you sweep the seam allowance underneath the shape with your needle and take a stitch, hiding your thread in the fold you create with the fabric. Press with your finger as needed. You may also need to cut out the basting stitches as you travel around to give you room to push the fabric edges underneath.


Here’s my finished block of orange peels and you can see a peek of my clamshells (which I just adore!  I want to make and entire tiny clamshell quilt.)


Excuse my untrimmed threads.

There are a few things that have helped me while working on section 4:

  • Edge-stitching each section as I completed it and going around the entirely of Section 4 once it was finished. This will prevent too much fraying on the edges and keep all those seams together while I work on the rest of the quilt.
  • Don’t press your background/sky as you sew. Just use your fingers to nest the seams as you go and press the whole thing once it’s all pieced.
  • Trim and square up as you go. Even the tiniest pieces! I can see a big difference in my pinwheels that I squared up versus the ones I just sewed together. Will it matter in the long run? No, but it makes me feel more accomplished to have perfect little points.
  • Pay attention to the pattern. I had to recut several pieces because I cut with abandon instead of paying attention to the direction of the template.
  • And there is a little cheat if all of the tiny pieces are keeping you from starting this quilt! The pattern shows with dimensions of the subsections of each section to help you keep things accurate. You can use some cheater fabrics or larger pieces cut to these dimensions. If applique is not your thing, put in a favorite print instead!
  • My main challenge with this quilt is honestly choosing fabrics. The pieces are quite small so many medium-scale prints won’t work and forget large-scale! I am trying to cut down the time I spend staring at and fondling fabrics by choosing colors that are similar to the original. There’s no such thing as the perfect fabric combination with so much going on in this quilt. You really can’t go wrong.

The only bit of Section 4 I have left to do is the embroidery. I have to think more on my plan for quilting before I get to that, though. I imagine I will add the embroidery on the top layer of my finished quilt.

I hope you are inspired by this wonderful Jen Kingwell pattern! Don’t forget to check in with my co-hosts on their blogs and especially on Instagram. There are so many lovely inspiration photos in the #mysmallworldQAL hashtag, as well.

Happy Sewing!

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}

Little Joys QAL

I’m taking part in Fat Quarter Shop’s Little Joys Quilt Along! It features Elea Lutz’s brand-new Christmas line, Little Joys. She designed the fantastically pretty Flower Milk Sugar and this Christmas line is beyond cute, too.

We are making a Christmas mini quilt –

When this fabric came in the mail, my 3-year-old son was very excited because, well, Christmas! He wanted me to start sewing it together right away but I told him we had to wait a few weeks. Then he said, “And then it will be Christmas!” How sweet are they at that age?

Fat Quarter Shop has kits and the free patterns will be released one week at a time, starting July 8 (next week).

Here’s the full list of bloggers who are sewing along with us!
Sedef of Down Grape Vine Lane (@downgrapevinelane)
Nadra of Ellis & Higgs (@ellisandhiggs)
Tina of Emily Ann’s Closet (@emilyannskloset)
Greg of Grey Dogwood Studio (@greydogwoodstudio)
Jessie of Messy Jesse (@messyjesse1)
Melissa of Oh How Sweet (@ohhowsweetco)
Kristyne of Pretty By Hand @prettybyhand)
Kerry of Very Kerry Berry (@verykerryberry)
Lisa of Vintage Modern Quilts (@vintagemodernquilts)
Erin of Why Not Sew (@whynotsewquilts)

This will be an Instagram-based Quilt Along, so don’t forget to follow us @fatquartershop and @elealutz and use #LittleJoysQuiltAlong to show us your beautiful blocks!

GTSB: Making Progress


I am nearly done with section 1 of my Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt! I’ve mostly worked on this quilt in the summers when visiting my parents at their lake house since it doesn’t require a sewing machine (and I don’t usually have room to pack one). Though, now that I have been working on it with my rotary cutter and sewing machine, I’m making a lot more progress.

(These propeller blocks are actually from section 4, but another one that pieces up so much more quickly on the machine than by hand.) One thing about sewing by hand that I’ve noticed – my seams are not as tight as a machine-sewn block and they tend to come apart at the edges. I’ve had to do quite a bit of re-sewing on the very last 1/4″ of several seams once I squared up the blocks.


Orange and pink are one of my favorite combinations! One thing I’m really enjoying about this quilt is using up little bits of precious out-of-print fabric (like that rust, orange, and pink dot by Heather Ross from a very old Munki Munki line).

More Heather Ross cuteness – those chickens are going to be sprinkled throughout this quilt.

So here’s a snapshot of my blocks so far:


My plan is to finish that last block in section 1 and then move on to the machine-friendly blocks in the rest of the quilt.  That will take a big chunk out of what is left to make!

My Small World QAL – Fabrics + Plans


Welcome to the My Small World Quilt-Along! I am in love with this pattern – like all of Jen Kingwell’s designs, it is unique and adorable. It combines a lot of traditional block designs and techniques, including a bit of embroidery. It’s meant as a wall quilt, finishing at around 33″ x 52″.  I’m going to make mine larger by expanding the background so it finishes around 88″ x 64″ – a better size for a twin bed or throw.


A quilt like this just wants to be scrappy and I’m happy to oblige. I pulled 14 fat quarters from my stash as a starting point and I’ll add scraps to fill in as a I go. I noticed while reading through the pattern that there are a lot of 2 1/2″ and 4 1/2″ pieces, which are great for Moda candy (2 1/2″ squares) and charm squares (5″ square) so I’m working some of those in from my stash, as well. My only rule is no pink or purple (at least not as a main color in the print).


I’ve also rounded up a selection of low volume prints from my scrap bin. I suspect I’ll end up having to purchase a few more once the main part of the quilt is complete. Low volumes are hard to come by and I’ve been using them up quite a bit in recent projects.


My plan is to cut all the background bits first since those are rotary cut. I went through the pattern and made a tally of all the necessary pieces of each size. Then I’ll make my templates for the rest of the pieces and jump in with section one.

If you are joining us on this quilt-along journey, be sure to take a look at the erratum from QuiltMania for section 1. You can download that {here}.

And also pop by to visit my co-hosts! The hastag #mysmallworldQAL is already filling up with wonderful inspiration on Instagram.

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}

My Small World QAL


Next week we are officially starting the Quilt-Along (QAL) for Jen Kingwell’s fantastic My Small World pattern. You can find the pattern in Quilt Mania’s special 2015 spring edition. It’s in bookshops like Barnes and Noble or get the digital version online {here}. NOTE: Looks like that’s actually a paper copy. See Kerry’s detailed post about where to buy, including online shops in the US that carry it. One is Happiness is Quilting, one of my local quilt shops. It’s a great shop so I’d recommend buying from them. 😉MSWqal300

I’m co-hosting with some super talented people. We will be posting on our blogs and quite a bit on Instagram, as well, so links for both are shown below. Be sure to check out the IG hashtag – #mysmallworldqal.

Cindy of  Live a Colorful life  {@liveacolorfullife}
Megan of Lucy and Norman {@lucyandnorman}
John of Quilt Dad {@j_q_adams}
Danielle of Mes Petits Elefants {@petitselefants}
Kerry of verykerryberry {@verykerryberry}

I hope you can join us!

A Little Makeover

VMQ-hoop-chairs-03There’s just something so cute about tiny kid things. I found this pair of hoop chairs at HomeGoods last week and knew they had to be mine. I’ve been looking at vintage MCM chairs on Etsy and Ebay for weeks and these were a steal compared to the ones I was eying.

VMQ-hoop-chairs-02 They were originally lime green and teal. Very new looking and far too bright. One can of spray paint later, they are a perfect retro orange. I used Montana Gold, a brand you can buy in art stores or even at Michael’s. It’s probably two to three times the cost of regular spray paint at $12/can but it comes in a huge range of colors. I think it’s blendable so it would be fun to experiment with on canvas.

VMQ-hoop-chairs-04I used a bit of fabric that I already had – a Japanese linen blend (note the odd phrasing and misspelling, but it’s still cute!).  It’s a fabric I’ve always loved but never wanted to cut into so I’m really happy that I did. It’s silly to hold onto so much fabric for the “right” project.  VMQ-hoop-chairs-06These tiny chairs were supposed to go in the playroom but I may pair them with a tiny end table and make a spot for them in the living room where the kids will use them every day.VMQ-hoop-chairs-07Diana is certainly enjoying them already. Wish they were my size!

VMQ-hoop-chairs-05 It’s very satisfying to jump in with both feet and end up with something that looks exactly like what I had in mind. It was a fun and quick project, just the thing I needed this week.