Category Archives: Inspiration



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.

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!

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.

Settling In

VMQ-april-05We’ve been in the new house a month and things are mostly organized. Mostly. We still have a storage unit of stuff that we will have to come to terms with at some point. Will it be like Christmas morning, opening all these things I’ve forgotten about in 2 months time? I doubt it, but a girl can dream.

I’ve actually been doing quite a lot of sewing lately, too, which has been AWESOME. Sometimes I just stop and stare out those glass walls. It’s so dreamy.  I am also loving that the kids’ play area is in my sewing space. I can easily keep an eye and ear on what they are doing. The only downfall is sharing my snacks with sneaky little people.

VMQ-april-04Their play area has given my Pottery Barn shelf a new home as a display for vintage Fisher Price toys. I wasn’t really ready to part with it so this new use makes me smile. And Ben loves to rearrange the display.

VMQ-april-03I finished a big {secret sewing} project this weekend and it’s both exhausted and inspired me. As usual I have way more ideas than time, but it gave me a big push to start going through my Moda precut stash – which is quite extensive.

VMQ-april-02I spent a lot of time sorting and staring at fabric this weekend. I’ve pulled fabrics for a Christmas quilt, a Halloween quilt and an American Jane quilt, but the rest are still sorted by color, waiting for their day in the sun.



A Few of My Favorite Things

The coolest thing happened yesterday that brought several of my favorite things together: my dog Moose, midcentury modern design, and crewel. Sounds like a weird combination, huh? Let me explain.

I posted this photo of Moose to my Instagram account, hashtagging it with all sorts of things, including midcentury modern.

He’s resting his chin on one of my newly reupholstered midcentury modern walnut chairs (that particular one was free. Yes, FREE. I got it at a publisher’s warehouse off Industrial Blvd here in Dallas when they were moving to a new location. They also sold me a Jens Risom desk for $75.)

That photo was “liked” by Vladimir Kagan designs on Instagram. He is a well-known MCM furniture designer with some really beautiful pieces (and he also has a charming blog). I Googled him and read on his Wikipedia page that he was married to the late Erica Wilson, the goddess of the 1960s/1970s crewel revival. I’ve been obsessed with her kits and books for years.

I got such a kick out of the idea of these two creative people together and what a neat couple they must have been. I found a blog post with a tour of their home and he said that his favorite piece was the embroidered rocking chair that combines both of their work:

Image via

Now if only I could get a picture of Moose in that chair…

Tutorial: Scrappy Stars Hexie Pillow

I have a fun tutorial today as part of the Pillow Collective hosted by Amy Ellis over at Amy’s Creative Side. There are lots of creative and super talented ladies participating so be sure to check out all of the links below.

My pillow design was inspired by an obsession with a set of mini templates I purchased earlier this month. They are made by EZ Quilting and are designed to be used with 2½” strips (jelly rolls) and they also work really nicely with Moda Candy (2½” squares). The specific template I used for this tutorial is the 60° diamond – you can purchase one here. You can also download a template here.

Scrappy Stars Hexie Pillow

You will also need:

  • 24 – 2″ squares (scrappy or choose a palette and focus fabric)
  • Background fabric:
    1 strip measuring 2½” x WOF, subcut into 6 diamonds using the template
    2 strips measuring 4″ x WOF
  • 1 fat quarter for pillow backing
  • Needle and thread
  • Polyfil for stuffing

Fabric placement and color is important to this pillow design. My test block used a traditional 4-patch with repeated prints set diagonally to each other. I decided that this block would look better with a scrappier feel, but kept the mini diamonds in the same fabric.

Scrappy Stars Hexie Pillow

Let’s start sewing!

1. Create 4-patch units from your 2″ squares – you will need a total of six 4-patches. Press and starch the 4-patches.
2. On the wrong side of each 4-patch. draw a line from corner to corner with a pencil or washable marking pen.

3. Line up the diamond template along the line and use a rotary cutter to trim off excess fabric.

4. Piece together the 4-patch diamonds to create a six-pointed star. Starch and press.

Scrappy Stars Hexie Pillow

5. Piece the background diamonds the the star. Yes, these are y seams but don’t be intimidated. The key is the start at the outer point of the star and stop sewing a scant ¼” from the edge of the background diamond. If your patchwork foot has ¼” markings that makes it super easy to know when to stop, but you can also mark the stopping points. Then flip the diamond and start sewing up the edge of the adjacent star point. Starch and press once you’ve sewn all six background diamonds.

Scrappy Stars Hexie Pillow

6. Now we are going to use our 4″ strips to make this hexagon shape a bit bigger. My finished pillow measures 17″ across at the widest point. If you want a larger pillow, cut these strips wider than 4″ (but this will affect the size of the backing fabric you’ll need). Line the raw edge of a strip along the edge of the pieced hexagon and sew together. Press and starch. Use a ruler to trim up the overage to match the adjacent edge.

Scrappy Stars Hexie Pillow

The above photo shows my hexie after I’ve added 4″ strips to two sides and “squared up” (really hexied up makes more sense!). Repeat this process until you’ve outlined the pieced hexie with background fabric.

7. Trim the fat quarter backing to match the front hexagon shape. Place right sides together. I like to put two pins in to remind me to leave an opening – one marks the start point and the second pin tells me to stop sewing. Turn pillow right sides out and press.

8. Stuff with polyfill and blind stitch closed. All done!

Eventually the filling will become lumpy and you can either open it up and re-stuff or turn it into a mini quilt (that’s probably what I’ll do).

Thanks for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed my project. Here are the other stops on the Pillow Collective:

Economy Blocks…Hello, There

Economy Block Quilt-Along

The Economy Block Quilt-Along (perhaps better known stateside as the square in square block) is in full swing. It’s 2014’s version of the crazy popular Scrappy Trip-Along that started about this time last year. (Raise your hand if you’re still working on the quilt!).

Economy Block Quilt-Along

I usually let these quilting trends just pass me by because they distract me from other projects, but given my need for fun sewing this year, I jumped in with both feet.

Ages ago I went through my Munki Munki stash and pulled out bits that were fussy cut or duplicates. I set them aside with some coordinating scraps thinking someday I’d make an I Spy quilt…one day. The economy block is absolutely perfect for this!

Economy Block Quilt-Along

I’m doing the 5″ block pattern from Red Pepper Quilts, but if that’s too small for you, there’s a handy calculator for making the block at your preferred size. I pre-cut dozens of blocks and have them in a basket next to my sewing machine for easy access (see this post for more info).

Table Top Sewing

Are you making these blocks, too? Link up in the comments so I can see yours!

More inspiration from the quilt along in the {Flickr group}.