Friday, July 29, 2011

Summertime fun

We had a fun family outing to our local amusement park. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have learned to seize those summer days when they happen!

Waiting patiently for their balloon creations (Spiderman and a flower, in case you're curious).

Owen's favorite FAVORITE ride is the leap frogger thing. Not that you could tell by the expression on his face.

Bailey had a minor freak-out because of the crowds and the noise but she was happy as a clam on the little cars.

I have my own issues with the airplane ride that includes these guns mounted on the planes. Seriously, it looks like all these parents have sent their kids to sniper camp. But it's hard not to laugh when Owen goes all army-man-super-hero-protector-of-the-universe.

Happy summer!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sweet Harmony

I did it! I finally completed the Sweet Harmony Handbag from Amy Butler. Intimidated is the best word to describe how I felt about taking on this project. Let's face it, I had heard from more than one person that Amy Butler patterns are complex and sometimes difficult. But now that it's done, I'm so glad I forged ahead and tackled this pattern!

In keeping with the Amy Butler theme, I thought it appropriate to use some of her fabric. I chose Wallflower in cherry and Full Moon Polka Dots, also in cherry. The piping is kona cotton in coral. The pattern doesn't call for using two different prints like this on the main bag and exterior pockets but I really wanted to combine these two fabrics and I'm very pleased with the result.

Here's a peek at the inside. The lining is a kona cotton in cream? ivory? Honestly, I don't remember! There are two interior pocket variations so I did one of each. In the photo above you can see the two open pockets and in the photo below you can see the zippered pocket.

You can also see the two magnetic snaps as well as the small cell phone pocket in the exterior pocket at the lower right of the photo above. This purse is nice and roomy without being a big slouchy bag, which I like. It's a bit more tailored than what I usually make or carry, but I like to change things up a bit every now and then. Plus, who doesn't love a good red bag?!

I'm not going to lie - this took me quite awhile to make. Part of that had to do with making a brand-new-to-me pattern. I know I was being very methodical and thorough because I was nervous about making mistakes. And by doing the exterior in two different fabrics, I had to be sure I adjusted my cutting to accommodate that change. That said, the most time-consuming part was definitely the cutting and preparation of the fabric (trimming and applying interfacing and fleece). Once all that prep work was done the actual assembly wasn't hard and didn't take long at all. Oh, except for adding the zipper pocket. For some reason my brain just seized up and I couldn't figure out the instructions. Until, of course, I did and then felt like a dork for not understanding them sooner.

So there you have it. I'll probably busy myself with a few simpler projects now and enjoy my new handbag!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Knitting bag

Recently, I had the fun opportunity to test a pattern for Christina over at The Sometimes Crafter. And in a weird stroke of luck, I was looking for a pattern to make one of my friends a tote for her knitting projects. How awesome that the pattern test was for a knitting bag!

The pattern is straightforward and easy to follow and I love all the little pockets for knitting needles, patterns/books, and the little zipper pocket for small scissors and stitch markers. It's really exactly what I was looking for!

The pattern calls for pockets on only one side of the bag but I went ahead and put them on both sides because really, can you have too many pockets on a project bag?

The lining is the same as the print used on the various pockets. The main fabric is a cotton/linen blend.

I enjoyed this pattern and I learned a few new things like how to do that inset zipper pocket, how to make a bag with a bottom piece (instead of boxed corners), and how to make those folded over handles. Fun!

If you're looking for a great knitting/project bag, head on over to The Sometimes Crafter and grab the pattern. Since I'm giving this one away I know I'll be making another one for myself. And while you're there check out the super cute log cabin needle book and the ukelele mini quilt!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Little Wallets

I picked up one of Valori Wells' sweet little sewing cards the other day and I could not be more in love. The pattern is for the Little Wallet and it comes on folded cardstock about the size of a greeting card. A full size pattern and all instructions are included. Genius!

The pattern is really simple and I love the result. These three little wallets were whipped up in record time. I think the only modification I made was to use a pearl snap instead of sewing in a regular snap.

I had a lot of fun with the inside pockets, making each one from a different fabric. I'll probably make more to give as gifts, especially since they're the perfect size to hold a gift card.

Today I'm going to start tackling a much larger and more complicated project. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Obsessions are healthy, right? Because I am officially crazy head-over-heels for paper piecing.

This block was made for the first month of the cocorico bee over on flickr. Lauree chose "Kitchen Couture" as her theme. After thinking about things for awhile I finally decided to pay homage to my stovetop espresso maker and a sweet little vintage yellow sugar bowl that I have.

This was an insane amount of fun to figure out! Must have drawn it up half a dozen times before settling on something I thought might work. There is probably a better way to piece it all together but for now I'm just going to enjoy the fact that it looks like I was hoping it would! The entire block measures about 12" x 10".

Here's a detail of the little sugar bowl. At first it was just going to be a plain bowl with lid but once I realized that I had the word "sugar" on some fabric I had to add it in there.

And here's a detail of the espresso maker. The little valve on the bottom half is a small black button, which I'll send separately so that Lauree can add it when she's ready. No one wants a pesky button getting in the way when it's time to quilt!

I promise I will write about other things besides paper piecing, but please bear with me and my newest obsession!

Monday, July 18, 2011


Specifically - girl babies.

A friend of mine is expecting her third child in a few months. It will be her first girl!

A little sewing was in order!

I made a good size baby blanket with a lovely Tanya Whelan rose print and backed with minky - yum! This was the first time I made bias binding for a large-ish prject. Most of the time I just cut my binding straight. But I really wanted to make the corners of this little blanket to be curved so the binding had to be on the bias. I'm very happy with how it turned out.

The minky was a little bit slippery to work with but I just basted the heck out of it and all was fine.

I also made a little tag lovey with a pretty flannel print and a scrap of the super soft minky. The tags are made from grosgrain ribbon, rick rac and twill tape.

Yay for girl babies!

Friday, July 15, 2011


I love me some good pie. So I thought I'd share a little bit of how I made my very first pecan pie the other day.

I usually roll out pie crust on parchment paper (you'll see why). Before I get rolling though, I trace my pie plate onto the bottom side of the parchment. Then I draw another line about an inch and a half out from the first one. Flip it over and you'll still be able to see the circles when you roll out the pie crust and know that you've made it large enough for you pie plate.

Once you're ready to transfer the crust to the pie plate you can just pick up the parchment paper and flip the crust into the plate! This is awesome because whenever I try to roll the crust onto the rolling pin to transfer it, I always ALWAYS screw it up. Carefully peel off the parchment and ease the crust into the edges of the pie plate.

This recipe calls for the crust to be partially baked before adding the filling. I line the crust with foil and then use dried beans as pie weights.

Adding the cooked filling to a warm partially baked crust means that the pie cooks up nicely and the crust doesn't get soggy.


I may or may not have had pie for breakfast. I'll never tell.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Paper Piecing is a Puzzle

As you already know, I am a huuuuuge fan of the mad piecing skills of the ladies over in the Ringo Pie group on flickr. I stalk the group and am completely amazed at everything they do.

Recently, I was invited to participate in cocorico, another paper piecing bee and I am both excited and nervous!

You see, while I am a huge fan of this type of patchwork, I haven't really done any of it myself. The only paper piecing I've done is the circle of geese block and it was really hard to wrap my brain around the whole concept.

But I accepted the invitation because I am so completely inspired by the other members and don't want to miss this chance to learn more and push myself to develop this skill.

July and August are practice months so I decided to jump right in and draft my very first piecing pattern all by myself - a dragonfly!

Let me tell you, when I finished this block I felt like a total rock star! Something really clicked while working on the pattern and sewing it up wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. There are some little oops places but nothing too bad for a first try. The hardest part for me was definitely figuring out the pattern. I think looking at it and figuring out the puzzle of how to piece it really helped my brain understand this technique in a new way.

There is still an amazing amount to learn but I'm excited to see how this bee develops over the next year.

Do you do paper piecing? Any tips or tricks?

Monday, July 11, 2011


Our family will be heading to a very special camp this summer. Camp JAM (Juvenile Arthritis Matters) is for kids and teens with juvenile arthritis and their families. We've taken to referring to camp by its theme since Owen has only a vague understanding of his arthritis and everything that means for him. Last year was Pirate Camp.

This year it's Cowboy Camp!

And thanks to Grams, Owen will be sporting some fabulous cowboy apparel this year.

One of the things that makes Camp JAM so special is that the entire family is able to come. So while the kids are off being kids, parents can spend time meeting other families dealing with the same challenges.

Because the whole family is able to spend this special time together, Miss Bailey also has some new (PINK!) accessories to round out her cowgirl outfit.

No doubt you will be seeing more of these puppies in future posts. It's been a bit challenging to get the kids to wear any other shoes lately.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Random Stuff

We had a lovely Independence Day here in our corner of the world. The weather was beautiful and the kids were totally into the holiday this year - as seen in Miss B's festive outfit.

A large part of our afternoon was spent launching a soda bottle rocket in the yard. Here's our little scientist getting everything set up.

Owen made this awesome contraption at a weird science party last spring. It has been a HUGE hit. A 2 liter soda bottle is outfitted with fins and a nose cone. The cap is replaced with a cork and one of those needle thingys used to inflate sports balls. You put a little bit of water into the bottle, jam in the cork,and then use a bike tire pump to inject air in through the needle. Aaaaaand BLASTOFF!

This was the first year we let the kids stay up for fireworks. Bailey was scared of all the noise but Owen was thrilled. He loved the sparklers, snakes, pop-its, and fountains.

And there has been some mild craftiness happening around here as well. I finished up my last block for Bee Vintage. It's been a lot of fun participating in my first online quilting bee. I'm sure I'll do more once summer is over and life gets back to a somewhat more predictable routine (with a lot less sunshine). Right now it's just so lovely to hang out with the kids and soak up the summertime.

I also made a block for the Tokyo Quilt Festival, which you can read more about here.

This block will be part of the Partnership Quilts made up of blocks from people all around the world! The quilts will then be donated to charity. This year's theme is squares and triangles. Don't look too closely because there are a lot of points that aren't so pointy and at least one corner that is all wackadoo. But I still like it and had fun playing with tiny half square triangles. The entire block measures 9" x 9" so each of those triangle blocks are just one inch square.

And apparently I was so excited about this block I took a picture before I even squared it up and trimmed the edges. Doh!

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Today I spent most of the day outside with the family. We recently had a house guest for a couple of weeks and this was our first weekend being just us again. The kiddos ran all over, got dirt and sand in some very unmentionable places, and are sporting rosy sun-kissed cheeks.

I, on the other hand, am sporting some sore thumbs and fingertips from shelling a bucketload of pecans. Actually, only half a bucketload. There are more to be shelled at some later date.

Seriously, these are some tough nuts to crack! I think I finally found a method that works for me but does involve the use of a hammer as well as a nutcracker. They were brought to us fresh from Oklahoma, where my sister-in-law gathered them to bring to us.

Some of these will be making their way into a pecan pie and the rest into homemade cinnamon buns. Yum!

Wishing everyone here in the States a safe and happy Independence Day!

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Managed to get the Hope Valley hexagon project finished up a couple of days ago. The quilting went really quickly and binding it was a snap. It's been awhile since I've done something smaller like this.

The back is an older Amy Butler print (Martini in mustard) and I was pleased with how well it coordinates with the Hope Valley stripe.

Originally, I was planning to make a bag with the hexagon panel but I liked it all laid out so much that I changed my mind and made a table runner. After finishing it, though, I put it on top of a cabinet we have in our dining area and it's like it was MADE to go right there. I probably couldn't have made it fit so perfectly if I had tried. And let's face facts - it's much less likely to get all crusty with kid/food debris than if it was on the table.

This was a really fun project to work on while we had company and I couldn't really get to my machine. So much so that I want to find another hand sewing project for the rest of the summer! Any suggestions?