Wednesday, July 30, 2014


The girls came to put backs on their pillows today. Two of them finished up their pillows. I always put a band of contrast on the back and they liked that idea so I taught them how to do it too....
 The third pillow will be finished soon. The maker decided to add a lot more hand quilting to the front of hers, so it is taking a little bit longer. Didn't the girls do an awesome job?

After I took them home (with a stop for lunch on the way!) I came back to make a few pillows too. Ally had requested some throw pillows for the dorm and had picked out colors she wanted them made in. Three are simple squares, but on the fourth she requested that I applique her name. Not something I am great at! But I did it and I'm quite pleased with the results....
 and the backs....
In case you are curious, the backs are two pieces overlapped (envelope style so they can be removed & washed). I simply band the top piece with a strip of contrast, just like you would do a binding. On these I tucked a piece of ricrac underneath so it peaks out. Oh, and the orange ones needed a bit of an extension so I made the contrast a little bit wider. Easy as pie and it adds a bit of pizzazz to the back.

That's what I've been up to today! what about you?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Placemat Project wrap up

if you've been following along on the Placemat Project swap you know that I was still waiting to share the placemat I sent off to my fourth partner and what I received. Well the swap is complete and now I can share! This is a fun story....

My fourth swap partner was my buddy Trae! I was determined to keep this fact a secret from her. Several times she came to my house for crafty Tuesday and I had to remember to hide her placemat and try very hard to avoid the topic of the swap! I had her placemat finished early on and was just waiting to mail it to her (yes, I could have delivered it to her personally but I chose not to!).
 I had been eyeing up these arrow blocks for a while, wanting to try them. I decided this was the perfect opportunity! I used this tutorial. Trae loves clear jewel tones (especially blues!) and is a big fan of Kaffe. Last Monday, just a few days before the deadline, I popped it in the mail.

After a couple of days of instagram banter, during which time I became a bit suspicious, I opened up my mailbox and found my final Placemat Project bundle from...... you guessed it..... Trae! and get this.... she made me not ONE placemat, but TWO!
 Sorry I had not ironed them yet in these photos, but aren't they wonderful? Another star placemat to go with my first two, and some awesome EPP flowers, which Trae makes in her sleep, I swear! And get this.... the backs? All set for Christmas!
 Trae had actually posted these fabrics on Instagram and I had shamelessly begged for her scraps.... never guessing they were for me in the first place!

So here are my FIVE finished placemats, waiting for me to use them....
Thank you so much swap partners! I love them so much. I hear rumors of another round of The Placemat Project in the fall.... I can't wait! Are you in?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Texas Roadtrip winner!

Thanks to all of you who visited the blog earlier in the week for my stop in the Texas Roadtrip. It was fun to have you along for our little journey to San Antonio. The winner of the awesome Aurifil thread is......

Bethany who said.... "I have only been to Texas once, and it was for a 2 hour layover! San Antonio is a place I need to visit! Thanks for the block!"

Congrats Bethany!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

revisiting doors

The other day I was going through some of my supplies and came across these forgotten stitcheries from 2012. After our trip to London (has it really been 2 years? seems like yesterday.) I was infatuated with the beautiful, colorful doorways we had seen. I recreated 2 of the door photos I had taken in fabric. Specifically, wool felt and embroidery on quilting cottons....
 And there they sat, all folded up in a drawer. So I bought two artists canvases & stretched them over, creating some interesting wall art for our house and another wonderful memory of the London trip.

Not exact replicas of the photos, but pretty close I think. Every time I look at them, I fantasize about going back.... ahhhh someday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

teaching kids to sew, big stitch quilting

The girls were back at ellyn's place today to work on their economy block pillows. They liked the big stitch hand quilting I had done on my sample & asked if I could teach them that. Why certainly!
 I love to hand stitch (I know that makes me an oddball to some of you!). I find it very relaxing. And ever since I discovered tiger tape, my hand stitching looks so even and tidy, I love it even more! So I got the tiger tape out and the girls set to work.

They did a wonderful job! Two of them found it very relaxing and fun. The third.... well, not so much! She openly declared that it was not her favorite part of sewing. I assured her that it was quite all right. She tried it and it wasn't for her! I told her many of my adult sewing friends feel the same way.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Texas Roadtrip QAL San Antonio!

Hello friends! Welcome to the ellyn's place stop on the Texas Roadtrip. I am blogging to you from Allen, TX which is just north of Dallas. But I am lucky enough to tell you about one of my favorite Texas cities, other than Allen of course, San Antonio. 

Our family first visited San Antonio in 2003 shortly after becoming residents of Texas. We went down Thanksgiving weekend and had such a wonderful time. Walking along the riverfront, especially with the Christmas Lights shining, was such a joy! We also purchased seats to sit along the river and watch the boat parade on the day after Thanksgiving. So beautiful!

While you are in San Antonio, you will want to visit the Historic Alamo (which is right in the center of the cit.! I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't that), and maybe take a trip to nearby Sea World.

Nowadays we head down toward San Antonio fairly often. Our youngest, Ally, is about to start college at Texas State in San Marcos just north of San Antonio. Last time we were there, while she was at her orientation, I talked hubby into taking me to explore the local quilt shops.

At the north end of San Antonio, in Schertz, TX, we found The Scrappy Quilter. What a delightful shop! The ladies there were so friendly and helpful and I had a wonderful time exploring their awesome selection of fabric, patterns and notions. Even though it was not yet July, they shared with me their completed row for the Row by Row Experience. If you drop by the shop now (and I hope you will!) you can pick up the pattern for this stunning row....

Are you working on the Texas Roadtrip quilt? Here's your San Antonio block....
This block is called the Alamo Star (perfect for San Antonio don't you think?) This is a simple paper pieced block, perfect for newbies to foundation paper piecing like me! You will need to make four sections from this pattern....
 Stitch them into two pairs...
 and then stitch your two pairs together....
 Look! you have a star!
 Now put some wide borders on all four sides....
 And trim your block to 8 1/2 inches square, placing your ruler on an angle so you end up with a wonky setting (ok, you don't HAVE TO make your block wonky, but I highly recommend it!)

And guess what? The Texas Roadtrip sponsor, Aurifil, has offered up a fabulous giveaway for one visitor today. To win this great pack of Aurifil thread, leave a comment below. I will choose a winner this Friday, July 25....

Happy Travels friends! If you just found me today through the roadtrip, I hope you will come back and visit often. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

this and that

This week has been unusually cool for Texas in July. We even had one day of glorious rain! Perfect weather for hanging out in the studio.

I finished up a birthday gift for a friend that I will share with you later....

 Tidied up the sewing space and decided I needed a new ironing board cover. After a little stash digging, I found these lovely fabrics which coordinate nicely with my room and freshen up my ironing board. I wonder what I intended to make with them originally? Hmm...
 The lady who works at the dry cleaners has taken a liking to the Little Wallets I've been making. She requested a teal one for her daughter....
So nothing major happening here, just enjoying the cool temperatures (which I understand will leave us today. boo) and playing in my sewing room. Not a bad life if you ask me!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Teaching kids to sew... economy blocks

 Three of the teen girls came to sew at ellyn's place today.....

 I taught them how to make economy blocks. Each of them made four blocks and assembled them into a pillow top.
 The girls have become expert quilters, sewing with minimal instruction, pressing their blocks and having a blast as they go.
I just love having them here. They will be back soon to finish up their pillows.

Friday, July 11, 2014

update on the placemat project

I've been having so much fun with the Placemat Project. It's a great instagram swap. You can read my first post about it here. Since that post I have received my second placemat from Laurel.....
 And my third placemat from Hayley (along with an extra fabric treat!)
 Look how amazing they all look (together with the first one from Hannah)...
 Meanwhile, my third placemat made it's way to Hannah. Yes! The same Hannah who had sent me my first one! You can see her first 2 placemats in the background, one with Xs and one with Os. Isn't it funny that I had already made her +s before I even saw these!
I can't wait to receive my fourth one and send mine off too so I can share with you!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

teaching kids to machine sew - our last day

I know I promised to take you along on a field trip today. Unfortunately it was cancelled at the last minute. The girls were actually happy to have another day to sew! First they finished off the bindings on their little quilts, so they could take them home with them.

 Then I taught them how to make half square triangles. They had so much fun laying them out in different patterns and deciding how they wanted to sew them together.

I'm so proud of how hard they worked this week and how much they learned in a short time! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

teaching kids to sew - handsewing the binding

Day three of sewing camp! First we took a little field trip.....
The girls picked out backing and binding for their quilt tops. Then back to the house where their little "extra" quilts were quilted and bound, ready for them to hand stitch the binding down on the back...

Wow! this was HARD! So glad I had two helpers today to help the girls through this step. They did really well on this tough step. Tomorrow is our last day together...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Teaching kids to machine sew - first quilts!

I have a huge bin of 5 inch squares (come on, tell me you don't?) and I let the girls dig through them yesterday to plan their first quilt tops. We talked about value, showed how different fabrics show up best next to contrasting fabrics with a different value. We also talked about math (haha they were so very pleased about this! NOT!). Both girls laid out their planned quilts on the floor.

Then they began to sew them together. They did a really great job, with only a few small appearances of the dreaded seam ripper.

By the end of the day today, we had 2 completed quilt tops! Here they are with one of my teen helpers
Tomorrow I am taking them to Hobby Lobby to pick out backing fabric and binding, then I will quilt the quilts for them. And on Thursday we have a fun field trip planned! Stay tuned.

Monday, July 7, 2014

teaching kids to machine sew day one

Last year I had a group of young crafters come to my house every day for sewing camp. We did all hand sewing projects and they had a blast! This year, 2 of the young ladies asked if they could learn to sew on the machine. At age 11, I was confident that they could handle it. Today they arrived for their first lesson.

I found several awesome resources online for free printable sewing machine worksheets. The girls loved doing them and quickly became comfortable sewing on my machines. They did most of the worksheets without thread in the machine, but for the dot to dot it was fun to stitch with thread until the picture evolved!

Here are links to the sites where I got the printables:
Free craftsy download by So Sew Easy
Free sewing sheets by Skip to my Lou
Free sewing practice sheets by Crunchy Frugalista

The girls got so good at it today, they began sewing fabric squares together for small quilts. I'll share more about that tomorrow!

Friday, July 4, 2014

whew! my Marcelle Medallion quilt top is done

This baby has been a real labour of love!
Three months ago, my friends Lisa and Sarah taught me how to foundation paper piece. I thought "if I can get the center medallion for the Marcelle Medallion quilt done right surely I can tackle the rest!" Well guess what friends? IT HAPPENED! I learned so many new skills with this quilt top, improved my precision piecing immensely and even spent a little quality time with my seam ripper along the way but it's done!

Pattern, Marcelle Medallion by Alexia Marcelle Abegg (from her Liberty Love book)
fabric, 9 different solids, sorry I did not get the names of each
finished size, 60 inches square

Off it goes to the quilter. I have to say, I'm quite happy with this one!