Friday, November 30, 2012

They don't call me an enabler for nothing :)

In need of some retail therapy this weekend? Brenda at Pink Castle Fabrics has got you covered! Use coupon code INVENTORY20 to take 20% off your order!!!

I'm picking up some Notting Hill...

and some Lucky Penny bike path prints...

and some Simply Color, fresh off the delivery truck! Stay tuned on Monday for a big reveal of a quilt I made for Quiltmaker, using Simply Color :)

Have a great Friday everyone!

Sea of Stars Quilt Along: All About Half-Square Triangles

Welcome to the second post of the Sea of Stars Quilt Along. Just joining us? The first post, about fabric selection, can be found here.

As you have probably noticed, there's quite a few half-square triangles in this quilt. Half-square triangles are one of the most common units found in quilt blocks, with its popularity first rising in the 1800s, toward the end of the Industrial Revolution. Over the years, quilters have used many different ways to make half-square triangles, and it seems that every quilter has a favorite.

My personal favorite method, shown here on my blog many times, is the 4-in-1 method, which is the method shown and used in the pattern. I prefer this method because it's quick, requires no prep work beyond cutting your fabric, and because it works well for me. However, I've heard concerns from some quilters about the bias edges that the 4-in-1 method creates. Indeed, the edges of the half-square units created with this method do have bias edges, but I've honestly never had an issue with them. If your bias edges have an attitude and give you a hard time, a quick spritz of starch will make them behave.

If the 4-in-1 method just isn't for you, let me show you a few other ways to put your half-square triangles together.

The 2-in-1 method is an adaptation to the old school method of cutting actual triangles and piecing them together. Not that there's anything wrong with that old school method, it's just got a lot of room for error, in my opinion. The 2-in-1 method is the art of pairing two squares together, drawing a line with your chosen marking tool across the diagonal the lighter of the two squares, and sewing a scant 1/4" on either side of that line.

Mark a line on the diagonal of the light squre

Then, you cut across the drawn line to create two separate units, which you then press and trim. You may have seen this method before, but I do the math a bit differently, which allows for a little bit more wiggle room in trimming as well as a bit of math ease. To determine the square size to start with for this method, simply add 1" to the size you plan to trim to. For instance, if I am going to trim my half-square triangles to 3 1/2", then I will need 4 1/2" squares to create those units.


The 8-in-1 method is quickly gaining popularity in my sewing room, thanks to Cherie, who introduced it to me earlier this year in her Carpenter's Star tutorial. The only downside of this method is that it does take a bit of math-related brainpower and a few moments with your chosen marking tool. This method is much like putting four of the 2-in-1 method squares together to create one large square that will ultimately yield 8 identical half-square triangle units. So, if I want to trim my half-square triangles down to 3 1/2", I would want to cut two squares measuring 9". Then, I would take my lighter square, and mark a line down both of the diagonals of the square, for a total two lines.

Mark two lines, creating an X

I would then stitch a scant 1/4" to the right and left of each of those two lines, for a total of four seams.

Sew a scant 1/4" on either side of the lines

To trim this block properly, I would first trim the squares in half lengthwise and then widthwise. Without moving the cut units, I would then cut along the lines that I drew on the light square, creating eight half-square triangle units to press and trim.


Regardless of the HST method you choose to use, to trim your HSTs down to the size you need, simply use a square ruler with a 45 degree marking on it. Align the seam in the center of your unit with the 45 degree marking, and then align the raw edges with the proper markings for the size you want. Typically, I first trim as shown in the picture below, going 1/4" larger than the size I truly want. I then rotate the unit and ruler and trim the remaining two raw edges to make sure my unit is the proper size.

Trim HST

Do you have a favorite HST making method? Or one I didn't discuss here? I'd love to hear about it! The next Sea of Stars quilt along post will be on December 14th. Go ahead and start cutting and tackling your half-square triangles, with whatever HST method you prefer to use. On the 14th, I'll be sharing some tips for creating your flying geese units. Have a great day!
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

WiP Wednesday: The one with the bandwagon

Yep, this is me, officially hopping on the cross-stitch bandwagon. :)


I picked up The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery's adorable It's a Kawaii Winter Wonderland Countdown pattern over the long holiday weekend, and I busted out some Aida cloth and floss and started stitching last night. Cross-stitching was the first kind of sewing I ever did, a zillion years ago. My mom taught me when I was a little girl, and I really enjoyed it until I became a moody teenager, so it was a kind of nifty to sit on the couch with my hot cocoa last night and do some (mostly) mindless counted cross-stitch. It all came back to me like riding a bike.

In other WiP-y news, I can finally share my finished EPP honeycomb pouch with you guys, now that it's made it to its new owner. I made this pouch for my friend Amy, better known as Sukie, as an early birthday present. I love the Sweetwater Mama Said Sew Sewing Guide print I used for the background, and how it contrasts with the bright scrappy EPP honeycomb pieces.


I also started quilting my EPP starflower pillow yesterday with some simple straight lines. I forgot how much I hate straight line quilting. Don't get me wrong, I love the way it looks, but the actual act of doing it feels so monotonous to me. Fortunately, this pillow is only about 21" square, so hopefully it won't take much longer.


Speaking of EPP, I got some happy mail yesterday. I ordered some new pieces last week that just arrived. I picked up the paper pieces to make Katy's fab Spring Carnival blocks and an octagon block of some kind, as well as some new straw needles. I also got a wonderful package of beautiful fabrics I ordered from Pink Chalk, including various prints from Ellen Luckett Baker's new Stamped line and two prints from Zen Chic's Juggling Summer collection. And that's just the stuff I ordered before Thanksgiving! My mailbox is going to be overflowing soon once my Black Friday purchases start rolling in. Fortunately, I think I'm about done Christmas shopping, I just need to get my own personal outlet of Santa's Sweatshop up and running so I can tackle my handmade presents!



Stay tuned on Friday for the next installment of the Sea of Stars quilt-along, where I'll share with you more than ever wanted to know about half-square triangles. If you haven't already purchased your pattern, you can find it at Craftsy, and you get a great deal on your fabrics at Fat Quarter Shop, with coupon code JINGLE through the end of the day today. If you're joining the quilt-along fun, be sure to join the Flickr group right here.

What are you working on this week? Write it up and share it over at Freshly Pieced today. Have a great Wednesday!
Monday, November 26, 2012

Ruby Star Wrap Along: Plucky Pantry Box

Happy Monday to you! I hope you all had a wonderful post-Thanksgiving weekend. I'm pleased to say that I scored some great deals this weekend, both for gifts and for me :) The best part about my weekend, though, was working on my Ruby Star Wrapping projects, the Plucky Pantry Box on page 25 and Allison's Favorite Oatmeal Cookies on page 109.

Ruby Star Wrap-Along

Let me start by saying that I love Melody Miller's fabric, and her book, to no surprise, is quickly becoming a new favorite. Don't have the book yet? No problem! You can pick it up at:

At first, I wasn't so sure that I'd enjoy using my prized fabric scraps as wrapping material, but after making two Plucky Pantry Boxes, I'm sold. Not only are the boxes just darling, but they hardly took any more time than wrapping a present with wrapping paper, and are way cuter.


I used Pellon's Wonder Under, as noted in the book, to adhere the fabric to my boxes and it stuck to the two boxes I used beautifully. I used a rice box and a cereal bar box, for the record, and they came apart quite easily and came back together quite well, thanks to my dusty and woefully under-used, but still functional glue gun! As far as the fabric was concerned, I used about a fat quarter each for both boxes, with lots of scraps from the cereal bar box fabric. I will definitely be making more of these boxes for the holidays!

Ruby Star Wrap Along box #1

I'm a bit of a cookie aficionado, so I was excited to try out Allison's Favorite Oatmeal Cookies. Unfortunately, the day that I made them, my munchkin wasn't quite up to performing his usual duties as my kitchen sidekick and official taste tester, so I was forced to eat several cookies so I could properly describe them. ;)


In a word, they are delicious. I added chocolate chips to the oatmeal batter, which add a nice touch of soft texture in an otherwise chewy cookie. I used old-fashioned oats, to yield a chewier cookie, but if you'd prefer a softer cookie with less chew, use quick cooking oats instead. Also, be sure to allow the cookies to cool on the hot cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes after taking them out of the oven; remove them while too hot, and they'll crumble, and if you let them cool completely, they may stick to the cookie sheet and fall apart. These cookies would make a great teacher gift this holiday season!


Be sure to link up your finished Ruby Star Wrap Along project at our wonderful hostess's blog right here for a chance to win a fab prize! Later this week, the Ruby Star Wrap Along continues with posts from Bolt Neighborhood and The Long Thread.

Happy Cyber Monday to you, by the way! If you're looking for me, I'll either be hunting through the deals on Kindle books at Amazon (up to 80% off!), picking up some new Paper Pieces for EPP'ing (with a 25% off discount), or doing some Cyber Monday fabric shopping at Pink Castle FabricsFat Quarter Shop, or Intrepid Thread, all of which have some great deals today! Have a great day :)
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Odds and Ends

It's only a few days before Thanksgiving, and I feel like I'm already running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I feel scatter-brained, to say the least, even though I've got lists coming out my ears. Lists of cleaning to do before our guests arrive on Thursday, lists of Christmas presents that I've bought and where I've hidden them (as I'm known to completely lose gifts altogether once they're hidden), a list of last minute grocery items I know I will need to pick up tomorrow to ensure freshness, a list of my sewing projects so that when I have a moment or two of free time I can at least think about sewing), and so forth.

Lists, lists, and more lists!

My class on free motion quilting last week at Inspire went really, really well. I had a lot of fun with it, and I think my students did too! We talked about four different beginning styles of FMQ and did a lot of practicing. It felt really great to get to meet other quilters and to share my knowledge. I'm definitely looking forward to teaching again soon at Inspire.


When I got home from class, I got right to work on my last bee block of the year for Lee, with filled with scrumptious solids. Her quilt is going to be so gorgeous once she gets all of our blocks together, I can't wait to see it put together!

Bee block for Lee

It's been a long couple of days in my neck of the woods. If you don't follow on me Instagram, you probably don't know that last Thursday, I had to cart my family to the ER, as my husband was convinced he had appendicitis. He was in horrible pain, to the point where he could barely move. It was scary, but I tried to put on my game face, so my four-and-a-half year old wouldn't feel as scared as I did inside. Once he got to a room in the ER and the nurses and doctor started taking a look at him, it was evident that they thought he had a kidney stone. After some tests, the diagnosis was confirmed, and he was sent home with some prescriptions to make him more comfortable while he waited at home for the stone to pass. Five days later, still no progress. He's still in pain off and on, but I'm crossing my fingers that before Thursday morning he'll have that moment and feel much better.

Over the weekend, we went to our last soccer game of the season for the kiddo. They won their game and had a great time, and even got trophies afterward. He really enjoyed his first season of soccer, and I loved cheering him on. I have a feeling we'll be doing more soccer next year. He's home from school all week for Thanksgiving break, and so far, I've managed to not break my neck while navigating the living room floor, constantly covered in Legos. Knock on wood!

I volunteered to make something for the upcoming holiday silent auction at the kiddo's school - just some simple zipper pouches. I think I'm aiming to make a set of three, in varying sizes. I've pulled some fabrics that I think might be fun to use together and that would be appealing to the families at school. Next, I need to find some fabrics to use for the linings.

This pile wants to be some pouches when it grows up

And that's what's going on in my neck of the woods. How are you doing? Ready for Thanksgiving? Have a great day, and happy sewing :)
Monday, November 19, 2012

Sea of Stars Quilt Along: Fabric selection


Welcome to the first post of the Sea of Stars Quilt Along! If you've already got the pattern, then the next step to take is to pick your fabrics. Oh, how I love fabric. Fabric selection is definitely one of my favorite parts of the quilting process. So, let's talk fabric, shall we?

Sea of Stars - detail 3

For my quilt, I used some Michael Miller Cotton Couture solids mixed with charms of Liberty of London's Bloomsbury Gardens. When I started thinking about this quilt along, I started to think about what fabrics I would pick for my next Sea of Stars quilt.

Near the top of my list is using Madrona Road, which is quite possibly my favorite fabric line of 2012. I happen to have some in my stash, and I think it would work really nicely with this pattern.


Another line I'm thinking about using is Mama Said Sew. I love the contrast in the colors here, and I've got a fat quarter bundle that is screaming to get used. I love the classic feel of the red, black, and grey in this line, and the text prints in this line are just fantastic.


The other line that I keep thinking about is Joel Dewberry's latest, Notting Hill. Having seen the fun, vibrant prints in person at Sewing Summit, I know I will definitely be stashing some soon. This could be make a really great girlie quilt...


When you're thinking about the fabric for your Sea of Stars quilt, here's a few tips and pointers to think about:

1) I'd recommend sticking with small to medium scale prints, if you're using prints. Large scale prints will really get lost in this pattern, since the pieces are fairly small.

2) When selecting your fabrics for the lattice of your quilt (shown in light gray on my quilt), if you use a directional print, order some extra yardage, as you may need to use more fabric to ensure that your directional print is uniform throughout. Solids are great for the lattice, but a using a print would be a great way to make your quilt unique.

3) Don't be afraid to use more color on this one! Use a bright contrasting color for your lattice, for instance, or for your star frames fabric.

If you don't have fabric in your stash for this quilt, let me help you out with that. The wonderful folks at Fat Quarter Shop are celebrating the start of this quilt along with coupon code SeaofStars, which will give you 10% off your supplies for the quilt along! Once you start getting your fabrics together, hop on over to the Stitching with Don't Call Me Betsy to share a photo of your fabrics and to join the discussion. Make sure to grab a button, too! Happy sewing :)


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WiP Wednesday: The one with lots of hand sewing

I cannot believe Thanksgiving is next week! I feel like there's tons to do, and not enough time to do everything in, as usual, but I'm plugging away as best as I can. Here's what's going on in my neck of the woods...

Pillow Talk Swap pillow

Pillow Talk Swap - finished pillow

4x5 blocks


Lucky Penny quilt - Unfortunately, I have to keep this one under wraps for now, but here's a tiny sneak peek...


still going:
EPP starflower pillow - I've officially run out of my background fabric, but I ordered more last week so hopefully it will be here any day now. If you had told me last year at this time that I would be doing lots of hand sewing, I would have laughed in your face. I long joked that I was allergic to hand sewing. I thoroughly detested it. But in the last year, I think my sewing horizons have expanded, and I have come to actually like hand sewing. A little bit. The lack of speed is something that I still get frustrated with from time to time, but in general, I'm really enjoying my little hand projects, especially the English Paper Piecing (EPP) variety.

EPP progress

bee block for Lee - Does ironing count as progress? If so, this one's moving right along ;) I'm hoping to work on it today or tomorrow.

new this week:
EPP honeycomb pouch - I've got at least six pouches to make for the h-olidays, and I'm starting with this one, adorned with some brightly colored EPP honeycomb pieces. These things are tiny! 3/4"! It was quick to baste them, but sewing them down onto my background fabric was tedious to say the least. I like the looks of this one so far.

EPP Honeycomb pouch

Teaching - I'm teaching a free motion quilting class this Friday at Inspire, which I'm very much looking forward to. Free motion quilting is often my favorite part of the entire quilting process. I cannot for the life of me find the quilting samples that I've used in the past, so I made a few new ones to bring to class. Teaching at Inspire has been a lot of fun so far; I really enjoyed teaching my Mariner's Star pillow last week and I'm having fun planning a few new classes for January.

FMQ samples for Friday's class

Sea of Stars quilt-along - The Sea of Stars quilt along will kick off this coming Monday with a post about choosing fabrics for this quilt. If you haven't gotten your pattern yet, you can pick it up in my Pattern Shop or at my Craftsy shop. No need to buy your fabric just yet, unless you know exactly what you want, otherwise Monday's post will help you make your choices. Planning to join in the quilt along fun? Grab a button and add it to your blog!


I'm gearing up to work on my handmade holidays list of to do's, as I plan to gift a lot of handmade items this year, so I suspect next week's WiP list will look quite different, with a focus on the Sea of Stars quilt along and finishing holiday gifts, rather than fun EPP projects for me :) I'm linking up with Lee's Work in Progress Wednesday linky, pop on over there to see lots of other bloggers working their way through their To Do list.
Monday, November 12, 2012

4x5 Blocks Fall Quarter

If only the post office were open today! It's a mail holiday today, but I am all ready to bring some bee blocks to the post office this morning. Oh well, it can wait until tomorrow. At least I can share with you guys!

For the 4x5 bee this quarter, I had a hard time coming up with a block I wanted to make, until I drafted a paper pieced star with a simple ring around it. I made my sample block in my colors, and it worked out perfectly, so I got to work, pulling the right scraps for the right people. Here's a rundown on how the blocks turned out...

4x5 block for me
block for: me
fabrics: Cosmo Cricket tape measure, Quilt Blocks, Simply Color Ikat Diamonds in Blue, Modern Meadow, Sophie, Dear Stella Basketweave, Katie Jump Rope, Summersault Pinwheel in Grass, Flea Market Fancy Eyelet in Green, Simply Color Ikat Diamonds in Green, Remix Argyle in Green

block for: Jenniffier
fabrics: Free Spirit Designer Essentials Houndstooth in Orange, Denyse Schmidt Aunt Edna, Khristian Howell's The Woodlands, Simply Color Ikat Diamonds in Orange, Oval Elements in Key Lime, Modern Whimsy, Ty Pennington, Prince Charming, Erin McMorris Weekends Hopscotch in Lime, Tufted Tweets, Sophie, Echino, Oval Elements in Cranberry, Terrain

block for: sewswithcharlie
fabrics: Echo Pebble Stripe, Hullabaloo Stripe Flowers, Hullabaloo Tonal Flowers, Vintage Modern Sky Swirls, Kate Spain's 12 Days of Christmas, Juicy Blossoms, Simply Color Ikat Diamonds in Aqua

block for: mochawildchild
fabrics: Metro Living Circles in Pewter, Simply Color Leafy Stripe in Eggplant, Simply Color Ikat Diamonds in Eggplant, Simply Color Sprigs in Eggplant, Simply Color Dotted Zig Zags in Eggplant, Michael Miller Ta Dot, Cosmo Cricket, Parson Gray, Treasures and Tidbits

block for: swedishfishie
fabrics: Free Spirit Designer Houndstooth in Violet, Shades of Grey Rag Tag, Heirloom Marquis Amethsyt, 1001 Peeps, Tufted Tweets, Aviary 2 Lodge Lattice in Purple

block for: creativesun
fabrics: Summersville Crosshatch, Tufted Tweets, Vintage Modern polka dot in red, Little Apples Argyle in Red, Modern Meadow Herringbone in Pond, Simply Color Ikat Diamonds in Aqua, Lilly Belle Moire in Aquamarine, 12 Days of Christmas in Aqua, Oval Elements in Papaya, Central Park Flowers, Amy Butler Lotus Full Moon Dot, Sandi Henderson Henna Garden in Pumpkin, Carolyn Gavin Wild Thyme, Juicy Blossoms, Simply Color Dotted Zig Zag in Orange, Simply Color Sprigs in Orange

These are definitely going to the post office tomorrow! The last day to mail for this quarter is in just under two weeks, on November 24th, so I'm happy to get them out a bit early. Next on my To Do list is a bee block for Lee, which happens to be my last bee block for the year! I cannot believe how quickly the end of the year is creeping up on us. It's Thanksgiving next week! I don't even want to know how many days there are until Christmas because I know the number will shock me. I better get to shopping soon! Have a wonderful Monday :)
Friday, November 9, 2012

Pillow Talk Swap Round 9 - off to the post office!

I am so excited to head out to the post office this morning, though I'm dreading the line :) I feel really confident that I've made something my partner will love for the Pillow Talk Swap and I'm super excited to ship it off. I know that at the very least that I love it!

Pillow Talk Swap - finished pillow

My Paintbox pillow is made up of nine 6" blocks, framed by one of my favorite Sweetwater prints, from Reunion, Town News in Cream (which is super hard to find, but I spotted it at an Etsy shop today!). Each block represents a color, ranging from pink to black, with five different print scraps and a solid used in each color. If you love these blocks, Elizabeth Hartman hosted a quilt-along right around when I started sewing and has lots of options for making your own painbox quilt.

Pillow Talk Swap - quilting close up

Each block is quilted in matching 50 wt Aurifil thread, using a safety-pin-inspired free-motion design in the solid parts of each block, and a concentric square in the printed part of each block. The quilting is super dense, which is just the way I like a pillow. I hope my partner likes it too! The outer border is quilted using a skinny figure eight design, in cream 50 wt Aurifil thread.

My favorite of all of them by far is the purple one...could be because the solid I used is an Oakshott cotton. It's so sparkly, I just love it.

Pillow Talk Swap - ready to send - detail

So, here's hoping that my package will make my partner's day. Fingers crossed! I hope you have a wonderful day! Happy Monday!

Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a mood teen boy and a chatty six-year-old girl and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?
The Epic Sampler BOM Club kicks off Oct 1st
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