Make a T-shirt Quilt (part 1 of 3) VIDEO

Today I’m hanging out with Jamie from CRAFT, and teacher and quilter extraordinaire (and good friend of mine) Tami Bradley! We are doing a 3-part series on T-shirt Quilts! Today is part one, and we are talking about starting a t-shirt quilt! We’ll take you through interfacing (a BIG thank you to Therm-o-web for the Heat-n-Bond interfacing), cutting, and designing your t-shirt quilt. If you miss the live video, you can always watch this as a recording afterwards! And come back next week (and the following week) to learn how to put your quilt together and finish your quilt!

Breakfast Club 2012 is Complete!

I had the joy of teaching the “Breakfast Club” at Quiltique for the past 13 months. For the past 12 months, on the second Saturday of each month, I’ve spent an hour with these amazing ladies. I get to talk them through the block for the month, and then they go home and sew.

Each month, they’ve brought in their blocks from the previous month. This last month, they brought in their completed quilt tops.

It was amazing. Over 40 women finished their quilts. That is nearly two-thirds of the class. And every single one was amazing. AMAZING! I’ve turned them into a little slide show for you here. Each of these quilts incorporates the same basic 12 blocks… done with different fabrics, and put together in different formations.

While presenting their quilts, the ladies had the opportunity to share what they learned during this last year. The answers were humbling. Some learned how to square up their blocks. Some learned paper piecing. There was one gal who had never used a sewing machine before starting on this quilt. Before we were halfway through sharing all the completed quilt tops, I was crying.

The crying might have been, in part, because of the late nights I’ve been working to keep up with my own projects. But it was largely because I felt so lucky. So very lucky to get to be a part of the quilting journey that each one of these ladies is on. I remember so many of the teachers that helped me… and now as a teacher, I’m learning so much from my students. Having to explain how to do something makes me so much better at it!

I will admit that I did have a favorite answer as I listened to these women share what they learned this year. One grey haired woman (older than my own mother) said that while working on her quilt one thing that she learned was… how to cuss!

Oma is the Fixer

Whenever something is broken around our house, Little Moore says that Oma should come to fix it. My mom lives several hours away – close enough to drive, but far enough that we don’t see her every weekend. Between my parents coming here, and us going there, we usually see them at least every other month… and each time they are here, my son pulls out all the broken toys for Oma to take a look at.

This last visit, he presented Oma with a broken Thomas the Train. I was fairly certain that Thomas had a close encounter of the bathtub variety, and that his technology had been soaked beyond repair. LM said that Thomas had never been in the tub, and he thought it was either the battery or the gears.

The working parts he’s most familiar with are gears and batteries… so I went with it.

Oma patiently took the entier toy apart with him, even going to the store to find a special screwdriver with a triangle head. They cleaned off his gears, put him back together an… Thomas worked! Oma was a hero. Again.

I love the relationship my son has with his Oma. She shows him how to fix things. He sees that women can use tools as well as men. He looks up to her and learns from her. And loves her.

Weekend Warrior

On Sunday, the boys and I went to Home Depot to pick up supplies for a little Weekend Warrior project… the Baby’s first birthday is in less than 2 months, and it was time to start sprucing up the yard. March in Vegas is a great time to start planting, and the weather was perfect.

These two were just so cute in the cart together!

This next photo doesn’t look like much… but it was a LOT of work. I moved all the gravel, put down new weed block fabric, and put the rock back. This took most of the afternoon, and I’m pretty sure it is the reason my back feels like a dozen tiny ninjas spent the night kicking me in the back.

The planter bed was in disrepair. I didn’t do any serious work in the yard last spring. My doctor had me stop working at the end of February, and I spent as much of the next two months as possible with my feet up to keep my ankles at twice their normal size, instead of three times. And I’m not exaggerating.

With over a year of being ignored, one of the walls was caving in. I took down the wall and put it back together, and then added more soil to the inside to keep the wall in place.

 Here is the wall as I was taking it apart. During the process, I had to call my husband outside to kill a black widow spider for me. Yes, I can build a wall, but killing a poisionous spider is beyond my current skill set. And fortunately, I found her after putting on gloves… but also after changing into shorts. Luckily, none of her family was close by, and I was able to fix the wall without further incident.

I still have to tackle the area formerly known as grass, as well as prune the rose bushes… but I’ll have to save that for another weekend… after the ninjas stop…

March is National Craft Month!

I’m super excited about March… so much going on!

… with St. Patty’s Day Crafts to do, Easter Crafts to work on, and of course National Quilting Day… no wonder March is National Craft Month! Do you have any crafting plans?

What’s in my Busy Bag

With two small kids nearly constantly in tow, I need to have a busy bag. On a recent trip to San Diego where I was going to meet up with family, including 2 other toddlers, I made sure that my busy bag was fully stocked. Most of these items can be found in the Dollar Section or Party Section of Target…

Fun plates and straws – for eating out at a restaurant, getting a child to sit still and pay attention to their food can be as easy as making the place setting a little more fun.

Chenille Stems (pipe cleaners) – bend them into springs or shapes, a fuzzy wire can entertain for hours. Especailly when combined with…

Fun Dough. Or any kind of Playdoh. Because all kids love things that squish.

Markers/Crayons and a coloring book. Or even better – a coloring puzzle.

Dot to Dot game. My 4-year old loves playing this with his dad.

Bubbles. Entertain a child in almost any environment.

Bath toys. I like tossing these in my busy bag when traveling because when all else fails, toss ’em in the tub with some bath toys, and kids will stay entertained for the better part of an hour.

That’s what I keep in my busy bag… what do you put in yours?

Dr Seuss "Oh! The Places You’ll Go!" Quilted Wallhanging {Free Pattern!}

I am so insanely excited to share with you this quilted wallhanging. It has been a labor of love, a learning process, and is now a treasured piece of my home decor! I have always loved Dr Seuss’s book “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!” It is a great book to read on a big day. An awesome gift for just about any occasion – from birthdays to graduations to “Congrats on your new job!” If you’ve never read the book, you must. Grab a copy and read it. To a kid. To yourself. To the dog. It is that awesome.

This final two-page image in the book is one of my favorites, and it was begging to be an applique quilt. I did simplify the image quite a bit. I wanted it to fit on a square of fabric (my white square is 17.5″ finished), and I also didn’t want to be too complicated. If you follow me on instagram, you already saw my sketch of the pattern.

If you’d like to stitch up your own (and you know you do!) I’m sharing the pattern with you! Here is what you need to get started:

1/2 yard of white fabric, cut to 18″ square.
1/2 yard aqua fabric (for borders – cut two pieces each 2″x18″ and two pieces 4.5″x21″)
1 1/2 yards black fabric (letters, binding, backing)
Black thread
Scraps of the following colors:
Pink (I used Art Gallery Fabrics)
Purple (I used Art Gallery Fabrics)
Green (I used Art Gallery Fabrics)
Blue (I used Moda Bella Solids Marine)
Yellow (I used Kona Cotton Sunflower)
Mustardy-brown (I grabbed a Fat Quarter, so I have no idea what fabric it was, sorry!)
Black Thread (I used Aurifil)
Applique pattern pieces printed onto Jenny Haskins Web Magic (printable fusable for applique) – found at quilt shops that cater to machine embroidery
Basting Spray
Mechanical Pencil
8-10″ of ribbon (optional)

Pattern Pieces:
Pink/Purple pieces
Green Base
Green & Brown 1
Green & Brown 2
Yellow pieces
Black Letters

I split up the pattern pieces by color. Just print out each sheet, trim down, and fuse to the correct color fabric. You can then cut out all the little pieces. I had a baggie on hand to tuck in all my little pieces so they wouldn’t get lost.

For the larger pieces, you’ll have to do some matching up before ironing the pieces on the fabric. Match up the area between the dotted line by placing one on top of the other. Then, with a rotary cutter and ruler, slice through both layers. Toss the small ends, and your two large pieces should match up perfectly when you go to iron it on the fabric.

The large green base piece, I added an inch onto each side and on the bottom. This gives plenty of extra room in case the pattern shrunk at all during the scanning/printing process.

Note: When I cut the letters out, I added a little less than 1/8″ on all sides. Stitching them on can shrink them a bit, so I wanted to add a little “cushion” for my stitching.

Once you have all your pieces cut out, you can put them on the 18″ background square (don’t add the letters yet). If you used the Jenny Haskins Web Magic, you’ll be happy you did. Instead of fusing on at this point, the pieces are adhesive! So you can stick them in place, and if you need to move them, just peel and re-stick!

(the color is a bit off in this photo because it was taken at night, but you can see the placement of the pieces really well here).

Once all the pieces are on the background square, add the borders. Smaller side pieces first, and then the top and bottom.

I used basting spray to layer my “quilt sandwich” of the backing, batting, and top. I stitched the top in place around the edges and did a stitch-in-the-ditch between the square and the borders to keep it secure. Then I was ready to start my free-motion quilting!

This was a BIG step for me. I’ve never done any free-motion quilting. I’ve tried small pieces, but I was never satisfied with my work, so I’ve always stuck with straight lines and my walking foot. That was about to change in a learn-by-doing situation. I started in one corner, following the edges of the fabric, doubling and tripling over my stitches to create layers of thread. I skipped around, adding outlines to different parts of the piece. Skipping around was important so that as my skills improved, there was no one part that was significantly better or worse than the others. This piece was super forgiving because I could go a little wonky and it would look intentional. I stitched over the same areas multiple times to get the right look. In some areas, I lightly drew in what I wanted to quilt with a mechanical pencil before stitching in the lines.

After getting most of my outline stitches in, I went back and filled in. And filled in more. And kept filling in, referencing the original illustration in the book “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!”, until I was satisfied with my work.

For the stitching on the brown, I drew lines from the outer rim reaching towards the center to mimick the lines in the book.

After I finished the center, I put the letters in place, and stitched around each of those. After stitching them on, it wasn’t pretty. I share this with you so that if yours look like this, you know that it is ok:

Grab a lint roller and some small sharp scissors and clean up the edges. But don’t worry about getting them perfect… from 3-5′ away, most of the little threads won’t be noticable.

Once the letters were on, I stitched a small piece of ribbon, and then tied it in place. In the original illustration, there is a boy pulling the mountain. I didn’t add a boy to my quilt, but wanted to reference this pulling of the mountain by adding the “rope”. The long end is stitched into the binding.

Then all that was left was to trim and bind the quilt (remember to add the hanging method of your choice), and I was done! For reference, I used 2″ strips for my binding.

Please note: These instructions are for personal use only. The pattern and quilt are not for sale. The pattern is intended for personal use only. If you’re interested in purchasing Dr Seuss fabric, Robert Kaufman has awesome Seuss Fabrics.

A bunch of my friends and I created Dr Seuss crafts as well to celebrate Dr Seuss’s Birthday… I hope you’ll check out these other awesome project ideas:

A great day for a picnic in the park

I’ve been working hard on Valentine’s Day projects, sewing projects, work projects, secret projects… so many things to do that I could just work through the day from the moment I get up until the moment I go to sleep.

Except that I can’t. Regardless of the other things going on in my life, my priority has to be my boys. I want us to DO something every day. Or almost every day. Three days a week that means preschool. Sometimes it means going to the grocery store. But I like to add some fun things as well. So last week, on a particularly beautiful day, we loaded ourselves up in the wagon and had a picnic at the park…

I love having a park right down the street. It is far enough away that it is an “adventure” to get there, but close enough to swing by on a whim.

And I love that the weather here in Vegas has been so cooperative! Sure, this summer it will get so hot that our park trips will have to be early in the morning… but right now, we’re loving what we have!

Valentine’s Breakfast with Bigelow Tea

When I was asked to write about a special moment for Bigelow Tea, I jumped at the chance. My husband and I are both tea drinkers. It is our go-to drink when we are not feeling well. When the house is quiet, I love sitting down with a book and a cup of tea. Tea fits into so many moments in my busy life. My very busy life. Like most women, I’m juggling projects and schedules, and can’t find time for everything. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I knew I wanted to set aside some special time for my family.

My birthday is 2 days before Valentine’s Day. I think it is unfair pressure on a guy to have to come up with something fun for a birthday, and two days later have to put together something romantic for Valentine’s Day. So I have always had Valentine’s Day covered. I love just about everything about Valentine’s Day, so it is fun for me!

With my husband often working late, it didn’t make sense to do a Valentine’s dinner. Instead I decided it would be fun to do a Valentine’s breakfast! This satisfied my picky eater (who loves pancakes and bacon), ensured that we could all sit down as a family and as an added bonus – we got to eat in our PJs!

I shopped for the supplies I needed – but had a lot already on hand. I was able to raid my china cabinet for the lace tablecloth and place mats, and my crafting cabinet for the rose petals. I decided on “real” napkins to make our meal extra special. You can see details on my shopping trip to Walmart in my google+ album. Of course I picked up Bigelow Tea to go with our meal. Bigelow Tea is a family-owned company, with three generations of Bigelow leadership. Plus their Constant Comment tea is the perfect compliment to this meal – the recipe is as old as the company, and has lasted because it is so delicious! I think the hits of orange make it ideal for breakfast.

The breakfast was simple – Constant Comment Tea with the tags cut into heart shapes. Bacon. Heart pancakes with “Love” written into them.

To make the pancakes, I whipped up my regular pancake batter, then put 1 cup in a small bowl and added red food coloring. I put the pink batter into a condiment bottle, and cut the tip off to make it easier to squeeze out. I filled a second condiment bottle with some of the uncolored batter.
Working quickly on a medium-hot griddle, I wrote the word “Love” backwards with the pink batter, and then drew a heart with plain batter and filled it in. It took a little practice, and a little fiddling to get the temperature right, but I “love” the results!

I added a little washi tape flag because my preschooler is currently in love with flags in his food.

I put a small heart box that I filled with candy at my husband’s place setting, and a wrapped gift at my son’s. I found a puzzle at the dollar store that I knew he would love and he couldn’t wait to tear into the wrapping paper!

I loved putting together a special morning for my boys. I know one day I’ll look back and wonder where the time went, and I’ll be so glad that I took a little time to put together special moments like this one.

Sitting with my cup of tea, sharing breakfast and conversation with my boys. And capturing the moment when my son said to his dad, “Come closer… closer…” and then “Dad… I love you very, very much.”

If you want to find out more about Bigelow Tea and the family that runs it, check out the Bigelow Tea blog. If you’re a tea fan, you can also like Bigelow Tea on Facebook or follow Bigelow Tea on Twitter.

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and Bigelow Tea #CBias #SocialFabric #AmericasTea

SNAP ticket giveaway!

You may have heard of the SNAP! blog conference. Last year I didn’t get to go because the conference was a week before the baby was due, and delivering my second child in the middle of the conference is probably something that both my doctor and the conference organizers would not have appreciated. So I stayed home with my feet up, and glued to Facebook and Twitter as all the action went down.
This year, I was determined not to miss it… so I bought a ticket. And wouldn’t you know it, they sold out within hours!! If you missed out on snagging yourself a ticket, but really want to go… you are in luck! Cause got together with some of my bloggy friends, and we are offering you a chance to win a ticket to the completely sold out conference!  
The SNAP! Conference is in Salt Lake City, UT on April 18th through 20th — be sure you can attend before entering.       



Here are the friends that are teaming up with me:

Now lets get to the giveaway!  Giveaway is for one non-transferable ticket to SNAP! Conference.  Winner will be responsible for all other travel and hotel expenses.  Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.  Giveaway will run from 2/9/13 to 2/16/13.   Winner will be chosen via the widget.  Check back here for the announcement of the winner.  And GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway