Zig and Zag...

and sometimes you hit your target!

My family and friends are often recipients of my handmade creations.  And some times it goes better than other times.  My sister is probably the hardest to sew for, but this year I got it right!

For her birthday, I started by knitting a button up cowl.  I couldn't decide on what buttons to use, and initially sewed on a set of shell buttons.  But something wasn't right about those buttons, and I reluctantly replaced them with a pair of buttons from my grandma's stash.  I had hoped to use these buttons for something for myself, but they really do look so nice alongside the cream bouclé yarn.
I brought my camera along to her birthday dinner, and then left it in the car!

I was worried that she wouldn't love the cowl, so I also made her a pillow.  Not just any pillow, but a pillow to match her Hope Valley quilt.  I followed this tutorial for creating the zigzags.  I also included some dense quilting, a pieced back and an invisible zipper.

She loved the pillow and the cowl, and I was super happy to surprise her with a few gifts that hit the mark!

Wonky log cabin - selvedge style!

It took me awhile to get into the selvedge sewing trend.  I love to see the projects that people come up with, but simple selvedge piecing just didn't appeal to me...until I realized that I could incorporate selvedges into a bigger pieced design!

Now that I've started working with selvedges, I'm finding it really hard to throw away even the tiniest pieces of fabric.  Which is why I've made a FOURTH Hope Valley pillow!  It's not my favorite, but I think that it's a nice combination of scrap, improv piecing and the more structured quilting that is my comfort zone.  I really did use up just about every scrap of Hope Valley that I had, which is a good feeling.

I think that I like the back of this pillow even more than the front.  What a nice option to have when I'm making my bed in the morning!

The Hope Valley Pillows

I created each of our bedroom pillows from simple ideas that were floating around in my head.  I had very few scraps left to play with, and I didn't want to overwhelm them with too much pattern.

The 12"x16" pillow was cut and pieced from a scrap block that didn't make it into the quilt top.  This pillow includes all of the prints from the top, grouped by color.  I love the random look but my eyes and brain find it much more calming to look at something with a bit more order.
A few offset pieced strips, button closures, and this pillow was done!

The second pillow that I worked on was the selvedge strips.  I used paper foundations to piece 4 6" squares. I drew a diagonal line through each square, covered 1 side with grey kona and on the other side I added selvedge strips.  The only marking that I did was to make the diagonal of the foundation.  After each block was covered, I trimmed the edges to 6" square.  After playing with several different layouts, I decided on the striped design.  I left the paper foundations on the blocks until after I had all 4 blocked pieced together.  This pillow also has a layer of batting and some straight line quilting.  I finished the pillow with purple piping, grey kona for backing, and purple buttons on the envelope closure.

The last pillow is probably my favorite.  I wanted a pillow with out last name initial, "M".  But I didn't want the look of machine embroidery.  So I drafted a paper pieced block pattern!  It's a really easy process, especially if you already have some paper piecing knowledge.  And it resulted in just the look that I was going for - crisp but not perfect!  I also had the initial idea of using elastic thread to smock the border fabric, but decided to try using my ruffler foot instead.  I left the ruffler stitches in until the pillow was complete, but I found that they distracted from the print in the border.  I'm so glad that I pulled them all out.  I love how the fabric has kept it's print even with all of the gathering.

I have a few more Hope Valley scraps left over.  I'm hoping to try a log cabin style block with selvedge strips next.  First I need to get to work on Addy's quilt and pillows, though.  She had a ton of fun "helping" me with these, and she can't stop talking about her new quilt and pillows. :)


Whew, that was a lot of Hope Valley.

I've finished 2 of the bed quilts on my list!

The first one that I completed was my sister's.  It ended up just smaller than king size.  I trimmed a few inches in each direction so that it would fit on my quilt frame without extending the table, but it's certainly larger than a queen size.  I hand bound most of it on the drive up to Chicago for our Seattle trip, and finished it at my mom's house that night.  I don't have any pics yet.  I left the quilt for her with strict instructions that she take pics with her dSLR soon. :)

I also finished our bed quilt plus 3 coordinating pillows.  I have more scraps to play with, so I will probably add to the pillows as I have free time.


I have a separate pillow post in the works, you may see it by this afternoon. :)

I'm also trying to keep afloat with the Mendocino quilt for Addy's room.  It has turned out to be much more time consuming that I imagined, and I had to put it down for a few days.  I'm hoping to have it pieced and quilted in no more than a week.

I see...

Amy Butler.  In the form of a camera strap of my sister.

Hope Valley.  Lots and lots of Hope Valley.  I'm working on our bed quilt and a bed quilt for my sister.  Hopefully they will both be ready for quilting when my machine gets out of the shop at the end of April.

The less exciting part of my day...the dreadmill.  That's right, this is my view for 5 long miles.  I really need to start running outside again.

The curtains.
They are done.  (Well, except for the sewing room and play room.  But I don't even have that fabric yet.)  Thanks in large part to the fact that I have *the* most amazing mom.  Ever.
If only Matt could paint faster. ;)

And the hand sewing projects.  I have a quilt to bind for the dining room.  What, you're dining room doesn't have a quilt?  And yes, those are chandeliers on the backing fabric.  Duh.  It *is* for the dining room.
And a hand embroidery project that is based on the color scheme for my sewing room.

The notebook is a fabric-covered moleskin.  I've been taking notes for Matt's upcoming dr. appointment at U of C while I'm sewing.  We are heading to Chicago for his Monday am appointment, where I will undoubtably be working on some of my hand sewing projects as well as making more notes in the notebook.  I'm also drafting a not-so-nice letter to the dr. that he saw in Peoria.  For now, the letter is just in my head.  After the appointment on Monday we'll see how much makes it down on paper.

And one last image....my Amy Butler pillow.  Very similar to the pillow that I made Tracy, this one resides in our living room.  Love it.

Our dining room is almost put together.  We have a tiny bit more work to do on the argyle wall, which is the biggest project for the room.  Hopefully it will be complete soon!
I've also picked out the family photos to have reprinted for our living room.  We probably won't have all of our wall art pulled together for awhile, but it's all coming together slowly.