Large Fractal Radiance Quilt

I finished this quilt top back in September to test the large Fractal Radiance pattern. I would say the most time consuming part was choosing the fabrics. This was a last minute test, so I didn’t have time to purchase fabric and I didn’t really want to spend money on new fabric. It forced me to use what I had in my stash (a lot of green and yellow solids), which also led to a more unexpected color combination – at least for me. I had to piece a few of the triangles (you’ll notice it in the upper right red triangle) due to fabric that wasn’t quite big enough, but I think it actually worked for this particular quilt pattern. I also incorporated some small prints that almost read as solids – and I think it worked well!

Four months later I finally got around to quilting and finishing the quilt. I have been doing so much geometric/straight quilting, I really wanted to get away from that, so I just did an overall scallop pattern inspired by an old quilt passed down in Jesse’s family. Since the colors are more playful, I think having the contrast between the piecing and quilting works. I also added a normal binding, instead of the facing finish I used on the small fractal. I’m not quite sure where this quilt will end up, but I’m also not ready to give it away either. If anything, it should be a decent size for a lap quilt. Want to make one of your own? Purchase the pattern here!

Fabric Mini Postbox & Tutorial

This fabric mini postbox is the perfect place to deliver tiny notes (or Spin Pizza gift cards - yum!) throughout the year. Hang it from the doorknob to a bedroom, or in a special place for someone you love.

There are lots of ways to create a fiber version of the mini postbox. You could use felt, or use a fabric marker/pen to draw the details. I decided to “draw” my linework with quilting and to use cotton fabric. There is a layer of batting and backing fabric to make it cushy and give it some texture. I also cut out pieces from a second, lighter fabric to add dimension, though you could leave this part out to keep it simple. 

1. Download and print out template
2. Cut out a rectangle of fabric, slightly larger than your template. 
3. Depending on the material you use or how dark it is will determine how you transfer the template to your fabric. I used a light box (you could also hold it up to a window on a sunny day), and positioned the template under the fabric, which allowed the linework to show through the fabric. I used a water-soluble pen to trace the design onto the fabric. I also used a second, lighter fabric for pieces of the design. I used fusible web for this – laying the fusible web on top of the template to trace it, and than ironing onto the lighter fabric. Cut out each piece, peel away the paper, lay it into position on the top of your main fabric, and than carefully iron it into place. 
4. Place a piece of batting and backing behind your fabric. Using the linework you drew with the water-soluble pen as reference, quilt the design onto your fabric (free motion quilting works best). 
5. On the back of the quilted piece, carefully cut out the batting and backing of the mail slot, being sure not to cut into your front/main fabric. Cut as close to your quilting, without cutting any stitches. Sharp, small tipped scissors work best. Turn to the front, and cut fabric as shown in photo. 
6. Hot glue the fabric to the back, as shown in the photo. You now have a mail slot! 
7. Cut out your post box front (1/4” seam allowance is included in the template). 
8. Choose a backing for you postbox, and cut two rectangular pieces, with WRONG sides together. 
9. Choose a ribbon or string. I used bakers twine and cut to 9”. If using bakers twine, tie knots at each end for durability. 
10. Lay your post box front, right side down, onto your post box back, sandwiching your ribbon between the layers.. Stitch a quarter inch seam around your post box, leaving an opening at the bottom for turning inside out. 
11. Trim down backing, trim corners, and make clips in the curve at the top. Turn inside out and hand stitch closed. Write the recipient's name on the banner with a fabric pen/marker.
12. Hang somewhere special and place your little notes into the slot! If you don’t want your notes sliding down, squish up a little piece of fabric and place in the bottom of the postbox.

Mini Valentine Postboxes

A couple of years ago I made a Valentine’s box made out of cereal boxes that was inspired by an Italian postbox. You can find the tutorial here. While I still love that one in particular, I wanted something simpler, smaller and easier to put together. I’ve included downloads and a simple tutorial below if you would like to make one (or many) for Valentine’s this year! There are a couple of different versions - a mini flat version that fits in a 4 bar envelope, and a 3D version. They come in color OR black and white, in case you want to use colored paper in your printer. Both fit little notes the size of a business card – or even gift cards. It’s the perfect little Valentine for someone you love! They can also work after Valentines Day too, if you want a place to deliver tiny notes throughout the year.
Flat mini: Print. Cut out mail slot. Score the line between the front and back, as shown on the printout. On the backside, glue around edges only, making sure to avoid the center area. While glue is still wet, fold in half on the score line. Cut around the outside edge of the front of your postbox. Write the recipients name in the banner. Insert a little note into your mini post pox!

3D mini: Print. Cut out mail slot. Score on dashed lines. Cut sides and bottom of mail flap (the space with the banner) – leaving the top line scored, so it can open and close. Write the recipients name on banner. Cut out the post box. “Mountain fold” all scored lines. Add glue to tabs (a glue pen works best) and adhere to appropriate side. Insert little notes into the mini post box!
*Print on heavier paper or glue to a cereal box for added stability.

30 years

Last Thursday, I celebrated my 30th birthday, and 30 years with my most beloved object, my baby blanket. This quilt has been loved, and it shows! I’m slightly embarrassed to share these photos and to admit that I still sleep with my baby blanket (but, I know for a fact that I am not the only adult on this planet that still does this).

My grandmother (my mom’s mom) made this for me over 30 years ago. At one time it was a jack-in-the-box, but now looks as if it has had an encounter with Hannibal Lector. Slowly, little bits of fabric have fallen off. I used to collect them and store them in a pocket created by an opening in the fabric. If there was a tornado warning, and we had to head to the basement, my blanket was the first thing I grabbed. My mom had to steal it away from me to wash it – because honestly, the smell is one of the most comforting things. Jesse thinks it’s pretty gross, so it only stays on my side of the bed, and I’m ok with that:) 
I would love for each quilt I make for someone to look like this 30 years later, but I know this kind of bond with a blanket or stuffed animal is a rare thing. But isn’t it a lovely idea? 

Our somewhat more organized entryway

The first thing we added to the entryway were colored hexagons onto the narrow window next to the door. I found this product (Hex6agon Vinyl) on Kickstarter and purchased it by becoming a backer. It was a lot of fun to figure out how we would arrange it, and how different colors would appear when overlapping. I think Jesse was hoping for something a little more opaque so people couldn’t see through the window, but I don’t really mind. It’s really neat to see the different patterns made when the light comes through the window.

I purchased the shelf during Hammerpress’ studio sale. It was already the gray color, and I painted a few of the sides the aqua color. Since it was going to hold shoes, I was fine with it looking a little rough, so I didn’t bother sanding or refinishing it. 

I had a small piece (1/4 yrd I think) of the hexagon fabric (Daisy Chain from Kokka Fabrics), which happened to be just enough to create the cushion for the top, and went along well with the hexes already on the window. It’s layered with plywood, foam (that thick green stuff from JoAnn’s), some batting and wrapped with the fabric. I stapled it on the bottom to hold it all in place.

I love the new additions to our entry. It doesn’t help keep us organized necessarily (there are usually shoes laying out despite the cubby space) but at least it looks a little cuter!

A Jean Quilt

This quilt was made for Jesse’s brother for Christmas. All the materials (except the thread) were “recycled” which really fits his lifestyle of living simply. It’s also extremely thick and heavy, which should be durable and hopefully keep him warm. He lives in Canada, and enjoys camping in the winter, so I hope it will get lots of use! The quilt top is made out of 7 pairs of jeans – all but one were Jesse’s. The middle layer was a fleece blanket we were about to donate to Goodwill. Backing was fabric their grandma had and passed down to me. The binding is a canvas type material purchased from Fabric Recycles (a local store, it’s like a consignment fabric/craft shop).

It was fun to put the top together, but a bitch to quilt. It was so thick and heavy, and while my machine held up to the task, it definitely was a struggle. I have to say, I did not have fun quilting this, and wonder if using a long arm machine would have made the process more enjoyable.

This is the first jean quilt I made, here are some things I learned along the way: 
*I cut out each leg, cutting around the seams/pockets/zipper/knee holes as I went along. If you are doing an improv style quilt, you can wait to cut down the pieces as you go along. You’ll have to adjust width and length as you sew pieces together anyway. 
*Use a jean needle. I should have changed the needle at least once. It got dull, especially when quilting through all those layers. 
*Due to the large weave and thickness of jeans, I used a 3/8” seam allowance. I also tried to avoid cutting small pieces. I pressed the seams open after sewing two pieces together, but pressed to the side when joining strips (it gets bulky fast). 
*I cut 60 degree angles for the strips. I like the way it looks, but it did create extra material waste.

I used one of the pockets as the label, and left it open at the top. I used a fabric marker to letter the label. I have a hard time naming quilts, but we decided on Reclaimed Blues.

Fabric Shops and Color Update!

The holidays were wonderful and full of lots of time with family. I even got in a little fabric shopping:) I have been fairly good at showing restraint lately, because I really don’t need any more fabric, but I just couldn’t stop from making a few purchases. I also can’t resist super adorable boutique fabric craft shops. I happened to find two while traveling for the holidays. If you are close by, you should really check them out! 

Stitch is in the really cute area called East Village, in Des Moines. I love going to the East Village because there are several cute shops, good restaurants, and at the end of the street is the beautiful capitol building. Stitch opened it’s doors fairly recently, and this was the first time I was able to go. They sell goods for sewing and knitting, and they have a space for classes too. I went ahead and bought a bottle of Soak, which I’m excited to try out. I have a few old family quilts we’ve acquired recently, and I’m hoping the Soak will work well for cleaning them.

I visited Mama Said Sew while visiting Jesse’s family in Fort Collins. This is also in a really cute neighborhood with lots of shops and restaurants. They had so much fabric, it was hard to decide what to buy. The people there were so nice, and I even had a conversation about the modern quilt guild with another customer – which is a really big deal for an introvert like me! I’m so glad I talked with her though, because I learned about this great online tool provided by the site Play Crafts (this would have been great for the recent post I did about color inspiration) used to match Kona colors from an image. I just played around with the Palette Builder real quick, and you can see a little bit how it works below. It came up with different colors than I originally matched, but I would be interested to see the fabrics in person to see how they compare. It was extremely faster than using the color card, and the tool is very user friendly. A tip - it didn’t seem to work in the Safari browser, but when I tried it in Firefox it worked great!

Christmas Tree Skirt

I got the Christmas tree skirt done three days before Christmas. The tree skirt was actually only in use for a few hours – the presents had to get packed up for the holidays right after this photo was taken. I don’t plan on making another tree skirt in my lifetime, so at least it will get a lot of use for all future Christmases. I also went ahead and made it double sided so if I ever want to change it up, I can just flip it over.

I got the idea from this tree skirt (this design is on a few other of their products as well). It’s essentially the same as the original – only I turned it into a pieced quilt, and have an open center and seam to allow it to fit around the water base for the tree. It’s from this great company, Ferm Living, based out of Denmark. If you’re in Europe, you probably have access to all their beautifully designed goods. In the US, especially in Kansas City, I’ve had a hard time finding their things.

This tree skirt has a diameter of about 47.25". The inner opening is about 14.75" - which is slightly larger than it probably could have been. I can't share the more intricate pattern, since I didn't design it, but thought I'd include the template for the basic pattern piece. Print out the three pages, and use the lines as guides to match up each page (the final pattern piece is close to 11"x17"). Quarter inch seam allowances are included. You will need to cut out 16 of these wedges total. The back of the tree skirt is made out of this simple pattern, using several different green fabrics.

The biggest mistake I made was using two different colors of “white”. I had enough fabric on hand to get half the pieces done, but had to order more. What I thought was Kona Snow, was actually Kona Bone. Oops. Fortunately, you really only see half the tree skirt when it’s under the tree, so I put the darker Bone color in the back. The brighter blue color is a Free Spirit Designer Solid, though I’m not sure which color – maybe Parrot Blue?

I also didn’t realize until after I printed out the templates, that it involved Y seams. I’ve never done Y seams before, and it required watching a few YouTube videos to figure out what I had done wrong the first time I tried sewing it together. In the end, the Y seams weren’t too painful to sew, and didn’t take too much more time – so I’m glad I just went ahead and tried it out.

Happy Holidays! See you in 2014!

Color Inspiration: Blabla Dolls

I first heard of Blabla dolls once my friends starting having children and receiving them as gifts for their babies. I actually just bought one for my niece this year – Colette the Cat. They are a little pricey*, but oh so adorable. One of the things I love most are the color combinations – a little unexpected, cute but still sophisticated. I think they would be fabulous in a quilt. I spent some time with the Kona fabric card and matched up my favorite dolls with color swatches. I’m going to try and do this more often when I see other color combos I like (and hopefully post here as well). It’s always nice to have a little inspiration before starting a new project!

*If you don’t want to spend the money to purchase a doll, they have miniature versions as finger puppets. Much more affordable, and just as cute!

Christmas Tree Ornaments

For that past few years we’ve been getting our Christmas trees at Home Depot. It’s close by, they have good prices, good tree selections, and they get the tree all ready for you to take home. By now, we have decided that the Frasier Firs are the best. I like the shorter needles and they aren’t sharp like other trees. We always have fun picking one out each year, and I love having the fresh evergreen scent in our home. Last year we kept ours up until the end of January – oops! I like keeping it up past New Year’s, but that was a little late:)

I have all my ornaments from growing up, but recently I have only been putting a few on the tree each year. This year they are all white ones – which happen to be some of my favorites! The bear is from when I was a little kid, the gnome was from West Elm a few years ago, and the snowflake was made by one of my good friends from college. Each year she makes ornaments out of different materials she finds at the hardware store. I’m lucky enough to get one each year, and it’s always fun to see what her new creation will be. She opened up an Etsy shop this year, and is selling these wonderful snowflakes made out of tile spacers!

Salt Lake City 2012

This time last year me and Jesse took a trip to Salt Lake City*. I had been hearing a lot of good things about the city, and plane tickets were a good price! We had 3 full days in and around the city – and I feel that we accomplished a lot in a short amount of time.

My Top Fives of Salt Lake City: 
1. The Little America & Grand America Hotels: You can spend a lot of money and stay in the Grand America, or pay significantly less and stay in the Little America. It’s right across from the Grand, so even if you stay in the Little, you can still trek over to the larger and fancier Grand America – which you should! One of the best toy stores I have ever been to is JouJou, inside this hotel. There is also a restaurant, café/bar, bakery and a few other things as well. Since we were there last year during the holiday season, they had the most awesome window displays – so fun to check out! 

2. The Salt Lake & Antelope Island: The lake is pretty desolate, as there are few living things that can actually survive in/near the heavily saline water. It’s actually a little eerie, and it has a very specific smell to it that I can’t describe. That sounds bad, but it was really interesting! The long road that cuts through the lake ends at Antelope Island. A pretty desolate island as well, though now there are bison and antelope that live there. There’s also a little museum you can check out. 

3. Alta Ski: As a Midwest girl, I did not grow up skiing like Jesse did in Colorado. To be honest, I don’t really like skiing – but I try to be adventurous (and I love the scenery), and Jesse has fun! Since we went early in the season and on a weekday it was pretty empty – less people for me to avoid skiing into – yay! Not that I have much experience, but the snow quality seemed nice and just as good if not better than Colorado. I’ve heard this is where the locals ski, and probably cheaper and less crowded than Park City. 

4. Ruby Snap: Fresh baked cookies… mmmmm. I’m a cookie girl, and this place did not disappoint. Their cookies are represented by vintage pin up girls. We tried several, but my favorite was Penelope, a peanut butter cookie dipped in chocolate. 

5. Temple Square: This was really neat to see, especially at night when all the trees were lit up. Since we’re not Mormon, we couldn’t go inside, but the outside was pretty amazing on its own. When we came back at night, a church service had just finished, and the whole square was filled with people and families, there were luminaries and trees lit up – it was really magical.

Transportation is pretty easy. The Little America is really close to the TRAX stop, and that will take you through the center of the city. We did rent a car for two days, which we took to see the Up House, Antelope Island, and Alta. Public transportation can take you to everything else in the city, and it’s really easy to use. We got in late the first night, so we took a taxi from the airport (only $20 some dollars), but leaving we took the bus, and it went directly to the airport, super easy and cheap. SLC is a very accessible city for tourists. It’s not too big or crowded and everyone was really friendly.

Other places of interest: Capital Theater & BalletWest, Eva, Takashi, Up House, and lots of vintage shops.

*Having been to SLC only once, I'm no expert on the city. But I thought I'd include some things we enjoyed, and things we figured out along the way in case you want to visit someday! I got recommendations from friends and co-workers, and it helped a lot!

Target Gift Cards

I LOVE Target gift cards. I started collecting them several years ago, and am always amazed at the new ideas they come up with. There are two seasons they go all out on their gift cards - summertime and Christmastime. Every store is arranged a little differently, but I tend to find the super fancy gift cards near the greeting cards and the toy section on an end cap of the aisle. 

In many conversations I end up being the unofficial Target gift card ambassador. So here’s the deal – gift cards are free! The only catch is that you have to put a minimum of $5 on each one. But they are gift cards, which means you can turn around and use the $5 next time you’re in Target and they never expire. If you have a smart phone and the Target app, you can even load your gift card amounts directly into that app on your phone (this helps a lot, as I always forget coupons and gift cards when going out shopping).

This year is PEZ and HexBug Bullseye. My favorite Target gift card of all time is when they teamed up with Lego. I too, LOVE Legos. Not only did you get to make a cute Bullseye the dog, but the packaging and illustration was amazing too. The illustration/design company, Invisible Creature, does many of Targets gift cards (including all the ones I’ve shown in this blog post). You should definitely check them out!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving in a few days and getting to spend time with my family. Me and Jesse actually spend Thanksgiving separately. He heads down to Springfield, Missouri to spend the day with his grandma (she’s 100!) and his parents, and I go up to Iowa and get to spend time with my grandparents. It works well for us:)

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is watching the Macy’s parade! There’s something so nostalgic about it. Nobody else in my family shares my love for the parade, so I only catch a few minutes here and there. I love seeing the different balloons, watching the marching bands perform and seeing the different formations they do, and lastly, watching the performers fall forward when the float starts moving again:) Am I the only one that thinks that's funny?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kansas City: Thomas Hart Benton Home & Studio

A couple of weekends ago me and Jesse took a bike ride to enjoy the beautiful fall day. We decided to venture to an undiscovered (to us) area not far from where we live, and landed in the gorgeous Roanoke neighborhood. I love neighborhoods in the city. The beautiful old homes with big trees on quite streets, with the benefits of living in the city and enjoying all it has to offer (and walking/biking distance to those things)!

As we were biking along we ended up at the home of Thomas Hart Benton. We didn’t know who he was, but it was a State Historic Site, and a beautiful house and I wanted to go inside. We got there right as a tour was beginning, learned who this guy was (a painter, born in Missouri and who spent the last 30 some years of his life in KC) and toured his studio and the inside of his home. And oh my goodness, it was a gorgeous house! The master bedroom was the best room of the house. A little area off the main part of the master had the cutest window seat and was his wife’s sewing room. Yes, that would be the perfect crafting shell for me – I could spend all day there! It even had doors that opened to a little covered porch – so perfect:)

We have talked about visiting the Missouri state capital in Jefferson City, and now we have more of a reason to go - one of Mr. Benton’s largest murals is in the capital building. Another one not too far away is in Independence, at the Harry S. Truman Library. Definitely have to check this man’s artwork out!

Fractal Quilt Phone Wallpaper

In honor of the Fractal Radiance pattern coming out, I thought I’d provide a little freebie! Not only does fractal make a fun quilt pattern, but it works great as phone wallpaper too. The colors and pattern add just enough interest as a backdrop without being too distracting. And the little bit of texture from the quilting softens it up a bit.

I’ve provided two sizes, one for iPhone 5's, and the other for Android (I’m not sure if this works on all Android phones. The one shown is a Google Nexus). For iPhones, click and hold on the image, and select ‘Save Image’. Go to your settings, under ‘Wallpapers and Brightness’ and select ‘Choose Wallpaper’. The saved image should show up in your ‘Camera Roll’. For Android, click and hold on image, and choose ‘Set as Wallpaper’.

ABOVE: iPhone 5/5c/5s
BELOW: Android

A Change of Perspective

I have a tendency to get “stuck in my head”. In those moments I start to over-think things, worry too much and become anxious. Sometimes I just need a little change of perspective to help me snap back to reality. My favorite go-to videos: Steve Jobs’ wise words and Leslie Hall’s body rolls and high kicks.

Outer Space & Sewing!

Me and Jesse went to see the movie Gravity this weekend. I was somewhat skeptical about seeing this film (I mean, how long can you watch someone stranded in space?) but it was the only movie that looked interesting, and it has a really high rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Jesse suggested going with the 3D version, and I’m so glad we did. It seems everything is going 3D, but it worked great for this film. I loved this movie despite the fact I was hyperventilating right along with Sandra Bullock the entire movie. I think space is absolutely amazing/beautiful and terrifying at the same time, and the plot of this movie totally freaked me out. There are several key plot points that are completely unrealistic, but I didn’t mind. The emotions of the characters and the zero gravity movements all seemed believable to me.

I can’t stop thinking about this movie and outer space. So, here are some photos of space from the NASA website. They have an image gallery where they put up a new image each day along with information about the photo. Also, check out this amazing print I purchased a few weeks ago. It shows all the layers of Earth and the atmosphere – it’s fun and cute (the layers have happy faces!!) AND educational.

After I wrote this post, I continued my space and astronaut research, and came across this amazing woman, Karen Nyberg (photo above in her “sewing space”) who is currently in space on the International Space Station. Not only is she an astronaut, but a quilter as well! And she has been doing some zero gravity sewing while on board (check out her Twitter page – which has lots of fun space photos too). Watch the video below! She is hosting a quilting bee from space – which I think is one of the coolest things ever!! To participate, create a 9.5 inch squared star-themed quilt block. She will sew them together to enter at the International Quilt Festival in Houston next October (2014). You can find more information here.

Happy Halloween from Whazzat Kangaroo!

Happy Halloween from Whazzat Kangaroo! Since the age of 3 I have wanted to be the pink kangaroo from Zoobilee Zoo. Today, me dream came true! And somehow five of my co-workers were convinced to join the Zooble pack too! I’m fortunate enough to work at a company that allows you to dress up for Halloween AND has a costume contest. We spent many weeks of costume preparation, and even rehearsed the intro of the show to perform at the contest. It all paid off because we won first place! We had some tough competition this year, but I’m so glad that people recognized who we were and the time we put into our costumes. 

I had to make the majority of my costume. You just can't find pink kangaroo costumes, and 80's bib vests these days. I'm not sure how many times I'll wear this costume again, but realized how great a full body fleece outfit would make for winter pjs, and the importance of having a pouch to carry around important things like a phone or chapstick!

Happy Halloween! I will now sit and wait for trick-or-treaters that probably won’t come:(

UPDATE: Find a little tutorial on how I made this costume here:)

Fractal Radiance Quilt & Pattern

I’m very excited to announce this next quilt, as it’s the first pattern I have ever written! It started with a pillow I made for my friend Lindsay (photo below) which I turned into a small quilt for myself (photo above). It gets so cold at work, and I need something to bundle up in! About the time I finished the quilt, the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild I’m a part of announced they were hosting a pattern contest. Anyone in the guild could submit a quilt idea, and they chose mine! It was such a great learning experience, and I was just one of many, many people who helped get this quilt pattern out into the world. I’m so grateful for each person’s help, advice and feedback.

You can check out more information here, on the KCMQG site. The pattern includes instructions for a small and large lap quilt, and a small pillow. I hope people enjoy it, and I can’t wait to see what quilters create with this pattern!

Halloween Inspiration: Historical Gravestones

Somehow last year, I ended up visiting three cemeteries in three different states. This was completely unplanned, and to be honest, I’m not exactly sure how it happened. I don’t seek out old cemeteries, and they aren’t normally places I enjoy spending my vacation time. But when you are visiting old cities with lots of history, it inevitably becomes a part of your trip.

I was actually surprised at how unique each cemetery was, which tells a lot about the city and the people that lived there. New Orleans has above ground tombs because they’re below sea level. Many of the gravestones in Granary Burying Grounds in Boston have skulls with wings. The ones in Savannah are elaborate, and the cemetery is almost like a beautiful park with large trees with Spanish moss and gardens. There's not many places that can be slightly creepy and beautiful at the same time!