Quilting Pattern Inspirations…

 

Sometimes a quilt sits around FOREVER and I simply can’t decide on a pattern to actually quilt it.  When that happens I usually do one of two things…I either go very simple and quilt straight (somewhat…mostly straight) lines running down the quilt, or I go to this website and browse the really cool assortment of IMG_7835designs until something strikes me.  Sometimes I am really focused on a project and have the quilt design and fabrics coordinate with the quilting design, as with this quilt called “Birds of a Feather”.  Because the backing fabric of this quilt featured our Birds In Flight pattern, I chose a quilting design that (to me at least!) represented the close up detail of a bunch of soft, downy feathers.  Not all quilts get this special treatment, but sometimes the inspiration just hits that way.  IMG_7826

As of right now…No, as of the last two weeks, I have had the same quilt sitting on my table and I can not decide how to quilt it, so I’m going for lines.  Simple, straightforward, back and forth.  Sounds refreshing, actually.  Click this link to be directed to my Etsy shop and take a closer look at Birds of a Feather.

A Moving Target…The story of how a quilt taught me a lesson.

 

Life is a process of constant edits.  Like my Grandmother always says, (who is in her 90’s and I talked to for over 30 minutes on the phone about her blooming flowers this morning!) “Just when you start to make ends meet, somebody moves the other end!”  I am constantly trying to reinvent myself, my life, my process, to be more like the pictures I see in my head.  Sometimes, that is a very messy and inconvenient thing, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought to myself after such a decision, “Man, I wish I had just left well enough alone and not done that!”  IMG_9275I like that process of reinvention because it moves me closer to my dreams.  Eventually, you have to accept where you are and what you’ve accomplished, of course, but it’s the little corrections along the way that caught my attention with this project.  I thought I was finished with this quilt yesterday.  I pulled it off the stack of projects needing attention and found a backing for it that I liked…Indigo because that is my favorite color these days, and I proceeded to put it together, pinning here and there, and thinking of how it would be quilted.  I finished pinning it and put it on my desk to begin and I thought to myself, “Wait!! THIS IS NOT FINISHED.”  I groaned inwardly to myself, because of course I wait until after I am finished with the basting it to have a stroke of inspiration.  I had already cut the batting to size, found the perfect backing, and spent almost two hours getting it to this point.  But still, something felt like it was missing.  I unpinned everything and decided that adding a big, chunky ol’ indigo border to the quilt was just what it needed.   IMG_9280I had told myself this year I wanted to make bigger quilts, and not limit myself to just crib and toddler sizes, so adding the borders was the extra step I told myself I needed to start taking more this year.  It would have been easier to just proceed with the quilt as it was, because pinning is not my favorite part of the process and it was already done, but I have learned that I am never happy with myself when I ignore those little voices.  So I unpinned, added borders, and picked a new backing material, which luckily, is the perfect fit.  So it was an edit…an erase and do-over, but I’m usually glad when I can make that happen, and now, the quilt feels finished!  Happy Saturday y’all, and always remember to go with your intuition…You will be glad you did!

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HOLIDAY SHOPPING NEWS ~

I am getting excited about my tour about town tomorrow, seeking out all of my favorite local businesses to support on Small Business Saturday!  I support small year round, but I do understand how exciting it can be for a small business to have a banging start to the holiday season, so I am going to do my best to hit up all of my favorites.  Speaking of hitting up your favorites (wink-wink!) I would like to share our own small business specials and events coming up.  Josh and I both are offering a sale in our Etsy shops through Cyber Monday for 10% off $100 purchase, 15% off $200 purchase, and 20% off $300 purchase!  That’s a pretty big sale for us, so if you wanted to do any holiday shopping with us, it will not get better than this!  UNLESS you are within driving distance and would like to come shop with us in person this upcoming weekend, December 5th and 6th.  We will be at our annual Big Oaks Winter Sale out on the lovely 300+ acre farm of our friend Carey and Brant Slay from 10am-5pm both days, and you can get directions if you plug this address into Google Maps:  10747 UNION PLEASANT GROVE OMAHA, GA 31821  In addition to all of our work, Carey will be selling all of her wonderful wood fired pottery.  We will have a friendly, open buffet of snacks and tea to eat while you browse, chat, and take a break from the holiday chaos under the mighty boughs of the Big Oak trees.  We offer great in-person discounts and will have a variety of items from all four of the Etsy shops on display.  I love to “clean house” at the end of the year to make room for new products, so a lot of things will be greatly discounted.  This is a great opportunity to shop small and get lots of beautifully made gifts for your friends and family.  These pictures from last year’s show speak for themselves and we hope to see you there!  If you would like to see links to all of our Etsy shops in one place and start shopping early, click here.

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Today’s Featured Item – Lush Cozy Cactus Quilt

IMG_2258Hey howdy hey!  Look who’s back!   Today I will share with you a fresh and brand new quilt that I JUST finished sewing this morning.  Actually, I finished it yesterday, but I just finished sewing on the little flowers today.  I have to give the credit for that sweet little embellishment, IMG_2261which in my opinion just MAKES this quilt, to Josh!  He mentioned it in passing when I was designing this quilt a few days ago and trying to find a good match for the cactus top.  I wanted to pair it with this rich sunshine golden-colored cotton for the backing, and it just wasn’t working.  He said that it would have worked great if I had drawn some little flowers on the cactus tips, which gave me the idea of adding them as embellishments to the quilt itself.  That got me to thinking about a IMG_2264whole range of fabrics that I could design that would be intended for little embellishments like that.  That is still a very new idea I am hatching, but an exciting one!  So here she is, the Lush Cozy Cactus and Red Desert Bird quilt.  I am the WORST when it comes to getting creative with names and such.  Unless it’s totally random, like this quilt *would* be named The Darla if I were so inclined to give it a name just for the sake of it.  Have a GREAT Friday and a wonderful weekend to all from me and Darla!! 🙂 IMG_2270

Today’s Featured Item – Slanted Rainbows Flat Sheet

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This lightweight summer-time blanket features happy, slanted rainbows that were originally a watercolor painting.  I don’t know why I wanted to share this today, except maybe that my heart is full of rainbows?  HAHA that would be because all of the canning is finished (for now at least), all the laundry is done (for now at least), and I have nothing to do today but work and take the kids climbing this afternoon.  That is a good day in my book!  I dyed nearly 20 yards of fabric yesterday as well, so that task (for now at least) is also caught up.  That leaves me, my iron, my sewing machine, and a stack of projects to tackle for today.  I am about to turn the music up and get started!  IMG_8044So back to this sweet little flat sheet, or summertime blanket.  Use them to keep the sun off babies in their carriers, or to cover them up as you go in and out of stores in the summer, because lets face it…It can be 105 degrees outside, stores still keep it a cool 68 degrees, even in summer.  This is large enough to transition into the toddler years too, as a flat sheet for a toddler bed, measuring 33″ x 55″.  They are made out of 100% GOTS certified organic cotton and printed with low impact dyes.  I always picture using the sheet for something else when the kids graduate to a big kid bed, like a pillow case, or using it as a wall for a fort. IMG_9903 THAT is really the end game for these…Fort walls.  All you need is a couple of clothes pins and BAM!  You have a sunny, rainbow filled fort! Hahaha…Ok, I’m off to get sewing.  I hope your Monday is as bright and sunny as the day after a rain, and your heart is full of rainbows!!

Today’s Featured Item: Organic Pluto Pillow

IMG_8832This astrological year started a new project,  The Pillow of the Month.  Each month, two new pillows are added to the collection; that month’s zodiac symbol and its corresponding planet.  I am running a little behind, and actually need to get started on my Leo and Sun pillows really soon, but for now, the lone wolf Pluto will have to do.  There is no real birthday associated with Pluto, except for Scorpio, which historically shared both Mars and Pluto, but now is coupled primarily with Mars.  But seeing as how Pluto has been decommissioned as a planet, this pillow felt timely, considering the recent resurgence of the debate as to whether or not Pluto should be considered a planet….I for one, feel that Pluto should absolutely be considered a planet because having only eight planets in our solar system is surely unlucky!  Bring Pluto back to its former glory and give it the credit it deserves so order can be restored and we can go back to having NINE planets in our solar system!  It is already such a long way from all other planets, and can very rarely attend the Sun’s fancy tea parties.  Let’s not throw sand on the playground just because it lives so far away and is so very, very small.  As I was reminded this week at the Springer Opera House‘s showing of The Little Prince, even the smallest of planets can yield wonderful lessons and great adventures.  As it may be with Pluto.  We may never know if we turn our backs on this distant rock in our solar system….Anyway, to see the facts on this pillow, if you’ve heard enough of my childish gibber, click this very grown up link here.  I am off to go tend my Volcanoes.

Scrap Projects – Pennant Banners

IMG_8578 Sometimes, cutting into that fresh yardage of fabric is so rewarding, but at the same time, almost wistfully sad because you know that before long, that print will be gone forever, especially if it is a one of a kind vintage piece.  Exciting because of all the possibilities of what it could become, sad because who knows when you will IMG_8721be able to find something so spectacular again?  For fabric cuts that aren’t vintage, it simply means that you must now buy more to make more, and so on and so forth.  Sometimes it isn’t the fresh cuts of fabric that pull your attention, but the smallest off cuts, the rejects, the leftovers.  Sometimes, I relish in the leftover projects.  How many things can I make without cutting ANY new fabric?!  Answering that question has been my focus this week.  This stash busting session has been a little different because this time, the scraps are my own designs and that adds its own special flavor to the projects.  So what do you do when you only have small randomly shaped bits, fabric test swatches, off cuts from bedding, and other various leftovers?  Flag buntings are such a cute way to dress up a blank wall, and are an affordable gift for a person who may already have everything and need nothing.  Not to mention, they are hot photo props, IMG_8579party decorations, and can be reused over and over unlike their paper counterparts.  I make a flag roughly 5-6 inches across the top, and 6-8 inches down, depending on the size scraps I have.  The best fabric to use for banners like this are fabrics that do not have a direction, because you can use both the triangles, verses a directional print (that is meant to be seen from one way or another), which will have half of your cuts being upside down.  In the case of my rhino prints, I saved the upside down flag shaped triangles as scraps for a different project, such as a scrappy mountain quilt that will need lots of triangles of different shapes and sizes.  I was able to get roughly 15 banners from a stack of off cut fabrics, each banner having 11 pennants.  Instead of investing a lot of time into a project that was meant to be a quick use of scraps, and making my own binding to hang the flags from, I bought binding from the store for about $2 each.  IMG_8583They come in dozens of colors, and measure about 3 yards long, which is a perfect length for a good banner.  I got the “Extra Wide Double Fold” bias tape, which is not really all that wide.  Only about 1/2 inch actually, but none-the-less, that is the name.  It can be found in most fabric or craft stores.  I serged my banner flags to a solid backing of organic cotton sateen fabric because it was what I had available and on hand, but you could use anything for the backing fabric (the cheaper the better!  You won’t really see it IMG_8740anyway!).  Having two layers for the banner will give them a nice weight so they will hanging nicely.  If you don’t have a serger, which most folks probably don’t, no worries!  You can simply stitch around the outside of the two layers (the front and
back) and then cut the edges with pinking shears so that they don’t fray excessively.  If you want to be really fancy, you can stitch the two layers with right sides together, and then turn them inside out for a very finished and durable style.  My goal was to make as many as I could, in the shortest amount of time possible, so I chose the serging technique.  Plus, I just really love the way serged stitches look.  It gives a sort of raw yet refined look to any project.  So there you go.  Not really a tutorial, just a reminder that scraps can be fun too, and to get creative when you see that discarded pile, and see what you can create with them!  Tomorrow, I will share some quilt tops I made from scraps too. IMG_8753

Today’s Featured Item – Thin Cotton Blankies for A Georgia Summer~

I have been investing so much time into quilting lately, that a fast IMG_8040and simple project was just what I needed today!  It was a good reminder too, how refreshing it can be to change the pace sometimes and avoid getting into a creative rut of doing the same things each day.  I just got this organic thermal cotton a couple of weeks ago, and decided to try dyeing it with my last batch of muslin to see how it would hold the dye.  I was thrilled with the result!  It has such a nice weight and drape, and is SO super soft.  I never thought of using it as a backing for blankets or quilts until recently, when it came out so pretty after dyeing.  I also had some of my own designs that I had been holding onto for a while, not sure what to do with them, when I started getting restless with this thermal and really wanted to make something with it.  I liked the grey and aqua flying cats print the best and decided they needed to be paired together, but I just couldn’t shake this feeling…What would you call it?….Oh yes.  Sweat.  I am sweating all day every day.  It’s June in Georgia, and I just couldn’t go for one more thick, hot, full-blown quilt.  So what came from this 90+ degree inspiration?  These lightweight, single layer, thin cotton blankets.  The perfect solution to the summertime nights!  IMG_8002They are roughly the size of a crib quilt, measuring 33″ x 55″ and are made with a classy rolled hem out of GOTS certified organic cotton, high thread count sateen.  Once things start cooling down again, they can be used as flat sheets on a toddler bed as well, or if you are REALLY using your imagination, they can be used in your IMG_7993next amazing couch fort or to create an instant secret hideout under the table.  Easy breezy.  I added some new prints, in addition to the grey and aqua flying cats to the Etsy shop today, for fitted sheets and changing pad covers.  I would tell you how I got the idea for a flying cat fabric, but that story is for another day.  Cheers!

A Simple Rhino Tale

It started as a simple craft done at the kitchen table.  The kids had been given this gingerbread man cutout that was laminated so they could bring it home and trace it, play with it, make more gingerbread men…You get the idea.  But this made them want to make other shapes that they then traced and colored, like the gingerbread man.  There came from this simple day of play, a collection of rhinos.  Large and small, bright and bold, with fierce horns, and bowed heads.  Some even had two heads…one on each side!  (Just to represent the monstrous side of things!!)  They were so precious.  The kids cut them out, colored them, and turned them into puppets with popsicle sticks.  Like many things born in this way, they were all too soon forgotten, having fallen under the table, or stuck behind a chair, and they were no longer interested in playing with them.  That is when my inspiration struck!  IMG_5970

You see, I had been experimenting with fabric design, and playing around with my own doodles for a couple of weeks, trying to get the hang of the graphic nature of online fabric design.  In a moment of brilliance, I saw these sweet, disregarded rhinos for what they were…Complete and total inspiration!   My kids might have been finished with them, but I was only getting started.  I deconstructed the popsicle stick version, and layed them out on a white surface to photograph, and the rest is history.  I now have a collection of ten or so fabric designs, all featuring the rhino stick puppet cut outs.  I love them.  When I look at them, I am instantly happy, rejuvenated, and transported back to that magical day.  I know it was a magical day because I have tried over and over to recreate the experience with no luck whatsoever.  They can tell I am onto them now, and like the tap-dancing, singing frog, they just sit there and ribbit at me when I suggest in my most cheerful voice, “Who wants to make some stick puppets with a new animal today!?”  I IMG_3911know it will come back around one day, but for now, I am utterly smitten and happy with our little rhino collection.
Each time an item sells with the fabric they helped design, I tell them about it, and give them a little cash for their piggy banks.  It has become a source of pride and joy for them to see their drawings made into something lasting and tangible.

Then one day a few months ago, I receive this letter through Etsy:

“Hey there,
I am a Zookeeper with the Toronto Zoo and I am organizing a fundraiser through our AAZK committee to help raise money for Rhino Conservation! Last year we were able to raise over $17,000!
We are currently looking for any Rhino related items that companies/ organizations would be willing to donate as auction items for our event! All funds go directly towards the facilities that support Rhino Conservation!
If you would consider donating a Rhino blanket I also have an official letter I could send you along with more information need be!
We REALLY appreciate every little donation and will definitely advertise what companies donated items for our auction in hopes that it would also help you get more business!
I hope to hear from you soon and am happy to answer any questions you may have!
Thank you!”IMG_9886

I thought that was so awesome.  Awesome in so many ways…the conservation of rhinos?  CHECK!  The pleasure of meaningful donations? CHECK!  Getting our family business all the way out to Toronto? CHECK!  And my favorite one of all…Talking to my daughter about the significance of this project?  Check.  I let her read the letter and asked her what she thought.  She does have a sense of ownership over these blankets and quilts with her drawings on them, and if I was to give one away, I wanted to know how she felt about that.  It meant I wouldn’t get paid for it, which would mean she wouldn’t get any dollars for her piggy bank either.  Did she even hesitate for one, single second?!  Of course she didn’t.  She thought it was amazing and awesome too.  We looked into the organization together and IMG_1513did some rhino research, and we became even more aware of the issue than we already were.  When I shipped the blanket off to Toronto, I made sure she knew it was on the way, and we celebrated the moment together.

I guess the moral of the story here is this…You never know where an idea will take you.  You never know what small thing will one day become a very big and important thing.  You never know when a laminated gingerbread man made from blue construction paper and sent home in your child’s school folder will change the way you do business.  You just never know, and isn’t that amazing!  Now I see rhinos everywhere.  Mostly they are sad stories about poaching, or declining populations, but I hear them.  I am aware of them, and I donate to the cause as I am able because it feels like the right thing to do…and the kids think so too!

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Today’s Featured Item: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Quilt

il_570xN.602463201_byuyToday’s featured item is a fun and different way to expose your little ones to music.  Featuring notes from only the treble clef of the song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, the notes are all correctly rendered and positioned to reflect the tune.  It is a whole cloth quilt, meaning that the top of the quilt is not pieced, but consists of one entire cut of fabric.  The back is straight black, and it has black binding as well.  I wanted the quilt to reflect the simplicity of sheet music, so I chose to only use the white and black colors on this one, although I did an Amazing Grace quilt and added colorful binding, which I preferred once I saw it as a finished project. It is 100% GOTS organic cotton, with organic cotton and bamboo batting inside.  I really enjoyed making this quilt, and can see it going in so many cool directions…For example, with someone who writes their own music and wanted to give a personalized quilt as a gift…So funky and unique!!  To see the Etsy listing, click here.