Soar: A Quilt for Dede

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Over the past few weeks I have been working on a very unique custom order for a wonderful lady. She is the grandmother of two adorable twin baby girls and spends most of her time helping out with them and caring for her parents. She truly deserves a little something special to cuddle up with!

She wanted a generous sized throw quilt to keep her cozy through the winter.  As a bird lover, she requested that I include a bird somewhere.  She loves teal, the echinacea print in blue from Anna Maria Horner’s Pretty Potent line, and the antique text print by Michael Miller. The inspiration design she loved was the wonky star quilt that I made last year for my sweet neighbor.

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I started sifting through my stash looking for the perfect bird fabric and I realized that I had tons of cute bird prints and could make a bird themed quilt. I began arranging fabrics that coordinated together, cutting squares, and thinking of pattern placement within the blocks. Then I started sewing.

Notice the upper right picture, Madeline is explaining to me exactly how I need to sew the blocks together (with marker scribbles all over her fingers) and what she thinks of the bird fabric. She is my little behind the scenes boss for sure.

Once I had the star blocks constructed, I decided to use her favorite fabrics as sashing and borders to really showcase them and make them a special feature. I wanted to incorporate even more cute bird fabrics so I decided to make the top and the bottom of the quilt a series of log cabin blocks with fussy cut birdie centers. I framed these cute birds with bright saturated colorful fabrics and cropped them at varying random angles. I used awesome neutral Tim Holtz fabric from the Eclectic Elements Collection as the background for these little snapshot-like blocks. I choose two large scale beautiful bird prints from some awesome fabric I have been saving for the perfect project (and this was it) to make 2 large squares, the rest are very small cute prints.

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back view of raw seams behind a log cabin block

The quilt math involved of keeping everything proportional took a bit of thinking to make sure that I placed everything in the right spot and gave enough space for all of the elements. To allow for my super thick binding, I had to make the sides of the echinacea print border one inch thicker to allow for the binding to wrap around so that the border would appear to be the same width all the way around. This is just an example of some of the things one has to think about when creating your own quilt and not using a pattern. You can see in the photo below of the finished quilt that the teal echinacea flower border around the central 9 squares looks the same width all the way around.

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For the binding, I decided to use the teal “Heavy Metal” fabric by Windham Fabrics. I love this fabric because of the beautiful rich teal color and the metallic coppery brushstrokes. It definitely adds a lustre to the binding that is reminiscent of a thick rich opulent picture frame you might see on a piece of gallery art. I attached the binding using a serpentine stitch with my trusty Brother sewing machine (which just turned 2 years old). For the quilting, I used the serpentine stitch in all over diagonal lines.

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Close up of sewing on the binding to the back first and serpentine quilting in diagonal lines across the back.

For an extra accent that is unique and special, I embroidered “Soar” on to a little fussy cut typewriter from a very hard to find precious fabric by Melody Miller. This is a small uplifting and inspirational message that speaks to the bird theme of the quilt, but hints at the idea of shattering the restraints that bind and soaring above own limitations (whatever those may be).

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I also created a dedication block to the back of the quilt by using a square of “Nest” fabric from Valori Wells and sewing “Hand made with love for Dede 2015” with embroidery over the flowers of the fabric. I made sure to appliqué the block to the back by carefully centering it over one of the log cabin blocks of the front so that the appliqué stitches would merely look like a quilted square around that block. This gives a bit of an extra detail to a block on the front with intentional placement of the appliqué so that it looks nice on both sides.

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Close up of back appliqué with embroidery.
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Bottom Left block with extra quilted square around. This is the front side of appliqué.

Here are some close up pics of some of the blocks so that you can see all of the adorable bird fabrics.

This was a fun project to make and Dede was so sweet to give me free reign pretty much over the whole thing. I hope she loves it as much as I loved making it! If you are reading Dede I wanted to let you know that I still have the bookmark you gave me at the museum in Houston with the Manet painting on it. I keep this on my nightstand with a pile of books and magazines to help me keep my place while I rummage through them at night looking for inspiration and dreaming up new ideas of my own. Thanks so much for it! I’m the kind of girl that always needs a bookmark! Also, I hope that this cuddly quilt will keep you cozy while you recover from your cold!

I hope these images can serve as an inspiration for others well. Thanks so much for reading!

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A quilt is like a hug from a good friend. Stay warm this winter! 

 

Where to begin…

Raw Gemstones

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Once again I have allowed silence to overtake this space. So much time has gone by since my last post and so much has been going on, it’s hard to think of a beginning to start from. It is fall once again and I happily welcome the cool breeze and falling leaves. This summer has been a dry scorcher and I am happy to have some change in the air.

 

I have two new projects to share that I am so happy to have completed. To finish a project, especially a large one like a quilt, is so satisfying. It feels amazing to create and to finish. To truly see a vision manifest itself through hard work, planning, and meticulous attention to detail. Every detail matters, all of the time.

The first one I would like to share is my Raw Gemstones Quilt that I started months ago now by randomly sewing together my scraps from my scrap basket. Starting with some bright triangle shapes, framing them, letting them grow, and then surrounding them in a random scrappy sea of low volume fabrics. This was a fun a freeing attempt at creation that I enjoyed. I just made shapes randomly with no real focus or intent, other than to have some geometric gemlike shapes. I trimmed the 9 blocks up to a 20 inch square and sashed them with low volume fabrics from Carolyn Friedlander’s Doe collection. I love the modern feel of this fabric line and how the fabric exudes a feeling of texture through what looks like artist’s sketch marks. I created a final border by using a mix of bright geometric fabrics priced at 45 degree angles to give some bright interest. I then inserted a tiny strip border in a bright contrasting geometric fabric to provide a tiny detail that packs a punch. The binding features a bright teal geometric fabric with greens and pinks. I love making thick bindings on the front of my quilts. I feel this makes them more unique and gives a substantial border around the whole piece that really grounds the whole quilt. Here are some photos:

 

The second quilt I would like to share, I will create a separate post for because it is so much more complicated and detailed. I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into my process!

 

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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April Showers

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I can not believe that April is almost over. Time has been getting away from me at light speed lately. I guess that’s what happens with 2 teenagers, a tween, and a 2 year old in the house! We have been spending tons of time outside working on our garden and flower beds ever since the weather started warming up! It is so nice to have an actual spring with rain! Here in Texas it is a rarity to actually get rain on a regular basis even if some of the thunderstorms have been a bit wild.

I have had so much going on in the sewing department lately with lots of new projects to share, finished or in progress. It’s hard to know where to start!

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Blue Prints in varying tone.
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Moody neutrals.

First I would like to share a full size quilt that I made as a custom commission for a young man who loves fantasy and steampunk with lots of dragons! I had so much fun selecting fabrics and fussy cutting dragons, wizards, dwarves etc. that I framed out with masculine coordinating fabrics. The whole thing was completely random and free form. My favorite kind of creating.

I think it is fun to show the process involved in creating. These piles of fabric in just a few weeks became a finished quilt that could provide comfort and could be cuddled with for a lifetime. This is the reason for hand made well crafted items in our life. Something unique that will last. There is also opportunity to add special personal details in a custom creation that you do not see in a mass produced generic item.

Low volume prints in varying widths.
Low volume prints in varying widths.

I had a few requirements to meet for the recipient of this project, such as size, the fantasy steampunk style as well as the addition of an embroidered message. The script is simple with a clear message that hints at a family joke. This is definitely something that makes the quilt PERSONAL and UNIQUE. I layered the embroidery with coordinating fabrics and attached it with decorative appliqué with the elements overlapping in some places to provide added texture, interest, and dimension.

Close up of embroidered message.
Close up of embroidered message.

I fussy cut gears, keys, and frames and layered them with other fabrics to play up the steampunk vibe. I used decorative stitches on my machine to add another layer of definition and detail.

Gears in border.
Gears in border.
Gears in a frame.
Gears in a frame.

It’s funny the discussions that go on at the cutting counter between “makers” at the fabric store. We can now chat about our projects and show each other pics via cell phone to share what we are working on. I am always asked “What are you going to do with all of this fabric?” When I tell people that I like to quilt they seem surprised. I guess I do not resemble the ideal quintessential quilter. So I share pics and talk about what I am doing, most people seem surprised that I prefer to work without patterns and that I made these blocks without a crazy quilt template tool? I did not even know what that was. I just isolated a graphic of my choice on the focal print fabric I selected and framed it with random fabrics that I thought looked good together. I then sized them all up to the same size and added sashing and borders until I felt like it was complete and it fit the size requirements of my customer.

Blocks in progress.
Blocks in progress.
Close up of improv square and dragon
Close up of improv square and dragon “flying” in border.
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Close up of dragon block.

I love the mix of fabrics. I tried to stay with blue, green, and rust colors mixed with moody neutrals. I framed each block with a dark grey textured print.

Here is the final result with all of the elements coming together.

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All 16 scrappy improv blocks.
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Full frontal view.
The back!
The back!

I finally finished my chain link quilt and I slept under it most of the winter! I adore all of the cute little treasured fabric scraps I used to make it! Here are some shots of it. I love the arrow headed for the voodoo doll. Cracks me up every time I look at it.

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I have been experimenting with improv piecing and making a bunch of super scrappy blocks all out of random scraps from other projects. I will share more about those next time but here is a little sneak peek:

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Thanks so much for stopping by!

A Witchy Mini Quilt

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I have admired many mini quilts on display over the internet for quite some time and I have been thinking about making one so the thought came to mind to create something for Halloween to hang on the door to greet Trick or Treaters. For the central focus, I decided to use a fussy cut piece of witches gathering from the Ghastlies by Alexander Henry. I love this fabric as this particular graphic reminds me of Goya’s dark paintings of witches, just not as macabre. This project also served as a practice session to free my mind to prepare for a larger project I am working on of free form steam punk blocks. I played around with mostly black and white fabrics with some dark blues mixed in. Here are some images of the finished project:

 

"Witches Conjure Here" embroidery close up.
“Witches Conjure Here” embroidery close up.
"Beware" embroidery close up.
“Beware” embroidery close up.
Finished mini closup of wavy quilting.
Finished mini close up of wavy quilting.
On the door and ready for Trick or Treaters.
On the door and ready for Trick or Treaters.

I like how the whole thing came together and I am considering making some more in the future for other seasonal holidays. This one may end up inside somewhere on the wall all year round though. The grey stormy cloud fabric reminds me of processing black and white photos in the dark room. It is funny how I can look at that and be reminded of the smell of chemicals and be transported to a time of dark and quiet. I can remember feelings of how happy I was to see clouds appear in the sky of some of my prints for the first time . I’m not sure how the smell of dark room chemicals can be a source of nostalgia brought on by some grey clouds printed on fabric but I guess I miss playing with stinky chemicals in the dark.

The binding fabric with the black and cream lace print is the perfect final touch. I love how this frames out my new little mini witch quilt. I may have a new addiction of creating mini quilts. They come together so fast and make great seasonal decor that can be changed out very easily. I will certainly make more. Thanks so much for reading!

An All Heather Ross Quilt

Sleeping beauty star with Mendocino mermaids and buzzing nanny bees.
Sleeping beauty star with Mendocino mermaids and buzzing nanny bees.

I was recently commissioned to create a custom quilt for a special little girl for a Christmas gift using ALL Heather Ross fabrics. This was a fun project to work on. I loved diving right in to my stash and improvising blocks. The only restrictions were that I use only Heather Ross fabrics and none from Spoonflower per request of my special customer. She also wished that I include lots of Briar Rose, that I include full scenes from the princess fabrics from Far Far Away (no cropping the princesses), and that there were some fussy cut gnomes hidden away somewhere on the front and back. Mermaids, princesses, and fairytale fantasy became the emphasis for this project.  I was more than happy to comply.

 

Log cabin Rapunzel block in progress.
Log cabin Rapunzel block in progress.

The first step was to gather fabrics and fussy cut the princesses and main prints that would become the focus of the nine blocks. I then started to group fabrics that complimented the central focal fabrics. The first idea that came to mind was to make different sized stars that would all interlock together with the focal prints in the center of each differently sized stars. This idea did not work for the large sized prints of princesses because the center of the stars alone were 12 inches square on the largest princess fabrics so that they were not cropped. This would have been a massive quit if I had kept going in that direction. So I decided to make improvised log cabin blocks for the large prints and smaller different sized stars for the other blocks. The final design was for 3 log cabins placed diagonally in the arrangement and 6 stars of varying sizes floating around those. It made sense to “frame” the stars on 2 sides so that they could be staggered around the central blocks. Each star had the 2 extra strips added on 2 sides but on different sides for each one. Doing this also allowed me to easily size up all of my different sized blocks and it allowed me to hide some adorable little scraps in the borders of the blocks.

 

A crafty Chloe riding a unicorn hidden in the border of a block.
A crafty Chloe riding a unicorn hidden in the border of a block.
Close up of a Munki kitty playing with a butterfly hidden in the sashing.
Close up of a Munki kitty playing with a butterfly hidden in the sashing.
A very scrappy owl and Kitty star.
A very scrappy owl and Kitty star.
Mermaid star with octopi, ice cram trucks and roses surrounded by frog princes.
Mermaid star with octopi, ice cram trucks and roses surrounded by frog princes.

For the sashing between the blocks, the Briar Rose Cricket Clover was the perfect transition. I made very thin sashing from 2 inch strips to act as a crisp frame between the blocks. For an outer border, I used the 2 brightest strawberry prints from Briar Rose to really ground the whole thing. For the Binding, I went with the orange and pink low volume floral from the most recent release of Far Far Away from Windham fabrics. For the backing, I used the pink Frog Prince print from Far Far Away with a detail stripe of the customer’s favorite calico from Briar Rose. In the pieced calico section, I added the Dwarves from snow white, a Munki elephant, and a tiny fussy cut gnome. I love any opportunity to use up every tiny scrap of fabrics.

 

The quilt top held up to the window.
The quilt top held up to the window.
Auditioning borders.
Auditioning borders.
Binding in progress. A munki butterfly is hidden in the strawberry border.
Binding in progress. A munki butterfly is hidden in the strawberry border.

 

Here are some images of the finished quilt! I hope Lilly loves her new quilt and enjoys it for many years to come! It was truly a pleasure to create!

 

Unicorn star.
Unicorn star.

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Finsihed quilt on my queen sized bed for scale.
Finsihed quilt on my queen sized bed for scale.
Surprise Munki gnome.
Surprise Munki gnome.
I spy a bike.
I spy a bike.
Princess and the Pea close up.
Princess and the Pea close up.
Finished quilt close up.
Finished quilt close up.
Back view.
Back view.
Back view close up.
Back view close up.
Front view.
Front view.

 

Thanks so much for stopping by!

A Quilt for Wilma

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Pretty Potent Wonky Stars

My very sweet neighbor was just diagnosed with cancer. She is a very kind lady who is always giving to others. One example of this is how she baked us brownies with homemade icing as a house warming present when we moved into our house over two years ago now. Not many people would take the time out to bake for a group of complete strangers. This act shows just how rare and compassionate person she is, but is just a glimmer of her selflessness. She also runs in local marathons and volunteers at local hospitals. (After typing this I realized she sounds like Wonder Woman compared to the rest of us!) I decided that on her upcoming journey ahead she needed a special gift to bring her comfort. She told me a couple times that she used to quilt and wished to finish some blocks she had started some time ago. I thought a gift of a quilt might be in order.

The very first thing that came to my mind when I was brainstorming about what I should make was the Pretty Potent Collection by Anna Maria Horner. These fabrics would be the perfect foundation for such a gift due to the fact that they were designed with the theme of healing in mind. I have always been interested in the healing power of herbs and natural elements and the lore behind herbs and home remedies. Because of this, I fell in love with all of the designs immediately not to mention how amazing the colors are! So I thought these fabrics would be a great foundation to the quilt, but I also wanted to mix it up with complimentary fabrics that also reflect the beauty of nature and its inherent healing properties.

 

Fabric selection for the project
Fabric selection for the project
Block in progress
Block in progress

 

I decided to make 9 squares, alternating between a light star on a dark background with a dark star on a light background with the dark Echinacea print in the center. The inner borders are low volume fabrics from the collection Winged by Bonnie Christine.

 

Auditioning outer borders.
Auditioning borders.

For the outer borders, I decided it would be best to go with dark colors. The navy blue star print by Julianna Horner and eggplant birds from Winged are the perfect frame to compliment the inner fabrics.

Tape to mark the serpentine lines for quilting.
Tape to mark the serpentine lines for quilting.

For the quilting, I masked off diagonal lines that pass through the corners of each of the nine stars. The next step was to follow about 1/4 inch on each side of the masking tape with a serpentine stitch. Next I quilted free flowing wavy lines between the serpentine stitched quilting lines. The wavy lines weave through each other. I used a very light grayish green Aurifil thread for all of the quilting.

Sewing on the binding.
Sewing on the binding.

As for the binding, I wanted to go thick so I started out with 5 inch strips to make my binding pieced together with 45 degree seams. I do not make bias binding for quilts but I do think it is important to piece with the 45 degree angle at each seam so that the binding is not bulky and is very durable.The binding was stitched onto the back and then flipped around to the front for finishing. I love to use this method because it allows me to finish with a decorative stitch on the front and I think this adds a nice fine detail of visible stitches.

Corner.
Corner.

You can see the thickness of the binding on the front in this image with the decorative stitch.

Back view of binding.
Back view of binding.

The back is nice and tidy with a thinner amount of binding. This allows a nice finish to both sides, with emphasis on framing the front.

I love the different mix of patterns and colors all inspired by nature.
I love the different mix of patterns and colors all inspired by nature.

These fabrics play beautifully together and are from different designers and collections despite the fact that my inspiration was a single collection. I wanted to cast supporting roles on the stage to compliment the Pretty Potent fabrics. This is the result. Prepare for photo overload! I took a ton of photos indoors and out and it was very hard to cut any out!

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Center star with dark echinacea print.
Center star with dark echinacea print.

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Oh Loulouthi, how I love thee.
Oh Loulouthi, how I love thee.

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Star with some Moonlit from Cotton and Steel and a tree from Waterfront Park.
Star with some Moonlit from Cotton and Steel and a tree from Waterfront Park.
Pieced back.
Pieced back with kitties from Cotton and Steel. (my neighbor loves kitties so this was perfect!)

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She loved her blanket and gave me a “vintage” quilt magazine from 1979! Vintage is in quotes because this is my birth year. She also gave me some unfinished vintage quilt tops from one of her family members. These are so amazing. I was so surprised. This again shows how sweet she is by constantly giving to others even when others are trying to give back to her. We wish her health, comfort, and healing for her battle ahead.

Madeline pointing to all of the birds, flowers, and butterflies in the blanket.
Madeline pointing to all of the birds, flowers, and butterflies in the blanket.

Chain Link Quilt: a work in progress

chain link quilt top in progress
chain link quilt top in progress

 

I have been collecting some very special Heather Ross fabrics for years and have been thinking about making a very unique quilt that could be a prized treasure in our family for years to come with these precious scraps.

Heather Ross Charms
Heather Ross Charms

 

I found a pattern I loved in a magazine and decided to make it mine by making it scrappy (and unfortunately more complicated, oops).

 

pattern inspiration from magazine
pattern inspiration from magazine

Instead of an all white background, I decided to use a mix of low volume scraps. In the center of each link, instead of using a white charm square, I decided to use a very special charm square of a fussy cut Heather Ross fabric. For the bright prints that form the interlacing parts of the chain link, I decided to use a scrappy mix of bright Heather Ross prints along with some beautiful and bright patterned Anna Maria Horner prints to really punch things up. I love how this quilt has been taking shape over time. It is just taking me so much time to finish it as it always gets pushed to the side so that I can tend to more pressing matters. Juggling, it’s what busy moms do best, right?

Block on progress with Little Red Munki.
Block on progress with Little Red Munki.
Chain piecing.
Chain piecing.
Block in progress.
Block in progress.
M pretending like she didn't just throw a bunch of blocks off the design wall.
M pretending like she didn’t just throw a bunch of blocks off the design wall.
chain link quilt top in progress
chain link quilt top in progress

Once I finished the main portion of the quilt, I decided it needed borders to really frame out the busy patchwork. I decided on a inner border from the Littlest Collection from Art Gallery fabrics. This print is very low volume and has tiny little flowers in pink and peach tones that add a very subtle detail. I decided to piece into the border little scraps and bits of tiny fussy cut Heather Ross fabrics so that they are randomly placed in the border like small treasures waiting to be discovered.

Auditioning fabrics for borders and backing.
Auditioning fabrics for borders and backing.

 

I then decided to make an outer border of a bright circle print from Downtown by Barbara Kreuger for Windham fabrics. I thought this fabric relate nicely with the interlocking chain design of the main central patchwork. The colors also speak to the bright colors in the rest of the quilt and tie everything together.

Closeup of fussy cut arrow in border.
Closeup of fussy cut arrow in border.
Closeup of border in progress.
Closeup of border in progress.
Detail of puppy for border.
Detail of puppy for border.
Closeup of border.
Closeup of border.
Another closeup of border.
Another closeup of border.

 

 

I have decided for the back to use the dark Echinacea print from Anna Maria Horner’s Pretty Potent collection which is one of my favorites and naturally some unicorns from the new release of Far Far Away by Heather Ross. For the binding, I am using a paint splatter print from Cotton and Steel. I love the fresh and funky vibe this print adds to the quilt and I think it will be the perfect finishing touch.

Here is a photo of the new quilt top. Stay tuned to see the finished version!

Finished quilt top.
Finished quilt top.

It’s been a while…

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While life has been silent here in my blogging space, the opposite has been so in the other realms of my life! It seems as though the spring disappeared quickly through a whirlwind of renovations on our house followed by the end of the school year chaos. The summer has flown by with music lessons, summer camps, tutoring sessions, and baby nap times. It has been a non stop year with little to no recovery time for us weary parents. I am ready for the new school year to start! I have sooooo many exciting new projects I would like to start and naturally still tons of old ones to finish.

We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to replace all the 50 year old rotted siding on our house through a very special gift! This has not only transformed the exterior of our house, but has also made it uniquely ours. Instead of a house we live in, it is now our home. When we bought this house, I could see that it had great potential if it could be shown the right attention. I think the finished product is above and beyond my expectations. I knew it could be amazing, I had no idea it could be beyond amazing!

Here are some photos of the finished product! I still don’t recognize the house sometimes when I drive up!

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The kids had so much fun at their summer camps! I did manage to get some sewing done this summer, although it was not as much as I had hoped! Here are some images of some finished projects!

A Dragon’s Garden

Now listed in my ETSY store.

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 Butter Flight

I finally finished this one!

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  Little Red Riding Hood Quilt

Now listed in my ETSY store!

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We started the year out with sadness and a goodbye and hope to keep moving forward with fond memories, happiness, and fruitful new beginnings. Sometimes it is difficult to see what is truly important and the most precious, especially when the answer is obvious, it seems what is “in plain sight” is often the most hidden from view. It is easy to loose sight that the most valuable use of time is to enjoy family, to simply breathe, and let life take its course. Savoring each second is impossible with our modern fast paced lifestyles as we are too busy to even notice the passing of time, but it is necessary to unplug, slow down, and recognize how important those closest to us really are with what spare second we can grab on to. Miles and distance should not matter but bring us closer together with what time we have without allowing the mundane to muddle what has the potential to be divine. I guess I still live in an idealistic fantasy world of unicorns and rainbows as how I see things is not at all how others do. I wish it were so simple. It seems that there are still so many of us who wish to judge others, fire off painful comments, or hold grudges rather than to enjoy each other’s company or celebrate each other’s accomplishments. I wish it were possible to melt all of these things away so that everyone could see how important each person is, how unique and meaningful each perspective, and how necessary the journey. Maybe then we could get to the true heart of the matter and revive its sluggish pulse.

If only.

As for my shop-

white unicorns on purple

I have enjoyed my store so far by creating new and unique items, but I have also decided to move more into the fabric direction, by offering fabric off the bolt in addition to my destash items. I am so excited to announce that I have Far Far Away by Heather Ross for in stock in my store! This is such an exciting event that I have a sale brewing for the very near future and maybe even a giveaway!

princess and pea on pink

I can’t wait to make some beautiful new homemade items with this fabric and to share it with all of you as well to see what amazing creations will be made for all of the special people in your lives! As I see it, the world needs more unicorns, rainbows, frog princes, and anything else our imaginations can conjure to bring added beauty to our lives. It is the sharing of this beauty that makes it so uniquely special and meaningful.

I will create a new post devoted to the sale and the giveaway very soon! Stay tuned to find out the details!

Thanks so much for reading!

Happy sewing! (or whatever brings you happiness)
XOXO Amanda