Black and White “Zipper Teeth” pillow tutorial

Zipper Teeth Pillow tutorial DIYI’m sharing a new project over as a guest contributor at the Olfa site.  You know me – I love short-cuts – and this is for a fun, graphic Zipper-Teeth block that I made into a deceptively quick throw pillow.

Olfa Splash project

For this project I used to contrasting colors to show off the simple graphic elements – but rather than solid black, I used Riley Blake’s Circle Dot in Charcoal paired with Riley Blake’s solid Clean White. I like how the subtle circle print gives the fabric a little more texture, while still providing great contrast.

Zipper Pillow Tutorial Amy Smart

You can find the full Zipper-Teeth tutorial here.

Designer Spotlight (1)

I was honored to be asked by Olfa because their products are some of my hands-down favorite. (And no, they didn’t pay me to say that.) Olfa rotary cutters are by far my favorite. If you don’t have an Olfa rotary cutter, do yourself a favor and just get one. I promise you will thank me later. (My personal favorite are the Splash cutters because they’re colorful, easy to change the blade, and relatively inexpensive for a tool you’re going to use for years.) I also LOVE their 5″ scissors – they’re so handy – and I also just discovered their frosted rulers this year. They don’t slip!

OLFA® | September Designer Spotlight Amy Smart

In addition to the project, the Olfa folks interviewed me as well. If you’ve ever wanted to know the dominant color in my stash, when I got started quilting, or other such exciting tidbits you’re dying to find out, you can read the interview here.

*Post contains affiliate links

New Quilting and Sewing Books

quilting booksThere are some really fun and unique quilt/sewing books published over recent months. I’ve had a growing stack I’ve acquired over the past few months that I’ve wanted to share and review here. I like that each of these books has a unique style and is something different than other quilting books in my library. Sometimes I am asked by publishers to review books and I don’t say yes to every invitation – only if it is something that really speaks to me personally.

(Disclosure: some of these books were given to me by friends, others I bought with my own hard-earned cash. Also, there are affiliate links in this post. All opinions are my own. And the fact that I’m sharing them, means they passed muster and I really like each on of them!)

Simply Color books Vanessa Christenson

If you’ve been paying attention to the online quilting world over the past few months, you have probably seen Vanessa Christenson’s Color Series. Here are the first three books in the series: Red, Orange, and Yellow. Each book is a hard bound book with lots of information on choosing colors and color combinations, color theory, as well as six unique projects per book.

Simply Color quilt books Vanessa Christenson

Each book is also filled with inspiring and gorgeous photos, that definitely get my creative juices flowing. There is a lot of beautiful inspiration, information, and fun, do-able projects. The Green Simply Color book came out this summer and the Blue book will be released in a few weeks, with Purple not far behind. You can read more about Vanessa’s experience creating these fun books on her blog.

Simply Strings quilt book

I discovered Simply Strings by Rana Heredia at Quilt Market last spring. Rana had booth with really fun, creative quilts, many of which are in her book. This is a GREAT book for using up scraps since most of the designs use string-pieced units to create the overall design.Simply Strings quilts

Many of the quilts are inspired by traditional quilting designs, with the added string-pieced dimensions.

String Piecing vine quilt

Other patterns are a much more modern in design, incorporating the scrappy string blocks to make a larger over-all design, like this Organic vine. This is the whole quilt – 55″ x 70″ to give you a size reference. Rana has done this with another pattern (not in the book) a giant string-pieced deer head. So cool. Simply Strings can be found in Rana’s shop, Etsy, and hopefully, your local quilt shop!

Sweet Tweets bird quilt patterns

Sweet Tweets is a brand new book by Erin Cox and is such an adorable little book!

Sweet Tweets applique quilts

This book has lots of darling applique bird designs – so, so sweet. There are 11 projects as well as a section about free-motion applique. See the stitching on that tree trunk? All done by stitching with a sewing machine! This is a whole new design style for me. I think I’ll need some practice to build my confidence, but many of these are just the right size to get that practice in.

Patchwork City by Elizabeth Hartman

I finally picked up a copy of Elizabeth Hartman’s Patchwork City this summer. I’ve had my eye on this book for a while. I like modern quilting motifs, but most of my own modern quilting designs are based on very traditional motifs. The thing that I like about this book is that Elizabeth gives a huge variety of very modern quilt blocks in many different shapes and sizes, as well as 6 different layouts using those blocks.

E Hartman Patchwork City Projects

I feel like this book will help me break out of my comfort zone and try some more modern looks. Plus, I’m always inspired by Elizabeth’s fabric and color choices. I’ve loved just looking through this book. Now I need to actually make some of these blocks!

handmade style book noodlehead

And finally, another one of my favorite current books, Handmade Style by Anna Graham (of Noodlehead).  I am always in awe of Anna’s creativity. I have made some of her bag patterns in the past (including the Divided Basket and the Go Anywhere Bag) and I have loved both of them. I have another one ready to go on my cutting table.

tote bag pattern noodlehead book

Anna’s patterns are just awesome and she has such a wide variety of sizes, styles, etc. So to have a whole book of 23 patterns (not to mention gorgeous photography) is a dream.

Carry All Pincusion Noodlehead

In addition to bags there are other items such as clothing, pin cushions (with handy pockets!) fabric baskets,

baby quilt noodlehead

quilts, pillows and even a Patchwork Bench. (I love this version of the patchwork bench made using her Rain Walk fabric.)

Rain Walk Anna Graham

Speaking of which (I know it’s not a book, but) have you seen Anna’s new Rain Walk fabric for Cloud 9? Love it! (It’s available at Fabricworm. 😉 )

So there you go. A whole plethora of inspiring books – each different and unique – so hopefully a little something for everyone. Keep an eye out for them (or request them!) at your local quilt shop.

Bloglovin HM awardsAnd finally, one last little reminder that this is the final weekend of voting for the Bloglovin’ Awards. I’ve been nominated as the Best Sewing Blog (still a little shocked there) so if you haven’t yet, and you’re so inclined, you can vote here. (Scroll down about 2/3 of the way to find the Best Sewing Blogs. Be sure to enter your email address at the end so that your vote will be counted).

Bless those of you who have (and to all those who left such kind comments – I started trying to respond to them individually, and failed.) I’m SO touched by your kind words. Thank you!

Sale and Giveaway from Lady Belle Fabrics

Such an awesome giveaway today from sponsor Lady Belle Fabric.Lady Belle Fabric

Lady Belle Fabric is owned and operated by husband and wife team, Rob and Brooke Becker. The Beckers are originally westerners but have settled in and fallen in love with southern Tennessee. Their shop is named after their beautiful malamute dog, Belle, who passed away last year. You can read more about their story here.

Tiger Lily by Heather Ross for Windham Fabrics Half yard Bundle

Lady Belle stocks a beautifully curated collection of the latest bright, colorful, modern fabrics and specializes in pre-cuts and bundles as well as some coordinating yardage. Some current collections in stock are Tiger Lily by Heather Ross, Modern Background by Zen Chic (such awesome low-volume/contrast prints!)

pam kitty fog city bundle

And this pretty stack, Fog City by Pam Kitty Morning. So fresh and cute!

pam kitty fog city color wheel

Also in stock are yardage of some perennial favorites – Emmy Grace by Bari J and a lot of other gorgeous Art Gallery Fabrics collections, Country Girls and other Riley Blake prints (on sale!), Free Spirit designers such as Heather Bailey, Anna Maria Horner, and Tula Pink, and Moda Crossweaves. They also carry a great selection of basic notions.

liberty of london color wheelAnd now LBF is carrying Liberty Lawns!

Another fun treat – Lady Belle is selling a bunch of Moda precuts for upcoming collections like Farmhouse, Gooseberry, and Canyon. These aren’t available in stores yet, so now’s your chance if you want to snap them up early.

hd giveaway 1

And last, but definitely not least, Lady Belle Fabrics has a full bundle of Bonnie and Camille’s latest collection, Hello Darling, to giveaway to one of you, along with the new purple Olfa Splash rotary cutter and a spool of Aurifil thread! To enter, take a quick trip to Lady Belle Fabrics and come back here to leave a comment telling me something that you like. For a second entry follow sign-up for the Lady Belle Fabrics newsletter – a great way to keep up on the latest news there- (scroll to the bottom of the home page) and leave a separate comment. That’s it! Giveaway open until Saturday, August 29 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

WINNER: Jess says Just signed up for her newsletter!  thank you so much for this giveaway!

On top of that, a little something for everyone. Get 15% off your entire order from Lady Belle Fabrics using code QUILTER. Sale good through midnight on Sunday, August 30. Enjoy!

You can also keep track of the latest happenings, sales, new arrivals, etc. on Instagram and Facebook.

Thanks Brooke, Rob, and Lady Belle Fabrics!

Summing up summer sewing

Alison Glass swoon blocks

Summer Vacation 2015 is officially in the books as the kids went back to school this week. I’ll admit, I had pretty mixed emotions about it. Usually I’m counting down until school starts and we have more routine/structure in our lives again, but this year I have really enjoyed the laid-back lazy-hazy days of summer and I wasn’t really feeling ready to jump back into it all.

Nevertheless, here we are and I have to admit, it’s been nice to have a taste of quiet time to catch up on things (like email) that I seem to have got WAY behind on. Yikes. I’m also itching to clean out my sewing room…


I feel lucky – sewing hasn’t been totally absent this summer. I’ve had some good windows where I felt productive and other weeks where it kind of fell by the wayside and I didn’t worry about it too much. Blogging pretty much fell in the same boat.

Some summers-past I’ve tried to “do it all” with very exhausting results. This summer I was determined not to feel that way and I think it worked. Judging by the fact that I wasn’t anxious for summer to end is another good sign.

Broken Dishes half square triangles

I’ve had a few finished projects over the last few months that will be part of future publications, so I haven’t been able to share a lot of what I’m working on. This color palette has been one of my recent favorites and I’ve used it in at least five recent projects. (haha.) I had these triangles left over as scraps so I threw them together in an easy broken dishes layout just for fun.

Dresden applique

I’ve also pulled out my Gardenvale Dresdens again. With deadlines past, I want to get these finished. Plus I love that they provide some good carry-around hand-work.

Jen Kingwell Dresdens

Here’s the progress thus far. I love how each one turns out and I love that the color palette is so out of my normal range. Speaking of different than my normal color palette – the top photo is the growing blocks from my Alison Glass Swoon-inspired blocks. These are blocks I’ve sent out to members to assemble, so it’s really fun to see them start to return. Even though I chose the fabric, I couldn’t visualize exactly how they’d look. They’re looking even better than I thought!

People have asked about the background fabric. It’s a woven fabric from Diamond Textiles, that I bought at my local quilt shop, but I don’t know the specific sku. (Sorry, not super-helpful.)

FigTree Moda Farmhouse

And finally, as if I didn’t have enough works-in-progress, I’m starting something new this weekend! I broke out this Layer Cake (10″ precuts) of Fig Tree’s newest collection Farmhouse. Yardage hits stores soon – maybe now that the kids are back in school I’ll even get my blocks pieced by the time it comes out!

Happy weekend and happy sewing to you!

And don’t forget, tomorrow is the final day of the Action Kivu fundraiser.

AND: MANY MANY thanks for all of your kind words (and votes!) for my Blog award nomination. If you’d still like to vote, you can find the ballot here. 😉

Do Good – Causes that make a difference – Summer 2015

I love a good cause. I’m a firm believer that small offerings by many good hearts can combine to make a big difference. This week Alissa Haight Carlton is running her annual Action Kivu fundraiser. In this fundraiser the money raised goes directly to teaching women in the Congo how to sew and giving them their own sewing machine when they have passed their courses.

Action Kivu I love a cause that empowers under-privileged and abused women by giving them tools to and education to make their lives better. Not only so they can provide for their families but to give them confidence and self-worth.

Visit Alissa’s Blog for more Action Kivu information. Your donations also enter you to win awesome prizes!

Sewing Machines for Ecuador

I know the goodness of this community first hand as many of your were so generous last winter in raising money for the Sewing Machines for Ecuador  cause to buy sewing machines so that these indigenous women of northern Ecuador could help supplement the income for their families who typically earn as little as $300 a month. Over $1200 was raised within a couple of weeks for these women.

Sewing machines for EcuadorWith the money that was donated these sweet ladies were able to buy 4 industrial sewing machines and a serger. After they have received training on the machines those who work are paid wages for the products they sew that are sold. Women are also given the opportunity to use the machines to sew for their own families needs. Many, many thanks again to those who helped!

There are lots of opportunities to out there to help. Here are links to past posts. If money is tight, but you want to contribute no-longer-needed fabric and supplies that you have on hand consider sending fabric (or unfinished quilt tops) to Serving with Smiles (more information and background here.)

Two other great causes include Days for Girls and Quilt Angels. If you know of other causes in need of quilt/fabric donations, please feel free to leave them in the comments!


Pie Making Day Quilt and Fabric Giveaway


One of my on-going quilt projects this summer is finally coming together. You may remember all the half square triangles I’d cut from the Pie Making Day fabric a couple of months ago? Summer sewing has been pretty hit or miss, but with the help of Poldark on Masterpiece (PBS) I cranked this puppy out! The design is based on a very traditional quilt design – you can find lots of vintage (and modern) quilts made into a stars from half-square triangles.

pie-making-day fabric

I love how the cheerful prints from the Pie Making Day collection pop against the solid gray. I used an RJR Cotton Supreme solid, the color is Gale Force.

Giant half square triangle star

At this point the quilt is 64″ x 64″. I still need to add some borders before I get it off to the quilter.  I will publish a pattern with my measurements and constructions tips.




And today I have a bundle of Pie Making Day fabrics to giveaway to one of you from Pink Castle Fabrics. Pie Making Day is Brenda Ratliff’s first fabric collection and it has been fun to see the enthusiastic response it’s received. Such great colors and blenders that while vintage-inspired, work great in contemporary quilts as well.


Pink Castle Fabrics

Brenda is also the owner of Pink Castle Fabrics, one of my favorite online quilt shops. I love pretty much everything in stock. Some of their recent additions include the latest from Cotton+Steel, Hello Darling from Bonnie and Camille, and Handcrafted 2 by Alison Glass.

They also carry a great selection of fabric bundles – both from the manufacturers and independently curated.

sk art


Other fun things going on at Pink Castle Fabrics include a collaboration with the very hilarious Samarra Khaja. This image is from her first t-shirt for Pink Castle. You can order t-shirts here.


sewpro_810x810Pink Castle Fabrics is also part of the duo hosting and putting on the Sew Pro convention in Chicago in September of 2016. This convention is for people looking to get involved with or learn more more about the professional sewing industry. This includes writing patterns, authoring books, designing fabric, blogging, etc. Lots of great people already scheduled to teach and present – including Tula Pink, Pat Sloan, Sara Lawson, Alison Glass – and it looks fantastic. I’m really hoping to go myself! Visit the Sew Pro website for more information.


If you would like to enter to win the Pie Making Day fabric, visit Pink Castle Fabrics and leave a comment here telling me something in stock that you love. Giveaway ends Friday, August 21 at midnight MST. You can also subscribe to the Pink Castle Fabrics newsletter or Facebook page to keep up to date on all of there sales and promotions as well as new arrivals. GIVEAWAY CLOSED>

WINNER:  NataliE says 

Love the curiosities bundles! And that quilt…. I die.