Gifts for Quilters 2014

Since it’s “that time of year” I thought I’d update my list of Favorite Gifts for Sewists and Quilters. I’ve added a few new things this year. One day I want to have the powers of Oprah to just hand out free samples of each to one and all, but alas, I’m not there quite yet. Maybe one day.

Gift Ideas for Sewers and Quilters

I’ve been a quilter for sometime now and I worked in a local quilt shop for about 7 years. I always loved helping quilters and/or their bewildered deer-in-the-headlights loved ones pick out gifts at Christmas. So I thought it would be fun to create a list of gifts perfect for quilters. This doesn’t just apply to the holiday season, but could be a good resource year round, or a subtle link to send to those you love who need suggestions for just the right gift for you. (winkwink)

I have included items in all different price ranges in case you’re looking for that one great thing for someone special, or a nifty little gift for everyone in your quilting guild. (Some of these links are affiliate links.)

Handmade gifts: It’s hard to beat a handmade gift. These are just a few little suggestions of handmade gifts – some simple, some more complex -for quilting friends. A cute zipper pouch is always useful to anyone. There are lots of great zipper pouch tutorials. One of my favorites is Anna from Noodlehead’s open-wide zipper pouch tutorial.

I also love Anna’s Divided Basket pattern – I’ve made a few this year. It takes a little more effort but the results are so great, and the more you make, the faster they come together. I LOVE mine – it helps me feel so much more organized to have a place to keep all my supplies together.

A friend recently sent me some of these awesome numbered labeling pins. I LOVE THEM for keeping track of quilt rows, pieces, etc. and they make an inexpensive but VERY useful gift. There is a tutorial for making these quilt row markers here. Another simple and easy gift is a little pin cushion made from a small rice bowl.

And if you want uber-easy, these magnetic pin dishes are so simple and fast to make and customize – and are so useful. I used little rice bowls from Pearl River Mart  for my pincushion and this magnetic bowl. Any Asian restaurant supply store would have an inexpensive variety.

Or a personalized magnetic pin case is also really simple and useful. I love mine so that I don’t have to worry about dumping my pins when I’m sewing on the road.

One of these pin holders with a bunch of new pins (because don’t we all need new pins once in a while) would be a really sweet gift for a quilting friend. If you’re looking for some quality glass-head pins, Westwood Acres has some really nice ones.

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Another adorable handmade gift is NanaCompany’s Needle Book tutorial. My sweet friend Calli made this Union Jack version for me a couple of years ago. I love it so much.

This adorable Travel Sewing Case makes an awesome gift for a fellow-quilter. Sometimes Crafter has a link to the original pattern as well as a tutorial for some cute add-ons. (Image used with permission from Sometimes Crafter.)

Pressing (Ironing) Table – this is a relatively inexpensive and easy item to make from a TV tray and they are SO handy to have right next to your sewing machine. I use mine all the time. I rarely even get out my big ironing board. Oh Fransson has a great pressing table tutorial.

Notions are another great choice and make a great gift because you can find them in a variety of sizes and prices. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

My two favorite cutting tools are the Olfa Splash Rotary Cutterand the OLFA 5-Inch Scissors. I love the Splash because it’s relatively inexpensive, sturdy, and it’s SO easy to change the blade. If you don’t have a good rotary cutter PLEASE give yourself the greatest gift and get one. (My favorite are the Olfa’s.) You will thank me and wonder why you waited so long. (It comes in Purple now too!)

I received my 5″ Olfa scissors at the Sewing Summit one year and have LOVED them. I keep them by my machine, but I also take them with me on the road because they are small and portable, but super sharp and great for cutting fabric.

If you really want to give a nice gift, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Gingher scissors. There’s a reason why they’re the cream of the crop. Small embroidery scissors are another simple, useful gift. You can find a large variety to choose from by searching Etsy.

Seam Ripper. Who can’t use another one of those? I have multiple seam rippers located strategically throughout the house. My personal favorite is the Clover Seam Ripper.

One of my very favorite tools is the Omnigrid Portable Cutting & Pressing Station. This is half cutting mat, half ironing board, that conveniently folds in half and is easily portable, using the carrying handles. I take this with me when ever I go sewing someplace away from home because I can have a convenient place to both cut and press without having to leave my machine. I often use it at home for the same reason.

Another cutting mat that has been on my list for sometime that I finally got this year is the Fiskars Rotating Cutting Mat. (Omnigrid has one too.) This little mat is so useful for quickly squaring up blocks. It’s one of those things I’ve lived without just fine for a long time, but I sure do appreciate how helpful it is now that I have it.

Clover Wonder Clips aka Binding Clips. I had heard about these puppies for a long time and finally got some last year. They have come in handy so many times! And my family walks with much less trepidation and fear of a random pin in the carpet after I have bound a quilt. The one thing that held me back originally was the price, but I found them for a GREAT deal on amazon here.

This is called a Wooden Iron. I saw these for the first time last fall at a sewing conference. It’s a tool for quick pressing simple seams without having to get up and use an iron. I don’t have one yet, but they looked so cool – it’s definitely on my wish list.

Design Wall: I love my Design Wall. It’s so handy for laying out projects. Connecting Threads has an easy hang design wall with grommets like mine. There are lots of tutorials for making your own. Here are a couple of design wall tutorials from Ellison Lane, Oh Fransson, and Craft Buds.

Thread: some great thread options include Connecting Threads gift boxes or Aurifil Threads collections from Christa Quilts.

Most of these notions are found, not only at big box sewing-supply stores like JoAnn’s, but also at craft stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. You can use those weekly coupons to get some great deals on quilting supplies, extra rotary cutter blades, etc. At the same time don’t forget to support your local quilt shop! You can’t replace the expertise and customer service only found in local shops.

Fabric. Who can resist fabric? Precuts or Fat Quarter Bundles are a great option, but for me part of the fun of getting new fabric, is picking it out myself. I recommend Gift Certificates to fabric shops. Pretty much all of the online shops on my side bar (under Sponsors) or your local quilt shop will happily sell you or your loved one a gift certificate. Keep in mind – giving a gift certificate is not a cop out – it’s like giving a present twice. First when they receive it. Second when they use it to pick something they love!

Another fun thing for someone who is just getting started would be a membership in a monthly club from online shops such as Pink Castle Fabrics, Westwood Acres, Duckadilly, or Marmalade Fabrics where they send you a new bundle of fabrics each month. Perfect for stash building!

QB-1

Another monthly club is from a company called Quilty Box. This is a monthly box that arrives at the door with a different collection of supplies including fabric, patterns, notions, etc each month. Shipping is free in the US. If you subscribe before May 11, 2015 you can get 25% off your first box.

A gift certificate could also be used to take a class, either at a local quilt shop, or online. You can Gift Any Craftsy Class by buying a gift certificate and then let the recipient choose the class that interests them most.

One of my favorite recent gifts was a set of customized quilt labels from Modern Yardage. I’ve always been terrible about labeling my quilts. Now I will actually do it!

Books: There are a myriad of amazing quilting books right now. I really like a versatile book that has multiple good projects to choose from as well as appealing to a variety of styles. Here are a couple of my favorites from the past year.

Quilitng the new classics

Quilting the New Classics: Patterns for traditional and modern quilts as well as write-ups about the history of different classic quilts and photos of a variety of them. A great variety of patterns  and styles – something for all tastes and just a really pretty book.

Pattern book with 15 scrap quilt patterns

Scraps, Inc. This book has 15 patterns for using up fabric scrap and there are SO many good ones. A great bang for the buck.

Simply Color: Red: A Crayon Box for Quilters is part of a new series by Vanessa Christenson of three books available now – Red, Orange, and Yellow that are pretty a fun. Perfect for gift giving.

I also hear Fabulously Fast Quilts is pretty good. 😉

One of my favorite books, and one that is perfect for gifting because it has so many possibilities, is still 500 Quilt Blocks by Lynne Goldsworthy and Kerry Green.

This book is full of inspiration. I bought mine last year and it is still on my bedside table because I love to read it just for the fun of it. I’ve since gifted it to some of my favorite quilty friends, including my mom. I think it’s the perfect gift because it appeals and crosses over to many tastes and styles – whether they’re new or experienced, traditional or modern. It’s pretty like a coffee-table book, but a more compact gift-size.

If you’re looking for storage options, I know a lot of quilters who love this Raskog portable storage cart from Ikea. It also comes in beige and black.

Ice Block Tee

Quilting-themed t-shirts. I love the selection at Patchwork Threads. Modern, graphic and really good looking. (This is on my Christmas list this year.) Keep in mind that sizes are unisex when ordering.

Stately Type Sewing T-shirt

New for Spring 2015 are these sewing-themed t-shirts from Stately Type. Some really clever shirts! One of these in on my list too!

Featherweight Sewing Machine Charm Necklace

Charmed Collections has a bunch of cute sewing-themed jewelry charms – perfect for a sewing-loving friend! I bought one of these for myself this year and have loved it.

Many of the things on the list are things I’ve bought or received myself so they get my authentic stamp of approval – no one asked me or paid me to put any of these things on this list.

Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments if you have other ideas of gifts perfect for quilters.

Happy Gifting!

Gift ideas for Quilters

I’ve been a quilter for sometime now and I worked in a local quilt shop for about 7 years. I always loved helping quilters and/or their bewildered deer-in-the-headlights loved ones pick out gifts at Christmas. So I thought it would be fun to create a list of gifts perfect for quilters. This doesn’t just apply to the holiday season, but could be a good resource year round, or a subtle link to send to those you love who need suggestions for just the right gift for you. (wink, wink)

All of these are my personal recommendations – a list of some of my Favorite Things. I wish I could go all Oprah and pull out my magic elves and share them with you instantly. But sadly, I do not wield such power. So all I can do is present them as a list of helpful suggestions. This list is authentic – no one asked me or paid me to put them on the list.

I have included items in all different price ranges in case you’re looking for that one great thing for someone special, or a nifty little gift for everyone in your quilting guild.

Notions: Notions are a great gift for quilters. There is always some handy new gadget to make our quilting-lives easier. Here are a few of my favorites.

One of my very favorite tools is the Omnigrid Portable Cutting & Pressing Station. This is half cutting mat, half ironing board, that conveniently folds in half and is easily portable, using the carrying handles. I take this with me when ever I go sewing someplace away from home because I can have a convenient place to both cut and press without having to leave my machine. I often use it at home for the same reason.

Another cutting mat that has been on my list for sometime that I finally got this year is the Fiskars Rotating Cutting Mat. (Omnigrid has one too.) This little mat is so useful for quickly squaring up blocks. It’s one of those things I’ve lived without just fine for a long time, but I sure do appreciate how helpful it is now that I have it.

My two favorite cutting tools are the Olfa Splash Rotary Cutterand the OLFA 5-Inch Scissors. I love the Splash because it’s relatively inexpensive, but it’s sturdy, and because it’s SO easy to change the blade. If you don’t have a good rotary cutter PLEASE give yourself the greatest gift and get one. (My favorite are the Olfa’s.) I promise it will make a huge difference. You will thank me and wonder why you waited so long. I received my 5″ Olfa scissors at the Sewing Summit last year and have LOVED them. I keep them by my machine, but I also take them with me on the road because they are small and portable, but super sharp and great for cutting fabric.

Seam Ripper. Who can’t use another seam ripper? I have multiple seam rippers located strategically throughout my house. My favorite is the Clover Seam Ripper

Clover Wonder Clips aka Binding Clips. I have seen and heard talk about these puppies for a long time and finally got some this fall. And I add my love to the love professed by others. They are so handy. And my family walks with much less trepidation and fear of a random pin in the carpet after I have bound a quilt. The one thing that held me back originally was the price, but I found them for a GREAT deal on amazon here.

This is called a Wooden Iron. I saw these for the first time this fall at a sewing conference. It’s a tool for quick pressing simple seams without having to get up and use an iron. I don’t have one yet, but they looked so cool – it’s definitely on my wish list.

Thread: some great thread options include Connecting Threads gift boxes or Aurifil Threads collections from Christa Quilts.

Fabric. Who can resist fabric. Precuts are a great option, but for me part of the fun of getting new fabric, is picking it out myself. I highly recommend Gift Certificates to fabric shops. Pretty much all of the online shops on my side bar (under Sponsors) or your local quilt shop will happily sell you or your loved one a gift certificate. Keep in mind – giving a gift certificate is not a cop out – it’s like giving a present twice. First when they receive it. Second when they use it to buy something they love!

Another fun thing for someone who is just getting started would be a membership in a monthly club from online shops such as Pink Castle Fabrics or Marmalade Fabrics where they send you a bundle of fabrics in a new color each month. Perfect for stash building!

Books: There are a myriad of amazing quilting books right now. One of my favorite new books of the year, and one that is so perfect for gifting because it has so many possibilities, is 500 Quilt Blocks by Lynne Goldsworthy and Kerry Green. 

This book is full of so much inspiration. I bought mine a few months ago and it is still on my bedside table because I love to read it just for the fun of it. In addition to all the block patterns and variations there are also some full quilt patterns and other projects. It’s such a sweet book and I think it’s the perfect gift for any quilter on your list because it appeals and crosses over to many tastes and styles – whether they’re new or experienced, traditional or modern.
Handmade gifts: Let’s be honest. It’s hard to beat a handmade gift. These are just a few little suggestions of handmade gifts – some simple, some more complex -for quilting friends. A cute zipper pouch is always useful to anyone. (The little piggie pouch was a sweet gift from my friend Leigh.) There are lots of great zipper pouch tutorials. One of my favorites is Anna from Noodlehead’s open-wide zipper pouch tutorial.
I also recently tried Anna’s Divided Basket pattern. It takes a little more effort but the results are so great. I LOVE mine – it helps me feel so much more organized to have a place to keep all my supplies together. I can give a great testimonial that it has helped me misplace things far less frequently. I am really hoping to at least make a few of these before Christmas gets here.

A little pin cushion made from a small rice bowl is super easy. Or a bunch of these numbered labeling pins. An inexpensive but VERY useful gift. A friend recently sent me some and I LOVE THEM for keeping track of quilt rows, pieces, etc. There is a tutorial for making these quilt row markers here.

Or a personalized magnetic pin case is also really simple and useful. I love mine so that I don’t have to worry about dumping my pins when I’m sewing on the road.
And if you want uber-easy, these magnetic pin dishes are so simple and fast to make and customize – and are so useful. I used little rice bowls from Pearl River Mart for my pincushion and this magnetic bowl. Any Asian restaurant supply store would have an inexpensive variety. 
One of these pin holders with a bunch of new pins (because don’t we all need new pins once in a while) would be a really sweet gift for a quilting friend. If you’re looking for some quality glass-head pins, Westwood Acres has some really nice ones.
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Another adorable handmade gift is NanaCompany’s Needle Book tutorial. This is one my sweet friend Calli made for me a couple of years ago. I love it so much.
Featherweight Sewing Machine Charm Necklace
This is a fun new addition – I just bought one myself. Charmed Collections has a bunch of cute sewing-themed jewelry charms – perfect for a sewing-loving friend!
Finally, a really fun gift would be the gift certificate to take a class, either at a local quilt shop, or online. You can Gift Any Craftsy Class by buying a gift certificate and then let the recipient choose the class that interests them most.
Most of these notions are found, not only at big box sewing-supply stores like JoAnn’s, but also at other craft stores like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. You can use those great weekly coupons to get some great deals on awesome quilting supplies, extra rotary cutter blades, etc. But at the same time please, please remember to support your local quilt shop! You can’t replace the expertise and customer service only found in local shops.
If you have other ideas of gifts perfect for quilters, feel free to leave them in the comments.
Happy Gifting!
This post contains affiliate links.

Quick and Easy Baby Quilt tutorial

 Tutorial originally shared on the Riley Blake Design blog, but I am reposting here in case you missed it.
I suddenly have had a lot of friends and family have babies in the past months, and I feel very behind on my baby-quilt-giving. But I do seem to have an (over)abundance of adorable fabric on hand that needs a loving home and someone to spit-up on it. So rather than get further behind, I’ve been creating very simply-pieced panel type quilts using strips of fabric to create a simple embellishment.
With so many great large scale fabrics available, you can create a simple baby quilt, letting the design motifs do all the work for you.  Or by adding a simple monogram embellishment you can both personalize the quilt and give the quilt added design detail.
This tutorial will show you two variations on this design to create a 41″ x 54″ crib-sized quilt.
  Supplies for Quilt 1:
  • 1 1/2 yard of fabric for front (I used Riley Blake’s large Gray Chevron)
  • 1 5/8 yard for backing (I used Aqua Marine)
  • fat quarter for circle (I used Aqua )
  • fat quarter for letter (I used Charcoal)
  • batting (I used Pellon Legacy White cotton batting)
  • 1/2 yard for binding (I used Charcoal)
Supplies Quilt 2 (with stripe):
  • 1 3/8 yard fabric for front (I used Mystique Black Petal)
  • 1/6 yard fabric for stripe (I used Mystique Gray Stripe)
  • 1 5/8 yard cotton fabric for back (I used 60″ wide minkie and needed 1 3/8 yards)
  • fat quarter for circle (I used Peony)
  • fat quarter for letter (I used Charcoal)
  • batting
  • 1/2 yard for binding (I used Charcoal)
Cut a 15″ circle out of thin cardboard. (Cereal boxes work perfectly.) From your circle fabric, use the 15″ template as a guide and cut a circle at least 3/4″ bigger than template all the way around. (Hint: If you are working with a light colored circle fabric that will go on top of a dark, patterned  background fabric, you may want to use interfacing so that the patterned fabric will not show through when you applique the circle to the front.)
Using a needle and sturdy thread, sew a large running stitch all the way around the circle, about 1/4″ away from the edge. Carefully pull thread to gather edges around the cardboard edge.
Bring circle to your ironing board and spray edges with starch. (You may want to put a dish cloth on your ironing board so your cover doesn’t get gucked up with starch.) Press the edges so that you have a nice, clean edge all around your circle. Don’t remove cardboard yet.
To create your monogram, choose a font on your computer and increase the font size so that it’s about 10″. Print the letter. (Hint: using a bold, chunky font is easier to work with. Ask me how I know this.) Using Wonder Under (the thinnest, lightest kind), trace the letter onto the paper side in the reverse. (You might want to tape your letter backwards to a window or light box and then trace letter backward.) Fuse Wonder Under to the back side of your monogram fabric.
Cut out monogram and peal off paper side of the Wonder Under. Carefully center letter on top of your circle and iron into place. Remove card board and take monogram to your sewing machine to either top stitch or satin stitch around the raw edges.
Take your pressed monogram circle and place it where ever you desire on your top fabric. (I chose about 3/4 of the way down and 1/4 of the way from the right side.) Carefully pin in place.
Carefully top stitch around the outside edge of the circle.
To create the quilt top with the “stripe” you will cut your main print into two pieces: One measuring 36″ and the other measuring 13″.  From your “stripe” fabric, cut a piece 6.5″ (6″ if you only bought 1/6 yard – either is fine). Sew the stripe fabric between the 36″ and the 13″ piece using 1/4″ seams.
Use the same method as above to create the circle monogram. On this one I satin-stitched around the letter because it was thinner and needed more reinforcement.
Once your monogram is in place, square off the selvage edges plus about 1/2″ of the front side of your quilt. This will help when you go to create your quilt sandwich with the front, back and batting, the backing fabric will be visible from the front on all four sides.
Then quilt the top as desired. These two quilts were quilted for me by Melissa Kelley.  We decided to use the chevron as a guide for the quilting on this one, but changed the look in the circle to reemphasize the monogram. I love the pebble quilting she chose.
When the quilting is done, square off the batting and binding fabric to prepare the quilt for binding. Cut 5 strips 2 1/2″ wide from your binding fabric and sew them together end to end. Binding tutorial here.
Easy DIY Monogram Baby Quilt Tutorial
And there you go! A quick project for your new favorite baby. And as pictured above, you could just use pretty fabrics from your stash and create a simple, quilted baby quilt without the monogram. Easy peasy. Put that fabric to work!

Finished Block of the Month Quilt!

Just over a year ago I started following along with Jackie’s Block of the Month over at Canton Village Quilt Works.  You can see some of my progress herehere, and most recently here.
And now that Christmas is over and the surprise has been givene, I am so excited to share what I’ve done with them! I put them together into a quilt for my Mother-in-Law. I added a couple of extra blocks to round it up to 16 blocks. 
My husband’s parents and brothers recently retired and moved to Utah. They bought a house this fall and my mother-in-law has enjoyed painting and picking out colors for her new house. I wanted to make them a quilt for their new home and as the decorating progressed, I realized my quilt blocks were just the right colors. I’m happy to report she was thrilled with the quilt. There’s nothing like making a quilt for someone and seeing them love it. It doesn’t happen every time, so I don’t take that reaction for granted. It was a fun part of Christmas morning for me.
The layout of the quilt ended up being different that what I’d originally planned. When I started constructing what I thought I was going to do, it looked like a hideous mess to me.  I wish now that I had taken pictures so you could see the improvement. Basically, I put multiple different colors of the setting squares around each block and then I was going to just sew the blocks together. It looked terrible and I started to panic.

So I thought about it for a while. I didn’t want to waste the setting triangles I’d already cut out because many of them came from some precious bits of fabric. So out came the seam ripper.

I decided to try putting one color (even though the fabrics were different) setting triangles around each block.  That alone made a big difference. But the quilt was still too busy. There was no place for the eye to rest. Adding the sashing made the biggest difference. I chose a really pale blue dot as the sashing. I like that it’s neutral and spaces out the color, but because there’s a subtle pattern, it gives that ‘white’ space some texture. Then I added the red corner stones. They were the perfect punch of color to keep things lively. I think I squealed when it came together. (And I’m not normally a squeal-y person.) A HUGE improvement.

So lessons to share:
– Don’t be afraid to pull out the seam ripper. It was a pain in the moment (a lot of times I’m too lazy) but I’m so glad I did. The outcome is much improved.
– Neutral sashing can really tone down and unify a lot of busy prints and colors.

Every fabric in the quilt came from mystash. Yay! I did not buy any new fabrics to complete this quilt. Including the back and binding. I had this nice chunk of a Sandi Henderson Meadowsweet strawberry that was just right for the backing. It was really fun to use fabrics that I’ve collected and loved and put them all together in one quilt. Especially those vintagey-retro prints. 

 The quilting was done by Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting. I mainly wanted an all-over stipple since the fabric and quilt design was already so busy.  Melissa embellished with some cute flowers that tied it all together.

It’s fun to look at something so cheery now that blah, gray January is here. Fortunately this quilt lives close by so I can visit it often.

I’ve had thoughts of doing a similar project for a kind of Quilt-a-long from picking fabrics to finish. Obviously the pieced blocks would be different, but maybe a similar layout. Thoughts?

All kinds of Awesome

First of all, thank you so much to all of you who left comments and suggestions on the last post. There are some great suggestions and I am grateful for you taking the time to do that for me! It’s so nice to know what kinds of things you as a quilting/blogging/cool-people community are most interested in.
Next, are you familiar with the Scrappy Trip-along (#scrappytripalong)? It’s an informal quilt-a-long that went viral over Instagram right after Christmas. There’s a huge following on the Flickr group as well. (Over 600 members!) It’s also kind of awesome to use the words “quilt” and “viral” in the same sentence. The method is so fast – you can see the tutorial on Quiltville here. Plus it’s such a fun way to bust through some stash.
I have loved all the pretty inspiration. I fought desperately to avoid the temptation to start one of my own because I have so many projects and deadlines at the moment, but I caved and turned into a total sheep. I had to try it just for a minute. I went with a primary color scheme, but I’m thinking it needs a little more jazz. So I may add some turquoise and possibly a little orange and brown. Thoughts? I want this to look like an old quilt you would find in your grandparents’ vintage camper. Only without the weird smells and polyester. We’ll see if I get there. It’ll probably go into the pile of WIP’s for a while, but I may keep adding blocks here and there when my resistance is low.
Are you scrappytrippingalong?
Another little project I wanted to share. This quilt isn’t my creation, but it has a special story and I got to help contribute a little at the end, so I wanted to share it anyway. We have some neighbors who just adopted a second daughter with Down Syndrome. They have children of their own, but a couple of years ago decided to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. They found the daughter they were meant to have in their family in Russia. After a long legal process, they brought 4-yr-old A home from an orphanage. We have got the biggest kick out of watching A blossom and become part of this new family and neighborhood.
Last summer this family felt like there was one more little person out there waiting to become part of their family. Again, after a long process of professionals evaluating their family and legal proceedings, they brought home a second daughter with Down Syndrome on Christmas Eve- this time 3-yr-old H. Talk about a little angel. She is adorable. It is so sweet to watch her response to being part of a family.
Right before my friend made the trip to Russia for the final time, she called asking if I knew of anyone who could help her finish a quilt for the girls’ bed. She had a quilt top that her sister-in-law out of state had pieced but my friend didn’t know where to start with getting it finished. I told her she’d called the right person. :) (I don’t think most of my neighbors have any idea what a weirdo I am about this hobby, let alone know that I have piles of fabric in my basement or that on top of that, I write a blog about all this craziness.) I told her to leave it with me.
The adorable fabric is Little Kukla by Robert Kaufman. It’s very important to this family to commemorate their adopted daughters’ Russian heritage. The quilting was done by awesome Melissa Kelly of Sew Shabby Quilting. All I really did was put on the binding, but I felt so excited to contribute in some small way. (Plus it gave me the excuse to finally sit down and watch Elf.)
Our friends’ story hits close to home for us. My husband has two brothers (both biological) with Down Syndrome. They teach us so much about acceptance, patience, and unconditional love – three attributes that come so naturally to them. We’re all trying to catch up. We also know the realities of children with special needs. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows – it can be taxing too.
But, they have such an awesome impact on our family. Not the least of which is cool hand-chosen Christmas presents. This year my husband was the recipient of his very own She Devil’s sun visor. Possibly the most awesome Christmas present ever. Maybe I’ll get to borrow it sometimes. Don’t be jealous.

Finished Handmade Gifts

I was sewing up until the last possible minute (almost literally) to finish my handmade Christmas gifts this year. Anyone else out there doing that too? But I’m so happy with how they turned out. I really enjoyed making each one and I think the recipients were happy, which is an added bonus. Or at least they faked it really well.
(Back)

This pillow was made for my Grandma using Art Gallery Fabrics Indie collection and some Art Gallery Pure Elements (solids). Ever since I first saw Indie, I knew I wanted to make something for my Grandma from that collection – the vibrant colors instantly reminded me of her home and eclectic style. I think that it’s pretty awesome. (If I do say so.)

The star is paper-pieced. I made one of these for a quilting bee a month ago, which I was cursing at first, but once I got going, I got more comfortable with the process. And I totally loved the outcome. So I decided to do it again. I’m still not a perfect paper-piecer, but I love how it looks.

You can find the star pattern here.  I added 1″ x 2.5″ strips around the outside. (They are Sukie’s scraps left over from this quilt back. Aren’t they awesome?) The pillow finishes at 16″. Indie fabrics can be found here, and here.

Another pillow for a gift for my brother. As soon as I saw Rashida’s tutorial for this mini quilt, I knew I wanted to make one for my brother. He has been airplane obsessed for as long as I can remember and got his own pilot’s licence a few years ago. I liked making something for him. I went pretty neutral for the background and used Essex linen blend for the plane to give it some texture.

The back is a linen weave decorator weight print that I got at a Hable Construction sample sale a few years ago.
And yes, you can see pins on both of these pillows, waiting to stitch the openings together.  I ended up doing the stitching on our hairy, snowy drive in the car to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. But I knew I had to take the pictures before we left. So there are the pins in all their glory.

And finally, a quick notebook cover for a friend. I used a Melody Miller typewriter (which are pretty scarce these days) appliqued on Cosmo Cricket’s Happy Thoughts print on canvas from the Odds and Ends collection for Moda. (You can find the Happy Thoughts print here and here.) I love all the phrases on that Happy Thoughts print. (And speaking of showtunes, I went to see Les Miz on Wed night and I’ve been singing about Jean Valjean ever since.)

The cover was so slick – I think I need to make a few more. Including one to keep for myself. And maybe one of those star pillows too.