Bread & Butter Quilt

SONY DSCMy roommate from freshman year of college just had her first baby, the third of my close friends from freshman year to procreate this year.  We’ve stayed in touch over the years; she’ll randomly send me a little email here and there and they just brighten my day so much.  She’s always been one of the nicest people I know.

So, of course, when she emailed me early on in the year to let me know that she was expecting, I wanted to go all out for her and her wee one.  I had plenty of notice, so I really sat down and thought about what to make.  I recalled a quilt pattern I’d seen in a book I borrowed from the library while we were living in Australia, and luckily, I remembered the name of the book, Two From One Jelly Roll Quilts, by Pam and Nicky Lintott, and even more luckily, the book was available on Amazon.com (so many Australian books cannot be obtained stateside, but this one was British!), so I ordered it, took a glance at the pattern, chuckled at its cleverness, and committed.

Her nursery has been decorated with an alphabet and storybook theme, and she said she was fond of polka dots, and then she found out she was having a girl, and the Bread & Butter fabric collection popped into my mind’s eye, and I knew we had a winner.

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I’ve been in a lot of pain for the past couple of months so progress on this quilt was very slow.  It was decided that I would have another surgery to help with the problem, and when I finally got a surgery date scheduled, I just had a feeling that I really needed to get this to the binding stage before I went under the knife.  I had to enlist the help of my bestie, Denise, to cheer me on and encourage me, and we hosted a couple weeks’ worth of “Epic Sewing Thursdays” where we’d text pictures back and forth to each other every hour or so to show our progress on our respective projects.  You sure can get a lot done when you’re working “alongside” friends!

My check-in for surgery was at 12:45pm on Election Tuesday, and I was finishing up the machine-stitching portion of the binding at 10:30am.  Why fret about surgery and politics when you can focus on making pretty things for babies?

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The hand binding took two days, and the quilt label took lots of minutes over lots of days because my surgery ended up being a little more invasive than originally planned, and I was put on bed rest for five weeks instead of “three days of resting” afterwards.  Bah.  (Which is also why you’re getting quilt photos in front of the Christmas Tree…I wasn’t allowed to leave the house, ha ha.)

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But in the end, the result was the same:  A beautiful baby quilt for a beautiful baby girl, who has a beautiful mother with one of the kindest hearts you’ve ever met.

Congratulations, Stephanie and Jon, on the start of your family.  Welcome to your life, Baby Sydney…look to your mother’s example and you’ll do well.

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Evolution of a Crafter: Gifts

We made it through Halloween.

And like a collective sigh, the online creative world shifted from maple leaf quilt blocks and fabric pumpkins to an overwhelming insistence that “YES, YOU HAVE TIME TO MAKE ALL YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFTS.”  Overnight.  I went to bed on October 31st proud of myself for getting my kids’ costumes done right, and woke up the next morning to an online frenzy of DIY gifts.

Many years ago I stumbled across the advice to get your handmade Christmas gifts done before Thanksgiving so you didn’t spend December in a state of anxiety over whether or not you’d finish your gifts.  For the most part, I adhere to this wisdom because it’s the only way that Christmas baking is happening–I dearly love Christmas baking, and I don’t have time for it if I’m struggling to also finish knitting and quilting projects.

So I tried something different this year.  On January 1, 2016 I drew up a list of the people I generally give gifts to at Christmas and concocted an rotation of various categories that I like to make, assigned them to a ten year schedule, and then plugged my gift list people into the categories based upon what age they were turning this year.

Example:  If your age on your birthday in 2016 had you turning something ending with a 5 (ie. 5, 15, 25, 35, etc.), then you were assigned a hat because I assigned hats to 5.

Other categories included: Pillow (1), Socks (2), EPP (3), Apron (4), Scarf (6), Mittens (7), Choice (8), Bag (9), and Quilt (0).

After spending my New Year’s Day happily ensconced in pattern searching and stash diving, I woke up on January 2nd with  optimism and excitement.  I decided to start with the big items first and work my way down to the smaller things, and first on my list was a quilt to make for a special girl who celebrated her tenth birthday in 2016.  (Understandably, I can’t show you a picture of it until after Christmas…)

And it was glorious for a few weeks–oh, the pace was exhilarating, and I patted myself on the back for my excellent plan.

But then, in March, I had to start a project that just wasn’t interesting to me, mostly because of the colors.  I lagged behind my schedule as I grit my teeth each morning and forced myself into my studio to continue plodding along towards the completion of that project.  The next gift on the list was once again in a color palette that failed to excite.  My life started to look like one long, endless road of projects I didn’t really want to make.

And on top of all that, so many people had babies this year.  To date, I’ve completed six baby quilts, with another 1-3 possibly in the works.

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People, I am gifted out.  I have spent this entire year making gifts for people. THE ENTIRE YEAR.

I don’t regret it at all, but I’m also just. done.

I think I’m evolving.

Have you noticed that so many people, when learning a new skill, give away their projects?  It’s like they make that first project to figure out how to work the new skill, and then start cranking out projects and just give them all away?  I’ve touched on this idea before in a previous post, but it seems that we go through a phase of “Look at what I can do!” with any newfound skill, gifting any living being with the works of our hands.  I think it’s part excitement and pride in a job well done, and the other part love.  All good things.

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Some of the swap blocks I’ve made this year. I’ve actually been able to do a lot growing with The Beehive Swap!  New techniques and skills galore!

But there comes a point when you look around and know that you’ve spent most of your time creating beautiful works of art, and realize that your personal life is quite devoid of any of that particular beauty because you’ve given it all away.  There is beauty in service and giving, definitely; but…that moment when you realize that your dwelling is practically ascetic causes a big pause and an even larger moment of reflection.

Giving gifts is good.  Improving one’s skills while working on said gifts is also good.  There has been a lot of good this year.  (Please no one who received a gift from me this year think that I’m upset or regret making something for you.  That is totally NOT the case AT ALL.  I’m quite proud of all the nice things I made for you all this year.)

But…

…it’s falling short.  There are new techniques to try, new skills to learn, and they don’t fit into gifting categories, so I’ve been slow to start working on them, despite my heart being pulled in that direction.

So, I think it’s time for a Gifting Decommission.

Less time spinning my wheels creating more of the same, and a new focus on learning new techniques and stretching my abilities.  I can’t do that with the pressure of gift lists on my shoulders; with the thoughts of “Now who would like this?  Maybe I should change that color to match their decor a little better.  Hmm, I know that so-and-so really loved that appliqued one, so maybe I’ll put this pattern aside and do something with more applique because then I can give it to her for Christmas…” in the back of my mind.  A shift to making art for the sake of art.  “What is best for this project?” instead of “What is best for this person?”

My creativity needs to be mine, and I also need the time to tackle new techniques that will allow me to progress.

I’ve a few gift projects that are near completion that I’ll see through to the end, but after they’re done, that’s it for a while.

It’s time to build a cocoon and do a little bit of growing.

This is what I will tell myself in two weeks when I snap and think that, yes, I SHOULD MAKE ALL THE GIFTS.

I am not an elf in Santa’s workshop.  It is not my job to make gifts, nor does my livelihood depend upon my ability to supply others with gifts.

Now to get going on that cocoon…

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

Briar Rose Baby Quilt

Briar Rose quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

Another baby quilt completed during this Year of ALL THE BABIES™!  This was for another friend from college, and I decided to bust out the coveted Briar Rose charm packs that I had been saving for “something special.”  She had mentioned in Facebook comments that she hoped to not “drown in a sea of pink,” and Briar Rose is the perfect amount of girly without a lot of pink, in my opinion.

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

My oldest daughter, Emily, helped me out with piecing the top as part of her summer chores (I’ve assigned one hour of sewing to her everyday in the hopes that she’ll start making  a dent in some of her WIPs).  I then took over from there with the quilting and finishing.

Vine and clover quilting on Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

 

I was stressing pretty bad about the baby quilts when I started quilting this one, and I just decided to let go of all of the expectations of getting gifts done before the babies were born so I could actually enjoy the process of making the gifts.  I was going to burn through the quilting on this with a simple stipple design, but the quilt spoke to me and it wanted some sort of floral quilting.  Floral stipple?  Nope.  Chrysanthemum all-over design?  Nope.  And then the idea of vines and clover popped into my head, and the quilt clapped its hands in excitement, and off we went.  It took longer to do, but I’m so glad I went that route.  It was a good exercise in doing something new.

Back of Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

I tracked down some Briar Rose yardage* for the back, which made my matchy-matchy heart so happy, and I dipped into my preciously-hoarded stash of my own Briar Rose yardage for the binding.

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

I decided to take some time and also have fun with the label, and I love how it turned out…little, teeny pinwheels!  Oh, be still my heart.  Love, love, love.

Quilt label on Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

It’s simple patchwork, yes, but I’m super proud of it–beautiful fabric, new quilting design, and adorable little label.  It makes me smile to look at the pictures every time I see them.  AND it was a joint project with my girl…win-win all around.

Briar Rose baby quilt made by Cara Brooke @ thatcraftycara.com

*I found the Briar Rose yardage at Lark Cottons, and they still have yardage of various prints!

Dr. Seuss Baby Quilt

Yes, it is indeed a post from me, and it’s even about a finished project.  Whew, end-of-school kinda kicked my butt this year, and I haven’t been sewing, blogging, or doing anything beyond mommy duty for months.  Life gets that way sometimes.

Anyway, you’re here for the finished quilt, not my life story.  Here we go…I give you the FINISHED Dr. Seuss Baby Quilt:

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SONY DSCSo, many years ago, I don’t how many precisely (five? eight?), the Dr. Seuss fabric came out and people went absolutely bonkers for it, myself included.  I bought up a couple yards without any plan for them, and, because I was in the midst of homeschooling and really young kids, it went into my stash to hibernate.

This May or June I found out that a friend from college was pregnant…and due to give birth in about three weeks or so.  Now, I’d always liked this friend, but I was in the midst of my “young children” years when she had her other kids and I hadn’t been able to make anything back then, but here I was, all primed for baby quilt-making, just a little short on time…and after a couple of days of stewing over it, I just decided to go for it.  Operation Sew-It-Like-You-Mean-It was a go.

Stash diving brought out the Dr. Seuss goods, which I matched up with some other coordinating fabrics, and I found a fun pattern that looked like it could come together quickly in Amy Smart’s Fabulously Fast Quilts.  Woo hoo!

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SONY DSCIt was fast, and I had a lot of fun making it!  And, to top it off, I bought some of the most perfect binding fabric from a member of my quilt guild.  I love, love, love the black and white stripe!

I used up all of my yellow Dr. Seuss print on the back, bordered with strips of the Dr. Seuss prints from the front.

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I think it’s rather happy, no matter which side you’re looking at.  I hope it’s well-loved, and used until it’s worn out to rags.  That’s Valhalla for a baby quilt.

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And many thanks to my little quilt models…

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…they’re so fabulous.

AGF Stitched with Kimberly: “Blithe” quilt pattern

Hello again!  It’s time for another round of AGF Stitched with Kimberly, featuring a new pattern and some lovely Art Gallery Fabrics!

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The new pattern this time is called “Blithe,” and the Fat Quarter Shop version used a new fabric collection called Chalk & Paint, which, when I first saw it during those gray, cold days of late January, just filled me with so much excitement over the eventual arrival of spring that I decided to make a spring-colored version myself.

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I went with a bunch of fabrics from the Paperie collection and the Playing Pop collection, with a few selections from the Millie Fleur collection as well, paired with the solid “Icy Mint” from the Pure Elements line.

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I really liked the look of this pattern, but I had the idea to scale it down and decided to go with it.  Instead of six-inch blocks, I scaled it down by 50% to make three-inch blocks, and made some cheerful throw pillows.  The pillows measure 18.5 inches square.

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Love it.  The pattern used Triangles on a Roll, which I’d always wanted to give a try, so there was some extra fun in doing that–I think if I need to mass-produce HSTs in the future that I’ll go this route again.

I’ve been obsessed with pebbling quilting for a few months now, so I decided to take the plunge and give it try as well.  I used Aurifil 50 in “Medium Mint” for pebbling on the mint sections, and Aurifil 50 in “Natural White” to outline quilt the prints.  Using the darker mint thread really brought out the green tones of the Icy Mint fabric, which was neat.

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To help you out with making your own Blithe quilt, the Fat Quarter Shop has assembled two kits using that fabulous Chalk & Paint fabric collection:

Blithe Quilt Kit

Backing Set for Blithe Quilt Kit

And, the pattern is free, and you can get your own copy by clicking here.

There’s also a video explaining the pattern more in-depth.  Enjoy!

In exchange for creating this project, Art Gallery Fabrics provided me with the fabric.  Thank you to both Art Gallery Fabrics, and to the Fat Quarter Shop for allowing me the opportunity to sew up another beautiful pattern with such great fabrics!

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Gingham Block pattern

We have a sewing group in my neighborhood, and we’re running another quilt block swap this year.  The pattern that February’s queen bee wants cannot be found online, so I’ve written one up for us.  It’s going to be pretty cute!

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Just right click on the images, save, and print.

Or, you can click here and view the file in PDF format.

And, to answer the oft-asked question:  The “medium” and “dark” color should be shades of the SAME color.  (ie. “medium PINK” and “dark PINK”)

 

Fat Quarter Shop’s Top 10 Videos: Star Cakes Quilt

Top-10-VIdeosHello Lovelies!

Star Cakes is another fun quilt in the parade of the Fat Quarter Shop’s Top 10 Videos of 2015.  I chose to make a baby-friendly-sized version, because WOW, you can get FIVE baby quilts out of TWO layer cakes with this pattern, and WOW, I know FOUR women who are pregnant with girls at the moment.

Plus, the Star Cakes quilt pattern is free.  Oh, yes, I’m a very happy quilter indeed.

So, consider this as Cara’s Star Cakes Quilt #1, of many to follow:

 

 

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I used the lovely Gooseberry collection, and Bella Solids in Admiral Blue.  It will make a nice little playmat for my friend’s wee girl.

There are lots of other bloggers who are participating in today’s Top 10 quilt hop, and their work is lovely:

Shruti of 13 Woodhouse Road

Rachel of PS I Quilt

Melissa of Happy Quilting

Tina of Emily Ann’s Kloset

Cara of That Crafty Cara (you’re here!)

Kim of Persimmon Dreams

Pat Sloan

And there’s more fun:  Fat Quarter Shop wants to see YOUR versions of their Top 10’s, and they’re offering a $100 gift certificate to one lucky quilter who posts their photos on Instagram with the hashtag #starcakesquilt and #FQStop10.

Thanks for the opportunity to sew up this great pattern, Fat Quarter Shop!

Star Cakes quilt, a free pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop, made with Gooseberry Fabrics and Bella Solids in Admiral Blue.

Linking up:
Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
WOW Wednesday @ Esther A. Liu
Needles & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

Layers of Charm “Flower Sugar” Quilt

Top-10-VIdeosHappy New Year everyone!  In celebration of the new year, Fat Quarter Shop decided to showcase their top ten YouTube videos from 2015, and the Layers of Charm pattern was one of them.  It is a very easy pattern to stitch!

 

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I chose to make my Layers of Charm quilt using the very pretty Flower Sugar 10″ Origami Square pack, and paired it with a White Bella Solids Charm Pack I had on hand.

Every time I’ve seen a Layers of Charm quilt, I’ve always noticed those middle diamonds, and I’ve always thought that they made perfect little blank canvases for some embellishment, so I went with it and added a redwork rose to my center diamond:

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I simply traced a vintage roses pattern (found all over the internet) onto the fabric, and then used some DMC cotton perle #8 in color #321 to stem stitch the design.  I think it goes perfectly with the Flower Sugar “look.”

I then did some double diagonal lines of quilting with 40 weight Aurifil thread in color #2250, and I love how they cross each other!

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I loved making this quilt, and it turned out so beautiful!

If you’d like to watch the Layers of Charm video, here it is:

And, the pattern is FREE and you can download it here: http://static.fatquartershop.com/media/wysiwyg/pdf/LayersofCharm.pdf

One layer cake + one charm pack.  Simple.

Also, if you head on over to the Fat Quarter Shop’s Jolly Jabber blog, they’re offering a $100 gift certificate giveaway in connection with this #FQSTop10 event.  Go find out how to enter!

Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop, for this great pattern and the opportunity to share it with others!

But, wait!  Others are making the Layers of Charm quilt and showing it off today!  Go check ’em out:

Tina of Emily Ann’s Kloset
Tricia of Notes of Sincerity
Anorina of Samelia’s Mum
Erica of Kitchen Table Quilting
Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation
Cara of That Crafty Cara
Connie of Free Motion by the River
Gerri of Planted Seed Designs
Shruti of 13 Woodhouse Road

Linking up:
Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Needles & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

January Queen Bee!

I’m so excited to have seen the sign-ups for the 2016 rendition of the Beehive Swarm Swap.  And, as luck would have it, I was assigned January as my special Queen Bee month!  I’ve been eagerly awaiting the appropriate time to start talking about my block choice, and it’s finally here!  (I made myself wait until after Christmas…it was so hard.)

So, hi!  I’m Cara.  I’m crafty, and I’ve chosen the “Wanta Fanta” block for my block, and I made up a little sample block to show the colors I like:

Wanta Fanta quilt block

I’m OK with a little bit of low-volume white background, and I’m also OK with plain white, or white-on-white.

For the colors, I’d like any combination of turquoise/aqua, navy, red, spring green, and happy pink.  I’m not a big fan of batiks or 1800’s prints, and I really love gingham and florals.  I’d really like each block to be a different color…but also waver on whether or not that’s too much to ask, so please proceed as you best see fit.

I’ve also made up a Pinterest board, in case that proves helpful:

Wanta Fanta Pinterest board

Follow Cara’s board 2016: Beehive Swap “Wanta Fanta” on Pinterest.

I’m so excited to see what you come up with!  Giddy, giddy, giddy! Thank you!

Linking up:
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let’s Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
WOW Wednesday @ Esther A. Liu

 

AGF Stitched with Kimberly: “Locket” Quilt Pattern

 

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Another new pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop and Art Gallery Fabrics!  It’s a clever little pattern, and I enjoyed sewing it up so much!  I love sewing half square and corner square triangles, and that’s what this pattern is all about.  And, even better, the Locket quilt pattern is available for FREE!

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When I first saw the pattern, I fell in love–it made me think of the light inside each person (yellow centers), and how they are surrounded by people who love them, and their experiences (multi-colored fabrics).  That people/experience “filter” helps us to choose from right and wrong, which always surround us (navy & ivory).

As always, there’s a cute little video explaining the pattern, featuring Kimberly from the Fat Quarter Shop:

Click here to order your own Locket quilt kit from the Fat Quarter Shop, featuring Amy Sinibaldi’s lovely “Paperie” fabric collection.  There’s also a separate backing set, which you can order by clicking here.

Thank you, Fat Quarter Shop and Art Gallery Fabrics, for letting me participate in another lovely blog tour!

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Quesnel loves this quilt, too.

This quilt was machine quilted by Brandy Mascher.  I love it!

Click here to see my Pinterest board for this project!

Feel free to go check out the other bloggers’ take on this pattern, too:

Angie of GnomeAngel

Cara of That Crafty Cara (that’s me!)

Caroline of Sew Caroline

Christina of Sometimes Crafter

Erica of Kitchen Table Quilting

Heather and Megan of Quilt Story

Jane of Quilt Jane

Jemima of Tied with a Ribbon

Melissa of Happy Quilting

Natalia of Piece N Quilt

Sinta of Pink Pincushion

UPDATE: If you check out the Fat Quarter Shop’s blog post about the Locket pattern, there’s a giveaway for an Art Gallery Fat Quarter Bundle of your very own!

Linking Up:
Sew Cute Tuesdays @ Blossom Heart Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Needles & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation