Hot Air Balloon Crib Quilt

This fall, I was given some hot air balloon fabric to match my toddler’s bedroom, and with the weather getting colder, I knew a quilt for his crib was the perfect way to use it.

I stuck with a very simple design to showcase the fabric, and I even had some coordinating Kona blue on hand for the back. I did my first freehand FMQ, a wavy crosshatch.

Unfortunately, when I washed the quilt, I had my first experience with bearding. I almost cried when it came out of the washer looking like this:

I had to do some googling, and ran across this article that says it is caused by static and the dye in the fabric. I’m not sure if it was because of the dry weather, or because I chose wool batting (another first), but either way, there was no quick fix. I spent maybe half a dozen sessions painstakingly pulling wool fibers off both sides, using a spray bottle with some dryer sheets in water to keep any further static at bay. (I have since invested in some anti-static spray; otherwise, I’d never be brave enough to wash this quilt again!)

I’m still finding little pills of batting on the quilt, but nothing too horrible. My son likes his hot air balloons, and the quilt keeps him warm on our bitter Minnesota winter nights. 🙂


Quiet Book

Last summer, my two-year-old started taking more interest in the quiet book my sister-in-law made for him. It only had three pages, but it was made to be expandable, so I decided to make him some new pages for Christmas. I went to Pinterest for inspiration, and let me tell you, once I saw all the cute ideas out there, it was hard to stop myself from making everything! I ended up with six new pages, two of which are two-page spreads.

First up, a tooth-brushing hippo:


Then my son’s favorite, the dump truck:

Within moments, the ribbons were all torn loose, so unless you have a very gentle child, I recommend going without.

Then we have one of my personal favorites, and also one of the most fiddly to make, the socks in the dryer:


The socks all have magnets sewn inside, so the pairs can be matched up.

Then a sandcastle:

The pieces can be arranged however he wants, and stored in the bucket.

Next, another very fiddly page, the counting jellyfish:


I made sure the knots were extra tight and the cords sewn in extra well to make sure no beads were going to come loose for my new baby to eat!

Last, a nest of ducklings that hatch from their eggs to go swim in the pond:


This was my most original design, made as a cross between these chicks and this duck pond.

I had a lot of fun making these pages; we’ll see how long it takes for my son to spend as long playing with it as I did making it!


Roots and Branches

I’m woefully out of date documenting my projects, so I’m going to spend the next couple weeks trying to catch up. This first one was a joint project with my mom in the first three weeks after my son was born last summer. It was a gift for her brother, who recently became partially paralyzed and is confined to a wheelchair. My mom did most of the design and piecing, while I served as advisor and instructor (since she has sewed before but not quilted), and at the end I did the quilting and binding.

The tree is appliqué, copied freehand from Pinterest. I marked all the circles and quilted with FMQ, rather than with a walking foot like I did previously on my dragonfly quilt. I made myself a little tool to keep an even offset for the circles, which worked very well. (Tape some cardboard to the pen and trace the previous line with it, marking with the pen at an offset.)


The finished quilt was very wavy, so I put pockets in all four corners and inserted a piece of cardboard to keep it as flat as possible on the wall.

My mom hand sewed the charms on at the end. I thought it came out well, particularly considering our time constraints (we had to finish before my mom went back home!), and it was well received by my uncle.


Beach Tote

After the success of my first tote bag, I immediately started designing a more complex bag big enough to carry towels and sand toys to the beach.What better project for summer, right? (I had hoped to finish earlier, but as it turned out, I started cutting fabric the day before my son was born. I finished most of it with a sleeping baby strapped to my chest.)

I started with the same basic tutorial, but added the straps and pocket from this other tutorial. I also added 2 pockets on the inside, one divided into 3 smaller pockets.

Most of the bag is strips of bright batiks from my stash, but I fancied up the handles and top by strip piecing some solid jelly roll batiks at an angle (the most time consuming part of the project).

All that’s left now is to find time to go to the beach!

Quilted Wave Placemats

These quilted placemats were inspired by this photo. Copied, really, but I drew all my templates freehand. I chose sea and sand colors to go with my mom’s new house on the lake. (They’re a gift for all her help when the baby comes-I finished in May, and scheduled the post for after they’ve been gifted.)

I’ve never pieced curves before, so I picked up a few tips before giving it a go. It was surprisingly easy, except for one piece that curved a little too much right at the end, where I couldn’t get a good grip to keep it in place.

This was my first time doing unmarked fmq. I tell you, there’s nothing like doing the same pattern 6 times in a row to really get it into your head and fingers. After the first couple, I didn’t even need to look at the previous ones to check that they were the same.

Mini Wall Quilt for Baby

Appropriately, the first project I finished post-baby is this mini wall quilt to hang in the nursery. The fabric is Little Ark, just like for my godson’s quilt, but Baby N’s name is too long to make that pattern practical (also, I didn’t have quite enough fabric left). I used the walking foot for most of the quilting, and fmq for outlining the N and in the corners.

Lest you think I’m supermom (or neglecting my baby), I did have most of this finished in advance, leaving just the label (so I could include his birthdate) and binding for after the birth.

Quilted Toiletries Bags

For my last project before the baby, I made a pair of toiletries bags to take with me to the hospital. The tutorial I followed didn’t include measurements (or words!), so I had to figure some of it out myself as I went along. I used a 14″ zipper, so my quilted piece was 14″ x 14″ before turning it into a bag.

This was my first time working with zippers, and I ended up sewing them by hand to avoid seams showing on the top. The fabric for the green bag is Eden by Tula Pink, and the fabric for the blue bag is Akiko by Robert Kaufman.

This was a fun little project, and I can definitely see myself making more of these as gifts in the future.

Quilted Tote Bag

The last couple weeks before the baby, I got on a bit of a bag kick. The first of these was a tote bag for carrying and/or storing portable projects, such as my English paper piecing hexies.

I used this tutorial as a starting point, changing the dimensions and the pattern to suit me. (I started with a flat piece 13.5″ x 26.5″, yielding a bag 10″ x 11.5″ x 3″.) I also increased the length of the handles to 22″, and used only a single layer of interfacing, 1″ wide, instead of the 4 layers you end up with following the tutorial.

I didn’t add any pockets to the tote, but I did make a little pouch with a snap closure to go inside, just big enough to hold scissors, thread, a seam ripper, and any other little tools I might need for a hand sewing project.

The fabric for both is Eclectic Elements by Tim Holtz (which I love!).

I’m currently working on a slightly more ambitious beach tote with pockets and some fancy touches, but it’s slow going with a newborn in the house!

Cathedral Window Pillow

As promised, in addition to my cathedral window wall quilt, I also made a pillow. After all the time spent on the quilt, I was shocked when I finished the pillow in less than 3 days, about 8 hours’ working time. It really helps to only have 9 window panes. 😉

The fabric is green tea kona cotton with windows of Canyon by Kate Spain from Moda. This particular pillow is a housewarming gift for my youngest sister, who just graduated college and is moving into her first apartment. 😄

Quilter’s Cutting/Ironing Table 

After months of being frustrated with a regular skinny ironing board and cutting fabric wherever I could clear the space (often on the floor), I finally got the cutting and ironing table I’ve been wanting.

The Ikea cutting table

The cutting table is straight from Ikea, about 24″ x 40″, with the adjustable legs so it’s tall enough to stand and cut comfortably. I’ve seen lots of people online making theirs out of shelves, which would be great, but I needed the table to be portable since it’s sitting right in front of our other storage shelves.

The removable ironing table top is the cool part. My husband used a piece of plywood about 48″ x 30″, and screwed smaller pieces to the bottom so there’s just enough room between them for the table top to fit snugly.

Bottom of the ironing table

Then I stapled layers of insul-bright, batting, and duck fabric to the plywood per this tutorial, and voilà! An ironing surface big enough to lay nearly a yard of fabric out, full width.

Finished Ironing Table