Thursday, November 14, 2019

Love Letters Sewing Kit

About 90% of my sewing time these days is spent on secret things, and most of that has lately been spent on samples for my next book. Each book is its own wonderful journey, but sometimes I need a break from it to refresh my mind and get inspired again. Thankfully, I had signed up months ago to be on the Love Letters fabric tour for my friend Lindsay of The Cottage Mama, and I can't tell you how glad I am that I did!

This fabric is exactly what I needed in my life. I love it so much. How much, you ask? So much that it might just be my favorite Riley Blake collection from all of 2019. The vintage Valentine card illustrations stole my heart immediately, but the supporting prints are just as good. So many cute details are in there like heart stamped envelopes, tic-tac-toe games, and blank postage labels. It makes my vintage loving heart happier than I can say...

My friend Cheri recently released her Tinkandstitch Needlebook pattern which makes the cutest little sewing kit, so I thought I would put the two together to make something adorable that I can use all the time. It's a great pattern for customizing, as Cheri has shown by sharing so many adorable versions of the needlebook on her Instagram account here.

I used a bit of red RBD wool for my needle pennant (decorated with some of Lori Holt's buttons and a few adorable donut pins from my friend Vicki at The Cherry Chick) and added a fabric stamp on one side of the inner pocket with some embroidered postage meter lines on the side. A bit of elastic paired with a vintage white button that belonged to my grandmother makes the perfect closure, and I absolutely love that red, white, and blue stripe for the binding and the faux washi tape on the inside.

This project was so much fun, and I'm thrilled to now have this beautiful little needlebook to use as I go back to the secret sewing on my table. This, I remind myself every time I look at it, is why I love to sew.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tilda Club

A quick invitation to all you Tilda fabric fans out there: my friend Julie of The Intrepid Thread has a monthly Tilda Club subscription box that only opens for enrollment twice a year, and this is one of those times! You can find all the details on her website here, but I wanted to share it with you because A) I love Tilda fabric, and B) I'm designing half of the patterns for her boxes this year. My first project was this sweet little Spool Case in the photo above. It's a simple pattern that lets you have fun with a bit of your fabric right away while still having plenty leftover for other projects. Just the sort of thing I love to make myself...

I have the fabric for next month's project spread out on my cutting table as I type this, but I didn't want to forget to share the news with you since enrollment closes on Thursday. Hop on over to Julie's website to check it out!

Monday, September 2, 2019

That Handmade Touch

It's been a crazy start for school this year thanks to a flock of unwelcome germs that descended on our house just days after we started classes. Bunny was the first to get sick, followed closely by Bear. I thought for sure that we were finished with it all after making it through last week with no new symptoms until Mouse came down with a fever last night...just in time for her birthday next weekend, of course. She's devastated at the thought of missing out on all the fun we've planned, and I'm trying to get her over this as quickly as possible.

The only thing that made her eyes light up was the sight of this bag that I made over the weekend. I've known my friend Svetlana for so many years now, all the way back to when I first started blogging and sewing. She has such a clear sense of her own style; I can look at a project in my Instagram feed and instantly know that it's hers even before I see the name. Her new book That Handmade Touch is so perfectly her from beginning to end, full of useful projects that are beautiful yet simple.

I chose to make the On-the-Go Project Bag, mostly because I can never have enough of this sort of bag in my life. It's a sturdy bag in a great size that will be perfect for carrying all sorts of things. The leather handles are a nice touch, and I love the drawstring opening. I used linen and canvas for both the exterior and lining, and to keep the bag soft yet structured, I used batting, which has become my favorite interfacing these days.

The only changes I made to the pattern were to box the lower corners instead of folding them up and to make the handles just a bit wider. I really like that it includes an inside slip pocket as well for corralling small things, always helpful for someone like me who is constantly digging in the bottom of her purse for that one thing I can't find.

I'll be perfectly honest with you, friends: this bag was going to be mine. I had every intention of using it for travelling sewing projects this year, and I was looking forward to all the adventures we were going to take together, this bag and I. And then I saw Mouse's eyes when she saw me carrying it into the family room. "Are those llamas?" she asked excitedly. And I knew I just couldn't keep this one to myself.

So I've decided that this will be the gift bag for Mouse's birthday present from all of us. My daughter is obsessed with three things these days: llamas, swimming, and Disney's Zorro television show from the 1950's. I used to watch reruns on the Disney channel when I was a kid (Zorro and Davy Crockett were my heroes back then), and I've loved sharing it with my girls. We've managed to watch a few episodes on YouTube and the old Sign of Zorro movie on Amazon, which is really just clips from the first season all put together. Happily, I was able to find a set of dvds from the first and second seasons on Ebay that wouldn't clean out our bank account, and I'll tuck those into this bag so that we can give it to her on Sunday.

I can't wait to see her face.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Birthday Sewing

Birthdays are a big deal in our family. Even though we keep our parties simple and small, the girls are always allowed to choose a theme, and they literally start talking about next year's party before their big day is even finished. My little Mouse is turning 9 next month and decided long ago that she wanted a pool party with a tropical feel. For weeks she's been coming up to me with her big eyes and cheeky grin, asking, "Can we talk about my birthday?" So we spend time looking at pictures on Pinterest and talking about cupcake flavors and pretending that we're planning the party of the year when really it's all a great big excuse to spend time cuddling and chatting together, giving her special one-on-one time with Mommy that we both love so much.

When she told me that she wanted to do little candy favor bags, I decided that these adorable animal prints from Under the Canopy by Citrus & Mint Designs for Riley Blake would be perfect. My girls are especially crazy about sloths right now, but the leopards and birds were also a big hit.

I sewed these drawstring bags together in less than an hour. The striped baker's twine was perfect for the finishing touch. (I buy several spools of it every time I see it in the dollar section at Target since it goes with just about anything!) These bags are just the right size, and I love that the girls can use them after the party for other things.

Speaking of Riley Blake, I want to take a moment to say thank you. I've spent the last few years as a designer for them, and it's been an absolute joy. They've been generous to me in so many ways. Not only did they give me the chance to create three collections, but they've given me fabric to use for so many special projects. They sent me prints to use in both Sew Organized for the Busy Girl and Patchwork USA as well as in the next book that I'm working on right now. When I asked them if they could donate material so that I could make burp cloths for a local pregnancy clinic that I support, they sent me a huge box packed to the brim with soft flannel goodness that allowed me to sew the stack above and still have plenty leftover to give to the clinic for future needs. Working with these staff members and designers has been such a privilege, and I've learned so much through this chance to do something that I honestly never thought I would get to do. So to everyone from the RBD office who has been so kind and helpful to me these past three years, and to all the amazing RBD designer friends who have blessed my heart with love and encouragement -- thank you . . . with all my heart.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

All the Little Things

In less than two weeks already, we'll be starting another school year. How we got here so quickly is beyond me as always. In any case, the textbooks have arrived, the school shopping has been done, and the girls -- and I, if I'm honest -- are all showing the signs of needing to be back on a routine again. In the middle of May with summer stretching out before me, I always make an ambitious to-do list for the months ahead, convinced that I'm going to get so much done. This is all completely hilarious to end-of-July me, who tossed that list aside back in June and is now wringing every last drop of relaxation out of each waking moment before lesson plans and homework take over my desk again. Really though, in spite of all the responsibilities on my plate during the school year, I do get more creative projects done during those busy months than during my vacation, probably because I work it all into my schedule on purpose. But that's for another day. Right now it's still summer for two golden weeks, and I'm happy to play while I can.

Part of that play time has been sewing, thankfully, and this month has been all about making gifts for some dear people in my life. Our vicar and his wife finished up their year-long internship at our church last week, and though they won't be with us when their baby is born in October, I wanted to send them home with a handmade gift. This long pillow is just the sort of thing I would have loved to have on hand when I was feeding my own babies years ago. I used a mix of favorite novelty prints, including the one with the expected birth month to make it more personal. I put October in the middle along with September and November, so I'm hoping that even if the baby comes early or late, we'll be covered!

This linen improv pouch was a gift for a sweet, talented young woman who spent the summer at our church working with our worship team. It was so much fun choosing the prints for this one, and I loved being able to reflect different parts of her personality in the fabrics. Many of these are by Melody Miller from her original Ruby Star lines. I absolutely love how this pouch turned out and was so thrilled that she loved it too.

This weekend I was able to work on a fun project using my Color Book pattern from my new book Patchwork USA. It features the Dorothy's Journey collection by Jill Howarth, which is a darling take on The Wizard of Oz

Jill's illustrations are always so full of heart and whimsy, and when I saw the collection, I immediately thought these prints would be such a perfect match for this project. I gifted the book to the young daughter of a friend. I'm hoping she'll enjoy turning these colorful pages as she grows up.

So it's been a month of making all the little things as a way of celebrating all the important things. And really, I can't think of a better way to finish out the summer than that. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019


The Bandstand Mini Quilt from Patchwork USA

I feel as if I've been missing in action for ages, though it's really only been about a month. We've been summering at our house, which is my golden chance to take a break from the rat race and enjoy some time with my family. The truth is that I don't do it often enough, so when I get started, it's awfully hard to stop.

The Painted Desert

We got everyone in the family finished with school by the end of the first week in June. The second week was consumed with Vacation Bible School at our church, where I got to dance and sing four times each morning in front of 1200 kids -- a guaranteed route to exhaustion by Friday, let me tell you. After a wonderful Father's Day with my parents at home, we (my husband, I, and our girls) took off on our annual summer road trip.

Me and my sweet sis

This year we traveled to California to see my sister and her family, and then back through Arizona to visit my in-laws. It was a wonderful two weeks spent with family and friends, visiting places that my girls could just barely remember from their early years and making new memories for all of us.

These beautiful ladies drove 3 1/2 hours  -- each way! -- to join me in Altadena.

I also had the chance to meet with the loveliest group of people at Quilt 'N' Things in Altadena for a small trunk show and book signing, which was all kinds of fun.

Last week's field trip to the Texas Capitol Building in Austin

Now that we're back home in Texas, the summering hasn't stopped. It's been one day after another of swimming and reading, day trips and movie nights.

Home grown produce -- just one more reason to love summer

The garden is going crazy with tomatoes and squash and watermelons, which all pair beautifully with backyard barbecues and make-your-own pizza dinners. We've enjoyed mini marathons of Gilligan's Island, the Dick Van Dyke Show, and Scarecrow and Mrs. King. And we've reminded ourselves why popcorn and ice cream cones will never go out of style.

In other words, it's been heaven. And I'm not quite ready to give it up just yet...

Monday, June 10, 2019

I'm a Guest on Pat Sloan's American Patchwork & Quilting Podcast Today!

Just a quick note to let you know that I'll be Pat Sloan's first guest on her American Patchwork & Quilting Talk Show Podcast this afternoon at 3pm CST. You can listen in live here or catch the show later this evening on Pat's website here. It will also be available later in the week on the APQ website here. We're going to chat about my new book, Patchwork USA, and some of my other recent projects. I'm so looking forward to chatting with Pat again, and I hope you'll join us!
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