Same As Last Year, But Different

I borrowed the pattern for big sister's lunch bag from someone a long time ago and have since memorized the pattern from making it several times.  I'm sorry I can't name the designer or pattern.  If you know who it is, PLEASE tell me so I can give them proper credit.  This pattern really is a nifty use for charm squares.

I made this same bag for my daughter last year and she loved it so much she insisted I make it again to match her messenger bag. 

I had so few gray "Ruby" scraps left that she had to pick another color to go with.  She went for the pinks.  (I had NOTHING to do with her choice, by the way.)

And all you Tupperware lovers, yes, that IS a gray lid from the "Miami Vice" pastel color set I bought in the '80s ... tee hee ... I NEVER in a million years thought I'd be so happy to have that gray lid!!

The placemat made with 2 leftovers from the strips cut for the bag ...

She and I both LOVE this super yummy Susan Branch print from ... 2007. 

It WOULD be in a forbidden pile if it weren't for the fact that I have like 10 metres (yds) of the stuff.  Can you say "impulse buy"?  I think I was fantasizing about kitchen curtains or something ...

She wanted it for both the inside of the bag,

and the reverse side of the placemat.

Ok.  I'm done with the back to school sewing projects ... for another year ... I think.


The Girl's Gotta Eat!

Well, I didn't quite get all the back-to-school sewing done before the first day ... but I had a productive weekend.

Here's Little Miss Grade 3er's new lunch bag.  Again, no pattern.  I've had this design in my head for a while.  It was nice to finally get it out. :)

We're both really happy with how it turned out. :)

She picked the same fabric as her pencil case, 'cept in pink

(brought to you by Queen of the Obvious ...)

I didn't know if 2 Fat Quarters were enough to make this lunch bag so I asked her to pick another fabric for the lining, just in case.

She went for this little cutie.

This fabric WAS in (another) forbidden pile ... there are several in my stash.  Turns out I didn't need it for the bag, but I did need something for her placemat and thought what could POSSIBLY be a better use of this sweet print than for a little girl's placemat? 

Uh, nothing?!

I designed the bag to fit her lunch containers:  thermos, tupperware & space for granola bar, etc.


Now.  The question is, how long is it going to stay white?  Oh well, at least there are these pictures to remember it fondly. ;)


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 15

Green, Yellow & White

I was going through my blocks and realized I'm a little shy on yellow, prob'ly because I've never been a huge fan of that color.  Not sure why.  Maybe it's because I don't look good in yellow.  I don't think I have a speck of it in my wardrobe and I don't have anything decor-wise that's yellow, except for a few quilts that happen to have a little bit in them. 

Plus it reminds me of things like jaundice.

When I'm sewing, I tend to use yellow for literal applications.  Like when I make a quilt with a house in the design, I want it to look like someone's home, so I'll use yellow to make it look like the lights are on ...  

Hmmm, maybe I SHOULD wear more yellow!  tee hee

#41 - Friendship Star

Ok, WHOA!  The yellow seems a bit TOO yellow here.  (Although my amateur photoshopping may have something to do with the exaggerated flouresence here.)

I'm hoping it'll look ok when mixed in with all the other blocks.

#50 - Honey's Choice

This turned out to be such a sweet little block!  I love the little pinwheels.

I'm just wondering if maybe I shoulda used a color for the middle square - like red or pink ...


Dear Thy Beloveide ...

No, this isn't an impromptu lesson in Ye Olde English.My daughters were playing "Wedding" with their stuffed animals the other day. 

Here's the script they wrote out.

This kind of stuff has got to be (one of) my all time favorite things about being a mom. 

They crack me UP!

Happy & safe Labour Day long weekend.


Pretty Pencil Case

Today is the first day of school for us and I'm happy knowing both my girls will have a little something made with love from me in their desks ...

You see, fairsies math rules in my house.  So just because I bought little sister's backpack doesn't mean I can't make her a pretty pencil case too.

Lecien's Flower Sugar fabric.  I know.  You're totally shocked. ;)  She picked them.  She wanted polka dots to go with her backpack.   She was sooooo happy when I told her she could have it because it was in the "forbidden" pile with my FWQAL fabrics.

FYI, the polka dot/floral/stripe is one print ... no piecing required!  I love using unusual stripes like this.  Can you say "cheater panel" at its finest? :)

I LOVE this print.  However, I can't use it for my FWQAL blocks because the print is too big. 

But it's absolutely PERFECT for a sweet little Grade 3er's pencil case!

Did you notice my boo boo with the lining?  When I was cutting out a piece of batting, somehow the lining got stuck to the batting underneath and I didn't notice it until it was too late.  So I had to piece it ...

I still have a few more back to school projects to show you next week.


Scrap Pencil Case

Ok.  First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the Messenger Bag love yesterday!  Wow.  You guys made me blush & tear up ... all at the same time.  A girl could get used to that kind of affirmation!  I'll try to not let it go to my head. ;) 

And I've heard the hue & cry for a pattern/tutorial.  Gee whiz!  I'm totally blown away.  This feels so nice to have people not only like what I made, but want to make one too.  I think I should wait and let my daughter "test drive" the bag for a bit ... see if any fatal design flaws show up.  I'll keep you posted.

Now I'm afraid that Messenger Bag is a hard act to follow.  Today's project isn't quite a spectacular, but I think just as cute. ;)

               *          *          *          *          *          *          *

I'm always surprised by what can be done with scraps. 

Explains why my scrap bin is overflowing ...

Here's what I managed to eke out from the Messenger Bag leftovers.

A coordinating pencil case!

Cute, eh?  She said she wanted to sleep with it. ;)  I think that means she likes it.

Even the zipper pull is a fabric scrap ... 3/8" x 6".  Little fingers really appreciate them.  FYI, 1/4" is just a bit too narrow.  It will rip apart.  Just sayin'.

I'll show you little sister's pencil case tomorrow.


PS:  Thank you :)


Back to School Messenger Bag

Here it is ... the messenger bag.

Happily I didn't have to resort to implicating an imaginary dog ...  ;). 

What do you think?

My daughter loves it.  I'm sorta impressed with it myself.

One fabric change and few additions were required since my last post. 

First, I talked her into going with the polka dot instead of the red tonal - I thought the dots would look just a bit softer.  Plus, dots are happy ... and little sister's backpack has them.  I like doing things like that. 

I needed more fabrics because the pocket on the back was an afterthought and I made the flap bigger than originally planned (better too big than too small) so we added the pretty scallop and flowers to the mix. 

She resisted the flowers a bit because she was trying so hard to achieve her idea of grown-up, but it was the last gray print in the bundle and she reeeeeeeally wanted to stick with the one color.  She's quite happy with it on the inside. ;)

And I forgot to show you the fabrics she chose for the inside lining ...


When I started making all the different components of the bag, I asked her how she wanted me to top-stitch each piece.  She asked what her choices were. 

"Well, my dear child.  That is an EXCELLENT question.  Let me show you what your mama can do NOW!"

One problem:  we both became crippled with indecision.  Who knew an FMQ repertoire could cause a problem?  haha

So, she went with a few different ones ...


Back (with a little heart in the top right corner ... because I love her.)

A small monogram for the flap embellishment was all she wanted with the FMQ flowers.  And for the first time ever I tried my hand a raw-edge applique.  Turned out great!  Thank you Miss Amy for the inspiration ;)

I added a large pocket to the back and a handle for hanging on a hook.

I installed an easy-to-use zipper on the inside ... TWICE.  (Yep ... I knew y'all were waiting for my screw-up confessional.)  The first time it went in upside down.  It was late and I was tired so I didn't take a picture of it.  But here's the evidence. 

Second time ...

She INSISTED on a red zipper ... to go with all the little red accents on the bag.  She's so cute. 

I used two different fabrics for the zipper to "make do".  They are the leftovers from the front and back panels.  A little scrappy ... but not TOO scrappy.

And check out the shoulder pad!  Thanks for the suggestion, Kate. 

I made the entire bag with 10 fat quarters - no yardage - and only scraps for leftovers ...

Check back tomorrow to see what I did with them.


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 14

Pink & Green

I remember when I was growing up my aunt told me a "rule" about fashion in the '70s - "pink with green should never be seen" - meaning these two colors didn't go together.

Whoever made that up was a very, VERY bad person.  I think this color combination is not only perfect, it's essential to life as we know it. 

#61 - Northern Lights

#58 Mother's Dream

Turns out third time really IS the charm for this block. 

Attempt #1 was 1/4" too small. 

I'm making my blocks 5" instead of 6-1/2" ... ;) 

Attempt #2 was 1/8" too small. 

I do like things perfect and all, but I don't normally go to this much trouble to MAKE things perfect.  The older I get, the easier it is to say "oh well".

#3 - juuuuuuuuuuust right. ;) 

Apparently late night sewing isn't always the smartest use of one's time ...


Back To School Prep

Five years ago when my oldest daughter started Kindergarten, I made her a backpack for school.  (Sorry, no picture ... it was salvaged for parts a few years ago.)  It was the prettiest backpack ever.  I vowed to myself that my girls were going to have brand new handmade backpacks every September for the rest of their lives. ;) 

So far, I've kept that promise.  But I'm about to break it.

I had a weird moment of weakness this summer when we were shopping for school clothes and I saw this ...

I thought it was perfect for my little one! 

I dunno.  Something about the pink & happy polka dots.  And the navy.  I couldn't even believe the words coming out of my mouth as I asked her if she'd like it for school.  She said yes.  I wasn't sure how I felt about that.

So right now I'm sorta sad that I broke my informal promise to make two new backpacks every year (until they flat out refuse to take ANYTHING homemade to school because "that is SO NOT COOL ... no one ELSE does, MOM!")  (Ouch! Stick a knife in my heart already!)  But I'm also sorta relieved that I only have to make one this year.

So.  My Grade 5er decided she needs something more sophisticated this year ... because she's not a little kid anymore - she's TEN.  So she's requested a messenger bag. 

Ok.  I can do that.

I also gave her freedom to pick anything (well, ALMOST anything) from my stash.  She went straight for these ...

The grays from Bonnie & Camille's new "Ruby" line.  She thinks this is a very grown up color.  I agree.

(I know!  She isn't a pink girl like her mom.  I'm slowly coming to terms with that ... although sometimes I wonder if she was accidentally switched in the hospital.)

I don't have any yardage - just these FQs.  So it will look sorta patchy.  But not TOO patchy (so I've been directed).

She also wants just a little bit of decoration on the flap.  We're thinking about either applique or embroidery in red.  Perhaps a monogram.  Or a heart.  Or flowers.  Or a combination.  Or something else we haven't thought of yet.  I'm workin' without a net here ... or a pattern. 

I've actually never made a messenger bag before.  This is my rough sketch which has been approved by my client.

I can hardly wait to get sewing.  I hope it turns out!  I'll show it to you when it's done ... if it looks good.  If not, then I'll lie and tell you the dog ate it. 

'Cept we don't have a dog ...


Project Simplify - Day 57

Thank you SO MUCH for all the FMQ love yesterday!  Still on cloud nine over here. :)

          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

Oh how I love scrappy binding. 

I had the forethought to reserve one strip from each cream print in the bundle.

Graying hair doesn't ALWAYS win ... ;)


Project Simplify - Day 56

I DID IT!!!!!!!  I really did!  I officially declare myself an FMQer.  For real!  Oh I'm SO HAPPY ABOUT THIS!!!!!   My cross-hatch handcuffs are gone forever.

Let me show you my flowers.

Here are some of my hits,

and my personal favorite,


And some misses, of course.  Must show the misses ...

How cruel is it that the high contrast fabrics make a slightly bad flower looks colossally hideous?  Chalk it up to Murphy's Law, I guess!

(Oh, and I don't even want to KNOW what you gutter-minded peeps from yesterday see in this picture below ... )  tee hee

But by the end there were hardly any misses at all!  Oh, except for this ... grrr ...

Never mind.  Nothing is going to spoil my mood. 

I think all that practice with Stones really helped me improve my control.  Although I think Stones is actually harder than Flowers!  Go figure. :)

I sure have come a long way from this back in March (geez, five months ago!).  I remember how embarrassed I was to show you this ...

And how hilarious I thought this was in June ...

When I remember all the fear, practicing, trials & errors and a few (ok, maybe several) bad words that went into reaching my goal of learning FMQing, I'm kinda sorta proud of myself.  Oh, who am I kidding.  False modesty can be so unattractive.  I'M AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hahaha!

I'm starting to wonder why I took a few decades to get here.  But I made it!  And it feels SOOOOOO GOOOOOOOD!!


I'm so hap, hap, happy!!!  I just want to hug everyone.   So if you're reading this, consider yourself virtually hugged! :)

Seriously.  I think forcing myself to do this in front of an "audience" made all the difference.  I shamed myself into not quitting - which I'm SURE I would have done ... again ... if I hadn't commited to this publicly.

So thanks.



Yay me! :)


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 13

Pink, Green & Yellow

#48 - Homeward Bound

I know, I know, the gingham is touching itself again.  It bugs me a little bit here, but not as much as this block.  I'll keep this around as a reminder to not do it again ;).

#4 - Basket Weave

I was very deliberate about my fabric placement for this block.  Depending on how many fabrics are used and where they are positioned, sometimes I can see a ... well ... a notorious WWII symbol.  Once I see it, I can't NOT see it.  So I didn't follow the layout as in the book.

I think this layout has a more pinwheel-y, windmill-y look.  Pinwheels & windmills are friendly, right?  I mean, how can you not like them?  (Don Quixote doesn't count.  He's banana-nuts-crazy.  Oh, and plus he isn't real.) 


How to FMQ Flowers

Want to know how to do this to your quilts?

I used a pencil on paper because it's easier to photograph.  But the motion is the same with a sewing machine.

and so on, and so on, and so on.

Hope this helps!


Project Simplify - Day 55


Do you ever avoid doing something because you'd prefer to live with the fantasy that you COULD do it, rather than ruin that possibility by trying and failing? 

I do. 

A lot. 

In my mind I'm super awesome at a lot of things I've never tried.

So I'm a little nervous here.  This is my last chance to FMQ with Project Simplify and I so badly want to conquer Flowers like I conquered Stones

My last attempt wasn't very good.

But I've been practicing a bit more and got some advice from Camille on technique.

A little funny, my daughter's friend was wearing this dress the other day. 

Here goes ... !


The Cost of Vanity ...

is measured in fabric? 

          *          *          *          *          *          *          *           *

Have you ever gone on an extended vacation for oh, I dunno, let's just throw a number out there ... say, 43 days ... for example.  But you forgot to pack this seemingly insignificant little device that lives quietly in your medicine cabinet in the bathroom.

After about a week, you realize this beauty accessory was left behind and the internal argument begins.  See, you've bought cheap tweezers in the past and over the years you've established a general policy, that for such things, either invest in the good stuff or don't bother. 

But good tweezers are about $10.  And you go through life comparing the price of just about every non-essential purchase to the cost of fabric - in this case, 3 or 4 fat quarters.  You reason that you already have a perfectly good pair at home.  Why buy another pair and be stuck with two?  Because graying hair aside, there is NO WAY you're EVER going to forget to pack them again.  What a waste of ... fabric, right? 

So I pose the question to all you hard core fabric lovers:  would YOU be prepared to spend most of your vacation looking like the love child of hers

and his

for the sake of fabric?

Now I'm not admitting anything here, but let's just say my husband values personality over looks.  ;)


Project Simplify - Day 5

What would a Project Simplify quilt be without a little ooopsies, hmmm?  I feel I have a reputation to uphold now.  ;)

The top row here isn't lined up properly.  (Does this picture make anyone else think of Tetris?)

Please note, this will NOT happen to you if you follow the directions in the book.   This happened to me because I only cut full blocks (no partials) 'cause I didn't know how many I'd need. 

No biggie.  It usually only takes one screw up to remind me to be more careful.  USUALLY, just one ... but not ALWAYS ... my graying hair isn't just for show ... it's Mother Nature's way of warning all innocent by-standers that my faculties just aren't what they used to be!  (Guess I should apologize for messin' with all you unsuspecting victims by using hair color, eh?)

At least I caught this one before I finished the entire seam.

I could have avoided this problem by cutting off all the long bits along the quilt sides AFTER I laid out the quilt but BEFORE I sewed the rows together ... 

... but I didn't have that stroke of genius until just now.  (Sigh)  Might as well blame my hair for that too.


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 12


#30 - End of Day

This block feels a little heavy to me.  I think I might change out one of the corner triangles to white.   I'll see what it looks like with more blocks ...

#81 - Snowball

Kermit the Frog said it wasn't easy being green.

Yeah, he's right.  But it's totally easy being pink!  ;)


Project Simplify - Day 53

Three rows down,


lots more to go ...  (sigh).

Sometimes it's just better to focus on what you've got done ... not what you have left to do ...  ;)


Project Simplify - Day 52

Has this ever happened to you where you lay out all the blocks for the quilt, think you're done and then find a few more blocks that you accidentally laid down nearby - and promptly forgot about - and then you have spend like another 20 minutes re-jigging your layout?  You know, because you have all these weird rules about the same color and the same print not being allowed to touch each other?

No?  That doesn't happen to you?

Yeah, me either ... I was just wondering ... ;)


Project Simplify - Day 51

I have this thing (yes, another quilting foible) where I like directional prints to be going the same way (usually, not always ... I'm getting better about this).

See what I mean?  This kinda drives me a little nuts.  It just looks ... wrong.

Ahhh, this is soooo much better!

Mixed up directions used to ALWAYS bother me (please note that they only seem to bother me on MY OWN quilts.  For some reason, they don't have the same effect on me if I didn't make the quilt - go figure).  

But when my love affair with Japanese quilt books & magazines started, I noticed that Japanese quilters didn't seem to pay attention at all to that sort if thing.  They are interested letting direction just happen naturally (randomly) to create movement & tension and visual interest.  They don't seem to get all uptight about the "matchy matchy poo poo" stuff!

So now I try to not let it bother me as much.  There were a few stripes in the last quilt and I deliberately ignored them and let the laws of randomness rule.

But for this quilt, I kinda want everything to line up.  So I'm gonna make them.  Because I can. ;)

Do you care about print direction in your quilts?