Project Simplify - Day 49

Another one done.  And she is a beauty, for sure.  I think the most "traditional" looking quilt of Project Simplify to date.

A name didn't come very easily though, so we "brainstormed" a bit.  I was trying to get my little helper to go for "Christmas Bows" (because the fabric is Christmasy and the basic block in this quilt is called "Bowtie") but she didn't like it. 

To her, the strongest visual elements in the quilt are the cream circles.  In fact, she was very excited as we were laying out the quilt when she discovered that as the blocks were placed together, secondary circles were formed.  She just got such a kick out of that!

So we ended up calling it "Christmas Shortbread".  'Cause the color of the circles kinda remind us of the color of shortbread cookies.  Love it. 

Shortbread is the only Christmas baking I can do that's a tradition from my mom because my little one was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when she was just two years old and must follow a very strict gluten-free diet.  Shortbread cookies - it just so happens - are wicked awesome melt-in-your-mouth when made with rice flour.

Next week ... the very last chapter!


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 10

Classic Blue & White.

#3 - Basket

I love love love how this block turned out, even though the handle ended up a little crooked ... grrr ... (but I'm not redoing it!).

Now, you can either laugh at me for feel sorry for me.  I laugh at myself all the time.  But this is how I think ...

The gingham square in the middle of the basket is SUPPOSED to be white.  But I couldn't do that because to me it makes the basket look like it has a great big hole ... and then whatever you put IN the basket will just FALL OUT and get lost or broken. 

That totally stresses me out. 

Is that weird?  Does your brain work like that too? Or should I be seeking professional help?

#83 - Spider Web

I wanna meet the spider who lives here.  I bet she's really nice.  And pretty.  And I bet she'd invite me over for tea.  And she'd set out her best china cups.  And have pretty embroidered napkins and cupcakes with frosting.  And cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off.  And little sterling silver engraved family heirloom teaspoons that she freshly polished just for my visit. 

Wait, no.

I think the spider who lives here makes sure the silver is ALWAYS polished, just in case. 

She's very tidy and organized. 

Like Martha Stewart.


Too far gone for therapy?


Project Simplify - Day 48

Alright.   Top-stitching.  What's it gonna be?  Well, I can't copy the book this time 'cause Camille had her quilt professionally long-armed.  Not an option here for Project Simplify.

My first instinct was to do you know what (shhh, cross-hatch).  But that seemed the easy way out.  And plus I already did that for Moonlight.  And what I reeeeeally wanted to do was another try at flowers.  But somehow, flowers just doesn't seem to suit this quilt - not sure why ...

Anyhow, this is what I came up with.  Remember this quilt that had 3 different FMQ designs?

Well, it inspired me to do something similar for this quilt.

So I cross-hatched the middle - which looks totally awesome.

Now.  About that inner border.  It didn't go quite exactly as I'd planned in my head.  I didn't want to copy the same loop that I'd done before, so I thought of doing something like this:

But it started out like this ...

... so I went with it ... for a while.  But then it started morphing into this ...

... and THEN I got what I had planned!  (sort of)

The perfectionist in me is totally annoyed that it's not ... perfect .. or at the very least, consistent.  But the realist, humorist, glass-half-full girl in me (oh, and also the mom who's daughter is SO OVER the stitch ripper - bummer) is totally fine with it.

I finished the outer border with my now confident swirly twirly.

I guess you could say - at this point anyway - that "my FMQing is like a box of chocolates ... you never know what you're going to get!" ;)


Project Simplify - Day 47

Have you ever left a quilt taped & layered in the middle of the dining room floor - waiting to be pinned - for so long that your family (and by "family", I mean "husband") starts referring to it as "the carpet you're not allowed to walk on"?

No?  That doesn't happen to you? 

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


Project Simplify - Day 46

My helper in action.

She's awesome. 

And can I just say how much I enjoy her company in my little sewing room? 

We end up having the best chats ever. ;)


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along - Week 9

Pink & Blue.  Makes me think of babies ... baby showers, baby powder, teensie weensie finger & toes ...  (Oh how I miss that new baby smell - the fuzzy top-of-the-head end, not the other end!)

#71 Puss in the Corner

Oops, I already made this one a few weeks ago.  Oh well, I'll keep both for now and see which one makes the cut.  I like options. ;)

#92 - Streak of Lightning

Another reject this week.  I don't like how the gingham looks all wonky & blurry & crooked when it touches itself.  Makes my eyes water.   And plus it gives me vertigo.  (kidding)

Much better. :)


Project Simplify - Day 45

Oh I had such excellent help - as always.  She clipped all the triangle allowances for me.

And there was only one oopsies. ;)

No worries, I had more fabric!


Project Simplify - Day 44

There is something so exciting to me about a whole bunch (I was going to say schwack ...) of cuts, just waiting to be sewn back together into something pretty.

Look at all these happy little soldier, just waiting for their marching orders ... straight to my sewing machine!

Ten HUT!  ONE, two, three, four.  ONE, two, three, four ...


Project Simplify - Day 43

Second last quilt.  Yikes, can you believe it?  I'm having so much fun I really don't want this project to end.  I wish there was a Simplfy:  Volume II book ...

And for all of you lovelies who asked what I'll do next (and for the few of you who informed me I have a social obligation to continue with my little monkey & organ-grinder side show here in blogland!), I really don't know yet.  I've been thinking about that a lot, but haven't come up with anything that really floats my boat, if you know what I mean.  I'm open to suggestions, though.

Kay.  "All in the Family".  I love this quilt.  I think mostly because Camille talks about her family's quilting heritage, which I sort of envy, since I have no quilting ancestors at all.  But I love that kind of stuff ... the passing on of skill and traditions and passions to the next generation.

So what fabric am I going to use?  Well, I tried really hard to use all of Roman Holiday for Spot On, but that didn't happen. ;) 

Let's try again, shall we?

I think I'm so determined to use Roman Holiday because a few years ago I made a quilt (I'll tell you about it another time, promise) and this was supposed to be the backing. 

That is until I was accidentally looking on eBay and found something I liked better for that quilt ...

(You can't honestly be surprised it's pink, can you?!)

Anyhow, I've had this huge backing all folded up waiting to be used.  It's time.


PS:  Anyone else still "La la la la-ing" along with Bert & Ernie?  My girls hit replay all afternoon yesterday ...


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 8

Red & Yellow.

#5 - Bat Wing

Hmmm.  I think this block might be a bit too red for me.  I'm trying to use red only as an accent here and there.  In my mind's eye, I see this quilt finished with white sashing and red posts.  But I'll wait until I have several more blocks to see if this one will work.

#55 - Linoleum

I have ALWAYS loved saying that word.  Linoleum. 



I dare you to stay in a bad mood after saying it 5 times in a row ... but you have to say it in your worst foreign accent like Eliza Dooilittle or Jimmi Hendrix or Crocodile Dundee ... Bela Lugosi works particularly well.  And you have to do it in front of someone else. 

No, seriously!

They'll either think you've gone banana-nuts-crazy and start backing away slowly while looking for the nearest exit OR pee their pants laughing at you. 

Either way, their reaction will prob'ly make you laugh. 

Sigh.  I shoulda been a therapist ...  ;)


Project Simplify - Day 42

Here's our version of Happy-Go-Lucky.  We're calling it "Rolling Stones".  My helper has no clue who They are, nor does she know anything about not gathering moss.  But when I suggested the name she clapped her hands, pointed at me and shouted "Bingo!"  (I suspect she was simply tired of the whole naming exercise and just wanted to be done with it already ... apparently, our definitions of "fun" differ greatly.  Sigh.)

I've chosen an organization to give this quilt to for a fundraising event.  My brother-in-law is the music director for Orchestra Iowa and they have an annual Silent Auction fundraiser in November.  I'm very excited to contribute both the quilt & the pillow to help the arts.

My older daughter plays piano and the younger plays violin.  (Maybe it'd be more accurate at this stage to say they're taking lessons ... ;)

I took piano lessons growing up and feel strongly that learning music has far-reaching benefits.  I'm very lucky that I can offer the same opportunity to my girls.  Although I do have my days when I swear I'm gonna go all "Van Gogh" if I have to listen to "Twinkle Twinkle" one.more.time. ...!  kidding ;)

Now this quilt comes with a monogram option.  I love it and really wanted to include it.  But considering I'm donating this quilt and don't know the recipient I thought it best to leave it out.  It is a super cute thing to add, though.  I love personal touches like that.

Oh I almost forgot.  At one point during my 4-day marathon Stones FMQing, I was in my husband's office and noticed this:

Nearly peed my pants laughing! 


Alright.  Where are we in the Stash Redux department?

  • Yardage - 8.6 yds / 7.9 m
  • Weight - 2.1 lbs / .9 kg

For a grand total of:

  • Yardage - 59 yds / 54 m
  • Weight - 21.1 lbs / 9.8 kg


Only two more quilts left!


Project Simplify - Day 41

I have a confession to make 'cause I'm feeling a little guilty about this quilt.  I sort of cheated and ... well ... I didn't add the outer border.

But can I defend myself before you bring out the pitchforks & torches?


Defense #1:  This project is getting a wee bit on the expensive side - especially for batting.  And I had a piece of batting that was big enough for this quilt ... without the border.

Defense #2:  I only had two (ok ok, three) prints that would look good and I'm just not ready to part with them yet.  They are my all time favorite Japanese prints.  (I know that's so lame, but I just couldn't do it!)

I'm really sorry.

But I will argue that if you never saw the original quilt, you'd never know it was missing a border.  And plus, I think excluding a border can be a solution for other problems too.  So maybe if you're a quilter that fears deviating from a pattern, I've now given you permission to alter any design to suit you, no matter the reason.

So at the end of the day, I really love how this quilt looks - even without a border.

Am I forgiven? ;)


Project Simplify - Day 40

Also known as "the day she went and lost her mind ..."

Did you watch the video tutorial on how to do this FMQ design?  It does caution that it takes a long time to do and that it's best to just use it for small areas.  But I seem to have a little defiant streak in me that surfaces every once in a while when I'm not looking.  (Shhh, please don't tell my 8 year old - my credibility with her is hanging by a thread as it is!)  I thought if I made the Stones bigger, it'd go faster.

Yeah, TWELVE hours later ...

I think it's safe to say I have successfully nailed this design - as in slam dunk, wipe the floor and "you can kiss my grits" NAILED it!!!  (I don't usually talk smack, but you guys I'm feelin' so victorious!)

After 12 hours I should be able to do it in my sleep ... in fact I was.  I FMQed this quilt over a 4-day period.  One evening I was working on it for a few hours just before I went to bed ... my brain was making stone after stone after please-make-it-stop stone for a loooong time after I closed my eyes.

I straight-lined the inner border.  Wowzers, eh?. 

[singing]  "It's by blog and I will brag if I want to,

brag if I want,

brag if I want to ...

You would brag too if this happened to you!"  :)


And I only used two large pieces of fabric for the backing.

Oh sweet irony that I'm good at rocks.  How come I can't be totally awesome with flowers too?  This blog is called PRETTY by Hand, not ROCKS or CAVEMAN TOOLS or BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA WEAPON by Hand ...


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 7

Pink, Blue & Green

No special celebrations this week.  Just summer garden colors!

#71 - Puss in the Corner

I fussy cut the flowers in the middle, remembering that the finished block will be set on point.

#8 - Bouquet

Ok, I had a little trouble with this one.  The first time I made it my leaf and flower pieces were flipped around. 

It doesn't LOOK wrong, unless you compare it with the second one I made ...

I know, I know ... I COULD have just kept it ... and I WOULD have, but the seam allowance was all messed up. 

This is better. :)


Project Simplify - Day 39

My little helper was terrific sorting the block & middle fabrics for me.

She followed my rule about not using the same prints.  I also showed her that there were two main colors here:  browns & grays.  I showed her how it's nice to have a mix of brown/brown blocks, gray/gray blocks and brown/gray blocks. 

This is what happens when I'm not paying attention.

Aah, that's better! ;)

Some days I just need to do assembly line stuff.

Now all I need is a hot cup of Irish Breakfast tea (cream & sugar), iTunes and a few hours.  Hmmm, will it be the '80s (can't believe the kids are calling "Duran Duran" RETRO), '90s (I do love me some Depeche Mode) or Lady Gaga?


It's What I Do - Reveal

Remember these from a few weeks ago?

I promised to show you what I made.  So here they are - three happy little monogrammed drawstring bags for three happy little 7 & 8 year old girls.


And back

I was thinking they'd be used in their bedrooms for things like stuffies, or pjs, or even dirty laundry.  But the very next day the girls had a soccer tournament together. 

Check this out!

My heart smiles when someTHING I make makes someONE happy.  :)


Project Simplify - Day 38

Oooh, I'm very excited about this palette.


I know.  It's a head-scratcher to me as well why I love these muddy, earthy, nature-inspired Japanese prints.  They're such a departure from my shabby chic, girly, pink, soft, pastel esthetic.  But I do love 'em.

I have a funny story for you about one of these fabrics.

I made Happy Hauntings by the lovely Verna Mosquera a few years ago in a lovely selection of Japanese fabrics.  This print was used for the skeleton:

Ever since then, I can't look at this print without thinking of bone marrow. 

I mean, come ON!  Doesn't this look like the holes in the middle of a bone?!

I've tried to use this fabric in a few projects, but I just keep seeing bone!  Has that ever happened to you - somehow getting a weird association with a print and then you can't NOT think about it?

But for this quilt, the little corner pieces are so small that the "marrow effect" won't be seen ... I hope! ;)


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 6

Today is Independence Day - America's birthday.  Considering the USA is my neighbor, I made red, white & blue blocks for this week.  To commemorate Old Glory, one block is a star (brought to you by Queen of the Obvious) and the other is ... sorta stripey?  I tried.  ;)

#9 - Box

This block makes me think of fireworks.  Funny, in Canada, only "professional" pyrotechnicians are allowed to handle fireworks.

#31 - Evening Star

When it comes to pieced star blocks, I think this one is my all-time favorite.  Not sure why.  It just is.

To all my American friends, Happy Independence Day!


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 5

I waited to post this week's FWQAL blocks because today is Canada Day!  In honor of my country's birthday, I made red & white blocks. 

#56 - Maple Leaf

An obvious choice, eh?  ;)

#6 - Big Dipper

And the Big Dipper is arguably the easiest constellation to find here in the northern hemisphere ... that and Orion's Belt.

I've found it countless times overhead.  In fact, whenever I'm outside at night (and I'm not running to avoid frost bite in the dead of winter), I always take a second to find it ... just to make sure it's still there.  

I've never seen the Southern Cross, but I'd love to ... some day!

Happy Canada Day!


Project Simplify - Day 37

Happy-Go-Lucky is the name of this Chapter's quilt.  Camille writes that the name was inspired by her mood when she was making it.  Wonder if it will have the same effect on me. :)

Remember this "bruise" experiment from one of my Quilt Market bags?

Well, it inspired the fabric selection for this quilt (and the last pillow).

Even though I didn't like how they worked in the bag design, they were awesome in the pillow and I think they'll work great for this quilt.  I just need to add a really light print for the little corners, pull out the lightest ones because they'll blend too much with the light corners and choose one really dark print for the inner border.

These fabrics hit my radar about six years ago when the quilt shop where I worked got their first shipment of Lecien fabrics.  They were very different from anything else at the time.  Many of these very fabrics are from that first batch and I've been hoarding them ... waiting.  I've made several quilts for the shop with these fabrics, but nothing really for myself.