A Handmade Gift

Monday, December 26, 2011

First, there will be no Tuesday Tips today. 
I didn't have the heart to ask anyone to even think about guest posting during this busy time.  But please join us next week for a fabulous Tuesday Tips guest post by the amazing and talented...
Oh you'll just have to come back.  It's gonna be so great! 

Anyways, do you often feel bogged down during the holidays?
I know I do.  There's always a million things to do.  With neighbor gifts, teacher gifts, friend gifts, family gifts, decorating, card sending, baking...well, it can get a little overwhelming at times.  This year, I set a goal to be finished Christmas shopping by December 1st.  We did go past our deadline a little, but having that goal definitely helped us be more prepared this year.  It gave me the extra time I needed to do the card and gift sending, the cookie delivering and the enjoying-the-Christmas-season-feeling that I so desired.  It even gave me time 2 days before Christmas to have an impromptu sewing session that resulted in my one handmade {family} gift.

I used scraps from my stash to make a little doll quilt for my daughter.  I couldn't resist these 30's prints that I recently acquired.

I cut one hundred 2-1/2" squares. 

I had to dig deep into my stash since I don't have a lot of 30's fabrics.  The red gingham back and green polka dot binding aren't 30's, but I felt they still kept the integrity of the quilt.

These two red fabrics featured above are ones that I collected from my grandmother {Gigi} so they add some sentimental value to this little gift.

I got all of the piecing done while my husband and daughter were out on a daddy/daughter date Friday afternoon.  I got the binding hand-stitched on that evening.  And  I got the very simple quilting done on Saturday {Christmas Eve}.  I finally got to take advantage of this Tiger Tape that I purchased many years ago.  The big stitch style and minimal lines that I actually quilted made it possible to get done in an hour or two.  I would have liked to have quilted it more, but seeing that it was Christmas Eve I knew I had to be realistic with my time.  Also, I sort of thought it would take over if I quilted ever row in both directions.  What do you think?  Should I go back and quilt some more lines?

A 20" x 20" quilt for little Izzy {the newest member of our family}.

So, did you do a handmade Christmas?
Either way, I hope you had a wonderful day filled with family and friends.

~ Amber

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tuesday Tips {Gigi's Thimble}

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hello and welcome to another installment of
Tuesday Tips!

I'd like to invite you into my studio today...
You've seen bits and pieces here and there.  But today I will show it to you in it's entirety.  I really wanted to do a walk through video with you, but this will have to do :)  I hope you'll enjoy the pictures!

This little shelf is a place to display things I love; wooden spools (in the apothecary jar) that belonged to my husband's grandmother, a little collection of antique irons, and some fabric.  The magnetic board was a gift from my sister and is great for keeping notes and keepsakes on.

What quilter doesn't love color? 
My Moda Bella Solids color chart is a great reference and fun to look at.
The damask boxes add a pretty visual, while storing specialty threads that I don't use very often.  It also doesn't hurt to display fabric that you love in a sewing room.  The fat quarter bundles inspire me and remind me about future projects I want to do.  Below the shelf, I have two curtain rods.  I found them at Ross for $3.99 each!  Yay!  I wanted Freezer Paper at an arms length since I use it so much for applique.  And polka dot wrapping paper is another necessity (perfect for every occasion!)

The newest addition to my studio makeover is my peg board.  I love having my rulers accessible, yet out of the way.  Before, they were precariously piled on a shelf in my closet just waiting to fall off  (which can lead to breakage). 

I also hung a few patterns on my peg board that are either too big to fit in my pattern binder or that I just think are pretty.  A red and white quilt is on my quilting bucket list and I think Petit Fleurs by Fig Tree is just the one I want to make.

I keep all of my small scraps (1/8 yard or smaller) in these jars. I have 6 jars (three on this dresser and three on the floor next to the dresser).  I divide the scraps into different colors groups.  For example, the large jar in the back left holds red and pink scraps.  The other large jar holds blue, green and purple scraps.  The small jar holds oranges and yellows.  I also have a jar for light colored neutrals, a jar for grays and blacks, and a jar for browns.

I keep my threads near my sewing machine (right behind it, actually).  I like having them in this little cupboard that I bought for about $4.  They're kind of hidden behind the doors, but not entirely.  I can easily see what colors I have or do not have.

This large, double-wide dresser allows for everything to have a specific place.  The small drawers at the top hold my gadgets, pens, lint roller (gotta have one!) my scissors and rotary blades and my embroidery floss.  All the other drawers hold my fabric and a few random projects.  I like that it's all hidden away, but easily accessible.  I keep every thing folded in color order and it makes me want to keep it that way :)  You can see more pictures and details of this dresser (and what's inside) HERE.

You may wonder why I'm showing you a picture of a trash can...
Well, I often find that I'm walking across the room to dump scraps and clippings into my trash can.  Now, I have two trash cans.  One right by my machine (because I'm always clipping dog ears and threads there).  Another (bigger) one is at the other end of my cutting table so I can discard of unusable scraps after cutting.  With two trash cans around, I have no reason to not have a clean and clear cutting area.

The tutorial for it is one I got from Heather at the blog, {House} of A La Mode.  I actually have two but I only keep one in my sewing room.  The other one is in our basement.  The reason I have two is because when I take photographs of my quilts for my pattern covers I like to lean the two design walls against my house (I always take the photographs outside).  Then I stick my quilts on them (they just stick right up because the design walls are wrapped in batting).  Then I smooth out any wrinkles and make them nice and straight. The design walls are only 4 ft. wide and my quilts are often times wider than that.  I like the walls though because they are big, lightweight and portable.

My sewing room, is actually an extra bedroom in our house, so I'm lucky to have a walk-in closet with a few built-ins.  In here is where I keep some of my quilts, patterns and a big Rubbermaid box full of random pieces of batting.  I've also got a few boxes and baskets that hold ric rac and my 30's prints.  I keep my works in progress in clear boxes on a shelf so I can easily see what I've got going.  The brand of these boxes is called Protect 'N Store and the two sizes I use range from $4 - $6 dollars each.  I like keeping all of the fabric for each project in its own separate box with the pattern inside on the top so I have everything ready to go. 

So that's it.  That's how I roll :)

I'd say this room is a sewing room on a budget.  There are no high-end cabinets, just my little dresser that I picked up for $40 at a thrift sore.  There is no fancy cutting table.  I got mine for $50 at an antique store.  My cutting mat is relatively small, but it works.  I like to look for deals and find things that are pretty but don't cost a lot of money.  

I hope I've encouraged you to get organized and display the things you love. 
After my little sewing room makeover, I feel more inclined to keep it clean and put things back in their places when I'm done with them.  I like the way it looks and I feel that my creative juices can flow more freely!

Thanks for stopping by!  And remember, a room can be functional and pretty without spending a fortune.

Have a wonderful day.
~ Amber


Monday, December 19, 2011

to Nancy who said...

I am a stalker...um...follower of your blog...love it! Love all the creativity..and color...and...Dresden is on my bucket list. A pattern would be a start... lol

Nancy, you are the recipient of all these goodies: 4 patterns, 3 fat quarters, 2 kinds of treats and a partridge in a pear tree...no, no partridge actually, just a dresden pillow cover and a red and green pennant banner as well!

Happy Holidays to you, Nancy!  Please send me your snail mail address and I'll send these on their way.

And, to the rest of you, my sale is still going on in my shop.  Just enter PRETTYPEPS11 for 20% everything in the store! 
A little gift from me to you...

Sweet Mary

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I am shamelessly stealing this photo off of Mary's blog without her permission to let you all know that "in honor of her being a guest on my blog today" she decided to give away a kit to make this beautiful table runner.  Isn't it beautiful and isn't she sweet?!?

I guess she forgot to mention it to me (and you) so I thought I'd pass the word along.  So, go on.  Click on over to Mary's blog.  Leave her a sweet comment and get entered in to win.  And, if you didn't see her "Tuesday Tips" post yet then keep scrolling down. 

And, if you didn't enter my giveaway yet, click HERE.

Good luck!

Tuesday Tips {Mary's Cottage Quilts}

Hello and welcome to Tuesday Tips!
If you're new to this blog, Tuesday Tips is a new series where I invite well-known quilt designers and crafty bloggers to share some tips and ideas from their own creative spaces.  Tips that will help us be more organized and efficient in our sewing endeavours!  And, if we can glean some ideas on how to make it all pretty, as well, then ~ BONUS!

Today we have Mary from Mary's Cottage Quilts here to share with us.  She's a local Utah quilt designer.  I met Mary about 2 or 3 years ago when I first started designing quilt patterns.  She came into the fabric store that I had just started working at.  She was more than willing to answer questions for me about the business side of things.  Mary is the sweetest and most down to earth gal!  I consider her my mentor and a friend.  Her patterns are fantastic and I'm really excited to see where she creates!

♥ ♥ ♥

Hello all of you out there in Blogland!!
I am Mary Cowan of Mary’s Cottage Quilts and I am so excited to be a part of Tuesday Tips!! Amber asked me to do this quite awhile ago so I have had A LOT of time to think about what I wanted to say... I think, for me, the most important thing is to have organization! If things are cluttered and messy it makes me crazy (my husband would say “hmmm, that explains a lot”).  

I used to have all of my fabric in giant Rubbermaid totes in my closet.  It was a nice way to have every color in its own little space. But the problem was that I couldn't really see what I had without hauling everything out of the closet. For instance, if I wanted the reds I had to drag the “red tote” out and dig through all the reds to find the perfect few.

A couple of years ago all of that dragging around got very old and, using my best salesperson-ship (is that even a word??)  I talked my husband into buying me some super awesome IKEA shelves.  I think it’s actually called the Expedit bookcase.  It comes in many different colors and configurations. The one that works best for my space is the 8 shelf design.  I also have the 4 shelf design that holds more fabric (imagine that) and some of my favorite quilting books.  I totally LOVE having all of my fabrics neatly folded and out in plain view so I can see what I have. I am really trying to use my stash when designing/starting a new project and this is the perfect solution for me to be able to see what I have and then to add to it as necessary. It sure beats dragging out my totes every time I want to start a new project.

I loved the Expedit bookcase so much I even used one in my booth at Spring Market in Salt Lake City.  I also have a cool set up with my counter where I can sit and design/write patterns, surf the web, feed my addiction to pinterest or just keep up to date with all my facebook friends.

My husband totally SPOILS me and bought me this tv so I can watch college football on Saturdays while I sew.  It also doubles as a huge monitor so I can design and step back and really see what things look like.  There is a pretty big closet behind closed doors but that’s all I’m sayin’ about that – there will be no pictures of that nightmare.... It's a work in progress ;)
I am very visual so I love to have things up on the walls that inspire me. I try to make my studio a fun, comfortable, organized place where creativity can flow freely.  And if it’s a mess, I can simply close the door.  

So, there you go, thanks so much Amber for letting me yammer on and share my studio and a little tip or two with you all. Stop by my blog http://www.maryscottagequilts.blogspot.com/and you can see what I am up to next.

♥ ♥ ♥

OK, Mary IS spoiled if she gets to have a TV in her sewing studio! :)  What a dream!  I think it's cute that she likes to watch football while she sews.  Ha!  My husband would be in heaven if that's what I chose to watch in my free time.  Anyways, I love the idea of displaying what you love (especially in a sewing room).  What a great space, Mary.  Thank you for sharing it with us!

Please leave Mary some comment love below.
Thanks for stopping by today.  I hope you're enjoying Tuesday Tips!



Monday, December 12, 2011

First, thank you for all of your sweet comments on the giveaway.  You guys are awesome!!  If you still haven't entered, click HERE to win some fabulous holiday goodies.  The giveaway is open until Saturday the 17th at midnight.

Second, after starting a few new projects recently (like THIS and THIS), I realized that I really need to check off a few older ones from my list.  Maybe you can relate to this, but I have about 5 or 6 quilt tops that are just about finished.  This one has been almost done for a while, but I decided it needed one more row.  The fabric had been cut for 6 more blocks and two had been sewn together.  After working on it for about an hour this weekend, I have just one more block to go.  It seems that if I can just pull it out of the closet, then I will actually make some progress on it. 

I also finished this quilt top.  The middle has been done for a few weeks so this weekend I put the borders on.  Now I just need to pick up some minky for the back and she'll be ready to send to the quilter.

Fabric: Sherbet Pips plus a lot of scraps from my stash.
Pattern: Snickerdoodle (small version) by Cotton Way.

And last but not least, I finished the last piece of THIS puzzle.  There was a little bit of space I needed to fill in on my Block of the Month quilt, so I decided to fill it in with a label.  After working on the embroidery (a little here and a little there) I finally finished!  I can finally sew the last row together.  This is about a year after the fact, folks.

For me, it's all about baby steps.  I have quilters ADD (as you might have guessed if you've been following this blog for any period of time).  I work on multiple things at a time.  But I do make progress just by doing a little here and a little there.  Slowly but surely, folks.  Slowly but surely.

So today, I encourage you to pull out an old work in progress (you know you have them :)  Make a block or maybe two!  Sew the borders on or make a label.  Or, just look at it.  Feel the fabric.  Just make a plan.  Just take one step in finishing it up.  It will feel so good...and start the ball rolling.

Happy Quilting.

A Giveaway From Me 2 U!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways
Blog Hop Party

There's a blog hop party goin' on right now and I couldn't resist joining.
I wanted to take the opportunity to join in the fun and host a giveaway to say thank you!!!  I love doing them and I'm feeling extra generous right now :)

But first, let me say "thank you!"
Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read this blog.  Thanks to those of you who take a minute from time to time to leave a comment.  It really makes my day and makes all the time I put into this ~  worth it.  I really enjoy blogging.  I get so inspired when cruising around Blogland.  It makes me happy to get a little bit of "eye candy" each day.  It feeds my creative soul.  I started this blog, thinking that if I could do the same for others ~ then fabulous! 

So this giveaway is for all you (my followers).  THANK YOU. 

The winner will receive one of these 14" dresden plate pillow covers,

a few of my latest patterns, including Pretty Peppermints
PLUS a few other little goodies.

We'll keep it simple. 
Just leave me a really nice, sappy comment below (j/k).
Please make sure you're a follower.
This giveaway will end December 17 at midnight. 

And, don't forget to click on the button above to get a list of the other bloggers who are hosting giveaways!  There's over 250 participating!!  The list will be ready Saturday morning :)


P.S.  If you need a last minute gift there are two more pillow covers and a couple of new pennant banners up in my shop right now.

And, for those of you wanting to get your hands on
Pretty Peppermints ASAP,
enter the coupon code:
PRETTYPEPS11 at checkout for 20% off that pattern.

Thanks again!

Tuesday Tips {Quilt Story}

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I am so thrilled to have Megan from Quilt Story here today
to share some Tuesday Tips with us! 

But first, a little introduction...

I met Megan and her sister, Heather, at the Spring Quilt Market earlier this year.  They write {darling} quilt patterns and host a fantastic blog together.  Quilt Story designs are fun and original so you definitely need to check these girls out!  They're hosting a Holiday Gift Tutorial series on their blog every Monday through the end of the month.  I LOVE the modern holiday wreath tutorial they designed recently.  Now, over to you Megan!

♥ ♥ ♥

We were very excited that Amber asked us to guest post on her great series, Tuesday Tips.  It couldn't have come at a better time as I was just moving my sewing room around.  It gave me a little motivation to get it done! Let me start by saying that my husband is in medical school, translation: extremely limited budget and space for my sewing hobby obsession!  So if any of that applies to you hopefully I can offer something insightful!

I have more of a sewing corner than a room.  It sits in the corner of my master bedroom!  I've learned to use my vertical space and as many storage pieces as I can find.  Here are some tips I've found helpful in my space:

1. Keep things at hand: Things I am constantly using I have at my fingertips. I keep my scissors and rotary cutters by my machine in cans/cups, my scrap bins are under the table, a trash can to my right, my WIPs in the next cupboard and a patterns/books/bulletin on the wall in front of me.

2. Work-In-Progress Spot: There needs to be a dedicated place for projects you're working on.  Whether it's a large tote in a closet or in a cupboard.  This way you can actually see how much you have going on at any given time.  They all need to be in one place.  For me it's a closed cabinet below my fabric.  See picture below.  I have at least four quilt tops in there, a messenger bag, some fun stuff! :)

3. The Little Things: I try to keep a designated spot for my notions.  I used to have them all in a few drawers, but then I would never realize when I was out of elastic or how many zippers I had on hand.  I got a great Pottery Barn cubby-thing at a garage sale for $5 years ago.  There are 24 open cubbies and 8 of them I filled with cans.  They are just large 28 oz tomato cans, cleaned and decoupaged.  Inside I have zippers, left-over bindings, marking pens/pencils, pins, etc..  See the next two pictures.

4. Fabric Organization: I have had a lot of thought and conversations on this topic, and this is what I've decided to do.  First I organize by size into three spots. I have scraps bins for pieces a few inches to around 1/8 yard.  In my PB cubby-thing I keep pieces around the size of a fat quarter to half yard.  Pieces half yard and larger I keep in my hutch (also a great pottery barn find for $25).  Second I organize by line/color.  For large lines I keep it all together, and if I have a lone print that matches I put it with that whole line.  For all the leftovers, say 3 fabrics or less that go together, then I organize them by color.  Hopefully that made sense!  See the pictures below. (There's a great tutorial on how to fold your fabrics using comic book boards on That Girl That Quilt that I used on my larger fabric pieces, love it!)

5. Keep Inspired: Keep things in your sewing room that inspire you and make you happy!  I decided to use pinks/purples in my corner because I am the only girl in my family :)  Every room in my house is green or blue so I took advantage and used those girly colors!  I also added the mini buntings because they make me happy!

Hopefully you've found something useful!!  Thanks to Amber for giving us a spot to blabber :)  And make sure to stop by Quilt Story :)


Thanks so much Megan!!!  I love the ideas for working with a small space and I LOVE the sewing machine area!  So cute!!  Please leave Megan some comment love below!  She's so sweet to share her creative space with us ♥ ♥ ♥