Secret Friend Gifts

Monday, January 27, 2014

This weekend I'm heading to a Quilt Retreat and I cannot wait!  
 I signed up for two swaps while I'm there: 
#1 - a low volume fat eighth fabric exchange and 
#2 - a secret friend swap.   

Now, I know it's not much of a secret if I'm publicizing it on my blog but she doesn't know she's my secret friend and I don't think she knows me or my blog, so I think it's okay to show you what I'm giving her!?!

She said she likes orange, yellow and purple and Heather Ross 
- so I'm crossing my fingers that she likes these goodies.

I started by looking on my "More Sewing" Pinterest board for some ideas and came across a couple of super cute bags made by Messy Jessy.  Her photo led me to her blog which led me to Jeni Baker's blog, In Color Order - where Jeni has posted a wonderful tutorial for Lined Drawstring Bags.

This bag was super easy and quick to make 
(and you know I don't "do" bags so that should say a lot! :)
The part that took the longest was running out to buy the ribbon - twice because I only bought enough for one of the drawstrings on my first outing!

I lined the bag with some interfacing and 
Robert Kaufman's Essex Linen that I had on hand.

I knew I also wanted to make a boxy pincushion for my secret friend.
So I started by making a tiny star block (using more of my Essex Linen and matching fabric).  Then I wondered the best way to make the "box" part of the pincushion and found this pincushion tutorial by Heather Bailey.  I had never made a fabric box before but it ended up being easy peasy!

 I adjusted Heather's measurements and it actually worked out!
I stuffed the pincushion with some stuffing and silicone sand that I had on hand (to give it some needed weight).

I'm throwing in some more Heather Ross fabric, my favorite seam ripper and two of my patterns (that color coordinate, of course! :)  Oh, and some chocolate.  You gotta have chocolate for a retreat, right?

It was fun to try new things.  I learned that I CAN make bags and how to make a box!  These small projects were a nice change from the usual big quilts that I make and I look forward to making more bags and pincushions in the future!

So do you like to learn/try new things?
What's the latest (new) thing you've tried making?
Did it turn out?

Well, thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a wonderful day!
~ Amber


Spin Cycle

Friday, January 24, 2014

I've been meaning to post about this finish - since July!
(Guess I was a little distracted - whoops!)

My little girl turned 8 this summer and that's a big one for us!
In honor of her baptism I made her this quilt.

I used fat quarters she had collected over the last few years.  I use to let her pick one every time we went to a quilt shop together (but then I had to cut her off because her stash was getting bigger than mine!  :)

This pattern was fun to make and easy to follow.  I love the pattern and was thrilled when my girl picked it out as I was paying for a different purchase!  She has good taste - don't you think?!?

I had to go with turquoise minky on the back-side since it's her favorite color!  The yellow birdie-striped binding is from Noteworthy by Sweetwater for Moda.  I thought it was the perfect fabric to finish the whole thing off!

It's a great snuggle quilt, giving her room to grow up 
(since it measures 75" x 75").

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
~ Amber

Honeysweet Itty Bitty Table Runner

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sometimes I think the simplest blocks are the cutest.

And when you have fabric that you're in love with - you hate to see any go to waste!  So after making three other projects (literally) out of this new fabric line from Fig Tree Quilts called Honeysweet, I decided to add a fourth to my list!  

This is an itty bitty table runner 
(for like, a really narrow table - which I don't own - see end of post :).

The whole thing measures 7" x 36" from point to point.

I used 2" squares for my blocks and then used the EZ Flip 'n Set Ruler by Darlene Zimmerman to cut side setting triangles.  Then I sewed 2" strips onto the ends. 

I used red for the center squares and then made five "X's" (the whole block is really just a 9-Patch) using the rest of the colors from that line.  My background fabric is another one that I can't get enough of - Hints of Prints by Darlene Zimmerman for Robert Kaufman. 

My back is from a different, previous line from Fig Tree Quilts.

Isn't the quilting pretty?  
Kaylene Parry in Lehi, UT. did it for me.  
I use her a lot.  She always does an amazing job!  

And well, after all that - I've decided to give it to my friend.  I think she will be able to find a nice spot for it in her home and the pretty prints seem like they will fit in nicely with her decor.

Now, I'm off to make a special delivery!  I hope she likes it!

But before I go, I get to officially mark this off my January To-Do list!  
Several other projects are "in the works" too!  I'm getting lots done and loving the sense of accomplishment I feel when I get to check something off the list!  What about you?  Are you writing down your intentions for the month?  I promise it really helps :)

Happy quilting!
~ Amber

Things I Want to Do

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I haven't really been one for setting goals, making resolutions or picking a word to focus on this year.  Don't get me wrong, I usually like to set goals and I love the idea of picking a word (I just don't think I'm clever enough to pick just one...).  As a family we always make New Years Resolutions.  We write them down on a single piece of paper and review them together at the end of each year.  Looking over the last couple of lists, I've realized that many of my personal goals were accomplished (such as loosing 15 pounds, getting a book contract and running two half marathons!)  Of course there are a few goals that were not met and some that I can definitely do better (such as having monthly one on one dates with my kids - that was kind of hit or miss :(.  Maybe it's because last year was such a busy one for me that I really feel the need to just focus on some areas of my life that have been a little neglected... 

I want to be productive and balanced without having to measure and critique myself.  I do like to get things done and there's no better way to stay focused than to make a plan or "to-do" list. 

So as I sat in my sewing room the other day I started thinking of all the things that need to get done in there.  I decided I needed to write down my list of projects, focusing on just a few that I'd like to accomplish this month. I've already got two of these almost done and it feels great!  I'll share pictures soon!  The hard part will not be getting distracted.  I've got a couple small projects that HAVE to get done this month too so I may need to revise my list a little.  And that's okay.  Prioritizing is good.

Are you prioritizing, making plans, to-do's or resolutions this year?  What helps you to stay organized and focused?  I'd love to hear what works for you!

Have a great day!
~ Amber

First Work in Progress for 2014

Thursday, January 2, 2014

 Happy New Years everyone!  
It's such a wonderful time of year, isn't it?
  It's just day 2 of twenty-fourteen and already I feel so much motivation and energy!!!  I've been rockin' that post-holiday diet that I started umm...this morning.  I got some cleaning and organizing done last night...  I'm doing a blog post right now...  Can you feel the awesomeness going on here?!?  Just kidding!  I've got a long way to go but I definitely feel a lot better now that Christmas is put away and deadlines have been met.  

Can I just tell you that I mailed off 14 new quilts to Martingale Publishing on December 31st?  It. Felt. Awesome.  That was my big accomplishment for 2013.  We can talk more about it when it gets closer to book release date though.  Just 11 months and counting...

[A sneak-peek of one of the projects.]

Anyways, I've been having lots of fun with this little crew over the last week or two.

And the highlight of our New Years Day?  Sushi with family.  

We went to my brother-in-law/Sister-in-law's house yesterday (my sister-in-law is Japanese and both my husband and brother-in-law served 2-year LDS church missions in Japan many years ago).  Needless to say, they all love sushi and got me hooked on it a few years ago.  It's such fun food.  And so delicious.  Seriously.  Have you tried it?  

[My Temakizushi via Instagram.  
Ingredients included:  Seaweed, rice, tuna, crab meat, avocado, jalapeno, green onions, Sriracha hot sauce and Japanese mayonnaise.  Heavenly.  That's all I'm gonna say.  Heavenly.]

Anyways, I'm all vamped up for the new year.
I'm ready to tackle projects that I've been neglecting for some time now and honestly, I haven't been able to fall asleep on several different nights recently because I'm dreaming of home renovation projects I want to do!  It's terrible! 

In the quilting department though...
I am making a little progress on a quilt I recently started for one of my BFF's. 

She's a pretty traditional gal and her house is super cute (Restoration Hardware-style) so she picked out this simple pattern and the fabric (my treat!) to work with her family room decor.  It's going to be a late Christmas... birthday, Valentines Day, St. Patrick's Day... gift to her and her family :)  No, hopefully I'll have it done sooner than that but, you know - a quilt's a big gift so it's going to be a late Christmas & birthday gift.
The pattern is from Fig Tree's "Twinkle" booklet.   It's a cute little book that takes 2 basic blocks (the 9-Patch and the Snowball blocks), puts them into 1 setting and then shows what can happen with the use of different color combinations.  Pretty straight-forward but fun to see the dramatic change that can happen with color and fabric placement!

Well, here's to the start of a fabulous new year!  
Hope you're feeling as gung-ho as I am...
and I hope it lasts!

Happy quilting!!!
~ Amber