camp creativebug clothespin dolls giveaway! July 26, 2013

August update: Our little clothespin doll kit giveaway is extended until next Friday, August 9, and the COASTCRAFT discount code for creativebug is evergreen for the rest of the summer. Yay!

When I saw my friend Amy’s post that she and her daughter Delia were teaching a brand-new craft class for the Camp Creativebug series – clothespin dolls! – I knew Pearl would love it.


I tracked down all the supplies and last Friday, we hosted a clothespin-doll craft party with our friends Guphy and Jenn. Once Everett (who at 2.5 is not quite gluestick age) went down for a nap, we picked out our favorite yarns, fabric scraps, ribbons, and laces, watched the workshop, and made fourteen dolls all together!

Pearl's and my clothespin dolls

Here is the first batch before faces, and then taking a short nap afterwards, courtesy of thoughtful Pearl tucking them in.

clothespin dolls taking a nap

And here are all ten of our dolls enjoying a summer afternoon outside. The top row are Pearl’s (you can tell by the more interesting faces) and the bottom ones are mine. Pearl’s first two on the left are Betsy and Tacy, who she loves, and we’ve been coming up with names for the rest as we go.

Pearl's and my clothespin dolls

We both loved this class – Pearl has been asking every couple of days to have more friends over to make more dolls. It was simple, fun, and so easy to customize with special bits and pieces.

clothespin dolls!

One thing I loved was using even the smallest scraps from other favorite projects and seeing them live again in a sweet new way. Monica gave me a treasured jelly roll pack of her Happy Mochi Yum Yum line a few years ago, and just a couple of inches of the pretty roses made a fantastic fancy doll dress. Most of the other fabric strips were left over from my quilts in Modern Log Cabin Quilting and I love seeing those patterns again, too.

win this set of clothespin doll supplies

Three of the yarns we used for dolls’ hair were last seen in one of Linda‘s Tribbles and in my Harry Potter scarf in World of Geekcraft, and I bought two new ones just for this (love the rainbow yarn especially). The laces are all estate sale and Knittn’ Kitten finds I’ve been saving in a big jar, and watching it all come to life was really fun!


If you’d like to try this class, or any of the others on the site, I have a nice discount to offer up! Creativebug sent me the code COASTCRAFT to share with anyone who’s reading along – you can use it at checkout to get your first month of unlimited classes for only $9.99. You can access any and all classes you want to take – or if you’d prefer to buy individual ones instead of an overall membership, you can do that instead.


Along with the discount code, Pearl and I would like to share some of our favorite clothespin doll supplies – everything in the picture above will be going to a lucky winner! Please leave a comment on this post with one of your favorite kids’ craft projects (from your own childhood or one you’ve tried with your own family) and I’ll draw a winner next Friday, August 9! We’ll send you a little prize package with ten clothespins, five mini-skeins of yarn, a glue stick, and a bunch of our favorite fabric and lace scraps. (You’ll need to get your own scissors, Micron pen, and craft glue, plus paint and a brush if you want more interesting skin colors.)

our summer teepee

Meanwhile, we have been busy with another (free!) Creativebug kids’ class, the summer teepee. It’s been a good one to work on in stages… first we built the frame, then draped and tied the covering the next evening (more rainbow yarn!). This weekend we’ll be painting and stamping it which we are all really excited about! The teepee has already been a huge hit. Pearl has it all set up with two big floor pillows for her and Everett, her current Lego project, and one of her dolls. I’ll share some more photos next week when it’s all decorated!

our summer teepee

So, please leave me a comment here (or on my instagram photos!) through 8/9 sharing a favorite kids’ craft project if you’d like to win the dolls kit, and feel free to try Creativebug out for a discounted month with the code COASTCRAFT… Happy weekend, everyone!

my creativebug rubber stamps

PS – Disclosures, if you are interested: This is not a sponsored post, I joined Creativebug with a paid renewing 3-month membership last year after another post of Amy’s, and have really enjoyed taking some grown-up classes (like Christine Schmidt’s on carving rubber stamps – here are the ones I made). I just think the kids’ Camp Creativebug series is super special, and was excited to share it, especially with a discount, thanks to them! I think our next project is going to be kids’ weaving which looks so fun…

summer + crafts + saltwater sandals July 24, 2013

The summer feels like it’s been flying by – I can’t believe it’s already half over! We’ve been pretty busy but it’s been fun to do a few of our favorite things like pick berries, make freezer jam (I’ve made 35 half-pints at last count), and have dinner outside at the picnic table in our backyard once in awhile, too.

picnic tablecloth

I have a few new favorites to add to my summer list. Roman Candle Baking Company opened up near our house (along with every other restaurant option in Portland, and tons of construction – it’s been a little crazy lately) and I love it. My favorites there so far are the contadino bread and the cherry-almond polenta bar, which was one of those things I was pretty sure I would like… but took one bite and was completely amazed by. We came back the next day to buy two more so I wouldn’t have to share mine!

Roman Candle

Pearl and I have pretty much been living in our new Saltwater Sandals – my first pair ever, and her second. I bought mine at Popina downtown, but I heard that Branch and Birdie and PedEx also carry them, I would love another bright color…

Saltwater sandals

And I’m excited to make some new friendship bracelets (I made them every day on the bus to middle school, and then had a big macrame jewelry era later on too) so I just bought a big pack of rainbow floss to try a bunch of different combinations with Pearl! These in the photo are from the July/August MSL, and there are nice illustrations on the next page. Mine will most likely not be this artfully arranged.

friendship bracelets

One thing I did get to sew this month was a little patchwork bowl for a PMQG container swap. I drew April and she said she loved red, especially with aqua, so I made a little “picture frames” log cabin block with those two colors and backed it with Peony Eco-Wise Pendleton wool flannel, and then cut and blanket-stitched it to form the bowl shape. A super fun experiment and she said she loved it (yay!). I added some more of the Tammis Keefe owls and some Pendleton for her to make another one if she wanted to. Suzanne made me the sweetest bucket in blues and greens which is on my instagram if you want to see. What a fun swap!

little owl patchwork bowl

I’ve been reading some good books (loved The Beautiful Mystery and A Crimson Warning, liked Blue Plate Special ok, and am looking for something new to read now). My picnic-quilt reading time has been a bit limited with work deadlines and kooky kids to keep up with, but I figure we still have six weeks left of summer – honestly here in Oregon more like ten, weather-wise – so I have high hopes for a little more free time to do more of the fun things soon!

summer in the backyard

Speaking of, I have gotten to do a few special projects with both kids and will be excited to share more about those this week too, with a giveaway and everything! Hope you are having a wonderful July so far.

craft business roundtable with Kari Chapin July 16! July 15, 2013

Hi Portland friends, I’m excited to be part of a craft business round table presentation tomorrow evening (Tuesday, July 16) at the Central Library downtown. Please come by if you can, it should be a lot of fun!

2013_KC_LibrarySigning-2 copy

The discussion goes from 6:00-7:45 pm and it’s totally free of charge to attend! My friend Kari Chapin is in town for a few days on a West Coast tour, and organized this event with a bunch of her Portland friends while she’s here. Diane and I will be talking about craft publishing, while lots of other people share tips and advice about their own specialties – from craft fairs and wholesaling to working from home and expanding your business. You can move from table to table to ask questions throughout the evening and I’d love to say hello if you come by to see me and Diane…

Hope to see you then!

If you go:
Craft Business Round Table at Multnomah County Library
Tuesday, July 16 from 6:00-7:45 pm
US Bank Room, Central Library, 801 SW 10th Ave. in Portland

the sunny saturday June 19, 2013

I’ve been dreaming of making a real patio in our little backyard for years (and have the aspirational pinterest board to match), but things have already been way too busy to pull it off this year… bummer. So, feeling stressed out with a ton of freelance work on my plate and plenty of regular life stuff zipping past me too, I decided to at least start on the backyard of my dreams. And now just a couple of weekends later, it’s our favorite place to hang out!

my little spot

Andrew and I bought our pair of Adirondack chairs in 2009 and I love that bright cheerful orange (although one has aged way better than the other so now they’re essentially different colors, sigh)… that’s always been my inspiration and starting point. I also love aqua and light blue – so harmonious with my favorite bright colors like yellow, orange or lime green – so I chose a palette of my of those for inspiration, signed up for the Portland Nursery email list for the 25% off ceramic planters coupon, and started rounding things up. I bought planters and smaller pots at Portland Nursery, Garden Fever, and Little Baja (which I have been wanting to go to for YEARS but never had, it’s awesome and wow that strawberry pot reminds me of my childhood). Then I repainted a small, ugly, markered-on wooden table that had kicked around various parts of the house in “Seaside Resort” and that worked out perfectly for a 15-minute project, counting washing the brushes afterwards.

backyard hangout space

I moved some bigger plants like the tall grass and Mexican orange from other places in my yard and took succulent cuttings from my garden to start things off. I also bought some coleus and a few other new things I liked, and thanks to Burgerville‘s kids meal seed packets, started some little peas and zucchini in pots that are going gangbusters too.

mini patio #1

Finally, I got a recommendation from a friend for Portland Rock & Landscape Supply and headed out there to pick up twelve 12″ square pavers . A quick hour of digging out grass and leveling out dirt later, I had two mini (2 x 3 paver-sized) patios for my plant container islands and was happily done and mixing a cocktail!

mini patio #2

I don’t have a photo of it but here’s the drink I made up to celebrate our little patio project finale: the Sunny Saturday. It spun off of this recipe, thanks to turning a bumper crop of sage in my herb garden into simple syrup, and asking duck duck go what I should make with it. I highly (HIGHLY) recommend it, it’s written into my family cookbook now…

The Sunny Saturday

•1 1/2 oz gin
•1/2 oz lemon juice
•1/2 oz sage simple syrup
•1/2 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur

over ice, top with club soda, stir with a swizzle stick, and garnish with a few sage leaves. This one is perfect for sharing, especially in a tall glass full of ice.

Western shirt for Everett

Then in sewing news, after going a full month without even touching my machine, I’m starting a little Western shirt for Everett – my muslin will be in this strawberry vintage fabric I’ve had forever. I’m pretty excited about it! With luck the rough draft will be wearable (those strawberries are so cute) and then I’ll get to sew him the real shirt in an awesome red, white, and blue sailboat print for a very special Fourth of July wedding. Hope to have some sewing photos to share soon!

spring skirts May 23, 2013

I wrote about my new favorite pattern, Amy Butler’s Barcelona skirt, at the Coats & Clark Sewing Secrets blog this week. This is a really joyful sewing project and it was fun to share some tips for making a simplified one-layer version of this pretty skirt, perfect for spring. I also love Flea Market Fancy and was so happy to sew my seventh Barcelona in the green leaf print!

mother-daughter spring skirts

Pearl’s skirt is Anna Maria Horner’s lovely Mind’s Eye print in violet (from Field Study). She loves it so much. It’s one of the half-yard skirts I have been super addicted to sewing.

my 2013 garden (greens)

We’re back to lots of rain and tights weather this week, but my garden sure is happy. We have tons and tons of greens, and lots of sugar snap peas too (I need to reinforce that trellis with sturdy twine and little stakes, but with two curious kids in the mix, nothing stays where I last put it and the enticing roll of twine walked off some time ago. But the peas don’t care). I added a new herb garden mini-annex a few weeks ago that I love. I was walking into New Seasons, got my head turned by this collection of Drunken Botanist herb sets (grown in Oregon!), and bought two – Southern Belle’s Whiskey Garden and Mixologist’s Simple Syrups. Looking forward to trying some new things for cocktails and cooking. I want to get her book, too…

my 2013 herb garden (annex)

I’m still getting used to the new flickr but yielded to its pushy demand for a bigger, “better” profile picture. I already miss the little teeny 2005 thumbnail of me with my knitted pig phone cozy – I love that thing even if it is now a lo-res artifact. Oh well, I am now 2013 me over there.

in memory of kathreen May 21, 2013

Like so many of us in the craft community, I was shocked and heartbroken to hear the terrible news that Kathreen Ricketson, founder of whip-up, and her husband and creative collaborator Robert Shugg suddenly passed away last week, on a beautiful adventure with their two children – who are safe with family. At a wrenching time like this, there just aren’t any words to reach for. My heart has been heavy and I have found myself in tears over and over and over again, unable to imagine such a wrong thing.

Little Bits Quilting Bee

I first met Kathreen in 2005 or 2006 when she contacted us asking to review Super Crafty, which we were all thrilled about. We stayed in touch over the years and especially before I had my own two young children, I contributed a bit to her marvelous whip-up blog and was always happy to hear and spread the word about what Kathreen was up to, in so many directions. Over the last five whirlwind years of new motherhood and freelance work, I haven’t had the free time for leisurely, inspiring craft blog reading (or writing!) that I used to… but Kathreen and I also shared a wonderful editor and publicist at Chronicle Books, and our parallel link there was a special one to me. Her kind words of excitement when my little boy Everett was born are especially precious to remember. I just thought so much of her.

Prismatic - Little Bits Quilting Bee

In the aftermath of tragedy we can only try to help as best we can, and hold our friends and loved ones tight. I spent the last weekend at Quilt Market here in Portland and it was a joy to be with friends from the craft and quilting community, seeing their new projects and fabrics and books, even as my heart was heavy with the terrible news of Kathreen’s sudden death. The chance to cry with my friend Monica for a few minutes and be overcome with sadness at her loss – but together – was a gift. This community feels like – is – a family so often, and I am thankful for the warmth and love that we share. In that spirit of generosity and support, Julie of Procrasticraft and other devoted friends and family have established a fund for Kathreen and Rob’s children Otilija and Orlando.

Prismatic - Little Bits Quilting Bee

Kay and Ann of Mason-Dixon Knitting are organizing an online tribute to Kathreen beginning May 24 which is open to all of us, and I look forward to participating in it. I am also (quickly) working on a special article for the winter issue of Stitch magazine honoring her, and I am reaching out to her friends and collaborators this week asking for the chance to share their favorite photographs, projects or memories of her work. If you would like to be part of the article, or have other people to suggest contacting, please email me – I would appreciate it so much. Kathreen collaborated with hundreds of us and reached thousands and thousands more, so by necessity this will be a small sampling, but I hope a colorful and beautiful tribute… and of course I am donating all of my writing fee to her children’s fund.

Garnets and Gold - Little Bits Quilting Bee

I was so happy to review her second book with Chronicle, Little Bits Quilting Bee, and would like to end with an excerpt of that post here. Getting to write about this lovely book and her work was such a nice chance to (try to) explain how special our world is, and how thankful I am to be part of it. I’m very sad and struggling with my words today, but I would like to share the ones that came more easily, in happier times.

– – – – – – – – –
from Little Bits Quilting Bee – November 15, 2011

Rhombus - Little Bits Quilting Bee

My PMQG guildmate and friend Monica Solorio-Snow gave me and Daniela each a jelly roll set of her Happy Mochi Yum Yum fabric line, and I have been saving this amazing gift for a special project. The fabric makes me happy (the name couldn’t be more perfect!) and I’m picturing such a gorgeous HMYY Rhombus, bordered in a bright solid. Lovely.

happy mochi yum yum jelly roll

Which brings me to my favorite part of Little Bits Quilting Bee – the bee. I love craft books that offer more than great projects – that tell a story or share history or resources we can all enjoy. Kathreen includes an engaging section at the front on the history and culture of community quilting, from traditional bees to online swaps and groups – I loved reading this part.

Community Quilting - Little Bits Quilting Bee

Of course Kathreen’s whip-up site has been a huge pillar of our craft community, and my whole life has been shaped so beautifully, and I have met so many people I treasure, through craft.


From my earliest days of learning to sew and getting a million ideas on getcrafty… to hosting naked lady parties and swapping tons of clothes and craft supplies… to our beloved Portland Church of Craft meetings, led by Sister Diane… to my partners in Portland Super Crafty… to Maker Faire… and now the amazing Portland Modern Quilt Guild I’m proud to be a member of, I am very fortunate to be part of our huge, beautiful craft community.

my Portland Modern Quilt Guild name badge <3

One of my favorite blog entries I’ve ever written, originally as a column for getcrafty in March 2006, was Start Your Own Craft Circle! – half fun details about a weekly knitting circle in North Carolina, and half tips on starting your own craft group. Except for a few links that could be switched out for their 2011 counterparts, it feels as fresh now as it did when I was interviewing the organizers five years ago! Thank you to my friends, everyone who inspires me with your crafts and projects, and to everyone who reads my books and stops by this little corner of the world, too.

Little Bits Quilting Bee

so pretty! felt May 10, 2013

Chronicle Books recently sent me a copy of So Pretty! Felt, the lovely new book by Amy Palanjian, and I’m excited to be today’s co-stop on the blog tour! I love sewing and crafting with felt, and this collection of projects is a pretty mix of accessories, jewelry, ornaments, and decorations.

Floral Clutch in So Pretty! Felt

The book is a gorgeous, colorful hardback with beautiful photos – Amy curated 24 sewing, embroidery, and felting projects, two each by 12 guest designers. The book is as much inspiration as it is hands-on instructions, and I immediately found a few projects I want to make! I especially love the Floral Clutch on the cover – it was made by Jill Collier.

Jill Collier's page in So Pretty! Felt

Each contributing designer has an opening page with her bio and lots of other details about her projects, which is a nice touch.

Snowflake Necklace in So Pretty! Felt

I also loved this stylish Snowflake Necklace by Yoko Vega – amazing that it’s made with just a few strips of felt.

Yoko Vega's page in So Pretty! Felt

I asked my five-year-old daughter, Pearl, to choose her favorite project and she loved the Cupcake Toppers that Stephanie Monroe created!

Cupcake Toppers in So Pretty! Felt

I’ll definitely be making some for her next birthday party… maybe spelling P-E-A-R-L-! or S-I-X-!

Stephanie Monroe's page in So Pretty! Felt

Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour – there are lots more reviews and giveaways to check out. Thanks so much to Lorraine at Chronicle for sending me my copy of So Pretty! Felt!

Floral Clutch in So Pretty! Felt

Tomorrow’s stop is at Mod Podge Rocks – happy weekend, everyone!

The Romance of Buttons + Summer 2013 Stitch Magazine! May 2, 2013

Yay, this weekend is the annual Oregon State Button Society show – The Romance of Buttons!

Giant button in Brugge, Belgium

The show opens to the public tomorrow and Saturday from 10-5. Dealers will have buttons of all styles and materials for sale, from colorful unmatched 25¢ poke buttons (my favorite!) to rare antique treasures. There are also lots of programs scheduled on both days, and of course the judged competition trays in the back to admire – it’s like a museum of vintage and antique buttons, arranged on cards in interesting themes and sub-collections.

some of my finds from Exclusive Buttons

Speaking of buttons, I was so excited to write a new feature about them for the Summer 2013 issue of Stitch magazine! It’s out now and it’s a fabulous issue.

history of buttons article - Stitch summer 2013!

I’ll be sharing more about Stitch and another fun embellishments project I’m working on soon, but really, REALLY wanted to get to cover the OSBS show before it opens tomorrow! Hope to see you over there.

one of my vintage button cards

If you go:

Oregon State Button Society 2013 Show – “The Romance of Buttons”
Keizer Renaissance Inn
5188 Wittenberg Lane NE, Keizer, Oregon
Open to the public 10-5 Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4
Admission $6 ($1 off with a flyer or by visiting the OSBS site!)

buttons this weekend (and in Stitch)!

Yay, this weekend is the annual Oregon State Button Society show – The Romance of Buttons!

Giant button in Brugge, Belgium

The show opens to the public tomorrow and Saturday from 10-5. Dealers will have buttons of all styles and materials for sale, from colorful unmatched 25¢ poke buttons (my favorite!) to rare antique treasures. There are also lots of programs scheduled on both days, and of course the judged competition trays in the back to admire – it’s like a museum of vintage and antique buttons, arranged on cards in interesting themes and sub-collections.

some of my finds from Exclusive Buttons

Speaking of buttons, I was so excited to write a new feature about them for the Summer 2013 issue of Stitch magazine! It’s out now and it’s a fabulous issue.

history of buttons article - Stitch summer 2013!

I’ll be sharing more about Stitch and another fun embellishments project I’m working on soon, but really, REALLY wanted to get to cover the OSBS show before it opens tomorrow! Hope to see you over there.

one of my vintage button cards

If you go:

Oregon State Button Society 2013 Show – “The Romance of Buttons”
Keizer Renaissance Inn
5188 Wittenberg Lane NE, Keizer, Oregon
Open to the public 10-5 Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4
Admission $6 ($1 off with a flyer or by visiting the OSBS site!)

spring sewing + quilt documenting April 30, 2013

It’s been a busy (sunny!!) spring but I’ve gotten to sew some good things lately and I wanted to share a couple of them. I have two big spring birthdays in my life – my mom’s and Pearl’s. They both love pretty handmade things and share a VERY favorite color, purple… which is not really my first pick, but it’s been fun working with some fabrics I don’t always reach for!

a spring birthday pillow for my mom!

If you happen to remember the first quilt I ever made (also a birthday present for my mom!), this year I made her a pillow to go with it! I really like how it turned out. I also got her to open it while she was on the phone with me and the kids, and that was fun!

Stamped FQ skirt for Pearl!

I’ve recently gotten addicted to sewing Pearl half-yard a-line kid skirts (full tutorial here) and when Ellen Luckett Baker was kind enough to send me some beautiful FQs from her Stamped line with Kokka, the gorgeous purple ladybugs and gingko leaves told me they wanted to be a skirt too. I joined the two FQs with French seams on both short edges and then made a hem and waistband the same way as with a single-fabric half-yard. She LOVES her two-sided skirt! It’s really awesome on. She’ll start out with the ladybugs on the front and then switch to gingkos later in the day. Why not?? Anyway, I highly recommend the 2-FQ approach to kids’ skirt-making! A huge thank-you to Ellen – I love Stamped, her beautiful new collection Folk Modern, 1-2-3 Sew, and now 1-2-3 Quilt!

Stamped FQ skirt for Pearl!

So now, speaking of sewing awesome things that are purple, I have a yard and a half of Pearl Bracelet in Grape Jelly pre-washing for Pearl’s special fifth birthday dress! I can’t believe she’s going to be five – she is very, very excited and I picked up the big giant 5 candle today for her chocolate cake. I’m also making myself a new Barcelona skirt in Pearl Bracelet Pond (love that color – this will be the seventh Barcelona I’ve sewn!) so we will be sort of matchy. (PS – if you want a cool full-line PB color chart PDF courtesy of Ms. Lizzy House, you can download it here!)

Bill photographing the PMQG Graphic quilt for the Quilt Index!

I’ll be writing more about this on the PMQG blog soon, but as guild historian this year I got to help organize our first Documentation Day! Bill Volckening, who has a fabulous quilt collection and appraises quilts professionally as well as working with the wonderful Oregon Quilt Project, photographed each quilt and worked with us to carefully document each one for the Quilt Index. It was a very cool afternoon! We documented ten quilts, including PMQG’s collective Graphic which I love so much, and my Modern Crosses. That made me very happy. We’re planning our second Documentation Day, so stay tuned over there for lots of details coming soon!

Modern Crosses documented for the Quilt Index!

a rainbow charm bracelet quilt for Pearl April 3, 2013

I’m so happy to be today’s stop on the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool blog tour!


I was invited to try out their fabulous Quilt Design Tool recently, which has been super fun. I have never used any kind of design software before – I always sketch my ideas on paper, then use graph paper to formalize things and get my numbers organized, then start cutting and sewing. The QDT was a very cool departure from my usual analog approach! You can create simple or intricate shapes, maneuver them around very easily, switch colors or fabrics with a single click, set a block, and transform your initial idea into an overall quilt design with tons of flexibility. The program even adds borders and gives fabric requirements, and you can export the design onto your desktop to look at as a whole and get a sense of how it will live as a quilt. At only $10 a month, it’s a wonderful resource and I think it really transforms the design process into something special.

charm pack and sketchbook.jpg

When I was at Quiltcon, I got a beautiful charm pack of Lizzy House’s 26 new Pearl Bracelet colors from the Andover booth, and immediately knew I wanted to make a quilt for my almost-five-year-old daughter, Pearl. She loves rainbows and color, and I pictured a bright, happy design that would grow up with her. The charm squares were such a cool gift, and I wanted to use every bit of the precious 5″ squares, rather than cut them up into secondary shapes, as pops of color on a twin-size quilt she could use on her bed.

12 inch block and quilt layout.jpg

So once I had a chance to work with the Quilt Design Tool, I thought I’d try some different ideas out and see what worked. My first thought was a basic 12″ two-tier log cabin block (I love log cabin!) with a larger, asymmetrical center charm square (that I filled in with yellow Pearl Bracelet from their fabric archives). I used the workspace software to make a simple block layout, then tiled that into a 6 x 4 grid and rotated some of the 24 blocks to create movement throughout the design.

rough draft 12 inch blocks.jpg

I stitched up three real blocks using these dimensions, mixed in a little off-white in the logs for color interest, then set them out in that rotation to see how I liked it. And it just didn’t do a whole lot! I liked it but I didn’t love it, and I felt like this cool chance to use a design tool, just for quilting, deserved more. So – back to the drawing board, and opening a new workspace.


I kept thinking of roundness, and somehow arranging an array of the small charm squares to create that feeling of a bracelet of color – a beautiful, simple circular design instead of a regular old grid. I could shape the 12″ blocks into a tight, tall oval with some major maneuvering, but they were just too big to make a circle on a twin quilt.


So a couple of math problems later, I reduced my block size and widened my quilt a little bit, and came up with a 10″ one-tier block that offered a lot more flexibility – and even could be coaxed into a symmetrical 16-block circle!

rainbow charm bracelet blocks.jpg

We narrowed the 26 colors of Pearl Bracelet down to 16, and arranged them in a joyful ROYGBIV circle on the dining room floor. Pearl loved this part!

rainbow charm squares.jpg

I chain-pieced, pressed, and squared up the blocks. I love how quilt blocks look in a neat stack.

10 inch blocks in a stack.jpg

Here’s how the top mini-row of three will look in the bracelet. It’s very similar to my first idea, but the fact that it’s the top section of a circle instead of the heart of a grid just really gives it a lot more life, I think.

rainbow charm bracelet row.jpg

I used the Threadbias design tool to fill in the other parts of the quilt (inside and outside of the circle), and get the measurements for cutting and piecing each section into a whole. This was really handy and made the math and other arrangements very quick.

rainbow charm bracelet blocks layout.jpg

With such a generous circle design, a huge section of the center was a completely blank slate. I love improvisational piecing and writing messages in my quilts (like the “good night” quilt back I worked on for the PMQG Quiltcon charity quilt) so I pieced a subtle, large-scale “pearl” in white-on-white Pearl Bracelet, against Michael Miller Bright White Cotton Couture. For reference, this section measures 51″ wide by 30″ tall.

pearl's name for the quilt center.jpg

Pearl loves that her name is in the quilt. She is just learning to read and it made her super happy to see it there.

improvisationally pieced pearl.jpg

I had hoped to have the top all done for today, but here’s where I’m at:

charm bracelet blocks layout.jpg

so I’ll be sharing the finished Rainbow Charm Bracelet top at our April 18 PMQG meeting, and I’m super excited to hand it off to Nancy to quilt! Speaking of PMQG, Threadbias has generously offered a prize of a free month of the Quilt Design Tool (!) to a lucky winner… and instead of giving it away through comments here, we’ll draw a name at the meeting! They’re also offering a nice bonus to PMQG members, which you’ll hear more about then too.


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour – there are some wonderful reviews and quilts up already, and Jen will be reviewing the QDT for Sew, Mama, Sew tomorrow!

Monday, March 25 – Freshly Pieced
Tuesday, March 26 – Don’t Call Me Betsy
Wednesday, March 27 – Generation Q Magazine
Thursday, March 28 – The Sometimes Crafter
Friday, March 29 – Diary of a Quilter
Monday, April 1 – Swim, Bike, Quilt
Tuesday, April 2 – Fresh Lemons Quilts
Wednesday, April 3 – West Coast Crafty
+ Portland Modern Quilt Guild (me!)
Thursday, April 4 – Sew, Mama, Sew!
Friday, April 5 – Alison Glass
Saturday, April 6 – Pink Castle Fabrics
Sunday, April 7 – Ellison Lane Quilts

Box full of Modern Log Cabin Quiltings

Thank you to Andover for the gift of the Pearl Bracelet charm pack and to Threadbias for the chance to review the Quilt Design Tool! (I bought my Bright White Cotton Couture and the additional white Pearl Bracelet at Fabric Depot here in Portland.) If you’re interested in more detail on my cutting, chain-piecing, and row assembly methods, you can check out my book, Modern Log Cabin Quilting. Thanks, and happy Wednesday!

fastest Easter skirt in the west March 30, 2013

I made Pearl an Easter dress a few years ago (which she can still wear as a top) but this year I had my heart set on sewing her a special Easter skirt.

Pearl's Easter dress

I still love this little dress, but she’s just not a dress kid. She loves wearing skirts, and I thought trying a few of my usual sewing tricks with a half-yard of nice quilting cotton could end up making her a cute elastic-waist skirt. Little did I know it actually is the easiest and quickest skirt method I could have ever imagined! I’m sure someone else has done this type of project a million times but I was pretty thrilled to pull this off. Here’s how I did it. (Note – Pearl is a very tall and lanky four-year-old, so I’d say this would be great general sizing for toddlers and preschoolers, if you adapt the waist to resemble an elastic-waist skirt or simple pair of pants that fits well.)

the first-draft half-yard Easter skirt

My first try was with a half-yard of Hello Kitty fabric I bought at West Seattle Fabric Company last summer on our PNW MQG meet-up weekend, improvised as I went with what sounded like it would work the way I pictured in my head. It all went smoothly (ok, I did get the seam ripper out once when my waistband was too narrow, see below) but in about 15 minutes I had a simple, perfect little skirt for her! I took no process photos so I tried to get those snaps while I was making the second skirt… the Easter skirt!!! Pearl and I are going to have mother-daughter Easter skirts with my favorite Denyse Schmidt Aunt Edna/JoAnn diagonal plaid print in the pink colorway (her) and the gold colorway (me!). Unless she desperately wants to wear the Hello Kitty skirt to church. Hmm, maybe I should unveil that one afterwards…

Pearl's Easter skirt

To start, you’ll need a half-yard (18″) of 44″ wide quilting cotton, some 1/2″ flat elastic (you can go wider than this but I’m not sure narrower would work well) threaded through an elastic guide or safety pin, sewing machine, thread, scissors, etc. Pre-wash the fabric and press it, folding it with right sides together and selvages matching at one short edge, so it measures about 18″ tall by 22″ wide folded.

yay for printed selvage!

Stitch along the 18″ open side to join the selvages, back-stitching at the beginning and end of the seam, and catching all white or printed selvages within the seam so they don’t show (likely, 1/2″ or so, depending on how wide your printed part is). Press the selvages open. If you’re lucky, you can spotlight the printed section right into the skirt, which is cute! No seam-finishing required if you just use the selvage edges as your only seam (a nice bonus).

pressed hem before sewing

Press the bottom raw edge of your fabric cylinder under about 1/2″ towards the wrong side of the fabric, then press again to create a simple double-fold hem. If you have a nice sharp press, you don’t even need to pin all the way around, I just put one in at the seam to keep it neat. Stitch around the hem to secure it, back-stitching at the end to hold the seam.

finished hem

Now create the waistband (normally I make a skirt waistband first but this pattern is so simple and the waist gathers so much that I think the hem is easiest to make first, my 2¢). Just as you did with the hem, press the top edge under about 1/2″ or a bit less all the way around towards the wrong side.

gauging how wide to make the waistband

Now eye how wide your elastic (and most importantly elastic guide or safety pin AND elastic doubled through) is and press your second fold accordingly – you want this channel to be wide enough to accommodate the guide and its elastic cargo slipping through. Stitch around the entire waistband, leaving a 2-inch opening or so at the selvage seam, back-stitching at the beginning and end to hold the seam.

elastic & guide for the waistband

Insert the elastic guide into the opening and slide it into the waist channel, guiding it through with your fingers. (Note – if your guide gets stuck because you stitched a channel that’s too narrow, just seam-rip the rest of the waistband and re-press it with a more generous fold. Ask me how I know…) When you reach the other side, pull the guide out and gather the elastic smoothly, tugging on both ends. Use a skirt that fits your kid well for a general idea of how tightly to gather it.

pinning the elastic for the waistband

When it resembles that waistband, pin your elastic in place at that point so it is doubled about an inch, and stitch back and forth multiple times to secure it. Trim threads and guide the stitched elastic back into the waistband at the opening. Now press the waistband opening flat and stitch it closed, back-stitching at the beginning and end of your seam for security.

half-yard skirt selvage seam

That’s it! If you pre-wash half-yards of cute fabrics with your regular laundry you will always be ready to sew up a kid’s skirt. Next stop, appliqueing a t-shirt for her in the same pink plaid, plus something fun for Everett too. (Note – I wrote this mostly up on Thursday night and it’s now Saturday morning, and I’ve sewn her two more skirts! They are addictive! I came up with a new idea too and I’ll post that next week… here’s a hint for now – LOVE this fabric:)

Stamped Easter skirt

Happy Easter/April/spring/skirt weather, everyone!

Pearl's Easter skirt