Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Patchwork Needle Book



I love a good sew-along and I have found some fun ones this year on Instagram!
 Last month my friend Mary (Molly Flanders Blog and Sunny Day Supply Shop) held a needle book sew-along and it was so much fun. I have been needing a needle book, so I was happy to have incentive to make one! 


I used the free Butterfly Charm Block Paper Piecing Pattern by Lily Ella to make the butterfly for the front and then followed Amy of nanaCompany's needle book tutorial to make the needle book. It was a fun little make! 


Do you like Sew-A-Longs? The very first one that I participated in was the Scrappy Trip Along back in 2011. This year I also jumped on the #mushroomsewalong bandwagon and will share what I made soon! There is also Farmers Wife Sew-Along just starting up and I am so tempted! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Low Volume Strip Quilt


I've always loved the look of low volume quilts, but have just never gotten around to making one until this summer. I think the queen of low volume is Rita of Red Pepper Quilts. She is so talented and has such an eye for putting fabrics together- I love everything she makes! A few years ago she made a low volume strip quilt and it's been on "my list" of things to make ever since.


I wanted my quilt to read as low volume, but girly from afar, so I selected fabrics that had a white background but used a lot of florals and pinks. I cut 2x10 inch strips and pieced them all together randomly. If I were to make this quilt again, I would probably just cut 2xWOF strips and then piece them in long rows, then after they were pieced, trim the rows to 10 inch width. It would have been a lot quicker!


I made this quilt for my niece as a birthday/early graduation  present. I've been trying to do better about adding quilt labels to my quilts lately, so I stitched up this simple label and used leftover strips of fabric to create a log cabin-ish little block.


I backed the quilt in some white/cream flannel that I had in my stash (can't remember the brand, but it is the good stuff- not the thin, cheap kind), and then used my very favorite batting IN THE WORLD- Warm and Plush.  Julie Hirt did the quilting for me. She used the "daisies" pattern and I love how it turned out!  She has quilted 5 or so quilts for me and she does an amazing job!


The flannel backing, batting, and quilting combined to make one snuggly quilt! My daughter had a hard time letting me hand this one over! She begged me to make another quilt and let her keep it! haha


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Meet Betsy the Kitty


Last year, my kids and I were walking though a high-end boutique in the city with home goods and also the cutest little kids/baby section full of cute little clothes, toys, and decor. My middle kitty-loving gal found a little knit cat that was both adorable and very expensive. She begged and begged to let me let her use her hard earned money to buy it, but I just couldn't justify the price for what it was. She quietly put the kitty away and we moved on to another store. 
Fast forward several months... Her birthday was approaching and I was trying to come up with ideas of what to get her and I remembered the cat. I found a link online of where I could purchase the cat, but again- the price tag was too high for me to justify buying it for her. I was talking to my mom about it and showed her the cat and she said "That's cute, but I bet you could make one even cuter." I wasn't so sure I could pull it off, but I decided to try. (She plays the role of a mom well and always has faith in my abilities- even if I don't have faith in myself ;)


Like I said, the original cat was knit, so it was all one piece. I wanted mine to be similar but with my flair- and obviously made with fabric instead of yarn since I don't know how to knit! ;)
I used freezer paper to draft my pattern. I like using it because it's large paper on a roll, but also because once I draw a pattern on it, I can iron it to the fabric and cut the pattern out effortlessly. All in all, the pattern I drafted worked out pretty nicely- only a few moments in the construction that I was scratching my head with the design. ;)
(If I were to make the cat again, I wouldn't make her head so wide, or her neck so long. The peter pan collar was an afterthought to cover up the long necked awkwardness! Is this a giraffe or a cat?!? haha)

I used linen fabric (found at Joanns) for the body of the cat and embroidered the face with DMC floss. For the bow and collar, I used Liberty of London Betsy floral in gray. Robert Kaufmann Chambray for the dress, and some scraps for the placket and dress detail. 

I didn't calculate exactly what the project cost since I had a lot of the supplies on hand, but I can tell you it cost roughly less than 1/4 of the price of the cat in the boutique- plus it was made by momma so it's extra special. ;) 
I named her Betsy because of the Liberty of London Betsy floral  that I used to accent her outfit, but my daughter named her Buttons- which I think is very fitting as well. She's already a very loved little kitty!

Hope you're having a wonderful day!
Thanks for stopping by!
xoxo, Ashley 

Friday, August 3, 2018

How to Attach a Quilt Label to a Quilt


Quilt labels are the perfect touch to personalize a quilt.... But....
I'm usually so excited to just finish the quilt that I am working on, that I normally skip this step. I've come to realize that a label is important for many reasons though. 
#1- if you are giving the quilt as a gift, it really adds personalization because you can add a name, or a date, or an occasion for the quilt being gifted
#2- if you are keeping the quilt for yourself, you can add any details that you (or posterity) would like to remember for years to come. (for instance, back in 2012, I made Scrappy Trip Along quilt as part of a quilt along on instagram, so for that quilt I made a label that said "Scrappy Trip Along 2012". Original- I know! haha)

I personally love to make quilt labels that are embroidered. I usually stitch my words and then add fabric scraps from the quilt around the edges in some way- just to tie everything in.

I recently discovered Sulky printable sticky fabric-solve stabilizer for embroidery. It's pretty cool stuff. You can print right onto it, so you don't have to trace any patterns, you peel the back off, and stick it to the fabric. Then after you stitch, you soak it in water for a minute and the stabilizer disintegrates. Initially I was kinda skeptical about soaking my newly stitched label in water, but it totally worked. A word of cation though- The first time I tried it, I used a calligraphy sort of font that printed a lot of thick dark ink to for the letters, and then didn't follow directions to use the "draft" setting on the printer so that the ink would print lighter. BIG MISTAKE! Unfortunately some of the ink from the paper stained my fabric while I was soaking and resulted in the label looking slightly blotchy in spots. So make sure that you don't do that. The second time I tried it, I used a font that was thin and printed in the "draft" setting and had no issues.

So once my label is stitched, I trim the fabric down to the size I want and sew strips of fabric around the edges- in this case, a log cabin sort of design.
*side note: I did add a little fabric appliqué detail to the label- for the "8". I printed an 8 on reynolds freezer paper, ironed it to my fabric, cut out the 8 and then applied Pellon 805 Wonder-Under Fusible Web to iron/stick the appliqué to the fabric.

After the label block is finished, I iron the top and left side edge under 1/4" inch to give it a finished edge for stitching. The right and bottom raw edge will be covered by the quilt binding so you don't need to do those sides. 
Next, I pin the label on the back side of the quilt on the bottom right corner. I used a basting stitch and 1/8" seam allowance and baste the right and bottom edge of the label to the quilts edge. 


Then I used straight pins to hold the top and left side edge  in place and used a whip stitch by hand to attach the remaining two edges to the back of the quilt. I do this because I don't like to see where the quilt label is attached when looking at the front side, but if you don't mind you can totally use your machine and sew around all of the edges and be finished. The hand stitching those two edges doesn't take long, and I like the look of it better, so I don't mind the extra step.

 After the label is attached to your quilt, just attach your binding and bind as you normally would.

Voilà! You are done! A finished quilt with a cute little quilt label.



Hope this helps! Thanks for stopping by!
xoxo, Ashley

Friday, July 6, 2018

Seaside Oliver + S Messenger Bag

When it comes to darling fabric, Tasha Noel knocks it out of the park every time. Her newest line, Seaside, is no different. It just tugs at my nautical loving heart! I've been anticipating this collection since I saw it debut at quilt market! So, when Riley Blake asked me if I wanted to play with the collection and make something, I jumped at the chance.

If you've followed my blog for a while, you've probably noticed that I love to make bags.... and when I find a pattern that I like, I make it over and over again. I've made the Oliver + S Messenger Bag over 10 times now.  The pattern can be found in the Oliver + S Little Things to Sew book. I definitely recommend the book- even if its just for this pattern alone- but I've also made the Little Red Riding Hood and Tutu, and the Explorer Vest from the book as well.


I have two girls, so of course I had to make two bags. In the past, I made the small version of the pattern (for when they were 3 & 4 years old), so this time I opted to make the large size. One of the things I love most about this pattern is the gusseted pockets on the front of the bag when you lift the main flap up. Another unique thing is that the bag is edged in bias tape, so its just as cute as can be and very well constructed.



I used the Seaside Border print in Red for the exterior of the first bag. I love using panels for this pattern, because it really just gives the bag a custom look. I had planned to use one of the coordinating prints from the collection for the bias tape that edges the bag, but I had some navy floral from Tasha's previous collection A Little Sweetness, and I just couldn't resist from using the dainty floral to compliment the Seaside fabrics.


For the second bag, my oldest daughter wanted to have a little more say in the design of the bag. She picked out her favorite prints from the collection and asked for "patches" on the front of her bag. I used a quilt as you method (like I did for my weekender bags) for the main flap panel. She loved how it turned out and almost snatched the bag to use before I could snap a picture of it. (Big no no! ahhh... life of a blogger's kid. haha)



I think one of the cutest little details on the bags are the darling woven handmade tags on the strap of the bag that Tasha designed. I mean... come on! These little labels are just too cute to not sew them onto EVERYTHING I make now. ;)


PS- Be sure to hop over to my friend Amy's blog (Diary of a Quilter) and check out the darling Seaside Star Spangled Banner Quilt that she made.  I am so in love with anything Amy makes, and this patriotic + nautical beauty is just the cutest!

Thanks for stopping by!
xoxo, Ashley

Monday, June 25, 2018

Costco Playground Makeover

After returning home from deployment, my husband was able to take a couple weeks off. It was so much fun to spend all of that time together after being apart for so long. One of the things we did during his time off, was a playground makeover.

I had seen a couple ideas on IG of playground makeovers by Kirsten Krason and Jan Scarpino that are so amazing and had me totally wanting to make a custom playground for my kiddos. I thought for sure that I would pitch the idea to my husband and he would roll his eyes and say no way, but he was the exact opposite- SUPER EXCITED about it.
We headed to Costco and picked up the Cedar Summit Lookout Lodge playground set. It wasn't everything that I wanted in a playground set, and I really hated the green canopy, but my husband thought he may be able to make it into something I would love, so we bought it. (Plus it was $999 which was considerably less than the $1400 one that I had my eye on.) 
 We got it home and started making plans. We had leftover paint from when we built our home 3 years ago in our basement so that was covered. After a stop to Lowes for some extra wood to create the pergola instead of the canopy, we were good to go. 

We started by building the main "house part" that would be gray. Next, we primed it with Kilz primer. I am not gonna lie, about midway through painting the primer by hand I was second guessing myself and our decision to paint the playhouse. Holy Moly! It was a lot of work just to build the playhouse- plus painting it all was so much work. After we primed the main part, we got wise and used a paint sprayer for the rest of the main playhouse. 

Like I said, we used our leftover  Sherwin Williams Outdoor paint that our builder used on our home. 
(Gray: SW Dovetail Gray, White: SW Snowbound, Blue Door: SW Delicate Delia, Black Roof: Tricorn Black)
After we got the main part of the playhouse painted, we figured out which pieces would be the "deck and pergola" pieces and primed and painted each piece separated in our garage since the weather turned bad. There were a handful of  random pieces that needed to be painted gray as well. Then we primed and pained the roof black, and primed and painted the door blue.  All in all, we used one coat of primer and then two coats of exterior paint on every bit of the playground. I also used black spray paint to paint the door hinges and handle.
My husband made some adjustments to the construction of the "deck and canopy" portion of the playhouse and added the pergola he designed instead. It turned out even better than I thought it would. I was a little nervous that we would get it built and it would look like the pergola didn't mesh well with the overall playground design, but I totally think it looks like it was meant to be that way all along. He did such a great job!
I opted to leave off the clock and telescope, just because I wanted a more clean, fresh look. I didn't want to put on the plastic grill/sink but my husband and kiddos made an executive decision when I was out running errands one day.... haha! After some rain storms and the sink constantly full of yucky water, I may sneak out there and remove it when they aren't looking. 

All in all, I am just so happy with how it turned out. I love that it matches our house perfectly and that it isn't an eyesore in our backyard. In my little fantasy world, I would totally string lights on it and add a wreath and flower box to the window, but for now, I'm restraining myself and realizing that after all- it is just a playground. Maybe one day though. ;)

Thanks for stopping by! Hope this little project sparks some fun ideas. It's amazing what a little elbow grease and paint can do!

Have a great day!
xoxo, Ashley

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Hello Again...

Long time- I know! It's been over a year and a half since I posted, so I thought that now that the dust has settled a little, it was time to come back and say hi and let you know where I've been. (I don't even know if "blogging" is still a thing anymore?? It seems as though most people just enjoy snippets posted on IG.)


Four days after my last post, our third baby, and first boy was born. Y'all know I'm pretty private when it comes to my kids and the information I share about them, and I never post pictures of them- so you'll have to take my word for it- He's a handsome little guy and has my heart. There was an un-planned 6 year gap between our 2nd and 3rd child, so in a lot of ways it felt like I was having my first all over again. With both of my older girls in school, I've been able to enjoy a lot of one on one time with him. It's been so much fun. 

As expected, when a new baby comes, life gets turned upside down and there really isn't much time for hobbies, so sewing took a back burner and I focused my attention to my family and new baby. Life was perfect, I felt happier than ever before, and almost pinched myself at times to make sure it was real. ;)

When my baby was about 4 months old, we found out that my husband would be deploying for 10 months but that he wouldn't be leaving for another 6 months (he is a dentist for the Army). Those 6 months leading up to him leaving were torture for me. It was all I could think about. Every time a cute, sweet, or happy moment happened between my kids and husband, it brought tears to my eyes, just realizing the sacrifice my kids were going to make not having their daddy with them. The milestones that every parent looks forward to with their new baby- first words, first steps, etc- my hubby would miss out on being there for most of those.

I can remember that while I tried to process things in my mind, I'd sit down to sew- which has always been such a great creative outlet, stress reliever and fun time for me- and I would stare at the fabric for an hour, my mind felt blank. It was just so all consuming and I had no desire to create.

By the time he finally did deploy, I felt like it had plagued me for so long already that 10 months of having to be apart was just unfathomable. He left in June of 2016 and I spent most of that summer in Utah with family- just passing the time and getting that extra support. About a week before my kids started school, I came back to KC. In September and then again in December, my hubby and I were so blessed to be able to meet each other in Germany for 4 days each time (so quick, but so worth it). Those trips were the cherry on top of the curveball pie we were eating. I will forever be thankful for them!

I can tell you that this experience was one of the hardest things I've had to go through to date, but there were also priceless moments that we would have never had if we hadn't gone through it. I can also say that it's been very character building. We grew so much as a family, as a couple, and individually. It's one of those experiences that I hope I never have to go through again, but also am deeply grateful that I was forced to go through because of what it taught me and the ways that it opened my heart and eyes. Funny how trials do that for you, huh?


Before he left, I had always had such a great appreciation for the for the men and women of the military and their families and friends that sacrifice on a daily basis so that we can have the freedoms that we have. But it wasn't until I was in the position, to make the sacrifice myself, that I realized just how huge the sacrifice is and what those families got through. I'm thankful that so many are willing to serve and let their loved ones serve. I know there are so many that deploy over and over again, and many others that go through so much more than anything than we went through with having my husband deployed and it's just hard to wrap my mind around it. Again- I just feel so thankful for every sacrifice that is made for our country and freedom.

 My husband just returned home 3 weeks ago. He was gone 289 days, but weirdly enough it already feels like a distant memory. Life is so good, and we are so thankful to be together again!

I could write so many posts about the things that I learned and the ways that I grew, but I'll spare you. ;) I just wanted to let y'all know I was still here, and that I am easing back into projects and sewing. Just putting out feelers to see if Y'ALL are still here and if its worth posting every now and then? So let me know!

xoxo, Ashley

P.S. We are in the middle of a really fun makeover on a new cedar playground we got at Costco that I plan to share here. (we are painting it and making some easy upgrades to it to make it a little more "us".) I have also been doing some decorating in my house to pass the time while he was gone, so that could be fun to share too. Let me know if you're interested in that side of things or if you're just here for the sewing. ;)

P.P.S. While I didn't do a ton of sewing these past 10 months, I did share anything that I did do while he was gone over on my Instagram @crafterbynight