Squirrel quilt is DONE!

Snoopy approved

This is for Baby “Squirrel”, a little boy or girl we expect to arrive any day! Knowing how hard it was to find a squirrel invite for Squirrel’s baby shower, I was shocked that I was able to find Kate Spain’s Central Park fabric including this adorable SQUIRREL!


I blogged earlier about my process and progress on the squirrel quilt at This week’s project. I should have taken a picture of when I was quilting, because there was one point where I was forcing nearly the entire bulk of the quilt through that SMALL area to the right of Flossy’s (the sewing machine’s) needle – it was ridiculous.

But the end result of fighting through the quilting is this zig-zag pattern, that you see better on the soft minky side of the quilt (I want a blanket made of this stuff! In the words of the little girl from Despicable Me, “it’s so fluffy!”)

Zig Zag

I’m so excited to send this off to Squirrel’s parents.

The SECOND quilt

I’m working on the binding for the brown/yellow/blue quilt (I call it the “squirrel” quilt for reasons that will be apparent very soon!), here’s a look at a quilt I finished last month.


Lots of friends are having babies right now, so I’m using their kids as a chance to practice…


I had a quilting kit from Joann’s that I thought would be perfect for a gender-neutral quilt. Except I found the pattern quite boring – a border of squares around a big solid center. I also found that I didn’t like some of the fabrics in the quilt, as least not for use here. Finding the BUYING of fabric to be most favorite part of quilting, I’d already started building a stash, so the entire top was fully a stash-busting effort. I decided to go with a simple strip piecing, and cut a bunch of 3″ strips that I pieced together, and I had the top basically finished in 2 days. I found this happy background fabric, which carried over the bubble/dot theme that was most prominent on the front.

Happy dots

Then I broke out the free motion foot. I did some practicing, found a groove, and quilted nearly the entire top in one night in this strange variation of a stipple. I’d like to get better (MUCH better) at it, but I was really happy with the first attempt. Within 2 nights, the quilt was quilted, and then it was just a matter of binding. I believe I’m the world’s SLOWEST binder (hand sewing takes me FOREVER), but I’m not yet confident enough that I can pull off a machine-binding technique.

I had hoped to finish the quilt in time for the baby shower, but I was about 10 inches short of finishing the binding when the day came around. So I wrapped the quilt up with a note that I was going to take it home and finish it!! The parents are super efficient, so I actually had the THANK YOU note for the quilt before I had it in the mail to them! (In my defense, the TY note arrived 2 days after the shower. The quilt – washed and ready – went out on the 3rd day).

Here’s the finished product:

Snoopy tested and approved


This week’s project

Beginning of the cutting

It’d been a little bit of time since I had the sewing machine out. Between prepping for an out of town meeting and being out of town, I was up to almost 2 weeks of no sewing. I was really looking forward to getting back (I have this fear that I’ve forgotten how to free motion quilt, but we’ll get to that one later) and getting something done. Top priority: the quilt for the baby coming in April. I found the fabric a couple of months ago, so once I decided on a pattern, I was ready to go. Not being too satisfied with my improv piecing abilities, I decided on a block-based square based on a quilt I saw on the internet. I did some calculations and started cutting.

The cutting is complete

Sunday morning, I wake up and it’s a little rainy, so I proceed to cut some more and get everything ready. You can see all of my nice little piles, with post it notes and counts, lined up on my ironing board waiting for me. This is definitely one of the bigger lessons I’ve already learned – PLAN out the quilt, cutting and all. If only I were this organized in all aspects of my life!!

Starting to come together

During the evenings this week, I sewed pieces together in bunches. My favorite time (and thread!) saving trick is to chain the various pieces together by not cutting the thread after I complete the stitching of each piece. I just pull a bit of extra thread and put the next piece in… The picture above shows a chain in progress of my 30 blocks. And my trusty little machine. Her name is Flossy.

A couple of nights ago, I actually finished piecing the entire top, so all that’s left now is basting it all together and quilting. I’ve decided to go with a geometric zigzag – I hope I can pull it off! More pics to come . . .


For a person who works with the Internet . . .

This shouldn’t be that hard!  Instead of quilting, catching up on work, doing my taxes, or unpacking from last week’s trip, I just spent who knows how long trying to figure out how to make this page work the way I want it to . . . almost.  I guess it’s a work in progress, just like my quilting!

Speaking of works in progress, here’s my first quilt top.

First quilt top

I made this with those 10 yards for $20 find on the day I decided to start quilting.  It’s a pattern from great little book with great pics and a few beginner patterns, called Quilting Made Simple.  Of course, it’s the most intricate pattern in the book, but I didn’t let it stop me.  As I was piecing the top together, at every step I’d run into the next room and show Niels the strip or block or row I’d just completed …  Again, he’s patient with me!

This is also the quilt that I spent hours pulling stitches out of when I wound up gathering the back together in my first attempt at quilting with my walking foot. . .   Since then, I’ve been avoiding it. Ergh. But I think I’l be more willing to experiment with piecing together something interesting for the back when I return to this piece – some random offsets of black, red and white will really complement the front better than the flat yellow I picked out.

A completed quilt!

My favorite model

After completing a couple of quilt tops and getting the basics of piecing down (pictures of those to come – they are still works in progress) I decided it was time to make a gift.  It also gave me my first chance to make a quilt with SNOOPY.  My cousin – with whom I share a love of Snoopy – was expecting her second child.  Benjamin has since joined the world, but at the time, we didn’t know if he was a boy or a girl, so I tried to keep the colors neutral.  I think I learned a LOT about color design ideas from seeing the finished product . . .

I did some searching online for modern baby quilts, and decided I really liked this framed block look.  I did some calculations, came up with my cuts, and proceeded to my trusty cutting mat.  After getting the blocks together, I had my first challenge piecing it together.  My design wall is actually my design floor.  My biggest critic (and fan!), Niels, kept suggesting ways to make some order and symmetry out of the top.  All I knew was that I wanted it random.  We compromised on having each of the corner squares framed in the same blue.  So then I started putting it together.

Snoopy approves

Here it is in process.  My ironing board is behind my sewing chair.  On the other side of the ironing board is our guard dog, a five foot Snoopy.  He seems to be happy with my progress.  And yes, Niels is quite patient.  Not only does he not object to the five foot stuffed animal in our dining room . . .  he’s been fairly relaxed about the whole “our dining room is now a sewing room” thing.

Once I finished the quilt top, I stopped.  My one previous attempt at using my walking foot on something bigger than a placemat ended with about an hour of stitch pulling after the fabric gathered together.  I was scared.  I signed up for a free motion quilting class (more on that later) and tried to gather the courage to finish the quilt.  Benjamin was born the weekend of the free motion quilting class, so the time pressure to complete it before he was born – gone.  Phew.

When I got home from the class, I practiced free motion quilting.  And practiced.  But I was still gun shy.  So I broke the walking foot back out, used a lot of pins for the basting, and remembered by previous error of not starting in the center.  I used a Sulky Blendable in a green-blue-yellow for the top (I’ve also given up on the monofilament thread that breaks in my machine) and went for it.  Relying on my trusty quilting guide, I wound up with this grid pattern, leaving the center blocks untouched.  I love the way it looks on the back.  Onto my first binding exercise, I found the fabric I had the most of from the top, and when at it, throwing in a little bit of brown for some interest.  Though I’d read about the hand sewing to finish the binding, I hadn’t realized what a big job it was!  Hours and hours later (and appreciating the wonders of the thimble), I finally finished.  I was so excited when I saw how FINISHED the binding looked – I didn’t know I could make something that looked so orderly and neat!

I crossed my fingers, threw it into the washing machine, and hoped it would stay intact.  It did!  Even Niels was impressed with how it looked when it came together.  I was so proud!  I proceeded to my first photo shoot in the front yard.  I couldn’t keep Snoopy off it.  I sense you’ll see him in more shoots.  I do have to figure out how to take some good pics of my work. . .   So the quilt was sent to its new home, and I gained so much confidence.

The back

The back - a good view of the grid

Benjamin's front

The finished front - Snoopy and all

I did what?

As I was enjoying dim sum on a Saturday morning, I was kinda surprised when the phrase “I think I want to learn how to quilt” came out of my mouth as I was talking to my friend Erin.  Sure, the idea had been rolling around in my mind for a bit, but I’d had ideas like this before.  The sewing machine sitting in my closet for 4 years?  Afraid to use it.  I didn’t even know I could sew a straight line, let alone put a whole quilt together.  I’d watched my mom sew, and spent plenty of time in fabric stores with her (mostly in search of the newest Snoopy fabric – she makes me an apron or pajamas out of all new releases!) but hadn’t quite picked up too much of how to actually make anything.

So what did Erin and I do?  The most logical thing ever – we headed into the depths of the LA fabric district in search of fabric to make a quilt.  Focus on the word “fabric” – I didn’t even know what kind of fabric I needed!  We ventured into one of Erin’s favorite stores for buying fabrics for making clothes, and the owner took pity on me.  She explained that I needed to start with a decent weight cotton.  We trudged on, finally found some fabrics that I didn’t think were heinous, and picked up 10 yards for $20.

Then I ventured to JoAnn’s, found a quilting book, cutting mat and rotary cutter and various other things.  Would I actually use this stuff?  Who knew?

And that’s how it all began, one sunny Saturday in October.