Inspiration from up north: Jill’s denim quilt

As I write this post, I’m sitting in a sparkling sunroom surrounded by windows on three sides and admiring the majestic greatness of a northern summer. I spent this past weekend in a small town near Madison, Wisconsin, visiting my brother Jason and future sister-in-law, Sarah. We spent the weekend celebrating Jason and Sarah’s recent engagement and new house in addition to my dad’s retirement from dentistry. I also visited the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the first time!


Wisconsin as seen via my iPhone — A new “You Are Here” Starbucks mug, the infamous
terrace chairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin Belgian Red cherry ale.

While I love my “Florida life,” spending time up north during the summer is always special. Everything feels just a little different outside of Florida – the grass is softer, the breezes cooler and the sounds reminiscent of my childhood summers in the Chicago suburbs. And of course, a change of scenery is always inspirational for a creative soul. I first realized this a few years ago when I wrote about some regional differences I noticed when visiting a fabric store in Northern Wisconsin.

On this trip, one of the first things I noticed in the guest bedroom at Jason and Sarah’s house was the denim quilt at the foot of the bed. I had a chance to ask Sarah’s mom, Jill, if she had made the quilt – and she had! The front side of the quilt is a jumble of patchwork squares taken from old pairs of blue jeans. The backside is lined with blue fabric to compliment the front.


Sarah’s family runs a dairy farm (I once visited the farm on Thanksgiving). I have a not-so-secret love of farms and livestock (especially sheep) so of course, I instantly adore anything originating from a farm. Knowing that this quilt was made from the same blue jeans that frolicked with baby calves makes me incredibly happy.

When I think about denim, I generally assume it’s all the same color – but a close look at the variety of shades represented in Jill’s quilt proves that’s not the case. I’m also impressed with how soft many of the denim patches are, when I typically think about denim being a rougher fabric. I assume that’s the result of many years of farm-family love and spins in the wash.


Of course, I’m not the only one who enjoys the quilt…


The quilt has been enjoyed by humans and puppies alike!


My initial thought was that I’ll never have the opportunity to make a quilt like this one because it’s too warm for someone living in Florida. But when Jill pointed out that it makes a great outdoor blanket – well, now I’m reconsidering. But it might take me awhile to stock up on that many pairs of blue jeans without a farm-frolicking family of five to contribute to the fabric pile. :)

Well, it’s time for me to pack up and catch a plane back to the sunshine state. Thanks for the inspiration, Jill, and the memories, Wisconsin!




How to start a new hobby (without going broke)

Did you know I’m obsessed with hobbies? Sewing aside, I’ve also participated endurance events, earned an advanced SCBUA certification and spent countless hours fiddling with my beloved DSLR camera.

2 copy

I’ll try almost anything – trampoline workout classes, indoor skydiving, surfing lessons or those trendy “let’s all paint an elaborate picture together while we drink wine” classes.

1 11.31.58 PM copy

And just when you thought I couldn’t be any weirder — it’s not unusual to find me juggling.

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Are you starting to get the picture? I LOVE HOBBIES.

But hobbies require so much STUFF! Stuff that costs money and takes up valuable real estate in my house. I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to stop going crazy buying new gear/supplies/toys every time I try something new. Recently, I wrote a guest blog post for The Simplified Life – The Official Blog of My One Resource about this very topic!

How to start a new hobby

This is the first time I’ve ever had the privilege to submit a guest post to another blog. Go check out my post, “How to start a new hobby (without going broke).” And then tell me about your favorite hobby in the comments section below. You never know – I might try your hobby next!







Finally-Finished-It Friday: Summertime Watermelon Bunting

Today’s “finally-finished-it Friday” post is brought to you by… sweet summertime watermelon bunting!

Sweet Summertime Watermelon Bunting

Last Halloween, I made some bunting inspired by candy corn. For Easter, I made bunting inspired by marshmallow Peeps. I started this project months ago – the idea has been in my head for awhile. All of those little pink triangles have been sitting on my cutting table since I abandoned them sometime during the spring. I finally decided to finish up so I’d still have a chance to enjoy this summer decor!

I used a variety of pink fabrics I had leftover from a yet-to-be-blogged-about baby quilt – gingham, polka dots and solid. The green was leftover from the infamous Elephants and Mustaches baby quilt.


I used ribbon to represent the “white” portion of the watermelon, and threw some Heat N Bond on the backside of some black fabric before free-handing the seeds. I ironed the seeds on without appliqué, which is unusual for me (I always appliqué after I iron something on) but there was no way I was going to stitch on all of those tiny seeds! You have to draw the line somewhere, and watermelon seeds are where I draw the line. ;)

Sweet Summertime Watermelon Bunting

I love the idea of having bunting for every season – or, even better, twelve months of bunting! Maybe I’ll get there someday. But for now, I can enjoy this sweet watermelon bunting for the rest of the summer.

Any ideas for a September-themed bunting? I’ll need a replacement between watermelon season and candy corn season!



It’s Tea Time!

Here’s a fun little project I recently whipped up for my coworker Sylvie. We’ve been “cube neighbors” for six months, but she was fulfilling a temporary assignment and her last day was this week. The office will definitely be a lot lonlier without her!

Every afternoon, Sylvie likes to partake in “tea time” – aka, a trip to our friendly neighborhood Keurig machine for a cup of tea. So when I saw a tutorial for a zippered teacup pouch, I immediately knew that I had to make one for Sylvie.

Teacup Zipper Pouch

If you’re wondering what the faux “tea bag” says, here’s another fun fact: Sylvie is French and often takes the opportunity to educate our office suite about French culture (mostly because we interrogate her with silly questions). So the tea bag says, temps de thé - aka, “tea time” in French. At least, that’s what the Google told me the translation was. Maybe it actually translated to something inappropriate and Sylvie just didn’t want to tell me… let’s hope that’s not the case!

Teacup Zipper Pouch - temps de the

I initially started following this Zippered Teacup Pouch tutorial on Chicken Soup Designs, but ultimately referred back to my favorite Zippered Pouch Tutorial on Make it Perfect because I’ve used it so many times and the concept is basically the same. I would highly recommend both tutorials. If you’re especially new to zipper pouches, you may want to try the basic version first.

Zipper Pouch Tutorials

Two wonderful zipper pouch tutorials on Chicken Soup Designs (zippered teacup pouch) and Make it Perfect (basic zippered pouch).

Now excuse me while I go brew up some tea!


Woohoo – biscornu!

I recently wrote about my roommate Katie – aka “Krafty Katie” – and her love of counted cross-stitch crafts. Well, never having tried cross-stitch myself, I could only watch her stitchin’ along for so long before I had to give it a whirl myself.

In searching for a pattern, I fell in love with Clouds Factory – a site with “parody” patterns that portray squishy little versions of beloved characters from TV shows and movies. After much debate, I decided I wanted to make a Snow White themed biscornu – an eight sided pincushion. (Side note: According to the oh-so-trusty Wikipedia, the word biscornu is french for skewed, quirky or irregular. Look at that, my blog is educational!)

My Instagram followers were privy to viewing the progress of my little pincushion… which took place over the course of two weekends and many episodes of The Mindy Project.

Snow White Biscornu Instagram Progress

This is what the front side looked like when I was done stitching!


And this is what the biscornu looks like when it’s all stitched up into a pin cushion.


Snow White Biscornu from Clouds Factory

Snow White Biscornu from Clouds Factory

Snow White Biscornu from Clouds Factory

I used a little gold heart button for the center…


I forgot to get a photo of the back side when it was still “flat,” but this is what the underside of the biscornu looks like. I decided to forgo a button on this side.


The best part about this project is that it turned into a fully functional item that I can actually use around the house. I currently sew in two different rooms – my sewing machine is at the secretary desk in my bedroom, but my cutting table and ironing board are in our spare room. I’m constantly moving between both rooms and have to carry my magnetic pincushion between the rooms as I use it to either add or remove pins from my projects. It’s not uncommon to see little piles of pins on my desk or cutting table if I’ve left the pincushion in one room or the other. Now I’ve got a pincushion for each room!

And here’s a fun fact – the week that I started this biscornu was the same week that I got to ride the brand new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom for the very first time! Do you think that magical moment contributed to my decision to stitch Snow White and friends? Hmmmm!

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

My next cross-stitch project is another one from Clouds Factory – here’s a sneak peek!

Suzy and Perla cross stitch

I’ll be sure to share the finished product when I’m done. But there’s no telling how long this might take – I’m currently juggling a lot of craft projects. What else is new!? ;)

Have a great weekend, everyone!



Krafty Katie

This is my roommate, Katie (and me, and mice). We’ve lived together for five years, going on six (sans mice).

Katie & Lindsay

I’ve lived with lots of roommates over the years. I just made a list of the number of roommates I’ve had since my freshman year of college, other than Katie. EIGHTEEN. So needless to say, I’m kind of an expert when it comes to roommates. Some of them were pretty awesome. Most weren’t even close to awesome. But Katie gets bonus points for a few reasons. For one, she’s stuck with me for this long. And two, she loves crafts as much as I do. (And three, she brought the best dog ever into our house, but that’s a story for another day because today we’re talking about crafts).


Katie loves crafts, but she doesn’t blog. I’ve tried to tell her she needs to write some guest posts for me. I told her that her moniker can be ‘Krafty Katie.’ She just laughs… but because I think she has some fun work to showcase – and because I know Katie’s mom reads my blog – this post is dedicated to Katie and some of her crafts krafts.

Katie knows how to use a sewing machine – apparently she used to sew vests when she was a wee little crafter. But she doesn’t regularly  machine-sew with me. A few years ago, I did get her to start making a jewelry roll (sidebar: this photo is so old that it showcases my very first sewing machine setup on the little TV tray in our tiny apartment.)

Sewing Crafty Roommate Katie

Katie and I initially bonded over Bucilla felt crafts. I actually didn’t know Katie was crafty until she found me making a felt Christmas stocking one year and ran to the store to get a kit for herself. We both grew up with Bucilla felt crafts in our houses (I had stockings at my house and Katie had ornaments) so we have a nostalgic Bucilla bond.

Since then, we’ve made a lot of Bucilla felt crafts around Christmastime. Last Christmas, Katie whipped up this magical wreath…


And she also finished up this sugar plum fairy stocking…


And this advent calendar is a current Bucilla work-in-progress, but probably won’t make an appearance again until next winter…


That’s just the tip-of-the-Bucilla-iceburg in our house, but our mutual love for crafts doesn’t end with felt crafts. Katie is also a cross-stitch guru. Recently, she’s been cranking out a ton of whimsical cross-stitch projects.

Including this sampler for her office at work by Tiny Modernist


An ode to her love of cupcakes by 4 Cupcake Addicted


Alice in Wonderland “We’re All Mad Here” by CloudsFactory (look for more about CloudsFactory in an upcoming blog post about my own cross-stitch adventures!)…


Disney Princesses by Pixels in Stitches… (I love Anna’s little feet!)


Pretty Little London by Satsuma Street (I really need this wonderful artist to create a Pretty Little Chicago!) …


And Katie’s latest and greatest – the 2014 Once Upon a Time Sampler by the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery – new patterns are released each month! My favorite is the ‘Princess and the Pea’ represented in the June box. See the little pea?


When Katie was a youngin’, she liked to cross-stitch onto sweatshirts. Thanks Katie’s mom for saving these sweatshirts and sending the photos! I think Jane Feline is my personal favorite…

Katie's Cross Stitch Sweatshirts

Last winter, Katie also learned to both crochet and knit (which is why I made her this awesome knitting bag for Christmas)… look at this sweater she made for Winnie!


From time to time, Katie even ventures into the world of glitter and glue. As she did last Halloween when she made these little witches. Eek.


Between the two of us, there’s an infinite number of threads and yarn clippings embedded in the couch cushions and carpet. Our biggest fear is that one day the vet will show us an x-ray of all the sequins built up in Winnie’s belly… double eek.

At the end of the day, I’m just glad that I have a pal to take to the craft store with me. Thanks for being krafty, Katie!





Mother’s Day: nailed it!

One of my earliest Mother’s Day memories is my dad taking me to the cosmetics section in the grocery store to choose a bottle of nail polish for my mom. I couldn’t help thinking about that as I constructed this year’s Mother’s Day gift – a small tote for my mom to carry her nail polish and related supplies around the house.

Some time ago, I was showing my mom all of the sewing projects I have pinned on my “Sewing (Someday)” Pinterest board and the Portable Manicure-Pedicure Kit tutorial on Positively Splendid caught her eye, which made it really easy to choose what to make for Mother’s Day.

This is what it looks like folded up – a strap with a Velcro tab keeps it securely closed.


And this is what it looks like opened up and filled with some manicure essentials! There are some little elastic straps in the middle to hold a nail file (or any other equally scary accessory that you don’t want flying all over the place).


There are lots of little pockets for nail polish and things…


One of the larger pockets houses a little folded mat to lay down while using nail polish (no more searching for newspaper or magazines!)


I used some fusible vinyl leftover from Joe’s boxy “man bag” on the top side of the mat. See that magical vinyl shine?


This project was really easy – so easy, actually, that I almost confused myself when I would try to make each step harder than it needed to be. I’m used to constructing bags that require a lot of “right sides together, sew, turn” type of stuff – the idea of putting the final pieces “wrong sides together” and attaching using bias tape seemed entirely too simplified.

However… I did not enjoy working with the bias tape. I’ll work with it in the future if I have to, but I won’t be adding it to projects on a whim. I found it very difficult to make the trim look nice, even after searching the internet for tips and watching some YouTube videos. I used my seam ripper at least three separate times to pull it out and start over again. In the time it took to make the bias tape look nice, do you want to know how many times I could have just sewn right-sides-together, turned, pressed and top-stitched? Lots!

I also stitched a matching card, ’cause that’s how I roll!


This little tote would be great for other little items as well – hair accessories, craft items, toy cars, etc! Just be sure you know what you’re getting yourself into when you venture into the world of bias tape. ;)


PS – As usual, Winnie crashed the photo shoot. Here’s an amusing ‘behind the scenes’ shot!




‘Shaving’ the best project for last!

I ‘mustache’ you – have you ever seen a stitched greeting card? I ‘shaved’ this project for last…

Ha  ha ha.

Just when you thought I was done talking about “Mustaches + Elephants,” I have one more little nugget to share!

A few hours before my friend Amanda’s baby shower in which I planned to present her with the legendary Mustaches & Elephants Quilt, I decided to make a card to match the quilt. Since Amanda’s baby shower was mustache-themed, I wanted to go the mustache route (sorry, elephants).


I used some of the green fabric leftover from the quilt, but not the actual mustache or elephant fabrics – I didn’t want to give away the awesome mustache-elephant combo surprise before Amanda actually opened the quilt!

Stitching onto paper is ridiculously easy and strangely satisfying. I used some fusible web on the back of the fabric and left the paper in tact when cutting out the shapes – it’s so much easier to cut with the paper backing. I left the paper on the shape and used a few microscopic dots of Elmer’s glue to hold the shape in place on the card. And then I stitched as usual. I had to construct in “layer” order from bottom to top – glue and stitch the green shape, then glue and stitch the mustache.

The fun part about these cards is that you can see the stitching on the inside – so the recipient knows the stitching is legit!



A few years ago, I stitched a few Christmas cards, but never got to blog about them here. At that time, I’d bought a giant pack of 50 blank cards and only used about three of them. So needless to say, I have a lot of cards leftover… I see a lot of card making in my future!


Behind the Scenes: Mustaches + Elephants

I recently wrote about a “Mustaches and Elephants” themed rag quilt I made for a friend’s baby shower – check out the original post here! Now I want to write about the quilt a bit more and share some of the technical information. It’s not as exciting as the story behind the quilt, but it will likely be of use to you if you’re looking to make a baby-sized rag quilt yourself!

Mustache and Elephant Rag Quilt

The hardest part about this project was figuring out what size I wanted the quilt to be. Every tutorial out there recommends different measurements and I had a hard time visualizing each size. I saw a rag quilt sample hanging up at the fabric store that looked like a good size, so I counted the number of squares and measured one of them with my hand to make my final decision… when I got home from the store, I had to measure my hand. My methods are very scientific. ;)

Here are the final measurements that I went with… I really liked the final size and will stick with these measurements when I make this quilt in the future! Keep in mind that these are just the measurements that worked for me, so let me know if you have any additional suggestions or methods that work for you.

Rag Quilt Size Measurements for Baby

I wanted a random pattern layout, so I used Photoshop to create a quick mock-up of the quilt and rearranged the squares that way (you could easily replicate this process using graph paper and colored pencils if you’re not Photoshop savvy!). If you’d like to make this quilt using four different fabric types as I did, feel free to copy the layout below! It’s actually quite funny how difficult it is to create the “perfect” random layout. Comparable to creating the “perfect” messy bun in your hair. ;)Quilt Layout

Once I had that work behind me, piecing the rows together went really fast. I didn’t have to waste time fretting about where each square was supposed to go. And if I ever make this same quilt in the future – 48 squares with 4 different fabrics – I’ll be able to use the exact same layout.

I love the way this quilt turned out and will definitely be making it again in the future! With my next rag quilt, I’ll be sure to take lots of photos throughout the process so I can create a tutorial of my own.

Please let me know if you have any baby quilt measurements that have worked for you – and leave a comment if you decide to give these measurements a whirl. I would love to see your finished products!









Mustaches + Elephants

I’ve really been looking forward to writing about this project! Mostly because I get to title it “Mustaches + Elephants.” What do mustaches and elephants have in common? Read on, my friend!

My friend Amanda – 8 months pregnant – told me that she and her hubby were having a hard time settling on a theme for their baby boy’s room and the crafty portion of my brain started racing! Amanda had visions of  whimsical baby elephants and her husband Josh had visions of mustaches.

Mustaches vs elephants

Mustaches? Yep. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Mustaches are “in” right now! A quick search for “mustache baby” on etsy will bring up mustache themed nursery decor, bibs, shower invitations and onesies.

I tried to convince Amanda that she could combine the mustache and elephants theme, but I’m pretty sure she thought I was crazy.

Mustaches on elepants

Amanda and Josh have since decided to run full speed ahead with the mustache theme, but I was not about to let the elephant dream die. Maybe you can see where this is going…

I made a “Mustaches and Elephants” quilt! Because one of the most wonderful things about sewing is customization. The ability to make a project be whatever you want it to be. Even if the combination is as obscure as “mustaches and elephants.”

I’m proud of my fabric selection for this project – I think it might be one of my favorites! Obviously, the mustache fabric was the most limited selection, so I had to work around that one first. I ordered it online and took a swatch to the fabric store to find the rest. Yes, I was the crazy lady with a swatch of mustache fabric in her purse.

Mustaches and elephant fabric selections

If you’ve never made a quilt, I would highly recommend a rag quilt for a starter project! The concept is incredibly simple. Somewhat time consuming (as any quilt would be) but it’s mindless enough that you can easily watch movies while you work.

The cool thing about rag quilts is that they gain more character every time you wash them, causing the exposed seams to fray a little bit more – which makes them perfect for babies. Because babies are messy (or so I’ve heard)… I’d imagine this quilt will need to be washed often!

Mustaches and Elephants rag quilt

Another cool things about rag quilts is that they have the “rag” look on one side, but the other side looks like a typical quilt, giving the end user multiple display options. Yes… I just used the phrase “end user.” I’m a dork.

Mustache and Elephant Rag Quilt

The finished quilt looks so tiny here! But it measures approximately 33″ x 44″ (“ish” … I didn’t actually measure the final product). It’s a great size for a baby!

Mustache and Elephant Rag Quilt

Amanda’s baby shower was yesterday and the quilt was a hit! Now we just have to wait for that sweet baby boy to arrive so he can see it, too. ;)

I’ll write a separate post about how I decided on the size and layout for this quilt, and I’ll also share the exact measurements I used. I started writing it all in this post and it just got too technical. For now, I just wanted to focus on the magic of the quilt!

Stay tuned!