December 11, 2014

Broken Herringbone Quilt: Work in Progress Part 5 (Final Part!)

For the FINAL installment in my Broken Herringbone Quilt series, we pick up where we left off in Part 4, and move on with the actual quilting and binding for this amazing quilt.

First, lay the quilt top on the batting.  Leave a good size excess past the quilt top in each direction (in this case, 2-3").  Trim excess past that.

Trimmed to make it manageable to work with but still leave extra.  As I quilt from the center outward, the quilt top will expand a bit so I need to know I'll have batting to quilt onto by the time I reach the edges.

Flip the quilt top and batting over and lay down the backing fabric.  For this quilt I just wanted a crisp white back.  I had to cut two pieces of fabric and sew them together to get the right length/width for my lap quilt.  The yardage just wasn't wide enough on its own straight from the bolt, and this is pretty common.
Fold the fabric in half over itself and spray the batting with spray adhesive. Carefully lay the backing fabric onto the sprayed portion of the batting, and repeat for the other side.  Flip the quilt over gently and spray the quilt top into place as well.

I didn't use adhesive on my first quilt and I can say it did make a difference while it retained its stick.  I took weeks to quilt this bad boy, though, so by the end the adhesive had worn off.  Maybe it's because I used this tacky spray instead of one specifically made for quilting.

Sprayed and smoothed out.  Now we pin!

It helps a lot to use these curved safety pins that reach down into the layers and then come back up so smoothly, rather than a straight safety pin.

I pinned in most of my herringbone rectangles, but I ran out of safety pins.  This proved troublesome later so I recommend you invest in a mountain of safety pins so you can pin each square/rectangle in your pattern.  You don't want things stretching out of place as you quilt.

Make sure your pins go all the way through the layers, too!  I'd periodically flip the quilt to make sure I saw them peeking through the backing fabric.

And now the quilting can commence!  I was delighted to realize I did in fact have a quilting foot that came with my sewing machine.  Especially with this pattern, the quilting foot was a LIFESAVER.  You can go in any direction without having to constantly stop, move the back button, restart, etc.

Laying out the quilt and starting in the middle of the quilt.  All the tutorials I read stressed how important that is.  So starting in the middle, I began tracing the white lines in my herringbone pattern.  I want that blank white back of the quilt to show the herringbone pattern clearly!

I've also learned to roll the excess quilt that I've already sewn or haven't yet sewn into this neat bundle under the sewing machine.  Just keep rolling/unrolling as you work and it makes that volume of fabric more manageable.

A little sneak peak of how tracing the herringbone pattern on the quilt top translates on the back of the quilt.

Quilting done!  Ermahgerd!  Time to trim the leftover batting, which you can see was pretty much what I started with.  Hmm.  Not sure if the stretching that takes place while quilting is as dramatic as I thought it was, but oh well.  Not a bother at all. :)

This point is so deceptive.  It's super exciting because it's SO CLOSE to done, but binding is no small feat.  Sigh.  Onward march.

I'm binding the fabric in navy blue, and I've already cut 5 strips that are 3" wide, and as long as the width of my lap quilt (WOF).  I need to attach the pieces end-to-end perpendicularly.  So step one is to attach the ends at an angle like this and pin in place.

Then draw a straight line across the diagonal where they meet.  Stitch in navy thread to be all coordinating and feel overly proud of yourself.

Cut off the part past your seam, leaving about 1/4" past the seam.

When you unfold, the strips are now attached at a diagonal.  My strips never lined up perfectly but I guess it's no big deal as you walk through the folds and everything that takes place with binding.

Once the strips are all sewn together, it's time to fold them in half (definitely iron so the fold stays put) and pin them in place along the edge of the quilt, raw edge lining up with the raw edge of the quilt.  You'll have a lot of excess binding at the beginning and end.

Just kind of pin that excess out of the way.  You'll need to carefully sew the beginning and end to each other when you finish up.  I have no hope of explaining that process well myself, so I'll just direct you to the tutorial I used here.

Once that's done you sew along the edges (1/4" seam allowance), and fold the fabric over to the back.  Hand stitch in place.

AND THEN YOU'RE DONE!  Eeeee!  Look at that herringbone design all over the back.  Ahhh.

Close up!

The quilt is done!  Time dance around the kitchen like a crazy person.  Post to FB about 2 seconds later.

I seriously love this quilt so much.  It looks beautiful and colorful and I love the patterns.  It's a great size for my 4-year-old son to snuggle up with, or even little me for that matter.  For my tall husband it just covers his lap when he's lounging on the couch and that's fine.  Big pat on my back for this one, and a mental note to enter it in the fair next summer. ;)

November 22, 2014

Ornament Wreath


I have been wanting an ornament wreath for years now.  Each fall/winter I see Pinterest blow up with these awesome looking wreaths, but I can never find inexpensive shatterproof ornaments to do it myself.  I'm also not ok with shelling out $100 for one of these store bought guys.  This year, I finally found it- $5 for a set of 12 shatterproof ornaments at Bed Bath & Beyond.  Yes!!!  And of course once I clued in to the term "shatterproof" I saw tons of listings on Amazon to get anywhere from 60 to 100+ of these bad boys.  Anyway, now that I'm in the know, I'm happy to share my great wreath with you.


  • 4-6 dozen shatterproof ornaments
  • 2-3 dozen mini ornaments
  • Foam wreath form
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Knife
  1. Cut hole in wreath form large enough to fit the top of your large shatterproof ornament into (the part you normally put the hook in).  Put a dab of hot glue in the hole, and set the top of the ornament into the hole.  Hold a minute to set.  Repeat times a gajillion until the wreath form is evenly covered in larger ornaments.
  2. Hot glue a circle around the top of a mini ornament and glue into gaps between the large ornaments.  Repeat times a gajillion until gaps are well filled in.
  3. Hang!  Bow optional. :)
This really isn't a complex project.  The key is to varying the placement of your ornaments so they have a pretty organic flow and don't look like perfectly lined up rows of ornaments.  You want them to look random and bubbly, and you use those small ornaments to fill in the spaces so you don't see your wreath form underneath.  That's it!

First layer down.  Looking good!  The base is well covered, I alternated red and silver, shiny and matte, and the inner part of the wreath out to the edge.

Now we've got the mini ornaments layered on to fill in those gaps.  I even pulled out and rearranged and added more of the larger ornaments as I went.

Mini Ornament Christmas Tree


This is such a super cute, easy project you can do in less than 30 minutes.  A friend and I each made these at our recent Christmas crafting Pinterest party, and I love the end result.  This is a great decoration for the holidays, and I think it would even be a special gift.  Lots of wow for the beginning crafter.  :)


  • 2-3 dozen mini ornaments
  • Picture frame or other solid surface
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Optional: Star ornament for the top of the tree, cut branch or twig for your tree stump, scrapbook paper presents under the tree, paint words onto the glass, draw on the glass with sharpie, etc.
  1. Remove the toppers from all of your mini ornaments.  Lay out ornaments in your pattern, arranging colors, matte vs shiny, etc. to get nice variation in your tree design.
  2. Hot glue the top of each ornament and glue onto the glass of your picture frame.  Hold in place a couple seconds until it sets.  Repeat until all ornaments are glued in place.
THAT'S IT!  Seriously, it can't get much easier than that!  Yes your ornaments will roll around a bit as you get things in place, and yes you may get some off-centered situations going, but it's all ok.  This craft is all about simplicity and not over complicating things.  Love it and display with pride!


Decorate a Pillowcase with Stamps and Paint


I was in Michael's a while back and saw these great key stamps, and I somehow got it stuck in my head that I'd love a pillow covered in a pattern with those stamps, and maybe some C monograms.  And a bird cage, because why not?  I didn't know how I'd make it work, but that idea percolated in the back of my head and with time, I got to this point!  Turns out you can paint designs on fabric and they'll actually set and turn out really well.  Who knew?!  So let me walk you through how I got this lovely pillow. :)

  • 1/2 yard fabric (or more, depending on the size of the pillow you'll be covering).  Pro tip: check out the remnants bin at the fabric store.  I scored this super soft fabric for a fraction of the cost.
  • Craft paint
  • Rubber stamps
  • Paint brushes
  • 3/4" wide Bias tape- enough to trim all around your pillow (for this one it was ~48")
  • Cording- same length as your bias tape
  • Coordinating thread and sewing notions
  1. Pre-wash and iron fabric.  Lay out fabric on a covered work surface.  When you stamp and paint, it may bleed through the fabric.
  2. Dip rubber stamp in paint and stamp a couple times on a paper towel or rag to remove excess ink.  Stamp smoothly and evenly on pillowcase fabric, then lift gently.  Repeat.  I recommend you do a few stamps before dipping back in the paint, so you get variation in the stamped images.  With very bold graphic stamps, though, I think a pattern with saturated images could be really great, so just let your eye determine how much or little paint to stamp with.  I also alternated between dipping my stamp in the paint and using a paint brush to brush paint onto the stamp.  Don't ask me why- it just felt right. :)
  3. Use paint brushes to add accents such as my large bird cage, text, lines, dots, etc.  Let me be very clear that I am not an artist by any stretch, but that bird cage came out pretty decently, didn't it?  I always recommend googling some pictures or other artwork to use as a guide if you're feeling wary of this step, and know you're always your own worst critic.  The end result is going to be pretty great overall so don't sweat this part!
  4. Cover at least half of the pillowcase fabric with your stamp and painted pattern.  If you want the whole pillow case covered (for front and back), go for it!  Let paint dry completely.
  5. Lay out bias tape.  If you want to make your own like I did, I recommend this great tutorial on cutting it, sewing it, and even making piping.  I also like this blog post for attaching your pieces together.
  6. Place cording in the center of your bias tape, fold over bias tape, and sew the cording in place.  This makes great piping for your pillow!  Credit to crazy little projects for their piping tutorial. :)
  7. Cut fabric to size of your pillow form.  Lay one side of the pillow right side up and pin your piping along the edges (the piping will lay on the fabric, not extending past it).  Pin and sew the piping edge to edge to the pillowcase fabric.
  8. Lay the other half of your fabric right side down, pin in place, and sew along 3 of the 4 sides.
  9. Turn pillowcase right side out and poke out corners fully.  Insert pillow form and hand sew the final edge together.  Admire!
Getting started!  Fabric laid out on magazines, paint and stamps ready to go.  Never mind the spots on the fabric- they're still a little damp from ironing.

Stamped, painted, and waiting to dry.  So awesome!

I opted to try making my own bias tape.  It was surprisingly not so bad!  I used this great you tube tutorial to watch how it's done.  I don't know why but this British girl in her kitchen makes me happy.
Basically you just fold one corner of your fabric up to the other, making a triangle, and you cut a nice strip along the fold.  If you need additional length, you measure out and cut another strip parallel to the first.  Then connect.  Easy peasy!

Why didn't I nab a picture when I sewed the cording inside the bias tape?  Ah well.  Here we have the assembled piping pinned in place- loose edge lined up with the loose edge of my pillowcase fabric.  Note this is the "good" side of my fabric, just left plain for the back of the pillowcase.

Piping sewn in place, I then lay my decorated half of the fabric right side down on top.  Pin, then sew 3 of the 4 sides.

All sewn up.  Time to turn inside out, stuff in my pillow form, and sew it up!

Complete!  Ahhh, so satisfying. :)

November 15, 2014

Copycat Pottery Barn Glitter House

Continuing my trend of redoing Pottery Barn decor for a fraction of the price, I bring you my $2 glitter house!  That's right- instead of spending $30-$40 for a flimsier version from Pottery Barn, you can make your own sparkly gorgeous glittery houses for just a couple dollars each.
I first fell in love with the idea of a snowy white gingerbread house when I saw an adorable pin on Pinterest a couple years ago.  The link it went to is now defunct, but you can still see the picture here.  This has been at the back of my mind since, and when I came across a super cute plain gingerbread house at Michael's, it all started to come together.


  • Unpainted wood house from Michael's (usually ~$5; take advantage of sales and coupons to get it for just $2)
  • White craft paint
  • Mod podge
  • Fine white glitter
  • Clear spray paint
  1. Paint the whole house with white paint.  Let dry.
  2. Coat in Mod podge, small sections at a time, and sprinkle with glitter before glue dries.  Let dry all over.
  3. Spray with clear spray paint to set the glitter, so it doesn't come off every time you touch the house!
Suggestions: Add small bottle brush trees, use silver glitter for accents like the roof and windows, hand paint designs in contrasting colors like green or gray.

Ooooo.  Aaaahhhh.

November 13, 2014

Bookshelf Makeover

Welcome to today's edition of things that you didn't know you were doing wrong until Pinterest told you so.  This edition faces the dilemma of bookshelf styling.  What's that?  You didn't know this was a think?  Oh you dear thing.  If you've been on Pinterest at all, then sooner or later I'm sure you've come across tips for styling your bookshelf to look worthy of a magazine.  Typically, that means removing all of your books, or organizing them by size, color, with the spines turned around (no, really), or some other bizarre treatment that may look nice but renders the shelf useless for storing books you actually, you know, read.
Thankfully I did come across a couple blogs that explain why some setups look cluttered while others look nice and appealing.  Furthermore, they showed how to apply these principles of balance, vertical and horizontal space, and grouping with shelves full of real life books.  Brilliant!  I applied those general rules and got a great end result with the bookshelf in my living room.

Before: A Mess
Before, I didn't know why the shelf felt messy but it just did.  Turns out there were some general design things to explain this feeling.  There were a lot of spots where things were all too similar.  They threw off the visual weight of things.  Mixed in with the obvious no no of toys were the messy spots, again close together, without any sense of balance or feeling of intent.  They looked disheveled because they were- spots to toss books whenever.  Lastly, I wouldn't have thought it, but the "plain" cubes with just books and nothing else were throwing things off, too.  You don't need tchotchkes in every cubby but you do need to spread the love with the empty spots, not concentrate them all in one area of the shelf.

So to get started with the clean up, I took out all the toys and put them in the playroom, where they belonged.  Then I took off all of the non-book items.  I set aside the Halloween stuff and put it back in bins until next fall.  I needed the default look of this shelf when not decorated specifically for a holiday.  Then I went cube by cube and started pulling out books in chunks to stack on their sides, or to double up rows of books, put some behind objects and use others to prop up on either side of a stack.  I did this bit by bit, layering in the accessories as I went, going over it a couple times and rearranging to get the final, balanced and clean looking product.

Ta da!

So why does this setup work so much better?  Let's break it down by a few simple rules.

Vertical height.  You need the height to go up and down in some nice progressions, giving the eye some spots of interest to catch and move on from.  You end up creating a series of triangles in the layout of objects, and when you see that these triangles are varied all through the shelf, it's working.
This variations aren't just vertical height, either- horizontal depth is important, too.  You need layers, so sometimes this is by pushing the books far back and placing something in front of them, like an old camera or a stack of books on their side.  Other times, it's pushing the books just to the middle of their cube so they're at a different depth than their neighbors.  The mirror in the back of one spot does this to a whole other degree as well.

Lastly, I balanced the blank space throughout the shelf instead of all at the bottom.  Much better!

And there we have it.  Nice, pleasing bookshelf makeover while keeping ALL of my books on the shelves!  I'll do a future holiday edition when I gussy it up at Christmas time. :)

November 6, 2014

Broken Herringbone Quilt: Work in Progress Part 4

For today's update, I am very excited to show you the result of piecing together all of those T blocks of fabric!  In the last update, I had most of the top half of the quilt done, but not connected.  I've been busy since then, even though I haven't been updating.  I finished all 5 columns (even the earlier columns needed more work, adding on to length to get a good lap size quilt).  Last night I finished connecting all the columns to each other to get the quilt front DONE!  I trimmed the edges, and am now ready to start basting.  And no, it's not coating my quilt in gravy.  How many times do you think that joke has been made by quilting bloggers?  Oh well.  Just like my newfound joy with the phrase "stitch the ditch," I get to make bad quilting jokes for the first time, too.

So here's how it looked along the way:

First few columns completely connected.  Wow!

I must note, though, that with the first column I did try filling in the gaps with little triangles as I mentioned in my last post.  My conclusion?  That is not the way to get nice edges to the quilt.

All those tiny scraps and sewing tiny triangles and just tiny annoying not matching up-ness all around.  Way too much of a headache.  I left that first column in place and resolved I would simply trim down the other three sides to get straight edges, rather than fuss with fill pieces.  Because I only have so many sanities in my brain and I need to keep them.

Next up: showing how to connect the columns.

All lined up next to each other to show you where they connect.

Close up!  See which pieces connect up?

Here's another way to show which pieces get connected.

And then poof- everything all sewn to each other!

Once the columns were all connected, it was time to cut off those edges.  Note my fancy Paint skills.  You wish you could draw scissors like me.  Even though I didn't actually use scissors--I used a rotary cutter.

Straight edges!  No really, they're straight...

And that's where things stand now!  I'm backing this with plain white fabric.  I'm going to quilt with zig zags, which will add interesting texture to the plain white side.  I also figured that with such a busy front, I didn't need a pattern on the back of the quilt. Nice, crisp white appealed to me.  I'll do a navy edge all around.  Stay tuned!