Tag Archives: quilts

Honey lovers

I finally finished a wedding gift I dreamed up for my cousin Kelley and her husband Paul — almost six months after they tied the knot. You have a year to give a gift, right? Also, the ferns in her hair and the pearl-studded pins? So incredibly gorgeous.


Theirs was the amazing Hood River wedding (read about our adventures that week here) and I knew I wanted to create something special for them. Kelley and Paul raise honeybees and love the outdoors, so I decided to make them a quilted table runner meant to look like their initials carved in a birch tree, with some honeycomb-style hexagons pieced and quilted on top.


With a newborn, I haven’t had a ton of hands-free time. Joe gave me the girl-you’re-crazy look when I started this, but I was possessed by the idea.  I’m so happy it turned out like I envisioned!


I freehanded most of it, but for the letters inside I printed a font I liked and copied it onto the fabric with disappearing ink that I stitched over. I also traced a heart design and then stitched over that. 


The hexagons were all cut after being traced from a quilting template. Sewing hexagons together is kind of tricky!


My heart is full of joy for this dynamic duo!


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Filed under Getting crafty, Travel

Quilty in CB

We survived our first mini road trip as parents, schlepping all of Emmett’s gear to Council Bluffs. Joe’s best friend was in town with his baby boy, London (the baby for for whom I made this quilt) and Joe’s parents hosted a cookout. It was a gorgeous weekend to hang out and eat kabobs.


Speaking of quilts: The ladies in the fam went on a little Omaha adventure to catch a quilt exhibition at the Florence Mill, a historic building from early Mormon settlements in the area.


These quilts were like nothing I’d ever seen before – art tapestries that had a kind of metaphysical feel.


The show by Shea Wilkinson was titled “The Serpent in the Story.”


The quilt designs looked alternately like something you’d see on a slide under a microscope, or like a nebula captured by a telescope.


She machine-quilts freehand. 20130629_150906

I thought the quilts displayed up against the old mill wood was a neat contrast.

20130629_150635This was one of my favorites:


Even though I’ve been going to Council Bluffs for years now to visit Joe’s family, I haven’t gotten very far on my bucket list of places to see in the area. I still want to check out the Union Pacific Museum and Squirrel Cage Jail (both walkable from Joe’s parents’ house) and I just read in Midwest Living about the Fontenelle Forest. Hopefully we can go on a little family hike there this fall!

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Filed under Iowa adventures

Fit for a Prince

Although I do have a girl crush on Kate Middleton (secretly hoping Royal Baby and my JamJam Jellyroll will someday be married), the Union Jack inspired quilt I finally finished isn’t for her progeny. It’s for a baby boy named London, the son of Joe’s best friend Jimmy and his wife.


I got it all washed (because washing a quilt for the first time is terrifying, so I decided to take that leap for them) and ready to ship out just a few weeks into little London’s life, and with a little bit of time to spare before opening day. As not to be too British, I backed it with baseball fabric, since Joe and Jimmy are both huge Cubs fans.


I pieced the red and white strips and then appliqued them to the blue background, and I’m happy with how everything turned out. Measuring isn’t my friend.


I looked at several Union Jack quilt patterns, but I ultimately decided to wing it. Quiltspiration:

Union Jack quilt inspiration from Etsy
I Heart London Quilt Pattern

I wish I was the kind of quilter who could put together a tutorial, but my haphazard try-it, then fix-it approach doesn’t really lend itself to step-by-steps. I pieced together the red and white strips and folded the edges and appliqued them to the blue background. (Technically, the red strips should run together to make a true cross shape. Whoops!) I cut the baseball backing to size, then I quilted triangles in the spaces between the diagonals.



I am the world’s worst binder, so although I probably could have done this in a weekend, I cursed at it and left it crumpled in a corner for awhile. My quilts look decent from a distance, so you won’t see too many close-ups.


Days like these, when the gray sky and ground bleed into greener and bluer hues remind me of the months I lived in London, the winter semester of my Junior year during study abroad. I walked so much that spring (walking places = discovery), and enjoyed solitary adventures and outings with friends.

I remember spending a crisp afternoon by myself in Holland Park, and it was glorious. Each park has such personality.
High tea at the Dorchester with my best girl is a favorite fancy memory.
The Victoria & Albert Museum is a must-see, and the Churchill War Rooms are quite fabulous, too. (But ALL of the museums in London are pretty great!)
Shopping and snacking along the Portobello Road Market – so full of colour (spelled the British way, of course.)

2006, London, waiting for the organ recital at Westminster Abbey

2006, London, waiting for the organ recital at Westminster Abbey

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Filed under BS outside the Midwest, Getting crafty


A separate his and hers Saturday: Joe had plans for an all-day lager tasting extravaganza (they do this super serious blind beer tasting once a year).


So I decided to invite over the ladies whose significant others would be spending the afternoon trying to differentiate Rolling Rock from Lucky Bucket. Simple plan: to have tea and get creative. Joe gets excited about beer and guac and this is the face I make when I get to put my milk-glass manatee on a cake pedestal:

23 weeks

Joe brought home a gorgeous orchid we’ve amazingly managed not to kill and I brought out my Jadite bowls and made a little table scape. I set the table with some goodies and filled up little tea and supply stations and we chatted and made cards and whatnot.


The tea tray collage is something my family made me as a wedding present and electric kettles are a fantastic invention.


It was relaxing and nice to reconnect with a small gathering of women who I might not see as often. All those supplies live in a crazy cluttered spot in my basement. It’s like I’m a Michael’s outlet.

Having all of my supplies in front of me inspired me to finish the Union Jack-ish quilt that I’m making for a friends’ baby. I did it super freestyle, like all of my quilting projects, and it’s nowhere near perfect, but I’m proud of it! This is just the topper. I’m so close to being done, but the binding step was torturing me.


I love the fabrics – including the baseball backing which I’ll show you when it’s all finished. (The quilt is for a tiny baby boy named London who is still in the NICU. He’s the son of Joe’s best friend.) The fabric is from Creekside Quilting in Clive.

OH! And while I was quilting, I listened to this fascinating Radiolab podcast about color perception. Is the sky blue if nobody tells you so?


Filed under At home

Handmade gifts for babies

It’s a bumper crop of babies here in Iowa, with roughly 90 percent of the women (only a slight exaggeration) I know set to give birth in the next few months, or having just named newborns. Exciting!

I’m totally behind on my crafting (sorry new baby nephew Nico!),  but I wanted to share a few things I came up with to celebrate a few of these little ones, and ideas I’ve pinned for future projects. Making something for tiny people is a lot of fun, and I’m improving on my sewing skills although I still don’t love measuring or doing binding.
Project 1: Quilted Baby Sleep Sack

You know what sleep sacks are, right? Somewhere in between a swaddle/straightjacket/blanket. I got it in my head I wanted to make one from scratch, without a pattern, and quilt it. Clearly this was for the first baby in the bunch, because the project was insane.

I made it for little L, Amy’s baby, because I know Amy has a huge appreciation for handmade and it’s her first girl. The finished product isn’t  perfect, but I’m really proud of how I kind of eyeballed the pattern and hand-stitched hearts all over the back and inserted a zipper all by myself. I really need to work on binding, though! Joe made fun of me for bringing my quilting to the I-Cubs games this spring.

Project 2: Handwritten story book

I would say that these are the baby craft I feel most confident about. I purchase an 8×8 album from Michael’s (typically for about $8, after some sale they’re having) and then a bunch of craft paper. I have a giant stash and don’t actually scrapbook, so this is what it all goes toward. I like to write a story starring the baby as a kid, and then I illustrate it with cut-out paper and stickers.

The four books I’ve done for kids so far all have a lesson in them, too. The first was about my friend Bethany’s son, Strummer, going to his first concert (“Strummer Takes the Stage”) and then I did one for my niece, Caroline called “Caroline Bakes a Cake.” Inspired by my friend’s daughter, Pippa, I wrote “Pippa Packs Her Bags,” since she’s half-British and has family overseas. The latest is “Ami & Mari’s Goodness Garden,” to celebrate my friend Theresa’s kids, Amelie and Mariella. (Prettiest names ever, right?)

I really get in the zone with these, and after the story is written, can complete the book in about a day, with paper strewn all around the dining room table. Joe loves it when I craft. Ha.

Project 3: Pinwheel/Nautical Quilt

I’m upping the ante on my quilting difficulty. My mom was in town when I started this project, and she’s been taking some classes, so we opted to try a pinwheel border for the quilt I decided to make for Arin’s little boy. Arin’s dropped some hints that his name has nautical connotations, so I appliqued an anchor in the center. This technique for making pinwheel blocks is awesome and a huge time-saver.

I hand-quilted the center when we were down at the farm over Labor Day from a freestyle design I drew on with pencil. I’m definitely not a perfectionist with my quilting because if I tried to be, I’d probably melt my brain.

Project 4: Eric Carle Brown Bear onsies

I am obsessed with this fabric, which I picked up at the Quilt Block in Valley Junction. I used it to make my first quilt for Caroline when she was born, and I’ve wanted to find a way to use the scraps. So for my friend Megan’s baby, I cut out a couple of the cutest characters and backed them with fusible webbing to make them sturdier.

Then I hand-stitched around them with embroidery floss and did some details on the collar. This was a pretty stress-free craft, and you could easily do an iron-on, no-sew version, too! I paired the onsies with a gift bag full of medicine cabinet must-haves, like a thermometer, Baby Ayr, Baby Powder, etc. that are not the fun things to shop for but really can come in handy. (It’s a practical idea I stole from my friend Sara, who stole it from Darcie, so it has to be brilliant.)

Other ideas I’d love to try:

Tiny shark hoodie!

Busy/quiet books

Dinosaur softie

Baby Toms


Filed under At home