Hey everyone!

Thanks to everyone who offered up the helpful hints to my last post.  I’m feeling better, but now my computer seems to have caught something.  It locks up every time I try to use it, so now it’s my computer’s turn to go to the doctor!  I sure hope it’s back to normal by next week, because I am going to need it every day next week.  Today I am stealing my husband’s computer, but my 15,000 photos are on my computer and blogging without much for photos is hard and (I think) quite boring!

So, are you wondering why I will seriously need my computer next week?  Starting next monday I’m participating in the “Fall-O-Ween” Designer Blog Hop!


Some of you may remember that last year we did the Cross-Country Christmas blog hop.  The concept is similar, we have just switched seasons to offer you different projects.  Just like last time, each day will feature a different designer, topic, and free project.  We are also offering lots of fun prizes, so you won’t want to miss it!

Here’s the run down of designers and the day they will be featured:

Sept. 27th : Gudrun – GE Designs
Sept. 28th : Sandy - Pieces from my heart
Sept. 29th : Roseann – Rosebud’s Cottage
Sept. 30th : Kari – New Leaf Stitches
Oct. 1st : Terry – Atkinson Designs
Oct. 2nd : Heather – Anka’s Treasures
Oct. 3rd : Terri – Whimsicals
Oct. 4th : Carrie – Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co.
Oct. 5th : Linda – Linda Lum DeBono Designs
Oct. 6th : Pat – Pat Sloan’s Designs
It all starts next Monday, so be sure to stop back then for all the fun and sharing! 
Speaking of sharing, I wanted to show you some fun things that a few people in the industry have shared with me just lately.
I spent last weekend teaching in Nebraska at a Retreat hosted by Julie Geiger, the owner of Prairie Point Junction Quilt shop.   After I presented a trunk show for the retreaters, Julie presented me with a couple hand-made gifts – these two zipper bags and two pin cushions, all made from our “Sanibel” fabric line that came out earlier this year.
 On the bigger bag, she used all the selvages to make up the body of the bag – very cute and clever!
On the small pincushions, she had to spray paint the buttons to get just the right color.  I’m so glad to hear when others have a fondness for finding “just the right color”.  Plus, my husband was in the room and it’s good for him to hear that that is a “normal” thing to do.  (He seems to think I’m a little (okay – a lot) overboard when it comes to color.  )
 It was also a treat to see how many samples that Julie and her staff have made out of my patterns and fabric.  This is just a small taste! (many with kits available from her shop)
When I got home from my trip, I had two packages waiting on the front porch for me.  The first was from Camille and inside was her new book. 
I’ve been waiting to see what’s inside . . .  and it’s full of Camille’s lovely photographs  – and of course, beautiful quilts.
Thanks Camille  for sharing.  I know how much work it is to put out a book like this, so congrats on the hard work and the finished book!  You should definitely celebrate and put your feet up ;-)
The other package I mentioned was labeled:  From “The one who is not Rosie” and contained this ~
 It’s Carrie Nelson’s new fabric line.  It’s her debut line, so that is also very exciting!  I always enjoy Carrie’s sense of humor (as you can see from her label) and now I get to enjoy her fabrics too.  Also in that package was something for Daisy ~
“Woofers”  heart-shaped doggie treats.  Daisy was so excited that she would hardly hold still for a picture!   We are both happy with our “treats” – so Thanks to Carrie (and Rosie) for the fun package.
That’s all for today folks.  I hope to see you all back here for the Blog Hop on Monday!!!
Posted in Quilting | Tagged | 8 Comments

My Arch Nemesis

Yes, I have an arch nemesis, though it isn’t as ominous as it sounds.  It’s been about 5 years since I have done battle with it, but it’s back.

So what is it, you ask?

Poison Ivy.

It is growing all over in the woods around our house.  It used to be growing in areas right around our yard.  I say used to, because now that I know what it looks like, I have been using Round Up and taken care of much of it.  Before that happened though, I managed to get it a few times.  I was more of a live in town, stay inside kinda of girl.  I was clueless to what poison ivy looked like.   After Joel and I got married, we moved out of town and I had my first run-in with poison ivy.    The first couple times, it wasn’t so bad, and honestly, it took me a couple of times of having it to figure out what it was.  By the third time, I figured out it was Poison Ivy and the doctor prescribed a few helpful remedies.  After that, I learned how to spot it and went on a quest to rid our property of the evil plants. 

So, after all that, how did I end up with it again?

Just bad luck I guess.  We had been doing some landscaping around our shed that we put up last summer and brought in several loads of black dirt to shape the yard.  While I was planting some flowers in this new dirt, I noticed that there were some roots and leaves in the dirt, but didn’t think anything of it.  After digging around for a while, I found some of those leaves together on a stem and looked down with horror to see the familiar three-leaf design that characterizes poison ivy.  Within a few days, it showed up on my arms and later on my inner thighs.  Do any of you garden with you inner thighs?  I guess I do.  I have spent the last 12 days doped up on Benadryl, covered in creams, and trying to resist the urge to scratch.  Let me tell you, the itch is terrible and the nights are long.  It is starting to get better, so that is good.  Since then, I have had some other allergic reaction and have gotten hives over the rest of my body that didn’t already have poison ivy.  Who knows when this will clear up, as I haven’t yet figured out what I am having the reaction to. 

I didn’t bring this all up just to complain.  In fact, I’m sure this is bordering on TMI.  Plus, I’m probably ruining your impression that the life of a quilt pattern designer is all glamour and so very exciting.  Sorry but, I just wanted to tell you about part of my self-prescribed treatment. 


Why knitting? 

 Because sitting still means that my clothes are irritating the PI. 

Because knitting means that my hands are busy knitting, and not busy scratching. 

It was either that or duct tape oven mitts to my hands.  Knitting sounded like more fun.  Many of you have asked how I get so much knitting done, and this little problem I have had the last couple weeks has led to me getting lots done.

So, here are two of the projects I finished up -

Let’s talk about the blue one first.  The pattern is Buttercup.  Isn’t that a cute name?  Here’s the Ravelry link, for those of you are interested.

I just had to make this one because I bought this necklace in Venice and needed something to go with it.  (Sometimes you need a good excuse to buy more yarn, when you already have a stash)

I love the hem line.  I also love this yarn.  It’s called Hempathy and it’s great for summer knitting. 

Now, let’s talk about the magenta one.

I just love these lace panels.

 The pattern is the Alpaca Tunic.  (Here’s the ravelry link).  The yarn is Euroflax Linen.  It didn’t look that great as I was knitting it up, but once I blocked it the lace design really showed up.

I really had fun with these knits.  I hope my issues clear up soon, as I am currently wearing longs sleeves, turtlenecks and pants.  Maybe I will have to wait until next summer to put these tanks to good use.   Oh well, as I said before knitting is so much more fun than wearing oven mitts ;-)

Posted in Knitting | Tagged , , , , | 27 Comments

Favorite Things Friday

Hi Everyone ~    Just in case you hadn’t noticed, one of my favorite things to do is change the color of things.  That can include repainting the rooms in my house, redecorating, dying fabric or sweaters, and spray painting what ever I can get my hands on.  I thought I would elaborate on that a bit, in relation to my last post.  My last post showed one of our guest rooms that I have been in the process of freshening up.  Here’s how it looked a few months ago -

Lonestar Sensation from the book "Favorite Quilts from Anka's Treasures"

It’s not bad, it’s just a little subtle for my taste right now.  I have been using brighter colors and wanted to incorporate those brighter colors into one room in my house.  Plus, this room had been the same for about 3 years, and I was getting bored with it!  My thought was “I’ll just change the color and make a new quilt.”

Fairly simple right?


Joel and I talked about it and decided that while I was redecorating and emptying the room, we should change a few other things.

For example, the windows in this room hadn’t been replaced yet.  During our remodel, we put new windows in the rest of the house.  The new windows are double hungs.  These are casements, with a grill added across the top to try to make them match our double hungs.  By the way, I cut an old grill from a patio door into pieces and then hot glued them into the old windows in my effort to make them match a little better.  At the time, it was a much cheaper solution, and as Tim Gunn would say “Make it work”!

Upgrading the window meant removing the casing and getting new trim.  That resulted in lots of painting of woodwork and those windows are so putsy to paint!  Behind the trim we found very little insulation.  This room has always been rather cold in the winter, so while we were fixing things, we decided to strip all the sheet rock and replace the insulation.  While we were at it, we should probably tear down the ceiling too and replace that insulation too.  Then the room looked like this ~

And my living room next door looked like this  (I won’t say for how long)

Then, while we were at it, we thought we should add a closet to the room.  The people who owned the house before must not have used it as a bedroom because who would have a bedroom without a closet?  So, we framed in a closet.  That resulted in even more woodwork that needed painting and more drywalling.   It was definitely worth it, as now that closet makes a good place to store all my quilts!

And, while I was at it, I needed to paint the bed.  The former black color would never work with my new color scheme.  That resulted in the bed being moved out to the front yard while I tried out many colors of yellow spray paint.  After many coats, the bed looked like this ~

Almost done!  After months of work, layers of sheetrock dust, inhaling paint fumes, and sewing like crazy, my love for revamping has wavered several times.   I really should quit using the saying “while I’m at it, I might as well……”.  Now, I am down to just needing to finish decorating the room.  I made a trip into the nearest big town to look for some accessories and a chair for the corner of the room.  (This chair actually belongs in a different room.  This photo also shows the new and improved windows)    

I didn’t find a thing for this room.  But, while I was at it, I found this cute chair for my studio!

This chair is my new favorite thing.  Isn’t it cute?  It’s from Pier 1.   They have lots of cute small chairs.  It was on sale and Joel’s office chair was falling apart, so I bought him one too (while I was at it).

Isn’t it funny how changing my paint color resulted in all that?   Well, maybe funny isn’t quite the right word, but at least I got this cute new office chair!

Posted in Decorating | 25 Comments


Hello Quilters ~

I’m glad to hear a bunch of you that were interested in making custom bed skirts. (See my last post).  In addition to finishing the two bed skirts from that post, I have finished a quilt to go with one of them.  I had been waiting for some good light to photograph the quilt, but I’m finished waiting for just the right light. 

 I’ve tried the light in the bedroom . . . 


 and I’ve tried the light outside . . .

This will just have to do . . .  I’m sure you get the idea of what the quilt looks like and I should probably quit dilly-dallying away the night with my quest for the perfect light.  That’s the problem with having some perfectionist tendencies.  I end up wasting time when I could be quilting! 

I had a few extra blocks from the quilt and I used them for the backing.  It worked out perfect because two widths of fabric wasn’t quite wide enough for the quilt.  By adding in those extra blocks, I didn’t have to add a third width of fabric.  Plus, I think it makes the back much more interesting.

This pattern is a design that I put out two years ago, in my book Livin’ Large.  It’s called Kalidescope and the original pattern was done up in Nest by Tula Pink, as seen below.

My new version was done with lots of prints from Meadowsweet by Sandi Henderson and a few of my own prints from Wildflowers and Sanibel.  I used some of my scraps from the quilt to make the fabric hoops hanging above the bed.  I saw this idea on The Purl Bee blog, and I have always wanted to try it somewhere. 

As you can see, I got my shams done too.  This pattern is from our “Shams with Style” book.

The original version looked like this, cute kid not included.

I added some quilting on my sham with a double needle.  I love the fact that the needle does all the hard work for you – from getting the two lines perfectly spaced, to adding some dimension by kinda giving it a piped look.  If you don’t already have a double needle, you need to get one!  In fact, buy two.  That is what I should have done the first time.  I had only sewn one line of stitching when I accidentally broke my double needle, resulting in unfinished shams for the rest of the weekend  (town is 20 minutes away and the shops aren’t all open 24 hours a day. )

Now that I have the bedding finished, I need to get the rest of the room decorated.  I’ll have to blog on that later, but in the mean time my plan is to have a basic room that can be rotated to match lots of different quilts.  The brown and yellow dot bed skirt and shams also match my Wildflowers fabric line, so I can switch out the bed quilt.  In the photo below I’ve switched out the Meadowsweet quilt for one made out of Wildflowers.

  I also have this cute “Hoot” fabric that will match the room (green walls, yellow bed, brown bedding) -

And this cute Riley Blake fabric that will work too.

Speaking of cute -

I just had to throw this picture in too.  This is my husband’s dog Daisy.  She has nothing to do with redecorating my bedroom, even though she technically would also match in the room.  Whatever you do, please don’t suggest to my husband that she matches the room or he will think she should move in!!!

Posted in Decorating, Fabric Trends, Quilting | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

Bed Skirt Tutorial

Hi Everyone!  I hope you all had a good weekend.  Here in MN the weather has finally turned, so my windows are all open and the fresh air is blowing through the house.  We’ve had lots of heat this summer, with many days so humid that you can hardly breathe.  This is such a refreshing break from all that heat, and for that, we are all grateful.  I’m also grateful to have a few work deadlines behind me.  Mom and I finished up and turned in our ideas for a new fabric line.  In fact, that is the third line that I have painted up this summer.  Unfortunately, I can’t share any sneak-peaks just yet.

With all the fabric designing, I have taken a bit of a break from quilt designing.  Normally I would have my fall products all planned out by this time, but after the  craziness of the last couple years I decided to skip fall market this year.  Instead, I am taking some time for myself – to catch up on everything I have fallen behind on – to start new fun projects – and hopefully get back to enjoying the creative process.   Those fun new projects have included redecorating a couple bedrooms.  That whole process leads me to my post for today!  Part of redecorating bedrooms means sewing new bed skirts (or dust ruffles), pillows, curtains, etc.  When we came out with our “Shams with Style” book, I had lots of people ask me to come out with patterns for curtains and bed skirts.  To me, a bed skirt doesn’t make an interesting enough pattern to put out on the market.  However, I thought I would just do a quick tutorial for those who want to learn how I make their own.  I don’t particularly like making bed skirts (boring!), but knowing how to make them means that I can make them out of the fabric of my choice.  That can really help make the room!

To get started, let me just say that bed skirts are really easy to make.  It only took me about 3 hours to finish the whole thing.  The style of bed skirt that I like is really basic, with no frills or fuss, but very skilled use (NOT) of velcro and hot glue.   This technique is one that I learned from my Mom.  She used to make her bed skirts by sewing a ruffled fabric to a large rectangle of lining fabric that fit between the box spring and mattress.  The problem with that method is that everything always shifts around.  That’s when Mom started using the velcro method.  See the photo below?  It shows a line of velcro stuck to the edge of the box spring and another line of velcro along the top edge of the bed skirt.  This set-up eliminates that shifting problem.  To attach the velcro to the bed, you can either buy sticky velcro or use a hot glue gun.

After sticking the velcro to the bed, measure the three sides separately to get the length for your bed skirt.  As you can see in the photo above, I usually add an extra 1/2″ on each end so the two sides overlap slightly and you can’t see the box spring through the opening. 

 In the other bedroom that I am working on, the bed has side rails, so I just stuck the Velcro to the side rail instead of the box spring.  They pretty much have the same look.  (This bed has a foot board, so I only needed to make a skirt for the sides of the bed)

As you can see in these photos, the style of bed skirt that I like doesn’t involves ruffles like some do.  I prefer a flat bed skirt, with a little detail in the center that looks like a pleat.

I do the same thing on the long sides of the bed.

To figure out what size to cut the pieces, refer back to the measurements that you’ve already taken around the three sides of the bed.  Also measure the drop from the inside edge of the velcro on the box spring, down to the floor.  Let’s just say that’s 16″.

Let’s also say that the long sides of the bed measure 78″, then divide that number by 2 (because we are doing it in two pieces) = 39″.

Next, add for a 1″ double hem along three sides and a 1/2″ double hem along the top.

39″ + 2″ + 2″ = 43″  gives you the length (which should fit on one width of fabric)

16″ + 2″ + 1″ = 19″ for your drop.

So, cut two pieces for each side that are 43″ x 19″.  You with me so far? 

BTW, that was the hardest part of this whole process! 

Repeat this process to get two pieces to use along the foot of the bed.

Next, we are going to hem those pieces.  To get an accurate hem line, I always use a fabric pencil to mark my folding line.  Mark a line 1″ from the edge along 3 sides and 1/2″ from the top  (this is where the velcro will go)

Using a hot iron and some steam, fold the edge over and press, so your drawn line is right on the edge of the fold line. 

Repeat on all four sides.

Fold up the hems one more time, so the raw edge is hidden inside all the layers.  This is how you get a 1″ double hem or a 1/2″ double hem. 

(Sorry no picture here.  I forgot to take one of the hem folded up twice!)

Next, go the machine and hem as shown, using matching thread.  Only hem the three sides that won’t have velcro, as that side will get hemmed when we add the velcro.

This photo shows how to do those bulky corners, so everything is tacked neatly in place.

Next, lay out two pieces that will be connected to make a full length.   The hem that isn’t sewn yet is laying on the right side of this photo.  This will be easier to see when you are actually making it, because three of your sides will have a wider hem.  The bed skirt in the photo was the first one I made and I started out using the same size hem on all sides.  After seeing the completed bed skirt, I decided that having a small hem on the three sides that showed didn’t look very professional.  I then doubled the size of the hem, going from 1/2″ to 1″.

Cut a small piece of fabric to make the “fake pleat”.  I cut mine about 8-10″ wide, with a 19″ drop.  Hem on three sides as you did with the other pieces.  Lay the two long pieces right next to each other and center the “fake pleat” on top of where the two pieces meet.  Pin in place.

Next, add the velcro along the top side of the bed skirt (along the right side in the photo above).  Just be sure that you are using the side of the Velcro (fuzzy or rough) that corresponds to whatever you stuck on the bed.  It’s very important to pay attention to this throughout the process!!!

Stitch along the left edge of the velcro also.

That’s it!  You are ready to go attach it to the bed like this -

I hope you liked this method!  You can thank my Mom  – and by the way, she reads the comments!

Now, I am going to start machine quilting this quilt so I can show you a finished room.  Maybe two finished rooms . . . .

Posted in Decorating, Quilting | Tagged | 202 Comments

Playing Catch-up on My Knitting

Hello Everyone,

I am working on a couple sewing projects to share, but in the meantime I thought I would catch-up on some of the knitting I have been doing in my spare time this summer.  I always enjoy summer knitting because the projects go so much quicker than winter projects.  Just leaving off two long sleeves or a hood saves so much time!

My first summer project uses one of my favorite yarns (Hempathy) and the pattern is from one of my favorite knitwear designers (Connie Chang Chinchio)

I like the little details, like the two diamonds in the lower corner.

The pattern extends across the back, which gives some interest to an otherwise plain back.

Here’s the Ravelry link if you want the details.

I worked on this one on our trip last month.  We spent about 22 hours on planes, 12 hours on trains, and another 18 hours in automobiles, so had lots of time to knit.

I haven’t worn this one yet, as I’m not loving the fit.  It looks fine from the side, but I think that I knit the neck too high.  I didn’t want to have to wear another tank underneath, so I kept the neckline up.  Turns out I will probably have to wear a tank underneath anyways, as the side of the top is full of holes.  What was I thinking?  I must have been having too much fun looking at the beautiful scenery to think clearly about what I was doing.

I also  worked on this top on our trip.  The simple SS pattern meant that I could mostly knit by feel and wouldn’t miss any of the scenery.

I love the simple, yet unique styling.  The back wraps forward to meet the yoke line in the front.  It was supposed to have long sleeves, but I only had enough yarn to make a vest.  Here’s the link for the details.

I also made this tee over the summer.  I like the cable detailing, but I liked the yarn that was used in the original pattern better.  I had this yarn in my stash and wanted to use it up.

I love raglan sleeves, so that, in addition to the cables, drew me to this pattern.  More details here.

I love a little bit of lacework and decided to use up some of my stash on this purple number.  The pattern was super easy, unbelievably fast, and fun . . .  until . . . .

I finished it and tried it on.  If Frumpalicious was Hot right now, I would be “like so hot”.  But, since frumpy isn’t in, I have no idea what I’m going to do with this thing.  At least it was really fun to make!  I’m wondering if I can alter it somehow. . . .

That’s what I did with this one.

It used to look like this, but I never wore it because I hated the color.

After a little Rit dye, it’s a whole new sweater!  Much improved, if you ask me.

As you can see, I’ve been keeping myself busy in my spare time.  I’m having my usual issues with knitting (mainly fit), but still really enjoying it.  I like that I can take it out onto the deck in the evenings and enjoy being outside.  That’s a little harder to do with all my sewing stuff!  Being transportable is a definite plus.

So what have you been doing in your spare time this summer?  If you have nothing else to do at the moment, I’m open to suggestions on the frumpy purple sweater.

Posted in Knitting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

European Inspiration

On our recent trip to Europe, I was fascinated by all the patterns in the architecture.  They were absolutely everywhere.

For example, here in the cathedral in Seville – from the floor, to the wooden doors, to the stone around the doors – everything is full of beautiful designs.  (Not to mention the fact that that box contains Christopher Columbus’s remains)

This floor can also be found in that cathedral.  Maybe a new take on a drunkard’s path?  Or shall I say an old take on a drunkard’s path?

Here is one of the rooms within that cathedral.  Again,  look at all the cool patterns.  I love that starburst type design on the far wall.

and these designs above the benches along the left wall

and this beautiful floor.

This cool design was on one of the sidewalks in Seville

These intricate tile patterns were on the floors in the Vatican museum.

Each room that we went into had a different pattern.

The ceiling designs in St. Peter’s cathedral were just stunning too-

Check out the design carved into the fabric on this statue (Also found in St. Peter’s)

Here’s a close-up.  This workmanship is just unbelievable to me.  I wonder how long it took this person to do this?

These cool designs can be found on the front of the cathedral in Barcelona

These are the front doors.  Another possible quilt pattern?

These next two shots are taken at the Leaning Tower of Pisa – Again, more quilty looking designs.

More beautiful designs can be found on the church in Florence.  Again, I love that starburst design

and the little pink and green flowers running along the sides.

I think my favorite designs can be found at the Alhambra in Grenada (Spain).  This was a castle built by the Moors, who ruled Spain during this time.

I think the Moors were quilting with stone, not fabric.  The next pictures will show why -

No plain sidewalks there!  Just look at these beautiful patterns, enticing you to follow along to the next intersection,

Where you can see designs like this:

And this.

One of the gifts shops had this show-stopper on the floor.

I wish I had more pictures to show you, but we didn’t get into all the areas of the Alhambra.  Unfortunately, by the time we got there, it was sold out for the day.  So check out this link to see more of what I’m talking about.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!

All of these patterns got me thinking – If this is what the men (masons, tile layers, builders, etc) were doing, what were the women of that time doing?  Were they also incorporating intricate designs into their work?  Maybe their gardens, embroidery, or possibly quilting?  Seeing all of these things made me want to know more about the history of these designs.  It also made me want to learn more about this obsession of mine – and not just the history of quilting in the States, but in areas like Spain and Italy.  It was so hot while we were there, that I can’t even imagine quilting, so maybe they never even did quilting.  So this leads me all to ask a question of you – Do any of you have any recommendations for some good sources for me to read up on some of this history?  I think that it would be fascinating to learn about. . .

Posted in Quilting, Travel | 11 Comments