Welcome, Baby Finn!

First comes the love, then comes the marriage, then comes… my very first nephew in a baby carriage! At around 4 a.m. on September 24, I was overjoyed to receive a message that Finn Joseph had finally arrived. Isn’t this the most precious baby you’ve ever seen? I know I’m biased, but… BEST. NEPHEW. EVER. Look at that baby burrito bundle. LOOK AT HIM. (It’s my job, as the auntie, to tell you to LOOK AT HIM in all caps. Because that’s what aunties do, and also, BECAUSE HE IS AMAZING.)

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Given my brother Jason’s love of planes, while most babies are delivered by a stork, I’m fairly certain Finn arrived via whimsical airplane, although my sister-in-law Sarah may have a different perspective. 😉 My brother is a recreational pilot, so him and Sarah like to go on lots of little adventures in their plane. Jason even asked Sarah to marry him while they were flying. And both of the baby’s grandfathers – mine and Jason’s dad, and Sarah’s dad – also have a special interest in airplanes. So needless to say, this baby has no choice but to love airplanes.

In fact, at just 6 weeks old, Finn experienced his first flight!

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When I heard a baby was on the way, I knew an airplane-inspired gift was in order.

I researched some airplane-inspired quilt patterns, and while there were many miscellaneous features that I liked with each pattern, there wasn’t one pattern that stood out as The One, so I decided to do my own thing.

I don’t know why I always choose to go down this road of doing “my own thing.” It’s mentally exhausting, I experience a ton of decision fatigue and I spend most days convinced that I’m just messing the whole thing up. But at the same time, I refuse to settle for what’s out there … and that’s why I love making things! Ahh, the beauty (and the pain) of DIY.

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I decided to take a risk and do something I’ve never done before, combining two skills from my sewing/quilting experience toolbox: foundation paper piecing and rag quilts. While I’ve done quite a bit of each of those things separately, I’ve never rolled the two skills together. But I’m most comfortable making rag quilts for baby gifts, and I was equally passionate about wanting to include paper-pieced airplanes.

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Other than substituting the airplane blocks for some solid blocks, the process was really no different than the typical raq quilts I’ve made. A few adjustments:

  • I added some additional fabric around the border of each of the airplane blocks to for extra seam allowance. Since the seam allowance gets cut up on a rag quilt, I didn’t want the planes to be cut up.
  • While I typically just quilt an “X” on each block for rag quilts, on the airplane blocks, I quilted around the border of the airplanes.
  • I made 12 airplane blocks total, and in order to best showcase them, I came up with a new, square layout versus the rectangular layouts I’ve used in the past.

I love the way this quilt turned out, and I was especially pleased with the fabric combination, the square layout and the inclusion of the paper-pieced blocks. I wouldn’t hesitate to make a quilt like this again, replacing the airplanes with any other fun paper-pieced shape.

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But the true test was introducing Finn to his quilt a few weeks ago when I met him for the very first time. Actually, it wasn’t really Finn’s first time seeing his quilt. He was already a month old by the time I got to fly across the country to meet him, and he had spent a lot of quality time in his nursery by the time I met him. But he was polite enough to act surprised for the photo anyway. What a nice boy!

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I think it’s safe to say – this quilt is Finn-tested, Finn-approved!

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A rag quilt for Baby B

I love experimenting with different patterns and projects, which means I rarely make the same thing twice. But recently, I’ve repeated some projects-from-the-past and learned the benefits of creating something familiar and dependable.

Remember the Mustaches & Elephants quilt I made for my friend Amanda? It doesn’t seem that long ago, but Amanda’s little guy, Liam, is now over a year old – it’s crazy how time flies! And Liam will soon have a buddy to hang out with on weekends, because mine and Amanda’s mutual friend Beth is now pregnant with a little boy too.

So naturally, I decided Beth’s baby boy needed to have the same quilt as Liam. Only, instead of mustaches and elephants, I went with “sports” to match the theme of the shower and the baby’s nursery. Puppies playing sports, to be more specific. Who doesn’t love puppies??? Playing sports??? Continue reading

Starring Winnie!

The night before my roommate Katie‘s birthday, she heard me rustling through my craft supplies and asked what I was doing. I told her I was making her a birthday coupon. She thought I was kidding, but I wasn’t.

FYI, a "cug" (according to Katie's niece) is a combination cuddle/hug. Also, Winnie hates balloons - hence the PSA.

FYI, a “CUG” (according to Katie’s niece) is a cuddle/hug combo. Also, Winnie hates balloons – hence the PSA.

The idea of a “coupon gift” seems a little silly in adulthood, but I really wanted Katie to make the decision about what I should make… using this INCREDIBLE WINNIE FABRIC.

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Yes, that is Katie’s dog, Winnie. I designed this custom fabric using real photos of Winnie and printed a yard of it at Spoonflower.com.

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DONUT underestimate the power of paper piecing

This post is about donuts. And paper piecing.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…
Bright frosted DONUTS that haven’t been bitten…
Quilty techniques on the gifts Santa brings… 
These are a few of my favorite things.

I looooooooooooooove donuts.

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Donuts complete me.

So does my roommate Katie. When one of us says, “I want donuts,” the other roommate says, “NOM” and then we’re in the car en route to our local donut provider in a matter of minutes. We have donut ornaments on our Christmas tree. And the dog has donut toys.

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I’ve already told you about how Katie is crafty (or rather, “Krafty”) so this year’s Christmas present for Katie was a combination of our mutual love for both donuts and crafts.

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It’s your birthday, baby!

Meet my friend Laura — we have known each other since we were in kindergarten and she is still one of my dearest friends.

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Eighth grade volleyball, dorky haircuts… and proof that we turned out alright in adulthood despite the dweeby photos.

Laura is pregnant with her first child and due this month! When your childhood BFF is pregnant, and you’re a fan of handmade gifts — the pressure is high! When I first heard Laura was pregnant, I knew I wanted to make her something really special, but I wasn’t sure what it should be. Although I adore the rag quilts I made for baby Liam and baby Sophia last year, I wanted the project for Laura to be one-of-a-kind — not a repeat of one of my previous projects. Laura also sews (Reason #923498723 why I love her) and has made a number of items for her baby’s nursery, so making another quilt didn’t feel very earth-shattering since she had already conquered rag quilts herself.  I was also looking for a project that would stand the test of time. Continue reading

Paper piecing time machine

This fall/winter, I haven’t been that great about updating the blog – yikes. But just because my blog has been stagnant doesn’t mean my crafting has. I’ve been doing lots of things behind the scenes, just haven’t taken the time to write about them. Or I can’t, because I’m in Christmas elf mode and everything is a secret!

So hang in there while I jump in my sewing time machine and show you a project I tackled that has a Jack O Lantern on it. Yes, a Jack O Lantern. I told you I was jumping in a time machine, stop judging! 😉

Even though Halloween is over, I want to rewind a little bit and highlight this little experimental project I tackled earlier in the fall. I took my first shot at foundation paper piecing a quilt block! In my quest to follow crafty social media accounts, I’ve found a lot of quilt-y friends who frequently post about paper piecing. Needless to say, their constant paper piecing posts (can you say “paper piecing posts” ten times fast?) piqued my curiosity and I decided to give it a try around Halloween with this pumpkin paper piecing (free PDF pattern available here).

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Sophia’s Quilt

NOTE: I’ve gotten a lot of inquiries about where to find/purchase this pattern. The pattern is out of print (I had to purchase my copy from etsy). If you’re in search of this pattern:

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This is a long overdue post to talk about a project that wrapped up a loooooong time ago! Based on my blog posts alone, you may think the mustaches and elephants quilt was my very first rag quilt. But … it wasn’t. My very first rag quilt was completed months and months prior to that when I tackled the now out-of-print Simplicity 4993. I’d had this pattern on my radar for a long time so when I discovered it was recently retired, I jumped on etsy and grabbed a brand new copy.

On the Sew Lindsay Sew blog: Simplicity 4993 Teddy Bear Quilt Continue reading

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!

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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.

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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. 😉

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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.

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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.

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