The Lilly Quilt

Well it seems like it’s just been forever since I blogged. But even though my fingers weren’t moving across the keyboard, I have been busy! This summer was consumed with the Lilly quilt project.


I decided to make a quilt for my bestie for Christmas and the trek to make that happen started in June (yes, June!) when I found the inspiration fabric.

Well, it had to be Lilly Pulitzer fabric because she loves her some Lilly. It wasn’t easy to acquire enough with pattern variety and the right colors, but after much searching I was able to piece together what I was looking for from the We Love Lilly shop on Etsy. So an unmentionable amount later, I had my fabric and now I needed my design.

Lilly fabric is bold and large print and I wanted a quilt design that would feature the fabric. I was fortunate to stumble upon Spanish Tiles by Heather Mulder Peterson from her Living Large 2 book which features all large print fabric quilting patterns. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was the one! I loved her story of how she was inspired by the Alhambra – I love that place and think this pattern really echoes the beauty of the palace. So I set to work cutting my fabric. Lilly fabrics

I paired the fabric with a bright green accent – the lady who cut my fabric said, “Wow, that’s a bold choice” when I laid it on the cutting board and asked for 3 1/2 yards. In my head I was thinking, you should see what it’s getting paired with!

The assembly was pretty straightforward, though I did feel as if I was working on little bits forever and not seeing any progress. Steps one and two in the pattern call for assembly of strip units which will be cut into sections and used to assemble the sashing. One thing I needed here was a recommendation on how to cut the strip units since there are two different section sizes. If you cut the strip unit in all one section size, you end up with quiet a bit of waste. With a bit of math I came up with my cutting pattern to maximize the strip units. Of course this left me with two spare strip units. If you are making this quilt in the smaller size, I don’t think you would have this much waste, but the scale is different when you make the queen size version.

The second area where I stumbled was the assembly of these little sections. I thought I was following the directions for the triangle orientation, but found if I turned it I got better finished results.

Triangle direction matters!Once all the sashing pieces were finally assembled, the quilt started to come together quickly. The Lilly Quilt

And then I couldn’t leave well enough alone on the backing, I just had to add a giant monogram. It was a lot of pink polka dots without the monogram in place. And this quilt really called out for a monogram.Lilly Quilt Monogram

After a furious night of hand appliquéing (and thanks to a lot of hand sewing help from my Mom!) I was able to get the back wrapped up in time to drop it with the quilter on the first weekend in October.

Angela McCorkle of Quilts with a Heart provided the expert quilting help. She did an amazing job of outlining features in the fabrics to really highlight the ‘Lilly’ of the quilt. I highly recommend working with Angela!

Lilly Quilt QuiltingAll that was left was add on the green binding and get it shipped off to Virginia. I was so down to the wire that I didn’t even get to take a picture of the quilt with the binding before it went out the door! But it arrived just in time on Christmas eve and was happily opened on Christmas day by a very excited recipient.





Race for the Cure Quilt

Regular followers of the blog might have noticed that we didn’t have too many posts over the Summer and into the Fall.  And why was that you ask?  Well, Heather’s computer died which made photo editing difficult….and I was covered up by a massive project.

What project you ask?  Well, in the category of “how do I get myself into these things?” I was making a gianormous quilt for the Race for the Cure.  Race for the Cure Quilt Top

You see, last year in the photo booth we were a bit off in our fabric measurements.  So this year I was thinking ahead and in our August planning meeting I said I was going to sew a backdrop that would be the right size.  I even had an idea that I could use past race t-shirts in it.  That’s when Deb said “oh wouldn’t it be great if you could make it into a quilt that we could then auction off at the Perfectly Pink Party in May?”

Don’t let those doe eyes fool you folks, that Deb Davis Groves will go after what she wants.

I instantly regretted mentioning that I was taking a class on quilting and working on my first quilt as I gave her a somewhat blank stare and someone, apparently me, uttered “Uh, yeah, sure”.

WHAT.  Who goes from making a BABY sized quilt to a KING sized quilt?  Apparently this girl.  Because Deb and Kheira produced the t-shirts I needed with AMAZING speed.  Well, shoot, now I really gotta do this.

So I did what every sane person does and took the t-shirts home, folded them up and then ignored them for WEEKS.

I got to the point of no return and I HAD to do something.  See, what was dragging me down was my design of the quilt.  Race for the Cure Original Quilt Plan

When it got down to brass tacks, I just didn’t like it, it was too traditional for me.  So I finally sat my butt down and designed something new.  (Woah, pretty close to how it turned out right?!)Race for the Cure Quilt Inspiration

I even went to the trouble to check out the proportion of the quilt by putting in fake people from last year’s photo booth – I’ll spare you that photo.  So I ran right out and picked up 17 yards of fabric.  Yes.  17 yards.  Those long pink stripes with no seams do not come without a lot of fabric.  Thank goodness for JoAnn’s coupons!!!  Prewashing and 17 yards of ironing ensued.

I got the top assembled pretty quickly with a bit of help from The BunkHouse on how to prep the t-shirts.  That took a whole weekend.  (And it was a good thing I had 16 t-shirts and only needed 15 because I immediately cut the first one waaaay wrong!) Race for the Cure Quilt in Process

After that, the top went together quickly and it looked wonderful!  I admired it on the wall, instagrammed it, sent pictures of it to my friends and, in general, loved it.

But all good times have to come to an end, and I need to get to the actual quilting part of this quilt!  So I took it down off the wall and started to tackle pinning and quilting of this mighty beast.

We wrestled.  We fought.  There was smoothing and re-smoothing.  It took up the entire floor of my living room – The quilt is 117″ by 97″!! (or about 10 feet by 8 feet).  It took my entire collection of 300 quilting pins and I felt like that wasn’t even enough!  So I just started quilting.  (Not to mention, but squee!  Look at that adorable ribbon fabric I found for the backing – I bought the entire 8 yard bolt to make it!)Race for the Cure Quilt BorderI will say it was quite and effort – I was just doing a few basic lines across the quilt with some wavy ones through the pink bands.  It took up the entire dining room table and then some.  I had systems of chairs set up to “catch” the quilt as it came off the machine – I didn’t want it to drop to the floor and pull the stitches I was working on with the weight of the fabric.

Then, how to quilt the t-shirts themselves.  I really wanted to quilt around each ribbon, but I don’t own a long arm quilting machine and cramming a king size quilt through my tiny machine was a serious effort.  I broke three needles on the first two ribbons.  Then we came to an understanding, this quilt and I.  With a complicated set up of rolling, turning, stitching, twirling, re-rolling, stitching some more, I was able to quilt each of the ribbons – just BARELY in time for the race.

In fact, I hadn’t even finished quilting all the ribbons when I just said “Dang it!  I’ve got to get this binding on!” It was the weekend before the race and I needed that on the quilt in order for it to be ready for Race day – I’m a slow hand sewer so stitching over 35 feet of binding was intimidating with only seven days to go.  I took that darn quilt with me everywhere!  It went to packet pick up, it went to work during lunch hours, it spent a long time with me in front of the TV just sewing.  I’m still not really sure how it got done.  But, boy, it did, thereby allowing me to finish the last ribbon the NIGHT before the race.

When I arrived at the Survivor’s tent on Sunday at 4:30am, the first order of business was to take off the quilting pins…I still think we missed a few.  It was still dark so you can understand how we missed ’em!

But what a smashing success!  Thanks to the photobooth props from last year and a wonderful augmentation from Jill D we were slammed for the entire event.  I LOVED these pictures of survivors and their families having a blast – it made all the pain worthwhile.  Race for the Cure Quilt

And now, I get to pass the quilt on.  Komen Austin is hosting the Perfectly Pink Party on May 4th and this quilt will be one of the items auctioned!  Check out events details at: and go place your bid!!  It all goes to a good cause!


Pattern Review: Insulated Wine Tote

I found this adorable wine tote pattern made by Kathryn Goodman on the Bernina site a few years ago when I was just learning to sew.  It made for a quick homemade project that was spot on with my skill level.

So that Christmas, it was ‘Wine Totes for Everyone!’

Even after making over a dozen of these totes, I still love the pattern.  So when I was searching around for a gift idea for a volunteer board that I head, I immediately thought of this project.  Who doesn’t like a little wine as a thank you for all the hard work you do?  Don’t they look cute all sewn up? 

Just a few tips on this project.  Be generous with the pins in step two when you are basting the exterior fabric to the Insul-Brite.  Otherwise the exterior fabric has a tendency to shift a bit. 

Also plan to be generous with the pins when you attach the interior and exterior. The only issue I have with the pattern is on the handle – and it’s not a deal breaker of an issue.  The pattern calls for a 3″ wide cut on the tote handle.  After sewing the long edges together and pressing opposite edges in 1/2″ the picture in the step shows that the long edges of the fabric are touching but they should be an inch apart if you cut the piece 3″ wide.  I think it’s just a type-o and that you should cut the handle 2″ wide, but if you prefer a wider handle, then keep it at 3″

Happy Sewing!


The Sunshine Skirt


I’ve had some inexpensive pom pom trim in my stash for quite a while, and this weekend, finally got the bug to use it! A couple of hours is all it took to get this simple skirt together. You can use Dana’s Simple Skirt Tutorial over at Made, or any skirt pattern you like.

My daughter is 5, and is pretty true to size, but she doesn’t like her waistband too tight or too loose. Makes for tricky shopping, as most retailers are far from consistent in their waistbands. Thus, the custom skirt is a perfect fix!

I wanted the skirt to be 12 inches from her waist, about an inch longer than one of her current favorite skirts. Then I added 1.5 inches for the waistband, and another 1.5 inches for the hem. I cut my fabric 15 inches by about 46 inches. If you want to just go the normal width of your fabric (44-45″), that will work perfectly, and be faster to cut!

I had never sewn pom pom trim to anything, and I am sure there is a “right” way, but I just pinned it to the underside of the skirt, and sewed a straight stitch down the center of it. 


The pom pom trim I have is not the highest quality, thus the cheap price tag, but it was a good way to practice with this trim. Within 30 minutes of wearing the skirt, my daughter had already torn off 4 of the pom poms! I think the cheaper trim is more suited for craft projects, and not apparel! Lesson learned. She loves this skirt, and it shows… multiple stains from lunch and dinner already living on the skirt. Thankfully, they are somewhat hidden in the colorful pattern!


Quilting Class

We’ve had to interrupt this regularly scheduled blog for obsessive watching of the Olympics.  I’m giving myself approximately 2 years to resurface from the fog…

But it’s not just been all TV watching, I have been working on projects!  So let’s catch up.  I just completed the three part course at the Stitch Lab on beginning quilting.  They recently updated the course to add in a whole class on how to make the binding which was really helpful.  So here is my first quilt!

*Please note I did not make this baby (I haven’t been away from the blog that long!) – she’s a loaner from a friend.

Class one was all about cutting and piecing the top – it’s a nice straightforward design to get us started.Class two was all about the quilting (you’ll have to excuse the quality of these – they are all from the cell phone!).  So we pinned out the quilt sandwich of backing, batting and completed top together.  With this design there are so many options for quilting!  I was inspired by the wavy design of the gray fabric so I free hand sketched a wavy design on the top and got to work.
I started in the middle and worked my way out. I first quilted waves in every 5 inches or so and then went back to fill in with more wavy rows.  This allowed me to keep the top from puckering and creating “mountains”.  Here’s the completed work! Class three was all about the binding.  We cut out strips on the diagonal then pieced them together and ironed them.  The pressing method is to fold in half the long way, then fold raw edges into the pressed center – essentially quartering the length of the binding.

We then trimmed up the batting on the quilt and pinned and sewed the binding down to the top of the quilt.  Haley, the instructor, taught us a nice technique for to create neat corners.  Sew up to the corner, ending approximately the binding width from the edge.  Turn the binding up so that the fabric faces up and the outside edge runs in line with the edge of the quilt.Then turn the fabric face down and align it with the edge of the quilt and sew.Now that the binding is in place, we flipped the quilt over to finish off the back by hand. I’m a ridiculously slow hand sewer so it took me a bit – good thing it’s baby sized!  Here is the finished product: And just one more touch before it left the house – a personal inscription on the back.  Just in case you didn’t already know it was hand made! 


Mini Frilly Apron for Little Girls

I am the Oprah of frilly aprons (“And you get a frilly apron!  And you get a frilly apron!”).  The sewing table has been consumed with making frilly aprons for Heather and Marilyn for Mother’s day and this little cutie for Caroline – a mini frilly apron: 

I based my pattern for the mini frilly apron largely on the adult sized version which I wrote up earlier.  I did a bit of shopping and found that most children’s aprons are 23″ in height.  So I got to work with my trusty calculator and began figuring out how to shrink down my pattern to this new dimension.  I realized quickly that children’s noggins are a lot larger proportionally than the adult version so rather than a single strap that loops over the head, I created strap ties in the kid’s version.  After a bit of trial and error and working with another apron that fits Caroline well, I had my plan.

Now to pick up the fabric!  In all honesty, I didn’t actually have to pick up much because I had leftovers from Heather’s apron (which of course I made to match the mini version!).  But if you are picking up fabrics for yourself, here’s what I’d call for:

  • Fabric 1 and 2: 1/2 yard each
  • Fabric 3, 4, and 5: 1/3 yard each

I’ve used 1/4″ seams for this project unless otherwise noted.  But you should have plenty of fabric if you would prefer 1/2″ or 5/8″seams.  Just adjust your cuts accordingly.

From Fabric 1 Cut:

  • Cut two trapezoid bibs.  Top length 7.5″ and bottom length 11″, 10.25″ tall.
  • Cut two straps 18″ by 4″
  • Cut one frill 34.5″ by 5.25″

From Fabric 2 Cut:

  • Cut one apron skirt 19.5″ by 7.5″
  • Cut one waist 19″ by 4.75″
  • Cut one frill 34.5″ by 5.25″
  • Cut two ties 22″ by 4.5″

From Fabric 3 and 4 Cut:

  • Cut one frill 34.5″ by 5.25″

From Fabric 5 Cut:

  • Cut one frill 34.5″ by 7″

So now you should have a pile of goodies that looks somewhat similar to this: Just pretend I haven’t already sewn one of the straps in the upper left hand corner, I was testing out final cut dimensions.

OK, now on to the longest part of this project: Frill prep.  If you have a serger, you can save a bit of time by serging the top and bottom of all the frills.  If you’re like me, then you’ll just need your good ole friend zig zag on the top of each frill.  For the bottoms, I used a rolled hem.  To create, press the bottom of the frill up 1/2″ Open the press you just made.  Fold your raw edge to the press line and press again.Finally, fold fabric to original press line and press once more.  See, I told you this is the part of the project that takes the longest!  Edge stitch your rolled hem in place.

Repeat the rolled hem on the bottom and sides of each of the frills as well as the sides of the apron skirt.

Sew a gathering stitch across the top of the frill.  OK, now all your frills should look like this:

You’ve got rolled hems on the bottom and sides, zig zag or serge across the top and a gathering stitch on the top.

Now it’s time to start making things happen!  Gather all your ruffles.  Pin ruffle number four (in my case, the brown fabric) right sides together to the bottom of the apron skirt.Directly on top of that, pin ruffle number five (in my case the blue fabric) with the right side facing the wrong side of ruffle four.Sew in place and press seam up toward the top of the skirt.

Next mark the ruffle placement on your skirt.  Mark a line 2.5 inches down from the top of the apron skirt and mark a second line 5 inches from the top of the skirt.  You can barely make out the light purple marking lines on this dark fabric I’ve chosen!Pin ruffle number three right sides together on the 5″ marking line.  (In all honesty, you could simply place the ruffle wrong side to right side, but I like the finished look of a folded seam even if it’s hidden by the ruffle above it!).  Sew and press down.Repeat for ruffle two.  For ruffle one, simply match the raw edge by placing the wrong side of the fabric to the right side of the skirt.  You should now have an adorable mini skirt. Now is the time I like to hold it up and dance around the house Can-Can style, but this step is optional.

Once you’ve stopped dancing, take your waist band and fold one edge up 1/4″ and press.  Match the centers of the unpressed edge of the waistband and skirt and pin right sides together.  You should have a 1/4″extra length (Your seam allowance) on each side of your waistband – see how it sticks out past the side of the skirt?  That’s good, you’ll need that later.Sew and press seam down toward the skirt.  Be sure you don’t have any zig zag or gathering stitches peaking out on the front of the skirt at the waistband.

Next prepare your waist ties.  Fold the tie in half on the long side, press and stitch one short side and length of long side.  Turn the tie, press again and top stitch.

Match raw edges of the tie to raw edges of the waistband.  Fold waistband over the tie so it is sandwiched into place.Sew, open waistband and press.

Now we’re ready to move on to the strap ties.  Create a rolled hem as before on one short edge.  I hate turning tiny things and since the finished width of this tie is only one inch, I decided there was no way I was going to turn that.  So I folded the tie in half and pressed.  Then folded raw edges into the center press mark and pressed again.

Finally I folded along original press lines and pressed a third time.  Top stitch around the strap and repeat the whole process on the second strap.

Pin straps to top of one apron bib, raw edges together, 1/4″ from the sides of the apron bib.  Place apron bibs right sides together with straps sandwiched between.  Sew sides and top of apron.  Clip corners, turn press and top stitch the bib.

We’re almost done! Place skirt front side down.  Place bib front side down.  Match centers of bib and waistband and align raw edges. Fold raw edges under along the waist band pressed fold.  Pin in place.  Top stitch waistband.  One more press and we’re ready for our model!   Look at Caroline work that frilly skirt over her party dress!  So cute.  I hope we can get up to some cooking in this apron!


What’s on the Sewing Table

So this week I’ve been working on some baby gifts for my friend Laura who is just about to pop with her first – a little girl.  I’m so excited for Laura and Jason and I can’t wait to meet the new little one.

I went with some classics: Minky baby blanket, burp clothes and a monogrammed crinkle toy.  Laura *thinks* they are going to name the baby with a name that starts with “E”.  I sincerely hope that they do because this little “e” crinkle toy gave me hell.  The lowercase letters are so much harder than the upper case letters!  Ohy!  Loads of curves, plus trying to figure out how to turn that shape….glad that’s it’s done!  

And don’t worry that I’m spoiling the surprise for Laura (just in case you are block skulking without commenting Laura) there’s one other little treat to go in the gift box so she’ll be sure to get a surprise.