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Kitchen Remodel: Final Pictures

Well, it took me a while, but I finally got my act together and got some pictures posted of my big kitchen refresh project from last summer!
And I have to admit, I kind of love looking at these pictures, because the transformation really is amazing. Yes, it was a ton of work, but all totally worth it.
So first, here’s a little “before” action for you.
And here’s the after!
To recap, I made the following changes:
1) Built the existing upper cabinet boxes up to the ceiling (and purchased/installed new cabinet doors that fit the taller dimensions)
2) Painted all the cabinets (upper and lower) white (Sherwin Williams Snowbound)
3) Painted the walls more of a greige (versus the yellow-white that was there before). I would like to have gone even grayer, but thought it might clash too much with the granite.
4) Took down the window treatments, replaced the light fixtures, and replaced artwork.
Countertops, flooring, and appliances all stayed the same.
Obviously, the first change you probably noticed was the white cabinets. But I would argue that the even more impactful change was building the cabinets up to the ceiling. It’s amazing how small and builder-grade the original cabinets look, now that I compare them to the “after” picture! Taking them up to the ceiling instantly made them look more expensive and more custom. It was a major undertaking, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. For more on how I extended the cabinets, click here. I purchased the new cabinet doors from Cabinet Door World—12 new unpainted upper doors ran me about $900, including shipping.

Another before shot, looking toward the breakfast area.

A few other details: I replaced the can light above the sink with a hanging fixture, using this $16 conversion kit. If you’ve ever changed a light fixture, converting a recessed light to a hanging fixture is just as easy! I also swapped out all the cabinet hardware.


These glass-doored cabinets were a challenge, in that I didn’t feel like painting the inside of them. LOL. So instead I used them as an opportunity to bring some pattern into the room by adding herringbone peel-and-stick wallpaper, which I purchased here. It was super easy to install and it’s repositionable if you screw it up.


I chose Sherwin William’s Snowbound for the cabinets, mainly because all my existing trim and interior doors were already painted that color. The pantry doors you can see next to the ovens in this photo weren’t touched. I thought it made the most sense to keep everything consistent.

Of course there are still a few more things I’d like to do. The biggest is that I would love to take down that small granite backsplash and instead do a subway tile backsplash that extends to the upper cabinets. But I really don’t think I want to take on a tiling project myself, so that’s going to have to wait until we can get a pro. In fact, see the pass-through on the far left? I would love to do subway tile on that entire wall, all around the pass-through. How fabulous would that be?
I also feel like there’s more I could do with this breakfast area, but I’m just not sure what. I would love to put in some kind of banquette to make it cozier, but not sure how that would work with so many doorways and windows. Still contemplating.

The more I look at the “before” pictures, the more amazed I am that I lived with it the old way for as long as I did. LOL. Funny how that happens!

Oh, and just for fun, since you made it down this far, check out the before before pictures of our kitchen! This is what it looked like 11+ years ago, the day we did our final walk-through before purchasing the house. We gutted it right after we bought the house, making the kitchen work space larger by walling up the exterior door on the right and pushing the peninsula into that spot. We also added the arched pass-through where the refrigerator is in this photo. The evolution of a kitchen—it has come a long way, hasn’t it? Funny though, that we went back to white cabinets in the end!

Thanks for checking out my kitchen refresh! As always, I will update this if I make any additional changes!


My Studio Tour

Today is a day of new beginnings around here. My youngest started kindergarten this morning (all-day school for the first time!), my older daughter started second grade, and my husband is starting a new job today, after a bit of time off. It’s been an emotional day already, and it’s only 9 a.m.

Of course, I’d be lying if I said a part of me hasn’t looked forward to this day for years. All that time to myself! The quiet! Finally, I can have my coffee and sew in peace! But then I walked the girls to the bus stop this morning, and the bus pulled up, and on they got, and they waved goodbye to me through the windows, and I waved and blew them kisses, and the bus pulled away, and I watched it until it turned the corner, and I walked back into the house, and … it was quiet, all right. Just me and the dog. And my entirely-too-peaceful coffee.

But you know what? I have my sewing. And I have all of you. And I get to turn over my own new leaf today. My new studio is finished! I’m sewing in it for the first time today, and I can’t wait to show it to you guys!

So, as a reminder, this is supposed to be our formal living room, but we’ve never used it that way. It served for many years as the girls’ playroom, but we recently moved the girls’ toys down to the basement and I took over. You can read all the details—and see some “before” pictures—in my first post about the new studio, right here.

The cutting tables are from Improvements and the stools are from Amazon (click here). The stools are easily one of my favorite things in this space. The surface of the wooden seats is a little rough and could use some sanding, but other than that I have zero complaints. The color of the wood is much darker than it appears in the Amazon listing, but I like them even better that way!

The Improvements cutting tables were such a bargain, I actually purchased two of them and placed them end-to-end, for loads of extra space to spread out fabric and projects. These tables are not fun to put together, and the finish on the corner of one of mine was dinged up pretty badly (I was able to mostly hide that with my end-to-end configuration). But they seem very sturdy (once I managed to put them together correctly), so overall I’m pleased. I was even able to turn two of the bookcases around and install them facing in the opposite direction, so that when the tables are placed end-to-end, I have hidden storage underneath. Love it!

And yes, there’s my Ikea Knodd aqua trash bin. It got lots of love on Instagram last week. : ) I’ll be throwing my scraps in there for sorting later.

The shelves at one end of the tables are for scrap storage. Eventually I’m planning to make some storage cubes that fit better in the cubbies, from this tutorial by Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts.

And the WIP storage area is at the other end. Look, I have room for more WIPs! : ) Gonna have to work on that.

On top of the table: Cutters, rulers, and marking tools galore.

Here’s my machine, sitting pretty in the center of it all. I have the Arrow Gidget II sewing table with a custom plexiglass insert. The table is just okay—it doesn’t seem as steady as the drop-in table I had for my previous machine (which sadly only fit that machine). And I wish the Gidget didn’t position my machine in the dead-center of the table. A little more table space to the left of the machine would be perfect. The mini quilt above the machine was made for me by Kaelin of The Plaid Scottie!

Above my machine is a magnetic knife rack for scissors and other tools, plus storage components, all from Ikea’s Fintorp system.

Unfortunately, there are very few drawers in this studio, but I remedied that with this aqua (of course!) Raskog kitchen cart from Ikea. I can pull it up next to my sewing machine if needed, or it can be pushed out of the way underneath the cutting tables. And look: Mason jars of Aurifil! That’s what happiness is made of. : )

The bookcases are (yep, you guessed it) Ikea. I wanted something inexpensive and relatively shallow. I searched high and low and couldn’t find anything better for my purposes than Ikea’s Billy bookcases, which are just 11″ deep, only $60 (in white), and well-made for the price. I bought two of these that are entirely dedicated to fabric.

I have far too much green and blue fabric. Please make a citizen’s arrest if I buy more anytime soon.

Here’s my little bookcase full of quilting books and magazines. This is the one piece of furniture I had from before. : )

Up above, more Fintorp storage, for my color cards. And my handy Kona swatches, a gift from a guild friend, are dangling from the hook.

One of my favorite things about this room is that it opens right up to our screened-in porch! We can’t use this porch for very many months up here in Wisconsin, but I plan to have these doors open as much as possible until it gets cold.

Next to the porch doors is another Billy bookcase, this one dedicated to my inventory of printed patterns. I can’t tell you how happy I am that these are no longer in a jumble of boxes all over the floor. But two or three more patterns and I’ll be out of space again! The pillow on top of the bookcase was made by my friend Anne Marie of Gen X Quilters.

And of course, here’s my design wall. This part’s a little janky, I admit. It’s just a piece of batting nailed onto the wall. With chunks cut out at the top so as not to block the clean air returns, per my husband’s instructions. : ) But it does the job. By the way, that reindeer up there is part of my Nordic-inspired Christmas quilt pattern, coming soon. (And no, I didn’t paint the doors yet. But deadlines are looming, so I had to get this studio functional and get moved in. Those doors will get done eventually. I hope.)

My desk area is over here. The desk was another bargain Amazon purchase. (ETA: Well, at least it WAS a bargain Amazon purchase, at only $99 – the price has jumped up to $210 since last night! Is that because I linked to it? Curious.)

Here it is from another angle. I adore the combination of the yellow lamp, aqua file cabinet, and beautiful mini quilt made by Jessica of SewCraftyJess. The file cabinet is from CB2 and the lamp is from West Elm.

Last but not least: I bought this gorgeous rustic ladder on Etsy for displaying a few of my quilts. That same Etsy shop has a wider ladder that was a little more expensive, and I wish now I would have gotten the wider one—this is just a bit skinny for quilt hanging. Still, it’s darn cute, and I love having some of my Vintage Quilt Revival quilts displayed in a way I think they were meant to be!

I feel so lucky—blessed, actually—to be able to spend my time while the girls are away at school doing something I love so much, here in this beautiful space. This is 100 percent my dream space and my happy place, and I can’t believe it’s mine! But it goes further than that. I guess I’m not one to sit still for very long (or possibly ever). So without this hobby and this blog—and all of you who read it and cheer me on—I think I would be a mess this morning. Directionless. But instead, I have a job that I created for myself that is creative and fulfilling and as flexible as I want it to be. Not many people are can say all of that. I guess that’s the real blessing—this room is just the icing on the cake.

P.S. You can hop over to my “Sewing Spaces” Pinterest board to see pins that served as my inspiration for this room. 

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Patchwork Napkins

No lie, napkins have been on my to-do list since I got my first sewing machine (that’s, what, three machines ago now?). And it’s so silly that I haven’t made any yet, because they take No. Time. At all. So when I saw AnneMarie’s adorable Patchwork Napkins PDF pattern, and she asked me to take part in her blog hop, I couldn’t sign up fast enough. : )
This pattern really is easy, quick, and fun. And flexible too, which I love. You can choose either of two napkin sizes: Every Day (the size of a paper napkin), and Formal (more generous). I made the Formal size, because that’s how we roll around here. (Kidding—I just have messy eaters!) The pattern also offers four different patchwork blocks to add to the corner of the napkin.

I did the log cabin blocks on both of my napkins. I grabbed a Kona Solids charm pack that I’d had in my sewing room for ages, pulled charms from two color families, and chopped them up for the blocks. A perfect use of that charm pack!

Even though I think the log cabin blocks are probably the most time-consuming of the four block options in the pattern, it still took me only about two hours to make two napkins. I’m definitely planning to make several more, for a complete set!

The self-binding instructions in the pattern are really clear and easy to follow. I wasn’t very confident about self-binding, since I’ve only tried that method one other time, but sure enough, the binding turned out pretty great!

You could probably even use this pattern with only slight modifications to make placemats. Either way, what a great Mother’s Day gift!
Best of all, the Patchwork Napkins pattern is on sale all week! Pick up your copy right here. Or read more about it on Gen X Quilters.
And keep following along with the Patchwork Napkins blog tour, happening all this week!
Mon., April 28   Diane / From Blank Pages
Tues., April 29   Lee / Freshly Pieced
Wed., April 30   Adrianne / Little Bluebell and Amy / Sukie
Thurs., May 1   Kati / From the Blue Chair
Fri., May 2  Debbie / A Quilter’s Table
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Cork Board Makeover

Fabric Mutt

Welcome to my stop on the Girl Friday Sews Blog Hop! Thank you, Heidi, for having me on the hop!

My office/studio is a cluttered mess. There. I said it. I’ve more or less given up on significant improvements any time soon, but if I can tackle just one messy area at a time and make it look a tiny bit prettier, then at least I feel like I’m doing something.

So this week’s project was this sad, boring, institutional-looking cork board.

Cork Board Makeover

I love everything that’s on this cork board: There are postcards and notes from sewing friends near and far, lanyards from events I’ve attended, of course my QuiltCon ribbons, and let’s not forget pictures of my sweet girls. But it’s still kind of a cluttered chaotic mess. Surely there must be a way to make a display like this look a little neater and more refined?

Cork Board Makeover

Silly rabbit, it just needed some fabric. Of course. : )

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So today I’m going to show you how to use a plain, unattractive cork board to make something more luxurious and worthy of your own mementos. I also added a pocket along the bottom to hold those pesky items that you can’t stick a pin through.

You will need:
– a cork board (obviously)
– about 1 yard of fabric (depending on the size of your cork board)
– 2.5″ strips of contrasting fabric for the trim
– a piece of batting about the size of the cork board
– heavy-duty stapler and staples

1. Start by cutting a piece of fabric that is about 2″ larger than the cork board on all four sides. My board was 17″ x 23,” so I cut my fabric to 21″ x 27″.

Cork Board Makeover

2. Measure about 6″ in from each side (short) edge of your fabric and make a cut, as shown.

Cork Board Makeover

3. Piece 2.5″ wide strips of your contrasting fabric into the cuts you just made. Press seams open.

Cork Board Makeover

4. Now measure about 5″ down from the top (long) edge of the fabric and make another cut.

Cork Board Makeover

5. Piece another 2.5″ strip of contrasting trim into this cut.

6. To make the pocket, cut another piece of fabric that is double the height of what you want your finished pocket to be, plus 2.” This piece should have the same width as the first piece you cut, in step 1. I wanted my finished pocket to be 6″ high, so I cut my pocket piece to 14″ (6″ x 2 + 2″) by 27.”

Cork Board Makeover

7. Repeat steps 2-6 to add the contrasting trim on the pocket piece. Measure 6″ in from each side edge, cut, and piece in the contrasting fabric.

Cork Board Makeover

8. Measure up 4″ from the bottom (long) edge, make another cut, and piece in the contrasting fabric.

Cork Board Makeover

9. Fold the pocket piece in half lengthwise, so that the contrasting trim strip stays about 4″ from the bottom unfolded edge, as shown. Press.

Cork Board Makeover

10. I added some decorative top stitching along the top folded edge of the pocket piece, as well as along the edges of the contrasting trim pieces, on both the pocket and the piece for the main board.

Cork Board Makeover

11. Lay the finished pocket piece on top of the main board cover, wrong side of the pocket facing the right side of the board cover. You don’t need to worry too much about the pocket lining up with the main board piece—my primary concern was lining up the contrasting trim pieces. I used my Wonder Clips to attach the pocket to the main board cover.

Cork Board Makeover

12. Sew around all three edges of the pocket piece to attach it to the main board cover. Stitch about 1/4″ to 1/2″ from the edges. Don’t worry about what these seams look like—they’ll be hidden when you wrap the fabric around the edges of the board in the final step. All you’re doing here is just attaching the pocket to the main board cover.

Cork Board Makeover

13. Now you’re ready to attach the fabric to the board. To give it a bit more of an upholstered look, I laid a piece of scrap batting on the cork board, attaching it with a bit of spray baste.

Cork Board Makeover

14. Then I spread the fabric board cover over the top of the cork board and batting, carefully centering the trim pieces.

Cork Board Makeover

15. Flip the board over, draw the fabric around the edges of the board, and staple it into place on the back of the board.

Cork Board Makeover

At the corners, fold the fabric in toward the board in order to create nicely mitered corners.

That’s it! You’ve now got a much prettier memo board for all your collections, reminders, or whatnot. The pocket is handy for bulky items like my Michael Miller Cotton Couture Color Card. And this one small change really has made a big difference in the look of my office. I should have done it a long time ago—thank you, Heidi, for motivating me to tackle it at last!

Keep following the Girl Friday Sews Blog Hop for more ways to spiff up your workplace. Have a wonderful weekend!

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Easy Ribbon-Embellished Placemats

Ribbon-Embellished Placemats
Happy Monday! It’s my turn again this week to share a new tutorial for Art Gallery Fabrics’ Fat Quarter Gang. This time I’m showing you how to make some easy, ribbon-embellished placemats. So head over to the Art Gallery blog to check it out!

Ribbon-Embellished Placemats
These placemats are made using one of my absolute favorite Art Gallery lines: Modernology! Want to win your own stack of Modernology fat quarters, so you can make something just as fabulous? All you have to do is leave me a comment, and follow Art Gallery on your favorite social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest). I’ll draw a winner on Friday. Have a wonderful week!

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Christmas Tree Skirt Tutorial

It was 102 degrees yesterday, the air conditioning was cranked, and I got too much sun at the pool. Christmas is pretty much the last thing that should be on my mind, right? Except that somehow, December 25 always manages to sneak up on me. And with the inevitable gift buying/making rush, Christmas decor projects tend to take a back seat. So really, why not make a Christmas tree skirt on a 102-degree day in July?


With that in mind, welcome to my stop on the Christmas in July Blog Hop, hosted by Elizabeth of Don’t Call Me Betsy! Every year since I started sewing, I’ve been saying I would make a Christmas tree skirt for my family, and this year, we will finally have one. A few months ago, I pinned this half-square-rectangle tutorial from the Modern Quilt Guild’s “100 Days of Modern Quilting” series. When I went to design this tree skirt, it called out to me. Here’s how to make the tree skirt, using the MQG’s tutorial.

You will need:
– 1.5 yards solid white (or other background fabric)
– 3/4 yard of red prints or scraps
– 3/4 yard green prints or scraps
– about two yards of fabric for the back
– 3/4 yard of solid red for binding

– Cut (18) 5″ x 7″ rectangles from green prints
– Cut (18) 5″ x 7″ rectangles from red prints
– Cut (36) 5″ x 7″ rectangles from solid white
– Cut (4) 8.5″ x 12.5″ rectangles from solid white
– Cut (4) 8.5″ x 6.5″ rectangles from solid white

How to make it:

1. Start by going to The Modern Quilt Guild’s blog for their tutorial on making half-square rectangles. For this tree skirt, you’ll want 24 red half-square rectangles going in one direction, and 12 red half-square rectangles going in the opposite direction. For green, you’ll want to swap that—so you need 24 green half-square rectangles going in the opposite direction of the 24 reds, and 12 greens going in the opposite direction of the 12 reds. Clear as mud? Great. Moving on. : )

2. So you should now have a total of 72 finished half-square rectangles. Again, following the instructions from the MQG’s tutorial, make those 72 units into 18 diamond blocks.

3. Lay out your completed diamond blocks as shown above. The first three rows are staggered, followed by a row that isn’t staggered, followed by two more staggered rows. The 8.5″ x 12.5″ white pieces go in each corner, and the 8.5″ x 6.5″ pieces are in the second row in from each side, at the top and bottom.

4. Once I completed the top, I decided to baste the skirt before trimming it into an octagon shape. (I figured it would be easier to baste while the skirt was still square, but I didn’t want to spend time quilting areas that would eventually be trimmed off. So trimming after basting but before quilting was my solution—but you could really trim at any point in the process.) To create the octagon, measure along the edges of the basted skirt, 16.25″ from each corner, and make a mark.

5. Then lay your ruler diagonally across the corner, from mark to mark, and trim. Voila, it’s an octagon! Oh, and save the corner pieces that you cut off—they’re great for practicing your FMQ!

6. Now you’re ready to quilt. Since this was the first project I quilted on my new Horizon, I wanted to try a free-motion design that I’d never done before—and since I’ve never done anything but stippling, I had lots of options. : ) I went with loopy squiggles.
7. Now comes the scary part: Cutting into an almost-completed quilt to make space for the tree trunk! I used a cereal bowl to trace a circle in the dead-center of my skirt (dead center is easy to find thanks to the block seams).

8. Once the circle was traced, I used a ruler and my rotary cutter to cut right down the center seam of the quilt, starting at the top edge and stopping once you’ve cut into the traced circle.

9. Then I used my scissors to cut out the center hole.

Looks more like a tree skirt now, right?

10. That just leaves binding. With the octagon’s odd angles and the circular hole in the center, bias binding is a must here. I always make continuous binding when I use bias—click here for a great tutorial on how to do this from Julie of Jaybird Quilts (scroll down to Method #2). It’s a convenient way to make bias binding, and results in less waste. I made my binding from a 27″ square and had plenty left over.

11. To bind around the odd angles of the octagon, I used this tutorial by Heather Mulder Peterson of Anka’s Treasures. It’s more or less the same concept as binding 90-degree corners. Once you’ve gone around the octagon, keep going down one of the long cut edges, around the inner circle and back up the other cut edge, right back to where you started, like a normal square quilt.

Christmas in July
And there you have it! One bright, modern Christmas tree skirt, and I already have one less thing on my holiday to-do list! Woo hoo!

But wait, here’s the best part: Now I get to give away a big ol’ bundle of fabric to one of you, to get a head start on your own Christmas projects! The Intrepid Thread is sending one lucky winner an FQ bundle of the entire “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” line by Creative Thursday. How adorable are those little cardinals?? Just leave a comment on this post telling me how you would celebrate Christmas … in July. Margaritas? Trip to the beach? Lying in the hammock all day? : ) (THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.)

Oh, and just in case you don’t win that lovely bundle, Manda of Manda Made Quilts is hosting a Christmas in July Charm Swap and needs about 15 more swappers. Sounds like a good way to get a variety of holiday prints—all the details are here.

intrepid thread ad

Thank you to The Intrepid Tread for sponsoring today’s giveaway! And don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog hop—the full schedule is below. Now, off to the pool! : )

Monday 7/16 – Don’t Call Me Betsy
Tuesday 7/17 – Sew Crafty Jess
Wednesday 7/18 – Pink Penguin
Thursday 7/19 – Freshly Pieced
Friday 7/20 – Sew Sweetness
Monday 7/23 – Happy Quilting
Tuesday 7/24 – Comfort Stitching
Wednesday 7/25 – Diary of a Quilter
Thursday 7/26 – Felicity Quilts

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Lego Storage Bag/Playmat

Welcome to my stop on the 12 Gifts of Christmas Blog Hop!

Today I’m showing you how to make a drawstring Lego storage bag that doubles as a playmat. Fun, cute, and useful!

I think Legos strike fear into the hearts of organized moms everywhere. We store ours in a big plastic tub, but a few pieces always seem to disappear when my daughter dumps it out to play. And she hates putting all those pieces back into the tub.
So I went in search of an item my sister had for her Legos 25-plus years ago. It was basically a big circular piece of fabric with a drawstring around the edge. The Legos were stored inside, but when you wanted to play, you could lay the fabric out completely flat and spread out the pieces directly on the fabric. This allowed you to easily find the piece that you wanted—but when it came time to clean up, just pull up the drawstring and you’re done. Genius! Apparently they no longer make this handy contraption, but that’s where a little sewing skills are useful, right? Plus I could make my version a whole lot cuter than the ’70s-looking fake denim I recall my sister’s being made from.This bag spreads out to become a playmat that’s about 50″ wide—a generous size even for the most Lego-obsessed kids. And the bag/playmat combo would be great for other types of toys as well—I’m thinking baby toys, stuffed animals, matchbox cars, or anything with lots of small parts.
You will need:• Approximately 40 pieces of fabric, 4.5″ x 22″ (The 22″ length can include a selvage—the selvages will end up hidden. A fat-eighth bundle would be perfect for this project.)• 9″-10″ square of fabric for the center• Total of 1.75 yards for the back of mat/inside of bag• 1/2″ grommet-setting kit and 20 grommets (don’t be afraid of grommets! They’re so easy!)• 20 – 1.5″ squares of fusible interfacing
• About 14 feet of cotton braided cord (I used 3/16″)• 6 inches of 1″-wide twill tape for the drawstring slider
How to make it:
1. On your 4.5″ x 22″ pieces of fabric, mark the bottom edge 1.75″ from each side, as shown. If you are using a piece with a selvage, make sure to mark the selvage end. 2. Cut the piece on an angle, from one of the marks you just made at the bottom of the rectangle, to the outer corner at the top of the rectangle. Repeat on the other side, cutting from mark to outer corner. If you’re using pre-cut fat quarters or fat eighths, check that the length of your pieces is precisely 22″ before cutting. Length variances can throw off your angles here.

3. You now have a wedge-shaped piece that looks like this. Repeat the first two steps until you have 40 wedges.

4. Sew your wedges together, lining up the tops of the wedges. It doesn’t matter if the bottoms line up. I pressed my seams open.

5. Sew your wedges together in sets of 10. Ten wedges makes a quarter of the circle. Sew the quarters together to create the full circle.

6. When you’re ready to sew the final seam in the circle, stop and lay out your circle so that it’s as flat as you can get it, regardless of whether your final two raw edges match up. If they do match up, congratulations, you are a sewing rockstar! As you can see, mine didn’t come together so well. If you have a gap in your circle when it’s lying as flat as it can be, as I did, that means you probably need to add one more wedge. That’s why I said you would need approximately 40 pieces of fabric for this project. : ) So at this point, I cut and pieced wedge number 41 into the circle.

7. Now that I’ve added another wedge, when my circle is lying as flat as possible, the raw edges actually overlap, especially toward the outside of the circle.

8. To fix that, use the top (overlapping) piece as a guide to cut the bottom piece. Line up your ruler with the edge of the top piece and trim. You can now sew your final seam and you end up with a flat wedge-pieced circle measuring about 50″ across. (By the way, I think this would also be a great way to make a Christmas tree skirt or a quilt.)

9. To create the center, I traced around one of my salad plates, which are about 8.25″ across.

10. Cut out your circle and pin it into place, covering the hole in the middle of the circle as well as any selvages.

11. Applique your center circle by sewing around the edge with a zig-zag stitch.

12. To prepare for setting your grommets, take the 1.5″ squares of interfacing and press them onto the wrong side of the circle. (The interfacing will give your grommet a little more stability.) I placed my interfacing squares in the center of every second wedge piece, with the top edge of the square about 1″ from the raw edge.
13. Now the outside of your bag is looking good, so let’s tackle the lining. Circle measurements require too much math for me, so instead, I laid out the outside of the bag and then laid pieces of fabric over it until I had a design that I liked and the entire outside was covered. Then I sewed all the pieces together and laid out both the outside and the lining again. Using the outside of the bag as my guide, I trimmed the lining into a circular shape, leaving about 1/2″ of extra fabric all the way around.14. Pin around the edges and sew a 1/2″ seam around the perimeter, leaving an opening about 5″ wide for turning. Trim excess seam allowance.

15. Turn your circle right side out and press.

16. Top stitch around the outside of the circle. I stitched 1/4″ from the edge and about 2″ from the edge. I used the top stitching to close up the opening I left for turning.

17. Now you need to cut the holes for your grommets. I know, this part is scary. If you screw up, you could be ruining the whole project. But no pressure! I promise you can do it! : ) Feel each wedge to find the ones with the interfacing that you added before turning. On each wedge with interfacing, mark the center of the wedge about 1.5″ from the top. Then cut a small “X” into all three layers of fabric (outside, lining, and interfacing). I did this by pinching a small fold right where I wanted the X, and then clipping a V, which turned into an X when unfolded again. Finally, to clean things up a bit, snip off the points that you created.

Adding the Grommets and Finishing the Bag

1. First, don’t buy the Dritz grommet-setting kit that’s available at Joann. I started with that one, but the plastic setting tools are so cheap and poorly made, they only lasted for six grommets. Buy your grommet kit from a hardware store instead. I got this kit from my local Ace—it was only $1 more than the kit from Joann and it works way better. (My kit came with brass grommets, but I also found satin nickel refill grommets and used those instead.)

2. A grommet kit has four basic parts: The anvil, the setting tool, the grommet barrel, and the washer. The washers sometimes have pointy teeth on one side to grab the fabric you’re setting the grommet into.

3. To set the grommet, position the barrel piece on the anvil with the barrel sticking up, and put the X-shaped hole in your fabric over the barrel of the grommet, as shown.

4. Put the washer over the barrel and the fabric, as shown, teeth pointing down.

5. Put the setting tool on top of it all and use a hammer to wail on that bad boy until it flattens out and becomes attached to the fabric. You may have to put some arm into it—I don’t recommend trying this during nap time. : ) Also, be sure you are doing this step on a very hard surface—like concrete or a work bench. I don’t want to be responsible for any maimed dining room tables.

6. That’s it—you’ve just installed a lovely, professional-looking grommet.

7. Add the braided cord, lacing it in and out of the grommets around the perimeter of the circle. Knot the ends of the cord. Take your twill tape and wrap it in a figure 8 around the two ends of the cord, just above the knots. Sew down the middle of the figure 8 to create a drawstring slider. And you’re done! You now have a Lego keeper that turns into a handy playmat while the Legos are in use.


The giveaway is now closed.

Thank you to the Fat Quarter Shop for sponsoring the giveaway. Another big thanks goes out to Jennifer of Ellison Lane Quilts for hosting this blog hop and including me in it! Don’t forget to visit all of the other bloggers for own their gift tutorials and giveaways—the schedule is below.
Friday, October 14- Jennifer @ Ellison Lane Quilts
Saturday, October 15- Ayumi/Pink Penguin
Sunday, October 16- Amy/ Lots of Pink Here
Monday, October 17- Faith/Fresh Lemons Quilts
Tuesday, October 18- Penny/Sew Take a Hike
Wednesday, October 19- Kati/From the Blue Chair
Thursday, October 20- Lee/Freshly Pieced
Friday, October 21- Elizabeth/Don’t Call Me Betsy
Saturday, October 22- Melanie/Texas Freckles
Sunday, October 23- Lindsay/Craft Buds
Monday, October 24- Amanda/A Crafty Fox
Tuesday, October 25-Vanessa/Little Big Girl Studio
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Scrappy Rainbow Placemats

Want to make some colorful, summery placemats? Here’s the tutorial for the Scrappy Rainbow Placemats I made for the Make Mine Modern swap.

Before we start, let me again credit Angela, whose amazing Pink Lemonade quilt was the inspiration for these placemats. The original idea was all hers. Thank you, Angela!

You will need:
• scraps in 12 different prints of Color A (I’m using pink)
• scraps in 12 different prints of Color B (I’m using purple)
• 7 – 4.5″ white squares
• 3 – 4.5″ x 2.5″ white rectangles
• piece of fabric for backing/binding, 15″-16″ by 21″-22″
• 14″ x 20″ piece of batting

From six of your pink prints: Cut two 2.5″ squares and two 1.5″ squares from each print.

From the other six pink prints: Cut one 2.5″ square and one 1.5″ square from each print.

From six of your purple prints: Cut two 2.5″ squares and two 1.5″ squares from each print.
From the other six purple prints: Cut one 2.5″ square and one 1.5″ square from each print.

1. Take the white squares and rectangles, and lay them out in a checkerboard pattern, as shown, with the rectangles at the bottom. Be sure to lay out your pieces in a location where they can remain undisturbed until you’re done piecing the top!

2. Now grab some of your unpaired pink and purple 2.5″ squares (so, the prints from which you cut only one 2.5″ square) and start laying them out in a row across the top, between the white pieces, alternating colors, as shown.

3. For your next row, use unpaired squares at each end of the row, and paired squares everywhere else. Again, alternate colors, so that you start to create a checkerboard pattern.

4. Continue laying out your pink and purple squares, following the pattern you’ve established. Be sure to keep your paired prints together, kitty-corner from each other, as shown in the photo above. (Sorry the squares are such a wrinkled mess!)

5. Take your 1.5″ squares and lay them out over the top of your white background pieces. Put a 1.5″ square at each corner of the white pieces, matching prints up with the corresponding 2.5″ squares, as shown in the photo. (You should end up with two 1.5″ squares left over.)

6. Once you’re satisfied with your layout, pin your 1.5″ pieces into place, on top of the white background pieces. Please note that you are not pinning for sewing placement. You’re only pinning them to keep track of where all these teeny little squares go. But trust me, you’ll want to take the time to do this!

7. Last step before you can start sewing: Mark the center line on your sewing machine, if you haven’t already. You will use this as a reference line to sew diagonally across the 1.5″ squares without having to mark all the squares. (This is a tip I picked up from Linda when she participated in the Supernova quilt-along.) I marked mine with a purple sticky note. I used the sticky note because it’s repositionable, so I can put it right over my drop-in bobbin compartment.

8. Finally, you get to sew! : ) Take your first white piece, with the 1.5″ squares pinned onto the corners. Unpin one of the little squares and flip it over, so right sides are facing. (If you’re using a directional fabric, it should be oriented 90 degrees from the way you want it to appear after it’s sewn.) Keep your other three squares pinned, so you don’t lose track of which corner they go on!

9. Using the center line that you marked on your machine, sew a diagonal line across the 1.5″ square, from corner to corner, as shown. Just keep the point of the 1.5″ square on the marked line at all times as you sew, and you’ll end up with a perfect diagonal seam.

10. Do the same with each of the other three 1.5″ squares. You should now have a piece that looks like this.

11. Trim off the excess fabric beyond the diagonal seam at each corner and press your prints out, toward the corners, so you have a piece that looks like this. I recommend pressing seams open here. Repeat the above steps until all of your 1.5″ squares are sewn into corner triangles on your all of your white background pieces.

12. Now for the easy part! Sew together the 2.5″ squares into four-patch blocks. Start by sewing pairs of pink and purple squares together, as shown. Now I recommend pressing the seams to the side, since I find four-patches go together better with side-pressed seams that can be nested together.

13. Sew the pairs together into a four-patch. At this point I went back to pressing my seams open, since it’s no longer important for alignment, and open seams reduce bulk.

14. Now you should have 20 blocks that can be sewn together into a completed top. So go ahead, what are you waiting for? : )

15. Layer your backing/binding, batting, and top, and baste with a few pins. You backing/binding piece should be at least 1/2″ larger than the top and batting on each side.

16. I quilted mine in straight lines, outlining the basic shapes created by the piecing. I also used two different colors of thread to echo the fabric colors.

17. I used Made By Rae’s “Cheater Binding” tutorial for quick and easy binding. This is why the backing piece needs to be larger than the top—you’ll be folding it around to the front and sewing it down to create the binding. The only change I made to Rae’s tutorial is that my binding is narrower, which I thought was better for a small piece like a placemat.

Good luck! Please let me know if you make these placemats, I would love to see them.


Mosaic Squares Shower Curtain

I finished this up last night—a fresh, fun shower curtain for our guest bathroom.

I basically duplicated this beautiful curtain, made by Rachel of Stitched in Color. This one was all her idea, so thank you, Rachel! I love how the teeny patchwork squares almost look like glass tile. I decided to make mine in a softer color palette, in keeping with the color on the walls.

The strip sets from last week’s WIP Wednesday post became these teeny random patchwork squares that finish at 1″ by 1″. You can find out more about how to make it in Rachel’s post. The biggest change I made to Rachel’s instructions was, instead of sewing the shower curtain, I bought a basic white shower curtain from Target, cut a 6.5″ strip out of it, and set the squares right into it. Easy peasy. No scary buttonholes required. : )

I am rapidly becoming a convert to open-pressed seams. But for this project, I was all about side-pressing. I alternate the directions of my seam allowances (as shown above), so that they can nest up against each other as I’m piecing. Lines them up like a dream, with minimal effort—it’s hard to give that up! I love the nice flat look of open-pressed seams, and they definitely seem to be the way to go with bias seams, but for a project like this, I couldn’t resist going back to side-pressing.

And I was hoping this project would cure me of my desire to make a postage stamp quilt. Strangely enough, now that it’s done, I want to make a postage stamp quilt even more. What is wrong with me??

(Edited to add: Per Angela’s request, the paint is Valspar from Lowe’s, and the color is “Silver Sea.”)

Linking up to Sew Modern Monday.


Fabric Storage Baskets

I whipped up a couple of these adorable storage baskets for my Make Mine Modern swap partner this weekend. I used this seriously quick and easy tutorial from Pink Penguin. It only took me two hours to make both of them, and that was with a lot of distractions (granted, there are always plenty of distractions around here). I could see this becoming one of my go-to items, perfect for last-minute gifts.

One of the requirements for this swap is an item to decorate my partner’s sewing space. These should be good for storing thread or other notions, so I can check that off the list! And I have my partner’s fabric already (we have to swap a total of 1.5 yards of fabric as well). So that just leaves the main part of the swap, my “handmade item,” and I think I’m working toward a plan there as well. It sure is nice to have made some progress on this swap.

I’m linking up to Sew Modern Monday … pop over to Megan’s to see what everybody else was up to this weekend!