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Back-To-School Quilt

Welcome to my stop on the blog hop for Machine Quilting With Style by Christa Watson of Christa Quilts! My back-to-school inspired quilt is my version of the Static quilt from Christa’s book.

Would you believe I have never done a simple patchwork-square quilt? Honestly, I think they’re more intimidating than most people realize—not because of the sewing, but for design reasons! There’s an art to choosing just the right combination of colors and prints to pull it off. And then you have to get the random placement down—also not as easy as it looks. I admit I’ve started quilts like this a few times in my sewing career, only to abandon them when I decided something wasn’t quite right with the color palette or whatever.

So here’s Christa’s original Static quilt from Machine Quilting With Style—she nailed it, right? Love the colors and prints, and Christa’s method for constructing the quilt helps you get the randomness without sacrificing sewing efficiency. Bingo. I wanted to give patchwork squares another shot.
For my version, I chose a color palette and prints that just felt like September to me. : ) Apples and scissors and reds, blues, yellows, and yellow-greens. (Many of the prints I used are from Melody Miller’s Picnic collection for Cotton and Steel, along with lots of other odds and ends from other collections.) This quilt is perfect for my girls to wrap up in while they’re doing their prescribed 20 minutes of reading a day after school (one of my two is happy to blow way past the 20-minute mark when it comes to reading, while the other one …. well, we’re working on it!)
Mid-way through sewing the top together, I suddenly decided I needed to add some white around the edges. Usually I’m not a fan of borders (if you can even call these borders), but somehow I felt like these squares wanted breathing room. So I gave it to them.
Finally, the quilting! An important (and fun!) part of this book is that it focuses not just on the piecing designs, but exactly how to quilt each pattern in the book as well. Christa used soft wavy lines on the Static from the book, which of course I love (since that’s one of my go-to quilting designs myself!) But for this one, I got it in my head that I should try loopy line quilting. I’ve never done it before, but it reminds me of old-fashioned cursive writing, which went with the back-to-school theme of the quilt. There was a bit of a learning curve, but I love how it turned out and I think I’ll be trying loopy quilting again sometime!
Hope you like my version of Static—and please go check out Machine Quilting With Style right now! It’s an excellent book to add to your quilty library.

Finally, don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog hop to see more bloggers’ takes on the quilts from the book!

Plus there will be additional stops on the hop with extra content from these lovely peeps:

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On Quilting “For Keeps”

I have a big pile of quilts that my family uses every day. Sometimes, those quilts are folded in a neat stack next to the couch, but more often they can be found in a crumpled heap, or my kids are dragging them around the house giving their stuffed animals rides on them, or one is crammed underneath the ottoman, or one’s in the washing machine because somebody spilled on it. And I love that: In my opinion, all of the above are what quilts should do. I adore having that pile available for whatever purpose anybody wants them to serve, whether it’s staying warm on a chilly evening or building a fort for the American Girl dolls.

 

Know when the most recent of those quilts was made? 2012.

Because somewhere along the way, I started taking quilts to trunk shows. And sending them off to fabric companies. And sometimes getting them professionally quilted by superstars whose work are true masterpieces, so you certainly don’t want to drag that around on the floor. And people said things like, “That quilt was in a book! Take good care of it—it’s special!”

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. Love it. I’m not apologizing for attempting to make money on my quilting, or implying that turning my hobby into a job has taken the passion out of it for me. I still love what I do and feel incredibly lucky to have this dream job, even after spending the last year working a little (okay, a lot) more than I might have liked and feeling plenty burned out after Quilt Market this spring. And I still put my heart and soul into everything I make, even my “working quilts.”

But. There’s just no substitute for making a quilt that you know is going to get loved to death by your family. No substitute for making a quilt that’s going to get super soft and crinkly from a hundred trips through the washing machine. A quilt to sit on while you watch fireworks or have doll tea parties. Isn’t that what makes a quilt truly special, not the fact that it was in a book? Whenever I’m making a quilt, my girls always come to oooh and ahhh over it, and invariably they ask, “Do we get to KEEP this one?” And by that they mean, “Do we get to have this one in the pile in the family room, instead of squirreling it away in a corner of your studio, only to be taken out for trunk shows?”

 

Enter Amy Gibson’s new book, For Keeps: Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Living.
You probably know Amy from her Craftsy classes or her blog Stitchery Dickory Dock. Her gorgeous new book has reminded me of the importance of taking time out from things that are designed and made strictly for my business, in order to keep making special quilts for the most special people in my life. It’s a tough balance to strike of course, because there are only so many hours in the day, but it’s important, after all!

And what better place to start than that scrap quilt I’ve been itching to make for months?

I was initially thinking of an Irish Chain quilt, but as these little pairs of squares have started coming together, I’m now leaning toward a postage stamp quilt—a postage stamp quilt of 1″ squares, you guys! Just the kind of beautifully torturous project that you want to keep forever and ever and let your family use and abuse. : )
My goal is to use at least a small portion of every single print in my scrap bins. Every one of them! I’m sure some will get culled eventually, but it’s the working goal for now, anyway. I’ve divided my scraps roughly into 8 color families and my goal is to do two colors a week over the next four weeks. The reds are already done, as you can see. : ) Then I’ll lay them out into a big ol’ scrappy rainbow and spend the next decade or so sewing them all together. Good times.

 

While my particular “balance problem” might be unique to bloggers and pattern designers, I think in this day of Pinterest and beautiful photos online, we can all be tempted to get off track and make things for the wrong reasons. Or to believe that everything has to be absolutely perfect in order to be “good enough.” For Keeps hits the reset button on all of that. The projects range from classic quilts to playmats and pocket pillows that hold books—all written with Amy’s trademark sense of humor and illustrated with beautiful photography that reminds you that the simple things in life are often the best. : )

Amy has also created a For Keeps website with lots of fun extras, including a free quilt pattern, and you can even take the For Keeps pledge to sew for all the right reasons! As of this afternoon, 969 people have already taken Amy’s pledge! So I hope you’ll pick up For Keeps—and check back here for progress on my keeper scrap quilt!

 

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WIP Wednesday: Endless Scraps

I’m saving most of my good stuff for blog posts that you’ll see over the next few days! But I’ve been working away on a couple of projects lately.

My scrap quilt. It. Is. On. After much thought, I’m going ahead with an Irish Chain quilt, but I’m making a bazillion teeny blocks out of a gazillion even-teenier squares because … I enjoy a good trial by fire? What my summer really needed was more monotony? I don’t know. But I think it will be pretty darn cool when it’s done. Oh, and did I mention it’s going to be a color-spectrum quilt? Well, of course it is.

Also. This was happening. Most of Tuesday afternoon, in fact, this was happening. The girls are in a kids’ quilting bee this year (you may have already seen this post about it on Faith’s blog). This month, both of my girls made star blocks! I’ll post more about that next week.

And finally, the kitchen is coming along—I’m currently midway through my second coat of paint. This is where the monotony really comes in. But it’s looking amazing and I love it! So much lighter and brighter in there. Still, painting fatigue is starting to set in and I’ve got a loooong way to go. I think I’d far rather sew a bazillion teeny squares.

So who’s bringing you all this WIP-py goodness today? It’s my newest sponsor, Dinkydoo Fabrics!

Dinkydoo is located in Canada, which means two things:
1. If you’re in Canada: Score!
2. If you’re in the U.S.: Still score! Because Dinkydoo actually gets certain fabric lines months in advance, including Moda. And you can take advantage of the strong U.S. dollar to get great bargains.

Also, Dinkydoo has the new Cotton + Steel lines coming in very soon. And they have a cute zebra as their mascot. Pretty much all the major requirements of a good fabric shop. So get on over there and show them some WIP Wednesday love.

GIVEAWAY: This week, Dinkydoo is offering an amazing prize package: A layer cake and a charm pack of Modern Background – Ink by Zen Chic, plus a box of 100 Clover flower pins! (This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian readers only, sorry.) The Modern Background lines are perfection for scrappy quilts!

To enter the giveaway, do any or all of the following (each one gets you one chance to win):
1. Comment on this post
2. Post a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #wipwednesday
3. Link up your own WIP Wednesday blog post or Instagram photo below

COUPON CODE: Dinkydoo is also offering my readers 15% off any purchase! Use code DD15FRESHLY at checkout.

Okay, what are you working on? Let’s see it!

LINK-UP RULES:

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the “Add Your Link” button below, then click on the Instagram icon at the bottom of the screen that pops up. You should then be able to select any of your recent Instagram photos. Where it says “Link,” use the URL of your Instagram feed (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag your IG post #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.

4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

 

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100 Quilts For Kids Baby Quilt

100 Quilts for Kids quilt

Because “in just under the wire” is now apparently my quilting motto, here it is—my entry for 100 Quilts for Kids, the charity quilt drive hosted by Katie at Swim Bike Quilt.

I’m just gonna say it: This quilt is kind of a hot mess. Fortunately, you have to look closely to fully appreciate the poor construction of some of these blocks. And my efforts to minimize the cut-off points just seemed to make the background wonky instead of improving things. So just don’t look too closely. Please and thank you. : )

100 Quilts for Kids quilt

That’s close enough!

100 Quilts for Kids quilt

Okay, I actually like this particular block a lot, so you can look a little closer at this section. : )

Other things I like about this quilt: My polka-dot background choice, the red cross-hatch binding, and the deliberately over-the-top vintagey goodness of the whole thing.

I quilted it with vertical wavy lines. This is my go-to form of quilting when I want to finish something in a hurry and without having to concentrate very much. Just set your machine to the wavy-line decorative stitch, adjust the settings to a much longer stitch-length and maximum width, and there you have it. It’s quilting that looks free-motion but actually isn’t. You move the quilt straight, the machine does all the work.

100 Quilts for Kids quilt
Threw a binding on and I was good to go. All told, I spent about two hours quilting and binding this little quilt. It’s nice to go for the fast finish every once in a while. I haven’t yet figured out where I’m donating this, but I hope whatever child ends up with it enjoys it, flaws and all.

The 100 Quilts for Kids linky closes tonight at midnight, but even if you’re reading this after the linky closes, stop over there and check out all the beautiful quilts! What an amazing outpouring of effort and kindness.

Have an A1 day!

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WIP Wednesday: Recovering

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
After battling that delightful fall cold for the better part of this week, I finally got up off the couch on Monday and I’m getting my energy back. About time! Feeling unproductive is the worst.

Cartwheels
almost finished my Waterfront Park Cartwheel blocks when I screwed up some cutting and had to order more fabric. Blurg. Good thing I actually started this project in a timely manner instead of procrastinating until the last minute like I usually do. : ) I love how it’s turning out—it reminds me of shards of broken glass, all jagged edges, but yet sparkly too. And I’m so excited about this quilt, because for the first time, a quilt of mine is going to Market to sell my own wares. This quilt will be up in the booth of one of my pattern distributors, in hopes of bringing in lots of pattern orders from shops.

100 Quilts for Kids quilt

With just under a week to go until the 100 Quilts for Kids link-up closes, I finished my charity quilt top with my stray Farmer’s Wife blocks. A black dot print might not be the most typically kid-friendly print, but I had it on hand and I really like it for the background. And that counts for something, even with a charity quilt, right? (Thanks to all of you who suggested dots!) Now I just need to quilt this one up. I’m thinking it needs a nice red binding.

Finally, I’m working on a shot-cotton challenge for the Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild. I wasn’t feeling super inspired by my assigned color—in fact, it kind of left me cold. But I guess that’s why they call it a challenge. : ) Anyway, I think I’m onto something now. But sorry, no pictures—it’s an anonymous challenge because we’ll all be voting!

What are you working on this week? Here are the linky rules:
1. Link up any post from the past week that features at least one unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here to my blog. (Or grab the WIP Wednesday button for your sidebar.)
3. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

 

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Silent Auction Quilt

So, remember the Spoonflower fabric I made with self-portraits of the kids in my daughter’s kindergarten class? Remember how I said I needed to use that fabric to make something for a silent auction, but I didn’t want to make a quilt?

Silent auction Spoonflower quilt

Well, of course, I made a quilt.

I considered a lot of other options, including pillowcases, a big pillow for a reading nook, a tote bag, etc. The problem was I had to make one large item that would entice people to bid high. Somehow, pillowcases or a tote bag just didn’t sound like something people would be willing to pay a lot for, even if it was plastered with their kid’s face! In the end, my husband was the unlikely one who talked me into a quilt. He said, “As much as I jokingly complain about all the quilts we have in this house, I do think people like them—I mean, who can’t use a nice quilt?” Thanks, honey. : )

Silent auction Spoonflower quilt

Of course, I spent so long trying to decide what to make, by the time I bit the bullet and committed myself to a quilt, I had exactly two days to make the thing, from start to finish. Ah, why do I do these things to myself??

But anyway, this is what I ended up with. I think it turned out really cute, in spite of being extremely rushed.

Silent auction Spoonflower quilt

Since I was working under such a tight time frame, I knew I wanted a simple design and a nice easy pattern to follow, so that I wouldn’t have to think. : ) Faith’s Lemon Squares pattern was perfect! It allowed me to feature some nice big squares of the kids’ fabric. I supplemented the kids’ print with some colorful fabric from my stash that coordinated with the little artists’ palettes.

Silent auction Spoonflower quilt

On the back, I used a nice big piece of the print, to show off all those great drawings. (FYI, some of these pictures were taken before the quilt was bound.)

The quilt ended up selling for $250, which I think is wonderful considering that it was a class project and therefore had a limited pool of bidders—only the parents of the other 20 kids in my daughter’s class would be interested in it, after all! I doubt a pair of pillowcases would have gotten even close to that much. And it fetched the highest price of all of the classroom projects (every class had its own). So I’m proud and happy that I could help raise some cash for the school, and I saw the high bidder walking out with it at the end of night, practically hugging it, she was so happy to have won it. That warmed my heart. : )

P.S. Just wanted to note that Heidi of Fabric Mutt has a blog hop starting today called “Girl Friday Sews”—all tutorials designed to freshen up your work space. I love stuff like that! Plus there will be giveaways, of course. : ) So head over there to follow along, and come back on Friday for my tutorial for a fabric-covered memo board!

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Little Patchwork Pillowcase

Zakka Style Sew Along

Welcome to this week’s Zakka Sew Along project: the Little Pocket Pillowcase, designed by Meg Spaeth of elsiemarley.com.

Little Pocket Pillowcase

When Lindsey asked me to be part of the Zakka Along, I basically begged her to let me do this project. It has my kids written all over it—they love cute little animals, and they especially love cute little animals that come with their own homes, beds, and/or carrying cases. So, a cute little animal that can be stowed in its own pocket on a cute little pillow? Three-year-old-girl heaven, I’m telling you.

This project is from the book Zakka Style, compiled by Rashida Coleman-Hale, so you’ll need the book to make it. Lindsey of LR Stitched has spent the last several months running a sew-along of all the projects in the book, and this post is part of that series. Click here to catch up on all the posts.

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This pillowcase might be more involved than the average Zakka Style project because of the diamond patchwork, but even so, most sewists should be able to make it in a solid evening or two. I used Essex Linen in Putty by Robert Kaufman for the body of my pillowcase, winter-white felted wool for the bear, and an assortment of pink and green scraps for the patchwork.

The first thing to tackle: The diamonds, which are used for the patchwork pocket, the bear’s tummy, and the patchwork piping. The book provides a template for cutting out the diamonds, but that is a lot of template cutting. I found it much easier to cut the diamonds from strips. Here’s how I did it:

1. Cut strips 1 9/16″ wide. Yes, that’s a crazy measurement. No, my ruler doesn’t have 1/16″ marks. I just lined it up between the 1/2″ mark and the 5/8″ mark. Trust me, it’ll work. : )

Patchwork Pillow diamonds

2. Line up the 60-degree mark on your ruler with the bottom of the strip and trim off the end of the strip on an angle.

Patchwork Pillow diamonds

3. Measure 1 7/8″ over and cut another angled line using the 60-degree mark on your ruler. Ta-da, you have a correctly-sized diamond.

The most challenging part of this project for me was the piping on the pillowcase—I’ve never made piping before, so this was all new to me. The book says to use 1/4″ piping cord, but that seemed awfully chunky to me for such a little pillow, so I went with 1/8″. Even the 1/8″ cord seems wide to me, but that might be because I have no idea how to make piping, so I didn’t get the fabric casing very tight around the cord. LOL.

Little Pocket Pillowcase

The bear was very easy to make and turned out so cute. You’ll want to have a chopstick on hand for turning and for jamming stuffing into those little legs and ears.

C and Barry

As you can see, my daughter really loves this bear—she named him “Barry.” (Well, I think she meant “Beary,” but we won’t quibble over spelling.) All in all, this was such a great project! And based on my daughter’s very positive feedback, I recommend it as a gift for the little girl (or boy!) in your life. : )

As part of the Zakka Sew Along, I’m giving away some variety packs of lovely Aurifil thread, which you probably already know is the bomb. Three winners will get an Aurifil thread pack, and one lucky winner will get an Aurifil thread pack and an Aurifil color card! Just leave a comment on this post for a chance to win.

And finally, don’t forget to check out Lindsey’s post for her Zakka Along giveaway—this week, it’s a fat-quarter bundle of the Le Femme line by Robert Kaufman. Plus, link up your own Little Patchwork Pillowcase for a chance to win even more prizes. Enjoy your pillowcase!

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AnneMarie’s Quilt

As you may have already heard, my friend AnneMarie of Gen X Quilters recently added a new member to her family! She had a rough, uncomfortable pregnancy, so Elizabeth, Amy and I decided to get together and surprise her with a little something for the baby. I’m guessing her new little man has plenty of quilts, but you can always use another one made by friends, right? : )

We decided on some basic, bright-colored, fun log-cabin blocks. Each of us made three blocks, and I quilted it.

I put some of my favorite little-boy prints on the back—the brown and blue plaid from Katie Jump Rope, a Pezzy print, and a few others.

I’ve been wanting to improve my straight-line quilting, so I opted for straight lines on the diagonal across the quilt. I recently got a new walking foot that has this quilting guide on it—why didn’t I know about this little doohickey before?? It makes straight-line quilting so much easier, no marking necessary! I just marked the center diagonal and used the guide to work my way out from there. The only problem with using a quilting guide like this is if you get a little crooked or curvy on one line, all the lines after that will be the same, because you’re always using the previous line as your guide. In fact, the flaws might even be magnified as you stitch more and more lines. So I sometimes took the quilt off my machine, laid it out on the floor and inspected my lines. If they were looking a little crazy, I marked the next line in order to straighten things out again. But I only had to do that 3 or 4 times, I’d say.

And it turns out that I really don’t mind straight-line quilting—as long as I don’t have to turn the darn quilt! It’s the turning that I despise. So you may see more edge-to-edge straight-line quilting from me in the future.

Congratulations, AnneMarie, on the addition to your family! Enjoy the quilt!

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Busting Out the Dance Bag

So, this adorable kid has been taking dance classes for the better part of three years now. And I have been intending to make her a dance bag … for the better part of three years now.

This is the dance bag I finally made for her, after all this time. It took me the better part of three hours. Yep, gold-star mom, right here. : )

Anyway, this is from a free tutorial by Simply Modern Mom. I love that it’s a hobo bag, instead of a too-cutesy little tote bag. E. feels pretty stylin’, in fact. The fabric is Peacock Lane, with a Michael Miller Dumb Dot for the lining. You gotta have pink and black for a dance bag, right?

I made a few changes from the tutorial—since I used lightweight quilting cotton, I added some fusible interfacing to the lining. (I hate how fusible interfacing always seems to bubble and wrinkle in the finished product, so my solution was to fuse it to the lining instead of the outer fabric.) I also eliminated the braided handle, and I added a magnetic snap, because I know my daughter, and I know the contents of this bag will just end up on the floor of my SUV without some sort of closure. I used this fab tutorial from Sew Crafty Jess’s blog to put in the snap—magnetic snaps couldn’t be easier! Really!

Edited to add: I’m linking up to TNT Thursday at Happy Quilting and the Threading My Way linky for bags and totes! Great idea, Pam!

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Christmas Swap Round-Up

So how was everybody’s Christmas? Is the whirlwind done at your house? It is for me—we had a lot of fun and the girls looove their gifts, but I can’t say I’m sorry it’s over now. : ) I actually have a few moments to breathe again!

But before we usher in 2012, I need to share a few last swap goodies from 2011. I swore off most traditional swaps a few months ago, because I seem to just spend way too much time on them, but Sukie suckered me in with her Twitter Secret Santa Swap. We weren’t required to send a handmade item, but of course when it came down to it, I couldn’t resist making something. After all, my partner was the amazing Katy of I’m a Ginger Monkey and Fat Quarterly! Send her a secret santa gift that didn’t include something homemade?? As if.

So here’s the gift package I sent to Katy (which she finally received yesterday, so now I can show it to you!) Thangles, a Clover marking pen, some hand-dyed perle cotton, and a FQ from Denyse Schmidt’s Picnic and Fairgrounds line from Joanne’s. (I was thinking those prints may not be available in the U.K.?)

And I made her this mug rug using Badskirt Amy’s x-and-plus tutorial and a newspaper-print fabric. I used wavy-line quilting on it because that’s one of my favorite quilting tricks, and I learned it from Katy! I hope she enjoys it!

 

 

My Secret Santa swap package came from the talented Amy of Stitchery Dickory Dock. Check out the incredible stuff she sent to me: How adorable is this notebook?? I’ve loved this fox paper-piecing pattern for ages and she totally nailed it with the colors and prints.

 

And that’s not all—she also sent me this coffee cup cozy, the travel mug that’s in it, and she filled the mug up with candy! Whew!

I love the cozy’s Half-Moon Modern prints and handstitching. (You can find a Moda Bake Shop tutorial by Amy for this very cozy right here.) And it just so happens that I have another one of these Copco mugs
and it is my absolute favorite, so I’m thrilled to have another one. It fits in my Keurig coffee maker (many travel mugs don’t) and it’s nice and simple, functioning like a basic Starbucks disposable. Except that this one has a reclosable spill-proof lid, which I’ve never seen on a Copco mug, and I couldn’t even find it on Amazon! So yes, I love it—clearly, the fact that I’ve gone on about a mug for an entire paragraph should indicate that I will treasure it forever, LOL. Thanks, Amy, I love it all!

I also swapped recently with Becky from My Fabric Obsession. I designed a new blog header for her and she sent me these fun goodies in return—a Jane Market Bag in Neptune, and some coordinating FQs! You guys—it’s Neptune! I love this collection so much. I bought a layer cake way back when it first came out, but frittered most of it away on some pillows that I didn’t even end up liking (this was back when I still didn’t really know what I was doing). I used most of the remaining scraps in my Single Girl quilt. So I’m super excited to get a second chance with this hard-to-find collection. Now I just need to decide what I’ll do with it! And the bag is so roomy and useful—I’ve already used it probably a dozen times. I even packed some stuff in it when I went out of town for the holidays. Thank you, Becky!!

And here’s one more Christmas present for me (and my girls). I won a giveaway from Kylie of My Addiction to Quilting. She sent me this soccer ball entirely hand-pieced from hexies! The girls love it—it’s so nice to have a ball they can freely chuck at each other, LOL. Kylie also sent some beautiful purple fabrics, and I seem to be eternally short on purple in my stash, so they are much appreciated. Thank you, Kylie—you are so sweet to send these all the way from Australia!

One of my favorite things about having this blog is how I’ve been able to send items all over the country and the world, and receive things right back. Australia, the U.K., Europe, Canada–what a wonderful exchange. Here’s to more swaps in 2012.