Our Most Excellent Doll Quilt Adventure With Belén and Eloise

Belén’s finished quilt top

Eloise with her finished top









This past week, the girls were out of school for the Thanksgiving holiday, so I had the pleasure of their company for two days in a row.  They are always eager to “do a project” and we decided to make a quilt for their American Girl dolls.  It was a great project to use for them to learn how to sew with a sewing machine.

We talked about different styles of quilts they could make and discussed what size was best for their 18″ dolls.  Belén decided to make a patchwork quilt from 5″ squares and Eloise liked a strip quilt design.  I printed off a layout for the designs they chose.  Next, they went through a pile of fabric from my stash and pulled out the colors they wanted in their quilt and then labeled their layout sheets accordingly.

Belén’s sketch of her quilt layout showing her fabric placement

Eloise’s sketch of the order of her strips for her quit


It was fun to watch them sort through several stacks of fabric and choose which prints they wanted for their quilts.





Eloise laying out her strip quilt pieces

For Eloise’s quilt we cut a number of 2 1/2″ strips and she laid them out in the order she had on her sketch.  Of course, she was able to move some of them around so they were just the way she wanted them.  Her fabrics were bright and colorful and included an assortment of storybook prints (Little Red Riding Hood), peace signs, bicycles, etc.  She chose a 1930’s conversation print for her outside border.


Belén gave a lot of thought to her layout


Belén also chose a variety of prints.  I was impressed how she laid her blocks across her quilt at an angle.  She balanced her colors by repeating the fabrics used in the corner blocks.  I think there is a future quilt designer in the family!  Belén had to go to gymnastics for 3 hours, so Eloise and I stitched Eloise’s quilt first.

Eloise was also eager to sew her strip quilt


Since Eloise is only 6, I set the machine up so that she could sit next to me and as I fed the fabric through the feed dogs and stitched strips together for her quilt.  Eloise was in charge of the foot pedal.  When she pressed down the foot pedal, the machine sewed until we were at a stopping point.  Then, we   repositioned the quilt for the next line of sewing and she stepped on it to sew again.

Eloise stepping on the foot pedal of the sewing machine



It was a great way to help Eloise feel a part of the construction process of her quilt top.  She also liked to help me line up each strip as we gradually sewed each section of the quilt together.  She was very attentive and listened carefully for when to start and stop and slow down.  We had a good time!


Eloise also learned to press to the dark side


As we joined the strips together, we pressed each seam to the darker side.  I explained to Eloise why we did this to keep the seam allowances from showing up on the front of the quilt.  We had a good conversation about this.

I didn’t let her use my hot iron, but she was able to use a toy iron and press the seams once again for good measure.

In no time at all, we had completed Eloise’s quilt top and it was time to pick up Belén from the gym.



Belén’s first time sewing on a sewing machine.

After lunch, we began work on Belén’s quilt.  We first sewed the blocks together in pairs and then the pairs became rows and step by step, we sewed B’s quilt top together.

She was curious to learn about the different parts of the machine and why and how it worked, how were stitches formed, etc.

We pinned her blocks together and she sat and stitched them together.  She learned how to chain stitch and why it is a great way to save thread and time.

B getting her blocks ready to press


Before we knew it, her blocks were sewn together and we were able to get the border sewn in place as well.

Once that was done, our first day of sewing was complete.  We decided to take a break and run a few errands in preparation for Thanksgiving.


Belén typing the content for her quilt label on my embroidery software.

The day after Thanksgiving, B asked if we could finish her quilt.  I told her we needed to create a label for the back of her quilt and she proceeded to type the content for her label into my embroidery software.

We worked together to decide what type of border she wanted on her label and she decided to stitch turtles around the perimeter of the border.  When the design was complete, we sent the file to my embroidery machine and stitched it out.

B loves to watch the embroidery machine do its “magic”!








We layered our backing, batting and quilt tops and pin basted them together.  I used my larger Bernina 830 machine to quilt both quilts.  This was such a time saver and we were pleased at the finished quilting.

Next, the binding was cut and pieced together and I stitched it to the back of the quilt, and folded it around to the front.  Before I stitched the binding down, I inserted a 1″ folded strip of red trim fabric under the edge of the binding.  This added a little bit of color to an otherwise very blue border and helped to “pop” some of the other colors in the quilt.

Inserting a 1″ folded strip of red trim fabric into the binding


While I was sewing her binding, Belén enjoyed reading a book called, Sewing Machine Fun for Kids.  It has not only great illustrations of the machine and the sewing process, but a number of games kids can play as well.  In fact, I had an adult tell me that she bought it for herself when she first started sewing and found it a valuable resource.

B really enjoyed reading the Sewing Machine Fun for Kids book while I quilted her quilt





Of course, the final step was to add the quilt label that Belén had designed for her quilt.  It read “Belen’s First Doll Quilt 2017 – I enjoyed making my doll quilt with the help of Nana.  She taught me a lot of new skills as we created it.  I love to sew with Nana.   Belén”.  It warms my heart so much to read her label.

The final step was to sew on B’s quilt label. It really was the icing on the cake!

Next week, Eloise and I will finish her quilt.  She has been thinking about what she wants on her label and I so look forward to spending some more time sewing with her.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and would love to hear about what projects you have been sewing.  It’s such a perfect time of year to be sewing.

Happy Stitching!


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Happy Halloween 2017


The bewitching night is right around the corner so my day was spent finishing up the girls’ costumes for this year.  Here’s a sneak preview…

Final Try-On Before the Big Night!

Eloise wanted to be a fairy again this year.  (I made the girls fairy costumes a few years ago.)  I was going to make her a costume, but when we were out shopping for something else, we came upon a darling little costume that was in the exact color she wanted, so we purchased it.  I told her that we would do something special to make it look magical – so we added lights to the skirt of the costume.

Belen had seen a photo of her Mom (Alecia) and her Auntie Anna when they were little girls with some costumes I made for them.  She asked if she could please be a “Sack of Potatoes” like her Mom was in that picture.

I agreed that she could be a “Sack of Potatoes” but didn’t realize how hard it would be to find a potato gunny sack.  Apparently, they do not use burlap bags any more to store potatoes.  However, a friend of mine had one that she so generously offered for me to use.

After hand washing the bag, I put it on a drying rack to dry.  Next, I removed the stitching out of the bottom bag (the potato sack was printed so that the design was upside down) and pressed out any creases.

I trimmed off 2 1/2″ from the length of the bag and stitched in around 6 1/2″ from each end of the new “top” of the bag, leaving an open area for Belen’s head.  I waited for Belen to try the bag on to insure her head would fit and then stitched under a rolled hem around her neck opening.  (Note:  Because burlap has such a loose weave, I stay stitched the area I was about to cut first and then cut the burlap.  This really helped to hold it in place and keep it from unravelling.)

Belen was so tickled with her finished Potato Sack costume – she just beamed!

After a second Belen try-on to properly place her arm holes, I removed stitching from one side seam to create her first arm hole.  Next, I cut a hole on the opposite side for her second arm – this one was faced with a piece of linen remnant.

Her circle of potatoes that ringed her neck were created by stuffing the leg of a pair of panty hose and then stitching here and there to create the dimpling.

I used the same technique for her matching potato barrettes.  It was fun to see her reaction when she did the final try-on.


Eloise was thrilled with her illuminated fairy costume

For Eloise’s costume, I made a small quilted bag to hold the battery pack for the lights.  I put a sleeve on it and slid it onto a small belt.  This held the battery pack for her skirt in place.

Next, I sewed a buttonhole through a couple layers of the netting of the skirt to provide an opening for the string of lights.  I gently pulled the lights through the buttonhole and pinned them in place, while Eloise was trying on her outfit.

Finally, I carefully safety pinned the string of lights in place – and once they were turned on, they were quite the spectacle.  The lights were already woven into a shear mesh, which made them a lot easier to attach.

Eloise was equally excited when put on her finished costume, as you can see.

The girls are all ready for Halloween and were very excited to show their Mom and Dad their finished costumes.

Have you been doing some Halloween sewing as well?  If so, I would love to hear about it.  Wishing you an early “Happy Halloween”!

Happy Stitching!


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Customized Jean Jackets for the Girls


B’s Koala Bear Jacket Back

It’s always fun to repurpose a piece of clothing and, at the same time, do something that personalizes it for someone special.  Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of watching our granddaughters, Belen and Eloise.  When I was asked what “project” we were going to work on that day, I suggested that we decorate some jean jackets.  They loved the idea and we went to a second-hand store and the girls each found a jacket that fit them.

B’s jacket was originally trimmed with some lace appliqués and a lace trim, which were pretty worn.

B’s jacket was originally trimmed with some lace appliqués and a lace trim, which were pretty worn.  She asked if she could help me remove these trim pieces before we washed the jackets.

Belen using a seam ripper to remove a lace embellishment


I showed her how to use a seam ripper to remove the lace trims and she was eager to help – she did a great job and in no time at all, her jean jacket was clear of trims and ready for the washer.


Eloise helping to hang the preshrunk fabric


Eloise “test driving” her Halloween costume

The girls thought about what and how they wanted to embellish their new jackets.  They chose various fabrics to use to in an appliqué for the back of each jacket.

Eloise wanted to assist too, so she helped me pre-shrink and hang fabric to dry.

After the jackets had been laundered, we were ready to begin stitching.

Stitching on Eloise’s jacket back

Eloise also tried on her fairy Halloween costume for a fitting.

Eloise found a fabric with animals from the Quilt Crossing that she fell in love with.  We decided to appliqué it to the back of her jacket.  I backed the fabric with a piece of batting and quilted around the design and stipple stitched the background, to help bring out the animals in the design.

Belen was busy drawing a Koala Bear for her jacket


Meanwhile, Belen was busy drawing a design for the back of her jacket.  She decided to draw a koala bear.  While I was stitching Eloise’s jacket, the girls took a play break and had some fun on the swings and played with Toby.

Such a beautiful afternoon, we just had to take a walk and play on the swings!

We finished Eloise’s jacket that afternoon and she was thrilled to model it.  We decided to add a small elephant on the front of her jacket, for a little added interest.



Raw edge appliqué of the elephant on the front

Eloise was thrilled with her finished jacket


Belen and I discussed how she wanted her koala appliquéd onto her jacket.  I found the perfect piece of fabric in my stash for the inner ears of her koala.  For the body and tree, I used various shades of gray grunge fabric and a piece of black grunge for the koala’s nose.



Tracing B’s koala bear to make appliqué pieces.

I enlarged her drawing about 20% and traced each of the appliqué pieces by placing her drawing, wrong-side-up, onto a light box.  I left ample room around each piece so that they could be easily cut apart and then fused to the back of the relevant appliqué fabric.

The light box made it easy to “fussy-cut” the ear pieces so that I could take advantage of the fabric’s design.  I rotated each ear piece to take advantage of the spherical design on the fabric.

It was fun to see her bear come to life as each piece was trimmed.  I shared a photo of the project with Belen and she was excited.

Fussy cutting the ear fabric was made easier by using a light box.

Previewing the koala bear pieces, before fusing

Next, I fused the koala bear and tree appliqué pieces to the back of Belen’s jacket.I began with the tree in the background and carefully placed the koala paws in the appropriate place, so that it looked like the bear was holding onto the tree trunk.  I also fused the little paws from the right side of the trunk that B had drawn.

The design was first fused to the jacket back


Appliquéing the koala onto the jacket back

Next, I free-motion stitched the perimeter of the bear with a gray thread and stitched so that the bear looked like he had a furry fringe around it.  Once that was complete, I outlined the bear again with black thread, to highlight the features of the bear’s face, arms and legs, etc.  The final stitching was the bear eyes and a sweet little smile and the bear was done!  Next, I stitched the tree with a gray and brown variegated thread.

It’s always fun to use a variety of colors of fabric and thread to build your appliqué.

The finished back of B’s jacket.



The highlight, of course, was to show Belen her finished jacket.  She was thrilled and said, “Oh Nana, I’m so proud of myself!”  She said she didn’t think her drawing would look as good as it did in an appliqué.



Belen, tickled pink in her jacket.

Eloise posing in her jacket – she was so tickled!


Here the girls are modeling their jackets.  This was a very fun project that you too could do.  It was especially fun to have the girls so involved in the process.  Best of all, they loved the finished project and it sure was a lot of fun to spend time with them.


What have you been busy sewing?  I would love to hear about your projects!

Now it is time for us to get focused back on Halloween.  I’ll share some ideas and what costumes we’re creating in a future blog.

Happy Sewing,



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Sam’s Birthday Request

I was pleased to have Sam request a “home-made” gift for his birthday this year.  He had noticed a Gumdrop Pillow that I made Belen and Eloise several years ago.  When we were at dinner one evening, he walked up to me and asked, “Could you please make me a suicide pillow for my birthday?”

Sam’s birthday present request – a “Suicide Pillow” aka Gumdrop Pillow

I was puzzled by what he meant and Alecia quickly chimed in to explain that what he really wanted was a Gumdrop pillow.  Apparently, when the girls got their pillow, they were still quite small and they would try to climb the round-shaped pillow and go sailing over the top of it; hence, it was nicknamed the Suicide Pillow.

The pattern can still be purchased from Amy Butler’s website.


I chuckled at the image of our grandchildren being propelled across the top of the pillow as it began to slowly roll and had never heard the nickname they had assigned it.

The Gumdrop Pillow can still be purchased at Amy Butler’s website.  I was pleased when a friend of mine still had her original pattern and once I traced my pieces, was excited to choose fabrics for Sam’s pillow.




Sam liked the large size pillow, so I prepared the pattern pieces and cut the various pieces required for the pillow.  It was fun to mix the prints.

After taping the pattern pieces together, I cut out each of the required pieces for the pillow.


Next, I embroidered a quote from J.K. Rowling, “Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.”  Sam is in the process of reading the entire Harry Potter series and I thought he would enjoy this quote.

Stitching out the quote on the top piece of the pillow






The quote from J. K. Rowling on the top of the pillow

The pillow is made up of 8 sections.  Four sections were sewn together to form two halves.  Seams were pressed open and then the two halves were sewn together, which created the round shape for the Gum Drop pillow.  Of course, I had to sew a tag into one of the seams.

Sewing the 8 sections together, 4 at a time and then pressing open the seams.

Adding the tag







Bag was ready to stuff!

Front side of tag








Now it was time to stuff the pillow.  It took three 40 oz. bags of Ultra Plush Poly-fil to fill the Gum Drop Pillow and was quite the site to behold.

Now it was time to stuff the pillow.

Slowly, but surely the bag began to take shape.







The most fun part of the project was seeing Sam’s delight when he received his new Gumdrop pillow at his birthday celebration dinner.  He was genuinely pleased to add his pillow/ottoman to his bedroom decor.

Sam enjoying his new Gumdrop pillow

What projects have you been sewing this summer?  I would love to hear about them.

Happy Sewing!



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The Giving Bunny

When school adjourns for the summer each spring, I look forward to the extra time I get to spend with Belen and Eloise.

The special message on B’s rock

B’s special rock with a cute camping scene on the front

Friday before last, I was pleased to spend the day with them.   While we were running a few errands together, Belen found a painted rock that had been planted for someone to discover.

The front of the rock had been painted with a camping scene and the back was lettered with instructions, “Boise Rocks – Post pic, keep or re-hide.”  The girls were fascinated by this little gift and we too thought it would be fun to leave some little gifts for strangers.

I told them about the Giving Bunny I had seen on Urban Threads.  If you go to Urban Threads’ website and click on their “Freebie” link, you can download either a machine or hand embroidery design for The Giving Bunny.  Under the Instructions link for this design, there is an explanation… “Here’s how it works: Download the FREE Giving Bunny design, available in two sizes for machine embroidery, as well as a PDF pattern for hand-stitchers.  Stitch up as many bunnies as you please. Dress ’em up if you like, give them names, attach a tag to each to introduce them to the world, and then leave them in public spaces for someone to find.”

The girls and I thought it would be fun to make some bunnies to give away, so we stitched several bunnies out of an ivory polar fleece.  Both Belen and Eloise had fun printing the names for each of their bunnies on little tags that told the story of the Giving Bunnies.

Eloise posing with some of her “Giving Bunnies”

B with a couple of her bunnies.









We printed off a template for the tags that Urban Threads provides and attached one to each bunny with small safety pins.  Belen added an additional note to the back of her tag that read, ” Hope your bunny finds a nice home!  Belen.

Belen added a note to the back of her tags

A finished bunny with his special tag

Once we finished making several bunnies, we packed them up as it was time to take Belen to her Writing Camp at the Cabin Writing Center near downtown.

After we dropped off Belen, Eloise and I thought it would be a good idea to hide some of the bunnies near the Ann Frank Memorial grounds. Eloise was very particular about where she wanted to place each of her Giving Bunnies.

Eloise initially put a bunny in the Ann Frank statue’s hand, but decided to relocate this one.

Initially, she wanted to put a bunny in the hand of the Ann Frank statue, but later decided to relocate this bunny.  Next she tried a couple other spots around the Memorial grounds.

Eloise hid hers first, while Belen attended a Writing Camp at the Cabin

She was so excited to see who would be the first to discover one of her Giving Bunnies, so she hid behind a grove of trees to watch.

Eloise waiting for someone to discover one of her bunnies

While she was watching, she did not see anyone find one of her bunnies.  We decided to leave and go and get an ice cream cone and check on her bunnies when we returned for Belen’s reading at the Cabin.

Eloise gave a lot of thought as to where to hide her bunnies.

When we returned, one of her bunnies was gone.  She was thrilled and decided to relocate the remaining bunnies in a place where they would be a little more visible.

Hmmmm, this tree was a great place to perch a bunny

We put out a few more bunnies and went to watch Belen read one of her writings from Writing Camp.

Belen did an amazing job and we were so proud of not only her poem, but also how confidently she read it in front of a large crowd of people.  Alecia and Andy joined us to watch Belen too.  She was the first presenter.

Belen reading a piece she had written at Writing Camp

After Belen was finished, we told Mommy and Daddy about the Giving Bunnies and  Eloise helped Belen hide a few of her bunnies.

Ready to stage their bunnies

The girls had such a good time finding the “perfect” spot for each of their bunnies and talked about who might discover them.  It really was a very fun and exciting adventure.

When Mom met up with us later, the girls were eager to tell her about their Giving Bunnies

What projects have you been working on?  It is so much fun to be outdoors with all this beautiful weather.

I hope you are having a great summer and look forward to hearing about any projects you have been working on.

Happy Stitching!


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It’s A Wonderful World Wool Wall Quilt

I have been working on an all wool project and am excited to share it with you in more detail shortly.  In the meantime, here are a few photos to show how I prepare the wool appliqués for stitching.

I first trace the design to the paper side of Heat n’ Bond lite or Soft Fuse

Then I trim around the paper pieces about 1/8″ beyond the border of the tracings – I am able to cut out the center and use it for some of the smaller pieces











Press the appliqué paper to the wrong side of the wool

Now trim the wool piece on the line you traced the original piece with









It’s fun to use coordinating wool to highlight various parts of your appliqué


The final appliqué ready to place on the background







I will provide more details on this project in a few days; but just wanted to tease you with a mini preview of one of the blocks.

What have you been working on?  I would love to hear about it.

Happy Stitching!


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Kindergarten Quilt Rocks It!


Standing next to the finished quilt at the spring fundraiser

Standing next to the finished quilt at the spring fundraiser

Thanks to some very talented kindergarten students and their incredibly supportive parents, the Kindergarten Does Kindinsky quilt was a major success at last night’s fundraiser.

Item #22 - Kindergarten Does Kindinsky on the board

Item #22 – Kindergarten Does Kindinsky on the board

This was the 20th annual fund raising event for the elementary school.  Jack’s Urban Meeting Place (JUMP) was a great venue for the buffet dinner, silent, live and dessert auctions.

There were a lot of great projects the classes made that were auctioned off one by one.

Finally, Item #22 came up  on the board and the bidding began.

This was something I will never forget… Alecia made a few bids, but dropped out around $700 and the bidding kept on building… and building… and building… until the final bid was $ 4,000.  I was in shock… as the crowd applauded the successful bidder.

What a great finale for this fun project.  It was so nice that Alecia, Erica and I were there to see the final outcome and only wish Ann could have joined us as well.

As we were checking out after the event, I was informed that this quilt broke the record for the highest bid for an item in the 20 years of the school’s fund raiser.   As nice as that is, what I was most pleased about is the funds we raised.  They will help pay for the art teacher and art supplies, library and textbooks; computers, iPads and Chromebooks; professional development for teachers, accelerated reading programs; classroom supplies and playground equipment for the school and I was glad to be able to contribute.

What a great way to share the art of quilting!

Happy Sewing!



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90 Years Young!

This morning I had the pleasure of teaching a paper piecing class called Spinning Windmills.  One of the things I enjoy the most about teaching are the amazing people I meet in my classes.  Today I met the most remarkable women and they were awesome students who were all quite proficient paper piecers by the end of our class.

Meet Dollie, 90 years young!!!

Meet Dollie, 90 years young!!!

As we were sewing, we had such a fun time visiting.  I mentioned that I had celebrated my birthday the previous day and Dollie said, oh my goodness, that’s nothing, I just celebrated my 90th birthday.

She went on to share stories about her life and how at the age of 50 she was suddenly a widow with an 11 year old daughter to raise.  Prior to the loss of her husband, she had stayed home to raise her other 4 children.  In a freak accident, her husband was electrocuted a few years prior to his death and this prompted Dollie to go back to school to become a teacher.  She confirmed that was one of the best decisions she ever made because it gave her a means to support herself when her husband passed.  She never complained and said she just “had to do what I had to do.”  She taught full-time for many years and upon retirement, continued to substitute teach until she was 80.  At one point, she proceeded to list off the names of her children and grand children and great grandchildren, along with many of their accomplishments.  She, indeed, was/is a very proud grandmother.

Dollie and her daughter, Debbie working on their block

Dollie and her daughter, Debbie working on their block

Dollie lives in Buhl, Idaho and still drives to do her grocery shopping, hair appt., etc.  She lived alone for many years, but now enjoys the company of her granddaughter, Sarah, who is also a teacher.

Dollie was accompanied by her daughter, Debbie, who she taught to sew.  They share a passion for quilting and learning new things.  It was so much fun to see them work together and talk through  the construction of their block as I reviewed the step-by-step paper piecing process with them.

Dollie and Debbie and their completed block

Dollie and Debbie and their completed block

In no time at all they had completed their first block – such a great team effort.   They  shared they try to learn new techniques often and  take a lot of classes together.

Debbie is very proud of her mother and the amazing role model she is for her and her family.  I’m still smiling as I reminisce about the delightful time I spent visiting with Dollie.  She truly is an inspiration.  It was so much fun to get to know her, along with the rest of the class and I hope to see this amazing duo in one of my future classes or to share a cup of coffee sometime.

Thanks again Dollie and Debbie for coming to Boise to take my class.  It was a genuine pleasure meeting you both!

Happy Sewing,


(Note:  I was given permission by Dollie to share some of her story and I hope I have done it justice.)


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Tooth Fairy Pillow for Eloise

The finished tooth fairy pillow

The finished tooth fairy pillow

It’s always so much fun to be able to personalize a gift for someone special…

Last week when I joined our granddaughter, Eloise, for lunch at her school cafeteria, she showed me her “wiggly tooth”.  She asked if I would make her a tooth fairy pillow and when I agreed, I inquired what she would like to have on her pillow.  She thought a moment and then said a ballerina, which was a good choice because she loves her ballet classes.   After  several minutes had passed she added, “and a basketball” as she played her first season of Y basketball this winter and enjoyed it very much.

I multi-hooped this design using a large oval hoop for my Bernina 830

I multi-hooped this design using a large oval hoop for my Bernina 830

I had a ballerina embroidery design in mind, one that I had purchased from Urban Threads earlier this year.  After reviewing the design, I was certain it would be the perfect candidate for her pillow.  To simplify the ballerina, I removed the background from the original design in my embroidery software.  Next, I inserted a basketball design and reduced it to be the proper proportion to the ballerina.  My goal was to make it look as though the ballerina was shooting the basketball into the small pocket that was stitched onto the pillow for the tooth/money exchange.

To personalize the pillow, I  digitized Eloise’s  signature and placed it under the tooth pocket; I used a variegated lavender and purple thread because her favorite color is purple.

The finishing touch - Nana's label

The finishing touch – Nana’s label

The finishing touch was to add one of my “Nana Loves You” labels to the back of the pillow.

Later that afternoon, I delivered the pillow to my daughter (at her work) so that Eloise would be ready for the tooth fairy’s arrival when her “wiggly tooth” came out.

I got a phone call from Eloise in the evening and she was very pleased with her new tooth fairy pillow and anxious to use it for her “wiggly tooth”.

This rainy, spring weather has provided some perfect sewing days in the studio.  What projects have you been working on?  I would love to hear about them.

Happy Sewing!


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The Kindergarten Does Kandinsky

Earlier this year, my daughter, Alecia, recruited me to help with our grandchildren’s  grade school’s annual fundraiser.  She and another friend/Mom, Erica, and Erica’s Mom, Ann, and I met at a local coffee shop to brainstorm what we could make.  Ann said she would like to help me with this year’s quilt and I welcomed the company.

Our first meeting at a local coffee shop to brainstorm ideas - Ann, Erica, Jane and Alecia

Our first meeting at a local coffee shop to brainstorm ideas – Ann, Erica, Jane and Alecia


We reviewed various ideas and  were inspired by a piece the Russian artist,  Wassily Kandinsky, painted called Color Study, Squares with Concentric Circles, which he painted in 1913.

Kandinsky's Color Study, Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913

Kandinsky’s Color Study, Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913





We thought it would be a fun idea to work with the children to create a quilt that would somewhat replicate the colors and designs from this very famous work of art.




The embroidery design collection

The embroidery design collection

Originally, I thought we could  freehand machine appliqué the circles and then I discovered a digitized appliqué pattern from Bella Nona I could use on my embroidery machine.  I made some adjustments to the designs in my embroidery software; namely, eliminating one of the circles of the designs so that we would have 4 circles of color (like Kandinsky’s Color Study).  I also replaced the decorative stitches   with a wider satin stitch for the outer rings.


Our palette of fabrics to work with to build the quilt blocks

Our palette of fabrics to work with to build the quilt blocks



The next step was to put together a palette of fabrics.  Ann and I went to Quilt Crossing and used a mixture of Kaffe Fassett’s beautiful prints, some grunge fabrics as well as a variety of batik fabric.




Creating swatches for the children to choose their colors from.

Creating swatches for the children to choose their colors from.

Backgrounds for the quilt blocks

Backgrounds for the quilt blocks


Next , we visited the classroom and worked with the children to build swatch bundles of the  fabrics they wanted to use for each of their blocks and also used larger swatches to determine our background colors.



Each child chose the colored swatches they wanted for his/her block

Each child chose the colored swatches they wanted for his/her block

When we met with the children, we   explained who Wassilly Kandinsky was and they were eager to talk about his works of art.  The children were particularly excited by the bright colors we chose for the quilt.  They each contemplated as to what color swatches would be incorporated into their individual block.  We labeled the blocks to keep them in order.


They were excited to see the colors for their quilt

They were excited to see the colors for their quilt

Labeling the background and swatches the children chose to use for his/her block.

Labeling the background and swatches the children chose to use for his/her block.










Now it was time for the construction of the quilt.  I built a matrix to show the different sizes of squares we would need to cut for all the various blocks.  Ann referred to this as she began to cut the fabric squares.  Ann backed each fabric square with Heat n’ Bond Lite to give it more body.  Then the various sizes of the fabric squares were stacked in order of the children’s swatches.

Our first four blocks provided a good sampling of quilt

Our first four blocks provided a good sampling of quilt

Ann backed each of the squares of fabric with Heat n' Bond Lite and stacked the fabric pieces in order.

Each of the squares of fabric were backed with Heat n’ Bond Lite and stacked in order of the swatches.










Meanwhile, I stitched the appliquéd blocks one by one

Meanwhile, I stitched the appliquéd blocks one by one

Ann pressing a square

Ann pressing a square










I used a wonderful assortment of my Isacord threads.

I used a wonderful assortment of threads of my Isacord threads.

My bobbin holder looked like a color wheel

My bobbin holder looked like a color wheel










Ann and I had a fun time visiting as I sewed the individual blocks together.  We had a good system as Ann would prepare the fabrics in order of the color swatches, while I sewed each block together.  I would continue to work on the leftover fabric stacks in the evenings to insure we could progress to the next set of blocks in our next work session.

The digitized signature for each child was the finishing touch for each block

The digitized signature for each child was the finishing touch for each block

Every child also signed a notecard with his/her signature and I digitized these names in my embroidery software.  I added this as the final touch so we could identify each of the children’s blocks with their actual signature.

Block by block, a preview of what the finished quilt was going to look like emerged on my design wall.   Finally, it was time for me to begin to sew the blocks together.  It was so much fun to see our plan come to life.

The quilt blocks on the design wall

The quilt blocks on the design wall

Finally time to sew the blocks together!

Finally time to sew the blocks together!










Once the blocks were sewn together, I added on a black border to frame the quilt.  Ann and I visited the classroom again to show the children the progress on their quilt.   They loved all their blocks and the brilliant colors we used and were very excited!  I also explained the remaining steps that were required to finish their quilt including, sandwiching the quilt front and back (with batting in between), pinning and quilting the three layers and then binding the quilt.

Eloise pointing our her block

Eloise pointing our her block

Ann with Raleigh

Ann with Raleigh









Now it was time to pin baste the quilt and we were grateful to use the Quilt Crossing’s classroom as a workplace because we could spread out.  That evening, I quilted around each of the blocks and the quilt was now ready for the final steps.

The completed label to tell the story...

The completed label to tell the story…

The following afternoon, I showed Ann how I put my bindings on by machine, for a nice finished look.  We also talked about a label for the quilt and decided on the content for the label.  I designed a label in my software and stitched it out and then  hand stitched it to the back of the quilt.

Ta Dah!!! The quilt was finished.  We were so pleased with the final result and anxious to turn it in for the Spring  fundraiser for the school.

This has been such a fun project to make for the Kindergarten class.  I so appreciate Ann’s help and company as she prepped the squares, while I did the sewing – we were a great team!   Of course, we are all anxious to see how the quilt will be accepted at the fundraiser, which will be covered in a future blog!

This rainy weather is a great time to be sewing. What projects have you been working on lately?

Happy Sewing!


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