Snack Mat #3

This is “Boo-Anna”.  I just couldn’t resist. Mostly because I love the glow in the dark fabric (super fun) and we have some cute “scenic” halloween pieces.

The hardest part for me was to decide which fabric to use.  We have this Alexander Henry night time scene with spooky eyes in the trees…

IMG_1577[1]Or this Moda line called “Haunted Mansions”
IMG_1578[1]I cut out my little ghost to help me make the decision, then had to decide where in the ‘scene’ to place it. Once this decision was made, I went ahead and wrapped the piece of fabric around my 5″ x 7″ piece of craft-tex (fusible stiffy used for placemats) and ironed it in place (on the front, and the back).IMG_1579[1]Then flipped it over and fused little Boo-Anna into place, and stitched around her. You can use a satin stitch, blanket stitch or scribble stitch.IMG_1581[1]When you stitch through the fused piece and the craft tex, it is really nice. The craft tex adds just enough stability to prevent any puckering and it’s not so thick that you have any thread issues.

For the other snack mats, I did different finishes. Snack Mat #1 was craft tex with the back 1/2″ bigger all around to create a ‘border’. Snack Mat #2 used fusible batting and the same edge/border. But for this one, I thought I would show you another option. My front and back are the same size, they both have the fabric wrapped around the edge and fused down.IMG_1580[1]Of course I use my ever-popular binding clips to hold them together, and stitched around the edge, again, using my favorite stitch.IMG_1584[1]This is my back, I used the other haunted mansion on the fabric. I should mention one fat quarter was enough to make several of these, even with all of the fussy cutting.IMG_1586[1]I added a little embroidery floss bow to her hair, fused the mouth into place, and drew her eyes with a permanent fine tip fabric marker. I tried to get a picture of what the fabric looks like when it glows in the dark, but my camera didn’t like it in the dark bathroom.

Oliver didn’t like it either. He was a little freaked out when I shut the door and turned off the light. When I added the scary ghost sounds and the ghost levitated through the air all I could hear was banging, crashing and clawing at the door. So I’m not entirely certain he could give a good review of the super cool effect of a glow in the dark ghost. Maybe when he ventures out later he will feel more like talking to me.IMG_1573[1]Or maybe not.

If you pop into the shop this month you can see for yourself!
IMG_1585[1]Have fun! This is a fifteen minute project. Download your printable pattern for SnackMat #3 here .

Mystery Quilt Step 2

The fabric in the picture above is Kansas Troubles new fabric line Paisley Park.  I know I was supposed to use only my old stuff, but I couldn’t help it, I added a fat quarter packet of this. It is beautiful.

I think one of the hardest things about sewing a scrap quilt is they are not as interesting. You’ve already seen all of those fabrics… nothing new and stimulating… so I don’t think it’s cheating to add a few points of interest… (Yes… I AM one of ‘those kind’ of friends… dieting? Fruit Pie is a fruit… not a dessert). I am a very bad girl. I have the stash to prove it.

Anyway,  some of you sent me pics of your stash piles for your mystery quilt. I will have Brianna help me and we will do a photo share in the next few weeks. It is always fun to see what everybody else picks. Send me pictures of this next step too!!

This mystery is pretty easy, it is going to be four different blocks, they will all be the same size, then the way you arrange it is pretty cool (with a few options). I opted for this mystery pattern over one where you have cutting steps, strip set steps and rows… as that makes it too hard to see what your quilt is going to look like. This way you have a bit of control.

So our first step is a floating star.

It is a basic nine patch. Start with eight background squares that are 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. For this particular block I am using the same background for all of the squares, but for my quilt I am going to change it up and use mixed backgrounds. Two reasons to consider this: one is I may not have enough background to make it through the whole quilt, two is I think multiple textures are more interesting and it will create more flow with the other blocks that include lights with the darks.
IMG_1555[1]Next you will need to add your darks. For one block you will need eight 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ squares and one square that is 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. Again, I think mixed darks would be the most interesting, but you can also make several different “colors” of blocks as you will be making quite a few.IMG_1556[1]Of course my center is that luscious new Paisley Park…IMG_1557[1]Yum!

So.. sew those aside and grab one of the background squares and a 2 1/2″ square. Lay them right sides together and mark a diagonal line.IMG_1559[1]You are going to sew right on this line.IMG_1560[1]Then press it over. IMG_1561[1]Now for this step some people like to first trim off that excess, but I tend to leave it. It just seems to stabilize things a bit more and you can see that block would be a tiny bit crooked if I trimmed off that excess background and square  (I have no idea how that happened… but it is typical). One thing to warn you about.. leaving the excess will create a bit of bulk in the seam. You will want to be aware of that when you press, and when you quilt.

Next step is to add another block to the other side,IMG_1562[1]Then trim off the excess, or just press over, which ever is your preference.IMG_1563[1]You will repeat these past two steps with a total of four of the background blocks, then position them around your center block to make your “floating” star.

IMG_1564[2]The floating star is a nice option because you don’t have matching points to worry about later on.

Of course the last step is to sew the nine patch together and press. Your block should be 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ when done.

You have to make 24 of these floating stars if your quilt is going to be a twin, or 40 of them if your quilt is going to be a queen or king.

So get busy…. next step posted in two weeks!

Mug Rug/Snack Mat #2

I drew several options before settling on this little guy. I would hate to say that Halloween inspires me… but there are a lot of images that would be fun to do… I may post another one this month. After all this guy just took about an hour.

Start by selecting your fabrics.


You only need a background, a spider color and a backing. You will also need a few notions:

IMG_1529[1]I am using a 5″ x 7″ piece of fusible batting under my top layer, a 5 3/4″ x 7 3/4″ piece of soft and stable under my back layer and a frixion pen and a fabric glue. I also found a black poly thread and about 12 inches of black eyelash yarn.

First step is to trace the spider onto the background fabric using the frixion (iron off) pen. If you are having trouble seeing the image, use a light box or a window.IMG_1533[1]Then, using the traced image, stitch the legs using your stitch of choice. Some people will use a close zig zag stitch, I like the scribble stitch a little better. Stitch this with the fusible batting underneath. It offers stabilization of the fabric as well as a nice finish and extra absorbency for your mug rug.IMG_1534[1]Once thats done you can add the fused body

IMG_1535[1]I added a touch of glue IMG_1536[1]So I could add the eyelash yarn

IMG_1537[1]I stitched it down, still using my free motion stitch (the scribble stitch). It worked very well, but I had to trim the yarn just a little…. too much hair….

IMG_1539[1]Time to set the eyes… but these were not quite right.

Oliver thought he needed button eyes…


But boring me thought green eyes would be fine.IMG_1540[1]

I stitched the eyes down, adding stitching for the pupils,IMG_1543[1]

then turned it over to wrap the front around to the under side of the fusible web. IMG_1545[1]

mitering the corner to give it a sharp edge. After this was done on all four corners, flip it over, you are done with the top


The backing is a repeat of the last two steps, using the soft and stable and the backing fabric, fold the edges overIMG_1550[1]mitering all of the corners. Then layer the top onto the backIMG_1553[1]clip into place then stitch around the edge using your favorite stitch.

All done!!

Here is your printable Mug Rug #2 pattern. Remember to increase it to 140% for snack mat size. Happy Halloween!!

Mystery Quilt Step 1

Welcome to step one of my Blog’s first Mystery Quilt!! I am really looking forward to this! I know that mystery quilts are not always popular with everyone, I think it’s because there is such a lack of design control. Afterall there are a lot of decisions that go into quilting, and mystery quilts take those decisions away. However, think of this one as a personal “kit”. You get to pick your kit from your leftovers, which of course, makes it FREE and fabulous. The steps are simple and fun. You will have a great time piecing these blocks and your sewing studio will appreciate the extra room the de-cluttering has created!

So this quilt is meant to be scrappy, just lights and darks. No focus, no contrast, no mediums, no zingers. It’s also pretty simple, so it can be one of those nice, gentle projects that can be pieced while you are catching up on Sons of Anarchy or Gilmore Girls.

The reason I picked this project is because my “stash” is out of control. I try to be careful about what I keep and how I keep it, but about three times a year it is ready for a major purge. I work on so many projects for classes, the retreat center and the shop… and I have too many leftovers. I have a rule about what I keep and how it is all organized, and I will get into that in my next post, but for now… my sewing room looks like the above picture!!

I had to search for leftovers that I was ready to get rid of. Those little chunks left from pieced quilts, fat quarter stacks, jelly roll and layer cake bits, etc. That meant I had to go into my closet and open all of the little tubs. So fun to find forgotten gems…. but horror to realize anyone visiting my sewing room may call me a hoarder…. I should clarify… any NON-QUILTER would think I was a hoarder. Quilters would totally get me. 🙂

The bad news is I have about an hour of cleaning before I can sew. The good news is I have a massive stack of leftovers that will become a gorgeous queen sized quilt for the retreat house.

It is confession time. I, personally,  am not super crazy about super scrappy. I don’t know why. I like the scrappy look, I am crazy about asymmetrical, and I love a quilt with lots of color and texture. But when I am sewing it, I find I have some trouble with random and I always think that it has to be planned scrappy…. like Jo Morton scraps, or Kansas Trouble scraps, or Kaffe Fassett scraps.   It’s not that they cannot be mixed, they should be… it’s just that I have a hard time with it. Fortunately, I have a massive collection of “leftovers” and I can choose to make a scrappy Christmas, Batik, pastel, bright floral or 30’s quilt if I wanted….. so, horrible and non-scrappy as it may seem… I am choosing Kansas Troubles scrappy…. and just so you know… I am going to love it!

OK, so… here is a representative pile of my lights and darks, lets talk about how to select fabric for scrappy quilts (yes, I know what I’m talking about… I may not like it…. but I do know how to do it…)

IMG_1512[1]When you are choosing your fabrics, arrange them on a table so that just a little bit of each one shows, then stand back and have a look. First, eliminate any that do not contrast well enough with the background. They will be those pesky mediums and can also be a dark with a lark light motif. It is nice to have mixed lights as we can be so accustomed to one three yard piece for a background – more texture always reads more interesting.

Next, make sure you have enough variety. Remember they won’t all be touching each other so they don’t have to “match”. Be sure to include spots, florals, plaids and stripes, tone on tones and geometrics. It is also a good idea to add a few “off colors” and just a couple that are “too light” and “too dark”. Those odd pieces will give that interesting “sparkle” to a scrappy quilt. If you have seen it, you know what I mean. Some are very blended and plain, others are interesting with unexpected gems.

While you are picking your fabrics, mix lots of colors in your darks, in uneven amounts. For example, I have a little orange and red, a medium amount of blue and black, and a lot of  brown and green.

The amount of fabric you will need is determined by the size of quilt you want to end up with. Keep in mind when you are using leftovers it may be hard to estimate how much fabric you have in your pile, so be generous. Just throw all of those pieces in the pile!!

For a twin (72″ x 90″) you will want about 3 yards of lights and 4 yards of darks. For a queen (90″ x 90″) you will want about 5 yards of lights and 6 yards of darks.

That may seem like a lot, but it’s not, because unfortunately… you will have some leftover…

So go to your sewing rooms, dig through your stashes and put your “kits” together. Then take a few minutes and tidy things up. Step one is organizing your fabric, I will post step two in one week and in case you are planning, we will be done in time for Christmas gift giving!

One last comment about mystery quilts. We are hosting another Border Creek Station Mystery. She does a really nice job and features the Moda fabric ‘Atelier’ by Three Sisters. The pattern is a one time fee of $25 for the nine steps (one step mailed monthly) and the kit is $90 for the twin and $149 for the queen while supplies last (they can be ordered on our website by clicking on the link).

And, because I love love love the series, we are doing the Downton Abbey kits for the mystery designed by Ebony Love of Love Bug Designs. The mystery starts on January 4th with the first episode of the next season. The fabric will arrive in our shop in November and the kits will be mailed out by December 5th. We are only cutting six kits in each colorway and we expect them to sell out quickly as we are selling them for only $165. Click here for more information about this mystery… I am going to be doing mine in the “Cora” colorway!!


It has been almost two weeks since I’ve posted. That is so awful. I’m not sure what happens to my time… but it seems to just vanish!! I get so busy and for some reason the computer just makes me sleepy so I leave it until late at night… when I’m sleepy…. then I start typing something that looks like swahili …hfjwioe8oooooooooooo which is means it’s time for bed. At the moment it is 10pm… so hopefully I have an hour or two before I start to nod off.

This past two weeks we have had back to back retreat groups at our retreat house, I had a speaking engagement and class at a guild meeting in Bellevue, I had to get the samples and projects ready for the block-of-the-month open house and I have had to spend extra time in my office to prepare for an appointment with my accountant. Now I am behind with blog posts, video tutorials and long arming. And you should see my office and my sewing room… huge disasters!!

After all of these years, I should be better at time management, but it’s not like my job is always the same. I am always researching trends and new ideas, trying new techniques, adding new classes to our offerings, ordering new fabrics, patterns, notions and books, and of course all the while trying to keep the store clean, organized and interesting. On top of that, I have 40 hours per week of bookkeeping and accounting (my least favorite job). I am so thankful for Brianna. She takes care of the computer which is such a huge task. She keeps all of the newest lines online, takes care of the online orders, facebooks (that is a verb… right?) makes samples and helps me catch up with everything else.

I sometimes talk about retiring, but I can’t imagine not being a part of it. And shouldn’t I catch up before I quit? And then what would I do with all of my time? Besides, Brian has at least 10 years left before he can retire, so I suppose I should go just as long. For now I will just give Brianna a raise and get back to work.

I have three things to finish up tonight: prep for both tomorrow and Thursday classes; the first installment of my mystery quilt here on the blog; and gift bags for the next retreat.

I better hurry….can you say ‘sleepy’ in swahili?