Let the Living Begin!

It’s 2017, and while the year is young, it doesn’t feel “new” anymore.  That shiny, untarnished thing we welcomed is now well broken in and we’re the same people we were in December.  And you know, that’s just fine.  Of course we’re all working on new habits and taming old ones, and I’m certain that when 2018 rolls around (much sooner than I think it will) we will be better people.  But we are who we are, and there’s nothing magical about January 1st.

I well remember the first real dent we put in our hardwood floor after building our home.  My son ran into a cabinet that held a large platter and it went flying to the floor.  The boy and the platter were fine but the floor was definitely different.  Broken in.  We shrugged and said “let the living begin!”

I guess that’s how I feel about 2017 right now.  Already we’ve logged some pretty great memories and some hilarious mistakes and plenty of worries.  It’s going to last 12 months just like all the other years do.  We’re trying but imperfect.  So let the living begin!


I have a tendency to feel overwhelmed by a blank canvas.  It’s blank and boring but it’s also perfect, no mistakes in it.  I think I felt that way as December drew to a close and I felt like I had to set the perfect goals, and set them in the right way and with the right intent and….   it never really happened.  Things slow down during the holidays but with ten of us in the house life is always flowing faster than I can swim and so I started the year behind.  As usual.

But THIS is what it’s all about!  Day to day life, lived happily and with the best effort we can summon, is the whole point.  Would I wish for the flower to stay forever a bud to avoid the risk of an imperfect petal? Life has to bloom just like flowers do, and bring the beauty as well as the dirt.

The longer I live the more aware I become of all the things that could have happened, but haven’t.  It’s become a second gratitude list, the backside of counting my blessings.  We’ve had our challenges, to be sure, but there are so many challenges we haven’t had.  My heart is full of gratitude for the chance to live this particular life, the one that was hand picked just for ME.

The living of 2017 is well underway here, and I hope it’s the same for you!

Love, Jennifer


Rosewater + Gingham Quilt


My Rosewater + Gingham quilt is finished and in use around our house.  I quilted it very simply with straight lines in the ditch around all the seams.  It’s  a quilting style I haven’t used much, simple, but also needing great attention to detail to maintain straight lines.  To be honest, I’m not sure yet how much I like it, and yet I don’t dislike it either.


I chose a second gingham for the backing and it makes my heart sing.  It’s a lovely bright blue diagonal plaid print from Jane Sassaman, and I added a strip of my favorite Jennifer Paganelli floral.  I’ll be so sad when I run out of scraps of that print!


I used my scraps from the quilt top to make a scrappy binding that continues the theme of the quilt.  This was such a fun project, made entirely from stash by combining fabrics I already had in a way I never planned to do.  This was a fun but simple creative exercise for me.


It makes me wonder what other awesome fabric combinations are hiding in my sewing room because I simply haven’t taken the time to discover them yet.  I hope to devote more time to this sort of sewing in the future.


Relevant Post:  Rosewater + Gingham quilt top

Whimsy Christmas Lone Star Quilt


This is the most traditional lone star quilt I’ve made to date, with twelve lone star blocks set in three rows.  I love it so much.

Piecing these stars was a fun exercise in choosing fabrics, and it never bores me to see all the different combinations that can be created (even within a fabric collection) in these stars, depending on placement of color in different orders.

This quilt was also a good lesson for me in viewing distances.  Blocks that look like they have plenty of contrast up close, can end up reading very differently at a distance, as you can see when you compare the photo at top with the following photos of individual blocks.  In this project I didn’t have a particular goal, and there was no right or wrong; I merely wanted to experiment and see what happened.  I love learning lessons from fabrics as I sew!


Rather than choosing fabrics with small scale prints for obvious color contrast (like my sample block in the tutorial), I decided to use prints that were larger in scale and see how these more modern prints worked in the stars.  The resulting blocks are busier and sometimes more lacking in contrast (especially from a distance), but they also have a lot of personality up close.  I really like them.

As you can see above and below, the solids really stand out and define the star.  In the star above, I like how the stripe print creates a sort of spiral in the center star.


Choosing prints similar to your background fabric will cause that round in the star to recede, as you can see below.  I love how the center star and first round are so bold, and the others disappear a little.


Below you can see how the large scale swirl print creates lots of movement between the green center and the pink solid.


The green print in this block helps balance the craziness of the center star.


This block felt like a risk to me when I made it because I was combining so many busy prints with softer backgrounds, but when finished it was one of my favorites.



The outer points on the star below make me so happy.  I love how they stand out and the second and third rows recede.


Most of these fabrics are from the Whimsy Christmas fabric collection by Pillow & Maxfield from several years ago, with a few others added.  The pink dot background fabric is from Heather Bailey’s Nicey Jane collection, and this particular print was included in the reprint earlier this year.  The quilting was done by Melissa Kelley of Sew Shabby Quilting in an edge-to-edge vine pattern.


Each of these stars are made from two inch strips, pieced according to my instructions in my Lone Star Block Tutorial.   For more information about my lone star projects, visit my Lone Star page.


I made small stars at the posts in my sashing to break up the large negative space where the corners of four blocks join.  I chose a pink and red print which adds to the “traditional Christmas + pink” color scheme of this quilt.

My favorite Whimsy print was found in two colorways which I stitched together for the backing:


Each of these blocks measure 22″ square and the sashing/border is 1.5″, making the entire quilt approximately 72 by 96 inches.


I can’t wait to see my little girls snuggled under this beauty for the holidays.



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