Flower Rag Quilt

About a week ago I decided that it’s about time I did something to sort of acknowledge that we have another baby joining our family.  I happened upon a pattern that I really liked, and then went on a hunt for some fabric that really grabbed me.

I was hoping for flannel, but found these cotton prints instead.

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The pattern I chose is called “Lazy Daisy” by Sweet and Shabby Designs.
The fabric line I chose is a new one called “Whimsy” by Pillow and Maxfield for Michael Miller Fabrics.
The fabric is definitely retro but I loved it.  Of course, I supplemented with lots of fabrics from my stash, which is always good because the finished product has more personality that way.

In case you’re not familiar with a rag quilt, it is a quilt that has the seams on the top facing out instead of facing the inside of the quilt.  It’s  kind of a shortcut, because you quilt it as you go, but it’s also a kind of quilt that really has its own style.  The way the seams look after they’ve been washed is really fun.

The pattern wasn’t difficult to follow, and had a mistake or two in it, but I noticed a correction on their blog.

First, I cut all the fabric according to the instructions.  I love how quilting takes these stacks of fabric, and then you cut (carefully of course) and end up with these tidy little stacks of fabric in various shapes and sizes.

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Next I cut the batting.  I decided to use cotton batting.

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Next I assembled each square for the quilt.  I did this by laying the bottom piece face down, then a piece of batting, and then the top piece face up, like you’re assembling a sandwich.

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Repeat this with all the fabric and batting.

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Now it’s time to start quilting each block.  On the long, thin strips for the borders I just sewed a straight line down the middle of the fabric.  On the large blocks I sewed diagonally from corner to corner, and then went the other direction so they had a big X on them.

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The squares with the flowers were fun.  I tried a quick new trick and am really happy with the results.
It’s called a washable glue stick.  The key word is “washable.”  I also like the price:  15 cents.  Tell me what you can buy for 15 cents now-a-days!  I call that the deal of the week.  Using the glue stick allows you to stick the piece in place while you sew, but the glue will wash right out when  you wash the quilt.

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On the wrong side of the flower, just swipe the glue in enough spots to hold it in place while you sew around the edges of the flower.  I love that this means I didn’t have to use any pins!

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Glue the fabric on your square and sew around the edge of the flower, about 1/4 inch in from the edge.

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Repeat with the larger circle for the center, and then the smaller circle as well.

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After sewing the three pieces on, the back of the square is now quilted in a cute flower, too!

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When all of the pieces to your quilt have been quilted, it is ready to assemble.
For the sake of holding less fabric, I decided to snip the edges of the flowers before assembling.
Just make sure you don’t cut through the seam!

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It will look like this when you’re done.

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Now just lay out your squares as you want them to look.
Whenever I’m doing this I feel grateful that my office doubles as a guest room because the bed is a great spot to lay things out and move them around until I like them.

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For this pattern, you must first sew the strips to the bottom of the flower pieces, and then sew the pieces together into rows.  You ‘ll have four rows of four pieces, and then you sew the rows together, too.  Add the border last.

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The seams look rather ridiculous at this point.  Whenever I make a rag quilt, when I get to this point I always wonder why I picked a rag quilt instead of a regular one.  But it’s too late now, so carry on.

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The back always looks fun at this stage!

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Your last real step is to snip carefully into all of those rows of seams!

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Once again, be sure you don’t cut the seam.   If you do , you’ll need to restitch it so your quilt won’t come undone.
This step seems to take forever.  You can either do it in little pieces, or if you’re like me, you know that you won’t feel like picking it up again so you’ll just plow through and do it in a single sitting.  I always regret the way my hand feels after doing it, but it doesn’t last long.  This is certainly the boring step in the quilt, but I remind myself that it’s not super exciting to sit and bind a quilt by hand, either.

After cutting everything, the next step is to toss the quilt in your washing machine.  Wash it and then dry it in your dryer.  This step is what will make the seams look right.  (Be sure to clean out your lint filter on your washer because there will be tons of lint from this blanket.)

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When the quilt is done drying, the seams will be soft and cute.
Use your scissors to cut off the longer strings.  TaDa!  You’re finished.
A lovely, new, baby-sized quilt in just a few hours.

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Making yo-yos

I have a project I’ve been meaning to finish for a LONG time.  It’s a quilt.  It needs me to make some flowers to go on a couple of vines, and it needs to be bound.

I’ve never been a huge fan of yo-yos.  Don’t have a problem with them, but just not in love with them.
Well, it looks like that might have just changed.
At least for this project.

I discovered that Clover makes some plastic yo-yo makers, and I invested in them.

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I finally made some yo-yos with them, and now that I know how fast, easy, and uniform they are, I’m hooked!
There are 4 sizes.  The tiny one ends up being around 3/4″ in diameter, the next size up is around one inch, the next is about 1-3/4″ in diameter, and the biggest makes yo-yos that are about 2 inches or a bit larger in diameter.

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They’re super easy to use.  In case you haven’t tried these, I’ll show you how simple it is.
First choose your template size and your fabric.  Each maker has two pieces, as you can see.

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Lay the piece with the smooth edge (on the left) on a flat surface, with the lip facing you.
Then lay your fabric face down over it.

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Now take the corresponding piece and fit it into the piece that is covered with fabric.
You’ll be able to feel it click into place.

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Now trim around the edges, leaving a little bit of fabric.

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When you’re finished, it should look like this:

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Now take a needle and thread it with a corresponding color of thread.
The thread should be longer than the circumference of  your circle.  Knot one end of the thread.
From one of the holes on the bottom, bring the needle through, being sure that it goes through the fabric you left around the edge.  (Your yo-yo maker will come with great instructions, so don’t worry)

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Then take the needle back down through the next hole, going around the entire circle.

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When you’ve stitched around the circle, carefully pop the plastic piece on top out.
The fabric should stick to the top piece.

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If you turn it over, you can see the stitches going around the outer edges.

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Carefully pull the fabric off the template.

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You can see that the fabric really holds the shape it had when in the template.

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Taking the needle, begin gently pulling on the thread to gather the fabric.

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Keep pulling.  All you have to do is sort of tuck the edge of the fabric inside as it gathers.

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Slowly but surely, it will take the shape of a perfect circle.

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When it’s all gathered together, pull the thread tight and tie a discreet knot in the thread.  Cut it and tuck it carefully inside.  You’re done!

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They are quick to make and lots of fun.  Here’s my growing pile:

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And guess what I discovered the day after I made a bunch of these?
They just came out with a huge one!  I was so excited.  I tried one, and it is super fun.
The new extra large one is much bigger than the next closest size.  It’s about 3 1/2 inches in diameter.

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Now I need to make a bunch more so I can design the clumps of flowers on the quilt.
I’ll show you the finished product as soon as I’ve got enough yo-yos made.

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Until then, see what fun you can have with these five sizes!
They also make flower shaped ones, which I have, but I don’t like how small the flower is and how much fabric it uses.  I thought I’d want to use them on the quilt, but I like the round ones best.  I believe that Clover also makes heart shaped templates, but I’ve never tried them.  An online search for yo yo maker will show you what’s available.

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There are a lot of quilting and sewing tools that I don’t have and can live without, but these I’m happy to have purchased.  They will be a lot of fun to play with.

Organize a Desk

For months, my daughter’s desk has been driving me crazy.  It’s always so covered with stuff that there is no point in having a desk.

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I think that secretly I’m probably inclined to be a neat freak, but having 7 children really curbs my opportunities to enforce that kind of lifestyle.  I’ve concluded it’s a good thing; probably God’s way of rescuing me from developing OCD.  Still, neat and tidy goes a long way toward making a happy mother in this house.   We all have piles sometimes, myself included, but I really strive for some sense of order.  With this desk, I’ve tried multiple ways of encouraging her to keep things a little bit neater, but all to no avail.

Here is my little office space.  We have a room in our home that doubles as a guest room and my own space.

I love it.

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I really love the fact that my rack is filled with containers that are whimsical and fun to look at, which are filled with supplies I use all the time for sewing, wrapping gifts, paper projects, etc.  I can get things out and put them away in a matter of seconds.  I love the easy access, the fact that I can store an awful lot in such a small space and in plain view.  Organizing my spot like this was one of the best ideas  I had when we moved into this house.

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The thought occurred to me the other day that perhaps my daughter would like to have a space like mine.
(I was pretty sure she’d go for it, given the amount of time she spends going through my stuff.)

After searching high and low, I finally got my hands on another baker’s rack like the one I already have.
We cleared the space and got busy.  All you need are two basic things:  the rack or shelves or whatever you’re going to put things on and a variety of cute containers for holding stuff in.  Pretty simple.

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Here’s a sampling of the containers we used.

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My theory with the containers is the cheaper the better.  The yellow bowl I’ve had for years but now it has a crack in it so I never use it in the kitchen.  Then there is the ceramic bowl with holes that I picked up on clearance after Easter.  The blue bucket was the same.  The blue wood paper organizer was just kicking around the house.  That’s pretty much what we did:  we walked around the house and looked for things we could re-purpose to make for an interesting display.  We found a glass candle holder in the pantry to use, a small white flower pot for pencils and pens, and so forth. You get the picture.  This was not an expensive undertaking.  But my theory is that the whole point is to be creative and find ways to encourage her to take care of her space in a cute, fun, but tidy way.

We started by sorting like objects into their own containers and began placing just a couple of things here and there.

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We made room for her jewelry box and cd player, and kept filling it in.

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The finished product:

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She’s got everything she needs within arm’s reach:  paper, markers, pencils, pens, stapler, glue, books, music, and so forth.  She likes it because it is cute and  makes her feel grown up.  I like it because she can see everything she has, use it and put it away easily, and there is actually a white desk underneath it all for her to work at!  I also like that there’s room for us to add more containers as needed.  And, at the date of this writing, her desk has been clean for almost two weeks.  Now THAT is impressive.  A ten year old girl with a clean desk… this could be a world record in the making!

Using a baker’s rack like this can be a fun way to organize a space.  As I said, I’ve loved it in my office and am hopeful about the long-term potential for my daughter.  I also have a smaller one that I hung above my bathtub to help organize that space, too.

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Honestly, they’re cool racks for a kitchen and someday I’d love to have one displaying pretty plates, but I love their potential in other ways, too.  Kitchen, office, bedroom, bathroom, and think how cute it would be on a potting table storing gardening supplies!  These racks are awesome because they’re so versatile.

As for the desk, mission accomplished.   Hooray!

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