Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book Review: Mollie Makes "Weddings"

Wanna know what happened on March 11, 2008? Here's a hint:

Yep. We got married. On a Tuesday evening in downtown Seattle in March and it was the best day of my life (you know, until our daughter was born the following year.) I knew even before he got down on one knee (and never really asked the question) that our wedding was going to be unique. We didn't want any of our guests to feel like they were attending yet another same ol' wedding/different couple kind of shindig, so we set out to make lots of personalized touches and unusual choices. I wish I had photos to show you, but I'm limited to what I've got here (remember that our belongings are still I storage in Seattle and we're in Atlanta). 

{this is the groomscake that my sister made! Isn't it the coolest?}

Anyway, since then, I've discovered Etsy and have noticed that more and more couples who are getting married have also chosen the stand out route. No more homogenized weddings! 

Mollie Makes has come up with a very useful, totally adorable book on exactly that: making your wedding as stylish and creative as you are whether you are good at paper crafts, sewing, stitching or stamping. 

Inside, you will find 95 pages of inspiration and good ideas separated into four categories.

 Handmade Invites (which is something we did):
{stitched paper save-the-day garland}

 Bouquets and Flowers (holy cow-instructions on how to make a button stem bridal bouquet):
{painted glass flower display}

Wedding Favors:
{felt appliqué ring pillow}

 and Table Decorations:
{felt cutwork lantern wraps}

Even if you're not getting married or you're long past the I-Do's and honeymoon, I think this book is essential for any crafters library. Just because it says "Weddings" doesn't mean you can't adapt it to any other life event. How about those felt cutwork lanterns? Perfect for a birthday party or Independence Day BBQ, right? 

I kinda wish this book was out on March 18, 2007 (you know, the day after we got engaged/the day I started planning our wedding haha). Hey-maybe you know a crafty bride-to-be? I bet she'd love to receive a copy of this book!

And now, one last picture of our wedding day 'cause I'm feeling all nostalgic...

Happy crafting!

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Our community: Upcycle Ethiopia

Instagram user/friend Karri (@karriofberries) wrote me a very sweet and polite email the other day and asked if I could help spread the word about an organization that she is a part of. When she told me what the group was all about, there was no hesitation. I am amazed every day at the generosity and endless love that our community has. I always say that if quilters/sewists ran the world, there would be no war, no starvation, no hurt. We'd all be wrapped up in warm hugs (quilts). You can't have hugs AND war, right?? 

I would like to thank Karri for introducing me to Upcycle Ethiopia. And now, it is my turn to introduce all of you to it, as written by Karri herself:

n 2012 our Upcycle Ethiopia organizer, Meghan, was visiting her daughter in South Africa. She saw a beautiful bag at a local art shop made by “Wren” from an upcycled cement bag. Meghan got to thinking about the potential of asking her network of friends to create upcycled products to benefit non-profit organizations in Ethiopia, the home of her two small sons and the country where her own small non-profit, Roots Ethiopia, is located.

Meghan, not a seamstress herself, began networking with her friends, suggesting a theme of repurposed coffee bags as a strong and vibrant connection to Ethiopia, the land where coffee originates.

Upcycle Ethiopia was invented – with over 20 women sewing and creating with inspiration and purpose. “Sewing for Good” resonated with the women. A Facebook page was created to share, strategize, lament (burlap is a tough fabric to work with), and joke about hoarding coffee bags with beautiful graphics.  Each and every item made by our amazing team is donated; all time, all fabric, all notions, all the love and creativity. It’s a true giving event.

This is our third year --- each year we have represented a different non profit working in Ethiopia. This year we will benefit Roots Ethiopia, the non-profit Meghan founded. It’s a moment of symmetry for Meghan to bring together two great loves!

The official Statement of Upcycle Ethiopia:

A community of women has gathered together from across the U.S. (from New Hampshire to Oregon) to sew on behalf of women in Ethiopia. This is our 3rd year creating unique items to benefit organizations that promote sustainability for women and families in Ethiopia.

This year Upcycle Ethiopia has chosen Roots Ethiopia ( for their strong work with women and families in southern Ethiopia. Our ‘Upcycle for Ethiopia’ team is repurposing burlap coffee bags and other items to support hardworking mothers in Ethiopia who will receive small business grants funded by the generosity of your purchase! Mothers are ready to work and your purchase provides the needed financial resources to get started on the path to economic independence.  Our craftsmanship and your purchase makes a difference!

Anchoring our original work with upcycling coffee bags makes perfect sense to us; coffee originates from the beautiful country of Ethiopia. Our coffee bags come from all over, but resonate with the essence of Ethiopia. We’ve added more repurposed products this year, all sticking with our upcycle theme. Our hope is that ‘Upcycle for Ethiopia’ sells YOU an awesome product, and delivers economic opportunities for mothers and families in need. Thank you!


{I Spy Charm Pack example}

Karri has offered one of my readers a charm pack, 56 squares (a full yard's worth) of "I spy" charms. Please visit and have a look around. Come back and leave me a comment about what you read, saw or liked the most. One winner will be chosen from a drawing on Saturday, October 11, 2014.

Good luck!


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Book Review: Mollie Makes Embroidery

By the Editors of Mollie Makes

Interweave/F+W; $19.99}

I do love a good craft book. One that I can keep going back to flip through the pages and see something new every time, no matter how many times I've looked. This book is definitely one of those. And it's only $20, which is a small price to pay for such inspiration! I LOVE Mollie Makes!

{How cute is that cloud/kitty pillow? I want to make it for my daughter; maybe for Christmas?}

Mollie Makes Embroidery has sixteen (!!) projects and twelve different techniques. This is definitely a well-rounded book. Each project is organized, beautifully photographed, inspiring to look at and features the artist/designer's bio. I especially love that. I'm always interested in who is behind the scenes. (Maybe that's why I love Instagram so much?) 

For this book review, I decided to try out a project. I chose the Bargello Cuff Bracelet on page 80. I'm a sucker for a bracelet, and the colors in this one drew me in. Of course, that didn't stop me from making my own color choices, right?

{cute little pouch by Instagram user @sewfairyface, isn't it divine?}

I thought I would stitch in the evenings, when I'm usually too tired to be at my machine. I found myself stitching at night, in the morning, in my car, at Starbucks...just about anywhere!

{I made a mistake right where the needle is. Oops!}

I haven't finished it yet because I made a second, MUCH bigger mistake and I haven't the energy or the heart to fix it. So, I'm letting it be for now. I'll probably finish it, let the mistake take over as a design. For now, it's happily living in the pouch with the book and floss.

This is what the pattern should look like:
{can you see the difference?}

{Every project has helpful, easy-to-read diagrams and instructions.}

I'm pretty excited about this book. If you're interested in hand sewing, embroidery, cross stitch...anything with a hand needle and thread, this book is for you. From basic embroidery stitches to the more complicated, plus crewelwork, silk ribbon embroidery, counted cross stitch, canvaswork, Bargello and free-motion machine embroidery, I think it's safe to say that there's something for everyone and a project for just about any occasion.

That's the end! No really, that ^ is the end of the book. Just as cute as the rest of the book! Teehee. 

Next Wednesday I'll be reviewing another Mollie Makes book, the second review in a month long series. I hope you come back because at the end of the series, I'll have a drawing for a copy of today's book. Hooray!

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Meet the Quilter: Quilt Story Meg!

Every once in awhile I like to feature one of my favorite quilters. Tonight, I have an interview and eye candy from someone I have long admired. Megan of Quilt Story Meg. She is one of the most talented, inspiring sewists in our community. Every single picture on her Instagram feed is beautiful, her quilts are gorgeous, her garments are flawless and what about the lady herself? She's all that and more. She's a full package deal. I wanted you to get to know her a little better so I asked her a few questions. She was kind enough to answer them and send along an introduction. 



I'm Megan, I'm a stay-at-home mom of three, 2 sons and a daughter.  Last year we moved across country to Northern Virginia while my husband completes his Family Medicine Residency in Washington DC.  I write a blog with my sister Heather ( and we write patterns by the same name, Quilt Story. On our blog we feature other quilters finished quilts, our own projects & tutorials and a linky party every Tuesday!

1. How long have you been sewing?
-I sewed my first project at about 8 (a quillow!) and sewed various things throughout high school, a quilt for a school project, decor for my room, PJ pants.  I learned how to quilt at 24 before I had my first son.  I guess I've been at it most my life, my poor math skills calculate that at 23 years!

2. Who taught you?
-I grew-up with my mom making all my clothes and I loved it!  She taught me how to sew and my aunt (her sister) taught me how to quilt.

3. What is the coolest sewing project that you've been a part of?
-I'm happy to have been asked to collaborate in a couple of books and another coming out Spring 2015.  Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe and Sweet Celebrations.  But the project that has meant so much to me was helping to create 10 memory quilts a little more than a year ago.  My oldest sister Amy's husband passed away suddenly in the Fall 2012.  They had 10 children together.  My mom, sister (Heather), my aunt and I all collaborated together to make them for the kids.  He was a school teacher and we had a lot of dress shirts to work with.  It's been such a hard and sad situation, being able to create something meaningful is healing for everyone.

4. What is your proudest sewing accomplishment?
-Currently I've been decorating my daughter's room...and I think for me creating things for my home and people I love is my favorite.  Plus I get to see it all the time and impress myself that I made it, lol! When I had my daughter I jumped right into sewing clothing.  Actually the night I found out I was having a girl I had cut out two dresses! :)  This spring I made her a dress from a real pattern with no help from my mom (okay I called her).  I was pretty proud! 

5. Who are your sewing/quilting heroes and why?
-Hmmm when I first started blogging and found the online community I was very drawn to Crazy Mom Quilts, Oh Frannson and Cluck Cluck Sew.  Since then...there are too many to name!!! :)

6. What's on your sewing bucket list?
-The list is so long!!  I'd love to create a couple of larger duffle type bags for myself, a paper pieced quilt (I've just done blocks), Sew-Together Bag, EPP hexies, challenge myself with children's clothing, and more!! :) 

7. What is your current project?
-My dad passed away last December from a very very short illness.  It has been the hardest thing I've ever faced in my life.  When I finally returned home from my parent's home after 6 weeks I didn't to do anything.  I wanted to lay in my bed all day but with three little kids that wasn't a choice.  Instead I jumped into creative was the only thing I felt I could do.  One of the projects I'm doing is creating a Union Jack quilt made with my dad's shirts and other fabrics.  My dad is from England and it holds a very special place in my heart. 

8. Favorite sewing tip that you want to pass along?
-These aren't groundbreaking...but through my years I've learned the value in measuring twice before cutting :)  Also pin a lot.  Learn your own machine. For example I was having so many tension problems with my machine and ultimately discovered that a popular brand just doesn't work for me!  As soon as I switched it's been smooth sailing!  Lastly there is a lot of importance in pressing!  A strong hot iron (doesn't have to be expensive!) and starch.  I'm a fan of starching my fabrics for quilting.  It allows them to keep their shape without stretching.  Boom.  :)

9. Who is your favorite fabric designer?
Favorites include Sarah Jane, Heather Ross, Joel Dewberry, Kate Spain, Violet Craft, Heather Bailey, Tasha Noel, Leciens, Melody Miller and lots more!!

10. If you could go on a sewing retreat anywhere to learn from and with anyone where would it be, who would teach and who would be there to learn with you?
Ahh!!! I'm just game for being able to attend a retreat and I'd have to have my sister Heather there!!! :)

11. What is something about you and your hobby that most people don't know?
Well sadly I think there are too many people, especially those who know me from Instagram, who don't know we sell quilt patterns!! :)  

To find out more or to follow Megan, and her sister Heather of course, click the links or find her on Instagram.

Instagram @quiltstorymeg

Thank you so much, Megan! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tutorial: CatStar Block

You might remember that I hosted a mini quilt swap? Yeah? Well, this CatStar Block was from that swap. I saw it under the hashtag and had to compliment it's maker, Janda, on how cute it was. She made it up out of her own brilliant head! Isn't she clever? There were a lot of requests for a tutorial on it but since she doesn't have a blog, she had to say no. So, I offered to help out.

I've decided to host a little #halloweencatstar quilt-a-long. Are you interested? One lucky participant will receive a Halloween trick-or-treat bag, stuffed full of goodies,from me! You must complete your Halloween CatStar block in order to be entered in the drawing, though. Let's get going, shall we?

You will need four colors of fabrics, in three shades each, and two different background fabrics for a total of fourteen fabrics. Fat quarters and charm squares work great. 

Using my photo above as a guide for color/fabric reference, cut the following:

Chevron (large polka dot) 
-four 4" squares

Background (small polka dot)
-fourteen 4" squares
-four 1 3/4" squares

Cat A right ear
-one 4" square

Cat A left ear
-one 4" square

Cat A face/forehead
-two 3 1/2" squares
-two 1 3/4" squares

Cat B right ear
-one 4" square

Cat B left ear
-one 4" square

Cat B face/forehead
-two 3 1/2" squares
-two 1 3/4" squares

Cat C right ear
-one 4" square

Cat C left ear
-one 4" square

Cat C face/forehead
-two 3 1/2" squares
-two 1 3/4" squares

Cat D right ear
-one 4" square

Cat D left ear
-one 4" square

Cat D face/forehead
-two 3 1/2" squares
-two 1 3/4" squares

{it helps to label everything}
{don't pay too much attention, I switched things around a bit after I took this pic}

Begin by making the center of the CatStar Block. Get your 3 1/2" face/forehead squares for the center cats and the four 1 3/4" squares. Place the small square in one corner of the large square, right sides together. With a fabric marking both, draw a line from corner to corner.

Stitch on this line,

Trim seam to 1/4".

Flip the corner fabric back and press.

Do this for all four inner star cat pieces.

For the outer star cat pieces, you will repeat the above process using the remaining four 3 1/2" face/forehead pieces and the four 1 3/4" coordinating pieces. 

You will also need to repeat this process for the four 4" background corner pieces and the four 1 3/4" outer star cat for heads.

I feel like I'm speaking gibberish so here's a pic of what the layout will look like:

To make the ears, you'll need to make half square triangles. With right sides together, match up one ear with one background square. You'll be doing all the ears at this time, so go ahead and match them all. Draw a line from corner to corner, right down the middle of each ear, then 1/4" away on each side. The first line (the one that is now on the middle) will become your cutting line. The other two are stitching lines.

Stitch directly on the line, adding a new square pair (teehee) after the last of the line is sewn & without cutting your thread or picking up the presser foot. This is chain stitching.

When you've reached the end of the ear chain, turn it around and stitch the lines on the other side. Snip the threads to separate, then use your rotary cutter and acrylic ruler to cut them in half.

Carefully press the half square triangles open, making sure the seam is towards the darker side.

Your Cat Star should look like this, after laying out the ear pieces:

Repeat the Half Square Triangle chain for the chevron pieces:

Now it's time to put it all together. Stitch four squares together, forming one block.
{this is where I messed up my inner star cats. I didn't notice so, my end result looks like calico cats. Oh well, it works.}

Now, stitch the blocks into rows.

And finally, stitch the rows together to finish your Halloween CatStar Block.

If you want to participate in the #halloweencatstar quilt-a-long, please be sure to use the hashtag and tag me (@schnitzelandboo) and Janda (@jrm0501) on Instagram. Don't forget, there's a sweet prize for one of our participants!

If you love this block, leave a comment and stop by Janda's Instagram feed and tell her. 

Happy Quilting!

PS thank you IG @actsofcraftiness for catching my lack of info mistake!

*finished size of CatStar is 18"
*please use Halloween inspired colors and/or fabrics to count for the drawing (but also know that Halloween is not limited to black and orange!)
*deadline to enter your Halloween CatStar is October 28, 2014 because that's my birthday.

{the original CatStar Block 
by Janda Wilden}