Vivian’s Quilt : Complete!


Two years ago I was blogging this quilt extensively because I wanted to link up my progress with Jessica Alexandrakis’s Star Count. Kinda feels like a million years ago.

I have this thing where, I reeeallly have to push myself to finish things, even when they are 92% done.  So this had been sitting around unbound for quite a while.  The push finally came with an entry deadline I didn’t want to miss.  The quilt was accepted and last week hung at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza in Philadelphia.  I have attended that show for more than a decade and entering something was always a goal.

New-ish to me was writing a little statement to go with the quilt.  It was hard to fit all the thoughts and emotions that go into a quilt into one little paragraph.  And the theme of the show was “evolving,” and I didn’t even get to touch on that idea.  Here’s what I wrote:

This quilt began in anticipation of my daughter’s birth. I pieced the stars while homeschooling my older kids, then, while nursing baby Vivian. Next I floated the stars in a sea of pale hexagons. So many hexagons, and most were made with sleeping baby on my lap. I began to realize that this quilt is a reflection on life; bright shining moments surrounded by many more ordinary moments. The ordinary ones are no less beautiful.

I used every one of the 75 words allotted and could have said much more about technique, ideas, and how the style of this quilt fits into the theme of the show.  I would have liked to hear more about the other quilts on display as well; wish there was a way for more to be said.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to go back and round up some progress shots of this, since it’s been so long in the making.



Courtyard Garden

Hi there friends!  I took some time over the weekend to update my Etsy shop.  I have been sewing for months with my favorite new shape, the 90 degree kites, and I thought it might be a good time to actually list them in the shop so you could sew with them too.

Courtyard Garden Mini

I used the 2″ 90 degree kites, together with 2″ 45 degree diamonds, to make my #handpiecedminiswap2 quilt. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this- if you’re not on Instagram, I joined what is surely the only hand piecing swap going on right now and made this quilt for one participant, and received a mini quilt from another participant.  It was a blind swap, so we had to “stalk” our partners to figure out what they might like to receive.  It took me a long time to decide on something, but there were some beautifully colored yarns in my partner’s feed, and I used those as inspiration for the colors in this quilt.


My favorite part of this quilt is that dark raspberry border.  That and the geometry of the quilt made me think of a formal courtyard, so I’ve named this quilt Courtyard Garden.


I decided to use some creative value placement to create a medallion layout, but there is actually an allover grid pattern going on with the shapes. 4-pointed stars or 8-pointed stars, depending on which way you look.

I’m working on another version of the quilt that highlights the 8-pointed stars.  I am so in love with these stars btw!  As a derivative of the above pattern, I’m calling them Courtyard Stars.

I have made downloadable design sheets for this pattern; one highlights the value placement of the medallion mini, and one has just a plain grid so you can do your own experimenting.  They are listed as a set in my Etsy shop.

Courtyard Stars


To make either the medallion version of the pattern, or 16+ of the above stars, you will need:

Medium pack of 2″ 90 degree kites

Small pack of 2″ 45 degree diamonds

Downloadable design sheets

The pieced portion of the mini is 20.5″ square, and I recommend appliqueing onto a 24″ background square.

I hope you’ll give these shapes a try!  I’ll be back later in the week to show some of the other layouts you can achieve with these beautiful 90 degree kites.  Octagons feature prominently in these designs so first I need to get them ready and listed 🙂

Happy sewing!




Spring Basket Tutorial


Spring Basket Alternate version

As promised, if you just want to dabble into English Paper Piecing, but still end up with a sweet and eminently useable project, this version of my free Spring Basket pattern is just the thing for you!

To make this version of the basket, you’ll follow all the original steps as posted on Sew Mama Sew with just these few modifications:

You’ll need a 32 inch x 6 inch piece of fabric for the outer basket, and only 16, 2.5 inch square-ish scraps for the hexagons.


Prepare and baste 16, 1 inch hexagons.  Lay them out and sew into a zigzag line as shown.  Then join the two end hexagons together to form a ring.  Press well and remove the papers.  If you are new to English Paper Piecing, here is the information you need.


Using the extra pattern piece marked [Outer fabric- non-pieced version only], cut four pieces from your outer fabric and sew together as described for the lining pieces.


Line up your ring of hexagons 1/2 inch from the top edge.  The top left corner of every fourth hexagon should line up with a seam in the outer fabric.  Pin well, then topstitch with your machine on both edges of the ring.  (Or hand applique if you are more comfortable with that technique.)

You can cut away your base fabric from behind any light-colored hexies if it shows through.  Be sure to leave 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Follow the rest of the project as written.  Then, start a new English Paper Piecing project and use this basket to store the pieces 🙂

Visit or my Etsy shop to buy a starter kit for this project which includes Snowflakes Freezer Paper Shapes and the In-R-Form stabilizer you’ll need to get going!


Thanks for reading!

❤ Jessie

A Giveaway, For Pink’s Sake

IMG_0961Today I’m participating in a blog hop for my friend Anna over at Life Sew Crafty.  Anna is raising money to help with her Mother-in-law Tina’s medical bills after lengthy cancer treatments.  Anna writes that her mother in law has remained cheerful and upbeat through it all, but now that she is cancer-free the looming medical bills are putting a real damper on her spirits.  I was especially inspired to help Anna and Tina after reading this, since I know a bit about looming medical bills dragging down what should otherwise be a joyous thing. We chose a home birth for Vivian’s arrival back in April, but after her birth I was transferred to the hospital. So, we paid for both the home birth and a stay in the maternity ward.  Our insurance picked up some of the cost, but more than half is coming of our pockets, and sometimes when I think of how grateful I am for her beautiful birth, my mind also drifts to all that we had to lay out to make it happen, and the bills that are still rolling in….  All that is to say that it just sucks to have a dollar amount on a life, so let’s help Tina and her family get over that hurdle.

IMG_0953 The block above is going to a quilt that Anna will make and donate to the center where Tina had all her treatments.  It’s English Paper Pieced, with 3″ and 1.5″ 60 degree diamonds.  Then I hand appliqued the star onto a white background.  The block is big; 14.5″,  but Anna can trim it down to 12.5″ if that fits better into her quilt.

I’ve also made this little pouch to give away to one reader who contributes to Anna’s cause:


The pink star is made from one of very favorite Liberty of London Tana Lawns.  I intended to make the background mostly white, but somehow all those lovely aquas crept in… it was pure enjoyment putting this little guy together!

For a chance to win the pouch,

1. Go to Anna’s fundraiser page and make a donation in any amount, then come back and leave a comment that you have done so.

2. Make a pink block for Anna’s quilt, which will be donated to the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion in Grand Rapids, MI, then leave me a comment that you’ve done so.

3. Publicize this giveaway on the social media platform of your choice, and leave me a comment that you have done so.

If you do more than one of the things above, please leave a separate comment for each action.  The comments are your entries to win.  This blog hop has been going on for a little while now, so if you’ve already donated (thank you), of course you are welcome to enter this giveaway.  I’ll draw the winner on Monday, July 28th.
Please also visit the other folks on the blog hop:

May 10
May 24

June 7

June 21

July 5

July 19

Anna also will be doing a drawing for some really nice prizes for anyone who participates in the above ways, so be sure to check back with her on August 2nd for a chance to win.

ETA: Linking up with Monday Morning Star Count at Life Under Quilts.  So excited to have a finished project to share this week!

Only in February…

Only in the depths of winter, and only under a little duress, would something so rainbow-bright and utterly lacking in neutrals come out from under my needle…

I took a break from my EPP baby quilt last week to enter something in the MQG Riley Blake Challenge.  Everybody who signed up for the challenge received this bundle of fabrics:

Receiving the fabrics didn’t really inspire any creative ideas for me, so I washed them and folded them and they sat on the shelf for 5 months or however long it’s been… until a week before the deadline when I knew I had to make something. Hmmm.   The challenge rules allowed other Riley Blake fabrics to be added, so in my stash I found a few more prints in orange and red.  Together with the challenge fabrics they made an almost-rainbow and since this was a Challenge, I figured I should go ahead and try out a color scheme that I wouldn’t normally use.  Looking at it now I realize that I didn’t really use that much of the challenge fabric at all, but it is all Riley Blake stuff so it fits the criteria…

It was fun to put together another English paper piecing design and applique it to a beautiful cross-woven solid that’s been in my stash for eons.  I made it kind of large so it would go together quickly- the center diamonds are 3 inches on each side.   It is hand quilted it with #12 Valdani perle cotton in a spring green.   I’m really liking #12 for hand quilting rather than the thicker #8 that seems to be more readily available. Maybe just because I’ve been making small-ish things.

I love that the MQG hosts these challenges, because it’s so fun to see what different people are making from the same fabric.  But this one, for me, was just a bit of a bummer because I was so uninspired by the fabric.  I like my final quilt well enough, but it just doesn’t excite me like some things I’ve worked on, y’know?  I’m happy I finished it though, because finishing projects is one of those life skills that I need to work on, and now I have a happy little quilt I can pass off to my kiddos to enjoy.

By the way, there are a ton of entrants out there who obviously were inspired by the fabric and made some fantastic things… here is one by Doris Brunnette that made it to the top 10 that I absolutely love:

I’m linking up again with Jessica’s Monday Morning Star Count!

Oh by the way…

I have been working on another project that I haven’t talked about yet here.  Although it’s no secret at this point if we are friends in person…

I’ve been working on the best kind of project for the past 6 months or so; growing a new little person to add to the lovely craziness of our household… 🙂 This will be kid #4 for us and I’m so excited to have some tiny-babyness in the house again.  These ones are growing up so fast…

(Baby Legwarmers are on Ravelry here, dress purchased from BabyGap)

A sweet finish

Here is a quilt I’ve been working on in little bits over the past few months…

Not my typical style for sure, but I loved the new English Paper Piecing pattern I got to use!  I wanted to make a quilt for our friend’s new baby, and the mom-to-be requested that I use these Strawberry Shortcake fabrics…

Strawberry Shortcake Collage

I don’t often buy novelty prints, so it took me a while to come up with an idea that would feature the prints while being fun for me to put together.  I knew I wanted to use English Paper Piecing, so I could work on the quilt in little bits of time- at the table with my kids doing schoolwork or on trips in the car.  Eventually I settled on this open-centered chrysanthemum (I’m calling it a sunflower) because I found the shape of the petals so appealing, and the big circles worked to feature the big prints.  I love the methodical pace of EPP- iron down the freezer paper templates, cut out the shapes, baste over the edges, join the shapes with tiny invisible stitches, remove the basting, remove the papers… then in this quilt the shapes have to be appliqued as well, so there’s another round of basting and more tiny invisible hand stitching… this is just the kind of quilt I love to work on.  I kept it ever handy in its little tray so I could work on it at any time I had a few minutes.  School time, car time, guild meetings, Sherlock reruns…  They all add up to a finished quilt before you know it.

After all the blocks were together and up on the design wall, I realized that the intense color was pretty unrelenting, so I added the tiny white sashing to break up all that color.   I used tiny yellow cornerstones for a little extra sweetness.  The quilt is backed with one of the Strawberry Shortcake prints which was a really thick, cozy flannel, so it has a nice heft.  It’s quilted simply with a little perle cotton.  Quilts like this that are all about the fabric don’t need extensive quilting, in my opinion.

The quilt was delivered last week, in time for baby’s 2 month birthday… pretty good by my usual standards and, in my defense, she came earlier than expected!  I am feeling antsy now without a project to focus on.  I’ve got too many up in the air and I can’t decide which is the most important.

I just found a new weekly linkup that is just my style- Monday Morning Star Count at Life Under Quilts.  Jessica Alexandrakis, author of Quilting on the Go, is a fellow proponent of EPP, and she hosts the linky to provide some encouragement to keep plugging away at our projects!  I”m really looking forward to watching other quilters’ projects progress!  For this, the first week, she asked for a picture of our sewing kits, so here is the kit I carried around when I was working on this quilt:

I loved using a tray rather than some sort of bag, because everything stayed so nice and flat!  Everything was easy to find, too.  Highly recommend it!

Happy Swap!

This summer Natalie of the NOVA Modern Quilt Guild invited members of the local guilds to a secret swap- to give us the chance to “meet” members outside of our own Guilds.  I don’t often sign up for swaps because truthfully, most of the time I’d rather sew for myself.  🙂  But, it sounded fun to get to know some other Modern Quilters in our area so this time I joined in.

Natalie asked us to make a little pouch and fill it with some little goodies.  We all started with the same instructions for the pouch, but were free to customize them for our intended recipients.  We each made a photo mosaic to help inspire our secret sisters.  Here’s the mosaic I was sewing from:

Beautiful, but a bit mystifying at first!  Most of the mosaics I’ve seen use mostly images of fabric and quilts, but hmm, the beach, paper crafting…  I decided I really had to rise to the occasion and do this mosaic justice, so I made the mosaic my desktop background, and I’d just sit and stare at it a few times a day until it started to speak to me.  Really, it was so fun to glean little bits of inspiration from all these images!  I’m glad my partner gave the opportunity to stretch my creative muscles.  Here’s what I finally pulled from the images:

Colors: mint and aqua, sky and sand

Feeling: quirky, romantic, dreamy

Likes: Chunky embroidery, Mixed-Media, Quirky Animals

And here’s the bag I made:

I threw in my own quirky animal, some chunky perle cotton hand stitching, and used lace for the drawstring in a nod to the mixed-media piece in the mosaic.  I tried to make it mint green because that’s her favorite, but I’m afraid it came out more aqua.  I guess my stash overwhelmed me!

I filled it with my new favorite brand of ruler, some FQs and trim in her fave colors, a few little notions, and a tin of fruit candies.  (She said her favorite candy was coconut, but try finding coconut candy that won’t melt in the summer heat!)

PS- see the tiny dot I used for the lining?  That’s my own fabric, he-hee!

I really hope Katie liked the bag – at least now she knows I was really thinking about her when I made it!

Now for my mosaic:

In the only other swap I’ve done recently, my partner never gave me a mosaic or any kind of clue what she likes.  Then she dropped out at the 11th hour anyway.  Arrg.   I didn’t like that experience of sewing blindly so I felt like I had to really take care of my partner and give her some specific clues as to what I like.  Perhaps I was too specific!  I didn’t mean it to be a list of demands…

I said that I like hand sewing.  I said this because I thought she might throw in a pack of hand sewing needles or something- not because I expected that my bag be totally hand made!  But that is what Natalie did.

Wow.  English paper pieced, hand applique, hand quilted with perle cotton.  Just my style (tearing up here..)  And Natalie has twin babies at home.  Amazing.  I don’t know what else to say except that it’s waaay more than I expected!  Thank you Natalie!

My little girls were so excited BTW when it came in the mail, let me tell you!  It’s a purse!  It’s a purse!

A good day for applique

Looks like a good day to sit by the window and sew.

I love to watch a storm blow in.  Dramatic, beautiful, little bit scary, making you realize just how big the sky is up there.  My favorite kind of day.

The huge raindrops make a pretty pattern on the sidewalk.   Later I’ll send the kids out to puddle-stomp and make muddy footprints all over the porch.

I finally sewed this appliqued panel into a pillow this week!  I never had a plan for the arrangement of these shapes, I just sort of piled them on there.  I love how it turned out.  Everything I did here, I want to do again on a bigger scale- the orange peel shapes, the random curvy hand quilting, the neutral colors with just a bit of bright color.  I’m glad I at least have something small that I’ve finished, though!

In other news, are you on Instagram?  I finally upgraded my phone so I could join, and I’m finding it really hard to get back to blogging now that I’m on IG!  It is just so easy and informal.  Love it.

Bringing Home Dolly Sewing Pattern

I did it!  I finally filled in all the info and published my dolly carrier pattern on Craftsy!  I had this huge mental block about re-typing all the fabric requirements and such.  Took me two months to suck it up and get it done 🙂 But here it is, the project that I dreamed up to go along with my Jasmine Tea fabric-

Because I had all things baby on my mind when I was designing Jasmine Tea-I designed it during that little “honeymoon” period with a newborn when they are so sweet and squishy and cuddly and all you want to do is hold them and carry them around all day- so it only seemed fitting to design a doll carrier so big sister could carry her baby around too!

The pattern has two sizes, to fit dolls up to 14″ or 18″.  The dolly quilt features sweet little butterflies which you can make from tiny scraps.  And I even included instructions to make a matching child’s quilt!

I’m so happy to finally make this pattern available – my 4 year old uses the samples I made every single day to put her babies to bed, and I’m sure the children in your life will love it as well!

If you use the pattern please send me pics, I would love to see them!