Monday, July 2, 2018

Public Libraries of Rhode Island | a quilt for Steph

If you follow me on instagram then you probably know that I like to go to the library. All the libraries, in fact. I've always been a big reader and we made frequent trips to my local library when I was a kid. We could walk there from my house, through our neighborhood and then along a short path in the woods to avoid the busy traffic of the main road. I continued going to the library as a teenager and as an adult, always having books on hold and reading a few a week. Once I had Ezra it became part of our weekly routine, although he never really enjoyed story time, preferring instead to browse the aisles and play with whatever toys the library had in the children's room. When Finn was born the library was the first place we went. We wanted to get out of the house and the library was a comfortable, calm place to have some fun and relax a bit, so when he was just a few days old that's where we went. As a stay-at-home mom I was always looking for new activities to do with the boys, so I started visiting other libraries. We had been to Cranston Central, Oaklawn, and Knightsville because they are all pretty close to our house. We had been to the library on Sandy Lane in Warwick at the invitation of a friend, and I had met up with another friend at Mohr in Johnston. Of course we had been to Greenville because it's the one near my parents' house and it's a nice trip when we're in Smithfield visiting. As a lifelong library lover, it occurred to me that there were many other libraries in the state and I decided to visit more of them. There could be wonderful libraries just a few miles away but I would never know if I didn't visit them! I started out by visiting the rest of the libraries in Cranston and Warwick thinking that we might visit them more often if they had programs we liked since they're nearby. I told my friend Steph who is a school librarian about my recent library explorations and she told me that she had been to more than half of the libraries in the state and that she planned to go to them all. I loved the idea and immediately decided to do the same. There are seventy public libraries in Rhode Island (if you click the link you'll see if says seventy-one but one of the locations on the list is actually a community creative learning center in EP). That meant some long drives and some less than fabulous library visits, but Ezra, Finn, Rory, and I loved our little project. We even met up with Steph and her son Emmett a few times along the way! We also went to the Providence Athenauem which is private - you have to be a member in order to borrow books, but anyone can visit. And there are actually a few more libraries in the state that I'd like to visit (the RISD Fleet library, the Redwood Athenaeum in Newport, and I think there's a private on in Westerly too), but we have officially finished our tour of the public libraries in Rhode Island. 

We started in January 2017 and just finished up in June 2018 and I documented the whole thing on instagram with the hashtag #childrenslibrariesofri. Steph posted her visits with the hashtag too, and my friend Andrew joined in as well, although I don't think he plans to visit every library, he just likes to bring his daughters to their local library on a regular basis and he jumped on the hashtag (which I love). Please, use it! I like to think of it as an online library of libraries :)

Before I explain what this quilt is all about, I'm going to talk a little bit more about libraries because now that people know about my obsession I get a lot of questions about the local library system. 

Best libraries for meeting up with friends - Sandy Lane in Warwick, Cumberland, East Providence (not Weaver), Narragansett (Maury Loontjens), Lincoln, Newport, Cross Mills in Charlestown, Westerly, and North Smithfield (which also has walking trails in the back). I think these are good libraries to meet up with friends at because they have large children's sections, a good amount of toys, and the librarians don't seem to mind noise. Sandy Lane in Warwick even allows snacks! I don't know if they have an official policy but kids are always eating in there and I've never witnessed a librarian tell anyone to stop.  

Libraries that have playgrounds on the grounds or next door - Barrington, Jamestown, Newport, Pontiac in Warwick, Cumberland (also has hiking trails!), Exeter, Coventry (the main one, not Greene), Fox Point in Providence, Louttit in West Greenwich, Harmony, and Tiverton (the main one, not Union) which not only has a playground but also has a skate park next door!

My personal favorite - Clark Memorial in Richmond because it's beautiful and filled with natural light and plants and the children's section is pretty cute too. 

Misc. Library Info 
- You can return books to any library in the network, so if you are out and see a cute library or you're near a friend's house and want to visit the library or you're on vacation in RI and want to check out the library nearby you can borrow books and return them at any other library! I can't count the number of people who have expressed shock when they find this out. Apparently some people thought that I had to visit every library twice in order to bring the books back. I never would have visited them all if that was the case! Some even have drive through book drops (Sandy Lane in Warwick and Tiverton). Heck, I borrowed books on Block Island and took them home on the ferry with me last summer!  
- There is no limit on how many books you can borrow. I have had eighty-six out at one time and while part of me thought it was great another part of me was slightly overwhelmed, and I doubt many of you want to take out that many at one time anyway, but we regularly have between 30-40 at home. The point is - take out as many as you like! Back when it was just me and Ezra I used to limit him to five books. I look back and laugh at my former self. We have two library bags that are always literally (yes, literally) bursting at the seams and the two older kids are often carrying books to the car too. We just can't help ourselves!
- Your child can have his or her own library card. Yes, even your baby or toddler. I know this because one time before Rory was born I was at the circulation desk at the Cranston Central branch and I realized I didn't have my wallet, so I didn't have my card or Ezra's card or my license (most librarians will let you borrow books with your license if you forget your card. And I recently found out about a few apps that let you store your card info so I'm going to download one and see how it works! But I digress-). The librarian asked if Finn, who was probably only seven or eight months old at the tine, had a card and when I said he didn't she said he could get one and I could borrow our books using his new card so that's what we did! 
- If your library doesn't have the book you want in their collection you can request it from another library, either in person or online, and pick it up when it comes in. Recently there was a book I wanted to read but the only library in RI that had it was the one on Block Island so I requested it and picked it up in Cranston in less than a week.   
- You can ask the librarian to purchase a book that you wish they had in the collection. I have not actually done this before but Steph has. 

Okay! Now that I've given my thoughts on libraries in Rhode Island, I shall explain the quilt featured in these photos. I took a class on making map quilts and initially decided to make a quilt of the Rhode Island coast. When I arrived at the class I learned that we had to pick from two maps rather than any map we wanted, so I ended up with a map of the state rather than just the coast. I enjoyed learning the process but I wasn't sure how I wanted to finish the quilt. I put it away for a few months, waiting to be inspired, and eventually I was struck by the most perfect idea. Steph was going to be finishing up her tour of libraries soon, and I decided to commemorate the occasion with the quilt. I would embroider the location of all seventy libraries on the quilt and give it to her, thinking she might like to display it in her library at Park View Middle School in Cranston where she is the librarian. I worked on it throughout the spring of this year so I could give it to her before the school year was over. We met up at Knighstville in Cranston so I could present the quilt to her and I made her take a picture with it. The next day she sent me a picture of it hanging above the doorway in her school library. I couldn't be more happy with how it turned out! Hooray for libraries and quilts and Rhode Island, three of my favorite things. The only thing that would make this better would be if I had involved chocolate peanut butter ice cream somehow. If you visit Tiverton Union Library (only open on Tuesdays from 10a-5p!) you can walk down the street to Gray's... maybe I'll do that this summer! 

shine bright | a quilt for Aria

My cousin Nicole and her husband welcomed their second daughter into their lives recently so I made her a quilt, of course. Nicole hasn't lived in RI in a long time, and the last time I saw her was the summer after my senior year of high school when she stayed with my family for a week, but we are in touch on facebook and it's nice to keep up that way. I combined two charm packs (Kate Spain, Tula Pink) and some coordinating scraps to make the quilt using this free pattern. I would definitely use this pattern again, and I don't often like to make the same pattern twice so that's saying something! I love the way these bright summer colors look against the white. 
I chose to echo the star with the quilting, straight lines radiating out from between the points. It's backed and bound in the same fabric, a multicolored graphic print from Joann. I hope Aria likes it! 

sunshine and stripes | a quilt for Zara

One of Matt's old friends moved into our neighborhood a few years ago and she and her husband just welcomed their third baby girl into their family. I wanted to make her a quilt so I used scraps of Yucatan fabric by Annie Brady for Moda using the quilt as you go method. I used a big piece of Carolyn Friedlander architextures, some Heather Ross kinder, and C+S stars on the back. I quilted some horizontal lines along the side seams to hold it all together and bound it in more architextures. We took it on our houseboat staycation to take a few pictures at the Fox Point Marina. As usual I had some pretty good quilt holders to help me out :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

my Rifle Paper Co. x Cotton + Steel Cooper Bag

I realized recently that I never wrote about the diaper bag backpack that I made before Rory was born, which is almost two years ago! His birthday is August 11th so I've been using this bag for a while now and I love it as much as I did when I made it. I knew I wanted a backpack for a diaper bag this time around because with two older boys and a baby I wanted to have my hands free. I looked at a lot of patterns and even considered buying one, but I couldn't find one that I liked that had the functionality that I was looking for. Enter Cooper by Collette Patterns.  It had lots of pockets, a non-fussy closure (so many backpack patterns feature multiple buckles and clasps and I knew I wouldn't feel like dealing with those during a newborn diaper blowout), and really nice details. I had the perfect fabric in mind - Rifle Paper Co. of course - and pulled some coordinates from my stash (more C+S). The hardware was the most difficult to track down because I wanted something bronze and there were so many pieces that I was having trouble finding each one in the right color as gold and silver as the most common. Eventually I contacted Fancy Tiger Crafts, where I had purchase the pattern, if they would consider making the pattern and hardware into kits. I was thrilled when they said yes! I ordered a kit for me and one for my friend Lorraine who was going to make the bag for her daughter.

Lorraine and I made a few modifications to the pattern - we added a few interior pockets including a lined zippered pocket, two slip pockets toward the top, and six elasticized pockets surrounding the bottom. I keep Finn's epi pens in the zip pocket, my phone and a lip balm in the slip pockets, and I organize various things in the elasticized pockets (currently diapers, wipes, a few Lara bars, my wallet, Finn's lotion, and a small Bible). We also added a lobster clasp for holding onto a key ring, but I always forget to use it and end up digging around in my bag for my keys anyway.

I forget where I saw the idea, but someone on instagram added a leather patch to their bag and I loved it and really wanted to add one to mine. I asked on facebook to see if any local friends had a leather embossing kit and lucky for me one of my neighbors did! She came over to give me a mini lesson and then I used her set to emboss my initials on a piece of scrap leather. I love how it came out, although I do wish I had used four rivets to secure the patch instead of two because it's curling a bit now.

I get loads of use out of my bag and lots of compliments on it too! It's one of my favorite things I've ever made and I envision using it for years to come!


Thursday, April 26, 2018

classic patchwork | a quilt for Seraphina

A friend of mine is having her first baby soon and asked me about making a quilt for her. We talked about fabrics and I suggested she look on etsy for charm packs. She found one she liked, had it shipped to my house, and pretty quickly I settled on this simple design. The fabrics she chose aren't prints or colors that I am usually drawn to so it was fun to work with something outside of my normal palette. I love the muted tones against the gray background, and I love the backing too. I love when I find the perfect combination in my stash. Both fabrics are low volume - one is a light blue polka dot and the other is the alphabet outlined in red. I wouldn't have put them together but they both coordinate with the fabrics in the quilt top and I love them together now! I think the quilt has a vintage feel, like it's an heirloom already. I quilted it with diagonal lines, a departure from what I've been doing lately (it seems everything I make gets the horizontal and vertical grid treatment) and I think it adds to the vintage feel. I bound it in a light blue flower print with a little scrap of mustard for interest. Scrappy bindings are so nice! I brought the quilt to my mom's house for show and tell and while I was there I decided to use her little quilt photo shoot set up to take a few pictures. I love how the quilt fits right into the clothesline/weathered fence aesthetic! I couldn't go to my friend's shower (I had already bought tickets to bring the boys to a local production of A Year with Frog and Toad) so I didn't get to see her open it, but of course I hope she likes it! Pretty soon Seraphina will be here to test it out. If I'm lucky maybe I'll see some pictures of her with it! 

beach boy | a quilt for Carter

It seems every Rhode Island has a thing for the ocean, so when I found out my friends and fellow RI residents Jen and Chris were having a baby boy I knew exactly what fabric I wanted to use to make a quilt for their little guy. I had bought a jelly roll of this Riley Blake nautical themed fabric a while back and then changed my mind about using it so it's been sitting on a shelf waiting for the perfect project. Since the fabric was precut I thought it would be fun to try out a herringbone pattern that I've been wanting to make for a while. I used a tutorial by Maureen Cracknell for quilt-as-you-go and I really like it. It seemed to make the project go faster but I'm not sure it was actually any quicker. Either way, I enjoyed it! 
I pieced the back with blue fabrics from my stash. I love the whale print! It's quilted along all the seams of the herringbone strips, and then after basting I quilted along the vertical seams to hold the top and back together. I can't remember what I bound it with and it's hard to tell in the photos, haha, but I think it's a crosshatch by Carolyn Friedlander. I gave it to Jen at her baby shower a couple months ago, and now Carter is here and hopefully snuggling with it!

still love | a pixel heart for Parkland

Many times quilters come together to make quilts for people who have been affected by tragic events. I read on instagram that one of my online quilty friends (@foxfishe) was making a quilt to give to someone affected by the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL and I immediately knew I wanted to make one too. As a teacher, a mother, and a concerned citizen, my heart has been hurting for the people of Parkland. A quilt won't do much to heal the pain, but I hope it brings some measure of comfort and peace to whomever receives it. I have been and will continue to pray for those affected by the shooting, and I'm also committed to supporting legislation to help events like this from happening in the future. 
It was Kelsey's idea to make a pixel heart quilt. I've made one other but I really like how they look so I was happy to make one again. I enjoyed picking out what seemed like neutral fabrics from my stash and scraps. The background is all white (Kelsey's backgrounds are scrappy but I don't have that many low volume fabrics to make it work) and the backing is a shot cotton orange. I quilted straight horizontal lines, and now I kind of wish I did vertical lines too. I think it looks unfinished, but it's too late now! It's bound in the solid orange too. We went to Tallulah's Taqueria, one of our favorite lunch spots downtown, last week and I brought the quilt along hoping to get some good photos. The outdoor seating area was perfect like I thought it would be. Of course Finn and Rory wanted to get in the shot :) 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

wonky stars | a quilt for Kyle

One of my oldest friends recently welcomed her third baby into her family. Her husband plays guitar so I included guitar fabric and I used lots of white, blue, and gray. I included lots of other fun prints too, like typewriter keys, graffiti, and little fish that remind me of sardines. The quilt pattern is by Vanessa Christenson but I didn't use the pattern, I just figured it out and used scraps to get the look I wanted. The back is more scraps from the front, but I didn't get a picture of it. I quilted it with straight lines in a grid (big surprise!) and bound it in a black and white chevron. I hope Kyle loves his quilt!

the ocean and the lakes | a quilt for Lenora

Our friends Jess and Chad recently welcomed their first baby into the world. They named her Lenora, but they didn't find out the gender until she was born so I made a quilt that I hoped would work for a boy or girl. I chose lots of gray and added blues and white, some solids and some prints. It's a log cabin but it's not really recognizable as one to me because the way I joined the scraps was completely improvised. 
Jess and Chad are from Michigan so I was happy to find this little scrap of All the States by Alexia Abegg for Cotton + Steel in my scrap basket.
I quilted it with straight lines along the sides of all the horizontal seams. I'm pretty much a one trick pony lately - gray and blue, straight lines, grid quilting. That about sums up my sewing.
Of course Rory had to test the quilt out while I was trying to take pictures of it. The back is a gray and white ikat print with a small piece of gingham.
I bound it in - wait for it - chambray. Usually I attach my labels the opposite way, with Tara Celeste Quilts on the outside, but for Jess I flipped it. She loves Rhode Island so I thought that little state outline would make her smile when she sees it. I hope this quilt brings smiles to Nora too.

patchwork pond | a quilt for Wesley

Our friends recently welcomed their first baby into the world. They named him Wesley, but they chose to find out his gender when he was born so a gender neutral quilt was in order. I picked a mix of gray, white, linen, and chambray fabrics with one square of gingham for fun. I made a granny square patchwork design, although I wish I hadn't set it on point.  I would have needed more white fabric to make it work the regular way and I was too impatient to order more.
The back is a print by Sarah Watts for Cotton + Steel from her From Porto with Love collection. Nate, Wesley's dad, is big into fishing so these gold metallic fish were perfect. I love when I have just the right print in my stash.
I quilted it with a simple grid and finished it off with dark gray polka dot chambray binding. Britt and Nate loved it, and I hope Wes enjoys lots of snuggles under it!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

modern aztec | a quilt for Theo

As fellow makers know, it's always nice to be sought out to make something. When someone asks me to make a quilt it shows me that they see the value in the things I make and it brings me great pleasure to make a quilt with someone special in mind. In this case it was for my friend Kristin's sister's unborn baby boy. Kristin and I reconnected at the birthday party of our mutual friend's one year old son, and we caught up on the years since college. She complimented my quilts and later messaged me to see if I would be interested in making one for her soon-to-be-born nephew. I jumped at the chance, especially when she told me I would have mostly free reign. We discussed her sister's style and settled on a minimal design with solid colors on a white background, and a fun farm animal print for the back. Like I do with all the quilts I make, I prayed while I planned and cut and sewed. Kristin gave it to her sister just before Christmas and she said she loved it. About a month later I learned that Lauren's baby tragically died during childbirth. His heart stopped beating during labor and doctors were unable to do anything. My heart breaks for their family, that they didn't get to keep Theo here and watch him grow. I'm thankful that they have hope in Heaven and know that they'll see him again. 

If you'd like to read more about Lauren, Brad, Theo and their story (including their faith) you can visit the YouCaring page that Kristin set up. The fundraiser is no longer active but you can still pray 

Monday, January 15, 2018

flower garden | a quilt for Susanna

Our friends Dawn and Andrew are welcoming their second baby girl into the world soon, so a pretty kitty quilt was in order. They have two cats and I made their older daughter a cat quilt so it only seemed right that their second daughter have one too. I had the perfect fabric, a charm pack of Posy by Aneela Hoey , so I combined that with a few other prints and solids from my stash to make a simple patchwork quilt. 
 The back is a strip of C+S gingham and a fun print by Suzy Ultman - I love the ice cream truck! I used it on the back of the quilt I made for Mykenzie too. It's just so good for a little girl.
 More grid quilting and scrappy binding, and that pretty much sums me up as a quilter lately. I can't wait to meet little Susie!

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