Saturday, November 10, 2018

Yucatán | a quilt for Annie

Last year I connected with an artist on instagram who happens to live in Rhode Island - it's always a small world when you live in RI! Annie Brady is a graphic designer who has recently released a couple fabric collections for Moda. She also designed some quilt patterns and was looking for someone to sew some samples. I was familiar with her work from instagram and knew I loved it so I was really excited when Annie got in touch with me. I had seen her first collection, Big Sky, when it was exhibited at quilt market about a year ago and I liked her second collection, Yucatán, just as much and readily agreed to make the namesake quilt pattern for Annie. It took me three and a half months and twenty-eight hours. Phew! It's one of the biggest quilts I've ever made and it's definitely one of the fussiest. All those half square triangles took a lot of cutting and trimming! The pattern is very well designed and it's quite manageable; it's broken up into very sensible blocks and comes together quickly. It only took me three and half months because I usually sew after my boys are in bed, unless I neglect them during the day which I admit to doing on occasion! I delivered the quilt to Annie a couple months ago and was thrilled that she loved it. You can purchase the Yucatan quilt pattern here in Annie's shop if you'd like to make your own. And be sure to check out her instagram highlights to see her kitty on the quilt! 

Friday, November 2, 2018

pink pixels | a quilt for Maya

I LOVED my childhood babysitter Meredith. She was five years older than me and from the time I was allowed out in my yard I'm told that I would stand on the front lawn and just yell her name repeatedly and ask her to come out and play with me. We played on my swing set, built forts in my next door neighbor's backyard (it was magically overgrown), and as she got older she became my babysitter. I remember her tucking me into my bed like a mummy and then sneaking into the hallway once I thought my brother was asleep. Meredith is in so many of my childhood memories and I always think of her fondly. In typical Rhode Island fashion she married the son of my teacher assistant from my first job working for Cranston Public Schools. They had a baby boy a few years ago and my mom and I worked together to make a quilt for him, and we did the same thing when we found out she was expecting a baby girl this fall. I decided to make this pattern, one I had bought a while ago but had never made, and I pulled scraps in ice cream sherbet colors from my stash and lots of low volume fabrics from my mom's. The backing is a piece of rain cloud fabric that I bought when I was obsessed with weather themed fabric, an abstract design from AGF, and some cut paper doll kids from Heather Ross's new Kinder collection which is appearing in a lot of my quilts lately. I enjoyed piecing the gentle curves as that's a skill I've been trying to work on. I echoed the circles in the design with my quilting and made a scrappy binding with pieced left over from the patchwork. I dropped it off at their house for baby Maya a couple weeks ago and I hope it brings her warmth and comfort throughout the years!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

geese in the sky | a quilt for Cordelia

My cousin Meghan had a baby girl last week and I sent this quilt to her via her mom who delivered it to Scituate, MA. Meg grew up in Scituate, RI, about ten minutes from my house in Smithfield, and being just seven months apart we grew up together. We slept over each other's houses, swam in our aunt's pool every summer, ate bowls and bowls of "special soup" (aka Ramen noodles), went to band camp together, and cheering each other on at our dance recitals and competitions. When we were in middle school my aunt and uncle got divorced and Meghan and her mom and brother moved into my neighborhood. That same year she also started going to a private school with me so then we spent a good part of every day together on the bus and in the hallways (even though we're seven months apart I was a grade ahead of her so we didn't have any classes together). When I started driving I picked Meg up for school every day, and we drove home together too if one of us didn't have extracurricular activities. Meg went to college in DC and later moved to Boston so we didn't see each other often but we were always close in spirit even if we were physically far away. Now that we're both mothers we talk frequently throughout the week, discussing sleep schedules and toddler boundaries and self care. I'm happy we stay in touch, but I admit to wishing Meg still lived in Scituate, RI instead of Scituate, MA!

Anyway, Meg and her husband Bill prefer not to find out the sex of their babies before they're born so I had a baby girl quilt ready and a baby boy quilt started. The baby girl quilt was made with leftover pieces from a big commission quilt I made earlier this year for Annie Brady with her Yucatan collection for Moda. I love the bright, tropical feel it has and that it's not overly feminine. It was my first time making flying geese and they looked kind of busy so I tried to tone the rest of the quilt down with simple strips. The back is mostly an orange solid and a Leah Duncan print called Las Formas from her Yucca collection for Cloud 9. I think the two collections go really well together!

Meg ended up having a baby girl so I was happy to be able to send a quilt up with my aunt right away. I made some lactation energy bites, collected some hand-me-down nursing bras and nursing pads, and packed the quilt into a bag and my aunt is bringing it all to Meg and baby Cordelia today. I hope it brings her warmth and comfort for years to come!      

Monday, October 22, 2018

sunshowers | a quilt for someone

Lately I've had a lot of quilts going at once which is kind of unusual for me. I tend to work on one project at a time until it's finished but I keep having new ideas and wanting to start them. Then I saw an instagram friend ask for pattern testers for this super cute rainbow quilt and I couldn't resist. I stopped working on everything else to pull fabrics and then I cut the templates and fabric when my kids were in the tub one night. Once they were sleeping I sewed the whole top! I've sewn curves a bunch of times in the past but I still consider myself a novice so I was a little bit apprehensive. The large scale of the design made it a cinch! The curves were pretty simple and I only needed to trim them a little bit to get the blocks to match up. I love the fabrics I chose for the rainbow - a Cotton + Steel floral, Carolyn Friedlander crosshatch in pickle, an older Heather Ross bee print, and a metallic Cotton + Steel basic - against the linen. I had the perfect fabric for backing, a colorful rain cloud print that I bought when I was pregnant with Rory. I was a little obsessed with weather themed fabric at the time. I added some Heather Ross kinder to make it big enough. I quilted the rainbow with lines to echo the curves, straight lines underneath, and free motion clouds in the sky. I bound it in more pickle crosshatch and washed it to get it all crinkled up. Matt took some pictures for me one night when we went to Bayberry Beer Hall for dinner. Now it's ready and waiting for a special little one - it'll be perfect for a rainbow baby! If you'd like to make your own just visit Megan's etsy shop. There's also a smaller rainbow block pattern for making a block based quilt, the #sunshowersquilt. The one I made is the #retrorainbowquilt. Let me know if you make one; I'd love to see! 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

diedelbug bags for Ari

When I turned thirty Matt threw a small dinner party with our closest friends to celebrate. I felt so loved and I enjoyed every minute of being together with my favorite friends. They all pitched in to buy me an Ergo baby carrier so I could use it with Rory and it was such a nice surprise. Only one of my friends hadn't turned thirty yet at that point and I decided I wanted to do something extra special for her too. I offered to make her a bag and she said she could use a cosmetic case so I started looking for pattern. I chose the dolled up duo train cases by Diedelbug Handmade and I'm really pleased with how they came out! It only took me about a year and a half to finish them. Ari picked the same main fabric that I used in my cooper bag that I use as a diaper bag, and I added a bunch of coordinates from my stash. My friend Lorraine helped me with the construction a lot! Since I mostly work improvisationally it's sometimes a challenge for me to read a pattern, especially one as detailed as these. Lorraine can read them with ease and she explains them clearly too. I couldn't've made these without her, and I'm sure I speak for us both when I say I never want to make another set again! 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

hope anchors the soul | a quilt for Pastor & Mrs. Emerson

Ocean State Baptist Church is the church that I've been going to since I was about five or six years old. Pursuing my faith in God there alongside my mentors and friends has been one of the most formative experiences of my life. Many of my memories feature OSBC as the setting - attending Sunday School with Mrs. Chihowski as my teacher, singing in the children's choir under the direction of Mrs. Hackett, accepting Jesus as my personal savior with Maria DePina to help guide me in prayer, being part of the youth group and participating in every crazy game and activity our leaders dreamed up, getting baptized by Pastor Emerson, going to camp every summer, working in children's church, serving with the teens at various nursing homes in the area, going on a missions trip to New Jersey, singing on the worship team as a young adult, helping to organize a women's retreat, serving as one of the youth group leaders, and dedicating each of our boys to Jesus. There are so many more memories I could share, and I know more to be made in the future. Pastor Emerson and his wife Linda have dedicated their lives to doing the work of Jesus in Smithfield, RI and beyond for the past forty-three years. I have been blessed to have a small part in their work for about twenty-six years. They've decided that the time has come to retire (somewhat - Pastor Emerson is still on staff as Pastor Emeritus) and I asked my mom and my aunt (who are also long time members of OSBC) if they wanted to join me in making a quilt to thank them for their service.

I drew inspiration from one of Denyse Schmidt's quilts for the Stone House Inn in Little Compton, RI. The top is lots of blues and grays, solids and very subtle prints. We paper pieced letters to add a portion of one of Pastor and Linda's favorite scriptures - Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." - to the top, and I'm thrilled with how it came out. It's pretty much exactly as I imagined it. The back is just two large cuts of fabric that have a nautical vibe (this is a common theme in my quilts since RI is the Ocean State - we love our coastline!) and a simple handwritten label. As I wrote this post I remembered that I wanted to make a more complex label with an anchor, a cross, and a heart, but obviously I completely forgot about that part of my plan. I quilted horizontal straight lines over the whole quilt, not too dense because it's huge and I was getting tired, haha. Then I passed it on to my mom who added some lines of hand quilting. My aunt made the binding, I attached it, and then she washed it so it would be nice and crinkly.

We gave it to them one Wednesday night before church and I think it's safe to say they loved it. Pastor Emerson posted about it on facebook shortly thereafter (see my screenshot below), and he doesn't seem to use facebook that often so his post made me smile :) I know I say this all the time, but this quilt is one of my favorite makes to date. It's definitely one of the more special pieces. We're so thankful for Pastor and Linda Emerson and and we were honored to make this quilt for them as a small way of showing our appreciation and gratitude.

my baptism, 1998

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

summer star | a quilt for Spencer

Our friends Mike and Amanda are expecting their first baby, a boy. You know that I think every baby needs a quilt so I started making one for him early on in Amanda's pregnancy. I decided to go with one of my favorite patterns, a sawtooth star. I used blues for the star and low volume for the background. The back is made up of two large cuts, one dark teal (I think it's Carolyn Friedlander, I can't remember) and some bright yellow pearl bracelets by Lizzy House. The yellow is supposed to be a nod to Del's Lemonade, where Mike and Amanda met, but probably no one will get it, haha. It's quilted with straight lines to echo the shape of the star. I bound it in another blue, washed it to get that crinkly goodness, and gifted it along with a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible at her baby shower a month or two ago. I can't wait to meet the little guy! Another friend for Rory :)

Monday, September 3, 2018

patchwork pop | a quilt for Nova

Our friends Stan and Karissa are expecting their third child later this summer so of course I made a quilt. Karissa told me that receiving a quilt from me is one of the perks of having a baby so I was extra excited to make one for her. I took a color theory class with Anna Maria Horner a few months ago and decided to use the stack of fabrics I pulled in the class to make this quilt. A lot of them were not fabrics I would normally put together but I'm always trying to stretch myself and try new things, and if Anna Maria Horner said they looked good together then I believe her! 
I did add some neutrals (the two taupe fabrics) to tone down the boldness of the other fabrics but I'm not quite sure they did their job. This is the kind of quilt that I loved at first (when I was cutting) and then when I was sewing it together I wasn't so sure about it, but when I decided on backing and then quilted it I came around again and now I'm happy with it again. I think the biggest thing holding me back from loving it in the middle of working on it is the purple. I don't use a lot of purple and even though I like the color purple I have a hard time incorporating it into quilts. That was the point of the class though, to learn to embrace colors we aren't used to using. I accidentally deleted the full view photo of the quilt, oops.
Since the front is so bright and bold I tried to tone it down just a bit on the back. The colors are still really vibrant, but I think the large blocks of color next to the neutral is pleasing to the eye. I love the birds and polka dots on the right, they might be my favorite part of the quilt! 
I went with simple diagonal line grid quilting which I always like - I think the scrappiness of this quilt and the quilting give it a vintage feel - and I bound it in scraps from the quilt, another favorite finish of mine. I gave the quilt to Karissa at her "sprinkle" last week and I think she liked it! I can't wait to see Nova snuggled up with it in a just a couple months.

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!

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