Getting organized

I ❤️ spreadsheets. Five-plus years ago, I worked at a company that used an insanely outdated version of Microsoft Office; this did not make me love spreadsheets. Luckily, for many reasons other than ancient software, I no longer work there and can now appreciate the beauty of complex filtering and inserting columns without turning the filters off. 

I was wandering Jo-Ann’s the other day, petting fabric I didn’t need and had no immediate plans for, when I thought about how nice it would be to have a master list of the patterns I’ve accumulated. Then, instead of relying on the same patterns time and again, I could easily peruse my options – as well as buy an appropriate length of fabric. Combining this with the above mentioned feeling regarding spreadsheets, and my pattern data file was born: 

I’ve yet to decide the best way to sort (designer? Pattern type? Size range?), but I’m pretty happy with the potential here. Farther to the right is a column to indicate whether I’ve used the pattern; today “yes” is a pretty small percentage. I’m curious to see how much I can improve it this year, so I’m putting my starting stats below. Hopefully this will be the impetus I need to try something new!

  • Patterns: 92*
  • Made: 32

*Don’t worry, Dan, many of these were free!

PSA: Iron temperature matters

Gather round and I’ll tell you the tale of the time I melted the shirt I just finished sewing.

…wait, did I spoil the ending?

I have a habit of picking up a pattern or two from Jo-Ann’s when they’re on sale for $1. Simplicity 1916 was a fairly recent addition to my stash and when had a knit sale around Thanksgiving, I saw the perfect opportunity to expand my work wardrobe. Simplicity 1916

I picked a very drapey nylon-spandex blend for view A. I’m torn between two ways of thinking about a print fabric for this style: either the print doesn’t do it justice as it makes it hard to see the gathering detail, or a print is a good way to camouflage any errant stitches in a design element that gets away from a straight seam.

Option 3: a busy print makes it harder to see where you melted the synthetic fabric while trying to steam your hem flat:

I'm melting
Mmm, crunchy.

Hard to see? It’s easier to see on the iron.

Iron abuse.
Iron abuse.

New adventure for the new year, learning how to clean my iron and deciding how to salvage the hem of my new shirt. Also, double checking fabric content and iron settings before going too crazy.

Can you find it?
Can you find it?

Quick sews

I had time to sew last weekend, but was reluctant to start on my next big project – Greta’s Elsa dress for Halloween. Instead, I went for a couple quick projects for instant satisfaction:

My friend and her twins I made turtles for a couple months ago? They’re moving out of state, which means I’m losing another work friend (sad face). I was toying with the idea of making a going-away present when she mentioned a lack of hats for the babies. I found cute fleece in the remnants bin at Jo-Ann’s and whipped these up with some guidance from Martha. They aren’t exactly the same size and I wasn’t sure if they would even fit the babies, but I think they worked out okay!F0SyEZ2PEaW07WB0.jpg

We have bed pillows on our couch. It’s cool, because I like to sleep there (much to my husband’s chagrin), but it’s probably time to get grown-up throw pillows. Said husband even suggested it for the couch we recently moved to the basement. I squirreled away some cloth napkins I found on clearance a few years ago, so I busted out two in fall-ish colors and re-purposed them. I even went with a zipper closure instead of an envelope/flap style. I must be getting brave!Jaow6V1BRKFyEORH.jpg

I did at least cut out pattern pieces for Greta’s costume this weekend. With less than 2 weeks to Halloween, I can’t push it off much longer!

Owl blankey

A few months ago, I stumbled on‘s 24 hour flash sale. For good or bad, I am now in the habit of checking it daily. Last month, I caught Riley Blake’s Happy Harvest and thought it would make a great quilt for my son.

Happy Harvest


Never mind the fact that I had never made a quilt before. I had been wanting to try something with precuts, so I grabbed a couple Rolie Polies (2.5″ precut strips) along with some yardage for the backing, binding, and borders. Looking back at my order history, I’m pretty impressed with myself – I placed the order on August 5th and finished the quilt today, September 7th. Factoring in shipping time, I did a fairly labor-intensive project from start to finish in under a month!


I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Instead of working from a pattern, I came up with an idea and ran with it. The solid strips have a wood grain texture, so I thought I could place them vertically to feel like trees against the horizontally striped background.



I ended up buying another yard off of Etsy (for significantly more than I paid on FQS) for the backing. I knew it wouldn’t be enough, but I had strips leftover so I could piece together a big enough panel. I went more random for this area, cutting down my scraps to different lengths and worrying less about like colors and patterns touching each other.

Then there was the part I was most worried about – the actual quilting. This is how I get hung up on projects: if something goes well at first, I’m nervous to continue in case I should wreck what I’ve done so far. I know people will send out their pieced panels to have professional quilters do the hard part…what makes me think I can maneuver all this fabric through my non-industrial machine? In the end, I was surprised at how fast it all went. I basted with safety pins after polling the internet on the benefits of that versus adhesive spray. My idea for a quilting pattern was part of what had me motivated to get this completed. Instead of just a bunch of vertical lines or Xes, I quilted it in a big N for Noah (which unfortunately is hard to see in photos). Somehow I managed to do all of the quilting yesterday and finished up the binding today.


I think he likes it alright. Oh, and the title of the post? When the fabric was delivered, I showed him and pointed out the owl patterns. He wandered off like he couldn’t care less, but later he started talking about his owl blankey. Whenever he caught a glimpse of my work in progress, he would call it out again, reminding me that he knew it was his.

Of course, now I have another collection on hand for a quilt for his big sister. I didn’t have this one done for a full hour before she was asking why I hadn’t started on hers yet. Guess I had better get to work!


Twin turtles

The day before my little one’s second birthday, a work friend of mine had twins! I don’t know if it was just because there would be two babies, but I was super excited and kept thinking up fun things I could make for them. In the end, I (and my gift for procrastination) held myself back to just stuffed turtles; we’re not that close, and it would have been weird if I showed up with armloads of presents for her offspring.

I’ve made turtles for both of my kids from this pattern courtesy of Ashley at Make It & Love It. Each one I make turns out progressively less lopsided as I gain more experience sewing curves. The second one I made also taught me to sew the smallest shapes (head and tail) before I cut them out – much easier to avoid bunching up under the needle. These are great for using up leftover scraps or smaller remnants that jump in my basket of their own accord when JoAnn’s has 50% off (what, just me?).

Greta's turtle - attempt 1
Greta’s turtle – attempt 1

I used minky/cuddle fabrics for the bodies on the newest toys, but did (mostly) quilting cotton for my first two. You could fuse a woven interfacing to any pieces with stretch before you start sewing, but I like to play it fast and loose and just dealt with any stretchiness as I went.

Noah's turtle - attempt 2
Noah’s turtle – attempt 2

The hallmark of a successful project – the recipient didn’t realize they were handmade until I slipped it into the conversation. Overall, a pretty quick sew (with a little practice) and very satisfying results!

Attempts 3 & 4
Attempts 3 & 4