This time in Liberty

I knew it wouldn't be long before I made a second Ryan Top. Four days since I finished the final hem stitches on my first version, I was wearing my second.

Ryan top 2c

I followed the same process for making this one as I did the first. It's a size L and I omitted the neck facings and used a bias tape instead. I did cut my bias strips at 1 1/4" instead of 1 1/2" and I think this was a better choice. It's a much better and proportionate fit. The fabric I used was two separate pieces of Liberty Tana Lawn that I bought back in 2010 when we took a family trip to London. The pattern pieces *just* fit. One of my fabric pieces was slightly longer than the other so I used that for the bodice pieces, but it was still too short for the pattern as designed. To make it work, I shortened the torso by 3 1/2" at the bottom edge and folded the selvedges in towards the center of the fabric to give me 2 folded edges. For the front and back yokes, I folded the fabric in the same manner. It took some serious arranging and the fabric pattern on the back yoke may be upside down (who's looking?), but I made it work. Take that, Tim Gunn.

Ryan top 2b

It's still a little snug under the arms and if I had had a more generous cut of fabric, I would have tried adding a smidge of width - maybe a 1/2" or so? Alas, it was not to be and the resulting top is still totally wearable. I love the length on this shorter version just as much as I like the long length on the original one - it's just a different look. This one worked great with my boyfriend jeans and will be equally as cute with shorts. Yay!

This week is a busy one and I wasn't holding out high hope to get much sewing accomplished. This top is so damn quick to come together - I think my total time cutting and sewing was just at 2 hours - that I couldn't resist jumping in. I do love a fast sew! I also managed to work a tiny bit on one of the quilts I have under construction in a spare hour on Monday and am wishing for a small chunk of time to put the finishing touches on the last blocks. Sometimes I get so discouraged when my time is limited. To that end, I have spent hours and hours each week at physical therapy for two minor, yet painful and annoying injuries over the last two months. It has really eaten into my creative time and that is has started to wear on me. I miss the making. I realize that I just need to change my lens when it comes to how I approach making at the moment. There ARE more minutes available to me than I think. I just have to find them. Have you read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert? (I LOVED it! And I would highly recommend it and, yes, that is an affiliate link.) There's this part when she suggests having an affair with your creative work. Get sneaky. Steal the time to create. Revel in the process. Do the work. Don't tell anyone what you are doing. Just keep it a secret. That is the notion fueling me right now.

Ryan top 2a

Made in a day - the Ryan Top

Often, after working on a quilt with a lot of math and small pieces, I feel like I need a good, easy, but still interesting project to work on. A palette cleanser of sorts. I've been in the mood to sew some clothes, but I am not ready to undertake my big clothing project of 2016 just yet. (Spoiler alert: The big project is JEANS! You all, I'm saying it here: I am going to make my own jeans!) While scrolling through Instagram, I saw something that lead me to the Ryan Top by Whitney Deal. It's a sweet, cute, simple top and I knew it was just the kind of project I needed.

Ryan top

I purchased, download and assembled the pattern Wednesday morning in a spare hour at home while washing the fabric at the same time. Skills, I tell you! I cut it out early in the afternoon and set it aside for after school sewing. And by four o'clock, I was stitching away. With a small hiatus to cook and eat dinner, I had the entire thing finished by bedtime. Man, did it ever feel good to start and finish something in one day!

I pulled the fabric out my stash - it's a lightweight cotton yarn dye that I picked up in Nashville last summer. It is lightweight with a nice drape and beautiful hand. I love it. The pattern contains five pieces - a front yoke, back yoke, front facing, back facing and the bodice (you cut two of this one piece). The pattern is well-written and is geared towards beginners. My only issue was that some of the seam allowances were 1/4" and some were 1/2" so I really had to pay attention to exactly what each step called for. Not a big deal - just something to note.

Ryan top neck

Instead of using the front and back facings on the neckline, I decided to finish it with a bias binding. This all personal preference. I don't care for the way facings feel on my neck while I am wearing a blouse. First I cut a 1 1/2" bias strip from some Liberty scraps. (This was a little too big - I could have done it with a 1" strip). Before sewing the shoulder seams, I stay-stitched both necklines at 1/8". After the shoulder seams were completed, I sewed the bias tape on with the 1/4" seam called for when attaching the facings. There's a good tutorial for this method over on Grainline if you don't know what I am talking about. I followed the pattern as written for everything else.

Ryan top front

My bust measurement put me right in the middle of a size L so I felt confident making this without a muslin. I do think the pattern runs a little small - I feel like I could use a tiny bit more easy under the arms. I'm a C/D cup for what that is worth. I think if you are much bustier than that, you would have to make some adjustments. If you are on the high side of the measurement range for your size, I'd say go ahead and make that muslin. I know. Boring, but better safe than sorry. Even though I feel I could use a tad bit more room, I will still wear this a lot as it is. It's comfortable and cute - a perfect summer shirt.

Ryan top back

Note: this top is long! Almost tunic length, I think, although Jane told me that it is too short to be a tunic. What do I know? Regardless, I like the extra length as I am long in the torso and normally have to add a couple of inches to compensate. Not this time. It's perfect as is for wearing with skinny jeans or leggings. I could make a darling dress if you lengthened the bodice piece or be a super cute top with even five or six inches less length. I can envision many different iterations of this pattern in my closet. I'm thinking about a shorter one in a sweet Liberty floral to wear with shorts this summer or even a two-fabric version, one for the yoke and one for the body. I could go on and on - you get the drift. Bottom line: I recommend this pattern.

Unrelated: something prompted me to go back and read some of my archives last night. What a trip down memory lane! It's hard to believe that I have been writing in this space for almost 10 years (RIGHT?!?). It made me realize just how much I miss sharing some of my process and daily thoughts. I am on Instagram daily, but I don't think that is the same. I feel there is just not the space to write about some of the things swirling in my mind on that platform. I'm not promising anything, but I am wondering if you may just see more of me around here with small bits to share instead of just finished projects.

Happy Friday, friends! Enjoy the weekend.

Accuquilt Lap/Baby Quilt

Lap quilt cover - full

I whipped up this sweet little lap/baby quilt a couple of weeks ago. I used my GO! Cutter and I'm sharing the tutorial over on the Accuquilt blog. It's a very fast make with two different blocks finishing at 6". I made this quilt specifically for donation to a local hospice organization. They ask for quilts that are between 36" and 48" and this design is perfect for that. It also would make a sweet play mat for baby and can be easily sized up into a throw or bed quilt. While I chose decidedly feminine fabrics from my stash (Amy Butler's Gypsy Caravan), I think this would be stunning in solids or as a scrappy quilt.

For more details, check out the tutorial over at Accuquilt.


Lap quilt back

Mustang Baby Quilt

Mustang quilt 4 by house on hill road

I started this sweet Mustang quilt last spring while I was working my way through quilt kits and going through the motions of making to keep myself engaged in something creative. I was excited to see this one come together. I love the fabrics and the piecing was varied enough to keep me interested through every stage. It should have finished around 42" x 55", but I had trouble with the half-square triangle border.

Mustang quilt 5 by house on hill road

Mustang quilt 6 by house on hill road

To this day, I do not know where the mistake was. I followed the pattern directions, but the borders did not fit as they should have. I went ahead and sewed them on anyhow - always a bad idea - and then shoved the entire thing to the side until this past January. In an effort to #finishiterin, I decided the best course of action would be to take the borders off and see if I could fix them. I spent some q.t. with my seam ripper and removed the four borders. Then as I looked at them, I really couldn't remember what the original issue was. Were the HST units too big? Too small? It just seemed easier and more efficient to plow ahead without the borders.

Mustang quilt by house on hill road

And you know what? It's still a sweet quilt, albeit slightly smaller than the original one, about 38" x 51". It is missing the interest that the border adds, but if I didn't tell you, you would know. And it made the perfect gift for a baby girl whose mother loves horses.

Mustang quilt 3 by house on hill road

The details: All of the fabric is by Cotton + Steel and, as of this posting, the kit is still available (and on sale!) at the Fat Quarter Shop. The pattern is available for free on the Cotton + Steel website. The backing fabric is I Heart Bees in Denim and the binding is a random pink solid from my stash. I used a cotton batting and quilted it with straight lines on either sides of some of the seams. I chose to quilt it rather lightly so it would have some drape after washing. I add the entire binding by machine and it came together well.

Did I mention that this is the year I perfect my machine binding? It is! If you have a favorite machine binding method or tip/trick, I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Super-sized Ohio Star

I've been sewing like a little bit of a mad woman this winter and I have a bit of a backlog of finished quilts to share on the blog. If you follow me on Instagram, you have most likely seen snippets of all of these quilts in various stages - in progress, in top form, quilted, finished, bound, etc. For some reason (um, WINTER), I have not been motivated to get it together long enough to pull out the DSLR and really give these quilts their due. Now that Spring has finally sprung, I am trying to use the nice weather and longer sunlight hours to get them properly photographed and documented here. And, by them, I mean just this one. I have two more that are washed and ready for some time in front of the lens. For now, though, I give you the Super-sized Ohio Star. Yellow glow provided by the late-in-the-day, setting sun. ;)

Supersized ohio star 2 by house on hill road

Supersized ohio star by house on hill road

In January, I watched the first of the Creativebug Block of the Month videos which features Heather Jones and the Ohio Star block. I had never made an Ohio Star quilt so I decided to give it a go. Thirty 12" blocks later, that quilt was finished (and is still waiting to be photographed. Ahem). Around that time, my guild did an exercise about enlarging blocks to different sizes, and since I was really into the Ohio Star, I chose it as my candidate for super-sizing.

Supersized ohio star 7 by house on hill road

I could go into the math for this, but really all you need to know is that the Ohio Star is a nine-patch block made of 5 squares and 4 quarter triangle squares. To make it bigger, I knew I needed a number divisible by 3. I limited myself to fabrics from my stash and, based on yardage I had on hand, settled on a nine block quilt (a nine-patch of nine-patches!) with finished block sizes of 21". Each square in the nine-patch block finishes at 7" (7 1/2'' unfinished), giving a final measurement of 63" square. It's a good throw size, perfect for a cat nap or picnic for two. I like the quilts I make to be usable and I find that anything smaller than around 60" square just isn't as useful as I'd like.

Supersized ohio star 3 by house on hill road

Supersized ohio star 4 by house on hill road

The background fabric is Essex Linen in Ivory and I love, love, love how it feels in a quilt. LOVE IT. The prints are one colorway of Anna Maria Horner's Fibs and Fables line which I paired with bright, cheery solids in hot pink, chartreuse and aqua. I used Labyrinth in aqua for the backing and bound it by machine with Helios in incense. I quilted it with rows of loops in off-white thread and 100% cotton batting on the long arm at Quilted Joy. Between the linen and the cotton batting, it came out of the wash with the best crinkle. Cozy!

Supersized ohio star 6 by house on hill road

Supersized ohio star 5 by house on hill road

This one came together FAST! I know I say that often, but, in this case, big blocks make for less piecing over a greater square footage. I mention this as a reminder to myself. Not everything has to be difficult or tedious to be satisfying to make and to look at. The large squares pack a good punch and have me itching to super-size all the things.

Accuquilt Medallion Quilt - Borders 4 and 5

Finished accuquilt medallion quilt

Today on the AccuQuilt blog, you can find the final two borders of my medallion quilt. It was a fun one to put together and I am particularly happy that I was able to source all of the fabrics in my stash. I used the navy background with the confetti dots as the color palette inspiration. I don't think this is a palette that I would have intentionally chosen, but I love how cheerful it is and that it was not my usual m.o.

Finished medallion 2

Finished medallion 3

I chose to echo the straight lines by quilting about 1/4" on each side of them. The backing was pieced with more of the navy print and little bit of a purple and white check. I machine bound the quilt by stitching the binding to the back, flipping it to the front and sewing it in place with a small zig zag stitch. Very fast and it looks great. The quilt finishes at 57" square and will most likely be donated to our school/church.

You can read more about the exact cutting dies I used over at AccuQuilt. The enterprising among you can probably figure our how to do it without the dies as well. It's just math. ;)

Make and Work

As many people do, I chose a guiding word for 2016. I have done this in the past with varying degrees of success and really was unsure if I wanted to go down that path again this year. Then I figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I set about choosing a word. Or, maybe more precisely, a word chose me. It popped in my head and would not get out. It reappeared again and again. Every time I thought about a guiding word for the year ahead, this was the word that came to mind. It was not the word I wanted, but it was a persistent little bugger. I stopped fighting it and embraced that word. That word? WORK.

Applique pillow 4

I tried and tried to come up with something different. Really, I did. Work has a negative connotation for so many people. It can sound like soul-sucking drudgery and the exact opposite of fun and relaxation. There are certainly many examples of that kind of work - cleaning toilets and doing taxes come to my mind. BUT! There is a positive side to work, especially fulfilling, creative work. And that is the work that I am talking about.

It's no secret that I like to make things. Obviously. This blog is a testament to my making. I sew. I knit. I cook. I bake. I crochet. I paint. I garden. I even sometimes write. I make, plain and simple. And I love making. I do. My day is better for it. My heart is happier when my hands are busy and my mind is working and I am creating.

Applique pillow 3

Yet, I have never approached my making with an attitude of work, where the making itself becomes more job-like with specific studio hours or long-term goals. Rather, my making has always been born from my heart. If I want to make it, I generally do. If I don't, I don't. I can go weeks without picking up a pair of scissors and cutting into fabric. My sewing machine has sat idle for long periods of time. There is a benefit of making in this way. It is almost always satisfying and filled with excitement. Each project is fresh and new and full of possibilities. It is free of time constraints and deadlines. If it becomes boring or no longer fun, I can choose to let it sit, or maybe even to let it go. And all of this is fine and good. It is creative and it is making and it fulfills me.

Until, it doesn't.

Applique pillow 2

I find it very easy to let life and living get in the way of making. I'm talking about the every day demands on time and energy that we all face. Most of these things are good things - family! friends! cooking! exercising! traveling! - and I certainly don't want to come off as not appreciating the wonderful life that I am blessed with. I enjoy spending time with my loved ones and taking care of them and the things (groceries, pets, gardens, even paying the bills) that need attending to. But, I also really enjoy making. It fills my soul and gives me a happy heart. I have just come to the realization that when faced to choose between the two, I am more apt to wait until everything else and everyone else is taken care of before I tend to myself and my creativity. As a result, I suffer and everyone around me suffers. Happy wife, happy life? No one is happy unless Mom is happy? Yeah, that.

Why make the distinction? "Work" and "make" are both words that imply action, but they are different. Making is about creating something. Work is creating something, too, but, for me, it means showing up and putting in the time even when I may not feel like it. It's about taking my creativity and prioritizing it just as I would any paying job. It's about exerting effort and holding myself accountable to allow time to make. It's about taking the inspiration and running with it and going through the motions when inspiration doesn't show up.  It's about practicing, maybe failing, picking up the pieces and coming out on the other side. It's about being available to myself so that when the light bulb goes off and inspiration calls, I am in the practice of working. If I can do that, then when inspiration asserts itself, I can respond to it and make, make, make. If I am lucky, at the end, I will have made something beautiful and I will be creatively fulfilled. I really can't ask more than that.

Applique pillow 1

I have more thoughts on this, but I think I will save them for another post. I leave you with this needle turned applique pillow that I made over the course of the weekend. The pattern is from Carolyn Friedlander's new class, Hand-Stitched Applique Quilts, on Creativebug and all of the fabrics are Cotton and Steel. Cut out on Friday night, I basted it and started the applique on Saturday. I finished up the hand sewing just as the Oscars started Sunday night. Monday I sandwiched and quilted the front, cut the back pieces and inserted a zipper before assembling and hand binding the whole thing. Tuesday it went in the mail to someone I have never met, but needed an angel in a pillow swap on Instagram. I loved sewing this! It really didn't feel like work even though that is exactly what it was.

Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2 - Argyle Medallion (and a giveaway!)

Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2 is hitting the shelves soon and I am thrilled to have a quilt in it. Published by Lucky Spool Media, this follow-up book to the widely popular and beautifully done, Scraps, Inc. Vol. 1, is much like the first. It is chock full of great quilt projects, all of which are designed with using scraps in mind. There are patterns for 15 different quilts made by 15 different designers. It's also a visual feast with gorgeous photography by Nydia Kehnle.


I made my quilt, Argyle Medallion, last summer over the course of a few days. At the time, the hydrangeas in my yard and down my street were awash in pink, purple and blue blooms and that directly inspired the color palette. I think it would be striking in a monochromatic palette or using a true, anything goes scrappy vibe. The quilt uses a few different piecing techniques, a variety of shapes and is very fun to put together. I'm a fan of negative space and I think that this quilt has that in spades. Natalia Bonner quilted it and she did the most amazing job with zero direction from me. She made it sing!


There are so many wonderful quilts in this book that I am anxious to make. Each quilt specifies what kind of scraps it uses - squares or strips. I love this little bit - it makes digging through and sorting scraps for projects that much easier.


Scraps, Inc. Vol 2 is available to order in the Tauton Store. To make it even sweeter, save 30% through February 16th by entering the code Scraps30. I am also giving away a copy of the book here on the blog. To enter, leave me a comment and let me know what quilters inspire you with their use of scraps. I'll leave the giveaway open until Sunday, February 14 at 6:00 pm EST.

Want to see more? Be sure to check out the blog tour stops!

Monday, February 8

Amy Smart, Diary of a Quilter

Nydia Kehnle, Nydia Kehnle Design + Photography

Tuesday, February 9

Amy Friend, During Quiet Time

Alexandra Ledgerwood, Teaginny Designs

Wednesday, February 10

April Rosenthal, April Rosenthal - The {Studio} Blog

Dorie Schwarz, Tumbling Blocks

Thursday, February 11

Erin Harris, House on Hill Road

Janice Ryan, Better Off Thread

Friday, February 12

John Adams, Quilt Dad

Kari Vojtechovsky, Craft Happy

Saturday, February 13

Katie Blakesley, Swim Bike Quilt

Kati Spencer, From the Blue Chair

Sunday, February 14

Melissa Lunden, Lunden Designs

Allison Harris, Cluck Cluck Sew

Sherri McConnell, A Quilting Life  

Accuquilt Medallion Quilt - Borders 2 and 3

Border 3e

For my Accuquilt project last month, I started a medallion quilt. This month, I made it bigger by adding two more borders. I really like where this is heading. I have limited myself to fabrics that I have in my stash and I am always amazed at how creative I can be when I shop my studio instead of the fabric store!

If you are interested in making this project, you can read the specifics, along with the tutorial(s), over on the Accuquilt blog. I do love my GO! cutter, but if you don't have one, you can still make this quilt with a little math and figuring.

Marcia's Farm Quilt

Marcias quilt 2

My dear friend, Marcia, had a milestone birthday this past summer and I knew that the only thing I wanted to give her was a quilt. I had planned on a nice throw-sized quilt in blues and grays with a spot of yellow to be used for cuddling up on the couch. My plans were foiled, though, when a few weeks before her birthday, Marcia and her husband bought a farm. Maybe she'd want a quilt for the farm? A bed sized quilt? The answer was yes on all fronts.

Marcias quilt 5

Marcia went straight to work making a secret pinterest board of quilts that she liked. I added a few that I liked and, after a couple of days, I had a general plan. Squares. Saturated colors. Light gray. It took me awhile to come up with the exact design as I wanted the quilt to be something that reflected my style as well as her preferences. I let the ideas simmer and settled on a design that has structure even though it looks random and that was easy to piece and fun to sew.

With the exception of the light gray and the backing, all of the fabrics came from my stash. I had a fun time choosing which prints to use. I chose them in groups of four prints with some kind of connecting color scheme in each group. Each of the 36 groups was different, bringing the total number of prints to 144! Stash-busting! Jane helped me with some of the fabric selection. She has a wonderful eye for color and after choosing a bunch of the groupings on my own, I needed her artistic viewpoint to balance out my own color preferences (blue and green, anyone?!?).

Marcias quilt 4

The blocks were strip-pieced and then all mixed up and sewn back together. It wasn't particularly fast, but certainly more speedy than cutting 900 individual squares of fabric! And it was doable in chunks of time, which is the way I get most of my sewing completed. Once the blocks were finished and sewn into a quilt top, I added borders of the light gray to frame the entire top. For the quilting, I rented time on a long arm and free motioned a figure-eight-ish pattern across the entire quilt, using the squares as my guide. The backing is one of Carolyn Friedlander's widescreen prints and the binding is an Anna Maria Horner print from my stash.


After giving the quilt to Marcia just before Christmas, she and her daughter, Anna, took it to the farm and photographed it on site. It was so fun to have a stream of photos pop up one after another in a series of text messages. I loved making this quilt for her and I hope it keeps them warm and cozy on the farm.

Accuquilt Medallion Quilt

Medallion 11

I'm over on the Accuquilt blog this week with a new tutorial for the beginnings of a medallion quilt. Accuquilt has this new die system called the Qube that can be used with their GO! cutters. Essentially, the Qube contains a variety of mix and match dies to make larger blocks. It comes with a variety of block patterns to get you started and all the cutting mats you need. It's such a cool product!

As soon as I saw this product, I knew it could be used in so many ways beyond just individual blocks. Working with the 12" Qube, I have designed a medallion quilt. This month's tutorial includes the center medallion and the first border. Over the next two months, I'll add additional borders to end up with a throw sized quilt. Fun, right? Plus, there is a little mystery involved - I'm not giving away the whole design until the end!

I hope you will check out my Accuquilt Medallion quilt. Accuquilt provided the dies and cutters to me at no cost, but the designs and opinions about their products are all mine. I love how fast and accurate my GO! cutter is. Seriously.


Good Hair Day Blog Tour and Giveaway


(photo by Danielle Collins)

I am very excited to be one of today's stops on the Good Hair Day blog tour. This new fabric line by Kim Andersson for Windham Fabrics is absolutely adorable - bobby pins, hair bows, products and more! When Kim asked if I would like to make a quilt for her look book last year, I was incredibly flattered and very excited.


I love the saturated colors in this line, especially the blues, pinks and oranges. The prints are whimsical in a very sophisticated way and the coordinating cross-weave solids really made them sing. I made my quilt, Rinse and Repeat, over the course of a week last summer. To highlight the prints, I chose to make a grouping of quarter log cabin blocks laid out on point. The actual "logs" vary in width, giving the blocks more movement, and the quilt has five different quarter log cabin iterations.  Bonus: the peaks at the top and bottom reminded me of a hair comb without being a literal interpretation. The log cabins are sandwiched between two larger cuts of the red and white cross-weave. I just adore this fabric - it the most beautiful coral-pink and so, so soft. I think this gives the quilt a decidedly modern feel with a good nod to a traditional pattern.


(photo by Danielle Collins)

You can find the Good Hair Day fabrics in stores currently and I plan on releasing the pattern for Rinse and Repeat as soon as possible. I will definitely keep you updated on the progress as it happens.


Thanks to Windham Fabrics and Kim, I have one 5" charm pack of Good Hair Day to giveaway. The giveaway is open to everyone - US and International readers. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment on this post telling me what your first sewing project is for 2016. I will keep the comments open until Friday, January 15 at 4:00 pm EST. Be sure to stop by the other blogs on the tour to see more amazing projects from this great fabric line and for more chances to win fabric!

Good Hair Day Blog Hop
January 2016
Mon 11th:
Tue 12th:
Wed 13th:
Thursday 14th:
Friday 15th 
Sat 16th:
Darci Alexis -
Sun 17th:
Mon 18th: 
Pati Fried & Laura Nownes -
Tues 19th:

Hello 2016

2015 best nine by house on hill road

Happy New Year!

It hardly seems possible that we are a full six days into 2016, but we are. For some reason, it doesn't feel like a new year to me. I'm still cleaning up Christmas and the girls have just gone back to school. I had been looking forward to some quality time in the studio (I have plans! That I am excited about!), but the time has not materialized yet. Soon, I think. Actually, I know. I will make the time if I have to.

2015 was a strange year for me creativity-wise. I think it was a bit of a low valley instead of a high hill. I started the year off just having shelved a large project that had been consuming most of my creative time and energy. Last January, I found myself directionless and now, with the benefit of time, I can say that I was truly floundering. I didn't know what I wanted to do and, even if I had, I wasn't sure how to go about it. I gave myself permission to just do what spoke to me and, surprisingly, that was making quilts using kits and other people's patterns with whole fabric lines where I didn't have to make a single design decision. Those quilts were mostly donated and actually showed up on the blog (here, here and here). A couple of those remain unquilted and there are still some kits hanging around the studio. While I know some people look down on quilters that use kits or make something exactly as they see it in a book or on the cover of a pattern, I do not. There is a place for them. For me, having the decisions made for me allows my mind to rest and lets the ideas percolate. Going through the motions of cutting, sewing, pressing is familiar and satisfying even if I am not the one who put those fabrics together in that pattern in the first place. It's restful and I needed it.

Something shifted in the summer. I will thank my first mini quilt for that. All of the sudden it was not so daunting to design something, especially something so small! And from that little bit of kindling, a bigger fire started to grow. I made six large quilts of my own design in the second half of the year, plus two minis! Not too shabby, huh? I haven't blogged any of them, save the two minis, so I am going to start this year doing just that. I do not want to let them go undocumented. I love having a visual record of what I have made with all the details (that I tend to forget) about the project. Some will turn into patterns for sale. I've been slowly working on that this fall, but plan to ramp up my efforts with the new year. I also sewed a couple of skirts, some shirts and a dress. I began knitting again in September. It all feels right.

Some years I have big goals and plans, but I'm taking 2016 as it comes. My one tenet this year is to work hard: at life, at making, at creativity, at being a mom and wife, at being a friend, at being fully me. It'll probably involve a lot of quilts, some garments, knitting or hand sewing in the evenings, maybe some painting. I hope it will be filled with a lot of laughter, time with my family, cooking good food, reading good books, less driving, more walking. I plan on continuing my daily gratitude practice because it has brought an incredible amount of joy to my life the last couple of months. Or, really, made me see that the joy is there, but sometimes I just need to look.

I have a good feeling about this year. Let's do it. Onward!

Tree Farm Mini Quilt

Tree farm quilt by house on hill road

I haven't had much time to sew recently so I was pretty happy to string a few hours together last week to make this mini for our quilt guild's holiday swap. The quilts didn't have to be holiday-themed, and truthfully I think this could stay up all year, but I was feeling festive so here it is. All of the little trees were improv pieced. I grabbed a bunch of rectangular green scraps and some Kona snow and just went for it. If you would like to try this, here is a very small, kind of limited, photo tutorial. My quilt finished at just about 21'' square.

Tree farm quilt 3 by house on hill road

Cut your green pieces into rectangles and match each one up with a rectangle of your background fabric. Longer, skinnier background pieces will give you taller trees and shorter rectangles make fatter trees. Cut the background rectangle in half along the diagonal to yield two triangles. Arrange the triangles on the green fabric to get an idea of where they will be. Flip the first one over and sew it to the scrap right sides together. Trim the seam to 1/4'' and press towards the background fabric. Repeat with the other side. (Note: My method only works for a solid background as there is no wrong or right side. You could still do this with a print background, but you will need to more fabric to ensure that you have two triangles that point in opposite directions.

Tree farm quilt 4 by house on hill road

Trim the trees so that there is at least 1/4'' on each side of the bottom points and at the top. You can even out the height of the trees after the trunk is added by sewing extra background fabric to the top edge.

To make the trunks, sew a strip of brown fabric (7/8'' to 1 1/4'' wide by about 8" long) between two wider (about 3'' x 8") strips of background fabric. Press the seams towards the brown. Cut this into strips of different heights for trunks. For this quilt, I made two different strip sets and cut each into 6 pieces. Sew the trunks to the bottom edge of the trees and trim the sides.

Sew some strips of background fabric on each side and between the trees to act as spacers. I put four trees in each row and then sewed the rows together. You might want to add more background fabric along the top and bottom - I found it was nice to have some more negative space. Now make a quilt sandwich and quilt as desired - I went with unevenly spaced horizontal and vertical lines using my walking foot. Bind in your preferred method and admire your work.

Tree farm quilt 2 by house on hill road

I know the photos are limited, so if you have questions, please ask. I will answer in the comments for all to see.

Merry Christmas

Quick and Easy Holiday Coasters

Coasters cover

At this time of the year, fast and easy sewn gifts are my go-to. One of these items is a set of these super cute and simply constructed coasters. I can whip up a set of six in under an hour and they are perfect for fabric and batting scraps. With an assembly line going, a whole slew can be made in an afternoon. I'm over on the AccuQuilt blog today sharing a tutorial for how I made these. The tops are pieced with quarter square triangles and the bottoms are squares. While I could cut them with a rotary cutter and ruler, I love my GO! Cutter because it makes accurate cuts in no time. You can cut one set of six with one die and one pass through the machine! Who couldn't use a little more time at this time of the year?

You can find the tutorial here. If you make some, let me know. I'd love to see your version.

This December

December 5

This December is calm and bright. And merry. So merry!

If you have seen my posts recently on Instagram, you know that I am taking time to list the things I am grateful for everyday. Inspired by my dear friend, Emily, this gratitude practice was just what was I was missing. Taking a few minutes to review what I am thankful for each my day has been the best reflection for me. I hadn't realized just how much I missed taking a photo every day and saying a few words about it, like I did for 5 years on Flickr. Although the gratitude practice that I am doing now is different, I believe it fills the hole that my 365 projects left. I did not realize how much I missed it (and habit! I still miss habit). Life is hectic and busy and messy and lovely and wonderful and loving and energizing and I want to feel it all, love it all, live it all.

Among the many things I am grateful for is this blog and all of you who read it. I don't say it nearly often enough, but I do so appreciate the time it takes to stop here, read my words, and comment on my posts. I love sewing and knitting and making things, and having people to share it with has been a wonderful blessing in my life. I love knowing that like-minded people are out there, following along. Thank you. Truly, I am grateful for all of you and everything you do to support my endeavors.

I'm not signing off for the year, yet. I do have some posts planned, but I'm soaking in every moment of this holiday season and don't want to miss the opportunity to wish the best. Whatever holiday it is that you celebrate, I hope that it is full of love, kindness and gratitude.

Merry Everything, Happy Always, my friends!


Mini January Quilt

Mini january quilt by house on hill road

I've been wanting to play with the January Quilt block since, well, January when Liz Harvatine released it out into the world. When I saw it on the mosaic that my partner, Hilarie, had on her instagram feed for the Schnitzel and Boo mini swap, I decided to go for it. I felt doubly lucky that Hilarie's favorite colors are navy, aqua, green and gray - my favorites, too! - and that we share the same taste in fabric. It made making this mini extremely enjoyable.

The background fabric is by Alexia Abegg from her Paper Bandana line for Cotton and Steel. I stashed 6 yards of this back when it was released. (I have used it ALL. Insert sad emoji here.) It is the perfect neutral for the way I like to sew and I was thrilled to use it for this mini. It adds interest without competing with the prints. The other prints are a mix of scraps and stash. Many of the pieces are small so this block is wonderful for scraps and fussy cutting treasured bits of fabric. The piecing is pretty easy. Yes, they are curves, but they are gentle curves and with a little pinning and some deep breaths, you can do this. Slow and steady is my mantra with things like this, with slow being the key word as it is not a fast make. Still, I loved sewing it. My favorite part? The block finishes larger than necessary and then trimmed down to size so any wonkiness or the like is taken care of painlessly.

Mini january quilt detail by house on hill road

I would like to make this quilt again, albeit in a much larger size. That doesn't fit into my new sewing plan, which is to finish all the unfinished things laying around the studio. (A girl can dream!) I can just envision this made in Liberty prints, can't you? And I happen to have a stack of those waiting to be made into something fabulous. I know I would have to set out to make a block a day or some other such system to get it done because it takes time to do it right. Maybe in January? Seems fitting.

Quick Quilted Placemat Tutorial

IMG_2004 - Version 2

With the holidays fast approaching, I decided that I could use some new placemats to freshen up our table. Using scraps, a couple of fat quarters and my GO! Cutter, this one came together quickly. I love fast projects and bonus if they use scrap batting! I think that a set of four or six of these placemats would make a cute handmade gift this holiday season. Maybe make a variation on the flying geese theme with different layouts, but using all the same fabrics? Or use the same layout and vary the fabrics in your selected color palette? Get the full tutorial and how-to on on the Accuquilt blog where I am guest posting today.

I'd love to hear what you are making for gifts this holiday season. I can always use a couple more ideas (and a lot more time)!

One Day, One Quilt

Purebred quilt 3 by house on hill road

Last week I decided that enough was enough and I signed up for a long arm quilting certification class. I am extremely lucky to have Angela Huffman's studio, Quilted Joy, right in my home town. Beyond being an amazing quilter, she is a APQS dealer and has long arms for rent by the hour. Having considered buying a long arm for awhile now, I decided to try before I buy. Smart, no?

Purebred quilt by house on hill road

Purebred quilt 2 by house on hill road

I got the girls off to school and quickly whipped up a quilt top using a layer cake of Erin Michael's new line, Purebred, in a little over an hour. Armed with that and a quickly pieced backing from my stash, I arrived at the studio for my four hour class. After a quick tour of the studio, Amy showed me how to load my quilt on the frame and let me go at it. I didn't really have a plan and because I knew that we would keep the quilt at our house, I didn't worry about messing it up. I just started stitching flowers, hearts, little doodles. I wanted to play and to feel the machine. Let me tell you: IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!

Purebred quilt 5 by house on hill road

Prebred quilt 4 by house on hill road

A couple of hours and a few bobbins later, we took my quilt off of the machine. I was really excited to see that the quilting isn't horrible. It's far from perfect, but I am happy with my first attempt. The stitches show up so well on the back side. Of course, I can see every tiny misstep, but that's ok. I immediately drove to my local quilt shop and picked up a half yard of one of the prints for the binding. At home, I squared it up and bound it by machine. Yes, a quilt start to finish in one day! That was beyond satisfying.

I have already booked more rental time for next week. I have a half dozen tops that need quilting and I am going to try to finish them before I start any additional big projects. I know: famous last words.

Fen Pattern: A Review

As soon as Fancy Tiger Crafts debuted their newest pattern, Fen, I knew that I wanted to give it a try. I really like simple, woven shirts that I can pull over my head without any closures (Scout tee, I'm looking at you.). And the fact that it has a dress option? That sold me.


I bought the paper version of the pattern on the day it was released. I prefer paper over pdf for many reasons, some of which are: 1. I HATE taping computer paper together. All that trimming! I'd rather spend my time sewing; 2. There are three women in this house with adult sized bodies and we are all different sizes so it makes sense to invest in paper patterns that are easy to trace; 3. I have yet to find a good storage solution for taped together pdf's. With a paper pattern, I can fold it all up in its little envelope before I tuck it away. Win!

The pattern is wonderful. Beyond choosing whether to make a dress or a top, there are two neckline options (round and v-neck), two hem options and two sleeve lengths. The versatility is top notch. The instructions are well-written and very easy to follow. Especially clever is the way the neck binding is top-stitched into place using a double needle which, in turn, finishes the raw edges on the inside at the same time!

Fen 5

For my version, I chose to make a top out of this lovely Loominous Big Love plaid that I picked up at Craft South in June. I really thought I would save this fabric for a dress, but I am glad I used it for this top. It's a great transitional piece that I will wear a lot more this fall and through the winter into spring. It does wrinkle - I wore this all day before the photos were taken - but I can live with a little ironing in my life. I went with a rounded neck and the shirttail hem, both of which are just more "me" than the other choices. I lengthened the front and the back by 1" and it looks good. I do think another 1/2" would be even better - duly noted for the next one. I chose to add the optional sleeve and debated on how to make it look right with the scale of this plaid. I had a wild idea to cut it on the bias so that it would look deliberate when the plaid didn't match and I am happy with that choice. I love how it looks! Still, had it not worked out, I still had an extra 1/2 yard of fabric to cut the sleeve again. Got to love a good insurance policy!

Fen 3

Once I had all the pieces cut out, the sewing went smoothly and extremely FAST. I had the whole thing sewn up in about two hours and that was with changing to the double needle and back to the single and some fiddling to get the hem right. And, truthfully, the hem could be better, but I'm not pointing out what I think the issues are because I am probably the only one who sees them.

Fen 4

I made a size 12 and the fit is good. I could probably have graded out to a 14 at the hip and I might try that on another top. I don't think that would be necessary on the dress as the waistline is high enough that the 12 will be the correct size for my torso and the gathered skirt would be full enough in the hips. Someone on Instagram asked if I did a full bust adjustment and I didn't have to. I'm a full C, small D and I think there is just the right amount of ease. Much bigger and it would be very baggy under the arms.

Fen 2

I think that about covers it all. Questions? Hit me and I'll answer them in the comments for everyone's benefit. Also, has anyone else made the Fen? Let me know so I can take a look-see.