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Independence Day Quilt Pattern

At the beginning of the year, I had made a series of New Year's resolutions that were selected in order to increase my skills in quilting.  All of my life I had been mediocre at everything I tried, a jack of all trades, master of none.  But quilting has been the only hobby I actually stuck to longer than a year, and it's something I plan to master.  One of the ways in which I wanted to stretch my abilities was to write my own quilt pattern.  This would challenge my creativity, help me master the art of quilty math, and would be a pretty legit thing to have on my "resume".  So without further ado, here's "Independence Day."

I've always really admired flag quilts.  The variety and colors are beautiful, and the scrappy fabrics and long tradition of flag quilts gives you a feeling of historical continuity.  Looking at those quilts gives me a sense of national pride and connection that all of their creators must share.  Binge watching Netflix documentaries on the Civil War and the World Wars helps too.  

I wanted something quick and easy, so "Independence Day" is an over sized, modern take on the American flag.  The lines of top stitching are 3" apart.  I didn't want the quilting to distract from the pattern, and sometimes I find that are quilted with a tight pattern are stiff and not as comfy-snuggly as I like a quilt to be.  I thought a snuggly patriotic quilt was appropriate, it should feel like a hug from friends, family, summer nights, bare feet, fireflies, and clean sheets.  It should feel like home.

I think this beauty will make a nice addition to our fireworks viewing this year too!

I will say that I have a new found appreciation for pattern writing.  In the future I'll plan better instead of just diving right in with piecing and making it up as I go.  That's how I usually quilt, but I learned a lot about the importance of organization.  Thank you Robert Kaufman Fabrics for your Quilter's Friend QuiltCalc, you saved me from several headaches!

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I also have a new found respect for those bloggers who regularly create pdf downloads, they are way more involved in creating them than I had anticipated.  I'm sorry to all of those blogger's whose downloads I abused and underappreciated in the past.  

You can download the pattern HERE

M helped me take pictures and decided she was tired after about 3 pictures.  I had to take the rest while she took a nap that afternoon!

M helped me take pictures and decided she was tired after about 3 pictures.  I had to take the rest while she took a nap that afternoon!

Do you like what you see? Let me know in the comments bellow!

Happy Quilting!

- Rita

April/May Recap

Well I dropped the ball on my monthly report in April. I had meant to write the post, and the next thing I knew it was halfway through May! How time flies sometimes! 

Goose graduated preschool this month, and I promise that I didn't cry too much. How is it possible that my first born is going to be a kindergartner in August?!? M is no longer the shy little girl she used to be, those fabled Terrible Twos are in full swing, and Little Man cut 4 teeth! Handsomepants is also helping me revamp the laundry room by building a new surround for the utility sink. He's the best! 

But enough about the family, let's talk quilting! 

 

RESOLUTION: BLOGGING

The 2017 New Quilters Blog Hop ended 😭 It was hosted by name,name,and name, and was an absolute blast! I met so many wonderfully talented quilters out in the blogosphere. I also found many friends on Instagram (check them out for yourself), a platform that I'm relatively new to, and it immediately became my favorite social media site. I think my favorite part is being made jealous of everyone else's fabric and it keeps me motivated to create more.  If you're interested in seeing any of the other bloggers in my blog hop "hive" click here to see my introduction or just follow these links:

Samantha Dorn at Aqua Paisley Studio

Andrea Hokanson at Goofin' Off Around the Block

Emily Leachman at The Darling Dogwood

Vivian Gutierrez at Quilting With Vivian

 Nancy Bekedam at Grace and Peace Quilting

Kathy Bruckman at kathyskwiltsandmore

April Adams at JANDABendQuilts

Gail Sheppard at Quilting Gail

Amy Gerlich at AmyScrapSpot

Nicole Hannah at Handwrought Quilts

Barbara Bremner at Crazy Red Quilts

Gina Smith at Quilts and Cakes

Kara Zevchik at Sunshine Kwilts

Sharon Denney Parcel at Yellow Cat Quilt Designs

Becca Fenstermaker at Pretty Piney

Gwen Sager at Tillalili

Wendy Tuma at Pieceful Thoughts of My Quilting Life

Overall in April and May I did alright with keeping up my blogging, I hope you all weren't too let down, although I realized that I did way more quilting than blogging! If you missed any of my previous posts, here's the links:

M's Bunny Backpack

The Picnic Quilt

 

RESOLUTION: FINISH 12 WIPS

I kind of moved backwards on this resolution. I did make progress on finishing some WIPs like A&H's Wedding Quilt and the Baby Cathedral Window Quilt.  But I did add some more WIPs to the pile, but I suppose that's the curse of a quilters, your work is never done and what a happy curse it is!

 

RESOLUTION: JOIN 3 QALS

The Quilters Planner QAL has been plugging along and fingers crossed I keep up the pace! I  plan on posting all blocks in their appropriate times, all 52 of them! 

April's Blocks

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May's Blocks

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I also kicked some serious butt on the Vintage Farmer Girls blocks, I have one block from the book left to make, and about 5 block spaces left in the layout I have planned. Lori Holt has some more blocks she's designed on her blog, and I'm still deciding which ones I want to incorporate into my quilt.

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The Blue Bird Flour fabric I'm thinking of incorporating somehow to give the quilt a more "authentic" feel  from when feed sacks were more commonly used for quilting fabric.

I am very excited about the Vintage Farmer Girl quilt, this one is mine and I've never made myself a quilt before. I'm thinking about a pink sashing and boarder with a dark binding, maybe black or blue, I don't know, and I still need to decide on a backing too. I think that means I need to go fabric shopping!

Happy Quilting!

- Rita

A Backpack For M

M is about 2 1/2 years younger than Goose and she is not the typical middle child.  She's sweet and affectionate, a bit shy, and thinks her older sister is the coolest thing in the world. Everything Goose does, M has to try as well.  That includes wearing a backpack when we drop off and pick up Goose from preschool.  M started playing with Goose's old backpack, and it was so heartbreaking to watch her beam with pride while marching around the house because she was wearing a backpack. A backpack with a broken zipper.  A broken zipper that allowed every stuffed animal and sippy cup to fall out every 5 steps.  So I decided to take matter's into my own hands.

M needed her own functionig) backpack.

I would be lying if I said that the idea of a bunny backpack was my original idea.  I've had this post from Sew Much Ado on my Pinterest saved for a while and I decided to give the idea a whirl.  I didn't follow the pattern from Sew Much Ado, I used Gooses' broken backpack as my template, but the idea for the bunny ears and tail is strait from Sew Much Ado.

This is Goose's old backpack (I guess you can guess her real name!) Since she's in preschool, she didn't need a solid backpack because she's only toting around a change of cloths and some finger paintings.  I found this cutie in the dollar section at Target (with matching lunch box!)  About halfway through school this year, the zipper broke so we upgraded to a more durable model.  When we did that, M refused to allow the old backpack to be thrown away.  I put it in the trash and later that night I found M wearing it! (It has been washed, FYI)

If you're interested in copying how I made a bunny backpack, grab these supplies and follow along!  

  • an old backpack
  • seam ripper
  • outer fabric
  • tail & ear fabric
  • stuffing or scrap batting
  • paper
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • a heavy duty sewing machine needle
  • lots of strait pins!

A few points about construction:  I used the fabric of the old backpack as the lining of the bunny backpack.  The amount of fabric needed for the outer layer of your backpack depends on the old backpack you're using or the template you create yourself, I only needed about 1/5 of a yard, but I used a small template.  Also, the batting that I used was fusible, so even when I say to pin the batting, there are no pins in the pictures, sorry about that.


STEP 1: Disassemble 

Grab that seam ripper and start ripping!  deconstruct your backpack into (almost) all of it's individual components, excepting the zippers.  These pieces are now the lining of your bunny backpack, and I'll refer to these pieces a lining from here on out.

{ NOT PICTURED - If you want your backpack to hold it's shape, trace the pieces onto paper. Remember to subtract 1/4" from every side of the shape you've traced to allow for seam allowance.  Use the paper templates to cut out the batting, use a basting stitch to line up the batting with your fabric.}

Take the lining pieces for the front, back, and sides of your backpack and pin them wrong side down to the wrong side of your outer fabric.  Sew them together, using a 1/4" seam.  (Maybe it's just the quilter in me that uses a 1/4" seam, if this isn't necessary then ignore me or let me know!) You'll finish the seams later on once the backpack is pieced together.

Here's the batting basted to fabric (I'm terrible at basting so I used the widest strait stitch I could), with a 1/4" seam allowance

 

STEP 2: Zippers

My upside down zipper!

My upside down zipper!

One of the great things about some zippers is that the pull tab can be turned over and the teeth still work properly, and that's what I did with this project.  As you can see in the "before" picture at the top of this post, the old backpack had a little front pocket with a zipper.  To make the bunny backpack work, I removed the pull tab from the little pocket zipper, and put it on upside down on the large zipper.  This was awesome because that meant I didn't have to completely deconstruct the zipper.

To add the outer fabric to the zipper, cut an over sized rectangle of fabric and pressed a strait seam along the length of the fabric.  Pin the fabric right side up along the zipper and sew.  If you have a zipper foot, awesome, use it!  If not, just do as I do and use the outer rim of the foot of your sewing machine as a guide, adjust your stitching as far left as possible, and sew, removing the pins as you go.  

Take 2 small rectangles of outer fabric and press a hem along the length of the rectangles.  Sew the rectangles over each end of the zipper panel, and trim to match the width of the zipper panel when the zipper is closed. 

 

STEP 3: Accessorize

Time to make those bunny ears and a cotton tail! 

To make the ears, fold over quilt batting and cut out an ear shape so that you have two matching ears.  

Layer the outer fabric on the fabric you chose for the ears and tail, right side to right side, and pin the ear shaped batting on top.  Sew all three layers together along the sides and bottom of the ear, leaving room at the top.

Cut the fabric about 1/4" away from the edge of the batting.  Snip the seam allowance around the curve of the bottom of the ear, being careful not to cut your stitches.  Turn the ear inside out, and trim away any extra fabric at the top to about 1/2".

To make the tail, take your tail fabric and cut out a large circle.  Stitch around the edge of the circle, just like you would to make a yoyo, and pull the tread through enough to gather the fabric but still leaving a small whole.  Stuff the little pocket with either stuffing or scrap batting so that the tail is firm.  Sorry I forgot to take pictures of this step!

Set the tail and ears aside for a little bit.

 

STEP 4: Strapping

Take the back panel of your backpack and the straps that you removed when you disassembled the old backpack in Step 1.  Straiten the straps, extend them to their fullest length, and pin the ends of the straps to the the bottom of the panel an even distance from the outer edges.  Sew the ends of the straps to the panel.  

Sorry for the potato quality!

Sorry for the potato quality!

I placed the stitches just under 1/4" so that when the backpack is assembled, the stitches don't accidentally become visible along the seam.  I also sewed over the straps three times just to make sure they can stand up to the demands of a two year old.

Once the bottom of the straps have been attached, find the middle of the strap and stitch a loop at the top of the back panel.  To make the loop, line up two sides of the strap an even distance from the very middle of the length of the strap, and stitch across.  I placed the stitches about 1 1/2" below the seam allowance at the top of the panel.  I also stitched over the straps 3 times.

The back panel is done.

To make the front panel, grab those bunny ears!  Pin the ears an even distance away from the sides of the front panel, and stitch them into place along the seam allowance.  Trim any extra fabric from the ears flush with the seam allowance of the front panel.

Also keep in mind, that depending on how long you made your bunny ears, there should be enough space between your ears for the bunny tail to fit.  You might want to lay out the tail when pinning the ears in place you know how everything will fit before you start stitching.  Don't sew on the tail just yet though, it will get in the way of your sewing machine when you start assemble the panels of the backpack.

 
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STEP 5: ASSEMBLE!

(in captain america's voice)

This is the fun part!  Take the zipper panel and mark the middle with a pin.  Then take the front panel, fold it in half, and mark the fold with a pin.  Line up the pins of the zipper panel and front panel, and pin the two panels together.  Knowing where the centers of the two panels are is important to know so that you don't end up with a lop sided zipper.

Pin the zipper panel around the edge of the front panel.  About 2" from the end of the zipper panel, start sew the panels together, using a 1/4" seam allowance.  

Leave about 5" total unsewn at the ends of the zipper panel.  Lay the two ends flat over each other to get an idea of where they will fit against one another, and pin together.  If you need to adjust the length, fold down the outer and lining fabrics before sewing the two ends of the zipper panel together.  

Then re-lay the zipper panel flat and finish sewing onto the front panel.  Remember to use a couple of lock stitches to ensure the stitches keep.

The top of M's backpack has rounded corners, and if you did the same, don't skimp on the pinning around those curves!  At the bottom where the corners are square, I used the same techniques for mitered corners on quilt bindings.

To assemble the back panel, adjust the straps to their shortest length and pin out of the way if necessary.  Since the front panel and back panel are the same size, there should be no problem sizing the zipper panel to the back panel.  

Turn the assembled zipper and front panels inside out and open the zipper.  Pin the inside out panel to the back panel, making sure that the strap are "inside" the backpack.  Stitch all around the back panel using a 1/4" seam allowance. Turn the backpack right side out for a quality check and adjust any mistakes you might have made (but you haven't because you're awesome!)

Turn the backpack inside out again and finish off the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch to prevent fraying. Then turn the backpack right side out again.

Viola! You are the proud owner of a new bunny backpack!

___

I had attempted to take some nice pictures of the bunny backpack in action when I took the girls and my sister on a hike to Red Rocks.  M wouldn't hold still, so most of the pictures ended up way too blurry to be used on the blog.  But I decided to add some shots of the girls so you can tell me how cute my children are!

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M had to have her own phone, keys, a water bottle, and her granola bars in her backpack while we hiked.  I'm actually pretty impressed with how far she walked before getting too tired with it. 

The water bottle pulled the backpack down, so you can't see it perfectly in this picture, and M's pants are the same color pink as the tail.

I just failed at this whole staging-your-pictures thing.

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Happy Quilting!

- Rita

A Quilt For The Girls

Weather in Denver has been awesome these last couple of weeks.  Spring cleaning is in full swing at my house, windows open to clear out winter dust, and the girls practically live out on our patio.  Trips to the park and frolics in the sprinkler had become a regular occurrence along with picnics for lunch, and it's April!  

I measured the snow at 6:30 am when I took the dogs out, and it snowed all day long!

I measured the snow at 6:30 am when I took the dogs out, and it snowed all day long!

AND THEN THIS HAPPENED!!! 

Mother nature played a horrible, terrible, cruel joke and dumped 13" of accumulated snow on us in less than 24 hours! I don't know how much total accumulation we would have had if snow hadn't melted on the ground for a couple of hours before it started sticking, but I am very glad I didn't transfer my seedling into my garden beds yet! I'm also kind of amazed at how much of the WI hardiness in me has been lost since moving to CO.  I used to think that negative temperatures were cold, now I need a sweatshirt for 60 degrees!

I'm such a wimp...

But all of this snow means that the girls have to wait a while before they can try out the picnic quilt I made for them.  Goose has been all about picnics lately.  Last week we had a late dinner by candle light out in the back yard because she set "the table" outside on some beach towels, complete with plates, cups, silverware, and a dandelion for each of us.  I figured I should probably make an actual quilt meant to be used outside.  

I had a couple of charm packs and a layercake of "Apricot &Persimmon" fabric by Riley Blake for Moda.  The pattern I chose was a four-patch design, quick enough to finish the whole quilt in a day, and simple enough to showcase the fabric patterns.  

The backing is a re-purposed crib mattress cover.  For some reason we have two crib mattress, so I'm cannibalizing the one: the cover for this quilt, and the batting for some upcoming pillows. I chose to use this material because I wanted something waterproof on the bottom of the picnic quilt, and because I couldn't bring myself to use pretty fabric on a quilt that was going to get grass and mud stains all over the bottom of it.

The mattress cover was surprisingly difficult to sew.  For some reason the feed dogs on my machine just slipped on the material and I ended up having to pull the quilt through with my left hand while guiding with my right hand.  Needless to say, the top stitching is not the straightest and there was a lot more seam ripping and restitching than I would like to admit.  I got so frustrated with this quilt that I don't even care about any puckering that occurred.  I also cheated on the binding a bit and used the binding from the mattress. Waste not, want not!

But I am pretty pleased with how things turned out, and I'm planning on getting plenty of use out of this quilt this summer.  Littleton has a "Music in the Park" series every summer and it makes a nice date night for Handsomepants and myself when we watch the girls go nuts on the nearby playground and listen to new music once a week. But for now, I only wish spring would come back!

Happy quilting!

- Rita

PS. Spring did come back over the couple of days that I took to write this post, so we went to a beach on a local creek!

2017 New Quilter's Blog Hop Introduction!

Oh boy, the New Quilter's Blog Hop has officially started again!  I followed along a little bit last year and jumped at the chance to participate this year when I saw signups.  I'v learned lots already just by going through critiques (shout out to SnowyDayQuilting and InquiringQuilter!) and I'm excited to learn even more!  I've been blogging for about 2 years, but I signed up for the blog hop because I'm ready to treat this blog and my approach to quilting seriously.

So without any further ado, let me introduce myself!

I'm a twenty-something stay at home mom with three kiddos, (Goose is 4, M is 2, and Little Man is 6 months).  I've been married to my awesome husband for 7 years this July!  After two weeks of dating I knew I was going to marry him and then the jerk broke up with me, but that's another story.  

Lunch at Qudoba last week! M, Goose, Little Man, and Handsomepants

Lunch at Qudoba last week! M, Goose, Little Man, and Handsomepants

Handsomepants is a financial reporter for the State of Colorado and I pursued more interesting topics in college like Medieval History and International Conflict Management, but those degrees don't really pay the bills...  so besides raising the kids and quilting I have a couple side hustles: I'm a children's karate instructor, a Norwex consultant, and a theology teacher at church, my quilting circle meets Tuesday nights, and I make a fool of myself every week at my Friday night soccer league.  Life is busy, and that's the way I like it!  Some other things about me:

  • Jane Austen is my favorite author (There was a time when I tried to convince Handsomepants that we should name all of our kids after her characters.)
  • I'm a candy addict
  • I'm not terrible at snowboarding 
  • I love to play board games
  • I believe in Big Foot 
  • My favorite color is gray

I took my first quilting class 7 years ago.  My mother-in-law and sister-in-law have both quilted since they were little, and I wanted something that we could share in common.  I bought a $20 sewing machine meant for paper and scrap booking, signed up for a 3 hour class, and I was hooked.  Quilting has been the only hobby I have stuck with longer than 6 months and it has consumed more hours of my life than I can count.  I decided to convert my quilting to blogging for a couple of reasons, but you can click here for my very first every blog post that covers it all.

What I'm Working On:

Aside from a couple of quilt-a-longs that I'm currently participating in, I've been working on a number of quilts.  I need to work on finishing one quilt before I start another one.  

I thought I knew what my quilting style was, but now I'm not so sure.  I suppose my tastes lean towards traditional, but there is also something to be said for minimal quilts!  Modern quilts are hit or miss with me depending on their design.  I almost exclusively make baby or lap sized quilts too.  My Instagram has more updates on my quilting, but here's a taste of what I've been up to lately.

This is my first finish of the year, it's a baby quilt for a coworker in Handsomepant's office.  I picked out a few fabrics from some charm packs of Apricot & Persimmon by Carina Gardner for Riley Blake Designs.  This is probably one of my favorite baby quilts.  Even though I make a lot of baby quilts, I stay away from designs and patterns that scream "BABY!"  I prefer baby quilts that baby can grow with.

Goose asked me if she could have a new quilt to go with her new bed, (the girls got bunk beds when Little Man was born) and it's not like I'm going to turn down an excuse to start a new quilt!  She helped me search Pinterest for a pattern she liked, and we found this one here.  I call it the Half Moon quilt, and it was my first ever attempt at curves, I was a little surprised at how easy the technique was!  I used Cotton & Steele fabrics from a 50 fat quarter box I found on super clearance from Craftsy a while ago.  I haven't decided on a binding for it, but I'm leaning towards red.

 This fish scale quilt is for Handsomepants.  Around Christmas he asked me why I had never made him his own quilt since I've made them for the kids, for family members, for our friends kids, but not for him.  Blue was an obvious choice since it's his favorite color, but the pattern was a little more difficult.  I find that a lot of quilt patterns feel feminine, so I went with something simple and geometric.  I'm thinking this will make a nice Father's Day gift!

This cathedral window quilt (awesome tutorial from Missouri Star here) is for one of my very best friends.  She's having her second baby in June, a girl this time!  Her son was born 11 hours after M, in the same hospital, and they were three doors down the hallway, partay in the maternity ward!  His baby quilt is the red and white air plane quilt in my gallery!

I'm planning on finishing this quilt with a flannel backing and no batting.  There are seams in this pattern that are very thick, and I think those seams plus  batting layers would seriously test the strength of my sewing machine.

 

Leanne, the host of my blog hive suggested finishing our first post with 4 items, so here they are:

  1. Blogging Tip: Use Canva.  It's easy to navigate and free to use.  You can edit photos, add watermarks, and create banners for all your blogging and social media needs.
  2. Quilting Tip: Measure twice, cut once!  It's an oldie but a goodie.  If you're new to quilting, pay attention to accurate measuring and cutting.  These basics will give you more accurate results, and you're more likely to be pleased with your finished products when there are minimal mistakes.
  3. Blogging/Quilting Question for the Readers:  What do you look for in a quilting blog (community, how to's, quiltspiration?)  What would the prefect tutorial look like?
  4. Dream Vacation Spot: When I was younger I would have said someplace remote and off the beaten path like Vietnam or Chad.  But now that I have children, I want an all inclusive resort someplace tropical.  I don't want to have to worry about anything except my sunscreen and flight times.  To sum it up, I would want to be comatose on a beach while the kids are at Grandmas.

I also added the lineup for the blog hop in case anyone wanted to snoop around.  

Here's the links to some of the leaders of the Blog Hop this year:

Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl

Leanne at She Can Quilt

Beth at Cooking Up Quilts

April 10

Samantha Dorn at Aqua Paisley Studio

Andrea Hokanson at Goofin' Off Around the Block

Emily Leachman at The Darling Dogwood

Vivian Gutierrez at Quilting With Vivian

April 17

 Nancy Bekedam at Grace and Peace Quilting

Kathy Bruckman at kathyskwiltsandmore

April Adams at JANDABendQuilts

Gail Sheppard at Quilting Gail

May 1

Amy Gerlich at AmyScrapSpot

Nicole Hannah at Handwrought Quilts

Barbara Bremner at Crazy Red Quilts

Gina Smith at Quilts and Cakes

Kara Zevchik at Sunshine Kwilts

May 8

Sharon Denney Parcel at Yellow Cat Quilt Designs

Becca Fenstermaker at Pretty Piney

Gwen Sager at Tillalili

Wendy Tuma at Pieceful Thoughts of My Quilting Life

 

I'm looking forward to your comments and getting to know everyone!

Happy Quilting!

- Rita