English Paper Piecing + Improvisational Piecing

Diamond Sparkle Wish

2018

70 x 90

EPP + Improv

This quilt is finished! I finished it a few months ago. Just in time- finished before I had my baby! For my 6 year old daughter. My second twin sized quit made for my kids beds. 2 done out of 5!

The English paper piecing purple section in the middle of the quilt began about 3 years ago. Many diamond purples in lots of purple shades. This quilt was always meant for my daughter who loves purple.

I had only done a little EPP and for some reason I used tracing paper because I thought that would be a good for weight and flexibility… I didn’t understand EPP and the reason for using a stiff paper. Use thicker paper than tracing paper! The points didn’t line up perfectly with the “soft” paper inside. I fudged them as I sewed them together. I worked on these diamonds off and on forever. While flying in planes or sitting in the passenger seat on long road trips, sitting in a hotel room… Any opportunity outside of the home when I had “nothing to do” I would work on these diamonds.

My English paper piecing to-go box.

I used a ladder stitch to stitch the diamonds together which takes longer than a whip stitch. I probably overdid it with the stitching but better now that it’s strong. Kids can be rough on things!

The purples were placed together with a lighter side and a darker side. I stared with a start in the middle and it grew from there. I designed the diamonds shape as I went. I stopped after it felt big enough.

Almost done.
For the improv part I arranged orange and peach strips on my felt design wall. It was tricky wrangling them. Long strips like to fall and roll down a wall!

Not easy basting on the floor at 9 months pregnant!

I placed the finished EPP piece onto the background, basted, then hand stitched around the edge. Next I machined top stitched around 1/8″ from the edge. Then turned everything over to the back and trimmed the orange background fabric close to the top stitching to reduce bulk.

For the quilting I echo quilted around the center diamond shape with a walking foot on my domestic machine. I used poly isocord thread for the quilting for its strength.

Better to get it done than wait for it to be perfect.

Minky for the backing and folded over for the binding. Clipped in place and machine sewed down.

Ta Da-

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Dairy Free Gluten Free Banana Nut Oatmeal Muffins

These muffins are super good. I saw them on the blog Stitchery Dickory Dock as a perfect pregnancy-craving muffins. Funny, I’ve been baking them also while pregnant and am now craving them at 35 weeks.

I’ve made them at least 5 times, each time experimenting and adapting the recipe for a dairy free version. I have two kids with dairy and soy intolerances. I’ve made the dairy version too but cut the sugar in half and it makes an excellent banana muffin. I looove baking with loads of butter, milk and yogurt and my other 2 kids love eating it but for my dairy free boys, I bake dairy free. It’s been a learning process. I want to share this recipe for those of you looking for a yummy dairy free (and gluten free) banana muffin.

This recipe blends the batter which is a fun change. I use a vitamix blender since my food processor is too small and discovered that blending only half the oats works better. My vitamix won’t hold the full amount of oats but also I think it bakes moister and chewier with half the oats not blended. I added more eggs to help thicken, heaping spoons of baking powder and soda because dairy free just seems to do well with more, used canned coconut cream to help with the consistency. It can be hard getting dairy free baking to have a nice satisfying texture. Coconut sugar is a nice sweetener that doesn’t feel as strong as cane sugar. One time I substituted cashew meal for the walnuts. They turned out great.

Moist. Chewey. Good shelf life if you make two batches. I think I’ve found the perfect combination.

DAIRY FREE/ GLUTEN FREE BANANA OATMEAL MUFFINS

4 very ripe Bananas

4 cups old fashion oatmeal- divided in half

1 can coconut cream (full fat) scoop out coconut cream and discard the liquid

1 1/4 cup dairy free milk (coconut, cashew, or your preferred dairy free milk)

6 eggs

2 Tbs coconut sugar

3 heaping tsp baking powder

1 heaping tsp baking soda

1 cup walnuts, shelled and in pieces

1 cup dairy free chocolate chips

*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Put 2 cups (half) oats and all the other ingredients except for the walnuts and chocolate chips into your good processor or large blender.

Blend very well.

Transfer to large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the oats. Mix by hand.

Mix in walnuts and chocolate.

*

Use muffin liners or heavily grease muffin pan. (I prefer liners)

Fill with batter all the way to the top.

Bake 12 minutes for Mini muffins.

Bake 15 minutes for regular muffins.

– Until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Polka Dot Minky Quilt

Polka Dots, 70″ x 90″

Prints. Curves. Stash.

I want to make quilts for all of the beds in my house and more. So many plans. I’ve had plans to sew a twin sized quilt for each of my kids. The first one, for my oldest, is finished. It feels great!

I gave myself three ground rules for this project:

*Start with a pattern.

*No buying any new quilting fabric!!! Use my stash. (I did buy minky for the back.)

*Use only prints.

I’m usually more of a solids person. I’d love to design my own prints someday on spoonflower. I have a collection of prints so I want to use them up! It’s probably not a huge stash for some but for me it feels like I need to use them and move on. This is only the third bed sized quilt I’ve made. I’ve made a handful of throw and baby quilts and really have so many more ideas for large bed sized quilts to use in my house.

I started buying fat quarters with polka dots or dots a few years ago and have accumulated a little stack for this quilt. Those were pulled from my stash first. I didn’t have enough polka dots for the design so florals were added to the mix because my daughter loves flowers.

My former modern quilt guild (In my old town.) had a guest quilter trunk show- Jessica from Sew Creative. She had a dot themed pattern, “Beaded Chains” and I thought it could be great for my polka dot quilt… it’s the first quilt pattern I’ve ever used. I’m not a pattern person but I thought I’d try. I ended up changing it quite a bit. Took out some lines, added others and changed details. I made mine more scrappy with an overall color theme. White background around the edges and darker yellow and pink background in the center. The circles were basically the opposite colors as the background. Also re-sized it to twin.

Curves were new to me. And. Challenging. I tended to go too fast and skipped the pinning. I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of blocks to sew and tried to speed it up. My pricing MO is more improvisational than churning out a stack of blocks. Some resulting curves were sloppy. My seam allowances could have been bigger and neater. I hope this quilt holds up in the wash! Next time I’ll be more careful sewing curves.

Since this is a quilt I want to be used by my daughter I chose minky for the back. My kids love those soft microfiber blankets for sleeping. I used thick poly batting. Haven’t used poly batting before but thought it will hold up well in the wash and with my kids.

For the quilting- simple strait lines with a walking foot.

The minky backing plus loft 4 poly batting is extra thick! Time will tell if it’s a good thickness or too much to sleep under. To avoid more bulk I did the self binding technique instead of my usual double fold binding. Also I wanted to save time. It worked out well. I sewed around the edge of the quilt sandwich first to hold everything in place and help secure the layers and my wonky piecing.

I cut 1/4 batting at they edge. Be careful you don’t cut the minky back. Then I cut 2 1/2 inches minky around the edge. I’d recommend leaving more minky next time. Maybe 3 1/2″.

Next I folded the minky over- 1/2 inch instead of 1/4″ is ideal with thicker fabric- then folded again to line up with edge of the quilt top. I straight stitched around 1/8″ from binding edge then zigzag stitched the edge.

My daughter has alway loved polka dots… I was hoping she still did at 7! The mix of dots and flowers was a success. She loves it! I love how this turned out. The white on white prints with bright yellows and pinks pop. Polka Dots!

Patterned Improv

Spring Is Coming

2017

57″ x 57″

I think this one was a breakthrough. My first quilt that feels “all me”.

Around March, 2017 an idea started forming in my head that became the center-spikey-circle block. Springtime was around the corner but not yet here. Grey days. Worn out ground soggy from melting snow. Trampled plant matter like vomit in the flower beds waiting to rot in warmer air. I was sick of winter. Done with it and ready for green. New daffodil shoots were forming down in the earth but not quite poking through. I imagined all of the little leaf shoots growing. Spikes coming up out of a globe.

Originally it was going to be just one block- a mini quilt for maybe a pillow. Slowly the design grew into a throw sized quilt for my home. I wanted a functional quilt big enough to curl up with on the couch in front of the TV.

The first center block forming.

I’m calling my process “patterned improv” because I drew up a rough pattern and improved the details. I really like how it turned out.

These blocks were detailed and labor intensive! Improv is not necessarily fast or easy. I had some ideas about improv quilting before I made this that were very different from my improv reality. I kept at it at night and during naptimes. Whenever I could carve out a few minutes of my day I did. Some weeks it would sit and wait for me, some weeks I got to it daily. While in the thick of this project i had a big surprise… pregnant! Due in the spring! Suddenly, “Spring” took on a while New meaning. I know that once a baby comes my sewing time will be gone for awhile. I had to finish this quilt and then get onto my other projects before nesting mode! A baby growing. Plants growing. It all fits into this quilt.

I finished it at the end of November 2017 in time to enter into Quiltcon… it was rejected. Ego blow! This was my first time submitting to quilt con. I didn’t realize the steep competition. Less than a quarter of entries got in. Honestly I thought I had a good chance. I was even thinking about going to quiltcon if my quilt got in. I thought it would probably get in and I would somehow make the trip happen. In hindsight maybe my quilt was too planned- not improvisational enough. Or, maybe too dark of a background, too symmetrical, too funky, not “mod” enough… whatever the judges said it doesn’t really matter in the end. I followed through with my plan and trusted my vision. Making the quiltcon deadline pushed me to finish before the holidays really ramped up so that at least was a huge help! I needed to finish this and I love finishing projects! Win. Win.

Rick Rack- Pompom Advent Calendar

This advent calendar could have been from my 80’s childhood. Rick Rac! The calendar has pockets for each day to hold mini Christmas ornaments. The tree has 24 buttons/ bells. For each day take an ornament out of its pocket and hang on the tree.

I found the idea on the blog “Today I Felt Crafty” @ http://todayifeltcrafty.blogspot.jp/2015/12/felt-christmas-advent-calendar.html?m=1 . She made a really nice felt advent calendar and I loved the idea.

I went with a wilder pompom/ gold theme. Have you ever read Amy Sedaris’s book I Like You? Check it out!

After working on a “serious” quilt for months and months this was so fun to make. A good project for my horde of sulky metallic thread. The gold ric rac was a yardsale score and is dated 1962!!!

I think I’ll have my kids make some quick ornaments for it this year and maybe next year I will make ornaments when I have more time before December.

If you make this, don’t sew the pockets shut. I folded the tops of the fabric strips down so I wouldn’t accidentally sew the tops closed.The pockets from above- cute little holders for the ornaments.When winding the metallic thread onto a bobbin, I’ve found using the top upright spool holder works best along with holding the thread with two fingers so while it unwinds off the spool it doesn’t tangle up. Go slow winding and go slow sewing with metallic thread. It’s tricky. Straiter lines are best.For the button/ bell placement I tried to stagger so the ornaments won’t hang over one another.

I used a 1/2″ wooden dowel to hang. Sew a sleeve and tie string around both ends. I wrapped the exposed ends in yarn and cut circles of felt to glue over the ends. I thought about painting the rod but this was faster.

These little wooden ornaments are perfect! A estate sale score. (I thought about making ornaments for this but I just don’t have time this year!)

You can make this in your own style, your own way. I considered tassels, and more rick rack and had other ideas but this is what I came up with in the end! It was really a fun project for me and we will use it every year. My kids love it already!

Hello You!

Hi,

I’m Julee and I’m starting a blog to show the things that I make.

Yep! Starting a new blog in 2017 while I think many people are leaving blogs in the dust for the shiny quick fixes like Instagram. Ok Ok, I am on instagram. It’s the only social media that I can handle. Pick your poison, right? I’ve found a lot of amazingly creative people there. Anyways. I had a blog years ago when I made and sold jewelry on Etsy. Since having kids that small venture stoped abruptly and sewing has slowly taken over my creative corner. I quilt. Improv quilting is great. I’m learning to sew garments. I also paint. Painting is my first love but that isn’t conducive with small children. I have 4 kids 7 and under with a 5th in the way. Yeah, they “keep me busy”. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that one!

Creativity keeps me sane. Welcome!

Me wearing a XL tee shirt that I altered into a maternity tee.