Baby Boy Quilt – Navy and Green Mixed Texture Plaid

A good friend had a precious baby boy in February. The baby shower was in early December so I wanted to rebel and go off the registry to make a baby quilt. The theme of the nursery is alligators, navy blue, and green as the parents are using the Pottery Barn Kids Madras collection for the crib bedding. The Madras bedding includes various plaid pattern as well as the navy and green color scheme and alligators.

I was inspired at the fabric store by a yellow alligator flannel and a blue & green plaid fleece I found. Since they didn’t quite go together, the only solution was to make two quilts!  The description of the first is listed below with the second soon to follow.

Front Plaid Quild

Front of finished plaid baby quilt

Quilt #1: Plaid mixed-texture quilt
Once I had the plaid fleece picked out, I found matching minky and flannel to make a quilt with a variety of textures. I didn’t have a real game plan for the design of the quilt except for wanting basic rectangles and squares and as much variety as possible. I only bought a 1/3 yd of each minky so that set the basis for 5 long stripes based on the overall size I wanted. I also wanted to use as much of the plaid as possible since that was what really tied everything together.

Back Plaid Quilt

Back of finished plaid baby quilt

In the end, I pieced 5 panels the long length of the quilt and assembled it. I chose to make thin stripes of interspersed flannel and minky as a type of centerpiece. I used basic navy cotton with stripes made of flannel to make a simple geometric pattern to have some interest on the back. Even though the minky and fleece are pretty heavy, I used a 100% cotton natural loft batting. For the quilting, I used a green/spring green/yellow variegated thread from Coats & Clark. I stitched in the ditch for each of the main vertical seams and then did chevron shaped stripes using the five panels.

Plaid Quilt

Plaid quilt ready for its close up

This was my first time working with minky and there were some challenges. I’m drafting a separate post with some tips and tricks for working with minky – stay tuned.

- Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Modern Hexagon Baby Quilt – Part Deux

Modern Hexagon quilt made for baby Daphne Pearl

Modern Hexagon quilt made for baby Daphne Pearl

My cousin and his wife were recently expecting a baby girl, Daphne Pearl. The nursery colors were bright purple, yellow, and green. I thought this was a great opportunity to practice my quilt making and hopefully provide a bright and fun surface for some future tummy time for Miss Daphne.

I liked my first tryst with modern hexagons so much that I decided on a repeat performance. This time I used the nursery colors with the same concept of 4 different fabrics per color. Since I chose fewer rows of hexagons, I added bright and colorful borders to frame the quilt.

Although I could not attend the baby shower, I hope Daphne and her parents like it.

- Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Paving Stones for Über Beginners

I am admittedly not a green thumb or very good with most things yard and garden related. I did yard work as a kid under duress but am now learning to appreciate all things green and natural since I bought a house. Included in my yard and garden category of work is really anything on my property that doesn’t involve sipping a sangria in my Adirondack.

As my blog tagline indicates, living in a big city brings along with it a few hurdles for DIY. In my case – space. I have a three-story house with good square footage, but a very small footprint. My builder generously left no room for anything but the house on my plot, which limits the mount of grass to mow (only 1200 sq ft!), but also severely limits any outdoor storage possibilities. Case in point, and the focus of this post, nowhere to store my lovely City of Houston issued trash and recycling cans.

Unlike some of my neighbors, I am against the idea of storing them in my garage – gross. Being a corner unit, I had only one option. The picture below shows my dilemma.

Before picture of paver project

How do I get my cans in between our houses?

The only feasible solution was to take out the bush and store my cans between our houses. With only a few inches to spare between downspouts and hose bibs, it was going to be tight. Another challenge was the uneven drop off of the driveway. This would require beginner hardscaping! I had professionals do the heavy lifting on my patio – which turned out great – and figured I could handle his small project.

After taking out the bush, the challenge was to create a gentle slope of dirt that I could compact enough to support rolling my cans up and down. Since the area over which I had to make the transition was small, the gentle slope couldn’t be that gentle after all.

After shaping the base with a manual compactor, I sprinkled baking soda on the dirt to prevent weeds for growing. Then, I laid down my Lowe’s pavers in two rows. I adjusted as I went and they fit pretty well. Finally, I added sand to fill in the cracks between the pads and hopefully add some stability to the ramp. It’s not pretty, but I’m not as uncomfortable at the idea of hardscaping anymore.

Completed paver project

Success! Only one plant had to be sacrificed.


Modern Hexagon Baby Quilt

Hexagon QuiltI am slowly getting back to my sewing and quilting roots and enjoying it along the way. I learned the basics of sewing and quilting at a very early age, but took a 10 year hiatus while I was finishing school.

The first quilt I wanted to make was for my best friends beautiful new baby boy. I decided when she first told me she was expecting, but only finally got around to it. Luckily, the youngster was only about 3 months old when I finished it, that isn’t too bad, right?

I knew I wanted to do something modern and I was instantly draw to a design from KnottyGnome Crafts that was featured as a Moda Bake Shop recipe. I loved the bright colors and geometric designs. I had fun picking out the fabrics and settled on bright baby boy colors of blue, turquoise, green, orange, and yellow. To add some neutrals, I decided on shades of black and gray for every other stripe with bright white triangles in between.

Front of completed  hexagon Baby my completed baby boy quilt

Front of my completed with repeating rows of colorful and neutral black and gray hexagons

I followed the Knotty Gnomes instructions except for a few modifications. I made the quilt larger, with 1 extra hexagon wide and 1 additional row of hexagons. I planned out the colors and made sure the rows of bright color had some variety of positioning to make it less repetitive.

For each of the 6 colors – black, gray, blue, turquoise, green, orange, and yellow, I chose 4 fabrics. The hexagons were made from 6 triangles, with 2 fabrics repeating. I cut out all of the triangles and pieced the quilt in rows. I made each row, then assembled each pair of rows to make the hexagons. The difficulty here is to make sure the points match pretty well across the whole quilt and there are lots of 6 point connections. From my scraps I pieced together the back in a modern colorful design.

I quilted this with my even feed foot in straight lines following the hexagon pattern. I sewed in the middle of each row of triangles, creating an overall design of triangular intersecting lines creating additional triangles. I bound the edges simply in gray binding. Overall it turned out fairly well, although I think it may have been a bit too big in the end for a baby quilt. Not too bad for my return back to the world of quilting.

Back of my completed quilt with scrappy, random lines and color blocking

Back of my completed quilt with scrappy, random lines and color blocking

-Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Tutorial: Simple Yarn-Wrapped Letters

Yarn Letter Tutorial

HoustonDIY’s Yarn-Wrapped Letter Tutorial

Pinterest is full of great examples of yarn wrapped wreaths and letters. These are simple, quick, customizable, and beautiful additions to your entry, kitchen, office, bedroom, kids room, or any part your home. I thought I would try my hand at this technique. I’m definitely not inventing anything new, but want to show you that this really is quick and easy as everyone says.

I had bought my initials in lowercase letters from the Paper Source years ago. I’ve been waiting to find something fun to do with them and the recent inspiration from Pinterest directed me.

Supplies Needed:
Letters, cardboard or chipboard (available at Joann’s, Michaels, Paper Source)
Yarn, any weight or texture
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Acrylic paint (optional)

1. (Optional) Paint the letters. I painted my letters with acrylic paint first so I could choose a fun color that was going show through any gaps in the yarn rather than the brown paper color. I painted 2 coats of white and then 2 coats for my turquoise.

2. Make a Plan. Plan how to wrap each letter. Depending on the letters you have and their style – especially whether the font is serif or sans-serif – you will need to think about how your wrapping should go to cover everything. Think about the layers of yarn and make sure to cover the ends first before a final wrap of everything.

Yarn Letters in Progress

Yarn letters in progress – wrap the ends to ensure everything is covered

3. Get wrapping! This can be a bit tedious but wrap away until you’ve covered each letter. Try to be as smooth and orderly as you can to get an even finish. Use hot glue to secure the ends. I used hot glue to secure any areas that were shifting around my serif font edges.

- try using variegated yarn or multiple colors of yarn either wrapped together of in layers to create a unique look
- Embellish your letters with felt flowers, buttons, or ribbon to personalize your project

Yarn Letter Finished

Completed yarn letters – easy and quick!

- Stephanie, Houston DIY

Tutorial: Play kitchen oven mitts and pot holders

DIY Tutorial: Play Kitchen Oven Mitts

DIY Tutorial: Play Kitchen Oven Mitts

I have two adorable nieces under 5 years old. In an attempt to foster and support their creativity, I wanted to make something for them this past Christmas rather than just buying something from the big box stores. My nieces love to ‘play kitchen’ with play food, a play kitchen set-up and lots of dishes, tea sets, and pots and pans. I decided to add to their kitchen stash with child-sized oven mitts and hot pads. Warning: these are only for play time and are not oven or heat safe – just for imaginary food preparation.

Supplies needed:
Sewing machine with basic sewing supplies (scissors, thread, etc.)
Scraps of two coordinating fabrics (<1/4 yd each)
Scrap batting (medium or high loft preferred)
Double fold binding (scraps, store bought or handmade)

1.  Draw a template.  Draw a template from scratch for the oven mitt outline onto printer or craft paper. I used a full size oven mitt as reference and tried to scale it down to about toddler size. My completed template is about 8 inches tall and 6.5 inches wide, including seam allowance.  Remember, it’s just for fun so don’t worry about the shape too much.

2.  Cut out all the pieces.  Cut out 2 oven mitt shapes from each of the two fabrics and 2 pieces from batting (2 x fabric #1, 2 x fabric #2, 2 x batting = 6 total pieces per mitt). For each of the fabrics, make sure to cut out a ‘right’ and a ‘left’ mitt by turning over the template before cutting out the second. If you are making a pair of mitts, you’ll need twice the number of pieces (12 total pieces). Instructions that follow are for a single mitt.

Oven mitt pattern and assembly

Oven mitt pattern and assembly

3.  Quilt the pieces.  Next, create 2 sandwiches (‘left’ and ‘right’) from fabric #1 lying right side down, then the batting piece on top of that, then fabric #2 on top, right side up.  Make sure your sandwiches of fabric – batting – fabric have right sides out.  Next, using an even feed foot of you have one, quilt these sandwiches however you like.  I just quilted a grid of straight lines for simplicity.  After quilting, sew around the edge of each sandwich with a serger to bind and finish any uneven edges. If you don’t have serger, trim the edges of the sandwiches if there was any slipping during quilting and sew a seam 1/8 inch from the edge around each sandwich to keep everything together.  (For more advanced sewers, you can make a sandwich from a square at least 6 inches tall x 10 inches wide, quilt, cut out the two sides of the mitt, and serge the edges)

4.  Assemble the mitt.  Decide which fabric you want on the outside of the mitts and make sure then are facing inside for this step.  Stack the two quilted pieces with wrong sides out. Sew a 1/4 inch seam around the mitt, starting and ending on either side of the mitt opening, leaving the opening unsewn.

5.  Bind the bottom edge.  The final step is binding the bottom edge of the mitt. This can be challenging since the opening is quite small. I recommend applying one edge of the binding to the outside of the mitt (when it’s inside out) with the raw edges of the binding aligned with the raw edge of the mitt. After sewing, turn mitt inside out. Fold over binding to the outside (right side) of the mitt and top stitch binding down around opening.  I added a loop to mimic a real mitt.

I followed the same technique to make the play pot holders. I created a single quilt sandwich about 5 inches square and bound the edge. It’s that easy!

Finished play kitchen oven mitt and pot holders

Finished play kitchen oven mitt and pot holders

- Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Tutorial: Silhouette Cameo Fabric Cover

Silouette Cameo Cover

DIY Tutorial: How to make a Silhouette Cameo Cover

I am happy to be a member of the Houston Modern Quilt Guild.  We recently had a Denyse Schmidt fabric giveaway and I decided to use my fat eighths and fat quarters to make a cover for my Silhouette Cameo.  The colors were outside of my usual “cool colors only” rule, but I really like the blend of grey, red, and orange in just the right combinations.

Supplies Needed:
Sewing machine
General Sewing supplies (thread, scissors, seam ripper, etc.)
Fabric for outside and lining of cover, <0.5 yards of each
Premade binding tape to match

1.  (Optional)  Piece patchwork design for main body and sides.  I wanted to use as many of the fabrics as possible, so I decided to piece the main body of the cover in a modified chevron pattern by cutting and assembling 2″ x 4″ (finished) rectangles.  I chose the order of fabrics I wanted to create my pattern and cut out 10 rectangles each 2.5″ x 4.5″ from each fabric.  I arranged the pieces to make the modified chevron as seen in the photo below.  Then, I assembled the piece using as much chain piecing as possible.  Based on the size of my Cameo, I needed a main piece made from 12 or 13 rows of fabric with 9 to 10 pieces per row.  If you’re not piecing the main piece, just jump to the next step.

Pieced Cameo Cover Patchwork

Pieced chevron pattern made from Denyse Schmidt fabrics

2.  Choose your fabrics.  Choose a fabric for the outside and inside of the cover.  You’ll need an main body and two side pieces for both the outside and lining.  For my cover, I pieced the outside main body (step 1) and used some scraps from that to piece the outside side pieces. For the lining, I pieced together some of the fat eights I had remaining to make a really scrappy overall look.

3.  Create your patter pieces.  The main body is made from a ~15 inch by 21.5 inch rectangle, including 0.5 inch seam allowance.  Cut out a pattern piece from printer paper if you are patchwork piecing the main body to make it easier to center the design you want.  If you making a solid cover, simply cut a rectangle of the needed size from your fabric.  For the side piece, start with a rectangle that is 7.25 inches by 5.5 inches cut out of printer paper.  Looking at the rectangle with the 7.25 inch length oriented from left to right, make a mark 3.75 inch up on the left side (mark A) and 1.5 inch up on the right side (mark B).  On the top, make a mark 2.25 inch from the left side (mark C).  Connect the mark A and C and cut the pattern, removing a triangle in the upper left corner of the rectangle.  Connect mark C and B with a concave curved line mimicking the slope of the front of your Cameo.  This is a gentle curve that when cut away with produce a pattern piece that matches the side of your Cameo, including 0.5 inch seam allowance.

4.  Cut out your pieces.  Cut two pieces of the main body shape and four pieces of the side shape.  Depending on your design, make sure you cut a “left” and “right” of the fabric you want for both the outside and lining fabric.  Sandwich the main body piece with right sides out and quilt a design of your choosing with a even feed foot, if you have one.  I didn’t include any batting since my cover is primarily a dust cover and will keep it’s shape either way.  Repeat for the two side pieces, making sure right sides are out.

5.  Assemble the cover.  With right sides together, pin the left side piece to the left edge of the main body piece.  Start pinning at the back of the cover, easing the pieces together around the curve.  There may be extra fabric at the front edge.  Mimic this seam on the right edge, attaching the right side piece starting from the back of the cover.  If there is extra fabric on the front edge, trim the fabric edge straight across.  For an enhanced look, I included black piping in these two seams.

6.  Bind the edge to finish.  Starting in the middle of the back edge, apply premade binding to the raw edge around the bottom of the cover using whatever technique you prefer.  I like using a binding foot for this type of application that has few twists and turns.  After binding, your cover is ready to use!

Finished Cameo Cover

Finished Cameo Cover

Finished Cameo Cover, inside view

Finished Cameo Cover, inside view

- Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Houston MQG Festival Modern Meetup Blog Hop

The Houston Modern Quilt Guild is hosting a meetup during the International Quilt Festival here in Houston for all quilters interested in the modern quilting movement!! There will be swag bags for the first 50 people who sign in!! There will also be 17 awesome door prizes given away with prizes from Cloud 9 Fabrics, Aurifil, Jennifer Paganelli from Sis Boom, Fat Quarter Shop, Intrepid Thread, Modern Yardage, and many more!!!
When: Saturday, November 2, 2013
Time: 8-10pm
Where: Hilton Americas Lobby Bar
Look for the Houston Modern Quilt Guild Signage!!
Join us on all of the blogs on the blog hop:
Becca Bryan – Bryan House Quilts
Sally Keller – Sally’s Angelworks
Hilary Smith - Young Texan Mama
Patty Sloniger - Beck and Lundy
Amy Campbell-Ryan - House of Bad Cats
Tammy Blackburn - Karamat Sews
Cathy Winter - Winter Wanderings
Even more importantly, join us at the Meetup!! :)
Thank you so much to our sponsors for this event!  Check out some of the amazing giveaways!
HMQG Door Prizes

HMQG Door Prizes

Giveaways from SisBoom

Giveaways from SisBoom

Giveaways from Intrepid Thread

Giveaways from Intrepid Thread

Giveaways from Cloud9

Giveaways from Cloud9

Giveaways from Aurifil

Giveaways from Aurifil

2012 HMQG Meetup

2012 HMQG Meetup

Homemade Pegboard – Get Organized!

As part of my ongoing effort to get organized, I’ve been wanting to make a pegboard for my garage for a long time.  I finally had some time recently and I think it turned out pretty well.  This is a very basic woodworking project.  I didn’t use any power tools except for a drill and just hand sawed a few pieces.  It’s straightforward and an easy way to organize a garage, craft room, sewing room, or game room.  I made mine 2′ x 4′, but there are larger pegboard options available and your local home improvement store.  The directions would be the same, except for the changing dimensions.

Supplies Needed:

*  One 2′ x 4′ piece of hardwood pegboard (home improvement store, ~$15)
*  Two 2″ x 2″ x 8′ furring strips
—-  Cut one in half into two 4′ lengths
—-  Cut second in half; then cut one piece in half again to get two 2′ lengths (you’ll have an extra 4′ piece)
*  15 – 20″ long piece of scrap 1″ x 4″ or similar wood to make a french pleat
*  Box of 1.5″ wood screws (you’ll need ~20-30)
*  Power drill
*  Basic supplies – tape measure, level, pencil, etc.

The overall plan for the pegboard is to create a frame of furring around the outer edge behind the pegboard material.  The furring strips will be attached to the board and to each other to create a strong frame with the pegboard that is held away from the wall a sufficient amount to allow you to hang hooks through the holes without your wall getting in the way.

To start the construction, place the furring strips in a rectangle on the floor or a sturdy surface with the pegboard on top.  The assembly should look as it would on the wall.  For each furring strip, carefully align it to make sure everything is straight and aligned with the pegboard and drive screws from the front of the pegboard, through a hole and into the furring strip.  The head of the screw should not fit through the hole and should secure it to the frame of furring strips.  I put about 4 to 6 screws on each of the 4 sides.  Once all of the furring strips is attached to the pegboard, flip over the board and secure the furring strips to each other at the corners for added rigidity.

At this point, you should have your pegboard essentially assembled.  If you want to spray paint the whole thing, now is the time.  (I kept this one au naturel since it was for the garage, but am considering a white one for my craft room.  That’s for another weekend…)

The next step is to hang the pegboard on your wall of choice.  Feel free to hang this however you’d like, but I’d recommend a french pleat.  The whole assembly has some weight to it, so you’ll need something stronger than hooks or nails.  The french pleat is a good solution because it provides a hardy hanging surface.  This technique is frequently used hang headboards when they do not attach to the bed frame.

You can find a lot of tutorials in the blogosphere about french pleats.  They are pretty simple if you have a good picture.  Here’s my attempt of a descriptive photo:

Intro to a French Cleat

HoustonDIY’s introduction to a French Cleat

The key is find a piece of scrap wood that is ~1 – 1.5″ thick.  depending on the shape and weight of your pegboard, you can either create a long french cleat across the whole length of the piece you’re hanging, or you can use two pieces on each edge like I did.  I found a 1″ x ~18″ piece of scrap in my garage.  I first cut it in half on the short length to create two 1″ x ~9″ pieces.  Then, using a miter box or table saw, cut a 45 degree angle cut through the shorter length of each piece.  If you are using one large cleat, cut a 45 degree cut down the entire length of the piece, the long way.

Then, the method will be to attach one piece that you just cut to the wall and the other, matching piece attaches to your pegboard.  The key is to make sure the piece attached to the wall is oriented with the cut, angled edge upward and with the higher side away from the wall.  This creates a triangle shaped ridge at the top of the piece of wood on each side of where the peg board will go (or along the entire length, if using one large cleat).  Then, attached the matching piece of wood to your pegboard oriented downward with the longer side away from the pegboard.  Then, you can easily hang the pegboard by setting it onto of your french cleat.  This makes the item very secure but easy to hang and remove.  Make sure to attach the wall cleat to a stud with 2 to 4 screws.  If using a long cleat, attach at every stud with at least 2 screws.

I found making this DIY pegboard was an easy and fun way to get organized.  The key was to figure out what size I wanted and how to hang it.  Once I mastered the french cleat, and with some rigorous measuring to make sure it would be level, my pegboard was wonderful and put to use right away.  You can also cut the peg board to make the personalized pegboard that fits your space.  Happy DIY-ing!

DIY Pegboard

DIY pegboard proudly displayed in my garage


Handy Paint Chips – Decorating Tip

When decorating a new place or redecorating your humble abode, sometimes deciding on paint colors is the hardest part.  Once you’ve finally made the leap and committed to wall colors, the last thing you want is your furniture, curtains, rugs, accessories, and everything else not to match.

I got frustrated with not knowing how to match the blue-gray in my guest room.  Although I have the original paint chips from Sherwin Williams, I think having the other 4 colors on the strip is distracting and there is never a large enough swatch to make real comparisons.  I decided to take my decorating game to the next level by making my own swatches.

I created swatches by painting tongue depressors with all my paint colors (and a few paint samples I had bought during my quest for the perfect wall colors).  First, I wrote the name and color number on each stick with ball point pen.  Then, I painted each side and let them dry.  I also stained a tongue depressor with a gray stain that I recently used on a project (post to come…).  Once they were all dry, my amazing swatch collection is ready.

Paint chips freshly painted with all the wall colors of my house

Paint chips freshly painted with all the wall colors of my house

The revelation in this project was using the perfect container – a plastic container that the packets for 2-qt crystal light comes in!  It is the perfect size for these sticks and there is room for fabric swatches or other inspiration items that I may need while shopping.

Paint Chips in Bottle

The paint chips in the convenient bottle, ready for a decorating adventure!

Happy decorating!