Pat Sloan's Bird Song Fabric Tour


Pat Sloan's Fabric Tour is this week and I was lucky enough to be chosen to make a project with her new collection of Bird Song from Benartex. The collection has a woodsy element and colors I decorate with ... plus the motifs have that boho look that I love. I decided to cut up the panel to make a pillow ... for several reasons. I really can never get enough pillows around the house ... and ... I have a little girl in my life who feels the same way! She uses them to put all of the dolls and stuffies down for naps when she visits me. When she saw Pat's fabric for the first time she said "It's so pretty, Gamma!" and I had to agree. I can't wait to show her. Keep reading and I'll show you how I made it.


I was drawn to the square sections because they had a lot of detail. I planned to embroider over the top of some of them to give my pillow texture. I chose to use one of the squares and the strips of floral on either side of the main design.


I also chose the large floral for two borders and the pink and gold stripe for my cheater binding. I liked the pieces that were in the pink range of fabric so that's what I pulled. They were so vibrant!


The margins between the panel pieces were 3/4". I divided that in half to equal 3/8" and that's the measurement I used to cut the pieces from the panel. The reason I did that is because I was going to sew with a 1/4" seam allowance but wanted a little bit of the cream background to show to create a visual space around the pieces. It's hard to sew a seam perfectly so this gave me a smidge of room to make it look good. 



I cut the sides of the square and also the top and bottom of the floral in this manner.



I cut the floral design from the main panel piece. I had to use both of them on the panel because they weren't long enough. I squared the ends of both strips and then cut them to 10 7/8" ... they are going on either side of the first panel piece I cut. You should measure your own piece before you cut them though.



Sew them on either side of the panel piece using a 1/4" seam allowance. You'll see that a little of the background shows along this piece and that's what you want. When you're done sewing, press away from the sashing.


Now it's time to cut the large floral and birds for the borders. The borders will go along the bottom and the left side only, giving the pillow an asymmetrical look. The fabric is directional so you need to cut carefully. I wanted to include the birds in my border so I fussy cut them. To do that, I cut the borders 6" wide and then trimmed them down to the size I needed ... yes it's wasteful but you can use the scraps later. I cut the bottom border first because it's sewn on first. The design is cut horizontally. My measurements were 4 3/4 x 10 3/8". Double check your measurements!! For the left side I cut it 4 3/4 x 15" ... but I did that after I sewed on the bottom border to make sure it was the right size. Measure twice cut once, remember? Both borders are sewn with a 1/4" seam allowance and pressed away from the center.



The final step is adding the faux binding ... my favorite way of putting an edge on a pillow! Cut 2 - 2 x 15" and sew to the top and bottom with a 1/4" seam allowance and press away from the center. Then cut 2 - 2 x 17 1/2" and sew to the remaining two sides like you did the first ones. Give the pillow top a good pressing, using a fabric finish if you wish. Cut a piece of cotton batting a few inches larger and layer the pillow top over it, smoothing it out and pinning in a few places.


Now you're ready for the fun part ... stitching! I have a nice collection of Aurifil floss and that's what I chose to use. I used two strands of floss and a #9 embroidery needle. Most of the stitches I used are basic ones ... running stitch, backstitch, French knots, Xs ... just simple ones that wouldn't require then to be perfect. Mostly I did this to give the pillow texture and with the cotton batting, I had a bit of a quilted look, too.


I used a running stitch to stitch down the center of the panel's tan line, and then did the same thing along the seam of the two larger borders. It helped to keep the pillow top from shifting and to stay smooth. One of the nice things about using batting too is that it's easier to stuff and lets you hide your knots and thread easily. My backside is always a mess!



When I was done embroidering, I carefully pressed the top and trimmed the cotton batting even with the front. Next I chose a fabric for the back of the pillow ... I'd suggest using 3/4 of a yard so you enough to work with. I cut the backing the same size as the front and pinned all of the edges. I sewed around all the sides with 1/2" seam allowance. If you can't see that 1/2" mark on your machine very well, use a piece of washi tape or painters tape on your machine to guide you. Next, I carefully cut a 3-4" slit in the center of the back fabric ... don't cut through all the layers! You'll be using this slit to turn and stuff your pillow. Turn the pillow right side out through the opening and press the edges, using a pin or large needle along the seam line to get them smooth.


Using a large needle and two strands of floss, stitch a running stitch along the seam of the binding. Go through all layers. Hide your knots inside so they don't show on the front or back. Stuff your pillow as firmly as you like with cotton batting. I find it's less springy than poly batting and gives the pillow some heft. When you're done stuffing, stitch the opening closed. To make it look neater, fuse a piece of scrap fabric over the cut and whip stitch the edges with one strand of floss.

Ta-da! You're done!! Now you can enjoy your pillow and look for your next project to make from Bird Song by looking at the list of others on the tour. You can find the list on Pat's blog. Have fun making things with this adorable line of fabric!


Oh ... I almost forgot! You can win a layer cake of Bird Song from Pat by answering this question ... how many decorative pillows do you have in your home? I don't even think I can count that high! We'll be selecting a winner later ... if you live outside of the US you'll get a prize of Aurifil thread instead. Good luck!


Thank you everyone for your great comments on my pillow and how many you have in your home. We've selected a winner for the fabric bundle and that person will be getting an email soon from Pat. I've closed the comments now but you can read them all if you choose ... there were so many!

Happy quilting everyone!








I'm in love with our Be Mine banner exchange!

Be Mine banner 14

In Winter ... especially THIS Winter ... I love that Valentine's Day breaks up the season. Who cares if the groundhog sees his shadow ... for me it's all about pink and red and white and glitter! I loved it as a kid when it was time to make valentines to exchange at school. I'm sure mom didn't though ... remember the chunky glitter we used to use? It went everywhere! Now that I have to clean up after myself, I'm a little more conservative in how much I use ... plus I've switched up to that snobby fine glitter that glistens like snow. So pretty!

At the turn of the year, Pat Sloan and I were chit chatting and she brought up a harvest banner exchange I had done a number of years ago. And of course, our thoughts immediately went to Valentine's Day! It didn't take long to decide on a managable word and then I went off to pick four more friends to join us. I chose two from the east coast, two from the west coast, and two of us from the middle. The idea of our packages criss crossing the country as we mailed banners to each other amuzed me!

The way this worked is that our banners were all the same size, and each of us was assigned a letter to make for so that they spelled out B-E-M-I-N-E. We each made six ... one to keep ... five to share.

Sherri Falls from This and That   had the B. She's from on the other side of the Twin Cities here in Minnesota. We never see each other!

Pat Sloan from Pat Sloan & Co  had an E. Pat is from near Washington DC. We scheme a lot.

Suzanne Zingg from Strawberry Patches Quilt Shop had the M. Suzanne owns a darling quilt shop in Bakersfield, California that I love.

Pam Vierra-McGinnis from Pam Kitty Morning had the I. Pam lives near San Franscisco but has strong ties to Minnesota so we consider her one of us. And she drinks coffee each morning on her blog. Her coffee cups are darling!

Eileen Hull had the N. Eileen is a designer in the paper industry but I especially love her  because she designs for Sizzix ... and you know how I love to die cut! I've personally contributed to Eileen's pocket money over the years with the purchase of her dies. Eileen and Pat live in the same town!

And I had the other E.

Click on our links above and we'll all have something to say about our banners, and you'll get a pattern for the letter we each had ... BECAUSE ... we know you're going to want to gather your friends to do a swap, too!! Read along for more instructions.

Be Mine banner 12

In order for them all to be the same size, we had to start with the same pattern. Take a piece of paper and draw a line that's 6" long. Find the center of the line ... 3" ... measure down 8 1/2"  from there and make a dot. Draw a line from the dot to each corner of the 6" line to form the sides of a triangle. There's your banner! You can also find a pattern here ... Download Be Mine banner pattern.

The only other conditions we had were that we would stay in the traditional Valentine's Day colors and that we would make a hole in the corners and attach ribbons or fibers so they could tie to each other. They could be made from fabric, paper, or a combination of both.

Be Mine banner 13

I used fabric for the front of my banner and the E. The back of my banner is cute scrapbook paper. I fused my banner fabric, cut out the banner shape, and then fused it to the paper.

Be Mine banner 2

I used my 1/4" foot to stitch along the cut edges. When you sew thru paper one thing you should do is increase your stitch length a bit. If it's too small it could rip later. I used my OLFA rotary cutter to trim off the paper after so it looked nice and straight.

Be mine banner 9

I put fusible web on the back of my letters, too. Remember ... when you do that you need to reverse the letter! I've already done that for you on my pattern and I placed it on the banner too so you could see where it should go. After they were fused in place, I headed back to my sewing machine and stitched in the center of the letters ... I followed the curves of the letter so it echoed the shape.

Be Mine banner 3

I love crepe paper so I die cut three layers of white and then set my stitches to BIG on my machine to gather them up. If you don't have crepe paper, you can use tissue paper, or lace, or fabric. No rules here!

Be mine banner 6

When the crepe paper was gathered tightly, I lined it up with the top edge of my banner and used big paper clips to hold it in place. And yes ... those are some of the clips we made at our Pinterest Party on New Years Day. So handy! I layed a piece of pink rick rack over the gathering line to cover it up and I sewed through all of the layers.

Be mine banner 7

My banner was dressed up with layers of hearts made from glittery paper and a little bit of bling in the center. I put another tiny heart on the E. I used my Crop-A-Dile to punch holes in the corners to thread my fibers through for ties. Then I bagged them up and headed to the postie ... and then waited. It was exciting to get fun mail for a change ... I'd open each one up and lay them out and it was a lot like playing Wheel of Fortune! "I'd like to buy an M, please."

The most amazing thing was that even though we were all working on our own and not coordinating them, our banners look great when they're tied together! We had such a good time that who knows ... maybe there'll be more banners in our future. Find a group of friends and play along ... it's such a nice way to get yourself through Winter!!

Be mine banner 8


Aurifil Designer Christmas Blog Hop ~ God Jul Tomte

Aurifil blog hop logo #2

Well here we are already ... at the last week of the 2012 Aurifil Designer Blog Hop. I hope you've enjoyed all of the stitchings and are filling your tree with new ornaments!  Sarah ... Bari J ... and me ... we're the last of the designers ... you can find the complete list and photos on the Aurifil Buzz.

I've been stuck on Scandinavian things forever ... probably becaue of where I live in Minnesota. There are as many Dala Horses as there are white bears in White Bear Lake.

I grew up knowing how to make Swedish Coffee ... even though there was nothing Swedish about our family.

Lucia altered
My first project published in a magazine was this painted Lucia. I love the idea of St Lucia Day and am trying to decide if I want to get up early enough to attend the Lucia program at the Gammelgarden Museum on December 9th. So because I'm enthralled with everything Scandinavian it seemed natural that my ornament would turn out to be a tomte!

Aurifil God Jul Tomte stitching
I drew out my little tomte and got to work. It was very fun picking just the right Aurifil threads from my pack ... and then making tiny stitches because of all the small detail. It's hard to look away from it now that it's completed ... and I know you'll feel the same way when you stitch yours! Download Aurifil Rosebud's Cottage pattern right here. Have fun with it! And don't forget to leave a comment on my blog and each of the other blogs in order to be entered into the prizes at the end.

From all of us at the Cottage to you and yours ... God Jul ... Merry Christmas!

Aurifil God Jul Tomte 2

January Aurifil project ... Snowbird ... behind the scenes!

Snowbird block
Hopefully by now you've been over to Aurifil Thread's blog and have downloaded by Snowbird block. I loved making this ... so much, in fact, that I have a second started! I cannot wait to see what the other designers have in mind for their blocks. There are some talented gals with thread and needles in this group!

A tip on printing your patterns ... the size of the design you'll be tracing should be 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" ... that's measuring from the S to the beak on the bird. If it's way off, you might want to either adjust your printing configurations or reduce or enlarge a bit after you print a copy. The center of the block after the sashing finishes at 6" so you need to be sure the stitching is in proportion.

You've probably wondered how we all picked thread colors ... it's not like we live near each other after all! It started with getting a pack of Layer Cakes from Moda ... we were sent the Sassy line to work with. I was delighted to see it had a lot of teal colors because I knew what I wanted my block to look like ... kind of frosty! We're using fabrics from the line to sash around our blocks and then the rest will be for other components of the wall hanging. Sassy is pretty new ... I bet your local quilt shop has some! Our background fabric is creamy colored so all of my threads really showed up well.

The question that always comes up at the store is how to get your pattern on to your fabric. It's so easy but you do need a few tools. Painter's tape is a great friend ... tape your pattern to your fabric on the backside after you center it ... then tape it in a few places on the front to hold it in place. It makes it pretty portable. I don't use a light box most of the time ... I'm kinda lazy that way ... but if I'm having trouble seeing through the fabric, I like to place a white piece of paper under the pattern and that really makes the design show up. If you don't have a light box you can use a window ... and if it's at night think about taping it to your computer or tv screen in a blank mode. As far as what to trace with ... I like to use a Papermate mechanical pencil or the new Frixion pens ... they iron out when you're done. I don't trace every element ... French knots or the slanting stitches that fill in the branch and words look so much better if you free hand them. Try it!

I'm sort of weird when it comes to the back of my embroidery pieces. I like them to look nice and neat. Most of the time I stitch with Quilter's Dream Select batting on the back ... I like how it gives a little bit of a quilty look to my stitches. It's really thin so by the time you're done you can still sew and batt a quilt without issues. For this piece they asked that we not use anything behind our work ... had to be extra neat so no threads showed on the front! I knotted the thread behind a stitch once or twice to hold them tight ... really important when you do those French Knots because you don't want them to pull out. We are using Aurifil's 12 wt thread for the projects ... it's like using two strands of floss. It rises above the surface a tiny bit as you stitch which looks pretty great! This was my first time using it and I have to say I'm impressed with how nice it looks and how easy it was to work with. There are a million colors to choose from ... so beautiful!

The bulk of my stitching project is stitched with a back stitch ... it's my go-to for most things because it's easy to learn. French Knots take a tiny bit of practice but aren't that hard to learn ... and the slant stitches for filling in the branches and words ... piece of cake! I taught myself to stitch using books ... my favorite is the Coats and Clark one ... I have three. Look for them at estate sales! But with the internet you can easily find instructions. My favorite are the lessons here ... or here on Thread n' Needle. Practice in the margin if it's new to you!

Hooping is a personal thing! For this project I did ... when I put batting behind, most of the time I don't. If you use a hoop don't forget ... unhoop it when you're done working on your project! Those hoop lines are hard to iron out ... not that I'd know or anything. I used an 8" hoop and cut my stitching fabric 11" x 11".

I hope you really enjoy the Aurifl project this year! My block is six inches ... some of the others are smaller ... it could easily be a night of stitching with your friends. We're having a sew and stitch on January 21 if you live in the area ... I'll teach you first hand all of my tricks! If you live somewhere else, ask your quilt shop owner if you can meet at her place once a month.

I'm working on an additional project with my block ... check back over the weekend to see if it's done. And don't forget to circle the first Thurday of February so you can see what my pal Sherri Falls from This and That has for you!

If you want a thread kit, email me at [email protected] and I'll add you my the list. We'll have them in a few weeks. You can keep up with all the fun on Facebook. Let me know what you think!


One Christmas for the memory book!

  North Pole 3

Well here it is ... the first day of the Cross Country Christmas blog hop and Gudrun has a wonderful quilt-as-you-go project for you. Maybe you'll be able to start crossing some names off your gift list?

At our home here in  White Bear Lake, the holidays begin when we pull out the Dept 56 houses! Bob's mom gave me the first piece shortly after we were married and our collection has grown quite a bit. We don't always put out all them but we do put out the North Pole village each year. IMGP1701
The fall Teddy was a year and a half old, my mom died. Around Thanksgiving, my dad gave us kids some money from one of her accounts. Part of me knew I should put it in the bank but the other part of me wanted to spend it on something really fun. I didn't want it to be just anything ... something that would remind me of my mom and all the special Christmases she had given us.

Dept 56 had introduced the North Pole series earlier in the year. Bachman's was doing some special pricing for purchasing the whole group. Yike ... I was so torn ... three little kids at home and I should be practical ... but boy that set was sooooo cute! My best friend, Fay, came up with the perfect solution that satisfied both needs. Off I went (by myself) to the store!


With those three boys it was easiest for us to go to the early Mass at St Mary's on Christmas Eve. Kids in the car and I had to quick run back into the house ... with Bob tapping his fingers on the steering wheel waiting. 

While we were in church trying to keep the boys in line and still maintain a Christmasy feeling, Fay and her family let themselves into our house ... carefully unpacked all of the North Pole pieces ... layed out the scene on a cabinet ... lit them up ... turned on the tree lights ... and then took off for their own church service. Did I mention she vacumned before they left?IMGP1700

When we pulled back in the drive Bob just couldn't believe that 'someone' forgot to unplug the Christmas tree before we left. Ha ... the tree was on just so I could see the faces of the boys as they spied the North Pole village on the table. Shock. And awe. And magic! The elves that often visited in those weeks before Christmas really outdid themselves. I'll tell ya ... I get weepy just remembering!!Neither Fay or I realized what a priceless gift her idea would give me. Of course, the fact that I pulled something off without Bob knowing is also part of the fun. Not easy when you consider that everything from Bachman's was packed in purple bags. 

We've put the village out every year since then ... adding to it a little bit as more pieces were introduced. I can still see the magic in Teddy's eyes ...  standing on a chair to peek inside the windows of the workshop ... Santa's elves really were inside building toys you know!

Shortly after the following Christmas,  Fay died from cancer, right before her 40th birthday. She was such a great pal ... suggesting I put part of the money from my mom toward the North Pole set and the rest in my savings account for a rainy day. And then offering to pull off the surprise for my family at the busiest time of the year. I think of her ... and my mom ... often but especially each time I remember that Christmas!

 North Pole 5

Cross Country Christmas ... a quilt designer blog hop just in time for holiday gift making!

 Logo cross country christmas copy

I'm so excited to be part of another designer blog hop ... this one devoted completely to making gifts for the holidays! Just like our Minnesota designer blog hop in June, this one will feature six quilt designers from the land of 10,000 lakes and six more from other fun places across the country. You're in for a treat because there's a wide variety of styles with this group!

Below is the list of designers for the hop ... check them out ahead of time just to see what they're up to. Then on November 9th, the fun begins! You'll find a terrific project to make on the blog of the 'designer of the day'. On the rest of our blogs each day, we'll all be talking about our Christmas memories, things we do to decorate, recipes of dishes our families expect to see on the table ... just all of the stuff that makes Christmas meaningful to each of us.

Nov 9 - Gudrun of GE Designs from Minnesota leads us off

Nov 10 - Sandy from Pieces of My Heart out of Iowa

Nov 11 - Terry of Atkinson Designs ... also from Minnesota

Nov 12 - Pat Sloan ... she's from Virginia 

Nov 13 - Heather of Anka's Treasures ... another treasure from Minnesota

Nov 14 - Pam from Pam Kitty Morning ... she's from California but has really strong ties to Minnesota

Nov 15 - Kari of New Leaf Stitches ... she's in western Minnesota

Nov 16 - Terri from Whimsicals in Indiana

Nov 17 - Sherri of This and That ... another Minnesota home girl

Nov 18 - Carrie from Miss Rosie's Quilt Company ... I know she's from someplace warm

Nov 19 - yikes ... ME ... very obviously from Minnesota

Nov 20 - Linda  ... from New Jersey just outside of NYC

See? Isn't this a cool list? I can't wait to check out what everyone comes up with.

But the fun begins a little bit early. Come back to view our photo's on Wednesday. See if you can match up the little girl photos with the adults we've all become! I've seen a few of the pix ... this could be an impossible task!

Whether your holidays are spent in the cold like us here in Minnesota ... or the warmth like our friends 'down under' ... I know you'll find something on the Cross Country Christmas Blog Hop that will inspire your gift giving ... either during the holidays or for special gifts through out the year. Are you ready?