Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Scrappy Tree Mug Rug Tutorial

                 mug rugs christmas mug rugs a blog series at

Today is my stop on the Merry Mug Rug Blog Hop hosted by my dear friend Jennifer at Ellison Lane.  I'm bringing back the Scrappy Christmas Tree in mug rug form.  You can see the original version in an advent calendar I made a couple of years ago here.  I love that scrappy little tree and was excited to do a mini version.

Although I have the earlier tutorial for this technique, I'm including a quick run through of the basics so you can make one of these scrappy little trees for yourself!
First, gather lots of green scraps - we want a good variety of tiny scraps.  Of course, this little tree would be adorable made of a single small scale green print with a scrappy garland if you don't want to fool with piecing the tree.  But I like scrappy, so here we go!

Next, start building some green sections.  I never measure, just join and trim, join and trim.  Usually I don't even use a ruler to cut, so I can get some wonky lines which adds to the scrappy look.  I know! So liberating!
 You can stop once you have a general tree shape.
Cut out your tree shape:
Now my favorite part - the garland!  Get out your tiny colorful scraps and sew them into strips.
Then just start playing with where you'd like to place your garland on the tree.  
Take a deep breath and cut your tree so you can add the garland.  Just do it.  That scrappy tree is so cute on its own, and I do keep meaning to make one and leave it that way, but the garland adds so much!  
Then add your background fabric.  I just place the tree on top and use my ruler to line up the angle I need.  
I then make a quick trunk using a scrap of brown fabric (about 1.5 x 2.5 inches before sewing) and adding some background strips.  Center this piece on the tree.  

I thought it would be cute to quilt in little snowflakes.  I started with white but eventually decided I liked the contrast of teal snowflakes for this mug rug.  It's all about trying things out, right?!  I have to say, I had some issues when I quilted the flakes in and ended up having to rip it out.  The solution was to interface the mini quilt top, add the flakes, and then quilt with backing and batting.  This worked for this size project with just some light echo quilting around our little tree.  

Add a binding and you're done!  

I love this little mug rug and plan to give it to a friend this Christmas.  And I'm so addicted to this technique, that I have a pillow in the works for the couch.  I'll be adding red pom-poms for the trim - so cute, right?!  

 Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to check out all the other stops along the Merry Mug Rug Blog Hop over at Ellison Lane - cuteness overload!  While you're there, be sure to enter the great giveaway going on too!
stuff stocking graphicmug rugs christmas mug rugs a blog series at

Friday, October 31, 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Fall 2014

                                                Fall 2014 BQF Button
Hello my friends!  I've been chatting with a lot of you on IG lately (find me there @valbetweenquilts) - which has led to fewer blog posts.  But it's Blogger's Quilt Festival time again, so that's got me running back here - I always love participating in that!

This time, I'd like to share a mini quilt I made for a swap I was in earlier in the year.  The Post Sew South Swap happens after the Sew South retreat and my partner this time was my sweet friend Kim.  I was so excited to make her something special and felt some paper piecing was in order.

I have been crushing on kaleidoscope quilts lately and decided to give the paper pieced pattern on Red Pepper Quilts a try.  It is a lot of tiny piecing, but I love the end result.  I think each block finishes at 4", so this mini quilt is 16"x16".  I love how the low volume background prints set off the rich teals and golds.  Every one of these fabrics makes me happy :).

 Short and sweet tonight folks - time to check out some more Blogger's Quilt Festival entries!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

At Last!

Can you hear Etta James in the background as you read this post??  Because I can, and certainly heard those sweet words as I danced around the house last night with my new bag slung over my shoulder: At last, my love has come along...

 Here she is in all her retro-vibey glory.  This is a tough bag y'all.  I have summitted my personal Sewing Everest. The Weekender Bag pattern by Amy Butler has turned in to a right of passage in the sewing community, and with good reason.  It is like luggage and certainly looks sharp with loads of professional looking details.
 Why, is that homemade piping made from bias strips??  Yes, yes it is.
Is that bag so sturdy it stands up all by itself??  Yes, yes it does.  There is enough interfacing in this thing I would not be surprised if this bag stood up and walked across the room to me when I called it.  (And it's such a smart bag, I should totally try that).  

 I did add a couple of pockets to the inside lining to make it more functional.

 And I did add purse feet to the bottom to make it more sturdy.

I also lengthened the straps to 54" and used webbing as interfacing for the handles because I wanted them to be really strong. Oh, and I followed the advice of my friend Christen  and topstitched the lining right over the zipper line instead of having to do that by hand.  Much faster and I'm so happy with the result.  I think those are the only modifications I made to the pattern.  Can I just say the zipper installation was GENIUS!  I was skeptical reading the instructions because I've never done a zipper that way before, but I went ahead and followed what it said (I know, shocker!  Actually following a pattern!).  I'm so glad I did!  The result is a clean, tight zipper line.

Y'all, I have wanted to make this bag for years. When I first joined the online sewing community back in 2011, I was amazed that this was a thing people could MAKE!  I've admired so many other's Weekender Bags over the years, and have so many favorite  - there are some beautiful bags out there and I've been inspired by them all.

I would never, ever in a million years have started this project without the serious hand-holding of my sweet friend Melissa .  We started this pattern together over a YEAR ago - her beautiful bag long being done and mine languishing in a sad pile of cut pieces for far too long.  The Weekender Sew Along hosted by some more sweet friends Sew Lux, Love By Hand, and Modern Handcraft was exactly the push I needed to finish this thing when I really just wanted to abandon it in a large pile of WIP's. And of course, I had constant support from so many IG friends who really cheered me on to finish.  Thank you to all of you - really,  I mean it! - I couldn't have done it without you.

                                 amy butler weekender sew along 2014

Now please excuse me, I am off to dance with my new bag...At Last!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival Spring 2014

Spring '14 Blogger's Quilt Festival -

It's that time again!  I love the online quilt festival that Amy of Amy's Creative Side hosts twice a year to coincide with Quilt Market.  This time, I'm entering a group quilt made by attendees of this year's Sew South Retreat.    Jennifer of Ellison Lane hosts this event and it is spectacular!  I thought it would be a nice surprise to thank her for her hard work with a quilt made by all of us - an enduring keepsake stitched with love and gratitude!  I asked the group to send in 12" or 6" stars of their choosing with a color palette of teal, pink, orange, and yellow with a low volume background.

 I love making quilts like this because you end up with so many different blocks that work so great together. 

For the back, I pieced the words "Sew South" - going scrappy within each letter in the color palette chosen, which I felt would compliment all the different fabrics on the front.  I also pieced a signature panel from siggy blocks sent in by each person participating.  

For the quilting, I used a tutorial from Better Off Thread to do wavy lines close together.  I love the effect - kind of looks like a fingerprint!  This kind of quilting takes a ton of time but is worth it for the results and newly toned triceps.  Quilting is my favorite sport!

Jenn loves her quilt and we were able to keep it a surprise until the last day of the retreat.  It is always a joy to  make quilts for people, especially good friends!

I'm off to check out more Blogger Quilt Festival quilts - join me!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Quilt Lemonade: The Details

The Details
Who We Are:  A charity quilt drive benifitting the community of La Limonada in Guatemala City, which is considered to be the largest urban slum area in Central America.

Who Quilts Are For:  There are many great programs run by Lemonade International to help the people in this community.  Our primary focus is the children in the safe house, which currently houses 19 children. After this goal is met, my hope is that we can continue to cover this community in quilty love across all populations!

What We Need:  Completed quilts in a usable size - lap size or larger.  A general reference is 50" x 50", but if you have a quilt that you would like to share that is larger or a tad smaller that is welcome too!  We want these to be a functional size - pretty to look at and warm to snuggle under!

Get Involved:  If you are interested in providing a quilt for this community, or have any questions about this project,  please contact me (Valerie) via email at betweenquilts (dot) gmail (dot) com.  Learn more about La Limonada and other ways to be involved at Lemonade International.

The first quilt I made for La Limonada

Friday, April 25, 2014

Quilt Lemonade on Modern Sewciety Podcast Today!

I'm so excited to share about Project Quilt Lemonade on the Modern Sewciety Podcast today!  I had a chance to talk at Sew South about the charity quilt project I started for Lemonade International.  I have been so encouraged by the willingness of people to help this cause with their time and talent.  After the retreat, 
Alison put me in touch with Stephanie, who recently began a podcast for modern sewists, in an effort to reach a wider audience.  Stephanie was a delight to chat with, and I truly appreciate her help in spreading the word about our need for quilts for this community in Guatemala.  

Check out the podcast by clicking here, and while you're there, check out the rest of her shows too - she has lots of talented, fun people on her show!  It feels like you are listening to some friends having a conversation - which is pretty much the beauty of this quilting community.  Thanks again Stephanie!

And don't you just LOVE the new Quilt Lemonade button?!  A HUGE thank you to my sweet friend Lindsey of LR Stiched who made it for me!  I love what she made and am grateful for tech-savvy friends 
who help a girl out when she needs it :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sew South 2014

sew south front of buisness card

I blinked and a month went by.  Why does that keep happening??  And although this time has passed, I simply must tell you about Sew South.  Nearly 4 full days of friends, fun, laughing, crying (the good kind - from meaningful conversations), chatting, food, and very little sleep - all among the backdrop of fabric, thread, sewing, and classes.  It was the best!  I came home exhausted in the best way, feeling full and satisfied in deep places in my heart.  It was just what I was needing. The people are by far the BEST part about a retreat and it was so great to see old friends and meet new ones too.  Lots of laughs, chatting, and nerding out over thread and fabric were happening all over the place.   I'm awful about taking pictures during an event - I'm so in the moment I don't even think about it - but here are a few taken with my cell phone.
With Alison Glass

                                                                        With Tessa 

With Courtney

With Kati 

With several fellow Stitch Tease Bee members - Di, Trina, and Cindy.  Interestingly, three additional members of this bee were together that same weekend on the other side of the world :).

                                                                    With Nancy 

With Laurel

 With Lindsey
With Roommate Amy

A highlight for me was when we presented Jennifer with the quilt we had made her, but alas, that deserves it's own post so I'll write about that later.  Spoiler alert - lots of tears that morning!

A GIANT thank you to Jennifer and all the sponsors for making Sew South such a fantastic event!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Riley Blake / MQG Fabric Challenge

Here is my entry for the Riley Blake fabric challenge hosted by the Modern Quilt Guild.

Riley Citrus
Measures:  15" x 19.5"
Fabrics:  The Orange and Yellow - Riley Blake
The Solids - Kona
Designed & Quilted by me on my home machine

Members of the MQG who particpated in the challenge were given a set of fat eighths of various Riley Blake fabrics, with the rules of being able to use only Riley Blake prints, any solids, and your item had to be quilted.  I was smitten with the orange print, and loved how it looked with the yellow, and from that point it just sort of evolved to sticking with fresh, spring-like colors.  Given how cold it's been here lately, no wonder I'm dreaming of spring!  For the quilting, I went with ascending curves, which reminded me of a slice of citrus fruit.  I'm so pleased with how it turned out!  A huge thank you to Riley Blake and The Modern Quilt Guild for providing the fabric and the platform for this challenge. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review: South Park Bag


Welcome to my stop on the Crafty Traveler Blog Hop Series!  I am so excited to share my thoughts with you on the South Park Bag by Jennifer of Ellison Lane.  Let me first start off by saying I am not the biggest suck-up because I am reviewing a pattern designed by my friend and the host of this series.  Really, I'm not.  I truly do love this bag!  I had the chance to see the original version of this bag in action during a visit with Jenn last summer, and I was smitten with it's curved lines, ideal size, and structure.  When she asked for some pattern testers, I couldn't respond fast enough.  

Now, time for true confessions:  Prior to this bag, I had NEVER made a bag by myself (and only a couple with some serious hand holding).  Patterns scare me.  There always seems to be a lot of steps - lots of words to read, seemingly really important steps that I feel sure to mess up.  Even with quilting, my true crafty love, I very rarely use a pattern.  So I knew this was going to be a challenge for me, and I felt ready to tackle it.  

And look - I did it!  Whoever left this fantastic Ikea fabric on the Freebie Table at Sew South last year, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.   To be sure there is a special spot in heaven for you and I'm guessing you are smart and beautiful and gifted with many talents, such are the ways of a person generous with fabric. 

The other side:

 My favorite parts about this pattern:

* The steps are clearly written, make sense, and are broken up logically (meaning, there's not really 18 steps in 1).
* It was easy to understand and execute the steps even for a newbie bag maker.  Beginner friendly!
* The inside pocket.  Oh, the inside pocket!!  It is so simple, so polished looking, and the absolute perfect size with a slot for my cell phone and another for my sunglasses.  I LOVE that about this bag.  In fact, I have thought I would use this pocket in other bags I make (yes - there will be more!)  because I am always digging for my phone and glasses with other purses.  It is the perfect pocket.  Try it - you'll see what I mean!
* The handle.  One handle, cleverly attached with rings for a smart look, that is just the right size to always stay on my shoulder.  Love.
* As I mentioned earlier - the sloped shape of this bag feels very contemporary to me - it is simple and elegant at once.  The single handle complements this shape perfectly.
*The size of this bag is great - roomy enough for what I need without being too big to allow me to carry more than necessary.
*It really went together very quickly.  I am not a super fast sewer but was still able to complete this in just a couple of sewing sessions.
The Perfect Pocket

I get compliments on it all the time when I'm out, and people can't believe I made it.  I had such a sense of accomplishment when I finished.  And just like that, I became a maker of bags.  

(You can purchase the South Park Bag pattern here, you'll be glad you did!)  

OK, on to some details about the blog hop.  Be sure to check out all the stops in the series and link up your own handmade crafty traveler item on March 6 for a chance to win some great prizes!

This is the Crafty Traveler Blog Hop Schedule:

3/6: Link-up opens at
3/13: Winners announced!

A special thank you to these wonderful sponsors for the great prizes!
CT sponsors

CT prizes