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So far Sara has created 15 entries.

My 2nd Crib Quilt

My best friend already had two boys when she told me she was pregnant with a girl.  I was so happy for her to get to add some pink to her life!  She decided to let her youngest son and baby girl to share a bedroom to start off.  Remembering what the bedroom looked like, I decided that the baby would need a quilt to make her side of the room more girly.  But, the quilt also needed to coordinate with the current colors of the room, so I specifically chose some fabrics that contained blues and greens.

Most of my sewing projects start with some fabric that I “must have” and then I figure out what to do with it later.  In this case, I made a special shopping trip for the project, but I did come away with some prints that I love from the Cloud 9 fabrics line called House and Garden for Joann Fabrics.  I also used a cute owl print and a blue floral.  The only fabric that I sort of regret is the pink and orange chevron.  I like it on it’s own and in the store the colors matched well with the owl print but its a stark contrast to the rest of the fabrics.

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I started cutting the fabric, except that I was super excited about the project.  Usually I OVER plan things, but that day I made a sketch and one template for the angled strips, but didn’t really calculate any measurements at all.MaelynQuilt1

So, without much planning, I just started sewing away the diagonal strips, which were probably 3 inches wide.  And since I didn’t measure anything, I ran out of fabric.  As you can see in the picture of the sketch, I erased the middle section of the quilt and added a band of the Tweety Tweet Blue print across the  middle.  So, I cut the panels of diagonal strips in half and turned the them inward so the middles touched.

MaelynQuilt2This is a picture from when I was working on the placement.  To mask any imperfections in way the diagonals met up, I decided to add strips between the panels.  Although, I don’t actually think that the seams were off by much.  At first I had yellow strips of fabric between the diagonally pieced panels, but then I decided that was too busy.  So I ripped them out and changed it to white.  Now I wish I had used the Tweety Tweet print.

My other fail with this quilt was the quilting itself.  As I did with my first quilt, I just stitched in the ditch.  At this point, I still hadn’t read anything about how to sew a quilt.  I didn’t know about using a 1/4 inch seam or even how to straight line quilt.  I have told my friend that I want to get the quilt back and straight stitch the along the seams, but she lives about 2 hours away and then her baby girl would actually have to give up the quilt for a night.  Maybe it will happen one day.

However, a major plus for the quilt is that I used a yellow dotted minky for the backing.  Children LOVE it because it’s so soft; that’s the same reason I love it actually.  And its really durable too.  Based on experience with another crib quilt I made, the minky isn’t too hard to get through the sewing machine when quilting even though its thick.  I just sew slowly and use a walking foot.


Overall, for my second attempt at sewing a quilt, considering I didn’t really know how to quilt yet, I like how it turned out.  It’s definitely more complicated than my first one.  And, the baby loves it, so that’s what really matters!

Happy quilting!

By |July 14th, 2014|Quilting|1 Comment

Why Didn’t I Do This Earlier???

Since I had my first child 4 years ago, I have been brainstorming and taking actions to start my own business, or buy a small business.  When my oldest was about 4 months old, my husband and I put an offer on a laundromat that was for sale.  That deal fell through due to poor booking keeping by the seller.  But I didn’t give up there.  I haven’t tried to buy another laundromat; good ones are hard to find (although actually there is one for sale right now that I would like to at least visit with a broker).

After my second child was born I opened an Etsy shop called The Jewel Farm where I sold jewelry making supplies.  I had recently taken up jewelry making as a hobby and was able to find a wholesaler for the supplies.  I bought semi-precious stones, silver and gold plated findings from overseas then split them into smaller quantities for sale.  Unfortunately, the jewelry supply shops on Etsy are dominated by sellers from China and they have much better prices and larger selections than I could offer when I was just starting out.

And ultimately, jewelry making is not a real passion for me.  I didn’t want to learn everything about it, soldering metals, setting stones, etc.  I just liked making simple beaded necklaces.  Sewing is my passion.  And the longer I do it the more I love about it and the more I want to learn about it; the fabrics, pattern making, and I even enjoy quilting now.  I have tried so many crafts over the years.  I have had supplies ranging from dyed lambs wool for needle felting to canvases and oil paint.  I never did much with any of them, but all the while I always had at least one sewing project going on.  Even in college, when I didn’t have a sewing machine, I would sew skirts for myself by hand!

All in all, the Etsy shop was a good experience and I’m glad for all I learned during the past 3 years of managing that shop.  I must give credit to my sister, of Smarty Pants Paper Co., who helped me get started and showed me the ropes.

She showed me how to set up my Etsy shop and use the correct policies and shipping profiles.  She also gave me a photography cheat sheet to help me take the best possible picture of the merchandise and then edit them in Photoshop.  I have a nice camera, tripod, and a light box, but I still struggle with the settings on my camera.  I had to take a few Lynda.com lessons to get better using Photoshop, but even though my Etsy shop is closed, I am so glad to have that skill set (limited as it may be) because I edit pictures all the time now, even just pictures of my kids that I post to Facebook!  Speaking of, she also helped me set up the Facebook page for my Etsy shop and recommended I start a blog.  All excellent lessons that I will be able to use in my future endeavors.

My favorite thing that my sis did for me was make a logo for the shop.  It could not be more perfect!  I still love it and wish there were some use for it today, but it’s pretty specific to The Jewel Farm:


And this is what the banner looked like for the Etsy shop.


I still have a lot of supplies left, which means that financially The Jewel Farm was a failure, but overall I count it as a success because I learned so much from it and the experience really prepared me for my next steps as a small business owner.  Plus, I can make myself a lot of cool jewelry if I every get some free time.  Ironically, my jewelry collection could use some serious updating!

Until next time…

Happy Sewing & Crafting!

Baby’s Nursery

This is a “getting to know me” post, so you can see my tastes and learn a little more about me.  I wanted to write about this project even though it was so long ago, because it was my first attempt at making a quilt.  It isn’t fancy and isn’t even quilted properly, but it is still being loved every day by my youngest daughter, so I consider it a success.

Prior to decorating my daughter’s nursery, I mostly sewed clothing for myself.  I made some roman shades for the sun room at our old house, but that was pretty much the extent of my non-garment sewing attempts pre-2010.  Part of the reason I made all the decor for my daughter’s nursery was the cost savings.  But also, I didn’t really want the exact same stuff that everyone else gets for their kids from a big box store (even though I love getting a Land Of Nod catalog in the mail and always read it thoroughly).

I made a quilt, curtains, a pillow, a bumper guard and a mobile.  I went to my favorite fabric shop in Gastonia, NC, Mary Jo’s and browsed their quilting cotton for hours.  I found one print that I loved immediately.  At the time I didn’t realize it was a Free Spirit fabric, but now it makes sense that I loved it so much, since I like all their designers and fabrics.  The print is from the collection called California Dreamin’ by Jenean Morrison.


Then I chose several monochromatic fabrics to match the colors in that print, plus a hot pink and white fabric from Michael Miller that kind of reminds me of a lattice design.

The theme for the bedroom was bunnies.  I appliqued bunnies that I cut out from white minky on the quilt and the pillow.  My dad bought me an adorable bunny lamp for the dresser.  At an antique store, I found a white ceramic planter that is shaped like a bunny (what luck!).  And I also found the perfect print to match the theme and my focal fabric on Etsy from the store Make Me Some Art.  Since my girls now share a room I don’t have a place to put this print, but I intend on rehanging it in my future studio.


For the bumper guard, I just sewed equally sized squares together, sandwiched them around quilt batting, bound the whole thing and added ribbons to tie it to the crib rails.  It was pretty easy to measure the inside of the crib to determine how large the squares of fabric should be.  It wasn’t very time consuming, but did require a good amount of fabric, so it’s a shame I had to remove it as soon as the baby was able to sit up, at about 5 months.  I don’t even think I used it at all for my second daughter.


The pillow was also really easy.  Again, just rectangles sewn together with a single piece of the white print for the backside.  I sewed coordinating ribbon on the seams, but I didn’t even bother to put a zipper in it; I just sewed it closed.  This was the quickest item created for the nursery, but the most useful for me.  I am so glad I made this pillow because I sat in that rocking chair nursing and rocking my little babe for many, many hours and the pillow was the perfect size to support my back.


The quilt matches the design of the pillow and bumper guard.  It is simply rectangular strips of fabric sewn together. The back is hot pink minky.  There are 3 white minky bunnies appliqued onto the green section of fabric.  I didn’t take a full picture of it when it was still new and clean looking, but a good portion of it can be seen in the picture above with the bumper guard.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a good picture of the mobile either, but it can be seen in the picture below of the whole nursery.  However, I can tell you a great hack to make a custom mobile to match the rest of your nursery decor.  I bought a mobile that was on the clearance shelf at Babies R Us.  The package had been opened and damaged, but the mobile operated perfectly.  When my sister came to visit, she actually finished this task for me because I was so tired.  She took apart the umbrella portion of the mobile using a seam ripper, then used those pieces of fabric as a pattern.  She cut new fabric from my selection and sewed it back together just like the original.  Then I used that same bunny shape to cut out 4 more bunnies and hung them from the corners of the mobile’s umbrella using ribbon.  It looked fantastic.  I would highly recommend this hack to anyone who wants the mobile to coordinate with the other fabrics in a nursery.  It only took my sister a couple of hours to complete the mobile and she even went the extra mile and added cording where the pieces of the umbrella joined.

Here are two pictures of the completed nursery.




The quilt is still used every single day; all day long actually.  My oldest daughter really took to her Jelly Cat giraffe, but my second daughter took to the blankie and never let go!  She loves the soft minky on the back.  She carries it with her all over the house and sleeps with it every night.  The binding is starting to show wear and it is kind of dingy looking even though I wash it frequently.  I have thought that if it starts to show too much wear and tear or if my daughter is still this attached to it after she becomes too tall for it to cover her body that I still have all the fabric from the bumper guard and from the curtains, I could rework a new quilt in a queen size or lap size for her.


Happy Sewing!


My Work Space Is Also A Playroom

Everyone loves to see other people’s work space.  I’m happy to share mine as well.

I have a finished room over my garage (FROG), most of which is my girls’ playroom.  There is also a staircase that comes into the room and on the other side of that is a small office area, which I have completely taken over.  Since we moved into this house 2 years ago, I have gradually been making the playroom side more fun looking and kid friendly and I’ve been trying to get the work side of the room more organized for me to sew in.  I’ll post more about projects I’ve done for the playroom, but first I’ll show my work area.  There is a built in desk on one side and built in cabinets on the other.


I bought some shelves to store my fabric on the counter.  I like having it out so I can see it and be inspired.  However, I think I still need some more shelving because I have more fabric stashed around the room, mostly my garment fabric.  I used to try to keep my stash to a minimum when we lived in a much smaller home.  My sewing machine was moved around the old house several times as we constantly tried to reorganize and squeeze ourselves into 1700 square feet.  Now that I am not so restricted with space my collection has grown.


The eyesore on the bottom right that appears to be a missing cabinet is actually a spot for a mini fridge.  There was one there previously, but it did not have a front vent and ended up leaking and causing a spot on the ceiling below.  I will probably get another mini fridge at some point when my kids want to hang out up here and watch movies with their friends, in about 10 years.  For now, I can throw my crap in the empty space.  One of my favorite things in my workspace is the piecing wall in the left side of the picture.   It is a vinyl table cloth that I cut down to fit the wall and then used thumb tacks to hang it up, fuzzy side out.When cutting out pieces for a quilt, you just lay them on the wall and they stick to it.  It’s great for figuring out placement and keeps everything off the floor and away from kids and pets.    It isn’t as big as some other people’s piecing walls, but it’s perfect for a crib quilt which is mostly what I make.


My sewing machine sits in the middle and I can quickly get to the desk or up to the cutting board on the counter.  I need to find a better place for the iron.  I would like to say that I keep it neatly folded and stored away in the closet but that is not the case.  It just stays out because I use it a lot.

I bought some cute curtains for both sets of windows in this room.  I got two extras so I can make coordinating throw pillows for the play area later on.  We still have to recover a couch and love seat to go in there, so there is no rush on that.

This is the side with the built in desk.  It’s always a cluttered mess and my sewing books and magazines are slowing overtaking my other books, so I need to reorganize the whole thing sometime.  I also keep all of my girls’ messy art supplies on the shelves, which I need to clean out, since I am always adding to their stash.  Maybe I’ll get to that next year 🙂


I am considering encroaching on my kids space a little bit and putting a tall table where the pile of stuffed animals is.  I already have two old bar stools that I can use with it.  I have seen some IKEA hacking online and so my plan is to copy something I have seen on that website.  I am hoping to incorporate a place for the ironing board on the tall table, because it really is a nuisance in the middle of my sewing area.

It’s a small space so there isn’t much else to write about.

Happy sewing!

Sweetgum Studios Is Coming Soon

I’m working hard to get this site up and running.  Please check back soon to read about garment sewing, quilting, a variety of other crafts, pattern reviews, tutorials, free quilt patterns and more.  I’m also setting up a new Etsy shop where I will sell the quilts I make as I test out new patterns, and various other things I sew as I work through my fabric stash.

Most importantly, watch me start up a small business!  I’m going to document the whole thing.  I’ll tell you all about all the successes and tribulations, and share all the steps I go through to get my fabric company started.  Sweetgum Studios will produce digitally printed organic cotton for quilting and garment sewing.

Thanks for stopping by!


By |April 5th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments