Saturday, November 30, 2013


Welcome to Caturday. Where we bring you ridiculous pictures of cats "helping" their humans quilt, sew and craft. 

This week for Happy Caturday we bring you Calvin, one of the owners of my friends back in the Midwest. Calvin shares his humans with two other cats and the occasional raccoon that makes its way through the cat door into the house.

This photo of Calvin is from him helping his momma Jane make her beautiful wreaths for her business A Life Beloved. Because what better way to help than to sit directly inside of the grapevine wreath frame. And occasionally turn and pounce on a twig that is sticking up out of place. Oh Calvin, such a helpful cat. Good thing you're so gosh darn cute.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Festive for (Black) Friday

Woohoo! Black Friday! So I actually love Black Friday. I love that it's the kick off for the Christmas holiday season, spending time with family and hitting the stores for some good old fashioned shopping (although I am NOT one of those people who is up at 4 am. I want to sleep in and have some coffee and bagels before facing the masses).

But the real reason I love Black Friday is that it's the day we adopted Friday the kitten in 2008. He was only a few months old at the time, and he was the last of his litter to be adopted from the Humane Society. The volunteers told us that they had a hard time adopting out black cats because of the superstition that they're bad luck. We were having none of that. When I held the little kitten and he attacked the collar of my pea coat with his cute little kitten teeth I knew he was the perfect little cat.

Fast forward a few years.

I still love my cat, and I still celebrate him every year on Black Friday. But he is a TROUBLEMAKER. Of course you'll see him featured on Caturday, but he's also "helpful" outside of the sewing room. A few examples.

Friday helping to celebrate my 30th birthday by attacking the ribbon that my birthday balloon was on. Poor Frank the Flamingo didn't have a chance and was bouncing along the ceiling within a day of coming home.

Mom, me, Dad and Frank the Flamingo.

He also enjoys sitting on his mommy's lap and making sure I don't forget about him.

Which is important since he has competition in the house for my affections, and not just from CatCat. 

See how he's NEXT to the laundry basket? Don't think that lasted more than a few minutes. In the laundry basket of clean clothes is one of his happy places. 

Of course, his happiest place is always in a box. And what better box than one with fabric! 

So whatever you're doing today, shopping or sewing. Shoveling or sleeping. Stuffing yourself with leftover or sitting with your pet. Mom, Friday and I (and CatCat, too) hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's a block that Mom made just in time to post for today! 

The additional quilting on the feathers and turkey body contribute to the overall feel of this crazy turkey! 

It still needs to be blocked, but it looks pretty good for its size of 9-1/4" x 9". 

Please note the helpers I had in the completion of this small Thanksgiving wall hanging.  After this shot was taken, Friday chased Catcat in a less than friendly endeavor.

Block designed by Leslie Main, Country Traditions, Fremont, NE, as a 2010 Calendar Banner Block Pattern (November - Block Kit #11)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Work in Progress Wednesday #6.

This week for Work in Progress Wednesday I bring you a small peek into a quilt I'm working on for my (clam chowder) college friend. He wants it to be a total surprise, so I'm not going to post any pictures or even name the pattern until it's all finished! As much as I love making our containers, it's nice to have another project for when I need to switch it up a little bit.

Find our previous posts for Work in Progress Wednesday here.

What have you been working on lately? 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Storing the Stash-Works in Progress

As you may have noticed, both Mom and I seem to have a lot of Works in Progress. Let's just say that we're not worried about running out of WIPs to share on this blog anytime soon. Admittedly, this makes Mom's idea for storing WIPs even better as it allows one to contain, corral and organize everything. 

Her solution? 12x12 Scrapbook Cases.   

 I love these cases for storing WIPs for a couple of reasons.

1. The 12x12 size pretty much accommodates the biggest blocks I work on.

2. They're transparent. I love being able to see what's in a box and grab the right one on the first try. Even the ones that are tinted are still see through, so you could go crazy and color code if you wanted to.

3. They stack! As you can see in the picture of some of Mom's cases above, they stack neatly and compactly. This is also handy when you realize you've run out of empty cases and need to buy more; you know they'll stack together! 

4. It makes it easy to keep EVERYTHING together for a quilt or craft. Fabric, patterns, books, thread, even partially completed blocks can be kept in the same place. 

5. It's easy to add a label, if you feel so inclined. Use a taped down sticky note or even a piece of masking tape to label the project. When you finish (ha!) you can just pull it off and the box is ready to hold your newest WIP. 

How do you store your Works in Progress?

Some links in this post are Amazon Affiliate Links

Monday, November 25, 2013

Momcat Monday-Practice and Warm-Ups.

Hi everyone! Back again for another Momcat Monday, and yes, again about hockey! As I mentioned last Monday, we have season tickets to the University of Nebraska at Omaha (Go Mavs!) hockey team, so I spend lots of time at the arena looking at the ice. 

This time I want to talk the importance of warm-ups as they relate to machine quilting. I'll be honest, machine quilting is one aspect of sewing and quilting that I'm not very comfortable with. This would probably explain why I have boxes and boxes of fully pieced flimsies (that Laura says WILL be featured on Work in Progress Wednesday so I guess I'd better work on the in PROGRESS part) that only lack the quilting and binding to be beautiful completed quilts. 

Hockey (and other sports) can provide us several examples of what I need to do to become more proficient at machine quilting. First, and un-pictured (pretty sure they wouldn't let me in to photograph practice even if I tried to explain that it was for a quilting and sewing blog), is to practice! The players spend hours each week on the ice working on their skating, puck handling and team work. They spend more hours in the gym training to improve their physical fitness so the next time they're on the ice for practice they're able to perform better. 

Second, you never start a game without a warm-up. I think every machine quilting class I've taken, every blog I've read, and every accomplished quilter I've talked to has emphasized this. When you sit down to to quilt for the first time in a day you always take a few minutes to warm-up on a practice piece. 

The boys warm up with different drills to get their bodies and minds ready for the game.

After you've warmed up and have your head in the game, you're ready to begin quilting on whatever your main project is. Your mind is ready to quilt and you've taken the time to remind your hands and feet (for the foot pedal) of the muscle memory built up by practice. 

Go Mavs, Go! 

What's your take on warm-ups when you're machine quilting?

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Welcome to Caturday. Where we bring you ridiculous pictures of cats "helping" their humans quilt, sew and craft. 

This is Friday. The face behind Caturday itself. We adopted him on Black Friday in 2008 and he's a little trouble maker. I'm not sure if this was a yawn or a mini roar (I'm guessing yawn), but whatever it was he's DEFINITELY sitting on the quilt I was trying to work on! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Festive for Friday

We're ending the week here in San Francisco with cooling temperatures and rain. I've been told not to complain, however, given that it's snowing back in the Midwest! Here are five festive things that have brightened my mood lately despite the dreary weather.

1. This video from Pentatonix and Todrick Hall that's an awesome mash-up of songs telling the story of the Wizard of Oz. I went to grad school in Kansas (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!), so I'm always amused by Wizard of Oz things. 

2. Quiltmaker's Volume Eight of 100 blocks . This has been making its way around blogs this week and it looks like there's some pretty nifty blocks included.

3. Sew, Mama, Sew's curated lists for Handmade Holidays. Since I work with college students in my day job, I was particularly tickled to see the list for college students. 

4. Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Modern Weave tutorial. I've used some of her tutorials before and she does a SUPER job of making explaining everything and encouraging new machine-quilters to practice and explore. I love the look of this one-it reminds me of a ginko plant! 
photo credit: shes_so_high via photopin cc
5. San Francisco turning into Gotham City for a day as part of a Make-a-Wish Foundation event for Bat Kid! This has been all over the internet so you've probably seen it by now, but it's just one MORE reason I'm super proud and excited to call San Francisco my new home.

What's made your week festive?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Numbered Pins

This is another idea that Mom shared with me that's super helpful for keeping your quilt blocks in order. Mom's always been a fan of notions and gadgets, but she also has a strong "do-it-yourself" take on life. I've seen the numbered pins at quilt shows before, but they're definitely not cheap! Mom took the regular flat-head flower pins and just wrote the number on each side with a fine-tipped permanent marker. Easy peasy!

Having numbered pins are great for when you're taking blocks off your design wall to sew them into rows and want to keep track of what goes where in your quilt. You could also use them to mark rows or columns, or to keep track of patterns if a certain fabric changes placement from block to block.

What's great about this idea is that you could write anything you wanted on them. Not feeling numbers? Try letters! Draw arrows point in different directions to indicate the direction of a row, or where to piece from next. You can do whatever you want and make your own pins unique to you! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Work in Progress Wednesday #5

So just because the book manuscript is turned into our editor at American Quilter's Society, doesn't mean I'm done testing! I keep finding bits of thread and fabric clinging to my clothes, especially when I've been sewing at night all bundled up in a polar fleece sweatshirt and yoga pants. 

This lovely looking contraption will eventually be a tall stem vase. It's been ok to sew, but I'm a little bit worried about flipping it inside out! 

Here's what one of the Inner Side pieces looks like before it was all sewn together. 

An up close of my whip stitch. Can I get a yee-haw for (in my opinion) gloriously even stitches? 

What have you been working on lately? 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Storing the Stash-Fat Quarters

As any quilter or seamstress could tell you, building your fabric stash is one of the best parts of quilting and sewing! Some might call it hoarding, but I prefer to think of it as "collecting." Of course, building the stash also means it's important to find a way to store the stash. Here's one idea for fat quarters.

Anyone who knows me (and Mom!) shouldn't be surprised that many of our stash storage containers originate from one of the best home decor and storage stores on the planet:

This was one of our random finds when wandering through the housewares section of the store. I'm really not sure what it's really supposed to be used for, but it's the perfect size for holding four small stacks of fat quarters, or even half-yard cuts. And yes, those are sparkly pink flamingos wearing Santa hats. Don't judge. 

It has a nifty little handle in the center, so I could see loading it up with fabric for a class and taking it along with me. It was only about $4 (I think), so I'm going to grab a few more next time I'm at Ikea. Who am I kidding, I'll take this as an EXCUSE to take another trip to Ikea!

Ikea, I'm not sure what a "Samla" is, exactly, but I like it!

What are some of your creative storage solutions?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Momcat Monday-Inspiration

Hi again! I'm back again, this time to talk about finding inspiration in the most random places. My husband and I are big hockey fans and one of our favorite winter activities is going to University of Nebraska at Omaha hockey games. We've been season ticket holders for about seven years now, so we've spent plenty of time not only watching the games, but also looking at the blank ice between periods. 

When I look at the picture above, my eye is immediately drawn towards the red and black UNO logo on center ice where the two shapes come together to form three letters in a cohesive logo. The interlocking shapes remind me of the way that some quilt patterns also have interlocking pieces that come together to form a more complex pattern, like Snail's Trail

While I'm not sure I'd make an entire quilt out of the UNO logo on its own, I did enjoy the quilty inspiration that I got at the hockey game. My husband, on the other hand, didn't seem quite as excited. Good thing I have all of you to share it with instead!

What's the most random thing that's inspired you in your sewing, quilting and crafting?

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Welcome to Caturday. Where we bring you ridiculous pictures of cats "helping" their humans quilt, sew and craft. 

This is CatCat, helping me (Laura) as I finished a baby quilt for my niece. Her purposeful stare is in preparation to pounce on my fingers as I guide the quilt under the needle. Way to help, CatCat. Way. To. Help. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Festive for Friday

A compilation of things that made me smile lately. Some related to quilting and crafting, and some not, but all are festive! 

1. My brother, Bill, and I went to an all-you-can eat pizza extravaganza at Pizza Orgasmica. Bill's been extremely supportive of our book, and it's great to live in the same city (San Francisco) as him again! And holy smokes was the pizza good. 

 2. This adorable matryoshka fabric I saw a few weeks ago at Britex Fabrics, a four story fabric palace that deserves a post all its own. The fabric is from the Little Kukla line (Kukla means "doll" in Russian) by Robert Kaufman.

 3. This pile of trimmings on my work table! Real, live proof that I have indeed been testing patterns for our book! And making a colossal mess in the process.

 4. Simple Halloween Costumes. I love Halloween mostly because I have a huge problem with buying Halloween fabric. Especially candy corn fabric! Now what I actually DO with this stash is a totally unrelated issue. But now anytime I feel sad I'll just whip out my new Minnie Mouse ears and *poof* instant perk up.

 5. My first San Francisco seafood experience: clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl down at Fisherman's Wharf with my college friend who came to visit me from Minnesota, the state of hockey! You'll notice my cute pink quilted bag, a birthday present from Mom last year. I always get TONS of compliments on it when I go out.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Everyone has their favorite manufacturer of sewing machines, and for Prairie Sewn Studios we're Bernina all the way. Mom's first sewing machine was a Bernina 930 that she gave to me as a Christmas present in college, which of course opened the way for her to get a new Bernina! Turns out she missed her ol' 930 so much she bought a replacement on ebay!

Who makes your sewing machine of choice?