granny square christmas pillow

continuing on my current quilting kick, i made a pillow for my husband’s company holiday party. they do a Christmas decor gift exchange/yankee swap type thing every year, and this year i decided to add to my quilt block repertoire and make a pillow!

granny square christmas pillow

granny squares are the hot new-old quilt block, did you know? first Jessica made one for me as a pillow for my birthday (which i posted here), then Jess posted her progress on her middle daughter’s new big girl quilt and linked to a great tutorial on how to make them. that did it, it became a “must make.” i figured a pillow would be great practice and the fabric would be fun to figure out. i cut my squares at 3.5″ each and i added a 3″ sashing around the edge to frame the pillow (3.5″ sashing would’ve been better though – bit of a squeeze). the pillow is around 18″ x 18″ finished.

i didn’t pay as close of attention to the tutorial as i should’ve and did a little extra piecing, and i also cut myself with my freshly changed rotary cutter blade during the process, but it still came together in just a few hours and was a fun design to make.

granny square christmas pillow

i did sort of a mix of traditional and more modern prints in Christmasy colors of red and green, with lots of polka dots. the inner square is from a fat quarter of lizzy house leaves and berries in cocoa that i got at bolt a while back (here’s some on etsy!), surrounded by pearl bracelet also from hello pilgrim and two different versions of moda essential dots (i first used the red ones on the amelie dress, and the cream ones i think i got on clearance at fabric depot).

granny square christmas pillow

it’s always hard to show quilting on light fabric. i outlined the squares on the outside edge of each, then ran a second line of stitching echoing the outline around the outside of the block. it created some cool diamond and triangle shapes.

granny square christmas pillow

the back is just an envelope closure with a button to make sure it stays put.

granny square christmas pillow

it’s a bit risky to bring a handmade to an anonymous gift swap; there was stealing allowed and part of me was hoping it’d get stolen a couple times to show the time spent (and blood spilled) was worth it!*

my husband works at a family business though, and my sister in law hid the pillow under the table to prevent it getting stolen! i figure that’s just as good, right? she wanted it to come home with her, and she made sure that happened. so i know it went to a loving home. 😉

granny square christmas pillow

just when it ‘s time to take photos of inanimate objects (which should be a snap), the 2 year old can’t resist playing with the ornaments and photobombing my photoshoot. silly boy.

granny square christmas pillow

what are you making this holiday season? anyone giving any quilted pillows? they’re a fun way to practice your quilting without a huge time commitment! just one block, some quilting, and you’re done. totally fun (unless you slice your fingers – be sure to roll the cutter AWAY from you! AWAY NOT TOWARDS!! sewing is dangerous!).

be safe out there, you guys.

*I promise I did not bleed on the pillow!

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house tour: master bedroom

have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful

i’m a firm believer in that william morris quote, and i consider it my guiding principle in decorating my house. i’m kind of a minimalist (plus lots of everyday clutter, hehe) but i feel like pretty much every furniture/decorating piece in my home has meaning, usefulness, or makes me happy in some way. as a result, it takes me a long time for spaces to feel “finished,” since i can’t just head out and buy everything all at once…i collect over time. that’s how it’s been with our bedroom – we’ve lived in the house over 9 years now and actually switched rooms a couple times as we added kids and different layouts worked better for us. i like the current setup the best, though.

my husband and i tend to be drawn towards sort of a mix between the arts & crafts era of design plus mid-century modern plus straight up modern. those three are all about clean lines and nice detail, so they do seem to play well together. here’s a little tour!

bedroom tour

as i pinned rooms i liked, i noticed i was really drawn to a high contrast wall with neutrals and pops of color. and i know i told the story once before, but my husband painted it for me as a mother’s day surprise this year! it’s super dramatic and i LOVE it. the color is devine penguin, and with the white duvet as giant reflector, it makes a great blog photo background. hehe. we have a queen crate & barrel bed frame that looks sort of antique-ish (we got it when we were first married and they’ve got nothing like it anymore, boo!). i’m a big fan of the texture our pintuck duvet cover adds to the space. the watercolor on the upper right was painted by Em.

bedroom tour

on my side of the bed i have dried billy balls in a pretty arts & crafts style vase my husband gifted me from rejuvenation (i love gingko leaves), sitting on a MCM-ish west elm night stand. the vase rests on a great little craft book by one of my favorite creative bloggers, abbey. my water coaster is a pretty tile from anthro. the lamps are from restoration hardware (similar here – sometimes they have big lighting sales and their lamps get super cheap, which is when we nabbed these).

bedroom tour

oh and that pillow on the bed? that perfect pillow that draws your eye and ties everything together so nicely?! it was made by jessica. she sent it as a surprise for my birthday a couple weeks back, and i’m obsessed with it. check out that pebble quilting! the luscious anna maria horner field study! the tie in to the wall color! it’s so wonderful and really was the final thing to make the room feel complete. so meaningful, so beautiful, so perfect. the girl can sew for reals, lemme tell ya. thanks jess!

bedroom tour

when i’m in bed, this is my view, which i like to call “amish chic.” it’s my swoon mini quilt, hung over a simple wooden chair from my father-in-law’s childhood desk set. we didn’t have a chair in the room until i hung the quilt and it needed something below, but i like it a lot. we’re lucky to have original mouldings up by the ceiling too; it’s fun to hang stuff from them. the closet is on the left here. it’s technically walk in, but it’s just 24″ wide so don’t get all jealous.

swoon mini quilt

here’s the top of my dresser.

bedroom tour

the chalkboard canvas is an idea i saw on cakies a couple years back, made when Em was a toddler, and it’s so fun. i take it down every so often, have the kids do some chalk art, then throw it back up there. right now it sports a purple elephant climbing a ladder, drawn by Em of course. on the left, O drew “helicopters.” underneath i have art from a family vacation, a bowl gifted from my friend erin, and a couple hourglasses (need another one – not a collection until you have three, right?). i cut Em’s silhouette out a long time ago and need to make one for O too…

bedroom tour

here’s the view looking out toward the living room, dining room, and kitchen. we don’t have a coat closet so we put an Eames hang-it-all knock off up in the hallway recently. it’s hard to keep pared down enough to stay pretty, but it’s highly practical. more kid art beyond.

bedroom tour

and here’s looking into the room. yes, a TV – my husband watches it with headphones on as he falls asleep. we’ve swapped out most of the light fixtures in our house over the years (which had been replaced with cheap big box awfulness by prior owners) to schoolhouse type fixtures from rejuvenation and schoolhouse electric. can’t really see them here, but the floors are fir. we tore out burber carpet and had the floors refinished soon after moving in (doing the floors right away was my personal must when we bought the house). we repainted both dressers black a long time ago – they used to be in my husband’s childhood bedroom. i’d like to have clean-lined natural wood ones someday, but these work and they were free, so…

bedroom tour

most of the original glass knobs are still in the house. love them.

and that’s it! small room, see? i think builders in the 1920s were smart in devoting most of the square footage in a house to living room, dining room, and kitchen. our bedroom isn’t huge and that’s fine – it’s not a big hangout space, it’s a bedroom! the original bathroom and closets are tiny too. the house clutters fast since it is pretty small, but having 4 people in 1300 square feet of main living space (plus a 500 square foot finished basement) means you can’t just accumulate a bunch of stuff for the heck of it. gotta be thoughtful about what’s brought in and really mindful of scale, you know?

so. a little break from my typical sewing posts but i still snuck some sewn goodies in there. you know me.

japanese tea party: the outtakes

i was realizing that in my sleep-deprived state leading up my japanese tea party post, i neglected to include as many of the photos from our super fun photoshoot as i wanted to.  everyone cool with a few more?  hope so!

(voting over at project run & play is open until sunday evening, by the way, and remember it’s a double-elimination round! – vote here – **Voting is now closed.**)

the indoor photos:

i hung pom poms from my kids’ rooms (i originally made them for Em’s first birthday party) and the pink bunting banner that i made for race for the cure last fall.  i wanted the background of the photos to be light and soft, to complement the petal top and tutu skirt.

gail provided the felt tea party goodies.  Em provided the elephants.

there was also some book-reading, of course (it is a reading nook, after all!)

the nook has the most amazing light even in poor weather, which is why i asked if we could take pictures there.  turns out we got a beautifully sunny day (almost TOO sunny at times, once we got outside)!

i was sure to take advantage of the light to get a few detail shots of the kimono coat and that blind-stitched binding that i’m so proud of, and a big reason behind my late sewing night…

the outdoor photos:

after i got the photos i needed inside, we went outside to “feed the chickens.”  well…that was what got Em outside so i could take my kimono jacket photos!  Em loves feeding the chickens (yes, people keep chickens in their backyards here…it’s actually a pretty common occurrence!).

more jacket photos here.  to Em’s delight, she and lila then got to feed the chickens (see how versatile this party outfit is?  it’s great for tea parties AND farmwork!).

while gail, wearing her lovely wiksten tova top that she made, held O for me so i could snap snap snap away.

all in all, it was my favorite photoshoot of the competition so far – great friends, great setting, great pictures.  i hope to return the favor someday, though my house isn’t nearly as cool!

have you made it over to project run & play to vote yet?  mine is the first entry you see this week so it’s pretty easy to find (though it is not first in the votes at the moment!).  VOTE HERE through sunday evening!  thanks for indulging my photo bombardment!  i just couldn’t not post them.  🙂

**Voting is now closed.**

pink gradient bunting

i definitely didn’t get too ambitious with handmade gifts this christmas.  aside from the cape, this is the only other handmade gift i’m giving.  woops!

my sister requested “one of those triangle banner thingies” for her daughter C’s room for christmas.  C is almost three years old, and a big fan of pink like Em is.  they just moved into a new house, and C’s bedroom has been painted light pink!  my sis asked for pink/orange/magenta, though i had to clarify whether “raspberry” was okay, because i don’t have much magenta fabric.  it was.

this one actually gave me a bit of trouble, color-wise.  i have tons of pink fabric around, since Em wants me to make her nothing but pink dresses, but i wanted to mix prints like my other banners (spring, fallwinter, and sisters, for example).  it wasn’t really working for some reason.  however, once i decided to go with a symmetrical gradient solid-ish scheme with just one obvious print (my long-hoarded heather ross far far away I) it came together nicely.

  i can’t do JUST PINK without a bit of grounding, so i used charcoal bias tape on it (store-bought).

i snapped these photos in our room while they were on their way over to visit this morning, so i can get it wrapped up!  meanwhile, my kids did this:

she’s wearing her christmas dress and my shoes, and he’s playing with a broom in our messy closet.  nice.  🙂

back to wrapping!

how do people blog in december?

seriously you guys, december is HERE!  sheesh!  i didn’t sit down to a TV or computer all weekend – too busy!  good news is, we got a lot done to usher in the christmas season.  first, we got our tree from a lot just a few blocks from our house.  our tradition is to carry it home (or the husband carries it while i lug both kids because Em was done walking and O was in the backpack).  we went to the same lot last year, so it was fun to reminisce about how giant my belly was then and how O’s birth was just a little over a week away…

then we rearranged our little living room to accomodate it, since we like a nice fat tree that goes all the way to the ceiling.  so the tree is trimmed, the chex mix is made, the house is decorated inside and out, Em’s christmas (and dance recital) dress is finished, and i knocked out a few decorations for O’s first birthday party coming up this weekend.  i would have gotten photos of the dress, but both kids have a cold and she hasn’t been in a modeling mood.

funny how just a weekend can get you fully in the christmas spirit.  after attending my husband’s company holiday party (he works for a small family-owned business, so his co-workers are a great group of folks that we’ve known for years) and seeing the singing christmas tree downtown with my mom and sisters (a giant choir of people standing on risers in the shape of a christmas tree), i’m there!

i got slightly too ambitious for a bit, starting to cut fabric for this mini quilt after being inspired by this one.  i got one block sewn…

…but then realized a hanging mini quilt is not a necessity when i have a couple christmas presents to sew.  i also got word that something VERY EXCITING is coming down the pike for ol’ skirt as top.  check back on wednesday to find out what (it’s not a baby – just gotta put that out there, since this sewing blogger bunch is an incredibly fertile one…).  😉

be back soon!