It’s hard to believe that my baby will be a year old in less than two months. They don’t lie when they say “babies don’t keep”. Finn is in the final stretch, as is his milestone quilt. I’ll warn you now: I took a LOT of photos this month. If you don’t feel like seeing far too many cute baby photos, you may want to just stop here. The rest of you may want to get a beverage and find a comfortable seat!
Finn is itching to run around with his older siblings, and that motivation is clear in his movement and development. A few days before 10 months, he took his first few (three, to be exact) small, tentative steps. Were they to mommy or daddy? No! They were to big sister Maddie, with whom he really wanted to play. He has been mastering climbing down as well as up stairs, and absolutely loves to dance. His solo standing is now quite steady.
His quilt is growing, too. Creating the blocks has become second nature, and with the extra precut strips saved from previous blocks, the new blocks go together quickly. As anticipated, the toughest part about this quilt now is the monthly photo shoot. Finn was *really* helpful this time!
While I taped the blocks to the wall as quickly as I could, Finn was helping me sort the project box for this milestone quilt. In baby terms, this means pull everything out of the box then proceed to mix around as much as possible. Oh, and taste all the things!
Taking the blocks off the wall is also a really well known and delightfully entertaining game. This month’s photo should really look like the photo above. As Finn adorably revealed. I’ve been hiding an outlet behind the blocks all these months! In a house with a million outlets and hardly any clear walls, you have to make do! He’s so proud of himself.
Finn now has four teeth, and his top two grow bigger daily. You can barely see them peeking out in this photo. Such a sweet mug!
Playing throw and catch is another favorite of 10 month-old Finn. Here we are playing with my newly made repurposed denim ball.
He actually has quite an arm already, and almost always throws the ball forward instead of behind him!
He’s just SOOOO big! There are those top teeth!
With teeth comes the ability to eat more adventurous things. Toward the end of the photo shoot I discovered one of the reasons Finn was so intent on taking the blocks off the wall.
He was aiming to eat the blue painter’s tape right off the wall! Must be delicious!
So there we have it. Ten months old!
For those of you new to this project, you can see the full quilt layout plan, HERE in the 3 month post. You can see the full progression of Finn and his quilt’s growth so far HERE or by clicking the “Milestone Quilt” tab at the top of my blog. Thank you for joining me on this journey!
My recent experimentation with improv curves has got me excitedly skipping down the path of curved sewing, eagerly trying every rendition of curves I can find. Mastering curves is one of my big goals for the year, so I’m happily nurturing this skill with every try.
I have collected quite a sweet stack of fabric scraps featuring colorful creatures and items (many thanks to my most generous fellow quilters who sent scraps!), and with Allison from Campbell Soup Diary constantly prodding encouraging me to try freezer paper appliqué, I figured it was finally time. Thus begins another new project–an eye spy quilt for my kids involving inset circles, drunkards path blocks, and any other curves I can find.
Since I don’t have an actual mathematical compass in my house (gasp–appalling, I know!), I decided to use my Sizzix die cutting machine to help with cutting circles, since of course the eye spy quilt will need to consist of curves of all kinds. I only have the Sizzix BigZ L die that includes 2″, 3″, and 4″ circles together, so I could use it to cut the freezer paper but not the fabric. You can be sure the solo 2 1/2″ and 3 1/2″ circle dies will be in my next order! I grabbed some freezer paper, my washable school glue with Fineline tip, some appliqué scissors, my Sizzix fabi and circles and drunkards path dies and some fun fabrics.
I used a combination of Allison’s fabulous tutorial for a mini drunkards path block and the techniques used in the six-minute circle and other improv sewing I’ve been trying. I basically followed Allison’s tutorial, using the Sizzix to cut the circle in the freezer paper, and ironing the freezer paper to the wrong side of my background square to get started.
I clipped the curves and pressed them out around the freezer paper, actually gluing them a bit to the paper so that they would stay pressed back better (brilliant tip, Allison!). Then I diverted from Allison’s tutorial and switched into “six-minute circle mode”, running a bead of glue around the tabs.
I then positioned the circle over the strawberry piece, pressing it with an iron to heat set the glue.
Once the tabs were heat set and secure, I gently pulled the background fabric up and slowly stitched around the inside edge of that freezer paper circle using a zipper foot. That way, these inset circles are sewn and secure, but the stitches are still hidden like with actual curved piecing.
Then I trimmed the excess fabric from around the strawberry, creating a 1/4″ seam allowance. I LOVE the outcome! I also think this took even less than six minutes, which is kind of amazing in my book. Only a couple hundred more squares to go!
I don’t have a real firm plan for this quilt yet, other than I’m aiming to use 4″ and 8″ and possibly some 2″ blocks and aim for a smooth rainbow gradient as well as the eye spy fun within the blocks. I have not yet decided whether I will include squares as well as circles, or if I will keep this a purely curvy quilt. What would you do?
As you can see, I did give one drunkards path block a go since I have a drunkards path die that finishes at 4″, but I clearly need more practice with actual curved piecing. It ended up a bit wonky and smaller than 4 1/2″ (for visual reference,the strawberry and cat blocks are about 5 or 5 1/2″ square since I plan to trim them down at the end and I wanted some wiggle room). Next time, I’ll try glue basting for the drunkards path block, too, I think. It’s worth a try!
I’m linking up with Lorna at Let’s Be Social, since I’ve added yet another project to my works in progress pile. After this one, I’m going to focus on finishing what I’ve started for a while!
With so many fabulous tutorials out there in this vast internet world, I try to avoid reinventing the wheel whenever possible. So far, when it comes to finishing my quilts and other stitched projects, I’ve had great luck in finding clear, well-written tutorials that help clarify exactly how to best finish a project. Today I thought it might be helpful for me to create a reference list of my top go-to finishing tutorials and tools to share with you.
Here is a visual map I drew to help keep track of my favorite methods during an #Honestcraftroomies Periscope hop about this topic a few weeks ago, along with my top favorite finishing tools. (If you click the photo it should open in another tab a bit larger so that it’s easier to read. All of the information is in the blog post, too, though!)
I’ll begin by linking to each of my favorite finishing tutorials below with a brief explanation as to why it is a favorite (Each heading and photo link to the tutorial. Click and it will open in another tab. Peruse at leisure. Bookmark. Revel in sweet knowledge!)
Holly DeGroot at Bijou Lovely was one of the first quilters I started following regularly, and for good reason. Her photos are superb and eye candy abounds! This tutorial is super straight-forward and has clear photos for every step. It also shows you how to get the end of your binding ready for the next step: attaching it to the quilt, which is very helpful. When binding any large, rectangular quilt, either entirely by machine or hand-stitched to the back, this is how I make my binding.
This gets you set up for hand stitching your binding to the back of your quilt. The brilliance is in the overlap join where the beginning and end of your binding meet. For someone who initially struggled with getting that final binding seam sewn straight and in the proper place (hi, that’s me!), this tutorial was a lifesaver!
While I love hand stitching bindings to the backs of quilts, some quilts just warrant machine binding, either for durability or for the sake of saving yourself a bit of time. This tutorial is fabulous! I now machine bind all baby quilts and kid quilts, and I use this tutorial to help machine bind things like mug rugs and table runners, too!
This tutorial makes binding tiny things a breeze. Seriously! One tip I have to emphasize is the step where you press the binding away from the front of the quilt after sewing it on. This step makes all the difference in the accuracy of your final stitches and the overall perfection of your finished (finished! yay!) mini. If you are at all infected by the mini mini quilt bug, this tutorial is a must!
My Top 3 Finishing Tools
Finishing a quilt includes more than binding. To me, quilting and burying threads count within the ranks of “finishing steps”, too. I have three top tools that I couldn’t live without when it comes to actually quilting a quilt and burying all those threads. (Each tool name is linked to where you can buy it, but they are not affiliate links; they are just there for your convenience. I’ve heard rumors that Maine does not allow affiliate link payout, and I’m thinking they may be true. You probably will see a lot less affiliate links, but I will always link to products because I think it’s helpful to you!!)
When I first heard of a Hera marker, I envisioned a special pen. The name is misleading a bit until you realize that it “marks” the quilt with creases, NOT with actual physical marks like a pen, pencil, or chalk would. (The white thing in the photo above is the Hera marker for those of you who have not yet heard of them). Hera markers are my go-to quilt marking tool, and I use one for marking straight lines for small quilting projects, marking increments before free motion quilting, marking seam lines when joining binding or sewing HSTs, and just about any other time I need to mark the fabric somehow.
Painter’s tape is another fantastic tool for those of us who shudder at the thought of actually writing on a quilt top. I use painter’s tape to help keep straight line quilting evenly spaced and as a visual guide when sectioning off areas of free motion quilting. It is easily repositionable, and paired with a ruler, can be placed exactly straight. You NEED some of this in your quilting arsenal. (I also use it to tape up quilt blocks for photos!)
These needles sound magical, and trust me–they are! When you have a gabillion threads to bury after epically quilting your quilt baby, the self-threading (also called easy-threading) needles are your bff (that stands for ‘best friend forever’, for those of you who aren’t savvy to teenage acronyms). The drawing I did of the self-threading needles shows how they work best (in my humble opinion) so I’ve included that above. Basically, they have an open top so that you can just pop your thread end right down into the eye of the needle, easily burying threads like a champ, again, and again, and again, and again…
I hope this collection of resources is helpful to you. There’s nothing like finishing a quilt, and these tutorials have helped those final steps be as smooth as possible for me. You know me; I love to share the love!
I’m sure there are more great tips and techniques that haven’t yet crossed my quilting path, and I’d love to learn about them. What are some of your favorite finishing techniques or tutorials that I haven’t included here? Thank you in advance for sharing!
Finn has officially been growing on the outside as long as he grew on the inside. (Well, if you want to get really technical, he has another two weeks since he was born at 42 weeks gestation, but I’m just going with generalities a bit). This feels like the tipping point, for some reason. It’s amazing to think about the amount of growth that has happened over the past 18 months. Mind boggling, really. 18 months ago he was simply cells, and now…. wow! Life is miraculous, there’s no doubt. With month nine, I’m now working on the final row of his Milestone Quilt. Only three more blocks until it will be finished and ready to assemble. That means only three more months until my little baby will be a year old.
When I was thinking about what monthly milestones he’s been working on and meeting, and therefore which ones I wanted to document here, I immediately thought of his experiments with standing. He is getting steadier on his feet and will sometimes *briefly* let go of whatever it is he’s holding and stand on his own. Up until the photo shoot yesterday, though, these standing bouts lasted only a second or two.
You can imagine my surprise when Finn stood on his own for a few minutes, albeit propped against the wall! There’s my 9-month old boy!
As you can see, he’s still putting just about everything in his mouth, chomping at the bit as his teeth work their way in. He still has only those bottom two, but his top teeth look like they are getting close to breaking through. The drool faucet is often turned on.
I’m really loving seeing his quilt come to life. It does take some restraint to make such a simple quilt in such a long, drawn out time, but I think it is so worth it. I’m seeing my quilt-making mature as I watch my son grow, and I’m keeping the project completely manageable. This month I’m proud to say I made his block a few days in advance, and did the photoshoot yesterday. I won’t try to count how many months saw a last-minute day-of rushed shoot and late night sewing sessions. This month, I’m winning.
One of Finn’s new favorite positions is on his knees. He “stands on his knees” as Maddie likes to say, and bops up and down, chewing on a toy, or dancing along to music or just about any repetitive sound. He LOVES to dance. He still loves to smile, too.
With his increasingly steady stance, he is exploring the world with earnest. Those little hands reach and grab, trying to figure out every little thing. I’ve had to reevaluate the “safe zone” height in our house, since there have been a few large items pulled to the ground due to his exploring reach. No worries–all furniture and large items are securely fastened to the wall. Fortunately, Max made that a necessity so we are well prepared for our next active boy.
Finn still loves watching the chickens, and has begun to “talk” to them, as well as to the phone when it rings. He’s working on waving “hello” and loves to interact with others, especially his siblings.
As a year draws near, I’ve begun to think about how I want to preserve these milestone posts. While his baby book has been sorely neglected, I do have these updates each month and I’d like them to be in a preserved form. I’m thinking I will turn at least the highlights of each post (the photos and milestone accomplishments) into a book via Shutterfly. That way, Finn will have his quilt and his First Year book to look back on. I love this project more every month!
For those of you new to this project, you can see the full quilt layout plan, HERE in the 3 month post. You can see the full progression of Finn and his quilt’s growth so far HERE or by clicking the “Milestone Quilt” tab at the top of my blog. Thank you for joining me on this journey!
If I thought Finn was on the move last month, this month takes it literally to another level. A few days ago, I was helping Max get his socks on in the morning and casually glanced over to make sure Finn wasn’t eating anything he shouldn’t. I am so glad I did, since Finn was three steps up, headed gleefully up the stairs! He can crawl, pull up to stand, walk along with movable items, eat solid foods, and now climb stairs. I think he’s beginning to explore communication more, too, since he clearly understands the words and signs for “milk” and “food”, and anytime he sees his brother, he says, “bop!” I’m hoping he starts to sign back soon, since then the fun really begins! This kid is amazing!
As we know, as Finn grows, so does his quilt. With the eighth block finished, this is really beginning to look like a quilt!
Every month when I’m writing this post and looking at the quilt, I think perhaps I should up the ante and make two blocks per month to make it a bit larger when finished. But then, when the monthly milestone comes (and sometimes goes before a block is complete… ahem, this month), I remember that the reason I am keeping this project small is that it is meant to be attainable and fun, NOT stressful.
I’ll keep it to one block per month and will focus on the fun. At 36″x48″ finished dimensions, I think it will be the perfect drag-around size for Finn. Plus, this way if he feels like he outgrows his quilt, it can go right into the memory box (in tatters, hopefully) and I will make another one!
As you can see, Finn enjoyed helping with this month’s photo shoot. All predictions related to the complexity of successfully photographing a fully mobile infant were absolutely correct! All part of the fun!
Who knows what kind of new explorations he’ll be tackling next month! Maybe he will be able to help me tape the blocks UP onto the wall instead of just pulling them off?
If you want to see the full quilt layout plan, I showed it HERE in the 3 month post. You can see the full progression of Finn and his quilt’s growth so far HERE or by clicking the “Milestone Quilt” tab at the top of my blog. It’s wild to see how he’s grown in such a seemingly short time. Four more blocks to go! Thank you for joining me in creating Finn’s milestone quilt.
I’ve been quiet here, not for lack of sewing, but for lack of *shareable* sewing and computer time. I’ve been working on my first commissioned quilt, and I’ve been buckling down to try to get it finished. I’m having fun with it, but as is the case with just about every project, it’s taking me a bit longer to get together than I had hoped.
Perhaps one day I will learn that “I’ll just make a background of half square triangles (HSTs) and then I’ll just appliqué on top…” really is equal to cut, sew, press, trim, sew, cut, sew, press, trim, sew, on repeat for days, and while aesthetically “simple”, it is far from actually simple. The just is deceptively dismissive, but resides heavily in my planning process. I think part of my nurture goal for the year should include eliminating some “just” and being more realistic with my goals. In the meantime, I’ll continue making slow and steady progress, and enjoying the journey.
I can’t share much, since who knows if the recipient may be reading this, but here are a few peeks at my progress, and at the awesome project that has been filling most of my sewing time as of late.
I promise to show the final quilt once it is finished, gifted, and received. All I can say is that the half square triangles are “just” a canvas for something greater.
Time is not the only thing that has been flying by. Finn is already seven months old and is officially on the move! While he still moves primarily through his inching army crawl, he is getting a lot more adept at moving his body around from belly to sitting to up on all fours, *flop* to belly and across the floor!
While I didn’t finish it before Christmas, I did finish Finn’s 7 month milestone quilt block. I’m on course to have 12 blocks by his first birthday. The photography part is definitely getting fun, since as soon as I sit Finn down, he wants to move. That squirmy wormy desire to *move* just shows his growth and personality, so I’m embracing it. It’s one more opportunity for creativity!
The biggest news this month is: teeth! Finn’s two bottom teeth are in and now big enough to see when he gives his gummy smile. Teething is never fun, but Finn (and mommy & daddy) have been handling it like champs. Between his big sister’s birthday, Christmas, and holiday travel, it has been a full and busy month!
Not much stands in Finn’s way these days. Trying to get him to stay on the quilt near his quilt block was tricky, so most of the photos this week are movement or snuggle photos. I’m sure you don’t mind. This was what I saw less than a minute after putting him down right next to the wall. “I want to play, Mommy!”…
…until he got distracted by a design in the carpet. He is also really working on his fine motor skills, trying to grab tiny bits off the carpet and floors. I love watching his little mind at work. Babies are amazing; they learn so much so quickly!
Finn’s quilt is really taking shape! You can see my full layout plan here in case you missed it a few months ago. I’m tempted to begin sewing blocks together but I think I will wait until the end to be consistent with photos. Here’s a quick photo burst since who doesn’t want to see babies in front of gorgeous quilt blur?
This project is so much fun, and I love that even if I procrastinate, sewing up a block takes less than an hour; sometimes it comes together as quickly as a half hour. For a busy mom with a million things on her plate (Hi, that’s me!), this project is a breath of fresh air and a chance to see and make progress without a huge time commitment. Plus, it’s such a fun way to document Finn’s growth and milestones.
Halloween is a fun time of year around our house, since my kiddos love to dress up in costumes from years past all year ’round, and the end of October means NEW costumes and candy! While I’m not really big into decorating the house for holidays (with the exception of Christmas and Easter–how can you resist those?), I do like making holiday crafts with the kids to help build excitement.
Today I’m going to share a quick tutorial for some spooktacularly sturdy beanbags, a perfect addition to a Halloween party but also a great addition to any child’s toybox. I should note, too, that beanbags are my go-to gift for two year old birthday parties. When a child turns two, I’ve found it’s really fabulous to have something you’re SUPPOSED to throw. Beanbags are such a versatile gift since they can be personalized in any way; you can change the shape, change the fabric, or personalize with applique letters or pictures. I’ve included affiliate links in this post so that if you decide to buy any of the tools I’m using, I will receive a small commission, too. I only share tools and products I love, so you can be sure they are tried, tested, and loved!
I figured since it’s nearly Halloween, it was the perfect time to use my Cotton + Steel Spellbound Collaboration charm pack that I bought from Fat Quarter Shop. The 5″ circle die worked perfectly with the charm squares, which made my job even easier! I used my go-to thread, 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove for all sewing.
Choosing four pairs of coordinating charm squares, cut eight (8) 5″ circles, layering your Sizzix sandwich: bottom cutting pad, die with the blades facing up, fabric centered over the circle blade, and top cutting pad. All necessary circles for this project can be cut with one pass through the fabi, which made this a really quick project to make with my kids.
Next, pin your pairs of fabric right sides facing. I used only four pins, two of which marked a 2″ opening. With a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the circles together, leaving 2″ open for turning and filling. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam.
Turn beanbags right side out through the 2″ opening. Gently slide your finger along the seam from the inside to make sure the circle is fully turned. Press with a hot iron. Turn in the seam allowance around the opening and press, too, since that will make sewing the beanbags together much smoother once they are filled with dried beans. Since it’s a curve, this step is a little tricky (or at least it was a little tricky for me). Just remember what you’re making: these are going to be tossed and thrown and loved, and perfection is overrated!
Now comes the fun part! Grab some small dried beans (I used dried black beans), a funnel and/or spoon, and a couple of eager helpers.
Fill the beanbags with dried beans, leaving at least an inch of empty space at the top. Trust me here; the beanbags will seem too empty, but while you are sewing them shut and top-stitching, you will want that extra wiggle room.
We found that a combination of funnel, spoon, and simple “use your hands to put the beans in” worked well for us.
Either pin or clip the tops once the beanbags are filled (remember to leave that good inch or inch and a half of empty space in the top). This will both remind you that the beanbag is “finished filling”, and remind your kiddos not to cram any more beans into it. (We definitely took as many beans out of the beanbags as we put it. All part of the fun, right!?)
Depending on the size of your helpers, this may be a messy activity. Plan accordingly, or embrace the chaos.
Once all of your beanbags are sufficiently filled, head back to the sewing machine and topstitch about 1/8″ inch from the edge of the beanbag, beginning by sewing the opening closed. This extra round of sewing will securely close the opening, and will also provide extra durability for the entire beanbag. I made some beanbags for my nearly-six year old when she turned two, and they are still going strong in our playroom.
I used my zipper foot to sew these beanbags closed, and sewed most of them with the needle between the foot and the beanbag (shown in the top photo above). It proved more finicky than I remembered, so with the final beanbag, I moved the needle so that the foot was between the needle and the beanbag (shown in the photo above). This worked much more smoothly for me. As you sew around the edges of the beanbag, stop every couple inches with the needle down to reposition the beans, pushing them away from the part of the beanbag you are about to sew. Sew all the way around each beanbag.
Now you have a handful of spooktacular sturdy beanbags and you’re ready for fun! Toss them at pumpkins, into trick-or-treat buckets, or at each other (avoid faces!). Have fun!
The final layout and block setting I chose/created includes background blocks between the farmer’s wife blocks, so my finished quilt only needs 72 blocks instead of the full 99. This gives me some much needed wiggle room and a whole lot less stress when I’m running “behind”. No worries. This is fun!
I’m having a great time so far experimenting with warm and cool color combinations as I put together the 6″ blocks. Here are the ones I have completed so far. For photos, I’m backing the warm colors with the black fabric in which they will be sashed, and the cool colors in a white/low volume print. I may swap a more grey-silver fabric in as sashing in the final quilt construction. Time will tell.
As you can see, I’ve been inspired by the gorgeous blocks being made by other quilters, especially the fun use of meticulous cutting. While I don’t have many “fussy cut”-able tone on tone fabrics, you can be sure you’ll be seeing more meticulous cutting in future blocks wherever I can make it work. It’s so much fun!
Reading the letters that correspond to each block has been my favorite part. The determined spirit of the farmer’s wives in the 1930s is inspiring and really puts things into perspective. While my block sewing has not been as reflective and relaxing as I imagined (shocker), I am enjoying this journey.
The only requirement for this sew-along is that you have the book by Laurie Aaron Hird, since the block measurements, directions, and templates are all included only in the book. There is also now an ebook available, which makes it super easy to jump right in.
I’m linking up with Angie’s Farmer’s Wife 1930 Sew Along Link up, week 2. I encourage you to hop over and see all of the gorgeously diverse blocks that have been made so far. It’s amazing how each person’s personal style and tastes can be put into the very same block! You can also visit the extremely active and growing Facebook group, which is now over 4,000 strong! I’m looking forward to making more of these blocks, and reading more inspiring reflections by the farmer’s wives of the 1930s.
Four months old! Which means I’m now four blocks into my milestone quilt for Finn. For those of you new to this project, my husband had the brilliant idea (through jest) to make a quilt block every month with which to photograph my baby Finn as he grows, and sewing them into a quilt for him as a birthday present in celebration of his first year. I took the idea and ran, and haven’t looked back yet.
This project is still feeling very doable and I’m considering adding an additional four blocks to make it a big larger of a quilt at the end of the year. For now, though, I’m sticking with the one quilt block per month idea, and so far I’m four for four (great record!). You can see my planned layout in my 3 Month post here.
Finn is growing as only babies can. He’s a very stretched out baby, who loves to flex his legs and stand whenever he can, but he also has found the potential in rolling to the side, and has made it halfway over before getting stuck. He sucks and chews on his fingers, either for soothing or maybe he’s teething already (I sure hope not!). He is still so aware of everything around him and loves to “talk” with his baby babble and big bright eyes.
His newfound love of movement makes it quite difficult to get a good photo, but I managed to get a few. Even today, when he’s in the thick of a slimy, drippy, coughy cold, he is so full of bright eyed smiles and giggles. I caught myself almost defiantly asking him the other day, “How are you so happy ALL the time!?”, feeling like I was missing out on something. But then I realized since smiles are contagious, seeing him smile makes me happy no matter how stressed, tired, or otherwise cranky I might be. He’s a gift for sure.
I am really enjoying creating this quilt along with Finn’s growth. Setting small, attainable goals makes the entire quilt-making process not only doable, but it makes it part of my journey through his first year.
Now up I go to relieve my husband and take my shift holding our poor slimy guy upright so that he can get some sleep without coughing and spitting up slimy gunk. It may be a long night ahead, but hey… it’s all part of the journey and it’s a blessed one indeed.
I grab a needle and thread once the kids are in bed