Feeling Recharged

For six years now, I have traveled to Waite Park, MN in July to spend a few days with some of the best friends I have ever known; a group of women that felt like forever friends almost immediately after our first meeting. My Grubers Retreat is a non-negotiable event on the calendar. I’ve written about the joys of this retreat in the past; but really, words cannot explain what this week means to me and does for me emotionally. Group8                               L to R: Amanda, Rene, me, Mary, Michelle, Terri, Cindy, Shelly, Stephanie

Amanda produces like crazy every year–many things with her new fabric collection for Connecting Threads this year! She free-motion quilted like crazy, and she and I made micro quilts. Amanda2015CollageRene worked on a scrap vortex quilt most of the weekend. Her 51 Kisses quilt, made for her sister, Michelle, is fabulous. Go check out her MUCH better photos!Rene2015CollageI finished up my Rock Pools quilt top from a class I took in May (it’s Christmas fabric), and worked on my Quick Curve Ruler project from last year’s retreat! My micro quilt is at the bottom left:Doris2015CollageMary made us the adorable egg-cup pincushions (top right photo) with the smallest EPP hexies I’ve ever seen. She worked diligently on a Moda Bake Shop pattern most of the weekend. Mary2015CollageMichelle first joined us for retreat in 2011 (year two). She is Rene’s little sis, and at the time she was just a newbie to quilting. She has come a long way! The girl is obsessed with foundation paper-piecing (and the movie Pitch Perfect, which we watched as a group Saturday evening). The quilt on the top right is the beauty she made for Rene this year:Michelle2015CollageTerri is fun to watch work; she makes the most of her time at retreat. She goes back and forth between projects, starts new ones when inspired by something she sees (see the blocks at bottom right, inspired by one Michelle shared-in my collage above), her creativity is inspiring. She came prepared with her suitcase of fabric (LOVE IT!)… Also, she made us those beautiful Dresden coasters this year:Terri2015CollageCindy accomplished much more than I took photos of. I couldn’t resist snapping the pic of her with the matching Hello Kitty sewing machine! She made us all one-hour baskets with fussy cut license plate fabric–so fitting! A friend made the cute bag at the bottom for her, it’s just too adorable not to share:Cindy2015CollageShelly and I share a ride from Des Moines to Waite Park, about 5 hours in the car (each way). She’s afraid she talks my ear off, but I love the laughs, the sharing, the brainstorming…and she tells the BEST stories. She was working on some top-secret stuff, so not many pics of her work, but she was very productive! I’m still tickled pink that she made us those perpetual journal calendars in the pint box (it’s one of the first projects I ever added to Pinterest and I have YET to make one–don’t need to, now!):Shelly2015CollageStephanie sat next to me this year, I was amazed at how quickly she made the Mini Disco quilt in the Allison Glass fabrics (the back is just as beautiful, photo on bottom right). She worked on a Quick Curve Ruler project as well, a current QAL on the Sew Kind of Wonderful blog.Stephanie2015CollageEach year we make (or “outsource”) happies for each other. Seriously, it’s better than Christmas:Happies4I gave the Cotton & Steel charm packs and scissors key fobs this year, Anna Maria Dresden coaster from Terri, Perpetual Journal Calendar & flashlight from Shelly, Egg Cup pincushion from Mary, Work in Progress bag and pattern, and mini-charms from Amanda, fabric tray and chocolate from Michelle, Her OWN honey and “Sew Sisters” bag from Stephanie (and fresh Michigan blueberries!), License plate basket from Cindy, and Mug and mini-charms from Rene.

Every year I come home feeling recharged and inspired–Love my Grubers gals!

If you can’t find what you want…

…make it!  I’m a DIY kind of girl, always have been. I’m frugal, and learned many skills from my mom; ours was a big family with a limited income, she made do, did a lot of the projects around the house, figured out how to fix things herself. I still tend to do things myself rather than pay someone to do it. Last weekend, I tore the mantle and fireplace surround (with trim all the way to the high ceiling) off my fireplace by myself rather than pay the contractor to do it. Last Fall, when I moved, I wanted a jewelry case to hang in my walk-in closet, that would protect my silver pieces from tarnishing. There are lots on the market, but they were not for my frugal self. And, I decided I didn’t need a large one.

So, I went to Hobby Lobby, bought a 10″ x 20″ shadow box frame, and pulled out the poorly installed canvas backing. I couldn’t find a white frame, so I bought a black one and spray painted it with white enamel that I happened to have on hand. I didn’t take the glass out, I just very carefully taped newspaper over both sides of the glass.

Cut a piece of mat board to fit, and covered that in batting and fabric to match my paint color:JewelryCase1 First, folded in and glued the batting…JewelryCase2 Then did the same with the fabric. The front side looked like this when I was done:JewelryCase3 I glued this into the bottom/back of the shadow box, then drilled holes for cup hooks that I had also spray painted white. (If I were to do this again, I would have used an awl to make my pilot holes–the drill bit got wrapped in batting each time and was a bit of a pain):JewelryCase4 Once the cup hooks were all screwed in:JewelryCase5 And voila! The finished project hanging on the wall of my closet:

JewelryCase6 The wire rack below it is what I have used for years for my necklaces/chains, but anything silver always tarnished quickly hanging out in the open air. Really, a fairly easy project that cost me about $22 total. JewelryCase7Now to get that fireplace surround re-done…

Happy creating,


A ghastlie reunion

**If you’re visiting from the Bloggers Quilt Festival, be sure to scroll down, my quilt entry is two-sided, and you don’t want to miss the back!

When we (Row House Creations) designed our Mums for Melissa pattern, I knew I had finally found the perfect design to use my (ahem. cough) collection of Alexander Henry Ghastlies fabrics! I think the first collection was released in 2009; sort of a unique, “Addams family” style novelty print. This pattern is designed to use a 2-yard cut of a print fabric that you can’t bear to cut up too small:

mums_frontcopyThe characters in the Ghastlies fabrics are so detailed and have such great expressions, backgrounds and “props” that they need to be used in larger pieces. I did make placemats with them a few years ago, and I made the quilt top I shared on our Row House Creations site in 2013. Trina quilted it for me in 2014, but I realized I never blogged about the finished quilt. Because, you know, 2014 was my worst year. Ever.

But it did get quilted, and it’s pretty awesome (if I do say so myself), because it’s two-sided, and the back is fabulous, too. This is a full shot of the front:


The “mums” in the center panel include some Ghastlies coordinates, but also just grey, black, pink, and lavender prints from my stash that coordinate well; the center is a dark green tangled lace Ghastlies print. It’s easy to see my fabrics in this photo from before it was quilted:

GhastliesMFMDetail3And the inner border is from a line by Sanae for Mode called Haunted Mansion (I love this print) and looks like a damask wallpaper print complete with spider medallions:


The quilting is done on an Innova long-arm, using their computerized designs, but in a custom manner (a different design for the center flowers, the inner borders and the large side panels of the quilt):


MFMGhastlies4I had a TON of fun making this quilt, I’m a bit crazy for Halloween, I love these fabrics, and I was using a pattern my business parter and I had designed. My fun didn’t stop with the quilt top. The back I had just as much fun making, creating a family “photo gallery” and a wainscoting wall look using some Tula Pink Nightshade fabric that coordinates with this collection very well, and the original Ghastlies, the Ghastlie Family Reunion and Ghastlie Gallery collections:


I started by fussy-cutting scenes from the large prints of each collection and “framing” them in coordinating fabric:MFMGhastliesBack4

I arranged them in rows on my design wall, added the white “wall” around them, then added the “wainscoting” panel below and above the photo gallery:


MFMGhastliesBack2The photo gallery inspiration came from this print from a Ghastlie GalleryMFMGhastliesBack5One of my very favorite quilts–this one stays with me! BTW, the back is a one-of-a-kind design and is NOT a pattern and NOT included in our Mums for Melissa pattern.

This is my entry in the Spring 2015 Blogger’s Quilt Festival — entered into “original design” category — would love to have you vote for me for viewer’s choice!

Happy Quilting, and come back again,


Fox in a Box

Trina and I designed this quilt in 2013, published the pattern, and it’s been a best seller! I’m sharing it here again as my entry in the Spring 2015 Bloggers Quilt Festival.

There is an applique and a non-applique version. I’m kind of partial to those cute little foxes on the applique version…


FIAB FullSHot Quilted2

Fox in a Box made with no applique:

Fox in a Box Quilt

Trina did a wonderful job on the quilting of this one, a combination of straight-line quilting, pebble quilting and shadow spirals…

Fox in a Box Free Motion Quilting

Fox in a Box Free Motion Quilting Detail

In designing this pattern, we worked out two methods of making no-waste (or LOW-waste) flying geese; through trial and error, but the methods in the pattern work our lickety-split!

Our little fox friend peeking out from his Fox and Geese Block, isn’t he adorable?

Fox in a Box Applique Fox and Geese Quilt Block

And his little friend gazing up at him from another block:

FIAB Fox 1 Detail

The two quilts side-by-side on my (apparently not-so-straight) fence:


The pattern is available here.

Happy Quilting! …and do come visit again

Doris (& Trina)

From dinosaur to…

…possibly the cutest “up-cycle” project I’ve ever completed.

Over a year ago, I was trying to help my mom sell an entertainment center via craigslist and Facebook. It didn’t fit her new television, so it had been moved to her garage. Well, we couldn’t sell it, we couldn’t even give it away — literally — our local salvage/resale shops won’t take them. So, it became a dinosaur taking up space in my mom’s garage.

But then I saw this, the piece in the before pic is almost an EXACT version of my mom’s dinosaur, shown here:

EntertainmentCenterI sent the pin to my sister and a plan was hatched.

Just before Christmas, we moved the entertainment center from mom’s garage to my garage, and we started painting and remaking it as a surprise for my niece.  We had a lot of fun brainstorming ideas… the sink is a cheap plastic mixing bowl, the faucet is the top of an m&m candy cane that we spray painted, the oven “rack” is a shelf organizer, the burners and stove and faucet knobs are all from the unfinished wood aisle at Hobby Lobby. We used leftover paint from other projects, and  bought kitchen cabinet knobs to use as handles. The inside of the fridge is painted all white, and the shelves are repurposed as refrigerator shelves. The investment in this project in terms of dollars was pretty small.

CollageForBlogWe cut a piece of MDF for the “wall” of the kitchen, my sister didn’t want a cut out (like the Pinterest piece had) in it since it would sit up against the wall in their play area, so I painted an outdoor scene, blue sky with fluffy clouds, flowers and a bunny in the yard, framed it out with 1/2″ trim board for window “mullions”. I also painted a grocery list on the “fridge” door, and a kitty and puppy magnet. (Her grocery list reads milk, juice, candy, bacon — likely a list Zoe would come up with if you asked her what we should buy at the grocery store!)

ZoeKitchen3I made a valance for her “window” out of this yellow Sunkissed fabric by Sweetwater, and trimmed the wash clothes my sister bought for “towels” in the same. The “towel ring” is a plastic scarf ring from Target that I made a little leather holder for. We added cup rings to the opposite wall to hold her utensils.


ZoeKitchen1We moved it fro my garage, over to my sister’s basement play area on New Year’s weekend, while Zoe was napping. When we had it moved it, I went into her room to wake her up, and I carried her downstairs to see her surprise and she woke up in a BIG hurry when she saw it! (Her brothers were just as excited) A few weeks later, I finished the little apron I made her to match–once she tried it on, she wore it the rest of the day!

ZoeApronCollageShe loves her kitchen, our mom loves that it’s not sitting in her garage anymore, and I love that we didn’t have to send it to the landfill. Win-win.

Happy creating,



In early April, I mentioned I was about to start on my first Swoon quilt, a good two years later than most of the quilters I know (I’m always late to the party… but I don’t like making the same thing as everyone else, either). Anyhoo, I started this at a retreat on April 10th — intended as a wedding gift for my oldest stepdaughter, who was getting married May 9th (yes, 2015).

Guess what? I gifted them a FINISHED King-size quilt last weekend! This photo is as close as I could come to a full shot:


The pattern only makes an 80″ square quilt, so I made 16 blocks (instead of the 9 the pattern calls for) and my quilt finished at 105″ square. FULL DISCLOSURE: I did not quilt it myself, the reason it was done in time for the wedding is because my long-arm quilter is awesome and turned it around quickly.SwoonQuilt3

My stepdaughter requested her wedding colors, navy-cream-metallic gold, I had very little navy in my stash (other than prints with other colors in it) so I went shopping for most of these. The centers of the blocks are either the gold birds by Violet Craft (from her Brambleberry Ridge line) or Indigo Natured Dots from Wilmington fabrics. The background is a Cotton & Steel solid, Kerchief. I used three different metallic gold prints for the star points, one by Carolyn Friedlander and two Asian prints. The navys include three Cotton & Steel prints, and some civil war reproduction and navy/white prints by Windham, Michael Miller, RJR and Red Rooster fabrics.SwoonQuilt4The backing fabric is a Dear Stella chevron, with Cotton & Steel Mustang Arrows and Saltines running lengthwise:



The quilting is a computerized design called “Alex”:



SwoonQuilt7It turned out beautifully. It happens to be the first King size quilt I’ve made (the one on my bed was my largest quilt to date and I think it measures 98″ square), and it might be the last. It took many hours to piece these blocks, but by the time you have the top together, that is a lot of fabric and weight to maneuver around the sewing machine table. Not to mention getting the binding sewn on after it is quilted. However, I know this quilt will be appreciated, they both value handcrafted gifts. SwoonQuilt12

Congratulations again to the beautiful couple, may you share many happy years together,


Linking up to Finish-It-Friday...