Category Archives: Quilting

King Sized Dilemma

I am never, ever quilting a king size ever again! Here’s what I’ve been working on while I’ve been in the blogging black hole:

It’s what I’ve been calling “The Practice Quilt.” Here’s the story:

A few weeks back I thought I was ready to start quilting the infamous purple quilt, and I started about 5 straight lines going the length of the quilt. I hated it. It showcased how un-straight everything was. So I ripped it out and knew I wanted to do something besides straight lines. Which meant- gasp!- FREE MOTION! I’ve never done any free motion quilting before so I practiced some stippling on a few big scraps. Well, even after I got the hang of it, I wasn’t convinced I was ready- I mean, I spent a lot of money on that purple quilt- I didn’t want to ruin it! So I decided I needed to practice on something more to scale so I could get the real feel of stippling with the weight of a full sized quilt behind it. Except by full-size I mean king-sized.

We had his huge green fleece blanket that we’ve been using for a few years as our in-between winter and summer blanket. Only, it was fraying at the edges, it collected lots of dog hair, and it wasn’t very pretty. So I decided I needed to cover it, and now I had the perfect idea- not only would I cover it, I’d quilt it and practice stippling on it! So I got to work sewing 16 yards of fabric into a front and back.

I had to spread this thing out in our empty dining room- and it filled the room!!! I basted it and got quilting.

This thing was a beast to quilt! Not only did I have to battle the sheer size of it, the blanket was a very dense fleece– not the fluffy light kind– so it was extremely heavy, too. It made my back hurt and my arms sore pushing and pulling this thing around. Quilting the middle was the worst. After about a week I finished. And vowed to never ever free motion quilt a king size quilt ever again. Ever. Never. Never ever. No way.

BUT- I did kill two birds with one stone. I finally covered this monster blanket after putting it off for a long time (16 yards of fabric sitting on two bolts isn’t the biggest motivator in the world), and I got a ton of practice stippling. So now I think I’m ready to move on to the purple quilt. Soon.

Of course after I finished binding the practice quilt (I feel a little funny calling it a quilt, since it’s not pieced), I washed it and put it on the bed to take some pictures. It didn’t take long for these two bears to join me:

I have to admit, they make it look even snuggly-er.

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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Dogs, Quilting



Back It Up!

Quick post! I put together the backing for the infamous purple quilt.

Now the tricky part: deciding how I’m going to quilt it! If anyone has any suggestions, I’m open to them.  My mom thinks I should dive off the deep end and stipple it- but, since I’m such a newbie, I don’t know.

Here’s what the front looks like, in case you’ve forgotten.

Happy Good Friday! I’m going to spend it cooking and baking with my family. Polish Easter here I come!

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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Quilting



The Eagle Has Landed!

That’s how I feel today, because I can finally reveal a secret project I’ve been working on. Remember when I shared this teaser pic a few months back?

Well, that stack of fat quarters has come a long way…

I made this baby quilt for my friend Anna who is due any day now, and I am so happy I can finally tell you all about it because it got delivered to her house in the mail today and is sitting pretty on baby Lila’s crib. *UPDATE*: I came up with a name for the quilt! It’s “See Jane Stack”= (Nicey Jane fabric + Stacked Coin pattern + “See Jane Run” reference).

I’m pretty proud of this one because it’s the first quilt I’ve made 100% on my own. My mom has had a hand in all the other quilts I’ve made, but this one was all Mindy, start to finish.

I was super excited when I decided to make this quilt for Anna’s baby because baby quilts are just the right size: not too big that they get boring, and not too small to whip through too quickly. My first dilemma was picking out fabrics. Oh the hours I spent on Etsy browsing through fabrics! At first I had a completely different color scheme picked out- buttery yellow, bold red, aqua and gray. I still might use that scheme for another quilt, but after Anna revealed some pics of her nursery on her blog- specifically using the word “pastels” and “vintage-y” I ditched the original plan and made a beeline for Heather Bailey’s Nicey Jane line. At first I only bought the blue/green colors, but after laying some of the fabrics out I decided I needed more contrast in colors, so I purchased a fat quarter of the whole line. Blue, green, pink, orange and yellow florals with a really vintage-inspired look.

Then I had to choose my pattern. I’d been eying some stacked coin quilts and patterns on Etsy and decided there couldn’t possibly be an easier quilt to make- no points/corners to line up! Plus, I liked how modern the pattern looked. So I quickly cut out some 9″ wide coins in varying lengths.

Next came the really fun part- laying the fabrics out and arranging them! I have to admit- one of my favorite things to do is order things by color, so I spent some time just having fun grouping these cute little coins.

I had to decided if there was going to be any pattern to my stacks, so at first I tried out alternating columns of warm/cool fabrics.

That looked okay, but when I just laid out the coins in a random order, I liked that better. So I whipped up four columns.

They came together really quickly. I just guesstimated the length of the columns since I was using coins of all different lengths. So I also liked that this way of doing it eliminated some quilt math.

Then I added in some strips of Kona Ash and presto! I had a quilt top! I like that I chose not to add any gray on the top or bottom- that way the columns stand out more without the block-ish look capping them would have created.

The top ended up just a little bit wider than a standard WOF, so I decided to piece the back. Again, I went with simple straight lines, this time using the strips like bricks. Simple and sweet.

After I sandwiched the quilt top, batting and backing I quilted the whole thing with more straight lines. It was my first time quilting on my own so I wanted to do something easy. Well, this was about as easy as you could get, but I also really liked the look. Each line is about 1/2″ apart. I didn’t mark them, but used my presser foot and needle position as guides, so it came out with a charmingly home-done look.

Finally I took some leftover coins and sewed them together to make a pieced binding. As soon as I was done I ran outside to take a bunch of pictures because I was 100% in love with how it had turned out!

Well, I jumped the gun because the quilt got EVEN BETTER after I washed it and it got that crinkly look.


Here are the things I love about this quilt:

1) 100% made by me! I mathed-out the pattern myself, pieced it, and quilted the thang like one giddy little girl.

2) The modern-yet-homemade look. The fabric is soft and floral, the lines are clean without being store-bought straight. The crinkles are perfect.

3) Using gray instead of white solid. Anna’s nursery walls are gray, so that was the inspiration.

4) How insanely easy and fun it was to put together.

5) How “Mindy” it turned out while at the same time being something I think Anna would really like. I really like her taste in nearly everything, so I was hoping this time it would work backwards.

6) That even though I LOVE this quilt I had no regrets letting it go because I knew it was going to a great home. Anna and her husband Ryan are great people, I know they’ll be great parents and it’s inevitable their baby Lila will be exceedingly and subsequently great as well. Congratulations to these two- Lila’s already got a crowd of adoring fans awaiting her (fashionably late) arrival.

I’ve been on pins and needles waiting for the quilt to arrive at Anna’s house. Isn’t giving a great gift one of the best feelings? Especially after you’ve kept it secret from someone you are bursting to share it with!

So that’s one thing that’s been keeping me busy lately. I’ve also made some progress on the purple quilt, which I hope to post on soon, along with a brag-post about the new-to-me sewing machine my mom generously handed down to me. And, I promise to post on the new job, too. I’m just waiting for it to be official before publishing a big public post. Until then, I’m off to spend Easter weekend with my family in IL. We’re Polish, so it’s going to be epic. Bigger than Christmas. We’re talking homemade horseradish, lamb cakes, fresh polish sausage and leg of lamb. When I get back home I’m going to need to get serious about this mini-marathon training again, and not just so I can finish it- I’m gonna have some Easter weight to shed!


Posted by on April 4, 2012 in Quilting



Spring is on it’s way!

Finnegan has been giving us a bit of trouble lately. Last year we nicknamed him “Houdini”- he’s our little escape artist and loves to put on a show. This dog is really really smart- I’ve seen him testing the fence line to find weak spots and he’s developed a pretty effective strategy for getting out. He digs a shallow hole and then uses his teeth to PRY the chain link fence up. He’s even UNlinked the fence before.

The worst two parts about it are: 1) He prefers to get out after dark, which makes it 1,000 times more scary for me 2) He usually comes back full of mud and in need of a bath.

He doesn’t go far when he escapes- he just sprints and sniffs around a territory of about 5 neighbor’s yards. And he always comes back, but it’s still pretty scary. We’ve tried to reinforce the chain-link by staking it down and putting big rocks down, but nothing works to keep Finn in and our backyard is starting to look like a junk yard.  So Brian and I decided that we’re going to use our tax return money to get an electric fence. Hopefully that will do the trick- I’ll keep you updated.

In other news, this is the first official GARDENING post of 2012!!! Woo Hoo! Spring is just around the corner! The trees and bushes put out buds weeks ago- they are just as confused by all the mild weather as we’ve been. I have some bulbs sprouting in the front yard that I’ve started to check every few days. All this means that it’s about time to get started on my vegetable garden!

I ordered seeds from the same company as last year. You can read last year’s seed post to hear why I chose this company in particular. I didn’t have the best luck with the garden last year: squash bugs and the curly top virus were particularly damaging. I’m going to give heirloom seeds another shot before I give up and go back to Burpee. This year I decided to shop a bit smarter, so I went through the seed catalog and only selected seed that included the phrase “disease resistant” in the description. Hopefully that will make things easier for me this year. I was really disappointed by the ineffective organic pesticides I tried last year, so my goal is to not need them.

Here’s what I purchased: 4 new tomato varieties

2 beans, 1 eggplant and a yellow squash:

I also got this packet of peppers, but plan to use them mostly for decoration rather than eating. These will go on the side of the house, outside of our fence line, so the dogs have 0% chance of eating them.

I also got some flower seeds this year! I’m going to try to make my landscape beds feel fuller by adding some annuals grown from seed. I’m especially excited about those sunflower seeds!

Lastly, I got some different basil seed that promised a bushier plant, with more leaves per stalk.

Now I just have to get a move on starting some of these seeds! Some will eventually get direct-sowed into the ground, but some need to be started indoors to get a head start and produce fruit in time for harvest. Yay for the growing season starting!

Of course I’ve also been doing some quilting. I’ve mostly been working on that secret surprise project that I mentioned, so there’s not a whole lot I can share with you on that. Good news is that it’s a pretty simple project, so I should be able to reveal the secret sooner rather than later.

Since I finished the front of the purple quilt, I moved on to planning the back. One trend I love in modern quilting is the pieced backs, so I decided to give it a try on this quilt. Here’s what I planned out:

As you can see, it’s going to require a good amount of fabric, so I went ahead and ordered some more. I also needed to get some for the border I’m adding to the front. (This is going to be one expensive quilt! Don’t tell Brian.) I got started on the back by piecing together those two strips of blocks you can see in my plan.

I’m pretty excited about this back coming together. My mom told me it’s always a good idea to try something new in each quilt you make. So this time it’s going to be the pieced back and I am going to make my own binding. I am itching for my fabric to arrive in the mail so I have more to work on!

The 1,000 mile challenge is still going, slowly but surely. It was a low mileage week because I had a race yesterday! I ran in the Indianapolis Polar Bear race. It had two races, a 3 mile and a 5 mile, and it had the option to double up and do both. I decided to be a little crazy and do both. So, I “raced” the 3 mile, and ran about 8:20 pace. My friend Sarah ran too and finished about 30 seconds ahead of me. It’s one of my goals to be able to finish a race with her rather than behind her!!! Then, I ran the 5 mile. My 1st mile was ridiculously slow- about 10:10 or so. I hadn’t felt well (nauseous) running the 3 mile, so I started out REALLY conservative. I’d also had about 20 minutes between races, so I was starting out cold again. Since I’d felt so bad during the 3 mile I decided my only goal for the 5 mile was to run at a pace that felt good. Eventually that meant picking up the pace, so each mile I ran got a little faster, and I finished in 47:17. Not my best time for 5 miles, by far, but not bad following up a fast (for me) 3 miles. So here’s where I’m at:

Last, but not least, I might have a new job! It’s not in place of teaching, but in addition. I don’t have all the details yet, so I can’t say too much about it. All I can really say is that I’m excited about it and I’ll know more after Tuesday. To be continued…


Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Dogs, Garden, Quilting, Running


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Ta Da! It’s Magic!


Some little quilt gnomes came and sewed all my rows together! No, not really. It would be pretty amazing if there were magic quilt gnomes though. What really happened is my mother-in-law loaned me one of her sewing machines. Thank goodness, because I was afraid I was really going to stall out waiting for a new machine.

I’m pretty lucky- her Singer is a huge upgrade from my busted machine. It took me a little while to get “settled in” with it… adjusting tension, stitch length, etc. But now I’m obviously cruising! I need to add on the vertical sashing on the sides still, and I want to add a border too. It’s not quite wide enough to drape as far down on the bed as I want it to, so I’m considering just adding this border to the sides and not the top and bottom. I don’t know if I’m “hip” enough for that asymmetry though.

That’s the bed it’s going to go on. Please excuse how completely undecorated and basic this room is. The quilt is going to be the first element of style injected into this guest room. We haven’t put anything but hand-me-downs in here, so it’s not a great looking room yet. I’m hoping to change that in the near-ish future. Hoping is the key word there. We have so much to do in other rooms that get much more use. After nearly three years we still don’t have a dining room table! That is a subject for a completely separate post though… the list of things I’d like to do to our house… sigh. It’s a long list.

Here’s the quilt that’s on this bed currently. I love this quilt so much. If my house were burning down and I only had time to grab like three things, this quilt would be one of them. My mom made it for me and it was one of the first bed-sized quilts she made.

Unfortunately, I haven’t taken very good care of this quilt. Or, maybe I should say this quilt has been loved pretty aggressively:

I feel pretty horribly about all the rips on the top of this quilt. I know exactly how it happened, too. We let Truman on the bed. Lesson in quilt care: sharp puppy nails not only hurt, they will disembowel that priceless quilt on your bed.

My mom is supposed to be making a double wedding ring quilt for me (it’s probably not the last time I’ll mention this fact), and I’m wondering what I’m going to do when (IF?) I get it. I love having my dogs to snuggle with on the bed. Honestly, I’d be okay with kicking Truman off the bed (gasp!) but it makes me sad to think about kicking Finnegan off. He’s just so soft and snuggly.

On another domestic front- last night I made a pretty awesome meal for my Valentine.

I made a whole roast citrus chicken, red wine risotto with peas, and carrot celery root puree. All the recipes were from Giada on the Food Network. I usually love her recipes and these were no exception. We definitely got a full serving of vegetables! I took a few pictures of the cooking process, but I decided not to post them. When you don’t have a very good camera it’s really really really hard to make food look good. In fact, I’d say the photos I took made all my food look pretty unappetizing. Which is frustrating, because not only did the food I made taste really good, it DID look good. Just another reason to get a Digital SLR. If I only had about $500 to spare…

Anyway, these recipes were all pretty simple. I mean, if you don’t mind diligently watching the risotto so it doesn’t scorch and getting out the stick blender to puree those vegetables. Dessert was even easier, since I just went out and bought it, but can you blame me?

Cupcakes from The Flying Cupcake and candies from The Best Chocolate in Town. The candies were 2 caramels, 2 sea salt chocolate caramels, and three truffles: Sun King Weemac (flavored with a brew from a local brewery), Rosemary, and Fiery Pepper. I bought some of these chocolates for Valentine’s Day last year and, man! They do not disappoint. The cupcakes are a little more fun to photograph, though, so here are the stars:

Here Comes the Bride (almond flavored and gigantic)!

Pucker Up. Lemon flavored and very pretty.

Salted Caramel Chocolate. Seriously the best frosting ever.

Irish Car Bomb: Chocolate Guinness cupcake with Irish Cream frosting. Can’t wait to try it.

We did NOT eat all of those treats. I think tonight we’ll finish everything up for sure! I don’t know if Brian should trust me home alone with them until then though…

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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Quilting


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Oh yeah, I have a blog!

Whoopsie Daisy! You might think I’ve not written on the blog because I’ve been incredibly busy… but, you’d be wrong. I don’t know what I’ve been keeping busy with lately, but I haven’t had much to blog about. I stalled out on the purple quilt, but I just got back to it over the last two days. I had to buy a new 12.5″x12.5″ ruler to square off my blocks. I don’t know how it happened, but they were all different sizes! Some needed just about 1/8″ off on one or two sides, but some needed 1/4″ off! It’s not very fun to square off, so I took a long time doing it. Anyway, here’s where I am now:

I have my first row sewn together. This means I decided to add the white sashing in. I draped this row over the bed I want to use the quilt on and somehow it ended up much, much shorter than I originally planned. I must be awful at math or something, because it seems like everything is coming out a surprise for this quilt. To compensate for the shortness I’m going to start thinking up a border. Time to check out all the scraps I made while cutting this fabric and see what I can come up with.

Speaking of fabric, I did get some more. My excuse is that I’m building my stash. Actually, two out of three of my purchases were for specified projects, so only one is to stash away.

I got this fun flannel from Joann’s to use as the backing for the denim quilt. I even got it on an awesome sale- just $2.50/yard! I love all the bright colors. Too bad I have no idea when I’ll even be able to start piecing this quilt together.

This is the fabric I bought just for fun, to stash away. It’s Chez Moi Hunky Dory Garden in Blue Sky and I bought it here. I don’t remember how I found this fabric, but once I did I noticed not very many people had it in stock, so I bought some up before it totally disappears.

My last purchase I can only give you a sneak peek at, because it’s going to become a surprise for someone special.

It’s a fat quarter bundle, but that’s all I’m sayin’. I can’t wait to start on this project!

On the running front, things are going pretty slow. I only ran 10 miles last week because I still felt sick. I think I started running too quickly when I started to feel just a little better, so the cold came back for a second round. I’m starting to get a little worried… if I want to make it to 1,000 miles I have to start running at least 20 miles per week pretty consistently. That’s not too bad if you’re running every day, but I’m taking 2 days a week off (Tues and Thurs, when I teach). So either I’ll have to start upping my miles per run, or I’ll have to suck it up and start running on either Tues or Thurs. In any case, NOT looking forward to the February weather that’s coming our way this weekend. Not at all.

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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Quilting, Running


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Runny Nose & Building Blocks

Am I three again? No, but I have been puttering around the house with a runny nose while I play with my blocks. I’ve been sick the last few days, so the only thing I’ve really had any energy for is quilting. That said, lemme show you the progress I’ve made on my purple & aqua quilt.

We started out here.

Then things started growing…

And things really took off after I figured out a better process: chain sewing a bunch of components instead of doing one block at a time!

And, thanks to two solid days of pity-parties and a bad cold…

It took forever to figure out the layout of all those blocks. I ended up deciding I wanted the blocks I liked the most closest to the center. Sorry the photos aren’t the best quality- my camera stinks at taking pictures inside, and it was rough trying to fit everything in the frame. Truman got pretty bored of me taking pictures…

Or maybe jealous. He figured out how to get my attention though…
Smartie Pants! Trumie really likes this one. Sorry Oso, this one is not going on our bed.

Although I took two days off of running, I got back to it today. Technically I took a sick day off of work, but I guess I shouldn’t have because turns out I felt good enough for a run. It was 57 stinkin’ degrees today- how could I not run?!? The glory of running in a single layer of clothing!!!!!

Here’s something I’ve been liking a lot on my runs:

It’s a Tervis Tumbler that Brian got from one of his athletes. I kinda stole it. In this household we’ve kinda got a use-it-or-lose-it mentality. The reason I really like this is because it holds a lot of water, keeps it cold, AND it fits into the cupholder in the car. AND it has the Bulldog on it. I was using a Nalgene bottle (remember those?) for a long while, but that did NOT fit in the cupholder. Plus, I like sipping out of this lid better.


Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Quilting, Running


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