Offset STAR QUILT

I always knew that one day I’d get into quilting. I didn’t know how it would happen. Because truthfully, the idea of cutting fabric into little pieces and then sewing them back together into crazier formations sounded…too tedious? or unnecessary? to my design brain.
And then quarantine happened.
And we started sewing masks, and masks, and more masks.
And in a weird way, I really enjoyed the monotony and simplicity of sewing hundreds of masks. I liked knowing that whenever I had a few minutes (in between homeschooling and kid life), I could pop into the studio and make a mask or two. I could pick up right where I left off without having to overthink it or remember where I was. And for someone who thrives on feeling productive, this was the perfect kind of pick-me-up.

DUDE. If productivity was a love-language, I’d check that box.


Of course all projects need at break. And after a lot of mask making, I took advice from my friend Amy — who said she was balancing time between service sewing and sanity sewing. I definitely needed some sanity sewing. So I decided to make a quilt!

I spotted this really fun star quilt that my friend Christina was making and her photos just drew me in. Ooooo. That. Is. So. Pretty.
And that was it. A shift happened in me.
Suddenly all I wanted to do was cut fabric and make a quilt!
I wanted to make quilt stars!
And I wanted to make them right now, like the scene from When Harry Met Sally:

When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

I don’t know if I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this quilt….maybe I did? But I wanted the quilting life to start now! Geez guys. Didn’t know I could feel so passionately about quilting. Haah.


So I grabbed the OFFSET STAR QUILT PATTERN (which is FREE!) from Meghan of Then Came June. And you know what’s really funny….during quarantine, Meghan (who is a hard core quilter) took up garment sewing! It was like a Freaky Friday pandemic switch when I saw that she made a shirt, while I was sewing her quilt pattern. I love what this time has done to us.
And I had the perfect Fabric to use!

BUTTERSCOTCH FABRICS

This is my new fabric collection with FIGO FABRICS. Sorry I’ve shared more about it on Instagram than here on the blog. It’s a retro, throw-back collection with butterscotch yellow and 70s vibes, inspired by my grandma’s house growing up. You can see all the designs on the FIGO site. And you can purchase them online and in local quilt shops. Just do an search for “Dana Willard Butterscotch” and you’ll see different shops pop up.
Here are some shops that carry Butterscotch:
Hawthorne Supply Co
Amazon
Fabric Bubb
Etsy shops
Fabric.com

So I started quilting! And piecing things together. I learned to make Flying Geese, the anatomy of a STAR, how to line up and nest seams together.

I discovered that never-ending puzzle of arranging the quilt blocks and realizing that one block just isn’t fitting quite right.

I developed (very small bits) of patience when my iron broke, and I waited for another one to arrive so I could finish my quilt top….and patience again when I decided to take photos in a low-light office building because the wood paneling on the walls was so perfect. But you know, low light = potentially blurry pics. Make it work moments!

And I learned which steps of the quilting process I love most. Clara took this pic of me the day I started cutting out fabric and I’m laughing at the pic after it (when I’m binding the quilt) because I’m wearing the same shirt! Haha. That’s quarantine for you.

I would say that this moment is my favorite—hand sewing the binding in place. I love that peaceful feeling of sitting with a project, no machines attached…especially if I can sit outside. This is my favorite time of day in the evening, sitting by the pool while Casey wrestles in the water with the kids and I can watch from the sidelines. This moment makes me want to sew another quilt!

Aaaaaannnnnnd….
Here you go! The finished quilt!
Oh my gosh, I love this quilt so much. There are flaws and puckers here or there, which gives it personality, right? That’s what I love about a handmade item.

For the quilting on top, I planned to do a diamond grid but once I’d sewn lines in one direction, I loved how it looked with the stars. Almost like they were moving—shooting stars? So I left it at that.

And let’s not forget about the backing. The mid-century chair print from BUTTERSCOTCH! Large scale prints are perfect for the back of a quilt. It’s like two quilts in one. I’m not sure which side I like better??

And then comes a bitter-sweet ending to the quilt story. A few weeks after taking these photos, and sharing the My Heart is Heavy post, I decided to participate in a fundraiser to support Black Lives. I wanted to give something to the cause that was meaningful and personal. I scanned my closet for things I’d made in the past. And then I walked into our front room where I’d placed this star quilt on our couch (it matches our living room so well) and knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to donate my quilt.
I admit, it was hard to give this sweet quilt away! Especially since it represents so much emotion from the quarantine months. And yet that’s why I wanted to share it with someone else. I’m happy to look at these photos and remember this moment in time.

And I guess this just means it’s time to make another quilt! Yay!

VIDEO: How to make a SCRUNCHIE

**Download the FREE SCRUNCHIE TIE PATTERN here**

When you say SCRUNCHIE….
I say HOW HIGH??
Oh my gosh you guys, this project has been years in the making!
I’m so happy to finally share it with you!

I know, I know.  It’s the classic old scrunchie. It’s been DIY’d around the block and back.
But have you made them this way??
I promise, this is the easiest method (and I’ve tried a lot of methods)…and I’ve got fun scrunchie story to share, and a free tie pattern piece to go on your scrunchie. Cause that’s fun. We’re all about fun.

Last summer

Lucy (13 at the time) wanted to learn to make scrunchies (which are fabric hair bands that work for a ponytail, bun, a bracelet? sure) Little did she know that when I was her age, I also learned to make scrunchies! So I brushed up my 13-year-old sewing knowledge and we tried a few different methods till we came up with an easy, but professional method.
Then she and her friend Savannah ran with it, making scrunchies, scrunchies, and more scrunchies. At one point they posted a list on the studio door, making them for whoever wanted one. Looks like Clara signed up for a spris one? (surprise?) I love it.

Lucy spent a couple weeks sewing them, and after a while had a nice pile going…so she decided to sell them! She had signed up for an awesome 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. (which would have happened in June, but due to Coronavirus was put on hold. Fingers crossed it happens in 2021). We said that she needed to earn half of the money for the trip, so she spent last summer babysitting, cutting fabric for a friend (that was a sweet job), and selling scrunchies!

It was really cool to see her figuring out the process, realizing how much time goes into homemade items, and then coming up with a price point. She landed on 1 for $3, or 2 for $5. Such a great learning experience for her (and for me…offering bits of input and aspects to consider, while trying not to helicopter and letting her wiggle through the details).

THEN REWIND 30 YEARS

The whole thing came full circle…when I told Lucy that when I was 13, I sold scrunchies too!
Whaaaa? Yep. That’s me below, squinting in sun, in a shirt two sizes too big, scrunchie in my hair, and looking a bit like Lucy (though I always think my kids look so much cuter today then I looked at their age. Like they’ve already figured out “styles” more than I had? Haah. But who knows…they’ll probably feel like me one day).

So, when I was in 7th grade, my best friend Christi and I (pictured above in a funny car for theater class. Pretty sure we both had perms)….well Christi lived across the street and she and I started a scrunchie-making business. We had so much fun making them and figuring out the best fabrics. We sold them for $1 each. AND, we totally made a little swatch book! Before I even knew what a swatch book was, and back when dot handwriting was awesome. Oh my gosh, it’s so funny to look at this little book (I’m dying that our ESPRIT shirts match the paper colors of the book. Haha) We had categories for “solid” fabrics and something called “design material”. If I could only look to the future and imagine designing fabric one day!

OK. READY TO SEW SCRUNCHIES???

– Watch my detailed video below or HERE ON MY CHANNEL.
– Download the free TIE PATTERN PIECE HERE.
– And for future reference, here’s a short list of instructions:

HOW TO MAKE A SCRUNCHIE:

• CUT 1 piece of fabric – 3.5″ x 24″ (9 x 61 cm)
• CUT 1 piece (3/8″ wide) elastic – 6.5″ (16.5 cm)
• Press the last two inches of each side, of each end, under 1/4 inch (see video) I know that sounds confusing, but it’s not if you watch the video. Basically you’re prepping the seam allowance area for a later step.
• With right sides of fabric together, sew into a long tube using 1/4″ seam allowance (do NOT sew the pressed areas).
• Turn right-side out.
• Bring pressed areas0–with right sides of the fabric together–and sew.
• String elastic through using safety pins.
• Sew ends of the elastic together with zigzag stitch.
• Sew opening closed using a straight stitch, very close to the edge of the fabric.
DONE!

ADD A TIE:

• CUT 2 pieces from the pattern.
• Sew them with right sides together, leaving a 1.5 inch opening.
• Turn right side out, and sew the opening closed with a top stitch.
TIE IT ONTO YOUR SCRUNCHIE!

HOW TO MAKE A SCRUNCHIE VIDEO:

Hit the play button below (or watch it on my channel here):

Sewing machine recommends

Many people have learned to sew these last few months–with the necessity of wearing face masks in public–and it makes me so happy! You guys have asked for a good entry level sewing machine recommendation. So in this video, I intentionally used a fantastic machine called JOY, so you can see it in action.
The JOY machine is part of the Baby Lock Genuine series, which are all great machines to start with (I also have the Brilliant machine and have worked with Baby Lock for years, as you know from my videos). Typically Baby Locks are sold in retail shops, but you can buy online on this site and read reviews, which is helpful (affiliate link).

Okay. Happy scrunchie sewing!….and sewing, and sewing.
I predict a little handmade business in your future.

my heart is heavy

Hi friends.
My heart is heavy, as most of yours are.

I have so much to say, and have felt all ranges of emotions. And yet at times I feel paralyzed to move and speak, and to share sewing projects again. We all process emotion and life experience in different ways. I am only speaking to my own experience and this is not meant to judge others and their platforms. For me, I don’t feel ready to share projects I’ve made and to be the bubbly person that I typically am, when inside I feel saddened for our country, and for our Black sisters and brothers, and for the world, and for the complex discussion of police brutality, the police force, the justice system, and the overall system that we have set up in this country.

I have had a new video sitting in my channel queue for two weeks, just waiting for me to hit “publish” but it feels insignificant and dishonest to my emotions right now to share that. What does feel honest is to speak to this moment and how I am feeling. My site and brand is a place for creative arts and I know I’ll know when it feels right to share that with you again…and maybe this post is more of a journal entry to myself as I type this out. I truly believe that writing down our thoughts and speaking them out loud are a great way to formulate what we think and believe. So I want to speak out loud here.

What happened to George Floyd is appalling. It was wrong. It was brutal.

I will say again what I spoke to in my instagram post this week.
Black lives matter to me.

This moment is about talking specifically about the Black community and understanding how the system we have set up has many inequities.
It’s a complicated topic. It has hundreds of years of layers upon layers that can’t be answered in a few posts, or in a few weeks. And I don’t think anyone thinks that it can be. But when I hear things like real racism was in the past, or I can’t believe anyone is still racist, or I don’t know any racists. I know those statements don’t reflect the world we live in. Racism exists in all cultures. And racism against our Black sisters and brothers still exists today. I’m sure I have said and done things that have perpetuated this and I am learning to understand and change that.

It can feel overwhelming when a problem is so large that we think, how can I help? What can I do? Everyone comes at this from different angles and life perspectives. Some choose to donate money to organizations that promote anti-racism, some have been quietly doing outreach work in minority communities for years, some help take action by speaking up on their social media platforms which have a large reach, some don’t personally know a Black person or person of color in their day to day life and are trying to internalize that and think how they can help make a change. It’s so very complicated. Even writing this post feels complicated, and yet it doesn’t.

It feels like now is the time that we can have these really hard conversations—or at least I hope it is. That we can create open dialogue to truly, really talk about how we have arrived at this point, to discuss history, to look at data and numbers in different communities to understand what is happening. To consider where we have or haven’t evolved. It’s a time to share our feelings and emotions from all sides, because emotions are relevant too, they are part of our human experience.

Validating someone’s experience is a huge first step toward change. When I listen to the heartbreaking stories from our Black sisters and brothers (and other groups in our country) it shifts my perspective. It helps me understand what it’s like to walk in some else’s shoes. Isn’t that where the path to empathy starts? Understanding someone else’s viewpoint and validating their experience? I know that’s how I feel when I share my stories with others. I want to be heard. I want others to say Yes. That’s real. I can understand why you feel that way.

There are many stories, podcasts, articles and information that have been shared these last few weeks, with personal accounts of how racism still exists in our communities.
If you’re not sure where to start:
This article written by a Black man who grew up in a predominantly white community is very perspective-shifting. I shared it with my siblings and parents last week and it really hit a nerve, as I could see myself in many of his stories and internalized how I can do better. I highly recommend the article, Reflections from a Token Black Friend, by Ramesh A Nagarajah.

• And If you would like a very open-minded podcast discussion about this current moment, data points, how to have open dialogue, and racism, I highly recommend the podcast episode Can We Pull Back From The Brink, on the Making Sense podcast by Sam Harris. I have listened to his podcast for years and really appreciate his thoughtful analysis of life. He has an ability to speak up on both sides of the issues and point out the real problems.

So where does racism exist?
Some racism is blatant and obvious and seen on horrible videos and through hateful words. Some racism exists in the inequities of opportunities for the Black community in education and jobs. Some of it is seen in the fine-line verbiage of laws and amendments that exist in our country’s framework.
And some of it exists within us.

It’s hard to read these things and look inside and ask how we can improve.
We can start by asking ourselves some of these questions:
– When telling a story, do I mention someone’s race when it is irrelevant to the story?
– Are there phrases I say that have racial undertones, that I’ve never considered and could stop using?
– Do I have biases that I frame people by without even knowing it?
– Do I point out all the mistakes someone else has made without considering all perspectives that have led to them being in that situation?
– Can I give people the benefit of the doubt?

That last one is huge. SO huge.
THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT.

This is something that I truly try to live my life by. And I am far from perfect. I mess up all the time, and discuss with my husband, and try to see things differently. This entire post is part of a self-introspection for me, while also speaking to the topic.

It seems that lately we are quick to assume the worst of each other. When we see someone on the opposite political spectrum from us, we size them up. And we assume they embody all of the bigoted, or ultra woke things that we think the other side is. We spout off things like:
Religious people are crazy.
Liberals are insane.
Why are we so quick to put each other in boxes?
When we know in real life that we are complex humans with fluid ideas and evolving thoughts?

We’ve allowed little room for people to sit in different places of a discussion at once, or room for each of us to change. We’re in a cat and mouse game of “gotcha” moments, trying to cancel and call each other out. And social media complicates all of it. We have stopped researching and looking deeper into a story or issue before we simply reshare or retweet, or before we consider someone’s tone in a post or tweet (which is hard to do in social media). We have stopped giving people and stories the benefit of the doubt.

The truth is, we are complex humans. We are layered.
Some good people have bad parts and make horrible mistakes, and some bad people have good parts and can show compassion. It’s complicated, and then it’s not.

This quote by Anthony Bourdain really struck me this week:
“I used to believe that the human race as a whole was basically a few steps above wolves. That given the slightest change in circumstances, we would all, sooner or later, tear each other to shreds. That we were, at root, self-interested, cowardly, envious and potentially dangerous in groups. I have since come to believe…after many meals with many different people in many, many different places…that though there is no shortage of people who would do us harm, we are essentially good.

That the world is, in fact, filled with mostly good and decent people who are simply doing the best they can. Everybody, it turns out, is proud of their food (when they have it). They enjoy sharing it with others (if they can). They love their children. They like a good joke… Sitting at the table has allowed me a privileged perspective and access that others, looking principally for ‘the story,’ do not, I believe, always get.

People feel free, with a goofy American guy who has expressed interest only in their food and what they do for fun, to tell stories about themselves…to let their guard down, to be and to reveal, on occasion, their truest selves… People, wherever they live, are not statistics. They are not abstractions… I’m not saying that sitting down with people and sharing a plate is the answer to world peace. Not by a long shot. But it can’t hurt.” – Anthony Bourdain

If we could start by giving someone the benefit of the doubt, and realizing that we have more in common, than not…we could go a lot further as humans.

And the other beautiful part of that point, is that it’s never too late to change who we are and to improve. If you have felt yourself pushing back, or have made mistakes that you aren’t proud of in this discussion, that doesn’t need to define you. We are all evolving.
And speaking up, or saying you’re sorry, or trying to help change your own heart is always welcome. Are we going to continue making mistakes on all sides of the discussion? Yes. Can we give people the benefit of the doubt? Yes. I hope so. If you are working from  your heart, from a place of love, the goodness will show through. There is space for all of us.  At least that’s a dream most of us hold.

This was a long post.
And a bit rambling.
But thank you for letting me write this down and share.
As I said earlier on here, writing down your thoughts is powerful. I have done this many times with my own thoughts on religion and it has helped me really sort out what I think and feel.

I encourage anyone who’s heart weighs heavy right now to write down their thoughts, to speak it out loud. You don’t need to be a “writer” to share your perspective and voice. Speak what’s inside of you.

Lots of love to all of you.
Lots of love our Black brothers and sisters right now.