Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 - it's a wrap!

This morning, just as the sun was rising, Hubby and I stood bundled up at the finish line for a local  race watching the runners come in. And then we saw her.... 
Ally completed her first 5K this morning with a big smile on her face and a hard earned medal around her neck. Suddenly, anything I had accomplished this year totally paled in comparison. This girl had the biggest victory of all of us and I'm so proud!

If you don't know Ally's story, she shared some of it here and in other posts on The Unbroken Smile where she is a contributor. My girl is a warrior!

It seems most of my finishes were smaller items this year. I am pretty proud of my mini quilt finishes...
I had minimal big quilt finishes...
I did make TWO of those blue plus quilts, so that's something, right?
And lots of "things"  and bags got made....
Bee blocks were tons of fun!

For the record, I recently completed TWO large quilt tops and sent them off to the quilter, so I'll have a good jump start on 2016, right? 

It's been fun sharing with you here. Can't wait to see what we all come up with in the coming year! Happy New Year friends.

January Calendar Page

Whew, where the heck did 2015 go? I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a fresh start! I hope you'll journal along with me in 2016. Here's a January calendar journal page you can download for free. 

I hope you'll share with me how you get creative with your calendar journal this year! Happy New Year friends!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas flashback

I'd like to share my favorite Christmas present with you! It's from my mom... sort of. Actually I originally gave it to her years ago and this Christmas she sent it back to me! It's this lovely group of carolers...

There was always crafting going on at my house when I was a child. In the early 70s (the Santa in the back is dated 1974, painted by Mom) Mom painted beautiful ceramic pieces. Of course I decided I needed to try it too! I loved these sweet carolers and their puppy. I have never had a steady hand for painting (as evidenced in the black lines on the first sweet girl's skirt) but I did my best. Hey, I was in my early teens after all! (not that I could do any better today. Ha.) Also, I confess that I refused to paint the faces. They totally intimidated me! Mom did those for me.

Anyways, these singers, complete with my initials on the bottom, have come to live with me in Texas and I will be so thrilled to pull them out every Christmas and remember my crafty childhood years.

Did you craft when you were a child?

Friday, December 25, 2015

last minute Christmas make

When I saw the mug rug Debbie was making (here on her blog) I knew I had to make one for Ally for Christmas!
the red cup pattern is free on Craftsy and it's a great one! Ally is a big Starbucks fan (who am I kidding, so is her mom) and she loved this as much as I thought she would. This would make a terrific gift for a girlfriend with a Starbucks gift card or a new mug, don't you think?

Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

one last gifty make

Kristyne over at Pretty By Hand designed an adorable Christmas mini and offered up this pattern for free! Never mind that it is three days before Christmas, I decided I really had to make one for a friend I'll see tomorrow. 
 Gosh this was a fun and quick little make! I took some liberties with mine, quilting in (just a few straight lines) in a traditional way and adding binding, and leaving off the ribbon borders (which look adorable on hers but frankly I didn't have anything that worked in my stash and I was too lazy to head to the store!)

I used a piece of subtly striped natural linen that I had picked up at Purl Soho in NYC earlier this year and quilting cottons from my stash. There is a white grunge cuff at the bottom of each hat but it doesn't show too clearly in the photo. Also, I dug in my button bin for a variety of old shirt buttons and I love the effect! 

I still have a couple of days left, what else shall I make? Kidding (I think!). 

Friday, December 18, 2015

what to do with a thimble

I couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be given several old metal thimbles. Having seen this tutorial I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them! Add a ring and chain, some felt scraps, poly stuffing and some straight pins and just like that, I had gifs for some friends! 
They were so much fun to make. I couldn't stop at one...
Are you still making Christmas treats?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

a Christmas forest

I've been having fun making up some mini quilts lately for gifts. When I saw Amy Smart (Diary of a Quilter)'s  tutorial for fun little improve Christmas trees I had to give it a go. I used all fabric from my stash and (of course!) mixed some turquoise blues in with my red and green...
My little quilt measures 8 1/2" X 13" and I straight line quilted it on my domestic machine. What a fun little project! I have a feeling there will be more little trees in my future! This one will make a perfect hostess gift for a friend this coming weekend, don't you think?

Monday, December 14, 2015

happy mail from down under

A couple of weeks ago I got a wonderful package in the mail from my blogging friend Maria. She always spoils me at the holidays. This beautiful Christmas table runner fits perfectly on my front hall table and I love it there! The Anni Downs fabrics are perfect. Maria knows how much I love her designs.
Maria also made me a fantastic Christmas bunting. I tried to get a picture of the whole thing but
for some reason it won't load to my blog post. Here are two up-close photos of each end of the bunting. They showcase my favorite fabrics in the whole thing.... koalas & kangaroos of course!

I love it so much! Thank you Maria! You're so special to me!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

odds and ends

Between secret projects (it's that time of the year!), & busy days (again, it's that time of the year) I haven't had a lot to share here. I did finish up a Lola Pouch to gift to a friend on her birthday...

Today I put together this awesome spider web block. a bee block for my pal Joy. This was really fun. Added a new technique to the arsenal. I can't wait to see a whole quilt made up of these blocks!
also, it didn't even make a dent in my scrap bin, oh well!

And because I've been feeling overwhelmed with a long to do list and the holidays zooming upon us, I started a new crochet project. As we do. I decided to try out the groovy ghan pattern and it's really easy and cool. I'm having a little trouble keeping the side edges even, but I figure a good border will cover that up in the end. Using scrap yarn on this one...

I hope you're having a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

December calendar journal

During crafty Tuesday this week, I created my December calendar journal page (kinda last minute, but HEY! I got it done.) Often, when I post my calendar journal on Instagram, people ask me where I get the blank calendar pages to decorate and journal on. I always think that's funny, because I draw them myself. Let's face it folks, I really can't draw! They are always pretty simple and straightforward. I draw them in pencil first, then I trace over with a fine black sharpie marker. There's lots of erasing involved too!
I hope you like my little Christmas tree forest!

I got to thinking, I could share my blank pages with you here, then if you want to you can journal along. I figured I'd start in January. In fact, I got the first 5 months of next year drawn and ready. Then I thought, heck, why not share my December page with you. You're only a couple of days behind. You can remember what you've done since Tuesday, right? I thought so.

Just click on the link below and it will take you to a pdf version of my December calendar journal that you can download and print....

December 2015 calendar journal

I  usually use colored markers to write in the highlights each day. List the projects you worked on. Or you could write something you're grateful for. Or draw a little picture. I often doodle in color around my entries and color in the letters for the month. You could use colored pencils or even crayons. Whatever you have will work.  Skies the limit.

So unleash your inner child and journal along with me, won't you? If you're on Instagram (I am) post your calendar journal as you go and use the hashtag #ellynsplace won't you? Then we can all get ideas from each other! It'll be fun.

I'll post new pages the first of every month in 2016.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

crafty Tuesday

I haven't posted a crafty Tuesday update in a while! We are still going strong on the first Tuesday of every month. The group is always evolving and changing and I love it! Today we had our annual Christmas lunch & an ornament exchange. Some of our regulars were not able to be here, but six of us gathered to swap.

as usual, Lexi managed to join the photo shoot!

Mahriam's daughter joined us for the first time & I was the lucky recipient of her beautiful ornament.....
and in a strange twist of fate, she received mine! One of these guys (the other two are destined for other homes)...
Such a fun day! I hope you did something crafty today.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Tree skirt

In my never ending quest to turn all things aqua, I have finished up a new tree skirt for our Christmas tree!
I used this fantastic pattern,  which my friend Melissa, from My Fabric Relish offers for FREE in her Craftsy shop. It just so happened that the day I was searching for a pattern (perfectly willing to pay!) Melissa posted a  link to hers on her instagram account. Fate? Maybe so!

In my usual fashion, I followed the instructions loosely! Ha! I will tell you, I do not have a dresden ruler, but Melissa's instructions for measuring and cutting the wedges are PERFECT! My friend Sandy quilted it for me (I briefly considered just stitching in the ditch but when Sandy said she had time to do an overall motif on it for me I was thrilled!). Most of the changes I made were in the way I did my binding and the fact that I only included one tie in the back...

So now my aqua and red tree is fully dressed and I'm so happy! Last year I pulled the ornaments together but time ran out on me and I bunched some sparkly stuff up underneath as a poor excuse for a tree skirt. This is so much nicer, don't you think?

Are you decorating for the holidays yet?

Thursday, November 26, 2015


My close friends all know that I'm a huge fan of gratitude. I preach thankfulness whenever possible and try to live my life to reflect how very thankful I am. Gratitude comes easily for me, in good times and in bad, thanking God for all of my blessings makes my life so sweet. Every day I am thankful for a husband who loves me, supports my crazy ideas, washes the dishes and is one of the finest human beings to walk the earth. And the three fabulous, ambitious, energetic, curious, intelligent children he & I made together! This year I am especially thankful for a God who heals, for doctors who restored so many in our family to good health. For my mom & dad who have shown us what true love looks like. For family and friends near and far.

I'm thankful for Crafty Tuesday, the McKinney Modern Quilt Guild & all of the wonderful, creative people who feed my soul. And for you... for going along with me on this wonderful, creative journey. May you and your family be especially blessed this Thanksgiving day.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Intrepid thread challenge

In September I signed up for a fabric challenge over at Intrepid Thread. By the time the fabric came I had forgotten all about it! Ha. The fabric sat on my table for quite a long time waiting for me to be inspired. Suddenly, yesterday, I knew what I wanted to do! 
I worked all day and this little pillow came to life! I made a patchwork background from the mini charm pack we received, then used the other 2 fabrics to appliqué some orange peels. I had cut enough orange peels to do every square, but when I started to edit, and remove some, I liked it better! Sometimes less is more. 

I had enough cotton and steel fabric to do the back, with a little binding of the arrow fabric and a touch of ricrac peeking out, because, RICRAC! duh!
I wasn't sure where I'd put it, I mean, aqua goes ANYWHERE, right? But the pink was throwing me off. Then I put it on the living room chair for a photo op and it looked so awesome there with my Spice of Life afghan! So, I do believe that's where it will stay. For now....
Perfect spot to curl up with a good book I think!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A blouse for me (or not)

A while ago, I picked up Simplicity pattern 1013 . I had seen it on Instagram and really liked the different options in the pattern. This past week, I made one up, using a lightweight denim and a DS cotton print from Joanns.  I changed a couple of things, like leaving off the sleeve cuffs and adding french seams to prevent major denim fraying! It came out so cute!

and back
I love the way the back contrasts & dips down, so cute with leggings or straight jeans! Could be worn as a jacket over a tank or t-shirt or buttoned up as a blouse. There was only one problem.

Even though I made the top according to my measurements, it's too small. Boo. So I'll be passing it along to a friend. Maybe I'll make another in a larger size, as I really do like the look! So if you decide to try out this pattern, I suggest you really evaluate the sizing carefully.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Christmas circle quilt

About a month ago, my pal Mahriam over at Three Owls Handmade finished up her "tiny scrappy circle mini quilt" and I absolutely fell in love with it! In fact, I tried to steal it when she brought it to our last Crafty Tuesday gathering but she didn't fall for it. darn. So, I set out to make my own. And, because I never do anything according to the directions, I made a few revisions. First off, my circles are a tad bigger than hers (about 1 1/4" diameter). I traced the circles onto heat & bond lite, fused them onto my fabrics and then cut them out....
that aqua snowman makes me giggle. 
I cut 144 in total. Also, I decided to make mine a Christmas circle quilt. I selected all fabrics in reds, greens & aquas (I later added in some gray). Many of the fabrics are holiday fabrics, others are just fun fabrics that fit in with the colors I wanted.
I had a light gray solid on hand and I liked the way it looked as a background. I squared it up and pressed it well. Then I began laying out and fusing my circles. I used a ruler to keep them straight(ish).  I laid them out in a 12 x12 grid and fused them well. I must confess, a few began to lift away from the fabric when I started to quilt. I did go back and glue some of them down with fabric glue. Most of the circles did fuse and stay well attached.

Mahriams circles were tinier than mine. Also she had way more of them than I do! But I am quite happy with my layout...
Goldilocks is making an appearance in all of my projects lately!
I began quilting in a organic (that's code for "not perfectly straight and I don't care") grid with light gray thread. Bound it up with a gray herringbone print and I love it! Is it too early to begin hanging Christmas decor? Because this baby is going on the wall very soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

bee blocks

This was my month to receive bee blocks from our Sew Bee It bee in the McKinney Modern Quilt Guild. I chose the Flower Box Quilt Block made with this tutorial by Lori Holt at Bee in my Bonnet. I gave everyone the gray for the center and a suggested color pallette of aquas, reds & greens (shocker! I know.) These are the blocks I received last Tuesday....
I still have a few more blocks to collect and I think I will make some more to add to them. Aren't they fun?

Speaking of fun, this month is Chris's turn. She has requested Mondrian inspired improv blocks. When I read this, I had to immediately google Mondrian as I didn't have a clue! Upon seeing Mondrian's awesome work, I immediately grabbed my graph paper and pencils and started recreating some of his work on paper. Ummmm, Ellyn? Chris clearly said IMPROV! oh boy. This was going to be harder than I thought!

I set my sketches aside, grabbed the fabric Chris had provided and set to work. And guess what? It was more fun than I expected! Before I knew it, I had 2 blocks done & ready to pass on to Chris at our December meeting.
I love being challenged. And this, well it certainly qualifies as a challenge! I can't wait to see what my bee mates come up with and how Chris puts this all together!

Monday, November 9, 2015

sewing room swap received

I want to share the wonderful goodies I received in Stitched With Love's sewing room swap on Friday. Lisa made me this awesome scrap catcher/pin cushion to keep near my machine. The fabrics & colors are so perfect in my space. She even embroidered my name on the front! It's wonderful.
Look at the awesome spot to keep my scissors handy. Genius! The scissors were included in my goodies from Lisa....
In fact she included lots of goodies..... rainbow binder clips, a seam ripper, post its, handmade labels, glass head pins and these adorable decorative pins...
And this fantastic scrabble tile/ quilt block necklace. she didn't even know that I'm a big scrabble fan as well as a quilter!
Thank you for all of the wonderful treats Lisa! They're perfect!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sewing room swap

I love participating in the swaps at Stitched With Love! This week was our second swap and so far the people I've been given to sew for have been people I know a little bit, but not a lot & it's so much fun to learn more about them! This time we made items for each other's sewing space. I got to sew for Dusty, a young woman who is in our Modern Quilt Guild.
all of the goodies I made for Dusty
Dusty has very different taste in fabric from me which was so much fun for me. She said that her sewing space is small, that she preferred functional items over decorative and that the colors were primarily purple and black. Also, she indicated a liking for sugar skull fabric (among other things!) That was all I needed to be off and running!

I made her a simple sewing machine cover with ties on the sides and a fabric basket to hold all of her goodies (and maybe to keep fat quarters or small patterns in later on?)
Lee Monroe's little pin cushions were popping up all over instagram so I decided to make one of those too. I love the little pockets on the sides! It's an awesome free pattern, one I know I'll be making again and again!

I have had a Simplicity pattern for this little mug apron for years and never made it before. My friend Annie made me one years ago and it's the single most useful thing in my studio, I kid you not! So many little pockets to keep things right where they belong. It was a fun and easy make. I hope Dusty finds it useful too!

I hope she will think of this last item as functional rather than decorative! I purchased this little chalkboard at the craft store, added the scrabble letters and purple ribbon and included a chalk marker in her goodies. I love keeping my to do list visible on a chalkboard in my studio.

I can't wait to share with you what I received in the swap!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Birthday bag for a friend

My blogging friend Maria and I have been exchanging crafty birthday gifts for several years. The last couple of years, we've chosen a theme. This year we decided to make each other tote bags. Way back in February she sent me a wonderful embroidered bag. Well this week it was Maria's birthday! And now that she's opened up her gift, I can finally share what I sent off to Australia several weeks ago.

I'm not sure if this is the back or the front of the bag! Ha! I used the Tahiti Tote pattern, which I've made before and just love. I decided to take part of a Row by Row pattern that I had picked up this summer and make a big splash on the plain side of the bag. Maria loves to go to the beach with her friends to take a swim & I thought this would be a great summer bag for her. 

One thing I love about this pattern is the awesome pocket on the front. It's a combination slip pocket & zipper pocket, the perfect spot for a cell phone and keys.

This bag zips closed on the top too, so nothing can fall out. 

Happy Birthday Maria!