Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Dog Gone Cute QAL Blog Hop

Hello everyone!! Today is my day to share what I made for the Dog Gone Cute QAL. Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts designed this darling pattern and I just happened to have a dog lovin' little boy that needed a new quilt! Lorna's pattern has a ton of different options for the blocks--2 sizes, and dogs with ears up and down, one eye patch, two eye patches or none. It's a pretty amazing pattern!

The boy you see pictured above with cute smile is Ryan. He is my most difficult customer. He has a very directive style when he wants something, and especially when it comes to quilts. And especially when it came to this quilt. I started making the 18" blocks at first, and then things were getting a little out-of-hand--

"No mom, that's not the right blue".

"Mom, I wanted him to have one green ear, and one orange ear".

"That block should have been gray with a blue dog, and the other block should have been blue with a rainbow christmas tree fabric dog with vampire teeth."

While I suffered through the insanity of his choices I did make myself one little dog block in Hello Darling Fabric to soothe my desperate desire to make something girly (and a little less radical)...

So then, after a few crazy blocks Ryan decided he wanted a BIG DOG.  I was secretly thankful! Don't get me wrong; I have no problem making a dog quilt with cowboys, trucks, and Christmas tree fabric, but there's a point when you just got to question his sense of style;)

So I enlarged the pattern to make a big dog quilt. I got Ryan to compromise on colors (score!) and I chose a very manly plaid flannel for the backing. I basted it and started quilting it, but it was the first time I've ever used flannel and there were...complications. The plaid kept bunching up in the back, so I unpicked it and am attempting it a second time.

When I was trying to take a photo of the quilt top, the dogs (Sugar (the golden retriever), and Pepper (the boxer)) actually just barreled through the neighbors yard where the fence was being painted, got paint all over them, and then tried to jump up and eat the quilt. So, we managed to save the quilt, keep the dogs still for a few minutes (before Sugar wandered off--see below), and made a little boy happy:) That's a win in my book!

Make sure you check out all the other #Doggonecuteqal quilts on Instagram and see the other blog hoppers at Sew Fresh Quilts!!!

Sunday, 27 September 2015


Hey guys, it's been awhile. Okay, so where did we leave off? Oh yes, I was just getting ready to leave England...

Well, we made it safely to America and set out on our ultimate family vacation. I had been saving up, and bought something I wanted for a long time--a camper. Every quilter wants a camper, right? I can tell you from experience this is not something you want to do unless you know EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT OWNING A CAMPER BEFORE YOU SPEND THE MONEY!!! I'm not saying that buying a camper was the WORST decision ever, but it wasn't exactly like imagined either:)

I envisioned that we would all be laughing and roasting marshmallows, wearing flannel and fleece like in and Old Navy commercial (and in my imagination we were all in Technicolor), and setting out on a picturesque American adventure across beautiful landscapes, hiking through lush forests, and relaxing beside peaceful lakes. The reality was most of the time it involved our RV shoved in between other RVs on a tiny, unscenic campground, with all of us dodging the bugs and heat, shutting ourselves inside, fighting for space and griping because there was no internet. Truly postcard material:)

We traveled 2,000 miles in that camper, and lived in it for two months!!! And anyway, I just wanted to let you know what I learned from my experience so you won’t go into it being as naïve as I was.

1) You need to be a camper if you want to buy a camper!

I have a confession: it's been a very, very long time since I went camping before this experience. I liked the idea of camping, and I jumped into this whole thing head-first, riding waves of optimistic expectations. But what I should’ve done is take my kids camping in a tent first. That would have saved me money, and actually it would have forced us to get out and do the hiking and cookouts, and everything else. Because if you’re not a camper to begin with, having an RV is a comfortable (well, sometimes) great excuse to not enjoy the outdoors. We did go outside a lot, and we did the cookouts, and played games, but everyone was quick to run back inside. I think an RV should be used for sleeping, and the rest of the time you should be experiencing nature. But when you have air-conditioning and TV, it is hard to get everyone motivated to go on a hike when it was blazing hot. Buying a camper may hinder your camping experience because you may fall into the stay-inside-and-wait-it-out trap.

2) Get ready to work!

We bought a 32 foot pull behind camper/trailer, and I can't tell you how much work it was!! Hitching it up, driving it around, getting it into the RV spot, unhitching, leveling the trailer, hooking up the sewer/water/electricity was ALOT OF WORK and takes a lot of time. This was my husband's #1 gripe about this whole process. It took at LEAST an hour from the point where we found a spot to get everything working and ready, but that was under ideal conditions. Just know that a pull-behind is more work than you might be willing to put into it. And that reminds me....

3) Let it sit

On our roadtrip, we stayed in most locations overnight or a couple of days, and that didn’t give us any time to set out and explore the area we were in. It seemed like most of the trip was driving, setting up, and tearing down camp. I think a camper would be much better for an extended weekend in one spot rather than constantly on the road.

4) Get a good hitch

Hitches are SO important. You might wonder why, but you want to make sure that when you're driving down the road the wind doesn't grab your trailer and flip your truck, the trailer, and everyone inside over in the vehicle. Anti-sway hitches are a MUST! If you decide to buy a pull-behind camper I would recommend buying the best hitch you can afford. We made an hour drive on a crappy cheap hitch and I was almost in tears because the trailer was fish-tailing uncontrollably, and every time an 18-wheeler passed us we almost went off the road. It was terrifying. Other options are to 1) Get a smaller camper 2) Get a Fifth Wheel--this is one of those campers that sit on the bed of the truck 3) Get a motorhome RV and just drive without the worry

5) Find RV Parks BEFORE you set out!

When we first hitched up the camper and were driving out on our extended road-trip, I thought we would simply find a State Park or RV park and all would be well. Not so. Parks fill up quickly, especially good ones or ones that are along major routes or highways. It was harder to find a campground than a hotel room. However, I found an app called “Allstays Camp and RV” that helped me find all the parks in the area where we planned on stopping. The app includes reviews of campgrounds, prices, website information and phone numbers. The app also tells you where the local Wal-Marts are in case you want to park at one overnight (check with Wal-mart first because not all of them allow this). The app became indispensable for me, but it was pricey for an app--around $9.00.

6) What to look for in RV park

We stayed at a couple of campgrounds that were amazing, a couple that were pretty good and a few that were pretty scary. When you’re searching for a campground look at the reviews!! Learn from other travelers’ experience and leave reviews for other travelers so they’ll know where to go and where to stay away from. Some other things you want to pay attention to are:

Try to find campgrounds with pull-through spots. Backing up a trailer is time-consuming and frustrating. We were so relieved when we found places that had parking spots we could pull right into and out-of. Many parks have them, but some parks only have a limited number, so reserve ahead of time.

Make sure to find a campground with full hook-ups. Because of poor planning we had to stay at a few places without water or sewer or both, and let me tell you, it’s hard having three kids and no water! Some places you’ll have to share water with a neighboring camper, and some places have a drive-thru sewer dump (gross right?), but to make your life easier just find a place where you can get all of that on your site.

Also, make sure the place you choose will support your electricity needs. RVs are either 30amp or 50amp. Ours is a 30, but in one nightmarish afternoon in the blazing heat of Texas we spent several hours trying to get the camper into a RV spot (when we first got it), only to learn that there was no outlet for 30amp. I thought my husband was going to go crazy!

You should also know that many RV parks have sites very close together—you could literally be a few feet away from the next RV. It’s very hard to feel like you’re getting the best possible camping experience when you have a wall of RVs lined up in your view, and your neighbor is staring at you through their blinds just inches away:) Try to find a place that offers some space and privacy between sites.

Other things you might want to consider are what you want to do when you reach your vacation destination. Do you want a RV resort with pools and planned activities, or are you just looking to sit by the lake and fish? Check out all the extras with these parks because some are great and have tons of things to do for families, and others are meant to be simply a place to park before moving on to your real destination.

7) Recognize the expenses

One argument I had when I was talking my husband into buying the RV was I thought we were going to save SO MUCH MONEY. Hahahaha, I laugh now. I had everything budgeted out beforehand: the cost of stocking the camper with food, bedding, lawn chairs, toiletries and supplies. But everything is ALWAYS more expensive than you planned, right? It didn’t help that all of our household goods were still in a boat somewhere traveling over the ocean so we couldn’t use anything from our own house, but even without that the RV became a money pit.

We needed to buy all kinds of hoses, cords, cables, special toilet paper, a water filter, a thing that helps when dumping the sewer, another thing that makes hitching up easier, leveling blocks, tablet things to put into your toilet so the paper dissolves, and the list goes on and on.

Not to mention the cost of RV parks. They range anywhere from $25-$120 a night, and we stayed at parks in all the price-ranges. I think around $50 is the price you’ll usually pay to find at a nice park that will meet most of your needs. Hotel rooms generally cost anywhere from $70-$120 and when you make the comparison you will save a few dollars compared to staying at hotel, but overall I didn’t think the savings were enough to justify it as a money-saver if you’re only using it for a few days a month.

And don't forget about the fuel costs. At $2-$3 a gallon, and only getting 6-7 miles per gallon, the fuel costs add up fast. It's almost criminal!

Another expense we didn’t think about was how and where we were going to park the RV when we weren’t using it. If you’re lucky enough to live in a neighborhood without a Homeowner’s Association then it’s easy, but if you don’t you have to spend an additional $60-$200 a month to store the thing!
And that reminds me…

8) Buy Used

New RVs are nice, comfortable, and updated, but it loses it’s value the second you sign that paperwork. We bought new because we thought this was going to be a lifetime investment in happiness, lol. We didn’t want to worry about ugly shag carpet or scary toilets or anything like that, but if I had to do it again I would have bought a used RV. They are EVERYWHERE, and they aren’t all old and ugly with shag carpet. There are lots of great newer ones and you really will save a ton of money if you don’t buy it off a dealer. And if you’re new to the RV life you could buy a used one to see how you like it, and upgrade later.

Happy Days are here again:) I finally got some #hellodarling fabric. Thanks @charlottesampler_destash !!!

A photo posted by Cristina Tepsick (@prettylittlequilts) on

9) Skip the Krispy Kremes

I LOVE Krispy Kremes, and was very excited to be able to get them again after being deprived of them for so long. One night in Orlando we stopped at Wal-mart and they had those boxes of Krispy Kremes at the checkout--an easy, convenient breakfast for the morning, right!? WRONG! The next morning my husband ate some donuts, then I gave one to my son and he said “Mom, there’s ants on my donut”. There were tiny (the locals called them Sugar Ants I think) all over his donut, all inside the box of donuts, and making a trail all across the tiny countertop. My poor husband didn’t notice these tiny ants when he ate his, so we can only assume that his breakfast included more than just Krispy Kremes! We threw out the donuts, but the ants didn’t leave and we are STILL HAVING PROBLEMS WITH THEM! They were everywhere—we had to throw out ALL the food, buy all new food, and lock it up in air-tight containers (another expense!!), but the ants were even in the stove and microwave. We were all scared to eat anything inside the camper. A local Floridian camper gave us a spray called Home Defense that worked really well (I think you get it at Home Depot) and the ants won’t go anywhere it was sprayed, but I didn’t want to spray areas where my kids were eating with poisonous insecticide. So the problem is still not solved.

10) Combat showers—

Our water heater for our camper only holds 6 gallons of water—and that makes for a 1 minute shower in a cold location and a 5 minute shower in a hot location. I know it doesn’t seem like the location would matter, but somehow it does—we tested it, but not because we wanted to. I think it has something to do with the temperature of the water when it goes into the water heater, but anyway, that’s not the point. The point is, you will not be able to take a long comfortable shower in an RV. I had to put my shampoo in my hair THEN turn on the water and try to wash, shave, rinse, and condition before the hot water ran out. I never did make it.

They do make tankless water heaters—they are about $600 and they heat the water as the water goes through the line. Sounds great, but they only work about 50% of the time, or for 50% of people. My brother has gone through two in the last year in his RV, and the reviews online are mixed and I was too afraid to spend $600 on something that was not guaranteed to work.

Is anyone else having a hard time falling to sleep? I thought since I'm awake this is a good time to tell a story. This week I got my #hellodarlingfabric and decided it was about time for me to finally make a Swoon quilt. I decided to go with #swoonsixteen, and started cutting, and I messed up on the very first fat quarter. I wasn't focused on what I was doing, cut it wrong, and ended up not having enough left to cut all the pieces. And then I did this 3 MORE TIMES people! Now I'm short on four different prints. This would've never happened if the fabric was readily available right?!? Do you ever do this? Doesn't this drive you insane? I need an emoji for pulling my hair out but instead I'll use this emoji of a person cutting their hair since it's the closest thing💇

A photo posted by Cristina Tepsick (@prettylittlequilts) on

11) Sewing in an RV—

If would’ve been just me and my husband I would have had a wonderful time sewing in the RV, but with the kids, all their stuff, and having to set up before I started, and put it all away immediately when I was done, it became a chore. I like to have my fabric and blocks laid out on the table or the floor so I can coordinate, arrange, and rearrange, but there just wasn’t enough room. My stuff was always in the way, and I couldn’t leave the sewing machine on the table for more than 5 minutes without someone deciding to eat again. I even bought a utility table for an outdoor sewing escape, but again, it was a chore, and the kids needed something or are bored every 6 seconds. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sewing in. But I do think it wouldn’t have been any problem if the kids were a little older, or it had just been me and my husband.

The Highlights--

Disney’s Fort Wilderness: An RV Dream Destination

Until this summer, I had never taken my kids to any Disney Parks, and I have never been to any myself either, and I wanted to take them while they were still young, but old enough to remember. Fort Wilderness is Disney’s campground and prior to the vacation we scrimped and saved to be able to afford to go (I don’t know if anyone noticed, but I didn’t buy any fabric from Jan-Jun!!).

At Fort Wilderness, you can bring your RV, but they also have cabin rentals. The campground is huge, and they have a bus service to drive you around, or you can rent a golf cart for the day (for $60) and drive in style:) They have horseback riding, boat rides, canoeing, a couple of huge swimming pools with slides, two souvenir shops, and several restaurants (order the Chicken and Waffles!!!). The food is delicious but it isn’t cheap AT ALL! However, they do have a carry-out pizza place where you can feed the family for $15. Every night they have a free (yay!) outdoor movie and a Camp Fire sing-along with Chip N’ Dale. And if you have a few hundred dollars to spare you can have a BBQ with Mickey Mouse, or go to the theater and dinner show (I can’t remember the name of it). We didn’t go to those, but we heard great things about them.

At Fort Wilderness they have an evening light show on the Marina, and you can see the fireworks across the water at Magical Kingdom. To get to Magical Kingdom you can simply take the boat over. It’s amazing to me how Disney really does make everything magical. So if you decide to get a camper Fort Wilderness should definitely be on your to-do list.

HELLO DARLING - THE CONTINUING SAGA So, in the continuing story of my weird life, this morning I woke up in my camper still mad about my fabric problems. We are visiting my Grandma in Ohio, and she's always cold so they keep the house really warm. We decided to sleep in the camper (where it isn't so hot) but we don't have the water hooked up, so I needed to get into the house to get ready for the day, but everyone was still asleep so we were locked out. So after sitting outside for awhile, looking depraved and homeless, my daughter and I jumped into the car, (still wearing our pj's) and ran to the next town over to Village Quilts to take a look around. I was looking at the solids when I saw it--a light in the back room shining down on a beautiful fat eighth bundle of (can you believe it) Hello Darling fabric. Woo hoo!! My problems solved! It was Destiny!! We celebrated by driving through McDonalds where my credit card was picked up by the wind in the drive-thru line and I had to jump out of my car and run around looking for it like a maniac, still looking bedraggled but happy:)

A photo posted by Cristina Tepsick (@prettylittlequilts) on

Do you ever watch those family vacation movies where everything is going wrong and it’s all a disaster, but in the end everyone is closer and they all hug? Haha, that is almost like it was with us. We had some really miserable times. My husband and I were at odds almost constantly--everything was an argument. There were times when I was willing to run away into the woods and risk being eaten by a bear because he was driving me so crazy. But there were other times too. I got to have uninterrupted time with my kids--without internet, without worrying about work, or having to compete with their friends for quality time. And my oldest son actually didn’t roll his eyes at everything I said. We became buddies again, and I taught him about the cool music of the 90’s. And I think I impressed them all with my mad ping-pong skills. So overall, yes, we had a good time and we made lots of lifelong memories. I wouldn't take it back, but I'm not really sure I would want to do it again either;)

Anyway, I know this was a long post, and not really related to quilting, but I wanted to put this information out there in case any of you have fantasies of a buying an RV. And after you read this, and if you’re still interested in purchasing one then give me a call, because my RV is for sale : )

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Hillside Houses Block 12

Well, here we are folks--the final block of the Hillside Houses QAL. This last block is super easy, and I think it's a good last block as a reward for all of the more complicated blocks in the patterns.

You can see my finished quilt above (thanks to the neighborhood kids!)--but I also wanted to show you two more finished quilts made by Kat. She didn't even wait for me to release the last pattern--she figured the last block out on her own!! Kat has been one of most tenacious and enthusiastic supporters of this QAL--she's starting a Halloween one too, and if you want to see everything else she makes, make sure to check her out on Instagram @katquilts.  

Aren't these AMAZING!!!

Also, I wanted to say a special thanks to my friend Christine of Triangles and Squares who reviewed some of the block patterns for me just hours before I was supposed to have them released!!! Thanks Christine!

To American Made Brand fabric, I need to give a special thanks for providing me all the fabric to make the quilt! It was my first time using AMB, and I'm so happy with the result!

And finally, thank you to all of you who have been so excited and encouraging about this project!! Please keep me posted on how your progress is going. Now I'm off to pack up the rest of my sewing stuff--the movers are coming tomorrow (anxiety!!).

To download Block 12 from Craftsy click here. If Craftsy doesn't work try the to download it from dropbox here.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Hillside Houses Blocks 10 and 11

Happy Wednesday everyone,

After today there will only be one block left for the Hillside Houses pattern--can you believe it's almost done already? I think time seems to move faster in the quilting world.

This week we are starting work on the sky and it can get a little confusing using all the different blues, so just keep that in mind.

I have been already planning out my next Hillside Houses quilt color combo. We have been packing up this week (and our first inspection is tomorrow!) and putting all my fabric into one place made me realize how many solids I have, so I think I want to make one with white roofs (suggestion of @katquilts, thanks Kat!) and make another one with prints. I just get so jealous every time I see what you guys are making.

Anyway, to get your PDF downloads of the Blocks 10 and 11 click here.

And I'll see you back here next week for our final block!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Hillside House Block 8 And 9 Revision

Good morning everyone,

I just wanted to get the word out that I have revised the pattern for Blocks 8 & 9. Pages 2 & 3 of the pattern were in booklet format for some reason, and I have uploaded a new version so all the pages are separate and you don't have to squint when you try to read it:)

I also noticed that on page 3, the alternate assembly, that on Step 2, you should cut an E piece--not a D piece.

To download the newest version click here.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I'll see you in a few days!!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Hillside Houses QAL Blocks 8 & 9

Hello everyone. This week, as you might remember, blocks 8 & 9 can be pieced separately, or together. The difference is, if you piece them separately (as shown in the layout guide) House #13 will have an additional seam down the center of the left side. If you choose to piece them all at one time, the blocks will be pieced in two rows like this:

You can choose how you want to piece yours by downloading the pattern here. The third page will how you how to piece them as pictured above. The benefit to doing it that was is it just reduces the number of seams and pieces, but in reality, it is only the difference in two pieces! So it's really up to you to decide which way works best for you. I just hope that my instructions are helpful, and you are still enjoying yourself! If you have any questions, please let me know.

As for me, I have a confession. I did not get my blocks completed this week. My family and I went on a 4-day trip up to the beautiful Scottish Highlands. As you might know, we move back to America in about a month, and are trying to hit a couple of places in the UK that we might never get the opportunity to see again. I will write more about Scotland in a future post, but I just wanted to let you know that Scotland is by far the most beautiful place I have ever been.

I did also find some real Hillside Houses in England on the way up that I thought would be fun to share with you--

See you next week!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Hillside Houses QAL Block 6 & 7

I feel like I should explain this picture, lol. When I got off work today I rushed home to take a picture of my blocks and of course, it started raining and it was just too cloudy to get light anywhere, so I thought it would be cute if my kids held up the blocks. Well, they are cute, but not super excited about it:) I would also like to mention, that I have been having so many problems with my iron lately (the steam function has completely died), so if you have any recommendations for any irons you love, let me know!

If you're still coming back for more Hillside Houses then congrats on making it this far! We're over the hump now, and only have a few weeks left. I'm constantly impressed with the creative houses you guys are making, and I just wanted to say thank you to all of y'all. Thank you for making this quilt with me. Thank you for your enthusiasm, and thank you for your positive feedback. My inbox has a steady flow of email with questions, encouragement,  and kind words, and I just wanted to let you know how much it means to me.

I wanted to share with you some of my favorite comments/suggestions from this week, I had message from Debbie (#minersewfun) on Instagram and she mentioned that her husband calls this project "Monopoly Houses". It makes me laugh because it does look like Monopoly houses, and I struggled when I was trying to name the project. "Rooftops", "Ocean Front Property", "Mi Casa es Sue Casa", were some of the names I was throwing around, and when I asked my own husband what he thought his eyes just glazed over and he mumbled "uh huh". But anyway, I wish I would've thought of "Monopoly Houses", it's a cute, witty, and accurate. Thanks Debbie!

Another message that I got was from Kat (#katquilts) who mentioned that this would be fun as a Christmas quilt and don't you thin that such a great idea?! She recommended making it with white rooftops, and the whole idea just put me in the Christmas spirit.

Anyway, again, thank you for stopping by and playing along! You can link-up at the bottom if you want o show off all your progress!

Download Block 6 here.

Download Block 7 here.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Hillside Houses Block 4 and 5

Happy Wednesday everyone! Have you been checking out everyone houses in the QAL? I'm so amazed by all
the people participating, and the different versions being made. When I designed the pattern, I couldn't imagine it in anything but solids, but that just goes to show you how awesome it is to be part of such a creative community. There are several versions popping up with prints and they are just darling! It makes me want to make another one.

This week I have patterns ready for Block 4 and Block 5. These blocks are a little different because they aren't as tall, and Block 4 is slightly wider; whereas Block 5 is just smaller overall. I did this so we wouldn't have to cut House 6 in half (piece it in two different blocks with a seam-line going down the center of the front). When deciding the assembly, I wanted to avoid making the blocks in places that didn't fall within a natural seam line, but this will be a problem again in Blocks 8 and 9. No matter how you break the blocks up, one house will always have a seam somewhere where it shouldn't be--unless you break blocks 8 and 9 in two horizontal pieces but the problem with that is I wanted the layout and blocks to be pretty standardized across the board. Honestly having the additional seam won't be that noticeable to everyone else, but for all those OCD quilters out there (me included) we would know, and sometimes that is worse than anything else. Sometimes we can drive ourselves insane with the smallest things!

As a solution, and when the time comes (just two weeks), I'll have a alternate pattern ready to distribute--a combined block including 8 and 9, so you can piece it as one big block to avoid the seam problem:)

Anyway, thank you all for stopping by and I look forward to seeing your houses this week. Let me know if  you have any questions or feedback. Take care.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day Winners

Thank you to everyone who stopped by for the Sew Mama Sew giveaway. It's always a fun time of year to see all the giveaways and watch the comments start rolling in. I had two bundles to give away, and the winners are:

Jayne who won the Hadley Bundle

and Barbara O. who won the Milk, Flower, Sugar bundle!

Congratulations ladies! I have emailed you, so reply back with your address so I can get those mailed out to you.  Thank you to everyone else who stopped by, and I wish I hope you guys were all able to win something somewhere during the giveaway days. Have a wonderful week!

Friday, 8 May 2015

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

Hi everyone! I've been so busy with the quilt-along that I almost forgot about Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

If this is your first time stopping by then I'd like to welcome you. My name is Cristina, and I'm a quilter, mother of three, sweet tea drinker, and I can't decide if I'm a British person that just happened to be born in America, or a Texan that just happens to live in England. I am making a big move to D.C. this summer, so if you're in the Maryland/Virginia area, please give me a shout out! I'm trying to find out as much as I can before I get there : ) 

I started quilting a few years ago, and probably just like you, I fell in love. I have had lots of hobbies, but none of them really stuck until I started quilting. I think my style is a little bit eclectic--I love bold, modern quilts with colorful solids, but at the same time, I love quilts with super-sweet flowery fabrics. I have also developed a recent fascination with two-color quilts. I think I just love all quilts. 

I recently made this modern Aztec/Native American inspired quilt that was featured in Issue 21 of Love Patchwork and Quilting. My sister calls it the Jolly Rancher quilt...

And right now I'm hosting the Hillside Houses QAL, and we've just started, so I encourage you to check it out if you're interested. Each week I'll be releasing free block patterns to make this quilt:

There are 12 block in the quilt and you can see some of the participants progress on Instagram #hillsidehousesqal

So, now for the part you've probably stopped by for! Today I'll be giving away 12 Fat Quarters of Milk, Flower, Sugar by Elea Lutz and I'll be having a second giveaway of a bundle of Hadley fabric by Denyse Schmidt. 

You can enter three times, and here are the ways to do it:

1) Leave me a comment telling me which fabric you want

2) Follow my blog and leave a comment telling me which fabric you want:) If you're already a follower, just leave a comment letting me know. 

3) Follow me on instagram @prettylittlequilts and leave me a comment here letting me know you're following me and which fabric you want. 

Oh, and in case I didn't mention it, don't forget to tell me which fabric you want;)!! Also, leave me an email address if you are a no-reply blogger, or if you aren't sure if you're a no reply blogger.

I will randomly select the winners on 10 May 2015, so there's not a whole lot of time left!! I will ship internationally, so everyone can enter. Make sure to check out all the other giveaways on Sew Mama Sew! Thanks for stopping by everyone and have a happy weekend!!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Hillside Houses QAL: Laying Out Your Blocks

Hi everyone! Okay, so I said I wouldn't bug you until next week, but I made a layout guide so you know how we're going to be placing the blocks. The quilt is made up of 12 blocks, and the quilt will be assembled in horizontal rows.

The quilt includes 18 houses, and each block pattern contains references to specific house numbers found on the coloring sheet.  I numbered the houses so that when you're making a confusing block you will know which colors go where.

As you can see, Block 1 contains House #1, but notice Block 8 contains houses #12, #9, parts of #13 and #16.

My patterns only focus on one block at-a-time, and I hope by doing it that way it will break up any confusion looking at all those crazy numbers might cause.

So far I have released patterns for Blocks one, two, and three, so you have everything you need to make the bottom row--1/4 quilt finished.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and you can download a PDF of the layout guide, or coloring sheet here.

Also, at the end of the QAL I will be compelling all these references into one PDF file, so if you don't have time to participate in the QAL now, you can get all the patterns and guides in one download in just one file.

I won't make any more promises that I'm not going to make any more posts for the rest of the week, so I'll just say I'll see you soon:)

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Hillside Houses Blocks 2 and 3

Hi everyone! It's been pretty exciting because I've started seeing all of the Hillside Houses start popping up on Instagram. And for those who want to share, but don't have Instagram, I have added a link-up at the bottom so you can share what you've been making.

The good news is I have two block patterns available this week! I am going to try to continue the 2-block-a-week-trend until we're all done. You can download the newest blocks in my Craftsy storefront--Block 2 and Block 3.

Kylie at Faith Love Fabric suggested a blog button so I made one for you to post or share. This button will take you straight to a page that has everything you'll need for the QAL, and I'll have all the links for the patterns listed as the weeks go on.

Pretty Little Quilts Hillside Houses QAL

I also received some feedback from the talented Karen over at EasyPatchwork (whose block is appearing in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazine!). She is making the mini Hillside Houses quilt and suggested using 2.25in HSTs and trimming them to size. I really appreciate her feedback, and am going to start adding that to all the patterns from here on out. I hope you all feel free to let me know anything you do or don't like because I want to make sure everyone is having a good experience:)! 

And now, I have some other news. It pains me to say this but today, as I was piecing my own quilt I discovered that when I initially wrote the fabric requirements for the large quilt (60" x 75") that I miscalculated the light gray (AMB 05) for the rooftops. I would like to apologize for those of you who ordered your fabric already, and I wanted you to know that I went back and checked every color again to ensure the fabric requirements were correct for the rest of the quilt. You will need 1 yd of light gray (instead of the 1/2 yard that I initially listed), and I have updated the page with the new information. I know shipping costs can get expensive, so I did some research and found an Etsy seller, LilacLaneLLC, that sells that color and will ship for only $2.00 in the States. If you were a victim of my terrible mistake, please send me an email and let me know!!! I'm terribly sorry.

I hope that didn't dampen the mood, and keep me posted on how you're doing! I'm having a lot of fun and I appreciate all you who've reached out to me. Enjoy your week, and I'll see you back here same time next week! P.S. Don't forget to link-up:)

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Block 1 - Hillside House QAL

Hi everyone! Today I'm releasing the pattern for the first block of the #HillsideHousesQAL . This is House #1 on the coloring sheet.

To download the PDF of the pattern, click here.

Here's a few things to keep in mind when making your block:

1) The placement of this block is on the lower left in the empty space shown below.

2) The quilt has options for three different sizes. Don't get overwhelmed when you see the pattern, just stay in your lane and keep your eye on the prize!!

     a)  Throw size -  60" x 75"; the first block is 20" sq
     b)  Wall-hanging size - 30" x 37"; the first block is 10" sq
     c)  Mini - 15" x 18"; the first block is a tiny 5"

3) The coloring sheet has all the house numbers (addresses) on it, so it's a good reference to keep your pieces organized. I will refer to the house numbers on the pattern. The coloring sheet can be found here.

4) If you are making yours in different colors or arrangement, just take notice that I have used a dark shade on one side, and light shade of the same color on the other side of each house. I encourage you to make yours however you want, I just wanted to point that out in case it was difficult to tell. Don't feel obligated to make yours this way!!

5) Have fun. Have fun. HAVE FUN!!!

Let me know if you have any questions! I will release the next block pattern next Wednesday!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

American Made Brand Fabric Giveaway

Good morning everyone. I have a bundle of American Made Brand fabric to giveway on Instagram as part of the Hillside Houses QAL. If you do not have an IG account, you can leave me a comment here and I will enter you to win. Winner will be chosen on Tuesday and is open to anyone in or on planet Earth. Good luck!!!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Hillside Houses Coloring Sheet

Happy Monday again! I created this coloring sheet to use for the #HillsideHousesQAL to help you decide the placement of your colors if you're making it different than mine. It's also a good reference to use no matter how you decide to make it because it all the houses are numbered  and I'll be referring the numbers during the quilt-along. Enjoy!

To download a PDF copy, click here.

Hillside Houses Quilt-Along

Hello everyone! Today I just wanted to drop a couple of lines to announce an upcoming Instagram quilt along I'm hosting with a pattern I designed called "Hillside Houses". The QAL will begin on 1 May and I will be posting all of the instructions for free. The finished quilt measures 60" x 75" and it will be divided up into 12 blocks, and I will be releasing instructions for 2 blocks a week. The information will be Instagram but I'm also creating PDF printouts that you can download here for all the blocks for those of you who (like me) don't want to stare at a tiny screen to figure everything out. If you want to participate, or just follow along, use the hashtag #HillsideHousesQAL on IG. 

house quilt

I decided I wanted to use American Made Brand Fabric to make my quilt, because ever since I saw this pic of their booth at quilt market I wanted to try it out. Their fabric is 100% sourced and manufactured in the U.S., from the cotton farms to the dyeing process. I love the idea of using homegrown fabric.

Fabric Requirements:

This is a great project for using up your solids but if you decide you want to make yours exactly like I’m making mine here’s what you’ll need: 

1 yd light blue for left sides of blue houses and rooftops (AMB 87, Light Denim)
1 yd light gray for the right sides of rooftops  (AMB 05, Light Gray)

1/2 yard of the following colors: 

AMB 97 - Light Sky (for the sky)
AMB 05 - Light Gray (for right sides of rooftops)  
AMB 33 - Aqua
AMB 34 - Dark Aqua
AMB 23 - Light Olive (light green)
AMB 34 - Olive (dark green) 
AMB 90 - Blue 

Fat quarter of each of the following colors: 

AMB 75 - Dark Raspberry (dark pink)
AMB 43 -  Raspberry (medium pink)
AMB 36 - Orange
AMB 67 - Light Gold (light orange or dark yellow)
AMB 62 - Taupe
AMB 60 -  Dark Butter (beige)
AMB 08 - Light yellow (for windows). 

You’ll also need 1/2 yard for binding and 4yds for backing. 

I hope you'll follow along or join in the fun, and make sure to stop by instagram @prettylittlequilts on 25 April because I have a bundle of American Made Brand solids to giveaway!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Button Up Quilt

Button Up Quilt

It feels like forever since I have been able to take a good picture of a quilt. I was very, very happy that the weather was nice today because I just finished up the binding on this one last night. We jumped in the car for a family outing in Thetford Forest and it was an awesome location for quilt pics. I always feel a little weird when taking quilt pics in public places because everyone stares at me like I'm a crazy person. There was a group of picnic-ers behind me gawking when I snapped this shot.

For this quilt I used Cluck Cluck Sew's Button Up pattern, and it's really a fun and easy top to put together. I'm very excited about this quilt because all the fabric was from my current stash. The yellows and greens in the quilt aren't consistent throughout but I was determined not to buy any new fabric for this project. I've been on a fabric fast lately, and am trying to use as much as I can before the big move.

button up quilt

The backing was actually a temporary-turned-permanent set of curtains in house that I made from Glamping gingham fabric. I felt like Scarlett O'Hara as I ripped those suckers down and used them to back the quilt. But I think the backing is perfect for a "country" look. According to my calculations, making this quilt was basically free because I was so resourceful with my current stash--and everyone knows that fabric purchased over 30 days ago doesn't count;)

Hope everyone else is enjoying the weather and is working on some fun projects. : )

Button Up Quilt

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Military-Friendly Quilt Shops

For U.S. military members and their families, shopping online when you live at an APO/FPO address can sometimes be very frustrating.

For those unfamiliar with APO (Army/Air Force Post Office) and FPO (Fleet Post Office or Federal Post Office) addresses, it is an American address that is used for military members living on a base or post overseas. Many U.S. merchants will not ship to APO, or they will only use couriers that do not deliver to APO, like UPS or FedEx. Or they can magically read your IP address and see that you're ordering from a different country, and as a security measure, will decline processing the order.

Of course, members can always order online within the country they live in (if they have what they need); however, it sometimes proves impossible to enter your payment information because the billing address is US and that isn't an option. It seems like there's one roadblock after another.

For the most part, quilt-shops are far ahead of the game when compared to other online merchants. Most quilt shops will now ship APO, whereas when I started quilting a few years back, I could only find a handful that would, and mainly it was only fabric. I had a very difficult time getting notions, or bigger things, like bags of batting. I'm grateful for the shops that would ship to me, and even more grateful that they offered discounts to military members, or would ship those hard-to-obtain items.

And I would like to share those shops with you today and just say "THANK YOU" to them for helping me out. The list is not all-encomposing, and if you know of any others, please let me know!! I will be adding shops to the list as I find them, and there is a button on the sidebar just in case any military members (or their family members) are out there and need quilt supplies!!

Quilt Shops that offer free/discount shipping to APO/FPO addresses:

Quiltbug.com - Free shipping to all APO/FPO address (and will even ship Quilter's Dream Batting--for free!)

Southern Stitches Quilts - Free shipping to all APO/FPO addresses

Quilting Adventures - Free shipping for orders over $35 to all APO/FPO addresses

Crazy Quilt Girl Fabric Shop - Free shipping for orders over $75 to APO/FPO addresses

Fat Quarter Shop - Free shipping for orders over $80 to all APO/FPO addresses

Donna's Lavender Nest - $5 shipping for orders up to 10 yards for all APO/FPO addresses

Quilt shops that will ship bolts of batting:

JOANN - Offers an in-store 10% discount to military members every day. Will also ship batting by the bolt to APO/FPO addresses for about $20 (and you can still use your 40% off coupon). The shipping is SAM (space available) but finding a merchant that will ship such a large item is worth recognition).

Other quilt shops that ship APO/FPO:

Hawthorne Threads

Fort Worth Fabric Studio

Fresh Modern Fabric

UK Fabric shops that will ship to US APO addresses in the UK:


The Homemakery

The Village Haberdashery

Again, I would just like to say "THANK YOU" to all the quilt shops out there that support their military members, and understand that girls who wear combat-boots to work can still be quilters!!

Saturday, 4 April 2015


For me, there's only one pro to binding a quilt with a sewing machine--it's quick. The cons, however, are endless. For starters, the process is completely stressful. Days before I even start the binding I'm trying to get myself mentally prepared. I practice lots of exercises in deep breathing, a little music therapy, and as the time to begin gets closer, a motivating counseling session with myself in the mirror isn't unheard of. 

After I've machine-sewn the binding to one side, I start to break out in a cold sweat, because I know it's about to get real. While I'm sewing the binding to the opposite side, I try to stare without blinking, because I know with one flinch my stitches will run up over the binding and all hope will be lost. It's very easy to mess up, and with all the time that is spent on a quilt, I don't want the last step to be the one that ruins it all. 

I've tried many, many different methods to make my machine-binding look as good as possible: sewing it to the front and folding-it over and sewing to the back, sewing it on the back and folding it over toward the front, sewing through the front and back at the same time, sewing it to one side and then folding it over and sewing through both sides. Time and again I've tried to make my machine binding look professional, but I'm almost never happy with it. So, I finally decided to do something different.

I started hand-sewing my binding. I avoided trying it for a long time because I thought it would take too much time. Of course, it takes ALOT longer, but I absolutely love it. There's no crazy talk in the mirror, no cold-sweats, no stressful sewing--just me and the quilt watching TV together. The process is completely relaxing, and it looks worlds better when it's all done. I might not hand-sew the binding on every quilt in the future, but if time allows, I think it definitely worth the extra effort. 

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Charity Quilts for Foster Children

It's after midnight here, and I can't sleep because there is a problem that is really eating away at my heart lately and has me angry and sad all at the same time. A few months ago one of my mother's friends had gotten temporary custody of her two nieces because the child protective services had removed them from their parents' care. My mother's friend has a houseful of children of her own, and she found herself a little overwhelmed with all the kids, but if she didn't keep them then her nieces would have to go into foster care. My mother's friend asked if my mom would watch one of the girls over the weekend, and of course, my mother agreed. She stayed with her that weekend and on a couple of more occasions, and all of our hearts opened up to the girl because of everything she had been through in her short 4 years. For reasons I don't know or understand,  the girl and her older sister were taken out of her aunt's home, and now they are living in a shelter until a foster home can be found. The social worker told my mother that the 4-year-old cries every day and all night. It really breaks my heart. My mother is now getting her emergency foster care license so that she can take the girls, but it could take up to four weeks. I'm praying that somehow the system moves a little more quickly and my mother can get them sooner, and they won't have to stay in the shelter any longer. I wasn't aware that shelters for foster children even existed, and once I heard this, I called my sister Cayla, who is a case manager for Grace Manor, an adoption agency in East Texas.

My sister told me that it is common for children to be placed in shelters until a foster home can be found. Children awaiting a foster home can go into the shelters with just a few personal items and they might not even have a suitcase or backpack to hold their belongings--there have been children who have showed up carrying their things in garbage bags. Some cities have shelters that are specifically set up for displaced children, but there are some places where the children could be in a shelter that can be occupied by anyone in need--homeless families, abused women, etc. They can be left in the shelter for up to 30 days (depending on the state), after which, they will be moved into a temporary home until a permanent foster home can be found. For about the next year their lives are in a state of limbo until the court decides to let them go back to their parents or  put up for adoption. But as you know, it could take years to get adopted, especially for the older children. I decided that I really wanted to do something for these kids.

I asked my sister if I could donate quilts and other items to Grace Manor, and she said that the donations would be welcomed, and she and the other case managers could distribute them for me. She said she would make sure the right gift got to the right child. I would like to make a quilt, and a this duffel bag by 627 Handworks for one of the kids. And I would like to extend this offer to anyone who reads this. I don't know if this is overstepping any boundaries, but I also know quilters have lots of love to give and lots of fabric they need to use up. I know that making a quilt can't take away the pain of everything these children are going through, but it could bring them a little happiness or comfort.

If you think you would like to possibly make a bag, a quilt, or even a single block, please leave a comment or send me an email at sewberrysweet@gmail.com

Other charity quilt organizations to get involved in: Margaret's Hope Chest, Project Linus, do. Good Stitches, and Siblings Together. All of these are great organizations, and a handmade gift would be appreciated anywhere you decided to give.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Going to Grandma's Quilt Block Free Pattern

vintage luggage suitcase quilt

I've had this quilt finished for a few weeks and have been waiting for some good weather to take pictures. Monday through Friday the weather is gorgeous but the clouds roll in just in time for the weekends. I finally just decided it was time to give up and just take a picture because you can't put your life on hold for a few clouds, sometimes you just have to hope there's a rainbow, or silver lining, or something like that.

There's been another cloud that's been hanging over me lately that I had to get over. Early in January my family and I were waiting to find out where my next assignment would be. In July we will have to move back to the States, and we worried and excited to find out where the military would send us. While I was daydreaming about possible places we might go, I also started planning out our summer vacation travelling around the States visiting all the family we haven't seen in a few years. And that's when the idea of this quilt came to me.

As I designed it I was daydreaming about sunshine and going hiking with my sister in Arizona. And as I was cutting fabric I imagined taking my kids to Disney World, and then driving up to Ohio to visit my husband's family and eating Handel's ice cream. When I pieced it together I hoped we would be able to settle in Texas, wear flip-flops year round and eat tacos every night for dinner. And I started dwelling on that dream specifically. And it came as a big disappointment when I found out we would not be settling in Texas or wearing flip-flops year round. When the assignment notification dropped it was to Maryland--just outside of Washington D.C.

And then all I could imagine was traffic jams, sketchy neighbourhoods and metal detectors and drug dogs at the kids' schools. But I know it's not going to be that bad, and I just had to find that silver lining.

My kids have never seen the Capitol and it's just a short trip to Philadelphia, New York city, or Colonial Williamsburg. And even if I won't get to eat authentic Tex-Mex, the second best food I've eaten in my life was in D.C.  But the best thing about this relocation is we will that we will be closer to my husband's family. I'm not very good with geography, but apparently, all the eastern states are so small, that nothing is too far away. We will still be a few hours away from them, but it will be the closest we've ever lived to family in the last 16 years. They are amazing, and his grandmother is one of the most wonderful, selfless, and beautiful people I have ever met. She is an absolute saint. Before I met her, I had never known a person to be so happy and at peace, and I have never been so at peace as when I'm around her. She taught me what it means to be a truly good-hearted person. She doesn't worry, complain, or gripe. And instead of getting stressed out when her house is full of her kids, grand-kids, and great-grand-kids, that's when she is her happiest.

My 5-year-old has only met her a couple of times (most recently 3 years ago--the last time we were all in the States) but he proudly carries a picture of her around and tells everyone how much he likes "his grandma". And my oldest son is completely indifferent to everything I cook, but we'll wolf down everything she makes and begs me to get the recipe. And now we'll be able to see her all the time, she'll be able to watch the kids grow up and we'll finally have family close by to spend the holidays with. So, in her honor, I am naming this quilt Going to Grandma's. Because really, even if moving to D.C. is not what I wanted at all, it will be wonderful to live near someone who means so much to me, and who I want my children to grow up with.

Many times in life you don't always get what you wish for, but sometimes what you get turns out to be better than what you wanted in the first place. I'm hoping and thinking that now is probably one of those times.

If you want to make a quilt block, you can download the PDF pattern here.