July: Life’s A Charm – "X" Marks the Spot

Hi Everybody! For all of our US friends, we hope you had a wonderful 4th of July weekend.  This would be the reason why we’re a little late in getting our Life’s a Charm out, along with the fact that I’ve been sick the past few days and have been operating at a slower speed.  Did you do anything fun to celebrate?  We visited Gettysburg and I cooked a big meal for our family – marinated and grilled chicken; cole slaw; potato salad; and of course, homemade cherry pie!  It was so much fun to cook a big meal like that, I don’t get to do that nearly enough!

For this month’s Life’s a Charm we decided to make a quilt (imagine that! … our first for “Life’s a Charm”), something easy that could come together in a snap.  We’ve had 16 fat quarters of 30’s reproduction fabric sitting around in our stash for a long time and decided it was high time to do something with it.  So, I cut it up into 5″ charm squares and got 192 squares.  We ended up using most of these squares for this lap quilt.

For those of you making charm squares out of a fat quarter, it is very easy to do.  You will be able to get 3 rows vertically and 4 rows horizontally giving you 12 charm squares.

Here’s how it goes …

“X” Marks the Spot
Finished Size: 50″ x 50″
Cherry Valley Designs Hourglass Quilt

– 4 color scraps of material for 162 – 5″ squares (this would be equivalent to 5 charm packs);
– 56″ x 56″ piece of batting;
– 56″ x 56″ piece of backing fabric;
– 220″ of binding;
– A 6 1/2″ x 24 1/2″ ruler (for cutting your 5″ squares out) – I prefer Creative Grids;
– A 2 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ ruler – again, Creative Grids; and
– A 6 1/2″ square ruler – of course, Creative Grids;
– Your favorite rotary cutter, cutting mat, sewing machine, iron and ironing board!

Step 1: 
Separate your color scraps and make two groups of two.  So, I put purple and blue together (group 1) and pink and green together (group 2).

Cherry Valley Designs Hourglass Quilt

Step 2:
Chain piece your squares together, right sides facing, and sew a quarter inch seam allowance down one side of all your pieces.  Next, sew a quarter inch seam allowance on the opposite side.  Yes, that’s right, just trust me on this one 😉

Cherry Valley Designs Hourglass Quilt

Cherry Valley Designs Hourglass Quilt

Step 3:
Using your 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ ruler, cut each square on the diagonal and iron the seam flat.

Cherry Valley Designs Hourglass Quilt

Cherry Valley Designs Hourglass Quilt

Cherry Valley Designs Hourglass Quilt

Step 4:
Pin your pieces back together, lining up your center point to create an hourglass block and sew together.  Your will need 49 blocks of your first group and 32 blocks of your second group.

Cherry Valley Designs Hourglass Quilt

Cherry Valley Designs Hourglass Quilt

Step 5:
Using your 6 1/2″ square ruler, proof your blocks to 6″ x 6″ squares.

Cherry Valley Designs Hourglass Quilt

Cherry Valley Designs Hourglass Quilt

Cherry Valley Designs Hourglass Quilt

Step 6: 
Iron your seams flat.  Lay your quilt out starting with one color in the center and lay the alternate color around the center block.  Keep alternating colors (around the world) until you have a 9 block x 9 block quilt.  Sew your rows together.  Your quilt top is complete!

I can’t wait to get it on the longarm and get it quilted!  Check back next week for how we quilted this and bound this quilt! … There may even be a tutorial involved!

Until next time!

Summer Reading

Happy First Day of Summer!

How’s summer starting out for all of you?  I don’t think there’s one season I love over another, but summer comes pretty darn close to being at the top for me!  I just love the laziness of summer, the casualness of cool nights spent on the deck, get togethers with family and friends, and afterall who doesn’t love a season bookended (is that a word?!) with holidays?  Another thing I love is the image in my head of spending time at the beach with nothing better to do than get caught up on my reading … definitely an image, because I haven’t done this in forever!  So for all of you summer lovers out there who are looking for a good book to read my mom, Penny, has put together a list of some of her recent favorite titles.  I lean towards the romantic side (yes, I am a hopeless romantic, emphasis on the hopeless part!), but my mom loves mysteries … always has and probably always will!  Anyway, I’m handing the blog over to her … Here you go!

With those crazy, lazy days of summer finally here, what better time to not only quilt but also read.  Reading is another one of our favorite pastimes!  Megan enjoys historical romances by Deborah Holland.  She also enjoys reading Debbie Macomber and Brenda Novak books as well.

While I enjoy reading Debbie Macomber’s books, I really enjoy books by David Baldacci (did you know that the characters, King and Maxwell on TNT at 10:00 on Mondays this summer are from a number of his books?), Lisa Scottoline (so far, my favorite has been The Vendetta Defense… the story line is interesting and the characters actually make you laugh out loud at times with their shenanigans. But, my all-time favorite author is … Dorothea Benton Frank! She writes a novel once a year, usually it is published each June and they are all packed with human interest, laugh out loud humor along with interesting tidbits. Last year’s novel, Porch Lights, was focused on interesting information about Edgar Allen Poe.   This year’s novel is entitled The Last Original Wife: A Novel.

Another genre of books that Megan and I enjoy are cookbooks. We enjoy reading/looking through all of the cookbooks we have. Our latest find is The Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman. The writing is phenomenal, pictures scrumptious and recipes make you want to jump up and cook immediately! Best of all the book lays flat which is great when trying to follow a recipe!

What books or authors do you enjoy reading?  It would be great to have you share! … Penny

Playing Around With Colors

Believe it or not I would definitely consider myself a novice when it comes to the Adobe suite of products.  Back in November I faced the stark realization that I needed to make “the switch.”  Thankfully though, Adobe now has a service called Adobe Creative Cloud.  It is, in a word, awesome! I was hesitant at first, but not having the $1,000+ to throw down on Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, I decided to give the Creative Cloud, a shot and I am so glad I did.  I specialized in Information Systems with my business degree, so I’m pretty comfortable with the computer.  I was also the “queen of handouts” (an honor bestowed upon me by my supervisor, complete with a certificate … lol) when I was a college math tutor, so I was comfortable making graphics and writing directions.  What is the Creative Cloud?  You pay for it monthly and it houses pretty much the entire suite of Adobe products and then you can download the programs you need … as many as you need!  To me, $50 a month was much more reasonable than the upfront cost of the standalone Adobe products.  The other huge upside is you don’t have to worry about product upgrades and having to pay for those as well.  The upgrades with Creative Cloud run seamlessly through your product and when one arrives, you’re simply notified – it all is included with your subscription cost.  Oh, and you’re getting the professional grade of the Adobe products!

That turned out to be a lot more information than I was planning on saying, but if you are in need of Adobe products I would definitely recommend looking into this and seeing if this would be a good fit for you.

Like I said, I’m still definitely a novice.  I do a lot of trial and error.  The worst is when I get something right and I have no clue how I did it!  Grrrr … does that ever happen to you?  Well, I won’t forget this little trick.  Last night, I was working on proofing some new pictures and I stumbled upon this photo alteration trick.

Do you remember our pattern Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend that I debuted in the spring?  It’s a pretty peach and spring green …

… But look what happens when you change the “hue” using Photoshop?  Oh, the color combinations!

Option #1: Aqua and Purple

Option #2: Two-Toned Green

Option #3: Two-Toned Purple
Option #4: Blue and Green
Option #5: Pink and Peach (My fave!) 

Option #6: Purple and Pink

What’s your favorite “new” color combination?  We’d love to hear!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Life’s a Charm June: Fun Notebook Cover

This project is so incredibly easy …  it comes together in a snap, literally a few hours!  I think sometimes it’s nice to have a mindless project to just make you feel you accomplished something, at least this is true for me!

This month we simply sewed together 40 mini charms into an 8 by 5 rectangle to create a notebook cover.  How simple is that!  I can so see these for the beginning of school or baby shower gifts for moms-to-be to chronicle their months or just a fun way to scrapbook your family’s summer adventures!

You will simply need a Mead notebook, a mini charm pack, an iron, and your sewing machine – mine broke during this project 😦 so don’t look to closely at my stitching 😉

We cut out red, white and blue fabric from our own stash and then simply sew 8 blocks across horizontally and 5 blocks vertically.

Then fold under twice 1/8″, press down and stitch a straight line to hold your edge down.

Once this is complete, simply use your notebook as a template.  Iron down the top and bottom, then the sides.  Pin the sides down and using a zigzag stitch, stitch along the entire top and bottom at the edge of the cover.


Fun with Dying Fabric

Hi Everybody … I thought I’d share a fun experiment my mom and I did a couple of weekends ago.  After quilting this quilt I realized how patterned fabric doesn’t always show the quilting done on the quilt and I was getting antsy to make my own colors.  I am always enamored when I go to knitting stores with the beautiful, vibrant and scrumptious colorways yarn comes in.  This is especially true of Madelinetosh yarn.  Oh, my!  I wish I could find these colors in fabric!

Having absolutely no dying experience in my past and not wanting to jump in with both feet, I decided to go to Hobby Lobby and get an assortment of different dyes, both brands and colors.  I’ve heard the Procion dyes are the best to use, but I would have needed to order these.  I also picked up some Elm Ash while I was there.

My mom and I put on our breathing masks – we were quite a site to be seen on a Saturday night 😉 – then our gloves and got to work.  While the colors are a wee bit bright, it was so fun that a batch we intended to make three swatches out of, we ended up making nine!!!

Cherry Valley Designs Hand Dyed Fabric
Cherry Valley Designs Hand Dyed Fabric

Now that I’ve wet my feet definitely stay tuned for more experiments to come!!!  This was so much fun and I’m looking forward to trying the Procion dyes and different types of fabric!

Have you ever hand dyed your own fabrics?  What did you all think if you did?

We’re happy to be linking up with these linky parties today.  Thanks for hosting them!

Esther’s Blog


Finally Finished!

Hi Everybody!  First, I have to start out by saying our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the tornadoes in Oklahoma.  It just looks like total devastation and I can’t even imagine what those families are going through.  Stay safe!

Last week my family and I took a somewhat vacation.  For a few days we spent the week back in Gettysburg and had a wonderful time, but I took no pictures 😦  Then we came home and just relaxed for a while.  All in all it was a good week and I’m really looking forward to this Memorial Day weekend 🙂  Always looking forward to the beginning of summer, such a fun time and just wish we were already back in Gettysburg.

Before we left I had a chance to finish up my mom’s Mother’s Day gift …

Cherry Valley Designs Essential Bed Quilt

… You may remember this as a work in progress from a few weeks ago.

It was absolutely a blast to do and there are so many longarm techniques that I’d never tried, like these feather wreaths …

Cherry Valley Designs Essential Bed Quilt
From the Front
Cherry Valley Designs Essential Bed Quilt
And the Back!

the cable feather border surrounded by piano keys and …

Cherry Valley Designs Essential Bed Quilt
You can best see this from the back

the circles around the nine patch …

Cherry Valley Designs Essential Bed Quilt

All in all it was an awesome quilt to long arm and ended up taking me a whopping 24 hours to complete – definitely a milestone for me, but well worth it! 🙂  Happy Mother’s Day, mom!  You’re the best!

Again, if you’re interested in making this quilt yourself you can find the paper pattern here which we will snail mail to you or the PDF pattern here which will be delivered nearly instantly to your e-mail!

Thanks to the blogs whose linky parties we’re participating in today:

Fresh Poppy Design

Better Off Thread

Until Next Time!

Happy Mother’s Day!

To all the mom’s out there, Happy Mother’s Day!

I made this delicious monkey bread for my mom.  I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but unfortunately I cannot.  It is absolutely AMAZING!!!  If you’re interested in making it, you can find the recipe here!