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Book Review: Sew in Style- Make Your Own Doll Clothes

This Christmas, we got 18” dolls for our three daughters. As much as they love playing with them, they love dressing them even more. We bought a copy of Sew in Style-Make Your Own Doll Clothes for the girls, and it is a FANTASTIC book.

Sew in Style

My 11 year old daughter uses the book independently. She knew how to use her sewing machine before, but this book has been an excellent guide for teaching her finer skills. So far, my girls have made dresses, skirts and purses from the book, and they are having a ball doing it!

One of the things we have learned about 18” dolls is that not all brands of dolls are exactly the same size.  Our girls have Our Generation Dolls from Target, which tend to be a little smaller than their Wal-Mart counterparts. So purchased doll clothes and shoes may not always fit other brands.  However, Erin Hentzel solves this problem rather elegantly in the book by encouraging you to try the doll’s outfit on before sewing in the velcro, which allows you to easily make adjustments for a good fit, regardless of brand.

18'' doll clothes

Here’s a group picture of all the party dresses the girls have made. I’m thrilled with this book, and have bought two additional copies for friends as well.  Even though my daughter prefers to sew by machine, I like that the book included instructions for hand sewing as well. Once my world slows down a little this summer, I’m looking forward to trying out the hand-sewing techniques.


How about you?  Do you sew doll clothes?

Happy Stitching!



JQSG-Reflections on Japanese Contemporary Quilts and Quilters

Welcome to the Japanese Quilting Study group, a monthly blog series dedicated to learning more about the wonderful world of Japanese quilting.  You can see all previous posts in this series by clicking on the link in the header, or here.

book cover

Teresa Duryea Wong’s book finally arrived on my doorstep just after I wrapped up several huge deadlines.  So I was able to spend a long morning with a good cup of coffee, perusing the book slowly and taking it all in.  The photographs are gorgeous, and the information presented is fascinating. The differences between Japanese and American quilting classes are incredible. For example, Teresa talks about one teacher (in the traditional teaching curriculum), where the students in the basic class make 48 hand-pieced quilts in 2-4 years.  I would love to learn how to hand piece that efficiently. Making ONE small hand-pieced quilt took me the better part of six months!

My favorite section of the book is the artist profiles.  Here, we get a very up-close and personal glimpse into the lives of famous Japanese quilters, including images and descriptions of their studios. I find it very encouraging that some of them do not have immaculately organized work spaces, and store things in plastic tubs just like I do!

The diversity of quilting styles presented in this book is inspiring, and makes it a story not only relevant to American quilters who love all things Japanese (like me), but also to American quilters who think outside the box, and push the limits of what defines a quilt. So many American quilt books focus on “the basics”, and simplifying the quiltmaking process to something you can complete in a weekend.  The quilts shown in this book highlight the other end of the quilting spectrum- the magic that happens when you meticulously, painstakingly pour your heart and soul into creating a work of art in fabric.

Happy Stitching!



Yoko Saito Sightings

Welcome to my Japanese Quilting Study Group!  If you’re new here, click on the group tab above to see all posts in the study.  (And if you have a blog, feel free to grab a button and help me get the word out.  Thank you!)

Last year I promised we’d explore the works of other Japanese quilters this year.  But for January, I’m sticking with Yoko Saito.  Her name just seems to be in the air lately.  Before we get to all that, however, here’s a quick progress picture of my Hexagon and Fence post quilt.  The rosettes outgrew their initial box.  Here’s 68 of the little hexagon flowers (I’ll be making 186 total; I still have a long way to go!) and some of the tiny rail fence blocks.

January 2015 progress






For Christmas, I received two Yoko Saito books.  Happy day!  Today I’ll share my impressions of Strolling Along Paths of Green.  If you have not yet splurged on a Yoko Saito book, I HIGHLY recommend this one as a starter.  Unlike Taupe Color Theory, this book includes tons of photographs of the project steps.  The book has a multitude of lovely plant-inspired applique motifs, 18 bag designs and two quilt projects. I’m looking forward to making a couple of these to expand my bag-making skills.  I’ve never been a huge fan of applique, but this book may just convince me otherwise.

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Speaking of lovely floral appliques, have you seen Quiltmaker’s 100 blocks volume 10?  It has a block from Yoko Saito!!!!  How cool is that?!?  You can see it in the top right corner of the cover:









Quiltmaker did an awesome job of explaining the block and including a special tip for making such tiny bias stems.  I’m going to try this one soon, and probably just frame the block by itself for a lovely mini-quilt.

Lately I have spent far too much time on the internet, pouring over some of my favorite bloggers’ impressions from the 2015 Great Tokyo Quilt Festival.  I’m linking to specific posts below, but be sure to scroll around on their blogs, several of them have multiple posts pertaining to the festival.  Someday, I hope to see this show in person, but until then, these blogs are the next best thing! I especially love the exhibit about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House on the Prairie.

Sashiko and other stitching

Queenie’s Needlework

My Quilt Diary

Happy Stitching!


Mom’s Pencil Box Quilt

Last weekend we finally got to celebrate Christmas with my family, so now I can show you one of my January finishes!!








Last summer, when Sweet and Simple Sewing came out, I knew I had to make the cover quilt for my mom.  She’s a graphic designer, and taught high school art for years.  So I told her to pick out a jelly roll she liked, and I’d make the quilt for her (and review the book for you– double score!)

Here’s my version of the Pencil Box quilt.

Pencil box quilt







Although I’m not terribly confident at applique, I was happy with the way these bright pencils turned out.







I modified the original pattern a bit by leaving out the wide center applique band.  I did that for a couple of reasons.  One, I was worried about a ten-inch wide band of interfacing making the quilt hard to snuggle with, and two, I ran out of time.  But it’s a testament to the book that I managed to finish this project in less than a week.

The backing fabric literally jumped off the shelf and into my cart at JoAnn’s.  Doesn’t it just look like the bottoms of colored pencils?!








And a label shot of the quilt.  I love this method of sewing labels into the binding.  If I don’t do it this way, they usually don’t get done.







In case you’re wondering, yes, my mom loved the quilt.  And mostly, I loved making it.  The instructions were clear and easy to follow.  I remembered from previous sewing mishaps that when sewing long strips like this, it pays to alternate your sewing direction after each long seam.  So happily, I had straight pencils at the end.

The book has other fun projects as well.  I like the originality of the designs.  The hand-bound journal especially appeals to me.  Instead of simply covering a store-bought book, the instructions actually tell you how to MAKE a book.  I may have to try that one of these days.  (The picture below and picture of the book cover are both from the Martingale website.)

4ths B1232.indd









Happy Stitching!


Two Gift Ideas for the Quilters on Your List

How are we approaching the holiday season already?  Seems like just yesterday was the first day of fall. . . Anyway, if your Black Friday plans include shopping, I wanted to share with you two fun new titles from That Patchwork Place that might be perfect for quilty friends.  (Disclaimer:  Martingale provided me with digital review copies of these books.  All opinions expressed below are my own.  All images in this post are courtesy of Martingale.)









First up, A Flair for Fabric, compiled by Linda Lum DeBono (one of my all-time favorite designers).  This book incorporates projects from fifteen Henry Glass fabric designers, with a huge assortment of styles and techniques.  You’ll find applique, piecing, quilts, a sewing caddy, a pillow and an aromatherapy bag.  Some of the projects have a modern feel, others are very traditional.  What sets this book apart, however, is the page that comes after most of the project instructions.  The designers explain ways to use the leftover fabrics (from a coordinated line), with other fabrics in your stash to create a new look.  The tips are so insightful, I found myself skipping to each of these pages to try and absorb all the information at once.  They even covered topics like blending traditional small prints (think Civil War reproduction fabrics) with batiks!  It looks gorgeous in the book, I’m going to have to try out their tips on my own stash before I’ll completely believe that possibility. All of the designers featured in this book donated their work so that the book’s royalties could go straight to the Red Cross and victims of Hurricane Sandy.

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I think the tips alone make this book a good addition to a quilting reference library, but I’m also planning to make the cute quilting caddy!










Secondly, I’d like to share Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners by Molly Hanson with you.  If you’ve been around my blog for awhile, you know I’ve reviewed a LOT of beginning quilting books.  No matter how many of them I read, I always learn something new.  This one is no exception.  If this is your first free-motion book, you’ll find all the traditional basics, like tension, supplies, correct posture, and basic designs.  However, quilters of all skill levels will find something new in the project section.  Instead of saying “practice this technique on a scrap quilt sandwich”, she turns each practice piece into something functional- a make-up bag, a small tote, a zipper pouch.  So even if your first ventures into free-motion quilting aren’t perfect, you can still practice on pretty fabric and create something useful. I typically keep several practice pieces by my machine to “warm-up” on before I start an actual quilt.  Being able to turn those pieces into something I can use around the house is like a two-for-one deal!

Final B1278 Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners.indd






I hope your Thanksgiving is full of blessings and some good time to sew.  I’m looking forward to visiting with family and stitching a whole box full of hexies!


Book Review: Free-Motion Machine Quilting by Don Linn


Mr. Quilt book








C&T Publishing kindly provided me with a copy of this book for the review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Lately, I’ve been doing some research on mid-arm quilting machines.  Internet searches led to a review on Mr. Quilt’s website, and I was immediately impressed with his knowledge and practical reasoning in a well-articulated explanation of why quilters should consider mid-arm quilting machines over long-arm machines.  After poking around his website a bit more, I found out he’s written several machine quilting books, and I obtained a copy of Free-Motion Machine Quilting.

I’ve read (and reviewed) several books on free-motion quilting.  They each have incredible insights to share, and I’ve learned so much from them.  But “Mr. Quilt” presents an explanation of machine quilting unlike any other book on the market.  The book is a bit gritty, very humorous at times, and truly makes you feel as if you’re sitting in a class with an excellent teacher. The information presented is down-to-earth and practical.

Some of the best features of the books are his photographs of quilting problems.  Using his years of teaching as a reference, he illustrates just about every issue a person could encounter while free-motion quilting (except running over your finger with the needle.  He does reference it, but left out the picture for that one, thankfully!) He also has good explanations of WHY problems- like bad tension only on curves- occur. And each problem has a well-articulated explanation of how to correct it.

Another feature of this book that I appreciated was his attention to detail.  I’ve read so many books that explain starting and stopping a line of stitching.  They all say that professional quilters don’t backstitch, or stitch in place to secure their seams. But this book is the first one I’ve encountered that actually illustrates HOW to start and stop without backstitching or stitching in one place. Other well-explained details include a section on how to make sure your chair is adjusted to the right height for stitching, and a brilliant tip for maximizing your sewing time before stopping to reposition your hands.

I learned so much from this book. Mr. Quilt’s personable writing style makes even the driest topics interesting, and his sense of humor provides a good balance to the information. Regardless of whether you’re new to machine quilting, or have been working at it for years, this book is full of excellent information.

I’ve already started applying some of the tips I’ve learned from Mr. Quilt, and will have more to show you on that next week!

Happy Stitching!


Book Review- Forest Fairy Crafts

Not sure how summer zoomed by so quickly, but my kids go back to school in less than a week.  Between getting them ready, and some new quilts on tight turnarounds, I’m running a bit crazier than usual these days. So, if you will permit me, I’m pulling a post from my idea files for today.  If you follow the blog closely, you’ll see the kids’ ages are not current, as I wrote this last summer.  However, my kids pulled out the crafting boxes just today and made MORE gnomes and fairies, so the post is still absolutely relevant.  Enjoy, and I promise fresh, new, exciting content next week!

Forest Fairy Crafts cover







When Stash Books asked me to explore Forest Fairy Crafts with my kids, I jumped at the opportunity. Fairies are right up our alley, so to speak.  Our home is full of dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures, and not all of them belong to the kids!

As a disclosure, you should know I received a promotional copy of the book.  But I’m thinking about purchasing a second copy, as it became “well-loved” rather quickly with an adult and four kids trying to read it simultaneously! We made projects from every section of the book.  My older two children, aged 11 and 8, made all of their fairies and gnomes completely independently.  My younger two girls, aged 5 and 3, needed help, but were still able to actively participate.

I was especially impressed by how well this book “spoke” to my kids.  The analogies used to explain the hand stitches are fantastic! The directions cleverly illustrated felt amounts without measurements, so my children were able to figure out how much felt each fairy required.

I think the fairies themselves are the best testament to how much we enjoyed this book.  My oldest son at first remained aloof from the crafting, believing fairies and gnomes to be a bit “too girly”.  Then he discovered he could take the wooden pegs we bought for the gnomes and use the patterns to create dwarves instead.  He’s reading Tolkien right now, which explains the company of thirteen (but not the ninja dwarf in the foreground!)












Not to be outdone, the girls made the Ninja fairies.







Then they made Flower Fairies. My 8-year old daughter made these without help, and she was absolutely thrilled with the results. (I love the grin on the momma fairy’s face!)

mom and baby






While she was doing those, I made several with the younger girls (and the one on the far right is a “little sister” fairy of my very own!)

flower fairies






Eventually the girls wrangled wooden pegs away from their big brother, and made some Gnomes themselves (although he still helped some draw faces).







We also made several Mermaids.  At the time of this post, the 3-year-old’s pink polka dotted mermaid is still missing in action, but you can see the “tricky” and “fancy” tail variations in her big sisters’ mermaids.







Finally, we made a couple of the Treasure Keepers.  My 8-year old turned the Owl into a softie.  We modified the Unicorn instructions to make a giraffe for my 5-year old.









These projects were so simple and fun that I would lose my kids for hours at a time amidst piles of felt and silk flowers.  Often, the only time they’d surface would be to ask for more pegs and wooden beads (I underestimated their interest during the first two craft store trips.  Then I started buying the value packs of fairy heads and gnome bodies!)

Making the fairies was simply the start of the fun.  The kids have also played with them, packed them along on our summer road trip, and included them in all sorts of adventures.  The fairies have held up beautifully, and we haven’t had to make repairs yet, which is more than I can say for some of their store-bought toys.

Overall, this book is a lovely and satisfying adventure in fairy-crafting for children and adults alike. The projects are well-suited to young artists, and the fairies are perfectly sized for little hands and big imaginations.

Have you ever created a fairy?

Happy Stitching!


Pinwheels and Sunshine

It’s been a long while since I had a finished quilt to share! For such a tiny little table top quilt, this one has a LOT of background stories to share. Here’s my “Pinwheels and Sunshine” quilt, all sewn, bound, labeled and ready to send:

Pinwheels and Sunshine






Did you notice the straight line quilting?  If you’ve been following my blog awhile, you know straight lines are NOT my thing.  So how did I do the lines above?  (I was hoping you’d ask. . .) A couple of weeks ago, I was looking through You Can Quilt It! by Deborah Poole.  I wasn’t paying too much attention, since the book seemed geared to longarm quilters; I was just enjoying the gorgeous quilting photographs.








Then a sentence from the book jumped out at me, and I had a total EPIPHANY!  She was talking about how the book applies to longarm quilter, but many of the techniques are useful to domestic machine quilter too.  Then she started talking about rulers.  And ruler quilting feet.  Wait, what?!?  You can quilt with a RULER on your quilt?!?  (I’m pausing for dramatic effect here.  You can either be amazed along with me, or laugh at me.  I’m fine either way.)  Up to this point, I thought professional quilters only used rulers for marking their quilts, and I abhor marking on my quilts.   I thought longarm quilters either used pantographs or did quilts completely freehand.  But guiding a ruler alongside my freemotion foot?  I think I could do that. . .

So I googled the idea, and found Amy’s Freemotion Quilting Adventures.  She has a Janome 6600P just like me and does phenomenal quilting.  I read through her blog for a couple of hours, and came away with a shopping list.  Ruler toe foot, and rulers from Accents in Design.

I won’t say quilting with rulers is easy.  But it is intuitive, and a LOT of fun.  Here’s a close-up of my first attempt at ruler work:

close-up quilting






And the back, with the Accents in Design ruler shown.  That white strip is velcro, which helps the ruler hold your quilt.  And you use the pegs as grips for your fingers.  I really, really love this ruler so far.








To finish off the quilt quickly and easily, I used a label tutorial from Sassafras Lane.







Oh, and the muffins pictured up top?  Those are nutmeg muffins.  They taste almost like cake donuts, and make a lovely quick breakfast with a cup of coffee. Yum!

Today I’m linking up with Fort Worth Fabric Studio and Amy’s Free Motion Quilting Adventure.

And I’m off to wrap up some more quilting.  I currently have five quilts that need quilting, so I’m going to get a LOT more practice with these rulers in the next couple of weeks.  What are you up to this weekend?

Happy Stitching!









Hiding in my Scrap Bins. . .

A while back, I posted about organizing my scraps.  Since then, those lovely bags have been calling for attention incessantly.  So when I needed a quick gift idea, and Martingale sent me a copy of Civil War Legacies II to review, I finally had a good excuse to play with my scraps!

Civil War Legacies II







Let me just start by saying, I’m not a huge fan of reproduction fabrics.  I know some people can’t live without them, but I lean more towards bright colors and big patterns.  So I almost didn’t give this book a second glance.  But the idea of little quilts charmed me.  Paging through the book, I realized that the patterns might also look awesome in brighter color schemes.  I really liked how Carol Hopkins shared interesting stories about each pattern’s name and the blocks.  I decided to try out her Bonnet Ties pattern.  (You know, of all the quilty things I’ve made, I had NEVER made a pinwheel block before?!  High time to change that!!)

If you’re new to quiltmaking, be sure you read the quilting basics chapter at the end of the book.  The instructions alongside the pattern are not quite as detailed as the back  of the book.  Since I was working with bigger scraps, and did not want to sew the bias angle on each pinwheel triangle (those blocks are only 3″ across!), I looked up half-square triangles on the internet, and found great tutorials about sewing those diagonal seams before you cut the fabric.

Other than that, her directions were clear and accurate, and I soon had a whole pile of little blocks.  Since this gift is a table decoration, I made my quilt top with fewer blocks than the one in the book, and I changed the layout a little.

Here’s my pieced version of Bonnet Ties, made entirely from scraps:

pinwheel quilt







Kind of fun, huh?  Be sure to check back Friday, as I’ll have pictures of the finished quilt to show before it gets mailed off to its new home.

In other news, I’m excited to announce that The Caffeinated Quilter will be the Texas stop on the American Made Brand blog tour from May 19- June 20.  This is going to be one fun tour!!  We’re all working on license-plate sized blocks representing our states.  AMB will be giving away fat quarter bundles of their gorgeous solids at each stop of the tour.  And the designers will be giving away goodies too. . .


Linking up to Vicki Welsh’s delightfully named “HSTeria Quilt Along”.

HSTeria Quilt Along


Happy HSTitching!




Book Review: Hexagons Made Easy

Disclaimer:  Martingale Publications kindly provided me with a copy of Hexagons Made Easy.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.








Today I’m excited to share a trendy book with you, Hexagons Made Easy by Jen Eskridge.  If you’re a regular at the Caffeinated Quilter, you probably love hexagons as much as I do.  I’ve been piecing hexagons all sorts of ways, English paper piecing, hand and machine stitching with From Marti Michell templates, Inklingo, and using folded hexagon techniques.  But this book provides an unusual technique called facing, and it’s great for big, simple hexagon quilts.

I really enjoyed the lovely photography and modern designs in this book.  Even if you’re a fan of more traditional designs, you’ll find inspirations in the hexagon quilting ideas.





To test out the instructions, I made the Peekaboo table runner with a charm pack of Over the Rainbow batiks from Moda.  Instead of drafting my own template (which she describes in detail so you can make hexagons in any size you like), I used the 2″ acrylic template in the From Marti Michell template set G.  This little table runner went together very quickly.  I love that it’s reversible.  The instructions were well-written and easy to follow.  I can see making more of these when I need a quick gift idea, or new holiday decor.






Some descriptions of this book label it as an alternative to English paper piecing, so I decided to try out the technique with 1″ hexagons.  I had some leftover Inklingo hexagons, and began sewing them together with the facing technique.  I found the 1″ hexagons to be too small for this method.  The start and stop points were too close to the corners for accuracy, and they were difficult to turn right-side out.  So for tiny hexagons, I think I would stick to traditional methods.








However, for larger hexagons and hexagons used as appliqued accents, this method is fantastic.  This book also provides a neat section with 18 block ideas that incorporate hexagons into square blocks.  That just opens an entire new world of hexi possibilities. . .








(This photograph and the cover photo courtesy of Martingale)

Happy Stitching!