December 27, 2012

Big Finish: Embroidered Monogram Pillows

Embroidered Pillows

Now that Christmas has passed and gifts have been given and received, I'm happy to be able to share these embroidered pillows that I made for my two sisters. The letters B and G are for their last names.

Embroidered B Pillow

This project started with the B embroidery. I found the font pattern here, in the collection of flowered monograms from a vintage embroidery book, La Broderie Blanche, 1912.  I chose everything in this pillow to coordinate with the acorn fabric.

Embroidered B Pillow

After I finished the embroidery panel, I considered a few different designs to frame it.  I settled on this Sun Rays block design from Twin Fibers (tutorial here).  I love the look of the mitered corners, and the strips allowed me to incorporate a lot of different fabrics to coordinate with the acorns.  The back of the pillow is done in the brown with white hash marks.

Embroidered G Pillow

As I was working on the B embroidery, I decided to make another pillow with a G for my other sister. I decided to use a different monogram design (found here) and a different color palette.  I tried to just figure out the hand embroidery as I went along, and this design required a lot of fill stitches.

Embroidered G Pillow

The fabrics in the surrounding Sun Rays block are almost all from a scrap pack that I received from Art Gallery Fabrics after I responded to a post about the giveaway on Facebook.  Lucky me!  The back of the pillow is the same grey scroll print that's just visible on the outer border.  For both pillows, I used this tutorial for adding a zipper with a flap to conceal it on the back.

December 18, 2012

Great Hostess Gift: DIY Mistletoe

Luckily for us, Hannah from Secrets of a Belle has been gracious enough to share her how-to for making your own mistletoe.  I don't know about you, but I love a little mistletoe around the house during the holidays, and this one I can hang up year after year which is great! Hannah created this cool felt mistletoe that is great over doorways, hanging on trees, or tied to a loved one's present as a decorative topper.

What you'll need:
Green felt
Green thread
Ribbon (and thread to match)
What You'll Do:
  1. Download and print the pattern off on a sheet of regular letter-size paper, and cut out the shapes.
  2. Lay out the pattern pieces and cut out your felt. (You can also use freezer paper for this step. Trace the shape onto the freezer paper and cut it out with a little extra all the way around, lightly iron the waxy side to your felt, and then cut the pattern and felt at the same time. Peel off the paper to reveal your felt shape.)
  3. Layer your pieces of felt from largest to smallest and stitch them together.
    Two tips: 1.) It helps to leave a little space at the top of the largest piece for attaching your bow and loop later. 2.) I folded the smallest piece over to help hide some of the stitches.
  4. Sew on your pearls as the little mistletoe berries.
  5. Tie your ribbon into a bow and attach just above your pearls. With another piece of ribbon, make a loop to attach to the back for easy hanging.
For more holiday ideas from our favorite belle, Hannah, don't forget to visit her blog Secrets of a Belle.

December 14, 2012

Asheville Pinterest Contest + Giveaway

Explore Asheville is giving away lots of prizes including a vacation to Asheville, NC (one of my most favorite places) via a great Pin-It-to-Win-It contest, and you can find all the details here at Spice Up Your Holidays.

For those of you addicted to Pinterest like me, the rules are simple! Build a holiday board on Pinterest called "Spice Up Your Holidays," and repin the official contest pin plus four others from their board.  Add five more of your own holiday-inspired pins, and then submit the URL via the official entry form here.

The contest runs from now through December 21, so head over to get your official contest pin and get going!

December 12, 2012

This and That and a Few Other Things Too

I have a bit of an attention problem when it comes to crafts.  First I can't focus on anything except trolling my favorite blogs looking for ideas of things to make.  Then I can't decide what to work on first.  After I get started, I inevitably find something new to try, and before I know it, I have a dozen projects in the works.  So here's a sampling of what I've been up to in the last few months -- some are successful finishes (insert pat on the back) and others are still works in progress.

1.  Drawstring project bag for Emily (our sister whose crochet critters have been featured here on the blog)
I've made many of these lined drawstring bags from the pattern created by Jeni of In Color Order.  This bicycle and bunting combo is one of my favorites.

You can see more of these bags that I've made here.

2.  Quilt blocks to contribute to a baby quilt
For this project, I received instructions to use aqua, orange, and pink in blocks for a gender-neutral baby quilt for a member of the Indy Modern Quilt Guild.  The block on the left is what I ended up with after my plan went, well, not wrong, but pretty far off-track from what I originally envisioned.  The block on the right is called Birdbath from Elizabeth Hartman's book The Practical Guide to Patchwork.  I particularly like how the birdbath block turned out, and I'm thinking there may be more of those blocks in my quilting future.


3. Birthday pillow for a friend
A few years ago I made this Friendship Braid quilt as a housewarming gift for a friend.

I cut my own 2.5-inch strips for it and still had a lot of them left, so for her birthday this year I decided to make a coordinating pillow.

4.  Baby bibs galore
I've been making lots and lots of baby bibs lately -- like burp cloths, you can't have just one.  Every so often I pick up some new cute flannels and whip up a few more bibs for my gift stash.


5. Felted flowers
I attempted the felted flowers pattern from Aesthetic Nest, and when it turned out well, I just couldn't stop making them.  After felting, I add a pin back to the big flowers.  I think they'd make nice accents on winter coats and bags, so plenty of my friends are getting them as gifts this Christmas.  The small flowers are great tree ornaments, so those may be going out the door as gifts as well.
before felting

after felting

December 9, 2012

Block of the Month Project: Block #16

Block of the Month: Block 16

This chain block for September forced us to work with curves and lots of smallish pieces. It was pretty intimidating, but with patience (and a lot of pins, at least on my block) we conquered those curves for these cool, modern blocks.  Luckily for us, the same curved blocks appear in Block 17, so watch for an upcoming post on that one.
(P.S. How cute is that Zoey?  Eventually Amanda will catch up on her blocks, but until then Zoey makes a pretty great placeholder in our photo series.)

December 8, 2012

Nativity: 12 Months of Ornaments {December}

December Ornament: Nativity

I decided to let the December ornament be a surprise.  (Turns out it's hard to think up a new theme each month!)  I wasn't sure what to make until I saw this "Stable" pattern from Mollie of Wild Olive.  Mollie provides a PDF with all the pattern pieces; I used freezer paper to temporarily secure them to my felt so that I could more easily cut them out.  A bit of embroidery to secure each piece, and it was pretty much done.

December Ornament: Nativity (back)
Mollie's pattern leaves the back of the stable exposed, but I decided to cover my stitches with another piece of brown felt.  I made this one for my niece Hannah, to mark her first Christmas with the family.  I hope she enjoys putting this one on the tree each year.

December 7, 2012

Block of the Month Project: Block #15

Block of the Month: Block 15
Surprise!  Mid-August rolled around and Amanda was occupied with preparing for a new arrival, so Caitie and I were left to tackle the remaining blocks on our own.  We have this lovely Double Star to show for our efforts.  Amanda has the adorable Zoey -- I think she wins this one.

Check out our other blocks in the Craftsy Block of the Month series:
Block #1, Block #2, Block #3, Block #4, Block #5, Block #6,
Block #7, Block #8, Block #9, Block #10, Block #11, Block #12,
Block #13, Block #14

December 6, 2012

Block of the Month Project: Block #14

Block of the Month: Block 14

Gosh, I'm definitely behind on posting these blocks.  This Ohio Star was our first block for August.  It's a simple design with a lot of oomph, and I think we were each happy with our results.  Check out those crisp points!

Check out our other blocks in the Craftsy Block of the Month series:
Block #1, Block #2, Block #3, Block #4, Block #5, Block #6
Block #7, Block #8, Block #9, Block #10, Block #11, Block #12,
Block #13

December 4, 2012

November Ornament: Baby Stocking

November: Mom's stocking

My mom knitted this teeny little stocking for the November ornament theme -- just a little something she whipped up in between all the wooly socks she knits to send to orphanages overseas.
Jen's intention with this year-long ornament challenge was to create some ornaments that would be toddler-friendly in her home.  This one will be perfect when granddaughter Hannah visits and heads straight for Mom's tree in all her toddler curiosity.

December 2, 2012

Yarn: 12 Months of Ornaments {November Theme}

'Tis a little late to be announcing the November ornament theme, but that's just the way things are right now.  The theme is yarn.  I have a lot of it, and I just can't help myself when I find nice soft yarn in lovely colors, so my stash is destined to continue growing.  But I do use it, so it doesn't just sit around looking pretty (although it does that as well).

This month I made 3 small ornaments.  I used Patons Classic Wool yarn left over from a few other projects and made small felt flowers using this crochet pattern from Aesthetic Nest.  (If you're looking for eye candy, spend some time at Aesthetic Nest -- it's amazing.)  My crochet skills lag far behind my knitting skills, but I took this pattern and some basic crochet instructions on vacation recently, and with a little help from my mom, I was able to conquer both the large and small felt flowers.  These flowers are addictive -- I've made a least a dozen at this point.  I prefer the large flower, which has 3 layers of petals and a more defined shape after it's felted, but the small flower (with 2 layers of petals) makes a great tree ornament ... or three.

November: Yarn

November 28, 2012

Gingerbread Houses in Asheville, NC

This was my favorite of the competition. While technically not a "house" the multiple layers of
gingerbread that made up this tree and decorations were gorgeous.

My husband and I kicked off the Christmas season with a trip to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.  I've always wanted to go and catch The National Gingerbread Competition and this was my chance. I snapped pictures of a few of my favorites to share, but I would highly recommend seeing them in person. They are truly amazing and inspirational. You'll want to give it a try yourself  (or at least buy one of the $100 plastic versions in the gift shop!).

I loved the different interpretations of houses, like this windmill.

The glass windows in this traditional gingerbread house were the best in the competition.

If you're as inspired as I was, check out these "How to Make Gingerbread House" instructions I found.

November 25, 2012

Project Life

You know when you run across something and you say to yourself "Why on earth did I not come up with that?" Well it has happened to me again. Meet Project Life -- maybe you've heard of it?  I certainly hadn't until I ran across some examples on Pinterest... I have now started a Pinterest board to collect all the good Project Life ideas I've found.

Basically, it's slot-and-scribble scrapbooking for people like me.
1.) I don't have time to scrapbook with a toddler running around trying to get into everything I do; and
2.) I'm not that creative when it comes to scrapbooking and I'm never, ever happy with the results, which is why I've abandoned most scrapbooking projects over the years.

Project Life works like this: You buy the plastic sleeves, the binder, and journaling cards, you slide the cards in with some pictures, and you're good to go. While it isn't sold in Jo-Anns or Hobby Lobby, it is available on, and I lucked out with free shipping on mine, which was awesome.  Project Life also is available in a digital version you can build, but that just seemed like more time in front of the computer, which I'm trying to avoid.

Most Project Lifers seem to focus on books featuring weekly journaling spreads, which gets you 52 weeks worth of content, but I've decided to focus this first year on monthly spreads with a few extra sheets thrown in here and there.  That's really the most I can handle during limited nap times and that brief window of time in the evenings -- you know, the after-she-goes-to-bed-but-before-we-go-to-bed time.

Here are a few ways I've kept up with Project Life over the past months:
  • I have a Project Life large envelope in the binder for each month. Throughout the month, I will put trinkets, pictures, artwork, tickets, and other memorabilia in the envelope; when I'm ready to work on a page, I pull out what I need and leave what I don't. I don't want to throw anything away, so the envelope allows me to store items that didn't fit in the binder display, and they're still available to riffle through later.
  • I have started saving my photos with filenames ending in the month and year. I now have a set of picture_Oct12.jpg photos ready for printing. I know exactly what month I took them, so it's easier to keep track if my plans change and I can't get to my October pages for a little while.
  • I bought a color printer. There was a sale at Best Buy, I had an online coupon, and when it was all said and done, having a $100 printer that prints wirelessly from my iPhone and iPad and scans just about anything saves me printing dollars, gas to pick them up, and/or the wait when I have them sent through the mail. It was just worth it. When I'm ready to work, there's nothing stopping me, and I can photo edit on the fly.
  • I'm keeping it simple. There are some amazing, creative Project Lifers out there, but I had an honest conversation with myself about my time and goals. For me, ensuring that I can walk into 2013 with the 2012 Project Life album done was more important than creating embellished layouts and designs. I'm doing my best to stick to the basics and enhance things here and there.
There are some really excellent scrapbooks spreads I found inspiring and amazing on my Project Life Pinterest board . I'm going to work to add more designs and journal cards... you gotta have goals right?!?

November 22, 2012

Sneak Peek: Sliced 4-Patch Baby Quilt

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I have a book review posted over on Craft Buds today as part of the blog tour for the new quilting book Modern Designs for Classic Quilts by Kelly Biscopink and Andrea Johnson.

In addition to the book review, I decided to make one of the projects from the book to feature here on Inspire Me Grey.  I was a little short on time, so here's a sneak peek of my work-in-progress.  I used the sliced 4-patch quilt pattern from the book, specifically Kelly's smaller variation, La Femme de la Mer Quilt.  In order to use fabric that I already had on hand, I made my quilt scrappy with a fat quarter bundle of Riley Blake's Woodland Tails that I won in a giveaway from Hawthorne Threads earlier this year. I picked fat quarters from the blue and green palettes for a gender-neutral color combination.

The quilt top still needs a border, but here's a sneak peek.  This pattern was really easy to follow and came together quickly.  The finished top will be around 36 x 46.  (My piecing isn't always perfect, so my blocks are a tad smaller than the pattern in the book.)  The great thing about making the quilt with lots of prints is that they disguise my straight seams that don't line up perfectly.  Who cares about perfect corners anyway when there are frolicking lambs and little skunks to admire? 


November 9, 2012

October Ornament: More Letters

October: Letters

Before I head off on a little vacation sans laptop, I wanted to share my second ornament from October.  (Here's my first.)  I decided to try something different with this one and bought a piece of 12x12 scrapbook paper with "Merry Christmas" printed all over it.  I used this tutorial from Bird's Party Blog to assemble the paper ball.  I don't have a large circle punch, so the most tedious part of the process was probably cutting out all the circles. I like the print on paper design of this ornament, the dimension, and the fact that the words are going in all different directions.

October 31, 2012

Christmas Cookies: It's Never Too Early to Start Planning (and Pinning)!

Buttercream Blondie Cookies
                                                                              Source: via Jen & Elizabeth on Pinterest

I have to admit that one of my favorite things about the Christmas season is the cookies. It's the one time of year when I really enjoy baking cookies and trying out new recipes. Don't get me wrong, every now and then a bag of Nestle chocolate chips inspires me to get out the mixer, but scooping and baking cookies on a regular basis has a few downsides:
A) Weather in the South is not particularly cookie friendly. Most of the year it's just too hot to have the oven on for hours at a time, and who wants to get all sweaty making cookies?
B) Cookies are not good for my waistline. I find it hard to get my walk in every day, and I don't need Mr. Cookie piling on when I'm not able to regularly burn him off.

Just so you know that I'm not a complete "Debbie Downer" when it comes to cookies, I do embrace them during the Christmas season. The oven makes the house toasty and warm, and there's nothing better than a cookie and a hot cup of tea after being outside.

In the pursuit of all things cookie-licious, I've started a cookie focused Pinterest board to collect some recipes and decorating ideas. Now some, I will admit, are pinned just because I thought they were pretty (I'm no cookie Picasso!), but some are very doable and might make it to my daughter's school this year. Here are some of my favorites!

Must try for 2012 because I love the red color, red velvet, and crinkle cookies in general.

These vintage Santas are so cheery.

(Source: via Jen & Elizabeth on Pinterest)

I could eat an entire box of spritz cookies...they're so good!

(Source: via Jen & Elizabeth on Pinterest)

October 23, 2012

October Ornament: Letters

E is for Elizabeth
This is my first of two letter-themed ornaments for the month of October.  For this one, I pulled out a felted wool clutch from my discard pile (after it was felted, the handles were too tight) and decided to see what would happen if I cut it up.  Turns out it makes pretty decent ornament material.  I'd made the clutch with a combination of light blue and cream yarn, so the letter has a mottled look.  I added a blanket stitch around the outside and hung it up with the rest of my collection.

**Please forgive the rusty flag bracket -- it was too windy to get a good shot of the ornament hanging on the usual evergreen tree in my front yard.

October 21, 2012

Letters: 12 Months of Ornaments {October Theme}

I can't believe it's already late October!  My collection of ornaments is growing rapidly, and before I know it, it will be time to put them on the Christmas tree.  The ornament theme for October is letters -- monograms, text, writing, and more.

October 17, 2012

Block of the Month Project: Block #13

Block of the Month: Block 13

It's Lucky Number 13!  Our 13th block in the series is this great Modern Dresden Wheel.  The straight lines really set it apart from the Traditional Dresden Plate that we made for Block 12.  It's a nice clean design, but as you can see there's still some room for creativity -- Amanda used a yellow center for a sunny look, I went with a neutral center, and Caitie used prints throughout.

Check out our other blocks in the Craftsy Block of the Month series:
Block #1, Block #2, Block #3, Block #4, Block #5, Block #6
Block #7, Block #8, Block #9, Block #10, Block #11, Block #12

October 16, 2012

More September Ornaments

September: Ornament

We have more September ornaments to share!  The theme was, well, ornaments, so there was a lot of room for creativity.  Jen put together this amazing felt stained glass design.  It's so bright and clever -- great job Jen!

September: Ornament
Our mom also joined the fun this month with this sparkly yellow ball ornament.  Sequins, beads, silver ribbon, and a glittery button -- it's bright and cheerful and appropriately girly for Jen's little princess Hannah, who can't resist adding a little (or a lot) of jewelry and accessories to every outfit.


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