24. May 2016 · Comments Off on No Scrap Left Behind · Categories: Sewing · Tags: , , , ,

I’ve adopted a new philosophy when it comes to sewing . . . no scrap left behind.

Now I’m not all into the “Scrap Vortex” quilts that were making their way across the quilty world a year or so ago that kinda made my eyes want to pop out.

Scrap Vortexscreen shot of the images that popped up when I Googled scrap vortex

These scraps are just toooooo much for me.  Way too busy.  No place for the eye to rest.

I have instead decided to deal with my scraps on a per project basis.  This way there’s fewer fabrics to deal with at one time and theoretically they should all go together nicely.

The project I’d like to highlight today started with a four pack of Marimekko napkins I bought at Target.


I decided to turn them into tote bags for my son’s preschool teachers.  Nevermind the fact I later learned there were actual Marimekko tote bags available as well.  Harrumpfh.  Handmade is always better anyway right?  Right.  I used a free tutorial by Noodlehead for the Madras Tote Bag.  I made a few changes:

– skipped the canvas as interfacing

– skipped the pocket

– added fusible fleece and quilting to the napkin exterior panels

– lengthened the straps a bit

I shared these bags on my Instagram account but here’s the gist for those of you not on that space:

IMG_7951 RW

IMG_7952 RW

IMG_7947 RW

I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out thank you very much.

This project left some random scraps.  Lots of long scraps from the interior fabric as well as the finished edges of the napkins.  Most people probably would have chucked the pile and moved on to the next project.  Not me.

I started by cutting one inch strips off the Marimekko napkin leftovers and two inch strips of the teal and pink.  I used my bias tape maker to fold the pink and teal in on themselves to make one inch finished strips.  This was the result, a woven mini quilt that my son has already claimed for his room:

DSC_0762 RW

DSC_0761 RW

DSC_0763 RW

It measures roughly 8″ x 15″ and I washed it when I was done to help roughen up the edges of the raw edge Marimekko fabric.

Next up was another woven panel, this time nothing was measured or cut or folded and it seriously used bits of fabric that otherwise would have been chucked.  The folded over finished napkin edges I had cut off.  The pink and teal whose edges had frayed when I prewashed the fabric.

DSC_0755 RW

DSC_0760 RW

The pieces are not uniform.  The panel isn’t square.  I love it.  It’s raw and organic and completely unique.  I’m too lazy to go and measure it but it’s bigger than the mini and maybe destined to be a tote bag of its very own one day.  I haven’t decided yet.

Both panels were made using the Wefty weaving needles that my pal Tara sent me.  You can check her and the weaving process out here and here.

Next up are improv blocks, which are more the style I usually go with when busting scraps.

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These blocks will be added to my improv block collection which will someday be its own project.  Except the little guy.  He may want to be a mini mini quilt.  He’s super tiny and adorable.

All together now:

DSC_0751 RW

There are officially no more of these scraps left.  Not one.  Wahoo!

Thanks for following along on my sewing journey with me.  Till next time, whenever that might be . . .

– Joanna

04. March 2016 · Comments Off on Improv Feathers for Andee · Categories: Quilting, Sewing, Swap · Tags: , , , , ,

Hi there.

I’ve been sewing.  Not blogging.

I have a really old and slow computer.

Plus sewing is more fun than blogging.

I just wanted to pop in and share a mini quilt I made for my friend Andee on Instagram.

Andee is an artist and I am swapping her these lovely feathers for a drawing of my beloved dog who passed away last November.

Feathers RW

Andee asked for greys, blues and oranges and said she loved feathers and birds.

Can.  Do.

Feathers on Step RW

I LOVED making this mini.  It was all improv and, aside from the curved feather, used very few pins in the piecing.  That’s my kind of project.

I was a little sad to see it go, but I am so very happy it will be loved in its new home.  I have a generous pile of scraps from this project that I will most likely turn into another mini for myself.

The title of this piece is “Orange You Glad We Swapped? I Yam.” and runs about 15 x 22 inches.

Feathers Corner RW

Thanks for swapping Andee.  I can’t wait to see my precious Koi (The Snoops) again.

– Joanna


23. December 2015 · Comments Off on 2016 Planning Party · Categories: Quilting, Sewing · Tags: , , ,

Hiya.  I’m back.  October was a super busy month with my son’s birthday party then Halloween.  Then of course the holidays crept up and some crazy person realized they had suggested handmade Christmas a year ago (ahem, cough, darting eyes) and hadn’t prepared.


The funny thing about blogging is, once you get out of the habit . . . you get out of the habit.  And I’m definitely out of the habit.  The funnier thing?   I’m okay with that.  I started this blog almost four years ago with a focus on food and photography that morphed into food satire (go ahead, scratch your head over this, you know you want to) that morphed into stopping cold turkey for awhile that morphed into quilting.  How’s that for consistency?  At first the purpose of my blog was mainly to give this brand new SAHM something to do, a way into an online community that could provide me with a little social interaction (babies don’t hold conversations very well, who knew?) and a little purpose beyond changing diapers.

It did that.  I made a few great friends that I still have too!  But . . . it took way too much of my time.  Even now as my blogging has decreased from three times a week at the beginning to a few times a month to hey, how have you been the last quarter I would still rather be doing something else.  Like sewing.  I’m sure you ALL understand that feeling.  That brings up the question, what do I want for my blog?  For me?

In light of that, I’m hopping onto a linky party by Quilting Jetgirl.  Ironically my first bullet point will be not to worry about linky parties anymore.  Don’t lecture.

So here we go.  My (quilting) goals for 2016.


Goal 1:  Don’t stress about this blog.  Blog when I want to.  Blog about what I want to.  Do not hold myself to any ridiculous standard of posting schedules that conform purely to dates and times other blogs have link up parties.  What is the purpose of link ups you ask?  It’s pretty simple . . . to bring people to your blog.  I’ve decided not to care about this.  When I switched the focus here to quilting, it was mainly because my mother urged me to keep a record of everything I make.  I still think that is the very best plan for me.  I still love photography and photographing my makes (though it is frustrating for me that that the only free time I have to do this is my daughters nap time which is my least favorite time of day for photography – I’m an early evening kinda gal.)

I just told you what I want for this blog.  But what DON’T I want?  I’m not looking to be famous.  I don’t want a million readers and sponsors and companies sending me freebies that will just eat more into the little free time I have.  I don’t want to create tutorials and teach others (yet) because I have way too much to learn myself.  I don’t want to write and publish quilt patterns.  I don’t want a book or a line of fabric (okay maybe I do want this one . . . it’ll be all bunnies, nothing but bunnies, bunnies as far as the eye can see!).

The other day I woke up early and didn’t feel like sewing or cleaning, which is what I normally do in the wee hours of the morning.  So I lay in bed, listened to my husband snore, and browsed my own blog.  I realized I am quite proud of the space I created here.  I’m proud of its diversity and ability to remind me of things I had forgotten.

Goal 2:  Finally get a sewing table.  I sew on the dining room table BUT we have a guest room that almost never gets used for guests (I already keep my sewing supplies in there).  Of course the one time someone wants to stay is right after I’ve just laid out 120 quilt blocks on the bed aka my design wall.  Figures.  My husband says we can talk about converting the guest room completely to my sewing room at some point.  In the meantime I have a corner carved out and really want to finally get a table.  It needs to be a certain size and dimension and of course I’m the crazy person who took apart my grandmothers old dining room table in the hopes of repurposing the wood into my sewing table.  I’m complicated.  I know.

Here’s my future sewing corner.  Hopefully.


Goal 3:  Be on Instagram less.  I check Instagram way too often and really want to be more intentional about this.  More mindful.  I’d love to detox from it every weekend and I’d really love to give it up completely for lent next year.  I think this will help me focus on my makes rather than others’ makes.  I’ve already made some nice friends there though so I do really love the Instagram community.

Goal 4:  Make a lap quilt.  I’ve made lots of mini’s and mini mini’s and baby quilts . . .

Minis small

but nothing I can snuggle under.  I really want to change this.  I have a Modernized Disappearing Nine Patch laid out on the guest bed.  It fills the entire top of the bed so it’s going to be big.  I may pay a long armer to quilt this for me.  Maybe Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl or Cassandra from Not So Dramatic Life?  I think they both offer these services.  I don’t know anyone local and would rather pay shipping charges to have someone I trust quilt my very first large quilt for me.

Modern D9Patch

Goal 5:  Finish my WIP’s or send them packing.  Probably to mom’s house.  WIP’s make me twitchy.  And my tastes have changed drastically in the past year as I become more ingrained in the quilting world.  I either want to finish my WIP’s or give them up entirely.  I’ve already sent one project to mom and she’s currently completing a lap quilt for me to give to my Mother-in-Law for next Mother’s Day.  I have a few long term scrap projects (a Wanta Fanta quilt for one) I want to start but I NEED to get the other WIP’s in check before I start more.

Goal 6:  Buy less fabric.  Learn to WANT less fabric.  I’ve spent the last 5 months not buying fabric other than for projects involving birthdays or gifts.  I started this partially because there was a chance my husband would be needing back surgery and our insurance deductible is pretty high.  So not buying fabric seemed like a logical choice.  I also find myself getting a little anxious over all the new fabric lines that are constantly being released.  This is part of my issue with Instagram.  I see all the fabric everyone raves about and all the stash reports and all the amazing stuff being made with all the amazing fabric and it’s an overwhelming feeling for me.  I don’t like it.  I want to be the kind of person that is grateful and thankful for what I have and not be continually wanting more more more.  I think I am going to set a monthly budget for myself for my sewing hobby and I’m hoping this will help keep fabric purchases in check and help me be more intentional about what I buy.  Also I have realized that I don’t need half yards of every fabric in a line I like.  Fat quarters or even fat eighths are sufficient to whet my whistle and larger yardage can be saved for pieces I truly love or basics like the Grunge line from Moda.  My husband does NOT need back surgery, by the way (woot and woot) and his back is doing pretty well these days.  Prayers do work it seems.  Because we pray for this alllllll the time.

Goal 7:  Start saving for a new sewing machine.  This is a long term plan.  I’d like a Janome Memory Craft 6300.  Renee at Quilts of a Feather has one.  Jessica at Quilty Habit has one.  My mom has one.  I have no desire to jump down the sewing machine research rabbit hole.  Recommendations by these ladies are plenty good enough for me.  My hope is to have a new machine when my daughter enters preschool so I have almost two years to save the money.  I think I can do it.

Goal 8:  Say NO.  To myself.  To others.  I see this a lot in quilt goals.  A lot a lot.  Which means it’s doubly important.  It also means I think you get it and I don’t need to elaborate too much.  I always told my mom growing up that quilters are TOO nice.  I still think this is true and sometimes to the detriment of their own goals and desires.  There is a line between doing for others (which I want to do – see Goal 10) and doing for yourself.  I’m planning on finding it.

Goal 9:  Take regular planned sewing breaks.  I actually find this helps me refocus.  Gives me a chance to work on projects around the home like painting the dining room (I did this last month) or reorganizing the kitchen pantries (this is my January project), to sleep in if I want to (I’m an early morning quilter – early like 5 am) and to appreciate sewing again.  I think a 2-3 week break every 3 months should do it.

Goal 10:  Do for others.  I’ve made a few nice friends already and I hope to make more.  I’d like to be an encourager to these women who have encouraged me.  I’d like to send cards through the mail telling them how great they are.  I’d like to mail random fat quarters to internet friends for no reason other than to surprise them and brighten their day.  I’d like to do a few small giveaways on Instagram to pay it forward.

Goal 11:  Learn the scant quarter inch seam allowance.  I use a quarter inch piecing foot so my seams are consistent. Consistent is good but my seams are always just over a quarter inch.  When you add this up over an entire quilt top it can amount to quite a bit lost.  I’d like to correct this.  To have a 12 inch block come out to 12 inches.  Exactly 12 inches.

Goal 12:  Explore art quilts more.  I’ve always thought my sewing path would lead me to making art quilts.  I still do.  I want to let go of that sewing which makes me unhappy (I’m talking to you half square triangle), find my creative spark again and CREATE!

Goal 13:  Give myself a break.  Relax.  This one is self explanatory.

Goal 14:  Figure out quilt labels.

I’m sure there is more but like WIP’s, too long of a goal list might make me twitchy as well.

See ya later alligator.  (I really hope one of you just said after while crocodile).

– Joanna

Linking up with Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl for 2016 Planning Party

I’ve been at this computer too long as it is so I’m not going back and spell checking.  So ignore any misspellings mmmm k? Thanks.


20. May 2015 · Comments Off on WIP – Rainbow Bed Runner · Categories: Flimsy Finish, Quilting, Sewing, Work In Progress · Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s interesting to me that in the quilting world a “finish” can mean many things.  I finished cutting up fabric.  I finished piecing the top.  I finished quilting but I still need to bind.  I actually finished the whole quilt and caboodle.

A pieced top is called a flimsy.  So technically today’s share is not only a WIP (work in progress) but also a flimsy finish.  That does present a problem for me as to where to link up this post.  Do I link it up with a work in progress link?  Or a finish link?  Not both, because I am just not that much of a risk taker.  Go ahead and insert laughter here.  Or at least a chuckle.  A harrumpf maybe?

Since I pieced this top a gazillion years ago (okay maybe one and a half . . . two tops) I’m going with work in progress.  Because it has suddenly bugged me that it’s not actually finished.

Bench RW

Also my husband recently commented that for all the fabric I buy, I don’t have much to show for it.  That’s the problem with quilters – one, they tend to give things away and two, they tend to have a bazillion works in progress.  And when you’ve been focused on quilting for a mere six months like me (plus have two small kids in tow) . . . well, you don’t have much around the house to stare at.

So I’m working on this so we have something stare at.  Because it’s a bed runner.  And they really aren’t useful other than to stare at.  Unfortunately I have this bed runner ear marked for the guest room.  A room in which my husband never ever enters.  So really, he still isn’t going to have anything to stare at when I’m done.

This fabric was purchased as a jelly roll strip from JoAnn’s (back before I became a total designer fabric snob.)  My intent simply was to learn to sew in a straight line.  It was the second top I’ve ever sewn together.  I had no clue I was supposed to be sewing a quarter inch seam allowance or that maybe I should have cut the selvage edge off first (meh, I can do that later so no bigs really.)

Back RW

There’s also a snag, which I knew about before sewing, but as this was a precut roll and I had a color pattern in mind I decided to leave it be and deal with it later.  I’ll just iron some sort of stabilizer to the back and it’ll be fine, especially with the amount of use it’ll be getting.

Snag RW

It’s cheap fabric.  And rainbows are a bit overdone in the quilt world.  But I think it’s pretty.  And the lines really are pretty straight.  Well before I discovered the quarter inch seam presser foot too.

In a Tree RW

If you are new here I should warn you I put things in trees to photograph.

Falling Off RW

Then they tend to fall off.

This is less annoying with fabric than cookies though.

But really annoying in the snow.


Rail RW

I’m hoping to work on quilting this soon.  I’ve already picked up the backing fabric – a super cool large scale print called Big City that’s going to be perfect!  I might even like the back better so I may be flipping the bed runner over on occasion to mix things up.

Rebel.  Me.

I’m working on prepping and painting my kitchen and dining room right now, but hopefully I can get this project quilted and bound in the next few weeks.  Then I’d like to focus on a paper pieced block of the month wall hanging that I’m a month and three quarters behind on.  Oh and I have a half square triangle baby quilt to finish up as well and a toddler bed plus quilt and a modern disappearing nine patch.  But what do I mean by finish?  You’ll just have to wait and find out on that one.

Oh, the drama here at Midwestern Bite.

As is my new norm, comments are closed.  Here’s why.  Thanks for understanding.

– Joanna

Linking up to Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and Sew Fresh Quilts for Let’s Bee Social.

WIP Wednesday



17. May 2015 · Comments Off on Sunday Stash – Alexander Henry’s Big City · Categories: Quilting, Sewing, Sunday Stash · Tags: , ,

Thanks to a $600 car repair and a $300 riding mower repair I’m not actually supposed to be buying fabric right now.  So here’s hoping The Husband doesn’t read this.  In my defense I used my cash stash.  In my other defense I didn’t just buy fabrics on a whim with no purpose other than to fold them up all pretty and stare at them.  Which is what I normally do.

I’m hoping, amid some house painting projects, to start working through my WIP pile (that’s Work In Progress for all you layfolk out there) so I feel justified in this weeks purchase.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Anyway, this week’s stash addition is a whopping 2.5 yards!  In the same print!  I’ve bought more than 2.5 yards at a time before but really, for some reason, it’s way more satisfying when it’s all in a row.  And not a solid.  Because solids are boring.

I picked up this fun Alexander Henry print called Big City.

big city in mint

Screen shot borrowed from Hawthorne Threads.

My plan for this print is the back of a bed runner I started many moons ago.  Back when I was still sewing on a borrowed 30 year old machine from my mother.  Back when my 14 month old daughter was still in my belly (or maybe before that even.)  Back when I still got excited to shop at JoAnn’s (gah – I’m a total fabric snob these days.)  Back when I had no idea a quarter inch seam allowance wasn’t actually a quarter inch.

The bed runner was made from chopping the pieces of a jelly roll (that’s 2.5 inch by 44 inch fabric strips in a collection for you layfolk out there) in half and sewing them together.  So it’s long.  And skinny.  The best part of Big City (besides the awesome large scale repeating pattern) is the mint green top and the magenta bottom.

Big City 2 RW

Big City 1 RW

Yes, these pictures are meant to be dark.

It was an artistic choice.

Plus it was 6:00 in the morning when I took them.  So…… yeah.

I made this text magenta.  To match.  Does that count for something?

I’m hoping to squeak out enough material for the binding from the mint and magenta.  So really I’ve saved The Husband money since I was planning on buying another 3/4 yards of a binding fabric.  And now I don’t have to.

You’re welcome honey.

Stop back in later for pictures of the WIP bed runner top.

Linking up with Mollie Sparkles.  Whose real name isn’t Mollie.  Don’t ask me how long it took for me to figure that out.  Well, you can’t actually because, as is my new norm, comments are closed.  Thanks for understanding.


– Joanna

16. May 2015 · Comments Off on Paper Piecing for Charity – Origami Boat · Categories: Blog Love, Charity Blocks, Paper Piecing, Quilting, Sewing · Tags: , , , , ,

Charity Boat

This is a boat I made a few months ago for Yvonne at Quilting Jet Girl when she made a call for charity blocks.  I LOVE this boat.  I’ve made several now, even turning one into a baby quilt.  Here’s a sneak peek:

Boat baby quilt sneak

Oh hello Muscovy duck.

This little boat is by far my favorite paper pieced pattern I’ve sewn up.


Linking up with Quilt Art Designs for her Friday Paper Piecing Party.  It’s cool, even though there’s no cake.


As is my new norm, comments are closed.  Thanks for understanding.

– Joanna

P.S.  Yvonne shared a compilation picture of the charity blocks she received and one commenter on her post said they loved the origami boat.  What did I do with this information? Called my mom and told her of course!  It’s the little things.