Summertime’s Big Finish

While I’m never entirely thrilled for the end of the ‘lazy’ time of year, I must admit – my brain has come to welcome the swish of a broom that fall brings for clearing out summer’s cobwebs.  The time has arrived for organizing, tidying and finishing up – and I’m ready! Before Fall officially swoops in though: A big finish to share. Continue reading “Summertime’s Big Finish”

Painted Gardens and a Springy Serendipity Sandbox-Style Sewing Project

The long and short of it is that Spring gets me every time. By ‘gets’ – I mean that more than any other time of the year, Spring inspires me to whip up something great; something adventurous and cheery; bright and sunny; joyful and quite obviously – Springy. So when miraculously at Fall Quilt Market 2017, I won a fat quarter bundle of Crystal Manning’s Painted Garden collection,  Continue reading “Painted Gardens and a Springy Serendipity Sandbox-Style Sewing Project”

Things I like, A New Bundle, and Staying on Track

It’s Tuesday. I like Tuesdays. For starters, I like them most because it means Monday is behind me (which often means I’m at least somewhat caught up after the weekend) and Continue reading “Things I like, A New Bundle, and Staying on Track”

Be My Neighbor Block 6

Whew – What a weekend! I’m thrilled to report that among other things, I got to watch my #4 play college lacrosse and I also sewed LOTS. Most importantly, I got a few more blocks ahead of my Be My Neighbor sew along piecing so I don’t fall behind as I did for my LAME-O Block 4 post, when I literally didn’t get my block done in time for the Monday blueprints release. Ack. Nobody likes to be behind the 8 ball like that.

My block turned out like this:bmn-block-6

Before you ask – I’m not a fan of it. I sort of got stuck for a while on the fact that roofs are historically certain colors or shades of earthy tones and I’m annoyed that I chose the color Wren which frankly I love – just not up against New Russet Orange, also a perfectly happy Grunge shade.  My slightly imperfect diamond shapes are created from Juniper Berry Aqua Blue, which is one of my MOST favorites!

As mentioned, I’m several blocks ahead of this one and can confidently say I’ve gotten over the idea that my roof colors need  to be earthy. I learn, by golly…every day I learn 🙂

This week’s BMN block blueprints are below. If you’re following along – I hope you’ll tag me at Instagram! @serendipitywoods, so I can see how your blocks are coming along!


Cheers and Happy Monday 🙂



Be My Neighbor Sew Along, Block 2

In general, I’m not a ‘fallish’ kind of gal – but today’s kind of fall, I’ll take! I’m sharing the view outside my studio window this morning (from outside my studio window).  Continue reading “Be My Neighbor Sew Along, Block 2”

Please Won’t you Be Our Neighbor?

Welcome to our neighborhood in the making!

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine? Could you be mine?

As some of you may remember, last May marked my very first trip to International Quilt Market.

Continue reading “Please Won’t you Be Our Neighbor?”

The Sometimes Perplexing Scant 1/4″ & What’s Thread Got to Do with it?

“Use a scant 1/4.” I’ve read this in multiple patterns and though it’s not necessarily a difficult concept to get my arms around, knowing why – or more importantly when – to use it has always escaped me for some reason, until yesterday.

First, let me show you the current view from my desk at any given time during my day (when I’m not cutting fabric or living life, in general).

Carina Gardner’s gorgeous Posy Garden on the bottom shelf (from which I’ll be creating my next project, no question!) and the Sweetwater Bella Solids Collection on top which, if you ask me, has got to be one of the most joyful collections of simple solids ever assembled on purpose. I’m in love with these fabrics together beyond words!

Add to this to my growing love affair with Bella Solids in general, I’ve been trying to carve out some time to create a quilt with Moda’s Sampler Shuffle – a series of 30 – 6″ blocks designed by Moda designers – which were released to quilt shops last November at Quilt Market, Houston.  I can’t say I’ve seen them created with Bellas, but as I’ve spent the last week or so staring longingly at the above image, The Sweetwater Bellas became an obvious choice.

So far so good…

Sweetwater Blocks
Blocks 1 and 2 of the Moda Sampler Shuffle set of blocks, in Sweetwater Bella Solids.

All was going well until I made the 4th block, which had an awful lot of pieces (equating to an awful lot of seams)

Lots of Tiny Pieces = Scant 1:4 inch.jpg

Needless to say, I made it once, but decided to remake it. Here’s why:

The block on the right is Block 1 in the series which does have a fair few pieces, but went together comfortably with a standard 1/4″ seam allowance, finishing up at the correct 6 1/2″ needed.  The center block, however, is my first attempt at Block 4, using a standard 1/4″ seam allowance without thinking much about it. It’s at least 5/8″ too small all the way around. The block on the left is a remake if Block 4, using scant 1/4″ seam allowances.

Meh. 5/8″ isn’t all that big of a deal, right? Actually, it’s not the end of the world, until you’re trying to put a bunch of blocks together that are supposed to be the same size. 5/8″ can be a lot and I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to have to stretch my seams that much to make them line up comfortably.  This is where the proverbial ‘scant 1/4 inch’ comes into play and why it is sometimes a pretty handy and necessary process for making our blocks the right size.

A scant 1/4″ is really nothing more than this:

Scant 1:4" Jane.jpeg
A scant 1/4″ is merely defined as a slightly smaller than 1/4″ seam allowance than a standard 1/4″ seam allowance. Where it’s useful in particular, is when you’ve a small block with lots of small pieces.

Essentially, it all boils down to just how many seams we’re incorporating into any given block.  Think of it this way – the more seams, the more seam allowances; the more rows, the smaller each block has the propensity to become as we go along, depending on how much attention we pay to seam allowance with each seam we create.

ALSO! In case you wondered – the fineness of the thread we use can make a difference as well.  It’s why when I first tried Aurifil 50wt , I switched to it without even passing Go or collecting $200 (Monopoly never really leaves your psyche once you play it as a kid, ya know? But lest I degress…). Anyway, while you wouldn’t think the density of thread would matter much, I find that it makes my seams less bulky, which can make a sizable different across the span of a quilt, not to mention – a bunny outfit.

Sophie Daytime Nighty Aurifil
According to the bunnies, their clothes fit a whole lot more comfortably when the seams are less bulky.
4 Sampler Shuffle Blocks
As I go along making 30 – 6″ blocks, it matters in the grand scheme that they’re all as close to 6 1/2″ (unfinished) as possible, if I want them to line up fairly comfortably in a finished quilt.

“What did you do with the poor, little too-small block?”

Great question.

I made it into a little 6″ placemat I can use at my desk for a bowl of soup while I’m working over lunch. It also makes a great little nightstand mat for my cell phone. In all, what I appreciate about Sweetwater fabric collections is how versatile they are.  for the binding of my little mat, I used a fabric from the Cookie Exchange, a current Sweetwater holiday line. My point is, when it’s altogether – it’s festive and Christmassy – but often, when used individually, Sweetwater Christmas fabrics are versatile enough not to scream CHRISTMAS! unless you want them to 🙂

In the end, the question begs: is it really critical to pay so much attention to precision at the tiniest level with respect to seam allowances and thread density? Well, yes and no. It really comes down to two things – the longer we’ve been quilting, I think, the more it begins to matter to us that our work reflects our level of experience. Secondarily, every little seam, whether attentive to exactness of seam allowance or what kind of thread we use, adds up.  For the purpose of this post – I’m just giving you a little food for thought 🙂

I wish you happy sewing my friends,



Ciao Bella!

Lest I drift dreamily into the 80s movie, Breaking Away, about 4 young men (including a very, very young Dennis Quaid with very, very washboard-like abs; go ahead and watch the movie trailer that I linked above just for fun – you’ll see them!) who spend their days mostly trying to avoid going to college. The main character is Dave (played by Dennis Christopher) a soulful guy who’s taught himself Italian and walks around his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana speaking it as though he came over on the boat (leading especially his dad to think his only son is totally off his rocker).  The main premise of the movie is that Dave wrangles his three buddies into a quasi Tour de France bicycle race in their town. The subplot, however, involves Katherine – a beautiful college girl with whom Dave falls immediately in love when he sees her at a college bar. He calls her Katerina and she actually assumes he’s Italian (which he doesn’t exactly argue at the time), obviously there to study in America.

WAIT, you say.  Isn’t this a quilty/sewing/fabric blog?

The short answer is YES.  The long answer is that you’re reading the thoughts of a girl who grew up in the 70s and 80s, who has a slightly roundabout (and often flowery) way of looking at the world.  In other words – if I’m explaining something, I sometimes like you to know the details behind how it sits in my brain. Ask my hub – I always get to my point, and LUCKY YOU – you get to know a little more about ME as we go along.

(Are you rolling your eyes yet?)

Ciao Bella! It’s what Dave said to Katerina when he saw her.  It’s an exclamation that means Hi Beautiful! And it’s what I think of every time I hear the word Bella as it relates to Moda Bella Solids.  Ciao Bella! Hi Beautiful! I can’t help it – it’s a singing sort of feeling!

(See how I got around to my point there? Now how about if I chill as I start my next paragraph so you don’t think I’m totally off MY rocker)

The reality is that Moda Bella Solids have been around for some time and though similar to Kona Solids with respect to the quality they’re known for in the industry, I love Bellas most for the fact that whenever I’ve wanted to pair a Moda printed fabric with a solid, I need only seek out my handy, dandy Bella Color Card to find an exact match.

Bella Color Card
Bella Solids making their debut in Serendipity Woods!

That’s why I was thrilled when it was recently announced at Spring Quilt Market that Moda would be releasing Bella Designer collections assembled by some of our favorite designers!

Ciao Bella – Hi Beautiful! New in the Woods: The Fig Tree Bella Bundle

The beauty of these Bella Designer Collections is that each designer assembles the 12 fabrics that most exemplify the palette they tend to draw from when creating their collections.  What’s more, each has also designed projects to go along with their Bella grouping. Above is Joanna Figueroa’s of Fig Tree Quilts, which arrived on our shop last week.  Along with it…

Sherbets Creams Booklet
Fig Tree Quilt’s Sherbets & Creams pattern booklet of 7 patterns, including one being used for a Sherbets & Creams Sew Along at the Fig Tree site.

One of the coolest things is that all the patterns in the booklet not only utilizes Joanna’s fresh, summery Bella Solids, but also a variety of different cream prints to complete the projects.

Guess what was enormously fun for us to assemble? You guessed it -our very own Happy Scrappy Little Creams Bundle

Now, before I start floating off the ground speaking italian like the aforementioned Dave from that great old (already?) movie – I want to just say that although the Fig Tree bundle is our first Ciao Bella! bundle – it’s certainly not our last.

Next Up…

Sweetwater Booth Quilt Market
The Sweetwater Bellas arriving later this month!

Welcome to the Sweetwater Spring 2016 booth. I mean, how much Sweetwater Heaven can we take in one spot?! Not only are we geeked to the nth degree for the arrival of Treehouse Club (used in the quilt on the far right), but see the mini block quilts on the left wall? Yeah…those are the Sweetwater Bellas, and before you even have to ask – yep. We’ll have the pattern booklet for the minis too!

Did you know that Ciao means both Hello and goodbye, in Italian? If you didn’t, you do now.

Ciao Bella and Happy Sewing,




Part 2 – Hopelessly Unenthused October Baby Seeks Joyfully, Non-Creepy Halloween

Hi Quilty Friends,

Okay, remember a few weeks ago when I shared my rather soul-baring story about how Halloween is historically my least favorite holiday?  In the event you need a refresher (or you just plain didn’t read it because maybe creepy, scary, gory Halloween is your chosen bag of chips), you can catch up HERE for Part I of this post.

The update is – I did it! I found something really joyful about Halloween.  In short, it started with seeking. You might remember in my last post that I shared about a really treasured childhood story I loved when I was a kid:

Gus was a Friendly Ghost

I have to mention here that the above book is not actually my copy from childhood.  I didn’t ever have one, just read it whenever I stumbled upon a Weekly Reader copy in a doctor’s office of some kind. This book came from a library book sale I went to in my twenties. Regardless of the fact that it was a crummy copy with a loose binding (a result of all those perforated pages in the beginning which had obviously been torn out for kids to send in for their ‘copy of this book FREE’), I still bought it. It was Gus. I loved Gus and wanted my kids to have a chance to love Gus too.  Even though it was a lousy copy, we read it often.

As also mentioned in my first post – a few years ago, in my quest to find something Halloween happy with which to decorate, I picked up a few more copies of various Gus books. For the last several years, That small stack of books has been my only Halloween decor:

Gus BooksThen…I opened a fabric shop last June.  Everybody knows you have to sell seasonal stuff, right?  Hence, the seeking…

Scary Fabric 1Scary Fabric 2

Scary Fabric 3

Mmm Hmmm…

Sally Ugly Crying

After a while I stopped figuratively blubbering, and kept seeking until finally – I was able to assemble this:

Serendipity 2015 'Happy' Halloween Bundle
Our 2015 Halloween Happy Little Bundle. Fabrics from various Moda lines, and (as you may have noticed) scrumptiously non-creepy, at least from my point of view.

which somehow felt joyful, in part, because it gave me the same warm feeling as this:

Gus was a Friendly Ghost

And what I really wanted to tell you in this Part II post is that as a result, I made this:

My Halloween Joy Quilt, made with fabrics from Moda's Farmhouse, Mixologie, Tiki Tok, Feed Company and Meadowbloom, Kona Snow for the Background and Backing, and topped off with Aurifil 2021 for the machine piecing and quilting.
My Halloween Joy Quilt, made with fabrics from Moda’s Farmhouse, Mixologie, Tiki Tok, Feed Company and Meadowbloom, with Kona Snow for the Background and Backing, and topped off with Aurifil 2021 for the machine piecing and quilting. The pattern is Woven Scrappy Strips, available for digital download at the Fons and Porter website.  With the exception of navigating my blocks to the on-point layout (which is always a little confusing for me, since I don’t do it often), the blocks and quilt went together really fast and both contain only minor imperfections!

…which was triumphant enough in itself, until I stopped to realize that much to the tradition of quilters past and present, I have never – in all the quilts I’ve made – labeled the back of one single quilt I’ve ever made. G’head – gasp, all you wonderfully judicious, never-made-a-quilt-I-didn’t-label quilters out there. I envy the fact that everyone will always know which quilts are yours and which quilts were made by that one gal who never labeled her quilts (thumbs swinging right back this way).

I can’t say there is really a solid reason I haven’t ever labeled any of my quilts, except I guess I’ve just never taken the time; or maybe more that I can’t say that I’ve ever made a quilt for which I wanted to yell from the rooftops – I made this! Even if you see a flaw or a mistake, I don’t care – I made this, it makes me happy, and I’m really proud of it!

Until this quilt.  So I made a label, which began with a sacrifice:

Gus Book Sacrifice 1
Seam rippers are useful for more than just loosening threads from more than just quilt pieces.

And then, go ahead – tell me I’m infringing upon copyright laws – but I think Jane Thayer wouldn’t mind if she knew I’d copied my favorite page (which I know by heart), onto printable fabric for this important something I would never, ever sell…

Gus Quilt Label 1
Toasted. Cheese. Sandwiches. All those pillows, which I envision to be velvet for some odd reason (Aha! Next year’s Halloween craft idea! And I have all year to seek just the right fabrics!)

…especially because I made sure that her name was there too, along with Seymour’s, above mine…

Gus Quilt Label 2

So there it is, friends. My first labeled quilt, and some of the most unbelievable Halloween Joy I have ever felt.

Even if you see a flaw or a mistake, I don’t care – I made this, it makes me happy, and I’m really proud of it:)

P.S. My ‘new’ copy of Gus should arrive within a few days, thanks to the Peach Street Bridge Shop at Etsy, who had a really lovely, gently used copy. In case you didn’t know – I’m a pretty big fan of used books and the shops that so lovingly seek to find new homes for them.  I’ll share more about that another time 🙂

Post 4: Rainy Days, Cheer-Up Bundles, and Precut Storage

For the second day in a row, I awakened to dreary, rainy weather. I like rain, I do – especially when I imagine how fat the little baby robins atop my porch post must be getting as their parents busily harvest the plentiful worms from our yard.  Spring is my favorite for all the reasons that make me loathe winter.  It’s fresh, it’s comfortable, and there is just something magical about witnessing the coming alive of things, year after year. So I get it…rain is necessary and rain is good; but it makes me have to seek out things to brighten my mood rather than just looking out a window or smelling the fresh breeze.  Fortunately, my growing stash of precuts was just the place to look!

Of course I forgot to snap a before-I-cut-it photo of the first precut bundle I bought after finally ditching my 'No-Fabric-Buying-for-a-Year Resolution'; but isn't it just heavenly?!
Of course I forgot to snap a before-I-cut-it photo of the first precut bundle I bought after finally ditching my ‘No-Fabric-Buying-for-a-Year Resolution’; but isn’t it just heavenly?!

I have to say, of all the persistent nudges – the Moda April Showers Collection by Bonnie and Camille was probably the one that made me rethink my resolution the most. I love everything about it, especially the way it makes rainy weather feel joyful instead of gloomy.  So I started cutting…and sewing, and cutting some more…

April Showers & Daysail Aurifil
Of note (surprisingly), the Aurifil thread collection that coordinates with Daysail (also for Moda by Bonnie and Camille) matches April Showers quite nicely!

While I was moving about my studio, I noticed Charlotte busying herself too, collecting scraps.

Charlotte's Favorite Scraps
Oddly enough, Charlie’s favorite scraps are mine too.

Well, leave it to a little studio bunny to give me a great idea about what to do with those too-tiny-to-really-make-anything-with scraps…

'Need More of These' list
Our list of fabrics we love and warrant the purchase of yardage, beyond just the precuts we own (and *gasp* might run out of!)

Which now brings me to what surrounds our little list, which is posted on the side of our ‘New Fabrics’ shelving unit.

Organizing PrecutsWe’re using these handy (and also quite cheerful) little binder clips, which come in varying sizes, colors, and patterns, if you know were to look.

Binder Clips for Precut Bundle Storage
We found ours at Office Depot, but Target has some lovely ones too.

Outside of keeping all the fabrics for each bundle together, I find the binder clips handy for the purpose of keeping the manufacturer and collection name tag right with the fabrics so I can easily keep track in case I want to seek out more.

April Showers Bundle with Handy Binder Clip
The binder clips allow me to keep all my scraps and the accompanying informational tag right with the bundle so they don’t get mixed up. I can even hang it up on a 3m hook (which are also one of my favorite studio supplies).

Oh. and YES – I made something with my April Showers layer cake: A 5″ quilt.

It's the umbrellas in this collection that sucked me in, but also the fabric I used for the binding. LOVE.
It’s the umbrellas in this collection that sucked me in, but also the fabric I used for the binding. LOVE.

April Showers 5‘It’s awfully small for a mini quilt, and kind of too big for a coaster, isn’t it?’  Yep. That’s because it’s neither.

It's meant to live here, beneath my presser foot when I'm not using my machine, so that every time I sit down to my machine, it makes me feel cheery :)
It’s meant to live here, beneath my presser foot when I’m not using my machine, so that every time I sit down to sew, it makes me feel cheery.

I wish you a happy (now sunny here) quilting day!