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Every year, my friends and I exchange gifts at our annual retreat, which we call “happies” because it makes us happy to give gifts. This year a few people went overboard in making their happies.

Grubers Happies 2015

  • Cindy made us the 1 hour basket with the cool license plate fabric, which we all used to throw our scraps in over the weekend.
  • Rene’ gave us a custom coffee mug with the logo I designed for our quilting bee, a stack of 2-1/2″ squares of fabric and a patchwork mug rug/mini quilt.
  • Michelle made us a catch-all fabric basket.
  • Amanda Jean made us her work in progress bag, included the pattern and gave us a stack of 2-1/2″ squares from her upcoming fabric collection, Good Neighbors. She also gave me an autographed postcard from Sarah Watts, since I love her illustrations and fabric.
  • Doris gave us charm packs and a cute scissors key chain.
  • Mary gave us a pin cushion with the tiniest hexagon flower. Sew cute!
  • We’re all in the same quilting bee together so Stephanie used the logo I designed to create custom embroidered totes for us. She threw in a jar of honey from her very own bee hives.

happies from StephanieShelly made us perpetual calendars, with each index card date-stamped, as a way for us to track happy moments.happy from ShellyI made a dresden color wheel mug rug for everyone. Click here to see my tutorial on how to make your own.dresden color wheel mug rugsIt was better than gift-exchanging at Christmas!


A Weekend Retreat With Friends

I spent the weekend with my friends at our 6th annual retreat at Gruber’s Quilt Shop in St. Cloud, MN. As usual, we had the BEST time together, sewing, shopping, eating, drinking coffee, talking, laughing, teaching, watching a movie, sharing and staying up way too late!

Grubers Retreat 2015

From left to right: Amanda Jean, Rene’, Doris, Mary, Michelle, me, Cindy, Shelly and Stephanie

grubers retreat grubers retreat

scrap pile

star blocks Good Neighbors patchwork

Doris' micro quiltThey are the best friends anyone could ask for. Each one of them is kind, generous, loving, loyal, ambitious, creative and talented. They make me laugh until I can’t breath, and they make me cry with joy. They have touched my heart, and I cherish the friendship they extend to me. They took good care of me all weekend!


It’s fun to look back at posts from previous years:


2013 – I couldn’t make it due to a couple internships ;(




Field Notes: First Farmers Market in July

The first farmers market of July was a fun way to start our Saturday – full of people of all colors, sizes and shapes; bakery, produce, plants and flowers. We usually have more fun people-watching the crowds and bringing home pictures. It’s always refreshing to see buckets and buckets of bouquets!farmers market flowers

farmers market flower bouquets

farmers market buckets of flowers

farmers market buckets of flowers farmers market  red dahlias farmers market pink dahliasfarmers market lilyfarmers market donutOh yeah, and a donut for Dave!

Hope you’re making time to go outside and enjoy summer!



DIY: Checkerboard Set – Free Sewing Pattern

Next up in my collection of FREE sewing patterns is my Checkerboard Set pattern, including game rules. Learn how to make this set so you can bring it along to the beach or the park. Click here to download the PDF, which prints in 4 pages.

turquoise checkerboard set

This set includes a game board made of 8 squares by 8 squares (a basic 64-patch block). A smaller drawstring bag holds your checkers. The patchwork game board and small drawstring bag neatly tuck into a larger, lined drawstring bag so you can take the set with you.

three checkerboards three new checkerboard sets


For checkerboard:

  • Half Yard of Dark or Solid Fabric
    (Note: this is an overestimate to make sure you have enough fabric.)
  • Half Yard of Light or Print Fabric
    (Note: this is an overestimate to make sure you have enough fabric.)
  • Half Yard of Backing Fabric
    (Note: this is an overestimate to make sure you have enough fabric.)
  • Batting (you will need an 18” square)
  • Fat Quarter of Binding Fabric

For large drawstring bag:

  • Half Yard of Outer fabric
  • Half Yard of Lining fabric

For small drawstring bag:

  • Fat Quarter of outer fabric
  • Fat Quarter of lining fabric (optional)


  • Drawstring or shoelace
  • Drawstring toggle (optional)
  • 64 wood circles, 1½” diameter
  • Acrylic paint, black and red
  • Crown rubber stamp and ink pad


  • Checkerboard: 16½” square
  • Large Drawstring Bag: 11½” square
  • Small Drawstring Bag: 6” bag to hold your checkers



  • Cut 4 strips 2½” wide by 18” long from the dark fabric and the light fabric.
  • Cut 18” square from the backing fabric.
  • Cut 18” square of batting.
  • Cut strip of fabric 2½” wide by 80” long from the binding fabric. (Note: you might have to piece together your binding strips to make one long strip)

Large Drawstring Bag:

  • Cut 2 pieces from both Outer fabric and Lining fabric 12½” wide by 13¾” tall.

Small Drawstring Bag:

  • Cut 2 pieces from both Outer fabric and Lining fabric 6½” wide by 7½” tall.

Checkerboard Assembly:

  • Sew one strip of dark fabric to one strip of light fabric. Repeat with remaining strips until you have four sets.
  • Press seams for each set in alternating directions.
  • Cross-cut sets into 2½” sections, which will produce a new rectangle made up of one square of each print.
  • Lay sets so the dark and light fabrics are opposite each other, per placement in photo on page 1 above.
  • Sew sets together to form the game board. Press seams flat (either opposite directions or open).

steps-checkerboardMake a Sandwich:

  • Lay the backing fabric right side down on a flat surface. Smooth out with your hands and tape down to secure.
  • Lay batting on top, and smooth out with your hands.
  • Lay patchwork game board right side up on top of batting, and smooth out with your hands.
  • Pin layers with safety pins to secure. (Note: quilters’ bent safety pins work well for this.)
  • Quilt game board by stitching in the ditch.


  • Fold binding strip in half lengthwise with wrong sides together and press.
  • Lay binding on top of quilt sandwich lining up raw edges. Leave a 4” tail and stitch binding to game board. Stop about ½” from each corner. Cut thread.
  • Fold binding strip upward, creating a fold, and finger press to secure. Bring binding back down, holding at fold, to line up raw edges once again with quilt top, making a fold at corner. Stitch binding from top of fold (at corner) to the next corner, stopping about ½” from corner.
  • Repeat process until you reach 4” from end of binding strip.
  • Fold one end of binding strip to under side about ½” and finger press to create a neat fold. Tuck other end into fold and finish sewing binding to the quilt sandwich.
  • Fold the binding over to the back and blind stitch or whipstitch into place, mitering each corner.

steps-bindingSmall and Large Drawstring Bags Assembly:

Note: Follow same steps for small drawstring bag.

You may want to consider skipping the lining for such a small bag.

  • Lay 2 outer pieces right sides together and pin.
  • Sew together on right side, bottom and left side. Turn right side out.
  • Repeat for 2 lining pieces. Leave lining right sides facing.

steps-drawstring bags

  • Insert lining bag into outer bag so wrong sides are together.
  • To box the bottom corners to create a flat bottom, line up the bottom seam with side seam and press corners flat into a triangle. Measure 2” from corner point, and mark a line. Sew along marked line.

steps-drawstring bags2

  • Fold top edge over to inside ½” and pin or finger press to secure. Fold edge over again to inside ½” and pin.
  • Top-stitch ½” down from top folded edge to secure folds and create the lower side of the drawstring channel. Top-stitch ” from fold, which will create the channel for the drawstring.
  • To reinforce an opening for the drawstring, stitch back and forth for 1” over the top-stitching lines you created in step above, at the point where the side seams meet.
  • To create the opening where you will insert your drawstring, use a seam ripper to cut through 2-3 stitches of the side-seam stitches for the outer fabric only, in between the back-stitching done in step above.

steps-drawstring bags3

  • Thread the shoelace or drawstring through that opening and guide all the way around the channel. Thread ends through drawstring toggle and tie ends together.



  • Paint 32 wood circles black on one side.
  • Paint the remaining 32 wood circles red on one side.
  • Stamp a symbol (leaf or crown) on the blank side to create your “King” side.

painting checkersFinished!

Neatly fold your game board in half and in half again. Tuck into your large drawstring bag with your small bag full of checkers, and off you go!


Game Rules – To play the game of checkers:

Object: to capture and remove opponent’s checkers from game board.

Play: Each player selects checker color, and square color, and places their 12 pieces on same color squares in first 3 rows on board. To remove an opponent’s checker, player must jump that piece. To jump an opponent’s piece, jumping checker must pass over captured checker in diagonal motion and must always move to same color vacant square. (All moves must be made in diagonal motion and must be moved to same color vacant square.)

Double and triple jumps may be made in same move as long as vacant squares exist in any forward diagonal motion.

When player’s checker reaches opponent’s first row on other side of board, this checker becomes King (the leaf or crown side). It becomes King by having another checker of same color placed on top. (note: use a checker that’s already been captured.) A King may move both forward and backward in diagonal motion.

Continue play until one player’s checkers are removed from board.


checkerboard setI added this free Checkerboard Set sewing pattern to the tab at the top of my blog called Sewing Patterns. Stay tuned for more FREE patterns coming soon!

Happy sewing!



PS – If you make this pattern, I would love it if you share a photo of your project in the Flickr group I created. Thank you!

Note: Because I create with human hands, my cutting is never perfect. My sewing is never perfectly straight. My circles aren’t perfectly symmetrical or even. And I always have threads to trim. Please don’t mind my imperfections ;) This is just a fun project I’m excited to share with you. I’m sure there are many ways to make these zipper pouches; I’m just sharing my concept and process here.

From My Sketchbook: June Doodles

In order to fill up more sketchbooks, which is on my bucket list for 2015, I’m having fun coming up with new drawing prompts, so I’ve been trying to sketch A LOT more lately. One thing I’m doing is a monthly calendar, but instead of using it like a diary, I’m using it to do a daily doodle.

For the month of June I continued to find inspiration in our backyard and neighborhood. I slacked off a bit and ended up getting really behind so I had a lot of doodles to catch up on. Luckily I take lots of pictures to refer to for inspiration.

sketchbook page of June doodles

I prepared a new grid for July with more room in the borders. I’m tossing around ideas for a new theme – butterflies, more flowers, letters, paint a watercolor background for each day, food, clothes, shoes, things you might find on the beach or maybe a continued hodge-podge of ideas.

sketchbook page for July doodles

Time slips away when I’m working in my sketchbook, especially when I have a  fun beat going in the background. As you can tell, I’m passionate about drawing and creating beautiful art and surface patterns. Since I’m on a roll,  I think I’ll keep going.


Click here to see my January doodles

Click here to see my February doodles

Click here to see my March doodles

Click here to see my April doodles

Click here to see my May doodles

Free Printable Calendar – July 2015

Welcome July, which brings us the long, hot days of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the “dog days of summer.” Such a great time of year to pick raspberries, go to farmers market, spend a day at the beach, go kayaking, go for a bike ride, see some live music, enjoy dining outside.

Click here to download your free printable calendar for July 2015.

July 2015 printable calendar

Here are a few tid-bits about July:

• The birthstone for July is the Ruby
• The zodiac signs for July are Cancer (June 21 – July 22) and Leo (July 23 – August 22)
• The flower for July is the Larkspur or Water Lily

Holidays and special days include:

• July is National Blueberry Month
• July is National Ice Cream Month
• July is National Hot Dog Month
• July is National Picnic Month
• July is National Pickle Month
• July 1: Canada Day
• July 4: Independence Day
• July 14: Bastille Day


I left room on the calendar days so you can record meetings, appointments or special days. And there’s a column on the right side to keep your notes and to-do list for the month. Hope you find these free printables useful and fun. Happy Summer to you!


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