the gifts of 2016

it seems all i heard myself say during the month of december was “i’m not ready”, and by the end of the month i found that i had mental lists constantly running through my head…all negative.  the lists of what I didn’t accomplish, didn’t bake, didn’t decorate, didn’t make time to visit with.  they were heavy lists, and i’ve decided to let them go.  i’m trading them in for lists of how many strangers i wished a happy holiday, how delicious the pizzelles were with my morning and evening coffee, how much i enjoyed each stitch in each gift i was able to make.  and of course the biggest list of all (and the one i usually ignore until november!)…the list for next year!!

to start the new year i want to share a few of the handmade gifts i managed to eek out in 2016.  the last of the gifts were just now opened due to scheduling conflicts, so i’m finally able to share them all.

first up….the turtles!  i had these planned for quite some time and actually had them completed quite early.  one for each great niece.  a big old floor pillow with personality.   hannah is a pink and purple sort of girly-girl who loves to dance, so for her…a pink and purple turtle with a bit of glittery fabric thrown in for fun.dscn7031

brooklynn is more of a whirlwind of action…karate kicks, ninja moves…that’s more her style.  so she got a blue and green turtle (there’s a bit of glitter…i couldn’t resist), with a surprise underneath.  the bottom of the turtle is girl super-hero fabric…super girl, wonder woman and batgirl.  no, the red doesn’t really “go” with the blue/green top, but does that really matter?  i hope it said to her “i get you…I know who you are”dscn7033you may not be able to tell from the pics, but these guys are BIG!  they stand about 10-12″ tall and from head to tail measure about 48-50″….perfect for propping you up for movie time.

my sister (turtle girl grandmother) has eyed my messenger bag for quite some time…offering to take it off my hands, so i made her one of her own.  it’s amy butler’s first messenger bag pattern…a very simple bag with a pocket flap.  i use mine all the time and it’s just right.  once i made it i decided she needed a heigh-ho laptop sleeve to match, so she got a set.dscn7046picking out the buttons was, of course, my favorite part of the project.  at one point i think i had every button in the studio spread out across the rug…and that’s a whole lotta buttons!

dscn7043sister also got a kerchief shawl.  i can’t sit and watch a movie without picking up a knitting project.  i made one for myself first to test the pattern and then made hers…after blocking i’ve decided that if i make this pattern again i’ll add an extra repeat since it feels a bit short when i wrap it around my neck.


last year elizabeth made recipe towels using a spoonflower tutorial here on the blog.  i knew then that i wanted to make some too.  instead of using a single recipe, i stole borrowed some the favorite family recipes…ones that even the grandsons would know…mostly handwritten (i think each side had one printed recipe) and had fabric printed at spoonflower.  i made towels for everyone, 18 in all!  every generation got a towel…even the great granddaughters and i have a few left that just need hemming in case there is ever a towel emergency.


dscn7041i saved my favorite project…or shall i say my latest sewing addiction…for last.  the rope bowl craze has been happening for a while now but i seem to show up a bit late at these sorts of things.  i’ve had the clothesline in my studio closet forever (planned on making a bag with it), but it wasn’t until days before christmas that i pulled it out and began my first bowl.  jeff walked in to find me forming the bottom and asked what i was making…actually it was more “what are you making NOW?” and i replied “a bowl”…he didn’t even comment, just walked out.  but nothing would dampen my enthusiasm for this project.  i’ve seen them made with fabric strips covering the rope, with ribbon accents, but i had yarn…plenty of yarn, so that’s what i used.  iI didn’t try to make the accents symmetrical, i just added them whenever i felt the urge to add color.  i also started out with the standard loop handle, but tried what i call “the casserole handle” on one and loved it!  some are lightweight rope, some are a bit stiffer…i’m still trying to find just the perfect clothesline because i’m hoping to make a LARGE basket for myself and need it to stand up to a bit of weight.  have you tried these?  OMG…you must!  the process is so easy and the possibilities are endless (unlike the clothesline…i ran out a couple of times and had to make emergency trips to the hardware!)

so that was 2016…i can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.  what’s on your list for the year?





throwing in a valentine’s towel

one more valentine’s project before the big day arrives!

valentine’s day always meant a huge “formal” dinner when my boys were young.  i would cook all day, set a formal table complete with gifts and cards at each place setting.  there were individual heart shaped desserts and candles…the works!  i sort of miss that dinner…while a dinner for two can be romantic, you just can’t beat the simple joy of watching a little boy’s eyes light up over a hot wheels car.  come to think of it, my grown up boys would probably still enjoy receiving a hot wheels car!!

my last project is a flour sack dish towel…..something that would have brightened up those times when i spent the entire day cooking and baking.


needed: a dish towel (my flour sack towel came from joanns), assorted cotton prints for the hearts, wonder-under fusible and your sewing machine.


you can fuse your hearts in place OR you can applique them….i did both.  apply the wonder-under to the wrong side of your heart fabrics.  cut various sizes of hearts and lay them out on your dish towel.  i started in one corner and placed mine in a sort of waterfall pattern to the opposite corner.  once you decide on placement, remove the paper backing from the wonder-under and fuse the hearts to the towel.  you may want to stitch around the outer edges of the hearts to make them more secure.

finally, you will connect the hearts with a line of machine stitching in a contrasting color.  if your machine offers decorative stitches this is the place to use them!


whether it’s for your own use (yes, it’s totally acceptable to give yourself a valentine’s gift) or for some special cook on your list, i hope you enjoy “throwing in the towel”!!



put your ♥ on a pillow

need a perfect little valentine’s day accent for your home?  or something quick and easy to give a special friend?  this little pillow is the answer!  with a single row of 3-d hearts, it’s not “over the top” so you can use it all year long.  or make one for a young girl in your life using her favorite colors.

my finished pillow measures 8″x11″ mostly because that’s how much wool i had on hand.  you can make this any size and basically using just about any type of fabric.  it works best with a solid pillow and print hearts…although i’m betting you could reverse that combo if you have good color contrast.

here’s how:  measure and cut 2 pieces for the pillow (adding 1/2″ seam allowances all the way around).  cut heart shapes from your print fabric.  since the edges of the hearts aren’t stitched down you’ll need to back them with a fusible to keep the edges from fraying.  i used sf-101 (probably my favorite interfacing!!) because it’s woven and gives the backs of the hearts the look of fabric.  place the hearts in a single row along one side (or center them right down the middle) of one pillow piece.  use a contrasting color of thread and stitch a line straight through the hearts, beginning and ending at the very edge of the pillow.

then put the two pillow pieces right sides together and stitch around the outside edges (1/2″ seam allowance), leaving an opening along the bottom for turning.  clip the corners, turn it right side out and stuff!  pin the bottom opening closed and hand stitch.

since i was using a solid off white wool i felt i needed just a tiny bit more color, so i used red pearl cotton to whipstitch along the edges of the pillow.  i began in the lower right hand corner, left a long tail and when i came back to that corner, i tied the thread in a little bow for an accent.

i love how the hearts pop away from the pillow just a little giving it a three dimensional look.   i think when i make another one i’ll use topstitching thread to secure the hearts to make that line stand out a bit more.

what it everyone making for day?

love note pockets

valentine’s day is upon us.  it began bearing down the day after Christmas, and if we believe all the hype, we’re not really loved (or showing love) if we don’t buy diamond jewelry, candy, flowers and cards.  there are times though that hallmark falls a bit short and I prefer to write my own sentiments….words that might not make sense to anyone but me and my valentine.

this year i’m delivering my “love note” in a handcrafted heart.  and i thought i’d share it just in case you’d like to leave a love note for someone in your life.  these take only minutes to make….deciding on the fabric will take longer than construction!


i chose to make mine from an old quilt, some red/white dotted cotton for the pocket, and used pearl cotton and a sharp tapestry needle to blanket stitch an edging.


cut your heart from the quilt…any size you choose (maybe you’re leaving a love letter instead of a note!)  then cut a pocket big enough to hold your note and stitch a narrow hem across the top straight edge.  i used a blanket stitch to finish the outer edges of my heart, not worrying about a few threads pulling loose on the edge of the quilt (this version is rustic). tie a loop of the pearl cotton at the top of the heart so you can hang your note on a doorknob or closet door.  now, write a note!!


prefer a more “finished” version?  just use two fabrics, fuse them using wonder-under (or just stitch them together using a decorative stitch) and make the hanging loop using a pretty ribbon.

DSCN6663you can even mail these intead of sending a store bought card…letting your valentine know that you’re thinking of them and took the time to put your own heart into their special message.

last of the christmas projects

a few days before christmas i was scrolling through my instagram feed and saw that someone (sorry…wish i had noted who it was!  thanks for the inspiration!) had made several of these cute little triangle pouches.  forgetting ignoring that i had a ton of things already on my to-do list for the day, i headed down to the studio to play with the idea.  i figured it couldn’t be TOO hard….they’re little triangles!!  actually, they are rectangles, and i was correct….they weren’t hard…but they were addictive!!  i planned to make 3…one for each of the girl stockings…and finally stopped after an even dozen, mostly because i ran out of zippers.  i’m sure there’s a tutorial out there somewhere, but i just sort of winged it.


i didn’t realize until i was done that every single pouch was made with dear stella fabric scraps that were left from making fabric baskets….sweet!!

one last pouch…this one for amy, lover of all things water and fish, made from fish fabric that i’ve had in the stash just waiting for a great project to come along.  there’s still plenty of that fabric left…let me know if you have a project idea i could use it for!


so…they ended up in everyone’s stockings!!  the great nieces got a few goodies tucked inside…lip gloss, coins and a hankie that originally belonged to their great-great grandmother (they may not appreciate them now, but someday they will).

i’m keeping the pea pods!


jaws ate the pencils!

i made very few gifts for christmas this year…fewer than normal and the ones i did make were small ones.  i loved elizabeth’s tea towels!!  i’ve already made a note to make those for mother’s day (mom…avert your eyes!).

adult coloring books were definitely the “hot” gift this year, and the girls in my life each got them.  amy received tula pinks book along with an ocean themed one while brittany got one with tattoo designs since she is beautifully inked.  i made each of them a pencil case to hold their colored pencils, but i had a difficult time letting this one go.


jaws!!!  i spotted this pattern and tutorial quite a while ago, but knew that i HAD to make it to hold amy’s pencils.  it was quite simple until i got to the zipper.  i had read the comments from other makers, so i was aware that the zipper posed some issues.  in the end, i widened his mouth a bit and hand basted the zipper in place…then added the lining separately. it worked, and i love his big mouth!!


it’s safe to go back in the water…just don’t carry any pencils!


adios 2015


it was a year…and what a year it was.  2015 was the year when it all started coming together.  snapdragon studios was no longer a newborn, but entering toddlerhood…a bit wobbly on my feet at times, but beginning to explore this new world.  i thought it would be good to look back and see a few of the highlights of the year before moving on and planning for 2016.

  • so…4 new patterns released!!  the lemon squeeze cardigan, on the run bag, heigh-ho laptop sleeve and the cider house jacket all came out late in 2015.
  • 2 of our patterns were chosen by to be offered as kits.
  • another design for dear stella fabrics (the essential spring basket) was completed.
  • new virtual friends were made
  • quilt market in Houston was attended…devoured and enjoyed!
  • there was some cooking done, some gardening shared, some reading reviewed and craft projects completed and shared.

it was a good year.  i always hate new years…saying goodbye to a year that i “know” and venturing into a new one.  but this year i’m making plans (nope, not resolutions!) for the year to come, and i’ll be sharing both some business plans and some personal ones in the next few days.

happy new year!!  may it be a healthy, happy, full year for all of us.



A simple advent calendar

When I was growing up, our Advent calendar was a little wall hanging with pockets. The top was a snowcovered house and there was a little mouse that we moved from pocket to pocket as we neared Christmas.

My parents still put that calendar out every year, so this year I started thinking about some ways to celebrate Advent at our house and remind us to take time to enjoy the season. I came across this post on A Beautiful Mess and decided to do something similar.


We have some sections of weathered fencing left over from fencing our backyard, so I pulled a few boards off of one scrap piece and cut them to length. My tree is about 3 1/2 feet high and the “branches” are about 12″, 15″ and 21″ or so.

I knew I didn’t want the kids to have chocolate every day (a whole month of daily chocolate might be enough to make me put them out with the cat), and I also didn’t want to amass 24 (x 2 kids, so 48, ugh) little toys to unwrap every day, so I settled on activities that we can do together each day, scheduling the activities to coincide with my work schedule and other obligations.


I glued and stapled regular sized clothespins to the boards and used a big punch to make red and green paper “ornaments” that I wrote activities on. Each day we’ll take down that day’s ornament, do the activity and replace it with a pretty metallic paper ornament as we count down to Christmas. 


If you’re looking for ideas of what to do with your kids, here’s a post I wrote for our library listing many of the activities we will be doing. Some of them are specific to our area, but most communities have similar things going on at this time of year.

Happy Thanksgiving! We’re thankful to all of you who take the time to stop over to our corner of the internet.


in accordance


General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

  1. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

    Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

  2. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
  3. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.By order ofJOHN A. LOGAN,

    Adjutant General

    WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.

i spent this morning, a beautiful morning, enjoying the companionship of many in my community as we acted in accordance with general logan’s order.  if you’ve never read this order before, go back and read it through again.  i don’t remember when i first heard it read, but it has made a lasting impact.  it’s what memorial day is all about.  not picnics (though they are enjoyed), not a “deadline” for getting the lawn looking it’s best (though we tried), not the kickoff of summer (though it is)….it’s about honoring those who gave everything so that we can enjoy our picnics, our lawns, our summers.



it was stated during the ceremony that in a gallup poll, only 28% of americans were able to give the correct definition, or reason for memorial day.  how sad for all of us.  next year, come join my small town…we’ll show you how it’s done.

**soapbox stored away**

i hope you all had a great weekend with lots of picnics, great looking lawns and the summer to look forward to!!