Starting My Quilt Portfolio

The spine of my portfolio. Using one of my quilt labels made labeling the portfolio easy peasy!

I started a quilt portfolio this past summer. In it are the whopping 2 quilts I’ve finished this year. (Sorry, the chicken wall hanging didn’t make the cut.) I created a quilt portfolio simply so that I can have a record of what quilts I’ve made. I also want a permanent, physical way to show my quilts to others, even if the quilts are no longer in my possession.

There are a couple of factors that led me to start a portfolio. First, I went to portfolio school, where I studied advertising copywriting and learned to keep a portfolio of my work. So, it feels natural to keep a portfolio of my other creative work. That’s a huge reason for this portfolio.

But then, there’s social media. I’ve used social media to chronicle and record my creations and life, but recently, I’ve had a change of heart. This year, I deleted approximately 145 posts from this blog. (Did you notice? Ha!) I also deleted the first blog I ever wrote—like, completely took it down. Every day I fall less in love with Facebook and while Instagram is my go-to social media platform, I realize that 1, 5, 10 years from now, I may fall out of love with it, or make the decision to abandon it completely. Social media is a great way to share creative work, but I want something that isn’t going to get overcrowded with ads or have a distinguishable shift in usage. When is the last time you couldn’t access a physical photo album (which a portfolio essentially is) because you lost your password, or you couldn’t flip to the pictures you were interested in seeing because it became filled with ads and other junk?

Because of this, I set out to create a quilt portfolio, something simple, but something that would capture the patterns, colors, and stories behind my quilts. I started in PowerPoint. I’m not a graphic designer by any means, but that doesn’t matter too much to me for this project. I laid out the best pictures I could get with my iPhone (once again, I’m looking for snapshots, not necessarily polished photos), and then wrote out the details and the story behind the quilt.

My first finish this year: Dazzling Pineapple Mini Quilt. The layout is simple and gets the job done.

I had the pages printed at one of those office-y places and then I glued on swatches of the fabric I used for one of the quilts. This is one of my favorite parts. While my photos and the printing may not have captured the true colors of the quilt, these swatches do. I got a snazzy 3-ring binder from an office supply store and slipped the portfolio pages into sheet protectors and snapped them in.

My favorite part: swatches! The stitching here was my quick study for when I did the real thing on my Welcome Blanket Quilt.

It’s going to be a slow-growing portfolio—ahem, there are only 2 quilts in there. But, so what? This will give me something to look back at and remember what I’ve made. I also like to think that if someone wants me to make a quilt for them, they can flip through this and get an idea of what they want. Who knows?

I picked this binder for the quilt-esque pattern in bright colors.

Do you have a quilt (or other creative) portfolio? How did you make it? Do you feel any ambivalence towards using social media as a way to record your creations? Tell me in the comments!

Fixing My Chicken Wall Hanging

Sometimes my first attempt isn’t my best. (Surprise!) Five years after making it, I have finally fixed the droopy top of the chicken wall hanging in my kitchen.

Sagging top–you can even see the middle hook!

I started this chicken wall hanging back in 2012 and maybe finished in 2013. It’s all a little hazy. The pattern is “Ditzy Chicks” by Sharon Berna of Redbird Designs. I love the pattern because I love chicken décor in my kitchen. I enjoyed starting this wall hanging because I began when my mom was visiting and we picked out the fabric together and she even helped me do the appliqué. Buuuut, this felt way more like a craft project than a quilt, probably because I wanted chicken décor for my kitchen, not because I necessarily wanted to make a quilt. (I have since changed, of course.)

As an amateur, I stitched plastic rings to the top of the back “wherever seemed good” and then stuck a trio of Command hooks on my kitchen wall. Well, the top 2-3” have always drooped. It took me so long to complete the darn thing and a whole lot of motivation, I just ignored it, until recently, when I decided to remedy the droop—or, at least, decided to attempt to remedy.

The plastic rings before: stitched on only at the bottom.

First, I took the wall hanging off the hooks. It was dusty—hello, it hadn’t been touched in 5 years! So, I popped it into the washer. Luckily, I’m in the prewash camp, so I didn’t have to worry about colors bleeding or shrinkage. Of course, it still came out a bit wrinkly. That just adds charm, right?

Next, one by one, I snipped off each plastic ring and raised it so that the top of it was about 0.75” from the top of the wall hanging. (I did a bit of measuring, math, and testing to ensure that the wall-mounted hooks wouldn’t show after the wall hanging was up.) I stitched the rings down at three points: 90, 180, and 270 degrees. (I feel hella-fancy describing it in that manner, by the way.)

The plastic rings after: stitched down at 3 points.

After all the plastic rings were repositioned, I added one more thing: one of my brand-new quilt labels! Sure, this is NOT my best work (please don’t look at the quilting—what was I thinking?!), but I think it’s important to label your work. For me, it feels even more so, since I have kids. My 3-year-old son immediately noticed that this wall hanging was gone when it was in the wash. He asked why I took down the chickens. This piece of handmade décor is being ingrained in his childhood memories. With any luck, I’ll get to hand it down to one of my kids.

Fancy new quilt labels!

And, with any luck, this chicken wall hanging will stay up on the wall another five years when I decide to wash the dust off again!

Ta-da! The non-droopy, not sagging wall hanging. Of course, now it’s a bit wrinkly from the wash. I’m going to consider that “charm”…at least until I’m motivated to steam it. 😉

T-Bud Co. Quilts Ohio: September Ohio Star

September’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

September’s Ohio Star quilt block represents buckeyes. Because I love buckeyes—the nut, the sweet treat, and the people! The Ohio Buckeye was designated as the official state tree by the legislature in 1953. Ohioans are so enamored with this tree and its seed, that Ohio State University has Brutus Buckeye as a mascot. They make a candy that resembles the nut. And, if you’re an Ohioan, you can proudly call yourself a “Buckeye.” (I often say that I married and born-and-raised Buckeye.)

Detail of buckeye-themed Ohio Star quilt block.

I fell in love with buckeyes, the seed, one fall afternoon when I lived in Oakley. I was walking along Erie Avenue to meet my friend at Coffee Emporium, when along a curvy section of the road in East Hyde Park, I discovered a buckeye right there in the middle of the sidewalk. When I picked it up, it was smooth, dense, and cool. The color of a new buckeye is a rich, chocolatey brown. On my walk back, I discovered more and the source, a tree that hung over the sidewalk. I noticed a pod and broke it open to see 2-3 buckeyes tucked inside.

What a fun find! I wanted to collect more, for nothing more than the novelty of holding the seed in my hand and marveling at the texture and color.

I also had the unfortunate experience of making buckeyes—the sweet treat—a few years back. I say unfortunate, because you do not under any circumstances make buckeyes without consulting a Buckeye for tips and recommendations. I distinctly remember showing my husband the buckeyes I made and he asked me where the holes were. As in, the hole from a toothpick used to swirl the peanut butter ball in chocolate. Um, I dunked each ball into the chocolate while it rested on a spoon or fork (I can’t remember). Also, I shared a picture of my non-Ohioan-made buckeyes on Facebook and was met with a “those are pretty sloppy” comment from a true Buckeye.

My second attempt at buckeye candies.

Lesson learned. I did try my hand at making buckeye treats again so I could share a photograph with you. I used a toothpick. I tried to make them neat and tidy, but let us not forget that while I have lived in Ohio for 10 years, I have lived here for only 10 years—I’m no born-and-raised Buckeye!

Buckeyes with buckeyes. Can you tell which is which? Ha!

This block was much easier to make than the treat. I chose a dark brown fabric for the dominant color and a warm tan fabric for the star color. I think it says “buckeye”—both the seed and the candy.

September’s Ohio Star Quilt Block

Handkerchiefs from a Repurposed Bedsheet

Handkerchiefs made from a torn bedsheet.

Not all sewing is glamorous and Insta-worthy. Nope. Sometimes I’m stitching things I need or making the most out of some fabric so it doesn’t end up in a landfill.

Apparently, I like to run marathons in my sleep, because I wore a hole in a flannel fitted sheet. Now, to my defense, these are fast home décor (think fast fashion, but with home décor). We’ve only had the sheets for a couple of years (and use them seasonally because they’re flannel), but still, a hole showed up.

To my credit, I made the hole larger so that I WOULD NOT MISS IT and try to put it back on the bed.

The sheet is queen-size. That’s a lot of fabric without a hole. I washed the sheet and kept it because I knew I’d think of something to use it for. Finally, I decided on handkerchiefs. I grew up using handkerchiefs, or hankies, when I had a cold. Granted, they’re gross. You blow your nose on them. And, you don’t throw them away like you would with a tissue. But, because you DON’T throw them away, you always have one handy. Also, you don’t have to remember to buy tissues or use toilet paper.

Because this sheet was to become hankies, I wasn’t too worried about how they looked in the end. I mean, they’re going to wipe up snot. I simply cut out as many squares as I could by cutting along the plaid pattern. Further evidence of this sheet being fast home décor? The plaid isn’t yarn-dyed, it’s piece-dyed (piece-printed?). Most plaids are yarn-dyed. Go to your closet and check out your favorite plaid shirt and flip it over to the reverse side. The reverse should look like the front and not plain. The reverse of this sheet is white, not plaid: piece-dyed. Because of this, cutting along the plaid pattern didn’t necessarily result in true square pieces. But, whatever—snot.

Plaid on one side; plain on the reverse.

I took the time to press a ¼” hem on two opposite sides of each hankie. Then, I stitched it down. I was going to press the remaining two sides, but it took a long time the first round. I decided to wing it and just fold the hem over as I stitched, because boogers. It worked! They didn’t turn out too shabby—for hankies.

Artsy shot of a snot rag.

The result is 20 or so hankies for my family to use. And, bonus! My husband gave me a cold only a week or so after I finished making these. I used them and I’m satisfied with how they turned out. One sheet saved from the landfill and a house of happy noses!

Stitched. Folded. Stacked. Ready for boogers.


My Tips and Tricks for Starting Avocado Pits

My first 5 pits that I potted.

At the end of 2017, I decided I was going to try my hand at growing an avocado tree in 2018. You know, just for fun. But I also challenged my siblings and parents to grow one, too. I started 10 pits. (Because avocado pits take a long time to start, I’m eager, and I wanted to increase my odds of getting a new, fun houseplant—I’m well aware avocado trees don’t grow in Ohio!)

My avocado seed setup: 8 in water bottles; 2 in AvoSeedos. First they split, send out roots, and then grow a shoot.

Right now, 7 are in pots; 1 is sending up a shoot (and will need to be potted within a few weeks); 2 have rooted. I’m at the point of giving away some of the trees because I can’t possibly keep 7 avocado trees—I just want 1 or 2, maybe 3.

I’ve been chronically my avocado journey on Instagram and dare I say that it has become my “thing.” As in, friends and family are starting to gift me avocado-related items. A friend gave me some snazzy socks and I received a funny “Avocado-holic” t-shirt from family.

I can’t wait for cooler weather so I can start sporting my avocado socks again!
The shirt doesn’t lie. And, it’s comfortable!

When it comes to growing plants and caring for them, I tend to not be too scientific with it. I wing it—go with my gut, for better or worse. But, because of aforementioned challenge, I actually researched this endeavor—a little bit—and then created my own piecemeal method. I’d say 7 out of 10 pits potted ain’t too shabby. Almost 80% successfully grown into trees and who knows what’s going to happen with those last 2?

So, I figured, I’d share with you how I’ve done it. My method sprouts avocado seeds without toothpicks, which is a common technique. I started with the soaking technique in this video:

But! I only soaked my pits until the peel came completely off (with my help). As soon as they were peeled, I transferred them to water bottle starters that I learned to make with this video:

I kept the bottles filled with enough water so the bottom half of the pit was always submersed.

My 2 AvoSeedos and the cup I soaked my pits in.

Here, I’m going to tell you that I tried 2 AvoSeedos. While they’re very innovative, I liked the water bottle starters better. The main benefit of the AvoSeedo is that you don’t have to worry about the water level getting too low and your pit drying out. While I DID have to check the water bottle starters daily, I found that one of the pits in my AvoSeedos didn’t send up a viable shoot until I kept the water level very high, checking it every day. It could have been because I was using a small-ish bowl to float the AvoSeedo in. I don’t know. The other one did just fine. You make the choice, as you start your own avocado journey.

Ready for dirt.

Once a pit sent up a shoot and a few leaves unfurled (it takes months), I transferred it to a pot of dirt. I have a bunch of 32 oz. yogurt tubs stashed in my basement for gardening purposes, so I was all set. I punched holes in the bottom of them to allow water to drain, put a few rocks in the bottom, added some potting soil, and tucked in the avocado tree, covering the pit about halfway with dirt.

Happy and healthy in its new home.

Okay, so from there, I dunno. Ha! A follower on Instagram told me to pinch the top of the tree off to make it bushier. I did that with the first tree I potted. It hasn’t done much since. It’s still healthy, but I’ve yet to see new growth. It makes me hesitant to pinch other trees juuuust yet.

Are you a step ahead? Have you already done this and have an avocado tree in your home—or garden? Tell me your secrets!