Catbird, Quilt, Quilts, Quilting

Eldest Daughter’s Grad Quilt

Where I’m from, we have a tradition of giving high school graduates a gift to mark the passage into another level of adulthood. My husband and I struggled over what gift would be best. A nice watch or pen is traditional, but not very practical. After much debate, we finally just asked her.

To our surprise, she asked for a quilt made by me (awww!). What a wonderful gift she gave me when she asked!

So then I had the enormous task of choosing a pattern, selecting fabrics and all the things that go into making a quilt for that special person. Isn’t that what quilting is about, though? So here are my WIPs (works in progress for those who are new to all the quilting lingo.

I chose the Scrappy Triangle quilt pattern, from Penelope Handmade‘s Heritage Quilt Collection. I have to own up to a slight (not so slight) social media crush here. Love, love, love her quilt patterns!

Here is the progress I’ve made so far:

You might notice the frog pattern in the green batik fabric. After scouring my thrift stores and local fabric stores, I just couldn’t find the right match. I wanted something low-volume as a contrast against the darker green. So… I made my first fabric design.

The eldest loves frogs, so I went with a design based on frog emojis.

I’ll be posting a video soon about this whole process, so if you are more of a visual learner, look out for the update.

Catbird, Quilt, Quilts, Quilting

Heirloom Sunset Bundle

by Sarah Made

Bought this beauty on a whim and haven’t regretted it for a SECOND.

This was my first fat quarter bundle purchase and I had no idea (a) what I would make with it (who needs a plan?) (b) whether that was a reasonable price for 12 fat quarters (spoiler alert: it is) and (c) if I would like the fabrics once I got them (silly me…of course I do.)

If you want to see more from Sarah (and you should, she’s amazing) click HERE


Catbird, Quilt, Quilts, Quilting, thrift store, men's dress shirts, shirts

Books that I use and love

Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison

Sunday Morning Quilts was the first book I ever used to make a quilt, and it was invaluable for every step.

I used the quilt pattern “Splash” from this book as the jumping off point for my first quilt using thrifted men’s shirt fabric. Using the slab method of creating blocks–which then get sewn together in a variety of ways to make a quilt top–I pieced together a soft and cool scrappy throw-sized quilt that I adore. And it all started, really, with this book.

There are useful tutorials on a variety of topics in the book: cutting, piecing, trimming, sewing slabs from scrap fabric, putting together a quilt sandwich, making binding and many, many more.

The projects in the book are beautiful and interesting (and best-of-all, DO-ABLE!) but the real beauty of the book lies in variability of each project based on one’s own scrap fabrics and fabric choices. Each project has suggestions for where one can personalize a quilt by changing the colors, color scheme or block arrangement in a sidebar aptly named, “Make It Yours.”

For an image preview of some of the projects from the book, click HERE.

PS. If you want to try before you buy, check it out at your local library. That’s where I found the copy that made me a quilter. 🙂

Catbird, Quilt, Quilts, Quilting

Thrifting, Shirts, and My First Quilt

I love the Thrift Store.


What I mean by “the thrift store” is this: The Salvation Army Thrift Store, Goodwill, America’s Thrift Stores, cheap secondhand/consignment shops, local non-profit charity stores, flea markets, etc. In short, “the thrift store” isn’t one location to me…it’s ALL of them.

The thrift store provides entertainment and enjoyment and hope. Buying anything really–but especially clothes—from the thrift store is the antithesis of conspicuous consumption, but it is infinitely more rewarding. It is responsible, practical, often off-trend, and (generally) inexpensive. Which doesn’t really sound exciting or entertaining or hopeful. But clothes from the thrift store carry with them the promise of a second chance. At the very least, they get a new beginning with a new wearer. Sometimes, though, they get up-cycled into a totally new life as something completely different. And that IS exciting (at least to me it is!)

I find that shopping at the thrift store for men’s shirts is especially delightful.

You may be thinking, “Why?!” with that dubious or confused or critical expression on your face (you know the one.)

Let me just tell you. Men’s shirts are very often made with some of the best fabrics the fabric world has to offer. And it’s not just the fabric type that can be so wonderful (yes, I’m talking about you, linen shirt. You too, flannel.) It’s the patterns and prints, for me, that can be so compelling and surprising. Tiny polka dots? Yes! Pin stripes? Yes. Plaids? Yep. Tons of them. Paisley? Floral prints? Yes, please. Don’t even get me started on the ginghams! And that doesn’t even touch the wide range of specialty prints on men’s shirts that pop up in thrift stores from time-to-time. A few days ago I saw a shirt made with a print of cute little sailboats! See? So surprising.

Which brings me to yet another aspect of thrifted men’s shirts that is so delightful: the uniqueness. Unlike the bolts upon bolts of fabric at a local quilt shop or Joann’s or Hobby Lobby, these shirts are one-and-onlies—even if there are 37 light blue shirts on the rack. You’d be hard-pressed to find 2 shirts out of those 37 that are exactly the same. (Well, except for the guy that donates all his uniform work shirts all at the same time to the same thrift store. In that case, you might find 6 army-green wrinkle-free polyester-blend button downs on the same rack, but we don’t often speak of it.)

Pro-tip: If you stumble on an all-cotton set of shirts in a color you like, buy them all and you can piece them together and use them as quilt backing.

And let’s be clear on this: I’m more of a confident-beginner at this point. I’m certainly NOT being paid to buy men’s shirts at the thrift store to make quilts–let alone anything else–out of them.

I digress.

So I started buying men’s shirts at the thrift store because I think the fabric is gorgeous (the colors! the prints! the textures!) and one day somewhat out of the blue I decided to make a quilt from them.

So I did! And I love it. And now I especially love to make quilts with men’s shirts from the thrift store.

And my first quilt is the softest, coolest, smoothest quilt ever. It feels just like the other side of the pillow. Really.

Catbird, Quilt, Quilts, Quilting

Meadowlark Quilt Pattern

by Penelope Handmade

The instant I first saw the Meadowlark quilt pattern from Jennifer Jones of Penelope Handmade, I was smitten.

In my humble opinion, it is the perfect blend of traditional and modern quilt design. It looks great in every colorway—including a simple two-color construction—which is no small thing, especially for quilts. It comes in a variety of sizes from baby to throw to king which makes it versatile to make as a gift quilt or commission.

I modified it to make the full quilt into a baby quilt size by reducing the piecing down to postage-stamp size and it still turned out as gorgeous as the standard size.

Needless to say, I’m a fan.

You can get the pattern HERE.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” -Chinese proverb