Isabella's Whimsy

handmade with love

8 is Great! #pqseason8

It’s Season 8 for Project QUILTING! Challenge 1 was 8 is Great, make any kind of quilt that features an aspect of number 8.

Here is the link to the Challenge. My entry is a modern quilt block that measures about 18.5″ square. I made it as a wall hanging or a table topper.

My inspiration came from Biblical Numerology (what?!) where number 8 means Resurrection or New Beginning. Number 7 means Completion or Perfection, so it follows that the next number is a new beginning.

I was happy to be able to incorporate some inspirational text fabric in this project that ties in with a New Beginning. There is a hanging sleeve on the back that isn’t in the way if the quilt is used as a table topper.

This week all 142 quilts made for Season 8, Challenge 1 are open for public voting, here. Everyone can vote for their 10 favorite quilts…in case you are wondering…mine is #76 (“remember 76 trombones in the big parade”).

I have Project Quilting albums on Flickr from the past few years if you like browsing this kind of thing. And the quilt is now in my Etsy shop, IsabellasWhimsy.

On Friday I want to share another Project QUILTING project that has worked out very nicely for me.

Thank you for taking time to visit the blog.

~ Blessings,



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Etsy Shop Addition

shells beach

Hope everyone has been enjoying their summer, even if it’s winter where you are.  I stalled off admitting summer as long as I could, but we are in the midst of it now!  When I want to forget the heat I zone out and fill my mind with lovely beach scenes and play with my shell collection.  This summer I also found some beautiful beach and sea creatures fabric and made a sweet baby quilt.

Today the quilt became part of Isabella’s Whimsy on Etsy.

Wishing you a joyful summer (or winter) week!



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A Word for 2016

IsabellasWhimsy 2016 Word

Have you heard of the activity/movement to choose a special word as your own word for a year? I don’t know a lot about it, but I like the idea.

From what I gather, you select a word that resonates with you as your focus word.  Every now and then through 2015 I would catch a bit of conversation about people’s words for the year. I never could come up with a word that felt just right for me, but this evening a blogger I admire, Julie, The Crafty Quilter, shared someone else’s blog post about claiming a word for yourself to explore, to be influenced by, to grow with. And I knew what my word is for 2016.


Just thinking the word feels good.  This is my word.

Now what am I going to do with this word? I’ll probably doodle it, applique it, ponder it, read about it, look for experiences of it, and share it.

Would you like to tell your word for the year?





Plus Quilt: Baby Boy – or How to Find Delight

I delight in Plus Quilts!

Take a quick look here or here to see if you do too.

Because of this ongoing desire for a Plus Quilt I determined to make one for the before-end-of-year reopening of Isabella’s Whimsy on (Don’t know what Etsy is?  Click here.) There are a few different styles of Plus Quilts, and the style I like the best is made with squares and rectangles (not completely with squares). I also think 3″ (finished) squares will work very well for a baby quilt; 4″ or 5″ probably would look good to me also, but for my first Plus Quilt I wanted to have 3″ squares as the base size. Also, I wanted the Plus Quilt will be in boy colors.

Thank goodness for internet searching.  I had a lot of questions, even after selecting the style and base-block size.  I looked at color selections, read tutorials and process descriptions, and picked up as much info as I could.  I looked at and learned from these sites especially:

Reannalily Designs (dot) com  shares cutting guides and a worksheet based on 7″ squares and accompanying rectangles.

I like the variety of colors in Happy to Craft‘s Plus Quilt. Ms. Happy used 2 prints and 5 solids.

Gemini Stitches has made a tutorial for a lovely Plus Quilt Table Runner based on a 2.5 base block.

A very helpful site is For the Love of George.  Ms. Love-of asks you to register, then she provides a free Plus Quilt pattern in three sizes with suggested layout options.

I started my serious planning with Option 1: 9 fabrics with a random layout. There was only one difference from the Layout Guide to the number of squares I wanted in my Plus Quilt; all I needed to do was draw in one more column on the right hand side and I was good to go. (Oh, and her base square to cut is 4″ where mine is 3.5″ but that didn’t matter too much.) Of course that one little change meant I had to do some math to adjust a few of the pieces from squares to rectangles

So, wanting to use as many fabrics from my stash as possible, I pulled enough to make a stack of nine fabrics in blues, greens, and grays.

This is what I came up with –

DSCF1384 Then I used this planning sheet from For the Love of George, scissors, tiny scraps, and glue.  It was fun to match up my fabrics with the layout guide.

1st and only planning sheetImmediately you say, “Hey where did that orange come from?!” Well, I decided Plus Quilt Baby Boy needed a little more energy. And then you also say, “That stack of 9 fabrics looks like it has more…” And you are correct! I didn’t have quite enough gray for all I needed, so I added a couple of blues.  I also really wanted to use that cute little ABC print, but it also needed more, so I added another print that blends.

DSCF1386So, the initial stack of 9 turned out to be 13, and there is one more surprise coming later.

I wanted to keep an eye on the color values as I went into the layout phase, so here are the swatches arranged by value: top row is 5 light, 3 dark; bottom row is 5 medium (some of them were a little tricky for me to categorize). The next pic shows a black and white copy suggested by more experienced quilt designers as a method to check for value.

Colors by ValueDSCF1394 - Copy

I laid out the cut pieces, but I wasn’t as happy with it as I wanted to be.  I did another black and white check for light, medium, and dark values in the placement.

1st try1st try (2)After playing around, I came up with another layout that isn’t very different (after all, the layout guide I started with was awesome!), but I got more feeling of delight from it.

3rd tryAnd Delight is what I was going for.

Follow-up next week with the finished quilt and any lessons I learn along the way.

Oh, do you see the “surprise” green and white chevron fabric that found its way in?



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As the Phoenix Rises from the Ashes…response to disappointment

In thinking about quilt patterns to make  for the reopening of Isabella’s Whimsy on Etsy my memory kept returning to the mid-1990s when I had made an amazing quilt design.  I was so proud of it – my first original design.  I couldn’t quite recall the exact pattern, but I was fully confident that if I could only see one of my quilts made with the pattern I could analyze it and write it up as a pattern. I kept this idea simmering in the back of my head when what do you know,  I stumbled across a quilt from that long-ago time that I had not finished (not too surprising).  My hands nearly trembled in anticipation as I unfolded that gem-of-potential only to drop in confusion when I saw the pattern was a simple tweak of a typical patchwork, not the amazing quilt design I remembered.

Oh well.


But I did not give up.  I talked to my understanding big sister who said she still has the throw I made for her husband and that she would take a picture and send it by email.  Ah, the gladness in my heart! Now I could write up the amazing quilt design and use it to make new quilts and to make a pattern to offer people, either in Isabella’s Whimsy on Etsy or as a freebie!  Then the picture arrived.  I was confused. dismayed. baffled. How could my memory be so wrong? so very wrong? This was indeed the design, but with only two colors, not the three colors I vividly remembered, so it really wasn’t all that amazing. ooohh.Jack's throwAs a last attempt I contacted my friend to ask for a picture of the baby I blanket I had made for her daughter who is now in college.  She was able to send a couple of pics, and again I was confused and even mildly shocked.  This was not my amazing design either!  She said she hoped I wasn’t disappointed, but I was and a little worried about my brain.

IMG_2686 But then just as the phoenix rose from the ashes full of life and strength, I rose from my despair, determined and motivated to re-create what I had apparently never created in the first place, my amazing quilt design!

So I set to work and used a sweet butterfly fabric with purples and other lovely little girl colors, some pink and purple, some old-fashioned delicate white print, and for a pop some lime green with white dots.  I measured and cut and sewed up a storm.  Of course in my “original” (mental) design I had only used three fabrics, but if three is good, four must be better.  So I improvised my way to a finished quilt top.  I started to write out the pattern and got to the part where I change things up…kind of tricky to explain improvisation.  So after more measuring and scribbling, I decided this is not going to be my amazing first original design, this is going to be a cute and happy quilt that I put in the shop, but that’s all. This time. For now, here is a sneak peak.




Would you like to read the folktale about the Phoenix Rising from the Ashes? click here

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An Honor and Some Progress

I was just checking email and was surprised and delighted to see that I am featured as most viewed on The Quilting Room with Mel for this week! How very nice!  Because of that I get to use this…

The Quilting Room with Mel

What was viewed? you may ask. Well, a Lap Quilt for My Uncle. When I posted I had one block left to make, so the progress I want to show is where I am with that last block.
Idaho Mountains for Uncle HarveyIt’s not quite finished; needs clouds and buildings, and stitching then it will be ready to sash for his lap quilt.  I used a photo that he took and sold to tourists as the inspiration for this block.  Maybe this week…



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Memory Quilt Tops….Finished!

The two memory quilt tops for my great-niece and -nephew are finished, folded and ready to go.  We are going to add fleece and the quilt stitching after I get there.

Before the final pics, here are two squares from each block that I haven’t shown you before.

Two of Papa Jack’s vintage cars, his 1957 white Thunderbird and the 1956 turquoise and white Fairlane.


I traced a pic of the T-bird onto white cotton, then sketch stitched it; seemed too thin, so I added fusible interfacing to the back.

DSCF1190I made an applique pattern for the Fairlane, fused it, then sketch stitched around all the pieces.

I asked each of the kids to draw a picture for me to include in the quilt. The idea was to capture a special memory/connection of theirs to Papa Jack. The plan was to scan and print their pictures on fabric, then stitch in as blocks. Wasn’t quite that simple.  I put the printed fabrics in a vinegar bath, but it took out all or almost all of the color!  So I reprinted them (don’t even ask me how that went, but finally it worked), got out some fabric paint pens and colored over their pictures, heat set, and that worked well.  The great-niece drew Papa Jack’s F100 Ranger, the vehicle she (11 years old) has already claimed for her own. DSCF1189Great-nephew did a crayon rubbing of some coins because Papa Jack was a treasure hunter who found old coins, and an amateur collector.  G-N also loves his money. The fabric pens had two ends, one a brush and one a fine point, so I was able to trace the letters on the large California coin, from where Papa Jack lived most of his life.

DSCF1191So here are the quilt tops and a caption following for each block .

Jonathan's Quilt 2 (2)

Row 1: Two patriotic blocks (Tic Tac Toe block and appliqued eagle block – Fat Cat Patterns) and July Star, for Papa Jack’s birth month.

Row 2: McDonald’s ice cream sundae (cherry, I believe), Treasure Hunters, his hobby of repairing antique clocks, a mason jar of nuts and bolts, etc., a cut out from a patriotic ball cap edged with baseballs representing his sons and grandsons sports.

Row 3: Wonky log cabin house for home and family (my sister says, Well, he was a little wonky, wasn’t he?), a heart block for their 50+ year marriage, great-grandson’s pic, US flag representing his amazing flag collection and all the ways he shared his love for the flag with schools and scouts.

Row 4: Typewriter fabric for the long career he held with the Bank of America as an office machines mechanic, the vintage Fairlane, a t-shirt block showing his great respect for the first Americans, and the boy scout emblem appliqued on blue for the younger aged scouts.

Row 5: Family camping times, and the Balkan puzzle block that I used to represent his keen interest in the Civil War, the blue uniforms surrounding the grays on a battlefield of green.


I will only mention the differences here.

Row 1: Easy Weather vane block in patriotic colors.

Row 2: Last block is a cut out from the Los Banos High School where his two older grandsons played ball.

Row 3: The truck.

Row 4: The Thunderbird.

Making these quilts was very therapeutic for me. Jack married my sister when I was 7 years old.  He was my brother for a long, long time.  He was the most constant man in my family and will always be in my heart.


My Favorite Quilt

Val's Quilting Studio

Val’s Quilting Studio is hosting a Tuesday Linky Party for us to share old posts. Each Tuesday has a duo of themes, this week’s is Farms and Favorites.

Well, I posted one of my favorites on Tuesday, but I also want to post about an old favorite I didn’t write about.  It’s a Character Quilt (not sure if I made up that name or not).  The idea is to reflect someone’s character through color, shapes, and lines, and sometimes photos.  This Character Quilt is what I designed and made for a gentleman at church who was a pretty special fellow.  He led a very colorful and energetic life.  Early on he was passionate about rodeo and did very well at riding bulls, Brahma bulls.  When I got to know him he was a grandpa, still very energetic, rode motorcycles, and was passionate about Bible study.  Together we designed Grandpa’s Hugs Quilts (you can see a tab in Isabella’s Whimsy showing what we made for his grandkids), and in the midst of that work I was so impressed by his energy that inspiration struck to design his character quilt.  What do you think?


Character Quilt

Character Quilt

He really loved his rodeo shirts that we used for the 3 grandchildren’s quilts, so for him to be able to keep a memento of each, I used a piece of them as well as a piece of the backgrounds or backings of the quilts. Then I added other bright energetic colors.  He had some photos printed on t-shirts for us to use and I had an extra one made for this wall quilt.  On the children’s quilts we made one cuff unsnap to reveal a hidden place and Grandpa folded up and inserted a $2 bill, so I copied that idea on his little quilt.  Wish I had a pic of the label!  I hadn’t made more than one or two labels, or it might have been the first, I don’t remember.  Anyway, I hand-embroidered in black, red, blue and orange his name and three characteristics of his: energy, passion, spirituality. He was a very special brother-in-Christ who helped and taught me when I was in need.

~ with a tear of memory,


p.s. He didn’t die, just moved away! If you want to see our Hugs Quilts click here.

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A Dottie Finish and Memorial Weekend WIPs


via A Dottie Finish and Memorial Weekend WIPs.

I love Plus Quilts, and I love dots, so you can just guess how giggly I feel when I see this little quilt!

~Grammie,  Isabella’s Whimsy

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Triangles for Gwyneth – Project Quilting Season 5, Final Challenge


This is the final challenge for Project QUILTING for Season 5 (2014).  I would be sad, but I already know that there will be monthly off-season challenges until Season 6 begins – WooHoo!

This week the challenge was Triangles (click to see the challenge) .  Since challenging our creativity as well as our quilting skills is the object of the game, we are free to use Triangles in any way we want in our project.  I decided to…for the first time…make a child’s quilt within the challenge timeframe of this week.  I have several promised children’s quilts on my To Do List, so I got 2-with-1-whack: the challenge completed on time and one item checked off my list!

I had recently seen some triangle quilts and really wanted to make one, so I saved this tutorial by Kersten at Frozen Knickers, Refreshing. Needless to say, I was VERY happy to see that the PQ Challenge not only could be used to make a quilt I wanted to make, but also to make this quilt for a special little girl in my life, Gwyneth. I adapted the tutorial from a doll quilt to a child’s quilt, but made sure to limit the amount of cutting and sewing by using 8 and 1/2″ triangles.  I did a lot of guessing on how many triangles across and down, but I’m happy with the (roughly) 42″ X 50″ size.

PQ 5,6 Triangles 2

As with all the other challenges, this was a learning experience.  For instance, did you know that if you cut carefully and sew 1/4″ seams accurately, you will have less work to do than if you just sort of cut and sew. Ripping out can be 1) extra work, or 2) an appreciated break to watch a show.

Another thing I learned by observation is, it takes more thread to sew a row in upside down at the wrong spot and then fix it than it would to sew everything in the right order the first time.  It takes even more thread (and work, or more time to watch a show) when you sew the row in wrong two or even three times.  Just thought you would like to know.

For materials I used cotton prints and solids in pinks and purples, some from Gwyneth’s great-grandmother’s stash, most from my sister’s stash, and some from my own stash.  The backing is a pink background with multicolor butterflies.  The batting is a nice fluffy poly batting. Oh! I learned something there too.  When I first laid out the batting it had clumps and lumps from where it was folded in the package.  I went online and searched for “bunched up batting” but the posts were about bunching during quilting, not right out of the package.  Finally one lady suggested getting the bat damp and putting it in the dryer for a few minutes.  I put it in for 8 minutes with a damp hand towel.  While it was drying, I picked up the package and read right there, “For best results, fluff in dryer (on low heat) for 5-10 minutes before using.” So, the moral of the story is, reading the package can save you a lot of time and messing around.

I quilted a 1/4″ from each seam around each triangle and down the sides of the quilt where I added a 2″ border.  I made a scrappy binding from leftovers.

PQ 5,6 Triangles 3 butterflies back

Even with all the redo’s the quilt, named for the girl, is done.

I present Gwyneth!

PQ 5,6 Triangles 4

Thank you for taking time to read my blog.  Here is the link where you can see all the PQ projects for this week, then starting on Saturday you can vote for your favorites on this same link.

~ Janie, at Isabella’s Whimsy

p.s. Completed in my home in College Station, Texas.

pps. Flickr


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