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Pretty Potent Fat Quarter Napkins

So I just had lunch with one of these napkins on my lap and realized I never posted about them here. Boo! They are almost too simple to write about really, but I'm going to anyway.

The napkins are made of two fat quarters - one solid, one print. I sew them right sides together, pull them right sides out, press, and topstitch the edges with a decorative stitch. Easy peasy.

The real story is in the napkin rings. They are made by our kids with pipe cleaners and beads. Each member of the family has a ring with their name spelled out in beads. We store the napkins in a basket with the rings, and in the morning each person gets their napkin and ring for the day. One napkin per day is the rule, and after breakfast the ring goes on the napkin so we know who gets which napkin later for lunch or dinner. Clever, right? That's what I told my eight year old when she came up with the system! On the day the system works I have four kids with cloth napkins on their laps for meals. Big Smile...


Cotton prints are a whole fat quarter set of Anna Maria Horner's Pretty Potent fabric line, and solids are Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Jade and Empire Yellow. Thread is Aurifil in medium turquoise.  

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Mini Supernova Quilt


So we had a load of lovely summer guests last weekend, and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. I should have been exhausted when they drove away on Tuesday morning, but instead I was wired with a desire to make something. So I dropped my oldest kids at camp, put the youngest down for a rest, and headed up to the pile of Constellation fabrics by Lizzie House that I've been noodling on for months.

I had a plan for these fabrics all sketched out with coordinating solids purchased and ready to go. Then I stumbled upon the Supernova Quilt pattern while reading my copy of Quilting Modern. (Yes, I read quilting books like others read novels - cover to cover, in bed at night, with a glass of wine or mug of tea in hand.) The Supernova pattern is an obvious choice for the constellation fabrics, but is it too obvious? I decided to try a mini quilt and find out.

To make the mini quilt I simply scaled all measurements down to 2 1/2" squares and followed the pattern as written.  I used only Constellation fabrics to see how they would work without solids. I like the result, but think that when I choose a pattern, and go BIG (as in twin sized BIG), I will add some solids or small scale tonal prints for greater contrast. What do you think? What would you do with these fabrics?

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Finished Scout Quilt

So summer has us wrapped around its little finger. After a long, dark, snow filled winter it seems that there's nothing summer can do that will put us off this year. We've been busy travelling, swimming, exploring, and just plain sitting out of doors as much as we can. Lightning storms, local tornadoes, and the ineveitable visits to the emergency room with kids can't slow us down. We are too busy being in love with the longer, looser days and the possibilities they bring. 

Why and I telling you this though? And what does summer have to do with this quilt? Well, everything really.

Summer inspired this quilt. Specifically, the many summers I've spent in Santa Fe, New Mexico immersed in earthy adobe browns, grey stone paths, orange sunsets, outdoor bluegrass music, and turquoise American Indian jewelry. The arrow motif was intentionally chosen to recall the Pendelton blankets ubiquitous in Santa Fe, and our home growing up. Yes, this quilt is summer in Santa Fe for me, and I'm happy to see it in my backyard drying after it's first washing, and wrapped around my son at night.

Quilting notes:

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Sunny Day Shorts 

So this spring, on any day containing the smallest bit of sunshine (it's been raining A LOT), our three year old appears in whacky outfits that center around three pairs of shorts: his old mustache shorts, and these new dragon and superhero shorts. For these new shorts the little guy chose the fabrics, I chose the free Sunny Day Shorts pattern from Oliver + S, and instant favorites were born. Like all Oliver + S patterns that I have used, the Sunny Day Shorts pattern is well written and contains helpful illustrations in all the right places. I was a bit concerned that the shorts would look like boxer shorts if I used one fabric for the whole shebang, so I used contrasting fabrics for the waistbands, and added piping to the sides. Noone wants to looks like they are walking around in their underwear! Pockets would have also been a way to avoid boxer confusion, but this kid finds unknowable places to hide things away in without my providing any more. Rocks, change, cars, and figurines are prevalent enough in my laundry already thank you very much. So here he is, sans pockets, itchy with spring fever. Time to go play outside... 

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Handmade Modern Baby Bonnet 

So summer sewing is in full swing here (get it - swing, HA!). I just started some shorts for my boys, a simple sling bag for myself, and some things for the home, but first, this little bonnet. It's adorable, yes? A little Laura Ingalls in design, but there's nothing wrong with that. The fact that the sun shines right into little eyes hasn't changed since Little House on the Prairie was popular, and this little bonnet pattern from Lea and Lars is perfect for summer sun. It's reversible, has an adjustable tie that provides a custom fit, and a brim that folds back when needed. Most importantly, she loves it and wears it all the time. She even fell asleep wearing it, which is the highest complement a baby can pay to an item of clothing right? 

I followed the pattern exactly, making the size 12-24 months for our 12 month old. It fits well with room to grow. I found the pattern to be very easy to follow, with only one pattern piece to print and cut. Just be sure that you have some lightweight fusible interfacing around before you get started. It's key to geting a stiff, yet foldable brim on your bonnet. There is a lot of room for pattern play and personalization here, which I love. I also love that the finished product folds flat and rolls into a little cone for travel. I plan to make more just as soon I can.

What are you sewing for summer?


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Kokka Pillows 


So last week I gave myself license to play around and just have fun with my sewing machine. It rained nearly every day, and sitting in the half dark of my sewing room, I found myself free motion quilting in silence, lost to the "real" world. Many moments I was transformed into a version of the girl I used to be, doodling in the margins of my notebook at school.  When I came back to myself I was reminded that this is why I love to sew, and knit, and cook, and make things in general. It's for that hummmmm that takes over when you are really IN IT.   

What I was left with Friday morning were quilted panels of varying sizes just begging to be made into pillows. All fabric is from the Japanese design house Kokka. Some are leftover from my big girl's Rosalie Quilt, with a few fat quarters that I picked up at Nido (such a lovely little shop!), and pom pom trimmings from Purl in the mix. Thread is Aurifil cotton 40WT in sand, which was a dream to quilt with. I'll definitely be buying more for my next machine quilting project.

Now to handstitch the pillow openings closed and fall into my next crafty zen moment...

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Entrechat Knit Baby Shrug

So our baby girl turned one this week, and naturally, I knit her a sweater. As the fourth child surrounded by hand-me-downs, she doesn't need toys, she doesn't need clothes, and she certainly doesn't need a handknit shrug, but she got one anyway, and she loves it. See that smile above? That's her loving it. I know it looks like she's in pain and she hates it, but it's actually this goofy little kid's way of smiling with sheer happiness. I promise. 
The pattern is Entrechat by Lisa Chemery, purchased on Ravelry, and I found it to be well written and very easy to follow. It was so clear in fact, that I knit the entire sweater on a family road trip last week to and from Boston with animated movies and wisecracking kids as my soundtrack. I only needed to hush everyone up for one little Youtube moment to check out the recommended video showing the clever increase required for the back ruffle. (Three cheers for YouTube knitting tutorials!)
All told, this little sweater took about 7 hours to knit, and another hour to finish at home. No double pointed needles are required for the little cap sleeves, and I think that in the smallest size one could get away with only one hank of the Blue Sky worsted cotton yarn I used. I knit the size 2-3 for our tall one year old, and saw myself running out of the carribean yarn as I went. That's why I switched to the true red for the center band, and then ran a row of single crochet red trim all around to pull the colors together at the end. My mom taught me long ago that when in doubt, run a row of single crochet around a finished knit. It makes things look a bit more finished, camouflaging any rogue cast on or cast off stitches. A necessity for knit-in-the-car items! 
What have you been knitting? And where?

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Knit Danforth Pullover

So here I am, finally wearing my finished Danforth Pullover. It's poorly blocked and covered in leaf fragments from the walk in the woods we took just prior to snapping these photos (note windblown ponytail - oops!), but I'm giving myself a break on this one. I started knitting it last October, just before we moved. It was, admittedly, a terrible time to start a new knitting project, but I was stressed out and knitting needles were needed to calm my nerves. This was a start and stop project with a few rows knit here, a few rows there. I think my inconsistency shows in the finished garment, but I love it all the same. 

Yarn is Berroco Comfort DK in navy. It washes well, stretches in all the right places, and is really really warm. Perfect for wearing on a cool spring day outside with little ones.  

The pattern is pretty much my dream come true: top down, no sleeves, schematic included. It was incredibly easy to follow, and I think that the shoulder seam detail and deep armholes give the finished pullover a very modern look. It is essentially a shaped, ribbed tube, however, so it really shows every bump and lump on the body. Even though I gave it a good tug before taking these photos, just bending down to put the baby on the floor created the little ripples and uneven lines seem above. Now I think some bumps and lumps are just lovely facts of life, but worth noting for others who may be contemplating the pattern. For me this pullover as a big navy hug, and I plan to look to Pam Allen patterns again in fufure when knitting for myself. 

What do you have on the needles right now? Something for spring?


DIY Colonial American Costume


So quilting was interrupted last week when my daughter told me that the deadline to bring in her costume for the school colonial faire had passed, and I better get to work because her teacher knows I sew. Yes, that's pretty much exactly what she said. I own a sewing machine and I know how to use it, so obviously I must handmake her a complete outfit that would have been worn in colonial America. Sometimes these demands make me mad, but this time I thought: fair enough. I declined to sew 120 aprons for the rest of the student body when asked, but one outfit I could handle.

So above you see photos of our girl striking her best colonial pose in her new calico skirt, eyelet shirt, and apron. The apron is simply a vintage tea towel that I was gifted years ago depicting (what I assume to be) colonial America. I sewed a wide black ribbon to each side, tied it around her back and it became a great long apron. The skirt is a little more than a yard of calico sewn together at the selvedges, with an elastic waist inserted. A quick sew for one time use. 

The shirt was where I spent some time. I know there is little chance that the long skirt or apron will be worn again, but at least the top has a chance. The pattern I used is the Juliette Shirred Blouse from Sew What You Love with shorter sleeves, added length, and an open bottom. I was thrilled when my girl wanted to wear it to a friend's house with her everyday leggings (see below) the very day she tried it on. I'm not surpised - what's not to love about eyelet?

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Scout Quilt Started

So the past couple of weeks I've been sneaking up to the sewing room to start a quilt for our almost four year old. He currently has two beds in his room: a twin he inherited from his older sister, and a toddler bed that he inherited from his older brother. He doesn't sleep in either of them. Last night, he slept in his brother's room, on a trundle. You see, the poor little guy is terrified at night right now, waking us over and over to tell us that the world is scary when you are all alone. We agree. Then in the morning he gets me alone and solemnly tells me that the other reason he can't be expected to sleep in his bed(s) is that he doesn't have a quilt "made by mom" yet. He hopes that by the time he's four he will have one for his "big" twin bed. Cue smile, complete with heart melting dimple.

I speak fluent three-year-old, so let me translate that for you good folks at home who don't.

"No pressure mom, but I can't reasonably be expected to try to sleep in my own room, in my own bed, alone, until I have my own twin sized quilt handmade just for me, by you, so get to work if you, or dad, ever want to sleep through the night again. Oh, and by means of disclaimer, even after I get a cool quilt and turn four years old I promise nothing. I may very well sleep on a trundle, or on the floor until I leave home."

Message recieved son. I'm working on it. 


Pattern: Scout, by Cluck Cluck Sew. I'm adapting the pattern to be a twin size when finished. I'll let you know how it goes.

Fabric: Mix of Birch Organics Mod Basics, Birch Organics Ipanema, older Heather Ross Far Far Away prints for Kokka Fabrics, an arrow print whose origin I cannot recall, and a little Essex Linen by Robert Kaufman.

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Pink Fig's Olivia Top 

So remember yesterday when I said I made three spring dresses for my littlest person? Well this is the third. It's the Oilivia Top from Pink Fig Patterns with the optional ruffle bottom in size 12 months. This pattern requires a little more sewing experience than the reversible pinafores I shared yesterday, but it's totally doable if you have a little time on your hands.  Though it's essentially a raglan peasant dress in design, the version I made requires knowledge of sewing with elastic thread, ruffling, finishing seams, and hemming. There are instructions for how to create shirring with elastic thread, and some simple black and white photos included, but it's really an intermediate level project. If you have a serger or sewing foot that makes rolled seams, then this will sew up fairly quickly. Hemming and ruffling took up most of my time, but worth it for such a cute look. Now if only spring would hurry up and arrive....

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Reversible Pinafores 

So in the past couple of weeks our mailbox has been stuffed with sunshine in the form of catalogs and offers containing seeds, outdoor furniture, and bathing suits. Stores are likewise selling sunshine, and lots of it. I went to buy some cold weather clothing for our little babe (she's outgrown nearly every onesie and pajama in the house) and could only find warm weather options in the store. It seems that retail businesses in America are selling for spring and only spring, but Mother Nature never go the memo. As I type this it's snowing outside, but the advertisers and marketers of America have me dreaming of sunshine. It's kind of like when I see a commercial for food and suddenly MUST eat...when I see spring clothes and I suddenly MUST sew. And sew I have. 

Late at night and early in the morning I've knocked out three spring/summer dresses for my growing girl since Sunday. The first two are the reversible pinafores I'm sharing today. They are the reversible pinafore pattern available for instant download on Etsy in multiple sizes from Aliyah's Hope Chest. I highly recommend this pattern if you are looking for a practical garment that can be sewn without a serger in a short period of time. The pinafore is completely reversible, so all seams are contained and do not require finishing, cutting down sewing time a lot.

Something to note is that when you purchase the pattern your download only contains the actual pattern to print, not the instructions. The instructions are available to the public in the Etsy listing (it says: "instructions are available at this link..." in the listing), so I suggest reading the pattern instructions and viewing the how-to videos to help you make up your mind. As a visual learner I found that once I watched the videos I was set to sew without really refering to the pattern much. A great perk when it's 5 am and you are determined to have a new handmade garment on your kid by breakfast.

Now for the details: 

Our girl is now 10 months and about 20 lbs, and 29" long for size reference. The floral pinafore is sewn in the 12 month size with piping added all around. Fabric is Cloud 9 organics Bed of Roses for JoAnn's and reverses to . This size fits little R perfectly, but there is no room to grow. She screamed when I pried it off of her last night. 

The hot air balloon pinafore is sewn in a size 18 month with rik rack trim sewn into the shoulder seams of the outside, and along the front curved bottom seam. Fabric is leftover from this batch of blankets from the bright balloons collection by Robert Kaufman. It fits R more loosely, but is still cute, and was easy to get on and off. 

Balloons reverse to:

Pros about the pattern: It fits close to the body but allows for lots of movement, which is essential for this age. It also allows for lots of personalization if desired. I added piping and rik rack to these pinafores, but I think a little pocket, some embroidery, or a patched front would also be great. Also, as I mentioned, no serging is required, these sizes require very little fabric, and it's a very quick sew. 

Cons about the pattern: It's not really a con, but this a top really, not a dress, which the pattern listing makes very clear. I really love the short length for this cold weather layered over long sleeved and pants, but for actual spring and summer, I may add a little length and pair it with capri leggings or daiper covers. 

What have you been sewing lately?


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KCW Challenge Winter 2014 - Lego Moto Look

pattern/ modified flashback skinny tee, self-drafted moto knee patches

fabric/ interlock heather knit from Joann's, red organic cotton baby rib knit, Lego bricks woven cotton

pattern alterations/ flashback tee: sewn in size 7/8 for slim 6 year old with two inch cuffs and additional two inch waist band and additional Lego brick fabric inset.

found at/ kcw projects

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KCW Challenge Winter 2014 - Stellar Tunic

pattern/ stellar tunic dress by figgy's

fabric/ loulouthi by anna maria horner woven cotton scraps, purple jersey knit from stash

notes/ LOVE this pattern, great fast sew and on trend design for the older/not-yet-tween girl set **i know she likes it when she leaves it on for school after the am photo shoot ;)**

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KCW Challenge Winter 2014 - Architextures Treasure Pocket Pants


pattern/ treasure pocket pants from Sewing For Boys

fabric/ architextures by Carolyn Friedlander for Robert Kaufman

pattern alterations/ (1) sewed size 4/5 for my slim 6 year old with 2" added to length all around, (2) used contrast fabric for pockets, and (3) made single waist casing for elastic rather than double.

found at/ kcw project page

read about kcw by clicking on button below

kid's clothes week

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Just a little note to say that I've just claimed by blog on Bloglovin! I used to us Google Reader to keep track of all of my favorite bloggers. Then Google Reader retired and I switched to Feedly, but now I've found my home over at Bloglovin. I like the format, the suggestions, and the daily email digest that is sent right to my inbox. So check it out, and Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

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DIY Windowseat

So one of my favorite spots in our new home is a windowseat in our daughter's room. It's wide and deep and tucked in between two rooflines, making it the perfect place to sneak out of the house when she's a teenager, and the perfect place to snuggle together right now. When we looked at the house, the windowseat was bare, and it made me feel more than a little lonely to leave it that way when we moved in. Thus, the windowseat became a sewing priority. 
At first my vision of the windowseat was one of thin cushions in different prints piled high (think princess and the pea). However, the cost of home dec fabric, the wrangling of foam inserts, and the safety aspect of young children in front of windows soon changed my mind. Instead I settled on a simple foam cushion with loads of pillows. I was surprised at the lack of DIY windowseat cushion tutorials and inspiration available on the internet, and I was impatient to get started, so I winged it, and made A LOT of mistakes. 
First, I made one long cushion (over 80" long) by sewing an envelope of home decorator weight fabric with boxed corners and an invisible zipper. The insert is one continuous piece of 4" foam.
Next time, I will make two smaller ones. Handling such a long piece of 4" foam is not fun folks. 
Second, I sewed my zipper into one of the short sides of the cushion, rather than a long side. Next time I will center a longer zipper on a long side of my cushion to make it easier to remove and clean.
Third, I placed the cushion cover directly in top of the foam. Next time I will make a thin muslim for the foam to prevent the home dec fabric from sticking to the foam everytime we sit down. It's kinda cute to see little moon shaped butt imprints when we get up, but it's kinda NOT cute too. 
That said, this window seat is doing exactly what I wanted it to on this snowy, freezing day - it's giving us a place to snuggle, read, and explore the world outside from the warm safety of indoors.
(Pipe cleaner/pom pom/feather headbands and siblings with no sense of personal space are completely optional, but recommeded.)
A note about all those pillows before I go...
These are all very simple knife edge pillows with zipper closures. There are a gazillion tutorials out there for such pillows, but I think this one is particularly good. Once you have the zipper down you can get creative with the pillow tops and backs.
I pieced some of the pillow tops with scraps from this quilt, and used a mix of home decorator weight fabrics to tie my more modern quilting aesthetic to the traditional lace window coverings that came with the house. The pink awning stripe, grey and white polka dot, and grey and white bold prints are all by Premier Prints, purchased from this Etsy shop. The grey and white rose patterns are the Rosmarie prints from IKEA. Pattern overload? Perhaps. But I love it, and I think that's what matters when sewing for oneself. What are you loving right now?

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First Sew

So it's the beginning of the year and every day is packed with "firsts" around here.  First cake of 2014! First snow day! First piano lesson! First stomach bug! First frozen pipe! And...drumroll please...first sew!!

Early mornings this week I have been stealing away to my new sewing space to have some fun before the rush begins. I have big crafty projects for 2014 swirling around in my head, but I'm going to ease into them. For now, I'm diving into piles of older knit prints, discarded knit pajamas, and these lovely soft organic rib knits.

Today I finished up these three tops for my baby girl. Like all babes, she hates having clothes put over her head, so I tried out some envelope tees from the book Growing Up Sew Liberated by Meg Mcelwee. In addition to the straightforward everyday projects in Meg's book, I really appreciated her section on sewing with knits. She tells us which thread is best, and even lets us know how she sets her sewing machine for the best knit stitch.  My necklines have never looked better! 

The envelope tee is an especially simple pattern, and I made all three tops in a total of about 4 hours, so they are a pretty quick sew. The only complaint I have is that envelope neck itself is a bit too big, and it gapes on my girl. Baby cleavage is NOT a good thing in my opinion, so my next batch of envelopes will be sealed a bit more tightly. That said, I chose to make the 12 month size for my 8 1/2 month old, so it may be my fault. 

All three tops are a little different. This floral number is the envelope tee made a bit longer into a tunic length.

This cloud shirt is the envelope tee pattern with a 2 1/2" square pocket added to the front, and a wonky hemline. I curved the front hem and extended the back hem, sewing the finished corner edges under 1/4" before sewing up the sides. It looks pretty cute stretched over a full baby belly. 

Finally, this third skirted cloud top is the envelope tee pattern shortened to just below the armpit, with a simple gathered skirt sewn to it. The lace overlay was already appliqued to a pajama top that my mom gave me on its way to the donate bin. Score!

 What's your first sew of 2014 going to be?


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12 Days of Christmas Guest Post - Latkes and Lederhosen


So I'm really excited to be guest posting over at Craftstorming today as part of the 12 Days of Christmas blog series hosted by Laura of Craftstorming and Suz of SewPony! This photo is a teaser for what you'll find if you click on the button below...

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Oh, and if you like what you see, please leave a comment over at Craftstorming or here on Counterpane.
Blogs are for sharing :)


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Finished Rosalie Quilt

So remember my Rosalie quilt top? I hope so, because I could not get this Rosalie out of my head for weeks after I posted about it. In fact, I've discovered that I am not good with unfinished sewing projects lying around. I currently have three books in progress on my nightstand, and it's very likely I will never finish reading two of them, but for some reason I could not bring myself to start the next quilt I have planned until this Rosalie was completed. Go figure!
From experience I know that I do not enjoy quilting quilts over 40" x 50" in size on my sewing machine, so I contacted Lindsay over at Eileen Quilts for help. Lindsay did such an amazing job on my Wonky Flying Geese Quilt, that I knew she was just the person to trust with these yards of treasured Kokka fabric. After much deliberation I could not decide between a bubble or shell quilting motif, so I asked Lindsay to choose for me. She went with shells, and I'm so glad she did. You can see how the curved shells soften the many pieced points. The shells create a feeling of movement for me, and I can almost imagine the little birds in the patterns taking flight.
For the quilt back, I used an old white 400 thread count cotton sheet. Why am I mentioning thread count? Because I want you to know just how super soft the sheet was - super soft/yummy soft/snuggly and perfect for a quilt back soft. Using a sheet as quilt back is a departure for me. Usually I piece my quilt backs with quilting cotton or linen. This quilt top is so very bright and busy however, that I craved some blank space for its reverse, and figured that a sheet was my least expensive and most practical option. I've always loved how solid colored and whole cloth quilts allow the quilting itself to shine. I know that I will be machine washing and drying this quilt often (it's meant for an 8 year old after all!) and I look forward to seeing how the crisp white back puckers, pulls, and fills in the sewn shells over time. 
The 1/4" binding is sewn with the always-appropriate-no-matter-what-the-pattern Honeycomb Dots print by Kei Fabric. I like the way it came out, but really struggled when sewing it on. It was just too narrow to machine or hand sew comfortably, and I've vowed that my next quilt will have a binding of at least 5/8". 
Now this quilt is ready for my girl, and I'm ready for my next sewing project. Hooray for us both!

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