How to turn your dresser top into an ironing board

I happened upon a tutorial from a few years ago where Elizabeth at Oh, Fransson converted a fold-up tv tray into a pressing board.  In the post, she mentioned wanting to use this technique to make a pressing board out of the top of an IKEA dresser before it was put together.  It just so happened that I had a planned trip to IKEA the next week.  And my planned purchase for that trip was a storage solution for in progress sewing projects.  This idea was prefect!

Go read the tutorial for technical details, but I’m going to tell you how my dresser top became a pressing board.

I started out by putting together the dresser front and sides, but left off the top and back.  I also assembled the drawers.  (My assistant is not particularly helpful.)

I then focused on the dresser top.  This is the piece that would become my pressing board.

On the back, there are two holes on each corner, which attach the dresser top to the dresser.  Notice how the set of holes nearer the top of this photo are a couple inches away from the edge of the top piece?  This dresser has a little lip on the front.  This detail will become important in a minute.

I followed the directions in the Oh, Fransson tutorial to put the pressing board together.

I used a piece of 100% cotton home decor weight fabric for the top and 3 layers of 100% cotton quilt batting to give the pressing board a little bit of cushion.  I cut the batting just slightly larger than the dresser top and the home dec fabric a couple inches larger all the way around.  Then I pulled the fabric tight and secured it to the bottom of the dresser piece with a staple gun.

I was careful not to put staples in or right next to the holes where my hardware to finish assembling the dresser had to go.  When I was ready to finish assembling the dresser, I took my seam ripper and made a little hole in the fabric to correspond with the hole for the dresser attachment pieces.

Here’s where that dresser lip becomes important.  I failed to recognize that it was there, so I didn’t cut my fabric longer on the front side.  As a result, when I put the dresser together, the edge of the fabric did not tuck seamlessly under the dresser top where it couldn’t be seen.  It’s likely that no one would have ever noticed this edge under the front lip of my dresser/pressing board, but it bothered me enough to fix it.

I thought I could just attach a strip of fabric that was long enough to cover the edge and tuck under the top piece of the dresser when it was assembled.

It looks nice enough in the picture below, but with that extra fabric, I couldn’t get a snug enough fit between the main part of the dresser and the dresser top.  I ended up taking out all the staples and using a larger piece of fabric.

I’m thrilled with the end result.  It will be great to have this little dresser next to me when I want to easily iron quilt pieces during a project without getting up to go to the ironing board.

And the drawers are just what I had in mind to store projects I’m working on.

Just housing around

I’m in a Flickr group called Bee a {Modern} Swapper.  Every other month, one of our 6 group members get to request a block from the other 5 members.  We each make 2 quilt blocks, and the recipient receives 10 quilt blocks in the mail.  These are the ladies who made my lovely tree blocks when it was my turn at Queen Bee.

This month, Ann requested house blocks.  In our discussion, trying to get some clarification, I asked:

“Must it be a house, or could it be, say, an apartment building? A dog house? A teepee? A yurt?”

My friend Kim responded, “I would LOVE to see a yurt!!!!!!

I hadn’t heard back from Ann about whether she preferred a more traditional house, and with that many exclamation points, I just had to step up to Kim’s yurt challenge (even though it was my suggestion, I’m not sure I was serious until Kim responded).

So, I made a quilt block yurt!  I must say that this is definitely a first for me!

I cannot tell you how much this entire process has amused me.  I giggled while I was making it: “Hee hee, a quilt block yurt.”  Perhaps Likely, I’m just easily amused.

I also made a country house with a tree in the yard.

And some city houses in a row.

While I only had to make two blocks for Ann, she gets three: two house quilt blocks, and a bonus yurt block.

And now I’m thinking: wouldn’t be fun to make a quilt where each block is a different type of dwelling?  Tee-pee, camper, igloo, etc …

FINISHING something new

I’m so happy to have progressed all the way through trying something new to actually finishing something new.

The result of my first ever attempt at embroidery, the hoop I made for the Bee a {Modern} Swapper swap was sent off in the mail early this week.  It took me most of the month to actually finish it, but much of that was simply because I was having a stare-down with the partially completed hoop, not progressing only because I hadn’t done it before.  Once I actually achieved some forward momentum, it actually went pretty smoothly with just a few snafus that resulted in me cutting out my stitches and starting again.

The first part went pretty well because it was essentially quilting at the base, and I’ve done that before.  I traced the inside of my hoop and drew a hexagon.  I divided it so that I was left with six triangles, what I’m calling a split hexagon.

I used osnaburg for the base because it has a nice, natural color and a slightly nubby texture that I thought would work great with the bright colors I used for the triangles.

I matched a similarly colored embroidery floss with each of the triangles and this is where my project sat for a couple week.  I was paralyzed by what I didn’t know how to do next.  I got a tremendous amount of help from the embroidery picture tutorials at Rocksea when I finally started hand stitching.

I started out with a very basic running stitch around each of the triangles.  Above each triangle, I added a lazy daisy with 6 petals.  I wanted to use some French knots in the center and this is where things went awry.  My French knots were all weird and messy looking and coming out cleanly at all.  Frustrating.  I debated whether just to make it work, but eventually, cut them all out, reviewed the French knot tutorial, and tried again.

Much better!

Next up: leaves.  I decided to try a raised fishbone stitch, which resulted in a cute, fat little leaf on each side of my flowers.

To finish off the design, I drew some freehand swirls with my disappearing ink pen on each side of my flowers and used a back stitch to go over them in the color of the adjacent triangle.

Here, you can see all the stitches that I used for this project.

I finished the back with a piece of cardboard covered with batting and fabric.

Hope my partner likes it; I really put a lot of effort into this one!

Trial and ERROR (and error) and try again!

I’ve been teaching myself some embroidery for that hoopie swap I’m doing.  One of my fellow hoopie swappers linked to this great online source for embroidery stitches, which has been incredibly helpful.

I started out by making that paper pieced split hexagon in six different colors and had embroidery floss to coordinate with each one.  Then it was time to start the embroidery.  And the project just sat there staring at me for well over a week without being touched because … well, I was scared of messing it up.  This was totally new for me!!

Finally, I decided I might as well just give it a go.  The thing certainly wasn’t going to stitch itself.  I started out by just outlining each triangle of the split hexagon with a basic straight stitch.  It’s pretty difficult to screw that one up, and it looked pretty cute, so it gave me a little confidence.

Then I decided to create a little flower above each triangle using a chain stitch called the lazy daisy.  Not too tough, and really cute.  I’m feeling like I actually might be getting the hang of this!

I wanted a little something extra in the center of my flowers, so I thought I would move on and try a french knot.  And here is where things got a little dicey.

The first one actually seemed to work out okay, but I wrapped the thread around the needle too many times, so the knot ended up sticking out too much and looking a little bit phallic.  Eep!

The next two attempts, I wrapped the thread 3 times around the needle, but realize now that I had wrapped too far up the thread.  When I inserted the needle back into the fabric, it resulted in this weird knotting thing with loose threads sticking out.  I tried to remedy the situation by just stitching over it a few times.  Bad idea.  It looked a mess!

Finally, I went back and reviewed the French knot directions one more time.  And the 4th attempt was a success!  Hooray!

I let the project sit for awhile, trying to decide if I was going to redo it or just let it go.  But ultimately, I cut out the three unsuccessful flowers and started over.  I got more practice at that lazy daisy stitch, too, because when I cut out the center knots, I also had to cut out the flowers since they were connected.  Boo hoo.  But I’m much happier with the second attempt.

Be Free Bees May addition + the process pledge

For the month of May in my Free Form Robin, I’m working on Bernie‘s quilt.

Unlike Thea’s quilt in April, when I really struggled to find some inspiration for my addition (never fear, I’m really happy with how it turned out), I had ideas about this one before I even had it in my hands.  I had seen photos of it in our Flickr group and had already begun thinking about what I could add.

This is how the project looked when it arrived at my door.

I wanted to mimic that horseshoe shape across the entire end of the piece, but face it in the opposite direction from the one that is already there.  And I wanted to incorporate something similar to that pieces star that Bernie used for her starter piece.

And here is where things get tricky.  If your eyes start to glaze over when I talk about geometry, just skip down past the next photo!  The original piece is an octagon, and thus the angles are 135°.  However, because of the way the additions were incorporated beyond the original octagon, it made the most sense to add a piece that had just 3 sides (rather than the 4 that would be 1/2 of the octagon).  This meant that the center point of my addition was not an equal distance from all the edges.  In order to fill the space in a manner that makes the points look cohesive, each point had to be individually measured and drawn.  Phew!

I started by drawing one half of my shape.  When I paper piece this, I will cut this portion into four segments.

I’ve already pulled fabric and labeled where each will go.  It like the quilting version of color-by-number but with fabric instead of colors!

The other side mirrors the first.  It was easier to do this than to individually draw each of the points on the other side.  I taped my original drawing to a window, face down, and then taped another pieces of freezer paper on top and traced.

Here is the quilt with my paper addition.

I know it’s tough to picture without the colors, but the whole quilt will look something like this when my addition is complete.

These are the fabrics I’m planning to use.  The background is Kona Ash, which is a very light gray.  Bernie had included some of her original white-on-white batik with the quilt, but it was put to good use in the previous addition, and I didn’t think there would be enough left for my purposes.  A solid white was too much of a start contrast, so I settled on this gray.  The others are all batiks to keep with the original fabrics, as well as the additions.  The green and yellow were included from the addition of the first horseshoe border and the others are mine that I already had.

I’m really looking forward to completing this.

Also, since I’ve already posted several times about the process I go through when creating, I decided it’s high time I take the process pledge!

I, Em, at Sewing by Moonlight, pledge to talk more about my processes, even when I can’t quite put them in the in words or be sure I’m being totally clear.   I’m going to put my thinking and my gut feelings out there.

Be Free Bees: April addition for Thea

Remember when you were a kid and you got to have Show and Tell on Friday?  Wasn’t that the best?!  Well, when you are a grown-up, and you sew, you can have Sew and Tell on Friday, hosted by Amy at Amy Lou Who.

Now, I know it’s not Friday, but I already mentioned that my yesterday was filled to the brim with track and only track, so here I am, on Saturday, and the (no longer a) baby is asleep on my arm, but I don’t want to move her and risk waking her before I type this up.  Phew!

I finished my April addition for Thea in my free form quilting robin.  I mentioned on Wednesday that I had finished it, but I couldn’t consider it truly finished until it was in the mail on the way to its next stop.  (Getting it in the mail tends to hold me up sometimes!)  I’m happy to report that it is packaged up and on the way to Indiana!

Here is what arrived in the mail early in the month:

Thea’s starter pieces was the dresden in the middle.  The first addition was the green and turquoise background to the dresden, and the second addition was the border with the drunkard’s path blocks and the white rectangles.

I must admit that this project really stumped me.  It has a lovely, understated color palette and uses a lot of batik prints.  It’s pretty, but well outside what I usually tend toward stylistically.  I took it out and just stared at 3 or 4 different times before I started finally pulling fabrics to use.  And after that, I still wasn’t sure of the design.  Here’s what I ended up with:

My first plan was to use the white space as sort of a “blank canvas” and do some appliqué: circles of random sizes, perhaps, or flowers.  Then I considered creating a patchwork strip and cutting away some of the white along one side in a serpentine so that I attached the patchwork following a curved seam.

Ultimately, I decided that I should probably not overcomplicate it.  There was already a lot going on with the curves and the various batiks, so I took things “back to basics” by constructing some log cabin blocks and incorporating some solids.

I started with the flower print in the middle of the large log cabins.  The flowers tie into the curves that are already present, and the color was a nice compliment.  I alternated solid and print fabrics in the log cabin blocks, constructing them with warm colors on one side and cool colors on the other.  The two large log cabin oppose each other in this pattern.

Along one side, I made three small log cabin blocks, adding additional borders between them to get the length I needed.

When I sent the package off, I included some strips of the solids I used so that they may be used in future rounds before the final quilt makes its way back to Thea.  I’m happy with how it turned out.  I hope Thea is too.


Pink Castle Fabrics Bundle Contest

Back in January, one of my first posts on this little blog was a fat quarter bundle I created for a contested hosted by the Fat Quarter Shop and Kokka Quilts.

While my fabric bundle didn’t catch the eye of the judges, I still enjoyed the process of looking through the fabric at that shop and picking out a selection that appealed to me.

Now, there is a similar contest hosted by Katy at I’m a Ginger Monkey and sponsored by Pink Castle Fabrics.

This time around, I was inspired by this living room I pinned on Pinterest awhile back.  I just love the contrast of the dark purple and yellow grounded by bits of green and gray.

I struggled with creating this fabric bundle a bit because I wanted to build it around a focal print, but I couldn’t really find anything that was co-dominated by my color choices.  Instead, I chose a solid in each color from the palette and then filled in with co-ordinating prints, trying to be conscious of including a range of tones within the color choices.  Admittedly, pairing purple with yellow might be a bold choice, but I think these would make a fantastic, vibrant quilt.

Purples: Free Spirit grape/Moda ditzy daisies/Joel Dewberry Aviary2;
Yellows: Free Spirit saffron/Michael Miller ta dot sunny/Heather Bailey Bijoux;
Greens: Kona cactus/Riley Blake fly a kite dot green/MM vintage ironwork leaf;
Grays: Free Spirit nugray/Moda cross weave gray/Lotta Jansdotter small spring buds


My creative process

The free form quilt bee in which I’m currently participating is great for working on my creativity.  Because the whole idea of this group project is “anything goes,” it’s a great exercise to really allow myself to explore creatively through fabric.  This is only month 3 of 8 and I’m already having a great time with this project.

For the month of March, I have Nichol‘s quilt to add to.  I thought I’d take you through what’s been going on in my mind as I work on her addition.

Here is what arrived in the mail:

Part of this group project is a project journal.  We each included a small journal with our starter block and the intention is that each person who works on this quilt will share a little something about her process, what she added, what inspired her about the quilt.  This is what I wrote in Nichol’s journal:

First impressions: the quilt looks really “fresh.”  I think the yellow + green additions really amplify that.  I’m tuning in to the theme of curves a little bit: the arch of the butterflies’ wings, the little circles in the first fram around the center butterfly, the centers of the flowers, the bicycles tires.  Not to mention Bernie’s lovely curved addition to your project.  

Perhaps 3 quarters of a circle around one of the corners, some circle appliqués along the side … 

My first step was to pull some fabric out of my stash that I thought would coordinate with this project.  When working on something like this, that also sometimes means purchasing a little bit of fabric if there’s something I think is missing.  In this case, though, I had everything on hand.

When I was thinking about circles, I thought perhaps some sort of arch would be a nice addition.  I had Katie‘s mini quilt in the back of mind.  Then I decided to try a New York Beauty block.  There has been a lot of recent chatter in the blogging-quilting community recently about a New York Beauty quilt along (every one makes a block, with a different blogger hosting a new block each week) and I was definitely inspired by a few different blog posts relating to those blocks.

The New York beauty blocks are paper pieced and thus a touch more difficult/time consuming than a “normal” quilt block (that’s relative, of course), so I originally thought I would just do one in one of the corner and then complete my addition along two sides with something a little easier to construct.

Then, I thought perhaps I would do three New York Beauty blocks to surround one corner.

Then I got sort of carried away as I was cutting them out and ended up with the pieces for eight!  Hmmm … so, I suppose this idea has evolved into all New York Beauty blocks along two sides.

I have completed 4 of these lovlies so far.  So, I’m already half way finished with my goal number.  I did stay up until after midnight last night finishing “just one more,” though.  Oops.

I’m a little bit in love with how they look all together as a completed circle and I will have to keep these blocks in my mind for something for myself or another project in the future.

As for the addition to Nichol’s quilt, it’s looking like this so far.

I think I might add a solid border before I add the New York beauty blocks.  What do you think?  Border or no?  Two sides or all the way ’round?


I’m not usually one for making New Years Resolutions.  I sort of feel like if you want to make a change, you should just get started.  Why wait until tomorrow or the beginning of next week, or the New Year?  Just get going!  Start now.

This year, however, one of my primary goals seems to be gaining the tiniest bit of momentum just as the date on the calendar is flipping over.

I want to start a business.  I want to create and sell things I make from fabric.

This is a goal I have had for some time.  I spent significant time and took many steps in that direction over two years ago.  At the time, it just didn’t pan out.  So, I’ve regrouped, and I’m hoping for better results this time.  Time will tell.

The plan is for this space to be the home of my sewing, quilting and crafting endeavors.  I hope to share my creations, write tutorials, talk about fabric, design, sewing, creating, and similar subjects, and have a place to interact with other interested folks.  By the end of February, I plan to have an associated online shop on up and running.  Please, come and join me on the journey.