Monday Morning Star Count – Water Bottle Cover


I finished something! I actually finished something!

It took me a couple weeks to find the time, but I created my insulated water bottle cover. I hand appliqued the strip of hexagons to the background piece, then spray basted the top to a layer of Insul-Bright. I echo quilted on either side of the hexies, then traced the flowers with FMQ (click the photo for a close-up).


I started quilting it late last Friday night. I planned to just get the quilting done. But I found that I wasn’t tired, so I kept going, reflecting at each step that I probably should stop and go to bed but not wanting to give up the momentum I’d gained. Before I knew it, it was midnight (super late for me), but I had a finished water bottle cover. I used it the following day, and it worked perfectly at keeping my ice water cold. Just like it should ­čÖé

It’s lined with PUL fabric to make it waterproof. I hope to make another cover for my son’s water bottle. I’ve never made a tutorial before, but I’ll see if I can get some action shots while creating his and make a tute.


Monday Morning Star Count (Hexie Style)

Well, it looks like 2 years(!) have gone by since I posted here. My last post was about EPP. I’m sad to admit that the sprocket quilt has been sitting largely untouched since then. Shortly after I posted about it, I got pregnant. I was working 2 jobs (seven days a week), still unpacking from our move to Ohio, exhausted, and nauseated. Any spare time was spent sleeping to escape from the morning sickness.Thankfully that passed. And I made an adorable little person!

Helping Mom hang the batting design wall (January 2015).

Since then he’s grown into a toddler!


The sewing room is currently off-limits for him since he can reach and eat all kinds of things. Someday maybe I’ll make it kid safe again.

Back to quilting… The nice thing about EPP is that it always waits for me, and my kit is always ready whenever I’d like to pick it up again. This summer I decided to make insulated water bottle covers for myself and the kid. We were at the zoo last week, and our ice-filled water bottles had melted within a few hours. I think he’ll get some kind of foundation pieced Spiderman bottle cover. I decided to accent my bottle cover with some hexagons. Even though it didn’t take much time to baste and piece 10 tiny hexies, it felt SO GOOD to be stitching again!


This week I hope to remove the templates, baste the string to the background piece, and then applique it. If I finish more than that, I’ll be very happy! Hopefully I’ll update here again next week with progress.

Monday Morning Sprocket Count

Hello, everyone! It’s been a long time…more than a year. I know I’ve taken breaks from this blog before, but this has been the longest one yet. I originally created this blog to share my overseas vet school adventures with my family since phone calls were expensive and I was unreliable about setting Skype dates. Once I moved back to the USA for clinical year, my blogging became more sparse. Phone calls were free again, I was living only 2 hours away from my family, and clinical year kept me very busy. My last few posts were about quilting projects that I created. That’s how I spend a lot of my free time now, so I’ve changed the header of my blog to reflect my new focus here. We’ll catch up on what’s happened in the past year another time. For now, I’d like to show you what I’ve been working on recently.

My wonderful friend Jessica introduced me to English paper piecing (EPP). It’s a technique of hand sewing smaller pieces of fabric into something amazing. With the help of Jess’ video and her inspiration, I started a project that I could hand sew while we traveled to and from South Africa in 2010. In this post you can see the diamond stars laying across the end of the couch. The stars became more than a travel project; I used them to unwind at the end of the day after over-using my brain studying. Three years later, I finished the stars, added borders, and basted it into a lap-size quilt. I’m currently hand quilting this project.

SAMSUNGI had hardly finished the portable phase of my stars before I jumped into another EPP project. Hello. My name is Becky, and I am an EPP addict. I have to have something to work with when I’m sitting still. I sew all the time on the subway. Lately I’ve been traveling a lot by plane, and I sew there too.

Columbus, OH airportNo, I’ve never accidentally poked a stranger with a sewing needle ­čÖé My new project is inspired by Christina, and she named the pattern sprocket.

sprocket quilt alongI’m having so much fun with this new project! Jess even captured some candid photos of me explaining EPP to some friends. She’s sneaky, that one. I plan to make the sprocket blocks into a queen-size quilt.

Now, on to the true nature of this post: the sprocket count. I’m hoping that sharing my progress will help keep me accountable.

Sprockets completed June 24, 2013: 8
Sprockets remaining: 73

Sprocket tallyIt takes me about 2.5-3 hours to complete a sprocket. Let’s NOT do the math to see how long it will take me, OK? I’m hoping to finish this project within a year or so. If you’re an EPPer or would like to be, come see what’s happening at the link up party over at Jessica’s blog today.

My Mom’s Christmas Gift

Wow, this post is long over-due. I was inspired by my friend Jessica, who yesterday posted about a Christmas pillow she made for her mom!

For Christmas 2011 I made my mom a hand-quilted gift. My local quilt shop was selling a pillow pattern they call “Texas Patch ‘Em”. Here’s a photo of their finished product:┬áImage

Immediately I thought of my mom. She loves this great State of Texas. My quilt shop has so many great Texas-type fabrics – cowboy stuff, wildflowers, bandanas, etc. I sorted through the fat quarters and picked out a nice assortment for the pillow top.

I photo-copied the pattern before getting started. The more I stared at the enclosed shape of Texas, the more I realized that I wasn’t happy with it. Maybe it had smooth edges to make it easier to sew. Maybe it was just the artist’s interpretation. Whatever the reason, it just wouldn’t do for me. For those of you who aren’t so intimately familiar with the shape of Texas, he’s how it normally looks. Image

So I made some minor adjustments to the pattern. The pillow-top flew together.


I traced my pattern on a piece of Steam-A-Seam Lite, and pressed it onto the back of my pieced squares. After cutting on the lines, I pressed my Texas-shaped patchwork onto the background fabric. I played around with some scraps left from cutting. I wanted to see whether the edges would fray or peel up over time. I pressed these patch-work scraps onto some background scraps. Yep, it looks like they might fray a little. I tried another piece with some Fray Block. OK, it looked like I had the fraying under control, but it might peel up over time. Time to add some decorative stitching! I used more scraps to play with stitches: narrow blanket stitch, wide blanket stitch, stem stitch, overcast stitch (I kept wanting to call it simple continuous, which is the medical term for that pattern). I left the pieces out for a few days, and eventually decided on the overcast stitch in #8 pearl cotton.

This was the first time that I had pieced batting, because I didn’t have any pieces that were big enough without cutting into a new package, and I hated to cut into a big piece for a 16″x16″ square. I did some reading online, and boy are there a lot of different opinions on the “right” and “wrong” way to piece batting! In the end, I zig-zagged them together by machine, making sure the edges didn’t overlap, just butted against each other. When it’s inside the quilt sandwich, I can’t feel where the seams are!

All this was happening during my Radiology rotation. I was on Large Animal Radiology for the first week. LA rad is known to be quite slow. Most days we shot rads (x-rays) on one or two horses. So there was plenty of time to sit around and sew. I hand-quilted the pillow top in white #8 pearl cotton. I have to say that I love the look of the heavy thread, but I had a hard time working with it. I tried a larger needle to make a bigger hole to pull the thread through, so I would have less thread-drag. I tried a smaller needle, so I would have less needle drag. I tried with and without Thread Heaven. It still took a lot of effort! I probably should have contacted my friend Jessica, since she has numerous projects hand quilted with pearl cotton.

Did you know that if you get blood on a white sewing project, you can remove the stain by immediately treating with hydrogen peroxide then soaking it in Oxi-Clean when you get home? Yep, it works! I ended up hand washing the entire top with Oxi-Clean when I was done.

I used a colorful bluebonnet fabric for the back of the pillow (the bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas) with a simple flap closure.ImagePin much?

I made French seams on this pillow cover. I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t unravel or fray if washed.

Next time I think I’ll make the seams on the outside. Afterwards, I realized that they would have made a nice accent. Oh well. I was much too lazy to pull out all the stitches.

I’m quite pleased with my finished product! Image

And my mom seems to like it too! Image

Annalycia’s Baby Quilt

When one of our classmates from Ross announced that she and her husband were expecting a baby, I knew that I wanted to make a quilt for her baby. However, this announcement came during 7th semester – our last semester on St. Kitts – which was a very busy time. Although I could have purchased fabric online and had it shipped to the island, I knew that I’d have little time for quilting. So I daydreamed about quilt designs and waited until we moved back to the USA in May 2011. I settled on [this design by…] and dove right in.

This was my first attempt at paper piecing. I photocopied the designs onto regular printer paper, then roughly cut out the shape of each unit. It took some trial and error for me to figure out how to cut fabric pieces that would flip over nicely to cover the desired area. Eventually, I started mass producing the smaller units. I took my time with this. I didn’t worry about how long it was taking. After all, the baby was due in September.

Next I assembled my blocks from the smaller units. I love the precision I can achieve by pinning through the matching points on the paper pattern!

I wanted to press my seams, but first I needed to remove some paper from the finsihed seams. This was extremely tedious. I put the blocks on a lap desk, and I sat in front of the TV. I had trouble ripping out paper from between the seams, so I dug through my medical instruments and pulled out some thumb forceps. Eventually I worked out a system to make it go a little bit faster. Still, this took a LOT longer than I had planned and now there were little bits of paper all over the house too. I sewed all the blocks together to complete the quilt top. Except that it wasn’t complete because I had to rip the paper out of the seams that I’d just sewn. I spent more time in front of the TV. At least ripping out the large pieces of paper behind the main fabric piecs went a lot faster.

Finally, I could press the quilt top and assemble my sandwich. I used a fuzzy purple flannel for the backing.

Sometimes it’s difficult for me to convey the passage of time when I’m telling a story. By then, it was September and the baby had been born! I was a little late, but at least I could add her name to the quilt label. I ended up quilting it in a simple diagonal grid in a purple thread that matched the dark purple fabric on the front. I used Mettler 50 weight 2 ply cotton thread in the top and bobbin.

While I kind of wish I’d taken the time to do a more intricate, pretty pattern, I was also out of time. I wanted to get the quilt to Annalycia and I needed to start studying for my national veterinary board exam.

With each quilting project that I undertake, I learn more about myself as a quilter. I learn about what skills I’m capable of, what skills I could probably do well if I practice, and also what type of sewing/quilting methods I enjoy. After this project, I can say that I do not enjoy paper piecing. Wait, let me revise that: I don’t like paper piecing on regular weight printer paper. I also learned that I prefer a lighter color quilting thread that matches the lighter fabrics and will sometimes cross dark fabrics, vs. a darker thread matching the darker fabrics that occasionally crosses the lighter fabrics.

All in all, I’m happy with the finished result, and the recipient likes it too!

The Small Animal Emergency Day Shift (and a bit about how the small animal hospital works)

My day starts before dawn. I need to be inside and ready to go by 6:00 AM.

6:00 AM:┬á The hospital hallways are darkened. The ICU and ER have only half their lights on so the patients can sleep better. The hospital is mostly quiet at this hour. Only the overnight crew is here – a few doctors, 4 or 5┬átechnicians (nurses), and sometimes some janitors. Their soft conversations are punctuated by blips and beeps from the vital sign┬ámonitors. I’m in the ER doing 6 AM checks on patients that came in overnight and are waiting to be transferred to their respective services in the day time. I help with any treatments they may need. Then I wait. Perhaps someone woke up to find their pet unwell. Perhaps no one will come in for hours.

7:00 AM:┬á The lights are on and the ICU is very busy now. Fourth year (senior) veterinary students have arrived and have started to check in on their patients that have spent the night in ICU. The students must read over the notes left by the overnight technicians; do a full physical exam of their patient; create new orders for IV fluids, drugs, and treatments; write up their findings on the patient’s ICU sheet and on the computer; AND find their supervising doctor to discuss all this…by 8:00 AM. While the ICU is bustling, the ER is still quiet. We’re in our own little world here.

7:45 AM:┬á There are a few students still in ICU, rushing to finish the morning’s tasks before their rounds begin. Some people are running to the scale down the hall to get an updated daily weight for their patient if they forgot to weigh them earlier (which I often do).

8:00 AM:┬á The morning hour of madness has passed. The hallways are quiet because all the students are in rounds (small group discussions). Nothing changes in the ER. We see emergency patients or we round with our doctor or we sit around. I’ve started bringing craft projects to make the time go by faster.

8:30 AM:┬á Owners and their pets start to arrive in the waiting room. The front desk staff is busying checking in everyone, getting appropriate papers signed, and generally making the students’ lives easier by organizing everything.

9:00 AM:┬á Dedicated rounds time is over and the phones in the rounds rooms start to ring. The front desk calls to let each service know when their patients have arrived. The ER shares a workspace with the Primary Care rotation. Primary Care sees patients just like a regular non-emergency vet’s office would. The PC students are busy seeing their first patients of the day too. If things are slow, I’ll play with the puppies or kittens that are coming in for their first wellness exams.

10:00 AM-12:00 PM:  PC rolls right along, seeing many patients. ER may be busy or not (usually not). The shared workspace can get quite busy and noisy.

12:00 PM:  The PC students leave for lunchtime rounds and to volunteer at the local animal shelter in the afternoon. The workspace is oddly, but wonderfully, quiet.

4:00 PM:┬á The evening shift ER students arrive. We have two hours of overlap to get through the busy (or not) early evening rush. This overlap also allows the day students to brief the night students on any patients that will be in their care overnight. The next two hours can pass in the blink of an eye if we’re busy. If we’re slow, it feels like I’ve been through another day all over again.

The regular routine and rhythm of the rest of the hospital help me know what time of day it is. Otherwise, I have no idea whether it’s light outside or not. I’m in the ER bubble, in the middle of the hospital, in a land with no windows.

The night ends when I’m dismissed by a doctor. Sometimes they’re so busy that they don’t notice that the day crew has been on for 13 or 14 hours instead of 12. Sometimes, though, we’re actually let out on time. I would love to go home and get things done around the house or work on a sewing project. Instead I usually flop on the couch. At some point I’ll make sure I have clean scrubs and lab coats for tomorrow and pack my lunch for the next day. Then I set my alarm for 4:30 AM (ugh) and sleep so I can do it all again tomorrow.