Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A new stocking for the newest family member!

When I made our family holiday stockings a few years ago, Lorelei was most definitely not part of the equation, so fast forward to this year and at fleeting moments throughout her first year, I've thought of how she'd need a stocking, but over the last two weeks, that need became super pressing. We're one of those families that does our Christmas decorating the days after Thanksgiving, often on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but this year, I was truly worried the stocking issue would keep us from it! That and the Gilmore Girls revival release at 3am that very Friday (which of course was just about equally as important!).

But somehow, I finished up a stocking for sweet Lorelei, and managed to watch the Gilmore Girls Netflix revival (no spoilers ahead, I promise!), and our family decorating tradition is still holding strong. Phew.

I realized when I hung the stockings that Lorelei's stocking is fairly matching, save for two things - the embroidery thread is different (white-white instead of off-white, darn it!) and then I managed to introduce mint to the color palette, but it works, I think, so I'm not going to go and restitch, that's for sure!

Oh! And this year, the stockings are hung differently! When the husband saw what 3M Command hooks cost (this is precisely why you shouldn't take husbands to Target), we re-thought things for something we didn't have to keep re-buying year over year, so this is a fun set of lights from Target, a shower rod in bronze from Amazon, and shower hooks, plus various Christmas decorations I've gathered over the years (some new, some old). And one day, I'll have a real fireplace and mantel to hang the stockings on. Just not in Florida.

What are you stitching up for the holidays? I'm finishing up some fun hand-stitched gifts, which you can follow along with some sneak peeks on Instagram @dontcallmebetsy and I'll post the finished makes as soon as the receivers open them! Happy holiday stitching everyone :)
Friday, November 18, 2016

Stitching with Lorelai - You've Been Gilmored

Next week promises to be a really good week. Not only will it be Thanksgiving, but it's going to be the week where the Gilmore Girls releases four new episodes, "A Year in the Life," with each episode showing us a season in the life of the Gilmore Girls, now that it's been nine years since we last saw them. Admittedly, they never left my life. It's been one of my favorite shows of all-time, and constantly a show that I watch (or listen to) while working or sewing. It's the kind of show that you can enjoy just listening to, because the dialogue is so sparkling, or you can get the full experience and watch and listen too. All that to say, if what I've said so far sounds like a foreign language, you've got some time left before the "new" season pops up on Netflix next week, so you could totally start catching up...

And while you catch up, or while you watch the new episodes, why don't you stitch up a little something? I've got a fun little cross-stitch pattern you can make! Download your You've Been Gilmored tutorial right here :)

You've Been Gilmored happens to be both a great quote from the series and an episode title from Season 6, when Emily and Richard (Lorelai's parents) try to get to know Lorelai's beau, Luke, better, and in the process, Luke and Lorelai find themselves pummeled by the elder Gilmores. They leave dinner in a daze, worrying about insurance and real estate and con men, until Lorelai coms to her senses and says "You've been Gilmored!" She tells Luke that this is what the Gilmores do best, mess with your head, and it's precisely on point, it's one of the things they frequently do throughout the years of the show, so it's why I picked the phrase. It's totally evocative of the show, of the rapid-fire dialogue and spit-fire relationship between Lorelai and Emily, which is often one of the best parts of the show.

For the record, I used a few Cosmo thread colors, but you could use whatever floats your boat! I used a Seasons ombre blue, color 910, with two shades of pink for the flowers, and black for the block letters at the top.

Never cross-stitched before? No worries, here's a super simple basic tutorial you can use!

You can check out the other Stitching with Lorelei tutorials right here:
May Chappell will have a bonus one tomorrow too!

Stitch something up? I'd love to see it! Tag it on social media with #stitchingwithlorelai and #dontcallmebetsy and I'll be sure to check it out! Have a great weekend everyone :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A stitchy reminder I really needed and other random updates

Sometimes I'm guilty of not saying "No" often enough - whether it's to my kids, or to friends, or in a million other ways. I like to help people, sometimes too much so, so when I saw this awesome cross-stitch pattern on Etsy for the word "Nope," I knew it was the perfect reminder for me to use the word more often. It kind of took forever, but that's one of the things I love about cross-stitch - I can do a bit here and there, and kind of everywhere, literally, because I can take it wherever with me. It's been to Cleveland to the set of Fresh Quilting, it's been to the park, it's been to the school carline, it's definitely accrued some mileage! And now it's done, and gracing my desk :)

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My other big project lately involves this ginormous stack of AMH charm squares I cut when I realized to was time to stop just collecting my favorite fabrics and start actually using them. So I rounded up all my Anna Maria Horner fabrics and just started cutting into 5" squares. My good friend Lee convinced me that rather than just straight up rows of patchwork that I ought to go with on-point patchwork, and I'm glad I did, because it looks real pretty so far. Still quite a ways to go, though...

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Speaking of Lee, she's hosting a really fun and simple stitch-along this week called Stitching with Lorelai to help celebrate the return of the Gilmore Girls next week to Netflix with their four new episodes/mini-series/reasons to stay up late Thanksgiving night/whatever-you-want-to-call-them. I've been a Gilmore Girls fan since day 1, and I'm super excited to share a simple cross-stitch tutorial on Friday for a Gilmore-themed stitching you can do while bingeing your way through the series if you've never watched before (gasp!) or if you need a refresher. Head over to May Chappell to get the details on the first tutorial and the subsequent tutorials for the rest of this week!

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In other news, my Lorelei is growing way too fast, she's crawling everywhere at the speed of Cookie Monster racing for the world's last cookie, and she's peek-a-boo'ing like a pro, all the time. She's constantly trying to help me while I work (which is hilarious and not all at the same time), and is working on her fifth tooth. I cannot believe she's nearly eleven months old already. Hope you all are doing well, and thank you for tolerating my all-too random blog posts as of late. Between working full time and chasing this one around and mothering the nearly nine year old kiddo (eek!), life feels very full these days.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Lorelei's Building Block Dress Adventure

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When I heard about Liesl Gibson's new Building Block Dress book, I was super excited to see it. Not only has she chosen to self-publish it, but the book itself is like having a garment teacher in your sewing room. Your very own Liesl Gibson, if you will. Liesl's Oliver + S patterns are some of the first modern garment sewing patterns I first noticed when I first started quilting that made me think to myself, hey, maybe I should try sewing garments!

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The Building Block Dress book is focused on the art of learning a simple dress, the Building Block Dress, and then learning a zillion ways to alter or customize it, to make it in a bunch of different ways, essentially giving you a ton of new skills along the way. I look forward to spending more time with this book because I know I am going to learn ever so much from it!!! There's custom sleeves, different skirt options, pockets, necklines, you name it. Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? It's like that, but with garment patterns, in sizes from 6 months all the way up through size 12. For a beginning seamstress like me, it's a little overwhelming to start from, but at the same time, it's super exciting because I know it's the kind of book I'll come back to over and over again. In fact, I need to take it to my local UPS Store to get the binding cut off so I can have them spiralize it!

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Download your own planning sheet right here!

I started off planning to make a sleeveless tunic for my daughter, Lorelei, who's now nine months old and crawling up a storm. I still love putting her in dresses, but she seems to get kind of irritated by them lately, because they get caught under her knees. Measuring her to figure out how long I could make a tunic however, proved to be easier said than done so what I thought could be a tunic, really wound up being a dress. For that same reason, I also didn't quite follow Liesl's advice about making a muslin - though I think maybe next time, or maybe when she stops growing so quickly, I will go that route. I definitely can see why that would be wise.

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While not everything went exactly as planned in making this dress, partly because I managed to slam my thumb in a car door (for the record, it's my right thumb, not shown above, and you're welcome for that!) and it severely changed my hand's normal mobility, I'm still super proud that I made this dress. I love that I sewed a bias neckline. I love that I shortened the bodice and skirt of the dress without fear. I love that my dress is unique, and is a mish-mash of many different techniques in the book. I think it looks adorable and I can't wait to plan out my next Building Block dress.

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You can check out all things Oliver + S, including their fantastic patterns, great videos and tutorials and so forth on their website right here. And best of all, you can find the new book right here.

Have a wonderful week everyone, and hopefully once my thumb heals, I can manage to sneak into my sewing room to sew up another Building Blocks dress, or do some more fun cross-stitching. :)

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A place for everything, and everything in its place

Oh my, it's been an embarrassingly long time since my last post. Sorry about that, friends. Summer is so crazy around here, but thankfully school is back in session - well sort of, school was off for the last several days thanks to Hurricane Hermine but the kiddo goes back today after yesterday's planned Labor Day holiday, so here's hoping a regular routine can get underway. Because if you've read my blog for any period of time, I think you probably have figured out that I'm just a smidgen Type A and that routines are my jam.

Elizabeth Dackson Sewing Room

You know what else puts a smile on my face? Organizing things. Even things I don't like very much, like the Legos I frequently step on in my son's room, but I digress, because I spent much of the holiday weekend organizing something I like very much, my sewing room. Sadly I didn't think to take a real before shot, but suffice it to say, there were piles everywhere.

Elizabeth Dackson Sewing Room

Piles of fabric, piles of items for Mom's Secret Closet of Goodies (which happens to also be my sewing room closet), piles of baby toys to entertain the baby when she comes in to sew with me, piles of random things that apparently got deposited in my sewing room for some mysterious reason, you get the idea. It was a disaster zone. And it was driving me crazy.

Elizabeth Dackson Sewing RoomElizabeth Dackson Sewing Room

I know there are loads of creative folk who thrive on chaos, and messes, and I love them, but I'm not one of them. The mess was totally zapping my sewjo. So I started going through the mess Saturday morning before the kids got up and kept chipping away at it bit by bit throughout the holiday weekend.

Elizabeth Dackson Sewing Room

I stumbled upon an awesome deal at Michael's on Labor Day for craft storage items, and I went to town, stocking up on bins and organize-y items, and got to work. Put on my headphones, listened to some good tunes, and just went through things. I even managed to come across my first ever cross-stitching, which I did with my mom when I was eight.

Elizabeth Dackson Sewing Room

Now if only I had another long weekend to sew up that quilt top that's all ready to go on my design wall! It'll have to wait until next weekend :) Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elizabeth Dackson Sewing Room

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hello dry spell!

The dog days of summer are fully upon us - and for me, that means very little sewing time. Summertime is typically pretty busy with my work for the MQG, and with my older munchkin home from school and now a second kiddo for the first time also home in the summer, it's been interesting to say the least. Needless to say, I've spent maybe 20 minutes in my sewing room over the past month, and it was to tidy up the crazy mess of new fabrics I seem to have accumulated over the last month.

Summer's more than half over here already - the kids return to school in a mere four weeks - and I'm hoping to get a better balance going to get me at least a smidgen of summer sewing in. I figured I'd start small - I picked up a little cross-stitch project to hopefully wind up with a quick finish. It's a cute little pair of foxes, but all I've managed to stitch thus far is part of the frame, so it doesn't look like much yet.
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In the meantime, since I have no pretty pretty project pictures to show you, I can at least show you how big Lorelei is getting - she's six months old now and determined to get the hang of this walking business like right now. She's babbling and vocalizing a lot, and she's got two teeth thus far. Her feet are ticklish, and she loves to pet the dogs. She'd also really like to ride them! She cracks me up, and we all love her to pieces. Here's hoping she and I can spend some more time in my sewing room this week! Have a wonderful week everyone :)

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016


The last several days have been awfully challenging to be a citizen of this world, let alone a citizen in Florida. Like so many of you, the recent Orlando tragedy has both shocked and saddened me, but I am proud to see that the quilters of the Orlando MQG are banding together to try to bring comfort to those affected by this tragedy, the best way we know how: quilts.

The Orlando MQG is collecting heart blocks and quilts of heart blocks for the victims, victims' families and first responders. There's a very simple heart block tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew you can use right here, or if you're not a fan of stitching and flipping you can download my new free heart paper piecing templates right here or via Craftsy. There's no cutting instructions on these templates, they are strictly templates, but they're extremely simple and easy to use.

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While you may say, who needs quilts in Florida, you'd be surprised how many my family piles on in the wintertime, not to mention how much joy a quilt draped across a couch can bring. There's loads of ways to get involved if you don't want to make blocks or quilts, and you can check out all of the details right here: The Orlando Modern Quilt Guild.
Monday, June 6, 2016

Even more adventures in garment sewing

Thanks for all the encouraging comments last week! They were just the kick in the pants I needed! I spent the weekend, well the free time at least, working on my first Geranium dress. If you haven't heard of the Geranium dress, it's a super adorable little girls' dress or top pattern by the indomitable Rae Hoekstra (a.k.a. Made by Rae), and it's a garment pattern that I've heard from some friends was not entirely scary, so I decided to go for it, after my successful attempt at knits.

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I will say this - I tend to bite off more than I can chew, so to start with, I truly considered making four of them. At once. Then the rational side of me took over and I decided to try one first, sew it all the way through, before cutting into the other pretty, pretty fabrics I gathered for my Geranium possibilities pile. I narrowed it down to a gorgeous Eastham by Denyse Schmidt print, and got to pressing and cutting.

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Everything was going well with the cutting and such until I got to the actual sewing and realized that while I thought "View A" in the pattern was the cuter of the options (though both are adorable), it was also the more challenging one, for me, because it required gathering, which I am absolutely dreadful at. I always pull the threads so hard that I break them. And unsurprisingly, I did just that in this project, but kept on trucking and gathered the best I could.

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Aside from the gathering, I didn't really struggle much. I fully expected to struggle. A lot. With the whole three dimensional-ness of garment sewing, I expected that I'd have a hard time understanding what to do and where, but the instructions are written quite well, very clear and concise at the same time, so it was really a breeze.

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The dress still needs buttons or snaps - I haven't decided which yet, in part because I've never installed either, but also because the mom in me thinks the snaps are more practical and I don't have any so it requires a trip to Jo-Ann's - but other than that, it's totally done. All hemmed and everything. And it's super cute!

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And it even fits her! Look how darned adorable she is in it!

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So, I think the chances that I'll make another (or twelve!) are mighty good. This pattern was definitely a good one for a complete garment novice like myself, so if you're on the fence about trying your hand at garment sewing, go for it. It's not as scary as I thought it would be. Need some proof? I even bought a few adult garment patterns, like the Scout Tee and the Bianca top/dress. And I might actually use them! Have a fantastic week everyone :)
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Adventures in garment sewing...

There's nothing like having a daughter to make you want to sew pretty, pretty clothes. I've wanted to try garment sewing for years, but always felt intimidated by the large pattern pieces and crazy thick pattern packets for adult garments. But baby clothes? They're tiny! How hard can they be?

Knit prep still life by Elizabeth Dackson

I've been slowly gathering my courage to try making something garment-y for a few weeks now. Goodness knows that I surely have plenty of fabric to do it with! But I was totally lacking in the confidence department. Quilts are flat. They don't have to go over anyone's head. They always fit. I like quilts. Garments? That's a whole different story.

Curves ahoy by Elizabeth Dackson

So I thought I'd start small - even though I wanted to dive in and make a Geranium dress right away. I decided to pace myself, and start with a simple knit headband. I've never sewn with knits, so it was a bit of an adventure, but it turned out pretty okay. Having a cute baby to put said headband on sure helps it turn out okay! But sewing the headband made me feel a little more prepared for garment sewing, what with the curves and wiggly fabric and all.

A spiffy headband  by Elizabeth Dackson

Now I'm thinking that maybe I might just be ready to a Geranium dress, having been told by a few friends who know better that it would be a simple pattern for me. I just need to work on printing out the pattern pieces and taping them together and then build up my guts to cut into some pretty, pretty fabric. I'm leaning toward this print from Denyse Schmidt's Eastham collection, because purple is totally Lorelei's color. It looks so adorable on her. So we'll see what this week brings, but who knows - maybe by next week I will have officially sewn a garment! Imagine that! Have a great week everyone :)
Monday, May 16, 2016

The Circus Star Mini - in the new issue of MQU

It's no secret that I love solid fabrics - they're one of my favorite groupings of fabrics to use, especially in paper pieced blocks, because they make those beautifully crisp and sharp angles and points even more pronounced. But ombre solids have a special little spot in my heart. Ombre solids can be so much fun to work with, figuring out how to cut a single half-yard, for example, into eight or so different shades of one singular color and then seeing them come together in a finished block or mini. And if there's one designer I always associate with ombres, it's for sure Vanessa Christensen of V + Co.

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Before the baby came, I had a chance to work with some of Vanessa's beautiful ombre fabrics for a project for Modern Quilts Unlimited, and the Spring 2016 issue featuring the quilt, pattern and an article about paper piecing by yours truly has finally hit the stands. You'll find my Circus Star quilt pattern on page 40 of the magazine, with my article on paper piecing just before that on page 36.

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The Circus Star totally reminds me of the multicolored patterns you see on circus tents and such, and yet also gives off a kaleidoscope kind of feel. It's a three template project, and has loads of possibility. It could easily be done in a color wheel kind of style, or even in grayscale, and be really and truly stunning.

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Quilt Stats
name: Circus Star
pattern: Circus Star pattern in spring 2016 issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited
size: 24" square
fabrics: V + Co ombres
quilting: Aurifil 50 wt in assorted coordinating colors in multiple styles, including straight lines, zig zags, meandering stipple and wiggle
Monday, May 9, 2016

Appreciating the teachers

This year my son is lucky to have a crew of five fantastic female teachers, who we were super happy to spoil with some simple handmade zipper pouches and their favorite candies last week. Second grade has been such a great year, and I'm so lucky that my son goes to a school where it feels like every single staff and faculty member cares for all of the kids.

Teacher Gifts 2016 by Elizabeth Dackson

His two teachers are so amazing. So patient, so thoughtful, so caring. They are the kind of teachers you hope your kid will have, and I'm so grateful to them for making second grade so enjoyable for my kiddo. My son is a gifted student, and while that comes with some wonderful pros that make him a great student, it also comes with some emotional baggage that can make school challenging, and his two teachers were so wonderful with him this year.

Writing sweet teacher notes by Elizabeth Dackson

His art and music teachers are also delightful with him. He played the role of Santa in the holiday school musical, so he's got a bit of a soft spot for his music teacher in particular. But right now, I think his favorite teacher is his PE teacher. She's always got a great big grin whenever I see her around school, and her sunny disposition is beyond infectious.

Now if only they'd keep him for the summer too - I'm kidding! Mostly ;) I know my son is sad to see that the school year is coming to an end, as he adores school, but here's hoping that third grade is worth the wait!
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Quilter's Paper Piecing Workbook: A Sneak Peek

So my second book, The Quilter's Paper Piecing Workbook, has started to ship a whole month early, and I'm so excited!!!! I'm incredibly proud of this book, so I wanted to take a moment this morning to show you a few sneak peeks of some of the things I love most about it.

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I love the photography. I gave my publisher, Interweave, a "mood board" to work from, trying to give them an idea of the style of photography I hoped to see in the book and oh boy, did they deliver. Absolutely the look and feel I had hoped for!

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I love the projects in this book. They are so very me. And it's impossible to pick a favorite, but right now I'm crushing real hard on Steely Gaze...

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I love the amount of me that's still left in the text. The amount of personality that didn't get edited out.  I think my voice really comes through in the writing, and that's really exciting to me.

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I love the amount of illustrations and photos throughout. It makes the book so much more vibrant.

And really, I love a lot more about it, but that's all I'm going to share for now. Don't forget, you can order a copy from Amazon right here or you can order a signed copy from me right here! Stay tuned for more, and have a fantastic day!
Monday, May 2, 2016

A gift for Henry

Once upon a time, we bought our first house and lived in a neighborhood where we had great neighbors. And one neighbor became a good friend of mine around the time my son was born, so much so that she's had the title of auntie since he could talk. And though she moved away a few years ago, after we left that neighborhood in search of a bigger neighborhood with more kids around, we're still in touch and she recently welcomed her first child, a boy she and her husband named Henry.

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Henry came a good bit early, but he's doing really well so far, which is so wonderful. I'm so excited for her to become a mom and to get to enjoy all the sweet mom/son things that I've enjoyed with my son. I know that Henry is a lucky boy to have her as a mom, and I wanted to send my love to them both the best way I know how - a quilt.

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This quilt isn't super technical or super fancy, but it's meant to be loved and enjoyed, and will be a great playmat for Henry after he gets to come home from the hospital. I did some simple plus blocks using fun blues and yellows, with one of my favorite text prints as the background, Heartfelt in Snow from Littlest. I bordered the patchwork with simple improv piecing using some great shades of Kona: Alegria, Copen, and Cadet.

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Quilt stats
name: Henry's quilt
size: 35 1/2" square
fabrics: assorted prints, low volume Heartfelt in Snow from Littlest, Kona Alegria, Kona Copen, and Kona Cadet.
binding: Valley in Azure by Leah Duncan
quilting: improv hills in Aurifil 50 wt 8605

Henry's quilt - wip3 photo IMG_8073_zpsbqaiwczw.jpg


Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a very busy nine year old boy and a one year old baby girl and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?
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