Sparkling Stars Quilt

My mom is fantastic. She loves everything I make. I don’t think it actually matters how it turns out, she’ll think its beautiful and amazing. Since she appreciates things I make more than just about anyone else, I figure it was about time I made her a quilt!

Sparkling Stars Quilt

She loves the color blue, so I decided to put all my favorite blue fabrics into one quilt for her. This quilt has (16) 12″ stars around the outside, each of which has two different fabrics.

Blue Lone Star Block

There are also (2) bigger 24″ stars in the center. The spokes of these stars are each made with (8) smaller triangles of similar shades.

Lone Star Quilt

I used Michael Miller’s stitch square in sea for the background – I love the low volumeness and how it reads as white, but has a bit of blue. I’m hoping that it won’t look dirty quite as easily as a solid white background would.

Blue Green Quilt

I was also excited to get to use bits of things my sister and I love, like penguins, stars, and elephants.

Sparkling Stars Blue Quilt

This was really my first attempt at free motion quilting on a big scale, other than my sister’s jewel star quilt – which was technically free motion quilting, but really just straight lines. I did feathers and squiggles in the smaller stars, and then giant feathers in the big stars. They’re not anywhere close to perfect, but I’m really happy with how they turned out. And of course, my mom is impressed.

Minky Quilt Back

My mom’s one request was that it have a soft, cuddly back, so I used minky. The quilting doesn’t show up super well in person, but it adds a neat texture to the minky where it tacked some of it down.

Quilt Specs:
Pattern: self-designed. I’m calling it ‘sparkling stars’ because I like to think the mixed fabrics in the center stars look a bit sparkly!
Size: 50″ x 75″
Fabric: lots of quilting cottons on the front, Stitch in Sea background, and minky on the back.
Made for: my mom!


Reflections Dress

Back when I was making my fractured penguin mini quilt, I contacted Violet Craft (who created the forest abstractions patterns that inspired my design) to make sure she was ok with me making a pattern so similar to hers. Not only was she super sweet about it, she responded and told me she liked the dresses I’d been posting on instagram so much that she wanted to send me some of her fabric so I could make a dress out of it!

Brambleberry Ridge Anna Dress

I love Violet’s fabric, and already had several of her Brambelberry Ridge prints on my wishlist. She sent me some shimmer reflection in mist. It’s hard to see in some of these photos, but the fabric is covered in little hexagons, and the gold ones are metallic! They shine in a lovely way in person, and I love them.

Anna Dress Bodice

I tried out a new pattern for this dress, the Anna dress by By Hand London. It has kimono-type sleeves (no inset sleeve seams!) and cute little pleats under the bust instead of darts.

By Hand London Anna Dress

After making a muslin, the only change I made was to lengthen the bodice by about 1.5″, which is a pretty typical alteration for me. The skirt being so much more fitted, though, shows that maybe I shouldn’t have added as much length in the back? There will be more versions of this pattern, and I’m thinking about trying a sway-back alteration next time. Any suggestions?

By Hand London Anna Dress

Violet was also kind enough to send along a bit of the coordinating ‘bow tie plaid’ print. When I’d seen the name of this print, I knew I wanted a coordinating bow tie for Eddie out of it! I used the same (free!) pattern from Sew Like My Mom that I did for the bow tie that went with my Easter Dress. I see many more bow ties in my future! And while matching ones are nice, I really liked that this one totally went with my dress (same colors, even the gold metallic), but wasn’t quite the same print. Plus, it really is a great print great for bow ties!

DIY Bow Tie

Dress Specs:
Pattern: Anna Dress by By Hand London and (slightly modified) Sew Like My Mom bow tie.
Size/Pattern Changes: US size 6, lengthened bodice by 1.5″.
Fabric: Quilting Cotton – Shimmer Reflections and Bow Tie Plaid by Violet Craft

Anna Dress and Bow Tie

Tags: dress

Penguin Mini Quilt

I’m becoming a big fan of mini quilts. No, they’re not especially practical. But its so fun to try out new things on a small scale without committing to an entire quilt. Plus, everything’s cuter in miniature form, right?

Fractured Penguin Mini Quilt

As part of the Houston Modern Quilt Guild, I got to participate in the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge a while back. They sent us all a few free fat eighth pieces of fabric, and we got to make whatever we wanted with them and whatever solids and other Michael Miller prints we wanted.

Fractured Penguin Mini Quilt

I fell head-over-heels in love with pictures Violet Craft’s Forest Abstractions patterns when I saw them on instagram, but the patterns hadn’t been released yet when I was trying to decide what to do with my challenge fabric. I also am kind of crazy about penguins, so I decided to have a go at designing my own paper pieced penguin pattern in a similar geometric style by sketching it out on a piece of paper, then having it blown up and printed on copy paper at office depot.

Fractured Penguin Mini Quilt Pattern

I used 6 gray kona solids (charcoal, graphite, ash, medium gray, smoke, and steel, I think), along with some of the gray, orange, and yellow bits of the challeng fabric and michael miller stitch for the background. I had a lot of fun free motion quilting this! I used a solid black on the back to really show off the quilting.

Penguin Free Motion Quilting

I’m thinking about tweaking the pattern a bit and trying to put it together as a pattern to release. If anyone is interested, let me know!

Quilt Specs:
Design: Fractured Penguin – designed by me!
Size: 14.5″x19″
Made for: me! as a part of the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge (2014).

Tags: mini penguin

An Ah-deer-able Dress

If you don’t know this about me, I love Japan. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Japan for work a few times, but this summer my parents took us around Japan and I got to plan whatever I wanted to do for two weeks (although, less fabric shopping, because my dad and husband were along). It was the best! One of my favorite places in Japan is a town called Nara. Nara has dozens of temples and shrines, and there are tons of deer that roam freely mainly around the large park in town, but also other areas as well. These deer friendly and not afraid of people – they will come up to you, let you pet and hug them, and I’ve seen them inside some of the street shops before. For this trip to Nara, I decided I needed a special dress!

Deer Emery Dress

The pattern is the Emery Dress, by Christine Haynes. Love this pattern! Definitely a new favorite It is simple, comfortable, and lovely (and has pockets, of course!)

Emery Dress Exposed Metal Zipper

I think the deer liked it :) I also got a few comments from people in town from older ladies and young girls – I understand just enough Japanese to tell they thought it was cute and that they liked that I had deer on my dress like the deer in Nara.

Nara Deer Dress

And although I didn’t realize it in advance, it turns out that if you visit Nara in June you can see the baby deer in a special enclosure. They were too cute!

Nara Baby Deer

I also made a cute belt using this simple tutorial from Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons:

Emery Dress with Bow Belt

But I’m not wearing it in most of these photos because after buying some of the deer biscuits and feeding the deer, they nibbled on it some and it got a bit dirtier than I expected (although it washed up just fine!)

Nara Deer Feeding

Dress Specs

Pattern: Emery Dress by Christine Haynes
Size/Pattern Changes: Size 6, lengthened bodice by 1.5″, put in an exposed metal zipper, fully lined the dress, and tapered under-bust darts instead of sewing the straight line triangles.
Fabric: Quilting Cotton – Deer in Black by Copenhagen Print Factory (no longer available in black, but available here in cobalt or red)
Belt: Bow Belt by Tilly and the Buttons (a free pattern!) in a white sateen cotton from a garage sale.

Nara Emery Deer Dress


How to use Google Mail Merge to send out swap emails

If you’ve hosted a crafty (or other!) swap online, there’s a good chance you’ve sent out about a jillion emails, each of which needs to be personalized with that person’s partner information. If you’ve participated in a swap online – you should just appreciate that this is a lot of work! In addition to setting up partners, checking on the status of packages, answering questions… Anyways, I’m here to tell you that there is a super fast short cut to writing, personalizing, and sending all those emails!

Bulk Personalized Emails

To start with, you’ll need a gmail e-mail address. If you don’t have one already, you can get one for free! Use it just for the swap, if you want. You can have it forward to your real email address if you want, also.

Using Google Mail Merge, if you have the information you need to send in an e-mail in a spreadsheet, you can have google personalize and send out all of your swap partner e-mails pretty instantly. Start by typing up a draft of the e-mail you want to send out to your partner. Instead of the personalized info, though, you’ll type a field name wherever you want personalized info. For example, where I want to have the name of the person I’m sending the e-mail to, I instead type $%Partner First Name%.

Gmail Mail Merge Canned Response

You’ll then want to save this as a new canned response by clicking on the little arrow in the bottom right of the above image:

gmail mail merge canned response

Next, set up a spread sheet with all a column for each field in your e-mail. This will generally not require all the information collected by the swap (i.e. you don’t need to include whether or not their partner is willing to ship internationally), so I like to make a separate sheet with only the info I’ll be including in the e-mail. I’ll copy all the info to a separate sheet, then delete columns I don’t need in the email and rearrange columns as needed. Here’s an example of that sheet for the Doctor Who Swap I’m helping host right now (#makeadalekmakeafriend) (I redid the order since the swap is still ongoing – so these are not the actual partner assignments!):

Personalized Bulk Email

Quick tip: once you have the partners in your sheet in order, just reference one line up or down in the email slot to get the e-mail address and name for the person you are sending the email to. So in this example, Kim is sending to Zoe, Zoe is sending to Kerrie, etc. I use the ‘order’ column as I’m setting up my partners, so I can sort on that column and see who is sending to who.

Personalized Mail Merge

Now, create a mail merge spreadsheet by saving this spreadsheet to your google drive. Insert as many columns as you need before the ‘mail merge status’ column, but make sure not to change, remove, or write over that column. Make sure that the title of each column *exactly* matches the field name used in your e-mail – i.e. since I typed $%Partner First Name% in my email, I need the title of that column to be ‘Partner First Name’, and so forth.

At this point, I would suggest typing in your e-mail address as the e-mail to send to and some test info in each column to make sure everything is working right. Once you send out the actual e-mails, they will all go out at once, and if you have a mistake in your setup, everyone will get it before you have a chance to catch it. First, in the google drive sheet, make sure the ‘mail merge status’ column entries are blank. If they are not, delete the contents in those cells. Then go to Mail Merge > Step 1: Initialize.

gmail mail merge for swaps

After this runs, go to Mail Merge > Step 2: Start Mail Merge. It will open up the following dialogue:

personalized bulk email for swaps

Here, you must select the name of the canned response you saved earlier and type in your name. You also get to choose whether or not you want to be BCC’d on the e-mails – if you check yes, it will send you a copy of each e-mail it sends out. Then click ‘Start Mail Merge’ and it will send out the e-mails. If everything works, it will send out all the e-mails and each entry will be updated to say ‘EMAIL_SENT’ in the Mail Merge Status column. If there is an error in e-mail address, you will be able to see that that e-mail and any following ones were not sent. Once you fix the error, start the mail merge again and it should not send additional e-mails to the entries that are already set as ‘EMAIL_SENT’.

mail merge sent

Then go check the e-mails and make sure they ended up how you expected. Once you know that it works, copy all your participants’ information, and you’re ready to start the mail merge by following the same steps as in my test above. Just make sure that you have everything set up right, in my sheet, ‘Partner First Name’ is making something for the person who’s name is ‘First Name’ ‘Last Name’ in the same line. The email address should be for ‘Partner First Name’, and the rest of the info in that line should be for the person who’s name is ‘First Name’ ‘Last Name’. Again, this is where sending out a couple of test e-mails is useful! Remember that you also need to clear the ‘EMAIL_SENT’ cells if you tested it on fake emails and want to resend new ones.

Quick Summary:

  • Edit this spreadsheet with the e-mail address and first name of person you want to send the e-mail to as ‘Email address’ and ‘Partner First Name’, and the info for their partner in the rest of the columns
  • Make sure the column titles in the mail merge spreadsheet exactly match the fields in your canned response e-mail
  • Make sure all cells in ‘mail merge status’ column are blank
  • In the mail merge spread sheet, go to mail merge>2. Start Mail Merge. Select your canned response email, type in your name, and click ‘Start Mail Merge’.
  • Check the  ‘mail merge status’ column to make sure all your e-mails have sent!

Attribution: I found all this info from this site: digital inspiration. The spreadsheet script was developed by digital inspiration, and I just changed some things around and included some swap-specific info. There’s a video tutorial there as well if you want to see how it works in real time.Hope it helps!

Tags: swap

Emma’s Garden – and a giveaway!

I’m super excited to finally be able to share some projects I got to make with Patty Sloniger’s newest fabirc line for Michael Miller Fabrics: Emma’s Garden. Spoiler alert: I’ve got a bundle of mixed rainbow blender fat quarters to give away at the end!

EG Blog Tour Banner

I know Patty from the Houston Modern Quilt Guild. When she was getting things together for her booth at Quilt Market last spring, I was so excited to get my hands on some of her fabric to make a few goodies. I love these fabrics – the colors are perfectly bright and saturated, and the patterns range from blenders that will be perfect stash basics to show-stopping butterflies large scale florals. One of my favorite things about these fabrics are how wonderfully they blend into gradients and rainbows, which hugely inspired the two mini quilts I made.

Emma's Garden Hexadaisy

This hexie mini quilt is made using the hexadaisy pattern from craftsy. It’s a paper-pieced pattern using just two different templates, which you can print out at any size. I’m crazy about hexies on everything right now (one of my favorite Emma’s Garden prints is a fun hexagon print!), so when I saw this pattern while I was looking for a rainbow quilt, it was love at first sight. I love how that sketch striped binding fabric ties all the colors together! And as a bonus, isn’t that little star in the very center cute? It finished at about 15″ wide.

Bloomin' Garden

This is the other mini quilt I made. It uses the Bloomin’ QAYG tutorial from Let’s Eat Grandpa. I’ve made pillows with it a few times, but don’t think I’ve posted any of them here. You can see a cool video of this mini coming together on my instagram here.


Cute selvages are one of my favorite fabric touches. I was excited to be able to work in a bit of the selvage from Patty’s new fabric – which is especially sweet since it has her name and her daughter’s.

Emma's Garden Dress

And because all I seem to want to make lately are dresses, of course I had to make one with Patty’s new fabric as well. I picked the green hexie print because, as I mentioned, I can not get enough hexagons right now. And if you can’t tell by my hair, I’m also crazy about that color!

Simplicity 2444 Exposed Zipper

This is another simplicity 2444, and I put in a teal exposed zipper in the back.

twirly photo  dress 03
I love a good twirly dress! And my puppy :)

And I get to share some of this fabric goodness with one of you! One lucky winner will win a fat quarter bundle of rainbow blender fabrics from Emma’s Garden :) Just enter via the rafflecopter widget below! You can have one free entry without jumping through any hoops, but you can have another if you’re a follower. If you don’t follow me already, you can keep up with me in a feed reader (like feedly or bloglovin‘), via email updates (link on the right), or instagram (I’m @stars_sunshine).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the rest of the blog hop, each with its own giveaway!

8/7 – Michael Miller’s website
8/8 – Hilary - youngtexanmama
8/9 – Karri - karriofberries
8/10 – Felice - sewscatterbrained
8/11 – Sally - sallysangelworks
8/12 – Liz - www.fatchickquilts
8/13 – Julia (that’s me!) - starsandsunshine
8/14 – Jacey - jaceycraft.blogspot
8/15 – Sophie of C’est LaVie - lescrapdesoph
8/16 – Pam - pamquiltaholic
8/17 – Patty  beckandlundy

Emma's Garden Hexadaisy

Emma’s garden is shipping to shops now, so look for it at your favorite quilt store! You can already find it online, including Hawthorne Threads.


May Giveaway Day – Zippers!

Today is Sew Mama Sew’s biannual giveaway day! Head over here to check out the whole list of giveaways going on this week – maybe you’ll get lucky and win something awesome! I’m giving away a big pile of colorful zippers – read just a little bit further to find out more details and how to win!

Zipper Rainbow for Sew Mama Sew May Giveaway Day

If you’re new here for giveaway day, Hi! I’m Julia, and this is where I blog about some of the things I love to make and do. I post about whatever I’m working on – sewing, recipes, crafty/household projects, and other awesome stuff. Lately, I’ve been making a ton of dresses!


See individual posts about each dress here: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7

Here are a few of my other favorite projects I’ve done on this blog recently:

fave posts
1. Paper dahlia wreath // 2. Filled cupcakes // 3. Map frames // 4. Wood stain sign // 5. Magic School Bus Halloween costumes // 6. Wedding quilt // 7. Felt flower tree skirt // 8. DIY Photo ledge // 9. Filled glass lamps // 10. Tufted headboard (part 1 and part 2)

If you’re new here and think you’d like to hear more from me, I’d love for you to connect with me through a feed reader (feedlybloglovin’, or whatever program you use), on instagram as @stars_sunshine, or on pinterest as jeigenbrodt.

Today, I decided to give away lots of colorful zippers. They are one of my favorite sewing/craft supplies, especially in fun colors like this!

Zipper Rainbow for Sew Mama Sew May Giveaway Day

I was lucky enough to find a ton of zippers at a fantastic price from a seamstress going out of business last summer. And so now I’m going to share some with you! I’m sharing about 25 zippers. You will get an assortment of nylon and metal zippers including a wide range of colors (winner will get one of most of the colors shown in these pictures) from 7″ to 22.”

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway - Zippers from Stars & Sunshine

Since these are fun colors and a variety of lengths, they’d be great for zipper pouches, clothes, and a variety of other projects. Try out the zip-up pouch I made (shown below) with just a 20″ zipper and piece of ribbon!

aqua zip up pouch

I also put together a pinterest board of fun zipper projects to inspire you! Check it out here.

Zipper Project Pinterest Board


Just use the rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway! You’ll get one free entry without jumping through any hoops, and can get another for following me however you like if you want.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
You can find me most often on my blog (feedlybloglovin’, or whatever program you use), on instagram as @stars_sunshine, or on pinterest as jeigenbrodt. Click the previous links or follow the buttons below:

follow us in feedly   Follow on Bloglovin  Instagram Julia Eigenbrodt

Giveaway will close Friday, May 16th, at 7:00 PM CST. I’ll also update this post with the winners then. I’d love to see you around here again :)