Category Archives: sailing

Nautical Flag Quilt

nautical signal flag quiltAny guesses on what this quilt is saying? So… I’ve been working with flags lately after a longtime fascination with flags and more recently, nautical flags, has gotten me going about a few new projects.

Chart-of-signal-flagsFor those of you land lubbers, inland dwellers or non-sailors who don’t know yet- there’s a international code of signals used at sea for relaying communication back and forth between ships or from ship to shore, before the radio or during times of required radio silence. They are used individually or together to spell out short messages.

BVI flags Cooper IslandA recent trip to the British Virgin Islands got me thinking about my love of all flags, especially signal flags and the secret code aspect that makes them just a bit more intriguing.

piecing nautical flagsIn a recent visit, a friend and I came up with this quilt idea- our last names spelled with nautical signal flags.

nautical flag quilt piecingSome everyday math was required to get the dimensions of the flags right- within each flag and in relation to each other on the face of the quilt. Each flag measures 8 inches by 9 inches. I used a few different blues and yellows on purpose for a bit of dimension and to leave uniformity in the dust. All squares were pieced together on the machine, save the “i”  (black dot square above) which was hand-sewn (using a turn under applique method) to the yellow, and not perfectly round on purpose.

nautical flag quilt topI decided to go with a linen fabric for a plain background that made the flags pop but still has the textured, weather beaten look of a old sail bag, or a sailors face or the look of the linen shirted folks hanging out at any given yacht club… or maybe I just love linen. The dimensions of the whole quilt are 5 feet wide by 5′ 3″ long.

signal flag quiltHere is the quilt top all pieced together and ready to be quilted.  I was really curious how the linen would look once it was quilted, and how it would act in the long arm quilting machine.

nautical flag quilt with tribal eldersI previewed the quilt at Thanksgiving, a nice surprise for the family members for which the flags have meaning in their secret-code order. The family elders and even the little ones, absolutely loved the idea.

nautical flags on the wallThe finished quilt with a built in sleeve on the back for hanging. I really toyed with the idea of making the backside a bright colorful fabric to contrast the business-in-the-front look, but in the end, I kept it simple and just put the same linen on the back.

signal flag quiltingThe quilting is a super-small, wave-like pattern in gray thread throughout the whole quilt. It’s machine quilted (or it wouldn’t be finished for 50 years) and even with a machine, it took 12 hours- yikes!  Recently I’ve been going with a bigger quilting design and always wishing I’d gone smaller, so this quilt was the tiny design test.

quilting detail, nautical flagsOf course it’s hard to see at a distance, but close up and to the touch, I really like the way it turned out- even if it made the machine quilter friend of mine nearly crazy by the time it was finally finished.

quilting detail, signal flagsLovin’ the linen next to the cotton flag squares.

If you’re loving the nautical look, check out my nautical flag banners (great for a nautical themed party) available on Etsy. The fabric is hand-drawn, designed and made specifically for the banners. The alphabetical version is available in my shop but custom orders are welcome!

nautical party theme

Halloween DIY costumes


All Hallow’s Eve recap, and here they are- the players from our house… just a couple of gnomes and a pineapple. These gnome are fairly easy costumes to put together, with quite a few everyday- closet elements involved. Just a few details like: hats, beards, braids and belts and you’ve got it! And Halloween DIY costumes are always the best and most clever at any party or trick-or-treat circuit.


Pineapple costume– constructed with a yard or two of foam, because you can quite literally make any person-place-or-thing-costume with a couple of yards of foam- and I love that. Degree of difficulty: Advanced. But don’t let that stop you, working with foam, a knife and a glue gun is very rewarding and endlessly creative in what you can dream up. (award winning folks, see: fish taco costume)


Sleepy gnomes, but still having fun taking pictures… as you can see.


Girl gnome costume– quite simple really- a felt pointy hat, apron with rick rack and a mushroom sewn on, lace-up-the-front vest (could be made from felt for a super-simple version), and a elastic-waisted bright colored skirt. I tried to paint rosy cheeks and a few freckles on this gnomes face but she would have none of it.
Real life costume add-ons: striped tights, white shirt, Converse sneakers, long braided hair.


Boy gnome costume– super simple costume-in-an-hour, and I’m not kidding. All you need to make for this costume to be a success is a hat, beard and belt.
Real life costume add-ons: Brightly colored long shirt, pants or tights (yippie!) and a gnomish pair of shoes from your own closet.

Make the beard from white felt. Cut one solid piece in the shape of a beard (with extra on each side to be velcroed in place under the hat) then cut accent beard shapes also from white felt and top-stitch them into place.

Sew down the beard accent pieces, I used light tan thread so the detail would be more visible. Velcro is sewn to the inside of the hat and onto the upper two sides of the beard. The hat is a single piece of felt (cone shaped) with a single seam closing it up. The belt is also felt- in black and gold. The buckle is cut out from gold felt and top-stitched into place. This belt is 3 inches wide, overlaps to close in the back. I attached it to the person with a giant safety pin on the inside, in the back (leaving it to be fastened with a safety pin is good for adjustability too).


Punk rock neighbor kids, willingly posing for the camera, my kids could take a page from their book…

And then the boy gnome turned himself into a luchador and trick or treated throughout the night and lived happily ever after!

where to be on a hot summer day


This is the kind of picture an Olympus Stylus (shockproof + waterproof) can get you- water line, half waterline or fully submerged if you like. We now have 3 generations of this camera, all used by different posse members- still working splendidly. Mental note- waterproof doesn’t mean buoyant.

It’s finally getting really hot, just as the kids go back to school. weird. Here is my daughter Q enjoying a sailing lesson day with her dad, the photographer. We’ve got three different ‘first days of school’ this week, elementary (charter school) started on Monday, the middle school starts tomorrow, high school (10th +) start on Friday. Two more days of freedom for this gal, and counting down. That’s the kid countdown, my countdown goes like this… two more days till a clean, quiet, peaceful house.

The lake water is delightfully in the 70’s (just barely) and feeling good. Open water swimming as the sun rises over the mountains have been some of my best summer moments.