Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Up

Welcome to this month's Link up! I'm so glad you are here. I was absolutely delighted when Fiona @

Celtic Thistle Stitches

asked me to host the Link up. I think the idea  of getting ahead with our Christmas makes is absolutely brilliant! I have found myself every year trying to scramble my handmade gifts in the week leading up to the holidays and it is absolute madness.

Christmas Gift Bag

Since you are all coming up with great handmade gifts I thought I'll share with you an idea of how to wrap your beautiful handmade gifts this Christmas. I created a tutorial for this string bag that your gift recipients could save or re-use. You can find the tutorial here.

We'd love to see what you have been up to. Please link up you holiday makes below. You have until the end of the month to add your link and automatically be entered on the giveaway. An InLinkz Link-up

And now on to the giveaway! This month's giveaway is this beautiful Be Jolly Mini Charm Pack by Moda donated by the kind people of The Fat Quarter Shop

Thank you so much Fiona for inviting me to host this month and to all of you for stopping by!.

Also, a big thank you to all the sponsors of the monthly giveaways:

Advice for New Bloggers: 5 DIY Tricks to Optimize the look of your Blog

Plum and June      

Ever since my friend Beth asked me to take part of the Let's Get Acquainted New Blogger Hop advice series I have been thinking about the advice I wanted to share with you. I started this blog at the end of 2011, but I didn't really started blogging until early last year. To be honest, I did not know what I was doing. Thankfully, I met Beth and joined the Blog Hop. It was one of the best experiences. I met wonderful bloggers from whom I've learned so much and continue to inspire me.
Over the past year and a half I have learned that the design of your blog plays a key role and one should spend some time making things look nice and tidy. For me, the design of my blog is a work in progress and continues to evolve with me as I learn more about blog design and the interesting and very intimidating subject that is HTML coding. The design of your blog is something very personal and it is what makes every blog unique, but here are some simple tips to help you optimize the look of your blog and make it more reader friendly. 


Your blog header is like the front door to your house. It is the first thing visitors see when they stop  by. Your blog header should make a statement , but it should not be so big that it takes up half of the page and readers have to scroll down to be able to read  your latest post. Blog headers are topically 200-300 pixels in height.  This allows the reader to view your blog header and part of the first post in most computer monitors.
When it comes to designing your blog header the possibilities are endless (i.e. just the name of your blog, some cute graphics, a photograph or a collage of photos). It might take some time for you to find what exactly suits your taste. But that doesn't mean you can't have fun. Try out different designs until you find something that you absolutely love and you feel reflects the essence of your blog.


"A picture is worth thousand words" it might sound like a cliche, but it is absolutely true. Photos are an essential part of of blogs. And some readers might be discouraged from coming back to your blog if the photos are poor. So take time to get know your camera and its settings. When taking photos for your blog take lots of pictures (and I mean a lot) in every possible angle you can imagine, play around with the settings of your camera  so you can experiment and find out what works for you.  Take advantage of free photo editing software products available such as Picasa, PicMonkey and Aviary (integrated on your Flickr account). Here you can read a post I wrote a while back about improving your photography on a budget.


Avoid bright colors and busy backgrounds for your blog. They are distracting and keep your readers from focusing on the content. Instead use a neutral or white background and allow your photos to shine. 


There are some cool fonts out there and it may be tempting to use them in your blog (I've done it). However, some of those fonts are difficult to read and not very easy on your reader's eyes. Keep the font of the body of your post plain and simple.  And reserve those special fonts for accents such a post title or tabs. Additionally, choose a black or gray color for the text of your blog post, bright colored fonts are not easy to read either. 


Make it easier for you readers to find content in your blog. The pages feature offered by Blogger and Wordpress are an excellent feature for organizing your blog and directing your readers to specific content such a a list of the tutorials you have written, the projects you have completed, etc. Blogger allows you to add the pages to the top of your blog (right underneath your blog header), on the side bar or manually link to each page individually. 

If you missed the Advice to New Bloggers from the previous weeks, please be sure to check it out!

Thank you for Stopping by!


It Only Took Me A Month To Finish It

You might remember the block in the center of the pillow. I made the star block for my stop on  the Traveling Pic-Stitch Blog Hop and after doing the machine quilting the quilted block sat at the bottom of my WIP's basket sad and forgotten for almost a month. I didn't want it to be sad anymore, so this weekend I decided to finally finish my pillow. I really like the way it turned out and how in such as small project I was able to practice different techniques:
-I made the Star block using the English Paper Piecing method:
-The Star block is both machine and hand applique to the background fabric
-I machine quilted the background fabric following the star pattern of the center block and hand quilted  it using DMC embroidery thread  to add more interest to the design.

I love my new pillow and it only took me a month to finish it:)


The Traveling PicStitch Blog Hop

Today is my stop on The Traveling PicStitch Blog Hop organized by Laura from Quokka Quilts and Katy from The Littlest Thistle. Laura and Katy are on a road trip around Arizona, Utah and Nevada and  they are getting inspiration from the beautiful scenery they get to experience on their trip to do some stitching along the way. And that is exactly the idea behind this blog hop: to use color from a photograph as inspiration to create an English Paper Pieced block.
The inspiration for my block is this picture I took last spring at the beach. I love the light and subtle blues and grays. I have never used a palette builder before so I decided to give it a try (I have to say: it is quite fun). I used the palette generator from Play Crafts and these are the results that I got:

Then I moved  on to the fun part: choosing the fabrics. I found in my fabric stash these fabrics that matched the color palette very well (or close enough) and as a bonus they have a nautical theme.  Perfect!

The design of my block is a variation of this star rose block. I started drawing the template with a star rose in mind, but halfway through I realized the pentagons in the center were larger than the original star rose I had seen, so I decided to keep going and call my design a happy accident.I haven't done much paper piecing before (a few months ago I haven't even heard of it) but I find this technique super fun. I'm already planning a large project involving paper piecing.

And this is my finished block. I guess I'm going to call it a star, it is going to become a pillow. I already appliqued it to a piece of natural linen and began  the quilting.  I will share it you once I finished it.

You can find more details about The Traveling PicStitch Blog Hop here, including the schedule with all the blogs participating, the sponsors, a Flickr group and information about a linky party a the end of November.
Please take some time to check out Monday's post from Beth @ Plum and June and Wednesday's turn is Nannette @ YeahImadethat (sorry the link on the schedule is broken, maybe when she sees this she will fix it so we can stop by her blog).
Thank you so much for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon!

*Update: You can see the finished pillow using the star block here.*