My First Quilt

Rectangle Block Quilt

Last week at a craft night with friends, someone asked me what my favorite craft medium is. Obviously I love crafting and all things DIY, but I’d honestly never thought about what my favorite medium is! I told her maybe woodworking or sewing. They’re both forms of sculpture for me— I can take something flat and giving it a new shape and new life with a little vision, time, and work. But after saying this, I felt the need to clarify something about the sewing thing.

Not quilts. I love sewing, just not quilts.

Give me a few months, and just like a difficult child birthing experience, I’ll most likely forget my back pain and woes and be ready to give it another go. (Though if quilting is anything like birthing babies, I’ll need a few years between each one!) But as of now, I’m very proud to have finished my first quilt, though I cut a few corners along the way and definitely compromised on my original vision. This was certainly an instance of “Done is better than perfect.”

Rectangle Block Quilt

The top of the quilt is a simple rectangular block construction. At first I wanted to keep things super easy and figured I would just hand tie the quilt, but I really love how quilts get crinkly when machine stitching the layers together. So I watched this very helpful YouTube tutorial and bought myself a free-motion quilting foot for my sewing machine. I designed an elaborate geometric pattern that I had planned to draw on the top of my quilt and then go over with machine stitching. But by the time I had basted together the layers, I had sunk many hours and late nights into the project and thought it might be better than I just finish it up, instead of dragging it out while tediously stitching a complex pattern onto a heavy quilt without the assistance of an extension table on my sewing machine. Not a prospect I relished much, considering the work load I had waiting for A Beautiful Mess projects.

So I decided. Done is better than perfect. I made binding for the quilt and machine stitched it in place, instead of blind stitching it— another compromise. Oh well! I don’t think anyone beside me would have noticed that detail anyway.

Lucy- Making Nice in the Midwest

Rectangle Block Quilt

Lucy- Making Nice in the Midwest

Happily, Lucy loves getting tucked in under her new quilt in her new bed. She gets a little distressed if I don’t cover her with it before leaving the room. And my heart melts. I suppose it’s perfect for her, and I hope that she will always treasure it, knowing that I made it just for her!

It’s fun to do these little projects to make my firstborn feel special, knowing that a new kiddo will soon be sleeping in her old room and old bed, and she’ll most likely have some trouble adjusting.

Have you ever had trouble finishing projects that you end up not enjoying as much as you thought you would? My issue is that I always add more details and tend to make each project more complicated than I have time for. Gotta keep at least one foot on the ground, right?

Lucy- Making Nice in the Midwest 

My Favorite Script & Handwritten Typefaces

favorite free script typefaces

Hunting down the perfect typeface for a project can take some time, especially when it’s for a personal project. I hate designing for myself, but often do it out of necessity, like when I revamped my blog design last week. Hand drawing type is definitely not my strong point, so I usually end up looking for a free or not super expensive typeface that fits the bill. Here are a few of my favorite free typefaces I’ve used in the past year, including one $29 font you can see in my new blog logo, Filmotype Horizon.

Click the links for each typeface below. Enjoy!

Images are from my recent abstract painting. Check out the process here.

diy abstract art

Lately at A Beautiful Mess

Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

Lately I’ve been waking up in the morning, pinching myself, and getting right to work on my projects for A Beautiful Mess. Is this really my life? Pinch again. Back to work. Is this really work, though? Oh yeah, it’s work— but it’s the best kind! I’ve really enjoyed my recent projects, especially this mid century modern side table (above) and quilted wall art (below left).

Right now I’m working on a couple of easy-as-pie projects that I hope you’ll like as much as me, but while I wait for the paint to dry, I thought I’d share my recent projects with you in hopes that you’ll be inspired to make something fun for yourself!

Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

Mid Century Modern Table DIY // What a fulfilling project this was! I was surprised at how relatively simple it was to make, but I definitely feel like the process flexed my craftsman muscles and made me a more confident DIYer when I saw the beautiful end result.

DIY Quilted Modern Art // Inspired by the quirky graphic textile art of Ethan Cook, this art uses simple quilting techniques alongside tradition canvas stretching for an unexpected design element in our living room.

DIY Mid Century Inspired Plant Stand // I have some larger houseplants that needed a little boost off the ground, and this was the project was the perfect simple solution! 

Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

Make This Metallic Lightning Bolt Mobile // This was a really fun and whimsical project that would be perfect for a nursery or office space.

Vinyl Chair Makeover // People didn’t believe it was as easy as I described, or that it would hold up as well as it has— But I promise this is such a simple way to update an old vinyl chair, and it seems like the finish is going to wear really nicely through the years!Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

Wall-Mounted Jewelry Box Display // I love rescuing sad antiques and repurposing them in modern ways. This time was for a quirky little jewelry display in our powder room!

DIY Marquetry-Inspired Wooden Trivets // Got a craft blade and a hot iron? Then you can do this project! It’ll really add some pizazz to your dinner table and dress up the walls in between meals.
Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

Turn a Bird Cage into a Mod Floor Lamp // This project definitely upped the cool-factor of our living room. So easy, too! The funnest part was shopping for the bird cage stand. I was surprised as how many are for sale in antique malls and shops!

Try This: Type Tray Nail Polish Display // I always see a wide variety of type trays for sale at antique shops, and finally realized it would be perfect for nail polish display! After I finished this project I discovered my lipstick fits perfectly in the in between spaces too. Victory!Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

Simple & Sweet Donut Pillow // Finally— A calorie free way to enjoy doughnuts! This project is really simple, and a good one to make with a child’s assistance.

Try This: White Tablecloth Makeover // Tired of looking for a fun patterned tablecloth that suits your specific tastes? Quit looking and make your own!Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

Modern Mirror DIY // I wanted a bold, graphic mirror, and it was really easy to make one myself with some plywood, paint, and a jigsaw!

Make Your Own Faux Marble Drawer Knobs // Are you into the marble trend as much as I am? You might also be sad because marble is $$$, but you can fake the look pretty easily!

Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

Build a Mini Horse Bookcase // This folk-art inspired bookshelf adds the perfect amount of whimsy to Lucy’s bedroom. It would also make a nice stand for potted herbs too!

Spotted Curtains DIY // I can’t get enough of spots these days, and this set of curtains I made will look great in Lucy’s next bedroom!

Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

Make Your Own Pop Art Pet Portrait // This Andy Warhol inspired craft project is so incredibly easy to do! You don’t even need photo editing software.

Budget Curtain Rod & Finial DIY // Curtain hardware can be so expensive, but I made my own rod and modern finials for very little money! I was really pleased with how store-bought it looked when I was finished.Mandi Johnson at A Beautiful Mess

How to Create a Weathered Paint Effect // This easy rub-off weathering technique takes very little time and gives a great patina to any of your projects.

DIY Marble Jade Earrings and Pendant Necklace // Another simple jewelry DIY with lovely results! You won’t believe how easy they are to make.

Black and White All Over

3-D movie screening

Black and white photography is such a great addition to a colorful home. It adds an element of neutrality amidst the creative chaos of an artistic home— or just a home full of crazy color, kids, and plastic toys. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for some black and white photography to frame and display in our dining room, but nothing I found really felt like “me.” Too stuffy. Too try hard (which is ironic considering how hard I was looking). Or just too boring and hotelesque.

Needless to say, as internet searches usually go, my quest turned into an obssession. I ended up finding not one, not two, but just seven pieces I loved, but only purchased one. Can you guess which one? (Check my Twitter for hints!)


Animals in Motion 1907

water skiier    Oregon Weeds by Brett Weston
Mae West lifting barbells in bed
diving swimmers photo print    Loomis Dean Motorcycle Riding