Monday, December 31, 2012

My handsome great-nephew and his quilt

And this is why we do what we do when it comes to making things that we give away. Look at that smile.

This is my newest great-nephew. In this picture, he sure looks like his dad.

It surely makes me feel right about having made that quilt for him. I hope he enjoys it for years to come. I hope for all of us that our sewing treasures are enjoyed for years to come.

We'll leave you and the year 2012 with this happy photo and a wish that all your projects are so wonderful, be they gift or something for yourself. Take your scraps, your remnants, your yardage, your trims and embellishments, and sew in 2013 as if you were going to smile this big when you were done.

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Project - Mug Mats (Last Minute Gift Idea!)

Out of gifts for your friends for Christmas? Make these! I made them in an afternoon, including the picture taking and binding. All you need is fabric scraps, leftover batting (regulation batting, old towel, flannel, etc.), and some imagination. You can make your own bias binding or use purchased bias tape. I happened to choose Virginia Tech fabric for the strip quilting and M&Ms fabric for the back. Have fun, and get to stitchin! You have prezzies to make :)

Click here or click on our projects link on the right. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Quilt done, time to deliver

It started as an idea. I thought I would make a banging hexagon quilt with red, blue, and hot air balloon fabric. Then I thought I'd work it into a log cabin quilt. Then I decided I liked the balloon hexagons too much not to go with that idea, so I combined them. I ended up doing a combined log cabin pineapple type thing with a hexagon in the center.

The solids are Michael Miller Krystal fabrics, so though they are solid, they're not really solid. There will be less chance of discoloration or problems with use and machine washing.

I did incorporate an intentional mistake You can see it in the second picture, but I won't tell you where it is. The tradition of an intentional mistake supposedly began with Native American weavings as a reminder that we are not perfect. I think it adds to the character of the piece! If I really told the truth, this one was unintentional, but I left it anyway; that makes it intentional, right?

I hope the baby gets years and years of use out of the quilt. It's super bright now, but with love, it will fade a bit and will have stories to tell.

The back is a fun snake fabric. The process was quilt-as-you go. The construction is about 90% machine and 10% hand work. I have changed my habit of using batting and now use receiving blankets/flannel as batting. It makes for a warm, but lighter, quilt. It also assists with machine washing and drying as it doesn't shift and is not bulky.

Overall, I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. Now, what's next?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Recycling denim and a sweatshirt for a great jacket

Here's a work in progress.

Beware, this is heavy and warm jacket when you're done, so enjoy it!

I had an oversized red sweatshirt that was so yummy soft on the inside. That is the base for the jacket.

The second ingredient was a pile of denim scraps. I cut 2" strips first, and then embellished each strip with a piece of ribbon. I have spools and spools of ribbon that I've been collecting. I get it just about everywhere - Freecycle, yard sales, online, or from friends who say "I bet you can use this!" With the strips, I made 8" log cabin squares. Yours can be larger or smaller and you certainly don't have to use denim, but it is a scrap stitching project after all. You also don't have to use ribbon, but I had so much and it was begging to be used.

I cut the sleeves carefully from the sweatshirt, maintaining the integrity of the sleeve and armhole where it was to be re-attached. I also removed the collar band, cuff bands, and waist band, and cut a straight line up the middle of the front of the shirt.

With the sleeves, I added strips of squares with some machine stitching in-the-ditch around the squares. I then added strips to the back and noticed I had a lot of leftover space, so cut some 3" and 4" strips of old blue jeans and added them to the sides and in the back as a yoke. From the shoulder to hem, I added a couple strips of squares.

To finish, I reattached the sleeves, now covered with log cabin squares. I then added bands back to the hem of the shirt, the cuffs, and to the neck. My initial intention was to put in a separating zipper up the front, but the jacket was fairly bulky. I added a folded strip of denim and then created buttonholes and stitched on some buttons. This worked better than the zipper because it also served as a finish for the front opening without adding bulk.

The finishing is a bit tricky, but you can definitely reuse the fabric you removed; just put it right back where it came from. I don't have a photo of the finished product, but you get the idea. I made this jacket in 2007 and it has since been passed on to a friend.

The lesson here is that you can make something out of essentially nothing if you are creative. This is how I chose to use some blue jeans and old sweatshirt. What will you do with yours?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Travel time and sharing time!

On old online friend, from back in our days, Martha, made this wonderful set of pillows and I had to share (with her permission, of course). She has been running her own interior design business for some time now, and makes some of the most gorgeous items.
I love the way the stripes on the fabric match up as if she had done strip piecing. This is something you or I could actually try! The addition of the covered button and small tassel add an amazing professional look. But think of all the striped fabrics you have that you could manipulate like this! I know my mind is abuzz with possibilities. Thanks Martha for letting me share. They're lovely.

And, yes, it's travel time once more. I'm headed for Phoenix tomorrow. It wouldn't be traveling if I didn't have a hand project to take with me. I made some blocks by machine for a small Cathedral Window quilt. The rest is hand work. I have my hand sewing kit with me and the windows for the quilt - I have M&M fabric and Steelers fabric. I can't decide which one I'm going to use, so I'm taking both. The hexagon quilt I'm working on has gotten too big to travel with, so it will be here at home waiting for me when I get back. I work on it darned near every day. I will finish it in spite of it!

While I'm gone, my Bernina is spending her vacation at the shop. It's time for a cleaning and tuneup. My sewing room looks positive empty! She should be running like a top when I return.

The weather on the east coast is cooling and it's a perfect time to start a project. See you in November! And don't forget to vote!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sewing Thoughts - Hexagons and Hand Sewing

I eat, sleep, and breath hexagons. I've been working on a hexie charm quilt for a long time now and am on the home stretch. What that means is that I have about 6 months to go before I finish it! Thousands of 2-1/2" hexagons, none duplicated (unless by accident) have been a part of my life for a while now. Sheesh. Will it ever be done? And will I start another one? The answer to both questions is yes. It's what I do and I love having something to take with me to work on, especially now that I no longer have carpal tunnel!

Which brings me to thoughts on hand sewing. Over at, there's a great blog entry about hand sewing.  I agree whole heartedly that hand sewing is a completely different "animal." I get into the zone when I have a needle and thread in hand with my thimble tight on my finger. I can take my time and plan, cut, sew, measure, re-measure, and get back to the cut and sew part over and over again.

Rose from mentions that hand sewing is quiet. Maybe that's part of what I like. It's me an my needle. Anything else is superfluous. I tend to hand sew while watching TV when I'm at home. It's almost a diet aid as I never eat while I sew. You want that quilt done? Then there will be no kitchen raiding! That's not really quiet, but it's my time.

She also stresses portability. I've found that to be one of the most wonderful aspects of hand sewing. I always have a hexagon or Cathedral Window project going - they both use small pieces of fabric, they both require hand sewing, and they both have prep work that can be done before you travel and pack your sewing tote. For now, it's hexagons. Always hexagons.

On a side note, I did go dish towel crazy! I ended up making five of them. I did one with hot air balloon fabric, with leftover red/white/blue binding, with an open cutwork piece I got at a yard sale, the one on the dish towel blog entry, and another one I can't remember. CRS syndrome. It was a fun thing to do. I had an old towel and never began to think about how many dish towels it would make. I just sort of started cutting and sewing. Sometimes, you just gotta do something off-the-cuff like that.

Happy sewing. I'll be traveling for the next several days. I have my hexagons all packed and ready to go with my little portable sewing kit. I'm hooked/doomed/addicted - however you want to classify it.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sewing again! Dish towel fun.

Two things:

First, it has been a while since I've been able to sew. I had a trigger finger and my carpal tunnel syndrome repaired. that meant that I had to hold off on doing any real sewing. I'm able to sew again and that makes me very happy.

Second, I need dish towels. Rather than run out and buy some, I decided to use an old bath towel that has seen better days. I cut out two pieces that were not damaged, serged the edges, and then tried to decide what to do. I had a smidgen of a cutter quilt left, so I cut out hearts and zig-zagged them onto the dish towel base. I try to make sure to sew over each old original seam; they're hand sewn and prone to come apart. Plus, these towels are going to be used and washed, so it's best to reinforce every seam I can.

I used a tight zig-zag stitch to applique the hearts in place and then applied Fray-Check for good measure.

I went through my leftover bias tape and found a length of red. I also zig-zagged that by machine and that was that.

Now I have a dish towel and one more blank ready to decorate. I have three more patchwork hearts, so I'll probably use those, but in a different arrangement somehow.

Lesson learned is that our bath towels are not dead when they're about ready to be retired. Take a look and see what you have. This was a quickie afternoon project, but you can make it as fancy or as simple as you like. The bottom line is that it's a true scrap project. I bought nothing. (I don't count the thread; I always have thread on hand and I wasn't as concerned about a 100% match for these.)

Now that I have a healed hand, I am finding I have a better than healed hand. I can hand sew again! In a very short while, I get to try embroidering again, and that makes me more than happy. I haven't embroidered for almost 30 years. And guess what? I have lots of old DMC floss, so I'll be scrap stitching then too!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A wondrous thought

It just dawned on me tonight that I may be able to hand embroider again after my hand heals. I had carpal tunnel and trigger finger surgery last Friday. I'm doing great, but it's amazing to me to think that it took me years to have this done. I have had symptoms of the dreaded carpal tunnel for 20 years, at least. It is 100% gone, even as I heal. It was gone when I came out from anesthesia. I hope to be cleared for sewing and scissors work next week when I get my stitches out. I am having withdrawal from my needle and thread!

P.S. Good thing I've never gotten rid of my basket of DMC floss!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fun craft that can be adapted in many ways!

Over on Crafting A Green World, they have posted a really cool way to use old embroidery hoops to make Easter eggs. But guess what? You could do this with any hoop, any fabric, any embellishment, and have a really cool item to hang on your wall or give as a gift. I always see these hoops at yard sales and know I have a few of my own. I hooped embroidered pictures many years ago and had just about forgotten this method of crafting.

Image used by permission courtesy of  Crafting A Green World

Think of three round hoops with your favorite fabrics, quilt blocks (who says all blocks have to be made into pillows?), photo printed fabric, a button art piece, or just about anything, and hang them on the wall in a triangle or straight trio of art.

You may want to follow Crafting a Green World's blog. They have some amazing ideas that tickle the gray matter and make you think "I can do that!" Lots of their ideas have been jumping off points for me and get me thinking about a variety of ways to create. Have fun with it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Oh, it is so time to sew!

I really, really need to sew. I have way too many ideas running around inside my head. I want to sew for my 18" dolls, for my great-niece (her dress is cut out and ready to rock and roll), for myself, for my home (I have a set of hand towels I'm working on that basically need to be sized/trimmed and edge finished), and just for fun.

I always have my hexagon quilt to work on. That's 100% hand sewing. i want to fire up the Bernina and get going!

I think my plan is to take advantage of my now semi-retired state. Sewing with Nancy used to tell us to make time to sew every day, even if it's only 15-20 minutes. I may not make it every day, but I'm going to shoot for a few days a week until I figure out my rhythm. My hand sewing has taught me patience; I do not need to finish everything lickety split! That should help with sewing in small spurts. My machine is set up (that's my machine in the picture) all the time and so is my ironing board. My in-progress pile has shrunken over the past months. I have no excuse. None. I need to just do it.

So, here's hoping I have more to share with you soon - how-to's, just stuff about what I'm sewing, pictures, or whatever. I finished Adam and Sandy's baby quilt. I'll take pictures of that in a day or so. It looks a lot like the progress photo, but now it's complete with hand made, bias ruffle binding. I could do a how-to of that, huh? Note to self: Do that!

Get to sewing everyone!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Scrap stitching - sort of - Handbag out of an old book!

I saw this link on Crafting for a Green World and thought some of you might enjoy giving it a try. You use fabric and an old book to make a purse. Fun idea, huh?

Hop over to Curbly and check out the tutorial.

Feel free to share your scrap stitching ideas for stuff!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New project added - gift tags

Years ago, I worked on a site called SewingWeb. I don't think it's still with us, but that's another story for another day. I did several projects when I had the site and am sharing one with you today. It's a simple way to use fabric, Wonder Under, and some string/yarn/ribbon that you have around the house.

Use this as a jumping off point. Let your imagination take hold and use the concept for greeting cards, embellished stationery, putting a new bit of artwork on a used greeting card, business cards, name tags or any other paper/fabric fusing you can think of.

Take a peek. It's gift tags!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Another baby quilt! Brian and Joanna

Another nephew's wife is about to give birth. This time, they know it's a boy! I made a quilt for their first baby out of an old quilt from one that dad's mother had made. This time I'm doing something different. Here's a graphic representation. It will be made of 3-1/2" hexagons using Michael Miller's Krystal blue and read, as well as a beautiful hot air balloon fabric. I'll start it as soon as I get home from vacation. I can't wait to get going!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Adam and Sandy's baby quilt almost done

So, I changed my mind and didn't do the Dresden Plate quilt I had originally planned. I started really working on it and decided to go with a primary color Log Cabin design that would work for a boy or a girl. Adam is a big Eagle's fan, so the background fabric is their logo and the back of the quilt is made from this as well.

I posted an "'almost done" item on Facebook and here's the result:

I tagged both Sandy and Adam on purpose. Lil stinker, ain't I?

I am working on a binding that includes a ruffle made of Eagles fabric. I had to add a ruffle after I found out the baby is a girl.

For their younger daughter, I'm making a Smurf's dress and rehabbing an 18" doll and dressing her in essentially the same dress. I have the daughter's dress cut out and ready to go, but it's not quite ready for prime time, and I have to figure out what to do with the doll's hair.

And to add even more interest to it all, another nephew is having a baby in July, a boy. What to do, what to make? Eeep!

This is indeed a scrap project, by the way. I had the primary colors. I keep a stash of Michael Miller's jewel fabrics for all sorts of sewing. I did buy the Eagles fabric, but you can't recycle all the time! Plus, this thing will be washed a lot. I make baby quilts to use and abuse.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mug mats gone awry!

I started a mug mat project. I wanted to give a friend of mine a little something for a favor she had done. I picked out some vintage quilt top, muted batik backing, and some batting, and got ready to get going.
I used a glass for a pattern and then cut 1/4" around that. The blue line is disappearing ink. Love that stuff. Here's where I made my first error. The circle should have been about an inch or more larger. 

I made a sandwich of backing wrong side up, batting, and quilt piece right side up and reinforced the seams of the vintage quilt top with a zig-zag stitch. 

I had some blue bias binding left over from another project and began to stitch it in a 1/4" seam on the right side of the mat. It was about now that I realized this was not going well and the mat itself may not lie flat due to its size. 

I folded the bias binding to the back and hand stitched the reverse side. As you can see in the photos below, I had almost cup shaped mats!

They're cute, but not even close to what I intended to make. 

I actually tossed them aside and then decided to dig them out of the trash and make a mini wall hanging. I got some white ribbon and made a loop for the top and attached each circle to the ribbon. 

You can see where I made a "fringe" of extra ribbon on the bottom for a touch of fun.

So, no mug mats for my friend, but a tiny wall hanging for me and some lessons learned. A 4" square of fabric does not make a good sized circle mug mat. I will try again for sure. I have three vintage quilt tops to play with. I can make bias binding in my sleep. And batting? I have enough to keep an army warm. 

If you're interested in trying your own hand at mug mats/mug rugs, here are a couple links to patterns and one link to binding instructions. I'll have to read over these myself before I try to make another set!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Just a little sewing

I've been doing a bit of sewing here and there and finally finishing a few things. I changed my mind about the baby quilt noted below, but you'll have to wait to see what I ended up putting together. I used the fabrics (other than the backing) that I said I would, but well, it's not done yet. 

Today, I started working on some mug mats. All I have left to do on those is the binding. I'll post the pictures in a sort of tutorial after I get the photos ready to go.

The one thing I did finish was a tiny little drawstring bag. My husband had asked me to make a velvet drawstring bag for a firearm part he wanted protected. I don't have any velvet, but I do have fleece! this was a quickie project, but it'll work fine for storing the cylinder he needed to have it for. I thought it was cute enough to photograph, so there you have it.

I'm about to be semi-retired (after May 31), so I'm looking toward my stash and dreaming of sewing projects that I've been putting off. Oh yeah! Etsy, watch out. I'm getting ready to get my sewing act together again. 

How's your scrap stitching going?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New project!

My nephew and his lady are having another baby. I love it when my relatives have babies. That means I get to design another quilt. I know that daddy is a Philadelphia Eagles fan, so working in that fabric was a no brainer. But my challenge is what to make that would be boy or girl suitable? I've mulled over it for weeks, and here's a rough sketch of what I came up with:

It's a Dresden Plate pattern. The gray portions will be Eagles fabric. The red/orange/yellow/green/blue/violet fabrics are from the Krystal Collection/Michael Miller. I love those fabrics because they're striking and yet muted, and I keep a stash of ROYGBV on hand for placemats, backgrounds for pictures, or whatever calls for a color of the rainbow. I happen to get mine at the Fat Quarter Shop.  They're great to work with and their prices are fair. 

The wedges in the plate will alternate pointed tips and rounded. The center circle will be the Eagles fabric too. I have some baby hands fabric for the back. It's a flannel and beautifully colored. It looks like this:

I am ready to get started and can't wait to see how it turns out. I'll post a Dresden Plate tutorial as I go along. I'm using a pattern from Patterns from History and have changed the design ever so slightly. You'll see!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beauty in a button

I thought I'd share this little piece with you. Again, it's not really sewing or stitching, but it is done with scraps.

I was lucky enough to get ownership of my mother's button box. In it are buttons that were bought, came with sweaters as an extra, came off of bathrobes or blouses, and various and sundry others. I remember as a young child sitting on the floor and playing with the buttons in the button tin. I have no clue how many hours I sorted, matched, and in general played with the bits of plastic, wood, and metal.

One day, I was looking through the button tin recently and decided I needed to do something with some of them. I found a frame that I wasn't using, took out the cardboard, and glued a nice piece of recycled denim on it. Then I scoured through the hundreds of buttons for just the right ones. I settled on 9 that may or may not go together, depending on your eye at the time you see it. I know the white one in the right upper corner is from a bathrobe. The others, I'm not sure. I used a fabric glue that dries clear to put the buttons on, and let it set overnight. The next day, I put the frame back together (including the glass cover) and voila - a nice piece for the sewing room.

Got a button box? A frame? Some denim or other background fabric? Sit down by yourself or with your kids and make a fun piece or a pair.

I'm not sure why, but I sure like the way it looks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Life, quilting, and scraps of thought

A lot has happened in my life lately, much of it in the realm of life-changing events. My best pal, Lindsey, pictured on the left, took ill and ended up being euthanized a few days later. What we didn't know was that she had cancer all throughout her body. My companion of 11 years is now resting peacefully, and we're still sorting through the loss of our "empty nest dog." The same night, my husband's mother died in her sleep. She had been extremely ill for years and though it is not easy, we were prepared. That event put a lot of activity in motion, culminating with her funeral a week ago. Prior to all of this, I had knee replacement surgery on January 19, and have been recovering beautifully. That includes a lot of at home therapy followed by outpatient physical therapy. To say the least, it's been a busy time.

Part of what I have done to maintain my sanity through this all is to sew. I've mentioned before that I'm making a hexagon scrap quilt. It will be about 2000 pieces when it's done, each one hand sewn. I'm in my second year of working on it. I tend to pick it up when life gets too busy and I need to rest my psyche. I've done a lot of that lately. Every stitch is combined with a thought or two, every pairing of hexagons is filled with a moment of my pondering, and the whole of the project is filled with wistfulness and love. The making of this quilt will span two knee replacements, the passing of friends and family, and other memorable events. When it is completed, it will be seen as something that keeps you warm by most people, but by me, I will be taken back to this time in life in happy and not so happy ways. I should call it my sanity quilt, but I'll come up with something more uplifting at another time.

Life's short, my friends. Get out there and sew something, make a memory, or just relax a bit with needle and thread and your own outlet. Turn a batch of scraps into something beautiful or something to wear or something with which to decorate your walls. That unfinished project won't get done without its most important "ingredient" - you.

Live and be grateful.

ScrapStitching is coming back online and I hope to bring more projects and ideas  your way. If you have anything you'd like me to sew or to try, let me know and I'll do my best.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Short hiatus

I spent this morning hemming sweat pants to 3/4 length rather than full length, adding a touch of embellishment, and cleaning/organizing my sewing area. I'll be away from sewing for a while, probably two or three months. 

I'm not really going fishing, though. I just love the concept. I'll be getting my knee replaced. This is a good thing! But there is a long road of rehab and recovery ahead, so I won't be updating the site during that time.

Think of it as sitting by the ocean with a line in the surf, and throw back all the fish you catch so you can wile away more than a few hours.

See you when I get back!