Friday, December 9, 2011

There's still time!

Each year, when the December calendar hits double digits, I start to get a little bit nervous. I count the days left to Christmas and then count the number of gifts I still have to make. I normally have plenty of fingers to count the days left, but I run out of fingers when tallying up how many gifts I have left to make. H-m-m. Have you noticed that, too?

Here's a quick little idea for a fun-to-make sewing gift. These cute little flower pot pin cushions are so easy - I bet you have time to make a couple! Be sure to make one for yourself, too!

Run out to the craft store and pick up some supplies. You'll need a 1-1/2" diameter clay pot, a glue gun, an Olfa circle cutter or make a 2-1/2" diameter circle template - you can also raid your stemware cabinet - I bet you have a wine or juice glass that is just about the right size. You'll also need a miniature button, needle and thread (regular thread and pearl cotton), and some leftover batting or fiber fill. To make mini flowers, add pearlized pins to your shopping list. And dig out your felted wool scraps.

Then go into your ScrapTherapy scrap fabric bins (naturally) and choose four 2" scrap squares and one 3-1/2" scrap square. The 2" scraps should coordinate, but the 3-1/2" square doesn't have to be matchy-matchy; it will not be visible in the end product. Make a four-patch from the four 2" scraps.
Two four-patches, one sewn, and one pre-sewn.

Cut a circle from the four-patch, centering the seam intersection. If you are not using the circle cutter, trace the circle onto the four-patch and cut out with scissors.

Place the four-patch circle right sides together on the 3-1/2" scrap square. Sew a scant 1/4" seam around the edge of the circle, leaving about an inch or so unsewn for turning.

Trim extra fabric from the larger square, and turn inside out. Stuff with leftover batting or fiber fill. Don't be shy with the stuffing! Sew opening closed by hand with a whip stitch. Neatness isn't terribly critical to close the opening, but try to maintain the circle shape.

Thread your needle with pearl cotton and knot the end. Starting from the bottom, pull the thread up from the back and through the center of the four-patch. Then pull the thread around the side of the cushion and back up from the the bottom in the middle. Pull thread tight. Turn the cushion, one quarter turn, then repeat pulling the thread up from the back three more times, pulling tightly each time. The cushion should be nice and "poofy." Secure the button over the center of the four-patch. End with the thread in back, and knot.

Next put some batting scraps in the bottom of the clay pot.

Add a bead of hot glue along the inside rim of the clay pot, then position the four-patch cushion in place. It will be a little larger than the mouth of the pot, so squish it into place gently hiding the side seams. Work quickly while the glue is still warm.

To make flower pins, cut small flower and leaf shapes from felted wool and stick them onto a pearlized pin, layering one or two flower petals, then a leaf. Place a small bead of hot glue between the bottom flower petal layer and the leaf layer, then press toward pin head

And that's it. Ready for gift giving!

Now, how many more do I have left to make. . .

Happy holiday crafting!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's Casserole Season!

First off, a big thank you to my hostesses last weekend when I visited Gananaque, Ontario, Canada for a quilt technique workshop. We had a great day filled with scrappy quilt techniques. The day before the workshop, I arrived in Canada and couldn't wait to go visit the two host shops!

First, a quick stop at Wilton Creek Fabrics in Harrowsmith, Ontario revealed a wonderful array of fabrics and notions to delight any quilter. Shelly Lasalle and I selected some holiday prints featuring red cardinals so I could make a Hopper Topper later that evening.

The top was finished in an hour or so, and I'm sure, by now, she's done some beautiful quilting to finish it up. Dress up your holiday table or give a handmade gift - you must go buy a kit! The project looks something like this one, but her kits are even prettier and much more Christmas-y!

If you don't live near Shelly, ask your local quilt shop if they have any Hopper Topper kits. The patterns are available now!

Then I scurried off to Picket Fence Fabrics in beautiful Brockville, Ontario, right on the St. Lawrence River! No time for sight seeing, besides it was already too dark to take photos, you'll just have to take my word for it - or better still, go see for yourself! What a great shop full of fabric treats!

While at Picket Fence Fabrics, owner Jennifer Hodge showed me her demo for a Furoshiki Wrap. One and one-quarter yards of fabric, that's all you need to make a great hostess gift, perfect for holiday parties!

Carry holiday purchases, wrap a gift, or tote a pot luck casserole. A few folds, add some twists and knots, and your fabric becomes a fabulous wrap, then open it up to create a festive table topper for the hostess' table!

Here's what you do.

Cut a 40" square from your fabric. Then fold the edges under about 1/4" a couple of times and topstitch to make a hem. You're done with the sewing part!

I like to fold each corner in about an inch, then fold the edges over the corner fold to make a mini miter.

Fold the fabric in half along the diagonal, right sides together.

Then knot the folded corners.

Turn the fabric right side out, and place knots 'inside' the bag.

Then place your casserole on the bottom of the bag. If your casserole is hot from the oven, place a couple of batting scraps underneath the casserole for insulation to protect the table or counter top.

Pull the un-knotted corners up and make a generous square knot, creating two 'tails.'

Twist each tail tightly and make a square knot at the very end to make a handle, and away you go!

To make a hobo bag, Follow the same process to make the triangle, knot the corners, and turn right side out. Pull remaining corners up and make a square knot to create a slouchy shoulder bag.

With small variations in the placement of the knots and folds, the possibilities are endless!

Enjoy holiday fun!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Got an hour or two?

By now, maybe you've discovered that there's a free pattern available for download on the Hummingbird Highway website. If not, by all means, go download it!

For reasons way too complicated to describe here, I decided to handle the bag corners a little differently from most patterns you've probably seen. To make a long story short, I wanted to make a quick  & easy tote bag, use scraps, hide all raw edges, box the corners without creating extra bulk inside the bag.

Here's a walk through, step-by-step.

First, make the parts. I know it's hard to see from this picture, but the bubbly-looking purple stuff is my lining and handles. The pieced elements are folded up a bit to avoid having a gianormous picture.

Sew each lining to each scrap panel, pillowcase style. Turn, then close the opening. Place a ruler on the scrappy side of the panel with the 1" mark on the ruler aligned with the first scrap row. Fold the the top edge to meet the ruler to make a cuff. Press with a steam iron.

Open the cuff, and place the raw end of the handle right up against the cuff fold, so the inside of the handle is lined up with the scrap seam. Once both handle ends are in place, fold the cuff back into place, and fold handle over top of the cuff, then pin.

Topstitch across each cuff edge. 

Place the bag sides right sides together. Pin and sew 1/4" seam across bottom of bag, starting and stopping 1/4" from each end. 

To make the folded corner. With the bag upside down fold front side of bag so edge aligns with bottom, forming a 45˚ angle.

Fold back side to the bottom, creating a point.

Place a pin 2" from the point (blue pin).

Then fold fabric back on itself, right sides together and pin along side of bag (yellow pins).

Sew along side from the bottom fold (red arrow) to top edge of bag.

Repeat for folding and sewing for remaining side and turn bag inside out.

There you have it! Ready to fill with goodies!

Here's a fun idea: Use Halloween scraps and a ghoulish lining for a fun Treat Bag for Trick-or-Treating. You may wish to shorten the handle for younger tricksters.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Leapin' Labor Day!

As the summer winds down, my husband and I headed to Lake Placid, New York for the long weekend. Located in the High Peaks section of the Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid was home to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games.

Mirror Lake
While most of the Northeast received a second round of late summer rain, Lake Placid greeted the long holiday weekend with overcast, but clearing skies. So, off we went to see some of the sights.

Beautiful Mirror Lake is adjacent to the village shopping strip. Just for kicks, we went into the bookstore on the main drag. "Let's see if they have my book," I said. Dave laughed. But looky what we found!!

Next, we headed to the ski jumps. A couple young men were practicing ski jumping off the 90 meter jump. Yes! Ski jumping in the summer! The mountain is fitted with specially designed wavy acrylic strips - they look a little like stiff green bristles on a broom. The strips are layered on the mountain - like a thatched roof - and sprayed with water to simulate snow. This video is really grainy, but you get an idea of the material on the mountain side.

Thinking this looked like a piece of cake, Dave and I headed up the elevator to the top of the 120 meter jump. Yikes! No doubt about it, it takes a special kind of person to strap skis on the bottom of his or her feet, point them down the hill, and let go. We took the elevator back down. Maybe we'll try the skis another day. . . NOT!

120 meter ski jump, the view from the top.
Village Comforts, unique fabrics and pottery
Of course, Lake Placid has a quilt shop, too. The weekend wouldn't be complete without buying a little (or a lot, in this case) fabric as a souvenir!

Lovely late summer flowers.
Once home, and back to the quilty tasks at hand, I set out for Moravia, New York, located at the southern tip of Owasco Lake in the Finger Lakes to do a presentation for the Piece Makers Guild. Great fun.

Did you know that Moravia has a historical claim to fame? Millard Filmore, 13th president of the United States was born there. I was informed that he was the first to install a bathtub in the White House. . . Who knew?

Scrappy travels to you!

Friday, August 26, 2011


That's the sound of the month of August flying right by! Seems like late summer has been filled with travel, lots of new and old friends and faces, and, of course, quilt shops!

First stop: Ontario, Canada for a distributor Open House at QuiltSource Canada. Nearby, a quick trip to The Hobby Horse Quilt Shoppe, a beautiful destination shop in a converted pig barn nestled in rural Georgetown, about an hour outside of Toronto. Every inch of wall space, even the angled ceiling is covered with quilt samples, fabrics and quilty things.
Inside, the barn is chock full of quilty goodies.

With a name like 'Hobby Horse' you know a few shop mascots are available to greet you!

The Hobby Horse owner, Gail, and grandson, Quinn.

Next Stop: Ohio! For Checker Distributors Open House. But first, a stop at The Quilt Foundry for a trunk show and book-signing.

Whimsical Fish are a recurring theme at The Quilt Foundry.
What a fun place! Everyone seemed to have a good time for the presentation.

In its earlier days, this building was a manufacturing facility for Oleo packaging. New owners Lisa and Rich Spalding have added their personality to the building, as well as lots of fabric, notions, patterns, and a sizeable classroom.

The town of Maumee, Ohio threw a parade (how did they know I was coming?) on the same day of my visit. So limited parking was even more so on this sunny August day. No matter for us quilters!

Next, on to Archbold, Ohio, and Sauder Village. An entire village of original homes and businesses have been moved to this site to preserve Ohio's small-town history. Here's the General Store, located next to the museum. The museum features all sorts of vintage farm equipment, automobiles, and tools.

Embedded right in the museum, you will find Threads of Tradition. A lovely quilt shop that seems perfectly suited for its historical setting.

An easy transition, museum to quilt shop!

Hey! Lookie, lookie! I can meet me!
On the frame and ready for some hand-quilting!

If that was August, can't wait to see what September brings! D'ya think I should do a little sewing?

Sunny summer greetings to you! If you live along the US East Coast beware of Hurricane Irene, and stay safe.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Floating Castle

On Friday, with the long weekend ahead of us, and beautiful summer weather predicted, I suggested a quick trip to the 1,000 Islands to my husband, Dave. So, yesterday, after a two-hour drive, camera, and tickets in hand, we boarded the three and one-half hour tour from Alexandria Bay to Dark Island, and Singer Castle, the 'hunting lodge' of Commodore Frederick Bourne, the 5th President of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. (You knew, there was going to be some connection to sewing, didn't you?) 

Dark Island ahead
We passed a small handful of the 1,800 Islands dotting the St. Lawrence Seaway to reach our destination. As you approach the island you certainly get the feel of living on a grand scale.
Singer Castle on Dark Island

Four bells, complete with Westminster Chimes.
The mansion, built in the early 1900's, maintains many of its original furnishings and displays several full suits of armor, well-kept antiques, and beautiful furnishings in a stone castle built in medieval style.
The Breakfast Room, surrounded by windows.

Vintage Singer Sewing Machines, many of them treadle machines,  are on display throughout the mansion. Large windows offer splendid views and let in refreshing river breezes and sunlight.

A classic


Ornate detail
It's easy to imagine transporting yourself to a different era on these grounds.

Turret office. Small but functional.
Turret Office. Is that an iPad?

Entrance to Swan Pond on Heart Island
And, of course, on the return trip to Alex Bay, we made a quick stop at Heart Island the location of the famed Boldt Castle. Work began on the castle in the late 1800's/early 1900s by George Boldt, dedicated to his wife Louise. Work stopped when Louise died suddenly, and the castle was and still is incomplete. In the mid-1970s, the Thousand Island Bridge Authority became owner, and began restoring and finishing parts of the castle according to original plans. Much of the main floor is now finished, with carved wood paneling, marble stairway, and leaded-glass domed ceiling.
Bedroom on second floor. Move me in!

Hope you enjoyed the mini-tour.

Happy 4th of July!