Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Christmas gift making has begun!

Project #20 was a small cosmetics bag for weekend travel. No pattern, just measured an old one and stitched it up.

I used beautiful Sassaman fabrics and did some free motion quilting. I love it!


Project #21 is a nightgown for next summer or a warm trip to Mexico this winter.

At my local fabric store, I saw this very soft, organic cotton knit and thought it would be perfect for a nightgown and I couldn’t find a nice one to buy.


This was Kwik Sew #3943 which I saw online but then couldn’t find it at Joann’s to buy the pattern. I would think that Joann’s would carry it since Kwik Sew is owned by Simplicity…but no!  I could have ordered it and waited for a week to get it but I thought I’d do the instant pattern download so I could start right away.

Well, that was an experience that I don’t want to go through again! This simple pattern consisted of a front, back, sleeve and neck/sleeve facings. It took 55 sheets of paper to print this and then I had to tile it up in 5 columns of 11 sheets each….overlap it 1/8 inch and tape it all over! That took a good bit of time and who has the space on a table for that? I had to do it in sections. And then when I was done, I cut out the individual pieces but you know regular paper is too stiff and you can’t see through it like pattern tissue. For $8 next time I will order it and wait!


The neck detail had these nice 1/4 inch tucks. When I tried it on, the neckline was too big so I tightened it up by adding 3 tucks to each of the sleeve pieces at the neckline.  Then it was good.  The sleeve was long and it had tucks at the bottom edge of it but I cut the sleeves to elbow length and eliminated those. It’ll be great for warmer weather!


So, Christmas gift sewing began in September! Here is a fancy vest that I made for my youngest son. He doesn’t read my blog, I’m sure!

It’s a Vogue men’s pattern and I bought the purple in Boston on a college visit but forgot about it. Then I had some black silk satin for the trim and made covered buttons.  The bottom photo in the sun shows the color and shine and details better.


I also sewed more Xmas gifts but not sure I should reveal them too early or my friends won’t be surprised with their gifts!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Yo Yo Elephant toy


Project #19

So last week we flew to Oahu which was a 13 hour flight (boo hoo, I know) so I thought I better take a hand sewing project to kill time. Making 70 yo yos seemed like the perfect small hand sewing thing for an airplane.

I wanted to make this elephant toy from the scraps of the elephant quilt that I made this Feb for the same baby. This pattern is from Indygo Junction and they have many great yo yo toy patterns. You may remember last summer’s post where I made two yo yo monkeys for baby gifts.

This time I thought I’d be smart and pre cut all the circles with my handy Olfa circle cutter, which I LOVE!  It is so fast and easy and the circles were cut in no time!


The problem was that the pattern gives instructions on making yo yos with the Clover yo you maker and how to make them without it. I love the Clover tool because it is fast, easy and the yo yos come out perfect every time!

But instead of looking at the tool, I cut out the size circles that the pattern said for hand sewing without the tool. I packed them all in a zip loc bag and flew away.

Well I discovered that all the circles were too small to use the Clover tool because the fabric has to be about 1/4” bigger all around the circle tool and these were exact or smaller!!  UGH! What to do?

Image result for clover yo yo

I only had so much scrap fabric left over and I cut most of it for this toy. Plus now I was thousands of miles away from home.  My plan was to make the yo yos in Hawaii or flying and then go home for 4 days and assemble the elephant before seeing the baby. Why didn’t I cut one and then check it with the Clover tool?

So, I ended up hand sewing yo yos in the evenings and just eyeballing the spacing. They came out ok but with a little variance in size of the finished yo yos.  But it got done with the fabric I had!

I highly recommend this Clover tool. I have every size and it is so much fun. I think this will be my go-to hand sewing project for air travel.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wedding quilt gift


Project #18

Finally I can show this quilt that I finished in February. It’s for the wedding of the son of our good friends and I didn’t want the bride to see it before she receives it. 

When I found out last year that they were engaged, I offered to make a quilt for their sofa and she chose this design and fabric. The fabric is designed by Lotta Jansdottir and at the time was two years old. Well, you know that it was difficult to find all of the fabrics. I searched all the usual internet fabric sites and etsy and every store that carried this fabric originally!  It took a long time but I found all but two of them….enough to give it the same look that she wanted. I substituted the missing two with the gray with white dots and the light gray and white floral but it all works. Thank goodness I found a 3 yard piece of the turq check for the backing.

I did this quilt and the elephant one plus an Xmas one at the February quilt guild retreat over a weekend. You sure can get a lot done when all you do is sew, eat and sleep and no phone service!


Simple irregular graph quilting and a special label.  The bride didn’t know I selected this one from her suggestions to make so I hope she likes it!  We will see this weekend!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Swag bag Sassaman Style

Project #17

After organizing all my fabric, I decided that I needed to do something with all the patterns that I own.  While sorting them into boxes by type (tops, bottoms, jackets, accessories….)  I ran into this Swag Bag by Square Rose pattern that I bought ages ago and I could visualize it in the Sassaman Prairie Chic fabric line that I’ve been storing in my stash. So I dropped everything and started cutting this out.

Flat Bag Cover 2-up


So the first side, I quilted in a simple diagonal with blue variegated thread but found it too boring.


On the other side I had this fabulous thorny vine pattern that just begged to be quilted. I wanted to continue the lines onto the pink side so I traced them onto paper. Then I placed that paper pattern on the pink side so I could continue the lines and stitched right over the paper.

Here is my ‘bright’ idea for tracing at night when there is no light coming thru the window. I placed the fabric on my computer monitor with a blank page of Word open and then taped paper over it and used a sharpie marker.


This pattern is very well written and not hard to do. It took me two evenings to complete this.  I love the details where I zig zagged the seams and the bias on the curve and on the handles. 


The pattern calls for two pockets inside but I just put one and one on the outside.

I really needed another bag (NOT!) but I am very happy with it and will use it. I may put a rectangle hard plastic on the bottom. Anything in Jane Sassaman fabric is guaranteed to be gorgeous!  I’m a BIG fan!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


This time I was determined to make an artsy piece.

I wanted to dye some PFD pimatex quilting cotton so I cut off a yard by 45”. The size of the piece you can dye is determined by the size of the bucket and rack that you can find.

I found one of these storage containers at Target that is 35.5” long and the key is that it is not so deep. I wish I had a 45” wide pan that was shallow so I could do pieces larger than a yard at one time. Then you need to find grids that the fabric can sit on. Lynn found baking sheet cooling racks at the restaurant supply store and they fit perfectly on top of this container.

If you can’t find racks, then maybe you can do this with foil to keep the fabric off the bottom.


After soaking the fabric in soda ash for 20 minutes, I accordian pleated it neatly onto the rack.


I set out all my colors with plastic spoons.


This took 6 trays of soda ash ice cubes and it could have used a bit more ice. But I think next time I will just use regular ice and load it up.

Again the dye was generously sprinkled on the ice. I think you can see I sprinkled it straight from one long edge to the other….top to bottom in this picture.  I started in the middle with dark purple and then used, cobalt, turq, lavender,avocado on each side of it.  Next I put foil on top and let it sit for 24 hrs before washing out…..and voila!


I’m pretty happy with it. Next I’ll try some rayon bamboo knit that I can turn into a top/tunic. This Procion MX dye gives vibrant colors and is easy to use.

Here are the beautiful scarves that Lynn did. She has great color sense!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Ice dyeing in the Summer

I saw a you tube video on ice dyeing and it looked rather easy. My friend Lynn had lots of dyes that she had never used and some rayon bamboo scarves that were already hemmed. The scarves are from Dharma Trading that has everything for textile dyeing and painting!

We did this in my garage in case it made a mess and because we needed to let it sit overnight without being disturbed by dog or children.

We had to start a week early because we had to make special soda ash ice cubes. I mixed 1 cup of soda ash with 1 gallon of water and then filled up the ice cube trays. But of course my 2 freezers are full so I had to put in 2 trays and let them freeze overnight and then stack 2 more trays on top the next day.

On dyeing day, we took our scarves that are 5” x 60 “ and soaked them in a bucket of soda ash and water for 20 mins. After wringing them out , we arranged them onto a rack over a pan. I used a disposable aluminum pan and a grid that I found at Dollar General, my new favorite haunt. The grid  was probably for use on the grill but any kind of rack will do.

We held the soaked scarf at the narrow end and let it hang down. Then we pulled it up in our hands and pleated in like an accordion and placed it on top of our grid over our pan.


Then we covered it well with the soda ash ice cubes. I used 3 trays but Lynn didn’t have enough and used some regular ice cubes and I think it’s fine.


Next we took plastic spoons and sprinkled the dye powder onto the cubes. We used the wonderful Procion MX dyes from Jacquard Products. We were very generous with the dye and probably put on too much.


I also feel that I used too many colors while Lynn used less and all shades of blue mostly.



Next we put some saran wrap over them and let them sit for 24 hours.


The next day we took them to the sink and rinsed them out in cold water and then in hot water for what seemed like hours since dye was still coming out of the piece.  We then put the scarves in a bucket of hot water and a teaspoon full of Synthrapol and let it sit for an hour.  Then more rinsing and a cycle of the washer and dryer.  And voila!


To me, mine was too rainbow tie-dye looking but Lynn, who is a painter, made 2 mastepieces!


And so, I’m making more soda ash ice cubes to try again! Will post results but it was easy and fun! I like the serendipitous nature of this and want to try SNOW DYEING!  But not too soon, Winter was brutal last year!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015



Living in Columbus, Ohio we are lucky to have the Quilt Surface Design Symposium here every June for 2 weeks. They bring in the best textile teachers in the world for wonderful classes.  And it’s only a 15 minute drive for me!


A few weeks ago, I took Sue Cavanaugh’s class with a few friends and it was really interesting. Above are the samples we made.

Sue is one of the best shibori artists in the world and she lives here in Columbus also. I’ve seen her work at shows and have always admired it but was intimidated to start my first dyeing class with such a renowned artist.But that soon disappeared as she is a very friendly, fun teacher who makes this seem easy.




This purple piece is my favorite and it was the easiest with just rows of running stitches done with thick beading cord and then tied up tightly( as shown below) before dropping into a bucket of dye.


Since I haven’t dyed much, I was experimenting with mixing colors and what you see is not what you get in the end. Many were trying to make the traditional indigo dye color and that was blue with some black dye added. The dye bath is always darker than what the fabric color dries to.

For me, the hardest part was pulling the thread through the Pimatex tightly woven fabric with my arthritic fingers. A friend gave me some lawn to try and that was better. Then I changed to a finer needle and some less thick button thread and that improved it a bit more. I think I need to experiment with diff needle and thread combos until I find one that is not too much strain on my fingers.  Also, I’d like to try shibori with silk and that should be much easier to stitch.

My grand plans are to shibori some silk and then make a simple blouse and to do three huge cotton panels and sew them into a king size comforter/quilt but I better start small first.

It is always good to take classes and try new techniques to further your creativity and I highly recommend QSDS classes for next June.



A very simple dress for a gift for a friend. I’ve made many of these dresses. It starts with a store bought t-shirt that is cut about 4 inches above the waist.

Then you get 2 yards of fabric from your stash for the skirt. I cut two panels 31-36” by the 45” width of fabric and sew them along the selvage to make the side seam. Press the seam open and then I gather the top edge using my BERNINA #16 gathering foot.

I love love this foot because you just put the fabric under it and go and it gathers up the fabric….no pulling two threads to gather! The longer the stitch length, the more gathers you get. It’s a huge time saver!


After I gathered up the entire top edge of about 90 inches, I was ready to attach the skirt to the knit top. First I matched the side seam of the skirt to the side seam of the shirt and pinned.  I left 3 inches on each side of the opposite side seam of the shirt unpinned. I sewed across the top attaching the skirt to the top and then stopped short. Held the two sides of the skirt together and estimated where to sew that side seam and stitched it down to hem, trimmed and pressed it open. Then I continued to attached the gathered top edge to the remaining 6 inches of the shirt.

After that you just need to hem it and I used the blind hem stitch and foot to match, of course!  It’s a very fast dress to make and only takes maybe two hours.  You can make it easily for a child and you can also use a woven shirt that buttons in the front as long as you cut it above the waist and it’s roomy enough to pull over your bust.


Some good friends of mine took two years and went all over the world, decades ago when they were in their twenties. It was a fascinating trip and their stories are so interesting! I wish I had the guts to do something like that!  They just gifted me with this incredible bag from China.


As you can see, it is 3-dimensional applique. Much hand embroidery on it and it seems to be lined with newspaper…? I don’t plan on washing it so it should stay pristine. It’s just so much work and skill for probably very little income for some craftsman.

But I just love the whimsy of the bugs on this and the frog’s open mouth! It’s a very special gift!