Holiday Crafts Coming Soon!

Now that Halloween is over, I will be teaching three Christmas crafts.

But first, C&T reached out to offer a discount to my readers who want to take the Handmade Holiday Bazaar class online. It caught my interest because one of the presenters is Laura Wasilowski, and I’ve very much enjoyed her classes in the past. Also, I recently took another class on C&T’s Creative Spark platform and was pleased with it.

So I accepted the discount code for you, but declined the commission for me since I don’t want to “monetize” my blog. Here’s a link to the info on the class, which will also apply your discount: Handmade Holiday Bazaar.

NOTE: When you click on the link, you will see the regular price, but the coupon is at the top of the page, and when you click through to buy the class the discount will be shown before checkout.

And now on to the classes I’m teaching locally!  You can get the schedule for these and other classes on the Studio Stitch website, here.

Christmas Cactus Block

I made a pillow from a single block, but if you don’t need any more pillows you could make multiple blocks for a quilt–I think it would be beautiful! The class will be held November 10.

Pincushion

This is a quick-and-easy (and inexpensive) class for something that would make a great gift for quilty friends.

Pincushion made in a vintage cup with saucer

This class will be on December 1.

Christmas Tree Napkins

This is another fun (and inexpensive) class. We use these napkins every Christmas, and they would make a great hostess gift as well.

The class is December 8.

Let the crafting and sewing fun begin for whatever holidays you celebrate!

 

 

 

The Mountain Thread Company

While at the quilt show in Hickory I came across a new company and product I’d like to share with you.

I’ve made some of those rope baskets that have been popular off-and-on for several years now.

I used clothesline as advised in the instructions and lined the baskets, also as instructed.

However, The Mountain Thread Company folks have developed a new type of cord for this process and they have it manufactured right here in North Carolina. Katherine Lile, the owner, explained to me that the rope is 100% cotton and is a solid braid rather than the wrapped cord of clothesline. She emphasized that, because the new braided cord is sturdy, it’s important to use a denim needle with it.

Katherine holding her book. The headband in her hair is made with the company’s cord.

Indeed, I could feel the difference both in the cord and in the baskets made from it. The cord is about the size of clothesline, but both the cord and the baskets made from it are sturdier.

Katherine has written a book with projects using the cord. The surface of the cord is nicer than the clothesline I was using, so the baskets don’t need to be lined (thank you!).

A variety of small baskets made with the special cord. Notice that only part of the cord is wrapped. The spools in the background are a way to buy the cord in bulk.

Photo credit: The Mountain Thread Company

The cord also takes dye well. Look at the basket on the front of Katherine’s book, shown above. It appears that half the basket was dipped in dye! I love that idea since it reminds me of the way we used to glaze pots (in a former lifetime, I guess).

And look at this interesting basket made with a wide zigzag and no cloth wrap for the cord.

Naturally I had to buy some of Katherine’s cord to try. I came right home and made this little bowl.

My first bowl made with The Mountain Thread Company cord

I found the cord very easy to work with. Because it is solid, it looks good unwrapped, so I followed Katherine’s example of intermittent wrapping for interest rather than wrapping the whole thing as I had done with previous projects. I also used her idea of making a cute little loop at the top of the bowl.

If you’re interested, you can visit The Mountain Thread Company here. If you’ve never made a rope basket, check out the video tutorials, which can be accessed from the main menu at the top of The Mountain Thread Company’s home page. I watched all of them before I made my little bowl and found them useful.

Here are some of the kits

And if you want a little extra help, they sell kits with everything you need (even a denim needle) so you don’t have to guess how much cord to buy or hunt for supplies.

The Mountain Thread Company link

Let me know what you think!

As always, these opinions are my own and I received no incentive or compensation for this review. However, I am always happy to write about products I use, especially if they are local, so let me know if you have something that might interest my readers and me.

 

Happy Habitat House

The Gate City Quilt Guild, which I recently joined, makes little house quilts for the local Habitat for Humanity. Each family then gets a little quilt as part of the ceremony in which they take over their new house. Of course I wanted to make one, so here we go!

The quilts are approximately 12″ x 12″, so I began by cutting two 13″ squares of fabric, one for the front and one for the back. I recently read in Sue Bleiweiss’s latest book that she uses a wool-blend felt for the batting in her art quilts, so I gave that a try. I cut the felt 12″ x 12″.

This is the back

I turned the edges of the front fabric to the back, turned under the edges of the backing fabric, and edge stitched the 3 layers together. The felt “batting” was easy to work with and avoided the puffiness that can distort a quilt when using regular batting.

I used Heat n Bond Lite to fuse the door, windows, and roof to the house, then fused the house to the quilt top.

The finished quilt front

I added stitching to the grass and tree for texture, and to make rays from the sun to show sunshine falling on the house. I collect fun buttons, so I had a round one for the door knob and some little flowers for the yard.

The buttons were shank-type, so I had to make little holes in the quilt to push the shank through so they would lie flat. The felt batting was extremely stable, which helped a lot with this process. Here’s the back, showing the button shanks held in place with little pins.

Although I like my quilt, I must say that there are some very talented quilters in the group and some of the houses were more realistic than mine! I look forward to learning a lot from these ladies.

Quilt Stats:

Name: Happy Habitat House

Size: 12″ x 12″

Designed and made by me

I hope the family who receives the quilt will enjoy it, though of course it is unlikely to look like their real house!

2021 In My Studio

Good morning! I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday, whether religious or secular in nature. Here are most of the projects I’ve done this year:

Magic Kaleidoscope, 30″ x 30″

Practice for Charm Weave, 40″ x 40″

Mill Wheels, 51″ x 51″

Super Simple Squares, 52″ x 52″

Oriana, 47″ x 48″

Rumble In The Jungle, 54″ x 54″

Splendid Stars, 51″ x 53″

Sunrise, 75″ x 50″

HST Stars, 78″ x 53″

Fossil Fern Stars, 59″ x 44″

COVID swap block quilt, 55″ x 72″

Hayden and the bag he made

Fabric bowl, from the Modern Fabric Bowls book

Christmas napkins

And the Japanese Maple in the fall!

A Wedding Dress Memory Bear

My friend Kristine makes memory bears and recently made one from a wedding dress.

She also made a storage bag for the bear, using a large decoration from the dress to accent the bag

The dress was beautiful, but the owner especially wanted the bead and sequin trims saved.

The bride wearing the dress

Here’s a better view of some of the trim on the dress:

And here’s the bear coming out of her bag!

After consultation with the owner of the dress, Kristine selected two coordinating shades of upholstery velvet for the bear. Although you may not be able to see it, some of the beads from the dress are bronze/brown and coordinate very well with the velvet colors.

In addition to using much of the trim from the dress, Kristine made the bear a bouquet to carry from some of the roses on the dress.

This picture shows how well the brown beads coordinate with the bear’s colors

The two sides of the bear’s face are the same color, but because of the way velvet reflects light they look different in this picture

The owner of the dress was very pleased with her bear, which Kristine made twice as big as her usual memory bears to accommodate the trim successfully. The ears are lined with satin from the bodice of the dress.

I can’t imagine a quilt made from a wedding dress would be very practical, but I think a memory bear is perfect!

If you want more information on how she did this, Kristine says you can contact her:

Kristine Rimmey, kjrimmey@gmail.com

 

 

Memory Bears: The Memory Quilt Alternative

A friend recently started making memory bears. I had never heard of them and hers are so cute I just had to tell you about them.

Some of Kristine’s bears

She has made these using discarded clothing as well as yardage. She has also successfully used upholstery fabric for some different textures.

This bear was made from a flannel shirt

If you want to give it a try, here is the pattern she uses. It’s available from Studio Stitch. (If you don’t see it on their website, just phone them.)

If you want to know more, here is her contact information. I refer friends who want a memory bear to her, since making stuffed animals is not in my skill set!

Kristine Rimmey, kjrimmey@gmail.com

Next week I’ll tell you about a particularly spectacular memory bear she made from a wedding dress. Please stay tuned!

Let the Holiday Hints Begin!

It’s never too soon to start your holiday shopping, or holiday hinting! Here are a few of my favorite ideas.

Postcards: The Barack Obama Mini-Quilt Portrait Series. I was so happy to see this collection! I keep postcards on hand to write notes to friends and neighbors, and before I retired I used them to leave notes for colleagues as well. Available here. And I’m a big Obama fan, so these postcards hit the spot.

Photo courtesy of C&T

I didn’t know about the Social Justice Sewing Academy, so I’ll be following up on that.

Glue pen! This is a glue stick but of smaller diameter and therefore easier to use for holding seams in place.

A regular glue stick and a glue pen

I got an Avery glue pen for a class with Ann Holmes ages ago and still use it. If you don’t need something this small, the back-to-school sales always have glue sticks at a good price. Buy early for stocking stuffers!

Tote bag made from recycled water bottles. There are a lot of these available, and C&T has some printed with beautiful quilt motifs.

Photo courtesy of C&T

I use these for shopping and for transporting “stuff” to workshops and retreats. A friend recently started using them as wrapping when she gives a quilt as a gift. Available here.

4. IBC Silk Pins. These are the best. They are very thin and smooth, but strong enough to spring back when they bend a little going through fabric.

Photo courtesy of Hancocks-paducah.com

I used to buy them from Clotilde before that catalog disappeared. (IBC stood for “Imported by Clotilde”). They are now available from Hancock’s of Paducah (among other places), and since I buy my batting from Hancock’s it all works out!  Another good stocking stuffer for quilting friends, available here.

5. Spray mist bottle. I have two of these, one for water and one for Best Press. Although Best Press comes in an excellent spray bottle, the mist bottle is better at spreading the liquid evenly across the fabric when ironing. I love it! Available here.

6. Rolling storage. I’ve had a little rolling storage cart for years. It doesn’t seem very well made, but with the reinforcement my husband did it has held up quite well. Very convenient for storing notions and thread. The drawers are just the right size. Here’s a link to one like mine, but there are many variations. And be warned, the price varies a lot for identical products, so shop around.

7. Ergonomic rotary cutter.  I bought one of these for better control after cutting off a piece of my finger.

Photo courtesy of Connecting Threads

It’s also great for easing wrist and hand pain. Just be aware that changing the blade is different from what you’re used to. I love this rotary cutter! It comes in both left or right handed versions, available here.

8. Electric Quilt. This is not a small item price-wise, so all the more reason to request it as a special gift! I have used EQ to design quilts on my computer for years.

I used EQ to draw several possible layouts for my Tula Pink blocks

It’s easy to use and has many more features than I’ve ever learned. If you want to draw your own blocks, design your own quilts, or draw out quilts you see pictures of, this is an excellent program. Available here.

9. Gorgeous jigsaw puzzles. C&T recently put out a couple of 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles of Kaffe quilts. Beautiful! Available here.

10. Grippy. This is one of my favorite new products. At least, new to me. I’ve tried many different non-slip strategies for rulers and templates, and this is the best and most economical so far. After I tried it on one ruler, I just lined the others up on the porch and sprayed them all at once. It’s clear, it prevents slipping, and I still haven’t used up a whole can.

As always, the links above are for your convenience; I do not get paid if you buy from them. C&T provides products for me to review, but I put only my favorites in my blog.

 

 

Saved! Sort of.

Today is Grandparents’ Day, in case you didn’t know. So, along those lines…I’ve found things during our move that I swear I’ve never seen before, though of course that’s unlikely. One such item was a very large damask tablecloth, probably linen.

I thought it had belonged to my grandmother, who was very much into fancy tables. (We’re talking multiple sets of china, flatware, etc.) However, the monogram marked it as having belonged to my great-grandmother, Ida Miller Ownbey (1862-1923).

Despite the beauty of the cloth and the handwork, there were several holes in it, and too many Sunday dinner leftovers to save it.

I threw it in the trash.

THEN I needed to spray baste a small quilt. I retrieved the tablecloth and used it to cover the garage floor for the procedure. Ha!

I was so glad it wasn’t wasted. May we all be so useful at age 100!

 

Two Lovely Beginner Books

I am charmed by a couple of new little books for beginners in sewing or quilting.

Jump Into Patchwork and Quilting is an approachable introduction to quilting. It is not completely basic, as it assumes you have a sewing machine and know how to use it. However, it covers basic information about quilting, including fabric selection, batting, basting, and so forth.

I found the level of detail exactly right. For example, there is a well-illustrated explanation of how to use a rotary cutter safely, without getting into the eternal debate about whether it’s OK to use the lines on your mat for measuring.

The book begins with easy projects and proceeds to a final sampler quilt. This seems to me an encouraging way to teach a beginner to quilt, as these earlier projects can be completed fairly quickly. Here’s part of the Table of Contents showing some of the projects:

Photo courtesy of C&T

The final project is a typical beginner sampler quilt. It is done in cheerful colors and has a modern look while using some traditional prints. I like the combination, which should allow those drawn to both traditional and modern type quilts to enjoy the project.

Phot courtesy of C&T

The one additional thing I would have liked to see in this book is encouragement to allow for mistakes. There is the usual explanation of the importance of a consistent 1/4″ seam, but it would be nice to see acknowledgment that even “imperfect” blocks can be beautiful.

This would be a great book for a series of classes, or for teaching a friend to make quilts. It is available here.

Jump Into Sewing is bright and cheerful without being childish. There are many useful illustrations.  It starts with “Anatomy of a Sewing Machine”, which will be especially useful for those who may have inherited a sewing machine without knowing anything about it. There is a section of clear explanations on troubleshooting common machine sewing problems such as thread snarled on the top or bottom of the fabric.

Photo courtesy of C&T

The first project is an easy pillow. It gave me the idea of helping my 5-year-old make a pillow. He enjoyed decorating a tote bag and the pillow would be a fast project.

Photo courtesy of C&T

More advanced projects include making a buttonhole and putting in a zipper. The final project is a substantial-looking tote bag, which, like the other projects in the book, could be gender neutral.

Photo Courtesy of C&T

Jump Into Sewing is available here.

The book does not offer any information about garment construction, though of course the techniques would transfer. I hope this new series will progress to “Jump Into Garment Sewing” in the future.

These are fun books that make me think of the non-sewers on my holiday list 😉

P.S.: The links above are for your convenience; they are not affiliate links from which I make money.

Side Trip Into Clothing Construction

I made my own clothes for years before I started quilting, as did many women my age. Once I had a steady income and a family, it became much more efficient to buy clothing than to make it, but I still get the itch to make something to wear from time to time.

I recently found this interesting fabric on a sale table and the bug bit.

I have had this pattern for years but haven’t made anything from it, so I decided it was time.

And here’s the shirt.

It fits fine and is comfortable. This is an easy pattern, so it took only 4 hours to make. If my time is worth even as much as federal minimum wage, I would have been ahead to buy something ready made.

That probably won’t keep me from making clothing, though.