something old, something new

no, it’s not what you think.  i know i promised pictures of kyle and amy’s wedding….and i will share, but it’s HARD picking just a few of my absolute favorite pictures!!  i go through them and say “that’s one of my favorites”…and repeat…for ALL of them!

no, this is about two new additions to the studio.  and to be honest, one’s not really all that old…it just made titling this post easier!  a few weeks ago jeff and i spent a sunday afternoon wandering around the antique mall, which in reality is part antiques/part flea market, but a great way to spend the afternoon.  i’ve gotten pretty picky selective about what i will actually drag home purchase…the house suddenly feels overflowing and i’m ready to begin letting go, NOT bring more in.  but back in the corner of one particularly cluttered booth a wee small sewing machine caught my eye…maybe because i’m always looking for sewing related finds, but most likely because it was bright purple!!dscn7099

i love that they printed right on the box “serious machine”…but they really just about HAD to since, again…bright purple!  no one was around, so i picked it up and took a look.  kinda cute…and then my fingers moved to that little white toggle switch at the lower right and the thing actually worked!!  2 speeds, 8 stitches (in reality 4 of them are straight stitches), a foot pedal, the adaptor, batteries  AND the box.  the price tag said $15. and i seriously thought about it, but set it back gently and after exclaiming to jeff “how adorable”, i began to move on.  it was then that i heard the voice…”you like?  you buy?”  since i hadn’t seen anyone nearby i almost assumed it was the voice of some sewing god, but it was male and heavily accented…not what i expected my sewing god to sound like!  the booth owner had seen me playing and came to make a deal.  without hesitation he lowered the price to $10, and without hesitation i packed it in the box and brought it home.


i’ve done nothing with it except wipe it with a damp cloth, so i’ve yet to see how it actually operates.  my hope is that one of the great nieces may show an interest in sewing some day and this will be a great machine for them to start out on.  for one girl i see baby doll blankets, for the other maybe a supergirl cape…doesn’t matter, that purple beast will be here at the ready!

my second “old” addition truly is old.  a christmas gift from my eldest son and his girlfriend (i know exactly which one searched for it, drove to retrieve it and wrapped it..but he helped deliver it to the house, so he gets some credit!)dscn7105

it’s a “sew tidy” sewing cabinet for threads.  manufactured by the “sew tidy/edmilton corp” in milwaukee during the 20’s and 30’s.dscn7113

complete with label!!  there’s no way that all my thread will fit in this cabinet, so i’ve been thinking that i may use it to hold the old wooden spools that i’ve inherited from grandmothers.  i think that’s a unique way to display them.  when closed it only measures a couple of inches deep.  some of these came with a small drawer-like compartment at the bottom and some had a hanging pocket….all you needed to sew in style!

looking at this cabinet made me think about all the notions, accessories and tools that we all feel we ‘need’ in our studios….but look back at what the average sewist accomplished on a treadle machine and with only a few tools.  i’m sure that whoever owned this originally felt that it was quite the luxury…and i think it’s a perfect “old” addition to my studio.

what about your sewing space?  is it filled with more modern tools/accessories?  or is it a mix, like mine?





throwing in a valentine’s towel

one more valentine’s project before the big day arrives!

valentine’s day always meant a huge “formal” dinner when my boys were young.  i would cook all day, set a formal table complete with gifts and cards at each place setting.  there were individual heart shaped desserts and candles…the works!  i sort of miss that dinner…while a dinner for two can be romantic, you just can’t beat the simple joy of watching a little boy’s eyes light up over a hot wheels car.  come to think of it, my grown up boys would probably still enjoy receiving a hot wheels car!!

my last project is a flour sack dish towel…..something that would have brightened up those times when i spent the entire day cooking and baking.


needed: a dish towel (my flour sack towel came from joanns), assorted cotton prints for the hearts, wonder-under fusible and your sewing machine.


you can fuse your hearts in place OR you can applique them….i did both.  apply the wonder-under to the wrong side of your heart fabrics.  cut various sizes of hearts and lay them out on your dish towel.  i started in one corner and placed mine in a sort of waterfall pattern to the opposite corner.  once you decide on placement, remove the paper backing from the wonder-under and fuse the hearts to the towel.  you may want to stitch around the outer edges of the hearts to make them more secure.

finally, you will connect the hearts with a line of machine stitching in a contrasting color.  if your machine offers decorative stitches this is the place to use them!


whether it’s for your own use (yes, it’s totally acceptable to give yourself a valentine’s gift) or for some special cook on your list, i hope you enjoy “throwing in the towel”!!



put your ♥ on a pillow

need a perfect little valentine’s day accent for your home?  or something quick and easy to give a special friend?  this little pillow is the answer!  with a single row of 3-d hearts, it’s not “over the top” so you can use it all year long.  or make one for a young girl in your life using her favorite colors.

my finished pillow measures 8″x11″ mostly because that’s how much wool i had on hand.  you can make this any size and basically using just about any type of fabric.  it works best with a solid pillow and print hearts…although i’m betting you could reverse that combo if you have good color contrast.

here’s how:  measure and cut 2 pieces for the pillow (adding 1/2″ seam allowances all the way around).  cut heart shapes from your print fabric.  since the edges of the hearts aren’t stitched down you’ll need to back them with a fusible to keep the edges from fraying.  i used sf-101 (probably my favorite interfacing!!) because it’s woven and gives the backs of the hearts the look of fabric.  place the hearts in a single row along one side (or center them right down the middle) of one pillow piece.  use a contrasting color of thread and stitch a line straight through the hearts, beginning and ending at the very edge of the pillow.

then put the two pillow pieces right sides together and stitch around the outside edges (1/2″ seam allowance), leaving an opening along the bottom for turning.  clip the corners, turn it right side out and stuff!  pin the bottom opening closed and hand stitch.

since i was using a solid off white wool i felt i needed just a tiny bit more color, so i used red pearl cotton to whipstitch along the edges of the pillow.  i began in the lower right hand corner, left a long tail and when i came back to that corner, i tied the thread in a little bow for an accent.

i love how the hearts pop away from the pillow just a little giving it a three dimensional look.   i think when i make another one i’ll use topstitching thread to secure the hearts to make that line stand out a bit more.

what it everyone making for day?

love note pockets

valentine’s day is upon us.  it began bearing down the day after Christmas, and if we believe all the hype, we’re not really loved (or showing love) if we don’t buy diamond jewelry, candy, flowers and cards.  there are times though that hallmark falls a bit short and I prefer to write my own sentiments….words that might not make sense to anyone but me and my valentine.

this year i’m delivering my “love note” in a handcrafted heart.  and i thought i’d share it just in case you’d like to leave a love note for someone in your life.  these take only minutes to make….deciding on the fabric will take longer than construction!


i chose to make mine from an old quilt, some red/white dotted cotton for the pocket, and used pearl cotton and a sharp tapestry needle to blanket stitch an edging.


cut your heart from the quilt…any size you choose (maybe you’re leaving a love letter instead of a note!)  then cut a pocket big enough to hold your note and stitch a narrow hem across the top straight edge.  i used a blanket stitch to finish the outer edges of my heart, not worrying about a few threads pulling loose on the edge of the quilt (this version is rustic). tie a loop of the pearl cotton at the top of the heart so you can hang your note on a doorknob or closet door.  now, write a note!!


prefer a more “finished” version?  just use two fabrics, fuse them using wonder-under (or just stitch them together using a decorative stitch) and make the hanging loop using a pretty ribbon.

DSCN6663you can even mail these intead of sending a store bought card…letting your valentine know that you’re thinking of them and took the time to put your own heart into their special message.

last of the christmas projects

a few days before christmas i was scrolling through my instagram feed and saw that someone (sorry…wish i had noted who it was!  thanks for the inspiration!) had made several of these cute little triangle pouches.  forgetting ignoring that i had a ton of things already on my to-do list for the day, i headed down to the studio to play with the idea.  i figured it couldn’t be TOO hard….they’re little triangles!!  actually, they are rectangles, and i was correct….they weren’t hard…but they were addictive!!  i planned to make 3…one for each of the girl stockings…and finally stopped after an even dozen, mostly because i ran out of zippers.  i’m sure there’s a tutorial out there somewhere, but i just sort of winged it.


i didn’t realize until i was done that every single pouch was made with dear stella fabric scraps that were left from making fabric baskets….sweet!!

one last pouch…this one for amy, lover of all things water and fish, made from fish fabric that i’ve had in the stash just waiting for a great project to come along.  there’s still plenty of that fabric left…let me know if you have a project idea i could use it for!


so…they ended up in everyone’s stockings!!  the great nieces got a few goodies tucked inside…lip gloss, coins and a hankie that originally belonged to their great-great grandmother (they may not appreciate them now, but someday they will).

i’m keeping the pea pods!


last minute lotion bars

while searching for something quick and different to make as stocking stuffers for the girls in my family i came across this great tutorial from melissa of mellysews.  i’ve always enjoyed making soap (from lye and oils, not the melted glycerin variety), lip gloss, sugar rubs and all those wonderfully girlie, good smelling things…so melissa’s lotion bars struck a chord and i dove in.  not familiar with lotion bars??  pretty simple concept…take a shower, rub lotion bar over skin.  the heat of your body will soften the bar.


surprisingly i found everything i needed in my closet, with the exception of scent.  i only had cranberry and lemongrass on hand and just couldn’t imagine rubbing cranberry all over my body after a shower…..might work….might not.  it was too late to order anything, so i used the lemongrass.  i went light on the scent and on the second batch i went totally scent-less.  (and i think each and every recipient KNEW that but sniffed anyway!!)

i used a regular muffin tin as a mold and it worked just fine…although it did require quite a bit of really hot water to get the oil residue out.  i’ll keep my eyes open for a silicone mold of some sort at a thrift shop.

melissa’s tutorial included these adorable bags with fusible vinyl lining….but since i was working late at night (and very close to gift giving day) i opted for simple packaging in plastic bags, trimmed down and tied with ribbon.

wishing now that i had photographed the process…or even the finished product….what i do have is a shot of the smaller “leftovers” that i kept for myself.  scratch ‘n sniff would be cool right now!



Easy last-minute DIY gifts

It never hurts to have a few last minute gifts on hand for teachers, neighbors or stocking stuffers, and I have been stocking up on needlebooks (friends and family, avert your eyes!) and some of the little projects from our tutorials page.


What little projects are you finishing up for the holidays? Most of my sewing is a secret at the moment, but I will have a couple of fun projects to share after Christmas.


A simple advent calendar

When I was growing up, our Advent calendar was a little wall hanging with pockets. The top was a snowcovered house and there was a little mouse that we moved from pocket to pocket as we neared Christmas.

My parents still put that calendar out every year, so this year I started thinking about some ways to celebrate Advent at our house and remind us to take time to enjoy the season. I came across this post on A Beautiful Mess and decided to do something similar.


We have some sections of weathered fencing left over from fencing our backyard, so I pulled a few boards off of one scrap piece and cut them to length. My tree is about 3 1/2 feet high and the “branches” are about 12″, 15″ and 21″ or so.

I knew I didn’t want the kids to have chocolate every day (a whole month of daily chocolate might be enough to make me put them out with the cat), and I also didn’t want to amass 24 (x 2 kids, so 48, ugh) little toys to unwrap every day, so I settled on activities that we can do together each day, scheduling the activities to coincide with my work schedule and other obligations.


I glued and stapled regular sized clothespins to the boards and used a big punch to make red and green paper “ornaments” that I wrote activities on. Each day we’ll take down that day’s ornament, do the activity and replace it with a pretty metallic paper ornament as we count down to Christmas. 


If you’re looking for ideas of what to do with your kids, here’s a post I wrote for our library listing many of the activities we will be doing. Some of them are specific to our area, but most communities have similar things going on at this time of year.

Happy Thanksgiving! We’re thankful to all of you who take the time to stop over to our corner of the internet.


Uncle Sam-style Blank Slate Patterns Basic Blazer

Does anyone else get just a little bit paralyzed with all of the costume possibilities for a baby or toddler? I am one of those people who gets a little overwhelmed by Chinese restaurant menus that are 10 pages long, so when it came to Jack’s first Halloween a few years ago… well… it went something like this. “He would be the most adorable little Han Solo! But he could be a little lion! But what about a scarecrow! Or one of the hobbits! ….”

I finally decided that I had to narrow it down somehow, so he has been something related to his name every year: a jack-o-lantern at 11 months, a Jack in the box at 23 months and a Jack of all trades this year.


I decided to continue the practice this year for Samuel, so I put together a little Uncle Sam outfit for him using Blank Slate Patterns’ Basic Blazer.*


He was not super impressed the night of the Fall Festival at church and is crying in the only semi-decent picture I got of the whole costume (I made a red bow tie out and white beard out of fleece that clipped to his shirt collar), so we had a photo shoot last week in our bedded-down garden (because: STRAW!!).


The jacket is made out of polar fleece with a red striped cotton lining. I’m wishing I would have interfaced the collar pieces since the cotton tends to bunch up a bit (I was in a hurry (surprise) and didn’t have interfacing handy at the time). I think next time I make this jacket I may play with the shape of the collar a bit since it’s fairly thin in the back and wants to stand up instead of rolling over (perhaps the lining facing needs to be just a smidgen bigger than the main fabric to give it enough room to roll? Or it may have just been the thickness of the fleece that was the problem), but I love the look of the jacket and want to make more.

I chose fleece more for warmth than fashion, but it actually works really well for this pattern. The shape of the jacket is crisp enough to still look suit-y while being more comfortable than a suiting fabric would have been.


To complete the look I printed an “I Want You!” logo, cut it in a circle, and glued it to cardboard and a pin back.


Lovely pattern, Melissa!

Our interview with Melissa is here if you’d like to read it.


* I purchased the pattern and was not compensated in any way for this review. 

baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and chevrolet!

who among you is old enough to remember that chevrolet jingle?  aside from rain, it can pretty much describe my summer thus far.  early summer brought tee-ball….one of my favorites.  i love watching the wee ones out there on the diamond, some intent on the game…others playing in the dust or picking dandelions in the outfield.  this year my “bug” began her journey into baseball.  “bug” is my 5 year old great niece and for the past almost 4 years we have spent one day a week together.

DSCN5997she’s fierce!!  not afraid of anything and she’s going to be a tough competitor!

then there’s hot dogs….no one needs a picture of hot dogs, but my summer has already seen a few of them on the grill.  the 4th of july picnic was no exception.  my brother-in-law, tony, manned the grill and he always makes a few “special ones” just the way i like them…almost crispy!!

the apple pie hasn’t exactly happened yet…lots of raspberry swirl cheesecake, cheesecake stuffed strawberries and recently zucchini bread…but you never know, that apple pie may just make an appearance!!

as for the Chevrolet?  last night’s nascar race was under a rain delay for hours, and they finally started the race just about the time i was headed to bed.  i thought briefly about calling in sick today in order to say up and watch, but that’s never a good idea.   awoke to the news that dale jr. had won!!!!  we’re a chevy family (at least when it comes to American made) so his win was the icing to a great summer holiday weekend!

Dale Earnhardt Jr., center, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Monday, July 6, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Dale Earnhardt Jr., center, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Monday, July 6, 2015, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

i hope your summer has been relaxing so far, and filled with all the good things from an advertising jingle!!