Archive for September, 2009

I was reading Jaybird’s blog and thought I would share my tools.  To be honest, I probably have way too many.  But I remind myself that I have been sewing for 30+ years, so I have accumulated some good tools. 

I have only been in this room for a few months, so no close up shots:) .  It is functional but no too pretty.   I am working on that.  These two tables and the chair came from an office that was closing down.  I like them so much better than the white plastic one from Costco that I had been using (and still do at the beach).  They are very heavy, so my machine never wiggles or jiggles even when sewing really fast.  If I get the room straightened up I will take some pics.

My main machine is an old 930 Bernina.  I earned the money to purchase this machine making imitation cabbage patch-type dolls (early 80’s ??) when they were so popular and out of stock in most stores.  I will never part with it, but would love a new one.  I would really like to do embroidery.  Also, over the years I have purchased so many attachments for this machine…and I know they won’t fit on a new Bernina, so I will keep this one for sure.  I also have a serger and a Singer featherweight for traveling.



 At our little beach place I have an old Singer that I purchased at Habitat for Humanity for $36!  Cabinet and machine along with every attachment you can name.  Works like a charm.  One of my best finds : )

P1010542My favorite scissors are Gingher, I have a large pair, a set of pinking shears, a duck-bill for applique, a small pair, a stork pair and a set of snippers.  The blue handle pair for cutting paper and are not Gingher.



 I didn’t know anything was MIA until I found this top for a set of snippers and the case for the stork scissors.  I think both of these are mixed in with my knitting stash.


Both of these are scissors inherited from my mom’s side of the family.  They are too dull to use, but I keep them anyway. 

My rotary cutters are Olfa.  I have a 45mm and a smaller set.  I also have pinking rotary blades that I haven’t tried yet.  I also have the same two at the beach house so I don’t have to lug my equipment with me, along with a few pair of scissors.


For years I have used the basic blue handled seam ripper.  I was in a shop in Georgia and made the comment that someone should really make a good seam ripper and the shop attendant showed me this Clover brand.  So I bought 2 on the spot.  One for me and one for my daughter-in-law.  I have been super pleased with this.  The handle is just the right size and it is so sharp. 


I have lots of rulers.  I didn’t even realize how many different brands/types I had until I set them out for the pictures.  I am planning to hang a peg board on the wall above my cutting table so that I can hang them.  I seem to use the largest one (white one on the right in second pic) with large cuts and pieces, but often I find that I wish it wasn’t white and I could see the fabric.  That is probably why I like the Omnigrid with the yellow the best. 



Along with rulers, I have several of these grippers.  One large, one medium and a tiny one.  I find them very helpful to keep my ruler and fabric where I want them. 


I have been unhappy with my thread situation.  I have been using these clear containers for thread and a separate container for bobbins.  The trouble was, I had a hard time matching bobbin and thread together again.  Also, knowing which bobbin went with quilting thread was a problem.    So, now I plan to keep the bobbins with the actual thread.  So, I am switching to these thread racks.  Then I will be able to  store the bobbins right next to the color of the thread (I saw a pic on Oh Fransson’s blog). 



 My main cutting mats are Olfa.  I have really just one (in the pics) in my sewing room and it is pretty big (36 x 24) plus one at the beach.  Fits my new table here at home really well.  I have a less expensive mat I use when traveling which is not Olfa.

 I also have these pattern weights that have little grabbers on the bottom to keep them from sliding.  I made some weights from large washers sol-some are glued together for more weight which are handy, but I keep them at the beach.  The ones I use the most are made from old film canisters that are fill with something that looks like buckshot.  I had some old ankle weights that I never used from several years ago and took the pellets out to use as weights.  What I love about these is the size.  I make clothing as well as quilt and these are great for small shoulder areas and straps.  I went to my local pharmacy that also develops pictures and got a bunch for free.  The white ones work better than the black or gray because the tops are more secure.



Here is a picture of some of my specialty items that I keep out at all times in a white plastic bathroom caddy.   The magnetic wand on the gloves is from a Home Improvement store. I first purchased one in a needle point shop and paid much more.  I like it because if you are like me and have to sew in a room with carpeting…it is a concern.  this wand extends enough so that you don’t have to constantly bend over to pick up pins. 


 I have been really happy with this iron.  I don’t know how long I have had it…8 years maybe???  It is a Panasonic auto shut-off. 


Although not really tools…..I also have a thing for thimbles.  I really like pretty ones. DSCN0461

The 2 on the top left are souvenir thimbles from a trip to Europe.  The top right are my 2 sterling silver thimbles purchased from antique shops.  The 2 on the bottom left are from my grandpa.  My mom gave me some of his things when she moved to the Carolinas from N.Y.  Last but not least, the 3 on the bottom right I use all the time. 

I also inherited buttons from my mom.  Her dad was a coat manufacturer in NYC and that is where I got so many buttons.  These are my favorites. 


This is how I store the majority of my buttons. 


A last favorite thing that is a semi-tool, my favorite pin cushion.  I made it from the silk scraps after my daughter’s wedding.  I made one for myself, my mom, my mother-in-law and also the bride herself.  I don’t use it too much because the silk is not as forgiving as wool or cotton, but I really love it.


This turned out to be a long post with lots of pictures.  I hope you found a couple of ideas somewhat useful.



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Although these are not the best pictures, I hope you can still see just how cute this fabric really is.  The background is a dark chocolate brown.  The line is from Michael Miller and I really liked the pattern.  Lavender/orchid deer…so cute!  Over the summer, I purchased one yard from Sew Blessed  along with another pattern that had very colorful bird cages.  I knew that I would either make some toddler outfits or I would use the fabric for a fussy cut baby quilt. 

I chose to make the fussy cut baby quilts.  My local quilt shops did not carry this particular line, so I tried to put together some options from anything in the store.  The ladies at Wish Upon a Quilt were very helpful and we came up with these fabric options.  I purchased 1/3 of a yard of each fabric.  I didn’t have an exact pattern in mind, I just knew I wanted to surround the fussy cut.


A fellow shopper and experienced quilter (you could just tell Okay!), suggested that I make a couple of “sets” to surround the blocks.  So, I ended up with the green-blue polka dot, green and blue stripe as one set (left to right) and the green polka dot, the purple-lavender, plus the larger print of purple, green and brown as the other set.  The dark-brown in the center was to be used as a thin (1 1/2″ border) surrounding the squares. 

I spent a couple of hours cutting out the deer using 4.5 inch squares and then surrounding them with the sets.  I used the blue deer and the purple deer.  After completing the initial blocks, I chose to make the blocks in a more assembly line fashion to save time and because I didn’t want to keep going from the machine to the ironing board.  Here are some pictures.





Now my problem is that I really like the two blocks, but I need something to go with the orchid colored deer.  I returned to the store trying to find something with blue and orchid…but no luck.  Then I tried something with brown and blue…but nothing would transition.   This is why it is often easier to stay with a line of fabrics.  Perhaps I should have ordered the coordinating prints online.  Well, I ended up with this solid orchid, the green/brown dots and a green/brown damask type print.  The more I look at it the less I like it.


Here is my orchid deer.  Below, you can see the 3 prints I came home with from my second trip.


Since I wasn’t super excited, I tried a few combos from my stash.  Here they are:


Greens and browns are not good.


Middle fabric choice still not good and the scale of the outer print is too large.


I have decided to put the project on hold and order the Michael Miller fabric for the third block.  One of the reasons is because I was trying to create a gender neutral baby quilt.  The blue deer is pretty neutral, but the purple is somewhat feminine.  So, I think I need something to counter the purple blocks.  I am going to order:  kiwi lolli dot, Spa or Orchid feelin groovy and then one of the Round About prints.  You can see them here. If you have any other ideas, please leave a comment.  Gracias 🙂

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My first quilt is still unfinished 18 months later…this is a quilt that I purchased as a kit from a shop in Pawley’s Island in the summer of 2008.  I saw it hanging on the wall and thought it was too cute!  I also thought that a kit would be a great way to get started.  Yeah, my first quilt!  I was so excited to get started that I worked for one week non-stop on this baby.   A few of the fabric colors for the cupcakes in my particular kit didn’t appeal to me, so I changed some of them.  I was really being picky about choices and the quality of my applique stitching.  The pattern came with 3 different styles of cupcakes.  Here are pictures of them.




Why isn’t it finished?  Well, I didn’t know that I was supposed to cut out the interfacing/bonding material from the back of the block after I had appliqued the cupcakes, therefore all 12 cupcakes are as stiff as cardboard (not too snuggly…might end up as wall art!)

Plus…I didn’t know that I had to do more than purchase the $150 walking foot for my beloved Bernina.  I ended up with huge wooley mammoth fuzz ball inside the feed dog area and my machine froze.  I had to take her in for some TLC.  I guess I lost my motivation after that…but kate knows it is hers, so I need to finish it soon.

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Here is my quilt for Colson Lee.  He was born in April…obviously I am a little late.  I think that happens often to those of us who enjoy making things for others.  I really love the Neptune line from Tula Pink.  It is sometimes difficult to have many choices for baby boys.  The great thing about Neptune is that it is very gender neutral and almost every age can appreciate the patterns. 


 I used charm packs and followed the instructions from the Moda Bake Shop


I spent lots of time looking at the pattern and decided to alternate a geometric or small print with a larger or more flowing print.  I also tried as best I could to make one coin blend into the next.  So, if a coin had green, navy and turquoise…I tried to make sure the next coin had one of those 3 colors.  It worked pretty well.  I guess I don’t do random too well.

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 This time I used a high quality bleached muslin instead of the linen I have used in recent quilts. 


This is my first time just stippling.  I can tell that my stitches are becoming more consistent in length.  I am also getting better at making sure my stitches do not cross over one another. 

For my first couple of quilts, I had to use a meandering stitch because sometimes I would be stuck in a corner or near the edge.  Another problem I had was that the stitching would come to a point.  When this happened, I would come back around and make the point the exact location for the stitching to cross over.  I helped to hide my error.  


Here is the back.  I had a 1/2 yard of this Neptune pattern from another project, so I chose to incorporate it into the back.  Little boys and lots of white don’t always go well together 🙂


And finally… the binding.  I worry about little people and hand stitched bindings, so for this baby quilt, I used my practical stitch # 8 and made it as wide as possible, while still using my walking foot.  I first attached it to the front using a regular straight stitch, then folded it over and used # 8.  My hope is that it will stay more secure than hand stitching.  It is difficult to see it in the picture because I used a turquoise color for the thread on the bindings so it would blend better.  If you look at the bottom left of the picture you can see a sort of wavy stitch.




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I will probably say for some time to come that this is the most exciting quilt I have made.  I chose the orange polka dot for the back and binding.  The quilt was already busy and fun, so I didn’t think I needed to add another dimension with a contrasting binding.  I also put some of the pieces onto the back (mostly greens), so that it didn’t look like a giraffe gone bad from the back.  This is before the binding.



 I am not a big fan of hand sewing, so I would love to find another professional way of doing the bindings.  Hand sewing is just so time consuming and not my favorite thing to do. 


I did struggle with color choice for the stippling. 




I purchased a few options and finally decided on a variegated orange with green, yellow and burgundy.  I think it was perfect.


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