Sunday, July 27, 2014

XO I Love You

I whipped up this little pencil pouch yesterday after seeing some inspiring "notebook paper" pouches on Pinterest. My daughter can't wait to get her hands on it. She loves pouches and places to keep her little things.
 Some days you just need a reminder that you are loved.
 Don't you just love fresh new pencils at the beginning of school? The smell of new books? And old ones too. Technology will never replace that old familiarity. Long live the yellow pencil.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mini Quilts and Machine Binding

After a sewing marathon yesterday, I finally finished those three wall hangings to be sent to Ukraine. It is impossible to get a decent picture after dark, and unfortunately the quilts are now forever out of my hands and over the ocean somewhere. So I did the best I could do.
 I do not normally do modern colors like that, but I really loved them after I was done. Maybe more in my future? I don't know. That plaid one just really hit a soft spot with me.
My favorite part of the project was the scrappy binding. I had not tried that before, but I loved it. It used up almost all the scraps leftover from the quilting, and it took just a little more time. I think it was worth it.
I have had a dread of machine binding for a while. Give me enough time, and binding by hand is just fine. But time was not on my side yesterday. I think I figured out the secret to acceptable machine binding.

First, you might want to leave a little bit extra around the edge when you are trimming away the extra batting. You will get a firmer edge that way.

Sew the binding onto the wrong side of the quilt (counter-intuitive, I know), matching raw edges. I use a double fold binding, by the way.

Press open the seam you just made to make things nice and flat. Be careful if you are not using cotton batting. You may have a mess if the iron touches it.

Then flip the binding over to the front, just over the line of stitching you just made. I had to actually turn my binding under once because at 3", it was too wide. I should have cut it narrower. Anyway, the key is to diligently use your guide lines on your machine's throat plate, going slowly enough that you absolutely control the width of binding feeding through. A blind-stitch foot or edge stitch foot is really handy here and will enable you to concentrate on keeping the right edge of binding aligned with your machine's guide line.

So you are now ready to sew the next line of stitching on the right side of your quilt. You want your needle to be going into the binding just over the left edge. Adjust your needle appropriately.  If you keep your eye on those guide lines (my binding here was at the 3/8" line), you will end up with all the binding attached and straight lines on the front and the back. Pretty! And there is no guesswork involved as in previous attempts when I would get to the end, turn it over, and discover that there were ugly holes where I missed stitches. No more!

So follow your guide lines!

I did not mention corners--that's another topic. And there should be lots of pictures. I don't have those right now, but maybe soon...

And if anyone out there has suggestions on decent lighting for late night photo shoots, please share!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


This is my project for the next couple days. I am stitching these to go on a plane to loved ones in Ukraine. I wish I were going too, but that is not the best thing at this time. So many things going on in their country... What I love so much about stitching is that there is love poured into every little thread. I feel like I am giving a piece of myself away throughout the whole process. There are memories of times we have spent together, prayers spoken for their needs, hopes and desires to be together again, thankfulness for the path God leads me down, though at times I can't see around the next bend in the road. There is this tangible piece of fabric and thread, but behind it is this Grand Plan. I am filled with gratitude at the thought of it.

Also part of the whole creative process is the interruption. How could you resist those chubby baby hands! I always have to adjust my lenses so I see beyond this interrupted moment, so I remember what is really important. That she will grow up. That I must enjoy every baby moment and not live with regret. If it is not done with love, it's not worth doing.

I am hoping these will turn into three mini-quilts. I found the Joel Dewberry fat quarters today at my LQS. I had overlooked them several times before because they aren't really in my color range, but today they just spoke to me. You know, right? I remember being a kid, and some picture books my teachers read to our class had that same magenta/orange color scheme. Somehow I always loved those colors. They remind me of my childhood when I dreamed about someday being the teacher in front of the class.

Speaking of my LQS, it is just a few miles from my house, and it's right on my way home when I am running errands. How convenient! I usually take a kid or two, and we rummage through the scrap basket and $1 fat quarter bin. It's like candy, except much healthier for us! Even my sons are beginning to collect fabric.  Oh dear, what am I doing...

I will post pictures of the finished mini-quilts when they are en route to Ukraine (and a piece of my heart is gone along with them).

Friday, July 18, 2014

Blue Dog the Great

Isn't he stoic? Blue Dog is a legend in our family. There may be other Blue Dogs in this world, but none so special as he. He was made for my husband when he was a boy, made with love by his mother. Blue Dog had been loved and cuddled for many years. Then he was found and  chewed by a notorious family dog. He has since been lovingly restuffed and repaired, and he now sits on a shelf out of the reach of other small hands. When I was dating my now-husband-of-12-years, Blue Dog came to live with me as a special reminder of the one I loved and would soon marry.

He reminds me of the special care and love of a mother (my mother-in-law now). She and I share the same initials, L.H. Those initials go back another generation to her mother-in-law. We were or are all three addicted to fabric and needles and thread. I like to think that I came by my obsession honestly, and I hope that maybe one of my sons marries an "L" someday so she can carry on the tradition.

So there it is. Blue Dog and L.H. A mother's loving hands. And a legacy she has passed along to me.