Category Archives: sewing

5 Uses for Painter’s Tape in the Sewing Room

Today’s sewing room tool came from the garage. Actually, it came from my junk drawer. Wherever you find  it, that blue tape used to keep paint off  woodwork when painting walls is useful in the sewing room. Five ways I’ve found to use it are:

1. To keep templates from slipping when cutting fabric. A couple of pieces of tape on the back of the template will help keep it place with less shifting. Leaving no sticky residue when it’s removed.

2. Marking the sewing line on the machine. If no 1/4″ foot is available, placing the tape on the machine 1/4″ inch from the needle will help keep all seams uniform. This works well when sewing something with a larger, or smaller, seam allowance. There aren’t special foots for every seam size.

3. Remove loose threads. Once the quilt is finished, or even as we’re sewing, threads find their way to the top of the project. If a lint roller isn’t available, balled up tape will easily remove those threads. Works on our clothes before going out too. Because while no outfit is complete without a few threads, we don’t want to look as though we rolled on the thread-covered floor.

4. Marking the measuring line on the template. Most template have several measurements on them, it makes them more useful and we can make items in various sizes. Sometimes, if I’m not careful, I cut my fabric too big or too small because I followed the wrong line. The blue tape used to keep the template from shifting, will also work to help me keep all my cuts uniform. Simply place the straight edge of tape along the appropriate line. No more miss cuts.

5. As a quick thimble. Many quilters have a collection of thimbles. Not me. I don’t like them, and haven’t learned to use them. Still, there are times when hand sewing that a thimble will be helpful. On those days, wrapping my finger with tape will work.

Masking tape can also be used in place of painters tape. However if using the tapes on the templates or sewing machine, remove them after completing a project to ensure no sticky residue remains.

Have you ever used masking, or painting tape in your sewing/crafting projects?

Do you have another use for the tape?

Do you have another quick fix thimble?

This post is part of the 31days of Shopping The House for Sewing Supplies.

Wax Paper in the Sewing Room


Save time and money. Shop at home.

The time you save can be used working on a project. The money will go towards your next fabric purchase.

Shopping at home allows us to finish our projects without making a trip to the store. Today we’re shopping in the kitchen for emergency sewing supplies.

There it is. In your cabinets with other kitchen papers.

The roll of wax paper.

What can you do with wax paper.

Allow me to wax on about the benefits of wax paper in the sewing room.

1. The paper can be used for quilting over tee-shirt quilts. Often the presser foot will stick to the design of the shirt, making quilting difficult. Placing the wax paper over the design allows the presser foot to glide.

2. Draw the quilting design on the wax paper and place the paper over the quilt. Since you can see the quilt pattern through the paper, you will be able to tell if this pattern works for this quilt.

3. If you don’t have fusible handy when making a tee-shirt quilt, wax paper will help stabilize the stretching tee-shirt fabric for sewing.

4. Use the paper as a quilting template. Draw your quilting design on the paper then pin it to your quilt top. Stitch through the wax paper following your design. The wax paper will tear away when you’re finished, tweezers will help get the tiny pieces.

5. In a pinch wax paper can be used in place of a silicone sheet when pressing fusibles. The sandwich your fabrics between two pieces of wax paper. The paper will protect both your ironing board and your iron.

Introduction to Quilting 001

Yes, I know, classes usually have a one in front of them, as in Quilting 101, not Quilting 001. But, we’re talking basic basics here. The simplest of simple.

Quilting 001 will walk the fearful quilter into the quilt world maize one step at a time. Before long you’ll be walking around, not getting lost, but trying new things. So come along. Let’s make a quilt.

First, the rules.  Rules? What rules? We don’t need rules tangling us up. Right, we’re going to ignore most of the quilt rules. Shhh, don’t let the quilt police hear about this. However there are a few pointers that will make your foray into the quilt world more enjoyable.

Ready? Here we go:

1. Relax, this is your first quilt. Most likely it isn’t destined to become a heirloom quilt for your grandchild. No, this will be a simple wall hanging, lap quilt, or warm cover on your bed.

Basically you’re making a blanket, relax and enjoy the process.

2. Remember that acronym KISS, keep it super simple? That’s a good plan for a first quilt. Keep the pattern and quilt simple.

If you have to fight to get the curves right on a Drunkard’s Path, struggle to keep the points sharp on a star block, or spend more time unsewing than sewing, you’ll be tempted to throw the whole thing down in disgust and walk away from the joy of quilting. It’s your quilt, if you want to go with an intricate pattern, I’m certainly not going to stop you. For the rest of you, a quilt made with simple squares will work just fine.

3. No fancy equipment needed.

  • Scissors to cut the fabric, or a rotary cutter and mat if you have one. Either works well.
  • Pattern or instructions. You wouldn’t try driving in a strange town without a gps or map would  you? Ok, I would and you might too. But, really, the gps, or quilt instructions make life much easier.
  • Fabric, you’ll need something for the backing, batting for the middle, and of course, fabric to make your top. We’ll discuss fabric choices and where to find your fabric in a later “class.”
  • Iron, and ironing board (or a folded towel on a cabinet works well too.) Nothing special, the iron you already own is perfect.
  • Needle and thread or sewing machine and thread, your choice. Whichever works for you, again, it’s your quilt.
  • Pins. Straight pins to hold your fabric together before you sew it and safety pins to hold all three layers together when you’re ready to quilt it.

4. Decide on your level of perfection. Some people (most) strive to have their quilt seams match up perfectly. They may have one “fault” in the quilt, one they purposely put in, but other than that their quilts look like works of perfection. I, on the other hand, am the Imperfect Improv quilter, I don’t care if my seams don’t match. Sometimes I go out of my way to make sure they don’t match by making a quilt with off-set seams. You may fall at either end of the spectrum, or somewhere in the middle. Decide what you can live with, and don’t worry about little mistakes that fall within your acceptability level.

5. Use  fabric of similar weight and quality. This will help your quilt wears more evenly.

Sewing and Speaking

It’s Show and Tell Monday! Ok, it’s not, it’s just Monday. But, today is letter S for the A to Z challenge.

Okay, it’s not even Monday, it’s Wednesday. The post was ready, except for a picture on Monday. Still no picture, but a post of words is better than nothing. Right?

I’ve been a little (sometimes I am a master at understatement) behind on the blog challenges.  Last week I almost forgot I had a blog, much less a couple of challenges.

What in the world could make me forget something like my blog?

A speech contest. Speech contest begins with “S”, so I’m good. Right?

Sure, speech contest begins with “S,” but what does it have to do with quilts?

Well, the speech was about a quilt. Sort of. In the speech I compared our lives to quilts. To further illustrate the point I made a “quilt” to use as a prop.

I spent last week sewing, and speaking, giving practice speeches wherever and whenever possible including speaking to the dog. Poor baby. This week though, I’m back on track trying to accomplish too many things in too short of time. It was a fun week though. Too bad it didn’t end with a win.

Oh well, there’s always the next contest.

That was Monday. This is Wednesday. Shortly after writing that post and before I could take the picture of the quilt the stomach flu bug found and attacked me. No pictures, no posting, no writing. Just sick.

Better now, and future posts will, with luck, appear on schedule. 🙂 Hope the “bugs” haven’t attacked anyone else.

Here Come da Judge, The Quilt Judge


“Here come da Judge, here come da Judge.”  Anyone remember that phrase from way back when?

Quilters also have judges. Actually, our own judgement of our work is far more critical than that of others. My quilt guild has tried to adopt the philosophy, “In 100 years will a rider on a galloping horse notice the issue?”

Of course, in 100 years, there may not be people riding horses and galloping around. Who knows? Another trick we try to incorporate is to put the offending block on the design wall, or have someone hold it up, put a little distance between the quilter and the questionable project. If the quilter can’t see the issue from a few feet away, it’s not worth the stress on the quilter and the fabric to remove the mistake and fix it.

A quilt destined for a judged quilt show however needs to be a perfect as possible. Because that’s what we’re competing with. Well, others are, so far I haven’t put any of my quilts in a show to be judged.

Quilt judges look for square corners, sharp points, matching seams and straight edges. In addition to the official quilt judge visitors are also often invited to judge. When visitors enter the show they are asked to vote for their favorite quilt. These votes are counted at the end of the show and a ribbon for “people’s favorite” is awarded to the quilter with the most votes.

Choosing a favorite quilt is not an easy task.I’m always glad that I don’t have the job of official quilt judge because it’d be difficult to select the best quilt.

If you’re a quilter have you ever entered a quilt in a judged show? If you’re not a quilter, have you participated in an activity that required a judge or do you avoid those activities?


Improv Quilts


Whoo-hoo I’m finally in style!  Back when I second started making quilts (the first attempt ended in the trash) I made Improv quilts.

Except, I didn’t call them Improv. I called them, functional, utility, thrown-together quilts. I didn’t buy fabric for them, instead I used what I had. These were usually fairly large chucks from other projects, or fabric given to me.

I’d lay the fabric out on the bed, moving it and fitting it together like a puzzle. Once I had a pleasing arrangement I’d sew them together, then do it all again and sew those two together. The process was repeated a few more times, to get the top long enough to drape over the end of the bed, and to make a reverse side to the quilt.

Once everything was sewn I’d sandwich and old blanket between the two “quilt” tops and sew the whole sandwich together.

They weren’t especially pretty, although the colors used did compliment each other. My children loved them and used them for years, until they wore out.

Now, quilts of that type are called “Improv” and they’re a popular style. I must admit, the Improv quilts I make today use smaller scraps, and are built a block at a time.

Yippee!! I’m in style.

So much in style that I’m teaching a class in making an Improv quilt.

Have you ever sewn an improve? Have you used improv elsewhere in your life?

While I’m finally in style, I’m still late. This post was scheduled for Wed. Better late than not at all though, right?

Linking up with The Ultimate Blog  and A to Z blog challenge.

Embroidery and Embellish for Quilts

Today, for the A to Z challenge the letter is E. In my quilting world E is for embellishment and embroidery, two things I do very seldom. Other quilters though often combine the two and embellish their quilts with embroidery.

For the letter D, here, I shared some album quilts with names embroidered on them. Trisha Faye over at Calico Connection shared  Sunbonnet Sue blocks with identifying name and date.

However, names on quilt blocks and album quilts weren’t the only times our great grandmothers embroidered their quilts.

They also used embroidery to embellish their crazy quilts. It was a good practice, after all how many samplers does a household need? Plus, it allowed the girls to perfect their stitches before embarking on the samplers.

DMC Threads has a good embroidery tutorial if you’ve never tried.

If the video inspires you to take up embroidery, you might want to check out Kassiah’s Blog. For the letter E she discussed ways to organize and store embroidery thread. Enjoy.

Linking up with A to Z Challenge and the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

A is for Applique

For our ancestors an applique quilt represented wealth because of all the fabric used. They are not traditionally patchwork. At least not small patches.Not only were scraps not used in making the blocks, but these quilts had extra fabric on them!

Applique represents a wealth of time. Actually, appliquers don’t have any more time than other quilters. They just enjoy applique and are willing to spend their time stitching them. Of course, there are several methods of applique, some more time intensive than others

Maybe it’s a wealth of love that the quilter was willing to take the extra time to stitch down the applique pattern. An entire quilt can be made using applique blocks.

There are several methods of applying fabric to fabric to create an applique.

There is the needle turn, which almost makes the design look as if it’s floating on the background. This needle-turn Sunbonnet Sue was made over thirty years ago. Thank goodness my sewing skills have improved!

Sunbonnet Sue 2 - needle turn

The quilt with these little girls has long since bit the dust. However, since it was made for my daughter (she loved it to pieces) and the “dresses” are all feed sack fabric from her grandma, I saved the “girls” to be reused in another quilt at some point.

When I use applique now, I prefer to use a zig-zag stitch. It can hide a raw edge and makes using applique go much faster. When making quilts for six grandkids, fast is sometimes important. Another advantage of zig-zag applique is the sturdiness, which makes it the perfect method of children’s quilts.

Overall SamAnother hand sewing method is to do the blanket stitch by hand. It’s a pretty look, but much too labor intensive for me. Not to mention I wouldn’t keep my stitches even, and it looks best with even stitches. Heather Nelson, a young lady in our quilt guild used thirties reproduction fabric for her girls. Don’t you agree, her even stitches makes the applique?

Heather's Sunbonnet Sue

There are other methods of applique, do you use one of them? While I do my appliques by machine, I love the look of the hand work. How about you, do you use one method and enjoy the look of another?

It’s all about Me Applique

It's all about me button

I love blog hops. It’s an easy way to find new blogs to follow and meet new people. It’s also a fun way to learn new things, and sometimes acquire new friends for your blog. The All ABOUT ME, is a just for fun blog hop for me. I’m not giving anything away, and my blog has been all but abandoned these last couple of weeks while I worked on other projects. It’s also slated for an overhaul, which was supposed to happen BEFORE this blog hop. 🙂 It didn’t, and the hop goes on.

Making the fun little quilt was a nice diversion from my other pressing matters and I enjoyed it. Thanks to  Madam Samm, and, Marlene,  of Stitching by the Lake for doing all the work and making this “meeting” of quilters possible

Of course, I’m running behind as usual. I finally finished by block in the wee hours of the morning. This is after I realized I didn’t have the pattern so generously donated by Amy Butler. Then, there was the issue of downloading, then sewing, and now trying to post.

Lucky for me, Amy designed a cute, easy to follow pattern. Not so lucky for me, I didn’t have all the necessary supplies and such. However, since I’m not much for following directions anyway, I just used the pattern as a suggestion and came up, much to my surprise, with a kind of cute wall-hanging.

Because I was in a hurry, and I’m not a fan of hand sewing these days, I used fusible, raw edge applique and quilted around it. I think I’ll try my hand at another one, just for fun now that I’ve made this one.

I made the hair longer, since my hair is long. I used muslin for the blondish color of my natural hair then quilted it with gray thread to give the darker look my hair sometimes has. I went with a stripe background, because, well honestly, that was handy last night. Since I normally wear dark colors (to hide the fat don’t you know), the dress is a black and white print. Which shows very clearly that black isn’t necessarily all that slimming.

I stuck the pincushion on my arm, since that’s where I usually have one, and my glasses are pink, a little like my natural glasses. Since I live out in the country, I used the fabric designed to look a little like leather for the word “biased.”

I think every fabric came from a different source. But then, I’m a little of a mixed up person anyway so this blending of differences suits me.

It really does look too much like me for comfort. What do you think?

IMG_0003Nin, cropped from others 2012





Nin 2011.jpg


Don’t forget to check out the other talented quilters to see how their little quilt turned out.

You can find them all at Stitching on the Lake, if these links don’t work.

Buzzing and Bumbling
Cherries Prairie Primitives
Kwilty Pleasures
Sew On And So Forth
Sew. Darn. Quilt.
A Stitch In Time
Doodling In My Mind
Moosestash Quilting
Vickie at That Other Blog
Susie’s World

And, if you missed out yesterday, don’t forget to check out these talented quilters:
Just Let Me Quilt
Sunshine Quilting
Karen at That Other Blog
Grammie Q
Gracie Oliver Arts
Marjorie’s Busy Corner
Sowing Stitches
Pigtales and Quilts
Stitchin’ByThe Lake


A Challenge is More than a Dare

It's all about me button

I mentioned here about my newest addiction, blog hops and challenges. And yes, I’ve fallen under the spell of another one. I’m a little surprised that I took the bait on this one. It is far outside my normal range.

Some of the challenges I’m participating in are more like dares. I dare myself to complete the task. I dare myself to stay on track with my goals and resolutions for the new year. A challenge is a dare to myself. In some cases I double dog dared myself.

This challenge though is different. Yes, it is a dare in a way. But, it’s also keeping with my word for the year, change. I’m going to try something different, I’m going to try a change. This challenge is an applique pattern designed by Amy Butler. While I love applique, I don’t often use it in my quilts.

Also, this piece is designed to be embellished. I don’t embellish. My quilts are functional quilts. Made and meant to be used. Embellished quilts are seldom put on beds. That’s a change for me, a challenge, to do some embellishing. While it won’t be a traditional functional quilt. First it’ll be too small to put on a bed, and second, it’ll have do-dads (embellishments) on it.

However, once it’s finished I will hang it on the wall. Seeing it will make me smile, and that’s a function.

The hop will actually take place in February. February 21-28 to be exact. We will receive our patterns in the next few days which will give us plenty of time to sew and blog about our beautiful creations, before unveiling them.

Madame Samm is holding the hop/challenge and Marlene, from Stitching by the Lake is our cheerleader.

This isn’t just another challenge though. It offers benefits. First, entering and completing the challenge will help deplete the scrap box. Not a lot, but every little bit helps.

Second, I need to improve my appliquing skills. I haven’t seen the pattern yet, but I’m thinking this will be a machine applique piece. There are times when applique is the only option, for me. Fabric painting, or embroidery are also options. However, they don’t have the appeal for me that applique does.

Here’s a picture of a quilt I made three years ago that demonstrates how much help my applique need.

tyler's baby quilt

Ok, my camera skills need improving too. I don’t think you can see how bad the stitching is on the appliqued boys. Trust me, it could be improved. That’s the goal with this challenge, to improve my appliquing prowess.

It’s not just a challenge for challenge sake. It’s a challenge with a purpose.