Tag Archives: clothing

Skirt Hangers aren’t just for Skirts


Do you keep those plastic skirt hangers when you buy a skirt at the store? Of course you do. Even if you have nice hangers at home, you need these for your sewing room. And really, what will the store do with them? Throw them away? Recycle them? You can recycle them just as easy, maybe easier than the store, and no other outside costly energy is expended in the process.

How can you use a skirt hanger:

1. Hang your cutting mat on it when not in use. If you only have a small area for your sewing and quilting your mat needs to be stored in a flat area so it doesn’t warp or get all wonky. Hanging it up with a skirt hanger is the perfect solution.

2. Store blocks in progress.  Hanging your blocks on a hanger allows you to have them in view (if you want) yet out of danger of being covered up with other fabric. It also keeps them free of wrinkles. You can add each block as it’s finished which also lets you see at a glance how many are completed. These hangers often will slide, so it doesn’t matter what size blocks you’re making.

3. Hanging a quilt for photos. We want pictures of our quilts, but taking them is often  challenge. Experts suggest taking the photo straight on, that is having the camera and the quilt at the same height and angle. If you don’t have someone to hold the quilt, or a sleeve on your quilt for hanging this can be difficult. Skirt hangers to the rescue. Once you take a “straight on” photo then you can take more artistic ones. Pictures of the quilt covering a loved one, on a bed, draped over a chair or fence. All quilt pictures are worth taking and viewing.

4. Store your fabric.If storage is at a premium add a lower rod to your closet and hang your hangers of fabrics. They will be out of the sun, out of plastic tubs, and easily viewed. Of course this will only work for a few of your fabrics, so you’ll have to make some choice. After all, few people have that many closets.

5. Holding fabric for a project. When you buy fabrics for a specific quilt you can clip all of them to one, or two, skirt hangers to keep everything together as you work on the quilt. You’ll know where the backing and binding fabrics are because they will be on the hangers.

Do you use skirt hangers in your quilt room?

Do you have other uses for skirt hangers?

What non-sewing items do you use in your sewing room?

This post is part of the 31 day challenge. Check out some of the other blogs posting there.


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.

Are Yo-Yo Tops Really Quilts?

All quilts are not created equal.

The first time I saw a picture of a Yo-Yo quilt I didn’t quite understand it. It didn’t look like any quilt I’d seen before. It had holes in it.

Okay. To be fair they weren’t “holes” they were spaces not filled in with fabric.  Still, they looked like holes to me and I couldn’t imagine why anyone would make a quilt top that, when finished would have the batting sticking out.

A Yo-yo top is a collection of gathered circles sewn together. While they can be sewn into a pattern, most y0-yos are a lighter version of the patchwork quilt.

A completed YoYo quilt from 2 sisters quilting. The green showing through between the circles (yo-yos) is the background of whatever the quilt is on.

The description I read at the time said these “quilts” were for summer, and topped a colored sheet. At the time, it just looked like an unfinished quilt to me. I’ve since learned more about them and appreciate them for their time and beauty.

While they are not quilts, there is only the one layer, possibly  two if the top is stitched to a backing. They are beautiful, and have their own stories just as their “real” quilt sisters.

I wonder if a yo-yo top wasn’t someone’s idea of a pretty, light weight top similar to a crocheted bedspread, or tablecloth. Maybe the first yo-yo maker couldn’t afford all the thread to crochet a pretty top. Maybe she didn’t know how to crochet, but she wanted something light-weight, and airy for  summer.

Just imagine a woman looking at her pile of scraps and her naked table, or a heavy quilt on her bed in the heat of the summer. She could sew, but really didn’t want a “quilt” to dress her table, and she wanted/needed something lightweight for her bed.

She began to experiment, after all isn’t that how we get most of our patterns, experimenting?  Maybe she had made the yo-yos before as a decoration.

Now, however, she sews them together and before long, viola! A pretty, airy table covering, or bed topper.

The sheet that served as cover for the hot Oklahoma nights could be made prettier by topping it with the yo-yo top.

Now, I don’t really know how a yo-yo top came into being, why or how they were first used. I do know they are beautiful, and perfect for someone who loves to do handwork. That wouldn’t be me. I’ll just enjoy the yo-yo tops others make.

What about you? Do you have a yo-yo top? Have you ever made one?

This post was for the letter Y in the A to Z blogging challenge. Tomorrow is the last day of the month and, of course, Z will be the letter of the day. Hope you’ve enjoyed some of the many blogs who joined the 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?

Sewing and Family Thanks

Today I’m thankful for my sewing machine.

It allows me to make quilts for friends and family. I can sew on other projects that enter my little brain. The sewing machine helps me retain my sanity.

Any sewing machine could do that though. This machine is special, not special enough for a name, I don’t name inanimate objects. I guess I could call it Bernie? J

This sewing machine is special because it was a gift from my husband. Money was always tight for us, and a new sewing machine seemed like an extravagance to me.

I’d had a couple of used ones over the years. Then mom gave me a department store special. It worked well for several years. Finally, it was on its last stitches. In fact it was skipping stitches.

David told me to find a sewing machine. Yikes! Good new sewing machines were expensive! Prices started in the triple digit range, for a “cheap” one. One day in the local sewing store I noticed a machine on discount because that line had been discontinued. The price was still in that triple digit range, but at least it was a good quality machine, which made it an amount I could justify to myself.

I had no money with me that day. The owner agreed to hold the machine for me if I sent her a deposit the next day. I did. A couple of days later my daughter-in-law and I were shopping in another town and the store owner called.

She told my husband the price of the machine wasn’t what she’d quoted me, but three hundred dollars more. David said I still wanted the machine.

In the meantime, while shopping I had second, and third, thoughts about spending so much money on a sewing machine. I decided to try to get my deposit back and buy another cheap machine from the department store.

David had other thoughts. When I told him my decision, especially in light of the fact the new machine was now creeping toward the four digit area he said, “no, get the good machine.”

It’s not even a fancy machine. It sews fabric together. It does do a buttonhole, and it does have a limited zigzag stitches, but mostly it sews. It doesn’t embroider, it doesn’t sew by itself, it doesn’t come close to washing the dishes. There are machines that seem to do everything except the dishes you know, mine isn’t one of them. It stitches fabric together. That’s it, nothing special.

“But, honey,” I countered “It’ll cost almost $1000 by the time tax and everything is added.”

“Do you like that machine?”

“Well, yeah. But…”

“If you like it buy it. We spend money on other things, you should have it.”

The look on his face, more than the words from his mouth convinced me. I went to town a few days later and purchased the machine. I even splurged and bought a walking foot at the same time. It did cost slightly over $1000.

I know, I know. I can hear you all going, “What?” Especially those of you who don’t sew, and are thinking “that’s a lot of money for a sewing machine.”

Maybe, but it’s not too much money for a cherished memory. And now, I can sew quilts, clothes (sometimes), and other projects.


train postcard for one of the grandboys.






I’m grateful for both the machine and the memory.



On the blog here, I listed my children and family on my list for Nov. 1.

Part of my family.

They keep me going and make me smile. Every day I’m thankful for every one of them.

My three children call and share their lives with me. They call to see how I’m doing and to invite me to events in their lives.

My six grandchildren give me lots of opportunities to sew for them. They make me laugh. They add color to my life.

My sister and brother keep in touch, and visit. Often siblings lose touch with each other after the parents are gone. Not us, we still call and check in with each other, we still add to each others’ lives.

Aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and other extended family members all add to the mosaic of my life, making it more beautiful.

However someone we are related, I’m grateful for everyone in my family and hope I add to their lives as much as they add to mine.


From the Trash Can to the Bed

Convert that box of scraps can be converted into a quilt (or thirty). Rather than throwing out the scraps of fabric, many quilters follow their grandmothers’ lead and make string quilts. Here are some string quilts to inspire you to put those scraps to good use.

These first two are from String Quilting Primer. She and a friend joined up to give directions. They use a solid color for the base and allows it to show through.  There are other quilts for your viewing pleasure on the website.  In addition to the quilts on this website, she lists other string quilters.


These quilts posted on the Scrappy String Quilt Gallery, I’m not sure who made them, but I like her plan.  In January 2007 she resolved to make one string block every day for a year. By the end of the year she had 30 completed quilts. Here are some of her numbers:

365 blocks
30 quilts + 5 blocks to grow on
1,460 squares
Average of 5 pieces of fabric per square
7,300 pieces of fabric for quilt center panel
A total of 7,480 pieces of fabric including the borders.

Not all string quilts are strips. Check out this one using a fussy cut print for the center of the block by Deb and shown on Quilts by Kathie.

Even traditional patterns can be made using strings. Like Chinese Coins  from, Mary Quilts.com

And this tumbling blocks quilt, also made by Mary

String quilts can be made using foundation fabric, ffoundation paper, or no foundation (depends on your strips). More string quilt links can be found at Heartstrings Quilts . I hope you enjoy the quilts, and maybe they inspire you to make your own. Have you ever made a string quilt? Go ahead and link to your quilt in the comments.


Mug Rugs

Continuing with the Nester’s 31 Day challenge of writing about one topic every day for a month, today it’s Mug rugs and  hugs.

Mug rugs and mug hugs are a great ways to use up scrap fabric. For those of you who don’t know, a mug rug is a mini-place mat or an oversize coaster. It’s big enough to hold a coffee (or other beverage) container AND a snack. The “rugs” are small enough to fit on a busy desk.  A rug can be a collection of fabric. Like this postage stamp this one:

They can be made using your favorite quilt block pattern. Like this variation of the log cabin block:

Since mug rugs are only 6 X 9 or so they can also be one piece of fabric.

Mug hugs are otherwise known as cup cozies. I make mine with an elastic and button so they’re adaptable. They can be made to match a “rug,” or not, your choice, depending on the scraps you have available.

What do you do with your small, or medium scraps?

To read more bloggers who have selected a single subject for the month check out The Nester. With over 1,000 bloggers signed up, there’s sure to be a subject of interest to you.