Search This Blog

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Every where I look, my yard is filled Spiders and webs.  They've been there all summer, but it seems as Fall approached they kicked up the "decorating" to full gear!

Working on the Be My Neighbor Sew Along has been great.  Bags, baskets and drawers of little bits, strips, and fabric ends have been hiding in the corners of my Studio and under my cutting table reproducing - I'm almost positive!  Well it's time to clean the cobwebs!

It's been on my bucket list - a string quilt.  So the spiders have inspired me to get started on the spider web block.  This is a foundation piecing block.  And I'm always looking for another way to use a ruler.

I pulled out my Cozy Quilt Designs Strip Tube Ruler and the EZ Dresden Ruler.  (Both are available on my website if there are not already in your arsenal.)

The is a recycling, Use-It-Up project, so I dug into my computer paper recycling bin as well.  Use scrap paper for a foundation for the strip piecing.  With the Strip Tube Ruler as a template, I can get two triangles from an 8-1/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper.

Yes, a corner is missing, but there's enough to get the job done.  I do not want to put a seam any closer to the corner because of bulky seam issues.
 Using the center line of a ruler, make a small mark indicating the center of the long edge of the triangle (the hypotenuse for all you math geniuses!)

Draw a line from that mark to the corner.

Do the same for both triangles on the page.

Cut the sheet in half.  Make lot more.

You can use scrap computer paper, old catalog pages, or newsprint, even old phone books.

Just make them all the same size.

Make as many foundations as you have scraps, or as big a quilt as you want.

I always go BIG and have A LOT of scraps and this will be an ongoing project - so stay tuned.

Next use you EZ Dresden Ruler to cut the center "kite" pieces which will form a star. These pieces will all be white or off-white / cream pieces.  Cut 8 inch wedges.  If you have a large enough piece of fabric, cut an 8 inch strip and cut wedges as shown below, flipping the template as you go.  (Cut your pieces 8 inches, not six as in the picture.)

Let's go to the sewing machine.  Lower the stitch length.  Tighter stitches will make it easier to remove paper when completed.
Center a "kite" on the center line of paper foundation right side up.  Place first scrap strip face down.

Seam width is not as important, but try to stay 1/4 inch along aligned edges.


Flip strip.  Press.  Repeat.

Keep adding strips until paper foundation is covered and looks something like this..

I know, it looks like a HOT MESS!  It gets better!

 Flip the pieced triangle over, paper side up.  Using your cutting ruler and rotary cutter, trim away uneven fabric edges.

Then it's looking a lot more like what we are shooting for!  And we did't have to do any strange math calculations.  Hurrah!

Here's two together!  Now only about 80 more!

So stay tuned.  I'll be working and the pile grows.

If you are one of those overachievers.......remove paper carefully so as not to stretch those bias edges.  Sew triangles together forming quilt top.  Quilt as desired and POST pics!

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tool Tip Tuesday

Not all sewing room tools are found on the LQS notions walls.

Today we'll look at sewing with small pieces or pointed piecing.

It's pretty basic.  Always have something under your needle.  Chain piece your projects - one piece following in after the other.  My Grandmother Stella new this long before I began sewing.  She had this small scrap of fabric that she ran through the machine at the beginning and stopped sewing on until it began to look like a very hairy spider!

Points tend to want to get pushed by the needle through the needleplate and all sorts of unhappiness begins as it gets tangled, jams the machine, and interrupts our sewing session possibly damaging the fabric.

If your machine head is portable, leave the spider in place.  Protect your sewing feet from damage or scratching by the feed dogs.  There should always be fabric between them.

Then there the matter of running the sewing machine with your fingers very close to that needle.  Another simple fix - go out to eat Chinese!

Grab an extra set of chop sticks.  Even if you can't manage to eat with them they are very handy to hold or guide small pieces of fabric through the sewing machine.

They are VERY inexpensive if not FREE and can be used for a multitude of small tasks.  Try turning that next applique project with a chopstick.  Great for pushing out and making nice corners.

Your long tweezers from your serger are also very handy.

Sew, that's it for today....Happy Sewing!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Block 1 Be My Neighbor Sew Along

You should have received your instructions for Block 1 this morning.  If you haven't signed up yet, there's still time.  Just send me your email (look to the right) or message me through Facebook and let me know you want to join The Neighborhood.

Patterns include cutting measurements and sewing instructions.  Colors and patterns are up to you as everything is in grey scale.  Let's see how creative you are!  Post your blocks and progress with the hashtag #ModaBeMyNeighbor

We got organized yesterday, so you should be ready to select, cut and sew.

Pick fabrics that will work and are large enough for piecing / measurements required.  Cut fabrics and organize in groupings as shown in pattern instructions.

This is the base of the tree and I sewed this unit, pressed and set aside.

I worked on the tree top next.  Cut rectangles and squares, and stack together.

For the tree top and roof of house, you are essentially creating a series of flying geese.  You can draw a diagonal line as given in the instructions.  I prefer to  eyeball it for smaller pieces using the blue tape line as a guide and extension of my center needle mark on my needle plate of my machine.
There are several tools out there to duplicate this effort.  This is what I find effective.

Two words of caution:
1.  Use only blue painters' tape or some low-tack tape.  DO NOT use masking tape.  It's hard to remove and either leaves a residue or will take cabinet or sewing machine finish right up with it!
2.  Sew to the outside of your line - the side you will cut away - just a smidge.  DO NOT sew on the drawn line.  Ask me how I know!

 You will not get a corner that folds back like this!  It should perfectly match the edge of the rectangle.  If it doesn't, unsew and try again.  Don't try to stretch it or squish it.
That's what God made seam rippers for!
Set the seam and press.

Next trim away the excess fabric from behind.  (you can save for another project if large enough-crumb sewing-blog post for another day ;-)

Do one side at a time.  Sewing, pressing and trimming.

Assemble all parts in units.  Units sewn to units.  Pin where necessary to ensure points align.

I fussy cut the flower pot for my windows.  And had to piece some fabric of the house.  Hey!  It's scraps - right?

And voila!  Block 1 is finished.  Only 15 more to go!

Here's the Schedule
Block 2    October 7th
Block 3    October 21st
Block 4    November 4th
Block 5    November 18th
Block 6    December 2nd
Block 7    December 16th
Block 8    December 30th
Block 9    January 13th
Block 10  January 27th
Block 11  February 10th
Block 12  February 24th
Block 13  March 10th
Block 14  March 24th
Block 15  April 7th
Block 16 and Setting   April 21st

Now what did you put in the Crock Pot for dinner?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Breaking Ground on Be My Neighbor Sew Along

Starting a new project is always fun for a quilter.  This one checks two things off my bucket list - using up scraps and a "house" quilt.

So let's get organized and set up for a sixteen block quilt.

The quilt patterns come in grey scale, so there is no correct color and I do not expect that any two will look alike.  I'll be posting pics of my progress and I encourage you to share your progress, too.

Share with the #ModaBeMyNeighbor tag on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.

Ok - I sound like a broken record, but let's start with your machine!
When was the last time you popped the needleplate and cleaned the bobbin area?  (Check the Blog Archive for a recent post for machine cleaning.)

And new project - let's change that needle.  I like a size 75/11 or 80/12 Sharp.

Thread.  I prefer a 50 wt for piecing.  Lets go ahead and pre-wind several bobbins.  Choose a thread color complimentary of your fabrics.  I usually select a cream or grey/greenish leaning thread.  It tends to blend into any fabric.

Cutting mats, rotary cutters (change that blade - leaning harder means it's time for a new blade), scissors, and cutting rulers.  Don't forget the seam ripper!

And then there is that fabric....

I chose to use my extensive collection of scraps!

There are lots of blog and opinions out there about what to keep, how to keep it, and how to use it!  Well, I keep anything an inch and over, keep it in a basket, or sorted by color in drawers.  And I am about to use it!  No pre-cutting and more sorting.

So I am picking as I go - colors, prints,  just making it fun!

And you can may need a set up the iron and ironing board.  I have a small pressing board which reverses to a cutting mat and cordless iron right next to my machine.  Reduces steps and keeps me working.

 So put the Crock Pot on...and let's sew!   Look for Block 1 tomorrow!

Here's the Schedule
Block 1    September 23rd
Block 2    October 7th
Block 3    October 21st
Block 4    November 4th
Block 5    November 18th
Block 6    December 2nd
Block 7    December 16th
Block 8    December 30th
Block 9    January 13th
Block 10  January 27th
Block 11  February 10th
Block 12  February 24th
Block 13  March 10th
Block 14  March 24th
Block 15  April 7th
Block 16 and Setting   April 21st

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Getting At Those Dustbunnies

April showers bring May flowers!  Showers clean away the grubby remains of winter.  And that's what we're doing today.  Cleaning out the fuzzy remains of those last 29 quilting/sewing projects!

These instructions are written for a  sewing machine with a top-loading bobbin.  Many of today's modern machines are top-loading.  But there are a few front or side-loading bobbins that we will discuss in another post.

So get your tools ready! Gather everything and let's get started! 

A good brush is essential.  There are brushes specifically sold for sewing machine cleaning.  Don't forget to check the automotive section of your local hardware store.  That's where I found the brush with the puffy red end.  It's for cleaning your dashboard and air vents.  A small paint brush is also handy for sewing machines.  Don't forget pipe cleaners and Q-tips for tight places.  Tweezers, not pictured, are good for grabbing on to loose threads or reaching in to tight spaces.

You should have a bottle of sewing machine oil handy.  DO NOT use any other type of lubricant or oil than what is SPECIFICALLY labeled as sewing machine oil. If your oil appears cloudy or yellowed, it's time for a fresh bottle.  Don't worry, it's inexpensive.  Repairmen are not!

A small lid from a plastic container for screws and small parts. And last, but not least, a small screwdriver.  Stubby, short ones work great for removing needleplate.

First let's remove the needle.  Dispose of safely.

Remove the screws from your needleplate.  Store them in a small lid where they won't roll away and become lost.  Remove bobbin cover and bobbin.

Remove the needleplate and store safely aside.

If you are unsure or haven't done this before, you may want a digital camera, phone with a camera, or a tablet to take pictures of your machine parts and placement for reference.  It may come in handy when you go to put things back together.

Having exposed the bobbin area where most of the bunnies breed, you'll want to remove the bobbin case next.  Here you will find the rotary hook - the silver round thingy!

If you haven't cleaned in a while - or EVER - you might find a compacted accumulation of lint and threads.  Depending on what materials you are sewing, this can build up fast.  Flannels, cotton quilt batting, and inexpensive threads are the biggest culprits.

Clean this area with a Q-tip with a drop of sewing machine oil.  It works like a magnet attracting dust.  Place a drop of oil at the bottom of the rotary hook.

Continue to clean the area around the hook with Q-tip, brushes, and/or tweezers.  If you have a automatic thread cutter, ensure it is free of stray threads.

Check the feed dogs for accumulated and compacted lint between the rows of teeth.  Remove with blade of small screwdriver or tweezers.

Once you have ensured that everything is clean and clear, it's time to put everything back together.

Before you replace the bobbin case, ensure it is clean and free of lint and threads.  If your case has a little tab of felt, DO NOT REMOVE!  It belongs there.
The bobbin case should lie flat in the rotary hook.  Not cockeyed!  To ensure you have placed it correctly, rotate the hand wheel towards you one full rotation slowly.  The rotary hook should rotate smoothly and completely without hanging up on bobbin case.  If the case gets hung up, STOP.  Remove and replace bobbin case correctly.

Now replace the needleplate and screws.  Tighten securely, but do not over tighten.

Insert a fresh needle for your next project.

Repeat this process often for best machine performance and longevity.  Try at least every 2-3 bobbin changes.  And if you sew often, send your machine to your dealer or qualified repairman for annual spa day maintenance.  Don't wait until something goes horribly wrong in the middle of a project - because, it will, you know!

These items are available in our store.  Click here to shop.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Spring has Sprung

It's been a while and I am bound and determined to get back to blogging.  Spring seems like the best time.  Everything is fresh, renewed, and growing.  Awoken from the long winter's nap!

It’s that time of year.  Taxes are done and things need to be put away.

Winter is slowly losing its grip and those beautiful spring clothes with bright colors catch our eyes!

Someone recently commented that she saved slivers of fabrics for the birds to collect for their nests!  What a great idea!  And wouldn’t it be fun to find a bird enjoying her own beautiful fabric!   So what is your Spring project?  I’m tackling my sewing room.  Here’s the plan…

Clear out the piles.  Where to start?  Well, somewhere, anywhere, any pile – just start.  Clear off a surface because you need that space.  Sort things by project, and by use and what you want to save, throw away, or give away.  Can’t find that tool that you bought – it’s probably in one of those piles!  Stack fabrics by color on accessible shelving or by project and put tools in
jars or baskets that make them easy to access.

Keep in reach what you use the most.   What do you use every time you sew?  Scissors, rulers, rotary cutters and pins need to be easily at hand and safely stored.
Group supplies in task areas.  Pressing supplies should be by the ironing board, cutting supplies near the cutting table.  Re-purpose items.  A cutlery baskets is good for storing pens, scissors and any number of things.

Check out more storage ideas on our Pinterest page.

And this was found on All People Quilt.

Get rid of anything that no longer inspires you.  Throw them out or better yet, sell them or donate them.  Gather all the fabrics, patterns and instructions that go with that project and place them in a clear bag.  Take them to your next guild meeting, or donate them to a church, assisted living facility, 4H Club, or prison program.   Or use UFO’s for quilting practice.

Label and Mark Your Supplies.

Spring Cleaning makes getting started on the next project an enjoyable affair!  Less stress and let’s face it – an organized sewing room just looks great! 

Show us your favorite clean space.  Yes, you can brag!

Or your disaster!  Your quilting / Sewing sisters/brothers will help!

Who knows, you may win a FREE Fat Quarter.  Submission are due by April 10, 2016.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Learning Experiences

I have been out of the loop and off the grid for a while, but I am back! Did some pre-summer vacationing, visited with our children, and did some traveling.  A bit of battery recharging.  Highly recommend it to everyone!
It takes some thought to get back in the groove.  Things that you forget if you are not doing them everyday. So that is my subject of the day - What are the most valuable lessons that you have learned?  Were they your biggest mistakes?
Barbie and her quilt

Having begun my first quilt many years ago, I have learned a few things since that time.  Those early quilts weren't pretty  and quite a number remain unfinished in a box somewhere.  Frustration and inexperience having got the best of me, I put them aside and moved on to something new.  Do you have a few of these UFO's? a box of them?  a closet of them?

There were few, if any, classes on quilting available when I began quilting.  Just a few tips from well meaning friends and guidance from Grandma.  My mother was never a quilter.  She sewed, as many of her generation, only out of necessity. Having myself married a Marine, we were never stationed close to home where we could pop in for a quick bit of advice.  And there was no YouTube to search for a helpful technique video!  So I was pretty much on my own.

My quarter-inch seams were adequate. I thought!  It was a mystery as to why seams were not perfect.  I avoided points!!  Later I began to understand the importance of accurate cutting, accurate sewing, accurate pressing,  resulting in accurate piecing!

And every good quilt does need some thought and preparation.  Whether it is your own creation or you are working from a pattern.  Carefully plan your cutting and sewing.  Read through the pattern completely - start to end.  Even pattern designers make mistakes!  So no matter how tempting to start right in - grab your favorite beverage, find a cozy chair, and read / plan every step.  Assemble every tool and fabric you will need, wind some bobbins and change your cutting blades.

There is nothing more I hate than cutting a piece at the wrong size, but I have done that more times than I would like to admit!  Check out my scrap basket!  Can you relate?

And then comes assembly.  Again, if you aren't paying close attention - you could be setting yourself up for lots more work!  Like sewing an additional row of piecing that did not belong on a block.  AAAAGH! Every block in the quilt is wrong.  Additionally, it was a waste of fabric.  I set that whole quilt aside and it is on my TODO list to un-sew.  Un-sewing is my least favorite thing to do, but it must be done to move forward!  (TODO is another quilting term meaning at some indefinite time in the near or far future - could be never. )

Placing a quilt on the frame to begin quilting is always an exciting step.  But again, pay attention!  After stopping to replace an empty bobbin, I failed to check that I had inserted the bobbin correctly or even check the tension.  It has to be done every time you change the bobbin.  Yes, there is a correct way to insert  a bobbin.  Your sewing machine does not like to sew when the bobbin is backwards!  Much later - much too much later, I discovered the tangled mess that the bobbin had left on the backside of the quilt.  And of course, it was not loose enough to just give a tug on the thread and it would all easily pull out.  Leaning across a quilting frame for an hour is not a fun afternoon activity.  FROGGING is another quilting term I have learned.  It is called FROGGING because you have to RIP IT out.

Many times, I have been asked, "How do you know so much?"  Well, it could be because I have had that problem before!  My motto is -"There are no mistakes - only learning experiences!"

When you look at it from this perspective, keep in mind that is ok to have a "learning experience."  Just keep them to a minimum by preparation and planning and with careful and thoughtful execution.

And what is your favorite "learning experience?"

Happy Quilting!