Monday, January 24, 2022

What's in your Genes?

 Believe it or not!!...

Quilters DO have other hobbies!

There are other interests and sometimes they happily cross over.

Some quilters have other crafting interests such as hand or machine embroidery, scrapbooking, painting, and the list goes on...  Some are into gardening, photography...and I often find that whatever it compliments their quilting interests.

This one I wasn't quite expecting. I dabble in family history...genealogy.  Haven't given it much attention in the past few years as I have come to the end of the trail where a few branches are concerned.  

Just browsing through YouTube the other day, a suggested video caught my eye.  It was about using Google Books for genealogy research.  It was a very interesting discussion.

Looking through old newspapers, look what I found!  Suddenly I'm off on another rabbit chase...for old newspaper clippings with block patterns!

Edwardsville Intelligencer, March of 1933

If you are interested in genealogy as well and would like to watch Lisa's YouTube about how to use Google Books, here's the link:

How did your other interests lead you back to quilting?

Have a great week!


Monday, January 10, 2022

January Organization


It seems that it happens every January. It's a new year. Everyone's into making resolutions, choosing their word(s) for the year, cleaning out the old and making room for the new. Blogs and YouTube are full of organizational videos.

Last year, I vowed to complete a stack of quilts.  All UFOs.  Some needed to be quilted and some just needed binding attached.  I can say that I did wrap some of those up succesfully.  Finding time to sew for yourself can be difficult when you run a business of sewing / quilting for others.  Some projects still remain, but I count it as a resolution met...if only partially.

I started a Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quiltalong at the end of last year.  #RhododendronTrail   I do this every year, it seems, and then after a couple clues, I give up.  I keep the pattern clues thinking that I may get “around to it” but always find an excuse to fall out completely.  I don’t have the right colors.  There are too many pieces.  It’s tax time and I really want to get the books done.  Or there’s a new class I am trying to develop.  The latter two excuses always win out.

This year, I am making a valiant effort to clean out and clean up my sewing studio.  It seems there are scraps of fabric and projects left unfinished every where.  Bonnie's quilt is helping empty some bins.  At the same time, my sorting and getting things put away is refilling my scraps.  I may have to revisit her older challenges!

I've been following a challenge by Just Get It Done Quilts. Karen Brown has some good tips and reminders that I “just need to get it done!”  View her Declutter Challenge here:

Day seven was all about threads. Boy, could I relate! Karen talks about threads that have been around in our cupboards forever. Threads that we've inherited and threads that we have no idea where they came from.


I have this tub of threads that I've been meaning to go through and toss out all the strays. And this seems to be the opportunity to do just that. I figured if I turn this into a blog post it might inspire me / shame me by making it public to finally go through and sort out the things that just don't belong and I'm never going to use.

I'll bet you have a tub or a drawer just like this one!

First, that zipper doesn't belong.  I have another tub for those.  And 70 cents?  How long have I had that??!


Most of these I am sure came from my Grandmother's collection or I have had since I first began sewing.  Either's too long!

  • I spy a Ben Franklin price sticker...gone!  Yes, the store AND the thread!
  • Empty spools.  wooden spools...well maybe for a decorative jar of antiquities!
  • Girl Scout patches that never got sewn on my daughters GS vest.  How did those get there?  Good intentions, I guess.
  • Unmarked foam spools that probably came with a long ago used up or discarded sewing kit.

Yes, unfortunately, many of these soldiers ended up in the bin.  The box will be re-purposed and re-labeled.

Did I inspire you to do the same?

Friday, October 26, 2018

One hundred and sixty some years ago singer introduced a household treadle sewing machine. Since then sewing, quilting, and embroidery has come a long way.

Recently I began backing up the huge library of photos that I have converted to digital files. I am using the new Google photo tool library to store digital photos in the cloud. You've got to try this! Google offers and unlimited storage. And I didn't know how many photos I really had.  Looking through them recently I found photos that I totally forgot I had.

I found photos of my grandparents and their new farm north of town and a very young family. Pictures of my grandfather farming with their two horses reminded me of how far farming technology has come.

Both of my grandmothers quilted and used very primitive means by today's standards. They quilted at home and with groups of other women at church. Today I am participating in a quilting mystery with women all over the world. How times have changed!

If you're interested in all things modern and computerized sewing and quilting, I have a new blog just for you. The Digital Quilting Bee talks about computerized quilt design, quilting and machine embroidery digital creation, and long arm computerized quilting. I'm a quilting geek at heart and love anything  that I can create on the computer, share with others, and create something fabulous. Join us!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Pre-school to Quilting

Pre-School Scribbles to Free Motion Quilting

A news story yesterday gathered my attention recently. It was a local piece about a young lady who had won a handwriting award from a national society. I can't remember seeing an award such as that recently or maybe it's just not reportable anymore. There has been buzz lately regarding how cursive writing is no longer taught in schools. It is one of the archaic subjects the educational gurus feel we no longer need.

I beg to differ and see handwriting, cursive in particular, as one of those necessary subjects. Sure we're all on the computers these days and keyboards have taken the place of our scribblings on paper. We jot down the grocery list on an App on our phone or talk to Google or Alexis to remind us to buy milk, toilet paper, and eggs. But in order to fully communicate with each other, it is necessary to put into writing, or to put down on paper, our thoughts, feelings, and expressions. It is also necessary to be able to read the communications from another. Receiving a hand written letter still can't quite take place of an email or a text message.

The very performance of handwriting trains our brain to move our hands in a particular direction. It requires the firing of those little neurons to move the muscles in our hands to perform a ballet of swirls and swishes to create sensible scribbles of communication.

As quilters, handwriting is transformed into our quilting motions to create free-form designs for our finishing stitches applied to our quilt tops. In teaching free motion quilting, I often start new quilters with what they know – writing their name in cursive. It is the motion they are most familiar with. So that leads me to the subject of the next string of blog posts. We're going to talk about free motion quilting on a domestic sewing machine or long arm. You can be a beginner or more experienced quilter wanting to improve their free motion quilting skills.

So grab a notebook with plenty of paper and sharpen your pencils. Were going to brush up on our cursive skills and who knows, maybe you'll be up for a handwriting award next year!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Game Day Mug Rug in Art and Stitch Plus

There's going to be a "BIG GAME" this weekend!  Have you heard?

I whipped up this mug rug design in my machine embroidery digitizing software.  Yes, you might ask me for the FREE design if you don't have embroidery software.

Check out the video (and other videos) on my YouTube Channel.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Part 2-Purchasing an Embroidery Machine

So we discussed some things to think about when you set out to buy a new sewing machine.  Now let's talk about another option.  Maybe you've seen some fun things done with an embroidery machine.  Monogram on towels are great, but there is so much more.  But hold on to your hat!  Like starting up any new craft, it can get expensive quickly.

It may have crossed your mind that this may become a business.  Again, do your homework before jumping in with both feet.  An embroidery business can be rewarding, but it does require investment of time and money.  Let's talk about embroidery as just a hobby.

First, deciding on a machine.  Again-lot's of choices.  And if you have NO experience, you'll want good support AFTER the sale.  Is the support within an easy travel distance?  You will probably have to take your machine and all your supplies to a class. You can take embroidery classes, but machines can vary with functions.  You'll want to learn on your machine.

Capabilities of the Machine.
Hoop Size
The more affordable machine may only have a maximum hoop size of 4x4 (inches).  That will be fine for the majority of designs out there.  But then comes that one design you find (that you have to have) that won't fit inside that hoop.

Someone says, "Oh, that's easy!  Split the design!"  Well, yes and no.  You will need to buy software to split the design and then have the skill to re-hoop your project and re-align the design.  There are some re-positionable hoops that assist with split designs without re-hooping, but that's another purchase.  (Beginning to understand why we need to think this through?)

Machine Communications
There will be some designs (and maybe letters or fonts)  included with your machine.  They are installed.  But you will need to get other designs (whether purchased or downloaded) to your machine.  Some machines require a direct hook-up to your computer, or designs can be transferred via a thumb drive.  Older machines may have a "card" option. This option requires a "card writer."  Yes, another option and purchase.

Depending on the machine you select, some design editing can be done by the machine.  Changing machine formats (not all machine brands speak the same language), enlarging a design, monogram designs, changing thread colors, combining or splitting designs, and digitizing (creating) your own designs are just a few things that software can do.

Here, again, there are lots of choices.  And many have free trials.  I encourage you to try them.  You most likely will not be able to save any work.  You will just be able to play and explore the capabilities.  And you should have some computer knowledge.  Some programs will work with Macs as well as PCs.  Some will not.

And, I assume, since you are reading this, you have a computer.  You need a computer.

Threads, Needles, and Stabilizers

Yes, there's more to buy to get started.  They are all necessary to get a good sew out.  It's another big subject - too many variations to get into here.  Just put it on your shopping list.

My intent is not to discourage or dissuade you from wading into the "embroidery" pool.  Just don't get in over your head.  Embroidery can be so much fun and very rewarding. I want to see you enjoying the processes and not frustrated by them.

If you missed our previous discussion about starting the sewing machine purchase process, click HERE to begin.

Want to know more?  Just ask...

Happy Sewing!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Purchasing a Sewing Machine - Things You Should Know

So you have decided to purchase a sewing machine.  And it's overwhelming - the choices available.  Let's break it down and look at what this all means.  Today, more than ever, there are so many choices.  It can be confusing and you may be left frustrated after your purchase without carefully considering your options. 
I don't want you to have a machine, in the box, occupying a corner of your closet.  You could just pile your money there right now if that's the case!  We don't want that!  So let's get started!

First, what are your needs and requirements?  And what is your budget?

Is this your first machine?  Or are you replacing a sewing machine - maybe the old machine isn't working (too expensive to repair)  or you are wanting to upgrade?
What do you sew?  Or want to sew?  Will a simple mechanical machine with a straight stitch, or a few zig-zag and button hole stitches, fit the bill?  Will you require more decorative stitch features?  Are you wanting to try some machine embroidery?  

Wow!  That was a lot of questions! Let's try some answers...

A simple machine will do...
Ok.  Do you need new?  Or will a vintage machine do the trick?  Second hand stores, auctions (estates, local and on-line), yard sales, church rummage sales, basements, barns, and even back alleys are full of inexpensive quality machines that still have years of service left in them.
Look for a clean, rust free, model with no cracked wiring and a hand wheel that turns freely.  Accessories and a manual are a bonus, but bobbin case, power cord and foot control are a necessity.

If this is your first machine, or you are new to sewing, and you are NOT feeling particularly adventurous, I WOULD NOT suggest you purchase your machine from Amazon or Wal-Mart.  The UPS man or the guy in tires will not be able to help you choose a needle for your next project or solve that tension issue.
Look for a local sewing center or quilt shop that may offer classes and knowledgeable staff.  And be sure to look for or ask about that support BEFORE you purchase.  If there is none, move on!  Yes, you might pay slightly more, but chances are that, if any difference, it will be recouped and worth the slight extra.

WORD OF CAUTION!  Trucks that pull up in a parking lot with "Classroom" machines, machines that sew leather, or are a "Serger-Combo" ARE NOT a good buy!  Your money and support drives off into the sunset when they pack up and leave the parking lot.  These guys are kind of like the vans that drive around your neighborhood with a load of great buys on meat!  Sketchy!

I've never seen a nice, well loved Home-Ec Classroom machine.  They have been abused by teenagers, and have broken or missing parts.  And really, where are these school that still offer Home-Ec?
Any machine will sew leather depending on weight of leather and if you use a leather needle.
"Serger-Combo" refers to an attachment.  It is a foot with a cutting attachment that does not cut very well, and guarantee you will want to throw it at the guy who sold it to you.  The machine sews a stitch resembling a cover stitch.  But Sewing Machines and Sergers are two different animals.

Final words.  Sit down and drive several brands.  Some sew smoother and quieter. Some will sew faster.  Find the model and brand that meets your comfort level.

So this is getting long.  Lots to digest.  We'll continue tomorrow with Part 2 - Buying an Embroidery Machine.

Happy Sewing !