Various & Sundry 2019 #11

BOO! Happy Halloween! For those of you not celebrating, here is an action packed V&S for your reading pleasure.

The Canva Color Wheel describes itself as making color combinations easy. I haven’t checked it out in detail. Let me know what you find out.

Scientific American has an article on innovative and ancient uses of silk.

Charlotte over at the Slightly Mad Quilt Lady blog writes an interesting article about the Auckland Symposium. The silver quilts are really amazing.

Charlotte also brings up some good points about talking about your work fluently in a slightly older blog post. One thing I didn’t see in the post was never to apologize for your quilt -not the design, not any flaws or errors, not the fabrics. Don’t apologize. If someone compliments you, say thank you.

Projects, Patterns & Tutorials

Sewing Illustration has some interesting patterns, especially one, called the Clearly Carry All Pouch, that has a vinyl top, which would be great for carrying stuff you need to see. I also like the Triangle Pencil Case. What a great shape!

Bonnie Hunter put out the introduction to her annual mystery quilt today. Look for her post on Frolic! A Winter Mystery Quilt.

Have you been thinking about some fan type blocks? Spiky fans? Check out Barbara Brackman’s post on the subject, then take a look at my tutorial to learn to make the blocks. She shows a number of quilts and provides some information on Karen Stone’s quilts.

Mary gave me a link to Mrs. H’s bags and patterns. The site has patterns to purchase, a few free patterns, and some tutorials. She recommends 2Minutes2Stitch for bag hardware in the US. I am always on the hunt for good bag hardware. I’ll let you know if I buy something from them.

The holidays are coming. I saw this small, but pretty needle book project that might be just the thing for a friend. Choose fresh, cheerful fabrics to banish the dark, winter days.

Need an idea for a gift or swap project? What about the stationery pouch by Minki Kim? It could be used for pens and pencils or a small purse to put in your work or guild tote.

Barbara Brackman is still going strong with her Daredevil’s Block of the Week project. Elsa’s Star is a good one and some of the examples Barbara posts are fun. The latest is Evelyn’s Star. This is the last block in the QAL, so get busy putting those tops together. In a separate post, Barbara talks about borders for this quilt.

Bonnie Hunter’s post Thanksgiving mystery quilt project is coming. She often does the introductory post around Hallowe’en, so go to the Quiltville website to look for it.

The ByAnnie company has a number of free patterns on their website. I received a catalog with a recent order and thought there were a few things that would be handy for gifts. Petit Four Baskets would be great for organizing items on your dresser, cutting table or sewing table. Piecekeeper has a handle and a zipper, so if you have not done either of those, this would be a good project for you. I am kind of partial to the Flower Wrist Pincushion. It would make a great gift. All of these projects are small and will give  you practice in making bags.

Exhibits & Events
Marianne Fons and Liz Porter have an exhibit of their best quilt at the quilt museum in Winterset. Marianne writes about it on her blog.

Fabric, Supplies, Tools & Notions

I have been buying a lot of zippers lately as I go through my bagmaking binge. I found a zipper vendor that says they manufacture zippers in LA and ship zippers internationally. I haven’t checked their site out thoroughly yet, but I am in the market for a handbag zipper so I will soon. This may be a wholesaler, which would be sad.

I saw the Smith General Store in Love of Patchwork & Quilting. They have a small, but interesting selection of fabric. They also carry finished quilts.

One of the topics in the FB Kaffe Fassett Collective group is where to buy Kaffe fabrics. This isn’t really a problem for me, but recently I checked out a few shops (very dangerous) and found that Island Quilter has a great selection of my man Phil’s fabrics.

Other Artists

I love these paper dresses – yes, paper!

Quilt Diva Julie has made major progress on her bird quilt and her zap of lightning idea looks fabulous.

Tips & Tricks

Crafty Gemini has some bag making tips in preparation for her new bagmaking club.

Silvia’s Jane Market Tote

Silvia's Jane Market Tote
Silvia’s Jane Market Tote

I started a new Jane Market Tote over the weekend. It will be a gift for my NSGW friend Silvia. She drove me all around while we were in SoCal and found Cat’s Quilting Corner, which was a great shop.

I am really pleased with how it is coming along, though I am annoyed at myself for cutting another lining wrong! I seem to do that every time with this pattern. I think I will make a template, as ridiculous as that sounds.

Poolside Tote for Mom

Poolside Tote for Mom
Poolside Tote for Mom

I made a Poolside Tote* for Mom. I have that paint tube fabric to use for gifts for her. I want to make her items that she will use. I sent it off on Wednesday.

She received it Friday and said that she really liked it. I am glad.

If you are familiar with the Poolside Tote pattern*, you know that it is large. I had a hard time photographing it since my workroom is a WRECK, so I put it on the YM’s bed and photographed it there.

She said she liked the large size. I hope to make some things that she can put inside when she goes on a trip or to Sew Day. Not sure how she will use it.

Poolside Tote for Mom - inside
Poolside Tote for Mom – inside

The pattern calls for a D-ring, so I put one in. Currently it is a place for her keys and, later, anything I make for her that has a lobster clip. See bottom right of inside photo.












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Book Review: Quilts in the Cotswolds

Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in the Cotswolds: Medallion Quilt Designs with Kaffe Fassett FabricsKaffe Fassett’s Quilts in the Cotswolds: Medallion Quilt Designs with Kaffe Fassett Fabrics* by Kaffe Fassett

This is the latest from Fassett‘s book list. He was in the Bay Area recently and, as I mentioned, Friend Julie and I attended his lecture at the McAfee Center in Saratoga. At the time of signups for the classes, I didn’t feel like I had the spare cash to participate in a class. My compromise was this book.

His books are very similar to each other. The designs are simple and I don’t need a book to make them. I buy his books because of the color, fabrics and photography. The projects in this book are even simpler than some of his previous books. They are all medallion style patterns, as the subtitle on the title page, “Medallion quilt designs with Kaffe Collective fabrics” describes.

The lushness of the fabrics and photos starts immediately on the title page (pg.1) with a photo of the “My Folded Ribbons” pattern (pattern on pg.28, 106). The two page table of contents / Title page verso spread shows Glamping Medallion (pattern on pg. 32, 64). It is named after the fabric by Brandon Mably I think looks more like circus tents and wonder if they changed the name when ‘glamping’ became popular.

The table of contents (pg.3) shows an intro, entries for 19 patterns plus sections for templates, basic quiltmaking, a glossary and other information. The introduction starts on pg.4. In it Kaffe writes “Many of the layouts were originally inspired by old recipes found in vintage quilt books… My favourite (sic) design in this book is, however, a completely new one: the Folded Ribbons quilt on page 28” (pg.4). I am intrigued by those vintage quilt books though he doesn’t say anymore about them. I first read ‘village’ instead of vintage. Images of Womens’ Institute ladies carefully drafting patterns for their village quilt pamphlet flooded my mind.

In the introduction Kaffe also talks about his choice of Hidcote, the location for the photos. He discusses his admiration for “the insight to create something so deliciously structured, coupled with the amazing patience to sit by year after year until it matures into being” (pg.4). I don’t see this as very different than quiltmaking. Beginners can make a quick project (like buying a pot plant) and feel successful. To have gratifying success in quiltmaking takes the patience to learn new and varied techniques. It also takes practice.

In the introduction, I saw a quilt I want to make. It is Pink Squares and the pattern appears on pg.54. There is a photo of it on page 5 and it caught my attention because of the center. I bought a Fruit Basket medallion piece of fabric I have never known how to showcase. This pattern would allow me to showcase it. As a bonus, I could also show various flowers from various prints. The pink doesn’t go with anything in my house, but I still love this quilt. It would be great Mind Sorbet as well.

The introduction gives a bit of history of Hidcote house and gardens (pg.6). The photos are lovely, both of the quilts in the Hidcote setting and various surprises from the location itself (pg.6-7). The are several pages of photos of the quilts on location (pg.7-45) before the patterns start on pg.46. This group of pages gives the reader a chance to see the quilts in a beautiful setting, see details of the designs and examine the fabric/color combinations.

This visual extravaganza includes references to the quilt pattern shown. some color combinations are not my favorites, e.g. Autumn Colors. In this book, I find admiration for all of the colors and fabrics used. Golden Medallion is one that falls into this category (pg.16-17, pattern on pg.118-122). I don’t know if I am more enamoured with orange at the moment or if this quilt is just very appealing. Regardless, it glows. There is enough purple, blue and green to make the warm tones special. Also, they limit the red so the quilt looks predominantly yellow or amber.

I wish the photograph labels had included the page for the pattern. Still they are not difficult to find. Kaffe freely admits to reusing the Berry Ice Cream design for the 4th time (pg.18-19)! This tells me that the fabrics are the ingredient that make the designs unique. He says “It’s always very exciting each year to use our new prints in various color combinations, but I particularly love reworking a previous layout in a fresh color scheme…” (pg.6).

Pink Squares, my favorite, is featured again on pages 30-31 with another two page spread showing the quilt (pg.30) and the flowers that inspired the color scheme (pg.31).

Some of the piecing weirdnesses in the book show up in Glamping Medallion (pg.33). The detail shows a cut fig (?) fabric border. The corners come together strangely. Most people probably don’t care, but I would miter the corners or try to match the prints better or add a cornerstone to make those corners less jarring.

I really like the yellow and pink combinations of Sunny Zig Zag (pg.34-35).

Julie and I looked at the various photos of Lavender Ice Cream quite a bit (pg.40-41). We were trying to decide if there were one or two quilts using those fabrics. We finally decided on one quilt photographed in different lighting. There is a wisteria draped over the quilt (pg.41) and it is hard to tell where the plant ends and the quilt begins.

The design for Autumn Checkerboard has two versions in this compilation, Autumn Checkerboard (pg.44-45) and Graphite Medallion (pg.27). I like the colors in the former a lot better. This quilt also uses cornerstones so it doesn’t suffer from the same corner problem I described about Glamping Medallion (pg.33) above.

Malachite Jupiter (pattern pg.50-53) has a striking emerald color scheme. this quilt uses cornerstones to great effect. The directional fabric is carefully placed so as not to be jarring. There is enough red and blue to keep the quilt from being too green.

Each pattern includes printed “swatches” of the fabrics used. Each of the swatches has the name, color, and possibly the line. Each of the fabrics is numbered as well. This is helpful if you want to make an exact copy or select fabrics similar in color to retain the overall look of the quilts in the book.

To use these patterns, you need to designate your fabrics for certain locations. The patterns say something like “from fabric 2 cut 2 squares 7 5/8″ (19.4 cm)” (pg.51), so you need to know which of your fabrics is fabric 2, etc, which will , further, tell you where to place it. The layout and sewing diagrams are very clear and in color. Assuming you are organized, these short patterns give the maker all the information s/he needs to make the quilts.

On the first page of each pattern is a full color photo of the quilt shown flat. In the photo of Pink Squares (pg.54), I notice that there isn’t much quilting, especially in the borders. While the borders aren’t large, the pulling is noticeable. Most of the quilts have simple quilting, so as not to interfere with the fabrics. I agree with this choice as too much enthusiastic quilting can ruin the look of a quilt. In general, the author(s) found a good compromise. The reader can find close-up shots of the quilting in some of the detail shots such as page 56, page 88 and some of full shots, if you look carefully. There is a fine line between too much and too little quilting.

Russian Knot Garden (pg.59-63) is an example of a quilt that could easily look over-the-top. The darks, however, are well placed to keep the look from being too much.

The quilt patterns, with their full photos, have been arranged so different quilts whose color schemes are different are next to each other. This arrangement makes me feel like I am receiving an unexpected surprised every time I turn the page.

Stone Flower, a fabric with distinct urns / vases of flowers is used quite a bit in this book to good effect (pg.72,73,82).

The alternate blocks in Autumn Chintz (pattern pg.77-81) uses the fabric Spot in Royal. Again the piecing makes this a jarring choice (pg.77), but I understand why the technique was chosen. The fabric is a good alternate to all of the Chrysanthemums, however cutting it up and putting it back together is jarring. Still, I wonder if, with a few Y seams and careful piecing, if squares couldn’t be used. This would make the piecing more challenging and not as quick. I think a square would create a better effect. I am done with large hexagons (famous last words, right?), but I would try my changes if I were to make this quilt.

The corner matching is much better in Sunny Beyond the Border (pattern pg.82-85). The maker did a better job of matching the corners (pg.82).

The quilts seem to get slightly more difficult as the book progresses. Flowery Jar (pattern pg.86-90) has some applique’ and skinny triangles. Templates and clear directions are given for both. Jewel Hexagons (pattern pg.100-101) has some hexagon blossoms, such as one would see in a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. These require paper piecing and applique’. Again, templates and clear instructions are given with visual examples. Folded Ribbons (pattern pg.106-110) might be better in fabrics that create a more emphatic 3D effect. Cool Imari Plate (pattern pg.111-117) includes a Dresden Plate and Eight Pointed Stars.

Templates, reduced in size for publication are included after the patterns, starting on pg.137. The templates are followed by the “Patchwork Know-How” section. In addition to basic quiltmaking directions, the authors include some information about the fabrics, which I didn’t notice until I read about them in this section.

The techniques used, mostly, do not include machine applique’ and quick piecing techniques. There are interesting bits of information that are normally not included in these standard ‘basic patchwork’ sections. I was interested to see some instructions on finger pressing (pg.147), making quilting designs and motifs (pg.148), joining batting (pg.148) and tied quilting (pg.148). The glossary of terms (pg.150), except for one last photo and some into about Taunton Press and Free Spirit Fabrics, is the last bit of helpful information in this book.

I found this book to be very inspiring. As I read it, the overall effect of the book stayed in my mind. I could leafed through the images in my mind as I fell asleep at night.

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White Donation Quilt Options

I have enough of the white scrap donation blocks now to make a quilt. This set of blocks has seemed to take forever, though I know it probably has not been as forever as I think.

White Donation Blocks - late October 2019
White Donation Blocks – late October 2019

In looking at this set, I am not sure I want to alternate the blocks with plain blocks. I get the sense that those plain blocks can overwhelm delicate piecing. On the other hand,a plain block, might set off the piecing. Hhhhmmm.

I am also not sure I want to add skinny sashing. It would be difficult to piece and keep straight because of the all the seams and layers in the block. I am unwilling to go on an amazing design journey with these blocks so I have decided that I have three options.

First, is alternating my pieced blocks with plain blocks. Second is a skinny sashing with (or possibly without) cornerstones and, third, is a slightly larger width sashing with  cornerstones. I’d like to have a top ready for Sew Day or the November meeting. I am leaning towards the last option.

My next problem is the sashing color. I would default to light, but that would blend in with the blocks. Perhaps some dots?

Sewing Room Organization Tips and Ideas

This article was originally posted on the Redfin site on August 21, 2019 by Jennifer Karami. It was updated on October 13, 2019. I have permission to repost it here.


fabric scissors sewing tape

A sewing room is a space where you can concentrate and indulge in your passion – whether that be sewing, knitting, quilting, or another form of crafting. It’s the perfect place to keep your supplies organized, plan projects, and concentrate without interruption. For those who take clients professionally, the sewing room may be your show space for completed projects or a private spot for fittings and consultations. If you have small children, it’s also the best way to ensure that curious fingers aren’t hurt! Regardless, a dedicated area is a must if you’re serious about crafting. These sewing room organization tips will give you guidelines for what you need in your sew zone, what you don’t, and how to create the sewing room of your dreams.

What you need in a sewing room

You don’t need a ton of space to establish your sewing area. If your square footage is limited, like in a smaller home or apartment, your sewing room could simply be a corner with a table and some storage shelves. Your particular needs will depend on the specific type of work that you’ll be doing, but there are a few universal basics all crafters should know.

“We highly recommend a full-body mirror or three-way mirror in your sewing space. This is extremely helpful if you’re planning to tailor clothing for yourself or others. If you know you are going to be working on a lot of formal gowns and dresses, make sure you purchase a small step stool to have your clients stand on during fittings.”

– Aladdin Hussein, Owner of Artful Tailoring 

sewing tape wrapped around mannequinn

Sewing machine

Obviously, you’ll need a good sewing machine. You may also wish to have a serger or industrial-strength machinery for leatherwork. If your sewing projects include embroidery or beadwork, then you’ll need an embroidery machine and specialty equipment, while quilters may find a long-arm machine useful.

Electrical outlets

If you’re able, have a few extra electrical outlets installed in the space. You’ll be surprised how many things you’ll need to plug in! If that’s not an option, invest in some industrial-strength surge protection power strips, and make sure that they can accommodate a three-pronged plug.

Sewing table

Cutting and sewing projects can damage a regular table, so a sewing table is a worthwhile investment. The surface should be sturdy and able to handle the movement of the equipment without shaking. You can buy one or make a DIY sewing table relatively affordably. 

“The worktable in my sewing area is at desk height, but I also have a large work table at a counter height that is perfect for fabric cutting. The height saves my back and makes pattern layout a breeze. Can’t invest in a counter height table? Just put some bed risers under any table to bring the top up to a comfortable level. “

– Alice Smith-Goeke, Owner of Fabric Ninja

Opt for a folding table with wheels – that way, you can expand all the leaves into your space when you need it, then fold them up and roll it away when not in use. This prevents you from having to use your dining room table, where you may either damage the wood or get your fabric dirty. Invest in a high-quality rolling office chair – preferably one without arms – for maximum mobility at your sewing table.

“Make sure to select a stable table that isn’t going to bounce around as you sew or work. If possible, have tables with adjustable legs so you can find the most comfortable height.”

– Michelle Stoffel, Co-Owner of Style Maker Fabrics

antique sewing machine

How tall should your sewing or cutting table be?

The “standard” table height is between 24 and 28 inches for sewing (sitting) tables and 36 to 40 inches for cutting (standing) tables. However, these measurements are based on a person who is 5’3?, so you may need to adjust if you’re taller or shorter. Your ideal table height is based on a.) your height, b.) the height of your sewing machine, c.) the type of work you’re doing – i.e whether you’ll be sitting or standing. The most important thing is that you are comfortable.

“The table height should make cutting and pinning easy to do without stretching up to your tippy-toes or leaning down super far. You should make sure that you aren’t hunching over while sewing too. You don’t want your crafting to be a painful endeavor.”

– Megan Boesen of Knit & Bolt

Storage bins

Storage is essential to sewing room organization. Choose clear bins that allow you to view the items inside. Bins that are stackable and square, instead of round, help maximize the area in your storage space. If you don’t have a designated closet at all for your fabric, consider pre-shrinking it and storing it under your bed in opaque containers.

Shelves and cabinets

Make use of vertical space! Instead of simply stacking tubs one on top of one another, invest in some shelves. This will make it easy to grab what you need without having to pull down and restack containers each time. You can purchase plastic storage shelves from your local hardware store, or you can DIY your own shelves. You may go a step further and install some cheap kitchen cabinets along the walls of the room to hold your fabric and supplies. 

“Look for lots of natural sunlight and storage. Closed cupboards with glass panels will let you show off your fabric collection, and wood panels will hide any clutter. Make sure everything in your space has a home, and inspiration will continue to strike as you sew!”

– Amy Ellis, Author at

Pro tip: Install a garage bicycle holder into the ceiling to keep a dress form, cushion forms, or rolls of batting out of the way when not in use.


Buy some clear sign holders and write the contents on index cards – for example, the number of buttons, or the yards of each piece of fabric. This makes it easy to find what you need for a project and to see what supplies you need to restock.

“To display and store thread, buy a sheet of MDF Hole board and use pegboard hooks to rest your spools on. You can paint the board in any color to liven up your space and show off your creativity! This frees up floor space and makes it easy to see your supplies.”

– Aladdin H.

thread and yarn spools


What to avoid in a sewing room


Avoid overcrowding your workspaces. Make sure that each piece of equipment has room behind it for the sewn fabric to fall without damage, and that you have enough space to navigate the room comfortably. If you’re creating a corner sewing nook, be sure to reinforce the surface with weight-bearing table legs or something similar.

“Think about the flow of your activity. Arrange your workspace so it’s easy to move from one station to the next. If you do this, your project will come together more quickly and with less frustration.”

– Penny Lai, Owner of Gala Fabrics, Victoria, BC


If you’ve ever threaded a needle, you know how important lighting is! Be kind to your eyes and incorporate plenty of bright light into your workspace so you can see what you’re doing. Natural light is a great option. You may also want to install wall lights with long, moveable arms to position over different spaces for close detail work.

“Good light is essential for color matching and close design work. Try to pick a spot by a window that has lots of natural light. Incandescent lights can add a yellow or blue cast to your projects, which can taint the color of your projects. Full-spectrum light bulbs are a good substitute but can be expensive.”

– Penny L.


While natural light is a great way to brighten a space, direct sunlight can actually damage your fabrics. For this reason, it’s best to store fabric in a clean, dry, space like a closet – away from direct sunlight. 

“Display your yarn in a way you can see it. It can be easy to have an overwhelming stash, but even easier to lose those special skeins when you can’t see them. You can display them in a bookshelf or glass case, or even see-through boxes if you’re tackling humidity or critter (moths!) problems. That way your yarn is stunning AND safe!”

– Chantal Miyagishima, Owner & Designer at Knitatude

colorful fabric cloth

Quick organization tips

Your sewing room should be a space where you can readily access everything you need, or see if you need to restock anything. Here are some tips to organize your space quickly:

  • Create an inventory spreadsheet of your supplies so that you can take a fast look to determine what you need on each shopping trip
  • Pre-shrink your fabric and store it away from light
  • Remove the cabinet doors and closet doors (if your fabric isn’t in the closet) for easier access – and to avoid bumping your head!
  • Use a laptop for pattens instead of a larger desktop computer
  • Create a “dream board” of the projects you want to start or as a collection of ideas and inspiration
  • Add a small speaker to listen to your favorite tunes or soothing white noise
  • Hang photos of your favorite past projects on the walls, or snapshots of your friends, family, or clients wearing your creations

Expert advice

Decorate & Design

“Designate a space in your home where you are free to make a creative mess. Even if it’s a small table in a corner or a closet, it’s crucial to be able to walk away from a project when you’re feeling uninspired – or to be able to dive right in when inspiration strikes. If every time you want to sew, you have to lug the machine up from the basement, and then tidy up completely at the end of each session, it will be much harder to keep a consistent creative practice.”

– Samantha, Seamstress at

“When you finally get a space to call your sewing room, it’s tempting to use every last bit of it for storage and work. While those are important and necessary, try to carve out even a tiny spot for décor. It makes the room feel more fun and personal. I find I feel more inspired if I have a few things to look at that are finished, instead of being surrounded by a to-do list. Bonus points if it’s something you’ve made yourself!”

– Staci Wendland, Owner of

“Every workroom needs a good design wall. Standing back and viewing your quilt or fiber art from across the room is critical to successful pieces. For garment sewists, a dress form does the job. The larger the design wall the better, because you can look at multiple projects or large quilts without pieces falling off the edge. There are a multitude of websites out there showing how to make a design wall and a variety of design walls that don’t even require a trip to your favorite DIY store. Check out your options and get one so your projects will be easier to review.”

– Jaye A. H. Lapachet, Principal & Designer at

Get creative

“Storage is the most important element of your craft room. However much you think you will need, double it! Try to use every inch, especially little bits of space that might normally be wasted:

  • Above the door or window, you can add a useful shelf with storage boxes or baskets
  • Add a row of hooks on the underside of a shelf to hang scissors, bags or storage tubs
  • A pretty pegboard can be both decorative and provide storage for small items
  • See if you can find a shelf unit to tuck against the wall under a desk. If it’s not too deep you’ll still have room for your legs”

– Julie Nyanyo from Sum of their Stories

sewing room organization

Practice self-care

“Start thinking about your sewing space as a self-care studio. It’s not just about function, it’s about how you feel when you are there. Try keeping your tools off the wall and in storage containers or drawers. A thread rack can seem beguiling, but most other notions are not visually soothing for many folks. I have a practice of clearing the surfaces and walls at the end of a project so I can hold space for the next creative endeavor.

“Lighting is a necessity while sewing, so don’t skimp on this detail. You can rarely rely on an overhead light to provide you with the brightness that you need. Bring in an adjustable lamp or wear a comfy headlamp if you do a lot of sewing at night. Once you have your primary light sources squared away, invest in a string or two of warm LED twinkle lights. String them above your machine(s) like a garland, and your happiness level will increase by at least 64%, guaranteed.”

– Meg McElwee, Owner of Sew Liberated and The Mindful Wardrobe Project

Use the Tri-Space Method

“No matter how much (or little) space you have or what you make, I like to organize my sewing room using a tri-space method. Here’s how it works in a nutshell:

  1. Space to work – flat surface for cutting fabric, sewing, laying out, etc. And don’t forget a comfy chair.
  2. Space to dream – shelf for how-to books, wall space for inspiration, and window, too!
  3. Space to stock – drawers, shelves, or bins to organizing your supplies.

“You don’t need a lot of space — it’s nice but not necessary. You just need a plan.”

– Jessica Bonilla, Owner of Bloomerie Fabrics

All artists and crafters know the challenge of staying organized. Between pins, needles, thread, yarn, buttons, glue, and fabric, there are many moving parts that can lead to a big mess! By organizing your sewing room, you’ll free up space to tackle even the most ambitious projects. There are many ways to create a functional and beautiful sewing room, but first and foremost, your sewing room should make you happy. Let it be an inspiration and reflection of your creativity.

How did you create the sewing room of your dreams? Let us know your sewing room organization tips in the comments!

Thoughts on PIQF 2019 pt.2

One of the things I forgot to mention when I talked about the quilt show the other day was the swans. Yes, swans showed up as imagery in at least 7 quilts. I have been reading/studying a book called The 1718 Coverlet*. Essentially it is a block book, but it tells the history of the oldest quilt found in the UK and tells the reader how to make the blocks. In the book, and the quilt, are blocks depicting swans.

In the world Quilt Exhibit, we saw that someone had made a version of the 1718 Coverlet. There were the first swans. After that we saw swans depicted in the other quilts. I love white birds – herons, egrets and swans – but I was surprised to see so many swans in quilts. Granted there were a lot of bird quilts. Sadly, I neglected to take photos of any bird or swan quilts. 🙁

Raffle prizes for guild
Raffle prizes for guild

As you know from a previous post, I am leading the team that will be creating raffle baskets for the guild next year. Every meeting, a random number is drawn, matched with a name on the sign-in form and the winner is gifted with a bag or basket of prizes. I won one recently and was amazed at the variety of items. I have a list of items I want to get to fill in the things we make. I found a few of them at the quilt show.

FOTY 2017 on display at PIQF 2019
FOTY 2017 on display at PIQF 2019

I did mention that FOTY 2017 was on display. It was in the New Quilts of Northern California exhibit. In the past few years, I have been annoyed at the quilts made from patterns that were on display in this exhibit. This was part of my impetus to enter. The FOTY quilts are unique. I have only seen one or two others using the same concept. This year, more of the quilts looked original, which made me happy.

I was also interested in a couple of the modern quilts. There is something about the circular motifs that is very appealing. I think I have circles on my mind, because of the new project I have been considering lately. I saw a few quilts that I thought were Quick Curve Ruler* projects. It wasn’t hugely obvious, but I noticed. I am glad to see some quiltmakers using that tool. I was also gratified to see that one maker had designed an original quilt using the ruler. I have had some inklings in that direction, too.



















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SIL’s Friendship Star pt.2

SIL's Friendship Star - October 2019
SIL’s Friendship Star – October 2019

About a month ago, I told you about SIL’s Friendship Star. She is still working on it. We had dinner over there on Saturday so I got to see the evolution.

She is still not quite happy with the layout. I can see where she might want to make changes, but I think the gradation is a lot more evolved since the last time I saw it. It is looking really good.

Mega Pinnie

I saw the Mega Pinnie pattern in an older issue (issue 6, 2016) of Today’s Quilter. It caught my attention, partially, because I have some squares leftover from the Jen Carlton Bailly workshop and they were on my mind. It turns out they are slightly larger than I need for the Pinnie, but worked just fine. I was also looking for something that would be interesting for a swap gift.

I like this magazine as it has practical and interesting articles that teach people something. I have found good projects, like my favorite pincushion, in Today’s Quilter sister publication, Love of Patchwork and Quilting, but this is the first time I have made something from TQ.

This pattern caught my attention as something different, but also useful. I decided to make it as a swap gift. It is essentially a giant pincushion with pockets for other tools. It will work well for someone who wants to keep a few things together at Sew Day.

Mega Pinnie - ready to sew together
Mega Pinnie – ready to sew together

While I am not quite finished, the project doesn’t take very long to make. I am almost done after working on it Sunday in between other projects. One of the sites I found said it took her two hours. I didn’t keep exact track of my hours, but this sounds about right.

Pinnie pockets in progress
Pinnie pockets in progress

In the pattern, the pockets are pieced. They look kind of fun pieced, but I also want to try them not pieced. The project will go faster and will be just as interesting. I also think I can add a placket for WonderClips, as in the pincushion that I have made as gifts.

I found a version of the pattern at the Stitch Gathering website.

I am ridiculously delighted by this concept. I want make a couple more as gifts and I can’t wait to sew this one together!


Resources and Inspiration:

One Batik Block

Block Party Block for Morven
Block Party Block for Morven

There is an online group to which I have belonged for a long time. Mostly people don’t talk about quiltmaking anymore, but recently one member asked for a block. A swap had been done a long time ago and she didn’t have quite enough blocks to finish her quilt. I said I would make one. I didn’t make any of the original blocks in the swap so this was a good opportunity to try out a block that might use up some scraps.

Julie made one, too. She sewed hers faster than me.

Thoughts on PIQF 2019

The Pacific International Quilt Festival was held this past weekend (plus Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I really only had Friday to attend. This was a shame, because the quilts were actually more interesting this year than they have been in past years.

Julie and I met up at 11am and walked the show. I didn’t take as many photos as I have in the past. I wasn’t in the mood, I guess. I was in the mood to shop and bought a few nice things, including the Mary Poppins bag I was looking at last year. I also bought the various foam pieces I needed so I don’t have to scrounge around for those. I saw Odicoat for sale, but when I went back to buy it, they had sold out. I can get it easily on Amazon or Sew Sweetness, but I thought picking it up at PIQF would be easier since it was available. Oh well.

I was able to pick up a few things for raffle prizes for BAM next year.

The Secret Life of Carrots by Elaine Barnard
The Secret Life of Carrots by Elaine Barnard

My favorite quilt, I think, was The Secret Life of Carrots. This is a quilt by Elaine Barnard of South Africa, which Friend Julie pointed out to me.

One thing I like about it is the simplicity of the title, which hides the complexity of the design.

The Secret Life of Carrots by Elaine Barnard detail
The Secret Life of Carrots by Elaine Barnard detail

I also like the hangy-downy threads. I have often thought that art quilts use threads hanging off the quilt badly. They don’t fit in with the design and make me think the maker was lazy. This quilt uses that concept very well.

One big thought I had while looking at the show was that symmetry was not as much in evidence. I greatly admire the artistry of art quilts, improv quilts and modern quilts. However, one of the things I love about quiltmaking is blocks and, especially the symmetry of blocks and quilts made up of blocks. I didn’t see that people were using fresh, modern and contemporary fabrics to explore symmetry and blocks in a  new way. I guess blocks seem old-fashioned and everyone wants to be modern or make contemporary quilts. Even my quilt, FOTY 2017, which was on display, isn’t exactly a block quilt.

I really need two days for this show. It can be viewed in one day, but we spent 8 hours looking at quilts and shopping, I think, and that was really pushing it in terms of being on our feet. I felt rushed. I would have also liked more time at the vendors, but I didn’t NEED that.

Vinyl Tips & Tricks

Vinyl is often used in bagmaking. I have talked about it in general a number of times, including last week when I talked about marking vinyl for sewing. I thought I would gather some of what I have written before into one post for your convenience.

Supplies to use for sewing with vinyl:

  • SewTites – both dots and rectangle shapes are available. These act like pins without poking holes in your project
  • Tissue paper
  • Blue tape
  • Scissors: I don’t use my good Ginghers, but I also don’t use paper scissors. I use middle of the road Fiskars
  • Thread: I used my regular thread. It shows up, though, so make sure you use a color you don’t mind looking at.
  • Optional: Teflon foot
  • Optional: Roller foot – see post about using the roller foot


  • Use fabric for making handles, if you are making a bag. You can combine fabric and vinyl with no problem and the handles will be much more comfortable make out of fabric.
  • Use quilting thread, if you want, to sew vinyl bags together. It is a little thicker than regular Aurifil 50 wt. It gave me a little more of a feeling of security when I made the clear vinyl bag.
  • Use a blowdryer to get folds or wrinkles out. Test on a low heat farther away from the vinyl and gradually increase the heat. Move the blowdryer closer and closer until you find the sweet spot.
  • Sew in creases. Pressing them (see below) doesn’t work, so sewing an 1/8th of an inch from the edge puts in a nice, permanent crease.


  • Press. Pressing is not an option. The vinyl will melt all over your iron, your ironing board, everything and make a huge mess. You can use a blowdryer if there are folds.
  • Don’t use pins. Once you prick vinyl, the hole does not ‘heal’ like it does with cotton quilting fabric
  • No ripping. Jack-the-Ripper is not your friend with this material. Again, the holes do not heal, so if you need to rip, you will need to re-cut the piece or sew in exactly the same holes.
  • Add a vinyl pocket to a bag in a location that might be near a heat source, e.g. an integrated pressing mat.

The big thing is to use tissue on top and bottom of the vinyl so that the vinyl is not in contact with your sewing machine bed or presser foot. The vinyl will stick to the bed of the machine and the foot. The tissue paper buffers both from the vinyl and allows you to sew.

Clear Tote in Transit
Clear Tote in Transit

Pen leaks, water spills and other messes are easy to clean up with paper towel and some Simply Green or a cleaning wipe. Sometimes, I can’t avoid putting the vinyl bag I made down in something that someone else has spilled simply because I didn’t see the mess. The vinyl also protects my stuff quite well in the rain.

Some of the things that I like about this bag are also disadvantages. It is great for me to be able to see inside the bag, but I don’t want other people to see my phone, tablet or digital camera. I definitely cannot use this bag to hold a table at a cafe’.

Using vinyl as a bag in hot weather is iffy. The vinyl becomes very soft and pliable. I think the handles might stretch if the weather becomes hot enough.

Marking vinyl
Marking vinyl

While working on my project, I had to develop some tips/tricks of my own.

The Running with Scissors pattern, in general, is really good. It says, however, in the vinyl pocket part of the pattern, to mark the vinyl to make smaller pockets. The pattern didn’t say how to mark the vinyl. I didn’t have access to the video at the time, which may have some tips. I didn’t want to use a Micron pen, though I know that ink can be washed off of vinyl pretty easily. I also don’t have one of those wash away pens, so I decided to use blue tape. I used tape to mark the lines I needed to sew along.

Sew along the tape
Sew along the tape

I sewed right next to the tape. I didn’t want to sew through it, because that would create a mess. I knew my needle would cake with the adhesive. This was a tricky operation, because I also needed to sew with the vinyl covered by tissue. I didn’t bring specific tissue, so I used the wrapper from the vinyl. You don’t need much, but you do need longish strips. The only issue was that there was a little residue left on the vinyl from the tape. I’ll clean it off later.


Other Useful Resources:

More White Donation Blocks

I have been sewing – sewing – sewing and never getting anywhere with these blocks. The other day I finally was able to cut some new blocks out of the piecing I had been working on.

These blocks are less about strips than about chunks. I have some strips in the white drawer, but mostly weird shapes. I have about 24 blocks now and haven’t even made a dent in the scraps in this drawer.

New Project pt.3

Stash Fabrics: Art Gallery Elements bundle
Stash Fabrics: Art Gallery Elements bundle

Recently I talked about some fabric I bought and some ideas for a new project. I have pretty much ruled out the idea of the complicated design I drew up. Not forever. Just for this fabric bundle.

While I have been thinking about it, I have thrown in a couple of other bits of fabric.

Country Revival by Sew Kind of Wonderful
Country Revival by Sew Kind of Wonderful

Recently I bought a pattern called Country Revival by Sew Kind of Wonderful. You know what that means, right? Yep, Quick Curve Ruler.. Ever since I made MetroScape, I have wanted to use that ruler again. This might be the time.

The example quilt has a limited color palette, which I like, though I think it might be interesting to use the fabrics above, carefully, in the different circular designs.

Retreat Project pt.2

I originally planned to publish this post on September 19. Somehow, the time got away from me. While I did finish the Running with Scissors tote, this post has mostly to do with working with vinyl. I thought it might still be of interest.

Marking vinyl
Marking vinyl

One thing that happened while I was working on my project was I had to develop some tips/tricks of my own.

The pattern, in general, is really good. It says, however, in the vinyl pocket part of the pattern to mark the vinyl to make smaller pockets. It didn’t say how to mark the vinyl. I didn’t have access to the video at the time, which may have some tips. I didn’t want to use a Micron pen, though I know that the ink can be washed off of vinyl pretty easily. I also don’t have one of those wash away pens, so I decided tape would work. I used tape to mark the lines I needed to sew along.

Sew along the tape
Sew along the tape

I sewed right next to the tape. I didn’t want to go through it, because that would create a mess. This was tricky, because I also needed to sew with the vinyl covered by tissue. As I have talked about many times, you need to take care when working with vinyl. I didn’t have my teflon foot with me (duh, oversight), so I used the wrapper from the vinyl. You don’t need much, but you do need longish strips. The only issue was that there was a little residue left on the vinyl from the tape. I’ll clean it off later.

Sewing over zippers
Sewing over zippers

The zippers from ByAnnie are gorgeous. You can imagine that I was a little annoyed when I had to sew over the zipper ends.

I had to open the zipper – move the slide to the center, so it wouldn’t end up on the wrong side of the sewing line. That left the end of the zipper tape flooping around. I wanted the zipper teeth that would remain in the bag (not cut off) to be as close together as possible. I held it together with some tape.

This project has a lot of steps, but it does go together very well.