Past Gifts for Mom

Yes, I have gifts on the mind.

Like the post I wrote the other day about gifts I have made for Julie, I decided to make myself feel better by writing about the gifts I have made for my mom. Again, I was disappointed. In my mind, I have made so many more than show up on the blog. Granted, I don’t always say who the gifts are for and that makes it hard to search, but still, I thought I had made a lot more.

I am not ashamed of the projects I have made and have a few more in the pipeline for Christmas, but still. I really thought I had made more.

Bat Quilting

I got back to the Bat Tablerunner over the weekend. Yes, I quilted.

Bat Tablerunner, quilting in progress
Bat Tablerunner, quilting in progress

I quilted for about an hour on Sunday evening. I felt really good about the work I did. I feel like I accomplished something. The quilting was simple, but it looks nice. I felt energized and was ready for another session on Monday. I quilted for about 4 hours on Monday night while DH watched the football game.

I suffered yesterday as 4 hours of machine quilting was a bit much. I knew I was going overboard, but I really want to get this piece done before Saturday’s meeting. I need to break up my work, though so I am not in pain.

Bat Tablerunner, quilting in progress
Bat Tablerunner, quilting in progress

I was able to finish the background on Monday and make a start on the bats. I know I just need to do what I can do and hope that I can be done by Saturday.

More Gift Ideas

In January 2018, I updated the list of gift ideas I originally wrote in 2015. All the posts on the topic start with the same items, but I added and revised the post each time. Lately, I have made different items as gifts and I thought I would share some more with you. Most don’t take tons of time, so you could make a few for the holidays, if you have fabric and no interest in going to stores.

Pillowcases are always useful and you can use a yard of fabric. They are also quick to make, once you find the fabric you like. I have stopped putting the accent fabric in. I make them with two fabrics and that goes even quicker.

I also like aprons as a gift. I made a bunch of them last year using the Flapper Apron pattern, a retro style apron pattern. I purchased when I was out with Amanda near Portland a year or two ago. The thing I like about this pattern, which you have heard before, is that you can make it out of 1 yard of fabric. It is cut on the bias, so directional fabric is challenging, but can be done. I use 1.25 yards just to have a little leeway.

Pouches are a great gift as well. I have made several recently. The Persimmon Dumpling Pouch pattern, a free pattern, from Sew Sweetness. There are many, many pouch patterns out there, both free and for purchase. Add a leash and a lobster clip and it can be used in a larger bag.

The juggling balls I made were a big hit. These will take more time, but are a great project for soccer practice or waiting for people at doctor appointments. I wrote about them pretty comprehensively. I got the idea for the balls from All Points Patchwork, a comprehensive guide on English paper piecing. If you want to learn or improve your English Paper Piecing, get that book. It is great. I still want to make some for DH, but he has to wait.

Mary's Key chain
Mary’s Key chain

Key fobs are an interesting idea. You don’t have to use them for keys and can use them for pouches or other supplies that have a lobster clip or hook. These came to my attention when Renaissance Ribbon created a kit using their fabulous ribbons. I think it is a great use of their ribbons. The heavyweight webbing they sell can be used for bags. It comes in a lot of colors, which will blend with your other awesome fabrics.

A scissor cozy could be a great way to keep your scissors from opening in your bag and damaging other items.

Not a lot of ideas here, but you can take a look at a giant list I maintain on my guild’s site. There are tons of ideas there, though no (or few) reviews.

Past Gifts for Julie

Friend Julie’s birthday is coming followed quickly by Christmas. I always enjoy making her a few things. She always uses and appreciates (or seems to!) what I make.

I was thinking of what to make her and decided to take a look at what I had made her in the past. This is one of the reasons I continue to publish posts on this blog – keeping track of what I have made.

I wanted to group all the things I have made for her together, so I did a search. 🙁 I came up with a lot of great pictures of her, but not very many projects.

I really thought I had made her more gifts. There are a lot of options in the Gift Grouping 1 and Gift Grouping 2 I made for Mary. I think what I do is get her to make the same project on which I am working, like the Midi bag and the Undercover Maker Mat. That way, I get to enjoy her process as well and I don’t have to do all the work. HA! Clearly, I need to get busy and make some more gifts for Julie. There is a lot of potential for future gifts. 

Raffle Mega Pinnie

Raffle Mega Pinnie
Raffle Mega Pinnie

I made another Mega Pinnie and decided to use it as a raffle prize sometime down the road.

I started it as a gift for a friend, but it didn’t turn out to be suitable. I think someone who attends a guild meeting will like it. I still might use the mini Pinnie for my friend and make a new one for this one.

For the raffle, I can also put the tools into the pockets.

Trolling around the web, I saw a post by the designer who showed a number of different versions of the Mega Pinnie. She taught a class and the examples were from those students. Take a look. The post has a lot of fun photos showing different ways to use the Mega Pinnie.

Quilt Class: Accurate Seam Allowance


An accurate 1/4 inch seam allowance on your sewing machine (hand work is different) is imperative for most quilt projects. Still some quiltmakers struggle. Below are some tips and, even further below, are some resources.


  • sewing machine
  • your usual thread
  • Seam guide or quarter inch foot
  • fabric
  • Ruler
  • Optional: blue painter’s tape or masking tape

Mostly, I will provide tips and tricks. You can watch the videos below to set up and test your machine to sew an accurate quarter inch seam.

First, decide if you care. If you don’t care, move on with your life. I am not saying that flippantly. We are all busy and if sewing an accurate 1/4 inch seam allowance is something you don’t care about, then go sew something.

Second, be prepared to play around. You’ll have to do some testing. Think of it as playtime.

Janome quarter inch foot
Janome quarter inch foot

Third, you will need some kind of seam guide. A foot included with your sewing machine (or available for purchase separately) is an option.

I use the Janome quarter inch foot and interchange the same foot with both of my machines. I have 2-3 of them, but any one of them works on both of my machines. When I had a Singer, I stacked up layers of tape to make a ‘stop’ or wall at the quarter inch mark.

Dritz has a magnetic seam guide*. I used one of these and found that, when it stayed in place, it worked.

For Juki machines, Jen Carlton Bailly recommends, a “T” gauge*. This screws into the needle plate somehow. I have seen this in use, but have not used it myself.

These are a few of the many, many products available. Check around with your friends and ask your machine dealer what they recommend.

Try different methods to see what works for you.

Using a seam guide
Using a seam guide

Tip #1: If you use a seam guide, use the seam guide

It is easy to allow your attention to wander away from what you are doing. If you are using a seam guide, keep the fabric right next to the guide.

I don’t find this difficult, though I did notice the YM not attending to his project and the fabric zooming off to the left nowhere near the seam guide.

Improv piecing is a problem
Improv piecing is a problem

Tip #2: Improv piecing is a problem

In general improv piecing is not a problem, but if you are attempting to go through many layers AND sticking to a quarter inch seam allowance, it is difficult. I ran into this when sewing the Red Strip Donation Top #2.

You can see the seam line wanders in the photo (left). When I am sewing tiny pieces together, the layers add up. This is what happens to me using my machine when I am trying to go through too many layers. This can also happen with blocks when a lot of layers come together in the center of a block.

Tip #3: Press open to reduce bulk

I don’t believe in pressing my seams open as a general rule. However, if you have a lot of bulk that is interfering with your seam allowance, pressing open can help. Have a reason to press open separate from “that’s what modern quiltmakers do.” I also press my seams open on the backs of quilts to reduce the bulk, which is the problem with accurate seam allowance and problems with longarm quilting. If you press open, you need to backstitch every seam that will not be crossed by another. That means that every improv quilt I make gets a line of stitching around the outside of the quilt. Every quilt without a border also gets a line of stitching around the outside. If you don’t, seams can unravel. On the edges both open seams and closed seams can unravel.

Tip #4: Machine markings

The measurement markings on your needle plate can help you keep your seam allowance accurate. While not a panacea, it is another aid when you are struggling to keep your piecing straight.

Tip #5: Adjust your needle

Many machine default to a 3/8ths or 5/8ths inch seam. Even pretty basic machines allow the maker to move the needle. If your machine has this feature, it is an easy way to get an accurate quarter inch seam. You just have to remember to do it when you turn on the machine!

Go through the process of testing your machine for an accurate quarter inch seam. Once you have it and have your system for sewing the accurate quarter inch seam, your patchwork will be better.

Tip #6: Use thin thread

Thread takes up space in the seam. If you are off my just a bit, then use thinner thread, like Aurifil 50 wt. Bottomline is a thin thread as well.











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Iron Inspiration

Ironwork entrance
Ironwork entrance

I went looking for some knitting needles the other day. To get the ones I wanted, I had to go to the Castro to the knitting store. I had bought some on Amazon, but they were wrong so I sent them back.

SF Ironwork
SF Ironwork

I visit this store frequently, usually walking down after my hair appointment, so I was surprised and pleased when I saw the beautiful ironwork on one of the houses. I was surprised, because this is the type of thing I look for. It was new to me, so either I walk on the other side of the street or I just never noticed.

It reminds me of Tiffany’s work, to a certain extent, though I think it is more Art Nouveau style.

Ironwork gate
Ironwork gate

Sometimes these types of ornaments are too much, but I think this work is beautiful and also restrained. The peacock might be a bit much. Still, it was a nice treat.

More Raffle Prizes

Mary's Raffle Prizes
Mary’s Raffle Prizes

As I mentioned yesterday, Sew Day was Saturday. I was pleased and surprised when Mary came up to me and showed me the items she made for the raffle baskets!

Mary made some wonderful origami type bags. Enlarge the photo, because they look very intricate when closely inspected.

Cord Keeper by Mary
Cord Keeper by Mary

The little things on the bottom are cord keepers. They look like a little tube. You open up the Velcro closure and contain your folded cord with one. These are probably perfect for smaller cords like cell phones and irons and things. I don’t know that they are large enough for laptops or appliances with bulkier cords.

I have never seen a pattern for one of these and am thrilled!

I didn’t even know she was making them. I am so pleased.


UCAB Pockets

Lynette and I met about the BAM Bag-a-Long  at Sew Day the other day. We went over the sketches she made for cutting and she also made a test pocket.

It turns out, from the test, that we need to make sure the participants buy the zipper sizes that are given in the pattern. The way Natalie finishes the zippers is a lot easier with zipper tape than it is with zipper teeth. This thought/method of making is contrary to the way most bag patterns are written.

UCAB test pocket
UCAB test pocket

It was interesting to see the large pocket finished, because you can see the flange (look for the WonderClips) in a big way. It is very clear that there is a different construction going on to finish the secondary pockets and keep them away from the edges.

Lynette said that it made the directions a little difficult to understand. Still, the thought of keeping the bulk away from the edges is a good one.

The bottom of the pocket also has a pleat so that larger non-flat items can be included.

I plan to make a sample of the small front pocket so I can test out making a WonderClip holder. I hope to get it done by the next meeting.


  • Purchase the pattern and sew with us-N.B.: we will not be providing step by instructions, but will be posting here with tips and tricks
  • Tour of the bag -Instagram
  • Bag-a-Long project post – 9/27/2019
  • Thoughts behind the bag – 8/7/2019
  • Free video instructions
    • UCAB episode 1 : preparing for sewing pockets
    • UCAB episode 2 : sewing pockets, discusses thickness of pockets
    • UCAB episode 3 :badge holder pocket technique
    • UCAB episode 4 : Large pocket, installing zipper
    • UCAB episode 5 : installing a swivel hook, front and back of bag, front and back pockets
    • UCAB episode 6 : insert pockets into side panels
    • UCAB episode 7 : very brief video showing how the piece looks after installing the pockets in the side panels
    • UCAB episode 8 :Brief video showing the finished bag. No sewing.

26 Projects 2019 #10

I realized that I have made a lot of progress on my 26 quilt projects since I started this project.  I am now down to 7 projects on the list. I add projects, but the old projects are slowly getting done.

Looking at the finished quilts below makes me happy. Three of them were on my list for more than 3 years.

 Finished 2019 Quilt Projects

Finished 2019 Non-Quilt Projects

This category covers bags, toys, aprons and knitting as well as other non-quilt projects.

Doing Good

In Process
The ‘In Process’ is used to denote projects on which I am actively working or are on the design wall waiting for me to stitch. I try not to put away projects, because that will ensure I never work on them.

  • English Paper Piecing Project– half hexies – I have a big stack of stars ready to sew into the quilt. I am still thinking of my friend Faye whenever I work on it. She says that I have to think of this as my slow project.
  • Serendipity Lady – I plan to take this one to be framed.
  • Lobster – I finished the stitching. I plan to back it and overlock or satin stitch the edges. Even though I don’t need anymore cushions, I may turn this into a cushion.

Ready for Quilting

Nothing now

In the Quilting Process

In the Finishing Process

Nothing now

Still WIPs
I still have WIPs. Who doesn’t, after all? A project in the ‘UFO’ category means I am stalled. A nicer way of saying UFO is a WIP. The list is a lot shorter and the projects are newer, for the most part.

  1. FOTY 2018 – this has to be on the list now as I have cut a ton of squares and need to arrange and sew it together. This is next on my quilt list. I need to cut a bunch of back 2.5″ squares before I can get started.
  2. Handbag Sampler – this is still the forgotten project. It should be on the UFO list. Too bad I don’t have one. The blocks were teaching samples when I taught a sampler class the time before I started writing the quilt class sampler tutorials. I found one block recently, but otherwise I actually don’t know exactly where the blocks are hiding. I have an idea and still have to crawl up in the far reaches of my fabric closet soon and see if I can find them. I haven’t even found a picture of all the blocks. Sad.
  3. Pies and Points from 2016 Victoria Findlay Wolfe class. The last time I worked on it was when Julie and I had a playdate in April 2018. I brought this piece with me so I could cut more elements (Julie has a Sizzix). I lost my excitement about this piece shortly thereafter and still have to get it back. Thus, I had to move this to the WIPs area.
  4. Pointillist Palette #4: Fourth is a series of 6 quilts; needs tiny square patches sewn together. No progress.
  5. Self Portrait: started in 2006 at a class at Quilting Adventures in Richmond, Virginia. I am still stalled on this again. As one of my oldest (I am pretty sure) UFO, I put it on my blog and out into the Twitterverse and Diane suggested that I not consider this as a self portrait. I think that strategy is a great idea. I am now trying to think of a new persona for her.
  6. Black and Red quilt – This project is creeping into my mind, so it might be up for work soon. The project originally came about because of two other projects. I made a whole bunch of bias tape as part of my failed attempt at doing the Mighty Lucky Club a few years ago. Another part of the inspiration came from my class with Tina of Little Blue Cottage fame. This was going to be for a nephew, but I think it will be for one of my SILs and BILs. I have rectangles cut and some bias tape ready. My next step is to sew the bias tape to the rectangles like pickup sticks. I don’t have any photos of this, so you’ll have to use your imagination.
  7. Who Am I? – This piece is off my design. I have lost momentum, but I think that just has to do with the amount of satin stitching I am facing.

Small Projects in Process

Most of my progress involves thinking or just cutting.

  • Mondo Bag – started laying out mini-charms
  • Retreat Organizer – another project from the Crafty Gemini Organizer Club, also on my list, but not yet started
  • Ultimate Project Organizer – another project from the Crafty Gemini Organizer Club, also on my list, but not yet started
  • Small iron caddy – gift for a friend
  • Pencil Roll gift – in process
  • Mega Pinnie gift – in process

White Strip Donation Quilt

White Strip Donation top progress
White Strip Donation top progress

After writing about the improv donation quilt yesterday, I decided I had better update you on the strip version.

I am making progress. It is hard to tell because of the white blocks on the white design wall. I have cut a few pieces of sashing and am slowly cutting more. I used making the pouch as an excuse to cut sashing. This makes no sense of course, but somehow it worked. I supposed I was alternating tasks.

I am using a couple of different dot fabrics as the sashing. I tried some lavender and grey and neither looked quite right. I still haven’t decided what to use for cornerstones. Something that fits with the other fabrics, but is distinctive.

Persimmon Pouch

Persimmon Pouch
Persimmon Pouch

A few weeks ago, I cut out some pouches. I used the Persimmon Dumpling Pouch pattern, a free pattern, from Sew Sweetness for two of them. The pattern has three sizes, small, medium and large, included. This is the small version.

Persimmon Pouch: open
Persimmon Pouch: open

I LOVE this pattern. It went together really quickly after I sat down and just worked on it. It has about 5 seams and the pouch is together. My first try took me awhile, but after finishing it, I thought of a couple of ways I could make this project go faster.

It is so interesting how this pouch opens almost all the way flat. I suppose that could be a problem if the owner had a lot of small items inside.

I have seen this made with two zippers that come together in the middle. Doing that is a skill I have not yet mastered – or even tried. I doubt it is difficult. I’ll put it on the list.

The pattern uses strips to make the exterior. It would be a great pattern to use with some improv piecing, but I just used one piece of fabric for this one and the one I have not yet completely sewed. There is a lot of scope for imaginative fabric use in this pouch pattern (and most, I suppose).

I made this one for the raffle baskets as a test to see if I would want to keep making these as gifts. I think it will be a great pouch to hold all the little gifts. Of course, I have other patterns I can and want to try as well.

Persimmon Pouch: zipper ends
Persimmon Pouch: zipper ends

It also has a great way of finishing the ends of the zippers. There is no cutting off the zipper ends or making new stops. The ends are tucked into the bottom seam and hidden between the lining and exterior.

I was thinking I would like to add a leash and a lobster clip to this pouch, but since there are side seams, I am not sure if it is possible. I have another one cut out, so I will think about it some more as I make the next one.

Stay tuned for more! If you try this pattern, let me know what you think.