Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 FMQ Challenge Wrap Up

This shows the evidence of my 12 monthly entries into the SewCal Gal's FMQ challenge.  I learned so much over the last 12 months, and can honestly say I have new designs that come easily, and I'm working on many others.  I love playing with designs, and loved the different suggestions all the teachers had.  It was a great experience, and I'm so grateful to SewCal Gal, the teachers, and sponsors for all their effort.  I have used some of these designs to finish quilts, and plan to use others, or adapt the ideas.  I played with fabric and batting, and thread.  The following pictures show 11 practice samples and one completed quilt. 

January Leaves

February Feathers

March's loopy meander

April's Transfer stencil

May's Railroad Tracks and Double Stipple


June's Hum Purr

July's Tiles

August Jester Hats

Paula Reed's Stencil for September

October's Name

November's Swirls

And December's borders with Patsy Thompson.  

All 12 posts were originally publised in my blog, according to the month, and entered in all monthly official SewCal Gal Blog posts.  Thanks again!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

December's FMQ challenge

Last minute Mary here!! lol.  I did one of the border practices earlier in the month, but never took pictures, so I had to create another sample tonight, since I'm visiting family, and the sample is at home.  Yikes!!  Patsy Thompson's designs are wonderful, and I love her teaching style.  You can't help but relax when she talks, and then she also makes you laugh.  I hope I get to meet her one day.

I was really looking foward to doing this practice, but things got crazy, and time flew.  I learned something about myself while doing this tonight.  I already knew I'm a procrastinator, but I played.  I tried left to right and right to left.  I'm smoother going right to left, which is actually backwards of how I write.  I know my "left side" feathers are smoother than the right sides, and that does show here.  I need to do more right side stuff.  I wonder if it's connected with the "left brain/right brain"?  Today I was doing more planning, and organizing.  I wasn't in a creative mood.  I drew lines to keep me straight, but the markers didn't work well, and I had to switch to the Sewline pencil.  That helped me see the lines better, but I know I need new contac lenses.   Anyway, on to the evidence. 

I did the worms, swirls, and petals, and the curvy spined one sided feathers.  LOVE my left side feathers!! Right side?? NO.  Some of the stitching looks good, but it's not smooth.  I was rushing.  I need to really practice more.  Most of this month's projects were pajamas for Christmas, so it's been a while since I actually did FMQ.  I did enjoy the effect of the Aurifil variagated thread, in teal, pink and white.  I used a solid pink and solid teal for some rows, too (all 50wt cotton).  That was fun.  Size 14 quilting needle, unbleached muslin top and bottom, and Warm & Natural cotton batting. 


I'm looking forward to learning more, designing more, and using many of these patterns in future quilts.  This has been a wonderful experience, and I'm so glad SewCal Gal coordinated this for us.  I have grown so much this year, and learned so much.  I will be forever grateful to SewCal Gal and all the instructors for making this possible.  Thanks also to the sponsors.  The incentives you provided really helped motivate me to get this done, too.  Big Quilty HUGS!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Special Order

I had a conversation "at" my Etsy store recently.  The customer asked if I had a quilted table topper in different colors.  We discussed fabrics and colors, and I made this.  It's fun knowing I can make something that someone would love to have in their house.  I also love using my Accuquilt GO! cutter, and choosing fabrics from my collection. 

As I picked the fabrics and considered the placement, I decided to go with a planned design, rather than random, like the one the customer had seen.  I placed 3 rows of tumbler pieces on my design wall, and stepped back.  I moved two of the colors to get a better placement, and really liked it. 

Before I knew it, after chain piecing the shapes together, I had 3 rows done!  It was really fast.  After I got the rows together, I layered it with a pretty cream floral backing fabric, and Warm & Natural batting, and decided to quilt it with a medium brown thread in a Leaves and Loop design, similar to the one the custmer had seen.  It's bound and ready for its new home! 

I wish I could have gotten a better picture, but it's a little dreary today.  The colors are really pretty, very chocolaty!!  That spark of blue in the floral really adds some punch! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pillow Cases for ConKerr Cancer

Arrow Cabinets is sponsoring another drive for pillowcases to donate to ConKerr Cancer.  I've created 4 this time. 

Arrow asked for Christmas theme and ones for boys.  Here are mine. 

I thought this Christmas print was cute, with snowflakes, trees, and snowmen, ane even mugs of Hot Chocolate.  This is a Debby Mumm print. 
This bike fabric was purchased from my friends at Enright's Fabric Warehouse. 
They also had this cute holiday print. 
 The last, from my stash, is guitars. 
I'm hoping some children find comfort and healing from these.  It's such a good feeling to make something like this, and only takes a short time to complete.  If you want to make some, let me know and I'll give you good directions. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Quilter's Christmas Party for Operation Homefront

SewCal Gal is hosting a party today.  I'm linking up.  It's for military families in need, which is a wonderful cause.  We may say we support our troops, but what have you actually DONE?  I can say I've donated to Quilts of Valor, among other little things.  What about you?

If you want to donate to an excellent cause, and get a chance to win some wonderful prizes, please follow the above link to read all the details and donate.  It warms your heart to know that you are doing a little something that adds up to a great deal to those who have been helped. 

My tip for today?  Find your passion, and use that to help others.  Maybe it's quilting, like mine, or maybe something less creative.  It's the thing that gives you joy, and you would be surprised about the joy you feel when someone else benefits from your shared talent or skill.  Sing.  Bake.  Cook.  Whatever it is you love to do, do it once in a while to benefit someone else. 

I'm sewing some pillowcases today, to donate to ConKerr, so someone in a hospital will have a fun, comfy and pretty place to put their heads.  What are you doing? 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Did you know??

Did you know I make dresses, too?  I actually started sewing by making my doll's clothes, mostly Barbie stuff, when I was little.  I am very comfortable making just about anything, and can copy many designs, as long as I have some basic info, and measurements.  I usually try to find a pattern that will work for certain items, especially with curves and neck and armhole shaping.  The rest is easy.

A friend, Melissa, asked me to copy a vintage doll dress for her.  She sent the dress and the fabrics she purchased, and said the doll was a 1964 version of Mattel's Drowsy. 

Here's a picture of the dress.
This was a much-loved doll.  The dress is badly worn, with holes in the front and back, faded, and the elastic on the sleeves doesn't stretch.  I looked through my patterns for dolls that measure about 16 inches.  My friend Bernie played with some pattern drafting fabric and traced the basic shape (as we figured it, a challenge with so much damage) so I could compare sizes.  I was going to adapt an American Girl pattern, but found one closer in my old stash of Cabbage Patch Kids patterns.  I must have made a similar dress for my neice when she was a baby (and she has a baby now, lol  Where did time go?) 
A note about me:  I love the challenge of copying something.  This had a little applique, red ric-rac trim, and lace collar and around the sleeve.  I also try to improve it, if I can.  The biggest challenge on doll clothes is the size of the pieces, and the small seams and curves.  You need to be more accurate and careful on these than you do on "people" size clothes, which makes doll clothes more difficult to make.  FUN, but a challenge.  I'm always up for a good challenge.
This sleepy little baby doll is going to love her new dress!  Isn't it cute?  It's a little longer than the original and the skirt is much fuller.  I did copy the applique and red ric-rac trim. 
Here are both together. 
And the back view, with 2 snaps undone.  All inside seams are serger finished, just like I make "real" clothes. 
Do you think Miss Drowsy will love it? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November FMQ Challenge

I'm LOVING this challenge!!  SewCal Gal had a wonderful idea, and it's been a great learning experience.  Sarah Vedeler is one of my quilting Idols!  I loved her approach to teaching this design, and know I'll use it. 

I actually BROKE my spring darning foot!!! That's how much I've been using it!  The little arm that goes over the needle bar broke off.  I brought it to my machine store (Pocono Sew and Vac, whose owner Bob sold my mom my first machine when I was 6, then he moved to PA and I did too!) Bob said "If you hadn't used it, it wouldn't have broken!" Lol.  He's so funny.  Um, yeah, but to improve I need to practice, and that means using the foot.  I may have been partially to blame, though.  I didn't like how high the foot jumps in the up position, so I wasn't pushing it up as high as needed on the bar, which affected where the spring bar hit the needle bar.  It actually could still be used, but I got the new one, anyway.

Now, to show pictures and LAUGH!  I have done swirls before, big ones, and medium sized.  Most of the time they look pretty good.  These little ones look HORRIBLE!! Why is it that I do better on "real" quilting and stink at practice pieces?  Maybe I know it only counts for this blog post, and that practice is important, but the real "performance" is more important.  I also admit I was tired and have been a little over stressed lately.  I'm sure things will improve soon, but my brain couldn't get the smooth round shape this time.  I tried playing with speed, too.  Practice is important, and fun if you can laugh at yourself! 

Muslin fabric, Warm & Natural cotton batting, Aurifil 40wt blue variagated thread (fun!) and Schmetz size 14 quilting needle.
I marked lines with a ruler, although one got marked incorrectly and made the spacing off on the 2" swirls. 
Close up.  It's getting there. 
I do think Hazel had a good laugh over this, too, though. 
I did do swirls in this wall hanging in the beginning of October.  It was to represent the ocean waves, which is the blue in the Greek flag.  They weren't too bad, but again, I need to be smoother, although I think the most recent practice is better.  More practice coming!  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Hi.  A UFO is now finished.  Well, almost. I do have to sew down the hanging sleeve.  Let me explain.

3 years ago, I started making Autumn Leaves table runners from The Quilt In A Day pattern.  It was fun and fairly easy to make (a little challenging with all the pieces, but pretty when done).  I finished a table runner for my table, and had fabric left for another, so I worked on them 2 years ago.  Last year my friends at Lite Craft added fibre optic lights to 2 of them (one is in my store ) and the other needs to be finished.  I know!! Another UFO.  Or UnFinished Object.  I'll get to it.  It just needs backing, the pocket for the battery pack, and binding. 

Back to this one.  I made the leaves, but couldn't find border fabric I wanted to use.  I found it last year, but it was closer to Christmas, and it got pushed aside again.  So, this year I was determined to finish it. 

I listed it in my Etsy store.  It measures 40" square, and I played with the quilting designs.  I think it is cute!  The leaves were quilted to look like veins.  I used a creamy nylon thread, so it would blend a little, but still give accent to the colors behind it.  I did feathers in the outside borders.  I am practicing them constantly.  I want to do something a little different on each quilt I do, so I did the feathers to meet in the corners, and overlap each other.  It's fun to practice all the designs, and make them my own and make them different.  I see improvement.  I really want to work on some curvy feather plumes.  They look so pretty.  I'm waiting for the next top to speak to me so I can practice them.  The skills that this take get better with practice.  That's the fun part.  But I still have to sew down the hanging sleeve.  I can probably do it on the machine, if I'm careful.  It's faster!  Then it's ready to go.  Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October's FMQ Challenge

October's almost over!  I'm getting prepared for the Frankenstorm aka Sandy to hit between Sunday and Wednesday, so I need to get this post filed before, in case I lose power.  This is the 10th month of the FMQ challenge, and I can see real progress in my stitching and in my comfort zone, as well as the challenge of new designs. 

This month, Teri Lucas encouraged us to play.  Change the fabric, batting, threads, and spacial designs. 

So, I gathered some purple satin, and some polyester batting, layered that over some muslin and cotton batting, and grabbed an assortment of threads, including King Tut by Superior, and Aurifil 40wt and 50wt.  I used my regular quilting needle.  I was a little afraid of what would happen to the satin, but it was really cool to use.  I could see the thread easily (picked contrasting colors) and the shine of the fabric made it easier to stitch.  The biggest challenge was drawing some designs.  My usual favorite SewLine pencils didn't work well on satin, although I've used them to mark sewing dots on the wrong side and they work well for that.  I ended up finding a chalk pencil that gave enough of a mark for me to plan. 

So, I stitched my name, swirled, added a feather, some shells (really cool! New design for me, and I loved making them), and tried that sweet concentric circle thing (need way more practice) and some scrolls.  Added a few pebbles for traveling and filling in.  I played!  It was fun.  It didn't take long, but gave me some ideas for other designs and quilts.  It inspired me.  Sometimes finding inspiration is difficult, and we get stuck (like writer's block, only for quilters.)  This was a great challenge because it offered a chance to play. 

So, thanks again SewCal Gal and Teri!  This was wonderful! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

My favorite jeans!!

What do you do when the zipper breaks on your favorite jeans??  With the price of replacing the jeans so high, I just replace the zipper.  "Just" you say??  Yes, it's actually pretty easy. 

Here's how.
First measure the length of the zipper from the bottom stop to the top, where it goes under the waistband.  Get a jean style zipper this length or longer.  You can find them at JoAnn's or Walmart or many other sewing stores, or online at  That's where I used to get zippers when I did alterations and tailoring for the local dry cleaners.  I still have some (luckily).  I usually get one a little longer and trim the zipper tape to fit. 

Second, carefully use a seam ripper to remove the old, broken zipper.  Be careful not to cut the denim.  Usually, once I get about an inch out, I stick my finger in the space and yank the zipper away from the denim.  It breaks the thread and gets it out quickly.  Just be careful. 

You will probably have to cut the tape out below the bottom stop, since the bartacks on the bottom of the fly will be a challenge to remove and replace.  Just get out as much as you can, and carefully remove the tops from the waistband. 

Thread your machine with a good thread that matches the jeans (not the gold topstitch thread) and use a size 14 or Denim needle.  I use Aurifil thread (40 or 50wt) and a Schmetz Jeans needle.  Place your zipper foot on the ankle. 

Place the new zipper into position.  Make sure the bottom stop is as far down as it can go.  I usually pull one side of the zipper tape below the fly tab, and trim the zipper tape on the other side, so it can lay flat.  Pin it in place and make sure it's flat and close to where the original was.  I usually pin in the side that's between the sectioned part of the fly, not the part with the topstitching on the front.  Carefully push the top of the zipper underneath the waist band.  I trim the tape, as needed, and use a stiletto (awl) to push it in.. 

Line up your zipper foot so that it is away from the teeth, and stitch in this section as far as you can go.  Stitch from the top, and in my case, this is the left side.  If you can move your needle closer to the edge of the teeth, do so.  When you get to the bottom, stitch as far as you can.  Usually I angle this, because I want to make sure the bottom of the zipper doesn't pull out of the fly.  Back stitch here, too.  Stitch across the waistband area to close it and catch the top of the zipper in place.  Be careful sewing near the teeth.  I usually hand crank in this area, to make sure I don't break the needle.  Also, you will need to slide the zipper pull down when you begin, and back up when you finish.  Just put the needle down into the fabrc, and carefully jiggle the pull until it's behind the foot (close the zipper), and continue sewing. 

Close the button and make sure the closed zipper lays flat.  Pin it to the front of the jeans, from the zipper side.  Push the bottom tape down as far as it will go, and push the top of the zipper into the waistband area, trimming as needed.  Check to make sure it's flat, and pin carefully. 
From the zipper side, stitch the tape in place.  Go as far as you can, moving the zipper pull as needed, and backstitching at the top and bottom.  You won't be on the golden thread topstitched part here, so matching thread in the bobbin is important.  Again, stitch the top section into the waistband, and you should also be able to stitch the bottom tape area on to the fly section. 

Finally, Make sure the zipper opens and closes easily, and check again to see if it's flat. 

You just saved yourself at least $10 at the tailors, or so much more at your favorite store to replace your jeans! 

And, with most sewing challenges, it gets easier as you do them.  Let me know if you have any questions.  It's similar in trousers, too, although the fabric is easier to sew, and you don't need such a heavy weight zipper.  Have fun saving money, and getting some more wear out of your favorites!