August 22, 2013


I have to say, after working on it for a year, then waiting for a year, having this book alllllmost out is the most fun I've had in a long time. Getting to give it to my friends. Having my grandma leave a teary voicemail when she saw the book was dedicated to her. Sitting with my husband as he looked through it, slowly, one page at a time. Utter sweetness. I love this part.

I made these little lollipops to give out at speaking events. The "instructions" make me grin every time I see them.

My daughter is delirious that we have hundreds of lollipops in the house. It's an exciting time for everyone, not just me!

I also have hundreds of these little postcards to spread the word about my book. I've given out a lot but now I'm worried the remainder might never leave my sewing room. So here is a little plea for help: If you have a free-motion quilting class you teach, or a quilt group you lead, or a fabric store you work at, and you would be able to get these little promo postcards into the hands of interested quilters, can I send you some? If you'd like to help, send me an email ( and let me know how many you might be able to distribute in the next month or so. I'll get them in the mail to you, and include a couple of the lollipops too! All claimed! Thank you generous quilters!

Hope you are all enjoying the richness of summer. The little one's nap is almost over and then we're off to enjoy some fresh air.

August 16, 2013

I'm blogging about a thimble

I had to ask myself when I sat down to write this post, am I the kind of person who blogs about a thimble? The unavoidable answer is... yes. Yes, I am. Read it and weep, interwebs.

Here's the thing about thimbles: they're obnoxious. They make my finger sweaty. I have to take them off to do anything like knot threads or use my scissors. Thimbles fall off, they look silly. You know what I'm talking about. So, even when I have a thimble I usually don't use it. I push that needle with my thumbnail until it aches.

One day while hand sewing I noticed that not only was my thumbnail sore, but so was the knuckle of my middle finger. Here I thought I was a thumbnail pusher, but no! I instinctively start to push the needle with my knuckle but then switch to my thumbnail because, of course, pushing with the bare knuckle hurts. Hmmm. A thimble that went just around the knuckle would be so much more elegant than one over the whole fingertip, wouldn't it? I started looking closely at the notions section of the fabric store.

Here is what I selected.

That little green string pulled out immediately. That's fine, because fixing it allowed me to adjust it to fit just-snug-enough on my knuckle. In addition to making the thimble tighter, I also pulled off the little plastic piece (it's not even glued on, it just pops off). That makes the thimble more pliable and easier to wear with the dimples on the side of the knuckle, which is precisely where I push the needle.

Caution: removing the plastic backing is removing the thing that protects you if a needle goes through the leather. I've only had the needle push through the leather once and it was with a very skinny needle that I was pushing way too hard on. Consider yourself warned.

 So, to any other knuckle pushers out there, that's my hot tip. Free your fingertips! Save your thumbnails! Get knuckle thimbles!

August 07, 2013

Poly Pockets (see through zipper pouch tutorial)

Oh the toys in this house. The teeny tiny choking hazards. The drawers full of "stuff" that I did not buy. When there is too much clutter the kids can't even see the toys they have. They become blind from the mess and they bother their mama because they, tragically, cannot figure out how to play. Unacceptable.

The solution was to surreptitiously take away about 70% of the toys. Anything they hadn't played with in the last 2 weeks, pulled and stored or donated. Instant improvement in both the order and the playing in the house. I also made sure that the toys that remained could be seen, because with little people: out of sight, out of mind. So these little see through zipper pouches were created to contain the sprawling disaster that is Polly Pockets.

I was so darn impressed when I made the first one that I did it again and again. And I made a tutorial because I love you and I don't want you stepping on little doll heads in the middle of the night either.

What you need:
A quilted piece the size you want your zippered pouch (I quilted a piece about 10 x 10 and cut it to 9 x 9)
A zipper wider than your quilted piece
A piece of clear vinyl the size of your quilted piece
A width-of-fabric strip 2.25" wide for the binding

How you do it:

Center the zipper face down on the top vinyl edge and sew it on. About sewing with vinyl: Sew with a longer than usual stitch length, keep the vinyl on the bottom where the feed dogs can pull it through, and avoid pressing it onto the machine bed in any way, or it will stick. I guess someone has developed a special presser foot for sewing vinyl. Please. I don't have the money for that. So I sew with the vinyl on the bottom.

Place the zipper face down on what will be the back of your zip bag. Did you read that right? The back. The side you don't want to see. I know you're about to sew it to the side you do want to see (because I almost did that every time) and that's how you make a normal bag but this is a see through bag. Double check. Align with the vinyl and sew it on.

Now you've got this, looking at the underside of the zipper. I trimmed away a bit of batting from the seam allowance and then stitched down the zipper edge to cover that raw batting at the top. Not necessary for a glorified ziplock, but it made me happy.

Fold the vinyl down over the quilted piece. To make binding easier, baste around the sides and bottom of the bag. It doesn't have to go all the way to the zipper. Move the zipper head to the middle of the bag (so you don't cut it off) and trim the zipper ends even with the edge of the bag.

Finish by binding the three unfinished edges of the bag. Press your binding strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Sew it to the backside of the pouch, wrapping the end of the binding snugly around the top to the front when you start. I advise you eek the binding end out to the side a bit to make it behave when you turn it to the front. Do you see how the raw edge of the binding is sticking out beyond the raw edge of the quilted piece at the end there? That's what I mean by "eek". When you get to the other end, do the same, wrapping the end around the top of the zipper and eeking it out to the side.

After attaching the binding, the front of the bag should look like this. Trim the corners and the binding that sticks out.

Now flip the binding around to the front and machine stitch at the edge. This is the only time I didn't sew with the vinyl on the bottom, but because the presser foot is really on top of the fabric there wasn't any trouble.

Check out that corner!

These little pouches also work well for wrangling sewing tools to sewing events. But around here there are still plenty of marbles and rock collections and hedgehog families that need containing, so you know what I'll be doing with mine!

I hope some of you get some use out of this tutorial. I am getting really excited that my book is about to be released in just a few weeks! More on that soon, I'm sure.