FMQ for a while

I have knocked out a big stash of odds and ends in my sewing pile that needed to be completed.  Got those done and now moving on to something for myself.

Do you recall the Bonnie Hunter Mystery quilt of last year?  Well, I am finally getting around to some free motion quilting on it.  I have chosen an orange peel design intersecting within each 3 1/2 inch block.  In the pink stars I will choose something else, and that is tbd (to be determined).

I only have a 6 1/2 inch throat space on my Janome and the center of this quilt is really difficult. I wonder if during my hobby of sewing I actually get a little yoga out of it with a bit of wrestling?
I have chosen lavender thread 30wt for the top and 50 wt for the bobbin. I see this picture captured a tad of what I am using for the backing.

This will be the big project for a while and I will be sneaking in some smaller projects as 4 people at work have announced baby goodness, so I will be making 4 crib quilts.  I am brainstorming on one right now and have picked through my stash and come up with an idea.  That will be the next interruption on my blog.

My last few posts have me buzzing about the hives.  Not the kind bees visit but the kind that ends up on the skin, itchy and inflamed.  Four doctor’s visits, and I still have them.  The medicine took the inflammation away, and the other medicine took the itch away, but they still flash themselves during the day without warning.  My breakouts on my hands have almost been eliminated.  The ones on my face still appear.  Due to another shot of steroids Friday leaving my appetite ravenous and a foul taste in my mouth, I discontinued using the prescriptions.  I want my body to start beating this on its own.  So no drugs Friday eve.  A few breakouts on the face as before.  No meds Sat, a larger breakout on my torso and itchy, but I didn’t feel the need to itch.  Today, I feel a lump in my throat as I did the first time I got a steroid shot almost like heart burn.  But I need to get off the roids!

If I have another flare up, I will place my tail between my legs and go back to the doctor and follow his orders this time.  I just wish I knew what was causing this.  There have been no introductions of new soaps, shampoos, or of the like.  No introduction of new foods.  I think it is the washing machine (front loads grow weird stuff) combination of the two soaps we use, but both we have used for a long time.  Hiving onward!


Move Over Ironing Board

Move over ironing board, make way for iron caddy tote!


One of the demons of sewing in my little corner of the world called the living room, is space.  Ideally the more room you have the more efficient you can work.

My space is a 18 inch buffet with a rotating mat on one end and my 18 X 24 mat on the other.  The sewing machine sits upon it.  If I have to cut fabric, I have to remove everything off the surface.

Additionally, when I iron, it is located in a different room entirely, so lots of steps two and fro, and not really the best set up, but it is what I have room for.

So my ironing board just got a facelift so to speak.  The muslin cover became decrepit.  Somehow the batting on the underside became melted, and somehow the top was scorched.  If you ran the iron over the surface it would actually crunch.  Not sure when this happened and it wasn’t too long ago I washed the muslin cover.  It bit the dust, so I got my scraps out of the aluminized coated fabric and pieced together a large enough piece to cover most of the iron board.  Using my scraps of batting laid them underneath and it will get me through for the yardage I have to iron.

Not sure if you recall a previous post of mine where I had made iron caddy totes for my mom and aunt for mothers day.   Both of these totes I gave away with the intention of making myself one.  Well I finally got around to it.

During my acquisition of some quilt blocks in an online auction, I decided I was going to go scrappy with a theme of 30s reproduction fabrics.  I knew I had two charm packs with fabrics in this scheme.


So I deemed a coral fabric would tie all these together.  And started sewing, with no plan and it all came together.

So one side is for decoration and to look cute with your hot iron pocketed nicely inside.  It provides a wonderful ironing side with aluminized fabric much like an ironing board but smaller and portable.  With all the layers of insulbrite and batting, there are no worries of the surface you are ironing on.  So this will still be in another room but atop the washing machine or the dryer which is usually ready for use as we store nothing on top.  I can leave it out or put it up, cute and utilitarian.  I have decided to safety pin it closed as I do not like the way the elastic is called out, nor do I like affixing a button onto something which will then make it difficult to iron around.

If you are interested in the pdf on the pattern for this tote click here it is free!

Stay tuned, the weekend is almost here and I feel another quilting adventure coming on! Probably not a finish, but a lot of fun for the fingers and mind.

Just Smurfy

Back in Feb I joined a sewing group.  We all participated in the jelly roll race.  It was a fun day and a quilt top was accomplished on my end of things.

If you recall, I originally called this quilt Jelly Roll Wrong and you can read that post here.  It is fun to remember things by touch or smells or even a picture that is captured so long ago gets all the total recall in the brain going and then you remember the sounds or smells.  This jelly roll quilt has many memories already.  I can hardly believe that 8 months has passed with oodles of things preventing its progress.  If you would like to read more about my excuses/reasons just click on the following links:

I had a breakthrough reading blogs here.  I had started reading the aurifil series about thread choice and I had always struggled with thread in the bobbin and the not so great backs of my quilts with more straight lines in the stitches than a nice plump stitch.  I was always told same thread in the top and bottom.  But that was referring to color I believe.  So I tried aurifil threads idea of the small weight thread in the bobbin and the thicker for the top of the quilt.  Low and behold, the problem that would never went away, finally was fixed.  And so instead of going on with the same free motion pattern randomness I had previously went OCD with, I decided to go stipple in a medium attitude to get this miss thang done.  I found some smurf colored fabric for the binding, and while battling my hives to keep my hands busy so I would not scratch, bound that sucker by hand in one day.  This was the day the meds hyped me up so much I only slept three hours and kept going normal for the following day as well.  Glad I am over this chapter in my life.  The hives are still lingering but I am managing.

So in retrospect, I have renamed this quilt SMURFY.  Remember the smurfs?  The little blue critters living amongst the mushrooms with white hats and lots of personality.  They coined the term “Just Smurfy” which can be good or you can be saying it sarcastically, or it can even mean bad.  So instead of swearing, they would proclaim it as “SMURFY!”  I wonder 10 years from now, if I remember that the dryer crapped out during the making of this quilt?  Perhaps some of these smurfy things will stick with me forever, or some will fade like the fabric.

Do you recall that my cat had babies on this quilt (which all died) while it was on the sewing machine table? I guess she was trying to be close to me while I was away at work. The stain came out!!! Lots of peroxide and shout with elbow grease goodness.


This is the back and was the extra long top that was created in the learning process of quilting. I am a make do kind of person and put this on the back to show my mistake. It is a reminder that quilting is not perfection. It is made by an imperfect person.



The Story of the Tomato Pincushion with tutorial goodness

All of us that choose to have needle and thread in our lives have either owned a tomato pincushion and are not surprised they lurk in most homes.  I have always wondered why are they shaped like a tomato?

In lieu of needing a new pincushion and deciding on the tomato variety I decided to let my fingers type a few extra words in my browser and this is what I learned.

The tomato pincushion supposedly evolved as recently as the early 1900s.  You see when someone moved into a home, a tomato was thought to ward off evil spirits and was placed on the mantle.  As you can imagine tomato season does not last all year long.  So with a bit of cloth it was easy to make a home decor item to ward off the evil spirits that would last the years through.  This seems kind of pagan to me and I wonder if there is more to the story.  But as the Industrial Age revolutionized so much including the manufacture of home sewing machines, pins needed storage and so the tomato pincushion was born.  If anyone has any more facts or insight on this please use the comment section for all us learners.  🙂

I have an antique pincushion.  I acquired it a few years back when I got an old singer in an old singer cabinet from the 40s.  This cabinet was filled with buttons, thread, and all kind of good sewing chotzkeys.  And me being a person who likes to utilize the old, started using the pincushion.  I found my pins were becoming dull and when making my new tomato pincushion threw out all my dull pins.  I think the inside of this antique pincushion has wood shavings.  I don’t want to open it to find out and devalue it.  I also wonder if the outside is made from silk or silken tapestry.  This could be why I had so much trouble inserting pins.  Those of us who have worked with silk know that you have to purchase special pins.  I have officially retired this tired pincushion today.

Have you ever made a tomato pincushion?  It is really easy and doesn’t take more than 30 minutes.

Step one:  Cut a piece of fabric on the bias.  I made a larger tomato and started with approximately a 7 X 10 piece of cloth.
Step two:  Stitch along one end (folding with right sides together) and backstitch at the top and bottom on the pinned side as shown above.
Step three:  Using a needle and thread stay stitch one raw edge.
Step four:  Gather stitched end and securely knot thread.  This hand stitched seam has formed the bottom of your tomato.
Step five:  Turn right side out and fill the bottom with crushed nutshells or rice.  I put about an inch in the bottom of mine.  This will weight down your cushion making the removal of pins easy.
Step six:  Stuff the upper half of your tomato with polyester fiberfil.  I didn’t have any so I rolled many scrap pieces of batting and put them to good use.  There is no such thing as an overstuffed cushion.  The more stuffing, the more personality your tomato will have.  Gather top edge stitching by hand.  Knot securely.
Step seven:  Find a scrap of felt or wool or any kind of cloth to make the tomato top leaves.  Have fun being random with Mother Nature, and cut out a fun leafy cap.


Step eight:  Using an upholstery needle and thicker thread or doubled sewing thread make a loop through the center bottom to the center top poking the needle all the way through the depth of the tomato.  Repeat 4 times or as many as desired.  (I had to use a pliers as my needle was a tad to short to grab).  Knot thread securely.  Stitch or glue tomato leaf topper to the center of the polyester fiberfil end.

These would also make a neat pumpkin pincushion for the season, just saying.

Stick a pin in it, cuz now it is done!

And for more breaking news, I have had rotary cutter fail.  I didn’t know this was possible.  I have had this cutter for about 20 years and it finally kicked the bucket.  The last month every time I have used it, it gnawed the fabric never cutting right seemingly pushing the fabric and then cutting it.  Changed the blades, no help.  Upon closer inspection I see that I wore a flat spot in the plastic that surrounds the blade, so instead of cutting the fabric, it was just scooting the fabric out of the way not really cutting it properly all the time.  You can see my ergonomics have worn the inside plastic away in the circle.  This also cause part of my problem as the blade needs a good flat surface to cut up against.  This caused my blade to wobble and probably not cut very accurately.  I have heard you should check your cutting templates.  If you lay them on their edge and they curve in the center not meeting your table flat, you have slowly whittled away the plastic edge which will account for improper block sizes after cutting and sewing.  Dritz…..I could not find you on the internet so I went for the upgrade.  Olfa to the rescue.


Trifecta and the Hives

I did not look up this title, but it kind of sounds like a famous band from the 60s.  This title sums up the week.

I love a good fabric buy and found some gray fabric charms on sale and got out my stash of white fabric charms and was halfway to an elephant quilt.  Went online and found a girl colored charm pack with a touch of elephants.  I did not use the 3 charm packs in their entirety, but the remaining squares of the prints did get used in the binding.  I will save the gray and whites for something else later.


I quilted this is a free motion over all design of flowers with loop de loops and leaves.  And here is the back.


And then there is the Happy Quilt.  Every time I look at this quilt it makes me feel warm and happy.  I will be gifting this to parents to be and I hope they like it.  Here are pictures of the front and the back.  I went scrappy with the binding on this one too.  This was made from 2 1/2 inch strips I cut from my stash and the choreographed into specific jelly rolls, so a definite one of a kind for this jelly roll race quilt.

And finally, a keeper.  This quilt top I had purchased because it was unusual.  I decided to take it to the longarmer for quilting and glad I did.  You see these squares are velvet which has fabric pile, and so the longarmer complained a bit about the shiftiness of this top.  And because polyester batting was used it really gave it nice loft.  And this quilt is oh sew soft.  It will be used and abused on the back of the couch to keep the shoulders or the feet warm during the winter months.


So last Sunday, it was a normal day, I made French bread.  For the recipe visit my other blog here.  I had just filled my canister with a new bag of flour.  I normally don’t purchase this kind of flour but it was all purpose and useable.  So after I handled this bread, we had sandwiches for supper.  My upper lip swelled.  Not sure why, and then the palms of my hands started to itch.  I thought I had been bitten by mosquitos as there were little blisters forming on my wrist and palm.  Odd place for a mosquito to bite.  And so my hives started, and due to a wrong diagnosis which got worse and worse and here is it 4 days later and three doctors visits with one specialist I have the hives from contact dermatitis.  The last three days have been excruciating.  Bendryl and Zyrtec did not work and so much steroid use later I think I will live, but could there be a roid rage—I hope not!.  Good thing all of my trifecta happened before my outbreak.  I seem to have a good productive streak and then all “H” “E” double hockey sticks breaks out literally.  Before modern medicine how did people even try to cope with this dreaded thing called the hives?

WIP’s lots of works in progress!


Well hello followers!  This post brings good health.  Yes that’s right.  I am feeling more normal, but still have a ways to go.  In the recent past my hobby suffered much.  All my energy had to be focused on bare minimums of bathing, working, and cooking, with much sighs and saying to myself….I think I can.

The last two weekends I have managed three jelly roll race quilts, and during my work week, I pulled off one more baby quilt top.  Due to the grandmother of the recipient of this quilt reading this blog, I will show pictures after I have gifted.

Last Thursday, I took the day off and went to my local longarmer.  I do not usually go this route, but I have good momentum and don’t want Fmq to slow me down.  I took a jelly roll quilt and my velvet squares quilt top to be sandwiched and quilted.  Monday I got a call that she had already finished.  Usually I have a three week wait.

So tonight I am binding the jelly roll race and am halfway done hand stitching.  Tomorrow I plan to sandwich the secret quilt and start quilting on it.  I am also going to start batting shopping as my roll may have enough to finish a few more.  I always wait until it is 50 percent off.

My list of whips:


I have not not worked much on my leader ender.  The postage sheet quilt I am giving an interfacing demonstration next week to our local charity sewing group and using it as part of the demonstration..  I think I am going to look into wool for the batting.  Work is piling up at my machine and it feels so good!

Oajra Quilt Top

Oajra (pronounced OHAHJRAH) is an anagram I made up today while figuring out what to call the photo of my latest quilt top.  It stands for “On A Jelly Roll Again”.  Here it is, with one weeks time and I have made three quilt tops.  My health is making me smile again.  Feeling good transcends into my hobby flourishing as you can see.


The two quilts below were dropped off at the longarmers to be made into a quilt sandwich.




This week, I have realized I need my eye glasses with me at all times.  I do not like wearing them while its hot because they make me sweat and pinch the top of my nose, and the elm allergen count right now has aggravated this girl’s nose with fits of sneezing in the morning and in the evening when the pollen counts are highest.  I am ready for rain.  In lieu of needing glasses at hand, I made a new quilted eye glass case.

And speaking of trees, for the past three years each August we have had a tree problem.  Three years ago, it was due to a neighbors tree that had died in the drought of 2011 and a big August thunderstorm came and lasted about 30 minutes causing a dead tree to break.  The limb that broke hung over our house as a widow maker branch weighing who knows how much for months until said neighbor paid to have it removed.  Last August our largest silver leaf poplar fell.  If someone would have cut this tree down they could not have laid it down any better than mother nature did.  It missed the power lines, the shed and all three fences.  As no surprise this tree had hollowed out over the years.  Three adults could barely hold hands circling the base of this tree….it was huge.  I was a tad sad when it fell.  It provided shade and compost with its leaves, and homes for the bats and birds.

On August 17th of this year, the silver leaf poplar on the property line decided to fall.  This year we have had a lot of rain.  This tree had leaned for the full 23 plus years that I have lived here, and just a week before wished I would have taken a measurement to see how far the tree was from the fence at it’s closest spot.  Perhaps my subconscious saw the tree leaned a tad more than before, and 4 days later it fell.  It fell into the neighbors yard.  It knocked out their power and took down the chain link fence, but thankfully missed their shed as well as their back porch.  We paid for someone to remove both trees this week.  Here is a picture of my latest dead tree.  I did not measure the tree, but I know I could not have hugged the tree and put my arms all the way around it.  Another sad day, as all the oxygen it has given me through years, took in carbon dioxide and converted to clean air just ended abruptly.


These two trees died of what I call heart attacks.  Their heart wood started rotting, and the gasses from decay built up inside the tree.  On a hot day, it aggravated these gasses, excited them.  And that pressure in the heart caused the tree to blow out on the weakest side and topple over.  I have two more poplars that need to come down as they I suspect have a similar issue.  The outside of the tree appears perfectly healthy green, no dead limbs, and then all of a sudden they are gone.  Similar to the blood pressure and silent heart attack killer of adults.

The moral of this story is:  Be thankful for now and today, as tomorrow may never come.  My trees have been teaching me this lesson, am I listening?


On a Jelly Roll

Drum roll please!  Yesterday was National Sew a Jelly Roll Day, and I was a participant.  A very satisfying, easy sew day.  You can read and see more about that here.

So today I unstacked my scrap filled totes and boxes, and decided to take my own advice and sew another jelly roll today.  This was a home made jelly roll with scrappy goodness.  I received a bunch of free fabric a while back from my boss’s wife.  There were lots of oranges so I decided to make that color the anchor point and add some other coordinating colors to this one.  Very scrappy and it says to me “I am a happy quilt, full of sunshine”.

For years I never understood why anyone wanted to make one of these quilts with all it’s simplicity, it never really called my name.  And then I made one, and it was a satisfying sew session.  I encourage all to make one of these.  We have a quilting duty, to keep quilting alive and if that means do something we really don’t want to, chances are, you will end up enjoying the process and the final result.

Since I am on a roll, this week, with this being my second quilt top in two days, I am feeling a Jelly Drum Roll.


Thanks for stopping by to have a look!

Sew a Jelly Roll day!

Yesterday was National Sew a Jelly Roll Day!  This should be an observed holiday!  Easy, no-nonsense sewing for about 3 hours.

I have three co-workers that are expecting babies.  I have three pink jelly rolls and one blue one.  All of these jelly rolls were made from binding and scraps from my stash.  I even cut up the smaller less than a yard cuts about a year ago to make room for some free fabric that was given to me.  I rolled the 2 1/2 inch strips after separating them into blues, pinks, and I think I even have an orange one.  So, by sewing the blue one, one of my coworkers is bound to have a boy right?  Odds are 50/50.

These jelly rolls are made from my stash.  This process turned out 4 rolls many moons ago, just waiting to be made for someone.


I like the ufo fabric in the center as it gives this movement!  A great way to spend an afternoon!

I probably should have worked on my jelly roll wrong quilt pictured below, as I still have a bit of quilting to do.  I have renamed that quilt “Just Smurfy” as the word smurfy used by the smurfs can have a meaning of derogatory or wonderful.  For any of you who grew up watching the smurfs you know exactly what I am talking about.  And life events lately can sum up the word Smurfy just beautifully!


Since I may have a change of hitting the boy or girl target by 50%, perhaps I should nail it with another 50% and sew one of the pink ones for a 66% probability of being right twice?!.  Probably not today, but soon.

Have a great weekend!

Riding the Kitten Express

In Texas, our summer has been almost non-existant.  We had a very long spring, with lots of rain in the summer months.  Normally in August you pray for rain and are done mowing the grass in late June because everything turns brown and dries up from lack of water.  You can easily twist an ankle with the crevices that open up, but not this year.  Spring lasted and lasted and lasted.  Temperature low, dewy grass, an uncharacteristic summer for my region of Texas.

This past week things have finally dried up and the grasses have turned to straw.  So what comes with a long spring?  Lots of the bird and the bees.  I have three female cats that I keep around because they are good mousers and there are known rats in this neighborhood and they have even been known to kill and squirrel, very good little huntresses.  This long spring, cause much ruckus in August, as I have three batches of kittens born, one batch on the second (the numbers are unknown as they are living outside in the hollowed out tree, I think there are two or three), and then the oldest cat had one.  Previously we thought she had stolen one from the other mama cat, but that kitten was hers.  We brought her in with the litter of one.  And then after these kittens were born our third female had 7 one died.  These kittens are so tiny, but full of vim and vigor.  They are three weeks old and fight and play, very advanced in their kitten wisdom.  Usually this does not happen until week 4.

So, this week, could not find one kitten in the house and as small as they are, there are oodles of places to hide.  We finally found them all in a priority mail box.  I dumped them out, 7 were cozy inside, all “dog” piled in.  Moments like these are what it is all about.  Slowing down to get a good inhale of our long spring.  Anyone want a kitten?

I told my mom just yesterday I know the perfect place for them.  I would have to travel more than 600 miles to deliver them and the drive would be long.  I know my Aunt loves kitties, my uncle would be happy for my aunt and laugh at whatever demise they would suffer from (the kittens that is).  So Aunt (and Uncle), would you like some Kitten Express.  When they are old enough I can feed them peanut butter and put them in a box and drive and take a mini vacation, just me, showing up at your door with a breath of Texas spring!  Whadya say?


Every quilter should have a cat.  A great companion at the ironing board, or at the foot pedal, just waiting for a piece of string to move or not move for the attack to ensue.  Cat’s are perfect beings and are low maintenance.  If you have a high maintenance cat, you are doing something wrong, LOL.

The weekend is upon us.  And in store for my other blog, I will be making baked apples.  So please check back soon for a recipe on apples.  Have a great weekend!