Plenty of Leftovers

Thanksgiving meals have come and went.  Bellies are full and ready for round two, three, four, and five.  Leftovers are part of this holiday.  You cook way to much food, and try to eat on it for days before it gets thrown out or grows the fuzzies in the fridge.

In the scheme/spirit of Thanksgiving and their scraps, I have been duly working on a scrap quilt, all from leftovers that I have been saving for years.  It started out in an old pillow case.  Every time I would have a scrap, triangle, square, or selvedge I would put it in the pillow case.  Well, the pillow case burst at the seams.  The scraps were moved to their own tote.  This tote is at the top of the stack currently and easily accessible.  My goal is to deplete these leftovers or at least trim their fat.

I would be sewing/quilting a boy themed quilt top right now as it was told to me this past week that the next person in our group found out they are having a boy.  I have the top already done, but do not have any batting.  I will have to purchase a roll of batting because you get the best bang for your buck buying in large quantity.  I will wait for the right deal and take care of this as destiny defines it.

So, I was itching to use the sewing machine and sew.  The Mystery Quilt On Ringo Lake does not start until tomorrow and I simply could not wait to sew.  I have time off from work and wanted to keep my hands busy.

So I took the phone book I had been saving and am using it as the foundation to sew my scraps.


I grab a few scrappy leftovers out of my tote and the sewing begins.


They are wrinkled and crinkled, but oh so valuable.  To think people do not save their scraps.  With as much as fabric costs per yard this is insane.  I am sewing down my scrap stash to make it a tad more manageable.


Once I fill the whole page with strips/scraps I can then iron and trim them down to make a perfect block.  I am using an outdated telephone book (which by the way will become collectors items one day since everyone is going to cell phones and Ma Bell is dying).  My mother made one of these quilts and used a foundation of used Bounce dryer sheets which is an excellent idea since they are trash anyway and the smart thing about using those, you will not have to tear the paper away from the blocks once you are done.  Green and Genius at the same time Mom!

I am running my strings from opposite corners and will alternate my blocks when it is assembled.  This process is very fast and it is free fabric sew to speak.

So save those scraps, be thrifty with your nickels.  The farther you can make your yardage go, the better for your pocketbook.

Tomorrow once On Ringo Lake Mystery Quilt starts, I will put these away and work on them later, but taming the tote of scraps feels good and I am enjoying this process.

Today–leftovers in my quilting realm.  Tomorrow I will make new leftovers and eat the Thanksgiving ones too.  Life is full, of leftovers.  Life is good!

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.


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!

Lanyard Tie

Having a large lot of silk ties, a while back I had made a silk lanyard for keys for my son. He drapes the lanyard out of his pocket while the attached keys on the ring fall to the bottom of his pocket.  He used this for a couple of years and wore it till it was threadbare.  Here is his replacement.  I snipped off the bottom of the tie where it starts to widen.  I then stitched a decorative stitch on the edges.  I encapsulated a key ring at the base and made sure I bulked up but not too much.  I did this a while back but did not have time to blog about it.lanyard


While doing my evening pinterest interaction last weekend, I wondered aloud what one does with mis-matched socks.  So I typed that into the search on pinterest and pleasantly came across many critters sewn out of non-mated socks.

After looking at my children’s socks, I decided not to use theirs.  Children are hard on socks and they look rather…er….dinghy.  Is is lack of a great laundry maiden?  I don’t think so, they can get grime into the smallest of crevices.  So I went to my sock drawer knowing all of mine have mates, but as an adult, I wear my socks until they wear out, and these would not make the cutest sock stuffies.  So, I moved onto goodwill.  Goodwill had lots of socks mated and in great condition (better than the ones here….go figure).  And so using the methods called out in Sockology by  Brenna Maloney I was able to create some ducks, and some not so duck looking ducks.ducks3

This is her second book and I think I read in the book there is a third coming.  Here are the ducks on the front cover of her book.  Very ducky looking with all their color vastness.

Below are my first and second ducks and both were done within an hour or so.  The first one which is pale green looks like a duck on the top end, but on the southbound end, the tail got lost in the stitching.  Kind of a handicapped duck who lost his tail in an accident.  So the next sock stuffie I created, I nailed the tail but did not make the beak long enough so it looks more like a wren.  I like the unusual-ness you can create with weirdly colored socks.  This will be a big hit during playtime at my house with the imagination of stories created by young’ins.


It feels good to be sewing again

The algorithm in life, things happen in threes.  First it was my car, then it was the TV.  Then the dryer.  All three things have been fixed by us.  All very technical but doable if you have the right tools.  I have had graduations, illness of the whole family, Dad was hosipitalized, and I worked overtime which all converged and became of cluster of time.  Things are normalizing!  Normal is lovely.

In my last post, Vintage Sheet Quilt in the Works, I showed you my preferred method of using vintage sheets because they are scootin’ little critters.

I have sewn the large interfacing panel and got that completed but I did not account for shrinkage with all those 1/4 seams….a duh quilter moment.

This is the size I started with


In the midst of things, I snapped a few photos in between the start and the finish.


And finally, laying on the same mattress (twin) I have ended up with this.


No overhang anymore which is ok.  I will shear this off on the edges, add some white and have already started more gridded squares going for a row all the way around after the white.  Sometimes when quilters start projects and don’t plan ahead, you end up not knowing what to do.  It sometimes turns into a UFO.  But I am enjoying this process so much as it is quick and easy, that is it is just enough for my creative mind.

I have a whole shoebox left of squares and anticipating making many quilts with a grid theme.  My next one will be a square of smaller squares and then star points added with larger pieces of sheets.  Goodness me I have amassed quite a collection of these with another planned swap in late summer.

Pictured here is the back of the quilt top after all the rows were stitches.  It was so nice to sew and sew and sew and not have to iron.  I ironed at the very end.  I am curious to know how this will quilt up on my DSM.


In other news, I am involved in a fabric swap with the members of the missouri star forums.  That starts today and we are swapping reds, oranges, and yellows.  I can’t wait to see what I end up with.  The last fabric swap I was in, the theme was polka dots, and I made this quilt from those 10 inch squares.  And I see I cannot go and retrieve that file because my archive expired.  😦 as the rest of the internet images of it on pinterest.

Here is a small thumbnail of it though, all polka dot fabric, front, sashing, and back with bubble quilting all over.


I start working overtime again this week so my sewing will taper off again.  But because I am working with a smaller piece of interfacing I should be able to sew a snippet of this every night and still make progress, just on a smaller scale.

I look forward to hearing from you!  Feel free to comment about Random things in the comment section.  Comments are fun!

Furry Vest–An Easy Sewing Project

In a previous post I mentioned my free fabric score.  To read more about that click here.  I kept all quilting cottons and a scrap piece of fur.  Hands were all over that stupid piece of fur.  No one could leave it alone.  So I kept it, wondering what I would turn it into.  I purposely hid it so it would still be a good piece of fabric.

A couple of weeks ago I went antiquing.  And of all things came across a gray fur vest trimmed in leather.  Odd that it was fake fur (a really bad fake) with leather trim.  The leather was cracked and dried out.  But the cut of the vest was easy enough.  It was a rectangle with holes cut in it for arms.  And then the way the vest would drape around you was brilliant.  So I mentally noted the details.  And here came the weekend when I tackled this small sewing project.  There are a couple of things if I ever make another one I will change, but for it’s purposes, it will work.  I will add a closure to the front so either piece doesn’t have to overlap the other.  The one at the antique store was fastened with a button which made the symmetry off kilter (which is in now).

I am far from high fashion.  High fashion doesn’t make sense to me, what makes sense is comfort then looks.

In going with the scheme of the fur I picked out some quilters cat fabric I bet I have had lingering in my stash for 20 years and bound the edges and here is the end result.  It is child sized.  (With this being fur, I wish I would have lined it because the fur will end up migrating or bearding to the non-fur side.  You can see a bit of that happening below).  I recommend if you adults try to make this for yourselves to turn the cloth on point so you will have a nice pointed collar on each side plus and collar that will drape just right along the back.  You will also end up with points on the base of the vest which goes with the hemlines of today.

I only had a small 3 inch by a tapering 3 inch piece that went to waste.  I also made sure if you pet the fur it goes from top to bottom.