Sep 122014

My local Joann’s recently asked me to teach a class showing how to make this pattern.

simplicity 2274 overnight bag

Since I never made it before, I did a sample to familiarize myself with the steps.

overnight bag simplicity 2274

Here’s my review of the pattern, Simplicity 2274:

Pattern Description: Large overnight bag with zipper top, one zippered end pocket and front pocket.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, they were well written

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the way the pockets were added. I didn’t care for the recommended strap material.

Fabric Used: Quilting cotton from Joann’s. I choose to make the strap decoration and all the pockets out of a contrasting fabric.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

Instead of 3.5-inch jute webbing for the straps, I used a 1.5-inch braided twine strap. It’s much softer and nicer. I used the same pattern pieces for the strap decoration, (you only need three of the four they tell you to cut, btw) but first sewed the short ends together, then seamed this length into a long tube, right sides together. You then press the long seam open, turn right side out and press flat, with the seam centered on the back. This is the perfect width to top stitch onto the 1.5-inch straps.

Also, step 6 tells you to cut your handles into two 62-inch pieces, which is silly because they are all one long piece. So instead, cut a 125-inch piece, seam the ends together and press seam open. Now you only have to top stitch over two layers at the seam. rather than three.

And, it’s just as easy to cut two #2 pieces, bag front pocket, as it is to cut one. So I cut two and added one to each side. You can’t have too many pockets, right?

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don’t think I need more than one of these, but I might make it again as a gift.

Conclusion: A nice bag that goes together easily. Consider using a prequilted fabric to save time. Also, finishing the edges of the quilted sections with a serger makes a much nicer inside finish.

Sep 092014

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday once again! I trust all of you with kiddos are back into the school time swing of things. For the past several years when this time rolls around I just smile a little smile to myself and thank the Lord I’m done with all that.  🙂

I homeschooled my boys from Kindergarten on up and don’t regret it one bit. It’s one of the most worthwhile things I’ve done with my life.

But, it’s so nice to have more time now for creative pursuits.

Speaking of which….

2014 09 10 woyww polymer clay sea glass, pods, mistakes

…. my desk today shows several polymer clay projects. (Click on the photos for a closer look.)

In the upper left is a page from Christi Friesen’s book FlourishIt’s the section on pods, there’s one I’ve started on the white tile in the middle. More to come.

In the center right, behind the pasta machine is a cautionary tale: DON’T BURN POLYMER CLAY. Yup, I zoned out and set my oven at 375° rather than 275°. It’s rather fascinating how they all puffed out and grew into something resembling prunes (they were the same size as the beads on the white paper on the left when they went into the oven.) But we definitely could have done without the toxic fumes, which is what happens when you burn polymer.

So, don’t do it. K?

faux sea glass polymer clay

Here’s what my properly cured faux sea glass beads look like. I’ll have a video up on Monday showing how to make them and how to make a bracelet from them.

In the meantime, be sure to check out what other creative people are up to this Wednesday by joining in the blog party over at Julia’s. You will certainly be inspired and may even learn something new. 🙂

Happy creating!

Sep 082014

Here’s another necklace I’ll be teaching soon at my local Joann’s.  We’ll be focusing on the basics of bead stringing.  


As I mention in the video, the stringing of beads is the easy part.  Just use the wire like a needle & thread and slide on your beads.  The real work is in the arranging, designing and of course, making sure you have secure closures.


We start out by using quite inexpensive beads (would you believe most of those purple ones are plastic?) but you can still get a pretty piece of jewelry.  Plus it’s good to learn on something that won’t break your heart if the closures let go.  🙂

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

YOu can watch Bead Stringing 101- Beaded Necklace Video Tutorial over at YouTube.


  • 7” strand assorted 10mm-15mm beads in colors of your choice
  • 1 strand 4mm crystal beads to coordinate with 7” strand
  • 1 strand 6mm crystal beads to coordinate with 7” strand
  • 1 hank clear large glass seed beads
  • 1 spool bead stringing wire (.018, 49 strand)
  • silver plated lobster clasp
  • 3 – 6mm silver plated jump rings
  • 4- 2x3mm silver plated crimp beads
  • 4mm silver plated round spacer beads (the package I got had 16)
  • optional (4-6 inch piece of chunky chain)


  • crimping pliers
  • chain nose pliers
  • wire cutters
  • bead design board
  • Bead Bugs Bead Stoppers
  • tape measure 

To make necklace:

  1. Open assorted bead strand onto longest channel in bead design board.
  2. Open each strand of crystal beads, silver plated beads and large seed beads into a separate compartment in bead design board.
  3. Remove 3-5 beads from Jesse James assortment to use in second strand. Arrange these in another channel in board.
  4. Arrange crystal beads and silver plated beads around focal beads in a pleasing design.
  5. Use large glass seed beads to fill in length of necklace, especially going around the back.
  6. Leaving bead stringing wire on the spool, string beads onto wire. When length and arrangement are to your satisfaction, cut off the wire, leaving 3 inches extra wire on each end.
  7. Make sure to secure each end with a Bead Bug.
  8. Repeat stringing, cutting and clamping for second strand of beads. It should be slightly shorter than the first strand.
  9. Remove bead stopper from one end of longer bead strand. Slide on a crimp tube and a soldered jump ring.
  10. Slide wire back through crimp tube, pull snug to jump ring. Use crimping pliers to squeeze crimp, first using round portion then “U” shaped portion of pliers.
  11. Test hold of crimp by pulling on jump ring. Once it is secure trim excess wire.
  12. Repeat steps 9-11 to add one end of shorter strand to same jump ring.
  13. Repeat steps 9-12 to add two remaining wire ends to another jump ring.
  14. Use wire cutters to make a split in a jump ring. Use this jump ring to attach lobster clasp to one of the soldered jump rings.
  15. Optional:  To add length to your necklace and make it adjustable, use a split jump ring to attach a piece of chain to the other soldered jump ring.
Sep 052014

You may have noticed that I’ve been on a kick of copying purchased garments lately. It’s a lot of fun and very satisfying to take a style you like and a fit that works and make copies in any color, fabric or print you want.

copied & altered clothes (2)

Here’s a top I bought a while back because I thought the knotted neckline detail was intriguing.

Now a few years later it’s starting to sprout holes, which makes me sad. So I figured out how they did it and make a pattern.

copied & altered clothes (1)

Here’s the resulting copy. It’s a summer top, so I may not make any more this year, but I hope to make it in a couple more colors for next spring.

pants & tops blue embroidered linen & black

Here’s another top I really liked the style of….

copied & altered clothes (4)

…. but thought a white one would look better with these crop pants. Yes?

If you’d like to make copies of some of your own clothing these videos have tips on how to make a pattern without taking the garment apart.

If you can access old episodes of Sewing with Nancy, her series called “Copy Cat Patterns” goes into detail on how to do this.

Happy creating and re-creating!


Sep 022014

Much to my delight, my husband took over the garden this year. It’s something I’ve done for years and taken satisfaction in, but it’s never been an utter love of mine.

Being an enthusiastic newbie, he may have gone a bit overboard in planting, especially the tomatoes. He planted FIFTEEN tomato plants.

over 20 lbs of tomatoes in just a couple days!

over 20 lbs of tomatoes in just a couple days!

So, that is why this pic of the tomato harvest from just the past two days represents my workdesk this week. Nope, I haven’t been getting much crafting done lately because every day there’s a new pile of something to cook or preserve: 15 pounds of cucumbers, piles of green beans, bunches of basil, a heap of jalapenos, and the tomatoes currently on the table. Yeah, I’ve been busy. But it’ll be good. 🙂

******Update: A few hours later*******

It had been my plan to make tomato sauce Tuesday afternoon after I took this photo, but I wasn’t feeling well so spent the day upstairs in the air conditioning.

Hubby came home from work, watered the garden & harvested…..

yet more tomatoes

…. and I came downstairs to this.



So, this really is what’s on my workdesk Wednesday.  Auuuuugh.

(Is this what they mean by “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”?)


So, this week I thought I’d share with you three of my favorite recipes: for tomato sauce, salsa and jalapeno poppers.

First up is Roasted Tomato Sauce. The original recipe is from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, but I’ve tweaked it a bit. It’s wonderful because the vegetables don’t require much prep and the roasting gives everything a great depth of flavor.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

This recipe makes about 2.5 quarts, but I usually double it, using two large bowls, two baking sheets and roasting for 50 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through.

  • 6 pounds large size tomatoes (like beefsteak)
  • 2 medium size white or yellow onions
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup  olive oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt (start with a lower amount, then check for seasoning before canning)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Core the tomatoes and cut out any bad parts, cut in half around the equator. If you don’t like seeds in your sauce (I don’t mind and leave them in) gently squeeze each tomato half over the sink to remove the seeds.
  3. Peel and cut the onions in half, slice into 3/8-inch slices. Peel all the garlic cloves, but leave whole. Cut the carrots into thick rounds (3/8-inch). I don’t bother to peel the carrots, just scrub them well.
  4. Toss all the veggies into a large bowl (a 32-cup Tupperware Thatsa Bowl works perfectly) along with the thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss in the bowl to coat everything with oil.
  5. Place tomato halves, cut sides down, on a large baking sheet. Then pour everything remaining in bowl over tomatoes, spreading evenly.
  6. Roast in oven for 40-45 minutes. Onions & tops of tomatoes should just be getting black.
  7. Remove baking sheet from oven and immediately use tongs to remove tomato skins. (Depending on the variety of the tomato some skins will slip right off and other will be more difficult. I just get the ones that are easy and don’t worry about the rest.)
  8. Pour the entire contents of the baking sheet, juices and all, into a bowl and blend until smooth with a stick blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a regular blender will do.
  9. Adjust seasoning to taste before canning.

tomatoes green zebra, san marzano

Aren’t these green zebra tomatoes pretty? We had so many I decided to make something to showcase their color, rather than having the green in the tomato sauce. So, hence:

Jalapeno Salsa

Makes about 12 half-pint jars. 

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/4 cup parsley or cilantro
  • 4 jalapeno peppers, stems removed. cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 10 lbs tomatoes, cored & cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup 5% acidity white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  1. Peel all garlic cloves and place in food processor with parsley or cilantro. Process in 4-6 one second pulses until minced.
  2. If you like your salsa spicy, leave the seeds & white membrane in the jalapenos and just cut them into 1 inch pieces. For a milder salsa remove seeds & membranes. Place in food processor with onions for four one second pulses. Veggies should be just chopped fine, but not mush.
  3. Remove contents of food processor to 8-quart pot. Don’t wash out food processor. (Don’t stick your head over this pot and breathe deep, either. haha)
  4. Add tomatoes to food processor in small batches and process each in four one second pulses before adding to cooking pot with jalapenos.
  5. Add salt, vinegar and lime juice to pot. Stir, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until salsa is consistency you like. I let mine go for about 45 minutes.
  6. Adjust salt to taste before canning.
tomatoes black krim, rutgers, san marzano

tomatoes: black krim, rutgers, san marzano plum

This final recipe isn’t so much for preserving as for using up all those jalapenos, but I have had good luck freezing these then pulling out a few to bake for every Patriots game. 🙂

Jalapeno Poppers

This recipe filled six HUGE jalapenos from the garden. Of course, it will fill more if you use smaller ones.

  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 6-12 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise; stems, seeds & white membrane removed (If you’re going to make a lot of these I strongly recommend you use gloves. I generally have no problem with a few, but did dozens one year and my hands burned for three days.)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Cook bacon until crisp using your favorite method. (I like to put it on a rack over a cookie sheet and bake in a 375° oven for 25 minutes.)  When cool, chop into 1/4-inch pieces.
  2. Combine cream cheese with chives, onion powder, salt & pepper. Mix in all but 1/2 cup of bacon.
  3. Stuff jalapeno halves with cream cheese/bacon mixture.
  4. Top each popper with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and a bit of the remaining chopped bacon.
  5. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes.

These are delicious hot out of the oven, cooled to room temp later or even cold from the fridge the next day. 🙂

If you came here looking for a crafty post today, sorry! I hope you enjoyed the recipes instead.

You may find more creative pursuits over at Julia’s where we weekly celebrate What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday. Check it out, we have fun sharing what’s going on in our workspaces. 🙂



Sep 012014

I’m always amazed at how much a little bit of wire wrapping can dress up beads and jewelry.  The ceramic beads in this bracelet were just kinda “meh” by themselves, but look quite nice wrapped in little wire cages.


In this project you’ll learn how easy it is to make caged beads.  These can be used for any kind of project where you use beads: earrings, necklaces or home dec.  Also, if you want more wraps around the beads, just cut your wire a bit longer to begin with.

Enjoy the video and happy creating!

You can watch the Caged in Copper Bead Bracelet Video Tutorial over at YouTube.


  • 7 – 10mm x 15mm oval beads
  • 10 – 6mm bicone beads
  • 28 inches 20 gauge dead soft wire, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • toggle clasp
  • 2 crimp beads
  • 10 inches bead stringing wire


  • round nose pliers
  • chain nose pliers
  • wire cutters
  1. Use chain nose pliers to make a loop in the end of a 4-inch piece of wire.  Continue looping wire loosely around making a spiral until 2-inches of wire remains.
  2. Make a loop on other end of wire and make a spiral as in step one. This spiral should face in the opposite direction so when the spirals meet in the center you have an “S” shape.
  3. Use pliers to gently pull out both spirals into a cone shape. Fold entire unit in half to make a wire cage.
  4. Slide a bead into cage, lining up loops with ends of bead holes.  Use your fingers to shape cage to bead.
  5. Repeat to make a cage for each of the seven beads.
  6. Slide a crimp bead onto 10-inch bead stringing wire. Slide wire through round part of toggle clasp and back through clasp. Flatten crimp with chain nose pliers.  Trim excess wire with wire cutters.
  7. Slide on a 6mm bicone and a caged bead, making sure wire goes through loops of 20 gauge wire, then through the bead and back out through other  loop of 20 gauge wire.
  8. Repeat step 7 to add all caged beads to bracelet. Slide on last three bicones, a crimp and bar of toggle clasp. Slide bead stringing wire back through crimp, flatten with chain nose pliers and trim excess wire.


Aug 292014

All of you who have garments in your closet that fit, but you don’t wear, raise your hands.

I thought so.

So WHY are they still taking up your space if you don’t wear them? There must be something about them you like enough to keep them, right?

And, there must be something about them you don’t like, which is why you don’t wear them.

The trick is to identify the problem and then change it.

copied & altered clothes (3)

Here’s a case in point. I’ve had this top for years and always loved the style of the interesting tie combined with a shaped space for the bead. The neckline shape is flattering, too.

But most every time I reached to wear it, it ended up going back in the closet.

Then one day I realized the issue. The sleeves were puffy gathered short sleeves. Which, I’ve realized, look good on nobody, not even stick thin models.  And that, I am not.

So, once I’d figured out the problem, it took about 30 minutes with a seam ripper to remove the elastic and a few more minutes on the serger to hem the sleeve edges.

Boom, done. Happiness and joy. Wearable top. 🙂

So, my challenge to you is to go find one garment you would wear if you could just change something about it. Then figure out how to make those changes. You’ll be glad you did.

Happy re-creating!


Aug 262014

Hello and happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday!

2014 08 27 woyww craft room organizing upper shelves

Last week you saw I was in the middle of reorganizing my crafting space after the hubs finished a pair of new shelves for my room. I promised completion pics and here they are.

Just standing back and looking at all this neatness makes me smile. 🙂

Each of the two dozen photo boxes on the left ($1.66 each at Michaels) holds a particular kind of supply, or assorted components for a certain project. It’s so easy to just pull out the box with what’s needed.

2014 08 27 woyww craft room organizing lower shelves

The magazine holders on the right are wooden ones from Ikea which I covered with pretty papers. (K and Company’s Que Sera Sera Collection)

Those bottom two somewhat messy looking spaces will soon be covered by doors, hubby promises!

2014 08 27 woyww craft room organizing metal organizer

Always a sucker for cool organizers, I picked this up ages ago, only to discover there was nowhere in the room it would fit.  Now it has a home. That tidy row of ribbons makes me very happy. 🙂

2014 08 27 woyww craft room organizing under table

THIS has been a goal for quite some time: to eliminate all the stuff under, around and behind these baskets on the floor.  This clear, empty space makes me even happier than the ribbons. Vacuuming is a breeze now, too. And hopefully finding dropped beads will be easier.

The only bummer is that under & around all that stuff is where I would chuck things I wanted to hide. So, gotta find new hiding places. You know, like for chocolate I don’t want to share. 😀

2014 08 27 woyww craft room organizing cork board

It was nice to get the Sizzix tower up off the floor, but I didn’t care for the look of that large expanse of black plastic on the sides.

My solution? Cut foam core so it just pops into the spaces, then cover that with 1/8-inch cork sheets. Now I have two mini cork boards for tags & such.

2014 08 27 woyww craft room organizing mason paint jars

To solve the problem of paintbrushes in a jar falling all over each other, I used tin snips to cut 1/2-inch hardware cloth the size of the top of the jar. This piece pops into the top of the ring. The jars were painted with chalk paint (one was tinted with white to make a different color, rather than buying two jars.) After the paint was dry a light sanding brings out the details.

2014 08 27 woyww

Oh, and the workdesk today has a sewing project, another teaching sample for Joanne’s. I’ll take a pic when it’s done and share that soon.

Want to see what other creative folk are up to this Wednesday? Be sure to check out the blog link party over at Julia’s. It’s always fun and inspiring.

Happy creating!


Aug 252014

One good thing about not always being able to buy all the supplies you want, is that you learn to get creative with the supplies you do have.


I’ve often admired jewelry made with long metal tubes as beads, especially the ones that are curvy or spiraled. In fact I thought I’d picked up a few of those curvy tubes in my travels, but naturally, I couldn’t find them.  So, when I came across these longish crimps, I said, “Aha!”


(Click on either photo to see a larger version.)

Throw in a package of Swarovski crystal bicone beads in assorted blues, a few other silver plated findings and there you have it! It’s fun to see what you can come up with whilst digging through the stash. 🙂

You can watch the Blue Crystal & Silver Dangle Earrings Video Tutorial over at YouTube.

Happy creating!


  • 40 – 3mm x 2 mm silver plated crimp tubes
  • 1package 4mm Swarovski crystal bicone bead assortment, color “Muted Blues”
  • 12 – 2mm silver plated crimp beads
  • 12 silver plated crimp covers
  • 2 silver plated ear wires
  • bead stringing wire 


  • wire cutters
  • chain nose pliers
  1. Cut bead stringing wire into six 4-inch pieces. On each one string a crimp bead. Slide bead all the way to one end of the wire and flatten with chain nose pliers. Cover crimps with crimp cover beads.
  2. On two of the wires string an a pattern of nine 3mm tubes with five 4mm bicones, on each of another two use seven 3mm tubes and four bicones and on the last two wires use four 3mm tubes and four bicones on each.
  3. Slide a crimp bead onto each wire, slide wire back through bead until you have a very small loop just above last bead strung. Flatten crimps with pliers, trim excess wire and cover flattened crimp with crimp cover to complete dangle.
  4. Open the loop of an ear wire and slide on one dangle in each of the three lengths. Close ear wire securely and repeat to make second earring.
Aug 192014

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday once again!  

sewing room before bookcases (1)

Today’s mess desk is one I’ve been looking forward to showing you for a while now. When we moved into this house I did mostly quilting, so I took the large empty wall on one side of my sewing room, covered it with white flannel and used it as my quilt design wall.

It saw a LOT of use. (That’s it on the right.)

sewing room before bookcases (2)

Fast forward 16 years and I only make the occasional quilt (still trying to complete a bunch of unfinished tops, though.)  The areas under & around my table and along the wall have filled with stuff and I decided that space would be better put to use with a couple of bookcases.

2014 08 20 woyww reorganzing new bookshelves

My first plan was to pick up two cheapies at Ikea, but hubby offered to custom make what I needed so that it would fit  exactly what I wanted. He designs &  builds custom cabinetry for a living and he does it well, so who am I to turn him down?

The downside to this plan is that I could have had those Ikea bookshelves up and running over two years ago. 🙂 The up side is that these are made to my exact specifications. (Like a space that perfectly fits the press, lower right.) Definitely worth the wait.

2014 08 20 woyww reorganzing

So, my workdesk this work is just a pile of mess that shows me in a frenzy of tossing, figuring & rearranging. Check back next week and I’ll show it all sorted.

In the meantime, if you’d like to see more interesting and creative pursuits on workdesks, check out our blog party over at Julia’s.

Happy creating!