May 182011

Today’s desk shows my preparation for getting serious about learning how to improve my machine quilting.    Last fall a fellow quilter recommended Diane Gaudynski’s Guide To Machine Quilting.  I checked it out of the library and had to agree, it was fantastic.  So I bought me a copy and have been carefully reading it, taking notes and buying new tools ever since.  (More about that another time.)


The quilt on the table is one I made years and years ago (1996, I think?) for a guild challenge.  It won first place, and I won a pack of fabrics, with which I promptly started the quilt below.  It’s called the The Country Songbird Quilt.  I actually have the center section completely done and the applique for the pillow section is complete.  Just have to quilt that, then add the borders.  THEN bind all those scallops, blah.  (The photo below isn’t mine, it’s one I found online, so I know finishing it IS possible, lol.)

Back to the quilt on the table.  I never did any quilting on it, so I’m going to use it as a practice piece before beginning work on a queen size wedding gift quilt.  The wedding was, ahem, last August?  I believe the etiquette rules say you have a year to get them a gift?  (Maybe that’s just wishful thinking, haha.)  Anyhow, it’s my goal to have it completed for them by their first anniversary.

guide to machine quilting

Can you believe this woman’s machine quilting?!  If I can get just a little bit close to what she does, I’ll be happy.

Here’s a close up of the practice quilt.  Surface embellishment is definitely my thing.  But whatever you do, don’t ever, ever try to do silk ribbon embroidery with satin ribbon.  Yup, even after 15 years I remember what a royal pain in the behind that was.


On top of the quilting book is my sewing machine manual.  I had pulled it out for help replacing the light bulb and started reading other pages, too.  Would you believe that after owning this machine for 13 years, last night I learned three new things from that manual?  Silly little, but very helpful things I wish I’d known.  Read those manuals, ladies & gents!

Beside the books is a pile of bracelets I’ve been working on.  Several got listed in my Etsy shop this past weekend.  If you’d like to make your own, I put up a video tutorial here.

To the right of the bracelets is a white notepad.  See that long list on the left?  That’s a list of most of my pending sewing projects.  The slightly shorter list on the right is of crafting projects.  Sheeeeesh, no wonder I was feeling overwhelmed.  Still am, kinda, lol.

Finally, the white sticky-back felt is to make some jersey bracelets.

Time to get off the computer and get busy!

Happy woyww, all.  🙂

P.S.  To check out what folks from all over the world have on their workdesks today, go here.

May 142011

Here’s a fun weekend project for you.


Doncha just love those funky red chunks?

knotty beaded bracelet with turquoise rounds and red nuggets

So grab your favorite something to drink, then sit back, relax and watch the how-tos.  Then make sure to grab some beads and make a few!



At the beginning of part three I show a diagram which I promised to post on the blog.  Here it is:

knotty beaded bracelet slider knot diagram

Also, here’s a close up of the slider:

knotty beaded bracelet slider closure close up

And, finally, our finished bracelet again.  Have fun!


If you just gotta have one, but don’t feel like making it yourself, there are a few available in my Etsy shop.

May 112011

In the interest of full disclosure, today’s workdesk is not just as I found it this morning.  I had to whip the “top secret art quilt project”  off the table and replace it with a project from another work area.  (Otherwise it would have been a fairly empty table and that would have been boring, wouldn’t it?)


I’m getting set up to make a bracelet, AND make a video showing you how easy it is to make the bracelet.  I’d love say I’m going to have it up later today, but common sense keeps yelling at me, “Are you nuts? No way, not gonna happen!”

Actually, I’m off to such a slow start this a.m., I’ll be lucky to get the video shot today.  Sheesh. We shall see .

In the meantime, mine is not the only desk out there for perusal.  You can check out many other folks’ workdesks at this link.  Try it, it’s rather fun.

Have a great Wednesday!


May 092011

Since Saturday was National Scrapbooking Day, and Sunday was Mother’s Day, I thought I’d share with you my First Mother’s Day scrapbook layout.

I had a LOT of fun with this, after doing many boy-type pages with blues and greens, I went all out girly.  🙂

first-mothers-day scrapbook page left

This one is FULL of fun techniques, it was such a blast to do! Here are just a few of the products and techniques:

  • The QuicKutz Spooky Scroll border die to make the arches. I don’t think they look spooky at all, but put me in mind of a garden trellis.
  • For the journaling tag, the Spellbinders Nestabilities Mega Dies, Labels 8
  • For the flowers, several layers of white mulberry paper, cut with the Sizzix Flower Layers #3 die.  Simply crumple each of the flowers after die cutting, then stack, offsetting the petals.
  • I used Dimensional Adhesive to make a pocket for the Mother’s Day cards I received.  The one you can see, “For You Daughter,” was actually from my mother-in-law.  How sweet! It still brings tears to my eyes when I read it.
  • The transparencies are Prima Clear Paintables.  They come in 12″x12″ sheets with four 6″x6″ designs on each sheet.  It was a blast painting the back side with alcohol inks and blending solution.  Go here (steps 1-15) to see terrific step-by-step instructions by Tim Holtz for this technique.  (One of these days I’ll make a video for ya’ll.)
  • The background papers are from K and Company’s Que Sera Sera Collection.  LOVE those papers.  I’ll be sad once I’ve used up the whole paper pack.

first-mothers-day two page scrapbook layout

Each of those little squares was done with a different technique involving distress inks, rubber stamping, embossing and painting with a variety of media.  I’ll share each one in a separate tutorial some time soon.

first-mothers-day scrapbook page right

It’s hard to believe that little baby is now 23 years old and a Marine.  Jeepers, where does the time go?

I’ll leave you with the journaling:

My first Mother’s Day was May 8, 1988, Joshua was just 17 days old.  Our church always had special recognition for the mom’s on that day: the mom with the most kids, the grandma with the most grandkids, the newest mom, etc. My friend, Karen Wilson, went into labor at nearly the same time as I did.  Our husbands were surprised to see each other in the waiting room at the hospital.  Sadly, by the time I was ready to go home with Josh, she was still in labor.  It was awful and lasted over 72 hours for her.  So, when she got the Newest Mom roses, beating me out by less than 48 hours, I was happy for her.  She told me later she thought of sharing them with me, but decided she’d earned them.  I heartily agreed!

May 072011

My husband’s birthday was this past week and I always try to make a little something for each of my guys on special days.  This year I made him a bucket buddy, using Simplicity 4232.  I think it came out rather nice:


The ideas on the pattern cover are rather frouffy, so I kept this one simple and manly by using denim, black mesh and black binding.  I also didn’t do the gathered handle cover, which seems cute but entirely unnecessary.

Simplicity 4232 bucket buddy pattern

Here’s a version I made for myself today, now I can have all my pliers-type tools in one place.

bucket buddy finished and filled with tools

Here’s my review from pattern review:

Pattern Description: Bucket Covers/Organizers to fit over 5 gallon and 5 quart buckets.  I made the 5 quart size. 

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? The directions could have been more clear in some areas. See below for tips on how to simplify this project.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked that they gave a pattern to make bias binding from your matching fabric.

I wish they’d made patterns for covers in more than two sizes. The five gallon is huge, the five quart is kind of small. A pattern for a ten quart bucket would have been nice.

Fabric Used:Cotton quilting print, and denim. I used scrubbie mesh for the pockets and premade bias binding.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:Cut off the top of the pocket pattern and bind with premade bias tape, Skip the gathered handle unless you want it to look quite fancy.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I would recommend this to folks who are good at visualizing how things come together. There are spots where this could be a little confusing, particularly when putting in the center divider.

Conclusion: I’ve already made this pattern twice and probably will make it again for gifts. I like the idea on the pattern cover of filling it with baby supplies, it would make an adorable shower gift. If I did that, I would make the gathered handle.


If you’re using plain binding and not doing all the ricrac and decorative stuff, make sure to cut the pocket section at the fold line.  You might notice on the photo of denim caddy, I neglected to do that, so I just folded down the top.  That looks good, too, so hey!



The pattern called for interfacing your fabric, which I did do on the cotton print, but skipped on the heavier denim.  They also give you a pattern piece for making bias binding out of your fabric, which is nice if you’ve never done that before.  I decided to save some time and fabric by using purchased bias tape that I already had.  Whichever type of binding you use, an edge stitching foot is a great tool for adding binding that looks perfect.  You’ll love it cuz it will make you look like a pro.  🙂


You’ll need to bind the top edges of both pocket pieces and the center divider.


I simplify adding the pockets by only marking the long pocket lines.  I first stitch the pockets along the long lines and baste the side edges.


Then I fold and pin in the pleats and baste across the bottom.  This is a lot less fussy than the way the pattern has you do it.  Make sure to place the outer pleats well away from the seam line.


The rest of the pattern direction are good.  Just make sure to follow them carefully, step by step, and you’ll be fine.  Once more, here’s my finished organizer.


Happy Sewing & Crafting!

May 042011

Today’s desk shows a mish-mosh of this and that.  The only reason there’s any clear space at all was that I had to shove everything aside to repair a belt this morning.

The bucket is for a cool bucket buddy for me, I’ll share the details soon.  The felting book has been there for weeks, it was just buried under the yarn.  I’m making the cover tote (sorta) with the purple yarn in the background.  The bracelet broke yesterday, gotta repair it.

And those intriguing, messy stacks of yellow, orange and red fabrics?  They’re for my uber top secret project for Quilting Arts magazine.  Shhhhhh, can’t tell.


Oh, and if you’d like to check out other desks from all around the world, go here.  Have fun!

May 032011

Congratulations to the winner of the empire waist dress pattern, Vickie Doswell. 

Keep an eye on this space, as I have lots more patterns to give away.  Some are vintage, some gently used, some brand new and uncut.

May 022011

I’ve been doing quite a bit of sewing this past week but I can’t share any of it with you quite yet.  Two of the projects are gifts and one is an uber top secret challenge for Quilting Arts magazine.  I think I’ll be able to show you that one some time around November or December.

In the meantime, here’s another scrapbook layout for you.  The military theme seems appropriate for this day.

Don’t you just love how delighted Josh & his buddy look?  I think they’re glad to be done with boot camp!

marine corps boot camp barracks scrapbook page left

I found the calendar that’s taking up the left side of the page online at the Marine Corps website.  It shows what kinds of things the guys (and gals!) would be doing every day and every week throughout their training.  It was great to be able to follow along at home and have an idea of what he was up to.

marine corps boot camp barracks two page scrapbook layout

Here’s the journaling:

After the pin ceremony Josh had liberty until 7 p.m., so we got to hang out with him for  a while.  We’d been following along with this calendar for the 13 weeks he was gone, but we wanted to hear all the details he hadn’t written home about, especially about the Crucible.  We took him to lunch, got a tour of the barracks, met his DIs and learned a lot about what he’s been doing.  You can tell by the picture below that he and the other guys were very pleased and excited about their accomplishment!

Photos on opposite page, clockwise from top right:

  • The entrance to the barracks
  • Josh with DI Sgt. Hammer
  • A photo we took the day we arrived (Wednesday) we couldn’t tell if Josh was in there or not – later he told us we’d just missed him.
  • His trunk with his gear – impressively neat and tidy.
  • Josh with DI Sgt. McCombs
  • A depleted “scuzz brush” – These started out as full brushes, but were worn down by the guys running around with two hands on them pushing them  along the floor.  Not fun!  Mostly used as a punishment.
  • DI SSgt. Hall
  • Josh & Larry Shaw on Josh’s bunk

marine corps boot camp barracks scrapbook page right

Apr 272011

Today’s workdesk shows that I’m in the process of commencing to begin the early phases of the first part of the start of a jacket.

Yup, I’m scared and dragging my feet, lol.

I bought Simplicity 2446 because it promised to help you get an “amazing fit,” but after reading the reviews at, I’m a little nervous.  Many folks have said that the directions are inadequate, so I’ve gotten out my Vogue Sewing book and am reading up on tailored jackets.

Fortunately this isn’t particularly precious fabric, just a simple woven cotton, so if I make a mess of it, we’ll just chalk it up to experience.  Right?

Whatever happens, it will have a very cool print for a lining.  🙂

what's on your workdesk wednesday - starting a tailored jacket

The Rit dye is for trying to dye some synthetic pearls and some stone.  I’ll let you know how it works out.  The mug is for another mug caddy for a special someone.  The thing that looks like a basket pattern is for another gift coming up, I’ll show you the completed project next week.  The crafty tubing  project is still waiting, I’ll get to it soon, I hope!

And if you’re wondering why in the world I bothered to post a photo of my workdesk today, go here to see the desks of many other folks who have done the same.  It’s rather interesting, actually!

Apr 262011

Pattern Description: Misses’ / Women’s Dress With Individual Pattern Pieces For B,C,D Cup Sizes or C,D,DD Cup Sizes.This amazing dress combines flattering features of timeless style: princess seamed bodice with Empire waistline, flared skirt gently shaped at the waistline and back lapped zipper. Add a flattering “V” neckline, a choice of long sleeves, pleated cap short sleeves or sleeveless and it all adds up to one amazing dress.


empire waist floral print dress-Simplicity 2247

Pattern Sizing: Size AA 10,12,14,16,18. Based on my measurements I needed an 18. That worked out just right.

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?  The instructions were great. They do a terrific job of walking you through how to get a good fit. Although I know all these fitting procedures, having the reminders right in the directions was helpful.

Simplicity 2247

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I made view B, with the pleated cap short sleeves. Those pleats made me buggy! I found the best way to make them accurately was to trace the pleat lines onto the wrong side with fabric carbon paper, then machine baste over the lines to mark them on the right side. This made it much simpler to fold them accurately. (I almost gave up on that sleeve style, but I’m glad I persevered because they came out really cute.)

I really liked that there were separate pattern pieces for different cup sizes. This takes out a lot of fitting problems right from the start!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:I dropped the shoulder seams down by 1/2 inch and dropped the waist seam down by 1/2″. (Trying to make it less “empire-waist” ish.)

I also shortened the front seam allowance at the underarm to eliminate too much fullness at the front underarm.  This was where the fitting directions in the pattern were very helpful.

Also, I used an invisible zipper instead of a lapped zipper and did my own thing at the back facings.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Only after making it did I remember that I’m not really a fan of empire waist garments, so no, I won’t make it again. Instead I found Simplicity 2174, which is a similar style, but with a natural waistline. I would recommend it to anyone who likes the empire waist style and wants to take the time to get a good fit.

Conclusion: A very nice pattern especially if you’re willing to take the time to baste seams and learn how to get a good fit.


I am giving this pattern away to one of my blog readers.  Just leave a comment here by Friday, 4/29/2011 and I will randomly choose one person to win this pattern.  (As I’ve cut out the largest size included in the envelope, it is entirely intact.)