August 31, 2010

back to my roots

While I am admittedly a fan of almost all things crafty, my first love is papercrafts. More specifically, card making. This afternoon, I was able to spend some time crafting a few cards. After devoting so much of my time lately to quilting, it was fun to sit down and play with paper and ink today.


I am a demonstrator for Stampin’ Up!, and next week I am teaching a card workshop to a group of gals I used to work with. They pay a $10 class fee to cover supplies and my time designing the card samples, and then they get to recreate each of the cards twice. At the end of the night, they have six beautifully hand-made cards – a total steal for the money. Of course, I hope they will buy a few new products as well, but it’s not a requirement.

I let the upcoming Fall holidays be my inspiration for each theme. Stampin’ Up! has lots of great products that are specific to each holiday so deciding on which products to feature was a bit of a challenge.


There were lots of creepy and spooky stamp sets to choose from, but I just love the sweetness of the set that includes this image. The other great thing about this set is that it includes three other darling images. One for back-to-school, one for Christmas and the last one is perfect for Valentine’s Day. It’s great to be able to get a lot of use out of a set. For this particular card, I embossed the card base and cut the curvy shape piece using dies from the Big Shot. The image was stamped with Staz-On ink in Jet Black and then I hand-colored it with Stampin’ Up!’s classic inks using a blender pen. I finished it off with a wrap around of hemp twine.


I think this may end up being our Christmas card this year. I {love} Santas and this one us just the perfect Santa. He reminds me of the Sundblom Santa that was featured in Coca-Cola advertisements. Remember those? The card base is a color called Crumb Cake and it is a nice kraft color. I first stamped the Santa in Crumb Cake ink so I could faintly make out all the areas of the image. Then, I used a blender pen, a few classic inks and a white craft ink to color him in. Then, I re-stamped the image using Soft Suede classic ink to really make the design pop. If you are wondering how I was able to get the image exactly in the right spot the 2nd time around, I used a magically wonderful tool called a Stamp-a-majig. I burned the edges of the card front using a stiff brush and some Soft Suede ink. I finished it off, by thoroughly inking the edges of the card front (again, with Soft Suede). The sentiment was stamped in White craft ink on Riding Hood Red cardstock that had been made pliable by curling with the edge of a bone folder. I did some light edge burning on that piece as well before I adhered it to the front of the card with some dimensional adhesive. I love how this card looks like it could have been made decades ago. It’s just the look I was going for.


Thanksgiving cards have become very popular in the last few years. One of gals requested I demonstrate a Thanksgiving card next week, and here is the prototype. I must admit, this design has been lifted off the pages of the newest Stampin’ Up! Idea Book & Catalog. I made a few minor changes in color selection, but the overall design is not mine to take credit for. The largest image is actually from a stamp wheel. It was stamped in Versamark ink. I then dusted it with clear embossing powder, which was heat set giving the image a nice glossy tone-on-tone effect. This card is really quick and easy and could be something you could make dozens for and hand out to all those you wish to show your appreciation to during the holidays.

If you would like more information about any of the products I’ve mentioned in this post, please feel free to contact me via email.

August 26, 2010



Thread. As a quilter it is a vital component to our craft. I learned early on in my quilting adventure that not all thread was created equal. All of the “Learn to Quilt” articles I read emphasized that you would use cotton thread when piecing and quilting. So, with that bit of knowledge I ran to Joann’s and picked up a couple large spools of Coats & Clark 100% Cotton Thread. I went crazy piecing things together, quilted a few projects and then I started noticing some “issues” with my machine.

I was sewing on a Singer Futura SES2000. It has a detachable embroidery unit and was my first new machine purchase in February of this year. I noticed that it wasn’t working right when I would try to do a reverse stitch. It would mostly just stitch in one place. I called the 800 number for Singer support. The lady on the phone was super helpful and asked lots of questions. When she asked me what kind of thread I was using, I proudly told her Coats & Clark 100% Cotton. Then she asked what the weight was, I looked at the spool to see it was 30 wt, which I relayed to her. Then she said, you are using the wrong thread. Oh dear.

It turns out my machine “prefers” 50 wt cotton and all-purpose thread and a 40wt polyester or rayon for embroidery. I had been using Robison-Anton Rayon thread for embroidery and they recommended their cotton for my machine. The only problem is that it’s not readily available. At least not around here. I managed to find a local quilt shop that sold a little bit of RA 50wt super cotton, but they mostly sold the 25wt, which wouldn’t work in my machine. I bought a couple mini-king spools at about $7 each and headed back home. The good news is that my machine was very happy with the change, but I was sick thinking about how much I was going to spend on thread.

On a trip to Paducah, I happened to find a couple of king spools for $12 each… a total steal. I have used a good bit of both of those and have over a dozen quilts to finish before Christmas, so I worried about where I would be able to get more. I am happy to report that I found a great source online for my favorite thread. The prices are really great and shipping is always free (can’t beat that). Plus, depending on how much you spend, they give instant coupons. I stocked up on five King spools and five mini-kings for around $85. A lot of money for just thread, but hopefully this will get me through all my projects this year and then some. sells several brands, so even if your machine doesn’t have such discriminating tastes in thread, you should be able to find what you need.

August 22, 2010

Tools of the Trade: Machingers

Since I began quilting about five months ago, I have done lots and lots of piecing, but I have only quilted about eight things. Four baby quilts and four table runners. In the beginning, I was quilting on a machine with a fairly small throat. It would be cumbersome at times, but I was able to make it work. Thankfully I had an extension table, which helped tons. While it wasn’t all that difficult to quilt, I knew there had to be a tool to make it easier.


One tool that I discovered at a local quilt shop is Machingers. I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to quilt when I was wearing them. The biggest difference was how I felt physically when I was finished. Before, my arms and hands would be really tired when I finished a project. I didn’t realize how much of a strain I was putting on that part of my body just trying to move my quilt around. I love this product and at around $8 for a pair, they are one of the less expensive tools I use.

I love that they are form fitting, but they aren’t hot. They are easy to get on and off and they come in a variety of sizes. If you don’t own a pair for yourself, look for them at your favorite quilt shop or they are readily available online. I have found them for as low as $7.09 at Create for Less.

**Do you use gloves when you quilt?**

August 20, 2010

Portable Design Wall Tutorial

I’ve been cleaning, purging and organizing my studio to make room for all of my new quilting *stuff*. As I was sifting through the menagerie of things in the large closet, I came across an old fabric board. It is one of those accordion folded pieces of corrugated cardboard that can be used for measuring fabric. My mother-in-law had left it behind when she moved out of the house and I just stuck in the closet where it was forgotten about.

I was almost ready to put it in the cardboard recycling bin when I had a flash of genius (at least I thought so). You see, I’ve been wanting to put up a design wall for quite a while now, but haven’t really been too inclined to go pick up the lumber I thought would be necessary to frame it. I was making it overly complicated, I’m sure, but that’s just how my mind works. So on this particular day as I was feely woozy from the heat and tired from all the clean-out *stuff* I came up with a plan for how to turn that old, yellowed piece of cardboard into a design wall.


What you will need:
- Cardboard cutting board
- Felt (or other clingy material)
- Super 77 Spray Adhesive (only the strongest will do for this project)
- Fabric Scissors
- Hanging hardware of your preference


Step One: Spread your cutting board out on a flat surface, preferably OUTSIDE. I cannot stress this enough. Super 77 is M-E-S-S-Y. So unless you want everything in your house sticky and wreaking of heinous fumes, take it outside. I used my driveway.

Step Two: Spray the board liberally with adhesive. This is no time to hold back. Make sure you have even coverage as well.

Step Three: Carefully lay your felt on the board. Using firm pressure, smooth the fabric removing all wrinkles from the center outward.


Step Four: Once you have smoothed the felt completely, it is time to turn the board over. Using your scissors clip the corners as shown above.

Step Five: With the board still upside down, spray adhesive liberally onto the felt that is hanging over the edge, then wrap the felt around to the backside. Again, don’t skimp on the adhesive here.


Step Six: Finally, hang your design board

The greatest advantage to this design wall is that it is portable. You can still fold it up and take it with you. Perfect for quilting retreats or when you head out for a day of sewing with a good friend.

I was able to make this entire project using items I already had on hand. The only thing I had to purchase were the hooks for the wall. Speaking of which, here is a close-up of how I am hanging mine.


I used a curtain grommet machine to make the holes and then I inserted large metal grommets. To hang it, I purchased 3M Command hooks, which just add to the portability. Anytime I want to take this along with me, I can take the hooks as well and not have to worry about hanging it and causing damage to the walls.

One last thing to note. I noticed that the acrylic felt I used was pretty smooth, so to increase it’s cling-ability, I plan to rub it gently with a Scotch-Brite pad to make it a little more fuzzy.

Good luck making your very own Portable Design Wall. If you make one, please let me know, I would love to see how everyone else makes use of this tutorial.

Happy Crafting!!

Edited to add: There are several ways to hang this, so don't think that if you don't have a big grommet setting machine you can't make this work. Binder clips would make for a cute, industrial look. A few skirt hangers that have the pinch clips would give it a home-spun flavor. Make holes with a larger craft needle and string a fine gauge wire through the holes... there are lots of possibilities if you just use your imagination. Have fun!

August 16, 2010

pure heaven


There’s a new fabric line hitting quilt shops in the coming weeks. PURE by Sweetwater for Moda is absolutely perfect. I have been waiting (rather impatiently) for this line for a few months now. So imagine my delight when I read that Julie at jaybird quilts is hosting a giveaway of a PURE FQ bundle sponsored by the fab folks at The Fat Quarter Shop. There are five chances to enter, and you can get all the details by clicking here.

August 14, 2010

oh happy day

My very first new sewing machine arrived this past February. It is a wonderful machine and I have gotten many hours of enjoyment out of it. It does sewing and embroidery, and when I bought it I thought I got the deal of the century. I found it at for only $600, while it was retailing on HSN for anywhere from $1200-$1500. Thus far, I have done all my piecing and quilting with this machine, but it does have it’s limitations due to a small throat size.

A few months ago, I happened to catch a “Singer Hour” on HSN where they were featuring the Quantum L-500. It was like angels from heaven had carried this machine to earth to give me all I ever wanted in a machine. It was $1200 and so I cried. After losing my job last October I have really had to change my shopping habits. A year ago, I would have bought it on the spot. Flash forward a year and I figured the closest I would get to this machine was watching the HSN video on YouTube.

Every week or so, I venture over to craigslist to see what kind of machines they have. Imagine my surprise to see a listing for the machine I had longed for, for so many months. It was fate! The asking price was $900… totally out of my price range. Even though the listing said the machine was brand new, never out of the box, I honed in on two little words in the listing… MUST SELL. So, I quickly responded asking if they would accept $500. Then I started having heart palpitations.

The seller responded very quickly with a counter-offer of $600, which is a stretch, but too good to pass up. It turns out, the seller was a cute girl who just graduated with a fashion degree and she received this machine as a “prize” for winning a competition at school. She had three other machines and needed some cash to help her get out of mom and dad’s house. A win-win for both of us, and it made Friday the 13th a great day for me. One I won’t soon forget.

Here she is fresh out of the box. No name for her… yet!

August 12, 2010

New Look

I've had the hardest time getting Blogger to cooperate with me. It shouldn't be this complicated to get a post written and published to my blog, but for some reason, I have the hardest time. I just published a post I had started a few weeks ago. Am I the only person who finds the blogger photo upload/insertion process dumb? Why won't it put the photo where I want it? Does anybody really want all their photos crammed at the top of the post? If someone has any advice, please share, because there HAS to be an easier way!!

A blogging friend of mine recently told me that she sends her posts via email, so I tried it tonight. Although I did have to go in and relink my images, it is definitely quicker than trying to do the whole thing in blogger. Maybe I can start posting with some regularity now. According to my friend, Royce, my life is interesting enough to blog about, so we'll see.

Tonight I noticed there is a new template designer function and that's where I found this new template. Not much different than the plain white I had before, but I do like the shading on this new one. It adds a little something, something. My favorite feature, was the ability to adjust the width of my blog and the sidebar. It's the little things in life, you know?!?!

I hope to be back tomorrow with another installment of my Tools of the Trade series. I have so many great products to talk about.

Seeing Double


I recently finished up a few quilting projects that were twins. The first set was a simple table runner pattern I discovered on Moda Bake Shop. I knew it would be a great quick and easy project for the new 12 Days of Christmas fabric by Kate Spain for Moda. And because it was so simple, I decided to make two. One for me and one to give to my Mother.


I had pieced the tops about four months ago, but had to wait until I could get some yardage to finish up the project. I quilted with a simple meandering and now they are ready to dress up a table for the holiday season.



For the next set of quilts, we know two young ladies who graduated from High School this year and I thought lap quilts would be the perfect gift for both of them. I had purchased fabric from the Hunky Dory line by Chez Moi for Moda Fabrics with the intention of making a framed charm square quilt but I really didn’t know who would be the recipient of said quilt. When we received the graduation announcements in the mail, I knew I wanted to make something for them, and then it hit me, that this would be the perfect use for Hunky Dory.



This collection is so young and fresh I decided that would be perfect for these girls embarking on an exciting new chapter in their lives. I followed my original plan for the framed charm blocks and couldn't be more pleased with the end result. I quilted both with a simple meandering pattern. I’ve sent them away to their new ownders who I am sure will enjoy them for years to come. They finished out at about 48" square. I still have enough jelly roll strips and charm squares to maybe make a little something for myself. For now, the leftovers can chill out in my stash drawer as I have so many other projects on deck.