Turn those projects – Stat!

PROBLEM:  I don’t know about you, but when I am sewing small projects that require turning,  I always dreaded it.   It always seemed that my fingers were too big to fit in the small openings I left in the fabric.   I figured there had to be a better way.

I turned to our medical specialists and doll / teddy bear makers.  It “Turns” out that a surgical hemostat or locking pliers,  works fantastic for clamping and assisting turning for small fabric projects.  They are not sharp, can reach into the smallest places, and lock on to the fabrics allowing you to easily pull the fabric right side out.  Since the tips are typically rounded, they can also be used to help push out the corners.

“Mischief Managed”
I hope you enjoy this trick! I should be able to pull more tricks from my hat between now and November 3rd.
Be sure to comment on my blog about which ones you like best and share some of your own quilting and sewing magic tricks.  I will draw one name from the comments randomly November 9, 2019 and follow-up with the lucky winner to send one of these special tricks!
Please, share with your friends.


Mat Trick – For Your Sewing Machine Pedal

Whether you are a player of cards, hockey, or even cricket you might be familiar with the Hat Trick!  This Mat trick might not refer to an accomplishment of three, but you can easily apply this trick to all of your sewing machine pedals for a great win.  (I know I needed three!)

PROBLEM:   When you sew, does your pedal gradually creep forward?  Mine do.

I found these white 5″ x 4″ silicone mats on Amazon through a company called Silicone Alley, 5 for less than $6. If you like colors, check out the Silicone Alley shop.  They are much like the silicone mats that are popular for baking and for wax molding arts.  However, in this case,  they work perfectly to create better traction between your sewing pedal and the floor.  These mats are VERY low profile, easy care, and easy to pack for travelling.  If they get dirty, wash them with soap and water then dry.  They perform as good as new.

“Mischief Managed”
I hope you enjoy this trick! I should be able to pull more tricks from my hat between now and November 3rd.
Be sure to comment on my blog about which ones you like best and share some of your own quilting and sewing magic tricks.  I will draw one name from the comments randomly November 9, 2019 and follow-up with the lucky winner to send one of these special tricks!
Please, share with your friends.







Coming Soon! – Curated Quilting Tricks

This year I am hosting my first ever, “Dueling Threads” retreat.  During this retreat I am sharing some lesser known (in my opinion) quilting and sewing tricks that I have “invented” and curated.  Join me to see what kinds of tricks I pull out of my hat, then let me know what your favorites are!




A Vintage Farmgirl Story

I finally finished it!  If anyone followed my blog since 2016, then you may have seen these blocks come together.  If not, and you like short stories, I have shared some of mine here.

Farmgirl Vintage



2019 Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival

Shout out to those looking for a fun, fiber filled Saturday in Kansas City.  Saturday, June 15, is the last day of the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival.

2019 Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival Info

I was able to break away and visit on Thursday and Friday late afternoon / evening.  The quilts, both in the juried and guild showcases are fantastic and sure to give you ideas of technique and style.   I think there are 18 guilds and over 100 sponsors / vendors participating this year!  It is really a showcase of talent, skill and beauty.

Participating guilds are there with opportunity quilts as well.  You can try for a chance to win a beautiful heirloom!  I especially like the nod to Frank Lloyd Wright and the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild.   Small quilts are up for silent auction with proceeds benefiting The Sewing Labs and Once We Were Refugees. ♥

The next show isn’t until 2021, so don’t miss out… I plan to try to take it all in on Saturday! Maybe I will see you there …



Rags for Riches

As I was busily cutting old denim jeans to use for another June Tailor Charming Circles Tote, I looked at the stack of denim pocket pieces that sat without a plan.



Charming Circles Bag – Ruler for Retreat Demo Donated by June Tailor, Inc.


Sometimes I have the quilting attention span of a puppy.  The pockets screamed “squirrel”!    So I stopped cutting and started piecing scrap denim pockets and pieces (instead of finishing my cutting).  I sewed a denim back from scraps and used top stitch thread that I use to hem jeans leaving the edges open.  In this way, when washed, the edges would have the “frayed” look that I like for the Charming Circles pattern.

This is similar to the charging pockets that I posted using curtain grommets but is a lot faster to finish.


It’s too bad I didn’t have any of the jeans that are popular now with the fancy pocket decorations…

What do you think, is this a good use of pockets?




Just Can It!

Just Can It!  or Put a Lid on It!

I’m not sure of the historical timeline of these phrases, but as a parent of tweens,  I am positive that when a Mom says these things, she is definitely thinking something else!

So while we enjoy the very momentary silence that might follow this canning reprimand,   let’s take a look at the very last picture block from Farm Girl Vintage that I am including in my quilt, Canning Season.  I plan to use the Haystack layout in the Farm Girl Vintage book but with large 12″ scrappy haystack blocks instead of the smaller ones suggested in the book.  You can really see some of grandma’s stash showcased here with some of mine.  It is definitely scrappy!


I chose the blocks for this quilt as I went along and thought of a story in my life that they represented.  I realized too late that I should have made the smaller blocks!  This final block is special to me and was very difficult for me to complete, as my grandmother passed away this spring.

My Grandmother, Sylvia, lived about 4 hours away.  Our family would take the road trip to visit fairly often.  As the oldest grandchild, I was able to share a long time with my grandmother at both the house she raised her family in, and then later in her new neighborhood.  I have so many memories.  My youngest uncle and aunt still lived at home when I was a little girl.  There were easter hunts (where we thought we lost the last egg), Uncle Don’s old green car in the driveway, sticks in my uncles stocking, Christmas parties, Grandma helping me clean rust off an old bicycle in the shed, Airplanes that flew over the house (all the time),  her old-fashioned washing machine, homemade Christmas ornaments, aunt Kathy’s Barbie doll and clothes that they would drag out of the pull-down attic when I would visit,  Aunt Kathy asking me to be her flower girl, Coffee and Scrabble / Crossword / Cards.  (Yes, I have Grandma to thank for my coffee habit!).  I could not even begin to name them all.

She also taught me to quilt.  I am forever grateful for her encouragement.

Canning Season represents another little memory.  Every time I would visit, she would let me open a new jar of jelly.  We would go down to her pantry shelf and she would give me one to open for our toast.  I loved to open them because the top of the new jelly jar had a wax plug in it and I always thought that the jelly at the top, that had never been used tasted the best!  For some odd reason, I thought that was really fun…
(Aren’t kids strange?)

The quilt is coming together now.  I am using the blocks you see here with white sashing and scrappy cornerstones.   When complete, it will be a happy quilt of warmth and memories.




Challenge Accepted -MQG

A couple of years ago I joined the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild. Since then I have enjoyed Guild meetings with presentations by both local and national fiber artists. I have seen many techniques presented that I was not familiar with. Large-scale fiber art displays, fabric weaving, extemporaneous piecing, appliqué techniques, indigo dyeing, and faces are just a few.

What I have most enjoyed in my Guild are seeing the challenge pieces completed by the members and opportunities to socialize and meet some of the talented, artistic people in my area. I have made so many new friends.

This year, I decided to accept one of the challenges; Riley Blake Spring 2018 Fabric Challenge.

If you signed up early enough, they sent you four fat eighths (9″x21″) from their “Riley Blake Basics” collection to create a quilted object of your choice. I challenged myself to make it completely from the fabric provided without buying additional fabric.

“Featured basics include Navy Mini Hashtag, Rose Gold Kisses, White Triangles and Navy Stripe.”

Today, I submitted my official entry online and we are encouraged to share on social media, so here is my plug… I really enjoyed participating! Free fabric. How could I go wrong? One way, I would get to hang in a booth, the other, I have an adorable new addition to my quilting studio!

Without further ado, here is my entry;

Feathered Photo Pop

The pattern is a take on the Binding Tool Star pattern by Missouri Star Quilt Company. By scaling it down even smaller than a mini binding tool, I was able to construct about a 14″ mini quilt from only four fat eighths, including the backing and binding.

I call it the “photo pop” because I inserted fabric photo corners in the seams of the center block. You can slip your favorite photograph into the corners for a quilted frame.

If you don’t want to use a photo, you can embroider or big stitch quilt in the center block.

I am excited about my pattern idea and can see other mini quilt patterns with this concept in my head.

Perhaps after the contest is over, I can post the pattern I have worked up. I can’t wait to work up a series of photo pops. They will be so much fun to hang in my studio throughout the year.



Let it slide

My husband came to me (several times) last year and told me that he thought the kids really needed a 3D printer… Mind you, they do not know how to use 3D modeling software yet. 😉

Well, he did finally purchased a printer and some filament. We have small plastic fidget spinners, and utilitarian tools floating around the house now. (I admit, it is really fun to watch it print, and way more useful than my eggbot!)

When I was loading and marking new leaders for my Handi Quilter today, I decided that I should load a ruler tape to help keep quilts square. (I’ve seen lots of videos of people using them, i just haven’t ever tried one). I sketched up what kind of markers I needed to fit my flexible centering tape, and asked if he would help 3D print some.

Voila’! I love what we came up with. I guess his machine could prove to be useful after all!

If you are so inclined, and have a 3D printer, check out his design on You could print some too!

Sliding Longarm Tape Markers

Update:   If you don’t have a 3D printer, or just want some without the extra effort, I now have sets of three available for sale (Limited Quantities!).  Check out my new SHOP!

He is going to try to make the next batch thinner, but I’m going to test these out tomorrow. They seem to stay in place very nice. Long arm Quilters out there, what do you think? Do you see any drawbacks to these or ways to improve them?

Now, I need to dream up the next useful quilting tool for the printer. The one I have in mind might just accompany a new pattern!



Interstellar Suite – Quilt Week Part II

NO, this isn’t about Interstellar or the Interstellar Suite – Movie Soundtrack scored by Hans Zimmer.  However, the Danish Symphony’s performance is impressive and Wikipedia says that Interstellar was one of the most pirated movies of 2015…

This is about a finish!
When I visited Paducah, KY for Quilt Week in 2017, my friend Kayla and I visited the National Quilt Museum.  We met artists George and Virginia Siciliano, both distinguished quilt artists in their own right, and George was giving demos of his miniature quilt designs!  He specializes in log cabin block variations.  By variation,  I mean twisted log cabin blocks.  These were not like any log cabins I had ever seen.   Check out his website.


It was wonderful to meet the United States Marine Veteran, musician, and quilter.  He is a wonderful teacher and seems encouraging and supportive to others who want to try their hand at his trade. I was smitten with the colorful designs and chose to purchase his tool and pattern called Interstellar Suite.

The unit has 180 pieces including my borders and binding.  I used some gradient dyed fabric, cut into strips with a solid black background.

Tips and Tricks for Miniature Foundation Pieced Assembly:

  • Pre-cut and organize your strips
  • 80 weight thread (fine)
  • 60/8 Sharp needle  (Note:  Cannot use most auto-threaders with this size.)
  •  Shorter stitch length – I used 1.8 – 2 mm
  •  1/8″ seam allowances  (His tool worked well for this.)
  • A sharp 45 mm rotary for trimming between pieces
  • A small wood wallpaper paint roller (mine is about 1.5″ wide)
  • Patience.  It grows slowly, but then finishes beautifully!

When I precut my strips, I cut my lengths slightly longer than the pattern indicated.  This may have created more seam allowance bulk, but did not detract from the design.  The wood roller was sufficient to press the seams between sewing.  I did not use a hot press until the block was completed.

To display the block, I used Soft & Stable as the batting so that it would not get creased or distorted over time.   I didn’t think this piecing needed any additional quilting to make it “POP”.

I definitely want to try to do more of these.  I may even get adventurous and try to create one without a foundation pattern!  I just need to decide which equal side shape I want to start with.  Or perhaps, I will make a full size quilt as one big twist.


12″ Interstellar Suite Miniature Quilt – Completed in 2018 by Elizabeth Brown                                 Pattern By George Siciliano

Here’s to Twisted Cabins!  Play on.