Wednesday, October 1, 2014

10 Things You Must Have for ALL of Your Holiday Quilting Projects!

Don't you just hate it when you get excited about sewing a new project and you get everything ready just to find out you forgot something?

Well, needless to say, every sewer/quilter has had this happen at least once.  We have all had to make multiple trips to the store:)  So this year as I got started on my projects, I came up with a pretty good check list.

1.  First and foremost, you need a good supply of needles.  One of my quilting instructors told me one time that it was amazing we would spend much money on fabric, but would not change a needle until it broke. Some experts advise you to change your needle with every new project. You will spend less than $5.00 on needles, especially if you have a coupon!  And just think of the timeless treasures you will be able to create with your new needles.  

2.  Thread.  Make when you buy your holiday fabric for all of the presents you are going to make that you remember the thread!  Nothing makes me more upset than to get everything cut out and lined up, and I don't have the color of thread I need.

3.  Adhesive Spray.   Make sure you have a good bottle of adhesive.  You don't want to get ready to sandwich your quilt just to find that you are out of adhesive spray.

4.  Ruler.  Make sure to read your patterns to make sure that you don't need a special ruler.  I just did this.  I got a wonderful pattern for some holiday place mats.  Bought the fabric, got home and got ready to sew.  I was so excited.  Then I read the pattern and realized I needed a special ruler.  Now I have to wait another week until the ruler gets here.  Bummer.

5.  Pins.  Make sure to go through your quilting or safety pins,  (whichever you choose to use).   Make time to go through them to check for rust..  You may need to re-stock. 

6.  Bobbins.  Make sure to take some time to load some extra bobbins.  Nothing is more aggravating than to be in the middle of top stitching a quilt and have your  bobbin run out.  You can buy the pre-filled bobbins at any quilting store for little money.  

7.  Vanishing Pen for marking the top of your quilt.  You don't want that pen to run out when you are almost finished!

8.   Applique.  Sew On or Iron On.  Make sure you have plenty of adhesive for all of your applique.  (Another reason to read your pattern).  Can you tell I have a problem with this?  I just get too excited:)

9.  Embroidery Designs/Stencils.  If you embroider on your quilts, make sure you have all of the designs/stencils that you will need.  If you need to order anything, make sure you order in time to allow for delays.  Remember, this is the season!

10.  Rotary Blades.  You don't want to get home and get your fabric laid out, and then have a dull blade.  Yikes!

Last but not least, TIME.

 I wish I had something to share with you on how to buy more of this or how to get more.  But make sure that you allow enough time for all of your projects.  Or you can be like me and finish your last project on Christmas Eve:)  

Happy Quilting!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Canning Tomatoes

Every year my husband plants lots of tomatoes.  This year  we planted 24 tomato plants. He watches them grow, (literally), and then comes the harvest!

The tomatoes get picked right before they are completely ripe and laid on a flat surface.  This helps to keep them from splitting open.   Once they are ripe, they are ready to can.

Once the tomatoes are washed, they are put in a pot of boiling water for 10 seconds.  This procedure scalds the skin off of the tomato so you do not need to peel them.

Once the tomatoes cool; you just slide the skin off.  Cut the tomatoes in half, cut out the core, and lay the tomatoes in a pot or bowl.  Once you have enough to can, you are ready to put the tomatoes in the jars.

Get the jars ready by washing them.   My husband and I like to preheat the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit and place the jars into the oven to dry.  This keeps them warm so that when you put them into the cannier, the chance of the jar breaking is minimal.  We also boil our lids in a small pot.

Place the tomatoes in the jars and mash them down.  Fill the jars with tomatoes until the juice covers the tomatoes.  The juice needs to come to the bottom of the neck, or 1/2 " from the top.  Add 1 teaspoon salt for a quart, 1/2 teaspoon for a pint.  For those of you who like a little spice, you can  add one cayenne pepper per pint.

We do not pressure can the tomatoes, we use the water bath system.

Place the jars into a large pot and bring the water to a boil.  Quarts need to boil for 30 minutes; pints need to boil for 20 minutes.

When the time is up, remove the jars of tomatoes from the pot and place on the counter.  We like to cover our jars with a towel so the jars don't cool down too fast.

Once you are finished you can be assured that you will have some wonderful canned tomatoes to use for soups and sauces throughout the long cold winter!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Very First Quilt

My Very First Quilt!!

No one in my family (that I have met) has ever made a quilt.  I had a grandmother who sewed clothing; but no one that quilted.

Back in the 90's, the Walmart in our area had a huge fabric section in the back of the store.  They had lots of space to showcase their fabrics.  There were tables that would each exhibit different fabrics.  But what caught my eye was the way they would stack the fabric on the table.  They really knew how to market their fabric.  You could just "see" a quilt; and I was a novice.  How I loved to walk by the fabric department:).   I would walk by and think, "I want to make a quilt one day".

One day as I walked by, there was a table that had NFL fabrics on them.  Now, my brother is one of those fans that is fanatically dedicated to his team.   His team is the Dallas Cowboys.  On this table, on the top of the pile of fabrics, was about three different types of Dallas Cowboy fabric.  I stood looking at them for awhile and decided I wanted to make a quilt for my brother, but I did not know how.

One of the sales ladies came by and asked if I needed any help.  I explained my dilemma; and she assured   me that all quilts did not have to be complicated,   I could make this first quilt very simple by making 12" blocks.

So, I bought all three fabrics and decided to make my first quilt.

I went home with my purchase and cut out my first squares with scissors.  I dug out my grandmother's old Singer sewing machine, and went to work.  Needless to say, the squares weren't "square", the seams were not straight, but I managed to get the quilt together.

I decided I would put everything together and turn it inside out.  I worked that out okay but then I decided to top quilt it by stitching in the ditch.  (I now know you should quilt it first).  Needless to say, the back did not look too good.  However, I was proud that I managed to get it all together by myself.

When I gave the quilt to my brother he LOVED it!  He actually still has the quilt!

Needless to say, this started something big.  I now know how to use a rotary cutter and cutting mat.  I haven't graduated to the cutting machines yet; but I plan to in the future.  I have updated my machine to a Janome that I absolutely love:) And I now own a lot of rulers!

I still love to buy fabric and have a rather large stash.  My husband said it would be best if I got a drug habit; he thinks it would be cheaper:)!  However, I would not be as happy.

I have come a long way since that first quilt, and the feeling I get every time I complete one just keeps me looking forward to the next one.

What kind of memories do you have of your first quilt, and what got you started?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Graduation Quilt

I absolutely love making a quilt for someone special:)

Graduation is such a happy time for the graduate.  They are off to college to learn new and exciting things and begin a new phase of their life.  They have stars in their eyes of how wonderful life will be; thinking they have all the answers to life's questions.

My daughter graduated in June of 2012.  Maybe it was harder when she graduated because she was the youngest.  I am not sure.  All I knew was my baby girl was graduating, and I was scared to death!

Amber was a very sick baby.  There were times I wouldn't sleep but a few hours each day because she was so sick.  As she got older, she became stronger.  By the age of four, she was running behind her older brother on the football field when he would have practice.  A few years later, she started playing sports herself.

As the years went on I found myself keeping all of her team t-shirts.  She was very active in church so I kept those t-shirts as well.  When my mom came down with breast cancer, she started walking with my mom every year in the Relay for Life.  So I kept those t-shirts also.

As graduation got closer, I pulled out those old t-shirts and decided I would make Amber a graduation quilt.  What more could a girl want, right?

Amber has always been very colorful.  She has always worn two different color of socks:)  Not sure why, this was just what she did.  So I knew this quilt would have to be different from any other quilt that I had made.  It had to be unique, just like her.

So I started by cutting all of the sayings off of the t-shirts and cutting them in ways that would showcase the integrity of the quotes.  I used a woven cotton fusible interfacing to keep the shirt from stretching.  Then I started looking at fabrics.

I must have bought at least 25 fat quarters.  I just picked out fabrics that I knew Amber would like.  I used Etsy to purchase some iron on patches, and then I started.

I also used Printed Treasures to make some of the appliques.  There were certain phrases I wanted to put on the quilt.  So I made the appliques in Word and printed them on the Printed Treasures, then appliqued them to the squares.

I picked up one fat quarter and just started laying out the pieces of t-shirts to see what should go where.  It was amazing how everything just seemed to blend; just like my sweet little girl:)  I took a picture of each square so you can get an idea of how it was pieced together.

The first row:

Second Row:

Third row:

Fourth Row:

Fifth Row

I was totally out of my comfort zone with this:)  I appliqued all of the designs on to the squares.  I did have fun exploring the new stitches on my Janome machine.  I think I tried all of them at least once.  

Some of the sports appliques were vinyl.  I had a hard time with the vinyl shifting while I was trying to applique.  One thing that seemed to work was taking a scrap piece of fabric and laying to the right side of the needle but under the walking foot.  

After I got the squares done, I made sure all measured 16" wide.  I then had to make the choice of what color to do the borders in.  I decided on the hot pink.  Once the borders were on the squares, I sewed them all together to make this very special quilt.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Table Centerpieces For Crafters

Every year I strive to have the best Project Linus Appreciation Dinner I can possibly pull of without spending too much money:)  I mull over making a great presentation, and who will be the guest speaker.  But the biggest problem I have every year is decorating.  How do you decorate on a small budget?

I wanted the tables to be decorated in a way that promoted our  hobby.  So I started googling everything I could think of.   I googled fabric centerpieces, centerpieces made of fabric, centerpiece ideas with fabric, etc.  I stretched my imagination to the point of exhaustion:)

I decided I would go with the old tried and true blue vinyl tablecloth with a burlap table runner.  I bought my burlap from Joanne Fabrics with a coupon and cut it into strips.  The I sewed abut an inch around the edges and then pulled the strings up to the sewing point to"fringe" the edges.

I got the cutest cotton doilies from AC Moore to put in the center of the table.  

Now for the masterpiece of all masterpieces!

I bought basked from Michael's when they were on sale at 50% off.  I used them to showplace things that every crafter has in her craft room.  

Vinyl tablecloth - $1.00
Burlap table runner - $1.99
Lace Doily - $ .62
Cute Basket - $5.00

Putting a smile on everyone's face - Priceless!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Poem

I mentioned in my post of "Why Blog" that I am the Chapter Coordinator for a local non-profit called Project Linus.  Project Linus is made up of a group of volunteers who quilt, crochet, knit, or make fleece blankets for children.  Our mission is this:  To provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need, through the gifts of new handmade blankets or afghans, lovingly created by volunteer "blanketeers".

Saturday, July 19, 2014 was our Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.  We had loads of fun.  I like to highlight the volunteers that go out of their way to help our cause every year.  One of the volunteers we highlighted this year was the lady who delivers all of our blankets.  Believe it or not, she doesn't even sew!  I know, I can't believe it either.  Who in the world doesn't love to sit down with fabric and thread and make something?  I have absolutely no idea.  But this wonderful person is my mom.  Not sure where I got my love of quilting from; I just saw some fabric one day at a local store and bought it.  The sales lady told me to start with 12" blocks, so I did.  I made my brother a Dallas Cowboy blanket for Christmas.  That will be another blog for another day.

To honor my mom at the dinner I wrote the following poem:

What do you get for someone who doesn’t sew, crochet, or knit.
I really have no clue, it has me in a snit.
Who doesn’t love needles, yarn, and thread,
I don’t know; do you think they may be dead?

For needles, yarn, and thread bring a smile
and a yearning to go buy; regardless of the mile.
The sale is on, we really must go,
It doesn’t matter how far, rain, shine, or snow. 

For someone at some time, we must make a gift
And it must be quality; this is not the time for thrift.
But alas, this person doesn’t care for these things,
So what do we do, she must be made to feel like a queen.

For you see, she does so much to help our cause
Without her, we would really be lost.
So help me decide what she really could use;
because right now; I don’t have a clue.

She doesn’t wear jewelry, much makeup or perfume;
She doesn’t do much shopping; or care to own heirlooms.
For buying for her is so very hard,
And it must be something good; she should feel like a star.

For you see, her position is really important.
Without her, we would be lost and dormant.
She delivers all our blankets, for this we must take care,
for there is no one else who can come close to compare.

So Mom or Clara, we thank you for all the miles,
That you place on your car, to bring children a smile.
From the bottom of our hearts, we love what you do.
And your job is secure, we will never bid you adieu.

So alas, back to our question, what do we do?
because we really still don’t have a clue.
So we got together and thought some more,
And we decided we would get you something special we swore.

So a gift card it is, we hope you like it because
No one is better at spreading the word about our cause.
So we hope you have fun, enjoy, and attend
That your time with Project Linus must never end.

We thank you for spreading the word, that we can Give Love, One Quilt at a Time.

For more information on Project Linus, check out our national website at or our local website at

It is simple to become a blanketeer, you just find your local chapter, contact that coordinator, and they will gladly put you to work!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Old Ways

What will happen when the day comes that no one knows how to grow their own food, or how to sew a blanket for warmth.

It is very important for those of us with the knowledge of these things to share with those who don't.

My husband Richard and I both grew up with parents who gardened.  And we have tried to pass this knowledge to our children and grandchildren.

There is no age that is too young to learn of these things.  Lawton, our grandson, not quite yet three years old, took a trip with his Grandfather this morning to the garden.   They picked green beans, and Lawton thought this fun.  He learned that the plants he helped plant weeks ago grew food that he will enjoy eating for the next year.

For now, he thinks walking behind Grandpa is the greatest thing in the world.  And I sincerely hope he continues to think this.  But what happens when school starts.  Homework, sports, friends, those things are important.  However, children today need to be taught these things; for one day they may need it.

The old ways are the old ways, but that does not make them any less important.  Progress has come far since our parents were young; but the knowledge on how to grow food that is actually good for you should never be forgotten.

It is not just gardening that is in danger.  Pottery, Basket Making, Quilting, etc are all crafts that need to be handed down.  If you look at the age group that are active in these types of crafts, the majority are middle aged or older.  Once we are gone, will the children we leave behind remember what they have been taught?

Knowledge is not something that we should be stingy with.    All of us have the responsibility to show each other the things we know so all can be successful in their endeavors.  Let  us never grow weary of this important challenge.  Let us all join together and strive to teach the younger generations the joy and sense of achievement that comes from making something on their own.  Let us teach them they do not have to rely on a government or a grocery store to be able to meet their needs.

If we can leave them with the joy of this knowledge; we have truly left them with a great inheritance.