Saturday, August 13, 2016

Child's apron

Eight-year-old Jake really wears that apron.

 Child's size Large apron pattern -- one half

Child's apron, size Large (adjustable)

This project is so easy that it would make a good first, sewing project for a beginning stitcher.

Make a pattern out of paper bags or wrapping paper. Your pattern will look just like the pattern shown here in geometric fabric. Cut your pattern paper 29-inches long and 12-inches wide. Mark the 29-inch length with the word FOLD written large along one side.

Mark the other long side of your pattern with a dark marker ten-inches down from the top of the paper. Mark the adjacent top edge of your pattern at the five-inch point. Connect the two marks with a line and cut that angle away from your pattern. 

The result will be a pattern shaped like the one in the photo at the right. the top is five-inches wide; the long side is 29-inches long; the short side is 19-inches long, and the bottom is 12-inches wide.

Choose 2/3 yard of cotton canvas, twill, duck, or a large tea-towel for your apron.

Twill tape from

For apron tie, purchase 2-1/2 yards of heavyweight, cotton, 1-inch-wide twill tape (preferable) or grosgrain ribbon for fabric ties -- available at fabric and craft stores, and at

Open your fabric up and fold in half longways across the width of the fabric with the selvedges on opposite ends of the folded fabric. Place your pattern on the fabric with the long side marked FOLD along the folded edge and the bottom along one of the selvedge edges, as shown in the photo above. Pin in place, and cut out. The resulting apron piece will be 29-inches long, 24-inches wide at the bottom, and 10-inches wide across the top (or bib). 

Double-sided tape finger pressed to wrong side of apron top.
Cut a 10-inch length of Pellon EZ-Steam II, 1/4-inch wide, two-sided fusable tape and finger press the tape to the wrong side of the edge of the bib top. Be sure to press firmly so that the tape will stick to fabric when you pull off the paper in the next step.

Peel paper backing from double-sided tape applied to apron top.
Gently peel off paper backing.
Top edge of apron folded over, secured with double-sided tape.
Fold over the edge to form a narrow hem about the width of the tape. Cover with a damp cloth and press firmly with steam iron on cotton setting for 10-20 seconds.
Top of apron folded over and ready to be stitched down.
Fold down another half-inch and stitch in place. 

Note: If you prefer, you can skip the fusable tape and just double turn the hem without fusing. The tape makes this a little easier, but has it's own challenges -- like peeling the paper off the double-sided tape. You can usually do this by pressing the paper very hard with your thumbnail to lift the paper away from the tape slightly.

Apron side folded in preparation for stitching
Repeat this same folding and stitching process to both right and left sides of the apron.

We will not be hemming the apron. Although you can hem yours if you do not have a selvedge end on the bottom, or if you prefer to add a hem.

Two diagonal armholes in top of apron, folded over once in preparation for making tie casings.
Carefully add tape along the edge of the diagonal armhole, being careful not to stretch the fabric. Fold over 1/4-inch and press, being careful not to stretch the fabric. 
Folding along diagonal armhole to create casing for apron tie
Fold over another inch, and press.
Closeup of fold on diagonal apron armhole before stitching
Stitched casing along diagonal apron armhole
Stitch down along the long edge of the casing formed by the folds, leaving ends of casing open, so that you can thread your ties through the casing.

Repeat process for second diagonal armhole casing. 

Bodkin pulls twill tape through armhole casing.
Pin a large safety pin to each end of your twill tape and feed each end of the tape through one of the diagonal armhole casings, using the pin to push and pull the twill tape through the casing. You can also use a bodkin (shown above) or a hemostat (shown on cutting mat below) to thread your ties through the casings.

Twill tape fed through both diagonal armhole casings.
Neck loop at top of apron bib
Adjust ties and leave a large loop to pass over the neck.

Knot ends of apron ties.
Once the ties are threaded through the casings, remove the pins and tie a heavy knot on each end of the twill tape. Neck loop and ties may be adjusted to fit the child who is wearing the apron. Wrap ties around waist and bring in front to tie.

Child's apron size Large

Warning: Supervise children at all times while they are wearing this apron; apron could be a choking hazard to children under the age of 12.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Sujata Shah's no-template piecing

16-inch, four-patch "pinwheel" block designed by Sujata Shah, pieced by Linda Theil 2016
Sturbridge line by Kathy Schmitz for Moda and Daily Zen line by Michael D'Amore for Benartex.

I attended quilt artist Sujata Shah's "Pinwheel" class sponsored by the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor on July 17, 2016. Shah is inspired by the work of Gee's Bend quilters and has developed a no-template method of piecing to emulate their unstructured designs. Shah's book, Cultural Fusion Quilts, is available at 

Shah's uses four 11-inch squares to make each block, but she said a quilter could use any size base they choose. Since I had a package of precut 10-inch squares in the "Sturbridge" design by Kathy Schmitz for Moda, I based my block on that size. We were instructed to bring a variety of backgrounds in one color and brights in another color. Since I signed up late for class, and didn't have time to shop, I pulled the indigo and buff "Sturbridge" layer-cake, and the Quill Orange from the "Daily Zen" line designed by Michael D'Amore for Benartex from my stash.

Here is my "Pinwheel" saga, as taught by teacher and designer Sujata Shah who said, "No pinning, no marking; I made everything so simple!"

Sujata Shah's "Pinwheel"

Stack four 10-inch squares right sides up, alternating two of background, and two brights. Stack evenly -- photo below shows stacking order.

Cut a diagonal slice with two inch sides across the lower, left-hand corner of your stack. Dispose of cut-off triangles.

Beginning about 1/4 inch off-center of sliced edge, make a gently curved cut to about three inches from right top of square

Make a similar cut on the left side to form a "kite" shape
Beginning at one half of the right-hand side of the bottom, make a cut to divide the fabric on the right side of the kite-shape.

Do the same on the left side. Shah says don't stress about the cutting; just go for it. The idea is to create movement in your blocks with the gently curved pieces. I noticed that my rotary cutter would plow up waves of fabric, but don't stop, just keep going. Shah's unusual piecing method will keep the matching cuts together -- you'll see!
You now have five stacks of fabric pieces; there are four identical pieces in each stack. Mentally number the stacks, beginning on the left: one, two, three, four, and five. (The photos below show different fabrics, but the process is the same for all your fabric choices.)

Take the top piece from stack number two and put it on the bottom of that pile of pieces. Do the same for stack number four. As shown above, your stacks now alternate background and bright fabrics showing on the top of each stack.

With right-sides-together, chain piece the first two pieces #1 and #2 together. Gently fit piece #2 to the curve of piece #1. Continue stitching the whole stack of pieces number-one to number-two. Do not cut the threads between each #1/#2 duo as you complete the seam.

Shah said, "Don’t worry if bottoms don’t fit tops at end, because you are going to square up your block at the end."

When you have completed stitching all four #1/#2 duos together, clip off the end duo; and, with right-sides-together, stitch piece #3 to piece #2 of the duo. Continue until all pieces #3 are added to each seamed duo, cutting each one from the end of the chain as you need it. Continue to chain piece; remember, do not cut your piecing from your sewing machine as you complete each seam.

When all four triplets are completed, cut the last triplet from the chain and stitch piece #4 to piece #3 -- right-sides-together. Continue to chain piece: do not clip when done with each seam. Continue until all pieces #4 have been added.

Cut the last quartet from the end of the chain and stitch piece #5 to piece #4. Continue until all blocks are complete. Cut the chain apart. You will have four pieced blocks.

Press seams toward background fabric. Trim all four blocks to equal size -- I cut mine to 8-inch squares. 

Lay out four blocks to form flower with alternating colored petals.

Stitch top two four-patch blocks together.
Stitch bottom two four-patch blocks together.
Stitch top to bottom to finish block. 

Square-up block. Mine finished to 14-3/4 square. (For illustration, see photo number one at the top of this post.)

I made six blocks with the fabrics I had on-hand and decided to add sashing and borders to make a lap quilt. I cut nine 2.5-inch-wide, cross-grain slices across a 3/8-yard piece of Quill White from the "Daily Zen" collection.

I added vertical sashing between each set of blocks.

Then, I added horizontal sashing to the top and bottom and between each row.

I had to piece two slices together to make a piece long enough to sash each side.

This sashed quilt top measures 35 x 54-inches. I plan to add a wide border of about 5-inches to bring the size to about 45 x 64-inches.

I bought a yard of the Quill Burnt Orange yardage from the Daily Zen collection and cut six 5-1/4 inch slices across the width of the fabric to make a border for the lap-quilt. The quilt now measures 45 x 64. 

I bought a crib-sized cotton batt for the batting layer and two yards of Leaf White from the Daily Zen collection for the quilt backing. Because the fabric was not wide enough for the entire 45-inch width of the quilt, I cut four 2.5-inch strips across the width of the white backing fabric, sewed two lengths together to make each side strip, and seamed a strip to each side of the backing piece.

I will add more photos to this post as the quilt is completed. Thanks to Sujata Shah for her artistry and excellent teaching skills.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

50-cent garage sale find -- twenty years in to-do pile

Printed fabric from "Angel" dolls Craft Pack by Daisy Kingdom Inc. Portland OR, copyright 1996
I picked up this "Creative Stitch & Stuff Craft Pack" for 50-cents at the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild annual garage sale on July 16. According to the cardstock cover, the kit for "4 Angel Garland Dolls" was created by Daisy Kingdom Inc. of Portland, Oregon in 1996. 

Printed cover for Creative Stitch & Stuff Craft Pack -- "Angel Garland Dolls"
by Daisy Kingdom Inc. Portland OR 97209, Copyright 1996. Kit includes "4 Angel Dolls".
Purchased for 50-cents at GAAQG annual garage sale, July 16, 2016.
Printed doll-body fabric from "Angel" dolls Craft Pack by Daisy Kingdom Inc. Portland OR, copyright 1996
The kit includes a cotton muslin panel printed with doll bodies and doll clothes for four "angel" dolls.  Complete written and graphic directions for creating the dolls are included in both French and English.

Printed instructions (in French and English) from "Angel Dolls Craft Pack",
Copyright 1996 Daisy Kingdom Inc. Portland OR 97209
An article in the Portland Business Journal reported that Daisy Kingdom was sold to Springs Industries, Inc. in bankruptcy proceedings the year this kit was manufactured. Daisy Kingdom was well known for it's cloyingly cute creatures such as Ballerina Bunny whose fabric panel kits are currently selling for $20-30 on eBay. 

I sent my angel-doll kit off to my sister-in-law, Susan, who has a penchant for angels. I wonder if the Daisy Kingdom angels will languish for another twenty years in her to-do pile.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Cabin camping in Michigan

Lake Huron beach near camping cabins and campsites at Harrisville State Park, Michigan. Photo: Alisa Theil
by guest blogger Sandy Hewitt

Here is some information about Michigan camping and cabins.

Michigan State Parks:  reservations link: or call 1-800-447-2757.

The online reservation system can be a bit frustrating, so call the 800 number if you have any trouble. Some parks have:
  • Camper Cabins (have electricity, two bedrooms, and sleeps up to seven),
  • Mini-cabins (have electricity, is one big room, and sleeps up to four),
  • and/or Rustic Cabins (have no electricity, sleeps from four to eight depending on the site, and can be far away from the main park facilities - so there is usually a vault toilet close by).

Cabins can be booked up to one year ahead of time, but they go fast depending on the park. There are also private homes for rent in these towns if the park cabins are booked up. 

Some of our favorite parks:  
Camper cabin at Holland State Park on Lake Michigan, Michigan. Photo: Alisa Theil
Holland State Park 
This park has two really nice Camper Cabins very close to the water.  It's on Lake Michigan in Holland, MI.  These cabins are hard to reserve because they book up so fast! Holland is a nice little town too.  

Wilderness State Park
 This park has very secluded Rustic Cabins. They are cool because you are close to the beach on Lake Michigan and there is no one around (the next closest cabin is one-half-mile away). It's like your own private cabin. BUT it is very far from the main park facilities and running water. The vault toilets can be icky. This park is near Mackinaw City. 

Camping mini-cabin at Luddington State Park on Lake Michigan, Michigan. Photo: Alisa Theil
Ludington State Park
We stayed in the Mini-cabins. The location of the cabins was not the best because it was near the pumping station (a bit smelly at times) but the beach to Lake Michigan was close by. There are additional cabins located in other parts of the park that would be farther away from the water. There is a lot to see in this area - a cool lighthouse, the town is nice, sleeping bear dunes are close by too. 

Headlands Dark Sky Park
Not part of the state parks but might be a nice option is a large guest house for rent in the Headlands Dark Sky Park in Emmet County.  The house sleeps up to 20 people. The house is on Lake Michigan but not sure if you can swim right there. 

And more!
Some other nice areas to stay in Michigan: 

  • anywhere on the Lake Michigan side, in the Upper Peninsula - Munising (Pictured Rocks) is nice but Lake Superior is very cold and refreshing :),
  • the East side of the state (Lake Huron) can be nice too - but you need to go at least to Tawas or farther north. Tawas has a state park but we haven't stayed there yet. Harrisville has a nice state park and a nice cabin but the town is tiny and there is not much to do there. The beach is good for little kids since the water drops off slowly. There is also a chain of lakes that might be fun if you are a boater (  - you go through multiple lakes and rivers and eventually end up in Lake Huron.  

UPDATE: Sept. 4, 2016 
We stayed in the "Tawas Bay" camper cabin at Tawas Point State Park in early August, 2016 and took the photos in this Blurb book I produced after the trip. Click on the book cover to look at the book.