Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yes, Virginia!

I got this wonderful holiday message from my friend, Virginia in Iowa: 

Thank you for the Gorgeous felt Corsage!  I think it will Rejuvenate my Aura! - Which, by the way, desperately Needed rejuvenation.  I look forward to the opportunity to dress up and wear it.  You are Way too sweet!

And the Pepper Streak
* sounds Yummy.  I think I have fixed a similar dish - don't remember what we called it, but it was tasty. Thanks for the reminder.

Funny thing about crock-pots.  There was a chili cook-off at church toward the end of October. I was not going to take chili  - just corn sticks. But about noon, I decided to make a batch. My chili is nothing to brag about, but I felt obligated to participate. I made it on the stove, but transferred it to the crock-pot to take to church and to keep it hot through the evening. Went early to plug in the pot and get it good and hot again. There were no outlets at the serving table, so a neighbor took it into the kitchen to plug in.  We sat, chatted, waited for the hungry hoards.  Then the young woman in charge was getting things on the serving table. She carried in my crock-pot. The handle broke off.  Everything went flying - like a slow-motion train wreck. Fortunately it was in the kitchen, not on the fellowship hall carpet. A delay while I got the mop and cleaned it up; others wiped down the walls etc. A clever friend looked to see if it was fix-able. It wasn't. My corn sticks were very well received.

So Target has crock-pots for $14? Was that a special? Maybe I'll go see about a replacement. The dead one was over 20 years old. It deserved to go out with a Bang!

I was just watching Moonstruck while making little folded paper boxes - to put gold dollars in for stockings. I love making those boxes. I have the size exactly right for the gold dollars and have made a templet so I get the part of the picture that I want on top. So cool.

Kathleen has another craft show tomorrow for her
counting monsters and baby blankets. She is quite the 'Toy Maker' these days.

It has Warmed Up to about 20 degrees here. The snow we have will probably be around 'til April. The other morning I found Drifts in my computer room! The south door had blown open and I could not close it.  there was a 2 foot drift pushing the door open and there was ice and packed snow around the hinges. I was afraid at first that those hinges were sprung or whatever when I could not close the door, but I chipped away the ice and snow and was very relieved when the door actually Latched shut. Couldn't Sweep out the snow due to the drift. So I got the shop-vac to get it up. It was EVERYWHERE!!!

Simply being snowed-in has been a pleasant relief after that.

Thank you again for the purple flowers! I will wear them with Pride!!

Much love  to ALL
And Many Christmas Blessings!!!

* Pepper Steak recipe (adapted from a crock-pot recipe from Better Homes & Gardens): 
Get a hunk of round – about 1-1/2 pounds, or so – salt and pepper the meat and brown it in olive oil in the pot. Mix a pint of diced, stewed tomatoes with a six-ounce can of Contadina Italian style tomato paste, and a tablespoon or so of Worchestershire sauce. Dump that over the meat in the pot and add two cups of red, yellow, and green pepper strips. (You can buy these frozen in a bag if you want to be quick; I tried them and they were good.) I added a little water, maybe a quarter cup, then just simmered, covered for four or five hours or so. Pull the beef into chunks and serve over any kind of pasta with shaved Romano cheese. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but boy was it delicious. (P.S. I almost forgot -- add a big ol' chopped onion with the pepper strips.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Felt fantasy-flower pins

I saw these cute felt pins in a holiday catalog and wanted to try to make some. The ones in the catalog were all different. Some were layers of felt cut in the shape of petals, some were loops of felt that looked like crysanthemums, some were rolls of felt that looked like rosebuds. Some were a little of each. I made this poinsettia as a trial effort, but it seems to me that you could while away a winter afternoon cutting shapes, embellishing and building flowers to your heart's content. For ideas to spark your creativity, search for "felt flower pins" on Etsy.
Standard copy paper for pattern cutting
Heavy felt squares or yardage, as desired (For poinsettia buy dark green, burgundy, and bright red.)
Variety of large (1-1/4 inch diameter), fancy buttons or large beads for flower center
Beads and sequins (if desired)
Large safety pins or stick pin with safety cap (clutch), or jewelry finding pin back available from jewelry finding stores
Buttonhole twist thread to match felt colors used
Embroidery twist for embellishment if desired
  1. Cut 5-inch and 4-inch squares of paper. Fold paper and cut petals to make pattern for flowers. (For poinsettia, make pointed petals on pattern with eight petals)
  2. Choose felt and trace petals onto felt. (For poinsettia, cut one dark green, one burgundy, and one bright red five-inch flower, and one bright red four-inch flower.) Cut 1-inch squares of felt scraps to layer between petal pieces and cut 1-inch circle (dark green for poinsettia) to cover stitches on back of flower pin.
  3. Embellish each petal piece with beads, sequins, or embroidery before assembly. Do not embellish center of 5-inch petal pieces because centers will be covered with layered petals.  Four-inch petal piece may be embellished everywhere but center where button will be sewn.
  4. Layer petal pieces. (For poinsettia layer 5-inch green, then square spacer, 5-inch burgundy, spacer, 5-inch bright red, spacer, 4-inch bright red.)
  5. Thread needle and using double thread stitch through all layers twice leaving a long tail on back to use to tie knot securing stitches.
  6. Choose button and sew on using the same threaded needled, but do not stitch through all layers of felt. Secure on back by several small stitches and cut thread. Note: a vintage broach would also make a pretty center.
  7. Cover stitching with 1-inch round felt piece (dark green for poinsettia) and using a couple stitches secure to back of flower through the bottom layer of felt.
  8. Using the same threaded needle sew a large safety pin to the round felt piece by stitching several times through the circle on the end of the pin, or sew on a jewelry finding pin back. Alternatively, use a hat pin with safety cap (clutch) to secure flower to clothing.

This blue felt pin has a hat pin made with beads glued onto pin bases purchased at bead store.
Photos by Ben Theil

Monday, October 26, 2009

Contract Bridge

I posted a story on our local website about a new enthusiasm -- Contract Bridge. Check it out at Get in the Game: Contract Bridge.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Janet describes making a Sofa-sized Manly Quilt!

Flannel binding and pocket detail of "manly" quilt
From Janet D.:
I wanted to make a "manly" quilt of my husband's favorite fabrics -- worn denim and soft, old flannel and I wanted it "sofa" sized because that is where he naps. I thought I had enough old blue jeans and flannel shirts and bathrobes around the house to do it which appealed to my frugal leanings. 

No batting needed
Virginia had told me not to put in batting as it would be too heavy and I took her advice.

I cut 8 x 8-inch squares of denim, using all the parts of blue jeans that were salvagable including the pocket parts, both front and back.  I had various colors of blue including some striped. I backed them with flannel, about five different varieties, all plaid. I sewed flannel and denim squares together differently depending on what the denim was like and according to my whims. Many were with an X, some followed the pattern or seam of a pocket, some with a square and one with a heart.

When I had enough squares for five rows across and nine down I laid them out trying to make both sides very random -- no two of the same plaid next to each other and the various quilting designs scattered. When I was satisfied, I sewed the long rows together. It was then I realized that if I continued, and sewed these long rows to each other, the corners of each square would be so thick I would burn out my machine.

Offset seams
So I made five "half" squares and put them alternately on the top of one row and the bottom of the next so the blocks would be off-set. Then I sewed the long rows to each other and it worked!

I wanted to bind the edges, but I had run out of flannel. Luckily I found a big, plaid flannel skirt on the sale rack at the Goodwill Store in St. Marys where my daughter lives. I took it all apart and it gave me more than enough fabric to cut four-inch, bias binding that I sewed on. After snipping the raw edges and washing and drying -- DONE!  It "only" took about nine months from start to finish!

Janet D.

Janet D. and the "manly" quilt

Note from Linda: Directions for another quilt made in this quilt-as-you-go style can be found at Ragged Hearts Quilt:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Heart shaped fiber box circa 1981

A ghost from the past visited me today when I discovered that the Google newspaper archive came up with the directions for a heart-shaped box I wrote about in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette March 5, 1981, titled "Fiber box: A versatile artifact". I no longer have that box -- but those prissy directions and anthropological background are all mine.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Trixie purse made by Joy T.

I had dinner with my friends Tom and Joy T. last night and Joy had the cutest purse ever. She said it is called a Trixie purse and she bought the pattern from Purse Strings: Unique Patterns for Unique Women. She plans to make the Scottsdale Satchel next.

Joy also recommends the online fabric store at Hancock’s of Paducah, where they have (fabric) jelly rolls, layer cakes, charm square, and more, and equally great sales.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cato purse redux

Here is another version of the Cato purse, this time with some directions for how to put it together. I saw this charm square trick on Moda’s Bake Shop blog and wanted to try it. I used nine “Fresh Squeezed” charm squares and followed the Moda directions, seaming together three rows of three, then cutting the resulting square into four pieces and rearranging the pieces into a new square and seaming them together to get my exterior bag bottom. For the exterior of the bag top, I seamed nine more charm squares into a nine-patch, cut the square into four equal pieces and seamed the four cut pieces together side by side to make my exterior bag top. Directions for the bag are given below for using a fat quarter or cut yardage.


Fabric for bag exterior -- one fat quarter OR 1/2 yard fabric or pieced goods
Fabric for bag lining -- one fat quarter OR 1/2 yard fabric
Thread to match fabric
3/4 yard matching or contrasting grosgrain ribbon trim
Optional: fabric-covered cardboard insert to fit bottom of bag.

Bag bottom: 2 pieces fabric 13x13-inches (one exterior bag fabric, one lining fabric)
Bag top: 2 pieces fabric 6x26-inches (one exterior bag fabric, one lining fabric)
Or, if you are using a fat quarter or scraps, seam two 6x13-inch pieces to make one 6x26-inch piece.

Procedure (Use 1/4-inch seams throughout. RST = right sides of fabric together)

Prepare bag top (loop):

  1. RST, stitch 6x26-inch piece exterior bag fabric into a loop; turn and press.
  2. RST, stitch 6x26-inch piece lining fabric into a loop. Press seam.
  3. RST slip one loop inside the other. Stitch completely around the loop along one long edge of fabric. Turn and press. Baste raw edges together – to make the piece easier to handle.

Prepare bag bottom (envelope):

  1. Fold 13x13-inch piece exterior bag fabric in half, RST.
  2. Stitch both short sides of fabric together to form an envelope shape.
  3. With wrong sides out, fold a corner so that the bottom fold matches the side seam and forms a vee-shape of fabric. Stitch across the vee-shape about one-inch from the point of the vee.

    And repeat for other side of envelope. Turn bag, and press.
  4. Fold the top of the envelope 3/4-inch down to the inside of the envelope to form a hem around the top of the envelope and press in place.
  5. Fold 13x13-inch piece of lining fabric in half, RST.
  6. Stitch both short sides of lining together to form an envelope shape.
  7. With wrong sides out, fold a corner so that the bottom fold matches the side seam and forms a vee-shape of fabric. Stitch across the vee-shape about one-inch from the point of the vee. Repeat for other side of lining envelope. Do not turn.
  8. Fold the top of the lining envelope 3/4-inch down to the outside of the wrong-side-out envelope to form a hem around the top of the wrong-side-out envelope lining. Press in place.
  9. Slip the lining envelope into the exterior bag envelope.

    And pin in place about two inches from the tops of the bag and lining.

Join bag top and bag bottom:

  1. Starting at the side seams, match the positions of the seams of the top loop of fabric and the bottom envelope and slip the raw edges of the top loop between the lining and exterior fabric of the bottom envelope about 3/4-inch and pin in place.
  2. Continue pinning until the entire top loop is encased between the outer and lining fabrics of the bottom envelope. Adjust pins and fabric until the pieces fit without wrinkles. Hand baste to hold in place.
  3. Topstitch all around the fitted jointure. (If you are not using ribbon trim, you may use a decorative stitch and contrasting thread to join the top and bottom pieces.)
    4. Pin ribbon trip over the seam, forming a loop at one side seam to hold keys. Hand stitch in place along both edges of ribbon.

Make the handle:

  1. On one side of the top of your bag, centered between the two side seams, mark a 4-inch horizontal line 2-inches from the top of the bag. Using that line as your base, mark two half-inch sides and another horizontal line to make a narrow rectangle in the center of the top of your bag.
  2. Stitching through both the exterior and lining layer of one side of the top of the bag, satin stitch or decorative stitch around the outside of the rectangle. Using a sharp scissor or blade, cut between the stitching to create an opening that looks like a large buttonhole.
  3. Repeat for the other side of the top of the bag.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cato purse

A friend's daughter made a cute purse for her several years ago and I tried to duplicate it. The pattern is fairly simple, just make the bag and lining for the bottom and a loop of fabric and a lining for the top with holes cut out and bound; then slip the top loop with the handholds between the bag and the lining and topstitch the two pieces together. I used fabrics from Moda's "Fresh Squeezed" collection designed by Sandy Gervais. I bound the handholds with self bias binding and I bound the seam between the top and the bottom with orange grosgrain ribbon with a loop for keys. I plan to make another one and document the process sometime this summer or fall.

Ribbon trimmed bag

On the way home from seeing Teddy Tahu Rhodes as Mozart's count at Cinty Opera, we stopped at Jungle Jim's where I saw a cute purse made out of silk and satin crazy quilting with a lovely fringe of looped ribbons set inside the bottom seam. I thought I'd like to give it a try but -- as seen in the photo above -- it didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped.

I made two 10 x 12-inch pieces of random patchwork triangle squares from four-inch charm squares. I used of Moda's "Fresh Squeezed" cotton print fabric designed by Sandy Gervais. (Round the bottom corners of the fabric,  and cut both pieces into identical bag shapes that you desire.) Cut two pieces of matching or contrasting lining fabric the same size and shape as the patchwork pieces. For the ribbon trim, purchase a box of four to six yard-long, mixed-color, fabric ribbon to match or contrast with your fabric. I bought mine in the scrapbooking section of a craft store, Hobby Lobby, to use for the ribbon trim. (Or buy lengths of ribbon you like. Mix grosgrain with silk, satin and chiffon.)You'll also need thread to match and a 12-16-inch cord for the handle.

1. Make 3-inch loops of ribbon in various colors and lay them along the bottom of one of the patchwork pieces on the right side of the fabric with the free ends of the loops parallel with the edge.
2. Pin and stitch over all the ribbons. Repeat with another layer of ribbon until you have the effect you desire.

3. Take your other patchwork piece, lay it right-side-down on top of the ribbons, matching edges and seam around three sides, leaving top open. Turn and press. Fold top down 1/2-inch and press and/or baste.
4. With right sides together stitch sides and bottom of purse lining. Press, but do not turn. Fold top down 1/2-inch and press and/or baste.
 5. Pin ends of cord between bag and lining at side seams. pin or tack in place. Fit lining inside bag, matching seams on side. 
6. Stitch around top of bag to secure handle and lining to bag.

I think it's a nice idea, but I made my loops too long and wasn't careful about how they lay at the end of the bag. It's probably worth trying again. 

Moda has lots of nice free patterns here. I particularly like the All You Need bag. They also have a really cool blog called Moda Bake Shop.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

World Labyrinth Day 2009 in Howell, Michigan

Indy walks the Howell  labyrinth at 1 p.m.

Blue skies on World Labyrinth Day in Howell, Michigan -- Indy, Diane, Annette, Kathy & Tom T. and I all celebrated the lovely spring day. We retired afterwards for PG Tips and banana-nut bread into which some chocolate chips had fallen. I love the old Fannie Farmer recipe -- fast and easy and delicious.

Next morning I found the labyrinth dripping with dew, lit by the sun.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Toad inspects labyrinth

It has been raining all week and I haven't been able to mow the labyrinth for World Labyrinth Day tomorrow. It is a mud bog, fit only for toads.
But the white violets are blooming in the mire.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pysanki-method colored eggs

I learned how to make pysanki -- Ukrainian, colored eggs -- in a class at Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Pennsylvania about 35 years ago. Traditional pysanki are made with poisonous dyes that must be handled carefully and kept away from food and food preparation areas. To make the designs, a stylus called a kistka holds melted beeswax in a tiny funnel. The beeswax is used to create a design by blocking dye with  successive layers of wax. When the egg is finished, the wax is removed by heating the egg in a candle flame and wiping the eggshell to reveal the design. My teacher said it is not necessary to remove the egg from the shell before making pysanki, but many practitioners do this. Real pysanki are nothing like the eggs you see here. Pysanki are incredibly detailed, complex and beautiful. You can learn more about pysanki at

For my pysanki-style egg dying I used food coloring instead of poisonous dye, paraffin instead of beeswax, and a small, child’s paintbrush instead of the kistka. I used vinegar in boiling water as a method of fixing the color on the egg.

Tools and materials:
  • 1-2 dozen jumbo-sized eggs
  • 4 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 to 3 oz. paraffin
  • McCormic food color and egg dye sold in a package of four quarter-ounce vials
  • small double-boiler
  • small, clean inexpensive paint brush
  • old towels, dish towels or rags to cover work surface and use on eggs
  • Scotch-Brite plastic scouring pads
  • rack for eggs
  • four 12-oz. cups or mugs to hold food-coloring bath
  • four large spoons
Cook eggs:
  1. Cover the eggs with water in a large pot and bring to boil.
  2. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the eggs cook in the hot water for 20 minutes.
  3. Carefully drain the hot water and cover eggs with cool water and let sit until the eggs are no longer hot, about 10 minutes.
  4. Pour off water and move eggs to dying table. 
Prepare dye:
  1. While the eggs are cooking, cover the dying table with clean rags or paper and boil a quart of water.
  2. Empty four food coloring vials, one each into four 12-oz mugs. Be careful not to splatter.
  3. Add one tablespoon of vinegar to the dye and fill the mugs HALF FULL with boiling water.
  4. Have a large spoon available for each mug.
  1. Beginning with a white (or light colored) egg, paint swirls of paraffin on an egg. The area you cover with paraffin will appear white (or the lightest color) on your finished egg. You can paint a name or words, if you like. Try not to put globs of paraffin on the egg, because you will have to remove it all in the end. Don’t try to remove any wax if you make a mistake.
  2. Dip your egg into the lightest colored bath, remove and dry.
  3. Paint your egg with more paraffin swirls, dots, lines or whatever you like. Everything you wax will remain the color of your first dye bath.
  4. Dip your egg into the next color of dye. Remove and dry. 
  5. Paint your egg with more paraffin decorations.
  6. Dip into the final color of your dye choices, remove and dry.
Note: To avoid muddy colored eggs, dip in progression of the color wheel – for example: white, to yellow, to green, to blue; or white, to red, to purple. Avoid dipping eggs into opposites on the color wheel – for example: don’t dip a red egg into green.

Once all your eggs are dyed, scrape excess wax off each egg with your fingernail and polish off the rest of the wax with a Scotch-Brite plastic scrubbing pad.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pillow Cases

That was fun! 

Who'd have thought making a pillow case could be so amusing! I stopped by Jennifer's Quilt Shop in Pinckney last week and found they were in the midst of a pillow-case art show. They had dozens of pillow cases hanging from the ceiling and walls all created by customers according to their obsessions from bunnies to zebras. I picked up the Valori Wells Pillow Cases sewing card 'cause I even though you probably don't need a pattern for a pillow-case, I like information. Plus, these cute, note-sized cards would make nice greeting cards for crafty friends. 
Brandi picked some fabrics from my stash -- the pillow case only takes 3/4 of a yard of body fabric, 1/4 of a yard of fabric for the edging band, and 1-1/8 yard of trimming or remnant for trim. I whipped her up a new pillow case in about 30 minutes. The tulips on Brandi's pillow case are quite spring-y -- a good choice.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ragged Hearts quilt

I made this design after our quilt retreat a couple years ago when we all made the quilt-as-you-go Christmas tree quilt designed by Karla Alexander of Saginaw St. Quilt Co.

I wanted to see what the possibilities of those diagonal squares might be and designed a Valentine’s quilt with heart motifs. When Janet said her daughter was having a February baby, I thought I’d like to make a baby Valentine quilt for her, but the quilt didn’t turn out very babyish because the fabric I chose for the hearts was too sophisticated and the background choice I made was too dark. I think she will like it, anyway ‘cause it was made with love for her baby. 

The quilt has ten columns and 14 rows of 4.5-inch squares. Each square is sandwiched with a 3.5-inch square of batting and stitched diagonally from corner to corner through the center of the block.

Some of the squares are made of 5-inch blocks that are made by placing the heart fabric and the background fabric  right-sides-together, and running a seam 1/4 –inch from either side of  a diagonal line marked from corner to corner through the center of each block.
Then you cut through the marked diagonal, press open the seam, trim the seam allowances to square up the block and proceed to make the sandwiches the same as with the plain squares.
Each heart is made of six solid blocks and eight diagonal blocks. To make these blocks you need 12 4.5-inch squares and 16 diagonal squares made from eight 5-inch squares of print fabric and eight 5-inch squares of background fabric. I made each heart of the same print fabric, but mixed prints would be pretty, too.
140 3.5-inch squares of lightweight quilt batting
72 4.5-inch squares of background fabric (approximately one yard)
48 5-inch squares of background fabric for hearts(approximately one yard)
Six times 12 4.5-inch squares of print fabric for each heart (1/4 yard )
Six times 16 5-inch squares of print fabric for each heart (3/8 yard)
44 4.5-inch squares of contrast fabric for border (approximately 3/4 yard)

Sandwich batting between two identical fabric pieces with right sides facing out, then stitch diagonally through the sandwich, using a long stitch with coordinating thread and a quilt foot that feeds the top of the sandwich along with the feed dogs on the bottom. Following this procedure, make:
  • 22 sandwiches of contrast fabric for border
  • 36 sandwiches of background fabric
  • 6 sandwiches of print fabric and 8 sandwiches of print/background diagonal squares for each of six print-fabric heart
Lay-out the sandwich pieces on a table, floor, or felt board and following the design shown in the layout photo further down this page. Begin to stitch the horizontal rows together using a 1/2-inch seam allowance.     
When all the horizontal rows are completed, begin to stitch the rows together by pinning one row to another, hand-basting the row, and then machine stitching over the hand basting.

When stitching is complete, begin to clip all the seam allowances, cutting fringes about 1/8-inch apart. You may also stitch the edges of the quilt 1/2-inch from the edge and fringe the edges, too; or leave the edges uncut and sew on seam-binding to finish the edges (as I did in this quilt).

Once your clipping is done, wash the quilt in cold water on gentle cycle and fluff dry in clothes-dryer on low setting. (This will ravel the cut edges to produce the pretty ragged effect.)

For the quilt layout, see the photo below.
Finished size, approximately 36 X 53 
Appearance of reverse side of quilt:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day 2009

Labyrinth in Howell, Michigan on Inauguration Day

Winter day --
our new president,

Obama inauguration speech 

Pat C. Blythe P. Geri M. and Jackie M. on Inauguration Day!