Thursday, December 3, 2015

Holiday 2015: French braid patchwork

French Braid patchwork technique in "Mistletoe Lane" by Bunny Hill Designs for Moda.

This fall I bought a jelly-roll of "Mistletoe Lane" fabric line by Bunny Hill Designs for Moda. The fabric was a half-price, Daily Deal from Missouri Star Quilt Co. I wanted to try the tricky French Braid patchwork design that Susan showed me how to make when she was here in August.  (The directions linked here from Quilter's Cache are simple and clear.)

I cut each 2.5-inch strip from the jelly-roll in half and alternated dark and light until I had a piece of patchwork about 27-inches wide and a yard long, after trimming. I used about half of the jelly-roll, or 46 2.5 x 22-inch strips of fabric. 

I made a tote front from half of the patchwork, and a standard-size pillow sham from the rest. I machine quilted the sham using my new Sew Steady table made especially for my old Jenome machine, a teflon mat, and top-feed, quilting foot.

Patchwork tote in "Mistletoe Lane" by Bunny Hill Designs for Moda

Patchwork sham in "Mistletoe Lane" by Bunny Hill Designs for Moda

Three-inch, tiny tote made with indigo dyed fabric by Kokka of Japan

I couldn't resist pulling up the tiny totes how-to to make favors for a holiday party. I used indigo-dyed fabric by Kokka imported from Japan for this cutie. The finished tote measures 3-inches square and makes a nice holiday ornament, or gift-card holder, or a great doll tote.

Microwave mitts made with "Garden Project" fabric designed by Tim & Beck for Moda

I also made these handy gifts: insulated mitts to use in the microwave. The how-to make these mitts is at "Microwave bowl mitts".

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Microwave bowl mitts

Microwave mitts made with "Garden Project" fabric designed by Tim & Beck for Moda

I learned how to make these bowl-shaped potholders at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan this September. The potholders are meant to be used with bowls inside the microwave to keep diners from burning their hands on crockery filled with hot liquids. The microwave mitt is made entirely of cotton materials because polyester might melt in the microwave. I think it would also work well to cook a potato in the microwave. If packaged with a covered soup bowl and dry soup-mix, this mitt would make a thoughtful holiday gift.

Please read and print the WARNING at bottom of this post. If used as gifts, include a copy of the warning with each gift.


  • 2 10-inch squares of 100% cotton fabric in coordinating colors (I used "Garden Project" layer-cake precuts by Tim & Beck for Moda.)
  • 2 10-inch squares of Pellon Wrap-n-Zap Tator batting (or other 100% cotton batting)
  • 100% cotton thread
  • You will also need a "walking foot" to assemble your microwave mitt.


Begin by marking both batting squares according to the template, below. Instructions for marking the lines follow after picture.

1. Draw an X through the center of your batting.
2. Mark the center of each side and connect marks to create a diamond shape.
3. Mark a dot 3.5-inches from each center mark toward the center of the batting
4. Mark a dot 3/4-inches to the left and right of the center dot on each side.
5. Connect the side dots to the dot marked near the center of the batting.
6. These V-shapes are the sewing line for the darts that create the bowl shape.

Layer one pre-marked 10-inch batting piece to the wrong side of one 10-inch fabric piece; repeat for the second pair.

Using 100% cotton thread and a walking foot, stitch one piece of fabric and one piece of batting together along the marked lines that create the X and diamond shapes. 

Fold with right sides of one fabric/batting piece together on the center of the dart, matching dart markings. Sew from the point of the dart to the edge of the square -- sewing along the marked line on the batting. Repeat for each of four darts.

Clip center of each dart, cutting 1/4-inch from sewing line.

This is how your work will look after sewing all the darts.

Repeat for second piece of batting and fabric. 

When both pieces are sewn and darted, layer both pieces with right sides together and stitch around all four sides a scant half-inch from the edges of the fabric. 

Leave a four-inch opening on one side of the mitt; reinforce the ends of your stitching by sewing back and forth. Clip corners.

Turn the mitt right side out by pulling the inside through the hole until the entire right side is turned out. Push out corners with blunt utensil.

Stitch opening closed, close to edge of mitt. Topstitch around all four sides of the mitt. (See top photo for topstitch detail.)

Warning from Pellon:
When working with products intended for use in a microwave, certain precautions should be taken.  Use only 100% Cotton batting, thread and fabric.  Wrap-N-Zap® is made of 100% Cotton fibers without any additives. It is not fire retardant or flame proof. For this reason, we suggest cooking in 2 minute intervals for a maximum of 8 minutes. Never leave the microwave unattended.  Do not use in a Convection/Microwave oven. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ann Arbor quilters donate 347 quilts to Safehouse in 2015

GAAQG members stack 89 quilts donated at Nov. 21 meeting from a 2015 total
 of 347 handmade quilts donated to Safehouse Center in Ann Arbor.
Safehouse quilts
When victims of domestic violence arrive at Safehouse Center in Ann Arbor, a handmade quilt covers each bed; and when they depart, their quilt goes with them.

Yesterday at the Nov. 21 meeting of the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild , Safehouse director Barbara Niess-May thanked guild members for the 347 quilts donated to Safehouse in 2015. Niess-May also accepted a check from the guild for $3324 in support of the work at Safehouse.

"I am blown away by the thoughtfulness, love, and compassion that have gone into making these quilts," Niess-May said. "Your quilts are part of something bigger -- it's because of all the things we do along the way that allow people to believe things can be better. You are part of that -- your quilt is the first message we get to send that says 'We care.' I can't thank you enough."

When fiber artist Pat Pauly of Rochester, New York took the stage to deliver her lecture on "Traditional Meets Contemporary" quilting, she first expressed her admiration for the the beauty of the guild's donated quilts. 
Fiber artist Pat Pauly at GAAQG meeting in Towsley Auditorium,
Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor MI Nov. 21, 2015
Fiber artist Pat Pauly
The iconoclastic Pauly delighted the audience with her lighthearted determination to follow her own artistic inclination. She also taught a "Slash and Burn" design class to several GAAQG members at the Morris Lawrence Building of Washtenaw Community College on Friday and is teaching a freezer-paper template class today, November 22, 2015. See more about Pauly's Ann Arbor trip on her blog: Pieces and Resistance. You can also see her work in the Oct/Nov 2015 issue of Quilting Arts magazine. Download the digital edition here:
Pauly's students share works-in-progress from "Slash and Burn" class held at WCC on
Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. GAAQG president Sonja Hagen on the left.
Quilts 2016 Kirtland, OH
Pauly will be the featured artist at "Quilts 2016" at Lake Metroparks Farmpark in Kirtland, Ohio. Pauly will lecture and teach several classes from March 8-12, 2016. The entire event runs February 13- March 23 includes classes by local teachers and a quilt show. Deadline for show entries is Jan. 5, 2016. Registration begins tomorrow, Nov. 23, at 8 a.m. -- registration links at
Kathy Schmidt's beading primer at GAAQG, Nov. 21, 2015
Beading on fabric
Before and after the guild meeting, members offer 15-minute how-to sessions in areas of interest. The November meeting featured GAAQG member Kathy Schmidt sharing basic beading techniques. Schmidt recommends Larkin Van Horn's Beading on Fabric as an excellent primer on the topic. See Schmidt's work on her weblog Quirks, Ltd.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Raw-edged applique of gartenhaus door at Zoar, Ohio

Photo of gartenhaus door, Zoar, Ohio -- Spring 2007 by Linda Theil

In March, the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild- offered a class in how to make raw-edged appliques from a photo or artwork. The process involves using a simple projector -- one brand is called Tracer. These simple machines are used to project a photo or other image onto a wall where a piece of paper is hung. The artist traces the lines of the projected image with a pen or pencil onto the hanging paper. 

This photo shows my original foundation tracing on brown wrapping paper overlaid by a piece of tracing paper that has the design traced upon it. The tracing paper is then cut apart to be used as individual templates for applique pieces cut from fabric.

A double-faced fusable web such as Wonder Under or Steam a Seam II is ironed onto the back of the fabric choice for each template/pattern piece. The pattern piece is then cut out. When all applique pieces are prepared, the paper backing is removed from the double-faced fusible web and the fabric applique piece is fused by ironing onto a foundation fabric.

This image shows an applique piece for the gartenhaus door cut from blue fabric and placed on the foundation fabric in preparation for ironing into place. Once in place, the raw-edged applique is stitched onto a foundation fabric as large as the entire artwork (in this case, the white foundation fabric measuring 45 x 60 inches is visible under the red and blue fabrics). The bricks of the gartenhaus were created using two-inch red, batik fabric strips. They were strip-pieced using the quilt-as-you-go technique onto the non-adhesive side of a fusible batting, then fused in place on the foundation fabric

This image shows additional applique pieces stitched into place on the foundation fabric. Once all the applique pieces are sewn in place, additional stitching and/or quilting may be added as desired. All the applique pieces for this design were cut from cotton batik fabrics.

This image shows the quilt with additional borders before binding.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ben's steampunk desk and shelf

Ben and Angie like the look of the steampunk designs they've seen on Pinterest, so Ben thought he'd try a steampunk design for a new desk for Jake's room. Jake recently got an elevated bed, freeing up space for this new built-in desk, a reading nook, and his piano keyboard.

Ben used a piece of Formica-covered MDF that was originally a corner desk for a printer. He shaped the piece into a desk and a shelf, and hung the built-ins with approximately $50 invested in an assortment of half-inch, black-pipe (iron, gas pipe) lengths and fixtures purchased in the plumbling section of Home Depot. 

The shelf is supported with four braces created from black-pipe fixtures anchored into the wall with molly sleeves. 

Each supporting fixture for the shelf consists of  one floor flange, one street 45 fixture ( (this fixture is a 45-degree angle with a male fitting on one end and female fitting on the other end), one 2-inch nipple, another street 45, and a second floor flange. All fixtures are for half-inch pipe and all pipe lengths are half-inch pipe.

Close up of short brace for small shelf.

In addition to the black pipe bracing, the desk hangs from a 2 x 4 ledger strip screwed into the wall studs. Two large brackets supporting the long arm of the desktop.

Bracket formulation from shelf to wall: a floor flange, a street 45, a two inch length nipple, another street 45, an 8-inch length nipple, and a floor flange.

Close up of desk support brackets.

Ben used a de-greaser to wipe down the pipe brackets and sprayed them with clear coat before installation.

Ben said:
Its my first endeavor into the steam punk, utilitarian look. Its definitely brought some cool ideas and I plan to use it more. When we do the bathroom in the basement, the style is going to be steampunk. It's super strong, and minimalist so you don’t have clutter in the way.
Angie likes the style, too, saying it has a warm look that you don't expect with such utilitarian components.

Street sign on Jake's elevated bunk.

Reading nook under elevated bunk with quilt made for him when he was born by his Aunt Sue. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Waldorf dolls

Waldorf-style doll made by Linda Theil.

In the 1970s the United Methodist Women of Dutilh United Methodist Church in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania sponsored a holiday project to dress baby-dolls for children in need. The UMW provided cute-but-inexpensive, naked, plastic dolls to anyone who wished to dress the dolls. The dressed dolls were returned to the church and distributed to children for the holidays. I participated in the project and got a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from making the baby-dolls look beautiful in clothes I made from commercial patterns.

I have been hoping to replicate that enjoyment by making my grand-daughter a baby-doll, but I wanted a soft doll for her, so I checked out the doll patterns on the Web and discovered the Waldorf-style doll would be exactly what I wanted.

I bought Maricristin Sealey's Making Waldorf Dolls (Hawthorn Press, 2005) and watched many of the myriad Waldorf doll-making videos on YouTube. 

I studied the information, and it looked so daunting, I decided I'd see if I could find a doll-pattern from one of the pattern companies that might make the process a little more accessible to me. I purchased Simplicity pattern #2809 for a 15-inch cloth baby-doll and gave it a try.

Cloth doll made with Simplicity pattern #2809

Making the Simplicity doll wasn't very easy. This doll is supposed to have ears! Putting the head on the body was very challenging. The results weren't spectacular, so I thought I might as well give the Waldorf doll a try.

I didn't want to handicap my efforts by not having the proper tools, so I purchased $50 worth of materials and equipment from Weir Crafts, an online site that specializes in Waldorf doll-making supplies. I bought:

  • a beautiful fine, cotton-knit, doll-skin fabric,
  • wool stuffing that is de rigueur for Waldorf dolls (no fiberfill for these babies!),
  • cotton gauze tubing for making the head,
  • a set of doll-making needles (very handy!)
  • some ball-point needles for my sewing machine
  • and patterns for making the dolls and clothes.

Even though I had the Sealey book that also has patterns in it, I thought the Weir patterns might be useful; I was looking for the key bit of information that would crack the doll code for me.

The key to the Waldorf doll is the method for attaching the head -- which includes stuffing the head and creating a "muff" that will fill the doll torso, before attaching the head and muff to the body. For me, this method worked better than stuffing after the head is attached that was featured in the Simplicity pattern.
Close-up view of Linda Theil's Waldorf doll.

Emerson tucked her new dolls and her old bear in for their nap.

Here's a Kathe Kruse video "How Waldorf Dolls are Made" from Guerilla Fluff that shows the doll-making process. There are other videos available on YouTube that demonstrate how to make a Waldorf doll at home.

Kathe Kruse video, "How Waldorf Dolls are Made"


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

GAAQG quilt day January 17, 2015

The Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild had their first bi-monthly meeting of 2015 on Saturday, January 17.

Before the meeting, I purchased a pretty panel of 12 bird-drawings from the featured vendor, Creative Quilt Kits, of Brighton, Michigan. The panel was designed by Tracy Lizotte for Elizabeth's Studio. 

That vendor, Creative Quilt Kits, is hosting a bus trip to the International Quilt Festival Chicago 2015 at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL on March 26, 2015. The cost is $67.50 and includes the bus fare, admission and program. The bus departs the shop at 10489 Grand River, Brighton, MI 48116 at 6:30 a.m. The reservations deadline is February 24.
Call 810-225-2849 or email for information.

I also picked up a flier for the Spinner's Flock Fleece Fair to be held Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Beach Middle School, 445 Mayer Drive in Chelsea Michigan. The sale will feature Michigan wool, handspun yarn, raw fleeces, roving, exotic fibers, quilt batts, equipment, demos, gifts, rugs, garments and more.

KSW Quilters is hosting a bus trip to New York City June 11, 12, and 13, 2015 at a cost of $225 round trip not including hotel reservations at the Meadowlands River Inn in Secaucus, NJ. For more information email or call Wanda Nash at 734-953-9650.

A guild sponsored presentation on the topic of color provided information on color palette generators at Big Huge Labs and Paletton

Guild members displayed and donated forty-one handmade quilts to Safe House Center in Ann Arbor, where clients of the domestic violence shelter are given a gift quilt upon arrival.

The meeting ended as always with members' inspiring show-and-tell; I was drawn to Marilyn Knepp's baby-carseat quilt with velcro ties. Knepp said she got the idea from a Moda Bake Shop how-to titled "Sophie Car Seat Quilt" by Jennie Pickett. Knepp modified the method of attaching the quilt to a car seat (or stroller) by replacing the string ties on the original pattern with removable hook-and-loop bands on her quilt. Knepp also created a piecing pattern of her own design called "Around the Block" for her quilt. She has made many of these car-seat quilts for friends and family.

GAAQG member Marilyn Knepp's "Around the Block" car seat quilt.
Note removable hook-and-loop ties used to attach quilt to car seat or stroller. 

I was also intrigued by a cute quilt covered with peeps that the presenting guild member called "chubby chicks". I discovered that the "Chubby Chicks" pattern can be downloaded from Black Mountain Needleworks for $10. 

The next GAAQG meeting will be held at 9 a.m. March 21, 2015 at the Morris Lawrence Building on Washtenaw Community College campus at 4800 E. Huron River Drive, Ypsilanti, MI. Visitors are welcome. There is a $10 visitor fee; workshops are open to members and visitors. Get more information at

Friday, January 9, 2015

Zippered, padded pouch

Linda Theil's 8 x 9.5-inch zippered pouch made following "The Zippered Pouch" YouTube video
by Jenny Doan of the  Missouri Star Quilt Co.

I am a fan of the how-to videos posted free on YouTube by Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt Co. They are clear, cheerful, and interesting. Her new "The Zipper Pouch" video caught my eye so I decided to make one. In this post I have included measurements for several different sized pouches and have included my pouch-making experience to add to the information provided in the Missouri Star Quilt Co. video, below.
Watch"The Zipper Pouch" video by Jenny Doan of The Missouri Star Quilt Co.

"The Zipper Pouch" project video includes:
  • information on a basic quilt-as-you-go technique for creating the pouch body,
  • the best way to add bag/tote/purse/pouch zipper by adding tabs to both ends of the zipper before installation
  • and a clear visual on how to sew across the bottom seam of a bag to make a base instead of an envelope design,
  • as well as complete instructions for constructing and finishing your pouch.
I made several pouches, while trying to come up with a size that would hold a mini-tablet and/or Kindle. The first one I made was 8 x 7 inches, but that one turned out to be about a half inch too short for my iPad mini, but was just about right for my Kindle, although a little wide. The second one I made was 8 x 9.5 inches and my mini will fit into it, but it was a little roomy, so I tried again and came up with one one that is 7.5 x 9 inches, and that is a pretty good fit for a tablet-sized computer like an iPad mini. For the last one, I just experimented with a fabric panel I had on hand and it ended up 12 x 13 inches, big enough to hold my large iPad with room to spare.

The directions in this post are for the 8 x 9.5-inch pouch that I made using Christmas fabric scraps I had in my stash:

  • lining, "Santa's Helpers" #528 by Sharon Reynolds from Tenderberry Stitches for Northcott
  • main fabric, "A Very Berry Christmas" by Sentimental Studios for Moda, Pattern #15681
  • coordinating fabric, Pine Fresh by Sandy Gervais for Moda #17772

For an 8 x 9.5-inch pouch, you will need:

  • 10 x 18 inch (or aproximately half a fat quarter) of fabric for your backing
  • 10 x 18 inch piece of iron-on batting
  • 5 x 18 inch piece of featured fabric
  • 2 pieces of 3 x 18 inch cuts of coordinating fabric 
  • 7-inch zipper to contrast or coordinate with fabrics
  • 1.5 inch swivel keeper (available at JoAnn Fabric), or 1/2-inch metal D-ring, optional
  • small jump ring to slip onto zipper pull, or other ornamental zipper pull, optional (see jump ring installed in zipper pull on teacup and roses pouch below.

You will need a zipper foot and a top-feed quilting foot for your sewing machine to complete this project. 

Cut lining fabric 10 x 18 inches

Iron iron-on batting of same size to wrong side of lining

Cut featured fabric piece 5 x 18 inches and place right-side-up in the center of batting on the wrong side of the lining fabric. (Because I did not have a long piece of fabric, this photo shows two pieces butted against each other in the middle of the fabric.)

Cut two pieces of coordinating fabric 18 x 3 inches. Lay one piece right-sides-together along one long edge of the main fabric. Using your top-feed quilting foot, stitch along the 18-inch length through all layers, using one quarter inch seam allowance.

Sew the second 18 x 3 inch coordinating fabric piece to the other long edge of the main fabric in same way. Flip both long sewn pieces of coordinating fabric right side up and press open. Topstitch both seams, as shown below.

Cut in-half through all layers to make two 9 x 10 inch pieces. These are the front and back pieces of your pouch. You will now install the zipper in the top edge of both pieces.

Install zipper
Cut a 2 x 10 inch piece of coordinating fabric. Fold in half along the long edge of the fabric, press the fold, then folding each edge to the center press line and press again. You will use this binding to enclose both ends of the zipper.

Cut the metal stop off the bottom end of the zipper. Put the cut end of the zipper between the folded binding that you made and stitch across the entire bottom of the zipper to cover the end of the zipper. Stitch again to secure. Trim away un-used binding to be even with both sides of the zipper, as shown trimmed in the photo above. Save left-over binding to make a loop for your swivel keeper.

Lay the zipper on the pouch top leaving 1/2-inch for seam on one side. Trim zipper top so that the tape leaves 1/2-inch for seam on the other side of the pouch top. Unzip zipper halfway down the tape. Enclose the top of the zipper tape in your handmade binding in the same way you enclosed the bottom of the tape, being careful not to hit the metal stops at the top of the zipper. Trim the binding, as for the bottom.

Install your zipper foot on your sewing machine. Lay your tabbed zipper face-down on the right side of the fabric, placing the zipper tape along the top edge of the pouch front. Stitch all the way down the zipper, including the tabs.

Flip zipper face-up and topstitch very close to zipper seam.

Lay zipper and attached pouch front face down on top of the pouch back with the free side of the zipper tape even with the top of the pouch back. Using zipper foot, stitch zipper to pouch back in the same way you stitched the zipper to the pouch front. 
Flip zipper up and topstitch close to zipper on the pouch back, in the same way that you topstitched the zipper to the pouch front. Your zipper installation will look similar to the photo above.

For swivel keeper installation, topstitch along both long edges of leftover binding used to make zipper tabs. Loop the stitched binding through the metal d-ring on your purchased swivel keeper.

Place both open ends of the loop even with the outside edge, near the top of the pouch front. I show a long, slanted installation above, but I like a straight, short tape better. The swivel keeper should point away from the raw edge of the pouch top and will lay between the two right sides of the pouch front and back when you stitch them together along the sides and bottom. Stitch the tape to hold the swivel keeper in place. (You may install a small metal d-ring instead of a swivel, if you like.)


With the zipper open, but with both sides of the zipper teeth folded evenly against each other, fold the back of the pouch face-down over the front of the pouch so that the right sides are together and pin evenly along sides and bottom of both front and back pieces. Square up your front and back pieces to fit smoothly together, if necessary. Using your top-feed, quilting foot, sew along sides and bottom using a 3/8-inch seam allowance to enclose your pouch. 

Clip the bottom corners and zig-zag along the edge of the seam allowance. Turn the pouch out through the open zipper. Push out corners and press. This completed pouch is shown at the top of this post.

This 7.5 x 9 inch pouch is made of rose chintz coordinates by Faye Burgos for Marcus Brothers Textiles, Inc. It is big enough to hold a mini iPad, or other small tablet computer. I used a foundation/lining piece of fabric 16 x 9.5 inches. The featured fabric was 5 x 16 inches and the coordinating fabric pieces were each 3 x 16 inches. 

I initially miscalculated the size of the coordinating fabrics for this pouch and had to add a piece of the lining fabric to make up the necessary height, as you can see in the photo above. But if you use 3-inch wide coordinating fabrics, you will not need extra coverage.

On the other hand, if you wish, you can use as many fabrics as you like in a quilt-as-you-go method to cover your foundation/lining, and be as creative as you like. I followed this more free-wheeling method when I made the 12 x 13 inch pouch that is big enough to hold a standard iPad with fabric from the "Hot Cider" apron panel and coordinating fabrics by Nancy Mink for Wilmington Fabrics.

This pretty pouch was made using a print from the "Sweet Shoppe" line from Studio E Fabrics. I bought the butterfly zipper pull on the button wall at JoAnn Fabrics.

Update May 25, 2015:

I made this 8 x 15-inch pouch by mistake, trying to find a fit for an 11-inch MacBook Air.

Here is the pouch that I made to fit the MacBook Air. The feature fabric is a panel of birdhouses -- Patt #4319 by Tracy Lizotte for Elizabeth's Studio. The coordinating fabrics are batiks. The zipper pull is Darice Mix and Mingle key chain with bead pin, purchased at JoAnne Fabric.

Darice Mix and Mingle key chain with bead pin

The (11-inch)MacBook Air measures 12 x 7.5 x .5. The pouch I made measures 10 x 15- inches, but I should have cut off two-inches from the total length, to fit the (11-inch) MacBook Air more precisely.

Here are the materials measurements for the 10 x 15-inch pouch:

9-inch zipper (cut stop end off so that zipper measures exactly 9-inches)
16 x 22 inch lining fabric
15 x 21 inch iron-on batting
6 x 22 feature fabric
(2) 2 x 22 inch border fabric
(2) 4 x 22 inch coordinating fabric

Note: to make the pouch fit an (11-inch) MacBook Air, cut lining fabric 14 x 22 inches and cut coordinating fabric 3 x 22 inches. Cut iron-on batting 13 x 21 inches.