Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I love my "Crosswalk" pillow-top in batik

I love this Missouri Star Quilt Co. Quilt Snips Mini Tutorial of the "Crosswalk" block

I made a sample out of leftover strips from a "Sumatra Batiks" jellyroll (2.5-inch strips) by Blank Quilting, and a piece of buttery gold sheeting. 

I liked the block so much I added a few borders to make a 21-inch square and made a pillow top out of my sample block:

  • I hand quilted the block with batting and a lightweight backing.
  • I pressed some iron-on batting to a 21-inch square of leftover sheeting for the back of the pillow cover.
  • Using a cording foot, I covered 2/5 yards of 1/4-inch cording with left-over strips of the batik prints,
  • and, using a zipper foot stitched the cording to the quilted pillow top.
  • With right-sides-together, I sewed the quilt top and the pillow back together around all edges, leaving a 12-inch opening on one side to turn the pillow cover. 
  • I turned the pillow cover, inserted a 20-inch pillow form purchased from Jo-Ann Fabric and stitched the opening shut.

Pillow top made by Linda Theil using Missouri Star Quilt Co. "Crosswalk" Quilt Snips Mini Tutorial -- Dec. 2016

A longer form of the "Crosswalk" tutorial is available at "The Crosswalk Quilt" by Missouri Star Quilt Co.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tissue cover reprise

For a quick holiday project, make these cute facial tissue covers that everyone on your gift list will love!

Whip them up in a jiffy using my directions for "Easy Facial Tissue Cover" on Appleton Dance

You need only two, six-by-eight-inch contrasting scraps for each cover. The red, Scottie dog print I used, above, is from the "Storybook Christmas" line by Whistler Studios for Windham Fabrics.

Fill the covers with pre-packaged facial tissues such as the Kleenex brand "go packs" pictured here.

These also make a great, easy project for beginner sewists.

More tissue covers!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We Cut the Tree holiday story available from Blurb

We Cut the Tree by Linda Theil available from Blurb

I wrote We Cut the Tree in 1984, the year our family moved to Howell, Michigan from our native home in southwestern Pennsylvania. The story is told from our eldest son's point of view, and chronicles the annual live-tree capture from our family's earliest Christmas holidays. The story was first published as our holiday greeting card that year.

I published the story, again, on this weblog as a Christmas greeting in 2010.

Two years ago, I began to create photographs to illustrate a small hardcover edition of We Cut the Tree that may be ordered from the print-on-demand publisher, Blurb.

I used Tinrocket's Waterlogue application to create a dream-like appearance to the illustrations and used Blurb's online software to lay out the 20-page, picture book.

The book is dedicated to our late husband and father, Stephen A. Theil, Jr. The cover features an image of a tiny drum that decorated holiday trees of his childhood.

Hardcover and softcover editions are available as print-on-demand from Blurb. A free ebook is also available; order a free ebook of We Cut the Tree by clicking on this hotlink: We Cut the Tree free, ebook edition.

You may preview We Cut the Tree by clicking on the cover icon here:

Order a free ebook of We Cut the Tree.
Free ebook,
Other editions,
AppletonDance publication 2010,

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Install LED lights on your sewing machine

I gave a workshop on how to install LED lights on a sewing machine at the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild Quilt Day on November 19, 2016. Here is the information I shared:

Sewing machine with retrofitted LED lighting strip. Photo courtesy of Inspired LED.
You may purchase a light kit that will allow you to outfit your sewing machine with a strip of bright LED (light-emitting diode) lighting. Kits are available online and at some quilt stores. We have purchased our Inspired-brand kits on Amazon at a cost of aproximately $30 per kit. Other brands such as Bonlux, that we also tried and liked very much, are also available from Amazon. 

The kits we purchased are designed for use on all sewing machines; they are complete lighting sources that can be used in any situation that requires illumination.
The kit includes:
  • a strip of LED lights backed with adhesive that may be trimmed to any size needed,
  • a plug and converter that is used as the source of power for the lights,
  • an adhesive-backed switch that is used to turn the lights on and off, and
  • two adhesive-backed clips to hold the wires in place on your sewing machine. Note: the Bonlux kit does not contain wire clips, but you can use Command brand cord clips to control wiring.
LED retrofit lighting kit. Photo courtesy Inspired LED.
All the materials are easy to use and assemble with plug-in connectors as shown in the photo.

If you choose the Inspired LED brand, you may also purchase an extra switch-and-converter kit to use with the excess length of lighting provided. This expansion kit may be used to install the excess strip of lighting on a second machine.

The web-site for the Inspired brand of LED sewing-machine, lighting kit has an excellent video demonstrating the exact method for installing the LED lighting on your machine. See video link below.

The process is as follows:
  • Measure the length of lighting needed to apply to the underside of the arm of your machine; cut to length, remove paper backing from adhesive strip and install on the machine arm.
  • Remove the paper backing from the adhesive strip on the switch and apply to a convenient place on your machine. (I installed mine next to the machine on-off switch.)
  • Plug the light strip into one of the receptacles on the switch. (For the Inspired LED brand kit, the receptacles are on the bottom of the switch.)
  • Plug the converter into the second receptacle on the switch.
  • Plug the converter and wall plug into the wall receptacle.
  • Flip the LED light switch to turn on your LED lighting.
The only tricky part is cutting the light strip in the proper spot across the copper connectors -- a process that is clearly shown on the instructions that come with the kit, and in the on-line video instructions.

More information is available on the Inspired LED website
Also, more photos and first-hand information is available in blogger Abby Glassenberg's excellent post, "Enhance your Lighting with a Sewing Machine LED Light Kit" on her While She Naps weblog.

UPDATE: Feb. 7, 2019

So, I just ordered this EverSewn rechargeable LED light from Missouri Star Quilt Co. for a sale price of $14. Haven't tried it yet. I got a new machine and wanted to get a new light and when I saw this rechargeable light on sale, I thought I'd give it a try. It's also available on Amazon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Unlined, fold-up, shopping tote

Alisa's market tote, folded up and ready to go shopping.

Alisa downloaded Purl Soho's "Fold-up Market Tote" pattern from their website, and ordered the "Fold-up Market Tote Bundle" of three pieces of linen to make three totes as holiday gifts.

The pattern makes a large, lightweight, unlined tote with self handles that can be rolled up and tied with an attached ribbon and stored in a small space. We made all three linen totes, and Alisa liked them so much she wanted one for herself, so we grabbed a yard of fabric from her stash and got to work. We have documented our process below with slight modifications to the Purl Soho pattern

Completed market tote in cotton "Comma" for Zen Chic.

The finished bag is roughly 18x18-inches in capacity.You will need a yard of 45-inch-wide fabric for each tote. For her tote, Alisa chose Moda's "Comma" by Brigitte Heitland for Zen Chic (Made in Japan, 100% cotton, pattern #1513). 

Cut the selvedge edge from the fabric and use a yard of this selvedge for the tote ties, or use a yard of 1/4-inch-wide grosgrain ribbon, if you prefer.

Fabric layout

Cut two 20 x 33 -inch pieces of fabric from one-yard length of cotton, linen, or other strong, lightweight fabric. I used cotton for this tote.

Stack and fold fabric pieces in half longways to make 10 x 33 -inch rectangle. 

Measure five-inches from fold along one short edge of fabric, and mark with fabric marker.

Measure 17-inches down long, unfolded edge and mark with fabric marker.

Draw a diagonal line connecting the two marks and cut along the line. This diagonal edge will be hemmed to form the self-handles of the tote, and will be seamed only at the top to complete the handles.

This photo shows the tote fabric with diagonal cut for self-handles. The fold is at the bottom of the shot.

Seam tote together

Take your two fabric pieces and put them together with the right-sides-facing. Pin together along one edge below the diagonal cut. Seam is about 16-inches long.

Stitch a 3/4-inch seam from the bottom of the bag to the point where the diagonal cut begins.

Press the seam open.

Fold one side of seam allowance under to create hemmed seam-allowance edge.

Fold the other side of the seam allowance under. Press.

Fold the raw edge of one diagonal cut 1/4-inch toward wrong side of fabric and press. Fold over another 1/4-inch to form hem and press. Repeat for second diagonal cut.

This photo shows the double-folded and pressed diagonal cut on one side of the first tote seam. The other diagonal cut (on the right) is shown before it has been folded.

This photo shows the diagonal cut with both sides folded and pressed for hemming.

Stitch the diagonal hems and folded seam allowances in place with regular or decorative stitching. I used a triple, top-stitch for the Moda cotton bag. (I used a blanket stitch for the linen bags.) Press. 

Follow the same process for the other side of the tote: with right-sides-together pin, stitch seam, fold seam allowances, press, and topstitch the second seam and diagonal hems. Press. 

French seam bottom of the tote:

Turn the tote right-side-out. Line up both topstitched seams in the center of the tote and press flat.

This photo shows the tote with the seams lined up in the center and the handles forming a V-shape above the seam. To prepare for the French seaming process, even-up the bottom, raw edges of the tote if they need to be straightened. This process will enclose the seam inside itself, providing a finished edge inside your tote.

This is a close-up photo of the tote bottom -- with seams lined up in the center of the tote -- shown before the bottom edge was trimmed to be even and straight.

With wrong-sides-together, stitch across the bottom of the tote using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. 

Turn inside-out, and press. 

This is the wrong side of the tote showing the bottom, after the first seam has been sewn.

With right-sides-together, as shown above, stitch the bottom seam, again, this time with a 1/2-inch seam. This is the French seam that encloses the raw edges of the fabric inside the seam allowance.

This photo shows the second seam completed at the bottom of the bag. Turn the bag right-side-out and press.

French seam tote handles

With right-side-out, wrong-sides-together, stitch the tops of the handles together using 1/4-inch seam allowance as shown below.

Press, and turn right-sides-together as shown below.

Fold 1 yard selvedge tape, or ribbon, in half; and insert the folded edge on the right side of the fabric, inside the seam allowance, two-inches from the end of the seam -- shown below.

Fold the top layer of the handle flat over the selvedge tape, and stitch the handle seam again -- this time with right-sides-together and selvedge tape enclosed -- using a 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Turn right-side-out, shown above. Press encased French seam to one side and top-stitch in place about 1/4-inch from seamline, shown below.

Knot ends of selvedge ribbon. Fold finished tote in half and roll up from the bottom as shown below.

Tie rolled tote closed with a bow using the attached selvedge tape.

See folded and tied tote at the top of this post.



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.