Fresh Wind

Everyone is happy around here with all the playing outside, and puddle jumping.  This new air filling our lungs is just what every one of us needed!

And I’m excited that my canning rings will soon go on cans again, instead of working as superhero-armor.  Well, I do like superhero-armor too.

Knut gave the boys a spring sheering, and Solveig was fascinated and wanted to watch.  She begged me not to use the clippers on her hair.  I promised her she could, of course, keep her pigtails.

Before my big kitchen project that we are starting tomorrow, I felt like pulling out some work on quilt blocks from a few years ago.  I’ve had this itch to sew that hasn’t gone away, and this was a simple way to scratch that itch that has been festering.  I started this “hidden spools” quilt about 2 years ago during a quilting retreat, and haven’t touched it since.  I actually started 2 quilts that weekend, one with 2 inch strips, and an irish chain quilt that works with the scraps 2 inch squares from the Hidden Spools quilt’s cast offs.

Anyway, I’ve always wanted to make a really scrappy quilt, and I’m loving how this one is turning out. I’ve calculated I need 90 of these blocks.  I had 17 done, and I got 4 more done the other night.  Now I’ll put it away for another time, when I’m itching to sew some more.  My next project is painting the kitchen cabinets, and then planting this year’s garden.

Silje was watching me make the blocks, and asked to go through my sewing books while we hung out. She found this pattern in the book “Growing Up Sew Liberated” and wanted one so bad.  Though, she wanted to make it.  She’s been bitten by the sewing bug too, but her machine, “Lady Katherine of Kenmore” from the garage sale has been tough to use.  My “Sassy Pfaffy” is much easier, and I could see Silje’s eyes get big to see her work, and it didn’t take her long to ask if she could use my machine sometime.

I had her go through my stash and pick out some fabrics for her messenger bag.  She’s sewn a few projects now, but nothing from a pattern.  She’s just played around with some of my fabric and made a few throw pillows for her bed.  I think it’s about time the two of us work on a project from start to finish, so that she could see how to read a pattern, and finish an item.

I think we’ll just have to fit that in sometime this season.  After the kitchen project, and maybe on a rainy day when we can’t be in the garden.  Because you know, you can always find a little time for sewing.

Treasure Hunting

Before I moved to the farm, garage sale-ing was one of my favorite hobbies. There’s nothing I like better than finding a treasure for just pennies. However, since we moved out here, the little town near us has the worst garage sales pretty consistently. I’ve gone to a few, and have bought even less. I’ve been so consistently disappointed that I often drive right past.

You see, when you live in a big city, you can go to a sale, and pick up brand name children’s clothing for less than a dollar. In our small town, you’ll find a pair of generic pajamas that are pilled, stained, and probably have been worn by 5 kids already, with a price tag of $3. At that price, I’d rather clearance shop and buy new! People here actually think their junk is worth something.

Anyway, to my point. Today I went to our cute little downtown because when I was in the yarn store earlier this week, they told me some skeins I’ve had my eye on for a few months (but out of my price range) were going to be 40% off this weekend. I thought it was worth a trip to town, and headed in this morning, which was the first day of the sale.

I got my yarn, and showed surprising restraint in fact, as to the number of skeins bought. Then the kids and I walked up and down the street which was closed off for a bit of a street fair with booths and such. It was pretty sparse, but it looked like some fun.

My small finds were fun. I got a ton of Christmas ornaments which we traditionally put in the kids’ stockings. They were all so pretty and only .50-1.00. Then I picked up some ceramic platters that perfectly matches my china set, although it had a fun silver snowflake embellishment on them. $2.00 a platter, so of course I had to get both!

Then…my treasure. The booth was in front of an insurance company building, so I’m not sure which company was selling the booth, or if it was just someone having an unconventional garage sale. She had some pretty things, and I got talking with the lady at the booth, and commented on the antique quilt top that she had under her cash box…serving as a tablecloth. I drooled over the 1930s fabrics (certainly not reproductions!) and the little blemishes here and there than had the mark of a homemade quilt.

She thanked me for the compliment, and although it wasn’t on the sale table, I couldn’t help but ask if it was for sale too. She said sure, I could have it for $10. Well I only had $6 left in my purse, but I was able to gather together enough change from the bottom of my purse to come up with the rest. So with my purse significantly lighter, and an amazing quilt top just waiting to be quilted in a bag, the kids and I walked off with my biggest treasure of the day.

She said she bought it at an estate sale in Elizabeth, MN 20 years ago. The sale was the estate of a woman named Elizabeth as well who was over 100 when she died. Elizabeth, I would assume, had made the quilt top, but had never quilted it into a blanket. The woman I bought it from had hemmed the edges and made it into a tablecloth. I haven’t measured it, but I would imagine it’s about a twin size. If I ever get to it, I’d love to hand quilt it myself, although Elizabeth had used her machine to piece it, and I don’t think would mind if I quilted it with Lady Katherine…the only machine I have that I would touch this quilt with. I’ll have to think on that.

Maybe only other fabric junkies like me could rejoice in a find like this. I’m just walking on air over this find. The quilt pattern seems to me to be a variation of irish chain, which is one of my favorites! It’s a scrap quilt made in the way that scrap quilts were first intended. Not all matchy-matchy but with the fabrics that were a part of her life. I’m just so in love!

Quilt Pati Tutorial

I have been promising a peak at my grandmother’s flower garden quilt that I’ve been working on for Silje. Today you will get more than you bargained for. I’m contributing a tutorial for on good uses for scraps.

My quilt is mostly in pinks with touches of green, purple, and browns. Favor is given to fabrics with roses in them. I’m trying to stay in the “shabby chic” look.

When you spend this much time on an heirloom quilt, it’s important to put some heirloom elements in it. For instance, the bunny fabric here is leftover scraps from my baby blanket that “well loved” to the point where I didn’t feel bad cutting into it.

The brown here is scraps from a flower girl dress I made for Silje.

The outer ring on this one was generously given to me from Silje’s great-grandmother who is an avid quilter, and let me go through her scraps to find something for Silje’s quilt.

And lastly, this green is scrap from the bedding I made for Silje’s cradle.

But there are so many more to choose from. This will truly be a good “scrappy” quilt!

I’m using quilt patis to make this quilt, and at the risk of sounding like a commercial, I’ll show you how to use them. I couldn’t find a good tutorial on these. I wanted to make this quilt the traditional hand sewn way, but I was into sewing…not cutting a bazillion pieces of paper or cardboard. I happened to see these on a quilting t.v. show, and found them on eBay for cheap.

There’s about 50 of these in a bag. They’re plastic, and my size is the 1″ size. I do have the 1.5″ size too, because they came with the package I got, but I decided to use these for tedious sake.

They’re very thin.

They’re very flexible, so that you can take them out easily once you’re done sewing.

So I cut my fabric to give a 1/4 inch seam allowance around the quilt pati. You need one for the center, 6 for the inner ring and 12 for the outer ring. (edit: I have learned since, thanks to my husband’s sweet cousins, that you can cut a square too, which can be a time saver, and just wrap the edges around the quilt pati.)

Pin the quilt pati to your cut fabric, and secure in the middle with a pin.

Fold a corner down tightly, and hold with your fingers.

You want to make a stitch where the needle hits both cheeks, but not coming out the fold. You are not sewing the plastic template, just the fold sitting on top of it.

Do the same stitch you just did in the same spot to create a loop. This will secure it.

Then move onto the next fold.

Loop it around again before moving on to the next corner.

Finish all corners, and knot up when you get back to the beginning. You can now remove the pin.

Once you have at least 2, you can sew them together. Although, when I’m doing this not for the tutorial, I usually get all 19 of the patis ready for 1 flower, and then sew them together in a more continuous fashion, so I don’t have to stop and make knots so often.

With right sides together, line them up and sew. I’m not sure what this stitch is called. Perhaps the whip stitch, or mattress stitch, or as I like to call it “putting it together anyway you know how” stitch. You should be sewing together just the fabric, not the plastic pati. It’s really hard to sew through the plastic, so you won’t do it by accident.

Voila! The purpose of all of this is to make sure all the sides are even and no pieces in the quilt are crooked. I have done some of the flowers in this quilt without the patis, but I have to iron every single seam then, and I can avoid the ironing with this method. You can ask Knut. I will do just about anything to avoid ironing. To me, sewing them on the patis is not tedious. Ironing 42 seams per flower is.

Once all sides of the hexagon have something attached to them, just pop the quilt pati out. All the quilt patis will be removed when the quilt is together. Of course this quilt will be hand quilted once the top is done. I’m crossing my fingers for a quilting frame for Christmas.

Repeat. I’m aiming for a full sized quilt, for those wondering.

What I love about this project is it’s so portable. I can sew these on a road trip, or while watching a movie, or while sitting in my boys room making them…um…I mean waiting for them to fall asleep. Although I do intend to piece together some quilts on the machine, those quilts aren’t portable, so you need to set aside a chunk of time to work on them. Most of what I have gotten done has been the result of keeping my hands busy while I wait, or sit and chat with a friend, and adds no more time to my day.

On a side note, surprisingly, many Sears stores have a decent little sewing supplies section. Check it out and possibly save with this Sears coupon.

So go ahead and try it. I dare you not to get addicted.

My Internet Inspiration

This is a little project I started last night. You might be able to guess who it is for, and I’ll give you a hint– it’s not for Knut.

But it got me thinking that I should share where I get all these patterns and inspiration. The internet is a bottomless well of information, but I find myself just going over the same sites over and over again. I don’t venture out much, unless someone recommends a site to me. So here are my favorites:

That is a knit and crochet site. But not just any site. It’s a community, and a wealth of information as far as how to, pattern reviews, yarn reviews, etc. I like to look at the new patterns that come out daily. When different publishers or pattern makers come out with a new pattern, they often post it on here first. I’d say you can see as many as 20 new patterns a day. Several (and I mean thousands if not tens of thousands) of the patterns are free. I haven’t gotten into the community part of it that much yet, although I’ve been “friended” by a few people. You do need to register, and I don’t know if it’s like this anymore, but when I tried to register, I was put on a waiting list for a few weeks before I was granted access. It doesn’t cost anything to register, and you don’t get junk mail. But be warned…hours can be wasted drooling over things here.


This is a sewing site that is not only a fun place to shop, but I absolutely love their blog. They do different “events” and this month they are going over hand sewing. They have displayed different types of embroidery from chicken-scratch (I learned what that was!) to children’s projects. You absolutely must stop by their blog in November when they have their handmade holiday event. You can find ideas for gorgeous handmade Christmas presents. They have a new “theme” each day like “gifts for teachers” or “gifts for guys” or “gifts for crafters.” If you want to see more modern and vintage ideas for crafting, this site is on the cutting edge of what is “hip” with crafting these days.


This is by far my favorite quilt site. She’s not “hip” like the sewmamasew site. She doesn’t use matchy matchy or trendy fabrics. She’s a huge scrap quilter. She has quite the following too, I imagine, and has written a few books. The most recent one is making quilts out of old work shirts. I like her (her name is Bonnie) for 2 reasons. First, she has so much how-to information on her site that you’ll find everything you need from equations for buying the right amount of fabric for whatever size quilt you want to organizing your stash of little scrap pieces, to about 30 or so detailed instructions as to how to piece quilt tops.

The second reason I like this site is because she’s not elite like many other sites that highly recommend $9 a yard 100% cotton fabric that is made for quilting, and you have to do things just a certain way. She encourages using what you have on hand, and brings me back to the feeling of quilts where you can mix old wool dress pants and a part polyester part cotton shirt into a quilt together. It’s the idea that quilts are meant to be useful, beautiful, and cheap.

My last recommendation is for searching sites on the internet for projects you want. I’ve found so many free patterns by typing in what I want with the word “tutorial” into google. “Nursing cover tutorial” or “diaper tutorial” or “baby shoe tutorial.” You’d be amazed by the number of people ready to share how they did things.

Lastly, I’ll let you in on my list of crafting blogs that I happen on from time to time. They are not as big as the sites above, but some of their things inspire me to be more creative, more detailed, and make the little things count.

I know there are more, but I can’t find them now. I usually refer back to the sewmamsew site to look them up.

Now it’s your turn! Leave your favorite sites in the comments section for me and others who haunt this blog. It’s fun to share!