Sunday, December 7, 2008

When Is a Sweater Not a Sweater?

Imagine my delight to find this lovely Christmas sweater, complete with felted poinsettia, on a sale rack for only $15—

and then my horror to find a cut in the lower back. The sweater was too pretty to leave behind so I bought it anyway. Then, what to do with it?

I thought I could fuse a piece of interfacing under the slit and wear it anyway—but the sweater proved a bit too small so into a box it went.

This year, I unearthed the sweater in my search for some other set-aside project and decided to do something with it or send it off to Goodwill. I'm in a "use it or be done with it" mode. A Christmas pillow for my couch was the wonderful result.
Here's how I did it--you can use this general procedure to rescue a sweater with a stain, mothhole, etc., or one you find on sale that doesn't fit or one that you discover in a thrift store.

Step 1: Steam press the sweater to remove wrinkles, then button it up, make sure the lower edges are even, and then use rotary tools to cut it apart just under the armholes.

Step 2: Remove the top button to get it out of the way of the seam placement at the cut edge. Whipstitch the buttonhole lips together.

Step 3: Cut out the lovely flower to reapply to the pillow. I trimmed as much of the underlying sweater away under the felted petals.

Step 4: Unbutton the sweater and apply lightweight knit fusible interfacing to the underside where the flower will be restitched—for added support and easier machine stitching.

Step 5. Apply small strips of fusible web to the underside of the flower center and petals. (Flower in position on sweater with white press cloth shown in photo.)

Remove the protective paper on the fusible web and position the flower on the pillow front, keeping it out of the way of where the upper raw edges will be seamed together (1/4"-wide seam). Cover with a press cloth and fuse in place.
For added durability, stitch in place after fusing. I machine-stitched along the existing embroidered details wherever possible and close to raw edges when there was no embroidery.
Step 6: Salvage a piece of the sweater from the cutaway to "mend" the hole with fusible web. Apply the web to each side of the slit on the wrong side with the iron and them remove the protective paper to expose the web.
Step 7. Force the cut edges together and cover with the sweater scrap. Fuse in place. Trim the edges and round the corners of the patch--it doesn't have to be "pretty" since it won't show. This will be the back of the pillow, so even if the "mend" is not perfect on the right side, it won't matter that much. I did a zigzag stitch over the edges from the right side after fusing the patch in place on the wrong side.

Step 8: Button the buttons, pin the front edge in place, and slipstitch in place.

Step 9. With right sides facing, stitch the upper raw edges together where you cut the "pillow" section away from the upper part of the sweater. Stitch again, close to the first stitching. Trim excess, leaving a 1/4"-wide seam allowance. Turn right side out and steam press as needed.

Step 10. Pin and edgestitch the lower rib knit edges together, leaving a long opening for inserting a pillow form.

Step 11. Measure the finished pillow cover and make a pillow form that is an inch larger all around so the pillow will really fill out the cover. Use muslin or other fabric leftovers to make the cover and fill with polyester fiberfill to the desired firmness. See Tip below. Remember that the sweater has "give" so it will snug up over a firm pillow. Tuck the pillow form inside and hand or machine-stitch the opening closed (you may need to use your zipper foot for this).

Tip: Make the pillow form larger than than the outside measurements of the sweater cover—at least an inch. It will fill out the cover better.

This was an easy project but did take a bit longer than I anticipated—but then that's usually the way it works out!

Rather than a sweater lying unworn at the bottom of a project box, now I have a lovely pillow to grace my couch for the holidays! Plus, I have sweater leftovers to use for trim on other projects—or cute little mitten ornaments for my Christmas tree!

Speaking of Christmas Trees
Here's mine--and just in case I don't find time to do another blog this month, Merry Christmas to all of you!
Until next time, keep sewing and smiling!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Three New Patterns—They're Ready!

Where did the month of October go? I wasn't blogging because I was busy proofreading my newest book—see below—and finalizing the three new patterns in my pattern line (Jo-Lydia's Attic at so they'd be ready for Quilt Market. Working on the directions, reviewing the illustrations, and taking photos for the cover sheets took lots of time, but I'm pleased with the results and hope you will like them as much as I do. (We also celebrated our second anniversary and our birthdays--October is a busy and happy month for Stan and me.)

Without further ado, here are the new patterns with descriptions and price. As a special offer to my blog readers, you can order any of these for $1.00 off the retail price listed for each one, plus FREE shipping and handling. Send a personal check or money order (US funds only) to the address provided below and I'll send them right out!

Make checks to: Barbara W. Talbert
Send to: 10410 NE 33rd Ave., Vancouver, WA 98686

The Quilted Traveler's Tote

The perfect carry-on or tote for class supplies

Quilt your own fabric—complete directions included for quilting each tote section before assembly; or use already quilted fabric

Zipped security pockets inside and out

Zip-top panel drops down inside when you just want an open-top tote

Retail: $12.00 (special to readers, $11.00 plus free shipping and handling--see ordering info above)

Sew 'N' Go Sewer's Wallet

Neck wallet with multiple pockets on both sides for travel docs

and/or sewing tools

Great for travel or for sewing classes

Retail: $8.00 (special to readers, $7.00, plus free shipping and handling; see ordering info above)

The Magic Tuck Market Tote

Stitch-and-flip, stand-up, fold flat tote; packs flat to take along in your suitcase

Completely lined inside finish

Zipped inside pocket, plus cell phone pocket and one pocket on outside

Easy stitch-and-flip construction

Jelly-roll friendly (2½" pre-cut strips)

Quick and easy to make in multiples for grocery totes—what a great gift!

Retail: $12.00 ($11.00 to readers, plus free shipping and handling (see ordering info above)

The Quilting Answer Book--It's coming in the spring!
The last week of October found me winging my way to Hartford, CT, to join my husband on a business trip—first his, then mine. After his meetings in Waterbury, we drove north to North Adams, MA, to visit Storey Publishing. They are publishing my new book, The Quilting Answer Book, in April, 2009. I've seen the first page proofs of this 436-page handbook and am so pleased with the results.

While at Storey, I met with the Editorial Director, sales staff, and the publicity department. Exciting news—the book will be the featured selection in an upcoming book club catalog! I reviewed the cover idea and can't wait to see it in its final form! Stay tuned for more information on the release date for this nifty handbook that is jam-packed with quilting how-tos, but small enough to tuck in your handbag or your sewing tote! I'll post the final cover design as soon a I have it so you'll know what to watch for in your local quilt shop.

Now I'm busy at work on the manuscript for a companion volume--The Sewing Answer Book!

After a lovely lunch with the folks from Storey,, Stan and I headed north to Vermont and then east across the Hogback Mountains into New Hampshire and then on to Portland, ME, where I once lived. Stan knocked off four New England states he hadn't yet seen in just one day. It was a bright, sunny late fall day and there was plenty of "color" along the way—not as bright as it would have been if we had been a week earlier, but beautiful just the same—as evidenced by these photos. I love these fall color combos, don't you?

It was great to see my dear friends there (Beth and David, Gene and Anita, and Sue and Dana) and introduce Stan to all of them since they were not able to come for our wedding two years ago. We both caught colds, which put a damper on sightseeing, but we did take a little drive out to Portland Headlight (see photos) in Cape Elizabeth—one of my favorite places when I lived in Portland during the 70s and 80s.

That's it for now! Until next time,

Keep sewing and smiling!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

When is a Walnut Not a Walnut?

When it's a thimble holder! There are two walnuts in my collection of vintage sewing tools. I found the first one in an antique shop in Flemington, New Jersey, years ago. It is a thoroughly Victorian notion—to make a little red silk drawstring pouch, drill holes in a perfect walnut shell, connect the pieces with a little silk cord, and then tuck a thimble inside! It's such a dear little thing! I have a vague notion that I saw this same little thimble holder described in a Victorian publication, sometime after I purchased it.

The second walnut is brass--hinged and designed with loops to wear on a chain—I'm guessing. It's felt-lined with a loop for the thimble and a leaf for pins and needles. I have no idea how old it is but I’m sure it dates well after the "real" one.

A Sneak Peek
I've been busy this week, trying to take good photos for two of my three new patterns to be introduced in time for International Quilt Market in Houston this Fall (how can it be already?). Since I'm not a professional photographer, I've had to experiment with my Sony point and shoot. I'm pretty happy with the results. Outdoor lighting on my porch did the trick to get rid of unwanted shadows. Plus, my pattern illustrator, Missy Shepler, gave me some great pointers. If you need illustration and design help, she is a treasure ( She did all the illustrations for my book, The Quilting Answer Book, to be published in the spring by Storey Publishing. And, I'm hoping she'll be on board for the next one—the one I'm working on now—The Sewing Answer Book.

Anyway, back to my patterns. Here they are—The Quilted Traveler's Tote and The Magic Tuck Market Tote.

The Quilted Traveler's Tote is a roomy bag with a zip top that drops down inside when the tote isn't too full, but expands above the tote when you fill it with goodies from your travels. It fits in the overhead, has an inside zipped pocket, plus divided pockets on the outside. The pattern includes directions for quilting your own tote fabric because already-quilted, double-sided fabric selection is usually quite limited. You cut the pieces for the tote first and then do the machine quilting to make it easy to handle the work at the machine.

The Magic Tuck Market Tote looks a lot like a regular flat-bottom tote, but the tuck that creates the bag bottom allows you to fold the bag flat for packing in your suitcase. It's also perfect for groceries—make up a bunch of these to keep stacked in your car for your market trips--no more plastic or paper bags to clutter the environment!

Missy did the illustration for my third pattern, The Sew 'N' Go Sewer's Wallet. The two-sided wallet has a neck strap and pockets on both sides to hold travel documents, eyeglasses, and small sewing tools. A vinyl pocket on Side one side holds your ID or your name badge when attending sewing and quilting classes. On Side Two, you can tuck your boarding pass, passport, driver's license, business cards, or a credit card. Or, you can fill those same pockets with your sewing tools so you can do handwork on the plane or in your rocking chair.

Watch for these new patterns to appear on my website ( soon. You can order them there or ask for them in your favorite shops in early November. All of them would make great gifts!

A Favorite New Book
I haven't bought many new sewing books lately, but I just couldn't leave Sew Pretty Homestyle by Tone Finnanger in the store! It is chock-a-block full of sweet sewing projects in all of my favorite pastel colors. It has a bit of a Victorian feel with a "cottage modern" look too. I may never make any of the projects, but they are great inspiration and just fun to look at. Sweet little angels, embroidered hearts, and sweet quilts are included. It was published by David & Charles—you can find it at if it's not available at your local fabric or book store. The author has also done two Christmas project books with projects in her signature style.
Garden Party
Each year my friend, Linda Wisner, hosts several informal get-togethers in her glorious garden on Sauvie Island, an idyllic spot about 12 miles from downtown Portland, OR. She invites friends to drop by in the late afternoon to share her garden bounty as well as delicious treats from her kitchen--she's a fabulous cook. We were finally able to partake in her hospitality this year and Sunday proved to be a glorious sunny fall day--perfect for the event! Linda served up homemade Pizza Rustica, making a new one with different toppings, as each one disappeared from the table.
I wandered through Linda's garden before we left and took a few photos. I love examining these for color combinations--nature is such a good teacher. Really looking at how colors work in nature gives us lots of clues for wardrobe colors and quilt fabric combinations--if only we take the time to really look!

Enjoy these crisp days of Fall. They will be gone before we know it.

Until next time,

Keep sewing and smiling!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Miscellaneous Musings

Something from my Sewing Room
Here are two more little tape measures from my vintage sewing tools collection. The one on the right is much older--made of bone (the white spindle) and kokui (sp.?) nut, I think.

Lovely Linen
Linen is a favorite fabric of mine, despite its inherent wrinkling. It's easy to cut, sew, and press and comfortable to wear. Recently I spotted an interesting linen apron in a magazine I was reading and decided to enter the name of the company that produced it in Google to see if the company offered other similar products. Libeco was indeed online. The company is located in Belgium, near Bruges where I have visited (a lovely city where lacemaking still reigns supreme). The Libeco website offers a lovely, photo-illustrated discussion of how linen fibers are produced as well as some helpful care information. Visit

Armchair Adventures

I love how searching on the Internet leads you to forks in the road—like the Walt Whitman poem, The Road Less Traveled. Every time I visit a new website or blog, I find myself clicking on links and landing in new and unexpected places; I can while away an hour or more on these armchair journeys, but the creativity I see on screen is usually worth it. And sometimes I try to back-click my way to the original fork in the road, so to speak, so that I can take the other road and see where it leads! Talk about an easy armchair trip around the world! The Internet surely offers that if you're willing to exercise your clicking finger.

Here are some new interesting spots I found on my latest armchair adventures that you might want to check out if art quilts/quilting are of interest. Lots of inspiration in these spots! Check out the galleries on this site for inspiration.

Questions, I've Got Questions
I haven't done any sewing for the past few weeks—vacation in Colorado to visit my Mom and sister and catching up after vacation have eaten into my time. But, I have been sorting through the pile of magazines that arrived while I was away and in one of them I found an interesting set of questions posed to a current designer--one I'm not tuned into by the way. I thought I'd share those questions, plus a few I added, along with my answers. It was an interesting exercise, one you might like to try. Here are the questions and my answers. What might yours be?

Who is your favorite designer?
I don't have one. When I was younger, I loved to sew with Jeanne Muir patterns from Vogue.

If you could come back as a dress, what would it be?
A little black dress—always chic, always in fashion.

What's your favorite color?
Any shade of pink. It's so flattering to the complexion.

What's your favorite junk food?
Pringle's potato chips--I can't eat just one. Usually, the whole can disappears in a day--so I don't buy them very often, and then they are a real treat.

What are you most vain about?

I can't think of anything, other than trying to always look my best when I'm out in public.

What are you most shy about?
Entering a room where I don't know a soul.

If you could have somebody else's body, whose would it be?
Raquel Welch or Catherine Zeta-Jones; no actually, mine, just 20# slimmer!

Who are your fantasy dinner guests?
Oprah Winfrey, Louisa May Alcott, Barack and Michelle Obama, James Michener, Robert Redford, Coco Chanel, Paul Poiret, Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Leonarda DaVinci, Beverly Sills, Annie LaMott

Who do you most admire?
My mother

What's your favorite non-alcoholic beverage?
Starbucks Mocha (nonfat, no-whip, 2 pumps, extra hot)

What's your favorite soft drink?

Favorite alcoholic beverage?
A glass of Merlot—one's enough

Underwear of choice?
Sexy and comfortable, with a bit of lycra for support.

What can't you travel without?
My cosmetic kit—simple though it is.

Last book you read?
Plum Wine

What's the one thing you should be doing more of?


What's the one thing you want to do more of?

Sing and take singing lessons again

Any pets?

What's for breakfast?
Kashi cereal with 1% milk

What did you want to be at age 7?
A Catholic nun

Do you have any superstitions?

What's your biggest self indulgence?
Having my nails done every two weeks

Favorite place to shop
Wherever I can find what I want at a bargain price

If you were an inventor, what would you invent?
A sewing machine that could cook! No, seriously, a very low-cost efficient method of transportation that would be available to everyone at no cost to the environment

What's your favorite car?
Anything that looks presentable, runs well, gets decent mileage, and gets me where I need to go.

What was your childhood nickname(s)?
Bar-b-que, Spider Legs, Bibsie

When and where are you happiest?
Snuggling, talking, and laughing with my sweetie—my husband.

What was the best day of your life--so far?
The day I met my wonderful husband, followed by the day we married in 2006.

What is your most cherished accomplishment?
Setting and completing the goal to give a personal vocal recital before my 55th birthday!

Who's you best friend?
My sweet husband

Who's your worst enemy?
Don't have one

What piece of art would you like to own?
Anything by Monet or Mary Cassatt

What’s your favorite vacation spot?
Wherever I am at the time--being in the moment

Who's your favorite fictional character?
Jo of
Little Women

What is your favorite poem?
Barter by Sara Teasdale...Life has lovliness to sell, All beautiful and splendid things....

What's your most treasured possession?
My life and my US citizenship

Who's your favorite musician?
No one favorite—too many to name

If you weren't a writer, who would you be?
A famous world-traveling photo journalist

What's your biggest fashion regret?
Looking back, wearing the absolute wrong thing for a job interview—but I got the job anyway
Favorite trend of all time?
Loved large loose sweaters over skinny-legged pants or leggings

Worst trend of all time?
Football pad shoulder pads and "big hair." The Afro do wasn't very becoming either--at least not on me!

How would you describe yourself in five words or less?
A creative, practical romantic

Brush and floss your teeth—and pay yourself first.

Put yourself down.
Until next time,
Keep sewing and smiling!

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."
Mother Teresa

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Connecting Threads…Connecting Hearts!

I recently sent out an announcement to a very long list of sewers who had responded to me at the e-letter I wrote when I was the editor of Sewing Savvy magazine. Thank you to those who have responded to my recent e-mail and visited this blog and/or my website— I have had some lovely e-mail and guest book responses at my website from several of you and it's nice to know I've been missed.

Unlike that e-letter, which was sent automatically from the company that published the magazine, I post this blog personally—when I feel I have something to say about sewing, life, or just whatever. My goal is to write something at least once a week, but you know how life can sometimes get in the way of the best-laid plans! So, if you really want to read my blog when it's fresh, be sure to subscribe to an RSS feed—look to the right, just under my photo and copyright for your options for subscribing to the blog posts and/or comments. Once you sign up, you'll get an e-mail each time I post something new. Otherwise, you'll need to remember to check back every week or so to find out what's new!

Comments and Questions?
Have a comment or a question? I encourage you to click on "comments" (in pink) that is at the end of every post. I'll try to respond if you take the time to communicate with me this way. I loved hearing from my readers with responses, questions, and suggestions and I'd like to keep that going here if possible!! You can also e-mail me at if you wish.

Start Them Sewing Young
I've written about teaching young ones to sew in my previous e-letter and have had great responses from readers. "Each one teach one" is a great motto for any month of the year, but particularly during National Sewing Month. I was tickled pink to hear from my friend, Elfrieda Snow, last week about her granddaughter's prize-winning quilt.

I met Elfreida and Reg when they lived in Newfoundland and owned a fabric shop there. I visited several times as a Palmer/Pletsh instructor to deliver sewing seminars in the shop in the early 80s. Elfrieda and Reg were great hosts! Now they live outside of Toronto, close to their children and grandchildren, and I hope Stan and I can visit them sometime when retirement means we can travel more. I caught up with them through another reader, whom I had met at one of those seminars—this internet is such a wonderful tool for reconnecting broken threads of friendship.

Anyway, back to Mia and her first quilt! Here's what Elfrieda wrote:
"Mia learned to use the sewing machine at the age of 3. She began by sewing squares together. Once that was completed we went to a local Quilt Shop, Andjareena's in Trenton, where she chose the background and border fabrics. Mia completed her quilt just after her 6th birthday and then entered it in the Belleville Fair. At the Fair she was awarded 1st prize in the Junior Quilting category and she also received the 'Judge's Choice' award.

Mia's smile says it all, don't you think? It's truly priceless! Way to go Mia! Keep up the good work!! I can't wait to see what you stitch up next!

Special Offer for National Sewing Month
This is a repeat from an earlier post as I want to make sure readers don't miss it this month while we're celebrating sewing all month long:
Check out my patterns at
There, you'll find my popular totes, a few quilts, a great little jacket, and some fun placemats to sew for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Send an order with your personal check or money order (US funds only), between now and September 30th, and the shipping is FREE . Yes, you'll need to use snail mail to order. Print the order form, or just write one out on your own. Offer is valid for orders with postmarks through the end of September 2008!

Something From My Sewing Room
In the last post, I shared a photo of a display box featuring the vintage sewing tools in my collection and I promised to include close-ups in future posts. Here's the first one—I call it WHOOOOO Sews? It's a dear little tape measure.

Word Games
My life is all about sewing and writing about it. As a writer,I'm always intrigued by the way other writers put words together. While we were on our boating vacation in August (see August posts for more details and photos), an article in the Sunday paper caught my eye and I decided to give writing poetry by crossing out the words in newspaper articles a try. If you like word play and word games, you might find this section interesting. If not, see you in the next post!

Here are the poems I came up with by following the directions to cross out all text except the words I wanted to make my poems. This article appeared in the August 24, 2008 issue of The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA).

Late to the Game
sticking out your tongue
saying "ahhh."
a dog-eared file…
your medical chart
a quaint remnant!
"The Doctor Goes Digital"
a painful struggle.
(written from article: "The Doctor Goes Digital")

The Next Big Deal
Peddling something…
A more healthful alternative
Stop smoking
Career changes
Turkish coffee
sure has worked…
Drink more often
Grounds into brew...
(written from article about an internet business built around selling accoutrements for Turkish coffee as a more healthful alternative to smoking, overeating, and stress)

Theroux Retraces Steps
Escape the music of metropolitan life...
enthusiastic traveler with feet on the ground.
First-ever trip…thinking about the past
Looking back…catching up.
a somewhat grumpy ride.
Anything possible on a train...
an intrigue,
strangers' monologues,
exile from life,
wanderlust in the soul and
places no tourist would think of going

(written from "Theroux Retraces Steps He Took to Travel Classic")

Big Island Small Surprises
Such a "wow" factor…
big vistas,
mountain ranges,
wild expanse,
hidden gems!

(written from article about Vancouver Island)

Until next time,
Keep sewing and smiling!

"If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies."
Moshe Dayan

Monday, September 1, 2008

September is National Sewing Month…

What will you sew today? That's always the question, isn't it? Some days I don't sew at all—but I usually think about it. Today, as I entered my sewing room, I thought about all the happy hours I've spent in my life sewing. I've been using a needle and thread for almost as long as I can remember. Mom sewed for us (six little girls) and then taught me how to do more than the crooked little straight stitches I sewed on my doll's clothes. She made the dresses in this photo—each a different pastel shade of organdy with tiny rosebuds embroidered at the point of each scallop around the neckline and hem. How she managed to do this and take care of six children, ages one to six, and do all of her farmer's wife duties is still beyond me—but I'm sure glad she did! We were lined up for this photo, stair step-style, at my dear Aunt Judy's wedding. Can you pick me out in the photo? (Two boys followed this gaggle of girls, much to Dad's delight.)

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jog!
That's something my mother would say when we would arrive home from wherever we'd been and I often think it or say it to myself for the same reason. It's part of poem about a dog from The Better Homes and Gardens Storybook—a book she read to us frequently when I was a child. How I wish that book hadn't disappeared from her bookshelf—I'd like to read to my granddaughter from it. I have such fond memories of storytime with that book. One of my favorites was The Little Red Hen—perhaps someday, I'll make a little chicken quilt in tribute to that story!

Anyway, we returned home from our boating trip on Saturday. The weather proved cold, rainy, and windy while we were away, so Victoria BC will have to wait for sunnier days. Gas is too dear to cruise to a pretty place and then sit in the rain! It's unseasonably cool here at home—more like November than August/September! Below are two more photos to share from our trip...a tall ship was under sail as we made our way home after stopping at the city dock (free!) in Gig Harbor for the night.

It was raining, so some of my shots were taken through the window in the salon of our boat. I love this one of the boat fender through the rain-spattered window. The 3-D quality of the raindrops is so "real."

Something from my Sewing Room
I'm back in the sewing room/office today, trying to decide which project to tackle first. Since I've been working on new patterns for the past few months, the pattern for "The Magic Tuck Market Tote" is at the top of my list to finish up today. I want it to be available soon, along with my new Sew 'N' Go patterns that are in the illustration stage—a wonderful quilted travel tote and a quilted travel wallet for sewers and quilters on the go! Watch for them and the Market Tote to appear on my website, sometime in late September or early October. I'll let you know here when they are available there.

As a long-time sewer, I've also become a collector of vintage sewing tools, bits of lace, and other sewing related ephemera. Most of my antique sewing tools are on display in my sewing room in an old type box that I lined with wallpaper and refinished. I took a photo so you can see my collection. I'll take and post close-ups of the items shown in future blog posts.

A New Book to Consider for Your Bookshelf

Here's a new book I just heard about that I plan to buy: Digital Essentials: The Quilt Maker’s Must-Have Guide to Images, Files, and More by Gloria Hansen. It's touted as a learning guide for designing using software programs like Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro. I have Photoshop but have never taken a class and so didn't know what I could do with it other than resize my digital photos—which I've done a lot. But organizing them and storing them is a daunting task.
I just read Gloria's two-part series on manipulating image files in Quilting Arts—one of my most favorite magazines. You'll find her excellent articles in the June/July and August/September issue of the magazine. Even if you don't quilt, this magazine is a feast for the eyes and full of techniques and inspiration. When I retire, if not before, I hope to go back through my issues and try some of them. Even though I didn't have the article with me when I was in Hawaii in June, I remembered a bit of what I'd read. After taking photos of the orchids in the Orchid House and a lotus in the Japanese Garden at Koele Lodge in Lanai, I was brave enough to explore some of the tools in my Photoshop program and came up with some really interesting results. Here are two of the photos I played with and an interesting new image for each one. When you use the drop-down menu for "Filter" in Photoshop, you'll find interesting options. These photos were adjusted with "posterize" and "poster edges." First the original and then the adjusted image; I wish I could put them side by side, but when I do, the text flows strangely so here they are, one after the other.

I think these photos--both versions of each--will make nice notecards.
I have yet to get out Gloria's articles and follow along step-by-step to create and print an image for an art quilt but I'm not so afraid to play with the tools on Photoshop now, and I think I'll be able to make an art quilt with Gloria's well-written instructions. I'm sure her book will be enlightening and encouraging! Ask for it at your local quilt shop. It's published by


You can sign up to get a Thought for the Day at Wordles. I love today's: "Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives." William Dement

I have made up my own version of Dement's great quote:
Sewing permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely and insanely creative every day of our lives!!

Let Me Know What You're Sewing
...and share your thoughts and questions about your quilting and sewing projects. At the end of every post in this blog there is a place to post your comments. Click on "comments" and a window will appear for you to leave your comments, suggestions, and questions.

Until next time…
Keep on sewing and smiling!

"One little person, giving all of her time to peace, makes news.Many people, giving some of their time, can make history." Peace Pilgrim

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

National Thread the Needle Day…We Missed It!

July 25th was day! Of course, if you sew, any day is a "thread the needle day." But, do you know the second meaning? According to the phrase means to "either walk a fine or difficult line between two issues or things, or to do something difficult. M-m-m! I guess we do that every day in the search for world peace!

Sewing Tip of the Day
I've been working on my sewing book—writing about threading the needle, actually, and I just found a neat new tip in one of the sewing books that's long been on my bookshelves. When you must sew with a doubled thread in the needle, I've found that a good tug can break the thread right off the eye, or prolonged sewing causes the thread to shred and break there. When you must use doubled thread, as for attaching buttons by hand, try this neat trick to prevent the wear—cut two equal lengths of thread and thread them together as one through the eye—as if you were sewing with a single thread. Knot the ends together. Oh, and don't forget to wax those threads to help them adhere to each other. After waxing them together, place between two layers of paper towel and press with a warm iron to melt the wax into the thread.

National Sewing Month is Soon Upon Us!
September will soon arrive—a month to celebrate our love for sewing! What will you do to celebrate? I have two suggestions: you can start now to create an apron for the apron challenge at and you can join all those "lazies" at by joining the challenge to Make 2 Give 2! Check out these two creative options for expressing your love for sewing!

Apron Memories
My first sewing project for 4-H was a little printed gingham apron—completely made by hand. I learned to do the slipstitch to perfection on the the two side hems and the top and bottom hems. It was just a simple hemmed rectangle with a casing for the ribbon tie—but in my untrained, little-girl fingers, it seemed to take forever. With all the renewed interest in apron sewing these days, I've been thinking a lot of my grandmothers, who always wore aprons. Do you have any fond memories of your mother's or grandmothers' aprons—or any bits of wisdom that they dispensed? I'd love to hear your comments on this topic. At the end of the post, click on "Comments" to open a window and share your thoughts.

Special Offer for National Sewing Month...Free Shipping
Check out my patterns at
You'll find my popular totes, a few quilts, a great little jacket, and some fun placemats to sew for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Send an order with your personal check or money order (US funds only), and the shipping is free. Yes, you'll need to use snail mail to order. Print the order form on the website and fill it out, or just write one out on your own. Offer is valid for orders with postmarks through the end of September 2008 only!

Rockin' and a Rollin' with the Waves!
As I post this, we're tied up dockside at Kingston, WA, harbor, just inside the breakwater. We spent a long night in a heavy rainstorm and woke in the middle of the night to a windstorm rocking the boat and whistling overhead. It's been a long time since I've heard the wind whistling like that. We were glad to be in our cozy "stateroom" on the boat, instead of in a tent somewhere. We're staying here another night as more "weather" is due. Then we'll decide if it's time to work our way homeward. In my last post, I shared that a rainbow appeared over Poulsbo Bay—this is the best shot from that day.

Today Is "Just Because Day"
What will you do today, "just because?" Take a nap, go for walk somewhere new, clean up the sewing room? So many options!

It's also the anniversary of Mother Teresa's birth in 1910.

Tomorrow is Dream Day—in honor of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech given in 1963. What do you dream of? Dreams can't come true if you don't first birth them and speak them to give them a life.

Until next time,
Keep sewing and smiling!
"Peace is not something you wish for; it's something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away." Robert Fulghum

Monday, August 25, 2008

Glass, Glass Everywhere...and Not a Drop to Drink!

No, you cannot drink from the glass at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, but you can drink in vibrant color and inspiration with every step through the galleries and gift shop and along the Chihuly Bridge of Glass!

The Beckoning Cone
Just above our slip at the Dock Street Marina, the giant metal cone that marks the Museum of Glass beckoned us to the world's largest Hot Shop amphitheater—a unique space where you can sit, stadium-style, to watch artists at work, creating new glass pieces before your very eyes. A large screen above the work area, which houses several glory holes—furnaces roaring at over 2300˚F—provides a birdseye view of the process as glassworkers withdraw molten glass on a rod to be worked into shape before returning to the oven—again and again. One false move—and they must begin again! A commentator with mic in hand also keeps the audience apprised of what's happening. We entered the amphitheater to watch the last 30 minutes of work on a piece by the glass artist of the day and the crew in the pit. We stayed to watch as they broke it from the rod and carefully laid it to rest in one of the annealing ovens that gradually lower the temperature of the finished pieces over a period of days so that they slowly cool and avoid cracking into a million little pieces. Fascinating!

Even if glass is not your thing, I recommend a stop at this relatively new art museum (6 years old), just for the walk along the Dale Chihuly Bridge of Glass. The colorful work of Chihuly, a Tacoma native, is showcased along this bridge connecting downtown Tacoma with the waterfront where we were docked.

Two large stacks of irregular glass cubes invite you to travel further. The day was gloriously clear. Up close and personal, the glass looked like big chunks of aquamarine ice tossed and stacked on a whim.

Whether coming or going from the docks, you'll find yourself beneath a ceiling canopy of glass—multiple panels full of organic glass shapes in striking color and pattern. Look up! You don't want to miss any of it! Lots of inspiration here for works in fiber—an art quilt perhaps?

Once beyond the glass canopy, walk through another display of organic glass pieces by international artist's before arriving at the cone where I took this photo series. I love shots that are not centered or not what you might except—a different perspective. The results with the museum roof intersecting the cone created interesting juxtapositions, don't you think?

We took a tour of the three galleries in the museum with an excellent docent and were glad we chose Saturday because the current large exhibit there closed today. We were treated to a tour of "Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass." As I write, the exhibit is being dismantled to travel to six American locations. Watch for it, as it is a fascinating look at the transformation in one artist's work over a lifetime, an artist who is said to have changed the face of art glass in America and around the world.

The next exhibit, "Dante Marioni: Form, Color, Pattern" was also interesting, but I especially enjoyed "Contrasts: A Glass Primer," which shows through October 12, 2009. When you enter this gallery, you are confronted with a question: "I like it; I don't like it. Is there another way to view art?'' or something akin to those words. The exhibit contains work by many artists, pieces placed side by side that show contrasts: consider a large, lacy glass fly in juxtaposition to a green glass "cinder block" that took two men to lift into place—both glass but oh so different!

If you love museums, take a walk back along the bridge to the Washington State History Museum to your left, and the Tacoma Art Museum, a few blocks to the right. We left both of those for another visit. As you walk that way, savor all the shapes—the giant cone, the museum roofline, the glass stacks and the old Union Station, now the United States Courthouse to the right.

A note for boaters: The Dock Street Marina is convenient to the museums and downtown restaurants, but we found this large port far too noisy for our liking. With the Tacoma Dome and I-5 in view in one direction and a very busy railway running parallel to dockside, we won't choose to overnight there again. Hanging out and swinging on our anchor is more to our liking—private and quiet with just the sound of water lapping at the bow and a few gulls over head—that's what we both love.
Ice Cream, Chocolate, and Quilts
It's Monday as I finish this post and we are, indeed, swinging at anchor in the harbor at Poulsbo, WA, hoping for sunshine. There was a hint of it, but as we sat down to lunch in Poulsbo, the next deluge began. After lunch, we made our annual pilgrimage (twice now in almost two years of marriage) to Boehm's Chocolates for an ice cream bar, freshly dipped in chocolate and nuts. The proof is in the pictures! It's a must-stop location if you find yourself in this little Norwegian-style town, just north of Bremerton and west of Seattle. After all, chocolate is one of the main food groups, along with ice cream—right?

There's a nice quilt shop in Poulsbo, too—Heirloom Quilts and Fabrics. Unfortunately, I could only peek in the windows as the shop was closed so the staff could attend a memorial service. Lots of "eye candy" inside, though!

Depending on what the weather brings, we'll head out tomorrow for Port Townsend and then Victoria, BC, for a few days. As I post this, it's not looking particularly favorable, although we did see a complete rainbow over Poulsbo after the last squall--perhaps a good omen? Until next time,
Keep sewing and smiling!
And, remember that peace begins at home. When every home is at peace, then we will truly have peace in the whole world.