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