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!