Friday, November 9, 2012

It's Never Too Finish a Quilt! 
Sweet Shabby Dreams is my newest quilt pattern, but it was 13 years in the making and finishing. Actually, the quilt top was finished in 1997 and had 63 blocks in it to make an oversized queen-size quilt. I made most of the blocks but many were made by my co-workers in a block round robin group quilting effort. I started to hand quilt it with diagonal lines across all blocks in both directions and I had also hand-quilted-in-the-ditch around each block.  I was ready to tackle the borders, but since I was moving to  Massachusetts, the quilt went into a box for the move, and then into a box under the bed, never to see daylight again until this past summer. (In the meantime, I moved back to the West Coast.) When I took the quilt out of the box, I knew I would never finish it by hand and it really needed more quilting in the blocks and sashing, as well as in the wider outer border. Instead of banning it to the box again,  I took the quilt top to my long-arm quilter, Debi Breese of Heart in Hand Quilting in Portland, OR. She thought she would be able to add machine quilting to it, but alas, that didn't work, so home it came again--but it didn't go back under the bed!

Since I had already written the pattern directions for the quilt--including yardage and assembly directions for several sizes--I decided to take on the task of "unquilting" it and disassembling it to make a smaller quilt. It was just too darn big and I knew I wouldn't use it if left that size. Yes, I took out every tiny little hand stitch and unpicked lots of seams. The finished quilt top with only 25 blocks proved much more manageable and makes a cozy lap-size quilt. (I just took a lovely nap under it earlier today.) I took the new, smaller quilt top back to Debi and she chose an overall floral pattern that floats across the center and the multiple inner borders. She added a coordinating floral pattern for the outermost border. I'm happy with the results and glad to have one more thing off my "round-to-it" list. 

The pattern is now available for download purchase at, where you will find all of my other patterns for quilts, place settings, table runners, tote bags, and even a child's apron. Directions for a Baby, Lap, Twin, and Queen size quilt are included in the pattern. To view all of my patterns at Craftsy, simply double click on the photo of Sweet Shabby Dreams. It's that easy!

If you haven't visited Craftsy, be sure you do. They offer lots of patterns and great on-line classes. I've signed up for several. It's so easy to watch the lessons at your leisure and then go practice at the machine. And you can take the classes at your leisure--forever. Once you've paid for it, it's available to you whenever you want to access it. They offer classes and patterns in other crafts, including paper crafts, knitting, and crocheting, too. It's a great resource! I found a great sweater pattern on Craftsy to knit while I was on a month-long boat trip with my sweetie.

And what about all those leftover blocks? Don't know yet, but some might show up in a shabby little tote bag--or baby quilts--I still have 34 of them!

Keep on stitching and smiling,

Busy, Busy, Busy--Lots of New Patterns 
And that's a good thing. Ever since February, when I started selling my Jo-Lydia's Attic patterns at, my sewing room has been buzzing with creativity. When you discover that customers all over the world appreciate your efforts by purchasing your patterns, it does wonders--at least it did for me--and it unleashes motivation to do more. I've introduced many new patterns since February, but I won't show them all in this post, just those that have seasonal appeal.

Be sure to visit to check out all of my patterns. Just click on one of the pattern photos below and you will be re-directed to my Craftsy pattern store. 

I love my little "Boo Bag," an easy-to-stitch tote for carrying home Halloween treats. I used the same jack-o-lantern block in a table runner and placemat set, but look how different it looks with different fabric for the borders! The runner is "living" on my dining table, along with several pumpkins from my growing collection. If you prefer, you can eliminate the facial features for a more generic harvest runner to last through Thanksgiving.

If you'd rather make a wall hanging for Thanksgiving, check out "Give Thanks...A Harvest Wall Hanging." It combines easy fusible applique with pumpkin and maple leaf blocks and a perky turkey made with simple shapes. The tail feathers on my finished quilt are made with "poly-silk" fall leaves snipped from dollar "store" sprays and fused in place. Directions and templates are also included for a more primitive-style feather as well as for leaves to cut from fabric to mimic the look of the silk leaves. With just a few blocks and fusible applique, this project won't take long--there's time to make it before turkey day!

Of course, Christmas has been on my mind, too, and I have three new patterns to share. I love my wall quilt, "A Heartfelt Christmas Tree." The background is really easy to piece and the tree is made of appliqued hearts in two sizes. I fused them in place, but you can use other applique methods if you prefer. And, I think this pattern lends itself to "decorating." You could even turn it into an Advent Calendar by adding small ornaments each day, beginning on December 1st. I might just do that!

If you're looking for easy table settings, consider "Santa's New Suit" and "Presently Wrapped." With each pattern, you quilt your own Christmas fabrics together and then add appliqued details with fusible web. I finished the applique edges with tiny zigzagging or machine blindstitching. "Santa's New Suit" includes an appliqued napkin with folding directions to turn it into his hat, complete with clip-on pom-pom. A folded napkin creates the "bow" on pretty packages wrapped with Christmas fabric to make the "Presently Wrapped" place setting. Both patterns are super easy and fun to make. They would make great early Christmas gifts for those who love to decorate their tables for holiday parties and get-togethers.

So there you have it. My holiday offerings for 2012. I'm already thinking about the next holidays--and have lots of ideas for 2013. I'll keep you posted! 

Happy Holiday Stitching!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

A New Pattern
While I was working on my mixed media art projects (see previous posts) I was also working on a new pattern. I've just released my "Lucky Shamrocks Table Runner & Placemats" pattern. You can purchase a downloadable PDF pattern at . You will find all of my other patterns, there too. Th pattern includes directions for a table runner--or you can use it as a banner or wall hanging, plus directions for a set of four placemats and napkins.

Lucky Shamrocks Placemat

I designed the appliqued block, which is done with fusible web and machine-blanket-stitching to cover the raw edges, but you can substitute your favorite applique method if you prefer. To make the blocks "chain" together in the runner, I added folded-corner triangles to the side setting triangles--a really easy technique. It changed an ordinary diagonal setting into a much more interesting layout. The block behind the shamrock appliques is super easy to piece; the applique pieces are large and easy to handle. Love the green and white prints--the promise that spring is right around the corner!

Lucky Shamrocks Runner

Speaking of Craftsy...
I signed up as a Craftsy member several months ago and was delighted to read in a January newsletter that they were offering independent designers a place to sell their patterns. I spent several hours uploading my pattern PDFs onto their site over the next two days. Their pattern store went live in early February and my patterns have been selling really well. The top seller, Hearts Entwined, has been on their Top 20 Leader board all month, along with several of my tote bag patterns. Hearts Entwined is still there and still selling well.

Hearts Entwined

The wonderful thing about Craftsy is that they sell on-line classes, and support independent designers by offering this selling service free of charge. It gives me a place to keep old patterns alive and introduce new ones. With PDFs, designers can keep all of their older patterns selling, long after distributors and shops have stopped selling them. This has breathed new life into the hours and hours of work represented in the 30+ patterns I offer. Thank you, Craftsy, for your support and generosity!

So, if you are looking for craft, sewing, and quilting patterns that you can have in an instant--even at is THE place to go! Have fun shopping in your pajamas!

Until next time, keep sewing and smiling!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I've Had Such Fun!

More Mixed Media Projects
I gave myself two days off to play with my SheArt projects this week--after working all of last week on a new pattern for St. Patrick's Day. I've been working on mixed media creations (see previous post) for the past month and enjoying playing with paints and papers and stamps and rub-ons and all those things I've admired in the craft store but just didn't think I could handle.

After finishing the 3-week SheArt on-line course, I also signed up for another of Christy Tomlinson's workshops and received her Creative Color workshop FREE. The other course was a collaborative 4-day Valentine's workshop with the Glitter Girls. I watched the videos but didn't do the projects. However, I inhaled her color class. You can sign up for it at It's worth it! In fact, I wish I had taken it before the SheArt class in a way as I might have had an easier time choosing color palettes for my "girls." C'est la vie. Anyway, I recommend it. Her exercises for looking for color inspiration are very good and they made me look for color in a new way.

One color resource Christy didn't include was It's one-stop shopping for ideas for quilts and crafts and your home, and gorgeous photo images. But be warned, it is highly addictive. Looking for new things to "pin" to your set of bulletin boards is very fun and inspiring--but it can eat up a LOT of time if you let it! I've been feasting my eyes, pinning things, and finding others to follow! And I know it has affected how I look at color, too, and where I look for color ideas.

All that being said, I'd like to share the canvases I finished in the last two days. The last of the 3 SheArt classes focuses on creating canvases that are personal reflections--using things that mean something to you as the backgrounds on the canvas. I made photocopies of photos and other personal memorabilia to cut up for my backgrounds--just as Christy suggests in the class. When you see the final canvases, you won't be able to "see" much in the background. The point is that I know what's there and what's meaningful to me that inspired the "girl."

I created two "mini-me" canvases--one for my 10-year-old "me" and one for my grown-up "me." All in all, these last two girls are the best, I think.

She Let Her Inner Child Come Out to Play
My 10-year-old is wearing a dress with a little cropped vest. This outfit was one of my favorites and I wore it in a Four Generation photo that was taken of my family. A photocopy of that photo underlies the "girl." I can pick it out, but viewers would be hard-pressed to find it. I was delighted to find a piece of scrapbooking paper that was similar to the dress fabric. I loved butterflies as a child and those you can find in the background an in my hair. I really did "let my inner child come out to play" on this canvas and I'm really happy with the results! This canvas makes me happy and all in all, I'm really pleased with the results. I'll probably hang this one in my office/sewing studio.

She Believes in PINK!
Next, I completed the "big girl." I have a favorite color--that would be PINK--and I have a Sarah Arizona pink sweater that I bought in the early 90s to wear with tights. It is my most-favorite-ever sweater and I sill wear it even though it is much the worse for wear. It has a few "holes" patched with fusible web on the inside and I've had to turn up the lower edge of the sleeves and the sweater body because the soft cotton yarn has just plain worn out.
I can't part with the sweater and I still wear it with black pants (not leggings or tights). I decided that this favorite piece of clothing should be the featured outfit for my adult "girl."
While I was trolling I found a wonderful quote from Audrey Hepburn that begins, "I believe in pink." And, I do too, so it made a fitting name for this canvas.

For this canvas, I used one of the "color inspirations" I collected during the Creative Color Workshop. It really made it easier to choose the background colors. I also have an antique type stamp of a thimble that I used and again, the butterfly is featured, along with music notes. The birds in the upper left corner are from a birthday card from Stan. There are newspaper clippings and magazine articles about my college days and my career in sewing beneath the colorful collage. I cut the tights from fabric and the sweater from scrapbooking paper. I'm really happy with the hair, too.
Just as a side note, my sweet husband tried to find a new pink sweater to replace the one I love and I opened a Christmas package with the result of his search. While nothing can replace the Sarah Arizona sweater, he did find a lovely Liz Claiborne pink and white cotton sweater that I love. But even more, I love that he was so thoughtful! He's such a wonderful guy!

Home is Where the Heart Is!
Earlier, I prepared another square canvas, using water-color-like images from a child's book I purchased at Goodwill for $1. It's been sitting around, waiting for more, so I tackled it next. You really can't see the paper underneath the art, but it did help me get started. This time, I decided to do a little house with a "strip-pieced" roof, patchwork style. I cut narrow strips from many different scrapbook papers and decoupaged them to a triangle of card stock, then trimmed the excess for a pretty roof. I love the saying I found in a book of vellum scriptures: Where hour treasure is, there will your heart be also. Or in other words, "Home is where the heart is!"

One Last Canvas to Share For Now
I did another SheArt canvas early on, and ever since, I've struggled with it. No matter what I did, I just didn't like the results. Finally, I decided to cover the canvas with torn brown paper bag pieces and then build on it from there. The result is a piece about love. It's title, written in pen directly on the canvas is "You Can't Measure My Love."
This one has lots of things I love on it, but what I love MOST is my sweet husband and the title is reflective of our love for each other. The canvas looks better in the photo than it does in person for some reason. It really is "messy art," which is what Christy calls her style. I think I just tried a little too hard on this one and should have stopped before the last layer of paint. But, again, I've learned from doing it and that's the whole point, really. And the sentiment and Love remain!

So now, I'm cleaning up my "studio," which is the counter top in the guest bath--handy since it's large and there's a sink for quick clean-up. I've organized all my supplies and I know I'll be back at it again soon because I've just had too much fun! Stan asked me what I was going to do with all my canvases. I'll hang some of them and give some away--maybe. But, the point was the process and I've enjoyed it immensely and have a new found confidence in my artistic abilities!

Now it's time to fix supper and then get back to designing new patterns. More about that in the next post.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I haven't posted in a while because I've been delightfully occupied with an on-line class with Christy Tomlinson. I signed up for her mixed media class, SheArt Workshop, to treat myself to an "art" class, something I've never done before because I thought I couldn't paint or draw. Was I wrong! What fun I've had creating mixed media canvases using paint, and scrapbook papers, and rub-ons, and stamping--things I've stayed away from in the past. I'm also mixing in fabrics and trims and notions from my sewing stash. It's like playing with paper dolls, something I loved as a child.

 Now I have a new addiction and regularly troll Tuesday Morning and Marshall's for deals on art and scrapbooking supplies. The three-week class cost next to nothing in comparison to what I spent on all those new supplies, so now I'm taking another of Christy's fun classes. You can find out more about her at That's her online store, but there are links to her blog and workshops, too.

So here are the first five canvases I've finished, with a few more in the works, including "little girl" and "big girl" versions of me. The ones shown here are in the order in which I created them. I really like the second one and can't believe I actually painted the hair! Her cap is a part of a paper flower that I painted and embellished. I'll share more.

Now I need to get back to my new pattern designs. I've been distracted by these new artistic endeavors, but feel it has been beneficial to my overall sense of design and certainly to my self confidence. If you need some fun, sign up for Christy's SheArt Workshop! You'll love it!

She let her inner artist explore.
She loved to play dress up!

She sings because music is the language of her soul.

She is grateful for the sunshine.

Detail of the 3-D pleated paper trim

She's not lost, she's exploring.

I love her little red shoes and knee socks.

Oh la la! La Chienne est tres jolie!

Eiffel tower copied from a vintage postcard, then embellished on the canvas.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Home Dec Round to Its

Last week, my "Round to Its" focused on the Home Dec projects on my list--and I'm proud to say, I've crossed most of those off the list. The majority centered around repairing items in the family room.
By the way, making a list and keeping it on the computer has been helpful. As I complete something, I highlight it in color—that way when I look at my list, I can see how much I've accomplished. It feels good to knock a few projects off the list each week. My list is divided into categories, such as Home Dec, Creative, Work, etc.

Here's what I knocked off the list last week.

Six years ago, I ordered two custom-made couches in a fabulous Jay Lang floral print. They each came with two feather-stuffed accent pillows, trimmed in piping. I got to choose the fabrics for all three, so the couches are just what I wanted. However, I was never really crazy about the red fabric for the pillows—it was too much toward the orange side for my taste, even though it definitely matches one of the other reds in the floral print. Because my area rug is really red, as are the lap quilts I use in the family room, the orangey red has always bothered my sense of aesthetics.

Shortly after we moved into our house, I purchased a redder red fabric to replace the pillows—that was five years ago! Finally, I got around to making new covers for the pillows on the couch in the family room. (Last year I made covers for the pillows on the sofa in the living room, using fabric that matches the sofas.)

Because the new fabric was a smooth satin weave, I decided to add a bit more texture on the front of the pillow. I drew a 2"-wide grid of diagonal lines on the square using dressmaker's chalk, and then layered it with thin cotton batting, and stitched on the lines. Notice the handle on my rotary cutter--and read about it at the end of this post.

I'm much happier with the color and love the quilted fronts—which will probably look more textured after the covers are washed the first time. The photo shows how much different the two colors are. The darker red is also in the floral print, but the furniture store just didn't have anything like it when I ordered the sofas.

Since these pillows belong in the family room, and will be washed (not dry-cleaned), I did preshrink the fabric, which removed the stain-repellent finish. After completing the pillows, I restored the finish with a spray-on repellant—I'll do that each time I wash the pillow covers.

To refresh pillows between cover washings, I toss them into the dryer for 5 minutes. That fluffs them and refreshes them beautifully.

I made new piping, using the same fabric as that on the sofas. Shortly after I purchased the sofas, I found the same fabric at Calico Corners and bought 20 yards—just in case I needed it for repairs, or seat cushions, or valances, or whatever! As it turned out, I used some of it to make a floor-length tablecloth for the small table in our eat-in kitchen that is open to the family room.

I learned something while making the piping that had never occurred to me before. First of all, piping fabric needs to be cut on the bias in order to fit smoothly around square corners. When applying it, you need to stop at the corner and clip the piping seam allowance to make it fit around the point. I've always just clipped it in several places in the area that will go around the corner--and things usually work out fine, but often the corners are a bit "rounder" than I would like.

Clip the piping seam allowance at
the precise point where you will
turn the corner.

To remedy this, I tried something I had never seen in a sewing book. I clipped the piping seam only once, precisely in line with the 3/4"-wide seam allowance I was using to sew the piping in place. This results in a rounded corner that is more toward the "square" side. Unfortunately, I didn't try this on my pillow covers. It dawned on me after the fact so I did the samples you see here.

When I made the floor-length tablecloth for the eat-in kitchen, I didn't think to preshrink the fabric first—and a big spill made it necessary to wash it—bad idea. That made the tablecloth 2-1/2" shy of the floor all around. To remedy that, I used some of the same fabric to make a 2-1/2"-wide finished band to sew to the lower edge.

First I removed the original 1/2"-wide finished hem and then used a 1/2"-wide seam allowance to join the band to the lower edge of the tablecloth. I cut the band on the bias in order to maneuver around the curves and was very careful not to stretch or distort it while I stitched so there would be no wrinkles in the finished band. I cut it twice the required finished width plus two 1/2" seam allowances, so, in this case, the bias strips were cut 6" wide. I used rotary cutting tools to make quick work of it. I also serge-finished one long edge. Matching raw edges, I pinned and stitched the band to the lower edge of the tablecloth.

To join the ends of the band where they met, I followed my own good advice in my book, The Quilting Answer Book, so the join is on the bias and less bulky and noticeable than if I had used a straight seam. This method is a bit tricky, but worked like a charm.

After pressing and turning the band to the inside, measuring carefully to make sure the band was 2-1/2"-wide on the right side, I pinned it in place with the serged edge extending beyond the stitching line, and then stitched-in-the-ditch to secure it. I also topstitched through all layers 1/4" from the seamline. I'm so much happier with how it looks. This photo is very true to color, and you can see both the true red and orange red colors in the print.

I had also made a red-and-white-checked table topper, and like the tablecloth it shrank in the wash. I had purchased 15 yards of this fabric to complement the sofa/tablecloth fabric, again, not knowing how much I would need. I started with a 48" square, but it shrank more in length than width so it was no longer square. It was driving me crazy. Since I also had extra fabric, I made a new topper, this time preshrinking the fabric first. If it shrinks again, I may add ball fringe to the outer edges!

When we moved into this house, I made pleated valances using the checked fabric as the predominant fabric, with the sofa fabric peeking out of the pleats and as the casing along the top. For the lower half of the window, I purchased pale yellow sheers and added a yellow print casing. I've never seen anything like these two treatments and am happy with the results—they garner lots of compliments. However, because I didn't preshrink the yellow print, the casings are now too short—and the outside of them has faded from the sun. 
If you look at the right end of the rod, you can see that
the bands shrank a good inch, leaving the tension rod
exposed--not very pretty!

You can see how damaging
the sun can be by comparing
the top and bottom halves of
the casing band I removed.

That meant replacing the headers on the sheers. They've been driving me crazy—and even Stan noticed they were "too short." I've been going to get around to it for at least two years; I wasn't looking forward to unstitching, but it really only took an afternoon to cut new casings, remove the old ones, and replace them. It was worth it! I'm going to invest in spray-on sun protector for the back of the casings, too.

I also made a valance for the kitchen window—it's been "naked" since we moved here; I ran out of steam after finishing the valances at the windows in the family room and eat-in-kitchen area. Instead of multiple pleats like those in the family room, this valance has only one pleat at the center and rests on a tension rod between the two cabinets. Sorry about the bad angle on this shot--I should have stood on a chair, but I think you get the idea.

At Christmas time, I will remove the valance to expose the ribbon-wrapped rod where I hang many of my favorite Santa ornaments. (My dear husband has dubbed this "the Santa gallows." Shame on him!)

Before I put away the fabrics, I also made a tissue holder so my beautiful room wouldn't be marred by an ugly tissue box. Stan just laughs at me but it makes me happy! And, it's so Victorian, in keeping with the house!

Grip It!
The sales personnel at my local quilt shop use a handle with rubber grippers on their rotary cutting rulers. It always looked pretty handy, but somehow, I just couldn't cough up the price (and purple doesn't go with my sewing room colors), so I've never had one. Last week, I was wandering the aisles at Harbor Freight when I spotted a suction gripper for the bathroom—and it works on my rotary ruler just like the one I saw at the quilt shop—it's just a different color. The good news? It was under $7.00, more in line with my budget. I bought one and put it to use right away as you saw earlier in this post. Boy, is it a help when cutting through multiple layers of home dec fabric! It made it much easier to cut the wide bias bands for my tablecloth.

Let me know what you're sewing and send any sewing or quilting questions you may have and I'll try to answer them! Don't forget to check out my "Answer Books." Both of them are now also available as e-books at

Until next time, keep sewing and smiling,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pierrot Perfected

There was just something about my Pierrot doll that wasn't quite right. After looking at him next to his mate, I decided he needed a shirt with some of the same fabric that I used in Pierrette's skirt.

For the shirt, I actually constructed a gathered skirt made with a piece of fabric that was twice Pierrot's circumference at the underarm--where the arm/sleeve units join the body--underneath the ruffle. After turning the pieced fabric panel into a tube and hemming the upper edge, I added gathers, slid the shirt on and decided it was too short. Off it came so I could add a bottom band of the same camel/burgundy print that I used for the contrast panels in his shirt.

After adjusting the gathers so the "skirt-shirt" fit under Pierot's arms, I hand sewed the shirt to his body.
With his shirt

I'm much happier now that Pierrot has a shirt. How about you?
Keep sewing and smiling,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

One More "Round-to-it" Bites the Dust

Open another closet and find another project! That's how you finish up all those "round-to-its. This time, I dug out my Pierrette doll that I  finished in 1990, because recently her underarm tore as she was too tightly stuffed.

I took a class with elinor peace bailey (she uses no capital letters in her name) at Daisy Kingdom in Portland, OR, not too long after I moved there from Portland, Maine. During the class, we could make a doll of our choice using one of her patterns. I chose Pierrot and Pierrette.

To repair Pierrette, I needed the same print fabric I had used for her body so many years ago so I could add an underarm patch. I was lucky, though. I knew just where to find that fabric, along with the pieces to her companion, that I had cut out and left in pieces oh those many years ago.

As a demonstration, elinor was kind enough to help paint the faces for both of my dolls. Actually, I had embroidered Pierrette's face (the nose line, eyes, and mouth following the pattern directions before I arrived at class. Then elinor added the special details with pens and a sticky, iridescent gel-like medium. I hadn't yet embroidered Pierrot's face, so it is strictly elinor's work. My faces would never have been as beautiful as those elinor did.

I finished Pierrette shortly after the class was over and I have enjoyed her over the years. Making her was a stretch for me as I used fabric and colors that I wouldn't normally choose—part of elinor's challenge!

With Pierrot's head finished and all the other parts cut and some in stages of construction, I was ready to finish him. I started yesterday afternoon—and just finished him this afternoon. I'm pleased with the results and glad to remove one more project from my list of "round-to-its." I was able to use up more bits and pieces of trim from my stash and buttons from my button box, in lieu of Pierrot's typical pompoms. One more thing I'm doing this year is trying to use up things I have rather than running to the fabric store for some little finishing bit. It's been fun digging into my storage tubs and finding things I'd forgotten I had.

Now, aren't they a wonderful pair?

Here are some additional shots so you can see some of the details a bit closer.



Now, to find the perfect place to display these companion dolls—maybe on the wall in my sewing room—I'll have to add loops to their backs in order to do that though.
'Til next time, keep on sewing and smiling.