Thursday, May 30, 2013

Be Kind to Your Sewing Hands...

...and your feet, too! I don't know about you, but when I do a lot of sewing, my hands suffer. Fabrics dry them out and my nails, which aren't very strong to begin with, also take a beating.

Since my feet also suffer, especially in summer when I don't wear shoes unless I must, I decided to try one of the recipes I found for homemade lotions--and to treat my hands and feet with it. And it worked.

(I've been pinning onto Pinterest boards for over a year now and have collected lots of ideas for health and beauty along with lots of inspiration for sewing, quilting, gardening, cooking and decorating. Try it you'll like it!)

Basically, you beat baby lotion (love the scent), Vaseline, and Vitamin E cream together with your hand mixer. Or you can use solid-form coconut oil in place of the Vaseline.

Here are links to the two blog entries I found about making your own lotion; my recipe, below, is a variation on them, and works very well.

Here's What I Did
To keep the costs down, I opted for the Vaseline instead of coconut oil. I purchased a 3.53-ounce jar (coconut-scented) at the Dollar Tree for $1.00, along with their largest bottle of baby lotion for $1.00. I used two 4-ounce jars of Vitamin E cream from Wal-Mart (2 in a pack for about $3.70). Then as the directions in both posts direct, I mixed them in a bowl to creamy pink froth with my hand mixer and scooped them into the empty containers and a plastic tub. For under $6.00, I have a healthy supply of lotion. The other recipes call for more Vaseline or Coconut oil, but the small jar of Vaseline  was enough--I think more would make it greasier than I would like.
Note: What a great, inexpensive Christmas gift this would make for your gal pals, sewers or otherwise!

And oh, do I LOVE it! It's rich and creamy and as I said before, I love the scent. It's silky and not greasy and sinks into the skin pretty quickly. I love the way my hands feel and the dryness is gone. Be sure to work it into your cuticles, too. I usually put it on my heels and the soles of my feet, put on a pair of socks, and my walking shoes and head out the door. There's usually enough left on my hands to work it in and sometimes up my arms. While I'm walking the fluff sinks into and nourishes my feet and hands, which were badly cracked and calloused when I started this regime. WHAT a DIFFERENCE. The dryness is gone, the cracks have disappeared, my callouses are shrinking, and my feet and hands are baby soft! This will part of my daily health and beauty routine for the rest of my life! I've never been one for using lots of lotions as I don't like the "slimy" feel they usually leave behind. Now I have the answer. When I'm sewing a lot, I use the lotion on my hands often during the day.

Biotin--It Works!
The other Pinterest-generated beauty tip that has worked for me is to take Biotin for your nails (and hair and skin). Although, my nails are still not as hard as I would like after taking it for a year, they are stronger and the peeling and cracking has all but stopped, unless I abuse my hands by not wearing gardening gloves--I just love to get my hands in the dirt! I take two 1,000 mcg tablets every day with my other vitamins (Biotin is one of the B vitamins). I think it also makes my hair more manageble and shinier (nhot sure if it has made much difference in my skin).

So here's two thumbs up to Pinterest, for providing a way to collect, categorize, and use information from the WEB! Some things I've tried haven't given the desired results, but these two are winners, for sure.

Until next time, keep smiling and sewing!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why I Love Craftsy!

I love Craftsy for so many reasons--and especially that I am selling patterns for my designs all over the world. I wish I had kept a list of all the places they've gone--South Africa, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Mexico, Great Britain, Canada, and Ireland are some that I can remember, but there are quilters and sewers in many other countries who are using my patterns. It's really very gratifying to know that your designs are appreciated worldwide--and that simply would not have happened without the venue created by Craftsy for independent designers like me to show and sell their patterns. They also have wonderful online classes to take!

I often send thank yous to my Craftsy customers and am sometimes rewarded with a lovely response, like the one from Joan Wium in South Africa. She purchased my Quilted Carryall tote bag pattern to embroider it for her entry in a competition offered by Hatched In Africa (they have lovely machine embroidery designs for download to use on your embroidery machine). Click on the photo and it will take you to my pattern store at Craftsy. 

Joan finished her totes for the competition and won in her category--and I can clearly see why. Her workmanship is outstanding--truly beautiful sewing, plus wonderful embroidery! Kudos to her. She shared these photos so I could share them with my readers.

Joan wrote these kind words in our e-mail correspondence.
"Well I just thought to let you know that I made my tote and I won the contest in my category! I loved to create the tote from scratch (even doing the quilting as we do not have much fabric  that is ready –quilted ). We had to make two totes –Plain and Fancy. I could select some designs from Hatched in Africa as my prize. They often have these contests to promote their gorgeous designs. Your pattern was really easy to follow and I had no problem sewing the tote."

By reaching out to Joan, I also received a lovely invitation: "I’ll really look forward to meeting you should you come to South Africa. I live in the capital of Limpopo Province, Polokwane and about two and a half hours from the Phalaborwa gate to the Kruger National Park."

You can be sure we will try to meet up with Joan when our travels take us to South Africa in a few years.
Thanks to Joan for the photos to share and for the invitation! If you have made a project from any of my patterns, I would love to see photos and to share them with other readers.

Til next time, keep on smiling and stitching!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Travel in Style

Summer vacation is just around the corner so it's a good time stitch up a new travel bag and travel accessories. I have several patterns for you to consider for your travel wardrobe.  

The Quilted Traveler's Tote
I think you'll love this pattern. Since the availability of quilted double-faced fabrics is very limited, you get to choose two fabrics you love—and then quilt your own double-faced fabric panels to make it. The quilting is really easy to do because you cut the bag pieces from the two fabrics and lightweight batting first, and then quilt the layers together. The pieces are cut oversize to allow for the natural "shrinkage" that occurs when you do the machine quilting. Of course, if you do find a quilted fabric you like, you can substitute it and eliminate the quilting steps. Cutting for already-quilted fabric is included in the directions.

Note: To keep bulk to a minimum, the bottom panel is interfaced only, and the pocket panels are quilted to a layer of cotton flannel, rather than to batting. When I first designed this bag, all the pieces were quilted, which made the side seams way too bulky. The re-engineered tote is easier to sew because some of the layers are thinner.

Yardage requirements are generous in this pattern, based on using a fabric that has 40" of usable width after preshrinking. You will cut the required pieces as if you are using a directional fabric. There will leftover fabric that you can use to stitch up coordinating small bags, like the Accessory Bag pattern you will find included in my Easy Breezy Padded Tote pattern.  
It's easy to make, using the quilt-as-you-go technique with stitch-and-flip construction. Use it for a cosmetic bag or for organizing small items inside your tote or suitcase.

Note: The Easy Breezy Padded Tote is sized to fit most laptops and has an interior pocket that will accommodate most e-readers. It's another great option for day-to-day or long-term travel. The coordinating accessory bag is perfect for the adaptor cord or for your small travel camera and cords.

You will love the Quilted Traveler's Tote because:

  • It's sized to fit in the overhead compartments on airplanes.
  • It has a zip-top closure so you can fill it to the max when traveling. Or, you can leave the zipper open if you want an open-top tote for carrying supplies to your favorite quilting class or when using it as a carryall for shopping or errands. 
  • One of the outside pockets features a zipper, making it a great place to stash your travel documents for safekeeping.
  • The outside pockets are divided into 3 pockets when you sew the straps in place. That gives you several places to tuck small items for easy access.
  • There is a hanging pocket inside the tote—another easy-access place for safe storage of small items.
  • The straps wrap all the way around the tote, making it very sturdy. I usually use 1"-wide cotton, polyester, or nylon webbing for my tote straps but the colors are limited. For this tote, webbing wasn't available in any color but white. When I got ready to stitch the white in place, it stood out like a sore thumb even though there is white in the print! Back to the fabric store I went, where I found the perfect 3/4"-wide green polyester grosgrain ribbon. I bought the same amount as the webbing and then stitched it in place on the white webbing. A bit of white shows at the edges and that's OK with me!
For the Perfect Companion Piece...
consider the Sew 'N' Go Sewer's Wallet. You can use it for travel documents, cash and change, your glasses, and other small items to keep close at hand when maneuvering the security lines at the airport. Wear it around your neck for easy access, and then tuck it into the pocket of your travel tote to keep it handy during the flight if needed. Multiple pockets on both sides make this pattern a real favorite with sewers and quilters traveling to quilt and sewing expos and to keep small tools handy during classes.

The Terrific Travel Tote
If you want a tote that is lighter in weight, try this pattern. It's very similar in style and features to the quilted version, but you can use any fabric--tapestry, leather, faux suede, outerwear fabrics, how dec prints--the possibilities are endless! This is the perfect tote to fold and pack in your suitcase for toting home your travel treasures. It will take less time to assemble, too, because you won't be quilting your own fabric pieces first!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

FREE pattern for Eyeglasses Case

I hate it when I have fabric leftovers--I'm not a scrap saver because I don't have a lot of storage space for fabrics. So, when I finished my new pattern for the Sew 'n' Go Quilted BeachMat Tote & Pillow and had scraps, I whipped up this little project. Most of the time one of the "sides" of double-faced quilted fabric is never seen, so I remedied that by using strips that featured both sides!

You can download free PDF pattern and purchase the as well as the BeachMat Tote PDF pattern at my pattern store at

The directions help you customize this design to fit any pair of glasses, from big, flirty sunglasses to your smaller readers. Just follow the measuring and cutting directions to make a case that fits your glasses to a T! I suggest you make it to fit your largest glasses to ensure that you can use it for all of favorite specs!

 You can also use scraps of medium-weight double-faced fabric--a coating woolen for example. You will need a scrap of a contrasting fabric for the binding and trim.

Hope you'll head over to my Craftsy store and take a look at all my sewing and quilting patterns. There are several other Free patterns there, along with all of my other quilts, totes, and accessories.

Happy stitching!

Make a BeachMat Tote & Pillow for Summer Days!

Ready for the Beach? Not quite? Maybe the weather isn't warm enough yet, but it will be soon. Get ready for it by making my newest pattern, the  Sew 'n' Go BeachMat Tote & Pillow. This oversize quilted tote has separating zippers on each short side. Just unzip them and unfold the ends for a colorful beach mat for lazy summer days. When the mat is  zipped and folded into the tote, you can tuck the small matching pillow inside, along with your reading materials and other larger items. Use the two outside pockets for other necessities--sunglasses, lotion, cell phone-you decide! The pattern is available at my Craftsy store as a downloadable PDF.

You can stitch this project in an evening and head to the beach the next day! Two zippers, binding, outside pockets, and straps, and your tote/mat is finished! Straight stitching and binding make quick work of the matching pillow.

The good news? Use quilted double-faced fabric for the speediest-ever project! Or quilt your own favorite fabrics together in panels--directions are included in the pattern for both versions!

Of course, you may think of other ways to use the tote. Even if you're not heading to beach, you can use it as a sunning mat in your backyard. Or use it as a soft cover to cushion a sun chair or lounger on your deck. You could even use it as tote for class supplies, including fabrics, a small cutting mat, rulers, and other necessities.

Finished Sizes
Tote: 16-1/2” tall x 24" wide
Unfolded into a Mat: 24" x 66"
Pillow: 14" x 20"

I hope you enjoy a sunny summer wherever you are. Grab your BeachMat Tote and head for a sunny spot to read and relax. Oh, and don't forget your sunscreen! 

Happy stitching and sunning!