Crocheting is something I like to do when I am too tired to sew or quilt.  Somewhere I saw a picture of someone using a pretty teapot to keep their ball of yarn in while crocheting.  What I make most are dish cloths and hot pads using Peaches ’n Creme 100% cotton yarn.  I started looking for a teapot with a large enough opening for a ball of my yarn.  I found plenty of pretty teapots, but none big enough.  Finally I found this Drip-O-lator coffee pot.  It is the perfect size!  Including the lid, it is 7” tall and the opening is 4-3/8” wide. Originally it would have come with an aluminum coffee “basket” that sat on top of the ceramic pot.  With grounds in the basket, you pour very hot water in, place the ceramic lid on top and the hot coffee drips into the pot.  Mine did not come with the coffee basket.  Check out the link below that tells about the Enterprise Aluminum Company that made these.  According to the article, these came into production as early as 1915.

Pictured are some of the things that came off my crochet hook. I got the pattern for the hot pad from Pinterest. A couple of the spool pin doilies from the internet. The others are my own creation. I found quite a few patterns for the dishcloths on the internet, but they didn’t work for me. Most of them were to bulky/heavy when wet, so I made my own pattern. If you have never tried crocheted dishcloths, you should. They work wonderfully. I keep at least 10 at all times so I can have a fresh one every time I do dishes. You do want to hang them somewhere to dry after using.

By |2019-08-23T14:56:59+00:00April 5th, 2019|Blog|0 Comments

Singer 401A at an Estate Sale

I found this Singer 401A at an estate sale last weekend.  They wanted $55 for it.  I plugged it in and it didn’t run.  But I could see that the wiring was jerry-rigged.  The machine is filthy, but will be cosmetically great once cleaned.  The cabinet is in bad shape and I probably won’t be keeping it.  Therefore, I need to buy a foot feed and a power cord to make it usable.  I decided I would take a chance on it for $20.  Not knowing if it works, I wasn’t willing to gamble anymore.


I got it home and used the cord and foot feed from another machine and found that it does work.  It came with the instruction manual and some attachments.  There were no cams with it, but I have extra sets because I pick them up anytime I find them at a reasonable price.  I got a surprise bonus with the attachments.  There is a rare Singer darning foot # 86294 in the attachment box.  It doesn’t fit a slant machine, but I have many low shank Singer machines.  This must be a very early darning foot.  To use it, you take off the needle clamp and replace it with this attachment.  It requires a feed dog cover.  I have it installed on a Singer 99 and will be testing it soon.


The cabinet doesn’t look too bad on the outside, but the inside is a mess.  Someone altered it to allow the 401 to fit in.  The veneer is a mess and the bracket that front the front drawer from falling down is gone.  I can and have done a lot of veneer work, but I have too many other projects waiting in line.


Taped to the inside of the arm was an old Hints from Heloise article.  I can see just fine to thread needles (with my glasses), but it is a great hint.

By |2019-08-23T14:56:32+00:00March 29th, 2019|Blog|0 Comments

Sophia’s Reading Pillow

A special little girl has a birthday tomorrow.  My great-niece Sophia will be 3-years-old.  She loves Minnie Mouse!


I got the idea of this reading pillow from a friend on FaceBook.  Luckily I found Minnie Mouse fabric coordinates, one at JoAnn Fabrics and the other from eBay.  I always prewash and dry my fabric just in case there is fading.  Also for the reason that I don’t like my fabrics to shrink after quilting.  I cut my fabric a little larger than I needed to allow for the shrinkage the quilting produces. I quilted all the pieces of fabric and used Soft and Stable in the quilt sandwich.  I don’t like floppy pillows so I thought that would be a good idea.  However, it made the pillow a little firmer than I would like.  Therefore, I didn’t make my pillow form as firm as I would have.  I make my own pillow forms using glazed batting that is about an inch thick.  This is the sort of polyester batting a professional upholster would use.  I use muslin or whatever I have on hand for the pillow form.  I put two pieces of the glazed batting into the form and make sure it is nice and smooth and pokes out well into the corners.  I then use scraps of polyester batting to fill in between the 2 full pieces of batting.  This way you get a smooth pillow with no lumps.  If I am using a non-quilted fabric for my outer pillow, I use 4 full pieces of batting with scraps of batting in the middle.  I put a zipper in the back to make it easy to remove the pillow form and wash the outer pillow.


Another idea I got from a friend is the way I quilted the fabric.  Instead of trying to quilt perfectly straight lines, I used a serpentine stitch.  I very lightly marked my quilting lines with my Sewline pencil and centered the line on my presser foot.  My Bernina 830 Record has the serpentine stitch built in, but it is tucked away in the closet.  I am most fond of my old Singers.  So I used my Singer 306 W and the flat cam # 20.  I had to experiment with the stitch length.  The longer the stitch length, the longer the “waves.”  I love quilting fabric this way.  It used to drive me crazy when I got off a little with my straight lines.  Thank you so much Jeanne!


I tucked a cute Minnie Mouse book into the pocket on the pillow.  I hope she enjoys it as much as I did making it.

By |2019-08-23T14:55:18+00:00December 14th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

Estate Sale find of the Day

My find of the day this week is this Singer Featherweight tray, Singer Zigzagger attachment with extra stitch patterns and various feet.
I can’t imagine why someone would separate the Featherweight tray from the machine case. I will probably need it someday. The zigzagger is like new with the instruction book. The feet / attachments include a ruffler, slotted binder, gathering foot, adjustable hemmer, rolled hem foot and backside seam guide. I like to keep a separate set of feet with each machine I own, so these will come in handy.

By |2019-08-23T14:54:46+00:00December 8th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

Getting Started With Your First Quilt.

Getting Started With Your First Quilt.

Here is what you should have at hand

So you’re ready to get started with your first quilt but you have no idea where to start. Below is a list of some basic quilting tools you will need to get started in your quilting journey.

Singer 15-91 Sewing Machine

1) Sewing Machine – It goes without saying, but if you are going to hand stitch your quilts you will not need a machine. There are many brands of sewing machines on the market. I personally love my Singer 15/91 and one of my Singer Featherweights. But to start off, remember, you will need a machine that can sew straight stitches. You don’t need tons of different stitches until maybe later, maybe never. It all depends on the level you want to take your quilting. You will want to make sure of two things. One: does your machine have either a 1/4 inch foot attachment or marking for the 1/4 inch? This is the most popular stitch in quilting. Two: does your machine have a walking foot? The walking foot allows you feed bulky items through or even machine quilt.

2) Rotary Cutter – Whoever invented a rotary cutter was brilliant. When I took my first sewing lesson (back when the dinosaurs roamed), there were only scissors. UGH! If you ever use scissors for long, you understand how your thumb will hurt from the pressure of the finger holes. You don’t experience that with a rotary cutter. You will definitely want a rotary cutter, because it quickly lets you cut your strips, blocks, etc. You will save a ton of time and energy than if you use scissors. Don’t forget a rotary cutter sharpener. There are a few on the market for you to choose from. There are many sizes and varieties out


Rotary cutter on measure mat close up

there in rotary cutters. You will soon find the ones that work best for you. For me, I prefer the Olfa Rotary Cutter, 45mm. What I found when I used the smaller (28mm) is that I didn’t have as much control. But when I used the 60mm, I found it to be too big and bulky and still didn’t have as much control. I like the Olfa because the blade retracts automatically, less chance of cutting yourself. What I would suggest is that you go to your local quilt shop and ask them to try their rotary cutters. You don’t need to cut fabric, just feel it in your hand and practice on their cutting mats.

3) Rotary Mat – Rotary mats are great for cutting out your projects. They protect the surface you cut on and they are made of self-healing material, which means they don’t make grooves. They also help keep your blades sharp, which means less time sharpening your rotary cutter or replacing blades. When I use my mat, I turn it over and use the back side without the numbers. I do this because I have found some mats don’t have straight lines. For convenience I use a large one at home, it is 36″ x 24″ . You probably will want a smaller mat for classes. Choose a size that fits easily into your quilting tote if you will be taking classes.

4) Rotary Rulers – What can I say about rotary rulers? Without them, you wouldn’t be able to cut and square your projects or create special blocks and quilts. They are used to grip your fabric and a act as a
guide for your cutters, also a place for your hand to rest so you don’t cut your fingers. At home I keep a 6″ x 24″ Ominigrid ruler around for most projects. This ruler is great for cutting out your bigger pieces
of fabric. I use a 15″ Omnigrid square for squaring up blocks up to 15″. I also use this for squaring up my quilt after it has been quilted. A small 6″ square ruler on my cutting area makes it easier to square up or cut smaller pieces. With these three rulers, you will be able to cut most projects. If you only buy one, I would strongly suggest the 15 inch square. You can do most projects with this one ruler.

5) Iron Board – Most of us already have an iron and ironing board. Chances are what you already have will work just fine. Just remember as you iron any of your pieces to press with an up and down motion, instead of ironing back and forth. If you use steam, be very careful you are dealing with raw edges of fabric and bias edges. Be gentle with your strips, blocks, and fabric. There is an iron to hit the market. It is a mini iron by Dritz. You can adjust the handle so you can get into tiny spaces and press the smallest of areas. This iron is priced at $39.99, but I have found Amazon has some for as low as $25.89. So if you are in the market you can check it out here. This is a great deal. Petite Press Portable Iron. If you do have to purchase an iron for home, look for one that is fairly heavy. I use Rowenta and it has some heft, which is great for helping with the pressing. There is also a specially designed ironing board for quilters called a Big Board. This is square without the narrower end and makes it easier to press fabrics and your quilt tops and even has grid lines to make sure your strips and blocks are lined up correctly.

6) Fabric Scissors & Paper Scissors – I know it sounds crazy. But you really will want to have two different scissors. If you cut your paper with your fabric scissors, it makes them dull. So you will need ONG>one pair just for your quilting projects and one pair for your paper cutting projects. I would advise marking these scissors, either with a tag, or permanent marker on the handle or blade so you will know that you use these for your paper projects ONLY. For quilting projects, I recommend Gingher scissors. These stay sharp forever and are true workhorses.Sewing supplies our grandmother
7) Pins & Needles – When I started quilting I really didn’t realize there was more than one type of pin available. But, wow, they have every kind imaginable. You will want long straight pins. I like the ones with the flower heads. They lay flat on your fabric and are easier to avoid melting them with your iron. If you will be ironing your pins, you will want to get glass head ones. They will not melt on to your work. Don’t forget the pin cushion. There are millions of them out there or you could make your own. When you are sewing with a machine, there are many sizes of needles to get. Make sure to get the ones recommended by your sewing manufacturer. I find Schmetz 75/11 Universal needles work great for ost of all the projects. If you are planning on sewing thick or bulky fabric you will want to get a Jeans needle. For metallic threads you will want to use a Metallica needle. So for whatever material you are sewing other than cotton, make sure to use the right needle for the project. Follow your sewing machine manufacturer’s directions.

The next step will be to find an easy quilting pattern that appeals to you.

By |2019-07-30T06:13:16+00:00December 5th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

Quilting is addictive – welcome to the club.

Quilting is addictive – welcome to the club. You will need:

1. Rotary cutter – I recommend a 45mm blade. It’s small enough to handle some curves, but large enough to go through a lot of fabric. Once you’re sure you want to continue quilting, get some spare blades and change them as soon as you notice that it isn’t cutting through fabric effectively. Be very careful when using a rotary cutter – it’s essentially a round razor blade. If you lightly bump the blade, you will draw blood. Get a cutter that has a built in safety feature, and get in the habit of using it. I like Olfa’s curved one because you squeeze the grip to expose the blade, and when you let go, the blade is covered. You can also lock the cover into place.Rotary Cutter

2. Self healing mat – Buy the biggest one you can afford and have space for. I like by 24″ x 36″ mat, and I also use an 18″ x 24″ when I’m taking classes. Be sure to get the thin green, blue, pink or purple one (depending on brand) NOT the thick white plastic ones. They bog down your fabric and cutter. I prefer to use the back of the mat – the measuring lines just get in my way. I use the ruler for measuring and squaring the fabric.

3. Acrylic ruler – You need at least two – a short one that is easy to maneuver and a long one that you can cut strips from the width of fabric. I prefer a 6″ x 12″ and a 3″ x 18″, but most people like a 6″ x 24″ for the long one. Make sure you can see the markings on both light and dark fabrics. At least one of them should have diagonals marked – at least a 45 degree and a 30 degree, and preferably a 60 degree as well. You may not use these now, but you won’t have to buy another ruler later. They must have at the very least a clear 1/4″ marking and a 1/8″ “dot.” I prefer a ruler that has a 1/8″ grid in one corner (or all over if I can find it). When you measure, always measure to the outside of the marking line, not the inside or center. Some rulers come with a non-slip surface (Omnigrip) or you can buy a roll of clear plastic (Invisigrip) that you can cut and apply to the back of your existing rulers. You can also use little sandpaper discs with adhesive on the back.

4. Fabric – Start with 100% cotton, and buy the best quality you can afford. If you have a local quilt shop, see if they have a clearance section. Not only can you get first quality fabrics for nearly half price, the limited selection forces you to try colors that you might not otherwise have chosen. It’s good to stay out of ruts. If you like scrappy quilts, fat quarters are a good way to get a lot of different fabrics. If you like more planned color schemes, buy yardage. Watch for sales to acquire backing fabric. Value (light and dark) is more important than color. We gravitate toward the pretty fabrics in the middle values, but for a quilt to really sparkle, you need to include light and dark fabrics as well. quilting fabric

5. Thread – again, use 100% cotton for the piecing. Cotton (thread) against cotton (fabric) wears better. If you use a synthetic thread and make an heirloom quilt, the thread could damage the fabric and destroy the quilt. Use the thinnest thread you can find for piecing (I like 50/2). This helps keep your seams accurate. Every hair counts. If your seams are off just 1/8″ and you have eight squares in a row, the row will be off 1″. You don’t need to match your thread to the fabric color, just the fabric value. If you have white, black, cream, and gray you can handle just about any fabric. “Match” your thread to the lighter fabric. When you quilt the top, batting and backing together, you’ll probably want a slightly thicker thread (40/3 works great, and can also be used for piecing if you like). This doesn’t HAVE to be cotton, but many quilters still prefer it.

6. Scissors – you need both a larger pair to cut fabric, although you won’t use it very much unless you get into paper piecing or hand work, and a smaller pair for cutting thread. I love my spring handled large scissors. They’re comfortable for lefties and they open by themselves, which reduces a lot of strain on the hand. My small scissors have very large finger openings and are comfortable to hold. Both of mine are by Fiskars. You can also try thread nippers for the smaller scissors.Sewing supplies our grandmother

7. Pins – get the longest, finest pins you can find. A glass head is nice if you plan to iron with the pins in (plastic will melt). A large flat flower head pin is nice to avoid distortion when sewing, plus they’re easier to find on the floor.

8. Hand sewing needles – you’ll need this for the binding. I prefer a long fine “straw” needle, but most people use sharps for piecing. Betweens are for quilting.

9. Seam ripper – this will be your best friend. Rather than “ripping” the seam, cut every third or fourth stitch and pull it all apart. It’s faster and less messy, especially if you use a piece of tape to remove the cut threads from the fabric.

10. Blue painters tape – yes, I consider this an essential. When you sew your scant 1/4″ seam, you should not be watching the needle – by the time the fabric is at the needle, it’s too late to correct anything. Instead, you should watch about an inch or two before the needle. You can measure your seam by using an index card with a 1/4″ line. Put the needle down through the line and make sure it’s straight. Draw a pencil line on your machine bed along the edge of the card. This is your 1/4″. Use the painters tape to make a fabric guide. Cut through several layers of tape on the roll, peel it back and cut off a section that is at least 1″ long. Place this on the bed of your machine along the 1/4″ mark you just made. Now just butt your fabric up against this guide when you sew your seams. With this guide it doesn’t even matter if you have a 1/4″ foot on your machine (although they are handy).

11. Instruction books – I really consider a couple of good instruction books to be essential. You can find a lot of information online, but it’s worth the extra to get a couple of really good books. I recommend Start Quilting with Alex Anderson for your beginner book. It’s on Amazon and it’s a skinny little book that teaches you six basic blocks. I also recommend a reference book called The Quilter’s Ultimate Visual Guide. It doesn’t have patterns but it does answer nearly every question you’ll ever have. Spend a little extra (just a couple of dollars) and take your books to a copy center (Kinkos, Staples, Office Max, etc.) and have them cut off the binding and put on a spiral binding. This way you can fold your book back to the page you want, or open it flat.

12. Courage – Don’t let anyone say you can’t make a quilt the way you want to make it. It’s great to learn the traditional methods, but some of the most incredible quilts have come from people saying, “What if I did it this way instead?” hand quilting
13. Inspiration – Use the internet to find photos of quilts that inspire you. It can be about the color choices, the patterns, the style – whatever you like. Use magazine ads to help you with color choices. Keep a file of interesting ads – you’d be surprised at what the professionals put together. I have a fantastic quilt in dark purple and lime green that I never would have chosen on my own. Check out internet sites that have quilting videos. Join one or more Yahoo Groups that are about quilting. Try Quilter’s Cache for free, amazing block patterns. (You’re going to love this site.) Also check out their tutorials.
14. Patience – You aren’t going to make a perfect quilt the first time. Enjoy the process, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward.


By |2019-07-30T06:13:11+00:00December 4th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

Singer Sewing Skills

I love to collect everything Singer.  I found this “Singer Sewing Skills” project material stuffed inside a sewing machine drawer in an old barn.  It was available to “class members only” for a whopping $2.95.  It has a picture of the beloved 301 Singer on it. The envelope was dated 1954.  It came with a reference book dated 1955 for 95 cents.  There are 6 lessons in the package and the person this belonged to only finished two lessons.


The six little wax paper packages contain the fabric for the lessons.  The first lesson even included paper to practice following stitching lines without thread.  That seems pretty basic to us who have years of experience.  But I can just imagine how much excitement it was for a first time seamstress.  She probably bought herself or was gifted a Singer machine.  During those days, most young girls took Home Economics in school and learned how to sew.  In my thinking most women that took the classes  at the Singer Centers were probably housewives wanting to sew for their family.

By |2019-08-23T14:57:26+00:00November 16th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

My Singer Tote Bag

Here is another project I can’t take total credit for, but I did make it.  If you have ever been to the International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX, you know there are hundreds of vendors there with the most awesome products for sale.  In recent years, they don’t allow any type of roller cart on the showroom floor.  It gets so crowded and I’m sure people have tripped over the carts in the past.  Therefore, you are packing all your purchases in some type of bag.  You can check your purchases in for a fee, which is a good idea.  However, I am so busy shopping  and there is such a huge of amount of ground to cover, I don’t want to leave my path.  A lot of vendors give away large bags for your purchases.  One company gave away a cross-body bag made of the type of fabric most grocery store shopping bags you purchase are made from.  It was a back saver, much better than a back pack.  My clever friend Jeanne took hers apart and made a pattern so we could make one from fabric and wonderful Soft and Stable.


I bought this Singer fabric at the quilt show with no idea what I would use it for until Jeanne came up with the bag idea.

As with other quilted projects, I pre-washed my fabrics and cut my fabric larger than I needed.  I sandwiched the outside fabric, Soft and Stable and lining fabric which is also a Singer fabric.  I quilted diagonally following the design of the fabric.  I used the “Jeanne” (my friend) method of quilting using a Serpentine stitch rather than a straight line.  It takes the stress out of quilting.  No worries about whether or not your lines are perfectly straight.  I then cut out all the components of the bag and sewed it all together.  All the inside seams around covered with binding.  I like to sew the first side (outside) on the machine and then hand sew the inside.  This is the same as when you bind a quilt.




Magnetic fastener for the top of the bag

Large inside zipper pocket

Large outer pocket on one side

Small pockets on each end of the bag

Adjustable strap – soft but firm strap purchased from

Cushy comfy shoulder pad

Firm bottom of fabric covered corrugated plastic

Super spacious on the inside

Due to the Soft and Stable from it has body and stands up nicely


With the leftover scraps I made a little zipper bags for the small bits I buy at the quilt show.  I am already for the next show.  If you have never been, it is well worth the time and effort to go.  You see products there you will see nowhere else.  The quilts are always over the top gorgeous.  Plan on staying a few days.  There is way too much to see in one day.  Three days are perfect.

By |2019-08-23T14:53:20+00:00November 15th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments

Camo Dog Bed

I just finished this dog bed for my son’s 4-5 lb. little fur baby, Chico.  He is a mix and was supposed to be mostly Chihuahua, but as he got older, he looks like a little old Scottish man.  I am thinking mostly some type of terrier.  I don’t have him here to “model” his new bed.  But there is plenty of room for him to root around and stay warm.  I have seen these for sale.  However, it was a must that Chico’s bed was made from camouflage.  I drafted the pattern and here is what I hope Chico will love.

Update:  He LOVES his bed!

By |2019-07-30T06:13:22+00:00November 9th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments


I just finished this dog bed for my son’s 4-5 lb. little fur baby, Chico.  He is a mix and was supposed to be mostly Chihuahua, but as he got older, he looks like a little old Scottish man.  I am thinking mostly some type of terrier.  I don’t have him here to “model” his new bed.  But there is plenty of room for him to root around and stay warm.  I have seen these for sale.  However, it was a must that Chico’s bed was made from camouflage.  I drafted the pattern and here is what I hope Chico will love.



1/11/19 Update. Chico loves his new bed!  My son texted me this picture:

By |2019-08-23T14:59:02+00:00November 9th, 2018|Blog|0 Comments