This morning I had the pleasure of teaching a paper piecing class called Spinning Windmills. One of the things I enjoy the most about teaching are the amazing people I meet in my classes. Today I met the most remarkable women and they were awesome students who were all quite proficient paper piecers by the end of our class.
As we were sewing, we had such a fun time visiting. I mentioned that I had celebrated my birthday the previous day and Dollie said, oh my goodness, that’s nothing, I just celebrated my 90th birthday.
She went on to share stories about her life and how at the age of 50 she was suddenly a widow with an 11 year old daughter to raise. Prior to the loss of her husband, she had stayed home to raise her other 4 children. In a freak accident, her husband was electrocuted a few years prior to his death and this prompted Dollie to go back to school to become a teacher. She confirmed that was one of the best decisions she ever made because it gave her a means to support herself when her husband passed. She never complained and said she just “had to do what I had to do.” She taught full-time for many years and upon retirement, continued to substitute teach until she was 80. At one point, she proceeded to list off the names of her children and grand children and great grandchildren, along with many of their accomplishments. She, indeed, was/is a very proud grandmother.
Dollie lives in Buhl, Idaho and still drives to do her grocery shopping, hair appt., etc. She lived alone for many years, but now enjoys the company of her granddaughter, Sarah, who is also a teacher.
Dollie was accompanied by her daughter, Debbie, who she taught to sew. They share a passion for quilting and learning new things. It was so much fun to see them work together and talk through the construction of their block as I reviewed the step-by-step paper piecing process with them.
In no time at all they had completed their first block – such a great team effort. They shared they try to learn new techniques often and take a lot of classes together.
Debbie is very proud of her mother and the amazing role model she is for her and her family. I’m still smiling as I reminisce about the delightful time I spent visiting with Dollie. She truly is an inspiration. It was so much fun to get to know her, along with the rest of the class and I hope to see this amazing duo in one of my future classes or to share a cup of coffee sometime.
Thanks again Dollie and Debbie for coming to Boise to take my class. It was a genuine pleasure meeting you both!
(Note: I was given permission by Dollie to share some of her story and I hope I have done it justice.)
It’s always so much fun to be able to personalize a gift for someone special…
Last week when I joined our granddaughter, Eloise, for lunch at her school cafeteria, she showed me her “wiggly tooth”. She asked if I would make her a tooth fairy pillow and when I agreed, I inquired what she would like to have on her pillow. She thought a moment and then said a ballerina, which was a good choice because she loves her ballet classes. After several minutes had passed she added, “and a basketball” as she played her first season of Y basketball this winter and enjoyed it very much.
I had a ballerina embroidery design in mind, one that I had purchased from Urban Threads earlier this year. After reviewing the design, I was certain it would be the perfect candidate for her pillow. To simplify the ballerina, I removed the background from the original design in my embroidery software. Next, I inserted a basketball design and reduced it to be the proper proportion to the ballerina. My goal was to make it look as though the ballerina was shooting the basketball into the small pocket that was stitched onto the pillow for the tooth/money exchange.
To personalize the pillow, I digitized Eloise’s signature and placed it under the tooth pocket; I used a variegated lavender and purple thread because her favorite color is purple.
The finishing touch was to add one of my “Nana Loves You” labels to the back of the pillow.
Later that afternoon, I delivered the pillow to my daughter (at her work) so that Eloise would be ready for the tooth fairy’s arrival when her “wiggly tooth” came out.
I got a phone call from Eloise in the evening and she was very pleased with her new tooth fairy pillow and anxious to use it for her “wiggly tooth”.
This rainy, spring weather has provided some perfect sewing days in the studio. What projects have you been working on? I would love to hear about them.
Earlier this year, my daughter, Alecia, recruited me to help with our grandchildren’s grade school’s annual fundraiser. She and another friend/Mom, Erica, and Erica’s Mom, Ann, and I met at a local coffee shop to brainstorm what we could make. Ann said she would like to help me with this year’s quilt and I welcomed the company.
We reviewed various ideas and were inspired by a piece the Russian artist, Wassily Kandinsky, painted called Color Study, Squares with Concentric Circles, which he painted in 1913.
We thought it would be a fun idea to work with the children to create a quilt that would somewhat replicate the colors and designs from this very famous work of art.
Originally, I thought we could freehand machine appliqué the circles and then I discovered a digitized appliqué pattern from Bella Nona I could use on my embroidery machine. I made some adjustments to the designs in my embroidery software; namely, eliminating one of the circles of the designs so that we would have 4 circles of color (like Kandinsky’s Color Study). I also replaced the decorative stitches with a wider satin stitch for the outer rings.
The next step was to put together a palette of fabrics. Ann and I went to Quilt Crossing and used a mixture of Kaffe Fassett’s beautiful prints, some grunge fabrics as well as a variety of batik fabric.
Next , we visited the classroom and worked with the children to build swatch bundles of the fabrics they wanted to use for each of their blocks and also used larger swatches to determine our background colors.
When we met with the children, we explained who Wassilly Kandinsky was and they were eager to talk about his works of art. The children were particularly excited by the bright colors we chose for the quilt. They each contemplated as to what color swatches would be incorporated into their individual block. We labeled the blocks to keep them in order.
Now it was time for the construction of the quilt. I built a matrix to show the different sizes of squares we would need to cut for all the various blocks. Ann referred to this as she began to cut the fabric squares. Ann backed each fabric square with Heat n’ Bond Lite to give it more body. Then the various sizes of the fabric squares were stacked in order of the children’s swatches.
Ann and I had a fun time visiting as I sewed the individual blocks together. We had a good system as Ann would prepare the fabrics in order of the color swatches, while I sewed each block together. I would continue to work on the leftover fabric stacks in the evenings to insure we could progress to the next set of blocks in our next work session.
Every child also signed a notecard with his/her signature and I digitized these names in my embroidery software. I added this as the final touch so we could identify each of the children’s blocks with their actual signature.
Block by block, a preview of what the finished quilt was going to look like emerged on my design wall. Finally, it was time for me to begin to sew the blocks together. It was so much fun to see our plan come to life.
Once the blocks were sewn together, I added on a black border to frame the quilt. Ann and I visited the classroom again to show the children the progress on their quilt. They loved all their blocks and the brilliant colors we used and were very excited! I also explained the remaining steps that were required to finish their quilt including, sandwiching the quilt front and back (with batting in between), pinning and quilting the three layers and then binding the quilt.
Now it was time to pin baste the quilt and we were grateful to use the Quilt Crossing’s classroom as a workplace because we could spread out. That evening, I quilted around each of the blocks and the quilt was now ready for the final steps.
The following afternoon, I showed Ann how I put my bindings on by machine, for a nice finished look. We also talked about a label for the quilt and decided on the content for the label. I designed a label in my software and stitched it out and then hand stitched it to the back of the quilt.
Ta Dah!!! The quilt was finished. We were so pleased with the final result and anxious to turn it in for the Spring fundraiser for the school.
This has been such a fun project to make for the Kindergarten class. I so appreciate Ann’s help and company as she prepped the squares, while I did the sewing – we were a great team! Of course, we are all anxious to see how the quilt will be accepted at the fundraiser, which will be covered in a future blog!
This rainy weather is a great time to be sewing. What projects have you been working on lately?
Every once in a while, I get a special request from one of our grandchildren to help them with a project.
Our granddaughter, Belen, was assigned to lead her troop in an exercise that she planned and orchestrated. She and her Mom put together an orienteering exercise and Belen led the troop through the exercise. She wanted to have a small gift for each of the troop members at the end of the exercise and asked me if I could make something for them. We discussed various options for a gift and she chose some custom made barrettes – one for each troop member. Nana (aka me) was pleased to help her.
I enjoy making barrettes on my embroidery machine. Years ago, I purchased several Snap Clip Cover in-the-hoop designs from GG Designs . I love to make special custom snap barrettes from this design that match the occasion either in fabric color, special theme, etc.
Belen and I decided to put “Happy Trails” on her barrettes with a flower to dot the “i” in trails. I digitized the final design in my embroidery software. For this barrette design, I duplicated my design in my embroidery software 15 times so that the end result would be 16 completed barrettes. The next step was to send the design to my embroidery machine and stitch it out.
When the top part of the barrette design was completely stitched out, I pinned the second layer of felt to the back of the hooped design. The machine stitched out a final outline stitch that secured the backside felt to the front of the barrettes and completed the barrette designs.
Since the snap clip cover design from GG Designs is essentially a blank clip, you can virtually decorate it any way you like.
Once the stitching was finished, I carefully trimmed around each barrette and made a small slit on the backside of the barrettes.
Next step was to insert the snap clips into the slit on the backside of the barrettes and PRESTO – you have a custom made barrette!
I printed out a message from Belen that I glued to several small note cards. Then I punched a hole in the 16 notecards so I could place a finished snap clip onto the top of each card.
In just a few hours, I was able to complete 16 personalized barrettes for Belen’s Brownie Troop. Of course, I had a lot of help from our new puppy, Toby, who was eager to assist with each step along the way!
I was anxious to deliver the finished barrettes to Belen at her school so she could share them with her friends when they completed her project.
The good news is they were very pleased with Belen’s orienteering exercise as well as her gift of the “Happy Trails” barrettes, which they are all modeling in the above picture.
What a fun opportunity to help Belen with her project! What have you been sewing lately? This rainy, cold weather is perfect for sewing projects. I would love to hear about them.
Our Mother, Hazel Margaret Johnson, was a registered nurse. A profession that she was extremely proud of and one she was a very good at. As a child, I loved to watch her prepare for work, putting on her white dress, white nylons and starched nurse cap. It was a site to behold – she looked so professional and I was so proud!
One of the things I inherited from her was a monogrammed pair of her bandage scissors, which I was very pleased to own.
A couple weeks ago, our niece and Goddaughter, Morgan, finished her nursing school. There was a traditional pinning ceremony scheduled in Fargo, ND to recognize Morgan and her fellow nursing graduates. We would have loved to attend, but due to weather and road conditions, we were unable to do so. Instead, I decided to gift Morgan my mother’s scissors. It seemed like the appropriate time to pass them on and I’m pretty sure my Mom would be pleased with this decision. I also felt that Morgan would recognize and appreciate this gift as she has many fond memories of Grandma Johnson.
In order to present the gift appropriately, I felt I needed to make a case for the scissors and also wanted to make an apron, now that she should have a bit more time to spend in the kitchen.
We recently received a beautiful nursing print at the Quilt Crossing and I felt it would be the perfect fabric for her gifts.
I also found a “love and hugs” fabric for the trim of her apron. The designs are batiked, so a little off grain, but it worked well to trim the nursing fabric and had the right sentiment.
I purchased an “in-the-hoop” scissors case embroidery design online. This design was for a 4″ scissors, so I stretched the length of the design 3″ in my embroidery software to make it longer to accommodate the bandage scissors. I hooped the stabilizer, then floated the front of the scissors case on top of the stabilizer. Next I carefully positioned the lining fabric in place.
I embroidered Morgan’s name to the flap of the scissors case and found the perfect button for the loop closure in my collection of antique buttons. The case was finished!
Now it was time to make the apron, using my Anna’s Apron pattern. I loved how the trim finished the edges of the apron and made it “pop”! Soon the apron was complete!
Last, but not least I wrote Morgan a letter telling her about my mother’s bandage scissors and congratulating her on her accomplishments.
The items were packaged up for shipment at UPS and they were on their way, with a guarantee that they would arrive in time for her pinning ceremony.
A few days later, I received word the package arrived safely. There was a wonderful celebration for Morgan and I felt like we were a part of it, although remotely. The next day, Morgan called to thank me for the gifts – she was delighted and touched! A couple days after that, my brother sent me this picture of beautiful Morgan in her apron.
We’re so very proud of Morgan and so pleased for her… and I think that her Grandma Hazel is also smiling and that too warms my heart.
Hope you had a wonderful New Years and “Happy 2017!”
Over the years, I have made all our family members a stocking for our mantle. These were all made by hand appliqué, which I enjoy, but it can be somewhat time consuming. This year we had some new folks who helped us celebrate Christmas and I wanted each of them to have their own special stocking. I was concerned that I would not have enough time to complete 3 hand stitched stockings with all the other holiday demands, so I decided to design and machine embroider the new stockings for the mantle.
The first step was to find embroidery designs that were relevant to David, Liam and Sam. I spent some time researching what was available at the various design sites and found three designs that I thought would work well.
Once I found the relevant designs, I added some text and designed the stocking front in my embroidery software.
When I was satisfied with the overall design size and orientation, I printed out a preview of the design. This enabled me to get an idea of just how large the design would be and it also helped me to place the designs exactly where I wanted them to be on the front of each stocking.
Next. I hooped a tear-away stabilizer in the hoop and then floated the stocking front on top of the tear away stabilizer. I pinned the stocking front to the stabilizer, being careful to pin outside of the stitch area. Then I stitched out the designs, following the thread order that was shown on the preview of the design printouts.
I repeated this process for each stocking front until all three stockings were embroidered.
It was fun to see them “come to life” as I stitched them and I love using the wool felt as a background for these stockings.
Once the fronts of the 3 stockings were completed, I carefully removed each from the hoop and gently tore away the stabilizer. Next, I machine appliquéd the toe, heel and top accent pieces with a blanket stitch. I placed each stocking front on top of the felt that was being used for the stocking backs and stitched around the outside edge of each stocking.
Finally, I carefully trimmed about 1/8″ from the blanket stitching to cut out the back for each stocking. Note: I did this after I had stitched around the stockings as this gave me a firmer, more stable background to stitch on.
I was very pleased with the end results. Each stocking truly represented the interests of Liam, Sam and David. Here are close-ups of each stocking.
I like how the stockings fit so well with the other stockings I had on the mantle.
But the best part of all was to see how excited the boys were to discover their stockings and, of course, what was in them.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish you the very best in the New Year. Happy 2017!!!
For Thanksgiving this year, I wanted to make a little something special that everyone could participate in and thought it would be fun to make a Family Thanksgiving Tree.
In the past, I had used a design from Embroidery Online called Heart Tree for a cover of one of my noteworthy notebooks. This embroidery design is available on the website and stitches out beautifully.
(Note: If you own a Bernina 580, this design comes as a free embroidery design on your machine.) I enlarged the design in my embroidery software so that it filled the center of a small framed bulletin board..
Using my large jumbo embroidery hoop, I chose to stitch the design on a large piece of cream colored felt. I hooped a cutaway stabilizer and floated the felt to the stabilizer, securing the felt to the stabilizer with a few pins that were placed outside the stitch area of the design.
One of the fun features about this design is that you can easily alter the colors of the design by not only taking advantage of the thread changes called for in the design, but I also randomly added a few additional colors to give the tree a fall look.
I also added the text, “in everything give Thanks to the top of the design, varying the size of the top and second lines of text.
To make it easy to attach the leaves, I
centered the felt on a small bulletin board and used a few small appliqué pins to hold the felt in place. I also used some remnants from a log cabin quilt I made last year and pinned the assorted strips around the edge of the felt to create a temporary border.
The next step was to cut out an assortment of blank leaves from some brown, orange, yellow and green construction paper. These were put in a small bowl with several pens. Towards the end of our Thanksgiving meal, the bowl was passed around and everyone wrote something they were thankful for and the children and I pinned the leaves to the tree.
It really was a fun and relatively quick project to make and everyone enjoyed sharing something they were thankful for and we all agreed, we are so blessed.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you made something for Thanksgiving, I would love to hear about it.
One of my favorite things about Fall is Halloween. Each year I help to create a costume for our granddaughters and this year was especially fun.
Belen wanted to do be a 1950’s Rock n’ Roller and asked if I could make her a “Scottie Skirt”outfit/costume.
Eloise wanted to be an archer/warrior.
I was pleased to find the perfect pattern for Belen from the Simplicity pattern company. It has instructions for 3 styles of skirts, including a Scottie Dog skirt. I also made a red chiffon neck scarf and embroidered her Monogram on the front of the blouse
I added a polka dot bias trim for the leash that meandered down the front of the skirt from the waistline to the Scottie dog appliqué.
I used my embroidery machine to machine embroider the appliquéd Scottie dog. The satin stitched edge around the dog gave the finished appliqué a very nice clean finish.
The last thing I stitched for Belen were a pair of Scottie Dog barrettes, which completed her outfit.
However, the finishing touches were the bobby socks I finally found at Designer Shoe Warehouse and then the adorable Saddle Shoes that Alecia found online. They really were the frosting on the cake!
Eloise had a picture of the type of costume she wanted to have so she could be an archer/warrior.
I found a Simplicity pattern that I could use for the tunic, leggings and arm bands for Eloise’s costume.
For the capelet, I made up my own pattern by drawing a large circle on some drafting paper and cutting two pieces of brown velour and sewing them together, using one piece to line the inside of the capelet. Next, I cut out a long strip of fake fur fabric and folded it to create a trim that I could sew around the edge of the capelet. I measured the hooded section on Eloise’s head and sewed a button and elastic ring on opposite sides so that she could use the button to bring both sides of the capelet’s hood together to wear it.
When Eloise saw a picture of the progress I was making with her costume, she was so excited that she giggled out loud. When she got to try it on for the first time, she went into character as soon as she had it on!
After she donned the armbands, she went into immediate “warrior action” and was ready for battle. I was also informed, when I asked her to smile, that warriors don’t smile! She plans to wear little leather boots with her costume that she didn’t have on for these pics.
The girls came by for a final try-on earlier this week and they could hardly contain themselves. That is what makes it so worth it to make their costumes each year. It is so much fun and I feel so very blessed to have two such beautiful little living dolls to dress!
Hope you are enjoying this amazing fall weather and that you have a very Happy Halloween!
P.S – Here are a few photos from Halloween night… they had a good time Trick n’ Treating!
Now that the weather is turning cooler, we will be spending more time indoors. That also gives the opportunity to dress up a bit for a special evening. I have been making clutch purses from a pattern called Modern Clutch by Pink Sand Beach Designs. Here’s an example of one of them.
This purse has a black silk dupioni exterior with a cotton lining. I also added a J Monogram to personalize it. It’s so easy to transform the look of the bag by your fabric choice and/or adding a bit of embroidery.
What really impresses me about this bag is the roomy interior.
They have been so much fun to make and I will be offering a class at the Quilt Crossing called the Modern Clutch Bag. If you are interested, just click on the link to register and you too can make your very own personalized clutch purse.
I hope you can join us! It will be a fun class.
I trust you are enjoying this amazing Fall weather.
When I was a little girl, I loved to visit my Grandma Magdalena’s house. I was always fascinated by her latest sewing projects. She instilled a love of sewing in me and one of my favorite things to look through were her buttons.
Now I have my own button collection and am fortunate that it includes a few of my grandmother’s buttons that were in her treadle sewing machine that I have. They, of course, are my most treasured buttons and have their own special keeping place and once in a while, are used on a very special project. However, I also have collected additional buttons over the years and they are stored in my mother’s old cookie jar.
The interesting thing is, guess what our granddaughters love to play with… yes, you guessed, my button collection. They are fascinated with my buttons and will painstakingly look through them to determine if there is a mate to a button they like.
This summer I have enjoyed watching them every Monday and we usually have a few projects/activities when we are together. It has been a very fun summer and it’s hard to believe school starts this next week.
One Monday last month, Eloise and I had an entire day together because Belen was at a Writer’s Camp. Eloise asked if she could play with my button jar and was keen to find several favorites. I told her I would make her a button bracelet, but she found too many buttons for a bracelet, so we decided to make her a bolero instead.
I had some old jeans that I had in the bag for “good will” and I cut the legs apart and was able to selvage enough denim to use for her bolero.
In a collection of patterns that I use for the girls, I found a cute little bolero pattern that was just what I had in mind.
Eloise was very interested in what I was doing and patiently watched the project progress.
I thought it would be fun to add a monogram to the back of the bolero and let Eloise choose a thread color. She decided to use a variegated thread which provided an interesting look as you can see from the photo.
When the bolero was finished, we sat and visited while I sewed on Eloise’s “favorite” buttons. She was so excited to try it on and wanted to make sure that I put a “Nana” label on it.
Finally, Eloise was able to put on her “Beautiful Button Bolero”. She was so proud of it; it was fun to watch.
Later that evening we were invited to Andy’s for dinner and she was very anxious to show both Andy and Belen what we made that day. It was so rewarding seeing her delight with her new bolero!
Belen was pleased for Eloise and asked me if we could make her a button bracelet so the next week when the girls came, we did just that.
She chose 4 buttons and we added her initial as well for her button bracelet. Belen was delighted with the finished new piece of button jewelry. I was most delighted with her smile!
I hope you are making some fun projects over the summer and getting to spend time with your favorite people as well.