Category Archives: gift ideas

update on our gift along challenge

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Back in January a challenge was thrown down to work on holiday gifts throughout the year instead of waiting for “crunch time” in November and December. The challenge was to make/finish one each month. How’s that working out for you?

I’m doing pretty well. But to be honest…I have a little extra help. I teach classes at a local quilt shop and am frequently making sample to use in teaching. I’ve gotten smarter about choosing the fabrics. I now pick them with someone on my gift list in mind. (I’ve got 3 completed gifts living at the shop right now.) That way the sample, when it’s returned to me from the shop, becomes a completed gift. If I know the sample will be still living at the shop after the gift occasion passes, then I choose the fabrics for the step outs with the giftee in mind. Those fabrics I try to choose from my stash. That helps to work on another goal of mine-using up the tremendous stash. I’m beginning to worry about whoever has to deal with my “stuff” after I go to the big craft room in the sky. It’s not just fabric I’m talking about. I have waaaaaaay too many hobbies and the “stuff” that goes with them.

This gift idea was in an e-mail from The Quilt Show this morning. The designer says she came up with it because of her curious cat. I think it’s darn cute anyway, being only a cat tolerater rather than lover. (Although my dog was very curious as a pup and ate a pin cushion which was loaded with pins, to the tune of several hundred dollars at the vet!) See what you think of her idea for someone on your gift list. Click here.

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sewing for others

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Quilters are among the most generous people I know. Every quilt guild (I think?) has charitable efforts where quilts are made for others and given freely with no expectation of any return. Many individual quilters sew for others as well. Quilts for preemies, for seniors, for veterans, …, and the list goes on.

April is National Autism Awareness month. The diagnoses of autism have increased greatly from when I was young. I’m not sure if that’s due only to more awareness of the syndromes, or if it is occurring in the population in higher numbers than in the past. Probably a bit of both. Almost all of us know, or know of, a child who has been diagnosed to be somewhere along the autism spectrum.

This quilting project might be just the thing if someone you care about is autistic. This tutorial is for a weighted blanket, taught by Rob Appell who is now associated with Jenny Doan’s empire. Some babies who are hard to sooth, are comforted by a heavier blanket. Have a look at this and see what you think. Click here.

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Filed under free patterns, gift ideas, guy quilting

another spring quilt idea

Hi all, Mary Ellen again.

I spotted this one on my e-mail again this morning. Awhile back here on the blog we had some discussion going about the jelly roll 1600 quilts. (Look in side bar for a category link) This quilt was not made as a 1600, but certainly could be. That one strip that makes it more interesting, is just cut from the finished top, top and bottom ends reversed in orientation, sashing/border added to the cut strip and then inserted into the top. It’s a quick and easy way to take a 1600 quilt up a few notches. The reason I pulled this pattern idea out is that I came across a jelly roll I’d forgotten about, while looking through my UFO’s recently. This quilt would make a great gift for a niece’s birthday, since the jelly roll was chosen with her in mind originally.

Check out this pattern (click here) if you need a quick gift–baby shower, wedding shower, graduation, Mothers’ Day…–and the list goes on. ‘Tis the season, isn’t it? BTW how are you coming on our 2015 Gifting Challenge? Remember, one holiday gift completed each month is the goal. Even better if it is a UFO completed. I’ll give a report on my own progress soon.

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sewing by and for guys

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Nearly all of us have sewn a quilt for a male family member or friend. But…have you ever sewn with a male family member or friend? Not so many of us.

I have mentioned Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Company here before. She and quilter Rob Appell are starting a new venture together: Man Sewing. I think it will be fun and I’ve already subscribed to get the first few videos. I have 2 grandsons turning 8 today. Maybe I’ll be able to get a quilter out of one of them. One of them is very interested in any type of machine, and I’ve got a machine with considerable bells and whistles that he might find to be “awesome”.

Have a look at Jenny and Rob’s skateboard quilt here. click here  Great idea for the boys in those “middle” years.

Here’s a link to Rob’s intro to his series “Man Sewing”. click here

If this is the first you’ve heard about Rob Appell and his quilts, go have a look at his designs and his other quilterly projects here. He is not just a quilter wannabe. I think his applique will blow you away. click here.

We’re at the end of the first month of 2015. How are you doing on your gift making challenge? I’ll be asking for reports in my next post, so get ready to fess up.

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Filed under "modern" quilting, 2015 gifting challenge, applique, free patterns, gift ideas, guy quilting, pre-cut bundles, Uncategorized

Where has the time gone?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I was quite surprised this morning when I looked at the date of my last post. Almost a month has gone by–where has the time gone? Anybody else running around like a chicken with no head trying to get everything done for the holidays? Yikes!

What have you been up to in the sewing room (if you’ve had time to get in there!)? I have made a few adult bibs for  elderly patients in a nursing home.  I copied the outline of the institutional one that is given out, and then make them with hand towels from the dollar store and novelty fabrics around the upper body and neck. They have been quite popular-I did pumpkins in October, wacky turkeys for November, and birds in Santa hats for this month. Those have been sent off so the patients can enjoy them for a bit before the Santa’s are out.

Also working on placemats for nieces’ apartments. They have finally grown beyond the stage where they didn’t want “homemade” stuff from auntie, and are often mentioning quilted things that they would like for their own homes. Holiday things are always mentioned so that’s what the placemats are. I may have to give IOU’s for the later holidays coming up after the new year. (Quick gift idea-when each of them was in college, I made pillowcases of the month for them which were a huge hit with them and the room mates. They would get them mailed in a package around the first of each month so there was the double fun of receiving a bit of snail mail. There are tons of free easy pillowcase patterns around on the internet, if you think this would work for someone on your list. Plus it pushes off the due date for your completion of the sewing project!)

Have you ever had the experience of giving a quilted item that you spent hours making falling flat on its face when the recipient opens the present? Or perhaps you got lots of enthusiastic thank you’s at the time of opening, but then you never see the quilt again or, worse yet,  see it being used as a dog bed or in the trunk of the car? Does that turn you off from making and giving quilts? There is a “hot” thread about this topic on one of the quilting boards that I read frequently. Apparently many quilters have decided not to give away quilts anymore because of lack of appreciation. Fortunately this hasn’t happened to me yet. Perhaps some of the charity quilts I’ve made have not been beloved, but I don’t have to know about that. How about you? What are your feelings or experiences with this?

HO! HO! HO! Off to teach a class today, and then shop for gift cards. After that it’s on to the baking! Making my list and checking it a million times!

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Filed under free patterns, gift ideas, sewing with/for kids, Uncategorized

folded fabric ornaments

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Title is self-explanatory so I won’t say anymore.

star 1: click here

pentagonal star: click here

Very easy–my personal favorite (can use 60 degree triangle ruler): click here

demo night ornament (I think it is anyway, I was giving a demo myself so I didn’t get to visit the others. I did see one of this type of ornament on the table though.: click here

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recent finds…

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Still not adjusted to the new times yet (nor is the dog!). I find myself wide awake quite early and find it’s better to get up and moving, than to just stare at the ceiling wishing I could sleep for another hour. Instead of heading out on the morning walk before the world awakens, I have explored the web instead.

I’ll share a few of my recent finds.

fabric twine–love this! Can use up very narrow scrappy strings since she says 1″ wide is the maximum! Does anyone you know make blocks with pieces narrower than that?! click here

Houston Quilt festival (on the bucket list!) click here

Recently I made fabric baskets from a pattern from Aunties Two. Their patterns are very well illustrated and explained. I went to the website to see what others they have that might be fun and found a section of FREE patterns. Christmas is coming and I found a good one for quick gifts. You might too. click here

Was checking out Robi’s Pinterest boards and came across this. Like the author of the DIY piece, I have been sewing for many years now (won’t say the number, but let’s says I’ve passed most of the metallic anniversaries) so many of these tips were already familiar. I did find a few hints though where I thought “what a good idea, why didn’t I think of that?” If you’re a relative newcomer to the world of needle and thread, you’ll probably find a couple of hints you’ll want to remember.

Tips for a thorough machine cleaning: click here

Last one for today is a list of DIY gift ideas for guys. It’s not hard at all to come up with cute handmade gift  ideas for your female friends and family, but not so much for those guys on which you want to bestow one of your hand-made creations. Here’s an idea list. I love the magnetic wristband idea. I think I’ll make one for myself too! click here

Do you think today’s round of leaf raking will be the final one? Me either.

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odd bits

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

What have you been up to lately? I recently drove down to Penn Yan with a friend to have my sewing machine serviced. Discovered that Mapquest and Yahoo maps can’t always be trusted. After having a very detailed tour of the Cayuga Lake shore neighborhoods, we eventually ended up at the shop we were aiming for. Fortunately it was a nice day, and the hillsides were gorgeous with fall colors. After dropping the machine off at the shop, we headed further on for some quilty fun. Our first stop was at Quilters’ Corners in Ithaca. I had known of this shop from quilt show venders malls, but had never been to the brick and mortar place. Wow! Lots of eye candy. So many samples to look at, and of course many different fabrics than our local shops. I love seeing the different choices that each shop buyer will make. Saw rayon batiks, voiles and canvas that I haven’t seen in our area. Every shop has its own personality, don’t you agree? We spent quite a bit of time looking at just everything, every nook and cranny. And oh, the sale fabrics… I am proud of myself that I didn’t buy any fabric at all! But I did have quite a haul of patterns and fun gifts.

Second stop was O’Sussanah’s in Watkins Glen. Another shop with a personality very different from my local haunts. Loved seeing the fabrics being used in garments and home dec.   Quite a few samples of Japanese taupes, and books from designers working in the “zakka” style. Again bought some patterns but no fabric!

We were on the clock to get back to Buffalo around dinner time, so were pleased when we got the call that our machines were ready, right around 3:00. We were in the bulk food store down the way from the machine shop when the call came. Great stuff there too. And we had some scrumptious autumn squash soup in the little cafe which is part of the complex.

All in all, a great quilt excursion. It’s definitely worth the ride with some quilting buddies.

Do you know of some fun destinations for a quilting day trip? Share!

BTW, here are a few interesting links I’ve come upon recently in my travels through blogland.

binding an inverted corner: click here

easy quilt for baby or actually for anyone: click here

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Filed under eye candy, free patterns, garment sewing, gift ideas, local quilt shops, tips and tricks, Uncategorized

Amy Butler et.al.

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Are you a fan of Amy Butler fabrics and patterns? I just received notification that her free pattern for her latest fabric line is now posted at her website. Here’s the link: click here. I also received notification not long ago that her latest clothing pattern: a pieced duster, is now available. She looks great in it, and I love the concept but I’m afraid I may be past the age cut off for her style. Although I am thinking about how it would look in a collection of somewhat “quieter” fabrics–batiks maybe. See what you think of her style. It would be great for you younger women out there. Looks like it would be very comfortable and could definitely take a pair of jeans up a few notches. Click here.

As I worked through my e-mails today, I noticed that a theme was in the making: vintage clothing techniques. How is it that several unrelated blogs all posted about clothing today? Anyway… I used to do a lot of smocking. Not the type where embroidery stitches were laid over tightly gathered bands, but the type where a grid was laid out and stitching pulled together points on the grid to make interesting patterns. I think this type is sometimes called Canadian smocking (as opposed to European smocking). In the sixties it was fashionable to make pillow coverings and other home decor items using this technique. Here’s a tutorial that came in today’s mail for this “old” technique. Click here. Does anyone besides me remember that style?

Getting back to work on seminar items, TTFN!

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the old ways…

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Visited Bonnie Hunter’s site this morning. Found this link to a clip about making scissors by hand. Would love a pair of these! Click here. Bonnie is just home from a recent quilters’ trip to Great Britain. That girl sure gets around–she’s home right now, but before she comes to us in mid September, she’ll be spending time in Alaska teaching.

Weaving modern cloth on old looms (found in side bar at link above): click here

Here’s a bit of trivia for you. The roots of modern-day computers are linked to weaving. Joseph Jacquard came up with a system of punched cards for weaving patterns which eventually inspired the binary code of ones and zeros representing the punched or unpunched holes in the cards. Those ones and zeros were linked to electronic circuitry being on (the one) or off (the zero). And the rest is history. Binary code became the foundation for most of the systems of coding used in computer programming today.  (Very oversimplified history for you, but those of you with math phobia can perhaps still appreciate the connections!) Read more about it here: click here.

I have a lot of burlap scraps remaining from the flowers I made for my wreath class at seminar. I’m going to make it up into little treat/gift bags. I’ve done this many times, with all sorts of fabrics, so I don’t really need a pattern. But…this pattern is a cute and very easy one. (click here) Let’s call it another installment in the Christmas in July pattern sharing, shall we?

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