Category Archives: gift ideas

A little of this and that…

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I finally got the mulch spread all over the flower beds. Wow, the body protests a full day of labor. Remember those days when we could work hard for 8 hours and then go partying until all hours? Those days are long gone for me. I still enjoy the parties, but the recovery period is a killer. I should buy stock in one of the analgesic companies!

Cool feather block. Great for Gen X’ers or scrap hoarders: click here.

Very cute for fashionistas of any age: click here.

She calls it a scrapbuster, but I think this block would be nice in coordinated fabrics too. How about shades of one color, or for honey bun strips? click here.

Just finished up a series of classes for beginners. Thinking about what new projects to do when the class series is repeated in the fall. The first class was based on the rail fence block-learning about safe use of a rotary cutter, 1/4″ seams, pressing/ironing, etc.  Here’s a great rail fence block quilt, that doesn’t look like a rail fence until you really disect the parts. Would be a great quick pattern for all sorts of occasions, for quilters of any skill level. The more you know about quilting, the faster this one will go together.  click here

Back to summer time activities-soon I’ll have to return to the machine to actually do some stitching instead of just “virtually” quilting across the web.  TTFN!

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quilts for the men in your life

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Quilts for guys. A continual puzzle. How do you find a quilt pattern that is manly but still fun to make? Is it possible to make a guy quilt without using camo fabric or tractors or muscle cars? Of course it is, but it ain’t easy!! Even the fabrics in most quilt shops are working against us–those gorgeous florals and prints are just too pretty for most men.

It’s the time of year for graduation quilts. Quilts that can go into dorm rooms. I think Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Company has come up with an easily made quilt that fits the bill. This one could go into a guy’s dorm room I think. The blue and white combo she uses is a classic, but of course any 2 color combination works. Even school colors-but some of those combos would be godawful–I’m thinking of my niece’s colors: maroon and gold. Yuk!

Anyway here’s a link to a video that may be just what you need. If you don’t need it now, file this one away for future reference. I think even in black and white with a shot of hot pink you’d have a quilt for a fashionista. Or how about as a background for some tropical applique? Click here.

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Filed under "modern" quilting, applique, free patterns, gift ideas, pre-cut bundles

more morning thoughts

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Lovely sunny spring morning. Shh! don’t jinx it! Here in WNY we’re still in the “anything could happen” stage of weather.

Was thinking about going out to get new sneakers today and came across this in my inbox. Love it! All of you zentangling ladies might like it too. click here

Lovely idea here for coloring stitchery blocks. She has a free BOM quilt available too. click here

Same woman’s site-great idea for a mother’s day gift, either the gift itself or its wrap. click here

If you have an upcoming graduation or wedding for a social media junkie, then this hashtag block might be just what you need for the quilt you are going to make. (Don’t we always make quilts for those occasions?) click here

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Jelly roll 1600, chapter 2

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

What a gorgeous morning we’re having today. I actually got too warm while walking the canine today and had to take off my hat and gloves! When was the last time that happened?!

If you’ve read this blog for a while now, you may remember a few posts about the jelly roll 1600 quilts. If you need a refresher, look in the category list in the left sidebar and click on it. Today at Missouri Star Quilts Jenny Doan shows a variation on the basic jelly roll quilt. I love the fabric line she chose, but I think I might have chosen a different color for the “pop” of color she inserts. She gives a few good tips even for those of you who have made one of these before. If you haven’t, you should give it a try. This is a fun quilt to make-so fast and easy. It’s great for charity projects, quilt gifts, or a first quilt for a new quilter.

Here you go. click here

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We are $ew Worth It

Hello all, Mary Ellen again.

This will speak for itself. (Click here for an interesting point of view on what our hand-made things are really worth.) I wonder if you”ll agree with her. I’ll be honest, I stopped selling my quilts because I couldn’t get very many folks to pay what I felt they are worth. And I’ve learned to be judicious in choosing gift quilt recipients who appreciate what they are getting.

Here’s a cute project for spring. Some cheerful shoes and digging in your button box. Have a look at this. (click here.)

If you’ve sewed a lot lately, it might be time to take care of your scissors. I do this now and then (training from my old tailoring teacher who was a strict old bird!), but not often enough. If you own some really good scissors, and you do this “maintenance” routine, along with periodic sharpening, they will last forever. My favorite Ginghers are probably 35 years old and still are like new. I also have a pair of pinking shears that were my grandmother’s originally, that also still cut well. Who knows how old those are?! (click here for scissor routine)

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

 

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this and that

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I enjoy looking around the blogosphere at what other quilters do with the old tried and true quilt blocks. You know the ones I mean–the classic half square triangle, log cabin, flying goose (do you say geese when it’s just one block?), four patch, nine patch, and so on. You wouldn’t think you’d see too much new done with those since they’ve been around for so long.    New look (to me anyway) for half square triangles (or friendship stars if you want a bigger unit): click here.

I know many quilters are knitters as well. I just finished some warm mittens for my godsons and a friend, and have some bulky yarns remaining. I was looking around on the internet for an easy cowl neck that I could wear under a coat or perhaps with a turtleneck. Here’s a link to the one I settled on. (click here) If you go to Pinterest and put “cowl free knitting pattern” in the search you’ll find many lovely ones, in a variety of yarn weights.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner (if you have projects to make). At Jenny Doan’s Missouri Star Quilt Company’s YouTube channel she recently posted a cute little Swedish heart project that she made with “scraps” of felted wool. Jenny calls it a Christmas heart, but I think it could be just as cute as a Valentine heart. Perhaps two shades of pink, instead of red and white would make it more “valentine-ish”. You might have some red and white will scraps left from Christmas projects that you could use for this. If you’ve been a crafter for long, I would not be surprised if you already know how to make this. (click here for video) I’m going to use up some odd bits of wool and make some of these for the kids. I plan to put a paper envelope corner, scavenged from discarded junk mail, down inside so the wool doesn’t stretch from the weight of the candies I will be putting in the little pockets. Not all wools or felts will need this, but my scraps are those lovely soft wools from a quilt shop. I also have some wool felt from a red sweater that I bought at the Salvation Army before the holiday that I am going to try for this.

Well I’m off to put a binding on a quilt that just came back from the quilter. TTFN. Keep warm on this blustery weekend.

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origami ornaments

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

What a surprise this morning when I checked the thermometer before heading out on our daily constitutional with the canine companion. 14 degrees!! He got his sweater put on him, and I got out my Nanook of the North hat! Thank Goodness the wind was calm, or we would not have gone far at all. As it was we only traveled around 3 blocks as my fingertips were protesting, even though they were encased in mittens rather than gloves. I think while I’m out and about doing some holiday shopping, I’m going to get some new outerwear for myself.

I’ve been looking for some nice fabric origami ornaments to make for this year. Found this great idea.  (click here) I’m going to test this out with paper first, but I love the look of her samples. Just replace her word “hexagon” with the correct word “pentagon” as you read her description. The video she links to is very good and clear. I’m not certain how ornery the fabric will be in all those folds.

This is a link (click here) to a different fabric origami ornament I have made in the past-very easy, particularly if you own a 60 degree triangle ruler to cut out your equilateral triangles. Honestly, very simple. Scroll down in the linked post to the directions using a fabric triangle rather than a hexagon. Very fast and surprisingly lovely for being so easy.

Today I plan to do some papercrafting, rather than sewing.  Got to get going on my Christmas cards and the small gifts for the hairdresser, cleaning lady, etc. What are you up to today?

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Tetra-what?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I’m back at the sewing machine in earnest now. The yard work is done, and the machine is back from its tune up. I hate sending it away, but it does make a difference in its performance and sound. Working on a Christmas table runner from an Edyta Sitar pattern, and a springy wall hanging that is a sample for a class I will be teaching in April.

Was cruising some of my favorite sewing blogs this morning and came across these cool pattern weights. At least that’s what the designer had in mind for them, but I can see some other uses as well. I love their shape and when she used the correct mathematical term for them in her directions I was sold. Tetrahedrons–yep. You can take the girl out of the classroom but I still like to call things by their correct name. These make such a great arrangement in her photo. Great gift idea for a sewing friend. Click here.

I found those weights from links at the Sew, Mama, Sew annual Handmade Holidays blog entries. Every year in November at Sew, Mama, Sew there is a round-up of links to cool things to make. They categorize them nicely and I find them very inspiring for year round–not just holiday–projects. Definitely you should check them out if you are looking for some gift ideas. Most of the links are to free patterns, a few are reviews of patterns on the market. Even if you’re not going to make a lot of handmade gifts this Christmas season but  you enjoy “making stuff”, I think you’ll enjoy the visit.

Awarding blog candy at tomorrow night’s guild meeting celebrating our 40,000 visitor milestone. I, personally, have reached a blog milestone too. This is my 200th entry at this blog. Boy I do run on, don’t I? I’m thinking up a way to celebrate that too, so stay tuned.

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What’s Up with You?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

What’s going on in your sewing and crafting space these days? I just finished a bunch of mason jar transformations, all using fabric, for a demo at the shop where I work. They all were fun, but I think I enjoyed working with the wool the best. It has been a while since I’ve done that. Some of you may remember our guild garage sales that we have had a few times. At the last one we had, I scored a bunch of wool from Betty L. who was moving south. Some was already felted, and the rest I did myself. There was enough fill 2 Rubbermaid storage bins. I’ve made many a project using the wool and have barely made a dent. I’ll include a photo of the jar cuffs I made with the wool. This project got me thinking that I should do more with wool, that I’d better get going on gifts for the holidays, and that we ought to have another guild garage sale sometime. (There’s an idea for our new 2nd vice presidents if you’re looking for a program.)

flower jarleaf jarholly jar

My next demo project for the shop involves folded fabric stars. They are showing up in lots of “quilty” catalogs these days. I’m seeing Christmas ornaments (balls and pine cones in particular) on lots of Pinterest boards too. My first folded star, from a pattern of long ago, was a round star mounted in a quilting hoop that hung on the wall in my kitchen. And yes it was in dusty rose and a chalky blue. (There weren’t many other choices in quilting cottons back then!)

I was chatting with one of our guild members, Irene J, today about the first time we made this sort of star. MY pattern from yesteryear is dated 1980. It is obviously typed on a typewriter and photocopies. We both remembered NOT HAVING A ROTARY CUTTER to use–gasp! We had to cut all of the squares with cardboard templates, using scissors.

from Wikipedia “The first rotary cutter was introduced by the Olfa company in 1979 for garment making, however, it was quickly adopted by quilters. Prior to the invention of the rotary cutter, quilters traced handmade templates of the necessary shapes onto the wrong side of fabric and added 1/4-inch seam allowances all around. Templates were often handmade of (cereal box type) cardboard and the pencil wore down the edges with repeated tracings, rendering them inaccurate; new templates would be made several times until all the patchwork pieces were cut. Pieces were usually cut one at a time with dressmaking scissors, which were often heavy and had long blades that were designed for cutting large pieces for garments but were cumbersome to use for cutting small pieces for patchwork.”

Doesn’t that sound like fun?! Irene and I got laughing about those first days of our quilting bug and wondered why we stayed with it?! Certainly we spent much more time in the prep process than we do now. And with much less accuracy as well. You girls who have always had a rotary cutter in your quilting tools don’t know how much fun you missed (chortle!)

Here’s a pattern link for a quick pin caddy. I like the idea of repurposing bits of tattered or stained embroideries. I picked up a bag of such at the end of the day at a garage sale to save them from the trash bin. This would be a good way to give them new lives; perhaps at our quilt show boutique they could find new homes. This too would be a nice small giftie for sewing buddies at the holidays. Can’t hurt to have a few yourself in your various project bags. Click here.

Do you remember the pre-rotary cutter days of quilting? Did you ever make one of those stars?

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Filed under free patterns, gift ideas, guild activities, quilt history, stitchery, Uncategorized

“We Love to Sew”

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

How are you this fine rainy day? I just finished marking a set of place mats for quilting. They will be another set of samples for the seminar class I am teaching this fall: Get Out of the Ditch. I borrowed some hand quilting stencils from our guild library and am adapting them for walking foot quilting. I used my favorite marker for this task: Crayola washable markers. That’s right, the ones kids buy for school. I have been using them for this sort of thing for several years and love it. They are very easy to work with, to see while stitching, and to wash out when you’re finished. It’s actually time for me to start watching for them as loss leaders in back to school supplies since some of mine are drying out and/or have worn out tips. Also time to stock up on the Elmer’s washable school glue that I use for so many tasks in the sewing room. Often is a loss leader at school supply time as well and can be purchased so cheaply that it’s almost like stealing it! For you traditionalists, gluing makes mitered borders so easy that you might be tempted to put them on every quilt!

A few posts back I wrote about Annabel Wrigley’s new book for tween sewers called “We Love to Sew”. (BTW thank you to the commenters who gave me some good ideas for projects to do with my sewing buddy. Will definitely be suggesting pajama pants since she seems to live in them!) I ordered a copy of the book and it arrived yesterday. What a great book for kids! It is written for the tween sewer. The photos show kids’ hands, and kid models. It definitely has very cute, kid appealing projects. For the most part it is a girls’ book, but some of the projects could easily be adapted to be made by or for boys. There are 28 projects in the book under the headings Accessorize, Five-Minute Fancies, Wear, Use, Decorate, and Cuddle. It doesn’t talk down to the young reader, but it is written in language they will understand. Appropriate cautions to get adult assistance are included where necessary. I don’t know if I’ll be giving this book to my sewing buddy for her birthday, which was the original plan, or keeping it as a teaching tool. Maybe I should just order another copy. If you have a youngster–maybe grade 4 up to grade 8 or 9–who likes to sew or wants to learn, this would be a great book to use with them.

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Filed under garment sewing, gift ideas, quilt books, sewing with/for kids