Category Archives: stitchery

Don’t hurt yourself!

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I’m sure if you’re more than a rank beginner to quilting, you know that quilting does use a lot of muscles. It’s not difficult to make your body tired and sometimes sore after an extended period of any of the processes involved in producing a quilt. We had a speaker at a guild meeting not long ago who gave some tips, but perhaps you weren’t at that meeting or you would like a review.

Check out this video. Tips are given for finding more comfort or less strain in each step along the way, starting from cutting the fabric all the way to the hand stitching of the binding. If you are an embroiderer the hand stitching tips and the stretches suggested would be helpful for you as well.

Have you got your project ready to work on in between tomorrow night’s trick or treaters?

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Filed under applique, free motion quilting, stitchery, tips and tricks, tutorials, Uncategorized

Amy Butler

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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Filed under free patterns, garment sewing, gift ideas, stitchery, tips and tricks, tutorials, Uncategorized

not quilting, but…

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I hope your summer is going as well as mine is. Today’s weather (on the cool side for some) is glorious in my book–sunny, breezy, and temperate!

This link is not strictly quilt related, but I think any of us who appreciates fiber art would love to come across something like this. Most of these are from sites in Europe; it seems European hazard fence is more grid-like than what we’d see here. Our chain links I thinkwe might say are more “on-point”!

Wouldn’t it be great if this caught on among the craftsmen in our downtown areas? click here

How is your summer stitching going? Are you more productive in the summer, or is it too hot to quilt?

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Filed under eye candy, stitchery

On the edge…

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I’ve got my bin of selvages out and have been working on a tote bag design. I find playing with the selvages to be fun and relaxing. Really one can’t make an heirloom project (that’s not a challenge, anyone!) with selvages, so it’s not necessary to worry too much about perfect seams or colors matching just right. I ran across this post (click here) at Exuberant Color with great quilts using strips of varying widths. I think they could be great inspiration for selvages. Another idea for the bucket list is born.

Here’s a link to a pretty stitched piece. Not too complicated and it’s “summery” looking to me. I love the dotted fabric as the fabric base. (click here)

Time to get out your patriotic quilts. I leave them out for all of July (and sometimes August too if summer is busy!) How about you? Have you got a favorite red, white and blue quilt? I have a beginning for another one (one block!) from our Lucy Goosey quilt along. The blocks in my original color scheme of warm and cool tropicals are finished, just need to be made into a top and quilted. I had great plans to make a patriotic version of all those star blocks and didn’t get very far. Hmm…maybe I’ll use it as a leader and ender project and try to check that project off the list. If you are a new reader of the blog, you can find the links to the Lucy Goosey posts in the sidebar.

TTFN! So glad it’s cooler today. I’ve turned off the AC and opened the windows wide. Aah!

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Filed under eye candy, free patterns, Lucy Goosey, Quilt-a-Long, scrap quilting, selvage projects, stitchery, Uncategorized

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


Filed under free patterns, gift ideas, sewing with/for kids, stitchery, tips and tricks, Uncategorized


Happy Easter! Mary Ellen here.

Perusing the internet for springy, Eastery,” bunnyish” things today as I enjoy my morning coffee. Found the picture above, the inspiration for this post, at Pinterest. The work looked a bit familiar so I chased down the originator of the stitching. Sometimes for no particular reason I like to go to Barnes and Noble and just browse for a few hours. I will often spend a bit of time in the children’s book section, especially enjoying those books that are richly illustrated. I think that is where I knew of this stitcher’s work. Perhaps you will recognize her style too. This is a link to a very short film about her work, with links to her own blog posts about the stages of the construction of Rabittat. click here.

What beautiful work she does-and amazing to me-all by hand!

Have a beautiful Easter everyone!

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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?


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

a bit of quilt history

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I received an e-mail this morning from a member ( our former president, Mary D.) returning from a vacation to Utah and some National Parks. She included some photos and a link to the story of the Panguitch Quilt Walk. I had heard this story before but had forgotten it. I also enjoyed seeing her photos of the hanging in the visitor center, near Bryce Canyon National Park,  with its stitchery and miniature quilts included.  I did a little internet search and am also including a link to “Utah’s Patchwork Parkway”. Cool concept. Enjoy. You can click on any of the photos for a larger view (which will not have the right hand edge cut off!).





Filed under antique quilts, quilt history, stitchery, Uncategorized

goin’ crazy

Hi, Mary Ellen here.

I enjoy redwork even if it’s done in a different color-like blue or black. I used to do quite a bit of embroidery, crewel was my favorite in my college days. Gave kind of a refined hippy (is there such a thing?) look to ones bell bottom jeans. I also remember embellishing my nieces’ dresses and jumpers when they were tiny. I have an appreciation for the skill of embroiderers, even if I no longer do much of it. Have you ever gone to one of the shows the Buffalo chapter of the Embroiderer’s Guild of America has had at the Kenan Center in Lockport? Knock your socks off pieces of all kinds. I believe it’s held every other year, opposite our quilt show years. Definitely worth the trip-what a perfect venue for showing their handiwork.

Now crazy quilting–there is a combination of my love for “scrappy” backgrounds with my interest in stitching. I don’t know though, can you call backgrounds made of pieces of silk, brocade, velvet and lace “scrappy”? I think some of you might enjoy looking at this collection of stitch “dictionaries”, even if you don’t stitch yourself. The examples are exquisite. Scroll down in this link, below the books for sale, to a collection of sites featuring stitches. I’m bookmarking it for future reference.

Have you explored Pinterest yet? It’s a great place to find collections of images, usually linked to their sources, of things of interest to you. Here’s one link to a pinner’s collection of crazy quilt images. You can click an any one of them to see a larger image.


Filed under antique quilts, eye candy, our other hobbies, stitchery, tips and tricks, Uncategorized

christmas stitchery

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I hope you all are planning to take some time for yourself over this holiday weekend. Is anyone taking part in the Black Friday frenzy? I do my best to stay away from the stores over this weekend. I’ll be going home to visit my mom and siblings. This is the first Thanksgiving in about 5 years that both of my nieces will be home for the meal, so I am looking forward to that. On Friday I am going with my brother to meet a family of Amish quilters. My brother lived in Wyoming county for a while and met the family through his volunteering with the EMTs. The ladies of this family are beginning a hand quilting business and have invited me to come have a look at their work, and give them some input as an “English” (non-Amish) city quilter. How could I resist this chance?! Hoping for some Amish baked goods too while I’m there. I’ve been to several Amish farms, but have never gone inside the house. I am very curious. Will give a report next week.

I came across this blog hop from Aurifil threads while keeping an eye on Pat Sloan’s doings. She is a rep for Aurifil along with all her other ventures. If you enjoy stitchery, I think you’ll enjoy these free patterns. I did my last redwork project with Auriful 12 wt. thread, instead of embroidery floss. I would highly recommend it. One strand of 12 wt thread is equivalent to 2 strands of embroider floss (got that info from DMC and Auriful both).  Here’s the link to the stitchery hop-all Christmas or winter ornaments. We’re behind a bit, but it all is archived.

Happy holidays to you and yours. Wishes for safe travel for all of those away from home. Back next week!

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Filed under free patterns, guild activities, seminar, stitchery