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new pastures

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Our guild’s new website is now up and running. Our blog is in the process of transitioning to the new service. If you want to continue to receive e-mails when a new post goes up from myself or Marija, go over to our new guild web site (click here)to enter your address. Scroll down the page to the blog section and click. Our new blog page looks a bit different for now. Marija and I have some learning to do so we can get back into the swing of things. You will find the sign-up on the upper left of the blog page. I did send some of your e-mail addresses to our new web masters, so you may already be on our mailing list. If you were reading us through your WordPress feed, I was not able to send your address. There may be some glitches, as is always the case with something new, so please hang in here with us!

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factory stitching mode

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

As we are approaching the big deadline for our holiday crafting, it might help to switch into factory or assembly line mode for getting those crafty or quilty gifts done. Here are some suggestions from a crafter who not only works a full time job, but is a productive quilt artist as well. If you read and used a few tips for finding time to sew from quilt artist Pat Sloan that I wrote about in a previous post, maybe this one will help you make the most of your found time. Click here.

Are any of you working on a batch of gifts for the holidays? Today I’m going to be working on pajama pants. The pattern has been traced out in the correct size. Now I’m off to layout the fabric, cut it out, and get to the serger. I don’t use the serger as much as I used to back in the days of knits and Stretch and Sew (anyone else remember?), but for kids clothing it can’t be beat. I love the speed and the nice neat inner seams. TTFN!

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changes coming

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Our guild officers have elected to change the way information is shared about and from our guild onto the internet. In the next day or so, this blog will be switching to a new style of WordPress and your subscription to the postings will no longer be active. I don’t have much information to share about how you will re-subscribe. If you don’t hear from me in the next day or two, try searching for us (amherstthreadtales) to see if you will be able to find us that way. As I have more information I will share in whatever way(s) I can.

Sorry for this inconvenience. Not my decision.

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Who knows where the time goes?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

How are we going to find the time to get everything done that either needs to be done this season, or that we want to get done this busy holiday time? Did you have good intentions to make something for each person on your list? It might be time to pare down the scale of those projects, but you still have time to get a lot of sewing done between now and the big day if you plan it right. Pat Sloan (one of our seminar teachers from not too long ago) has some good ideas for finding time everyday to sew. Check out her no-nonsense suggestions! Right here.

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paper footballs

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

If you have had middle school aged boys around you for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with paper footballs. The boys can be entertained for hours with a paper football and a willing opponent. I must admit there were times when monitoring a study hall before the holidays, when I would relent on my harsh study hall teacher persona and allow the boys to play paper football quietly. Who knew that it could solve a storage dilemma that many of us face? …the dilemma of storing all of those plastic bags that seem to multiply like loaves and fishes. In this link you will find how a quilter/crafter solved her dilemma by folding her bags football style and keeping them in a lovely “clothespin” bag. I think this could be a genius gift idea. Particularly if you would do the folding of the bags for the recipient. If you have a middle schooler around, enlist his help doing all of the folding. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they can make a “football”.  In addition in her sidebar this crafter has some free patterns for other possible holiday gifts. I like her faux boxwood wreath too.  Click here for the tutorial.

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an oldie but goodie

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Not a big fan of hand sewing. Too slow moving for me. I will hand stitch when it gives better results than the machine, or sometimes on “heirloom” projects that will be gifts. I enjoy embroidery now and then, but regular hand sewing is not for me. That said, I started my sewing journey learning to hand sew. My first non-doll clothing project was a hand sewn apron. Every stitch, including the gathers, was done by hand. That might be the root of my aversion to stitching by hand what could more easily be done by machine. This video tip was shared with me by our guild’s publication editor, Karen G. I knew the first bit about how to thread the needle from long ago, also taught to me by my grandmother. The second lip balm bit is new to me and will be handy in the future I’m sure. click here for the video.

How about you? Do you enjoy hand sewing-the trendy hexies come to mind? Or do you have any tips passed to you by your mom or grandmom to share with us?

BTW how are your holiday projects coming along?

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cute drawstring bag

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Crafty Gemini has been around on the internet for a while now. Vanessa, a clever millenial, has been sharing fun projects to make for your family, friends and home. She now has partnered up with the Jenny Doan empire of Missouri Star Quilt Company, so will become much more familiar to an older audience. But none the less, her projects are cute and quick. In this video she will walk you through the steps of making a drawstring bag. She bills it as a gift bag, but I think it could be useful in many other ways as well. The little boys in my life have all sorts of soldiers and small characters with which they love to stage battles. When going to a restaurant, a few always come along for the wait before the meal is served. My nieces, now too old for dollies, used to bring dolls and the many outfits and accessories for them on their trips out with Auntie. Pouches made of fabrics chosen with the kids in mind would make fun holiday gifts that don’t pass out of favor soon after the unwrapping frenzy is gone.  I’m sure you can think of other loose items which could be corralled into a pouch for safe keeping. If you make this as a gift bag, why not start a tradition that at Thanksgiving time pouches must be returned to you for Christmas refills?  Click here for the video.

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a very slick technique

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I don’t know about you, but I hate binding a quilt. It’s like I’m almost to the finish line and then I have to stop in place for some boring work. I don’t enjoy the hand stitching process that so many quilters tell me is very relaxing for them. I have learned a few tricks along the way that make stitching the binding entirely by machine good enough for me, but this video and tutorial I found this morning are very intriguing. I might have to invest in this foot for my machine. I know I could use it for other applications as well. Click here.

BTW the heirloom creations site that is referenced in this link is a very good resource for both Bernina owners and Husqvarna Viking owners. Great instructional videos on all sorts of aspects of those machines. I also have e-mailed the woman in the video with questions from time to time, and have always received very nice responses. Try heirloomcreations.net and add it to your bookmarks.

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free dresden tree skirt or table topper

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

The dresden plate block is one of my favorites in quilting. I love traditional blocks made with modern fabrics. Here is a video, accompanying a free pattern, for a beautiful dresden style tree skirt or large round table topper. You may not take this on for this holiday season, but it’s definitely a keeper for another year. It would of course be lovely made in non-holiday fabrics as well. Making it with the tree skirt opening would allow you to use it on an umbrella table on your deck this summer. Lovely!

Click here.

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felting your own wool for projects

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Have you (or a laundry helper) ever mistakenly put a sweater into the laundry only to discover it at half its original size when it came out of the washer? If so, then you have already felted wool. Actually wool is not the only fiber that will “felt” but it is the most commonly used one. With the price of felted wool in quilt shops so astronomical, it’s well worth making some of your own. If you did the math to calculate how much per yard those luscious 8″ x 8″ pieces actually cost, you would have apoplexy. If you have a friend who also loves felted wool who would join you in this project, you could trade pieces and get a nice assortment for yourselves. I have some bits left from felting some men’s suit coats that I found in a thrift shop several years ago. It is amazing how much yardage there is in a large coat or **bonanza** a woman’s wool pleated skirt. If you are game at trying some overdying with ordinary RIT dye, you can make a lovely assortment of felts to use in many holiday (and beyond) projects. Try it, you’ll like it. (How many of you just thought of a boy named Mikey?) Here’s a link to an article from McCall’s Quilting that will give you the details. Click here.

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