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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charming trays

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Do you think the end of the falling leaves is coming soon? The piles of leaves at the curb are quite high, the Town hasn’t even made one pick up run yet, and my yard is really getting covered today. I’m hoping that these variable temperatures, rain and wind are going to bring down the rest of them so I can finish up and declare fall finished for 2015. Raking leaves is not as fun as it was in my childhood when all the families would make a huge leaf pile, and then we’d set it afire and cook hot dogs! Of course that was many, many moons ago before all of those pesky rules about open fires were put into place to protect us. How did we ever make it to adulthood with all the “dangerous” (air quotes) things our parents let us do!

Oops, I surely got off track there didn’t I? Came across this link today. Great idea for quick little gifts, most likely with all of the necessary materials already in your sewing room. Be sure to follow the link at the end to the hexagon trays as well.

Click here.

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Handmade Holidays

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Ever since I was a little girl I have made gifts at the holiday time, and made decorations, and made cookies, etc. etc. The holidays have always been a time for crafting. Judging by the displays in most of our local stores, it is now officially holiday time. I even came across a radio station which is already playing Christmas tunes 24/7. That’s over the top in my book.

Anyway if you are a bit like me and enjoy making all sorts of things for the holidays, you might enjoy this website’s annual tradition. They call it Handmade Holidays. There is a theme each day, with a list of projects fitting the theme. They explain it much better than I can summarize, and if you like you can look back through what they have featured in years past. So here you go–let the crafting begin. Click here.

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starting on the Christmas gift trail

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Was at the hairdresser this week and the hot topic was how close we are getting to Christmas! Just about 8 weeks to get all that shopping done. Well, those of you who have kept up with our gifting challenge here on the blog should be in good shape. You’ve got 10 gifts complete if you stuck to our timeline—LOL! I hope you have a few done anyway-those UFO’s that you intended to finish up. Remember?? Sure you do.

If not, here’s a very quick idea for the teens and twenty-somethings on your list or maybe even for yourself if you need some warm hats for winter. This video came in my e-mail today and I have a sweater that I bought in Scotland years back that will be perfect for it. Isn’t it funny how sweaters just shrink up when left in the drawer unworn for a while? Still want to keep the sweater as a memento of that trip, but can’t wear it as it is now. A nice warm hat made from Scottish wool will be great for dog walking. And maybe even the leg warmers, if we have a winter like the Farmers’ Almanac is predicting. I personally will be sewing my hat, rather than using the fabric hot glue gun. I didn’t even know that they make hot glue sticks that are especially for use on fabric. Click here for the video.

What’s on your sewing machine right now? Something for Halloween or Thanksgiving? Or maybe one of those UFO’s you’re finishing up for the Christmas list? I’ve got a sampler of traditional blocks in the works that is going to be a class sample in the new year. I’ve been working on that in between other projects this fall. I’m just about ready to assemble my row by row Christmas quilt that is made of sample blocks from a beginner class series. That has been low priority but I think I’ll bump it up in the list. Going to make some nice cozy pj pants for the kids on the list. The flannels coming into the shop are luscious-soft and fuzzy on both sides of the fabric. Perfect for hanging around the house on a snowy day. Maybe I’ll make myself a pair too.

Got all your fall gardening done? I’m waiting for the trees to let go of the leaves so I can finish up the raking. Usually it takes 4 or 5 times here in my neighborhood. We all love the big maples and oaks through the hot summers, but they make for lots of work in the autumn. I’ve also got a big box of daffodil bulbs that need planting. Maybe this weekend I’ll get out there–depends on what Mother Nature has in store for us.

TTFN.

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the heat over Frixion pens

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

In every class I teach where marking the fabric is involved, the topic of Frixion pens comes up. I use Frixion pens for some of my marking, but I am very careful about the placement of their marks. When Frixion pens first hit the quilting world, I did some experimenting on my own, and some research at the company website. Quilters love the nice fine line markings they make, and how easy it is to remove them with a little heat. I thought that a red line drawn by a Frixion pen would be a perfect marking for the red work embroidery I was doing at that time. The problem is…those markings are not really gone.

Here’s an article written by a quilter who did her own research, (click here), and who contacted the company to get their input. I will tell you that the critical temperature is 40 degrees. That’s the number given by the company back when I was researching this issue. Does the temperature where your quilt will be travelling ever drop below 40? If so, be very careful!! Don’t forget that when quilts travel through the mail, in the holds of airplanes or in the back of mail trucks, they may be exposed to much colder temps than the air in our homes. How about those of us who store our off season quilts in unheated basements or attics? Beware!

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