Sunday, January 10, 2021

And Then Winter

Stitch Meditation on Trees

 As I sit and look out my window,

Or stroll on my almost daily walk

Tall trees stand

Exposed, bare

No fancy dress of greens, pinks, oranges or reds

Just skin and bones

Skeletons really


Waiting for spring to come.

Waiting for a new day.

A day when the sun will again warm the earth.

Waiting for a new dawn.

When new growth will begin to stir


Exploding into riotous color.

Providing shade, shelter, food.

To a world that’s been waiting.


Preparing for a new day.


Happy needle pulling thread!


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Back to Stitch Meditations

 Stitch Meditations have always brought me pleasure and a sense of grounding. I suppose it’s partly because I started hand stitching at an early age. I can get lost in stitching and hours go by so fast. I stopped doing the little daily stitches this year and have missed them. I still get on Facebook and see what others are doing but I’ve made very few myself this year.

Recently I made one and discovered how sorely I had missed doing them daily. So, I’m trying to get back to a daily habit.

I stumbled upon some silver metallic looking fabric the other day and bought some to try on a woven wreath I was wanting to make. It came out great and so I made my way back to the store and bought some more of the fabric. If you are into fabrics you know if there is a fabric that speaks to you, you had better buy if while it’s available. Otherwise, when you go back to get more it’s gone!

Woven Silver Wreath

Since I had this fabric I was thinking of other ways to use it. What about the background for a Christmas card? That would look good. But what theme to put on it. My mind wandered to a fabric artist that I am intrigued by who makes wonderful art pieces with just scraps of fabric. I remembered she had made some poinsettias. Maybe I could do something like that. I snipped some pieces of green and red fabrics and arranged them to resemble the poinsettia. Then I stitched them down. I decided to add a yellow button for the center using red thread in sort of a star pattern.

Poinsettia from fabric snippets

Then I thought I’d try a more detailed one by cutting the leaves and brackets out rather than just snipping little pieces of fabric. I cut out a leaf freehanded. I like it so that became my pattern for the leaves. For the red bracts I just cut pieces out from three different types of red fabric and laid them down. After using a little bit of glue to hold them in place I stitched them to the background fabric. For the center I decided to do French Knots in red, yellow, and white.

Poinsettia with French Knots

Happy with those two I thought what if I do a more minimal, modern, abstract one. Now minimal is difficult for me. My favorite art instructor was always suggesting I remove some element from my work. Guess her suggestion has stuck with me as I try sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successful.

For the centers I had been wanting to use a shiny yellow button I had but it was a shank type button and would not lay flat on the piece. I knew if I placed it in the opening of a fabric yoyo that would make it look a little better. I wanted to make a yoyo for the center of this one. I know maybe not so modern after all. For the yoyo I wanted a fabric that would resemble the center red, yellow, and white, I remembered I had some aloha fabric that was red, yellow, and white. I knew I had quite a bit of it but where was it in my stash. I looked in several places unsuccessfully. Frustrated I prayed “Lord help me find that fabric. I just need a little bit of it.” Then I remembered I had used some of it to make some flags to use as decorations for a party for my Hawaiian husband. I knew right where some leftover flags were stashed. And yes there were some from that fabric. I made my yoyo and put the button in the middle.

Modern Abstract Poinsettia

Happy with the outcome of all three. And I’m thinking of a fourth one from round circles.

Who knows maybe I’ll have a full quilt of little poinsettias for Christmas next year.

Or maybe they will just grace Christmas cards.


Happy needle pulling thread!


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Till the Storm Passes By

 Storm started out easy. The word was given some time back as a 12X12 challenge at the EtCetera group I belong to. I had a lot of ideas to start out but I finally decided I wanted to do a stormy looking landscape, but it took a while for me to get started. I’m not sure why but it did.

Then I started.

Select fabrics from my stash.

Cut and fuse pieces to indicate stormy sky, hills, watery grassy foreground.

I stitched down all the pieces of fabric with my sewing machine.

Then it stalled.

I always like to hand stitch marks on my work; however, I was afraid to start hand stitching for fear of messing it up. Which really was too bad because I knew I could cover up any messes with more fabric.

Finally, I took a deep breath and started. 

I knew I wanted to add some birds to the scene on the bottom portion. I didn’t feel confident in stitching birds there by hand and I really didn’t want them to stand out from the piece.

And so I stalled again.

Then the light bulb came: what if I painted the birds on with black paint and then just highlighted them with a few stitches?

 I found a bird shape I liked, took it into photoshop and made an outline, resized it, copied it twice so I had 3 birds. Resized one so it was smaller and flipped another one so that it faced the other 2 birds. After printing it out and checking the size in relation to the full piece I was satisfied. I used an X-acto knife to cut and make a stencil of the birds. I was nervous about stenciling right onto the quilt. I used a scrap of the fabric to test the stencil. Then after using acrylic black paint to paint the birds, I placed a piece of felt on the back so I could test stitching some highlights on the birds.

Once I was done I held the scrap piece on the quilt. I liked the way it looked with the felt backing and how that popped out. I still wanted to do some hand stitching on the main piece.

Stalled again.

Finally, I picked up needle and thread, took a deep breath and started.

The stitching is done, the binding applied, and the bird piece glued on. But was it finished?

The binding had been pieced below the hills with fabric that matched the bottom third of the quilt. I was bothered by the light marks on the right-hand lower side. A little dark paint covered up the lower two light spots and now I’m satisfied.

Another one checked off my FoF (Focus on Five) list!

Happy needle pulling thread!


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Stitching Circles and Other Things

Buttons, yo-yos (the fabric kind), circles, rings, ovals, and round are a few of the things and shapes that I love. Needle pulling thread is a process that I can get lost in for hours!

I follow a few online groups that focus on taking small pieces of fabric and bits of threads and practice slow stitching or stitch meditation. One group focuses on stitching circles on their pieces, often adding a button or some other object in the center of their stitching. I love all the work shown and decided to use this technique on one of the patches in “Nine Patches, Five Threads Red”. I wanted to keep the button in the center. I could have sewed the button on first, but it would then be in the way of the stitching thread. So I gave it some thought, considered marking around the button, but I didn’t want to deal with making the mark disappear.

Small Patch with Circular Stitching

Then I remembered I had some round stickers about the size of the button. I placed the sticker on my patch where I wanted the button to be and stitched around it. Once I was done stitching I removed the sticker and sewed the button on. That was a good, easy solution.

Recently someone on the group asked how people get their circles so seemingly perfect. I almost responded with my sticker idea but then decided to write a little blog post instead.

Expanding on the sticker idea I purchased some larger size round stickers. You could print different size circles on a full page label, but then you would have to cut them out. Or if you are fortunate to own or have access to a cutter machine that can cut multiple circles you could probably use that. I don’t have this option, so I settled for what I had.

The stickers I bought were labeled “permanent”, so I was a little nervous about using them. The good news is the fabric has enough lint (small fibers) that the labels don’t stick permanently as soon as they are applied. If you are using a specialty fabric such as a smooth satin or silkie that may differ you could place the sticker on a fabric that is linty just to pick up some surface tension and then place it on the fabric you want to stitch.

I would caution about leaving the stickers on for a long time especially if they will be stored in a way that pressure is applied to the sticker.

Here are a few samples of using stickers as guides for stitching.

Stitching around some circle labels 

You could also cut out shapes – leaves, flowers, vines, etc. to use as a guide for stitching. Rectangular labels work great as guides also.

Leaves, button flower,  and a moon

Now about perfect stitches. I don’t aspire to making perfect even stitches on my art pieces. I like the look of a natural organic stitch. Outside of practice, practice, practice if I for some reason want perfect circles and stitches I would probably resort to an embroidery machine.

Happy sewing in circles!


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Color Escapes Black and White


Escape is now finished and off my FoF (Focus On Five) list. That’s the word prompt given by one of my art quilt groups. The size was to be 12X14 inches. I had another small quilt I made for another group’s challenge and I thought I could use it for this challenge, but it was larger. So back to the drawing board. I’d been playing with an idea for yo-yo’s and decided to develop it for Escape.

After The Rain a bias tape challenge

In the process of making this quilt without much forethought or planning I ran into a few rough spots. The rough spots have informed me and made me think of and realize better ways to work when I start a larger similar quilt and another improv quilt inspired by this small one. I’m not sure when they will be started (they have to wait for their turn on my FoF list). But I will be making some notes now, so I don’t forget when I do start them.


Sewing through all the tightly stacked black and white yoyos plus the background fabric, batting, and backing fabric was a little difficult. I changed to a different needle and increased the stitch length, but it still was hard. I had originally tried to stitch them down by hand but quickly converted to machine sewing. Next time I think I will try and make the yoyo’s into fabric by themselves without the background fabric and batting.

After the first few yoyos I realized that I really wanted them to be as flat as possible but not as flat as I would get from a plain circle of fabric. Normally when I want a flat yoyo I will get it wet and then squeeze as much water out as possible and flatten it with my hand and then let it dry. This time I had so many to do that I decided to lay them on my ironing surface and then lay a wet pressing cloth over them. After that I could use my iron to flatten them. That worked great. Problem though was I had forgotten that some of the circles had been marked along the cutting/stitching line with a blue washout pen. Since I didn’t wet them and squeeze out the water then let them dry the blue marking became permanent and it you look close at some of the yoyos you can see the faint blue marks. I rarely mark the stitching line now as I’ve made so many of them my hand is trained to turn under the ¼ inch without needing a line. But I still have some older yoyos made when I used the marking, so I need to keep that in mind before using the iron to flatten them.

I was delighted when I found some fabric in my stash that was designed in such a way that I could cut out some circles for my yoyos that would give me ones that were half colorful and half black and white. These would work for the ones just beginning to escape.

My next challenge was encasing the black and white yoyos while letting the color ones go free. I wanted to do a facing finish on the color/white section and a black and white binding on the black/white side. I added the binding to the right edge and then wondered how I could do a combination facing and binding on the rest. My solution was to face the rest of the piece including where the black and white yoyos were at the top and bottom. I then did a faux binding over the black and white portion.

Back of Escape

Still working on the official title for this piece. It will be along the lines of thoughts escaping a black and white world.

Keep stitching and adding color to our world!




Monday, October 5, 2020

Another Monday Night Tip

Well It’s past time for another Monday night tip. This one may appeal to anyone who uses a printed pattern for sewing or quilting. I discovered it when I was working on a common sewing task nowadays – mask making. This is good for anytime you are going to be using the same pattern for multiple applications or if you want to be able to see what you are doing when you fussy cut a design from your fabric.

After being a little frustrated with patterns on regular printer paper I thought what if I printed on something that was a little more durable. I had been tracing around the pattern onto some sew-in interfacing because it was a little more durable that the paper but sometimes tracing leads to slight inaccuracies. I thought what if I could print on the interfacing. 

I cut a piece of interfacing to paper size (8 ½ by 11 inches) and placed it in the paper tray of my printer. I left the regular paper in and just laid the interfacing on top. I was careful to be sure it was in straight and smooth. Then I hit the print button. It worked like a charm! I tried again with a piece that was 8 ½ by 14 because I had a pattern that was longer than 11 inches. Perfect! I printed a few more patterns without any problem.

The best thing is it saves time, they can be used over and over again, and they are slightly see through so I can fussy cut if I want.

Pattern piece printed with Sew-In interfacing

What you will need is some sew-in interfacing (not fusible!) that is slightly translucent so you can see through it. I used Pellon 910 Sew-In Featherweight Interfacing. That’s what I had on hand.

Carefully trim it to the size paper your printer can handle. Place it in the tray making sure the top edges is flush with the top of the paper tray.

If you have several pieces of pattern you would like to print you could set them up on a single sheet using any program that will allow you to add multiple images. I generally use Photoshop but you could use other graphic programs or even word. You just need to be able to add multiple images and size them correctly.

Hope this makes printing and using pattern pieces a little easier for you.

Be sure to test your printer capabilities to handle different types of paper. I use an HP Officejet Pro 6978.

I haven’t researched to see if anyone else has come up with this idea but it would not surprise me to find out that they have.


Happy sewing!


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Starting VS Finishing


I’m pretty good about getting ideas and starting them. However, I’m not so good about finishing them. I’ve tried various methods to try and overcome this, but I just tend to chase squirrels and go down rabbit holes.

Three of the art quilting groups I belong to issue challenges and I always plan to participate. I get my idea for the challenge and get started. Then for one reason or another I’m starting another one before any get finished.

A few months ago, I decided enough. ENOUGH. Focus. Focus on Finishing.

I selected five quilts to focus on. I could not add to the list of five until one was finished. I keep it at five at a time. I select one on the list to be my main focus until it is finished. The other four are for backup in case the main focus needs to simmer for awhile or I need to get some supply to finish it. I have backups I can work on in the meantime. This is my Focus on Five (FoF) method.


Most of my WIPs/UFOs are small; a few are medium (over 36”) and a few are large (50+”). I have one large, one medium, and three small ones on the list.

I will allow myself one plus if there is an upcoming deadline for something not on the list that I really want to do. This is FoF+.

This process is going to take some time.

Recently in one of my groups there was a contest to see who has the most unfinished projects. I had 36 that have been started; some more in the designing/planning stages, and a few more “want to dos”. Yesterday I remembered one more started but not finished project so now I’m up to 37. And there may be a few more in hiding!

So how am I doing with my FoF? Well one has ben completed and replaced. One will be completed today. And I haven’t started any new projects at all!

So it’s working thus far!


My list of five:







Red is finished!

 Nine Patches, Five Threads, in Red

Nine Patches, Five Threads, Red

Happy stitching!