My Mini Pinnie

This month’s American Quilter magazine landed in my mailbox last week with the cutest pin cushion pattern in it!  I’ve been wanting to make another pin cushion ever since we had our pin cushion exchange at my quilt guild a couple months ago.  (I’ve also had half a bag of crushed walnut shells left over and absolutely no idea what to do with them.)

Problem solved!

IMG_2285 (2)

The pattern is called “Mini Pinnie” by Kitty Wilkin and it’s a foundation pieced pattern that is super easy.

IMG_2284 (2).JPG

I had nothing going on last Sunday afternoon so I pulled out some scraps and got to work.  I don’t recommend that you work on this while Skyping with family as that gets a little distracting.  My pin cushion came out a little wonky and I’m going to blame it on that but I still love it.

IMG_2289 (2).JPG

I was able to finish this little project in only a couple of hours.  It would make a nice gift for someone or just something pretty for yourself.

Pin Cushion Sewing

The quilt guild I belong to is having a pin cushion swap this month and I’ve had fun browsing through Pinterest looking for pin cushion ideas.  I finally found one I really liked and bought the pattern from the Heather Bailey webpage .

IMG_2191 (2).JPG

She has some adorable pin cushions and other sewing patterns and kits.

I ordered the Seymour Spyhop pattern and kit so all I had to do was sew it.


First, I cut out the pattern pieces.  These are small!


Included with the pattern was some fusible interfacing that you iron onto the fabric pieces and then cut out all the whale parts.

The first thing to sew were the flippers and optional fin.  I wanted to do the WHOLE thing so I included the fin.  There was a lot of clipping the curves for this project.


Then I sewed the bottom together and added my Orca parts.  So far, not too hard except for a lot of hand stitching.

Then I had to baste the fin to the top, sew the darts in the head and put the top part together.


Sewing the top to the bottom was the trickiest part.  I pinned a lot and went very slow.

After stitching the whole thing together, you  have to turn it right sides out.  I hate this part because it takes a little finessing.   Trying to get the whole thing turned through the little hole takes some patience.

Then it’s time to stuff him!  I used ground walnut shells to give it weight and make it a sturdy pin cushion.


I performed some delicate surgery to close him up.


How cute is this!

But wait … there’s more!


The pattern and kit came with a little bonus crab friend for our pin cushion whale.

He’s cut from red felt and stitched together by hand very quickly.


I spent a few hours on this project and I would definitely make another one.  Of course, this one will no longer be mine after the swap so I may need to make another one.

According to my pattern, you can get a little sailor cap pattern online so I think the whale without the fin but with a sailor cap would be a cute gift for my daughter-in-law in the Navy.

Skyline Pillow


I picked up the pattern to make this fun skyline project last spring while I was in the States.  I found out my daughter was leaving the St. Louis area to move to the west coast and I thought this would make a nice gift for her new apartment.

This pattern is from Shannon Brinkley and came with 6 skylines in the pattern.  I was a little unsure about the fusible products to use and the exact method so I ended up also paying for and taking her online class for $45.  You can find the class and lots of inspiring photos on her website at .

In the class, Shannon walks you through the entire process and there are different methods you can use based on your desire/time and what the end project will be used for.

The pillow I made came out a little bigger than I really wanted and I’m not entirely sure how to make it smaller.  I suppose you could take it to a copy shop with large copiers and reduce the size of the pattern.  Of course, that would make it just a little harder to cut around the little bits.


Here’s how I made this pillow.  First I took scraps and bits of fabric that I wanted on my skyline (My daughter has oranges, greys and blues in her decor) and ironed it onto some MistyFuse.  MistyFuse is a very lightweight double-sided fusible interfacing.  It’s like working with a spider web!  I don’t have one of those ironing pads so I had to use lots of parchment paper on both sides so there was no sticking to my iron or the table.  Then I had to cut the big fabric pieces into smaller chunks.


The next step was to trace the pattern onto some different interfacing.  I just used some lightweight fusible Pellon I had and traced on the non-bumpy side.


Then I laid my fabrics out and tried to cover all the spots.  This takes a little playing around with before gently ironing so that the fabrics are fused to the interfacing.  I had to keep the parchment on the back side of the large interfacing so I could later iron it to my large backing fabric.

Then you carefully cut out the whole shape.  This is the most challenging part of the project!

The next step is to top stitch all the pieces with clear thread or quilt it over it.  The pattern calls for doing this before putting the piece on the backing.  And I think that’s what I did – I did this last month so I can’t quite remember!


Ok, then here’s where you have different options to secure your project and also where I may have gone off the program due to confusion… or laziness.  I top-stitched all the pieces, then ironed onto my backing.  Shannon recommends adding stabilizer and zig-zag stitching around the whole skyline to secure it to the backing.  That sounded like too much work so I just used the clear thread and top-stitched the whole thing without stabilizer.

Then I added a piece of batting to the back and quilted the whole thing very tightly with vertical lines.

IMG_1744 (2).JPG

So that was my interpretation and I hope everything stays down.  There may be a little fraying on the edges with wear & wash but maybe that will just add to the charm?

Then I trimmed everything up, added a pillow back and sewed it all together.  I mailed it  to my daughter and she just had to stuff it and sew it closed.


This was a fun project and I think it makes a nice gift.  I noticed that Shannon has lots of World skylines on her website so I may have to make another one of these projects for myself as a souvenir of my travels.

Toy Sewing Project

I bought this stuffed animal kit when it was on sale at the AQS store because it looked so cute!  I thought it would be a fun project and a nice gift.

It’s called “Puppy Dog Pete”  and it’s an original design of Pauline McArthur of the Funky Friends Factory.

I don’t usually do much of this kind of sewing but the pattern was easy to follow and had helpful photos and illustrations.


First, I cut out all the pieces.

And followed the instructions for sewing the pieces together in the correct order.


When I got to the step of adding the button eyes and sewing on the nose; I felt a little like Geppetto.  My little dog was coming to life!


Adding the head to the body was the hardest step.  It was just some awkward sewing but not too bad.


Then he got stuffed and sewn up tight.



How cute is this puppy?  I cut the pieces one day and sewed him the next day.  It really is an easy project.

Now he’s on his way to a new home.

Maybe you would like to make your own Puppy Dog Pete?  There are many projects similar to this one; both patterns and kits on the Funky Friends Factory website.



Vegetable Bags


This is a project I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  I always usually bring my own grocery bags to the store and have been doing this for a while but I’ve been feeling guilty about all the little plastic bags I use for my fruits and vegetables.  Until recently, I’ve been saving and re-using them a few times.

The recently part is because the commissary (the grocery store on base) hasn’t had any little vegetable bags for the last few weeks.  It’s been making me crazy!  What’s going on?

It made me so crazy that I came home one day, went online and debated different fabrics, ordered fabrics from the U.S., the fabrics came in the mail, I dragged them home and get this:  I actually made some bags!

(I’m sure tomorrow the commissary will have the little plastic bags again.) It doesn’t matter though because I have my own little bags and I’ll be standing on  environmental high ground!

These bags were so easy to make!  I’ll walk you through the process so you can make your own.

Step 1:  Pick your fabric.  You really can make these out of anything.  I wanted light-weight, see-thru and washable so I picked these two fabrics from called Telio Mod Stretch Mesh (left) and Bartow Tobacco Cloth (right).


I wasn’t sure about sewing that mesh so I started with the Tobacco cloth which was very soft and lightweight.  It’s very loosely woven though so it requires a little more preparation.

Step 2:  Decide what size you want to make your bag.  I folded the fabric and cut mine 12 1/2″ wide by 16″ tall.  I kept the fold at the bottom of the bag in hopes that the bag will be stronger that way.

Step 3:  Finish the edges so the fabric doesn’t fray.  If you have a serger, this would be a perfect way to finish the edges or you can zig-zag the edges.  I just folded the ends a tiny bit and sewed very loosely.   When I worked with the mesh I skipped this step since it didn’t seem like it would fray.


Step 4:  Add a tunnel for a drawstring on both top pieces.  For my drawstring, I used 3/16″ polyester Cable Cord and I figured it would save me time to just sew the cord into the bag.  DON’T SEW INTO THE CORD – you want it to move freely.


Step 5:  Sew the side edges together.  You want to put the outsides of the bag together for this step and if you are sewing it with the cord inside, be careful to keep it out of the way and going the right way.


Step 6:  Turn it right side out and you’re done!


As you can see, the tunnel part of my bag isn’t sewn together.


I can pull my cord up at one end or both, however I like.  I’m not really sure if I can burn the ends of the cord or how to keep them from fraying.  I plan to consult with my husband who has more rope and cord knowledge than I do.


Here’s the mesh bag which was actually easier to make; just a little stretchy to sew over.  Also, I didn’t need to do any ironing on it.


There you go!  A couple hours of sewing and I have 5 fruit/vegetable bags that I can use over and over again.


Fun Little Project


Check out this cute heart-shaped pot holder that I made from a kit!  I bought the kit at Jackman’s Fabrics in St. Louis while I was in town visiting my daughter.  They had these little pot holders on display and had kits made up with all different fabrics.  I wish I had bought more than one now because it was so easy to make.


The kit came with all the fabrics you need, the pattern and very easy to understand instructions.


You cut out the heart pieces.

The directions said to quilt these parts lightly so I just quilted along some of the lines in the fabric for a criss-cross design.


Then add binding strips to the half heart pieces for the back.  Baste these heart pieces on and then put the heart front piece onto the back upside-down and stitch around the heart, leaving an opening to turn the whole thing right side out.  Then you just hand stitch the small opening you have left.


I wish I had used the small bit of red I had left over to add a little hanging loop to one of the heart tops.  This thing is so cute, I would love to hang it in my kitchen!

Now that I have the directions and pattern, I can make more.  You really only need small amounts of fabric and batting.  I would need to buy some of the Insul-Bright batting for the inside.  This is a nice product to use on potholders because it keeps the heat from going though the potholder and burning you.

And by the way, these would make great little gifts for that friend that likes to cook!


I was able to do a little more holiday sewing this week.  I bought a gift last weekend that was a weird shape and I was wondering what to do with it as far as wrapping or putting it in a card.  Someone suggested I make a stocking to put it in and I loved that idea.

One reason I loved the idea so much was because the person I bought the gift for will soon be joining our family.  (Excited clapping!)

Anyway, I haven’t made any stockings for quite a while.  I actually threw out our families’ stockings a year or so ago because they were old and dated and we weren’t really using them.  Long ago, I bought a fabric panel with printed stockings that you just cut out and put together.  This was before we had kids but somehow I ended up with exactly four.  Hmmm.

There were all kinds of patterns and directions online but I couldn’t find anything simple and easy.  I finally settled on using the tutorial from  but making my own pattern from an old stocking I had here.


So I doubled the fabric with wrong sides together and cut out 2 for the outside and 2 for the lining.


I sewed the lining to the outside for the front and the back and then sewed those together with right sides together.  Leave a small opening in the lining to turn everything right side out.


Then you just fold the cuff over and you’re done.  I wanted to applique an initial or something to personalize but that’s where it got tricky.  Now I see why some of the patterns had a separate piece for the cuff.  It would be much easier to applique or embroider a separate piece of fabric and then add it.  (You know I always do things the hard way.)  I used double sided fusible interfacing for the letter but when I went to machine stitch around, I just couldn’t maneuver that little opening in my machine.  I ended up doing a straight stitch close to the edge of the letter which is called raw edge applique.  They probably won’t be washed or used very much so hopefully it will be OK.  Now I just have to add a fabric loop for hanging and another gift is done!

Some Holiday Sewing

I’ve been wrestling with a very large t-shirt quilt for several weeks now but I’m finally just about finished and ready to move on to other projects.  Christmas is only weeks away and I was asked to make a nurse/doctor bag for my niece by my mom.  Apparently one of my nieces asked for a Pogo stick for Christmas so my mom thought her sister should have a medical kit handy.  My mom is a nurse so she was able to find the tools necessary to make a well stocked nurse/doctor bag.  She just needed a bag.

I found a pattern for a rounded purse which I thought looked like the old time-y doctors bags and Joann’s had their patterns on sale for $1.99 so that’s where I started.

I haven’t followed a sewing pattern in a while so it was rough.  Plus I really don’t like to follow those directions because I always seem to have a slight modification that I want to make and then things don’t go well.  With this pattern, I wanted to change the handle.  I couldn’t find just the right leather type handle that I wanted so I had to use a set of wooden handles.  A little weird I know, but I was trying to take some shortcuts.

making the bag

There was some pinning and stabbing.  I’m not gonna lie, I wanted to quit after the first side.  I re-pinned this thing about 4 times because I couldn’t get it just right.  But I kept at it and got the sides on.  Then the lining had to be added.

bag lining

I actually had to sew it in by hand so that it would attach to the zipper.

medical bag

And the finished bag.  It’s not the prettiest thing in the world but I think it will do.

Mom wanted a caduceus (I learned a new word there) on the side so I found one on the internet and tried out those iron-on transfer sheets.  Since the bag was dark colored, I had to get the ones made especially for transferring onto dark colored fabrics as most are made to use on white or light colored t-shirts.  I learned all kinds of new things with this project.  Who knows; maybe my niece will learn all kinds of new things with her medical kit and decide to become a nurse someday.  Mom would definitely love that.

Dorm Room Project

Summer is coming to an end here and I’m trying to finish some projects.  This project has been on my to-do list for quite a while.  My daughter kept mentioning that she wanted a bedside caddy for her dorm bed so she could have a place to put her phone and glasses and things like that.  The beds in the dorm at her university are about 4 feet off the ground.  They’re too high to make into bunk beds and too low to put a desk under.  It’s a little strange.  Maybe they’re trying to discourage the kids from having bunk beds or maybe they just wanted to make room for the kids to store things or maybe they’re trying to weed the kids out.  A nasty fall from that height could make it hard to get to classes!  I just don’t know but having her phone/alarm handy would be a good thing.

She may have said I should make one or maybe I said I could make one, I can’t remember.  I thought I’d be able to find a pattern or directions online but I couldn’t find just what I was looking for.  I didn’t know exactly what size the pockets should be – what kinds of things was she going to put in there?  Anyway, long story short, we’re a couple days from moving her into her dorm and I have no bed caddy!

Inspiration hit me when I saw a photo online where someone had hung a tool belt on the wall for a top bunk caddy.  I guess I could’ve done that if I had $50 for a leather tool belt but instead, I picked up a cheap canvas tool belt at the hardware store for about $4.

inspirationPockets galore!

I thought surely I’d find a tutorial for how to make a bedside caddy from a tool pouch online but no luck.  So, here you go world, here’s my little step by step on how to make a bedside caddy from a cheap tool pouch.  Disclaimer:  I really don’t know what I’m doing.

So you have your tool pouch and a couple of fat quarters of fabric.  Cut the strings off the tool pouch and tuck the ends back.

bedside caddyCut the fabric about 1/4 inch wider than the tool belt and I went 4 1/4 inches at the top.  Then I took that fabric piece and cut the same size from another piece of fabric.  I just thought it needed the extra weight for stability plus this will finish off the edges and make it look nice.

I sewed those 2 pieces with right sides together (leave most of the top open to turn) and then turned them right sides out and pressed.

making of the bedside caddyThen I had to hunt down a heavy duty needle in my mess and sew the tool caddy to the front.

making the bedside caddy2I didn’t sew the top part, just around the sides and bottom.  But then, I added a seam in the very middle so that it created 2 large pockets behind the tool belt.  I didn’t want to sew through the little pocket in the middle so I only made the seam a couple inches long.  These pockets in the back would be the perfect size for a book or Kindle.

One of the few tutorials I found online for making a bedside caddy had you add a piece of old blanket or blanket material to the top that will stick under the mattress.  I guess the blanket material isn’t too slippery so the thinking is that it’ll stay in there and not slip out too easily.  I didn’t have any old blankets so I used a little piece of cotton batting which is similar.  I’m thinking you could also use some of that rubbery- bubbly shelf liner instead.  It wouldn’t be hard to sew over and would keep the caddy from sliding out.

bedside caddyI stuck the batting between the top pieces about an inch in and then sewed the whole thing together.  I actually did three seams for extra strength.

bedside caddy from toolbeltThis could easily be decorated/personalized with fabric paints or colored markers.

And there it is.  Not a whole lot of effort went into this.  I hope it works and my daughter likes it.  Maybe I’ll put a couple of candy bars and a photo of us in there so she can’t help but like it!

The Moose

Morley Moose

I’m just about finished with my Morley J. Moose wall-hanging which was designed by Barbara J. Jones.  I bought the pattern last fall in St. Louis.  I just need to finish appliqueing a few things and then of course, quilt him.

So here’s how he was made:


First, I had to trace the back of the pattern which gives us the reverse for all the fusible backing pieces.


Then, I traced the pattern onto some lightweight stabilizer.  This stabilizer is where he is actually made.  All the little pieces of fabric are appliqued onto this stabilizer.


I traced and then cut out (in reverse) all the little pieces on a fusible web and ironed them onto different pieces of fabric.


I cut those pieces of fabric out and laid them onto my stabilizer Morley.  I didn’t stick them down until I was sure I liked the look.

* A note on the fusible web that I was using.  This stuff is called Appli-Kay Wonder.  I really wanted to love this stuff.  They sold it to me when I bought the pattern and it wasn’t cheap.  I thought it would be the miracle answer to my applique nightmares.  You iron it on one side, peel the paper off the other side and stick it down.  It’s re-positional until you iron the other side.  First off, I had to look up the directions because they weren’t included in the roll.  The online directions said use a medium setting on your iron but I had to crank it up to high to get things to stick and then I had problems after that of things coming unstuck.  The weight of it was about the same as other double stick fusible interfacing.  It didn’t leave a sticky mess on my needle which I liked.  Over all, it was just OK, not the miracle product I had hoped.

Morley moose

Anyway, so when I had things positioned and ironed down, I used a machine zig-zag stitch on all the seams.


Then I made the background – which I didn’t like.  I went back to the fabric store and bought similar colors but in more pastel hues.


I found a striped fabric and cut it in wavy strips.  I laid everything out on the new and improved background to see where to put everything.  Morley wasn’t sticky on the back so I had to pin.  The directions said to sew with several sheets of tissue paper on the back.  I understand that helps keep things from puckering but I could not juggle the moose and the tissue in my sewing machine.  I just went slowly and used a stitch on my machine that looks like hand applique.  Then I added the framing strips and trees.  Like I said, I’m not quite done yet but I think he’s cute.

Morley Moose