Traveling sewing kit

I am leaving in less than 36 hours for a trip to California, and a cruise to Alaska. My bags are packed, twice now…and I think I have the essentials.

One thing I enjoy while traveling is working on English Paper Piecing. Bonnie Hunter,, does this when she travels to teaching locations around the world. I started the year I went to Nevada when my Lil sister was recovering from knee surgery. The only time I sit and hand stitch is when I travel. (ūüźą in lap at home preventing hand stitching).

Anyway, I sorted out my never ending Double Diamonds project, and got things kitted and organized and all set to travel…..or so I thought. Today I attended a lovely gathering of the Material Girls Quilt bee, and Irene, our hostess, shared a hand sewing kit given to her as a gift by a dear friend.

Her friend used some wonderful Tula Link fabric.

There is a place to keep needles stored on the green wool, pockets for scissors and the awesome Vivilux light, and even a zip pocket and a holder for her Aurifil thread. I loved the idea and got permission to to get a couple of pictures.

After dinner tonight I decided to go PLAY for a bit in my sewing room. I got out 2 fat quarters and a scrap of contrasting fabric and some batting and got busy cutting, sewing, quilting and creating.

I made my travel sewing kit with 3 pockets, and also used a bit of wool for the needles and pins.

Travel fabric for the outside.

Transportation (blue) fabric inside. I fussy cut the fabric for the pockets.

Wide open it is about 8″x 20″.

On the left I have a spool of thread being held on with a tab and a button with elastic. Below is a pocket with 3 sections. In the center is the wool pin holder (with a bit of batting behind it). Below the pins is a larger pocket. On the right is another pocket with the opening on the side towards the center.

I managed to load an Altoid tin with bobbins (for lots of thread variety), another spool of Aurifil thread and my new lighted Needle threader in the pocket sections.

The center pocket has those clover clips that are like spare hands, my Vivilux LED light and a floss container. ( I fly with this, and use the cutter on the floss for my thread.)

This side opening pocket has my Double Diamonds directions along with a 1qt zip bag full of pieces and parts for 1 Double Diamond EPP block.

Now I am really packed and ready to go! Thanks Irene for sharing your kit and inspiring me to make one for myself.


Hot August Days and packing for Alaska

What can I say – it is just HOT !! ¬†Summer in Delaware and that is to be expected. ¬† We are in the “dog days” of August with Hazy; hot; HUMID; hot; thunderstorm weather. 3 out of 5 afternoons we have those drenching downpours. ¬†This is typical of our weather radar this month!


Time for thunderstorms

So; in between storms we have had lots of pool time, and lots of time hiding in the house with the air conditioning. ¬†Not much time spent in the sewing room, as over the garage it is challenging to keep it regulated to “comfortable” for any length of time.

Some evenings have been pretty pleasant after the string of storms cooled things off. We went to listen to our son in law play with his band, Lincoln City at a local restaurant, on the rooftop.

Lincoln City playing at the Counting House

His group is quite good; and it is fun to see him switch back and forth on his various guitars.

We also got an evening out at Abbotts Mill Nature Center for music.   It was nice to see so many families out for the evening.

Music at the Mill

And of course, in between times there is a little time for chillen’ on the porch! ¬†I just loved these wine goblets that were a gift at retirement.

Chillen' on the porch

Don’t you know, as luck would have it, the day after this photo; I dropped a chilled goblet, with the stainless steel freezer balls; and cracked it! One down; one to go! ¬†I like the plastic for by the pool and the porch (HINT FOR CHRISTMAS FAMILY….) and I like the stem!

We got lucky with the weather for the GLOW RIDE which was held in a neighboring town, sponsored by #LifecycleDE.

Getting the bikes ready

Over 80 people rode the circuit through Seaford Delaware including 2 Seaford Police Officers in the new “bike” unit.

Seaford Police riding the Glow ride

The last 2 weeks have been busy with quilt guild Community Sewing day; and board meetings; getting a newsletter article written; and sewing with my ladies at the assisted living. I sat at the kitchen counter and sorted donated squares for a solid week, where it was cooler than my room above the garage.

Sorting stacks of 5" squares

My co-chair for 2nd Time Around spent a couple of hours hanging out in the garage on a cooler day; bringing up the donations that we have accumulated over the summer and sorting them out and staging them for September work. We have LOTS ready for our September meeting to sell and even though I have been “staging the ready stuff” at the church where we meet, I still have lots to bring to that meeting!

The ladies who sew at the assisted living facility COMPLETED 15 placemats for donating to  Serendipity Quilt Shop, Dagsboro DE) for the MEALS ON WHEELS  project.

Brandywine Ladies with their placemats

They decided they needed a field trip; so instead of sewing this past week, we arranged for them to go shopping.  Five ladies along with the activities director arrived by the facility bus at the quilt shop. It was a great chance to encourage the purchase of needle threaders and top stitch needles with big eyes and flower head pins along with fabric and patterns and books. Three of the ladies are my die-hard regulars and they had an absolute ball looking at all the fabric and notions. One of the ladies is also a garment sewer; and she has made a dress to wear to a wedding in a lovely turquoise linen, and wanted a jacket made out of batik.  She had her batik picked out but I got to help her pick the piping fabric.  We were able to get a picture of them quickly in the shop with the placemats before I handed them off to the coordinator.

I’ve spent some time this month “pre-planning” my next great adventure. My sister invited me on another cruise, this time to Alaska. I fly to San Francisco next week so there is lots to get ready. Last weekend I did most of my packing; unpacking some after weighing the suitcase and repacking. I had to “pair down” a bit! ¬†Just how many hats and mittens and gloves should I take?

ALASKA packing

I eliminated most of them!

Packing decisions for Alaska

I have a friend who is on a cruise at the same time leaving from another port and we have exchanged packing lists of “must haves”. Packing for an Alaska cruise is so different from a European or Caribbean / Mexico cruise. ¬†I really had to think through what to take.

Before I get to that list, let me tell you about what I ¬†have in the “must have” for any cruise. ¬†I “must have” the following in my suitcase (in fact….I store most of it in my suitcase between cruises with the exception of the shoes) . This is my 21st cruise, and I think I have got the essentials without overdoing things.

  • USB/multi outlet Power block ¬†(There is a picture of it in the photo with the hats and gloves)
  • Wine bottle opener / stopper
  • vinyl luggage tag (like these on Amazon – ) for cruise specific tag
  • laundry bag
  • magnet with hook (cruise ship walls are metal)
  • clothes pins
  • laundry soap pods/dryer sheets
  • Sandals, sneakers, dress shoes (1 pair each)

Purchased new for this cruise specifically

  • ¬†“DAY PACK” (like this one on Amazon¬† )
  • Pop up style hamper to replace the laundry bag (tripped over one at Walgreens for $2.99 yesterday) (My sister had one I admired, easy to take to the laundry room which can be a long hike to the other end of the ship
  • a rain poncho ¬†(like this one on¬†Amazon¬† )

Those new items will stay “in the suitcase for future cruises.

I’ve cruised to Alaska once – in 2005 and know that the weather is constantly changing and subject to being hot / cold / raining.

Because I usually cruise in the winter to WARM climates, it is hard not to grab the tank tops, shorts and sundress, etc! ¬† I did pack 1 sleeveless blouse & capri’s “just in case”. I will probably fly home in them!

A necessity is a jacket/raincoat on an Alaskan cruise. Since wet & rainy weather is the expectation; I made certain my Columbia Ski jacket with the zip out fleece lining was sprayed with water-repellant.  What I like about this jacket is it can be worn as a unit or as separate  pieces depending on the weather.  I sprayed the sneakers and walking shoes too; and let them sit out in the sunshine to dry really well before packing them.

Waterproofing the shoes

I recently picked up a lovely poncho by Rain Caper (see the link for the rain poncho). ¬†The one I bought is black on one side and has a tan & black print on the reverse. Not as arty as the one in the link, but I think it will be more functional. ¬† I liked the feel of it and the style; reversible etc. It has little magnets in the corners to keep you from “flopping” in the breeze! ¬†I tried several over the years and decided this one is a winner. It is short enough that I can cycle with it on without being a hazard, long enough to cover the “backside”. ¬†¬†I like that it has a zip pouch that I can tuck in my bag too. ¬†I hate those plastic rain ponchos you buy at the dollar store. They have their purpose but they lack a lot of style !

Here is a look at my packing list for this trip (a 10 day cruise with 3 travel days before/after the cruise).  This is all beyond the normal dress dinner wear & shoes,  undergarments, pajamas, sandals and sneakers, swim suit and sunscreen, wine opener & stopper and refillable water bottle/coffee cup.

  • Fleece hat;
  • 1 pair mittens; 1 pair lined gloves;
  • binoculars
  • warm socks & sneaker socks
  • 5 long sleeve tee shirts
  • 5 pair pants (nylon/zip off legs) water resistant fabric
  • 3 pair leggings/tights
  • 4 short sleeve tee-shirts (2 performance wear for cycling / exercise)
  • lightweight zip front hoodie style sweater
  • sturdy walking shoes
  • bug spray
  • Columbia Ski Jacket with zip out fleece layer.
  • Rain Caper poncho
  • ball cap (to keep rain off my glasses)
  • Tilly sun hat

Yes, all this is in a large suitcase. I use those plastic zip-style compression bags to ensure it all “fits” and nothing gets wet when the suitcase sits on the tarmac at the airport or in the rain while loading. ¬†(Happen just about every trip….) ¬†I weighed the suitcase and it comes in at 43 pounds. Gives me some options for tossing in things like my English paper piecing project bag and other odds and ends I can’t quite live without.

I really liked the day pack I ordered; and it may replace the much heavier one I usually carry on the plane. My husband laughed when it arrived because he said I would “never” get it re-zipped into it’s own pocket. So, I decided to video as I “unzipped” it out of it’s pocket to keep as a reminder of how it should be “rezipped” later.

Zomak 30L day pack

Hey, when you get old, you sometimes have to have little memory triggers, right?

Our trip starts in San Francisco on Saturday; followed by two sea days sailing the Pacific coastline. We dock on Tuesday in Ketchikan Alaska. My sister and I are scheduled to go to the “Lumberjack show” in the morning; and sail at 2 pm. That should give us a little time to wander about town. ¬†The next day we are in Juneau, where I have signed up for a “Bike & Brew Glacier View” excursion. The bike ride finishes at a brew pub at 5 pm; and we are in port until 9 pm; so there is plenty of time to wander around Juneau. The next day we will be in Skagway and I have schedule a “rain forest bicycle tour”. ¬†It finishes up before lunch time and again, there is plenty of sightseeing time before we sail at 8:30 pm. We spend Friday sailing though Tracy Arm, looking at the glaciers and wildlife. ¬†We have another sea day on Saturday, and dock in Victoria BC on Sept 1st. ¬†I haven’t figured out yet what I want to do in Victoria. Sunday is a tough time to visit on your own (without going on a tour). Our time is port is from 7 am to 2 pm; so if you have a recommendation; tell me. ¬†Our cruise finishes up with another sea day going South along the Pacific coastline and dock back in San Francisco on Tuesday.

I think I am fairly prepared and 99% packed for this trip. At least I won’t need the warm jacket at home this week or any of those long sleeve shirts!! ¬†Fingers crossed that we have lovely 70 degree weather for the 10 days; but my expectation is wet and rainy at low 50’s. ¬†Watch for a travel update when I return.

What are you doing for fun this month?



Up-cycling a sofa cover

Strange title for a post but I have a funny upcycling story. ¬†My daughter had a sofa cover that was due for replacement and she saved the old one. ¬†Together she and I made a “big” draft dodger for her front door in her home in Texas. ¬†That was several years ago. ¬†For some reason I cut up the rest of the fabric and brought a large chunk of it home. It is heavy durable twill; not the prettiest green I have ever seen but sturdy stuff. ¬†I have used bits of it repairing a dog bed for my other daughter. ¬†Last week, in a moment of tidying up (aka searching for something in the sewing room); I came across the fabric. ¬†I also came across an insulated grocery bag that had a zipper problem.

Well, once I found the thing I was searching for (that delightful orange fabric for the bike bag) and got it made, I decided to take that insulated grocery bag off the bottom shelf and see about fixing it. I quickly determined it was NOT repairable. ¬†It was made of that cheap open weave fabric that felt almost like paper and it littered my sewing room floor with little bits of stuff as I carried it to the sewing machine. It was disintegrating in my hands. ¬†SO…..I thought about the bag; and what I could do to make a replacement. ¬†(These 90 degree days make you think insulated bag to get the butter home from the store!).

I decided that sofa cover fabric was sturdy enough to make a shopping bag from. ¬†I made a “test run” and immediately decided it was too SMALL. ¬†(I forgot to account for the inches in height you lose when you box the corners. ) So, that one got set aside and I decided on new measurements and cut out a much larger bag. I cut the lining out of a bolt of muslin that I had and then I disassembled the OLD bag and harvested the insulation. ¬†I had some Insul-Bright that you use in pot holders, but not enough for a whole bag. I cobbled together enough pieces of the old stuff and the new stuff to cut out pieces for a new bag. ¬†I also cobbled together batting scraps to add additional insulation to the bag. (I call it franken-batting…..because it is reminds me of Frankenstein). ¬† I used some 505 spray basting to hold the batting; the insulation and the front of the bag together before stitching the side seams. ¬†It worked pretty well. ¬†Putting those seams together with 6 layers total required a heavy duty needle and my walking foot! ¬†(The lining in muslin was a breeze).

I designed as I went and my biggest challenge was the lid. ¬†I added a “hinged” flap and 2 sections of velcro to keep it closed.

It finished at 20″ long by 9″ wide and 11 1/2 ” high. ¬†Hubby said the handle was long enough and sturdy enough. It is NOT pretty; but it IS functional and I love that I was able to recycle a bunch of odds and ends and come up with a durable bag.

Maiden voyage of insulated grocery bag

We usually do a big shopping trip at BJ’s Warehouse once a month. Hubby throws a cooler in the back of the SUV and a couple huge totes to contain all the small stuff. ¬†The cooler is never big enough. ¬†So; the bag DID come in handy to get frozen food home on a sweltering hot evening. ¬†It held a couple of boxes of ice cream bars; a container of lunch meat and a few other bulky items that were frozen. ¬†The only thing is it wasn’t tall enough for the pizza box. ¬†Since we “pack from the cart into the car” it was easy for him to load it full.

The test run indicated that the top needs something at the sides to ensure it stays closed; and I think I will add 2 small tabs with velcro.

Of course; it had a 2nd test last night……Smokey decided it made a really nice bed on the kitchen table….and the hubby caught him ! ¬†He is only climbing down because he got scolded! ¬†Hubby said he was snuggled in and settled for the night~~!~~

Apparently the cat liked it too

Hindsight …If I make another bag I will use the “inner form” foam to give the bag a little shape. ¬†And I will remember to hang it on the hook to keep the cat from making it into a bed!

Fun to up-cycle stuff and make it usable as something different.  And nice to get that old bag off the shelf in the sewing room.

What are you working on?

Where did July go?

Just thought I would pop in and say hello! ¬†Where DID July go? ¬†I don’t know about you but 31 days buzzed by in record time! ¬†We had the grandkids for a week over the 4th of July and enjoyed the holiday together! We got out “finally” to see fireworks at a local park and celebrate all together. ¬†There was a lot of ooohing and aawing…and ice cream eating happening!


The youngest held on up to the grand finale!  So much fun~!!~

There was some porch sitting – but only on the cooler days!

Morning on the porch

and pool time with all the grandkids and some quiet time too in the pool.

Pool Time

Hubby and I took a long weekend to go to the Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle PA where he won 2 prizes for his truck! ¬†His “celebrity pick” was a great honor~!!!


IMG_20190714_132124275_HDR (1)

The first place for his category was nice, but that “celebrity pick” was icing on the cake! ¬†Lots more photo’s of cool cars in my album here –¬†Chrysler Nationals at Carlisle¬† .

We met a US Navy man at our lodging at Carlisle Barracks with a pretty nice car and had lots of conversation.  He headed back home to his duty station on the day after the show finished. His route took him right past our house. He and my hubby had exchanged contact information and when he texted my hubby that his car broke down; we realised he was just 10 minutes away.

Hubby had all the tools; and they spent a couple of hours chasing parts to do the repair. ¬†We knew that if they couldn’t get it fixed, then we would put it on the car trailer and tow him home to Norfolk.

His beautiful Dodge Charger was something to see on the hoist in our garage! I have to report I was of no help other than feeding them both supper! 

on our hoist

Oh; and for making sure they had plenty of approach shoring to back off the lift without dragging something on the ground.

7 hours later the repairs were done and he was on his way home to Virginia.


We have been out a couple of times to listen to music at the local state park and enjoy the company of our other grand daughter and her parents.


There have been a few bike rides, but less than usual due to the heat and humidity.

Raindeer going for a ride


Two granddaughters spent a week with us, and we had lots of activity — Magic shows at the library with the granddaughters with a fellow that had some great entertainment.

best magic ever

A trip to the Delaware State Fair with 3 granddaughters & one daughter. ¬†Yes, that is me at the “welcome” sign!

Fun at the State Fair

We enjoyed looking at the animals –

Speckled Goat

and interesting vehicles on display too.

Natural Resources Police Vehicles on display

and to see the button crafts made by kids on display –

Button crafts Delaware State Fair

(I was inspired!)

A favorite activity was the “touch a truck” where the kids could climb up and inside various vehicles; like tractors and ambulances and even a police vehicle!

Harrington Police

We did lots of walking and eating and walking and then there were the rides for the big girls! ¬†They had “wrist bands” and could ride as long as they wanted! ¬†Three hours later they were running on “low battery” and we went home! ¬†Perfect timing to get home, cool off in the pool before dinner.

After the girls went home, Grandpa asked for help with some yard work. ¬†UGH…..¬† He had me working hard one afternoon loading the trimming from things he cut into his garden trailer. ¬†It was fine until I saw this snake skin in one of the limbs we were cutting. ¬† EWWWW…..

Snake in the tree branches

After the worst of the trimming was done I escaped to my sewing room for a few days.

It took me 2 quilt bees and a couple days at home to finally finish all the blocks and ¬†assembly of the king size “Scrap Dance Minuet” . (Pattern by Carole – From My Carolina Home¬†) ¬† This was a mystery quilt we started in January or February; and the final instructions were given in mid June.

King size Scrap Dance Minuet

I’m going to let it hang on the wall for a while; and decide about borders and ironing and such.

I cleared some space and did a little repair work on this bike seat. It goes on the frame at the back of my daughter’s bike to haul the youngest granddaughter. ¬†The stitching had come out on the seat belt guide on the right side. She had gotten a replacement from the manufacturer, but I decided to do the repair. ¬†I actually had the seat so I could make a carry bag for the back of it. In the picture below you see the straps (orange) and elastic for the carry bag. ¬†Once I got the carry bag made, I took the binding off the red nylon seat cover and tacked down the seat belt guides. ¬†I put a little stiff pellon stabilizer under neath to give the stitches some durability.

attachment points

Not sure if you can see the guide hanging loose on the right side. That is due to the stitching on seat belt guide pulling loose.

Repair complete

Both guides reinforced with stabilizer under neath the nylon seat cover. ¬†Had to reassemble the interior of the seat and put the binding back on. ¬†Stitching on the nylon is tricky as it wants to slip and slide and fray. ¬†I did some “stay stitching” before I reassembled it. ¬†It is definitely an improvement.

A promised project finally made! ¬†My daughter I ride with asked if I could make a tote bag for the back of the baby seat. ¬†It could not be “sewn” or clipped on the nylon; as it wasn’t strong enough to support the weight of the bag. I decided on adding a “band” like you see in the photo above that wraps around the inside of the seatback and goes “under” the shoulder straps. I was glad to have her “extra seat” here to help me think through the process. ¬†I can’t wait to see this “on the bike”. ¬†I may have to adjust the elastic band you see in the top picture. ¬†This bag slips on the back of the bike seat with that band in the first photo.

Bike bag attached to the seat

I added snaps at the top so she could close it and keep the “stuff” from bouncing out. ¬†The odd shape is due to the place it goes on the back of the baby seat and in front of the fender. ¬†I might have to shorten it and make it even with the bottom of the seat.

Bag opening

I made the bag out of ¬†“outdoor fabric” leftover from a project I made a few years ago. It is fully lined with the same fabric and should do the job.

Another month gone by with 5 more placemats made by the lovely ladies at the assisted living. I think they have enjoyed making them.    The stack is growing.  I am off to sew with them later today.

Hoping the rest of the summer is as busy and fun!  Enjoy !

Quilt as you go placemats and holiday sewing

It’s been a “few” weeks since I posted. Summer is a busy time. ¬†I continue to volunteer ¬†once a week with the ladies at the assisted living facility ¬†and they are gradually completing placemats. ¬†They are using the “quilt as you go” method to piece the placemat tops. ¬†One lady did two placemats in last weeks session; while another has worked on her’s for two weeks. ¬†It’s not a race; but I don’t want them to grow bored with the project. ¬†These placemats will be donated at Serendipity Quilt Shop for their “Meals on Wheels” campaign.

Ready to trim

I bring them home after they finish stitching and do the trimming; top stitching and binding.


Some of the stitching is a little shaky so I figured top stitching the seams helps them to “hold together” and be a little more durable. I chose some of the pretty variegated Superior thread and fun machine stitches.




It is fun to help them along and see the pieces they have chosen from my 3 boxes of strips that I have been taking.  I keep cutting and adding to the strip boxes during the week to get more variety!

Close up of 3 placemats

Sometimes the strips end up on a bit of a wonky angle like the center one in this picture; other times they are intentionally put on the diagonal. When they do that, I know their creativity is showing!

So far 8 of the 10 I had planned are completed. ¬†I asked the activities director if she would consider a “field trip” to the quilt shop this month so the ladies can “drop off their donation” to the Meals on Wheels placemat drive. ¬†Waiting on an answer!

8 placemats finished

This afternoon is time to go again and show off their work to them; and hopefully get the last two ready to trim. ¬†I made sure to do “my bit” right away last week when we got home from volunteering. ¬†Again thank goodness for my hubby and his willingness to go and help with machines etc.. ¬†(I might leave him home today as the grandkids are coming over “from across the bridge” for the holiday week and are arriving mid day. )

Speaking of grandkids and holiday week…..I can’t believe it is July already!! ¬†We made plans with my daughter and her family to come for the holiday week. Hard to find a week where they can get away from all the activities a young family has scheduled. This is the perfect week! ¬†I came up with a “plan” for the celebration on the 4th of July involving fireworks and a park and a car show, so something for everyone, I hope, to enjoy.

On Saturday while I was scrolling through my email; I saw a cute project on the Bernina newsletter, “We All Sew” ” page. ¬†The pattern is called Star Bean Bag Toss and is intended to “go outside” to play, take along to a picnic etc.

I thought it would be perfect for the coming holiday and had to “get busy” to get it made. ¬†I got the background cut out and stitched together on Saturday and some of the stars cut out.

10 points

30 points

After dinner on Sunday I finished making the rest of the elements and layered them up to attach to the background. ¬†Some fast raw edge applique stitching with Superior threads Red-white-blue variegated thread ¬†(Yes, I know the points aren’t’ perfect…but its done….before the holiday!)¬† I decided to skip the whole binding thing and do a turn, so I put the three layers together, sewed around the outside edge, and turned it right side out. I stitched completely around the edge 1/4″ away to close the opening and give it a finished edge. ¬† I quilted it using a wavy stitch on my machine and echoed around the stars.¬†

Stars and lots of points

It needs a good press before we play; and I need to get busy to make the bean bags.  I think I will get the grandkids involved with that tomorrow!

This was a fun fast project. ¬†Hubby will tell you that I disappeared into the sewing room around 7 last night and did not reappear until 1:30 am….hey….I was having FUN!!!

I’ve done a little other sewing too on my Scrap Dance Minuet project. ¬†The “final step” was revealed the 2nd Friday in June. ¬†I’ve been “assembling units” so I can make the blocks. ¬†(Pattern info on¬†From My Carolina Home¬† )

Blocks for Scrap Dance Minuete

I’ve had 2 quilt bees in June and got some of the blocks made during both bees. ¬†I think I have about 20 made now, just haven’t put them all back up on the wall for a photo. ¬†I have 56 to make so am about 1/3 of the way there!

In between this sewing has been lots of bike riding and pool time. My “Strava fitness app” indicated that I rode my bike for a little over 8 hours and 63 miles in June! ¬†WOW….won’t bore you with the maps but just know that I am getting a lot of use out of my bicycle; and enjoying the company of my husband along the rides. ¬†We have gone to listen to “music at the pond” and bands on the rooftop and are planning for a car show in July. ¬†I am also working out details for ¬†my next cruise coming up at the end of August. ¬†I guess that is why the blog has been so quiet!

Do you have any fun plans for the holiday?








Sewing with the Seniors

Monday was my first day back “sewing with the seniors” at the assisted living facility. I have not been there on a regular basis since last fall due to physical limitations on my part.

I have to say, I could not have managed without the participation of my husband. He was my “saving grace” getting the ladies machines plugged in; machines “reassembled” etc. Honestly; only one lady had the ability to thread her machine and needle on her own. The rest needed assistance with getting the thread through the guides and tension discs; and through the needle; winding bobbins etc. ¬†Two ladies “brought” their machines to our workshop. The other two ladies were using machines that were “donated” to the facility. ¬†Sadly the facility did not set up enough machines, so some ladies just got to “watch” and talk. ¬†I know there are other machines in a closet somewhere, but… staff to go find them. ¬†(This is a $15K/month facility and some things just make me scratch my head.)

I decided the project for the next few sessions will be “Quilt as you go” placemats. I chose this project because our local quilt shop has a charity drive going on. Here are the details from Serendipity Quilt Shop,¬†Dagsboro DE website —”¬†Studies have shown that persons receiving home bound meals (similar to Meals on Wheel) feel motivated to eat meals on a more regular basis if they have an attractive place setting.

CHEER has been serving Sussex County since 1971 and provides over 230,000 meals annually to eligible home bound seniors in Sussex County. This vital service ensures that no senior in Sussex County goes hungry. 

As quilters, we can support the meal program and these seniors. Use up your scraps or other fabrics that you often wondered why you purchased and make placemats!¬† ¬†Perhaps you’d like to attend a free¬†Sit & Sew¬†and make placemats!¬†¬†60% of home bound meals are delivered to men so please keep this in mind while sewing the placemats.

Our goal is to provide 1200 placemats this year. Please join¬†us in our effort to make our seniors feel remembered and cared for by¬†making placemats that are approximately 12‚ÄĚ x 16‚ÄĚ or 14‚ÄĚ x 18‚ÄĚ. ¬†

To prep for the day of sewing with the seniors, I cut backing fabric 15″ x 19″ and prepared batting of the same size. My batting was what I called “Frankenbatting”….scraps of batting cut and fused together with Pellon easy-knit tape (EK150), looking a bit like a mad scientist creation when done, but highly functional. I use this often and had to order a new ¬†package this week.

I really like this product; quick and easy to use. Just straighten the edge and butt the join together and press the tape down. I have BAGS of cut-off scraps of batting that are just “too big” to cut up for dog bed filler! ¬†This is a great way to use them. ¬†Anyway….once I had my fabric and batting ready; I used a bit of ODIF 505 spray baste and affixed the backing to the batting. ¬†I gave it a little press with the iron and in no time had 10 placemat sets ready for sewing.

The ladies were given direction and assistance as they sewed the precut strips I provided to the batting and backing.  We assisted with finger pressing in between strips.

Working on placemats


Over the course of an hour and 1/2 we played with a lot of strips.  Trish got one finished and started a second one.  The other ladies will no doubt finish next week!

I trimmed down the only finished placemat when I got home and added the binding. ¬†Trish had picked the placemat intended for a man. It has bold colorful stripes on the back and she worked with “non” floral fabrics.

Quilt as you go placemat by Trish

Off & on all week I have been trimming my friend June’s stash of blue & green fabric and setting aside “more strips” for next week; and selecting other fabrics that will make pretty placemat backs. ¬†Since I have all her fabric, and she is part of the group, I thought it was a great way to use her fabric. She enjoyed seeing “familiar” pieces. I enjoy that she is back to sewing after almost 2 years.

The ladies seemed to enjoy the project, doing something for someone else. ¬†They just “want to sew” and I hope that sewing for someone else will give them some personal satisfaction too. ¬†Honestly, the residents at this facility live in 1 or 2 room apartments and don’t have room for any “stuff”; so anything they make gets given away.

Taking care of some odds and ends

A few years ago, I made a project, called a Beatle Bag.  I wrote about it here Рbeatle bag .

This bag is my “take it with me” sewing kit full of all those essentials you need when you are “away” from your home sewing room. The pattern information is in the post¬† above from 2014.¬† ¬†This was a pattern I picked up at a quilt show and paid $20 for the pattern and the vinyl pockets. Note; not just any vinyl pocket – double ended with spots in the center for securing them in the beatle bag.¬† The “BASICS” of the bag are worth doing!¬† I have used the bag below for 5 years straight, so it is looking worn.

Well used beatle bag

I learned a lot about sewing through multiple layers and fighting with poor stitches when I had a needle that was TOO small during this project.  I learned that sewing through velcro required a #16 / heavy duty / denim needle, as did putting the binding on this project, after the fact. (Oh, the stitching is ugly).  Oh, yes, I used a twill fabric for the outside, not a quilters cotton as suggested. Could explain some of my issues I suppose, but it has held up quite well!

I take this sewing bag with me EVERY time I leave the house to go to a guild sewing event, a bee, a sit & sew etc.¬† It did serve the purpose for which I made it. So, my $20 was not a¬†bad investment….except….. I have spent the LAST 5 years swearing under my breath everytime I unzipped one of those vinyl pockets and came away with the slider in my hand.¬† I figured that I could carry on; with clips from the office supply store keeping the pockets closed. Bulldog clips; jumbo paper clips, anything I could find to keep the pockets closed.

My dear husband could get the slides back on, but not me.¬† He said – “Don’t over fill the pockets“.¬† Ok; I admit it….I put a few tools in the pockets, but not ALL the stuff that was on page 9 of the pattern.¬† No kleenex, breath mints; chocolate or aspirin.

Ok; I know…I should have had chocolate in there, but because I keep my sewing in the garage, I didn’t want to attract any bugs etc. Anyway, as you see in the photo below; the bags are an unusual configuration and you can see the “off tabs” inside one of the bags!

OLD beatle bag inserts

Anyway…. fast forward 4 years….and I decided enough is enough, and went to Walmart and bought a yard of vinyl.¬† I sew better now than I did than when I first made the Beatle Bag.¬† I was pretty convinced one day last year that I could “remake” those pockets. Then, as you know, I got busy. Vinyl sat on the top shelf in the sewing room, gathering dust. ūüė¶

Well….this week I got inspired when I saw a You-Tube video with Kimberly at the Fat Quarter Shop making a¬† Project bag¬† with a vinyl “window”.¬† Then I watched another You Tube “project bag” maker, taking a bit different approach¬† Another Project bag¬† .¬† ( You have to Fast forward to 3:00 mins to get to the project in the 2nd video.)

I had all the supplies on hand to “re-engineer” my pockets.¬† I had a yard of medium weight vinyl, lots of zippers, and 1/2 yard of 2 really cute “sewing” fabrics that would be fun to use.¬† I also know when to use a bigger needle when sewing through weird stuff.¬† (Or at least I thought I did….note – don’t use a 75/11 when going through multiple layers of fabric and vinyl…..upgrade to at least a 90/14.)

I layered up a fabric for the outside and one for the inside with batting; and quilted the entire 1/2 yard in a cross hatch (3″) pattern.¬† Then I measured out the size I wanted and cut the quilted yardage into 4 pieces.¬† I marked where the button holes should go, and was desperate for an hour looking for my owners manual for my sewing machine….and how to attach the buttonhole foot. After purging a supply of 2015 -18 fabric sales catalogues from my shelf, I suddenly realized I was putting the buttonhole foot on backwards. I never found my user manual …but I filled a waste basket full of stuff for the recycle bin. (Now that I am finished the book will reappear I am certain).

And, you would have thought I’d remember to put in a bigger needle after I did the quilting…but I didn’t until I had 2 done with some “crummy” stitches in the binding. Don’t zoom in…..(The life story of this bag!)

Beatle bag inserts reinvented

I made them with a zipper at both ends; and buttonholes (2) down the center. The vinyl pocket holds a lot of stuff!

Replacing the vinyl inserts

After I did 2 with RED edges I realized how silly that looked with the purple and green bag, so I went “SCRAPPY” with the remaining 2.

The picture below shows the reason I needed the button holes –

4 new inserts made

The sections are held in bag with velcro tabs that come up the center.

Hindsight – I probably should have “rounded off the corners and just done the binding all the way around; but I didn’t think of that until I realized that the “corners pop out” when the bag is rolled closed.

Beatle bag reinvented

Oh well; what are you going to do?¬† I think “leave it alone” at this point.¬† In another 5 years; maybe I will make a new one from scratch and modify the whole project at that point.¬† (And if you look at the post I first linked to , you will see where my hubby said to “square up the project, not cut it rounded”…lol).

I have “filled” the project pages with my supplies, and there is still room.¬† And the zippers work, so that is that! For now anyway~!~

Speaking of “odds & ends”, I finished Bird # 3; and got an eye on #2 & #3!¬† They are all seated politely on the sofa for a photo shoot….then they are “going in the Christmas bin” in the linen closet!

(A look back at this project here –¬†A week of Finishes and Fun¬†¬†

and here –¬†Cardinal block pattern ) .

Three cardinals finished

I had fun picking out black buttons with gold edges to use for the eyes.

Birds eye view

Edit – the cardinal pattern comes from¬†Mom and Pop Quilt Shop¬†– in Canada. The pattern is free and the page takes a bit of time to load. ¬†This is an EASY pattern and makes a pretty 12″ block. I added borders and quilted with one layer of warm and natural batting and muslin for a backing. After the quilting I turned the squares into “envelope style” cushion covers. They hold 18″ pillow forms.

Another little “odds & ends” job that has been put off for years has been taken care of recently.¬† I made a bag to carry my cutting mat, ruler, shape cut and assorted stuff back around 2010.¬† ¬†I have had a “hate relationship” with the handles ever since I made the bag.¬† The bag gets heavy and the measly handles don’t give you anything to “hold on to” when you carry it and they cut into my shoulder.

Disclaimer – It is not the pattern’s fault that I hated the straps….mostly.¬† The bag was made using a pattern I found online at Moda Bakeshop.¬† The pattern was called “Cutting Mat Caddy by Melissa Corry”.¬† (I just looked for the pattern, and can not find it online anymore.¬† I have a print copy in my 3 ring binder)

When I first made the bag, I used the “general premise” of the pattern, and substituted “leftover squares” from a quilt I made for my granddaughter and my sister (Ok….I got crazy cutting and making 4 patches at some point). Anyway; I made the straps the size she recommended, but¬† wrapped them completely around the bag and stitched them on BEFORE I sewed the front and back panel together and lined the bag. The pattern didn’t call for you to put anything “inside” the actual handles.

I NOW know that the problem with the old handles (left side of the photo below) is that there was nothing to give stability to the handles…..this was the first bag I ever made.¬† I have had the bag “sitting” in the sewing room for a year, waiting on new handles.¬† ¬†One day, I grabbed the bag and fabric and just cut off the old handles, and got busy making new ones. In the photo below, you can see how I attached the new handles.

attaching the new straps

Since making this bag in 2010 I have made a couple of other projects that had “better detail” in making bag handles.¬† I used a layer of quilt batting inside my handles; and did several rows of stitching to stabilize the handles.¬† The new handles finished off 1 1/2″ wide compared to the old ones that were 1 1/4″.¬† I figured with good stitching, the handles didn’t NEED to go all the way to the bottom of the bag!¬† (I did not want to take out the bag lining either!!!)

See those old handles on the left below?¬† I saved them as a reminder of how to do it “wrong”.

NEW straps on my mat bag

So; version 2.0 of my mat bag is a success.¬† It holds my 18×24 cutting mat, shape cut and long ruler quite nicely, along with anything else I stuff in.¬† I’ve had 2 “test runs” to quilting events already and it works great!!¬† Straps are long enough to go over my shoulder which is what I wanted.

Mat Bag updated version 2.0

I’ve enjoyed working on some of these odds & ends that have been pushed into the corner for way to long.¬† I’m swearing off new projects until I get a LOT more of the “bits and pieces” taken care of along with the “odds & ends”.

Glad to have some of these projects done and no longer cluttering up my sewing space & head!¬† What about you?¬† Anything cluttering up your sewing space that just needs an “afternoon” to fix?