The “final” two Snow Globes

Machine Embroidery – In the hoop projects — Snow globes …maybe they are an obsession….They certainly have been fun AND easy to make. I got some more water soluble stabilizer on Saturday and got a bit of time tonight to play.  I needed to make the last two snow globes before Thanksgiving.  Because the names are on the back of the snow globes, we are using them as “place cards”‘ for the dinner table. I hope the kids like them.  I do like to make ornaments for them.  Last year I did Gingerbread ornaments.   

Back of the snow globes

The theme seems to be “vintage” for these last two, which suites the two of us perfectly, since we are too! Bill likes trains and I like old sewing machines.

Vintage machines for me

This one is mine!  Hearts because I love old machines.

Locomotive Snow Globe

I picked a steam locomotive for my honey  While I was stitching this, he was around the corner in his work area, repairing one of his favorite locomotives.  It is one that has “smoke” and he had “gingerbread” scent in the smoke. I love the sound of the train whistles and all the noises those model trains make.

My blogging friend Judy asked about how long these take.  I think I spent an hour on both of them, including doing the names on the back. (I do the names first).  It helped that I had all the items ready to go, next to the machine, so I could add the layers as I went.

The machine embroidery pattern is free, and available from Kreative Kiwi

The last couple of days I have had the opportunity to be a “pattern tester”.  Once I get the ok from the pattern designer, I will share what I have been stitching. I’ve made 6 blocks for the test and might make a few more and turn the test into a baby quilt or throw. Pictures coming after her pattern goes “live” for purchase, so I can share a link !

I was gathering table linens , placemats and table runners to take to my daughter tomorrow for her to use on Thanksgiving. She doesn’t have all her things yet at home, so I am filling in the gaps. I realized I need to make 4 more Autumn placemats.  I have 8 and we NEED 10.  I’ve been fiddling around with AUTUMN blocks for 3 or 4 years.  Last month I made a bunch of STARS blocks in fall colors, so maybe by Thursday  I can round out the table a bit. (No pressure …but I can’t believe I only have 8!)  If I don’t get finished I have two nice placemats to work in. This is the year of the placemat I think for me.

Any last minute sewing before the holiday for you??

 

 

Snow Globes “How to’s”

Yesterday I shared a post More fun with Machine Embroidery.  In that post I talked about and shared photos of my “Snow Globes”.  Today I saw that Kreative Kiwi has a new video up to accompany the free Snow Globe Pattern 

COMMENTSKreative Kiwi does GREAT instructions that accompany the patterns; and Kay (Kays Cutz) does great videos.  It helps somebody like me who has to be shown how to do “new things” a few times to learn!  Go check out the  Snow Globe video

There has been a ton of discussion and questions, of course, on the Kreative Kiwi Facebook group about the project, and lots of fun pictures too.  It’s a great group to check out for inspiration and ideas.

Here are some things I gathered while reading posts –

VINYL —

1)Vinyl comes on a roll at big box fabric stores (JoAnn’s; Hobby Lobby or Walmart); usually in an area near the cutting tables at Walmart. Comes in a variety of weights.  For the snow globes, get the thinner vs the thick. I used the thick vinyl for a project bag –  Taking Care of Odds and Ends.

2)Vinyl document sleeve protectors in the stationery section. One sleeve for an 8.5 x 11 paper would give you at least 4 – 5″ squares.

3)Vinyl shower curtain from the dollar store.  (You could get a BUNCH of 5″ squares out of one STRIP off the bottom.

4)Vinyl zip bags sheets and comforters come from the store in. If there are stickers, peel off and use some alcohol to remove any sticker residue.  I got a bunch of squares out of one zipper bag. Some of these were really wrinkled.  I cut the seams and zips off and made a flat piece, then used a warm iron, layed the plastic between two pieces of flannel and “warmed up” the vinyl to flatten it out.  It softened up; flattened, wrinkles went away. Be sure to let it cool completely before moving it to the cutting table. I like the thinner feel of this vinyl for the project.

STATIC – I recommended a spritz of Static Guard spray on a tissue and wipe both sides of the vinyl. Kay recommends in her video one of those clothes dryer static sheets (like bounce/snuggle).  I know the Static Guard works, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy it now if I didn’t have it on hand.

SPARKLES/SNOW –  When you watch the video I linked at the beginning of this post, Kay shows you how she inserted the beads and kept them out of the way during stitching of the final round #10, which is when you attach the vinyl.  I had read a couple of posts from other people who did something similar.  I used another method……

I started my first couple with a tube of glitter for the sparkles/snow.  When it was time for round #10, I had my hoop “on the machine, latched in”.  Then I simply poured some GLITTER in the center of the globe, and carefully laid the vinyl over the top.

adding the glitter

This first couple of globes I was using the thicker vinyl, and had not employed the Static Guard.  Yes, the stuff bounces around a bit, but I would stop and use the edge of my stylus to poke the glitter over near the area that had already stitched.  I did this on every globe, no matter what my “sparkles/snow” material was.  I just started and stopped, poked and moved the stuff away from where the needle was going. (Round #10 is just around the outside of the globe).  The bigger objects were actually easier to prod a little. And LESS is best! (That is the consensus on the Kreative Kiwi group too!)

Glitter Sequins beads sparkles

Glitter in the upper left, glass beads and sequins, and metal spacer beads and foil spoke sparkles.  I seriously just dug this stuff out of the drawers and boxes of paper crafting, and jewelry making stuff.

I dug deep into a bin of “inherited” crafty stuff and dug up some vintage bits (circa 1997) –

Crafty stuff

The tree and balls are a little big, but the snowflake mitten and stockings are good sizes for a single item plus glitter.

In that same inherited stuff I this -The bits at the top were in a bag in the jewelry making stuff; some kind of stone with tiny holes.  The red, green, blue & white was all in a plastic bottle together and were useful. There were even some clear pieces and all different sizes to choose from.

More sparkles

And in another bin I found shiny hearts and crystal looking bits.

Hearts and beads

 

Some of these items were kind of thick, but that didn’t seem to be a problem.  I just made sure to go slow, stop and push the stuff around as the vinyl stitched down.  I even used the edge of the stylus to hold the stuff off to one side during the process.

IF you have to shop, look in the craft aisle at your favorite store. Little bits go a LONG way. I was at Hobby Lobby just yesterday and found all kinds of fun stuff that would make great “snow” in the globes, but since I already have so much at home, I didn’t buy anything.  If you are at the dollar store, look for the “confetti” that goes into greeting cards.  Think about paper crafting stuff you may have around….you could punch out some stars or snowflakes out of glittery paper.   I pretty much made my snow globes with things I had on hand already!

HANGERS – I used a variety of things, from wide ribbon to narrow glittery rickrack. Again; use what you have around. You could also use cording, card crafting bakers twine. One person in the Facebook group was unhappy with the thickness of her cord….so, consider scale. I like the blue ribbon below and the rick rack better than the red plaid ribbon.

Snow Globe FUN

I mentioned yesterday that I had to “stop” making these as I ran out of water soluble VILENE stabilizer. Since I had the opportunity to pop into Hobby Lobby, I was able to pick up two yards of 20″ wide, so I will be back to these and finish up the last two for Thanksgiving.  (I ordered some from Amazon and Walmart.com and am “still waiting”…..glad I had an excuse to go to Hobby Lobby!),

USE what you have on hand. These really only take 2 – 5″squares of fabric, a 5″ square of batting & a 5” square of vinyl.  I used a bit of iron on interfacing on the back of the globe as suggested in the instructions. These were all things I had on hand. I have 2 globes that are not Christmas fabric, and those two were unique to the 2 son-in-laws and their special interests.  Go create and have fun!! 

More fun with Machine Embroidery

I’ve been giving the Janome 11000 a real workout.  I LOVE that I now have twice the hoop size as my Brother PE500.  Going from a 4×4 to the 8×8 is HUGE!  So many things to do.  Last week I saw a pattern on a Facebook group for an “in the hoop” design that I wanted to try.   (In the hoop means the entire project is done without removing it from the hoop) .

The designer was asking what other sizes people would like and so I responded to her with my desire for something just a bit bigger than 5×7; that would fit my 8×8 hoop.  Now, silly me, I should have given her millimeters, not inches. Turns out my 8×8 hoop is NOT 8×8….it is 200 mm which converts to 7.87402 inches.  She added several more sizes of the design and I purchased and downloaded the one for the 8×8 hoop. It would NOT work in my machine!  I was getting this horrible message –

error message

I could not figure out what was wrong.    I tried changing the machine settings to the SQ hoop (8×8) but that didn’t work either. I deleted and reloaded multiple times and finally notified the designer that I was unable to use the product I had purchased.  After a few text messages, and my realization that 8×8 didn’t really mean 8×8 (open user manual and read!!) …she resized the product to fit!

wave pattern

You can see now on the screen that she resized the design to 6.7 x 7.5″ and I was up and running!  I had so much fun making the design and wanted the bigger size to accommodate my big cell phone.

Wave bag

Room to spare.  The phone is 6 1/2 ” long and this has “room to spare” on the finished bag.   I really liked the “wave” on the bag too!

Wave bag

If I made another one of these, I would probably put a tab on both edges so I could make a carry strap.  The pattern source – SunshineStitchesCA Custom Digitizing/Embroidery .  Dawn was a big help to me in resizing adjustments.  I appreciated her customer service!

I’ve made several other items on the embroidery machine this week, and a few of them have to “wait” for gifting before I can share them.

I can share with you some fun ornaments I made.  The design is from Kreative Kiwi, in the FREE section of their website.

In the hoop snow globe

There are about 10 steps to the snow globe, and the very last step includes laying down vinyl to keep the little sparkles inside –

adding the glitter

Did you see those pins on the outside of the hoop?  I learned that trick on one of the videos that Kay on Kreative Kiwi does.  It helps to keep the stabilizer from pulling into the hoop.  This project took 2 layers of Vilene wash away stabilizer.

Finished snow globe

My hubby said, after I did the first ornament, that it would be “nice” to put names and year on them.  So, I figured out a way to do that, using BOTH of my embroider machines. What I did was hoop “tear away” stabilizer in my Brother machine; and run the first two steps, then exit the program and use the Brother fonts and stitch out the name & year.  Meanwhile, the Janome was going on the other table with the first several steps of the front of the snow globe.  When it came time to add the backing, I trimmed up the part with the name, used a glue stick to apply it to the back side of the hoop and continue with the stitching.  I think it worked well.  (Note I chose this photo with the date showing but not the name for privacy).

When I get the hubby’s or mine done I will show you a better back!

Names and dates on the back

The project calls for vinyl over the top as part of the last step.  I have a big roll of heavy vinyl and I made a couple ornaments, but it felt really “stiff”.  I was reading online, people were talking about “upcycling” the vinyl bags that sheets and linens come in from the department store.  Well, I have a few of those in the sewing room and cut 5″ squares out of that vinyl.  I had also read that wiping a little Static Guard on the vinyl would help the sparkly stuff to move around better.   I had fun too digging in the crafty drawers for little sparkly things to put in the snow globes.

Here are some close up shots.

Fun with snow globes

Santa and crystals and glitter

Snowman and hearts

More snow globes

My daughter thought they would make fun “place cards” at the Thanksgiving table. I got 8 out of 10 finished before I ran out out the stabilizer I need.  Hopefully my order will arrive early this week.  The last 2 are for myself and my husband, and I may have to “stitch together” pieces of stabilizer to get the project finished!

fun with snow globes

These were SO much fun to make!! Kind of “addictive” digging through the fabrics and the craft drawers.  They really don’t take much material and it was fun to personalize them just a bit.

What are you working on???

Practicing with a new machine

I have been using my Brother PE500 Embroidery machine since I won it in 2013. I’ve learned a lot about machine embroidery and decided if I had the opportunity I would “move on up” to a hoop size bigger than 4″ x 4″.

20170302_170820

All of my friends who embroider know I have been suffering from “hoop envy”.  You see…that sweet FREE Brother could only do 4×4″ projects, and I was seeing all my friends upgrade to 5×7 hoop machines. I just haven’t used my machine enough to warrant an expensive investment.  Attending the Embroidery Club once a month has gotten me motivated to do more machine embroidery projects.

This past January a friend of mine was selling a Janome 11000 quilting sewing embroidery machine. I thought it was a great value and the increase in “hoop size” was exciting. This meant a new maximum embroidery size: 8″ x 11″  with the Macro Hoop, and other hoop sizes -5″x 4″ and 8″x 8″.

Well, when I looked at the machine being sold, and saw the capability and did research with one of my Embroidery Club friends…I knew I had to buy the used machine. Even though it was considered by some to be an “older” machine, it had all the bells (really) and whistles. It had a USB port; and a card slot. That means new technology and old technology. There were so many hoops included which made the purchase price a real value.  The original price on the machine new was over $6000, and I valued it on E-bay before buying. Today on E-Bay there is a new machine selling for $5495, and used prices run the range of $1100 to $3400.  I didn’t nearly  that  much,  just  a  bit  more  than  a  new  Brother  770. 

Fast forward to this fall, and I have finally had time to sit down and learn how to operate this machine.  From the “sewing” side of things, it has as almost as large a throat and capability as my Janome 8900 which I purchased in 2013. Certainly as many stitches.  The screen that is on the machine is fantastic- color-and huge, with lots of “help” videos.

First time I tried to use the automatic needle threader, I just watched the helpful video on the screen and was able to follow along with success.  Then, I discovered, even with a huge bag full of hoops and gadgets, that there were some “missing parts”.

I wasn’t worried about not having some of the sewing feet, but I was missing the embroidery foot; and my friend at Embroidery club gave me an extra she happened to have.  What was worrisome is there was a part missing that was critical to the operation of the embroidery hoops.  It was just a little “filler piece” but without it in place the hoops were not supported and all kinds of jamming up was happening.  I was distressed and finally gave up and took the machine in locally for service. The technician was able to locate the part and clean and test run the machine. I was happy to learn that the replacement part was under $5.

When I got the machine back home, I decided I needed to keep my eyes open for a table that would work well for the machine, and not be in the way of all the other stuff I have in my sewing room.  I picked up this cute little table on Facebook Marketplace for just $35. It has a thick top (with a little worm wood showing) and is set on this fabulous treadle base…and guess what….The treadle moves!   I used a layer of “rubberized shelf lining” under the machine to help reduce vibration.  There is plenty of room behind the machine for the hoops to move on the mounting arm.  I got out the command trips and starting hanging more hooks on the wall to get those various hoops out of the boxes and hanging up in a convenient spot.  Boxes are now safely stored, and all the parts like foot pedal and fabric guide are stored away nearby in a basket.

New table for Janome 11000

I got it all set up, and put it to work!  I set up and stitched out in the big hoop a label for my Spiral Out Quilt I just finished.

First project on Janome 1100

What I liked about this stitch out is I could stitch a temporary “frame” and know my alignment was here I wanted it.  If you zoom in on the above photo you can see that “frame”.  It was easy to remove after the final stitching was completed.

Spiral Out label

I had one “flub” on the date “2019”, but otherwise, I learned to set out and space the lines and to even bring in patterns as part of the process.  I worked my way through the the screens and options and was pleased with the results. My flub was a lack of “awareness” and a good learning time. A lesson learnt, and mostly a satisfying stitch out.

handstitching a label

A little hand stitching and the label was secured.  Note about labels — When I make a label, I take a piece of a fusible product, lightweight pellon etc, and stitch it to the label.  I stitch completely around, with the fusible side facing the pretty side of the label.  Then, I cut a slit in the fusible product and “turn” the label so it has a nice smooth edge.  I use my fingers and roll that seam flat, then IRON my label onto my project.  This does two things….ensures my label is “hard” to remove, and gives the edge of the label a nice finish.  I do hand stitch around the edges as well, and don’t need to battle with pins or shifting while I stitch.

I’ve had fun making a little “teddy” yesterday with my granddaughter.   It is available as a free pattern from Kreative Kiwi

Fun Bear

Of course, when you hop over to look at the free pattern you will see him in a cute little sleeping bag.  I couldn’t resist so I purchased the pattern for the bag and stitched it out last night!

sleeping bag

The bear went home with the granddaughter after we made it, but the sleeping bag is going to be a surprise. Poor bear spent a cold night, but he will snuggle into this bag as soon as I can deliver!

I’ve got other projects in mind for Christmas and am heading out to play in the sewing room !

By the way – we got a dusting of snow yesterday in Delaware…the first for the season!

First snow Nov 12, 2019

Just a little frosting on the roof and cold temperatures!

Hope you are staying warm where ever you are and having fun in your sewing room!

 

When Time Runs Away

I realized it has been TWO months since I wrote a blog post!  Time has certainly run away from me.  When I travel for any length of time, I always feel like I have so much to catch up on when I get home.  My trip to Alaska was fabulous.  In fact, it was so great, that another opportunity has arisen and I will be making a similar trip NEXT August.

My wonderful sister-in-law; Carolyn, known to many as the One Block Wonder Woman   suggested a QUILTING CRUISE !  She has suggested this before, but I always said no, because the cruise lines were not Princess Cruise Lines.  I’ve been busy building loyalty status on Princess, and was edging my way to the top level and didn’t want to miss out on those loyalty perks. Well, she picked up a flyer at a quilt show recently and low and behold, the quilting cruise will be on a Princess ship.  So; we are doing a 10 day trip out of San Francisco next August to Alaska and taking advantage of the 4 days at sea to learn and sew with like-minded people. This trip will include Sitka and Haines Alaska, which are new ports to me.  Of course, booking this trip and looking ahead at which class(es) to take etc has kept me busy. The big details are worked out; and in the coming months I need to figure out air & hotels; but for now, I am sliding the trip into the recesses of my mind and getting back to my current projects.

Would you believe I have a UFO finish?  It only took me 25 months…..Back in Sept of 2017 I took a class with Sandi Blackwell and used her method called Square-Agonals to make this –

Square-agonals BEFORE the cut

After some “slicing and dicing” of the block –

Spiral Out workshop

I reconstructed according to the SPIRAL OUT pattern, and ended up with this great project –

Square-agonals project

I brought it home from the class; did some quilting and then set it aside…..for 2 years.  Well, I had a 3 day Sit & Sew Camp at the end of October and got busy and finished up quilting.  I can’t believe I let it sit for 2 years when just the borders needed quilting.  I got the quilting done on the first day of sit & sew camp, and started making the binding. On day two, I finished making the binding and made a hanging sleeve too.

Spiral Out

Of course, I used my favorite binding method “Susie’s Magic Binding”.  (If you follow me on a regular basis, you KNOW that this is the only way I do binding anymore. All by machine!!  LINK to the method at the bottom of this post.)

Binding went on and the project was completed….sorta….It still needed a label.  More about the label in my next blog post! (SOON….really……)

Before I show you the back…I have to confess I was lazy when I quilted this back in 2017.  I used my Janome 8900 and let the machine do a locking stitch instead of being good and pulling my bobbin thread to the top.  While it looks ‘ok’ on the front, the back looks like a lot of “thread throw-up”.  You know, chunks where the top thread and the bottom thread get all yucky.  Since this photo I have used my micro tweezers and gotten a lot of it cleaned up, but it is NOT show worthy, and certainly not “judge” worthy.  Lesson to myself.

The other lesson is about “details”.  When I pulled this out to “finish” I could not remember what thread I had used to do the quilting. WHY didn’t I just pin a note to it..??????  Hindsight being 20-20, I won’t do that again.  When I did the quilting on the last two borders (the cream and gold border and the green), I ended up using a different thread.  I see it; but maybe others won’t.  The original thread was a silver variegated Superior Fantastico thread.  The thread for the last two borders was silver Bottom Line thread from Superior. It is slightly different, since the Fantastico is 50 weight and the darker silver runs through it.  The Bottom line is much finer at 60 weight and all but disappears.  (Wish I had used it on the entire project in hindsight).

So; here is the back…..and on the outer borders you can see how the thread is almost invisible.  And yes, I pulled my bobbin thread to the top and tied off…so it is a little cleaner all around the borders.

Back of Spiral out

So, here we are, nearly the middle of November and in two months I have one project finished…..at least to talk about.  I have a Christmas project underway that I can’t share until Dec 26th.  I will “write” and “photograph” along the way, and just save that post to publish after the item is gifted.

I’ve had lots of other activities going on, and will save them for future posts!  I won’t wait quite so long for the next blog!

Go hug a Veteran and thank them for their service!

 

Link to Susie’s Magic Binding

 

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, Quiltville.blogspot.com, 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. (🐈 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.

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.

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?