Little Ruby in the House…or Hoop

littleruby2I’m so spoiled by these in-the-hoop little bags.  I’ve made them before, and on a day when I want to be productive, they are perfect.  They don’t require a lot of concentration, and they stitch up pretty quickly if you build them assembly line style.

I have learned to cut my fabric and batting ahead of time and line it all up on an extra table.  I add in the matching zipper, and it’s ready to go.  I love these bright layer cakes from Bonnie and Camille for projects like this.  “Little Ruby” suited me just fine.  But the advantage of a layer cake is that most of the cutting is done.  All the pieces are 10 x 10 or various cuts by 10 inches.

littlerubyprepI cut the sticky back tear-away stabilizer all at the same time as well, and that’s ready to go.

I stitch everything down on all the bags, take them out of the hoop and toss them aside while the next one sews out.  When they are all sewn, then I sit down and pull out the tear-away stabilizer, trim the edges and finally, press.

little ruby, bonnie and camilleTonight, I’ll head to the store and see if I can find some little charms to add to the zippers.

People just love these little bags…they can be used for anything.  The bright color combinations are so cheerful. I think I’m going to see if I can make some that use charm packs.  These are “cosmetic bag” sized. Charm packs would be “coin purse” sized, but they would really go fast, and I might be able to put a few in a hooping.

That will have to be my next experiment.



Lilacs and Chaos

When the chaos in my mind and in my sewing room reaches the breaking point, it helps for me to get out and smell the lilacs.


This is my favorite time of the year.  The promise of warm weather, the anticipation of wonderful, summery things.  Those last few days before the kids are out of school, when expectation runs way ahead of itself.  Lemonade and carnivals and rides on golf carts.

Green leafy things and colorful blooming things, and thunderstorms and sprinklers and fresh sweet corn and tomatoes.  Farmers markets, and sandals, swimming pools and vacation adventures.  Road trips and plane trips and hikes in the woods.  Barefoot feet and long conversations on patios, decks and kitchen tables with air conditioners humming.

Trashy novels with no deep meaning, except maybe a lovely or surprisingly sweet ending.  Grilled chicken and kabobs and sun on my painted toes.  Lawn mowers and bicycles and screen doors.  Red, white and blue, or basically white with any color.

Big juicy watermelons and fruit salads for breakfast with a warm croissant. Sunsets and bug spray, sparklers and beach towels.  Water slides, hoses, and ice cream trucks.

Parades, tears, laughter, dirt.

Lilacs open the door to it all.

Sewing room chaosMy sewing room is in chaos.  I have at least 3-4 projects running simultaneously.

But all is well and all will be well.

The lilacs are in bloom.


Fun With Chalk Cloth

Chalk ClothI’ve been meaning to work with chalk cloth again for awhile now.  I had made a table runner at work with “Chips”, “Dip” and other appetizers scrawled on it in the chalk marker. It turned out great and has inspired many others to try their hand with chalk cloth.

I made this one to sit on our kitchen island. With a busy household, we all come home at different times.  This way, anyone can make the grocery list right on this cloth and text me a picture, or I can leave another non-urgent message…(Hint: Clean your room!)  It also serves as a decorative table runner.  I could easily add a dowel across the top and hang it on a door so no one can miss it.

Chalk cloth markerI added a little holder for the marker so it doesn’t disappear as so many things do in our house.  The thing to remember about chalk cloth if you’re thinking about using it, is that you do need the special marker that washes off with a damp paper towel.  If you choose not to use the marker, you can certainly use regular chalk, but that involves a lot more chalk dust…and you must first prime the cloth by covering it entirely in chalk.  Use the side of a piece of chalk and run it from end to end.  Once all that is erased, your chalk cloth will then be ready for use with chalk and an eraser.  In the kitchen, I prefer the markers, which you can get in multi colors if you are so inclined.

chalkclothlaceI had a lot of lace from my mom’s stash, and so I added a little border.  Also, as you can see, I added a binding.  I do have a backing, but no batting in the middle. I added the binding by sewing it first to the back side, and then bringing it around the front and using a simple straight stitch along the front.  Fast, simple, easy!

Chalk cloth embroideryI used the Chalk Cloth florals embroidery designs from OESD.

They stitched out beautifully, although were a little denser than I expected.

Chalk cloth embroidery

This was a simple and inexpensive project that functions well in our house.  Don’t be afraid to try some new things with chalk cloth. Just a few other ideas:

  • Use as a wall hanging
  • Frame like a picture with a saying or just a cute embroidery design
  • Fun placemats for kids (and give them each their own marker)
  • Hostess gifts
  • Wedding shower gifts (Wouldn’t it be great to embroider Mr. and Mrs So and So on it as a table runner when they entertain?)
  • Little gift bags made of chalk cloth personalized with someone’s name

The possibilities are endless…and if you run out of ideas, don’t forget to head to Pinterest to be overwhelmed with them.  Have fun with this versatile and quirky product.

Machine Embroidery News

I have long thought that someone needs to create a place where we can all share news and ideas about machine embroidery.  All the information seems so scattered online.

It’s a lot of work to find out what designs are new out there on all the different sites and to see some inspiration.

So I thought that once in awhile, I might put together a bunch of links to things that are new, or hot, or just inspirational in machine embroidery.  I come across things regularly in my online travels, so I thought it would be fun to share…even if I haven’t had time to stitch some of it out yet.

Chalkboard ideas:

I’ve seen this in a number of places, and by now most of you are familiar with the chalkboard fabric out there.  It’s easy enough to purchase at your local quilt shop or hobby shop. has some great new chalkboard floral designs. These are next on my list of embroideries to try.

Here’s another link to chalkboard ideas from

Need some ideas?  Chalkboard creativity is everywhere on Pinterest.  Check out this and this.

Machine Cross Stitch:

Here’s something else that’s fun.  I made a few cross stitch designs last Halloween and loved it.  I think the cross stitch look for the holidays is charming.  Here’s a peek at my previous Halloween post.

But I found a site that specializes in machine embroidery cross stitch. They have designs for all occasions. They are appropriately named

Again, on my list to do.  I am intrigued by the possibilities.

New Releases as of May:

This is obviously not a complete list, but I hope to be able to build on this list every time I publish a Machine Embroidery News blog. So many times I have wished that someone would organize all this info for me.  So now I’m doing it, and sharing it with you. And I’ll update it as often as I can. (new releases) (new releases) (new releases) (new releases)

I prefer to stay with major digitizers until I have some idea of the quality, but I am happy to publicize the place where you purchase your designs if you want to share.

In fact, if you have something you’d like to see with regard to machine embroidery, feel free to leave me a message in the comment bubble at the top of the post.  I’d love to hear what you want to see more of in machine embroidery…whether it’s in the hoop, freestanding, contemporary or all of the above.  Let me know, and I’ll try to do a little homework on it for next time.

For now,  happy stitching!

Splendid Sampler Update

splendidsamplermapI love a good visual.

So I thought I would open with a map of all the participants in this project.  Pretty impressive, right?  Here’s a link.

According to Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson, the coordinators and people who apparently never sleep, we are now somewhere between 20,000 – 30,000.  Could that be right?  Many are not following on Facebook, but are making the blocks at their own pace.  (Just an aside, I ran into Pat Sloan at the local Panera while in Paducah.  She is absolutely as tireless and upbeat in real life as she seems online…and she looks just like her pics!)

A few observations…Japan and South Korea are in the house, but no one from China…a reflection of their internet access? So odd, because a disproportionate number of modern day sewing machines distributed here and around the world are built in China.

And no one from Greenland. Or Kazhakstan. (I know there are quilters there.) No one from Mongolia or from the middle of Africa. Much of the middle east is silent.

A surprising number from South America.  I did not know we had so many quilters in that area.  Australia and New Zealand, no surprises there.

Still not on board?  If you are mildly curious, here’s a link to all the block patterns so far They come up every Sunday and Thursday. If nothing else, it’s a great way to become familiar with new designers and block patterns.

We are somewhere around 22 blocks at this point.

splendid sampler 23Those are 6 1/2 inch blocks.  As you can see, they are getting harder and harder for me to fit into one frame.

Lessons I’m learning about myself:

  • I like to piece.  Easy, repetitive, simple piecing is unbelievably relaxing for me.
  • Paper piecing needs to be done in the morning or afternoon, but not after a big meal or if I’m tired or stressed in any way.  I need all my focus on getting everything in the right place.
  • I didn’t realize how much patience I have lost for anything done by hand.  Hand embroidery seems like it takes a lifetime.  All I can think of is that I could have digitized this and had it done days ago. And yet, I love the way it looks and I love the threads.

hand embroideryThis little design took me weeks.  Of course, I’m not working on it every minute, just a bit of time here and there.  Yet I am loving the texture of this thread.

wonderfilI found this thread at the Wonderfil booth in Paducah.  I’m sure many of you have heard of it before. It’s called Razzle. (Yes, they have a metallic looking thread that is called Dazzle).

Razzle has the weight of about size 8 perle cotton, but it’s a rayon.  So for those of you who are cotton purists, you’ll just have to look away.  Me, I fell in love with the sheen and the weight of it.  It was a pleasure to use for hand embroidery.

closeup This project is only about one fifth of the way done.  Eighty or so more blocks to go.

Will my stamina hold up?  Will I have the patience to learn more new techniques?  Will I lose interest in the color scheme half way through?  Will I actually create a setting for these blocks after the project is complete and finish the quilt instead of leaving the blocks neatly in their cellophane pockets in the binder?

I don’t know. I really don’t. A lot of life can happen in the next 8 months.  We’ll both have to wait to find out.

Stay tuned.splendid_button_4