Category Archives: Family

Chess anyone?

Fabric Chess Board

Fabric Chess Board

My nephew (who is 10 years old today!) visited us for Christmas. Before he came, his dad asked me if we had a checkerboard because he was going to give his son a chess set for Christmas but the board was too big and heavy to travel with. We don’t have a chess or checker board so I told him I’d make one. How hard could it be?

I picked out 2 fabrics that I thought he’d like.  One was a dark brown wood grain fabric and the other was a national park map fabric. I cut it into 2 1/2″ strips and started sewing.


2 and then 4 strips sewn together


Cut in half lengthwise


Sewn together and pressed towards the dark fabric

A chess board is 8 squares by 8 squares. So now I cut these into 2 1/2″ strips.


Eight 2 1/2″ strips



These were sewn together, sandwiched with batting and batting, quilted in the ditch, and a 1/4′ binding put on.

Finished chess board

Finished chess board

His new chess pieces are really cool. They are stone African animals.

Chess anyone?


Filed under Family, Gifts

Shower Caddy

I made this shower caddy for my daughter, Lindsey, for Christmas.

Shower caddy

It is made with laminated cotton fabric. I ordered this fabric from lu summers on etsy. I love the fabric and at the time I ordered it months ago, I wasn’t in a rush, so I didn’t mind ordering it to be sent from England and paying the postage. Laminated fabric is fairly heavy and this added to the postage fees. I was going to make this pattern by Terry Atkinson which I blogged about here

However, there are so many pieces with fussing and cutting, zippers and binding that I decided this was not the pattern to use laminated fabric for. I did an online search for “shower organizer sewing tutorials” and came up with this:

This pattern is a free tutorial by Alida Rad who blogs about DYI projects at She has many other fun tutorials for all sorts of things on her site. Her organizer finished is about 9″ long, 6 inches wide and 7 1/2″ inches tall. I used her pattern pieces but I cut 2″ off of the height. This pattern has only a few pattern pieces – 2 sides, bottom and handles. I added the pockets to the inside by simply cutting an 8″ wide strip which I folded in half lengthwise to create 4″ deep pockets (less seam allowance) on the inside.

These fabrics are all laminated

I had to do some research on sewing with laminated fabrics. If you use pins, they leave holes so you have to either use them in the seam allowance where the holes won’t show or use something else like binder clips or paperclips to hold pieces together. Another problem is that the laminated side of the fabric wants to stick to the presser foot and to the throat plate. I happen to have a teflon presser foot but I found that using my walking foot worked better. I used painters tape on the throat plate to keep the fabric from sticking there.

Walking foot and painters tape to keep the laminated fabric moving!

I added the pocket pieces to the sides with small pleats in the bottom to create room to insert things like makeup brushes or hair brushes.

Pockets sewn onto side piece

The next step is to sew the bottom to both sides.

Sides are sewn together.

Sew the bottom to the side next.

Held together with binder clips.

Lining finished.

The outside of the bag is sewn together in the same way except that there are no pockets involved.

Outside of bag.

Lining sitting inside of outer bag.

If I followed the traditional directions for this bag, I would sew the handles onto the sides and then place the lining and outer bag together right sides together and sew around the top. I would have to have an opening somewhere in order to turn it right side out. I did not want to do this.

The laminated fabric will not fray and at this point in my sewing shown above, with the lining looking taller than the outer bag, it seemed to be a brilliant idea to just fold the lining over the top and sew it in place. I had to decide what to do about the handles.  I thought I might just add them under the “binding” as I had in the original caddy.

Possible handle placement

However, this makes the handles somewhat awkward to use. I decided to simply make a “slit” at the top where each handle would fit.

Slits made for handles

Before I sewed the handles in and topstitched around the top edge, I decided to stiffen the sides and bottom with pel-tex. I cut pieces to size for the bottom and all 4 sides and inserted them in between the lining and the outer bag. The Pet-tex that I used was fusible so I did try to fuse the sides together by touching a hot iron to them with a press cloth in place. I’m not sure this fusing will hold indefinitely but I figured if it held it in place while I sewed the top edge, that would be enough to keep the inside pieces in place.

Inserting the Pel-tex to make the organizer more sturdy.

Finished shower caddy

The finished bag is a great size, about 9″ x 6″ x 5 1/2″.  It has inside pockets on all 4 sides and can be easily wiped off, inside and out if it get’s wet or dirty. How great is that? I can’t wait to try another project with laminated fabric.


Filed under Family, Gifts, Pattern review, Tutorials

Christmas Sneak Peek

I thought it would be fun to give you a little “sneak peek” of some of the things I’ve been sewing for Christmas but cannot totally reveal!







Shawn and Lindsey

Shawn and Lindsey



I wish I had time to sew a few more things but there will be plenty of chances after Christmas is over. Time to relax a bit and enjoy the holiday season.  Merry Christmas everyone!









Filed under Family, Gifts

Doll Quilt

I made a doll quilt today. It is only 14 x 18 ” and it took me all day despite being fairly simple (and small!) but I loved working on it. I used this tutorial by Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts as a guideline. I previously made a twin size bed quilt for my niece and gave it to her for her 8th birthday last year. She and her brother (and mother and father) (and dog!) will be visiting me in DC for Christmas. She has an American Girl doll that looks like her so I thought it would be fun to make the doll a matching quilt and give it to her at Christmas.

Twin size quilt

Twin size quilt

Doll quilt

Doll quilt

You know how a coin is often used in a picture to show how small something is? Well, I thought a dollar bill would be a better indicator for the size of this. The quilt was pieced using 2 1/2″ squares which gave a 2″ finished block.

Fabric squares on design wall.

Fabric squares on design wall.

Once I had those all sewn together, I added the borders and then fused 1″ square pieces to the middle of each of the 2″ blocks. I did stitch around the edges of these little 1″ squares to make sure they stay put. Finally I quilted the whole (little) thing and that was a real labor of love because I actually tried to match the quilting design to the larger quilt. The larger quilt was quilted by Marina Baudoin on a longarm machine.

Quilting on 8" block

Quilting on 8″ block

Quilting on 2" block

Quilting on 2″ block

Talk about “fine motor skills!”

I bound both quilts with multicolor binding.

Doll quilt

Doll quilt

I’m really happy with the result.  I hope my niece and her doll like it!


I guess they do!



Filed under Family, Gifts

Donkey Table Runner

I’ve made so many Christmas gifts in the past week that I can’t blog about because the recipient reads my blog.  However, my very own sister doesn’t follow me because she “doesn’t quilt/sew”.  So shhhhhh….. if you’re related to us. Here is what I just finished for her.

Donkey Table Runner

Donkey Table Runner

She owns a miniature donkey named Albert and when I saw this fabric by Laurie Wisbrun, I knew I had to make something for her with it.

Albert.  Awww, so cute!

Albert. Awww, so cute!

She asked me to make placemats but I just wasn’t happy with how my attempts at those looked.

Placemat attempt.

Placemat attempt. (Part of this may be made into a hot pad.)

Pretty boring!

Pretty boring!

I finally decided that a table runner would be fun (and actually much less work) and I wouldn’t have to decide how many to make. So I started cutting strips and placing them on my design wall.

Strips on design wall

Strips on design wall

For some reason, despite how simple it is, I liked this much better. This became the final table runner.  The middle strip has little dogs on it that look like my sister’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, George.





I did a little research on what size a table runner should be compared to the size the table is. The width should be about 1/3rd the width of the table. This makes sense to me because you want to have room for your place settings on each side. This table runner is about 17″ wide and on my table it is about right. Right before I put the binding on, I asked my sister to measure her table. I didn’t hear right back from her so I proceeded to finish the binding. As luck would have it, her table is much skinnier than mine – only 36 inches.  Oh well! Maybe she can use it on her breakfast counter!

Back of table runner

Back of table runner

If she get’s tired of the donkeys, she can turn it over and have this pretty print.

Merry Christmas, Sis!

Addendum: Here it is in her kitchen:

Christmas paperwhites and amaryllis.

Christmas paperwhites, African violets and an amaryllis.


Filed under Family, Gifts, Uncategorized

Christmas Tree Wall Hanging

I am doing a bunch of Christmas sewing but can’t blog about any of it until I give the gifts! So today I’m showing a wall hanging that I made my sister for Christmas a couple years ago.

Tree Wall Hanging

Tree Wall Hanging

The trees are paper pieced and I made up my own simple pattern. I had fun picking out the green fabrics from the quilt store that is within walking distance of my sister’s house – Sew Inspired in Simsbury CT. This is a wonderful shop about 45 mins away from Hartford.

Free motion quilting

Free motion quilting

My daughter has been asking me to make her a wall hanging with only 3 trees done vertically.  Maybe this Christmas I’ll get that done for her. Maybe!

Here is this one hanging at my sister’s last Christmas.


Addendum – I did make a smaller version for my daughter for Christmas 2012.

Smaller vertical version for my daughter.

Smaller vertical version for my daughter.

Quilting detail and wooden star bead embellishment.

Quilting detail and wooden star bead embellishment.



Filed under Family, Gifts, Quilt Shops

Quilted Christmas Wreath

Quilted Christmas Wreath

I made this quilted wreath last year for my mother-in-law to hang on the door at her assisted living facility.

Finished piece is approx. 13 inches square

I used this paper pieced pattern offered by Beth Maddocks at her Piece by Number site. After I did the paper piecing (which is done in quadrants), I joined the pieces, layered the top with batting and batting and free motion quilted it.

Wreath detail

I then added the piping for a nice detail. I have taken a workshop with Susan Cleveland about adding piping into the binding. I know that this is hard to believe, but I actually think that following her technique and adding the piping makes binding the quilt easier! I know that sounds crazy, but it is true.  Susan calls her technique “Piping Hot Binding” and she has these two 8 minute youTube videos that show you exactly how it’s done.  She has a “tool” that makes it somewhat easier, but is not necessary.


Notice that little piping!

Once the piece was all finished and bound, I added the buttons, bow, label and hanging dowel with string.

Quilted Christmas Wreath back

I made the label by adding fusible onto the red fabric and then tracing around an angel shaped cookie cutter.

Label on back

I hope that you enjoyed seeing this little project!


Filed under Family, Gifts

What was I thinking when I named my blog?

I finally have time? Really? Not for sewing recently!  Sometimes other things come up. Sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re not.

On a good note – the NeedleChasers of Chevy Chase Quilt Guild had our bienniel quilt show on October 12 & 13, 2012. I was the quilt show chairman. We had 2 years (since the last show) to get this one organized and there always seemed to be plenty of time to take care of all the details – right down until the last couple of months when the reality finally sunk in that this event was actually going to happen and we had to be ready. I had so much help and it took so many people working together to make this show such a great success.  And it was a great success.  The quilts were beautiful and our boutique and silent auction items sold and people came!

Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of pictures of the actual show. Lot’s of pictures were taken there, but not by me. I was too busy talking to people! Here are some that I think show the range of quilters in our guild that I have on my computer from the quilt registration process (shown alphabetically by quilt maker):

Pink Dogwoods by Marina Baudoin  27″ x 26″

This whole cloth quilt began with quilting the flowers, then free-hand designing the leaves and finally painting and dyeing inside the petals and leaves. Isn’t it beautiful?  Marina is an exceptional long arm quilter and does this professionally. See her website here.  There were many, many quilts at our show that were made by our members but quilted by Marina – including our raffle quilt!  Marina also helped determine the quilt display layout for our show.

Four Flowerpots by Anne Brill  46″ x 48″

This quilt was all hand stitched – applique and quilting. Anne loves traditional designs and hand stitching but also likes to make bags, notebook covers and small holiday themed quilts. Take a look at her blog here.

Loose Threads by Coralyn Colladay  40″ X 48″

Coralyn says that this quilt was from a class at the Mid Atlantic Quilt Show by Ami Simms and is a twist on the traditional bow tie block. I just love the different colored spools of thread! What quilter wouldn’t?  Coralyn is our NCCC treasurer.

Rainy Day by Jan Gavin  13″ x 19″

Jan took a workshop in deconstructed screen printing. This print reminds her “of panes of glass and the distortion of the light through water droplets”.  It is printed, layered with organza, enhanced with fabric pencils, machine stitched and quilted, and hand embroidered. Whew! Jan is one of our NCCC program chairs and helped chair the boutique at the quilt show. See her webpage here.

Friendship Ties by Joy Graeub 31″ x 48″

Joy likes to make quilts out of silk neckties.  I loved to point this quilt out to the men at the show. They were surprised to know what it was made from and often looked closer and thought they might have the same tie or two that was used in this quilt.

DC – A City of Neighborhoods by Alice Giancola  25″ x 29″

This quilt won the viewers choice “award” for the challenge quilt category (small quilt depicting Washington, DC). Alice worked long and hard on making up this quilt.  She used the neighborhood map from the Department of Planning and ethnicity information from the Center for Urban Research based on the 2010 census to indicate the varying neighborhoods in DC.  She hand embroidered all the names of the neighborhoods on to this quilt.

Happily Ever After by Donna Jacobs  66″ x 70″

(Sorry for the “mess” in the foreground)  This is a beautiful Kaleidoscope quilt made by Donna as a wedding “Chuppah” for her son’s wedding. It is one of the prettiest kaleidoscopes I have seen and the couple chose the fabric. Donna is one of our NCCC program chairs and was in charge of the Silent Auction along with her friend Ruth at the quilt show.

Onion by Clover Kemp  14 1/2″ x 17″

I really love this onion!  Clover machined pieced, appliquéd and quilted this quilt using commercial and hand dyed fabrics.

Redbuds and Rock Creek by Deborah Lamb-Mechanick 35″x 22″

This quilt has a lot of texture to it that is hard to capture in a photo. Debbie used fabric “lace” making, shrinkable fabric and needle felting to achieve this. Our quilt show’s “challenge” to our members this show was to make a small quilt that depicts something about the Washington DC area and this is what Debbie made. She walks her dog in Rock Creek Park all the time.  Debbie is our NCCC president, helped chair the boutique at the quilt show and you can see her webpage here.

Fireball by Donna Radner 44″ x 34″

Donna is a wonderful quilter who tries all sorts of different things with fabric.  She makes a lot of “series” of quilts and exhibits all the time.  This quilt was “inspired by slot canyons and striated rock formations of the Western United States. Curvy strips are cut from hand dyed fabrics, then pleated individually and formed to make a composition.  The strips are slightly overlapped and then fused to the background of batting and backing.  Machine quilting anchors the pieces to the batting canvas.  In this case, the edges are left free to provide additional depth.” Donna was instrumental in recruiting all the volunteers for our quilt show.  Click here to go to Donna’s website.

Dance of the Jellies by Joan Stogis  17″ x 26″

Joan used batiks, silks, yarns and translucent fabrics to make these jellyfish dance. I wish you could see this and all of these really dimensional quilts up close!  Joan is our NCCC web mistress and as a retired architect, helped determine and plan the layout and set up for our show. View her webpage here.

Silk Deconstructed #2 by Dianne Miller Wolman  23″ x 33″

Dianne says that she was inspired by the sheer silk hangings of South Korea called bojagi and by the multiple colors woven into Thai silk when making this piece.  It is hand appliquéd, embroidered and beaded.  Dianne was in charge of demonstrations at the quilt show which were a lot of fun and very informative. Many people who came to the show got to try one technique or another related to quilting.

The NCCC quilt show made enough money to keep our organization going for another 2 years in great style.  Other than showing our quilts to our family and friends, this was the objective – to make some money.  We want to have enough supplies to make quilts for our community service projects and we want to have inspiring teachers come teach us to try new things and techniques. We will be able to do both.

Unfortunately for me and my family, at the very same time that the quilt show was going on, we lost my mother-in-law.  She was 87 years old and just died overnight. For the past 3 years, or so, she had been confined to a wheelchair and living in an assisted living facility in Illinois. She had not been able to travel during this time so we only got to see her when we visited there.  However, before that time, she visited us often and when we look through our photo albums we see her in the pictures of all our happy events – vacations, recitals, holidays, graduations. Here is a funny picture of her with two of my daughters years ago:

At play in Montana

One year ago we celebrated one of our happiest family events. My oldest daughter got married in Illinois and Lenore was able to be there and “danced” in her wheelchair:

Granddaughter’s wedding 10/15/11

The photographer got a picture of her in the photo booth with my three daughters:

Grandma in the photo booth with my three daughters

We have lots of good memories  (and maybe some that aren’t as good – isn’t that always the case?) but we will miss you Lenore!


Filed under Family, NeedleChasers of Chevy Chase, Uncategorized

America The Beautiful

I can’t stop thinking about this song after traveling through Idaho a few days ago.

O beautiful for spacious skies

For amber waves of grain

Wheat field – notice the mountains in the background!

Idaho farm

For purple mountain majesties

Teton Mountains

Above the fruited plain.

We traveled through Idaho on our way to a meeting in Wyoming. Yes, we saw a lot of Idaho potatoes growing but it is the fields of wheat that had me in awe – and out of the car taking pictures. America is truly beautiful. At least this part of America is that has been able to irrigate their fields because of ample rainfall this summer.  Unfortunately that is not the case in many other parts of the country.

I floated in a raft down the Snake River this morning, and while I was in this patriotic mood, guess what I saw?

Bald Eagle


Filed under Family, Uncategorized

Fun in the Wild West!

I traveled to Ennis, MT last week with my husband and daughter.  My husband’s brother and his family were already there and we spent a few days with them . We did a lot of fly fishing.

Max and Maya


Linda and Jim

We fished during the day and we fished at dusk.

Fishing at sunset

It is so beautiful there.

Montana is called “Big Sky” country.  See why?

What did we do when we weren’t hassling the fish?  Fabric and yarn shopping!

Stitches That Bind
Quilt Store in Ennis, MT

You cannot believe all of the fabric and quilting supplies owner, Julie, fits into this shop!  It is well worth a trip to shop here.  Of course she has western themed fabrics, but also a great supply of batiks, modern and traditional fabrics and many, many interesting patterns.

Yarn store in Ennis, MT

The “CR” in CR.eations stands for Christine Rodgers who is the owner.  This is another small shop that has so much goodness packed inside.  Absolutely gorgeous yarns! Lindsey and I bought fabric and spent a day cutting it into pieces for a quilt for her and her new husband.

Ready to start sewing.

Here are the first two blocks of her maple leaf design quilt. All those beautiful batiks!  How do you choose which to put together in each block? It just makes you want to keep on making them. That is a good thing!

I left Montana a few days ago and traveled through Idaho to Wyoming. Please come back in a few days to see those pictures!

I’m not in Kansas the city anymore!


Filed under Family, Quilt Shops