Welcome to July and (in my book) the beginning of summer! We celebrate our Independence Day and many other holidays during this month.
There are a few hundred special days listed for July (494 to be exact) – but many of them are very odd and mostly special interest such as Dog House Repair Month or Build a Scarecrow Day. I chose a couple of the more sane holidays to include here.
Yes, ladies and gents, it is National Ice Cream Month. In honor of this I am posting a couple links to some free ice cream patterns suitable for large quilts or table toppers:
It is also Blueberry Month – and I plan to go to my local blueberry farm and do some serious berry gathering to make pies and jams and muffins. You can find a few blueberry patterns online, but they will cost you. You may do better to buy blueberry fabric (there are some yummy ones available) and put together your own “blueberry pie” quilt or table runner.
For those of you who love to see the bees in your garden, the 10th is Don’t Step on a Bee Day. (Bad for the bee, and he might retaliate. Bad for you.) Bees are very popular right now in fabric, so it is easy to do an homage to bees using your favourite quilting pattern.
I found a couple patterns that are free – and a video tutorial for “Bee Greatful” from Lisa Capen Quilts. (I thought it was grateful, but I guess it means be great?):
Again, the really cute bee patterns can be purchased. But I am not including links to any sites that are selling bee patterns. You are on your own. (Sorry).
One more dedicated day – July 14th is Shark Awareness Day. And for those of you heading to the Cape for the holiday or a summer vacation – the news is that a “great white shark migration” is heading that way. Word is that the only way to avoid the sharks is to stay out of the water (although Jimmy Buffet sings about the sharks that live on the land). At any rate – be careful out there!
Patchwork Posse has 12 shark projects with tutorials and patterns:
Even though the great outdoors is calling (loudly!) remember to take advantage of a few moments here and there to get on with UFO’s, challenges, and planning your next project. Small hand-sewing projects are the perfect solution for enjoying the weather and still keeping your hands busy – hand-binding, embroidering, sketching out your designs, mending well-loved quilts that need some TLC, and hand-quilting, if your talents lie that way.
Whatever you do, the buzz is live, laugh and BE GRATEFUL for all the good things summer brings!
What is it about February. It is the shortest month of the year and yet it seems to drag on and on with grey skies, sleet, rain (who’d have thought), then bitter cold and winds, then back to rain. And maybe snow at some point that doesn’t stay around for long. But the month is young and perhaps this will all be proved as being a wrong prediction!
It’s a good time to organize your sewing room – or that part of it that may have “frazzled” since the last time you did it: a thorough move-the-furniture vacuuming, dusting everything (no fair dusting around stuff), sorting, finishing projects, straightening up storage drawers, bins, boxes or shelves – whatever you use. And if you haven’t done it since finishing the last project, give your sewing machine some love by taking apart what you can and getting out the lint (which I swear grows inside the machine without any help from me!).
Many guild members are participating in a “Done is Better than Perfect” challenge to complete those pesky UFO’s. The first finished item will be due by the March meeting. There are four time frames: March, June, September 2022 and January of 2023. So, if you want something easy finished by the March meeting, fill out one of the sheets handed out for your use (this isn’t a test!) and then fill out the others for the rest of the year. The sheets are for your reference and to help you get organized. Then you will be ready for Show and Tell, if you want to show off what you have completed.
Just as a gardener plans the garden during the winter months, quilters can find all sorts of ways to use February as a planning/dreaming month. There are a lot of sites you can go to for tutorials and inspiration on organizing, finishing projects, help with cleaning your machine, using up scraps and moving ahead with UFOs.
There is no place like home. [Dorothy, in “The Wizard of Oz”]. – L. Frank Baum
Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. – Robert Frost
There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort. – Jane Austen
Traditionally we say that February is the month when cabin fever strikes a lot of people; the past 10 months have been a testament to traditions and how many are affected by having to postpone them. Perhaps this year a different way to spend February, and maybe March, is in order. Instead of Cabin Fever we could start a new tradition and celebrate our homes.
This next 5 to 6 weeks I am having my own little Celebration of Home. I am going room by room and planning to sew new curtains all around, finishing quilts for two beds, cleaning cupboards and closets, and dedicating trash bags of old papers to stoke a bonfire when the weather is a bit warmer than 5 degrees! [I know we will have company in June, so that is an inspiration to get more done!]
For quilters, there is a driving passion to sew quilts – but the traditional monthly “sharing of finished quilts” at guild meetings has had to be delayed, although we have been doing some meetings online. We will do the best we can and encourage you to send photos of your quilts to be posted on Facebook. Zoom meetings are – for now – a new, and hopefully temporary, condition.
To celebrate in a quilt-maker’s way, I searched for house quilt patterns. There is such a variety of patterns and designs, that it was fun just to think about doing some of them. Although I am still dealing with about 3 UFOs and not quite ready to begin another quilt – but close!
At Quilt Inspiration I found lots of free patterns for house quilts, wall hangings, table runners, mug rugs and potholders: modern, scrappy, wonky, traditional, bright colours, muted colours, and everything in between. The site was just updated January 26th, so although it says 56 patterns, there are many more than that. I especially like The Art Haus pattern. The blues are vibrant hues to chase away any kind of blue you may be feeling – especially when being blue means being excruciatingly cold – and the other colours electrify the blues.
Whatever has gotten you through January and whatever you plan to do in February, I hope that celebrating your home is part of it.
As usual, I have found a few other projects that may appeal to some of you and am including the links below. You will need to right click on the title of the WeAllSew and SuzyQuilts links and then click on ‘open in new tab’ to get to the article.
I have had several quilting emails this past week – and they are all about organization, which I wrote about earlier this month. In reading through them, I found a few more ideas – and a topic I had omitted, which is how to give your sewing machine a regular cleaning to start off the new year, and periodically throughout the year.
So here are a few more suggestions and follow-ups to Part 1.
Karen Brown at Just Get It Done has a declutter challenge which started on the 11th, so you have time to still be on top of things if you like challenges.
She has a ‘Before We Begin’ blog which is brief and will give you an idea of how she is going about the challenge. Karen gives some ideas for those profound and mind-boggling questions such as: Where will it go? Trash? To some other person? In a different storage container? In another room? Do I love it? Do I hate it? Will I ever use it? I am guilty of using my sewing room as the space where holiday tubs hang out until I am ready to pack away all the decorations until next year. And the tubs are still there! I am having a difficult time letting go of the holiday décor this year, as there is really not too much. And it makes me happy to look at what I did put up. [Packing it away is Karen’s Day Two of the 21 Day Journey to Organization; I am a bit behind.]
The Bernina ‘We All Sew’ email had a link to a thread holder system. However, if you are a bargain hunter and re-user of all things possible (as I am) save small plastic containers, such as the ones prescriptions come in, or cat treats, or small jelly and garnish jars (although I must say the plastic is much easier to handle. One dropped jar and you may have a broken-glass-hazmat situation.)
I put thread and matching bobbin in a plastic container and then into a pouch on my sewing table, because when I am sewing quilts, pouches, and other projects I may need to switch colours three or four times in one afternoon. Prescription labels are easy to remove, and the containers are the perfect size, most of the time, to hold one spool of thread and one bobbin. One drawback – you will need to label what colour is in the container, as the gold-orange medication bottle colour can make it difficult to distinguish darker shades of purple, blue, green, and grey. I spent a lot of time opening all the bottles until I found the right colour. Now I am armed with a permanent marker for future labeling needs!
This is only one possible solution for thread that can be useful for “in progress” projects and it works for me. If you have a method that you would like to share, please message us through the Guild Facebook page or email a description and photo if possible. We are always glad to share tips, photos and ideas from our guild members. Email address for submitting something to FB is in the monthly newsletter.
We All Sew (Bernina) has a very helpful post that is “All About Sewing Machine Needles”. It has lots of large graphics and descriptions on what and when to use what size needle and what size thread. I bookmarked this site as the information is handy and there is even a simple test you can do with needle and thread to be sure they are a “good fit”.
I am including a couple tutorials, since machines are different, but what you need to do to them as far as regular cleaning maintenance is basically the same, though everyone has preferences for how they learn; many of you can probably read your manual and clean the machine without having someone else show you how to do it. And take your machine to a professional for a regular thorough cleaning.
A word of caution from all of these tutorials: DO NOT USE CANNED AIR ON YOUR MACHINE! It can force dust and lint into places that you never knew existed in your machine, possibly ending in total destruction.
Here are a couple photos of the more than 40 pouches I made last year as gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and “just because”. Jenny Doan of Missouri Start Quilt was right in my case – making the pouches can be rather addictive! I added the wristlet and bead to the original design. I made mine the same size – more or less – but they can be as large or as small as you want to make them.
I hope you all got some useful ideas this month. Next blog will be sew much more fun!
January is the month of fresh beginnings, good intentions, organization, cleaning and making new year resolutions – and in everyone’s case this year – hopes for the New Year to bring goodness and health to all.
Traditionally, when I was growing up, the 12th Day of Christmas – which is January 6th – was the day we would have our tree down and set in the front yard for the town to pick up. The trees would be taken to an area near the warming house on the lake and me, my parents, brothers, friends, and neighbors would ice skate after dark while the trees blazed. When we got cold, we went into the warming house to drink – or attempt to drink – possibly the worst cup of cocoa any of us has ever had. We mostly held the scalding hot cup in mittened hands and let it warm us up that way rather than actually consuming it. I can still remember to this day how it tasted.
Last month, the weeks before Christmas were crammed with quarantine quality quilting time (QQQT!) – finishing up gifts for family and friends and getting them delivered [in what we termed the “Ring and Run” method of gift delivery]; doing some house cleaning after ignoring it for several weeks due to the fact that I knew no one would be here for the traditional holiday celebration; baking – even though I knew no one would be here and two of us would have to eat all the goodies by ourselves (so tragic! haha); AND trying to get some family papers organized (11 file boxes filled with documents and photos that I volunteered to go through] – well, all that activity for the past month has left me with a bit of post-holiday blues this past few days. I am feeling the isolation of not being able to be with family and friends, although we all talk at least once a week and text often, sharing news and laughing about this or that. So, I am very much looking forward to whatever the guild can accomplish to keep us in touch.
My daughter shared the following pun she heard on a show:
Q: What do you call a group of quilters gathering online?
A: A block party
This year January will be bringing us together via the internet – possibly for another 5 to 6 months. If we can meet in person earlier, so much the better.
Meanwhile, I am still trying to follow up on the one resolution I made, which is to organize what I want to keep, what to donate or sell, and what to toss into the “throw out” trash bin. I tend to think “oh, someone can use this…” and of course no one ever can.
My sewing area is the one place I have seen progress – lots of drawers, plastic tubs, pouches, and a small attic space that is right off the closet of the room and makes it easy to access. All tubs go there to live in the dark. Years ago, women had small sewing boxes that held whatever they needed. I have one that sits on the floor and opens accordion-style. It is full of mostly thread.
If any of you have theories or suggestions about organization, special ways to store your quilting items, and tricks you have stumbled on or read about that make your quilting/sewing room work for you and life easier – please share!
For those of you still looking for ways to be more organized, links are provided below.
In our house we love pillows – never seem to have enough! I also love pillow shams and made a couple after Christmas to match – more or less – a quilt I had done for Christmas 2019. And because I do not want this be just about organization – I found a couple great stash-buster ideas to share.