Can one have too much sewing stuff?

It’s possible!

Since we no longer do clubs at school, I re-homed three sewing machines and gifted fabric & notions to co-workers. The remainder of the fabric & notions came home and were promptly shoved in a closet until I had time to deal with it later.  This was mid-September. 

I was avoiding my studio. Time to take action.

“Later” became yesterday and today.  I needed something from the closet…and it kind of morphed into an organizing marathon. I spent several hours consolidating, sorting and refining my fabric/notions stash.  Two big bins of fabric are in my SUV ready to be dispersed at school tomorrow.  All of the “kid sewing” materials are in a single location. All the precuts are grouped together and in one designated spot.  You can actually see the floor of the hall closet now!  I purged the last of the “gifted” fabric and stuff I’d brought with me to this house 6-1/2 years ago.  The trash bin is full.

All of the PIGS (projects in grocery sacks) that I plan to complete are in bins ready to go.  Can you believe I had 8 tote bags full of STUFF?  This was almost as bad as when I cleaned up my sewing room after I finished graduate school and found 7 rotary cutters!!! All of the kits I purchased on previous vacations are now where I can easily view them when I open my closet door. Excess office supplies are going to school.

While I feel as if a big weight has been lifted, there’s still much work to do. Blame it on my new-found minimalist tendencies. Unless I’m going to use the item,  it adds value to sewing or it brings me joy – out it goes. Downsizing the stash will be an ongoing process – one drawer, one bin and one shelf at a time. Put it this way, I will not be purchasing any fabric, notions or quilting magazines during the first half of 2020!




More Featherweight Bling

img_20191127_222233_611My 1964 white Singer Featherweight is a pure joy to sew on…NOW.

Miss Fussypants (aka “Crystal”) had been giving me bouts of grief ever since she arrived in May. It all started with skipped stitches. She went to see the Singer technician. No more skipped stitches but still really tight and the machine seemed to struggle when sewing. Technician told me I would eventually need to replace the hook assembly. Did that. Adjusted the hand wheel and collar. Put on a Super Belt from the Featherweight Shop (hint: dust back of belt with cornstarch if it tries to jump the track). Purchased a pedal adapter so I could use the Bakelite foot controller without hurting my foot. Despite all this attention, Miss Fussypants was still not playing nice.

I was seriously considering selling Miss Fussypants when someone at the ATL Quilt Study Group suggested I try swapping out the foot controller. I’d purchased an electronic foot controller for my classic black Featherweight, so I had an original Bakelite foot controller that I knew worked well (it went with me to the FW retreat in Idaho back in June and had been adjusted by FW Shop staff).

What do you know? It worked! I have great control using the pedal adapter. Now, Crystal (fna “Miss Fussypants”) literally purrs. I can’t wait to start on the next round of Granny’s Flower Garden blocks from Lori Holt.

Additional accessories that I like for my Featherweight.

Super Belt from the Featherweight Shop
Thread Post from the Featherweight Shop (I’ve had better luck using this with my white FW and the thread stand with my black FW)
LED light from the Featherweight shop (bright white)
Ruffled spool pin doily
Dritz needle threader
Open toe foot (can buy 5mm low shank foot or snap on to work with adapter)




Quilt Retreats & Destination Travel

Last year, I attended a lecture by Meg Cox where she discussed the future of the quilting industry as the age of the “average quilter” continues to increase. I’m about a decade behind the “average quilter” but I can relate to much of what she said. Generally speaking, the “average quilter” already has all the machines, notions, thread, books and other stuff he/she is likely to ever need. Said quilter also has a fair amount of disposable income to devote to his/her hobbies. Marketers are designing destination travel geared specifically toward this demographic.

That’s certainly something to look forward to when I retire, but hey, I’m interested in retreats I can attend NOW while I’m still working full-time!

Retreat organizers – consider scheduling week-long retreats from June to mid-July, or 3 day weekend retreats in late September to mid-October and again in mid-February to mid-March. You’re more likely to reach those quilters with disposable income who are still working full-time. You might even attract younger sewists who can manage 3 day retreats, but not an entire week.

Keep the costs reasonable. $2,000 for a weekend stitching retreat in New England in the fall is a bit beyond my budget (especially when I still have to factor in airfare and car rental). And no, I’m not going to pay $495 for a one day EPP class – regardless of the instructor. Yes, there are those who will, just not me.

Fortunately, someone has listened. I’m already signed-up for a FW retreat in 2020. It’s during a week in July that I can attend. It’s only a few hours away by car. Nationally known teachers conducting the classes. The best part? All accommodations, meals and fees combined are less than the registration fee I paid to attend a retreat last summer in Idaho.

This means more $$ in my pocket to spend on supplies and other sewing events during the year.

And a quilter hooked on destination travel who will have the time to attend those amazing retreats in 5-7 years!

Woo-hoo! I found a replacement lid for my FAVE tumbler!

Sewing theme tumbler
purchased from A Scarlet Thread

So, I purchased this tumbler from a quilt shop in the Atlanta area last spring. It is a constant presence in my sewing studio. It even traveled with me to the JK Quilts/Featherweight Shop retreat in McCall, Idaho last summer. Do you have an idea of how much I love this particular tumbler? Besides the cuteness factor, it’s the perfect size and shape for my small hands to hold.

I lost the lid!

Since it’s not a Tervis product with lids available almost everywhere, trying to find a replacement lid that fit was like finding a needle in a haystack.

I’m happy to report that replacement lids and straws are available from Tritan USA. If you have a tumbler from your Baby Lock dealer that looks like this, then you might want to bookmark the TritanUSA site for future reference.

You’re welcome.

Heard of Cosplay, Comic-Con, Dragon-Con or SCA?

Canva - Woman Dressed As An Elf In Autumn

Picture courtesy of V. Borodinova

Home economics & school-based sewing classes may be gone with the wind; however, sewing definitely is NOT dead!  The Maker movement, coupled with a STEAM focus in schools, has made sewing “sexy” again.  High school students and young adults (< 40) have reignited an interest in garment sewing thanks to Cosplay (think dress-up and costumes for grown-ups).  Sewing, knitting and crochet clubs are spouting up as after-school enrichment clubs, in library Maker Spaces, at recreation centers, and in quilt shops/stitch lounges across the country.

While Cosplay sewing does involve garment sewing skills, it’s more costume oriented – which  means you may not have to spend as much time on the finishing details and fussing over fit. The main driver of the time, attention and care given to garment construction, fit and embellishment will largely depend on how many times you plan to wear the costume.

If you are a former garment sewer – now turned quilter or other type of sewist – do not be afraid to dust off those skills and offer to teach your DGD/DGS (and their friends) how to read a clothing pattern and how to use a sewing machine.  Costuming generally doesn’t require the precision and perfection of your high school Home Ec teacher. If you find yourself sounding like your old Home Ec teacher (unless she was nice), then just STOP IT!  Take a deep breath and remember creating is a messy process. The kids have to start somewhere. If you don’t, you’ll scare them off from sewing – and none of us wants that.  

If you are interested in Cosplay sewing classes in the South Cobb area, let me know. Classes can be held at either Mable House or at Stitch N Quilt.  

P.S. No sewing machine? You can rent one of my computerized sewing machines for $5.00 per class. 

Curious about Cosplay? Check out these links:

If you live in the Atlanta area, be sure to check out Best Fabrics and Gail K. Fabrics for awesome Cosplay fabrics that you probably won’t find at Hobby Lobby or Joann’s. 


Invisible Applique Hints & Helps

For invisible machine applique, the usual process involves tracing your design onto a lightweight piece of sew-in interfacing, (remembering to reverse the design where necessary), stitching it to the fabric, then cutting a small opening in the interfacing to turn the applique right-side out. You smooth out the design using a turning tool/point turner, then give the applique a good press.  A spritz of ironing spray also helps with crisp applique shapes. The applique is then glue basted to the background, lightly touched with an iron and allowed to set for a few minutes.  Then, the design is stitched down using a narrow zig zag and invisible thread.

Applique stitching particulars:

  • Thread:  Monopoly clear from Superior (loosen top tension to 2.5)
  • Bobbin Thread:  Any 60wt polyester will work
  • Needle:  70/10 Topstitch needle
  • Stitch:  Zig Zag 1.5 wide x 1.0 long (some folks recommend 1.0 x 1.0 for stitch settings – test your machine to see what you like best).
  • Foot:  Open toe
  • Needle stop DOWN if available

For glue basting, investing in a bottle with a micro tip is well worth the money. I bought a bottle of Appli-Glue with the micro-precision tip that allowed me to twist on a different cap for travel.  The glue part of the product works well, but I’ll probably refill it with good old Elmer’s washable school glue once it runs out.

Preparing appliques:

Use a fine point mechanical pencil for tracing designs (.5 lead size)
Test a variety of sheer and light-weight sew-in interfacing to see which one you prefer. I tried Pellon 905, 910 and the Lori Holt versions.  Personally, I prefer Pellon 830, which is marketed as pattern tracing cloth. It’s a poly/vicose blend that feels similar to Lori Holt’s product, but is a little bit lighter weight.

Sewing and Travel

Hubby’s surgery at MD Anderson was a success.  It was a long 10 days and I am SEW glad I brought a sewing machine and project to work on while we were there.  May I share some of what I learned from my experience?  These recommendations are based on staying at a hotel for an extended time (not attending a sewing retreat).

  1. If at all possible, take a sewing machine – preferably a computerized 3/4 size sewing machine like a Janome Jem 720/760, Elna STAR or Handi Stitch 210 (from HandiQuilter).  These are all essentially the same machine made by Janome.  It fits perfectly in a Travelon underseat rolling tote, so you can carry it on the plane.  Remove the needle, place a piece of foam in the bottom of the bag and set the machine on top of it.  Tuck fabric, batting and/or your sewing mat around the machine to protect it even more.  A Janome Jem Gold 660 or a Singer Featherweight are also options, but it really depends on the type of project you plan to do. I took an Elna STAR with me. I REALLY appreciated the needle down and adjustable zigzag.
  2. Unless your project is completely precut, take a folding 18″x24″ mat with you.
  3. Take a portable Ott/Daylight or similar lamp with you, along with a 6′ extension cord.
  4. If possible, take your extended sewing table (or get a Sew Steady acrylic table for your machine).
  5. Pack your rotary cutter plus an extra blade.
  6. Pack only your go-to rulers – (for me:  5″x15″, 6-1/2″ square and 2-1/2″x6″-1/2″)
  7. Karen K. Buckley Perfect Scissors are wonderful!  I took the lime green and turquoise sizes with me.
  8. Leave the iron and ironing mat at home – the hotel has an ironing board and iron.  But do pack a small bottle of ironing spray, a couple sheets of parchment paper and a travel size lint roller.
  9. Pack all project specific items – pattern, templates, interfacing, marking pencils, etc. in a ziplock bag.  Fabric, too!
  10. Essential sewing supplies – and only you know what those will be. If in doubt, leave it out. You can always buy one when you get there.

Things I really wished I’d brought with me:  wooden chopstick or skewer, hand sewing needles/thimble, pretty magnetic bowl and a “trash” bag (fabric or paper bag/tape).

Any must-haves that you would add to this list?

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