Tuesday Treats: A clever way to carry your Aurifil threads

I love a clever idea … especially when it is to do with thread.

When Lois came into the store to add to her thread collection last week she pulled a “necklet” of spools out of her bag to help with the selection of new colours.

Lois had strung her spools of Aurifil together on a ribbon

Lois had strung her spools of Aurifil together on a ribbon

She said she had linked the threads together like this

  • firstly,  so that she had a quick reference for the colours that she already had in her stash
    (maybe she is like me …I’ve been known to buy a book twice because it took my fancy)
  • and secondly so that we would know what colours already belonged to her

Well it took less than five seconds for us to see the possibilities of this idea, and I have already created one necklet of threads to carry around with my latest stitching project.

I've not got much further with the stitching but at least my threads will now stay together until the applique is finished.

I’ve not got much further with the stitching but at least my threads will now stay together until the applique is finished.

Don’t you agree, it is the perfect way to keep spools of thread tidy, and together, for each project that you have under way in your sewing room.

No more lost threads as they roll under a chair, or get left on a table when you pack up the current “carry around” project.

How do you carry the threads for your current project?

Leave a comment to share your clever ideas.


Tuesday Treats: a walk down memory lane

Recently, when I went browsing through an antique shop in Tasmania I came across a treasure trove of old threads.

It is amazing to see what can be found in an antique shop

It is amazing to see what can be found in an antique shop

It got me thinking about the sewing tools that were used by women in days gone by and reminded me of the beautiful sewing box that I had been shown by a friend.

This delightfully, carved, ivory sewing box was given to a family member in the early 1900’s so it is, or is close to, 100 years old.

This ivory sewing box was carved in the early 1900s

This ivory sewing box was carved in the early 1900s

The carvings were personalised so that each side of the box depicts a story of the recipient’s life.

One end of the ivory sewing box. Each image is a "story" about the recipient's life.

One end of the ivory sewing box. Each image is a “story” about the recipient’s life.

The tools that are stored inside the box are also amazing, an illustrated needle case & bodkin closure,

This needle case is kept inside the sewing box

This needle case is kept inside the sewing box

and a little container to keep the embroidery thread organised.

This is a clever container to keep the embroidery thread organised.

This is a clever container to keep the embroidery thread organised.

Another story about a beautiful sewing tool was shared recently by Deborah of Studio Dragonfly

If, for no other reason, it is worth reading Deborah’s blog to see the beautiful decals that decorate her old treadle.

Modern sewing machines do not have such decorative trims, although you can always add a skin to your modern machine to give it a little jazz up.

See the links for some ideas, or ask at your favourite sewing machine shop.

 Skins for Bernina Machines

Skins for brother machines

Today our tools are beautifully practical, but do not necessarily have the same decorative beauty, or personal significance.

Unless, of course you make them yourself.

Here are some great ideas from Tipnut to make a sewing machine cover to brighten your sewing room.

Tuesday Treats: Playing with Colour

This post is a day late but I’ve been playing with colour.

What am I going to do with fabrics in these colour combinations?

Following on from my last post, I really did have a great quilty day on Saturday as I went fabric shopping on the way home from the friendship meeting.

If I wanted to pass the blame for the spend up, it would be to the two friends who had arrived late after having been shopping on the way to the meeting. Their purchases were just so tempting … well I am sure that you know the rest of the story.

I  told myself I would just go to “have a look” as I really didn’t need any more fabric at the moment.  Well as often happens, I fell in love with this big bold flower print. I know it has been around for a while but I still love it.

I love this big bold print “Sakura” for Red Rooster

Then of course, I had to buy some coordinating colours.

The coordinating colours that I chose are mish mash of styles & print sizes

I just picked out lights, mediums & darks in colour families from the print, but I know that people often use the colour dots along the selvedge as a guide.

The information along the selvedge can be a handy tool for picking coordinating colours

This is a handy hint if you want extra fabrics to coordinate with something purchased earlier … you only need to carry a small strip to the shop rather than the meterage.

I have no particular plans for this purchase, but I do have some ideas playing in my head. The prints are a bit of a mish mash … bold floral, little flower prints & modern geometrics all mixed together but I’ve always enjoyed mixing it up by colour value.

Which brings me to the link that I want to share today:

Sorting your stash is a very helpful post on the Martingale blog. It includes a great workshop lesson from the “Color for the Terrified Quilter” by the authors  Sharon Pederson and Ionne McCauley.

Please join in the fun and leave a comment to share your best hint for sorting fabrics by colour.

Tuesday Treats: Are you safe in your sewing room?

Well not really a “treat” this week, as I am concentrating on health and safety after reading an article recently that set me thinking about how we work in our sewing rooms.

We all pay attention to Health & Safety practices in the workplace, and on the road, but have you thought about how you “work” in your sewing room /corner?

Good health and safety work practices are expected, and accepted as the norm in Australia

Good health and safety work practices are expected, and accepted as the norm, in Australia

Patchwork, quilting and sewing in general can be quite injurious to our health so it is something that we should all consider.

If you have small children I bet you are already conscious of the sharp objects that we use, and work to keep them out of reach of small hands

  • pins
  • scissors
  • rotary cutters

One hint I read that really appealed to me was, when sewing with small children, instead of putting them in a play pen put the “fencing” around the sewing machine, so that you work in a space that the children can’t reach, and they can move around more freely.

You will both be happy, and if a stray pin drops on the floor it will not matter.

What about safety around electrical appliances?

  • sewing machine
  • iron

If you take these to workshops that are held in hired venues, with public liability insurance obligations, you are now required to have them “tagged” as being electrically safe to use.

So at the very least, for working at home, it is good practice to learn how to look after your machine and plan to have it serviced regularly.

Play safe, have your sewing machine serviced regularly

Also get into the habit of visually checking the power cord on the iron to make sure that it has not frayed, or developed a kink that could damage the wiring.

The cost of replacing an iron is minimal when compared to the damage that could occur if it has faulty wiring.

If you work with dyes and paints I am sure that you are aware of the basic safety procedures for storing and working with chemicals:

  • use gloves & masks
  • working in open spaces
  • not using utensils that will be put back into use in the kitchen
  • storing the paints & dyes in a secure spot away from inquisitive children

Safety gloves should be worn when working with dyes & paints

But back to the story that got me started on this safety post.

Like me, I am sure you have been told to NEVER put pins in your mouth in case you swallow one.

I think it was the first thing my mother ever taught me about sewing, but I still did it every so often as it meant that the pins were easy to grab when I needed them. (well I did this until I started making wrist pin cushions)

Well after reading Annie’s story, pins in the mouth will forever be a thing of the past.

She didn’t swallow the pin, she accidentally inhaled it, which resulted in surgery to remove a portion of her lung.

The best thing about being part of the patchwork, quilting and embroidery world is that everyone shares a love of textiles, so feel free to comment, to add your thoughts and hints about working safely in the sewing room to keep us all healthy.

Tuesday Treats: Do you want to make a pretty wrist pin cushion?

I was wondering what to share with you this week when I found a link to a tutorial for a pretty wrist pincushion.

A pretty wrist pincushion, designed by Michael Ann. Scroll down the page to find the link the tutorial on her blog.

As I looked at Michael Ann’s pin cushion, and then at the tatty one that I am using, I realised that it was time to retire my poor, hard-working wrist pin cushion.

My raggedy old wrist pin cushion was made with four small half-square triangle blocks

Since it was made four years (or more) ago,  my pin cushion has had a hard life, working with me, as I’ve loaded quilts on & off a longarm machine.

  • it has been worn nearly every day,
  • has been stuck with 2″ safety pins rather than neat little dressmaking pins
  • has saved my hand & wrist from injury many times when I’ve overloaded it with pins

As my Mother would say, it certainly doesn’t owe me anything and, as soon as I saw that pretty pin cushion on the Michael Ann Made blog, I knew that it was time to let it go.

I like Michael Ann’s idea of elastic to hold cushion in place. I had used velcro on mine and it was okay but I think elastic will be better.

She has used a piece of cardboard as the base of her pin cushion, however, I use much thicker, heavy-duty pins, so  I think that I will use a plastic base again, just to be sure that the pins do not stick straight through the cushion into my wrist.

Last time I cut a square from some templastic but I rather fancy a round pin cushion this time, and found just the right size piece of plastic sitting in the kitchen (left over from lunch).

I will also use wool batting off cuts to stuff the cushion as I found that the batting held its shape, and stood up to the use well, in the old cushion.

Choose flexible plastic for the base of a wrist pin cushion.

I’ve even found some fabric that will be perfect. I love the bright, modern print in this square from the “Simply Colour” Moda charm pack.

This is one of the 5″ squares from the Simply Colour Moda charm pack

Now all I have to do is, chop up some wool batting to make the filling for the pin cushion, and  go back to read Michael Ann’s Wrist Pincushion tutorial to see how she made that pretty frill.

Until next Tuesday,  I hope you have fun making your own pretty pin cushions!

Do you have a PPP?

Do you have a PPP?…….. a Patchwork Project Pantry!

You probably do, even though you may not realise it.  By PPP, I mean a place where you store all the  “ingredients” for the project(s) you intend to make in the future.  Your PPP may include fabrics ( specially purchased or pulled from your stash) patterns, threads to match the fabrics (Aurifil of course!), and tools such as freezer paper and fabric markers which will be used in the project construction.This is my next intended project, another cushion, this time from Deborah Kemball’s  mouthwatering book,  “Beautiful Botanicals”. www.deborahkemball.com

I like to gather all the items I am considering using for a future project and store them together in a box, so that everything is together and ready when I decide to make a start.  This way I don’t have to launch a major search for items that I know I put “somewhere safe”.  It also has the advantage that I have a place to add ideas related to the project as they occur…. you will understand how creative thinking can occur anytime and any place!  I write thoughts down and pop them in the box.

My PPP storage boxes

Organising my PPP is itself a work in progress.

Finally, my PPP provides a patchwork “fix” if I don’t have the time or energy to actually sew.  It’s great therapy!!

A free gift for you to use all year

What a shock it was to go back to work after the Christmas – New Year holiday, I did miss the slow start and leisurely breakfast with the paper each morning.

At least I eased myself back into work this year by not re-opening the office until Wednesday. It meant I only had to work 3 days last week and now have my “head” back into work mode ready to face 2012.

To help you get into the 2012 mindset, I have created a free gift calendar for your sewing room/office/studio.

A page per month Calendar for 2012
 Scroll down the page to download your copy from the Flash Widget box to the left of the screen.

A sample of one of the pages in the free calendar. The quote for March, describes my house perfectly.

The 13 page, A4 size, PDF document is ready for you to print out to make your own calendar. You can print one page each month or make up the full calendar as I have below.

Download your calendar from the "Flash Widget" box to the left of the screen

 I hope you enjoy the Calendar throughout the year.
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