Saturday Check-in

Four-In-Art quilts hung up

We put the Four-In-Art Quilts up above my window in my sewing room.  I like seeing them all lined up.  I don’t really live in a jungle.  It just looks like it from this window, with the mature trees in the background, the silk oak tree on the side, and my wild wisteria vines in the foreground.

Sewing skirts

I keep putting this off, but I’m desperate for a new skirt for school.  Anna Maria Horner’s feathers in linen-cotton need to be sewn up.

Lori Holt's newest

Fabricworm is tempting me with their Bundles Sale.  I have this in the basket as well as as:

ContempoDwellingsGuestHouseContempo, Dwellings in the Guest House colorations, and. . .


Tule by Leah Duncan for Art Gallery.

Whether or not I’ll press “purchase” remains to be seen, but it’s fun to look at what’s new and do some dreaming!  What are you doing?


WIP–An Oldie, But Goodie

HuntersStar Quilt_1

I made this for my youngest son’s college freshman dorm bed when he went off to school, lo these many years ago (now he’s married, has a job and is getting his masters). I got this far, and he kinda said he wasn’t really happy with it, and could he have something else?  So I made him something else, and this has sat for years in the back of the closet.  Today was the day to do something, after so many of you wrote so many encouraging things back to me.

Hunters Star Quilt_2

It was helped when I folded back the panel on the right to make it more symmetrical.  It’s still such a 1990s quilt, though, isn’t it?  but I do love the Hunter’s Star pattern.

Hunters Star Quilt_3

And wrapped up in the wad of fabrics that I’d stuffed in the cupboard, lo those many years ago, were the outer borders, already cut.  I wasn’t going to second-guess my 1990s mind, but I did add the inner yellow border, made up of different yellows in the quilt (and yes, I still have some of those in the stash, too).

So, now it’s off to the quilter’s–my first quilt to go there in probably four months?  It was good to see her again, and to hand it over.

HangitDangItI also was delighted to receive my “hang it dang it” quilt rods.  It’s basically an aluminum tube which you pull out to the width of your quilt (they have three different sizes), twist the rods to anchor them to that size, then snap the clasp on the center.  They have a magnetic clasp and a plastic clasp.  I bought one of each, but really, the plastic clasp works fine (and is cheaper).  They even have a video to show you how.  One nail and your quilt is hanging up, invisibly.  No rods show, nothing.


Dot, one of the commenters the other day, in response to my “doldrums” post,  referenced me to a carton by Grant Snider, done for Red Lemon Club, a site that caters to the creative type.  I spent some time there, reading articles, re-learning about what it means to be a creative person.

Other wise insights that were mentioned:

  • I think we all find ourselves feeling that way from time to time. It’s called overwhelmed. Something has to go, and it’s usually our hobby time. I find if I don’t sew for a few days I get cranky.
  • Creative ebbs and flows and sometimes over flows, you’ll get back into the zone soon. In the meantime, follow your bliss, not your list.
  • It really is hard to find the time to do it all.

Be Everything? Snider

So it was nice today to do a little.  Cut a few strips.  Resurrect an oldie-mouldie and move it to a different place, feel some cloth.

WIP new buttonLinking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, and WOW at Esther’s Blog.

Creating · Giveaway · Quilt Bee · Quilts · Something to Think About

Bee Blocks & Winner of Project Folio

Project Portfolio_chair

First, while my husband and I were watching Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway in Three Days of the Condor, I leaned over to him and said, “Give me a number between one and sixteen.”


Five it is.  Cindy, you are the winner.  I’ll mail off the portfolio tomorrow.  Thank you to all my very fine readers and followers.  You are such lovely people!

I must admit that I did want to give it to my newest follower: my daughter, Barbara (Hi Barb!), but I’ll make her a new something or other for her work-out clothes (what she said she’d use it for) and send this white one to Cindy.  Congrats!

Arrows Aug ABLbee 2

Secondly, even though it feels as if I haven’t touched a machine much this month, I did get my Bee Blocks finished.  Above is the one for Always Bee Learning.  We were sent some some fabrics, a link, and we were off to making arrows.  It was a real brain-stretcher, but I finished mine and sent them off to Megan.

MCM Aug Block 1 MCM Aug Block 2

And for the Mid-Century Modern Bee, Mary asked for some Cross-X, or X & + blocks as I’ve seen them called, in pinks.  So I followed her linked tutorial at Badskirt’s blog and sent them off.

And now, the to pull the biggest rabbit out of the hat: figure out how to start sewing my projects again.  With this disjoint summer, a bad beginning to my school year (it will get better), and some time away from the sewing machine, it’s like being on a boat being carried down stream from the dock, slowly, and you can see your picnic lunch there in the middle and you are getting kind of hungry but you can’t figure out how to get to it.  Okay, bad analogy, but I think you all know the feeling.

I look at my list of things I want to sew and nothing interests me. I love reading blogs and seeing everyone’s fun projects, and think, I could do that.  But if I do everyone else’s project, how will I find time to do mine?  It’s a double-edged sword, this living in a world of blogs and Instagram and it’s hard to turn off the input in order to find the creative project that is uniquely mine.

My father, aged 87, goes most mornings down to his painting studio on the second floor of a building in his downtown.  There, he thinks, starts his routine, puts on his music, paints, pauses.  Of course, I can only imagine this because it is done in solitude, but every October he opens his studio for a painting sale in his studio, proving that he accomplishes, produces, Gets Stuff Done, sending out more paintings into the world.

I find my challenge to still myself — to enjoy the social media-fied quilt world, yet also to let that project that is interesting to me find its way forward.  I’ve been tempted by another Polaroid Swap, a recent Signature Swap, this winter’s Scrappy Trip-A-Long, and the Medallion Quilt among other recent popular quilts.  But I also know through historical evidence that our quilting grandmothers searched the newspapers for what others were doing, and through imitation, linked themselves together through common projects.

LIke them, I do quilt what is in my universe.  I often think of Nancy Crow, a quilt artist I admire from afar who has seemed to produce what is important to her, to follow her own stream of thinking and creating without regard for what is the most popular.  Perhaps she, and my father, are at one end of the spectrum while the social media/Instagram/blogging crowd, of which I am a part, is at the other end.  No answers here.

Just searching for those oars that will get my boat back to the dock, back to my sewing machine, back to my quilty world.

Free Quilt Pattern · Quilts · Sewing · Tutorial

Elizabeth’s Project Folio–Part III (Bringing it Home)

Project Portfolio Filled_1

Elizabeth’s Project Folio, front and filled with my next project, a bag made of Keiko Goke fabric

Project Portfolio Filled_Back

Elizabeth’s Project Folio, back

Project Portfolio Blue_opened

Elizabeth’s Project Folio, interior of blue folio

These are not only good for holding sewing projects they can also be used for:

• long car trips, holding each child’s stash of car junk
• teaching, corraling all the supplies for each lesson unit
• teaching, holding copied pages in place so they don’t go all over your bag
• errands–one for the Post Office, one holding grocery lists and coupons (you can make that one smaller by adjusting your dimensions), carrying swatches for decorating (one folio for each room you are working on)
• hand-sewing projects, such as cross-stitching a sampler
• knitting, as they are big enough to hold your needles, or needle-kit
• packing for a weekend away (one can hold lingerie, one your workout sweats, one can hold rolled-up T-shirts, etc.)

I’m sure you can think of others.  Send me a note telling me what you used yours for!

Finally, to thank you for your readership, I’m giving away the white flowered project folio to one of my followers or Bloglovin’/Feedly readers.  In your comment (at the end of this post), tell me what you’d use your portfolio for, and tell me how you follow me.  I’ll close this giveaway on early Monday morning (8/26), and send it off.

Project Portfolios in bag

They fit in my tote bag easily.  Because one side is vinyl, you can see what’s in there quickly.  Because the other side is fabric, they don’t stick together and slide out without difficulty.

Reminder: All of these measure roughly 11 x 17.  You are more than welcome to make these for your own use, or sell them in a craft faire, but please please, don’t take any of my tutorial and copy it onto your blog.  Practice Friendly Attribution, if you please, by linking back here, if you would.  And please please don’t steal borrow my content to make your own pattern, and call it your own.

Okay, the folios are in the home stretch. Let’s bring ’em home!

If you are coming into this tutorial mid-way, see previous posts Part I and Part II.



A zipper is made of two narrow pieces of tape (think of it as stiff fabric ) joined by an interesting plastic coil.  Usually these strips of fabric are hooked together at one end.  Years of no Home Economic Education has scared most sewers when it comes to zippers, but when you think about it as two strips of fabric that have to be sewn into a seam, tempers and anxiety seem to lower.  And when you get to sew the zipper in flat, like in this bag, things couldn’t be easier.  Note: Some of this tutorial is for beginners, so if you are experienced in zipper-putting-in, just scroll on down.

You’ll be stitching this to the interfaced backing piece.  Set aside the fabric lining for a later step.

14 Marking Zipper

(You see the vinyl front window laid on top of the backing in the above photo, but you’ll be sewing the zipper ONLY to the interfaced backing at this point.)

I usually buy zippers a little bigger than what I need, so if you have done the same, lay out your zipper along the 17″ longer edge of the project folio backing.  Put one pin 1/2″ in from the raw edge, and one pin 1/2″ away from the raw edge, as shown up above on the left.

14 Marking Zipper_2

At the outer pin, you’ll be doing a bar tack, which is only a zig-zag stitch done in place.  Set your sewing machine for a wide zig-zag (so it will clear the zipper teeth), your stitch length to zero, and sew the bar tack in place.  Then about 1/2″ away from that towards the zipper stop, trim off the zipper tape.  If you are using a plastic zipper, you can cut right through it.  If you are using a metal zipper, snip the tape to the teeth, then kind of wiggle off the excess zipper tape.14 Marking Zipper_3

14 Zipper_1

One of the challenges of zipper-sewing, is 1) sewing straight and 2) sewing close enough to the teeth, and 3) getting around that zipper pull.  Use a zipper foot (shown above) for the second, and the first?  Practice makes perfect, so don’t worry about it.  I’ll walk you through the third, below.

First, unzip the zipper for about 4 inches, then:

• lay the edge of the zipper tape even with the raw edges, as shown above,
• zipper FACE DOWN
• on the RIGHT SIDE of the interfaced back folio fabric
• along the 17″ side.

I align the outside long edge of the zipper with the raw edge in this application.  Stitch to the top stop (the silver metal piece), re-align the long edge of the tape with the outside edge and stitch for another couple of inches.

14 Zipper_2

Stop, and put the needle down into the fabric.  Then grab the zipper pull tab, and wiggle it past the needle and close the zipper.  Now you have unlimited easy access to sewing it down.

14 Zipper_3

Remember that inner pin, set 1/2″ in from the raw edge?  Sew to that spot.  You want to leave the last 1/2″ unseen.  I usually hit the stitch-in-place button on my sewing machine, but you can also backstitch to secure it.  Now you’ll be attaching the lining to the back–that piece of fabric that is the same size as the back.

14 Zipper Lining

Lay the lining for the back on the zipper.  The zipper is face down so the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric will be facing the WRONG SIDE of the zipper.  I pin the raw edges of the fabrics together in a few spots so I’m not scrambling as I sew.  You’ll be sewing from the OTHER side of things, along the already-stitched line, so FLIP over the assembly, as shown below.15 Zipper 2_1

You’ll begin at the bottom edge of the sewn-in-zipper.  Remember to stay 1/2″ away from the raw edge as you begin.  Stitch along the already-stitched line until you get about three inches from the end.  Stop, and leave the needle in the fabric.  Reach inside and and slide the zipper pull tab down past your needle, wiggling it as you go by the needle, then continue stitching until the edge.

15 Zipper 2_2

Press both sides away from the zipper, then topstitch close to the edge, about 1/8″ away.

16 Zipper_1

The other side is easier because you only have don’t have a lining to deal with.  The zipper is now flat, intalled on the back.  Working on a flat surface, line up the back with the front, aligning the side raw edges, as shown.  Place a few pins anchoring the zipper tape to the front upper edge of the front vinyl window.

16 Zipper_2

Slide the zipper pull tab down a couple of inches, and start stitching.  When you get close to the zipper pull tab, keep the needle in your fabric, and ease the pull tab past your needle, closing the zipper.  Continue stitching.  Remember to STOP stitching 1/2″ in from the other edge.

16 Zipper_3

I was racing through making these, so you get to see my hideous white bar tack on my zipper in white thread.  No one is going to see this, so don’t worry.  But do notice that I stopped 1/2″ away from the side raw edges.

16 Zipper_4

Stitch alongside your first stitching line, about 1/8″ away.  Notice how both stop at the right place, above.  This second stitching will help anchor the zipper tape.  You can stitch 1/4″ away, if you like.

STEP FIVE: Bottom Edge Closure

17 Bottom Seam_1

Remember how the back of this thing is longer than the front vinyl window part?  You’ll now stitch them together.

First, treat the back two pieces as one, pinning them together at the lower edge.

Now, lifting aside the lining on that 2 1/2″ piece on the bottom of the vinyl window, pin the interfaced strip to the back of the folio, matching raw edges, along the 17″ dimension.  Another view is below.

17 Bottom Seam_3

This is taken from the vinyl window side, and you can see it gleaming there in the photo.  But again, you are sewing the interfaced strip along the lower vinyl window to the two pieces of the back, treating them as one piece.  Stitch in a 1/4″ seam, then press to one side, towards the front.

17 Bottom Seam _3

Fold down the loose piece, tucking the raw edge up to the inside, and pin in place, hiding that seam you just sewed.  You can sew this by hand, taking small stitches, or you can machine stitch this closed.

17 Bottom Seam_4

To do that, open up your nifty zipper all the way, and this will slide in right under your presser foot.  Stitch close to the folded edge, sewing it down.  Sorry it’s not such a great photo, but I’m confident you can figure it out.  (Or just sew the edge down by hand.)

With both the bottom seam and the zipper seam completed, your portfolio is now a tube.  Press that seam, keeping your iron away from the vinyl.

STEP SIX: Closing the Sides

19 Sewing Sides

Blurry Photo Apology!

Starting at the zipper edge, line up the sides, pinning occasionally, raw edges even.  The bottom seam will loop around towards the front, so don’t try to force it.  Stitch, then stitch again, 1/4″ inch away.

19 Sewing Sides_2

Trim.  This is a better photo, and you can see how the seams don’t match up to where you think they will at the bottom.  Just let them go where they want to.

18 Side Finish

You can simply zig-zag those side seams to finish them, or make a simple binding.  Cut a piece of fabric about an  inch and 1/2″ wide and a bit longer than your sides (should be about 16 x 1.5″ in a perfect world).  Matching raw edges, sew the long side of the binding strip to the portfolio side seam.  You can pin it, and then flip it over to stitch over the previous stitching, like you did with the zipper, if you want.

18 Side Finish_1

Then fold the long raw edge in and fold the binding over the raw seam allowances.  Pin, as shown above, and below.

18 Side Finish_4

18 Side Finish_2

Stitch close to the folded edge, securing the binding in place.

18 Side Finish_6

Make sure you do not stitch the zipper into your seam.  Lift it up and out of the way.

18 Side Finish_5

Trim the binding even with the side seams, then zig-zag (overcast it) to keep the ends from fraying.  Again, lift the zipper up and out of the way.

20 Folio Flipped Out

Flip the folio inside out and wiggle that end of the zipper to a nice squared-off edge.  Congratulate yourself!  You are done!

Project Portfolio Filled_Interior

Here’s what the other side looks like, interior view.

Project Portfolios

I made a conscious choice not to “box” the lower corners to create a dimensional folio.  I want to be able to lay in flat things (books, patterns, fabric, etc) and then, when done, store them flat.  In use, I haven’t missed the boxed corner at all.  Everything flexes around what I want to put it (refer back to the original post and that overstuffed folio *here.*)

Zipper Pull Ribbon

I thread a bit of ribbon through my zipper pulls to make them easier to grab.  Trim the edges at an angle, and apply a little bit of Fray Chek to them, if you are worried about fraying.

Three Portfolios_corners

Project Portfolio Three_top

Okay, now tell me how you’ll use your flowered Elizabeth’s Project Folio in your comment below, and how you follow me (email, Feedly, Bloglovin’).

Note: the Giveaway is closed now, but thanks for stopping by!


Project Folio–Part II

Project Portfolio Filled_1

This is part two of the tutorial for the Project Folio.  Click *here* for part one.

STEP TWO: Making the Front Vinyl Window

8Sandwich Vinyl

The side (1 1/2″ wide) strips go on first, on the shorter (15″) sides of the vinyl rectangle.  Sandwich the vinyl between one interfaced piece of fabric and the other (un-interfaced, or plain) piece of fabric, lining up the raw edges, with right sides facing each other and towards the vinyl.


If your strips are longer than your vinyl, don’t freak out.  Just center the vinyl and stitch along the long edge, using a 1/4″ seam.  Carefully press the strips away from the vinyl, keeping your iron ONLY on the fabrics.  Don’t touch the vinyl.  You won’t be happy if you do.  Topstitch on the fabric, about 1/8″ away from the vinyl.  You may use contrasting or matching thread.  I was whipping through these, so whatever I was sewing with was what I used for topstitching.

10Trim Edges

Trim the fabric strips even with the vinyl.  Repeat on other shorter side.

11Top Strip_2

To put the upper, top strip on, sew ONE piece of wider (2 1/2″) interfaced fabric to the vinyl, right sides together.  It’s easier if you put the vinyl to the feed dogs to do this step, and kind of ease it along.

11Top Strip_3

Fold the long  edge over 1/2″ and press.  You are working on the TOP edge of the vinyl front window at this point.

11Top Strip_4

Turn to the back, lining up the folded edge with the seamed edge, peeking through the vinyl to make sure they line up.  Topstitch this down, encasing the vinyl edge.  After stitching, if the raw edges extend beyond the existing side pieces, trim.

11Top Strip_5

Here are all three of my folios, showing trimmed edges and stitched-down tops.

To add the edging to the bottom of this window, use the sandwich technique you used with the shorter sides.  Sandwich the vinyl in between one interfaced piece of fabric and one (un-interfaced, or plain) piece of fabric, right sides facing each other and towards the vinyl.  Stitch in a 1/4″ seam, then press away from the vinyl.  (Carefully.)

12Bottom Strip

I’m trimming the excess fabric off the bottom strips in this photo.

STEP THREE: Trueing-Up the Back and Front

Confession: I had a scrap of vinyl that was slightly smaller than the desired size, but I used it anyway.  But then that makes the front a different size than the back.  I can fix this with my rotary cutter.

No, I didn’t obsess about cutting down the back, either. BUT! I only trued up the sides.  The front is LONGER than the back, in the top-to-bottom measurement.  DON’T TRIM THE TOP OR BOTTOM!!

13 Truing Up_1

Just lay the back down onto the vinyl window front, centering it as shown in the photo above, so you can trim the exact same amount from the sides.

13 Trueing Up_3

I’m only trimming down the sides here.  I kept the differences in the top-to-bottom and only cut the sides to be the same width.

13 Trueing Up_2

Sides are trued up; notice longer length on vinyl window front, peeking from behind the back pieces.

Next post: Zippers!! and Finishing.  And a Giveaway!!

Three Portfolios_corners

All of these folios measure roughly 11 x 17.  You are more than welcome to make these for your own use, or sell them in a craft faire, but please please, don’t take any of my tutorial and copy it onto your blog.  Practice Friendly Attribution, if you please, by linking back here, if you would.  And please please don’t steal my content to make your own pattern, and call it your own. 

Quilts · Tutorial

Project Portfolio Tutorial–Part I

Project Portfolio Three_top

A long time ago, in a foreign market, I bought zip portfolios to hold stuff.  But they weren’t always quite right–too small, too rigid–for my projects, too wrong-sized.  So I decided this summer to make my own.

1Project Portfolio

But that’s just a way to lead you into thinking about your fall, now that schools are beginning to start and you can finally finish a sentence — or a seam —  without being interrupted by your offspring or husbands or pets or whatever.  And now you are going to be sewing up a storm, and need a way to keep all your projects organized as you head out to sewing circles, sew days, quilt nights, or just stay home and quilt in your jammies.  Because it’s almost fall, after all, and you can. (My apologies to my Southern Hemispheric readers–just substitute in the appropriate season.)

Project Portfolio_chair

Two coordinating fabrics.  One will show on the outside, and the other will be the lining, but will show through the vinyl window
Clear medium-weight vinyl from the upholstery department.  Save the tissue they have with the vinyl–it’s easier to store that way
Fusible medium-weight interfacing
Zipper, approximately 20″ (you’ll be trimming it to size)
Matching thread

(Note: I am using three different fabrics in the following illustrations, so you may see some switching out.)

Project Portfolio Cutting Diagram

STEP ONE: Fusing

2Fusing back piece

Lay the fusible interfacing shiny side (resin-coated side) down onto the Wrong Side (WS) of your outer backing piece.  If you like to live dangerously, don’t use a press cloth while fusing the interfacing to the back in an ordered fashion: overlapping the iron shape, giving it a shot of steam, counting one-two-three-four in each position of the iron.

3Fused Pieces

Lay the interfacing fusible-side down and fuse to TWO of the four narrower pieces that will border your clear vinyl window on the side.

Then fuse interfacing to only TWO of the wider strips, as these will be used on the upper and lower edges of the “vinyl window.”

The results are above: one large rectangle of interfacing fused to main back fabric, and four pieces of interfacing fused to the four strips of main fabric.

4Trim to Interfacing

Trim up so the backing is even with the interfacing.  Try not to fixate on the fact that now your portfolio will be a hair smaller.  It’s really not important what the final dimension is, as you can still pack a ton of stuff in there.  Trust me.

5 Trim Lining

Lay the fused backing piece on top on the lining piece, making sure that both right sides of the fabrics are facing outward.  Pin.  Trim.

6 Trimmed Backing Complete

So this is what you’ll have: a two-sided rectangle.  Unpin the two layers, and set aside for now.

Tomorrow’s post will show STEP TWO: Making the vinyl window front.

All of these folios measure roughly 11 x 17.  You are more than welcome to make these for your own use, or sell them in a craft faire, but please please, don’t take any of my tutorial and copy it onto your blog.  Link back here, if you would.  And please please don’t steal my content to make your own pattern, and call it your own.  Practice Friendly Attribution, if you please.