Free Quilt Pattern · Sewing · Totes and Purses · Tutorial

The Visual Story of a Sewing Kit

Rescue boats fill a flooded street at flood victims are evacuated as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Okay–here’s what helps keep me busy while I’m watching hours of footage about the Hurricane Harvey disaster: hand-sewing.  So I came up with my own little sewing kit.  Start Here, with this rough sketch of a pattern: Sewing Kit_opquilt-pattern

SewingKitESE_1and these dimensions:
Cut out.  Quilt Soft & Stable lightly to backing, as you just want to hold it in place, you don’t want to distort it. NOTE: although it doesn’t show really well, I cut two of the notions pocket (thimble and thread glide); the dotted one (you can see it below) is the lining.  Remember to cut with wrong sides together, as the pattern piece is not symmetrical.


Stitch it together along the curvy top, and the right side.  Turn inside out, topstitch along the curvy edges. and make the pleats.  Top stitch along the two sides and the bottom, holding it in place to the inner lining. I like light linings, so I can see what’s going on.SewingKitESE_3

SewingKitESERefer to above photo for the rest of these sketchy detailed directions.

Sew down one long side of the scissors pocket; turn and press.  Turn in 1/4″ on the other long side; press.  Top-stitch the scissors pocket onto the lining.  Slide your scissors into place, and figure out where the ribbon needs to go: backstitch a ribbon into place.

Match up the backing with the lining and all its decor, putting wrong sides together and pin. All the edges will be raw edges.  Find the center line (where you will fold this closed) and stitch down the center to anchor the parts together.

Insert the zipper between the two zipper pocket pieces, cutting zipper down to size after sewing thread tacks on each end to keep the zipper on its track.

If you want a needle holder, cut a piece 1-3/4″ by 4″ and stitch to the zipper pocket as shown in photo above.  Then fold the zipper-pocket-assembly in half, creating a pocket.  (You can see the aqua ribbon sneaking into the pocket in the above photo.)  Place zipper pocket on right side of lining and stitch around this narrowly–just to hold it in place.

Lay a spool of thread on all the corners and trace; cut the edges into a rounded edge.  You can omit this step, and just do the corners like a quilt binding.

Bind the edges with a double-fold binding: cut a piece approximately 20″ long and 1-1/4″ wide.  Fold raw edges into the center and press.  Open out binding; first stitch WST with binding to back.  Fold to the inside, pinning or glueing to keep in in place, then topstitch.  Make two other double-fold pieces, roughly 12″ by 1-1/4″ and zig-zag.  These are your ties.  Stitch them to either side of the outer edge (refer to photo way below).


Add other trim: two buttons for the “String & Button” closure (yes, that is its official name).  I found some interesting thick string and sewed that through the little pocket at its tallest point and then knotted it behind the pocket.  I used Fray-Chek on all raw edges of string and ribbon and ties.  To close, you wrap it around the button (shown, above).



I use the Superior Threads Bobbin Donut in doing my hand stitching.  I tried and tried to think of a way to get it attached, and finally resorted to sewing a ribbon to the center. SewingKitESE_10

I also tried it out on their new Super Bobs box, which is what is replacing the Donut.  They still have a few donuts for sale on their website if you hate to see it go.  Truth: I probably won’t shove the donut or the box into the sewing kit…but I might.

I realize that I assume you have some sewing knowledge when I posted this, but another Truth: it’s also for my reference if I ever want to make another one.  The very cool fabric on the outside is from Timeless Treasures Fabrics a few whiles back.  It’s called Lux, if you want to go looking.

Why did I make this?  I have lots of pouches and bags and I love them all, as most came from friends.  I also have a couple of sewing cases, too, but I found myself toting around my stuff in a zipper baggie, as nothing quite suited me.  So I know this is what works for me, but maybe you can find something in here that will work for you.


It matters little how much equipment we use; it matters much that we be masters of all we do use. ~Sam Abell

I have to say that my attention has been preoccupied with the victims of the Houston flooding.  My son and his family moved there a week ago (I know!), and I try to keep tabs on them as much as he is able to.  I’m not the only one focused that way, with loved ones being flooded.  We’ve contributed to the Google Hurricane Harvey Response (they’ll contribute matching funds), and there are many other charities where you can donate.  Please consider helping in this way, as this is catastrophic.

And One More Thing: Get your own Emergency Supply Kit.  Have water, basic necessities, food that’s portable.  None of us can expect that rescue will be a part of our community’s offerings, in case of disaster (and you know what your own disaster can be).  We have to expect that we’ll need to help ourselves first.

Samaritans help push a boat with evacuees to high ground during a rain storm caused by Tropical Storm Harvey along Tidwell Road in east Houston, Texas, U.S. August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTX3DRSF




Mr. Golden Sun


Mr. Golden Sun
Quilt No. 187
13″ by 16″ tall

We had a great time on Monday, watching our partial eclipse.  I’d made eclipse cookies, people brought lemonade, and we all cheered when the timer went off telling us that we were at the “most” partial.  What an event!  What a day!  I loved best the idea that all of us were focused together on the celestial happenings, uniting us under the mantle of the Great American Eclipse.  Mark your calendars for the next one on April 8, 2024.  See you then.


So in trying to find something else in my sewing room, I ran across this partially finished mini quilt.  What you are seeing is the very first free-motion quilting that I ever tried…

MrGoldenSun_detail1…along with the most recent free motion quilting.  You can’t really tell much, but I’m glad this partially-finished quilt is now in the finished category.  Check that off.affinity_photo

You are also seeing a “Photoshop-free” image.  I’ve been dependent on Photoshop for years and years, having learned it in college when it first came out.  But I decided the best way to learn new software is just to try new software.  Yes, having some knowledge of what does what in these digital editing programs does help, but a new companion book is coming out in October, and they have help forums, and there is always Professor Google, if you can articulate your problem.  Affinity Photo is also cheaper than Photoshop (Affinity Designer is the Illustrator equivalent).

Last Days of Night_Westinghouse

I recently finished listening to Graham Moore’s The Last Days of Night, a book about the feud between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison.  I recommend it highly.  There are lots of quotes about failure, and success, and about how, as Leo Buscaglia says:

We seem to gain wisdom more readily through our failures than through our successes. We always think of failure as the antithesis of success, but it isn’t. Success often lies just the other side of failure.

That book taught me that through multiple failures, America gained electricity, that even an early failure can be made into a finished quilt, and even though some might think my eclipse was a bust (because it was not “totality”) even a partial eclipse can be magic.


Solar Eclipse Block • 2017

Solar Eclipse Block

Since I am completely ga-ga over the 2017 Solar Eclipse, happening August 21st (and I already have the next on penciled in on my calendar–April 2024, if you must know) when searching for decorations to put around my house, I came across a rendition of the Mosaic #19 block (originally published in 1897 by the Ladies Art Company) that is said to commemorate the 2017 All-American Solar Eclipse (who thinks up these names?).

After I read the above blurb,  I searched Google for her and found that not only has she redesigned an old block to celebrate something fun and exciting in our century, but that she’s also done a whole series of blocks to commemorate the National Parks.  I first saw them when a nephew’s wife showed me teeny screen grabs on her phone at a family picnic, and was happy to know who to give credit for those cool blocks.

Here are some other posters I discovered while search for eclipse-related images:

I have more eclipse-themed posters and info on my Pinterest Board: Eclipse.  If you want to make your own eclipse block, here is a PDF file that you can download, in 12″ finished size: Solar Eclipse Block_12. (Click on the blue print.)

I assume you have some knowledge of putting together blocks when I put this stuff up.  Most of us prefer to “snowball” the blocks onto corners. If you do, follow the very sketchy instructions below.  (You are basically going to make the outsides similarly to the flag block I wrote about recently, if you need to reference that tutorial.)

Cut the center block 6 1/2″ square.
Cut four corner blocks 3 1/2″ each, and sew diagonally onto each corner. This post on signature blocks shows how to snowball onto a corner.

To make the side geese, cut 4 rectangles  3 1/2″ by 6 1/2″ in dimension.
Cut eight squares 3 1/2″.  Snowball the squares onto each side of the rectangle.

UPDATE: If you are someone who likes to make the four small squares/one large square method of flying geese, head to this tutorial from Janet Wickell. More help can be found if you do a search on “chart for making flying geese from squares.”

To make the HST corners, cut 2 medium blue squares 4″ square. Match up with 2 dark blue squares 4″ square.  Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner and stitch 1/4″ on either side of it, then cut the triangles apart down the center.  Press to the dark side, then trim up to 3 1/2″.

Sew a flying geese on the left and right sides of the center square.
Sew a HST square on each end of the remaining two flying geese; sew these to the block. Press.

Here is the PDF pattern for a 9-inch block: Solar Eclipse Block_9inch.

If you are going to cut a large center square to snowball on your blocks, use a 5″ square (remember those seam allowances).  The smaller blocks with then be 2 1/2″.  You have the templates for both in case this is too confusing.

Solar Eclipse Block3
diagrams from my block-drawing program, Quilt-Pro

Solar Eclipse Block3aThe arrival of the eclipse also seems a fitting ending for our Book Giveaway of Summer 2017.  Thanks to all who were interested in these books.  I’ve contacted the winners of by email; books will go out as soon as I receive their mailing address.

eclipse Double Dates

Happy Eclipsing!








August Gridster Block • 2017

August17 Gridster

This month we are doing blocks for Debbie, who requested that we make blocks from the  Moda Be My Neighbor quilt, from 2016.  I found all the free, downloadable blocks on Sew Let’s Quilt It website, and enjoyed figuring this out.  My advice: lay out all the pieces as you cut it out, so you don’t get confused with what goes where.

Gridsters 3 houses

I was the designated mailer for two other Gridster members who are close by, and was able to pose the blocks together.  A lot of the blocks are showing up on Debbie’s Instagram feed, so head over there to get some quilty eye candy (and not only the Gridster blocks!).

One fun thing I did in Utah last month was to take a tour of the Hand-Quilter factory.  It’s an impromptu tour — you just show up — but it was interesting to see how things are put together.  I wanted to take a picture of the table that shows them “testing” out/breaking in the machines, but they asked me to wait to get this one, from above:

Handiquilter Tour

They also had a series of quilts, with lots of interesting texture and of course…free-motion quilting!  Click on the circles for a close-up.

Kneaders Seafood Sandwich

Continuing with the “What I Did On My Summer Vacation,” we left Handi-Quilter and had a Kneaders’ Seafood Sandwich, which unfortunately, I can’t get near me.

I arrived home a day or two early from that trip, in time to hit the 7th Annual Good Heart Quilters Retreat, organized and hosted by the amazing Lisa J. who helped found our group nearly twenty years ago. It was a day of fun and very cool cookies (thank you, Simone!).

SLC slogans YouAreHere
Aaron T. Stephan created the “Point of View” art installation in downtown Salt Lake City.

I wish I’d taken a photo of me on that bench, but it’s unfortunately placed, behind the traffic light pole.  Still.  It could have been cool.nasa_eclipse_map

Even though it is a couple of weeks away, I can’t end this without reminding you to set your alarms on your phones to watch the eclipse, coming up on August 21st.  Vox prepared this nifty celestial calculator that shows you what you’ll see in your part of the U.S. and what time it will show up.


Congratulations to Sandy A., who won the latest book giveaway.

Giveaway Winner_Sandy

I’ve sent her an email and will get the book sent off shortly.

Only two books left:

Book Giveaway3

Since summer feels like it’s fast coming to a close, I’m doing both of them this week.  At the end of this post, leave a comment to win either Kathy Doughty’s Mixing Quilt Elements, or Kim Diehl’s Simple Christmas Tidings.  Both are exemplar books by women at the top of the quilting world.  Thank you to all who entered these past few weeks!




Not All That Wanders Is Lost • Traveling Threads Bee Quilt is Finished

Not All That Wanders Is Lost
47″ high by 56″ wide
Quilt No. 186

In March 2015, Megan asked me to be a part of a Traveling Threads Bee.  My initial post about the process is here

…and shows my package (including little book, above) that was sent off to the person in line next to me, the idea being a circle — from one to another to another, roughly every month.

the logo I made for the group

Monthly was probably too ambitious, and at one point my package skipped a quilter because of time pressures, so in the end I had six lovely quilters make a block (or blocks) for me: Megan Evans, Amber, Emily V., Marci Debetaz, Toni Lovelady and Lisa Johnson. Our group on Instagram was #travelingthreadsbee and we all made such different quilts (click on their names to see their groups of blocks).

I love that it is a meeting of far away and close, new and old, friends.

I put my signature blocks on the front of the quilt, and in the lower right is the signature of the fabric designer, Alison Glass; all are contributors to this quilt. I put the label and a statement about the quilt on the back:I liked the idea that the quilt wandered, and then came home. This was the first project I started quilting this spring, using its beautiful qualities to help propel me back to my groove in free-motion quilting.  I posted each block on my Instagram feed as I finished it. I took it on the back patio, in the setting sun, so the slanting rays could amplify the quilting lines.

Luckily I caught the un-quilted section (blue triangle) before finishing it up with a faced binding.  I like to put that invisible binding on busy quilts, as it gives a clean finished edge (tutorial is *here*).  Okay, it’s the OPQuilt Summer Book Giveaway Time.

Third book is gone, given to Simone according to the guidelines of the Husband Random Number Generator.  I’ve already contacted her via email and it will go off tomorrow.  So, let me tell you about the next book, the Simple Simon Guide to Patchwork Quilting:

I took this photo from their site, a fun place to go and read and get great ideas for all sorts of homemaking-type projects.  Their tagline is “Two girls. Same name. One mission. Teach the world to sew.” and this book is a great example of terrific projects made simply, with a lot of pizazz.  To enter the giveaway for this book, please leave a comment below.  I’ll let it run for a few days then I’ll notify the winner by email.  By the way, this is a signed copy (both authors!).






Four-in-Art · Quilts

Rose Window • Four-in-Art Quilt


It’s Four-in-Art Challenge Reveal day today, the penultimate challenge in 2017.  We began this art mini-quilt group in November of 2012, and we are in our fifth year.  Bette, Rachel and I have been with the group since the beginning, with additions and changes here and there.  It’s been wonderful to have this to look forward to four times a year, a chance to stretch and try some new things, all contained in a mini-quilt (we are more flexible with the size now, but originally, it had to be contained in a 12″ square).

Rose Window_front

Rose Window
13 1/2″ wide by 18″ long
Quilt Number 185

Since I chose the challenge of Stained Glass Shadows, obviously I’m in love with the highly saturated blocks of color left on the floors of cathedrals and churches when the sun shines through stained glass windows.  I originally thought I’d try some figurative work, but the colors are what always catch my eye.

So I began with the warm tones, adding the layers of earth-colors as they moved toward the bottom, and celestial-colors as it moved upward.

I also knew that somewhere on this quilt there had to be a Rose Window, that enormous circular window high above entryway doors.

Then it was quilt the background, and I went with the idea of the rose window as the center, with thread-streams of color coming out from there: navy and deep colors from the top and the warmer yellow-orange-red tones as the sun filters downward through the stained glass. My solid fabrics are Paintbrush Studio Solids, and the thread is Magnifico by Superior Threads (with Bottom Line in the bobbin) with some So Fine here and there, as the color dictated.

Details of Rose Window quilting.

Rose Window_back

Back of quilt, with standard label, and added corners for easy hanging.

Rose Window_front

Please visit the others in our Four-in-Art group, and see how they interpreted the Challenge of Stained Glass Shadows:

Betty        Blogpost on Four-in-Art







All of our blocks are on our blog, Four-in-Art.

Our next challenge is Illumination, and will post on November 1st.

National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
Stained glass window from Prague Cathedral, by Edward Mucha
Rose Window_real
Rose Window, Italy