Sewing with Elanor…

A few weeks ago Celia, my almost daughter-in-law, downloaded this pillow pattern from Amy Butler. Scroll way down the page to find this one. Celia made a couple of them. You know how little girls are… Elanor saw them and wanted to make one herself. I said “later”. She remembers these things so later turned into today!

I didn’t keep the pattern so we drew a similar one. Elanor and I picked out fabric. She especially wanted to use some big dots for the eyes. Notice that one eye is bigger than the other? That’s Elanor. I was skeptical but it looks way better than if she had made both eyes the same. The girl is good!


I got the mini Boden catalog in the mail recently. It has the cutest kids clothes you’ve ever seen! We bought some for Elanor, but couldn’t buy them all. However, Lorna was inspired to add some fused applique to some of Elanor’s plainer t-shirts. 

Lorna had not fused before but, as many of you know, it’s an easily acquirable skill. We both spent some time sewing around the edges of the applique with a straight stitch to ensure that everything stays stuck. I didn’t get a picture of Elanor modeling, but I will soon. The shirts turned out very well!

While we girls were working, Jack was doing what babies do. He napped a bit, he ate, he drooled like a fountain. We were in my studio and when he wasn’t playing with the cat toys or trying to get into the electronics, he played with spools of thread. I had to keep an eye on him to be sure the thread stayed locked on the spools. Didn’t want him to eat a bunch of un-spooled thread.

Eventually he settled on this one big spool of blue thread. By the time I got it back the thread was more than damp. I won’t be sewing with this. This is now Jack’s spool.

Making your table slippery…

Some of you may remember that my wonderful husband, Steve, made me a new sewing table this summer. The top is smooth, the front edges rounded and also smooth. He sanded it, painted it, sanded it, polyurethaned it, and buffed it with steel wool. It felt perfectly smooth. 


Until I tried to sew on it. The fabric did not glide across the surface of the table. This is not a good thing when you are trying to sew. And I knew it was going to be particularly awful for machine quilting.

I remembered hearing about silicone spray. You spray it on your surface to make it slippery. But 1) I couldn’t find any and 2) everything I read about it said the vapors were bad for the environment. And it’s not cheap. I procrastinated until I really had to do something (which was sew my chair cushions, see below).

I went to Lowe’s in search of silicone spray and thankfully I couldn’t find it. I asked a man working at the paint counter and he said, no don’t use that… use floor wax! 

He took me to the SC Johnson Paste Wax, said that’s what they used in the military (and on the counters at Lowe’s), and it would work for me.  He knew more about it than I did so I bought a can and waxed my table. Darned if he wasn’t exactly right!

I have no memory of waxing furniture or floors. I do have memories of commercials going on about the scourge of cloudy wax build up so this is not a product that I ever would have considered. But I’m here to tell you, if you find yourself with a not-so-slippery sewing surface, keep the paste wax in mind.

Making chair cushions…

We bought two of these Danish-modern teak chairs for our living room last year from Century Modern, a store that specializes in mid-century modern  furniture. 



I love these chairs but was never crazy about the neutral upholstery on the cushions. I’m a quilter, not an upholsterer but I looked at those cushions and figured that I could make new ones.

I found the perfect fabric for the chairs Saturday when I was shopping with my sister-in-law, Deborah. 


The large circles on the brown print are 4″ in diameter. It’s perfect for the room color-wise — and it has dots! 

I chose the other fabric for the piping cord for each cushion. This fabric is really pretty ugly (it was way back in the sale room) but it was the only thing in the store that had colors that worked with the both the brown print and the rest of the stuff in my living room.

Here are some of the cushion parts in progress….




…and here is a finished chair! It took me about 7 hours yesterday to make the cushions and get them on the chairs. I had the original covers in hand to use as a guide which helped a lot. So, quilters, let me tell you that this was not hard and you, too, can recover cushions! You will, however, need to locate the 1/2″ seam guide on your machine. I never did get used to using it.

The chairs really do need to be stripped and teak oiled but we are saving that for another day. for now, they are just fine.

Design blogs…

There are some wonderful “design” blogs out there. I have posted links to my current favorites on this very blog. (Look over there on the right, under “Design Blogs.”)


What can a quilter find on these non-quilty blogs? I find a lot! For instance on Design Sponge I enjoyed looking at the way the photos were cropped in the “in the kitchen with: fred flare {red devil’s food cake}” post. The photo at left came from this post. The photos are great and the cake recipe looks good too. You know we love cake!

I enjoy seeing what other people think is good design. I very much enjoy seeing the hand-made projects that are featured on design blogs. 

We quilters are constantly making decisions about what colors to use, what kinds of patterns make us happy. You never know when you might be inspired by what others have made. Blogs are a great way to keep us all current. Now I just need more time to read them all! 

Who is that?

OK – one more shot from the ship. After I got done looking at the container ship I switched to the other side of the boat. It took me a while to see the lady peeking over the top of the building in the distance. I didn’t have my glasses on (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it) and I could not for the life of me figure out where I had see that image before.


I asked Steve, who looked at me as if he thought my mind might be slipping, and he said “Starbucks”. How could I not have put that together?

How we get "stuff"…

I had a chance to really look at a container ship while we were docked in Seattle waiting to disembark our cruise ship. 


This ginormous container ship was being unloaded and loaded at the same time. When one stack of containers is removed, another stack of containers replaces it (one at a time). The crane moves and the process continues.

The stacks of containers go down into the hold of the ship. Each container is packed full. Just imagine all the stuff that this one ship carries! Multiply that by all the container ships that are out there. I find it to be both amazing and scary. 

I live in the middle of the country and a very large part of what I consume comes to me in containers, via truck. As energy gets more expensive this stream of goods is bound to be effected. I can’t help but wonder how that is going to change all of our lives. It’s not hard to imagine buying less of the stuff I don’t really need. It’s harder to imagine having trouble finding things (like food and fabric) that I really do need.

The Quilt Camp at Sea Alaskan Cruise was wonderful!

The seas were a little bouncy and there was a lot of fog on our last day at sea. But it was relaxing to have no where to go and nothing much planned. I don’t relax much when I’m home because there is always something that needs doing!


The most formal formal dinner was Friday night. Even the chairs dressed up! FYI – the food on the cruise was really good. The fish was just about the best I’ve ever tasted. I’m going to miss having dessert after every meal but my pants were getting tight so it’s good that that part is over.

We docked for a few hours Saturday evening in Victoria B.C. We got off the ship and walked around a bit. We bought a CD (Gungwa – Bridging the Waters) from a band playing on the street. It’s Zimbabwean Roots Music which sounds sort of Jamaican to me. It’s good! 

Steve bought a stuffed giardia at a shop… he’s a biologist you know. Giardia is a protozoan that you can get if you drink un-purified water. His is blue. Steve has had giardia before so he felt a special bond with this fellow.

Friday evening the sky was clear and Steve took this lovely photo.

We got home last night. I couldn’t post to the blog while I was on the ship so I’ve posted everything today. If you want to read about the cruise in order, go down a few posts and read up.

Here is what I’ve learned:

Quilting cruises are great fun! Quilters are good travel companions. Holland America is a fine cruise line. For more info, go to the the Quilt Camp at Sea website.

Dramamine (the less-drowsy version) works. I liked it better than the patch.

Cruising is a good way to see a very scenic part of Alaska.