Create experiences that leave you in awe, for these will be the highlights of your life. ~Ryan Blair

Friday, December 12, 2014

Embellished Activity Mat

Making a colorful and entertaining activity mat may just help the boredom that seems to be a daily experience for those unable to provide busy work in hospital or care centers, and help time feel more productive to fill those long days. 

I hadn't known about these until I seen someone post a picture on social media. And here, is the link to this information:

For more on these projects, 
please visit this blog where I first was introduced to these fun mats: 
There are two types of aids: 1.) activity mats, and 2.) texture mats.

I happened to just notice the texture mat page, on this blog, when adding the link to this post. But for now, check out what materials I used and added to my mother's special activity mat.

It can't be helped, but I just cannot stick with the original design, I must add my own twist to it; and for this project, it was to add elements that reminded me of her.

Of course, to keep things from getting expensive, I also like to stick with this rule: "Use what you have"; and that really emphasizes what she would always do. Many from her generation learnt that everything had value for re-purposing as they lived through times that were very harsh. Therefore, living with the 3Rs of the environment (reduce, reuse, recycle) was a necessity; not a choice.

So I used pre-cut squares to form the prairie points; rings and hooks and ribbons and buttons that just waited to be utilized. The appliques were from leftovers from other projects, and the things attached to the rings can be removed and replaced with other items, at any time.


To keep her philosophy in mind, I dug through my current supplies to come up with a variety of items to embellish this mat. The only thing that I did buy were the pony beads, as I did wish to add them, however, had none in my crafting supplies.



HOUSE WITH RIBBON (bottom left)



If you've ever had a pen and paper in hand, and needed to provide distraction from a boring lecture or being put on hold on the phone, what happens? Doodling begins to fill that gap... and a page of fun designs begins to take shape. This is like that paper, adding a variety of items that can bring creative distraction and provide stimulation for any agitated fidgeting.

For an activity mat, you can embellish it with any items that suit those that will benefit from such a project.

Bringing cheer...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Go Kite Go Project

Go fly a kite....
up to the highest height....
 and if you can't;
then let's make a kite quilt!!

This is my fifth, and final project for this year, in using strings. Actually, you can use narrow strips to make the kite appliques; however, I have chosen to use selvages, instead.

And, why not use those selvage edges without the printed edges, as well. If you are using strings, then you can use dark colors where I've used non-printed selvages; and light colors where I have used printed selvages.


For a different background; I've used the rail fence block in an extra large size; added a single border that is embellished with prairie points, and finished them with echo stitching.

Make this fun project using selvages and prairie points to brighten up your life!! Let your imagination take hold to reminisce about those warm summer evening that were perfect for flying kites. Oh, don't we miss those days, already; even if winter has just begun!

KITES: (With non-printed and printed selvages)


This quilt pattern is now available as a downloadable PDF pattern on my Craftsy store. Click on the button on the side bar to check out all of my patterns.

Bringing those special memories to mind, one quilt at a time! GO FLY A KITE!!

If you wish to see my simplified method to adding selvage strips to a fusible base, you can check out this post, available here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cosmo Convertible Handbag

Have you ever made your own handbags? Or wished you could find patterns that are beautiful and provide some challenge?

Then, you really should check out this post and see what inspired me to stitch up this unique project from: StudioKatDesigns.

My first bag (Lollapalooza) was made in 2010; and now I am back to share with you, my second bag. It is the Cosmo Convertible - and is three styles in one.

The Cosmo Convertible (on left) --- Lollapalozza (on right)

This is something that gets my interest; as I enjoy combining techniques, whenever possible. So, why not see what else I decided to add to make this new project exciting... and see how it came together.

YELLOW: A light color works best for the interior of the bag as the lining fabric.
BLUE: A piece was embellished with "stupendous stitching"; and a piece was left plain for the exterior of the bag. (Appropriate pieces were cut from the embellished fabric.)
FLORAL: A decorative fabric for the exterior and handles.

Originally, it was the embellished blue that was to go on the sides; and the floral to be used for the inset pieces. However, that was changed at the last minute; and at first, was not sure if I had made the right decision. But, the combo grew on me; and by the time it was done, I loved the change.

Blues and Floral - exterior; Yellow - interior
Blue embellished with "Stupendous Stitching" a Craftsy class


At the time that I made this purchase, I was not certain what fabric colors I would use; so had to decide whether to go with a polished shiny nickel or a classic antique brass finish. Selecting the brass, would give my bag a more rustic look as the pieces were in a variety of brass tones. 

Also, I was trying to cut down on shipping costs; (don't we all) and found this closer-to-home shop that would fulfill this wish.  So if you need any zippers or hardware, check this one out.

Hardware in antique brass from Emmalinebags


Once the decision was made on which pieces would use the embellished fabric, it was done. To give the edge between the blue and floral fabric a better separation, mock piping was added. 

Then... after a hard look at these results, made one more change. I found the back piece too plain; so I redid the top portion, (above the zippered pocket) in the embellished fabric. I was not going to redo the pocket, as I wanted the back side to be different from the front of the bag.


Center: embellished with fancy stitching and mock piping

Top: embellished with fancy stitching and mock piping


It is pretty safe to say, that I generally give my own twist to original patterns, and this one is no exception. Therefore, to see the original pattern, please visit the website

Several variations in fabric are made; and this was the one that inspired me to purchase this pattern, written about here: blog post.



EZ eReader and AeroPac

Having the desire to make a cover for my Kindle; it was the perfect match for this bag. Using the leftover piece from the embellished fabric, I had just enough to make this cover. 

Both these are FREE patterns. 


Time is ticking by... perhaps, in the next few moments, you'll find that next project that inspires you to take action. Happy stitching!!

Embellish your life.... with a creative project, soon!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Getting Ready for Halloween

Throughout the years, 
we share in this celebration in many different ways. 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Some go all out and decorate
Make costumes
Buy candy
Go to parties
Love seeing those little people dressed up, 
And responding to the words: "Trick or Treat".

Or perhaps:
Quilting may be at the top of your list!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

When it comes to quilting, we like to try all manner of projects; and Halloween projects are really fun to make with those delightfully bright and colorful orange fabrics, that reflect this season. And when does a quilter not LOVE collecting seasonal fabrics! These fall colors are so inspiring.

My first and only Halloween quilt is this wall-hanging:

Since seasonal quilting fabrics are so fun to work with, I really wanted to make a quilt with these oranges from my stash, even though I had not purchased any Halloween fabrics.

The quilt is from this book: "Easy Does It For Autumn" by Art To Heart.

To see more on this project, visit this link: Halloween Candy Quilt, made in 2010.

Two things that I did differently were: 
(1) Not adding the fancy buttons because I didn't want to spend the money; 
(2) Binding the quilt rather than sewing right sides together and turning it. 

I enjoy doing the binding stage; and liked this look much better. It was a fun and easy project!

Shown: Quilt in progress. 

Perhaps, one day I'll still add some fancy buttons. And get to hang it!

View the finished project here.

The other project for Halloween is a sewing project:

One year, I made my grandchildren these delightful bags for when they went trick-or-treating. They were really fun to make. This time I went out and purchased these Halloween fabrics to make them extra special.


This FREE project I found online; and can be downloaded from: fishsticksdesigns/blog

Now, this reminds me... that I still haven't used those little boys patterns that I purchased from her site. Maybe it is time to start my 2015 Hope-to-Make list before I forget again.  ;)

Have a safe and happy day!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How-to Chain Piece Odd-Numbered Block Sets

Is chain-piecing your favorite way to join blocks?
For me this is true.

  • It saves time
  • and the bobbin thread lasts longer when not having to cut thread at the end of each piece stitched. (And that's a good thing!)
  • If you are sewing up block sections with odd-numbered pieces, there seems to always be one block left. And when is it best to add it to the other pieced parts?
  • If you get confused and sew blocks together that aren't supposed to be joined, time is lost in ripping out those seams. 
  • It can be difficult to remember which blocks come next.... and your seam ripper is used more than you wish. (Can't have the seam ripper get too much time in!)

To Organize the Process With Less Frustration!

This tutorial uses a block section containing 81 squares; and will be sewn together in groups of three. No one block will be left orphaned in the chain-piecing process. Have fun!!

Set up a design wall or portable board, to allow you to arrange the blocks correctly; and use this method more effectively. (See How-to Make a Grid Layout for use on your design wall.)

Place your fabric squares on the design wall (fabric grid is optional) in a pleasing arrangement. This can take some time; however, try to enjoy the process. After this is done, you are ready to label the appropriate rows. This will keep blocks correctly placed, as the columns come together.

NOTE: At the time the photos (those included in this post) were taken, I was using a flannelette fabric draped over a cardboard box. And realized that a grid would allow for even spacing as one planned out the design.

For your labels, use either purchased stickers or pieces of masking tape. Use a marker or pen to write numbers on each piece. You will need 27 pieces: (3 sets of numbers = 1 to 9)

Once labels are prepared, add them to the squares in ROWS 1, 4, and 7 as shown in diagram below. The numbered blocks will allow easy placement back on the design wall, throughout the process.

Now you are ready to begin with the chain-piecing process. Each group of three rows will be done the same. Pressing is very important; it begins in Step 5-C. The photos below show the completed process of each grouping.

Let's begin to construct these blocks to form the following groupings. 

Chain-piecing squares from ROW 1 and ROW 2. Then adding squares from ROW 3.

Keep the stickers on the blocks as you sew. You will be stitching the blocks together to form nine columns of three blocks each.

Take the top block in COLUMN 1 (labeled 1) and the block directly below it from ROW 2. Sew these two blocks together. Next take the top block in COLUMN 2 (labeled 2) and the block directly below it from ROW 2, and sew these together. Then continue chain-piecing blocks from COLUMNS 3-9 until all are done.

NOTE: You may separate the chain-pieced blocks at any point; once you have at least one or two pieced blocks done. Then pin them back on the design wall to keep them correctly positioned. With the numbered stickers on the top blocks, you'll always know which direction to place them back on the fabric grid. This allows you to see how the pieced blocks look as they are assembled.

Once ROWS 1-2 are done; add blocks from ROW 3. Start by taking down COLUMN 1 (Pieced ROW 1-2 blocks) and add the ROW 3 block; continue as before by going across the columns until you have three blocks sewn together from ROWS 1-3.

NOTE: Pin finished columns back onto the fabric grid. To keep the chain-piecing going; separate previously stitched blocks and add them to the design wall before you get to the end of the row. Or take from the next section if you wish to completely finish a row. Then place them in the appropriate place as you continue.

Now that the section for ROWS 1-2-3 is complete; repeat the same steps to complete ROWS 4-5-6; and then ROWS 7-8-9. Pin finished columns back onto the design wall.

You will now have three sections containing three completed rows as shown in the photo below.

ROWS 1-2-3; ROWS 4-5-6; ROWS 7-8-9

Chain-piecing column groupings into completed COLUMNS. 

Beginning with COLUMN 1; sew together blocks from ROWS 1-2-3 and ROWS 4-5-6. They are labeled with a (1). Then sew together ROWS 1-2-3 and ROWS 4-5-6 from COLUMN 2 which are labeled (2). Continue across the columns until all nine are completed. Pin these back onto the design wall as you separate them from the chain-piecing process.

NOTE: Now that the blocks are put into columns and hung on the design wall, you can see what your finished piece with look like. If you wish to make any changes in placement you should do it now, before the columns are sewn together. 

ROWS 1-2-3-4-5-6; ROWS 7-8-9

Now you should have ROWS 1-6 joined into columns. To complete this stage, repeat the process as before by adding ROWS 1-6 to ROWS 7-8-9. The columns are now ready to join together.

COLUMNS 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9

Pressing seams; and chain-piecing column groupings into sets of three. 

It is now; that we should press our seams before they are joined to other columns. You may press in an earlier stage if you wish; however, you really don't need to turn on the iron until this step. Also if you have a portable design wall you will not have needed to get up from the sewing machine, until now. (Good time for a stretch!)

Pressing the seams: press all even-numbered columns one direction; and press all odd-numbered columns in the opposite direction. This will ensure that the seams are going in opposite directions when nesting them before stitching, as you join the columns.

To begin sewing together the columns; start with COLUMNS 1-2; then do COLUMNS 4-5; and lastly COLUMNS 7-8. Once these are stitched; separate them from each other. And add the missing column in each grouping. Joining C3 to C1-2; C6 to C4-5; and C9 to C7-8.

Match up seams; (seams should have been pressing in opposite directions) and then sew the two columns together. Separate the chain-pieced columns, so they are ready to add the third column to each of those columns already stitched. At any time, you can detach them from the chain-piecing process and pin them back on the design wall.

It will not matter in which direction you press these seams, at this stage. When pressing seams, it is usually easier when the section is smaller. So if you wish, sew together the three sections; then press. Or press once all nine columns are joined.

COLUMNS 1-2-3; 4-5-6; and 7-8-9

Block Set is complete. How will you use it?    

If you haven't pressed the seams as you assembled the columns, do that now. Your 81-block section is now complete; and can be used in a variety of projects, as desired.

After making five of these block sets, my sixth ended up coming together the fastest and without placement error. Here's what I discovered:
  • Chain-piecing works great; but how many times does one still have to stop and start again when not having a sewing order in place?  (Labeling the rows really works!)
  • Once blocks are sewn; they are harder to match with blocks from unsewn blocks still on the design wall.
  • Thinking one can remember the correct order; and it actually happening that way, generally brings the seam ripper to the rescue to fix any errors. 
  • When similar colors are used on both top and bottom of a column, which way was up?
  • Putting the blocks together in stages, kept the chain-piecing process going smoothly.
  • The numbered squares were easy to keep in order; and placement back on the design wall was effortless.
  • An assembly method for joining blocks, always provides a good rhythm to the quilting process. 
  • Having a portable design wall, eliminated the need to get up while sewing the blocks, until pressing was needed. (Mine was a cardboard box and a folded sheet of flannelette.)

Turning those scraps into squares, provides new opportunities for creating fun blocks; resulting in more unique quilted projects.

Here is my sixth (final) color theme ready to be turned into something new. I will share more on these block sets, in a later post.


If you found this tutorial useful, please share your comments below. I'd love to hear from you.

When square is beautiful... still works for quilters!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Signs of Autumn Project

Each season has its own personality and palette of color.... We all have our favorites; and sometimes, it's hard to choose which is best. 

A U T M N . . .

To compare the colors: yes, winter is mostly white, summer is mostly green, and spring is just waking up from a long slumber; but it's autumn that has the beautiful transition of the leaves from green to shades of golds, yellows, reds, oranges, purples, and browns.

Autumn is my favorite because the days are more like summer and the nights more like spring. And one does not have to toil at making color appear; simply sit back, and enjoy the universe's paintbrush do its work.

Of course, the only down side is.... this colorful season passes by so quickly before the next season is here to erase all that color. But then, again.... there's more time for indoor activities: like quilting, where we can imagine and play with fabrics of all shades and hues to add color and warmth where it is needed.


Continuing with my quest… to use more of my stash fabrics, I attempt new ways to create interesting strip-pieced applique. Being passionate about machine fused applique, I continue to incorporate this idea into my own designs. So here is my fourth design: SIGNS OF AUTUMN to show you how easy it can be to find suitable fabrics, in your stash.

Pattern available at my Craftsy store;
or you can click on the "I'm a Craftsy Designer" button on the sidebar. 

Make this lovely autumn wall hanging to remind you of those beautiful hues of yellows, oranges, reds, and purples that signal the signs of autumn; as the trees usher in a new season.

If the weather is good; a walk can bring a sense of peace as one enjoys the rustle of crunching leaves underfoot. I never tire of those beautiful hues that nature offers; however, the season soon fades and no leaves remain for quite some time.

SO... why not make a quilt that will not shed its colors wherever you wish to hang it!  And enjoy those beautiful colors of this truly remarkable season…as long as you like!


SIGNS OF AUTUMN QUILT   (24-1/2”w x 23-1/2”h)

Take a walk and enjoy this season.... and then get ready to quilt!

Friday, October 10, 2014

How-to Piece Batting Scraps

What do you do with scraps of batting you cut off when trimming a quilt project? 
     1.) Toss them ALL in the trash.
     2.) Save them to use as stuffing in craft projects.
     3.) Or sew leftover pieces together to reuse as batting.

What type of projects do you like to make?
     1.) Only large bed sized quilts.
     2.) Only small wall hanging and art deco quilts.
     3.) A combination of sizes from small to large size quilts.

Will this method work for me?
     1.) If you make only large-sized quilts, in the traditional methods, then perhaps not.
     2.) If you make quilt-as-you-go blocks, this will work for you.
     3.) If you make only small-sized quilts, then this will be a great way to save on batting.
     4.) If you need practice blocks to learn new techniques, this is a good alternative.


Here, I share with you what can be done with scraps of batting to actually make use of them again. These re-pieced batting pieces work well for individual blocks and small-sized quilt projects; or if you need to add a strip of batting to a piece that isn't quite large enough on a particular project.

Gather up any odd-shaped pieces of batting to see what you have saved from previous projects. Then prepare them to create new batting sections to use on other projects.


Thread your machine with a light colored thread to sew these pieces together. (Thread color is not really critical here. If you have numerous bobbins that are only partially filled and would like to empty them for other colors, you may use these up in this step.)

It is very important to straighten the edges that will be facing each other. This will allow for a better fit when stitching them together. Use your rotary cutter and ruler to cut these sides.



Lay both pieces side by side so the straightened edges touch each other. Do not overlap the edges. Then sew them together using a zigzag stitch. Set the stitch to its widest width. (7.0)


STITCHING TIP: You may use a regular zigzag stitch to join these pieces; however, I have found that a three-step zigzag stitch works much better.  This stitch uses three stitches instead of one for each side of the zigzag allowing more stability in the stitching process. It also makes the join feel smooth and flat to the touch. (Both will still work fine, just nice to have other options.)

See the difference below...



Wouldn't we all like to be experts without the practice?  Keep dreaming; however, to perfect our skills we still need to PRACTICE. :(

All this takes time and materials, so what better way to start practicing then: by using scraps that may otherwise be tossed out.

In the process, we help ourselves and the environment, as well!!


No matter which way... 
you like to use your scraps (either batting or fabrics), here's a great start to creating unique one-of-a-kind quilt projects from remade pieces.

Piecing to Quilting to Snuggling under a cozy quilt!  Here we go....

Anyone interested in participating in a 2015 BOM using pieced blocks as shown in the photo above and creating a unique scrappy quilt with the quilt-as-you-go method? Let me know.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Oh.. Lollipop!

The third and final FREE project for 2014 in this PIECED-STRING SERIES, is available now at my website. I am providing a few more details here; to add to the pattern instructions. You can also check out the other two projects previously posted, if desired.

"Sometimes life just needs candy!"

Sew up these delightful lollipops to sweeten the day... Or if you wish, they are easily adapted to become a bouquet of flowers.

As you can see from the photo, the complete quilt top is make from 1-1/4" wide strings. The lollipops are made using blues and purples. The candy jar uses whites; the background uses two alternating browns; and the border uses the same colors as the candy.

So have fun with this one; and select your favorite colors to stitch up this cute mini quilt!!

  Front : 11 fabric strips (1-1/4” wide x 9-1/2” long)
  Border: 4 strips (1-1/4” wide x length of side)
  Backing: 11” x 11” piece
  Binding: approx. 58" long x 2-1/4" wide

Applique Design – (made with pieced fabric)
  Lollipop: 3 strings x 2-1/2” wide (each)
  Candy Jar: 6 strings x 4” wide
  Candy sticks: 1 string x 4” long

  Fusible web – 7” x 8” piece
  Batting – 11” x 11” piece
  Sewing thread – colors of your choice




Sometimes when adding applique to a single layer of fabric, it can distort the shape. One way to prevent this is to add another layer of material behind it when stitching on the appliques. However, to avoid adding more bulk, why not use the batting layer to give this support. On a small project, this works well.

To keep both pieces in place, add some stitching that will secure both pieces and also give some added dimension behind the applique design. In this mini quilt, all I added was a diagonal line from corner to corner, creating an X. Certainly, more can be added, if desired.

When adding multiple pieces; it is sometimes very time consuming to stitch around all those edges, especially if you wish to match the thread to the fabrics used. So one way to make the process easier is to add only certain pieces; stitch around them; and then continue adding more appliques.

So for this design......
A. Lay out your appliques on the background piece to figure out placement of all the parts; then remove those not needed; fuse on the lower portion of the candy sticks to hold them in place.
B. Then fold back sticks so they are out of the way of the stitching. This provides easy access to the top of the white piece which will get stitched first.
C. Once done, unfold the sticks and fuse in place to continue. Stitch.
D.* At this point, either add the border and finish with the candy and candy jar. Or add all the remaining appliques first; and finish with the border.
E. Photo shows finished mini quilt. An outline stitch was added around the applique design.


B.)  STITCH ON JAR PIECE (white thread)

C.)  STITCH ON CANDY STICKS (green thread)



Originally, I was going to make these into flowers. In quilting, you make the final choices in fabric selection and any adaptations to the design. can decide!

Have a cheery day!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Extreme Scappy Pillow

Ever heard of CRUMB QUILTS?  These quilts use those smaller fabric scraps and take a very long time to complete. I even added some plain fabric blocks, because I needed a few more scrappy blocks, but could just not get myself to make any more. To see how I made this one; and where I found the idea about this project, you can check it out here.


After I made my first scrappy quilt (top); as shown above, I never considered making another project using tiny scraps. But, here it is.....


Having sorted through my smaller fabric pieces; and cut them into a variety of usable sizes. I then had a really nice supply of squares and strings; however, I still had the dilemma of what to do with those oddly shaped pieces that didn't fit those requirements.

That was when I figured, I should make an extremely scrappy pillow. I found a suitable size (approx. 13" x 18") in my fabric stash to use for the backing fabric; and hoped to cover it with those very oddly shaped scraps.

Making it more challenging, this piece was a rectangular shape; however, it was the size we wanted for the pillow. Even though, its size was not as formidable as a quilt; I still wanted to quit several times.

After stitching enough pieces together, I finally got the surface covered. Originally, I had planned to make another layer for the bottom of the pillow, as well; as I still had plenty of scrappy pieces left. But, changed my mind, as that was already very tedious.

It was around that time, that my machine figured it didn't want to sew anymore; and took a turn for the worst. Now, I don't remember at what stage this occurred; however, the needle jammed hard into the machine and it was a real struggle to get it out. And it was not making happy sounds, either. So, I decided to hurry the process and finish the back side of the pillow with a piece of fabric.

To hold the stuffing, I also made a pillowcase-type liner. The final step, was to hand-stitch the opening closed.

The reason I call it my "Extreme Scrappy Pillow" is because the stuffing consists of fabric scraps that are cut up pretty small. And the liner kept all those teeny-tiny pieces from falling out during the making of this project.

It turned out like this:



PS:  If one wants to sew and doesn't have a project on the go; why not fill in those times piecing together scraps; and when you have enough for a project, it should go together quite quickly.

Thrifty and creative methods can win the day!