Category Archives: Tutorials & Tips

Bobbin Storage

Bobbin storage

All my bobbins drive me nuts. They’re everywhere. Around my sewing area, on my thread rack, in the sewing machine cabinet and in plastic cases that always open up and spill out onto the floor. I would love to keep the bobbin with its matching spool of thread, but the pegs on my rack are not long enough.

This morning I came across several bobbin storage solutions from the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild.

The rubber band solution is my favorite. If you have newspaper delivery, no doubt you’ve already got a stash of rubber bands. BOOM!

MacGyver’d Cone Thread Holder

Ottlite Upcycle Cone Thread Holder

A few months ago I made myself a cone thread holder out of stuff I had around the house and garage. It worked great, but it was pretty big. You can see my original post here.

Last weekend I found an Ottlite without a bulb at Goodwill and thought I hit a gold mine. It was only $3.00.

Ottlite Slimline Table Lamp

Today I used a 40% off coupon at Joann’s and got a replacement bulb for $20.99. Good Lord, even that’s expensive. Well guess what, the lamp doesn’t work. I took it apart and it smelled like something electrical had burned. I threw it away, but noticed the base had some nice weight to it and already had a screw hole. The MacGyver in me immediatly thought of a cone thread holder.

All I had to do was transfer the parts from the old thread holder and drill a new hole (right below the Ottlite logo) for the bamboo skewer.

Ottlite Upcycle

And here’s what I ended up with. Too cool!

Ottlite Upcycle Cone Thread Holder

I decided not to glue the skewer into the base. That way I can easily remove the stick and store it.

Here’s another nifty roll-your-own cone thread stand.

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Free Quilting and Sewing Videos

Free Quilting Videos

I like quality written quilting instructions, but nothing gets the point across better than videos.  I just found a stash of them from McCalls Quilting and Craftsy. They’re all free.

Free McCall’s Quilting Videos

Click here for the index of these free quilting videos from McCall’s

Block Builders Workshop – Free monthly block techniques and bonuses from McCall’s Quiliting magazine.

Product Partner Features – Videos from Gammill, Handi Quilter, Rowan, Pfaff, RJR Fabrics, Timeless Treasures Fabrics and more.

Special Techniques – 3D shapes, circles and curved pieces, yo-yos, embellishments, fabric boxes and more.

Basic Quilting Classes – Seam allowances, pressing tips, chain piecing, color selection, pre-washing (or not), quilt making supplies, binding, templates, triangles, rotary cutting, fusible applique, and on and on and on. It’s a gold mine.

Free Craftsy Quilting and Sewing Classes

Have you seen the free sewing and quilting and videos from Craftsy? Craftsy has excellent instructors.

Block of the Month 2012 – The first BOM class with Amy Gibson. Each month learn how to create a new block to make a sampler quilt. Sign up here

Block of the Month 2013 – The 2012 class was so popular, they’ve continued into 2013 with all new blocks, taught by Laura Nownes. Sign up here

Creative Quilt Backs – Quilt backs don’t need to be a boring single-fabric canvas. Learn  how to create interesting effects with left over fabric from your quilt top to make the back as interesting as the front. Elizabeth Hartman is your instructor. Sign up here

Bag Making Basics – Beginners class for making a drawstring bag and a bucket bag. Sign up here

Bag Making Basics – Make reversible tote bag and zipper pouch. Sign up here

Sewing Machine 911 – Learn how to use and troubleshoot your sewing machine. Sign up here

Sewing Machine Feet from A to Z – Confused by all the feet that came with your sewing machine? Find out what they are and how they work. Sign up here

Additional Resources

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Quilting Tip: Save Those Triangles

Half Square Triangles

We all have them from time to time, those little triangle schnibbles left over from stitch-n-flip corners on a block. I always feel guilty for throwing them away because they’re perfectly good, already cut triangles. However, I’m not up for sewing all those bias edges to make the blocks and that’s why I just toss them.

But not anymo! Cluck Cluck Sew has a super cool technique for rescuing those triangle scraps by turning them into half square triangles right there at the sewing machine BEFORE she cuts them off.

Turn those triangle scraps into half-square triangles

Image from Click for tutorial.

Even if you don’t have enough to make an entire quilt, here are some ideas for other projects.

  • Quilt borders
  • Baby blanket
  • Sewing machine cover
  • Kindle/tablet cover
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Quilted tote bags
  • Table runners
  • Pot holders
  • Mug rugs
  • Placemats
  • Sofa or bed pillows
  • Pillow case border
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Not the Same Old Disappearing Nine-Patch Quilt

Amy Gibson's Scrappy Disappearing Nine Patch

The first time a saw a disappearing nine patch (D9P)  was in a tutorial by Jenny Doan at the Missouri Star Quilting Company. It’s so simple to make out of charm packs, but looks like you’ve spent hours cutting and piecing all those blocks together. Just one charm pack is the perfect size for a baby quilt.

Here’s that video…

Then months later I saw a D9P quilt that Amy Gibson did. (That’s it in the upper left corner of this post.) It’s the same cutting technique, but she arranged her blocks so the disappearing sections (cut blocks) are on the outside of the uncut blocks. That makes it look like the 4 blocks in the center are bordered by a 2″ pieced sashing. It’s so pretty, especially with the right fabrics. Plus, she added white sashing around each 4-block arrangement. That additional architectural detail really makes those blocks pop.

Amy cut yardage for her quilt to get the 5″ x 5″ blocks. It’s cheaper than buying charm packs. You can either use your stash and make it scrappy like Amy did, or purchase coordinating fabrics. I like cutting my own. Yes, it takes more time, but I don’t like dealing with those pinked edges on pre-cuts. It really makes it difficult keeping a straight 1/4″ seam.

Click here for Amy’s tutorial.

Here’s a close-up of four arranged blocks that Amy did.

Amy Gibson disappearing nine patch block arrangement.

You can get big discounts on charm packs and other pre-cuts right here.

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Sunny Skies Quilting Tutorial Video

Sunny Skies Quilt Pattern

Easy Quilting Tutorial

I just love using non-directional dots in quilts, so I was happy to see the latest quilting tutorial video from Jenny at the Missouri Star Quilting Company. See how that black dotted border frames this beautiful quilt? The cream background allows the eyes to rest, while the green makes it pop. It’s slightly tricky to layout, but it’s still an easy lap quilt if you strip piece the 4-patch or 16-patch blocks. I’m all for quick assembly.

The Sunny Skies quilt pattern was featured in the Fons & Porter’s Quilting Quickly Spring 2013 issue. That’s it at the top of this page. You can also download it right now, if you’re the impatient type, like me. Natalie did a good job of replicating it.

Here’s the video for Natalie’s version of the Sunny Skies lap quilt.


Download Here:

Download the Sunny Skies quilt pattern from Fon’s and Porter.

How to Patch Holes in Kids’ Pants

Holes in knees of pants

My 10 year old grandson loves holes in the knees of his pants. He says they keep his legs cool. He runs a little on the warm side. He refuses to where P.J.’s to bed and only sleeps in his boxers because he can’t stand being hot.

Yet at the same time, I’m pretty sure he’s thinking to himself, “These holes are cool. I have the cojones to wear them and I don’t give a darn what everyone else thinks.”

He’s been using his holey pants for yard work (he has lawn mowing jobs), but his mom got tired of him looking like he got attacked by zombies and wanted to throw them out. He said, “No! Keek knows how to patch holes.” That picture above is a pair of his “work pants”.

With so much fabric missing, I couldn’t just stitch the holes shut. I need some reinforcement fabric from the inside. That’s when I remembered this money fabric I had stashed for about 8 years. The boy is obsessed with money so I knew he’d love it.

Money fabric

Only thing is, how was I going to sew it on? A machine wasn’t going to work. So I cut a section of fabric to cover the hole and then fused strips of Pellon 805 Fusible Wonder Under to the front of money fabric and made an iron-on patch, ironing it on from the inside of the hole.

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Then to make sure the fabric wouldn’t rip off, I embroidered Jack Skellington stitches to hold it on.


Here’s the finished project.

Patched up pants