Dollar Store Finds

Stitching wool appliqué does not have to cost you a lot of money. Besides the wool and thread, you already may have most of the supplies you need in your sewing studio or home office. Any other supplies you need can be found not only at your local quilt or craft shop but also at local big-box or specialty stores and even the “dollar” store, depending on your personal needs and taste. Following are just a few items you can find and not spend a lot of money. Happy shopping!

Small ruler
Colored pencils
Graph paper
Pens and pencils
Pins and needles
White eraser
Glue stick
Binder clips
Transparent adhesive tape
Painter’s tape
Bamboo skewers
Plastic storage boxes



Keep Your Place

I think quilters and stitchers love books just as much as they love fabric and thread. Recently I picked up Elizabeth Hartman’s Patchwork City at the de-stash table of the South Florida Modern Quilt Guild and decided to stitch some of the blocks as part of my long-delayed “coffee” quilt. I tried to keep the book open to the page I needed using a variety of items including a scissors, a magnetic pin cushion, another book, etc. Unfortunately, nothing allowed me to see the complete page and keep the book open until I grabbed a large chip clip from the kitchen. I just clipped it to the corner of the page, and it worked like a charm!



Listen to Your Gut

Just as (I hope) you don’t believe everything you read on the internet, please don’t believe everything you see on YouTube. While creating Artist Trading Cards for my SAQA Pod, I had an issue with the stitching on my Janome, so l whipped out the manual and rethreaded the bobbin. No luck. The stitching still wasn’t right. So, I decided to look on YouTube to see if I could find a video to help me. I did. However, the person on the video instructed viewers to put the bobbin in backwards. At first, I didn’t believe what was said, so I backed up and listened again. No. She said clockwise not counter-clockwise. I decided to return to my manual, rethreaded the bobbin as instructed but same problem. So, I followed the adage – “when all else fails, rethread your machine.” I found the thread had slipped out of the take-up lever, which is hidden behind a door on the front of the machine! The moral of this story is – don’t believe everything you see on YouTube. Most times grandma, mom, your home ec teacher, or sewing instructor are usually right. When all else fails, rethread your machine. Period.


Storing a Stash

Having a blank slate to set up my new sewing studio was exciting but overwhelming. I loIMG_4639ve the white walls, the abundance of windows and natural lighting, and simply having a place of my own to stitch, sew, and quilt.

I love my Kallax cutting/storage table, which holds up to 40 bins of cotton fabric, tools, and supplies. Using the storage bins allows me to sort fabrics by project, but I still want to add wheels so I can move it about the studio as needed. I also need to purchase and paint a flat interior door to place on top. The table is just a great addition to the studio that I can use for cutting, crafting, choosing fabrics, designing patterns, and more.

But the 15+ large plastic bins of felted wool and cotton fabric stacked against onIMG_4642e wall was not attractive, it was difficult to get at wool and cotton on the bottom of the pile, and I couldn’t easily see my collection.

Thus, I made another trip to Ikea and purchased a 4×4 cube Kallax storage unit to replace the large plastic bins. I also purchased a few small plastic storage bins for my fat quarter, black-and-white, and batik collections, but I opted to simply place the zippered plastic bags of felted wool directly into the cubby holes. (I keep the wool bagged with cedar balls to ward off moths!) Now I have easy access to my fabric and wool, plus I can quickly locate particular colors as needed.


Redesigning a Sewing Studio

IMG_4251Moving a home – and sewing studio – 1,000+ miles is a hectic and nerve-wracking enterprise. I had to leave some things behind because they just didn’t fit into the truck. Luckily my younger daughter and son-in-law were purchasing our home, so we let them make the decision to keep or dispose of the items left behind.

The trip took us two days – my husband piloted the truck towing one car, and my older daughter and I drove the second car. My sister and brother-in-law moved to the same town a few months earlier and were ready and waiting to help us shuttle boxes and belongings. As the unloading commenced, it quickly became evident that about a third of the truck was stowed with my sewing studio gear. I just ignored all the comments from my husband and brother-in-law. My new sunlight-filled studio was just waiting to be set up.

The first thing I did was set up my thread racks. They added a pop of color to the room and immediately made it feel like a sewing space. As I unloaded plastic bins from their boxes, I knew I’d need new storage systems since all my shelving was left behind. Plus, I quickly found out that a bookshelf left in the home was not sturdy enough for my ginormous book collection.

Thus, we made the two-hour trip to Ikea – the beacon of organization and order. We picked up three Kallax cube units (my daughter found a cutting/storage table hack online) plus three Billy bookshelves. The centerpiece of the room is my mother’s Janome Memory Craft 9900 machine and Horn electric-lift sewing cabinet that she gifted to me. I temporarily set up two heavyweight plastic folding tables – one as a desk and one for my beloved Viking #1+ sewing machine. Another small folding table serves as a small ironing surface and could hold my Huskylock serger as needed. Still needed is a four-high lateral file to replace two smaller file cabinets and a wall of Kallax cubes for additional storage. Time to schedule Trip #2 to Ikea.