Category Archives: Holidays

It’s never too early for Halloween

My pumpkin obsessed son already has me working on things for Halloween!  Threads that Bind has a very cute pattern called Pumpkin Farm that makes five  stuffed jack-o-lanterns.  My son saw the pattern and insisted that I buy it.  Now he is expecting me to make him one new pumpkin each day for the next week.

Crack the Pumpkin

“Crack” is the first pumpkin to be finished (although it will probably take a few more weeks to finish all five) and he turned out pretty cute.  This is made with a very easy reverse applique process and only took about an hour to make.  Since I know these pumpkins will get a lot of attention from my son (ie, he will eat, sleep, and play with them), I went ahead and used the cheaper wool felt blend for it.  I don’t really care for this type of felt, it doesn’t look as nice and it pills quite easily.  However, for a kid’s project, it’s just the ticket.

Keep it Thimble!

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Happy Belated Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there and an extra special hug and kiss to my dear mom!  I meant to get this posted yesterday, but time just gets away.  I also noticed it’s been two weeks since my last post – shame on me!

Mother’s Day Card from my son

Here is what I had waiting for me when I woke up on Sunday morning.  On the other side of the card my son had drawn the entire lifecycle of a butterfly from the egg – too cute!

Dearest Dolls, Ken Davies, 1954

I’ve found some great picture at the thrift stores recently.  The first one is a print from 1954 by Ken Davies called “Dearest Dolls”.  From a bit of research, it seems as if this was a print commissioned by Family Circle magazine.  This is painted in what is known as trompe-l’œil–painting something so realistic as to make it appear like it is actually a three dimensional object.  All of his subjects involve some form of Americana and after looking at his website, I wish I could have a whole houseful of his paintings!

Cross Stitch, Pam Jersey, 1975

Here is another treasure I found, stitched by Pam Jersey in 1975.  Her name is signed on the back of the frame.  I’d like to get this cleaned, blocked, and re-framed and am tempted to find some vintage floss and stitch her name and date on the front.  What do you think – is that cheating?  This is going in my downstairs bathroom.

Cross Stitch Sampler, maker unknown

Finally, here is an old-fashioned cross-stitched sampler, no idea of the date or who made it.  I figure it must be at least from the 60’s or 70’s…any ideas?  This is a good reminder that you must always sign and date your work.  You have no idea who might find it years later and really appreciate it.

Keep it thimble!

The Easter Bunny Came Early!

Last week, my husband discovered a nest of baby rabbits in our back yard!  They grow pretty quickly and recently were big enough to leave the nest.   It was hard to get a good picture of them since we didn’t want to disturb them.  The mama rabbit would come by in the evenings to check on and feed her two little bunnies.  They are so cute and we were sad to see them go, but maybe they will come back to say “hello” on Easter.

Baby Rabbits!

Speaking of Easter, you probably have everything you need for your baskets, but if you are looking for a fun and quick project, click HERE for my tutorial on how to make a Sock Bunny!  I made these last year was very pleased with the results.  If you have time, you can also make a colorful vest, dress, or bonnet for your rabbit.

Sock Rabbit (aka Bunny)

Keep it Thimble!

Tutorial – Cute Cupcake Pincushion

Happy Birthday to me!  Yes, today is my birthday – one of my favorite days of the year (besides Halloween and Fourth of July) and I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a Cupcake Pincushion.

Figure 6 - Finished Cupcake

Birthday Cupcake Pincushion

Awhile back during one of my thrift store runs, I bought a bunch of plastic ramekins with the idea of making something with them.  Inspiration struck me when I was trying to come up a fun gift for a sewing friend and this cute little cupcake pincushion was born.  In honor of my birthday, I put together this tutorial for you.

Supplies Needed:

  • 3 oz plastic fluted ramekin
  • Poly-fil stuffing
  • 6″ Sq. Fabric
  • Size 5 Perle Cotton
  • Red Button
  • Ribbon
  • Saucer (for template)
  • Glue (I used Allene’s Quick Dry glue)
  • Long needle
  • 3/16″ glue dots

1. Trace around the saucer on the square of fabric. The circle should be roughly 5 1/2″ in diameter.

2. Thread an embroidery needle with a 36″ piece of perle cotton. Make a running stitch around the outside of the circle with about a 1/4″ seam allowance. (Figure 1)

Figure 1 - Running Stitch

Figure 1 - Running Stitch

3. Gather the circle and stuff tightly with Poly-fil. Gather tightly and tie off, but leave about 28″ of thread for the long tail – do not cut. (Figure 2)

Figure 2 - Stuff

Figure 2 - Stuff

4. Poke the needle through the top center of the pincushion and come out at the bottom center. Wrap perle cotton around edge of pincushion and come down through the top center again. Pull on thread to make tight (cushion will dimple on the side). Wrap cotton on the opposite side and come down through top center again and pull tight. Proceed in this manner until you have done this a total of 8 times. The cushion will now be segmented into 8 parts. (Figure 3)

Figure 3 - Segment Cushion

Figure 3 - Segment Cushion

5. Bring thread up through center one more time so that it is coming out through the top center. Take red button and place in top center of pincushion. Thread the perle cotton through button holes and then down through bottom to secure button. Repeat 2 – 3 times. (Figure 4)

Figure 4 - Sew button

Figure 4 - Sew button

6. Apply glue to inside of ramekin. (Figure 5). Place cushion inside ramekin and let dry for a few hours.

Figure 5 - Glue in ramekin

Figure 5 - Glue in ramekin

7. Cut 18″ of ribbon. Use glue dots to secure ribbon to outside of ramekin (place glue dots about every inch around top). Tie into a bow. Put a dot of glue to secure bow. Add some pins. Enjoy! (Figure 6).

Figure 6 - Finished Cupcake

Figure 6 - Finished Cupcake

Have a great day and eat some real cake.

Keep it thimble!

 

Two Pillows – Finally Finished!

First off, here’s my monthly stash reduction report for February 2012:

  • Used the last month: 4 yards
  • Used Year to Date: 5 yards
  • Added in the last Month: 2 yards
  • Added Year to Date: 32 yards
  • Net Used for 2012: +28 yards

As you can see, I had a much better month then January, since I actually used more fabric than I bought.    My overall net went down by 1 yard, so surely by the end of the year my net fabric used will be running in the negative (that’s the goal).

Wool Rabbit Throw Pillow

Wool Rabbit Throw Pillow

I also had time to finally finish two pillow kits that I’ve had for at least 4 years!   The first is a cute little wool bunny – perfect for Spring. This kit is from a LQS (local quilt shop), and I think the owner of the shop drew the bunny pattern.  This is wool applique on top of one of those colorful cotton dishtowels.  The trim is a cream colored fringe that sets off the pillow perfectly.

Fourth of July Pillow

Fourth of July Pillow

The second pillow is from a Crabapple Hill pattern (I think it was a freebie pattern she offered a long time ago).  It is stitched with Red, White, and Blue perle cotton.  I love the fireworks!

What projects have you been able to complete this month?  What are you working on for Spring?

Keep it Thimble!

Tutorial – Pretty Patchwork Heart Pocket

Looking for a quick gift or a fun home dec idea?  Here’s a set of Pretty Patchwork Heart Pockets that can be sewn together in about an hour.  This tutorial includes directions for making both versions!

Pretty Patchwork Heart Pockets

Make a bunch of these and place in a pretty basket or bowl.  Use clothespins to attach them to ribbon and create a fun garland or window swag!

Pretty Patchwork Heart Pocket - Version 1

You can use scraps for this and make them in a variety of colors – red and white for Valentine’s Day, green and white for St. Patrick’s Day, red/white/blue for Fourth of July, orange and black for Halloween, or red and green for Christmas!

Pretty Patchwork Heart Pocket - Version 2

The back features a small pocket.  Tuck in a gift card or some dried flowers.

Pretty Patchwork Heart Pocket - Back View

From Fabric A cut:

  • Three 4.5″ squares
  • One 5.5″ Square
  • One 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle

From Fabric B cut:

  • Three 4.5″ squares
  • One 5.5″ Square
  • One 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle
Take one Fabric A 4.5″ square and one Fabric B 4.5″ square.  Pin the squares right sides together and sew a 1/4″ seam on the right and left sides.  Make two sets (Figure 1).

Figure 1 - Sew Side Seams

Cut these units into three rectangles that are 1.5″ x 4.5″.  Make sure you are cutting parallel to the seams you just made (Figure 2).  Do this for both sets.

Figure 2 - Cut Into Strips

Press the seams towards the darkest fabric to create two pieced units (Figure 3).

Figure 3 - Press open

Take the center rectangles and sew them to the appropriate side of the pieced units (Figure 4).  Press the seams to the darks.  You now have two units of alternating fabrics (A-B-A and B-A-B). Make two sets.

Figure 4 - Sew Strips to Create Squares

Take one of each type of square  (A-B-A and B-A-B), make sure stripes are going the same direction, and pin them right sides together.  Sew along the shorter sides with a 1/4″ seam.  Do this for both sets.  Cut each set into three rectangles that are 1.5″ x 4.5″.    You will be cutting perpendicularly to the stripes (Figure 5).  Press the seams.

Figure 5 - Sew Side Seams and Cut Into Strips

Sew the center strip to the appropriate pieced unit to make TWO nine-patch blocks (Figure 6).  Do not sew the other strips to make blocks.  You will now two nine-patch blocks and two sets of partial blocks.

Figure 6 - Sew Two Nine Patch Blocks

To make Version 1, sew the partial blocks onto one nine patch block (Figure 7).

Figure 7 - Create Version 1 Heart

Take make Version 2, sew the 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangles onto one nine patch block (Figure 8).

Figure 8 - Create Heart Version 2

Set these two heart fronts aside and make the pocket.  Take the remaining two of the 4.5″ squares, and press it on the diagonal right sides OUT (Figure 9).

Figure 9 - Make Pocket

Take one of the 5.5″ squares, place it right side up, and then pin one of the folded triangles on this to make the pocket.  For best results, use contrasting pocket  on the backing fabric (Figure 10).

Figure 10 - Pin Backing to Pocket

Pin one heart front and one heart back right sides together (Figure 11).

Figure 11 - Pin Backing and Heart Right Sides Together

Download Heart Template here.  Trace onto piece of cardboard and cut out template.  In order to create sewing line, place template on pinned hearts and trace around it (Figure 12).  DO NOT CUT.  Sew around the line you just drew – leave a 3″ opening in one side for stuffing.

Figure 12 - Trace Around Heart Template

Cut off excess fabric and leave about 1/4″ seam.  Clip corner, curves, and heart center.  Turn inside out (Figure 13).  Stuff lightly and hand-stitch opening closed.

Figure 13 - Turn Inside Out and Press

Keep it thimble!

True Fabric Confessions

I have to confess, I’ve already blown my stash reduction resolution made at the beginning of the month – it’s a lot harder than I thought!  In my defense, I had good reasons for purchasing the following items (and some of it falls under the rule exceptions).

Adding to my Halloween stash

Here is a bundle of Halloween fabric I purchased at an online quilt shop.  This fabric line features “Boo Kitty” and is designed by Bonnie Sullivan of All Through the Night.  There are several good reasons why I needed this much.  First, it was on sale for a very good price and there was a 1 yard minimum cut per fabric.  Second, this line was released years ago and is VERY hard to find.  Third, I have the cutest pattern for a Halloween table topper that uses this fabric and I WILL make it – I promise!

Halloween Celebration by Bonnie Sullivan, All Through the Night

Next, the Local Quilt Shop (LQS) was having a one day sale of 30% off all fabric.  This shop is one of the few in the area that carries Civil War fabric.   This style is very useful for all the quilts I make, plus I have to bring five fat quarters of Civil War fabric to my monthly quilting bee.  It’s best to stock up when it’s on sale – right?

Adding to my Civil War stash

Last, here is my haul from the thrift store.  I usually find nice large pieces of corduroy and denim that I can use for my bags.  There is a new pattern in the works and I will need to make a few prototypes.  It’s better to use fabric from the thrift store since it is so cheap (about $1 a yard).

Thrift Store Stash

So, as you can see, all these purchases were justifiable.  But just to keep things honest, I am going to write down my MONTHLY stash report (it’s apparent these need to be done monthly, in order to have the desired effect of actually reducing the stash):

  • Used the last month: 1 yard
  • Used Year to Date: 1 yard
  • Added in the last Month: 30 yards
  • Added Year to Date: 30 yards
  • Net Used for 2012: 29 yards
Keep it Thimble!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  Have a wonderful day and enjoy yourself.  I’ll be spending most of it with a sugar high, regulated by a side of turkey. Ho ho ho!

Merry Christmas!

Three More Sewing Days Until Christmas!

Three (actually two and half) sewing days until Christmas!!  I am sure many of you are busily finishing up your hand crafted gifts so they are ready to be opened Christmas morning!  But, what if things aren’t going as planned and you find yourself in the same dilemma as my friend Jen:

Dear Keep It Thimble,
 
I’m guessing most people are experiencing what I am right now, which is last minute Xmas-freak-outs. I’m trying to decide if I should give up on some of my gifts. I had planned on making PJ pants for all the kids, and reversible totes for the girls.
 
So far, I have 1 and ¾ PJS done. The third pair is not even cut out yet. Here is the clincher: Thursday and Friday will be spent getting ready for Xmas – so there is no time to sew.  Do I have time to make 3 bags and 1+ jammies before then? What would you do?
 
–Jen, www.sewfun.com

Great question Jen, and I wanted to share this since I am sure many people are in the same boat.  I, like you, had grand plans to make all my Christmas gifts this year.  Last Friday, I came to the realization that I didn’t have time to get all my gifts finished.*   So, I baked homemade treats for my friends  and bought things from the store for my family (gasp).  In the meantime, I decided that birthdays are the best time to give someone a handmade gift.  That way you have more time to make each person something special and unique, and you don’t paint yourself in a corner and end up sewing like a maniac for 2 – 3 days (something you want to avoid at the holidays since there are other things that will need your attention).

In your case, I think you should try to finish up the PJs and then make the bags for either a birthday gift, or a New Year’s present.  If it is a New Year present, you can put a book or a calendar in there  – a new start for the year or something.

*Of course, it was my fault for procrastinating too much, and had I started them in September (as planned), things would have turned out differently.

Also, if you do find that you need to bake instead, here is a delicious (and easy fudge recipe):

Gum Drop Fudge - photo from Taste of Home

  • 1-1/2 pounds white candy coating, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped gumdrops

Directions

  • Line a 9-in. square pan with foil; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine the candy coating, milk and salt. Cook and stir over low heat until chips are melted. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and gumdrops.
  • Spread into prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Using foil, remove fudge from the pan; cut into 1-in. squares. Store at room temperature. Yield: about 3 pounds.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 piece) equals 74 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 2 mg cholesterol, 11 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, trace protein.

Originally published as Gumdrop Fudge in Quick Cooking November/December 2002, p9

 

Have a great holiday and remember to Keep It Thimble!

Christmas Stockings and Patterns

Only 17 more craft days until Christmas!  Not much time left to get those handmade gifts completed for your friends and loved ones.  This year I also need to think about Teacher Gifts – I need 11 of them!  I was planning to make each teacher one of these little stockings and put a gift card and some candy inside, but it’s time for me to admit that I need to go to plan B.  Right now I have 4 stockings and I won’t have time to make the other 7 before my son starts vacation.

Mini Patchwork Stockings

Mini Homespun Stocking

No worries though, I do have a back up plan, but it involves buying it from the store (gasp!).  However, I did want to share this stocking with you as I think they make very cute gifts and can also be hung on the tree.  These stockings are great stash-busters and best of all, the pattern is free.

If you need a larger stocking, you can download this free pattern from the McCall’s website (but you have to join their mailing list first). I made a few of these last year and they are also cute.  This pattern is nice because it is simple and you can get creative with the embellishments.

Christmas Stocking

Christmas Stocking

I am already thinking about Keep It Thimble’s plans for next year and hope to have some new features to roll out next year.  More on this in a few weeks.

Keep it Thimble!