Sewing Machine Special Stitches

I’m hoping to learn machine free-stitching techniques soon so I recently tried out all of my sewing machines stitches and “documented” my results.


I stitched all the numbers on the wheel then I started experimenting with the stitch length

the final sampler

My First Machine Free Stitch

I freehand sketched the main leaf pattern then used all my available thread to fill it in with special stitches (ran out of bobbins after the 3rd leaf…experiment ended for now…so lazy).


A Finished Product: Sewing Machine Finally Earns Its Keep

I needed to replace (or re-cover) the arm rests on the rocking chair in the living room (It’s the rocking chair from my now 20 year-old daughter’s baby years…needed a little refurbishing and we’re not getting rid of it…ever… o^O).

Luckily I bought this cool roll of paper from the place where I took my machine sewing classes (which is kind of shiny on one side…deli paper?) to cut out patterns.


I measured the arm rests of the “Rocking Chair Needing New Arm Rests” and cut out at least four paper patterns before I got something that might resemble a finished product (with seams)…(cheap paper patterns are so helpful to avoid mistakes with material!)

And here we go! I just need to secure it with a few anchor stitches to the arm rests! 

I inherited this material from a friend (it matches so great!!) and just sewed some seams onto each edge to get them ready for the upgrade. I dealt with the corner seams like an (untrained) champ and I now have a new home decor solution!

When I dreamed of owning a sewing machine I imagined myself sewing curtains for my home…so this seems pretty close to the dream (plus I’ve realized since then that buying curtains is way easier…unless the windows are a weird size…spoken from experience). #yaycustomwindows #rennovationsarefun


Stamping Christmas Cards (sorry it’s so early)

I’m happy to report that I’m working way ahead of schedule this year in the area of Christmas cards. Year before last I stitched some Christmas card beauties and, frankly, set the bar way too high for myself, as witnessed by last year when I barely wrote replies to those industrious souls who kept us on their list. It’s a tough grind that one wants to keep going right? (Yes we do – it’s worth it – handwritten snail mail rocks!). In some cases it’s our only reachout to some of our favorite people! And once my progeny moved out of the house the ready-made family photo was no longer available as card material, so I had to come up with something (dog photos? Scruffy is pretty Scruffy-licious!)

Draw a Few/Carve Once – Stamp Lots

One of the things I love about rubber stamp carving is that it allows me to easily share a creative idea across multiple media. I’ve just experimented with paper here but I can see some fun to be had in stamping material with these (handmade stamped canvas gift bags?).

I sketched so many trees before I figured this one out! I like the way it comes out after Sharpie embellishments.
So many things to love…

The drawing for the tree stamp is partially showing top right, so that’s fun to see in it’s original state (the candy cane and heart you’ll see in a minute). Then the poinsettia, which I stamped in a darker red to accentuate the spaces, and also in a lighter red so I could marker-outline the edges. Right now I can’t decide which I like more. Let’s make 10 of each!

I think those are the winners in this year’s contest for “Which Rubber Stamp Carvings Will Make This Year’s Christmas Cards” (the acronym isn’t worth it…this contest may never happen again).

Runners Up

Candy canes big and small deserve air time, and I’m here to make sure that happens.

The heart candy canes are my own design (though I doubt I’m the first to think of it so I won’t be seeking a patent) and I think they’ll look great on the sealed back of a Christmas/Valentine’s Day card envelope.

The larger candy cane stands alone as a tribute to lazy rubber stamp carving. It was easy, so I did it, and I can’t imagine where I’ll use it. Such is the way with rubber stamp carving sometimes. (Good news: I used a scrap piece from another stamp to make it, so no full rubber stamp lives were lost in the making of this candy cane stamp.) Phew! Thank you for your concern.

Sending love and thoughts of light. What art are you working on today?


Where Do All the Cigar Boxes Go?

I bought some more boxes, and now I’m wondering where all these amazing cigar boxes are going?! The cigar store owners seem to be very ready to get rid of them…like maybe it’s a problem related to selling cigars!

They're all so different!
They’re all so different!

I happened upon a new store recently and thought to ask about empty boxes. At first he said he sells them for $1.99 each, and that a man comes by every two months or so and buys them all – and he offers them to him for one dollar each at that time. I asked him what the man uses them for, but he hasn’t asked (ah well).

So then he offered me 11 boxes for $10. How can one resist? I mean, they’re so weird and different – every one! Some of them even have a little clasp to close them, like on my diary from a million years ago (e.g. childhood)!

So now I own “A LOT” of cigar boxes – some of which are being used for craft supplies (not labeled yet, so it’s a hunt-and-chase situation…mergh…:\ )

They come in all shapes and sizes (what crafter isn’t “wow’ed” by that alone?!). The one on the left is a trapezoid (I think…whatever, it’s a weird shape!)


It has a magic slide top y'all. Seriously.
It has a magic slide top y’all. Seriously. Are cigar smokers doing magic now and we just didn’t realize it?


This box has a wooden partition in it that has the label glued on
This box has a wooden partition in it that has a label glued on the edge…which says “Hand Made.”

So much wow.

I think I’m officially addicted now to cigar boxes. (According to all the labels, I’m better off addicted to the boxes than the cigars…have to figure out how to remove all those useful labels…P.S. DON’T SMOKE…but check out smoke shops because they probably have some cool boxes sitting around that they want to get rid off).


Sewing Machine Skills…Check!

I’m not sure exactly why I’ve been so afraid of using a sewing machine up until now…but I was. So I tackled that baby head-on and made two more tote bags (based on this one I made in class).

I learned a lot, made some mistakes (always a part of learning), and I now feel like I’ve conquered my sewing machine (enough to work it anyways). Today I filled a bobbin and threaded my machine with new thread (a first for me, unsupervised), and completed two more tote bags.

Another greenish theme allowed me to use the same thread in the machine as the last bag (lazy and/or addicted to this color palette)
Another greenish theme allowed me to use the same thread in the machine as the last bag (lazy and/or addicted to this color palette)


This one is my favorite – the colors and prints make me inexplicably happy.

The lining inside on these is the same as the top print, which may seem like a waste of print material to some, but I enjoy the happy surprise of a party inside the bag and the darker print on the bottom will show less dirt.

Things to work on:

  • My measuring and cutting needs help – things didn’t line up as well as they did in class and I’m a bit baffled by it.
  • The straps don’t match up exactly on the bottom of my two new bags. I’ll ask the teacher how that might have happened (besides my earlier mentioned measuring/cutting challenges).
  • I forgot to stitch the top of each new bag and had to re-string the machine with the green thread. Pay attention to detail, and good on me for practicing threading the machine again. (What does everyone do with all those half-filled bobbins? Do you just keep buying more for new projects? Do you unwind them when you’re done? Seems like a lot of bobbins…)

In this Saturday’s class I’m going to start on some flannel pajama pants (there’s elastic involved…I’m a little nervous). Wish me luck!

I used a sewing machine y’all!!

I am taking a sewing machine class that spans four Saturdays. My experience with sewing machines has been: hands-on in 7th grade (the dress I made didn’t fit well over my shoulders…), The End. So I’ve been hand-sewing and hand-mending for the last XX years, living in fear of sewing machines, broken needles and threading mysteries.

The first class we just talked about sewing materials and techniques, but today I hauled my new sewing machine into class and made a tote bag!!

the dark green panels are all pockets!
the dark green panels are all pockets!
the bottom - I made square corners y'all!
the bottom – I made square corners y’all!


I'm thrilled with these close stitches right on the edge (it's the small wins on the big projects that matter). Sewing machines are cool!
I’m thrilled with these close stitches right on the edge (it’s the small wins on the big projects that matter). Sewing machines are cool!

OK – So I’m going to sew up 12 more of these post-haste (not really…but I feel inspired!). Just as I suspected: sewing machines sew things up way faster than by hand (soo-prize!).

Hand-stitching a garment

So this is what I’ve really been up to in the past few days.

Alabama Chanin stitching – left side has been cut out and right side hasn’t


Chanin stitched corset pieces
Chanin stitched corset pieces (some are backwards so you can see the knots on each leaf)


Geranium in the mix
Geranium in the mix

I bought some great beads a few days ago that I think will make great embellishments. I’ll keep you posted…

Humbly Learning Pine Coiling

I watched a few videos and read a few stitch guides…and I’m pretty happy with the results! These are “mini-baskets” so I could learn some new stitches and play around with different lashings. I learned many things…

group_stump3 group_stump2

artificial sinew in a v-stitch
artificial sinew in a v-stitch
blue button in the middle
blue button in the middle



black waxed thread with beads
black waxed thread with beads
I think the black thread should go all the way around…(I was going for half/half…didn’t work out)


Black jewelry wire (see the diamond shapes?)
Black jewelry wire (see the diamond shapes?)
inside button - I'll go for less wire wraps next time
inside button – I’ll go for less wire wraps next time


the bottom of this mini-basket...might be nicer than the inside...
the bottom of this mini-basket…might be nicer than the inside…or maybe not…










































That was a fun week of weaving and coiling (kind of rough on the fingers – lots of great ideas…). I’m reading through my Alabama Chanin Stitch book and ready to do some hand-stitching next!!

Sea Grass Basket

Thank you Donna Sakamoto Crispin for the base pattern!

Sea Grass Basket
Sea Grass Basket
Shells from my collection – Ocean-drilled spaces…
the bottom of the basket
the bottom of the basket
front of basket – overlapping braid end
sea grass braid
purple sea grass braid
beads inside
surprise surfline beads inside
It works upside-down too!
It works upside-down too!


Basket front
Basket front

I’m having so much fun with this basket (it clinks when I move it!).

It feels, smells and sounds like the ocean…

Geography on the Dinner Table

I completed this project about 15 years ago when I attended my daughter’s first grade orientation and heard that geography was last on the list (e.g: they might get to it on Thursday afternoons).

I had a wooden dining room table from a relative with water marks all over the top. So I adhered a National Geographic map to the top, then varnished the top (with what turned out to be old shellac – turned out yellowish, which makes the whole thing look like it belongs on a pirate ship: bonus!).

Change chairs...whole new world!
Change chairs…whole new world!

I used the wrong adhesive and there’s wrinkles-turned-into-holes over time…but the idea stands solid. And every parent who has seen it or heard about it seems enthralled, so I thought to share.

“My Educational Geography Plus Plan”: Start early in elementary with a map on the table and play games (e.g. I Spy, Hot/Cold location, etc.). Then move the table or switch chairs, so the focus is different. As a family, we ate three meals a day at the table and it’s a great way to bring geography and learning into the daily family chatter.