Category Archives: not clothes or quilts

Galaxie1 Launches at Midnight Tonight November 23rd 2017



BLACK FRIDAY COUPON : Save 50% on the new GALAXIE 1 pattern, with coupon code 50OFF2017, valid from November 24th, 00:01 Eastern Time to Nov. 27 23:59 Eastern Time.


The pattern will be uploaded tonight just before midnight.

Galaxie1 #2017, a New Pattern from Jalie

Coming Soon

A New Pattern from Jalie

I’m very excited to make a couple of announcements;  #1    I am now a team member for pattern testing and promotion for Jalie, a Canadian sewing pattern company.     #2   There is a new Jalie pattern coming out on November 24th.

Called Galaxie 1 #2017,  BAGS, TOTES AND POUCHES COLLECTION  Practical, easy-to-sew items made with fabric that you can find in local fabric stores.

I’ve been sewing samples of this new pattern, and am thrilled with the results.  This pattern is a bit of a change for Jalie, as it’s an assortment of bags instead of the garments I know them for.   The sewing methods are very professional, and there are some genius  construction techniques included.  This bag is called Saturne with Jupiter drawstring insert.   I backed the outer fabric with fusible fleece to give it some body and insulating value.  It’s my new lunch-bag and is large enough for an ice-pack, too.  It’s been inspected by the feline team and passed.


This next bag is named Mars, and it has some great details like the boxed corners, two colours, full zipper and check out those cute little tabs.  I used small pieces of Christmas fabric from my stash and plan to gift it with a few sewing notions tucked inside.


The new pattern will be available Friday November 24th from Jalie

BLACK FRIDAY COUPON : Save 50% on the new GALAXIE 1 pattern, with coupon code 50OFF2017, valid from November 24th, 00:01 Eastern Time to Nov. 27 23:59 Eastern Time. This pattern will be available in PDF only.

What do you think of this new pattern? 

Your comments are always welcome.

A New Pattern is Coming from Jalie

I’ve had the honour to do a bit of pattern testing for Jalie this past week, and it’s been a fun challenge.  

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, the Jalie name is familiar to you.  I’ve been sewing their patterns for years, starting when I owned a sewing machine retail store where I sold patterns, fabric and notions along with the sewing machines.  Many of the garment classes we held focused on the Jalie pattern line.

Since selling my business I’ve sewn quite a few test garments for Distinctive Sewing Supplies, an online retailer of fine fabrics and patterns working out of Oakville Ontario and most of the patterns were by Jalie. 

Sew now I’ve been sewing for Jalie directly as part of a testing team!

The pattern that we’re testing hasn’t been released yet, but stick around here, and as soon as it is, I’ll let you know!


Here are the fabrics I chose for the next one.

Sew a Bag for Fluffy Microwaved Potatoes


Yes, these are sew fast to make up that you still have time to whip up a few before Christmas,      IF      you have the right scrim-free batting.

This is the one I use, and one package will make 6.  Your local quilt shop might carry it, if not,

I get mine here; at







To make one bag, you’ll need 2 pieces of quilters cotton, 12 inches by 22 inches, and one piece of scrim-free batting 12″ x 22″

If you open out the batting like this diagram, you can cut 6 from one piece with very little waste.

Place your 2 pieces of quilters cotton with right sides together, then smooth the batting on top with all edges even.  Turn it over so the batting is on the bottom, and using 100% cotton thread and 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the 2 short ends through all layers.  I found it fed better with the batting down, and my Dual Feed foot was my best friend.

Trim the seam allowance to 1/8th ” , then turn right sides out so the batting is in between the fabric.  Press with iron to flatten, then top-stitch along each short end.

I quilted this  flat piece about 5 inches apart using cotton thread.  I suspect these will end up in the laundry, and I don’t want the batting to bunch up.

With right side up, fold one short end in toward the middle by 2 inches.  Bring the other short end over so it’s 1/4″ from the fold and pin or clip to hold.

Sew up the sides, using a generous 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Trim close to the stitching, then turn right side out.  Poke out the corners carefully, then press well with the iron to flatten.  Top-stitch 1/4 inch from each side to hide the raw edges.

To use:  Wash and dry baking potatoes.  No need to poke holes in them.  Wrap in a dry paper towel and insert into the bag.  Microwave for the correct length of time according to your oven.

I use a piece of clean cotton muslin instead of the paper towel to save garbage.

This bag is large enough for corn, too.

Here’s a PDF of the instructions, as well as a page with 4 sets of cooking instructions.   If you don’t want to print them, only print page 1.

baked potato bag







Sew a Decorative Cover for your Toilet Seat

I made a few of these toilet seat covers a few years ago, when I needed a project for “Christmas Club”, a monthly class that we offered, back in the day of my store ownership.

It was a simple as tracing the toilet seat, adding seam allowance, decorate with applique, then attach elastic all around the outside.

I’ve put together a few short videos outlining the process, and here’s how to make your pattern.

After your pattern is made, you’ll add seam allowance and cut out your fabric.

Press 1/4 inch to the wrong side along the straight edge that was at the back of the seat, then to the sewing machine. 

Applique or decorate at this point.  I used a few snowflakes that I cut with my Go-cutter to jazz up the one in the picture, and appliqued Rudolph onto the one I used for a class sample.  Or leave it plain.

Select a zig zag stitch, (I like the triple zig zag).

In the video I sewed the 1/4 inch hem down by using this stitch, but in retrospect, I’d use a straight stitch instead.  Begin by sewing up the little hem with a straight stitch, then switching to the triple zig zag to attach the elastic to the wrong side of the cover.   Stretch the elastic, then sew it down with the zig zag stitch.  In the video I only attach elastic to the curved part, but in real life, continue all the way around.  I used a narrow clear swimwear elastic, because it washes well.

And the finished product;

I’m not a huge fan of watching videos myself, so I’ve kept these short.  What do you think of my first attempt?

Let’s Sew a Mug Tote

A Mug Tote! 

What a great idea!  How great is this idea?

  • I love to sew
  • It’s fun and easy to sew
  • It uses scraps
  • It makes a great gift
  • It protects my mug when I take it somewhere
  • It makes a great blog post

Many thanks to my friend Joyce; she brought one to Sewing Social in Trenton last week and a lot of us got excited to sew one.  I offered to write a pattern, and here’s the result.

Here’s the supply list in case you want to get started, BUT, I’m not going to post the instructions here until December 13th.  If you’re a subscriber, you’ll receive a notice by email, if you’re not a subscriber, you can do so by filling in your email addy at the top left of this page.

Outer layer, 1 piece 10 inches x 14 1/2 inches and a 5 inch circle for the bottom.

1 piece of batting or fusible fleece 14 inches x 6 1/2 inches.

For lining, 1 piece 10 inches x 14 1/2 inches and a 5 inch circle for the bottom.

25 inches of narrow ribbon for the tie.

2 strips of 1/4 inch wide paper backed fusible web 14 1/2 inches long. 

One 4 1/2 inch diameter sour cream container lid

Matching sewing thread.

And here are the instructions, happy stitching!

Free Pattern for Mug Tote

21 Sewing Terms Every Beginner Should Know

Sewing by machine is a skill that takes practice and a basic knowledge of “Sewing Terms”.  I used to teach a class aimed at new sewing machine owners, and my goal was to incorporate as many sewing terms into that class as possible. 

The class was offered  free with the purchase of a sewing machine at the store where I worked. 

Armed with the knowledge of knowing how to use the sewing machine just purchased along with some basic knowledge of skills and terms, most of our new sewing machine owners were well on their way to a fun and satisfying  hobby.

One of the blogs I love to read is “Colette”, the Publishers of
Colette Patterns and Seamwork Magazine, and the latest blog post was none other than “21 Sewing Terms Every Beginner Should Know“.

Written by Katie Whittle, here’s a little bit about her:

Katie teaches new skills through in-depth tutorials, sewalongs, and articles for Seamwork Magazine and The Colette Blog. She’s all about encouraging sewers to try new techniques and create a personalized wardrobe that makes them feel great!

Check out her great article, then come back here and let me know what you think of it, and happy sewing! 

Nowadays you’ll find me sharing this kind of knowledge at our local library “Sewing Social in Trenton”.

Easy Fabric Wallet with Pockets

This idea has been growing  in my brain for a while now, and finally it bore fruit.  I’m not the sort of gal that carries a purse with me, but I do need my essentials; small note-book, cash, and cards.fabric wallet with pockets

fabric wallet with pockets

fabric wallet with pockets

I designed it with 3 pockets inside and a snap closure to keep it closed.




Here’s how:

Cut a piece of pattern paper 5 1/2 inches wide by 20 inches long.  Fold it in half longways and use a small plate, bowl or container to trace a curve for the top.  Trace, cut through both layers,

then unfold.


With a ruler, mark both edges, measuring from the straight edge: 6.25 inches, 9 inches, 12 inches, 15 inches, and 18 inches.

At the 18 inch, just mark the edges.  At 15 inches, draw a line and call it “A”.  At 12 inches, draw a line and call it “B”.  At 9 inches, draw a line and call it “C”.  At the 6.25 draw a line and call it “D”.


Pin the paper to your lining, or inner fabric, cut out and transfer all the lines and marks to the right side of the fabric.

With wrong sides of fabric together, fold at lines “D” and “B” then press in a crease.  With the right side of the fabric up, bring the “D” fold up to meet the “B” fold, but just 1/4 inch below it.  Then bring both folds up to meet the mark at 18″.  The lines at “C” and “A” will fold to the inside.  Press well and pin to hold all layers together.

folded lining

This folded piece is the pattern for the outer fabric and the fusible fleece.  


Pin the right side of the pocket piece to the right side of the outer fabric and cut out.  Do the same for the fusible fleece.  Fuse the fleece to the wrong side of the outer fabric, (please use your imagination and pretend that you see it.)


Sew both layers together with 1/4 inch seam allowance, starting and stopping on the straight end, about an inch and a half from the corner to leave an opening for turning. 

Watch that it all lays flat, oops.oopsClip the corners and along the curves.  The curves are easily done with pinking shears.  Before turning, fold and press both the lining and the outer fabric seam allowance toward the wrong side of each fabric along the seam line.  Turn to the right side out, poking out the corners to make them sharp, and press well.

Stitching close to the edge of the fabric, sew across the entire straight edge, which will close the opening.  I sewed with the outer fabric up. 

note; if your fabric colours are different for the lining and the outer fabric, you might need to change your bobbin colour from here on in.

finished bottom

Fold the bottom up toward the top, it should just barely cover the top edge of the pockets.  Pin and sew the sides, forming the wallet.

finished wallet with pockets

Add snaps to keep it closed.  I used plastic snaps, positioning the outer one about 1/2 inch above the edge of the fabric, then putting the inner one on last.

I’m a real fan of these plastic snaps, they attach easily, are very secure, are machine wash and dryable, and come in loads of colours.  I used to buy them locally, but now get them from, here’s a link for more information.

After making the one shown above, I had another brain wave, to add a small strap with a couple of snaps to attach my keys, or to attach the wallet to a belt loop.

fabric wallet with pockets and loop

Here’s how I went about it.  I cut a piece of fabric 2 inches by 6 inches.  Press the short ends in by 1/4 inch, then press in half with wrong sides together, longways.

strap in half longways

Open the strap out and press each raw edge to the inner fold.  Refold in the middle and press well.

strap pressed

Edge-stitch 1/8 from the edge.

edge stitched strap

Fold in half and press well.  Position the strap on the outer wallet piece, so it lays just above the pocket, having the fold even with the outer edge of the fabric.img_4268

Pin the folded lining fabric on top and proceed to sew and finish as the above wallet.  I put a snap on each strap end so I could attach it to something.fabric wallet with pockets and loop

These are a great scrap-buster and I’m going to make plenty more of them.  The link below will open a one-page PDF that’s printable.  Have fun!




Hexagon Thread Catcher


pinterest-hexagon-thread-catcherSaturday Morning Techniques was a class I taught monthly for more than 10 years.  Always held on the last Saturday of the month, at 8 am (before the store opened) and it was free to anyone who wanted to get up to be there.  

There was always a sewing technique or project involved, kits were prepared ahead of time, and if you brought back last month’s kit, completed, you got the current month’s  free.  We laughingly called it “Sewing Survivor”.

Well, it was time to move on……but sometimes I miss it.  The challenge of coming up with a project, often at the last minute, when a “thunderbolt” came out of the sky and hit me with the idea.  Really.  Ask my oldest daughter.  She saw it happen more than once.

Anyway, the thunderbolts still happen.  Often.  Still.

So these days we sew at the library in Trenton, on Tuesday afternoons.  Lovely room; large tables, good light, and carpet on the floor.  At the end of our Sewing Social afternoon, we set the room back up the way it was and pick the threads up off the floor

Thunderbolt!  Sure, we could bring little garbage bags, but…….THREAD CATCHERS!  And, because the most popular download here on is the “Quilt-as-you-go-Hexagon-Hot-Pad, it became a hexagon shape.

Hexagon Thread Catcher


  • 1 piece for background 8 inches square
  • 1 piece of fusible fleece 7 ¼ inches square
  • 1 piece of quilt batting 7 ¼ inches square
  • 6 pieces for the border 2 ½” x 4 ½, can all be the same fabric or use scraps, folded with wrong sides together to 1 ¼ x 4 ½” and pressed.


First trace patterns, (click) thread-catcher-pattern, one piece following the outer black line of the hexagon (A), and a separate one following the red outline (B).  Also trace 1 of the small border piece.(C)

  • Cut one background piece using pattern piece (A)
  • Cut one piece of fusible fleece using pattern piece (B)
  • Cut one piece of quilt batting using pattern piece (B)
  • Cut 6 pieces on the fold for border using (C)image-of-hexie-thread-catcher-pattern


  • Fuse the fleece to the wrong side of the background, centering it, set aside.img_4138
  • Open out the border pieces, and with ¼” seam allowance, sew with right sides together along the inverted “V’s”, pivoting at the inner point.sewing inner point
  • Join them all to form a ring.border pieces joined
  • Refold the ring with wrong sides together, flipping the seam allowances in opposite directions and pin to hold. Press lightly.border pieces joined folded and pinned
  • Pin the border to the right side of the background piece, matching seams of the border to the points of the background, then sew all the way around using ¼” seam allowance.adding the border
  • Trim off the “dog-ears”, turn to the right side, and press lightly.trimmed
  • Stuff the quilt batting in under the border and there you have it, a thread catcher.

hexagon thread catcher


I tuck one edge under the right front edge of my sewing machine to hold it in place.hexagon thread catcher in use

Do you like this?  Would you like to make one?  I’ve put the pattern and all the directions on a one-page PDF for your printing convenience, hexie-thread-catcher

Needle Knowledge for your Sewing Machine

How do you Know Which Sewing Machine Needle is Right for the Job?


I learned to use a sewing machine more than 50 years ago.  OMG!

Way back then there were 2 types of sewing machine needles.  Regular and Ball-point.  The regular needles were available in sizes 10 (thin), 12, 14 (the size I used the most)  and 16 (the thickest).  I don’t recall the sizes of the ball-points, because I didn’t use them often.

Well, things have changed a bit.  New fibers, new fabrics, new threads and new functions, including machine quilting and also all those decorative stitches that come on sewing machines these days.

It can get confusing.

What to Know When Choosing a Sewing Machine Needle

It’s all that’s between your sewing machine and your fabric, and choosing the incorrect needle can easily ruin your project.

There are still 2 basic types of machine needles: Universal and Ball Point , and then many other types for special uses.

There are many brands of needles to choose from, too, but my favorites are Schmetz, the most common needle in the world; available in most sewing  centers and Inspira, made for my Husqvarna/Viking sewing machine.

Sizing Info

There are 2 sizing numbers on the package, the American, which is usually first, and the metric. 

  • Size 8/60 is very fine, ideal for lingerie and fine silk
  • Size 10/70 is suitable for light fabrics, silk and taffeta
  • Size 12/80 is suitable for medium fabrics, cotton, linen and satin, and the most popular for today’s sewing needs
  • Size 11/75 is a common size for ball-points and is ideal for light to medium weight knits.
  • Size 14/90 is suitable for medium to heavy fabrics
  • Size 16/100 is suitable for heavy fabrics, denim, tweeds, curtain and upholstery fabrics

Keep in mind though, that if your needle is too thick to easily penetrate the fabric, your machine motor will have to work harder.  Imagine hemming a silk blouse with a darning needle.

The Parts of a Sewing Machine Needle


Universal Point Needles
Universal needles are the all-purpose needle for sewing wovens. The point is slightly rounded and the needle is tapered so that it slips through the weave of woven fabrics. Universal needles typically come with all sewing machines. They come in many different sizes with the 12/80  being the most popular.

Ball Point Needles
Ball point needles are made especially for sewing on knits. Its rounded point is designed to slide between the yarns of knit fabrics without snagging. They come in size 11/75 and 14/90. Choose the size that will handle the thread being used when sewing on knits.

Specialty Needles

Microtex Needles
These feature a very sharp point.  Needles are for use with tightly woven fabrics sometimes known as “Micro-fibers”.  They have a very slim sharp point that creates beautiful top-stitching and perfectly straight stitches for quilt piecing. These needles come in sizes from  size 8 to the heaviest size 18.  If you’re planning on using a thick, decorative thread, be sure to choose a large sized needle.

Jeans Needle
A jeans needle has a special point designed to penetrate  extra thick fabrics and a reinforced shank to reduce breakage and skipped stitches. It is made for heavy duty stitching and is suitable for denim and similar fabrics.  Beware of using a needle too thick for the job.  I’ve used a 12/80 to 14/90 successfully in all my jeans making. 

Metallic Needle
The Metallic needle has an elongated eye to reduced the shredding and breaking of metallic threads.  Again, be sure to select the appropriate size.

Embroidery Needle

An Embroidery needle is ideal for using fragile, decorative threads.  They have a bit of a ball point, a wide eye and groove which prevents friction so you can sew with rayon, polyester and other embroidery threads trouble free.

Quilting Needle
Needles designed for machine quilting have a specific taper to the slightly rounded point to allow easy fabric penetration with no skipped stitches.

Top stitch Needle
The Top stitch needle had an extra long eye and a sharp point, making it the perfect needle for sewing perfectly straight lines with decorative threads.   Use your “Straight-Stitch Throat Plate” for perfect results.

Leather Needle
A Leather needle had a wedge shaped sharp point, like a chisel so that it can cut through leather and vinyls without making large holes.

Other Specialty Needles

Twin Needle
A twin needle is actually two needles mounted on one shaft used to create two rows of stitches simultaneously. It uses two spools of thread and one bobbin thread. The bobbin thread zig-zags back and forth between the needle stitches on the underside.  The package will show two numbers. One is the needle size; the other is the distance between the two needles. This distance varies from 2.0 mm to 6.0 mm. These are available in ball-point for knits as well.  Be sure to check that they fit into your throat plate. 

A Few Other Things
  • A sewing machine needle has a life span of 5 to 8 hours.  If in doubt, change your needle.
  • Sergers or overlock machines, embroidery or other specialty machines may use different needles. Check your manual.
  • For the most part all sewing machines needles work in all sewing machines. But there are a few brands that need specific needles.

click here for the Schmetz Sewing Machine Needle Guide

I’d love to hear if this article helped you.  I get many emails asking me to troubleshoot a sewing problem, and often the culprit is the needle.  click here for a printable PDF of  needle-knowledge