California Pillow

California Pillow
California Pillow

I finally made the pillow I intended to make from the panel Mrs. K sent me.

I feel like such a slacker. This panel has been hanging around since …. I don’t know…. months? I do keep sewing, so I can’t be that much of a slacker, right?

We do not have to raise money this year at Grand Parlor, so I made this pillow for one of our friends who does not get support from his Parlor to attend Grand Parlor. He is running for Grand 3rd VP and needs all the help he can get.

California Pillow back
California Pillow back

Yes, I pulled out some Pointillist Palette fabric, after being inspired by my SIL. I can’t hoard it. I have to get the 4th Pointillist Palette quilt done and use this great fabric. Since I had it out to use for Kelly’s Color My Quilt piece, I decided this pillow would work as another effort at using it.

The back is pretty plain, but I do like that blue. I wish I had written down what it was (usually I write the brand and color on the selvedge) as I could look for more. I didn’t so, it will be a mystery.

New Pincushion – Wonderclip Holder

Can a person ever have too many pincushions? This is the thought running through my mind as I decided what else to make for my second group of gifts.

Mary's Pincushion/Wonderclip caddy
Mary’s Pincushion/Wonderclip caddy

You might remember the Pincushion / Wonderclip Holders I made for the guild officers. I really like this pattern and decided to make another one to go with my gift grouping.

It is a useful item and I have a lot of Beanie Baby pellets to work through. It is a quick project, which is an added incentive to include it in the gift grouping.

Mary's Pincushion/Wonderclip caddy - back
Mary’s Pincushion/Wonderclip caddy – back

I decided to continue with the selvedge back. It is interesting to look at and I have a surplus of selvedges.

New Gift Grouping – in Process

I am still not done making gifts with the two stacks of fat quarters I received at the BAM retreat last Fall. As an aside, these small gifts are keeping me slightly ahead of the negative mark in my fabric purchases vs usage. No finished quilts this year yet, so I am still feeling behind. No huge buying binges, so at least I am not in the negative.


I am still making gifts. I took the opportunity to make the two bags I liked from the Make It, Take It book I received for Christmas. One was the The Big Patchwork Tote and one was the Little Patchwork Tote (pattern starts on page 32 for both).

I started with the Little Patchwork Tote. When I hear the word ‘tote’, I think of a bag in which you can carry a bunch of stuff. That is not the case with the Little Patchwork Tote. It is basically purse sized. I should have known, based on the sizes, but I couldn’t put it all together in my head. I wanted something I could put a number of gifts in. I can put a few in this tote, but decided I would make the Big Patchwork Tote as well.

The Big Patchwork Tote is the size a tote should be. Whatever that means. 😉 It is the size in which one can put a number of necessary items. Using the directions in the pattern makes it pretty stiff, which I like. I will probably make this tote again. It might make good officer gifts and is conducive to using large-ish scraps.

Gifts in Big Patchwork Tote -in process
Gifts in Big Patchwork Tote -in process

The Little Patchwork Tote fits easily in the Big Patchwork Tote along with Tooly McToolston. I am working on a pincushion/Wonderclip holder and a couple of other items.

Tooly McToolston

Tooly Easel Stand
Tooly Easel Stand

OK. This pattern is not called Tooly McToolston. That is, however, the way I think about it for some reason.

Mary's Gifts
Mary’s Gifts

I am still working on various gifts. This latest item in the group is part of the group I posted a week or so ago.

I like the idea of this easel because it would make my tools available quickly when I was at a retreat or workshop or generally away from my workroom.

This is a gift, but the issue for me is that I already have a box for my tools when they are in transit. The other thing is my box doesn’t make the tools available right away. I have to dig around to get at them. I don’t know. I am on the fence. I like the idea. Clearly I am not linking this change.

Good thing it isn’t for me, because it makes a great gift. I didn’t have much trouble making it. There was one part I didn’t get, but It wasn’t problematic enough to affect the outcome of the overall pattern.

Tooly McToolston in process
Tooly McToolston in process

I found it was really important to label all the pieces. The pocket pieces are very similar, so labeling them helped me keep them in order. You can see the green Post-it notes in the photo above.

Tooly Closed
Tooly Closed

I think this might be a great gift to make for people. I already have the pattern. I already have the a big piece of mat board left. It doesn’t take very long and is useful.

In terms of my new gift grouping, I am not sure if I will put this in another One Hour Basket or if I will make something else. I do like the Big and Little Patchwork Totes from the Make It, Take It book.

Tooly Tool Easel pattern by Sew Together products. $5 No affiliation.

Gift Grouping

Group of Gifts in One Hour Basket
Group of Gifts in One Hour Basket

I gave a group of gifts, as described in a recent post, to my friend Mary who is making a dress for me.

This is the first time I have followed my advice and given a group of gifts. I have made all of the items before; just never given them away as a group. I wouldn’t have recommended it to you if I didn’t think it would be a good idea. However I had to test it and I am pleased with how it came out.

Wrapped Gift Group
Wrapped Gift Group

The One Hour Basket, which is the carrier, though I did wrap the whole thing, contains a journal cover (with journal), a pencil roll, on the go tissue cover, needle safe, pincushion, lanyard and scissor sheath. I think the mix of items is good, though I could have put a little tissue paper underneath to fill up the One Hour Basket some more.

I wanted the whole set to match, so I used pieces from two FQ bundles I received at the BAM Retreat. I have much more to use, so I can make more items, if I can think of what to make.

Mary's Journal Cover
Mary’s Journal Cover

As you know I normally make journal covers using mosaic piecing. Mosaic piecing is good for using up scraps and for leaders and enders. Since I was using a constrained color palette, I used two fabrics and didn’t piece the front or inside cover. In order to make it less boring, I did embellish the cover with some buttons.

I used buttons TFQ bought for me at Road to California in 2012 and some colored thread. The embellishing is simple and I don’t think I have ever embellished a journal cover before, but I think it worked really well on this piece. Mary said that she could use it for committee work since the Miquelrius journals have sections with different colored page edges. I am thrilled.

Mary's Pencil Roll
Mary’s Pencil Roll

As mentioned, I love the Pink Chalk pencil roll pattern. I am so sorry it is no longer available as I have made a number of them and it is a great gift. Try to find a used copy on Etsy or somewhere. It is well worth the hunt. Since I have the pattern I used it to make a 12 slot pencil roll for Mary. I always put a pen in so that people know its intended use. It is a good size for crochet hooks as well, though YMMV on those. I haven’t tried it.

Mary's Pencil Roll back
Mary’s Pencil Roll back

This piece was GREAT for using up many of the different patterns in the fabric line (above photo). You can see all the different choices. I did use the turquoise more than once just to add some contrast. For the back I used a coordinating print from a different line. I wanted to mix the group up a bit so it didn’t get too monochromatic. There is a baby poop brown print in that line that I am sure would look fantastic, but I couldn’t bring myself to use it.

Mary's Pencil Roll closed
Mary’s Pencil Roll closed

Yet. I am thinking about what else I can make for Mary and it might come into play, but most likely not. I have plenty of other fabrics.

Mary's Tissue Cover
Mary’s Tissue Cover

The tissue cover seriously takes less than half an hour to make. I used the video mentioned in the Updated Gift Ideas post and it is so easy. I should have used a better contrasting fabric for the lining, but the fabric work well together. I don’t use one, personally, but I should. I am now out of travel packets of Kleenex which means I’ll have to get more. It is much nicer to put one in, as with the pens in the pencil roll, so people know what you have made. It prevents confusion.

Mary's Needle Safe
Mary’s Needle Safe

I have a couple of needle safes that I use for various projects. This one has three parts: pincushion, needle holder and a section with a pocket where one can store a small needle threader, a pack of needles or one of those rubber circles used to pull the needle through thick fabric. The pattern for this project asks that the maker use fabric for the needle storage. I have always used felt. Wool felt is pretty good because the lanolin helps keep needles sharp. I don’t always have wool felt in the right colors, so I use what I have an cut it with a decorative blade.

Mary's Pincushion
Mary’s Pincushion

The pincushion is just fun to make, for me. I love this Fig Tree pattern, because it looks like my ideal of a pincushion. I need to make a few more of these so I can get the contrast right. The colors and motifs on the fabric I used blend quite a bit. It is a nice effect, but I want to experiment with more contrast.  I often have a hard time finding the right buttons. Yes, of course, I could buy buttons, but I prefer to use some from my button box. I found the perfect buttons this time. I love the see-through aspect and the color.

I am pretty happy with the filling. I use a combination of  Craft (Beanie Baby) pellets and wool roving. The pellets give the pincushion some weight and the wool roving feels nice.

Mary's Lanyard & Scissor Sheath
Mary’s Lanyard & Scissor Sheath

I was pretty happy with the items above. I decided at the last minute to add a lanyard and a scissor sheath. Why not? I was shocked that I couldn’t understand my own lanyard tutorial. I am sure the instructions made sense to me at the time. I had to rewrite them, so I did that as I went along. My machine was unhappy going through all the layers of lanyard as I finished it, so I had to be careful. Both are done and I think they add something to the whole gift basket.

None of these projects take very much time. I did multiple items in one day. Over the course of approximately 3 days, I was able to make everything including the handwork. Try out a similar project. You have a friend that would adore it.

Skeleton Cuff Pillowcase

Skeleton Cuff Fabric
Skeleton Cuff Fabric

While plowing through fabric a week or so ago, I found a leftover piece of skeleton fabric with a note on it that said “pillowcase cuff”. Since I was preparing to send the YM a care package I sewed up a new pillowcase for him. I haven’t been making him one a month like I was last year. If I get inspired, I make one.

I used some stripes as the body since I also found them while I was plowing through that same pile of fabric. I figured I had enough stripes for binding and one more black and white length of yardage wouldn’t be missed.

DH asked me why I was sending the YM a Halloween pillowcase in February. Sigh.

Gift Pillowcases

Some time ago (last fall??) Mom and I did a circuit of her local quilt shops. I bought some huge dots with the intention of making pillowcases. Finally, last week, I had got some inspiration.

Erin's Pillowcases
Erin’s Pillowcases

My niece will be getting married in April and her shower was this past weekend. In concert with two of her other aunts, we hosted a shower for our niece. I bought her a gift off her list, but had no suitable gift bags that were large enough in which to wrap it. DH tried out all the non-Christmas gift bags we have and none were large enough. He suggested a pillowcase. What a brilliant man!

Later, while plowing through some fabric, I found the pillowcase fabric I bought with mom. As happens with inspiration, I realized I could use this fabric to make two pillowcases and wrap the gift.

As I have said, the cuff is the pain for me, because I hack into fabrics as soon as they are washed for all the hunting and gathering pieces I need. I found some perfect green for my niece – Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets. It isn’t a perfect match to the green in the dot fabric, but I think it works.

My niece liked them, especially the dots and that makes me happy.

Updated Gift Ideas

In 2015, I created a list of gift ideas. As mentioned at that time, I like the idea of giving and making sets of gifts: choosing a fabric and then making a number of items from that fabric. Since then there are lots of new patterns and ideas. I came across a few other items that I thought would make great additions to my list and be useful as well. I decided to update this list and get the ideas out to you again.

The point is not to use the patterns I use, but to make the gifts in whatever pattern YOU like. This is a gift idea.

You might be wondering why I am talking about this in January when you just finished with the holidays. Simply, you will need time to make everything without getting stressed out.

Pincushion – Fig Tree Quilts Petit Gateau pincushion pattern. I like this pattern, because the pattern makes sense, is not difficult and looks like a pincushion. I have made several and they go together very quickly. I use wool roving and some of the Beanie Baby plastic pellets to fill it. I buy both at Beverly’s when they are on sale and keep a supply on hand. The pellets give the pincushion some weight. I don’t use walnut shells, because so many people are allergic to nuts. The only issue I ever have with this pattern is to find an appropriate button to put on top and bottom. Often I make these and don’t think ahead and then find myself wanting to finish, but have no appropriate buttons. Of course, there are plenty of pincushion patterns out there and you should use your favorite.

Needle case – many people don’t do handwork and so this is an inappropriate gift, but it is so cute! Regardless, I find that a bit of hand sewing is needed at various times. I found the pattern in the Spring 2013 issue of Modern Patchwork. It was designed by Rashida Coleman-Hale of IHeartLinen. I wasn’t able to find a pattern for it on her blog or the web. The pattern is in RCH’s book, Zakka Style, according to Frances Newcombe from Belly Buttons Boutique. You may be able to find I copy of that magazine on Etsy or eBay. I am sure there are other needlecase patterns out there.

Tissue case – This isn’t something that I would really use, though that might change. It is a nice stocking stuffer or small hostess gift. I got the idea to make them from Valerie over at Evening in the Garden blog. I made a few, which you can see in December gift posts. I used the YouTube tutorial that Valerie used. I found that these make great boutique or Secret Santa Shop items since they are very quick to make.

Lanyard – these are great for guild meetings, but also for hanging scissor sheaths, keys, pens, etc. Think of a chatelaine’s key ring.

Scissor Sheath – as mentioned above, a scissor sheath can be added to the gift pile and adding a ribbon or fabric hanging loop on it enables the owner to hang it from a lanyard.

Project bag – Jeni Baker Drawstring bag (pattern to purchase). The pattern has multiple sizes. This is good to keep project supplies together. She also has a tutorial for one size – Example

Tote bag – There are lots of different tote bags that I have made. I really like the Jane Market Tote (pattern to purchase). I also like the Eco Market Tote from Favorite things (pattern to purchase). I made a version of that bag with Heart fabric and it is still a great pattern. I have another one in mind. Including a tote bag in your gift selection is a nice way to package all the gifts. Choose any pattern that you like.

One Hour Basket – An alternative to a tote bag, especially for a group of small gifts is the One Hour Basket. This is a free pattern by Hearts and Bees which you can download from Craftsy. She has a new pattern with different sizes as well.

Journal/Sketchbook Cover – you can adjust the pattern to accommodate a number of sizes of journals. This pattern, as you have seen many times on this blog, is for a 6.5in x 8in Miquelrius journal.

Pencil roll – I love the pattern by Pink Chalk, but it is no longer available. If you can find it somewhere, such as Etsy, buy it and keep it safe. It is useful and fun even if you are not pen hog like I am. I have made, perhaps, a dozen of them and I want everyone to love them. I always put a few pens in to give people an idea of how to use them. I reported on one of my pencil roll posts that this project took me about 3 hours to make. (updated 1-26-2017)

An Alternative to the pencil roll is a tool holder. I haven’t actually made one of these yet, but I do like the pattern. I like the idea of having my most used items all in one place and viewable to so I don’t have to dig for them.

You could also add a Sidekick from Jinny Beyer’s store. It is good for handwork and I could have used it on my trip this past weekend. I have the pattern, but haven’t made it yet.

You can also think up themes and find patterns that fit the theme. For example:

  • Kitchen: apron, potholders, kitchen towels, casserole carrier, roll basket
  • Bath: makeup bag (zipper pouch), towels, tissue cover, stiff holder for TP and such

Get sewing!

Pincushion Gifts

Pincushion Clip gifts
Pincushion Clip gifts

I wasn’t be at the guild meeting yesterday, which made me sad. Kelly, of the Kelly bag fame, pinch hit for me with the officer gift bags. Thanks, Kelly.

Many guilds give their officers quilts as thank you gifts. I am of the mind that we all have enough quilts, but a tote bag (simple or complicated) full of lovely small gifts is great for everyone. Since I organize it, that is what we do. When someone else takes over they can do something else.

Pincushion Wonderclip Holder
Pincushion Wonderclip Holder

I cut the pieces on that last Sew Day then worked on my gifts the day after. The cutting is always the worst for me. There wasn’t much so I can’t complain. The sewing went remarkably quickly – so quickly in fact that I felt like making half a dozen more.

As I mentioned the fabrics were all scraps except for the back (5″ square). I made fabric by sewing selvedges together. I am tempted to do that again, but will try to resist saving another thing. The other fabrics are heavily from the Kaffe Collective, especially my man Phil (Philip Jacobs) and Martha Negley. I know these fabrics aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I hope the officers like them.

Pincushion gift pre-stuffing
Pincushion gift pre-stuffing

The pattern says to line up the clip holders evenly, but I only did that for one. I thought the uneven rows would add interest, but I am not sure now.

I used some of my Beanie Baby beans and some stuffing leftover from Red and Coral. I hope it is good enough for its purpose.

The flaps you see are to hold Wonderclips (see photos above). My Wonderclips are holding the hole closed until I could sew it together. I plan to put a couple of clips and some pins in each one to show their purpose.

Finally, I sent them to Kelly so she could put them into the bags for me. I found the pattern in Love of Patchwork and Quilting magazine, It was a quick and satisfying project. I was able to make four of them in about an hour minus sewing the stuffing hole closed.

I think this will be on my list of small gifts to give to people for whom I want to make a quilty gift.

Christmas Quilt Gifts

Christmas Gifts 2016
Christmas Gifts 2016

We celebrate Christmas, in case you hadn’t noticed. I received a few quilt related gifts, which was very nice.

I am excited about the Make It, Take It book, because I want to make that tote on the front. It reminds me of a tote that Angela made, which I also like.

The Hack that Tote book will also come in handy, because I can’t seem to stop changing bag patterns I made.

Chatelaine Scissors from Rhonda
Chatelaine Scissors from Rhonda

I am particularly pleased with the scissors and lanyard Rhonda gave me. I needed an extra pair of scissors for my Craft Night kit and these are perfect.

Chatelaine Scissors with Sheath from Rhonda
Chatelaine Scissors with Sheath from Rhonda

The best part is that my Scissor Sheath pattern fits perfectly on these scissors. I need the Sheath so I don’t stab myself when wearing the lanyard. I plan to add other things to the carabiner as I come across useful items.

California Shirt detail

California Shirt
California Shirt

The other day I talked about the shirt I made for DH for Christmas.

I  decided I wanted to talk a little more about the details. The motifs lend themselves to fussy cutting and where I could I tried to use that technique to make the shirt more special.

It didn’t always work out. I cut out the collar with the state capital beautifully centered and realized that it would come out upside down. Oh well.

California Shirt n.3 detail
California Shirt n.3 detail

I did succeed on the pocket. I wanted to make the pocket larger since he has a larger cell phone nowtLarger pockets can be floopy so I lined the pocket with ShapeFlex to give it some bulk and make it stronger. Pockets aren’t that large so I was able to find a scrap that worked really well. The flag will draw some attention from the Native Sons.

I have successfully made buttonholes I like at TFQ’s house on her Bernina. I have never figured out how to use the buttonhole foot on my Janome 9000. I did get a lesson on the DC5100 and I knew it wasn’t difficult. I hauled that little machine over to SIL’s (the YM came over and carried it home for me when we finished) and used it to make the buttonholes.

I took a prepared scrap over and did a couple of test runs. The test buttonholes came out beautifully, so I decided to go for it on the shirt.

California Shirt button closure
California Shirt button closure

Failure. I got and error message, the start of a buttonhole, then a straight stitch going in the wrong direction. 🙁 SIL said that she needed to make a project with 100 buttonholes in order to feel confident. Very true, for many things, I think.

I eventually made the machine work by turning it off and on again between each buttonhole. It was a pain and I had to reset the settings each time, but I got all of the buttonholes done.

The buttons came out of a jar that TFQ bought for me at Road to California. I really like them and think they fit the look of the shirt very well.

The photo directly above has a great shot of one of the missions on the fabric design.

The Gifts That Could Have Been

When I went into 2016, I had a list of gifts I wanted to make. As I have mentioned, there was a good portion of the year where I felt uninspired. Many gifts were not made.

As I took out the card holder I made for us a few years ago, I thought about what a great gift that was and how hard it is to make something that good again. The siblings and cousins are getting fudge, nothing sewn.

I wanted to make a couple of tote bags and pincushions as one-offs for people. I also had the idea to make a couple of Sew Together Bags. There is still a possibility, but not for Christmas 2016.

I need to be more organized next year, starting with finding a pattern that has a lot of bang for my buck, eg interesting and usable, but doesn’t take 40 hours to make. I have a week or two before I have to be serious about finding such a project.

Gift Post #1: California Shirt (n.3)

PSA: If you aren’t already sewing for #BDSI, get to it. I am on my way to contribute my tweets and grams!

California Shirt
California Shirt

I am not sure why I do this to myself. Garment sewing is hard. Fortunately, my SIL lives around the corner and she held my hand throughout the process. I worked on this only at her house until Friday when I pressed it and wrapped it.

I know why I made this shirt, actually. It was all about the fabric. This was a particularly nice print of California fabrics and I just had to make DH a shirt.

The motifs really depict California rather than being some kind of idealized version of California. I was pleased with the fabric design, because of the missions, which are a big part of the state’s history. Yosemite is depicted and the food trucks are a hilarious addition.

He finds the tablecloth shirt I made too short, so I wanted to get it right. That is the kind of person I am. Have you seen how many Petrillo bags I have made?

California Shirt back
California Shirt back

We made the whole shirt 3″ longer than the pattern said. yes, I learned to alter a pattern which involves actually dealing with the pattern, rather than just adding a few inches here and there.

I think that next time, if there is a next time, I will make the inside seams French seams. I know I shouldn’t worry about raw edges, but I do. I am not even sure if French seams on a shirt are possible. I am sure they are, but may be ill advised for some reason.

I started well in time to get it done timely, but really finished it last Thursday. I made the buttonholes using my little machine and sewed on the buttons. After that all I had to do was press and wrap.


Julie’s Gift

Julie's Birthday Gifts
Julie’s Birthday Gifts

Don’t you love this photo? We went out to lunch for Julie’s birthday and I took this in the restaurant.

Friend Julie‘s birthday is December 1 and generally it sneaks up on me, but this year I was prepared! I got a jump on it. In the frenzy of fabric pressing before Thanksgiving, I found some fabric I had bought to make napkins. I picked out some purples to go on the back and started some napkins. I also decided that Julie needed a One Hour Basket, so I made one of those as well.

I bought her some books and things as well, but I do like to make things for people who appreciate them. Also, I feel like I am sewing in place, so a couple of finishes was great.

Reducing the Toll

Formerly cuffs, now gift bags
Formerly cuffs, now gift bags

I constantly try to find ways to reduce the huge environmental toll from holiday-related purchases. I have harped about this for years. One way is using gift bags. The fabric may not be terribly environmentally friendly to make in factories in Korea, but once the fabric is here and made into gift bags, they can be used them over and over. Fabric gift bags reduce the amount of paper we use during the holidays.

I practice what I preach and see so many advantages for using gift bags. The biggest negative is actually having to make them before you can use them. I have made gift bags to fit certain gifts in the middle of wrapping. They don’t take much time, can be as complicated as you like and are customizable. The biggest bonus is you get to see your holiday favorite fabrics over and over without actually having to make a holiday quilt.

Lush Gift Bag
Lush Gift Bag

Here is the tutorial using French seams to prevent raveling.


  • Machine in good working order
  • fabric (any kind of fabric to fit your holiday works well)
  • thread
  • ribbon
  • basic sewing supplies

I press a double hem* on one side of a relevant size piece of fabric** and finish it with a decorative stitch. As a bonus, this is a good way to get to know the resources, e.g. time and thread, required to use your decorative stitches.

Once done, I fold the piece in half, wrong sides together, aligning the hem at the top. I put a piece of ribbon, folded in half, inside the piece. The fold of the ribbon will be sticking of the side a little bit and is placed about a quarter of the way down the side.

I sew down the side, starting with the hem. I sew less than a quarter inch from the side. I reinforce the start, the the ribbon and the end by backstitching over it a few times. Then I turn the bag wrong side out.

Trim any stray threads along your tiny seam allowance.


Once pressed, I sew again using a larger seam allowance to cover the raw edges. Make sure the ribbon closure stays out of the way. This completely encloses the raw edge.

Turn the bag right side out and press again. Your bag is ready to use.

I love using gift bags for gifts. Besides the fact that I am terrible at wrapping gifts with paper, I intensely dislike wrapping gifts with paper, tape and ribbon. The fabric feels so much nicer in my hands. If a tag falls off the gift you can easily open it, look in and re-tie. No harm done to a beautiful wrapping job.

*Note: I often use the selvedge instead of hemming to speed up the process.

**Note on fabric sizes: I make the most basic gift bags with a fat quarter, but also use half yards and yards, depending on the size needed. I have also pieced fabric together to wrap larger and smaller gifts, but generally like to use standard sizes and then put the gift into whatever bag size works. Leftover fabric from making pillowcases are good to use as well.