Sewing 101: Cleaning Your Machine

My sewing machine wasn’t exhibiting any performance issues, but I did notice a tiny bit of lint peeking up through the feed dog plate. Usually, where there’s smoke, there’s fire!

There’s more to cleaning then just brushing out the bobbin case so I normally remove the feed dog plate with a handy-dandy piece of US currency. Even the squattiest screwdrivers sometimes can’t do the trick. 🙂

One of my favorite cleaning tools is an old makeup brush that came as a freebie in a Loreal makeup kit. A little wiping with the brush found some dust bunnies right off the bat.

Look at ALL that dust and loose threads that were hiding in there! WOW!

A great way to clean the feed dogs is to use an old fashioned pipe cleaner.

I have a happy, happy clean bobbin case housing!

To put the bobbin case back in, be sure to align the little arrow on the bobbin case with a dot or other marker on the housing. I circled the dot on the bobbin case to match with the marker on the housing. If you do this and you’re not sure, take a photo with your phone before pulling anything out.

When was the last time you cleaned your machine? Hmmm? There’s no time better than the present!

Holiday Meadow Placemats

While we were at the coast this weekend, I was digging around in my sewing stash for one thing or another and came across a wallhanging panel called Holiday Meadow.

Then along with that wall hanging panel I found another matching panel for coordinating placemats. I didn’t take a before pic, but you get the idea.

The placemat panel also had bundled with it four fat quarters for backings and I looked at it and thought, “Now where did these come from?” 🙃 Honestly, I had no idea. So rather than let them languish another season, I decided to put them together.

Placemats are very easy and perfect for a quick project. You simply layer batting, backing face up, and top face down. To keep the edges nice and clean, I drew a stitching line in pencil just inside the colored border.

I did a single 45 degree stitch at each corner to give the fabric somewhere to go. This is a trick I learned when making shirt collar points.

I left the opening 7″ wide as instructed on the pattern. I trimmed leaving a 1/4″ edge outside of the stitch line except at the opening which I left at 1/2″. Not pictured: I clipped the corners.

Closing the opening is easier if you iron the folded edge before turning rightside out. Here it is after turning.

I used the inside edge of the presser foot as a guide for stitching around the outer edge.

Then I marked lines with an air-erasable marker for simple straight line stitching 2″ apart to quilt the placemats.

I love how they turned out!

I’m going to look around on the internet to find coordinating fabric to make up the wall hanging.

Now is the time to whip up an easy project for the holidays! What’s under your needle?

2019 Greater San Antonio Quilt Guild Show

Hi everyone! I went to a local quilt show last weekend. Had a great time and made a video of my trip. The video is about an hour so grab a coffee, sit back, and enjoy! Thanks to Janet Miller, the show’s Chair, for showing me around and making me (and my subscribers!) feel so welcome!

Fabulous Instant Pot Beef Stew

Did you just get home from work and don’t have a clue of what to fix for dinner? Well prepare to earn the hero status you deserve! Even better, there’s only like 4…count them FOUR dishes to wash! A cutting board, a knife, the pot, and a wooden spoon. 🙂

The veggies were what I had on hand and the mushrooms were about to turn “science project” so I used them up. This recipe is perfect for whatever is in your veggie drawer.

– 1-2 fresh medium onions, diced into 1″ pieces
– 1 package of pre-cooked/pre-seasoned beef fajitas
– Veggie drawer surprise! (bag of baby carrots, diced celery, mushrooms, etc…whatever. Canned mushrooms will work too.)
– 5 or 6 red potatoes, diced into 1″ pieces
– 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
– 1.5 cups beef broth (use water & bullion if you don’t have any canned broth. You DO need liquid in the pot.)
– 1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix (None on hand? Make your own!)
– 1 Tbs Worsteshire sauce
– 1 Tbs onion powder
– Any other seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, heat, etc.)
– 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

Spray your pot with non-stick cooking spray. Put your Instant Pot on Sauté and add 2 Tbs of olive oil. When hot, add the diced onions and stir occasionally. After a couple of minutes, add the fajitas and stir every minute or so. After the onions are beginning to release their yummy flavor, add everything else into the pot except the soup. Stir well to mix. Close the lid, set the valve to Sealing, and set the timer for 12 minutes. When it’s finished, let the pot naturally release for 5 minutes and then release the pressure. Open the pot and add the soup. Stir until all the soup bits are dissolved. Viola! Bask in your glory! Do yourself a favor and freeze a batch!

Do you have a quick & easy recipe for an Instant Pot dinner? I’m all ears!

Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

Today is September 1, 2019 and it is the day a winner was chosen from the latest giveaway on my video!

There were a total of 469 comments! It is so wonderful to see so many of you intrested in our craft! Warms the heart 😊

The prize is a 5″x10″ Jolly Bar fabric pre-cut, a Jolly Bar pattern book, and a 5″x10″ half-hexi ruler from MSQC!

I used a random number generator for my phone. I told it I needed a number between 1 and 469 and it chose #83!

I counted top level comments up from the bottom of the comment string and Peggy Perry, you have won!

Congratulations Peggy! Please email your mailing address to me at

For those that didnt win, cheer up! There will be more giveaways in the future.😁

A Zipper Pouch for Yo-Yo Makers

Grandma always said, “Everything has a place; everything in its place.” (I try to live by that…I really do.)  I bought these yo-yo makers to use in the Ocean Frolic Quilt pattern that I got on a shop hop last summer. 

After I got home from my Kimberbell embroidery event on Saturday I was digging around in my stash for another thing (can’t recall what now) and came across theses yo-yo makers orphaned in a drawer, all loose and rolling around, and the instructions were buried under some fabric in a back corner of the drawer. Well, we can’t have that! I need to keep them with the instructions so I know how to use them when the time comes.

I dug around and found some happy fabric from Riley Blake called Bake Sale 2. It was in a mystery bundle I received from Missouri star months ago. I cut 4 pieces of fabric 10″ x 12″ and used a 14″ zipper.

I chose an equally happy 1″ font called Blue Kids on Scooters. I embroidered this with lightweight tear away sticky stabilizer.

I put Pellon Shape Flex 101 on the lining pieces. Then I sewed the inner and outer pieces to a bright yellow zipper. I stitched each piece to the right/left and front/back of the zipper.

I used the toe of the machine foot as a guide for top stitching.

Don’t forget the MOST important step! Open that zipper before stitching all the sides closed!

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are to lineup all 4 pieces exactly the same, they seem to be off on the edges.

No matter. I just drew a line inside the shortest piece of each edge as my stitching line.

Because this is a utility bag I didn’t get all worked up about hiding the inside seams. Instead I cut them with a pinking rotary cutter blade. That makes fast work of finishing off the inside seams.

I love how this turned out! Now I just need to figure out where to put it!

Finding Time for Stitching

This week has been a busy one! My day job has had me working a conference all week, day in and day out, arriving before sunrise and leaving for home after dinner. We had about 150 people come to San Antonio to discuss new processes for migrating Air Force data to the cloud. Very exciting!

I stayed away from the pastry table!

Needless to say, after the drive home, my brain was not ready to shut down yet.

Being away from the sewing machine all week was stressful in itself for this girl. Monday night my darkened sewing room seemed so sad and desolate without the bright lights and the hum of a machine going in the background. So on the 2nd day of the conference, when I got home, I just needed to do something… anything, to satisfy the need to create and sew. I didn’t want anything too intensive so I dug out a simple Villa Rosa Designs pattern that called for four patches made from 5″ blocks. Hello Phoebe!

It said that 40 different prints from a package of 10″ squares could be used. I didn’t want to waste half of a layer cake so I went in search of a Jolly Bar that I thought would be perfect for this project. I know I had a couple of them around somewhere in my recently re-organized sewing room. I chose Bonnie and Camille’s “The Good Life”. So happy and fun! Of course I didn’t take a picture of it before I cut it but here is an image of the layer cake.

Jolly Bars are the brain child of Kim Jolly from the Fat Quarter Shop and are distributed by Moda. They are 5″ x 10″ rectangles, (half of a layer cake) and were perfect for this project. In less than 10 minutes the entire Jolly Bar was cut in half, sorted, stacked and ready to go.

I just needed to get some fabric under a presser foot. This was so beneficial to me. It helped me to refocus my mind, calm my thoughts, and yet feel a sense of accomplishment at the same time. For me, this accomplished what sitting mindlessly in front of a TV could never do.

In less than an hour, I had the main four patch squares of this quilt completed.

I still needed two yards of fabric for sashing and borders so on the 3rd day of the conference I snuck away to the quilt store during lunch. I chose a soft gray with light circles of dots for the sashing/borders and a red print for the binding. I have auditioned it here below. For the backing I found 4 yards of the dark gray print in the image below on Etsy for $4 a yard. Score!!

These Villa Rosa patterns are wonderful in their simplicity and yield a gorgeous result. The sashing was done by the end of day 3. I couldn’t do this pattern match again if I tried. Can you believe this was happenstance?

Borders were done and on at the end of day four. Yay! I’ll say it again… Hello Phoebe!

It feels so good to sew something from my stash and also feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment at the end of a very busy week.😊