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Always on the go

Since I don’t get to do much stitching at home, I like to take my projects with me.

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I’m not going to spend a bundle on specialty travel totes & stuff, especially if I have something that will work. I get a decent stash of computer bags when I go to computer conferences out of town. I have a king-size quilt top in this one. Notice the gold colored wrap on the handle. That is a scrap piece of fabric from this project, so I know exactly what is in it without looking. I have more than one of these bags, so that makes it easy to spot what I want. I can pack a lot of stuff in one of these bags.

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The little pink box was made to be a storage box for computer disks. It works great for keeping all the little stuff together.

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How do you carry your goodies when you travel?

Lap protectors

Lap protectors

Mom has some health issues, so spends a lot of time in her chair or in bed. I wanted to find a way to make meals & snacks a little easier for her. After seeing some quilted placemats, I thought about this idea. They are quick & easy, yet protect Mom’s lap & bed from food mishaps & from plates that might be a little too warm.

I just got 3/4 yard of bright fabric, some batting that is similar in thickness to felt. & some wide double fold bias tape. I doubled the batting thickness & sandwiched it between the fabric as it was folded from the bolt. I stitched a grid across the fabric at about 2″, then stitched the bias tape around it.

This type of project would be great for testing quilt patterns or techniques, or just for gifts for people who are not as mobile as they would like to be.

What kinds of gifts do you make for family or friends?

My first quilt

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Mom taught me to quilt using a preprinted quilt top. The frame was 4 1X2’s & c-clamps sitting on the backs of kitchen chairs.

I would love to hear about how you learned your favorite hobbies.

Traditional vs non-traditional tools

I always like to hear ways of doing things that make life easier, especially if it means using something for a purpose it wasn’t made for. 

Recently, I opened a brand new box of straight pins.  They wouldn’t go through the fabric very well & I was about to toss them in the trash.  I noticed they felt like they had a coating of candle wax on them, but not a visible coating.  I wiped one off with a nylon scrubber & it started going through the fabric as it should have.  There was no way my hands would allow me to manually clean  a whole box of pins, so I had to come up with another plan.  I spotted a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, & tried it as a pincushion.  Worked like a charm.  That got me to thinking  about other things that weren’t made for the sewing room. 

No sewing room is complete without a few tools.  Have to have a few screwdrivers to clean & maintain the sewing machine.  Never know when will want to hang something on the wall, or put together a new set of shelves, so might need a hammer.  Magnets used by mechanics are nice for picking up dropped pins & needles, just don’t get them too close to the computerized sewing machines.  Back scratchers can also  be used for retrieving things that find their way under cabinets or machines.

Oh yeah, don’t forget storage.  Embroidery floss on those little cards fit perfectly in a tackle box.  So do a lot of small sewing machine parts.  Peg boards are great for hanging rulers & rotary cutters.  My fabric, that isn’t  precut, is folded onto comic board cards (sold to keep magazines from getting damaged on display or in shipping) & will be placed on shelves later, similar to the bolts of fabric in a store.

I’m sure I haven’t listed everything that migrated from our kitchen to my sewing area.  What about you?  What do you have in your sewing / craft area that is used for something besides it’s “normal” use?

Pilot Frixion pens

Fairly recently, I heard about ink pens that can be used for marking on fabric, but the marks are removed by ironing.  I thought they sounded like handy tools, so I ordered some & gave them a shot.  They are made by Pilot, so I knew they should be high quality.  I was happy to know I can get them at office supply stores, so if you don’t have a quilt shop that carries them, you may still be able to get them fairly locally.  Here is a link to their website.  http://www.pilotpen.us/ProductGroup/28-FriXionBall.aspx

I haven’t been this excited about a fabric marker since someone came out with the ones that disappear with air.  The pens work as described.  I’ve seen comments that they can leave a faded looking line on some fabrics, but the comments were specifically for the red pens.  I haven’t run across the issue yet, but will update if I do.  One of my concerns was that it’s easier to do all marks on a quilt piece at once.  Problem is, if you mark everything, then iron each seam as you go, lines can be lost.  From what I’m hearing, that isn’t a problem after all.  Just put the fabric in the freezer for about half an hour & the lines come back.  Now, I’m really a happy camper.  I’ll need to have a basket or something to put the pieces in for the freezer so the fabric doesn’t touch a food item.  I’d hate to have something get on the fabric & stain it.  I’ll have to give the pens a thorough test to see how the heat & freeze pans out.  Supposedly, after ironing the article, washing it keeps the lines from coming back in the future.  That’s what I want to test to be sure.  I would hate to use the pens to mark quilting lines & have them come back to haunt me.  I was taught to use chalk to mark lines & some of those never seem to go away.

The only thing I would like to see improve is the amount of use from a pen.  The one I used seemed to run out fairly quickly, but it could be that this quilt has so many pieces that I used more ink than I realized.  They do cost a little more than a standard pen, but I figure with time, they will be more comparable.  I wouldn’t really call them expensive, especially since they are a specialty type pen.  I do think they should work longer for the price, though. 

If these continue to work as I think they will, I’ll have to invest in the highlighters of the same nature to mark cross stitch patterns on the canvas.  If you try these pens, I would love to hear how you like them, & how you use them. 

Happy stitchin’.