Material Possessions

I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy to the owners and staff of Material Possessions in Lake Forest, Ca. I have just learned that they have closed their doors. While I do not know exactly when this sad situation happened, or exactly why, my heart goes out to Material Possessions. You will be missed by many and I am truly sad to learn that Material Possessions has closed their doors.

I tried to contact Material Possessions, to be able to report back facts vs rumors. Unfortunately, it does appear that their phone is now disconnected and their website appears to be closing down.

Material Possessions was an exceptional quilt store that was very popular in Southern California. They had a large selection of fabrics, had a great patterns & book collection, offered a large variety of classes, and a very friendly staff. I fear that Sew-Economics have taken away another dear friend. While everyone knows our WW economic situation is not good, I’ve been hopeful that our quilting, embroidery, and sewing community could try hard to reach into our pockets and continue to buy things at our local stores, to help keep them in business.

My recommendation, is in lieu of flowers, go out and make a purchase at your local quilting, embroidery, sewing, fabric store. These difficult times require action on our part to help keep the doors to our favorite stores in business. While I hope that Material Possessions will re-open their doors someday, I also hope that no more of these wonderful stores close their doors in the future.

I hope our sew-economics can endure the WW economic situation, and we do not lose any more of the stores we need to support our interest in quilting, embroidery and/or sewing.

Sadly, no more birthday celebrations at Material Possessions!

Note: These photos were taken the last time I visited Material Possessions, with their approval. I will forever remember Material Possessions and am happy I have a few photos for sharing memories with you. But if anyone has a more factual update on Material Possessions, I’d appreciate if you would send me an email.

Travel Case, by P3 Designs

Pearl P. Pereira is a delightful quilt teacher and excellent pattern designer. She is also well known through her business name “P3 Designs”. She provides entertaining lectures for quilt guilds, teaches at workshops, retreats, and quilt cruises. She is also going to be teaching at the upcoming Long Beach International Quilt Show this July. And, she’ll be at the Houston Quilt Market this fall. I’ll write more about Pearl, in the near future, as I want to share with you what I’ve been up to with one of her patterns.

I just made a couple of what I consider “tool cases”, with her “Travel Case” pattern. This pattern was very easy to work with and the project goes together very quickly.

I used scrap fabrics, that I could quickly put my hands on, but you could use your favorite fabrics, or even leftover quilt blocks.

This travel case is great for carrying quilt and sewing items. I use mine to carry a a small cutting mat, small rulers, my rotary cutters, small scissors, and my seam ripper.

I can’t wait to make more, and I want to place a machine embroidery design on some for gifts. Wouldn’t a monogram or cute design look great? Even a name would be good. And these would make perfect hostess gifts for a sew-cial, birthday gifts, or even a Christmas gift.

I definitely recommend this pattern, and Pearl has created some wonderful designs that can be found on her website. I can’t wait to make more projects with Pearl’s creative designs.

Kennel Comforters

Kennel Comforters is a project that was started by a wonderful lady with a fantastic vision, Joan Laisney. She realized that pets living in animal shelters would have a better chance of getting adopted if they had a good night sleep on a cozy bed. Makes perfect sense to me. And when I see a dog or cat in a shelter that doesn’t have a cozy bed vs one that does, I see in their eyes and in their disposition how much happier the ones are that get to sleep on a cozy bed. These beds also give them an area of comfort, in what can be a stressful place, even when they are not sleeping.

Joan gets help from various volunteers who help to sew pet beds, donate fabric or batting (material to stuff beds), thread and various other supplies. And non-sewers even come to help cut fabric or stuff pet beds! She hosts various sew-cials to make pet beds, but also appreciates when volunteers coordinate a sew-cial on their own to make pet beds. Clubs, such as Girl Scouts and various quilting guilds, have also been very helpful in making pet beds for Kennel Comforters to distribute.

To date, 2,200+ pet beds have been donated in San Diego County. Some pets bond with their beds, while living in the shelter, and when they are adopted they go home with “their” pet bed. While this is a lot of pet beds, sadly, more animals need comfy beds and more volunteers are needed to help!

This volunteer project is something that would work in any city. Joan has great insight on how to make such a project successful in your city and has posted insights on her site (

On Saturday, June 13th there is a sew-cial scheduled at the San Diego County Animal Shelter on Gaines Street (5500 Gaines Street) from 10am to 4pm. Volunteers are needed to help make pet beds. If you can come help, please bring your sewing machine, scissors, and thread. Joan will have the major supplies to make beds. And if you don’t sew, come help to stuff pet beds. I’m going to be there sewing! And more volunteers are needed at the June 26th & 27th sew-cial in Carlsbad, at the North County Animal shelter.

If you want more information about Kennel Comforters, future Kennel Comforters sew-cials,ways you can help, or how you can start a Kennel Comforters in your hometown, check out Joan’s site:

Kennel Comforters could also use some donations of the following items to help make more pet beds:
– batting/stuffing
– fleece, flannel, heavy fabrics
– scissors, rotary cutters & cutting mats
– sergers & sewing machines

Safety Tip

This safety tip may be something that you think is quite obvious, but remember when you are in a workshop and sharing tools, it may be easy to overlook the obvious….and place someone and/or a tool at risk.

I was recently in a workshop where I observed a large spark off to the side of me. It was almost like fireworks. Instantly I realized there was an electrical problem, but I wasn’t certain what had happened. All the sewing machines had been shutoff, during an unexpected power surge….but what happened?

One of my classmates (easily could have been me) was sharing a cutting mat, with rotary cutter, that was also very close to a portable iron and ironing pad. As fabric had accidently been laid over the electrical cord to the iron, someone cutting fabric accidently cut the electrical cord. And sparks went flying.

We were fortunate. No one was hurt. No machines were hurt. But the cord to the iron was definitely deemed unsafe for future use, and the blade to the rotary cutter has a burnt chip that deems it unusable. Yes, we were all fortunate.

Lesson learned: Watch out for yourself and others, especially when sharing tools in close working areas. Be sure to keep power cords visible and away from cutting tools.

Price shopping tool for books

I recently came across a site that I found quite helpful for shopping for books and wanted to share. This book search and competitive pricing feature can be quite helpful. It allowed me to quickly look up a book to find the author (whom I wanted to research), plus it provides price information on various stores that sell it.

Meet Micki Butler

Has anyone besides me read any of the Nora Roberts books that focus on romance in Ireland? When I met Micki Butler, I couldn’t help but think that she is a real life character from one of Nora Roberts’ books. But then Nora Roberts doesn’t have any character, that I recall, that likes to quilt, machine embroider, or sew. Hymm, maybe we need to send a note to Nora Roberts to encourage her to expand her collection of characters to include those that love to quilt, machine embroidery and sew!

While I didn’t travel a great distance, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling via the internet and meeting someone special. This journey has given me the opportunity to meet wonderful person, whom I want to share insights with you. And yes, she does have a romantic story to tell, plus the love of quilting, machine embroidery, as well as many other interests and stories to tell. It was thru this blog that I had the pleasure of meeting Micki Butler, and whereby, I want to introduce to you. Micki shares similar interests with many of us, as she is also interested in quilting and machine embroidery. What is also so interesting, is that she has lived in Southern California (El Cajon), but now lives in Ireland. Yes, she met and married an Irish Lad and is now happily living in a lovely Irish village.

Micki is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University as an English teacher. She later obtained two Master’s Degrees, and taught English from 1972 until she married Joe in 1997. It was when she married Joe that she ended up moving to Ireland.

When Micki shared photos of where she lives in Ireland, this is what made me think of the various books where Nora Roberts set the stage for many of her romance novels. Hymm…..did Micki and Joe give Nora Roberts the inspiration to write those Irish romance novels?

Micki shared insight that the village she lives in, a lovely place called Dunfanaghy, is a “drop dead gorgeous” village near Killahoey Beach. This beach is in Dunfanaghy, County Donegal, which is a lovely seacoast village in NW Donegal. Nearby is headland called Horn Head, which you can drive around, or enjoy a lovely 12 mile walk around. {The entire area is a perfect setting for a Nora Roberts’ romance novel}.

Micki has been sewing since she was a little girl. Her mother was a seamstress and both of her parents owned a fabric shop. But she didn’t start quilting until about 10 years ago, and she started doing machine embroidery about 5 years ago. For quilting, she enjoys traditional and art quilting. And for machine embroidery, she enjoys applying it for her quilting projects, clothing and home decor. She particularly enjoys lace, cutwork, redwork and working with various quilting and floral designs.

For learning how to quilt, Micki credits Eleanor Burn’s “Quilt In A Day” books, as well as books by Alex Anderson. And, with her background in sewing, she views it helped her “self taught” approach to learning to quilt.

For learning machine embroidery, Micki feels that many books by Sulky have been very helpful to her learning the art of machine embroidery. She is also pursuing learning to create her own designs using Embird Studio software.

Here are some photos that Micki has shared of her beautiful projects.

This lovely blue lacy doily {above} Micki created in several sections, using Vilene and then she combined the sections by machine.

This beautiful yellow doily {above} was created similar to the blue doily. To me, this doily just radiates sunshine & cheerfulness!

This is one of the bags that Micki monogrammed {above}.

This beautiful quilt is called Carnivale {above} and it is all paper pieced. It is a pattern made by Deb Karasik.

This is a geisha quilt {above} that Micki made that is all machine embroidered. Micki always uses Madeira Premium Stabilizers and Madeira thread.

This one is a quilt that I did called the Sylvia Bridal Sampler {above}, and it took me four months to do it. I worked on it every day, and it was quite an accomplishment finishing it.

This is a paper pieced wall hanging called Harvest Moon {above}.

This is a fairy wallhanging {above} that Micki did by hand applique. It is from a pattern by Reva Roark Stewart.

While I know I’ve met a talented and thoughtful woman when I met Micki Butler, I still like to think of Micki and Joe living that romantic life in Ireland. So, I send my request to Joe….go snuggle with Micki in one of Micki’s beautiful quilts and whisper words of love and appreciation to Micki, as I think your two hearts are tied together in such romantic love and friendship that it will become an Irish legend (or be written in a romantic book, possibly by Nora Roberts).

Greeting Cards

I love sending and receiving greeting cards. And, while I love handmade things, I don’t have the talent (or time) to make a handmade greeting card. But I’ve come up with something that I enjoy, and I find others enjoy too. And, a collection of these cards make a wonderful gift!

I like to take photos of some of my projects, and especially photos of beautiful quilts, and turn them into greeting cards. Where I live I can take in my camera’s photo memory card, USB stick, or a a CD, with my photos to printing kiosks that are located in many Wal-Marts, Longs, Walgreens, Costco, or other stores. And, I also enjoy using on-line printing services, such as I’ve found all these service providers do a great job and will help you create a special greeting card that will delight the recipient!

Here are a few samples of my favorite greeting cards with beautiful quilts on the cover.

If you haven’t tried making your own greeting card before, I hope you’ll take a photo of one of your projects and make a greeting card. And, if you don’t have anyone to send a card to….remember I love receiving greeting cards!

Sewline Fabric Marking Pencils

I use fabric markers for quilting, embroidery and my sewing projects. Each project has a different degree of expectations for a marking pencil, but my preference is to have one marking pencil that will meet all my needs.

I like to have a fine tip marker, that doesn’t break, yet is able to easily mark straight or curvy lines. And, it MUST come out easily. I’m not one to want to sit there and use an eraser, for a large area, so I prefer something that will come out with a light spray of water, or light turn through the washer.

When I first saw the SewLine Fabric Marking Pencils I thought “they invented this for me”. These pencils are absolutely beautiful, with a fine point, and the marking lead comes in five colors at a reasonable price. This pencil has a special ceramic lead where the manufacturers promote the ease of which you can remove markings, by using a built-in eraser, or simply dabbing with some water or washing. Sounds like the perfect marking tool, but is it?

For any new marking tool that I use, I always put it thru a rigid test. I will mark a piece of fabric with ten different straight lines,but different levels of marking. The first line is only marked 1 time, the next line 2 times, and each subsequent line is marked an incremental time through the 10th line which is marked 10 times. I realize that while you may not ever need to mark your fabric so many times, there are situations where you may need to (in small areas). I will also do a few curves, to see how freely the marking device will travel on fabric. Afterwards, I will handwash. If this doesn’t work, I will run the test swatches through the washing machine. Lastly, I will tape the fabric swatch to a sunny window and leave it hanging for ~six months. This last step is a test to see if there is any residual chemical on the fabric that may react to sunlight.

I believe that everyone should always test the marking pencils they buy themselves, as everyone has a different level of applying pressure when they mark. And we use different fabrics. But I wanted to let you know what I found through my test.

Ultimately, I like the Sewline Fabric Marking Pencils and all of their 5 colors. But I do believe that some of their colors will work better on certain projects, and may not apply to all areas one may want to use a marking pencil. Keep in mind that the manufacturer cautions that you should lightly mark your material, and also encourages you to test as the results can vary with different fabrics. The manufacturer also provides recommendations for which color to use on which shade of fabric. But I view that careful selection of the color of Sewline Fabric Marking Pencils should also be made with consideration of the project. Those that wash out easily could be used on anything, but obviously the colors that do not wash out easily should only be used on a project that it would not be a problem if the marking pencil does not wash out (e.g. inside of a sewn garment).

I found the red & green colors were the easiest to get out of the fabric, with the grey being the most difficult. I found the built in eraser to work ok for a very light marking, that was small, but not a good removable solution for this marker if you were marking a large area and needed to remove it, or lighten it up to remark. Thus, I recommend this marker but want to emphasize that you should test it before you mark your fabric. Especially if there is a risk that where you are marking, on your fabric, could be visible on your finished product, if it doesn’t wash out.

Here is some additional insights on the test I performed on a variety of fabrics and colors:

1) I marked ten straight lines, for each of the 5 colors. The first line was marked one time, next line marked twice…..and last line marked ten times (heavily marked)

2) I used the eraser on the Sewline Marking pencil to try to erase a lightly marked curve. While it did remove the marking, it was a difficult and time consuming process.

3) I hand washed my test fabrics and observed that the red had completely been removed, the green had been removed on the light markings (but not the heavy markings), and while the other colors were still very visible the grey was the most visible (on all of the ten markings and curves).

4) I proceeded with my test by running the fabric swatches through my washing machine. To clarify, my ideal fabric marker would not require me to have to do this secondary washing step (one or the other should be sufficient). While some of the markings had more removed, the grey was still visible on all markings.

I have not yet completed the step where I tape my test fabric to a window with bright sunlight. This is a great test, for those using marking tools on fabrics that will be used in quilting, as over time, quilts may actually be exposed to more sunlight than we realize. And sunlight can often react with any chemical residual that a fabric marking pencil may leave on the fabric. Thus, I’ll provide another update in six months to show my results this phase of testing.

Conclusion: Sewline Fabric Marking Pencils is a great marker, especially for those in need of a fine point marker. But use caution on marking your projects, by ensuring you have completed a test swatch first. Remember to “mark lightly” (do not apply much pressure). And using the green or pink lead may be the easiest for you to wash out, but the other colors also work well for many marking situations, but due use caution and pre-test, if you need to be sure these leads will completely disappear after you finish your project and wash it.

Preparing for a workshop – what to take?

What is the item that we most frequently forget to bring when we go to a class, workshop, retreat or sew-cial? I’m probably the most forgetful sewer that I know. Tomorrow I’m taking a class and I have my car packed with what feels like everything in my sewing room. Still, I worry about what I may have forgotten to pack. It is only a 1 day class and it is inside of a quilt store (where I could buy just about anything in I could think of).

As the rooms are frequently air conditioned, I decided to pack a light jacket. I thought you might like to see it, as I did make it. Would you believe this was a cheap sweatshirt? I get more compliments when I wear this sweatshirt.

I’m planning on writing an article about the instructor who teaches classes in how to make these jackets, along with sharing more insight on how to make your own (if you can’t take a class). In the meantime, if you are wondering what to take to your next class, workshop, or retreat….remember to pack a lightweight jacket! And if you have a tailored sweatshirt jacket, you’ll be very comfy too!

Back of a Quilt

For a quilt that I made for my husband, I did an applique silhouette of his boat for the “back” of his quilt. I think my husband loves the back of this quilt more than the front.
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