That’s what pincushions were called in the Middle Ages. “pimpilowes,” “pyn pillows,”  “pin-poppets”, what ever you want to call yours, all sewists need a pincushion. Such a practical item in the sewing room. If you look on Pinterest there are so many interesting versions. I fear I might feel like I am practicing some kind of voo-doo if I was to use some of the human looking shapes ! Did you know that back in Victorian times placing a tomato on the mantel of a new home ensured prosperity by warding off evil spirits? When tomatoes were out of season, people simply improvised with red material, sawdust, and a little bit of ingenuity. That’s how the tomato shaped pincushion came about.

Anyways, I’ve been making little pincushions by paper piecing a square-in-square block. I found a wonderful tutorial here that includes several different sized templates you can download. I used the 4″ finished template.




I had read somewhere that if you fill them with crushed walnut shells they will keep your pins sharp as it is used. Finding the crushed walnut shells took some doing but I tracked them down at a pet store about 50 miles from here. They only carry 20 pound bags so I’ve got a lot of pincushions to make ! The crushed walnut shells are very similar to sand. I suppose I could also use it to fill simple little bags for children’s games or they might even work for hand/neck  warmers. I’ll have to stick one in the microwave and see if it works. Great way to use up scraps and leftover fabric.



Oh well, they are a relatively fast and satisfying make !

Please leave a comment, it’s up by the date at the beginning of the post.

I’d be interested to hear if you have made any pincushions and would love a link to any pictures if you have them.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a good weekend.

I’ll be linking up with Finish it up Friday.


Paper Piecing Practice

TGIF everyone !
Well, after baring my quilting soul last post, I’ll keep this one short…
I bought  Amy Friend’s ‘Snowflake’ FPP pattern on Craftsy and gave it a whirl.


It is certainly my most complicated FPP finish to date.
I managed to get it put together alright but I think that I would have liked more room on the longest vertical spike to put in a bit more background fabric. Also – a quick “how to” on putting together the angled pieces would have been helpful, that’s really the only trouble I had. The pattern is a beginner level and it does clearly state that there are no directions given. The download includes 3 sizes. I made the 9″. I was thinking that I might put a border around the block and make a pillow out of it but then realized the green was all wrong for my living room. Oh well, one can never have too many hot pads !


The snowmen peaking out make me smile.


Here’s the back – nothing too exciting here but I do like sewing the little loop into the binding.

One last little project – a coaster from the Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine. I figured out why I like christmas fabric so much: I can buy it on sale at the “local” fabric shop and use it for sewing up ideas or trial projects. Most of the colours co-ordinate well and I’m not cutting into my precious fabric collections.


This went together very easily and has a super cool trick for that fussy looking binding. The coaster project was by Ali of veryberryhandmade. Sorry I don’t recall which issue but I could look it up.

I’m so impressed by the smart women out there !

I’ll be linking up with Amanda for Finish it up Friday.

Thanks for stopping by.

I’d love it if you left a comment – up at the left by the date.

Sowing Seeds

It all started innocently enough. I had spotted an interesting block of the month in issue 11 of Love Patchwork and Quiting magazine. The instructions included a paper template for making small hst’s.

You sew on the red lines and cut on the blue. The idea is that it is much faster than piecing hst’s. I don’t really know if it is faster. I’m pretty slow at everything.


This is what my “Migration” block looked like.


Below you can see I added a border, mostly because I really like that print and wanted to show more of it. I think it was 17.5″ square at this point and I want to add more to it. But what ?


Meanwhile, outside the sewing room, this book I had ordered came in from the library:


Opening the book I was immediately feeling inspired and creative while looking at the visually exciting quilts pictured within.  The quilts included in the book are from the authors ( Roderick Kiracofe) personal collection and are certainly unexpected as is in the title. I didn’t feel that they are that ‘unconventional’, as many of them are recognizable patterns. I can’t say that I love all of the quilts but so many of them quite literally get my heart racing. They are the kind of quilts I want to make and I feel that there is a language here that I am unable to speak.. yet. If you have been to my blog before you will know that I haven’t been quilting very long. I have bought a few fabric collections with the intent of finding patterns and keeping the collections together in the same quilt – maybe adding a few prints and solids. I’m not so sure anymore – my quilting life has been tipped over on it’s side by this book. I look at my fabrics and it is like standing in front of my full clothes closet declaring that I have nothing to wear ! I have all these exciting quilty thoughts and don’t know where to go with them.

The book is not just pretty pictures; it has essays written by some people I have heard of  – Denyse Schmidt and Kaffe Fasset for example, and others I have not. The essays share keen personal insights and opinions and loads of information regarding quilting history and the craft movement in general.

Here are just a couple of pages from the book:



I laughed out loud when I saw this one:


I don’t know how the images in this book are going to change how I make quilts. It is certainly a different aesthetic to what I have been looking at and thinking about so far. I feel as though I want to go down a different path but don’t know how to change directions. I am still interested in traditional techniques and feel as though I have a lot of skill building to do but I love the spontaneity and depth in the quilts in this book – they are authentic, original, one of a kind, full of the makers personality.

Maybe I will take the words of Denyse Schmidt from her essay found in this book as my mantra for 2015:

“Taking inspiration from the quilts in this book we are reminded to take chances, to experiment, to be open to the opportunities inherent in mistakes, to close our ears to critics and shun expectations, to be true to our own intuition and to trust our gut instincts.”

The seed has been planted – how it will grow is yet to be determined.

100_2611 - Version 2

Oh, and back to the WIP – the fabric on the far right is just hanging there, auditioning.  I am thinking of another border or maybe a round of blocks ?? Who knows, I have to go stare at it some more, read some more, have a conversation with my gut instincts –  best wishes.

Please comment, I’d really love to hear what you have to say about all this. The comment thingie is up at the top of this post on the left by the date.

Thanks for stopping by.

I’ll be linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

Strings for my daughter

Happy New Year everyone !
I’m looking forward to a wonderful year ahead in 2015 and I wish you all the best for the new year as well.

This isn’t a recent finish but I’d like to show you the lap sized quilt and “matching” pillows I gave my oldest daughter at Christmas.


The blocks were made in a string style of construction with a white strip placed first and the sides being added with alternating strips. Keeping the center strip aways the same will give you the lattice look. I had started with a fat quarter bundle of Amy Butler’s Lark fabric and made the pillows first. As I was making the blocks for the quilt I started becoming anxious about running out of fabric. Hence the addition of the yellow fabric. I think I was able to distribute it about the blocks well enough but of course my eye goes to it everytime and I wonder if it was a good decision.


The backing was just some yardage from the fabric store and the dots are more Amy Butler.


These are the first pillows I have ever made and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. Not so happy about the color in this picture though !

The backing fabric is dark blue – not grey !

Oh well.

The envelope style of enclosure would have been easier but I like the zipper closure better for actually using the pillow.






My daughter was quite happy with the gifts and they now reside on her couch in her apartment in “the big city “.

I’ll be linking up with Amanda for her Finish it up Friday