Tangled Threads of Thought

Threads of thoughts to enrich your day – or maybe bring you a smile.

Be forewarned, though, our threads of  thought are sometimes tangled.

summer quilters

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Tutorial Tuesday: Log Cabin

Tutorial Tuesdays header

Quick Quiz Question: How far back in history do we find the Log Cabin design?

  1. 1860’s – designed to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.
  2. 1600’s – designed during colonial days by Dutch settlers.
  3. 1976 – designed in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial of the USA.
  4. It has been found in drawings of ancient civilizations.


“Hmmm – It makes me think of Abe Lincoln so probably 1860s.”

If you’re trying to win the big prize jackpot you probably will want do some research or Phone a Friend before you make that your final answer.

SPOILER ALERT: Here’s the answer …

The log cabin design has been found in drawings in ancient Egypt! I’m fairly sure they didn’t call it Log Cabin, though.

Egyptian log cabin


We at Sisters at Heart haven’t usually associated Log Cabin with Egyptian design at all. At least until recently when my friend Marilyn Stephani did a presentation on the Log Cabin block for the Pensacola Quilt Guild. I learned a lot

courthouse steps

(Did you know that Courthouse Steps is technically in the Log Cabin category?)

and came away with some new ideas for using this very old design. Like this basket made from two log cabin blocks.



Marilyn’s presentation included Power Point. We are including it here – Log Cabin Power Point – with her permission, so that you can share it with your club or guild.


Log Cabin is one of those great blocks that looks harder than it is.

The block starts with a center square, referred to as the hearth (that is why traditionally it’s red-for the fire in the hearth.) Although some people make the center yellow and call it “light in the window.” OR,  you can make it brown and call it mud on the windows. (I just made that up.) Okay, I can hear the Colorado sister telling me to get back to the main thing…

 from all about quiltsAfter choosing the center square, you then stitch strips around the center square, each strip long enough to cover the previous two pieces.


Checking for accuracy often is a really good idea because after several seams a little inaccuracy adds up to a big” catty whampus” (That’s a technical term for mess.) Or, you can use the foundation paper piecing method for exact stitching every time.

Log Cabin is one of those great blocks that is SO versatile. If you make an asymmetrical Log Cabin you have even more setting options – some of which will produce a round or wavy design.

 off centered quilting with Roxanne

Or you can change it up a little and make it into a rose. That’s what we have done in our latest use of this ancient idea – and we put it on a picnic basket lid. If you’ve never done Log Cabin and you aren’t sure it you want to get into a whole quilt, you might think about doing the basket lid as a starter project.

 MM Picnic Basket Lid

The beauty of this design idea is that it can be adjusted to any size picnic basket. After you have made your log cabin block, just add borders until you have enough to cover the lid of the basket. Or – you can use two log cabins.

log cabin rose basket for web

What if you want to use the idea but your basket doesn’t have a lid? Well, there is a way to make a lid for your basket. You can get the pattern on our etsy store HERE.


PS – Over at Stitched in Color, you might enjoy her Log Cabin quilt as you go tutorial. Check it out HERE.

Categories: Inspire Me!, Tutorial Tuesdays | Leave a comment

Tools to make stitches bloom

FL Sister id tagI’ll never be a master gardener. I have faced that reality and I’m really okay with that. Proof of that is easy to find.

For instance, there is the one out of three survival rate in my lavender planting attempts.


Is that the surviving one or the dead one?

And the fact that I lovingly wrapped a ‘ grapevine’ around our creek side swing only to be told it was in fact a noxious briar vine.


It really would look better with a vine wrapped around it.

Not to be forgotten is the result of my attempt to root a rose bush by sticking it in a potato.

potato roses

(I followed the Pinkest directions very, very carefully)


Technically, something I planted DID grow!

The rose stalk died and the potato flourished.

I truly think I’m on the National Horticultural Watch List.

So, you can see that as far as gardening goes, it’s a matter of wisdom to keep my tools and my expectations on the same level-simple and few.

dresden sm


In the quilting studio I have a different approach. I want my tools to exceed my current level of activity and expertise. I need tools that pull me to the next level. I crave tools that expand my abilities.

Applecore_Template_Simple_W600 I value tools that inspire me to try new techniques and explore new avenues of creativity. Nothing raises the fun meter like discovering a tool that makes me look better than I really am!

Hexagon_Set-no fussy cut cropped


You’ll find some of our favorite tools on the Tools tab.





And we’d love to hear from you when you find a tool that excites you, too. Especially those that bring more success than my roses attempt.

PS – You can be sure I’d welcome any tips you want to leave about gardening in North Florida especially tips about plants that are “neglect tolerant” or have been successfully grown by small children.

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Stitching Stop: Fabrics Galore

FL Sister id tag

Our summer road trip was the BEST TRIP EVER! And there in front of me was another undeniable example of just the right thing at just the right time!

main sign sm

Fabrics Galore and Quilting Store

We had supper plans with friends but what would we DO in the meantime?!?!

Problem solved. After all …

wanna quilt sign sm

See what I mean? It was just my kind of place!

Set just off the main highway that runs through this small town in the Georgia mountains, Patricia opened Fabric Galore and Quilting Store (and a new chapter in life) just a few months ago. Her shop has all the right ingredients for success. You’ll find a large classroom and a variety of classes …

… great display ideas

bed frame sm

I can see this in my studio!


giant gold button sm

You can never go wrong with buttons! Especially big ones.


pie safe sm

I really wanted to take the pie safe AND the fabric home with me!

… lots of natural light combined with a wide range of colors and styles of fabric

shelf of color

a rainbow of possibilities


better sign sm

Well said!

… friendly, knowledgeable assistance and assistants …

Rise cutting table sm

Meet my new friend, Rise (ree-sa).

… fun promotions like this spinning wheel for Tuesdays …

Tuesday spinning wheel

Now, this is addictive!

… and a welcoming, helpful host.

Patricia and doll2 sm

Store owner, Patricia Squire

So, if you are in north Georgia (or east Tennessee or south North Carolina – they are all close by) look for the giant thimble and spend some time (and money) at Fabrics Galore and Quilting Store. Their website is HERE.

sign2 sm

Who can resist a beckoning thimble?

I don’t think I mentioned that this road trip actually started 40 years ago. The Dietz and I exchanged vows on a hot June afternoon without having any idea about what it would really take to keep them. To celebrate the heavenly intervention that it took to build what we enjoy today, we took this road trip on trolley cars, by the ocean, through historical forts, aboard river paddle boats, and finally over winding mountain roads. I think we will call this journey …

Adventures Galore and so Much More!

giant red button sm

I couldn’t resist one more button.

Categories: Shops and Vendors we love | Leave a comment

Tuck and Roll – Happy Trails Cowgirl Quillow

CO Sister id tagWhile looking for just the right word for our sister project, I came across The Urban Dictionary which says by definition a quillow is…

“A quillow is a mix between a quilt and a pillow. When folded into itself, the quillow looks and feels like a pillow. However, the inner cloth can be taken out and used as a quilt, with the pocket of where the material sits that can be used as a footrest.”
Sounds like that kind of padding would make a long ride in the saddle a lot more comfy for this western gal. (But I don’t have a saddle, and I don’t really need the pillow right now so I thought I would change the name of this cowgirl project.) I thought a “tuck & roll” blanket was a great title until I tried to look that up on the www info trail.  Boy-howdy, was I mistaken.  It could be…
pill bug

Twin Pill Bugs in the Disney/Pixar film “A Bug’s Life”. They don’t even talk!

Or if ya’ll don’t like them ‘taters, it could be…
A dog breeder, Tuck 'N Roll Acres, Owner/Breeder of Chinese Shar-Pei since 1979

A dog breeder,
Tuck ‘N Roll Acres, Owner/Breeder of Chinese Shar-Pei since 1979

Cute, but not the look I want to attract a good-lookin’ wrangler.  It could be…
A certain derogatory term used by NFL announcers applied to Justin Tuck against Denver!

A certain descriptive term used by NFL announcers applied to Justin Tuck against Denver!

I don’t even want to go there!  I was trying to connect with fabric so found the “Upholstery Journal” definition
“Tuck-and-roll refers to hand-stuffed channels that are typically used to form a decorative panel in automotive interiors. Classic tuck-and-roll is time consuming to fabricate because it entails hand stuffing individual channels. The result is a luxurious crown, and a seat with extra cushioning.”


Last but not least, it nearly scared me out of my boots with this one…

A modern urban “tactic” employed in firearms training to get around obstacles while continuing a forward movement. It is most often employed by Airsoft or Paintball gamers, however it may be used by live-fire weapons personnel as well.

The technique, almost always done while running, involves diving forward in such a way that your shoulder lands on the ground first, and you roll into a little ball. As you come out of the ball, immediately spring back up into a running stance, or move into a kneeling position.

More like tuck & fall down!

More like tuck & fall down!

I’m leavin’ all that chatter in the dust and going back to the REAL deal. Forget “tuck & roll”!  That belongs in the instructions, not the title.  So back to quillow
There is soooooo much more than just a pillow and a quilt.  Especially with our “Happy Trails Cowgirl”!
quillow 3 - for printing
She is dressed for the dancin’ now, but unfold this bundle of fun and she will change right into her workin’ clothes.  The background is a simple rail fence pattern.  A quillow makes a great weekend project with machine applique.  It will take more time to pick out her clothes than stitch up the pattern.
If you’re in a gosh-dang hurry and can’t wait for the paper pattern a PDF is available here.
Happy Trails PDF Cowgirl Quillow pattern instructions
Your lasso won’t miss with this cowgirl and don’t forget to snag her pardner on the saddle blanket.
Happy Trails
So next time ya saddle up (cuddle on the couch or go for a car ride) take along your handy-dandy quillow for company and comfort. You can always tuck it in and roll it back up.
Categories: Patterns and Projects, Really Big Hats | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Camping, Family, Projects, Summer…

CO Sister id tag

My mind is racing with what to write about that explains a  little of the life journey of this past week.  So I decided to put it all into one blog post!  If you asked my sister, she would tell you it is NOT uncommon for me to tackle too much at one time.  So we just won’t tell her what I’m writing about all this until it is already posted. (Let’s see where that gets me…)


This past week the Colorado family gathered to celebrate a life together.  Dan and I raised our four children on the same ranch that he grew up on.  What an incredible life!  The past holds memories of family tent camping in the Colorado mountains because that is what I grew up doing.  So combine the two (Dan & I) and we are camping as a family but on the home ranch.  Yes, we drove all of four miles (!) to set up the camp site for our summer vacation.  Makes for a good car ride because no one asks, “Are we there yet?”


We are definitely a group of DYI’ers so every family gathering has a project.  When sister comes to visit it involves pattern design & sewing.  But none of our in-laws are into that yet, so the “planners” of our family picked a swing/fire pit project.  Some of the “free-thinkers” of our family were considering…Midsummer_bonfire_web T-swing-webbut we quickly put them on the Pinterest path.


But with only a couple of days together to do a

scavenger hunt,


some water fun,


making s’mores,


playing yard Yatzee,dice-web

going on a treasure hunt,treasure-web

and yes, a family photo shoot, we barely found time to work on the project of choice.  It became very clear early on that the pit/swing project would take back burner to the people plans.  We loved spending time together with stories


Discovering the choose your own adventure genre. It was truly an adventure.

and laughter


Family Auction with “funny money” won during all the games!


making memories in the “pretend” world


Cousins on their way to the store

eating too much of the incredible food


Each family took one night’s meal time.

and helping Grandpa


Grandpa giving “instructions” for sparklers.

We did actually start on the fire pit/swing by removing a dead limb from the space we needed. But the work crew got distracted by the bucket truck.


So here’s the final report:

Bug repellent – F! there were a “few”

Wading in the creek – A+  even if it wasn’t totally clean

Treasure Hunt -A   everyone wins a prize

Swing/fire pit – I   incomplete; a reason to return next year

Family Photo Shoot – Priceless!  Actual pictures will follow in another blog

Don’t let your summer go by without making a few memories of your own (whether or not you’re camping).  And if the projects (sewing or otherwise) don’t get completed, just remember to love the people/family you’re with! What summer memories are you making?


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Tutorial Tuesday: Thermal fabric & a mitt for the Bar-B-Q

Tutorial Tuesdays header

While we are all in celebration mode, we want to talk about this Barb-B-Q / oven mitt, a PS project from the Let Freedom Ring Collection.

PS Projects are FREE patterns that we add to our different pattern collections. You can find them all in our Brag Book. 

oven mitt 2

Our Really Big Hat Uncle Sam applique is included in the “for sale” patterns of the Let Freedom Ring Collection.

This quick bar-b-q/oven mitt will add to the comfort and the theme of your party. Using the Let Freedom Ring basic background block,

freedom star prototype sm

This is Freedom Star, the signature block for Let Freedom Ring Collection.

and a quick trim of prairie points, you will have a great accent in no time. See the Prairie Points Tips and Tricks page for a tutorial on this colorful trim.

prairie points

Official Opinion from the Florida Sister: You can never have too many Prairie Points!

You’ll need to sew some insulation type fabric between the outside and the lining in order to keep your hand protected. Make sure that you place the shiny side toward the heat source (i.e. facing the outside of the mitt).

Which brings us to the “tutorial” part of this post: advice regarding thermal fabrics. Your options fall into three basic categories (*none of which are safe for microwaving because of the metallic properties in them): 

  • Thermal Batting, which has insulating properties.
  • Thermal Fabric, which can withstand high temperatures without scorching.
  • Thermal Interfacing, which is a lighter weight insulating option.

We end to use Insulbright for projects that involve the oven (i.e. high heat). Isulbright has a reflective metalized poly film in it which resists radiant energy by reflecting it back to its source. Did we mention to make sure that you place the shiny side toward the heat source (i.e. facing the outside of the mitt).

We love this fabric because it is easy to cut, machine washable, and is quite nice to work with – though a bit slippery. Though it is in the batting category, The Warm Company does suggest you layer Insul-Bright with a standard cotton batting if you are using it for a high-heat application.

You can get your FREE instruction sheet HERE.


This is a Quick and Easy project!

Tip: For an “explosive” hostess gift, fill it with grilling tools or marinate mixes.

*One exception to the “do not microwave” rule is Wrap-N-Zap by Pellon, which is specifically designed to be microwaved.

Categories: PS Projects, Tutorial Tuesdays | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Freedom Flags: “sew” quick and easy

The Let Freedom Ring Flag is just the touch you need to put some dazzle to your 4th of July celebrations!

Freedom Ring yard flag


You can finish it in an afternoon and it takes very little from your patriotic fabric stash. The only down side is that your friends and neighbors will be requesting them to decorate their yards, too!


Here’s a little confession/ warning, though: they can be habit-forming.

Some design ideas are like that. Like an invasive vine. You know how it goes – all you need is a little, bitty starter and before you know it, the idea spreads to the far corners of your imagination.

That’s the way the yard flag house flag/ table flag idea has been in my mind. Once I made the first Let Freedom Ring flag as a companion piece to the Autograph Table Cloth  …

table cloth cropped for web

… the ideas for flags were creeping in just about every corner of our design notebook. The Colorado Sister was about to call in the noxious weed control folks.

The little yard flags are so quick to make:

freedom star prototype sm

two blocks, some borders, and a casing to hang them on the flag hanger and you’re finished! Be sure of this: the machine applique for the applique figure is E.A.S.Y. (Promise!) And in the process, you’ll get tips on stitching a Y-seam and prairie points. These 18″ x 24″ flags can be secured in your lawn or on the edge of your deck or on a table.

The next project bubbling in my brain is to go BIGGER so we will have a house flag version. Please don’t tell Sister I said that because she will think that the crop dusters need to be called again.

You can get the Let Freedom Ring flag pattern at our etsy store, 2SistersAtHeart.

Categories: Patterns and Projects, Seasonal Stitches | Leave a comment

Fabric Hoarding: Scraps

CO Sister id tagHello, my name is Cindy and I’m a scrap-aholic.

It is totally true and I’m confessing it to the world.  I have a “need” to find, fix, and finish other people’s scraps.  Not my own so much, I just collect those.  But I find a certain sense of accomplishment in using what someone else was giving away, throwing away or selling “too cheap.”

I see value in the rejected.

I’m in love with the term: up-cycling.

That all sounds very lofty, but the truth is:


I’m a fabric scrap hoarder and I’m not taking steps to correct it any time soon.

In fact, I went to a porch sale of someone (I knew she would have fabrics) simply because another friend in Oklahoma sent me a text mentioning scraps!  I kept having to tell other shoppers that I was really buying for three people (I didn’t mention that it was me, myself and I).  When I unloaded the bags and boxes, my DH was hoping that it was groceries.


I did feel a little guilty because Florida sister had asked me to use some of her spending money to purchase a few fun things for her.  So I sorted them out (We continue to live by our childhood rule:  one cuts and the other chooses.) but she couldn’t chose for herself, so I sent her a “small” box just to say she wasn’t forgotten and then I played for the rest of the day.

There are hoarding rules, you know.

All scraps must be sorted!  by color, of course.  My sister would probably say by size first.  The only size restriction is the container I’m trying to stuff them into.  I keep adding furniture to my room to contain organize them.


I have the odds & ends sizes, the smaller than fat quarter sizes, the strips (multiple sizes), the fat quarters I’ve created size, the less than a yard size and on and on it goes.

On the plus side, I did get rid of anything less than 4” square last summer.  Then they came out with “quilter’s candy” (2 inch squares) and now I’m back to saving it all!


Yes, that is a half-pint jar with scraps inside! Isn’t it just too cute with the yo-yo in the lid?

Contrary to the belief of my spouse, I do actually finish and use most many of these rescued fabrics. Case in point would be the “use it all up” couch throw I made using “scraps” from one of our favorite fabric designers, SWEETWATER.

Somewhere in the process of “using it all up” it to make the couch throw, the creativity looked like this:


Then I pressed a few more, cut some off, sewed back together, pressed again and it began to look like this:


By the way, you can save fabric by careful placement of odd sizes of scraps, preventing you from having still more scraps.

Just so you know, there is such a thing as “scraps too small to save.”


“Too small to save” is all that’s left this time.

This is the couch throw from Feed Company, Sweetwater, yet to be quilted.


Last year I did a throw for the gazebo …


and I keep one on the chair of my studio …



and I even pulled some “fake embroidered” pieces out of the trash and made into a floor throw for the grand-kids.




He is sorting Scrabble tiles onto the animals that begin with that letter. Genius!

So if I can only live long enough to use up other people’s scraps I will be a happy (and very old) quilter.

I was going to ask, “What is your darkest hording secret?” But I think that might be too much information.  So I’ll just ask, what was your latest completed scrap project?

Categories: Inspire Me!, Sister isn't answering her phone, so I'm telling you ... | Leave a comment

Tutorial Tuesday: Food Bowl Covers

Welcome to “Tutorial Tuesdays”

Tutorial Tuesdays headerTake a peek at the first of these FREE patterns with some tips that will make your Tuesday seem like Friday!

Continuing the Red White & Blue theme from your table to the frig(?) is easy with these simple (and freefood bowl covers.  They are adjustable for every size and you can embellish with the words or figures from your Let Freedom Ring patterns.

Tip #1:  Use bias tape to make the casing for the elastic and it will follow the curve easily.

Tip #2: Ric-rac is a quick embellishment that adds texture & color.

Tip #3: One size fits MANY.  Make it larger and it will cover more sizes.

So easy as 1,2,3 get the free pattern from the link above.

bowl-cover-2-webPotato salad never tasted so good…Actually, our family uses the age old “Frog Eye Salad” instead.  Recipe is belowbowl-cover-1-web


On the day before serving, cook the following ingredients together to form a thickened sauce:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon flour

3/4 cup pineapple juice (drained & reserved from can)

1 beaten egg

1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice

Cook 8 oz. Acini de pepe (tiny pasta) in 2 quarts boiling water, lightly salted.  Drain & rinse.  Cool slightly and mix with sauce.  Refrigerate overnight.  Add 15 oz. can drained mandarin oranges, 20 oz. can drained, pineapple chunks, 10 oz. drained, crushed pineapple, fresh red grapes, 8 oz cartoon of frozen whipped cream.  Optional: sliced bananas or marshmallows.  Serve cold and store in refrigerator.


Categories: PS Projects, Tutorial Tuesdays | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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