Tutorial Tuesday: Don’t make it hard

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Don’t make it hard: Elmer’s Glue Basting

When I cook I want to make something that looks hard but is really easy.

easy cooking

Don’t make it hard!

That reflects one of my most used mantras: Don’t make it hard.

That advice works just as well at the sewing machine as it does at the oven. Which is why I was anxious to try a “make it easy” way to baste that I picked up from my friend Tish, a Red Hen Quilting Bee friend.

I was a little nervous to start because I wasn’t trying it first on a practice piece. See how much I trust Tish? It needed to work – I was on a past due deadline with the Winter Table Mat for the Seasons at my Window collection.

close up sm

a sneak peek of the Seasons at my Window table mat

And I am happy to report that I LOVE basting this way!  (insert angel choir music here.)!!!

There is no pinning or poking or extra stitching.  There is no puckering, no folding over, no stretching to get things where they need to be. Everything is where you want it to be before you start stitching! So I’m excited to share it in hopes that you’ll love it, too.


You will need Elmer’s School Glue – the washable kind with the chalk board on the jar.

And you will need to dilute it – 2 parts glue and 1 part water. I just squeezed out 1/3 of the glue and filled up the bottle with water. Shake it really, really good.

glue sm

I labeled the bottle so I’ll know which one is already diluted.


Gather your usual quilt sandwich ingredients: backing, batting, pieced top.

Lay the backing on a flat surface. I put a plastic table cloth on my kitchen island before I laid out the backing so that if any glue soaked through cleanup would be easier.


The back was always harder for me before because I couldn’t see what I was doing.


Squeeze out the glue in S curves – thin lines about 2-3” apart. Sometimes it will lay out in beads rather than a solid line and that’s okay, too.


Place your batting on top of that and smooth it down. Make sure to measure fabric and batting so that  they are several inches bigger than the pieced top. Flip both pieces over and make sure the backing is smoothed out well. Don’t stretch the batting or the backing, though. Flip both pieces (now stuck together) back over so that the batting is on top.

Center your pieced top over the batting. Fold the top back to expose ¼ to ½ of the batting.

Squeeze out the glue in S curves – thin lines about 2-3” apart. Remember, little beads will work fine, too.

s curves

I’ll admit I was still doubting myself at this point.

Lay the top back over the glued batting and smooth into place. Be careful not to stretch the top. On the other hand, the moisture from the glue will allow you to ease into place anything that is not quite flat.


Repeat with the other quadrants of the pieced top until it is all glue basted in place. Remember, you are not trying to have a solid surface of glue.

sandwich sm

Is it dry yet?

Place on a flat surface and allow to dry overnight. Of course, if you live in a high dry climate like some sisters, it may only take until lunch time. If the glue is completely dried it won’t gum up your needle when you quilt.

I have to tell you that my first thought as I started to quilt was, “Why make it hard?!?” This is going to happen often for me and I’m getting ready to call my sister to let her know I’ve found a way to make her life easier.


Let us know how it works for you.

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First Things First

CO Sister id tagOk, Sister, I hear ya.  Candle is lit, linens are washed, and I’m ready to sew.  Oh, STOP!  The bookkeeper just called and YOUR relative (Uncle Sam) wants his papers filed.  So first things first.

Accounting clipart







Now, I’m ready:

  •  I’ve gathered some vintage accessories as well
  • Added ric-rac to the supply list
  • Got my half of the linen
  • Found a new (old) fabric line to use

Yes, that’s vintage ric-rac

Oh, STOP!  First things first.  What am I making? Oh, right, that IS the challenge.  Each sister is designing a runner from her own perspective that will include 1/2 of the same linen.  No restrictions on how you use it. Limits are only that it is to be the “size of a runner”.  I’ve got an idea on the back of an old envelope.  (Yes, I know I have an app for that.)

Now, I’m ready:

Oh, STOP!!! I had the new/old fabric mailed to the WRONG address. Seriously, I must get this idea off the ground! It is sketched out and ready to sew.  I will add a photo of the top next week.  Really, I will.  But first things, first.  I have to make it before I can photograph it.

While I wait for the fabric to be re-sent to me, I thought I would mention a couple of things you mustn’t cut!

  • Sister blocks that you got for your birthday from said family member.blog-1-web
  • Crocheted Lace from your grandmother (it will unravel), but I did put it on display. Those are her buttons at the waistband, too.


  • Your finger!  But you don’t want a picture of that and you have probably guessed how I know that.

So we want to know what you do with your vintage linens as well. Sisters At Heart has a whole pin board just for hankies! Wait til you see those projects this year!


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Burn the Candles & Stitch those Linens!

FL Sister id tag


My oldest daughter, Amanda, lives out a wise old adage very well: Burn the candles!

(Don’t save them – enjoy them!)



And both sisters agree that having precious things that are just stored away in closets and chests and tubs doesn’t make much sense – especially as it relates to old linens. It’s sad to think about how much time was spent to make those treasures only to have them folded away unused. Think of the scope of needlework done by stitching sisters of the past …








collars and cuffs








Maybe we are pursuing this philosophy so intentionally because both of us have gone through major redecorating (i.e. upheaval) in our homes this past year (Curiously enough they were both due to water breaks!) and in the process of moving and replacing belongings we’ve encountered those linen treasure stashes. Whatever the reasons, as we get ready to stitch we are having so much fun plotting and planning and sorting and envisioning and – drum roll – even cutting in order to use old linens and lace.


Make a New Year’s bucket list for your old linens!

If this adventure sounds like something that would help you bring some treasures out of hiding, you can get started right now:

Step 1 – Find your old linens and lace and put them in one spot.

Step 2 – Wash them – gently, please – and give attention to spot removal

Step 3 – sort them by size and type: crochet, vintage quilt blocks, or …


cross stich

embroidery and cross stitch


cut work

cut work


tatted embroidery


Step 4 – Set aside some coordinating fabrics

Step 5 – Order a Sisters at Heart, Miles Apart pattern from our new collection, Linens and Old Lace, and make something you will use that puts spotlight on those precious old linens.


Wait a minute, sister, we don’t have any patterns on our site yet.


As I was saying, don’t fret because there are not yet any patterns on our etsy store for Step 5. By the time you check off the first four steps, we will have something there for you. I promise!

We are ready to roll with this! Here’s a sneak peak at our first Linens and Old Lace Sister Challenge:


Take a vintage dresser scarf, cut it in half …

But, that’s all I’ll say until the other sister posts more details in a few days.

Get ready to burn those candles! (or stitch those linens!)

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Snip, Rip and Share

We love sharing – that’s what sisters do, you know. Over the years, we have borrowed ideas as much as we have borrowed fabric, notions – or clothes. Many an idea has started in the west and produced fun in a variety of locations and vice versa. This time it’s a challenge idea that is stretching across the miles between us.

Snip, Rip and Share Challenge

Do this slowly. Trust me, the snip and rip pace will vary and someone will get behind or someone will be confused about what “pass to the right” means.

Everyone stands in a circle with the yard of fabric they brought and an empty gallon plastic bag.

Snip the yard of fabric and rip it into 2 equal pieces. (Not necessary to be exact on this, girls.) Place one half in your bag and pass the other half to the right.

Now you have a 1/2 yard piece of fabric in your hand. Snip it and rip it in half. Place one half in your bag and pass the other half to the right.

Now you have 1/4 yard piece of fabric in your hand.Snip it and rip it in half. Place one half in your bag and pass the other half to the right. Some people will snip and rip it to make rectangular pieces and some with do it so that you have square-ish pieces. Either is fine.

Now you have 1/8 yard piece of fabric in your hand. Snip it and rip it in half. Place one half in your bag and pass the other half to the right.

Now you have 5 different pieces of fabric in your bag – sizes from 1/16 yd to 1/2 yard.

fabric pile

Don’t be too nervous – this is what my bag had in it.

And here are the challenge rules: Make something.

Anything. Any size. Any technique. Use all of the fabric you possibly can. Add other fabrics if you wish. Bring your finished project in a pillowcase or bag on the appointed day. A viewers choice vote will be taken and a prize given. Bring your left over scraps because the entry with the littlest amount of leftover scraps will receive a special prize.

The Florida stitchers exhibited their results recently …

yo-yo tree

A yo-yo tree on a snowy background


wavey quilt

a curved version of stack, cut and shuffle the pieces


sunbonnet sue and butterflies

Sunbonnet Sue with butterflies


story quilt

Fireworks on a small quilt this time.


pillow wrap

An Anthropology-esque (ie: early hippy) pillow wrap. The fabric that didn’t really fit made a great lining!


flying geese bag

Flying geese cover this bag. There were little mini bags inside from other fabrics


checkerboard quilt

Cats stitched with variegated threads play among checker boards.


bird's eye view umbrellas quilt

Umbrellas – from a bird’s eye view.


bag with pockets

A bag – the least favorite fabrics were used for the inside pockets.



Cut into strips, all the fabrics blend together. And it won a prize at the county fair!


helens apron etc

When she couldn’t make the fabrics work together, she made placemats, a pin cushion, a glasses case and an apron. Is that even legal!?!?! The rules might need to address this ahead of time.





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Winter Windows

FL Sister id tag


Winter windows look really different at my house than they do at my sister’s house. Look out her window and you will see windmills and snowflakes – maybe enough for a snowman; look out my windows and you will see palm trees and blooming azaleas. And the snowman at my house this year looked like this:


snowman2x E

Our Olaf only shared his hat with very special people!

When our families gathered for the holidays one of us had Christmas fun like this …

colorado snow

I’m sure there is a sled somewhere close by.

and the other one had Christmas fun that looked like this …

ava cropped

Digging in the sand instead of a snowball fight.

and this …


Family hike to supper – through the sand.



But our Seasons at my Window wall hanging highlights some winter things we have in common, things we both love …. Christmas candles in the window,


I want to make it with wool next time!

celebrations to welcome a new year and


Celebrating the passage of time is good at a lot of levels.

a steaming pot of heart-warming tea.



If you have followed us for a while, you know that we have used designed those appliques so that they can be used on pillow wraps. Those seasonal patterns are available HERE.

Now we are in the process of taking those same motifs and transferring them to smaller post card projects:

a table mat, a guest towel and a tea cozy (here’s a sneak peak at this set).

cozy front

And a sneak peak at Sister’s subway tile in her new kitchen!

They will be up on our store soon, available in a 3 postcard bundle. If you have enjoyed our fall post card bundle, available HERE, then this is a great way to expand your seasonal Windows collection.

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Recipe for New Year’s Eve

Inspiration for our patterns come to us from so many places – and so do our favorite recipes. We’re hoping that you’ll use some of these favorites to celebrate all that this past year has brought you as well as the potential you see for the coming year.

Veggie Pizza

The origins of this one are a little blurry. In fact the ingredients often get blurry to one of us – every year one sister makes the annual phone call to get the forgotten details from the other sister. It’s almost a holiday tradition.

1-2 containers of crescent rolls – depending on the size of your pizza stone or cookie sheet

Spread the crescent rolls out on the oiled pizza stone or cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 5-10 min. Cool.

Beat together: Please, sister, fill in the blanks because I’ve forgotten this part and I can’t find my recipe…

The other sister says: Not too worry. I found mine. – Beat together 8 oz cream cheese + 1 C mayo + 1/2 tsp. onion powder + 1 tsp dill weed + 1/2 tsp garlic salt and spread over the cooled crust.

Top with finely chopped veggies: carrots, broccoli, radishes, cucumber, red peppers. Chill before cutting into squares or triangles.


How did these come to be? We aren’t really sure, but we both agreed that our mom passed it along to us when we were newly married.

Combine: 1 egg          2 T from an envelope chili mix       1/2 c water       1/2 C cornmeal        1/2 tsp salt          1 1/2 lbs ground beef    Shape into balls. Arrange on a baking sheet. Bake at 450 for 10-15 min. Place in a chafing dish with 2 C tomato juice, the rest of the chili mix and 2 T lemon juice.  Heat to simmering.


Jalapeno chicken bacon wrap

Our friend, a chef, produced these for one daughter’s wedding reception. Our dad loved them so much he created his own version. Think of that – a Marine, a cowboy, a preacher and (at age 85) a chef!

 Flatten chicken breasts a little. Add seeded jalapenos. Roll up into rolls and wrap them in bacon. Bake at 425 for 10-15 min.

Sharon’s Cheesy Ham Dip

The Red Hen Quilting Bee girls are a fun group and every time I’m with them, I come home with great tips – some for the sewing studio and some for the kitchen.

3 slices of ham (can be smoked)

8 oz of cream cheese

1/4 C Parmesan cheese

1 C grated cheddar cheese

1/2 C red bell peppers

1/4 C chopped green onion

Blend until smooth. Bake @ 350 for 20 min. Serve with crackers or veggies.

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A Merry Christmas to All

1vintage-christmas-background_23-2147498074 copy

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Christmas Party at the Guild

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  You already know we love the holidays from the amount of Christmas projects we love to do. holly

So it’s not surprising that we are Christmas Party planning across the miles.  We are sharing ideas for food and games and wanted to share a few with you, too – recipes in later posts.


Games from the ghost of Christmas past:

Some kinds of old-fashioned fun never wear out.

Pin the Fur on Santa

Not sure if this needs much explanation but we can add a couple of twists to bring it into the stitching world. Put a figure of Santa on the wall. Pass out cotton balls with double stick tape on the back. Use the blind fold/turn in a circle routine. The people who actually stitch the fur where it belongs get prizes and if anyone gets the fur on the end of Santa’s hat – well, they get the golden needle award.

Who am I?

Write the names of quilt blocks on 3×5 cards and pin one on the back of each quilter at your party. Everyone asks Yes or no questions to discover the name of the block. Or you can substitute in the name of a sewing notion or tool if you prefer.

Musical Chairs Gift Exchange:

With everyone seated in a circle, tuck your gift wrapped item under the chair.  Stand and move in a circle singing a favorite carol.  At the end of the song, sit and unwrap the gift under your chair.


Games from the ghost of Christmas present:

The annual gift exchange definitely comes from Christmas past but there are ways to bring it into the present, too – keep it novel and current.

Change up the items to be exchanged. This year one guild is exchanging 4″ coasters.  And another is exchanging fat quarters.  Another ideas for exchanging gifts:  your favorite notion, pin cushions, aprons, pint jars of buttons.

And the methods used to exchange can be new and different. We share just a couple more.

Plastic Wrap Ball: ball

Each guest brings a favorite notion. As they arrive, wrap the notions – one at a time – in a continuous length of plastic wrap (packing shrink wrap works great) so that you make a huge ball of gifts. You might want to start the ball with an extra special gift (like a jingle bell elf) in the middle. Also, you may want to add candy or a few strips from a jelly roll to keep the ball growing and add some extra interest.

When it’s time to play the game give the plastic wrap ball (and maybe a pair of winter gloves) to one person and give one dice to the person on their left. The person with the gloves begins to unwrap the ball and the person with the dice rolls until they roll a designated number. Any gifts that have been unwrapped belong to the person who unwrapped them. Then the gloves and the ball are passed to the right to the next person, with the dice being passed to the person who just relinquished the ball. And the unwrapping continues until the middle present is revealed. You might want to establish that anyone with more than 2 gifts or strips or candy should share with anyone who didn’t unwrap a gift – it is Christmas, after all.


My favorite thing:

As guests arrive they write on a name tag their favorite thing about Christmas. They wear that name tag. The same word or phased is written on a gift tag and held until all of the wrapped exchange gifts are collected. Then the tags are randomly placed on the gifts and to be claimed as each guess shares their favorite thing about Christmas. If you want to avoid duplicates, have the greeters keep a list at the welcome table.)



Games from the ghost of Christmas future:

One of the best ways to celebrate Christmas is found in the “games of significance” we play which will carry the spirit of Christmas throughout the year. So, we encourage guilds and clubs to play “Pay it Forward.”

Donate your quilt, your fabric or your financial aide to a charitable groups like: Quilts of Valor, homeless shelters, safe houses for domestic abuse victims or group homes for adults with disabilities

Stitch and distribute pillowcases through foster care organizations or veterans’ hospitals or rehab facilities

Make and distribute placemats and lap robes through your area Council on Aging


We hope your Christmas celebrations are times where laughter is abundant, friendship is multiplied, and the First Gift of Christmas is remembered.

PS – We’d love for you to send us your best party ideas!

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Boot Bag – a perfect cowboy Christmas

The need for a boot bag pattern is probably beyond obvious since our Happy Trails cowboy and cowgirl are our most popular patterns. And, after all, the most identifying characteristic of a cowboy – besides his hat – would be his boots. So, just in time for your Christmas stitching marathon, here is our Happy Trails boot bag!


Made from faux leather fabric

Boots: every cowboy needs them and every cowboy has them. Some are prized because of they are well broken in and soooo comfortable and familiar.

old cowboy boots

Ah, yes, these boots are old familiar friends!

Others are prized because they are shiny new and ready for special occasions.


Now these are not your every day boots!

Some are so special that they may stay brand new in the boot bag for several months before an occasion is special enough to allow them to see the light of day.


Such a pair of special boots may well have been the inspiration for the boot bag. After all these boots came home to Sister’s Colorado ranch only after they were discovered in a Cozumel market (“Hey, cowboy, come over here and I’ll show you the real deal in boots!”), sailed a few days in the Caribbean and flew across the middle of the US. Such a pair of boots deserves the special protection of their own bag.


Where’s the hat, boys?


The pattern features full sized boot bag pattern and pictures of the process. (Colored pictures if you order the PDF downloadable pattern.) Easier to stitch than you might think, the bag has a divider/liner and two zippers and our Really Big Hat cowboy. (The applique pieces are numbered so you will be sure to get them on in the right order.)

Happy Trails PDF Cowboy Boot Bag cover

Now the most obvious thing is that we need a bag for this fellow’s lady friend. So, stand by… we will be back with that very soon.

Categories: Patterns and Projects, Really Big Hats | Leave a comment

Tutorial Tuesday: “As You Wish” Wool

Tutorial Tuesdays header

Of all the things that drew us to wool – The feel of the wool. The vibrant colors. The projects – most of all, we loved the “as you wish” possibilities we kept reading in the instructions. And we were pleasantly surprised at the not-too-steep learning curve – because we thought we had LOTS to learn as we ventured into the new (to us) territory of wool … angora wool, merino wool, worsted wool, over-dyed wool, boiled wool, felted wool.


The felted or not felted quality of wool is a major consideration since the felting process eliminates fraying – which means you will have clean-cut edges to work with.  Maybe the most surprising factoid for us was learning that some felt comes from this

water bottle

Yes that really is a plastic bottle. Recycled it can become (not so soft) felt!

and some comes from this.


You can feel the difference immediately if a real, live sheep once worn the wool!

That would explain why you can pay $3 per yard or you can pay $30 per yard – if you so wish.

That price mark may cause you to felt your own wool. And you can – if you so wish.

Before you try to felt wool, it will help to know if the piece is in fact 100% wool. We discovered that you can find this out if you put a small piece of the fabric in 100% bleach overnight. If it’s pure wool, the bleach will eat it. It will be gone in the morning. If something remains in the bleach then you know that your felting process may not be as successful with that piece of fabric.

The other thing that may cause a felting fail is if the fibers of the wool have been pre-shrunk before they are woven into the fabric. They won’t shrink again. I’m going to find out soon if this piece will felt up nicely or if it is destined to stay in this loose weave forever.

loose weave wool

Something about the subtle teal in this really appeals to me.

Felting isn’t difficult. [You can read a more detailed account HERE.]

Three components of felting:

  1. hot soapy water – just a tiny, little bit of blue Dawn may be your best bet
  2. agitation – the less water, the more agitation
  3. hot drying – watch your dryer filter due to the amazing amount of lint produced
boiled orange wool

You might try boiling the wool which will give you a more bumpy texture like this.

Fortunately, some things are very familiar in this wonderful world of all things wool. Many of the tools are familiar, many of the stitching techniques are familiar and when we do encounter new things, we also encounter the phrase “as you wish” rather than hard and fast rules.


greezer paper

freezer paper from that exclusive shop where you buy groceries


for marking the placement of multiple layers – and it will come off


to hold the pieces in place while you stitch and to stop the fraying in loosely woven or non-felted wool


sharp end and big holes

needle threaders

Threaders have been our stitching helpers a long time.

thread conditioner

Thread conditioner eliminates knotting and twisting. Smooooooth stitching indeed!


So many textures and weights of thread to choose from!


  1. Transfer the pattern onto freezer paper
  2. Rough cut the pattern out
  3. Iron to the wool – waxy side down
  4. Cut on pattern line & remove the freezer paper pattern
  5. Attach to the background fabric – small amount of glue
  6. Choose your thread: embroidery, Perle cotton, wool, silk – 1-3 strands as you wish. Contrasting thread or same color as wool as you wish. The smaller the pattern piece, the lighter weight the thread.
  7. Stitch in place as you wish: blanket / buttonhole stitch (not too tight), whip stitch (use regular thread if you want to have it disappear into the fabric), running stitch, cross stitch, French knots.


… are endless. Almost any of our applique projects can be made with wool – on a wool background or on flannel or on cotton. But we are really happy to show you our Seasons at My Window Autumn Post Cards.

Seasons PC October Pumpkin Tea Cozy outside front only

Tea Cozy – lined with flannel


Table Mat – wool with felted wool acorns


fall towel

flannel towel with felt accents


as you wish!!!



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