Mark it with a “B”…

Tutorial Tuesdays headerDo you remember the nursery rhyme that included, “mark it with a B for the baby and me”? So the greater question is: What did they mark it with? Ok, so it may not change childhood for anyone in the near future but for quilters marking it with the correct device is sooooo important.  A couple more questions for you to ponder:

Did you ever mark your fabric with something that wouldn’t wash out?

Did you ever mark your fabric with something that vanished before you were finished?


Color Pens

Proper tools make any job easier and ensure success,   so here’s a bit of info that we’ve collected about marking tools.

CHALK MARKING—can all be rubbed away or brushed with a damp cloth

  • Chalk pencils—can be sharpened with a standard pencil sharpener
  • Chalk markers—a container that holds loose chalk and marks with chalk powder run through a serrated wheel
  • Chalk powder—a small fabric bag containing loose chalk to be “pounced” on a perforated pattern or stencil

TEMPLATE MARKING—a standard pencil form with a special lead for marking on plastic templates; remove from plastic with damp cloth; do NOT use on fabric.

Air soluble

Air soluble

TEMPORARY FABRIC MARKING—used to transfer quilting, applique or embroidery lines onto fabric; some have extra fine points.

  • Water soluble—can be removed with plain water (some detergents have chemicals that will make the ink permanent), usually blue in color
  • Disappearing-ink or air-soluble—disappears within 24-72 hours of marking or can be removed with plain water
  • FriXion pens—iron out inks; best with dry iron and pre-washed fabrics


PERMANENT FABRIC MARKING—for journaling, labeling, or signature quilts

  • Black Fine Line—ink will not wash out. Better for detailing
  • Colored Inks—for specific shading or coordination

FABRIC MARKING PENCILS—for transferring quilting line or embroidery designs

  • Water-soluble Pencil—marks can be removed with damp cloth; blue or white for light and dark fabrics; Erasable with a fabric eraser
  • Mechanical pencil—lead marks lines for consistent thickness; lead thickness fits most additional tools (ruler slots; ¼” wheels, etc.)
  • Soapstone—naturally soft, fabric safe substance. Good on dark fabrics; gently rub off marks.
Water soluable

Water soluble

So there you have it.  Mark it with a “B” for Best Tool Tips.

PS: Did you notice that this Tutorial is coming to you on Wednesday? Not Tuesday.  “Someone” marked it wrong!



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Mug Mat & Place card: PS Project TYG

Just in time to find your place at the table & put your mug on the mat!  This additional project is for the Thank You, God for Everything collection.

Click here to get started with your FREE download: PS Patterns-TYG Mug mats instructions

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PANIC! No-Stop-Wait!

This was to be the countdown week to the most fun of the year.  Sisters together week at the quilt show.  Instead, we are counting the number of times we almost had a panic attack.  And it is only Tuesday.


The first time was when Sister 1 flew into Denver and found that she might have to borrow clothes for the week from Sister 2.  Panic was avoided when the airlines found the lost luggage.


The next time we almost reached for the panic button was when Sister 2 showed Sister 1 what she found in the yard on her walk yesterday.  Sister 2 decided not to panic but they were NOT going to go walking, instead they would start packing.  snake

All seemed to be going well.  You could say we thought we had our ducks all in a row. (HINT: See the new pattern Just Ducky at the show.) ducks

Suddenly, both sisters realized that the newest pattern was missing a FULL PAGE of pattern!  Yikes!  Panic!  No, stop, wait… With today’s technology, we found the file “on the cloud”, emailed the jpg to the local printer (90 miles away)  and will insert while we set up.  So now our boots are in the bag (HINT: See our newest pattern at the show)!


Come see Sisters At Heart, Miles Apart at the Colorado Quilt-a-Fair. Info from CQC site is posted below.

September 25, 26, 2015
9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Boulder County Fairgrounds
9595 Nelson Rd, Longmont, CO

Quilt-a-Fair is held annually on the 4th Friday and Saturday of September at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont, Colorado.  Our admission is $5.00 each day (children under 10 admitted free), hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. both days, and parking is free.  Friday Only: No strollers allowed.  A concessionaire sells food and non-alcoholic drinks on site and there is a large hospitality area for eating in.

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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.

Some of our most cherished -and most tangled- threads of thought are our mixed maxims.

This mixed maxim summarizes our core values. Every real business has core values, right?

Sister motto

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A Holly Jolly Santa Quilt & the Never, Ever Again Sister

We are Christmas lovers. We admit it. We embrace it.

We love all things Christmas –

Ornaments 3x4

These red work ornaments are from the Starry Night collection.

mangers and angels;

SN stocking printable

These are from our Starry Night collection

trees full of lights and stockings hung on the fireplace;

figgy pudding


wassail and figgy pudding –

okay, so neither of us has ever even smelled figgy pudding-but you get the idea.


You would think that the design and production of a Christmas quilt would be pure joy. Bliss. Easy peasey pie.

We thought so too.


Such was not the case. Without going into a lot of gory details about miscalculated changes

and mis-measured squares

and mis-cut sashings

and ill-filled Santa appliqué suits,

let’s just say that even the sister who has a whole collection of old Santas reached her frustration limit and called a halt to the process until sanity could be restored. At that point the half-finished Santa quilt was banished to the southern division of the company via USPS with an enclosed note that read in part: never to be seen or heard about again. Ever. I mean never, ever. Never, ever again! Fiddle de de! I mean bah humbug!

bah humbug

So the partial Santa quilts were nestled away for a long, long, long winter’s nap -for a few years. Then one night when the luster of moon light on the new fallen … actually it was one hot summer day during a move when the other sister stumbled across this half-finished treasure. So she wheedled out an agreement whereby the never, ever again sister would give one more Christmas try to the project — IF all the parts were sorted out and pre-calculated and pre-cut before they were granted re-entry into the Colorado sewing studio.

The old adage “Begun is half done” was quoted several times in the negotiating process.

So the pieces were re-assessed and the whole plan re-evaluated and some extra touches were added and Holly Jolly Santa was added to our pattern collection. We think he is better for the wait – he matured along the way.

santa line drawing

And we are delighted to welcome Holly, Jolly Santa to the Sisters at Heart collections! He was worth the trouble!  Okay, to be completely honest, the never, ever sister may still be “reserving judgement.”


The Holly Jolly Santa appliqué figure from our Really Big Hat collection sits in the center of the quilt on a large Christmas Star block framed with gold sashing. The blocks surrounding the center are an echoing explosion of the Christmas Star.

 Christmas Star with Santa

If you can make half square triangles and split quarter square triangles, this quilt will come together quicker than Santa can lay his finger to the side of his nose and give a nod…  And the outer borders will give you lots of room for wonderful holly quilting lines.

The final touch for this holiday quilt are the felted wool holly sprigs that Santa holds, along with the holly leaves and berries scattered out to the border of the quilt.


Working with the wool is such a pleasure that I cut out more holly leaves than we needed!

holly close up

The pearl cotton stitching really makes these a great embellishments as finishing touches to the quilt.

A note about the felted wool: Some quilters will prefer to quilt the quilt before they applique the felted holly leaves. That could make appliqueing the leaves and berries a little tricky. So we’d suggest that you do the stitching around the edges of the holly leaves and berries before they are attached – much like you would do the pieces for a wool penny rug. Then once the decorative stitching is done, you can attach the felted wool to the quilt with fabric or applique glue and a few hidden stitches that go through the entire quilt. We would offer the same advice for putting the felted wool “fur” on the Santa suit.

Holly Jolly close up

He’s holding on tight to those sprigs of holly! We think that is what makes him jolly!

Making this quilt can give you an extra special holiday memory if you make it together with a stitching sister. As you know, every one of our quilt patterns has a Trading Hearts Plan in it so that, if you wish, you can stitch a quilt (trading parts) with someone else even if they live far away from you. Just think of the lingering “fa-la-la-la-las” and “ho-ho-hos” that would be part of your holidays every time you unwrap a Holly Jolly made with shared stitches.

Holly Jolly for printing

I really need to add some twinkle lights above this bed!

Holly Jolly Santa is available as an instant PDF downloadable pattern or in the regular printed paper pattern format though our Etsy store.

The really good news is that by Christmas you might just find the aforementioned never ever again sister cuddled under her Holly Jolly quilt with a good book and a cup of hot cider-having no memory of the initial hurtles and challenges of making this quilt.

It could happen! We true Christmas lovers believe in Christmas miracles!

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

Switching Identities and Gathering Ideas

FL Sister id tagSister 2 doesn’t usually ask me to do the impossible but this time …

There are so many reasons I will never be able to pretend to be my sister. In the first place, our daughters look more like sisters than we do. And then there is the silence factor – it comes more naturally to her than to me. And we haven’t even mentioned the math – it makes me itch and she tracks the numbers for several business ventures all at once.


But, while Colorado Sister was in California welcoming her new granddaughter, I, the Florida Sister, came west to spend time with our dad

He’s an “easy keeper” and our favorite Marine.

and just happened to be in town the day her guild, the Calico Quilters, met. So I fearlessly gathered the delivery I needed to make for the Colorado Sister and prepared to give my best impersonation – even though I pretty much knew what would happen when I walked into her quilt club and tried to be Cindy for even a few short hours.

Sure enough – their disbelieving laughter came before I finished my greeting of, “Good morning, I’m Cin …” But the gracious Calico Quilters welcomed me despite my feeble attempt to be my sister – and allowed me to enjoy their Show and Share, ask questions about how they do their challenges and stitch along during their class on felted wool.

Here’s a sampling of what the Calico Quilters were up to that day:

scrappy brights sm

They make big quilts

little fake cathedral window sm

and small quilts;

stuff for son's appartment sm

little projects for others

hexagon trivet sm

and little projects for themselves.

strip piecing on dryer sheets sm

They strip quilt with dryer sheets as a foundation.

stack and wack sm

and sometimes they stack ’em and whack ’em.

quilt from paint chips sm

They find inspiration in many places …

paint chip idea sm

like this paint advertisement for “colors of the year.”

window pane sm

They challenge each other and they challenge themselves …


They have block of the month challenges when

block of the month - Sunbonnet Sue2 sm

some choose everything from Sunbonnet Sue …

block of the month - Sunbonnet Sue sm

I loved this one best because it made me think of the Sister’s fabric packages we exchange.

block of the month - stars sm

to stars …..


And then there was the Precut Challenge that produced

precut 3 sm

and …

big quilt sm

and …

precut - scrappy sm

and even wreaths ….

wreath sm

organizing idea sm

along with great organizing tips.

They try new techniques ..

precut challange - modern sm

and perfect favorite methods.

purple modern sm

They showed us round quilts and

circle flying geese sm

quilts with round designs that won prizes at the fair.

circles -fair winner sm

Some showed quilts from kits …

gray and yellow sm

(Here’s where I learned that some quilt kits give you so much fabric that you have

kit sm

enough left over fabric for the back and even …

kt backing sm

enough for an extra quilt!)

kit leftover sm

And then they share their expertise with one another.

That’s where the wool class came in the program.

We worked on little stockings cut from felted wool and embellished with holly leaves and bells.  I sat next to my high school Latin class buddy, Sandy, who showed me a fabulous new way to thread multiple stands of embroidery thread.

class and Sandy sm

(This is so much more fun than Latin!)

And I learned the benefits of using a conditioner on the embroidery thread to keep it from tangling.

thread conditioner sm

And then my new friend showed me how to tie a great knot.

I know that sounds elementary but it was really a neat technique and I’m not that great at making a neat knot. I’ll try to put the little video I made of her technique on a post really soon.


knot friend sm


Needless to say, the time with them was worth my momentary failure of assuming a different identity.


What good ideas can you pass along from your club, guild, or quilting bee?

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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.


until you wilt

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Embellishment Challenge: a guild idea

FL Sister id tag One of my favorite days of the month is Red Hen Sewing Bee day when I get to spend time with a couple of dozen talented stitching sisters. Lead by Vernell and Diane, two dedicated “chicks” who keep us organized and inspired as we do finish our UFQs, work on community projects, and stretch ourselves through quilt challenges.

The most recent challenge started when we exchanged white paper bags filled with embellishments. You know: buttons, small pieces of lace, short sections of rick-rack, jewels, a few inches of cord, pins, yo-yos, dimensional applique pieces …. We were to use at least five of the enclosed embellishments on a small quilt no larger than 24″ and no smaller than 12″. Other than those simple parameters, we were set free to create and design. The results were as diverse as the stitchers themselves!

kimonos sm

kimonos and silver fan pins

nest sm

old lace for the bird’s nest

garden sm

buttons and trims and yo-yo flowers

yoyo chicken sm

yo-yo chicken wings with yo-yo and lace flowers along with star shaped buttons

embellishments sm

star shaped buttons are used for Christmas this time

The unidentified quilts were hung on a design board. Everyone voted for their 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th choice. Every 1st vote earned, say, 20 points; every 2nd vote earned, say, 15 points and so on. The person with the most points was awarded the first place ribbon and then came the second most votes —- Trust me, Vernell’s ribbons are treasures in their own right.

birds sm

the little mouse’s tail is some cord, and the bird’s tail is cut from lace

flower vase sm

the fluffiest flowers come from raveled lace

Becky sm

paint on burlap squares and ceramic radish button – what variety of embellishments


sw sm

the Southwest is celebrated with beads and buttons

During the “Ribbon Ceremony” each quilter shared the challenges she faced or what inspired her choices.

sewing basket s

Feathers and buttons and lace combined with a mini sewing kit from the dollar store to make this a deserving 1st Place Prize winner!

Challenges are a great way to stretch your quilting education and explore new territory — and, who knows, you might even find something you really LOVE to do!

We’d love to hear about challenges your group has taken on together.

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CO Sister id tag



What is it that you anticipate?

  • Morning coffee
  • Your own bed at night
  • Cool water on  hot day
  • Christmas
  • Warm house after being out in the cold (to do chores – not outdoor quilting)
  • Announcing a new pattern line (Ducky)
  • OR….(wait for it….) A NEW BABY!!!


Presenting "Eden Orion" 6 1/2 lbs., 18 1/2 inches

Presenting “Eden Orion” 6 1/2 lbs., 18 1/2 inches

Yes, this Colorado sister has been anticipating a new grand-daughter for 9 months!  She is finally here and so I flew off with hand sewing in the bag for a visit. I didn’t do much hand sewing but I have done some babysitting for the siblings (tough / sweet job) laundry for the family (forgot how much 6 people produce) and meals for the freezer (if you live in the city, you get groceries delivered!) but most importantly, I’ve been able to fulfill the baby-longing of holding this new little one! Well worth the long wait.

Anticipation fulfilled.

Anticipation fulfilled.


With some expectations, fulfillment brings a bit of a downer feeling but NOT so with a baby.  Every anticipated sight, sound and smell are brought to fruition.  What touches your heart like a newborn cry?  What smells as fresh as a clean baby?  Can you imagine something more precious than their smile while they sleep?  A few others have been anticipating her arrival as well.


Big Brother






Little / Big Brother


After a week, Big Sister finally asked if we could please start dressing her in some of the new outfits. I think she is anticipating sharing clothes as most sisters do.  Little /Big Brother says, “I think she wants me.” (meaning he wants to hold her) Big Brother is hopeful that she will get big enough to recognize the Transformers he has been showing her (no response yet).



I think my sister is anticipating, really just patiently waiting for me to get back to work on Holly J …Oh, I can’t tell you about that yet.  It is the hand sewing I brought along with me but you’ll just have to anticipate it. Coming soon a new pattern!

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

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.

To quilt is to live

Categories: Threads of Thought | Leave a comment

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