Author Archives: Stitch It Again

Quick & Easy Quilt for 10 inch Precuts

I wanted to sew a very simple quilt with a package of 50 precuts I bought from Amazon. I thought up a foolproof pattern that doesn’t require any precision sewing. I cut the first 10 inch square of every other row in half, putting one half at the beginning of the row, and the other half at the end. Then when the rows are sewn together, there are no seams to match up. The squares were actually about 9.8 inches as they were cut 25 cm square for international customers, which was fine for my purposes, especially with an amazingly low price of less than $9. I cut about 5 more squares to give me the number I wanted to work with.

I made the quilt 6 squares across with 9 rows for a finished size of 54 x 82 inches. I used Pellon Natural Cotton batting size 72 x 90. I used 2 different fabrics I already owned for the backing which made this a very thrifty project.

Quilting anything large is extremely cumbersome and difficult on a small machine. To make the quilting easier, I used a quilt-as-you-go method. I made 3 sections by sewing the rows together in groups of 3. For each section I cut the batting and backing to match, making them a little larger than the top. I quilted each section with free form wavy lines both horizontally and vertically. Technically, this is a little harder than sewing straight lines as I had to manipulate the quilt from side to side while sewing. The good part of the wavy quilting is there’s no wrong way to do it.

My stitching was looking good. Then I had to stop and wind another bobbin, and the tension went to hell when I resumed quilting. I loosened the tension by turning the number down to zero, but still couldn’t get the stitching to look as it should on the front.

Stitching samples: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I couldn’t figure out how to get back on track. I re-threaded once, but it didn’t help. I took a break. I searched Google. I got out the manual, went step by step and very carefully re-threaded, and reinserted the bobbin. Success – I made a mistake in how I placed the spool, and the thread was not able to come freely off the spool. I was used to an upright spool on my previous machine. Lesson learned : when in doubt, consult the manual.

With the quilting done, I trimmed and squared up each section. The next step was to join the 3 sections together with 2 and 1/4 inch joining strips, which are folded in half.

The two sections to be joined are sewn with right sides together with the joining strip on top. The two sections are opened flat. Then the strip is folded over and is either hand stitched or machine stitched in place.

I finished the quilt by sewing a traditional binding. I cut 2 and 1/2 half inch wide binding, folded it, sewed it to the front, and then hand stitched to the back. And done!

I named the quilt “Off-Kilter” for its staggered rows and wavy quilting.

Sew Over Ageism – Sparky Top

The community brought together by the Sew Over 50 account on Instagram has amassed over 46,000 followers in a little less than 5 years. Their posts highlight garment sewists as well as bringing attention to the lack of representation of this age group, and seeking to gain visibility for this sizable group.

For March, the challenge was to sew patterns in which the pattern model is 45 years old or more. If you have a collection of patterns from the Big 4 companies – Simplicity, Butterick, McCalls, and Vogue – you likely won’t have a single pattern that qualifies for this challenge. Many of the independent pattern companies do better, although their patterns are sold mostly in pdf form, and do not rely on a single printed cover like the traditional patterns.

I own the Old Mexico pattern by Folkwear. The image is from their website.

These are 3 free patterns featuring mature models: Harper, a cardigan by Sinclair Patterns, Athina Top for wovens and the Mandy Boatneck Tee, both by Tessuti Patterns.

What do these models have in common? Gray hair! Gray hair is an obvious sign of maturity, and it can be hard to discern age from a photo without it. This is why gray haired models are used to represent the older woman, and why so many women dye their hair to look younger. We’re not all naturally gray, either, post fifty.

I decided to sew the Sparky Top from Designs by Heidi.

The model is the designer.

It’s an ambiguous photo as for age. I didn’t contact Heidi and ask her age, but I have a general idea of how old she is by reading her blog on WordPress, Designs By Heidi.

I was first attracted to the Sparky pattern because it was named after my dog. Well, Heidi’s dog, actually, if you want to get technical, ha. It’s a good name!

Last summer, I worked on a dress made from this beautiful rayon sarong, but I had problems with it and put it aside.

The Sparky pattern works well with combining fabrics, and I had a thrifted shirt in mind to combine with my already cut up sarong. The palm print is subtle, and reads like a solid light lilac from a distance. They go great together!

I didn’t use the serger at all in the construction, preferring to make flat felled seams for a clean finish. There are a lot of curves in the pattern, and the back panel is gathered. I shortened the length, and through careful placement, made use of the border print of the sarong. I had a problem with the top pulling to the back, with the shoulder seam sitting farther back than my shoulder. I’ve had this problem before without being able to solve it.

My Sparky top is lightweight, cool, and perfect for the spring and summer. I also made the well worn jeans in these photos a few years ago, and the denim is fading nicely. Since I usually only show newly made clothes, here is proof that I wear what I make.

Do you like seeing older models? I do. There has been an awareness of racial diversity and size diversity, and age diversity is another important consideration. I like pattern companies like Love Notions and Itch to Stitch that show their pattern testers as models for each pattern on their websites, so different body types as well as different ages are represented.

Many women have felt invisible and devalued as they age as society puts an emphasis on youth. Regardless of their accomplishments, women are judged by their looks. I was stunned by the stupidity of a host on the cable news station CNN who said women are in their prime in their 20s and 30s, and maybe into their 40s. The context was about a 51 year old woman, Nikki Haley, running for President of The United States. Since the age requirement for this position is 35 years old and there has never been a president younger than 42, his statement makes no sense and just shows his bias. Haley is absolutely in her prime, and is young for the job.

I started this blog 10 years ago writing about my sewing journey to discover my style post fifty. I am one woman among many, continuing to learn and create in our mature years, and I am visible.

Scandinavian Stitches Pixies

Just like those who leave up their Christmas tree, I find it hard to put away Christmas.

I have several Gooseberry Patch books with Christmas crafts and recipes that I like to take down from the shelf and browse during the holiday season. This past December, I shelved my sewing machine for the month. In the New Year, after I put away my decorations, I looked at my Christmas fabric and what I most wanted to sew was Christmas related.

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I enjoy the calm and quiet of January. Christmas sewing in January seemed like a lovely idea.

Ten years ago, I made apple coasters from the book by Kajsa Wikman, Scandinavian Stitches, published in 2010 by Stash Books. At the time, I wanted to make the project named Tomte Stuffy before Christmas, but never found the time.

A tomte is a kind of Scandinavian elf or gnome. Kajsa’s version are cuter than the faceless, bearded gnomes that have become so popular. I’m going to refer to them as Christmas pixies.

I sewed one, but couldn’t stop at just one! I knitted a scarf for the pixie dressed in corduroy. I used felt for two of the caps, which were hard to get the tips out when turning. I used linen for the faces and hands, and powder blush for their cheeks. I didn’t change anything about the pattern; I even liked their minimal faces which I embroidered.

I enjoyed pixie production! I already had a bag of fiberfill, so was glad to use some of it. The stuffing of body parts takes time and patience. I found it was best done away from the machine while watching TV.

They were a little tricky to sew. Long legs!

I sewed a felt pocket on the corduroy dress. The shape is halfway between a heart and an apple.

My pixies spent the rest of the month and half of February looking adorable sitting on a chair, giving me some post-Christmas cheer.

Initially, I checked out the book Scandinavian Stitches from the library, but I recently bought it. I especially like the way the projects are organized into seasons. I have a few ideas for more projects, maybe with some changes. I think it will be sooner than ten years. I might like working on a winter project in the summer.

2023 Sewing, Cross Stitch and Knitting Goals

I’m not making the Make Nine List this year. Instead I have more generalized goals. In the past three or four years 90% of my making has been garment sewing, and I want to branch out.


Garment Sewing – I will sew some casual pants and tees. I bought two top patterns on sale late last year: the Weekend Getaway Blouse by Liesl + Co, and the Corin Top by Grainline Studio.

I already made one Weekend Getaway top, and plan on making another.

Quilt: I am going to use 10 inch pre-cuts, and try a quilt as you go method.

I also want to sew other home projects – a wall hanging, pillows, etc.

Cross Stitch

I am working again on the cross stitch picture I started in 2019. It’s called Autumn Twilight and is a cross stich rendering of original artwork by Steve French. I looked him up, and found that he was a South Haven, Michigan artist who depicted many outdoor and nature compositions.

I didn’t get very far, and I hated working on it. So what has changed? First, I took it out of that heavy frame! It was so awkward to hold. I washed the dirty fabric and am using the hoop shown in the photo. The second problem was seeing the fabric. I wore a magnifier around my neck and propped it against me which was uncomfortable. I bought a pair of magnifying glasses to wear over my reading glasses, and that is working out better.

With 64 different DMC colors in the design, it’s a challenging piece. I still like the picture, except for the dark blob in the center. The dense foliage makes it hard to see one of the geese. Maybe I can change that. Today, I would look for a design with a focus on one subject that can be seen from across the room. My completed cross stitch pieces have all been small ornaments or motifs. I’ve never completed a larger cross stitch piece for framing. This one is 7 1/2 by 11 1/2 inches.


I’ve been on Ravelry since 2008. After two non-knitting years, I started knitting on the very first day of the year and have already completed two projects. They are a doily style decorative cloth made from cotton, and a Boom! scarf from wool yarn. I only had enough yarn for a short version of the shawl.

I started a sweater in February 2020 with Cara Mia Yarn, and abandoned it for various reasons. This discontinued yarn is a soft acrylic/nylon/rayon/angora blend; very nice for a budget yarn. I have about 1,680 yards of Cara Mia, enough to make a cardigan.

I am thinking of frogging the bit I knitted, and starting either the Lucia Hoodie by Carrie Bostick Hoge or Blend by Shaina Bilow.

The hoodie is knitted in one piece from the bottom up with raglan sleeves attached while knitting, and the shawl collared cardigan is knit in pieces and then seamed. Both have positive ease, pockets, and a band in which the stitches are picked up and knit.

I also have yarn for a spring shell type top if I can’t get decide what I want to do about the cardigan. I may also crochet.


I have a philosophy that as a maker I should take on more ambitious projects at least once in each craft. I have knitted sweaters, crocheted an afghan, and sewn garments but only one quilt, and have not completed a challenging cross stitch piece. Of course, my main goal is to enjoy the creative process, as well as produce some useful or beautiful objects. It’s not a job, and following a passion is more important than a “should”. My favorite projects are those that I feel inspired to make. So these are just ideas – as the days unfold I’ll see where they lead. As of February, these are the three needle arts I’ve already been working on this year.

As I write, I see my theme for 2023: to pick up the threads of the past, to branch out, and have multiple projects in different needle arts going at the same time.

2022 Sewing

My goals for 2022 were to slow down, to enjoy the process and explore my creativity. I more or less succeeded, and sewed 5 tops, 4 bottoms, 2 dresses, 2 refashions, and 5 home projects.

I also did a few small cross stitch pieces, and a few craft projects. Sadly, I didn’t do any knitting or crocheting. My priority is to keep my hands functional. I can still crochet, but a few of my “knitting joints” are mildly arthritic, which will keep me sidelined for the most part.


I sewed the Zero Waste Cropped Shirt by Birgitta Helmersson in a linen blend, 2 color blocked cotton tee shirts, a rayon jersey boxy tee, and a 3/4 sleeve Laundry Day Tee in a magenta light sweater knit. The winter LDT is my favorite item of clothing I sewed this year.


I sewed a cropped Allegro elastic waist pants in a linen blend and 3 pairs of knit shorts.


I sewed my second Bardon dress in a quilting cotton I had bought many years ago, and a LDT dress in a rayon knit. Both are free patterns.


Both refashions were from my own closet.


My favorite projects of the year are the rag quilt and the fall wall hanging of my own design. The rag quilt was a big undertaking. I cut 250 8-inch squares and used 50 precuts. I used 99 different cotton prints for the top, and flannel for the backing and filling. I had collected most of the prints throughout many years and was glad to put them to use. The snipping of the raw edges meant yet more cutting. I also made a rag quilt pillow sham in November with 12 more prints. I put my sewing machine away for December to take a break.

I want to make 2-3 more quilts. I will be using precuts I already have, so it should go faster. I plan on sewing more home projects next year since I have enough clothes.

Fall Wall Quilt How-To

I loved designing and working on this quilt, and I love the finished quilt just as much. I also learned a few things along the way, from a few bloggers and my own experience. I included the links I used for anyone who might want to make something similar, or who wants to use some of these ideas as a jumping off point.

It all started with the fabrics, and an idea. I would make applique blocks and then add some simple piecing.

I decided on crows, pumpkins, and leaves. I drew two different sized pumpkins, and cut them into 3 sections. I found and downloaded a free crow template, and reduced it to 60% of its size. I added a wing piece. I downloaded 3 leaves from The Crafty Quilter.

When I first tried applique many years ago, I did it all by hand. Not the way I want to do it anymore! I used a excellent and very detailed post by the Crafty Quilter about machine applique.

I used 2 different techniques for transferring my shapes to fabric. For the pumpkins and moons I cut out the fabric and then sewed it to fusible interfacing, sewing the shiny side against the right side of fabric, and then making a hole in the interfacing and turning. Next I iron pressed my pumpkins onto the backing fabric.

This gives an added loftiness to the finished applique, but would be too hard to do for more complex shapes.

For the crows and leaves, I used Heat n Bond (I discovered I already had 2 packs).

I drew my shapes on the paper side of the Heat n Bond, cut them out, ironed them on the wrong side of the fabric, cut out the shapes on the drawn line, and then peeled off the paper, and ironed them on the backing fabric. I didn’t like the leaf fabric pictured, and didn’t use these leaves in the finished quilt.

The next step is sewing the shapes to the backing. There are many different stitches, threads, and stitch density to consider. So many decisions to make! I used a zigzag that wasn’t completely dense. The photo shows the stitching from the wrong side.

After getting the basic blocks done, and some additional patches and strips cut out, I played around with the layout. I taped it to the closet door and looked at it for a while. I saw that the center was weak, and felt it much improved when I rearranged to put the top third at the bottom. I also added a stem to the maple leaf, and changed the pumpkin stems from a dark green that didn’t stand out enough to a tiny print that looks tan from a distance.

I tried a spray adhesive for the first time for assembling the quilt top with the batting and backing. I used to hand baste, but this is easier.

The next step is make or break time: quilting the pieced top. Quilting even a small project can be daunting. I read Lori Kennedy’s 6 Ways to Ruin a Quilt with Machine Quilting and ventured forth.

I quilted to outline the shapes, and heavily quilted the pumpkins. For the crow blocks I didn’t quilt the crows at all, and heavily quilted the background.

After reading the very comprehensive blog on how to hang a quilt on the wall, I decided to add hanging tabs before attaching the binding by hand. I cut the binding with a width of 2 1/2 inches. I then tacked down the tabs and added a stick I cut in the yard and some twine.


I got started on this quilt without much thought on the technical aspects. What I learned in piecing, appliqueing, and quilting this project:

  1. Change feet for the job – I used 3 feet; the clear satin stitch foot for the applique, the1/4 inch seam foot for piecing, and the even feed or walking foot for quilting.
  2. Change threads – I needed different colors for the top thread and the bobbin thread which needed to match the dark fabric of the quilt back.
  3. Change tension – I didn’t practice with a quilt sandwich, and I had the dark bobbin thread showing on the front. I changed from a 4 down to a 1 after seeing this:

4. Think of ways to quilt to reduce thread ends to deal with. The multitude of hanging threads I needed to get rid of was the one bad part of this project. I mostly tried to bring all threads to the back and knot and bury them, but it was tedious and took so much time. Ugh!

The finished quilt is 18 x 25.


Crow Download:

Leaves Download:

The Crafty Quilter: Lesson 3: Applique:

Lori Kennedy Quilts : 6 Ways to Ruin a Quilt with Machine Quilting:

The Ruffled Purse – How to Hang a Quilt on the Wall:

Ten Years Blogging!

Ten years ago I designed a WordPress site and published my first post. I was at the beginning phase of learning to sew my own clothes. I started by mostly refashioning thrift clothes. My progress was slow and gradual. Now, ten years later, almost everything I wear is me-made, and I have achieved my goal.

It would take too long to go through ten years and find the highlights; I’d rather be sewing! But I will share a few examples. Beware: image heavy!

This was the first project I shared (it was close to Halloween):

These are some of the outfits I’ve sewed:

Some of my refashions:

The main focus of my blog has been sewing clothes, but I’ve also done plenty of other needle arts and crafting.

My quilted projects:

My embroidery:

I stopped knitting because of carpal tunnel and arthritis issues. Sewing by machine is much easier on the hands.

Some knitting and crochet projects:

Some of my favorite posts:

The Dress Doctor Part 1

The Dress Doctor Part 2

Thoughts on First Year of Blogging

What My Mother Wore

End of Summer Leftovers

Sewing During the Pandemic

My most popular post is Easy Fix For Too Small Skirt. That’s a great title! Subsequently, I’ve realized my tutorial is not so easy; I removed and reinserted a zipper. I also removed the waistband and sewed foldover elastic.

I ‘ve never been a frequent poster, but my goal has been to have at least one post every month. I’ve only missed three months in 10 years.

What has changed in 10 years? I’m older, ha! The traffic on blogs has decreased as the rise of the smart phone has changed the focus to apps like Instagram, which are more easily read on a small device. In the sewing world, independent pattern companies have gained a larger customer base, and larger sizes are now routinely included as a result from some heated debates on Instagram. A few of those pattern companies were started as a progression from blogging.

I have a free WordPress account. I am happy with WordPress, and would recommend the platform, although I find it harder to use the new editor. Ads are perfectly fine at the end of a post, but a few times I have seen ads in the middle of a post which I don’t like. I appreciate the free platform, and that my blog will remain up indefinitely without any action from me. After uploading 1,679 photos and publishing 174 posts, I have only used 37% of my allotted storage space.

So should I continue? Most of what I sew is pretty boring – everyday tees, pants and shorts. But the things I make are my story, and I like telling it, so I doubt I will suddenly stop at this point in time.

I’m always excited about the latest thing I’m sewing! Currently I’m working on a fall/Halloween wall quilt. I finished sewing the quilt top, and I will be back with the completed project, and the story about it.

To my readers, I hope you have found something of use or interest in these pages. You probably also know the pleasures of creating with your own hands, and together we inspire each other to make, to learn, to grow.