Fear Itself…Is There An Art Quilt In This Somewhere?

RooRoo Cogburn and A Few of His Ladies: Who’s Chicken?!

It’s surreal.

Look around today and you are almost certain to find an overwhelming number of fear inducing messages from the mainstream media, social media and across the internet. I’ve been incredulous at the hysteria and resulting mass shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, face masks, cleaning products and even (in my local area) bottled water, fresh foods, dry and canned goods and food in general. Shelves are noticeably empty.

I have been so shocked by all this that I decided to adjust my perspective from incredulity to one of curiosity and do a little research. Go ahead–please use virtually any search engine and quickly search the effects of fear on our bodies, on our minds, on our well-beings. It is astonishing to learn that simply the perception of fear in others can actually induce fear in us and an equal fear response in our bodies. Yikes. Sadly…the more fear spreads…well, the more it spreads.

According to a 2008 article written by Jay Winner, MD on psychologytoday.com (context: this article was written during the financial crisis):

Many people are living in fear that is made worse by constant consumption of news media. I am not a financial expert, so I would not presume to know the future course of our economy. (The financial experts, on the other hand, can correctly predict market direction almost 50% of the time.) We do, however, need to look at the motivations of the media who advise us. Keep in mind that one of the main goals of media is to keep you consuming it. If you quickly change the channel to another station, they don’t make money. Watching people talk about financial “concerns” will likely not keep your eyes glued to the tube as much as talk of a financial “crisis.” ”

This August 2017 article by Daniel Bennett (I encourage you to read through it via link provided) goes a bit further by describing a specific incident in Tennessee where a teacher complained of a terrible gas like odor in her classroom. She soon began feeling ill. Students in class almost immediately began demonstrating similar symptoms. Fire, police, ambulances came and evacuated the building taking more than 80 people to the hospital where many were kept/hospitalized overnight. Blood test results found nothing. Several subsequent official investigations found NOTHING.

A report in the New England Journal of Medicine attributed the outbreak to a phenomenon known as ‘mass psychogenic illness’, which occurs when the fear of infection spreads just as virulently as the disease itself. The students and staff had decided that, based on the behaviour of those around them, there was a real threat they needed to be afraid of.

What does this mean? Should we disregard this “virus” as a hoax? Absolutely not. We should absolutely be aware of it and EDUCATE ourselves. How can we educate ourselves? By seeking valid medical advice from a variety of trusted, credible and reputable sources. Always carefully consider the source.

Listening to media channels and reading internet speculations from people with no verifiable credentials (especially for any length of time) is NOT recommended.

Relying on speculation, gossip and participating in mass hysteria rarely results in a good outcome. We are our own best care-takers and advocates. Further, understanding that we can only control ourselves and that which is truly within our control is liberating. If we can focus on that while remaining calm, we begin to set an example for others.

What else? Perhaps turn off the tube/social media speculations (or at least limit) and GET BUSY. Take control of your present. Today is a gift. Use it. Treasure it. Sew. Quilt. Create. Go ahead. Let your inner artist acknowledge and express any fears you are experiencing. It’s OK to do this and let it out in a constructive manner. Make something for yourself. Make something for someone else. Check on family members, neighbors and friends (you can do all this from a distance via phone, text, email). Shine your light by doing something positive that is meaningful to you. I’ll do things that are meaningful to me. All together when we shine our lights, we make a difference. These things are healthy and good. In the DOING of shining our light of love we take back our power, find purpose and create/stimulate our own well-being.

In summary: Remain calm. Control intake of information and limit exposure to fear mongering. Educate using credible sources and resources. Take known preventative measures after evaluating several reputable sources. DO SOMETHING/ANYTHING POSITIVE.

I am not a scientist, medical expert or psychiatrist. I am just a girl who loves YOU and others. I want the best for you and for all of us. Life is so short and we are all only here for a little while. Let’s dig deep for that light of love and shine it brightly.

With that…it’s time for me to get back to my projects for the day. Happy sewing, quilting and creating. Let’s get back to looking for the good in life and really living it. Love is the answer. Forward is the way. WE CAN DO THIS!

Top 10 Troubleshooting Tips for Skipped Stitches

  1. Incorrect Threading of Machine
  2. Worn or Bent Needle
  3. Incorrect Needle Type
  4. Incorrect Needle Size for thread and/or materials being sewn
  5. Incorrect Top Thread Tension
  6. Incorrect Bobbin Thread Tension
  7. Incorrect Thread Type for the Project
  8. Too much tension or tugging on the project under needle (sewing or quilting)
  9. Sewing machine needs cleaning and/or lubricating
  10. Sewing machine needs servicing (deeper mechanical issues)

Number 1. The first–and easiest–thing you want to check is your thread path. Maybe you don’t think that could possibly be “it”. I get it. You may know how to thread your machine blindfolded in the dark and it might have worked just fine yesterday using the same thread you’re using now. BUT…but…but sometimes things get bumped or knocked out of place. Hey. It happens. So, simply double check your thread path. Better yet. Completely start over. Unthread it and carefully re-thread your machine according your your sewing machine manual. Check it. Has the problem been solved? If not, proceed down the list.

Numbers 2 – 4. The next 3 items on the list involve your needle. So, let’s just cut to the chase. Remove the old needle and replace it with a fresh, new, high quality needle that is the correct type and size for the threads and materials you are using and the type of sewing you are doing. I recommend Superior Needles for domestic machines.

Longarm quilter? Groz Beckert Needles are a good choice if you’re using a longarm, but be sure to choose the right needle for your machine (see machine manual or manufacturer recommendations).

Whether you are on a domestic machine, industrial machine or longarm quilting machine, your machine manual and manufacturer are your go-to sources for the type of needles your machine requires.

OKAY! Once you’ve got your new needle in place, go ahead and stitch another sample. Problem solved? If not, let’s continue down the list.

Number 5 and Number 6. These both involve the tension settings on your machine thread path (top) and bobbin case. PLEASE refer to your sewing machine manual for instructions on how to make these adjustments. If you do not have a manual, you may wish to contact your sewing machine dealer or an authorized repair person for assistance. Additionally–related to thread tension–it’s possible your thread is unwinding too loosely on it’s own before being fed through the machine. To check this, place a test piece of fabric under your needle and observe the thread coming off the spool as you stitch. A Handy Net placed over your thread spool or cone can quickly eliminate this problem.

Number 7. Use a good quality thread that is meant for the materials you are sewing and type of sewing you are doing. For example, a very heavy thread that is made for sewing upholstery is not going to work well on delicate lingerie or quilting fabrics; nor is a very fine thread going to work well on heavy or thick fabrics like denim (though in this case the problem is more likely to be breakage).

Number 8. Are you attempting to pull your project around under the needle? This is often the cause of skipped threads when attempting free-motion quilting at a fast speed. I strongly recommend SLOWING DOWN. Free-motion quilting is kinda like dancing, and your machine is your partner. If you are moving faster than your partner OR you have the pedal to the metal and it is moving faster than you, somebody may get their toes stepped on (or fingers sewn–OUCH!) or stitches may get skipped. Skipped stitches may also occur as a result of sewing a very heavy or large project that places a lot of weight pulling under the needle. Try adding support for your project (perhaps placing support tables or chairs around your machine to hold the weighty bulk of your project).

Number 9. Clean and lubricate your machine from top to bobbin according to your sewing machine manual.

Number 10. If none of the above have worked, the cause may be related to a deeper mechanical or technical issue. Parts wear out from time to time as they age or if they are heavily used. It happens. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or you don’t love your sewing machine. It may just be time to make an appointment for professional servicing.

Holy Super-Sized Spooky Sweetpea!

Giant Sweetpea PodsJust one 18″ square of vinyl mesh and some rick rack, ribbon, an extra long zipper (recommend ByAnnie’s 4yd package) and two zipper pulls will make 2 Spooky-Sweet Treat Pods of Deliciousness. The ones I made (above) have made fun Halloween candy dishes for my desk and coffee table.  They’re virtually un-breakable and they pack away easily.

You’ll need to use zipper yardage for these extra big pods.  Cut the zipper several inches longer than the longest side of your triangle (see your Sweetpea Pod pattern for basic cutting instructions).

Also keep in mind– if you’re going to swap out the zipper pulls to a different color than your zipper tape–you must be sure to use the SAME BRAND and SAME SIZE pull as the tape. Test your zipper tape and pulls for compatibility BEFORE using in your project.  Not all zipper brands will work.

It’s SEW FAST and SUPER EASY to make super-sized vinyl mesh Sweetpea Pods because you omit the interfacing and lining steps.  For the zipper pull strings, I used thin strips of recycled bicycle tube, but you could choose to dangle a spider charm from a jump-ring or use almost anything interesting.

If you don’t have the LazyGirl Sweetpea sewing pattern yet, what are you waiting for?!? Get it ON SALE NOW. Click here and order yours today.

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Gifty Tags: Quick & Cute Gift Card Holders and Ornaments for Your Holiday Tree

Last year I had SO much fun whipping up these adorable Gifty Tags that I need to get busy and have a new slew of finished tags and card holders on hand:


Using mere scraps of leftover fabric, some thread, some Stiff Stuff and some buttons, I created colorful ornaments and gift card holders using the Lazy Girl Designs Gifty Card Holder sewing pattern, ON SALE NOW at SewThankful, click here to order yours.  You could use this style as a package gift tag as well. And the recipient of the gift can recycle it for future giving…it’s like a 2fer.

NOTE:  Stiff Stuff is currently sold out and unavailable from the manufacturer.  They expect to have it available again in mid-late October this year (2017).  I suggest substituting Soft & Stable until Stiff Stuff becomes available again.

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Make an easy and accurate template!

I am frequently asked how I make templates for projects.  I’ve tried many methods over the years, but the one that works best for me and is absolutely the fastest, easiest and most accurate (in my opinion) is this:

1.  Always protect the original pattern/template piece.  Make a photocopy of your original template piece (make sure it is 100% the original size).

2. Use your favorite adhesive (i.e., I use regular school gluestick or fabric fix spray adhesive) and lightly but thoroughly coat the RIGHT side of the paper template.  Be sure not to over saturate or distort the paper.

3. Place a piece of Quilters Vinyl  or Collins Template Vinyl on top of the paper template (adhesive side to the vinyl).  The Quilters Vinyl should be slightly larger than the template piece(s). Make sure to smooth out any wrinkles.

Quilters Vinyl

Collins Template Vinyl Sheets

  • Collins Template Vinyl is available at SewThankful in a package of six  8.5″ x 11″ Sheets.  I ****LOVE**** to use these sheets when I’m making templates that take up the majority of an 8.5″ x 11″ page.

4. Allow adhesive to dry a few moments.  Check to make sure you’ve got a good adhesion of paper to vinyl.  If needed, add a little more glue or spray around any loose edges and allow to dry.

5. Carefully cut out template piece on the lines using nice, clean, sharp scissors so you have smooth edges.  Oh…did I mention?  Quilters Vinyl and Collins Vinyl are SO EASY to cut.  It’s like buttah baby…uh huh!

VOILA!  You have a FABULOUS template ready for tracing.  It’s perfectly cut and labeled with all the markings because you are using the actual paper template :-).  Template making joy…YES!