A Constant, Powerful Truth: The Sun Rises & The Sun Sets Every Day

It’s true.

No matter if there is chaos and confusion in the world. No matter if times are good or bad. As long as life on earth continues, the sun will rise and the sun will set each day.

The following three pictures capture an exceptionally stunning sunset this past Wednesday, March 26, 2020. The sequence was taken over approximately a three minute span.

I felt overwhelmed, humbled and blessed to have the opportunity immerse myself in this powerful experience. As it started, the bright yellow cast felt so intense it was eerie, unsettling and almost foreboding. But I stayed still. I waited and observed. I could not believe the incredible progression to the most incredible beauty I’ve ever seen in the skies. (These pictures which have not been filtered or adjusted are OK but don’t begin to show the true intensity). This experience was an excellent reminder that our human problems are truly small and insignificant in comparison to the ever powerful, constant truth which we have absolutely no control over.

To worry about the sun rising and setting would be silly because we can’t control that in the least (and that’s probably a very good thing).

I honestly believe the same goes for what is happening around the world right now.

All we can do is our best every day. We don’t know all the answers and how everything is going to play out. We have no control over this thing. To allow ourselves to become consumed with excessive worry serves no purpose other than to paralyze and weaken us; and it will diminish hope, strength and resolve both within us and in our children and grandchildren for generations to come.

So what do we do? Should we succumb to the fear mongers? Should we join in the fear mongering? Should we just give up and wait for the government to take care of all our needs?

I say, “No! We must each do the best we can. Individually and collectively. EVERY. DAY. We listen to the still, small voice inside of us and we get busy. We get really honest about what we CAN do every day to make our lives better for ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors, our communities and we don’t wait for anyone to do it for us. We take back our power by remaining calm and controlling our own thoughts and our own actions. And it IS still very possible to do these things and follow the current safe social distance and shelter in place protocols.

There has never been a better time than right now to love, to be kind, to be thankful, to share, and most especially to offer hope to our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Let’s take this opportunity to teach them how to stand strong in the face of adversity. Let’s teach them: How to sew. How to mend. How to fix things instead of throwing them away and getting new. How to clean up after themselves and help out more in the household. How to bake & cook. How to plant a garden (yes, even in a small apartment, one can grow a few things in containers–and it’s incredible how good home grown veg tastes!). How to can and preserve. Let’s teach them that they can be part of something bigger than themselves and the video games they play while they wait for you (or someone else) to take care of everything for them.

At the end of every day, the sun will set.
It’s more powerful than magic. It is a constant, powerful, indisputable truth.

Jeff and I send you warm wishes of love, good health, safety and peace. There is STILL sew much to be thankful for.

FINISHED: Twister Sofa Back Pillows Re-Cover Project

With all that’s going on in the world right now, I must admit that I found it very difficult to focus and force myself to finish this Twister Pillows sofa back pillows re-cover project. That said, I am so very glad I did.

Pushing through the daily madness and finding my rhythm in sewing and quilting the new pillow covers was actually quite healing. I guess because I was doing something that I “COULD DO” instead of worrying and being caught up in the insanity. And at the end of the day, I had something to show for it.

Quick recap. Here’s the BEFORE sofa look:

Here is the AFTER:

As mentioned previously, I needed to make my pillow covers larger than the pattern so I simply enlarged the borders. I also decided to apply a scrappy binding instead of the prescribed “turning” method which would have been OK, but I love the look of the scrappy binding.

The Twister Pillows pattern offered directions for two methods of closure on the back: Envelope Style and Zipper Closure. I opted for the zipper closure and I really like the professional feel and finish. Here are a few shots of that:

Twister Pillow Back Side – Zipper Closure Finish
Twister Pillow Back Side Zipper Detail
Zipper Detail Close-Up

There you have it!

I loved the process of making my Twister Pillows! In fact, after I finish a couple other small projects, I would really like to design and make a coordinating Twister Table Runner to put on our coffee table that sits in front of the sofa.

What do you think?

Do the new pillow covers improve the look of our living room?

Have you ever made Twister Pillows or any projects using the Lil Twister Tool?

I’d love to hear your constructive comments and sharing below!

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!

I Broke the (Quilting) RULES! And I like It.

Quilting on my domestic sewing machine using standard only the standard foot. No freemotion quilting. No walking foot.

Using my domestic sewing machine (it’s an older Juki TL98E straight stitch only machine) and it’s regular foot, I quilted my Twister Pillows with an orange slice design in each blade of the pinwheel.

Why did I choose to use my regular foot instead of freemotion quilting or walking foot?

Because I could and I wanted to see how they would turn out.

Be sure to scroll all the way down to view all pictures as the 4th pic shows the quilting from the back side. Surprisingly, it turned out pretty great. At least I think think it is and since it’s my quilt (pillows), my opinion is the only one that matters on this project!

ALSO…while I was doing quilting, I started thinking all this might be good to share publicly. Especially for new quilters, very young quilters or those who can’t afford or don’t want to spend big bucks on fancy machines or even purchasing a walking foot or an old machine. You see, I remember having absolutely NO budget for these things when I first started machine quilting and had little babies at home. That didn’t mean I couldn’t make nice things. It just meant I needed to be a little more aware and take my time if I wanted things to turn out right. For example, I needed to have the quilt sandwich basted really well (another blog article will be coming shortly on that). I decreased the pressure of my presser foot so there was less drag. I realize not all machines offer that option and you can still do this even if your machine doesn’t have that feature, but if yours does you may want to play with that a bit.

Pillow #4 quilted!

This design was very easy to stitch continuously. By that I mean I had no need to stop, cut threads and tie off anywhere unless a thread broke or the bobbin ran out. Simple stop/pivots were the only slowdowns.

Sew…how did I actually DO it? By the numbers, of course.

Quilting By The Numbers!

Using the picture above, imagine sewing toward the next ascending number, as follows: #1. Start at center of the pillow’s center most pinwheel secure a few stitches. From there stitch a gentle arc up the long edge of one blade of the pinwheel. #2. Stop. Needle down, lift presser foot, turn quilt, lower presser foot, stitch a deeper arc returning back to the center stopping at #3. Needle down. Lift presser foot, turn quilt, lower presser foot, stitch a gentle arc to #4. Stop. Needle down, lift presser foot, turn quilt, lower presser foot, stitch a deeper arc returning back to the center at #5. Repeat this on the remaining two blades of the pinwheel (i.e., follow the quilting lines to #6, #7, #8 and return to very center for the last time #9).

Once each blade of the pinwheel has been stitched, put needle down in the very center again. Lift presser foot, turn quilt to aim for the next pinwheel block and #10 carefully stitch in the ditch to the center of the next pinwheel. If you do this correctly, you will be able to travel to the next pinwheel without needing to remove the quilt from your machine.

After I finished quilting each of the pinwheels, I simply did a wonky echo spiraling around the outside of the pinwheel design until the entire quilt was quilted (relatively) evenly.

Are you wondering how the back turned out?

The back side of quilted Twister Pillow #4

I was pleasantly shocked at how nice the back of the quilt top looks! In the end it doesn’t matter at all for this project because this is a pillow top and this back will be inside of the pillow and completely unseen.

You know, I never seem to be able to follow a pattern’s instructions 100%. I always end up having to add my own twist. This project is no exception when it came to finishing. I chose the zippered pillow back option. The pattern instructions are well written and the results are really professional looking. So I did follow the instructions on that part, but I decided to take it a step further this time. Instead of turning, I decided to apply a scrappy binding. I pieced random fabrics from the top to make the binding. Yes, it took more time. But I just LOVE the results!

Any why not?! It is MY quilt (my quilted Twister Pillow), after all!

What do you think? Have you ever quilted using just your regular foot? How did it turn out? I genuinely welcome all related, constructive thoughts, ideas and comments below.

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.