May 27, 2011

Armchair needlework organizer - tutorial

Yesterday I was looking around and saw something I liked on the net and decided to make my own according to my wishes, with some improvements - an armchair needlework organizer. I just hate getting up to get everything I need or playing peek a boo with the scissors!
First of all I measured my favorite armchair to find out the needed size for the needlework organizer. You don't want it to be too big, or you will forever sit down on it. If your armchair is another size than mine, you should change the sizes accordingly.


# 1 - 2 x   35x24 cm  (14"x9 1/2") background
# 2 - 2 x   10x11 cm (4"x4") pin cushion
        2 x   12x24 cm (5 3/4"x9 1/2") pockets

1 keyring or lanyard (thanks beecee!)
8 cm (3 1/2") cotton ribbon for cross stiches
6 cm (2 1/2") velcro. I hope velcro is the correct name; in German it is Klettverschluss, in Swedish kardborreband
some filling


1. First of all I made the upper seam on the pockets (12x24 cm).

2. Then I sewed the velcro to the pincushion. I chose the soft side, in case I later want to use the pincushion somewhere else.

3. Now I made the pincushion in the usual manner. Put the right sides together and make a seam almost all around, leaving a gap where you can turn the inside out.

4. Fill the pincushion with whatever you use for filling and sew the gap together by hand.

5. Make a long ribbon out of one of the fabrics. I cut a 2 cm (1") piece out of the whole width of my pocket fabric, ironed it through the middle and then once again on both sides (just like for binding). Then I sewed the whole lenght and cut pieces as I needed them. 2 pieces for the fastening of the organizer (21-22 cm/8 1/2")), 1 short piece for the key ring (13 cm/5") and the rest for the scissors. You had better decide for yourself how long you need your ribbons. I chose a long one for the scissors because I don't want to bend everytime I'm using the scissors. The keyring is for plastic bobbins, thread holders, can openers or some other items you may need.

6. Sew the keyring and the scissors to the ribbons. Your scissors will never again get lost :-)

7. Now back to the main part. Attach the pockets at both ends of one of the background pieces with needles and arrange the velcro, the cotton ribbon, the keyring and the scissors as you like. The cotton ribbon is used for storing needles, so you should only sew the short end the better access the needles.

  Then sew them, when you are satisfied with the arrangement.

8. Next sew a seam in the middle of the pockets, or you can choose different sizes for the pockets depending on what you plan to put in them. I sewed a couple of times forwards and back to strenghten the seam. Make only the middle seams; the rest will be taken care of later.

9. Next iron some stabilizer to the background fabric and attach one ribbon where you see it fit. I tried to find the optimal place with trial and error. It all depends on the lenght of your ribbons and the contents of your organizer.

10. The second ribbon comes between the right sides of the background fabric, the long side to the middle. Not like I did it! Jackie the (seam)ripper got busy once again.

 10. Sew almost all around, leaving some space open to turn the organizer inside out. At last make a seam all around on the right side to make a nice finish.

Ta dah! Your armchair organizer is ready for a lot of fun.

  The best thing is that you can take it with you where ever you go!

This was my first tutorial! It is so unbelievable I think I'll walk on water next...
My needlework holder is already stuffed with petals and thread for Joseph's coat and I'm in heaven. No need to get up and look for the next suitable petal. A timble, measuring tape and quilt needles have also found their way into the pockets. Why didn't I think about this years ago?
Please leave a comment if you use this tutorial. I'd just love to know; maybe some pictures?

By the way; I've  found the most adorable threadholders.
There are a lot more of them at the same place and I ordered 4, but I can't show them now as they are somewhere else at the moment.


May 26, 2011


Yesterday my daughter and I went shopping to IKEA. Anina from Twiddletails had some good advice about storing your UFOs and I decided to give it a try.  So I bought 10 small boxes in clear plastic (Samla) and some bigger ones for the flimsies. I put 1 UFO in each box and added an index card with the vital information (pattern, fabric, date, blocks needed, blocks already made) The idea was to limit the number of UFOs to 10 and I think that is good advice. You can only start with something new if, and when a box is empty.

I used to  keep my UFOs in plastic zip bags and the ones I was working on, or planning to work on next, were stored on the window sill. In consequence I used a lot of time looking for some thing or other. The platic bags don't take up much space, but you have an unlimited supply of platic bags at your disposal and can always get more at the supermarket. For someone without any sense of restraint like myself it is not a good thing. For the boxes is you have to go to IKEA to get more and then you have time to think it over.
 I also sorted through my cross stiches and put my DMCs in order. I have 282 different shades; thats a lot. My Metz and Danks blommegarn floss is still hiding, but I'm confident they will show up again.

All this sorting and organizing only because I'm desperate. I live in a HHH (health hazard hole)! There is not much I can do about it, so I try to occupy my mind with other things. I just can't show up on Monday at the threadmill and tell my employer my arm is still sore because I had to do some serious housecleaning.  Or perhaps I may fall from some ladder or other. Not a good idea, as I work in the field of occupational health and safety and cannot claim any ignorance in this matter.

May 25, 2011

Opening a new can of worms and a give away

Sorry for my absence. I've bin on sick leave the last couple of weeks because I overstrained my right arm. I've been strictly forbidden to use it, so I haven't been able to do much of anything besides read, sleap and put on some more weight. It has been both relaxing and hard on me. It was hard to keep my hand away from all kinds of needles and keyboards, but as I'm not overly ambitious in household matters it was mostly good. The house could use a good cleanup and it is starting to bother me that I cannot do anything. Don't get me wrong; I'm not usually keeping up intensive care unit standard, but I try to keep up normal appereances. Guess I'm just the usual house and garden variety (lat. slobbus domesticus; not slutty vulgaris!).
I've tried to use only my left hand, but have you ever tried to brush your teeth with your left hand?
If you have, you know what I'm talking about. And yes; I'm stabbing around with the left index on the keyboard instead of the usual 10 fingers. No fun here!
Enough of sobbing and down to matters!

On my last trip to the attic I found a lot of cross stich UFOs and I've decided to
  1. start a new list for the cross stich UFOs
  2. have another give away
  3. to chuck a lot of things
This is how far I've got:

It is a old sampler I started on many years ago, but the last corner wasn't finished. Well, tomorrow it is going to get a frame and will be hanging on the walls together with my other 10-15 samplers.

This is a christmas table topper just waiting for a border, but I cannot find the right floss. I've made it with Dansk blommegarn and it is in a box somewhere, probably in the attic as well.

These three are waiting for a decision. I haven't made up my mind if I should make some potholders or make some bags like the one I made a couple of weeks ago for a neighbour. The pattern is something I've made up myself, but it isn't optimized yet, so I'll share it later with you. Promise! The stitching is based on a free pattern from Red Brolly. They have a lot of fun stitching; a visit is well worth the time!

What do you think I should do?

The next two items I'm giving away. You could frame them or use them for something else, just as you like. Please leave a comment if you are interested.

The motives are old doors in Germany and both stitchings are made with Dansk blommegarn on linen. They are about 15x20 cm and in very good condition. There were more patterns but I can't find the paper.
I've a lot more UFOs, but we'll see about them later. ok?

May 7, 2011

About UFOs and their leftovers

In January this year I did a very brave thing; I counted my UFOs. As it turned out I had 25 of the kind.
Of course they weren't beamed down on earth overnight. As a quilting newbie I wanted to try everything I saw and I just love messing around with colors and different fabrics. In my defence I have to say that I usually don’t put a project aside because I’ve got bored with it. No, it is because
  •   I have run out of some material or other
  •   I don’t know how to proceed
  •   I’m uncomfortable with the colors or pattern
I don’t mind UFOs so much, but enough is enough so I decided on this monthly plan:
  •  1 UFO finished
  •  2 blocks of Joseph’s coat
  •  4 blocks of Dear Jane
  •   1 block of Kansas mystery quilt
  •    no new projects until a lot of the UFOs have disappeared
  •  to have fun and not to care about some stupid plans
One important part of my plan was to have a blog of my own and to meet some sisters (or brothers) in spirit. Now this one has  finally been taken care of. I’m still not happy about the design and the contents of my blog, but I’m working on it. Just bear with me for some time; I have tons of ideas coming up. I just cannot do the underground work as fast as I would like to.

During the first three months of the year I mainly worked on three big projects. The first one was the Mystery star quilt from the Fat Quarter shop. It was a BOM and they sent you one block every month. It was fun to get these tiny parcels with the fabrics and the pattern for the next block. I wasn't so sure about my sewing abilities, so I postponed the sewing for almost one year and did some practice on other things in the meantime.

It was fun to make, but now I have been having doubts about my abilities to quilt (I'm upgrading my fears). I think I did mention something about it already. Now I have decided to quilt it by hand, but it sure will take some time. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

As a byproduct I’ve made 70 blocks out of the scraps from the Mystery star quilt. It will be a rather tradional Bear Paw quilt. I still need some 20 blocks more before I can gather it together. There are enough scraps left, so it is only a matter of time and patience.

The second big project was a flop, so we won’t lose any more time on that one. Come on; you had your fun with my Kaffee Fasset quilt and I can’t take any more depressions right now!

The third UFO I’m making for a couple of friends. In my opinion it is usually not a great idea to make anything for others, but in this case I made an exception. It is for two guys and I’m sure they are not so into quilting but will appreciate it. They have this beautiful place in the middle of nowhere and are lovingly improving it every day they are there. Beside the main house they have a lovely sauna with integrated guestroom. There is a kind of loft upstairs and there they keep a mattress for overnight guests. There is a wonderful view of the neighborhood from up there and you sometimes can see elks or other animals moving around. I wish I could show you some pictures but I have to ask their permission first. 

This place is just screaming for a handmade quilt and I chose Neptune by Moda. The coral is the same shade as in a oil painting hanging on the wall and the guys are keen sailors, so I suppose I couldn’t have chosen better. I did a lot of musing on this one (do they really want one, are the colors right…yak, yak). I decided on Scrappy floating stars. It is a very good  (free) pattern for beginners and it has so far been easy to make the blocks. Unfortunately I’m not very accurate yet, but I think it will turn our right. At the moment I’ve made 16 big blocks, but I still need some more and some borders as well.  

I bought 2 jelly rolls and one layer cake, so there are a lot of leftovers. I’ve cut the scraps already for a quilt from Schnibbles times two by Carrie Nelson. The pattern is called McGuffey. It looks a bit like a cabin log. You know the style. As my decision not to start on any new projects is still standing (and we have May!) the parts are just waiting for their turn. Sometimes my fingers start itching, but if you start thinking about something else (like chocolate) it eventually goes away.

So far I’ve finished 3 UFOs and 16 blocks for Joseph’s coat as well as some odds and ends.

This was the first UFO.

It is the January tablerunner from Cottonway made with Simply Abundance. 

The second UFO was a Pinwheel baby quilt with prairie points, but the picture didn't turn out so well. Never mind, I chose the same colours as in the original pattern from Moda bake shop.

The third one is called  Christmas Table Topper and I made out of two charms packs of Winter Song. 

It was fun to make, but making a christmas topper in May makes me feel somewhat odd.

So far I’m making no progress on the Baby Jane or the Kansas mystery quilt. I'm thinking of rebooting the Baby Jane, but I haven't made up my mind yet. I making it in brown fabrics and they don't inspire me at all. I've also discovered that I don't like paper piecing.

I'll tell you sometime later everything about the Kansas mystery quilt. It is called the Kansas mystery quilt because I use fabrics from the Kansas Trouble Quilters and the design is still a mystery for me. 

Now I have to take care of the mess the birches have left me on the windowsills and throw some water at the flowers or they will see no tomorrow.

May 3, 2011

No quilting today

Just a few lines to tell you I've changed the pictures. My plans for the evening didn't go the way I planned, I seem to have hurt my right arm and cannot do much. So plan B is on; rehersal for ER16!

The first rose of the year

May 2, 2011

Free give away

As I started on my recent confessions I didn’t consider the consequences of my lines. Until the moment I published a picture of  my total failure as a quilter I was happily able to hide it in a closet and ignore it. Not so any longer.

Now I am forced to face it and to do something. No not on the ruined one; there are plenty other ones to choose from.

Of course I have thought about giving my tops away to a quilting service, but we are talking Germany… They want real money for the service. More money than I’m willing to pay anyway.

As I’m clearly not able to quilt with the sewing machine (or too scary to give it another try) quilting by hand is the last option. Well, I told you about my new book and you saw the cover. It still gives me the creeps.

The instructions were clearly not made for me, although they appear very easy. I made a quilt sandwich as instructed and started with a few stitches in the dimple style. It didn’t work. I didn’t use a frame, so the next step was to find my hoop. I reorganized my workroom some years ago and put all my cross stitch works along with the hoop away in the attic. By the way; I don’t know why anyone goes to junk sales. I haven’t got any need for it. I can just go to the attic and have the same feeling, but without the price tags and all the people milling around. I can still haggle though. I haggle with myself – should this "treasure" go to the bin now, or should it lie around for some years more?

After clearing some space I found some unbelievable things.  Look at this one! What was I going to do with this one? It is a sampler about half finished. I still have the pattern, so I could have a go at it, bit I don't think I will in the near future. I used to do lots of cross stich some years ago, but suddenly it wasn't fun anymore. Well perhaps the hype will return one day.

All of the UFOs are in very good shape, but I don’t know why I made them, so clearly I don’t need them anymore. Why not have a give away; perhaps someone would appreciate the work more than I do. My walls are already full with samplers. 
I will start the give away with this one. It is a cotton ribbon handmade with DMC floss. It is 3 meters long and you could use it for some towels. Or perhaps you have better ideas for it?

Just leave a comment and I will send it to you. If there is more than one comment I will pick one randomly. Deadline is Monday, 9th of May. If you want it you should take the chance as you are probably the only one on earth to read my postings. By the way; I don’t mind if you live in Timbuktu or overseas, as long as you have a post office somewhere near.

In the meantime I’ll ramble on. I didn’t find the frame so I went to a quilt shop some 10 kms from here. There I bought a bigger  frame than the one I had before, quilting yarn and some needles. After that I went to a drugstore and bought a bag of something that looks like condoms for the fingers. I don’t know what these thinggummies are for, probably not to get ugly blood stains on the quilt.

All preparations made I’ll start tonight on my Star mystery quilt (sorry, no picture, it is too dark) and we’ll see how I get along.That is if I don’t do my usual rehearsal in front of the TV as a guest star in ER 16 acting a brain-dead patient. I must say most days when I get home I'm perfectly suited for the role – absolutely no brain activity at all!