Valentine Towel for Coach


This is Joy, my bubbly, enthusiastic, encouraging exercise coach at the Herbalife Nutrition Club in downtown DeLand.   When asked about her plans for upcoming Valentine’s Day, which fell on a day of our regular exercise class, Joy said that her guy, (a nurse) was working a double shift that day.  So the only celebration would be with her children.

This little tea towel certainly is no substitute for wine, roses, chocolate, and the man in her life, but it was a small reminder that others love and appreciate her.


heart balloons from Zundt designs, towel from All About Blanks


Joy runs the fit camp called “Fit over Fifty,” which I attend regularly.  She is a miracle worker, having succeeded in making me want to come exercise.   I’ve NEVER liked exercise or anything that makes me perspire.  I don’t even like to work hard enough to break a sweat rotary cutting fabric!  The class is low impact and fun.   Though clearly the oldest attendee, I think some of those girls should be carded.  I wonder if they truly are eligible for Fit over Fifty! But this old gal goes anyway.

As a matter of fact, when I was a relatively fit high schooler, I was required to participate in the annual, mandatory 600 yd. walk/run.  I don’t recall just why it was required, but it had something to do with assessment of youth fitness in the schools.  It did not affect our grade, but was a required activity. We were to run as long as possible then walk until we could resume running. I took shameless  pride in placing last every year.  There was no medal for last place, but I didn’t care.  I walked the entire 600 yds., avoiding a sweat. PE was not the last class of the day!

So for Joy to have motivated me to exercise regularly and enjoy it (well, I enjoy the camaraderie) is quite an achievement.  I am so appreciative of her encouragement and support and I feel soooo much better!  This little towel was a small kindness for all she does.

These words by favorite contemporary philosopher, Mary Engelbreit,  seem to be written just for Joy.



P.S.  I had to smile when Joy, with a big grin on her face, asked if I made this with my serger.  Bless her heart.  Clearly, fitness, not sewing, is her strength.



Free Design for Minnie’s Birthday Playsuit

The floral borders below each of the Minnie designs are offered as FREE downloads at the blog web site. The Minnie designs are for sale at


This cute and cool little play outfit was made for Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial.  Minnie turned 60 years old in January so the blog post was a part of the birthday celebration.   As a “paid consultant” (inclusion of this info is required), I designed this and wrote the step-by-step tutorial, posted here.

As much as I love lengthy, complicated projects like an heirloom Easter dress or intricate quilt, there is a lot of satisfaction from making a quick and easy outfit for our little ones.  This  play suit certainly fits the bill.

Both the yoke lining and the piping are made with gray gingham, like the shorts. Lime green buttons stitched with hot pink serve as closures for the shoulders.

This is the first time I have used the delightful ruffled rick rack.  A machine stitched hem is never as attractive as one which is hand stitched. Three rows of polka dot trim covered the machine stitching and added an extra bit of whimsy to the outfit.


The two “watercolor” Minnie designs in gray and pink offer a fresh color palette for Minnie.  One is on the top and the other on the shorts.

The dress is a white twill, sturdy enough for playground activity and the gray gingham shorts with their elastic banded waist are comfortable.  The cotton gingham is too lightweight for a stitch intensive design such as this Minnie.  So it was worked as an applique’.  Again, the ruffled rick rack covered the machine sewn hem.


Perfect for a trip to Disney or a Disney themed birthday party, this is equally appropriate for a playdate or a day at preschool.

The designs are available at for owners of Brother Disney machines. More information and photos are posted at Stitching Sewcial.   But the outfit could be made with other designs, giving you the satisfaction of a quick project and some little girl the joy of a new garment.



Valentine Free Fil Tire’ Heart


With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I am again offering this free fil tire’ heart design.  There are many new readers who might enjoy this and some older readers who might have missed it.  The design is so suitable for this holiday celebrating love.  And what says love better than a heart?

I so appreciate the support and encouragement you dear readers have given me  through the years.  For the some time now I have been extraordinarily busy and posts have been few and far between. And yet you still stop by to read my infrequent chats. I thank you for that.

For this day celebrating love, I am offering this free machine embroidered fil tire’ heart, along with wishes for love each day.  Just leave your request for the design as a comment at the bottom of this post.

The wing needle design is very versatile.  I’ve used it in combination with other designs on thees baby pillows.



It stitches beautifully on Swiss flannel, as seen on this baby shawl.


This is how it really looked.  Below the image is shown with contrast to show more detail.


The design was reinterpreted on the bodice of Judith Dobson’s tea dress.



I wish each of you a happy Valentine’s Day with lots of love.  And spread some around, ok?




Sewing Ho-Hum and Holy Holy

Life at our house goes on at a breakneck pace, causing me to neglect posting as regularly as I would like.  But my sewing room is a beehive of unreported activity, not all of it very interesting.

Wouldn’t you love to sew only creative, fun items?  Does anyone get to do that?   Check out an earlier ho-hum post for an interesting view of what constitutes fun sewing elsewhere, like  “baju kurung, kebaya, punjabi suit.” Just how much fun would it be to sew a punjabi suit? More fun than I had with these projects.



But duty calls and I have a running list of  ho-hum sewing which is in addition to routine mending.  These ho-hums become occasions for which my sewing machines can actually save some money.  While there is no creative satisfaction, there is the satisfaction of contributing to the family, being a helpmate to my dear husband, and  satisfaction in proving that my Brother Dream Machine is more than just an expensive toy.


Mending pool leaf filter baskets….yawn…


How’s this for ho-hum”?  These basket liners for our pool leaf filter cost about $15 each.  Regularly, the netting tears and requires replacement OR ho-hum mending.  Can any of you dear readers beat this for ho-hum?



I didn’t even bother to match thread color as I mended the mesh bag with a triple zig zag stitch.  I did, however, cover the bed of my machine with a piece of washway stabilizer to keep the embedded leaf debris from dropping in through the needle hole.  There is nothing pretty or creative about these repairs, but they make my husband grin with each of the 3-4 patches I make before he has to replace the basket liner.

Then there is always puppy damage to deal with.  How ugly is this, Samson’s collar?

triple zig zagged with an added backing of denim


I’ve posted occasionally about our puppies–now exactly 1 year old, 95 lbs each and still growing.


Delilah and Samson, 10 weeks old


We are crazy about their affectionate, calm nature and their intelligence.  But sweet Delilah loves to pull brother Samson’s collar off and chew it up.  This is his third $10 collar since he grew into this size 3 months ago.  And what you see is collar #3’s third repair. That’s a $30 savings.  I just wish I had mended the earlier collars.  Who knew this was to become Delilah’s favorite recreation?

Of course, the savings of the mended collars does little to  make up for my two  pairs of $160 “almost orthopedic” athletic shoes the pups destroyed, along with the $500 custom orthodic inserts.   Even my Dream Machine was unable to fix that!  I have no photos but plenty of grim visual memories.  There was nothing to do but throw them in the trash and order more.

Clearly neither Samson nor Delilah knew that was a bad thing to do or I’m sure that they would not have been so naughty. But as intelligent as they are, I would think they might have figured it out by now.



Holy Holy sewing is much more to my liking.  I love stitching for my church.

embroidered communion linens


Two 20″ hemstitched linen napkins were embroidered with these beautiful liturgical designs from ABC Embroidery’s Christian Symbols collection.  The designs have so much dimension. Currently the set is on sale, marked down from $47 (and well worth it!) to only $19.99.  I have used this collection again and again.  NOTE:  I have no affiliation other than that of a very satisfied customer.

As mentioned in an earlier post, our church burned to the ground several years ago.  Many of the amenities such as these communion linens are slowly being replaced.

I apologize for the poor quality of the photos, but it was late in the afternoon and the shadows on the back porch made it impossible to get a better shot.


This is the embroidery for the presenting corner as it covers the challis.


This design was embroidered on the other three corners.


To cover the communion host, this wheat design was embroidered on the presenting corner of the linen, facing the congregation.



The other corners were embroidered with the wheat design.



There has been more sewing to tell you about, but later.

So what have you been sewing?  Valentine  gifts?  Easter garments?  Please share your projects.  Inquiring minds want to know.







Kiss the Cook Dishtowel for Basic Machines


Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and many readers have already mentioned that they are working of projects for the day that honors love.

Many, of course, are stitching special outfits for their children or grands.  One dear grandmother is making 35 gifts for her grandchildren’s classmates, some pencil toppers and the others toothbrush wraps.  I’ve never heard of toothbrush wraps and think it’s something I need to find out about.  Do you know anything about them?

Others are creating gifts for family and friends.  Since not everyone has an embroidery machine, I’m going to be adding blog projects, like this dishtowel, which require only a basic machine.

This was one of the many SM1738 machine samples assigned to me by Brother.   It is very basic, with only 17 stitches.  They include 3 straight stitches–short, medium and longer, 3 zig zags –short and narrow, medium and wider, and longer and much wider, a blind hem and a few others, a look at the video shows how much can be done without all the bells and whistles that owners of high end machines enjoy.  I made all of those samples on this machine, except the pillowcase which was made by someone else.

You all know I LOVE my Brother Dream Machine, but there is much that can be done on a basic model. It’s likely we all started out with a simple workhorse. The SM1738 is much like my first sewing machine, which as a bride, I used to make curtains and pillows for our first home in 1968.  I thought it was to-die-for and stitched miles and miles of seams.  I wish I had had some creative suggestions then!

To make this towel, I used: a plain white dishtowel, 1/2 yd. kiss fabric, 2/3 yd. red and 2/3 black rick rack, regular sewing thread and monofilament thread.

Here’s how:

  1.  Cut away hem on dishtowel, leaving a raw edge.
  2.  Join kiss fabric to raw edge with turntube/burrito hem technique.  The tutorial calls for just 1/4 yd. of hem fabric.  But without embroidery, I wanted a larger hem.   The finished hem will be seam’s width less than half the fabric.  A quarter yard will render a hem approximately 3 1/2″ wide and the 1/2 yd. piece used on this towel created a hem of approximately 8 1/2″.  Just suit yourself or use available scraps.
  3. Twist red and black rick rack together.
  4. Baste through the center of rick rack with monofilament thread.
  5. Free motion with monofilament and #60 needle over humps of rick rack.
  6. Fold ends to back and tack in place.
  7. Remove basting stitches in rick rack.

Of course, any print with any color combination of rick rack could be used to make a special dish towel.  Kiss the Cook or any other text could be quickly hand embroidered. If you are lucky enough to have an embroidery machine, the addition of text would be a breeze.



With any sewing machine, you can create fabulous items for your family and friends.

Coming up in future Basic Machine posts are

  • an heirloom pillow complete with shadow pintucks, inserted Swiss beading, a monogram and shell tucks
  • Minnie Mouse dresses
  • Elsa costume
  • fabric greeting card
  • cell phone case
  • and more



Bye Christmas ’17 and Frozen X 25

Not exactly a Griswold house, but it was enough to please us. And there is more in the back around the pool.  Bob really wanted to please the children with all the lights. Lighted reindeer are perched on the garage roof, 4 snowflakes hang in front of the breakfast porch, candles are in the windows and my sewing room on the right is lighted up like an airport runway.  Should have turned that off before Bob snapped this shot.


I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  Good friends, good times, good food, and good worship makes this time of year so special.  But Christmas ’17 is over.

The lights and tree are down, all decorations are packed away and our precious family have all returned to their far away homes.  It was a wonderful, joyous time, but now it’s seems very quiet in this house.  Several of us were sick at various times, but that didn’t keep us from having fun.


Gotcha gang ready for the next round. The dogs insisted on being in the middle of it all and were more help in the finding than the hiding.  Laurel is wearing her new Theater Geek hoodie and Vivian Rose is in her beloved leopard print tutu dress.  Sigh…


We went to church, ate turkey and pie, drank gallons of eggnog and played our family’s traditional holiday games.  ” Gotcha” is a favorite of all four grandchildren.

Basically, it’s just Hide and Seek in the dark, with the use of on-off head lamps.  When “It” finally finds someone in the dark, he yells “Gotcha” and we all race back to the center of the yard so as not to give up a good hiding place.

Once when we reassembled, we noted Harvey’s absence.  Vivi announced that he was in the house.  “See, Daddy’s in the kitchen!”  And sure enough, there was Harvey clearly visible through the window, probably eating a cookie.  Nothing gets by that girl. Continue reading

Christmas Cat Dress


CC Lucy embroidered with a darling cat Christmas tree from Apex Embroidery


It’s rush, rush, rush around here and, except for you amazingly organized ladies,  I expect we are all scurrying around with Christmas preparations.

This season has been especially busy for me as I am working on an heirloom project for Brother’s Stitching Sewcial blog.  Hurrah!  But I only had time to make a simple CC Lucy Christmas dress for 4 yo Vivian Rose.  And of course, a matching bow tie for big brother Alastair.



I was tickled pink to find the cat Christmas tree in the huge and wonderful Apex Embroidery catalogue.  Of course, cat-lover Vivian was delighted when the package arrived. Continue reading

Maggie B’s Kitty Cat Ode to Joy

Maggie B’s Ode to Joy dress


My 4 yo granddaughter and I really love this Ode to Joy pattern by Maggie B.  It is offered to students in her on-line class with excellent directions and a multitude of step-by-step instructional pictures.  Our little dynamo is always on the go, in a hurry to get wherever and impatient with fussy button closures.  She’s a gal who has places to go, people to see, and things to do.  So just get on with getting dressed!

One of the best features of this little frock is that it simply pulls over the head like a tee shirt  No buttons, no buttonholes.


As you can clearly see, the neck binding is loosey goosey. It IS important to use the correct size elastic and worth a trip to the store if you don’t have it on hand. Lesson learned.


With it’s pop-over style and comfy fit, Ode to Joy is a favorite of our Vivian Rose.  The cat print is an added bonus, making it a very popular wardrobe choice. Continue reading

Precious Church Baby

flannel blanket for our newest church baby


Presenting a welcome gift to new babies at our church is a task I relish.  This purchased flannel blanket was embroidered for little Elise to wrap her in the warmth and the love of our congregation.  I do so love babies!



The text was arranged in Brother’s PE-Design.  The little angel cherubs are from Petite Designs, Brother’s card #20, one of my most often used collections. It is also available at here.  The corner embroidery nestled perfectly in my Brother Quattro 8×8 hoop. Continue reading

Thanksgiving Table Runner


Yes, I know Thanksgiving is over but life has been hectic around here.  I’m waaaaay behind!  But this could easily be made as a Christmas runner.  Keep that in mind.

This table runner was made for Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial.  It included two of my favorite sewing techniques, hemstitching and machine embroidery. A detailed photo tutorial is posted here

The hem of the pale sage linen was mitred and then hemstitched.  I just love hemstitching.  It gives such an elegant finish to just about anything.  My Brother Dream Machine (and all of my earlier Brother machines) executes this technique flawlessly.  This linen was fairly heavy so I used a large wing needle.

The embroidery design from is so nice for the end of a runner.  Only the colors gave it an autumn look and it stitches out perfectly. With other color and different seasonal text it could used again and again.



The opposite end read Thankful.


The companion embroidery was mirrored along the outer edges of the center, leaving room for a center piece.

Continue reading