Keychain Tutorial Posted ~ New Hints


pack pals for Alastair and his friends

Pack pals/ keychains for Alastair and his friends. I’m pleased to report that my keychain tutorial is posted at Brother’s website.  Any of these links will take you there.


I’m pleased to report that my keychain tutorial is now posted at Brother’s website.  Any of the links at the end of this post will take you there.

Apparently, I was not very clear about the felt.   A reader wrote with some questions,  asking if she needed to buy from a bolt.  My answers/comments are:

 I just buy the sheets at WalMart, JoAnn’s or Michaels.  They are 9×12″ or 12 x 18″.  The smaller soft one run about  $.25 each and the larger stiff ones about $.59.   Of course, you could use some by-the-yard felt, but I don’t think that comes in the stiff weight. 

When I first got on this jag, I used soft for both with a cutaway stabilizer for the first hooping.  But then I could not get rid of the felt beyond the outline and had to color it with a sharpie.  Still, the keychain was too floppy to suit me.  So I went with the stiff stuff. 

You can use stiff for both layers, but with my stiff hands, it is hard to cut through two layers of that. Now I always use stiff for the top but when I can’t find matching colored soft felt, I use stiff for both.

When I first heard about these keychains, I too was puzzled about their attachment to the backpacks.  I discovered that they just loop over the backpack shoulder strap with the embroidered piece slipping through the loop.  That is why you need such a long loop.  I’m guessing backpack straps are about 2″ wide, so that uses up 4″ of the ribbon loop.  Then the embroidery has to fit through the remaining opening.

A second tutorial for other machines was to be posted at this time.   But a wicked case of bronchitis and life in general got in the way.  I expect you know how that happens.  But it will be posted soon.


I have a cute story to share with you about these keychains.  You know how pleasing it is to know that your projects are appreciated by the recipients.  Those shown above were made for my 6 yo grandson, Alastair.

After receiving a keychain that had just the text Pokemon, he asked me if I would please make some Pokemon character keychains for him and his pals.  Additionally,  he asked if I could make a Frozen  keychain for his sweet friend Maddie.  I was on it in a New York minute.

The day after I mailed all 12 keychains to him, including 3 Frozen figures for Maddie, she approached Alastair’s mother after school.

Quietly and politely, she asked, “Do you think Alastair’s Nana could make me a Frozen thing like the Pokemon on his backpack? I would really like that.”

Immediately she was gently reprimanded by her mother for this bold request.  But my Rebecca, unaware that they were already in the mail,  assured her that perhaps she would have one for her birthday next month.

Now, a week later,  keychains have not yet arrived  (hurry up, USPS!!!).   I am so eager to hear her reaction to these special delights made just for her.

Each day since then I have been hoping it would arrive.   Children are always thrilled when there is a short time between asking and receiving.  I hoped Maddie would have an experience much like one my son experienced when he was 10.

About two weeks before the start of 5th grade, he spotted an ad in Boys’ Life magazine.  Immediately he sent off an order along with his hard earned chore money.   He deemed  these hard-to-find items useful for the new school year..  His plans for these items included shocking Merry who was always seated next to him  (alphabetically.) From her neatly organized desk  she frequently chided him for his untidy work space.

Ryan expected his merchandise within a few days.  Seven days after placing his order and 4 days of extra bike rides to our little post office, he wrote to the manufacturer.  The letter went something like this:

Dear Sir,

A week ago I ordered imitation vomit, garlic bubble gum, and fake dog poop.   I ordered these because I NEED them (his caps).  If I don’t receive them immediately, I will tell my friends about this and they will tell their friends and they will tell their friends.  Soon you will be out of the fake dog poop business. 

Call me immediately.

Ryan Ferguson


The next day, his “goods” arrived.  “See?” he said.  “It pays to complain!”

The first day of school, he put the imitation vomit on Merry’s chair and placed the dog poop in her desk.  I don’t know what he did with the garlic gum.


Crafting Category:

Embroidery Category:

Guests Category:

Kids Category:

Disney Category:

Let me know what you think of the tutorial and if you have any questions.  Happy sewing!

Keychain Tutorial -Work in Progress

Dear Readers,

Thank you for your enthusiastic interest in the keychain tutorial. It is well underway and should be posted toward the end of this week. I’ve finished the tute for The Dream, Quattro and Duetta and will get started on the others soon.

Meanwhile, you might want to stock up on some sheets of stiff craft felt and regular soft felt in matching colors.

Today, Monday, I have another fabulous class at The Sewing Studio in Maitland, FL.  The instructor, Lyn Powers, knows this machine, as well as Babylock’s Destiny, like the back of her hand.  This will be my 4th class with her, having already learned a great deal about the scanning mat, bobbin work, combining decorative stitches from the sewing side and importing them into hooped embroidery designs and more.

Those of us in central Florida are so fortunate to have The Sewing Studio, its knowledgeable staff,  incredible fabric selection and machine support.  FYI, I am nothing more than a long-time satisfied customer.  If you live in the area and have not checked it out, you really should. At the website you can take a short virtual tour.

In my class last week, the lady sitting next to me gave me a chuckle.  She said that she had moved to the area four years ago.  As she was looking at homes for sale, she happened upon The Sewing Studio and thought it was sewing heaven.  She almost did not buy the house of her dreams because it is just minutes from the store.  “I could afford the house,” she said.  “But could I afford it if I spent all my time and money here?’  She said it is like living on a non-stop diet, limiting her visits and purchases.

With this testimonial, I must say again that I have no connection whatsoever to this sewing heaven but that of a long term happy customer.

Now, to finish packing up for my class.  Then on to the keychain tutorial.

Keychains or Pack Pals–tutorial?

pack pals for Alastair and his friends

“Pack Pals” for our  grandson and his friends made entirely in the hoop of my Brother Dream Machine


It seems that children everywhere are dangling little characters and ornaments from their backpacks.  The description on one site tells it all:

“Want to dress up your backpack for school?  Keychains are a great way to make a statement about who you are…..Show your hobbies, express your beliefs, or tell who you are with one of our keychains today.”

Just see how many are for sale on one site alone.  Would you like a tutorial on how these can be made on any embroidery machine?

After embroidering 43 Pokemon Ninja headbands for our 6 year old grandson Alastair I made him a hanging embroidery with the text Pokemon.  It hung from his backpack and was admired by his friends.

When I offered to make more, he requested several to share with his Pokemon passionate pals.  Eleven were made, some to keep and some to share.  He is a kind-hearted, generous little guy who thinks of others far more often than I would expect from a kindergartner.

His sweet classmate  Maddie loves Frozen so he asked  if I would make some for her.  Laurel, his 11 yo cousin,  has dubbed them Pack Pals.



The Disney characters above and a matching backpack were embroidered on my Brother Quattro for a friend before Alastair’s were made.  A special feature on that machine as well as on The Dream Machine outlines any embroidery design with a straight stitch. and then adds a satin stitch.

After the embroidery and the outline stitch is finished, the piece is removed from the hoop and trimmed very close to the outline stitching.  A backing piece is then hooped and the outline stitch is repeated .  Excess outside that outline on the backing piece is trimmed away and the trimmed embroidery design is placed over it with a glue stick.  The satin stitch covers the raw edges and joins the two pieces together.  A ribbon is slipped between the two layers before the satin stitching.

I’d like to make  one with the name of grandson Robert’s flag football  team.  He could hang it from his athletic bag.  A ballerina could hang one from her dance bag.  An embroidery to match the nursery them would be cute hanging from a diaper bag, especially if it is made of materials that could be gnawed by a fussy baby.  These could be made for any child–or adult!

With a little more effort, a simpler version of the Pack Pals can be made on any  machine with hoop embroidery. If you would like a tutorial on this process, leave a comment.   After making so many keychains/pack pals, I have learned a few tricks that make the process easier.   I would like to share them with you if there is any interest.

You could make a child very happy with one or two Pack Pals.

Seaside Pinafore

pinafore front

Linny’s Pinafore Pattern by Mommy’s Apron Strings


Making this little summer pinafore for 2 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose was such fun.  I “tested”  Linny’s Pinafore by Mommy’s Apron Strings  and loved the results.


pini back

The star at the base of the placket was machine embroidered. It looks like a happy coincidence of fabric placement.  The novelty buttons are shells.


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Sewing Non-Stop

Sew busy!   Lately, of course, I’ve spent a lot of time getting acquainted with my new Brother Dream Machine.  But before my Dream came true,  I was kept busy with several small but important machine embroidery projects, like this one.


com bag text 2

The Scripture design is from Designs by Juju, in her collection Heavenly Inspirations 1. It was slightly modified to make room for the addition of the Bible design.


This was made for our 10 year old granddaughter, Laurel, who needed a bag to carry her sizable notebook and Bible to her weekly Communicant Class (read “confirmation”) at our church.


com bag mono 2


As you might expect, a monogram was added to the other side.  The bag has seen heavy usage these past weeks.

Another quick project was a set of whimsical luncheon napkins.   They coordinate with the Seaside Madeira Table Linens I stitched last summer.


The embroidery and gingham made this a more casual setting than the hemstitched linen napkins shown here.

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Dream Big! Updated


I’ve been dreaming big  for some time and now my dream has come true!


dream 1

My new Brother Dream Machine.  The hoop is filled with one of many built in Zundt designs.


The Dream Machine by Brother has me filled with awe.  The engineers who think up and design all these feature sare like Disney’s Imaginators.  They bring to life fantasies most have not yet imagined.  Just look at this video!




I can hardly stand my excitement for this machine and have spent considerable time playing with it this past week.  The project in the hoop above will be a companion pillow to this one,  made in such a fit of enthusiasm that I forgot to taper the corners.  The Zundt design is 7.4 x 13.6″ and stitches beautifully.



And it is overstuffed.  The next one will be better. Continue reading

Canterbury Cathedral Boys Choir

choir pic

choristers at Canterbury Cathedral in London


This weekend we were delighted to host two of the boys from England’s world famous Canterbury Choir.


choir brochure


Our Reformed church, St. Andrews Chapel in Sanford (near but not in Orlando as indicated on the program), was the last stop on their tour of the southern states.


choir st. andrewsCR.

Canterbury Choir at St. Andrews Chapel


The weekend was a series of incredible experiences.  Meeting these amazingly talented youngsters, hearing their glorious music, and learning about the Canterbury Cathedral where they live year round left us in awe. Witnessing the focus and determination of our young guests astounded us.

How different are the lives of these boys from that of our two homeschooled grandchildren who are nearly same age as our guests, 10 year old Felix and Nathaniel.  Before the choir arrived, we watched this video for insight into the program.  What a rigorous routine!  And they all look so angelic. But it turns out that they are just boys. Continue reading

Weddings~it’s always that time of year



Who doesn’t love a wedding?  For those of us who sew, it’s one welcome opportunity to make special gifts.  Sandee, my sorority sister (a neat discovery made through this blog!),   has used a fabric I covet to make some wonderful items for newlyweds.

When she sent these gorgeous pictures to me, I just had to ask permission to share them with you.  Can you imagine how pleased the young couples must have been?



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She wore the dress……


but she was not happy about it.


VR dress crying CR


Two yo granddaughter Vivian Rose was crying her little heart out, I’m pretty sure, because she was wearing the Easter dress disaster.    Her mother declares that it was not about the dress, but a grandmother knows these things.

First thing at home Easter morning, she kicked away her Easter basket and refused to hunt for eggs.  (I think she saw the dress hanging.) There is no photo documentation of her hissy fit.  Later the children attended 2 other egg hunts.

She and her happy, easy-going brother,  Alastair, joined a large group of children at a friend’s waterfront home.


A bay


Alastair had a great time.


A egg basket


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Easter Dress~Oh NO!



Happy Easter to you all!  This is such a joyous season, filled with promise of renewal and new beginnings.  Beautiful worship services, inspiring music, egg hunts and family gatherings all make it so special.

I will enjoy all these blessings, but right now I am dealing with major disappointment–the Easter  dress I made for 2 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose.

For this enormously significant holiday, every mother and grandmother tries to outfit her little darlings in beautiful garments.For me, “tries” is the operative word here.  And believe me I did  try.


ME Shout


This post is not meant to be all about moaning and wailing, though this Mary Engelbreit illustration captures my feelings pretty accurately.  But I do hope listing the details of my failure will be helpful.  Also included are the few (very few!) good things I did.

So, reluctantly, I post this sad photo of the disastrous dress.


Alice all

MISTAKES:  (If you are prone to depression, just skip this and go to the few little success at the end of the post.) Continue reading