Heidi’s Sewing Room

Heidi’s sewing room is neat, orderly and clearly the sewing space of a serious stitcher.  There are so many interesting and useful things to see here.  Thanks, Heidi, for sharing–and welcome back to the smocking and sewing sisterhood!

This is what she had to say:

I have to preface these pictures before you look at them. I’m 3 years retired and got back to sewing and joined a smocking guild when I retired. I hadn’t smocked for 25+ years while work consumed my life. Now retired, I sew, smock and craft for fun only.  ( Ed. note:  HURRAH!!!)



So this is where Heidi sews.


It looks like a serger sits on that gorgeous antique Singer cabinet.

This picture shows my favorite tools (& organizing tools) that I love.
Isn't that machine needle identifier wonderful?

Isn’t that machine needle catalogue system wonderful? Notice the gorgeous tussie-mussie pincushion and pattern weights Heidi made.

My lazy susan thingie holds most of my tools. A fishing tackle box holds my extra sewing machine feet. I made my own pattern weights with leftover brightly colored fleece and shotgun lead pellets. (I positively dislike anything to do with guns, but my brother had the lead pellets that work so great.) I also received the pincushion in a ” tussiemussie” that I absolutely love.

The shelf under the ironing board is so helpful. I have one on my own ironing board and love it.

As you can see, most of the mess is in plastic bins behind the closet doors, but the frequently used stuff is on the exposed wire rack.
Magazines, patterns, etc are nicely hidden when I’m not searching for a particular piece of fabric. A “few” other bins of fabric have been banished to the basement as I cannot store them in my tiny room.
I dare not get into quilting as it is a whole other type of fabric that I don’t have room for in my tiny room. I have broken down and bought a quilt kit a year ago and used the remnants to make a crib quilt for our new grand-daughter.
The texts read:  (1) My husband let's me have all the fabric I can hide. (2) A creative mess is better than tidy idleness.  (3)  So much fabric, so little time.  (4)  I'm a material girl.

The texts read: (1) My husband let’s me have all the fabric I can hide. (2) A creative mess is better than tidy idleness. (3) So much fabric, so little time. (4) I’m a material girl.

The wall hanging was made by yours truly as an inspirational wall hanging.
I have followed your blog for a few years now through Feedly and spend hours on Pinterest.
Many thanks for your inspirational ideas and the photographs are not great, but you get the idea…. and I can see the floor now that I did a recent cleanup looking for just the right piece of fabric that I knew I had somewhere.
Take care and it did take me some time to find your older blog posts because your email address as it is not in the “about” section.  NOTE:  It is now.  Thanks for pointing this out,  Heidi.

Technique & Summer Fun Bishop



In my humble opinion, bishops are a near perfect garment for little girls.  They are comfortable, long wearing and easy to construct.  Would anyone rather construct than smock?  Not me.


These "Smockables" used to be readily available from Martha Pullen Company.  They are no longer for sale there.

These “Smockables” are no longer for sale from Martha Pullen Company.


Ready-to-smock garments from Martha Pullen Company were my go-to “bring-along” project for trips.  When they were readily available, I laid in a supply.  But I have run out.  The white bishop shown above is the last one that will fit any of my grandchildren.  The few remaining Smockables are for sale here.

Starting with a ready-to-smock bishop is the quickest way to get one finished.  I soon grew tired of the basic style offered and have had fun modifying it.

A few weeks ago, I was packing for our trip to North Carolina.  We were headed to the mountains with our two younger grandchildren and their parents.  I knew I had to have some handwork for those few (VERY few) quiet moments after 2 yo tornado Vivian Rose was asleep next to her easy-going brother, Alastair.  I grabbed this last white bishop and couldn’t help but think “ho-hum.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love a geometrically smocked white bishop.  But I was in  the mood for something a little different.  Then, due to the less-than-tidy condition of my sewing room, I spotted this scrap red border given to me by my friend, Suzanne Sawko.  Hmmmm…


border scrap FI

I’ve always like this playful little piece.  I thought if I added it to the hem and smocked with white a little red, the bishop might be more interesting.  So just hours before our late night departure, I was adding the bias and the border, pulling out floss, needles and buttons for accent. In my haste, I forgot to pack my heavy sweater and nearly froze in that blissfully cool mountain air.


rebound neckline and smocking

This is the re-bound neckline and smocking. After I thought it was finished, it needed more red. So the tiny buttons were stitched in every other bottom diamond.


The most challenging and time consuming step in the construction of a bishop is binding the neckline.  Of course, with a ready-to-smock, the binding is finished.  To add color, I simply cut red gingham bias and covered the existing neckline.  Easy peasy.

The pleated sleeves were cut just below the top gathering thread and bound with the same red gingham.


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The gingham band above the border did double duty–as added interest and as a cover up for the border.

TECHNIQUE:  A  3″ gingham strip was folded in half and stacked at the top of the border and the raw edge of the wrong side of the skir’s hemline. Black thread was used to show the stitching more clearly.


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Please excuse the misspelling of “gingham.” I’m pretty compulsive about correct spelling. I’ve just learned how to add text to an image but I can’t figure out how to correct it. Oh well.


Press the skirt up, away from the 3/8″ seam.


The skirt has been pressed up away from the seam.

The skirt has been pressed up away from the seam.


Press the gingham up over the raw edges.  Press from the back as well.


After pressing gingham over the raw edges, secure it to the skirt with a tiny zig zag (w 1.5, l 2.0.  Using monofilament makes the stitches disappear.

After pressing gingham over the raw edges, secure it to the skirt with a tiny zig zag (w 1.5, l 2.0. Using monofilament makes the stitches disappear.


This leaves a neat skirt back, with no raw edges exposed.


1-tech back

Now it is ready for a hand hem.  In no time, the dress is finished.

I know there are other ready-to-smock sources out there.  I’d better check them out.  Any recommendations?

Shirley’s Sewing Room



I find that I simply couldn’t do without the use of the sofa with the magnifying lamp in that room. Also a lot of times Duane comes in there to chat and his spot is the single chair in the picture.


I love seeing other sewing rooms.  So I really appreciate Shirley sending these photos of her needlework space.  An avid and accomplished sewist who spends her winters in Arizona and the summers on the lake in Minnesota.  Shirley lives a great life!

Her AZ sewing room is shown here.  Seeing these pictures makes me wish I could see the one in Minnesota.

Heidi has also sent photos of her sewing space.  They will be featured in a later post.  I would love to see more reader sewing rooms.  Just send pictures to me at NCcabin@aol.com.

NOTE:  For reasons I cannot fathom,  Shirley’s text has made it impossible for me to format as I like, with room between the pictures and the text.  Something about copying and pasting her info has given this whole post in a very bad attitude.  Too much time has been spent trying to fix it so I give up.  I hope you can deal with it.:-[


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Shirley said:

I didn’t do any cleaning/reorganizing prior to taking the pictures……this is pretty much how it looks when I’m between projects which is where I’m at now.


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When we moved to AZ and this house, I also brought along the cabinetry that was in my sewing room in the basement of our Iowa house. By some sort of miracle, it fit perfectly into my AZ room here.

My Craft Cabinet swivels on a square base and has 4 sides of storage. I love that cabinet and find it is so useful.


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Shirley teaches hardanger and is very accomplished in this needleart. Click here to see her altar cloth.

  Those boxes of thread are for my Hardanger Embroidery classes and sales…..There is DMC and Anchor Perle Cotton is sizes 5,8, & 12 in balls & skeins.
The side that holds the plastic boxes are the kind that scrapbook people use and I store my embroidery thread in them along with other threads, krenik braid, etc.  I like the fact that the thread doesn’t get exposed to light and dust so much that way.

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This is a great way to store the embroidery hoops for her Brother Quattro.  So where is your Quattro, Shirley?  I don’t see it in any photos.



The hanging skeins are Caron Watercolor threads that we use in Hardanger. I find doing that needlework in co-ordinating colors is so fascinating and so I encourage my students to be a little daring in some of their combinations of color, etc.



1-SR 04
My friend who built that cabinet for me suggested that I should have another one in the opposite corner of the room where the big round table is. That would be nice except that I hide a lot of things under that table (LOL) and I just kind of like the idea of a flat surface to display things if I want to.
Right now I have quite a few boxes, etc. of things I hope to sell at a garage sale so when they are gone…..I could entertain the thought of another cabinet!  i would certainly have enough things to put into one!!! Having some of my fabric wrapped for easy access would be one good use…..HEY…..that’s an idea…..
 I wish I had the luxury of having everything in one room but since I don’t have that….my cutting table and computer are in another room that we added onto the house several years ago.

1-SR 07

The exercise of going between the rooms is an added bonus! I do have a pull-out “bread board type” of shelf that I can pull out from my cupboard for cutting small projects and also the use of the cabinet top when I have that cleaned off.
1-SR 01

Shirley is so lucky to have all those cabinets for storage! I wonder what’s in there. Don’t you wonder?


The room is entirely too small (WHAT????) but I’ve tried to make the best use of space, which is sometimes a challenge!
Hope you enjoy my sewing room tour……I certainly enjoyed yours!!

Free Ghee’s Webinar!

Wow!  A free webinar from Linda McGehee July 28th, 8 p.m. Central time.  Her classes are always exciting, full of inspiration and fun, new techniques.   I expect this will be true to form.

I’ve attended Linda’s classes at the Lakeland Original Sewing and Quilt Expo as well as here in central Florida.  They were all fabulous.  To be able to sit at home and view Linda’s magic for free is pretty wonderful.

So sign up.  It’s free!

This is the newsletter Linda sent out about the webinar.  All the information is here but as you can see, I had trouble copying it.   If you go to her website, you can get the original.

This message was at the end of the newsletter but I couldn’t get it placed properly.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We’re getting ready for a new change to our website, so stay in touch for the new announcement.
Click the underscored to go directly to the site.  (Ed. note–this is the webinar link.)  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/726632418272771074)
Free Class on Craftsy  by  Linda
Use this link: (This is a free craftsy class, not the webinar. )
Happy Stitching,

Linda McGehee/Ghee’s

Ghee's Logo

Linda McGehee wearing the
         Donut Wrap
Trimmed with Rhinestone Zipper in the Binding

. . . 
What students are saying about Linda’s classes:

Linda is a very patient & generous teacher. I enjoyed every one of the classes I took from her.


GREAT presentation by well organized teacher.


Good to see samples & finished product with embellishment.

Good explanations.

Great Class, Enjoyed all the different techniques.

Very informative!

I learned to speak zipper!

Dear Sewing Friends,

Get ready for another FREE Webinar!

Quick Gifts for the Holidays!
or Christmas in July!
 Here’s the link–


Be sure to click the link to sign up.
The date of the Webinar is
July 28 at 8pm Central time.
Like us on Facebook and tell your friends, too.
Have a
Webinar Party
and you could win 
some great prizes for you and your guests. There have been many happy recipients 
of this prize, so have some 
of your stitching friends over, and enjoy the webinar together.
Here’s a teaser of one of the quick gift ideas 
from the 
FREE Webinar on July 28. 
It’s a coffee cozy. But it works great for 
hot chocolate, too.
What’s Happening in the Garden
This is the week that everything began to happen in the garden.
The figs are coming in and I’m headed out on a 10 day teaching trip.
They are late this year, but bountiful.
Jack and a few people are picking for me so that I can make preserves when I return & after the FREE Webinar.
Here’s a couple of pictures to wet your appetite.
Note from Janice:  I was the lucky recipient of a jar of Linda’s fig preserves.  What a treat!
I was disappointed to think that I wouldn’t see our Night Blooming Cereus bloom since I’m leaving town. We have one bloom this year so far. When I checked it out last night I discovered that it was ready to bloom! A delightful evening was spent taking photographs.
I was suppose to finish some stitching, but when given a chance to watch this plant bloom, I’ll take it.





My Dishtowel Rave

NOTE:  This post was first named “My Dishtowel Rant.”  Reader Shirley wisely suggested that a better name would be Dishtowel Rave.  I agree, Shirley!  Thanks for your comment.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.”
Ben Carson

Ben, that’s just one reason for my happiness.  But it’s true that for any occasion– large, small or no occasion at all– I love giving gifts.  But it can be tricky.



Goldilocks said, “This gift is too big!”


Too large or too expensive a gift like this jewel encrusted package or a trip to Paris for lunch would make a friend feel beholden and I don’t want that.  (Let me be perfectly clear, I would not give a trip to Paris for lunch.   Or a jewel encrusted package.  So don’t ask.)



Goldilocks said, “This gift is too small!”


Too small a gift, like a coat hanger, is just tacky.  Getting it just right takes some thought.



Goldilocks said, “This gift is just right.”

Continue reading

Mountain Getaway

1-V A Playground CR

Vivian and Alastair enjoying the playground behind the Candy Barrel in Valle Crucis, NC. Vivi’s mop of curls has been cut to keep her cool during the hot summer. But she’ll be a curly top again in no time at all.  Vivian is wearing her firefly outfit.


North Carolina is my second favorite state. We’ve just returned from an absolutely wonderful week in the mountains with our two younger grandchildren and their parents.


Chap fam

Our Rebecca, Alastair, Vivian Rose and Harvey.  FYI, that is a lollipop/powdered sugar concoction in Vivi’s hand, not a pacifier.  They are sitting at the delivery door at the Candy Barrel. 

  Continue reading

God Bless America

pillow made from hemstitched guest towel

pillow or wallhanging made from hemstitched guest towel.  I wish I had known  then how to rotate the “o” is God so it didn’t look like Gad.


I hope all you Americans are having a fabulous time celebrating our nation’s Independence Day.  We certainly are.

The pictured  pillow or wallhanging (I just can’t recall which) sums up my hopes for our country.  Made years ago for a Sewing at the Beach auction, the pillow features a bean stitch alphabet from a new digitizer in Britain.  I added the waving flag and flowers. Sadly, while moving my designs from one computer to another,  I have lost both the entire alphabet and the name of the designer.   If any of you have any information about this, I would love for you to share.

At the time this project was stitched, the largest embroidery frame on my Brother 2001 machine could not accommodate the entire design.  So more than one hooping was required.   I wish I still had the alphabet so I could make an identical pillow or wallhanging for my home.  It would be a breeze with the 9.5 x 14″ hoop on my The Dream Machine.

After driving all night, we arrived home at 6:30 a.m. today after spending a  week in the North Carolina mountains.  With  our two younger grandchildren, 2 yo Vivian Rose and 6 yo Alastair and  their parents it was delightful family time and a cool retreat from Florida’s summer heat.

We did see fireflies!  They certainly were not plentiful but Alastair counted more than 100 each night.  I wonder if he stopped counting them because that’s as high as he can go.

Vivian looked adorable in her firefly outfit with glow-in-the-dark bugs.


1-firefly outfit Continue reading

Quick Tip ~ Thread Nest and Broken Needles

Do you keep a knife in your sewing room?  I do and it’s not for fear of bad guys bursting into my she-cave.  This is why.

Picture it, Glenwood, Florida, and me happily embroidering a sweet tee for Baby Girl.  The machine makes a horrible noise and the needle breaks.  The hoop cannot be moved and the shirt and its design are in jeopardy.  It doesn’t happen often, but when it does….groannnnn.  Though it is generally thought to be the result of operator error, I prefer to think it’s those pesky sewing gremlins.

The situation seems grim.  How can I save the shirt and release the hoop from the gremlins’ malice?


1-kife broken needle container


With that 12″ serrated knife I keep at the ready, that’s how.  The blade must be long enough to reach under the hoop all the way to the thread nest.  It can usually, with care, cut through the threads without damaging the shirt–or whatever is being embroidered.

After cutting through the thread mess, applying a stabilizer patch over the hole, the broken needle has to be dealt with.  It’s not a good idea to throw it into my wastebasket where it can stick me when I take out the trash.  So at each machine I keep a container like this empty sugar-free gum bin into which I discard broken, dull or bent needles.  Before my dear husband kept me supplied with these gum jars, I used empty pill bottles.  Any firm, small canister will do.

These are my tips for thread nests and broken needle storage.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Quick Tip ~ Thread Spools

north end

These are a few of my thread racks. Can you imagine the mess if each spool had a loose tail?

Like most sewists, I love threads–never met a spool or color I didn’t like.  My sewing room is stocked with every thread weight from 12 to 80, some 2 ply and some 3 ply.  There are thread fibers from cotton to silk to rayon, poly, linen and monofilament.  That’s a lot of thread.

And while no one would ever accuse me of being a neat freak, I do like my threads to be in order.  With no loose tails.  So what are we to do with those mini king spools and others without a slot to secure the loose ends?



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My solution is an old Olfa art knife and a sharpie pen.  (In a future post, I will share the wonder and uses of my newer, sharp Olfa art knife.) When I get new thread, I carefully make a cut in the spool, noting the direction that it unwinds.  Then, to ease the strain on my “mature” eyes, I mark the slit with a sharpie pen.

It is so quick and easy to snap the thread tail into place and just as quick and easy to locate the cut because of the black mark.

If you have other solutions, please share. Inquiring minds want to know.

Quick Tip~Bobbins

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Do those thread tails hanging off your bobbins annoy you? They t drove me crazy.  Of course, there are those very nice plastic bobbin jails–bobbin buddies is one of their names.  But they are bulky and, for me, not convenient as my own solution.


bobbin buddy

The reinforcement rings for notebook paper meet my need perfectly.  In a serendipity moment I spotted the school supply package in my stationary drawer.  Hmmm…right shape, right size, sticky, quick and cheap.  AHA!

I keep a sheet of these at each machine.  As remove a bobbin from the case, I secure the thread with a ring, taking care to apply it to the up side of the bobbin as it sits in the case. Then the bobbins are put in one of several clear  plastic divided bins.

When I pull a bobbin from the box, I remove the ring and stick it on the side of my machine. They usually are reusable 3-5 times before they loose their adhesiveness.  They rarely leave any sticky residue on the bobbin.  Any that remains is easily removed.

These little rings have kept my bobbins in order for many years.  A very long time ago, I was teaching for Mildred Turner at one of her Sewing in the Mountains schools.  Another teacher got a worrisome call from her husband at about 9:30 p.m.  Their daughter had just remembered a useful “invention” was due the next day for science class.  As Jimmy Buffet once said, there was “panic in the green room.”

I suggested the ring reinforcers for the bobbins and slam bam! She had an invention.  And got an A.  Maybe I should feel guilty, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Give these little rings a try.  You will have no more thread tails hanging out of your bobbin box and a more tidy sewing room.