Quilting within the Limits

About five years ago, I bought a fancy-shmancy sewing machine. It has all the bells and whistles, and lots of fun features to use. Before that time, though, I made perfectly good quilts with a 15 year old Kenmore. My first machine was a hand-me-down, reworked and rewired for me by my awesome Dad. I’m reminded of using that machine now, as I have some pretty significant limits to my quilt making. My stash is mostly packed, so this is what I have with which to work!



The big machine needed to be put away so that my “Quilt Studio” now looks like an office or a formal living room again. In my spare moments, I’ve been sewing by hand a little, but when I need the calming hum of a machine, I’ve found a small project on which to work. I pull out my older machine and set it up on the dining room table. Because I need to be able to clean up fast if we have a showing, I don’t set up all my stations-ironing, cutting board, and machine-at the same time. I also try to work during the hours when it’s not convenient to show a house, early morning or after 9 pm. I spent one early morning cutting these lovelies.




I spent another afternoon drawing a line across the back of each white square, with only that part out at the time. Once all that was done, I could break up my sewing time accordingly. I sewed a little in the evenings and mornings, and pulled out the machine when afternoons were slow during the week.



So, between work and house showings and school and cleaning, a quilt came together! I want to encourage you. If you don’t think you have time, space, ability, etc to make a quilt, just take it one little step at a time. I promise, it’ll come together if you work on it little by little! I got to the point where my blocks were all complete, and I was stuck. How would I find the time to sew them all together, laid out on my floor or bed, without interruption?

My very clever friend Aby made a great suggestion! Her suggestion was that I lay out my squares in order and pin them to a background, maybe a sheet or something that could be picked up! Genius! So, without further comment, here is my “catch as catch can” quilt, a “between the real life stuff” creation that I promise you have time to make!





To Shampoo or Not to Shampoo

There are things I don’t normally tackle here on this blog. After all, quilt is in the name, so I’ve kept it to {mostly} quilty things. But, seeing as how I’m going natural, I might as well blog about it! =}

About a month ago, I read a few articles about going completely without shampoo. I read about all the awful things in a normal shampoo, and decided I should probably make a few changes. Besides the incredible amount of money I was spending on my hair, I had no less than ten bottles of lotions and potions to make it soft, curly, straight, not frizzy, give it volume, etc. There has to be a simpler way, ya know?

I tried a few things and found what worked for me, which is, by the way, the key to going shampoo-less. For me, a shampoo bar, also known as natural, homemade, lye soap, seems to work best. I have long fine hair, and washing every few days with homemade soap makes it soft and shiney. It also means I use far less conditioner than before. {Wow…I was going through the conditioner!} Because the gelatin is left in the soap, it then conditions as you use it. I was able to use up the very last of my shampoo and body wash, and now my morning routine is super simple. Most of my beauty products are made obsolete by one little bar.

If you’ve never used a handmade soap before, they are for sale in many, many craft fairs, farmer’s markets, and Etsy. You can use most of them on your face and body without worrying about pollutants and breakouts. They are safe enough for baby, and tough enough to take out laundry stains. I started making my own soap many years ago when I found Miller’s Homemade Soap site. Depending on how fancy you get with your oils, soap bars are usually under a dollar per bar to make. So for pennies on the dollar, I’ve replaced shampoo, conditioner, body wash, various finishing products for my hair, and facial wash. If I branch out and use them for other things, I can use natural soap for cleaning wipes, laundry powder, and stain treating.

Turns out, going green is very good for the wallet as well as general health!!!

Easter Mantle

Warning:This post has nothing to do with quilting!!

Well, it really doesn’t, and I’m sorry about that. I’m at a place where I can’t often drag all my quilty things out to play. SO…..I found something else crafty to do this week. I took this painting apart.


In my defense, it was well past its prime, with broken glass and outdated colors. I wanted it…well…updated and brighter.I took it all apart carefully and did some painting. I’ll show you what it looks like now soon, I promise…..

What’s funny is that it snowballed. Always with the multiple projects at one time, huh? I found a few other things I’d put away because of outdated colors and decided THEY needed brightening up too!! Like these two items.


I went to the thrift store and found a gorgeous old mirror….completely intact! It too, got a new coat of paint. NOW, they all work together to make a pretty spring mantle!


Do you see them? What can use a can of spraypaint in your house??

The Year of Change

As New Year’s rolled around a few months ago, I knew this would be the year of great change. I could foresee that I’d be changing houses, churches, and quilting groups. I’d be losing touch with some friends and gaining time with others. I’d be changing states, and therefore changing homeschool requirements as well. Those changes seemed relatively….obvious. =}

I wasn’t prepared for the change in lifestyle this year has brought me thus far. I see Mr. Wonderful about twice a month, on weekends when he’s able to drive the 6 hours to our current home. We’re hoping that change is very short term!! I chose to change my eating and exercise habits about a month ago, and that has given me to much more energy! While I know it’s a lifelong change, I’m thankful for the benefits thus far! As you’ve seen in my recent posts, I’ve also moved away from cleaners with harmful chemicals. This is the beginning of my movement to go natural. I’m excited about that, and it also seems so very appropriate to go natural when you’re in the middle of a move!!

Over the weekend, I visited my future city in Northern Virginia. While there, I had quite the shock. Any housing in our price range is much smaller than what we currently have! In fact, I said upon returning to the house, “Holy Batman, the space!!!” It’s been five years since I’ve had to do any decluttering. Five years ago, we moved from 1100 square feet for 6 people to 3300 square feet. Now, it looks like we’ll be closer to that 1100 mark again. It brings up odd questions like, “Will I have space for the antique sewing machines?” Is that a real problem, you know? Admittedly, this is a first world problem, and now that I’ve labeled it as such, I’m much less concerned with it. This will be another in a long line of changes made this year that might actually be really, really good for me and my family! Now to get to work decluttering and getting ready for a smaller space in an urban setting!

What change has this year brought you? Are you looking at it as a positive?

Swiffer Duster Refill

As many readers well know, I’m in the process of cleaning up my cleaning act. Not only will this be good for my home’s air quality, it will be very good for my wallet! One of the items on my list to replace, and for heaven’s sake stop buying, was the Swiffer products. I spend far too much on their line of duster refills, wet jet mop refills, wet and dry pads, etc. I decided to sew up some of my own washable versions! Turns out I had fabric left to make some to sell. Here’s my humble rendition of the washable Swiffer Duster Refill. I spray mine with homemade “febreeze” air freshener, and use it just as I would the original!


Here’s the link to my Etsy shop if you’re interested in purchasing one!


Happy Spring Cleaning!


The Four Step At Home Facial

A few years ago, I went completely green, but I really loved going to the spa. Still do! Back then, I researched hard and found the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to have an “at home” spa day. One of those steps was a facial. I waited until my little ones were in bed, brewed me a cup of calming tea, and spent a little time on beauty. I’m purposing to get back to that, because it is so very good for the mind and body! Here are the four steps that I did and will be doing again soon!

Cleanse-Scrub with baking soda, a natural cleanser, glycerin soap, or whatever you use on your skin at night.

Steam-Use the “towel for a tent” method of steaming your face, for about 5 minutes or as much as you can stand. Add essential oil or herbs to the water as needed. IE. Comfrey for bad acne, lavender e.o., lavender herbs, rose petals, etc. You’ll have to investigate what herbs are good for the skin and for your particular skin. I used plain water, lavender herbs, or a Tablespoon of comfrey herb.

Clay Mask-I mix up a clay mask each time while I wait for water to boil. I use a Tablespoon of bentonite clay, a teaspoon of raw honey, and a teaspoon of liquid of some sort (milk, water, apple juice, apple cider vinegar). The different liquid had different properties, but I especially loved the milk. I also add a few drops of grapeseed oil, but coconut or olive would work just as well. This mixture is enough for one application, which means you don’t have to store it or use it before it goes bad, etc. (Simple.) When the mask has dried, 30-45 minutes, I clean it off using a hot-as-I-can-stand washcloth.

Moisturize-I use grapeseed oil, but you can use olive, castor, or coconut oils. I use a small amount, massage it into the face, and let it soak into the skin. (Do not wash it off.) The different oils are for different skin types, so work with what seems best for your skin. Mine is oily and acne prone, so I use a light oil.

Spending some time relaxing is super good for you, and doing it for pennies is also good for your wallet! Let me know if you enjoyed an at home facial using my method!!!

Six Steps to a Greener Clean

I used some pretty harsh chemicals in my home to get it super clean for showing. While I was doing that, I realized I wanted to go green with my cleaners, use homemade, and make them from benign ingredients. I’d been considering it for a while, especially since it will save me a ton of money! Here’s how I did it!


1. Make a list. I like lists. AND, a list gives you a direction so that you don’t get bogged down with all the unnecessary cleaners out there. Make a simple list of what you use, based on what you either have now in your cleaning closet, or what you’ve run out of that you need right now. I decided I need laundry powder and dryer sheets, dish powder, toilet cleaner, floor cleaner, all purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, and a wood dusting spray. Keep this handy for the next step!

2. “Shop” for recipes. Once you know what you need personally, to clean your own home, you’ll know what cleaners to type into the search box. TRUST ME, if you search pinterest or google, you’re going to get a ton of information about making your own cleaners, what ingredients to use or avoid, and even what containers are useful for which cleaning supplies. Try typing, “homemade (xyz)” into your search engine, and you’re going to get plenty of recipes!

3. Print your recipes. Because you’re only printing the recipes for what you use {you made a list, right?}, it doesn’t use that much ink. Put all these printed recipes into a folder or three ring binder for future use. I even store mine with my soap and food recipes, so that it’s only one thing to find and keep track of!

4. Gather your ingredients, cheap. In this step, you’ll be looking for containers and ingredients, but don’t forget to price things on the net and to think about the Dollar Store, craft stores, and your own cabinets. The containers in this post were in my gift cabinet. Consider bottles and containers that come with another product that you can use, then repurpose for homemade cleaners. My floor cleaner bottle has Method floor cleaner in it, and when it’s used up, I’ll refill with homemade! My toilet bowl cleaner is a small dish bottle, because it functions like a toilet bowl cleaner bottle with the squeeze top!

5. Make it cute. If it’s cute, I’m likely to prefer homemade! I stopped by my local craft store and bought chalkboard labels and a chalk marker. It wasn’t super expensive, and it’ll boost my spirits often! I heart chalkboard anything!

6. Give it scent. Many of your cleaners are far more fun to use if they are smell awesome! I don’t scent my laundry or dish powder because the scent gets “lost” in the wash. But my all purpose cleaner and dryer sheets smell fantastic! Think about what you and your family prefer (fruity or flowery), and order some scenty things from Mountain Majestic Sage. There are other companies, but I have found MMS to be the most economical option. If you’re really stuck, go to you health food store and smell all the things. You’ll get a very quick lesson on what you like! My must haves include lavender, lemon, vanilla, and lilac and lavender.


I hope you’ve enjoyed my process of going green clean! What have you made lately that’s much cheaper and healthier than storebought??


Morning Sewing Session

Typically, I’m not a morning person. I tend to sleep until I absolutely HAVE to get up and get moving in order to make homeschooling happen for my sweet younger three children. Having my house on the market (and getting in a daily dose of exercise) has changed that for me. Now, I tend to hop out of bed a little before my alarm, which is set to well before the realtor starts showing houses! My morning routine consists of cleaning out the dishwasher, making the bed, and tidying up of yesterday’s messes. Most mornings I also toss in a load of laundry as well. Those are just the simple maintenance things that keep my household running well. I get them done quickly, and then they are off my plate for the day!

On this particular morning, I awoke at something like 4 am, well before the realtors. We’d had an early bedtime, and when I get enough exercise, my body needs less sleep! {Seven hours seems like plenty anyway!} I did my morning routines, and then started staring at the computer screen, reading an ebook. I got to thinking, though. Surely there is something I could do with my time that would be a better use of it?


It is in these moments, the ones where my chores are complete and I’m searching for good ways to put my hands to use that I turn to quilting. Now, my house is fully on the market, and I have four children, a husband, and a needy cat. But you don’t need a ton of time to sew a quilt. It’s like anything, here a little, there a little. I cut fabric on two different afternoons last week, when my work was all done for the day. I prepped all my pieces on an evening when everyone else was preoccupied. I also did all this while trying to keep the “stuff out on the counters” to a very minimum.

This particular morning, everything is set up to sew. I’m feeding cute little pieces through the tiniest and cutest of my machines. It’s not a fancy machine; it doesn’t even do a zig-zag stitch. But boy, is the stitch straight and pretty in a quilt piece. The featherweight is also my quiet machine-no waking the family! I promise to show you what I’m making and all my “limitations” when I get a little further along with this project. But for this very early morning, I want to encourage you to tackle a large task by breaking it into smaller things that can be done, literally, in those few minutes here or there!

Happy Sewing!!

A Few Words About Fitness

If you come to my blog regularly, you’re probably well aware that most of the time I post pretty pictures of quilts. I like it that way, as I get to show you all the lovely side of being a quilter. But it has a down side. It’s a sedentary activity. If you come to my blog in order to get awesome quilt ideas, I promise there will be plenty more of those. But today, I want to practically beg you to get out and go for a walk. If you dare, step on a scale. And if those two things give you clues that you need more outside time, gear up and get moving.

I did this just a week and a half ago. I had my wakeup call through various ways, but I realized I needed to get moving again and get back to having a daily or almost daily workout. If you’re hesitant, or need a place to start, I’d highly recommend buying a step tracker device. I like my Fitbit, and I could be on the commercial I heart it so much. By buying and using a step counter, you get a real picture of how much activity you’re getting. Work your way up to 10,000 steps a day like I did, and then make sure you get them in every day! I promise there is still lots of time left over to quilt! As a bonus, I find myself contemplating quilt patterns and my next project while I work out. I can honestly say that I’m excited about my next project very much, as I have some serious limitations this time. I’ll keep you posted. But, for today, get out and do something active!!

English Paper Piecing Update

Most of my home, including my fabric stash, is all neatly packed and put away while the house itself is waiting to be sold.

That’s as it should be, I think. But, I find myself wanting a bit of sewing here and there, once my workout and chores are all done!

Being the Type A that I am, I planned ahead for just such a moment as this. I made up an English Paper Piecing (EPP) packet for myself many months ago, when I was first beginning to pack fabric and other household items. At guild meeting, I was given a quilty “watch” pincushion, and it works very nicely for EPP. So….it’s quilty time.