Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Christmas Stocking Tutorial

Today is Whatcha Working on Wednesday at Leslie's Blog, My Country Home.

I am still madly working on my current quilt, but also found time to make another Christmas Stocking Saturday. I want to make one stocking each week until I get enough for my family done.

Here's how I made mine:

Materials needed:

1/2 yard outer fabric
1/2 yard lining fabric
low-loft quilt batting or polyester fleece
ribbon, cording or plastic ring for hanging stocking

I found a pattern in one of my many Christmas Idea books, which were a gift from a friend. You can easily make your own pattern by drawing it free hand or by tracing around a stocking that you already have. Just be sure to add 1/2 inch for seam allowances. Here's what the pattern looks like:

This what it looks like after I cut the outer pieces leaving the seam allowance:


Cut two stocking pieces, right sides together, from the outer fabric and two from the lining fabric. BE CAREFUL to put the outer fabric right sides together before cutting or cut each one separately, reversing each one, or they will not go together correctly!

Also cut two stocking pieces from the batting.

1. On the two stockings that I made so far, shown above, I added cuffs to the top. One is pointed and the other is straight across. This is an area that you can use your own imaginations. You could add lace, tassels, buttons or any number of embellishments. Have fun with it!

If you do add an embellishment to the top of the stocking, pin it right side up on the right side of the stocking front. Depending on the embellishment, you may need to put the same thing on the back piece also. Use your own judgment.

2. Baste the batting or fleece to the wrong side of the outer stocking front and back. I did mine using the sewing machine. It goes on very quickly. I just adjust my stitch length to the longest setting and lower the feed dogs to the quilting setting and just zip around the edges.

3. Pin the stocking front to the stocking back, right sides together. Stitch 1/2 inch seam around the stocking, leaving the top open. Stitch again next to the first row of stitching, within the seam allowances. Then trim the seam allowance close to the stitches. Then turn the stocking right side out and lightly press.

4. Pin the lining pieces, right sides together. Then repeat Step 3 above for the lining, EXCEPT leave an opening on the bottom of the foot for turning later. This is just like making a lined pocketbook or tote bag!

5. Place the outer stocking inside the lining, right sides together. Decide which way you want your stocking to hang and then place a ribbon or what ever you choose for hanging the stocking on that side, centering it in the seam line, between the lining and outer fabric pointing down inside between the two. Pin the upper edges, raw edges even and stitch all the way around the top, about a 1/2 inch seam. Then turn the entire stocking right side out through the opening in the lining.

6. Stitch the opening you left in the foot closed on the sewing machine (or by hand). Insert the lining into the stocking, light press the upper edge. You can edge stitch around the upper edge if you want to, but mine were so thick and looked so nice as they were that I didn't do this.

I will be posting my weekly stocking each week, I hope!

Please be sure to check out my new quilting blog: Angel Scraps Quilting

Monday, September 28, 2009

A New Quilting Blog

I have opened a new blog.... just for quilting. I have several reasons for this. For one, I didn't want to turn Homemaking Dreams into too much of a quilting blog. In the last two weeks, I have written more about quilts than any other subject. I want to keep Homemaking Dreams....well.... more about just homemaking. I will still post about quilting here, just not every single day! After all, making quilts and other kinds of sewing or crafts is an important part of homemaking for me.

Another reason I want to have a Quilt Themed blog is that I would like to join quilting groups on line and felt that a blog dedicated just to quilting would be better for that purpose, even though there are quite a few quilting posts on Homemaking Dreams.

I guess the most important reason is that I love quilts and making them and want to share them to my hearts content.

So, I'd love for you to check out my new blog called, "ANGEL SCRAPS QUILTING". I'd also appreciate it if you would continue to read Homemaking Dreams. Thanks!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Cozy Early Autumn Day

Its been a wonderful, drizzly, early Autumn Saturday and I have been living out my homemaking dreams all day..... Here's what I've been doing:

Several loads of laundry, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning bathrooms and sewing.

I stitched up another Christmas stocking:

This is what the view looks like from my front door. The corn is brown and dry and ready to be harvested.

Autumn Roses sitting on the front door steps:

What I'm wearing:

Red sports pants with a white stripe down the outside of each leg (NC State is playing foot ball today) and an over sized, faded ten year old tee shirt with lighthouses all over it that my hubby bought me at Cracker Barrel before we got married. I'm barefooted and oh so comfortable.

What we ate today:

Country Ham Biscuits for breakfast:

For lunch and Supper, a big pot of New England Clam Chowder that's been simmering on the stove all day, with saltine crackers.

What I've been hearing today:

Two or three different College football games being switched back and forth, and the sound of the back door opening and closing as hubby goes into the garage to get an update on the NC State Football game on the radio that's out there, since that game isn't being televised. We are ahead at the moment.

I hope your Early Autumn Saturday has been as peaceful as mine has been.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Slice of My Life

Wishing you a fine country morning!

1. I am continuing to save Coke Rewards Points. No, I don't drink that many Diet Cokes, although I do drink my fair share. I am able to save the points from the 12 pack cardboard cartons we have at my work place. That's one of the many small perks my employer provides... free drinks and snacks. Yes... all the Diet Cokes, regular Cokes, Dr. Peppers, Mountain Dews, Water, and Lance Nabs, cookies, etc. that I want. My hubby also saves all the lids that he can from his workplace.

So, yesterday I was able to purchase with my points two new magazine subscriptions that I think I will enjoy: Country Living and Fitness. I am looking forward to receiving these magazines in about 4 to 6 weeks!

2. I am also continuing to slowly accumulate Swagbucks points, Upromise money and small checks for doing surveys. I am thinking about redeeming my Swagbucks for Amazon Gift Cards. This seems to be the best deal to me. For 45 points you get a $5.00 Gift Card. I almost have enough to get two $5.00 gift cards, with basically no extra trouble. I just search through swagbucks all day while at work and when I get home if the need arises. I downloaded the Swagbuck toolbar and now my family is using it too.

3. My quilting before and after work is really going well!!! Last night while watching Dancing With The Stars, I put together the pieces needed for 12 more blocks on the Cozy Cabins quilt I have been working on. Cozy Cabins is the name of the pattern, but I will be coming up with a name for this quilt soon. I realized yesterday that its almost been a year since I first started planning to make it, so I think its about time that I made a little progress!

As a result of organizing the pattern pieces ahead of time, this morning I sewed together three blocks in just a few minutes. Tonight I want to sew three more blocks, as well as cut out some pieces for more blocks.

I hope you are having a good week so far! Its almost the weekend!!!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Time Saving Tips for Sewing and Quilting

Today is Whatcha Working on Wednesday at Leslie's Blog.

I have really been trying to be disciplined enough to work on some quilting projects before and after work. Even if I only make one quilt block per day or cut out a few fabric strips each morning.

Sometimes its mind over matter. My spirit may be anxious to quilt, but my body is often tired physically or mentally. I have found that if I just make myself get started, It all comes together and an hour or two later, I've made some real progress.

With all that being said, I've been trying to come up with some solutions for making my quilt making process faster. The Quilt making process in itself is time consuming. Its a time honored art and I imagine that our pioneer ancestors didn't make more than one or two quilts a year. Since everything was made by hand and there weren't too many modern time saving conveniences, I would think quilt making was done in their spare time, just like I do.

Here are a few ideas to help us to get more organized and hopefully speed up the production of those projects!

1. Sew for at least 15 minutes a day or make at least one quilt block a day. Once I get started, I will probably keep going, but if its not happening for me that day, I will at least have accomplished a little which will add up over time.

2. Use the leaders and enders system, also known as chain piecing. I need a stack of quilt blocks ready at all times that can be used for this. It sure does save thread and helps to get two quilts or two quilt blocks of the same quilt made at the same.

Here is a picture showing how I am sewing blocks from two different quilts at the same time. When I get to the end of sewing a strip onto the log cabin block, I grab a Strip X block of the baby boy quilt I am making, and sew a triangle on the side. I have a stack of these on the sewing table ready to be used for this. When I finish sewing the triangle on the side, I grab another strip to sew on the log cabin block and then repeat. Just reach behind the machine, clip the thread and bring that sewn piece back around to the front. With this method I don't have to pull the block out from the sewing machine, cut the threads and start over again each time.

This is by far the best sewing hint I have ever used and I highly recommend that you do this!

3. I've never been one to cut out all of the pieces of a quilt at the same time before making the quilt. I'm more of a cut it as you go person. But, I generally keep my rotary cutter and mat on the kitchen table so I could easily go ahead and cut out the pieces needed for several blocks while something is cooking on the stove or if I have a few minutes before going out the door to work in the mornings.

4. Organize for quick sewing: My favorite kind of quilts are scrap quilts. So, almost every block is different. Currently one of the quilts I am working on is a modified log cabin pattern. Each block has a center square and four different length sizes of 1 1/2 inch wide strips. This morning I layered three different coordinating pieces of fabric, and cut several sets of the different size strips needed for each block.

I have organized the different size strips into 3 zip lock bags. A good tv watching project is to put together sets of strips to make a block. I would need to pull strips of each of the coordinating colors from each bag. Then the pieces for each block can be pinned together and stacked on the sewing machine table. With this done I can easily sit down to the sewing machine during any spare moment without having to figure out what fabrics I'm going to put together for that particular block.

You won't believe how much time I spend sometimes scrutinizing the different colors trying to put together fabrics that look "cute" together. This takes up too much time. Sometimes I just think something to death, instead of just doing it!

Here are stacks of fabric pieces on my sewing machine table, ready to go!

5. I also want to fill several bobbins with thread so that I don't have to stop and re-thread the needle when I'm on a roll sewing the blocks together.

6. This is a hint I've read before, but haven't actually tried myself. I want to set up my iron beside my sewing chair at the right height so that I can press the blocks as I go without getting up and down so many times. The log cabin block I am making must be pressed each time a new set of strips is added on and this does take a lot of time.

But, I do want to keep safety in mind. I would never want a family member to get burned on the iron by bumping into it or something like that. I would have to only have the iron on while I was actually sitting there and perhaps only if I was home alone. If people are running in and out and through the sewing area I would never be able to have the iron at a low height like that.

I would love to hear any tips or hints you may have to help me get more done!

Monday, September 21, 2009


She... being Eliza Rose. Yes, this quilt's name is Eliza Rose. It just fits.

I am very pleased with how she turned out. I have ALWAYS wanted to do free motion quilting or own a fancy quilting machine. I never dreamed that all I had to do was buy a darning foot and lower the feed dogs on my old Singer and start drawing with thread! Yes, that's what free motion quilting is.... drawing with thread.

Here's Eliza Rose's journey over the weekend:

I pieced two pieces of Hobbs Heirloom batting left over from the Spiderman Quilt. To make the edges meet evenly, just lay the edges overlapping a couple of inches. Then cut straight through the middle with scissors. Then remove the two thin strips. This will make the two edges abut perfectly. Use a needle and thread to sew the two sides together.

Because of the smaller size of a baby quilt, I was able to pin baste the quilt on my kitchen table. This is so much easier on my poor knees and back. I just taped the backing fabric to the table, then layered the batting and quilt top. I have a good supply of curved quilt basting safety pins for this purpose.

To prepare for my first attempt at free motion quilting, I practiced drawing the meandering lines on a piece of paper.

Then I made a "practice square" and practiced. So far, so good....

Then I made the transition to free motion quilting on an actual quilt:

Sewing on the binding:

Now, is my first attempt at free motion quilting perfect? NO!! I realize that I have to practice, practice, practice, until the results are more professional-like.

But for now, Eliza Rose is my new baby quilt. I think I'm in love.....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Eliza Rose

I actually got something done after work last night.... two days in a row! I worked on this baby girl's quilt that I started months ago. And Guess what? This quilt has a future home. My daughter's good friend is expecting a baby girl in October whose name will be Eliza Rose. Isn't that a beautiful name? The whole time I was working on this quilt I kept thinking about little Eliza Rose. I don't know what her personality will be like but this quilt just looks like a quilt for an Eliza Rose. :o)

Now it has come to my attention that I should give my quilts a name and that should be included on the label on the back. I usually do call my quilts something but never really used my imagination to come up with a unique name for each one.

How about "Girlie Girl I Spy"? There are lots of little things in this quilt that a child could play "I Spy" with. If you look closely at these blocks in progress you can see a ballerina's legs, a lion, a John Deere symbol, buttlerflies, various flowers, a soldier, a lady's hat and more.

The backing of the quilt will be this cute pink and green frog design. How about "Frilly Frogs"?

Hmmmm.... I need to ponder this some more. Any ideas?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quilt Label

One of my recent complaints has been, "If only I weren't so tired when I get home from work at night!... I could sew so many things." Well last night was no different. When I got home from work I just wanted to get in a chair and call it a night.

But, instead I MADE myself get up, get going and stay going. After a few minutes I felt fine and got a couple of sewing projects done, as well as stayed awake long enough to see the Finale of America's Got Talent!

I made the quilt label for the Spiderman Quilt shown in the previous post. In the past I either cross stitched a label or didn't make one. I read a blog post HERE on Crazy Mom Quilts about hand writing the label using freezer paper as a stabilizer. It worked great! For anyone interested in quilting, Crazy Mom Quilts is a great blog and I highly recommend it! I'm very excited to learn more about quilting by using the tutorials on there!

The other project that I completed was a chicken fabric clothespin bag which I listed in my Etsy Shop.

And as for the winner of America's Got Talent.... boy did America vote for the underdog this time!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spiderman Quilt Finished!

The only thing left to do is that I need to make a label for the back that says, "Hand quilted with love for Dylan, by Grandma - 2009". Will get that done this week.

I was babysitting my grandson this past weekend and since he's only two I thought he wouldn't really notice me working on the quilt. It was spread out on the kitchen table while I trimmed the edges. He ran up to it and while tenderly touching it, said in a barely audible, awe struck whisper, "Wow!".

Now I can move this project from the "2009 Sewing To Do List" to the finished list located at the bottom of this blog.

This post is a part of Whatcha Working on Wednesday at Leslie's blog My Country Home.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yard Sale Finds and Tip

These are some items my hubby and I found at yard sales last weekend.

As you can see, the NC State pocketbook and wallet still have the tags on them. The price? $1.00 for both. You may not know, but we are big NC State Fans so we were so excited to find these. The yard sale was almost over and the seller was ready to get rid of everything. She had marked everything left at the sale to $1.00, except for a few larger items.

I also love the small fabric bag with the ribbon handles, which was also $1.00.

These items totaled $2.50. I haven't decided how I will use them yet, but hope to put them together in an area, or corner of our home. I know I will need a lamp shade and have to decide what pictures to put in the frame. I am going to be looking at some of the wonderful home decorating posts on some of the blogs I read. Maybe I can post an "after" picture soon.

We also got a couple of other great items, but no time to take the pictures and post them this morning! Gotta to get ready for work!

Today is Frugal Friday at Life as Mom, so here is my frugal tip: Wait until late morning, near lunchtime, to hit a few yard sales. You will be amazed at what is left and how cheaply the seller will be willing to sell them to you, just to get rid of them. Yard sales are a lot of work and cleaning up the unsold items is a headache! You can help the seller and yourself by taking some of these items off their hands.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Little bit of Autumn

After posting about the Christmas Stocking I made yesterday, I thought I'd better get back to reality! Its not even officially fall yet, after all.

Here are a couple of spots in my home where I was able to put together a touch of Fall, using things I already had on hand.

Most of these items were given to me as gifts in the past. The green apples came off a tree in the back yard. I like the way the color of the apples goes with the cookbook.

I added the raffia bow, scarecrow and pumpkin that I had in storage, to make this little corner on the fireplace.

Only 11 more days until the first day of Fall!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Toile Christmas Stocking

Today is Whatcha Working One Wednesday at Leslie's Blog, My Country Home, so here's what I've been working on lately:

1. Toile Christmas Stocking.

Yes, I worked on a new Christmas Stocking on Labor Day! A friend gave me a box full of nice hardback Christmas idea books. I looked through them and several toile items caught my eye. I have been planning to make new Christmas stockings for my family because the ones they had been using were beginning to look bad, especially a couple that were over 20 years old.

I decided to make the stocking on the spur of the moment and just happened to have a scrap of black and white toile. I looked through my other scraps, which I had organized a few months ago, and found the perfect black and white plaid flannel for the cuff. This flannel was salvaged from a piece of my husband's clothing. Then I looked through my button jar and found an "Old Navy" button that used to be on a wool coat that belonged to my daughter. So I have claimed this stocking for my own since it has some sentimental value to me.

I went through my Christmas fabrics, also organized a while back, and put together several other combinations of plaids, prints, corduroys, etc. to make 7 more stockings.

This is the first stocking I've made. Its lined and is a lot like making a lined pocketbook. When I make another stocking, I hope to take pictures for a tutorial for this blog. Would anyone be interested in a tutorial for making this stocking?

2. If you saw my post yesterday, you've already seen the other project I worked on over the weekend, a new fall pocketbook. Here it is in progress:

Finished project:

3. Spiderman Quilt: I finished the hand quilting last night! Now I just need to remove all the quilting lines that were put on with a water soluble pen, make the binding and sew it on.

So what have you been working on lately?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Another Fall Pocketbook

Its hard to believe, but this will be the third Fall that I've been making my own pocketbooks. The last two Autumns I carried THIS BAG.

Here is the new one I made for this Autumn:

I need to give credit to Artsy Crafty Babe for this pattern. Here is the link for the pattern: Artsy Crafty Babe Pocketbook Pattern

My thanks also goes to Elizabeth for the fabric.

I also want to thank Rhonda for posting about the bag she made using the pattern HERE.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Barn

I love the way a plain old thing such as a barn or mailbox looks when the sun first comes up in the morning. I can see this old tobacco barn out my back door. I have a love/hate relationship with tobacco barns.

I grew up working on a tobacco farm in the South, when it was way more labor intensive than it is now. I started driving the tractor that pulled the tobacco harvester when I was 8. No umbrella or sunscreen. The tractor creeped along from 7:00 A.M. until... pulling the harvester which carried the workers. There were 4 pairs of workers. Each pair was made up of a cropper who sat on the low seat near the ground and the Tying person who sat above the cropper. The cropper "cropped" the tobacco and handed a hand full of leaves to the Tyer. The Tyer tied it on to tobacco sticks (aka baccer sticks). When the stick was full another worker would take the sticks full of tobacco and stack them neatly in a tobacco trailer being pulled behind the harvester. There were usually other people walking behind the harvester picking up any fallen leaves of tobacco or cropping any missed leaves. There was a lot of skill involved in being able to tie the leaves on the sticks and when I was old enough to assume this job, I was pretty good at it! You were lucky if you got a skilled partner to work with. If it was a bad one, then your job was harder.

When each trailer was full, it was pulled to a tobacco barn like the one in the picture to be hung on the tier poles. The boys and men did this job. There would be an assembly line from the trailer to the boys in the top of the barn, each person handing the next person the tobacco sticks. After the tobacco was cured, the process was reversed. The tobacco had to be taken out of the barn and prepared for the market. This was usually done in packhouses. The sticks were placed on "tobacco horses" where the leaves were taken off the sticks and placed into tobacco sheets and then taken to the market.

Lots of people who worked in the tobacco fields in those days have fond memories of all this. Not me! All I can say is that it was hot and dirty. Sometimes the Nicotine or the poison sprayed on the tobacco leaves would make me sick which meant I was nauseated for several hours. There were tobacco worms! YUCK! and NO, I do not now or have I ever smoked.

So, what's the love part of the love/hate relationship with tobacco barns? Well, now you can see them scattered throughout the countryside, dilapidated and over grown with vines. They are part of my past and the history of the South. And, Lord willing, I will never have to work in one again!

I hope you are having a peaceful and restful Labor Day! I know many of my North Carolina readers have memories similar to mine about growing up on a tobacco farm. What kinds of memories do you have of growing up on a farm or in the city?

Friday, September 4, 2009


My sweet husband brought me these pumpkins yesterday.

Autumn is almost here and I'm really happy about that.

I hope you have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Make a Dish Towel

I have been meaning to buy some more dish towels, but never seemed to get around to it. Yesterday I saw a tutorial for making dish towels on a blog. Forgive me, but I can't give credit since I have no idea which blog it was.

Anyway, last night after work, while supper was cooking, I whipped up this one. The fabric is kind of drab, but seemed like a good choice to try a dish towel on. Its a medium weight and after being pre-washed is very soft. Perfect for a dishtowel. I have several more pieces of similar fabric that I plan to turn into dishtowels. This one only took a few minutes.

Here is the back showing the ribbon hanging loop.

They are easy to make. All you have to do is cut out the size towel you want, plus about 1/2 inch all the way around the rectangle. Then press under a 1/4 inch edge once and then turn that over 1/4 inch again and press. Sew close to this edge. You can easily add a loop for hanging on one corner using ribbon, etc.

As I said the fabric in this one isn't that pretty, but using fabric in my stash is a great way to be frugal! If I enjoy using this type towel, I will make some prettier ones soon.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Some Frugal Birthday Party Ideas

It seems like only yesterday when I was planning birthday parties for my children. I can't believe my daughter is now planning birthday parties for her own child! Trust me, she's way better at it than I ever was. Here are just a few of the ideas she came up with for my grandson's 2nd birthday party this past weekend. He turned two and is crazy about anything to do with tools.

1. The first thing she did that saved money was to use "Evite" for the invitations. No postage or purchasing invitations. Evite keeps up with who has been invited, who has responded, who has read the invitations, you name it. It even reminds everyone about the party the day before. The Evite invitations she used were construction/tool related too.

2. She made her own decorations. They looked like store bought to me. This wall banner was made using a real tape measure and letters that she cut out herself. Isn't that cute?

This was on the front door:

3. She and a friend made the cake. A cake in the shape of a saw, no less! I think it turned out great!

4. The only real expense she had was the food, plates, napkins, etc., which she bought at BJs, a warehouse club.

The favorite toy of the day, a toy weed wacker!

Glimpses of Home - A Little Bit of Fall

I've been enjoying Fall.  I love this time of year. Having a hubby who is retired is great.  He does so many things around the house. ...