I love the ceramic Bohin marking pencils. They make a thin, perpetually sharp line that I can see. The line stays on just long enough to quilt or applique through. And, it totally comes out with a light wash or by erasing.
With Bohin refills (6 of each color per pack) I have my choice of white, gray, pink, green, and yellow, depending on the fabric I’m marking.
I’m including a BIC mechanical pencil with each color refill I sell on my web page until I run out.
Here’s how to make Pencil Pocket to keep them all organized. (Click images.)
Step #1: Remove the Pencil Lead
Push the eraser on top of the pencil several times to advance the lead that comes inside the pencil. When you’ve got enough poking out the tip to grab onto, about 1/2″, push the eraser down and hold it down. Yank out the lead. Gently twist off the eraser and dump the other two leads out. Then insert the Bohin ceramic leads from the container. The pencil will hold all 6. Replace the eraser.
Step #2: Cut Fabric
Find two coordinating fabrics, one for the outside of the Pencil Pocket, and one for the inside. (I picked a funky black and a wild pink.) Layer them right sides together. Cut both fabrics at the same time into two 5″ x 5″ squares. They’ll be ready to sew in the next step.
Step #3: Sew
With right sides together and raw edges even (you just cut them like that so they should be perfect) stitch 1/4″ from the raw edges with thread that matches either one fabric or the other. Leave a 3″ opening so that you can turn them right side out. (Backstitch at the beginning and ending to that the stitches won’t come out in the next step.
Step #4: Trim & Turn
Trim all four corners to reduce bulk. You’ll be cutting off a teeny tiny triangle from each corner. Then, reach into the opening and turn the two stitched squares right sides out. Push out the corners with your finger. If there is still fabric stuck in there, take the BIC mechanical pencil, push the eraser down, hold it down, and push whatever lead might be sticking out at the other end up and into the barrel of the pencil. Use the pointy end of the pencil to gently coerce the fabric out. Be careful not to poke the pencil through the fabric. Make sure the sides are fully turned as well. If they’re not popping out, stick a straight pin in the seam and carefully lift them out.
Step #6: Fold Twice
With the opening at the bottom (you’re right, it has not been sewn shut yet) fold the Pencil Pocket in half vertically. Then fold over the upper right corner diagonally until it meets the vertical fold as shown. Press.
Step #8: Sew & Finish
Refold the long vertical fold. Line up the edges along the bottom and right side. With thread that matches the “outside” fabric of the Pencil Pocket, stitch close to the edges, backstitching to secure ends, as shown. The stitching will complete the pocket as it closes the opening.
Now that you know how to make a Pencil Pocket, order your Bohin refills here. They come with the colorful mechanical pencils like you see here.
The tradition continues, but this time with a twist.
I’ve shared that I make quilts for nieces and nephews. Now we’re on the second generation, quilt #2. This is Lee’s Quilt and I added something a little different. I “signed it” with a QR code. A what?!
A QR code, or Quick Response code, is a type of bar code. It is read by a machine and contains information about the object to which it is attached, like this quilt. W-H-A-T?!
This is a QR code for AmiSimms.com. Great. Now what? Well, if you had a smart phone, you would download a free app like QR Reader and you would hold it up to the computer monitor, line up this little black and white code through your smart phone camera, wait for the little beep, and you would magically be taken to my website.
(Don’t ask me what to do if you are reading this blog post on your smart phone, although there is probably an app for that too!)
My website. Big deal.
Wait! There’s more! You can purchase a QR code professionally printed onto a fabric label. They are called Story Patches and they come in “sew-on” or “iron-on.” Incidentally, while I appliqued this onto the quilt after the top was finished, I could just as easily have pieced it in. And, it would have lived just as happily on the back of the quilt as on the front of the quilt. Watch the video to see how the QR code works and to see close-ups of the quilt.
The hardest part is deciding what you want the QR code to do. In addition to linking it to a video message, you could link it to a photograph, an audio message, or a written document. Best of all, you can change the video, photo, audio message or document any time you want. The QR code can be “read” by scanning, or by entering the letter code into a web site. There’s no expiration on the QR code either. They’re also washable.
If you’d like to try a Story Patch (QR code) on your next quilt, I carry both the sew-on and the iron-on in my online store . Click here. If I’m coming to your quilt guild I’ll be happy to save you shipping and hand deliver these and/or any other lightweight items to you when I come. Just give me some advance notice.
My quilting career began almost 40 years ago in an Amish home in northern Indiana. I thought the women gathered around the quilting frame in the living room were sewing on a trampoline. I was clueless. They asked me if I wanted to quilt too. Of course I said yes. I wanted them to like me. I figured if they liked me they would invite me to come live with them and then I could learn about Amish culture by participating in it. And then I could write a really long paper with lots of footnotes and graduate from college.
They asked if I wanted a thimble. I declined. They giggled. I bled. Not only did I jab my finger on the underside of the quilt with the point of the needle, but I rammed the eye of the needle into the top finger too—the one that should have been wearing the thimble.
I made huge ugly stitches but I didn’t give up. They assumed I could sew. I didn’t tell them that my sewing was limited to the apron I butchered in Home Eck, and the Superman outfit (complete with cape and tail cozy) that I had sewed for our cat. Years later, my Amish friend told me they ripped out all my stitches after I left. I don’t know what they did about the blood.
As luck would have it, my Amish friend invited me home for dinner after the quilting. She probably thought if I was as good a cook as I was a quilter I would starve to death without intervention. That day changed my life. There’s just no other way to put it. I began visiting the family, staying a few days at a time, and have been blessed with a friendship that not only enriched my life, but nurtured a passion for quilting. I did get better at quilting. It would have been hard to get any worse. I never got very good at milking or driving the buggy. In fact, when my friend Ida let me take over the buggy reins (above), the horse knew a total amateur was at the helm. Joe (the horse) turned around, looked me in the eye, and then marched off the side of the road!
I’ll be going back to Amishland again at the end of June. This time I’ll be teaching for the Shipshewana Quilt Festival. I hope you can come. I’ll be giving two lectures, a workshop, several Schoolhouse lessons, in-store demonstrations, and I’ll be part of a panel discussion too. Come! You will feel right at home. See the quilt show, visit the vendor mall, check out the local quilt shops, and events. Don’t forget to come by and say “Hi.”
For more information and registration information, click here.
Don’t forget to bring your thimble,
Piecing Sticky Template Plastic couldn’t be easier. And that’s great because once you use Sticky Template Plastic for small shapes, you’re going to want to use it on large shapes too.
I just finished making Carol Cruise’s Baby Bear (www.CarolsZoo.com) and thought I’d show you how to piece Sticky Template Plastic for the larger Mama Bear pattern, with Carol’s permission, of course.
Step 1: Iron the paper pattern on low heat. You will still be able to see and feel the fold lines because Carol uses sturdy paper for her patterns but it’s important to iron the creases out and make the paper FLAT.
Step 2: See how many sheets of Sticky Template Plastic you need. It looks like I can do this pattern with 3 sheets and a small piece leftover Sticky Template Plastic from another project. I want to make sure I cover every bit of the design.
Click the images to see them larger.
Step 3: For small shapes the release paper is removed and the Sticky Template Plastic is placed sticky side up on a flat surface. For larger shapes and multiple pieces of Sticky Template Plastic, the pattern is on the flat surface, right side up.
Peel the release paper off the first sheet of Sticky Template Plastic and place it on the pattern. Make sure you know exactly where it needs to go before you lower it onto the paper pattern. ( Line it up by looking at the top and the left side of the pattern.)
Step 4: Remove the release paper from the next sheet of Sticky Template Plastic. Hold it at an angle against the edge of the piece already in place with just the edge touching, not the sticky surface. Make sure the edges align at the sides as well. Then, lower the rest of the second sheet onto the pattern.
Step 6: Here’s my scrap piece of Sticky Template Plastic. It was a “corner” so I knew it was a perfect right angle with two straight sides. If it wasn’t a corner I would have made sure that the left side, the side touching the previously placed sheet of Sticky Template Plastic, was perfectly straight. Notice that I dropped it down a little. Because there was space between the back and the front pattern pieces, no sense wasting the Sticky Template Plastic. I also had slid a corner of the release paper underneath as I placed the sheet in Step 5, again so as to have some leftovers for other projects. You can see the release paper way over on the right.
Step 7: To keep the entire template (composed of several pieces of Sticky Template Plastic) rigid, cut scraps of Stitch Template Plastic about 1/2″ wide and stick them over the “seam.” They don’t need to cover the entire seam. (The other lines you see in the image are fold lines. Those are secure under the Sticky Template Plastic.) The joins won’t interfere with the performance of the template in any way, in fact they may help when templates are flipped over to cut the reverse shape (for the other side of the bear) because they will keep the slippery side of the plastic from sliding on the fabric. If you want the template to fold (so you can store it more easily) skip this step. Just know that over time the original paper pattern will tear at the fold. And, the more pieces of Sticky Template Plastic you use, the more difficult it will be to fold.
Thanks for stopping by,
Our daughter Jennie and her husband Craig are expecting their first child in October. That would be our first grandchild. Just call me Grandma.
Let me first say that Babies R Us has seriously missed the boat with their lack of gender-unknown clothing selections. Within hours of receiving the news (that of which I could not speak until today) I drove right over to Babies R Us. Time to change the store’s name to Frustrated B Me. There were racks and racks of “girl baby” clothes and racks and racks of “boy baby” clothes, but there wasn’t even a section for “we won’t know until it’s born” clothes. I literally bought everything there was in the whole store for “either or” gender, size 3 months and under and I carried it out in one bag. Apparently ducks are big if you’re waiting to be surprised.
Look right and you’ll see one of the first photographs of my grandchild. (Excuse me, of Jennie and Craig’s baby.) I was as mystified by the ultrasound as I was by Babies R Us. I pretended to see the little head, and the little limbs. It wasn’t until Jennie told me where to zoom in (3 weeks later) that I could actually see these things.
I am following along on my What To Expect iPhone app and we are now in Week 12, Day 6. Never having been pregnant, I find this all totally amazing. The baby has grown from poppy seed to blueberry, to raspberry, to green olive, to prune, to large plum, and now to peach! I’m guessing that grapefruit it next.
After the disappointing visit to Babies R Us, I hit JoAnn’s to check out the patterns. Not a single long sleeved, footed sleeper with the zipper that runs from neck to crotch and then down one leg. I checked all the pattern books. I’m just going to have to reverse engineer one! I did meet a woman at the airport who showed me how to knit baby hats on a loom. I think I’ve made 27 so far. Poor little kid has nothing to wear but hats!
I think I’m OK in the quilt department, but I’m going to need your help with other things I can sew, along with your coolest ideas for baby shower stuff. I probably won’t have a chance to moderate/read your comments until Wednesday, but please share all your good baby advice where it says COMMENT.
My cousin Niki is one smart cookie. There isn’t a lot that gets her down. Just look at that smile. That’s us at the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative booth last year in Houston.
I was thinking a lot about Niki the last few weeks. I was in need of an attitude adjustment.
Way back, when the AAQI had just started out, Niki was one of our quilt registrars. She had never seen the “back end” of a web page before. That’s the part where all the editing goes on. She quickly learned, as we all have, that one bad keystroke can cause a major problem. Except that Niki doesn’t have “problems.” She has “opportunities.”
Recently I decided to channel Niki. My recent “opportunities” have all been associated with writing and designing the pattern for my new Amazing Puzzle Ball pattern. I won’t bore you with the details as they were all computer and software related issues (er, “opportunities”), except to say that I have learned a bunch of new things. As soon as I started flipping out, I tried to re-frame the problem as an opportunity. It really helped!
Here’s a quilting example. Do you remember the quilt I made for my niece? It was Lesson 4 in Five Things That Will Help You Become A Better Quilter. I had a major “opportunity” with this quilt as I put it in the frame. I didn’t call it that at the time, but looking back, my attitude was in the right place. Had it not been, I don’t know if I would have ever finished the quilt.
I sewed the rip shut, but I needed to hide my mending. I covered it with prairie points.
That created another opportunity: I had four prairie points sitting in a lump on one side of the quilt all by themselves. That looked pretty silly. So I added more prairie points all around the outside edge. That made it look like that was the plan all along. Not only did the prairie points give me a secondary design element, but it suggested a quilting motif too. Win-Win!
Life is full of problems, large and small. “Opportunities” abound. It’s all in how you look at them.