The Quickest & Easiest Way To Warm Your Heart & Soul

While very few of us would argue the benefits of a warm heart and soul but what about the rest of your body? What if there was a quick and easy way to warm other important areas – for example your neck, shoulders, knees, hands…

So, once your chilly body parts are warmed it would stand to reason this warmth would naturally extend to your heart and soul as well, right?

Of course!

Now we have the “what” and “why” settled, it’s time to tackle the how = easy and the when = quickly!

HOW ARE WE GOING TO ACCOMPLISH THIS?

In a previous post I hinted at my next project. It would involve these fabulous fabrics that I purchased here:

Quilting Fabric

Fun fabrics plus a need for heat equals – DIY Rice Bags and Cover!

This is a project that is quick and easy because it only involves sewing straight stitches – no piecing together a complex pattern or even true quilting for that matter – unless of course, you want add that extra touch.

These little gems are wonderful! I was introduced to these many years ago from a friend who also taught me a new weaving technique. Over the years we have lost touch but I’ve never forgotten her “microwave rice bags”.

Each year as Christmas draws near and I begin to make my list of gift recipients I try to think of giving something unique yet useful…something I would want to receive. After a little brainstorming, the idea to make rice bags once again surfaced near the top of my gift-giving list.

This is something that can be as easy or as complex you want it to be. They can be customized, personalized and re-used over and over. The cover is removable and washable so they are as easy to care for as they are to use.

The image above shows the single handled striped inner bag (before it was filled with rice) along with the cover made from the snowflake printed fabric.

IS THIS PROJECT AS QUICK AND EASY AS IT LOOKS?

For the most part, yes.

My first attempt with a project like this was about 20 years ago and the only sewing I did was for the cover. The rice filled hot pad was actually a sock that I sewed closed. Very utilitarian – it did the job but wasn’t much to look at.

I’m now at a point in my life where I have the time and resources to bring together a little higher level of form and function. This particular rice bag is, in some respects, better than my first however, during the construction process I began to think of better ways to do this. No doubt, I will probably make several of these and anticipate during the process I will make improvements on both the technique and appearance and will post as an update in the near future.

PART 1 – THE RICE BAG

1. Choose two different fabrics you would like to use. Fat quarters are great size to begin with and for one rice bag you will need a total of (4) fat quarters – or (1) yard of fabric total. This translates as follows: (2) fat quarters or 1/2 yard for the bag and (2) fat quarters or 1/2 yard for the cover. When finished, if a larger or smaller size is desired then it is easy to adjust the measurements.

2. For my project, I cut (2) rectangles, 18″ x 7″ from the striped fabric.

Next, I cut (2) rectangles, 20″ x 8 1.2″ from the snowflake print.

3. The top edge – and only the top edge – of all four rectangles need to be folded and stitched. This creates a finished opening that doesn’t fray. The other three sides will be sewn to the matching fabric with right sides together.

I began with folding down 1/4″ on the short (top) side of each striped rectangle and press. Fold again another 1/4″, press and stitch along somewhere around an 1/8″ from this folded edge.

Fabric Cut Fold & Stitch

This is where I began to have one, of many, “I-should-add-_____-to-make-this-pretty-and-or-more-functional” ideas. This time I felt having a handle attached to the rice bag would be useful and serve at least two purposes.

1. To make it easier to hold the bag steady while sliding the cover on or off.

2. Use the handle to place the bag closer to your skin or keep in place if wrapped around your leg or shoulder.

Another confession: I love fabric selvages – especially those with a nice fringe, written text or sample colors used in the manufacture of the fabric. Since the striped fabric is a woven ticking fabric with a nice even fringed selvage, I decided to use about am 8″ length to create the handle.

Placing the right sides together (with the woven material I chose here, both sides look the same) I stitched the remaining three sides together, clipped the corners, turned right side out and pressed flat.

The top right image above shows the finished bag ready to be filled with rice. Whether you choose to add a handle or not don’t fret about the appearance of the inside edge. Once it is filled with rice this entire opening will be sewn closed and out of sight.

At this point you have a couple of options. The easiest would be to fill the entire bag about 2/3rds full of rice, sew closed and call it a day.

Those who know me also know I’m not known for ending a project so quickly and “calling it a day”. Where is the story in that?

Pondering on the size of this bag I felt the finished bag would be easier to drape and fold if it were divided into separate compartments. I like the number three so I went with that!

Three compartments would only require two additional stitch lines. I simply divided the length of the bag by 3 and used an air soluble pen to mark each of the two stitch lines. One stitch line may be enough but this particular bag is a little large and rice can get heavy AND it’s much easier to prevent ripped stitches than it is to go back and repair later.

A bag like this will get a lot of wear and tear.

Now, back to the bag!

No exact measurements are needed – this is something you can just eyeball.

Once the lines are drawn, go ahead and fill with rice. Again, no exact measurements here – I just filled enough so the rice came to about 2/3rds the distance between the bottom of the bag and the two stitch lines.

Bag Mark Fill & Stitch

Sewing the first dividing line was easy. Sewing between the second and third compartments was another story. Using one hand to keep the rice pushed to one side of the sewing line was almost impossible. After a couple of trials and twice as many errors I had another one of those “light bulb” ideas.

The solution? A clear glue stick! In fact, after using it for the 2nd and 3rd compartments I’m recommending using it for the first one as well. It’s easier to do than it sounds and will save you tons of frustration and headaches.

Rice Bag Construction

HOW IT IS DONE

1. Use a large scoop or spoon and funnel and pour rice into bag.

2. Fold top of bag down and using one hand as a guide, reach inside with the other holding the glue stick and glide the glue around the bag where the marked stitched lines are located.

3. Pinch and press closed then take to the ironing board and run your iron for 3-4 seconds over the glue strip. It isn’t permanent but will hold long enough to walk to your sewing machine.

4. Position to lay flat and stitch along both lines.

5. Return to upright position and repeat steps 1-4 for the next compartment.

6. The final step is the easiest – glue around the inside at the top, iron closed then stitch.

7. The bag is now finished!

PART 2 – THE COVER

After finishing the bag you may be thinking – “I’m not sewing another stitch… I’m done”.

But let me assure you, this next part is really super quick and easy. Just sew together two pieces of fabric, turn right sides out and call it a day.

I will admit, that was totally my original thought however, as is typical of me, I began to have more of those “how-can-I-make-this-prettier” ideas and one of those ideas involved using some left over piping across the top edge to give the cover a more finished look.

The first image below shows the process of adding piping to the right side along the top (short) edges that will become the opening for the cover.

Once the piping is attached to both edges place right sides of the fabric together and stitch a 3/8″ seam around the perimeter to join three sides (exactly as you did with the rice bag) leaving the top end (with the piping sewn on) open.

Rice Bag Cover

Next, clip the corners, turn right side out, press and it’s ready for use!

Since rice is somewhat large, I hung the rice bag from the handle then slipped on the cover by sliding it up.

When ready for use slide the cover off and place rice bag in the microwave.

For a rice bag this size it may take as long as 2 minutes to fully heat. Start with 1 minute, turn the bag over and heat for another 1 minute. Be careful, as these bags are HOT!

BONUS

If your heart, soul and anything else needs a little cooling down, these bags can also be used as COLD PACKS!

Place them in the freezer for 1 – 2 hours, cover and use as needed!

Has anyone else made rice bags like these? I would love to hear about your experiences – what worked – what didn’t.

Please feel free to share any tips or suggestions to help me and others improve upon this design!

The Quickest, Easiest & Cutest Christmas Ornaments I’ve Ever Made!

 

Being Human I Have a Few Weaknesses

Shiny objects, cute puppies, cinnamon rolls, buffalo plaid, pretty fabric and, of course, anything Christmas, just name a few.

 

Christmas Tree Ornament

 

Another weakness (as the title of my site would suggest) is quilting and sewing however, the specific pattern or design that is making me swoon these days is the pinwheel pattern.

The minute I felt like I had mastered the techniques of sewing squares together I decided to bite the bullet and give making a quilt top using the pinwheel design a go.

As beginning quilting or quilt piecing goes, triangles and pinwheels are not typically anywhere on any list of quilting and sewing techniques suggested for a beginner – like me. But how can one resist? The pattern has such a fun and playful appearance and the potential color combinations is, if nothing else, inspiring. With all that going in its favor what is all the fuss? Piecing all those triangles can’t be that difficult!

 

Pinwheel Quilt Tops

 

Turns out it kinda is and there were a few tips and techniques I should have mastered first

 

My first two “finished is better than perfect” pinwheel quilt
tops shown above were actually not that difficult to make.

A closer look however, reveals what is difficult – getting every
point to perfectly match up with an adjacent point or corner.

But all that fuss is for another day.

 

Today, I want to show you a super quick and easy way to create a fabric ornament into the shape of a 3-dimensional pinwheel.

These can be used on a tree, to embellish a gift bag or applique onto a pillow. This is a design that with just a change of colors or design motif can be adapted to any season of the year!

A project like this is also a great way to use up those fabric scraps or remnants from a precut bundle. For these ornaments I’m using left over fabric from last year called “A Moose for Christmas” – a fabric line by Cheryl Haynes for Benartex fabrics.

This particular fabric line may not be available in your local fabric store but it can still be purchased here.

 

Let’s Get Started!

 

For each pinwheel you need

  • (2) 5″ squares of fabric – (1) print and (1) contrasting solid.
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Iron and ironing surface
  • Air soluble marking pen
  • Button or other sew-on embellishment
  • Needle and thread

 

Preparing the Square

Part 1

Stitching & Turning Fabric Square

  • Place each fabric square with right sides together.
  • Stitch around the entire perimeter of the square leaving about a 1 1/2″ opening for turning.
  • Clip the corners and turn right side out.

NOTE : The opening shown in the 3rd image above is almost too small. I was able to turn the square right side out but it was a bit difficult. Don’t be afraid to make the opening closer to 2 or 2 1/2″ – closing it later will still be very quick and easy.

 

Part 2

Marking Fabric Squares

Use a long thin object with blunt end (chop stick, paint brush) to push out the corners and smooth the edges then press flat.

Turn the square so the solid side is face up and mark a 1 1/2″ line from each of the four corners toward the center.

Once marked, take a sharp pair of scissors and cut on each of the four lines from the corners you just marked.

 

Making the Pinwheel

Part 1

Sewing 1/4' Around Fabric Square

At the sewing machine, stitch 1/4″ from every open edge.

It’s a little tricky sewing around each of the cut lines but using a 1/4″ presser foot with a metal “fence” is a perfect guide.

If the points are somewhat ragged or uneven this is a good time to once again use your sharp scissors and just trim off any excess you don’t want showing.

 

Part 2

Folding Fabric Squares

Next, fold up every other point toward the center. A small drop of glue can be used here or – you can do as I did – fold up one corner at a time and secure with a stitch until all four corners are folded.

 

Finishing the Pinwheel Ornament

Finished Pinwheel Ornaments

Stitch a button or other embellishment in the center. This gives the ornament a nice finished appearance and hides the tips of the folded corners.

 

Other finishing touches:
  • Stitch a small loop on the back to thread an ornament hanger.
  • Stitch a larger loop to be used as a hanger.
  • Stitch or pin onto a long piece of jute or ribbon for use as a garland

 

If you have already tried this technique or if this is entirely new and you want to give it a try please include a picture of your creation in the comments below. 🙂

 

Pinwheel Christmas Ornaments

UPDATE:  New images showing how these Pinwheel Ornaments look when placed on two of my indoor Christmas trees.  

How Small Business Saturday Makes You a Better Person

Total Reported Spending at Independent Retailers and Restaurants on Small Business Saturday Tops an Estimated $100 Billion since the Day Was Founded by American Express in 2010 ~ New York (Business Wire).

 

 

 

You may be asking what does an event like Small Business Saturday – which occurred 2 weeks ago, have to do with quilting, sewing or creativity in general?

Actually, there is more in common than you might think. People, like myself, that are driven to create and share that creative spirit are the small business owners that thrive in the entrepreneurial environment SBS was designed to foster and support.

Each year since 2010, the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, (sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday) has been designated as Small Business Saturday. The intent is to generate a renewed interest in small businesses and restaurants while simultaneously helping these local entrepreneurs compete with larger retail outlets for holiday shopping customers.

I’m all for anything that gives any small business an economic boost and I make it a priority to participate and contribute in any way I can. As for me, I love the personal attention you receive in a small business or restaurant and I will choose first to frequent these shops any time of the year.

Small Business Saturday 2019

My goal for next year is to create a quilt fabric road trip” – or, “MyQuiltingSpace Trek – Part 1” and see how many businesses I can visit on this one day. Although my primary intent will be to spend money, this will also serve as an excellent opportunity to discover businesses that are new to me and to meet and network with these inspiring and innovative business owners.

As a tribute to the individuals and their respective businesses who consistently provide me with endless inspiration (and fabric!) my contribution for this year’s event focused on the two stores listed below.

 

My First Stop:

The Quilter’s Station.

 

 

I feel so fortunate to live only 2 miles away from such a wealth of fabric, patterns, notions and expertise.

This one-of-a-kind quilt shop is locally owned by Rita Briner and specializes in primitive fabrics as well as reproduction prints, woolens, flannels, and home spun wool. Walking through the isles viewing bolt after bolt after… of fabric you soon realize this experience is no different from being a kid in a candy store.

Each time I walk through the door I pretty much lose my mind and almost immediately find myself darting off into a myriad of directions. I’m easily drawn to the patterns or woolens sections although my original intent was look for cotton fabric that would pattern and color and coordinate with the fabric swatches in my hand.

Am I the only one that does this? I mean just take a look at the image below…what you’re viewing is just a very small sampling of the eye candy you’ll find when you first walk through the door!

 

 

On this particular Small Business Saturday I was able to remain somewhat focused and with the help of her friendly and knowledgeable staff I was able to locate and choose the exact fabrics I was looking for:

 

 

Stay tuned to see the transformation of these fabrics into something that will warm your heart and soul!

 

Second Stop –

The Missouri Star Quilt Company

I could write a novel on this mercantile wonderland – what I refer to as the “Quilting Mecca of Missouri”. It is actually several stores that occupy a large portion of all available retail space within downtown Hamilton, Missouri. Each of the 14 different quilting shops that encompass the Missouri Star Quilt Co., is decorated and stocked according to a theme. For example, ‘Batiks Boutique’, ‘Man’s Land’ the ‘Machine Shop’ and ‘Penny’s Quilt Shop’.

Should you be interested, you will find doing even a small amount of research on the origins of the MSQC and owner, Jenny Doan to be very worthwhile and inspiring. The connection between the MSQC and JC Penny is also quite interesting.

I never tire of hearing her story.

Traveling to the MSQC is a good 1 hour and 15 minute drive from my home so needless to say it is not a shop I am able to physically frequent too often but the online store is every bit worth a visit. This is how I used the Missouri Star Quilt Co., to contribute to SBS.

The day I discovered the MSQC I subscribed to their daily emails so turning on my computer and opening my email was the most effort I had to make! From my home and the MSQC home page I was able to shop a huge variety of fabrics, patterns, kits and notions. On this day, I was able to make use of the “Daily Deal” and with the offering of free shipping and other freebies I was delivered a box of goodies that made me feel like it was Christmas morning!

Below are fabrics from the Scandi 5 fabric collection by Andover:

 

 

Taking a look at the website earlier today with the hope of making a second purchase makes me more thankful that I bought this fabric bundle when I did as it is now listed as “Sold Out Forever”. Whew! Thank goodness for Small Business Saturday and the Missouri star Quilt Company!

These winter themed fabrics will make a wonderful quilt. I have in mind a couple of patterns I’d like to use with this fabric. As soon as I decide and begin that project I will be posting about that process so stay tuned!

 

So how does spending money at a small business or restaurant make you a better person?

According to BusinessCommerce.com, “The unofficial shopping holiday now has 70% awareness amongst U.S. consumers, with 64% of survey respondents indicating that their primary motivation for shopping on the day after Black Friday was to support their local community.”

Every few months we read where a large powerful company purchases another large company. And then another. The fear of consumers and small business owners alike is the inevitable end result – one or two large oligopolies whose purpose is to seek out other smaller businesses to purchase and control leading to a market monopoly.

Is a retail monopoly really so bad?

A large homogenized behemoth that disregards the value of the individual creative spirit and stifles efforts to facilitate innovation and ingenuity may provide convenience to the masses in the short term but the long term effects can be devastating. Historically, the existence of a lack of diversity within any culture has resulted in the death of many natural entities – species of animal, human and horticultural life to start with.

It is my hope that through the efforts of Small Business Saturday and other entrepreneurial events that the public will take notice and do what we can to preserve these valuable community establishments.

As our communities prosper, then as consumers, we too share in that prosperity.

The skills and talents of local businessmen and women will always need a platform for expression and service. A large, soulless corporation does not allow for this.

When you support any small business on Small Business Saturday as well as every day of the year you become a wiser, happier, more responsible and valuable consumer.

And these attributes are what make each of us a better person.