How to Pack Softly

One of the mysteries of travel is how to pack a suitcase. For me, there are three big concerns: weight, keeping things dry, and packing so nothing breaks while en route. My lightweight cloth suitcase with wheels is my go-to companion on trips. And having seen my luggage sitting on the tarmac in a heavy rainstorm, I know that everything in my suitcase must be in a plastic bag.

And then there is breakage. In the past my hand-dyed threads were displayed in plastic trays at a venue. And often I returned with the plastic trays cracked or broken by the airline baggage system. But finally I came up with a soft, lightweight, non-breakable solution- fabric trays.

How to Make a Quick Fabric Tray

  • Choose an old quilt that is hankering for a new life. The quilts I’m using measure about 20 inches by 20 inches.
  • Fold the quilt with the right sides together at each corner. Stitch across the folded quilt at about 3 inches from where the sides meet to the fold.
  • You may want to use the walking foot on your machine.
  • Roll the corner flaps back to reveal the pretty quilt interior.
  • Fill the fabric trays with beautiful hand-dyed threads.
  • Enjoy your flight!

What’s Stitching? A Knot for Thanksgiving

colonialknot4It’s that time of year again,Thanksgiving. So put on your powdered wig, buckle your shoes, and grab your knickerbockers! We are about to learn the Colonial Knot. (OK, the knickerbockers reference may not be historically correct but grab something.)

Colonial Knots are faster to make than French Knots and you can easily toss them in as a background filler with the Scattered Seed stitches like those above. (It also gives you an excuse to wear knickerbockers.)

colonialknot1Here’s how to make Colonial Knots: Begin the thread on the top of the fabric at A. Form a small loop like a backwards letter C with the thread. With the needle to the right of point A, slip the needle tip under the thread coming out of A. The shaft of the needle will lay on top of the lower end of the thread.

colonialknot2Shift the needle tip in front of point A. Wrap the thread across the needle and slip it under the tip of the needle. It should look like a figure 8 around the needle.

colonialknot3Gently pull the thread around the needle as you scoot the needle tip across the fabric to insert it back into the fabric. Insert the needle tip very close to point A. Draw the needle and thread through the fabric.

Congratulations! You are now an official Colonial Knot Maker! You may now remove your knickerbockers and invite the neighbors over for Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What’s Stitching? Snip Outs

windycity18dMy next stitching challenge for this little Windy City quilt is to tackle the looming purple shrubbery on the horizon. But first let me show you the steps to make looming shrubbery from a fused fabric.


  • Cut the fabric into a shrub shape.
  • Flip the fabric over and cut on the fused side. (This is so the glue does tack to itself when cutting.)
  • Wedge the fabric into the crux of the scissors with your finger tip. Remove your finger tip.
  • Snip out a wedge of fabric.

windycity18eMy stitch choice for the shrubs is the lazy daisy stitch. It replicates the oval shape of the snip out and adds another stitch texture to the quilt surface. I’ve also chosen a light blue size 12 thread so the shrubs look less ominous. Looks safe to go home now.