The Sounds of Sewing: Creating Music with Your Sewing Supplies

By Kathy Mathews

A seam ripper from Havel's SewingImagine seeing your sewing studio with your eyes closed. Yes, that’s right, close your eyes and think about all the sounds of sewing that occur throughout the day in your own personal creative workspace. What sounds do you hear?

A snap as the light switch goes on, followed by more snaps from various machines and gizmos coming to life. A hiss from the iron as it heats up, getting the steam ready. Some studios lack this sound as a dry iron is preferred.

A buzzzzz as bobbins are filled. Different machines mean different bobbins. Some cruise while others are noisy sports cars. A click as the bobbins are snapped into their respective chambers. Sometimes we hear the gentle swish of a machine being cleaned with a brush or the light gurgle of oil cursing into the inner workings.

Scritching and scratching is heard as a pencil sketches on paper. At times, crunching and thuds of paper on the floor reverberate when designs are rejected. And then an awww — it’s the sound of satisfaction, of an idea transferred from a thought to paper and now to fabric.

The room is ready, the molecules of sound have combined to let us know that important and creative work will happen here today.

The slight swish or perhaps a louder thump as fabric is unfurled, smoothed and admired. Too gorgeous to cut? Don’t be crazy — it’s made to be cut! The snipping of scissors and the soft crunch of a blade lets us know that pieces are taking shape to be joined to others. A nearly silent whoosh of pin into fabric — you have to listen carefully for this step. And maybe open those eyes to avoid stepping on one!

Now the best sound of all, the whirring of the machine connecting fabric with thread. Sometimes it’s high-pitched and whining, other times languid and constant. It’s the sound of fabric taking on a shape, of a quilt being born.

Intermixed are pauses, breaks in sound and activity. Feet padding out and coming back. The clink of ice in a glass is the newest sound that allows for thoughts as well as refreshment. The clanging in my head, the clash of ideas, the flashing of inspiration cannot be heard, but my breathing reflects it. Can brain activity be perceived or only the product of it?

Purring, mewing, panting or chewing can occasionally be perceived as well-loved visitors paddle into the room. After much repetition of key sounds there is sometimes a deep sigh of contentment as all the sounds combine to create a pleasing whole. Other times there is the crash of a project rejected, the voice of irritation, the throwing of an innocent tool. Don’t worry, this storm shall pass. It may take the ticking of time or the savoring sound of chocolate being devoured, but it passes.

The ribbit of ripping may fill the studio with a bit of heavy breathing. But soon the soothing whirring of connection is heard again. Smiles and cries of exultation will eventually fill the air. Creation, completion and satisfaction achieved. Crescendo and done.

What are the sounds of sewing? The concert of a quilt? It’s a snapping, hissing, buzzing cacophony of machines and tools. It’s the combination of scritching, scratching, crunching and thudding followed by some snipping, crunching, whooshing and whirring. Then comes the clicking, beeping, whirling and tapping. Clinking and clanking are muffled by purring, mewing, panting or chewing. Sighs! Crash! Tick, tock and rip.

Hurray! The sounds of sewing always culminate into the touchable, visible and enjoyable – a finished quilt. Next time you sew, try for a minute to close your eyes and listen. Just not when you’re near the pins!

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About Kathy Mathews:

Kathy Mathews headshotKathy Mathews has been sewing for 49 years and quilting for 31, which is odd as she’s so young. She taught Spanish and French full-time for 35 years in Illinois Public Schools and then continued at the college level until 2014. During that time, quilting and sewing allowed her a creative outlet and kept her sane. In addition to needle arts she is an avid reader, swimmer, traveler and yoga newbie. She blogs mainly about quilting at She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, is the mother of two grown daughters and grandmother to the cutest 2-year-old girl in all the land. You can email her at


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DIY Craft Projects: Patriotic Flags for Your Summer Celebrations

By Jamie Fingal

Easy, fun and whimsical flags —
No batting, no binding, let’s get started!

Summer flags for DIY craft projectsFive easy-to-make flags, measuring 6 x 8 inches. Black wool blended felt for the foundation and red wool blended felt for the back. Probably about a 1/4 of a yard of each, making sure that you have at least eight inches of fabric. You can get all five flags in a row with this cut. National Nonwovens brand #TOY002.

Fabric to be used for summer DIY craft projectsThese are scraps from another project, already fused with Mistyfuse. I added a small amount of yellow for two stars, some green, an American flag and a trailer. If you need to see a tutorial about how to use Mistyfuse, there are several other projects on this blog to help you. Just search my name.

Foundation for summer flagsCut five each 6 x 8 inches of the black wool blended felt. This is what you will use for your foundation.

Strips of fabric being layered for summer flag projectI am layering the strips, cut with scissors (you can cut them with a rotary cutter if you prefer). I wanted them to be a bit wonky because I like that look, but you can make them straighter if you want. Each strip overlaps onto the next strip, so you have a really good bond with the Mistyfuse and the foundation.

Fabric strips used for a summer flag craft projectJust layer the strips and iron into place with a hot dry iron on the cotton setting. You may want to protect the surface of your table with either parchment paper or a Mistyfuse Goddess Sheet. Then you can just peel it off. Here are my wonky stripes.

Cutting from the back of the flagFlip the flag over and cut from the back, using the felt as your guide with a pair of scissors. You will do this for every flag you make.

Background of squares for summer flag projectWe just made the background for the one on the left, now make a background of squares. You can see that my squares are very wonky, so I am achieving the look that I originally envisioned. Overlap the squares, and iron into place and cut from the back.

Longer strips for summer DIY craft projectsLong strips. Overlapping, ironed and trimmed.

Fabric strips for a summer flagThe next flag has diagonal lines, which is fun. Just lay the strips across the felt at an angle. Press into place and cut from the back.

Summer flag halfway finishedAre we having fun yet?

Bonus fabric for a summer flag quiltThe bonus piece. You can use any fabric that has a house on it or a trailer, or a tent — some sort of dwelling. Or you can make it yourself. I am using a trailer from my fabric line “Home is Where Your Story Begins.”

Fabric to cut and incorporate into flagI am going to collage this into the design that I need for this project. I added some blue for the sky and green for a consistent landscape.

Adding on to summer flagThen I added an American flag on a pole. Trimmed from the back and this one is ready to go!

Stars for the flagNow onto making some stars. On a white piece of paper, draw a star — just a basic five point star, you can see how I drew it. I added an outline around it because after laying the paper over the flag I realized that my start was too small.

Pinning the star pattern to fabricI put two layers of fabrics together and pinned the pattern to them. Cut them out with a pair of scissors.

Stars on your flag backgroundsPlace the white stars on the backgrounds of your choice.

Stars to go on summer flags DIY craft projectsWith your same pattern, pin to two pieces of yellow fabric. Cut with a pair of scissors. You could throw caution to the wind and cut these a little larger if you desire.

Stars pressed onto background of flags Place on the two remaining backgrounds and press into place.

Five summer flags for your next DIY craft projectsNow you have five flags. Next step is the backing, which is the red layer of wool blended felt.

Sewing fabric bolt infoHere is the info on the bolt so you can see what kind of felt I use. This is Bright Red, the perfect backing for this project!

Summer flags ready for the sewing machinePlace each flag on the felt, and make sure it is a little larger than the flag. Now is the time for the sewing machine. I free-motion machine quilted these using a free-motion foot on my machine. The edges are zig-zagged to secure them into place. The quilting is pretty simple. This is a great way to practice free motion quilting. After you are done with the stitching, press each flag with a hot iron.

Five flags made from summer craft ideasUsing a pair of pinking shears, trim the red. It makes a fun edge for each piece. Five patriotic flags. You can paint wooden clothes pins with red paint for an extra touch. I usually hang my flags on laundry line you can buy anywhere. Scroll down to see each flag individually, so you can view it close up.

Diagonal stripe yellow star flagDiagonal stripe with yellow star.

Vertical stripe with white starVertical stripe with white star.

Trailer with flagTrailer with flag.

Checks with white starChecks with white star.

Horizontal stripes with yellow starHorizontal stripes with yellow star.

All five summer flagsThe flags! Thanks for following along! Happy Summer! Visit Jamie’s Twisted Sister blog at

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About Jamie Fingal:

Jamie Fingal fabric artistJamie Fingal is an artist, author, teacher, fabric designer and curator who hails from Orange, California. She is an award-winning artist and the author of the book Embellished Mini Quilts. Her whimsical and abstract work has been juried into international quilt exhibitions, featured in numerous books and magazines and has two instructional DVD’s — The Whimsical House Quilt and Rebel Quilting. She has been a guest on “Quilting Arts TV” multiple times in addition to being the other half of the curating team “Dinner at Eight Artists” with Leslie Tucker Jenison. You’ll find her work in private, public, churches and corporate collections. See more at


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Summer Craft Project: Fan Scissor Wrap

By Terry White

Fan Scissor Wrap #1

This project was so much fun that I kept making more in different styles. The first one received enough ooohs and ahhhs from friends that I knew this would have to become presents for my girls … all my girls!! AND, each one will suit the personality of the friend.

When you open up the wrap, there are three pockets for three different scissors. The pockets will hold scissors eight inches and smaller. This is my personal fan scissors wrap and such a fun craft to make!

The three scissors I use the most are:
1. Havel’s Bent Embroidery Scissors when I thread paint and use the decorative embroidery stitches on my Bernina.
2. Havel’s 7″ Serrated Scissors when I cut most fabrics and slippy trims.
3. Havel’s 5 1/2″ Curved Scissors when I cut appliqué shapes.

Fan Scissor Wrap #2


  • Four fabrics — I used cotton, but you can use anything you want!
  • 6”x12” scraps of three, and 17”x24” piece for the lining and pocket
  • Fusible interfacing — one piece 12”x17”
  • Fusible web — one piece 20”x20”
  • Beautiful threads for embroidery — I used Star Cottons, multi-colors (from the group which I designed). Choose threads and colors which will enhance your fabrics.
  • Shank button
  • Large two hole button
  • Elastic cord — 5” length
  • Beads and baubles for decoration
  • Permanent fabric markers — to color the elastic and (optional) to color the edge before or after edge stitching all around the wrap.
  • Havel’s Jumbo Rotary Cutter
  • Havel’s Bent Embroidery Scissors
  • Havel’s 7” Serrated Scissors
  • Felt or ultrasuede scraps — for labels
  • Clear plastic scraps — for label windows
  • Cardstock for ID’s

There are three main pieces to this project: the decorated cover, lining and scissor pocket.

The Decorated Cover

1. Use pattern piece A: Trace the shape onto fusible interfacing and cut out.

2. Use pattern pieces B, C, D, E, F: Trace each shape onto desired fabric and cut out.

Fan Scissor Wrap #3

Fan Scissor Wrap #4

Fan Scissor Wrap #5

Fan Scissor Wrap #6b

3. Lay the fabric shapes side by side onto the fusible interfacing and press.

Fan Scissor Wrap #7

4. Decorate with decorative stitching and beautiful threads.

*Tip: Because this is a project that will get a lot of use, I don’t add too many delicate
details. This will be different for different styles, but add what you like!

5. Trim the excess interfacing and rough edges of decorative cover. Use this as a pattern and cut out your lining piece and a piece of fusible web. Set aside.

Scissor Pocket

6.Use pattern piece G: Trace shape onto lining fabric. This is the scissor pocket.

Fan Scissor Wrap #8

7. Fold the top edge of the pocket piece 1/2 inch and press. Use a piece of fusible web to tack it down.

Fan Scissor Wrap #9

8. Add fusible web to extra strips of lining fabric. Iron them to the wrong side
of the pocket along the fold lines. This adds stability to the pockets.

9. Decorate the top edge with decorative stitching.

10. Decorate the two sides of each scissor pocket fold with a row of decorative stitches.

Fan Scissor Wrap #10

11. Lay the pocket onto the lining fabric. Stitch the pocket to the lining with a
lightening stitch along the fold lines.

Final Construction

12. Apply fusible web to the back of the decorative cover according to manufacturer’s directions.

13. Press the pocket and liner to the back of the decorative cover.

Fan Scissor Wrap #11

14. Finish edge all around. I used two threads through a 90/14 needle with an overcast stitch. This is a great place to use a serger.

Fan Scissor Wrap #12

15. Attach a two hole button to the cover with colored elastic cord. Use a permanent marking pen to color the elastic. Make a loop and knot it.

Fan Scissor Wrap #13

Pull the two ends of the elastic through the back of the button. Use an awl to make two holes large enough for the elastic to go through the cover. Knot the elastic on the back.

16. Sew a shank button on the cover to finish the closure.

Fan Scissor Wrap #14

Fan Scissor Wrap #15

17. Add a bead drop to the bottom.

18. The bead drop was made from parts of old jewelry and lovely one-of-a-kind glass beads. The heart pin is from a box of costume jewelry I bought years ago. The big pink button I used is vintage, but one I considered using is from Blumenthal called “Cut Outs” which I picked up in the Green Room at a Quilting Arts TV shoot!

Fan Scissor Wrap #16

19. Follow the photos to make the label windows and ID’s.

Fan Scissor Wrap #17

Fan Scissor Wrap #18

The plastic window is glued to the inside of the suede frame. The frame is glued to the scissor pockets on the sides and the bottom — this way, the cardboard ID label slides right in.

Fan Scissor Wrap Pattern A (A,B,C,D)

Fan Scissors Wrap Pattern A (B, C, D, E, F Combined)

Fan Scissor Wrap D, E, F

Fan Scissors Wrap Pattern D, E, F

Fan Scissor Wrap Pattern G (H Combined Three Times)

Fan Scissors Wrap Pattern G (H Combined Three Times)

Click here for a printable PDF version of Terry’s Fan Scissors Wrap.

Havel's Sewing quilting, applique and embroidery scissors

About Terry White:

TerryWhiteTerry White is a studio fiber artist. She has been doing this work since 1996, and she discovered the techniques she uses (threadpaint, machine appliqué, piece, quilt, embellish with beads, fibers and minutiae with sewing machine techniques) through experimentation and self-study. Terry teaches these techniques through classes and videos. Over the years Terry has been published in over 50 articles in magazines and books, including McCall’s Needlework, Quilter’s Newsletter, Machine Embroidery and Textile Arts, CMA trade magazine, Stitch n Sew Quilts, Quick n Easy Quilts, Quilt World magazine and Calendar, Quilting Arts Calendar 2003, America from the Heart, America’s Best and America Sews. She is a wife, stitcher, artist, sister, mother, friend, nana, gardener, baker, writer, student, teacher and American.  See more of Terry’s work at


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What Skills Do You Need to Make a Quilt?

By Kathy Mathews

Apply these skills to your first labor of love!

Basic quilting skills are not that hard to learn and develop

Learning the basic skills needed to make a handmade quilt will provide you and your family with joy that will last a lifetime.

Quilts are eternal. They’ve been a part of our country for centuries, and people love them. If your family is lucky, you own a quilt made by a relative that’s still in pretty good shape. If your family doesn’t have a handmade quilt, why not make one yourself and start a grand tradition? Not only will you and your family enjoy it, but you can also pass it down from one generation to the next. It’s a way to make your home beautiful now and be remembered in the future. Pretty cool, yes?

For those of you saying, “Why can’t I just buy one?” I would say yes, that’s a possibility. But how much can you afford to spend? If you buy a quilt for under $200-$300, it’s not an heirloom and it won’t be passed down. Quilts at department stores and places like Pottery Barn are not using the same quality materials that a handmade quilt uses. The workmanship is not top-shelf — it’s just a fad bedspread made to use and replace. This is fine if you’re looking for a temporary quilt, but it won’t be one you’ll want to pass down from one family member to the next.

So what about buying a high-quality quilt with first-rate workmanship? Again, this is entirely possible, but it will cost you over $1,000. Expensive, yes, but worth every penny. Look for these kinds of quilts at reputable Amish quilt dealerships or from local quilters in your area.

However, instead of shelling out thousands of dollars or buying a cheap knock-off, why not learn how to make a quilt yourself? Yes, I am serious. A simple quilt isn’t too difficult to learn how to make, and you might just enjoy the process enough to make a few more once you’ve tested the waters. If that’s the case, what a lucky family you have!

Once you have your supplies (see my post from last month), you will need to acquire some very basic quilting skills in order to produce a labor from your heart. This will be the gift of love you want to give to a baby or a new couple. Here are the essential abilities you will need to create your own quilt:

  1. Measure and cut accurately — the beginning quilt is not one to trust just by eyeballing it. You’ll be happier with your first attempts if they are measured and cut accurately. You’ll be able to participate in group quilts. You can play with this boundary later on, but for now try to be as precise as possible.
  2. Understand a few basic terms — right side of fabric, right sides together, wrong side of fabric, quarter inch seam, pressing — these are big ones to know if you’re just starting out.
  3. Sew a straight line — my mother did not know how to sew, so I taught her how to turn on the machine, thread it, fill the bobbin and sew a straight line. She used only those skills happily for many years. She made fun pillowcases and afghans.
  4. Sew a quarter inch seam — the easiest way is a quarter inch foot, but I used a strip of masking tape on my throat plate for at least six years and it was very accurate.
  5. Press seams to opposite side so your seams butt up — you don’t want your seams to pile on each other.
  6. Baste together three layers by pins or spray — once you have to top, you have to be able to create the quilt sandwich.
  7. Have the ability to pin the edges together and turn inside out — this will eliminate binding. My daughter used this method for her first two quilts. It shortens the task.
  8. Quilt on your sewing machine with simple lines or tie — once the top is sewn and the quilt has three layers you need to keep those layers together. Some people tie and many people sew designs by hand or machine. Machine quilting in straight lines is very popular now and fairly easy to accomplish. You are now done unless you want binding!
  9. Cut and create binding — your quilt will need to be finished on the sides. If you didn’t do the “pillowcase method” in number seven, you need to create the binding.
  10. Sew binding on a quilt — once the binding is created, you sew it around the edges and then sew it down again. This is the final step, yay!

Ta da, you’re done! Now you have a quilt and it’ll feel great. Celebrate it for the time and love you put into it. You should be proud!

Are these the only skills you will ever need? No, of course not. If you love this wonder we call quilt making, you will surely acquire other skills. But take it slow — your first quilt is meant to express love. It doesn’t have to be a prize winner. You will find that your skills will get better over time, but the love you sewed into that first quilt will remain the same.

I hope you give that first quilt to someone who not only sees stitches and fabric but the love you put into it. The look on their face will fill you up, and you’ll want to repeat that experience again and again.

10 skills, one quilt and you’re hooked. You’ve joined the Quilter ranks.

We welcome you!

After you’ve learned a few skills, make sure
you have the right tools for the job!
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Havel's Sewing quilting, applique and embroidery scissors

About Kathy Mathews:

Kathy Mathews headshotKathy Mathews has been sewing for 49 years and quilting for 31, which is odd as she’s so young. She taught Spanish and French full time for 35 years in Illinois Public schools and then continued at the college level until 2014. During all that time, quilting and sewing allowed her a creative outlet and kept her sane. In addition to needle arts she is an avid reader, swimmer, traveler and yoga newbie.  She blogs mainly about quilting at She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, is the mother of two grown daughters and grandmother to the cutest two year old girl in all the land. You can email her at

Posted in Guest Writers, How To, How to Make a Quilt, How to Quilt, Kathleen Mathews | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Fly Your Own Flag- Summer

by Jamie Fingal

Summer in the City – Make three Summer themed prayer flags using fused scraps.  Follow these quick and easy instructions:

three summer themed flags by j fingal


3 Pieces of wool

Start with 3 pieces of wool blended felt from National Nonwovens, that have been cut to be 6×8″ on your mat with a ruler and your Havel’s rotary cutter.


I had a lot of scraps from a project that I worked on for Quilt Market in Pittsburgh. All of the fabrics have been fused with Mistyfuse. Fun and bright colors. And the rings, that were made on a Sizzix Big Shot die cutting machine. They are quite fun too.

Scraps with MistyFuse

I am going to throw caution to the wind and make all three at the same time! I decided that I would do a collage background, using a variety of greens for this one. Once I had it the way that I wanted, you know with color, pattern and balance, I ironed it into place.

image 06

So, now you can see where I am going with this. The cool green of nature in Summer, the red and orange heat of the weather, and the soothing purple of a day on the porch sipping iced tea and putting your feet up.

Squares to make background

Yellow is also a happy color for Summer, so I cut small squares and placed them around each flag, and ironed them into place. I like the look and it adds a little spark to each one.

Cut from the back to use felt as guide.

In making art quilts, I fuse all of my quilts this way. The edges can be messy, but I would suggest that you cut with your sharp scissors from the back, using the felt as your guide. It is way easier this way.

Start with circles from scraps

In my scraps, there were these great circles, that were the insides of the rings, that were cut on the Sizzix Big Shot die cutting machine. I think they are so fun to use. Right now, I am trying out the colors on the backgrounds and asking myself, which colors pop out when they come in contact with each other? Which colors kinda blend into the background? I don’t want them to blend in.


Enter the 6” rings. Now you know where this is going. I am trying these out too. I want to see what works, not only with the backgrounds, but with the circles too.

Place the circles on the flags

Now I am thinking that yellow would look great inside those circles. I am going to place them at different points on the background, instead of being so matchymatchy. I am liking how this looks. I am not going to press them into place, until I get the rings done.

Cut out the circles

Using my really sharp Havel’s Scissors, I am cutting out a portion of the inside of the rings, so there is a space between the inside circle and the outer ring. More like a contemporary sun.

Place fabrics and press

I am pretty happy with how they all look. All of the fabrics have been pressed into place. I added the background wool blended felt – the same kind as the black, only in colors that complimented the quilt tops. You can see that they are rough cut, and I wanted them to be larger than the tops, because they will show on the sides at the end of this process.

Made a spiral using free motion

Next part – free motion machine quilting. First step, just using the needle to make a spiral in the middle and then around the circles.

Free motion sewing

I am turning the prayer flag with my and as the needle echoes the circle on the background.

Quilting lines are not perfect

Yes, I made the arrow thing in my quilting, because it was rather fun. And really I think it adds some interest. You can see that my quilting lines are not perfect. I want to have fun doing this.

Blazing sun

Here is the blazing sun one. I decided that I would change up the design in the yellow portion. This flag is the centerpiece of the three flags, and it was fun to make it different. I am gliding the needle around the circle.

Sew around the flags.

Sew around each flag with a straight stitch. You can do it with a straight stitch foot, but for me who doesn’t want to change the foot, I am staying with the free motion foot.

Sporatic free motion

Here’s the purple one, and you can see I am going with a totally different approach for free motion machine quilting around the circle. Sporatic, wacky and fun. Why not?

Loop-t-loop free motion

And then there is the loop-t-loop. This is really fun and a great way to practice free motion machine quilting.

Trim the felt

After all of the prayer flags have been free motion machine quilted, now is the time to trim the background felt. Using a cutting mat (Havel’s pink), ruler and rotary cutter, make sure you leave some of the felt showing through to the front. This is a nice close up shot to see how much to leave.

Purple prayer flag

Detail shot of the purple.

Orange prayer flag

Detail shot of the red/orange.

Green prayer flag Jamie Fingal

Detail shot of green.


See more creations by Jamie Fingal @

 Click here to download a FREE eBook for projects by Jamie

3 free projects by jamie fingal 480x640

Posted in art ideas, Fabric Art, Free Sewing Project, Fun Stuff, Jamie Fingal, Uncategorized, Wall Hangings | Tagged , | 1 Comment