Magnetic pin “cushion”


This is one of my favorite ‘tools of the trade.’  It is a magnetic pin cushion, although there’s nothing really cushion-y about it.  I have seen them referred to as pin holders, pin grabbers, and pin dishes as well, but I still call mine a pin cushion.  I own a few actual pin cushions, the soft, pillow-type ones that you poke pins and needles into.  I keep them because of their sentimental value–having been made by various family members–but I use the magnetic one almost exclusively.

I like that I can toss pins toward it while I’m sewing on the machine.  I don’t have to stop and aim and get the point of the pin into a cushion.  I can just pull and toss the pin in one movement while I continue sewing.

I also use the cushion to pick up pins, more than one at a time.  For example, when I’m finished cutting something out using a pattern, I simply pull all the pins and leave them lying on the pattern.  Then I sweep over the pins with the magnetic pin cushion to pick them all up.  Or when I drop a pin on the floor, I can just hold the pin cushion down near it, and it magically magnetically pulls it up off the floor.

You can find these little beauties in a rainbow of colors and a multitude of shapes at just about any fabric or craft store.


I didn’t plan to be doing laundry on the day I’d be writing about laundry, but that’s what happened today.  I was doing just the normal family laundry, but I wanted to write about how laundry relates to sewing.

ALWAYS wash washable fabric before you use it!  Even if you think the color won’t bleed.  Even if you think the fabric won’t shrink.

I recall a dress I made several years ago.  Some fabric had been donated by a clothing company to…well, I don’t know exactly who it was donated to…but I ended up with some of it, because I knew somebody who knew somebody…you know how that goes.  Anyway, I was so excited to make this dress, I just started cutting out my pattern without washing the fabric first.  The dress turned out perfect!  It fit me like it was made for me (because it was!), and I loved it.

After the first time I wore it, I put it in the laundry.  It washed and dried nicely, and I hung it in my closet.  The next time I wore it, it was a different dress!  It didn’t fit me any more.  It was too short.  It was tight under the arms.  The neckline was different.  I ended up giving it to a friend who wore a smaller size.

Since that incident, I have never used fabric without washing it first!

Kit Kittredge

What does Kit Kittredge have to do with sewing?  Who is Kit Kittredge anyway?

To answer the second question first, Kit is one of the historical characters in the American Girl line of dolls.  Her stories take place in 1934, during the Great Depression in the United States.  I fell in love with these stories when my daughter was reading them for the first time many years ago.

I greatly appreciate the thriftiness and resourcefulness of the people of that time.  ”Waste not, want not” was not merely a slogan; it was a way of life.  To make bed sheets last longer, Kit’s mother (and her real-world counterparts) would split the sheets down the center, then sew the outer edges together to form the ‘new’ sheet.  Dresses were made from the cloth bags that once held chicken feed or flour.  Mending worn clothing, remaking old garments into new ones, and altering hand-me-downs were ways in which families in 1934 could make their clothing (and their dollars) last longer.  (Has that sufficiently answered the first question?)

Kit has been my model for the doll clothes that I sell on Etsy, at Jori-M-Porium.  She helps me size the clothing as I’m working, and she patiently stands for picture after picture when I have a pile of new items to be photographed.  I love Kit!

(Note:  Kit actually belongs to my daughter, who allows me to borrow Kit for my purposes.  Thanks, sweetie!)


Oh, what you can do with old jeans!

Use the front waistband, pockets, and fly to fashion a handbag.



  Use the back pockets to make a smaller, more casual purse.



Use the legs or bottom portion to create a little girl’s purse.


All of these are available for sale at my shop, Jori-M-Porium, on Etsy.  Just click on a picture to be taken to the listing.



So…yesterday, I was supposed to create a post about something that starts with the letter i.  Obviously, that didn’t happen.  I just didn’t have any…IDEAS!

Hey, that’s an “i” word!

Inspiration!  That’s another one!

A few days ago, I wrote that it all begins with fabric.  Well, that’s only partially true.  It really all begins with an idea, an inspiration from some source.  Sometimes fabric is that source.  Sometimes it’s a picture that inspires a creation.  Or a “what if” kind of idea that gets my creative juices flowing.  In a previous post, I talked about using traditional quilt square patterns to ‘square up’ some t-shirts for a quilt.

Ideas and inspiration can be found just about anywhere.  Be on the lookout!  I leave you with this quote from Winnie-the-Pooh, and a little bit of context:

In the book The House at Pooh corner, Owl’s house has been destroyed in a storm.  Rabbit is organizing a search for a new house for Owl, and Piglet thinks Pooh should write a song about Owl’s old house.  Some time passes and still Pooh hasn’t written a song…

“Because Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you.  And all you can do is to go where they can find you.”

And sometimes the same holds true for creations of fabric.


Humbug bags

It’s not a name I would give to these cute little bags, but they came with the name, so there you have it.

I first saw a tutorial for humbug bags at Moore’s Sewing blog, and I decided it would be a great way to use up some scraps of fabric that were unusable for other projects.  They are super simple and go together really quickly.

Apparently, these bags are named for a similarly shaped candy called, of course, humbug candy.    Any resemblance to a negative utterance regarding Christmas is purely coincidental.

Grocery bags

Here is a short history of grocery bags from my perspective.

When I was a kid, grocery bags were made of brown paper and had no handles.  You had to hug them to carry them.  They were the perfect size to line our kitchen trash can, but they weren’t very practical since they weren’t waterproof.

Sometime in my teens (I think) is when plastic bags with handles appeared.  You didn’t have to hug them, and they made better trash can liners.  My grandma had the bag boys at her local grocery store put her groceries in paper bags inside the plastic bags.  She liked the sturdiness of the paper along with the plastic handles for easy carrying.

At some point in time, paper bags with handles were introduced.  But you had to hold them just right, and not fill them too full, or the handles would tear off.  Or, worse, the handles would tear the bag.

Then the age of “reduce, reuse, recycle” dawned, and all these bags became no-no’s.  Paper bags were killing trees.  Plastic bags were filling landfills.  So, non-disposable, reusable bags hit the market.  Groovy.  However, most of those cute little bags are not washable.  The long-handled plastic-y ones shaped like the old brown paper bags may go through the washing machine, but not repeatedly over years of use.  And do not put them in the dryer.  The non-woven polyester bags are not machine washable.  I mean, you can put them through a wash cycle, but the result (in my experience) is a weakened, fuzzy, limp bag with small holes in it.  And if there was a design printed on it, that will be mostly gone.  If you’re going to reuse bags over and over again–for groceries–don’t you want to be able to machine wash them?  And machine dry them?  Absolutely!

Now we leave the history behind and enter the present and future of grocery bags: fully lined, fully washable, fully adorable fabric bags.








These are just a few of the many bags I’ve made over the years.  I used a plastic bag from my local grocery store as a pattern.  (I’m still using the same pattern after 5+ years.  How’s that for reuse and recycle!)  Therefore, these bags are just the same size as the plastic bags, but my fabric bags can hold a lot more.  Why?  Because they won’t stretch, or rip, or split at the bottom seam and spill your groceries all over the ground.  Also, the fabric doesn’t cut into your hands like the plastic can when the bags are heavy.

I have 7 bags that stay under the center console in our van.  When I go to the store, they go in with me.  I have “trained” countless baggers to stuff these bags full.  I think they’re scared of overloading them, but I reassure them that the bags are sturdy and will hold more than the flimsy plastic ones.  One cashier knows me and my bags and will instruct the bagger working with her to “fill ‘em full!”  She told one of the young guys that both gallons of milk will fit into one bag.  Disbelieving, he gave her a look that said “no way,” then proceeded to place both gallons of milk into one bag.  He looked at me and said, “Mind.  Equals.  Blown.”  (I think that’s teen-ese for, “That blows my mind!”)

So until the stores start offering free fabric bags instead of plastic or paper, I’m sticking with my homemade version.  They’ve held up for about 7 years, through multiple shopping trips, washings, dryings, and foldings.  I love ‘em!


I mean, what else could the letter F possibly stand for at this blog, right?!  Fabric!  That’s where it all begins.  Without fabric, there is no sewing.  No little girl’s dresses (and matching doll’s dresses).  No little boy’s shirts, nor husband’s shirts.  No quilts (gasp!).  No costumes.  What a sad thought.

But cheer up, because there is, indeed, FABRIC!  Lots of it.  In my stash alone.  And in that bag out in the garage that’s supposed to be going away, only it hasn’t found a place to go away to, yet, so there it sits.  Fabric, fabric everywhere.  I have my fabrics sort of organized by type.  I have colorful plastic bins that slide in and out of a wooden frame.

This is from IKEA. My bins are different colors, and my frame sits with the short side on the left.

Each bin has a different type of fabric in it.  There’s a medium sized bin of cotton prints, a small bin of solids (mostly cotton blends), a small bin of ribbed knit, and a small bin of “special” fabrics—lace, satin, tulle, non-slip (for footed pajamas).  Then there is one large bin to hold the fleece and flannel and all things snuggly, and another large bin for upholstery fabric, brocades, tapestry, leather (and leather-like), and all things stiff.  Hey, it’s my system, and in my system, “stiff” is a category.  = )  There is a last little bin that is kind of the catch-all, like a junk drawer in the kitchen.  This little bin has interfacing, handkerchiefs (for future projects?), some crocheted lace made by my sister-in-law’s great aunt, and whatever else doesn’t fit into another bin’s category.  I also have denim and old jeans, pants, and shorts in the cubbies of another shelf.  I have a lot of fabric.

But I’m going to use it all!  Someday…no, really!

(I can hear you laughing…)


E is for Edna Mode, my favorite character in my favorite Pixar film.  She is a seamstress extraordinaire, using her talents to outfit the world’s superheroes.  I love her!

"I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now."

Doll clothes

I like to make clothing for dolls!  Let me be more specific: I like to make clothing for 18″ dolls, like American Girl dolls.  No making Barbie clothes for me.  That’s way too tiny.  Scale-appropriate prints are difficult to find, and using only solid color fabrics is just boring.  And adding embellishments to something so small would drive me crazy!  But I really enjoy creating little garments for the bigger dolls.

I made seemingly countless matching dresses for my daughter and her doll over the course of a few years.  One fun thing about all those doll dresses is that we now have a miniature history of my daughter’s wardrobe as she was growing up, even though we don’t have her dresses any more.  Girls outgrow their clothes; dolls don’t.  In fact, that doll probably has a larger collection of clothing than any of us, because she never has to get rid of anything!

When I was still making clothes for my daughter’s doll, the following would be a typical progression.  The doll’s mommy (my daughter) would see a picture of “the cutest dress ever” and her doll simply must have one just like it!  (Just ask me how many times I heard this one.  No, wait…don’t.)  I would then look at the picture, appropriately ooh and aah over it, go bug-eyed when I saw the price, then tell the doll’s mommy that we wouldn’t be buying that particular dress, but ask her help me find fabric to make one.  Those were always fun projects, and I knew the little mommy would love the end result because she had already picked it out.

Doll clothes that I make for gifts or for sale usually start out in a different way.  I begin with adorable fabric remnants that just happen to find their way home with me from the fabric store.  I know I have a pattern at home that will be perfect for this fabric, so I have to get it, you know?  Then I look through my odds and ends of trims and buttons and figure out exactly what this little dress (or coat or pajamas or robe or jumper or whatever) will look like.

A really nice advantage to making doll clothes is that they go together fairly quickly (compared to people clothes).  The longest seam (for a long dress or nightgown) is only 14″ or so.  Another perk is that adding interesting accents or trims uses minimal materials.  Since I already have a sizeable stash of ribbon, lace, bias tape, hem tape, Velcro, buttons, and the like, I usually don’t have to purchase any notions especially for a doll garment, except perhaps a zipper or other boring, practical item.


(Once again, I apologize for the lack of photographs.  It will be a glorious day when I find that flash drive!)