April 18, 2016

IMG_1701My husband loves to golf… I do not.  So when he is off playing golf on the weekend, I hit the sewing room.  Strangely, however, I do like to watch professional golf tournaments on television.  Last weekend, I was kept company by the golfers at the Masters Tournament on the TV in my sewing room.  While watching, I made a really fun accent pillow with some bits of a new line coming out soon,  Autumn Landscape, and a random scrap of fabric that had an interesting decorative weave that I had used on another throw pillow a few years ago.  First, I sketched out a design on graph paper and then assembled the fabrics.  I decided to use a decorative stitch on my machine to embellish one of the fabrics.  I used a cream thread for the decorative stitch to tie the mostly brown fabric to the large floral with the cream flowers. It seemed to lighten it up a bit.  When using a decorative stitch, I test it to determine the width and the length of the stitch that I like before stitching on the piece I’m going to use.  I also like to back the fabric with a foundation to give the fabric more IMG_1699weight which always results in a nicer stitch.  I fell back on my usual product for this purpose…paper toweling. I always have it in the house and it tears away easily after stitching.  I have been using it forever, and it always works. After finishing the edge with a binding (just like a quilt) I then decided to add a decorative hand stitch with a double strand of #5 pearl cotton in the ditch right next to the binding of the pillow to add an outline and accent to the patchwork center.  I used a simple stem stitch and stitched only through the top layer of the pillow.  It’s easier that trying to go through all the layers of the pillow covering. IMG_1705Because of the thickness of the pearl cotton, you will have to use a hefty needle with a very large eye.  Since you will be stitching through just the top layer, the big needle will still go through nicely. As with so many of my pillows, I made an envelop back to avoid putting in a zipper. Instructions for this technique can be found in many of my past Thimbleberries publications. The fabric used on the back of the pillow was also a scrap of decorator fabric from years ago. I have just enough left to make one more pillow.  As usual, scraps just never seem to go away, no matter how many times I attempt to get rid of them and throwing away is just not a option.


February 20, 2016

IMG_1648I love making fun, quick projects from items I’ve saved. When I found these colorful zippers, I decided to make a small pouch to house my circular knitting needles, as they are a little difficult to corral. It’s a little reward for saving the zippers but an even better feeling to know I made use of them after all. This one is definitely a keeper.

Zippered Pouch: Butt the edges of 8 zippers, each 12″ long, next to each other and stitch with a zig-zag stitch with variegated thread to attach the zippers together. The stitch length and width are medium.  I always test my stitch on scrap fabric to see what is pleasing.  Flip the ends of the zippers alternatively as you sew them together for interest.  To make the pouch, lay the “zipper unit” right sides together with a firm fabric of equal size.  Mine is a scrap of quilted fabric.  Upholstery or denim weight fabric would also work well.  Remember to open one of the zippers in the center a bit so that you can turn right side out after stitching around the perimeter of the case. Trim bulk from corners to make sharper corners.  The zippers pictured are metal with a decorative pull.  I probably get as many compliments on this case as I do the projects I have knitted.


November 16, 2015

Countdown To Christmas

DSC_1854_edited-1This is a great alternative to a traditional advent calendar, and a fun project to work on over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  My sample is done with the kiddos in mind, but I think it would look striking and give it a more modern feel with all white envelopes – perfect for a couple without kids or empty nesters.

Materials needed: Envelopes (24, multiplied by the number of children – if you want a separate envelope for each); Decoration for the envelopes – including letters and numbers; Sturdy branches/twigs; twine; pom pom trim; clear 3M Command hooks; hot glue gun; paper punch; scissors; and various small treats to fill the envelopes.DSC_1821_edited-1

Start by decorating the envelopes. I used a variation of cutouts from old Christmas cards or the whole card front.  I used stamps and stickers of various styles and sizes for the “T” and “E” to identify the envelopes. There are numbers for some, but not all, of the days. I would like to say it was intentional to add visual interest and variation, but it was actually because I ran out of them. In the end, I do like the look of not having numbers on each envelope. Punch a hole in the top corner of each envelope. Before assigning specific dates to the envelopes, I spread them out on a large table so I could ensure that the color was eye catching and the designs were evenly spread out over the 24 days.DSC_1662_edited-1

Gather twigs (you can also purchase these at several types of retailers, especially during the holidays). Kerry cut the twigs from her bushes outside. Hydrangea or Red Twig Dogwood branches are great choices.DSC_1765_edited-2

Bind the tree branches together using twine, and put a dollop of glue on the back side, to ensure the branches don’t shift and loosen the hold. Taylor lent a hand (literally) as Kerry tied these together. His little hands were no where near when the glue gun was used.

DSC_1798_edited-1DSC_1799_edited-1The pom pom trim is certainly optional. It just happened to be another unused item in my stash. Glue the pompom fringe to the twine ties.

Loop the pom pom fringe back around the top of the twine tie and press firmly. Continue to glue in a line along the front of the bound twigs. Repeat the process of securing the fringe under the last twine tie.








Thread ribbon through two envelopes at a time, and tie in a bow around a pom pom. Repeat down the line of the twigs.

On the end of each bundle of twigs, tie a second, smaller loop around the twine that binds the bundle to use for hanging the arrangement on the Command hook. Once you have one end hung, position the other. The twigs work nicely for this, as the organic shape allows for some wiggle room so that you don’t have to worry about it being perfectly level when hanging. When using the Command hooks, read the directions on the packaging so they don’t damage your wall when you want to remove the display. There are tips that make these hooks work just as advertised.

I am looking forward to seeing this fun Countdown to Christmas calendar displayed again this year. Taylor was old enough last year to remember the activity, and I am sure both he and Ella will enjoy it again this year.


November 9, 2015

Taylor was only 4-1/2 years old when we made this turkey. He may not remember working on this art project, but I will never forget.


Materials needed: Child’s artwork, scissors, pencil, a long piece of fabric to use as the fabric runner, fabric scraps for the artwork, giant rickrack (for trim, if desired), fabric glue, fabric adhesive (I used Pellon, another common brand is Heat N’ Bond), and an iron. I also needed a black permanent marker to draw the legs onto rectangles of fabric for fusing purposes.DSC_0097_edited-1

Steps are included below, but please check and follow the directions on your particular brand of fabric adhesive.DSC_0110_edited-1

Step 1: Trace the elements of the image onto the paper side of the adhesive. I added a quarter inch to the length of the feathers and legs that I knew needed to be tucked under the body of the turkey.  Note that if you have items that you want to go in a particular direction (say that you really really want the turkey’s beak to face to the right), then you will need to draw that element of the design in reverse.* Carefully cut out design.

*Save yourself some confusion and frustration by picking a design that has elements that are symmetrical, so the direction doesn’t matter. I find that trying to do things in reverse is difficult for some.

Step 2: Preheat dry iron to the silk setting. Place fusible on the wrong (back) side of the fabric with the glue side down. Lightly glide iron across paper side for 1-2 seconds.

Step 3: Allow the material to cool, then peel off the paper backing. The adhesive should appear milky in color. Shiny, clear adhesive is a sign of overheating.

Step 4: Place the material right side up of the entire image in desired position on the table runner and iron for 4-6 seconds. This is a “dry” run to make sure all the edges of the elements are covered and tucked in. When the design is set, carefully remove the top pieces, in this case all but the rounded back feathers. Fuse in place. Put the next layer on and fuse and proceed until image is complete. Keep the original drawing nearby for reference. The pressing time may need to be increased for heavier materials.

Runner is about 36” long and 18” wide. There is another turkey and trim on the other end of the runner. The sides and ends of the burlap are just fringed. I glued the rick rack on the bottom, and then stitched down the center to secure more permanently.


November 2, 2015

Bar CodeBar Code Runner – free pattern

Make this runner in just minutes! That’s all the time it takes to make this showy, quick and oh so easy runner. Make it in many fabric combinations to use throughout the year. It is also perfect for a lovely housewarming gift. combine with a bottle of wine or candles for an impressive gift.


October 5, 2015


DSC_0038_edited-1Although pumpkins are most commonly associated with Halloween decor, you can use them in fall arrangements throughout the season, if done in a way that doesn’t scream costumes and candy. I love the pop of color in these, and the Mod Podge process is quite easy for this project.DSC_0065_edited-1

Materials you will need: artificial pumpkins – I used “Furkins”, online and in craft stores, and or paper mache pumpkins; paper; scissors; Mod Podge; and one small brush. I used fall-themed paper napkins for this project – inexpensive and easy to work with, and the extras will come in handy for any fall entertaining you may do.DSC_0094_edited-1

Working in sections, put a generous layer of Mod Podge on the pumpkin. I like to work in halves and place the pumpkin in a bowl so that it’s propped up – once one half is done and dry (with paper adhered), flip over to do the other half.DSC_0088_edited-1

Layer a strip of paper on the pumpkin and apply another coat of Mod Podge on top. Press the paper into the groves of the pumpkin with the tip of the brush to push out any air bubbles. Repeat until complete. As shown in the picture below, the paper will look pretty wrinkly and it will be hard to see how it could ever turn out looking put together, but it will. To cover the stems, I used small strips and pieces of napkin that was a green/rust leafy print and cut shapes from the napkin that covered the stems of the faux pumpkins. The great thing with this process you can just keep layering paper wherever you need it.DSC_0091_edited-1DSC_0040_edited-1

Once you have a base layer of paper covering the pumpkin, let completely dry to the touch. When dry, feel free to layer on another print napkin for a contrasting polka dot design, as done with two of the three pumpkins above. The orange pumpkin with solid dots is the actual print of a napkin.


September 19, 2015


Apple Stand Runner

Apple harvest time here in Minnesota starts just about now. There are a few early varieties that appear late in the summer, but September is the big month. Apple goodies are everywhere and the apple motif is a favorite for decorating this time of the year. Apple Stand Runner is both a runner or a wall quilt. The sharp images of 6 apples grouped in the center and bordered top and bottom with a crisp double sawtooth border make this a real standout. This is taken from Beautiful Blocks for Beautiful Quilts by Lynette Jensen and available from Landauer Publication.

Apple Stand RunnerFREE Apple Stand Runner pattern


September 8, 2015


So the title of the post is a little off, as it’s both my parents’ house of course; but when talking about design, it’s Grandma’s house. My kids always want to visit “Yamma and Bapa,” and not just for the endless goodies – but they love staying in their rooms. In past posts I’ve been talking about transitioning Ella’s nursery to big girl room, and my mom did the same at their house (I’m actually still just talking about it, whereas Ella’s room at my mom’s house is completely finished). But as grandparents know, you don’t do something for one grandchild and not the other, so Taylor’s room got a refresh as well. There’s so much to talk about in this room, it could be a week’s worth of posts – from the sports banner to the wagon doubling as book storage and display, to any number of quilts and wall hangings with fabrics designed by my mom, to the framed artwork from the little man himself  – there are a hundred things to wow a kid (and any adult, for that matter!). But the showstopper in the room is the wall display of shutters. She had collected these over the years and decided this room redo was the perfect time to do something creative with them. She had them painted using Doodle Zoo as the color inspiration and had them hung across the full length of one wall. The shutters are different widths and heights, but that’s part of what makes them so fun and interesting. Two rows of firing strips were attached to the wall and then the shutters were mounted to the strips. According to my mom, it’s one of her favorite things she has incorporated into a room design, and it’s easy to see why!



IMG_1158_edited-1DSC_5458_edited-1DSC_5465_edited-1Reality Check. You know how I mentioned in the intro that my dad isn’t exactly the design whiz of the household? On the day these shutters were delivered I talked to my dad, who said in a bit of a hushed tone, “you know how I don’t question what your mom does at the house, right? But she had all these shutters delivered. Do you think those are going just on the back of the house, or the front as well?”


August 31, 2015


white choc 2

FREE Basket Runner Pattern

Make a little something to freshen up your home at summer’s end.  This is a FREE PATTERN for you to make a very simple, yet charming runner. This is one of those afternoon projects, and I am sure scraps or fabrics from your stash will do just fine.  Enjoy!


August 28, 2015


My mom purchased this Animal ABC Book (circa 1935) almost 40 years ago, being drawn to Milo Winter’s artwork. The book was in really rough shape (see photo below of the back cover), having been well-loved, with almost every page having the scribbling handiwork of some child long ago. There was one page that was still pristine and it happened to have the letters J and K on it.  Her plan was to frame the picture for my room when I was a little girl (my maiden name is Jensen).  However, the colors never worked out so the book remained unused.  Recently, she decided to refurbish the front cover by painting it with acrylic paints – a twist on the paint by number approach, if you will – mixing colors to match what was depicted on the cover or in some cases, going a different direction by changing the color and pattern (note the mommy bunny’s dress in the first picture compared to the others).

paint by #1

The effort created a super cute piece to frame, perfect for our playroom.

paint by #3

Reality Check. We looked this book up on Ebay to see what the value might be of a piece this old.  One in good condition was valued at $60. Mental note to check that next time before painting.


August 18, 2015


Here are a few pieces of artwork I helped Kerry with to add color to both her room here at my house and in Ella’s room at home. A pack of scrapbooking paper can really go along way. Read below about the process of changing Ella’s room from a baby girl nursery to little girl’s room. For more fun Decor & DIY how-to projects go to DarlingFig.com.

scrap art 1

We are in the process of changing Ella’s room from a baby girl nursery to little girl’s room. The switch from crib to a twin bed took all of five minutes (she LOVED the idea of her big girl bed), so we are moving on to changing out some of the other furniture items and altering the décor. Luckily, I decorated her nursery in a bit of a non-traditional fashion for a nursery, so the bigger decorative items like drapes and pillows can be used for the next stage. Even so, the costs can add up quickly when redecorating a room, so I was looking for some DIY ideas for new wall décor. I turned once again to the bundle of scrap book paper I have left over from other projects. I purchased the packet for the “Lake Life” sign and used it again for Ella’s birthday banner and party décor. I returned to that same stash to put together three very inexpensive art pieces using the larger scraps from the banner for the larger piece of artwork (with triangles) and bits and pieces for the two smaller pieces. Some simple instructions are included below, but the beauty of this project is the flexibility to do what you want. All you need is great looking paper and some inexpensive frames (these are from Ikea and Menards). I decided I wanted one with a grid of colorful squares but didn’t want the hassle of carefully measuring and gluing down many small squares, so I wove 1-1/2 inch strips just like we all did in grade school (see below).

scrap art 2

scrap art 3

scrap art 4Secure the edges with scotch tape, weave the pieces together, then trim the woven piece to fit nicely behind the frame’s mat and secure with masking tape. I suggest positioning at an angle in the frame (see the first picture above), so you don’t need to worry about all of the edges being perfectly square.

scrap art 5

August 1, 2015

IMG_1268Create….this is a pretty general and all encompassing word, but, I think a very good title for this section of the blog.  I have always been attracted to many things that I can do with paint, fabrics, paper, yarn and yes, even sidewalk chalk and crayons. Just days after my retirement was official I started to dabble with acrylic paints and a variety of handmade papers.  I took a few  painting classes to get some basics and then I realized what I needed to do was just jump in and implement the old standby…trial and error.  I couldn’t stop…it was so much fun. The pieces that turned well enough to put on my IMG_1271walls were great learning exercises, and so far, I like seeing them throughout the house.  I think it is interesting, that a personal style seems to emerge rather quickly.  I can’t really describe mine but I keep falling into the same style each time.  So now my sewing room has an easel in the corner and a canvas or two are on the top shelf of my fabric closet.

These of samples of the latest paint/paper collages.