Super Mom – No Cape!

One mother sharing her knowledge with others

Archive for March, 2011

Simple Little Sewing Trick

Posted by supermom on March 29, 2011

As I mentioned at the end of my last post about my Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt, for the past several days I’ve been working on secret Christmas projects.  I won’t be able to share those until after Christmas.  Instead I’ll share this little trick I learned recently.

Perhaps you already know about this, but it was an Ah ha moment for me and a solution to something that has frustrated me for as long as I’ve been sewing (35+ years.)

Here’s the scenario:

You’re sitting at your machine.  You’ve got your pattern pieces (or quilt block) pinned and ready to start sewing.  You place them under the presser foot.   And then when you start sewing, the fabric won’t feed through and it just sits there with the needle going up and down so that this is the result?

Just look at that knotted mess

It doesn’t happen every time.  Most times, the fabric will feed through and you go ahead and sew your seam (as of course it did, when I tried to get a picture of the knotted mess above to show you.  Brownie points for a patient husband who stood ready with camera in hand.)   But it happens often enough to be frustrating and usually on something that you really want to feed through perfectly.

Well I’ve learned a simple little trick to prevent this from happening.  Take two small pieces of scrap fabric and place it under the presser foot, then place the project you want to start sewing butted up against it, like this:

Scrap fabric butted up against whatever you want to start sewing

Your fabric will feed through smoothly and you won’t have to worry about a mess of knots at the beginning of the seam.

Seam started successfully

Once you’ve finished sewing your seam, trim the little scraps off when you trim the threads.

I used this little trick when I was sewing my Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt and on other projects since and it works like a charm.

Posted in Quilting, Sew easy projects | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Homemade Gift Tags

Posted by supermom on March 25, 2011

My blog Super Mom – No Cape and all its content has moved to

For the contents of this particular post click on the link below:

Homemade Gift Tags



Posted in Budget Savers, Christmas on a Budget Series, Conserving Resources, Creative Repurposing | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Christmas on a Budget Series – Post #1

Posted by supermom on March 25, 2011


My blog Super Mom – No Cape and all its content has moved to

For the contents of this particular post click on the link below:

Christmas on a Budget Series – Post #1


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Quilting Survey

Posted by supermom on March 24, 2011

Just a quick post about a newly discovered blog.

Sandi over at Piecemeal Quilts is running an interesting quilting survey and giveaway on her blog Piecemeal Quilts.

There have also been some thought provoking posts with the accompanying range of comments over the past several days that you might find interesting to read through.

I’m looking forward to the new Skill Builder Series that Sandi will be hosting with Jeanne from Grey Cat Quilts.

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Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt Top is Finished

Posted by supermom on March 23, 2011

My blog Super Mom – No Cape and all its content has moved to

For the contents of this particular post click on the link below:

Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt Top is Finished

Posted in Quilting | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

D9P Update and Giveaway Winner

Posted by supermom on March 20, 2011

Last night, I sewed on the all the vertical sashing strips and this morning we took this photo:

Vertical sashing complete


Then this afternoon, I sewed on the top and bottom sashing and this is what it looks like now:

Sashing complete


Isn’t it stunning!  And the photo really doesn’t do it justice.  The black sashing makes the colours in the blocks just pop and gives it that stained glass effect I was hoping for.

All that’s left now is to sew on the two borders.  I’m going to do a 2” border in the mottled orange print and then a 3” border in the word print.   I’m hoping to get that done over the next few days.  I had thought I might finish this during next month’s Friday Night Sew In, but I can’t wait that long to see how the final top is going to look.

And now without further ado, it’s time to announce the winner of my Third Anniversary Give Away.

All the names went into a jar:

Names in a Jar

And the winner is:

Third Anniversary Giveaway Winner

Congratulations Dawn!  I’ll be sending off an e-mail to you shortly.

And thank you to everyone who entered.  This was such fun, I’ll be thinking up more giveaways in the future.

Posted in Quilting | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

March FNSI – Update

Posted by supermom on March 19, 2011

Well… last night’s sewing session for this month’s Friday Night Sew In started out really well.   I was so pleased to find that I only had to trim just the tiniest of slivers off my blocks to square them up to 13.5”.    Giving myself a little imaginary pat on the back, I thought to myself, “Sue, I think you’ve finally got this 1/4” seam thing figured out.”

I got the horizontal sashing strips all cut out at 1.5”X13.5” and started sewing rows together.  They went together perfectly, without having to adjust or ease the sashing pieces to fit the blocks at all.

I got all the rows sewn together and pressed.   And I’m really impressed with how the black sashing is setting off the blocks and can’t wait to get the vertical sashing attached.   I gave myself another imaginary pat on the back.

I calculated how long I need to cut my strips for the vertical sashing.  There are six blocks in each row so that makes 4 times the finished block size of 13” plus 2 times 13 ¼” (the end blocks) plus 5 times 1” for the sashing.  52” + 26 ½” + 5” = 83 ½”.

Then I decided to measure my rows to make sure.  Sigh… I have two rows that measure 83 ¾” and two that measure between 83 7/8” and 84.”  Now what do I do?

I decided to sleep on it and try figure it out in the morning.  So this morning, I measure each row again but this time measuring each block and sashing strip.

And now I really can’t figure out where I went wrong.  Each sashing strip measures exactly 1”.  But when I measure the finished blocks, I’m just a smidge over 13” on each and every one and a smidge over 13 ¼” on the end blocks.  But that doesn’t make sense… if the sashing is coming out the correct size that means that I am sewing with an accurate ¼” seam.  How are those blocks not coming out to 13” and 13 1/4” respectively?

The perfectionist in me thinks I should go back and unpick and resew.  But instead, I’m just going to cut the vertical sashing at 83 ¾” and ease in the difference on the last two rows.

Here are the rows all laid out ready for me to attach the vertical sashing:

I’m going to spend the rest of the afternoon, piecing the vertical sashing strips and getting them sewn on.  If I get that done before I lose the sunlight, I’ll post a second update.  If not, then I’ll post one tomorrow.

And when I need to take breaks, I’ll be checking out how the other FNSI participants fared last night.

Oh and just one last reminder:  There’s still time to enter my anniversary giveaway.  Click over to this post and leave a comment.   The giveaway is open until noon on Sunday.

Posted in Friday Night Sew In, Quilting | Tagged: , , , | 12 Comments »

How Not to Destash

Posted by supermom on March 17, 2011

I’ve been trying to use up my stash of fabric and fabric scraps because there is likely a move in our not too distant future and the less I have to pack, the better.  I don’t have a large stash because I’ve done this every time we’ve moved for the last 11 years.  Before that the military moved us and my stash went with me from base to base.

Now I haven’t sworn off buying fabric all together.  If I need something to finish a project, I go buy it.   So last month, when I decided to use black sashing for my Disappearing Nine Patch Quilt, that was an allowable purchase because it’s going to be used up right away.

I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to find enough black fabric.  I don’t know if there has been a run on black quilt fabric or if it’s just something that they don’t stock much of.  I checked my local fabric store several times, but the little bit on each bolt of black quilt fabric that they had, wasn’t enough and they had no idea when they’d be getting more.

Then earlier this week, Dave and I had to make a trip to another town and so I decided to check at their fabric store.  They only had one bolt of black and it was Kona Cotton; exactly what I was wanting to use.  But even so, they only had 1 ½ yards.  I bought it anyway.

The plan is to start cutting and sewing the smaller sashing strips during the Friday Night Sew In this Friday, March 18th. (They are supposed to be getting another bolt of Kona Black today, so we’ll probably drive down on Saturday and pick up some more if I find I need it.)

Now if I just hadn’t started to wander through the aisles of fabric, I would have gotten out of there with just the Kona Black.  Butttt… see that owl fabric in the photo… isn’t that just the cutest?

Then the fabric laying next to it, don’t the colours of the swirls and circles and flowers match the colours of the owls perfectly?  And they were each on sale, 30% off.

I had the lady cut me a yard of each.

What about the other fabric, you ask.

Welllll… on the way to check out, the colours of that top fabric in the fat quarter bundle caught my eye.   Here is where Dave is the enabler.  He saw me stop to pick it up and said, “If you want it, get it.”  I hesitated all of two seconds… lol.

Now I just have to figure out something to make with them soon so I don’t have to count them as added to my stash.

Reminder:   There’s still time to enter my blog anniversary give away.

Go to this post for the details.

Posted in Friday Night Sew In, Quilting | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

DIY Puzzle Mat

Posted by supermom on March 15, 2011

My blog Super Mom – No Cape and all its content has moved to

For the contents of this particular post click on the link below:

DIY Puzzle Mat



Posted in Budget Savers, Creative Repurposing, Gift Ideas | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Time to Prepare

Posted by supermom on March 13, 2011

If you’ve happened to read back through my blog, you’ll find some posts about storing food, water and other essentials to prepare for times of crisis.  Whether that crisis be a temporary job loss, an illness or a natural disaster, I believe that it’s important to be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for an extended period of time without having to rely on others or the government.

If ever you needed a reason to begin to lay in a store of food, water and at least a bare minimum of first aid, I came across a translation of a blog entry from one of the people affected by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.

To read the whole translation you can go to News from Sendai over at the blog, Be*mused.

The part that really struck me was this paragraph:

“For the time being I’m still in my house and we’re without power, but I’m grateful that we have water and gas at least for now.  Shops and convenience stores are only opening here and there, and lots of people are lining up outside.  The car lines are incredibly long for those few gas stations that have opened.  Each person is only allowed 20 liters.  Today we stood in line at a nearby supermarket for four hours, where each person was only able to buy five items at a time.  Well, that’s what life is like on day three.”

Can you imagine what it would be like to stand in line for four hours to buy some food and only be allowed to buy five items?  And then to know that you’d have to do that same thing the next day and the next  and for who knows how long.  My heart goes out to that person and to all who are facing the days ahead as Japan strives to recover from this disaster.

No one could have foreseen the devastation that would be caused by the earthquake and tsunami; entire towns wiped out, farmland devastated and now the possibility of meltdowns at some of their nuclear reactors.  You may say that it would be impossible to prepare for something like that.  And no one can ever be totally prepared.

But there are things we can do now and in the future to make sure that we have a supply of food and a way to prepare that food if there is no electricity or gas.

We can have clean, safe water stored.

I grew up in the country.   We couldn’t drive to town every time we ran out of something and so my mother always had an extra supply of food in the house.  And I carried on that tradition after I got married.  But even I had times when I felt overwhelmed when I really started to think about everything that needed to be stored to ensure our family’s safety during a natural disaster or other crisis.

But by taking one small step at a time, I’m getting there and so can you.

If times are tough and money tight, (and I know they are for many people) start by adding just one extra can of food or box of pasta or container of juice to your grocery cart.  Rinse out that juice container once it’s finished, fill it with water and store it in a cupboard or closet.

If you can afford more, buy more.  If you find a good sale on an item you use regularly, stock up.

Don’t buy things that you or your family won’t eat, even if you get them for free or nearly free.  If you or your family won’t eat them now, they certainly won’t want to eat them during a time of crisis when they are facing other stressful events.

One blog that I’ve found particularly helpful in getting prepared is:  The Just in Case Book Blog by Kathy Harrison.  She is the author of the book Just in Case and I’m highly recommend borrowing it from the library and if it’s within your budget to buy it.

A simple search will turn up many more blogs and websites out there with all sorts of valuable information.  In my search for preparedness information, I’ve bookmarked and subsequently deleted numerous blogs for a variety of reasons.  Hers is the only one that remains.  While I don’t necessarily agree with everything she writes, her down-to-earth, non-panicked, practical approach to getting prepared compliment my own way of approaching the future.

As I mentioned in my anniversary post yesterday, one of the goals I set for this blog was to share skills and knowledge.   If you have questions on how to get started beyond what I’ve mentioned here, I’ll try to answer or barring that to direct you to other resources.

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