Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vintage Singer Featherweight: The Little Sewing Machine That Could

Like many quilters, I am fascinated by the vintage Singer Featherweight 221 sewing machine, a superbly engineered little machine that has become a true collector's item.  My generous Uncle Bill surprised me with one a year ago.


Nancy Johnson-Srebro's book, Featherweight 221:  The Perfect Portable and Its Stitches Across History (3d ed.  2001), a 220-page tome published by C&T Publishing, Inc. (, provides a wealth of information on the history of these classic portable sewing machines (ISBN 0-9645469-2-2).


The machines weigh only 5.0 kg (11 pounds, 1 ounce), and fit into an ingeniously designed carrying case. Most featherweights are black with a shiny japan finish, and decorative gold decal designs, although some beige and white machines were also made.  The decal on my machine is the "Prism" design, which has an art deco look.  Although the machine has only a straight stitch, there are a number of attachments including a hemmer, binder, edge-stitcher, gatherer and ruffler, designed to entice the home sewer.  


The rotary hook machines were manufactured from approximately 1933 until 1961 in Elizabethport, New Jersey.  Other machines were made at the Clydebank factory in Glasgow, Scotland.  Some of the British machines had motors manufactured in St. Johns, Quebec, Canada.  Special commemorative editions were made for the Century of Progress International Exposition (the 1933-1934 Chicago World's Fair), and the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition.  The gold-colored oval medallions with these inscriptions are true finds! 


The 1933-1934 Chicago World's Fair could warrant another entire post.   Merikay Waldvogel and Barbara Brackman, two venerable quilt historians, teamed up to write Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 World's Fair (1993).  Their book offers a pictorial and historical account of the scandalous quilt contest sponsored by Sears Roebuck during the Depression.  I had the pleasure to hear Merikay Waldvogel's lecture on that topic, sponsored by the Nebraska Humanities Council, a few years ago.


For now, I'll put my shiny black gem back in its case.


LeAnn aka pasqueflower



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tiny Feed Sack Fabric Squares Doll Quilt

I like all kinds of fabrics, including feed sack prints and 30s reproduction fabrics.  So in 2008, I made a little doll quilt from 30s reproduction fabrics with tiny nine patches, itty bitty yo-yos, and embroidered vines.  I used a pattern designed by Carol Steffensen of Chickadee Hollow Designs:  Check out her blog:


A year or two later, I bought an old canning jar chock full of authentic feed sack fabrics, cut into 1.25" squares for $9.00 – such a deal!!  Two cardboard templates were included in the jar, along with two completed hand-pieced nine-patch blocks.  I've been saving the jar full of squares, trying to decide how best to use that fabric. 


Were those little nine-patch blocks intended for a baby quilt, a doll quilt?  Should I honor the woman who so carefully traced and cut each square by completing the hand-pieced nine-patch quilt she started?  Should I make another little doll quilt with yo-yo's and embroidery, only this time with real feedsack fabrics instead of reproductions?   Perhaps there are enough squares to do both.


Time will tell.  In the meantime, I keep this jar of tiny squares in my Girl Cave.  It is one of my treasures.



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pillowcase Dresses: Pretty and Practical

Today is Shameless Commerce Tuesday and I'm promoting pillowcase dresses.  I've made several of these pretty and practical go-anywhere sundresses that could also be worn as a tunic or a jumper. I'm drawn to bright high quality 100% cotton designer fabrics.  The colors are so vibrant!  And cotton is a cool, breathable, durable fabric – perfect for children's clothes.

The Caroline pattern (used with permission) was designed by Mindy Leone of Frog Legs & Ponytails.  It also includes a doll dress version designed to fit American Girl dolls.  What little girl wouldn't love that?! Visit her website at, or her Etsy shop:


Signing off now to finish (finally!!) staining the deck.  After that, I'll be ready for some quality sewing time in my Girl Cave.


I'm have a brand new Facebook fan page and Twitter account.  I'd be delighted to have some Likes and Followers!



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Quilts of Valor

I am forwarding a You Tube video link.  This moving tribute to the men and women in the military was produced by
15-year-old Lizzie Palmer.
It brought tears to my eyes, and a new resolve to finish my Quilts of Valor blocks.  My small group is making a welcome home
quilt which will be given to a disabled veteran or a military family.  Several high quality quilt fabric companies have developed special fabric lines with Quilts of Valor in mind.  For more information go to:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pantone Fall Color Forecast


I know.  I know.  It's only 3 days since the official first day of summer, and I'm blogging about Fall??

I just had to share this link, which will be of special interest to my artsy Etsy buddies,  I'm sure.  It's the Pantone fall color report.


A big thanks to (aka Liz) for alerting me to this information!  Check out her blog post on this topic at (Imitation is the highest form of flattery.)


Even though I'm a purple person (Phlox), my favorite Fall color is Quarry.   Bamboo is . . . interesting?   Honeysuckle is still "in."   And brown is back.



LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I'm a low maintenance type of person—even my spouse would vouch for that.  As long as I have fabric, low-fat peanut butter, and Diet Coke,  most of my material wants are satisfied.  SO---when I hit a HIGH MAINTENANCE day – like today, it's like a major speed bump on my winding road of life.


For the next two weeks, I have Thursdays off at my day job.  Today I woke up bright and early determined to check several routine maintenance tasks off my omnipresent TO DO LIST:


Cat box – Check.

Laundry – Check.

Gas- Check.

Car Wash (long overdue) – Check.


Grocery run – Check.

Touch base with tax season client – Check.

Have vehicle checked before LONG road trip to South Dakota July 8-10 – No Check ?!?– Whoa!….


And here's where my day changed from routine maintenance  with a sense of accomplishment, to

High Maintenance , help me cope!!!!!!


My friendly mechanic said I had a slow leak in my right rear tire, and I needed to get it checked out before any road trip, because it was high risk for a blowout.  (Visions of 75 mph Interstate blowout with huge semi trucks crashing into my little gray car flashed through my head.)  SO—I went to Tommy the neighborhood tire guy, who advised me to replace two tires and use the best of the remaining four, rotate, balance, etc.   $260.  Ka-Ching!  Minor detour, and a hit to the budget, but I was back on track.


Today was the perfect day to finish staining the deck.  It was in the 70s, sunny with a light breeze.   My husband even set the DVR to record baseball  games so he could help.  We agreed:  Today was the day to "Git 'er done!" as Larry the Cable Guy would say.


All went well until we ran out of stain and energy….and Tommy called.  My tires look great, but I'll need to replace four tie-rods to the tune of $400 before it is safe enough for a long road trip.  I set an appointment to replace tie rods NEXT Thursday, and contemplated another hit to the budget.


But my old car will get me safely to SD.  I soaked up some rays.  I learned that Dawn dishwashing detergent, the wonder chemical that helped clean up a major oil spill, will also remove deck stain from skin, eyeglasses and hair.   I accomplished quite a bit, all things considered.  And I almost finished staining the deck.    The photo shows my view of the sky for about 4 hours this morning, through the deck lattice. 


Maintenance is mundane.  Maintenance sometimes requires a short-term hit to the budget.  But maintenance is part of being a good steward.   


Now I think I'll sign off and recharge my batteries…relaxation is essential for self-maintenance!    Maybe a little English paper piecing after a long hot shower?



LeAnn aka pasqueflower



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Novel Idea

During my recent day-trip to Brownville, Nebraska, I happened upon A Novel Idea Bookstore Chapter 2.

I have been a big fan of the original A Novel Idea Bookstore here in Lincoln for years.  

The shop owner, Cinnamon, has an incredible selection of used books, well-organized, and reasonably priced.   It has become a must see destination whenever my son and daughter-in-law are visiting from New Hampshire.   And there is a shop cat that treats customers like family.  (My friend, Nanci, who recently opened The Quilted Kitty, Too quilt shop in Brownville, also has shop cats, Wally and Caliber.) 


A Novel Idea Bookstore Chapter 2 is a scaled down retro version of the flagship store, with a bright purple painted floor covered by attractive cream and purple floral area rugs.  An antique rocking chair, librarian's desk, and glass-front bookshelves add to the charm of the Brownville store.   There is a kid-friendly reading corner with child-sized chairs and within-reach children's books. 


Walking into the bookstore, I saw so many of my favorite books on display!  It was like being reunited with old friends.  Here are just a few of my favorites, in no particular order, which I saw on the shelves in Brownville:


The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows


There was also an impressive collection of books by Nebraska's own Willa Cather and former US poet laureate Ted Kooser, as well as Native American literature and history, and Civil War history. 


I descend from a line of librarians.  My great-grandmother and grandmother were librarians, and I am married to a retired librarian.  I was born to be a bibliophile!  I especially enjoyed reading children's books to my children and now my grandchildren.  And there's a perilously tall tower of books on my nightstand waiting to be read.



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hats Off to the 4th of July!

It's shameless commerce Tuesday.  Today I'm featuring infant and child-sized 4th of July hats made from patriotic 100% cotton fabrics, available in sizes 0-3 months , 6-12 months, 1-3 years, and 4-8 years.  Orders placed by June 27 should arrive by July 4.  Custom orders are welcome –I recently shipped one! (Custom order - SOLD).


These fun and functional fully-lined hats were designed by Jen Hagedorn aka TieDyeDiva using her Sunny Day Hat pattern.  (Used with permission.)


Jen also has downloadable patterns for super cute children's clothing.  Her directions are detailed, beautifully photographed, and easy to follow.    Jen has a law degree , but loves fabric more than law.  (Me, too!)


I remember, as a kid, going to Lake Herman to watch the big fireworks display.  We'd sit on the trunk of the car and "Oooooh" and "Aahhhh" as the fireworks lit up the sky.  Then my little brother and I would fall asleep in the back seat on the drive back to our farm.


We're looking forward to a visit from our four Colorado grandkids and their parents over the 4th of July.  But I'll be watching my fireworks on A Capitol Fourth  (annual public TV broadcast from DC) again this year.


Wishing you and yours a safe and happy 4th of July holiday (a little early)!



LeAnn aka pasqueflower 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes

I'm a big fan of Eleanor Roosevelt -- a strong, outspoken, independent woman decades before "Women's Lib."
I have one of the quotes attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt posted on my refrigerator:  Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.  (I reminded my daughter of that when she left the prairie and went off to Harvard.  She graduated magna cum laude in 2010.)
The quote pictured above was posted in the Lyceum at Brownville, NE.  I took this photo on yesterday's day trip to the quaint little river town that time forgot but artisans rediscovered.
LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mini-Vacation: Bus Trip to Brownville

Today my hubby and I took a mini-vacation—a one-day bus trip to Brownville, NE, 75 miles southeast of our home town of Lincoln, NE.  The trip was sponsored by one of our local quilt shops, The Quilted Kitty ( 


Brownville is Nebraska's oldest town, tucked away in the scenic southeast corner of the State.  It is a quaint little place that time forgot, but artisans rediscovered.  It hosts 4 bookstores,  gift shops, a broom shop, jewelry studio, bound journal and stationery store, museums, art galleries, a winery, an ice cream shop, and a quilt shop!  It's authentic riverboat hotel was closed due to flooding on the Missouri River.


Brownville also sponsors an Old Time Autumn & Quilt Show (October 8-9), and Paint Brownville Autumn Plein Aire Art Event (October 6-9).  ( I immediately thought of my blog friend, Sonya, when I read about the plein aire event! Check out her beautiful blog at: )


The weather was beautiful.  The time away was good for the soul. 



LeAnn aka  pasqueflower

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Dan Buettner is a researcher from Minneapolis  who is perhaps best known for his pioneering work on longevity.  His more recent book, published by the National Geographic Society in 2010, is Thrive:  Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way (ISBN: 978-1-4262-0515-)

In researching the book, Buettner traveled the globe (see sidewalk chalk art from grandsons Alex and Oliver, above) to Denmark, Singapore, northeastern Mexico, and San Luis Obispo, California—some of the world's happiest places.  He also consulted with psychologists, economists, sociologists, and other experts.  He then distilled his findings to identify key factors that allow people to thrive.  Here, in a nutshell, is his conclusion:


"[I]ndividuals who thrive tend to possess enough money to cover their basic needs, but rather than striving for more cash, they focus their time and energy on developing a caring group of healthy friends, working at meaningful jobs, engaging in enriching hobbies, staying in reasonable shape, volunteering, and belonging to faith-based communities."   pp. 210-211.


I was particularly interested in his insights about how the workplace impacts happiness.  To insure that your job contributes to overall happiness, here are his ground rules, pp. 221-223:


                Avoid long commutes

                Limit your work week to 40 hours

                Don't skip vacations

                Enjoy happy hour (socialize with coworkers)

                Seek out the right boss

                Employ  yourself  (my Etsy "tribe" friends already knew that!)

                Get into teaching


Perhaps that is why my life feels more balanced now that I am semi-retired .  I still work more than 40 hours per week during tax season, working my part-time day job as an administrative law judge, and also doing tax work, but I  have a short commute,  the world's best tax office boss.  My Etsy shop lets me have the added bonuses that come from working for myself, and providing a creative outlet.  My hours spent sewing usually don't feel like "work."


May you find pleasure in your life's work – and THRIVE!



LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pillow Talk

It's Tuesday, and that means it is Shameless Commerce Day on my blog –a time when I feature a few of the items listed in my Etsy shop:  Although my shop specializes in boutique children's clothing, I also make other fun and functional fabric items.  Today I'm featuring 16" x 16" accent pillow covers, all made from out-of-the-ordinary 100% cotton designer fabrics. 


Also in that section of my Etsy shop, I offer children's ready to ship or custom sleepover pillowcases made from bright novelty prints in standard and toddler (or travel) sizes.  These colorful pillowcases are great for a slumber party, camping, a visit to Grandma's house, or just to make nap time or a long road trip a little bit cheerier. 


The vast majority of the pillowcases I make, however, are not for sale in my shop; they are donated to charities.   Adult pillowcases are given to the Lincoln Quilters Guild's pillowcase project for distribution to homeless and domestic abuse shelters in our area.   My small quilt group buddies and I have also sewn several pillowcases which were donated to ConKerr Cancer.  This 501(c)(3) organization was founded by Cindy Kerr whose son was diagnosed with cancer in 2002.  Cindy began making fun pillowcases to brighten his hospital stay. She soon began making pillowcases for other children at the children's hospital.   Although I am sad to say Cindy's son died, his memory lives on in the charity she founded.  ConKerr Cancer has provided nearly 400,000 pillowcases made by thousands of volunteers for children battling life changing illnesses. For more information about ConKerr Cancer, or to locate a collection site in your area, visit:   


If you'd like to make some of your own ConKerr Cancer pillowcases, here is a link to an excellent tutorial for making "hot dog style" pillowcases.    The tutorial was created by Erica's Craft & Sewing Center of South Bend, Indiana: , a fantastic online and brick-and-mortar fabric and craft store featuring high quality cotton quilting fabrics.  The hot dog technique minimizes the number of exposed seams and guarantees a super neat cuff and accent strip finish for the pillowcase.     I prefer to use French seams for the side and end seams, because I like the finished look, and it's a very durable seam.  However, serging is a perfectly acceptable alternative, and it's much faster.  (The kids won't care, I'm sure!)


Our two oldest granddaughters, Erin and Katy, shopped for fabric and sewed their own pillowcases with a little guidance from their mom and me.  They learned about fabric grain, how to use a rotary cutter, and how to thread and use the sewing machine.  They were delighted with the results, and proud to say, "I made it myself!"   Pillowcases are a great "learn to sew" project.  Pillowcases sewn by teens and tweens can also be used as a charity or community service project for scouts, 4-H, or church youth groups. 



LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Peach Rose—In Real Life and Fabric Still Life

I am inspired by Nature.  Earlier this week I captured  photos of my neighbor's peach colored roses in full bloom.  I love everything about those roses – color, shape, texture, smell. 


In 2010, I created an 8" x 10" peach rose art quilt as part of a Lincoln Quilters Guild challenge.  I used quilt artist Melinda Bula's (  fusible appliqué technique, which involves developing a pattern from a photograph and then choosing fabrics to approximate (or exaggerate or reinterpret) the colors in the photo.  The pattern looks a little like a paint-by-number picture from the 60s, but the numbers represent fabrics, not paint colors.  It was a challenging but very interesting process, to actually  train my eye to "see" over 25 colors in a "peach" rose.


Once I had all those teeny tiny pieces fused (or so I thought) to the light blue background fabric, and began a freestyle machine quilting technique known as thread painting (my first attempt!), some of my pieces became unstuck.  Plan B:  I purchased some water-soluble stabilizer, laid it over the top of all those fragile fused pieces, and resumed thread painting with much better, albeit imperfect, results!


I emailed Melinda Bula for permission to show the miniature quilt at my guild's quilt show in 2010, because it was based on a pattern for a much larger version of an appliquéd rose (37" x 34") from her book Cutting Garden Quilts:  Fabulous Fusible Flowers (Martingale: 2007).  I attached a photo of my 8" x 10" quilt with a ruler beside it.  She not only gave me permission to show it, she asked me for permission to share the photo of my miniature quilt with a class she was teaching using that technique!


I have photos of some other flowers that I may make into larger appliqué wall art some day, but for now I am content to enjoy the real life peach roses in my neighbor's garden.  


"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may." 

Robert Herrick, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time, The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250-1900, Arthur-Quiller-Couch ed. 1919. 



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Friday, June 10, 2011

Kids and Creativity

In my last post, I talked about Sir Ken Robinson's book, The Element:  How Finding your Passion Changes Everything (2009).   Today I would like to share with you a poem published in that book at pp. 242-243.  It was written by Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of an innovative educational model for preschoolers known as the Reggio approach (named for the town in Italy where it was initiated in the 1960s).


The child

is made of one hundred.

The child has

a hundred languages

a hundred hands

a hundred thoughts

a hundred ways of thinking

of playing, of speaking.

A hundred always a hundred

ways of listening

of marveling of loving

a hundred joys

for singing and understanding

a hundred worlds

to discover

a hundred worlds

to invent

a hundred worlds

to dream.

The child has

a hundred languages

(and a hundred hundred more)

but they steal ninety-nine.

The school and the culture

separate the head form the body.

They tell the child:

to think without hands

to do without head

to listen and not to speak

to understand without joy

to love and to marvel

only at Easter and Christmas.

They tell the child:

to discover the world already there

and of the hundred

they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:

that work and play

reality and fantasy

science and imagination

sky and earth

reason and dream

are things

that do not belong together.


And thus they tell the child

That the hundred is not there.

The child says:

No way.  The hundred is there.



The artwork posted above is from three of our nine grandchildren, Henry (8), Alex(6), and Oliver(4).  Each created a birthday card for me in his own creative way.  Henry's shows me (the gray-haired one wearing purple) at the bottom of the stairs of our split-foyer  home, welcoming him with open arms and ready to give him a hug.  He also drew a humorous tree "bark-ing" at a dog.  Alex colored wonderfully colorful trees and talking yellow flowers, and the abstract color study shown above that looks like an Amish bar quilt with non-traditional colors.  Oliver, who will enter Kindergarten in the Fall, is all about learning to write his name.  But he added lots of purple on the inside of the card, because he knows that is Grandma's favorite color.


May we all retain a childlike sense of joy and wonder.  May we give ourselves permission to color outside the lines and to use nontraditional color choices if it suits us.



LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

In My Element and Finding My Tribe

I recently read Sir Ken Robinson's thought-provoking book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (2009).  I had previously viewed a recording of his famous 2006 TED Lecture: Do Schools Kill Creativity?


Robinson defines the "element" as the place where the things you love and the things you are good at come together (p. 8).   Stated another way, the element is "the meeting point between natural aptitude and personal passion" (p. 21).   I like to think of the aptitude piece as the unique God-given talents we all possess.  1 Cor. 7:7.   The passion piece is a sense of "getting it" and "loving it."  A person in her element can become totally absorbed in a task and lose track of time.   A person in her element feels that she has found her true self. 


Robinson also discussed the importance of connecting with others who share your passion, or, in his words, finding your "tribe."  My tribe consists mostly of my quilting buddies (family and friends) but also includes my cyberspace buddies --people in my Etsy circles and teams, none of whom I have met in person.  My tribe also extends to my local and state quilt guilds, and a local, regional, and online community of fabric vendors and fabric lovers, most of whom identify themselves as quilt shops or dedicated quilters.  A handful are fabric artists, but they are really members of a more creative tribe.   (For an interesting profile of the national quilting "tribe," see a summary of the most recent Quilting in America survey by Quilts, Inc.: .)

I am in my element when I am playing with fabrics, and that has been true since I was very young.

I love this old photo of me at age 4, sitting at a big old Domestic sewing machine – no fancy stitches, but a real workhorse!  Best of all, it had a knee pedal, so I could sew even though my feet did not touch the floor.  The pin box shown at the corner of the sewing table was an old metal Sucrets container.  I still have it---and I still use it as a pin box. 


I was blessed to have a mother who encouraged my love of fabric and gave me carte blanche to raid the scrap bag.  If she was worried that I might hurt myself with scissors or poke myself with a needle, she handled it by urging me to be careful, not by forbidding me to learn and play.  She also taught me to embroider at a very young age, and I've enjoyed handwork ever since.  I was delighted to see that a resurgence of hand embroidery was one of the trends noted by Kim and Kris of The DIY Dish in their recent report from this year's Quilt Market.


Robinson calls creativity "applied imagination."  I like that concept.  It works for me.

May each of us find our "element" and our supportive "tribe."



LeAnn aka pasqueflower