My Favorites for the Season

I Know Spring is Here When . . . . .

Happy Spring!

Does it look like spring where you live? Around here, the first signs are beginning to reveal themselves.

After a long cold winter I routinely pace the stepping stones each day, along my flower beds to catch the very first signs of “green”. Anything that shows “green” gets me so excited that I squeal with delight, and loud enough for my little boys to hear me so that they too will run over to see what Mom is squealing about. They are 3 and 5 this spring, and I’ve implanted this giddiness for the first signs of spring into them as well. And to hear 2 little boys squealing about flower, pointing them out to me, is pure joy.

So, for us here in St. Lucas, Iowa, our very first signs of spring are the Crocus. I have them planted in several spots, in flower beds, under a pear and a cherry tree . . . . . and their blooms reassure me that warmer days really are ahead. I especially love that they bloom despite the damp, bone-chilling temps of early spring, which often include a few blankets of snow. The Crocus, I guess you could say, are like a trigger for me. As indicated by my squeals, I am instantly overflowing with excitement that “IT” really is here. Not like I thought it would not come this year, because when was the last time mother nature skipped a season? But those of us that live where the winter seems to drag on and on and on . . . . and on, we NEED this trigger, this blatant sign of optimism.  SPRING!  My sign is the Crocus flowers.

I love this little bloom so dearly, that I’ve incorporated it into some of my designs.  Which for some, answers the question “Julie, where do you come up with your ideas”.

These are (from left to right): MM11-5 In The Month of May, shown in wool and cotton & MM405 Watercan Blooms.

I used Crocus flowers in both. The Pussy willows would easily come in 2nd as one of my favorite 1st signs of spring.

Then there are the Tulips and Daffodils.  And oh, that reminds me, my Daffodils are all sprouted and the shoots are up about 3 inches . . . . . insert squeals here!  It’s only a matter of time until the orchestra of spring blooms begins BOOMING here in our yard!  YAY!

Does your heart ache for the first signs of Spring too? If you wish to show off your blooms too, please post pictures. The more blooms the merrier.

And I have one request of you: if you have made any of my designs containing my beloved Crocus, or any other blooms, would you please post a picture of it here, or on our Face Book page?

. . . . and that concludes my love for crocus.



Testing 123. . . .Im ba-ack

If you are a follower of this blog, then I owe you an apology.  I had given up on my blog and stopped putting any of my energy into creating posts.

I guess I needed a break. I went so far as to cancel my wordpress account, so I’m not even sure this post will reach a single soul. Which is why it truly is a test. I’m sending it out mainly to see if it gets published.  So, if you are by chance hoping for some life changing inspiration here . . . . . uh, this isn’t it. For today anyway.

Ive had a long break from posting and am ready to get back on the pencil. So stay tuned and please share with your pals because that’s how you inspire others, by sharing your experiences.  Um, I don’t mean share this exact post cuz it’s just a little blabber, but please share the future fantastic posts.

Tah Tah for now.



Peek at New “Quilty” Patterns

A Peek at the New

(our booth at Quilt Market in Salt Lake City)

Oooh whee! We now have Spring Quilt Market 2016 behind us and we’ve come up for air. If you’re not sure what “quilt market” is, I’ll give ya the cliff notes.
Quilt Market is a culmination of everything “quilty” coming together under one gigantic roof. Companies large and small, showcasing their latest/greatest fabrics, threads, gadgets, patterns, batting, sewing machines, quilting machines . . . whatever products they create/sell related to quilting, it’s all under one beheamoth of a convention center roof.
Oh, and any and every “quilty” celebrity is there, just walking around as if they’re not famous . . . .and you can waltz right up and talk to them. Yeah, you don’t have to stalk them, it’s really cool. I’m talking really famous folks like Eleanor Burns, Rob Appell (star of Man Sewing), Nancy from Nancy’s Notions, Fons and Porter just to name a few you may know.

Anywho, that’s what quilt market is. It’s a really big deal for those of us companies who vend at quilt market, and we’re swamped for a few weeks afterwards, as we fill orders and catch our breath.

Now that you are in the know, how about that peek I promised you.

We released several new products at market.
I’m going to show you 2 of them today, so as to not overload and thus short circuit your creative juices.

Click on images for direct product purchase link.

This is P162 Sew Vintage – it finishes at 12″x14″ and can hang upon a 12″ hanger or on your 12″x14″ table stand if you have one of those.  Just a little embroidery needed to add the thread and needle. I love the modern fresh colors I chose for the pieced borders.

And, here’s P159 Sew Necessary. It finishes at 6″x12″ and it too can hang on a 6″ hanger OR a 6″x12″ table stand if you have one. If the style looks familiar, you’d be correct. The checkered background is the same style as all my designs in the Monthly Minis 8 series. A little embroidery is necessary to define the folds in the fabrics and creases in the pincushion, but all the embroidery stitch directions are included in the pattern. So don’t let a little embroidery intimidate you if you’re new to it. As for the cute ruler tape, you can use just about anything for this (if you don’t have exactly this). If you have a fabric company’s ribbon from purchasing an entire fabric line’s fat quarter bundle, that would work perfect!

Purchase options on both include getting the pattern and hanger or stand all together. Lots of quilt shops loved these patterns at market, so if you have an awesome quilt shop near you please check with them for getting these patterns. If, you do not (gasp!) have an awesome quilt shop near you, then we’d love to help take care of you.

Oh, yeah – if you love my fabrics in my samples, you can get those exact fabric kits from my Mom’s shop (where I pick all my fabrics for new designs). Go here:

And  . . .that’s all I’m gonna let you peek at for today. Everything in moderation, right?
Uh, besides, I’m still updating the website anyway.  HA!

I’ll send you more spanks, oops I mean brand spankin’ new peeks in a day or two.

As always, I want to thank you sincerely for being part of my tribe. I love what I get to do for a living. That’s what being a kitten has helped me achieve, pure occupational freedom.


Ooh Ooh! We’ve added “Pinterest” pin buttons to every item on our website. So, please feel free to pin everything you love and wish for. Oh go ahead and get pin happy.  Pin pin pin pin pin.

Wishing you happy stitchin!


Make Easter More Exciting Then Christmas

MM804onstandEaster rocks!  It’s far more exciting than Christmas, in my opinion and here’s why . . . oh, and my little boys (2 & 4 years old) agree with me.

Easter in our home is exactly what you see here in this cute little quilt:  An Easter bunny, early spring blooming flowers, coloring eggs the night before so the Easter bunny will stop by and hide them all for us to find in the morning, along with our Easter baskets filled with a few goodies.  It’s the entire family, kids and adults, getting excited about hunting to find all the eggs/baskets.  And I don’t know about your Easter bunny, but ours is quite good at hiding those eggs.  Some years it takes us all day to find that last egg.  And, if the spring is an early one and warm enough to be outside, we take all the plastic eggs and do another hunt outside – the kids love to play “Easter bunnies” for this hunt, teasing the adults to find all their hidden eggs.

It’s spring, the long cold winter is behind us (mostly) and we get teased with warmer days and sunshine.  The fun lasts all day long.  The presents are just 1 or 2 instead of many – as a parent I find this to be refreshing.  Ahhh.  Crocus flowers are usually blooming, the very first sign of spring that I’ve longed to see all winter.

My little boys are beginning to share my love love love for Easter and I love love love it.  Considering they are little sponges, it’s no wonder.  They hear me talk about Easter with all the dreaminess I’ve just told to you.  And they’ve been telling me for weeks now how they can’t wait for Easter to come.  Ahhh, I think to myself, they’ll grow up appreciating Easter as a renewing, awakening, egg hunting, crocus-blooming, spring holiday.

This may be a good time to point out that we are not a religious family in any structured sense, and that our definition of “Easter” does not involve any holy figure’s resurrection/biblical reference at all.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not our family belief and this would not be the place to talk about those anyway.

So, whatever this glorious spring holiday means to you, I wish you a renewing, warm, sunny, crocus-blooming Easter.



My Babes

Little Boys Love Big Fish

Not all of my posts need to be info or biz oriented, right?  Every now and then, I like to show peeks at how fast my little peanuts are growing, so today’s post is peekin’ at my cutie patooties.

Who thinks their kids are the cutest kids ever?  Uh, if you have kids and you didn’t raise your hand . . . well then I don’t know what to say, other than “I knew my kids are the cutest, I knew it, I knew it”.  This past weekend we took our first trip to see critters.  We took them to the Mississippi River Museum Aquarium in Dubuque, IA.


Here are my two little angels, Lewie and Jack, standing so sweetly in front of some huge fish.  Uh yeah, did I say sweetly?  Oh, I must have mistyped because as you can clearly see, sweet isn’t exactly what I see.  I see 2 little terds who were slightly less than a handful.  But in their defense, we had spent the night in a hotel room, way out of their routine, Lewie was coming down with the flu (as we soon after realized), and none of us had more than 4 hours of sleep.  So all things considered, they were pretty darn good little squirts and they definitely enjoyed seeing all the big fish, alligator, turtles and snakes.


And here’s one of my favorite poses that Jack has mastered.  He’ll shoot me in 15 years when he sees this, but for now I think it’s downright funny.  You go Jack, get them boogies!



And you saw me mention our Aquarium trip was actually day 1 of our family flu fun.  Yes, shortly after we left the aquarium and headed for home, fevers broke out on the kids, lasted for 2 days and just when we thought we had beat the flu bug, it had one last punch which was a cough that kept you up all night long.  Here’s a picture of Lewie on one of our sick days this week .  . . . looks are deceiving because a half hour after I took this glamour shot, he clonked out for a marathon nap.  Poor babies.  I’m happy to report that after 7 fun-filled days we have conquered that nasty bug and are looking forward to warm spring days and lots of fresh air.

Well, that’s a peek at my boys.  Cute little booger pickin peanuts of mine.  They really are the cutest kids ever!

Lessons Learned in Business

When you don’t have an IT department, but need one fast

Oh my, we business owners wear a lot of hats don’t we.

MM703 COPY It’s a wonder our heads don’t crush under the weight of all the hats we’re expected to wear . . . . especially when we’re in the beginning years of our business.  I mean, we don’t have a pot full of cash to just hire the right people to fit all those hats, so we do it ourselves, or at least we try.  Sometimes we fail, other times we just squeak by, and once in a while we try on a hat and discover we like it.  Though, I admit, most of the hats I’ve worn over the years, I’d rather not have had to wear.

I want to take a moment to talk about some lessons I’ve learned in business.  Patch Abilities came into existence in 2004, after I navigated the first major fork in my path.  Thankfully, I took the right path and ended up on this fantastic journey of owning a business.  A journey I would not trade for anything.  But this journey comes with many many lessons I’ve had to learn.  Some, the hard way and some the easy way.  I believe we are all in business for one core reason, and that is to make a good living thru selling a product, service or knowledge that will better the world we live in.  That said, I am happy.  No, make that passionate, about openly sharing any lessons I’ve learned, if it will help a fellow business owner.

Now, back to the mountain of hats.  One of the hats I hate, wait, I better put it in all caps because I hate it so much. I HATE wearing the IT hat!  Call it internet technology, computer tech, whatever, but I hate it.  I don’t understand it one tiny bit and anytime I’ve tried to muddle thru it, even with the help of some IT dude on the phone, I just plain suck at it.  Yeah, I said suck because no other word describes it better than that.

So, I’m pretty sure that many of you are not IT literate folk either, so what in tarnation do we without an IT department, when we need one asap?  Well, I bought one.  Yep, bought one.  Here in our office we have 2 main computers and both of them need to be running in tippy top shape and kept safe from the crazy-loony-hackers.  To keep them safe, I trust Kaspersky.  I am not in any way affiliated with them, just use ’em and trust ’em.  Like I said, I am happy to share what I’ve learned and what I trust.

So, we have Kaspersky protection for internet, yada yada.  Well, my computer hard drive was slowly dying a month ago, as the trusty Kaspersky helper told me on the phone as she was examining my computer.  She advised me to get their Premium support which provides IT support on all of our computer systems, for a mere $169.99 (for 1 year).

Seriously?  I can have IT support at my fingertips anytime for just $169.99?!  Seriously?  I kept asking her that.  Once I got over being stunned that I could purchase unlimited IT support for less than $200 bucks, I quickly signed up.  And let me affirm that it was the best money I’ve ever spent on IT support.  They are there when we needed help setting up a new computer, when we needed to reinstall software, when we needed to add a printer.  This service rocks and I don’t have to wear the damn hat!  Woo Hoo!  I simply pick up the phone.

Buy an IT department, for less than $200.  That’s my biz lesson for today.  It’s just what I’ve learned, what works fantastic for us and what I trust.  I hope it helps you today too.


“F” Applique – Make your own words

Do you ever find yourself thinking “I wonder how I could make my own words or letter” for an applique project?  I have a method for creating words, any words, in just the perfect font you want, and turning them into fabulous fusible fabric.  Here’s how I do it.

If you’ve been following along for the past couple weeks, you know that I’m sharing all my tippy top tips and tricks for “F”un applique.  And if your experience with applique has been some “F” word other than FUN, then you’ve come to the right place.  I want to show you that it is a fun, fantastic technique that is very user friendly.

And, since it’s 4:33pm as I sit down to write this post, I’m gonna be brief.  I pick up my peanuts (little boys) in 15 minutes . . . . this will really test my get-to-the-point skills.

So, you want to create your own words or letters, and you don’t want to embroider them.  Follow these steps and you’ll open up endless possibilities for fabric-word creations.

  • grab your computer or tablet that is connected to a printer (very important)
  • open up a program which you can create letters, documents, etc.
  • open a new document and type the word you want on the screen
  • highlight the word and change the font until you find the font/look you want – –wording 3 - Copy here’s my “welcome” in a font I like
  • next widen the stroke of the text – I put the stroke at 3 to make it bolder, like this: wording 4 - Copy
  • then widen the word until it is wide enough for your space: wording 2 - Copy


  • then mirror the entire word:  wording 5 so you can use it with fusible web.


  • last, print it out, trace and use!

I hope this all makes sense . . . . my 15 minutes are up!

I’d love to hear your comments and feedback.


Tips for Better Applique

“F” Applique! Which Fusible Web Do I Use?

Trick #2 – Which Fusible Web Do I Use?
Make the “F” stand for “FUN”

My tippy top tricks for making fusible applique fun.

Applique (fusible, that is) should not be hard or hated.  Definitely not hated.  And if you’re going to use an “F” word to describe it, let it be only 3 letters, F. U. N.   Having designed over 200 applique patterns, and machine appliqued nearly all of them, I am pretty stinkin’ good at it.  Practice does make perfect better (let’s not use the word perfect for now) and I would love to share with you the tricks I’ve developed/discovered. . . by the way, these are in no specific order of importance.

Trick #2 – Which Fusible Web Do I Use?  
“Oh fusible web, you are my “applique BFF””.  And no, that’s not the basting spray fumes getting to me.  I love fusible web and without it, I personally would not be the self-proclaimed applique queen.  One of our readers left us a comment about their “f” in applique, and it said “trying to choose a fusible that works”.  So, I’m addressing this topic in today’s tippy top trick.

Here in my sewing studio, I do one type of applique only and it involves using a fusible web.   It makes my applique projects much more fun than if I were not using it . .. . uh, in all honesty I don’t have a clue what I would use if it were not an available tool.  I should back up a bit and say there are other methods of “applique” that do not involve some type of fusible web, such as needle turn.  They are not my cup of tea, however, so I stick to what I enjoy and that’s fusible web.

So, let’s get down to the meat here.  Which FW do I use and why?  I use Heat ‘n Bond Lite.  The company does not pay me to any degree to say that, rather I’m telling you what I use 99% of the time.  I’ll list my reasons for loving this product:
* it’s a paper backed FW which is easily drawn upon with a pencil, pen or marker
* the paper and the fusible substance do not separate when handling the product
* it only takes a few seconds to heat up and fuse to the fabric
it does not leave a gummy residue on your needle!  this should be a the top of the list
* they have a heavy version of it, which does not require stitching to keep your piece in place – I find it perfect for tiny, detailed pieces that are too tedious to stitch around – such as the stars and bats on these “Scary Buddies”.
* fusible side is not tacky, so when you place your applique pieces on backgrounds, they will not stay in place until you fuse them with an iron . . . . . but this does not bother me, though I listed it as a con for your information

Other FW’s I have tried:  Steam a Seam – and I gave it a good shot, really I did.  Using it with wool applique, I thought it might offer an advantage over the H&B by having my pieces lightly stick to the background before I fused them with my iron.  But, I personally did not care for it.  My biggest complaint was that I had a gummy feel to every needle I stitched through it, hand or machine.  And, I thought it took forever to heat it up and fuse with my iron, and that was accounting for the extra thickness of wool.  So . . . . the only FW I have found that works for me is Heat n Bond Lite.  The bolt even says it’s “made in USA”.  I’ve no idea if other FW’s are, but it’s another “pro” to add to this self-proclaimed applique queen’s list.

Sew, which fusible web do I use?  Heat n Bond Lite.

I want to know what makes applique fun or frustrating for you.

Please share your “F”s about applique – be it “fun” or not-so.   Leave a comment for a chance to win a “Scary Buddies” pattern.  We’ll draw at least 1 winner on Wednesday Feb 24th from all the “F” comments.  Ha Ha.  The more “f” comments we receive, the more patterns we’ll give away! So share and comment and get everyone else to share their applique “f”s.

Ooh Ooh! We’ve added “Pinterest” pin buttons to every item on our website. So, please feel free to pin everything you love and wish for. Oh go ahead and get pin happy.  Pin pin pin pin pin.

Tips for Better Applique

My tippy top tricks for making fusible applique fun – TRICK #1

logo-squareApplique (fusible, that is) should not be hard or hated.  Definitely not hated.  And if you’re going to use an “F” word to describe it, let it be only 3 letters, F. U. N.   Having designed over 200 applique patterns, and machine appliqued nearly all of them, I am pretty stinkin’ good at it.  Practice does make perfect better (let’s not use the word perfect for now) and I would love to share with you one of the tricks I’ve developed/discovered


Trick #1 – Don’t start, stop, start, stop, start, stop.

When you have a shape that has other pieces that overlap it here and there, you don’t have to stop and tie off when you come to the overlapping piece.  Let me explain using my little bird on a branch below.  Here’s how I appliqued around the entire branch without stopping and moving my needle to the next point, leaving threads to clip and tie off.

Little Birdie is featured in 2 patterns: MM905 Little Birdie table runner & MM9T2 Tah-Dah Towels for Spring
Little Birdie is featured in 2 patterns: MM905 Little Birdie table runner & MM9T2 Tah-Dah Towels for Spring
  1. I started at the “start here” spot.  Using a blanket stitch, I stitched up to the pink flower (left) and stop
  2. Put my needle in the up position
  3. I switch my machine to a straight stitch (noting your blanket stitch settings so you won’t forget)
  4. Then, manually place my needle just to the left of the pink flower and straight stitched along (but not on) the pink flower until I reach where I begin blanket stitching the branch again, and stop
  5. Put my needle in the up position
  6. Switch my machine back to the blanket stitch (use same settings as before)

Continue blanket stitching on the branch. Then I came to the bird body which overlaps the branch just a bit.  Again, I follow these steps and continued this process all the way around the entire branch until I got back to the starting point.  My very rudamentary yellow drawings here, show my path.  Sorry about the chicken-scratch look, but you get the jist.

I love this trick because

  •  save time by not having to go back and clip all those pesky threads.
  • I don’t have several threads to clip, just 2 at the start/stop point (and 2 on the back side)
  • I don’t waste lots of thread that would be those long strands of loose threads if I were to stop, tie off (or backstitch), move my needle/project to the next spot, and begin stitching again.

It just looks sharper and cleaner.

??’s – One big question that will eventually pop into your brain is: “But won’t my stitches show around the flowers, especially if I’ve stitched over that same path 2 or more times?”
No.  As long as you stitch over the same path, they will not show up when you’re all finished.  In this particular case, the branch is the first thing I blanket stitched, so the blanket stitching around the flowers, leaves and bird covered it up.  But use common sense: if you stitch black thread on white fabric, then yeah the stitching will show up.  I use this trick ALL the time and I’ve NEVER once regretted it.  And, I’ve shown this trick to many guilds and then asked folks if they can see where I “did my trick”.  Nope.  No one can see it.  Tah Dah!  Success.

So, that’s one of my applique tricks.

Please share with me one of your “F”s about applique – be it “fun” or not-so.  I want to know what makes applique fun or frustrating for you.  Leave a comment below for a chance to win a “Little Birdie” pattern (table runner or towel).  We’ll draw a winner on Wednesday Feb 17th from all the “F” comments.  Ha Ha.

My Favorites for the Season

Easter Project Suggestions

Can you really whip up an adorable Easter project in just a day?

Yes we can! Yes you can!
Oops, I have seen way too many political campaign ads in the past few months, living in Iowa . .. .

Easter is early this year.  March 27th to be exact.
So if you’re looking for a new Easter or spring project to stitch up in a jiffy, may I offer a few “sunny” suggestions. Click on images to shop.

Ooh Ooh! We’ve added “Pinterest” pin buttons to every item on our website. So, please feel free to pin everything you love and wish for. Oh go ahead and get pin happy.  Pin pin pin pin pin.

All of these projects are available thru ANY awesome quilt shop that carries Patch Abilities products. Please, if at all possible, drive or surf(the internet) to your local quilt shop and purchase locally.  Can’t stress “shop local” enough. 
Now, if you live in the sticks or if your local shop does not carry our products, then by all means, shop with us. (stepping down from soapbox now)

The 1st and probably my favorite is
MM804 Bunny Got Back
he finishes at 6″ x 12″ and has 2 hanging/display options: on your table with a stand (with interchangable headers) or on your wall with a 6″ hanger. 

Don’t forget the cute buttons for the flowers and eggs – he’ll look like he’s sitting in a green puddle otherwise.
$9 – pattern, $18.08  – pattern + buttons
$8.38 carrot hanger, or $9.84 carrot header (stand required)

How about a table runner?
MM904 Bunny Basket
finishes at 12″ x 40″ and the pattern has a “super simple” stamp on it – it’s true. This is a perfect beginner-friendly whip it up project.

$9.00  – pattern

There’s even a corresponding towel pattern:

$9.00  – pattern

And last, here are some of my long-skinny wall hangings that helped put Patch Abilities on the quilt map.
All of these finish at 6″ x 22″, except for Chocolate Bunny – he is 6″ x 20″.
Click on any image to shop

$9.00  –  each pattern
You’ll of course need a handy way of hanging any of these little cuties . . . . say something like . . . oh I don’t know . . . a hanger.

We won’t make you go hunting for an adorable hanger, no sir-ee.  We have those available too.  Yep-er-ree-do! We sure do.  When you click on an image, you’ll zoom over to that page on our website.  We have convenient purchase options in the dropdown menus.

So, there ya have it.  All of my favorite Easter projects.  Of course, I’ve done all of these . . . . . how many will you do?
Wishing you happy stitchin!

Psst . . . if, you really really love the fabrics you see here in our samples, I have a secret source for the fabric kits. 
As you may know, my Mom owns an awesome quilt shop near Jesup, Iowa.  Merry’s Stitchins. And it just so happens that I create all of my new designs from her fabrics . . . . so she has all of THE fabric kits. 

Whiz on over to Merry’s Stitchins by clicking here.

Or, give them a call to place your order immediately.