Welcome to My Swym and a Few Things I've Figured Out Along the Way

When we moved to Kansas two years ago I doubted I'd ever want to sew again. My entire life had been surrounded by creativity but I thought that was all behind me. I was ready for a change.


The small room at the bottom of the stairs in our new home would make a wonderful sewing room but I had no desire for it to be anything other than the gym that the previous owners had designed it to be. So before we moved we sold my sewing room furniture and loaded up the treadmill. Goodbye California, hello a whole new life in Kansas City.

Umm...ya...well, not exactly.

Many of you know that my progressive idiopathic peripheral neuropathy is the reason we relocated to KC. Not knowing where this medical condition would lead, we felt it best to be near our son and his family. I am so thankful for that nudge. I'm sure Bill and I would still be working if it hadn't been for my health issues. I mention this only to explain the importance of that beast of a treadmill.


It has become an important part of my wellbeing. Although doctors can't tell us why I have neuropathy, I have figured out on my own that I feel better when I eat "clean" and move. I also have figured out that I truly enjoy the comforts that air conditioning and heat can bring, so the treadmill needs to stay right here, in the house.

One morning while walking on the treadmill I got to thinking that perhaps I could incorporate a sewing room into the gym, a "Swym", if you will. It wouldn't be perfect - there were no windows or natural light. There was carpet instead of my preferred hardwood floor and no storage in this oddly shaped, mirror lined room. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I could make it work. 


I started researching sewing cabinets but couldn't find anything that I thought would work. About that time I received a catalog from Ballard Designs. I knew their office furniture because I had used it in my office at Strawberry Patches.  I loved it because I could configure it however I wanted, they offered the corner unit that I was looking for, it came preassembled and it was all 25% off.


After running my ideas by Bill I ordered it and it arrived five days later.

Welcome to my swym...


The wooden Cathedral arches are from Kirkland's and helped break up the mirrored wall. 


Both of the inexpensive lamps are also from Kirkland's and help a lot with the lack of light.


My comfy adjustable chair is from Pottery Barn


and I found that cute Fall pillow at Kirkland's too.



There was a small closet in this room that housed a radon detector (?) and the electrical panels for the house. After relocating Bill's golf clubs I had room for a storage cart to hold most of my fabric boxes



and over the door storage units for my doodads - all from The Container Store.


Is it perfect?


But, you know what?

It's perfect for me, right now. It's organized, cozy and most of my stuff is right here at the ready.


One more thing I've figured out along the way. It's important for me to stay positive and to look to the future with excitement, enthusiasm and optimism.

As my sign says, nobody said it would be easy. I think sometimes what is easy is to sit back and wring our hands and say, "Why me"?

I prefer to ask, "Why me? - how did I get so stink'n blessed"? 

Now, except for that one hour a day on the treadmill I have all day to do what I have always loved to do in a fabulous redesigned space - 


Encourage one another,


 *Please feel free to ask questions about any of the items mentioned in this post. I was able to find discounts above the discounts advertised in the current Ballard Catalog and Kirkland's offers daily discounts through their app for regularly priced merchandise. Hey, all the more money to spend on new fabric. Right?


Tutorial Tuesday #5 - Cheaters DO Prosper and A Tale of Two Needles

Don't let all of these tiny, postage stamp sized squares fool you


These projects are deceivingly fast and easy to do



with no piecing or quilting experience required.


All you need is cute "cheater" fabric with uniformly printed "patches", twin needles and the ability to sew a straight line.


I had these two cheater fabrics and wanted to make them look like I'd meticulously pieced them, so working from the wrong side of the fabric, I simply finger pressed the fabric on the line formed by the print of the squares and sewed along the fold with a 1/16" seam. I did all the vertical lines then


pressed them in one direction


then sewed the horizontal lines and pressed them in one direction.


When all the lines were sewn and pressed it looked like this on the front.


Doesn't it look like I pieced all those little squares together?

Now to quilt it. I layered a thin piece of baby flannel on the back and started sewing just to the left and right of each seam, but as I was machine quilting this, going up and back, sewing on each side of the seams, I got to thinking; I wonder if a twin needle would work?

Could I sew one stitching line that looked like I had sewn two?

Cover twice the ground in half the time?

The answer was YES!

So, you know me, I just had to share, but first a little history:

Back in the day, when I used to sell sewing machines, I often started the conversation with the prospective machine buyer by asking her what she was looking for in a new sewing machine. Surprisingly, many times the reply would be, "I want to be able to use twin needles".

Well, that was an easy one because almost every sewing machine can accommodate twin or double needles.


A twin needle is actually just two needles joined on one shank that's inserted into the machine as you would a single needle. The two needles create rows of parallel stitching lines and can be used in almost any machine with zigzag sewing capabilities.


You will need two spools of thread, one for each needle and of course just one bobbin. (The black fuzz is optional).


Be sure your machine has a zigzag foot and a needle plate with a horizontal hole large enough to accommodate the width of the two needles so as to avoid needle breakage. Check your owners manual for threading guidelines.


The stitches are formed by the bobbin thread doing a slight zig zag stitch on the back side of your fabric so as to catch the two top parallel stiches. All you have to do is thread the two needles and your machine will magically know what to do. They're smart like that.


I think some of the mystery in knowing which twin needles to purchase is understanding the sizing.  I admit, at first, it can be confusing. When shopping for twin needles, look at the two number designations, such as 3.0/90. The first number indicates the spacing between the two needles in millimeters (in this case the needles are 3 millimeters apart), and the second number indicates the actual size of the needles (90/14 - perfect for cottons with a thin batting). Needles come spaced from 1.6 to 8 millimeters, but note that not all widths can be used on all machines; check your owner's manual for width limitations.

Just like regular single needles, twin needles also come in various types like metallic, universal, denim and stretch.

For the projects I am showing here I used universal twin needles in size 3.0/90.


I used foot #10 on my BERNINA (an edgestitch foot) and simply sewed with the center guide of the foot following along the seam of the squares. The twin needles created a double line of straight stitches, one on each side of the seam. I quilted my fabric in half the time! I want to add here that the twin needles made for a neater looking topstitch than the conventional method. I'm not sure why but it looked neater. 

After your fabric is quilted, you'll cut out your project. Your squares will shrink in both directions by about 1/4" due to the tiny tucks you created to make the print look like patchwork so you'll want to do the "piecing" and quilting before you cut out your project.





 Doesn't it look like I meticulously pieced the fabric for this sweet little pouch?


Such fun projects made to look like they were lots more complicated and time consuming than they actually were!

I'll list the websites below where I found the two fabrics that I used for these projects. I know that they are older fabrics and can be really hard to find. Hopefully you'll have something in your stash that you can try these techniques on.

Please feel free to ask questions, I'd love to hear from you!

Encourage one another,


Blue patchwork fabric and other Pam Kitty Garden fabrics - www.keepsakecottagefabrics.com

Pink patchwork fabric and red Jelly Clip (size medium) for pouch - www.daisycottagegoods.etsy.com