Bayeux Tapestry/embroidery

Today I went to see the Bayeux Tapestry, which is really wool embroidery on linen.




It is about 150 feet long, and shows how William the Conqueror became king of England in 1066. They believe it was made within 20 years of 1066! It’s amazing that anything that old, made of fabric still exists (outside of Egypt where it’s so dry that 1000 year old fabrics aren’t unusual). This tapestry/embroidery is amazing!imageHere is a description of the embroidery stitches used. I’m  sorry that the photo isn’t very good.  I took it through a pane of glass.

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More hand sewing


I’m continuing to sew this cathedral window sample. At the Voices In Cloth quilt show I learned something interesting from Youngmin Lee, a quilter originally from Korea. In Korea they have their own tradition of making what looks exactly like cathedral window blocks. But their name for it is “wish fulfilling jewel”.

As you may or may not know, I’m on vacation in London. Here are some lovely desserts, stacked up at the cafe at the British Museum.


imageHere are some more non-eatable yummies.


I think these are from the Victoria and Albert Museum.



This last one is made of off cuts from military uniforms by a British woman taylor around the time of Napoleon. It’s appliquéd and embroidered on top.


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Hand sewing cathedral windows

imageI’m working on a hand sewn 4 block cathedral window sample for the class I’m teaching at HelloStitch on June 10. In this photo I’m sewing 2 of the blocks together with a tight whip stitch. The nail clippers are because I’m on a trip, and I’ve had my sewing scissors confiscated in the past. This is a small, very doable project for traveling. The orange and yellow squares are to insert into the window between the blocks.

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Cathedral window quilts

old cathedral window

Here is a cathedral window pillow that I made in the 1980’s, entirely by hand. I hadn’t made one since then, but I’m teaching a class on how to make them at HelloStitch in June, so I’ve been researching them. A lot has changed since last time I made one. I found 5 different ways of making them: entirely by hand, 2 versions entirely by machine, and 2  that are a combination of hand and machine. I stayed up till 1:30 last night making a postcard sized one for the Berkeley Public Library’s quilt show. I made it entirely by machine, because I was in a hurry, and I wanted to see if I liked it by machine.

postcard cathedral window

Here it is, above. I’m pretty pleased with it, but the craftsmanship is much higher when it’s done partly by hand.

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My new video!

Watch this brand new video of me, teaching you how to make a matza cover for Passover, without any sewing. Of course you could sew on it if you wanted to. I used fusible web, and it is more permanent if you stitch around it. Here’s the link:

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Disappearing pinwheel churndash

imageHere’s one of the disappearing blocks that I forgot to post earlier. I’ve already cut it into nine equal squares. When you rearrange the pieces you can make a churn-dash. Churn-dash is the name of an old quilt block. If you looked at a butter churn from the top it might look like this. I think the dash is the part that moves up and down to churn the milk into butter. Here is a churn-dash with a pinwheel in the middle.

imageBut you could rearrange the pieces so that the churn-dash was grey and the background was the purple dotted fabric. Or, you could change it into sort of a wagon wheel or wedding ring, with a pinwheel in the middle:



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Videos of me demonstrating paper-cutting and mezuzah making!

My friends at Bimbam made YouTube videos of me demonstrating how to make paper-cuts and mezuzot. Mezuzah making video here and Paper cutting royzelech or Jewish snowflakes, here.  There will be more videos soon on things you can make for Passover.

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windmill basket

I found a disappearing pinwheel block I’d never seen before on YouTube. It’s a basket! I made one and followed their suggestion to take a pinwheel from another block so that the “flower” on the basket would be a different color.

Since I’m on a basket theme, here’s an improvisational basket block I made recently. Here it is with the bias handle pinned on, ready to be stitched (by machine). It’s important to iron it after pinning it so that the fabric relaxes into the curved shape.


Here it is finished. In this photo it looks like ombre fabric, which would have been a great idea, but it’s not. I made a quilt with several baskets, a few years ago. You can see it here.

2 baskets on one block


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Hand applique pet portrait

The great thing about helping with EBHQ’s workshops is that I’m taking classes outside my comfort zone, that I wouldn’t ordinarily have signed up for. That’s how I found myself spending two days with Nancy Brown, hand appliqueing a portrait of Milkshake, our family’s guinea pig. Here is the photo I started from:

photo of Milkshake for portrait

I call this photo, “our curious morning ritual.” Almost every morning I weigh Milkshake, before feeding him his daily piece of carrot. Since guinea pigs are prey animals, it’s hard to tell when they are sick. (If a guinea pig acts sick or slows down, another animal might eat them). The two ways of telling when a guinea pig is sick is if they won’t eat a carrot, and if they are loosing weight. It’s also hard to tell if they are loosing weight without weighing them because they’re so fluffy. This is Milkshake in a Kleenex box, on top of our kitchen scale.

milkshake in progress

Here is the applique I spent two days working on. It’s still not finished. I need to add a table under the scale, and a background. I think I will use a button as an eye.

In the workshop, someone named Lynn was sitting across the table from me. The perfect black and white marbleized “fur” fabric came from her stash.

tracing paper Milkshake

This is tracing paper, with the pattern I drew over my photo. I simplified it as I went along. Some of those pieces were just too small!

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Hamsa class this Sunday!

I’m teaching my Hamsa class again this Sunday in Berkeley at the JCCEB, 1414 walnut St. Here’s a link to sign up:  There is still lots of room in the class, but enough have signed up so that it won’t be cancelled. You could even just show up on Sunday!

Here’s the blurb from the Lehrhaus catalog:


A hamsa is a stylized hand for protection against the “evil eye,” frequently worn as jewelry. Made by both Jews and Muslims, it is found all over the Middle East, but is older than either religion. Come learn about the folklore of hamsas and Jewish amulets, as we make them out of paper or fabric. The basics of paper-cutting, a traditional Jewish folk art, will also be taught. No artistic talent is required to make stunning hamsa designs. The finished papercut hamsa can be framed, to hang on the wall, and a fabric hamsa can become a wall hanging or a challah cover. Materials fee of $5 to instructor on the day of the class.


# Sessions
Date & time

Sunday March 4
2:00 – 5:00 pm

$36 for the public
$18 for members
Here’s the kind of hamsa you could learn how to make:
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