How to Sew a Tanning Organizer

When I go outside to soak up the sun, I never know what to do with all the stuff I want to have with me.  My cat likes to tan with me, and she also likes to chew on corners of things (like my phone), so I want to keep things out of her reach.  I used three towels to make an organizer that can drape over a chair.getting a tan

Materials Needed:

1 bath towel

2 hand towels

matching thread


sewing machine

What To Do:

Buy towels with edges that match or nearly match.  My hand towels were about 2 inches shorter than the bath towel was wide.  I decided that was close enough, and just made sure to center the hand towels as I pinned them on.  Another thing to keep in mind as you purchase the towels:  Kohl’s had some very nice plush towels on sale, so I bought those.  In hindsight, such thick towels were hard for my sewing machine to handle.  Using thin towels will make this project much easier.  You could also buy some terry cloth at a fabric store and cut the right size pieces, but if you use towels you won’t have to hem anything!towels

Pin one hand towel at each end, then sew along the bottom (the short side of the bath towel matched to the long side of the hand towel).  Remove the pins as you go.  Some machines have a pressure foot that can be raised a bit more than the standard “up” position, but mine is not one of those machines.  If you have a machine like mine, carefully wiggle the fabric into place as close to the edges of the towel as you can get.  You may not be able to sew all the way to an edge or into a corner, but don’t worry–your seams will hold.

After you sew along the bottom, sew up the short sides of the hand towels.  Again, just get as close to the edges as your machine allows.  Sew bottom and sides

I had to adjust the length on mine a little.  When I laid it out on the chair, the part that went over the seat was the perfect size, but the sides hung too low.  I pinned up the edges to the right length and created a row of small pockets in front of the main pockets.Front pocket

Next, sew the seams that will divide the hand towels into pockets.  I put two pockets on one side by sewing one seam down the middle.  On the other side, I sewed two seams to create three pockets.  If you are folding up the edges like I did, sew these seams with the edge folded up.  I sewed from the top of the pocket down, because that was the way my machine fed the fabric through the feed dogs the best.  Sew from the middle

Finally, sew up the sides of the short row of pockets in front, and trim any loose threads.

Load up the pockets with all your essentials, and catch some rays!Tanning Organizer

What’s Next?

I’m going on a long car ride, and I’m taking my yarn with me.  You never know what might happen!


4th of July Tablecloth


I found this pin on Pinterest, and thought I’d modify it a bit to make it my own.  Instead of bandanas, I bought pre-cut packages of patriotic fabric.  There were five pieces of fabric in each package.  The benefit to using regular fabric is that you can tailor the tablecloth to any occasion.  The benefit to using bandanas is that you don’t have to hem it.folded fabric

How to Make the Tablecoth

I ironed all of the fabric pieces first.  They were deeply creased from the packaging, and smooth fabric is so much easier to work with.  If the fabric is wrinkled when you start sewing, the finished product will probably always be a little wrinkled or lopsided.Iron the fabric

Then I laid out the pieces in the order I wanted and pinned them together to make two strips.Pin the pieces together

I used red thread and a 5/8 seam.5/8 seam

When you have the two strips sewn together, iron the seams so they are all going in the same direction.iron the seams

Pin the two strips together and sew them using a 5/8 seam.  Then iron the seam to one two strips together

If you’re not using bandanas, you will need to hem the edges.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to press the edge over a certain amount (using a hem gauge if you like) then double the pressed edge over on itself.  This creates a double-fold hem with no raw edges.hem gauge

I pressed and sewed the long sides first, then pressed and sewed the short sides.  I didn’t use pins because I like to live dangerously.  Seriously, if you have a nice crisp line from the iron, you can probably manage without pins.  However, if this is your first sewing project ever, use pins!double fold hem


Now all you have to do is throw a party to show off your creation!finished tablecloth

What’s Next?

Kohl’s had towels on sale, so I bought some supplies to make a tanning organizer.

Quilting vs. Piecing

Double Wedding Ring QuiltsThis weekend I went to the annual quilt show in Greenville, IL, sponsored by the Bond County Historical Society. My mother’s family farm is in Greenville, and my family has 40 or so quilts, so this weekend was a perfect fit!





Featured QuilterSunbonnet Sue

Oleta Schaufelberger was this year’s featured quilter, and she had quite a display! Every item in her exhibit was pieced and quilted by hand. She had several large “Double Wedding Ring” quilts. My favorite of her quilts was a variation of a “Sunbonnet Sue” pattern, made with fabric from dresses worn by three generations of women in her family. Each of the dresses in the pattern was different.

Basic Quilting Terminology

There were four categories of quilts at this show: hand quilted, machine quilted, antique, and wall/display and baby quilts. Within these categories, a quilt can either be embroidered or pieced.

  • Piecing is the art of cutting shapes from fabric and stitching them together to form a pattern. Often, a quilter pieces the pattern into smaller blocks, then stitches the blocks together.
  • Quilting is the process of sewing the pieced quilt top to the backing fabric, with quilt batting sandwiched in between. Many quilters like to incorporate designs into the quilting stitches.
  • A hand quilt is one that has been pieced and quilted using hand sewing. I once read that women used to strive for 12 stitches per inch when they were hand quilting.
  • A machine quilt is one that has been pieced and quilted using a sewing machine. When looked at closely, hand and machine quilts look very different. Machine quilts have tighter, smaller, more uniform stitches.
  • An embroidered quilt uses blocks of fabric that have been embroidered rather than pieced with intricate designs. Embroidered quilts can have some piecework, as the blocks are pieced together and there is often a pieced border, but some embroidered quilts are made from one large piece of fabric.

Hoiles-Davis Historical MuseumOther Historical Greenville Locations

Hoiles-Davis Historical Museum:  See a couch Abraham Lincoln sat on, as well as some other Greenville history.

One-Room School Museum: A beautifully restored one-room school house that has been moved to the middle of Greenville from its original country location.

American Farm Heritage Museum:  Home to farming artifacts and festivals, this museum is also working on reconstructing a War of 1812 era fort.

What’s Next?

I might try my hand at the tiny crochet my great-grandmother liked.  I bought a very old book of crochet patterns of doilies and edgings from a vendor at the quilt show, and my mom has a box of Great-Grandma’s old hooks and thread somewhere.