Thursday, March 31, 2011


It was so exciting yesterday to be interviewed on Mark Lipinski's Creative Mojo show on Toginet Internet Radio. Mark's show is downloadable from iTunes, so I grabbed all of the past shows I could fit onto my iPhone. My little segment was fewer than 10 minutes long, and I didn't get a chance to talk with his psychic co-host, Silvia Rossi. I would have like to know a few things about my future.

There was one particularly awkward moment in the show yesterday that I would like to clear up. Mark stumped me with his question about the Spooler storage system from Blue Feather Products. He said the name aloud and even told me the page number on which it's featured in my book, but I was still clueless about exactly what he was referring to. I have to admit that my publisher selected that product for the book, so I had been unfamiliar with it--until now. Rats.

As soon as my interview was finished, I researched the Spooler. I came to find that I really like the idea of this little device. In fact, its inventor has applied for a patent. What I think is most useful is that the 12 spindles along this rack are repositionable, allowing you to slide the spindles into various positions to accommodate different spool diameters. The tip of each spindle has a slit into which you can press the loose end of thread from the bobbin. What I don't quite understand is exactly how the bobbins stay in place. I'm also questioning the orientation of the photo included on page 64 of my book because I think the Spooler is correctly installed when it is in a vertical position with the spindles facing outward. Nonetheless, I have included here (for grins and giggles) excerpts from the Spooler storage system patent application filed by inventor Feather W. King of Tiburon, California.

"A thread spool holding device, elongated spindle stem extending from the head and configured and sized to compress when a thread spool is pushed over the spindle such that the spindle stem extends into a central cylindrical opening of the thread spool, so that the thread spool becomes gripped on the spindle stem...[and] wherein the thread retention feature comprises a slit in the end of the spindle, for receiving a thread pulled down into the slit, the slit being at the bottom of a notch in the end of the spindle, and wherein the spindle stem has a deformable U-shaped cross section, and including a second notch formed in one side of the U-shaped spindle stem, near the end to receive and guide the thread end on its way to the slit."

Got that? Wow, now that's a tough read. If you already own and use the Spooler storage system from Blue Feather products, please reply to this post and let us know what you think of it.

My thanks to Mark and his production team for inviting me on to Creative Mojo. May there always be a connecting tunnel from Totally Tidy to Pickle Road.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Customers Versus The Organizer

It was probably no coincidence that yesterday was National Quilting Day, and I spent the day at 35th Avenue Sew n Vac at 35th/Northern in Phoenix for their Black Bag event. What fun Black Bag day is there. The store had cookies, games and discounts, and dozens of shoppers poured through the doors all day long.

The store gave me a prominent booth next to the front door where I had an activity for shoppers to select their top 5 organizing tools from among 10 tagged items on the table. I tallied the results and am amazed to find that no one had exactly the same top 5 selections as me. The following shoppers matched four of my five selections: Linda O., Kim U., Frances M., Cecile D., Judy O'., Marjorie, Wanda S., Ruth H., Diane M. and Roberta H.

Of the 10 items displayed, I chose:
1. My book (so that you can reference new ideas for how and when to use these products)
2. ArtBin Super Satchel Deluxe project case (although I much prefer the 12x12" size)
3. Blue Feather's BobbinSaver
4. Sewline's Gift Set with Case
5. Gypsy's Bitty Buddy Thread Catcher

My selections matched the overall top vote-getters in all but one case. The item that shoppers selected among their top five items that didn't match mine was Collins' Daisy Spool Pin Cushion. Note that Collins also makes a longer version that fits a bobbin and a king spool.

I think that the Gypsy Bitty Buddy Thread Catcher has a lot more potential than just as a mini trash can. Because it is collapsible, it's very flexible and can be used as a temporary holder for most anything.

While I was at the shop, I took a few minutes to browse and see what other organizing wonders I might find. In honor of National Quilting Day, I hereby declare this product as my National Quilting Day product-of-the-day. It is the Puzzlemat from Cottage Mills. These 12"x12" squares piece together to turn any surface into an instant cutting surface. I found the whole set of six squares to be rather heavy, but I can picture slipping one or two mats into your to-go kit and being able to create a cutting surface in a jiffy. Or keep one square next to you when you have small piecing projects.

I suspect that the Puzzlemat will still give you some uneven points at the joins, so I'm interested to know who uses this product already and can share their opinion. Select Reply to this post.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tables for Traveling

I spent yesterday at the Arizona Quilters Guild annual quilt show at the Mesa Convention Center. The show organizers were extremely accommodating and let me stand at the literature table to show off my new book. Although I didn't sell the book as I had planned, a genuine mix-up in my participation in the show required some quick thinking. And the literature table turned out to be a good place to be after all. Quilters came by the table the whole day, so everyone got to hear from me about all of the various guild events, plus my book launch party.

Yes, the book launch party is set. It will be 4-6 pm on April 16, 2011 at The Quilted Apple at 24th/Thomas in Phoenix. The owner of The Quilted Apple has been more than accommodating in making arrangements for the party. And truth be told, it's the first book launch party for both of us. We'll be experimenting together. The party is to recognize my contributors and to take the mystery out of quilting for my friends. Regular patrons of The Quilted Apple and interested book readers alike are welcome to attend the book launch party.

It was uncanny that the two organizing ideas I walked away with yesterday from the show were both about travel tables. First, a quilter chatted with me about the wonderful "Sew EZ" travel table she bought a year ago but now needs a different acrylic insert for her new machine. I Googled twice after she left and then hit upon the exact table she was telling me about. It's at If you use the SewEzi portable sewing table, reply to this post and tell us how you like it. The manufacturer says it weighs 23 pounds, which still sounds a little heavy to me. Perhaps that's what you pay for to get this amount of workspace, which measures 35" x 19".

The, the second idea came from my friend Verna of VJ's Creative Designs in Green Valley, Arizona. Verna sells a kit to make a heat-resistant pressing surface on top of a tv tray. Yes, the modern-ish, wooden kind of tv tray. Verna's kit is just $8 and includes a photo print (pictured), heat-resistant fabric and pattern. For an extra $7, Verna can include a fun fabric for the borders. How much more portable can you get than to have a tv tray pressing table?

Take it as a sign, gals. My underlying message is for you to sign up for a class, to go to a retreat or to sew at a friend's. Whatever you choose, get organized and equipped to take my advice and go portable.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Corraling Tools on Your Sewing Table

I saw this Handy Caddy recently, and it's one of the best tabletop caddies I have ever seen. Do you have any idea why? Take a guess.

The product is made by a entrepreneur Sharon Lee in San Mateo, California. Are you still guessing?

The caddy pictured is the smaller of the two versions Sharon is currently selling on Here's the reason why I love it.


With six side pockets, you can keep your most essential tabletop tools close at hand without even losing sight of them. It has plenty of room for your rotary cutters, seam ripper, marking pencils, scissors and more. Just be sure not to fill it up with less useful stuff (i.e. clutter). You aren't going to lose your things at the bottom of this tote like you would inside a dark coffee can or other opaque container. The larger version has eight pockets and an extended length to accommodate knitting needles, and both versions have a matching vinyl tote bag available to help make your caddy even more portable.

Besides the center storage compartment probably needing one or two more dividers across it, the only negative I can see about this caddy is that all of the dust will show. So as this caddy gets dusty, you'll want to restore it back to its clear and shiny state for the best view.
If you own one of these Handy Caddies, reply and let us know if it's a good as I think it is.