From My Carolina Home

Quilting, cooking, reading books, gardening, crafting, sewing, photography and more


Late June Garden 2015

Last Sunday was a wonderful mountain living day, as the temperature cooled to the mid-60s overnight, and I opened every window in the house for a good airing early in the morning.  It was cool all day, with a nice breeze to flush out the stale air in the house. Lovely and quiet, gentle wind in the trees ruffling the leaves, and the occasional haunting call of a blue jay in the distance, it was a day to relax and enjoy. Flowers continue to bloom in the garden, both on the veranda and on the mountainside.  These rhododendrons bloom late due to the reduced sunlight from all the trees.  They are a lovely pure white.  I can’t get any closer to them because of the poison ivy, so will just admire from here.

White Rhododendrons - 1

White Rhododendrons - 2

Right next to them are the pale pink rhododendrons.

Pink Rhododendrons

Out front, the hostas have come into bloom around the huge oak.

Hostas 9

Hostas 10

Hostas 8

My hydrangea doesn’t look like it will bloom this year either.  Disappointing because those big flowers are so pretty.

Hydrangea no blooms 2015

Looks like I might get some squash this year.


I am happy to find that two of the tomato plants I started from seed are actually getting good size.

Tomato June 2015

The strawberry plants are setting fruit, but I have a feeling the squirrel will get them before I can.

Strawberry June 2015

The torenias are getting huge, and trailing nicely. The hummingbirds stop by regularly, but they are always gone by the time I grab the camera.

Torenia June 2015 - 5

Torenia June 2015 - 4

Torenia June 2015 - 3

The candy pink daylily finally decided to bloom.

Candy Pink Day Lily

The other daylilies are still going beautifully.

Day Lily June 2015 peach

Day Lily June 2015 peach yellow ruffled

Day Lily June 2015 purple

Day Lily June 2015 red yellow

If you are reading this on an email or reader, stop by the blog and see the new summer header photo. How is your garden doing?



Disappearing Nine Patch Variation – Stacked Bricks

Who says a quilt block has to be square?  I was looking at the Disappearing Nine Patch block again, with the idea of making another of my own Variation in pastels, when it occurred to me that there could be another possibility.  What if another square was added? The result would be a brick shape, and may be interesting.

Stacked Bricks finish 4

I started in the usual manner, constructing a nine patch block using 5 inch squares.

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 2

I slashed it in both directions through the middle.

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 3

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 5

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 6

I rotated the upper left and bottom right sections per the usual manner.

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 7

Then I set out the top two and bottom two together, keeping the side to be sewn on the right. I made four blocks at once.

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 9

Chain piecing per usual.

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 10

I set out the top and bottom sections together, with the four stacked on top of each other.

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 12

Then I cut eight 7-inch squares out of yellow fabric.

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 11

I offset the top to the right and the bottom to the left, and place the yellow squares in the spaces created.

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 13

They were sewn together.

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 14

I set the bricks together, and it made a small quilt with just four. I think this could be very interesting with a large print for the square tiles, and lots more bricks.

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 16

This size was good for a lap quilt, so I added a border in cream.

Disappearing Nine Patch Tiles - 17

Then it was loaded on the quilting frame.   A bow pantograph quilting design was stitched on it.

New D9P tiles quilting 2

Sweet, isn’t it? I don’t often get a chance to use this pantograph.

D9P Tiles bow quilting close

Finished and bound!

D9P Tiles Finished

I’ll have to show it around a bit before it gets donated.

Stacked Bricks finish 3

It was so easy and fast, I really should make several more. These would make nice lap quilts for the veterans, or people in nursing homes. They are just the right size for wheelchair use.

Stacked Bricks finish 2

Click on My Craftsy Patterns to get a free downloadable pattern for Stacked Bricks.  I hope you will take a look at my other patterns while you are there too.  And, to see another one of my design with a directional print, click HERE.

If you are visiting from Fave Quilts, please stay a bit and have a look around, my tutorials are gathered at the top in pages to make them easy to find.  Lots of fun is had here!  My blog is a variety of subjects, quilting and sewing, tablescapes and recipes, book reviews and hand stitching, crafting and mountain living. I love to have new followers, too!  See the buttons on the sidebar to follow by your favorite method.  My third mystery quilt is in progress, click on Scrap Dance Two Step on the sidebar for the first post.  Click on the Home page to see the latest posts on the blog.

Are you doing any charity quilting now?


Car Club Drive and Mary Alice’s Garden

Saturday was another perfect day to get together with friends and drive these beautiful mountain roads.  We gathered in the parking lot at the new Asheville Outlets.

BCC June 2015 Drive - 1


Driving into old Asheville, we encountered tree lined streets with arbor-like avenues.
BCC June 2015 Drive - 3

BCC June 2015 Drive - 4

Going up one of the mountains to the east, we stopped to see a beautiful view of downtown Asheville in the French Broad River valley, with the Pisgah mountain range in the background.


We ended up at a club member’s home for a lunch of sandwiches and chips with fabulous homemade desserts.

BCC June 2015 Drive - 7



Mary Alice is a certified Master Gardener, and I thought you ‘d enjoy seeing her garden.

Mary Alice's Garden - 12

Mary Alice's Garden - 11

Mary Alice's Garden - 10

Her patio and gazebo are also dotted with potted plants and lots of flowers.

Mary Alice's Garden - 8

Mary Alice's Garden - 7

Someday, I am hoping my veranda looks this good!

Mary Alice's Garden - 6

Flowers spill out of containers all over the place.

Mary Alice's Garden - 5

Mary Alice's Garden - 4

Terry apparently has too much time on his hands, and built this two level treehouse for the grandkids.  For scale, the table and chairs are real adult size (not miniatures).  I took the picture from some distance away. The treehouse is huge, and yes, those are real branches coming out of the side.  It is about 12 feet up to the first level.


It features old stained glass windows, and lots of handcrafted woodwork.

Treehouse 4

Treehouse 3

They also have a gravity flow fountain in their creek.

Ramsay's Fountain

Gorgeous property. I want one of these greenhouses.  Don’t you love those old stained glass windows she has hung in her greenhouse?

Mary Alice's Garden - 2

And her hydrangeas are blooming! Mine are not.

Mary Alice's Garden - Hydrangea

Such a pretty garden, and it takes her a couple of hours a week to keep the weeds out!

Mary Alice's Garden - 1

Did you do something fun this weekend?



Book Review – Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

A delightful book with just a touch of magic, as a woman comes to life again after the death of her husband. Kate has been ‘asleep’ for a year and allowed her controlling mother-in-law to take over her and her daughter Devin’s lives.  On the morning movers are to come to move them out of their home and in with her mother-in-law, Kate has ‘come awake’.  She makes a decision to give Devin one last escape, one little trip before she is locked into private schools and uniforms.

Lost Lake

They drive to Lost Lake, almost missing the turn, but are stopped by an alligator in the road.  But, there are no alligators in this part of Georgia.  Here is a hint of the magic, that Kate is helped to see what she needs to see.

Lost Lake Sarah Addison Allen

Visiting her great-aunt Eby at her run-down summer camp, she encounters a long lost friend, someone she knew when she spent her summer here with her mother many years ago.  Things are not always as they seem, however, and there is more magic here than anyone knows.

Lost Lake

This is a fun easy reading book that I devoured in just one day. I just couldn’t put it down!  I seem to do that with all Sarah Addison Allen’s books.  She is a local writer, living in Asheville.  Originally I picked up The Peach Keeper because of her local roots.  Now  I am just a huge fan.  I’ll be looking at the book sale for the latest publication from this imaginative writer, First Frost, a sequel to her wonderful book Garden Spells.

Are you a Sarah Addison Allen fan?  What are you reading now?



Elongated Star Block Using the Tri Recs Rulers

Sometimes you look at buying a ruler set and wonder if you will ever make more than one quilt with it.  No affiliation here, but I really like the Tri Recs ruler set that makes an elongated star.  My local quilt shop had the rulers, and I saw a demo there.   I have done several quilts and projects with it, and I’ll probably do more. Here is a candle mat with just one block, with squares added to the corners.  This was also my first attempt at stippling free motion quilting on my domestic machine.  I used Aurifil thread for this one.


So you can see how easy this is, here is the basic instruction using the rulers.  There are also templates available all over the internet.  Once you get the star point units done, it is a basic nine-patch.  Start with cutting your triangles using the angle rulers. I want the finished block to be 12 inches, so I use a 4-1/2 measurement for the Tri Rec units.


Note that you need a right and left red triangle. I put my fabric right sides together and cut two at once.


Place the red unit on top of the white one, right sides together. Note that the cut off point fits neatly on the angle showing you just where to sew.


Sew with a quarter-inch seam allowance. A quarter-inch foot comes in handy here.


Press the red outward with the seam allowance under the red.


Repeat for the other side.


I like to do them chain style with all the right sides at once, then all the left so I don’t get mixed up. By now you know that I am a big fan of laying things out multiple times to be sure you are doing it right. Saves a lot of frogging!


Cut 4-1/2 inch squares of fabric, one red for the center and four white for the corners. Multiply by the number of blocks you want to make.  Sew in rows, press the seam allowances to the left on the top and bottom rows, and to the right on the middle row so the seams will nest.  On this project, I used plain background squares for the corners.  It became the Patriotic Table Runner with the addition of some plain print blocks.


Here is the allover print TriRecs star without the cornerstones shown in the candlemat, quilted in the table runner. Both looks are interesting.  The variegated thread is from Superior.


Here’s another quilt I made, this time adding some yellow squares to the purple stars, and adding the same yellow to the sashing as cornerstones.  The center of this block is a pinwheel, so the star pinwheels through the center.  Note that the right and left points on the star are different, the left is black while the right is purple, so it matches up with the center pinwheel.  This adds a lot of movement to the quilt design. (The candlemat above is a pinwheel too.)  This quilt is well loved and has been washed a few times for that old-timey look.  It is wonderfully soft to cuddle under on a chilly evening.


Do you have a ruler set you use over and over?

Want to try Aurifil Threads? Get spools and cones at Fat Quarter Shop Aurifil Threads. Be sure to see all 17 pages, there are a few of the collections on sale, and special pricing on bundles of fabrics with Aurifil threads.

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Psst – Fat Quarter Shop’s Notion of the Month is Stabilizer!

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Val’s Tuesday Archives

Fabric Tuesday



Shopping and Sewing with a Purpose

It has gone way past the time I should have flipped my closet to warmer weather clothing.  I have been pulling things out from under dry cleaner bags for almost two months now.   The winter sweaters were still occupying the prime real estate in the closet, making it a pain to get dressed for work in the morning.  Thanks to fellow blogger Kathy in Ozarks, who was talking about cleaning her closet this week, I finally got to it. She posed the question, do you have clothes you just cannot part with? Apparently, I do!  Last winter I did a post on how to analyze your wardrobe, so I put those principles into practice again with the summer clothes.

Closet 10

Pulling out the summer stuff, there wasn’t that much actually. Summer isn’t my favorite time of year, I really hate the heat.  Still, I found a few things that could go to the Humane Society thrift store to make room for something new.  I took a good look at what I was keeping and decided on some rules for shopping.

1. No more black, it is summer for crying out loud, yet the stores are full of black.
2. No solid color tops, this wardrobe desperately needs prints, find at least two.
3. Find a short sleeve, lightweight, not-bolero-style shrug to go over the sleeveless shells for work.
4. Buy only what can be worn at least two other items.
5. Buy only what will go with what I already own.
6. Buy only what fits now, not what might fit 10 pounds from now.
7. Look for new lingerie.

Sleeveless shells

Did I mention that I am a Macy’s freak, and it was the day of their One Day Sale? I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, and today was a good day to use it. It takes an hour to drive to Macy’s in South Carolina, but it is worth it to me. I never take anyone with me shopping, as I don’t know another soul that can spend four hours in one store, trying on different things. And I didn’t even go to the shoe or accessories departments!

Believe it or not, targeted shopping with specific goals makes shopping easier. I am not distracted by the other pretties, OK maybe for a few minutes, but I stayed true to the plan. Only things that fit the rules went to the dressing room. I tried on probably 30-35 things, and came home with four.  All were on sale, the light green t-shirt was 80% off!

Shopping With A Purpose at From My Carolina Home

Nothing is black, the polka dot is navy. The two tops are prints. The white crochet shrug is goal #3. The polka dot can be worn with the white shrug or a red one I already have.  I actually am amazed that the crocheted look is still current.  I was hoping for something a bit different, like a cotton short sleeve cropped shirt that could be used as a jacket.

Shopping With A Purpose at From My Carolina Home

The pink floral, short sleeve, cotton sweater has a cute print, is lightweight, and goes with three of my solid color sleeveless shell tops so it also fits #3.

Shopping With A Purpose at From My Carolina Home

The T-shirt was just too cute, and can be worn with shorts or jeans, alone or under a sweater.

Shopping With A Purpose at From My Carolina Home

DH will be pleased to find out that the balance of the gift card went to new lingerie, all on sale, goal #7 achieved.

So how does this relate to sewing?  The rules can still apply for no black, more prints, and choosing a pattern that will be versatile.  I still need more prints in my closet, so I will look for a cute pattern and sew these rayons into tops for work.  I could also make a lightweight cotton jacket to go over those shells that might be more of what I am looking for.


Thanks, Kathy, for inspiring me to get off my duff and get the summer wardrobe in better shape.

Do you shop and sew with a purpose or rules?



Pfixing the Pfaff

Last year, I did a post on Care of Your Older Sewing Machine, where I took apart several machines and went through how to clean and oil them yourself to save money.  Older machines, out of warranty, are easy to clean and this usually solves most stitch problems too.  A small stray thread can create all kinds of problems!  Unplug the machine before you start.

Pfaff machine

One thing that stymied me last year was getting the cover off my Pfaff 7550, which was running rough and skipping stitches.  I knew there had to be some trick to it, but I didn’t know what that was.  Thanks to Karen, a fellow Pfaff owner who recently came across the other article and emailed me, I now figured out all the steps to getting the covers off.  Karen said ‘after you flip up the lid and remove it…”, ah what?  That was the part I was stymied by!  The screws were obvious, but the cover wouldn’t budge with the flip lid in place.

Pfaff open

The clips seem to indicate that you move the flip lid towards the front of the machine but that didn’t work.  I didn’t want to break the lid, so I left it.

Pfixing the Pfaff 1

No amount of searching told me how to remove that flip lid.  But if Karen went by it that fast, it must be something reasonably easy. So I went back to it again, with a little more daring.   I looked again, tried this and it worked. Push the clip towards the left with your thumb, and the little pin will disengage.

Pfixing the Pfaff 2

Then lift the lid off.

Pfixing the Pfaff 3

Move the bobbin winder to the right.

Pfaff bobbin winder shift

Remove the two screws.  Do not remove the screw holding the bobbin check in place, it isn’t necessary and is a pain to get back in the right place.

Pfixing the Pfaff 4

Raise the handle.

Pfixing the Pfaff 5

Lift off the under cover.

Pfixing the Pfaff 6

Pfaff cleaning 2

Here are my tools for servicing a sewing machine.  Several screwdrivers, three flat and one Phillips head, a tiny bottle brush, a nylon stiff bristle brush, several kinds of tweezers, canned air, sewing machine oil. and (not pictured) blue gear grease.  New needles are good too.


Now, remove the needle and the presser foot.  Raise the presser bar.

Pfixing the Pfaff 10

Take out the bobbin case.  This will allow us to move the gears without damaging the bobbin case or the presser bar.  Blow out the bobbin case with air, remove any stray threads, and put a drop of oil on the mechanism where the parts slide over each other, keeping it out of the area where the bobbin sits.   Remove the throat plate to get to this area easier.  Clean out the area around the feed dogs.

Pfaff bobbin out

Back up top, look around for any obvious threads, and there was a big one here.

Pfaff cleaning 5

It was wrapped around one of the moving mechanisms, and deep in the workings.  I used a hemostat to clamp onto the thread and gently pull while moving the hand crank to loosen it and pull it out.

Pfaff cleaning 1

Pfixing the Pfaff 7

The thread must have been there for some time, it broke twice while trying to remove it.   I was able to pull some out, but there was a big loop left.  Eventually, I did get all of it.   Look for more fuzz and crud on the other moving parts and clean them.

Pfaff cleaning 7

Now look for gears and moving parts by rocking the hand crank back and forth.  They need to be cleaned off, and regreased or oiled.  All those spots where there are parts moving against each other need lubrication.  The hole between the orange circles is a receptor for the screw, it doesn’t allow oil to get to the piston. It won’t hurt anything if you put some oil in there, it just won’t do anything.

Pfaff cleaning 3

Pfixing the Pfaff 25

Clean off the rods, oil the parts that move.  There will likely be gunk in lots of places, so use a tiny bottle brush, and a nylon brush to get out the crud.  Moving the hand crank will show you this piston moving along its bar.

Pfixing the Pfaff 14

Pfixing the Pfaff 15

One caveat, do not get any oil on the belt from the motor to the first gear. That will cause the belt to slip and your machine will run but not make stitches. If you think you got oil on it, turn the hand crank while you thread a paper towel under the belt to soak up any oil. Look around for any other gears or moving parts, remembering to stay away from the motor belt.

Pfaff cleaning 4

Also, keep the oil off the electronic boards.

Pfixing the Pfaff 12

Using a six pointed metric allen wrench, take out the side cover screw. (Update, this screw is a Torx screw, mine is stripped so it looks like an allen screw.  See comments below.)  Be careful to use the right tool (update -a star screwdriver would be best), it isn’t a Phillips head and you can strip the points if you aren’t careful.  Be aware it may be metric and not US sizing.  Just another way that Pfaff wants to keep you out of the machine.  I removed it, but actually all you need to do is loosen it for the plate to slide off. (I replaced it later with a Phillips head screw).

Pfixing the Pfaff 11

I borrowed this set up from DH’s garage.

Pfixing the Pfaff 22

Pfixing the Pfaff 23

If you have removed this screw with a Phillips, and you don’t have metric allen wrenches, replace the screw with a Phillips head for the next time you need to remove it. Take the side cover off.

Pfixing the Pfaff 21

Clean the schmutz out here too, and then lubricate the gears and pistons in this area as well.

Pfixing the Pfaff 24

Now, look at the batteries. Just lay the machine on its back, and take the battery cover off.

Pfaff bottom

Oh, heavens!  Maybe this is why the screen keeps changing back to German.

Pfixing the Pfaff 18

Pfixing the Pfaff 19

Change the batteries if they are corroded.  Replace the cover and set the machine back up.

Pfixing the Pfaff 20

When you think you have all of it oiled, plug in the machine and turn it on.  Step lightly on the foot control to listen to it work.  If it sounds smooth, increase the speed.  If you hear a clunking noise, or a squealing, there is something you missed with the oil or grease.  Go back to the hand crank and follow all the moving parts to figure out where the noise is coming from.  Inspect it carefully and remove any gunk, then oil.  Then go back to the foot control, and increase the speed until you are pedal to the floor and the machine is running at its highest speed.  Don’t worry, this won’t hurt it, but it will be sure that all the oil is distributed.  If all sounds good, wipe off any excess oil inside and out so it won’t collect dust and become gunk in the future. Then, turn the machine off, replace the covers, place a paper towel under the presser bar, and let it sit for a day to allow any excess oil to drain out.

Pfixing the Pfaff 16

Replace the presser foot, insert a new needle, put the bobbin back in and you are ready to go.  When you are done, thread it with different colors of thread in the top and bobbin and check your stitches.  You can adjust the tensions to create perfect stitches if you know which one is the problem.


So, don’t be afraid to open up that out-of-warranty Pfaff machine and take a look.  That noise you hear, or the rough running is might be a bit of crud on a gear or a rod, a stray thread, or something else that you can easily take care of yourself.

Thank you for reading and commenting!

My blog is a variety of subjects, quilting and sewing, tablescapes and recipes, book reviews and hand stitching, crafting and mountain living. I love to have new followers, too!  See the buttons on the sidebar to follow by your favorite method.  If you are visiting from Fave Quilts, Pinterest, a blog hop or link up, please stay a bit and have a look around, my tutorials are gathered at the top in pages to make them easy to find.  Lots of fun is had here, and I invite you to follow with any of your favorite methods, see the sidebar for ways to follow.  My fourth mystery quilt is in progress for 2018, click on Scrap Dance Square Dance on the sidebar for the first post.  Click on the Home page to see the latest posts on the blog, or any of the categories to see tutorials, projects, recipes and more.  Thank you for visiting!

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