Showing posts with label Informative. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Informative. Show all posts

The more things change . . .

                        . . . the more they stay the same.

I bought two irons this month that were manufactured over 100 years apart and was intrigued by how similar they were in design. Both have a double point base, a rounded handle, and need to be placed on a heat source before ironing. The technology for each iron was vastly different, but the concept was the same.

I bought the older iron at my favourite antique shop. It's a Mrs. Potts Cold Handle Sad Iron. The "sad" in sad iron is from the Middle English word sad which meant solid or heavy. 

The second iron was a Panasonic Cordless 360° Freestyle™ Steam/Dry Iron. This iron is so similar to the Sad Iron I suspect the designers at Panasonic really knew their clothes iron history.

Mrs. Mary Florence Potts

Who is Mrs. Potts and What is a Sad Iron?

Mrs. Potts was born Mary Florence Webber in 1850 in Iowa, US. When she was 17 she married Joseph Potts who was a Civil War veteran 17 years her senior.

In 1871, at 19 years old, Mrs. Potts patented the Cold Handle Sad Iron changing the clothing iron industry forever and making her one of the most famous woman of her time. The wooden handle stayed cool for ironing and was detachable so that the user could keep several iron bases on the stove at one time then switch to a new hot iron when the first iron cooled.

The Sad Iron Kit

When Sad Irons came on the market in the late 1800s the Mrs. Potts Sad Iron Set sold for a whopping 0.70 cents! The set came with three iron bases, a detachable wooden handle, and a trivet. You could also buy the bases separately if you needed more.

Sad Irons were used well into the 1940s; mainly because some rural communities still didn't have electricity. The Sad Iron was manufactured until 1951.

Sad Iron Kit and Trading Card

Sad Iron Kit and Trade Card

Sad Iron Trading Cards

Trade cards were a very popular form of advertising in Victorian times and thousands were used to  advertise the Potts' Sad Iron. The cards were quite comical and sometimes quite racist.


I guess the message in this trading card is
"So easy a child can use it." Sure. What could go wrong?

GIRL: "Oh Ma! I want to stay home and iron, this new iron is so nice."
MOTHER: "What? Not gone to school yet. You'll catch it."


Not sure what the message is in this trading card.
Maybe the woman loves using her new Sad Iron so much
she's heating up the house with it? How much ironing does this woman have?!

HUSBAND: "Gracious! Do stop ironing. I am sweating fearfully just sitting here."
WIFE: "Well dear, you know I use those Mrs. Potts' Cold Handle Sad Irons
and I am just delighted with them."


This trade card suggests using the Sad Iron as a compress for a
child's stomach ache?! And it's racist AF!

WOMAN: "Ah Chile. Yous bin eatin' dem watermillyons. Come yere honey.
I'll just put dis ere Mrs. Potts' Iron to yer stomach. It retains
de heat and an will help yer. Dis season is bad for the chillum."

TOP 10 favourite things in my quilting studio

Like most of you, my studio had humble beginnings but, over time, evolved into a creative sanctuary. As in any good studio, there are special items that keep me inspired, grounded, and working efficiently. In no special order, these are the Top 10 things in my studio I would never part with.


This framed Quilting Arts magazine cover featuring one of my art quilts helps to remind me that hard work and perseverance can pay off and that even though I've created some epic fails, I've also created some beautiful work that others can appreciate.

In 2012 my art quilt Mother Ship was selected to be published for the Quilting Arts magazine Readers Challenge. I was even more excited when I was told my art was going to be on the front cover of the magazine. The Readers Challenge was to create an art quilt interpreting the phrase "What If." Being a UFO/alien buff, I wondered "What if I saw a UFO over my house?" and I created a piece with a UFO floating over a row of suburban homes. I named the piece "Mother Ship"



I used to use a TV table ironing board next to my sewing machine for small pressing jobs. However, I found it to be a real pain to move around when I didn't need it, and the legs would get caught in the electrical cords. So, I came up with a solution that works great for me. I took the legs off the ironing board and attached it to the wall with folding shelf brackets. It sits next to my sewing machine and is so convenient! When I don't need it I can fold it down out of the way and there are no legs getting tangled in the cords below.

I didn't make a tutorial for this project, but I found a helpful video on YouTube for attaching the table and brackets to the wall. If you want to give this project a try be sure to either hit a stud or use a strong screw anchor aka wall plug when attaching the folding bracket to drywall. I attached two boards to the wall and then attached the table brackets to these. There are many other options for making a folding wall table on Pinterest but I used folding brackets because I didn't want any obstructions under the table.

Folding Ironing Table | Detail


My husband is an intarsia artist and not long ago we put our heads together to make this sewing room decor project. I designed the pattern for the scissors and my husband put it together. 


This is another combined effort by my husband and me. Again, I designed the pattern and he built it. I think it turned out so cute! I am not sure if I'll be selling this pattern, but if I do I'll be sure to let you know. We used a small nail to represent the sewing machine needle and a vintage wooden spool cut in half for the thread. How cool is that?


This pretty little lampshade is so easy to make and a great way to use up your leftover fabric strips. I had the little lamp hanging around forever and wasn't quite sure what to do with it until I saw this project on Pinterest. (CAUTION: Regular incandescent bulbs can get quite hot and cause a fire hazard with all that fabric, so I used a 9W LED bulb).


My JUKI 2010TL-Q is my pride and joy. It's a real workhorse. This Juki has a powerful motor and a long neck which makes it perfect for my free-motion machine quilting.  You could sew through at least five layers of denim like butter with this thing, not that I'd do that but it's a testament to the power of this machine. It's also pretty low maintenance and very easy to use. I designed a wrap-around pin cushion for my machine (shown here) for my post on pin cushions last year. You can download the free pattern HERE.


I think this is the coolest thing I've ever bought for my studio. It's a vintage Singer sewing machine cut in half and turned into bookends. We purchased the lamp from Prairie Pickers just outside of Winnipeg. Greg, the seller, said he had a heck of a time cutting the machine but was very proud of it when it was done. He was happy to see it going to a good home.


I desperately needed a clean, dry place to keep my quilt batting and backing and thought an old dresser would do the trick. After some searching, I bought a rickety old mid-century vintage dresser for $40. With a few coats of paint and some stain, I turned it into this stylish storage dresser. This idea has freed up a lot of space in my studio!  

Update: Sold my dresser for $125! Used the $$ to buy Ikea shelving for my studio.


I came across this pin cushion project at Lovely Little Handmaids and knew I had to make one. I picked up a vintage planter at the flower shop and turned it into this adorable little pin cushion. Actually, it's so precious I'm afraid to use it in case it breaks. To keep it stable I glued stones to the bottom before adding the cushion. This gave it some needed weight and made it less tippy. You can get my tutorial for making your own vintage pot pin cushion HERE.


If you haven't guessed by now, I enjoy upcycling old stuff. I picked up this jewellery box at Goodwill for $5. It was originally stained a dark yucky brown but I saw it's potential as a box for my quilting odds and ends. As they say, it had good bones. It's the best way for me to keep all my notions in one place.

Quilting room storage: Revamped vintage dresser

This is a great storage idea that I wanted to share. I can't afford much for storage furniture so I normally have to think outside the box to furnish my sewing room. I picked this little mid-century modern dresser at a thrift store. I desperately needed more storage for my batting, backing and those miscellaneous things that needed a home.

I forgot to take the before picture but, basically, the original was sprayed in a dark stain and had super ugly drawer handles. After combing over ideas on Pinterest, I came up with this. I really love how it turned out. And I can keep an awful lot of stuff in these drawers.

Refurbished mid-century vintage dresser - image 1

UPDATE: June 2021
Dresser was sold for $150. I paid $40 for the
original so I made a $110 profit.😀
I used that $$ to buy IKEA shelving for my studio.

Sewing Machine Bookends: Cool quilting room décor

Last weekend hubby and I took a nice drive in the country to pick up these incredible vintage sewing machine bookends for my sewing room. Aren't these the coolest things you've ever seen? I first saw similar bookends on Pinterest, so I had my eye on these for a while after seeing them on a Facebook group. I was happy the artist, Greg at, still had the bookends when I finally texted him last week to buy them. They cost $100. I thought that was a very good deal considering all the work that went into them.

Vintage sewing machine bookends | Monica Curry's quilting studio.

The sewing machine is circa 1920s. Even the wooden bases are from an old sewing machine table. Greg told me he normally upcycles the bases of vintage sewing machines into tables. He said he's usually left with the machine when the table is finished. So, he decided to make something out of a machine because he didn't want to throw it out.

Vintage sewing machine bookends - detail 1

The set even came with some vintage wooden spools of thread. I would love to find more of these spools.

Vintage sewing machine bookends - detail 2

Halloween Decor 2017: Beautiful Halloween wreath

A couple of years ago I posted a Halloween floral arrangement that I made for my home. This year, I made a Halloween wreath for my front door. I turn 60 this October and I love Halloween, so I'm having a birthday/Halloween party for my big day. I wanted a pretty wreath on the door to greet my guests. I saw some beautiful wreaths on Pinterest with skulls and ghoulish stuff, but I wanted a floral wreath. Everything I used to make this wreath is from the dollar store. It cost about $15 to make which proves you don't need a lot of money to pretty up your home for Halloween.  Happy Halloween one and all!

Floral Halloween wreath by Monica Curry

New Job: Time to brush up on my time management skills

I haven't been able to post very much these days because I have a great new part-time job. Besides loving to quilt, I'm also a floral arranger. I love my job, but I'm now juggling my time between job, blogging, sewing, and housework. It's totally doable (I have no kiddies running around), but I really have to plan my time better for my sewing. I have a Halloween table runner on the design wall and on deck is a beautiful Christmas table topper.

Here are some of my floral design creations. It's been a long time since I did any floral work, but I'm starting to get the hang of it again, and I'm learning from some very talented designers at work.

happy face floral arrangement monica curry

basket floral arrangement monica curry

floral arrangement gerbera daisy monica curry

4 Quilting Apps You Can Not Live Without: 2016

UPDATED: June 06, 2021

Back when I first started quilting, I struggled with yardage calculations, resizing blocks and any other kind of quilting math. Everything was done manually back then. Most of the time I'd just wing it when it came to buying yardage, but that was risky. Resizing blocks was done with graph paper and pencil unless I had a magazine to give me the templates. I didn't even have a rotary cutter! Now technology is helping quilters with all this math stuff and I love it. Here are four quilting apps that will make your quilting a little easier.
"Master the math involved in quilting! Robert Kaufman Fabrics and Quilters Paradise have joined forces to bring you this updated collection of eight essential quilting calculators. Designed by quilters, the calculators work with both U.S. and metric measurements. With these tools you’ll easily and accurately work out how many rectangular pieces can be cut from a larger piece, or how much fabric is needed for backing, batting and borders, square-in-a-square, set-in and corner triangles."

I love this app because it does all the quilting math work for you, which is great for me because I'm pretty much math-challenged. It has several calculations, but my favorites are backing and batting measurements, binding yardage needed, and piece count (calculates the number of pieces you can cut from a larger piece of fabric).

2. Quilt Creator by Crochet Designs
"Create quilts using over 200 quilt blocks to select from. You can then change the colors in the blocks to get the look you want."

3. How Much Thread by Superior Threads (This app is no longer available)

4. Color Gear by Appsvek ($1.99)
"Color Gear is a handy professional tool that helps to create harmonious colour swatches. To find the perfect colour combination, designers and artists use colour theory and the basis of it: colour wheel and harmonies. You don't need to be a colour expert in order to use this app – Color Gear is a user friendly application suitable for beginners and pro. Perfect app for understanding colour theory and daily working with palettes. Works offline."

A new year begins: looking back, looking forward.

water lily monica curry

Well, a new year has begun. 2015 was full of positive changes, both for me personally and for our home. Personally, I overcame my lifelong battle with depression with top notch professional help and a lot of hard work. Our home has a new kitchen and our yard has a new pond. As of June 2016, we will have lived in our little house for 10 years, and we finally have it just the way we like it.

I started my quilting blog in 2015 and, after a number of changes, finally have it set up the way I like it. The setup took a lot of time away from my quilting, which is kind of ironic, but I have ideas for some great block and wall quilt designs for 2016. I can't wait to start posting them!

Happy New Year! I hope your 2016 is full of joy and love.

My new studio desk

I'm very proud of this little desk I created from a vintage sewing machine. I think the machine is circa 20s or 30s. I got it free from a friend of a friend, and it sat in my studio gathering dust for over a year until I finally had the time to make it useful. Some may think it's sacrilegious to hack a vintage machine like this, but it makes a great desk. I'm amazed at how much I could fit into those four little drawers.

Spirit Dancers Art Quilt

This is my art quilt Spirit Dancers. I created this piece for a local art show called Stone Age. It was the first art show I'd been in, so I was pretty excited. I think my piece was the only fabric art in the show.

I sold the piece quickly and then received a call from the gallery curator. Someone from Australia also wanted one before they flew back home. I then had to rush around to make a duplicate. I was lucky to still have some of the hand-dyed fabric I used.

Monica at the Stone Age art show with her fabric art Spirit Dancers