quilts, treadle sewing machines, crochet, watercolor, dogs, & other fun stuff

Sea Glass, String HSTs, and Magnifier

I’m back, and it hasn’t even been a month since the last entry!  😁

Nothing new is finished, but I have a few photos to share.

First up, here are the string blocks waiting to become HSTs.  I’ve made sure to use a wide strip in the center, since that’s where they’ll be cut in half.  

I’m not sure how many I need, because I’m not sure how big the quilt should be.  I’ll probably keep making at least a few more blocks, then sit down and do a little math to decide how many more are needed.  

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Speaking of doing a little math, earlier this week I calculated how many more crumb strips I need to make a decent-sized throw quilt.  (This is the project with the 3″x10″ strips of crumbs pieced onto phonebook foundation papers.)  

At that point, the project still needed nineteen strips, but I’ve been making more since then and probably need only about a dozen more.  However, I’m very low on crumbs now, so that’s temporarily on hold.  I usually get some crumbs when I trim down/square-up my string blocks, or if not, it will wait a bit longer.  Definitely no shortage of other things to work on in the meantime!  (No photos of this project, for this blog entry.)

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Well over a year ago (probably longer), while scrolling through Instagram, I saw an abstract wall-hanging someone had made using small scraps of fabric trimmed into organic, rounded shapes and appliqued onto a solid background.  They had then quilted over these shapes, and the whole thing had the look of pieces of sea glass scattered over sand– or maybe more “carefully arranged” than “scattered”.  
I took note (and a screenshot) and started collecting neutral and cool-colored crumbs large enough to use for my own sea glass mini quilt, but other things took precedence, so the sea glass crumbs just sat in a bag, waiting.  
Then, more recently, I came across a pattern in a quilting magazine using the same basic idea.  The main difference was that whereas the other person had used fusible stuff on the applique fabric before they cut out their sea glass shapes, this pattern designer just used applique glue (Elmer’s washable school glue will do just as well) to temporarily affix the “sea glass” before quilting.  

The glue method seems easier to me (not to mention cheaper)– and is in fact what I was already thinking of trying– but it’s good to have proof that it works.  There is a difference in the finished look, of course.  The fusible applique quilts have a neater, tidier edge, while the glued applique looks a little more raw and ragged.  I probably wouldn’t use it for a real quilt that will be used and washed a lot, but for a wall-hanging, it’s fine.  
Inspired anew, I promptly took out my scraps and started trimming them down into “sea glass”.  It was a lot more fun than I’d expected!  This is the perfect task to do while you listen to a podcast or audiobook.  The only problem is that I probably have enough now and should stop creating pleasingly rounded scraps of fabric… 😉 I probably won’t use them all, if only because some of them won’t have enough contrast with whatever background I select.  (I might make another one with a different background, if the first one’s a success.)  

I used a small pair of very sharp scissors that Donald gave me years ago.  This is a project where the quality of the scissors makes a big difference.  This wouldn’t be as pleasant of a project with larger or duller scissors.  The ones we have are Cutter Bee Precision Scissors from EK Success– though based on some reviews I’ve read, it sounds like the manufacturing location has changed from Taiwan to China, and the new version isn’t as good… There are still positive recent reviews, so maybe some people are just pickier than others.  
The next step is deciding on the size and fabric for the background and the arrangement of the “sea glass”.  It’ll probably be a while before I’m ready to move to that step.  I’d like to get a few other things done, first. 

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The last tidbit for this blog post is a product review.  

My eyes are getting older (along with the rest of me!) and I sometimes find it difficult to see as well as I used to, even with glasses.  At some point, I got fed up and decided to order an optivisor / headband magnifier.  

I was familiar with these products because Donald sometimes uses an optivisor for his figure-painting.  (He paints miniature figures.  Some people do this for gaming purposes; he mainly prefers more artistic figures.  He even prints some figures himself, using a 3-D printer and files.  There’s a booming business for people who do 3-D sculpts and sell the files for others to print at home.) 

Anyway!  He uses a magnifier for his painting hobby, and I’ve borrowed it a few times, but it seemed like time to get one of my own.  There are many, many options available today on Amazon (and elsewhere, but Amazon is so convenient…).  I chose one that had plenty of good reviews and was within my budget– $15 to $20.  (Didn’t want to spend too much on something I may not use that often.)  

Mine came with two ways to wear it– “arms” (like a pair of glasses) and an elastic headband (which is what I’m using– partly because I already wear glasses and partly because it feels more secure this way).  It has a set of five easily interchangeable lenses in different magnifications.  It also has a built-in LED light that can be recharged via USB.  (Please excuse how dusty the lens is in the photo above.  I left it sitting out for a while.  I should find a drawer for it, rather than leaving it out when it’s not being used.)

The verdict?  I did find it useful!  I’m not sure how long you can comfortably wear it, and maybe the more expensive ones would be better for people who need to use a magnifier for hours at a time, but this type has been sufficient for my needs, so far.  I’ve used it with thread crochet when I felt I needed a little extra help, and I’ve also used it for everyday problems where things have been difficult to see– such as when pulling out a splinter or trying to read the micro-text on my phone’s wall charger.  (My fast-charging adapter got struck by lightning and I wanted a replacement, but needed to know what the specifications were.)  

People also use this type of product for hand-stitching and other hobbies that require you to focus on tiny things.  It’s essentially just a magnifying glass, but you can use it hands-free and choose among a range of magnification strengths, and if you have one with built-in lights, that comes in handy, too.  I would recommend having one of these in your home, if you find yourself struggling to read things and need more help than simple reading glasses can provide.  

Well, that does it for today!  

I think it’s time to do some treadling and string-piecing!


I’m Michael (a female Michael, to remove any doubt).  I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast with my husband, Donald, and our crazy American Eskimo Dogs. 

I love to fill my spare time with various crafts and other hobbies, and this blog is where I share photos, record my progress, and ramble endlessly.

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