The term “ort” originally meant a scrap of leftover food, but I’ve long heard the term applied to the ends of thread one snips off and generally discards from a sewing project. Some say ORT stands for “old ratty threads,” and I like the way the word works in both contexts at once. Wordnerd over here. Geeking out over language.

I’m not sure when I first discovered ORT jars, possibly on Hugs Are Fun! when she started posting photos of hers along with Daffycat’s TUSAL. In any case, I think they’re a lovely way to keep your bits of thread. They’re like an art project that shows a timeline of your stitching, and, of course, they also appeal to my hoarder tendencies. So when I visited my mom earlier in the week and noticed she had a tall glass pickle jar sitting on the kitchen counter, the first thing I thought was that it would make a great ORT jar.

ort jar 3

Also, I love that my mom had run this jar through the dishwasher and cleaned it up, not because she had any specific purpose in mind for it, but because it was a nice jar, and it “seemed like a shame to throw away such a nice jar.” I concurred. And I took that jar home and gave it a place on my sewing table. (After I took some pretty pictures of it outside, because the light is better outside.)

ort jar 2

Mom thinks it will take forever to fill the jar with ort, and I think she underestimates how much stitching I do. Up to this point, I’ve been throwing my bits and ends in the trash, admittedly only after piling them on the corner of the coffee table or the arm of the couch, or after dropping them on the floor and tracking them about the house for days. I’m not the persnickety-est housekeeper. (Which is  really just another way to say I’m a total slob while still practicing self-compassion.) Sometimes when I stitch outside, I’ll just throw the bits in the grass, thinking they’ll pretty up some bird’s nest nicely. YOU’RE WELCOME, birds!

So here are the first tiny bits to grace the jar.

ort jar

I’m sure they won’t be lonely long.

What do you do with your ort? Save or toss? And do you throw out nice jars, or find new uses for them? 🙂


Stupid Proud of Myself Because I Sewed Something I Actually Like

I finally unpacked and organized enough to create a space in my bedroom for sewing, so on Tuesday I started cutting into some of my favorite fabrics and making a bag. I’ve had my eye on this pattern by Faith of Fresh Lemons probably since she posted it in 2012, so it’s about damn time I got around to trying it. Honestly, I’m not great at machine sewing; I’m definitely still a beginner, and I have very little confidence in my skills, so I wasn’t at all sure that I could pull this together. But I had the entire house to myself, plenty of time, and no excuses for not trying. (Besides that, my friend Jen recently started cutting up her fabric stash to prep for making fabulous things, and there is just no way I’m going to let her outdo me. Umm..except when it comes to that whole triathlon thing she’s training for. You got me there, Jen. No contest. ;))


So, I have to report that not only is the pattern for this awesome bag FREE, it’s also pretty great for beginners. I had to revisit some YouTube videos to figure out how to use my rotary cutter to get straight lines whilst NOT cutting any of my fingers off, so when I say I’m a beginner, you can trust me. There are a couple of darts, but they were easy peasy, and I was pretty proud of myself.


The instructions were clear and easy to follow. I decided to rearrange some of the strips after I cut them, so I didn’t follow the pattern just exactly, but pretty close. In addition to be super do-able for a beginner, this bag is also something I’ll actually use when I finish, so that’s a lovely thing. 🙂

In true Rachel form, however, I didn’t pay close attention to how much fabric I needed. I thought I’d just grab from my stash and make do. But then halfway through I realized I really wanted to use that dark fabric at the bottom for the straps, and I didn’t have enough of it. I was able to get the bag and the lining assembled, and when my fabric arrives, I plan to finish this right up. Here’s what I have so far:


Also, extra bonus is that I’m one step closer to being proficient at using my sewing machine. The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is that when your thread starts ganking up for no apparent reason, your best bet is to re-thread your needle. Re-threading the needle and the bobbin is basically the sewing machine version of “turning it off and back on.” As in: “Have you tried turning it off and back on?” Have you seen the British comedy “The IT Crowd”? You really should. It’s on Netflix, so there’s really no excuse not to. In fact, maybe you should watch it while doing a little sewing.