September 15, 2019

Dew and Moss: A Project Evolution


If you would have asked me a year ago what I thought my sewing style was like, I would have quickly said traditional and vintage. Now, I'm not so sure I could answer that question. I have felt an evolution of sorts this year, one that leaves me feeling a bit like a kid going off to college. Part of me wants to stay "home" where it's comfortable, and part of me wants to break free and embrace the new. Sometimes I look at my stash and my unfinished projects and I feel bad for them, wanting to go back to the friends I left behind, but when I turn my head and see all the new things I have, I can't wait to get started creating something new and seeing where new fabrics and ideas might take me.

Part of this (r)evolution has been the direct result of being exposed to so many new opportunities this year. My ambassadorship with Michael Miller Fabrics and becoming a designer for ThermOWeb have both opened so many doors and pushed me creatively. Just by using different fabrics and products, I have been inspired to create projects that I never would have dreamed about before. I am extremely grateful for both of those opportunities that have helped boost my creativity, and my confidence, this year.

Recently I saw another opportunity that really spoke to me. A wonderful new designer for Art Gallery Fabrics, Alexandra Bordallo, posted on Instagram that she was looking for designers to be part of a sewing party for her new fabric line, Dew and Moss. I had been seeing sneak peaks of this fabric before then, and I just loved it. The newly evolving modern designer in me was drawn to the colors and designs, and the traditionalist loved the whimsical illustrations and nod to nature. So, I applied and was accepted to join a team of other wonderful designers to help promote this sweet new fabric. When she asked what I planned to make, I confidently said a cathedral window pillow, just like my Trixie one.
By the time my package arrived from Art Gallery Fabrics, I really didn't have much time to complete my project. And on top of that, my son joined three clubs at school, and I was asked to work 8 days in a row to help cover some empty shifts at two different hospitals. So, by the time I was able to sit down and sew, I was exhausted and feeling a little overwhelmed. I cut out my fabrics one night, and got to sewing the next day.

I followed the Missouri Start Cathedral Window shortcut instructions, sort of. I remembered the process from when I made my Trixie pillow, so I didn't go back and look at the instructions again. I sat down and got to work and sewed two rows of my pillow together in one sitting. I was so proud of myself and feeling pretty good about meeting my deadline. I stood back and admired my work...

 ...and that's when I noticed my mistake.
I forgot to sew my white "windows" to part of my blocks. Where you see a circle above, there should be another fussy cut window. I couldn't fix this mistake without completely undoing everything I had done, because one row is dependent on the other. What I had completed so far was too small to be a pillow cover. I didn't know what I was going to do. I just wanted to cry. I did not want to disappoint Alexandra, or myself. So, I slept on it. And I woke up with an idea.
The next morning I got to work painting some buttons to put on a...bag! Now, I am no bag maker. Bags are hard. Really  hard. But I love this fabric and I thought of how proud I would be to wear a bag full of it. So, I turned my cathedral window panel into a front pocket complete with a zipper, and made a bag out of it. I stitched on my mushroom buttons, added a "handmade" tag to the front, and inserted a magnetic snap on the inside to keep everything nice and contained. I plan to use it to carry my design books and pencils in. These fabrics are inspiring, And so is the story of how this project came to be. It's a nice reminder to not get hung up on perfection but to instead go with the flow.


And there she is! I won't lie, she wasn't easy. I got reacquainted with my seam ripper. More than once. Ok, more than about 5 times. But I stuck with it, and I'm so glad I did!

August 20, 2019

A Fruity Table Runner



Nothing says summer like bright colors, fresh flowers, and fruit off the tree. This Sew Fruity collection by Michael Miller fabrics captures that summer feeling perfectly. With its bright colors and fruity motifs, this fabric screams summertime and picnics, which is exactly what I had in mind when I made this table runner.

Table runners, pillows, and other small projects are a great way to get your feet wet when it comes to quilting. Making larger quilts is a big investment of time and money, which can intimidate some beginner sewists. For this project, all you need is small cuts of fabric, some backing fabric, batting, and a little knowledge of basic quilting techniques (how to use a rotary cutter, how to sew a straight line, etc.). If you can master all of that, keep reading and I'll tell you how to whip up a cute and easy table runner like this one!

Supplies Needed

  • 1/4 yard cuts of several different fabrics (or fat quarters)
  • 1/4 yard of binding fabric
  • 1 yard of backing fabric (or more depending on how big you want your runner)
  • Batting (if you are going to buy some, buy the Craft size or crib size package)

Sewing Instructions

  • Determine how big you want your runner. If you want to keep your investment small, consider making one that only requires 1 yard of backing fabric, make your runner 42" long or less. A yard of fabric measures approximately 36" x 42". 
  • This runner will be made of rows of 5 1/2" squares. Divide the length of your runner by 5 to get the number of rows you will need. Multiply that number by 4 since each row will have 4 squares. That will tell you how many squares you need to cut.
    • FOR EXAMPLE: To make a runner 40" long by 20" wide:
      • 40" / 5" = 8    (For this example you will need 8 rows)
      • Each row has 4 squares so...
        • 8 rows X 4 squares = 32 squares total
      • Cut the yard of backing fabric into a 22" x 42" rectangle
      • Cut the batting a little smaller than the backing but a little larger than the top. In this case cut it approximately 21" x 41".
  • If using 1/4 yard cuts, cut the fabric into 5 1/2" strips x WOF (width of fabric)
    • Subcut the 5 1/2" strip into 5 1/2" squares
  • If using fat quarters, cut 5 1/2" x 21" strips and subcut into 5 1/2" squares
  • Sew the squares together in pairs. Sew two sets of these pairs together to give you a row of four squares. Make as many as desired for the length you want. For the above example, sew 8 strips of 4 squares each. 
  • Whew! Stand back and admire your work:
  • Arrange your rows in a way that makes you happy. Press the seams of each row in the same direction. Press the seams of the next row in the opposite direction.
  • Place the two rows right sides together, nesting the seams. Pin at each seam.
    • What does it mean to nest seams? When you press the seams in opposite directions as above, you can butt them up next to each other on the right side. This ensures nice sharp points when you sew them together.

  • Press the seams of the rows open as shown below:
  • Sew your rows together and again stand back and admire your work:
  • Place your backing fabric face down on a flat surface (I use the floor!). Place your batting on top of that, then place your patchwork runner face up on top of the batting.
  • Baste in place. For this project I used basting spray by ThermOWeb. I love it! It's much quicker than pinning, and it works great for small projects like this one!
  • Take your runner to your machine and quilt as desired! I quilted diagonal lines from the square corners. I did not mark my lines, I just went for it! I set my stitch length to about 3 and used the walking foot for my Janome Skyline S7. I love this machine!
  • After I finished quilting it, I trimmed off the excess batting and backing fabric.
  • I cut my binding fabric into 2.25" strips and sewed them together to make my binding. I machine stitched it in place (I almost always hand-sew my binding, but because this is a table runner, I thought machine stitching might be more durable in the wash). I'm sorry I don't have a tutorial for the binding, but they are easy to find online!

  • After I finished the table runner, I used the border print from this fabric to make some tea towels as well. I love how the white of the border fabric pops against all the colors in the runner!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Happy sewing friends!
-Stephanie-



August 10, 2019

Renaissance Fabric: Inspiring New Projects



It's funny how the fabric can inspire the project. Sometimes when I have fabrics in my hand, I just know what they were meant for. Rarely do I buy fabrics for a specific project. More often I buy them, look at them, play with them, and then come up with something to showcase the prints and how I feel they can best be used. Some fabrics look great in quilts, some fabrics are meant for home decor, and some fabrics, like these, scream "make me into something pretty." So, that's just what I did.


Renaissance fabric is a new line by Michael Miller Fabrics, releasing to stores this month! When Susan from MMF asked if one of us Brand Ambassadors would do a feature on these fabrics this month, I gladly accepted. I knew exactly what these fabrics were meant for.

A few years ago I discovered a talented designer named Carla. I fell in love with her cute but useful patterns (and her absolutely perfect sewing!). She had a pattern for sale in her Craftsy shop at the time for a Ruffled Wristlet. I bought it and made a few...or a dozen...I loved making them for me, for gifts, and for different occasions. They are quick and easy and look much more complicated than they actually are to make. Which is a good thing, right? When I got my shipment of Renaissance, I wasted no time deciding what to make with them. I got out my pattern from Carla and started sewing.




I added stylish metal zippers and leather "Handmade" tags to add just a little extra something. And then for even something more, I made bow scrunchies with some of the scraps! (I grew up in the 90's. Super excited about the return of the scrunchie! Slouch socks and tight rolled jeans? I hope THEY never make a comeback!). Anyway, if you've never made a scrunchie you should totally do it. Super easy and fun. And the bow just adds a little extra fun.


I'm so happy that I had the opportunity to work with fabrics that are a little out of my norm. They inspired me to make something new (the scrunchie!) and to make something for myself that just makes me feel special. Thank you Michael Miller designs for the opportunity to work with you and for creating such beautiful fabrics!



July 31, 2019

Lovely Letters Pillows




There are two types of people in the world: Those who live in the Christmas spirit year round and those who, well, don't. I'll admit it, I get a little excited when Hobby Lobby puts their Christmas decorations out in August. I don't buy them, and I don't decorate until much closer to time, but I love seeing the reminders that the happiest time of the year is just around the corner. And I don't know who came up with the concept of Christmas in July, but I'm sure glad they did!

This year, as part of my Ambassador role with Michael Miller Fabrics I had even more reason to celebrate the season in the middle of the summer. I had the opportunity to work with two new Christmas fabric lines, and I used them to make pillows. Lots and lots of pillows...


Last Christmas as my boys were writing their letters to Santa, I felt like they needed something cute to put the letters in when they were done. Something fun and magical to make the writing and delivering of the letters extra special. I came up with this Lovely Letters Pillow pattern that contains a pocket for them to slip their letters in. When they were finished writing them, we put their letters in the pillow's pocket and placed the pillow under the tree. And guess what? The next morning they were gone!  So, when I saw these cute new Christmas fabrics from Michael Miller, I knew I wanted to make more of these pillows. And I'm so glad I did! If you want to make some too, click here for the pattern!


These pillows are so fun to make. They can be customized in so many ways. If you are good at hand stitching, add a name and address to your labels for an extra special, personalized touch.



If hand lettering isn't for you, use your sewing machine to stitch on some personalized details if you so desire.


And if you don't have a sewing machine that stitches letters, leave the labels blank. The pillow still totally looks cute without any extra details!



Another fun customization with this pattern is the stamp. The pattern includes instructions for how to piece four different stamps (a wreath, a star, a gift, and a heart), making it easy to personalize the pillow for the occasion. Who says this has to be a Christmas pillow? Use some pink and red fabrics and the heart stamp, and you now have the perfect Valentine's Day gift!


And if you are obsessed with making fabric stamps (like me!), you can totally do that as well! While the pattern doesn't tell you how to make fabric stamps, you can easily find lots of tutorials online and add them to this project.



These pillows make great gifts for little ones. My kids loved using it last year, and we can't wait to start writing those letters again!

Merry Christmas (in July), and happy sewing!

Stephanie

July 3, 2019

I Need A Vacation!



I am so excited to share with you my first project as a Michael Miller Brand Ambassador! As an Ambassador, I have the honor of creating projects with their beautiful fabrics and sharing them here with you! Part of my role as an ambassador is also including a tutorial or link to a pattern so you can make some of these projects at home too! And I'm not the only one! You can follow along at the Michael Miller Making It Fun blog to see what all of the other brand ambassadors are up to as well.


For this first project, I chose the new fabric called "I Need a Vacation." I love the beach umbrellas and all of the sunbathers in these fun prints. I wanted to make some fun things for my boys to carry around with them this summer and to take with them on vacation. When my fabric arrived, I got to work and made some fun things to share with you!



The first project I made was a set of zipper pouches. My boys love to write and draw, so no road trip is complete without plenty of pencils and notebooks. Every time I clean out my car, I find tons of pencils, markers, and crayons on the floor, down in the seats, and in the pockets of the doors. Hopefully having these cut little popsicle zipper pouches will help them to keep their writing utensils organized and contained. Hopefully... And if you want to make one too, head on over to Homespun Magazine's Cosy Project blog for the pattern. I wrote it for their magazine in October 2017, but they also published it on their blog! You will need some fabric scraps, heavy weight fabric like linen (cotton would work too), a zipper, and some craft weight interfacing. I used HeatnBond Fusible Interfacing in the Craft Extra Firm weight. And for the fabrics, I used Michael Miller Hash Dot, a great line of blenders.



The second project I made was a set of drawstring pouches. I just kind of made them up as I went. If you have never made a drawstring pouch before, I recommend you start with Lori Holt's tutorial. It's how I learned the basics for making these. 


For these little bags, I knew I wanted them to be functional as well as cute. So, I lined them in fusible vinyl to make them water proof and easy to clean, making them perfect for sandy beach shoes or wet swimming trunks. I used HeatnBond Fusible Vinyl, and it was super easy to work with, and fun too!

My final project with this fun fabric was a pillow. What vacation would be complete without at least some rest and relaxation? And this pillow promotes both! Not only is it soft and fun, but it has a pillow on the front so you can slip in a book or a magazine to take with you for a lazy day at the beach! 




I tried something new with this pillow too. I made teeny tiny bias tape and appliqued "Life's A Beach" on the front. While more challenging than I thought, it was still a lot of fun. And isn't this tiny bias tape cute??
There are lots of tutorials out there. If you want to try this technique too, I recommend checking out this video by Fat Quarter Shop.

And that's a wrap on my first set of projects for Michael Miller fabrics! I hope you enjoyed them and are inspired to make your own!

Happy Sewing!


October 3, 2017

Scrappy Heart Mug Rug: A Free Tutorial



I love this time of year. The weather, the season, and the excitement for the holidays put me in a good mood and energize me for decorating and sewing. I start thinking about what I am going to make for Christmas gifts, and what I'm going to make for myself to help get my house a little more in the "mood" for the season as well.

I recently came across a fat quarter of this gorgeous reddish-orange Essex Linen by Robert Kaufman, and I had to snatch it up to make something for fall. I have to admit, I love Essex Linen. I mean, I love it. It comes in gorgeous colors, it's super easy to work with (unlike heavier linen you can buy for garment sewing that's "shifty"), and it's relatively inexpensive. I have been buying mine from Fat Quarter Shop lately, and you can too! I'll make it easy for you and include the link right to the Essex Linen page. You probably need some...

https://www.fatquartershop.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=essex+linen

Back to the project...

Since I only had a fat quarter of this precious fabric, I decided to make a matching pair of mug rugs, one for me and one for my mom. Kind of like one of those old "BFF" necklaces where you keep half of the heart and you give the other half to your, well, BFF. These are super fun and easy to make, and they are a great way to use precious scraps of your favorite fabrics that you just can't bear to throw away!


To make one you will need:
  • Fabric:
    • 6 scrappy strips measuring 1.5" x 6.5"
  • Linen:
    • Two 3.5" squares
    • Four 1.5" squares
    • Two 1.5" x 6.5" strips
    • Two 1.5" x 8.5" strip
  • Batting:
    • 9" square
  • Backing:
    • 9" square

Let's Start Sewing!
  • Sew your strips together in two groups of three like this:
  • Draw a diagonal line on the back side of your 1.5" squares and sew them onto your strips like this:
  • Draw a diagonal line on the back side of your 3.5" squares and sew them onto your strips like this:
  • Trim the excess triangle 1/4" from your seam line and press so your heart now looks like this:

  • Sew the two halves of your heart together.
  • Sew the 1.5" x 6.5" strips to the right and left sides of your heart and press. Sew the 1.5" x 8.5" strips to the top and bottom and press. You should now have something that looks like this:

  • Sandwich your batting between the top of your mug-rug and your backing fabric. Quilt as desired, trim your mug-rug to 8.5" square, then bind! For this one, I stitched in the ditch all around my heart, then hand quilted it for detail.

  • Next-to-last step: tag your photos on Instagram using #scrappyheartmugrug so I can see all the beautiful things you make!
  • Last step: give it to someone you love!

Dew and Moss: A Project Evolution

If you would have asked me a year ago what I thought my sewing style was like, I would have quickly said traditional and vintage. Now, I&...