Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Has Arrived

Happy Winter Solstice

It's just after 4 p.m. and the sun is on its rapid descent. Our official sunset time today in Minnesota is 4:35 p.m. We've had a brilliant - and cold - sunny day. It definitely feels like winter and it definitely feels like the holidays. The children are all now officially on winter break. We're all desperately ready for a week of rest, some sledding, and lots of hot chocolate.

As you're finishing up your shopping and gift wrapping, please let me remind you of my Little Treasures Drawstring Pouch tutorial. Drawstring bags are a great alternative to plain old throw-it-away wrapping paper. They're ideal for small gifts and small kids. Here's a festive wintery version I whipped up this week for my daughter's preschool teachers' gifts.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday season. Hold your little ones close. Tell your family you love them. And last but not least, raise a toast to longer days in the Northern Hemisphere!

Best wishes,

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Winners

I'm pleased to announce the winners of my Sew, Mama, Sew giveaways. Drum roll please...

Number is 119 is Gill. She enjoys making quilts and bags, and she's getting the Kokka fat quarters.

Binks is my second winner, scoring the gorgeous Riley Blake Stacker and threads.

Hooray and congratulations to the winners!

An enormous thank you to everyone who participated in my giveaway, especially those of you who became new blog followers or liked my Mini Mushrooms Facebook page. And a huge thank you to Sew, Mama, Sew for sharing the blog love on Giveaway day :)


P.S. Wow, lots of quilters and bag/pouch makers out there! I love sewing those things, too.

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's Giveaway Day!!

***winners have been contacted and announced here***

Hi and thanks for stopping by. It's Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day - one of my favorite days of the year! What a great way to discover new blogs, see what other people are making, and maybe score a little swag :)

This time around I've decided to give away two bundles of sewing happiness.

The first is two fat quarters (18" x 22") Dutch Door Press fabric from Kokka of Japan. It's available in my shop, Mini Mushrooms, but here's your chance to get some for free. It's absolutely lovely 85% cotton 15% linen lightweight canvas. Great for accessories, home decor projects, even quilting.

Here are more photos so you can see just how fabulous this print is:

The second little bundle of goodies includes a Riley Blake Designs Stacker (5" squares) of Lila Tueller's Bohemian Festival line. The colors are gorgeous - bright pink, sky blue, lovely green. I'm also throwing in two spools of Presencia 50 wt cotton thread in bright yellow and peach. Made in Spain, this is my favorite cotton thread!

To enter, simply leave a comment below and answer this question:

What is your favorite thing to sew?

I'll select two winners at random on December 7 at 5 p.m. PST. I'm happy to ship internationally (hooray!). The first winner will be allowed to choose which prize they prefer. the second winner will get the remaining bundle.

Thanks for participating and thanks for checking out my blog. Best wishes and good luck!


P.S. "Like" the Mini Mushrooms Facebook page to get new blog post alerts and updates on what's new in my Etsy shop.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lint Busting

December 1st already? Did November fly by for you, too?

I have a post up today on the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild blog all about cleaning and caring for your sewing machine. FYI: there are a ton of helpful tutorials on our blog. I hope you'll check it out even if you don't live in Minnesota ;)

Now back to holiday boutique prep.

Happy crafting,

Friday, November 30, 2012

A quick update

Today I've been working on my guest post for the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild blog, including phone interviews (aren't you intrigued??). It will be up tomorrow, but in the meantime, here's a smattering of what I've been up to lately.

My son, Paul, who is 7 and has great taste in fabric ;), has been begging me to make him something with the Riley Blake navy tone on tone chevrons.

I suggested a tie but he said it wouldn't fit into his wardrobe. After going around and around we agreed on a pillow. I whipped this up in about 20 minutes. He's happy. I'm happy.

Not the best photo. The sun refused to shine today :(

Remember these little postage stamp mini quilts I was working on a few weeks ago?

Now they look like this:

Finally, I've been invited to participate in an in-home holiday boutique a week from tonight. Yippee! I've made 9 infinity scarves and I'm working on a stack of cloth napkins for kids. I'm hoping to get a baby quilt or two done, too. Hubby says I should whip up a few chevron pillows after seeing the one I made for Paul. Perhaps that's not a bad idea.

This week is going to be busy, but not too busy to watch the latest episode of Project Runway All Stars, so I'm outta here.

Happy sewing!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Four's a Charm - Let's Stitch the Binding

Ready for the final post in the Four's a Charm series? We're so close to having a finished quilt I can taste it!

When we left off in the last post, we had just finished attaching the binding to the baby quilt. Now we're going to get out a needle and thread and start hand sewing the binding to the back of the quilt. Please note that this tutorial is the method I use for hand sewing the binding, but it is by no means the only method, nor is it necessarily the fastest. I love the results, though.

Getting Started
The very first thing we're going to do before we start hand sewing is iron the binding down flat. With the quilt facing right side up, fold the binding up and away from the quilt and press it flat.  Use the tip of your iron to get into the seam to make sure the binding is completely pressed outward.

Stop pressing about 1.5"  to 2" from the mitered corners.

Now we're ready to start hand sewing. Here's what we're going to need to hand sew our binding - scissors, cotton thread, and a needle.

Select a thread that matches the color of the quilt binding. I'm just going to use the same gray Aurifil thread I used to do the machine quilting because it will blend in pretty well with my multicolored binding fabric.
Thread your needle with a nice long strand of thread. I tend to make mine ridiculously long because I hate having to stop a bunch of times and knot off, re-thread, and start again. The down side to a very long thread strand is that it tends to knot and twist the longer you sew. Keep this in mind and choose the lesser of two evils. By the way, I've heard that using hand sewing cotton quilting thread helps prevent the twisting/knotting phenomenon, although I've never tried it myself.

Once your needle is threaded, pull one strand longer than the other. Do not knot the thread.

Tie On and Start Stitching
Pick a spot somewhere on the back side of your quilt - preferably near the center of any side - to start sewing (avoid starting really close to a mitered corner).

Insert the needle into the fabric just below the machine stitching (where you attached your binding to the front side of the quilt). Pull the needle through until you have a small tail of a single strand of thread about 4" long. Bring the needle back into the spot where you started. Pull it through again until you've made a loop with the thread. Bring your needle through the loop several times and pull tight to make a knot. Okay, now we're ready to sew!

For some unknown reason, I didn't take photos of this step. Ugh! However, if you need a visual aid, check out the section below where I show you how to start a new strand of thread.

Don't worry about the thread tail - we'll deal with that at the very end.

Use your hands to fold over the binding so that folded edge of the binding sits below the machine stitching. Insert the needle into the fold directly above the point where you just made the knot.

Bring the needle out about 1/4" (or less) from where you inserted it into the binding. Pull the thread through. Insert the needle into the quilt sandwich at exactly the point where you exited the binding. You want your needle to go through the quilt backing and a bit of the batting, but not all the way through to the quilt top. Use the machine stitching as your guide - always insert your needle below that stitch line.

Make your stitch about 1/4" long. Pull the thread tight.

Tip: Use your non-dominant hand to keep the thread taut as you pull the needle through the fabric. This will help prevent annoying knots and tangles.

Insert the needle into the binding fold again, just above where you just pulled the needle out of the quilt sandwich. Repeat the steps above and continue until you get to a mitered corner.

FYI, what we're doing is called a ladder stitch, and while it takes a bit longer to sew the binding this way, the stitching is nearly invisible. A perfectionist's dream!

The Mitered Corners
Ready to sew a mitered corner? It sounds far worse than it really is.

Keep sewing according to the directions above until you get to the corner.

Flatten the mitered corner out with your hand, then fold it down.

wow, do I ever need a manicure!

Insert your needle into the point where the two sides meet and take the needle through to the front of the quilt, making sure that the needle enters the front at the corner of the miter.

Whip stitch up to the top of the miter.

Bring the needle back through to the back of the miter when you get to the top, then whip stitch back down on the other side.

Now continue with the ladder binding method again, starting as close to the corner as possible.

That wasn't so bad, right?

Knotting Off
Sadly, there's no way you'll have enough thread on your needle to make it all the way around the quilt. You'll have to stop and start again at least once. You usually know when it's time to knot off and start again when find your needle keeps coming unthreaded.

Here's how to stop and start again:

Sew a stitch in the binding fold, then put your needle into the quilt sandwich below.

Make just a very small stitch, then loop back around into the same stitch to make a circle with your thread. Bring the needle through the loop a couple of times and pull it tight to make a knot.

Pull the needle off the thread. Leave the tail for later.

Thread your needle again, and just like when we started, do not tie a knot in the thread. Bring the needle into the quilt sandwich just below the machine stitching line right next to the knot you just made. Leave a 4" tail, then bring your needle into the sandwich at the same spot again and bring it almost all the way through until you've create a medium sized loop. Bring the needle through the thread several times then pull tight to make a knot.

I've made a loop (in my left hand) and now I'm going to bring the needle through it several times to create a knot.

Continue hand sewing the binding until you've made it all the way around the quilt, then knot off your thread using the same method as above.

Bury the Thread Tails
Our last step is to bury the thread tails we've left along the way.

While it's probably overkill, I like to take each pair of thread tails and double knot them.

To bury the threads, start by hold a pair of threads at the same time and give them a clean snip with your scissors so that they are both the same length.

Thread both ends through the eye of your needle. If you can't get both into the eye, simply do one thread at a time.

Bring the needle in through the binding, pushing it in an inch or two, then bring the needle back out in a discreet location (like just under the fold of the binding). Snip the threads with scissors. Viola! Your threads are buried :)

Bring the threads into the binding directly above the knot, then bring the needle out about 1" to 2" away from the point of entry.

Pulling the threads through

Snip the remaining thread tails and you're done.

Repeat these steps with the remaining thread pairs.

Congratulations! Your quilt is finished!! Thanks for following along the Four's a Charm series :)


P.S. Make sure you wash it and dry it before you put a baby on or under the quilt since the unwashed fabrics contain chemicals that may irritate a baby's skin.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stamp Collection

There's nothing like a simple patchwork project to cure a bad case of sewing malaise.

Postage Stamp "mini runner" using Juggling Summer by Brigitte Heitland for Zen Chic for Moda 2.5" candy pack.

Another mini runner using ABC 123 by American Jane Patterns, Sandy Klop for Moda 2.5" candy pack.

I haven't felt much like quilting lately. Making clothes - yes. Reorganizing my sewing room - yes. Refolding the stash - yes. But piecing and quilting? Not so much. When quilting fatigue sets in, I find nothing cures it quite like making a mini quilt (or five). Nothing fancy, no pressure, just something simple and quick. I pieced these two postage stamp minis yesterday and you know what? It was fun!

What's your favorite way to get your quilting mojo back?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I'm Cuckoo for Kokka

The UPS truck arrived earlier this week and dropped off not one, but two boxes of delicious new fabrics. I squealed with joy upon opening the box of Kokka goodies.

My absolute favorite - Union Jack Hello Kitty. You can find it in my Etsy shop in fat quarter, half yard, and by the yard increments.

Here's a rather sad photo of this fabric in action at International Quilt Market this past spring in Kansas City. It's fair to say I went a tiny bit berserk when I saw these prints - just ask my pal Lisa.

This is a tote bag I made for myself using this fab fabric. I call it my "midlife crisis bag." It's okay that I like Hello Kitty more than my 3 year old daughter, right??

Next up, this amazing fabric designed by Dutch Door Press - two letterpress designers from San Francisco - featuring a plethora of Scandinavian and Dutch motifs, including dala horses, windmills, a sweet couple, love birds, and stylized flowers.

Here's the print in action at Quilt Market. Isn't it darling?

I liked this print so much I ordered it in two different colorways. Tangerine, lime, and magenta. Gorgeous!

The Hello Kitty print is 100% lightweight cotton canvas. Perfect for bags and pillows, and clothing (Hello Kitty trousers, anyone?). The Dutch Door Press fabrics are printed on Kokka's signature 85% cotton/15% linen natural canvas. These are also great for home decor projects and accessories. They're both listed in my shop in fat quarter, half yard, and by the yard increments in the Kokka/Japanese Fabrics section.

I'll save you the the full version long story, but when I was a small child my family used to visit a town called Lindsborg in Kansas. There was a store there that sold Swedish textiles - rolls and rolls of them all hanging on the wall. Here is one that my mom probably bought for my grandmother. When my grandma passed away many years ago, I brought this piece home (this is just a small section of it - it's table runner length). It sat on her dresser and still smells of the powder she wore.

I think part of the reason why I love the Dutch Door Press prints so much is because they remind me of childhood, my grandmother, and our family visits to Lindsborg, KS. Well, and they're also just darn cute.

Finally, here's what arrived from Riley Blake Designs. I'm still waiting (ordered over a month ago) on many bolts of chevrons. In the meantime, I've got loads of RB dots. The small dots are great for quilts and kids' clothes. Let me know if you need a dot fix. I can hook you up ;-)

Happy sewing!