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!

Monday, October 8, 2012


Today is the first day of Kids Clothes Week Challenge. Have you signed up yet? The idea is to spend an hour a day for 7 days sewing kids' clothes. I'm usually terrible about joining these kinds of things, but this year I'm in!

I've already got two pairs of little girl pants cut out. Stacks of knits and corduroys are washed and waiting.

Ottobre Design, also known as kids' pattern bliss!
Here are a couple of dresses I made for my daughter earlier this year using Ottobre Design patterns:

It's a bit cold for these now. Time to sew some fall/winter-friendly clothes. My goal for this week is to make my sweetie a knit dress, leggings, at least one pair of stretch corduroy pants, a corduroy jacket lined with a wool knit, and at least one pair of pants for each of my two boys. Can I do it? An hour of sewing a day just might do the trick! Are you in? What are you making?

Thanks to Meg of Elsie Marley for the kick in the seat of the pants. Now it's time to thread the serger...

Happy sewing!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Little Treasures Drawstring Pouch

Like so many people, I'm just loving chevrons right now and I had to make something with Riley Blake Designs' small rainbow print. Why not a little drawstring bag? They're perfect for tiny toys, cosmetics, and so much more. Want to make one, too? All you need is a little ribbon and two fat quarters (I've got a couple of DIY kits here if you want to make one just like mine). Here's the tutorial.

Little Treasures Drawstring Pouch

What you'll need:
- 2 fat quarters that look good together
- 1" wide blue painters' tape
- a fabric marker (disappearing ink or chalk)
- clear acrylic ruler, rotary cutter, and mat
- approximately 52" of 5/8" (15mm) twill tape or grosgrain ribbon (this is enough for 1 bag)
- a safety pin
- all the stuff you need for basic sewing

About this pattern:
- All seam allowances are 1/2"
- Backstitch the beginning and end of every seam
- Trim your threads as you go

Cut the two fat quarter in half lengthwise (against the grain), giving you four pieces that are approximately 9" high by 21" wide. You've got enough fabric to make two drawstring pouches. Stash away the two extra pieces for another day/project if you don't want to make two.

Layer one outside print and one inside print together and trim them up so they are exactly the same size.

Place a piece of 1" blue painters tape 2 1/2" inches from the top and bottom of the outer fabric. The tape should have over the edges a bit.

Fold the fabric in half, right sides facing, making sure the tape pieces line up. Pin the fabric layers together.

Now find your lining piece. Fold it in half and pin it. 

Find your ruler and fabric marker. We're going to box the corners of the outer and inner bags. Line the ruler up along the bottom left side of the outer bag (wrong side of the fabric should still be facing out). Measure 1" from the bottom edge and 1 1/2" from the left side. Draw a line on the top and right side of the ruler, creating a rectangle. Repeat on the right side of the bag - line the ruler up 1" from the bottom and 1 1/2" from the right side and mark the rectangle.

Now do the exact same thing with the inner bag.

Using the lines as your guides, cut out the four rectangles you just marked.

Now we're ready to sew. Let's start with the outer bag. Sew the right and left sides of the bag, stopping when you reach the tape. Carefully backstitch/reinforce at the points next to the tape, then start sewing again on the other side of the tape, reinforcing the seam. This will leave you with a 1" opening 2 1/2" from the top edge of the bag, which we will later make into the channel for the ribbon drawstrings.

TIP: use a fabric marker on the wrong side of the fabric to mark the tape line so you know where to stop sewing and where to start sewing again.

Turn the outside bag inside out. Carefully pull the tape out of the openings.

Grab a pair of (non-sewing) scissors and cut the tape about 1/2" from the opening. Do not remove the tape because you'll need it in place later on.

Now I'm going to tack the seams down along the openings on either side. This is an optional step. Start by finger pressing the seam open.

Next, make a straight stitch along the seam just along the opening.

Repeat on the other side of the seam and then on the other side of the bag.

Now sew the side seams of the liner bag. Once again using a 1/2" seam allowance, sew one side completely, then sew the other side, leaving a gap of about 2" - 2 1/2"  close to the bottom of the bag. You'll need this opening to turn your bag right side out, so don't forget!

Reinforce seams at opening

Time to box the corners. Start on one side of the lining bag. Grab the two corners of one of the rectangles you cut and pull them out until the two fabric edges line up.

 Open the side seam with your fingers and pin the seam allowances down flat.

Now sew a 1/2" seam across the edge you just created.

Pin and sew the other box corner on the liner bag, then do the same thing for the outer bag.

Zip over to the ironing board and press the side seams open on both the inner and outer bags. A sleeve ironing board is really handy for this if you have one.

Turn one of the bags right side out (it doesn't matter which). Place it inside the bag that is still inside out. Line up the side seams and pin them together. Make sure the top edges of the two bags line up and place a few pins.

Sew the two bags together along the top edge. Does your sewing machine have a free arm? If yes, here's your chance to use it!

Once you've sewn all the way around, reinforced your stitches, and trimmed your threads, turn the pouch right side out using the hole along the seam in the liner bag. Tuck the liner bag into the outer bag. Pay special attention to the points of the boxed corners.

Crazy turning out action shot!

Head back to the ironing board and press the top edge where the inner and outer bags have been sewn together.

It's not a bad idea to press the body of the bag while you're at it. It gets a bit wrinkly during the turning process.

A crisp top edge.

Topstitch the top edge if you care. I'm not bothering.

Head back to the sewing machine. We're going to sew the channel for the ribbon drawstrings now. I've changed my bobbin thread to match the liner fabric. You may want to do the same if your liner bag is a drastically different color from the outer bag.

Sew a seam along the two sides of the tape, all the way around the pouch.

Remove the tape. Now your pouch looks like this:

Find your ribbon or twill tape and the safety pin. Place the pin through the end of the ribbon and start feeding it through the channel. It doesn't matter which side you start on. Feed it all the way around until you come back out the hole where you started.

Line the ribbons up and make a clean cut. The ribbon tails should hang out about 3" to 3 1/2" beyond the opening.

Knot the two ends together. You may need to hem the ends of your ribbon or twill tape if it frays easily.

Repeat the ribbon stringing process starting on the other side of the pouch, bringing the ribbon all the way around the bag. Trim the ribbons so they are approximately the same length as the ribbons on the other side and knot them together.

Ready for the last step? Turn the pouch wrong side out and hand sew or machine sew the turning hole closed.

Turn the bag right side out again and give those drawstrings a yank. Cute!