PDF download, sewing, tutorials, Uncategorized

Wine Bottle Bag Tutorial

Last holiday season I was invited to a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner party where I wanted to bring a bottle of wine for the host and hostesses for each occasion. While it’s perfectly fine to bring wine itself, I wanted to dress it up a bit so I decided to make fabric bottle bags.

After finding several how-tos, I made the first one using a combination of what I’d found; taking notes and photos along the way so I could create an easy, downloadable PDF to share.

For my first project, I chose fall-like colored fabric and a shimmery orange ribbon and the duo made a lovely bottle bag, perfect for Thanksgiving!

For the second project, I used holiday inspired fabric and natural twill tape for a rustic look and together they were just right for a Christmas party.

These festive bags are not only for wine bottles, they’re also great for sparkling grape juice. And best of all, this project is SO EASYit only takes about 25 minutes, from pressing the fabric to tying the bow! Choose one fat quarter, add some ribbon and a bit of time and you’ve got a classy gift to give. 🙂

Sound fun? Download this free PDF Wine Bottle Bag Tutorial and make something beautiful!

quilting, sewing, Uncategorized

Save that Selvage!

Ever since I started quilting I’ve been saving selvages. Even though I have plenty, I can’t seem to stop saving ones that have fun sayings and cute drawings printed on them.

Since I like to keep things to a minimum, I’ve found a great way to use some of those selvages—wrap them on gifts instead of ribbon—and this is the perfect time of year to do so.

Each Christmas I like to give my family members something handmade, and because everyone has received at least two quilts from me, I’ve had to think of other things to make. For the last few every years I’ve gifted my husband a bird-themed pillow case wrapped with colorful selvage.

Other gifts I’ve dressed up by using selvage is table napkins made for my kids. When I completed this set I wrapped it with selvage and tied a pretty bow. I think it classes up the bundle and makes a nice presentation.

(If you’d like to make table napkins for yourself or as gifts, I have a PDF Table Napkin Tutorial available).

Of course another good way to use selvage is wrapping and gifting a quilt. When I gift a quilt I always find a selvage that compliments the fabrics. By doing this there’s nothing to buy and I’m ready to gift or ship without doing any shopping. Nothing like saving time and money!

Another bonus to saving and using selvages is that they’re really easy to store. I just bundle a few together, place them in a large zip-lock bag and keep it in my scrap bin. It doesn’t matter that they’re creased and wrinkled, just press and trim when needed.

Not only does this put pretty selvages to good use (that may otherwise be tossed out), it’s convenient and environmentally friendly! 🙂

how to, PDF download, sewing, tutorials, Uncategorized

Table Napkin Tutorial

For most quilters, managing stash is an ongoing process—as long you keep sewing, you keep ending up with left over fabric, especially with precuts.

Early this spring I finished a quilt using a layer cake I’d had since 2015. (Wow!) When the quilt was complete, several 10″ squares were left. I knew I’d never use them in a quilt and I didn’t want to store them, but what could I do with a dozen precut squares?

After considering a few options, I decided to make reusable table napkins for everyday use. And because I like all things environmental, it was a fun and practical choice.

These napkins finish around 8 1/2″ square and they’re so easy to make. If you’ve got any 10″ squares lying around, download this detailed Table Napkin PDF tutorial and start stashing down!

quilting, sewing, Uncategorized

Quilting with a Tailor’s Clapper

It wasn’t until recently that I learned what a tailor’s clapper is, let alone find out it’s a great tool for quilting. Who knew?

If you’re not familiar with this funny little thing, here’s some general information. A tailor’s clapper is an elongated, rounded piece of hardwood (average size: approximately 9″ long x 2″ wide) with a routered groove down each side. Some are straight and some are a bit wider on one end, but no matter the design they can be used in either direction.

What’s the purpose of a tailor’s clapper and how is using one beneficial to quilting? This handy tool helps to achieve wonderfully flat, crisp seams which is exactly what quilters want! And in the end the results will give you a beautifully flat quilt top. 🙂

After reading quilters rave about them and doing a bit of research myself, I thought I’d give one a try. I decided to purchase this one from Amazon. I like that it’s made in the USA and it had a lot of good reviews. This one offers 2 sizes, I chose the standard size.

How does a tailor’s clapper work? Well, they’re pretty basic and very easy to use; here’s how. Once you press your seam with a hot, steamy iron, remove the iron and immediately place the clapper on the seam then hold it down for a few seconds. The clapper will trap the heat and steam leaving an amazingly flat seam.

Here’s a look at fabric I sewed and tested with and without the clapper. It’s easy to tell which one I used the clapper on and which one I didn’t…it really works!

I’m definitely seeing a better outcome in my quilting now that I use a tailor’s clapper when pressing, and I most definitely recommend using one. And what I find so interesting is that this simple garment-making tool that originated in England well over 100 years ago is still useful in today’s complex world!

Note: I am not endorsed by the product mentioned in this post; it is just an item I like, use, and wanted to share information on.

PDF download, sewing, tutorials

Fabric Utensil Wrap PDF Tutorial

With the summer season upon us and picnics in the forecast, I thought it would be a great time to offer my Fabric Utensil Wrap Tutorial as a downloadable PDF. I’d had some inquiries about making this a PDF and since I, too, enjoy having tutorials on my computer, I went ahead and created one to share.

You can download my Fabric Utensil Wrap Tutorial to any device to use at your convenience. If you’d rather follow along online, it’s still available on my February 8, 2021 blog post. You can also find it on my FREE DOWNLOADS tab.

Any which way you choose, it’s a great project for toting utensils on the go!

how to, organizing sewing space, sewing, tutorials, Uncategorized

Storing Fabric on Comic Book Boards

In January I spent a few days organizing my fabric. For storage, I have a box for all 10″ squares and a 4-drawer Rubbermaid unit I’ve divided out for specific cuts for my printed fabric only. I’ve designated one drawer for each cut: strips, remnants, fat quarters and WOF yardages. I also have another unit with one small drawer just for solids.

Lately I’d been accumulating solids and my drawer was getting full. Also, when I needed a particular color I’d have to take everything out which was pretty inconvenient. That said, I decided it was time to find another way to store my solid fabrics.

I’d remembered reading about quilters using comic book boards for storing fabric, so I thought I’d take a look into the process. A quick Google search and a brief video showed me how easy and cost effective it is.

I found that many quilters use BCW boards sized 7″ x 10 1/2″ (Amazon). A pack of 100 costs around $17 so if you don’t have a huge stash, this quantity will last quite a while! The boards are definitely sturdy enough for wrapping up to a few yards of fabric, and they’re acid free so they won’t cause any discoloration.

Quilters also use plastic alligator clips for securing the fabric. On Amazon, a pack of 500 costs around $10. Again, this quantity can last a long time! The clips are really sturdy and the ridges grip and hold nicely.

After ordering these two items, I was ready to go.

For my stash, I decided that the smallest amount of fabric to be stored on a board would be a fat quarter; anything smaller stays in the drawer. I also decided to store larger yardage amounts on the boards too, as I don’t usually have more than a yard or two in any given color.

To get started, I ironed everything. I recommend doing so because of course fabric looks nicer pressed and since it will be stored this way indefinitely, flat lying fabric will give the best results possible.

Next, folding and wrapping. For fat quarters, fold selvage to selvage. This will make your piece about 11″ high by 18″ wide. Next, place the board in the center where it will fit just right vertically, then wrap the sides around. For yardage, fold selvage to selvage. Then fold again in half, bringing the fold on the bottom up to the selvage at the top. The fabric will measure about 11″ high, just like the fat quarter. Fold the fabric once again, this time from side to side, bringing the raw edges to the fold. Place the board vertically in the center then wrap the sides around.

Place clips on the ends to secure the fabric and you’re finished!

For mine, I made tags to identify the fabric. I simply cut strips of paper about 3/4″ x 2″, and using a Frixion pen I noted the fabric brand and color. It took some extra time to figure out what was what, but when I need to know later the info will be there.

I also have plastic bins for storing the fabric. Not only does it look pretty, it’s a great way to see what’s on hand and it allows for quick access.

If you have a lot of fabric that you want to store on comic book boards, you may want to do a few pieces at a time. I had 26 cuts and it took me several hours! I’m happy to have spent the time for the great results, and I plan to do this as I acquire fabric so my stash is always stored up-to-date.

sewing, tutorials, Uncategorized

Making Reusable Canvas Grocery Bags

The winter months are a great time to catch up on projects you’ve been planning but have been putting off for a while. In my case it was making reusable grocery bags out of canvas.

To get started, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, and high quality canvas wasn’t really necessary so I purchased a durable canvas drop cloth (for around $9) which saved me at least half. The weave was comparable to fabric off the bolt, so it was a win-win.

For instructions, I followed this excellent tutorial https://www.themakeyourownzone.com/how-to-make-a-reusable-grocery-bag/. Since the tutorial was geared for using plastic materials, I made a few changes along the way…

Because I was using cotton, I was able to press seams with an iron and I used my hot ruler for accuracy.

I also had the issue of fraying, so once the seams were sewn and the body portion of the bag was assembled, I ran a zigzag stitch along all the raw edges. A serger would work nicely if you’ve got one.

Notice the nice hem along the top? When cutting, I planned to have the factory sewn edge up top for a professional look. It was also a more substantial edge for attaching the handle and it added extra durability.

Overall, the tutorial allowed me to achieve the same results just with different materials. If you decide to make your own reusable bags, I should point out a few things regarding plastic vs. canvas.

First of all, the canvas bags won’t stand up like plastic! But they’ll definitely last longer and they can be laundered which is a definite plus.

With both types, you’ll want to be sure to add something to the bottom for support. I used fitted cardboard to give the bags a more defining shape and added strength.

My husband does the grocery shopping (he actually likes to) 🙂 and he loves these bags. And of course, if it’s green and eliminates plastic waste I’m all about it!

From start to finish, these bags (I made 3) took just a few hours and they’re a really easy make.

sewing, tutorials, Uncategorized

Fabric Utensil Wrap Tutorial

Every year I look for handmade gifts to make my family for Christmas, usually it’s a quick sewing project and sometimes it’s not even quilting related. 😉 Last year I stumbled across a neat item that doesn’t require a lot of time or materials—a fabric utensil wrap. They’re great for picnics, work lunch or any meal on the go!

If you’re like me and are always finding ways to reduce plastic waste, these eco-friendly, reusable wraps are the perfect solution. If it’s good for the earth I’m sold, so I decided to make one for each of us, myself included. I also went extra green by opting for bamboo utensils.

Since these wraps were so well received, I thought I’d write a tutorial to help pass along the idea. Here’s what you need and what you have to do:

MATERIALS

  • 2 fat eighths (or fat quarters) – each a different print
  • 1 – 24″ piece of 1/2″ twill tape (or 1/4″)
  • general sewing supplies

GETTING STARTED

Since you’ll probably end up tossing this in the laundry at some point, it’s a good idea to prewash the fabric. Whether you do or don’t prewash, be sure to press your fabric before beginning. Once pressed, cut each piece of fabric to 9″ x 20″.

Next, press a 1/2″ inch hem on one short end of each piece. I used a hot ruler to keep my hem accurate.

SEWING FABRIC PIECES

First, align both pressed edges then pin together. Starting on a long side of the pinned fabric, sew a 1/2″ seam along three sides, leaving the short pressed end of the rectangle open. I used washi tape as a guide to keep my seams straight.

Once sewn, trim away the top corners the making sure not to cut too close to the thread. This will help reduce bulk and it’ll help give the corners a nice finish.

Next, from the open end, turn the fabric right side out. I used a blunt tip bamboo stick to push out the corners for a sharper point, it really makes a difference.

After your corners are nice and sharp, press. Then sew the open end closed with a topstitch about 1/8″ from the edge, backstitching at each end. 

MAKING THE UTENSIL POCKET

After sewing all the sides closed, fold the previously open end (now topstitched) up 5 inches from the bottom to create a pocket. Pin the side edges of the pocket.

SEWING IN TWILL TAPE

Fold the 24″ twill tape piece in half and insert the folded edge into the top left side of the pinned pocket. The fold should be inserted into the fabric approximately 1/2″. Pin the inserted tape about 3/8″ down from the topstitched edge.

TIP: Sew a zigzag stitch along each end of the twill tape to keep it from fraying.

Stitch a 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around the edges, backstitching at each end.

CREATING UTENSIL POCKETS

Now that the main pocket is created, it’s time to create individual pockets for the utensils. You’ll need a ruler and a fabric-safe marker. As an alternative, I used a hera marker to indicate my separations so I didn’t have to worry about any markings.

I needed 4 pockets—one for chopsticks, a fork, a spoon and a knife. I divided the width of my pocket in equal measurements from left to right: 1 3/4″, 1 7/8″, 1 7/8″, 1 3/4″. Depending on your needs, determine your measurements. After doing so, mark a vertical line from the topstitched edge to the fold at the bottom for each section. Next, sew on the line, leaving the top open and backstitching at the ends. And done!

NOTE: The step above can vary quite a bit, depending on your purpose. For example, if you want a section for a reusable straw you’d opt for thinner pocket or if you want a section for a napkin or condiments, you may want to make a wider pocket. I should note that packets of mayo, mustard and/or a rolled up napkin fit inside the sections of the wraps I made.

At last, your wrap is ready to use! Simply place the utensils inside, fold down the top, roll it up and tie.

AN ALTERNATIVE SIZE UTENSIL WRAP

For my husband and myself, I made a smaller size wrap, omitting the pocket for chopsticks. I planned for only three sections: a fork, knife and spoon. I cut the fabric pieces 7 1/2″ x 20″ and made the pocket sections 1 7/8″, 2″, 1 7/8″. Otherwise, I followed all the instructions as written.

Whether you use bamboo or regular kitchen cutlery, hurray for ditching one-time plasticware! Every step towards going plastic-free counts and these fun wraps are an excellent way to start!

baby quilts, color gallery, monday morning designs quilt pattern, quilting, quilts, sewing, tutorials, Uncategorized

2020 Project Recap

It seems that staying in more than usual made for a productive year. In 2019 I’d completed 11 quilts and thought that was a lot, but in 2020 I surpassed that and made 14! Of the 14, I gave 4 as gifts and I have a few on hand should a gift-giving occasion arise.

Other than having a queen sized quilt ready for longarming, I’d quilted the other 13 myself. That’s quite a bit as I typically have one or two done professionally every year. My goal for 2020 was to use what I had on hand, so I didn’t purchase fabric to make several of these quilts.

Here’s a look at the past year: These two quilts were gifted along with two others that I can’t show—one is to be published in the Quilts & More fall edition, and the other is a pattern currently in the works. The photo on the left is a free pattern, Lucky 13, and the other is an easy tutorial for a beginner, Checkered Baby Quilt.

This is the only two-colored quilt I’ve ever made, for me red and white were the obvious choice. 😉 It’s a free Moda pattern called Illusions.

My Twinkly Stars quilts are one of my favorite makes, shown in both throw and crib size. It’s available as a PDF download in my Etsy shop. And those cute sashing strips are made from cut-away corners so there’s no waste!

This Scrappy Four Patch Charm is the second quilt I’d made from this free pattern from Robert Kaufman. I just love this design and I wouldn’t be surprised if I make yet another one. For this, I literally took every 5″ square I had, cut a few more and threw it together. It was so fun and it used a lot of what I had on hand.

Both patterns, Westerly Winds and Radiant, were released last year.

My Holiday Hemlock quilt was a challenge and a joy to design, not to mention how fun it is to watch it come together. While working on this, I decided on a second, scrappy version for all the scrap lovers out there!

Sweet Stripes is the last of my pattern releases for the year. This cheerful pattern is designed with the beginner quilter in mind. It’s fat quarter friendly and there are 7 different sizes with two layouts versions to choose from. It’s quick AND easy!

I made this baby size Sweet Stripes quilt but I have no baby to give it to, so it’s currently for sale in my Etsy shop. 🙂

The last quilt finish of the year is my Christmassy Triangle Peaks. I had to make this red and green version for my annual holiday quilt. Even though I finished it mid-December, I’m already planning for this year!

I was surprised that I made only one mini; a section of my Holiday Hemlocks. I put together a center tree and star along with a shorter ribbon and it made a lovely wall hanging. It’s a great way to display part of the quilt if you don’t have time to make a whole one.

I also added another page to my website, color gallery. It showcases several photos with color tiles to help with your color inspiration. Thankfully my family members allowed me use their beautiful images for this project. I think it’s an excellent resource.

Other projects include pillows for my mom, a pillow case for my bird-loving husband, utensil wraps, colorful rope bowls and microwave bowl cozies.

I also added several tips, tutorials, charts and plenty of other quilty posts to my website. And lastly, I updated my logo and I love it.

Coming soon in 2021…a tutorial for the utensil wrap, a new quilt pattern and more tips and sewing inspiration. I’m looking forward to a great year of creating!

home decor, sewing, Uncategorized

Rope Bowl Frenzy

Any type of maker knows that starting Christmas gifts early is necessary if you want things done on time. Since I’ve made quilts for everyone in my family, I’m always searching for new sewing projects to make instead. Luckily, sometime during the summer I saw an image of a rope bowl and thought they’d make great gifts, and I’d have plenty of time to make them, too.

I watched a few video tutorials to see how it’s done and I decided Mr. Domestic’s How to Sew Rope Bowls YouTube video was the most informative and it’s pretty funny. While he used craft rope for his, I wanted something more accessible and sturdy so I opted for braided clothesline. It’s readily available at hardware stores and it’s relatively inexpensive—one package costs around $6. While you won’t have a lot of color choices with clothesline, you should be able to find it in natural and/or white.

I definitely thought the bowls would make nice gifts, but I also liked the fun aspect of adding color with fabric. 🙂 They require 1″ wide strips in lengths of choice but there are no set rules! It’s all up to you—add as little or as much as you want. For the ones I made, I chose the recipient’s preferred color and went through my scraps.

As you’ll see in the video, starting the spiral can be tricky. Here’s a tip: once you pin your center, sew the X between the pins to completely miss hitting them with your machine’s needle. Then remove the pins and sew another X in the opposite direction. You may have to go back and stitch together missed spots, but this initial step makes it much more manageable.

I was able to get two bowls out of 50′ of clothesline. I made several, and the neat thing is that each bowl is unique. They differed in fabric color, placement, size and the tilt of the side’s angle.

While a lot of makers ended the bowl by sewing down a loop, I wasn’t able to do it very well. Plus, I wanted a bit more color on mine so I made a tab. To do so, I took a piece of the same fabric used in the bowl and cut it 1″ x 1 1/2″ long. I sewed about 1/8″ around the edge of the fabric piece, and using a pin I frayed the edges.

I stitched it on by hand on some, and on others I sewed it on by machine, securing it with an X. While it’s far from perfect, I like results because I think it gives an artisanal look.

I had a lot of fun making these bowls, it was kind of addicting too. 😉 I finally ended up making one for myself and I use it for carrying small quilting necessities…scissors, HST, fabric, pins, rotary cutter, etc. Not only are they pretty, they’re useful.

And with the little bit of rope left over I made a couple of coasters. Such fun and quick projects!