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 EASY—it 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. 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
2 fat eighths (or fat quarters) – each a different print
1 – 24″ piece of 1/2″ twill tape (or 1/4″)
general sewing supplies
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!
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.
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!
I’d been putting off making a hanging sleeve for quite some time but I finally got around to it last week. It was very easy and it didn’t take much time so there really wasn’t a good reason for my delay. While I don’t intend to hang up my quilts permanently, I thought having a sleeve and a rod would be easier for my husband to hold up quilts for photography. Since it can be stressful finding the right location, dealing with lighting and weather conditions, I’ve decided to try indoor quilt photography in the future and a hanging sleeve will be a necessity.
Anyway…here’s what my sleeve looked like once I attached it to the top of my quilt.
The tutorial I followed was geared for sleeves to be attached to quilts for shows, therefore they’re supposed to be made to the exact width of the quilt. Because I’ll be using mine for multiple quilts, I made it about 72″ long (from leftover quilt backing fabric) and folded back the extra length before sewing it on.
I’m going to need a curtain rod for hanging, but since we were going to drape it over a railing we used a painting extension pole instead. Something this big around isn’t ideal if the quilt is actually held or if it’s placed on hooks as it distorted the top a bit.
Overall, it was much better. My husband said it was a lot easier to hold up the quilt and everything was straighter, too. Here’s a photo of my Five Squared quilt using the sleeve with the rod being held on the opposite side of the rail.
Whether you want to hang up quilts or need a sleeve for photography purposes, I highly recommend it. I followed the Hanging Sleeve Instructions tutorial from Quilt Week, it’s a great resource.
If you’re thinking about taking up quilting as a new hobby but aren’t sure where to begin, I’ve got an easy, basic pattern that’s excellent for the complete beginner, the Checkered Baby Quilt. This quilt is a perfect starter for several reasons—it’s sewing simple squares together, there are no bias edges (when edges can stretch easily), seams nest (fit into one another stress-free) and it can be made with 5″ precuts. For the quilt top you need only two charm packs. And best of all, there’s no pattern to buy, just download my Checkered Baby Quilt tutorial. Easy, right?
I’ve made a few Checkered Baby Quilts and have given them as gifts and I’ve even made a couple for commission, so it’s definitely a classic that stays in style.
The last one I made with Lily and Loom fabric from Craftsy (remember Craftsy?) and Kona Cotton Solid Snow. I chose crosshatch quilting at 2″ apart and a solid binding.
Other reasons why this is great for a new quilter is that it’s a nice sized project suitable for experimenting with color, fabric, thread, quilting designs, etc. All of those quilting elements are part of the learning process plus it’s a lot of fun. So if it’s time to get started, why not grab a couple of charm packs and try this one out?!?
If you’ve been quilting for a while I bet you’ve accumulated quite a bit of cutaway batting—I have a fair amount myself. For me, I needed to stash down and use what I had plus I’ve found it difficult to purchase any batting because it’s either sold out or on backorder.
Since I had a couple patterns in the works, it was a good time to do some quilt batting piecing so I could finish my projects. First up was a throw quilt that will finish 56″ x 72″.
To get started, I gathered cutaway strips from other quilts I’d made. I had three strips that were long enough and once sewn together, the whole piece would be wide enough. Because the strips were uneven in length, I cut them all to an even and approximate length of what I’d need. I then was ready to get sewing.
Here’s what I did, and if you decide to piece batting too, this is what you’ll need to know. I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you as you go along.
Before you start sewing:
Set up good lighting.
Match the thread to the batting as close as possible.
Cut fresh, straight edges using a ruler and rotary cutter OR if the factory cut edges are straight, they are fine to use.
Make sure the same sides of the batting are up.
To insure seams stay secure, use a zigzag stitch. I sew on a Janome Skyline S7 and this is the setting I used. Whatever you can set close to this should work fine.
Choose the proper foot for your machine.
Try a sample first to ensure your stitch length is set appropriately.
Once you get started:
Sew slowly making sure both sides of the batting pieces are caught by the zigzag stitch. Going fast will make batting bunch.
Use quilting gloves for a better grip (batting can be slippery).
Once finished and before use:
If necessary, you can press the seams to help them lie flat, but make sure the entire area of batting where you intend to iron is covered by fabric or you’ll get residue on your iron that’s difficult to remove, trust me. 😉
I spritzed water over my stitching to help relax the seams which worked really well. If you do use water, check that everything is dry before sandwiching and quilting.
Here’s a photo of an area beneath the quilt top where there’s a pieced batting seam…you’d never know!