Saturday, January 14, 2017

Wing it! A cut work pillow tutorial

I love cut work, don’t you? Especially when my embroidery machine is doing most of the work! Here’s a fun project if you’d like to follow along - let’s make a winged pillow!

I used my new “Winged” cutwork designs for the flap on this pretty pillow. Click HERE to see that set. However, you could use any suitable border cut work designs that you may have on hand. Here’s what you will need to make a pillow cover for a 15” pillow form:

31” x 17” quilt-weight cotton for the pocket portion (where the pillow is inserted)
18” x 18” quilt-weight cotton for the flap
18” x 18” quilt-weight cotton for the flap lining (use same fabric or contrast print)
Baby Lock’s Ultra Soft Fusible (enough to cover the wrong side of the flap fabric)
Wash-away stabilizer (Vilene, fabric type, either sticky or non-sticky)
Border embroidery designs (with corner design)
Embroidery thread
Sewing thread
15” pillow form

Don’t you love it when you find just the right fabric for the project you want to make hiding in your stash? This pretty “Joie De Vivre” print from Art Gallery Fabrics by Bari J was exactly what these designs needed! However, because this fabric is only quilt-weight rather than the heavier fabric that these designs are intended for (such as wool, canvas, or home décor weight), I needed to add something to give the fabric extra sturdiness. Baby Lock’s Ultra Soft Fusible worked perfectly!

Let’s get started!

Back one 18” x 18” piece of quilt-weight fabric (the one that will become the right side of the flap) with a layer of Ultra Soft Fusible. Take your time fusing it so that it is well adhered. Please note: the flap fabric needs to be sized so that the pointed flap design layout will easily fit within.

Back the other 18” x 18” piece of fabric (the one that will become the flap lining) with one layer of wash-away stabilizer placed on the RIGHT side of this fabric piece. Two notes! If you use a heavier fabric such as wool, canvas, or home décor linen, you won’t need to add the Ultra Soft Fusible; just back the fabric with the wash-away stabilizer. If you wish to use a sticky stabilizer, go for it. Just bear in mind that sometimes sticky stabilizers can cause more thread breakage as the needle tends to get gummy during stitching.

Now lay the flap lining fabric wrong side up (wash-away stabilizer underneath) on your work surface, and place the Ultra Soft Fusible backed flap fabric right side up on top of it.

Print paper templates of all the designs you will need for your design layout. Audition them on the flap fabric sandwich. Use either a light coat of temporary spray adhesive or cellophane tape to hold them in position while you work. By placing your hoop’s clear plastic grid on top of your design template layout, you can tell how many designs in your layout will fit in the chosen hoop. For instance, I can tell in the photo above on the right that my corner design and one 5x7 border design will fit in my Destiny’s 9.5” x 14” hoop.

Loosen your hoop screw generously and hoop the fabric sandwich, using the hoop grid to correctly align the design you will stitch first. Make sure the designs fit within the stitching field, which is noted by the grid marks on the hoop grid. Tighten the hoop screw a bit, and then remove the grid and all templates except for the first one you will stitch. I started with the corner design as I find it easiest to align border designs by working first one way and then the other.

Baby Lock Destiny owners – you can use your on-board camera to scan the fabric/template in the hoop and then align the design with the photo on your machine screen! Just grab the design right on your screen and drag it in place or use the “move” tool in the edit box. Use a bigger hoop than you need so you'll have plenty of move room. Otherwise (non-camera users), use your move tool to locate the design correctly and check your placement by using your machine’s on-board design perimeter finding tool. Just click on the center location, drop the needle to be sure it ends up in the center, and then check the north, south, east and west points. Dropping the needle (unthreaded) into those points will show you if the design is correctly positioned. If not, you can adjust and check again.

Follow the design instructions to stitch out the first design. You will want to use the same color and type of thread in the top and bobbin.

I found it much easier to trim away the top Ultra Soft backed layer first and then trim away the lining layer. It’s a bit of a challenge NOT to cut into the stabilizer, but if you use little scissors with short, curved blades you can do it. (Click HERE to find the “snips” I love to use!) If you accidentally cut into the stabilizer it’s okay. You can patch it with a bit of extra stabilizer stuck to the back. Use cellophane packing tape or masking tape to clean up the fuzz so you can see how well you are trimming. Like most cutwork designs, these designs require you to cut very, very close to the stitching!

Baby Lock Destiny owners – this is where you machine will shine! The next border placement will be a snap because you can scan the fabric in the hoop and drag or move the next design easily into place perfectly. I LOVE THIS FEATURE!!!! Makes borders so easy! :-)

Otherwise, follow the same steps as before using the printed design template for the next design to be stitched and your machine’s on-board design perimeter tool to correctly place the design. Finish stitching the border on the pillow flap, and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions for removing the wash-away stabilizer. (I like to rough cut away as much of the stabilizer as I can and then give the fabric two long soaks followed by one last short soak in water that has a tiny bit of detergent in it – sometimes a drop of fabric softener too. Then I give it a quick rinse, squeeze it in a towel, and hang to dry.)

Once the flap fabric is dry, you are ready to construct the pillow. For a 15” pillow form you will need a piece of fabric cut about 17” wide and 31” long. My finished design ended up being exactly 15” across from side to side at the top. If your design is different, you may need a different sized pillow; make sure to adjust the measurements accordingly. You’ll just need one piece of fabric big enough to wrap around the pillow with at least ½” seam allowance at both short ends.

Cut away the excess flap fabric above the border design, leaving at least ½” for the seam at the top of the pillow. The pillow pocket part needs to adequately cover the flap from side to side, as shown above on the right.

Sew a quarter inch hem on one short end of the pocket fabric.

You will need to sew your pocket fabric (the un-hemmed end) to the flap, but before you do, check where this seam needs to go according to the finished edge of your embroidered border. As you can see in the photos above, I needed my seam to sew across a tiny bit of the finished border – the ends of the feathers – so I made sure that’s where my seam would go before I began sewing.

Just to be neat and pretty I decided to make a French seam. To do so, place the flap fabric and pocket fabric WRONG sides together and sew with a ¼” seam allowance. Trim that seam allowance a bit (to about 1/8”) and press. Then fold the fabrics right sides together and sew again ¼” away from the first seam, enclosing the selvages. You can see in the photo below on the right that the finished edge is very neat and clean!   

Now it’s time to fold the hemmed end of the pocket fabric up and over the wrong side of the flap and sew up the pocket side seams.

If you have used border designs that may extend into the seam allowance area as my feather borders did, make sure you push that part out of the way and secure before you stitch the side seam (see photo above on the left).

Finish the side seams as desired; you may wish to serge or zigzag stitch the selvages to make them tidy. Turn the pocket portion right side out. Insert the pillow form and pull the flap down over the front. If you wish to add a bow, audition the placement of it. I found that it was necessary to sew one part of the bow about 1” below where the point of the flap rested in order to make the flap lie nicely when the bow was tied. If you are using ribbon or a narrower tie, you may not need to sew it that far down.

Sew the bow pieces – ribbon or fabric ties – to the pillow. One piece needs to go on the pillow pocket front part. You can hand or machine sew that piece in place. The other half needs to be attached as close to the tip of the flap (on the wrong side) as you can get it. That piece will probably look best hand sewn in place.

I made my ties 1.5” wide by sewing 3.5” bias cut strips of fabric into casings with a ¼” seam allowance, pointed at one end and about 22” long. I used Robert Kaufmann’s “go create and Shimmer” fabric by Jennifer Sampou in gold. It exactly matched my embroidery thread color! Satin ribbon ties would be lovely too.

Tie up your pretty winged pillow and show it off!

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this project!


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Foyer Forest

There’s a forest in my foyer! A very nicely behaving one too – NO shedding needles and no leaves to rake, just lots of pretty stitches! Want to make a forest for your house? Read on!

You will need:

Assorted green quilt weight cottons (a fat quarter of three different green prints will do the trick)
Variegated quilting thread
Sewing thread
Trims as desired (rick-rack, pompoms, yarn for couching)
The pattern found HERE

Let’s get started!                  

Download and print the pattern; it’s free! Cut out the pattern pieces on the black lines. There are two sizes, a large tree and a small tree.

Cut a different print for each part of the pattern, in any combination that makes you happy.

Sew the three parts together with a ½” seam allowance and press the seams open. (If you wish, insert pompoms or other suitable trim in between the seams as you sew them up.) Cut a piece of Soft and Stable foam a little larger than the joined together tree.

Quilt as desired. You can meander around, free motion stipple, or whatever takes your fancy. My BabyLock Sashiko and I had some fun!

Not only did I quilt my trees on the Sashiko, but I also added flip-stitched yarn for a touch of “snow” on one of them! (Click HERE to go read more about my Baby Lock online Sew at Home classes.)

You can always couch on yarn with a wide zigzag or sew on other pretty trims. If you do, and if you’d like to keep the back seam on the tree neat, begin and end your added trim bits in the same place on their opposite sides. To make this easy, measure and mark those spots before you begin.

If you need to, trim away the extra foam from the two long sides of the quilted tree.

Serge off the excess foam along the bottom curved edge. If you don’t have a serger, cut off the excess foam and zigzag stitch instead. (My Baby Lock Ovation does lots of fancy stuff, but it's the way she performs simple tasks like this so speedily that makes her worth her weight in gold to me!)

Press under the finished edge. Try to keep it even, and turn up just enough to hide the serged (or zigzagged) edge. Strangely enough, I found it easier to do this from the right side – you might have better luck on the wrong side; just keep in mind that you need a hot iron and steam, which might mess with the foam there. If you do iron from the wrong side, use a press cloth to be safe.

Stitch along the bottom to hem. Once again, I found it easier to do this from the right side.

Fold the quilted tree in half, right sides together, so that the raw edges of the two straight sides are aligned. Sew together with a ½” seam allowance. You will probably have better luck keeping the bottom hemmed edge aligned by starting there. (Helpful Hint: Set your presser foot down about 1” above the bottom hemmed edge. Sew in reverse until you get to the bottom, and then sew up the side of the tree.) Trim a little of the seam allowance away at the top pointed end of the tree.

Turn your tree right side out. To make the bottom neat and tidy, open the seam flat and sew across along the hem stitching on the right side to secure it in place.

While you can certainly stitch any trim onto the tree quite easily before you sew up the sides, you can also just GLUE trim to it using fabric glue after it has been sewn. I love Beacon’s Fabri-Tac fabric glue. It holds quickly, and it dries clear and flexible.

Go for it! Make a pretty forest today! Wouldn’t these look cute with some felt stars on top? Or what about tiny, festive embroidery designs? I hope you enjoy this project – I sure have!

Happy Stitching!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tag! You're It!

Have you noticed how babies make a bee-line for any shiny, soft bits of fabric hanging off things? That’s probably why taggie blankets are so popular. Well, Baby Kate needed a taggie blanket, but not just ANY fabric would do for my little princess, ha! Luckily I had a stash of silk velvet, truly fit for royalty!

As you may know, I dye silk velvet for my own class kits and sometimes I end up with more fabric than I actually need. The extra fabric gets fat-quartered and sold in the shop. While packing up a new dye batch lately I thought, “oh man, wouldn’t this be the loveliest blankie ever?” and YES, it is! 

Kate thought so too. J 

It was super easy to make once I unearthed my Baby Lock Walking Foot. I don’t know why I forget about this amazing foot – it is a MUST for sewing together layers of slippery, napped, or very different fabrics. Since I had satin ribbon ends, knit fabric on one side, and silk velvet on the other, I really NEEDED that walking foot! 

This blanket took one silk velvet fat quarter, which is about 18” x 22” in size. I squared up the velvet to an 18” x 18” block and then cut another block of a super soft cotton fleece the same size. I then chose a bunch of pretty satin ribbons in prints and solids to coordinate with my pink velvet and cut them into 3” strips. 

First, I added a pretty monogram to the velvet fabric with a teeny tiny rose from my Petites collection. (Click HERE to go see that whole set.) A layer of silk organza used as a topper kept my embroidery thread from disappearing into the soft pile of the velvet. I also applied a layer of water-soluble clear topper beneath the silk organza so that I wouldn’t cut into the velvet when trimming away the organza.
After I trimmed the silk organza, the topper could be ripped away easily. I used a soft tear-away for the stabilizer underneath the velvet. As this project is double layered, the stabilizer side doesn’t show, so any bits left there are okay.
Wonder Clips made holding the whole thing together super easy. I did baste the tags on to the knit side first and then applied the velvet side, sandwiching the tags between the two layers.  

Kate knew exactly what those shiny ribbon tags were for – chewing on!   

This was a super easy and fun project, and even if you don’t have a little prince or princess of your own to sew one for, these make great baby shower gifts. Don’t be afraid to use silk velvet for projects like this or other wearable items; since it’s been washed and dried during the dye process, it’s machine washable and dryable again. Just wash and dry like you would any other fine fabric – on a delicate cycle, cool water, gentle detergent, and tumble dry on low heat, removing quickly. Click HERE to go see all the pretty silk velvets currently in the shop! Make something for you! Collars and cuffs on a pretty jacket, maybe? (Oh my, I’m giving myself ideas again!) 

Thanks for reading, I hope you get to make something pretty today! 


Monday, September 19, 2016

Put a heart on it! Classic Sewing Magazine's pretty sewing Tees!

I fell totally in love with this super sweet T-shirt. It says “just sew everything” on the front and since I totally believe in THAT, you know I needed this shirt! Classic Sewing Magazine has them in their online boutique, so go get yours! There are other sewing motifs too, all cute as buttons. I might be starting a collection, ha!

See the little pink heart? Well, you know I can’t leave well enough alone. I mean, the shirt itself DID give me permission to “just sew everything,” right? So I sewed something on it! Actually, embroidered something – a dainty little heart from my Petites collection. Click HERE to find and download this FREE little heart embroidery. (Limited time offer so scoot right over there and download it quick!)

This is one of those instant gratification projects. It’s so easy and fast to do and satisfies that “sew-something” urge without really sewing something. (I can't believe I said that but I'm pretty sure you totally understand!) Here’s what I did:

I lightly fused a piece of No-Show Mesh fusible cut-away stabilizer to the wrong side of the shirt in an area a bit bigger than the 4x4 hoop I was using. I love using this type of stabilizer for knits because it’s so lightweight and flexible and doesn’t add any bulk or extra stiffness. The trick is to LIGHTLY fuse because you are going to peel away the extra and trim it later. So I just fuse enough to make it hold and that’s it.
Then I drew perpendicular vertical and horizontal alignment lines with washable marker on a piece of soft tear-away stabilizer. I sprayed it lightly with temporary spray adhesive and then used the hoop placement guide (grid) to hoop it in my 4x4 hoop.

I marked the place where I wanted to put the heart embroidery on the T-shirt with a small dot; then I aligned that dot over the point where the two lines on my marked stabilizer intersected. That’s the center point of the hoop, and when the design is centered in the hoop it should stitch right there on that point. 

As the T-shirt is white you can see the intersecting point of the crossed alignment lines through it. That is helpful!

This is a tiny design, so it’s quite okay to use pins to further secure the shirt to the hooped stabilizer. (Normally I would baste the project to the stabilizer, because one thing you don’t ever want to do is embroider over a pin or catch one in the foot as it passes over.)

Temporary adhesive holds pretty good, but wrangling a large item in a small hoop can be tricky. Pins keep you from accidentally pulling it out of the hoop while you are getting it into the machine. Once I had the hoop in the machine, I made sure the shirt was not caught under the hoop or around the arm.

Even though I had centered my design within the stitching area, I always check to be absolutely sure that I am really in the center. So before I thread the needle, I hit the “center” button on my onboard design placement tool and then drop the needle into the fabric. If it lands right at the point I marked, then I’m good to go; if not, I can raise the needle and use the onboard edit/move tool to fix the placement before I begin.

With a cup of tea in hand I sat there and watched with an eagle eye while it stitched. Once finished I pulled off the soft tear-away and then gently peeled up the lightly fused on cut-away. My little Snips made short work of the trimming - and because they have very short, curved blades, I was able to cut right up next to the stitching on the wrong side. (Click HERE to find these snips!)

Pretty, pleasing, and the perfect way to put your own touch on a purchased T-shirt!

Click here to visit Classic Sewing Magazine's boutique and get a pretty T-shirt for you! You might decide to add a wee butterfly or a bitty flower instead of a heart, wouldn't that be sweet?

Go on, just sew everything! :-)



Sunday, September 11, 2016

Scrap-busting Headbands!

I’ve got scraps, have you got scraps? Uh-huh, I bet you do and I bet you wonder why you’re saving them too, just like me! Turns out I was saving them for my granddaughter!

During a recent visit I whipped up a fabric headband for Baby Kate just for the fun of it. She looked SO DARN CUTE in it that I had to make a few more! With each band I polished up my technique a bit until I think I can make these in my sleep. Sure hope Baby Kate enjoys wearing headbands for a good long time, ’cause I’ve got lots more scraps!

Want to bust some of your scraps into headbands? You can make one to fit you too…maybe without the knot, ha!

First, measure your head or your baby’s head – as in, where around the skull you need the band to lie. Baby Kate’s head measurement was almost 18”, so I cut these three pieces of fabric:

16.5” x 4” (this is the main part of the band; the length – noted here in bold – should be at least 2” less - even less if you want the band tighter - than your head measurement)

8” x 3” (this is the cover for the elastic)

13” x 3” (this is the bow tie)

Plus you’ll need at least 4” of 3/4” wide elastic and matching sewing thread.

Press under about ¼” on each short end of the biggest fabric piece. Next, fold the fabric length-wise, right sides together, and sew with a ½” seam allowance. 

Press the seam allowance open by placing the tube flat on your ironing board with the seam opened flat opposite of the fold. Press one side, then flip the tube over, open the seam up that way and press again. Take care NOT to press the entire tube. You don’t want to put a crease in the center as you want the seam to end up being in the middle of the underneath when finished. Pressing first one way and then the other will allow the seam to open nice and flat when the tube is turned.

I use a pencil or wooden dowel to turn my tubular projects right side out. Just fold one end down, poke the dowel into the fold and either pull or push the fabric over the dowel to turn it. (There are fancier turning tools available but this works for me!)

(Check out Abitofstitch on Facebook to see a short video of me using a pencil to turn a tube of fabric, just FYI!)

When you press the turned tube, make sure you keep the seam in the center and the seam allowance open and flat inside.

Fold the 8” x 3” elastic cover fabric in half length-wise, right sides together, and sew with a ½” seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open and turn just as you did for the main part of the band. Press the turned tube so that the seam is in the center and the seam allowance selvages are open and flat.

Insert the elastic into the casing. I like to use a bodkin for this.

Sew across one end of the tube, securing the elastic at that end.

Gather up the fabric on the elastic until it measures about 3” long. Sew across the other end to secure the elastic at that end.

Place the main part of the head band seam side down on your work table. Insert one end of the covered elastic part (also seam side down) and pleat the headband fabric to fit the covered elastic.

Sew across the folded end of the headband to secure the covered elastic piece in place. Repeat for the other end. Take care not to accidentally twist the band while you do this! (Ask me how I know about that!)

Fold the tie fabric in half length-wise, right sides together, and sew with a ¼” seam allowance. Leave an opening in the center for turning:

 Curve your seam inwards at the ends to make the tie ends curved if you wish. (You can always just sew a straight angle or just straight across the ends too.)

Trim the curve and point.

Turn the tie right side out and hand sew the opening closed. I like to use a slip-stitch to sew these types of openings closed. Nice and neat! Watch this YouTube video if you’d like a demo of that.

Attach the tie to the headband by tying a square knot. Watch this YouTube video to see that in action. Notice that the ends are even before you begin but because one end wraps over and around the band it is the longer end. That’s the end you’ll be doing the most work with. 

The knot can slide up and down the band to wherever looks best.


Go on, you know you want to make more than one :-)

And if necessary, it can always become a sleep mask! Happy Stitching!


Fabrics shown are from Art Gallery Fabrics and Riley Blake Designs Fabrics