Thursday, March 8, 2018

Binding Burpies!

There's not much that is more useful than a soft, cushy burp cloth when it comes to baby tending, is there? I love giving burp cloths as new baby gifts because I know that they will be well used and loved, especially when it’s super easy to make them pretty too!

Once upon a time I thought the only way to bind anything had to involve cutting bias fabric strips and doing a LOT of handwork. Thank goodness for my quilting friends who taught me that bindings can be straight grain and stitched down by machine. Here’s my new favorite method for adding pretty fabric ends to pre-folded diapers for burp-cloths. I hope you'll try it!

You will need pre-washed, pre-folded diapers. Find them in packs at big box retailers, online, and at some baby specialty shops. (I love finding the colored ones!) You’ll also need some nice quilt weight cotton fabric cut into two strips that are 2" wide and 1” longer than the short ends of the diaper. (Note: You don’t have to pre-wash, but some brands of pre-folded diapers will shrink a lot, so it's nice to get that out of the way so your pretty bound ends don’t curl up later.)

Choose a right side. One side of a pre-folded diaper is usually prettier than the other; you can tell by examining the stitching on the extra folded part in the middle.

Align one fabric strip with one short end of the diaper: Place the fabric strip wrong side up on the WRONG side of the diaper. Make sure you leave a little extra fabric hanging off at both ends, as shown in the photo above. Sew the fabric strip to the diaper with a 3/8” seam allowance. (You’ll notice that there’s serging on both short ends of the diaper, and it might not be very straight. Just sew the fabric strip on as straight as you can; don’t worry if it doesn’t meet exactly flush with every bit of the edge.)

Repeat for the other end of the diaper.

Press each fabric strip over the finished end of the diaper.

From the right side of the diaper, press one fabric strip under 3/8” to ½”, all the way across. Repeat for the strip at the other end.

Next, press the folded edge of one fabric strip over to meet the seam, covering the serged edge of the diaper. Repeat for the strip at the other end. Make a good crease at the newly folded ends.

Unfold the strips along the crease you just made and fold them backwards to the wrong side of the diaper. Align the first fold’s edge with the seam (where the strip is sewn to the diaper). Sew across the short ends of each strip a scant 1/8” away from the diaper's edge as shown above. Back-tack securely. 

At both ends of each strip: Trim the seam (leaving a small selvage) and clip the corner a tiny bit as shown above.

Refold the fabric strips back to the right side, poking out the corners smoothly. Re-press if necessary.

Choose a good appliqué type stitch from your machine’s motif stitch menu. I love using the Shell Tuck Edge on my Baby Lock. This stitch has a “bite” stitch that goes sideways from a line of regular stitching, so it’s nice and secure. I set my Shell Tuck Edge stitch at a width of 1.5 mm and length of 1.6 mm. You might want to practice on a scrap of fabric to see what stitch and settings you like best.

A clear open toe foot is a great choice for doing this type of stitching if you are like me and want to SEE exactly where the needle is landing. You might also like the edge stitch foot which has a guide to help you follow the fold. Experiment to see which foot is easiest for you to use.

Here’s the tricky part: It’s rather difficult to start on the end of a bit of fabric that’s thick. Sometimes that causes a nest of wonky stitching, yikes! So try this - instead of starting with your needle at the very end, put your presser foot fully on the fabric at the end, as shown in the illustration below on the left:

Starting with a REGULAR stitch (not the pretty shell stitch yet) and the center needle position, sew backwards immediately beside the fold, right where you will be sewing the shell stitching (see illustration above on the right). Remember, you are sewing from the right side of the diaper next to the folded over edge of the fabric strip which has not been sewn down yet.

Stop two or three stitches away from the edge; leave the presser foot down. Raise the needle and set the machine to the shell stitch motif. Sew immediately next to the fold so that the “bite” stitch catches the folded edge while the regular stitching line between the "bites" ends up only on the diaper part next to that folded edge.

When you get to the opposite end, stop a couple of stitches away from the edge, raise the needle (leave the foot down) and reset the machine for regular sewing, center needle position. Then sew backwards right at the fold (not on it) to secure your thread tail.

Pretty, isn’t it! And faster than hand sewing, woo-hoo!

Add some pretty appliqués!

This appliqué design is from the Curly Appliqué Alphabet collection. One thing to remember is that for projects like this that will be well-washed, it’s best to add fusible web behind your appliqué material. Click HERE to read a blog post about appliqué. Use those little curved bladed trimming scissors to keep from cutting into the diaper when you trim, and don’t forget to use a press cloth when you fuse the appliqué!

I hope you find a lot of use for this little binding technique. I’m quite hooked on it! It ends up on so many of my projects - not just burp cloths - because it’s fast and neat!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Fastest Draw in the West!

The fastest draw in the west…okay, it’s actually the fastest drawstring bag in the southeast, but let’s not get picky - this is an awesome quick and easy gift-giving project for all ages! Not only can it be the gift packaging, but it can be the gift as well. And it’s a great stash-buster... ahem, something that’s rather nice all on its own, right? (Click HERE to find the llama designs!)

Here’s what you need:
  • A piece of fabric twice as tall and twice as wide as the desired size of your finished bag, plus one extra inch both ways for seam allowances.
  • Something to draw it up with – ribbon, cord, twill tape or whatever you have that will make a sturdy drawstring 
  • Sewing thread
  • Optional: big hole beads to put on the ends of the drawstring cord and embroidery designs (if you want to get fancy!)

Let’s get started. I have this set of toy car tracks for my grandson and, yeah, there are lots of little parts which I’m sure his momma is going to love (not!)... but Gramma is fixing that ‘cause I’m making him a bag to keep those pesky parts in! So I needed four times as much fabric as the bunch of stuff I wanted the bag to hold.

I cut a big piece of fabric and folded it in half, then in half again. You can see all four layers up there at the right hand corner of the photo. The left and bottom edges are folds. When you choose what size your bag needs to be, make sure you leave plenty of room for drawing up the top and for the seam allowances. (This is just an example of how to quickly tell how much fabric you will need.)

There is a super fast option for creating the opening for the drawstring, and there is another option that requires one more step – a buttonhole. The only advantage of having a buttonhole is that you can use it to put the drawstring opening anywhere you want. For instance, if it is a gift-giving bag like the one I’m making here, you might want the bow tie to be in the center of the bag when it’s finished, like this:

But if it’s a bag for storage and the bag IS the gift, you can just make the drawstring opening in the seam, and the tie ends up on one side like this toy bag:

(Knobby Letters appliqué shown on the bag - click HERE to find them!)
If you choose the buttonhole method, draw or crease a horizontal line through the center of the fabric block (you can simply fold the block in half from top to bottom and iron the fold to crease), and then find the midpoint of that line by measuring its length and dividing by two. Mark the position of your buttonhole just below the midpoint like this:

Go ahead and sew in the buttonhole before you proceed. It’s helpful to use a bit of stabilizer beneath the buttonhole stitching to keep it neat and sturdy.

More options! If you want to add embroidery, a patch, or a pocket, then do that before you sew up the bag. Here are your options for that:

The blue dotted lines show the fold marks (the bisecting horizontal and vertical lines) and the seam allowance areas (the box all around the edges). The two block sections on the top half of each graphic will become the lining of the bag. The two bottom block sections will become the outside of the bag. If your drawstring opening will be in the seam, then put your embroidery within the yellow box in the image on the left. If your drawstring opening will be a buttonhole in the center front of the bag, then put your embroidery within the yellow box in the image on the right.

Important Note! If your fabric has a directional print this:

...then make sure when you fold the bag to finish the bottom seam, the print will be heading in the right direction on the finished bag. (Curly Appliqué Alphabet shown here for the name, click HERE to find it!)

Okay, let’s whip this bag up. Fold the fabric right sides together along the longest sides (if there are longer sides; your bag might be even) and sew together with a ½” seam allowance.

Press the seam allowance open. Take care not to crease the tube elsewhere while you are ironing.

Turn the tube right side out. Fold what will be the right side of the bag down into the inside, and align all the raw edges. (Important! This folded edge will be at the top of the bag, so make sure you choose the end of the tube that is at the bottom of your directional print to fold down into the inside.) If you put embroidery on the bag, that should now be on the inside during this step. If you have a buttonhole, that should be on the inside too.

Sew across all four layers of raw edges. Serge or zigzag to finish.

At this point you might want to turn the bag right side out to sew the casing if you have a free-arm machine and can stick the bag over it. Or, if you want to use a nice seam guide like my Baby Lock stick-on one, sew from the inside of the bag. You need to sew all around the top of the bag, immediately below the buttonhole if you made one, or at least 1” from the top of the bag if you didn’t. Let the start and stop of your seam line overlap a bit to secure the ends. If you want, you can sew another seam all around the top to make a tighter casing, this time about 3/8” from the top folded edge.

If you choose to put the drawstring opening in the side seam, then bar-tack across the casing stitching lines at the side seam of the bag to stabilize it. When you go to insert the string, you’ll need to pick out the stitches along the seam between the bar-tacks as shown below.

Thread big holed beads onto the ends of your drawstring if you like:

Bam, finished! That was easy, wasn’t it? What are you going to put in your “fastest drawstring bag in the southeast” bags? Shoes, laundry, groceries, games, fabric? Make great big bags for lots of stuff or wee little bags for something special!

(Click HERE to find the fun little festive llamas!)
I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial - make lots of bags!


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Foiled! Shiny Scissor Ornaments

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine! Machine embroidery, meet Creative Notion’s “Artistic Foils” and let the shine begin! 

I first spied these pretty foil papers at Baby Lock’s Common Threads. All those pretty colors and the SHINE really caught my eye, but what really sparked my interest was that I didn’t need any special tools to use this product. Just scissors and an iron, pretty cool, eh? (Don’t get me wrong, I love cutting machines with all their clever possibilities, but some days it’s just nice to create "on the fly” with simple, easy stuff!)

The first thing I discovered was just how soft this product is when applied to fabric. It’s almost as if the foil becomes the fabric, which makes it a great choice for knits. AND…it also means that if one wishes to add machine embroidery on top of fabric that has been embellished with Artistic Foils, there’s no worry about needle perforations. That’s cool! I’ve been having a lot of fun with simple bean stitched designs sewn on felt and cut out to create crafty projects. Felt does not come in shiny, but I discovered that I could make it shiny with Artistic Foil. WOW!

Like my shiny scissor ornaments? Want to make some?  Here’s how…

Grab your favorite pack of super shiny Artistic Foil from your local Baby Lock dealer and some bean stitch designs from your stash. I used my "Snip It!" embroidery design set which has six bean stitched scissors to choose from. Click HERE to find them. 

Then you’ll need some No Show Mesh cut-away stabilizer (or a similar product.) You’ll also need some craft felt in a color that blends with the color of foil you plan to use. (Wool/rayon felt works best as it withstands high heat nicely, cuts cleanly, and is very sturdy. You can find wool/rayon felt in your local sewing store or online HERE.) You’ll also need sewing thread in a color that is slightly darker than the Artistic Foil and some type of permanent craft glue such as Super 77 spray adhesive or Beacon’s Fabri-Tac.

You might find it helpful to print out the design template of your chosen design so you can easily see the dimensions. Cut the craft felt about ½” larger than the design area block. Cut a piece of adhesive backing (it’s included with the Artistic Foil) about ¼” larger than the design area block. Cut the foil just slightly larger than the adhesive backing. Choose a thread color that will contrast but blend. I like to use regular sewing thread for bean stitched designs as the stitching really pops with that type of thread. Feel free to use embroidery thread if you wish; just keep in mind that it might blend in a bit more with the shiny foil background.

Follow the instructions on the foil pack to fuse the adhesive to the felt. Allow the material to cool completely before you peel up the paper backing to expose the slick adhesive. I found that the perfect setting on my iron for both the adhesive and foil was “cotton.” Experiment with a small scrap to see what setting your iron likes best. This adhesive fuses pretty fast at the right setting. There is a piece of parchment paper included in the foil pack that you can use for extra protection of your iron too.

Place the foil block over the exposed adhesive, right side (shiny side) up. Make sure it covers the adhesive thoroughly. Place the parchment paper over the foil and fuse the foil. Don't overheat it, but do go over the entire block thoroughly with the iron in smooth, slow sweeps. Once again, it’s a good idea to test your iron with a scrap or two to find out what setting is best. Too hot and you’ll melt the foil; too cool and it won’t adhere evenly. When you find the right setting for your iron it will fuse easily and cleanly. Use a dry iron. Once the product cools completely, gently peel up the clear release paper, exposing the super shiny foil. Take a minute to enjoy just how nicely pliable the felt still is!

Hoop the No Show Mesh cut-away stabilizer in the appropriately sized hoop for your design. Place the felt in the center, foil side up, and use your on-board design perimeter finding tools to be sure the felt is placed where the design will stitch. Sew the design. Repeat the same steps to make another block of foiled felt. Mirror image the design and sew it again.

When you have two designs stitched (one a mirror image of the other), trim away the excess stabilizer from around the designs, cutting as close as you can to the stitching. Click HERE to find the trimming scissors I’m using in the photo – the best type ever to use for this job!

Use strong, short bladed scissors to clip open the inside of the scissor handles. I like to clip from the center to the stitching in a series of short cuts. Then I can use my curved bladed snips to easily cut away the fabric inside those handles. After you have trimmed away the inside of the handles, cut out the scissors, leaving a tiny selvage past the stitching line. It’s helpful to cut from the wrong side (stabilizer side) as you can easily see the stitches and won’t be distracted by that shiny foil. Audition the scissors wrong side against wrong side to be sure they will match up evenly. You might need to trim a bit more in some places to make them line up.

Apply permanent fabric glue to the wrong side of one of the stitched scissors and stick them together. Tie a narrow ribbon through the handles so you can hang them up. Voila! Shiny scissor ornaments!

Oh my! I’ll be dreaming of gleaming from now on – let’s see what else I can shine up! Happy Stitching, y’all! Hope you make a shiny or two, or three!

P. S. Watch this project making in action - Click HERE to find a free video!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Boo to you too!

Let’s make a cutie-boo sign to hang up for Halloween! Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Nine 3” x 18” strips of quilt weight cotton fabric (black & white or black & gray prints - or any color combination you fancy)
  • 17” x 14” piece of quilt weight fabric for the backing
  • 2.5” x 13” piece of matching backing fabric for the dowel hanger
  • 2.5” x 52” (approximately) of bias cut fabric for binding
  • 18” x 18” (approximately) piece of lightweight quilt batting
  • 18” x 18” piece of sheer cut-away stabilizer
  • Pumpkin Boo embroidery design – Click HERE to find the design, or use something suitable
  • FREE Boo Sign pattern – Click HERE to find the download
  • Fusible tear-away stabilizer
  • Appliqué fabrics and embroidery thread (as required by your design)
  • ¼” wood dowel (at least 13.5” long)
  • 20” of narrow grosgrain ribbon (for hanger)

All the fabrics except for the bias binding should be cut on the straight grain. Note: I like to fold my bias binding in half, sew it to the wrong side of the project with a ½” seam allowance, and then wrap the folded edge around to the front where I use the hemming stitch on my Baby Lock sewing machine to secure it. If you have a favorite way of binding your quilted projects, then by all means use that instead and cut your bias binding accordingly!

Download the free Boo Sign pattern and print out four copies. Cut them out on the dotted and solid lines. Bump the dotted lines together as shown below and tape the paper pieces together. At this point, I like to make a tissue paper pattern from my joined-together paper one. (Tissue paper is easier to see through when trying out the placement over something with embroidery on it!) 

Sew the nine 3” x 18” strips of fabric together with no more than a ½” seam allowance. Press the seam allowances open. Turn the finished piece diagonally and wrong side up. Cut a piece of fusible tear-away stabilizer larger than your 6x10 hoop and fuse it to the wrong side of the fabric, centered as shown below. 

Print out the design template included with the Pumpkin Boo design. Center the printed template within the fabric block as shown below, and hoop accordingly. 

Embroider the design. Then remove the stabilizer and press from the wrong side. 

Lay the block of quilt batting over the sheer cut-away stabilizer, and place the embroidered, pieced fabric block on top, right side up. Quilt as desired, skipping over the embroidery. 

You know how much I love my Baby Lock Sashiko machine! Check out these sweet stitches! I used a variegated Madeira Cotona thread in autumn tones. If you’ve never done the “Sashiko Hop” while quilting over embroidery and appliqué designs, click HERE to see that in action!

Now you are ready to cut out the quilted piece according to the pattern. This is where a tissue paper pattern comes in handy.

Cut out the backing fabric according to the pattern as well. Fold the 2.5” x 13” strip of matching fabric in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and sew the short ends closed with a ¼” seam allowance. Turn right side out and press along the fold. You will now have a long, skinny fabric pocket. Position it so that the opening is at the bottom, and then place the aligned long raw edges (of the opening) about 1.75” down from the center top edge of the backing fabric. Make sure the fabric strip is straight (horizontally), and sew the raw edges to the backing fabric with a ¼” seam allowance. Fold the strip down over the seam and sew again as close to the folded edge as you can to create a dowel cover on the right side of the backing fabric.

The illustration on the left below shows the first seam, folded edge facing up. The illustration on the right shows the second seam.

Apply the backing fabric with the attached dowel cover to the wrong side of the quilted boo fabric. Baste together around the edges if desired. Bind the raw edges with bias binding in the binding method you prefer. (See the comments in the first paragraph about my favorite method!)

Here’s the finished back. You can see how I attached my dowel cover a little better in this photo:

Sew loops into both ends of the grosgrain ribbon, big enough to easily slip over the dowel.

Now go hang up your cutie-boo sign and delight a little cutie!

 Happy booing to you too! Thanks for reading :-)