Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pretty in Pink!

I’m on a roll here making stuff for myself. I know! What a change of pace! How about you? Do you manage to find time to make yourself a pretty or two now and then? Well, why not? I hereby give you permission to make yourself a pretty something today!

I decided that I needed a new iPad case. While I was scouting around for just the right fabric I ran across a little 3.5” Bitty Stacker of Riley Blake’s Basic Variety Assortment in pink. This had been a gift tucked inside a goodie bag from a recent Baby Lock event I had attended and I was saving it for “just the right thing.” Well, I found my thing! Woot!

Want to make one? Here’s what you’ll need to make one like mine:
  • Cotton fabric blocks (3.5” or whatever you have)
  • ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable foam stabilizer twice as big as your iPad (or a similar product)
  • 14” zipper (or 3 - 4" longer than your tablet is tall)
  • Lining fabric
Sew your 3.5” blocks together with a ¼” seam allowance. I laid them out first into the pattern I wanted keeping in mind the size and shape I would need to make a cover for my iPad. One Bitty Stacker turned out to be just enough blocks to make a cover for my 7.5” x 9.5” iPad. You could use other pre-cuts to do the same thing. Check out your stash!

Note – Measure your tablet and make sure that you create a pieced rectangle that is at least 1” larger all around than your tablet when the rectangle is folded in half. You’ll need the extra room for seam allowance and for ease in getting your tablet in and out of the case.

Press all the seams open. Want to put embroidery on it? Now’s your chance! For best results stabilizer your fabric with one layer of an iron-on light weight tear-away stabilizer, hoop it and then float an additional layer of soft tear-away under the hoop once the hoop is attached to your machine. This works well for monograms or appliqu├ęs. (I love Sulky’s Totally Stable iron-on tear-away. It’s economical, user friendly and you can buy it by the bolt. However there are a lot of nice iron-on tear-away stabilizers out there. Use what you have!) When you are finished stitching remove the stabilizer and give the fabric a good press from the wrong side.

(Embroidery designs - Little Bird Scrolls & Zora's Font from A Bit of Stitch.)

Have you discovered ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable? This stuff is awesome. It’s double sided fabric covered thin foam. What I love about it is that it’s soft yet really stable. (Hmmm, is there an echo in here?) It's so easy to stitch with. MUCH easier than most of what I usually use for creating firmness in my bag, tote, purse and case projects. AND, best of all, it’s very friendly with my Baby Lock Sashiko machine! As it’s actually foam, it works really well for this iPad cover. Protection and padding! I used one layer of ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable in white for my case, cutting it the same size as my finished rectangle.

Now quilt your fabric to the stabilizer anyway you like. Use your quilt guide to create even rows (see the Scrappy Quilt post #2 for info about that) or just free motion stipple it as you wish. (This is a great chance to use some of your built-in pretty motif stitches if that floats your boat.) But you know me – when there’s a spot that needs quilting I’m going to head to my sweet, sassy Sashiko! I couldn’t resist adding a few flip-stitched rows of yarn and cord too. Once I was finished I evened up my rectangle and serged all edges to secure the ends of my Sashiko quilting.

Check to make sure your finished rectangle is still going to fit your iPad. You may have to adjust the length or width. For best results you want it to be about 1” to 1.25” larger all around.

Cut one piece of lining fabric the same size as the finished rectangle. Fold the lining in half short end to short end and then cut along the fold. You should now have two blocks of fabric that are the same size as the folded rectangle.

This will be the easiest zipper you have ever put in something. I promise! It helps to have a narrow zipper foot. Did you know that Baby Lock makes a narrow zipper foot for their machines that is actually skinnier than the “regular” zipper foot? It’s awesome and if you don’t have one you need one.

Pin the zipper to one short end of your finished rectangle right sides together. Allow the extra zipper to hang off each end as shown in the photo below.

Sew the zipper to the edge of the fabric right at the edge of the zipper. You don't need to sew close to the teeth – not yet.

Next, place one block of lining fabric over the zipper as shown below and pin it in place. The zipper is now sandwiched in between the quilted fabric and the lining fabric. The lining's right side is against the zipper's wrong side.

Now sew through all layers (quilted fabric, zipper and lining) and DO sew close to the zipper teeth. I should make a note here to tell you that while yes, you can do both those steps as one, it is ever so much easier to do it in two as I’ve outlined them - especially if you are leery of zippers anyway. If you are a pro, well go for it! I know one friend who will go to her serger and put her zipper in with that! (Uh-huh, you know who you are!)

Open the lining out pulling it firmly away from the zipper teeth and top stitch through all layers approximately 1/8” to 3/16” away from the seam. Keep that lining pulled firmly away from the zipper teeth as you sew. All of the seam allowance selvages should be facing to the right under the lining. The zipper will be facing wrong side up and you are sewing on the lining's right side.

Zip the zipper and pin the other side of the zipper to the other end of the rectangle. Once again, your quilted rectangle is wrong side out; your zipper and the right side of the rectangle are right sides together.

Sew the edge of the zipper to the edge of the rectangle without unzipping the zipper. Just squish it flat and make sure you don’t catch something under the foot that shouldn’t be caught.

Open the zipper all the way and place the remaining fabric lining block wrong side up over the zipper aligning the edges. Pin the fabric in place and then sew close to the zipper teeth.

Open the lining out flat and top stitch through all layers of seam allowance selvages just as you did for the other side. Keep that lining fabric pulled firmly away from the zipper teeth as you stitch.

Smooth the lining blocks over the wrong side of the quilted rectangle and press each end along the zipper.

Zip the zipper until it is just half way closed.

Open out the lining flat, right sides together, and fold the quilted rectangle in half at the center. Align the lining blocks with each other and the open zipper ends with each other. Pin the open end of the zipper tabs flat against each other to keep them even. Make sure the quilted fabric rectangle is folded neatly and is not off kilter.

The red arrows in the picture below show the stitching path. For best results begin at the zipper and sew to the fold on the quilted fabric side, first one side, then the other. On the lining side begin at the zipper again and sew to the corner, turn and sew toward the middle stopping about 3” away from the center of the lining. Repeat for the other lining side. Use a 3/8" to 1/2" seam allowance.

Don’t worry if you can’t get really close to the zipper. Leaving at least ½” of un-stitched space on both sides of the zipper is just fine and actually helps the case lay nicer when turned right side out. Use your regular sewing foot for this. (Baby Lock owners, that’s your “J” foot.) Depending on the stabilizer you have used for your case it might be hard to begin sewing 1/2" away from the zipper. If that’s the case, begin where you need to; once you have stitched the sides go back and sew TOWARD the zipper so that you can get a little closer. Make sure you back-tack where you begin and send the seams.

Don’t trim the zipper, but do clip the corners a little. 

If you wish, stay-stitch the opening by sewing on the selvage edge of the fabric on each side to help keep it from stretching all out of whack when you turn your case right side out.

Reach inside the opening in the lining and open the zipper all the way. Turn the case right side out. Sew the opening in the lining closed either by hand or with your machine.

Now YOU have a new pretty iPad cover! (Warning - if you show this off, your friends and family are going to be twisting you arm to make them one!)

What’s globbing about next on Stitch Bits? Want to go “under cover” with me? :-) Check back next week and get the scoop. Till then, makes some pretties!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Minute Laundry Bag for Me!

It’s that time again for me, packing my suitcase. At the last minute, as usual, yikes!

And once more I am wishing I had a pretty laundry bag to take with me. I mean, really. It's as if I can't sew or something. My sister in-law, clever girl that she is, made herself one for her travels a long time ago and I am still in a state of envy over that. Hmmm, I thought, what a nice idea. No more plastic bag hotel thingies for my laundry on the way home. Yet here it is again -ANOTHER trip and NO nice, pretty laundry bag for yours truly. Humph.

So what did I do last night in the wee hours? Ha! You guessed it. Just decided I couldn’t wait any longer I was going to make myself a laundry bag right that minute or bust trying.

I needed fast. I wanted pretty. I had five minutes, literally. I stared at my fabric stacks, nope. Then I remembered that I have an, ahem, extensive collection of vintage linens. Among them are some orphan pillowcases. Some a little too well loved to actually be used again. (Okay, some are too pretty to use too, but more on that another time!)

Located my orphan, it is a printed floral cotton case that has a few tiny stains and that well-washed and many-times-hung-out-to-dry sheen. I got a zipper long enough to go past the end of the case a little. Pinned it to one side, sewed it on.

Pinned it to the other side with the zipper closed so I could be sure it matched and then carefully opened the zipper and sewed that side on.

I flattened the tabs at the top and sewed them down to the case so they would be hidden and lie flat. (Stitching marked in blue in the photo below.) I tucked the long unused end down into the case at the end of the zipper to hide it and neaten up that end.

There done! I have a pretty laundry bag and it’s just what I needed. Pretty and practical and a little bit of home in my suitcase! 

Why a zipper? Well, my suitcase is always over stuffed. I seem to find the challenge of getting a large sized suitcase worth of clothes into a carry-on sized suitcase irresistible for some strange reason. I like the way draw string laundry bags look but I figured that the flatter I could make mine the better it would end up fitting into my suitcase on the way back.

I’m a happy traveler today! Got a new pretty to cheer my trip! I hope you make yourself one too!

Till next time,


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hanging off the Edge!

Hanging off the edge! Most days I’m doing this. Literally. How about you? All I can say is it’s a good thing I have sharp pointy things I can stab in place and hang on to – ha!

Well, I do like to live on the edge, what can I say?  :-)

Okay, enough silliness, let’s talk about finishing those edges. Nothing is quite a nice as a prettily finished edge. It’s like the cherry on the sundae – a little extra touch that may not really be necessary but sure is pretty and makes you go “oh wow, that’s nice!”

I’ve always been in love with couching yarn, embroidery floss, baby cording and other fun stuff right at the edge of things. Fuzzy stuff, like this fuzzy yarn:

That’s a needle felted silk letter holder. I used some of the fuzzy yarn when creating the needle felted silk fabric for the project and when I constructed the holder the edge just looked too, well, hard. It needed softening. Couching more fuzzy yarn right on the edge did the trick. I used my clear open toe foot and a long zigzag stitch. I set the width of the zigzag just enough to catch the yarn to the edge but not so wide I’d see it.

My trunk show samples get a lot of love. This little baby boy vest sports a needle felted teddy on the front and back. The vest is made from felted wool so the edge was nice and clean, but I knew that with my travels it would become worn eventually so I wanted something on the edge that would add a little protection and a bit of sweetness.

I used a blanket stitch to couch embroidery floss in a color that matched the vest to all of the cut edges. Those edges are still holding up after several years of playtime!

So when I began to construct my latest Sashiko project (a purse) I found myself disappointed that I couldn’t hold my mouth quite right to Sashiko flip-stitch yarn “in-the-ditch” around my purse flap. I love how that edge looks. It makes the prettiest little wavy faux piping! (More about that in a later blog, I promise!) The corners of the flap were just too sharp to lay flat enough to accommodate that technique. Drat.

I did the purse flap my old fashioned way, using my open toe clear foot just because I was used to doing that – I mean, that foot will let you do ANYTHING. Here’s what the flap looked like when I was done. I used the blanket stitch with a width of 3.5 and length of 4 on my Baby Lock Ellegante. My yarn is cotton sock weight.

Well, that was fun but I’m finding that the older I get the more “help” I’m hunting to get stuff done. (That has nothing to do with fading mental ability, ahem, but rather with the urgent thought that I will never live long enough to do everything I want to do so let’s find a faster was to do this!) Then I remembered all the wonderful feet I have for my Baby Lock machines and wondered if one of those might just make this job easier. So I set out to test them all. I tried the cording foot and the braiding foot and pretty much every other foot in my box that looked like a possibility. The cording foot is pretty cool actually, and it worked nicely for this application. I don’t know what your machine’s cording foot looks like, but my Baby Lock cording foot (BL accessory #ESG-CF3) has a place for three cords. There’s actually a little grooved metal bar that holds the cord in place as you stitch. I put the cord in the center groove, set the stitch width at 4 and length at 4. As I had already used the blanket stitch for the purse flap I wanted to continue that stitch for the strap too. It worked, but I had to put a little tension on the yarn to keep it from folding up under the needle as the machine backed up to take that extra backward stitch. The edging turned out VERY crisp and neat. Nice! However, if I use this foot again I’ll just use a zigzag stitch.

Yet I was still not entirely satisfied. I liked how my open toe foot allowed the yarn to ride softly under the foot so that I could control the tension of it. That resulted in an edge that has more definition – bumps, if you will – where the yarn poked out a bit past the stitching holding it in place. Like a pique edge, sort of!  Then I discovered the felling foot and lookie here, it’s got an open place in the front and the needle opening is wide enough to accommodate a decorative stitch. PLUS, turn it over. SEE - there’s an arched groove on the underside that is just perfect for yarn! (BL accessory #ESG-FF)

This sweet foot made my job so much easier. I had a guide, of sorts, as the opening in the foot front is narrower than the opening of my open toe foot. (No duh, that’s why it’s called OPEN toe, ha!) The grooved arch on the underside is high enough that it didn’t stress my yarn, so it wasn’t stretched like it was with the cording foot, allowing more ease for that pretty notched finish. Here’s a little video.

Okay, that was fun! If I wasn’t already hooked I’d be hooked all over again on “off the edge” fun stuff to do with yarn and stitches!

Happy edging!


P.S. Thank you Mallory of Zede’s Sewing Studio – you clever, talented girl you – for suggesting this as a glob post!

P.S.2 Here’s what that Sashiko flip-stitched edging looks like. Fun eh? Want to hear more?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Scrappy Quilt Part 3

So, got those blocks all sewn together and quilted? Yep – I’m sure you do, heh! Time to finish this baby up.

This part is one of those “favorite/not favorite at all” parts for me. It’s my favorite because this is the home stretch which means I’m ALMOST DONE! And it’s my not favorite because it requires bias binding and mitering corners. (Might be why most of my quilts have rounded edges – ha!) Okay, I’ll admit. I CAN miter corners and it’s NOT that hard. It’s just that I have to THINK about it while I do it. Yeah. Most days that’s a problem, you hear me?

First thing you need to do is square up your quilted quilt. Make sure the sides are true, straight and even. I like to do this by picking the longest, straightest looking side and lining it up on my big work table’s cutting mat. I pick a line on the mat and line the edge of my quilt with it. Then I trim away any bits that stray over the edge of the line with a ruler and rotary cutter. That side becomes my base from which I can make sure the other three edges are straight. All quilters have their own formula – I’m sure you do too, so go for it.

Next thing you need to do is cut the bias binding. I like to sew mine on single layer with a ½” seam allowance and I like my binding to be about ½” finished. So that means I cut my bias 2” wide plus a hair. Measure around your quilt and add about 12” to see how much you’ll need. Cut the bias and sew the strips together to make one long continuous piece.

If you have a smallish piece of fabric you might consider cutting it like this:

Then place the triangle pieces next to each other like this and sew together on the straight grain edge:

You now have one larger piece from which to cut bias strips which means you have less bias strips to sew together.

Since I am using a ½” seam allowance I measure down and over exactly ½” at each corner and make a dot with a water soluble marker. This is a great big help with those mitered corners – drat them.

I begin sewing the bias on somewhere toward one corner of the bottom of the quilt – not at a corner – a good foot at least away. Leave about a 12” or so bias tail free past where you begin sewing. Sew to one corner and stop exactly at the dot you marked there and back tack.

Turn the quilt so that the seam you just stitched is at the top as you are looking at it. (Like the photo below) Now fold up the bias so that it is heading straight up, vertically aligned with the right edge of the quilt. Make a triangle fold as shown in the photo below.

Next, fold the bias strip straight down, aligning it vertically with the right side of the quilt. Fold the bias at the top edge of the quilt, aligned horizontally as shown below. The fold should be just a hair past the actual edge of the quilt. (You might want to experiment with that until you find the right hair.) Stick a pin through the bias into the marked corner point.

Start sewing again right at the dot, where the pin is. Take two or three stitches and back tack a little bit then continue to sew to the next corner. Repeat the same steps as above for all four corners.

Don’t sew into the triangle fold of the bias. That is important. But do try to sew as close as you can to where the previous seam ended, right at the marked corner point.

When you are about 12” or so from where you began applying the bias, stop sewing. Take the quilt to your work table. Overlap the bias strips so that there is at least 3” of overlapping bias where they meet. Finger press or iron (over) a 3/8” seam allowance on the top bias piece as shown below. Then draw a line at the fold of the seam allowance onto the bias strip below it. Draw this immediately next to the seam allowance fold.

Trim away the excess bias strip underneath leaving 3/8” selvage past the line you just marked.

Pin the two bias pieces together and sew with a 3/8” seam allowance. Press the seam allowance open.

Voila! You have sewn the bias onto your quilt’s edge and it’s continuous! No weird bumps or unsightly lumps where the bias meets end to end. Smooth and pretty – isn’t that nice?

Now go eat a piece of chocolate and drink a cuppa tea.

Next we are ready to fold, pin and hand sew the bias to the quilt back. (You might choose to sew it on with a sewing machine; I won’t judge you, ahem.)

Fold the bias over the corners. Your corners should look like the photo below on the right side of the quilt as you ease that extra bit over them. Remember that fold you made? This is where you’ll find out if you stitched into it or not. (Dread not the seam ripper – it’s your friend, really. REALLY!)

On the wrong side of the quilt you will need to create another miter. So this is what you do. Wrap the bias over the quilt edge, making the folded edge of the bias meet flush against the quilt’s raw edge on one side of the quilt up toward the corner. Flatten the bias open on the other side of the up toward the quilt corner. See the triangle it makes?

Fold under the raw edges of the bias ½” on the right (folded over the edge side) of the quilt. Carefully keep that triangle neat. Now fold down the left side of the bias over the raw edge of the quilt and fold under the selvage edge until the fold rests on the seam and pin in place. Your corner should now look like this:

Check out the front again. Does it still look like this?

Okay, now you are ready to, fold, tuck, corner and pin the bias all the way around.

Slip stitch the bias along the folded edge on the wrong side of the quilt. Your needle will be sliding through the quilt under the folded edge of the bias, picking up one tiny bit of the bias edge at the fold for one stitch. Then you put the needle back in the quilt right where it came out on the bias and slide the needle forward to take another tiny stitch on the bias. Slip and stitch! More chocolate and tea helps this process along.

When you get to the corner you can take a few close-together slip stitches along the mitered fold to keep it neat and tidy.

Bring the needle through to the right side of the quilt (and bias) and stitch the mitered fold there too.

Poke the needle back through to the wrong side right on the inside edge of the bias at the corner point.

Keep on going till you are finished.

Woot! You ARE DONE!!!! Do the happy dance and go show off your pretty new Scrappy Quilt!

Join me again week and see what mischief we can get up to next!

Till then – happy stitching!


P.S. I think my grandson will look absolutely adorable drooling on this, what say you?