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)
14" x 18" of Soft and Stable foam from
Variegated quilting thread
Sewing thread
Trims as desired (rick-rack, pompoms, yarn for couching)
FREE downloadable 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. 😊 

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.

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

Stash-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! Scroll down to find the video "Pencil Pusher.")
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! If you'd like a demo of that, click HERE to find and view the video titled "Slip, slip stitching away!"

Attach the tie to the headband by tying a square knot. Watch the video "Square Knot Fabric Bow" (found on THIS page) 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

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ruffle Up Baby Bonnet, an Embellisher project!

Who can resist a fluffy, ruffly bonnet around a sweet baby face? Definitely not me! I made these bonnets a long time before Baby Kate arrived, but just recently rediscovered them while cleaning out a bunch of old trunk show treasures. So glad Baby Kate doesn’t mind modeling! The raw edged silk organza ruffles are created with a Baby Lock  Embellisher. Coolest way ever to make ruffles!

I found my pattern, too. If you would like to download it, click here. There are no instructions, just the pattern pieces in PDF form for you to print. But follow along with this blog post and I’ll give you the basics for ruffling, embroidering, and constructing if you’d like to make ruffled bit of pretty for your own wee one.

You do not have to add embroidery, but it sure does make the bonnet extra special! I used roses from my Petites collection - click here to see it. 

First of all, I traced my bonnet pattern onto my fabric. (I find it easier to do the embroidery on big pieces of fabric rather than cut-out, smaller shapes.) I marked lines for my needle felted ruffles on both pieces, straight on the bonnet side and curved around the shape of the bonnet back as shown below.

Next I stabilized the fabric and embroidered the rose designs, centering the back group in the middle of the bonnet back and centering lines of roses between the bottom two marked lines on the bonnet side as shown above. Once the embroidery was finished I removed the stabilizer and cut out the pieces and stay stitched both pieces 1/4" from the raw edge. Then I cut several nice long strips of bias cut silk organza 2” wide each for the ruffles. It takes about twice the length of fabric to create a ruffle for needle felting.

(Note: If you are using very fine fabric for your bonnet, you may need to stabilize the fabric before felting the ruffles and sewing them down with the motif stitching. Soft tear-away or Baby Lock's No Show Mesh will work fine. If you use this for your embroidery you can leave it in place as you apply the ruffles. The excess stabilizer should be removed before construction.)

If you happen to have a 7 needle Baby Lock Embellisher, just get right to it and needle felt the strips of silk organza along your marked lines. If you have a 12 needle Embellisher, you may wish to remove all but the first 3 needles right in the center at the front of the head. (This is easiest done by removing the head and then removing the needles. You can use all 12 needles, but you probably should cut your bias strips slightly wider.) Hold the ruffle gently and guide it over the marked lines, taking care not to stretch it length-ways. Encourage it toward the felting needles; don’t hold back on it. Nice thing about ruffling with the Embellisher is that if you mess up, whiffft! Pull it up and put in a new one, just like that!

After completing my ruffles, I stitched down the center of each one – on top of the needle felted path – with a nice wide, pretty heirloom motif stitch and matching embroidery thread. That made the ruffles permanent. 

I had already marked the center back of both the bonnet back and side fabric pieces for lining up my embroidery; if you haven’t, you might want to do that now.

I sewed the bonnet back lining and ruffled bonnet back piece together at the lower edge, carefully keeping the ruffles lying open and flat at the edge. Next I created a 3/8" casing and cut a 6” piece of elastic, sewed it at one side, and pulled up the elastic until there was 3” excess elastic hanging out. Then I stitched through the elastic and fabric to secure it at the side and clipped off the excess.

Next I stitched the those two bonnet back pieces together around the outside about ¼” from the edge. They are facing wrong sides together. 

I decided to create my own embroidered fabric for the front ruffle by stitching a scalloped satin stitch motif and a lacy rose motif (chosen from my Baby Lock Ellisimo's on-board motif stitch selections) along a straight piece of silk organza stabilized with wash-away stabilizer. When finished stitching, I trimmed away the excess past the scalloped satin stitched edge, soaked out the stabilizer, and – when dry – trimmed the ruffle to 2.5” wide. It was a snap to needle felt this ruffle onto the front edge of the bonnet, but one could also just gather it and sew it by machine as well. Narrow rolled hems finish the ruffle ends.

So, the back is complete; now I needed to sew the side lining and ruffled fabric together. Keeping the ruffles lying as flat as possible at the edges and OUT of the seam allowance areas at the front corners, I stitched the lining to the ruffled side fabric piece (right sides together) along the two short ends and across the front, enclosing the added front ruffle in the seam. This seam began ½” away from the back edge. After stitching I trimmed the seam allowance selvage to about ¼” everywhere except at those ½” bits at the back edges. Then I clipped the corners, turned right side out, and pressed along the seam. (Helpful hint - Check those ruffles inside before you trim! Make sure they are not caught where they shouldn't be.)

This piece is now open at the back. Next I pinned the back edge of the ruffled fabric side piece (only, not the lining too) to the lined bonnet back piece.

After sewing those two pieces together, I trimmed the seam allowance selvage to about ¼”. (Check those ruffles again before you trim!)

If you stand on your head a bit, you can flip the lining up over the ruffled fabric at the bottom back edges and sew right sides together for a short way and then turn under and pin the rest. This will help keep the bottom ends neat. If you don’t want to stand on your head, simply fold under the seam allowance selvage of the bonnet side lining, pin over the seam where the back bonnet joins the side bonnet, and hand sew to secure.

All that’s left is to sew on some ribbon ties. I made a little loop on one end of my ribbon and whipped it in place on both front bottom edges.

Tah-da! A really ruffly baby bonnet! Here's a pink version on my dear niece's baby girl, isn't she precious!

And here's a photo of the finished bonnet on a stand. You can see the detailing a bit better.

So, grab your Baby Lock Embellisher and get ruffling! You won't believe how fast it can do that!