Thursday, December 13, 2018

Merry Christmas Bunting

It’s the most sew-y-ist time of the year! This is when I have a long, long list of projects and a very short amount of time left in which to make them. Sound familiar? Yep. So, yay for quick projects, right?!

Here’s a super quick Merry Christmas bunting for you. Click HERE to find the designs used in this one, but feel free to substitute any suitable designs that you may already have in your stash. You’ll need some letters, preferably just outline. (If you don’t have bean stitch outlined letters you can always use the first stitch sequence of appliqué lettering - just stitch it twice so it will show up!) And you’ll need some festive motifs.

Click HERE to find the Happy Day Motifs. Lots of cute things in there you could use to make other buntings too for a variety of occasions! Click HERE to find bunches of sweet bean stitch designs, many of which are very suitable for free-standing cut-outs for buntings too.

Click HERE to find lots more bean stitch lettering. If curvy isn’t your style, there are also block and knobby letters!

Gather your supplies. You’ll need good felt. I highly recommend rayon/wool felt. Visit Prairie Point Junction for a great selection. You’ll need a nice firm stabilizer if you want to conserve felt and use just one layer for your bunting pieces. I like Pellon #926 Very Firm as it’s soft but very, very firm, just like it says. So it’s easy to cut but plenty sturdy for projects like this. If you have a cut-away that you really like, by all means use that. Pick out the thread you plan to use, keeping in mind that you want the stitching to show up. So if you are sewing green on green, like for the holly motif, choose a darker shade of green thread than the felt color. I love using regular sewing thread for felt projects. My two favorite brands for this are Madeira’s Aerofil or Cotona and Maxi-Lock Swirls. Variegated is so pretty for letter outlines!

Find a pair of nice sharp scissors with short, curved blades. Click HERE to see my favorite Snips. I love them for projects like this! You’ll also need a nice sharp pair of scissors with short, straight blades like my squeeze handle Fiskars.

Rayon/wool felt is more expensive than acrylic craft felt, but oh my, so much nicer! You can conserve felt for a project like this by hooping one layer of very firm cut-away and then placing a felt block (cut larger than the design area) on top.

Or you can hoop one layer of felt and then place another on top and sew your design through both layers. If you choose to use this method, you can make your bunting pieces neat and pretty on the wrong side by sewing all the inside detailing of the motifs – if there is any – first, then adding a second layer of felt to the wrong side of the hoop before sewing the outline of the motif. Use the same color and type of thread in the top and bobbin for that outline and your piece will be lovely on both sides!

You can also use two different colors of felt like I did for my snowflake. I wanted that white snowflake to stand out, so I backed it with aqua blue felt and then trimmed away the felt around the snowflake outline stitching.

If you choose to conserve felt and hoop stabilizer, trim away the excess stabilizer by cutting as close to the stitching line as possible.

Do this before you cut out the motif.

Cut out the motif leaving a nice selvage edge past the outline stitching.

Add pompoms, beads or buttons to the holly leaves for berries. I love to use my Sulky Petites cotton thread for sewing on buttons! It’s such a nice sturdy thread which is awesome for hand embroidery and great for things like buttons too.

Once you have finished stitching and cutting out all of the letters and motifs, audition them on your tabletop to see how they should line up.

I’ve had some of YLI’s hand dyed cotton braid in my stash for some time. This is the coolest cord as it’s beautiful and strong and packed so neatly on spools! Not to mention that it’s made in the USA, pretty close to me! So choose something for your cording. If you can insert the cord into the eye of a needle, you can sew it to the wrong side of your letters and motifs. Be careful to sew to just the back layer of felt or stabilizer. Sewing it on is preferable, I think, because then you can slide the pieces on the cord to move them if you need to later. Otherwise, use fabric glue to glue the pieces to ribbon or cord of your choice. Make sure you leave plenty for hanging up! (I love Beacon Fabri-Tac Permanent Adhesive for projects like this. It’s like hot glue in a bottle, but better! It's washable and doesn’t dry hard.)

Make sure to place each letter and motif so that they will hang evenly when hung up. I pinned them on the cord to see where they needed to be in order to hang correctly before I sewed.

There, done! Go hang up your pretty bunting - and Merry Christmas, y’all!


Want more bunting and banner how-to's? Click HERE to visit the Telafante blog, she's got lots of fun stuff. Scroll through all her older posts, there's several different bunting and banner ideas!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Nancy Zieman - The Rest of the Story by Richard Zieman Blog Tour

I started and then deleted the opening paragraph to this blog post umpteen times. Sometimes the really important things to say can’t be expressed in words because they are better felt than “telt.” So, I’m just going to say this: This blog post is about Richard Zieman’s book, The Rest of the Story, a memoir of his wife Nancy Zieman. And you need to read it.

It is a very great privilege to be part of the “Nancy Zieman– The Rest of The Story” book blog tour. I wish I could say that I knew Nancy well personally. But like many of you, I knew her through our shared love of all things sewing and was lucky enough to have been at a few events with her. And yet, like most of you who have ever met and spoken to her in person, I feel like I did know her because she just had the ability to make everyone around her feel “known” and valued.

The very first time I got to meet Nancy in person, we were standing in a kitchen off the stage at an event where I had a little demo to do and she was the key-note speaker. I was nervous as could be, having never been on a Great Big Stage with a Great Big Name coming after me, eek! She struck up a conversation and told me how much she liked my skirt. I was so dumbfounded that she knew my name and (being the sewing professional that she was) liked my skirt; I’m not sure how I responded – hopefully with “thank you!” Looking back, I’m pretty sure she recognized my nervousness and was setting about to calm me down in her gentle, kind way. That’s just who she was.

This book was a bittersweet read for me because I attended events at which Nancy was speaking during the time that Richard writes about, detailing the very great physical hurdles she faced just to get to and then through those events. Her courage, faith and strength shine through his words as beacons of light for all of us. Now I am doubly thankful that I had those opportunities… seeing grace in action is such a blessing, both humbling and uplifting. It is something I will forever treasure and hope to apply the lessons of to my own life.

So, all I can say is read the book. You will be glad you did. It will uplift you and encourage you, just like Nancy would have wanted. 

Thanks for reading...

P.S. Here’s the link to buy the book. For a chance to win a copy of The Rest of the Story courtesy of Nancy Zieman Productions, be sure to read the post at this link. You’ll also find the links to all the posts for this blog tour there…so worth reading, read them all! Leave comments, I'd love to read them too!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Time for Tea - "Petite Treat" Fabric by The Cottage Mama from Riley Blake Designs Blog Tour Projects!

“Petite Treat” fabric collection by Lindsay Wilkes from the Penny Rose fabric division of Riley Blake Designs

Lindsay Wilkes, “The Cottage Mama”, has done it again with her latest precious fabric line from Penny Rose Fabrics of Riley Blake Designs! I’ve had so much fun making pretties with this adorableness, as you can see. In fact, this set inspired a whole new set of machine embroidery designs because I really, really “needed” to make my granddaughter a tea time table topper and the works…

That cheery little dollie print was just too cute to cut up. It made such a cheerful tablecloth edged with rickrack trim! And of course a topper embroidered with my Tiny Tea designs and napkins to coordinate were a must from the tiny stripes.

And Kate needed a new dress, of course! That blue and white stripe trimmed with the wee floral - oh my, how sweet a combination!

Don't you just LOVE ruffles? I’ve got to make her more dresses with sleeve ruffles. They are so much fun and really easy to make! And pockets make everything perfect. (Did you know you can make pockets in the hoop? Click HERE to learn about my online class at "The Sewing Collection" for this fun technique and so much more.)

Know what else I love? Those pretty little motif stitches we never seem to know what to do with on our fancy sewing machines. My Baby Lock Destiny has so many I haven’t even tested them all yet, but this one is a favorite already. It looks like a tiny, tightly stitched star, almost like a candlewick. It's so fun to add pretty touches so easily with my Baby Lock machines and their onboard motifs!
Superior Thread's King Tut made the motif stitching so pretty. I also love Sulky's variegated rayon for embroidery. Check out that kitty- looks like a real striped tabby, doesn't it!

Click HERE to find these Tiny Tea embroidery designs. This set includes all the designs you see on these projects, and more too.

And Des needed a new shirt because it turns out little boys like kitties just as much as little girls do… and this Gramma, too... I need a shirt with kitty fabric!

I used Pintucks & Petticoats “Luke” shirt pattern by Paige Alexander for the little chambray shirt. (The chambray fabric is from Organic Cotton Plus.) I love that little touch of "sweet pop" on the pocket and under the button placket, don’t you? (I had to do a pattern hack to make the placket with the kitty fabric – stay tuned, I’ll blog about that hack soon!)

And check out the Baby Lock Sashiko stitching - the perfect finishing touch!

So, y’all ready for tea time? I know I am!

More to come! There are just so many neat little tricks that I love to use when sewing children’s garments, and these outfits gave me the opportunity to use a lot of them. Would you like to read about them?
  Okay! I’ve divided the tips into three additional blog posts which will be coming soon: "How to clean line a little girl's dress bodice", "How to make a zipper dress into a button dress", and "Tips for sewing little boy shirts." Sign up for the Stitch Bits blog post via email and you’ll get them all delivered right to your inbox when they debut! (Sign up box is above, on the right.)

Thanks for reading, come back soon!


Children's photos taken by Lydia Maria Hawkins of Telafante. Click HERE to visit her awesome tutorial website!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Beautiful Buttonholes!

Don’t you love it when you have an “Ah HA!” moment and discover something that fixes that thing that's been bugging you in your sewing adventures? YES, you do? Well, I had a major "Ah HA!" moment this year and it has been an awesome discovery: how to make my buttonholes look really, really good - crisp, clean and super sturdy!

I’ve loved the buttonhole foot attachment that has come with each of my Baby Lock sewing machines and I've used them faithfully for years. I love how easy this sweet little foot makes the job of sewing buttonholes! However, I’ve always had a beef with the buttonholes as I just didn’t feel the stitching was close enough. I wanted a REALLY tight zigzag, no fabric showing through at all. Yeah, I know that may not be practical, but that’s what I wanted anyway. Sometimes on very special garments I would resort to... *gasp* …hand sewing a buttonhole in. (Yes, I'm that crazy!)

Lo and behold, I recently discovered that my buttonhole attachment has a cording guide on the bottom so you can add cording to your buttonholes while you sew them! Oh. My. Goodness. This has been a game changer. Now I love ALL my machine sewing buttonholes.

I mean, look at this:

And this:

And this:

Perfect coverage! Nicely packed, very sturdy and neat little buttonholes, woo-hoo!

So, whip out your buttonhole attachment and turn it over.

At the front you should see two little grooves that form a sort of hook and a more obvious hook at the back on the very end. In the plastic part that glides within the attachment as you sew and under the front part of the attachment itself there should be two sets of grooves. Those are the cording grooves that help hold the cord in place as you buttonhole over it.

I found that when I was using fine cording like 12 wt cotton thread (Sulky’s Petite cotton thread is perfect for this), the cord stayed just fine inside those grooves.

Then I discovered that embroidery floss was exceptionally suited for making the buttonholes even nicer, and I had a supply of that in every color of the rainbow, yay! However, it had a tendency to jump out of the grooves while stitching. I fixed that by applying a bit of tape to the tip of the foot. Just make sure the tape is wrapped around the foot at the front a bit so it won’t catch on anything while you work. You can see in the photo below how the tape helps to hold that thicker cord in the grooves at the front.

Here’s how you load it: First put your button in the button holder part. Cut a length of cord that is twice as long as the attachment with the button in place, plus about 6”. Fold the cord in half. Hook the halfway point over the hook in the back and pull the cords across the bottom to the front, being sure to press the cord into both sets of grooves. Keep it taut while you bring the cord to the front of the foot and tie it snugly at the front hook on top of the attachment. Put the foot on the machine and sew the buttonhole.

When finished, raise the foot, clip the cord at the front of the foot at the knot (if you need to) and tug the cord out of the hook on the back. Once the cord is free from the foot you can easily remove the fabric.

If the stitching did not extend into the cord, you should be able to pull the cord from the bottom of the buttonhole until the loop at the top is tucked slightly under the top end of the buttonhole. Then just clip off the excess cord at the bottom. This pretty much only works when using skinny and very taut cord. Embroidery floss… not so much; you’ll need to clip it off at the top and bottom. Clip carefully - you don’t want to cut into buttonhole. Use those curved snips!

You’ll find that using heavier weight threads in the top of the machine will create much better coverage than your average sewing thread. I love Sulky’s 30 wt thread for buttonholes. I use a size 16 top stitching needle and regular sewing thread in the bobbin that matches the color on top. Sometimes, though, you just WANT to use a pretty decorative thread like our 40 wt. embroidery thread. It’s nice and shiny and sometimes you need a shiny thread, right? Here’s a handy little trick for those of you with machines that have that extra spool holder on top. Load up both of them with the same thread, thread the machine as if it were a single strand... and voila! Your 40 wt. thread has now become 20 wt.!

There’s just something so satisfying about really neat buttonholes!

May all your buttonhole projects be awesome! Happy Stitching!


Find the Happy Hedgie embroidery designs HERE and find the Wildflower Friends (floral frame design) HERE. Stitch up some pretty pillows with beautiful buttonholed backs!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Whip Up a Wall Hanging!

Whip up a FAST wall hanging using in-the-hoop quilted, pieced, stippled and/or embroidered block designs! This is my hands-down favorite way to finish up a quick wall hanging. All of A Bit of Stitch's in-the-hoop quilt block designs will work for this type of project - click HERE to view them! You can use more than two blocks too if you want! Just add more sashing strips to join the blocks in the centerpiece, easy as that! The size and number of blocks determine the size of the finished wall hanging. The wall hanging shown above is 19" x 14" - a really nice size for my foyer wall. 😊

I added some sewn-in-the-hoop fabric flowers to this version and a scattering of fun buttons from my button stash! Click here to see the "Pretty Posy" design set - more flower options that are perfect for quilted projects.

Are you ready to whip up a wall hanging?

1. Stitch two same-sized quilt block designs. (They only need to be the same size in the dimension where you plan to join them.) For this sample I used the 9.5 x 14 flag block design from the Old Glory set and the 9.5 x 14 Welcome to my Roost farm block design. 

2. Trim the finished blocks leaving 1/4” selvage past the block outlines.

3. Cut strips of 1.25” straight grain sashing. You will need three pieces that are at least the width of the trimmed blocks and two pieces that are at least the length. For this sample, the same fabric that was used for the Welcome scene was also used for the strip joining the two blocks.

4. Join the two blocks together with one strip. Use 3/8” (or just slightly more than a 1/4") seam allowance. Once both blocks are joined together, the selvage edges of the blocks should support the sashing fabric nicely. There should be no gap between the two blocks under the sashing, as shown in the photo above.

5. Sew two short strips of sashing to the top and bottom of the joined blocks, once again with a 3/8” seam allowance. Press the strips away from the seam on the right side. Sew the remaining two long strips to the left and right of the joined blocks. Press the strips away from the seam on the right sides once again.

6. Measure the finish sashed top. Cut a piece of backing fabric the exact same size. If you wish, add a hanging rod sleeve to the backing fabric before joining it to the pieced top.

Or make rod pockets instead of a sleeve! To do so, cut squares of fabric (4” squares worked great for this 9.5 x 14 block project) and press in half to form triangles. Place them at the upper corners of the backing fabric with the folded edge facing down/inward as shown in the photo above on the right. (A friend brought this idea to my attention on Instagram; it was originally posted by @elnorac - go check out her photos on IG! So many great ideas!)

7. Place the backing fabric piece and sashed project top right sides together. The pockets will be sandwiched in between as shown above.
8. Sew together from the sashed top side. To do so, align the left side of the presser foot of your machine with the selvage edge of the blocks. (Baby Lock owners: Use your J foot and put the needle in the left position. Other machine owners: Use your regular sewing foot and, if possible, put the needle in the left position. If it is not possible to move the needle to the left, you may need to use a narrower foot.)

9. Sew all around the project, leaving an opening for turning at the bottom edge.

Tip! Instead of pivoting to turn the corner, just sew right off the edge. Then line the foot up again on the next side and sew from the edge straight across the corner and continue the seam as shown above.

10. Stay stitch the opening selvage edges.

11. Clip the corners before turning your wall hanging right side out. Turn right side out, push out the corners gently, and press well. Hand sew or fuse the opening closed with fusible web tape.

Looks like "real" binding, doesn't it?! But it sure is easier than folding it over and worrying about getting the corners right!
Cut a wooden dowel to fit the back and insert the ends into the pockets (or into the sleeve). Now you can hang up your wall hanging with a simple push pin or thumbtack in the wall. (Oh, and no need for a saw... you CAN cut a 3/8" wooden dowel down to size by scoring it with old scissors and snapping it carefully on the score. Then bang the ragged cut end against something hard like concrete, and that will smooth it right up.)

I hope you enjoy this super easy way to finish quilted-in-the-hoop designs into pretty wall hangings!

Thanks for reading!

Easy Piece-y blocks finished with this technique. It works for single blocks too! I sewed rings to the top of the birdy block and inserted a twig from my backyard for a hanger. 😊