Sunday
Mar092014

for the love of reading

This past Christmas was the first time I failed to put handmade gifts under the tree for my daughters.  Of course they are always very forgiving of their mother, but I was quite upset with myself.  So I worked hard in the days following to make up for it.

Part of the reason I didn't make anything was because I didn't know what to make.  Sometimes I get so crippled with indecision.  My brain goes 'round and 'round thinking, "I could make this, or I could make this, or I could make this ..."  Ugh.  So frustrating.  But it was a novel - from Santa, ironically enough - that inspired this book cover for my 12 year old. 

I'd never made a fabric book cover before - I was quite proud of myself for thinking to add a built-in ribbon bookmark - and it was refreshing to exercise my often neglected hand applique skills.  I'd like to tell you that the half-dresdan was purely a design choice.  But if I'm being perfectly honest, it was a calculated decision - it only took half the time to make and applique in place.  ;)

She loves it.  It turned out so well, in fact, that I went to work straight away on the second one for her little sister.  I'll show it to you soon ... when she remembers to bring it home from school.

Friday
Mar072014

little blessings giveaway

One of my favourite online sources for pretty fabric - Shabby Fabrics - has an adorable Block of the Month Club of wall hangings called Little Bessings.  Each month’s block is available as a kit, a pattern or part of the 12-month club. (Advantage to signing up for the club is that you receive free shipping worldwide.)  The club started in December but you can still sign up for it.

The kit includes these awesome laser cut applique pieces.  If you've never used laser cut applique pieces, I recommend giving them a try.  They make assembly precise and super quick.  If you like machine applique you will love these - no tracing, no cutting, no pinning ... none of the usual fussing about with all that regular piece preparation stuff.

I had my little Pink Ribbon banner put together in an afternoon and then hand stitched the binding in front of the tv that evening.  Done, done and DONE!

This Pink Ribbon design is not part of the 12-month club but is available individually as a kit or pattern.   And 100% of the proceeds from this design are donated to breast cancer research.

Now I have two chances for you to win this sweet little Pink Ribbon kit.  Leave me a comment (not an email) stating why you'd make the best recipient and then also tell me what you would do with it if you won (make it, keep it, gift it, donate it ...).  The first winner will be selected by a random number generator and the second winner will be chosen by Shabby Fabrics based on the comment.  International entries are welcome!

If you have any questions or would like more information about Shabby Fabrics fundraising efforts, please contact jessie@shabbyfabrics.com.

This giveaway ends Thursday March 13th and I will announce both winners the following week.  Good luck to you all!  Happy weekend. :)

Monday
Mar032014

what do you get when you cross pinterest with pink strawberry fabric?

After I made the first pencil case with this Pinterest photo tutorial, I adjusted my template and tried again.

Perfect!  I really like how the binding sits.

But do you think that when I showed my daughters they said, "Oh Mummy, that's really pretty!  But we have absolutely no interest in having our own so please do not make one for each of us."?

You know where this is going, don't you.

*     *     *     *     *

Congratulations to Linda Halcomb, winner of the macaron kit from The Cloth Parcel!

Thursday
Feb272014

a zakka needlebook

Sigh.

Finally!

I finally made myself a needlebook. 

Why do I wait so long to make things that I really want to make?  I dunno.

When my dear Amy posted her needlebook tutorial a few years ago I fell head over heels in love with her design.  And I'm not the only one because they popped up all over blogland, Flickr & Pinterest.  I don't think there's a single Needlebook Pinterest board that does not have at least one book inspired by Amy.  My favourite thing about them is the way she does the inside.  Seriously cute. 

In fact, it was the lovely tape measure ribbon a friend gave me (Hi Greg!) that inspired my colour choices.  As you can see, that tape is pretty much the only colour because after several tries to match/coordinate it with fabric from my stash, I realized it wanted to be the star attraction of my little book.  So I went with a very neutral backdrop of linen, pearl & white.

By the way, I totally cheated with the buttons.  I wasn't in the mood to sew them on neatly so I simply wrapped floss thru the holes and then glued the faux-stitched buttons in place.  Shhh.

So.  Have you made an "Amy" needlebook yet?  If not, you totally should.  Perhaps this weekend?

Tuesday
Feb252014

curves pouch

This little pouch (measuring 5 3/4" x 6") was a delight to make from the first stitch to the last.  It's another Yoko Saito project from her 120 Original Embroidery Designs book - which is now available in English!

I've made many pouches and cases over the years, but the construction of this one intrigued me, especially this type of zipper installation which I'd never done before.  Can't say it's my favourite method - not a fan of hand-stitching a zipper in place - but it does make for a very pretty finish.

I was proud of myself for using some of my best fabrics for the back side AND the lining (I often use my "I'm not so in love with you anymore" fabrics for linings, but not this time.)

And I cannot tell you how happy I was to have finally found a use for that little pink ruffled trim.  It's been in my stash for ages.  In fact, you can see it in my banner photo up top there - it's that little pink rolled up thing that is only partly visible on the right side.  I took that photo 3 years ago.  :)

Sunday
Feb232014

macaron tutorial & giveaway

So.  How long have I been meaning to write a tutorial for this cutest ever little macaron kit?  Too long.  But I finally got down to business and wrote it because The Cloth Parcel wants to give a kit away to one of you!  I'm very excited about this. :)

Ok.  For starters, this kit is cute cute cute.  I bought four for myself a "while" ago.  This is the second I've made and now I can hardly wait to make the other two.

Here's what comes in the kit:

You will also need a sharp needle with an eye big enough to thread 2 plies of embroidery floss and thread scissors.  I also recommend white embroidery floss, but it isn't necessary.

The kit comes with instructions, but they are not in English.  The graphics are pretty clear, but if you need a little more explanation, this tutorial will help. 

One other thing - this macaron is assembled entirely by hand.  All the sewing is done with the colored embroidery floss that comes in the kit.  I always separated one ply of floss, folded it in half, threaded the ends and knotted the loop for all my sewing so I stitched everything with 2 plies (one ply doubled).

Step 1:  To make the first lid, sew a running stitch around the edge of one LARGE felt circle. 

Gather it slightly. 

Divide the wad of stuffing in half.  Set one half aside.  Place the other half of the stuffing onto the cupped felt circle. 

(Note:  If you want the inside of your macaron to be a little puffy, don't use all of the stuffing in this step.  But I like the outside of my macaron to be super puffy so I used all of my stuffing for the outside.  You can always cut a few little circles from scrap quilt batting to fill the inside hollows, if you like.)

Then place a white cardboard circle on top of the stuffing.  Gently pull the running stitch until it is snug.  Tuck the stuffing under the cardboard as best you can.  Secure the running stitch.

Make the second lid.

Step 2:  To make the zipper into the circle shape, first mark the seam line. 

The instructions say to stitch the seam 5mm from the teeth clasp. 

If you work in inches, your seam should be a generous 3/16" from the teeth clasp. 

THIS MEASUREMENT IS VERY IMPORTANT (she said speaking from experience).  If your seam allowance isn't just right, the zipper will not fit properly.

I marked my stitch line with a pen (which will not be seen).

Pin the ends of the zipper (right sides together) and then following the stitch guide in the instructions, sew the ends of the zipper together with a backstitch. 

NOTE:  This step is where I would recommend using white floss.  It's not necessary, but it does make your seam invisible from the outside.

Step 3:  Sew a running stitch along both sides of the zipper and gently gather them. 

Step 4:  Slip stitch one lid to each side of the zipper.

Note:  The instructions say to stitch the zipper 3mm (or 1/8") from the teeth.  If you look carefully at the zipper, you will see a woven pattern.  I've drawn a mark along the stitch line.  Try to sew on that line.  And you also want to match up the stitch line on the zipper with the edge of the cardboard circle inside the lid.  You can feel it easily with your fingers.  I know this sounds like a super fiddly thing to do, but it will make a difference in the finish. 

Step 5: Slip stitch one small felt circle to the inside of one lid.  (This is where you can add a bit more stuffing if you like.)

Tip:  Fold the teeth back towards the outside to make it easier to sew.

Repeat for the other side.

Step 6:  Attach the beads and ribbon. 

You're all done!  Super cute. :)

I'm going to use my macaron as a scissor fob.  It's the perfect size to hold a bobbin of thread for binding, English paper piecing, hand quilting, ... ... ...  Plus the colour of the felt matches some of the flowers on my scissors.  I know you get how awesome that is!

I will put a link to this tutorial in the Tutorials & Free Patterns link in my navigation bar at the top of this page so you will always be able to find it.

If you'd like to win a macaron kit, please pop over to The Cloth Parcel by clicking here to see all the available colors for this kit.  Then come back here and leave a comment (not an email) telling me which macaron color is your favourite.  This giveaway closes Sunday March 2nd and I'll announce the winner Monday the 3rd.  Good luck to you!

 

Friday
Feb212014

pinterest + pamkittypicnic = happiness

Do you ever accidentally waste like a colossally huge amount of time find cool ideas on Pinterest?  I do. 

One of the cool things I've found quite a while ago is this pin - a Chinese photo tutorial for a pencil case.  I guess a lot of people are as attracted to it as I am because I see it a LOT. 

It looks like a cute, easy, fun little pencil case, right?  So I thought I'd give it a try.

Not bad. :)

However, what you don't see here is that I had a problem at the start ... no template.  The body of the case is an odd shape with curves and cut-outs.   And unlike this other Chinese Pin Tutorial I used a few weeks back, this one has no measurements at all.

But I can be quite determined when I want something badly enough, so I worked for a while to fashion a template that I thought was about the right shape and size.  When I was sewing the seams together I realized my curves were a bit off so my case is shaped just a wee bit differently than the original, but it still works.

I've adjusted my template and now that I know how it goes together, this pattern is my new popcorn ... I have more coming. :)

PS:  Floral fabric is available here. ;)

Wednesday
Feb192014

stamps are just all kinds of awesome

Novelty prints (hint hint).

I have a weakness for them ... at least the pretty ones ;)  ... which is why I included this love stamp print in my Blogger's Choice Bundle for Fat Quarter Shop.

I think it's especially cute because:

  • a) who doesn't love "love"
  • b) it's got my favourite mix of pinks & aquas with just a bit of red
  • c) the scale is small and
  • d) I collected stamps when I was a kid. 

If you are younger than ... say, 20 years old and reading this, let me just quickly explain that such banal activities as collecting stamp are what we did in the olden days before cell phones and iPads were invented. ;)

(Do people even DO this anymore?)

I remember playing with stamps for hours, sorting and resorting them by country, size, colour, value, subject matter ... I had a few relatives from England (Shropshire) and Switzerland so every once in a while I'd get an envelope full of cancelled stamps from overseas.  Words can't describe how exciting that was.  To this day, there is nothing I don't love about stamps. 

I got really good at soaking them off of the envelopes, too.  I think that was one of my early lessons in patience ... try to pull one off too early and it's ruined.  But wait until you feel it slide free under your finger ... that was pure satisfaction.

Each one is a tiny work of art, framed with that trademark perforated edge.  I love the diminutive portraits of royalty, heads of state, celebrities & historical figures, flora and fauna, commemorative issues ... lovely artwork of paintings, sketches, sculptures ... whatever .. all in colours and sometimes even sets.  Sigh!  Stamps are just all kinds of awesome. :)

This pencil case is based on my pattern - minus the round ends.  And instead of finger tabs on both ends of the zipper I added a longer ribbon wristlet (11" cut) to one end and a short ribbon tab (1.5" cut) to the other.  Kids love that.  This case has the "stamp" of approval from my almost 11 year old.  (Sorry, couldn't stop that one from coming out.)

So in honour of postage stamps and this cute fabric (available here in pink, aqua or white), I'm having a 5-day sale on my Round Pencil Case pattern for 25% off, so you can make one too.  I've already reduced the price in my shop so no code is necessary.  :)

Monday
Feb172014

from bundle to bag

I find it surprisingly hard sometimes to execute "planned scrappy" ... hint hint ;).  Have you ever tried it?  Don't get me wrong, I always love playing with fabric.  But based solely on the look of this bag, you'd have a hard time believing just how long I spent deciding what fabric went where and what size to cut each piece. 

But I've barely made a dent in my Blogger's Choice FQ Bundle with this project.  Hmmm.  What to do, what to do. 

Friday
Feb142014

my kind of pretty & a giveaway

 

Whee!  The pretty bundle I put together for Fat Quarter Shop is now available!  This is a collection of 15 fat quarters - 12 prints and 3 solids - in colours and patterns that make me giddy as a school girl.  I hope you like them.

My jumping off point(s) were these PamKittyPicnic prints.  Love, love, love.

(I may have even accidentally bought an extra 6 yds of this one.  If I were still in my 20's I'd totally make a summer dress with it.)

And I added a few novelty prints that I thought would be fun to fussy cut as labels and tags.  I can see the stamps as a cute pencil case, and the motifs as a fun lining for a bag.

My head is swimming ... no, more like drowning ... in ideas.  I literally have butterflies in my tummy right now just thinking about all the things I want to make.  Quilts?  Bags?  Pillows?  Tags?  Cases?  Mats?  Wee things?  Fun things?  Cute things?

I think it's gonna have to be "all of the above"! :)

Now if you'd like a chance to win my Blogger's Choice bundle, hop over to Fat Quarter Shop by clicking here.  They asked me a few questions and if you can guess what my answers are then you'll be entered to win!  Good luck. :)

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!  xo k

Sunday
Feb092014

hand quilting the curves

Hand quilting.  I've talked about it before. 

But I decided to hand quilt this little project for a few reasons:  it's small, I know it will enhance the embroidery, and most importantly ... THE OLYMPICS ARE ON!!!  I'm quite happy to stitch away as I watch my favourite figure skating pair Tessa and Scott float across the ice.  And cheer on the Dufour-Laporte sisters as they make it to the podium.   I'd never even heard of those awesome girls from Quebec before yesterday, and I haven't got the.slightest.clue about snowboarding.  But that doesn't stop me from getting excited about it and feeling very proud of my country's athletes! 

National pride doesn't prevent me from marveling at all the athletes from around the world, though.  Their dedication, sacrifice, training and skill amaze me.  I love how the world comes together for the Olympics. :)

Back to quilting.

I know my hand quilting won't win any gold medals.  I'm not too fussed about making sure my stitches are perfectly even and consistent.  But I'm ok with that.  It's more about the finished look than the closeup inspection.  A girl's gotta pick her battles, right?

Tuesday
Feb042014

best buds

So, you know I wrote an embroidery book, right?  It came out about a year ago.  What you may not know is that a few months earlier, I'd submitted a little project to American Patchwork & Quilting with the tiniest of hopes that they might be interested in publishing it.

:)

The latest issue of American Patchwork & Quilting - on news stands now - includes that little design called "Best Buds".

(The above images are used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2014 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.)

As I thought about what I might like to design, I came across this pretty picture on Pinterest ...

I really liked it so my mind set about trying to come up with a simple, yet pleasing interpretation of these wildflowers.

I started designing a purse for a little girl ... because I love making bags and because I have little girls ... not much of a stretch there.  But then I got to thinking that not everyone likes to make bags and not everyone has a little girl to make things for.  So then I thought wouldn't it be fun to make an embroidery design that could be turned into either a bag or a framed piece. 

Here are the original samples I submitted to the magazine.

When it came time to sending in the "real ones" to be photographed, I wanted to use more current fabric - the fabric in the originals were at least a few years old, if not more.  Scrumptious by Bonnie & Camille for Moda was just coming out and the colours and scale of the prints were p.e.r.f.e.c.t.

Here's a quick progress photo I took at my kitchen table last summer ...

(Some of my fabric choices changed as I worked.)

And I used DMC embroidery floss because it's super easy to find. :) 

So there you have it.  It's a quick, simple and versatile design - you can have lots of fun with different colours and you can resize it to suit any frame.  Right now I'm picturing it on a pillowcase border and repeated around the hem of a little girl's summer dress ... with a few butterflies ...

Monday
Feb032014

curves

None of these stitches are new to me - blanket, lazy daisy, straight, colonial knot, feather, herringbone ...

But what you see are stitch combinations that I've never tried before.  The blanket/lazy daisy in white - so pretty.  The layered herringbone in two shades of pink with knots to fill in the empty spaces.  The serpentine chain in taupe with pink accented knots.  They are all so beautiful and elegant, especially in single ply.  Most of these stitches are in the original pattern I'm using, but I changed a few like the green one - it's a feather stitch variation called "Maiden Hair" ... I admit to being swayed by the name.  Doesn't it sound so romantic?

(Have you guessed this is another Yoko Saito design?)

Friday
Jan312014

pink fabric pull

Few things are more fun for me than pulling fabrics for a new project ... especially when I end up with something that looks like this.  (At the risk of stating the obvious, I'll be adding a little embroidery as well.)

By the way, these are Japanese prints by Lecien and Quilt Gate.  They've all been in my stash for years and I'm still a little reluctant to use them.  Silly, I know.  I'm trying to be better about using my favourite fabrics instead of hoarding them.  Besides, this is another small project - the largest piece I need is maybe 3" x 6".  I don't think it'll kill me to part with so little.

Tuesday
Jan282014

third time's the charm ...

Congratulations Shelly Heronemus!  You won the Simply Sweet Fabric giveaway.  Please get in touch with me so I can get your fabric to you.

You know, I thought I was going to keep this sweet yet sophisticated navy one for myself ... but then it asked me if it could please go live with a friend of mine instead.  I said yes.

I'm gonna have to make up a bunch more to keep on hand ... you know ... for gifts and things ... and maybe someday, for me.

(Find tutorial here.  Find fabric here.)

PS:  I've had several requests for an English version of this tutorial so I'll try to put one together sooner than later.  Stay tuned!

Sunday
Jan262014

a picnic

If you looked outside my window today, you'd think I was coo-coo-nutso to suggest a picnic.  Yes the sun is shining.  Yes the sky is blue.  But baby, it's cold outside, we have more snow than we know what to do with and I am so over shovelling the sidewalk.

However, if you know PamKittyMorning like I know PamKittyMorning, you'll know that her latest fabric collection - aptly called PamKittyPicnic - can make you believe it's summer ... any day, any time, any where.

This bright, fresh rainbow of colours in signature vintage-style prints ... how can you not be inspired?

Friday
Jan242014

pinterest pouch - round two

Over my sewing career I've developed preferences for both construction methods and finishing techniques.  So when I try out a new pattern I often want to change things about it.  I love how this little pouch goes together, but the flap was a wee bit flimsy for me.  So I just added a piece of batting inside the flap - a quick and easy fix.  I like this version better.  So does my other daughter.  The next one I make will be for me ... I hope.

Here's a link to the Pinterest tutorial again, and I got the fabric here.  (There is still time to enter my Simply Sweet Fabric giveaway!)

Monday
Jan202014

a pinterest tutorial & a simply sweet giveaway

Pinterest. 

I'm trying to remember life without it. 

I can't.

Can you?

I found this Chinese pouch tutorial the other day ... I could not get to my sewing machine fast enough to start making it.

Here's how mine turned out. 

Daughter #1 called dibbs on it already.  Guess I need to make another one.  Or two.  Or ... you know ... maybe about infinity more.

Wanna know where I got the pretty pink floral?  From this, adorable Etsy shop Simply Sweet Fabric.  Such a fantastic selection of tiny florals and pretty prints over there.

Floral Prints Fat Quarter Bundle of 8, Cosmo, Japanese

If you'd like chance to win this delicious bundle of 8 fat quarters leave me a comment stating which print/color above is your favourite.  Giveaway closes on Sunday, January 26th and I'll announce the winner shortly after.  (Promise I'll remember this time!)

Saturday
Jan182014

a tisket, a tasket ...

a Yoko Saito basket!

You guys made me so happy with all your lovely comments about this project.  I'm thrilled you even bother to take an interest in what I do here, let alone anticipate a reveal.  And thank you for tolerating my incessant teasing, by the way.  I hope I always make the wait worth your while. :)

So I bought this book - "120 Embroidery Motifs" by Yoko Saito - maybe 3 or 4 years ago. 

I've poured over the pages countless times.  "Little Rainbows" is a project I've been wanting to make soooo badly but just never got around to ... until now.

I'm really happy with how it turned out.  The lining is a little "poochie" (how I describe fabric that's a little too loose so it doesn't fit smoothly), but I don't mind too much. 

Yoko used ricrac around the rim, but I just went with what I had in my cupboard ... this little bit of cotton lace. 

I hand quilted it too, like the original.  I just stitched random wavy lines.  I think maybe it's supposed to suggest the rain that is making the rainbows.  It didn't take too long - this basket is only 4" tall (not including the handle) and the base is 4" in diameter. 

And that handle?  Well ... let's just say it wasn't my favourite part - I made it twice - the scalloped piece really needs to be cut on the bias (I knew better but stubbornly tried to get away with a pretty striped print the first time around) - reattached it twice and had to undo/re-do several knots.  But it was all worth it in the end 'cause I think it turned out great.

I don't know what I'll use it for yet - maybe to keep some of my sewing accoutrement next to my machine or on my desk to hold pencils ... for sure somewhere I will see it often. :)

Monday
Jan132014

ellis & higgs ... and spoonflower!

I spent part of the weekend putting away Christmas ... but not quite everything Christmasy went back in a box.

Last month a dear friend introduced me to ellis & higgs.  It's become one of my favourite blogs to visit.  The first time I was over there I discovered that Nadra - the author - designs her own fabric on Spoonflower.  Her third collection Holly Jolly was just too adorable to resist so I treated myself with some fat quarters.

They arrived a few days before Christmas and oh my are they ever pretty!  I have no idea what I'm going to make with this yummy fabric, but it'll have a place of prominence in my stash until I dare take my rotary cutter to it!

*     *     *     *     *

I also totally forgot let you all know that Kathleen B in New York won the Sew Deerly Loved giveaway!  (Thank you Tracey for reminding me!)  I have another very nice giveaway coming soon so stay tuned, ok? :)