Make: Snow Day Embroidery

How many ways can I sew a quilt without actually sewing a quilt? My ingenuity at procrastinating finishing my quilt project (yeah, it’s been 2 years–why are you bugging me about it?) is impressive even to me. About a year ago I tried to trick you (who, really?) by making a dollhouse-sized quilt. 

This time I’m inspired by LUCKY JACKSON, an illustrator and artist who created & embroidered an art work every day for a year (see her fantastic 365 Project). This image of 2 pairs of feet sneaking out from under a quilt comes from her work. 

Lucky’s original is far more charming than my pale copy–I love how she uses vintage bed sheets and fabrics. Also, I’m noticing her stitches are lighter and sketchier. I outlined with a stem stitch, which, in retrospect, I realize is too heavy. I may have to try again with an original image or with one of Lucky’s patterns, but it was a good challenge and a small-enough project for a blizzard-bound snow day. Stay warm!

Pinterest Round-up: Setting the Table

Thanksgiving approaches, and with it, thoughts of a long, sumptuous meal set on a beautiful table.

Notice I didn’t say, “thoughts of planning and preparing a meal.” Are you kidding? I wouldn’t be rhapsodizing if work were involved. But if you’re up to it, here are some great projects to inspire your Thanksgiving table.

Top row:

Stenciled runner by Lotta Jansdotter (Lotta Prints)

Running stitch napkins from the Purl Bee

Middle row:

DIY foxy rubber stamp by Zana

Table cloth from the Alabama Stitch Book

Bottom image:

Linen napkins from the Purl Bee

House: DIY namesake pillow

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My daughter has a common/uncommon name and it’s a rare day when her name appears on any souvenirs worth bringing home. A Betty spoon rest is pretty easy to find, but anything an eleven-year-old would actually want not so much. So while she was away at camp (a.k.a. the greatest place on earth) I made her this little pillow for her newly designed bedroom. I followed the cottage magpie tutorial that I use for all my cushions. This pillow is a “small boudoir” (oh la la) size (12×16 “). Here are the steps to make your own namesake pillow.

Materials: About half a yard of main fabric (I used yarn dyed Essex) and a small piece of a printed fabric. About half a yard of unbleached muslin. Embroidery thread. Pillow insert. Fun button.

1. Front panel. Cut one piece of the printed fabric 17 x 5.5″ and one piece of your main fabric 17 x 8.5″. Sew the two pieces together along the long edge using a quarter inch seam. Press the seam toward your main fabric.

2. Use a washable marker to draw your design. I made a straight line one inch above the seam and then scripted betty on the line about two-thirds along the line.

3. Embroider the design using a back stitch.

4. Cut your muslin lining and back panels. Cut the front muslin lining 13 x 17″. Cut two pieces of your main fabric 11 x 13″ and two muslin pieces of the same measure.

5. Place your back panel and lining right sides together and stitch along the 13″ edge using a half inch seam. Turn right side out and press the seam. Pin then tack around the three other sides. Tacking the lining to the fabric makes assembling the cushion much easier.

6. Make a button hole in the center of one back panel half an inch below the seam.

7. Pin then tack the muslin to the main panel (wrong sides together)  one quarter inch from the edge.

8. Next put your pieces together as follows: Front panel right side up; back panel with buttonhole wrong side up; back panel without buttonhole wrong side up, overlapping the other back panel .

9. Align all the edges, pin, and stitch together using a half inch seam.

10. Trim the corners then over stitch around the edge to prevent fraying.

11. Turn the pillow cover right side out and poke out the corners.

12. Sew on your button and put the insert inside the cover.

13. Step back and enjoy your handiwork.

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Tried it: Little Things to Sew Messenger Bag

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I am huge fan of Liesl Gibson, creator of the Oliver and S and Liesette pattern lines. Not only does she have impeccable taste, she writes patterns that make seemingly difficult projects simple and fun. So, when her book Little Things to Sew was published two years ago it went to the top of my list–even though my little person was too old for most of the projects. It is just too cute not be in my craft library. I made family of bucket hats last year and this year I tackled the messenger bag, which comes in kid and adult sizes. I made the adult size using a fun yellow canvas, a print from Lotta Jansdotter’s Glimma collection for the lining, Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in Flax for the strap, and Kona Fog for the binding.

The hardest part was finding the hardware for straps. I finally found just what I needed at Rebel Surplus on Etsy–hoorah! Liesl’s instructions are just perfect. I particularly love that she really explains how to execute each step successfully. Instead of saying “sew on bias binding,” she includes a little tutorial in the back of the book that explains how to align the binding so you catch both sides. Ah ha! This bag uses a lot of bias binding, so you will be a total pro when you are finished with your project.

If I had worked on the bag from start to finish, I think it would have taken about three or four hours. Even though it has lots of pockets, is lined, and looks very professional, if you go step by step, I think anyone with a modicum of sewing experience could complete this project.

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I think if I were to make another bag (which I might!) I would use a heavier weight canvas for the outside or some interfacing to give the bag a little more structure. Either way, I love my bag!

DIY: Easy color block coasters – free pattern!

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Just in time for ice cold drinks, these nifty linen and cotton coasters are ready to get to work catching drips (and adding some springtime color to your table.) Better yet, a set of these would make a lovely Mother’s Day gift. You can make a set of six in about an hour and your materials will cost $10 at most (or nothing if you are a hoarder of scraps like me).

Materials to make six 4″ x 4″ coasters

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Approximately 1/4 yard linen (I prefer Essex yarn dyed — the color shown above is flax)

Three 5″ squares of solid quilting cotton. (I used three colors of Robert Kaufman Kona cotton: Salmon, Aqua, and Fog.)

Piece of cotton batting (approximately 10″ x 15″)

Cotton thread

Five Easy Steps

1. For the backs, cut six 4.5″ squares from the linen. For the fronts, cut three 5″ squares of linen and three 5″ squares of quilting cotton. Cut six 4.5″ squares of batting.

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2. Cut each of your front squares in half on the diagonal. Pin each linen triangle to a color triangle then stitch a 1/4″ seam along the diagonal. Back stitch at the start and end of each seam. Press the seams open.

3. Trim your finished fronts so they are exactly 4.5 ” squares. (If your squares are perfect, give yourself a pat on the back and just trim away those little points.) Be sure to trim so your diagonal line stays neatly centered.

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4. Make a sandwich as follows: 1) back (right side up, if your fabric has a right side), 2) front (wrong side up), 3) batting. Carefully align the squares and pin. Starting an inch away from one corner, stitch (batting side up) around the edge with a 1/4″ seam. Leave a 2″ gap on one side.

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5. Trim the corners and then turn your coaster right side out. When you are turning inside out, keep the front and the batting together. Poke out the corners to a neat point with a knitting needle or a chopstick. Turn under the raw edges of the gap so they align with the seamed edges and press. Pin the gap closed and then edge stitch around each triangle (back stitch in place at the start and end of each triangle).

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Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each coaster. Now you have a pretty set of coasters to gift or keep!