Freezer Paper Stencils: VW Bus Pillowcases

Punch buggy. (Or in this case, Punch bus.) Spring is here & so is the VW bus parked outside my house. (The sign in the window says: Hippies Use Backdoor.)

So in honor of the reappearance of spring and VW buses, I decided to give some old white pillowcases new life. Plus I wanted to make something for my 11-year-old who is easily embarrassed by T-shirts proclaiming anything, let alone T-shirts homemade by his mother, so I figured pillowcases were a safe zone, free from 5th grade peer review.

I cut a stencil on freezer paper from an image of a VW bus that I downloaded online. As I’ve mentioned before, freezer paper stencils are wicked easy & satisfying. Here is the complete how-to. To trim the pillowcases, I bought a half a yard of Happy Camper fabric from the Monaluna Circa 60 Beach Mod line for Birch Fabrics (available at Fabricworm). I should’ve bought a yard, but I was too cheap ($8.25 for half a yard!). It’s organic, alas.

 (The print is darker than how it appears on Fabricworm.)

No room for error. The pressure was on! I sewed the fabric directly onto the existing pillow trim (I split the seam for the trim–but not the rest of the pillowcase–to make it easier to sew). For the edge that you see on the outside of the pillowcase, I folded 1/4″ of the fabric, ironed, and sewed as close to the edge as I could. For the hem inside of the pillowcase, I folded 1/4″ over twice to completely encase the raw edge. Not sure if this is the best way to add trim, but it looks decent and adds a pleasing weight to the end of the pillow.

Sewing patterns for spring

How excited was I when I saw that Liesl Gibson, the incredibly talented designer behind Oliver and S, teamed up with Simplicity to make patterns for women? Well, over the moon. I’ve made one dress for my daughter using an Oliver and S pattern and just bought the fabric to make another. Liesl’s instructions are wonderfully clear and the patterns have details that make the end product look professional, not like something made in home-ec class. The woman’s line, Lisette, is supported by a blog, which promises to offer tips and additional instruction. I’m already planning to make the traveler dress (pictured here from the Lisette site) and the market skirt. I will post the results!


Update: I just purchased three yards of lecien yarn-dyed gingham in large blue and ordered the pattern from Sew Lisette. I can’t wait to get started, but before I do must finish: quilted placemats and napkins, dress for miss b., quilted play mat for expectant friend. Best get cracking!

Sock Dog

We’re just back from a long weekend in the Deep North at my brother’s house–skiing, ice skating, and, in my case, suffering from a stomach bug. What is more pleasant than a puking houseguest? you might ask. I’m pretty sure Ben Franklin coined a pithy adage about it.

Not only was my beautiful sister-in-law, Toni, gracious about my digestive turmoil, but she also let me photograph her latest sewing projects.  

She made this polka dot pooch from a couple of old socks. Such a cute pup! The pattern comes from Martha Stewart Crafts (step-by-step instructions here). You can also find it in Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts.

Toni also made this pretty drawstring  bag from a pattern in Heather Ross’s Weekend Sewing.


And this canvas bag (perfect size for an IPad or say, those paper things formerly known as books) from Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter.

Thank you ever so much, T. I promise not to return for a while. Love, m.

House quilt blocks

What do you think of these? I was inspired to make them when I saw the flyer for the upcoming exhibit from the Folk Art Museum, Infinite Variety, Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts. I’ll post more about this later, but will just say now that I am inordinately excited to go and see this in March. I imagined a quilt with little rows of tidy houses, but thought I’d start with a few blocks, just to see how they looked. My husband, who is usually very complimentary of my crafts, said, “Um.” Not good. It turns out that he finds the houses not charming but creepy. Why? There’s no door, for one, and even worse in multiples they look like sinister barracks. (They are also very fiddly to make, so another strike against them.) But, I’d still like another opinion. Charming or not so much?

Darling Clementine, Part 2

OK, for Part 2 of the Darling Clementine Project, I thought I would sew a groovy vintage-y oilcloth liner for a clementine crate. I thought this print with oranges would be perfect:Green Oranges OilclothYou can order it at But I decided to take my chances and buy a yard of whatever was in stock at the nearby Tags Ace Hardware. (Not many hardware stores carry oilcloth–only those in yuppie strongholds like Porter Square in Cambridge, Mass.) Anyway, I chose the only fruit-themed print they had: red cherries on white.

I decided that it would be better to build up the clementine crate with bass wood strips (from my local craft store). That way, the liner would have an edge to fold over and it wouldn’t obscure the Darling Clementine graphic on the side of the box. I tried stapling the wood strips first, then hammering in brads, but the wood corners of the box were surprising strong. So, I used wood glue, which worked well.

Sewing the liner went pretty quickly (except getting the tension right for the oilcloth). For complete, step-by-step directions, a downloadable pdf is here: Darling Clementine Project.


Not sure what I’m going to store in it: clementines, maybe?