Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Christmas Sewing Gifts

I had a very special, sewing-themed Christmas this year. I received all the sewing items that I had on my Christmas list and a few more!  My daughter hand picked these fat quarters for me and tied them up into  special little packs. She knows how much I love fat quarter packs.

Fat Quarters

Fat Quarters

She also bought the little rotary cutter that I have been wanting to try. It is a pretty nifty little gadget but it is very sharp. I nicked my finger with it the first time I took the cover off. I think it will prove to be very useful for small, detail cutting.

Fiskars rotary cutter

Now this gift was a surprise from my daughter. She makes coasters with small tiles from the home improvement store. She also featured them on her blog. She used an assortment of sewing-themed scrapbook paper which she purchased at Hobby Lobby. She told me that these coasters are to used in my sewing room to sit my sweet tea on. She knows how much I love sweet tea. By the way, my other daughter gave me an assortment of lotion, shower soap, etc. called "sleep - night time tea" from Bath and Body Works. It is supposed to calm and comfort like tea before bedtime.

Sewing tile coasters

My husband bought me the photo book I had ask for, a subscription to Threads, Pants for Real People by Palmer and Alto, and a cute little sewing book that he found at a local bookstore which was going out of business. (Well, actually, I pointed him in the right direction.)  I have started reading the pants fitting book. I am determined to fine tune a pants pattern soon so that I can finally have great fitting pants because I certainly cannot find any ready-made pants that fit!

Sewing books

The decorations and the Christmas tree have been packed away and it's time for some serious sewing! What are your sewing plans for 2012?

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Little Christmas Gift Idea

I love collecting fat quarters, charm packs, etc. I don't usually have a project in mind. I just like to admire them sitting on my shelf until I run across a project I'd like to try. I'm assuming other sewers (or sewists, I'm not sure which it is) like to collect them also. These fat quarters are for my ASG sewing friends. We meet once a month to sew and to talk about sewing.

Button Snowman gift tags

I cut the fat quarters from the M'Liss collection at Hancock Fabrics. To make the tags, I sewed buttons onto card stock.The eyes are french knots. I glued the red card to the green tag and punched a hole at the top for the ribbon. You could add a hat or scarf but I chose to keep it simple.

What are your favorite Christmas craft ideas?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Little Sewing Tip

I ran across this tip on FreebiesforCrafters and immediately headed to my sewing room to label my sewing machine, serger, and lamp cords which are all plugged into the same outlet. I also passed along the tip to my husband because it seems like everything he owns needs to be plugged in. We're going to have to eat a lot of bread to get all his gadgets labeled!

tip for cord storage

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Little Christmas Sewing

I bought a yard of Christmas fabric last year at WalMart to make this little picture frame project at our monthly ASG meeting. We used a heavy interfacing sandwiched between layers and satin stitched around the edges. I inserted a picture of my daughters and displayed the picture with their Christmas baby pictures which I bring out every year to remind me of their first Christmases.

sewing a picture frame
A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I needed something simple for a small dining table. I pulled out the leftover WalMart Christmas fabric and made a table runner. The centerpiece is the pot which last year's amaryllis came in. The greenery is from the pine trees in my back yard and the candle I have had forever. I couldn't get a good picture of this but, hopefully, after Santa Claus brings me my new book, I'll be a better photographer.

burlap table runner

Last night, I picked up the leftover WalMart fabric once again and cut out 6 coasters for my 6 Holly Hobbie glasses. I bought these glasses about 30 years ago at a fast food restaurant. I think it was a roast beef place similar to Arby's but was called Rax Roast Beef. I have broken a couple over the years but my sister surprised me last Christmas with replacements which she bought on ebay.

charm pack coasters

Holly Hobbie vintage glasses

I still have a bit of that WalMart Christmas fabric left. It is the yard that never ends or maybe just enough for one more little Christmas project!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Baby Gift Update

Update to the previous post......I decided to add a little burp cloth. I bought a nice, soft towel and cut a 10 x 20 rectangle. I rounded the corners and made a bias binding from another of the cute cowboy prints from Hobby Lobby. Okay, I'm done now. I must get back to Christmas sewing.

Appliqued baby burp cloth

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Little Buckaroo Baby Gift

I've been working on a baby gift for a little baby boy. His parents like horses so I thought this cute little buckaroo fabric from Hobby Lobby would be appropriate. The blanket is a 45 x 45 square of fleece. I made a blanket binding with the cotton horseshoe fabric. I used the same fabric for the cute applique which I found at Their machine embroidery designs are very detailed and professionally digitized. They have a few free downloads and sale items which you can try out.  I had a little fabric left over which I ripped into strips, gathered, and stitched to an inexpensive denim tote bag for baby's big sister to carry her little books or other treasures in.

Appliqued and Embroidered baby gifts

Now it's back to Christmas sewing.

22 days and counting.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Angel For My Christmas Tree

I've had a "cutter" quilt in my garage for some time now which was made many years ago by my grandmother. A cutter quilt is a worn, frayed, quilt which can no longer be used as a quilt. I don't like cutting into old quilts but I decided that it was the only way to keep any memory of this quilt. Since I try to make a new ornament every year for my Christmas tree,  I decided to make little quilted Christmas ornaments to share with family and friends.

angel from old quilt

  • Small scraps from old cutter quilt
  • Craft buttons - 3/8"
  • Curly doll hair
  • Ribbon for bow
  • Jute or other ribbon/string for hanger
  • Needle and thread
  • Glue gun
  • Fine point marker 
angel from old quilt

Cut a heart and a triangle from the quilt. Sew a running stitch around the edges to prevent the batting from falling out. Overlap the triangle on top of the heart and sew or glue in place. Draw eyes on the button face and glue to the top of the triangle. Glue curly hair to top of the button head. Add a bow and a hanger. You could also add a date or other information to the back of the ornament.

angel from old quilt

What are your favorite little Christmas tree projects?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Little Weekend Projects

It's a rainy, dark, gloomy Monday, my favorite kind of day to sew. It is not, however, a good day to take photos of my weekend projects. I have this book on my Christmas list but, apparently, it won't be available until after Christmas. That's okay. It looks like it will be worth the wait.

Taking Great Photos

Last Christmas, I made new stockings for my family. They were velveteen with embroidered cuffs. My daughter and her husband had a new kitty named Louie so I made him a small stocking with the scraps. This year, they have another kitty named Mia who, of course, needs a stocking. I still had enough scraps left for one more little kitty stocking. Cats love Christmas, too!

Velveteen Christmas Stocking

sewing a christmas stocking

sewing a Christmas stocking

I found this canvas tote bag in the clearance department at Hobby Lobby for $2.99. The machine embroidery design was a free download for members from the ASG website. Now I have a nifty little tote bag to carry my supplies to my monthly ASG meeting. I need to get back to Hobby Lobby and get more of these totes before they are all gone.

American Sewing Guild embroidered tote bag

I found these cute little fat quarters at Tuesday Morning, seven of them to be exact, for only $3.99! I have no idea what I will make with Tiny Toons fabric but I could not resist. Any suggestions? Tuesday Morning is close to Hobby Lobby and I try to run in occasionally because you just never know what little treasure you might find there.

Tiny Toons fat quarters

What are your favorite rainy day crafts?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kwik Sew 3915

I'm starting to really like Kwik Sew patterns, especially since I got my new coverstitch machine. I picked up 3915 a couple of weeks ago when I had a coupon from the local fabric shop. Kwik Sew patterns are a little pricey and they hardly ever go on sale locally. This is a new pattern and I couldn't find any reviews on PatternReview.  I took a chance and it turned out pretty nice. I will definitely use this pattern again.

kwik sew 3915

Since I wasn't sure if I would like it, I did a test sew with a piece of cranberry red polyester interlock knit that I purchased at JoAnn Fabrics on sale for almost nothing. Well, I didn't waste that piece of fabric because I love the pattern and plan to shop for more knits tomorrow.

kwik sew 3915

kwik sew 3915

This was an extremely quick top to make. I sewed everything on the serger and coverstitch machine except for the little loops for the buttons and the row of gathering for the front collar.

What did you make today?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Silky Scarves

I decided that I need to start accessorizing more so I have been on a scarf kick lately. I bought 2 yards of a couple of silky print fabrics at Hancock Fabrics. Since the fabrics were 60 inches wide, I was able to cut 3 scarves from each, 20 inches wide by 72 inches long. For this scarf, I folded the fabric right sides together lengthwise and serged the long seam. Then I serged the shorter crosswise seam, tucking one side of the scarf inside the other and leaving 2 inches for turning. I pressed the seams lightly so that the scarf still has body and does not look too flattened. There are lots of tutorials for these on the web. Just search eternity scarf or infinity scarf.

sewing infinity scarf

 This is the same scarf wrapped one more time around the neck for a shorter version.

sewing infinity scarf

This scarf is cut to the same dimensions as the scarf above but is not stitched into a circle. It is just a traditional long scarf. Fold right sides together and stitch across the ends and along the long edge, leaving an opening for turning.

sewing a scarf

I bought a yard of this pretty 45 inch wide print at WalMart for $3.00 per yard and cut into 2 strips, about 22 x 36 to make 2 scarves with a finished size of about 10 1/2 inches wide and 35 1/5 inches in circumference. Since it is a shorter scarf, I added a mobius twist so that it would drape nicely.

sewing infinity scarf

The cost for these scarves ranged from $1.50 to $2.75 each! Quick and easy Christmas gifts for the ladies on my list!

Janome Coverpro 1000 CPX

I decided on the Janome Coverpro coverstitch machine. There is a great support group on Patternreview. There is a four part guide with tips and great information provided by Coverpro owners. There are also several useful videos on with helpful hints such as how to remove the fabric without unraveling the hem. I told my hubby that it would revolutionize my sewing. That might be just a little bit of an exaggeration but not much. He said it sounds like I should get one just as long as I charge it on the card that earns his free flights!

janome coverpro

I had a busy weekend and haven't been able to actually sew with it yet. I did try it out though since it was threaded and ready to go right out of the box. This sample hem was stitched after removing one of the 3 needles with very few adjustments.

janome coverpro
Now I will really enjoy sewing with knits. Any suggestions on mail order sources for nice knit fabrics?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Coverstitch Machine Dilemma

I have decided that I really want need a coverstitch machine. I love to sew knits and I like the professional look that you get with a coverstitch machine. I have researched and googled and narrowed the search down to the BabyLock BLCS-2 or the Janome CoverPro 1000CPX.

Babylock BLCS-2

janome coverstitch
Janome CoverPro 1000CPX

All reveiws are great for the Babylock but the space to the right of the needle is small. I'm wondering if I will be bunching up fabric for a wider hem or to actually stitch on the garment rather than a hem such as topstitching over a princess seam. Or would I even want to do that type of stitching often? Also, the Babylock does not have the freearm feature. The Babylock has Jet-Air threading which would be great but I guess I could live without it.

Reviews for the Janome are great as well. The Janome, however, seems to be a bigger, heavier machine and my space is already cramped. Also, some report that the Janome does not sew quite as well through heavy fabrics such a heavyweight fleece and that it is more difficult to control the speed.

My local machine dealer does not carry either of these machines in stock but could order for me. The Janome is about half the price of the Babylock but this is probably the only coverstitch machine that I will ever buy so I want to get the one that works best for me.

Any help in this decision would be greatly appreciated!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kwik Sew 3740

I ordered a new wardrobe builder pattern from PatternReview a couple of weeks ago because it had lots of nice reviews. It is listed as one of the top ten patterns for 2010. Kwik Sew 3740 includes a cowl collar long sleeve pullover top and a sleeveless tank top. I had a pretty nice piece of jersey knit fabric in my stash which I actually found at WalMart for 99 cents per yard! I haven't used a Kwik Sew pattern for myself for a few years so it took a few try-ons and adjustments to get the right fit.

Kwik Sew 3740

I read on PatternReview that sometimes the cowl seam shows in the front. I stitched the seam as instructed the first time around and, sure enough, it did show a bit. Then I made clips in the seam and stitched the front 7 inches of the neckline/cowl seam opposite of the way the pattern instructed. In other words, the front seam allowance is actually on the outside of the pullover between the front and the cowl. The cowl drapes over the exposed seam allowance. The seam never shows when I am wearing the top.

Kwik Sew 3740

 I always save the little clear elastics that come on ready-to-wear garments to hold them on the hanger in the store. When a neckline or any other area is a little too stretchy, I stitch the elastic to the seam to stabilize it. For this top, I stitched the back neck seam down to the top only in the back from shoulder to shoulder inserting the elastic underneath as I stitched, stretching it slightly. The top feels much better after stabilizing this seam. These clear elastic pieces are also great to stabilize shoulder seams.

stabilize neckline sewing

I used my favorite double needle hem technique with woolly nylon in the bobbin as described in this post.

What are your favorite patterns and tips for knits? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stockings for the Troops

I just mailed my last batch of stockings for this year which will be filled by CitizenSam and shipped to the troops. Every year, right after Christmas when the clearance sales start, I buy Christmas fabric to start making these stockings for the troops. The pattern is provided by CitizenSam and can be found on their website. It's a very quick and easy stocking to make. Last year, over 40,000 stockings were shipped to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Citizen Sam stockings for the troops

Check out the CitizenSam website for other programs supported by CitizenSam such as Quilts for the Wounded, Cards/Letters of Support and Adopt a Soldier to name a few.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Dew Drop Cowl

My daughter was on fall break from college last week and decided that she wanted to knit a cowl. I found this easy pattern on Ravelry and got her going on it. It is worked on 200 stitches so she wanted a pattern without purls. Not that she minds purling, but 200 purls at a time are a lot of purls. She knitted while watching TV. She knitted in the car on the way to a football game. We both knitted a little when we had the time and finished it pretty quickly. We used a self-striping fingering weight sock yarn from Patons.

Dew Crop Cowl

The cowl is about 52 inches in circumference and can be worn draped around the neck or doubled as shown in this picture. I'm pretty sure I will be borrowing this cowl from my daughter once in a while!

Ravelry link

I'm on the lookout for more quick and easy cowl patterns. What are your favorites?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Knitted Pumpkins

Since this is National Spinning and Weaving Month, I decided that I should include a post on spinning. I started spinning a few years ago and have enjoyed every minute of it. I enjoy it so much that I hardly buy yarn any more if I can spin it myself in a reasonable amount of time. I ran across this nutmeg colored wool fiber at Blueball Mountain Spindle and Needleworks in Elizabethtown, Ky.  I spun up a worsted weight 2-ply yarn on my Kromski spinning wheel to make this cute little knitted pumpkin that I found on this blog. I knitted up a few of these last fall and posted them on Ravelry (the greatest knitting website ever invented). I decided that it is time to get them out and do a little fall decorating.

knitted pumpkin

I'm off to find the rest of my pumpkin yarn so that I can knit up more little pumpkins! What are your favorite little pumpkin crafts?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Hand Woven Sewing Tote

I love to make baskets. However, I have been off on other paths the past few years such as knitting, spinning, sewing, gardening. There are only so many hours in a day. Recently, a friend told me about a basket making class which was being taught by Beth Hester from GH Productions. I decided it was time to make baskets again. For two nights we met at a local church to make the Soteria basket. It is the perfect size to carry my sewing projects or any other project for that matter.

This is my basket after the first evening of basket weaving.

handwoven basket gh productions

This is my basket after two nights of basket weaving. I love the finished product! In the past, when I have made baskets, I put them on a shelf to look at and admire. This one, however, I plan to use often. The shaker tape handles are great for carrying the basket but fall out of the way when you need them to.

handwoven basket

This is a close-up of the seagrass accents and the button detail on the handles.

handwoven basket gh productions

I made a little trip to GH Productions today to gather supplies to make more baskets this weekend.  I bought a packing tool which I am pretty excited about. I'll use it to push the weavers down and save my fingertips!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Criss-Cross Coasters

Last week, at our monthly American Sewing Guild meeting, we made criss cross coasters. Each coaster requires 6 charm squares to complete. Just google criss cross coasters to find a tutorial. I decided to make mine a little smaller so I cut 4 1/2 in squares which finished to a 4 inch coaster. This is a super quick project and looks great tied up with a ribbon or strip of fabric.
Charm Pack Coasters

We will be donating our coasters to WKU's Family and Consumer Science Alumni Group. This is the 100 year anniversary of the Family and Consumer Science Department. They are sponsoring a quilt exhibition at the Kentucky Museum on WKU's campus and the coasters will be sold among other items to raise money for the scholarship fund.

Charm Pack Coasters

Have you found any new project ideas lately for charm packs?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shorts for Haiti

A few months ago, a group of ladies at church started making little dresses for 3 orphanages in Haiti. As the project progressed, we decided that we should make enough dresses so that all the girls in the orphanages would have a new dress. We now have over 125 dresses! For the little boys, we decided on shorts with elasticized waists in sizes 4 through 14. We now have about 100 pair of shorts and still counting. A week or so ago, I was not having much luck finding affordable, appropriate fabric. It was much easier for the dresses since we could pick up cute pillowcases at Goodwill for 50 cents. I just happened to be in the Design, Merchandising and Textiles Department at Western Kentucky University. A group of students and their sponsor from the Fashion Inc. Club donated enough fabric samples to complete the project. Thank you to Fashion Inc. for your generous donation!

sewing shorts haiti

charity sewing short haiti

I added little tags with sizes to the back so that the boys would know which way to put their shorts on!
sewing shorts for Haiti

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Dress for the Big Game

My daughter decided that she needed a new dress to wear to the big college football game. Western Kentucky University is playing Navy. She went through my fabric stash and chose a white knit with black polka dots. Since WKU's color is red, she added red accessories to show her school spirit. We have used this quick and easy pattern (McCall's 6112) a few times now, always with great results.

My favorite tip for sewing with knits is the double needle hem. I use a 4 mm double needle with wooly nylon in the bobbin. Pin up the hem very evenly and stitch from the right side of the garment. With this hem, you will still have lots of stretch in the hem and will not be popping stitches when the fabric stretches.

I also used this method to topstitch around the neckline after I finished it with a self-fabric "ribbing". This picture shows the front neckline and the inside of the back neckline.

I'm off to the game. Go Big Red!!!