Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Felt Christmas Tree- fun for the little tykes

The addition of twin grandchildren to our family in April has been a real blessing.  As Christmas approaches, I was looking for something to make for the little "elves."  My daughter-in-law sent me a picture of a felt Christmas tree with felt ornaments-  the perfect manipulative for little hands!

I wanted to stuff my tree so that it would be soft, like a big cone shaped pillow.  I decided on a size:
22" high with an 18" base.  The hard part for this math challenged girl was figuring out how to make the pattern for the cone shape.  With the help of my husband and the internet, we found a formula that worked perfectly.  I am going to give you the measurements and instructions for the size that I made but if you want to alter the size, you can check out the formula that I used from Math Central HERE. I have to admit that my eyes glazed over when I saw these calculations but if you take it step by step, it does work!  Here's the proof:

I made the cone pattern on craft paper because I wanted it to be sturdy enough to make the drawing.
The pattern is going to look like this:

To draw this arc, I needed the length of S to be 23 3/4" so I tied a string to a pencil, measured the string to 23 3/4" and cut.

I put a mark near the edge of the paper (T) and held the end of the string at that mark. Then I stretched out the string and drew a large arc.  It is important to keep the pencil upright when you are making the arc to get the correct shape.

The length of C needed to be 56.5" so I cut another string that length and laid it along the arced line that I drew.  I made a mark at each end of the string.

Next, I connected the marks with the mark that I made at T.  Voila!  A cone pattern!  

The final step in making this pattern was adding seam allowances.  I knew that I wanted to use 1/2" seams so I just added 1/2" all the way around before I cut.  I probably could have figured a way to incorporate the seam allowances from the beginning but all this math was making my head hurt so this just seemed easier to me.

The base was the easy part.  I wanted an 18" base with 1/2" seams so I cut a 19" circle.  I folded a piece of craft paper in half. Then I wrapped a string around a pencil to measure 9 1/2".  I set the end of the string on the fold and drew an arc from fold to fold.  Cut on the line and you have your base.

The rest is easy!  Use your pattern pieces to cut your tree from felt.  Match up the straight edges of the arc and sew from the bottom up to the point, leaving about 5" open in the middle for stuffing.

I trimmed away the excess near the point to reduce the bulk.

Pin this cone to the base, matching the edges and sew all the way around.

Turn right sides out and stuff.  I made mine quite firm with lots of polyfill because I figured over time it would squish down.  Stitch up the opening and your tree is done!

For the ornaments, I made very simple shapes because I figured that they would just get chewed. Maybe next year I will make some that are a bit fancier.  On the subject of chewing, I chose Eco-fi Plus Premium  Felt for my ornaments.  It's made in the United States and is washable which I thought was important for keeping things clean for my little sweeties.

Wouldn't the little ones in your life enjoy decorating this puffy tree?


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Contemporary Piping on Traditional Fabric

As many of you know...I love pillows!  Pillows are such an easy way to add color or pizzazz  to a room.  My daughter-in-law, Amy, has a great decorating sense which she shares on her blog Eat.Sleep.Decorate.  Amy shares my love of pillows but like me, she doesn't like the prices of designer pillows.  Recently, she shared a post about pillow choices for her living room. I loved this Williamsburg Fabric that she chose.  It's called "Portobello Vase."

I am a big fan of traditional fabrics and this one had such a lovely combination of color.  When Amy told me that she wanted black piping, I was unsure about her choice.  I was thinking about a dark gray instead.  I was unable to find a gray fabric that was dark enough so I went with Amy's original idea of black.  She was right!  I think the black adds a bit of contemporary flair that keeps these pillows from looking too stuffy.  You need to check out her ideas for pillows to pair with these. Cast your vote on her blog HERE.  (I liked option two!)

Here's how the pillows turned out....

...with a close up of the piping.  Love it!

Are you unsure about making and applying piping or just pillow making in general?  Check out my past pillow making posts  Part 1Part 2, and especially for piping- Part 3.  You will be making designer quality pillows in no time!


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sew a new purse for Fall- French Baguette

I just love purses- totes, clutches, cross bodies....I love them all!  I especially love when I can customize a pattern and really make it my own.  My French Baguette pattern really fits the bill if you want a bag with multiple looks.

The beauty of this bag is the belt which is interchangeable so you can make one purse and switch out the belts to match your mood.  I tend to make my bags in neutrals- brown, tan and sometimes I get crazy with a print!
Click HERE for the buckle that is pictured.
Sometimes, I don't even change the belt...I just switch out the buckle for a pin or fabric flower.

This bag looks lovely in batiks, wools and decorator prints.  The body is quilted with a light weight batting so it gathers nicely with the belt.  The buckles are not always easy to find but I have used 2" and 2 1/2" and they work just fine  Click.HERE for one that I like to use.  They only come in gold but I spray paint them.  
I also like to use vintage buttons like this one:
The button looked too small so I made a circle from the purse leather and backed the button.  Did I mention leather?!  Yes dear readers, I fell in love with this calf leather at quilt market last year and just had to try sewing with it.  It was extremely soft and sewed quite nicely.  The only cannot make ANY mistakes. Once the needle punctures the leather, there is no going back.   Needless to say, I sewed very slowly (not my usual breakneck speed).  I am pretty happy with the results.
Other leather tips- 1.  Do not use batting or attempt to quilt.
                              2.  A Teflon foot is helpful in moving the leather.
                              3.  Use a leather needle and slightly lengthen your stitch.
                              4.  For the straps- do not follow the pattern.  Just cut 4 strips the width that you 
                                   would like them.  I made mine 3/4".  Then put wrong sides together of one pair                                    and sew close to each long edge.  Repeat this with the other pair so that you end                                    up with 2 straps.  The backside of my leather was a light grey color and that 
                                   showed on the edges of my straps so I colored them with a black permanent 
Not a good photo but hopefully, you get the idea!
Here is another cool buckle that I found at JoAnn's.  I round it on the notions wall but could not locate it online..poo!

And what about the hardware?  Everything you need for this bag is available in one package from Susan Rooney Patterns and is available in nickel or antique brass.  
Everyone loves a new bag for fall so start creating and send us pictures of your masterpieces!


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sewing Retreat #2- End of Summer Fun!

Back in the early Spring I posted about a retreat that I hosted for several of my sewing friends.  If you missed the details of that fun weekend, click HERE.  We had a really good time so I decided to do another retreat to celebrate the end of summer.  All of us tend to get soooo busy once Fall arrives.  I didn't have quite as much time to pull this one together but I still wanted it to be special for my friends so I put together some fun favors including a note pad for inspiration, pens and highlighters, clips for marking pages or holding patterns together and of course....some chocolate treats.

I also made quick and easy pillowcases for each of the guests and had them on their beds for an extra surprise.  The little card had a poem composed by yours truly....
As you can see, I am no Robert Frost!

Sharing is part of the fun.  We exchanged ideas, snacks and small surprises.
Monogrammed mugs filled with treats from Renee,
A clever portfolio with pockets for organizing, made from a file folder, from Ruthann
A DIY sewing table organizer kit from Karen.  We each
made one. Pattern is from The Quilt Company.                                 
  Everyone brought meals to share too.  This made it very easy for the hostess!  Look what Renee's husband dropped off on her birthday,,,,

  We worked on quite a variety of projects but there is one in particular that I wanted to share with you.  If you have not yet heard of the art quilt patterns from By MO and MIKE, you will want to check them out.  Each pattern comes with a digital image printed on cotton along with piecing instructions and free motion quilting suggestions.  If you have wanted to try art quilting but have been a bit intimidated, this is an awesome way to get started.  Check out some of these gorgeous prints.

The directions included with the digital print are well written.  My favorite part was the layering technique before quilting.  They recommend fusing Decor Bond to your cotton batting and then sandwiching as usual.  That Decor Bond really makes the finished project hang perfectly.  It also makes the quilting pop.  Such a cool idea!  Ruthann and I completed Snow Dreamin'.

I'll share some of our other projects in future posts. Stay tuned......


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Frond Designs- Fabulous Fabrics!

A few weeks ago, I visited the huge AQS Quilt Show and Festival in Syracuse, NY and discovered a design group of which I had not heard.  The fabrics were absolutely lovely!  Each one looked like a work of art.  In talking to the owner and creator of Frond Design Studios, Stephanie Brandenburg,  I learned that indeed, each fabric was printed from hand generated art work. Paintings such as these are turned into gorgeous fabrics:

The rich colors and modern designs make these fabrics uniquely individual.  Here are some of my favorites:

I just had to bring home several yards of this one..have I mentioned that my new granddaughter is named Magnolia?

As you can see, these innovative designs are truly original and so contemporary!  Check out their website at Frond Design Studio for the complete line.  I promise you will be impressed!
The talented staff at Frond Designs also has patterns, coordinated threads and kits.

To see if a shop near you carries these Frond Designs, click HERE.  Heartsong Quilts and Vogies Quilts and Treasures also sell  these super cool fabrics and patterns online.  Oh...and did I mention, there are free downloadable patterns?  Click HERE to check them out.  I will leave you with one more beauty for inspiration....


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Kate Spade Inspired Tote- Simple and Cute!

Kate Spade is one of my favorites!  I love her purses.  I love her china.  I love her shoes.  I love her cell phone cases.  I love just about everything that she designs.  You can imagine how excited I was when I found this adorable Kate Spade inspired Nautical Tote.


I found the tutorial over at Flamingo Toes, a blog that I really enjoy.  Beverly is the brains behind this creative blog.  You will be inspired with her projects...there is really much more than just sewing.
I decided to use some of the leftovers in my sewing stash to create my own version of this cute bag.  I made a few changes from the tutorial at Flamingo Toes.  Beverly sewed navy and white fabrics together to make the stripes but I decided to use some striped fabric that was leftover from making bed skirts for my twin grandchildren's cribs.  

This fabric was purchased at IKEA and comes in several colors.  I loved working with it because the stripes were even.  Why is it that striped fabrics are so often wonky?  Anyway.... I cut the pieces 14 1/2" wide by 17" high.  This was the largest that I could make with the fabric that I had.  I cut the lining pieces the same.  

I am sorry to say that I didn't take any photos while I was making this because I was in a mad rush to get it done before I left for a trip....does that sound familiar to any of you?

The construction was very simple. All seams are 1/4".  I put the striped fabric right sides together and sewed around 3 sides being careful to match the stripes.  I put the lining fabrics right sides together and  sewed around three sides leaving a 5" opening in the bottom for turning.

The next step is squaring the bottom of the bag.  To square off the corners of the striped fabric, turn the bag inside out.  At the corners, line the side seam flat against the bottom seam.  (Right sides will be together.)  This will form a point.  Check to make sure that your side seam is matched directly over the top of the bottom seam.  Measure from the pointed end, 2 1/2"” along the seam line and draw a straight line across the point at the 2 1/2"” line.  A grid ruler works great for this because you can line up the perpendicular line on the ruler with the seam line to get a nice straight line.  Pin through all layers and stitch along the line.
    Repeat this step for the other corner of the striped fabric and for both corners of the lining.  Press the points toward the center of the bag.
There is also an excellent tutorial at the Lazy Girl website. To see how she does it, click HERE.  In the Lazy Girl  tutorial, she made her square 2".  I made mine 1 1/2" because I wanted the bottom edge to be about 3".

To make the strap holders, I cut one piece 2 1/2"x 12".  I folded it in half lengthwise with wrong sides together and pressed.  Then I opened it and pressed the long edges in toward the fold and pressed again.  Finally I folded it again on the original fold.  The  finished width should be 1/2".  I sewed close to each long edge and cut the piece into 4 pieces measuring 3" long.
Because I used purchased straps, I needed to loop my strap holders through the rings on the straps.

I folded the strap holders with the rings along the fold and matched the two raw edges with the raw upper edge of the striped fabric 3" in from the side seam and sewed.  Here's how it looked in Beverly's post.

Finally, to complete the construction, place the striped bag right side out inside the lining which is wrong side out.  Match the side seams, pin and sew around the top edge. Turn through the opening in the lining.  Press well and edge stitch on the outside around the top edge.  Sew up the opening in the lining. 

The original Kate Spade bag was lettered with "Get Out of Town" in gold letters.  Beverly made a stencil to mimic those words.  As I mentioned earlier, I was in a bit of a rush to make this bag and didn't have any gold fabric paint so I used something that I already had on hand....these glittery iron on letters.  If I remember correctly, I bought these at JoAnn's.

Because my tote was smaller, I didn't think that the original Get Out of Town saying would fit well so I decided to use my initials.  I also used a gold button from my collection instead of Kate's signature spade.

And that's it!  This tote is really easy to make and I think is the perfect nautical look for summer!