Five Household Items to Help with Sewing

Five Household Items to Help with Sewing

While it is true you often need to acquire specific tools to take your sewing to the next level, there are also items you will find around your house that easily make sewing and quilting a breeze. Each of the following items were truly an “ah-ha!” moment when I discovered them. I hope they help you too.

Shelf Lining

I used to have the infuriating problem of my machine slipping as I tried to quilt. Short of cutting a hole in my desktop to fit the machine level with the table, I wasn’t sure what to do to remedy the problem, until I saw shelf lining used under a sewing machine. Genius!!! Now I put a piece underneath where I work and my machine stays put every time.

Now I put a piece underneath where I work and my machine stays put every time.

Now I put a piece underneath where I work and my machine stays put every time.

Hairspray

I’m far-sighted, which means threading a needle can be difficult. It gets worse the longer I’ve been sewing, if I’m really tired, or the lighting is poor. Hairspray fixes that. Spray a little bit onto the end of the thread and it will glide through the smallest needle hole like magic.

Spray a little hairspray onto the end of the thread and it will glide through the smallest needle hole like magic.

Spray a little hairspray onto the end of the thread and it will glide through the smallest needle hole like magic.

A Laser Marker

This little tool is currently all the rage in quilting circles. I bought mine at Harbor Freight. It has multiple ways it can attach to your machine, including magnets, sticky back, and screws.

The laser marker is currently all the rage in quilting circles.

The laser marker is currently all the rage in quilting circles.

Just look how far it extends the straight line you need to sew. Plus it makes you feel like a high-tech ninja when you use it.

Just look how far it extends the straight line you need to sew.

Just look how far it extends the straight line you need to sew.

Don’t want to get a laser to extend that line? You can also use washi tape or painter’s tape to do the same.

You can also use washi tape or painter’s tape to do the same.

You can also use washi tape or painter’s tape to do the same.

Elmer’s Glue (the washable kind)

It’s time to raid your stash of school supplies and bring the Elmer’s Glue over to the big kids’ table. Like the Laser Marker, quilters are currently gaga for glue. The genius of washable Elmer’s is that you can apply a tiny amount, heat set it with an iron, and it holds beautifully. You can sew through the heat set glue without a problem and when your project is complete, it washes out without leaving any marks or stains. If you ever wonder how people achieve perfect corners, they are probably using Elmer’s Washable Glue.

If you ever wonder how people achieve perfect corners, they are probably using Elmer’s Washable Glue.

If you ever wonder how people achieve perfect corners, they are probably using Elmer’s Washable Glue.

A Square

My whole life I’ve called the carpenter’s tool called a Square, an L, because that is what it looks like. These giant L-shaped tools make squaring your quilts or larger projects very easy. Pictured is a smaller, triangle version, which I use for corners that need to be evenly squared.

A smaller, triangle version, which I use for corners that need to be evenly squared.

A smaller, triangle version, which I use for corners that need to be evenly squared.

What other common household items do you use as part of your sewing and quilting took kit? I’d love to hear in the comments!

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in digital patterns, marine and home interiors, and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
New Year Resolutions

New Year Resolutions

New Year Resolutions

Where has the time gone? This year is almost over, and has gone by so fast. The last week of the year is my time to regroup, reduce (stuff) and reorganize for the coming year. A fresh start, another chance, a new agenda and personal growth. What a great idea! Moving forward in positive movement to find ways I can inspire people to continue their love of sewing by finding interesting facts and ideas to share. I am EXCITED!!

Take scraps and make a woven rag rug with a wonderful and colorful texture!

Take scraps and make a woven rag rug with a wonderful and colorful texture!

My Plan is the following:

  1. Research textiles and discover ways they are used in various applications in sewing and other art forms. My favorite is mixed media using sewing, quilting, tie dying plain fabric and other ways to create 3D artwork.
  2. Make new curtains for my sewing studio using drapery fabric. Choosing one is the hardest task!
  3. Experiment with different types of sewing feet like the Narrow Hem Foot to make professionally stitched napkins, table cloths and handmade scarves that will make people think you bought them from expensive designers! And some are very expensive!
  4. Use the wide variety of stitches on my machine to create interesting embroidery on quilt squares to piece together to create a scene or story. It is amazing how many things you can do. It may be a great time to upgrade your sewing machine to a designer model next year! Check this website for your choices! Sewingmachinesplus.com is the best place to buy. They offer many great choices!!
  5. Reduce scraps, and pieces of fabric that can be made into a crazy quilt, or used for small projects for a children’s class project. (This is difficult for me because I always think of something I can make from them.
  6. Design fresh ideas for NaturaDomani, my online Etsy Store. I hope to make a difference in the interest of organic fabrics, bamboo, hemp, and other eco-friendly textiles to save trees, water conservation and hazardous working conditions and to preserve beautiful things of Nature.
  7. Find outlets for charitable giving to pay forward Etsy sales and products.
  8. MOST IMPORTANT! Inspire my readers to use your creativity in sewing, and in life, to find happiness in yourself by learning new things and enjoying your achievements. Also, to embrace love and the love of others so that 2017 will become one of your very BEST YEARS!
I find it fun to share my sewing experiences with you as I am building an online presence at Etsy.com. While I sew, I realize that as careful as I stitch, handmade things are never perfect. It’s the challenge and effort that counts.

I find it fun to share my sewing experiences with you as I am building an online presence at Etsy.com. While I sew, I realize that as careful as I stitch, handmade things are never perfect. It’s the challenge and effort that counts.

HAPPY NEW YEAR AND BEST WISHES FOR 2017

Choosing the Right Batting

Choosing the Right Batting

I have definite plans and goals for the new year, and not just the ones that I’ve mentioned in previous posts. I want to take another class. I want take better care of myself. I want to read more. But one thing that I want to do under the sewing umbrella is to finish up the quilt I’ve been working on for a while now. That goal happens to come in steps. Firstly, I need to finish with the patchwork design I have going on (the goal is to have twelve rows of patches) to get this top layer ready for the next two.

The quilt I’ve been working on for a while now.

The quilt I’ve been working on for a while now.

That step, though it’ll take time, is pretty cut and dry. I plan, I pin and I sew.

The steps that follow are the ones that merit consideration beyond those general details — like how I plan to join my quilt sandwich. Do I stitch? Do I tie? Do I spray? Decisions! (Details can be found here).

Hungry? Have a sandwich

Quilt sandwich.

The more immediate topic to debate is what kind of batting I’m going to use for the middle of my quilt sandwich. This will be, by the way, the first time I’ve used batting since I only recently realized that quilts do, in fact, need three layers to fit the official definition, thus the term “quilt sandwich.” Before, I just used the backing and the front, but I want to be more by-the-books for this one! Given that I have little to no experience with batting though, it seemed reasonable to do a bit of research on the matter so that I could make the best decision for me.

Research, I did, and I’ve come to a potential fabric for the job: Cotton.

The fabric of our lives

There are plenty of batting types to choose from.

There are plenty of batting types to choose from.

There are a number of reasons for this choice, and I urge anyone who is going to make a quilt to consider their own purposes and situations when choosing the right batting. While cotton might be a good choice for me, it might not be the best option for another person or another project. There are plenty of batting types to choose from — polyester, wool, blends — and to make the best decision, maybe spend some time looking into the pros and cons of each. You can find details about the possibilities here and here.

So with those other possibilities in mind, why did I choose cotton? There are a number of reasons. For one, it’s cheap. Yes, I know, cheaper isn’t always better, but for a learner on a budget, price can definitely be something worth considering! Remember that this is my first time adding batting, so it would be not-so-good to spend a bigger amount on a batting type just to mess the whole thing up! It’s also worth noting that this quilt will be for personal use, which leads into the reasoning that everything doesn’t have to be top-of-the-line quality like I might strive for if a company name was on the line. It’s for me, it’s my first experience with batting, and I think testing the waters on a smaller money scale is a good idea!

Synthetic but equal

Now, this might make you wonder why I didn’t go with polyester. Simple answer: Itchiness leads to polyester not always being my best friend! This is a personal decision, but the idea is something to keep in mind should you choose to make any kind of sewn product. If you have an allergy or a bad reaction to a certain fabric, keep that in mind so you can steer clear of it!

Choosing the Right Batting

There’s also the issue of loft, or how thick the batting is. Something like wool is high loft, meaning it’s very thick, so a quilt made with wool would be thicker. If you’re a person who gets cold all the time, wool might be your fabric for batting! For me, I want something with a lower loft so that the final product will be thinner. For one thing, I like the size that the first layer of my quilt will be, and I don’t want to shrink it too much by having it cover a thicker middle layer. For another thing, to me, higher loft looks more like a comforter, and I don’t want to go that route with this product.

Cotton is a better choice then, and it’s a fabric that I know is easy to work with on sewing projects. There’s no known itchy detail that I need to worry about, and I can feel comfortable knowing that I’m accustomed to it. I like cotton and — as weird as it might sound — I trust cotton. In addition, the recommended stitching distance for cotton is wider than other fabrics, giving more freedom in that respect.

And all of that, my readers, is a pleasant combination to deal with for my first dive into batting! How about you? Do you have a preferred batting option?

All I Want for Christmas

All I Want for Christmas

There’s not all that much I need these days. Often, I feel as if I have entirely too much stuff. A year and half ago, I bought my apartment in New York City moved from Brooklyn (where I had lived for fifteen) up to Harlem.

There’s not all that much I need these days.

There’s not all that much I need these days.

I had accumulated a lot of stuff in those fifteen years and almost half of it seemed to be sewing related. This wasn’t even counting the storage space I had. Storage spaces are quite common in NYC as the apartments are notoriously small and no one ever seems to have enough room to keep all their stuff.

I literally had more fabric than I could ever, ever, use in my lifetime.

I literally had more fabric than I could ever, ever, use in my lifetime.

It’s not a problem

I decide that instead of moving all of my stuff, I was gong to get rid of some of it and I was going to empty my storage space so that everything I owned actually fit in one 800 square foot apartment.

I managed to get everything I owned to fit in one 800 square foot apartment.

I managed to get everything I owned to fit in one 800 square foot apartment.

It took some doing but I managed to accomplish this task. The biggest challenge was figuring out what to do with all the sewing related things. I really didn’t need fifteen pairs of scissors, four bins of bias tape, an entire box of rick rack and eight foot by ten foot cubicle packed to the ceiling with box after box of fabric.

Good places to donate fabric to are universities or schools with arts’ programs or assisted living homes.

Of course, I kept some things. I do, after all, possess that fabric-hoarding tendency that most tailors and pattern makers do. But I literally had more fabric than I could ever, ever, use in my lifetime – even if all I did for the next thirty years was sit in my apartment and make things. I kept the truly special stuff, the pieces that I might never be able to find (or afford) again. But the bulk of it I donated.

Giving back

Good places to donate fabric to are universities or schools with arts’ programs or assisted living homes. Even some prisons accept fabric donations.

One of the best organizations like this in New York City is Material For the Arts. They accept unneeded items from businesses and individuals, and make the donations available for free to nonprofit organizations with arts programming, government agencies and public schools. If you have a large donation (like an entire SUV full), call ahead to schedule a time to drop off.

Some other places that accept fabric donations are GrowNYC and Quilts of Valor.

The Humane Society and the ASPCA will take linens and clothing for bedding and bathing animals – especially towels.

GrowNYC used to take bags of fabric scraps of any size (that’s where most of the small scraps from Boardwalk Empire ended up) but their website now says they only want large usable pieces.

Quilts for Valor makes quilts for service members and will take most remnants as long as they are clean and free from oil stains & the like.

A few companies that offer take back and reuse options are:

  • Design Tex can provide ship-to information for recycling or reclamation of many of their upholstery, panel and drapery fabrics.
  • The Nike Reuse-A-Shoe Program recycles the rubber, foam and fabric from any brand of used sneakers into padded flooring.
  • The Patagonia Common Threads Garment Recycling Program recycles Polartec fleece, Patagonia organic t-shirts and Capilene Performance Baselayers into new Patagonia clothing.

If you’re doing some clearing out of your fabric stash this season, there are lots of opportunities to send your unwanted textiles somewhere they’ll be wanted. Please donate.

I do have to confess though, that there is one sewing related thing I’m hoping to purchase in the next year: A Juki MF 7923 Coverstitch Machine.

I figure I’ve donated just about enough fabric and other supplies to make room for a new machine.

And so the cycle continues 🙂

Sewing for the Non-Sewer

Sewing for the Non-Sewer

Sewing seems like something that requires loads of skills and creativity. Often, that’s the case, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you can dip your toes in the sewing pool without even owning a sewing machine. You will need a needle and thread though, so add those to your shopping list!

Sewing for the Non-Sewer

Start Small

Making a shirt or skirt can be really overwhelming for someone who thinks they can’t sew. Instead of starting with something that big, do something smaller and less complicated with more instant gratification. For example, a fabric credit card holder or wallet. Simply choose a fabric remnant you like (ask the fabric store clerk to show you where those are) and purchase a spool of thread that coordinates with it. And don’t forget the needles!

Credit Card Holder or Wallet

At home, grab a credit card from your existing wallet. Unfold the fabric remnant and place it right side down on your work surface. A kitchen or dining room table works well. With a pencil or machine washable pen, trace the credit card then flip it so that the long side abuts where the trace mark now lies and trace it again. Using a ruler, draw a line around the full tracing to encompass the double size of the credit card about one inch from the trace line. This becomes the line you will cut on.

It may take a few tries to get this right.

If you’ve got fabric scissors, use those. If not, use the sharpest pair you’ve got in the house. Carefully cut around the outer line. Placing the right side of the fabric together, fold the fabric in half along the line where you abutted the two credit cards and iron it flat. This will help you hold and sew it evenly without needing pins.

Cut a length of thread you’re comfortable working with from the spool you purchased. To easily tie a knot on one end, lick your index finger and wrap the thread around it two or three times. Using the opposite hand, roll and slide the thread off your finger and pull the knot tight. It may take a few tries to get this right. Take the other end and thread it through the eye of the needle. It helps to wet the thread to form a point. This can be tricky even for the most skilled sewers, so stick with it if it doesn’t work right away.

Now that you’ve got the needle and thread situated, sew the two short sides of the wallet between the cut edge and the line from when you traced the cards. When you’ve reached the end of the seam, tie down the end by feeding the needle under a stitch and through the loop that creates. Pull it tight. The open long side will become the opening. First, fold down the edge halfway between the trace line and the cut edge. Again, iron flat so you won’t need pins. Sew those edges down making sure to leave the opening accessible and tie.

Finally, turn it right side out and put your credit cards inside. DONE! You just made your first sewing project. You can consider yourself a sewer and move on to machine projects!

The Scraps of Christmas

The Scraps of Christmas

It’s officially Christmas week, guys! The day is just around the corner, and soon we’ll be heading into a less twinkle-lit world. Until then though, there’s still time to revel in the holiday for one more blog post! For this particular one, how about we go with a nice wrap-up idea?

You see, I’ve covered a tree skirt, ornaments, and homemade gifts, but if you chose to go all of those routes, you potentially would have collected a series of Christmas fabrics. Each project could have its own material, so there might be quite the variety. Another decent assumption would be that you didn’t have just enough material for all projects, so you could easily have scraps of Christmas fabric left over from your handmade-Christmas-extravaganza.

The Scraps of Christmas

Sure, you could stash it away for future use, but if you keep every scrap of material you ever come across, you’re treading on fabric-hoarder territory! There’s nothing wrong with keeping the pieces that would reasonably be user-friendly in the future, but I’m talking about the small bits that won’t be much use without other smaller parts to make something happen, or for a small enough project.

So, maybe this post will help keep that fabric stash a little smaller and farther from hoarder territory by answering one simple question: What projects can you do with those small parts of leftover Christmas fabric?

Answer: Plenty, and I plan to take you through a number of those options!

Possibility #1: Make a banner

This is such a simple option, but it can add a classy touch to your Christmas decorations. All you need to do is pick a shape for your fabric, cut the scraps in that shape, make sure those hems are smooth, and link them together—maybe with some ribbon or yarn. If you’re feeling particular, you can make sure that each of those shapes is two-sided by sewing two pieces together—maybe spice things up by using more than one fabric for the cause. With that method, you could have (as an example) a bell-shaped addition to your banner that has Rudolph on one side and Frosty on the other! If you’re good at embroidery, use enough shapes to embroider a message across. You could even do this laundry-line idea if you had the right fabric! The options on this idea alone are numerous!

The options on this idea alone are numerous!

The options on this idea alone are numerous!

Possibility #2: Make fabric garland

This is like the banner, but requires strips of fabric tied instead of differently shaped pieces embellished and sewn. I mean, sure, you could add gems and such, but the draping quality of the fabric is kind of its distinctive factor, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for the Merry Christmas message! Still, this is a simple, elegant idea that could add a touch of holiday cheer to your house by hanging from your mantel. And, as is the main idea of the post, it’s a great way to use that extra Christmas fabric you might have once you finish your holiday sewing projects!

This is like the banner, but requires strips of fabric tied instead of differently shaped pieces embellished and sewn.

This is like the banner, but requires strips of fabric tied instead of differently shaped pieces embellished and sewn.

Possibility #3: Make a Christmas tote

While you might not have enough material to make the entire tote in one style (then again, maybe you will!), you could create a patchwork look for a homemade Christmas tote! You can find patterns for totes here, and Sewing Machines Plus offers free patterns for bags as well. Can you imagine a patched-up Christmas tote in this design! I would definitely carry one of those!

I would definitely carry one of those!

I would definitely carry one of those!

Possibility #4: Make fabric bookmarks

Call me a literature nerd, but how awesome would it be to give someone a copy of A Christmas Carol with a hand-sewn bookmark to go along with it? In fact, this could be a thing you do next year — give out holiday classics with hand-sewn bookmarks in Christmas fabrics! These projects are small, and who knows how many you could make in one day? And they require little fabric, which is the theme of this post! Whether it’s to hold your place for your own holiday reading or for small gift-gestures to let someone know you’re thinking of them, these creations could bring a festive touch to a book-and-hot-chocolate December time!

Call me a literature nerd, but how awesome would it be to give someone a copy of A Christmas Carol with a hand-sewn bookmark to go along with it?

Call me a literature nerd, but how awesome would it be to give someone a copy of A Christmas Carol with a hand-sewn bookmark to go along with it?

Possibility #5: Make a keychain

Since childhood, I’ve had an interest in keychains. I don’t know why, but it’s true just the same. So, why not take a bit of that excess material and make a one-of-a-kind keychain? Keyrings don’t have to be expensive, and it’s possible that everything else you’d need you could find around your house—maybe even down to buttons like what you see in the picture. Given the teeny-tiny-ness of keychains, this craft would be a good way to use some of that excess fabric! You can find this possibility (and #5) here!

Given the teeny-tiny-ness of keychains, this craft would be a good way to use some of that excess fabric!

Given the teeny-tiny-ness of keychains, this craft would be a good way to use some of that excess fabric!

So, the moral of the story is that you don’t have to be a Christmas-fabric hoarder after your holiday sewing! There are plenty of avenues to expend some of that scrap material!

We Can Be Heroes

We Can Be Heroes

Growing up, my Mom had one of those metal Singer sewing machines that lived in a cabinet, the kind that folded in on itself where the machine dropped down underneath so that when not in use, the whole shebang was just an unassuming small wooden table.

That’s the machine I learned how to sew on, downstairs in the basement laundry room of my parent’s ranch style house in rural Ohio. Shoved against a wall right next to the furnace closet that, somehow, also contained the laundry shoot, there was barely room for the machine table. When you unfolded the top, it blocked the doorway. Clothes lines stretched across the ceiling of the room and the air space above the sewing machine was most often occupied by my father’s button down dress shirts either waiting to be ironed or just fresh off the board. I would bend over the machine with only its tiny little internal light to see by, trying to keep my stitches straight while the sleeves of my father’s shirts brushed against the top of my head.

Oldie but a goodie

It’s a wonder I ever completed a garment. But somehow I did. I constructed quite a few. Sometimes, I think that those early years of sewing with inadequate lighting next to a furnace room in the basement among men’s dress shirts perfectly prepared me for a career as a film and television tailor. If you can sew on a tiny table wedged into a rack of clothes on the back of a wardrobe truck and still create a well fitting and properly constructed garment while six different people ask you how long its going to take, you are well suited to be a film tailor. Cut out a perfect circle skirt with no pattern in five minutes or less on the tailgate of the same truck, and you will likely be a hero – at least for that day.

Tradition

Growing up, my Mom had one of those metal Singer sewing machines that lived in a cabinet, the kind that folded in on itself where the machine dropped down underneath so that when not in use, the whole shebang was just an unassuming small wooden table.My maternal Grandmother, my Nana, also sewed a lot. She had a whole room allotted for sewing, though it also held a bed and dresser. She sewed in the narrow space between the bed and the wall, only able to push her chair out so far. There are quite a few pictures of her at the machine. She made dresses for my Mom when she was a girl and later, jumpers and pants for me. She had a Singer 401 – the tan and cream model, the kind with the decorative stitch black cams that you insert into the top. The cabinet is long gone, but I still have the machine.

At that time in history, when I was young and my mom was young, the 1940s through the 1970s, sewing machines were common in most households. A lot of those machines were lodged into corners and narrow pathways. People laid their patterns out on wood floors, or the dining room table, or even the bed. Prom dresses and bridal gowns and Sunday bests were created in small, dimly lit spaces across the world by women and girls and boys (yes even boys), all of them heroes.

What about you?

Do you have a young person in your life who has discovered the joy of creation and sewing? If so, perhaps this might be the year to get them their very own machine – if you haven’t yet.

I’ve written before about the wonderful lightweight affordable machines Brother makes like the CS-5055 and the PC-210.

Either of these machines would make an excellent gift for that young dressmaker and tailor in your life. They are the perfect size to jockey into an unused corner with no light and launch the next generation of resilient, adaptable and creative sewers.

Quick Sewing Projects: Last Minute Gifts

Quick Sewing Projects: Last Minute Gifts

Having a list of favorite quick sewing projects can be a big help when you need to give gifts.  As I write this, Christmas is only a week away. So any fabric gifts added to the list now must be quick sewing projects. Here are some last minute gifts to sew that are easy and fun to make when there isn’t a lot of time.

Last minute gifts to sew for kids

Felt “Paper” Doll Set

I made this set in a big hurry today. This doll is for a toddler, that’s why I made such a simplistic shape. I would like to make another set when I am not in such a real rush because of having to write a blog post, too. I bet this first doll has a much prettier sister born as soon as I’m done writing this post!

Felt sticks to felt and works perfectly for making "paper" dolls.

Felt sticks to felt and works perfectly for making “paper” dolls.

Felt Crown

You can whip up a felt crown in minutes. I made a traditional looking King’s crown for my boys’ dress up bin last year and that thing has seen a lot of play. Here is another easy way to make one that includes appliqué and looks more like a Queen’s crown.

Car Carrier

This car caddy saved my sanity many times, particularly in restaurants. I saved a lot of time when I made ours by just using the serger around the edges, rather than sewing and turning this project. I used rainbow variegated thread, and this finish held up fine even though it was used by two boys for several years. They both loved this toy. Here’s a tutorial for a car caddy that is similar to ours.

Car roll.

Car roll.

Last minute gifts to sew for ladies and girls

Headbands

There are lots of ways to make headbands, and most of them are easy. I love these which are reversible, and have an elasticized back. Making them this way is even quicker, and a good way to use scraps of special trim or embroidered ribbon. Or you could cover a plastic headband with fabric. Here is a tutorial for an easy, five-minute fabric flower you could use to embellish a plain headband.

Infinity Scarf

Infinity Scarves are extremely easy to make. Here’s a tutorial.

Easy Purses

For something simple and straightforward to sew in a hurry, try this adorable and reversible mini messenger bag from Crazy Little Projects. This small cross-body bag works for both ladies and little girls.  Another option for a pretty purse that won’t take you long to make is this darling fold over clutch at Flamingo Toes.

Pincushion

Here is my tutorial for my favorite pincushion, which is generously sized and features a felt flower, it’s both easy and quick to make up.

Rice Pack Heat Pads

These make a nice gift for everyone, but ladies in particular will really appreciate them, since they are great for soothing monthly pains. They are also awesome for pains in the neck and shoulders. I like to make them from a pretty tea towel folded lengthwise. I stir a dropper full of lavender oil into the dried rice first, this releases a relaxing scent every time it is heated. You can also freeze these, in which case they are wonderful for easing headaches.

Last minute kitchen gifts to sew

Potholders

These are fun because they are so easy. Make one like a tiny quilt by following this precious patchwork pattern from Moda Bakeshop. If there’s no time for patchwork, here’s a different kind of potholder design that’s really quick and cute, too.

Trivet

There are not many quick sewing projects that are faster than making a simple trivet. It doesn’t have to look simple, though; here is a quick pattern for a pretty patchwork trivet that can use your tiniest scraps. This can also be made from single fabrics instead of patchwork to save time.

Bowl Cover

I wish I had seen this bowl cover project before now and made some of these for me. I will, for sure. One of these would be a beautiful gift for a party hostess. You could bring an appetizer in a pretty or plain bowl covered with one of these, and let the hostess keep the bowl and the cover. These would be really nice to have for picnics or backyard barbecues.

Napkins

Paper towels are wasteful, and cloth napkins save trees. That is why napkin sets are one of my favorite gifts to make. These are super fast to sew if you have a serger. If you don’t, it will take a little longer, since you will have to hem all four sides. This looks nicest if you miter the corners. You could choose linen, flannel, even novelty cottons; if you are using a serger, narrow ribbed knit is a great choice for everyday napkins. I made this festive set as a hostess gift for a New Year’s Eve party.

Napkins.

Last minute gifts to sew for anyone

Flannel Scarf

Make two cozy soft scarves from two yards of flannel shirting. Fold the flannel lengthwise, press, and cut down the fold. For each scarf, double turn and sew a narrow hem down each long side. Then sew across the short ends an inch or so from the edge of the fabric. This line of stitching will allow the fabric to fray a bit at the ends, but stop it from fraying when it frays to this line. You’ll have to wash it a couple of times to start the fraying, but once it starts, you can pull at it a bit to move it along.

Earbuds Pouch

This is the one quick sewing project gift that I still have left on my list. I see my son untangling his earbuds from his pocket every day, so I think he will appreciate one of these pouches. I know this will be a fast project, so there is plenty of time left to get this crossed off my list.

Pocket Tissue Holder and Sanitizer Cozy

A pocket tissue holder is a perfect small gift that fits with the quick sewing projects theme. You could add another pocket to stash a small hand sanitizer with the Kleenex, or try this tutorial for a sanitizer cozy to give along with the tissue holder.

Last minute gifts for pets

Don’t forget Fido or Fluffy! It’s easy to whip up something for furry friends in a hurry, thankfully. I like sewing fleece stuffed bones for easy dog gifts. Here is a link to some other fast, easy ways of making dog toys, and here are ideas for quick sewing projects for kitties.

Fleece bones.

Fleece bones.

I hope you find plenty of time to get everything on your list done without any stress! Happy Holidays.

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

Ready for a DIY project that will last for years and is good for the environment (and your pocket book?) This year, instead of wrapping your gifts in holiday paper that will be thrown away after the presents are opened, consider making fabric gift bags instead. I made five different sized bags in under 20 minutes. Here is how.

Assemble your fabric.

Get all of the holiday-themed fabric scraps you’ve been hoarding. The sky is the limit on the sizes you can make as presents come in all manner of shapes, sizes and weights/heights.

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

To keep this project FAST, you aren’t going to finish any of the seams, which means you need to use pinking shears, a serger or a zig zag stitch to finish your raw edges.

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

Great deals on sergers here

If you’ve been thinking about getting a serger, SewingMachinesPlus.com has them on sale right now, right in time for the holidays. This Juki Garnet Serger is the one I’ve been looking at. I love that it comes with bonus feet and additional thread cones.

Square up your fabric, fold over, pin, and then sew a straight stitch around all three sides. Leaving the tops of the fabric gift bags exposed (but pinked) will give them a whimsical, handmade feel.

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

Nice little folds

For this fabric, I decided to create box corners (think like a brown paper lunch bag).

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

I also wanted to add a casual drawstring. To do this without creating a casing, I marked every 1.5″ and then snipped the openings. I love these Clover Chalk-Liner pens. They are an essential part of my sewing tool kit. They mark precisely and I can just sweep off the chalk when I’m done.

Ribbon feeding trick

I used a safety pin attached to the end of some twill tape to feed the twill through the holes I’d clipped to create the drawstring for this bag.

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

The green bag has box corners and will stand up easily once filled. The larger red bag behind it resembles a pillow case in shape and will be perfect for larger, bulkier gifts.

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

I had the most of this pine tree fabric. Because of the orientation of the trees, I couldn’t fold the double the fabric over to quickly create rectangular bags (if I did that, one side of the bags would have upside down trees). Instead, I cut four even pieces and then placed the pieces on top of each other (2 bags total), right sides together. Then I pinned, pinked and sewed them together.

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

Last but not least

My final piece of fabric was a large, gingham napkin that I’d been holding onto. For this, I thought it’d be fun to create a barrel shape with a circular end. I dug out my compass to make the circle. I knew the circumference of the finished bag would be 25″ so I used the formula d = C/π. I then added .5″ on either side for seams and my diameter was just under 9″.

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

Isn’t it darling? Now it was time to wrap some gifts (This was sooooo easy. So much easier than using traditional wrapping paper, scissors and tape).

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

I used some trims I had on hand, a velvet green ribbon, a red fleece ribbon and some white satin binding to close everything up.

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

I love that I can re-use these year after year and they are reminiscent of Santa’s bag of gifts too.

DIY Fabric Gift Bags instead of Wrapping Paper

Happy Holidays!

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
Sewing with Your Kids

Sewing with Your Kids

Sewing with Your KidsWhat’s your first sewing memory? For me, it’s when my mom came to nursery school and did a bean bag project with the whole class. We all got to take home a bean bag at the end of the day and I felt super special that my mom came in and shared her sewing machine and skills with my class.

Would you like to give a similar warm feeling to your kids, but you’re not sure how? My mom didn’t work, so she had the time, but many moms are juggling careers and kids and simply can’t take a day to visit nursery school. You can still create great sewing memories with your children.

Kid Sewing Circle

If you can’t go into your child’s school to show the class about sewing, bring the class to you. Pick a weekend and invite your kid’s classmates and their parents over for a kid sewing circle. Set up a bean bag game for them to play while each child has a turn working the sewing machine with you. Add some drinks and snacks to make it a sewing play date!

Doll Dress Up Day

If your child and her friends love playing with their dolls and giving them different outfits to wear, a doll dress up day can be a great way to create some sewing memories. The next time your daughter wants to have friends over to play, ask them all to bring their favorite doll. Let the kids dig through your scrap stash and choose their favorite fabrics. Then, while they play, help each kid create a special article of clothing or accessory for their doll.

Bedroom Spruce Up

Most kids at some point decide they want a “more grown up room.” This is a great time to create some sewing memories. Although making all the items necessary for a bedroom redo is a lot to take on, making a few simple accessories such as throw pillows allows your kid to add their own personal touches to their room while creating sewing memories.

What other ways do you create sewing memories with your kids?