Cactus & Succulent Fabrics for You to Love

Cactus and Succulent Fabrics for You to Love

California’s deserts are super blooming right now thanks to a long and wet winter. While we still have over 15 feet of snow in the ground here in Mammoth Lakes, California, I am not immune to dreaming of spring and the beauty of a flowering desert.

With that in mind, I give you NINE fabric lines featuring cacti, succulents, and the beauty of the high and low deserts.

Desert blooms

First we start with Rae Ritchie’s debut collection, Desert Bloom.

First we start with Rae Ritchie’s debut collection, Desert Bloom.

First we start with Rae Ritchie’s debut collection, Desert Bloom.

Lovely llamas

If you are looking for something with a little more ‘prickly’ whimsy, check out No Drama Llama by Dear Stella House Designer.

If you are looking for something with a little more ‘prickly’ whimsy, check out No Drama Llama by Dear Stella House Designer.

If you are looking for something with a little more ‘prickly’ whimsy, check out No Drama Llama by Dear Stella House Designer.

Not satisfied with the selection of llamas above? Don’t fret, here are more Lovely Llamas by Michael Miller.

Not satisfied with the selection of llamas above? Don’t fret, here are more Lovely Llamas by Michael Miller.

Not satisfied with the selection of llamas above? Don’t fret, here are more Lovely Llamas by Michael Miller.

California dreaming

Hawthorne Thread’s Palm Springs line brings us deep into California with cacti, lizards, geometry, and the sweeping vistas of a desert skyline.

Hawthorne Thread’s Palm Springs line brings us deep into California with cacti, lizards, geometry & the sweeping vistas of a desert skyline.

Hawthorne Thread’s Palm Springs line brings us deep into California with cacti, lizards, geometry & the sweeping vistas of a desert skyline.

Joel Dewberry’s Cali Mod fabric continues with the California theme. He absolutely knocks it out of the park with images of succulents that look like a Warhol painting, and vibrant and metallic colors combined.

He absolutely knocks it out of the park with images of succulents that look like a Warhol painting, and vibrant & metallic colors combined.

He absolutely knocks it out of the park with images of succulents that look like a Warhol painting, and vibrant & metallic colors combined.

Back into the desert

The next two lines are both by Hawthorne Threads and they each coordinate with the other, as well as with Palm Springs above. Here you have Mojave by Hawthorne Threads.

Here you have Mojave by Hawthorne Threads.

Here you have Mojave by Hawthorne Threads.

And this is Coyote, also by Hawthorne Threads. They basically have the market cornered on any type of desert, cacti, or succulent-themed fabric you could want. The motifs make me want to sew a super lightweight quilt and wrap myself in it on a porch somewhere in Joshua Tree as I watch the sunset.

The motifs make me want to sew a super lightweight quilt & wrap myself in it on a porch somewhere in Joshua Tree as I watch the sunset.

The motifs make me want to sew a super lightweight quilt & wrap myself in it on a porch somewhere in Joshua Tree as I watch the sunset.

Heading to Arizona

Bari J. Ackerman’s fabric line, Sage, moves us from the California deserts to her home state of Arizona. These fabrics are individually works of arts, together, they are really visually stunning. The maximalist floral and fruit prints combined with repetitive patterns, bright colors, cacti, and desert animals render me incapable of picking a favorite fabric. I love and want them all!

I love & want them all!

I love & want them all!

Succulence

Lastly you have Bonnie Christine and Art Gallery Fabric’s Succulence line. The only plants I can keep alive are succulents; it’s nearly impossible to kill them. They thrive in amazing conditions. Bonnie has paid homage to this amazing ability to survive with even tiny amounts of water in this retro-inspired line of succulent fabrics.

Lastly you have Bonnie Christine & Art Gallery Fabric’s Succulence line.

Lastly you have Bonnie Christine & Art Gallery Fabric’s Succulence line.

Did I miss any? Do you have any other favorite cacti, succulent, or desert-inspired fabrics you love? Let us know about them in comments!

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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.
DIY Car Seat Poncho

DIY Car Seat Poncho

Did you know it is not safe to put kids in winter jackets in car seats? It’s true. Winter jackets are so puffy that parents need to loosen the seat belts to accommodate them, however this loosening makes the child unsafe in their car seat should they be in an accident. The jackets would compress but the child would move too far forward for safety due to the loosened seat belts.

Snow day!

So what’s a parent to do who lives in cold weather?

So what’s a parent to do who lives in cold weather?

So what’s a parent to do who lives in cold weather? The good news is that you can still put snow pants on them. So use a pair of snow pants and a car seat poncho and all your problems are solved!

I’ve never sewed a hood before so I was excited to try something new and make one with this project. I used the pattern for the hood from Oliver & S’s Little Things To Sew Book and then attached the hood to my own design for the poncho.

I used the pattern for the hood from Oliver & S’s Little Things To Sew Book and then attached the hood to my own design for the poncho.

I used the pattern for the hood from Oliver & S’s Little Things To Sew Book and then attached the hood to my own design for the poncho.

Cozy pockets

I also wanted to make lined pockets on the inside of the poncho, so she could slide her hands inside them and keep toasty while the car warmed up.

I also wanted to make lined pockets on the inside of the poncho, so she could slide her hands inside them and keep toasty while the car warmed up.

I also wanted to make lined pockets on the inside of the poncho, so she could slide her hands inside them and keep toasty while the car warmed up.

I’ve been trying very hard lately to make my projects with materials I already have on hand. Everything you see for this car seat poncho, I already had in my stash.

If you’ve never sewn with minky or cuddle fabrics, I’m here to tell you that it’s time to try. They are so warm and cozy and people always like when you make gifts with minky. If you have a walking foot, use it when you’re sewing fabrics like these. For more on how to sew with minky, check out my post here.

Grab that pincushion

If you have a walking foot, use it when you're sewing fabrics like these. For more on how to sew with minky, check out my post here.

If you have a walking foot, use it when you’re sewing fabrics like these. For more on how to sew with minky, check out my post here.

When working with minky, you definitely need to pin things in place. I’m not a big fan of pins, except when you really do need them; sewing the hood and the neckline of the poncho was a definite need.

Tip: if you are going to add a ribbon so you can hang the jacket from the back of the neckline, this is the moment to do it.

When working with minky, you definitely need to pin things in place.

When working with minky, you definitely need to pin things in place.

Ta da!!! The hood is lined with a gorgeous cuddle fabric that looks like rose swirls. I used minky dot fabric on the underside of the poncho. The butterfly fabric is left over from a baby quilt I made last year.

The hood is lined with a gorgeous cuddle fabric that looks like rose swirls.

The hood is lined with a gorgeous cuddle fabric that looks like rose swirls.

Tales from the hood

When I tried the poncho on my youngest, the neckline was too big. No problem. I used my buttonhole foot to make two button holes right at the v of the neckline like this.

The butterfly fabric is left over from a baby quilt I made last year.

The butterfly fabric is left over from a baby quilt I made last year.

Next I threaded elastic through two buttons and tied knots on each side. This tightened up the neckline but still allowed her to easily pull it over her noggin.

Next I threaded elastic through two buttons & tied knots on each side.

Next I threaded elastic through two buttons & tied knots on each side.

Lovely, no?

Lovely, no?

Lovely, no?

Once the hood and neckline were complete I smoothed out the top and bottom fabrics and made sure they fully matched. Any parts that extended past each other got chopped. Then I pinned the HECK out of the entire poncho before adding binding (See all those pins?).

See all those pins?

See all those pins?

Put a clip on it

I used these awesome Wonder Clips by Clover to keep the edges in place as I added the binding.

I used these awesome Wonder Clips by Clover to keep the edges in place as I added the binding.

I used these awesome Wonder Clips by Clover to keep the edges in place as I added the binding.

This binding was extra I had made for a quilt last December. It matched the project perfectly.

This binding was extra I had made for a quilt last December.

This binding was extra I had made for a quilt last December.

Momma’s little helper

When everything was sewn, I enlisted the help of my six year old to remove all the pins and then get off any remaining fuzzies from sewing with minky.

I enlisted the help of my six year old to remove all the pins & then get off any remaining fuzzies from sewing with minky.

I enlisted the help of my six year old to remove all the pins & then get off any remaining fuzzies from sewing with minky.

Lastly, I ironed. Always, always iron. It takes your project to the next level!

Pro Tip: never iron on minky directly. Do not press too hard because you’ll ruin the pattern on the minky dots (you’ll flatten the dots). I ironed the top side with steam on a wool setting.

Never iron on minky directly.

Never iron on minky directly.

Here’s the finished project. My 4 year old absolutely loves what she calls her ‘car blanket.’

My 4 year old absolutely loves what she calls her ‘car blanket.’

My 4 year old absolutely loves what she calls her ‘car blanket.’

Safety first

See how she is safely buckled underneath the poncho?

See how she is safely buckled underneath the poncho?

See how she is safely buckled underneath the poncho?

The back of the poncho just drapes up and over the back of the car seat.

The back of the poncho just drapes up and over the back of the car seat.

The back of the poncho just drapes up and over the back of the car seat.

Here she is modeling it next to her daddy. Adding the elastic and buttons at the neckline was the perfect solution.

Here she is modeling it next to her daddy.

Here she is modeling it next to her daddy.

Under the hood

And here you can see the pockets that are on the underside.

And here you can see the pockets that are on the underside.

And here you can see the pockets that are on the underside.

Yep, this project was a hit. And she has plenty of room to grow with it.

Yep, this project was a hit. And she has plenty of room to grow with it.

Yep, this project was a hit. And she has plenty of room to grow with it.

I’m so glad I took the time to add something to hang it with.

I’m so glad I took the time to add something to hang it with.

I’m so glad I took the time to add something to hang it with.

Have you made your own car seat poncho? How do you like it? Let us know in comments!

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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.
DIY Chicken Aprons and Hen Saddles

DIY Chicken Aprons and Hen Saddles

Who knew chickens wore clothes?

Who knew chickens wore clothes?

When my girlfriend, Ella, asked me if I could make her a ‘chicken apron’ I thought perhaps she meant something like a heavy duty cover for when she is out in her yard working with her chickens. I of course said yes, but she quickly corrected me and explained that the aprons in questions were actually for her chickens.

Who knew chickens wore clothes?

It turns out that other chickens can be mean and may pick on or peck a member of their brood (even to death). Additionally, roosters can sometimes be too aggressive with hens. Chicken aprons, also called chicken capes, or hen saddles, can protect their backs from the claws of the roosters.

While I often create my own patterns when I sew, creating something like this for Ella’s chickens was beyond me. She found me a free pattern, which you can also follow here, and I got to work.

Heads up that this project is perfect for any pre-cut layer cakes (10″ x 10″ squares) you may have on hand.

Photo credit, left to right: Ella Sherman, MyPetChicken.com & WeAllSew.com.

Photo credit, left to right: Ella Sherman, MyPetChicken.com & WeAllSew.com.

My oldest daughter helped me pick out some fabrics and we sent a picture for Ella to choose from. I planned to make her three reversible aprons.

Here’s another interesting thing we learned

Never dress your chickens in pink, or red; it brings out their cannibalistic instincts and could result in the chicken getting pecked to death. Red & pink = no no.

Beware of chicken scratch. Red & pink = no no.

Beware of chicken scratch. Red & pink = no no.

Sketch it out

With my six fabrics decided, I drew out a pattern on each one. All of these are layer cakes squares I had in my fabric stash.

All of these are layer cakes squares I had in my fabric stash.

All of these are layer cakes squares I had in my fabric stash.

Ella lives in Southern California so she didn’t need any type of warmth or real thickness for batting. Still, I wanted them to be crisp, so I added a layer of Pellon 931TD, Fusible Midweight Interfacing to one side of each apron.

I wanted them to be crisp, so I added a layer of Pellon 931TD, Fusible Midweight Interfacing to one side of each apron.

I wanted them to be crisp, so I added a layer of Pellon 931TD, Fusible Midweight Interfacing to one side of each apron.

Once three of the sides had interfacing, I turned to decoration. If you plan to add rick rack or bows, do it before you sew the sides together.

Once three of the sides had interfacing, I turned to decoration.

Once three of the sides had interfacing, I turned to decoration.

Cut out a 10.5″ piece of elastic for each bib. You will pin each end where the arm (wing?) holes would be.

You will pin each end where the arm (wing?) holes would be.

You will pin each end where the arm (wing?) holes would be.

Place the layers, right sides together and pin (here you can see the elastic sandwiched between the layers).

Here you can see the elastic sandwiched between the layers.

Here you can see the elastic sandwiched between the layers.

Ok, here we go…

This is how it should look before you begin sewing. The pattern I used called for a ½” seam allowance, probably because it also called for thick batting. Choose your own seam allowance and sew all the way around, leaving only the neck hole completely open.

This is how it should look before you begin sewing.

This is how it should look before you begin sewing.

Here’s how mine looked after sewing all the way around. I trimmed away the excess fabric and made small snips around the inner and outer curves so they would lie flat once I turned the fabric right sides out.

Here’s how mine looked after sewing all the way around.

Here’s how mine looked after sewing all the way around.

Two important things to do once you’ve turned the fabric

  1. Take your time and run your fingers along the inside seam, popping the fabric out so it shows a great shape.
  2. Iron! I both ironed and starched mine once I had turned them.

Next, turn the neck hole down first a ½ inch then another ½ inch. Tuck the piece of elastic into where you’ve turned it, creating a casing. You will sew across the bottom of the folded fabric, taking care not to catch the elastic. When you are done, you should be able to move the piece of elastic freely back and forth in the casing.

When you are done, you should be able to move the piece of elastic freely back & forth in the casing.

When you are done, you should be able to move the piece of elastic freely back & forth in the casing.

Top stitch!

Have fun with your top stitching. I used a different decorative stitch on each apron.

And there you have it

This is easily a 20 minute project if you have all your supplies at hand. It’s wonderful for layer cakes and if you have friends who own chickens, these would make great handmade gifts.

It’s wonderful for layer cakes & if you have friends who own chickens, these would make great handmade gifts.

It’s wonderful for layer cakes & if you have friends who own chickens, these would make great handmade gifts.

Pop your presents in some pretty wrapping and send them off to be wild with some hens!

Pop your presents in some pretty wrapping and send them off to be wild with some hens!

Pop your presents in some pretty wrapping and send them off to be wild with some hens!

Have you ever made chicken aprons or a unique piece of clothing for an animal? Tell us about it in the comments!

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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.
Cross Stitch Panel Pillows with Mitered Fabric Framing

Cross Stitch Panel Pillows with Mitered Fabric Framing

My sister, Sariah, and I are both talented sewists, though we tend to focus on sewing different types of things.

My sister, Sariah, and I are both talented sewists, though we tend to focus on sewing different types of things.

My sister, Sariah, and I are both talented sewists, though we tend to focus on sewing different types of things (however we both are unified in our love of quilting!). While my sister can sew entire outfits in mere hours, I don’t have the handmade clothing gene. Instead, I do pillows, cushions, drapes and other marine and home décor. Because our talents diverge, sometimes we collaborate. I will often send fabric to her and she will sew Halloween costumes for my girls, whereas, she will send me something like these two beautiful cross stitch panels, and I will turn them into decorative pillows.

Because cross stitch fabric is fairly sturdy, I used white canvas duck to match the fabric thickness.

Because cross stitch fabric is fairly sturdy, I used white canvas duck to match the fabric thickness.

Sariah had purchased 16″ x 16″ pillow forms for these so I needed to add some fabric onto the bottom of each cross stitch panel to make them into large enough fabric squares for the pillows. Because cross stitch fabric is fairly sturdy, I used white canvas duck to match the fabric thickness.

Next up was taking a look at the fabric she had sent.

Next up was taking a look at the fabric she had sent.

Next up was taking a look at the fabric she had sent. She told me I could be as creative as I’d like and as soon as I saw her talented cross stitching, I knew I wanted to frame each one and to make sure the corners were mitered.

I assigned green to one of the dolls and blue to the other.

I assigned green to one of the dolls and blue to the other.

I assigned green to one of the dolls and blue to the other. Both panels got dots for the outer edging. Once I’d sewn the dots and blue and the dots and green into cohesive strips, I meticulously sewed the strips around all four sides of the dolls’ squares.

I only stitched around the actual cross stitching, leaving the rest of the fabric loose on all four sides like this.

I only stitched around the actual cross stitching, leaving the rest of the fabric loose on all four sides like this.

I only stitched around the actual cross stitching, leaving the rest of the fabric loose on all four sides like this.

Next I hand folded the top and bottom panels back, using my fingers to crease the fabric exactly on the mitered corners, where each fabric strip met the next one.

Next I hand folded the top and bottom panels back, using my fingers to crease the fabric exactly on the mitered corners, where each fabric strip met the next one.

Next I hand folded the top and bottom panels back, using my fingers to crease the fabric exactly on the mitered corners, where each fabric strip met the next one.

Once I was sure I’d nailed it, I ironed the panels and then trimmed off the extra fabric from all the strips.

Once I was sure I’d nailed it, I ironed the panels and then trimmed off the extra fabric from all the strips.

Once I was sure I’d nailed it, I ironed the panels and then trimmed off the extra fabric from all the strips.

The pieces were pinned until I could topstitch the mitered corners in place.

The pieces were pinned until I could topstitch the mitered corners in place.

The pieces were pinned until I could topstitch the mitered corners in place.

I love this shot from the wrong side of the fabric.

I love this shot from the wrong side of the fabric.

I love this shot from the wrong side of the fabric. The chaos of the underside of the cross stitching is very beautiful, and you can perfectly see the backside of the top stitching.

Once the panels were top stitched it was time to add piping.

Once the panels were top stitched it was time to add piping.

Once the panels were top stitched it was time to add piping. If your machine comes with a piping foot, now is when you would add one. I have two machines and I generally use my industrial one, a Sailrite LSZ-1 for piping and cording. Its standard foot has a built-in arch that makes sewing piping a dream.

http://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/4130971-45.php

When you come to corners, don’t forget to trim your piping right up, but not into, the stitching of the finished piping. This will help it to lay flat as you turn.

When both front panels were piped, I cut out four back panels to create an envelope close on their backs.

When both front panels were piped, I cut out four back panels to create an envelope close on their backs.

When both front panels were piped, I cut out four back panels to create an envelope close on their backs.

Here are the pillows fully sewn, but not yet turned right sides out.

Here are the pillows fully sewn, but not yet turned right sides out.

Here are the pillows fully sewn, but not yet turned right sides out. Before you turn your pillows out always double, and triple check your seams.

I like to reinforce each corner with additional stitching and often will sew around twice for added stability.

I like to reinforce each corner with additional stitching and often will sew around twice for added stability.

I like to reinforce each corner with additional stitching and often will sew around twice for added stability. I also zig zag stitch the very edge of the fabric to prevent future unraveling or fraying.

Here is a shot of the back of one of the pillows.

Here is a shot of the back of one of the pillows.

Here is a shot of the back of one of the pillows. Don’t forget to add your handmade tags!

Ta-da! What a gorgeous, collaborative project.

Ta-da! What a gorgeous, collaborative project.

Ta-da! What a gorgeous, collaborative project.

 

I put these in the mail right away so she could get them on her couch and today while writing this post, I got pictures of the final product!

I put these in the mail right away so she could get them on her couch!

I put these in the mail right away so she could get them on her couch!

Do you ever collaborate on sewing projects? Tell us about your work in the comments!

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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.
How to Store Your Fabric Scraps

How to Store Your Fabric Scraps

It only took me six months, but I finally organized my fabric scraps after our move.

It only took me six months, but I finally organized my fabric scraps after our move.

It only took me six months, but I finally organized my fabric scraps after our move to this new town and new house. When we made the move, I dumped my two huge bins of scraps into a few shopping bags and tucked them away until this glorious moment when they would not only be sorted, but have a place to reside.

Bits and pieces

Why should one keep & organize fabric scraps?

Why should one keep & organize fabric scraps?

Why should one keep and organize fabric scraps? Here are some reasons to consider.

  1. Fabric is expensive. Long sized strips, and smaller pieces can be reused for a vast amount of projects. The internet is a trove of fabric scrap project ideas.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind. The reverse of this is true as well. When you have your scraps visible, you are much more likely to use them and be aware of what you have available.
  3. Have a favorite color? It probably shows in the types of fabric you buy. Take a look at your pile of scraps and try to use up more of that color before you buy a few more yards.
  4. Many people cut their scraps to standard sizes. If you have a size of fabric you constantly seem to go to, make your life easier by making your own pre-cuts out of scraps.

Scrap bags

I ultimately made 9 bags of folded scraps.

I ultimately made 9 bags of folded scraps.

I ultimately made 9 bags of folded scraps. They included the following (from left to right):

  1. All of my precut Layer Cakes (10” x 10” squares)
  2. All of my other-sized precuts
  3. Pinks
  4. Whites
  5. Yellows, tans and oranges
  6. Greens, teals and aquas
  7. Blues and purples
  8. Heavy duty fabric scraps (canvas, Sunbrella, etc)
  9. Utility fabric scraps (batting, white out fabric, mesh, etc.)

One of these things is not like the others…

Bag #10 holds all of my selvage edges & very thin strips of fabric.

Bag #10 holds all of my selvage edges & very thin strips of fabric.

There is also a 10th bag (but it didn’t fit well in the group photo above). This holds all of my selvage edges and very thin strips of fabric. I have a huge wish list of projects to make from selvage edges. Perhaps I’ll write a post soon showing you the world of possibility with saving those thin strips!

A place of and for my own making

Welcome to my fabric corner.

Welcome to my fabric corner.

This is my fabric corner. The upper shelves hold my larger stash of fabrics, so pieces that are a fat quarter size or larger. The lower shelves hold my iron on top, and my fabric scraps in the bins below.

Dirty little secret: I just tuck larger pieces in wherever I find room.

Dirty little secret: I just tuck larger pieces in wherever I find room.

I’d love to tell you that I have my larger pieces organized in some kind of fancy way, but I really don’t. I just tuck them in wherever I find room.

Behold! A place for everything & everything in its place.

Behold! A place for everything & everything in its place.

Can you see how lovely the organization of these scraps is? The easy access and keeping them visible by my work space means I’m often including them in my daydreaming when it comes to new sewing projects.

Do you store your fabric scraps? If so, tell us where or how you do!

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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.
DIY Chair Cushions for Kids

DIY Chair Cushions for Kids

DIY Chair Cushions for Kids

DIY chair cushions for kids.

I’ve been wanting to make cushions for the art table chairs in our girls’ room for a while and I finally made it down to a craft store that sold foam this week to get started on the project.

The first step in making custom cushions is accurate measurements. Notice how the chairs are not true squares? The front measurement was 13” and the back 12”. The distance between the front and back was 11 ¼”.

The first step in making custom cushions is accurate measurements.

The first step in making custom cushions is accurate measurements.

Want to know a trick with cushions? Cut your fabric to the exact size of the foam. I know this sounds counter-intuitive. ‘But what about seam allowance?’ you’re thinking. The thing is, foam compresses. If you cut your fabric to the size of the foam, and then sew ¼” seams (or ½” if using heavier duty fabric), the compression of the foam once it is in the cushion cover will more than cover the seam allowance you are used to providing on other sewing projects.

Want to know a trick with cushions? Cut your fabric to the exact size of the foam.

Want to know a trick with cushions? Cut your fabric to the exact size of the foam.

I’m trying to use up my fabric scraps this year, so I pulled out a few larger, odd-shaped scraps I had from this fabric and was able to cut out four top and bottom panels for the two chairs.

I’m trying to use up my fabric scraps this year, so I pulled out a few larger, odd-shaped scraps.

I’m trying to use up my fabric scraps this year, so I pulled out a few larger, odd-shaped scraps.

I used this fabric to make custom piping for a bench seat for the girls’ godmother. I like that they’ll have a small piece of the project I made for her in their own room. See the pink trim on the cushion below? That’s the same fabric.

See the pink trim on this cushion? That’s the same fabric.

See the pink trim on this cushion? That’s the same fabric.

For the side panels I decided to use corduroy from an old pair of pants I’d been saving for just this kind of project. They’d developed holes along the belt loops so I had held onto them just for the pretty fabric.

For the side panels I decided to use corduroy from an old pair of pants I’d been saving for just this kind of project.

For the side panels I decided to use corduroy from an old pair of pants I’d been saving for just this kind of project.

After marking the measurements with a Sharpie, I used an electric bread knife to cut the foam. It cuts through that stuff like butter. Here’s a gif as proof.

My electric bread knife cuts through the foam like butter.

My electric bread knife cuts through the foam like butter.

Another make-your-cushions-super-great secret is to use batting!! Wrapping them in batting or putting a layer on the top and bottom will improve how the puff up in your cushion covers. I used an adhesive spray to affix the batting to the top and bottom of each one.

I used an adhesive spray to affix the batting to the top and bottom of each one.

I used an adhesive spray to affix the batting to the top and bottom of each one.

Don’t measure the height of your sides until you’ve added batting. While the foam is 2”, adding the batting made the total measurement just under 2 ¼” (I should know what that measurement is, but I don’t. I just mark to the line under that ¼”).

While the foam is 2”, adding the batting made the total measurement just under 2 ¼”.

While the foam is 2”, adding the batting made the total measurement just under 2 ¼”.

Grab your zippers and zipper pulls, or, if you aren’t like me with spares on hand, plan ahead and order them before you begin.

Grab your zippers and zipper pulls!

Grab your zippers and zipper pulls!

I like to sew the zipper plaques first. Use whichever technique you like. I generally use the first method shown in this video by Sailrite.

I like to sew the zipper plaques first.

I like to sew the zipper plaques first.

If you need to attach extra fabric to the side panels, consider adding it to the ends in small amounts so the joins don’t show on the front of the cushion.

If you need to attach extra fabric to the side panels, consider adding it to the ends in small amounts.

If you need to attach extra fabric to the side panels, consider adding it to the ends in small amounts.

Attach the zipper plaque to the side fabric and then sew onto the bottom fabric piece.

Before you begin sewing the top piece on, make sure to mark your corners accurately. Fold them to each seam to make sure they match (the yellow mark in the photo below is my matching point.)

Fold the corners to each seam to make sure they match (the yellow mark in the photo below is my matching point).

Fold the corners to each seam to make sure they match (the yellow mark in the photo below is my matching point).

Next, make sure to slide on the zipper pulls BEFORE you sew the top piece onto the final assembly or you’ll be sad.

Next, make sure to slide on the zipper pulls BEFORE you sew the top piece onto the final assembly or you’ll be sad.

Next, make sure to slide on the zipper pulls BEFORE you sew the top piece onto the final assembly or you’ll be sad.

And finally, do not forget to sew your tie backs in between the seams as you go.

Do not forget to sew your tie backs in between the seams as you go.

Do not forget to sew your tie backs in between the seams as you go.

Whoohoo, you’re done! But, before you start celebrating, go over every seam to make sure they are secure.

Whoohoo, you’re done! Now, go over every seam to make sure they are secure.

Whoohoo, you’re done! Now, go over every seam to make sure they are secure.

Then take your scissors and round the corners so they turn prettier. I used pinking shears on the fabrics in this project. Check out my post from January to learn about their benefits, along with other important cutting tools for your sewing room.

Take your scissors and round the corners so they turn prettier.

Take your scissors and round the corners so they turn prettier.

When you turn the covers right-sides out, use your fingers to pop out each corner.

When you turn the covers right-sides out, use your fingers to pop out each corner.

When you turn the covers right-sides out, use your fingers to pop out each corner.

If you’ve done this right, your finished cover is going to look smaller than your foam; that’s because it is! Now is the time to put the cover on the cushion and here is where you’ll see how foam compresses to fit your new cover.

Now is the time to put the cover on the cushion & here is where you’ll see how foam compresses to fit your new cover.

Now is the time to put the cover on the cushion & here is where you’ll see how foam compresses to fit your new cover.

I’m going to use caps lock here to get across how important this next step is: DO NOT TUG OR PULL ON YOUR FABRIC TO GET IT ONTO YOUR CUSHION. I promise you, if you do that, your seams will pop. Instead, fold the cushion to slide it into the cover, and then slowly work the foam into the fabric, NOT the other way around. Just keep thinking ‘move the foam, not the fabric.’ Don’t be afraid to really get your hands deep into the cover and use them to maneuver the foam in place. Adjust, adjust, and adjust, until the cushion sits perfectly in the cover, with the lines of the foam matching the lines of the cover.

DO NOT TUG OR PULL ON YOUR FABRIC TO GET IT ONTO YOUR CUSHION!!!

DO NOT TUG OR PULL ON YOUR FABRIC TO GET IT ONTO YOUR CUSHION!!!

Ta-da!!!

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

This project turned out just darling. The corduroy almost looks like velvet and I love the effeminate touch it brings to the room.

The corduroy almost looks like velvet and I love the effeminate touch it brings to the room.

The corduroy almost looks like velvet and I love the effeminate touch it brings to the room.

These cushions will inevitably get marks on them. That’s okay, they have zippers so they can be washed, AND, they are reversible. I can just flip them over if I need to.

I can just flip them over if I need to.

I can just flip them over if I need to.

My daughters loved these and immediately hopped on and got cozy.

My daughters loved these and immediately hopped on and got cozy.

My daughters loved these and immediately hopped on and got cozy.

What DIY projects have you made for your home lately? Let us know in comments!

What DIY projects have you made for your home lately? Let us know in comments!

What DIY projects have you made for your home lately? Let us know in comments!

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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.
Do NOT iron minky directly!

Tips for Sewing with Minky Fabric (Cuddle or Plush Fabric)

Tips for Sewing with Minky Fabric (Cuddle or Plush Fabric)

I know a lot of people that shy away from sewing or quilting with minky but I’m here to tell you that minky is not the bogey-woman some people make it out to be, as long as you follow some important tips to make your sewing with it a success.

1. Pre-washing is not needed. Well, at least for the minky that is. Plush fabrics are made from polyester so they don’t shrink. If you’ll be pairing with fabrics that do shrink, then pre-wash the other fabrics in advance.

Minky bumps

2. Nap! Minky has a nap. Nap is the raised or fuzzy/bumpy parts you find on certain fabric (think velvet). If you brush your hand one way on minky, it will be soft, if you brush it the other way, it will be rougher. Take the direction of the nap into the consideration when cutting out your project.

Take the direction of the nap into the consideration when cutting out your project.

Take the direction of the nap into the consideration when cutting out your project.

3. Minky can STRETCH! But only from one direction. Take a piece of the fabric you are working with and stretch it one direction and then the other. You’ll find the stretchy side very quickly. I make sure to not ever leave my hole for turning on the super stretchy side.

Minky can STRETCH! But only from one direction.

Minky can STRETCH! But only from one direction.

4. Use the right needle and correct sewing foot. A lot of guides will recommend a universal needle size of 12. I prefer size 14, but find what works for you. Additionally, if you have a walking foot, use it! If you are too lazy to use your walking foot (or don’t have one), I find minky sews better when you place it on the bottom and the regular fabric on the top.

Use a walking foot. I find minky sews better when you place it on the bottom and the regular fabric on the top.

Use a walking foot. I find minky sews better when you place it on the bottom and the regular fabric on the top.

5. Seam allowance and stitch length – I tend to give myself more room with minky and usually use a 1/2” seam allowance. I also use a longer stitch length, around 4.

6. DO NOT IRON MINKY DIRECTLY. It will melt. I promise you. You need to even be careful ironing with another fabric placed on top as pressing too hard or with too much heat will ruin the nap or little bumps of the minky underneath.

7. Pins, clips and washable basting spray or this Wash-A-Way Wonder Tape are your friends with minky. Use them excessively and you’ll get much better results.

http://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/tacony-BT14.php

Pins, clips and washable basting spray or this Wash-A-Way Wonder Tape are your friends with minky.

Pins, clips and washable basting spray or this Wash-A-Way Wonder Tape are your friends with minky.

8. Top stitch!! Top stitching minky will really help to remove bulk, keep the seams in line and make your project look more professional.

Top stitching minky will really help to remove bulk, keep the seams in line and make your project look more professional.

Top stitching minky will really help to remove bulk, keep the seams in line and make your project look more professional.

9. Use a rotary cutter and a vacuum. Rotary cutters help make very exact cuts with minky. I also suggest having your vacuum nearby to clean up after cutting and to clean out your machine as you sew. SewingMachinesPlus.com has a variety of vacuum cleaners for your sewing room.

http://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/tacony-fb-gim.php

10. Practice! You’ll get better the more you use it. Soon, you’ll be wondering what all the fuss is about when others say they shy away from sewing with plush fabrics.

Do you have any tips for making sewing with cuddle fabrics a success? Let us know what works for you in comments!

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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.
How to Sew a Square Pillow with Piping

How to Sew a Square Pillow with Piping

While conceptually the idea of sewing a square pillow case sounds easy, there are several things to consider when you undertake this task.

While conceptually the idea of sewing a square pillow case sounds easy, there are several things to consider when you undertake this task.

Go smaller

The cardinal rule of making your own pillow cases is to make them approximately an inch smaller than the pillow form you want them to cover. If you have a 22” x 22” pillow, you need to make the case 21” x 21”. Of course, don’t forget your seam allowances. If you use ¼” seam allowances, than you would cut a piece of fabric that is 21.5” x 21.5”.

The cardinal rule of making your own pillow cases is to make them approximately an inch smaller than the pillow form you want them to cover.

The cardinal rule of making your own pillow cases is to make them approximately an inch smaller than the pillow form you want them to cover.

Fussy cut

I normally wouldn’t advocate for drawing your lines on the front of your fabric, but this fabric by Hawthorne Threads needs to be cut to the size of the panel you want for your pillow case. When fussy cutting, sometimes drawing on the front of the fabric is necessary to ensure correct sizing. Haven’t heard of the term ‘to fussy cut?” It means to carefully cut out a piece of fabric for a specific purpose.

It means to carefully cut out a piece of fabric for a specific purpose.

It means to carefully cut out a piece of fabric for a specific purpose.

See the center pieces of these quilt blocks by Amy Gibson of The Cookbook Quilt Along? These are prime example of taking the time to fussy cut your fabric.

These are prime example of taking the time to fussy cut your fabric.

These are prime example of taking the time to fussy cut your fabric.

Choose your pillow back

Once you’ve cut your front panel, you’ll need to cut your back. You can finish pillows many ways. Check out my post from last fall on different options for pillows. I chose to do an envelope close, so I made cut two panels the same height as my pillow, but each was 13.5” wide. That allows for a folded, sewn hem on each of the ‘opening’ portions of the back panel.

That allows for a folded, sewn hem on each of the ‘opening’ portions of the back panel.

That allows for a folded, sewn hem on each of the ‘opening’ portions of the back panel.

Consider interfacing

For added pop, I fuse lightweight interfacing to the front panel fabric. It has such a gorgeous design that I want it to stay crisp and firm while it sits on my bed looking fabulous.

Curve your corners

This step is so important!! I have a small piece of cardstock that I’ve cut to help me round the corners of my square. Why would I do this, you ask? Because pillows are 2-3. They are big and fluffy and when you attempt to sew straight sides of a square you often end up with starfish points instead of nice, square corners.

I have a small piece of cardstock that I’ve cut to help me round the corners of my square.

I have a small piece of cardstock that I’ve cut to help me round the corners of my square.

This is an example of a pillow cover that didn’t have rounded corners before it was sewn. Trust me on this, it makes all the difference!

This is an example of a pillow cover that didn’t have rounded corners before it was sewn.

This is an example of a pillow cover that didn’t have rounded corners before it was sewn.

To pipe or not to pipe?

That is indeed the question. I love the contrast that piping gives pillows. If your machine has a piping foot, now is the time to install it.

If you are new to this step, consider pinning the piping in place. This is not my first rodeo, so I just sew and go.

Consider pinning the piping in place.

Consider pinning the piping in place.

Make sure your piping follows those slightly rounded corners. Don’t forget to snip the piping edge just up to the seam so that if folds nicely around each corner.

Don’t forget to snip the piping edge just up to the seam so that if folds nicely around each corner.

Don’t forget to snip the piping edge just up to the seam so that if folds nicely around each corner.

Now place your two backing pieces on top of the front panel, right sides together. Pin, and sew.

Now place your two backing pieces on top of the front panel, right sides together.

Now place your two backing pieces on top of the front panel, right sides together.

Not so fast

Once you’re done, YOU ARE NOT ACTUALLY DONE. No. Unpin everything and flip the cover right sides out. Carefully inspect all along the seams and make sure no thread is showing from the piping like you see here. If you find anything that needs to be tightened up, flip the pillowcase inside out again and resew the hem, making sure to sew just to the edge of the piping for a nice clean finish.

Carefully inspect all along the seams and make sure no thread is showing from the piping like you see here.

Carefully inspect all along the seams and make sure no thread is showing from the piping like you see here.

Flip the pillow right sides out and again carefully inspect it. If all looks good, turn it inside out AGAIN and then then trim the edges, especially around the corners so that the corners will fully turn out when you flip the pillow cover to the front again.

If all looks good, turn it inside out AGAIN and then then trim the edges.

If all looks good, turn it inside out AGAIN and then then trim the edges.

Finishing touches

Once you’ve turned your pillow case right sides out, run your fingers along the inside of the seams and fully push out the piping and corners, then iron to get out any wrinkles from the sewing process. Slip it onto your pillow form and voilà, you’ll have a wonderfully plush and SQUARE pillow case.

See the difference rounding those corners made?

See the difference rounding those corners made?

See the difference rounding those corners made?

Do you have any secrets for making the perfect pillowcase? If so, share them in comments!

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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.
Fabric Trend: Cats and Things Cats Love

Fabric Trend: Cats and Things Cats Love

Galaxy Cat fabric by Timeless Treasures

Galaxy Cat fabric by Timeless Treasures

Last October, I highlighted three lines of cat fabric for you including From Porto with Love, Cat Lady, and Meow or Never.

I should be honest however, and not call cat fabric a trend because our love for cats will never go away. To prove this, here are more cat fabric lines for you, including fabrics with things cats love.

Maker Maker by Andover Fabrics

From Andover Fabrics, you’ll find cats in blue, black and yellow. Along with their coordinating cat scratches.

From Andover Fabrics, you’ll find cats in blue, black and yellow.

From Andover Fabrics, you’ll find cats in blue, black and yellow.

Flower Shop by Alexia Marcelle Abegg

Inspired by walks through Mexico’s outdoor flower markets, Flower Shop brings you cats amongst flowers, bow ties, thistle, and cats with foxes, elephants & donkeys.

Flower Shop brings you cats amongst flowers, bow ties, thistle, and cats with foxes, elephants & donkeys.

Flower Shop brings you cats amongst flowers, bow ties, thistle, and cats with foxes, elephants & donkeys.

Smarty Cats by Maria Carluccio

Maria Carluccio’s Smarty Cats fabric line is for the true lover of traditional fabrics and traditional cats. You’ve got cats on books, playful cats, smarty cats, and mice, string and balls.

Maria Carluccio’s Smarty Cats fabric line is for the true lover of traditional fabrics & traditional cats.

Maria Carluccio’s Smarty Cats fabric line is for the true lover of traditional fabrics & traditional cats.

Whisper by Dear Stella and Riley Blake’s Double Gauze

These two fabric lines seem to coordinate seamlessly. Add a dash of Dear Stella with Riley Blake and you have the quilting cottons of Dear Stella on the top row in cats, mice, and dandelions, and the double gauze dreaminess of Riley Blake, featuring delicate cat, deer, and panda faces, with tiny Xs and Os and I Love You’s.

These two fabric lines seem to coordinate seamlessly.

These two fabric lines seem to coordinate seamlessly.

Tabby Road by Tula Pink

Tula Pink takes their coolness to the next level by combining cats + The Beatles. This psychedelic fabric line will arrive in most stores by March and perfectly blends your feline friends with the some of the trippiest nods to Abbey Road. Fabric names include: Tangerine, Strawberry Fields, Fur ball, Lucy, Cat Snacks, Blue Bird and Disco Kitty.

Tula Pink takes their coolness to the next level by combining cats + The Beatles.

Tula Pink takes their coolness to the next level by combining cats + The Beatles.

Pura Vida by Hawthorne Threads

Hawthorne Threads Pura Vida line is reminiscent of a Central American jungle and features wild cats and their surroundings.

Hawthorne Threads Pura Vida line is reminiscent of a Central American jungle & features wild cats.

Hawthorne Threads Pura Vida line is reminiscent of a Central American jungle & features wild cats.

Hemma by Lotta Jansdotter

For the lovers of all things Scandinavian, Lotta Jansdotter fabric line, Hemma, combines cat faces, tulips, lemons, half-moons, and clean & classic colors to give you a modern twist on cat fabric.

For the lovers of all things Scandinavian, Lotta Jansdotter fabric line, Hemma.

For the lovers of all things Scandinavian, Lotta Jansdotter fabric line, Hemma.

Do you have any cat fabric lines you love? Please share them with us in comments!

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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.
Different Types of Thread and When to Use Them

Different Types of Thread and When to Use Them

Have you ever gone to the fabric store and been overwhelmed looking at the vast assortment of thread for sale? If so, then fear not, for I will help to break down the mystery of thread and how to use it in all its various types.

To start, consider where you are going to store your thread. I’m a highly visual person and I like to see what I have on hand. I also find looking at thread to sometimes motivate me or inspires me to begin on new projects. I created this thread display in my sewing room using Ikea picture frame shelves (Ikea Ribba) and I added small nails to hang my bobbins by the corresponding color of thread.

I added small nails to hang my bobbins by the corresponding color of thread.

I added small nails to hang my bobbins by the corresponding color of thread.

I live in a rural area, three hours from the nearest Joann Fabrics. Because of that I keep an Aurifil Thread Color Card so I can easily order the exact shade of thread I need. It also looks beautiful too, no?

Thread Weight

When choosing thread, consider the thread weight. A quick breakdown of Aurifil’s brand thread weights (and their many great brands of thread, including Guterman and Coats & Clark) looks like this:

12wt: Use it for sashiko & red work stitchery. This is the thickest thread in the Mako’ range.

28wt: It is strong enough to withstand the stress of hand quilting without needing to be glazed or waxed.

40wt: Favorite thread for machine quilting and all-purpose sewing. A little heavier to show off the quilting stitches.

50wt: Quilters love it for its piecing and quilting. A staple for every sewing studio.

80wt: This is the finest Egyptian cotton, for use by hand or machine. Your new ‘go to’ thread for applique and much more.

~ Thread descriptions from Hawthorne Threads

Buying at a fabric store is actually a little easier than sussing things out online because they divide thread into sections so you can quickly scan for ‘quilting’ or ‘embroidery’ or ‘heavy duty/jeans.’

I keep my standard, quilting cotton weight threads organized by ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).

I keep my standard, quilting cotton weight threads organized by ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).

ROYGBIV: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

I also keep my neutrals and browns organized by gradient.

I keep my neutrals & browns organized by gradient.

I keep my neutrals & browns organized by gradient.

Buying a lot of shades of one color can greatly help when working on projects with a ton of variation in the same tone, like in this quilt I recently finished. I used five different shades of brown and black to finish the horse.

 

Utility/Novelty Threads

These are threads you reach for when you need to pull out the big guns or you are just doing something different. I use some of these heavy weight threads for upholstery, corduroy, vinyl, or very thick or unique fabrics.

I use some of these heavy weight threads for upholstery, corduroy, vinyl, or very thick or unique fabrics.

I use some of these heavy weight threads for upholstery, corduroy, vinyl, or very thick or unique fabrics.

This is my tub of very heavy duty threads. I use them on marine projects and with my industrial sewing machine.

This is my tub of very heavy duty threads.

This is my tub of very heavy duty threads.

Variegated Thread

I saved these threads for last because they are my favorite. If you haven’t tried sewing with them yet, I encourage you to start today. The richness of their color variation is an absolute delight to the eye and often can take your projects to a whole other level.

I used two spools of variegated thread on this quilt. The blue/rainbow you can see here.

The blue/rainbow you can see here.

The blue/rainbow you can see here.

And the gorgeous bright yellow here.

You can see the gorgeous bright yellow here.

You can see the gorgeous bright yellow here.

Of course, with different threads you will need different needles, but I’ll save the topic of needles sizes and shapes for another post. What are your favorite types of threads? Let us know in comments!

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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.