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.
Scrap-Fabric Keychain!

Scrap-Fabric Keychain!

If there’s one thing I’m interested in regarding sewing, it’s finding new ways to use my leftover fabric. In fact, if you’ve been keeping up with my posts (I won’t hate you forever because you haven’t! Honest!), it’s a concept that’s been explored already. But I still have fabric at my disposal, so the idea of how to use those pieces continues as a subject worth looking into.

So, for today’s post, I’m going to give you yet another way to use your leftover fabric — even if that leftover fabric is fairly small! Need proof? The project I’ll use for an example was made out of ONE fabric block that was less than ten inches in either direction. Sound good? Then let’s dive into this project, which for the record, is a keychain!

What you’ll need:

  • One fabric block. The size varies depending on what shape you want to make your keychain — and what size you want your keychain to be — but you don’t need anything over 10″ x 10″. Also, remember that flimsy fabric might not keep your keychain shape too well, so try something that’s sturdy — maybe even felt.
  • Key ring. It isn’t really a keychain if you can’t hang a key on it!
  • Sewing essentials like needle, thread, and straight pins, as usual!

What you’ll do:

Step One:  Choose your fabric, keeping in mind the guidelines about size and texture. You should also note that your shapes for your keychain will only be so big, so you should consider that size. If your final goal is a one-inch shape, for instance, you should pick a fabric that’ll look good when cut down to that size. I changed my fabric choice on this detail because with my initial decision, I would’ve potentially had part of a flower, a whole lot of plain color, or scattered bits that didn’t really look that fantastic to me. It might be something you want to consider as well!

I changed my fabric choice on this detail because with my initial decision, I would’ve potentially had part of a flower, a whole lot of plain color, or scattered bits that didn’t really look that fantastic to me.

I changed my fabric choice on this detail because with my initial decision, I would’ve potentially had part of a flower, a whole lot of plain color, or scattered bits that didn’t really look that fantastic to me.

Also, decide what shape you want your keychain to be. For me, I went with a heart because it was simple and traditional, but there are plenty of other options. Once you know your shape, you can create a stencil, or use an existing stencil, to make sure your fabric is going to be cut in the right way.

Cut it out

Step Two: Cut out your shapes! This was a perk to choosing a heart because you can make one by only cutting one side of the heart, as many of us might have learned in childhood. I don’t need to cut both sides if I fold the fabric in half, and I ended up only having to make that folded cut once for both sides of my keychain by folding the fabric into fourths. That way, with one swooping I-want-a-heart-shape cut, I got two bits of fabric that admittedly needed a bit of tailoring, but were good starting places for my heart.

With 1 swooping I-want-a-heart-shape cut, I got 2 bits of fabric that admittedly needed a bit of tailoring, but were good starting places for my heart.

With 1 swooping I-want-a-heart-shape cut, I got 2 bits of fabric that admittedly needed a bit of tailoring, but were good starting places for my heart.

Whether you find a simple method to make both pieces at once or use a stencil, cut two shapes out of the block of fabric — one for the keychain’s front side and one for the back. Make sure they’re even enough so that too much excess material doesn’t show on either side and that you’ve accomplished cutting the shape you wanted — or at least one you can live with! Also, remember to cut a line of fabric that is a couple of inches long and wide enough to suit your purpose (maybe ¼”). This will be your loop to put the keyring through. NOTE: These numbers can vary depending on what size you want your keychain to be!

Step Three: Once your shapes are cut and trimmed, it’s time to start planning your sewing. Even though this is a small project, it could still pay to have straight pins keeping your work in place, so you might want to break out a couple! Be sure before you pin or sew that your main fabric pieces are together with their patterned sides facing outward, and don’t forget to fold that additional line of fabric and place the tips of both ends between the two shapes.

Be sure before you pin or sew that your main fabric pieces are together with their patterned sides facing outward.

Be sure before you pin or sew that your main fabric pieces are together with their patterned sides facing outward.

Put a ring on it

You might think about going ahead and adding your keyring here as well so that you don’t have to put your fabric through the stress of being twisted through the keyring. To do that, you’d just need to loop the line of fabric through the ring before you pin it between the shaped fabric pieces for sewing.

Step Four: Sew! Since this is a keychain, the process won’t take long! And be sure to cut off the excess thread when you finish!

Sew! Since this is a keychain, the process won’t take long!

Sew! Since this is a keychain, the process won’t take long!

Step Five: Hang a key on it and enjoy!

Basics of Quilt Maintenance

Basics of Quilt Maintenance

Maintenance. It can be a big deal in home, car and… quilt upkeep. That’s right. Just like letting your car go well beyond its oil change moment can snowball into a vehicle that isn’t budging without a major repair bill, not maintaining a quilt in the proper way could result in a sentimental treasure that’s good for little else than — maybe — scrap material. Sure, your quilt might not cost as much as, say, an engine to replace, but there’s more value in something handmade than a dollar sign. Maybe it was a wedding gift from a relative or a crib accessory that your mother started making before you slept your first night in said crib. Those types of belongings can have a lot of worth, so preserving them might be a big deal.

Wear, tear & time

Don’t break your own heart by letting this kind of damage happen to something close to it!

Don’t break your own heart by letting this kind of damage happen to something close to it!

One of the most important details about this preservation is to keep an eye on the products on a regular basis since smaller complications that come from wear, tear and time could be much easier to repair than those that have been expanding for some time. Other important details are to know how to fix the damage and determining if the damage is even fixable. As an example for these aspects, I’ll use a quilt that has some sentimental value to me, but a lack of maintenance has taken its toll. Don’t break your own heart by letting this kind of damage happen to something close to it!

Damage control

Let’s examine this first spot of damage, shall we?

Let’s examine this first spot of damage, shall we?

Let’s examine this first spot of damage, shall we? It looks fairly simple with just two simple holes in the top layer of fabric, so if I begin this examination with the basic question of whether or not it’s fixable, the answer would be yes! The smaller sizes here would allow a little bit of embellishment — maybe a patch — to be placed directly over the damaged area. Since this is a quilt that has a floral design, I could add something like a butterfly there so that it looks like it’s landing on the flower. Sure, it changes the design a bit, but it fits and is corrective. This issue, it seems, was detected in time!

Do away with the fray

The material is showing wear & tear around the seams and that’s not very surprising!

The material is showing wear & tear around the seams and that’s not very surprising!

Now, let’s try this one. The material is showing wear and tear around the seams and that’s not very surprising! The damage does extend a bit beyond the immediate area surrounding the seam, but it still seems to stem from that one line where the thread is running through. So, is it fixable? Yes! All I would need to do is add a border around the block to cover the issue, and if I did that for every block, the strategy would be replicated throughout so that this block wouldn’t look out of place. Again, it would change the design of the quilt, but not in a way that would necessarily make it look odd. I could match the border to the colors already present, and the addition could actually create a popping look for each block.

To fix or not to fix

This one is shredded, & the top layer isn’t covering as much material as it did in the prior pictures. But is it fixable? Believe it or not, yes!

This one is shredded, & the top layer isn’t covering as much material as it did in the prior pictures. But is it fixable? Believe it or not, yes!

How about this one? Well, the damage here is much more drastic than a simple tearing from stitching or tiny holes in the fabric. Instead, this looks more shredded, and the top layer isn’t covering as much material as it did in the prior pictures. But is it fixable? Believe it or not, yes! Since this area is at the end of the quilt, changing the size of the quilt could work. I would need to cut off enough material on this side of the quilt so that the damaged territory is done away with and redo the border work. It’s not as easy of a fix as sewing on a butterfly embellishment, and the appearance of the quilt would definitely be altered by the smaller territory. But, if pressed, this would be a fix!

Too far gone?

The fabric became too worn, whether from use, washing, time, or some other variable, & without the proper methods to fix the problem, it spread.

The fabric became too worn, whether from use, washing, time, or some other variable, & without the proper methods to fix the problem, it spread.

Now, we get to this one. Here, this looks as if the fabric became too worn, whether from use, washing, time, or some other variable, and without the proper methods to fix the problem, it spread. Of course, there could be another explanation for it. Perhaps someone ripped it, and the damage grew. Whatever the reason, the faulted block is in the midst of the quilt, and this fabric probably won’t go together at this point. This one, dear readers, doesn’t seem to be strategically fixable. In my defense, this damage could have happened before I got into sewing, but if I’d paid attention and caught a small hole in the fabric, I could have embellished it. If there was a tiny rip, I could’ve stitched it. As it stands though, the only ways I can see to fix this would be to add on an embellishment that would be too large to look natural or change the entire block — which would throw off the pattern of the quilt. This one, it seems, has gone too far.

And this is precisely why you should keep an eye out for damage! If you catch the smaller problems, you can fix them. If you let them escalate, you could be looking at a ruined quilt. So to preserve your works, keep tabs on them and — through borders, embellishments, and adjustments — tend to those issues as they show up!

Must Have Sewing Notions and Supplies

Must Have Sewing Notions and Supplies

Last week, I told you about my dream sewing room furniture. This week, I want to share with you my must have sewing supplies. And no, I don’t actually own all of them since I don’t yet have that dream sewing room. Call this my dream sewing supplies list, I guess.

Must Have Sewing Notions and Supplies

Dress Form

I adore making cute summer sundresses. Right now, I measure myself, cut along what I hope are the right lines in the pattern and hem it by hanging the dress on closet hanger. Not ideal, but so far at least, they’ve all come out fine. I’d love a dress form though so I could check the fit and make minor tweaks and modifications as I go. I’m kind of between dress form sizes right now, so I’d have to make a call on which size to get – or if money was really no object, just get both!

Amazing Sewing Scissors

Alright, so I do have a pair of fabric scissors. I couldn’t consider myself a sewer if I didn’t. But I don’t love them. The handles are hard plastic and someone (not naming any names) used them to cut paper at some point, which kind of screwed up the cutting surface. I’d really love a pair of fabric scissors with a softer handle, especially since breaking my right hand last year. Even better, the ones I linked to have a purple handle! That’s my favorite color. Definitely on my sewing supplies wish list.

How about you?

Long Ruler

I don’t necessarily need to cut long, straight lines making sundresses, but I do need to measure long stretches of fabric to line up pattern pieces. Right now, I use a soft measuring tape. I pin it down on one side and pull it taut to measure. It’s not ideal, but it gets the job done. A yard stick or long ruler would go a long way towards making measuring easier.

What’s on your sewing supplies wish list? Sewing Machines Plus probably has it! Check out the website and let yourself dream.

Leftover Fabric: The Toss Across Edition

Leftover Fabric: The Toss Across Edition

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have quite a bit of fabric leftover from the top layer of my quilt, right? Well, I do, and it’s interesting to come up with practical, usable projects that could give that fabric a purpose. This week, I did exactly that, and I’m going to share the idea that was a two-fold win for me: Using a little bit of fabric and creating something that I had a genuine reason for making.

Frozen Toss Across set , and it comes with simple blue throwing bags.

Frozen Toss Across set , and it comes with simple blue throwing bags.

So, my niece has this Frozen Toss Across set , and it comes with simple blue throwing bags. The idea is to tic-tac-toe with Anna or Elsa (whichever character you are) to win, but the thing is that we currently only have three throwing bags out of the original set that we can use. What that boils down to is that the two of us would play the game one toss at a time, and we’d have to keep going over to the board to retrieve the bags for the next round. Sure, it’s doable, but it isn’t as convenient as only having to go bag-retrieving every third toss or so!

Get resourceful

Yesterday, it occurred to me that I have small pieces of material and fewer throwing bags than we used to have. Why not use some of that fabric to make new throwing bags?

It’s a simple idea, and the process was fairly to-the-point. All I needed beyond the sewing essentials of fabric, needles, thread, and pins was something to fill up the bag, which I honestly had to think on for a while — maybe until I was ready to fill the throwing bag. I thought about trying small rocks, but I was sewing at night. Since I didn’t want to wait until morning to finish my trial sewing bag or go rock hunting at night, I needed another option. At some point, it dawned on me that I have blue sand that could work, but you might find something just as fitting for the purpose around your house. Just think a little outside of the box, and the fillings might take shape!

Time to begin

I took one of the pieces of fabric & folded it in half since the fabric size was nearly ideal to make two separate throwing bags.

I took one of the pieces of fabric & folded it in half since the fabric size was nearly ideal to make two separate throwing bags.

Now that we have the list of supplies, it’s time to get into how all of them came together into a Toss Across throwing bag. First, I took one of the pieces of fabric and folded it in half since the fabric size was nearly ideal to make two separate throwing bags. These bags needed to be small enough to flip spaces on the board, after all! Once I cut the fabric in half, I again cut it in the opposite direction so that what started as one piece of material was now four individual pieces — two for each throwing bag.

Luckily, these are small products, so I only needed about three pins to hold them!

Luckily, these are small products, so I only needed about three pins to hold them!

Then it was time to pin them. Luckily, these are small products, so I only needed about three pins to hold them! I took two pieces of the fabric and placed them together so that their printed sides were facing one another and pinned them on three sides to hold them steady. Note: This is also a good time to trim off any excess fabric on the ends if they’re terribly uneven with one another, though these seams will be inside the bag anyway. You don’t have to be too careful to make things perfect!

From there, it was time to sew, which was a pretty straightforward process! Three sides needed to be closed up completely, but I needed to keep that fourth side open to fill the sewing bag before I closed it as well. I simply sewed one side, then the next, and then the next. Then, it was time to flip the bag so that the printed fabric was now on the outside and add in what I decided would be blue sand to fill it. Again though, you can try a different tactic to fill the throwing bag — sand, beads, etc.

You can try a different tactics to fill the throwing bag — sand, beads, etc.

You can try a different tactics to fill the throwing bag — sand, beads, etc.

Be sure though while you’re filling the throwing bag that you don’t fill it too full. It’s important that it’s weighty enough to be able to turn one of the Toss Across spaces, but if it’s too full, you might have a hard time sewing that final side together. As it happens, I ended up towing the line, so for future projects, I might use a little less filling!

Once I’d finished with the filling, I sewed that final line together. I did this by folding the edges inward, kind of like I was wrapping a present, then folded the line downward to pin it in place. After that, I just had to sew what I’d pinned and cut the thread.

I did this by folding the edges inward, kind of like I was wrapping a present, then folded the line downward to pin it in place.

I did this by folding the edges inward, kind of like I was wrapping a present, then folded the line downward to pin it in place.

I have plenty of fabric to keep making these, but already with this one bag, I’ve evened up the throwing bag numbers so we can play two rounds at a time!

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.
Raggedy Coasters

Raggedy Coasters

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and as you might know from previous posts, I’m a holiday fan! In fact, I spent time researching Valentine’s Day projects for a post, and I chose one specific sewing craft that I thought was a cute idea. That concept is a raggedy coaster with a heart in the middle, which seemed simple and pretty. It was also useful since I have a Valentine’s Day party coming up with my nieces and nephew. I have plenty of leftover fabric from my latest quilt, so using it for homemade décor for the party sounded like a good notion!

That concept is a raggedy coaster with a heart in the middle, which seemed simple & pretty.

That concept is a raggedy coaster with a heart in the middle, which seemed simple & pretty.

Unfortunately though, one detail of the project did get derailed because I decided I didn’t like the Cupid cutout that I had planned to use in the center of my coaster. It looked amateur and out of place, so I made the executive decision not to use it. That meant that the coaster wasn’t very Valentine’s Day-ish since the top portion is a general floral pattern, but I was still interested to see how things would play out. And, as I’d been wanting to try a rag quilt for a while, this was a good time to test the waters. If I didn’t like the process of making one rag coaster, an entire rag quilt might not be something I wanted to dive into!

Stock up

The needed supplies are fairly minimal. All you really need are the bare essentials of a sewing project, like a needle, thread, fabric, pins, and scissors. Once you have those, you’re ready to start work on your coaster!

First, pick out the material you’ll use. Ideally, you would have batting in between the top and bottom layers because this raggedy craft can be, in truth, a miniature quilt sandwich. For me though, I didn’t have any batting available, so I decided to layer four pieces of fabric together. That way, there’s more thickness than what I would’ve gotten from just three pieces of thin fabric.

Let’s get started

Once you choose your material, make sure the pieces are cut into similar-sized bits that are more or less quadrilaterals. This is actually one benefit of a rag coaster or quilt. You’ll be shredding the ends anyway, so it doesn’t matter if they’re the exact same length at every point. Just make sure they’re close enough that, with the raggedy edges, they’ll look the same!

You’ll need to allow extra space beyond where you sew the pieces together for your ragged edges.

You’ll need to allow extra space beyond where you sew the pieces together for your ragged edges.

From there, you layer those fabric/batting pieces in the correct order and pin them together — but not necessarily right at the ends of the material. You’ll need to allow extra space beyond where you sew the pieces together for your ragged edges. Also, if you find after pinning that you have a bit of extra material that’s going to really stick out once your coaster has been shredded, feel free to trim off those ends.

Feel free to trim off those ends.

Feel free to trim off those ends.

Time to sew

Then you can start sewing! Remember to try for a box shape within your block of fabric, and to keep that space away from the edges. After you’ve sewn all the way around to finish that box shape, cut off the excess thread and get ready to do some shredding!

Be careful to give a decent number of cuts as you go around the fabric because the more you cut, the more thorough your raggedy quality could be!

Be careful to give a decent number of cuts as you go around the fabric because the more you cut, the more thorough your raggedy quality could be!

Now, shredding happens to be a bit more time consuming than I expected, but it’s a simple process! All you do is take your scissors and cut from the edges of the fabric inward, but never so far that you cut your stitches since that can seriously damage your final product! Also, be careful to give a decent number of cuts as you go around the fabric because the more you cut, the more thorough your raggedy quality could be!

Common mistake

Another tip on shredding is to make sure that you’re cutting through all layers of your coaster or quilt. I noticed a time or two that I’d left the bottom layer uncut for some of my shreds, so missing a space here or there is an easy thing to do! For a thorough job, check your results as you go along!

Once the shreds are finished, you’re ready to throw your product in the washing machine! Believe it or not, the washing and drying process makes those simple cuts attain that raggedy appearance!

What I learned from this experience is that making a rag quilt is going to be more complex than I expected. I’ll need to cut fabric, layer it, sew it, then shred it, and shredding is pretty tedious! I honestly wasn’t mentally prepared for what awaited me, and I think I have a better idea now. Although it’s different than the quilts/blankets I’ve made before, I’m still interested in making one. So, basically, the hunt for a Valentine’s Day project worked out differently than I thought — but still well!

Do My Seams Have to Be Perfect?

Do My Seams Have to Be Perfect?

I hear this question a lot from my sewing students. Beginning sewers are nervous about their ability to sew along the line without small bobbles. They’re worried that any imperfections will ruin their sewing project. I’m going to tell you the same thing I tell them.

Do My Seams Have to Be Perfect?

Do My Seams Have to Be Perfect?

Do your seams have to be perfect? No. Ninety degree jogs in and out probably won’t look right, but a slight wavering here and there usually isn’t a problem. If you’re making something that’s skin-tight kind of fitted, it matters a lot more than if you’re making something loose fitting or flowy.

Since the first project I have my sewing students make is a bean bag or pillow, I tell them to play around with it. PURPOSELY mess up a seam and see how it looks on the finished project. I suggest you try it too. You don’t have to make a beanbag, use a piece of scrap material that’s the same fabric as you’ll be using for your finished project. Pull the seam really tight – you’ll be able to see exactly how any imperfections in the seam line will appear. Most of the time, it’s not noticeable.

A few exceptions: skin tight clothing, spandex or other elastic materials, seams sewn in a contrasting color that are seen on the outside of your completed work. In each of these cases, the seams are quite noticeable. Take your time with them.

Don’t forget, if you sew a seam and discover you’re not happy with it, you can always rip it out. I know it’s not ideal, but one of the things I love about sewing is there’s nothing that’s not correctable. For me, it takes away some of the stress.

If fear of not having perfect seams has been holding you back from starting a sewing project, or learning to sew at all, set that fear aside and give it a try! You’ll be glad you did.

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.
Pressing: Side or Open?

Pressing: Side or Open?

Once upon a time, I had an extended conversation (argument?) with a friend as we — as adults — threw all of our cards on the table in regard to the matter of who had it worse: Pluto or Goofy.

The point of referencing this conversation is that sometimes some of the smallest details can be points of major debate, and that idea is as true in the sewing world as it is for preferred cartoon characters. For instance, pressing your seams while sewing is a common thing, but there are two methods that are seemingly at odds among seam-pressers: side pressing and open pressing. It’s a small detail, but both sides have very real support! Don’t believe me? Do some Googling!

Some of the smallest details can be points of major debate.

Some of the smallest details can be points of major debate.

I’m not sure I personally lean too heavily in either direction, so let’s go through them and see if we can come up with a winning method! The competition will be based on a point-gained system, and it will include the understood sewing project of a quilt for reference. Sound good? Then let’s go!

Let us begin

How about we start with the to-the-side method?

How about we start with the to-the-side method?

How about we start with the to-the-side method? One advantage would be that it’s easier to push the material to a single side for ironing than to force the pieces apart and iron openly. That’s something that, to me, a general consideration of the matter would support. You don’t have to hold both pieces of fabric in separate places like you might with the open method, so one point for side pressing!

Another benefit would be that, as a certain source pointed out, open pressing would logically weaken your product. With that technique, you would have an easier time seeing your stitches after the pressing because there isn’t that barrier of fabric to snuggly nestle them. Stitches are more protected with material covering them, and with the effort you put into your quilt, simple things to keep it intact are good! So, two points for the to-the-side notion!

One nice aspect about pressing to the sides is once you start pinning it's much simpler than pinning fabric pressed in the open fashion.

One nice aspect about pressing to the sides is once you start pinning it’s much simpler than pinning fabric pressed in the open fashion.

One other aspect about pressing to the sides is that, should you need to pin things following the pressing, doing so is much simpler than if you attempt it once it’s been pressed in the open fashion. Since I’ve been known to take a straight pin to the finger anyway, this advantage seems very tempting! Side pressing 3, open pressing 0!

Let’s open up

The open method isn’t altogether a bad idea.

The open method isn’t altogether a bad idea.

But, then again, the open method isn’t altogether a bad idea. For one thing, you don’t have to concern yourself with what direction you’re pressing your material. There’s no need to go back and see how you pressed a nearby seam because you can just assume it was open, like the rest. The uniformity is already there without having to come up with a pattern. Point one for the open strategy, then!

Another detail worth mentioning about this open approach is that you might find that you have a less lumpy final product. Again, this is logical. If you press your material to the right, then on the right, you have both sides of the seam and the fabric it’s laying against. That situation makes for three layers of fabric on the right for every pressed seam (not including batting and backing) while the left side — the one you pressed away from — would only have one. And that’s not counting places where your seams would overlap with other seams. Now, of course, the open approach doesn’t make everything equal across the quilt as not every piece of overlying material would have a seam pressed behind it. Still, for the areas where those seams would be present, having two pieces of material on one side and two on the other would be a more balanced situation and could lead to a smoother quilt (though as one source pointed out, “smooth” might not be your goal). So, one more point for this method!

The open approach doesn’t make everything equal across the quilt as not every piece of overlying material would have a seam pressed behind it.

The open approach doesn’t make everything equal across the quilt as not every piece of overlying material would have a seam pressed behind it.

An additional benefit of open pressing is that it’s more convenient when dealing with different colors of fabric, particularly if you’re pairing a dark one with a light one. If you press them to the side, there’s the chance that you’ll end up seeing darker fabric through a lighter one if you don’t plan and choose the correct side to press to. If you’re pressing them openly though, each color could be behind its own pattern, potentially hiding your dark fabric behind the same type of dark fabric. Seeing as how noticing a different pattern through the top of your quilt might not be aesthetically pleasing, I think the open method gets one more point in this contest!

And the winner is…

That makes the score three-to-three. So, what’s the tiebreaker?

Preference! I can toss all kinds of facts and details at you, but in the end, your quilt is, in fact, yours! Work with what makes you feel the most comfortable for these aspects. For some people, habit might lead the way. For others, it might be a logical deduction of what seems best. In the end though, there’s not an across-the-board right or wrong answer to this dilemma. Either/or, sometimes this one and sometimes that one… Sewing is a world of opportunity, and this small factor is one of the many to choose from!