Handmade Quilts – the Gift that Keeps Giving

Handmade Quilts – the Gift that Keeps Giving

I love to make clothes, but quilting isn’t really my thing. From afar, I admire and drool over gorgeous handmade quilts and ponder the patience involved in creating such intricate designs. In high school, my love of fabric crafts had me relegated to one of the unpopular groups – not that I fit in with any of them either. In college, I was lucky enough to have a roommate who discovered a passion for quilting her senior (my sophomore) year.

Friends and benefits

Handmade Quilts – the Gift that Keeps Giving

Her passion for quilting became a gift to me! One that keeps on giving, even though we’ve since lost touch. In college, it meant I finally had someone to geek out with me over awesome fabrics and different sewing machine options. I admit, I’m not the easiest person to live with, so the commonality of fabric crafts is what probably saved our roommate relationship.

After she graduated, she made me a quilt for my bed using my favorite colors: purple and teal. I still use it today. I’ve got it draped over my lap right now, in fact because in my part of the country, it’s cold and rainy. The quilt she gifted me has served me well in the nearly 15 years since I graduated college. Not only is it warm and pretty, it consistently matches the décor in my home, no matter how many times I move. And it reminds me of my first fabric craft friend.

Practice makes perfect

At some point, for practice, she also made me a smaller, square quilt with a variety of black and white fabrics. It’s not large enough to cover me and keep me warm, but I love it and the thought she put into. I’m not sure how’d she feel about this, but I used it to make a cat bed under one of the window sills. It’s great because I can easily wash it and the cats love the softness and cushioning it provides to what would otherwise be a wooden bench.

Just like the clothes I make are made with love, so too are homemade quilts. That love combined with the utilitarian factor of quilts make them the gift that keeps on giving. Whether they’re given for big life events like wedding or births or simply as a way to say “I care,” homemade quilts are a gift that the receiver may carry throughout their lives.

How to Hang a Quilt

How to Hang a Quilt

I recently wrote about this Dr. Seuss Quilt I made to donate to our local elementary school’s annual gala. Most of my donations have been made online so I hadn’t thought in advance about hanging or displaying the quilt at an event.

 

Dr. Seuss Quilt

Dr. Seuss Quilt

I poked around the internet and looked at the best way to consider hanging a quilt after it had been made. Many showed how to sew triangle pouches or hanging sheaths during the process of adding on the back of the quilt but not many talked about what to do after the fact. Here is what I decided on.

Let’s get started

There were still a few strips of my binding fabric on hand because I always tend to make too much.

There were still a few strips of my binding fabric on hand because I always tend to make too much.

I headed to our local hardware store and bought a small dowel. I was pretty sure that if I doubled over the binding strip, the dowel would slip in perfectly to the tube I created.

I was pretty sure that if I doubled over the binding strip, the dowel would slip in perfectly to the tube I created.

I sewed the top of the tube in advance of sewing it onto the quilt.

I sewed the top of the tube in advance of sewing it onto the quilt.

OK, easy part is over…

This part was the trickiest. I really didn’t want a super visible stitch on the quilt’s front so I measured front and back to align the fabric tube as perfectly as I could with a main seam on the front.

This part was the trickiest.

This part was the trickiest.

I pinned it and double checked on the front to see if I had gotten it right.

I pinned it and double checked on the front to see if I had gotten it right.

Then I used a basting stitch and sewed the bottom of the tube to the back of the quilt.

Then I used a basting stitch & sewed the bottom of the tube to the back of the quilt.

Nicely done

Moment of truth! And I nailed it almost perfectly. The seam is pretty invisible on the front.

The seam is pretty invisible on the front.

The seam is pretty invisible on the front.

Next up I slid the dowel into the fabric tube and voilà, it fit in just right.

Next up I slid the dowel into the fabric tube & voilà, it fit in just right.

Here’s how it looked from the front.

Here’s how it looked from the front.

With the dowel in place, I could roll the quilt for easy transportation.

With the dowel in place, I could roll the quilt for easy transportation.

Showtime

I contacted the hotel where the event would be happening and went in advance to see where exactly I could hang the quilt. The management let me know I could use Command Hooks on the wall so I brought the hooks, some rubbing alcohol and a cloth wipe (to clean where I’d be placing the hooks), a level to make sure I hung them evenly, the quilt, and some scissors to trim any stray threads.

I contacted the hotel where the event would be happening & went in advance to see where exactly I could hang the quilt.

The hooks needed an hour after being hung to attain their full strength so I brought the quilt back home until the actual event.

The hooks needed an hour after being hung to attain their full strength so I brought the quilt back home until the actual event.

And here is the finished product hanging at the gala that night. Lovely, no?

Here is the finished product hanging at the gala that night.

After the gala I brought the quilt back home to remove the fabric tube on the back. The basting stitch I had used made it quick work to take off.

The basting stitch I had used made it quick work to take off.

I then recycled the tube of fabric and used to wrap up the quilt for gifting.

How to Hang a Quilt

Have you ever donated something you’ve sewn to benefit an organization you cared about? 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.
Sew a Rice Pack Whole Body Heating Pad

How to Sew a Rice Pack Whole Body Heating Pad

How to Sew a Rice Pack Whole Body Heating Pad

You can sew a rice pack heating pad to any size at all.

The first one I ever made was a rectangle maybe about four by six inches. Okay, maybe it was a little bigger than that, but in use, it turned out to be silly small and I wanted a larger one.

I have made smaller rice packs that serve a neat purpose, though.

These make sweet pocket warmers when stuffed with rice.

These make sweet pocket warmers when stuffed with rice.

For a heating pad, bigger is better. So I made a large one with a folded kitchen towel and a big bag of rice, and this was a helpful friend for some time.

But have you ever wanted a full body hugging heating pad? I have, every month for some time now. I have wanted one to wrap around my tummy, and my dear and I have both wished for something bigger for pains in the neck and shoulders, too.

So I bought a huge bag of rice in bulk and decided to finally sew a rice pack heating pad big enough to wrap around.

So I bought a huge bag of rice in bulk & decided to finally sew a rice pack heating pad big enough to wrap around.

So I bought a huge bag of rice in bulk & decided to finally sew a rice pack heating pad big enough to wrap around.

Here’s how I made it:

Materials

  • 2/3 yd sturdy fabric
  • 20 cups rice

Of course you need a sewing machine, thread, scissors and/or a rotary cutter and mat.

Step one

Fold the fabric for your heating pad in half so that it makes a long rectangle approximately 44 inches (it will likely be shorter than 44 inches after pre-washing your fabric) by 12 inches, and press.

Then, make a narrow hem along both of the long (~44”) edges. Or you can serge along these edges with your serger.

Step two

Now fold it again, with right sides together. Sew along both short edges. Leave the long end open.

Of course you can serge these seams, too.

Clip the corners, and turn right sides out.

Step three

Now you are going to measure and then sew four lines of stitching to section the rectangle into five sections. These lines will run parallel to the end seams you just sewed.

I found the middle, then measured four inches out from there on either side, and marked my first two lines to create the middle section. Then I measured eight inches out from each of these to create the other sections.

Sew these lines from the bottom but end them approximately 3/4 inch before you reach the top.

Step four

And there is your whole body heating pad, which will wrap all around like a warm & heavy hug when you need it.

And there is your whole body heating pad, which will wrap all around like a warm & heavy hug when you need it.

Scoop two cups of rice into each opening.  Hold the bag and be sure all the rice flows to the very bottom of the pockets.

Now, sew a long line, parallel to the open edges, to bisect the five sections into ten.

Step five

Scoop two more cups of rice into each of the remaining five sections.

Then you can sew the long opening closed. I turned this over and sewed it down again to make this seam stronger, too.

If you want to be extra careful to prevent the rice from spilling out while you sew, then take the extra time to baste the long opening closed with quilter’s safety pins.

And there is your whole body heating pad, which will wrap all around like a warm and heavy hug when you need it.

To use:

Microwave the heat pad to warm. Microwave ovens vary a lot, so you will have to determine for yourself how long you should heat yours. Five minutes seems about right for mine, but be careful not to burn yourself.

Remove the pad from the microwave, shake it up a bit and evenly distribute the heat. Wrap it around your tummy, your shoulders, even your legs. Or lie down and use the whole length along your back from top to bottom.  And feel better soon!

Fabrics and Textiles in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Fabrics and Textiles in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

San Miguel de Allende, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.

San Miguel de Allende, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.

I recently traveled to San Miguel de Allende, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico for a five day writer’s retreat with two friends. Although famous in Mexico proper, many gringos have not heard of San Miguel, located the mountains at 6,200 ft. elevation, at approximately Mexico’s center (200 miles north of Mexico City and about 600 miles from the Texas border).

Although famous in Mexico proper, many gringos have not heard of San Miguel.

Although famous in Mexico proper, many gringos have not heard of San Miguel.

I’m a sewist and a writer and while I was there to work on my book, I could not tear my eyes away from the gorgeous colors of the city and the beautiful fabrics & textiles I found there.

I could not tear my eyes away from the gorgeous colors & textiles of the city.

I could not tear my eyes away from the gorgeous colors & textiles of the city.

Even the city itself reminded me of a patchwork quilt.

Even the city itself reminded me of a patchwork quilt.

Even the city itself reminded me of a patchwork quilt.

Mexico is not afraid to use color, in fact it embraces bright, vibrant colors in both private and public buildings, art, and culture.

 

Locals claim that the birthplace of the serape is San Miguel de Allende and I was inundated with options.

Locals claim that the birthplace of the serape is San Miguel de Allende.

Locals claim that the birthplace of the serape is San Miguel de Allende.

Other items on display were rugs, pillowcases, bedding sets, purses, bags, belts, guayaberas, and embroidered and woven fabrics.

The hand embroidery I found particularly compelling. I bought a bright yellow bag with hand embroidery and my girlfriend, Lizz, bought a hand embroidered panel she plans to hang on her wall at home.

This is the panel she purchased (photo taken with permission).

This is the panel she purchased.

This is the panel she purchased.

This booth was my favorite. It was located in El Mercado de Artesanías. I was so inspired that I had my pencil and paper out and took notes to plan out quilts I’d love to make with the huge, hand-embroidered panels.

This booth in El Mercado de Artesanías was my favorite.

This booth in El Mercado de Artesanías was my favorite.

They sold smaller squares too, similar to charm packs and layer cakes. I’ve worked these into some upcoming designs as well.

I’ve worked these into some upcoming designs as well.

I’ve worked these into some upcoming designs as well.

Mexico also has the best selection of oil cloth fabrics. Make sure to pick up a few yards for your stash whenever you visit.

Make sure to pick up a few yards for your stash whenever you visit.

Make sure to pick up a few yards for your stash whenever you visit.

After a long day in el centro, I spotted this Singer sewing table used for display at a local tienda. Sewing is everywhere.

Sewing is everywhere.

Sewing is everywhere.

Here I’m enjoying a hard earned beer after a long day of writing, but it’s the bag in the foreground I want you focus on. Check out that embroidery and the stunning color!

Check out that embroidery & the stunning color!

Check out that embroidery & the stunning color!

I cannot wait to go back. Have you ever visited San Miguel? Did you buy any fabric while you were there? Share with us your finds in the comments.

I cannot wait to go back.

I cannot wait to go back.

(All photos were taken with permission)
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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.
Gifts to Sew for Mom

Gifts to Sew for Mom

Are you looking for ideas to sew for Mom?

Moms come in all types. But most appreciate handmade gifts, especially the ones you make. Whether your mom is glitzy or sporty, a homebody or a world traveler, we’ve got you covered.

For Mother’s Day, her birthday, holiday gifts, or just because you love her, here are lots of fun project ideas you can sew for mom.

Zip bags

There are so many uses for these that zippered cases are always a good gift idea. She can use one for a cosmetics bag for her purse or travel, to hold pencils or art supplies, or anything else. I once made a matching set of these in several sizes for a gift for my mom.

She can use these to hold anything.

She can use these to hold anything.

Quilt

Whether she likes to get comfy in her favorite chair or she babysits grand-babies, a lap quilt is a perfect choice to sew for mom. Make one in her favorite colors, to match her décor, or choose a special pattern.

The blocks in these quilts were pieced by my mother's and my husband's grandmothers. I found them in their sewing boxes & put them together with borders to make these lap quilts for our moms to share with their grand babies.

The blocks in these quilts were pieced by my mother’s and my husband’s grandmothers. I found them in their sewing boxes & put them together with borders to make these lap quilts for our moms to share with their grand babies.

And speaking of grand kids and special quilt patterns, you could get the kids involved and make a handprint quilt for their grandmother.  You can make a handprint quilt using washable fabric paint and the kids’ hands as stamps. Or you can have them trace and then cut out their hands and use these as appliqué patterns.

Handbag

Most ladies will appreciate a beautiful new handbag. Depending on your mom’s style, you could make her a clutch, a wristlet, a structured bag, or a casual cross-body purse or messenger bag.

The possibilities are endless here. Choose suede, an elegant stamped faux leather or other fancy fabric, a distinctive or wildly patterned print, or build her a bag based on a small piece of patchwork created just for her.

Totes

She can’t have too many tote bags since these are endlessly useful.

She can’t have too many tote bags since these are endlessly useful.

She can’t have too many tote bags since these are endlessly useful. Make her a stylish and sturdy tote bag for her library books, groceries, or other shopping and she will appreciate it endlessly.

Make a gorgeous XL tote in a special fabric and she will be thrilled to use it as a stylish everyday bag. Especially if you add in ample pockets and/or smaller zip bags for organizing contents.

You can make a reversible tote bag in any size and give her two bags in one.  Make a canvas tote with ample pockets inside and out to create a custom beach bag she will love. Or make her a few of these cute shopping bags that collapse into their own pocket.

And consider smaller totes, too. Here is one as pretty as a purse meant for toting her tablet.

Pillowcases

You can’t buy pillowcases as pretty as the ones you can sew. Make her a luxe pair trimmed in vintage lace. Choose a colorful patterned fabric to dress up her bed or a special motif she adores. Whether she loves owls,  Star Trek, or her favorite sports team, you can make her a pillowcase from a yard of any novelty print.

You could make a pillowcase covered in hearts to remind her how much she is loved.

You could make a pillowcase covered in hearts to remind her how much she is loved.

Sew a bouquet

A bouquet of flowers is a standard Mother’s day gift. You can sew her a bouquet of flowers that will never wilt and fade away.

Here are a lot of different ways to make fabric flowers.

Rice Pack

Whether she suffers from pains in the neck, back, tummy, or general monthly pains, an oversized microwavable rice pack heating pad will be a welcomed gift of comfort.

Slippers

There are lots of ways to sew slippers, here are some slipper sewing tutorials to choose from.

Pajamas

You can sew cozy pajamas from silk, cotton, flannel, or fleece. Make them ultra feminine with batiste and lace, or pure fun in a funky print. Start with an easy pattern from Simplicity, McCall’s, or Butterick, or use one of these tutorials.

Easy robe

Like pajamas, you can sew a robe from a lightweight or dressy fabric or from something heavier and more cozy. Robes are easy to sew. You can buy an easy robe sewing pattern or here’s a great tutorial showing how to make your own pattern using rectangles.

Apron

There are so many ways to sew aprons.  You can make her a pretty half apron from just a fat quarter of fabric plus trim, a full coverage bbq style apron from a yard, a reversible apron, or a garden or craft apron.

  • Oven mitts/ pot holders
  • Table runner
  • Placemats
  • Napkins

Travel bags

If your mom travels a lot, there are a lot of great gifts you could sew to help her

Project link at Positively Splendid.

Project link at Positively Splendid.

Pareu

I got this idea from the book Travel Gear and Gifts to Make, by Mary Mulari. She says that a pareu (pa-ray’-oo) is actually a colorful Polynesian wrap skirt. But it can also be used as a shawl, head cover, scarf, swimsuit cover up, light blanket, picnic blanket, or even a knapsack for carrying stuff.

This is probably the most used and loved gift I have ever made for my mom, and it is also the simplest. She travels a lot as a car passenger, and she likes to nap with a light blanket while riding.

A pretty pareau works perfectly for that plus more.

To make one, you just hem a square or rectangle. You can make one from a 44″ or a 60″ square. Since I knew she would use it as a blanket, I made my mom’s in the larger size. And I sewed a small matching tote with a strap, for storing the pareau rolled up while not in use. I bet it has been over ten years since I made it for her, and she still raves about and uses this gift all the time.

Needlebook

If your mom sews a lot or even just a little, she will certainly treasure a needle book you make with love just for her. You can make a simple one from felt or create a patchwork cover and include a zippered “page” for holding small scissors and other supplies.

I like to make needle books with a zippered page inside.

I like to make needle books with a zippered page inside.

Fabric necklace or bracelets

Jewelry is another go-to gift for moms, but have you ever sewn jewelry? Here are some ideas you could try:

I hope this list gave you some good ideas. What will you sew for mom?

Happy Spring! The Joy of Warmer Weather and Beautiful Flowers

Happy Spring! The Joy of Warmer Weather and Beautiful Flowers

Hi! Good to see you again!

Hi! Good to see you again!

Today, I wanted to share what I have been doing these days. It know it has been awhile since I wrote, however, I have been away from my favorite past time for other “pressing matters” (i.e. ironing hubby’s shirts, not quilt squares) and other important tasks!

Scrappy leftovers

I have an enormous collection of scraps in my sewing studio. Since I have been reorganizing in preparation to move our home, I have to make a strong effort to release some things I have collected to make packing a little easier. Well, packing is never easy, but psychologically, it forces you to consider the value of all the things you think you absolutely needed to have, right? And also, without saying, it alerts you to some of the things you want to make this hobby more efficient. No wonder it takes forever to pack and with sewing, I always think if I throw it away, I will want it later. Tough decisions, aren’t they?

So, I started with a pile of disorganized scraps, which I have previously cut for something else, some time ago. I don’t even remember what I had in mind at the time, but I need to throw them away or use them. This is just part of the large amount of fabric and bright colors I have to work with.

This is just part of the large amount of fabric & bright colors I have to work with.

This is just part of the large amount of fabric & bright colors I have to work with.

Improv isn’t only for comedians

Recently, I have been learning about “improvisational” sewing. It is interesting to me because I like doing things that are unique to my creativity. However, it takes you out of your comfort zone. The experts say, it reveals your creative side by working with no specific pattern, no color guidelines, no measurements, just picking up random pieces of fabric, basically scraps, and sewing them together without a pattern. It reminds me of the dreaded “improvisational” speeches required in college speech classes.

I know there are many patterns and helpful information about quilting that give exact instructions and even kits that you can complete. So, this is an adventure to test your creativity for sure.

So, now I have my scraps and the easiest way to explain how this came together is: I took a medium sized scrap, and added to others to make an approximate square about 7 x 6 inches. I didn’t measure at all, just found several squares which had in this case, a little girl with a magic wand. I used the “fairy girl” as my focal fabric.

It was not too difficult because the pattern of the fabric was already woven like patchwork.

It was not too difficult because the pattern of the fabric was already woven like patchwork.

It was not too difficult because the pattern of the fabric was already woven like patchwork.

So, I just added like-colored fabric to make an extension of the pattern. No true measurements, pieces were just trimmed to fit inside the square, and the princess would appear somewhere on each one. I used the square as a template and compared the rest to the template, and then trimmed them to be the same size as close as possible. NOW… Comes my favorite friend in the WORLD while quilting! My IRON! And I need a NEW ONE at that (please refer to great wishlist choices from SewingMachinesPlus.com).

Finishing touches

So finally, I was feeling pretty good about how my unplanned, off the top of my head, quilt top was coming along. So I sewed the pieces together in 5 rows and 5 squares each. Then added white jelly roll strips between each row of 5. I had to trim it only a little to make it a true measurement all around.

“Improvise” a cheerful quilt or smaller project & smell the beauty of your creation this spring.

“Improvise” a cheerful quilt or smaller project & smell the beauty of your creation this spring.

I still need to finish the border, batting and binding, but here’s what it looks like now. It was really fun to do, because I didn’t know how it would turn out. I should say I learned that I need solid color between busy patterns to give a quilt top a cohesive, unified look so each quilt patch is recognizable from the next. Do you mix plain fabric among many different prints?

I think you would enjoy this truly personal form of expression with fabric.

“Improvise” a cheerful quilt or smaller project and smell the beauty of your creation this spring.

Better yet, know that even without a plan, or a pattern, you can turn scraps into something as personal as you are! Then, please reply to this blog with pictures. I would love to see them. Until next time, when I will tell you about how I am repurposing handmade flannel wash clothes into a sweet little blanket and stitched without a seam. Carpe diem!

Tell-Tale Traits of a Primitive Quilt

Tell-Tale Traits of a Primitive Quilt

As I step further into the world of sewing, I find that there’s plenty of information out there that I didn’t even know to look for. My primary focus in sewing has been patchwork designs, and I definitely continue to hold a passion in regard to that style of work. I’d love to have a patchwork purse, patchwork clothing, patchwork pillows…

My primary focus in sewing has been patchwork designs, & I definitely continue to hold a passion in regard to that style of work.

My primary focus in sewing has been patchwork designs, & I definitely continue to hold a passion in regard to that style of work.

But I’m not sure I fully realized how many other avenues there are to plan out a quilt before I started looking, and those are details that can be interesting finds! Some of them, though, require a bit of an explanation to truly understand what a quilt of that nature is, and this post will explore one of those types in particular.

Once upon a time

I was in a social media marketing program where, for two of the classes, I had to keep a blog for a business. For one course, I used my author career as the business. For the other, I created a could-someday-be-real quilt company. It was fine, by the way, for the company to not actually be real in the current world!

The idea was that we were to explore marketing concepts through the blog and end up with a marketing plan — at least generally — by the end of the semester. During that quilt-company semester, I came across the idea of a primitive quilt, which was a fairly new phrase to me. At the time, I focused mostly on the social media presence of one particular company, but I find myself now thinking on what exactly a primitive quilt is.

During that quilt-company semester, I came across the idea of a primitive quilt, which was a fairly new phrase to me.

During that quilt-company semester, I came across the idea of a primitive quilt, which was a fairly new phrase to me.

If I claim to be quilter, after all, it might help to know the basic terminology!

After research and consideration of a number of quilts with the label of “primitive,” I offer you a number of details that help to make a primitive quilt… Well, primitive! Note: These are commonalities — not necessarily requirements through and through!

A primitive quilt will make use of neutral colors, though things like dark red & dark blue can make appearances.

A primitive quilt will make use of neutral colors, though things like dark red & dark blue can make appearances.

Basic Coloring

By this, I don’t mean a color-equivalent to no-artificial-flavoring! I mean that the colors are typically more straightforward than neon oranges and vivid pinks. Instead, a primitive quilt will make use of neutral colors, though things like dark red and dark blue can make appearances. These quilts often employ the colors that you might think of when words like “rustic” come to mind — which rationalizes why red and blue are used in regard to red barns and blue skies. In the end, if you plan on making a primitive quilt, you might want to keep the lime green fabric stored away for another project!

Simple Fabric Patterns

Like the coloring, the fabrics, too, are less elaborate than what might be common for a more vividly styled work. Typically, patterns — rather than fabrics — steal the focus in primitive quilts, so no fabric should be so busy or stand-out that it takes attention above and beyond the level of the quilt pattern as a whole. For this, solid colors or very simple patterns on your fabric are your best bet for forming your primitive quilt.

Basic Shapes

Don’t fancy it up!

Don’t fancy it up!

While the overall quilt might have a remarkably interesting visual in regard to its structure, the pieces of fabric that make up that visual are often based on the simplest of designs, like triangles, squares, and rectangles. This doesn’t mean that only geometric shapes can be used for your quilt though! Other shapes can come into play, but make sure to keep them simple to provide that outdated appearance that’s so synonymous with the rustic, primitive design. Think to yourself what the simplest method of delivering an object or shape is — don’t fancy it up!—and you could have the right look!

Empty space

The patterns for primitive quilts are structured, but those empty spaces between the distinct pattern formations can be just as organized. Now, this isn’t necessarily the case for every quilt! It’s not unheard of though for darker, geometric patterns of multiple fabrics to be separated by pieces of lighter fabric that are larger than any individual dark piece. It creates an overall repetition to the quilt, and the result is an almost soothing effect in that the contrast softens the appearance to something calming and steady. As I said, this tactic might be more pronounced in some primitive quilts than others, but don’t be shocked if you notice it fairly often for quilts of this style.

Geometric patterns of multiple fabrics to be separated by pieces of lighter fabric that are larger than any individual dark piece.

Geometric patterns of multiple fabrics to be separated by pieces of lighter fabric that are larger than any individual dark piece.

If you keep these things in mind, you’re on your way to planning a primitive quilt!


References:
Alcorn, J. (2014, September 10). What Is Primitive Home Decor? Retrieved from: https://www.primitivestarquiltshop.com/blogs/quilt-shop-gathering-place/24406593-what-is-primitive-home-decor
Craftsy. (2017, April 24). Can You Spot a Primitive Quilt? Retrieved from https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2017/04/primitive-fabric/
Dr. Seuss Quilt

Dr. Seuss Quilt

Have you ever bought a quilt kit? I buy them sometimes when the inspiration strikes, or when I’m looking for the convenience of having all the fabric I need for a pattern already provided for me. This kit came out in 2015 and is called Celebrate Seuss by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

This kit came out in 2015 & is called Celebrate Seuss by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

This kit came out in 2015 & is called Celebrate Seuss by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

Start Cutting

Quilt kits do NOT mean that the fabric is precut into the shapes you need. Nope. They’ll send the amount of fabric you need but you will need to cut everything to size before you start sewing.

Quilt kits do NOT mean that the fabric is precut into the shapes you need.

Quilt kits do NOT mean that the fabric is precut into the shapes you need.

I actually started this kit last spring in San Diego. First I got all the individual blocks set up and then put them into rows. Once the rows were sewn into a full panel, I packed this project away. It wasn’t until almost 12 months later that I was ready to finish it.

Once the rows were sewn into a full panel, I packed this project away.

Once the rows were sewn into a full panel, I packed this project away.

Make your Project Your Own

On the left you’ll see the finished photo advertised in the kit. Do you notice how the top and bottom center column run directly into the binding? That drove me crazy, so I amended the pattern. I added a 2” strip of blue polka dot fabric to the top and bottom and a 1” strip of the same fabric to the left and right.

See the right photo? Much better, no? I feel like the whole quilt is better framed.

Lesson learned

It’s okay to deviate from a pattern and a kit. Make your project your own.

Make your project your own.

Make your project your own.

For the back fabric I went with a classic, large white polka dot on red that was very much in keeping with Dr. Seuss’ style.

For the back fabric I went with a classic, large white polka dot on red.

For the back fabric I went with a classic, large white polka dot on red.

Method of Quilting

I’m extremely proud of the free motion quilting (FMQ) I did on this quilt. After years of being afraid to try FMQ, I’ve finally embraced the methodology. It took watching a lot of YouTube video tutorials and a lot of practice, but I’m very happy with the results. I used a relaxed, free-motion, jigsaw pattern for this quilt.

After years of being afraid to try FMQ, I’ve finally embraced the methodology.

After years of being afraid to try FMQ, I’ve finally embraced the methodology.

Binding Your Quilt

Another way I deviated from the kit was in choosing a different fabric for the binding then what they provided. The true-red colored fabric they sent clashed with the classic orange-red Dr. Seuss colors in the front panel. Instead I chose a cornflower blue and white polka dot fabric.

I chose a cornflower blue & white polka dot fabric.

I chose a cornflower blue & white polka dot fabric.

There a numerous ways to bind a quilt. I would suggest learning several methods. I made a 2.75” strip of fabric and then ironed that strip in half and sewed the binding onto the back of the quilt first. I pressed it away from the seam (towards the outside of the quilt) and then pressed it around over the front of the quilt. My 4 year old handed me my favorite red Wonderclips as I clipped the binding in place around the front.

http://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/brew-cl3156.php

I used a decorative stitch to sew the binding to the front.

I used a decorative stitch to sew the binding to the front.

I used a decorative stitch to sew the binding to the front. Machine sewing your binding is faster and more secure than hand sewing and I recommend it if you know the quilt will get heavy use and washes or be used by children.

When adding your binding, don’t forget to sew in your quilt tag if you have one.

Don’t forget to sew in your quilt tag if you have one.

Don’t forget to sew in your quilt tag if you have one.

 

All in the Details

Here are close ups of the finished quilt and my free motion stitching. SewingMachinesPlus.com has an amazing assortment of sewing machines that do free motion quilting. Check out their machines here:

http://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/domestic-sewing-machines.php

 

Grand Finale

Taking some final pictures of your finished quilts is worth your effort. Think of how much time you put into each quilt and then grant yourself enough time to wait for the right, natural lighting and find a beautiful location to memorialize your quilts.

A Good Cause

Although it will be hard to part ways, this quilt is being donated to a fundraiser for our local elementary school. Have you ever donated your work to a good cause?

This kit came out in 2015 & is called Celebrate Seuss by Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

Have you ever donated your work to a good cause?

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
Sewing Project Kits: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Sewing Project Kits: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Like many things in life, sewing has a series of ways it can be done that could be different for each individual person. Once upon a time, I covered one of those details in my post about how to press your seams, and there are plenty of other ways that preference can sway the way a person sews.

Weighing the pros & cons of sewing project kits.

Weighing the pros & cons of sewing project kits.

This week, I found myself considering one of those preference details, and that involves pre-assembled kits for sewing projects. Some people might love these kits for their sewing craftiness, and others might feel that the kits come with more negative details than positive. So, as you might’ve guessed, this is the subject for today’s post: Weighing the pros and cons of sewing project kits.

Pros:

If you choose the right kit, you can have the fabric & pattern that you need to create an impressive project at your fingertips just by making this one purchase.

If you choose the right kit, you can have the fabric & pattern that you need to create an impressive project at your fingertips just by making this one purchase.

If you choose the right kit, you can have the fabric and pattern that you need to create an impressive project at your fingertips just by making this one purchase. That’s most of the project-specific details in one package, minus things like thread and general sewing requirements. All in all, these are really convenient in that regard!

You can see an example of your finished project goal before you start. In fact, you can browse project kits until you find one you feel is perfect for your taste and purpose, and you’ll have the fabric to replicate the picture without having to piece together the appearance for yourself. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a project online that I wanted to be able to create, but something as simple as not knowing or being able to find the right fabric can lead to a very different final product. The idea that a pre-assembled kit can cut out that possibility is worth thinking over.

Some of these project kits can be fairly cheap. I’ve found some online for around or under $20—which isn’t that pricey if they come with fabric. Other options can be pricier, but if you stick within your budget, you could find a project kit that doesn’t break your bank account. Even if they are pricier, it’s worth considering how much buying the individual pieces for the projects would be without the kits since the prices might still be reasonable under that kind of inspection.

Cons:

These kits can lessen your input in projects.

These kits can lessen your input in projects.

These kits can lessen your input in projects. While providing the fabric can be a pro, as I said before, it’s also a potential con if you want a project that’s more yours than the sewing kit allows. Maybe you want a gym bag like the kit shows, but you’d rather have star-print fabric than what was provided. If that’s the case, then you’d probably do better searching for a free or cheap pattern and buying your own fabric. In that scenario, even $20 could be a bit much to pay.

The process could be so specific that it doesn’t really challenge an advanced sewing enthusiast. I find the same notion to be true in regard to pre-cut blocks of fabric. If too much work is done for you, you might not be pushing yourself to grow in your craft. Like with a number of other details in life, you have to give yourself space to grow if you want to improve. If everything is given to you pre-ready for assembling, you’re cheating yourself out of bettering your own preparation skills.

Costly regrets

If you have the wrong fabric, after all, you can’t necessarily create the project you intended.

If you have the wrong fabric, after all, you can’t necessarily create the project you intended.

I’ve seen at least one review of a project kit where someone complained that the sent fabric didn’t match up perfectly to what was on the project kit image. I can’t say for sure if this is the case, and even it is, all kits wouldn’t automatically come with the same flaw. Still, it’s worth noting that at times, this could be an issue that makes the kit less impressive than expected. If you have the wrong fabric, after all, you can’t necessarily create the project you intended. Additionally, if the fabric you do receive is so against your taste that you have to replace it, then we’re back to point #1 on the cons list because removing the fabric from the kit lowers its value to where the price could be too much. Who wants to pay for a kit that’s supposed to include fabric, then have to buy extra fabric? Not me!

Given though that con #3 is based on a review that I can’t prove or disprove, I still feel like trying one of these project kits could be worth the money for a person who’s new to sewing, or at least new to sewing a specific product. I’d love to try to sew a purse, for instance, but it’s something I’ve never done. Using a kit could ease me through my first purse and help me get some familiarity with the process before I step into the world of purse-sewing more on my own.

So, I guess my thoughts now are that these sewing kits can be great for beginners, but those with more sewing experience might find them too simple and dictated to fully embrace.

Would you agree or disagree with those assessments? Are you pro-project kit? Let me know in a comment!

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.