Sewing Projects to Prep for Winter

Sewing Projects to Prep for Winter

Where I live, it’s unseasonably warm at the moment, but we all know winter is on the way. Yes, first we’ll experience the glory and brilliant colors of fall, but those crisp days will quickly give way to cold, snowy winters. Now is the time when I and my neighbors begin to prepare for the near-hibernation that will get us through the winter. Much of this involves prepping our homes to retain the heat. There are several sewing projects that help with this task – and make it more fun!

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Draft dodgers

When the cool weather arrives, it’s easy to feel the drafts underneath doors. Even with weather stripping, not all doors form a tight seal against the elements. Sewing a draft dodger is easy and keeps the cold weather out of the house. I use my scrap pile to find a long enough piece of fabric and sew it in a long tube that will be high enough to cover the base of the door. Then stuff it with polyfill or beads. You can even add some ambiance by adding pine, lavender, or other aromatics before sewing it closed. If you’re feeling silly, create a cat, puppy or other furry friend face to attach to the outside.

Thick curtains

It’s common in this area for people to hang quilts over their windows to keep the heat in and the cold air out. While I understand the logic, I dislike blocking the natural light. Winter is dark enough without blocking windows. Instead, sew some thick curtains that can be tacked or pinned around the window sill and frame. This will still keep the drafts out, but will also allow light in. Burlap or linen backing on a material that matches your décor, perhaps with quilting in between, can work quite well.

Bedding

Personally, I love curling up under blankets in the winter so creating a fabulous, thick blanket for my bed is incredibly fun. I’m not a quilter, though if you are, making one that’s extra warm for winter would be immensely fun. Since I’m not, I have a great time finding fun fleece fabrics that coordinate with the rest of my bed linens and adding edging to them.

With these sewing projects, I know I’ll be warm and cozy this winter. If you’re in a cold area also, try them out and see how much warmer your home is this year.

Fabric for Filling Empty Wall Spaces

Fabric for Filling Empty Wall Spaces

Not so long ago, I had a series of plaques that I’d earned hanging on my wall above my bookshelf. Since then, the bookshelf was moved for the sake of rearranging my bedroom, and those same plaques were then hanging to the right side of my bed with a big space of emptiness below them. Now, because I had a concern about those plaques falling off the wall and onto the bed during the calm of a night’s sleep, I took them off of the wall altogether. And now?

Now, I have an even bigger empty space—one that exists from the ceiling to my bed.

Now, I have an even bigger empty space—one that exists from the ceiling to my bed.

Now, I have an even bigger empty space—one that exists from the ceiling to my bed.

Yawn

That’s boring. Very, very boring. It’s like my bedroom is incomplete, and I will potentially feel frustration over this until it’s covered and decorated as fully as the rest of the area is. So because I have such a distaste for the blankness of the wall, my mind has been perusing the possibilities as to what specifically could go on this space to fix the issue and therefore give me a more relaxed mentality in regard to this wall that’s so close to the right side of my bed.

My original idea for fixing my wall-is-too-empty issue was to hang a Marvel poster beside my bed, even though I know by experience that having a poster fall on you in the middle of the night can be a frightening experience. Why? Well, call me a child, but I still appreciate a good poster (and certain Marvel movies). It’s an easy fix that won’t give me a concussion if it falls at night, and it’s a cheap one if I buy the right poster. But then I got to thinking…

You see, I recently cleared out some clothes from the dresser, and if you’ve learned one thing about me through reading my posts on this blog, it could be that I’m cheap and like to make use of what I already have for fabric. So since I did that dresser-clearing, I have material right in my bedroom that can be used to create something to go on this too-empty wall to my right.

So since I did that dresser-clearing, I have material right in my bedroom that can be used to create something

So since I did that dresser-clearing, I have material right in my bedroom that can be used to create something

But what would that something be? That became the question, and through internet browsing, I’ve come up with two options I’d like to share with you.

Let’s brainstorm

The first of these possibilities is to create a wall quilt to hang there, one that’s a combination of the pieces of fabric that were banished from the dresser. Since I adore patchwork quilts, this option could be accomplished by the simple process of using similarly sized pieces of fabric for each block to compose something that’s bright and vivid—and an interesting touch to my wall décor. As I’ve covered patchwork quilts a number of times already on the blog, I won’t go into too much detail about how to make one. Just know that it’s a prospect, and time and effort could lead to a one-of-kind wall hanging to fix my problem through this method.

Beyond that though, I noticed a particular quilt idea that sparked an idea that moves away from the actual quilt theme. It was from a quilt that depicted a flower garden, and it occurred to me that the overall scene could be applied away from the quilt setting. How? You’d just need to assemble the pieces of the quilt project in separate formations and hang them on your wall instead of sewing them to the quilt. For instance, you could take a marker (use a fabric-friendly writing utensil!) and trace the patterns of flowers, butterflies, clouds, the sun, a house… Whatever you feel is appropriate for the scene you’re trying to showcase. Simple rectangles could be used to create a fence, or a combination of fabric types could come together to create something as intricate as a rosebush. Just imagine a hole fabric-created garden scene placed right on your wall!

Take a marker (use a fabric-friendly writing utensil!) & trace the patterns of flowers, butterflies, clouds, the sun, a house…

Take a marker (use a fabric-friendly writing utensil!) & trace the patterns of flowers, butterflies, clouds, the sun, a house…

In fact, this idea could be embraced for more than just using your fabric to cover up an empty space on your wall. You could use your old fabric to create holiday scenes, for example, for a sentimental touch to your decorations. If you only have red and white, you could make candy canes. Only blue? How about snowflakes?! A series of fabrics? Get to work on a gingerbread house! These individual pieces could be tiny projects that of themselves are beautiful and worth showing off, but when you bring them together, their appeal increases—a lot!

Fabric for Filling Empty Wall Spaces

Don’t overlook the prospect of constructing these tiny projects that come together for a bigger work of art! It’s like a quilt, but without the actual quilt part—which is a pretty interesting twist to me!

Common Ground - Women's Sewing Center in Pakistan

Common Ground – Women’s Sewing Center in Pakistan

The road on the way to Chirah.

The road on the way to Chirah.

The road from Gilgit, Pakistan to Chirah in the Bagrote Valley is not an easy one. It starts out easy enough: along the paved Karakorum Highway. But, a few kilometers outside of Gilgit, you take a left directly into the mountains. And then the road is dirt, gravel, large rock, and sand – and steep. Lung wrenchingly steep, if you’re on a bicycle as we were. It winds up and around the mountain, free of guardrails, devoid of almost all traffic except the occasional motorbike. There is nothing to filter the searing sun. The air is heavy and hot and the path always, always, leads upward.

Until finally, the road evens out, becomes almost flat. And green appears – grass, trees, gardens, rows and rows of vegetables spread out on both sides. The air becomes a bit cooler and the winds whistle down from the peaks, circling through the valley in a refreshing heavenly respite.

Chirah Sewing Centre

Chirah is a small village in the Bagrote Valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. The region, self-governing, receives very limited support from the central Pakistani government.

The Chirah Sewing Centre, opened in April of 2012, provides six month courses to the women of the region to learn sewing skills so that they may, if they wish, earn their own income.

The Sewing Centre is housed in a small space provided by a village resident.

The Sewing Centre is housed in a small space provided by a village resident.

The Sewing Centre is housed in a small space provided by a village resident. The room is not very large at all, probably about 12-14 feet by 6-8 feet and there is no electricity. All the machines are treadle or hand operated. Only two of the machines were in cabinets – the rest were on the floor. They were all the old black Singer style machines in wooden cases. The women sit on the floor (or at the limited available tables) to sew, creating all kinds of garments and decorative textiles, a sampling of which hung on the walls of the room.

Little women

The women cooked breakfast for us the day we visited and we ate on the floor surrounded by their machines and sewing projects. The director of the Centre, a man, told us that they were hoping to acquire an overlock machine in the future. I wondered how that would work without electricity but didn’t get a chance to ask my question. Two of the women, the teachers we were told, sat in the corner of the room while we ate. They spoke quietly to each other from time to time but, as is often the case in Pakistan, they never directly addressed us.

I was the only woman in the cycling group of 7 plus 2 male Pakistani guides. We made eye contact, me and the two women in the corner, and they grinned at me when I waved.

After we ate, all the women who were enrolled in the sewing course, filed into the room to sit behind their machines. Everyone took pictures and the Director continued to talk about the women and the centre and what they were learning and what kinds of things they made.

Cultural differences

I tried to convey how I really enjoyed meeting the ladies at the Sewing Centre.

I tried to convey how I really enjoyed meeting the ladies at the Sewing Centre.

The men in my cycling group stood at the doorway and took photos of the women and their machines. I took some too but, after the men had gotten all the pictures they wanted, I went in to talk to the women directly. None of them knew much English and I, unfortunately, know very little Pakistani.

I did have pictures of my sewing machines and my studio on my phone though and I showed them those. One by one, as they scrolled through my photos and realized I sewed also, they smiled and grasped my hands, laughed, and talked excitedly with each other. I desperately wished we could communicate better. I wanted to talk to them about sewing, about the garments they made on machines without electricity. I also sort of wanted to apologize for all of my male companions taking photos of them as if they were in a zoo though I knew that none of them meant it that way. I also wanted to say that I wished they could tell me about the Centre in their own words, without the editing of a male spokesperson. But I couldn’t. So I had to settle for showing them as many pictures as I could and trying to convey how I really enjoyed meeting them and how much respect and admiration I had for them.

I wished that we could all sew together. I wished they were allowed to have their own voices in rooms full of men. I wished there was a way I could tell them how amazing I thought they all were. I wished they lived in a world where it was ok for women to talk to men freely, where they could look anyone they wanted in the eye, speak their minds. I wished they didn’t have to stay silent while someone described their lives. I wished I could spend more time with them but the group was getting ready to cycle on.

And so I got up to say goodbye. And every single one of them got up as well, hugged me as I left, and looked me directly in the eye, one tailor to another.

How to Manage your Works in Progress (WIPs)

How to Manage your Works in Progress (WIPs)

I currently have at least a dozen WIPs in one stage or another.

I currently have at least a dozen WIPs in one stage or another.

If you are like me and many other creative people, you have a long list of projects you are working on, planning, and just getting started. In the quilting community the term for these are WIPs, or ‘works in progress.’ I currently have at least a dozen WIPs in one stage or another (and not just quilts, but other sewing projects as well). Here’s how I manage the materials for each one.

Decorate

Remember that fabric is beautiful. Don’t hesitate to post photos of your ideas on a design board, or, like I’ve done here, with fabric samples that not only keep me motivated to work on my project, but look beautiful on my wall too.

Remember that fabric is beautiful.

Remember that fabric is beautiful.

Front and Center

Sometimes it’s best to keep your current WIP exactly front and center. I make a point of only keeping one project at a time on my work table. My mental message with this is that the only thing I’m working on is the project in front of me. This keeps me focused on the task at hand. If I truly want to work on something else, I put away the other project first.

Sometimes it’s best to keep your current WIP exactly front & center.

Sometimes it’s best to keep your current WIP exactly front & center.

Next Up

The small shelf to the left of my work table is where I keep my iron and my ‘next up’ project. This way I know what I have in my pipeline and can easily get to it once I’ve cleaned up the main table WIP.

I know what I have in my pipeline & can easily get to it.

I know what I have in my pipeline & can easily get to it.

Special Sections

Some projects are so large that I keep them in their own shelves, away from my main fabric stash. The assortment you see here is allotted for my 2017 Temperature Quilt, which will feature 26 different fabrics to map out the daily high temperatures of my city.

The assortment you see here is allotted for my 2017 Temperature Quilt.

The assortment you see here is allotted for my 2017 Temperature Quilt.

Keep it Hidden

This is the view under my work table. Unless you pull out my chair, you can’t see these large pieces of batting, quilt tops, and backing fabrics I have sitting in wait. Sometimes your WIPs are big. Finding a place to tuck them away until you get to them will help keep your workspace clean and ready to use.

This is the view under my work table.

This is the view under my work table.

Fabric Stash

Sometimes my WIPs are tucked directly into my fabric stash. The top bin on the right is fabric I have pegged to become new bedding for the full-sized mattress in my room. It folded neatly and fit right in with the rest of the stash and no one is any more the wiser that I have it in my list of WIPs.

Sometimes my WIPs are tucked directly into my fabric stash.

Sometimes my WIPs are tucked directly into my fabric stash.

Deep Storage

Sometimes you see a screaming deal on a quilt kit (or two) or you have WIPs that you know you won’t be able to get to for months or even years. I tuck these away in deep storage in my closet. I have a friend who stores them in bins under her guest bed.

I tuck these away in deep storage in my closet.

I tuck these away in deep storage in my closet.

Computer Files and Pinterest

Don’t forget that some WIPs are still just dreams and plans. Keep these twinkles in your eye safely organized in a documents folders on your computer that has patterns you plan to make or designs you want to pursue. Likewise, Pinterest is a great visual repository for storing images that link to websites with projects you are currently working on or plan to.

How do you manage your works in progress? Let us know what works for you.

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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.
Free Brother Sewing Projects

Free Brother Sewing Projects

Free Brother Sewing Projects

How cool is this? Project Runway uses Brother sewing machines to create their fabulous fashions. To celebrate, we’ve got some amazing Free Brother Sewing Projects right from Project Runway. You’ll love making them and wearing them!

Feathered Skirt

Free pencil skirt pattern by Christopher Palu.

Free pencil skirt pattern by Christopher Palu.

Christopher Palu shares his amazing feathering technique. It’s easier than you might think and makes any fabric look gorgeous. He teaches it to you in this free pencil skirt pattern. You’ll need two different fabrics, one solid and one patterned, that look well together and a zipper. Give it a shot and share a picture of your results!

Makeup Bag

Seth Aaron’s free makeup bag pattern.

Seth Aaron’s free makeup bag pattern.

No fashionista’s get up is complete without makeup and way to touch up imperfections on the go. Seth Aaron’s makeup bag pattern is the ultimate in makeup carry-alls. There’s room for all your makeup essentials inside the bag and the exterior strap holds all the brushes you’ll need to keep your face looking its best all day and night long.

Custom Laptop Case

Joshua Cook’s custom laptop case free pattern.

Joshua Cook’s custom laptop case free pattern.

In the on-the-go world we live in, most people carry their laptop with them at some point. This is simply another way to show your style. Forget those laptop cases you can buy at any retailer. Instead, create a custom laptop case with Joshua Cook’s pattern. It works up quickly in less than 20 steps.

Earrings

Anthony Auld’s free Embroidered Earrings pattern.

Anthony Auld’s free Embroidered Earrings pattern.

Yes, that’s right, you can make earrings with your Brother sewing machine. They’re a great way to practice your embroidery skills. Anthony Auld shows you how to get fashion on your ears using your Brother in this free Embroidered Earrings pattern. Make sure to share pictures of your amazing earring creations.

Whether you’re looking to practice your sewing skills or learn some new ones, these fabulous Project Runway Free sewing patterns for Brother are a great place to start. They’ll add some class and style to your wardrobe, too – you’ll feel like you just stepped off the runway!

How to Sew Valentines: 33 Project Ideas to Show Your Loved Ones How Much You Care

How to Sew Valentines: 33 Project Ideas to Show Your Loved Ones How Much You Care

Sew valentines this year

I challenge you to sew valentines this year to show your love.

I challenge you to sew valentines this year to show your love.

I challenge you to sew valentines this year to show your love. Anyone can buy trinkets, but making something with love infuses more meaning into even simple gifts. Heartfelt gifts don’t need to be elaborate to mean a great deal.

From simple sewn hearts to labor of love quilts, the web is full of fun ideas that you could use to sew valentines this year. You can make a little something for every person you love. And there is nothing wrong with sharing a little love with people you just like, too. From your sweetheart to your grandma to your neighbor or teacher, everyone who you bless with a handmade gift will appreciate that you spent time making something just for them.

Sew valentines: my simple ideas

I’ll start by sharing three simple ideas of my own that I’m using this year to sew valentines for my family and friends, including an easy way to add a homemade touch to candy I’ll pick up at the store.

Felt or fleece hearts

These couldn’t be simpler to make. Just draw a heart pattern on paper, cut out, and pin to two layers of fleece or felt. Cut these out, then sew them with right sides together, leaving an opening for turning. Stuff, and then sew the opening closed. I’m stuffing them with dried lavender flowers to make simple sachets for my friends. I once made a pair of these and filled them with baking soda to stuff in my gym shoes, and this worked well to eliminate odor. You could also use lentils and make a set of heart bean bags for a game for your kids.

You could also use lentils & make a set of heart bean bags for a game for your kids.

You could also use lentils & make a set of heart bean bags for a game for your kids.

Valentine novelty fabric pillowcases

There is nothing easier to make from a yard of cute fabric than a pillowcase. To make one, hem across one long side. Then fold the fabric widthwise, with right sides together, and sew or serge the other two sides. Turn right side out. That’s it! Of course, you can dress these up with decorative trim. But choose a cute enough fabric and there’s no need to dress it up further.

Attach trim after hemming, before sewing together.

Attach trim after hemming, before sewing together.

Simple gift bags

Use the pillowcase instructions above in miniature form to create simple gift bags to fill with chocolates or other candy from the store. Or for children, include dollar store trinkets such as small toys. Tie with a ribbon. You could amend the directions slightly to make drawstring bags instead.

Use the pillowcase instructions above in miniature form to create simple gift bags.

Use the pillowcase instructions above in miniature form to create simple gift bags.

I’ll also be making some projects that I have collected from all over the web. Follow these links to find the perfect projects to sew valentines for everyone that you love:

Sew valentines: more easy ideas

I might make one for myself!

I might make one for myself!

  • Fabric Heart Bookmarks: Here is another project so easy that you can whip up several in mere minutes. This is the kind of sweet gift that most anyone could use. I might make one for myself!
  • Felt Heart Ornament and Garland: I plan to make a couple of these ornaments to share as gifts, and the garland for my house.
  • Warm Heart Coffee Cozy: Here is another simple idea that makes a nice gift for most anyone.
Warm heart coffee cozy.

Warm heart coffee cozy.

Sew valentines: cards

Here’s how to incorporate your love for sewing by hand while making paper cards.

Here’s how to incorporate your love for sewing by hand while making paper cards.

Sew valentines: a game and a toy

There are lots of ideas for softies to sew, but none are as cute as this sweetie.

There are lots of ideas for softies to sew, but none are as cute as this sweetie.

Sew valentines: bags and purses

This change purse includes a key ring.

This change purse includes a key ring.

Sew valentines: pillows

This pattern features reverse appliqué.

This pattern features reverse appliqué.

Sew valentines: quilts

Valentine quilt roundup.

Valentine quilt roundup.

Whichever projects you choose, I hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Christmas Sewing Projects

Christmas Sewing Projects

Christmas is fast approaching.

Christmas is fast approaching.

Christmas is fast approaching. Thankfully, there’s still time to sew special Christmas decorations or gifts. With so many Christmas themed fabrics to choose from, it may be hard to decide which one(s) you want for your project, but with so many projects, you won’t have to narrow it down too much.

Christmas Tree Skirt Sewing Project

This 50.5” x 50.5” square Christmas tree skirt is easy to make and uses multiple fabrics to create a look that suits any home. Basic quilting skills are necessary as is a template to use for the center circle. An inverted bowl works well. You can make it from fabric scraps and by using washable materials, it’s easy to clean. The red ties in the back are cute and ensure the skirt isn’t pulled off by pets or kids.

Christmas Tree Ornament Project

If love hand sewing, this cute hot cocoa mug ornament is a perfect way to add some whimsy to your tree. The pattern ensures accurate placement of the faces on the mug and marshmallows. You will need to know how to make a French knot for the eyes. If you’ve got felt scraps, you may be able to use those for the bulk of this adorable Christmas sewing project.

Christmas Stocking Sewing Project

Christmas isn’t complete without “stocking hung by the chimney with care.” With this easy Christmas stocking pattern, you can make individualized stockings for everyone in your family. The large size makes it the ideal stocking for creative stocking stuffer gifts and depending on your choice of fabrics, it’s entirely washable. Choose different colors or patterns for each person in your family to personalize the stockings.

Christmas Tree Angel

There’s something about angels…they belong adorning a Christmas tree. This sweet ribbon angel adds a touch of class to any tree. Use different colored ribbons to make each angel a little different. Sewing is optional with this project, but it’s a great opportunity to use some of the wide ribbon you’ve got sitting around from previous projects.

Christmas Garland Sewing Project

Garland doesn’t have to be tinsel and shine. This adorable garland adds Christmas cheer with rows of fabric Christmas trees. You can either use bits of fabric from your stash or buy remnants from your local fabric shop. This is a great project to do with kids! Their small fingers are great for everting and stuffing the little trees. The number of trees you make will depend on the length you want for the finished garland. A coordinating ribbon completes the project. Use it to decorate your tree or string across a doorway.

What other Christmas sewing projects do you enjoy? If you try any of these, please share the results! I’d love to see them.