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!

The Scraps of Christmas

The Scraps of Christmas

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

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

The Scraps of Christmas

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

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

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

Possibility #1: Make a banner

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

The options on this idea alone are numerous!

The options on this idea alone are numerous!

Possibility #2: Make fabric garland

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

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

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

Possibility #3: Make a Christmas tote

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

I would definitely carry one of those!

I would definitely carry one of those!

Possibility #4: Make fabric bookmarks

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

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

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

Possibility #5: Make a keychain

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

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

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

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

Fabric Stash Ideas

Fabric Stash Ideas

If you’re like me you’ve got a giant bin (or two) of left over fabric from projects dating back to the stone age. It takes up valuable closet space, but you refuse to let it go. Maybe it’s even a point of contention with your spouse/partner. With these fun ideas you can free up your closet space, make some fun projects, and maybe make a little money on the side too.

Fabric Stash Cash Wallet

Fabric Stash Cash Wallet

With just a small bit of fabric scraps, some ribbon, and a quick row of stitches you can make a unique cash or coin wallet. Measure out your scrap so that it is the dimensions of a credit card (2x height), plus seam allowances and room for a ½ inch ribbon. Fold it in half with right sides together and stitch up the sides. Make a pocket for the ½ inch ribbon and sew that up. Feed the ribbon through and turn the cash purse right side out.

The ribbon can be tightened to close the wallet and prevent spillage in a large purse or bag. It’s cute, unique and keeps all credit cards, cash and coins neatly organized. Even better, you can make a bunch and give them as gifts or sell them at craft fairs or on Etsy.

Fabric Stash Rag Clowns

Fabric Stash Rag ClownsTo give credit where it’s due, this is an idea I’m stealing from my great-grandmother. Right up until the day she died, just shy of 100, she made these adorable clowns. They were all over her apartment and each of the grandkids and great-grandkids had at least one. I’m not completely sure how she did it, but the basic idea is this.

Cut a circle of scrap fabric, fold it in on itself so that the edges meet in the center and sew it into the now smaller circle. Make a bunch of these and then string them on wire to create clown legs, arms and body. Add a pre-purchased head and voila! So cute! For extra fun you can add bells on the ends of the arms and legs and/or an accessory like a necklace. Sure to be a hit with any children in your life, at craft fairs, and likely a best seller on Etsy.

What other ideas do you have?

How to Store Your Fabric Stash

How to Store Your Fabric Stash

This is post one of a three part series on storing your fabric. Post two (how to store your works in progress) and post three (how to store your fabric scraps) are coming soon.

This is post one of a three part series on storing your fabric. Post two (how to store your works in progress) and post three (how to store your fabric scraps) are coming soon.

I keep my deep-storage and heirloom fabrics stored in a bin. Fabrics I'll use soon are simply folded neatly awaiting their use.

I keep my deep-storage and heirloom fabrics stored in a bin. Fabrics I’ll use soon are simply folded neatly awaiting their use.

How do you store your fabric stash? I have seen some of the most creative ways while perusing through Pinterest, everything from tucked in the drawers of a dresser, folded neatly on the top of a bunk bed, or deftly displayed in KITCHEN, yes kitchen, cabinets. Who needs to eat when you have beautiful fabric to sustain your soul anyway?

No matter which way you decide to organize your fabric, you will need to keep several things in mind.

My works in progress are kept in a tall bin and labeled so I know where to easily find them.

My works in progress are kept in a tall bin and labeled so I know where to easily find them.

Store Covered

  1. If you decide to store your fabric in bins, consider using plastic instead of paper, or file boxes, or baskets. Keeping your fabric covered will better protect it but consider using a plastic container with tiny holes (or creating tiny holes) to allow the fabric to breathe and to prevent synthetics from yellowing.
  2. Tape a cedar block inside the container to help prevent moths and other insects from taking up residence.
  3. Store away from sunlight to prevent fabric from fading.

    My lovely stash. I do take the time to dust off the fabric about twice a month.

    My lovely stash. I do take the time to dust off the fabric about twice a month.

Display It

  1. I love the quick access that openly displayed fabric offers. However make sure to keep fabric away from direct sunlight.
  2. Dust! Your fabric will accumulate dust if displayed or left in the open. Keep it tidy with a frequent dusting or airing out.
  3. Keep it clean – little children love to touch and play with fabric and even some adults can’t help but reach up and touch gorgeous fabric. Be aware of where you display your fabric and how frequently it may be handled by people whose fingers could leave it soiled.
Fabric on display via MuyMolon.com.

Fabric on display via MuyMolon.com.

Additional Methods

  1. Color coded – perhaps the most method of organizing is a stash is by color. This is how I do it!
  2. By Designer or Project – some people also keep their stashes stored by Designer or even projects in progress.
  3. By Size – big, medium, little, tiny. Sometimes storing or displaying by size is also helpful.

    Fabric organized and wrapped around Polar Notion's organizers.

    Fabric organized and wrapped around Polar Notion’s organizers.

Standout Idea: Acid-Free Fabric Organizers

I just discovered these puppies and as soon as we move to our new home and I start working on my sewing room, I plan on ordering some to start wrapping and displaying my stash. Unlike fabric-store pieces of cardboard, these organizers are sturdy and acid-free. Storing fabric wrapped around cardboard will eventually discolor your fabric since cardboard is not acid-free.

The sad result of what happens when you use regular cardboard to organize your fabric.

The sad result of what happens when you use regular cardboard to organize your fabric.

I’ve found two brands that offer this acid-free option. Polar Notion’s boards are made from plastic and The Fabric Organizer’s boards are made from an acid-free corrugated cardboard. Both look fantastic.

Think about which product would suit your needs and your stash better.

Think about which product would suit your needs and your stash better.

The larger Polar Notion holds up to 15 yards of wrapped fabric and the smaller one is perfect for fat quarters and smaller pieces of fabric.  The Fabric Organizer’s large size holds up to 10 yards. It is also cheaper than Polar Notions. Think about which product would suit your needs and your stash better.

Do you have a favorite method of storing your fabric? Let us know how you do it in the comments below.

Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in San Diego, 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.

Quilt A String-Pieced Scrap Quilt For Baby

Quilt A String-Pieced Scrap Quilt For Baby

Here is an easy scrap quilt idea that is great fun to make.Here is an easy scrap quilt idea that is great fun to make.

You could clear out your scrap stash to make this gorgeous gift.

Blue is my favorite color, so I had heaps of blue scraps. That is what gave me the idea to make this crib sized quilt for a special new baby boy. You could choose a different color of scraps for this, or you could choose to not restrict your palette and clear out a random colorful scrap pile instead.

You will need:

  • A variety of cotton scraps
  • 48 5-inch cotton muslin squares
  • 12 2.5 inch muslin squares
  • 1 yard border fabric
  • Crib size batting
  • 1.5 yard backing fabric
  • Quilt binding or fabric to make binding

To make the patchwork squares:

Press and cut your colorful scraps into approximately 1 inch wide strips. You will trim strips to the desired length as you construct the squares.

Take a muslin square and angle the first scrap strip diagonally, from the bottom left corner to the top right corner of the square. You can create a sort of uniformity in your blocks and allow for the Xs and squares effect achieved in this quilt by choosing one color scrap to use as this center piece in every square. In this case, I chose navy. All squares are made with navy as the longest, first piece in this quilt.

Next, choose another strip and place it right side down atop the first strip, then sew along one side using a quarter inch seam. Flip the second strip down to face up, then press.

Once you've added the last little strip to cover the corner, you can turn and repeat the process to fill in the other side of your square.

Once you’ve added the last little strip to cover the corner, you can turn and repeat the process to fill in the other side of your square.

Then add another strip, placing the third right side down atop the second, and sew using a quarter inch seam, then flip with right side up, and press.

Please do not skip the step of pressing each strip neatly down after sewing. Careful pressing makes the difference between neat and well made quilts and something that is more of a mess!

Repeat the process, using shorter strips and smaller scraps as you get close to the edges of the square. Once you’ve added the last little strip to cover the corner, you can turn and repeat the process to fill in the other side of your square.

Now you have your first completed square.

You have your first completed square.

Place the square right side down and trim excess strip ends from the muslin square. This is most easily accomplished using a rotary cutter, or you can trim the excess with scissors instead.

Now make 47 more.

Now make 47 more.

Now you have your first completed square.

Make 47 more.

Assembling the quilt top:

Once you have completed all your patchwork squares, sew them together into rows.

Different looks can be achieved by varying the placement of the squares. You could turn them all in the same direction or assemble them where they form the X’s and O’s pattern pictured here. This is one of the things that makes quilting so much fun, that the same simple block can be turned different ways to vary the look of the completed top.

When joining the squares, take extra care for the tiny corner triangles, as it can be easy to make a careless mistake and miss joining these “ears” properly. This is easy to avoid by being careful in joining the squares and avoiding rush.

You also have options in this design: once you have completed the joining of the strip patchwork, you could call the quilt top done. Or choose to border the patchwork with a solid fabric. You could make borders of equal widths, or you could choose to add an additional embellishment, as I have here, with smaller blocks set off with borders. I did mine this way to indicate the top of the quilt and bring the design to the right dimensions for a crib sized quilt..

To make this quilt as pictured, sew 3.5 inch border strips around all sides of the patchwork design.

Prepare the three smaller blocks in the same way as the larger ones, using 2.5 inch muslin squares for the base.

Join these into a row by alternating the small patchwork blocks with 4 4.5 inch squares of the border fabric.

Sew this strip to the top edge, and finish the top by adding one more 3.5 inch strip above this.

To make the “quilt sandwich”:

  1. Cut your backing fabric 3 inches bigger all around than the top, press well, and place it right side down on your table or workspace.
  2. Carefully smooth the batting atop the wrong side of the backing layer.
  3. Press the top and seams one more time, taking extra care, then layer it wrong side down on top of the batting layer. Smooth nicely.
  4. Then baste all three layers together, using either long running stitches or quilters safety pins.

Quilting:

Meandering stipple stitch.

Meandering stipple stitch.

You can quilt this using the quick and easy route: the “stitch in the ditch” method of quilting over the seams that joined the individual blocks, or drop your feed dogs and use a meandering stipple stitch in one long line that (ideally) never crosses itself, guiding the quilt using your hands, working in sections until you have covered the entire quilt.  I quilted this pretty closely, like this:

Trim:

Trim the excess batting and backing, using your scissors or more quickly with your serger.

Bind:

Use prepackaged quilt binding or make your own. Sew binding strips together and then sew to quilt top, beginning along one side. Leave approximately an inch free at the beginning of this seam to join the binding ends once you have sewn it down all around. Join them, then fold over and sew the binding down on the back of the quilt using invisible whip stitches sewn by hand or using your machine if preferred.

Now you have made a beautiful heirloom gift that will be treasured forever!

Sewing for Myself, a Quilt for Me

Sewing for Myself, a Quilt for Me

Our December 2015 hand-made teacher gifts.

Our December 2015 hand-made teacher gifts.

Last December I found myself in the midst of a flurry of handmade gifts. I fussy cut fabric for 12 teacher presents and I laid out the plans for two quilts, one each for friends expecting babies.

When the holidays were over I took stock of both my fabric stash and my sanity and knew it was time to do something different. This time, no matter how long it took to finish, I was going to create something entirely for myself.

A few of the quilts that inspired my own. Images via Quilt for Keeps, Quilting is my Therapy, and Quilter’s Pastiche.

A few of the quilts that inspired my own. Images via Quilt for Keeps, Quilting is my Therapy, and Quilter’s Pastiche.

At the start of the New Year, in between raising my daughters, working part-time, being a friend, wife, and volunteer, I slowly brought to life a quilt that had been rumbling around in my head for ages. I’ve been salivating over quilts with negative space and dark background fabric.

Using my talent to treat myself is something I plan to try more often.

Five year old, C, sits center circle in the order of fabrics arranged solely by her.

Five year old, C, sits center circle in the order of fabrics arranged solely by her.

Out came my horded cache of cheery orange, yellow, pink, and blue fabric. I even engaged my oldest daughter, C, in the project, thus achieving both quality time spent with my kid while working on a project meant for me. C helped me pick all the fabrics for the giant star and then chose their side-by-side placement.

I do my home sewing on a Brother CS-6000i.

I do my home sewing on a Brother CS-6000i.

It took me six months of grabbing the time here and there, but finally, after a dozen or more hours, I manifested my dream into a reality. The final result is what I call the Starlight Quilt. It measures 66×89 and is backed with blue minky dot fabric. The main fabric is Floret in Turquoise by Aneela Honey for Cloud 9’s Vignette line. The star itself and its rays are pieced together with a mix of fabrics I’ve been hording and scraps that were too beautiful to let go.

Spools of thread.Using my talent to treat myself is something I plan to try more often. The pleasure people get from receiving a hand-made gift was something almost novel when reflected back towards me. I’m re-energized now to finish my current works in progress if only to pass that feeling onto someone I love and care about. There is also the sentiment of a job well done and a heady sense of completion.

Now when I sleep, I have a small treasure of my own handiwork.I can go back to my usually scheduled program, of devoting time and energy to sewing gifts for friends and family. But now when I sleep, I have a small treasure of my own handiwork. For a brief moment, the expensive spools of variegated thread and the swaths of luxurious minky were spent on me. How about you? When was the last time you sewed for yourself? If you can’t remember when, then now is the perfect time to start.

Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in San Diego, 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.