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.
Skip Hop Children's Backpack Hack

Skip Hop Children’s Backpack Hack

Have you seen these adorable little children’s backpacks that look like animals? They’re made by Skip Hop and retail for around $20. The only problem with them is that, like many children’s backpacks, they don’t come with a chest clip. Kids’ shoulders are tiny and their frames are narrow. This means they usually can’t keep backpack straps on when there is any weight added to their bags. For the most part I see Skip Hop backpacks slung over a parent’s shoulder, carrying the bag for their children.

Have you seen these adorable little children’s backpacks that look like animals?

Have you seen these adorable little children’s backpacks that look like animals?

I decided to make my own chest clips for these puppies and for my friends who have the bags too. The result is a backpack that children can truly wear on their own.

A backpack that children can truly wear on their own.

A backpack that children can truly wear on their own.

To make your own, you’ll need to unthread the backpack straps from the base of the bag.

To make your own, you’ll need to unthread the backpack straps from the base of the bag.

To make your own, you’ll need to unthread the backpack straps from the base of the bag.

Once you’ve unthreaded the straps, you can sew a webbing piece for the right and the left strap that holds each end of your clasp. I used 1″ webbing and 1″ clasps. I got all of my supplies from StrapWorks.com.

I used 1" webbing & 1" clasps.

I used 1″ webbing & 1″ clasps.

I sewed a small loop of 3/8″ black elastic on the end of the webbing so I could roll up the extra webbing and tuck it neatly into the loop. These are examples of clips I made for friends.

These are examples of clips I made for friends.

These are examples of clips I made for friends.

If your child is really little, they may not be able to manage the clasp on their own.

If your child is really little, they may not be able to manage the clasp on their own.

If your child is really little, they may not be able to manage the clasp on their own.

If you give them enough time to work at it though, they’ll eventually get it. It gives them a great sense of independence and freedom.

 

And really, how adorable is this bag with the added chest clip?

And really, how adorable is this bag with the added chest clip?

And really, how adorable is this bag with the added chest clip?

What type of sewing hacks have you done to children’s products in your life?

What type of sewing hacks have you done to children’s products in your life?

What type of sewing hacks have you done to children’s products in your life?

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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.
My Little Pony Blankets and Pillows

My Little Pony Blankets and Pillows

These are my daughters’ favorite toys.

These are my daughters’ favorite toys.

These are my daughters’ favorite toys. These ladies and gents can be found all around our house, in all manner of adventures. Sometimes, they even go to sleep. The problem with this was that my youngest was using tissues to make blankets and pillows for them. All of them. Every day. That’s a lot of tissues.

Enter my layer cake stash. ‘Layer cake’ means a precut stack of fabric cut in 10” x 10” squares. I asked my daughter to look and find a selection of fabrics she liked and I turned them into blankets and pillows for her My Little Pony and tiny doll friends.

Enter my layer cake stash.

Enter my layer cake stash.

Downton Abbey

She picked several pieces from my Downton Abbey collection (yes, they have Downton Abbey-themed fabric and yes, I bought some!) I made her eight reversible blankets. This was a fun chance to use the variety of decorative stitches on my machine. The decorative stitches available on modern sewing machines is incredible. SewingMachinesPlus.com has a wide assortment you can view here: https://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/computerized-sewing-machines.php

She picked several pieces from my Downton Abbey collection.

She picked several pieces from my Downton Abbey collection.

Next I made small and large-sized pillows. She had asked for ‘big’ pillows so some of her ponies could go to sleep together. So sweet!

Nap time

Next I made small & large-sized pillows.

Next I made small & large-sized pillows.

I left an opening in each piece to stuff them and cut the batting to size.

 

Here you see how they got put into action. My youngest, especially, was thrilled.

Here you see how they got put into action.

Here you see how they got put into action.

The big pillows and the little pillows are used equally. So are some squares of felt I keep on hand for crafting.

The big pillows & the little pillows are used equally.

The big pillows & the little pillows are used equally.

Even ponies need their beauty rest.

Even ponies need their beauty rest.

Even ponies need their beauty rest.

These handmade blankets and pillows have been used for all kinds of imaginative play, including as rivers and lakes in Lego houses they’ve built.

These handmade blankets & pillows have been used for all kinds of imaginative play.

These handmade blankets & pillows have been used for all kinds of imaginative play.

What kind of handmade items have you sewn to supplement your children’s or grandchildren’s toy supply? Let us know in comments!

What kind of handmade items have you sewn to supplement your children’s or grandchildren’s toy supply?

What kind of handmade items have you sewn to supplement your children’s or grandchildren’s toy supply?

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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.
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.

https://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:

https://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.
Five Sewing Tools that will take your Sewing to the Next Level

Five Sewing Tools that will take your Sewing to the Next Level

I love the feeling of getting sewing packages in the mail, don’t you? This particular box included a new tool that I’ve been excited to try. It is part of my top five sewing tools that will take your sewing to the next level, or at the very least, make your sewing more efficient and enjoyable.

I love the feeling of getting sewing packages in the mail, don’t you?

I love the feeling of getting sewing packages in the mail, don’t you?

1. A sewing mini iron

This is the Clover Mini-Iron. Isn’t it precious? I ordered it from SewingMachinesPlus.com and it is more than just an adorable accessory to your ironing board. A mini iron lets you iron hard-to-get-to seams or helps iron tiny seams on things like mini quilts.

It even comes with a little stand. Awwww.

It even comes with a little stand. Awwww.

It even comes with a little stand. Awwww.

While I know I’ll have many opportunities to use this, I specifically bought it for this current project. My girls and I are working on BFF (best friends forever) quilts and the squares alternate with minky fabric.

My girls & I are working on BFF quilts with alternating minky blocks.

My girls & I are working on BFF quilts with alternating minky blocks.

Using a regular iron to iron over the seams would be a challenge. Hot irons can melt or destroy minky fabric. (For more on how to sew with minky, check out my post here).

Here I folded the cotton fabric seam over the minky fabric and then placed a scrap of fabric over both. Then I ironed the seam down.

That’s what I’m talking about! This mini-iron is worth its weight in gold.

This mini-iron is worth its weight in gold.

This mini-iron is worth its weight in gold.

For fans of mini-quilts, or anyone who wants to iron their seams open, the mini-iron makes short work of it.

For fans of mini-quilts, or anyone who wants to iron their seams open, the mini-iron makes short work of it.

For fans of mini-quilts, or anyone who wants to iron their seams open, the mini-iron makes short work of it.

2. A rotating (rotary) cutting mat

Yep, you heard me correctly. This is a cutting board that rotates on its base. If you’ve ever had a pile of HSTs (half-square triangles) or any other type of project that involved a lot of trimming, you will never look back from making this purchase. SewingMachinesPlus.com sells several different sizes.

This is a cutting board that rotates on its base.

This is a cutting board that rotates on its base.

Here you can see I’ve cut one side of the fabric square. Prior to owning a rotary mat I would have had to move my body or the fabric and the ruler to make the subsequent cuts.

Here you can see I’ve cut one side of the fabric square.

Here you can see I’ve cut one side of the fabric square.

Not anymore. Look how it spins!! The base stays put while the cutting board goes for a walk.

The base stays put while the cutting board goes for a walk.

The base stays put while the cutting board goes for a walk.

Here is my square fully cut. It’s a thing of beauty, no?

Here is my square fully cut.

Here is my square fully cut.

3. Rulers and grids

This is my assortment of rulers and grids. There is nothing like having the right tools for the job. The two square grids were purchases for projects whose final size HSTs needed to be trimmed exactly to the size of the grid.

The large grid on the bottom is 24” long and my primary ruler for measuring and cutting out my fabric. The 2” ruler is my workhorse, everyday ruler.

Lastly, I had to include a classic measuring tape. I have about seven floating around the house and in my backpack and car. You never know when you might need to measure something!

The small, black and silver ruler below the measuring tape is a seam gauge. It helps you mark precise seams at a variety of lengths.

SewingMachinesPlus.com has a wide assortment of rulers and grids: https://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/searchresults.php?search_field=omnigrid

SewingMachinesPlus.com has a wide assortment of rulers & grids.

SewingMachinesPlus.com has a wide assortment of rulers & grids.

I also have this heavy, metal, 48” ruler that I use for canvas and large home interior projects, or when cutting very large lengths of fabric.

I also have this heavy, metal, 48” ruler.

I also have this heavy, metal, 48” ruler.

4. A walking foot

I mention my walking foot a lot in my posts here and that’s because I use it a lot. In fact as a rule, I have it installed as my go-to sewing foot and only switch out to other feet as needed. Your machine probably came with one and you tucked it away not knowing what the strange, Star Wars-like contraption was.

Get it out of the box and learn to use it! If you quilt or work with thicker fabric, your walking foot will be your best friend.

Get it out of the box & learn to use it!

Get it out of the box & learn to use it!

If your machine didn’t come with one, I guarantee the maker of your machine sells one as an accessory. Check out all the options available on SewingMachinesPlus.com here.

Image via The Seasoned Homemaker.

Image via The Seasoned Homemaker.

5. A bias tape maker

There will come a point in your sewing career when the pre-made bias tape available in stores and online just doesn’t meet your needs. When you get to that point, grab a bias tape maker, in fact, grab a few (they make different sizes of tape). With one of these humble tools you can make both single and double-fold bias tape and the sky is pretty much the limit as far as your creativity goes.

When you get to that point, grab a bias tape maker, in fact, grab a few (they make different sizes of tape).

When you get to that point, grab a bias tape maker, in fact, grab a few (they make different sizes of tape).

You can make coordinating, contrasting, or complimenting colors of bias tape to match your projects and the process is extremely quick. It won’t be as fast as using premade, but I promise it will be worth it.

Image via Made Everyday with Dana.

Image via Made Everyday with Dana.

Do you use any of these tools already in your sewing projects? What other tools would you add to a list like this? 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.
80s Prom Dress Hack

80s Prom Dress Hack

For the most part, I use my sewing skills for myself, and my immediate family. Sometimes, however, I get to help friends out. As was the case this week when my friend, Tania, asked if I could help her with a costume for a party this weekend. The theme was 80s Night and she had found an authentic 80s Prom Dress that ALMOST fit her. She just needed the dress to work for that one night. I was game to help her make it happen.

Verdict

When she brought over the dress I assessed three main issues:

  1. The zipper was broken on the left side of the plaque.
  2. There were two rips to the right of the right-side zipper.
  3. Her rib cage was wider than the fit of the dress. We would need to somehow expand the torso piece of the dress to get it to fit her for an evening.
I decided to extend the circumference of the dress by creating a fabric plaque that would be sewn onto the left side of the zipper opening.

I decided to extend the circumference of the dress by creating a fabric plaque that would be sewn onto the left side of the zipper opening.

The good news is that these were all problems I could tackle. I decided to extend the circumference of the dress by creating a fabric plaque that would be sewn onto the left side of the zipper opening (I cut off the broken zipper) and would attach via Velcro to the right side of the zipper opening.

The good news is that these were all problems I could tackle.

The good news is that these were all problems I could tackle.

Resourceful fabric recycling

Tania brought two gift bags with her that we planned to use as extra fabric. They were glittery and shiny and would match the dress and the theme of the party. From the red bag I cut out the larger plaque.

 

I sewed it directly onto where the zipper would have zipped up on the left side of the dress opening.

I sewed it directly onto where the zipper would have zipped up on the left side of the dress opening.

I sewed it directly onto where the zipper would have zipped up on the left side of the dress opening.

Patches?! We don’t need no stinking patches

Then I tackled the holes. I used the gray gift bag fabric to support the fabric under where the rips were and then zig zag stitched several lines of stitching to patch the rips (Remember this just needed to work for one night).

 

Here you can see the gray gift bag fabric on the underside of the dress. I sewed Velcro to the right side of the dress opening, sewing right over the invisible zipper.

Here you can see the gray gift bag fabric on the underside of the dress.

Here you can see the gray gift bag fabric on the underside of the dress.

Measure twice – cut once

For this part, I had her put the dress on and then we fit the dress to exactly the width she felt comfortable in. I used my Clover Chaco-liner Pen to draw a line where the other side of the Velcro needed to be sewn on. The curve at the end is where the lower portion of the still working zipper zipped up to meet the straight line of the back piece.

The curve at the end is where the lower portion of the still working zipper zipped up to meet the straight line of the back piece.

The curve at the end is where the lower portion of the still working zipper zipped up to meet the straight line of the back piece.

Ta da!!! The red fabric + Velcro expanded the corset piece perfectly. On the right you can see her in the dress after we’d finished. The dress is a little roomy in the bust, but she will be wearing a strapless bra to fill that in.

I’m so glad I could help my friend out with my sewing skills.

I’m so glad I could help my friend out with my sewing skills.

I’m so glad I could help my friend out with my sewing skills.

Have you ever helped someone DIY a costume?

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
DIY Home Sewing Projects

DIY Home Sewing Projects

Is it just me, or do an awful lot of jackets and sweaters come without a loop or tag to hang them with? I get it that many have hoods, and you could hang them from the hood, or even the back neck of the jacket, but there is nothing like a solid loop to quickly hang your jacket up.

Another problem is that many hooks are sharp or pointy and if you hang a jacket from the neckline or hood you end up with a bump in the fabric from the imprint of the hook. This is no bueno when you’ve spent good money on the jacket in the first place.

I like to add jacket loops using double fold binding I have on hand.

I like to add jacket loops using double fold binding I have on hand.

Let’s Sew!

It’s times like these when you need to put your sewing skills to use. I like to add jacket loops using double fold binding I have on hand. I sew it on with a zig zag stitch and I find the stitching to be very inconspicuous on the exterior neckline (and it’s often hidden by the hood anyway.)

I find the stitching to be very inconspicuous on the exterior neckline (often hidden by the hood).

I find the stitching to be very inconspicuous on the exterior neckline (often hidden by the hood).

I used the same binding on this gray pullover. I love the pop of color it gives the jacket.

I used the same binding on this gray pullover.

I used the same binding on this gray pullover.

The zig zag stitching is barely noticeable from the back view. Perfect.

The zig zag stitching is barely noticeable from the back view.

The zig zag stitching is barely noticeable from the back view.

Now I can hang both jackets without the metal hooks on that hanger digging into the fabric of either jacket.

Now I can hang both jackets without the metal hooks on that hanger digging into the fabric of either jacket.

Now I can hang both jackets without the metal hooks on that hanger digging into the fabric of either jacket.

The gray hoodie is on the left and the maroon jacket is on the right. I love organization and I love that I made it happen with my sewing skills!

The gray hoodie is on the left & the maroon jacket is on the right.

The gray hoodie is on the left & the maroon jacket is on the right.

Handy dandy skills

Here’s something else I fixed by knowing how to sew. My daughter’s backpack had no loop on the interior of the backpack for carrying a house key. There was a loop on the exterior, but that’s not very safety conscious, is it?

I took matters into my own hands and modded out the backpack by sewing in my own loop (again with that pretty flowered binding in the photos above). Now she can securely carry a house key tucked safely inside her backpack.

I took matters into my own hands & modded out the backpack by sewing in my own loop (again with that pretty flowered binding in the photos above).

I took matters into my own hands & modded out the backpack by sewing in my own loop (again with that pretty flowered binding in the photos above).

I bought two lingerie bags at Target a while ago and one has started to fray at the seam. While lingerie bags are fairly inexpensive, I knew I could save this one by flipping over the seam and sewing a zig zag stitch.

I bought two lingerie bags at Target a while ago & one has started to fray at the seam.

I bought two lingerie bags at Target a while ago & one has started to fray at the seam.

I also added hanging hooks on each side of the bags. I again used that pretty pink binding and now I have no more. At least it will live on in infamy in all of these great home DIY projects I’m showing you.

I also added hanging hooks on each side of the bags.

I also added hanging hooks on each side of the bags.

I installed these hooks by our laundry and cleaning station and hung the lingerie bags there.

I installed these hooks by our laundry & cleaning station and hung the lingerie bags there.

I installed these hooks by our laundry & cleaning station and hung the lingerie bags there.

This easy access makes it a breeze for my small kids to put things like their tights and other delicates right into the bags so I have everything ready for laundry day.

This easy access makes it a breeze for my small kids to put things like their tights and other delicates right into the bags so I have everything ready for laundry day.

This easy access makes it a breeze for my small kids to put things like their tights and other delicates right into the bags so I have everything ready for laundry day.

What kind of modifications have you made to home items with your sewing skills? 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.
Cactus & Succulent Fabrics for You to Love

Cactus and Succulent Fabrics for You to Love

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

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

Desert blooms

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

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

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

Lovely llamas

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

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

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

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

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

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

California dreaming

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back into the desert

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

Here you have Mojave by Hawthorne Threads.

Here you have Mojave by Hawthorne Threads.

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

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

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

Heading to Arizona

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

I love & want them all!

I love & want them all!

Succulence

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

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

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

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

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
DIY Car Seat Poncho

DIY Car Seat Poncho

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

Snow day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cozy pockets

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

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

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

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

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

Grab that pincushion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tales from the hood

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lovely, no?

Lovely, no?

Lovely, no?

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

See all those pins?

See all those pins?

Put a clip on it

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

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

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

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

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

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

Momma’s little helper

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

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

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

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

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

Never iron on minky directly.

Never iron on minky directly.

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

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

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

Safety first

See how she is safely buckled underneath the poncho?

See how she is safely buckled underneath the poncho?

See how she is safely buckled underneath the poncho?

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

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

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

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

Here she is modeling it next to her daddy.

Here she is modeling it next to her daddy.

Under the hood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
DIY Chicken Aprons and Hen Saddles

DIY Chicken Aprons and Hen Saddles

Who knew chickens wore clothes?

Who knew chickens wore clothes?

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

Who knew chickens wore clothes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s another interesting thing we learned

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

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

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

Sketch it out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here you can see the elastic sandwiched between the layers.

Here you can see the elastic sandwiched between the layers.

Ok, here we go…

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

This is how it should look before you begin sewing.

This is how it should look before you begin sewing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top stitch!

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

And there you have it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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