Sew Blog Inspiration

Final Sew Blog Inspiration

The Sew Blog project at Sewing Machines Plus ends today!  I have really enjoyed sharing projects, ideas, and inspiration with you here, but now it is time for us to move on to new things. And so we will no longer post updates on this sew blog.

If you have been a loyal or an occasional reader here, thank you. If you are just now finding us, please read on! We’ve worked hard to pack this sew blog full of both easy and challenging projects, information, inspiration, and more. If you have a sewing question, we hope you will find the answer here.

Keep in touch

Follow Sewing Machines Plus on Facebook and on YouTube for info on what’s new at SMP.

For more from me, please join my email list at Sewing and Growing. There will be new posts there and I will also be releasing several bag and patchwork skirt patterns soon. These patterns will be available on Craftsy and some will be free.  Sign up for the newsletter at my sew blog to be notified as soon as these patterns are released, and for more sewing info and inspiration from me. I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

You can also follow me on Twitter and Pinterest.

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Printable patterns for my new projects will be at Craftsy soon

Final sew blog inspiration

I’d like to share a couple more fun and helpful ideas with you here before we go. These ideas are not my own, but I’ve been having a lot of fun playing with them lately, and one has been an absolute revolution in scrap management for me; I hope you’ll love these ideas as much as I do.

A scrap-busting revolution

Scrap management is always an issue for sewists and quilters. How do you manage yours?

I have to admit that I have tried many different ways, but mostly I end up stuffing scraps in boxes, bins,  baskets, or bags, and then dumping these out to pick through when I want to use them. This is messy for sure!

Recently I came across this post on Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s sew blog and tried her idea for “made fabric.” I fell in love with the idea, and now, instead of gathering my scraps from the floor and stuffing them somewhere, I sew them together at the end of the day and make patchwork fabric.

Sew Blog Inspiration

Start with your tiniest scraps and join them every which way.

I’ve been asked how this is different from crazy patchwork. Crazy patchwork uses a foundation fabric, and scraps are sewn down on top of this foundation. So, while crazy patch is a good way to use scraps, it is not “made fabric.” In this method of scrap busting, you sew the scraps to each other to make fabric. You don’t use any foundation behind them.

15 Minutes of Play

Victoria wrote a book, 15 Minutes of Play, which gives lots more inspiration for using her made fabric idea. This book has been on my wish list for a while now, but her sew blog also provides plenty of ways to work with made fabric. I find that it’s so much fun to make that I usually extend this playtime for more than just 15 minutes and make a few blocks, but you can complete one in just a quarter of an hour.

Sew Blog Inspiration

Finish one block in 15 minutes or work on 4 for an hour. I’ll use my square ruler to trim these.

I have a few ideas of my own for what to do with made fabric, too, and I’ll share some of them with you now:

Besides cutting it into blocks and making quilts, I plan to make different sizes of lined bags (with drawstrings) from them, to use as quilt and gift bags. I already made a lotus bag from a twelve-inch square—I’m sorry to say that I gave it away without snapping a picture. I might use several squares and make this kind of kinchaku bag.

I’ll also make a journal cover from some of my made fabric. I might even use the tiniest scraps to make small made fabric circles to cover Mason jar lids when I make bath salts or other gifts to give in a jar. And I think that a made fabric patchwork bear or bunny would be a ton of fun to create.

I bet you will come up with lots of ideas, too; this is such a fun thing to do that, like me, you might like to spend even more than 15 minutes each day playing with patchwork and scraps.

Scatterbrain quilts

You can incorporate both made fabric and leftover or UFO blocks in the fun quilts that Felice Regina calls scatterbrains. She says that she dislikes making the same block over and over, so she combines different blocks to make these gorgeous but informal sampler quilts. Check out Felice’s inspirational Scatterbrain quilts on her blog.

Whether you have a few random or leftover blocks taking up space in your sewing drawer, or a few blocks that you’d love to try without committing to making a whole quilt of them, you might like to make one of these fun quilts, too. I think all quilters will love to make at least one of these. I’ve just gotten started on my first one; if you’ll like to see photos of this when it’s complete, visit me at Sewing and Growing.

That’s all folks!

Thanks for reading this blog. Please follow us elsewhere for more info and inspiration, and shop SewingMachinesPlus.com for all your sewing machine and supply needs. Happy sewing!

Thanksgiving Sewing Projects

Thanksgiving Sewing Projects

Thanksgiving is the start of the family visiting season. Shortly after Thanksgiving comes Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, and New Year’s Eve. At each of these, family visits and enjoys time in your home visiting and seeing what’s changed since their last visit. It’s a great opportunity to impress them with your sewing skills, starting with Thanksgiving sewing projects to set the tone for the rest of the year. These projects are sure to be a hit with everyone who visits during the festive seasons at the end of the year.

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Child’s handprint sewing craft

At school this time of year, kids trace their hands and turn them into construction paper turkeys. This fabulous sewing project takes that school craft to the next level. Handprints sewn in fabric coupled with a hand sewn pumpkin make a great center piece. And your kids will love that they get to be involved in your sewing project.

Oak leaf bowl

I love oak leaves! Unfortunately, unlike maple leaves they don’t hold up well when trying to use the from DIY projects. Instead, to bring the elegance of oak leaves to the Thanksgiving table, check out these amazing oak leaf bowls. They’re perfect to hold after dinner mints or hard candies for your guests to enjoy.

Thankful garland

There’s always room for gratitude, but Thanksgiving is a time when we all focus on it a bit more. This felt banner will look great over your dining room table during your Thanksgiving meal and also focus attention on all we have to be thankful for this year.

Corn bundles table décor

Traditional Indian corn, also known as maize, has been associated with Thanksgiving since the Pilgrims had the very first feast. Although corn isn’t a typical thanksgiving dish, you can still honor this delicious food with a fun sewing project. The corn bundles make a great center piece on any table and they’re fun and easy to make.

Enhance your Thanksgiving celebrations this year with Thanksgiving sewing projects. Your family will be impressed with your skills and they’ll be great conversation starters for any new guests.

Cleaning Your Sewing Machine

Cleaning Your Sewing Machine

Clean Machine Lead

Keeping your sewing machine clean is an important part of producing beautiful things with fabric and thread. After enough projects, there will be an accumulation of fluff from thread and fabric in the inner workings of your machine. If you leave that to accumulate for too long, your machine will start to perform poorly.

Anytime I start to get skipped stitches or a sluggish machine I think back and ask myself when the last time was I cleaned it; it was usually too long ago.

Read the manual

I talk a lot about getting to know your manual. I’ve put little sticky notes all over mine so I can quickly find what I’m looking for. Get your out manual (or locate a PDF online) and go to the section on ‘How to clean your machine.’

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Some machines will tell you to oil certain parts. Others won’t. My top advice is to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on cleaning.

For my Brother cs6000i I need to remove the bobbin cover on the needle plate cover.

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Then I follow the instructions to remove the needle plate cover itself.

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Next I remove the bobbin case.

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Vacuums and cotton swabs

Now I have unfettered access and can get to cleaning. Step one, vacuum!

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I also use cotton swabs to gather up the fuzz that my vacuum can’t reach.

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Look at all that fabric and thread fuzz!

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Once the inside of the machine is clean, you need to also clean the parts you removed.

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After you’ve reassembled the parts you’ve removed, I also suggest changing out to a new needle. It’s better to start fresh and new after a cleaning.

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Re-thread in your desired color.

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Now do some practice stitches. Here you can see how clean my embroidery stitch looks after cleaning my machine and switching out to a new needle.

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With a clean machine I was able to do some beautiful embroidery for a friendship quilt I’m making.

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Happy cleaning and happy sewing!

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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.
Should Your Child Learn to Sew on a Machine or by Hand?

Should Your Child Learn to Sew on a Machine or by Hand?

Recently, more or less, my oldest niece has shown an interest in Chess, and it’s been a learning experience for me as well as I play games with her. Given how little I knew about Chess going in, honestly, I almost had to learn something along the way, but we’re both growing as players—which is fairly awesome. She’s come a long way from the girl who played with a toy phone in the kitchen floor, and now, she’s exploring more advanced hobbies.Sewing and Chess

Chess, as it happens, is just one of the latest. She’s also tried making stepping stones, baking, and sewing.

Once upon a time…

Sewing, like you might have guessed, is the topic of this particular post since once upon a time she found herself wanting to explore the territory as a hobby. That hobby was encouraged when she got a toy sewing machine, but what I assumed would be the case turned out to be accurate. Those toy machines aren’t good strategies to teach your children how to sew. Even with all of the hours that I’d spent sewing, I couldn’t get the toy to work right, and I ended up encouraging her to just forget the machine and sew by hand. That strategy actually led to her progressing a bit, and it turned out better than if I’d left her alone to the machine.

But that brings up an interesting question. Sure, this toy wasn’t a good machine for my niece to learn sewing, but what about a real machine? Essentially, which is the better strategy to teach your children to sew: on a machine or by hand?Sewing with Kids

By hand

The answer, to me, is two-fold. If you want your child to finish an early project on a more individual basis, the sewing by hand method works better because there’s less chance for injury while working alone. Sure, the child might stick themselves with a needle, but it won’t be with the force and repetition that a machine can deliver. This would make the overall process safer, and even though you might argue that it could slow the project’s completion, keep in mind that if you were dealing with a child on a machine, you probably wouldn’t get the full speed that’s possible through using the machine because of safety and the child’s hesitance during the learning process.Sewing by Hand

Children can learn concepts that can benefit them later in life through this by-hand process, like how to tie off the thread or make consistent stitch sizes, and they’re doing so with less chance of serious injury. Still though, keep in mind that any needle can cause injury, so always supervise and only allow the child to try sewing in this method if they’re old enough—and mature enough—to handle it.

By machine

If you want your child to be at their safest rather than their most individual, it might be a good idea, believe it or not, to break out the sewing machine since the needle stays in the same vicinity during the process. Regardless, guidelines for these early sewing machine moments should definitely be in place to lessen the chance of serious injury. Although other people probably disagree, as an example, if my niece (who’s 12 now) sat down with full control of a machine and fed the fabric through, I’d be paranoid that she’d accidentally get her fingers caught under the needle because she’s never tried it.Sewing by Machine

There is a way to combat this complication, fortunately, and that’s a guideline to only allow your child to do certain things on the machine—as in either work the pedal or the feed the fabric through. This way, while your child is smaller, they can focus their attention on learning how the speed of the machine works through operating the pedal without getting near the needle. Once your child is older, you can switch places and let them feed the fabric through while you’re in charge of the pedal to make sure the fabric feeds slowly enough for their fingers to be in the right places every time the needles comes down. This keeps the child from learning to feed the fabric through at a too-fast pace and lessens the chance of injury. That’s a good combination to pass on sewing to your kids!Sewing Generations

If you choose not to decide – you still have made a choice

Basically, there’s room for both hand sewing and machine sewing. To make the call, you should consider child’s needs and capabilities, and always—always—think of safety first. Always supervise and guide your child through the process, whether it’s more individual-centered through a by-hand method or tag-team through dividing the sewing machine labor. If you plan these things right though, your child can blossom in the sewing world, and the roots to their success can trace back to these moments you shared over their early interests.

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.

Traditional vs. Modern Quilts - What’s the Difference?

Traditional vs. Modern Quilts – What’s the Difference?

Do you understand the differences between traditional and modern quilts?

Let’s look and see just what sets these different styles apart.

Traditional quilts

Traditional quilts are tried and true. Folks have been piecing and quilting these familiar designs for hundreds of years. Traditional patchwork designs have names: Log Cabin, Courthouse Steps, Nine-Patch, Dresden Plate.  There are thousands of these traditional patterns, and these are based on blocks and a grid.

Traditional vs Modern Quilts-What's the Difference?

Traditional quilts use regularly repeating shapes and blocks, based on a grid.

Traditional patchwork can be simple or complex, but it is usually made up of many repetitions of the same block and orderly rows. These are frequently combined with uniform sashing between individual blocks and/or borders all around. They rely heavily on symmetry in both the patchwork and the quilting.

Traditional quilt patterns are still made and loved today, but we can say that these are our grandmothers’ quilts—and their grandmothers before them.

Traditional vs Modern Quilts- What's the Difference?

Modern quilts

As the name implies, modern quilts are something new. They are more experimental and rely less on rules and order.  Modern quilt designs began popping up in the last half of the twentieth century. But they really hit their stride just before the new millennium.

Modern quilts differ from traditional quilts in many ways. Traditional quilts rely on a grid of regularly repeating designs, symmetry, sashing, borders, often complicated patchwork, and simple quilting. In contrast, modern quilts go off the grid and use asymmetry, less fuss, minimalist designs, and a more improvisational style with unusual arrangements of blocks and settings.

Traditional vs Modern Qults- What's the Difference?

While there is a definite list of characteristics that categorize the modern quilt style, these are not rules. Most modern quilts will fulfill at least one but not usually all of them.  In general, modern quilt characteristics include a minimalist style; they emphasize negative space rather than intricate patchwork. They may feature bold colors and graphic designs that give high-contrast pop. And modern quilts often feature asymmetry and use unusual block placement and off-center motifs.

Traditional vs Modern Quilts- What's the Difference?

photo courtesy redheadwiththread

Modern colors and fabrics

Colors in modern quilts tend to be bold. High contrast graphic designs are created with brightly colored solid fabrics and striking modern prints. These are used more sparingly than in the more familiar repeating patterns which march across so many traditional quilts.  The focus is on the bold modern fabrics, rather than fussy technique.

Traditional vs Modern Quilts- What's the Difference?

Bold colors make modern quilts pop

Negative space and dense, innovative quilting

Negative space features heavily in modern quilts.  In traditional quilting, the repeating patchwork is meant to stand out. So traditional quilters most often construct backgrounds from neutral, receding colors. But backgrounds in modern quilts are brighter and more expansive. Whites and grays are popular choices to bring these negative spaces forward.

All this negative space highlights asymmetrical, alternate grid, or graphic modern quilting.  Simple piecing contrasts with dense quilting in innovative designs. Whereas patchwork commands attention in traditional quilts; on modern quilts, the quilting more often stands out.

Traditional vs Modern Quilts- What's the Difference?

Zig-zag modern quilting

No rules quilting

Traditional quilting stitches may be straight and simple lines, such as with “stitch in the ditch” lines that follow piecing seams. Or they can be elaborate curliques and designs which are deliberately and symmetrically placed to line up with wide borders. They may even meander as free-motion stipples, but these must follow rules, and not cross each other.

Modern quilters are free to abandon all these rules. Modern quilting lines may cross to form geometric patterns, irregular curlicues, or any other design an imaginative quilter can dream up. Quilters can even combine many varied stitches and feature each separately to break up a large expanse of negative space into different sections, for example.

Traditional vs Modern Quilts- What's the Difference?

Another quilt by Columbus Modern Quilt Guild member DanaK

Free-motion quilting is one way to let loose and experiment with fun and free modern quilting. To quilt in the free motion style, use your darning foot. You can either lower your feed dogs to guide your fabric by hand, or you can leave your feed dogs up and just set your stitch length to zero. Either way works!

Leah Day, who teaches free-motion quilting online, challenged herself to create a new filler design every day for a year. And her Free-Motion Quilting Project blog is an excellent resource and inspiration.

Off the grid layout

Patchwork in modern quilts can include off center or tessellated designs.  Modern quilts differ with much less reliance on uniform blocks and borders than is traditional and may feature irregular rows. Lack of borders and offset blocks create designs that continue beyond the quilt’s edge.  In general, both the patchwork and the quilting on modern quilts tends not to rely on a grid.

Traditional vs Modern Quilts- What's the Difference?

Example from Flickr user Gabrielle shows a modern, off-the-grid design

Modern quilts may make use of technology, such as computers for visualizing designs, and tools such as cutting machines or tessellating or other specialty rulers, to assist with cutting and design.

Traditional vs Modern Quils- What's the Difference?

This quilt by Columbus Modern Quilt Guild member shows a fun take on pixelation.

Hybrid design: modern traditionalism

You don’t have to choose between these two styles, however! Modern traditionalism is a hybrid of both. These quilts marry the improvisational freedom in design, piecing, and quilting of modern quilts with the traditional patchwork designs that connect us to the many generations of quilters before us.

A modern traditional quilt may shrink a traditional pattern and sprinkle these sparsely as isolated individuals amongst a wide expanse of negative space. Other modern treatments of traditional patchwork include combining patterns or enlarging blocks to a single design. A quilter may then feature such blocks this off center, for example.

Traditional vs Modern Quilts- What's the Difference?

Modern traditionalism features new settings for traditional blocks. Photo courtesy of Trillium Designs

Which style do you prefer? I love them all!

For more modern and modern traditional inspiration, check out the gallery at the Modern Quilt Guild.
Flickr images licensed under Collective Commons.
French Alterations and a Wee Rant

French Alterations and a Wee Rant

French Alteration: Pinning a garment with a note about something you never intend to actually do – and no one ever knows or realizes!

At this point in my tailoring and patternmaking career, I tend to work with the same five or six designers. Mainly, because I enjoy working with them and our fitting styles and fitting room etiquette mesh.

“Fitting styles and fitting room etiquette?” you might ask, “I didn’t know that was a thing.”

Well, when it comes to TV and film fitting rooms, it is definitely a thing. I prefer to work with designers I know and respect because they, in turn, know and respect me. And, most importantly, they let me do my job. Which is to fit a garment on a specific person’s body.

Take it in

My fitting style is to survey the situation for a few minutes, to let the clothing settle on a person so I can see what it’s doing or what it wants to do. Then I go in and start pinning if I need to. Sometimes, I don’t need to, sometimes I can tell what needs to happen just by looking at it.

On the rare occasions these days when I work with someone who doesn’t know me very well, they often want me to rush right in and start pinning away before I’ve had a chance to actually look at things. Or, one of my big annoyances, they yank in the center back waist of a thing so the side seams are pulled all wonky and tell me I need to “take it in”.

Well, yes, it does need to be taken in, but not like that.

Fit preference

Sometimes they’ll even do this to a jacket without buttoning the front buttons, which means if I did take it in the amount they’ve grabbed, the jacket would never, ever, in a million years, be able to close.

I try to be as nice as possible and say, yes, I see that. Now, can you please let go so I can see what’s going on?

Costume Designers definitely have their own preferences when it comes to fit and hem lengths and stuff. I’m completely ok with that and will fit things how they like them fit but I’m not going to do something that will end up looking bad in the end (and for which, I’ll be the one who is blamed because, as in most things, people tend to blame the last person who touched a thing if something is wrong with said thing).

We tailors have this little term we use called a French Alteration. It’s when you pin something or write a note about something as if you’re going to do it but never actually do and no one ever knows or realizes.

Anyway, so back to fitting room etiquette. If there’s a designer in the room, I let them do all the talking and or schmoozing about how good something looks on someone. I just like to concentrate and do my job. Some tailors like to chat (which is perfectly cool if that’s your thing) but I like to listen to what the clothes are trying to tell me.

Brand fitting

One thing I’ve noticed about some designers is that they don’t always seem to understand that brands are cut differently and certain labels look better on certain people. Sometimes, you need to go through a whole slew of suit jackets to find the one that fits a specific body type the best. I can do pretty much any alteration but after a point its sort of foolish to spend a crazy amount of time altering a thing when you could possibly find a cut of jacket that works with minimal alterations. Like, if you need to shorten the body of a suit jacket, maybe you should buy a short (as in a 40short or something). Men’s suit jackets come in longs, regulars, and shorts for a reason. Use them.

I know I’ve mentioned this before but, one of my favorite designers to work for is Frank Fleming who, among all sorts of other things, is the Costume Designer for the show Power. Frank is the master at finding which suit brand and cut fits best on which actor. He can even usually tell which one is going to be best by just looking at an actor. I love that, ‘cause as much as I enjoy taking a suit jacket sleeve out, re-cutting the back and or shoulders and resetting the sleeve (not really), why not just start with a suit jacket that works on a specific body type and not do that?

I never went to school for costume design so I don’t know if they teach this little idea but, they should. It’s a huge time saver. And it really just makes sense.

Hero Sea To Summit Pillowcase

DIY pillowcase for Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow

Hero Sea To Summit Pillowcase

This past weekend my family went on an overnight backpacking trip near our home in the Eastern Sierra. When you are carrying all of your gear on your back you want your items to be as light as possible so I picked up this inflatable Sea To Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow.

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Of course I’ve never met a pillow that didn’t deserve a handmade pillowcase, so I set to work making one for this uniquely shaped fellow.

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Fully inflated the pillow is approximately 16″ x 12″ x 4″ with an interior curve on the neck side and an exterior curve on the opposite side. The top and bottom edges are all rounded as well. I used matching fabric from the DIY bandana I sewed in this post and draped it over the pillow to see if it would fit.

Once I knew the fabric would fit, I turned the fabric wrong sides up and used pins to mark the four curved corners. Be careful, you don’t want to puncture your brand new backpacking pillow!

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On the interior curve, I found the approximate center and cut the fabric up a ways.

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Then I used pins to tighten up the fabric around the top of the curve.

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Once everything looked right, I used a marker (but you could use a pencil if a marker would show through your fabric choice) and marked the corner seams and the portion of the interior curve I had pinned.

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Then I used a sturdy ruler and placed it against the sides of the pillow, marking the approximate edge all the way around.

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Carefully, I slipped the case off of the pillow, making sure not to disturb any of my pins. I only removed the pins corner by corner as I sewed following my marks.

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For the interior curve, I sewed the small section I had pinned to cinch the fabric around the corner, then finger pressed the raw edges of both sides of cut fabric over twice and sewed a hem.

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Here I took a moment to turn the pillowcase right side out and placed it over the pillow, just to double check my sizing. I would be adding elastic to bring the loose fabric under the case, but this was good to see before cutting the excess fabric off of the corners.

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Once I knew it was correctly sized, I turned the pillow case wrong side out and trimmed off the excess fabric on the sewn corners.

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Then I marked a 1″ hem all around the case using the line I’d created earlier as a guide.

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At this moment I realized I didn’t have enough fabric on the side opposite where the neck would lie. I took a spare piece and sewed it onto that side, pressed the seam down, and then continued drawing my 1″ hem.

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Once the 1″ hem was drawn I cut out the fabric. Now you could really see the shape of the case coming together.

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I finger pressed the hem over ½” and then another ½” and sewed my hem as I folded and pressed.

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Then it was time to finish the interior curve. I fit the pillow case on right side out and pinned each flap from the center so the fabric hugged each curve. I sewed the flaps.

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Now it was time to add elastic. I used ¼” elastic.

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When I had fully sewn around the hem, I drew the elastic across to a point on the opposite side of the pillow and sewed the elastic in place.

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I then repeated on the opposite side with a separate piece of elastic, creating a crisscross pattern on the bottom of the pillow.

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As long as you don’t sew the elastic too taught, you can absolutely slip the inflated pillow into the case. Take a few moments to work the case into the shape you’ve sewn and then flip it over to enjoy your handiwork.

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For backpackers who weigh everything that goes in their pack, this pillowcase weighs 1.4 oz. Happy backpacking!

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

Sewing for Harvey and Irma

September has REALLY been a month for Texas and Florida so far! Mother Nature has once again chosen to fill the lakes and streams, and even the streets and houses with her life sustaining water, wind and rain. Unfortunately, it has left many, many thousands of people stranded without power, water, food and many families with lost animals and family and worse than that, the roof over their heads is gone.

Such devastation is certainly overwhelming even to those with a strong purpose to ride out the storm. My prayers go out to all affected.

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Andrew

I was living in Florida through Hurricane Andrew, and it had to be was one of the most stressful events in my life. I was about 90 miles from Homestead, but the weather forecaster reports were very certain it would make landfall on my community. It did not, however, but the fear was still strong.

Also, in many areas of California, from time to time, dry land and fires ravish the wonderful trees and expensive homes. It simply occurs out of our control. We have to survive and rebuild.

As the reality of these catastrophes hit our homes, and friends and families, my heart hurts to see people’s possessions on the curbs of streets, ruined and wet and unsalvageable. But, there has been an awesome power of giving and helping and a true blessing to my fellow Texans and those in Florida.

How to help

So, to make this article a positive one, rather than a stark reality check, I have been brainstorming ways that one can make a difference to help these people in distress.

Of course, there are agencies that help people with the general necessities, such as water, and food, and shelter in these areas.

But.. most want donors to send cash. But with short notice to evacuate, many people with small children have little chance to gather baby things and comfort items for themselves and even their pets. They won’t have transportation to go shopping either in many cases until the water lowers enough to leave shelters.

I was happy to hear that pets were included in the evacuations; however, some were transported to separate shelters with other displaced pets. I hope their families will be able to retrieve them once they are able to return home or find a new home. But they need comfort too! After all, they are our families.

Anyway, I am researching companies that will take handmade clothes, blankets, hats, burp cloths and other things that I have made for my online shop. I have discovered several charitable agencies and particularly church groups, classes at schools, some women’s shelters, hospitals, even families of our neighbors who may be located in the Houston or Florida area. Check online for these groups. If there is not one, form one from your sewing circles and sewing class students!  Form a group and make small packages together. Include paper diapers, and other essentials, and a handmade toy perhaps.  Sew small things, make sweet surprises and you will make a huge difference for a family and their children.

“It takes a whole village to raise a child” – H.R. Clinton

Here are some suggestions that came to mind:

  • Small blankets
  • Bib cloths
  • Bibs
  • Snuggle blankets (small blankets with satin edging) or Minky fabric
  • Swaddles
  • Diapers
  • Dog mats and blankets – don’t leave them out! (Dallas Animal Shelter is temporarily boarding Houston animals)
  • Soft towels, perhaps small ones, sewn together
  • Soft flannel sheets for the crib
  • Sewn hats or capes
  • Small toys for babies (or dogs) made of soft, safe materials

Use fabric you find on sale, and then you can use other leftover scraps from previous projects (SewingMachinePlus.com now sells fabric in their brick and mortar store. One day, I hope to shop there).

Confetti Quilt-Art for Your Walls

Confetti Quilt-Art for Your Walls

Speaking of fall projects, I’ve recently come across a quilting technique that would be fantastic for creating a beautiful piece of autumn to use for wall décor. The problem, though, is that the technique used to build this work is a bit advanced, so it’s something I’m going to have to put on the back-burner for a bit until I potentially get the hang of more intricate workings of specific sewing processes.

The overall idea is out of my comfort zone right now, but it’s still something that seems like a great enough idea to share with those reading this blog post. Maybe you’re more advanced than I am in the sewing world, and this would be a simple project to you to bring fall coloring to your home’s interior. If so, gather your fabric and tulle, and get to working!


Project: Confetti-Quilted Wall Hanging


Tools and Supplies:

Sewing machine, scissors or rotary cutter, fabric (some for shredding purposes), tulle, and straight pins

The Idea:

Creating a work of art from bits of fabric
Mulberry Patch Quilts

See all of these leaves? Those are tiny bits of fabric placed on the piece, or confetti fabric!

It would be easy to label this a mosaic-type project, and in a way it is because it’s a bigger picture that’s being constructed by smaller pieces. But the incredibly small sizes of these pieces are tiny enough to compare to confetti being tossed in the air, so the confetti name is actually more fitting than the mosaic title—especially since the confetti can bunch up and overlap on your design in contrast to the side-by-side nature of a mosaic piece.

This is an idea that can be put in practice to make a full quilt, but the number of times you’d have to go through the process to create enough blocks for a quilt sincerely escalates the amount of time you spend on a project. Considering fall is so close, using the one-block notion for a wall hanging is more reasonable—and it’ll create a one-of-a kind piece to show off to your home’s guests.

The advantage of confetti

The beauties here are that you can pick the size of the confetti art work, you can choose the image you want to depict, and you can even use scrap material from other projects that have little to no value for other concepts. These confetti dots are tiny, so it doesn’t take extended amounts of fabric to create them. You might want to keep that in mind as you trim up your fabric for other projects and stash away the scraps and remainders in some kind of a confetti-quilt container. That way, you can build your supply for a confetti project that pops in your head, giving you the ability to start constructing immediately rather than having to search for fabric bits.

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For a fall project, this is a good option because autumn comes with a great deal of outdoor imagery, like trees filled with colorful leaves or pumpkins placed in front of haystacks. Through the outdoor elements comes the prospect of movement and wind, so having the confetti scraps present to drizzle across your project can give the viewer that sense of movement in a display that’s random enough to highlight the notion.

Working with layers

You can layer the colors and fabrics to boost that realism until you have a strong tree covered in a series of leaves that are dropping to the ground and flying away, a pumpkin patch with dust and leaves blowing past it, a scarecrow that’s caught up in seeds that are breaking away from crops and sailing by… Lots of ways exist to put this idea into practice, and each has a look of intricate realism that’s sparked from the confetti approach.

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The process to perform this task seems basic, if intricate, and so long as you keep the confetti pieces in their places with straight pins, tulle, and early sewing, you can make sure everything stays close enough to the arranged order to highlight the scene as you intended it above your mantle or over your couch—or wherever you choose to place the finished work!

Inspiration is key

If you want to find inspiration for what to depict in your confetti project, try going for a nature walk to look for signs of autumn’s approach, and when something particularly seasonal catches your eye, freeze that memory in your mind (or snap a photo) to remember it. As the month rolls on, nature itself can give you plenty of sights to choose from to be the main scene of your confetti project!

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So, if your skills allow you to handle this intricate of a project, start looking for that autumn image to commit to a wall hanging!