Saturday, February 22, 2014

Travel Bag!

 Lately I've been busy teaching, but in my free time I've been working on this quilted travel bag.

I quilted it on the diagonal - 1 1/2" apart. I used headliner foam for the interfacing - I wrote about it here.

Here's the outside....the fabric is Tampa Town Toiles. I have no connection to Tampa. I've never been there - I bought it because I loved the colors. And I love toiles!

Oh...and I got a major deal on the fabric at Surplus City

Here's the inside. The fabric is from JoAnn Fabrics - regular quilting fabric.
I am in the process of adding some exterior pockets...

I'm moving at a snail's pace. Maybe I'll have it done by summer!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Marriage Equality Quilt...DONE!

I finally finished the Marriage Equality Quilt for my friends James and Jeffrey. They got married back in July...yes, I'm a bit slow with my gifts! The final size is 69" x 58" - the perfect lap quilt!

Here's a close-up of my straight stitching. I learned a valuable lesson - make sure the bar on your walking foot is secure. When I was quilting a few rows, the bar moved = a little wonky. 

The rows of stitches are at random widths.

Here it is before I quilted it.

The binding and back is Parson Gray Clouds Moss.


I'm please with how this turned out. It's my own design that I created using Excel. My love of puzzles came in handy when I pieced it - there are no consistent block designs! I printed the spreadsheet then drew out the blocks. I was incredibly happy when all the rows fit!

Although I created this as a symbol of love and equality, I think the design is universal!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Smartphone Stadium Wallet

One of my friends is a BIG sports fan. She recently moved back to her home state of Michigan to teach (at my alma mater!). She's a Michigan State alum and I know that she'll be going to some Michigan State athletic events. I recently learned that gone are the days of bringing big bags into arenas and stadiums, so I whipped up this little wallet so she can show her Spartan Spirit!

I made the phone pocket out of Michigan State fabric, but made the back of the wallet out of some fun tangerine/gold confetti fabric! She's got a fun personality, so I picket fabric accordingly!
The inside is simple - one zippered pocket and slots for credit card, i.d., etc. She travels light!

Would you like to make one? You can purchase the pattern in my Craftsy Pattern Shop!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Marriage Equality Quilt

Back in December, I started a quilt that I was supposed to have done back in July. Oops. This is a wedding gift for my friends James and Jeffery. I wrote about the basic block, but haven't posted any here it is! The top is done!

This took some work (math) to figure out the blocks - they are all different sizes and needed to go together differently. 

I'm dedicating today to getting my sewing room picked up so I can pin and quilt this. The background is dark olive and I plan to use the same color thread! My quilt design will be straight lines about 2" apart. I think. I keep changing my mind!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kitchen Dish Mat Redo

As much as I love my dishwasher, I do take care of certain items by hand washing them. My only problem (besides having a smaller-ish kitchen) is that I have a corner sink - with only one big sink. This makes air drying items a bit difficult. I eventually tried out one of those microfiber dish drying mats. But once again, the corner sink was a bit of a problem: the mat didn't fit well.

I lived with it for about six months, then finally decided to channel my handy mother and hack the corner of the mat so it fit snug up against my sink. The first thing I did was carefully remove the binding, then I marked where I wanted to cut and cut (with a rotary cutter), and lastly I sewed the binding back on.

Snug. And just the perfect size! 

The best thing of all? It's -4 but the SUN IS OUT! January in New York!

Monday, January 6, 2014

SEW BAD: 14 Sewing Habits that You Need Break!

Last year, my most popular post was my review of 13 bad sewing habits (in honor of 2013). Now it's 2014, so I thought I'd add 14 more. Many of these are based on the comments that you, the reader, provided! So here we go...

(14) Sewing in the dark. When I first start sewing, I had amazing eye sight. Now I'm blind without my bifocals. For me, great lighting is a must. I'm lucky to have a sister who works for a cardiologist. When they got new beds (is that what they are called?), they got new floor lamps. But the floor lamps were those lamps that we ladies are quite familiar know...not the ones a cardiologist would use. So I have an amazing Brewer Halogen 35 Exam Light! Use whatever works, but stop sewing in the dark!

(13) Not taking the time to press properly. You might go too quickly, you might iron when you should press (and stretch the fabric), you might use steam when you shouldn't, you might use the wrong temperature...whatever the problem, please take time to press!

(12) Watching TV. I don't have a TV in my sewing room, but one of you mentioned that this was a bad habit - mainly because it's distracting. This is especially dangerous when slicing fabric with a rotary cutter! YIKES! And to be honest, I can't imagine watching Downton Abbey while I'm sewing! 

(11) Being careless with your bobbin. One of you mentioned to be sure to thread your bobbin correctly. This is a tension issue - bobbins are wound and threaded in a particular direction for a reason. I've seen lots of bobbin problems: adding thread to a bobbin that already has thread on it (only wind thread on to an empty bobbin); winding the bobbin wrong (read your manual if you are in doubt), placing the bobbin in the machine in the wrong direction (again, check your manual). Also, for a drop-in bobbin, make sure the thread is inserted correctly. If I would get sewing quickly, the bobbin thread in my Janome would pop out of the tension and be all loosy-goosy. I could hear it happen!

And one more thing that a few of you mentioned...thinking that there is enough thread in the bobbin to finish a project. Ah, we all know it runs out with about 2" to go!

(10) Sewing while on meds. OK, I believe in sewing therapy, but there are times that we need to take some cold medication (or similar) that makes us drowsy. Probably not a good idea! Thanks to the reader who suggested this!

(9) Putting pins in your mouth. I rarely use pins, so this is not a problem for me, but,'s an accident waiting to happen. I love my magnetic pin holder. I have several of them. Get those pins out of your mouth! And speaking of pins, you really need to stop sewing over them - if hit a pin with your needle, you can jam that pin into your machine. You machine will hate you! =)

(8) Using a folding chair. My back is sore just thinking about this! I use an office chair - but I have a dedicated sewing room. For those of you sewing a the dining room table, make sure you are getting good support and that you are sitting at the correct height. This Sewlutions Guideline might help!

(7) Not taking breaks. I have a really bad habit of sewing for long periods of time. But sometimes it's just a good idea to take a break, especially when you are struggling. I stretch and go for a run on my treadmill. It clears my head and allows me to problem solve. Do what works for you!

(6) Not practicing new techniques prior to doing them. I'm a teacher who really believes in trying out new techniques. I've posted lots of tutorials in my Craftsy Pattern Store with the goal of helping you learn techniques - instead of being just a project sewer! So practice the technique prior to trying it on a project. Trust me...I've ruined a few projects because I thought I could figure it out. 

(5) Being afraid of zippers. I know. I was there. My friend Caitlin sent me directions for installing a zippered pocket. I was totally freaked out and sat on it for about three weeks. I finally mustered up the courage, got out some scrap fabric and an old zipper, and tried. It was hideously wonky. But I quickly figured out what I was doing wrong. I tried again. Now I can't get enough of zippers. Go to my Craftsy Pattern Store to download some free zipper tutorials! BTW, I buy all my zippers at ZipperStop!

(4) Being afraid to make a button hole. It's all about practicing. Yes, the button hole attachment looks a bit intimidating, but dig out some scrap fabric and your owner's manual and start playing. I think you'll be surprised how simple it is. 

(3) Storing thread out in the open. Yes, it's cute to hang thread on a peg board. My mom did that. In fact, I have a lovely pink peg board. But all of my thread is safely tucked away in drawers and jars. Why? Thread collects dust.  That dust gets in your machine. I once wrote about this...

(2) Using pens to mark up fabric. And by pens I mean pens, like Bic. Use pens and markers designed for marking fabric - or you might permanently stain your fabric. I prefer water-soluble markers and small pencils. But you still need to test them. Even markers designed for fabric can stain!

(1) Guessing when you can look it up. The internet wasn't around when I learned to sew, but I was lucky to have a talented sister and mother who would answer my questions. Now I look things up. I watch YouTube videos. This Craftsy class looks great...40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know. Sure, some of the techniques are for projects you won't make, but the techniques might help you with other projects. I never considered myself a quilter, but I use quilting techniques ALL. THE. TIME. on non-quilting projects!

Anything you'd like to add?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Java Jacket - We Are! Penn State

Holiday sewing has begun. Today I'm making it a Penn State Christmas! My first project is this simple Java Jacket for my friend who loves the Nittany Lions as much as she loves coffee. I used my own pattern - the back of the jacket comes up over the top which adds a nice faux piping element. 

The pattern is not currently available - because I'm in sewing mode rather than pattern-writing mode!

Watch for more holiday gift ideas!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Marriage Equality Quilt

Last year, when marriage equality finally came to New York, my co-worker announced that he and his partner of 15 years would be getting married! I wanted to make them a special quilt to honor their wedding and long relationship. The problem was that I had to design it - which took some time. Well, designing it was the easy part - finding the time to piece it was the problem. But I FINALLY got started!  James and Jeffery picked out their favorite David Butler's Parson Gray Seven Wonders fabric and I took some liberty with the equal sign -- they live in a craftsman style home, so I wanted something that fit.

Here's what I have so far! My plan is to make 14 blocks like these, then randomly place them around the modern quilt! YAY! I love Thanksgiving Break!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Christmas Sewing Frenzy Part One: Apron


UPDATE: The holidays are approaching, so I thought I'd repost one of my favorite patterns! I originally shared this in December 2012.

I turned my grades in and have been crazy trying to get caught up making Christmas gifts. So here the first gift: my friend’s ruffled apron with bib.

I used Alysa’s Awesome Apron pattern to make it – and then added the bib using an idea I saw on Sew4Home. I made only one change – I cut this bib 10” x 11” because the band on the apron comes up fairly high.


Here’s the monogram – from Digistitches.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Craftsy URL!

I've been posting free patterns and selling patterns on Craftsy since they started this service almost two years ago. I currently have 33 patterns and tutorials available to Craftsy members - and so far this year, I've had a total of just over 25,000 downloads (OK, most free stuff, but I'll take it!). The people at Craftsy recently informed me that I was one of their top designers and, as a reward, they gave me my own vanity URL! YAY! Check it out:

Head on over to my Craftsy Pattern Shop and check out my affordable patterns and free tutorials! Join the sewing revolution!
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