Hosting a Quilt Square Swap!

cut squares
I just finished hosting a quilt square swap. If you haven’t participated in one before, here’s how it works.

Each swap has 30 spots in it. Each participant signs up for one or more spots. For each spot, one yard of fabric is sent in. For each yard, 30 different 6.5″ squares are returned, including one from the yard sent in by the participant.

In the past, each participant has sent in their squares already cut. For this swap, participants sent in uncut fabric and I ran it through my Accuquilt Studio cutter to make the squares.

Accuquilt Studio

This worked really well. However, there were a couple things I didn’t consider.
1) Fabric sent through the mail needs to be ironed before it can be cut into squares.
2) I can cut one yard of fabric pretty quickly to make 30 squares. However, doing this 30 times takes a while!
While ironing, cutting and sorting, I played through an entire season of Mad Men on Netflix and made my teen sit through Sneakers!

cut squares

In this case, two swaps ran at the same time to make shipping costs more economical for participants. So, those piles each contain 900 squares. 1800 squares total from 60 yards of fabric.

Once cut, the fabrics are sorted into piles containing one of each print. Here are the dots:
sorted dots squares

Then I stacked them just to get them out of the way so there was room to pack them!
all sorted squares

Once sorted and packed by destination, they just need postage!
all packed squares

One waiting for an address, but the rest are ready to ship! I will drop them off at the post office since I try not to leave big piles of mail for the mail carrier without giving him advance warning.

I am looking forward to seeing what all these squares become!

Happy Sewing!


Sewing Tutorial: Create a Cover With Handles to Carry Your Bible or Other Study Books!

This tutorial was created for Sewing Mamas by Kelley, who is Chrisnkelley in our forums. Thanks Kelley!

This is what we are making:
finished cover

This is a Bible cover for my daughter. The cover has 2 ribbon straps to hold the Bible in place, pockets on the front and back for papers, and a spot for 2 pens on the spine.
finished cover carried

You will need about ⅓ yards of fabric, fusible fleece, interfacing, and ribbon. Also, you might choose to add snaps, buttons, magnetic snaps, or something else for a closure. The pieces are all rectangular and are based on the size of the Bible (or other book) that you are making the cover for.

The first thing you’ll do is cut 2 pieces for the outside and inside of your Bible cover. This will be based on your Bible’s dimensions. As you can see in the photo below, I laid my daughter’s Bible down open so that the covers and spine were all spread out, then I measured 2 inches out widthwise on each side and 1 inch out top and bottom. The Bible I used is a children’s Bible. My personal Bible is larger, so these dimensions won’t be correct for all Bibles. The pieces I cut were 10-½ inches high and 16 inches wide. Cut 2 of these pieces.

pocket pieces

The next thing I did, which you can see in the photo above, is to cut 2 pieces for the pockets. These pieces should be the entire width of the cover pieces, but about 3 inches shorter. My pocket pieces are 16 wide by 7-½ inches high. This is not critical if you go a bit higher or lower, it will just affect pocket depth. You can see this if you look closely above, especially on the right side. I laid the pocket pieces on top of the cover pieces.

Next (not shown), the same size as your cover pieces, cut 1 piece of fusible fleece and 1 piece of interfacing. You can use 2 fusible fleece if you want a puffier case or 2 interfacing if you want it thinner, but I personally would want at least 1 layer of fusible fleece in there.

Then, cut 1 piece of interfacing the size of your pocket pieces. You could interface both pocket pieces for a stiffer pocket if you’d like, or even use fleece. I did 1 piece of interfacing and I think it turned out great.

strap pieces

Next, in the pic above, I cut 4 strap pieces. I cut them 10 inches long by 2 inches wide. You can adjust your strap size/width to your liking. I didn’t interface these, but you certainly could use interfacing or fleece. Alternatively, you could use something else for your straps such as grosgrain ribbon. You also don’t have to make straps. You could just sew in ribbon on each side that you could use as an attachment to tie a bow to keep your Bible in place. Also, you could make a tiny strap with a buttonhole and sew into only the back of the cover, and then pop a button on the front. Its up to you! But the instructions are for what I did, which is a carrying handle strap on each side. :)

Here’s what you should have by now:
(2 cover pieces, 1 fleece cover piece, 1 interfacing cover piece, 2 pocket pieces, 1 interfacing pocket piece, 4 strap pieces)
cut pieces

Now, sew 2 strap pieces together along the long sides, then turn right side out and press. Topstitch the long edges. The short edges can remain raw since they’ll be sandwiched in the seam of the Bible cover.
straps sewn

Now, fuse your fleece to the wrong side of 1 cover piece and the interfacing to the other cover piece. Then fuse the pocket interfacing to one of the pocket pieces.

sew along one long edge
Now, put your pocket pieces right sides together and sew along 1 long edge for the top of the pockets. Then turn it wrong sides together and press the pocket edge and topstitch as pictured above.

Now, we will make a sandwich. Start with your front cover (the fleece fused one) right side up. Then place the pocket on that, also right side up. This will be the outside of your cover. Make sure to align the raw bottom edges of the pocket piece with the bottom of the front cover.

front and pocket

Then place the handles. They go in the center of each side of the cover, facing in so that just the raw edges get sewed in the seam. Pin the heck out of these so they stay in place and don’t get caught in the seam funny. I also placed a few pins along the pocket while I was at it.
front and pocket

Next, place the inside cover piece right side down on top of it all. Put a few pins in there to hold it all together. I also decided to add a seam tag, so I pinned that in – that’s why I have the corner pulled up here:

Now, time to sew. Sew around the Bible cover making sure to catch everything in your seam. Leave about a 3-4 inch opening in one side. I left mine on the bottom edge.
sew around

Now, take out the pins and turn it inside out. Be careful, as you do this you’ll run into all the pins on the inside. I kind of felt around a bit and tried to remove as many as I could prior to turning. Turn it all the way out, poke the corners so they pop out nicely, then press flat. Make sure when pressing to fold in your opening nicely also.

right side out
Then go ahead and topstitch all the way around making sure to use care at the opening where you pressed the edges in. Mine got wonky in that area because I tend to go too fast, so be warned! Use caution in that area if you don’t want a wonky bump on the bottom of your cover!

topstitched nice and neat!
Next, I drew 3 lines for my pen pockets. 1 line right down the center (top to bottom), and another line 1 inch on each side of the center line. I couldn’t find any marking pencil other than my white one conveniently, so as you can imagine that worked great with this fabric (not so much!) You might want to choose a pencil that contrasts your fabric. Just sayin! Then stitch down the lines.
pen pockets
Next, I cut 2 pieces of ribbon the height of the Bible cover for the inside Bible straps. You could also use FOE if you’d like. Fold over a tiny bit at the top and bottom and stitch down to the top and bottom of the cover, right in the center of each side, like so.
ribbon or FOE to hold book
Insert your Bible to make sure all is well. These don’t keep it super tight, but they keep it from slipping out.
testing it out

You are now finished unless you’d like to add some sort of attachment to the straps so the Bible stays in place if its in a bag or something. If you chose to just do ribbons instead of straps, you won’t need an attachment since you’ll just tie cute little bows. I chose to add snaps. You could do magnetic closures, buttons, velcro…
Enjoy your new Bible cover!
all done!

Hey, that looks great, doesn’t it? Thanks so much to Kelley for taking the time to take all those pictures and write out all the instructions!

If you make one of these, be sure to post it in our Runway!

Happy Sewing!

Ottobre 4/2013 – #33 “Ruler” raglan t-shirt

girl's raglan tee shirt top
This is a size 152, made for my daughter who will be 10 in a couple months. She’s tall and has her mom’s gorilla arms. Poor kid.

I added length to the sleeves and body. The arms seem a bit snug, though they don’t look it in the Ottobre photo, so I’m not sure what that’s about.

If you’re playing the stash game, this one was worth 3/4 yd fabric + one notion point (size tag), so 7pts. And that brings my total for the month to a whopping 12.33 for the month. Look out stash gamers!

Happy Sewing!

Stash Game – Week Two Standings

We’re halfway through the month! Hope everyone is sewing merrily along. It was another close week, just 3 points separated the 10th and 11th place!

Week Two Top Ten point scorers:


Excellent work, ladies!

Just like the last two weeks, week three is a new week for weekly totals, so don’t be discouraged if you didn’t make the top 10 this week. :)

And for those following along with me, last time I checked in, I was at -22.667.
Ruffle Doll Skirt = 1 ruffle scrap + 1 waistband scrap = 2pts * 3 skirts = 6pts
Crib Skirt = .75 yds zigzag fabric + 1.5 yds top fabric = 2.25yds * 8pts/yd = 18 pts
Pillow cover = .5yd * 8 pts/yd = 4pts (I’ll show you this one soon, but it’s not very exciting, so don’t get your hopes up.)

Hooray! I’m at +5.33pts month-to-date! Do a little happy dance with me, I’m not in the negative!

Just keep sewing, just keep sewing…

Not So Quick Zig Zag Crib Skirt Tutorial

I went down to my sister’s to visit her family and meet my new nephew. While I was there, she mentioned that she had made curtains for the nursery with curtain clips and hem tape. She thought maybe she could use the hem tape to make a crib skirt as well. I did not think that sounded like a very good idea.

While I was there, I took a couple quick measurements.
The crib base is 51″ x 29″ and we decided the skirt should have a finished length of 8″.
crib skirt measurement notes

Since the crib has a changing table on one end, only two sides will be skirted.

I’m using this fabric from for the skirt.
Zig Zag Fabric

For the top, I’m using a white broadcloth. The top piece should be cut at 51 7/8″ x 29 7/8″
51″ for the length of the crib base + 3/8″ for the seam with the skirt on the left + 1/2″ for the hem on the right = 51 7/8″
29″ for the width of the crib base + 3/8″ for the seam with the skirt on the front + 1/2″ for the hem on the back = 29 7/8″
There’s also a very good chance I just cut this 52″x30″ and called it good. :)

Skirt measurements:
The width of the box pleat depends on the width of the zigzags. This is also a matter of personal choice. In this case, I went with a pleat that was the width of a W’s worth of zigzags.
Measuring, that’s 7.5″, which means we need to add 15″ to the skirt width to account for the fabric that’s going to be folded over to make the pleat.
Measuring the Pleat Width

Figuring out the width
Figuring out the height
Not too bad, right? So the skirt fabric on the left (short) side will need to be 45″ x 8 7/8″

Following the same formula, the front skirt fabric will need to be 67″ x 8 7/8″. This means the front skirt fabric piece needs to be longer than the width of the fabric, so it will be necessary to seam it and hide the seam in the pleat.

I’m going to deal with the short side skirt fabric first because it is simpler.
First, I know I want a half inch hem, and I want to have the blue points at the bottom of the hem. I need to straighten out the last cut line on this fabric, so I find the closest row of zigzags that still have half an inch past them on the fabric.
Zig Zag Fabric Cutting

There, that’s better!
Zig Zag Fabric Cutting 2

Now that I have a straight line, I need to cut the width to 8 7/8″. I don’t cut the length yet, because I need to make sure the pleat will end up in the center. And I want the zigzag to match up on a point, so I can’t simply fold the piece in half to place my pleat. (If this were a solid or horizontal stripe, it would be fine to cut the length now.) I find the zigzag that is upward and closest to the middle of this piece and finger press the pleat just to make sure I’m still going to have enough length. Looks good!
Zig Zag Pleat Check

At this point, I’m going to mark my center. Since the piece I need here should be 45″, I need 22.5″ on both sides of that center.
Measuring from center

Hem the short sides. Please use the iron. I’m using my Dritz EZY-Hem to turn up and press a 1/4″ and then folding that under and pressing.
Quarter inch pressing with the EZY-Hem

Fold under and press

Since this is a pretty small hem, I moved my needle over to the right a bit so I can keep more of the fabric under the presser foot and on the feed dogs while I’m stitching.

Not too bad!
Side hem done

Hem the bottom, and if you carefully cut those zigzags so they would have all their points aligned at the bottom, double check to make sure you are hemming the bottom and not the top!

Now that the hems are done, it’s time to put in the pleat. Remember, the iron is your friend. Also, a little spray starch never hurt anyone. (Or at least I don’t think it did. I suppose it’s possible. Please read and follow any and all warning labels just to be safe!)

Pin the pleat in place and then stitch across the top in the seam allowance. This will make it easier to keep everything nice and neat when the skirt is attached to the top.
Pleat pinned in place
Pleat secured

Now repeat all of this for the longer skirt piece that will go in the front. I had to seam this one, so I fretted a lot about where the seam should go. I knew I wanted to hide it in the pleat, but where? In the back layer? In the middle layer? I kept pinning and holding it up trying to guess what would be better. Helenanne, who’s very wise, reminded me that this is for a baby. Anyone seeing it is not there to view the crib skirt, they are there to see my adorable little nephew. I have trouble remembering these things.

A quick tip for matching patterns when seaming:
Place pieces right sides together and hold against a sunny window. Pin together!
Matching patterns
Normally, I’d just seam this by running it through the serger. Since this is going to have a small hem, I use the sewing machine so I can press the seam open and there’s less bulk. I trimmed the seam allowance with my munchy scissors, aka pinking shears.
Seam allowance trimmed

Once the skirt panels are complete, this finishes up quickly.

Attach the short side panel to a short end of the base piece, right sides together, leaving a half inch on what will be the back side for the hem allowance. This leaves about the same amount on the side where the front skirt panel will be attached. It’s about a half inch on either side.
skirt placement on base fabric

Once the short side is attached, line up the long side, leaving about half an inch in the corner that’s shared with the short side. I forgot to take a pic when I laid it out, but this is how it looks when both skirt panels are attached to the base piece.
skirt pieces meet

With the entire piece right side up, press the seams. Pin the side hems of the skirt base.
press and pin

Next, make the corner where the two skirts meet nice and neat.
Place the piece wrong side up, and pull the corner of the base under the skirt seams you just pressed. There should be a little triangle of base fabric there. Press well.
folding under the corner where skirt pieces meet
This will get tacked down with the topstitching and hemming.

Stitch all the way around the rectangle of the base piece – you are putting the hem on the sides without the skirt and topstitching the sides with skirt pieces.

Now my cutting table has a lovely skirt. See the corner where that base bit got folded in a triangle?
zoomed corner of crib skirt
That little space there will make the skirt hang nicely around the corner pieces of the crib.
And that’s it!
finished crib skirt

Happy Sewing!

Stash Game – Week One standings

Stash Game Week One Top Ten banner
The Stash Gamers are off to a great start this month!

Week One Top Ten point scorers:


Remember, week two is a new week for weekly totals, so if you didn’t make the top ten in week one, everyone starts from the same place at week two, which started Sunday. There was just *one point* separating places 10 and 11 this week!

Great work everyone, keep sewing! I’ll be over here continuing to attempt to climb out of my negative 20-something hole… :)

Happy Sewing!

Tutorial: Ruffle Skirt for American Girl or other 18″ dolls


Here’s a tutorial for you today! I had a little bit of ruffle fabric leftover from Zoe’s skirt. I’ve been trying to slowly build up some doll clothes for her birthday this fall. Shhhhhhhh! Don’t tell!
Julie - An American Girl doll modeling our long ruffle skirt
Now that the kids are back in school, it’s much easier to borrow one of Zoe’s dolls. Julie was nice enough to get up from nap to help me out.

This is an easy skirt! You will need:
one piece of cotton/lycra knit 10″ x 1.5″ for the waistband – it should stretch the long way!
waistband - flat
one piece of ruffle fabric, about 16″ x 7″ for a below the knee skirt (shown at the top of this post) or 16″ x 4.5″ for knee length, as shown at the bottom of this post
(this might depend on your fabric, but in my case, it meant either 6 or 4 rows of ruffles)
ruffle fabric
Wonder Tape and your preferred notions for cutting and sewing
Wonder Tape and other sewing tools
Cut your waistband to 10″ x 1.5″
waistband - flat

Fold waistband right sides together so it is 5″x1.5″ when folded. Stitch ends together.
waistband - folded

Fold waistband wrong sides together the short way and mark the quarter points. I just pin them, you could also use your marking pen.
waistband - quartered

Once you have cut your ruffle fabric, use your Wonder Tape to help line up the rows of ruffles. Carefully place it on one side.
skirt with wondertape
Make sure the ruffles on the opposite side are lined up with the edge.
line up opposite side

Then carefully pull the paper off the Wonder Tape. Pick up the side of the fabric with the Wonder Tape on it. Holding it taut, match it to the other side, right sides together. After it is nice and stuck together, flip it over to check that everything is smooth on both sides. Peek inside the fabric tube to make sure all the ruffles stayed the way they were supposed to.
skirt with wondertape folded

Now that it’s nice and stuck together, sew the seam.
skirt seamed

Leave the ruffle fabric right sides together for now. Find the quarter points on the top of the ruffle fabric tube you’ve just created.
skirt quarterpoints

Match up the quarter points on the waistband to the quarter points on the skirt and pin.
skirt and waistband quarters

Sew the skirt and waistband together, stretching the waistband to fit the skirt.
skirt and waistband sewing

short ruffle skirt

Julie - An American Girl doll modeling our short ruffle skirt
That’s it! Julie looks excited about it, doesn’t she? Hopefully Julie can keep a secret. We have to put this away until Zoe’s birthday.

Happy Sewing!

Ottobre 5/2013 has landed

It’s always fun to flip through the latest Ottobre pattern magazine when it arrives. This issue is no exception.
Ottobre Woman Winter 2013

This coat is done up in wool, but I’d like to give it a try in a heavy Polartec fleece.
Ottobre Wool Coat

There are a couple tops that are also extended as dresses. I like this raglan. The fabric choice in the dress gives it a different look, too.
woman's raglan top or dress pattern

There are a couple blouse patterns and some dressy office clothes that I don’t see myself wearing, but they are nice looking if I were in need of such a thing. This wrap dress as cute and not too dressy. I just don’t know where I would wear it!
woman's wrap dress pattern

Did you get this issue? What are you planning to sew?

Happy Sewing!

Stash Game – pajama pants love and a ruffle skirt

Pajama pants are a great way to sew up a fabric stash. My growing-like-weeds-children all need them. Of course, they need pajama tops, too, but pants are quick and easy. I’ve been in need of a quick project that would get me back to sewing again. After finishing 3 pajama pants for Zoe, I cut out a pair for Jack and sewed them up. To celebrate, Zoe and I went to the fabric store. Though we really did practice much restraint, we still ended up with nearly 12 additional yards. So, on Monday my stash game tally looked like this:

Zoe pj pants (qty 3) = 1.25yds + 2 notion points = 12pts * 3 pairs = 36 points
Jack pj pants (qty 1) = 1 yd + 2 notions = 10 points
11.91 yards of fabric purchase = -96 points
Current tally: -50

So, ummm, yeah. But I finished up two more pj pants for Jack!
PJ Pants for Jack

I’ve been using the same Kwik Sew pattern (3275) that I used for Zoe. Jack’s only 7. He’s perfectly happy with pull on elastic pants with no fly. The fact that it’s a girl’s pattern will be our little secret, okay?

I finished this up today, too.

ruffle skirt

Zoe picked out this fabric on Sunday. I bought only what we needed (2/3 yard) and am happy to have it sewn up. I was sort of dreading sewing it because it is thin and wiggly and let’s face it, the thought of matching up those ruffles is intimidating! Fortunately, it went together quickly. I used wonder tape to match the ruffles up before sewing as in Mel’s tute here. It needs a quick run through the wash to get rid of the tape bits before I let Zoe wear it.

So, that sewing helps the stash game tally over here –
Previous Tally: -50
Jack pj pants (qty 2) = 1 yd + 2 notions = 10 points * 2 pairs = 20
Zoe ruffle skirt = 2/3 yd + 1 c/l scrap for waistband + elastic because I didn’t trust the c/l = 7.333
New Tally: -22.667

Well, I’m still in the negative, but hopefully the more serious stash gamers are making better progress. I’m claiming this as a victory because it’s more sewing than I’ve gotten done in a while!

Next up – a crib skirt for my new nephew or tops to go with all these pj pants? Hmmmm…

Happy Sewing!

Kwik Sew 3275 – Girl’s PJ Pants

Happy Day! I started and finished something!
Kwik Sew 3275
These are Kwik Sew 3275 in size 10. I took 2″ off the rise and added 2″ to the inseam, which made them the same length as the size 12.

I used 24.5″ of 1″ non-roll elastic for the waist. The pattern calls for 21″ of 3/4″ elastic. The non-roll seems to be a little less stretchy, and Zoe wears her pants a little lower than her natural waist. 21″ of elastic would not have been comfortable.

Since it was such a wacky day, I even got out my iron and pressed my hems before coverstitching. Check it out!
beautiful pants hem

I’ll subject you to one more closeup just because it looks so pretty! That iron thing really does work.
pants hem

Kwik Sew patterns are some of my favorites for their consistent sizing and ease of use. This is a one piece (cut 2!) pattern, super easy. The pattern also includes a top and both the top and pants are designed for knit fabrics with at least 20% stretch across the grain.

If you are playing Stash Game, this pattern used 1.25 yards of fabric and gets two notion points – elastic and size tags, so 12 points!

But wait, there’s more! I was so excited to actually finish something, and equally pleased to have used up good a chunk of this fabric that has been curing in my stash forever, that I decided to make a second pair.
Kwik Sew 3275

Happy Sewing!

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