Archive of ‘textile’ category

wild boy gets a quilt

if there is anyone in this house that is in danger of taking to the high seas, it is this guy, little J.

so, it is only fitting that his bunk bed quilt is covered in pirates, maps, and ships.  I might as well support his wild ways, as I have no other choice.

the fabric is the latest from sarah jane fabrics, I always like her playful, boyish prints.  they manage to come across as  tough enough that the boys find them fun and I like that the designs are still innocent.  I think our boys are right in that sweet spot when innocence is still possible.

this was one of the few things that were sewn for my family this christmas…between holiday markets and memory quilt commissions I didn’t have much time to sew for family.  but, I squeezed this one in.   it means both boys have semi-matching quilts now, I am a sucker for symmetry, I tell you.

I struggled a lot with pulling this quilt together.  I really wanted it to consist of three prints and three solids including lots of white.  but, I could not for the life of me decide on what the other two solid colors should be and I went back and forth with bright red and yellow and the muted blue and grey that I eventually chose.  I don’t want a quilt to scream at me, I wanted it playful but still calm.  I’m not convinced it was the perfect color choice, still but I’m happy with how it came out.

I did really enjoy the free motion quilting process.  I haven’t done much free motion quilting and I am officially smitten….I hope there is much more in my future.  the stitches on this quilt are not perfect, in fact I see mistakes every time I look at it, BUT it still looks lovely and washes with a great pucker to it.  at the end of the day, free motion quilting is more forgiving…the darning foot just bounces around making it easier to avoid the fabric folding over on itself.  I feel like I don’t have to be so intense about pulling and pinning everything perfectly straight because there is a bit of wiggle room with the bouncing presser foot that just isn’t there with a regular straight stitch foot.  as an added bonus, the end result looks just oh so….well, quilt-y.  I love it.   I will admit it can get quite comical wrestling with the quilt itself while the machine bounces around.  it’s a good thing I work alone.

the boy himself (on the right up there) he isn’t so crazy about this quilt, I will admit.  I mean, he likes it and says he likes it when he’s crawling into bed but opening it on Christmas day wasn’t quite the thrill that came when he opened up the Star Wars lego set.  he was polite and gave me a weak smile but quickly said “are there other gifts for me?”.  the poor plight of the children of mama makers!  sorry kid.


kids clothes week challenge–‘capping’ things off.

the last three days of kcwc moved more slowly, sewing-wise, than the first four did.  I guess I work like that.  the sprint is fun, the marathon…not so much.

but, I did finish off with an hour of sewing today to complete the bucket hats I set out to make.  these are from liesl gibson’s book ‘little things to sew‘.  this was the first thing I made from this very beautiful and inviting book.  I have read that liesl is very precise and exacting and her bucket hat pattern proved the point.  it was clear, concise and made a great little hat but there is no cutting corners…you gotta follow her instructions.  I tried a little cheating only to find I had to backtrack.  I believe that is called being schooled.  once I got the hang of it the hat doesn’t take long to make.

there is some hand stitching involved in this making, which I would normally shy away from but in this case it was necessary and even helpful.

the fabric is a japanese linen-cotton blend, some heather ross guitars and chino, from purl soho…an indulgent purchase that I knew the boys would love.

the lining is a nice linen-cotton blend that used to be a pair of my husband’s shorts until the nice linen-cotton ripped apart from over-wear.  I love it when that happens!

the boys do like their hats, even big C.  in fact, he put on this button-down shirt and said “do you want to take a cute picture of me now?” and then he did this pose.  I guess he has got my number.

spotty table runner

I have my preferences…I like linen, I like red and teal together, I like a touch of modern embroidery, and I like spots.  I’m sticking to it.  it’s working for me.  that is why I am not feeling shy about proudly displaying our new table runner.  I love it.  this is a little embarrassing but I sometimes walk by the dining room and just smile at it…as if it were a very well-behaved and cute child.  I am indeed in love. did I mention that?

as soon as I saw the pillow case in this book by the amazing ellen luckett baker I knew that I wanted to use the reverse applique technique for a table runner.  I love the way the right runner makes a table look pretty and inviting.

but that is enough gushing.  time to get down to brass tacks.

to make this I cut a strip of linen 17″ wide and just long enough that about three inches hang over both ends of the table.  then I cut circles out of card stock in two different sizes and used them to decide where I wanted to place the circles.  once I had the paper circles in locations that I liked, I traced around them onto the linen with a marking tool.  next I prepared the patterned fabric by cutting circles out of them using a fabric circle cutter being sure to cut my fabric circles 1.5″ larger than their respective paper circles.

with careful placement and using fusible hemming tape I ironed the fabric circles onto the wrong side of the linen (translation: it took me forever to get the circles secured in the right position).  because I had already drawn with a marking tool around the card stock I was able to machine sew along the lines I had drawn to complete the circles and really secure them in place.  of course, at this point, all I had was a strip of linen with sewn circles on it, I couldn’t see the patterned fabric.  so, using my sharp little ‘could never live without you’ scissors I cut the linen inside of my sewn circles without cutting the patterned fabric.  and voila, the patterned fabric pops out! next, I simply used embroidery floss to make even little stitches around every circle.  once that was done all I had to do was sew a muslin fabric on the back.

the patterned fabric I used was almost entirely vintage…some from vintage sheets (the dark navy and the blue and gold flowers).  but, the most special fabric in this runner is just peeking out of the corner in the picture above.  it came to me as a gift from my lovely aunt who appreciates both beautiful things as well as the way that things hold onto history and memory.  the fabric is actual flour sack fabric from the flour mill owned by her husband’s family, my awesome uncle.  starting in the great depression all the way to the 50s flour would come in printed fabric that was then reused to make everything from clothes and wash towels.  flour mills apparently printed lots of different patterns to encourage people to buy lots of flour.  to have the real thing and with a family connection is a real treat! I was so touched to receive it (really, I am just lucky my aunt doesn’t have any girls!).

I’ve been holding onto this fabric for a long time, afraid to chop it up but this seemed like the right project for it.  it was a flour mill in rural Minnesota so it’s got a bit of me in it.  seemed a good thing to have at my table, right? right.

and, by now it has hosted many of our meals but the first one was this tomato salad (chopped up with basil, garlic and olive oil) from our abundant garden.

the bravery of a bunk bed and a quilt to prove it

our oldest, C, is a naturally cautious and apprehensive child…he hates all bad guys and generally spends lots of time considering before he is ready to dive in and give things a try.  we have learned that the best way to be helpful is to give him his time, explain things a lot and take it slow.

and that is why I was slow to respond when he insisted he wanted a bunk bed.  and, by slow to respond I mean I did nothing until he asked again and then again.  I honestly assumed he didn’t really know what a bunk bed was.  finally, one weekend while on an unrelated errand, we popped into a store and showed him the bunk beds. we honestly expected he would realize that the top of a bunk bed was pretty high up there and decide he didn’t want one.

it just goes to show what we know because he was even more excited once he saw them.   given that his increasingly-long body was practically spilling out of his toddler bed we decided –what the heck…let’s indulge him and ‘hey, maybe they will even share a room and we can move some toys out of our living room and into the empty bedroom’.  and, that is when we went to ikea and got the perfect bunk bed.  and even after all that, when the bed was up and ready I still expected him to decide he wasn’t ready to sleep in the top bunk.  of course, he loves it and hasn’t looked back since we got it all together.

{these two don’t share a bed or even a room (yet), it is just impossible for a photo shoot to involve only one person. }

it took a little while for the whole thing to come together, though, because we ordered a healthy eco-friendly mattress from here and they are made to order.  so, in the meantime, I decided to make a quilt because I was still under the impression that he was going to need some encouraging. (I know! in retrospect it is pretty clear that I can be a bit dense sometimes).

I made a bigger version of the simple quilt from amy karol’s book bend the rules sewing and picked two prints from the sarah jane children at play collection, which is chock full of playful and adorably child-friendly prints. in addition to a white fabric, I also threw in a denyse schmidt print and used shot cotton in two different blues for a denim look with a soft hand.  I am a big fan of shot cotton, which is made by weaving together two different colors—one in the weft and one in the warp–giving a bit of depth and dimension to what would otherwise be a plain solid.  (this post at make it perfect goes more into shot cottons if you are interested.)

but the big exciting thing about this quilt is that it is my first free motion quilt!  I have done small potholders in free motion but never a full-sized quilt.  and, there is no doubt about it, I am in love.  free motion quilting involves using a free motion quilting foot, dropping the feed dogs and essentially drawing on the quilt.  it’s more forgiving in the sense that fabric doesn’t get ‘bunched up’ as easily because the foot is essentially bouncing around on top of the quilt.  it is, however, less forgiving in some ways because you have to keep the quilt moving without quilting yourself into a corner or accidentally making some wacky stitches.  this quilt has plenty of wacky stitches but no more than I would expect for a first try.  and, I can’t wait to give it another try with free motion quilting.

see how some of the curves are less than smooth? those would be the wacky stitches. 

that stuff I said earlier about our home having too many quilts was a lie.  a big lie.  our home needs many more quilts, it needs quilt everywhere. it really does.

below is the full front and back view:


inspiration :: friday & saturday

~a week-long highlight of bits and pieces of inspiration.~

I will confess that I got utterly and truly sucked into the Olympic opening ceremony and forgot to post an inspiration on friday. but, that is understandable, right? I mean that was some beautifully bizarre display.  I was gobsmacked.

but, moving on.  it’s fabric that I’m admiring now.  and, not just any fabric but the luscious liberty of london.  I resisted for a long time, years really.  but, a christmas gift card finally convinced me to splurge and take some home.  the rumors are true, it really is as soft and amazing as they say.  it’s light but with the right amount of heft and it drapes with grace. I’m not exaggerating. it feels like a sewing rite of passage.  I’m not sure what to make with it yet but that doesn’t stop me from pulling it out and touching it a lot.  it’s inspiration to strive for something good and stretch my skills.  that alone might make it worth the cost.

yes, I bought two of the same pattern in different colorways.  I really like it. and, it looks awfully nice with a linen chambray doesn’t it?

what’s inspiring you? leave a link in the comments if you want to share.

the great pillow sham

I went to this strange warehouse sale a few years ago…in a classic New Jersey style of strange…a warehouse down the road a bit was going out of business and selling all manner of sheets and other fabric items.  I went in determined to find Great! Fantastic! Cheap! things to repurpose for quilts and other things.  well it was mostly a bust and in my desperation to have the sale be everything I wanted it to be I purchased two really not-cute pillow shams.  they only seemed cute because I had on my ‘desperation blinders’ and they were surrounded by so many unappealing items.  well, sadly, we have been using them ever since.

but no more!  desperation blinders are off! I finally made replacements and I have to say I don’t know what took me so long.  I used the lotta jansdotter choma fabric from her current line (she has another amazing group of fabrics coming out soon, bella.  they look like they are going to be great.)

I really like this fabric and sometimes when I really like a  fabric it makes me reluctant to use it, which sounds contradictory.  it’s just that I get kind of tangled up in the feeling that whatever I make needs to be amazing and perfect because the fabric is so awesome.  and that kind of pressure is too much so I back off and use a fabric I don’t like as much instead.  it’s a good thing I just wrote that down because it’s helping me realizing how super stupid this approach is!

{man, I am battling demons all over the place with this project.}

to make these pillow shams I sandwiched quilt batting in between this fabric and a backing fabric.  then, I sewed simple straight lines, with white thread in-between the yellow and grey tones.  for the back I made an envelope closure and sewed the two pieces together.

the fabric is so dramatic (that is another reason I had a hard time figuring what to do with it) but it’s drama is a great accent to our duvet.  they have honestly brightened up the whole room. even my husband who is normally VERY against the whole extra-pillows-on-the-bed thing was impressed with how nicely they bring the bedroom together.

now my goal is to spend more than six hours a day resting next to them.

summer sewing project :: the dresses

there has been some making and there has been some smocking. this first dress is made with the shards fabric from Cloud 9 fabrics…it’s a part of their affordable organic line.  I have been so impressed with the beautiful fabric coming out of this small fabric company and all of it is organic.

the pattern for this dress is my own using an adaptation of the dress pattern in the Cal Patch book “Design Your Own Clothes”.     I started with a muslin following her instructions.  she uses a side zipper and my muslin came out too loose and maternity-looking. so, when I made the ‘real’ dress I adapted the back of the dress by using elastic thread to add smocking.  it actually made construction easier and the fit better. yay!!


this is a close up of the smocked section.  the elastic thread (in the bobbin only) makes smocking so easy and it looks so good and professional. as excited as I am about the smocking and my clever adaptations, I’ll admit I’m not wild about this dress.  it just isn’t very exciting and the neckline came out a bit conservative.

so I moved onto a the next one! this dress is so simple to construct!  to make the pattern I mixed things I learned from Cal Patch and a pattern in the Heather Ross book Weekend Sewing.  the back and front pieces are the same pattern and then it’s just straps…that is it for cutting.  the top of the dress is smocked, again with elastic thread in the bobbin. then topstitch the top, adding in the straps and then just hem! and done!


here is a close up of the smocking.  yes, I voluntarily took a close up photo of my chest. the sewing has obviously gone to my head.

want to know one of the best things about this dress? the fabric is vintage and was in the collection I got from my grandma! isn’t that awesome! it’s got these fantastic peacocks dancing all over it. I can’t wait to wear it this summer and give it new life.

lucky day

 as a fabric lover and sewing teacher there is always a small part of me that is oh-so-tempted to design my own fabric. to get it just right, ya know?

so when I saw this book from the people behind one of my favorite textile blogs True Up, I knew I wanted it.  but, I played it a little too cool and it wasn’t in my stocking on Christmas morning…darn that Santa! so, you can only imagine how excited I was to find out that I won it from Christina at A Few Scraps.  and, it is just as fabulous as I imagined it was going to be. it includes great coverage on different fabric types in general and thorough, thorough discussion on the different ways to make your own fabric from stamp-making to screen printing to digital printing.  it’s very inspiring.


and, because Christina is just plain awesome she even threw in a fat quarter of the first fabric she designed.  it’s called ‘selvedge on steroids’, she made it on spoonflower, which is one of the digital fabric printing studios.  (one warning: it is incredible and if you click on the link and head over the spoonflower, I cannot be responsible for the many lost, happy hours that may result.)  isn’t the fabric perfect!! especially given how much time I spend discussing selvedge! now…the find the perfect thing to make with it!

1 12 13 14 15

%d bloggers like this: