January 14, 2014

Little House Ornaments

I made this little house thanks to Sew Can She, which offers free daily tutorials delivered via email.  This one comes from Retro Mama and originally appeared here.  (That's where you can find the instructions, too.)

I made this first little house to send along with some fabric mail to my friend Kelly at Stitchy Quilt Stuff.  It turned out so cute that I just had to make, um, five more.

They were a lifesaver for all the ornament exchanges I found myself involved in for Christmas, but they'd also be cute decorations to have out all year long.  It was fun to dig through fabric scraps - even those tiny scraps that are good for pretty much nothing but that I can't seem to toss in the trash - and create the different combinations.

January 12, 2014

Sewing This and That

After a few recent quilt finishes, I've been enjoying the freedom that comes with small projects.

Puppy dog embroidery -- I found this embroidery on Pinterest, but I have no idea of the original source.  Luckily, it's simple enough to do without any instructions, so I just started stitching.  I tried the bottom two pups first.

I printed out the photo, taped it to my living room window, and traced each design onto a scrap of fabric using a water-soluble marking pen.  I stitched each one in a 4-inch hoop.  I'm not especially skilled at embroidery, but I can handle the basics -- backstitch to outline the dogs, (messy) satin stitch for the eyes and noses, and a split stitch to make the bottom line stand out a bit.  (Wild Olive has a great series of tutorial posts on embroidery basics here.)

After I finished stitching, I took the pieces out of the hoops and spritzed them with water to erase the marking pen lines.  I used some inexpensive craft paint to paint the hoops navy blue, and I sealed that with a matte spray sealant (next time I'll use a glossy version).  I cut white wool felt to glue to the back of each hoop to cover the unsightly knots and stitches (and forgot to take a picture).  A little piece of ribbon made the hoops easy to hang.  I sent these to my friend Anne along with the quilt I made for her new baby boy.

Baby bibs -- I've lost count of how many baby bibs I've made over the last few years, but it's a lot.  It was time to replenish my stash, and I found this great rocketship flannel (Joann's) that pairs so well with some lime green terry I had on hand.  (Check out more bibs here, here, and here.)

Memory game -- Last up is another memory game for my little friend Anna who recently turned 4.  I think this is my 4th game, but again, I've lost track.  This one definitely comes in my favorite drawstring bag, though.  It's fabric from Sarah Jane's Out to Sea collection.  Each time I start one of these games, I'm reminded of how many pieces are required and how tedious it really is to put together.  But by the time it's done, I've remembered how cute it is when it's finished, and how much my little friends enjoy playing with it.

Piper's Pink Pillow

Time to catch up on sharing some projects I finished late last year.  First up is this pillow made for my niece's 4th birthday.  The great pink shell fabric is from Patty Young's ModKid collection at Joann's.  The squares on the sides are scraps from other projects.

I considered using plain white for the center, but then I found the red dots in my stash.  They add interest but don't distract from the embroidery.  I stitched around each letter -- very slowly and carefully -- and then added large hand stitches with white perle cotton.

The back is a simple envelope closure in more of the great pink print.

January 1, 2014

DIY Fabric Alphabet Letters

This project for my niece Hannah began with a photo I found on Pinterest.  My "Pinspiration" (as my sister calls it) had a dead link and no original source.  Pinterest has plenty of fabric alphabet photos, and the quality of craftsmanship....well, it varies.

Using this tutorial as my starting point, here's how I made my fabric alphabet -- and how you can make one too.

Tools and materials:
Printed letter templates (see Step 1)
Paper-backed fusible interfacing (I prefer Heat 'n Bond)
Cotton batting
26 assorted fabrics
Pinking shears


1. Print letter templates.  I used font Arial Black 500 point on regular printer paper.  Cut out each letter and set aside.
2. Cut two 7-inch squares from almost every fabric.  Cut two 8-inch squares from one of your fabrics, to accommodate the wider "W."  (Tip: After you cut out your first 7-inch square, test your paper templates on it to make sure it will be big enough for each letter.  Increase the size of the square as needed.)
3. Cut fifty 6.75-inch squares from the fusible interfacing. Cut two 7.75-inch squares of interfacing for the wide "W."  (Adjust the size of your interfacing squares to match any adjustments you made to the fabric squares.)
4.  Cut 52 squares of batting, larger than the letters.  This is a great opportunity to use batting scraps, particularly strips left over when sandwiching and trimming a quilt prior to quilting.  If you use strips, you don't need to cut them into 52 squares first (see Step 7).
5.  Trace each paper letter template onto a square of interfacing using a pencil.  Flip the letters over and trace them again, so that you have two squares of interfacing for each letter -- one oriented correctly and one reversed.

6.  Fuse the interfacing squares to the wrong side of the fabric squares, following the instructions for the interfacing.  Cut out each fabric letter.

7.  Fuse each letter to a square of batting, and cut it out.  I used batting squares in the first picture, and scrap strip of batting in the second picture.  If you use strips of batting, you can fuse a bunch of letters to one piece and then cut them out with less waste.
Use precut batting squares
Or arrange multiple letters on a strip
8.  Use quilt basting spray to adhere the two sides of the letters together (batting to batting).  Basting the letters minimizes shifting when you stitch around them in the next step.
9.  Stitch around each letter with a straight stitch and 1/4-inch seam allowance.  I used my 1/4-inch foot and switched to my applique foot to handle the internal cutouts on some letters (the A, O, and so on).

10.  Use pinking shears to finish the raw edges, cutting close to but not into your stitching line.
Pinking in progress...
11.  Collect and admire your finished alphabet! I picked up a small plastic bin at the $1 store so that (hopefully) the letters all stay together.


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