A Swap Package—More Divided Baskets



This is the first swap I’ve participated in for quite some time.  I’ve been working more on my own things lately and spending less time online.  Also, it seems like most swappers are using Instagram now instead of Flickr, and I haven’t jumped into that yet.  Perhaps I should move with the times.


Anyhow, one of the things my partner mentioned was a divided basket and Heather Ross fabric.  Who doesn’t like Heather Ross?  Her illustrations are about as adorable as it gets.  So, I was feeling inspired and cut into some of my stash for this swap.  I couldn’t decide which basket to send, so I sent them both.


I thought the pigs might look a little to baby-ish, but I think my partner liked them better than the other basket.  The second basket is my personal favorite.  For one, it’s nice and sturdy with super heavy weight interfacing.  It was a bear to sew up, but I loved the end result. I’m also really still into the low volume look that I used on the back, so I was kind of tempted to keep this one for myself—I resisted, though!


For a small item, I also sent the little pouch I made as a pattern tester.  I think it’s a cutie, too, with the vintage quilt block and linen fabric.  You can buy the pattern here.

Jodi’s Divided Basket


This is the birthday present I made for my good friend, Jodi.  She likes to sew herself, and I’ve been having fun with Noodlehead’s Divided Basket pattern lately.  I bought it a while ago but had never sewn it up.  They are addicting, though, once you start.  I think they would make great baby gifts, too.


Anyway, Jodi loves sewing and buttons, in particular, and I had some of this fabric left floating around.  I even had matching buttons for an accent.  The fabric and buttons originally came from Stampin’ Up!, which is an odd source for fabric, but I love the coordination.

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This was my first divided basket, and unfortunately, there is a learning curve with which interfacing weight works best, and I think this one came out too floppy for my tastes.  I think it will do better once it’s loaded up, but I prefer the sturdier interfacing that I’ve used in subsequent baskets.

Laura’s Birthday Gift


My best friend, Laura, has an early January birthday, and if I don’t shop for that along with Christmas, I’m always late.  I had something sent to her in late December, but it was only a partial gift, and I wanted to make something to go along with it.


Since I had such a crazy sewing experience for the holidays, I didn’t get around to this until after her birthday.  I didn’t have anything in particular to make, so I made some scrappy dish towels in her kitchen colors, and this cute zip pouch.


I knew she really liked this red fabric, and the size of the illustration was just perfect for Noodlehead’s large open-wide pouch.  This was my first time using that pattern, and I loved it.  I’ll definitely be making more.  I do love that it opens totally up, as the name suggests.  It’s so much easier than digging around for lost items inside normal pouches.


I added some yellow hand stitching to match the zipper.  I love how the outside turned out.  If I had planned the yellow parts before I had cut my lining, I probably would have chosen something yellow, but I was doing some late night sewing after my kids were in bed, and my brain doesn’t always function at optimum level at that point!

Christmas Pillows for Teacher Gifts


Over the summer this year, I made nine Christmas tree pillows.  You can find the pattern/tutorial at From the Blue Chair.  I always give teacher gifts to my son’s Sunday school teachers at church, and I knew he would have a teacher or two at his preschool who I would give a gift to as well.


I wanted to be sure I had them done in time for them to use them this year, so I was sewing trees in July!  It worked well, and I only finished the hand stitching on the bindings in early fall.  It was nice not to be so rushed during the holidays. 


In the end, I only gave them to my sons’ teachers at church.  At the preschool where my oldest goes, there is a no-gift policy.  He goes to a speech program at the local university, and the grad students and professors aren’t allowed to accept gifts.  Honestly, that worked out well since I ended up needing more than I thought I would for the teachers at church.  There are several in each of my boys’ classes.  I also kept one for myself.


For the backs, I used various cuts of Christmas fabric that I had in my stash.  I only made one with the scooters for a special teacher with a quirky style!  I knew she would appreciate the scooters. 


I usually like to make zipper backs, but in an effort to keep costs and labor down since I was making nine, I made envelope backs instead.  I bought the pillow forms from Ikea—I think it’s an awesome place for cheap inserts.  I think these were $3 each.  They also have down/feather filled inserts for $13.  I’ve bought a few of those for my own use, and I love how the plump up so nicely.


Anyhow, I wrapped all these up and delivered them not long after Thanksgiving.  I used my stash for these, so there wasn’t a lot of up-front cost for me.  The bags were surprisingly a more expensive part.  Since the pillows were so large and I had so many, I really had to shop around.  I found these at Joann’s with a sale for around $2.50, and that was the cheapest I could find.  It’s hard to calculate cost from stash, but I do think I ended up spending more money (and effort) on these teacher gifts than I usually do.  However, since they went to ladies at my church who I know well, I was very happy to do it.  They put in a lot of effort with their lessons, and I’m so appreciative!


This post is obviously long overdue, but I was sewing madly to finish Christmas gifts this year, and blogging wasn’t in the schedule these past couple of months.  I finished two quilts for my parents plus one for my boys, and I was literally sewing until the last minute—as in 3 am on Christmas day.  That’s something I never hope to repeat!  More on that later.

Pattern Testing—Two in One Pouch

Recently I was a pattern tester for Svetlana’s (at SOTAK handmade) new Two in One Pouch.  To be honest, I volunteered mostly because I got a free pattern (yea!).  However, I’ve been wanting to start writing patterns myself sometime, and I thought this would be good experience.  Here’s the finished product:



When I first saw the pattern, I immediately thought of Dave Ramsey’s cash envelopes.  There are only two pockets, but I still think you could use it for that purpose if you added dividers with labels inside the pockets.  However, the fabric I ended up choosing lent itself well to something else, so I just went with it. 

Svetlana needed my notes on a rather quick turnaround, and as luck would have it, a stomach bug and cold virus tore through our family just as I got the pattern.  That put sewing projects to the side for a bit.  Still, I wanted to do something a little more interesting than just fabric panels, so I grabbed these little vintage quilt blocks someone had given me (I still have two more) and decided to include them.  They’re hand sewn, which no one will ever know, but I still think it’s kinda cool! Having these already made gave my pouch some interest while still helping me finish it quickly.

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I decided I would send this to my partner in the Sew Sew Modern 6 swap, and I liked this fabric for the lining—it has the word “sew” written repeatedly.  I did my best to copy the same style of writing for the front embroidery, added some hand stitching on the linen parts, and chose one of my favorite novelty prints for the lining.  I just love those glasses—so cute!


I had very few recommendations for Svetlana—she did a great job writing the pattern, and it was very easy to follow, even with my two little guys constantly interrupting me.  If you’re interested in purchasing her pattern, you can do so here.

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A shout-out to Fabric.com’s customer service

Can I just say, WOW?!

I placed a fairly large order with fabric.com on Sunday.  A few of the items were time sensitive since I need some special fabrics for a baby quilt (and the baby shower is in a week—I plan ahead like that). 

Anyway, their shipping is usually quite fast, and I even checked the order fulfillment time before I placed the order.  I waited all week watching my email for a shipping notice (I get excited for new fabric).  It never came.  Finally I called customer service on Thursday afternoon to find out when it would be shipped.  I thought I might have to come up with a backup plan for my project.

The CS representative said she had no idea why my order hadn’t shipped and told me they would overnight it to me and that she’d send it over to their warehouse right away.  At best I’d get it Friday, but if they couldn’t get it shipped in time (I called later in the day), then I’d get it Monday.  I got my order this morning (Friday).

Honestly, I’m just so impressed.  I didn’t ask for expedited shipping, and I wasn’t even all that upset about the situation.  I never would have expected them to do that.  They get most of my online business anyway, but I’m more inclined to shop there now than I ever was.  My husband was so impressed that he actually told me I should shop there more often—Uh, okay!!

To top it off, one of my half yard cuts had this on it:


My half yard was almost a full yard.  Nothing much more exciting than that for a quilter!  Way to go fabric.com.  You made this lady very happy today.

Modern She Made Swap Package


This swap was all about hexagons—WAY out of my comfort zone!  For whatever reason, I never jumped on the hexie trend.  I had seen a little English Paper Piecing with hexies at a quilt shop, but I didn’t see the process start to finish and didn’t think I’d have the patience, so I just never looked into it further.  To participate in this swap (which I love!), you had to use hexagons somewhere in the project—ugh.  I signed up anyway, procrastinated for a couple weeks, and finally dove in.


I LOVE hexies.  After watching Ellison Lane’s video tutorial, I gave it a shot, and it was much easier than I expected.  I did not sew the individual hexies together since my partner prefers them with white space between, but I could definitely see myself making an entire quilt top out of hexies at some point.  I’m a big fan of hand stitching, and it’s nice to have portable sewing to bring when I’m going to have to sit in a waiting room, ride on a long car ride, or go on vacation where I can’t bring my sewing machine.  EPP is definitely a good fit for me, so I’m really glad I pushed myself by joining this swap.


I used up the extra hexies on the back and made a larger flap out of them to hide the zipper.  The only thing I’m not happy with on this pillow is the crooked dot fabric on the back—ugh.  I could NOT get it to line up right but didn’t notice how wonky it made the back of the pillow look until I was taking this picture.  Hopefully my partner won’t notice or mind, and I’m glad, at least, that it’s on the back.  


My partner also mentioned a Sew Together Bag—she mentioned it in her large item section, but I made it for her as her small item.  I’ve made several of these, so they come together pretty quickly for me anymore.  I have yet to make myself one, though!  Maybe I’ll get to that this week.


For the outside I decided to do a quilt-as-you-go method in my partner’s favorite colors.  It was a good opportunity to pull from my scrap bins, and I like overall look.  I especially think it’s appropriate for a quilting/sewing bag to be all piecey and scrappy.  For the inside I used some text fabric.  My partner said she liked text, and this has quilting and sewing words, so I also thought that was appropriate.

I can’t wait for my partner to receive her package—I’ll add a few little sewing/quilting goodies and send it on its way soon.  I always love the sending/receiving time of the swap.  It’s so much fun to see what everyone gets and wait to get your own package in the mail.

Potholders—Handmade Teacher Gifts


My son recently moved up to the next age group in his Bible class at church.  I always try to give a goodbye gift to my kids’ teachers when they leave their class.  It takes so much effort to plan and teach classes at church, and I’m so grateful for their efforts throughout the year!

In the toddler/twos class, there are four teachers (they need all the help they can get!), so I made four sets of potholders and added in some hand lotion as well.


I used a partial charm pack of Moda’s Domestic Bliss.  I just loved this fabric line.  I used a few squares on a Sew Together Bag I made for a swap, but I had the rest of the charm pack, as well as some yardage I picked up on clearance, still sitting on my shelf.

I had just the right amount of charm squares left, so that combined with a little yardage, was all I needed.  I used a bit of a different method than I usually do for potholders.  Since I had so many to make in such a short time, I decided to try sewing them right sides together and turning and topstitching instead of binding as I normally would.  It was faster, but I’m not sure I like the look quite as well.


I also skipped the insul-brite insulated layer and just added an extra layer of batting.  I’m not sure I like the crinkly sound it makes when you use the hot pads.  I’ve been using an extra set of these that I made, and they seem to work just fine without the insulated layer, and they’re not as stiff, so they’re easier to use.  I’ll probably skip the insul-brite from now on.

A Straight Line Quilting Disaster


I posted recently about the baby quilt I made for my nephew and how I ended up having to rip out the entire baby quilt’s worth of organic straight line quilting—not fun, in case you were wondering.

I had a really hard time deciding how to quilt this because it’s all straight lines and right angles, but the seams are all over the place, so there’s no real pattern to follow.  I thought straight lines would look best, but I was worried I couldn’t keep it straight enough, so I decided to go the wavy route to save myself some headache (at least, that was my plan).

I googled a bit and read of other quilters’ woes with straight line quilting and thought I figured out how to avoid it—I spray basted heavily, used a walking foot, gave myself plenty of extra fabric on the edges—you know, set myself up for success.  Here was the result:



As you can see, things didn’t go exactly to plan.  Here’s where I went wrong and what I would change (if I’m ever brave enough to attempt something like this again:

1.  Press the top well and baste that quilt to within an inch of its life.  I did spray baste heavily, but i would spray even more heavily if I were to do this again.

2.  Reduce pressure on your presser foot.  I believe my machine is adjustable, but since I’ve only had it a couple months, I don’t know it very well, and I couldn’t figure it out.  In retrospect, it might have helped to consult the manual (ha!).  However, it was late at night, I was rushing to finish (always a mistake), and I was already halfway through anyway.

I think the pressure here was the biggest key to my problems.  My walking foot has so much pressure that it even leaves little teeth marks on the bottom of the fabric.  If I could reduce it significantly, I think it would reduce puckering by at least 50%.  If I could significantly reduce it, some slight puckering might be disguised after a good washing and drying.

3.  Use the free motion foot to straight line quilt.  This is a rather novel idea I read about on Crazy Mom Quilts when looking for her other post.  I haven’t tried it, but I think I will if I ever decide I just have to have “straight” lines on a quilt.

Interestingly enough, I have another quilt just like this made from different colors, and i have yet to quilt it.  I’m still pondering whether I want to give this a try again or just chicken out and hand quilt it like I did this one.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

ONe Way to Mend Kids’ Pants


I have two little boys, and fortunately, I got lots of hand-me-downs from a friend.  I’ve noticed, however, that pants seem to be somewhat elusive.  I always end up with plenty of shirts from other people or from shopping sales, but pants are always in short supply.  I’m not sure if it’s because they’re less exciting to buy or if kids just wear them out faster.  Either way, I always try to stock up on pants, especially jeans, at yard sales.

I happened to luck into a bunch of ripped jeans at a yard sale last summer.  They were priced at 25 or 50 cents each, and I chose a couple of good brands, planning to patch them with monster faces or something cute that I had seen on pinterest.  When I went up to pay, the lady told me I could have any of the other ripped pants I wanted for FREE—um, hello—free kids’ pants?  YES, please.  I grabbed three or four pairs in each size she had (and I left over half of what she had—she has a house full of boys, too).  I’ve had them stashed in my mending pile since the summer since my son wasn’t into those sizes yet.  Thanks to a growth spurt, I had to tackle some mending this month.

I looked at the cute monster faces and decided it would take too long, so I gathered some cute boy fabrics I had and chose to mend it the faster way.   However, I think they turned out just as cute.  Here’s how I did it:


First, gather supplies:

  • some cute prints—my favorite here are the little wiener dogs, but any cute prints you like will work
  • some iron-on mending fabric
  • equipment: pins, iron, sewing machine, etc.

I chose to mend these pants in an assembly line fashion, so I first ironed the patches on everything, then ironed the edges of my fabric patches, and then sewed them all on.   In the interests of you learning from my mistakes, I first tried to zig zag stitch the rips, but it didn’t work out well, and I really think the iron-on patches make everything so much more stable.  The fabric overlay is really just for looks.  The iron-on patches do all the heavy lifting of holding the rip together.

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Cut a piece of iron-on patch fabric big enough to cover the rip.  I try to go past the edges by at least 1/4”.

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Next iron the edges of your fabric so there’s a nice clean edge once it’s stitched down.  After that, I pinned very well to prevent shifting.  Children’s pants are very small, so it’s difficult to maneuver it around the sewing machine.  For this project, I had to use my old machine because my new quilting machine doesn’t have a free arm.  Space was so tight that I had to sew in reverse on a couple sides of the patch—just do the best you can to get all the way around the patch.

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Clip your threads on the back when you’re finished (I noticed a tension problem on my machine AFTER I had sewn the patches—they’re still secure, though, so I’m not going to worry about it).  Other than maneuvering such a small pant leg around your machine, this is a pretty straightforward project.


At first I had planned for these to be for play only.  However, my son likes them so much that I’ve been letting him wear them wherever he wants.  Besides, I honestly think they’re cuter than plain jeans anyway!


These will work for boys or girls, I think, depending on the fabrics chosen.  I could even see myself doing some cute flower embroidery on girls’ patches….if I’m blessed enough to have a little girl in my future sometime.    I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled at yard sales from now on for cheap jeans!