The Unkindest Cut

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I despise cutting, just as much as I love sewing.  No hands ever held scissors or rotary cutter with less skill. That’s right–I wrote “hands,” as in both of mine. You see, although I hold my scissors with my left hand, I hold my rotary cutter with my right.  Sure, I can pin the pattern pieces on my fabric, and  I can line up the clear plastic ruler on my cutting mat. It’s  when I wield the cutting implement that something invariably goes wrong.

Like any determined (ok, stubborn) sewist, however, I choose to confront my fears head-on.  Often, I’ll cut out several projects at once, storing them in a drawer for later. This summer, I cut six different aprons, using two patterns you’ve seen here before.

I’ve sewn three so far. First, I tackled the “totally cute” apron above, with a green pocket panel and red ties and hem. Next, I made this fat quarters apron.

Purple Fat Quarters Bib Apron

Purple Fat Quarters Bib Apron

Finally, I’ve made another “totally cute” apron. I love the bold flower print on the pocket!

Bold flower apron

Bold flower apron

With several weeks left in the summer season, I’ve still got three aprons cut out and ready in my drawer.   Maybe I’ll start the red one next.

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Just for Me

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New Pillow

New Pillow

 

In my ever-more-stuffed sewing cabinet, I had some fabric that matched the curtains in my sewing studio.  (And yes, I’d forgotten all about that fabric! It happens.)  I decided it was time to make something just for me.

Although my Ikea chairs are ergonomically designed and very comfortable for the hours I spend at my machines, I thought a couple of small pillows would be a nice way to tie the room together.  Fortunately, I had two 14″ pillow forms already, so I was in business.  I started by cutting out four 15″ squares.  Then, I constructed the covers, left a portion of the bottom seam open, and topstitched to close it.

Finishing the bottom seam

Finishing the bottom seam

 

I’m really pleased with the result, and I only spent an hour making my pillows. If only all my projects were this easy…

My newly-chic sewing space

My newly-chic sewing space

 

 

Special Request

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In my family, everyone’s a critic. Yes, everyone, including my mother.  For someone like me, who dislikes being criticized, well, let’s just say my relatives make life interesting.  A couple of years ago, I made an open patchwork tote bag for my mom out of three different fat quarter prints in bright pink, white and green. She uses it quite a bit, so she asked for a zipper.

Bright Patchwork Bag

Bright Patchwork Bag

 

While I knew I’d have a zipper I could use somewhere in my stash, the fat quarters were long gone. Still, that’s the beauty of patchwork. Just find a coordinating fabric, and you’re golden. No one will know the difference.  The worst part was taking the seam ripper to those first stitches.  So frustrating, having to rip up your work!

 

Rrrriiipp!

Rrrriiipp!

To begin, I had to construct an insert for the bag, so I could attach the zipper. Using a bold pink from my stash, I cut 4 strips of fabric 3″ wide.

A new home for the zipper

A new home for the zipper

Then, I decided to add a pocket for Mom’s cell phone as well.  I measured Kevin’s phone, and then cut a strip of pink fabric twice as long. Basically, I just made an apron pocket, only a little smaller. While the bag was still torn apart, I stitched the contrasting pocket to the lining.

Attaching the cell phone pocket

Attaching the cell phone pocket

 

Finally, after sewing in the zipper, I attached the insert to the bias tape binding, and voila! The bag is cuter and more functional than ever. The zipper and cell phone pocket keep Mom’s belongings secure.  After all, when you make someone a gift, you should be sure it’s exactly what she wants.

The finished bag!

The finished bag!

 

 

 

A Little of This, A Little of That

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I’ve posted this fat quarters apron and this “totally cute” apron, and have made several of each. Last Sunday, I wanted to make a holiday apron. With only four or five fat quarters and about half a yard of red-and-gold dotted cotton, my options were limited–until I combined these two patterns into one apron. Here’s how I did it.

Using Sew4home’s directions  for the apron skirt, I constructed the apron skirt using holiday-themed fat quarters.

French seaming the apron skirt

French seaming the apron skirt

As directed, I added a pocket to the skirt, using the dotted fabric for contrast.

Attaching the pocket

Attaching the pocket

Then, I added a band of the dotted fabric to the bottom, following the the Sewmuch2luv pattern.

Sewing the bottom band into a "burrito"

Sewing the bottom band into a “burrito”


I also used the red for the waistband and ties, which I adapted from the Sew4home pattern.  I cut those pieces 4 inches wide, and then attached them on either side like a traditional apron.  Turning the apron ties with a dowel, as shown in the Sewmuch2luv pattern, is a real time saver.

Using a dowel to turn the apron ties

Using a dowel to turn the apron ties

These fabrics were so colorful, I kept embellishments to a minimum. The rickrack trim from Sew4home made a nice touch, and I used red so it would blend. Green or black would have worked, too. My apron will be a hostess gift. I may have just enough fabric left for one more, I believe. Although it appears labor-intensive, this was a quick project. Frankly, it would have been even quicker if I’d serged the skirt instead of using French seams. Since I’m picky about how I finish my work, I have no regrets.

Hope this inspires you to do some quick December sewing. Happy holidays!

Holiday Apron

Holiday Apron

The Accidental Sewist

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Maybe you’ve pricked yourself with a pin, or even caught your finger in your sewing machine.   Needles and scissors are sharp.  Sewing can be hazardous.

And yes, I would know. Several weeks ago, I wound up in the emergency room after an unfortunate incident with a rotary cutter.  Four stitches! Ouch! So my hubby ordered me this mesh glove online, and now I use it religiously (mostly  because I can’t stand the sight of blood–especially  my own).  I believe it’s intended to be used by people who cut leather and fabric for a living. Thankfully, it also works for those of us who are careless with everyday objects.  Let’s be careful out there!

Mesh glove

Mesh glove

Trick or Treat, Chapter 2

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Zack's Trick or Treat Bag!

Zack’s Trick or Treat Bag!

When it comes to families, we all know the more things change, the more they stay the same.  So it is with my sister Jackie’s family. Two years ago, after her daughter Samantha was born, I made trick or treat bags for Sammie and her big brother Jake.  Then last September, Zack arrived! Hooray! (Poor Sammie, stuck inbetween two stinky brothers…But I digress.)

Of course, I couldn’t leave little Zack out. Now that he’s walking, he’ll probably dress up for Halloween, even if he won’t really understand what’s going on. But how do you find a fabric you bought two years ago? Well, you don’t.  What you do is, you scour your fabric cabinet for any small remnants from the original bags, and then you get lucky finding fat quarters on sale. So I was able to whip up a third bag that’s not exactly like the other two, but close enough.

Again, I began with the applique of Zack’s name on the bag’s top panel.

Applique

Applique

Then, i finished it using the same pattern as before. It’s very cute, if I do say so myself. Sadly, my success led to a new problem–how could I send a box to these three little ruffians–er, three little angels–without including something for Jake and Sammie, too?  (Sibling rivalry rears its ugly head enough in that house already.)

Jake, Zack, and Sammie

Jake, Zack, and Sammie

Back to the fabric cabinet for me.  (While it doesn’t exactly deliver fantasies on par with The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, it never disappoints.)  On one of Jackie’s visits (and she was last here two years ago!) we found a remnant of some Patriots fleece–their daddy Dave’s favorite team, coincidentally. It was just enough to make a throw big enough for a four-year-old. I’ve never made a fleece tie blanket, but thanks to the miracle of Google, tutorials are even easier to find than than it was to make the blanket.

Jake's Patriot Blanket

Jake’s Patriot Blanket

Now it was two down, one to go. In the cabinet, I found some fabric my mom gave me last summer.  The very cute white and aqua polka dot cotton would be just perfect for a pillowcase dress.  Again, there are many tutorials out there. The one I used, from Sew Like My Mom, is specifically for a serger, which made even quicker work of a quick pattern.  Sammie’s dress was 2T, but the instructions go up to size 8.  I think it will be a little big, but that’s ok–she can wear it next spring.

Sammie's pillowcase dress

Sammie’s pillowcase dress

With all three projects done, I’ll be off to the Post Office tomorrow morning. I know the ruffians will appreciate these little gifts from their aunt, and I certainly enjoyed putting them together.

Finally, just in case you’re wondering, here is my fabric cabinet.

Aslan's not here...

Aslan’s not here…

Gypsy Romance Patchwork Throw

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I came across this Gypsy Romance Patchwork Pom Pom Throw on Sew4Home, one of my favorite sewing sites,  several months ago.  Just a few days ago, I finally finished my interpretation of this project. Not all the fabrics shown were available, so I put together some additional patterns I liked from the Gypsy Bandana collection by Michael Miller. And, as I was unable to find a velvet color I really liked,  I used polar fleece instead.  I’m very pleased with the result, especially since the pattern was quite challenging, even for an experienced sewist.

Of course, as you’ve seen, I have a passion for patchwork–mostly patchwork squares.  This throw was certainly much more complicated! Once I had all four panels done, it was time to sew them together.

Putting panels together

Putting panels together

Fortunately, the directions were easy to follow.  Unfortunately, I cut two of the pieces for Panel 1 an inch too , and had to improvise a solution.

Note three strips of fabric  together in middle of Panel 1, instead of just one strip on 2, 3 and 4

Note three strips of fabric together in middle of Panel 1, instead of just one strip on 2, 3 and 4

Of course, no one but me knows the pattern didn’t call for those three strips of fabric on the left!  I also added a feather stitch between the panels, because I believe small details are important.  (Actually, I’m more than a little neurotic about those things. My friends love me anyway.)

Featherstitching between panels

Featherstitching between panels

Since I didn’t like how the batting seemed to pull away from the two fabric layers, I stitched in the ditch between panels to hold it together.

Stitching in the ditch to anchor batting underneath

Stitching in the ditch to anchor batting underneath

Sew4Home gives just about the best explanation of fussy cutting I’ve ever read:  “You fussy cut when you select and cut out a specific motif on printed fabric. For example, a quilt where you cut each square to showcase a specific element of a fabric’s overall pattern.”  And their tutorial on the technique of fussy cutting is excellent.

Cutting strips from the Aqua Gypsy Road fabric wasn’t easy (cutting isn’t my strong suit).  The rotary cutter was my best friend here. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t say how essential the Big Board was, too, especially for cutting the long panel pieces.

My Big Board

My Big Board

My throw took weeks to finish. Having to use the floor for layout was especially annoying. Still, there just wasn’t any other way.  I love my Soon, I’ll put together some matching pillows with the remaining fabric.  For now, completing this very complicated design is enough.

Ready for its close up

Ready for its close up