Pillow Talk

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Pillow Talk

I’ve often found that a king size comforter works quite nicely on a queen size bed. When Emily bought a new bed last fall, she chose a king size spread. Unfortunately, it was packaged as a set, with two king size shams, and her pillows were standard.  Something had to be done. After all, that bed is occupied 24/7. Dexter, her cat, spends his days curled up on her bed while Emily is at work, and she slleps there at night. What to do?

Mom to the rescue!

First, I took one end of each sham apart and trimmed away the extra fabric, leaving 4 strips about 8″ wide, in 2 contrasting patterns, as you see here.

Salvaged fabric from pillow sham

Salvaged fabric from pillow sham

Seeing this strip on my cutting board gave me an idea–but first, I had to finish resizing the shams.  A simple task, yes, but tedious. Reassembling the contrast trim took a little extra care, but the result was worth the trouble.

Resized pillow sham

Resized pillow sham

No self-respecting sewist leaves extra fabric on her sewing table, of course, and I knew I had enough to design some sort of accent pillow. In my stash, I found a 6″ x 20″ neck roll pillow form. I’m sure I bought it with a specific project in mind, but how can a creative thinker like me possibly remember every single one of my wonderful ideas? The pillow was there, and nothing else mattered. First, I trimmed and sewed 3 of the strips together, creating a 7″ x 21″ rectangle with alternating patterns. Next, I had to fill in the sides of my pillow by cutting two 7″ diameter circles. To adjust the fit, I pinned the pillow cover pieces in place, wrong sides out.

Side panel

Side panel

Pinning the cover in place

Pinning the cover in place

Finally, I very carefully removed the cover and attached the side panels. Emily’s bed is now as sophisticated and perfectly put together as she is.

(Dexter remains a hot mess, which is a story for another day. )

The finished bed

The finished bed

If You Sew It, They Will Come

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Runner detail

Runner detail

 

Among our extended family of 34 people, my mom definitely had the best Christmas last year.  If she can host a minimum of 3 dinners during Christmas week with at least 15 people at her table, she’s a happy woman.

Of course, I came in second, because Santa brought me an  Elna 860!   (For those judgy people who are keeping track, that makes a grand total of 2 sergers and 3 sewing machines.)

For my first project, I thought the holiday dinner queen could use a personalized table runner.  Armed with 3 yards of a nice linen from Quilters Studio in Fairfax, I got to work.

Monogram in progress

Monogram in progress

 

Monogramming is easy on the 860, and looked so elegant on the linen. I thought I’d add some tassels and be done.  Then, I had another idea. Why not add some color, and maybe a little embroidery? Not to mention, I had an issue with shrinkage. My original three-yard cut was now only 103″ after washing.  And yes, I should have known that would happen. Still. Since the finished width of my runner was 14″, I cut two 15″ x 18″ rectangles of paisley cotton print left over from another project. For added texture and interest, I channel quilted the panel, and added some embroidery.

Center panel

Center panel

Just for fun, I repeated the large embroidery motif on either side of the panel.

Embroidery close-up

Embroidery close-up

The finished runner measures 120″–ten feet long! While it appears ridiculously long on my small table, the runner will look just right in my parents’ dining room.

The finished runner

The finished runner

 

 

Patchwork Apron

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While playing around with patchwork, I envisioned an apron.  I’d been playing around with triangles, with no particular rhyme or reason. Digging around in my stash, I decided to see what I could do with triangles. After putting together several squares, I thought they’d make an interesting border for an apron.  I lined another square to use as a pocket.

Pocket Detail

Pocket detail

The apron skirt, waistband and ties came from my stash. The skirt is approximately 24″ wide by 15″ long, and the patchwork border adds about 6″.  I cut a contrasting 3″ x 24″ strip for the waistband, and 3″ x 40″ for the ties. As a feminine touch, I added some lace above the patchwork, and I used a feather stitch to accent the patchwork.

Attaching waistband and ties

Preparing waistband and ties for sewing

You’ll note that the colors and prints follow no particular order, and that doesn’t really matter at all.  The patchwork is just a cheerful and colorful accent.  I topstitched the waistband for some added detail.

Waistband Detail

Waistband topstitching

Finally, here is a close up of the dish towel loop on the left of the apron, opposite the pocket. I made it a little longer than most patterns I’ve seen, because I think it’s more useful that way.

Loop under waistband

Loop under waistband

 

My sister Jackie was the lucky recipient of my stash-busting little project. She loves to cook, and I know she appreciates my work. Imagine what I could do if I actually started with a pattern and a plan!

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