Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Labels

After reading tons of different posts on different craft blogs about how ladies do quilt labels, and trying several myself, I am finally to a point where I like how I do mine. Since I received a couple questions about the wedding quilt label I thought I would share my method.

1. First, I love using white fabric in my quilts, and I save every last scrap when I'm cutting it up! I don't always want a large label so those scraps come in handy. I decide how big I want my label, usually 3"x4" or a little smaller, and trim the scrap to that size plus 1/2" for seam allowances.

2. Sometimes I skip straight to step 3 for a simpler label but usually I use some of my patterned fabric scraps from the quilt to create a little border. When trimming these scraps, be sure to add 1/2" for seam allowances to the width you want showing around the label. Mine are usually cut ~1" wide so there's only a thin border.

Sew to the short sides, and press, then to the long sides, and press.

3. I also save all my scraps of freezer paper. Find a piece that at least covers the white part of your label.

Iron it, shiny side down, to the back of the label. This will make the fabric more stable for writing on.

4. I plan out the label lightly in pencil (since I always wash my quilts before giving them away, the pencil will wash right out).

Then I trace the final label with a fine point sharpie. I've tried other fabric markers but have had the best results with a plain old sharpie! I know there are methods out there to print your labels on your computer but I love the personal look of handwriting.

5. Peel off the freezer paper, make sure my label is squared up, and find another scrap of white fabric that's as big as my whole label and trim to match. I sew them right sides together with a gap for turning.

6. Turn right side out. Use a knitting needle or chopstick to push out the corners.

Press well.

7. Pin in place on your quilt and handstitch down. I just read a great tutorial for ladder stitch that I might try on my next quilt for invisible stitches but lately I've just been using a blind stitch. I don't have a photo of this step because my example label is for my flutterby quilt which is not quite ready for a label!

This is just what I've found works best for me! There are tons of label ideas out there so look around and combine them all to be your own special method.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Simple Baby Blankie

Finally, some instructions for a simple baby blankie! Sorry for the delay. I tried to keep this tutorial simple because it really is an easy project, but you know me! I couldn't resist a lot of detail and photos. Don't be intimidated by the length of this tutorial, once you've done a couple they will really not take you very long.

- One full yard (or) two half yards (or) four fat quarters of quilting cotton.
- One yard no pill fleece (flannel is nice too) & matching thread.
- One package satin blanket binding & matching thread.
- Long ruler, scissors, marker, sewing machine.

1. Assemble the top. If you are using a full yard of fabric, you're already done! For the half yards, cut each piece in half length-wise to get four 18"x22" pieces. Square these up. With the halved half yard pieces or the fat quarters, sew together in a checkerboard pattern. Press well.

2. Smooth and Baste

a. Spread the fleece on the floor, preferably on a carpeted surface (it sticks like velcro) and smooth out all the wrinkles. Smooth from the center out until you get no more puckers as you smooth. There is sometimes a slightly nicer side to the fleece, a little fuzzier - make sure this is facing the carpet, this is your "right side."

b. Lay the blanket top right side up on the fleece and smooth out all the wrinkles.

You can see I didn't get a very generous cut of fleece so I'll lose a little of my top when I trim later.

c. Lightly baste - I usually only do pins along the edges and the midlines, to hold it together and keep it from sliding when I pick it up.

3. Square it up.

Using your long ruler and a marker, draw lines where you'll need to square up your blanket. If your lines cross your edge pins, adjust your pins to be inside your lines. Use your sewing scissors to trim along the lines. The binding will cover up the edges so don't worry if some of your marker lines don't get trimmed off.

Ignore that there are no pins in the vertical midline, there should be!

4. Quilt.

Sew the centerlines (see yellow lines below) each direction - follow the seams if you pieced the top, or make a light pencil mark if you used a full yard. I usually use thread that matches the fleece backing.

5. Bind.

a. Binding is the slightly tricky part! Unwrap your binding and with your iron on a medium setting (no steam!!) press out the fold marks in your binding, leaving it folded in half.

b. Press in ~1/4" on each end.

c. You'll notice it's not perfectly in half, one layer is a little longer.

With the longer edge on the bottom, sandwich your blankie edge between the two layers of binding. On one long side of your blankie, start the binding at least 12" from the corner, and start sewing about 6" from the end of the binding.

d. Set your machine to a wide, short zig zag. Use thread that matches the binding. Feel the blanket through the binding - you should have the binding overlapping about 1/3" of the blanket edge. I usually use my walking foot so the top and bottom of the binding get fed evenly but you can also pin it to keep it even. If it's still feeding unevenly, keep your left hand behind the machine, pulling lightly on the folded edge of the binding as you feed the blanket through - a little tricky but it seems to help.

e. Zig zag all the way to the first corner, backstitching a little when you get there.

f. To turn the corner, pull the blanket out of the machine and trim the threads. Hold the binding along the next edge, and slide it until the corner isn't rounded or pointy.

Too round.

Too pointy.

Just right.

g. Pin where you were holding the binding.

h. Pull the top binding layer to the front and the bottom layer to the back.

i. Pinch the fold and adjust until you have a nice mitred corner on the front. Pin.

j. Adjust the same way on the back and pin.

k. Once the corner is under your presser foot, carefully take out the pins in the corner so you don't break your needle. Zig zag stitch along the mitre seam for ~1/4", stopping with the needle down on the right. Lift the presser foot and pivot so you can continue down the edge of the blankie.

l. Continue sewing down the edges, repeating steps 5(f-k) at each corner.

m. When you get to the last edge, stop sewing ~6" from where you started.

n. Smooth the binding down towards the starting point and pin just the top layer.

o. Smooth the beginning binding down to see where the folded/ironed edge meets the ending of the binding. Pin just through the pressed under bit and binding you pinned in step (n). Remove the pin from step (n).

p. Flip the binding so the right sides are together and stitch along the pressed line. Make sure to switch back to a straight stitch for this! Trim to 1/4".

q. Lay binding back along the blanket edge, switch back to the zig zag stitch, and finish binding. Overlap a little where you started and stopped.

6. Final Touches

There will be loose threads at each corner, and at your starting and stopping point. I like to hide these in the binding rather than just clipping the edge. Just thread the loose threads through your needle, put your needle into the binding where the threads originate, and exit the binding at the outer crease. Trim threads.

Voila!! A sweet little blankie perfect for a sweet little baby...

Remember if you make one of these to please add it to the (very lonely) Flickr group for my tutorials!

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Pleated Pouch Directions

Thanks for all the interest in the little pleated pouch I made for Miya! A lot of you asked for a tutorial, but it's really constructed just like my organizer pouch with just a slight change to the outer fabric:

- Instead of upholstery weight fabric for the outer pieces, I used cotton and didn't interface it or anything.
- Cut the lining fabric and interfacing to 11.5"x7" still but cut the outer fabric 12"x7" (you can make the top edge wider if you want deeper pleats, but keep the bottom edge 12" - it will be a trapezoid).
- Do the pockets/lining/strap same as in the original tutorial.
- Before installing the zipper -->

Mark your 12x7" outer piece at the center and 3" in from either side.

Fold from left to right at each mark, pinch a scant 1/4" and fold back from right to left.

Pin and move on to assembling the pouch.

- Install the zipper. Trim the lining as shown in the original tutorial but don't trim the outer fabric. Finish assembly as usual, adding the strap, including the mitred corners, turning right side out, etc.

Hopefully that's enough detail! Let me know if you have any questions.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pleated Purse Pattern

I received such a great response to my pleated spring bag and so many requests for a pattern, I thought I'd give it a try. I tried to keep it a little shorter this time, so please let me know how you like it! Do you like my zillion-pictures method better? Constructive criticism always appreciated.

TERMS OF USE: This pattern is for personal use only. You may not sell this pattern, bags made from this pattern, or bags made from modifications to this pattern (example: enlargements, wider/longer strap, etc). Please do not distribute copies of this pattern to others; instead, please refer others who are interested in this pattern to my blog. Feel free to contact me if you have questions - I will happily make exceptions for charity and educational purposes, but please ask first.

Click here to download the instructions. (pdf format)
Updated: Slight correction to fabric requirements: You will need 3/4 yard of outer fabric, or (2) 10x10 scraps for the pockets.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Zipper Organizer

I have really been enjoying my zipper pouch. It holds all the essentials and keeps them organized, so I can toss it in a larger bag or just grab it for a quick errand. I thought you might enjoy a how-to. This is really long, like all my how-to's, but trust me, after a little practice, these go together really quickly from start to finish!

You Will Need:

Main Body --> 6 pieces of fabric 11.5" x 7" (2 upholstery/home dec weight, 2 cotton for lining, 2 fusible interfacing)

Pockets -->
2 pieces of fabric 11.5" x 5" (cotton for lining)
2 pieces of fabric 11.5" x 2" (upholstery/home dec weight)

Strap --> 1 piece of fabric 9" x 2.5" (upholstery/home dec weight)

9" zipper

* If you're using scraps like me, you can get all this from ~2 12" x 12" upholstery samples! Lining was from my stash.

Prep the Pieces:

Iron the fusible interfacing to the wrong side of your 11.5" x 7" lining pieces.

Take your 9" x 2.5" strap piece, iron in 1/4" on both long edges, then iron in half. Top stitch both long sides, about 1/8" or less from the edge.

To make the pocket, place one 11.5" x 2" piece of upholstery weight fabric right side down on one 11.5" x 5" piece of lining fabric. Using 1/4" seam allowances, sew along the long edge.

Then sew the 2nd long edge of the upholstery piece to the second long edge of the lining piece to form a tube.

Turn right sides out and press so that the upholstery forms the top of the pocket.

Top stitch if desired. This is what I usually do:

Repeat with the other pocket pieces.

Begin Assembly:

Line up one pocket 1.5" from bottom of one lining piece. Mark the center with a small line, and 3" on either side of the center (adjust this dimension if you are making a pocket for a specific item, like a cell).

Stitch carefully along the bottom edge of the pocket, close to the edge. When you reach the marks, leave the needle down and pivot your work 90° and sew towards the top edge of the pocket. When you reach the top edge, leave the needle down and pivot 180° and stitch back to the bottom edge.

Your pocket will look like this:

Repeat with the second pocket and second lining piece:

Install the Zipper:

Center the zipper face up along one lining edge. Place one upholstery piece right side down to create a sandwich.

Using the zipper foot on your machine, sew in the zipper. Start and stop your stitches at the zipper stops, not the edges of the fabric. You'll also have to stop sewing halfway, remove your work from the machine, get the zipper pull out of the way, and finish sewing. Overlap your stitches a little when you start again for security.

Pin the lining and upholstery layers away from the zipper and topstitch. Again, start and stop with the zipper stops.

Create a second zipper sandwich with the remaining lining and upholstery pieces.

Sew as you did for the first side of the zipper. Pin away and topstitch. Your pouch should now look like this:

Final Trimming:

Now that the zipper is installed, square up the fabric by trimming the upholstery layer and the lining layer to be the same dimensions.

Make a mark 1/2" in from each edge by the zipper:

Trim diagonally from this mark to each lower corner, making sure not to cut the webbing of the zipper.


Position the strap and pin, catching the upholstery weight fabric only.

Pin the outer pieces and the lining, right sides together. Make sure the zipper is at least half way open so you can turn.

Using 1/2" seam allowance, sew as shown in the diagram, leaving an opening in the lining for turning (1) and overlapping your stitches on the outer fabric for security (2). Back stitch as close as you can to the zipper, making sure the open zipper ends stay aligned.

Box the corners, feeling to make sure the side and bottom seams are lining up; mark a line where the corner is an inch wide. Repeat with all four corners. Sew back and forth a couple times on this line and then trim off the corner.

Deep breath, we're almost there! Turn the bag right side out. I've found this is easiest if I tuck the outside and inside together first, then start pulling through the hole I left in the lining.

Close up the opening in the lining with either hand stitching or a neat machine stitch. Tuck everything back together with lots of smoothing and stretching. This is where I like the interfaced lining.

And voila!!

I hope you stuck with me through to the end and this all makes sense! Good luck, and let me know if you try it!

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