Tuesday, June 26, 2012

4th July Flag Map Mug Rug Pattern

Now there's a tongue twister for you:  Flag Map Mug Rug.  Whoo! :)  I just finished up this fun 4th of July Mug Rug as part of the Scrappy Mug Rug swap with a Red/White and Blue theme.  This one is going to Cherry in Louisiana.   It's a foundation pieced 5x7" block that can be turned into a mug rug or used for something else.

Want to make one of your own?  You can download it here and the piecing guide can be found here.

There are a couple of glitches still with the software I use to make these patterns,  so you'll have to glue/tape pieces G1 to H1 together before you sew,  same goes to C/D, P/O and also sections A1/A2 can be attached to B1/B2 before sewing.  For some reason I can't get the program to leave those attached.  I'm sure it's user error, but you can still use the pattern as is.  

The piecing guide is shown here:

Sewing sections:
Sew AB, to  CD
Sew E
Sew F to,G/H to I to J-to K

Sew M to  N to L  
MNL to AB...K  Set aside

Sew OP to Q to R to S.  Set aside
Sew Xto W to V to U to T
Attach TUVWX to PQRS then attach Y
Attach the top and bottom halves of the map and you are done!

Now go whip one up and when you're done you can put your tall frosty glass of lemonade (or other beverage) on it!  I hope you have a Happy 4th with friends or family and lots of good BBQ!  Happy Sewing!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kitchen Fun

How about this little guy keeping the pots cozy?

This fun little gnome pattern is from  BubbleStitch on Etsy.  I thought he would make a nice potholder and he's a fun addition to the kitchen.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Super Easy Super Quick DIY Kitchen towels

At our house, we have been using homemade napkins made out of quilting cotton for a couple of years now and after a zillion washings, they are super soft.  They sometimes get used in the kitchen just because they are around which inspired the idea of using quilting cotton for kitchen towels.  Quilting cotton is a little too thin for a towel, which needs to be a little beefier, so here’s my super easy, super fun totally stash busting tutorial for making your own kitchen towels.   Maude Asbury's fun Kitchy Kitchen fabric was used to make these kitchen towels.

These towels are super soft and perfect for your fine crystal. What’s that you say? You are not using fine crystal for your everyday juice needs? No worries – these will work for sticky little fingers or plastic juice cups just as well.  In fact, the more you wash them, the softer they get.  Pretty soon you’ll be whipping up large sized ones for pool-side. Ok maybe not. But, these look super cute and fun in your kitchen and you can bust through some of your fabric stash this way!

Ready? Here we go...

You will need

1/2 yd of your favorite fabric -or-  2 fat quarters of coordinating fabric.

4"x44" of contrasting trim fabric for binding or a package of bias tape.
1” Bias tape maker (or Teflon fingers) if you are making your own tape.
Walking foot for your sewing machine. (Optional) ~ Not strictly necessary but I’m giving you an excuse to go tell your husband you need to buy one for this project! 

1.  First off, cut your fabric into 16x22” pieces.  If you are using quilting cotton yardage, this will be close to 18”x22” anyway, just square it up and trim to 16” long.  If you are using fat quarters, just trim them up so they are exactly the same size.  The sizing is a little adjustable here. If your pieces were cut a little shy of 16x22, that’s ok too.  What's important is that they are both the same size. 

2.  Cut 2 strips of fabric that are 2” wide by the width of the fabric (approx. 22”).  Again sizing is a little flexible here, the most important thing is that it’s 2” wide.  Sew the strips together so that you have one really long 2” x 44” strip. 
3.  Now run that strip through the bias tape maker following along the folded edge with your iron.  If you don’t have a bias tape maker, go get one! – you cannot live without this indispensable tool (well you can but you will need Teflon fingers for your iron!).  The Bias tape maker will magically turn your 2” strip  into 1” folded un-bias tape.  It’s so easy it should be illegal.  Ok It’s not a bias tape because we didn’t cut the fabric on the bias, but it works the same in this case in terms of folding and it’s easier and uses less yardage plus the bias bit doesn’t really matter for this project so we are going to call this magically folded strip of fabric un-bias tape and move on.  ‘Kay? 

4.  Lay your fabric so that the RIGHT SIDES are FACING OUT (wrong sides together).  Put a few pins in there to keep things from shifting around.  Now unfold and lay your newly made un-bias tape onto the edge of the cut fabric lining up the edges as shown (right sides together).  Start sewing about 4-5” inches in from the end of the tape and start at a point on the side of the fabric about halfway down.  Like so: (The reason for this excess fabric will be obvious in step 6).  Now sew using a ½” seam allowance all along the edge of the fabric following the ½” fold line that you just pressed into your un-bias tape.  Easy no?

5. When you get to the corners you will need to stop sewing ½” in from the edge of the fabric because we are going to miter these corners like it was a quilt binding.  Don’t panic! It’s easy, trust me. Fold fabric up at 45 degree angle like so:
 Then back down on top of itself like so:

 Pin this sucker in place if you like so it doesn’t shift while you go to your machine.  Now continue to sew a ½” seam allowance and stop when you get just ½” shy of the next corner and repeat until all corners are sewn.  

When you are done with the last corner you will stop sewing a few inches shy of where you started like so:

6.  Why? Because now we are going to sew the ends of the tape together.  Lay the whole thing out on a flat surface, it’ll be easier to work that way.  Now pinch up the 2 excess ends of the un-bias tape, lining them up so they are right sides facing and even like this:
You want to pinch the ends at the point where they meet and lie flat on the fabric.  Place a pin along this point to hold it in place.  The pin marks the spot where the seam will go on the un-bias tape.  Now fold the towel fabric out of the way like this:
You will sew along the pinned line.   

Snip off the excess leaving about ¼” seam allowance and you should now be able to see how this tape lies flat on the towel fabric and you have a perfect seam! 
7.  Now finish sewing the un-bias tape down to the towel fabric to close up the hole. 

8.  Now we’re going to flip over the tape and fold it down on the back side of the towel creating the mitered corner as we fold.  Watch ~ Fold. 

Check out the mitre! Woot. Pat yourself on the back! 

Now attach your walking foot to your sewing machine.  If you don’t have one, that’s ok too, it’ll still work but the walking foot helps prevent puckering.  You are going to sew down the un-bias tape approx. 1/8” in from the edge and pivoting at the corners all the way around the towel. 

TIP:  Keep the needle down in your fabric when you pivot at the corners and you'll have a perfect stitching line. You’re almost done!  

9.  To avoid this whole thing from turning into a balloon straight out of the dryer, you’ll have to add some stitching lines down the center and across to hold the 2 sides together.  I used a grid pattern but you can do whatever pattern you like. 
 Go crazy!

How cool is your new kitchen towel? If you like you can snazz it up with contrasting trim fabric across the top and some rick rack.  Or not – it’s totally up to you. Wasn't that easy? Now go make a few more to share with your friends.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Patriotic Pinwheels

Today seems to be a day for finishing projects.  I just finished sewing the topstitching on a set of napkins I started for Thanksgiving, ummmm a really long time ago - like 2010 I think. Yeah! Ooops.

Then I finished up this Red/White/Blue Pinwheel table runner.  I started it around Memorial day.  Missed that holiday obviously, but it's ready for the fourth of July, this year even!  At least that holiday hasn't arrived yet. Phew!

Inspired by the backing fabric from Riley Blake, I wanted a pinwheel runner so I followed some of the tutorials posted by Rachel at ps i quilt for her pinwheel sampler quilt. The other block was just copied off the back of an old quilting magazine.  I used a pinwheel inspired starburst pattern for the quilting in contrasting thread.

This project whipped up very quickly and was a lot of fun (and far less work than a whole quilt).  I like that!

Fun stuff.   Hope your week is just as productive.  Happy Sewing!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pattern testers wanted

Calling all pattern testers
THANK-YOU to everyone who volunteered to test sew.  I now have all the pattern testers I need.  

Greetings sewists! I'm getting ready to launch a new pattern - it's the cell phone wristlet pattern, much overdue but finally finished.

The pattern is all done but I would love to get some pattern testers to let me know what they think of the instructions and to get general feedback on the written pattern. If you're willing to be a pattern tester, and have some experience sewing purses/bags etc please comment here or send me an email at cascadeskids at gmail dot com. Ideally I'd love to get at least some beginning and some more advanced sewers, so if you want to test the pattern let me know what you would consider your sewing 'level'. You would also be required to send me an email with your review of the pattern. Nothing formal or fancy, just places where you thought the instructions weren't clear or areas that you think need improvement.

P{l}PS extra... for Lisa Chavez

You must be able to sew this up and review it in the next 2 weeks - so please don't volunteer unless you have time to do the sewing and get it reviewed. For being a pattern tester you'll get a hardware kit from me and the pattern for free but you'll have to supply your own fabric/interfacings and you do get to keep your wristlet of course. I would like to get US residents only so that I can get this turned around a little quicker. I only need about 4-6 testers so get those emails rolling. I'll post back here when I'm done gathering volunteers. Hopefully tomorrow.

NOTE - if your account is set to no-reply I won't be able to get back to you because I cant see your email address - please email me directly or make sure you're comments are set to reply with your email adress.  Thanks!  Come one, come all! Happy Sewing! P{l}PS4 Cell phone wallet for Lisa Chavez

Friday, June 1, 2012

Quilting and more quilting...

Earlier this year, it became apparent that my beloved Activa 135 sewing machine of many many years was quite possibly getting ready for retirement.  This was voluntary on her part, but it soon became obvious to me that she was no longer capable of the physical demands I was putting her through.  I suppose it is possible to wear out a sewing machine although it does seem a bit unlikely, but I do put in about 20 hours a week on a busy week which equates to approx. 1000/year or 10000 hours over her lifetime.  Hmm, what is the lifespan of a home sewing machine anyway?  Luckily, hubby who is techno savvy managed to resuscitate her a few times over the past few months but finally I had to concede that she was no longer the youngin’ she used to be.  

Sadly, I replaced her – well kinda sadly but not too much ‘cause who doesn’t love a new sewing machine?!  Yeah, but I did feel kind of bad when she was relegated to the corner of the sewing room, sitting forlornly on the floor all packaged up by herself.  She served me well over the past decade.  She will go in for a full spa service treatment and hopefully she can retire to be used occasionally when the kids have sewing projects they want to do.   

So who/what did I replace her with you ask? Well here’s a peak at her younger sister.

 I have not yet put her through the paces but I will likely write a full review of this machine in a few months when I’ve tested her out thoroughly.  She didn't rest on her laurels for long, she proceeded immediately to free-motion quilting this stems quilt which had been awaiting some stippling.  The new machine came with the much touted BSR (Bernina stitch regulator) and so I gave that a thorough workout over the weekend with this new quilt. 
. Seems a bit strange to me that I didn't even test out all her stitches before diving into a huge quilting project, but that's what I did. Trial by fire I suppose. I decided to use this orange peel quilting pattern that  Elizabeth Hartman talks about in this post (inspiration taken from her new book).  Let me just say that while I like the results, I’ll never do that much quilting again – it took FOREVER and was quite labor intensive on even this relatively small lap quilt.
 Scrappy stems with orange peel quilting 
Yikes!!  But I did put the BSR through it’s paces, more on that later.
Scrappy stems
So I finished quilting the newly christened Scrappy Stems quilt over the weekend.    I do like the end result.  The Stems quilt is a pattern by Fig Tree and Co and can be found here.
Scrappy stems

That’s all for now. Happy Sewing!
Scrappy stems