Monday, October 1, 2012

Crescent-shaped, yoga pillow

Note: Use upholstery-weight fabric, heavy cotton duckcloth or denim, OR two layers of lighter cotton, OR lightweight fabric reinforced with iron-on interfacing. Use a number 16 heavy-weight needle in sewing machine.
  • Fabric 19 x 22-inches to cut two identical pattern pieces for the pillow top and bottom.
  • Fabric (identical, or to coordinate with the pillow top/bottom fabric) 8 x 70-inches for pillow gusset
  • 7.5-inches 5/8-inch wide fusible hook and loop tape for closure
  • 8 inches woven belting for handle or make strap from 4x8-inch scrap of fabric reinforced with fusible interfacing (Fold fabric longways, press, fold edges to center, press. You will have a folded strip of fabric 1x8-inches. Unfold. Cut interfacing 2 x 8-inches long and fuse to center of fabric. Fold-in edges, fold down center and press. Topstitch 1/4 -inch from both edges to form handle.)
  • 4 pounds buckwheat hulls OR 16-oz bag Morning Glory Cluster Stuff fiber to stuff pillow

  • Cut TWO, bean-shaped, pillow-top/bottom pieces using pillow-top/bottom pattern with straight side of pattern placed on the straight-of-grain fold of pillow-top/bottom fabric. (Photo shows interfacing stitched to pattern piece.)
  • Cut one pillow gusset 8x70-inches.
  • Prepare gusset by marking a straight line on the wrong side of the fabric every five inches beginning 7 inches from one end of the fabric – mark 13 lines in all. 
  • Make 3/4-inch pleats at each mark, pin pleats in place and machine baste with long stitch along both long sides of the gusset. (To make a pleat, pinch 3/4-inches on either side of drawn line, fold flat along length of fabric, and pin in place before machine basting.) Your gusset will be approximately 50-inches long after pleating.
  • Hem one 8-inch gusset-end by folding over 1/4-inch to wrong side of fabric, press, and fold over 1 inch and stitch down. This will form one side of the placket for the hook and loop tape closure.
  • Place handle strap on right side of gusset about  1-1/2 inches from hemmed end of gusset and baste in place.
  • Fold pillow top and gusset in half to find centers, mark, and pin match center mark of gusset to center mark of pillow top at indentation at top of pillow top. Starting at center top of pillow top, pin RST pillow top and gusset, working from center top to both ends of gusset. Pin hemmed edge to pillow top.  Fold excess length of unfinished end of gusset to overlap prepared placket hem , fold back to form hem, and trim. Pin in place.
  • When you get to the end of the gusset, fold the excess length to the wrong side of the gusset to meet the point where you began pinning. Place the hemmed edge under  the folded edge and place the folded edge on top of the hemmed edge and pin in place. This will create a placket for the hook and loop tape (If your gusset is excessively long, you can trim any length over two or three inches on the folded edge before sewing.)
  • Hand baste the gusset in place and remove pins.
  • Machine stitch gusset in place using 1/4, or 3/8-inch seam allowance. Zig-zag-stitch overcast seam allowance.
  • Fit iron-on hook ‘n’ loop tape into placket formed by overlapping hems on gusset. Fuse. Open hook ‘n’ loop and stitch tape in place along all four edges of each tape piece, on both sides of placket. 
  • Find centers on remaining pillow top and gusset side and pin as in first side. Baste by hand. 
  • Stitch by machine. Overcast (zig-zag) seam allowance.

  • Turn pillow through placket opening.
  • Stuff with fiber or buckwheat hulls through open placket.
Finished crescent-shaped yoga pillow stuffed with fiber.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wedding banner

My friend Kathy S. made this cute appliqued banner for her daughter's wedding this summer. She said:
The pinks and green fabrics were just cotton duck fabric. The navy and yellow were outdoor fabrics. I got the design from my computer clip art -- just enlarged it to make it work for the flag and made a pattern from newsprint. . . . The finished dimensions are 29" x 42" but I would add a few inches to both the width and length if I were making this again.

Chenille Baby Blanket

I fell in love months ago with this baby blanket at Aesthetic Nest.  When I found out my sister-in-law was expecting I couldn't wait to make one as a gift.  Because I didn't know the sex of the baby I thought that a navy, white and pale yellow combo would be perfect.

I ordered up my supplies from  One and one-half yards each of Premier Prints ZigZag Twill Blue, Solid Flannel Navy, Solid Flannel White and Solid Flannel Yellow. (See also "Cotton chenille" post.)

Anneliese's tutorial is great, I followed it exactly...except for the part where I had it quilted by a friend with a long-arm machine after I realized that sewing zigzags across 45" square of thick twill layered with flannel wasn't going to work on my machine. (Thanks Gail!).

I layered the white, yellow and blue flannel over the wrong side of the chevron twill fabric and trimmed the whole thing to about 48" square.  Once the quilting was done, it was a snap to snip the flannel while watching TV over a few evenings.

I loved the rounded corners in the original blanket so I replicated them and then quickly bound the blanket in white twill tape from Jo-Ann Fabric.  I was a bit concerned about the washing step because I hadn't pre-washed any of my fabrics so I tossed the whole thing in the wash with a few homemade "color catchers" from a tutorial here.  Sadly the navy flannel ran like crazy.  On the plus side, the fraying looked great!  I washed the blanket twice more with about a half-dozen Shout-brand color catchers and called it quits. The yellow flannel lost most of its color and the overall result was a faded-denim effect.

Even though it didn't turn out exactly as expected, I just love this blanket. It is sturdy and cozy and makes a great play mat.  My 7-month-old nephew tried it out and I think he liked it!  I hope his sister will like it too!  I had finished the quilt a day or so before we found out the new baby's sex and I gave it to my S-I-L on the same day.

Now I think I'll make myself one for babysitting duty.  I'm thinking straight cut chenille from this fabric with self-binding and perhaps an all lilac flannel back.

Thanks to Anneliese at Aesthetic Nest for a beautiful project!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Ghastlie" tote

Photo by Alisa Theil
Since Alisa bought the patterns for this tote for me, I thought it was only fair to make one for her birthday present. I fell in love with the Ghastlie Family Reunion fabric from The Alexander Henry Fabrics Collection, 2011, especially the gray color option shown here. The bag is lined with Ghastlie Bramble, also in the gray color option -- seen above as the back of two large pockets inset in the front of the bag. I purchased my fabric from Creative Quilt Kits in Brighton, Michigan. The "ghastlie" series is available for $10.90 a yard from their online store at The SKU for the fabric I used is SKU: AH-7596B.

Alisa purchased the tote patterns for me from Geta Grama's Romanian Quilt Studio website. She bought the "Amalie" and "Belle" patterns, and the "Nicole" pattern was included as a bonus (total cost $19). I received the patterns via e-mail as PDF files that I had printed on good quality paper at my local Staples copy center (about $8 for all three patterns). Then I punched the sheets with a three-hole punch and put them in a three-ring binder. The binder I bought has a clear insert so that you can put the cover of the pattern on the front and the binder has a pocket inside where I put my cut-out pattern pieces.

Geta Grama also has an interesting web-log called Geta's Quilting Studio that features gorgeous photography of her projects. I like her work very much and her pattern directions are superior. She has a book published this year called Shadow Trapunto Quilts available from Amazon at

I liked the "Amalie" style tote, but initially wanted a larger tote as a diaper bag for a baby shower, so I used the larger "Nicole" pattern adapted to the "Amalie" style. Grama provides instructions on how to resize any of her patterns and I could have simply resized the "Amalie" but the Nicole pattern pieces were already the size I needed, so I used them. The resulting bag is not exactly like the "Amalie" resized, it's more like an adaptation of the "Nicole" but the original "Nicole" had a different style inset pocket on the front of the bag that I didn't think would be convenient for a diaper bag. Alisa liked the large size and so I made her "ghastlie" bag with the same adapted pattern.

I used quarter-inch seams and my bag came out to 18-inches wide by 14-inches high by 4.5-inches deep. The directions were beautifully written and very complete. The only difficulty I had was the direction for sewing the front pockets, but since it was clear what had to be done (two pocket pieces had to be sewn together to make the pocket), that glitch didn't cause any difficulty. 

The directions called for iron-on interfacing which is not my favorite material, but after pre-washing my fabric, and getting advice from Karen at The Stitchery in Howell to use Pellon's Decor Bond Firm Iron-On Backing with Extra Crispness, the interfacing worked very well. I also used this interfacing in the straps and the pocket as well as the bag pieces, with the exception of the lining. 

Although the pattern didn't specifically call for it, I purchased Pellon's Peltex Single-Sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer to make a firm bottom for the base of the bag. This material is about 3/8-inch thick, but can be cut with scissors. I cut the Peltex to a size to fit the tote bottom and stitched it into the interior of the bag before sewing in the lining. I hand-tacked the Peltex into the bag, then made a single line of machine stitching along the bottom seam to hold the Peltex in firmly. This wasn't very easy. An alternative would be to cut the Peltex to fit, iron on a piece of lining fabric and just insert the Peltex into the bottom of the finished bag.

The pattern also called for an inserted zippered pocket on the back of the bag. I'd never done this before, and was afraid of ruining my carefully chosen, fussy-cut, bag back -- so I tried inserting the zippered pocket into one of the lining pieces; if I made a mess, I'd just cut a new lining piece. But it worked out perfectly, and now Alisa's bag has a zippered interior pocket as well as a large, two-division, patch pocket inside; in addition to the two large pockets inserted in the front of the bag.

I used a size 16 machine sewing needle throughout because I was stitching through multiple layers of fabric for most of the bag construction. For the top-stitching that is a feature of most of the construction of this bag, I used my Janome's double straight-stitch.

This was a lot of fun, interesting, intricate and I learned a lot. I think that pocket detail on the front of the tote is very clever and good looking and it was fun to learn how to do that. I learned how to insert a zippered pocket -- a cool thing to know! I learned how to use iron-on interfacing without making a mess and I learned that I should always use interfacing in my bag handles to make them really nice. I learned that Peltex makes a great bag bottom that you can cut any size to fit. And I learned that I need to use a size 16 needle for tote construction. I discovered a new designer and blogger -- Geta Grama -- and I had a lot of fun playing with that ghastlie fabric. Also on my way out of the Creative Quilt Kits shop, I couldn't resist purchasing a cute wallet pattern called "BB Bags" from Brookshier Design Studio so I made Alisa a matching wallet for her "Ghastlie" tote. (Maybe she'll put up a photo : )

Update from A: here's a pic of the sweet (or should I say Ghastlie) coordinating wallet.
                                                                Photo by Alisa Theil

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kangaroo-pocket apron

I found a hand-drawn pattern for this "Kangaroo Pocket Apron" in my files when I reorganized my  workroom. The directions were typed and signed Linda Theil, 1978. The original called for hemmed edges and ribbon ties. For this version, I made self ties and cut a full facing to finish the top of the apron. I seamed the pocket right side to wrong side and turned the pocket to the front to finish all the edges. This method left a chancy bit where the pocket and the top facing met, but not enough for me to worry about. I think if I made this again I'd just make it with a full lining and a smaller, applied pocket. The apron is generously sized, and can be adjusted to fit all sizes with an adjustable neck tie and wrap-around waist ties.

You will need 2-1/4 yards of fabric and a D-ring set for the neck tie. If you want a contrasting pocket and ties, use a different fabric 3/4 yards in length for those pieces. You will also need a bodkin to turn the apron neck tie and waist ties, such as the Dritz Ezy-Pull Bodkin, although there are many manufacturers available.

The photo, above, shows half the pattern for the Kangaroo Pocket apron. The long, straight side of the pattern will be placed on the fold of fabric as described below to make the apron pieces. The long side of the pattern is 34-inches long. The top of the bodice is 6 inches wide on the pattern. The armhole is gently curved from the end of the bodice top to a point 10-inches down on the bodice. (The apron waist ties will be stitched in place at this point at the bottom of the armhole curve along the side of the apron.) Sixteen inches from the top, the pattern is marked with a double line where the pocket will be placed on the apron. The pattern is 13-inches wide at this point, and the pocket is 18-inches deep from the top to the bottom of the apron. The pattern is gently curved along the outside of the apron bottom.
Draw the pattern and cut two copies from tissue paper. Cut one copy of the pattern apart across the double horizontal line that marks the top of the pocket, creating a separate pattern for the pocket and for a facing for the bodice.

Fold one-yard length of fabric over 13-inches lengthwise and place the apron pattern on the fold. Cut one. Note: You must add one inch to the top of the pocket and one inch to the bottom of the bodice facing when cutting -- do not cut these pieces without checking to make sure you have added this length to both pieces. Place the apron bodice facing on the fold. Cut this piece out, adding fabric for a hem at the bottom of 3/4-inch. Place the pattern for the pocket on the fold. Cut out the apron pocket, adding 3/4-inch to the top of pocket for a hem. Cut three 3-inch wide strips across the entire width of the fabric making strips three-inches wide and about 42-inches long.

Bodice facing: turn up 1/4-inch on the bottom of the bodice facing and press. Turn up again another 1/4-inch and press to create a hem. Machine stitch hem.

Pocket: do the same for the hem at the top of the pocket, and machine stitch with a plain or decorative stitch.

Ties: Fold each tie RST (right sides together) lengthwise and press. Stitch along entire length of each tie, using a 1/4-inch seam allowance and closing one end of the tube by tapering the seam to a point. For each tie, trim seam allowance at the point, and using a bodkin, turn the tie right-side-out, and press. Pick one of the ties to use as the neck tie, and cut a three-inch piece from the NON-pointed end.

Fold the three-inch tube of fabric in half, enclosing the two D-rings inside the fold. (I used one circular ring instead of a D-ring set, which works okay, too, but D-rings are nicer.) Pin the folded tube with the D-rings inside to the right side of the top of the apron, 5/8-inch from the  edge of the side armhole, with the raw edges toward the top edge of the apron bodice.

Close-up view of the D-ring assembly. Stitch the D-ring assembly to the bodice.

On the right side of the fabric, pin the raw edge end of the remainder of the neck tie to the other side of the top of the apron, 5/8-inch from the side of the bodice, with raw edges at the top, and the finished tail of the neck tie hanging free.

Close-up view of the neck-tie placement. stitch the neck-tie to the bodice.

With right sides together, pin the bodice facing to the top of the apron, matching the apron top and armholes. Stitch around armhole, across top, and around the second armhole using a 5/8-inch seam allowance. Do NOT stitch sides of bodice facing to bodice at this time. Clip armhole curves, turn the facing to the wrong side of the apron top and press.

Pin the kangaroo pocket to the WRONG SIde of the apron with the WRONG side of the pocket facing up. In other words, pin the right side of the pocket to the wrong side of the apron.

Seam the pocket to the apron using a 5/8-inch seam allowance around the entire bottom of the apron. Clip curves. Turn the pocket to the right side of the apron. Press seam. 

Pin each waist tie to the right side of the apron at the base of the armhole curve with the raw edges of the tie even with the outside edge of the apron.

Close-up view of one apron tie, pinned in place. Stitch each tie  to apron front along the side of the apron.
Pin each side of the bodice-facing to the bodice, right sides together, enclosing  the ends of the waist ties. Stitch each bodice side to bodice-facing side using a 5/8-inch seam allowance. Turn and press. If desired, topstich all around perimeter of the apron.

Measure 8 inches in from the side of the apron and draw a vertical line from the top of the apron pocket to the bottom of the apron. Topstitch along this line, to make a divider on the pocket. Repeat for the other side of the pocket, making a three section pocket for the apron. Pull the neck tie through the D-rings to adjust the neck tie length. 

Note about sizing: although this apron adjusts easily to any size, if you wish you may easily reduce the size of this apron by cutting one or two inches from the long straight edge of the pattern that goes along the fold of your fabric. To shorten, simply reduce the length of your pattern along the bottom by one or two inches, then round off the curve of your new length.

UPDATE: 07/23/12
Sandy models he updated apron version with full lining and patch pocket.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quilt-as-you-go placemats

I made a set of placemats using the quilt-as-you-go technique that I saw at The Quilt Patch in Tecumseh, Michigan last month. The Quilt Patch models featured a holiday print for the central medallion, but I used a 8-1/4 x 7 teacup block that I pieced using instructions from the "Crazy Little Teapot" quilt in Still Crazy by The Buggy Barn. I used all fabrics from my (recently re-organized) stash to make four 18 x 13 placemats.

Materials needed to make one placemat:
  • one central medallion 8-1/4 x 7 inches
  • coordinating backing fabric sized 20 x 15 inches
  • lightweight fiberfill sized 18 x 13 inches
  • iron-on interfacing sized 18 x 13 inches
  • Color A = two pieces 3 x 7 inches
  • Color B = two pieces 1.5 x 7 inches, and two pieces 15.25 x 1.5 inches
  • Color C = two pieces 2 x 9 inches, and two pieces 18.5 x 2 inches
  • bobbin thread to match backing fabric
Recommended: walking foot for sewing machine
RST means place fabric pieces with the right sides together
Use 1/4-inch seam allowances.

Iron interfacing to wrong side of backing fabric, centered, leaving one inch of backing fabric on all sides.
Pin lightweight fiberfill to backing.
Center 8-1/4 x 7 inch medallion right-side-up on fiberfill and pin in place.
Place one 3 x 7 inch piece of fabric Color A RST(right sides together) along a 7-inch side of the central medallion. Align the edge of the face down fabric with the edge of the face up medallion. Pin in place and stitch using 1/4-inch seam allowance.
Pull the bobbin thread through to the top side, tie off, and clip thread to an inch or two in length. (Note: always pull bobbin thread through, tie, and clip for each seam sewn on this project.)
Press fabric open along seamline.
Repeat process with the other 3 x 7 inch piece of fabric Color A on the other side of the medallion.
Pin 1.5 x 7 inch pieces of fabric Color B RST to each 7-inch side of the placemat motif completed thus far.
Closeup of fabric Color B pinned in place. Stitch, pull bobbin thread through, tie, and clip thread then press open along seam line. Repeat on the other side. 
Place 15.25 x 1.5 inch piece of Color B RST across horizontal aspect of the motif and pin in place.
Closeup of 15.25 x 1.5 inch piece of fabric Color B pinned to motif. Stitch, pull thread through, tie and clip, and press open along seam line. Repeat on opposite horizontal side of motif. This will create a complete surrounding border of fabric Color B on motif.
Pin 2 x 9 inch piece of fabric Color C RST along both vertical sides of motif. Stitch, pull thread, tie and clip, and press open along seamline. Repeat for other vertical side of motif. 
Pin 18.5 x 2 inch piece of fabric Color C to both horizontal sides of motif.
Stitch, pull thread, tie and clip, and press open along seamline. 
 This will create a complete surrounding border of fabric Color C on motif.
Press backing fabric over 1/2-inch on all sides of placemat.
Miter corners of placemat.
Fold over backing fabric to bind all edges of placemat.
Hand-stitch binding in place.
 I hand quilted the elements of the central pieced motif.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Quilt Board

With Mother's Day coming I thought that a Fabric Board would be a great gift for the craft room that my Mom has been setting up.  I have wanted one of these...for my many quilting projects...since I saw my friend Alisande's jumbo size one about 10 years ago!   

The design board post at Oh, Fransson! was a great help.  I borrowed her idea of using quilt batting instead of flannel, but after skulking around the lumber section of Lowe's on my lunch hour I decided that I wasn't crazy about the foam insulation board as a base.  I headed over to Jo-ann to pick up the batting without a firm plan and found a 36" x 36" stretched canvas on sale and decided to use that.  I think it will be easier to hang and will be sturdier over the long run.

Here's how I made mine...



  • Iron batting with steam to remove packing creases
  • Lay canvas face-down on smooth batting
  • staple batting to wooden stretchers - I did opposing sides first, checking results to make sure it was smooth
  • Trim excess batting
  • Miter & staple corners

You can hang this one on the wall by it's built-in hangers.  If you chose a foam base, you'll want to add hanging hardware.

I displayed scrap fabric letters on it for the holiday & I think it turned out nice!