Tina Givens Opal Owl mei tai

Making a mei tai is such an involved project that I get a high every time I finish one.  It’s so great to see this wonderful creation that is not only beautiful, but functional as well.  I smile just thinking about these pieces of fabric that I put together being used to snuggle babies close to their parents, right where they belong.

I delivered this one today.  The fabric is by Tina Givens for Free Spirit, and I used the exact same print in a different color once before, when it was requested by friend, Liz.

The blues in the fabric look lovely paired with the gray canvas for the straps (in my opinion).

And here’s a close-up of the print, called magical forest.  It’s just so much fun.

There are some places where I really try to pay attention to details, and I often try to match up the print of the sleeping hood with the body of the baby carrier, especially when using a large scale print like this one.  You can see the two lines of top stitching along the edge of the sleeping hood where it falls against the body of the carrier.

That double row of top stitching is repeated all the way around the carrier.

The reverse is a solid blue, and the mei tai can be worn with either side facing outward.  This blue picks up on the blue in the print and I think it looks awesome against the gray straps.

I hope the new baby and the parents get lots of use out of this!

Ruffled curtain tie backs tutorial

I mentioned in my works in progress post that I did not make any progress on making curtain tie backs, as requested by a friend.  Well, now I have.

But seriously.  They’re tie backs.  For curtains.  They have ruffles.  It’s not really very interesting.  Functional, sure.  But interesting?  Notsomuch.  However, I thought maybe you have curtains (perhaps you made them?) and you want to make some pretty ruffled tie backs to match.  Maybe you’re just not sure how to go about it.  Well, I can help.

Here ya go.

Alright.  First up: construct the top part.

Here’s what I did.

Fold the fabric along the length and then in half so there are 2 folded edges.  Then cut out the shape.  In this case, the patterns was 12 inches wide, so when the tie back is unfolded, the fabric is 24 inches long across the length.  The pattern tapers across the length from 4 inches at the fold on the short side to 2.5 inches.  The curve is very gradual near the fold and increases in steepness about halfway across the length.

When the fabric is unfolded, you’ll have a shape that looks like this.

Fold that in half lengthwise and iron along the fold to make a nice crease.  Carefully fold the edges in about 1/2 inch along the curve on each side and press.  Do the same with the two straight ends.  Fold the shape along the center crease.  Set this piece aside and make the ruffle.

For my ruffle, I wanted a piece that was twice the length of the top portion of the curtain tie backs, in this case, 48 inches.  Since I didn’t have enough fabric for a piece 48 inches long, I cut 2 shorter pieces, 24 inches long x 4 inches wide and connected them.  You could cut them wider than 4 inches if you wanted a larger ruffle.  I pressed the seam open and then zig-zag stitched along each side of the seam so that I would not have any unfinished edges.

Now, fold the lower edge up about 1/4 inch and press.  Fold it up once more to enclose the raw edge and press again.  Stitch close to the folded edge to complete the hem of the ruffle.

Do the same with the two short sides.  Fold inward twice to enclose the raw edge, then stitch close to the fold.  You now have a long piece of fabric with three finished edges.

Time to ruffle the ruffle.  Set the stitch length on your sewing machine to the longest setting.  Increase the thread tension as high as it will go.  Place your ruffle piece in your sewing machine and sew along the length, about 1/4 inch from the remaining raw edge.

Return your machine tension and stitch length to normal.  When you removed your ruffle piece from the machine, leave the thread trails about 6 inches long.  With one hand grasp the bobbin thread only and slide the fabric so it continues to gather the ruffle.  You can slide from the opposite side as well, if you need to.  Continue gathering the fabric until the ruffle piece is the length of the top portion of your curtain tie back.

Place the ruffle between the two layers of the top portion of the tie back, tucked inside about 1/2 inch (it works well to line the raw edge of the ruffle up with the raw edge of the top portion that was folded in and pressed).  Pin all the layers together, catching the top layer, the ruffle and the lower layer with your pins.

I used a lot of pins, placing one every 2 inches or less.  I wanted to make sure the layers didn’t shift as I was sewing them together.

Beginning along one short side near the fold, sew very close to the edge to close the opening.  When your needle gets close to the lower edge, stop with your needle down in the fabric, lift the presser foot, and turn the tie back to sew along the length of the curve to enclose the ruffle, again stopping with your needle down when it arrives near the final open edge.  Lift the presser foot again, turn the fabric, then sew the final open edge closed.

Time to finish this off!  I was making these for a friend and she bought these little plastic rings to attach to the tie back.  If you don’t have them and don’t want to go buy them, you could use a small loop of fabric, or a piece of strong string, or a little loop of thin elastic.

I attached them by setting my zig zag stitch to a wide width and no length and going back and forth several times.  Do the same thing on the other side.

Now do the same thing and make another one.


And look: no unfinished edges.  All looks very professional, yes?  You can do it!

So, was this useful?  This project was a special request from a friend, and I honestly do not even know if people are using tie backs in their decor.  This is what happens when you don’t have cable and no longer get to watch HGTV!

Be Free Bees: April addition for Thea

Remember when you were a kid and you got to have Show and Tell on Friday?  Wasn’t that the best?!  Well, when you are a grown-up, and you sew, you can have Sew and Tell on Friday, hosted by Amy at Amy Lou Who.

Now, I know it’s not Friday, but I already mentioned that my yesterday was filled to the brim with track and only track, so here I am, on Saturday, and the (no longer a) baby is asleep on my arm, but I don’t want to move her and risk waking her before I type this up.  Phew!

I finished my April addition for Thea in my free form quilting robin.  I mentioned on Wednesday that I had finished it, but I couldn’t consider it truly finished until it was in the mail on the way to its next stop.  (Getting it in the mail tends to hold me up sometimes!)  I’m happy to report that it is packaged up and on the way to Indiana!

Here is what arrived in the mail early in the month:

Thea’s starter pieces was the dresden in the middle.  The first addition was the green and turquoise background to the dresden, and the second addition was the border with the drunkard’s path blocks and the white rectangles.

I must admit that this project really stumped me.  It has a lovely, understated color palette and uses a lot of batik prints.  It’s pretty, but well outside what I usually tend toward stylistically.  I took it out and just stared at 3 or 4 different times before I started finally pulling fabrics to use.  And after that, I still wasn’t sure of the design.  Here’s what I ended up with:

My first plan was to use the white space as sort of a “blank canvas” and do some appliqué: circles of random sizes, perhaps, or flowers.  Then I considered creating a patchwork strip and cutting away some of the white along one side in a serpentine so that I attached the patchwork following a curved seam.

Ultimately, I decided that I should probably not overcomplicate it.  There was already a lot going on with the curves and the various batiks, so I took things “back to basics” by constructing some log cabin blocks and incorporating some solids.

I started with the flower print in the middle of the large log cabins.  The flowers tie into the curves that are already present, and the color was a nice compliment.  I alternated solid and print fabrics in the log cabin blocks, constructing them with warm colors on one side and cool colors on the other.  The two large log cabin oppose each other in this pattern.

Along one side, I made three small log cabin blocks, adding additional borders between them to get the length I needed.

When I sent the package off, I included some strips of the solids I used so that they may be used in future rounds before the final quilt makes its way back to Thea.  I’m happy with how it turned out.  I hope Thea is too.


Fabric Friday {on Saturday}

I meant to post this eye-candy-for-the-fabric-lover yesterday, but I spent most of the morning setting up for a track meet, most of the afternoon and early evening at that track meet, and a good chunk of later evening compiling results.  I just wanted to go to bed!

I ordered this several weeks ago, and I love it, so I just have to share.  This is the first time I’ve ordered a “fat quarter bundle” of every print in one color line of a fabric line.  I knew about this fabric, Fly Away, by Amy Schimler for Robert Kaufman fabrics before it came out because I subscribe to Amy’s blog.  I loved it from the very first sneak peeks, and I actually anticipated its release.

When I had these happily in my hands, I decided that a mere 18×22 inches simply was not a enough, so I ordered a full yard of a few of my favorite prints.

Including an extra owl panel because, seriously, how cute are those little guys?!

I don’t have a project planned for these fabrics just yet.  Do you have any great suggestions about what I should make (when I get the courage to cut it!)?

WiP Wednesday: progress here and there

I’ve only been regularly linking at Works in Progress Wednesday for a few weeks at Freshly Pieced, and I’m not sure yet whether I love it or hate it.

On the one hand, it’s great to have a specific day each week to look at what I’ve accomplished in my sewing world that week.  On the other hand, it also means that I must look at what I didn’t accomplish.  Eep!  That second list is WAY longer.  Ha!

Here’s what was on my sewing “to do” list last week:

1.  Five mei tais.  Some progress.  I am *thisclose* to finishing the first one; I just need to run the waist band through my sewing machine (six times).  I cut out the appliqué I’m doing on the hood of the second one.  The others are waiting in the wings for the next step.

2.  Be Free Bees April quilt.  DONE!  I suppose “mail it” remains on the “to do” list.
3.  Curtain tie backs.  No progress.  Nothing new to report.  I simply haven’t moved this to the top of the list.

4.  Winter HST table runner.  DONE!  I am so thrilled to have this table runner finished {uh, just in time for summer??  No matter, I’ll look forward to using it when winter comes ’round again}.  I didn’t win any prized in the Festival of Half Square Triangles, but finally finishing this project (for me) is prize enough.
5.  Tote bags.  I would love to get the top borders on these and the inside linings cut out.  No progress.  Fail.

6.  Gathered clutches.  Perhaps this is the week I will get some sewing done for the hypothetical/potential/future business??  Minimal progress.  And we’re talking *very* minimal, as in, I pulled out some fabric combinations to make several gathered clutches, but didn’t actually cut or sew anything on them.

7.  Double staircase block in yellow-orange-green.  I’d love to do another tutorial.  No progress.

8.  Order business cards.  DONE!  I hope they arrive soon so I can show you.  I’m so excited to cross this off my list.

9.  Start the process of ordering woven labels for my products.  No progress.

10.  Warm colors 3.5-inch dresden wedges.  Some progress.  The dresden wedges are constructed and the plate is sewn together.  I didn’t make the seam allowances wide enough at the bottom, so I ended up adding a couple extra wedges.
11.  Rainbow/color wheel dresden wall hanging.  Some progress.  I doubt I’ll get much further on this one or the other dresden because the easy part is done and up until now, it just involved sticking the pieces through my machine at end of sewing something else.  The next step for both of these has to me a more deliberate effort for the specific dresden project.


Okay, so after crossing just a couple things off my “to do” list, here’s what it currently looks like:

1.  Five mei tais.
2.  Mail Thea’s Be Free Bees quilt.
3.  Curtain tie backs.
4.  Tote bags.
5.  Gathered clutches.
6.  Double staircase block in yellow-orange-green.  I’d love to do another tutorial.
7.  Start the process of ordering woven labels for my products.
8.  Warm colors 3.5-inch dresden wedges.
9.  I also mentioned that I pulled some of the charms from the rainbow charm swap for a dresden plate to hang in my sewing room.  They are cut out and I began constructing them.

As per usual, crossing a couple items off my list does not mean the list got shorter.  Ha!  That would make too much sense!

10.  I realized that I was several weeks behind on the Skill Builder Sampler blocks.  I have three to complete in order to catch up again.

10a.  tumbler block
10b. apple core block
10c. equilateral triangles block

11.  Kim‘s May blocks for the Bee a {modern} swapper group.  She wants large (18 inch finished, rather than the standard 12 inch) wonky star blocks in a patriotic color scheme.  I’ve pulled fabric for this project, but I really need some white (it’s ordered and on the way).
12.  Book case block for Manda.  I agreed to make one of her book case blocks in exchange for her making one of my tree blocks in the same Flickr group as above.  I’ve started planning, but haven’t gotten further than that.  Need white for this one, too.

April Be Free Bees addition: finally inspired

With April quickly slipping away and the April 30th “mail date” looming on this project, I was beginning to think that I wouldn’t get this project finished in time.  This is Thea‘s quilt in my free form robin, the “Be Free Bees.”  Thea’s starter piece was the dresden in the middle, and after two additions, this is what arrived in my mailbox in early April.

It has a lovely, understated color palette and incorporates a lot of batik fabrics, but it is well outside what I would normally choose in terms of my personal style.  And that, I think, is why I struggled with it.  I wasn’t immediately inspired because ideas that would work well in this quilt don’t live at the forefront of my mind.  I had to dig deeper, to really think about what would make nice addition and balance well with what had already been put in to this project.

I liked the curved elements in the quilt and considered going that route.

At one point, I thought about piecing strips together like a ladder along one side and then incorporating it by cutting a serpentine along one edge, and cutting away some of the existing white in a matching serpentine for some curved seams.

The blank canvas of the white made me consider appliqué, and I thought about appliquéing circles of various sizes on those white spaces.

In the end, I decided to keep it simple and go back to basics.  I incorporated some solids into the design to balance out the movement of all the printed batiks.

On one side: two large log cabin blocks, built around fussy cut flowers, with opposing warm and cool colors, and alternating batik and solids.

Along another side: framed squares, also built as a log cabin block, with the small log cabins alternating warm and cool colors.  This side is still a touch short so I will have to add a couple more strips (probably solids) before I put it all together.


Social media icons: little thing, big deal

I am so excited!!  My site now has social media icons (those little symbols under the navigation bar that link to Facebook, twitter, flickr, etc.).

They are customized to my blog’s them colors (see how the first one is the same blue as the owl and there is a color gradient to the last one, which is the same purple as the accents?!)!  They actually link out to those social media sites!  And I did it myself!

Perhaps this does not seem like a big deal.  They are, after all, just one small row of five very small icons.  However, I am an infant when it comes to technical computer-y stuff, a helpless newborn, I tell you.  So the fact that I managed to figure out not only how to get those there, but that they actually work, is HUGE.

I modified the icons in Photoshop, adding the rounded corners and changing the background color, and saved them as a .png file.  As far as actually getting them on my site and getting them to work, I owe a HUGE thanks to the author of this post, who made it seem really quite simple and without whom I wouldn’t have had clue what to do.  I also read a great tip in a WordPress forum regarding the white space between images.  To make those little images sit next to each other so that they all fit on a single line, I set the horizontal space to a negative five (-5).

And one more fun, technical tidbit: if you click on the “Contact” tab in the navigation bar, you will go to a page with an invitation to email me and my email address.  Clicking on that image will open the email client on your computer so you can just type in your email and hit send!

Go ahead; send me an email!  And while you’re at it, you can connect with me in other ways on the ‘net as well!  See you there!!

Festival of Half Square Triangles: winter table runner

Today, at noon, is the final day to enter a project in the Festival of Half Square Triangles at Canoe Ridge Creations.  And here it is, nearly 10am and I am writing this little post about a project I just finished last night very early this morning, so that I can play, too.

Yes, there are some great prizes up for grabs, but with well over 100 entries already, I realize my chances of actually winning any of them are slim.  However, I still wanted to finish this up and link up over there because these sorts of “link parties” are really great for the community aspect of them; it’s tough to get that in the digital world.

I’m really glad that this festival is happening because it provided the motivation to finish a half square triangle project that I started (and had hoped to finish) way back in January.  I thought I was being all sneaky and clever posting a sneak peek of my completed half square triangles.  They looked lovely, and I thought I would unveil the final project shortly after that.  Um … yeah, that didn’t happen.

Earlier this week, the link party for the HST festival opened up and I didn’t think I would be able to finish this project in time.  I had something to strive for, though, and some time shortly after midnight this morning, I completed the binding of my winter table runner.  Hooray!!

I wanted this to be an obvious “winter” decor item without being holiday themed so I chose to use purple, navy, ice blue, gray and white.  I designed it so that the HSTs of the same color (purple) would form the background for some snowflake appliqués.

That background purple, which I also used in the binding, is great because it has some tone on tone variation so, in person, it really adds some great texture and dimension to the project.  It’s Kona dimensions purple.  In this next photo, you can also see a little bit of the sparkle in the snowflakes.  This white, which I used for the snowflakes and also the outer white border, is Michael Miller Fairy Frost glitz zirconium.

I knew that straight line quilting would be the way to go with this project, but when I was invited to a sew/play date (which I mentioned but never posted about) with Kim, Amy, and Katie, I sought their input and they agreed that some echo quilting following the lines of the chevrons would be lovely.

The back is just pieced with some of the leftover and a few extra half square triangles.

I’m really happy with how this project turned out, and it looks great on my dining table.  Too bad it’s not really appropriate decor for April!  Ha!  At least it will be ready to go when December rolls around!


WIP Wednesday: more computer, less sewing computer

Goodness!  Wednesday already.  Time for a works in progress link-up at Freshly Pieced.

This week I became completely obsessed with choosing a font for my tagline.  As a result, a good chunk of my “me time,” which would normally be spent sewing, was instead spent on dafont.com and fontsquirrel.com and various other sources looking at fonts.  Then there was the process of pulling them up in Photoshop and auditioning them with my logo.  Phew!  So, less sewing computer, more actual computer this week.

So, I’ll review my list from last week to see where I am …

1.  Five mei tais.  Some progress.
Okay.  So, one of these is nearly finished; I just need to add the waist strap.
 Three others are completely cut out and the straps are constructed.  This is big because the straps, while arguably the most important part of the carrier, are also the least fun to make.  They are tedious to construct and when they are finished, I still have to put the whole carrier together, so no instant gratification from those seams.

2.  Be Free Bees April quilt.  No progress.  Blah.  I really need to figure out what’s up with this project because it has a solid deadline of the end of the month.  If I don’t finish and mail it by then, I’m holding up the next round of the quilt.

3.  Curtain tie backs.  No progress.  Like I mentioned last week, this won’t be a particularly difficult project, I just have to make it a priority.  I should probably ask my friend if she has a specific deadline so I don’t keep putting it off.

4.  Winter half square triangle table runner.  Some progress.  When I learned of the Festival of Half Square Triangles at Canoe Ridge Creations, I thought it would be the perfect motivation to finally finish this table runner that I had planned to finish in January.  Well, some how I completely missed that the link up for the Festival Half Square Triangles started Monday.  Ack!!  I have three (3!) days to finish this if I want to link up.  Even if I don’t meet the deadline, though, I have made progress on this project and I’m happy about that.  The back is done and today and made my “quilt sandwich.”  All that’s left is quilting and binding.
5.  Tote bags.  I would love to get the top borders on these and the inside linings cut out.  No progress.

6.  Gathered clutches.  I must finish one.  I must!  I also want to cut out the pieces for a few more.  No progress.

7.  I pulled the fabric for one more of the “double staircase” blocks I did for the 4×5 Bee.  I’d love to do another tutorial.  No progress.

8.  While only peripherally related, I am almost finished designing my business cards for my blog/not-yet-in-existence-business.  I need to finish that up and get them ordered.  Design = DONE.  Must order them.

9.  In a similar vein, I would like to start the process of ordering woven labels for my products.  No progress.  

So, there’s been a little progress this week, but no finishes.  The works in progress/to do list remains nearly the same as last week.

1.  Five mei tais.
2.  Be Free Bees April quilt.
3.  Curtain tie backs.
4.  Winter HST table runner.
5.  Tote bags.  I would love to get the top borders on these and the inside linings cut out.
6.  Gathered clutches.  Perhaps this is the week I will get some sewing done for the hypothetical/potential/future business??
7.  Double staircase block in yellow-orange-green.  I’d love to do another tutorial.
8.  Order business cards.
9.  Start the process of ordering woven labels for my products.

But of course the list got longer.  At the end of a seam, rather than pulling my thread and clipping it, I try to just run another little something through the machine.  I waste less thread that way and begin making little patchwork things that way.  This week, I was sticking dresden wedges through at the end of seams.

10.  Warm colors 3.5-inch dresden wedges.
11.  I also mentioned that I pulled some of the charms from the rainbow charm swap for a dresden plate to hang in my sewing room.  They are cut out and I began constructing them.
(looking at that photo, my ironing board cover is really gross.  I will not be adding “ironing board cover” to my list, though.  Not yet, anyway.)

Quilt square pouch + mini patchwork pouch

My youngest sister called me the other day and her lead in was this: “Em!  I think you should go back to school and get another degree!”
Me: “Um … no.”
She:  “Yes!  You really should get another degree in fashion design.”
Me:  “Ah.  So, I guess your gifts arrived and you like them?”

I was intending to make Jenn a quilt square pouch for Christmas, but it got pushed to the back burner and I didn’t get around to it until now, just in time for her birthday.  I used the quilt square I made for my sunset squared tutorial.   It’s a 12-inch quilt block, and resulted in a 12-inch square pouch.

All I had to do was add a fun, red zipper.

I picked this Michael Miller fabric to line it because it’s a great black-white-red print that coordinated with the colors in the quilt square.

I used Kona black for the back and added a patchwork strip made from the fabrics in the front of the pouch.

Since I was so terribly late on the Christmas gift, I gave myself penance and constructed a tricky patchwork pouch for her accompanying birthday gift.  The design is simple, but the tricky part is that the patchwork squares finish at just 1 inch!

I kept the reverse simple with this cute black and white polka dot print.

And I tied the two bags together as a “set” by using the same red zipper on the mini pouch.

I lined the little one with the same print as the larger one as well.

Here they are together, ready for sis to pack them up for her travels.  I think they are a great set.  The big one is large enough to pack delicates or other things you don’t want getting lost in your luggage, but it’s small enough that it can still be shoved in to the corner of a larger bag.  The mini pouch could be used for cosmetics, or jewelry, change, or even an iPod and ear buds!

Enjoy, little sister!!