Michael Miller Fabrics Miniquilt

The Modern Quilt Guild recently had a Michael Miller Challenge in which all members who wanted to participate were given fabric samples (fat eights) of Michael Miller’s new Petal Pinwheels fabric line.  I decided to make a mini quilt for a friend who I thought would like the colors in this cheerful fabric.

I also wanted to practice foundation paper piecing (FPP) so I chose PennyLane by 627Handworks that I linked from Wombat Quilts.  It was a cute design with enough pieces that I could represent most of the fabrics.

Front of Michael Miller Challenge Mini Quilt

Front of Michael Miller Challenge Mini Quilt

Back of Michael Miller Challenge Mini Quilt

Back of Michael Miller Challenge Mini Quilt

Overall,  I think it turned out pretty good, but I would change a few things next time:

- The fabric designs were too large a scale for these small pattern pieces.  This pattern is lovely and may look better with solids, low volume, and blenders with larger scale pattern fabrics.
– I don’t love the pebble quilting I did in two of the quadrants of the main medallion.  I like to practice my pebbling, but it turned out too busy on top of the main elements. The pebbling on the solid coral looks much better and is a better example of how pebbling can highlight low volume or solid fabrics.
– I tried my hand at 1/4″ binding for the first time.  I hand sewed the back, but ended up with dog ears on most of my corners.  I need a bit more practice.

I want to give a big thank you to Michael Miller Fabrics and the MQG for this challenge!

-Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Pattern Review: Easy Toddler Girl Dresses (Simplicity 2377)

I thought I’d post a pattern review for some toddler girl dresses I made recently using Simplicity 2377 (from the easy-to-sew collection).  This was a pretty great pattern and perfect for using some Tutti Frutti fabric I had recently procured.

This pattern is for six different variations of the same basic peasant dress with gathered sleeves or flutter sleeves.  I ended up making 4 dresses, 2 each for my adorable nieces.  Each girl got a gathered sleeve and a flutter sleeve.  They are 3 and 5 years old, but tall as beanpoles so I made a few adjustments and ended up making sizes 6, 7, 7-long, and 8.  I made different sizes since sewing long distance doesn’t allow for any fitting.  I had their measurements to go off of, but I thought variety was best.

First two dresses ready for the girls

First two dresses ready for the girls

Overall, the pattern was very easy to understand and follow and had minimal steps.  The gathered neck and sleeves were really easy to do and would allow for easy adjustments if needed.  All the dresses had ties at the empire waist to also help with the fit and the flutter sleeves has enclosed nice bias tape edges.

I followed the advice of a few bloggers I’ve seen (I can’t find any useful pins to share!) to press on the top thread of your machine to create additional tension to produce the gathering as you go.  This is a primo method to make easy gathers and you can adjust the gathering as you go based on how much you press down.  I’ve never been good at gathers with just a large basting stitch and this technique (in repetition) made me very comfortable with gathering using this technique in the future.

Second two dresses - pink, pink, pink!

Second two dresses – pink, pink, pink!

Modifications I made:
—  I made a 7-long for my 5-year old niece that is 33 inches tall.  I used all the size 7 pieces, but cut the skirt to the size 8 length – basically adding about 2 inches.  This is straightforward to do and could be done to shorten the dress into a tunic.

–  I added more flutter to my flutter sleeves. The project was inspired by a pin my sister sent me of an adorable flutter sleeve dress (that I hope to still replicate someday) that had full flutters (It’s Always Autumn’s Simple Girl’s Sundress).  I added about 2 inches at the widest point to the patterns flutter sleeves to get a fuller look.

–  I added buttons as an embellishment on the chest of one of the dresses (not shown in pictures)

- Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Tips on Sewing a Custom Roman Shade

Close-up of Ribbon Detail on Shade

Close-up of Ribbon Detail on Shade

I was recently commissioned (i.e. asked very nicely) to make a custom roman shade for my friends’ new nursery. The job was first planned in the months leading up to the birth and the shade was installed when cute little Ellis was a few weeks old.

The couple wanted a shade in solid navy to complement the room. They looked into ordering one and got quotes of upwards of $800. I knew I could make it with a little Pinterest-ing and sewing time. After some research and fabric shopping, they decided on a navy thick weave upholstery fabric with a 3″ green grosgrain ribbon edge detail. We purchase the navy upholstery fabric and blackout fabric at High Fashion Fabrics, an excellent local Houston decorating fabric emporium and the 3″ grosgrain ribbon from TeaPartyRibbons on Etsy. The remaining supplies were from Home Depot and Joann’s (supply list in reference tutorial post).

Tha main challenge with this project is the size of the window – about 70″ wide x 58″ tall. They wanted it to be all one shade rather than two, which meant that wide width would add some complexity since there would have to be a seam to cover the whole window. After searching for tutorials, I found one that was very helpful. I won’t rephrase those instructions, but comment on modifications I made.

How to Make Custom Roman Shades by Brown Paper Packages
This was the main tutorial I followed. It is a great tutorial and carefully explains what materials you need (tube tape is one of the best crafting inventions ever! Never roman shade without it! I’m not kidding, ring tape is sooooo 1990s). She has very clear instructions on how to space your tube tape and drapery cord lines to make sure everything is well supported and a great materials list with formulas for calculating what you need to purchase – drapery cord, tube tape, lining, wood for mounting, etc.

I followed Brown Paper Packages’ instructions for the most part. I had to make some changes due to my width and I changed the side edges. Since we were adding the edge detail with the green ribbon, I created the front navy piece from three panels and hid the seams under the ribbon. For the blackout fabric, I made a vertical seam in the center. Offsetting the seams in the front and blackout panels also helped reduce fabric bulk when it was hung.

I followed the advice from another blog post (I’m bummed I can’t find the reference!) for the edges. I wanted the navy to wrap around the edge for a more finished look. I measured my panels so the navy wrapped 2″ onto the back.  The technique is to create the front panel 4 inches wider and the lining 4 inches thinner than the finished width. Then, stitch them together along each side at the appropriate point in the process.  This creates a 2 inch wrap around of the front fabric.

The ribbon embellishment created additional complexity. I wanted to sew over the grosgrain ribbon as little as possible while achieving a finished look – that is, as little visible sewing as possible. It required additional hand sewing, but I think it was worth it. Here is a summary of the steps I took for assembly that differed slightly from the referenced tutorial to eliminate the need to sew over the ribbon.

Assembly Steps:
1. Assemble blackout fabric lining panel (vertical seam in middle of panel) and hem bottom edge. I used a 1″ seam.

2. Assemble front panel from three pieces of fabric with two vertical seams where you want the ribbon to be. The outer edge of my ribbons are about 8″ from the finished edge. For a thinner window, you would likely have them closer to the edge.

3. Sew on the two vertical pieces of ribbon over the seams. I sewed an 1/8″ seam on each edge of the ribbon.

4. Hem the bottom edge of the front panel, switching thread colors when sewing over the ribbon. I sewed with navy thread in the three sections of fabric and then switched to green thread to sew over the ribbons. I sewed a 2″ hem to correspond with the 2″ overlap the navy will have in the sides. (Note: this is the only visible time I sew over the ribbon in this project.  I sew over it in step 7 with the horizontal ribbon)

5. Sew front and lining/blackout panels together on both sides with right sides together. I positioned the blackout panel about 2″ about above the front section to match the 2″ overlap in the sides. Flip right sides out. (Because of the size of this shade, I double checked all my measurements at this point)

6. Flatten the shade so the navy overlap on each side is equal at 2″ wide. I sewed down the length of each side about 1″ from the edge to keep everything together. I only did this step because the thick weave upholstery fabric completely hid my stitches. I wouldn’t recommend this on other fabrics that will show stitching unless you want that seam visible. You could also hand or machine baste the sides at this point. I felt it was helpful to steady the piece for the next steps.

7. Based on where I knew my lowest tube tape would be positioned, about 6 inches above the bottom hem, I was able to attach the horizontal ribbon to the shade, sewing through both layers. Depending in your spacing and shade dimensions, you may need to sew on the tube tape first or slightly adjust the position of the tube tape near where you want to sew on any ribbon embellishment.

8. Next, I followed Brown Paper Packages’ instructions in sewing on the tube tape. I sewed from the back (top thread white, bobbin in navy), but the big difference for me was that I did not sew over the ribbon embellishment. While pinning each length of tube tape, I also pinned to indicate the edges of the ribbon and did not sew over them.

9. Another difference was the edges since I wanted the navy overlap. I left about 1 inch of tube tape at each end. My shade had 6 rows of tube tape to cover the 58″ height.

9. Because of my desire to not to sew over the ribbon, I now had some hand sewing to do. I hand tacked the end of each tube tape row by tuning under about 0.5 inches and sewing it down with a hidden stitch. The tape ended about 0.25 to 0.5 inches from the edge of the shade. I also hand tacked the two edges of the horizontal ribbon. I folded a bit under to match the edge where eye navy stopped, 2″ in from the edge.

10. At this point I went back to following Brown Paper Packages’ tutorial for adding the drapery cord (I had 8 cords for my width!), covering the top wood piece with navy fabric, adding eyelet screws, and mounting it in the window. Instead of the Velcro that Brown Paper Packages’ used, installed the shade to the top wood piece and mounted it directly to the window frame. After hanging we inserted 3/8″ diameter wooden dowels in the tube tape to get crisp pleats. This is a must unless you have a very thin shade and so easy with the tube tape.

Overall, the project turned out pretty well. The navy fabric stretched a bit at the top because of the thick open weave, but it was able to be installed pretty well.

Roman shade installed in the nursery

Roman shade installed in the nursery

One word of warning when working with blackout fabric – it is not self healing. Because of the plastic layers used to create an opaque fabric, the fabric does not heal after being punctured with a needle. Therefore, take your time when sewing it since ripping out stitches will leave small holes through which light can pass. This was an issue in this project because the navy fabric had such an open weave. When the shade was hung and the bright sun was outside the window, I could see each seam of the tube tape across the shade. It’s probably something only a DIYer would notice, but worth mentioning.

-Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Hexagons That Were Made Easy

My guild, the Houston Modern Quilt Guild, recently had a workshop with Jen Eskridge, author of Hexagons Made Easy.  It was a great class where Jen shared her stories of publishing three books and her years of quilting experience.  She taught us the technique from her Hexagons Made Easy book and it was an enjoyable class with my guild colleagues.

The course provided a fabric kit with Art Gallery Fabrics (Bespoken by Pat Bravo) with hexagons in dark purple prints, a turquoise and a purple fabric for the main parts of the quilt, and a striped fabric for the binding.  I decided to use all the dark purple hexagons and make the front and back out of the turquoise or purple.  I arranged the hexagons in an organized pattern starting in the corner with a few that disperse out.  I did the same pattern mirrored on the other side.  I sewed on all the hexagons with a 1/4″ seam before assembling the quilt.

Turquoise side of the hexagon quilt

Turquoise side of the hexagon quilt

Purple side of hexagon quilt

Purple side of hexagon quilt

For the quilting, I sewed around each hexagon with small (1/16 – 1/8″) seam through all layers.  I matched the bobbin thread to the background color of the bottom layer when I quilted each side.  Then, I finished up the quilting with a few randomly placed hexagons to cover the quilt.  All in all, it was a great technique to learn and my class sampler will hopefully make a great baby quilt.

Close up of the hexagons and quilting on the turquoise side

Close up of the hexagons and quilting on the turquoise side

- Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Little Monsters Baby Boy Quilts

When the fabric store gives you adorable flannel, you must make a baby quilt or two.  My local Jo-ann’s store closed recently and due to a few weekends of an epic liquidation sale, I was able to pick up quite a few adorable flannel prints that were perfect for baby quilts.  Since everyone and their sister seem to be having babies these days, it’s always good to have a completed baby quilt on hand for the next impromptu baby shower.

One of my recent finds was an adorable flannel with a colorful monsters pattern on a black background.  I used solid blue and red to piece a simple back to complement the monster flannel.  I had enough flannel for two small baby quilts so the each have the same back but I practiced a two different binding techniques with packaged satin binding and regular packaged binding.

Front and back of the first completed monster baby boy quilt

Front and back of the first completed monster baby boy quilt

These quilts were quick and easy to make since the print flannel was used entirely for one side.  I recommend some of the great patterned flannels at your local fabric store for the next baby shower you are invited to.

Front and back of second completed monster baby boy quilt - looks pretty similar!

Front and back of second completed monster baby boy quilt – looks pretty similar!

- Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Easy DIY Dog Leash

I was visiting some friends with a new dog and wanted to make something for the new little guy. I thought that using some of my bag making materials I could make a custom dog leash. I saw some flannel with bicycles on it that was perfect since my friend is an avid cyclist. From project conception to completion was about 60 minutes.

Completed Leash

Completed leash, ready for a furry best friend

Supplies Needed:
Fabric, 10-12″ WOF (sturdier fabric works best, but I made it work with flannel)
Strapping, nylon, 1″ wide, 6-7 foot length
Clasp with 1″ connection (I get mine from BeingBags on Etsy)
Tube turner (I think this is a must for this project)
Sewing machine
Basic sewing supplies

Instructions:
1. Cut fabric. To cover a 1″ strap, you’ll need to prepare a tube of fabric. I’ve done this a few times to cover bag straps and I always use this formula: width of fabric needed = width of strap x 2 + seam allowance x 2 + a fudge factor. I use a fudge factor of 1/4″ minimum and up to 3/8″ or 1/2″ if the fabric I’m working with is thick. This fudge factor allows you to manipulate the tube around the strapping. For this project, I used 1″ wide strapping, 1/4″ seam allowance, and 1/4″ fudge factor = 2.75″ wide fabric strip needed. I cut three strips WOF (width of fabric, selvage to selvage) at 2.75″ wide. The number of strips needed depended on the finished length of your leash.

2. Sew fabric tube. Sew the fabric strips into one long strip, attaching the ends at a 45 degree angle like you were making binding. This creates a smoother finish on the leash compared to just sewing the pieces end on end where there would be a lot of bulk at each seam. Fold the long strip of fabric in half hotdog style (i.e. long ways) with right sides together and sew a 1/4″ seam along the entire length of the raw edge. At this point you should have about a 100″ long tube with the wrong side of the fabric on the outside. If using a tube turner, sew on the end of the tube closed with a basting stich.

3. Turn the tube right side out. Turn the tube right side out using your preferred method. I use a basic tube turner but there are many methods. No need to iron since this will cover the strapping.

4. Insert strapping. Place a large safety-pin on one end of your piece of strapping. Feed the strapping into the fabric tube by leading the safety-pin through the tube and manipulating it from the outside of the tube. You’ll need to frequently pull the fabric along the strapping. Again, use your favorite method to lead the strapping into the tube.

5. Straighten the fabric. This was the most time-consuming part for me. Manipulate the fabric tube so the seam is on the edge of the strapping and the seam allowance lays flat on one side of the seam allowance the entire length of the strapping. Pin or clip as you go. This step shows the importance of having some fudge factor in your tube width. It takes a bit of time, but eventually everything is smooth and ready to sew.

6. Assemble the leash. Sew 1/8″ from both of the long edges of the strapping. This keeps the fabric in place and gives a finished look. On one end, place the fabric through the clasp and fold over 1.5″ of the strapping. Tuck the fabric to give a finished look and pin or clip in place. Sew a square 1/8″ from the edge of the folded over piece, right up to the clasp. Sew the square a few times and sew a large X inside this square to secure the clasp.

Detail of finished ends

Detail of the lead loop and clasp secured with square and X stitching

7. Create lead loop and finish. Decide at this time the finished length of leash you want. I folded over about 10″ of strapping to create a generous lead loop and allow 1.5″ of strap to sew everything in place. Once you’ve chosen your length and size of your loop, tuck in the raw edges and pin in place. As with the clasp end, sew a 1.5″ long rectangle 1/8″ from the edges with a large X inside to secure your lead loop. Now you have a great new DIY custom dog leash!

Leash in Action

The DIY leash in action with Carver, the cutest dog in Oklahoma

Recommendations for further customization:
– use 1/2″ or 1.5″ wide strapping for a petite or large dog
– use up some fabric scraps making the fabric cover out of bright and mixed-up fabric pieces
– add an embroidered name of the pet to the fabric tube before sewing for a custom embellishment.

- Stephanie, HoustonDIY

 

 

Tutorial: Cheery Berry Wreath

Cheery Berry Wreath

Cheery Berry Wreath welcoming visitors

Now that I own a home, I feel motivated to decorate for the holidays. I don’t quite have the passion or time for elaborate house bedazzling with lights and sound. I thought I’d start with a winter wreath. I wanted something that wasn’t too Christmas-y so I could keep it up longer – a cheery winter berry wreath was the ticket.  I got some simple materials from my local arts and crafts store and whipped up this wreath in under 30 minutes.

Supplies:
Wire wreath frame - I used an 18″ one from Michael’s
Fir garland or other green garland to cover frame
Floral wire
Scissors/shears
Berries!

[I bought 50 springs of berries from Michaels at an after Christmas sale. Each spring had about 10 to 12 berries on it. Depending in your wreath size and the density you want, you may need more or fewer springs.]

Instructions:
1. Prep your sprigs. For my sprigs, I removed the leaf on each one to leave only berries.  Depending on the look you want and the sprigs you buy, you could leave all or some of the leaves for a different look.

2. Cover frame with greenery.  I used a fir garland to cover the wire frame and provide a background for the berries.  I placed the garland twice around the wreath on the front, securing it with floral wire.

2. Attach your sprigs. My sprigs all had floral wire in the base that allowed me to simply wrap the end around the wire of the wreath frame. I spaced them out evenly around the wreath, attaching them on the two concentric wire rings on the frame that made up the front of the frame. I wasn’t worried about position of the sprig yet, that would be taken care on in the next step. The key is evenly spacing the sprigs.

Attach berry springs evenly around the wreath

Attach berry springs evenly around the wreath

3. Wrap your wreath in floral wire. This was the most important step, in my opinion. I wanted a smooth, uniform circle of berries so I decided to wrap the wreath in floral wire. I attached the end of the wire on my spool of floral wire and started wrapping the wire around the wreath, working my way around the wreath. I wrapped the wire about every 1 – 2 inches. The key for the look I wanted to achieve was to make sure the sprigs were all laying in the same direction. As I wrapped, I gathered them up and tucked the wire in between berries to hide it and secure the sprigs to the wreath. I went all the way around the wreath overlapping a bit with where I started.

Wrapping of wreath in progress

Wrapping of wreath in progress. Wrapping with floral wire ensures all the berries lie down in the direction you want.

This project was fairly straightforward and easy to assemble.  I love that the wreath works for fall and winter since it is too Christmas-specific.

Completed Cheery Berry Wreath - ready for your front door

Completed Cheery Berry Wreath – ready for your front door

For your project, you could easily add sprigs of other leaves, flowers, or other bling to jazz up your wreath.

- Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Baby Boy Quilt – Monogram, Spiral Aligator

The second quilt I made for my friends’ new baby was inspired by alligator fleece I found at the fabric store.  This is the second quilt for the same new bundle of joy – I also made a mixed texture plaid quilt.

Front alligator quilt

Front of finished alligator quilt

Quilt #2: Alligator Monogram Quilt
With the yellow alligator flannel I wanted to make a smaller and simpler quilt. I decided on a square with an unfinished size of about 42″ to make assembly straightforward. To add some interest, I decide to piece in a monogram “L” for the baby’s last name. I did a simple piecing with navy flannel and the alligator print flannel to make a square.

I used low loft 100% cotton batting and plain navy flannel or the backing. For the quilting, I wanted to try a technique I had seen a friend from my quilt guild (the super talented Amy from House of Bad Cats) do on a small baby quilt – an offset continuous spiral. First, I traced a circle off-center using a salad plate positioned towards the “L”. I started quilting with yellow thread on front and back by sewing around the circle. Then, after a complete circle I eased out of the circle to eventually align the very right edge of my foot with the previous seam. I had set my needle to the left of center to created about 1/2 inch distances between spirals. Just keep sewing for a while and you’ll have a continuous spiral covering your quilt. Even with lots of safety pins on the quilt sandwich, I found the flannel tended to shift a lot. I tried to minimize this when I could and squared up the edges when I was done.

Close-up of alligator quilt

Concentric circle quilting starting just outside the “L”

Next, I wanted to try the rickrack binding technique I learned in Kathy Kansier’s “Quilts with Great Edges” class at Houston festival this November. (This class is great, by the way. If you can ever take anything from Kathy, I recommend it) I added green rickrack and a blue flannel binding. The flannel was not a good choice for the binding and I ended up with very pointy dog ear corners. I must need a refresher from Kathy. Oh we’ll, it was good practice of my binding techniques.

Overall, both quilts were easy to piece, assemble, and quilt and ended up good sizes for the new bundle of joy.

Alligator quilt

Alligator quilt ready for baby!

- Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Scrappy Quilt from Jessica Darling Color Theory Workshop

As a member of the Houston Modern Quilt Guild (HMQG), I had the privilege of attending a color theory workshop by Jessica Darling at a recent guild meeting. Jessica is an awesome person and has years of experience in sewing and quilting and has a professional long arm service. Jessica led us through a color workshop using scraps everyone brought in from their stashes. We dumped the scraps on the floor and went diving into the pile to create a new project.

I was not a very good student since Jessica was encouraging us to expand outside of our normal color palette and I stick pretty closely with the cools and grays I know and love. I added some lime and dark yellow, but I wasn’t as adventurous as my guild colleagues.

Color Theory Quilt Front

Color Theory Quilt Front

Using the scraps, I made modified log cabin squares with varying sizes of squares and strips. I made about 8 squares during the workshop and came home and made 16 more. I wanted to make a throw size quilt and ended up with a top pieced into a 6 by 4 square, made from 12″ squares.

I pieced a scrappy, striped back with some gray fabric I had, using 100% cotton low loft batting, and pieced scrappy binding. I wanted to try something new for the quilting and decided on using teal and gray to make irregular triangle pattern. I’m not yet up to free motion quilting, so I stuck with straight lines and my even feed foot. I decided to hand sew the binding on the back to finish the quilt. It looks pretty good, but I think I’ll save hand binding for special quilts in the future and use my trusty binding foot. After binding, it ended up 70 x 47 inches.

Color Theory Quilt Back

Color Theory Quilt Back

I encourage you to dive into your scrap pile or hold a similar workshop with your guild or bee. It’s good practice and combining colors patterns that you may not normally think of combining.

Completed Color Theory Quilt

Completed Color Theory Quilt – ready for watching a movie on the couch

- Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Baby Boy Quilt – Navy and Green Mixed Texture Plaid

A good friend had a precious baby boy in February. The baby shower was in early December so I wanted to rebel and go off the registry to make a baby quilt. The theme of the nursery is alligators, navy blue, and green as the parents are using the Pottery Barn Kids Madras collection for the crib bedding. The Madras bedding includes various plaid pattern as well as the navy and green color scheme and alligators.

I was inspired at the fabric store by a yellow alligator flannel and a blue & green plaid fleece I found. Since they didn’t quite go together, the only solution was to make two quilts!  The description of the first is listed below with the second soon to follow.

Front Plaid Quild

Front of finished plaid baby quilt

Quilt #1: Plaid mixed-texture quilt
Once I had the plaid fleece picked out, I found matching minky and flannel to make a quilt with a variety of textures. I didn’t have a real game plan for the design of the quilt except for wanting basic rectangles and squares and as much variety as possible. I only bought a 1/3 yd of each minky so that set the basis for 5 long stripes based on the overall size I wanted. I also wanted to use as much of the plaid as possible since that was what really tied everything together.

Back Plaid Quilt

Back of finished plaid baby quilt

In the end, I pieced 5 panels the long length of the quilt and assembled it. I chose to make thin stripes of interspersed flannel and minky as a type of centerpiece. I used basic navy cotton with stripes made of flannel to make a simple geometric pattern to have some interest on the back. Even though the minky and fleece are pretty heavy, I used a 100% cotton natural loft batting. For the quilting, I used a green/spring green/yellow variegated thread from Coats & Clark. I stitched in the ditch for each of the main vertical seams and then did chevron shaped stripes using the five panels.

Plaid Quilt

Plaid quilt ready for its close up

This was my first time working with minky and there were some challenges. I’m drafting a separate post with some tips and tricks for working with minky – stay tuned.

- Stephanie, HoustonDIY