10 Year Anniversary Quilt

My sister and her husband recently celebrated their 10-year wedding anniversary.  I have been wanting to make them a quilt for awhile now and this was a great occasion to commemorate.  They have three little ones, so I decided to make an oversized throw for one-to-five people to share on cold winter evenings (assuming three of those people are kiddles).

Front of 10-Year Anniversary Quilt

Front of 10-Year Anniversary Quilt

My sister is not a fan of traditional quilt blocks with uniform sizes, sashing, borders, etc., so I knew I wanted to do a quilt with an allover pattern.  I decided to use the Giggles pattern from Jaybird Quilts using the Super Sidekick Ruler I picked up at last year’s International Quilt Festival and Market.

I dove into my stash and pulled out fabrics with blue, navy, turquoise, and teal.  Here are the fabrics I picked:

Penny in Navy (Handcrafted, Alison Glass)
Grove in Blue (Sun Print Grove, Alison Glass)
Arrows in Indigo (Moonlit, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Cotton + Steel)
Netorius in Teal (Netorius, Cotton + Steel)
Static Dot in Indigo (Moonshine, Tula Pink)
Little Town in Blues (Emmy Grace, Bari J)
Tomahawk Stripe in Night (Arizona, April Rhodes)
Visionary in Winter (Shaman, Parson Gray)
Optical Origami in Shine (Urban Mod, AGF)
Nap Sak in Lake
(Modern Meadow, Joel Dewberry)
Aztec Ikat in Deepwater (Botanique, Joel Dewberry)
Squared Elements in Teal (Squared Elements, AGF)

I did a scrappy version of the Giggles pattern without a solid break.  A few great uses of the Giggles pattern can be found at Hawthorne Threads and Sara Lawson’s Sew Sweetness blog.  I used the 6″ diamond shape from the Super Sidekick Ruler and did five pairs of diamonds on the width and 12 diamonds down the height of the quilt.  I put together a scrappy back using some of the isosceles trapezoids that I had left over from cutting my diamonds.  .

Back of 10-Year Anniversary Quilt

Back of 10-Year Anniversary Quilt

I also used a new quilt label I designed and purchased from Spoonflower, simple, but just what I needed.  I really like how it turned out and it was a great stash buster, except I love all those fabrics and will need to get more!

10-Year Anniversary Quilt featuring my new quilt label

10-Year Anniversary Quilt featuring my new quilt label

Dimensions: approximately 60″ x 80″
Batting: 100% Cotton
Binding: Navy Kona

-Stephanie, HoustonDIY


Pattern Review: Boxy Pouches FTW

I have a well documented (on Instagram) love of all things with zippers – pouches, cases, zippy bags, purses, etc.  One of the first pouches I made after I got back into sewing was the Boxy Pouch by Pink Stitches.  I first tried this pattern/tutorial for Christmas presents for family in late 2014.  I found it on Pinterest and it had been on my to-do list for a while.

I love this pattern and tutorial.  It is really easy to follow and has repeatable, lovely results. I would say it is best for an advanced beginner or intermediate sewist since some techniques will be easier if you have some experience with zipper insertion and other construction techniques.  I’ve used fusible fleece or ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable for the structure of the bag with great results.  The pattern is also easily scale-able if you have a particular size in mind.

I first made two medium and two large pouches for my aunts using Garden Bouquet by Patty Sloniger for Michael Miller.  I used long-handled purse zippers from Zipit on Etsy.

Boxy Pouches in Garden Bouquet (Patty Sloniger)

Medium and large boxy pouch made in Garden Bouquet in Violet (Patty Sloniger, Michael Miller)

Boxy Pouches in Garden Bouquet (Patty Sloniger)

Medium and Large boxy pouches in Garden Bouquet in Burgandy (Patty Sloniger, Michael Miller)

These pouches were well-received by their recipients, so I continued to make a few more for myself and other friends.  I made two for my gym bag using the two colorways of Rashida Coleman-Hale’s Gamaguchi print from Mochi (Cotton + Steel).  The fabric was perfect for my make-up, hair products, and other accouterments for early morning workouts.

Boxy Pouches in Gamaguchi (Rashida Coleman-Hale)

Medium and large boxy pouch for my gym bag

Definitely give this pattern and tutorial a try if you haven’t yet.  It’s easy to follow and an excellent project for an advanced beginner sewist.

-Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Gray and Purple Circle of Geese Mini

For a swap at the Houston Modern Quilt Guild last year, I made a purple and gray mini quilt using a circle of geese foundation paper piecing pattern. The FPP templates I used were from Piece by Number’s website (Colorwheel Geese).  This is a pretty straightforward, four-piece, 12.5″ unfinished block.

I made this a bit ago when my stash wasn’t as extensive.  I stuck with my mainstay colors of gray and a gradient of purple.  I made the block and added some quick borders.  I’m usually not a huge fan of borders, but in this case I wanted the mini to be a bit more substantial.

I added some quilting to accentuate the circular layout of the geese and a purple border.

Gray and Purple Circle of Geese Mini

Gray and Purple Circle of Geese Mini

The swap was fun and I received a lovely mini from Amy at House of Bad Cats.

-Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Tutorial: Sewing and Quilting Design Wall

It’s well documented here that I have a great, although small, sewing room. Adding a design wall has been on my list for a while and I was inspired to get it done after seeing my friend Mona’s modular design tiles.

She sent me to The Quilting Edge’s tutorial on her design wall which I used as my starting point. This tutorial is great and I only made af we modifications.


1. Gather materials and plan. I planned my design wall to maximize a small section of wall I had available. Mine was 34″ wide x 70″ tall. I wanted one continuous piece so I started with a 4′ x 8′ piece of foam insulation. You can cut multiple pieces from this for your space or use the precut foam insulation squares. When you decide your finished dimensions, you’ll need both kinds of batting with that dimension, plus at least 4″ on each side.

2. Cut out foam board. Using a metal straight edge, tape measure, and box cutter, I cut out a 34″ x 70″ piece of foam insulation. The best approach was to first score the foam with the box cutter down 1/8″ to 1/4″ into the foam using the straightedge. When the piece was fully marked, I went back and gently sawed through the whole thickness of foam with the box cutter.  It isn’t as hard as it looks, the foam is pretty forgiving and remember that if it isn’t totally straight, we’re going to have layers of batting wrapped around each edge that will smooth everything out.

3. Attach the high loft batting. This is where I deviates from The Quilted Edges’ tutorial. I wanted a bit more loft in my wall since I was using thin Warm and Natural on top so I added a layer of high loft poly batting. I used The Quilted Edges’ method of cutting a piece to size, attaching to the foam with spray adhesive, and then using duct tape to secure the batting to the back. This worked very well and I had a secure high loft batting layer.

4. Attach the top batting layer. Next, I attached the top batting layer using the same method. I used the spray adhesive on the low loft batting and glued the top batting right to that layer. I secured the back with duct tape.

Design Wall 02

After using spray adhesive on the front surface, duct tape easily secures the edges of the batting on the back.

5. Hang up your design board and start sewing!  As recommended in the tutorial, I used Command Medium Picture Hanging Sawtooth hooks to hold up my design wall.  The wall has very little weight and I used 4 hooks, 1 in each corner.

Design Wall 01

New design wall in action

Possible modifications and improvements
– Run your batting through the dryer to loosen up any creases or bumps.  I didn’t do that and wish I had.
– Consider using black batting for a different look for your sewing room.

Since making my design board I helped my mom make one for her renovated sewing room.  The great part about this tutorial and using the 4′ x 8′ piece of foam insulation, you can cut it down to fit any area of wall you have.  In my case, it was tall and skinny while my mom needed a wide, short board.

– Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Pink baby quilt for Winslow

Front of Quilt

Front of quilt with pink checkerboard

A colleague had a lovely baby girl named Winslow recently and I made her a baby quilt to celebrate.  I pulled out pink and purple fabrics from my stash and set to work.  I chose a purple flannel for the backing that would be soft and cozy for the new little bundle of joy.  For the front, I combined a pink, plaid flannel with eight pink cotton prints.  I chose a simple checkerboard design with the plaid flannel dispersed throughout.

As with all my baby quilts, I machine bound the edges.  I always feel this is more secure and up to the task of many washes and tougher use.  I used a decorative leaf stitch with variegated pink thread.

Baby quilt

Baby quilt for Winslow with solid purple back ground and pink checkerboard front

Binding detail

Binding detail with leaf stitch

Dimensions: 42″ (l) x 42″ (w), approximately
: Pink plaid and purple marbled flannel from Jo-ann’s, assorted pink quilting cottons, Aurifil pink variegated thread for binding.
Assembly: Pieced, quilted, and bound on home machine

– Stephanie , HoustonDIY


Rainbow Bright Pillow Covers

The Houston Modern Quilt Guild, which I am a proud member of, has regular swaps at our monthly meetings. In March of last year we exchanged small items with a closure and I made a yellow and black ID wallet. In April of last year, we exchanged pillow covers. The only rules were that it needed to be 16″ x 16″, 18″ x 18″, or 20″ x 20″ to fit a standard pillow form and be modern fabrics/designs.

I wanted to make something colorful so I made up a drew up a pattern after thinking about easy to assemble rectangles and giving them a modern, slightly wonky feel. I decided on a 20″ x 20″ pillow and drew out a design on graph paper.

Sketch of my design

Sketch of my design

Since I’m trying to practice free motion quilting (and quilting in general), I cut out pieces enough for 4 pillows. I use two different shades of gray for the background with the same set of 20 bright fabrics from my stash. This would be a great project to use up scraps since the cut pieces range from 1.5″ to 6.5″ x 2.5″.

After piecing all four pillows, I tried a few different techniques for the quilting – 1/4″ spaced parallel lines (pillow A), modified chevron with straight lines (pillow B), and pebbles filling in the background grays (pillows C and D). I assembled them all in the same way using a bright color zipper and scraps to cover the zipper. I followed a tutorial I found on Pinterst for a covered zipper on the backs.

Completed rainbow bright pillows with varying quilting techniques

Completed rainbow bright pillows with varying quilting techniques

I decided to keep pillows C and D for myself as a matching set, gave pillow A to the guild swap (hopefully Tammy likes it), and gifted the other to a friend. All in all, it was a fun project that was a good opportunity to be creative by designing a block, practice my quilting techniques, and practice my zipper insertion techniques.

-Stephanie, HoustonDIY

Gathered Teal and Coral Baby Quilt

Front of quilt

Front of gathered teal and coral baby quilt

A very good friend was expecting her second child – first daughter – and I wanted to make a special quilt for this little one.  The mother-to-be told be early on she was thinking of a white and gold themed nursery with some other color accents to be determined.

At the Houston Quilt show last November I was immediately drawn to a half-quarter bundle of Violet Craft’s (@violetcraft) newer color ways of Brambleberry Ridge.  My friend had made an awesome dress from the Shimmer Reflection in Teal print so I had my eye out for something like this.  The bundle I bought from Modern Quilter at the quilt show included the Coral Palette and some selections from the Lilac Palette.  I was drawn to the coral and teal fabrics with white and gold accents.

Awhile ago I saw a Crinkle Quilt pattern from the Moda Bake Shop by Palak of Make it Handmade that I’ve had in the back of my mind for awhile.  I thought this would be a fun way to showcase Violet’s beautiful fabric while give the quilt some texture for the new bundle of joy.  I adapted the pattern to make a larger quilt with more rows of gathered fabric.

Detail of quilt

Detail of gathering and quilting

Back of Quilt

Front of gathered teal and coral baby quilt

A tip if you’re interested in gathering strips like this: use a serger with differential feed capabilities.  This allowed me to simply feed the assembled strip of fabric to be gathered and the serger took care of the gathering for me.  My inexpensive serger had this feature, so it should be fairly easy to find.

Dimensions: 64″ (l) x  40″ (w), approximately
Fabrics on Front: Violet Craft’s Brambleberry Ridge Coral Palette (12 fabrics), Art Gallery Solid Elements in Snow.
Fabrics on Back: Violet Craft’s Brambleberry Ridge Coral Palette (12 fabrics), an older Riley Blake print.
Assembly: pieced, quilted, and bound on home sewing machine and serger

– Stephanie, Houston DIY

Zig zagging Trilobites – a Bryan House Quilts pattern

I was lucky enough to get my crafty hands on an early copy of Bryan House Quilts’ newest patterns, Trilobite, as a pattern tester!

Bryan House Quilts

This is an amazing pattern that is full of versatility. You can make a variety of quilts using the same two building block squares. There are 5 sizes, Youth, Throw, Twin, Queen, and King, and 5 different layouts, Trilobite, Bristled Geese, Sawtooth, Banner Geese, and Zig zag. I chose a throw version of the zig zag layout and I’m thrilled with the result.

Trilobite Quilt

Front of Trilobite Quilt based on the new Bryan House Quilts Pattern

The pattern consists of basic half-square triangles, HSTs to the experienced quilters out there, and larger right triangles. Even though the pieces are straightforward, the layouts and arrangements by Bryan house Quilts are what make the quilts so unique. The pattern was easy to follow and I had fun mixing patterned fabric with my background of navy blue. Bryan House Quilt’s two-color version is striking and modern – an instant classic.

Trilobite Quilt

Pieced back of my Trilobite Quilt based on the new Bryan House Quilts pattern

Warning, I tried my inexperienced hand at some FMQ. This was definitely the largest quilt I’ve tried to do FMQ on. I had a lot of fun and it was great practice with my free-motion and walking feet . I highlighted the parallelograms made by the zig zag pattern to practice a feather, scallop, and straight line fill pattern. I also used the color thread I was matching on the top as the bobbin thread, so the zig zag stripes stand out on the back of the quilt.

Trilobite Quilt

I was super happy with my finished Trilobite throw!

This was my first time piecing a large number of HSTs for a single project. I was a bit daunted by the 216 HSTs I would need for a throw sized Trilobite quilt, but then Becca pointed me to a tutorial on a her blog on how to make a lot of HSTs quickly. I followed this method and my HSTs went quickly and easily.

Trilobite Quilt

I followed this easy method of quickly making a large number of HSTs

In addition to this great new pattern, check our Rebecca’s new patterns in her store and her upcoming debut book, Modern Rainbows, from Stash books available for pre-order now on Amazon and in stores in February 2015. -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

Tutorial: 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

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