Sewing

Tutorial Tuesday #12 - Frosted Felt Conversation Heart Cookies

I love making frosted sugar cookies for Valentines Day, but after all the sugar overload from the holidays I really didn't want the temptation of more sweets around. So this year I decided to make my cookies from wool felt. 

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(My darling chippy metal cake stand was purchased here.)

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You can make these fun cookies from wool, felt or my favorite, wool felt. You'll just need a fabric that doesn't fray since all the raw edges are left exposed.

I know many of you will have what you need to make this project but for those who may need some supplies, here's where I buy my wool felt. Many of you know Barri from Bareroots and her adorable original stitchery patterns and kits. Barri not only carries complete kits, but also has a great selection of wool felt and all the general necessities for stitching on wool felt. 

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I need to tell you that I am not an expert on stitching on wool. Lots of you have more experience so please be gentle. Tinysmile

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I'm just going to share with you what I found to work best for me. Do share with us any additional tips that work for you in the comment section below.

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First off, I want you to know that I always prewash my wool felt. Since it's a blend of wool and rayon (percentages will vary with colors) it will fluff up just slightly when washed. I personally like the look of washed wool felt - it's no so flat and perfect looking. To wash I just run it under warm water then lay it flat to dry.

The biggest challenge when working with wool felt is that you can't see though it like you can with most regular fabrics. Getting your stitchery design onto the felt can be a challenge. I've tried several methods; tracing the design onto tissue paper and waxed paper, both with less than the desired results. Because you stitch through the traced lines the paper wants to tear as you stitch and makes it difficult to see what you're doing.

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I ended up going over all the stitches a second time and that was just too time consuming. I settled on tracing the words onto lightweight tearway stabilizer. The stabilizer stayed in one piece until my stitches were complete then I gently tore the stabilizer away and picked the residue out from under the stitches.

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This took no time at all and I liked the results when I was done. If you have done any machine  embroidery or applique, you probably already have non fusible tearway stabilizer on hand.

You can also just draw your letters free hand onto the small felt heart with a chalk or washout pen if you like your handwriting. I needed the help of a pattern so typed up some letters using a font that I liked and included it here: Download Conversation hearts here

Although you can just cut a heart from folded paper I've also included the heart pattern here mostly for size :Download Hearts pattern here

You'll want your smaller heart to be about 1/4" to 3/8" smaller than the larger heart all the way around. Less than perfect is perfect! Wink

I used either three strands of embroidery floss or #8 perle cotton for this project, depending on the colors that I had.

I've also inserted a YouTube video here for those who need a refresher on how to do a backstitch for the words. (This is not my voice or video).

After stitching the words onto the small heart I used a blanket stitch to attach the small heart to the larger heart then connected the two large hearts using a blanket stitch. I stuffed the heart lightly before closing. Here's a refresher on the blanket Stitch: 

If you're still with me, know that typing this tutorial took way more time than actually making the hearts. I hope you found it helpful and that it encourages you to try some hand embroidery. It's a great cozy up to the fire project for the cold winter months ahead.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Tutorial Tuesday #10 - Scalloped Edged Kitchen Towels

I'm sure there must be a dozen ways to add a scalloped fabric strip to a towel but I'm going to share with you how I did it. I wanted this project to be fast and fuss free and honestly, I just made it up as I went - never dreaming anyone would ask me for directions. Now that you have, here's how I did them:

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I recently found these darling kitchen towels at World Market and thought they would be sweet with a fabric band across the bottom and maybe some rick rack and a few buttons. They are precious as is but since I love to embellish, I wanted to add something to give them more of a handmade look and I thought the scallops just made them a little more fun than a plain, straight band. This time of year we are always in need of a hostess gift or something small for a neighbor. Added to a tray of cookies I think these would make a perfect inexpensive gift.

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The first thing I usually do after purchasing my towels is to dig into my fabric stash and audition some creative possibilities. I've found taking a quick photo with my phone gives me a good first impression of how it will all look together.

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Once you've made your selection you'll need a strip of fabric about 10" wide by 22" long or two strips 5" wide by 22" long. (I was using scraps so I sometimes had to have a seam across the top instead of the preferred fold).

If you don't already own Lori Holt's Circle Rulers you might want to put them on your Christmas list. I find myself reaching for these so often (I use the larger  9" one for my round Mug Rugs and the loong overdue second part of that tutorial is up next - I promise).

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Making the paper pattern:

For those of you that don't have the Circle Rulers I've come up with a way to make the scallops with a Solo cup (you could also use a clear drinking glass). You will need a 4" circle for this project (although really any size can work - that's just the size I used here). 

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In the photo above you can see that I cut the white rim from a Solo cup (you'll want to be able to see the center of your circle so cutting it away helps that). I was trying to replicate the Circle Ruler, so I marked the horizontal and vertical lines with a sharpie on the plastic rim. You will need these marks later to make your scallops.

You can see in the photo below more clearly the marks I made. I think the easiest way to do that is to draw intersecting lines on paper, then center the circular rim on the lines and mark the four quarters. As you can see, the Circle Ruler has done all that for you, plus it has a center mark, so it just eliminates all that work. Dear Santa... Smiley

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I then taped two sheets of legal sized copy paper together so that they would be slightly longer than my towel was wide (24") then I cut the long strip of paper 4 1/2" deep and ended up with a strip of paper 24" X 4 1/2". Graph paper would be great here, but I didn't have any).

Next I folded the paper strip in half and drew a line down the middle 2" from the bottom edge*. see note at the end of this post

Starting at the fold I marked a quarter circle. Notice how the vertical marks line up with the fold and the horizontal marks line up to the line down the middle.

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Next I marked the second scallop but learned the hard way to leave a 1/4" space between the scallops. Your scallops will not lay flat if they don't have this space between them (at least mine didn't). Cry

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Continue to mark your scallops on the paper. You should have a total of two and a half scallops from the fold.

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Next you will cut the paper scallops on the drawn line. It should look like this when opened - a total of five full scallops plus those little tabs at the ends.

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Once the pattern is made you're ready to sew. Remember this pattern can be used over and over so although it takes a few minutes to make, the whole project goes quickly once it's done.

Sewing:

Pin your paper pattern to your fabric with right sides together. If you had fabric that is 10" wide place the long straight top edge on the fold. Otherwise you will have a seam across that edge. I've done it both ways and it works fine either way.

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Now, simply sew around the paper. No need to trace the pattern. I did shorten my stitch length a bit. 

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Be sure and leave the tab ends open because that's how you'll turn the fabric right side out.

Trim seams 1/8" from stitching lines and clip those spaces between the scallops with a V cut up to the inside points.

Turn right side out through one end and using a Point Turner, coax the seams open. Need an inexpensive little gift for a sewing buddy? This is seriously my favorite sewing notion and has been forever! 

Press.  

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At this point you'll have a finished strip about 4 1/2" wide and slightly longer than your towel with raw edges on each end.

Match the centers of your towel and fabric strip and pin the strip to the towel with the top of the strip at the hem line of the towel.

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Tuck in the extra fabric at each end of the strip and press. The fabric strip should now be the same length as the width of the towel.

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You can now insert rick rack or lace 

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then top stitch close to the edge, connecting the fabric strip and trim to the towel. Top stitch the two folded ends closed.

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You now can add buttons and some hand stitching if you'd like. I think the big stitches add so much but you could certainly top stitch the scallops on the sewing machine if you're short on time.

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*One more thing. You can vary the depth of the scallops by how far up from the bottom of your pattern paper you mark your center line as shown below.

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You can see the difference in the two patterns below. No right or wrong, just slightly different.

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I sure hope this was clear. I am not a pattern writer (boy could I share stories to prove that fact), but I wanted to share with you how I added the fabric to my towels. Please let me know if you have questions.

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Season's Greetings friends and Merry Christmas!

Encourage one another,

Suzanne




 


Tutorial Tuesday #8 - Sewn Silk Velvet Pumpkins

 

A few of you have asked how I made these silk velvet pumpkins so before I move on to Christmas (you know it's coming) I thought I'd do a really quick tutorial here.

First off you guys, I love this silk velvet from prismsilks.com! If you like the luxurious look of these I definitely think this fabric is worth the splurge. Look at their iridescent velvets. So yummy! You will need at least an 18" square of velvet for this size pumpkin so their fat quarters are perfect for a pumpkin like the one below with enough left over for acorns. Get 10% off your order with code "prism16".

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I've learned a lot this fall while making so many pumpkins and wanted to document it here.

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Any size works so use all your scraps and make various sizes. A seven inch round makes those tiny pumpkins like you find in the grocery store.

Using super heavy thread or dental floss, gather 1/4" from the raw edge of your circle. 

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You can fill it completely with pellets if you'd like. Experiment.

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Then finish off with fiberfill.

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Pull your thread tight and sew the opening closed. Knot thread and cut.

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I used a doll needle to sculpt my pumpkin - just pulling the stuffing up toward the top. This is optional since they are cute just as they are.


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Apply hot glue to the dried pumpkin stem and hold it while it dries.

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That's it! It takes about thirty minutes to make one and with the beautiful array of colors of silk velvet that's available, you can make them to match your decor. Because you're using real pumpkin stems, no two will look alike. So fun!

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Don't forget to save your pumpkin stems from this years jack-o-lanterns for next years elegant velvet pumpkins.

Encourage one another,

Suzanne


Welcome to My Swym and a Few Things I've Figured Out Along the Way

When we moved to Kansas two years ago I doubted I'd ever want to sew again. My entire life had been surrounded by creativity but I thought that was all behind me. I was ready for a change.

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The small room at the bottom of the stairs in our new home would make a wonderful sewing room but I had no desire for it to be anything other than the gym that the previous owners had designed it to be. So before we moved we sold my sewing room furniture and loaded up the treadmill. Goodbye California, hello a whole new life in Kansas City.

Umm...ya...well, not exactly.

Many of you know that my progressive idiopathic peripheral neuropathy is the reason we relocated to KC. Not knowing where this medical condition would lead, we felt it best to be near our son and his family. I am so thankful for that nudge. I'm sure Bill and I would still be working if it hadn't been for my health issues. I mention this only to explain the importance of that beast of a treadmill.

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It has become an important part of my wellbeing. Although doctors can't tell us why I have neuropathy, I have figured out on my own that I feel better when I eat "clean" and move. I also have figured out that I truly enjoy the comforts that air conditioning and heat can bring, so the treadmill needs to stay right here, in the house.

One morning while walking on the treadmill I got to thinking that perhaps I could incorporate a sewing room into the gym, a "Swym", if you will. It wouldn't be perfect - there were no windows or natural light. There was carpet instead of my preferred hardwood floor and no storage in this oddly shaped, mirror lined room. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I could make it work. 


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I started researching sewing cabinets but couldn't find anything that I thought would work. About that time I received a catalog from Ballard Designs. I knew their office furniture because I had used it in my office at Strawberry Patches.  I loved it because I could configure it however I wanted, they offered the corner unit that I was looking for, it came preassembled and it was all 25% off.

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After running my ideas by Bill I ordered it and it arrived five days later.

Welcome to my swym...

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The wooden Cathedral arches are from Kirkland's and helped break up the mirrored wall. 

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Both of the inexpensive lamps are also from Kirkland's and help a lot with the lack of light.


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My comfy adjustable chair is from Pottery Barn

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and I found that cute Fall pillow at Kirkland's too.

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There was a small closet in this room that housed a radon detector (?) and the electrical panels for the house. After relocating Bill's golf clubs I had room for a storage cart to hold most of my fabric boxes

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and over the door storage units for my doodads - all from The Container Store.

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Is it perfect?

No.

But, you know what?

It's perfect for me, right now. It's organized, cozy and most of my stuff is right here at the ready.

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One more thing I've figured out along the way. It's important for me to stay positive and to look to the future with excitement, enthusiasm and optimism.

As my sign says, nobody said it would be easy. I think sometimes what is easy is to sit back and wring our hands and say, "Why me"?

I prefer to ask, "Why me? - how did I get so stink'n blessed"? 

Now, except for that one hour a day on the treadmill I have all day to do what I have always loved to do in a fabulous redesigned space - 

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Encourage one another,

Suzanne

 *Please feel free to ask questions about any of the items mentioned in this post. I was able to find discounts above the discounts advertised in the current Ballard Catalog and Kirkland's offers daily discounts through their app for regularly priced merchandise. Hey, all the more money to spend on new fabric. Right?

 


Tutorial Tuesday #5 - Cheaters DO Prosper and A Tale of Two Needles

Don't let all of these tiny, postage stamp sized squares fool you

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These projects are deceivingly fast and easy to do

 

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with no piecing or quilting experience required.

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All you need is cute "cheater" fabric with uniformly printed "patches", twin needles and the ability to sew a straight line.

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I had these two cheater fabrics and wanted to make them look like I'd meticulously pieced them, so working from the wrong side of the fabric, I simply finger pressed the fabric on the line formed by the print of the squares and sewed along the fold with a 1/16" seam. I did all the vertical lines then

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pressed them in one direction

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then sewed the horizontal lines and pressed them in one direction.

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When all the lines were sewn and pressed it looked like this on the front.

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Doesn't it look like I pieced all those little squares together?

Now to quilt it. I layered a thin piece of baby flannel on the back and started sewing just to the left and right of each seam, but as I was machine quilting this, going up and back, sewing on each side of the seams, I got to thinking; I wonder if a twin needle would work?

Could I sew one stitching line that looked like I had sewn two?

Cover twice the ground in half the time?

The answer was YES!

So, you know me, I just had to share, but first a little history:

Back in the day, when I used to sell sewing machines, I often started the conversation with the prospective machine buyer by asking her what she was looking for in a new sewing machine. Surprisingly, many times the reply would be, "I want to be able to use twin needles".

Well, that was an easy one because almost every sewing machine can accommodate twin or double needles.

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A twin needle is actually just two needles joined on one shank that's inserted into the machine as you would a single needle. The two needles create rows of parallel stitching lines and can be used in almost any machine with zigzag sewing capabilities.

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You will need two spools of thread, one for each needle and of course just one bobbin. (The black fuzz is optional).

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Be sure your machine has a zigzag foot and a needle plate with a horizontal hole large enough to accommodate the width of the two needles so as to avoid needle breakage. Check your owners manual for threading guidelines.

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The stitches are formed by the bobbin thread doing a slight zig zag stitch on the back side of your fabric so as to catch the two top parallel stiches. All you have to do is thread the two needles and your machine will magically know what to do. They're smart like that.

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I think some of the mystery in knowing which twin needles to purchase is understanding the sizing.  I admit, at first, it can be confusing. When shopping for twin needles, look at the two number designations, such as 3.0/90. The first number indicates the spacing between the two needles in millimeters (in this case the needles are 3 millimeters apart), and the second number indicates the actual size of the needles (90/14 - perfect for cottons with a thin batting). Needles come spaced from 1.6 to 8 millimeters, but note that not all widths can be used on all machines; check your owner's manual for width limitations.

Just like regular single needles, twin needles also come in various types like metallic, universal, denim and stretch.

For the projects I am showing here I used universal twin needles in size 3.0/90.

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I used foot #10 on my BERNINA (an edgestitch foot) and simply sewed with the center guide of the foot following along the seam of the squares. The twin needles created a double line of straight stitches, one on each side of the seam. I quilted my fabric in half the time! I want to add here that the twin needles made for a neater looking topstitch than the conventional method. I'm not sure why but it looked neater. 

After your fabric is quilted, you'll cut out your project. Your squares will shrink in both directions by about 1/4" due to the tiny tucks you created to make the print look like patchwork so you'll want to do the "piecing" and quilting before you cut out your project.

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 Doesn't it look like I meticulously pieced the fabric for this sweet little pouch?

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Such fun projects made to look like they were lots more complicated and time consuming than they actually were!

I'll list the websites below where I found the two fabrics that I used for these projects. I know that they are older fabrics and can be really hard to find. Hopefully you'll have something in your stash that you can try these techniques on.

Please feel free to ask questions, I'd love to hear from you!

Encourage one another,

Suzanne

Blue patchwork fabric and other Pam Kitty Garden fabrics - www.keepsakecottagefabrics.com

Pink patchwork fabric and red Jelly Clip (size medium) for pouch - www.daisycottagegoods.etsy.com