Parents, Paper Piecing and KC Maker Studio & Fabrics

After a nice weekend in southern Kansas, we made our way up to Kansas City on Sunday afternoon. I knew it was going to be a special Sew Together Tuesday for a couple of reasons: we were using my friend Sam Hunter’s “Bloomin’ Too” pattern and we were visiting a brand new shop: KC Maker Studio & Fabrics.

We’d worked together with Hunter’s Design Studio to get her patterns in stock for the event, plus she had all the Sweet Strips and a nice variety of Cuddle® fabrics in stock, ready to go. I felt pretty good about it, despite not having as much prep time as I would have wished.

As we were getting set up and I was making a post on Facebook about the day’s show, Hawke told me I needed to help him get something in the RV, so I started heading that way, still typing away and he started recording…

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How to Make the Buddy Bear [Sew Together Tuesday]

This week on Sew Together Tuesday, we tackled stuffed animals again. The first we did was Ellie the Elephant, a pattern from Funky Friends Factory. It’s a pattern I’ve taught quite a few times (and made at least a dozen of them), but it’s more complicated than some beginners might want to take on. The Buddy Bear from Melly & Me, on the other hand, is perfect if you haven’t really sewn stuffies or are new to sewing with Cuddle®.

Continue reading “How to Make the Buddy Bear [Sew Together Tuesday]”

This week on Sew Together Tuesday, we tackled stuffed animals again. The first we did was Ellie the Elephant, a pattern from Funky Friends Factory. It’s a pattern I’ve taught quite a few times (and made at least a dozen of them), but it’s more complicated than some beginners might want to take on. The Buddy Bear from Melly & Me, on the other hand, is perfect if you haven’t really sewn stuffies or are new to sewing with Cuddle®.

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Making Pom Poms with Luxe Cuddle fabric

There are lots of tutorials for making pom-poms with yarn, but using plushfabric is a whole other look and is super sweet for all sorts of projects.

For this project, I used Luxe Cuddle Seal Snow, polyester thread, and a little hunk of Fairfield World’s Royal Silk stuffing for this one. I’ve also used Luxe Cuddle Sherpa and Luxe Cuddle Llama with good results. You can watch the video and/or follow the steps below:

  1. Trace a 4″ circle on the wrong side of the fabric using a felt tip pen.
  2. Cut out circle using short blade scissors or a sharp artist knife (such as the OLFA SAC-1).
  3. Shake off the extra Cuddle dust. Give it a flick or two.
  4. Using a long sewing needle and polyester thread, sew a basting stitch around the entire perimeter of the circle. Each stitch should be about 1/4″ long and 1/8″ to 1/4″ away from raw edge.
  5. As you reach the end, pull the thread up a little and push in a handful of stuffing, then pull the thread up tight.
  6. Holding it tightly, knot the end.
  7. Take some big stitches across the end, forming an asterisk and pulling tightly, then knot at least twice. Push needle though the other side of the pom pom and clip thread.

I made three of these for our Sew Together Tuesday project: the Whimsy Winter Bench Pillow from Kimberbell Designs. It turned out pretty damn cute, if I do say so myself.

Give it a shot. Make some for your tree or as a garland–either would be super cute!

Happy sewing,

How I Used Jersey Knit for a Quilt Binding

When I started Allison’s t-shirt quilt, I had no intention of doing a jersey knit binding. I assumed I would back it in Cuddle® minky and probably bind it in Luxe Cuddle® [here’s how that’s done]. But then I got it back from the long-arm quilter and you know about those best laid plans and all…

I decided spontaneously to bind with the jersey knit instead, so then I had to figure out how to do it. I’d done enough binding with Cuddle®, which is a plush knit, that I new some of how it could work, but it was a whole different beast than both cotton binding and Cuddle® binding.

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Get Your Breasts Checked

Every October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, four weeks when we can’t as easily ignore the fact that mammograms are a crucial part of staying healthy. Every year about a quarter of a million women (and an additional 2000 men) are diagnosed with breast cancer. By now we know that the earlier it is found, the better the chances of survival, and the easiest ways to find it are breast self-exams and regular mammograms.

This year I’m teaming up again with Annie and crew over at ByAnnie.com for their #sewpink initiative to help remind folks about the need to pay attention to their breasts and the changes that happen. There are a variety of designers and educators who have shared projects and I’m thrilled to be part of the group.

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Sew Together Tuesday: Sleep Mask

Teresa wearing the sleep mask she designed

This week’s Sew Together Tuesday class we finally got to do a sleep mask. This is one of those ‘duh’ projects–of course you’d use Cuddle® minky for it–but I just hadn’t gotten around to designing one yet.

I drew up the pattern and made a second version where I added some cute eyelash appliqués, though that isn’t required to be effective. I just like adding a touch of cute when I can.

Happy sewing!

Alex Anderson and I doing tutorials– whoda thunk?

I met Alex Anderson last fall at Quilt Market, years after I started following her in the quilt industry.  I look up to her immensely as she has much the same passion that I do about sewing and quilting. We both really just want everyone to find their happy place here! A lot of that passion involves teaching the basics and I’ve often admired her Alex’s ability to seem so approachable and excited in her public presentation.  The truth is, she is actually one of the nicest people I’ve met.  She knows her stuff, too.

As the head educator for Shannon Fabrics, she invited me up to her home in northern California to do some videos and I jumped at the chance.  It was a mix of fear, excitement, admiration, and joy to be honest.  But I’m so glad I did it.  We got to share some great information and I got to get over my awkwardness (or at least a bit) by the time we filmed the last video.

If you are interested in sewing with Cuddle fabrics, I think we’ve included some helpful info. Give ’em a watch and let me know what else you are curious to know.

You can see more tutorials and interview on The Quilt Show YouTube channel.

xo,

Dear Jane: My Favorite EPP Tools and Tips

I’m still plugging along, albeit very slowly, on my Dear Jane and already I’m a whole month behind. I’m trying not to panic, but I may have set up a little morning stitching time if I ever plan to keep up. Sheesh.

Work life has been busy lately with Road to California and this past week’s trip to Sewposium in Orlando. If I were thinking more clearly, I would have brought a couple of the Dear Jane blocks on the plane with me. Five-plus hours each direction is plenty of time to get some sewing done, but instead I read the entirety of A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Then I got bronchitis and still didn’t sew anything.

But I digress. Let’s talk English Paper Piecing (EPP).

This sewing/quilt-making technique has been around for  at least a couple hundred years, which seems both crazy and wonderful. I love the long history of textile arts, somehow connecting a thread between generations and continents, preserving a craft, an art for the future as well.  Luckily for us, these days, we have the high quality tools and this lovely thing called the Internet to make it a bit easier than the ladies had it back in the 1800s.

If you’re just getting started with EPP, or struggling a bit with it, let me tell you what I use and do to make it a fun and not-so-laborious venture.

•   Kai 4″ Scissors  

Small and sharp, these 4 1/2″ serrated scissors come with a cover that keeps them safe and easy to stash in the zipper pouch. Perfect for trimming pieces and clipping threads.

•   Clover Wonder Mini Clips  

I use a Wonder Clip on on the opposite end of the seam I’m stitching to keep the washi tape in place.

•   Washi Tape

Since I sew my pieces flat and washi tape keeps the seam aligned and even without trying to use pins.

•   Bottom Line thread  

Honestly, this is my favorite EPP thread by far. There are a few lightweight threads designed specifically for the task, but the Superior Threads version is super strong and never snaps. You can get it on pre-wound bobbins or spools.

•   John James needles

I like this brand, but as proven by the needle testing we did for Sew,Mama,Sew, it really is personal preference. I like a slightly longer needle without a sharp butt (I’m prone to stabbing it into my finger).

As I mentioned, I prefer to sew my pieces together when they are flat. I can get a tighter stitch that is not seen from the front. I used to simply try to clip it together, but they would slide apart. I started using blue tape because it doesn’t stick to the fabric. I switched to washi tape for the cuteness factor only.

Here’s a pictorial rundown of how I sew my pieces:

First, I pin the pattern piece to whichever fabric it needs to be made with. I’ve coded these as BG=background and G= grey.

I cut the fabric pieces as I go, trimming there to a heavy 1/4″ seam allowance. They are rarely even and often not-quite-straight, but in the end it doesn’t matter at all.

Using an obvious-color thread, I stitch right through the Dear Jane paper template. For my hexagons, apple cores, etc. I do not stitch through the paper, but because this project will live for a long time in a box and there are a lot of triangles and squares, I want to make there that papers don’t shift as I sew and then store them.

I get each square going by sewing just two pieces at a time. As I get pairs together, I’ll start putting the pairs together. No matter the order of assembly, all the seams start this way.

From the right side, I tape the pieces together, making sure the edges are even and correctly aligned.  Then I clip the end that I’ll sew last o that it all stays in place as I make my way across the seam. One of the issues I have when I don’t do this is that the pieces shift ever so slightly and the end won’t match.

I start by knotting the thread and securing it away from the corner/edge. Then I stab the needle through the very corner of each piece.

Working my way across the edge, I take tiny stitches, then tug them tight. It might look a little crazy-making, but once you get a rhythm going they piece together pretty quickly.  In the end, the stitches look fine from the back and are invisible from the right side.

  

I toss these back into my little zip pouch and keep putting them together, two pieces at a time until the block is finished. Now that life is a little more on-track, I’m hoping to get a few of these done this week. I’ve already got the templates for Rows B and C waiting for me, so I have to try to catch up a bit!

Are you doing the Dear Jane, too? How are your blocks coming along? Check out everyone else’s blocks on Instagram with a quick search of @dearjanegoesepp.

Just keep stitching!