Category Archives: Sewing

Needle & Foot Blog Hop & Giveaway

I’m excited to be a part of a week-long blog hop to celebrate the expansion of my friend Bernie’s Etsy shop, Needle & Foot. Bernie recently decided to follow her heart and is now stocking a variety of modern quilting cottons in addition to her made goods, and she invited a few blogging friends to help spread the word and spark inspiration about what can be made using the fabric newly stocked in her shop. She invited me to select some fat quarters from her shop, and I’m excited to show you what I made.

She’s also generously offering a giveaway so that one lucky reader can win either 6 fat quarters or 3 half-yard cuts of fabric! Read on to find out how to enter! In addition to the giveaway at the end of this post, Bernie is offering everyone a coupon code to her new shop. Use the code NANDFREADERS15 for 15% off any order over $5.00, active through Sunday, March 26th.

needle and foot blog hop makesBut first, my makes! When Bernie first invited me to be a part of this blog hop, and asked which fabrics I’d most like to use, it was all I could do to resist her selection of Alison Glass fabrics, since, well… you know how I am with all things Alison Glass! I decided to go with a bit of variety though, with the plan to make a few small things and incorporate her fabrics into my current projects. Stash building is a totally legit way to fabric shop, right!?

needle and foot fabric selectionI ultimately selected two (2) low volume prints–Hashtags and Small Letters in black–from the Basically Low fabric line by Helen Stubbings for Red Rooster, three (3) prints from Sweet Tweets by Kim Schaefer for Andover fabrics–Rainbow on White (isn’t it gorgeous?!), Hip to Be Square Multicolor, and Cheerios on black, and I just couldn’t resist the Bumble Buzz Blue by Maureen Cracknell’s Garden Dreamer line for Art Gallery Fabrics!

buzz bumble rainbow zip pouchI probably could incorporate that Rainbow on White print into every single one of my projects somehow–the colors are just so perfect! I started out by making a half moon zippered pouch with the Rainbow on White and my Sizzix 8″ Half Oval die, and I added a meticulously cut, fused, and stitched bee from Bumble Buzz Blue as a fun embellishment. The colors play so nicely together, and there’s nothing like a little hand-stitched detail to add some extra fun to FUNctional.

buzz bumble rainbow zip pouchI lined the pouch with the Hip to be Square print, and love how festive it is. This pouch now lives in my purse, and contains two spiral bound notebooks and a couple of mechanical pencils so that I know that I will always have entertainment for my two oldest kids no matter where we may be. I will most likely add a few other items (colored pencils, maybe a matchbox car or two), but it is so nice to have a designated “kid pouch” in my purse.

rainbow zip pouchIf the kids decide they can’t share, I could always take it right back and use it to smuggle… er, transport… fabric!

garden snail snail paced sew alongI wasn’t quilt finished using that Rainbow on White, so I decided to pair some with the Basically Low Hashtag fabric and Cheerios on Black to make a block for one of my ongoing Sew-Alongs, the Garden Snail Snail Paced Sew Along hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel.  I’m using the snails to brighten up my otherwise-entirely-greenery quilt, and I think this little guy will do *just* the trick!

snail and low volumes worked into greeneryDoesn’t he look great up there!? I have also begun to incorporate both low volume fabrics into my Greenery quilt blocks, as you can see in the bottom left block. Low volumes fabrics are among my favorite to stash since there’s always a perfect project for them!

fabrics from needle and footI’m pretty set on sneaking one of these bees into the quilt somehow, too. Time will tell!

Giveaway

Now, for the giveaway! Bernie has generously offered a prize of your choice of either 6 fat quarters or 3 half-yard cuts selected from any of the available fabrics at the Needle & Foot Etsy shop.

To enter the giveaway today, tell me what fabrics from Needle & Foot you would select if you were to win. Leave a comment and make sure I’m able to get ahold of you if you win. For an additional entry, follow Needle & Foot on Instagram. For a third entry, follow Needle & Foot on Facebook. Leave a separate comment once you complete each entry.

This giveaway is open to US and international participants, but international winners must be willing to split the cost of shipping. The giveaway will be open for one week, until Wednesday March 29th at 8pm EST when I’ll select the winner randomly with random.org. Good luck!

*Please note that comment moderation is on, so if you do not see your comment right after posting, do not be alarmed! I try to respond to each and every comment I get on my blog, but with giveaway posts the numbers are usually too great to do this. 

Be sure to visit all of the other stops on the blog hop to see the nice variety of modern fabrics now stocked by Needle & Foot, and to see what everyone else made with them, and don’t forget to use coupon code NANDFREADERS15 for 15% off any order over $5.00 in the shop through Sunday, 3/26.

Blog Hop schedule:
Monday 3/20 – Cheryl @ Meadowmist Designs
Tuesday, 3/21 – Cynthia @ Quilting is More Fun Than Housework
Wednesday, 3/22  – Jayne @ Twiggy & Opal
      and Kitty @ Night Quilter – <—YOU ARE HERE
Thursday, 3/23 – Mari @ Academic Quilter
Friday, 3/24 – Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl
I’ll be linking up with Let’s Bee Social & Finish it up Friday. Happy making!

Easter Egg Pincushion Tutorial by Hillary Goodwin & Kitty Wilkin

Recently Hillary from Entropy Always Wins and I had the opportunity to meet in person after following each other’s work online for years. Both loving embroidery, repurposing textiles, creativity and the sewing community in general we plotted a tutorial that would allow us to play off each other’s creative personality and engage the greater sewing community as a whole.

A year ago Hillary made an Easter Egg shaped pincushion out of velvet and repurposed leather. We expanded on this idea and invite anyone who wants to participate to make a similar pincushion and, if interested, incorporate repurposed leather (Earth Day is coming up after all, and repurposed leather is typically thin enough to easily sew on a domestic sewing machine.) Be bold. Be brave. Let’s sew leather!

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyIn this tutorial we give everyone some guidelines but the emphasis is on PLAY and MAKING THIS PROJECT YOUR OWN. Don’t celebrate Easter? No biggie, make a similar pincushion in another shape. We will be following on Instagram so please tag your makes #eastereggpincushion (as well as tagging @nightquilter and @entropyalwayswins) so we can all enjoy. To celebrate this group project we will both randomly be giving participants some of our own pincushions as well as supplies to make them. All you need to do to be eligible is to play along, tag us, and tag #eastereggpincushion so that we can find you!

Suggested Supplies

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kitty

  • Thin leather (~6×12 inches)
  • Wool felt, velvet, jeans or any other material for the inner portion of the pincushion (~6×6 inches)
  • Embroidery hoop (a 4” hoop will *just* fit the inner egg)
  • Embroidery Egg Template (click to download-Note updated 3/20)
  • Embroidery thread (embroidery floss, perle cotton, or 12wt thread works. Use what you have!)
  • Embroidery or other needle (I use Tulip size 3 milliners)
  • Double sided fabric tape or fabric glue (optional)
  • Sewing machine with a walking foot
  • Leather sewing machine needle
  • Thread (We both used Aurifil 40wt )
  • Chalk or other removable marker (or a willingness to live on the wild side and stitch without marking)
  • Muslin or other scrap fabric (6×12 inches)
  • Craft clips (both Clover wonder clips or Evergreen Art Supply magic clips work great)
  • Small Funnel
  • Crushed Walnut shell or other favored pincushion fill

Step 1: Templates and Leather

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyPrint the Embroidery Egg Template and cut along both inner and outer egg outlines.
easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyTrace the template onto the wrong side of the leather, marking out two eggs–one with only the outline and one with both the inner and outer lines drawn.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyCarefully cut along the marked lines, remembering to cut one piece along only the outer egg outline and cut the other piece along both the inner and outer egg outlines.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittySet your leather pieces aside.

Step 2: Embroidery

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyUsing chalk or water soluble marker, trace the inner egg outline onto your embroidery surface (felt, velvet, jeans, etc) so you will know the limitations of your embroidery design.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyAdorn at your heart’s desire with embroidery, applique, etc. You are welcome to copy our experiments but please feel free to try your own ideas.

Step 3: Attach the Embroidery to the Leather Upper

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyAlign your embroidered material so that the embellishments fit within the window of your leather upper (the egg with the hole cut out of the middle).

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittySecure the right side of your embroidery to the wrong side of your leather upper with double sided tape, glue, clips, or other method.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyThen, using a ¼ or ⅛ inch seam allowance, top stitch the two together along the inner egg as shown.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kitty
Self-threading needles work wonders for threading the loose ends to the back of the piece!

Thread the top threads to the back of the piece, tie all loose ends together and trim.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyFinally, if possible, trim the seam allowance of your embroidered material carefully about ½” away from the stitched line so that it remains easily inside the outer margins of the egg.

 

Step 4: Make an inner pincushion

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyUsing only the outer margin of your Egg Template, trace and cut two pieces of muslin. Sew the two pieces together using a ¼ inch seam allowance, leaving a small opening to use for filling.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kitty

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kitty
Any guesses how many tries with the 10sec timer on my camera it took for me to get this photo? LOL

Fill with crushed walnut shell (a funnel can be helpful for this). One half cup of crushed walnut shell for this project seems to be the right amount. Use a little more if you want a more rounded pincushion. Sew the opening of the inner pincushion completely closed.

Step 5: Finishing your pincushion

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyPlace the two leather egg pieces wrong sides together and secure with clips. (Note that pinning will create visible holes in the leather–use clips!) Sew around the outer margin of the egg using a ¼ seam allowance, leaving an opening at least 3 inches long unsewn.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyStuff your filled and fully closed inner pincushion through this opening. Ensuring the inner pincushion remains entirely inside, top stitch the remaining way around the outer edge of the egg.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyThread the top threads to the back of the piece, tie all loose ends together and trim or bury.

Step 6: Share your creation with us!

Tag your pincushion on Instagram #eastereggpincushion as well as tagging @nightquilter and @entropyalwayswins, or link to a blog post about your finished pincushions in the comments below.

hillary finished pincushionhillary finished pincushionhillary finished pincushion

hillary finished pincushion
Ideas in progress…

We can’t wait to see what you create! Enjoy!!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday and TGIFF! Everyone loves a quick finish!

AG Challenge Finish: Noodlehead Diaper Pouch

Sometimes you just need a quick finish. Something small and beautiful that you made with your own hands, but that takes only hours (instead of days) to create. When Yvonne announced her Quilting Jetgirl Alison Glass Challenge as an incentive for the rest of us to get one of our Alison Glass fabric makes into the finished pile, I had a few different ideas of which of my many Alison Glass-influenced projects I should finish first. At first I thought I’d focus on the table runner I started late last year using the Insignia and Seventy-Six fabric lines, but then thought it might be the perfect boost to finally finish Max’s Eye Spy quilt that has a dominance of bright Alison Glass prints from across the years. Then I gave myself a reality check and decided to select something small. I have two big deadline projects to finish within the next month, so to be real I decided to pull a diaper pouch project off of my WIPs shelves and finish it up. I’m so glad I did!!

noodlehead diaper pouch alison glass art theory panelI made this Diaper Pouch using a free tutorial by Anna Graham of Noodlehead, found here. It took me about two (2) hours to make, start to finish, which is pretty awesome as far as projects go.

noodlehead diaper pouch alison glass art theory panelI used my all time favorite Alison Glass Print, the Art Theory Panel from her Ex Libris line as the outer panel, and lined it with Artifact in Charcoal from her Abacus line (Andover Fabrics). I was lucky enough to buy all of these fabrics, AND the cotton webbing strap from my local quilt shop Fiddlehead Artisan Supply.

I used my go-to 50wt Aurifil thread 2600-Dove for all the piecing and 50wt 2692-Black for sewing on the velcro so that the stitches would not stand out. I love that Fiddlehead also carries a good selection of Aurifil threads! One stop shopping for the win!

noodlehead diaper pouch alison glass art theory panelOf course I had to plan it so that the rainbow star from Artifact was visible right on the top. I should have given myself a tiny bit more space in that seam, but I’m not losing sleep over it. It’s gorgeous anyway!

noodlehead diaper pouch alison glass art theory panelNow instead of having a purse filled with diapers and wipes floating every which way, I can have a beautiful and function space to store them compactly, not only making the inside of my purse a bit more organized, but also making it easy for me to visually check that I have a diaper for my little one before I head out!

noodlehead diaper pouch alison glass art theory panelSince pens are another item I’m often digging for in the chaos within my gorgeous bag, I decided to store two of my favorite micron pens tucked in the corner of the diaper pouch, so that they are easily found when I think of something to add to my Quilter’s Planner Mini–my traveling to-do list, grocery list, and inspiration keeper. Pst… you can now order the Quilter’s Planner Minis individually, here. Just a PSA for the day!

noodlehead diaper pouch alison glass art theory panelThis pouch also perfectly coordinates with the amazing Alison Glass fabric bag my husband bought me for my birthday last year, made by the ever talented Kristy at Rock Baby Scissors. There’s no such thing as too much Alison Glass fabric, right?! No way!! What next?…. I’m thinking a few zip pouches to help organize the other contents of my purse. What’s your favorite simple zip pouch pattern? (Noodlehead’s Open-Wide Zippered Pouch is a fab one, but should I know about others?)

I’m linking up with Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday, and of course Yvonne’s Alison Glass Challenge. Yippee for gorgeous and functional finishes!

Christmas in July Pattern Bundle Sale – 72 hours only!

I’m not typically one to sew for the holidays, but in retrospect, perhaps it’s because I don’t begin my projects early enough to make it possible! Enter: Christmas in July.  I’m beginning to understand why the term “Christmas in July” exists–since if you want to hand stitch gifts, you should be beginning in July! If you are the type who does like to sew holiday gifts, or even just someone who loves a great deal, today is your day! Note: This sale has ended for the year! 

christmas in july Bundle Sale HeaderI’m excited to be joining a fantastic group of pattern designers to bring you a Christmas in July pattern bundle, available for $25 for three days only. There are 23+ great patterns included, as well as some great sponsor prizes. Both of my top selling foundation paper pieced patterns Lupine & Love Struck are included in the bundle, as well as a variety of other fantastic patterns by talented designers, both holiday themed and all purpose patterns great to have in your library.

Quilter's Planner IncentiveAs an extra special incentive, if you buy the bundle from me, you will also be entered to win a Quilter’s Planner 2017 Starter Kit, which includes a 2017 Quilter’s Planner as well as pens, stickers, and highlighters to help you stay organized, productive, and inspired! (Note: The winner will receive the starter kit as soon as it’s available, expected to be shipping in October). Congratulations to Sharon, the winner of the Quilter’s Planner Starter Kit!

Many thanks to Jen Frost from Faith & Fabric, who has organized this bundle sale and helped get everyone together to offer this great deal. Here’s a bit more about what’s included in the purchase of the bundle.

bundle sale contentsbundle sale participantsYou will get immediate digital download of all of the patterns shown above, plus:

– two coupon codes: one for Gotham Quilts and one for Sulky
– one entry to win a free Craftsy Class
– one entry to win a 6mo subscription to Make Modern

PLUS, as I mentioned above, if you buy the bundle HERE, you will also be entered to win a 2017 Quilter’s Planner Starter Kit, care of yours truly and my dear friend Stephanie (Late Night Quilter), the mastermind behind the Quilter’s Planner. Talk about Christmas in July! Again, congrats to Sharon!

The bundle is no longer available since the sale has ended for the year. Stay tuned next July, and for those of you who purchased the bundle, happy stitching!  The bundle is available in my Payhip shop, and will only be live for 72 hours beginning RIGHT NOW! This sale runs from Monday 3pm EST until Thursday 3pm EST, so be sure to catch it now. Once you purchase the bundle, greatly expand your library of sewing and quilt patterns, and get sewing, please share your creations using #sewchristmasinjuly on social media. We would all love to see what you create!

Bundle Sale Ended

 

 

Pin Cushion Sew Along with Fat Quarter Shop

Today I’m taking part in yet another fun, quick sew along hosted by Fat Quarter Shop. Kimberly from FQS teamed up with Sherri McConnell once again to bring you a video tutorial for a really simple and cute pin cushion, which is being released today. I definitely will be making more of these!

fat quarter shop pin cushion sew alongI really love clear video tutorials since I am very much a visual learner. Seeing each step helps make the process smooth and easy to complete without hang up or confusion. That, to me, is a big win!

fat quarter shop pin cushion sew alongI decided to make my pin cushion with a range of warm Alison Glass Sun Prints 2015 and 2016, and once it was finished, it begged to be photographed out in the garden with the peonies. Such vibrant colors need to be in colorful company.

fat quarter shop pin cushion sew alongI used a Tula Pink ribbon I won in a giveaway from Renaissance Ribbons a year or so ago as the ribbon detail, top stitched with Aurifil 40wt 2230-Medium Peony (so fitting!). I topped the pin cushion with Robert Kaufman Quilter’s Linen, which is a fabulous all-purpose blender fabric that happened to coordinate wonderfully. Aurifil 50wt 5022-Mustard was the perfect thread for hand stitching the opening in the Quilter’s Linen closed, too. I just love when perfectly coordinating fabrics and thread can be found in my stash.

fat quarter shop pin cushion sew alongI backed the pin cushion in Ex Libris Bookplate in Charcoal by Alison Glass (Andover Fabrics), and really would be tempted to use the pin cushion upside down every so often, it’s so pretty. This pin cushion is not for me, though, so the recipient can do with it as she pleases!

fat quarter shop pin cushion sew alongThis is the first pin cushion I’ve stuffed entirely with crushed walnut shell, at Sherri’s suggestion, and I really like the sturdiness and ease with which pins go into it. I bought the crushed walnut shell from a quasi-local, fabulous quilt shop, Clementine in Rockland, Maine months ago but had not yet had a chance to use it. Leah at Clementine suggested the crushed walnut shells since the oils from the nut shells help keep the pins and needles sharp and rust free. They also provide a nice, sturdy base for your pins and needles.

fat quarter shop pin cushion sew alongCheck out the video below and make your own pin cushion if you want! There’s no such thing as too many pin cushions, right?

Be sure to visit the other bloggers in the hop to help spark your inspiration and see what they did with this pin cushion:

Kitty from Night Quilter <–You’re here!

Amanda from Jedi Craft Girl

Nicole from Modern Handcraft

Jessica from Quilty Habit

Jessee from Art School Dropout

Tina from Emily Ann’s Kloset

Michele from Island Life Quilts

Angie from Gnome Angel

Sinta from Pink Pin Cushion

Melissa from Happy Quilting

Simple Zipper Bag Sew Along with Fat Quarter Shop

The school year is winding down, which means teachers’ gifts are at the forefront of my mind (along with excitement–and trepidation!–at the prospect of summer adventure day trips with all three kids). When Fat Quarter Shop invited me to join this Simper Zipper Bag Sew Along, I thought it would be a perfect teacher’s gift project. I stitched up three of the large zipper bags, added some chocolate and a personalized thank you note from my 3 year old son, and viola! Perfect heartfelt teachers’ gifts!

fqs simple zipper pouch teacher giftThese zipper bags are SO easy to make, and Fat Quarter Shop has a very clear instructional video tutorial that you can find here:

The construction of the bags is brilliant, since the lining and the outer panels are quilted together and then simply sewn together and bound–so easy! I definitely will be going back to this pattern for future gifts, and I’m thinking of making a few more to stash coloring supplies for my kids in my purse for when extra entertainment is needed.

simple zipper pouch fat quarter shop teacher giftsThis is admittedly the first time I’ve made handmade teachers’ gifts, but my son’s preschool teachers have done such a fabulous job supporting and guiding him this year, that I felt I really wanted to express my gratitude. When I asked Max if he had any idea what colors might be his teachers’ favorites, he said, “Alllllll the colors!” That’s my boy. I figured I probably couldn’t go wrong with a rainbow-esque bag, especially for preschool teachers.

fqs simple zipper pouch teacher giftI decided on a gorgeous Amy Butler fabric from my stash for the backings and then used it to pull a coordinating rainbow of some of my favorite fabrics. You can see Alison Glass, Carolyn Friedlander, Cotton + Steel–they’re all there!

fqs simple zipper pouch teacher giftI chose to use strips of fabric instead of mini charm squares, and arranged the fabrics in a way that worked with the three zippers I had on hand, making each bag unique while still having the same general aesthetic. I used the edge of my walking foot to space horizontal straight line quilting on the front, using my go-to thread, 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove. It blended perfectly with the “I love you” appliquéd hand while providing some subtle texture and interest to the rainbow fabrics.

fqs simple zipper pouch teacher giftI lined my bag with an appropriate Cotton + Steel print, Study Hall in Black and White from their Black and White Collection.

fqs simple zipper bag teacher giftI love the neat detailing that results with the construction of this bag. Sewing in the zipper is made SO easy, and the top stitching frames it nicely.

fqs simple zipper pouch teacher gift

More about that “I love you”; I think the American Sign Language (ASL) sign for “I love you” is known pretty universally, but in case you’re not familiar with it, the appliqué on each pouch is a tracing of my son’s hand making the “I love you” sign. My son is hard of hearing and wears hearing aids (when we can convince him to keep them in), and so he has a communication facilitator in addition to his two amazing teachers. His communication facilitator was fantastic, signing to him all day to increase exposure and familiarity to sign, since we are all trying to learn ASL as a family, and ensuring he heard directions during the day. The entire preschool class learned some sign language throughout the year, and the three teachers worked so well together to help ALL of the children in class have the best experience possible. When Max gave the gifts to his teachers, the “I love you” appliqué of Max’s hand was met with “awww” and a few misty eyes. I think the zipper bags were a win!

How would you use one of these Simple Zipper Bags? Be sure to visit Fat Quarter Shop and the other bloggers’ posts to see their creative takes on the pattern:

Erin from Why Not Sew?
Kitty from Night Quilter <—That’s me!
Leanne from She Can Quilt
Vanessa from Lella Boutique
Amanda from Jedi Craft Girl
Sherri from A Quilting Life
Cristy from Love You Sew
Leslie from Seasoned Homemaker
Tiffany from Tiny Seamstress

 

Have fun making your zipper bags!

Make Earth Day Every Day: Grow Pillow

Earth Day has always been one of my favorites days. I strive to fully embody the “Earth Day is Every Day” ideal with my day to day life, from adopting a whale in third grade and frequent stream clean ups as a child, to majoring in environmental science in college, to aiming to instill a love and respect for the earth and all its creatures and functions in my children. The earth is our home, and it is our responsibility to help nurture and care for it. Today seemed like the perfect day to share my newly finished pillow featuring my bean sprout foundation paper pieced pattern.

grow bean sprout pillow finishI’m calling this pillow “Grow” and it will be donated to a fundraiser auction/raffle at our local school. The theme for the fundraiser is “Growth & Gardening” so it fits perfectly!

grow bean sprout pillow finishI used my coveted Carolyn Friedlander bright green Architextures fabric (Robert Kaufman) for the sprout, with little leaves of lime linen leftover from a previous project and a dotty dark green that was in my stash, but has no selvedge. A light turquoise modern Indah batik by Me + You (Hoffman Fabrics) makes a perfect summer sky for the background. Alison Glass Sun Prints 2016 Sphere (Andover) as the border rounded out the pillow nicely. It’s bound in the remainder of the lime linen blend and backed in that same mystery, beautiful dark green fabric. I quilted the pillow front with coordinating 50wt Aurifil thread in 2800-Mint Ice, since it blends right in with both the background and the green bean sprout.

grow bean sprout pillow finishI was hoping to release the Bean Sprout Pattern today, too, but lo… life got in the way and it’s not quite ready yet. Soon, hopefully. The pattern finishes at 12″ square so I added 2″ borders all around to bring the pillow to 16″ square.

grow bean sprout pillow finishgrow bean sprout pillow finishI also inserted my very first hidden zipper in the back of this pillow, which is SO exciting! I used a fabulous tutorial by S.O.T.A.K. handmade and it worked like a charm. I am definitely installing hidden zippers in the backs of all of my pillows from now on.

grow bean sprout pillow finishNow that this pillow is finished and photographed, it will be delivered to my daughter’s school for their annual fundraising auction/raffle. Last year’s donated project taught me a lot about the art of giving, and this year’s gift seems no less serendipitous. A quilted item was needed for a growth-themed fundraiser, right as I had tested my bean sprout pattern–perfect! I’m curious to see what next year brings, and I hope this pillow is able to raise some money for our local school!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts, Needle and Thread Thursday, and TGIFF, since a finish ALWAYS warrants celebration! Now, off I go on a hike to celebrate this gorgeous Earth Day! Head on outside and love your mama!

 

Spooktacular Beanbags {Sizzix Tutorial}

Halloween is a fun time of year around our house, since my kiddos love to dress up in costumes from years past all year ’round, and the end of October means NEW costumes and candy! While I’m not really big into decorating the house for holidays (with the exception of Christmas and Easter–how can you resist those?), I do like making holiday crafts with the kids to help build excitement.

Today I’m going to share a quick tutorial for some spooktacularly sturdy beanbags, a perfect addition to a Halloween party but also a great addition to any child’s toybox. I should note, too, that beanbags are my go-to gift for two year old birthday parties. When a child turns two, I’ve found it’s really fabulous to have something you’re SUPPOSED to throw. Beanbags are such a versatile gift since they can be personalized in any way; you can change the shape, change the fabric, or personalize with applique letters or pictures. I’ve included affiliate links in this post so that if you decide to buy any of the tools I’m using, I will receive a small commission, too. I only share tools and products I love, so you can be sure they are tried, tested, and loved!

Spooktacular Beanbag Tutorial PinterestMaterials needed (to make 4 beanbags):
  • 8 charm squares of fabric
  • Sizzix fabi die cutting machine
  • BigZ L Circle die
    -OR- 8 x 5″ diameter circles of fabric
  • Sewing machine (zipper foot suggested but not required) – I use a Bernina 560
  • Iron and ironing surface
  • Thread (I used Aurifil 50wt 2600-Dove)
  • Dried beans or other filler (approx 3 cups)
  • Pins and/or Clover clips

I made my beanbags using my Sizzix fabi die cutting machine and the BigZ L Circle 5″ die. You can also use any palm-sized circle item in your kitchen to trace circles on fabric for the beanbags if you don’t have a die cutting machine.

bean bag sizzix prepI figured since it’s nearly Halloween, it was the perfect time to use my Cotton + Steel Spellbound Collaboration charm pack that I bought from Fat Quarter Shop. The 5″ circle die worked perfectly with the charm squares, which made my job even easier! I used my go-to thread, 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove for all sewing.

sizzix beanbag tutorialChoosing four pairs of coordinating charm squares, cut eight (8) 5″ circles, layering your Sizzix sandwich: bottom cutting pad, die with the blades facing up, fabric centered over the circle blade, and top cutting pad. All necessary circles for this project can be cut with one pass through the fabi, which made this a really quick project to make with my kids.

sizzix beanbag tutorial 2" openingNext, pin your pairs of fabric right sides facing. I used only four pins, two of which marked a 2″ opening. With a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the circles together, leaving 2″ open for turning and filling. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam.

sizzix beanbag tutorial
Beanbags once they have been turned. On the left are beanbags before pressing; on the right are beanbags after pressing and turning in the opening.

Turn beanbags right side out through the 2″ opening. Gently slide your finger along the seam from the inside to make sure the circle is fully turned. Press with a hot iron. Turn in the seam allowance around the opening and press, too, since that will make sewing the beanbags together much smoother once they are filled with dried beans. Since it’s a curve, this step is a little tricky (or at least it was a little tricky for me). Just remember what you’re making: these are going to be tossed and thrown and loved, and perfection is overrated!

Now comes the fun part! Grab some small dried beans (I used dried black beans), a funnel and/or spoon, and a couple of eager helpers.

sizzix beanbag tutorial filling the beanbagsFill the beanbags with dried beans, leaving at least an inch of empty space at the top. Trust me here; the beanbags will seem too empty, but while you are sewing them shut and top-stitching, you will want that extra wiggle room.

sizzix beanbag tutorial fill the beanbagsWe found that a combination of funnel, spoon, and simple “use your hands to put the beans in” worked well for us.

sizzix beanbag tutorial fill the beanbagsEither pin or clip the tops once the beanbags are filled (remember to leave that good inch or inch and a half of empty space in the top). This will both remind you that the beanbag is “finished filling”, and remind your kiddos not to cram any more beans into it. (We definitely took as many beans out of the beanbags as we put it. All part of the fun, right!?)

sizzix beanbag tutorial fill the beanbagsDepending on the size of your helpers, this may be a messy activity. Plan accordingly, or embrace the chaos.

sizzix beanbag tutorial sew closed
Needle between foot and beanbag.

Once all of your beanbags are sufficiently filled, head back to the sewing machine and topstitch about 1/8″ inch from the edge of the beanbag, beginning by sewing the opening closed. This extra round of sewing will securely close the opening, and will also provide extra durability for the entire beanbag. I made some beanbags for my nearly-six year old when she turned two, and they are still going strong in our playroom.

sizzix beanbag tutorial sew closed
Foot between needle and beanbag = winning combination for me.

I used my zipper foot to sew these beanbags closed, and sewed most of them with the needle between the foot and the beanbag (shown in the top photo above). It proved more finicky than I remembered, so with the final beanbag, I moved the needle so that the foot was between the needle and the beanbag (shown in the photo above). This worked much more smoothly for me. As you sew around the edges of the beanbag, stop every couple inches with the needle down to reposition the beans, pushing them away from the part of the beanbag you are about to sew. Sew all the way around each beanbag.

sizzix beanbag tutorialsizzix beanbag tutorialNow you have a handful of spooktacular sturdy beanbags and you’re ready for fun! Toss them at pumpkins, into trick-or-treat buckets, or at each other (avoid faces!). Have fun!

 

3 Tips on Making Time to Sew Daily: #sewtake20

We all have busy lives. Whether it’s work, family, hobbies, friends, or chores that fill your days, there’s always something that needs to be done. As a full time mom with a newborn, I know that there is an endless list of chores–laundry, dishes, cooking, vacuuming, gardening, cleaning up after two busy toddlers, did I mention laundry?–on top of keeping my kids alive and of course loved and engaged in fun activities that easily fills my days and nights. I’ve been asked a few times how I find time to sew with three kiddos include a newborn. My answer is simple: I make time.

life is full with three kids
Life is full, but you can still make time to do the things you love.

At first I felt guilty taking time to sew and quilt when there was always a long list of chores that could be done.  But over the past few years, I’ve learned that I need to make time for myself in order to keep my sanity. Taking time regularly to create something beautiful (since that’s always what we’re doing when we quilt, right?) helps me to recenter and rejuvenate. “Me time” is a necessary part of my existence as a happy full time mom and wife. I know that now.

So how to “make time” in an otherwise jam packed schedule?

1. Set small attainable goals

For me, setting small attainable goals has the most success in helping me find regular sewing time while staying motivated and enjoying the process. As a yoga teacher, students often struggled with maintaining a personal practice at home. The best advice I heard during one of my teacher trainings was to set your bar LOW: make it your goal to roll out your mat and stand on it each day. That’s it. Roll out your mat. Stand on it. Goal accomplished! Once you are standing on your mat, it’s so easy to take a deep breath and do yoga. Rolling out the mat is the hardest part.

set a timer for 20 minutes and just sewThe same applies for sewing. Set your bar low. Make it your goal to step into your sewing space each day. Set a timer for 20 minutes and aim to create for 20 minutes per day. If the 20 minutes passes and you’re still going strong (and don’t have any crying kids or impending business meetings), go ahead and take 20 more!

2. Just do it! 

Nike was on to something. Take it from me, if you spend the entire day thinking you will take your 20 minute sew break later, there’s a good chance you will be too tired when “later” finally comes. Regardless of whether your goal is to go for a run, clean the bathroom, write a letter to your best friend, or sew for 20 minutes, it’s best to accomplish it sooner than later. Besides, who doesn’t want to start their day with a “win”? Get the hard stuff out of the way early in the day, and you will be surprised how much lighter and more motivated you feel. Who knows–maybe you’ll be inspired to find time to take 20 more later that day!

3. Be gentle with yourself

This is the most important rule, in my opinion. We are our own worst critics, and it’s easy to fall into the pit of “I can’t” or “I should have”.  I wish I could remember who told me: “Don’t should on yourself.” (say it out loud–get it?). Should is such a helpless word. The past has passed; there’s no changing it and no use in thinking about what you should have done. Think instead of what you will do now.

be gentle with yourselfTry to create new habits with a gentle heart. If you currently are not consistently sewing at all, maybe make your goal to #sewtake20 four out of seven days this week. (Remember tip #2, though–getting those days under your belt early in the week will keep you feeling pumped and motivated). Once you get into the rhythm of MAKING time for yourself, even if it’s only 20 minutes at a time, up the ante for your goal and try taking time for yourself five days a week. Before you know it, you’ll be taking those 20 minutes daily, feeling efficient, and seeing progress on your formerly stagnant sewing projects.

My friends Stephanie at Late Night Quilter and Mandy at Mandalei Quilts and I are trying a new project to help us make time for ourselves. We’re using hashtag #sewtake20 on social media to help track our progress, and create a support network for those of you who want to join us. We invite you to post your progress, your challenges, and your quilting eye candy so that we can all help encourage and inspire each other.

Are you feeling overwhelmed at your mountainous to do list? #sewtake20

Feeling like there’s just no way you can accomplish your goal? #sewtake20

Want to find a way to make more time for yourself?
#sewtake20

The wise Lau Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Taking 20 minute sewing escapes daily WILL result in a finished project. And you just might be a happier, more relaxed mom, wife, friend, or coworker to boot. I know I am.

3 Tips on Making Time to Sew Daily

How do you make time to sew?

I’m linking up with Late Night Quilter’s Tips & Tutorials Tuesday.

Sponsor Introduction {& Giveaway}: Fiddlehead Artisan Supply

I’m thrilled to introduce you to my very first sponsor, my local quilt shop located in Belfast, Maine–Fiddlehead Artisan Supply. Fiddlehead Artisan Supply is a family-owned sewing, quilting, and craft-supply shop in beautiful midcoast Maine. In addition to a great selection of modern quilting cottons, patterns, thread, and notions, Fiddlehead offers a wide range of other craft supplies all within one of the most aesthetically pleasing shops I’ve visited. It’s a haven for makers. Just for my readers, Fiddlehead is offering 15% off anything in their online shop with the code nightquilter15%.

fiddlehead sponsor introduction and giveaway low volume bundle fabric

To kick-off our partnership, Abby at Fiddlehead invited me to curate a bundle of low volume fabrics, AND is offering a bundle as a giveaway to one of my readers. I love low volume fabrics, since they are so versatile in quilting and just about anything. There’s nothing like a scrappy low volume background to help colors pop.

fiddlehead sponsorship introduction and low volume bundle giveaway fabric

This bundle of eight (8) fat quarters includes (clockwise from top):

– XOXO Cotton + Steel basics by Rashida Coleman Hale
– Dotti’s Cousin in Natural, Mochi by Rashida Coleman Hale for Cotton + Steel
– Prisma in Honeycomb, Minimalista by Art Gallery Fabrics
– Hello Bear by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics
– Cotton + Steel basics by Alexia Marcelle Abegg
– Passport Parchment Paris Map by 3 Sisters for Moda
– Music in Neutral by Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements
– Passport Charcoal Etchings by 3 Sisters for Moda

 

Just for fun, and since I have a baby shower to attend this weekend, I decided to whip up a quick project using this bundle. I made a one hour basket (free pattern by Kelby Sews) using the fabrics from this bundle and some scraps of Alison Glass’s Sun Prints Grove.

low volume one hour basket
Side 1
low volume one hour basket
Side 2
low volume one hour basket detail
I love these low volumes!

The recipient of this basket hasn’t found out the gender of her baby, so I thought the sleek low volumes and pops of color were the perfect combination.

low volume one hour basketThe basket is the perfect size to hold diapers and wipes, or just about any other newborn essentials.

To enter the giveaway today, simply share what you love about your local quilt shop. If you don’t have a local quilt shop that fits your style, tell me what you look for in a fabric shop. Leave a comment and make sure I’m able to get ahold of you if you win.  If you’re a follower of Night Quilter, leave a second comment telling me how you follow for a second entry. Like Fiddlehead Artisan Supply on Facebook or subscribe to their newsletter and tell me how you followed them for a third entry.

This giveaway is open to US and international participants.  The giveaway will be open until 8pm Wednesday 5/27 when I’ll select the winner randomly with random.org. Good luck! Note: This giveaway is now closed! Congratulations to Mary!

low volume bundle from fiddlehead artisan supply

If you just can’t wait to get your hands on this low volume bundle, it can be purchased HERE. And, if you’re like me and like to support family run small businesses, feel free to take a virtual vacation to midcoast Maine and visit Fiddlehead Artisan Supply’s online shop: Fiddlehead is offering 15% off for all of my readers through June 21st–use code nightquilter15%.  Of course a vacation in person is preferred–if you do that, let me know and I’ll meet you for coffee and fabric shopping in Belfast!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday, since I’ve got this adorable one hour basket finish ready for the baby shower this weekend. Many thanks to Fiddlehead Artisan Supply!