Tutorial – Pretty Patchwork Heart Pocket

Looking for a quick gift or a fun home dec idea?  Here’s a set of Pretty Patchwork Heart Pockets that can be sewn together in about an hour.  This tutorial includes directions for making both versions!

Pretty Patchwork Heart Pockets

Make a bunch of these and place in a pretty basket or bowl.  Use clothespins to attach them to ribbon and create a fun garland or window swag!

Pretty Patchwork Heart Pocket - Version 1

You can use scraps for this and make them in a variety of colors – red and white for Valentine’s Day, green and white for St. Patrick’s Day, red/white/blue for Fourth of July, orange and black for Halloween, or red and green for Christmas!

Pretty Patchwork Heart Pocket - Version 2

The back features a small pocket.  Tuck in a gift card or some dried flowers.

Pretty Patchwork Heart Pocket - Back View

From Fabric A cut:

  • Three 4.5″ squares
  • One 5.5″ Square
  • One 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle

From Fabric B cut:

  • Three 4.5″ squares
  • One 5.5″ Square
  • One 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle
Take one Fabric A 4.5″ square and one Fabric B 4.5″ square.  Pin the squares right sides together and sew a 1/4″ seam on the right and left sides.  Make two sets (Figure 1).
Figure 1 - Sew Side Seams

Cut these units into three rectangles that are 1.5″ x 4.5″.  Make sure you are cutting parallel to the seams you just made (Figure 2).  Do this for both sets.

Figure 2 - Cut Into Strips

Press the seams towards the darkest fabric to create two pieced units (Figure 3).

Figure 3 - Press open

Take the center rectangles and sew them to the appropriate side of the pieced units (Figure 4).  Press the seams to the darks.  You now have two units of alternating fabrics (A-B-A and B-A-B). Make two sets.

Figure 4 - Sew Strips to Create Squares

Take one of each type of square  (A-B-A and B-A-B), make sure stripes are going the same direction, and pin them right sides together.  Sew along the shorter sides with a 1/4″ seam.  Do this for both sets.  Cut each set into three rectangles that are 1.5″ x 4.5″.    You will be cutting perpendicularly to the stripes (Figure 5).  Press the seams.

Figure 5 - Sew Side Seams and Cut Into Strips

Sew the center strip to the appropriate pieced unit to make TWO nine-patch blocks (Figure 6).  Do not sew the other strips to make blocks.  You will now two nine-patch blocks and two sets of partial blocks.

Figure 6 - Sew Two Nine Patch Blocks

To make Version 1, sew the partial blocks onto one nine patch block (Figure 7).

Figure 7 - Create Version 1 Heart

Take make Version 2, sew the 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangles onto one nine patch block (Figure 8).

Figure 8 - Create Heart Version 2

Set these two heart fronts aside and make the pocket.  Take the remaining two of the 4.5″ squares, and press it on the diagonal right sides OUT (Figure 9).

Figure 9 - Make Pocket

Take one of the 5.5″ squares, place it right side up, and then pin one of the folded triangles on this to make the pocket.  For best results, use contrasting pocket  on the backing fabric (Figure 10).

Figure 10 - Pin Backing to Pocket

Pin one heart front and one heart back right sides together (Figure 11).

Figure 11 - Pin Backing and Heart Right Sides Together

Download Heart Template here.  Trace onto piece of cardboard and cut out template.  In order to create sewing line, place template on pinned hearts and trace around it (Figure 12).  DO NOT CUT.  Sew around the line you just drew – leave a 3″ opening in one side for stuffing.

Figure 12 - Trace Around Heart Template

Cut off excess fabric and leave about 1/4″ seam.  Clip corner, curves, and heart center.  Turn inside out (Figure 13).  Stuff lightly and hand-stitch opening closed.

Figure 13 - Turn Inside Out and Press

Keep it thimble!

Mini Tutorial – Stuffed Apple for Teacher

My son wants to be a mad scientist when he grows up (see Exhibit A):

Mad Scientist

Today, he took a big step towards this lofty goal – starting Kindergarten!  He wanted to bring an apple to his new teacher (where do kids get these ideas – TV?), so I figured a stuffed one is the way to go.

Basically (for sewing purposes), an apple looks like a tomato expect that it is taller.  I made up a template that looked like an oval that came to a point at each end.  The size was about 2″ x 5″.  I cut out five (5) of these ovals from quilter’s cotton (although you could also use wool), sewed them together, and left one side open for turning.

Stuffed Apple for Teacher

Turn the piece inside out, stuff, and then hand sew opening closed.  Get a small button for the bottom of the apple.  Next, take an upholstery needle and thread with strong twine (I used linen thread).  Poke the needle down into the center of top and come out through one of the button holes on the bottom. Poke the needle back into another button hole, come out through the top, and then pull tight.  Do this 2 more time so that you can create a nice dimple in the top and bottom of the apple.  Don’t cut the thread.

Next, cut out two leaves from felt and sew to the top of the apple.  You can use the same thread you used for making the dimples.  Tie off thread and cut off excess.  Get a black pipe cleaner and cut it about 3″ long.  Near the base of the leaves, poke a very small hole with scissors and insert the stem.  You can use a dab of glue to hold into place.  Voila – an apple for the teacher that will never spoil.

Keep it Thimble!

Tutorial – Sew a Stuffed Paramecium Toy

My son enjoys all kinds of creatures, both big and small.  A few weeks ago he asked me if we could make a stuffed paramecium.  He learned about these one-celled organisms from watching the “Cat in the Hat” (proof that television IS educational 🙂 ).  For those of you who need a refresher in biology, here is a picture of what one of these critters looks like:

Diagram of Paramecium

As you can see, it is a simple oval, with some colored shapes inside the body, and a row of little hairs around the edge – simple enough to make with some fleece, felt, and pom-pom trim!  This is a great project for you to do with your children since there are so many things they can do in the process.  I didn’t take photos of the actual project in process, but the tutorial is fairly straightforward (I hope!).

Perry the Paramecium - Standing

To make one Paramecium toy you need:

  • 1/2 yard fleece
  • Craft felt in assorted colors
  • 3 yards pom-pom trim
  • 1 bag Fiberfill
  • Google Eyes / Buttons (optional)

1.  Starting by drawing 10 – 12 different shapes on the felt.  Use a variety of colors and shapes to add interest.  The shapes should be various sizes ranging from 2 x 3″ to 6″ x 6″.

Shape suggestions:  circle, square, rectangle, triangle, oval, egg, dome, X, star, straight ling, squiggly line, tulip, flower, pentagon, octagon, trefoil.

2.  Cut out the shapes and set aside.  I found the shapes to be the most fun for my son.  He drew and cut out all the shapes by himself.  The bonus was that this kept him busy for about 2 hours (off and on) which gave me time to sew some other project.

3.  Take 1/2 yard of fleece and cut it into two equal-sized rectangles (it’s easiest just to cut where the fabric was folded on the bolt).  These will be the front and back of the paramecium.

4.  Take one fleece rectangle and arrange the felt shapes on it.  Again, my son did this step.  He took each piece and placed it where he wanted on the creature.  Be sure to leave about 1 – 2 inches seam allowance around the perimeter.  Pin the shapes to the fleece.

Paramecium - Ready to Sew the Shapes

5.  Using your machine, stitch the shapes onto the fleece.  Stitch on top of the shapes (basically like raw-edge applique).  Since this was a toy, I just stitched around the inside edge of each shape, leaving the edges of each shape raw.  Don’t be a perfectionist about this, just get them stitched down securely.  For example, I stitched through the center of each star point instead of trying to stitch around the perimeter of the star.

6.  Take the pom-pom trim and loosely arrange in the shape of an oval around the perimeter of the fleece rectangle (the one with the shapes).  You will have excess fabric at the corners.  Caution – do not actually cut the fleece into the shape of an oval, this makes it harder to stitch together later on.  Instead, just shape the trim into an oval shape and pin around the edges.  Make sure the pom-pons are pointing towards the center of the fleece.

7. From the front, stitch around the pom-pom trim with your machine.  You can use a basting stitch to complete this step more quickly.

8.  Take the second piece of unembellished fleece and place it RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER with the piece you just finished embellishing.  Pin around the edges.

9.  Turn the piece over (pins and all) so you are now looking at the wrong side of the piece with all the felt shapes stitched onto it.  With pins, clearly indicate where you will start and stop the seam in order to have a 6 inch opening for turning and stuffing (pick the center of one of the long sides).

10.  You should be able to clearly see the stitching line around the perimeter that is securing the pom-poms. Using this seam as a guide, stitch the front and back together just inside this seam (about 1/8″ seam allowance).  Again, no need to be a perfectionist about this.  Remember to leave 6″ open for turning and stuffing.

11.   Trim corners so that you now have a nice oval shape.  Turn the paramecium inside out.

12.  Stuff with fiberfill.  This will use an entire bag of fiberfill!  Again, kids can participate in this step and handle the stuffing themselves.

13.  Once stuffed, whipstitch the opening closed by hand.

14.  Optional:  Glue on google eyes or sew on button eyes.  My son opted to draw some eyes and mouth in the middle with a marker (can you see it in the picture?).  However, he did mention he would like to sew on some buttons for eyes so you can see them better.

15.  Name your new creature!  My son called his “Perry.”

Perry the Paramecium - Sitting

For another fun project, check out the Radiant Folded Star and Covered Box pattern!

Keep it Thimble!

Tutorial – Sock Rabbit (aka Sock Bunny)

Diamond the Rabbit

Happy Easter everyone!  This tutorial might be a bit late, since you can’t make these for an Easter Basket, but I really wanted to post this cute little rabbit I made from some socks bought at Target for a dollar!  My plan was to make up my own directions, but I figured someone had already done something like this and a quick Google search turned up a free sock rabbit pattern at Clubhouseb.com.  Download the pattern and cut out the sock pieces per the directions listed.  This tutorial assumes you have the pattern handy for reference.

Step 1 - Plain Sock

As you can imagine, you start with a plain sock.  Turn the sock inside out and arrange the heel so that it is facing you.   Following the directions on the downloaded pattern, draw lines on the socks for the ears and legs.  Stitch around the lines (per the pattern) and cut the ears and legs apart.

Step 2 - Stitch along lines for ears and legs

Turn the whole thing inside out (there will be a opening in the crotch for this).  Use a point turner to poke out the tips of the ears and the corners of the feet.

Step 3 - Turn inside out

Stuff with fiberfill.  The socks I used were children’s size, so the rabbit will be about 7″ high (the ears add about 4″ more height).  Be careful when stuffing – you don’t want to overstuff and you don’t want the sock to run near the raw edges between the legs.  Whipstitch the opening shut with matching thread.

Step 4 - Stuff and stitch

Next, make a running stitch around the base of each ear, pull to gather, and tie off  (the pattern indicates doing the running stitch across the ear, but I did it around in order to make it easier to gather and tie off).  Figure out where the neck is going to be and make a running stitch around the neck, pull to gather, and tie off.

Step 5 - Make the face

For the face, take two buttons with shanks and sew on according to the directions.  If you try to use buttons with holes you will find that the eye indentations will not look correct.  Rabbit eyes are positioned more to the side instead of the front, so using the shank buttons makes the indentations appear on the sides of the face, instead of the front.   Create the mouth and nose per the directions. I didn’t statin stitch a nose since the pink diamond from the argyle pattern is positions perfectly for a nose – what a happy accident!

Step 6 - Make arms

Take the other sock and create two arms.  For my arms, I cut off the toe of the sock and stitched down the middle (like I did with the ears) so that the arms would be pointed on the end like paws.

Step 7 - Sew on arms and add bow

Stuff the arms lightly and whipstitch them into place at the neck.  Tie a bow around the neck to complete the look and you have an Easter Bunny!   If you have the inclination, you can also embellish him (or her) further by adding a hat, shirt, dress, basket, etc.  If you want to get really fancy you can sew a running stitch at the wrists and ankles to make the paws more defined.

Keep it Thimble!

Tips for Sewing Charm Square Bags

It seems that I am living up to my “bag lady” name, this is the third or fourth bag I’ve posted in the last 2 months!  Bags are a great project because you can completely finish them with 2 – 3 sessions of good sewing time.  They are also very functional and make great gifts!

Sew Charming Bag - Small

If you are frequent reader you will know that I am crazy about charm square bags.  After making so many, I’ve come up with some guidelines for how to place the charms to create more aesthetically pleasing results:

  1. Place dark squares on bottom, medium squares in center, and light squares on top of the bag.
  2. Another variation is to alternate between light and dark squares on each row to create a checkboard of lights/dark.
  3. Be mindful of where squares are placed on the side and bottom, as these will touch squares on the other side of the bag when the exterior is sewn together.
  4. For pocket pieces or other accents that need to stand out from the bag, use the squares that will contrast the most in terms of pattern and then color.  For example, when working with a predominantly floral fabric line, use the squares that feature lines/shapes or other bold patterns.
  5. Group squares of like colors when creating pockets.  This sets off the pocket as a decorative element on the bag.  Additionally, you can alternate two different colors or two different values to create something that looks unified.
  6. When choosing fabric for the handles, pick a medium tone.  Since the handles provide a unifying element to the bag I find that medium tones blend better with the bag.
  7. Don’t have squares of the same pattern but different color touching each other (but they can be placed diagonally from each other if needed).
  8. Mix up the small, medium, and large patterns in the square placement.
  9. Avoid using the solid colored squares (this is just personal preference since I like to show off all the fabric patterns in the bag).
  10. When only using part of a charm pack, it is useful to focus on using 4 – 5 colorways.  For example, I had a charm pack that featured red, white, light blue, dark blue, and black.  I entirely removed the black and dark blue from the choices.  However, you can use these colorways for lining or handles.

This is Sew Charming Bag by Rose Hip Lane and is by far my favorite!   You can make two sizes small (shown above) and large (shown below).  The large bag contains a nifty divided pocket that has room for notebooks, pencils, and other supplies.

Charm Tote
Charm Tote - Large

One reason this bag stands out is because of the ruffle on the pocket and top of the game.  The ruffle is easy to create and sew on – even for beginners.  You start by cutting two strips of fabric and then you join them to create one long strip.

When joining strips, I prefer using a mitered seam since it has less bulk and looks more polished.  Here’s a quick tutorial on how to create a mitered seam:

Step 1 – start by putting your strips right-sides together at right angles to each other.  On the top strip, use a pin to mark where the bottom strips ends (this way you can clearly see where the strips overlap to make a square).  Take a ruler and draw a diagonal line from left to right.  Refer to the picture to make sure you are drawing your line in the correct place.

Joining Strips with Miter - Step 1

Step 2 – Sew along the line you just marked.  Before cutting off the extra corner, open up the two strips to check that they match up and you have created the miter correctly.  Now, you can trim off the excess corner.

Joining Strips with Miter - Step 2

Step 3 – Press the seam open and you will have a nice diagonal seam joining the two strips together!

Joining Strips with Miter - Step 3

Keep it thimble!

Tutorial – Foundation Piecing – Little House on the Prairie

I really love miniature quilts – they are like little works of art and it’s a great way to use up your scraps.  However, don’t be fooled into thinking that since they are so small they will take less time to make.  It seems they actually take more time to make since you are dealing with such small pieces and there are a lot of pieces in to sew together!

Little House on the Prairie

I saw this adorable little house in a book called Little Bits of Whimsy by Kathleen Brooks Rindal and decided to attempt my first miniature quilt.  The finished product is about 9″ square and has about 175 little bits of fabric.  Almost every single piece of fabric in this is unique – look closely to see if you can find where there are repeats (one is VERY obvious – at least to me).

Since the fabric pieces are so small for miniature quilts, it needs to be foundation pieced.  This is something I have always wanted to try, but have always been a bit leery of it – it seems so difficult.  After doing it, I can honesty say foundation piecing is easy to do and the results are wonderful.   You do need to concentrate while doing it, but once you get into a rhythm it all goes smoothy.

Here is a brief tutorial on the basics of foundation piecing.  You start by tracing (with a pencil) the pattern onto tracing paper or vellum.   This paper template will form the foundation of the block.  Each piece on the pattern is numbered, and these number tell the order in which the pieces are sewn onto the foundation (see picture – Step 1).

Step 1 - Pieced Border Template

Once the pattern is traced, you rough cut a piece of fabric that is the shape of the first piece.  Include a generous 1/4″ inch seam allowance when rough cutting the piece.  Place the fabric right side up on the front of the pattern.  Next, rough cut fabric that will be used for the second piece in the pattern.  Place this piece right side down on the first piece (see picture – Step 2).

Step 2 - Placing Fabrics

Pin these piece in place.  Flip over the paper foundation and you will be able to see the lines of the pattern (this is why the paper needs to be transparent).  Sew along the line on the pattern where the two pieces are overlapping (see picture – Step 3).

Step 3 - Sewing First Seam

Once the seam is sewn, flip the foundation over to the right side.  Press the two fabric pieces open (see picture – Step 4).  If necessary, trim off any excess fabric – but be sure to maintain the extra for the 1/4″ seam allowance.

Step 4 - Pressed Seam

Continue sewing the pieces in this manner following the order of the pattern until completed (see picture – Step 5).

Step 5 - Pieced Border
Step 5 - Back of Pieced Border

Once you have the pattern completed, trim off the excess fabric while still maintaining the 1/4″ seam allowance.  To do this, take your ruler and line up the 1/4″ line measurement with the pattern edge and trim with a rotary cutter.  This section is completed!

Step 6 - Trimming 1/4" Seam
Step 6b - Trimmed Border

This little house pattern is structured so that you foundation piece the different parts (the house block, the inner border, the outer border) and then sew the whole thing together.

The last step is to quilt and bind it.  I did a little of stitch in the ditch quilting around the inner borders.  The project is so small you could probably get away with not quilting it at all.  However, the quilting around the borders makes it look more finished.  There were some places where the machine quilting is obvious, so I may rip it out and just quilt by hand (however, I have to find the time first!).

For another fun and quilty project, check out the Radiant Folded Star and Covered Box pattern!

Keep it thimble!

Tutorial – Easy Nine Patch Coasters

I promised to share a tutorial for how to quickly and easily make nine-patch blocks.  So here it is!   I even took it a few steps further to show you how to turn it into a fun little coaster!

Easy Nine Patch Coaster

This method works best for making scrappy quilts and it’s also great for hosting a block swap.  Get a group of friends together and have everyone bring in fifty 6″ squares.  Throw all the squares into a pile and have everyone randomly pick out fifty new squares.  Then use this method so everyone can create 50 nine-patch blocks that are all different!

Use this method for any sized square, although it is best to pick something that is easily divisible by three (3″, 3.75″, 4.5″, 6″, etc).  This tutorial uses 6″ squares.

Start with two 6″ squares in different fabrics.

Easy Nine Patch Coaster - Step 1

Put the squares right sides together and sew a 1/4″ seam on the right and left sides.

Easy Nine Patch Coaster - Step 2

Using your rotary cutter, cut the unit into three rectangles that are 2″ x 6″.  Make sure you are cutting parallel to the seams you just made.

Easy Nine Patch Coaster - Step 3

Press the seams towards the darkest fabric to create two pieced units.  Take the center rectangles and sew them to the appropriate side of the pieced units.  Press the seams to the darks.  You now have two units of alternating fabrics (A-B-A and B-A-B).

Easy Nine Patch Coaster - Step 4

Take these new squares and place them right sides together.  Make sure the stripes for both are running in the same direction.

Easy Nine Patch Coaster - Step 5

Sew along the shorter sides of this until with a 1/4″ seams.

Easy Nine Patch Coaster - Step 6

Cut this into three rectangles that are 2″ x 6″.  Again, be sure the same you just sewed is parallel to the cuts you are making.  Press the seams.

Easy Nine Patch Coaster - Step 7

Sew the center units to the appropriate unit to make a nine-patch block.  Press the seams.  You will now have two complementary nine-patch blocks.

Easy Nine Patch Coaster - Step 8

If you want to make into a coaster, layer one block with backing and batting to make a quilt sandwich.

Easy Nine Patch Coaster - Step 9

Quilt as desired (I just did some diagonal lines).  Trim off excess batting until each block is 4.75″ square.  At this point, you can just bind the squares for square coasters (use 2 1/4″ strips that are  22″ long).

If you want to make circular coaster, create a template that is a 4.75″ circle (or download my template) and use it to cut around the block.

Cut 22″ inches of 2 1/4″ bias binding.  You need bias binding because it is much easier when working with something circular.  I didn’t use bias binding on my coasters and you can see that the circle is not very smooth around the edges.  Bias binding would have been a better choice (although I was trying to save some time by using some binding scraps I cut for another project).

Sew binding, press, and then attach to back.  Make a cute set of 4 coasters, tie together with a ribbon, add some teabags and a mug, and you’ve got a great gift to give your favorite tea drinker!

Keep it thimble!

Easy Nine Patch Coaster