Tag Archives: sewing

Free Motion Embroidery

17 Jan

Free motion embroidery Kukui nut

Last year I made a gift for my daughter’s teacher, who was my son’s teacher, who happens to also be my husband’s aunty.  Anyway, she’s special and I wanted to do something special.  I’ve always wanted to try “drawing” with my sewing machine.  It was a small space and I thought it would be faster than doing an appliqué.  I really hate preparing my fabric for appliqué.  It’s a Kukui leaf and nuts, which has special meaning to her and her class.  

Until tonight, I had no idea there was such a thing as “free-motion embroidery.”  I’ve been wanting to do more with it since this first project and now I’m really inspired!  If only I had the time to go with it.




Gifts for Tweens Are Hard

17 Jul

I have a ton of tween nieces.  All fabulous.  They are so hard to shop for.  The cutesy stuff no longer applies and the stuff they want often comes with that picture of an apple on it; and I wouldn’t dare try to buy clothes for them.  I decided a bath wrap was kind of spa-ish (I saw lots of ideas for spa baskets…but no one ever really uses that stuff) and functional.  I like functional.
Tween gifts Bath wrap tutorial

I found a bunch of tutorials, but this one made the most sense to me.  This one inspired the ruffle.  As always, I followed it loosely.  Many tutorials call for terry cloth, but I like the large and super plush towels that Costco & Sams club sell.  Plus, they are huge!  I cut off about a third of this towel.

My favorite part is the ruffle…although it killed two of my sewing machine needles.  I free-motioned her name to personalize it.  I think tweens are probably over appliqué.  I kind of want one now.

Easy Drawstring Bag Tutorial

11 Jul

I’m usually a room parent for my kids’ classes, but I opted out this past year since I spent a good portion of my pregnancy in the horizontal position.  I know the amount of time and work that goes into helping out the classrooms, so I wanted to thank them some how.  I found a great tutorial for drawstring bags online.  I think it’s one of the easiest around.  I filled them with a bag of cookies and a thank you note.

Drawstring Bag Tutorial Teacher Gift

They would work for teacher gifts too, but we ended up doing personalizing water bottles instead.  Thanks to my sisters for their Sillhouette & Vinyl.

Teacher Gift Ideas

You could make a bazillion of these for so many things!  Here’s the link to the tutorial:

Best drawstring bag tutorial!

Gifts I Made This Past Christmas: Toddler Backpack

6 Jan

Here, another pattern I bought a LONG time ago, but never made.  Finally, I had a need!  With so many people in our family, we pick names for Christmas.  I was so excited that I got a little girl!  My niece who is almost two.  So, I put that great pattern to use.  Thanks to Pinterest, I made the applique piece based off of an item that her Mommy pinned.  Here’s backpack number one.And for the back…Being the non-tv family that we’ve been for seven years now, Netflix has really compromised the rules in our home.  It’s been pretty bad.  My youngest has become obsessed with Dora the Explorer.  I hate to admit it, but if it wasn’t for Dora and Netflix, I wouldn’t have finished most of my projects this past Christmas.

With the exception of the gift from Santa, I decided to go hand-made on my gifts to the kids this year.  Partly for fun and partly to save money.  It was lots of fun.  I think it will be a tradition.

Since we now have a Dora obsession in our home, it was almost too perfect that Dora’s main accessory is, “Backpack! Backpack!”  So, My youngest got “Backpack!” for Christmas.  Thankfully, she loves it at least as much as I’d hoped.  She takes it everywhere and even woke up two mornings shouting, “Where’s Backpack?!”  Here’s Backpack! (You have to use “!” because my sister-in-law pointed out to me that Dora “yells at you.”  I can’t listen to Dora anymore without feeling like she’s yelling at me.)I have to say, it was maybe the most fun project that I did.  And since it was my second run on this pattern in a week, it went really quickly.  Thank goodness because I finished it at about 3am on 12/25!  (Later I’ll post what I was doing from 3am to 4am).   I found the best face for Backpack that I could off of an image search and just used my light table to create the applique pieces.Did I mention that I absolutely loved this pattern?  It was the first time I’ve ever used piping and now I want to put it on everything!!  I purchased this pattern from Made-by-Rae.  Click HERE for a link to her pattern.  She also created the free pattern to the purse I talked about in this post.

***Note about the pattern: It calls for canvas or a sturdy home decor fabric.  I ended up using cotton, so I actually lined everything because I wanted it to be sturdy.  I had a layer of fusible fleece and fusible webbing on the back of the fleece to attach the front and back piece.  I do NOT recommend doing it this way if you can help it.  It’s a LOT more work.  But, if you have to make a purple backpack, sometimes you have to go standard cotton!

Gifts I Made This Past Christmas: Baby Ugg Boots

4 Jan

Technically, this is not a Christmas gift, but rather a baby shower gift.  I’ve been wanting to make these for a while now but never made time for it.A baby shower gift for a baby girl whose mom is from Hawai’i, but will be born in freezing cold Germany!
There’s not much to say about this except that this is one of my favorite patterns.

It was really easy and I thought they turned out darn cute.  I’m hoping to make some for my 2 year old soon.  I’ll have to alter the pattern a bit to make it bigger, but I don’t think it will be too hard.

I like them best tall like this.  Don’t they look cozy?  Especially in this freezing Hawai’i weather we’ve been having!

I purchased the pattern from Sweet Pea Patterns on Etsy.

**Update: Sweet Pea Patterns just informed me that you can also purchase the toddler version of her pattern!

Birthday Stockings for Christmas

29 Oct

Back in 2010, my sister asked me to make her Christmas stockings for her birthday.  In April of 2010, I said, “of course!”  After all, Christmas was a very long time away.  I ought to be able to fit it into even a very busy schedule.  Well, a very not-fun pregnancy, a house flood, a major remodel and lots of other fun stuff later, she is finally getting them in time for Christmas 2011.  This is the sister with the daughter who received the “Two Year Quilt,” I posted about here.  So, at least she kind of knows how I work.  She did get a bonus though since I took so long.  Had I done it back in 2010, I would have only sewn four stockings.I loosely used the pattern, “Merry” by Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms.  I bought the pattern last year HOPING, but KNOWING I probably wouldn’t get around to it considering I wasn’t even living in my home last Christmas.  I LOVE this pattern.  I’m a pretty good rule follower, but not so good about following instructions.  (This makes perfect sense to me by the way.)  I usually get the gist and think I have a more efficient way of doing it.  I didn’t even read through the whole pattern.  I did though, use the template…which is really what it’s all about.  When I make my family stockings (soon I hope), I will follow the pattern carefully as I will be doing the other designs.

I quilted each one differently.  This one is just a simple meandering.I was really nervous about the stripes on these next two, but I ended up loving it.  It’s the first time I’ve ever quilted lines because I always thought it would be boring.  I will definitely be doing this more often.I did loops here. And finally swirly circles here.  Don’t look too close.  I just quilted it with the batting on the back and it causes a bit too much friction against the machine.My sister chose this uber fabulous Riley Blake Christmas fabric.  I love it. I’m hoping my sister takes much cuter pictures once they are hung.

Scrap Fabric Soft Shapes Book Tutorial

29 Sep

I’ve been working on this project over a period of a few days.  Normally, I only like to work on something if I can finish it all in one sitting.  With four kids (one of them being a tornado), it’s no fun to start, stop, move your stuff, lose stuff, look for missing stuff, get back to the project, repeat.  I was disciplined on this one and I actually finished it in a reasonable amount of time.  There was a lot of looking for missing stuff in the process, but I finished, and I’m happy to say that the little tornado loves it.  As do all the other members of the Fantastic Four.  The littlest one is also very territorial about it.  I’m so glad that she loves it.  I would be so bummed if I spent all this time on it and she didn’t care.  I know your little one will love it as well!  I think having all the fabric pieces around that they weren’t allowed to touch for a few days helps in the excitement department too 🙂

Here’s the tutorial for your Scrap Fabric Soft Shapes Book


14 – 8″ x 8″ Fabric Squares (Choose a color that will allow the fabrics to stand out)

7 – 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ Quilt batting squares

Fusible Web (I prefer Heat n Bond).  They come in different sizes or rolls, so just have enough to cover all your pieces.

About 1/4 yard worth of Scrap Fabric…or just a whole lot of scraps!

1 – 3″ x 8″ piece of solid color fabric for the title “shapes”

1 – 3″ x 8 1/2″ piece of fabric for the binding

Thread colors to match your scraps

Needle and Matching thread to hand stitch the “spine” of the finished book.

Print out your pdf file of choice at the bottom of this post.


First, get out all your pretty scraps.Fuse your scraps to your fusible web of choice.  Since I was working with scraps, I decided that this would be the method that would limit the amount of wasted stuff.  I just laid out my scraps in this “puzzle” over my large piece of Heat N Bond.  Then I simply took the iron to it.  This may not be the best method for you, as you may prefer to do a piece at a time.

If you’re not comfortable with applique, here’s a great tutorial.Next, flip your fused pieces over and start marking your shapes.Cut out all your shapes.  Look at them and check to see if you have a good variety of colors for each page.  (You could call this a colors AND shapes book!)

Organize your pieces and peel off the paper backing.

For the cover, be sure that if you use your own font that you use a “mirrored” pattern piece for your words.If you haven’t already done so, cut out fourteen 8″ squares.  Lay out your pieces on the square.  Keep your pieces about an inch from the edges of the page to allow for seams and binding.Press your pieces down according to the instructions on your method of fusing your fabric.

Next, go ahead and stitch all your pieces down.  Stitch your pieces according to thread color so that you don’t waste time changing thread constantly.  This is the setting I used for my applique.After all your pieces are stitched down, organize your book in the order you’d like it to be in.Now, figure out which pages will be back-to-back and place them right sides together.  Line up the corners on the side of the pages that will not be bound.  It doesn’t matter if the bound side is a bit off because that can be trimmed and it will be covered with the binding.  Place one of your batting squares over the top of the pages it.  It’s okay if the batting is a bit larger.Pin all three sides that will be sewn, leaving the book bound side open.Use a 1/4″ seam allowance.  The edge of your fabric will be the guide for the seam allowance and NOT the batting.  Notice in this pic that the guide is up against the fabric regardless of how large the batting is.

Stop 1/4″ before you hit the end of a side and pivot 90 degrees to the next side.  Here is a really awful picture of three sides sewn shut and one end open which will be the side we bind.Trim your batting down to the fabric edges and clip the corners to reduce bulk.  Be sure not to cut off your stitches!Turn your page right side out and then sew a top stitch around the same three sides using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Again, stop 1/4″ before the end of a run and pivot 90 degrees to the next side.  Go ahead and repeat for all your pages.  I did one full page at a time instead of assembly line style because I was paranoid about matching up the wrong pages.  Now, Prepare your book spine / binding piece.  Use your 8 1/2″ x 3″ piece of fabric.
Fold up the short edges (wrong sides together) 1/4″.  Press it down.Then, fold your piece in half length-wise and press.

Press your long outside edges in towards the center line and press.  It should look like this.  Just leave this piece on the side until we’re ready for it.Initially, I was going to hand stitch the binding on, but I think this was a much better idea.

How to stitch through 18 layers of fabric (binding counts for four layers) PLUS seven layers of batting:

Take off the entire shank.  So, don’t just pop off the foot, you need to unscrew the attached shank.  It should look something like this (if you live in Hawai’i, there will be a little rust 🙂

Next, stack your pages in the order you want them to appear.  It’s important that you line up the sides of the pages that are not bound.  Uneven-ness on the bound side is okay because we can always trim those, plus it will be covered by the spine/binding.Hold your stack nice and tight so that the pages don’t move around.  Make sure your “presser foot” is raised up.  Drop your feed dogs.  If your machine doesn’t give you that option, it still works fine.  It just makes more sense to drop them if you can.  Place your book’s center of the open side under the needle where you want to start your stitching.  I used the 1/2″ as a guide, but it will vary depending on how much trimming you had to do.  Just make sure that you’re not coming too far in that you are cutting off shapes.  And don’t go too far out that it doesn’t bind well.  Check to make sure that your placement will penetrate through all the pages (if you have a short page in there, make sure the needle goes through it).

Start from the middle so that the pages don’t move around like they would if you start from the top.  I learned that the hard way.

Drop your “presser foot.”  Stitch a lock stitch.  Then, lift your presser foot up.  Manually move your book in the direction it would move if the feed dogs were naturally moving it through the machine.  Go about 1/8″.  Drop the presser foot.  Press your pedal and do two stitches.  Lift the presser foot.  Move forward again about an 1/8″.  Stitch two stitches in place.  Lift up, move forward, lower, stitch, lift up, move forward, lower, stitch, lift up and so on until you reach the end of the book.

When you are finished, it should look like this.Now, turn your book around and flip it so that you’re on the front now.  You have to turn AND flip so that you can see your guides on the metal plate.  Start again in the center and repeat the process above.

When you are finished, it should look like this with the whole side bound.  You just stitched through a whole lot of fabric and stuff.  Wait…there’s more.

Now for the “spine.”  Grab your strip that we prepped in the beginning.  Place it around your book end to make sure the length and width is good.  If  you want to make adjustments to either, now is the time to do it.Check to make sure that you have enough slack to cover the stitches we just made.If everything looks good, go ahead and pin down your binding.  Like my new shapes pins?  How appropriate!

Flip it over and do the same thing to the other side.  This time, make sure that the tips of the pins are sticking out so that you can pull them out as you are sewing along.Following the same process we used to bind the pages, we’re going to attach the binding.  Since the book is already stitched together, we don’t have to worry about pages moving around, so we can start at the top this time.  Plus, it would look funny if we started in the middle.Continue the process of moving the book manually about 1/8″ per double stitches.When you get to the end, go ahead and stop with either a back stitch or a lock stitch at the end of the pages.  Don’t stitch all the way to the end of the binding.Now  you’ve really sewed through a huge stack of stuff!To close those endings.  Think of wrapping the end of a present.  Flip the middle section down.Then, lay each side down, one on top of the other.Finally, use a matching thread (or neutral if you don’t have a match) and do a whip stitch to close that up.Here are the inside pages.

And here’s the back.I’m happy to say that my little ones LOVE it.  She takes it with her everywhere and loves to show it off.  Now that I’m finished, I need to clean up the mess she made while I was off sewing this.Below are the downloads for pattern shapes pieces.  I have them divided up on to individual pages by shape.  Or, if you’d like to print them all together, use the second link.  Now go make a little one happy!

Fabric Scraps Shapes Soft Book Pattern Tutorial

Fabric Scraps Shapes Soft Book Pattern Pieces Together Tutorial