Artist Trading Cards for the Sewing Buddies!

So, at this point, the vast majority of Sewing Buddies have been matched. I’ve sent out one. last. invite. to those aspiring Buddies to make sure they’re not missing something in the junk folder, but with over 200 folks joining the Sewing Buddies this year, I’ve officially CLOSED Sewing Buddy sign-ups until 2014. Whew!

sewing buddy icon

In years past, the Sewing Buddy Project was really just a matching system: I volunteered my time to match names to one another, and once the introductions were made, the Buddies were more or less on their own, like pen pals. When I had pen pals when I was younger (back when parents thought it was safe to assign a child’s name and mailing address to a total stranger, which lets you know just how I old I really am), I don’t recall there being any guidelines or suggested activities–and if there had been, I feel pretty confident saying I wouldn’t have followed them, anyway. But over the first couple of years of this Sewing Buddy experiment, I heard back from folks that they wanted a little more guidance and structure to their Buddy-ness, some activities that joined them and their one Buddy to the whole of the rest of Buddy-dom, in one large Buddy mass. I love that idea, and so last year we did a series of Buddy challenges. This year, we’re taking it up another notch.

When they were matched, Buddies made suggestions of projects that might be fun to do with one another, things that would bond them to each other on the small scale, giving them shared experiences to discuss via email, and also that would bond them to the larger group, with chances to be inspired and to learn from a greater canvas. I’ve selected about four of the suggestions–and trust me, there were some really, really good ones, but there were some that came up over and over and made themselves pretty obviously the best choices for the group–for us to all participate in as the year goes along. They’ll be visible and open to the public on the blog, but also shared privately within the Sewing Buddy community via our monthly newsletter. Makes me think of the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring from A Christmas Story, where he hears the code over the radio but only folks with the ring can learn the secret message. Except I can solemnly vow I won’t attempt to make you drink your Ovaltine.

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image via Quilting Arts

To begin with, an idea that I’ve been captivated with for some time, but wasn’t quite sure how to inject into my daily life (or even the life of the blog): Artist Trading Cards. These are tiny works of art, about the size of a business card, that give you a chance to play around with color and fabric and fiber and texture. They have a cool history, and are simple to make for anyone who has a machine and some scraps of fabric lying around–including notions, ribbons, trims, buttons, and whathaveyous.

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image via Quilting Arts

They don’t all have to be fancy–some can be incredibly simple, like this one that I made from a scrap of fabric I ran through my ink jet printer to add my logo:

artist trading card

(Don’t you love printing on fabric? If you haven’t done it before, it’s easy! Plenty of online tutorials, or you can find a project using this technique in my new book, Stitch Savvy. Be sure to drink your Ovaltine!)

ATC landscape

image via JennyPennyPoppy on Pinterest

The great thing about Artist Trading Cards is they’re the teensiest of quilts to take along with you and exchange with friends. They can double as business cards. You can make one for yourself to wear at conventions and guild meetings. And they’re so small you can tackle one in just a few minutes.


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via NewLeaf on Flickr

So the first activity for the Sewing Buddies in 2013 is just that: make an Artist Trading Card and exchange it by mail with your Sewing Buddy! It’ll be a small, do-able project that you can share with one another. Use this free e-book from Quilting Arts magazine for guidance, or check out the quilted artist trading cards on Flickr and Pinterest for inspiration. I can’t wait to see what all of you will make!

Sewing Clothing for Kids e-course registration now open!


sewing kids clothing button


I can’t believe how quickly the year is flying by!  It’s already time to start registration for my Sewing Clothing for Kids e-course, because spring is on the way and we’ve got sweet little babies to dress.  This class has been both very popular and incredibly fun for me to teach–it includes eight great patterns and such great style for boys AND girls.  That’s right, BOYS AND GIRLS.  We have both at our house, and I feel your pain when it comes to finding cute clothes for all of them.  Over the course of five weeks, we’ll tackle the basics of kids’ clothing construction.  All you need is some foundational sewing skills and some fabric–get your patterns with the purchase of the class, and join in the fun!  See all the details, plus peek at photos of the garments we’ll be making and register, all right here.  Class begins March 11, 2013!

Fabric Basket for the Desk

melody miller typewriter fabric basket

Anna over at Noodlehead has a fantastic tutorial for making a fabric tray for storage that I’ve been meaning to try for ages.  I tend to take papers and pattern pages that have been printed on one side and tear them in half to use as scrap paper–mostly for making lists of things to do the next day that I stick in my calendar so I’ll be able to check them off, thereby earning myself a nice gold star and a new Netflix for a reward.  Ahem.

fabric basket to hold papers and pens

I needed a place to keep all the bits of paper I hadn’t used yet, though.  And I’m not really sure what took me so long–I think I figured that I had other things to prioritize over making a storage basket.  But I was reminded when I finally DID make it that there’s a rule at play: when a task takes time but saves you exponentially MORE time than it takes, you should invest the time and be done with it, in order to save more time later.  I bet there’s a more direct way to state that rule, but I think you already knew the rule, so I won’t both re-stating something you already knew.

close up stitching fabric basket from noodlehead

Including the cutting, this might have taken all of 25 minutes to put together.  I had all the supplies on hand–two fabrics, a small piece of Peltex, thread.  Nothing super unusual (especially since I think you could get away with using cardboard instead of the Peltex, in a pinch).  Anna’s instructions are really well written, and I love that she gives you the dimensions and everything.  I used the instructions for the largest size, which is just right for storing 8.5″ x 11″ pages torn in half, along with a pen and the little creme brulee dish I use to corral paper clips and push pins and binder clips and occasionally stray bobbins looking for a home.

denyse schmidt flea market fancy fabric basket

I think my favorite part is the little corners, which are so cute and so easy to make that I wanted a whole stack of nesting baskets (kinda like my fabric buckets, but for on top of the desk).  I held back–I don’t want to clutter the limited space I have, and I’m looking to simplify rather than expand at the moment.

fabric basket desk organizer

But what a great addition to my desk life.  I spend 25 minutes cutting and sewing, and now I DON’T have to spend 15 minutes every day hunting for a piece of scrap paper, plus I get to save all the pages that got tossed in recycling because I didn’t have any place to store them until I needed them–at which point I didn’t have any, and would end up using a new piece of paper rather than re-using a piece that was printed on one side but still totally good!  Whew.  Maybe this is a leftover effect of all my closet cleaning from the new year, but I’m so glad I finally buckled down and did it.  Plus, now I get to see Melody Miller’s typewriters and just a dash of Denyse Schmidt’s Flea Market Fancy every day–who knew those fabrics would look so fantastic together?

ninepence buttonYay for sewing organization!  Somewhere around here, I’ve got some Neat as Ninepence posts, where I’ve been gradually adding in ideas and sewing that helps me to get organized and stay that way.  This one totally gets added to the bunch–feel free to browse (or let me know if I’ve overlooked a fabulous idea that I totally need to add!).

Valentine Silhouette Wall Hanging

This quilt was made well over two years ago for a book proposal, but the project ended up not being included in Stitch Savvy.  When we moved into our new house, I re-discovered this piece, and I have fallen in love with it all over again.  And now that it’s February, month of the Valentine, what a perfect time to enjoy it!

valentine quilt Whipstitch

That’s me and my husband.  When I first brought this out and hung it on the empty wall in our entryway–where I’ve been rotating temporary displays seasonally over the past few months while we wait to find just the right piece of art to live there permanently–the two middle children, ages 4 and 6, saw it and thought it was the two of them.  At first, our boy said, “Whoa! That’s amazing!”  But apparently he and his siter had some ind of conversation while I was busy patting myself on the back for sewing things that are so impressive to the preschool set, because next I heard was, “I don’t like that.  I think you should take it down.”  I asked why, and was told, “Because we look like we want to kiss!”  I told both of them it wasn’t them (so egotistical!), it was Mommy and Daddy.  And our daughter says, “Eww!  It looks like you’re romancing!”

Love.  It is, in fact, a many-splendored thing.

silhouette quilting stitches Whipstitch

The entire wall hanging is quilted. It’s Kona black overlaid on an older Alexander Henry red-on-pink floral print.  The shapes were drawn on poster board with a pencil–I had my husband sit between a lamp with the shade off and the poster board, taped to the wall.  I traced his outline, then had him trace mine.  After a little cleaning up to make the lines smooth, I cut out the shapes and used them as templates to create silhouettes of our two profiles, facing one another.  Those were laid on the base fabric, then machine appliqued in place using a satin stitch.

satin stitch applique Whipstitch

The outline was made in a similar way: I created a scallop shape on poster board, and used that as a template to trace out a large oval on the interior of a border, also made of Kona black.  The scalloped edges are machine appliqued with satin stitch, just like the faces.

valentine silhouette quilt Whipstitch

The appliqued rose fabric was treated like a quilt top, and placed over batting a solid piece of Kona black for backing.  I quilted an outline of each of the profiles, but where they face one another, I united them with an unbroken outline.  Symbolic, no?  Then, the entirety of the pink and red background was quilted with very closely-spaced–one inch–parallel lines from the edge of the applique to the edges of the outlined profiles.

valentine quilt back Whipstitch

Despite pressing, the quilt back is still fairly rumpled from its time in storage; still, this shot gives you a better view of the quilting stitches.  The binding is more Kona black–I think it was after this project that I just bit down and bought myself an entire bolt of black to have for me and only me.  (My old fabric manufacturer rep told me once that Kona black is the best-selling fabric of ALL TIME, and I believe him.  Kona white and snow are close behind, he says.)

valentine silhouettes Whipstitch

It wasn’t really my idea to hang it on the wall in the entryway.  My intern (loose term, since she’s the same age as me and isn’t getting any college credit) suggested it, since this piece is an odd size and shape: 44″ by 52″, so too small to really be a quilt, but not small enough to tuck into an inconspicuous corner.  The entryway wall is big and empty and screaming out for decoration, and from the instant we hung it up, I was in love.  Now, I had every suspicion that my husband wouldn’t be a big fan–I offered to let him take it to his office back when I first made it and he politely declined.  Go figure.

valentine wall hanging Whipstitch

Every time I walk past it, though, day or night, it absolutely brings a smile to my face.  We look younger, for one thing.  No photo or portrait could ever do that.  And I love how classic the silhouette is, but how modern the Alex Henry fabric is, and the enormous scale of these heads makes the whole thing seem updated and edgy instead of staid and boring–in the same way that papercut silhouettes against bright, cheery fabrics seem updated compared to black-and-white ones with doilies behind them.

valentine silhouette quilt Whipstitch

This wasn’t a quick-and-easy project, but it was worth the effort.  I love it so much more now than I even did when I conceived the idea and made it originally, and re-discovering it after nearly two years was a real treasure.  It was a lot of work then, but I think I’m more than reaping the rewards now.  We’ll keep this up in the entryway through Valentine’s Day, and I will never let my husband live down that he’s on fabric and we’re “romancing.”



#scrappytripalong Finish!

scrappytripalong binding

It is finished!  My #scrappytripalong quilt is all done–and I could not be more in love, seriously.


What’s really funny (although I totally should not admit this here, because I’m sure I’ll be un-invited to parties from now on if I do) is that just a few months ago, I remember telling my friend Elle that I was “done with this whole quilting thing–I mean, I think it’s out of my system.”  Given that I whipped this out within four days of the whole virus getting started on Instagram, and now have a list of no fewer than seven planned quilts on my wall PLUS the other six I cut and prepped and put in project bags last fall, it seems apparent that I am not “over this whole quilting thing” in the least.  But, you know, like any other kind of sewing or creating, I think it comes in waves and stages–and I feel like I’m coming out of a trough and back up toward a cresting peak.  Which is exhilarating.

scrappytripalong polka dots

I think my favorite thing about this quilt is the bright, bright colors and the punctuation of white throughout.  It’s so cheerful and spring-y, great for the gloomy rainy day I shot these photos.  Something about the black-and-white polka dot binding really spoke to me, like a whimsical frame around the body of the quilt.

scrappytripalong texture

The quilting is very simple lattice stitching, diagonally in both directions through every other row of squares.  I thought at first I would do diagonals and then straight lines parallel to every other seam, like Rita’s, but after I did the diagonals (which were totally fun–I just eyeballed them and it was quick and satisfying), I loved the way it looked and figured I’d leave well enough alone.  Plus, at 72″ x 72″, this quilt is pretty huge, and I was tuckered from wrestling it up on the table.

scrappytripalong back

The back is pieced from some random chunks of fabric from my stash–which seemed appropriate for a scrappy quilt.  The strip of Kona white was leftover from making the strips for the quilt top, and I liked the way it breaks up the larger sections of fabric.

scrappytripalong comfy

I’m taking my #scrappytripalong with me tonight to the new West Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild meeting for show-and-tell, too!  Will you be there?  So fun to have a new quilt guild forming, and to see the sheer level of excitement and involvement that is already springing up–I know the ladies who are organizing the guild are looking forward to a good turn-out tonight.  If you’re an Atlanta local, I hope to see you there!

Valentine’s Day Manly Gift Tutorial 2013

Remember last year, when you guys gave me suggestions for a manly Valentine’s Day gift, and I made up a tutorial for all of us (plus a round-up of other tutes around the web)?  Yeah, that was totally fun.


travel power cord roll up


Who’s up for another round?  I’m looking for suggestions for a great hand-made gift for guys for Valentine’s Day.  Throw ’em out there, no matter how crazy they might sound.  Anything goes, as long as it’s manly(ish) and can be sewn–doesn’t even have to be out of fabric, if that’s how you roll.  I’ll run through the suggestions and work up a tutorial for ONE idea in the next week, and debut a free tutorial on Friday, Feb 8!  Just in time to whip up something awesome for that gift-receiving man in your life.


Sewing Knits without the Serger e-course begins today!

sewing knits button

It’s not too late to join the Sewing Knits e-course!  If you loved the knit tee from Stitch Savvy, but you’re not quite sure you’re feeling confident enough to work with the jersey or interlock fabrics you’re seeing around, this is the perfect chance to join a five-week class mastering those techniques.  And even if you’ve conquered your fear, Sewing Knits is such a great way to cement those foundational skills, meet other like-minded folks, and sew up some really great projects!  (You could always try one of the other sewing e-courses for 2013, too.  Just saying.)

Speaking of the knit tee, let’s announce the winners of the Stitch Savvy sample giveaway!

For the Reversible Quilted Satchel, it’s number 41:

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For the Knit Tee, it’s 80:

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Congratulations, Emily K and Monique!  I’ll email you both separately to get your shipping addresses and send these prizes off to you.

If you didn’t win, maybe you’ll feel better if you have a Sewing Buddy?

sewing buddy icon

Sewing Buddy pairs are still being made and Buddies notified via email–never fear, if you haven’t gotten your introductory email, it just means I’m still working on finding your perfect match in the swirly-whirly bin of Sewing Buddy magic!  Sign-ups for 2013 close on Feb 1, so click on over and get yours while you still can!

Stitch Savvy Sample Giveaway!

OK, I’ve been promising all along throughout the Stitch Savvy blog tour, and here it is: I’m giving away TWO samples of projects from the book!  These are the actual samples, made by me and photographed here on the blog or within the pages of the book, using the patterns and projects included in Stitch Savvy.


First up, the knit tee!  This has been a really popular project throughout the blog tour, and I personally love this top.  But I’ve got the blue one from the book, and so I am letting this one go!  It’s a very drapey Italian jersey knit, lightweight but easy to layer.  It’s made on the size M from the Knit Tee pattern, which is a size 6/8 in off-the-rack (but it has a good amount of ease plus it’s a stretchy jersey, so the sizing is pretty forgiving).  I think it’s such a great top for spring/summer/fall layering!

paris satchel

Second sample you could win?  The Reversible Quilted Satchel from the book, in the amazing Japanese cotton/linen canvas Paris print!  I adore this bag, and the fabric, but giving this one away will just motivate me to make another–and it’s such a dreamy fabric!  Perfect size, just the right shape, plenty of body but without being heavy.  Fabulous bag, and on its way to a loving home, I hope!

To win one of these projects and have it sent right to your very home, simply LEAVE A COMMENT here.  Tell me WHICH of the two you’d like–I’ll choose randomly for each prize, but want to be sure if you want the tee and not the bag that you don’t end up with the bag and find yourself disappointed!  If you’d be happy with either, just say EITHER in your comment.

Giveaway is open to anyone, worldwide.  Comments will close on Saturday, January 26 at midnight.  Winner will be awarded Monday, January 28!

sewing buddy icon

While you’re at it, sign up for a Sewing Buddy?  That closes Feb 1, so get those requests in now!  I’m already pairing folks up and just getting ready to send out the first batch of Buddy matches!  Woot!

Enchantment Under the Sea Dress

The final day of the Stitch Savvy blog tour!  I’m so pleased to have my dear friend Marisa of Creative Thursday writing about the book today--she and I met through Lizzy House at Quilt Market years ago, and I think she is just smart, and funny, and open and kind.  I always enjoy spending time hanging out with her on the rare occasions when we’re in the same city, so reading what she has to say about my book is extra sweet!

And as the last sample to share that didn’t make it into the pages of the book, I’ve got TWO versions of the Enchantment Under the Sea Dress!

retro strapless dress stitch savvy

I make no secret of the fact that I love Back to the Future.  And in the scene where Marty takes his mother to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, she’s wearing this divine 50s full-skirted, fitted-bodice dress with a little accent flap in a contrasting fabric on the upper edge of the bodice:


In my memory, the upper edge didn’t have that little snip-and-dip to it, and so the design of the dress from the book reflects that.  My goal wasn’t to re-create the costume exactly but rather to create a dress that’s modern and wearable and that channels the feel and the shape of the 50s–but that’s also completely SEW-able for someone of nearly any skill level.  I feel as though I’ve done that, and this is now one of my very favorite styles from the book.

enchantment under the sea dress stitch savvy

This version is the one I made for myself this past Easter (and a coordinating one with straps, from the book, for my oldest child), and believe it or not, it’s made out of quilting cotton.  I know!  Nothing super fancy or hard to find at all, just a lovely print in a familiar cotton.  The bodice is lined with the same print, and there is interfacing throughout.  No fancy boning or complicated seaming, just a clean, easy sundress that feels great to wear.  The shaping is from darts at the front and back waist, and at the side bust.  There’s an invisible zipper at center back, and a nice, simple hem.

back to the future dress bodice stitch savvy

For this version, I wanted to exploit the stripes in this print, so rather than cutting the bodice on the fold at center front, I cut it in two pieces, on the bias, and created a chevron with the stripes where they meet at center front, instead.  I loooooove the effect, and it has been a super popular display piece at the shop!

There is one alternate version featured in the book–the original dress has straps, of course, and one strapless version is shown on the boo’s pages.  When the photos were taken, though, the stylist neglected to fold down the flap at the upper bodice edge!  Eeek!  I don’t think it’s the end of the world, and I certainly love every single photo in the book, but the dress is designed so that you can leave the flap UP for more coverage or when you make it with straps, as a sundress, and worn DOWN for a sassier strapless dress look.  This one is in an amazing silk taffeta from Italy, and I bought it simply because I wanted to have this dress in something so pretty, to wear to some summer party to which I have yet to be invited but I just know I will because this dress should NOT go to waste:

silk taffeta retro strapless dress stitch savvy

I love the straight seam at the waistline, and the fullness of the skirt that isn’t too poofy and overwhelm me with frilliness.  I love the fitted simplicity of the bodice, and how simple this entire style is to sew.  It’s really fun to make, and makes me feel so pretty to wear!

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Be sure to take some time to explore Marisa’s blog while you’re there reading her Stitch Savvy post today!  She has some amazing paintings that I love, and her own book about her creative journey and how you can tap into your own–a book that is so warm and well written that I can’t imagine you can make it another day without owning it.  Marisa’s fabric, too?  Yes, thank you!

Tomorrow here on the blog: I’m giving away two of the samples featured in Stitch Savvy!  That’s right: two of the projects shown in the book could belong to YOU.  See you then!

Piped Footstool Slip Cover

Today, in the next-to-last post on the Stitch Savvy blog tour, I’m so pleased to have Ellen Luckett Baker of The Long Thread giving her review of the book!  Ellen is such a talented lady, with such a keen eye for clean, modern design.  I’m so excited to see what she thinks of the book–and totally love her fabric suggestions for the projects she liked best.

And I’m sharing the alternate view of the Piped Footstool Slip Cover, which has been really popular with folks over the course of the tour:

stitch savvy piped footstool cover

This is such a fun, simple slip cover to sew up, and the piping really makes it pop.  In Stitch Savvy, the original slip cover is straight and fitted.  This one is a gathered variation, which is also featured in the book as an alternate construction.  I love how light and fluffy it is–just right for a soft girls room!  This was made for an Ikea footstool that came in a number of variations–inexpensive and just the right size for adding a seat in any room in the house!

stitch savvy piped footstool

And when you have such cute babies who need seats, why not add an ottoman or footstool to every room, right?  I wish the pink in this Anna Maria fabric worked better with the girls’ room, because this sweet footstool would totally live in there if it did.

the long thread header

Take some time to tour Ellen’s blog while you’re there to read her review of Stitch Savvy!  She’s got an amazing array of tutorials, but even better than that, she does regular round-ups of tutorials around the web, making it a great one-stop place to find a huge range of ideas and sewing projects.  Plus, Ellen’s new fabric line, Stamped, makes me actually drool with desire!

Last stop on the Stitch Savvy blog tour is tomorrow, and Wednesday of this week I’m giving away TWO samples from the book!