Stitching Family Heirlooms

I’ve been thinking about my creative grandmothers lately. First, my maternal grandmother (that’s what we called her, Grandmother … she was quite a lady, born into a very “proper” New Brunswick family in 1905).

Thinking of the things she lovingly sewed for her three granddaughters when we were little girls. I have the baby quilt she made for me that my own daughter sleeps with now.

And she also made each of us a tote bag to carry our books. I think mine disintegrated from overuse at some point, but somehow I ended up with my older sister’s.

She obviously loved doing appliqué work, which is probably why I enjoy it too, though I admit I am nowhere as good at it as she was. And her embroidery and crewel work skills are to be envied, for sure. Just look at all those teeny-tiny buttonhole stitches framing every fanciful bird in my blanket.

This is a cushion cover she created for me long, long ago. It is now stained and threadbare in spots, so I don’t use it for fear of it reaching the end of its life, but you can see it has been well loved through the years.

And another I have inherited that was folded away in a drawer at my Mom’s, but now takes pride of place in our home.

While my Grandmother used beautiful quality linens, cottons and yarns in harmonious colours, my Dad’s mom, Grand Mummy, was more creative with her fabric choices. She wasn’t picky about the fibres she used, probably a result of living in Trinidad where one was limited by what was available on the comparatively tiny island. At times she made dolls to sell to tourists from lots of zany polyester prints. One of my only memories associated with her is of bags of scraps of fabrics in a gazillion hot colours.

She made us each a mad random patchwork quilt (in various crazy patterned fabrics of unknown origin) that we sadly no longer have. What I do still have, however, is a “Snow White & the 7 Dwarves” set. I don’t know what she stuffed them with … they are really hard. And I have no idea what to do with them, but this girl who was never ever interested in visiting Disney Land, loves them completely.

I am probably a bit more my Grandmother in my sewing style and choices, but I strive to make choices with a bit more of the abandon that my Grand Mummy used. Either way, I would like to leave my children, and hopefully some day grandchildren, with some heirlooms of my own to carry on this tradition.

Embroidered Butterflies

Posted by on Aug 26, 2013 in Blog, Embroidery, Hand Stitching | 6 Comments

At Quilt Market, Art Gallery Fabrics was giving out little packages of 3 die-cut butterflies from their solid-colored fabrics. I knew I wanted to embellish them in some way, and this is what happened:

First I did a version of a buttonhole stitch around each one to attach them to the ground fabric, and then started stitching on the coral one. I haven’t done much embroidery in a long time, so my first attempt was tentative and safe. I added little glass beads to jazz things up a bit.

The blue came next. By this point I felt slightly more adventurous and tried to make things a bit more free-flowing and creative. And then with the yellow I aimed for something simpler and more modern.

Happy with the evolution!

Next up … Making a cushion cover with it!

Guest Blogging Again at Michael Miller

Posted by on Aug 25, 2013 in Blog, Les Monsieurs | No Comments

A quick note to say I have done another guest blog post on the Michael Miller blog, introducing Les Monsieurs.

And yes, once again, there is a giveaway!

So, head on over …..

{ Happy Sewing } … Little Backpacks Tutorial

Should be organizing, making lists, trying to switch gears to be ready for a new school year. My disorganized self still has oodles of books, pencils, crayons … you name it, to buy. So, why not procrastinate with the necessities just a bit longer and instead make a few easy, cute, soft backpacks for gym clothes instead? I’m in!

What I Used:
One 13″ wide x 30″ long piece of fabric for exterior. Note, if your print is a directional one, like the Monsieur Blocks green bag, you will want instead two pieces 13″ wide x 15½” long so that one side of your bag doesn’t have upside down little men or castles on it.

One 13″ x 30″ piece of fabric for lining. This could be a basic solid colour fabric, but I prefer the added little surprise for the recipient of having a contrasting lining.

Three meters of cording or soft (but strong) ribbon. A not-too-wide gros grain would work well.

What I Did:
Unless otherwise indicated, all seam allowances are ¼”.

If you have two pieces of exterior fabric, place them right sides together with both prints facing the top, and stitch across the bottom 13″ with a ½” seam.

If you are going to add any decorative patches or stitching to the front, now is the time to do it. I centred the patches I used horizontally and placed them about 6″ from the top. On the Scribble Cars orange bag I used a small narrow zigzag machine stitch to attach the patch. On the Faceted Flight triangle print, I embroidered the patch on with small buttonhole stitching.

Here are the visuals for the following instructions:

Right sides together, place lining fabric on exterior fabric and sew two short ends (see A). You should have a tube.

Keeping right sides together, arrange the tube so that those 2 seams you just made are lined up in the centre. Mark 1″ from each end on each side, except on one lining end, mark about 5″ from the end (to turn fabric right side out). Also mark centre seam and ¾” from centre seam on each side of exterior fabric (to pass the cord). Sew from each mark to the next along the long sides (4 lines of stitching in total) (see B).

Turn fabric right side out. Top stitch 5″ opening to 1″ from folded edge (see C).

Insert lining into exterior fabric. Sew all the way around top, ¾” from folded edge to form casing (see D).

Cut cording or ribbon in half. If using cording, lightly scorch ends with a flame to stop them from unravelling. Using a safety pin or bodkin, insert one end into one side of casing and pass it all the way through to exit at the same edge (see E). Repeat with other side.

Insert ½” of 2 cord or ribbon ends into the 1″ opening left at the bottom edge of the bag, passing through opening in lining as well. Top stitch the opening a few times. Repeat with other side.

All done!


Embroidered Wings

Posted by on Aug 19, 2013 in Blog, Embroidery, Hand Stitching | 3 Comments

I spent some peaceful summer hours outside stitching this past weekend. This season & I … we were truly meant for each other!

{ Happy Sewing } … Ruffled Neckline Dress

Posted by on Aug 14, 2013 in { Happy Sewing }, Blog, Flight Patterns | 4 Comments

I learned to sew at a very young age. My Mom made most of our clothes when we were little (and also when we were no longer quite so little). She had learned from her Mom, and so it goes. Emma is impressing me with her abilities when she can sit still long enough to focus on a stitching project and just yesterday Max started sewing a pyjama top for his favourite doudou (stuffed creature). I love the sense of nostalgia that sewing awakens in me. I love creating for my family. I love when my son wants to wear some dressy item I made him on any old day, just because it’s special.

And so, I am determined to try to sit at the machine more regularly to create.

This is a dress I made for Em recently. It is completely lined with a fine batiste cotton (so light, you don’t even notice it). I based the body of it on a few of her existing dresses, but made it a wrap version with ruffled neckline. I love the way my Bargello print works here. And I love that she loves putting it on.

See all the love that comes from sewing?

{ Happy Sewing } … Monsieur Pocket Pillow Tutorial

Posted by on Aug 12, 2013 in { Happy Sewing }, Blog, Les Monsieurs, Tutorials | 6 Comments

My son loves arranging things (pillows, stuffed animals, etc) on his bed and he’s been asking for a personalized pillow for some time now. My Les Monsieurs fabric line offered the perfect inspiration. I decided to be really playful with the personalization aspect, and created a soft 2-sided doll. One side is Max today, the other side is his dream of being a race car driver/pilot.

What I used:

A 16″ x 24″ pillow insert (available at IKEA). The finished pillow will be smaller than this, resulting in a nice full pillow rather than a floppy one.

Fabric pieces that can all be cut from a fat quarter of each of the following prints from the Aviator colourway (letters refer to diagrams & tutorial instructions):

A – Les Monsieurs en Ville

B – Castle Blocks

C – Tire Treads (orange)

D – Monsieur Blocks

E – Tire Treads (yellow)

F – Gentlemen Start Your Engines

A 4.5″ x 9″ scrap of natural cotton

A bit of extra stuffing (I used fiber fill) for the doll

White thread

Acrylic or fabric paints and a few paint brushes in varied sizes


What I did:

I used 1/2″ seam allowances everywhere.

First, cut pieces for the front of the pillow as follows:

A – 25.5″ wide x 15″ high. Then cut this piece vertically 15″ from left edge. You will have 2 pieces (one 15″ x 15″, and another 10.5″ x 15″), with the pattern continuing across them.

C – 2″ wide x 15″ high

D – 10.5″ wide x 6.75″ high

Here is a diagram for placement:

For the pocket, fold under 1/4″ along the top edge of D, toward the wrong side of the fabric, then fold again 1/2″ down. Sew a line 3/8″ from the folded edge. This creates the finished edge of the pocket.

Place D on top, all the way to the bottom, of the smaller piece A, lining up bottom and side edges. (Wrong side of D against the right side of A). Pin in place. Now position C on top of these two, right sides together,along the left edge. Pin and sew from top to bottom. Open and iron seam toward C. Position larger piece A on C, right sides together, along the left edge. Sew from top to bottom. Iron seam toward C.

Now cut your pillow back, B, 25.5″ wide x 15″ high. With right sides together, place B on pieced-together front, matching edges. Pin and stitch all the way around, leaving an opening along the right side large enough to insert the pillow. Clip corners and turn right-side out. Insert pillow. Using an invisible stitch, close the opening. Push the pillow all the way to the left of your cover and machine stitch a line from top to bottom about 2.5″ from the cover’s right edge to create a decorative flange.

For the doll, cut one piece each 6″ high x 4.5″ wide from fabrics E and F. Using the following diagram as a guide, cut the top corners to form rounded shoulders.


Cut 2 circles with a 4.5″ diameter from the natural cotton. Now the fun part … the personalization. Keeping in mind your 1/2″ seam allowance, use a pencil to draw a simplified version of your boy’s face and one of the imaginary race car driver/aviator on your circles. Below you can find a bit of visual inspiration. It’s really not hard, just stick to basic shapes to mimic hair style, add a few small circles for eyes and a little mischievous grin.

Now the paint. Use a test scrap of fabric first to get the feel of the paint. You really don’t want to use much water, as that will cause your paint to bleed on the fabric. Just fill in the shapes you have drawn and co-ordinate the helmet colours with the fabrics. Let them completely dry.

Clip the curves at the neck edge of the face so that you are able to turn the seam allowance to the back smoothly. Using an invisible stitch, sew the neck edge of the head to the top of the body. Repeat for other side. Right sides together, sew the doll front to the back, leaving an opening at the base. Clip curves and turn right side out. Stuff and close the bottom with an invisible stitch.

Place the monsieur in his pocket and you are all done!

Guest Blogging Over at Michael Miller

Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 in Blog, Flight Patterns, Tutorials | 5 Comments

Today I am excited to be guest blogging on the Michael Miller Fabrics blog, Making it Fun.

Head on over for a little Flight Patterns inspiration … a bit about how the collection came to be, some pretty project pictures and a GIVEAWAY!

Also, a tutorial for this quilt

Did I mention a giveaway?

{ Happy Sewing } … Desk Chair

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 in { Happy Sewing }, Blog, Les Monsieurs | 2 Comments

Le petit Monsieur in my life was the oh-so-happy recipient of a cute wooden desk I had found on the roadside recently. I figured he needed his very own personalized chair to go with it.

I asked him to choose which Les Monsieur fabric he would like me to use (I was thinking just one piece), and my sometimes very vague boy described what you see below in such specific detail, I had to oblige. The centre print is Castle Blocks, the more open ground green is Monsieur Blocks, and the orange and white diagonal stripes are a fine cut of this Tire Treads chevron, all in the Soft Top colour way.

It was a really simple project. I removed the old upholstery fabric and used that as my basic template. I cut my strips of fabric (keeping in mind 1/2″ seam allowances), trying to keep the monsieur’s in the prints centred. I stitched them together, added a fresh layer of batting over the existing seat foam, pulled tightly on the fabric for a nice smooth surface and stapled away underneath.

I then had to add a little something extra, because sometimes more is more. I was inspired by this gorgeous chair I had seen on Pinterest. A word of warning … keeping all that yarn smooth and tight while wrapping … well, that’s why I stopped where I did.

Oh, and the castle painting in the top photo is one I did for Max 2 Summers ago, which was also partial inspiration for the fabric collection.

Candy Forest Swimsuits!

Posted by on Aug 5, 2013 in Blog, Licensing | No Comments

I just spied some oh-so-cute swimsuits made with my Candy Forest collection of fabrics. I had licensed this collection early last year to Jelly the Pug. I knew they would be creating a line of dresses with it, but I almost fell off my chair when I saw these this morning.

From sporty to more girly-girly with ruffles … cute!