{ Happy Sewing } … Hand Warmers

Searching for an idea for last minute teachers’ gifts, hostess gifts or stocking stuffers for a loved one?

tamara kate ... hand warmers

I was doing just that yesterday when I came upon this lovely post for scented sachets. Alas, I had no easy access to a bushel of lavender on a cold snowy day, but I had the idea of making them into hand warmers … exactly what one wants on such a day. In place of lavender buds, I filled mine with rice (I started with sushi rice, and am now onto basmati, as I have gone overboard with stacks of these pretty little packets.

A simple, quick, pretty gift idea that uses fabric scraps you have lying around your studio. A wonderful plus is that they can also be stuck in the freezer to be used as eye packs to refresh tired peepers. Should you feel the urge to whip up a few of your own, read on:

What I used:

– For each warmer you will need 2 pieces of 4″ x 4″ fabric. I chose a number of co-ordinating patterned fabrics from Flight Patterns and Helen’s Garden for the tops and more simple, yet colourful, fabrics for the backs (Parterre in all its colour options worked wonderfully)!

– ¼ cup rice.

– co-ordinazting thread for stitching together & for the little tuck in the centre of each warmer.

What I did:

As I made a gazillion of them, I did it production-style. A Match your fronts to backs, right sides together. With a ¼” seam allowance, sew along one edge and, without raising your machine’s presser foot, continue onto the next warmer, and the next until they all have one edge sewn. Clip all those extra chains of sewing between each & start again with another side, then another. You should now have 3 edges sewn shut on each warmer. B For the final edge, start sewing about 1″, then backstitch to secure your sewing. Raise the presser foot, skip about 1½”, lower foot and sew to the end (remember to backstitch both ends so your stitches don’t get pulled out when turning your warmer right side out).

hand warmers instructions

C Clip all your corners diagonally, being careful not to clip any stitching. Turn warmers right side out, using a pin to get the corners as sharp as possible.

Use a funnel to fill with rice. Using a slip stitch, close your opening, then make a knot right at the fabric surface, insert needle just beside the knot & exit about ½” further along. Gently pull your thread until the knot pops through to the inside of your warmer, thus nicely hiding it. Cut your thread where it exits from the fabric.

Last step is the stitched tuck in the centre. Measure or eyeball the centre of the square. Starting on the back side, insert needle with unknotted thread through to the front, leaving an end 3″ or 4″ long at the back. Make a stitch about 1/8″ long, and bring your thread through to the back. Repeat this stitch 3 or 4 times. Pull both ends of the thread taut, then make a double knot. Insert both loose ends into the warmer with a needle, coming out ½” away. Clip ends at fabric surface.

I even made a little instruction card to go with them that you can download to print here:

Hand Warmers Instruction Card

I chose to go with sets of 6 that co-ordinate well together. Place your instruction card at the bottom, stack 6 lovely warmers atop each other, tie with a pretty ribbon, and voila! Pretty present to go!

tamara kate ... hand warmers with ribbon

hand warmers happy holidays

Helen’s Garden Purses

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in { Happy Sewing }, Blog, Helen's Garden | No Comments

Helen’s Garden has started shipping to stores!!!

To provide an initial bit of sewing inspiration, I wanted to feature these gorgeous bags that Jennifer Ladd so creatively whipped up for me for my Quilt Market booth.

Helen’s Garden offers so many colour and pattern matching possibilities, that with just a few fat quarters of fabric, some stiff fabric interfacing, and some lovely wooden handles (a Google search brings up many possibilities), one could create a stylish gift.

With some careful cutting, patterns can almost seamlessly align as above. Or one could go all out featuring one eye-catching print like the Dahlia Medallion (I could not come to part with this one, so it is an early Christmas present to myself).

The interiors of Jennifer’s bags are as artfully done as the exteriors. She uses a contrasting fabric as lining, in this case Enchanted in cream, and even a little pocket in yet another fabric, Pollen.

If you are loving these pretty purses as much as I am, and are not quite so craftily inclined as to try creating one for yourself, Jennifer should soon have these and possibly others made of Helen’s Garden fabrics available in her Etsy shop.

Marché Casse Noisette

Posted by on Dec 12, 2013 in Blog | No Comments

It’s been quiet here. I’ve been a busy woman. Who hasn’t lately?

This is the third year in a row that Greg & I have been exhibiting at the 10-day Marché Casse Noisette (Nutcracker Market) in Montreal. My work life outside of designing fabric has consisted of designing labelling for our company that makes indoor gardening kits (think everything you need to grow a …). While Mano Verde was a wholesale venture for 8 years, we have pared things back in the past year to focus on other things, but still keep our hands in the dirt, so to speak, by participating in fun events directly with the final customer. The market is put on by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal and a percentage of all exhibitors’ proceeds help underprivileged children attend performances of the ballet.

Every year I sew up a stack of tea towels to sell at the market. Here are some of last year’s models.

This year they all went so quickly, I had extra space available and brought a slew of fat quarters to sell. While they definitely could have used ironing, they added a great colourful splash to the booth.

It was a fun venture that took a fair bit of prep time and all those days of chatting with cheery holiday shoppers that were tickled by the idea of offering a little gardening kit to a friend, or a small stack of locally designed fabric to the sewer in their lives. It has definitely put me in the holiday mood, though I can do without hearing another christmas carol for a good while.

And now I am back to having time to focus on this little venture. We celebrated Hanukah a week ago, the laundry is finally being tended to, festive cookies were made for the sweet little boy-in-my-life’s school christmas breakfast (cookies for breakfast … yes please) this morning, and hopefully we can get our act together to find a tree this weekend to make the house sparkle a bit.

Hope you are all finding time to embrace the warmth and cheer of the season.