DIY Advent Calendar

Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in Blog, Holidays, Spoonflower | 2 Comments

This is an oldie, but a goodie.

advent calendar

Festive Forest Tree Decorating

This was my winning entry 3 years ago in a Spoonflower contest for advent calendars and it continues to be popular. As the air starts to get a bit chillier, sales on this and my DIY ornaments and angels fabric or wrapping paper start to pick up for the season, and this year is no exception.

advent calendar pockets

Lots of cute forest creatures come out of the pockets, one by one, to adorn a festive birch tree for the holidays. It has become part of the holiday tradition in our home, with my kids taking turns hanging them before breakfasts for the month of December. If you would like to build one into your own family’s traditions, you can order it here (I strongly suggest ordering it on the linen-cotton canvas… it has a beautiful hand and structure that is perfect for the project)>

advent calendar details

Writing this inspired me to create a new one. One that coordinates with a certain Christmas-something that just may be making its debut at Quilt Market this weekend…


The Festive Forest Advent Calendar can be found here.

They are both printed on a yard of fabric with ornaments & instructions printed alongside & a special extra something on the side.

{ Happy Sewing } Origami Oasis Bento Bags

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014 in { Happy Sewing }, Blog, Origami Oasis, Tutorials | 19 Comments

While Origami Oasis certainly was designed with children in mind, I wanted to share a project with you today, The Bento Bag, that really plays on the Origami theme, and that I created with a bit more of a grownup user in mind, though kids can certainly use them as well.

tamara kate - bento bag - origami oasis8

These Japanese-inspired bags are a handy, pretty, environmentally-friendly alternative for packing a snack, a lunch, a small on-the-go sewing or knitting project or, well, just about anything. They are great for organizing smaller items within a larger bag (think of bringing a few along on market runs to use instead of plastic bags) or suitcase (swimsuits or undies), or as an unexpected, reusable gift bag. They can be made in a variety of sizes to suit the right need.

photo #10 - Tamara Kate - bento bag3

The single knot doesn’t look that secure, but trust me, it nestles in the hand in such a way that it holds a bundle of apples just perfectly without slipping and there is plenty of room in the ties to create a double knot if one wishes.

tamara kate - bento bag - origami oasis7

I love the simplicity of their shape. While I recall seeing lovely linen ones in the past, I thought they would be pretty in two contrasting or complimentary fabrics, with a softer drape to them. But have no fear, these are made with double layers of fabric so that they are firstly, strong and secondly, they are well finished with no wrong sides of fabric showing on the inside or the tie tops. Should you wish to have something with a slightly stiffer body, a bit of interfacing on the wrong sides prior to stitching will do the job perfectly.

photo #9 - Tamara Kate - bento bag

Whichever way you look at them, they make a pretty package.

photo #9A - Tamara Kate - bento bag2

With a minor alteration, they can also be made with a flat, boxed-corner bottom that would sit better on the counter as a bowl. So you could go shopping…

tamara kate - bento bag - oprigami oasis2

open your bundle…

tamara kate - bento bag - oprigami oasis3

and leave it sitting prettily in your kitchen.

tamara kate - bento bag - oprigami oasis4

You’d like to whip up a few yourself? No problem! Here’s a tutorial.

What I used:

– a yard each of two pieces of fabric (you will have leftovers). This will make bags the size you see above that will hold about 8 apples or lemons, but you can make them any size you wish.

– sewing thread, acrylic ruler, cutting mat and rotary cutter.

What I did:

Refer to this Cutting & Folding Guide for the following instructions.

origami oasis bento bag cutting & sewing instructions

#1 – From the first piece of fabric, cut a perfect square 32″ x 32″. With right sides together, fold the fabric in half. (If your fabric is directional, have your motifs running the direction of the 32″ arrow in the guide)

#2 – Find the exact centre along the edge opposite the fold. Cut a 45 degree angle down from the centre point to the bottom corners at the fold line.

#3 – With a ¼” seam allowance, stitch along the two edges you just cut. Leave a 4″ opening along one side, about 1″ from the centre point. Clip all the corners to allow for sharp points when turned. Turn the triangle right side out through that 4″ opening, using a pin to gently help pull the corners to sharp points (there is no need to close the 4″ opening here). Press. Repeat with other piece of fabric.

#4 – Lay the 2 triangles on top of each other as in the guide, making sure the centre corners are parallel, as well as the top 2 points and the bottom points. Lightly draw a line (with an erasable fabric marker or chalk) across the centre, as well as just inside the edge of the hidden triangle edges so that you can topstitch as shown in the guide. Topstitch across the centre and an eighth inch from the edges as indicated.

* Choose one of the following:

#5a – Regular corners – Fold the pieces in half, matching the top points. For both bottom corners, measure in 4″ vertically and horizontally from the corners. Connect these points and mark this line lightly. Backstitching at both ends, stitch along the line of the angled corners. Leaving a ¼” seam allowance, cut the extra corner fabric off. Turn the bag wrong side out and press the angled corners sharply. Now you will create a french seam to hide the raw edges. Along the angled corners, sew a line of stitching just beyond where you can feel the raw edges of fabric on the inside, so that when you turn the bag right side out, the edges will be enclosed in the seam. Nice & clean! Still on the wrong side, sew down both long sides (sewing a scant eighth inch from the edge).

All done!


#5b – Boxed corners – Fold the pieces in half, matching the top points. Backstitching at both ends, sew straight up both sides a scant eighth inch from the edge. Press these seams flat. Open the bottom of the bag and fold it flat with one of the side seams in the centre. Draw a line perpendicular to the seam about 3″ from the bottom corner. Sew on this line.Repeat with other corner. Leaving a ¼” seam allowance, cut the extra fabric from the corners. Turn the bag wrong side out, and press the angled corners sharply. Now you will create a french seam to hide the raw edges. Along the angled corners, sew a line of stitching just beyond where you can feel the raw edges of fabric on the inside, so that when you turn the bag right side out, the edges will be enclosed in the seam. Nice & clean!

All done!

tamara kate - bento bag - oprigami oasis5

Patterned Stairway

Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in Blog, Helen's Garden | 20 Comments

We had been living with horrible, dingy brown linoleum covered stairs for years in our home, so a few years ago we decided to rip out the lino & sand and sand and sand, and then paint our stairs white… white treads, white risers, white handrail. With already almost-white walls, it was a refreshing change that brightened the space immensely. My intention had always been to place a happy runner, much like this one, all the way up the centre to add some colour and personality. But with two young kids traipsing up and down those stairs every day, sometimes with pretty muddy feet, and the occasional cup of tea or glass of wine finding its way to them too, I thought better of it.

tamara kate - stairs before

And so we have lived with our white stairs, until a few weeks ago when Greg lamented the lack of colour and personality for the umpteenth time and my very talented big sister came to visit. She’s the kind of person that listens to a problem, proposes a solution, and sits down and tackles and completes it, all in the space of an evening or weekend (me? well, I apparently take about 3 years). First she said we should paint them, or paint a runner along them, or paint the risers, or wallpaper the risers, or… wait… you have fabric… let’s cover the risers with fabric! Easy as that.

Well, almost. We debated trying to cut perfect pieces to fit right to the corners (my stairs are a tad wonky) and adhere them with wallpaper paste, or cut rectangles of thin hardboard (Masonite) to fit, spray them with spray glue, wrap them with fabric (1″ to 2″ extra all the way around, turned smoothly to the back) and seal them with two coats of a water-based Varathane (makes them easy to wipe clean). We went with the second option. This way, when we tire of the colour and patterns, we can easily switch the fabric out for another batch.

We worked production style, with Greg cutting the wood to fit and Kari and me cutting and wrapping fabric. The Varathaning was done over two evenings so as to give them ample time to dry between coats. A generous strip of double-sided tape at each end secures them to the stair risers, and voila! Pretty, pretty stairs with whimsy and personality!

tamara kate - stairs with fabric risers

We chose a variety of patterns from the Dahlia colour way of Helen’s Garden and added Spot in Starfruit from Origami Oasis that matches perfectly.

tamara kate - stairs with fabric risers detail

Next project? Some artwork and photos for those blank walls. But my sister has gone home, so who knows how long that will take me.

Finally – Instagram & Phone Cases

Posted by on Oct 6, 2014 in Blog | No Comments

I turned 45 last month. To celebrate, the sweet man in my life thought I was finally old enough to have a cell phone (I know, I know, how did I get by… but I’ve been holding out all these years, just not wanting to have something else to eat my time).

tamara kate instagram banner

So, I thought, what’s something fun I can do with this new gadget? Well, I have finally joined Instagram! I’m trying to remember to use it with regularity and I’d love it if you would follow along on my adventures there to encourage me to keep it up. I think it will be the perfect place to show little sneak previews of projects I’m working on and to host fun giveaways.
tamara kate for nuvango2

Another fun thing that comes with having a new phone is dressing it up. I’ve opened a Nuvango shop so that I and you can do just that. I have uploaded some fun Origami Oasis images (including a few of my favourites that didn’t make the final cut for the fabric collection, but I wish had), as well as a few favourites from Flight Patterns and Helen’s Garden – I’ve got all you butterfly and dragonfly lovers covered.
tamara kate for nuvango

Nuvango offers other tech accessories as well, so your iPad and laptop won’t feel naked either. You can visit my shop here.

Origami Oasis – Grassland Quilt

Posted by on Oct 3, 2014 in Blog, Origami Oasis, Quilts, Tutorials | 6 Comments

tamara kate origami oasis grassland quilt

I created this quilt for my son who is a true colour lover. It suits his personality perfectly, as he is vivacious and fun-loving and loves imagining he is a wild animal (usually a lion), roaming the savannah that is our home, on a fairly regular basis.

My intention was to show off some of the larger scale prints in Origami Oasis and to capture the feel of colour moving across space. I used all the prints from the Grassland group, as well as Spot and Fold, both in Starfruit, from the Flower Fields group. To let all that colour have a chance to breathe a bit, the light & lovely Floret breaks things up. The binding is Crossing Paths in lime because I love the colour and because green was about the only colour I allowed to meander throughout the quilt top in a big way. And since I love making binding that has little variations throughout, I randomly interspersed tiny hits of other bold prints I had used in the top.

tamara kate origami oasis grassland quilt reds

The juicy orangey-reds.

tamara kate origami oasis grassland quilt blues

And the cool blues.

I think a quilt back is just another opportunity to be creative, so I centred the Oasis Border print in a field of Floret, much like a window into another world, added a rainbow band to tie in the fabrics used in the front and tried my hand at paper piecing for the first time in the addition of his sweet name. In all honesty, I need to find a better tutorial on paper piecing than the one I was working from… I mentally thanked Greg and myself many times for choosing a three-letter name for our boy while I reached for the seam ripper for the umpteenth time.

tamara kate origami oasis grassland quilt back

tamara kate origami oasis grassland quilt back2

tamara kate origami oasis grassland quilt back3

You can download full instructions for the free quilt top pattern here on the Michael Miller website. Enjoy!

Origami Oasis Quilted Tangram Pillow by Josee Carrier

Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in Blog, Origami Oasis | 2 Comments

I first met Josee Carrier when I joined the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild (she is Vice President & a co-founder) late last year and have been an ardent admirer of her work ever since. Her background in engineering is highly evident in her quilting work with lovely technical piecing and hyper accurate quilting.

She also has two adorable little boys for whom she sews regularly, one of whom is the lucky recipient of her latest creation, a fun tangram pillow using Origami Oasis.

josee carrier

Come read all about it on the Michael Miller blog. You definitely don’t want to miss the beautiful quilting job she did on the back of it and she generously provides the paper piecing templates she created so you can make one of your own. You will also see the other sweet project she whipped up on the side, which I think I may have to copy for my own little boy.

Thank you, Josee! Your work continues to blow me away!