Quilting With Solids – Bloomin’ Quilt

Posted by on Feb 19, 2015 in Blog, Quilts, Tutorials | 3 Comments

Part 2 of my venture into the world of solids.

We had a bout of grey days here a few weeks ago and I’m one of those people who feels the lack of natural light down to my core. Needing a pick-me-up, I decided to create a quilted garden in my sewing room.

tamara kate - bloomin quilt

Like the Cobblestone quilt, I kept the shapes and layout simple and graphic so that I could really just play with, and highlight colour.

tamara kate - bloomin quilt detail

On a bed of white, I opted for a range of pinks, from cool to warm, light and soft to deep and rich and everything in between. Then I contrasted them with a range of greens. They are all luscious shades of Michael Miller Fabrics’ Cotton Couture line. The result just makes me happy.

tamara kate - bloomin quilt detail3

The quilting was achieved by tracing a large gradual arc with a stylus, then quilting with a walking foot. The Janome 8200 that I sew with has a gizmo attached to the walking foot that can be set to any width to echo quilting lines. I was thus able to create lines set 3/4″ apart with great ease and rapidity. I repeated this process in 4 or 5 spots to keep the eye busy and to create interesting shapes where the arcs intersected.

tamara kate - bloomin quilt detail2

When it came to binding, I was undecided as to which soft colour to choose so I randomly cut a number of colours and patched them together to create a little more happiness.

tamara kate - bloomin quilt detail4

There is a free tutorial for the Bloomin’ Quilt on the Michael Miller site here with a list of all the yummy shades I used.

Happy Quilting!

Quilting With Solids – Cobblestone Quilt

Posted by on Feb 12, 2015 in Blog, Quilts, Tutorials | One Comment

I love pattern! I know … big surprise. I thought however that it was about time I tried my hand at quilting with solids. Michael Miller’s line of Cotton Couture solids is so dreamy soft to work with and they just keep adding more & more colours to the range. They’re up to 150 now!

tamara kate - cobblestone quilt

For my first attempt, I decided to work with a colour palette I would not usually tend towards with muted shades of greys, teals and mauves and a punch of gold to perk up the range.

tamara kate - cobblestone quilt detail

I worked out a layout based on a dream tile floor and set it all on a 45º angle. To avoid a monotonous look and keep the eye moving about, I also interspersed smaller squares within a few of the larger ones.

tamara kate - cobblestone quilt detail2

To keep things interesting I opted to quilt each square a bit differently (yes, there’s a bit of duplication, but not much), all using a walking foot.

tamara kate - cobblestone quilt detail3

You can find a free tutorial for the Cobblestone Quilt on the Michael Miller website here with a list of all the luscious colours I used.

Oh, and if you’re heading to Quiltcon next week, stop by the Michael Miller booth and you’ll see the Cobblestone Quilt in person!

Valentine Quilts

Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in Blog, Holidays, Quilts, Tutorials | 4 Comments

Have you heard? Michael Miller Fabrics has a new valentine fabric collection, Sweetheart. I love a good heart fabric, so I was inspired to get creative when I saw the collection, along with a few other prints like their charming Cherry Dot. I decided that a couple Valentine themed quilts were in order.

valentines quilts

First, there’s “Lots of Love“, which I am quite enamoured with for its graphic simplicity. Once I figured out how to connect all the hearts together (lots of staring at them, shifting them around and trying to get my head around the geometry of it all) I came up with something that is quite easy to make using a 60° triangle ruler.

Lots of Love quilt

I quilted it with a walking foot, framing each heart, then randomly selected a few hearts to echo this frame a number of times.

Lots of Love quilt detail

In this next image you can catch a tiny glimpse of the backing fabric, Crossing Paths in Red, one of my own fabrics with Michael Miller.

Lots of Love quilt folded

Then I made “Cupid’s Arrow“, adding some low volume black & white prints for the ground. This one is a bit more involved, but pretty simple to create as well, with half-square triangles for the heart and some strip piecing that’s then cut on an angle for the arrow tails.

cupid's arrow quilt

I also threw some Cotton Couture solids into this one and used this fun script print on the back. It is quilted with simple straight horizontal & vertical lines.

cupid's arrow quilt folded2

I love that when it’s folded and displayed on a ladder it can be hung horizontally or vertically.

cupid's arrow quilt folded4

cupid's arrow quilt folded3

Free tutorials for both these quilts can be found on the Michael Miller website here and here. Sending love your way!

Machine Embroidered Boy’s Wallet Tutorial

Posted by on Jan 13, 2015 in Blog, Janome, Origami Oasis, Tutorials | 4 Comments

Happy New Year, just a mere almost two weeks late! I hope you all enjoyed festive and relaxing holidays.

It seems like I have been quilting and quilting and quilting lately, and not much else (not necessarily a bad thing). I finished up the latest one on my list last week (more on that next week) and decided I needed a decidedly smaller sewing project that would be quick and fun.

My son has a bit of a fixation lately with carrying his money with him whenever we head out the door to a store. The only problem with that is that he does not have a proper wallet, so uses a coin purse or whatever small bag he can put his hands on at the moment. As his birthday is coming up in a few days, I decided to make him a real big boy wallet.

tamara kate machine embroidered wallet

He is fascinated by all the stitch possibilities on the Janome machine I use (MC8200) and frequently asks me to stitch little airplanes or scissors on some scrap of fabric lying around to give to a friend at school, so I thought I’d do a mini embroidery sampler for the main wallet fabric.

janome stitch library
Just a taste of the many stitches available on the MC8200

As this machine is computerized, it’s as simple as pressing a button to choose your stitch and then adjusting the width as desired. I did a practice run of a number of stitches to choose the ones I thought would work best. I cut a rectangle of denim from an old pair of jeans of his that were ripped, penciled 1″ marks along one side edge and started a new line of stitching at each mark. Where there seemed to be a bit too much of a gap (after the waves), I inserted a line of tiny stars.

tamara kate janome machine embroideryt

A few lines of orange really makes it pop.

tamara kate machine embroidered wallet detail

Wanting to make it fun, with colourful compartments for most of what he might need, I made 2 gift card compartments, a velcro-closing change purse and a space for bills (and/or important drawings and notes). Interior fabrics are: Spot in Starfruit (yellow) and Scribble Cars in Clementine.

tamara kate boys wallet

Wanting to make sure there would be no chance of anything sliding out, I positioned the card openings toward the centre fold of the wallet, the velcro on the change purse goes almost the whole width of the purse & the bills are held in by the centre fold.

I worked out all the kinks on this one, then made another to hone the pattern so I could offer you the following tutorial:

What I used:

For all following fabrics, the 1st measurement is the VERTICAL, the 2nd HORIZONTAL.

A – 1 piece 2½” x 4″ (coin purse flap)
B – 1 piece 7½” x 3½” (coin purse front)
C – 1 piece 4½” x 13¾” (card panel)
D – 1 piece 8½” x 7½” (bill fold)
E – 1 piece 5″ x 7½” (external fabric)
F – 1 piece 2½” x 2″ (snap tab)

tamara kate fabric wallet fabrics
Fabrics: Spot in Starfruit, Crossing Paths in Lime and Stand Tall in Grass.

– Mid-weight iron-on interfacing: Cut the same size of pieces C, E & F.

– 1 piece velcro 2″ x 1/2″

– 1 plastic snap (you will need snap pliers to attach this) OR you could use velcro.

What I did:

All seams are 1/4″.

Iron interfacing to back of C, E & F.

Refer to the following diagram where indicated.

wallet instructions

Piece F: Fold in half , right sides together, so that piece measures 1¼” x 2″. Sew along long edge. Move seam to the centre of the tube & press seam open. Sew along 1 short edge. Clip corners & turn right side out. Press & set aside.

Piece A: Fold in half, right sides together, so that piece measures 1¼” x 3″. Sew along 2 short sides. Clip corners & turn right side out. Top stitch along 2 short edges and folded edge. Securely sew velcro to the underside, centred, 1/4″ above folded edge.

Piece B: Wrong sides together, fold in half so piece measures 4¼” x 7½”. Choose a front & a back.

Piece C: Measure and lightly mark along 1 long edge the following, starting at the right edge: 1¾”, 1½”, 2¼”, 1½”. Fold and press accordion style, as in fig 1.

Place piece B on piece C so that front of B is against right side of C, bottom edges align and left edge of B is 3¼” from left edge of C (as in fig 2). Sew 3½” from left edge of piece C. Sew velcro onto front of piece B (only B), 1/2″ from seam line and 1/8″ below fold.

With back of B against C, place A in position at top of B so that velcro lines up. Pin top of A onto C, then move B to the left, out of the way. Place the base of D, right sides together on top of C, aligning top edges. Stitch across top edge (fig 3).

Fold D to back of C along seam. Press flat. Measure down 3½” from seam on D and fold up, right sides together. Press (fig 4). This is the completed wallet interior (WI).

tamara kate fabric wallet4

Place F, seam side down on top of WI so that raw edge of F is centred along & aligns with right edge of WI.  Place E, right sides together on top of WI. Pin in place.

If available, I suggest using a walking foot to sew this next step: Starting 2″ in from right side at top edge, sew all the way around, stopping 2″ in from left of top edge (fig 5). Clip corners. Turn right side out. Close top opening by hand stitching with an invisible stitch. If desired, top stitch around exterior perimeter.

tamara kate fabric wallet3
tamara kate fabric wallet2

Attach one side of the snap to the snap tab and the other half to the wallet, through to the inside of the bill fold (2 layers of fabric).

tamara kate fabric wallet


Origami Oasis – Oasis Frolic Quilt by Jenn Topp

Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Blog, Origami Oasis, Quilts, Tutorials | No Comments

Jenn Topp is another Montreal-based quilter I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know through the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild. Her quilts that I have seen thus far are joyful, playful and colourful. She also has a little boy at home who shares his room with a 5ft tall giraffe, so I thought she might like to play around with Origami Oasis. This delightful quilt for her son is what she came up with, playing on the kite shapes in the collection’s Mountain & Valley print.

jenn topp - oasis frolic quilt

Jenn has generously written a tutorial for the quilt, providing the paper piecing pattern for those kites as well. To download your free copy, head on over here to the Michael Miller website.

Fiesta Lap Quilt

Posted by on Nov 10, 2014 in Blog, Quilts, Tutorials | 8 Comments

tamara kate - fiesta quilt2

One of the new fabric lines by Michael Miller that made its debut at Quilt Market this fall is Fiesta. I love the warm Southwestern vibe, captured so beautifully in these Michael Miller mood boards.
QM panel v1

QM panel v2

The chocolate colour way really caught my eye and inspired me to create an easy lap quilt.

tamara kate - fiesta quilt5

Whether you look at it vertically, as above, or horizontally, the way I was working on it, I hope you can sense the arrow inspiration.

tamara kate - fiesta quilt

I quilted it very simply, with straight lines, and cut the binding fabric to look like a row of tiny arrow heads, though tiny hearts are probably what jump out more.

tamara kate - fiesta quilt4

I have written up a free downloadable pattern if you would like to create one yourself. Just hop on over to the Michael Miller website right here.

tamara kate - fiesta quilt3

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 Blog, Origami Oasis, Tutorials, { Happy Sewing } | 6 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 and then up both sides (sewing a scant eighth inch from the edge for the straight sides). Leaving a ¼” seam allowance, cut the extra fabric from the angled corners.


#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.

#6 – 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.