Stitched Together Sews Birds & the Bees

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Birds & The Bees, Blog | No Comments

stitched together shorts2

Rachel of Stitched Together whipped up a sweet pair of City Gym Shorts for her daughter, Iris using Love Bug from Birds & the Bees. A little Cotton Couture in Charcoal for the bias trim finishes them off perfectly.

DC6825_Stone - Love Bug

The ladybugs are the hidden surprise in this fabric.

stitched together shorts

Hop on over here for a closer look. I so love these, I think I’m going to go sew a pair for Em this afternoon. Thanks for the cute inspiration, Rachel!

Welcome to the Mouse House Plays With Birds & the Bees

Posted by on Jun 25, 2015 in Birds & The Bees, Blog | 2 Comments

Yet another fun dress made with Birds & the Bees Fabrics today.

mouse house - ishi3

Hayley of Welcome to the Mouse House has gone modern, colour blocking with the Ishi Dress from Straight-Grain. And her daughter, Ainsley seems to love it!

mouse house - ishi2

Head on over to her blog for loads of great puddle-jumping pictures.

mouse house - ishi

Thanks for this fun contribution, Hayley. I really love it!

Patty Sloniger pieces Birds & the Bees

Posted by on Jun 23, 2015 in Birds & The Bees, Blog | 2 Comments

My friend and fellow Michael Miller fabric designer, Patty Sloniger has created the sweetest Geranium dress for her daughter using Birds & The Bees fabric, don’t you agree?

patty sloniger - birds & the bees dress2

Lovely, precisely pieced chevron work on the bodice brings another dimension to this dress, making it totally original and she just happened to use my very favourite print of the collection, All the Wee Beasts, for the skirt.

patty sloniger - birds & the bees dress

Have a closer look at the details and more pictures of gorgeous Emma on Patty’s blog.

Thanks for your creative contribution, Patty. You’ve inspired me to go play with fabric this morning.

Elegance & Elephants does Birds & the Bees

Posted by on Jun 19, 2015 in Birds & The Bees, Blog | No Comments

Heidi of Elegance & Elephants is a favourite indie children’s clothing designer of mine. She makes the sweetest clothes and her adorable kids model them for her blog.

elegance & elephants - Bird9

Today she is sharing her latest creations, made with a few other designers’ patterns and BIRDS & THE BEES fabric.

Swing by her blog for lots of gorgeous pictures of these 2 cuties modelling their new duds.

elegance & elephants - Bird6

Thanks so much Heidi. Beautiful work!

A Birds & The Bees Fabric Giveaway

Posted by on Jun 17, 2015 in Birds & The Bees, Blog | 4 Comments

To help kick off the release of Birds & The Bees to stores, today I am guest blogging over at Michael Miller Fabrics.

I walk you through my thought process in the designing of Birds & The Bees,


I share some sewing project inspiration

birds & the bees dress

including two new free quilt patterns,

flight formation quilt detail2 - tamara kate

and announce a fabric giveaway amounting to about 15 yards of fabric in total! Yep, FIFTEEN!!!



So come take a look and try your luck. Two somebodies have to win… wouldn’t it be great if you were one!


Birds & The Bees

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in Birds & The Bees, Blog | 6 Comments

birds & the bees - tamara kate

Just in time for warm weather & warm weather apparel comes BIRDS & THE BEES, my latest fabric collection with Michael Miller Fabrics!

birds and the bees bolts
Photo: Michael Miller Fabrics

Birds & The Bees is a little exploration into my love for winged creatures (they tend to make an appearance in the grand majority of my design work).

Where many see pesky bugs, I see pure magic. From large ostentatious birds perpetually seeking the spotlight, to the tiniest, delicately patterned bugs fluttering around a flower garden, I am constantly amazed by them all. The heights to which they can soar, their occasional, seemingly unplanned, comical flight paths, the patterning on their plumage… They are the thing of dreams.

There is a coral, teal & charcoal colour story, called Ladybug

ladybug group

And a berry, lilac and indigo story called Bluejay

bluejay group

Bolts and bolts of pretty colour, fanciful creatures and fun patterns, all on a lovely quilting-weight cotton.

birds and the bees bolts3
Photo: Michael Miller Fabrics

Here is a closer look at a few patterns:

DC6829_Navy - Baby The Stars Shine Bright
Baby The Stars Shine Bright

DC6826_Berry - Toutes Les Plumes
Toutes Les Plumes

DC6827_Magenta - Eye Candy
Eye Candy

DC6831 Loop-Di-Loop_Lavender

DC6828_Leaf - Honey Honey
Honey Honey

DC6825_Navy - Love Bug
Love Bug

I hope you will find some magic of your own in creating a little something special with these fabrics for some young person in your life, or for someone young at heart… Perhaps even for yourself (I know you are a young-at-heart group. I just know it)!

birds and the bees bolts2
Photo: Michael Miller Fabrics

Some talented sewers and I will have a slew of projects to share as inspiration over the coming weeks, so stay tuned here and I will point you in the right direction.
Here’s a little tease to get the juices flowing:

feathered flock sunsuit
Feather Flock Infant Sunsuit based on this tutorial

{ Happy Sewing } Cotton Couture Fiesta Skirt

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015 in Blog, { Happy Sewing } | No Comments

tamara kate - cotton couture fiesta skirt

I was recently asked to create a project based on these beautiful colours of Cotton Couture solids by Michael Miller Fabrics.

cotton couture solids

My daughter pranced by as I was contemplating my options and declared her love for the colours. That was all I needed to have a direction. I found an online tutorial for a pretty summery skirt, got the nine-year old approval and set to sewing.

tamara kate - cotton couture fiesta skirt2

And this pretty and colourful creation, reminiscent of a Mexican fiesta, is what we ended up with. I made a few alterations to the tutorial, namely having 6 tiers instead of 5 and adding the waistband slightly differently to give a little extra overall skirt length. All the gathering, while mildly time-consuming, is totally worth it. It creates a young, girly, light-hearted skirt that Em is thrilled with.

tamara kate - cotton couture fiesta skirt detail

You can see all the glorious colours of Cotton Couture on the Michael Miller website, and check out the Mist group while there for the colours I worked with.

cotton couture color card

Michael Miller has recently created these sweet little sets of Cotton Couture swatch cards, all held together by a chunky ring so they’re easy to toss into a bag when fabric shopping, or have on-hand when designing your project. Compact & convenient, just the way I like it. The fabric colours (there are 150 now, and counting…) are sorted into colour sections, such as the Mist grouping I was inspired by.

I know I’ve said it here before, but it bears repeating… These solids are so divine to work with. I’ve made quilts, accessories and clothing with them and love their soft hand, gorgeous drape and the luminous quality to their colours. They have become a staple in my main sewing supply cupboard, a rainbow of colours on constant rotation.

Reversible Kid’s Apron Tutorial

Posted by on Jun 1, 2015 in Blog, Festive Forest, Holidays, Tutorials | No Comments

festive forest aprons - tamara kate

This is one of those great little gift ideas for a child who loves helping in the kitchen as my two do. A simple apron that’s got a few somethings extra. Firstly, it’s reversible so you can play around with a few of your favourite co-ordinating fabrics. Second, it can have a bit of extra pizzaz along the bottom edge with some added trim, ribbon, pompom fringe, you name it! And third, it’s done up by a third contrasting fabric tie around the waist & neck and a fun button at the top edge. What more could you want? Oh… That it’s easy & quick? Yes, it’s that too!

festive forest apron - tamara kate

As these were Christmas gifts for my kids last year, I made them in FESTIVE FOREST fabrics. For Em’s I chose Winter Woods in Garland, Budding in Santa for the reverse side and Gem in Holly for the straps. For Max’s I used Sweater Weather in Ribbon, Gem in Evergreen on the reverse side and Freckled in Santa for the straps.

festive forest fox apron - tamara kate

Getting these two to agree to model for photos is becoming increasingly difficult, hence this post is decidedly later than I had planned. There was bribing involved (a trip to our favourite art supply store, so it wasn’t hard for me to agree) in accomplishing this shoot and much silliness (which I love) in the resulting shots. These are but a few (and yes, my son definitely needs a haircut):

festive forest aprons - tamara kate

festive forest aprons2 - tamara kate

festive forest aprons3 - tamara kate


What I Used:

– 2 co-ordinating pieces of fabric 17″ x 22″ each. These can be fat quarters, but if using directional fabric, keep in mind the pattern needs to run along the 22″ length.
– 1 piece of fabric 30″ x 9″ for the neck band & waist ties.
– co-ordinating thread.
– optional 18″ co-ordinating ribbon, fringe, trim, etc. You could even use a few pieces of ribbon, each 18″ long, as indicated below.
– A button, roughly 3/4″ diameter.

What I Did:

A little note about sizing: My kids are 7 and 9 years old and this is great for them. If making it for a much smaller child, you may want to shrink the measurements by a couple of inches, but don’t make it too much shorter as they grow so quickly.

reversible apron cutting & sewing

– Fold both large pieces of fabric in half so they are 8½” x 22″. Measure 13″ up from the bottom on the non-folded edge. Put a mark. Measure 4″ in from non-folded edge along the top. Put a mark. Join these 2 marks with a straight line and cut. Unfold your fabric.

– Cut 30″ x 9″ strip of fabric as follows:
– 2 pieces 30″ x 2½”
– 1 piece 21″ x 2½”

– Fold each of these fabrics in half, right sides together, to form long narrow band. Press. Stitch with ¼” seam along the long unfolded edge & one short edge on all three pieces. Turn right side out. Press.

– If adding ribbon, pin ribbon about 2″ from the bottom edge of whichever fabric you choose (you could add to both if desired), straight across fabric. Topstitch in place along top & bottom edges of ribbon. If adding multiple pieces to one side, stagger them from ½” to 1″ apart, as desired, going up the front.

– If adding pompom fringe, you will insert it in this next step:

– Place 1 main piece of fabric on flat surface, right side facing up. Lay 2 longer sewn bands ½” below the bottom edge of the cut angle with raw short edge of bands protruding from main fabric side edges by ½”. Lay shorter sewn band ½” in from the top right edge of the cut angle with raw short edge of band protruding from main fabric top edge by ½”. If using pompom fringe at bottom edge, lay it so that pompoms are toward the top of the apron with edge of fringe’s solid band placed 3/8″ from bottom of apron. Carefully place other piece of fabric right side down on top of this and pin all the way around, pinning heavily along pompom edge. If not using fringe, simply place fabric on top & pin all the way around.

– Sew with a ½” seam all the way around, leaving about a 5″ gap along one side. Turn right side out. Press. Topstitch all around main apron, 1/8″ from edge.

– Make a button hole ½” from top edge, ½” from angled edge on left side. Sew button to neck band (doesn’t matter which side) about 16″ from apron top edge. This strap can be twisted a half-turn for fastening, depending on which side of the apron the wearer chooses to have showing at any given time.

All done!

festive forest aprons4 - tamara kate

The Railroad Quilt: A Beginner’s Quilt

Posted by on May 29, 2015 in Blog, Janome, Quilts, Tutorials | 2 Comments

railroad quilt4 - tamara kate

I hear from a number of you pretty regularly that you’d love to make your first quilt, but don’t know where to start, or you’re intimidated. Well, this Railroad Quilt is the perfect first project. It is a quilt that is all about colour and fabrics. It involves easy cutting and piecing, but still has good graphic impact and you can have lots of fun playing with your favourite colour palette.

railroad quilt3 - tamara kate

I’ve chosen throughout this post to highlight some of my favourite easy quilt sewing features of this fantastic Janome sewing machine I have the pleasure of using, as I had promised you that, from time to time, I would update you on what a joy it is to use.
I suggest reading through the whole post before diving in so that you understand the entire process.

The measurements given create a queen size quilt.

What I used:

– ¼ yard to ½ yard (based on your favourites) of fabrics from your 4 main groups listed below (½ yards for main fabrics in both “dark” and “light” categories)
– Queen size / 88″ x 92″ quilt batting
– Backing fabric totalling 88″ x 92″ (as discussed below)
– 1yd binding fabric
– thread, curved quilt pins, masking tape (or painter’s tape), rotary cutter, acrylic ruler, cutting mat (as discussed below)

What I did:

Let’s start with something fun… CHOOSING FABRICS:

For this quilt, I chose a mix of Michael Miller fabrics, mostly from my own Helen’s Garden and Flight Patterns collections, a few from fellow designer Patty Sloniger’s sweet Emma’s Garden collection and some yummy Cotton Couture solids. I stayed within 2 main colour groups, one a bit more dominant than the other (pink – dominant & yellow – secondary) along with a dark and a light (charcoal and cream). You can use whatever colours you like. Within all four of these groups, I used a combination of solid and patterned fabrics.

railroad quilt detail2 - tamara kate

DOMINANT – PINKS: Keeping to the warm side of the pinks, verging on corals, I chose 4 solids, ranging from bright & bold to the palest shades, along with a slew of patterned fabrics that again run the gamut of vibrant to soft and everything in-between.

SECONDARY – YELLOWS: I used 1 solid and only 3 or 4 patterned fabrics, with only one being very vibrant (I know they all look pretty vibrant in the above photo, but scroll down a bit for something much closer to reality).

DARK – CHARCOAL: 2 solids & 1 patterned fabric

LIGHT – CREAM: 1 main patterned fabric (cream with dots). Sometimes a fabric can be used in multiple roles in a quilt. I used a bit of the softest pink solid to replace cream in some spots, as well as a few soft pinks or yellows on white grounds. An easy tip for choosing these: when you squint at this group of fabrics, you want them all to read as being around the same light value.


CUTTING YOUR FABRICS: Consistency in cutting goes a very long way to having reliable, clean piecing results. The best 3 tools to achieve this are a rotary cutter, a generously sized cutting mat and a clear acrylic ruler. If you are only going to purchase one ruler to begin with, I strongly suggest a 6½” x 24″ one. This should have 45° & 30° markings on it, and you will be amazed at the number of types and sizes of quilt pieces you can cut with it. You can cut multiple pieces at a time using these tools, saving lots of time.

SCANT ¼” SEAMS: The “scant” part takes a bit of practice, but then it becomes automatic. It just means you want to have a seam that is always just shy of 1/4″ (to compensate for that tiny bit of extra fabric that gets taken up when you press your seams). There are easy tools to help you achieve a constant 1/4″ seam, the simplest of which is a 1/4″ presser foot.

janome qtr inch foot

Above is the 1/4″ foot that comes with the Janome MC8200 that I sew with. The black strip of metal along the right edge holds the fabric at exactly 1/4″ from the needle at all times.

janome qtr inch tape

If you don’t have a 1/4″ foot on your machine, you can still make it easy for yourself using the basic foot. Because the 1/4″ seam measurement will be under your presser foot (and thus hard to see), you can add a strip of masking tape to the machine surface along the 1/4″ measurement that will give you a strong visual line along which to run your fabric. Easy as that!

PRESSING YOUR SEAMS: The quilting community is divided in opinion of the best direction to press seams. Either in one direction or open. I use both methods depending on the project, but tend more toward pressing open, which is the method I use in the Railroad Quilt. I find it more efficient to avoid extra bulk where seams intersect and, for me, it’s easier to get seams to line up properly.

tamara kate -railroad quilt press seams


The Railroad Quilt is made up of 4½” x 12½” rectangles. When sewn together, they will be 4″ x 12″. Couldn’t be simpler!

The quilt is comprised of 7 columns of 22 rectangles as follows:
– The 2 exterior columns are made up of lots of the softer fabrics from the CREAM category, interspersed with the odd hit of something a bit stronger.
– Working from the left, columns 2, 3, 4 & 6 are a random mix of PINKS & YELLOWS, with the occasional CREAM and CHARCOAL piece stuck in.
– Column 5 alternates CHARCOAL & CREAM fabrics the entire length of the column.

Here is an example of fabrics I pulled for one of the PINKS & YELLOWS columns:

tamara kate -railroad quilt fabrics

Just start cutting fabrics (aligning your ruler with the straight grain of your fabric) and laying them out in a large open space (I use my living room floor for larger projects like this). Don’t be afraid to move things around, insert a few pieces of something unexpected (keeps it dynamic) and even eliminate fabrics that just aren’t working, until you are happy with the overall look.

Gather pieces, one column at a time, keeping them in their correct order. Sew together along the long edges, respecting the 1/4″ seam. Press seams open.

When all columns have been sewn & pressed, stitch them together, trying your best to align seams throughout. You can pin them if that’s easier for you, but I find it works well to align each seam with its partner as I come to it. Press seams open.

Your quilt top is complete!


If you are lucky enough to find some extra wide fabric that co-ordinates with your top for backing your quilt, fantastic! You can use one whole piece (a friend of mine buys king sized flat sheets for this purpose). More likely than not, however, you will have to piece a few fabrics together. You could use all the same fabric, 2 or more co-ordinating ones, or you could even do something more creative and pull some element / elements from your quilt top that you’d like to highlight on the back. For this one, for example, you could create another long column of rectangles to place strategically where you wish on the back, or just a band of your favourite fabric between 2 other larger pieces. The possibilities are endless. Just be sure to make the back at least 3″ larger all the way around than the top and follow the same sewing & pressing tips as you did for the quilt top.


Having made sure your back & top are perfectly pressed, find a clean floor space that’s large enough to accommodate the entire quilt. First lay out the back, wrong side up. Using masking tape (or painter’s tape), tape all 4 edges to the floor (one side at a time, then opposite side. Tug slightly to flatten out lumps, but don’t stretch), smoothing out your fabric as you go & keeping your sides straight. Next comes the layer of batting. Your batting should be slightly smaller than your backing and slightly larger than your quilt top. Again, smooth as you go so you have a perfectly flat layer (no need to tape here). Now the quilt top, right side up. Again, carefully smooth out this layer, keeping seems and sides straight with the quilt top centred on the other 2 layers. Pin with quilt pins every 3″ or 4″. Consistency here will help your layers from shifting as you quilt.

You can either hand quilt or machine quilt. Hand quilting (with hand quilting thread or size 8 pearl cotton for a more pronounced look) is the way I started and I still love it, but it’s not for everyone. I enjoy the slow, meditative process, but most quilters I’ve met want something speedier. Hand quilting results in a nice soft quilt.

rainbow quilt front detail
Hand quilting with Pearl Cotton on my Rainbow Charm Quilt

If machine quilting, using a walking foot is the easier option. Free motion quilting (stitching fine curves, small circles or intricate shapes) takes practice, so you want to spend some quality time getting smooth results on scrap fabric and batting before jumping into your first project. Regardless of which method you choose, you will need a special foot for your machine, otherwise if you use a regular foot, your quilt layers will shift as you sew which will result in fabric bunching, lumps and bumps and endless frustration.

For a first quilt, I would suggest using a walking foot and doing straight-line quilting. This will get you used to the quilting process and then you can jump to something more adventurous for your next project.

tamara kate - fiesta quilt4
Simple straight-line quilting on my Fiesta Lap Quilt.

The easiest option would be stitching in the ditch (stitching in the seam channel between 2 pieces of fabric), thus not having to measure or mark lines. You will simply follow the straight lines you have already sewn throughout the quilt. Start just off the quilt top on one side, continuing to just off the top on the opposite side & repeat at each seam. This results in “invisible” quilt lines, letting the fabrics and piecing shine. I used this technique (though I plan on adding some hand quilting over time to specific blocks for a bit of added texture) and the quilt is lovely and soft, perfect for cuddling up with.

janome stitch in the ditch
Stitching in the ditch with a walking foot. Note the quilt is rolled at the right.

Maneuvering the bulk of your quilt through the throat space (space to the right of your needle) of your machine is achieved by tightly rolling the quilt up to just beyond where you need to sew, then feeding the roll through (see above photo). This is made easier by sewing machines made especially for quilters that have a larger throat space, like the one I use, but I started on a regular domestic machine and it takes a bit of effort, but it’s doable.

If you would like to have your quilt lines show, the easiest way would be to use your presser foot as a guide. Start at the edge of one of the centre seams, running the outside edge of your foot along one of the seam lines all the way to the opposite edge, removing pins as you come to them. For the next line, align the edge of the foot with the previously sewn line and continue in this fashion for half the quilt, then flip it around and do the other half. This results in a much sturdier quilt that does not have the softness and drape of the previous technique.

janome walking foot attachment
Janome walking foot with attachment for quilting straight lines.

If you would like your lines farther apart, the easiest way is to make use of an attachment like this one that fastens to the walking foot on my Janome. It glides across the top of the fabric over a previous stitch line, dictating where the next row will be stitched.

Each type of quilt batting (I like using a 80% cotton / 20% polyester blend) has different specs as to maximum space between quilting lines. Read what yours suggests and follow those guidelines. You don’t want to do all this work and end up with something that bunches or shifts when it’s washed.


Squaring up a quilt involves cutting off the excess batting & backing fabric around the edges and making sure your sides are straight and corners are right angles. Use your acrylic ruler and rotary cutter right all along the outer edge of the quilt top to accomplish this.

squaring up quilt

You’ve reached the last step. Again here, there are many different ways to bind a quilt, but the most often seen one is to do a thin binding that you first sew by machine to the front of your quilt, then flip to the back and hand stitch in place.

railroad quilt binding - tamara kate

Cut your binding fabric down to 9 strips of 2¼” x WOF (width of fabric).
quilt binding

A – Sew these strips together, short end to short end, forming one long piece. Fold in half, lengthwise and press. B – Place the binding on top of the quilt, aligning the raw edges. Using a walking foot and a ¼” seam allowance, sew the binding to the quilt, starting about half way along the quilt bottom, leaving a tail of binding approx. 10″ unattached at the beginning. Sew to ¼” before the corner, stop with your needle down, raise the presser foot and turn 45º toward the corner. Sew off of quilt. C – Fold binding along the 45º angle just created. D – Refold so binding is now heading along adjacent edge, with fold at previous quilt’s edge. E – Continue sewing around quilt in this fashion until you are about 8″ from start point. Remove quilt from machine. Cut right end of binding straight, directly between where both sewing lines stopped. Lay left piece of binding on top of right. Measure exactly ½” from cut line of right piece and cut left piece. F – Open both ends of binding and place right sides together. Sew ends together with a ¼” seam. Press seam open. G – Refold binding closed and sew in place. Flip binding to back of quilt and sew in place with a needle and thread (matching binding colour) with an invisible stitch all the way around.

tamara kate - invisible stitching binding
Invisible stitching binding to back of quilt.

Your quilt is now finished. Congratulations! Toss it on your bed and enjoy!

railroad quilt2 - tamara kate

{ Happy Sewing } Festive Tunic

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Blog, Festive Forest, { Happy Sewing } | 2 Comments

I created this tunic for my daughter as soon as I received yardage of FESTIVE FOREST last December and feel it is a good example of how the collection lends itself not only to quilting and home decor projects, but also to clothing.

festive tunic - tamara kate

It is sewn from the Audrey Dress pattern from Violette Field Threads in Festive Nest in Snow

festive tunic2 - tamara kate

While I’m not one that goes for overly Christmassy clothing, I wanted to offer fabrics with a little nod to the holidays that would be appropriate for a fun skirt, dress or top and definitely for pyjamas. And because the prints are not overly holiday-themed, Em decided to wear it to school today, smack in the middle of Spring. It looked just right with a pair of jeans and the trees in full bloom in the gardens on our morning walk.

festive tunic3 - tamara kate

I have one last Festive Forest project to share with you along with a free tutorial so I’ll see you back here next week.