Coming up with original teachers’ gifts is far from easy. While some years I leave things too late and jump in with the class group gift certificate, I usually try my best to make something as a show of appreciation for all the hard work my kids’ teachers do on a daily basis. In years past, I have made hand warmers, zippered pouches and fabric buckets. For this Christmas, I found a great tutorial for fabric trays by Noodlehead and my search was done.
This was the perfect project to try machine embroidering some letters from my Nature Walk alphabet that has recently been digitized by OESD. I am very new to machine embroidery, so am learning as I go. Janome Canada generously loaned me a Memory Craft 450E to try my hand at it and, while I will tell you I love hand embroidery, watching this being done by machine is quite magical and the result is far more refined, interesting and textured than I had imagined. I love it! And, for those of you who haven’t tried one of these machines before, let me tell you the best part: the only work you have to do is change the spool of thread and press the start button! So excellent!
Here are a few progress shots of one of the letters being stitched. I really like that the “P” presser foot directs your eye to exactly what is being stitched while not hiding any of the action:
I could have just use the suggested colours that come with the embroidery files, but I had fun tailoring each letter to the recipient… trying to remember the colours she tends to use or wear most. Knowing the total number of colours needed to complete the design and where each colour would be used (the file gives you all this information), I created my own palette for each letter and thus ended up wth some truly personalized gifts.
Wanting a neutral exterior to the trays that would wear well, I opted to use “Pollen Burst” and “Hop, Skip & Jump” and the binding is either “Stepping Stones” or “Little World”, all from my Nature Walk collection.
I could see these being used to contain some jewellery on a dresser, keys and phone on a console in an entryway or if it were for me, some yarns and threads from my latest hand sewing project on a side table in the living room.
A few technical notes:
– To properly fit a letter in the bottom of the basket without possibly cutting off some details with the corner darts, I adjusted the size of the cut fabric for both the interior and exterior to 9″ x 12″ (starting with a larger piece all around to create the embroidered letter first, and then trimmed to the correct size).
– I switched the thick interfacing to the exterior fabric and the thinner one to the embroidered fabric (opposite to what Anna suggests in the pattern). This avoids too much bubbling on the interior.
Happiest of Holidays to you all!
I was recently asked to create a project based on these beautiful colours of Cotton Couture solids by Michael Miller Fabrics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Whichever way you look at them, they make a pretty package.
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…
open your bundle…
and leave it sitting prettily in your kitchen.
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.
#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).
#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!
You know how, when we see a few fabrics together, sometimes we can immediately envision what we want to create with them? Well, that was the case with these two prints, Show Your Colors in Confection and Crossing Paths in Raspberry. I wanted to make a dress or tunic for my daughter. I searched for just the right pattern… something with clean lines that had just the right detailing to highlight the little butterflies of Crossing Paths. And that’s when I came across the Shandiin Tunic pattern by Sarah of EmmylouBeeDoo!.
I adore the cutout back and fine straps, allowing for a light and breezy summer outfit, without being too revealing. There is just the right amount of open ground for those zebras to roam around while the little butterflies seem to fly up the shoulders. Just perfect!
The pattern is full of customizable options, so whether you want a button-up front, a puffed hem (with elastic at the bottom), a tank or a longer tunic, it’s all detailed therein! And the size range goes all the way from 1 to 8 years. I have recently praised well written patterns and bemoaned poorly written ones, and this one definitely goes in the praise category. Sarah very clearly walks you through getting beautifully finished details that lie just right on a young girl’s body. And if your girl is anything like mine, she will delight in the fact that she has something extra-special that probably no-one else in the neighbourhood has. You can find the pattern in Sarah’s Etsy shop, along with many other delightful styles.
I would love for one of you talented sewers to be able to whip up one of these yourself, so I am offering some lucky someone enough of the two fabrics featured here, Crossing Paths and Show Your Colors to create one, and Sarah has generously offered a pdf downloadable copy of this lovely pattern for the winner as well.
Each of the following will earn you one entry:
– Visit LouBee Clothing’s Etsy shop, then comment here letting me know which of her patterns is your favourite.
– Like the Tamara Kate Design Facebook page
– Comment on the related Shandiin Tunic post on the above Facebook page.
One entry will be randomly drawn the morning of September 17th.
UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. The winner is Lorna (I have sent you an email)
Best of luck!
When did the tradition of “dressing” for the big back-to-school event die out? I don’t know, but it has certainly fizzled to nothing around here. I, however, have a girl who loves school. She loves learning and treasures being back among her friends whom she hasn’t seen all summer. Oh, and she loves getting dressed up. So what better occasion than the first day back to make a bit more effort with one’s attire? I thought a new dress was in order.
To play with the straight lines in the Origami Oasis prints, I searched for a pattern with some structure, and as this girl of mine is growing so fast (eight years old already?!?) I figured it was my last chance to look into some great children’s sewing patterns. This was my first attempt at an Oliver & S pattern, the Jump Rope Dress, and it did not disappoint! Easy-to-follow instructions and a well drafted pattern make all the difference and Em and I are both delighted with the outcome.
For fabrics, I opted for Stand Tall in grass, with just a little hit of Spot in citrus at the neck. It’s fun and young without being too juvenile, and I love the whimsy of the butterfly landing on the nose of the blue giraffe. As these fabrics are printed on Michael Miller’s lovely Cotton Couture, they are just perfect for dressmaking. They drape beautifully and are so soft to the touch that they are effortless to wear, and a dream to sew with. I even found the perfect simple orange flower buttons to compliment the print.
Next up, I’ll show you a little something I sewed for the boy in my life.
Creating that bow tie tutorial got me going. They are really so quick to whip up, and I hadn’t made any for my little man in some time… And he has a new shirt… And there were these new stacks of fabric staring me in the face, so graphic, so fun, so wanting to be made into little things, as well as big things. Yesterday morning was a morning for little things. So…
Here are the first few tidbits of Origami Oasis, a little something to go with whatever one’s mood may be at the time.
Feeling serene & green. Floret
Feeling a little bit peppy. Freckled
Feeling colorful. Spot
Feeling mischievous & jazzy. Midnight Train
Or feeling energized & a little wild. Pride
There are another 26 prints in the collection, which should start hitting stores mid-September. But they’ll have to wait for another day. I did say this was just a peek.
Remember these? My lovely cousin-in-law, Julie asked for a tutorial to make a bow tie for her sweet little boy and I was surprised that I had never posted one back when I made all of those with Les Monsieurs. So here you go, Julie & anyone else who would like an easy and quick how-to on these dashing boys’ accessories.
What I used:
– A 2 pieces fabric 10″ wide x 3″ high (I used Helen Dardik’s “Leaves” from her “Too Muchery” collection)
– B 1 piece fabric 2.5″ wide x 3″ high
– C 1 piece fabric 17″ wide x 2″ high (This is for the neckband that will tuck under shirt collars. I opt to keep this light & neutral in colour so that it’s not too noticeable if junior starts fidgeting with his attire. And the great thing is you can make just one band and multiple bows, then just switch out the bow depending on the outfit.)
– D 1 piece lightweight interfacing 9.5″ x 2.5″
– E 1 piece interfacing 16.5″ x 1.5″
– 4″ x 1/2″ velcro (if you can’t find the right width, you can always cut down a wider piece). I choose ease when it comes to kids’ dressing. Velcro means they can do it up themselves with no fuss and no fiddling with hooks and fussy hardware.
What I did:
All seams are 1/4″.
Iron interfacing D onto wrong side of one piece of fabric A (centred). With right sides together, sew together the two A pieces along both long sides. Turn right side out and press.
Fold in half and stitch together along raw edges. You now have a ring of fabric. Turn right side out, so that last seam is to the inside of the ring, centred.
Fold fabric B in half to form a long skinny 3″ long piece. Sew along long edge.
Turn right side out & press so that the seam is in the centre. Fold in half (seam to the outside) and stitch together along raw edges.
Again, you have a little ring of fabric. Turn right side out, so that last seam is to the inside of the ring, centred.
Fold your bow acordian-style to insert it into the centre tie ring and pull half-way through.
Make sure your seams are both centred at the back (your bow seam should now be hidden inside the centre tie ring.
Iron interfacing E onto wrong side of fabric C (centred). Fold 1/4″ toward wrong side at one short end & press. Fold fabric C in half so you have a long very skinny 10″ piece. Sew along the short end that has not been folded & long edge.
Clip corners at stitched end.
Turn right side out via open end. Topstitch 1/8″ from the edge, all the way around.
Leaving 1/4″ fabric at end, sew one side of the velcro to one end of the neck band (sew all the way around the velcro, backstitching to secure it in place). Cut other piece of velcro into two 1.5″ lengths and discard the third piece. On the opposite side of the band, attach these two pieces as follows: Leave 1/4″ fabric at end, sew down first piece, leave 1.5″ fabric, sew down second piece.
I find this formation cuts down on extra bulk and gives lots of room for adjustments due to heavier shirts, neck growth and all the variations of neck sizes of different little boys.
Insert the neck band into the back of the tie centre ring. Finito!
One well dressed, happy boy.