{ Happy Sewing } Embroidered Wallhanging

Here’s a tutorial for this sweet little wallhanging that you can fully personalize with embroidery.

I love the quiet process of hand embroidery. I learned how as a child from my Mom and still enjoy it today, though I have narrowed down all those stitches I learned early on to a few favourites I use on high repeat now. This project focuses on 4 favourites: The French Knot, Satin Stitch, Back Stitch and Chain Stitch.

One of the main things I enjoy the most about hand embroidery is that one can be as detailed and colourful as desired. Using the Words of Wisdom panel print for this project is great in this respect as you could pick and choose which elements to fill in or outline, or you could go all-out and fill in every last detail. That’s the beauty. It’s all up to you to make it your own! I chose to leave a fair bit unstitched as I felt it gave a clean, modern feel to the finished work and leaves places for the eye to rest.

I opted to use the prints from the Words of Wisdom fabric collection as my colour jumping-off point. The blue was already the ground in the panel (the panel print comes with either a white ground or a soft-blue one), so I focused on corals, yellows, greens and pinks as my pallet.


What I Used:

– A saying of your choice from the Words of Wisdom Panel, cut to 8 1/2″ x 10 1/2″.
– Embroidery floss in your choice of colours (I used 6 colours of DMC embroidery floss)
– Embroidery needle
– Embroidery hoop (approx. 5″ – 6″ diameter)
– 2 coordinating fat eighths fabrics from the Words of Wisdom collection
– Backing fabric (8 1/2″ x 17″)
– Sewing thread
– 2 pieces wooden dowel (3/8″ diameter x 9″)
– A 24″ length of yarn for hanging

What I Did:

The first step is the most fun… the embroidery. Here are the 4 stitches I used:

The French Knot: This can be used as individual small dots, or clustered for greater impact and to fill shapes.

Knot end of thread & pull thread up through fabric. Close to needle, twist loose thread twice around needle.

Put needle tip back through fabric at the same spot the needle came up. Pull thread taught around needle.

Carefully pull needle & thread through to the back of the fabric making sure to not upset the knot forming on top.

Pull thread taught at back. 1 french knot done!

Pull the needle back through to front of fabric wherever you’d like to create more. When finished, knot thread at back of fabric & cut.

Satin Stitch: Used to fill in a shape with uniform stitches that sit side by side, giving a smooth, satiny look and feel.

Knot end of thread & pull thread up through fabric. Insert needle point at the opposite side of the shape you are filling in (HINT: do not make stitches too long. Stitches much longer than 1/4″ can easily get caught on things & cause your fabric to buckle). Pull the thread through to the back (not too tightly).

Pull needle back up through fabric to the front, right beside where you started your 1st stitch. Stitch back to the back of fabric, following the contour of your shape.

Continue in this fashion, keeping stitches snug against each other and carefully following the outline of the shape you are filling. When finished, knot thread at back of fabric & cut.

Back Stitch: For creating straight or curved lines of stitching. Can also be used to trace fine lettering or outline shapes.

Knot end of thread & pull thread up through fabric. Insert needle point back through fabric about an eighth inch along the line you are creating.

Pull thread through to back and bring needle back up through fabric another eighth inch along the line. Insert needle point back through fabric at the point the last stitch ended (in essence, going backward).

Repeat the last step, again starting an eighth inch along the line and going back down through fabric at the point the last stitch ended.

Continue in this fashion to finish line. When finished, knot thread at back of fabric & cut.

Chain Stitch: Creates a wider, open line of stitching, or can be used to create individual leaves or petals.

Knot end of thread & pull thread up through fabric. Insert needle point back through fabric right beside where it came up, then re-insert point back through to top of fabric about an eighth inch away.

While the needle is in this position, make sure the loose thread runs underneath the needle.

Pull the needle and thread through (not too tightly), creating a loop. If creating a single chain (like for a small leaf) skip the next step.

Repeat this process, first inserting the needle point through to back right beside where the thread emerges from the fabric, then bringing the needle point back up to the front of the fabric about an eighth inch along the line you are creating, running loose thread under needle tip. Continue in this fashion along the line you are creating.

To end your chain, put your needle through to the back immediately on the other side of the loop created, just beyond where the thread comes up.

Pull the thread through to the back, securing the last chain in place. When finished, knot thread at back of fabric & cut.

Assembling the Wallhanging:

Refer to this diagram for the following instructions:

– Cut one of the coordinating fabrics to 2 pieces (1″ x 10 1/2″)
– Cut the other piece to 2 pieces (3 1/2″ x 10 1/2″)
– With 1/4″ seams and right sides together, sew together the pieces in the following order to make one long 10 1/2″ wide piece: One piece 3 1/2″ x 10 1/2″, one piece 1″ x 10 1/2″, the embroidered panel, the 2nd 1″ x 10 1/2″ piece, the 2nd 3 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ piece. Press seams toward the narrowest pieces.
– Right sides together, sew assembled piece to backing fabric along 2 long sides.
– Turn right-side-out. Press.
– Fold top and bottom ends under to the back 1 3/4″. Pin in place. From the front, topstitch in the ditch between the 1 1/2″ strip of fabric and the 3 1/2″ of fabric on both ends, thus securing the ends and creating a channel on both ends.
– Insert dowel in both ends.
– Double the yarn and attach to both ends of the top dowel to hang.

All done!

{ Happy Sewing } My First Attempt at Sewing Knits

Posted by on Jun 28, 2017 in { Happy Sewing }, Blog, Fabric Collections, Frolic | 2 Comments

A quick post to show you my first tiny tentative efforts at sewing with knit fabric (I used FROLIC Big Love in Candy). For all you uninitiated soles out there, it was surprisingly simple & painless & oh-so-rewarding!

I made these teeny-tiny baby leggings using this tutorial, a baby headband using this one, and a baby bonnet based on this one. All really easy and a good introduction to the serger for me.

Happy Wednesday!

{ Happy Sewing } … Fabric Trays

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.


If you would like to make a few yourself, the tray pattern can be found here and the alphabet files here.

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!
xo Tamara

Making Merry with Janome – Reversible Gift Tags

Things are starting to feel festive around here. Some holiday shopping has been done and we are just starting to pull out decorations to make our home more festive for the season.

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I haven’t been sewing since the wild rush of preparing for Quilt Market back in October and started to feel the itch to get back to it last week. A quick project is always a good way to begin and so I was thrilled to be asked to participate in Making Merry with Janome, a fun daily sewing project inspiration blog hop to help get all of you wonderful sewers in the mood to create a little holiday magic of your own.

Here are some fun reversible gift tags I whipped up for kids’ gifts. After gift-opening, they can be reused as personalized Christmas ornaments (oh, how they love personalized ornaments) for years to come.

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Should you wish to create some yourself, here is a quick guide:

What I used

– solid coloured fabric (I used Cotton Couture)
– co-ordinating patterned fabrics (I used scraps of Festive Forest)
– iron-on interfacing (something mid-weight will work well)
– cookie cutters for shapes
– scraps of quilt batting
– co-ordinating ribbon
– fabric pen; thread (the colour of which will contrast well with your solid fabric), scissors
– a sewing machine that has embroidered letter options or embroidery thread and needle to do it by hand

tamara kate - cookie cutters

What I did

Iron interfacing to one side of the solid fabric. This will make the embroidery much smoother and help avoid fabric puckering.

Embroider the desired name approx. 3″ from sides of fabric (I found it easier to work with a larger piece of fabric and then cut it down after embroidering to ensure the name would be centred). Below are a bit of the embroidery options I am lucky enough to have at my disposal on the Janome MC8200.

janome machine embroidery

Place the cookie cutter on the fabric, centre name and trace around the outside of the shape with a fabric pen. Cut a basic square or rectangle around the traced shape, with about an extra inch of fabric all around. Cut a piece of batting and of patterned fabric, all roughly the same size. Sandwich the batting between the 2 fabric layers with right sides of both fabrics facing out.

Cut a 10″ length of ribbon. Place the two ribbon ends inside the sandwich at the top of the shape, inserting the ends about a half inch. Pin or hold in place.

With a small straight stitch, sew all the way around the shape about 1/8″ inside the drawn line, anchoring the ribbon in the process.

Cut through the 3 layers all the way around on the drawn line, being careful to not cut the ribbon.

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And that’s it!

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Thanks for stopping by and Happy Sewing!

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{ Happy Sewing } Cotton Couture Fiesta Skirt

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015 in { Happy Sewing }, Blog | 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.

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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.

{ Happy Sewing } Festive Tunic

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

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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.

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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.

{ 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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open your bundle…

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and leave it sitting prettily in your kitchen.

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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!

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Origami Oasis – Shandiin Tunic and Giveaway

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in { Happy Sewing }, Blog, Origami Oasis | 58 Comments

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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!.

tamara kate - shandiin tunic - origami oasis

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!

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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.

tamara kate logo rectangle

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!

Origami Oasis – Boys’ Button-Up Shirt in Fold

Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in { Happy Sewing }, Blog, Origami Oasis | No Comments

My last post was on my school-loving daughter’s back-to-school dress. Today I wanted to show you what I made for my boy… my boy that went on a short-lived hunger strike the morning of the first day back to demonstrate his lack of desire to start first grade, as that would probably mean he would have homework. Don’t worry… about 6 minutes into his strike, he caved and his sweet smile appeared as he remembered he’d be seeing his buddies too.

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I always want to sew clothes for them that they will happily wear regularly, so I almost always ask them to choose the fabrics. I was hoping he would go for this Fold print from Origami Oasis, and he did not disappoint. And in typical Max fashion, he went for the boldest colour choice of them all, Clementine.

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I won’t tell you what pattern I used, as it was not a very well written or drafted one. When a pattern says to sew something and then states that you could optionally skip that step as you will probably have to rip it out a few steps later, you know you’ll be lucky if you come out with a decent looking garment in the end. There are a few details, however that I enjoy, like the centre back pleat. And it was my first time sewing a collar with a collar stand which, well, it makes the collar stand more than flop down, which adds a nice touch. While I haven’t tried either this or this one, I am pretty sure they would be a much safer bet based on the designers’ reputations..

tamara kate - fold shirt - origami oasis

And I can happily report that the first day back was full of fun, laughs, corn on the cob and apparently marker drawing on hands. Oh yeah, and no homework… he’s warming up to first grade.

Origami Oasis – Stand Tall Dress

Posted by on Sep 5, 2014 in { Happy Sewing }, Blog, Origami Oasis | 4 Comments

tamara kate stand tall dress3

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.

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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.

tamara kate stand tall dress

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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.

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Next up, I’ll show you a little something I sewed for the boy in my life.