Category Archives: Sewing

Fun Project

DSCN0757I  picked up a quick pre-cut kit for making a “playtime” quilt in a cute little quilt shop while vacationing in Wisconsin.  The fat-quarter friendly project of Safari Playground prints went together in no time at all.

completed playtime quilt

You can see that I have a bit of fabric left after using the striped fat quarter for binding.  What to do?  …….a quick stuffed animal project or soft book to go along with the play-time quilt………. Any ideas? Send them my way.


Here is a close-up of the binding. I love the stripes!


The pre-cut package included 7 prints and enough fabric for the top and  binding.  Backing was not included, but fortunately I was able to find the same fabric line at my local shop.


Adding a Binding Edge to the Antique Quilts

So, this is how I attach binding to a quilt – it is pretty easy after you have done it a couple of times –

I started with using the extra backing fabric from the two antique quilts I had sent out to the long arm quilter.  They always give you the remaining backing and batting from the project to use on another project or for doing a binding in the same fabric as the backing – that is if you bought enough!

After organizing the backing remnants, I am ready for the first step.

extra backing fabric

The first step is ironing to get the fabric free of wrinkles before cutting with the rotary cutter.

Cutting 2.5 inch strips
Cutting 2.5 inch strips

After ironing on a cotton setting with steam, I fold then cut off the rough edge about 1/4 inch so that all of the cuts from that point will be square.


I first cut a 5 inch strip, then sub-cut 2.5 inch strips.


The 2.5 inch strips are then sewn right-sides together at the ends in order to make one long strip that is 2.5 inches wide.


This long strip is then folded in half length-wise and ironed before joining to the top side of the quilt.

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I like to start sewing the binding onto the quilt about halfway down one of the sides.  I leave about 5 inches or so of binding unstitched as this will be necessary for joining the end of the binding in the last step.


I sew the binding on without pinning- EEK!  To do this, I just lay the ironed binding flat on the quilt top with the fold to the inside of the quilt top and the edges lined up with the finished edge of the quilt and sew away.  I use the regular foot and a “heavy” setting for fabric on my machine with a stitch length of 2.5.


When I get to the end of a side of the quilt, I stop about 1/4 inch away from the corner,  lift the needle, and cut the thread.

stopping 1/4 inch from the edge
stopping 1/4 inch from the edge
folding at the corner
folding at the corner

I then fold the long (not sewn on yet!)end of the binding strip up perpendicular to the current side, and then fold back down again along the new edge with a fold at the top of the new side.


This technique leaves a fold at the top of the new side with a corner of fabric tucked into the fold which will allow you to get perfect mitered edges on both the front and the back of the quilt at each corner when you turn the binding to the back for hand stitching.

The last step is a little tricky, but thanks some excellent online tutorials, I think I have gotten the hang of it.  Go ahead and click on the link!!!! it really helps!


As I am sewing down the last side of the quilt (back to when I started) I stop with about 5 to 7 inches of edge unsewn, then leave 10 inches of folded binding material unstitched. I find a place between the two ends of the binding edge where I would like them to meet! – Say hello to the beginning and the end of the binding strip!

At the point where they meet, take the extra binding from the starting edge and fold it back on itself – this is on the right side in the photo above.  I take the extra binding from the left side (where I just stopped) and fold it too, with the folds of both sides meeting in the middle of the 5-7 inches of un-sewn edge. See the picture above for this step.


I cut the fabric on the right at the fold, then measure 2.5 inches from the fold on the left and cut there.  If your binding width is different, then add that amount to the end of the binding strip before you cut.  I just use the unfolded binding as a tool for measuring here.  I will cut the long end of the binding one binding width from the fold.  In the picture below, I would cut the bottom fabric at the point where it meets the right edge of the top fabric where my index finger is pointing.  This gives me the perfect measure of fabric for an exact fit along the edge. See the picture below.


Now, take the right sides of the two binding edges UNFOLDED and place them perpendicular to each other and sew diagonally across the “T” to make a single piece that is the perfect length for your quilt. I would sew these two pieces together as they are placed below, starting at the bottom and sewing diagonally up. Click here for a tutorial.


Once you have sewn this seam, trim away excess fabric ( the triangle on the right in the picture below) and re-fold the binding strip in half length-wise again and press that piece.  This length should fit exactly along the side of the quilt if you have measured carefully.


Now, just place the last bit of binding on your quilt top edge to finish attaching the machine stitched top edge of the binding – see below.

– BUT we’re not done yet! It’s time to hand stitch the binding to the back of the quilt.


I fold over the binding from the front of the quilt to the back and use a matching thread with tiny stitches that won’t be too easy to see.  One of my favorite brands of thread is Gutermann.


This part takes awhile, so grab a cup of tea and sit down with your favorite music or TV show on – I can generally get this step done in an evening.

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This is the folded binding  at the corner.  I stitched to the end, and then fold the binding down on the next side, keeping a fold of fabric in the corner again.  This fold then makes a perfect 45 degree miter.


Now, I stitch up the fold and then work down the next side of the quilt – attaching the binding to the back using small stitches with thread that matches the binding.


This is a close up of the hand-stitched binding edge on the back.  This piece is now complete –


– Let me know your thoughts about your favorite binding techniques and if you are a 1930’s fabric fan like me.


Adding New Life( Backing and Binding) to an old Quilt

Cleaning Closets and found this!
Cleaning Closets and found this!

My SIL found two old – I’m guessing from the 1930’s partially finished quilt tops while cleaning out her mother’s closet this summer.  What a find!  Each of the squares was hand stitched, and the squares were joined by machine.  I volunteered to have them long arm quilted, then set out to find some backing and binding material that would seem as though it belonged with the original fabrics.  As you can see, the background muslin fabric has changed color a bit with age, but the fabrics have stayed in tact with no fraying or holes!!

Backing Fabric
Backing Fabric



I found some soft yellow and orange that looked like a good match for the colors in the top and picked an open pattern for the quilting template.  I also picked a white cotton batting – a natural or unbleached batting would show through.

Machine Quilted  - no yinding yet
Machine Quilted – no binding yet

After picking up the two quilts, I used the extra backing fabric to create bindings.  The process is pretty simple, so I’ll show you how I did it in the next post.


BTW – if you have any idea on the vintage of these beauties, or like the 1930’s style your self, let me know!


Pillow Talk


Do you have old or dated pillows sitting around  – or are  you wanting to change-up a room look without hiring a decorator?  Re-covering pillows is an easy way to sew up a new look without breaking the bank.

DSCN0523[1]Start by measuring the pillows you want to cover, then cut 2 pieces of fabric just a bit larger than that measurement.  I cut these two pieces 1/2 inch larger than the 15 inch pillow size –  so 15 1/2 inches on all sides for a square pillow. The extra fabric is used for the seam allowance.  I used a 1/4 inch seam on all sides to get the most out of my fabric.

Sew the two pieces of fabric along the edges.  Be sure to keep the right sides of the fabric together, and leave an opening along one side large enough to slip in your pillow.  For this 15 inch pillow, a good 5 inch opening along one side will work.

After sewing the 4 sides together 1/4 inch away from the outside edge, turn the fabric right side out, stuff it with your pillow form, then whip stitch the opening you left in the side seam closed – and you have a finished pillow! Easy – right?


If you want to do a super easy modification of that pillow cover, you can add a flap in the back of the pillow, and sew all the sides together – you won’t have to leave an opening in a side seam this time.

Sewing with this modification makes it much easier to take the pillow form in and out of the cover for washing.  The added piece of fabric along the edge is called a placket, and  I think it adds a nice finished look with out too much effort.  You can even add buttons to the placket for an added accent.

Check out this great tutorial online for a pillow with buttons on the placket.

To sew on the placket, just cut one of your two pieces of pillow cover fabric in half – right down the middle.  This cut piece will be the pillow back.

Next fold over the cut edge on one of the two halves at least 1/4 of an inch. Sew the 1/4 inch piece down, then press this seam.DSCN0532[1]

Take the other back half, and add a strip of fabric to the cut edge.  I added a 4 inch wide piece of fabric the same length as the pillow back.  Simply fold this strip in half and attach to the pillow back fabric, aligning the raw edges to the right side of the second piece of the pillow back.  Press the seam with the added fabric folded out as you can see in the picture below.


Now it is time to put it all together!  Place the two halves of the pillow back fabric onto the pillow front fabric with right sides ( pretty side) of the fabric facing each other, and finished edges of the pillow back pieces placed in the center.  These will overlap now since you added fabric.

Special Note:   Be sure to place the piece of fabric with the folded 4 inch fabric strip on top of the pillow front fabric first, so it will cover up the edge of the other back piece when you turn the work right side out after stitching.

Pin the back pieces to the front piece, then stitch along all four sides for a square or rectangular pillow and turn the completed pillow right side out through the center opening.


I did an extra zig zag stitch around all four sides to add some strength to the seams.


Now, stuff the pillow through the opening and you have finished another pillow!


You can stop with just one, or keep going with coordinated fabrics for a whole new room look in no time at all!


This pillow above became that pile of pillows below- and it only took one evening and one morning of sewing- I literally bought all the fabric yesterday afternoon and I was done sewing before noon today.  And……. it’s not like I spent the entire time sewing either.


Now, I have all of these great coordinated fabric scraps left that may just end up as room accessories like coasters or even a scrappy patched pillow.  Sew, now it is your turn to try it out yourself and share your pillow pics with me.



Summer Afternoon Kids Sewing Project

On a hot sunny day you’ll need your sunglasses, and what better way to keep them from being scratched than an easy to sew sunglasses case.  This project is SEW easy, you can do this with your children, and it is a great way to keep them from being too bored when they want to come inside out of the heat.


Pick some scrap fabrics for the inside and outside of the case.  I found some fat quarters that worked out well.  The contrast is fun – we chose the Blue for the outside and the red for the inside.  I also had some yellow fabric pre-cut into 2.5 inch strips for some home-made bias tape.



I cut the two layers of fabric and some light weight batting into a rectangular shape that was larger than the sunglasses and allowed for a fold-over flap.



I then sewed a basting seam around all three layers to keep them together.



I folded the three layers into the shape I wanted, and bound the edges by sewing some bias tape made from a 2 1/2 inch wide strip of yellow fabric.


I decided to sew around the tape two times in order to get a slightly more finished look.



Then added a button and button-hole for a closure.

DSCN0086[1]This project is so quick that you could do it with a free afternoon and so easy that kids could do it too!



My latest stitching crave

Recently, I have been reading blogs, articles and web pages about English paper piecing. I love the idea of having a portable quilting project, and fortunately for me , found the perfect book at my local quilt shop and was smitten.

Our quilt shop had some pre-packaged fabric selected for making some of Lucy’s blocks- so need I say more…. I bought a package of fabrics.

The colors are warm and subtle- not the brights that I have been working with recently. I like the options with the patterned fabric – the right position of the template can change the look of the finished block. This is nice for creating a kaleidoscope effect when the pieces are joined to make a block.
English paper piecing does require paper templates, and I found a package of many, many honeycomb templates for the blocks in the book. They also have the traditional hexagon templates as well.

The process starts with cutting strips, then smaller pieces which are sewn on to a paper template. Be sure the fabric piece is large enough to leave a 1/4 inch fold on to the back of the template. When stitching this small patch to the paper, it is important to use a sharp needle. I also felt that a strong thread would be a good choice, so I purchased some silk thread for this project. The covered paper pieces are then pieced together to form a pattern. This particular square is a replication of one of Lucy Boston’s crosses.



The individual honey comb shapes are sewn together from the center of the quilt square out to the edge. Each honey comb piece snugs next to another, and is stitched along the one inch edge. The stitches are small and invisible when the square is completed.


As you can see from the picture, the paper backing stays on until the quilt top is finished. This adds a level of stability to the project.

I just need to add these last pieces to my block to finish the first of what will be MANY needed for a quilt top. Not sure yet how big this finished project will be, but until it is done, it will fit nicely into a little box just the right size for holding all of my supplies.

I keep this on the side table next to the couch in our living room. It holds the paper templates, silk thread, sharp quilting needles, fabric strips, small scissors and of course the completed honeycomb pieces.

Another Winter project DONE

So, I have finally put the binding on that rail fence quilt. I sent it out to the long-arm professional, and when it returned, it sat in the pile of UFO’s for a while- I do have a job you know…….
I found some fun play fabric for the backing that really fit the 1930’s retro look of the rail fence fabric material used on the quilt front. I also decided to purchase a commercial quilt binding for finishing.

The backing fabric has cute graphics of children playing – love it- And a story text that goes along with each frame. The full panel tells the whole story right up to ….The End. I think this quilt will be great for play and story time, don’t you?

I decided to machine stitch the commercial binding on. This is a real first for me. I tend to be more of a traditionalist, cutting out 2 1/2 inch strips, joining them with 45 degree angles, and ironing that strip in half before I add the binding to the back. I usually machine stitch to the front and hand stitch the binding in the back. Since this was somewhat of a first, I was concerned about the mitered corners, but they “seemed” to go together fairly well and it was MUCH faster.


Finally Finished Projects- from 2013

As I reflected on 2013, and those finished and unfinished projects- I found a good number of finished projects. The First finally finished project below was in a box in my basement just waiting to be finished one day……..

This was a project started MANY years ago- it withstood a small disaster with water, and a trip to the dry cleaners before I finally sent it out for quilting. The pattern was an old mystery quilt pattern I found online- just love those clues. All of the fabric was purchased on super sale- this is one I will be happy to use outside for picnics.

The second finally finished project is a great mariner’s compass quilt. I had been wanting to make a Mariner’s compass forever, but wasn’t sure how to construct it so that the points were perfect. I happened to find a paper piecing pattern at a quilt shop and found these great patriotic colors for a nice square quilt that I use either on the back of a chair as a quick cover up on a chilly day or on top of a comforter for an added layer on a cold night. The paper piecing made it easy to get those perfect points on the star. After finishing the center compass square, I added large triangles and set the compass on point. I decided to keep going and make it larger, so I dug into my fabric stash and found enough to add a flying geese border……still not big enough so , I added 5 different borders of varying widths to finish it. I’m pretty pleased with the final look.


This last finally finished project is for fun. I could not resist the bright colors set in a dark background in this quilt. I found the pattern at my local quilt shop and had one of those- I just have to make that! – moments. The background fabric is like fireworks on a night sky- fun! This was really just a weekend project- and is a play quilt size or something that can be used as a throw across the shoulders or lap on chilly days. It is now waiting for someone who needs a smile and a bright blanket- maybe even take along to a fireworks display for July 4th.

I still have a couple of UFO’s but hope for time to finish those in 2014 – my current inspiration is a blank space on my wall for a winter wall hanging.

Looking back on 2013: A Few of My favorite Things

Guess what day it is??? Happy New Year!
It is a cold and snowy day here – we will be shoveling out and cross country skiing today. Hope to find some inspiration in nature while we are out. It could end up as a 2014 wall hanging or even full sized quilt.

During the past summer, I was inspired by some Lilipads


I took a picture and brought back some leaves to help me create this wall hanging for my mother’s birthday.



I used the double sided style iron-on fabric adhesive and traced my shapes, then applied one of the sticky sides to some great fat quarters I found at a cute fabric shop.



I used a variety of greens for the pads and shades of white to yellow for the flower.




I ironed the shapes into an arrangement that looked good to me, and then actually quilted it myself on my machine. I used a light weight batting and thread to match the top fabrics.



Christmas quilt time!

My favorite time of the year is here and it’s time to make a great quilt to help keep someone warm when it’s cold outside.

Two Bears in a square

I have some bright holiday fabric and a fun square I designed, Two Bears in a Square.

This pattern has two red bear paws on either end of the green and white swirled fabric center square.  The “two bears” center square has  great darker red bandanna style holiday fabric  triangles placed along the four edges that sends focus toward the center and adds some variation in print size – since the other prints I’m using are small.

I’m not sure yet if I will set the finished squares on point or if I’ll use sashing strips, but either way it will look great.

The challenge will be getting it done in time for Santa to make his deliveries.

I have some great quilts from Christmas past

01c27a4441f7f70323f1bb0365a722d7484a7d415c_00001Holly & berries checker board table topper

01770091eadeef26ff23d44ca56c05ea175592321f_00001Christmas star table topper – I just love stars!

image Cabin in the woods twin sized quilt

– the only thing missing is snow on the cabin roof –

This elf has got to get back to work on Two Bears in a Square!