Tuesday, January 10, 2017

This is Life

Fabric Mutt pillows

My home is Crazytown, U.S.A. this week, as we are having about half of our downstairs flooring replaced. It's going to be gorgeous when it's done, but right now it's a disaster area. My living room is piled high with furniture, my entryway is taped off with sheets of plastic, and my daughters keep trying to sneak downstairs so they can tap dance on the cement before it's all covered up again. The logistics of keeping our dachshund away from our big dogs and our big dogs away from the workers, all while trying to home school the girls in the midst of ear piercing machinery noise, are becoming a full blown comedy of errors. Really, sometimes there's nothing you can do except throw up your hands and laugh.

It all feels like the antithesis of the Instagram life, which I've been trying so hard to keep up with over the past year. I've had little to show in the way of sewing for the past few weeks because I've had my fabric designer hat on, which means hours of researching ideas, poring over color samples, and sketching on paper and computer. I absolutely love it, but it leaves me with pretty much nothing that I can tell you about. Some days I've found myself scrambling desperately to find something new that I can take a picture of to share so that I don't drift out of the good graces of the algorithm.

In the waning days of 2016, though, I came to a sudden conclusion. Sometimes my life doesn't belong on Instagram. Sometimes the things I'm doing are boring or messy or (as hard as it can be to imagine in this day and age) just personal. I can't imagine that I'm the only one who sometimes finds myself living at the mercy of the taskmaster that social media can be. So much has been said about how we all need to keep it real, yet the pressure never goes away to keep it glossy. But really, it's okay to keep some things private. It's okay to not post every day if you don't have anything to share. It's okay to not feel like you have to have two lives -- the online one and the real one. And there is nothing so creatively inauthentic as feeling that we must drum up more creativity for the sake of posting another picture on our account.

Back when I was an elementary teacher, I had the task one year of being a chaperone for our school's annual 5th grade trip to Washington, D.C. I won't go into the many perils of trying to escort eighty 10-year-olds across the country by plane, supervise them in a hotel, and keep them out of trouble while you visit dozens of national monuments, but I think we can safely say that this was a high stress environment. Remember, this was 9 years ago, back before the social media explosion and when iPhones were still new. As a good teacher, I brought my digital camera along on that trip and used it constantly, but something strange happened when I came home. I realized that I had spent my entire trip looking through the lens of a camera, trying to frame shots and get the right photos instead of really experiencing the adventure. How sad, I thought as I looked back through all those pictures. I missed so much.

I don't want my life to be like that trip to D.C. It reminds me of the chorus from a song by Francesca Battistelli called "Don't Miss It" (you can hear the whole thing here):

Don't try so hard to move past the moment
These days go by and they're gone before you know it
So come on, open your window
Let the light shine in
This is life, don't miss it

When I started blogging, my oldest daughter was just four years old. Next month she turns ten. Everyone keeps telling me to enjoy my girls now, because once I blink, they'll be grown up. I can see the reality of that more every day. I want you to know that I love blogging. I love sharing photos with you of what I'm creating on Instagram or here at Fabric Mutt. That's part of the joy in creating, I think, to not just enjoy it yourself but to share it with others. But my soul needs, just as desperately, the pleasure of taking my girls to lunch or snuggling with my husband while we watch an old movie or baking cookies or roughhousing with the dogs or playing in the garden. Taking time off for those things sometimes means that I may go a bit longer between posts on the blog or social media, but I've made my peace with that. Some things are more important.

They brought in the jackhammers today, and it's loud enough that the schoolbooks are going to have to wait a while. So I'm off to the loft with my daughters to try sewing a doll while they play Strawberry Shortcake and practice the keyboard and see who can make their snack last the longest.

This is life...all of this. And I don't want to miss it.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Curious Dream Blog Hop


I'm a huge believer in mixing things up when it comes to fabric. Sure, there are times when I enjoy using a collection all by itself, but something magical happens when you start pulling prints from different designers and themes. So I was thrilled when the lovely people at Windham Fabrics not only invited me to be on the blog tour for my friend Angela's new Curious Dream fabric, but also encouraged me to choose a few of their other current collections to use in my project. I was so excited to see what the results would be!


When Curious Dream, Good Hair Day, and Maribel arrived at my door, I was surprised by how well they played together. The colors blend beautifully, and I love that each collection has a good number of lighter prints to balance out the more saturated tones. I decided to stick with a very simple quilt design: half square triangles pairing a rainbow of colors with low volume prints. I even tossed in a few triangles of solid white and cream muslin to balance things out. 


The quilt finishes at about 55" square, backed in a wide print that I had on hand. I quilted 1/4" on either side of every seam. For the scrappy binding, I used strips of several gray prints from the collections, making a neutral frame for the colorful quilt top.

I'm absolutely delighted with this quilt. The simplicity of the design gives it an almost old fashioned look to me, though it's filled with beautifully modern prints. Curious Dream has so many great blenders in it, and it makes a wonderful addition to my stash. I have to add that Good Hair Day & Maribel are perfectly charming as well. I'm so grateful to Windham for giving me the chance to play with these gorgeous collections!


There are some darling projects on the Curious Dream tour. Be sure to check out all the other stops!

Monday, December 12th – Windham Fabrics
Tuesday , December 13th – Kelly Bowser –Kelby Sews 
Wednesday, December 14th – Brooke Sellmann- Silly Mama Quilts 
Thursday, December 15th – Wendy Sheppard –Ivory Spring
Friday, December 16th – Rebecca Bryan – Bryan House Quilts  
Saturday, December 17th –  Chris Dodsley- Made by ChrissieD
Sunday December 18th – Aurifil
Monday, December 19th-  Jennie-  Clover & Violet 
Tuesday, December 20th – Stephanie Kendron – Modern Sewciety  
Wednesday, December 21st – Joanne from  The Fat Quarter Gypsy
Thursday, December 22nd – Heidi Staples – here!
Friday, December 23rd – Round up post at Windham Fabrics

Leave a comment on this post to win a fat quarter bundle of the Curious Dream collection. The giveaway will be open from now until 8PM tomorrow night. International entries are welcome, and if you’re a “no reply” or anonymous commenter, please remember to include your email address in your comment!
Happy sewing!


**This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations, Sarah!**

Monday, December 19, 2016

Festive Gift Tags Tutorial


Festive Gift Tags, the last tutorial in my series for Fat Quarter Shop, is going live on their blog today. These scrappy little tags are so much fun to make, and it takes all of ten minutes to sew one up. I made these with Garland by Cotton + Steel, which is easily one of my favorite Christmas collections of all time.


These make a nice handmade addition to your Christmas gifts, but you can also string a whole batch of them on a length of baker's twine to make a sweet little garland (mine is hanging on the wall as I type). And why stop at Christmas? You can make birthday garlands, other holiday garlands, luggage tags, name tags, necklaces. Believe me, I had a hard time quitting after just five of these...

Head over to the Fat Quarter Shop blog for the free pattern!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Desktop Sampler Quilt Tutorial


This December marks five years since I started Fabric Mutt.


It's been the most amazing journey. I've learned new techniques, sewed projects for friends and family, made items for blog tours and sample sewing. I wrote a book called Sew Organized for the Busy Girl, which thankfully is still helping people find the time to be creative. I was even able to visit Quilt Market not once but twice. This summer I had my biggest challenge yet, for those of you who haven't heard the news already, as I signed a contract to be a fabric designer for Penny Rose Fabrics. I am so thrilled to be taking this next step! With my first collection, Five & Dime, coming out next July, I know there are more adventures yet to come.


To celebrate this wonderful occasion, I've been working on a special Christmas present for all of you. My Hashtag fabric telephone mini quilt was a hit in the Riley Blake booth at Quilt Market this fall, and I had planned to release the tutorial for the block. When I sat down to write out the directions, though, I found myself sketching a whole mini quilt full of retro inspired office supplies. I know I'm not the only girl who loves the stationery aisle at the store or filling a planner full of activities (and stickers and page flags and colorful doodles), so I thought this would make the perfect gift for all of you lovely friends who have encouraged and supported me through the years. It seemed like it would be such a fun project to sew over Christmas break with the fresh start of a new year ahead of us.


The wonderful thing about this mini quilt is that you can make the whole thing or just use one of the blocks to decorate a pouch or some other small object. Cut the measurements in half to use a block for a cute little pincushion. Double or triple the measurements, and you could use the block on a book bag or a pillow. (Wouldn't a telephone pillow be adorable on a teenage girl's bed?!) Quadruple the measurements, and you'll have the right size for lap quilt. (I'm hoping to make one of those myself this year!) If you use any of the blocks from this quilt or make the entire quilt at any size, please share pictures on Instagram or online; I would love to see what you're making! Just be sure to tag me @fabricmutt and use the hashtag #desktopsampler.

I couldn't have made it these last five years without you, sweet friends. You've give me more joy in this journey than I could have ever found in it alone. Thank you with all my heart.

The Desktop Sampler Quilt
By Heidi Staples
Finished Size: 14 1/4 x 16 1/4”


This quilt is made entirely with scraps, so even though many of the fabric requirements call for a charm square, in most cases you can get by with less. The more prints you use, the more interesting this quilt will be.


Pattern Notes
  • All seams are 1/4” unless otherwise stated.
  • RST = right sides together
  • Press seams open or toward the darker fabric.



The Page Flags, Pens & Ruler Block


Fabric
For
Cutting
Green fashion print, charm square
Page flag #1
1 rectangle, 1 1/2 x 2 1/2”
2 squares, 1 x 1”
Dark aqua text print, charm square
Page flag #2
1 rectangle, 1 1/2 x 2 1/2”
2 squares, 1 x 1”
Aqua popcorn print, charm square
Page flag #3
1 rectangle, 1 1/2 x 2 1/2”
2 squares, 1 x 1”
Lavender geometric print, charm square
Pen #1
1 strip, 3/4 x 3”
Purple geometric print, mini charm square
Pen #1
1 strip, 3/4 x 2”
Red text print, charm square
Pen #2
1 strip, 3/4 x 3”
Dark red text print, mini charm square
Pen #2
1 strip, 3/4 x 2”
Peach crosshatch print, charm square
Pen #3
1 strip, 3/4 x 3”
Orange diamond print, mini charm square
Pen #3
1 strip, 3/4 x 2”
Yellow text print, charm square
Pen #4
1 strip, 3/4 x 3”
Dark yellow dot print, mini charm square
Pen #4
1 strip, 3/4 x 2”
Yellow ruler print, 10” square
Ruler
1 rectangle, 1 1/2 x 6 1/2"
Cream pindot print, fat eighth
Page flags background
Background between flags
Background between pens
Background sashing
3 rectangles, 1 x 1 1/2”
2 strips, 1 x 3”
3 strips, 1 x 4 1/2”
1 strip, 1 1/2 x 4 1/2”
1 strip, 1 1/2 x 6 1/2”


Make the Page Flags



1. Place a 1” page flag square RST on the left side of a 1 x 1 1/2” background rectangle. Sew a diagonal line from the lower left corner of the square to the upper right corner as shown in the photo above. Trim the seam to 1/4” and press open.



2. Repeat with the other 1” flag square on the right side of the rectangle to make a single flying geese unit.




3. Sew the flying geese unit to the lower short edge of the coordinating 1 1/2 x 2 1/2” page flag rectangle.  

4. Repeat steps 1- 3 with the pieces for the other two page flags.




5. Arrange in a row from left to right: page flag, 1 x 3” background strip, page flag, background strip, page flag. Sew them together.


Make the Pens




1. Arrange your pen pieces in a column as shown in the photo above. Sew the right short end of the pen piece to the left short end of the cap piece.




2. Place the 1 1/2 x 4 1/2” background strips between the pens and sew them all together.


Finish the Block




1. Sew the 1 1/2 x 6 1/2” background strip to the right long side of the ruler piece.

2. Sew the 1 1/2 x 4 1/2” background strip between the lower edge of the page flags unit and the upper edge of the pen unit.



3. Sew the right edge of the ruler unit to the left edge of the page flags & pens unit.



The Clock Radio


Fabric
For
Cutting
Peach astronomy print, fat eighth
Clock main
1 strip, 1 x 2”
1 strip, 1 x 3”
3 strips, 1 x 4”
2 strips, 1 x 6 1/2”
Orange grid print, charm square
Speaker
1 square, 3 x 3”
Black star print, mini charm square
Knobs
2 squares, 1 x 1”
Cream text print, charm square
Clock dial
1 rectangle, 2 1/2 x 4”
Cream pindot print, charm square
Clock corners
4 squares, 1 x 1”




1. Sew the 1 x 3” clock main strip to the lower 3” edge of the speaker square.




2. Sew the 1 x 2” clock body strip between the two 1” knob squares. Sew this unit to the lower 3” edge of the speaker unit.



3. Sew a 1 x 4” clock body strip to the right long edge of the clock dial rectangle. Then sew the speaker and knobs unit to the right side of that strip.



4. Sew the remaining 1 x 4” clock body strips to the right and left 4” edges of the clock radio unit, and then sew the 1 x 6 1/2” strips to the upper and lower edges of the unit.



5. Place a 1” background square in one corner of the clock radio unit, RST, and sew diagonally across the square (NOT the diagonal that cuts across the square from the corner of the unit). Trim the seam to 1/4” and press open. Repeat with the other 3 squares in the rest of the corners.



6. Embroider the clock handles onto the dial by hand or machine.



The Tape Dispenser & Eraser


Fabric
For
Cutting
Yellow dot print, charm square
Tape roll
1 square, 1 1/2 x 1 1/2”
1 rectangle, 1 x 1 1/2”
Aqua geometric print, 10” square
Tape dispenser

1 rectangle, 1 1/2 x 2 1/2”
1 strip, 1 x 1 1/2”
1 rectangle, 1 1/2 x 4 1/2”
Dark pink text print, mini charm square
Eraser main
1 rectangle, 1 1/2 x 2”
Light pink crosshatch print, mini charm square
Eraser shadow
1 strip 1 x 1 1/2”
Cream pindot print, charm square
Background
1 square, 1 x 1”
1 square, 1 1/2 x 1 1/2”
1 rectangle, 1 1/2 x 2 1/2”


Make the Tape Dispenser




1. Place the tape roll 1 1/2” square on the left side of the the 1 1/2 x 2 1/2” tape dispenser rectangle, RST, as shown in the photo above. Sew diagonally from the lower left corner to the upper right corner of the square. Trim the seam to 1/4” and press open.




2. Place the background 1” square at the top of the tape roll 1 x 1/2” rectangle, RST, as shown in the photo above. Sew diagonally from the lower left corner to the upper right corner of the square. Trim the seam to 1/4” and press open.



3. Sew the left side of step 1’s unit to the right side of step 2’s unit as shown in the photo above.




4. Sew the background 1 1/2” square to the left side of the unit and then sew the 1 x 1 1/2” tape dispenser rectangle to the left side of that.




5. Sew the 1 1/2 x 4 1/2” strip to the lower edge of the unit.


Finish the Block




1. Make the eraser by sewing the small pink rectangle to the lower short end of the dark pink rectangle as shown in the photo above.




2. Sew the 1 1/2 x 2 1/2” background rectangle to the left side of the tape dispenser unit, and then sew the eraser unit to the left side of that.



The Planner


Fabric
For
Cutting
Striped text print, charm square
Label
1 rectangle, 2 1/2 x 3”
Green sprig print, 10” square
Cover
4 squares, 1 x 1”
2 rectangles, 1 1/2 x 2 1/2”
1 rectangle, 1 1/2 x 5”
1 rectangle, 4 1/2 x 5”
Dark green X print, 10” square
Spine
1 strip, 1 x 7 1/2”
6 colored text print scraps, at least 1 x 1 1/2”
Tabs
1 rectangle each, 1 x 1 1/2”
Cream pindot print, mini charm square
Background
2 squares, 1 x 1”




1. Place a green sprig 1” square RST in each corner of the label rectangle. Sew diagonally across the square as shown in the photo above. Trim the seam to 1/4” and press open.




2. Sew the green 1 1/2 x 2 1/2” rectangles to the right and left edges of the label unit.




3. Sew the green 1 1/2 x 5” rectangle to the upper edge of the label unit. Sew the green 4 1/2 x 5” rectangle to the lower edge of the label unit.



4. Sew the dark green 1 x 7 1/2” strip to the left edge of the planner unit.



5. Line up in a row from left to right: 1” background square, 6 tab rectangles (1” ends touching), 1” background square. Sew these together in a row as shown in the photo above.




6. Sew the tabs unit to the right edge of the planner unit.



The Stapler


Fabric
For
Cutting
Red print, 10” square
Handle
Base
1 rectangle, 1 1/4 x 6”
1 strip, 3/4 x 6”
Grey print, charm square
Carrier
1 strip, 1 x 4 3/4”
Black print, mini charm square
Anvil
1 square, 1 1/2 x 1 1/2”
Cream pindot print, 10” square
Background
1 square, 1 1/4 x 1 1/4”
1 rectangle, 3/4 x 1”
1 strip, 1 x 5”




1. Place the 1 1/4” background square in the left corner of the 1 1/4 x 6” stapler rectangle. Sew diagonally from the lower left corner to the upper right corner. Trim the seam to 1/4” and press open.



2. Sew the 3/4 x 1” background rectangle to the right 3/4” edge of the carrier strip. Sew the 1 x 5” background strip to the lower edge of this unit and then sew the anvil 1 1/2” square to the left edge of this unit.



3. Sew the lower long edge of step #1’s unit to the upper long edge of step #2’s unit. Sew the 3/4 x 6” base strip to the lower long edge of that unit to finish the block.



The Telephone


Fabric
For
Cutting
Blue floral print, 10” square
Receiver
2 squares, 2 x 2”
1 strip, 1 x 3”
Dark blue bow print, 10” square
Base
2 squares, 1 x 1”
1 strip, 1 x 3”
1 strip, 1 x 2”
2 rectangles, 2 x 2 1/2”
4 squares, 1 x 1”
White number print, mini charm square
Dial
1 square, 2 x 2”
Cream pindot print, 10” square
Background
1 strip, 1 x 2”
4 squares, 1 1/2 x 1 1/2”
2 strips, 1 x 2 1/2”




1. Sew a base 1” square to each short end of the 1 x 2” background strip. Sew the receiver 1 x 3” strip to the upper edge of that unit and the base 1 x 3” strip to the lower edge.




2. Place a background 1 1/2” square in the upper left corner of a receiver 2” square, RST. Sew a diagonal line from the lower left corner to the upper right corner of the square, trim the seam to 1/4” and press open. Repeat with the other 1 1/2” background square and the other 2” receiver square, but this time in the upper right corner, reversing the diagonal line as well (see photo above). Sew the first square to the left side of the unit in step #1, and sew the second square to the right side of the unit.




3. Place a 1” base square in a corner of the 2” dial square, RST. Sew a diagonal line across the square (NOT the diagonal that cuts across the square from the corner of the dial square), trim the seam to 1/4”, and press open. Repeat with the other 3 base squares.



4. Sew the 1 x 2” base strip to the lower edge of the dial unit.




5. Place a 1 1/2 x 1 1/2” background square RST in the upper left hand corner of a 2 x 2 1/2” base rectangle. Sew diagonally from the lower left corner to the upper right corner, trim the seam to 1/4”, and press open. Repeat with the other background square and base rectangle, this time placing the square in the upper right hand corner and sewing diagonally from the lower right corner to the upper left corner on the other square. Sew these to the left and right edges of the dial unit as shown in the photo above, forming the base unit.



6. Sew a 1 x 2 1/2” background strip to the left and right edges of the base unit.




7. Sew the lower edge of the receiver unit to the upper edge of the base unit


Finish the Quilt


Fabric
For
Cutting
Cream pindot print, 1/4 yard
Sashing
2 rectangles, 1 1/2 x 6 1/2”
2 rectangles, 1 1/2 x 6”
1 rectangle, 1 1/2 x 15”
2 rectangles, 1 1/4 x 15
2 rectangles, 1 1/4 x 14 1/2
Batting, fat quarter
Quilting
1 rectangle, 16 x 18”
Typewriter print, fat quarter
Backing
1 rectangle, 16 x 18”
Geometric print, 1/4 yard
Binding
2 strips, 2 1/4 x width of fabric


Note: The instructions below are for traditionally piecing together the quilt top, and then you may quilt and bind the quilt as desired (see general yardage and cutting measurements above for that). I decided to construct my quilt top slightly differently, using quilt-as-you-go methods -- you’ll notice the batting in the background and quilting lines on my quilt top in the photos below. Feel free to use whatever method works best for you!




1. Sew a 1 1/2 x 6 1/2” sashing strip between the Pen, Ruler & Page Flags Block and the Clock Radio Block. Then sew a 1 1/2 x 6 1/2” sashing strip between the Clock Radio Block and the Eraser & Tape Dispenser Block.




3. Sew a 1 1/2 x 15” sashing strip to the left of the 3 block unit that you’ve assembled so far.


4. Sew a 1 1/2 x 6” sashing strip between the Telephone Block and the Stapler Block. Then sew a 1 1/2 x 6” sashing strip between the Stapler Block and the Planner Block.




5. Sew the unit that you assembled in step #4 to the other half of the quilt as shown in the photo above.

6. Sew a 1 1/4 x 15” sashing strip to the left and right edges of the quilt. Sew a 1 1/4 x 14 1/2” sashing strip to the upper and lower edges of the quilt.


7. Quilt and bind as desired.
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