Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quilt Market Sewing: Handcrafted

The Handcrafted collection by Alison Glass is really as beautiful as they say it is. As a rule, I admit that I'm not so into anything approaching the category of "batiks," but she makes it work by keeping the designs simple and the colors brilliantly saturated. The fabric weight is perfect for garments and quilts, but Alison (who is, by the way, just as lovely as her fabric) asked me to make a few bags for her market booth. I made a Malibu Satchel and two variations on my Nora Clutch. The prints are paired with pieces of chambray by Andover, and I love the way they work so well together. I bought a layer cake of the collection after sewing up these samples, and I'm hoping to make a quilt before the year is out.

I always have mixed emotions when Quilt Market ends. Following all the fun on Instagram is exciting and inspiring, but it's also a relief to wrap things up and settle back into the pleasure of everyday sewing again. After an insanely busy October, I feel a bit like a child who has finished her school work and is ready to play...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Quilt Market Sewing: Birch Fabrics

Birch Fabrics is still one of my favorite companies to sew for, always featuring clever designs, beautiful color schemes, and the nicest people. Most of my Market sewing for them this time was done with the new Charley Harper line, Nurture. This nine patch baby quilt would be perfect for a little boy's nursery.

Here's a close up of those great prints. I love that bottom right block the most. Those colors are just perfect!

I pieced together leftover fabrics and a cheater print for the backing.

There was one extra nine patch block leftover from my original planning stages. I decided that it would make a fun little pillow to go with the quilt.

This owl fabric on the back is adorable, isn't it?

The Nurture canvas is just right for bags. I had a lot of fun fussy cutting this giraffe print for my Malibu Satchel pattern.

The feather prints are fantastic basics. I even cut a little piece of canvas selvage for a makeshift label instead of a pocket on this version of the bag.

They asked me to make one more Malibu Satchel out of prints from the new Serengeti collection by Jay-Cyn Designs. All those colors look so happy together...

I've been absolutely delighted to see the stunning booth that the Birch crew is putting together. Be sure to stop by their Instagram account @birchfabrics to get a peek!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Quilt Market Sewing: Wild & Free

Wild and Free Agave Clutch by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Getting the opportunity to sew projects for Quilt Market is never something I take lightly. There's no question that it's exciting to work with fabric that hasn't yet been released, but it comes with a strong sense of responsibility too. These projects are part of what designers are using to sell their fabric, and it's important to me that my work makes their work look good. My friend Maureen has a beautiful limited edition collection coming out with Art Gallery Fabrics this fall, and a few weeks back she gave me the challenge of making projects with pieces of her fabric that were approximately 3 x 4" or smaller. She also sent me some coordinating AGF solids to add to the mix. I had a great time seeing how creative I could get with these little scraps. While most market projects are made entirely from large pieces of fabric, I don't think it hurts to show people how a collection looks on a small scale too, especially since scrappy projects are always a popular choice with quilters.

Maureen's Wild & Free collection is a beautiful mix of bohemian and traditional styles, and it made me immediately run for my stack of linen to use as a background for all the projects. The version of my Agave Clutch above has the largest scraps I used on any of the projects. The yarn dyed Essex linen in leather works as a simple backdrop for the prints, and I also love the leather ties I used on the zippers -- something I repeated on all the projects I made with this collection.

Wild and Free Mosaic Bag by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I made a smaller version of my Mosaic Bag to feature the tiniest scraps. The half square triangles on here finish at one inch, and I adore the way they look. It's almost like having a small modern painting on the front of this piece.

Wild and Free Mosaic Bag by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Maureen's prints line up nicely along the top of the pocket on the back of the bag. I used Andover's denim colored chambray for the background and braided cream colored cord for the handles.

Wild and Free Hexagon Coin Purse by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

The last thing I made was a little coin purse out of black Brussels washer linen. All these bags are lined in AGF solids, and this pouch has an interior of saturated gold that looks fabulous against the navy zipper and dark linen. Using a more limited color scheme, I made four tiny half-inch hexagons and hand stitched them to the front. It's a small accessory, but I really like the way this pouch turned out.

Definitely check out Maureen's blog to see the amazing things that she and others have been creating with her fabric. I know her booth is going to be drop dread gorgeous when all of these projects come together in one place!

I'll have more Quilt Market sewing to share with you next week, so stay tuned!

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Acorn Trail Softies by Fabric Mutt

My parents left on a road trip before dawn this morning, and the next two weeks are going to be tough on my daughters, who are so used to having Grampa and Nana nearby for a hug at any given moment. So I couldn't have been happier when my latest order from Fabricworm showed up in the mailbox yesterday containing the Acorn Trail panel for these darling cut-and-sew animal softies. I've been swimming in Quilt Market sewing lately (pictures of that to come later this month), but I stayed up late last night to make some cuddly friends for my girls. I knew they would be needing them for comfort today.

I'm being honest here -- this isn't the best example of my sewing skills. It was well past midnight before I was through, and I was getting a little punchy at the end. God bless kids, though...they don't care if all the edges don't match up perfectly or the opening in the side isn't slip stitched closed. They just give you that happy smile and hug their new toy like it's worth a hundred bucks.

"Thank you, Mommy," Bunny said to me quietly as she cuddled her namesake this morning, "for staying up so late to make these for us."

And suddenly getting only five hours of sleep doesn't seem like such a big deal after all.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Four Corners Pillow Tutorial

four corners pillow featuring acorn trail by fabric mutt

Head over to the Fabricworm blog to check out my new tutorial: the Four Corners Pillow. It features Acorn Trail, Teagan White's latest too-cute-for-words collection for Birch Fabrics. This project is perfect for fussy cutting, but I think it would look pretty great in solids too. Thanks so much to my friends at Fabricworm and Birch Fabrics for letting me play with these gorgeous prints! If you make one of your own, be sure to share photos. You can tag me on Instagram @fabricmutt. I'd love to see it!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sidewalks Seat Cushion

Riley Blake Designs Sidewalks Flannel Seat Cushion by Fabric Mutt

When my friends at Riley Blake Designs asked me to be part of their Flannel Showcase Blog Tour, I was so happy to say yes. In all my sewing experiences of the past few years, I hadn't yet sewn with flannel, so I was excited to have the chance to work with this type of fabric at last. They sent me an incredibly generous package full of the Sidewalks collection by October Afternoon. When I showed the fabric to my family after it arrived, my parents were absolutely charmed by the designs. "That's my childhood," said my Dad, and truly these adorable prints look like they came to my house straight from the 1950s.

Flannel is different from cotton, but not so different that it's terrifying. It reminds me a little bit of working with linen in that it's a little more fiddly sometimes, yet even then it doesn't stretch out of shape the way that linen can. In some ways, flannel seems more forgiving if your seams don't come out precisely the way you want them to. Since I've heard that shrinkage can be a problem, I washed all my material first, something that I never do unless I'm making clothes. Flannel comes out of the dryer so incredibly soft and warm that you just want to sit there and cuddle with it all afternoon. The only downside is having to iron out hundreds of stubborn wrinkles if you forget about it and let it sit in the laundry basket for a day or two...

Riley Blake Designs Sidewalks Flannel Seat Cushion by Fabric Mutt

Everyone at our dinner table has a chair with a built in cushion except my youngest daughter who sits on a vintage wooden school chair. I've been meaning to make a cushion for her seat, and this soft flannel seemed like the perfect material for the job. I wanted to keep my design simple and classic, so I decided to make nine hourglass blocks which I stitched together without any borders or sashing. The blocks are quilted in a pale aqua thread by Aurifil. For the back of the cushion, I chose a blue print since that's my daughter's favorite color. There is no insert for this cushion. I just filled it with stuffing and sewed all the way around the outside edge, a method I love since it adds the illusion of piping and neatly closes the opening in the side of the pillow.

Riley Blake Designs Sidewalks Flannel Seat Cushion by Fabric Mutt

I debated adding ties to fasten the cushion to the chair, but in the end I decided not to. It was a good decision. As you can see, the cushion fits nicely in the middle of the chair, making a cuddly spot for Mouse which can be easily moved if needed. You American Girl fans out there will recognize Kit's dog Grace modeling for the camera here. My Mouse decided from the start, however, that this dog's name was Snuffy, and she carries it with her everywhere...yes, even to the dinner table.

Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more flannel mania!

9/5 Riley Blake Designs - Flannel Play Dress
11/4 Riley Blake Designs Final Post + Giveaway

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Between You and Me

My Medallion pillow from earlier this month -- see the guest post here at Sew Sweetness.

It's been a thoughtful sort of week. First I heard that Sew Fresh Fabrics is closing down. Then I heard that Pink Chalk Fabrics is changing course. Finally I read Holly's post and the article that inspired it. It all has me thinking a lot about this online sewing community.

I've only been blogging since the end of 2011, but it feels like things have changed a lot in that short time period. There is SO much out there now. You can find a free tutorial for almost any project imaginable. Fabric companies are releasing more collections by more designers. There are tons of online fabric shops specializing in different bundles and themes. Sewing bloggers are moving beyond blogging to write books, design fabric collections, and start magazines. It's fun and exciting and so inspiring.

The best package of my week contained these lovely threads from my friends at Aurifil.

The downside is that it's getting much harder to come up with new material because, as my sister always reminds me, there's nothing new under the sun. Copycats are coming on the scene -- some who don't mean to and some who do. There's a constant drive to produce more information at a higher level of quality than ever before. People speculate about whether blogs have replaced magazines, whether Instagram will replace blogs, and what will end up replacing all of the above. I know traditional fabric shop owners who worry about keeping up with online shops, while online shop owners search for a way to stand out in the growing internet market. After all there are plenty of people in this community who are working hard to make their family living from creative blogs and businesses.

There's concern about blogger burnout, and for good reason. To publish a single blog post means that you must decide on a topic, develop your ideas, make the project, style the photos, take the photos, edit the photos, write the post, and edit the post. If that post is a tutorial, you can multiply the workload by at least five times. If you're working on a project for a blog hop, a magazine, or a book, it has to stay secret until the big reveal. So while you're doing all this work behind the scenes, you're also scrambling to come up with something else that you can share on the blog so that you don't leave your readers hanging without anything new. Layer that on top of the responsibilities of a family and career, and it all gets overwhelming really fast.

A stack of solids for an upcoming project...they remind me of sunset on our mountains.

After spending a few days mulling things over, I can't escape the importance of going back to the beginning. Why did we start all of this -- the patterns and the fabric, the blogging and the swapping? We did it because there's something in our souls that loves to create beauty, and it gives us so much joy to do it together. Meeting with you here once or twice a week is like sitting down with a friend in my sewing room, sipping tall glasses of iced tea and sharing our latest projects with each other. It's growing together, learning lessons through the rough times, and sharing the victories that come along the way. When burnout and controversy rise up, we give each other grace and the benefit of the doubt. Friends, after all, hope the best for each other, and in the end, whether we've met in person or not, this all comes down to the simplest of friendships between you and me.

So I'm not giving up. If blogs go the way of the typewriter and the cassette tape (both of which are still completely awesome, by the way), I'll still be here on whatever the next wave is that comes through. We'll still get together for our weekly visits, and yes, I'll still be sewing. Because honestly, I love it. There isn't anything else I'd rather do.
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