Friday, February 12, 2016

The Sewing Notebook

Sewing Notebook by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

One of the best habits I’ve picked up is to keep a sewing notebook. This is a place where I can chase rabbit trails, make mistakes, and talk about my creative passions without worrying about how they look to the rest of the world. Your notebook can take any form: a spiral notebook (with lines or graph paper), a mini or full size binder, even a document on your computer. I can’t stress how important it is to pick the one that feels most comfortable when you write in it. If you like, make a pretty cover for your notebook, like my design above which always reminds me of party invitations. Washi tape, colored pens, scrapbooking stickers, cute paper clips -- these goodies can make things lots of fun, but they’re not absolutely necessary. Mine is divided into the following sections:
  • Must Make List: a running list of projects that I want to sew
  • Project Ideas: notes and sketches for new projects
  • Inspiration: my own little scrapbook for anything that inspires me -- magazine pictures, cards, photos, paint chips, etc.
  • Class Notes: all my notes from online or in-person classes on sewing, quilting, and design
  • Creative Journal: thoughts about my creative process and journey (I'll share more about this in a future post.)
  • Fabric Designs: ideas for fabric designs or possible collections -- just for fun!

Sewing Notebook by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

You can easily add sections for your blog, guild meetings, sewing retreats, shopping lists, swap projects, or even your sewing calendar (see my book, Sew Organized for the Busy Girl, for more on that). This notebook can be whatever you want it to be, and it can always change to fit your needs as you go along. I actually keep two sewing notebooks right now. One is a mini binder full of notebook paper which I usually take with me to events, and the other is a slim hardbound book full of graph paper that I use most often at home. As someone who used to have loose notes and sketches floating all over the house, I can't tell you how helpful it is to know that all my work is now organized and easy to find when I need it!

Sewing Notebook by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

In the past, I've tried to have inspiration scrapbooks or journals, but I've gotten hung up on wanting them to be pretty and perfect. There's nothing wrong with pretty, but perfect will do you in every time. The whole point of the sewing notebook is having a place where mistakes don’t matter and where you have room to think and grow. Don’t cheat yourself out of that gift by trying to get everything “right.” No one ever has to see the inside of this book except you. Let it be a place where you always feel safe to be yourself.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Strawberry Biscuit Sewing Kit

Strawberry Biscuit Sewing Kit from tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Even before I wrote my Stationery Kit tutorial, I knew that one day I'd have to try a sewing kit version. And when my friends at Riley Blake & Penny Rose Fabrics said that they were sending me a layer cake of Elea Lutz's upcoming Strawberry Biscuit collection...well, that's all it took. 

First, let's talk about the fabric. This collection is ADORABLE. Elea is a fabric designer who does vintage style so well, and the cuteness meter is pretty much always off the charts. I love every print in this collection, but the plaid Biscuit Birds might just be my favorite. Singing birds on a wire sharing a songbook? My heart melts every time I see them...

Strawberry Biscuit Sewing Kit from tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

This kit is exactly the same as my original tutorial except that I added a bit of felt as a landing spot for needles and pins. I also sewed up a little 2 x 4'' case for my embroidery scissors that fits in one of the larger pockets so that they don't fall out.

Strawberry Biscuit Sewing Kit from tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

My youngest daughter is absolutely fascinated by the darling animals inside the tiny envelope pocket on the left. She kept flipping it open while I was trying to style my photo shoot -- and was so thrilled with it every time that I didn't have the heart to shoo her away.

Strawberry Biscuit Sewing Kit from tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

It seems like every time I write a post, I tell you that, "This new thing that I just sewed is my new favorite thing!" It must sound like I have a really short attention span, but the truth is's the truth. Maybe that's one of the reasons why I love sewing so much. It feels new and special again every time I finish another project. After a day full of grading papers, folding laundry, and vet appointments, those few minutes of sewing that I can sneak in before dinner feel like an honest-to-goodness silver lining -- just one more reason to remember that life really is so good.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Coastline Tour: Brass Ring Pillow

When I first opened the bundle of Coastline fabric that my friend Sharon sent me, I literally gasped. It was like all my days spent beside the Pacific Ocean were sitting there in front of me.

I've spent countless days on the beaches of Southern California, but at none more than Huntington Beach. Chasing seagulls near the water as a child, eating hot dogs and s'mores around the fire pit with family and friends, taking long walks on the sand and pier with my sister back when we were both single teachers escaping to the ocean on school break -- the memories are endless. Sharon captures so many of them with her beautiful collection for Art Gallery Fabrics.

I chose the Brass Ring Pillow from my book, Sew Organized for the Busy Girl, for my tour project. The quiet prints in this collection make a great background for the more saturated ones that shine in a range of tropical colors. It's such a different look from the low volume version I did in my book, and I absolutely love it. This pillow looks like it would fit in perfectly at a beach house or poolside cabana.

I adore Sharon's Tropical print, shown here in the Bronze colorway, which I chose for the pillow backing. It looks equally amazing in the Breeze colorway, which incidentally also comes in voile. Wouldn't this make a stunning summer dress?

Be sure to visit Sew Not Perfect tomorrow for another great Coastline project. Sharon is also giving away a fat quarter bundle of this collection through Instagram at the end of the tour. All you have to do is repost a picture of your favorite Coastline tour project with the hashtag #CoastlineFabricsGiveaway. You can enter as many times as you like (yes, it's okay to have more than one favorite!), and international entries are welcome. Sharon will announce a random winner on Instagram when the tour comes to a close. You can visit her blog here for all the details about the tour and giveaway.

Meanwhile, I think this pillow and I need to hang out by the pool for a while. It's too cold to swim, but I can sip my iced tea and dream of warmer days to come...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Stationery Kit Tutorial

As promised, here's the free tutorial for the Stationery Kit I shared with you on Monday for the Paperie Blog Tour.

This little kit is perfect for holding stationery (of course!), to-do lists, recipe cards, EPP projects, embroidery projects, school flashcards, craft supplies, and whatever else you brilliant people come up with to tuck inside.

I think this would make a fabulous Valentine's Day gift. Just pop in a few goodies from the dollar section at Target (notepads, short pencils, page flags, maybe even a gift card), and you've got an adorably useful gift for your kid's teacher, your best friend, or just about anyone else in your life! If you make one of these and share it on Instagram, please be sure to tag it #stationerykit and tag me too @fabricmutt.

Okay, let's sew!

Cutting Instructions

Cut 6 low volume squares 2 x 2'' for cover patchwork.
Cut 6 saturated color squares 2 x 2'' for cover patchwork.
Cut 1 rectangle 6 x 6 1/2'' for back cover.
Cut 1 batting rectangle 7 x 11'' for cover interfacing.
Cut 1 rectangle 3 1/2 x 5'' for envelope pocket.
Cut 1 rectangle 2 1/2 x 3 1/2'' for envelope pocket interfacing.
Cut 1 rectangle 3 1/2 x 4 1/2'' for envelope exterior.
Cut 1 muslin rectangle 3 1/2 x 4 1/2" for envelope exterior interfacing.
Cut 1 rectangle 3 1/2 x 4 1/2'' for envelope lining.
Cut 1 rectangle 6 1/2 x 10 1/2'' for kit lining.
Cut 1 muslin rectangle 6 1/2 x 10 1/2'' for kit lining interfacing.
Cut 1 rectangle 7 x 10 1/2'' for inside pocket.
Cut 1 muslin rectangle 3 1/2 x 10 1/2'' for inside pocket interfacing.

Other Materials

2'' long piece of twill tape
2 metal snaps (You can substitute other fasteners like Velcro or a hair elastic & button if needed!)
adhesive basting spray
chopstick or turning tool
spool or other object with a round edge

*Note: all seams 1/4'' unless otherwise noted

Make the Cover

1. Arrange the 2 x 2'' squares in a 3 x 4 grid as shown above, alternating low volume and saturated prints. Sew them together to form a 5 x 6 1/2'' cover.

2. Fold a 2'' long piece of twill tape in half, wrong sides together, so that the short ends meet. Baste the short ends together 1/8'' from the short end. Center those short ends on the left side of the bottom left hand square of the cover and baste in place.

3. Use the adhesive basting spray to fuse the wrong side of the patchwork cover to the 7 x 11'' piece of batting. Keep the cover toward the right 7'' side so that there will be room for the back cover as well. Quilt as desired.

4. Sew a 6 1/2'' side of the back cover piece to the left 6 1/2'' side of the front cover patchwork piece. Use adhesive basting spray to fuse the wrong side of the back cover to the left side of 7 x 11'' piece of batting and quilt as desired.

5. Trim the excess batting off the cover. Your final rectangle should be 6 1/2 x 10 1/2''. 

Make the Envelope

1. Fold the 3 1/2 x 5'' rectangle in half, wrong sides together, so that the short ends meet and slip the matching piece of muslin between the two halves of fabric. Top stitch 1/8'' from the fold. 

2. Following the manufacturers instructions, center the stud end of the snap about 3/4'' from the pocket fold and attach securely in place.

3. Stack the pocket on top of the lower short end of the envelope lining piece so that the edges match up and baste in place. Fuse the 3 1/2 x 5 1/2'' piece of muslin to the wrong side of the envelope exterior with adhesive basting spray.

4. Place the pocket lining and envelope exterior pieces right sides together with the top of the envelope (the flap that you'll be able to see) pointed away from the pocket. Use a spool to trace and trim rounded edges on the flap corners.

5. Stitch all the way around the outside of the rectangle, leaving a 2-3'' gap on one long side. Trim the seam allowance down to 1/8'' except for where the opening is.

6. Turn the envelope right side out through the gap, carefully pushing out the corners with a chopstick. Push the raw edges inside the gap, press, and stitch 1/8'' all the way around the envelope. 

7. Attach the socket end of the snap to the flap of the envelope, carefully matching it up so that it will work correctly with the other half of the snap.

Make the Lining

1. Fold the inner pocket rectangle in half lengthwise and press. Slip the 3 1/2 x 10 1/2'' piece of muslin inside, fusing it down with adhesive basting spray if desired, and top stitch 1/8'' from the fold.

2. Place the envelope on the left side of the inner pocket, about 1 1/4'' from the left edge and 3/8'' below the inner pocket fold. Make sure that the envelope flap is open. Spray a bit of adhesive basting spray on the main back of the envelope (not the flap) to hold it in place. 

3. Stitch the envelope down by sewing over the original 1/8'' top stitching on the pocket part of the envelope and then sewing across just underneath where the flap folds down.

4. Fuse the 6 1/2 x 10 1/2'' muslin to the wrong side of the kit lining piece. Baste the inner pocket in place along the lower edge of the lining. Use a pencil or hera marker to trace a line down the center of the lining and the inner pocket, and then stitch over it to divide the pocket and lining in half.

Finish the Kit

1. Place the kit cover and lining on top of each other, right sides together. Sew all the way around the outside of the rectangle, leaving a 3-4'' gap on the top long edge, preferably over what will be the back cover. Trim the corners.

2. Turn the kit right side out through the gap, gently pushing the corners out with a chopstick. Push the raw edges back inside the gap and press. Top stitch 1/8'' from the edge all the way around the cover.

3. Center the socket half of the other snap about 1/8'' from the right side of the cover and attach (both these snaps will go through the inner pocket as well). Attach the stud half of the snap to the opposite side of the kit lining, making sure that both halves match up correctly. Fill the kit with goodies and enjoy!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Paperie Tour: The Stationery Kit

Paperie Stationery Kit by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

Today's project hits all my happy buttons. Not only do I get to kick off the Paperie Blog Tour, but I get to share a project with you that involves so many of my favorite things:

1. adorable fabric that is inspired by both vintage style and classic literature
2. simple patchwork
3. a small but useful item
4. stationery and office supplies

Is it any wonder I'm smiling today?

Paperie Stationery Kit by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

I was so thrilled when Amy asked me to be part of the tour to celebrate the release of her Paperie collection for Art Gallery Fabrics. As you know from the EPP kit I shared with you last month, I had already purchased a fat quarter bundle of Paperie before she sent me more for this project. These prints are just the sweetest. I love the light colors, the vintage yet modern vibe, the quotes from some of my all-time favorite stories. Is there anyone out there who can resist Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice? Not this girl...

Paperie Stationery Kit by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

I had originally planned to make a Constance Organizer, but lately it's been so fun to shrink some of my old tutorials down to smaller, cuter versions of themselves. This little Stationery Kit absolutely stole my heart when it was finished, and now I want to make a whole lot more of yes, a tutorial is probably coming soon. My favorite part is probably that little envelope on the inside -- just the perfect size for stamps, paper clips, or even little love notes.

Photo courtesy of Amy Sinibaldi

Amy is generously offering to send a charm pack of this darling fabric to one lucky winner, so check out my account on Instagram @fabricmutt to enter. If for some reason you're not on Instagram and would still like to enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below telling me so, and I'll make sure your hat is in the ring.

**UPDATE: Giveaway now closed. Congrats Kristin Esser!

Paperie Stationery Kit by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

Have a lovely day, my friends!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Trunk Show in San Antonio

For those of you who live in the San Antonio, Texas area, I'll be doing a trunk show at Sew Special Quilts on Saturday, January 30th from 10 to 11 A.M. The shop is charging an admission fee of $10, with a $5 discount if you purchase one of my books. You can call Sew Special at (210) 698-6076 to reserve a spot. We'll be looking at projects from my book and blog, talking about organization, and answering questions. All the details are right here. I would absolutely love to see you there!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Desert Bloom Hot Pads

Dear Stella Fabrics Desert Bloom Hot Pads by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

When I saw the first pictures of Desert Bloom by Rae Ritchie for Dear Stella, I thought it was lovely. So lovely that I emailed them and said that I'd be happy to join in if they were planning a blog hop to celebrate the collection. Even though they had no official events on the schedule, they were sweet enough to send me a bundle to play with this week.

Dear Stella Fabrics Desert Bloom Hot Pads by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

I had originally planned to make a pillow with this fabric, but when I opened the package, I was floored by those gorgeous watercolor designs. All I could think of were vintage tea towels and linens, and I knew that these prints would look gorgeous in my kitchen. I spent the next two days sewing nothing but potholders and trivets. The mix of botanical prints (those succulents!) and simple basics is just right. That Scallop Dot print in black, white, and blush is a fantastic blender, and it worked perfectly for the binding and loops on these projects. I am so glad I ditched the original plan and went with my impulse on this one. I absolutely love the way these turned out.

Dear Stella Fabrics Desert Bloom Hot Pads by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

But why stop there? I'm thinking cloth napkins, tablecloths, place mats, table runners. This could be the start of a whole new obsession...
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