Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Christmas in July

It's July, and it may be hot and humid in Nebraska, but it really is time to start thinking about Christmas projects. I had planned to have new patterns ready by now, but life got in the way. Funny how that happens.

So, instead of showing you brand new ideas, I've placed some my favorite holiday patterns and tutorials in this blog post so they can be more quickly located. I've tried to pick patterns in a variety of styles, sizes, and color schemes. Links are included.

Most of the patterns here can also be located under the label "Christmas" on the right hand side of this page.

For other ideas, feel free to visit my pattern page on Craftsy.

I wish you a wonderful second half of summer! 

Patterns Available for Purchase on Craftsy

Candlelight: wall hanging or table topper
Snow Family: wall hanging or table topper

Ice Skates: wall hanging or table topper

Holiday Toys, Soft Christmas Ornaments

Holiday Tabletop Trio: wall hanging or table topper

 Christmas Houses: wall hanging or table topper

Let's Rock: mug rugs

Wrapped and Ready: mug rug

Ready for Takeoff: mug rug

Holiday Rag Doll: mug rug

Winter Romance: mug rug

Tutorials on my blog:

Holiday Gift Bags

French Braid Oven Mitts

Home for Christmas: lap quilt

New Toys, Part 2: constructing the styrofoam wreath used with "Holiday Toys"

Monday, December 7, 2015

'Tis the Season: Scrap Busting Gift Bags Tutorial

I'm working on my final holiday shopping list.  Gift bags for little stocking stuffer items are on my list, but they seem like such a waste of money. However, I already have a drawer filled to overflowing with leftover fabric from Christmases past. This super quick pattern was just what I needed to bust my stash and to have reusable gift bags at absolutely no cost.

Sunday night, while watching a silly holiday movie, I chose the fabrics and cut out the pieces I'd need for these six little bags.  Monday, in under three hours, I completely finished all of them. The sewing, ribbon and all took less than half an hour per bag.

Finished Measurements

These bags are 9 1/2" wide and 10" tall. The base is 4" x 5". They are large enough to hold a large mug and assorted goodies, a scarf or a pair of gloves, a mini loaf of pumpkin bread, or an assortment of all sorts of other goodies. The top can be left open for larger items or pulled snuggly together for smaller items.
The white mug is a standard 12 oz size, 4 inches tall and 3 1/2" in diameter at the top.

Fabrics and Materials
  • For the outside of bag: Either one fat quarter of fabric or two rectangles 9 1/2" x 13"
  • For the lining: Either one fat quarter of contrast fabric or two rectangles 9 1/2" x 13"
  • Two 28" lengths of ribbon for the drawstrings, 5/8" or 3/4" wide. (With a satin or other smooth surfaced ribbon in the drawstring carrier the bag will slide open and closed easily. A textured ribbon like a grosgrain will tend to make opening and closing the bag a little bit harder.)
  • Thread
  • Fray Check (A half and half mixture of Elmer's glue and water can be substituted for Fray Check


  •  Cut two rectangles, 9 1/2" x 13", from the main fabric and two of the same size from the lining fabric.
  • Cut two strips of contrast fabric, 1 1/2" x 9".
  • Cut and remove a 2"x 2" square from each corner of the bottom end of each rectangle.


Sewing Instructions
Sew all seams with a 1/4" seam allowance.

1. Fold the long edges of the 1 1/2" x 9" contrast fabric strip in 1/4". Press. Fold the two ends in 1/4". Press and stitch the two ends down.


2.  Align the top edge of a prepared contrast strip 2 1/4" down from the top of each piece of the main fabric. Center the strip 1/2" in from each side. Topstitch the long sides of the strips down with a narrow edge seam. Leave the ends open. These two strips make the carriers for the drawstrings.

3. With right sides together, sew the side seams and the seam at the bottom of the bag.

4. Sew the lining fabric in the same way, but leave a 2" space open along one side seam. This opening will be used to turn the bag when it's finished.  

5. Press all seams open. Press the edges of the opening in the lining back so they are even with the seam allowance.

6. Bring the side seams and the bottom seam of the 2" x 2" squares at the bottom of the bag together. Stitch straight across to make the boxed corners.

7. Turn the lining right side out and fit it inside the main bag. Line the seams up, and sew the bag and the lining together at the top.

8. Turn the bag right side out by pulling the entire piece through the opening in the side seam of the lining.

9. Close the opening with hand stitching, or machine sew it together with a narrow edge stitch.


10. Fold the lining to the outside of the bag and press the top seam flat. I pressed the lining to lie just barely below the main fabric.

11. From the front of the bag, topstitch right next to the upper edge of the carrier. Stitch all the way around the bag in one continuous seam.


12. Turn the bag right side out.

Inserting the ribbon for the drawstrings

1. Attach a safety pin to an end of one of the ribbon pieces. Begin on one of the carrier side openings. Insert the safety pin and pull the ribbon through. Cross to the next carrier and continue pulling the ribbon through that one, bringing the ribbon out on the same side that it went in.


2. Pull the two ends of the ribbon so the ends are even. Hold the ribbon ends together, make a loop and pull the ends through to tie in a knot.


3. Insert the second ribbon exactly like the first, but start on the other side of the bag.


4. Trim the ends of ribbon close to the knots and dab with a bit of Fray Check to prevent fraying.

5. Pull on the ends of the ribbons to close the bag.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Pair of Projects With Candles

The warm light of glowing candles creates feelings of home, comfort, and love. I'm sure that's why candles are symbolic of both Christmas and romantic love. I find myself particularly drawn to them as the holiday season approaches. I had planned to make a candle mug rug this year, but the table runner absolutely insisted on getting itself made at the same time. I'm so glad it did. I had the perfect batiks for the table runner in my stash, and this pair of patterns turned out to be among my all time favorites.

"Candle" mug rug.

"Candlelight" table runner.
I loved using white for candles, but the darker background fabrics were showing through on both projects. The easiest solution was to line each candle with a layer of lightweight muslin. I used fusible web between the muslin and the main white fabric to hold the two together. Then I added another layer of fusible web to the back of the muslin. It does make for a stiffer piece, so I wouldn't want to double the layers like this on a lap quilt or a bed quilt.

Quilting doesn't show up very much on the the background fabric in the table runner, so I had a perfect opportunity to practice some FMQ. Feathers and swirls went smoothly, but pebbles are beyond me! No matter how many pebbles I stitch or what size I make them, they come out disconnected and less than round. I'll keep plugging away though. I love beautifully stitched pebbles, and I've never been able to resist a challenge.

I think the candles may be my last Christmas patterns for the year. There are loads of other patterns begging to be made, but even those will wait a week or so.

Next week I'll be cooking and doing some essential fall housecleaning. A person can only squeeze so many hours from a day.

Wishing you a beautiful weekend!

And, Happy Stitching!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A "First Christmas" Wall Hanging and a Few Lessons

fIt's been a year of exploring new ideas and experimentation. The latest "first" is finally complete.

"First Christmas", 17" x 23 1/2"

It seems like I've been working on this project for months, and in some ways I have been.

Last year, on one our quilt shop hops, we happened upon some stained glass quilts that were different from any I'd seen before. Making and working with the narrow bias tape needed for curved shapes on stained glass quilts is a daunting prospect that scares many on us away from these projects. The curved and detailed shapes of these quilts, however, were outlined with ready made fusible 1/4" bias tape. The seed for this wall hanging was planted that day. And it grew and grew.

I spent most of my spare time in September working on the design for this quilt and locating the right fabrics. The actual construction went surprisingly fast, but, oh my goodness, did I wind up doing things the hard way! It was a new experience for me, but that's how we learn. Every new step is a lesson, and those missteps become the greatest lessons of all.

New Learning

Lesson 1: Sometimes it's best to forego the nonstick applique pressing sheet and fuse appliques right onto the fabric.

I'd thought that it would be so much easier to center my applique onto the gold background oval if it was all in one piece. Normally that's very true, but lifting a large applique in one piece when it's only held together with thin strips of bias tape is just a wee bit tricky. More than a wee bit, in fact. More like almost impossible.

I've written the pattern to show an alternate, much easier way to get everything nicely centered. It involves folding the gold fabric in quarters and pressing light fold lines to guide the placement. Those folds coordinate with guidelines in the pattern. Next time I'll start out this way.

Lesson 2: A rectangle of fabric with a big hole in the middle doesn't like to lay flat.

I didn't want the dark blue fabric behind the gold to alter its color. I had found a perfect piece of soft, golden yellow batik in my stash, but it was barely large enough for my needs. My local quilt shop didn't have anything similar that I liked, so I was being super careful.

Instead of trimming the blue out from behind the gold when it was attached, I decided to cut the oval out of the blue in the first place and then lay it over the gold. But the blue became totally misshaped when I laid it on my work table with that big hole in the middle. In the end, I adhered it to a muslin foundation with quilt basting spray, then I tucked the yellow behind the blue fabric. The double thickness of fabric was too much, but I couldn't remove the muslin until I'd finished stitching the bias tape down. Again, I've written the pattern with an easier option for construction.

Lesson 3: If I ever make this quilt again, I'll either leave the darker blue decorative free motion stitching off the sleeve or I'll add it in with a machine stitch.

Mary and Joseph lived in an area of the world that has always been known for beautiful embroidery, so I thought it might be appropriate to show a bit of embroidery on Mary's sleeve. I'm afraid my level of skill and a dull needle on my sewing machine didn't allow me to accurately reproduce my vision of the embroidery in free motion quilting. It's just "okay".

Lesson 4: Taking a risk and experimenting with a brand new idea was not a mistake!!

Once again, I find myself promoting a product, but this 1/4" fusible bias tape is really excellent.  It molds easily around even small curves. I was worried about fitting it smoothly around the baby's head, but it worked beautifully with practically no effort at all.

This isn't available in my local quilt shops, but I found it easily on eBay.
Once the tape is fused with a hot iron, it needs to be stitched in place. A straight line of stitching on the edge of the tape looks great, but I chose a machine hemming stitch.

Black thread on black bias tape doesn't show in photos, so here it is on regular yellow bias tape.

Will I make another stained glass quilt? 
I've just ordered two more spools of fusible bias tape, so I am prepared. 
Just in case.

My hubby has decided that this is my "masterpiece". He's such a devoted fan. He's even chosen a special place to hang it so he can admire it every day.  Have to love that man.