On Saturday, I started and finished my first attempt at sewing in circles: Quilted coasters!
Ellen Luckett Baker has written several fantastic books and I’ve found her tutorials to be awesome and easy to follow. I received her latest 1,2,3, Quilt from my Mother in law this Christmas and dove in. To be honest, I was a little overwhelmed by all of the amazing projects in this book. I think sometimes I get this block in my head, like a… “You can’t do that” and it takes me a while to really get over it and just give it a try (same thing happened with zippers…fear conquered, post to follow 🙂 ) I want to do things perfectly, and I’ve realized with sewing, perfection is well… not going to happen. The love is in the quirks.
Anyways. I decided to try this project because she mentioned in her book that this could take an hour. Well, it took about two hours, with some help (thank you, love), but all in all it was a quick and satisfying project.
One of the biggest take-aways from this project was Ms. Baker’s side note advice on sewing circles – Sew fast and use small stitches. When I didn’t over think it, this method made the coasters look so much better! I just like to go slow, and that did not work as well with one of the coasters… Poor lopsided circle like coaster.
Any other advice for sewing circles?
The actual piecing and quilting to this project was great – definitely helped me feel more confident with moving on to bigger quilts. One of my next fears to conquer is new sewing “feet” and quilting in something other than a straight line. Any quilting advice for an amateur?
A friend of mine recently gifted this amazing antique glider to our family.
Her Mom had slip covered it for her and I decided I would try to do the same (leaving the red and white underneath, in case we do some redecorating in the next year or two :))
I started by laying out the cushions on the fabric and tracing around the edge – giving an extra inch or so around each cushion (for the side part of the cushion/seam allowance).
(I think the seat looks like a loaf of bread….) Don’t forget two pieces of fabric for each cushion!
I was hesitant to use this dark of fabric with our notoriously hairy cat, but there is no way she will jump on this glider – the moment it starts rocking she would freak! David suggested this color and I’m so glad we decided to go with it.
I sewed both sides together inside out, leaving the straight side at the bottom/back of each cushion open.
Then it was “fitted” and by fitted – I mean, put on the cushion inside out and deciding which areas needed to be brought in a little. I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to covers – especially with this fabric being a Kona cotton and not a heavy upholstery fabric – it was destined to show lines. You can be as picky as you like… 😉
I also wanted to put ties on the top of the back cushion (as had been done before). So I cut some two inch strips and basically made them into bias tape. Looking for a good bias tape tutorial? Head over to MADE and check out Dana’s amazing videos. I can NOT get enough of her fantastic tutorials.
Then I went singer stitch crazy, and found a fun stitch to close it up with. I took two of each strip and put them at about 10 and 2 o’clock on the rounded top part of the cushion. I chose to attach these ties as I sewed the back cushion pieces together – it worked out well!
After I was happy with the fit, I hemmed the bottom. Notice I left the bottom open.
The seamstress before me had closed the back of each cushion by hand stitching, but I really want to be able to take the covers off and wash them… So for right now, I’m leaving them open, with an intent to eventually sew on some velcro for easy on/off.
And there it is! (with one of my Koi pillows)
I also made a… cough… quick stop to my local quilt/fabric shop, Intown Quilters, and picked up a few fat quarters (as well as the Kona that I used for the slip cover). Here’s a quick Fabric Friday for you.
Top: Pretty sure that first one is Kaffe Fasset (Sadly no detailed selvage on this one!), Kona Solid
Middle: Gem Tones Color Story by Michael Miller (both)
Bottom: Grey, Fox and the Houndstooth – Andie Hanna for Robert Kaufman
I can not pick a favorite, though I am a sucker for foxes… I’m looking forward to using these for some fun new projects coming up!
What have you been working on? Any projects on your horizon?
So I met up with a new client a few weeks ago. She was looking for a few pillow covers and… A bench slipcover. So I did what any sane amateur sewist would do – I ran home and googled it.
Thank you, Señor Google.
So here’s how it went:
I got the measurements for the large rectangle that I would need and hemmed each side ahead of time.
My client wanted a ribbon to go all the way around, 1 ” from the bottom of the slip cover – so I put it on right after the hem. Save the headache it would have been later. (Note – It still ended up being a little bit of a headache later because I mismeasured and had to recut, rehem, take off ribbon, resew ribbon because one side was too long! Two hours later…) The moral of the story is – lay your fabric out on the floor, put bench cushion side down and measure how many inches you want from the edge of the bench… so wish I would have paid attention to that – for both of the slipcovers I did!)
I find that the first time I do a new sewing project it takes at least double the time it should. Maybe I’m still too much of a perfectionist, but I want it to look good, darn it! The other aspect of this project that made it difficult – the ribbon that was not on the hem, the fabric was super heavy, and I was making it for a client, which adds to the stress level and that “I want my client to love this” mentality.
Want to make a slipcover? Here were my big takeaways –
- Measure with bench face to the floor (save yourself half an hour to two hours of remeasuring, taking out stitches, etc.). Measure out 8 inches from each side (or less or more based on how long you want your cover to be). Don’t forget to account for a hem!
- Hint – If you put ribbon or some sort of border on – no hemming necessary.
- Tighten the corners with the right side of the fabric facing the bench, wrong side out. Pin and check to see if it’s tight enough before you go to sew. Then recheck after you’ve sewn.
- Go for super tight sides by tweaking (pinning & re-sewing closer), even after sewing your triangles originally. It really makes the cover look sharp.
5. But flowy sides can still look good! (With the purple slip cover I did the hem last – with the white I hemmed it first)
Have you ever made a slipcover before? Any tips? Do you hem first or hem after you’ve done the corners?
Pillows have been an easy place to start as far as sewing. So if you’re looking for an idea or just a place to begin – they’re square, easy to measure, easy to sew – Go for pillows. I have pillowed up my house…
And my parents house…
And it’s been great 🙂 Nice splashes of color, reusing old pillows that I’m tired of. So I decided it was time to try something different. Like piping… Needless to say I was a bit intimidated, so of course – I checked out youtube and found this awesome video.
There is some name dropping as far as the company/fabric/etc. but all in all it was SUPER helpful in figuring out the world of piping. I love watching expert seamstresses, especially when they inspire confidence and don’t overwhelm – and this video did that really well.
A couple of my big takeaways from this project –
- It’s ok to use a zipper foot if you don’t have a cording foot (though it’s hard to get super close to the cord/pipe.
- Making snips on the corners is super important for a nice fit, but don’t snip too much or you’ll see it when you put the pillow together.
- Pick a piping that has a nice contrast. I attempted to do another set of pillows with my own home-made piping. My piping looked great, but the two fabrics I chose did not have enough of a contrast and the pillow turned out kind of bleah. Sad day.
- Pressing is slowly becoming more important to me. When I first started sewing I would avoid the iron like the plague. I’m realizing more and more how pressing can make a project look more professional. With this project, I pressed the front piece of the pillow that has the cotton and the print on it. I was really happy with how these fabrics looked together, and pressing them ahead of time made the pillow look really nice at the end.
And I was pretty proud of how these turned out!
Have you ever tried piping before? Any advice?
Welcome to my new blog. As many of you know, I’ve been caught up in the new world of sewing, quilting, fabric and thread over the last year. As I begin to spend more time on this venture, I thought I would start blogging more of the journey. But before we jump in to sewing projects, crazy cat stories and such… Let me tell you about my Grandma.
Growing up, I could always count on Grandma to make cool things, whether it was piggy banks, dolls or mittens, dresses or pj pants. Her basement was filled with wonders – bolts of fabric, multiple sewing machines, a kiln, a ping pong table… (the list of wonders would continue for days). Gram would have the quilting ladies over on Mondays and make blankets for new moms. She would do craft fairs and make costumes.
She even made my 11th grade prom dress.
Blue is my favorite color, so of course – a blue quilt for graduation.
Another blue themed quilt for my wedding (Kitters not included…)
This summer, my Mom and I road tripped up to see family and I had the special opportunity to actually work with my Grandma. We spent some time going through boxes of old fabric, deciding what was good and what wasn’t. We worked on a blanket, pinning and sewing it together.
I took along pictures for her to see all of the little things I’d started and even brought along one of my quilted placemats to show her (she really liked the fabric ❤ tsuru).
As I sew and start to create my own costumes, pj pants, quilts… I think about her and how much she has made and given throughout the last 80+ years. Gram is a pretty amazing lady.
So thanks, Gram. ❤
What about you? Who inspires you? How did you get started sewing?