March 5, 2016

sweet pincushion tutorial

It has been such a joy to have an enthusiastic, quick-learning intern, Sam, working alongside me in my home studio for the past couple of weeks.  My very own millennial!  She is generous by nature, and thus has created this delightful tutorial for you to enjoy. 

Keep your pins organized with these simple and cute pincushions - the perfect addition to any sewer’s kit! This project can be done in an afternoon and does not require a sewing machine.

You will need:
  • fabric of your choosing (this depends on how big you would like your pincushion, but roughly 10” x 10” should be enough to work with)
  • needle and thread (a sewing machine can be used, but a needle and thread is easier)
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • embroidery floss
  • hot glue gun
  • polyester fiberfill (the brand used in this tutorial is FairfieldPoly-fil)
  • button kit (the brand used in this tutorial is the Dritz Craft coverbutton kit)

Step One:
Determine the size of your pincushion. For the smaller size in the image above, the top of a bowl was traced, and for the larger size, the rim of a salad plate was traced.

Step Two:
Flip your desired template over and decide what section of fabric you would like to use, cutting out a rough square to make tracing easier.

Step Three:
Iron your fabric if necessary. Flip over the square and trace your template on the back using a pencil. Cut this circle out. 

Step Four:
Grab a needle and thread of your choosing, white was used for these pincushions. Without tying a knot in the end of your thread, begin hand stitching a long running stitch all around the edge of the circle.

Step Five:
Taking each loose end of thread, carefully pull to gather the fabric into a ball with the right side facing out. Knot the thread leaving a small opening for stuffing the fabric. Gently fill the pincushion with poly-fil. Next, rethread the needle, and begin stitching the opening closed. 

Step Six:
This step is optional, but gives the finished pincushion a more polished look. Cut a long piece of embroidery floss in the color of your choosing (dark green was used for this tutorial). Begin wrapping the pincushion with the embroidery floss as if you were tying a ribbon around a package. Split the pincushion into segments, twisting the embroidery floss to change directions. Knot the end, and cut the floss close to the knot. 

Step Seven:
Next, add a button to cover the knotted embroidery floss. Using the clear viewfinder from your button making kit, choose a small section of fabric and trace the larger circle on the back of the fabric using a pencil. Then, trace the smaller circle on any section of fabric. This circle will not be seen, but will keep the metal from showing through the fiber.

Step Eight:
Place the larger circle evenly on top of the white rubber piece with the right side facing down. Place the smaller circle in the center of the larger circle. Add the top metal button piece and the blue rubber piece inside of the metal piece. Push down evenly until the button piece is all the way inside the white rubber piece.

Step Nine:
Fold all of the excess fabric into the center, placing the outer metal button piece on top. Use the blue rubber piece to push down again. Once the button is firmly secured, pop it out of the white rubber base.

Step Ten:
Using hot glue, add your finished button to the center of your pincushion. Glue this onto the center where you stitched the opening closed and tied the knot in the embroidery floss.

Let the glue dry, then add some pins to your new pincushion!

September 9, 2012

quilting with my mom

Some of the happiest times I've spent with my family have been times when we are all creating together.  We love to get together and try out a new project idea or technique.  Recently, my mom and I decided to learn a traditional but (relatively) newly popular quilting technique known as "Cathedral Windows".  The allure of this pattern is not only that it looks gorgeously textured when finished, but also that it is does not require the actual quilting, batting, or backing of other quilt patterns because of the way that the fabric is folded.  It combines fabric folding reminiscent of oragami with quilting in a way that is right up my alley, and I was itching to try it. 

With one of her tried and true quilting books in hand, my mom arrived at my house ready to get to work.  Many traditional quilts made this way use muslin so that you can really see through it when it is held up to light, but we used Robert Kaufman's Kona cotton, which is a lovely weight for this application.  You can also choose to use lots of different fabrics for the "windows" or to do as we did and use a single fabric throughout the project.  I loved the effect of Emily Herrick's Sea Star with the crisp white "frames" of the windows. 

As we worked, we made a couple of variations to the pattern we were following, and we were very pleased with the effect we achieved.  The steps that I outline below are the ones that we ultimately settled on.  After you get used to the steps of the pattern, I highly recommend playing around with different fabrics and variations, as small changes make a big impact with this technique.  It's very simple to vary the size of each of the blocks, for example, and that makes the whole design play differently.  I do find myself referencing the steps over and over as I work, though, so I created this handy project card that you can print and keep next to you as you cut and sew.  Simply click on the card to get to a pdf version that you can print easily.  I love to have a quick reference that I can glue into my project notebook.

So try it out--I'd love to see pictures of your projects!  Feel free to post any to my Facebook page.  Consider yourself warned, however.  This can be addictive!

June 13, 2012

juicy fun

For Mother's Day this year, my family bought me a juicer.  Mother's Day, and most holidays for that matter, are usually a pretty low-key affair in our house, with handmade cards and the like.  But I've been hankering for a heavy duty juicer for some time now, so they spoiled me.  Was it a good gift?  There's no way to sugar coat it-- I'm obsessed. 

The juicer has five speeds, so you can juice almost anything.  I can't even focus when I'm in the produce aisle or the farmer's market now.  My mind is just whirling with the juicing possibilities.  I have always loved to eat fresh fruits and veggies, but I like drinking them even more.  It feels like the nutrients are rushing into your system.  The kids enjoy the simpler juices (a pear, carrot, and apple blend, for example), but my favorites have kale and beets.  I also got a big, fat, colorful book called The Big Book of Juices by Natalie Savona, and we've been going through it juice by juice.  Each blend has a listing underneath telling how good the juice is for energy, detox, immunity, digestion, and skin. 

Here's one of my favorites:
3 carrots
1/2 apple
1/2 orange
1/4 beetroot
1 stick celery
2 large kale leaves

I always double everything because my husband and I each have a glass.  And I usually up the beets a smidge because beets are my favorite.  I really do feel better after I drink it! 

And if juicing for health isn't your bag, there's another incentive: fresh juices make amazing cocktails.

May 6, 2012

another reason to love Ed Emberley

I was a fan already.  You may remember that I credit Ed Emberley with the rekindling of my four-year-old's love of drawing.  His books overflow with joy and color, and now the man who describes himself as an "old grandpa kind of guy" has let all of that spill into Happy Drawing, his line of organic fabrics for Cloud 9.  The line is based on his first drawing book, Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals, first published in 1970. 

Resisting the urge to buy a bolt of every print in the line, I pre-ordered a selection from Hawthorne Threads and waited (quite patiently, I think) for them to arrive.  I was not disappointed in the least.  Each print has its own distinguishing details-- a little "kaw' from the crow in Forest Friends, for example.  So charming!

The colors are every bit as rich as the drawings in his books.  Take a look at the giraffe print--orange on a field of bright blue.  I'm in heaven!
Now, to decide the sewn-up fates of these beautiful fabrics.  They are delightfully unisex and will work well for all sorts of projects.  I started with a little Pajama Pillow in Elephants.
I just love when talented illustrators give us wonderful fabrics to work with.  Thanks again, Ed Emberley!

April 10, 2012

art tote giveaway

Goodness-where did March go?  It was a busy one for me, filled with birthdays, lots of sewing, and even a little travel.  But now I'm ready to get back into the swing of things--and what better way to do that than with a new giveaway!

I will be giving away one of my Beeps' Peeps art totes.  Should you win, you will be able to choose boy, girl, or gender neutral color schemes.  The tote comes with a coloring book and crayons, ready for creative fun?

Who can enter? Anyone 18 years or older in the US or Canada.

How do I enter? Simply use the Rafflecopter entry form below to enter.  You will see that you can enter a few different ways.

When will I find out if I won? I will choose a winning entry within 48 hours of the contest's close at midnight on April 17. I will notify you via email and will also announce the winner on Facebook and Twitter. I will get your mailing address at that time.

Good luck!

February 9, 2012

an open letter to moms

photo by momp photography
Ladies, we need some new terminology.

One day in the car, my son asked me, "If a baker bakes and a teacher teaches, does a ninja ninj?"

We moms have the same problem as ninjas.  The names that we have for what we do, well, they do not actually describe what we do.  I first started thinking about this while I was catching up with a friend, the mother of twins, at the beach one summer.  In the course of the conversation, I asked her if she was working, part time or anything.  She started to answer, but her mom piped up from her chair.  "I hated when people used to ask me that.  Yes!  I have two young children!  I am working 24 hours a day!"

She was right, of course.  I myself am a teacher with two young children and a small business.  I am a "working mom".  But what mom isn't working?  Similarly, in an understandable attempt to get away from the completely inaccurate title of "stay-at-home mom", women have started to self-identify as a "full-time mom".  OK, that's more accurate, but does it imply that I am a part-time mom, letting my familial concerns float away as soon as I clock in at school?  Perhaps that is overly defensive, but the reality is that many of these terms are loaded in a way that we, as women, have allowed.  Many of our descriptors have taken on a this-not-that element that somehow passes judgement. 

Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe the negative connotations are in my head, the result of the guilt we inevitably feel no matter the path we take.  I would like to think that women are rooting each other on, thinking that each of us is just doing what's best for us and for our families, though that might not be what's best for the mom or the family next door.

What do you think?  Do we need a branding overhaul on motherhood?

February 4, 2012

a new design and my first-ever giveaway!

There's a new car mat in town. 

Girls like to play with cars, too, right?  And certainly plenty of little gals have played with the original On-the-go Car Mat, but when a friend suggested that her sweet niece would love one with more feminine flair, I thought--why not?
Here's the thing: I don't want to call it the Car Mat for Girls.  First of all, there's no reason why a boy couldn't play with it.  But also, the original Car Mat is for girls if they feel like playing with it.  I say, let kids play with whatever they want!  Well, maybe not power tools or broken glass, but you catch my drift.

So, I am leaving it up to YOU.  What should this car mat be named?  I want a name that indicates that girls might like it, but not a name that excludes boys.  It could be a town name or whatever you can dream up.  The new name will appear as "On-the-go __________________ Car Mat".  If I choose your name idea, you win one!

Take a good look and then enter below!

Who can enter?  Anyone 18 years or older in the US or Canada.

How do I enter?  Simply use the Rafflecopter entry form below to enter your name idea.

When will I find out if I won?  I will choose a winning entry within 48 hours of the contest's close at midnight on February 11.  I will notify you via email and will also announce the winner on Facebook and Twitter.  I will get your mailing address at that time.

You may enter once only.  Good luck!