July 23, 2014

Paying It Forward

Have you heard of the
Pay It Forward
project in the sewing and quilting world?
Read on, and your interest will be piqued!


My story begins with a wonderful blog called
where Wendy and her daughter Charlie
feature all sorts of beautiful handmade creations...
there's lots of knitting, crocheting, sewing,
embroidery and photography going on!

Photo by Charlotte's Web - African flower pincushion
I first came across Charlotte's Web last year,
when I was creating at least one Christmas project every month.
Wendy was doing the same thing,
and I looked forward to seeing her progress each month.

Photo by Charlotte's Web - Christmas ornaments
after she had received a Pay It Forward gift.

These were the "rules" as explained by Wendy:

That means it is my turn to make gifts for three other bloggers.  If you would like to receive a handmade gift from me and then be willing to make a gift for three other bloggers when you receive mine, just leave a comment on this post stating you would like to do this.  You have a year to make the gifts after you receive mine, and you must have an active blog to participate.

I left a comment that I would love to be involved.

{Who wouldn't want something handmade by Wendy???}

Recently I received a wonderful package,
all the way from New Zealand to Pennsylvania!

This lovely one-of-a-kind card greeted me!
It's got great texture and lots of style.


Next I found this perfect necklace, made from a little kit.
I adore that little scissors charm!


Everyone loves a cupcake...and this one is made from a pretty fabric!

{See the little sign? It's non-fat, of course.}


And here's the star of the show...
when I first saw it, I was in love with it.
I immediately loved the sweet fabrics,
in lots of fresh colors, with a pop of red.

{The lining was made with that turquoise and lime leafy print from V and Co's Simply Color line...
one of my alltime favorites!}


Guess what?
That was the BACK of the bag, in the photo up above.
When I flipped it over, I gasped in delight!


Believe it or not...just a few days earlier,
I had seen this gorgeous kite block,
Jeneta...one of my swap friends from the 
had received the wonderful book, 
and she wrote a great review of the book.

Photo from Plum Jam blog
I've made up my mind this book is a must-have,
and that little kite was a deal-maker for me.


Just look at the detail of the kite tail on the bag,
with exquisite embroidery by Wendy!


Wendy added a set of bamboo handles to the bag,
as a stylish detail.


I'm really going to love carrying this bag around
all summer.
Good thing I'm not shy...
everyone's going to want to know where I got it,
and now I've got a great story to tell!


I can't wait to get started paying it forward myself.
I've decided to select my three recipients
as a surprise, rather than to ask for applicants.
I would love to catch some sweet blogger friends
completely off-guard with a handmade gift.
I already have my recipient list made up.

{Wouldn't it be fun if I've chosen you?}

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July 16, 2014

Free Tutorial - Summer Placemats and Flatware Pouches

At my house, we're all decked out for summertime!



Wouldn't it be fun to jazz up your own table
with fresh new place settings?
Today I'm sharing a free tutorial,
for placemats and matching flatware pouches!


For these samples, I used a few summery coordinates
I got things started with a favorite print:
with red and blue cabanas on a creamy background.


Next I chose a solid fabric,
The taupe tones reminded me of rich sandy beaches.


And now for a little zing...


To make a set of 6 placemats and 6 flatware pouches,
I used about one yard each of the Beach Huts and Linen,
plus 1/2 yard of the striped fabric.
You can cut pieces for 3 placemats,
cutting across the 54" width of home dec or curtain weight fabrics.

Let's get started making the reversible placemats.
I created pieced sections for the front sides.

For each placemat:
cut a section of the beach huts fabric,
measuring 6" high x 17 1/2" wide,
to be used as the center strip.

Add the bottom strip in linen,
cut to 3 1/2" high x 17 1/2" wide.
Add the top strip, also in linen,
cut to 5 1/2" high x 17 1/2" wide.

Here's the placemat front, all stitched and pressed.
Trim the finished front to 13 1/2" high x 17 1/2" wide.


{Keep in mind, you can use a single piece of fabric
or make a patchwork in any pattern. Design opportunities are endless.}

For each placemat cut a backing piece,
measuring 13 1/2" x 17 1/2" wide.

Pin the front and back pieces with right sides together.
Starting on the upper edge, about 2" from a corner,
stitch around all 4 sides with a generous 1/4" seam,
leaving about 2 -3 " open for turning.

Here's a tip I always use
whenever I leave an opening for turning.
I backstitch a tiny (1/4") seam
that goes from the opening to the edge of the fabric, 
as shown in the photo below.
This strengthens the opening
and also makes it easy to turn under the edge
during the pressing step.


Turn the placemat right sides out through the opening.
Use a turning tool to smooth out the side seams
and gently push out the corners.
Give it a good press,
then topstitch near all the edges.
Repeat to create a set of four...or six...
or however many you need.

Admire your gorgeous finished placemats!


And they're reversible!



Now let's make those fun flatware pouches.
For each pouch:
cut (1) outer fabric 6" x 15"
and (1) lining fabric 6" x 15".

Pin outer fabric and lining right sides together,
and stitch with a generous 1/4" seam,
just as you did for the placemats,
leaving a 2" opening on one long edge for turning.

Turn the pouch right sides out through the opening.
Use a turning tool to smooth the seams
and gently push out the corners.
Press well.


Place the pouch with the lining side up,
and fold the bottom edge up to make a 5" pocket.
Press well.


Begin stitching at the bottom fold,
and topstitch along one long edge,
across the top,
and along the other long edge.
Reinforce the stitching along the top edges
of the pocket,
since these are stress points.



These are super quick to make,
and you'll have your set finished in no time.
Look how sweet the flatware pouches look,
filled with silverware and a napkin.


They really dress up those pretty placemats,
don't you think?
These would make wonderful gifts
for Mother's Day, birthdays, wedding showers...

I made some more, to match my Cherry Kitchen decor!
They're just as much fun to use indoors.

{Also, I have a fabulous red gingham picnic tablecloth for my outdoor table.}


I feel more of these coming on...
perhaps with some ric rac trim,
or button-down flaps.

For now, I'm going to have fun using this set all summer long!



This set looks really sharp with the Beach Huts pillows
I had created last summer!



If you create your own placemats or flatware pouches,
I hope you'll let us know how yours turn out!
Feel free to leave a link in the comments,
or add them to my Flickr group here.
Enjoy!



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July 5, 2014

Needle Book Swap - Received!

The time has come to wrap up our
Need a Little Needle Book Swap...
and I can't think of a better way than to share
the one I received from Gabrielle!


As you can see,
the needle book Gabrielle made for me
is just filled with personal touches,
beginning with my NAME on the front!

{Those hexies are so tiny and sweet!}


There are more little hexies
decorating the back cover of the needle book.

{I think that every needle book in our swap has been just as gorgeous
on the back as the front...don't you?}


Inside are thick felted wool pages for needles...
you can almost feel the substantial texture
from this photo.


This particular needle book includes
a very smart vinyl pocket inside,
with a fabulous zipper closure.

{How did she know I adore office supplies?!?!?!?}



When I first saw the labels on the felt pages,
I couldn't figure out how
Gabriella was able to add the words,
describing how they were to be used.


I mean, I've spent quite a few minutes  hours
shopping on the internet,
and I've NEVER seen any twill tape,
printed with names like these!


I remembered that Gabrielle
had contacted me to find out
what types of handsewing I enjoy,
and what needles I like to use.


It dawned on me that she MUST have
printed these tapes herself somehow!


Sure enough, Gabrielle shared with me how she did it,
using a printer, some twill tape,
and a bit of scotch tape.

Someday I promise to try it myself
and explain to you how it's done!

{Ric  rac! I see ric rac!}


Besides the fabulous needle book,
Gabrielle created this beautiful boxed pouch,
in my favorite colors!


Gabrielle's workmanship is exquisite!
I would love to see what her long-arm quilts
look like, as I'm sure these little projects
are a glimpse of what she can accomplish.


There were more goodies, too...
a lovely journal,
some fun washi tape and a package of twine.
I am such a spoiled brat!


Have you ever tried these wonderful needles
from Foxglove Cottage?
They have something for every type of handsewing,
and Gabrielle included a couple of packages
in my swap gift!

{Perfect!}


I don't even know how exactly Gabrielle and I found one another...
but that's the most fun part about the internet...
and swaps!
THANK YOU, GABRIELLE!

Thanks to ALL of you who participated
in the Needle Book Swap
and made it a great success!
You girls are the best!


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June 23, 2014

Swap Sent and Revealed - Need a Little Needle Book

At long last, it's time to share
what I made for my partner in the 
Need a Little Needle Book swap!

{Visit our Flickr page here to see more needle books from the swap!}


As the Swap Mama for our exchange,
I had the luxury of selecting the person
who would create a needle book for me,
and also the one who would receive my creation.
I chose to send my needle book to
the lovely and talented Gail.

Having just met Gail,
all I knew about her was 
that she enjoys happy bright colors.

That led me to pull these fabrics,
and I named my project the
Bright Idea Needle Book.

{I hope it will inspire happiness and creativity for Gail!}



I could not resist using the tutorial by Nana Company
to create this little needle book.
I see more of these in my future,
because they are pure FUN to create!

to lay out the squares for the back,
plus a strip of squares for the front panel.


I added a ric rac edging, and I really think
it adds sweetness and fun to the finished needle keep.


Want to see the back?
I love it as much as the front...
yep, I need to make another one,
with the patchwork on the FRONT.


And now let's look inside...
this time I chose some turquoise wool felt
for the interior pages.


I used more ric rac - in golden yellow.


I found some lovely lace,
and I added a bit of butterfly...
always a bright idea!


So once that little needle book
was finished,
I decided to create a matching pincushion!

I used a favorite pattern
purchased from Details by Des on Etsy.

Can you just imagine how squeezy this pinnie is?


One of the reasons I chose to make 
this style of pinnie was that I got to use...
more ric rac!!!


See those covered buttons, too?
They are another favorite design detail of mine.


I made a couple of extra covered buttons
to send along...



So that's what I made for my swap partner...
stop by again soon to find out
what I received!



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