Saturday, February 26, 2011

February Pattern Review

Photo from Heather Bailey's web store 

If you didn't know already, I plan to review one pattern a month and each will include a giveaway!

Each review will have the same 8 criteria and will follow the same structure.  Since everyone finds different parts of a pattern more or less important when it comes to deciding to use one.

Criteria 1:
Organization of Instructions

Criteria 2:
Ease of Instructions

Criteria 3:
Level of Experience Required

Criteria 4:
Amount Of Time

Criteria 5:

Criteria 6:
Final Thoughts and Personal Experience

I chose this pattern because I had it on hand and had already put together a bunch of pears and apples.  They were a LOT of fun and I thought, hey why not make all of the items in the pattern!

Criteria 1:
Organization of Instructions

I seriously LOVE the organization and layout of this pattern! 
The instructions are nicely laid out on one 22" x 17" piece of paper. 
There is a line to cut the paper in half so that the instructions are on one 11" x 17" half of paper and then the pattern pieces are on the other 11" x 17" half of the paper. 
Making it easy to reference when you are sewing and easy to store. 

Criteria 2:
Ease of Instructions

The instructions are well written and clear. 
They were very easy to read and follow.  
I had no problem getting every one of the patterns to come out just like the pictures!

Criteria 3:
Level of Experience Required

The instructions are so clear and concise that any level of sewer could pick this pattern up and succeed with it. 
Definitely a beginner to experienced pattern. 

 Criteria 4:
Amount Of Time

Each pincushion takes a different amount of time.

Apple & Pear:  Each one took me around 35 minutes total including cutting and embroidery. 

Strawberry:  A bit longer than the apples and pears, probably closer to 45 minutes to an hour.  The embroidery takes a bit longer, all those seeds and the flowers.  However this was probably my FAVORITE one!  It brought back my love of hand sewing and it was just a blast to sew.

Tomato: This was by far the fastest of the four, taking maybe 20 minutes or so. There was no embroidery and the leaves were optional. 
But it was still fun and super cute!

Criteria 5:

 I would do this pattern again, and again, and again.  I enjoyed cutting and putting together each "fruit" and have not only put a lot together already but would definitely make more!  

I have one of each fruit for myself.

My mom wanted and received a pear and an apple. 

My little man claimed a pear and an apple of his own and keeps them in his bed with his other stuffed animals.

Criteria 6:
Final Thoughts and Personal Experience

I had tons of fun putting each of these fruits together. 
I cannot wait to try another pincushion pattern of Heather's!  

Photo from Heather Bailey's Web Store

I found that because each pattern had several pieces, it was easier to trace the pattern pieces onto the fabric or felt and then cut.  This was much faster than pinning each piece and cutting them individually.  

Check out Heather Bailey's blog and other patterns on her website at

And now for the giveaway!!

This month I have a pear & apple set, Winners Choice!

To enter:

1.  Leave a comment.  Any comment.  Maybe you would like to suggest other criteria?  Or have a question about this pattern?

2.  For a second chance to win, blog about this giveaway and then come back and leave a link to your blog. 

The winner will be chosen on Thursday, March 3rd and can choose one of any of the following sets:

And the winner is..... #6

Kiwi said...
"I'm a new follower from the cafemom group :) looking forward to reading your other reviews!"

True Random Number Generator  6Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Thank you EVERYONE for your comments and entries!
Another review will be up in a week or so with another giveaway!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Faster Piecing Part 3: Chain Piecing

Tailoring Thursdays™, Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Sewers

Faster Piecing Part 3:
 Chain Piecing

When I sewed my first quilt I had no experience and no direction, other than the pattern that I bought.  I cut out each square individually... because I had no idea how to use my rotary cutter and mat. 

Next, I sewed each square and triangle set one at a time:
 'Place one under the presser foot, backstitch, sew, backstitch, remove from under foot, trim threads, repeat with each individual set.'

It took me much longer than it should have.

Then I talked to some quilting friends and discovered chain piecing! 
 I did not realize that you could actually do a few stitches on your machine without material being under the foot.  I thought this was only possible with a serger! 

Chain piecing makes quilting and sewing (especially "assembly line" like sewing) so much faster!

First, Make sure you have a full bobbin and a good amount of thread on your spool.  Especially if you have a lot to sew!

1. Get your items ready!  I tend to pile up my squares with the side that needs to be sewn on the right side. That way I can just grab one set at a time without having to think about it. 

2.  Place your first item under the presser foot and sew it as usual.  
When you get to the end of the item stop sewing, but leave everything as it is. 

 Grab your next item and while pressing down your sewing foot, guide this item right under and sew it. 

3.  Repeat step 2 until you get to the bottom of your pile, never stopping to trim or anything.   

You should have a nice long stream of your sewn items. 

4.  After you finish sewing the last item in your pile, lift your presser foot, cut the thread and remove your pile of items from behind the sewing machine. 

Cut the threads in between each item. 

Finished pile! 

The sets I sewed above opened and pressed. 

Then repeat as necessary:

I am sure a great majority of you already knew how to chain piece!  But for anyone that did not I hope this gives you a bit more time to accomplish more next time you sew! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Batty about Batting

Tailoring Thursdays™, Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Sewers


Are you ever confused by what batting to use?  

I will briefly touch on the 

EDIT: [There are three basic types of batting and combinations of each.] 
 three readily available, cost effective and commonly used types of batting.

These three are Bamboo, Cotton, and Polyester.  

Polyester Batting:
  • Anti-bacterial
  •  Anti-fungal
  • Mildew Resistant
  • Moisture Wicking
  • Hypo-Allergenic
  • Light, Fluffy
  • Non-shrinking
  • Machine washable and dryable

Bamboo Batting:
  • Naturally Anti-bacterial
  • Naturally Anti-fungal
  • Mildew Resistant
  • Anti-static
  • Moisture Wicking
  • Hypo-allergenic
  • Shrinks
  • Machine washable and dryable

Be careful to note the manufacturing processes used when choosing your bamboo batting.  Chemical processing of bamboo can take away it's natural properties and become a possible health hazard. 

Cotton Batting:
  • It's been used Forever!
  • Fabric naturally clings to it
  • Shrinks
  • Machine washable and dryable

These three are very common and each has it's own place depending on your prject.

 The best way to decide on a batting you like is to practice with all of them.  

And, like most sewing products you get what you pay for, the higher the price, the higher the quality.  

For example, there are some polyester battings which can look and feel like cotton batting. 

What is my choice? 
 I really like bamboo batting.  I like how it holds up to washings.  And I like how it feels like cotton but has all my desired properties that polyester possesses. 

Additional Info:
As discussed in the comments below there are other batting options.  I have chosen to discuss and highlight the three above because they are easily bought from almost all local sewing and quilt shops.

I tried not to be too wordy in this brief overview.  Only highlighting the qualities of these three battings.  Personally, the two important qualities for me are:
- Hypo-allergenic
 -the ability to resist mold and mildew
this is because we have a lot of allergies in our family.

I also love being able to use my washer and dryer, I do not buy clothes or other cloth decor that cannot be washed and dried.  I am too busy and do not live in a place where I can hang up clothes to dry. 

For more in depth details on batting the following sites are great places to visit:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Up-cycling Tutorial! Jelly Rolls Can Save Your Towels.

 This hand towel has seen better days.

 Much better days.

 But that is only one side.  The other side still looks good. no pulls, no patches.  Just the frayed edge.  

I have an attachment to my fiber belongings.  I'm not a pack-rat or a miss-saves-it-all.  I will throw away Christmas cards, I give away furniture, I've lived in 8 different places in the past 8 years without even blinking, but it is really, really hard for me to throw out holey socks, stained shirts, worn-out pants and even, sad looking towels. 

Since learning to sew I've been able to save some of my favorite pieces of clothing! 

And this week, I up-cycled that hand towel! 

Our 7-year wedding anniversary is coming up this year and you know, I still haven't bought towels.  We have been using the same ones we received as gifts at my bridal shower. So all in all these towels have been pretty good to us.  

Our guest bathroom doesn't have a place to hang a towel ring, but it does have an extra bit of counter space, just enough for a small towel.  

Right now I have the new towel nicely folded on the counter, but I think I may need to get one of these:

  • 1 up-cycle ready towel 
  • 3 jelly roll strips OR Three 2 1/2" x 44" strips of fabric, OR Six 2 1/2" x 22" strips of fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Optional embellishments
  • Optional 11" x 18" piece of wonder web


1.  Cut your towel down to measure 11" x 18", the average size of a fingertip towel.  
Just a note*  Fingertip towels are generally for decorative purposes, but it is considered acceptable to use them in place of hand towels in smaller bathrooms. 

2.  Take the 3 jelly roll strips, fold them in half and cut at the middle, so that you have six 2 1/2" x 22" strips. 

3.  Arrange 5 of the pieces in the order you want them to appear on the one side of the towel.  Sew together lengthwise with 1/4" seam allowance. Cut down to measure the same size as the towel (approx. 11" x 18").  Set aside. 

4.  Take the remaining strip and fold it in have lengthwise. Press.  Open.  And fold the sides in lengthwise to meet at the first fold line.  Press. 

Sew to the nicer side of the towel as a small embellishment. 

5.  Take the jelly roll pieces you sewed together in step 3 and place on top of the towel, right sides together.  

Optional** Place the wonder web on top.  I used the wonder-web here so I wouldn't have to stitch the material to the towel, since this towel is a bit thin and the stitching would really be seen on the other side. 

6.  Sew along all 4 sides using a 1/2" seam allowance and leaving a 4" turning gap on the center of one of the sides.

7.  Clip the corners and turn right side out through the gap.
Straighten, smooth out wrinkles and push out bubbles and press.  

8.  Edge-stitch along the outer edge, finishing the towel and closing the turning gap.

Initially, the towel will be slightly stiff from the wonder-web, washings will help work this out and give the cloth side a quilted look. 

Add any additional hand sewn embellishments like buttons now. 

There are so many options for up-cycling towels!  Appliqué patches or letters over any ruined spots on the towel.  Add ribbon, buttons, lace, etc.  If your towel is thicker then you could quilt the the cloth side to the towel and give it an even more special look.

So get to it!  Save your towels or just dress them up!

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