These are a Few of My Favorite Things!

Another Christmas is behind us (not really, because my tree is still up), and I thought I'd share a few of my most favorite (received) gifts with you! No sewing in this post, just some fundamental fun!

My Favorite Things
  • First up, from my daughter, Becky. #1 is an under sink water filtration system and this marvelous instant hot water dispenser from Insinkerator! It delivers filtered water at boiling temps for coffee and tea and cooking, and cool water for drinking! The plumber is on call to install it and I can hardly wait to enjoy tea or french pressed coffee!
  • Photo #2, from Becky and Bonnie, is this lovely group of lovely-fying products! 1. Origins Anti-Aging Foundation gives great coverage with no harmful ingredients. 2. This Christmas happily discovered Beauty Counter! Becky gave me several products from this company, whose mission is to make quality skin care with responsible ingredients. Among my favorites is the Touch Up Concealer Pen, the best concealer I've ever used! 3. Origins Three Part Harmony oil-infused serum is non-greasy and silky smooth! 4. Beauty Counter's Anytime Eye Cream absorbs quickly and leaves skin velvety smooth. While on Beauty Counter's website, be sure to check out their luxurious lipsticks! 5. Sugar Advanced Lip Treatment is the most amazing lip care product you'll ever need! I already loved the regular version, which is clear and unscented, but this rose version adds a little color in the same therapeutic product.
  • #3: Bonnie gave me this beautiful vintage ceiling tile to use as an accent piece in our new home. It's so 'me'!
  • #4: Becky gave me a lovely basket as my "Christmas Stocking"! What a great idea! It was full of goodies, and I get to use the basket all year long!
  • #5: Another vintage piece from Bonnie, this leaded glass piece is about 36" long and 15" tall. I am having it built into a barn door for our pantry! I'll be sure to post a picture of it when it's finished!
  • #6: Comenzar's Flameless Flickering Candles. These battery operated candles look so real! They include a remote with an optional timer, so I can schedule them to come on at night and turn off at bed time! I'm enjoying them at this moment.
  • #7. Again, from Becky and Beauty Counter, Lustro Sugar Scrub and Enrich Body Butter. Enough said.
  • #8: Bonnie did her homework on this gift: The Rode Microphone to make more Maxie Makes videos! I preparing for one in the sewing room, and I'm very eager to try this baby out soon!
  • #9: Becky knew how much I'd love this: Phone Soap! A UV Sanitizing Light for my cell phone! I won't tell you that I'm a germophobe. But I put my car keys in it...and anything else that fits. If it fits, it's clean.
  • #10: Bonnie made this beautiful little woven wall hanging for me! I cherish it. She taught me how to weave on a Wood Creek Loom, so I know the work (love) that goes into it.

So, these are a few of my favorite things from my favorite people! I'd love to hear about your favorite things, so leave me a comment!

Thanks for visiting! Happy Sewing and God bless! Maxie

Hexagon Rainbow Quilt

Our local Modern Quilt Guild offers a challenge each month and last month they decided it was time for an Alison Glass Ex Libris challenge. One of Alison's prints included a circular rainbow colored menagerie of florals and insects, and it was this print that was chosen by the guild to use as the challenge fabric.

Hexagon Rainbow Quilt with Alison Glass Fabric

I posted in a former blog post about how my no-baste method for making the hexagons. The fabrics used are Modern Solids from In the Beginning Fabrics for the hexies, using a precut collection of 5" strips that included all but two of the colors I needed.

Alison Glass' Ex Libris Fabric is center stage for this Hexagon Rainbow Quilt.

The hexagons are hand applique´d in the border (which is, by the way, Jen Kingwell's fabric) and placed close to the corresponding color in the Alison Glass print.

For the quilting, I chose to echo quilt in a hexagon shape, which was a little more challenging than the circular design I had originally thought of stitching. First, I traced the hexagon paper used to make the hexagons in the center of the quilt. In order to pivot at each angle correctly, I drew three straight lines that intersected in the center and ran through the angles of the hexagon. In the photo below, the lines are highlighted in white.

Finding pivot points to echo quilt a hexagon shape.

Stitch the center hexagon first, then begin to angle, or taper, your stitching line to reach your desired distance between rows. (After the first or second go-around, you won't need to taper your stitches.) When you reach a drawn line, lift your presser foot and pivot, lining up the stitch path with the side of the hexagon. You can see my blue marker line in the three photos below.  Raise your foot and pivot every time you reach a drawn line!

Guess what? My Baby Lock's guide beam helped me tremendously with this task! In the video below you can see that the red beam of light tracks directly in front of the needle, making it easy to stitch straight and evenly! I love the look of hand guided quilting, so I didn't really care for all my lines to be exactly the same distance apart. (Didn't want you judging me on that...)  The pivot lines make the overall effect pleasing, so I'm happy!

When quilting angles, drawing pivot lines is important, and works with any shape you need to echo! Try it the next time you want to quilt something a little more challenging than a circle!

EX Libris Rainbow Hexagon Quilt

I took all the pictures of this little quilt at my daughter, Becky's, house. She had so many neat vignettes that I couldn't decide which pictures to use, so I used them all!

Hexagon Rainbow Quilt

Thanks for visiting! Happy Sewing and God bless! Maxie

Padded Ribbon Key Fob

Sometimes I just need a nice little project that I can finish in.....say, 10 minutes. Sometimes I need a little gift in a hurry. Sometimes I need to take a break from that quilt I've been working on for six months and actually finish something. I think I have just the ticket.

Working with beautiful textures and textiles always lifts my spirit, and this project is a delight because it includes a little bit of luxurious ribbon from Renaissance Ribbons! And because the end result is something that everyone needs, (whether you're gifting yourself or someone else), it will long be appreciated for both its usefulness and beauty.

Padded Ribbon Key Fob

The two ribbons used above are from Bonnie Christine's designs for Renaissance Ribbon.  Because they coordinate with her Hello, Bear fabrics, you may recognize the sweet little fox and owl. I have several of these key fobs and they are so great because the ribbon is easy to find in my purse and I can wear it like a bracelet when I need to keep up with my keys.

  • Supplies:
  • 9" braid trim a bit wider than your ribbon. I used a 1" wide braid.
  • 9" ribbon
  • matching thread
  • BInding clips or pins
  • Key Fob Hardware Set
Supplies for Ribbon Key Fob

Assembly:

  •  Lay ribbon on top of the braid, centered. Hold in place with binding clips or pins.
  • The Edge Joining Foot from Baby Lock makes it so easy to sew straight along the edge of projects. See the fabric guide in the first photo, below? In the second photo you can see how the guide is placed next to the stitching edge, keeping your stitches on the straight and narrow!
Baby Lock's Edge Sewing Foot

I've made too many of these to count, but this green one gave me a new idea. I decided to try to slip a 1/2" strip of batting inside, between the ribbon and the braid. To do so, I sewed one long edge of the ribbon to the braid and lifted the unsewn edge and placed the batting inside (center photo, below). I used a glue stick to hold the batting in place. Next, I stitched the remaining long edge to the braid. The grey ribbon, (shown left in the far right photo, below) is unpadded, the green is padded. The padding adds an extra layer of special-ness to this special ribbon!

Padding the Key Fob

After stitching both sides of the ribbon, stitch across the short ends to secure. You'll need a key fob hardware set to complete your project. The optional pliers simplify things and press the clamp smoothly together (first photo, below) Simply fold the ribbon/braid in half and place the short ends inside the hardware clamp (middle photo, below). Give the clamp a good press (third photo, below). Add your split ring and you're done! At least, with your first one! Hardware,  Hello, Bear Ribbons and braid aren't listed on my website, but are available at my quilt shop, if you'd like to call! 828 524-3300. See other available ribbons by Bonnie Christine here.

Hardware and tools for making a key fob.

Thanks for visiting. Happy Sewing and God bless!  Maxie

Sewing No-Baste Hexies

Hexies are everywhere in the quilting world. While certainly not a new idea, the Modern Quilt Movement has breathed new life into this time-honored little patch.

Allison Glass and Hexies

Grandmother's Flower Garden would stand up and cheer, seeing all the innovative ways these six sided scraps are being used. So, when our local Modern Quilt Guild challenged us with this lovely Allison Glass print, I thought a rainbow of hexies would mix nicely with it!

Most quilters are familiar with the English Paper Piecing method of wrapping fabric around hexagon papers, hand basting the fabric from the back side to hold it to the paper. The hexagons are then stitched together by hand. But I wanted to individually applique´my hexagons around Allison's circular rainbow, and I wanted to skip the hand basting. So, here is my no-baste method of making hexagons:

For this method, I use a spray starch alternative. My favorite is a product called 'Flatter'. It has no fabric protectants, no starch, is plant derived and non-toxic. Spray a small amount into a dish and get a paint brush handy. Center a hexagon paper on the wrong side of your hexagon fabric (I cut it into shape by holding the paper on top of the fabric and roughly cut a hexagon shape around it, leaving a good 1/4" seam allowance around the edges of the paper. (First photo.)

Next, using the paint brush, lightly brush 'Flatter' onto the seam allowance of the fabric. Let it soak into the seam allowance of the fabric, making sure the area that will fold over the paper edge is wet. (Center photo.)

Press all six edges over the paper, working around the hexagon one side at a time. (Third photo.)

Finishing the Hexie

The first photo, above, shows all six sides crisply pressed toward the back side of the hexie. The second photo shows the hexie from the front side. Press well.

The last step is to pin in place on your background fabric. I found the 'Flatter' spray starch made the fabric crisp enough to remove the paper before stitching to the background. I just pinned in place and hand stitched the folded edge of the hexagon to the background (machine stitching with your favorite method would also be nice). Alternately, you may leave the papers inside for this step; after the hexie is stitched in place, make a slit in the background fabric (underneath the hexie) and slip the paper out.

I'll show you the finished project in my next blog post, so please visit again on Friday!

Thanks for stopping by. Happy sewing and God bless! Maxie

How to Make a Christmas Stocking...Extra Special!

As Thanksgiving approaches, the onset of Christmas Spirit commences. Let the Christmas sewing begin!

How to make a Christmas Stocking!

I made these two stockings for my grandchildren, Ollie Doe and Bear. You may recognize that the fabric for the cuff is from Bonnie Christine's fabric line for Art Gallery Fabrics, Hello, Bear. There happens to be a doe in the fabric, so by adding Ollie's name to the embroidery design I was able to personalize her stocking, too! I posted last week about Bonnie's coordinating machine embroidery designs for the new app, Acudesign, from which I chose the Bear and the Doe to make their stockings. Whether you choose to embroider a design on your stocking, or applique´, use patchwork or plain fabric, you can follow these simple directions to make a stocking extra special for your special someone!

First of all, draw a stocking shape on your pattern paper. Trace another stocking or create an original shape; stockings come in all shapes and sizes! I used a basic shape from a great little pattern by Sharon Hollifield, who teaches occasionally at my shop (if you'd like to order her pattern, just send me an email).

  • Trace the design onto your stocking front fabric. If you are planning to embellish in any way, don't cut it out yet. Embellish as desired first, within your drawn stocking line.
  • After embellishing, cut out your stocking front and another plain stocking for the back. Make sure they match when placed right sides together.
  • Cut two lining pieces the same size.
  • For the cuff, cut two pieces the width of your stocking top by 8". My stocking piece measured 9" across the top edge, so I cut two cuff rectangles, each 9" wide and 8" deep. If your fabric is directional, as mine, keep in mind that the top half of the cuff rectangle will be folded down to the front outside (the center line of the cuff will become the lower edge of the cuff). I was able to plan a bit of the deer and the bear to be placed in just the right spot. Get creative with your cuff...use faux fur, leather, corduroy, satin, an old sweater, etc.
  • With right sides together, stitch the front cuff to the front stocking. The photo below shows the cuff sections stitched to the stocking front and back, and the lining pieces are laid in place. This photo also shows why a separate cuff is needed for directional prints! Had they been cut from one piece of fabric, either the cuff or the lining would have been upside down.
Stitching the cuff pieces together.
  • Next, place the lining pieces and the cuff right sides together and stitch, as shown below:
Attaching the lining in a Christmas Stocking.

Hint: Press the cuff seams toward the cuff on the front piece and away from the cuff on the back piece. This will allow your seams to nestle in opposite directions and reduce bulk.

  • Place the two pieces right sides together (nestle and pin those cuff seams) and stitch around the outer edges, leaving a 3" opening (for turning right side out) at the bottom of the lining 'foot'. To reduce bulk and allow smoother seams in the curves, clip almost to the stitching line in the inner and outer curves. Trimming the seam with pinking shears, as I did, will accomplish the same thing.
Stitch the stocking around the outer edges.
  • Turn right side out and press well. I cannot stress how easily this little turning tool makes the job a cinch. After turning, simply run the curved edge along the seam inside the stocking (through the opening at the lining bottom).
The Best Pressing Tool

After pressing well, sew the opening closed by machine. It will never show, no need to waste precious time hand sewing! Stuff the lining down inside the stocking. The cuff will extend above the stocking, simply fold it down over the outside of the top and press well. Attach a ribbon at the back seam for hanging. Give it to someone extra special!

Hello, Bear Christmas Stocking

Thanks for stopping by. Happy sewing and God bless! Maxie

Hello, Hello, Bear Embroidery Designs!

Did I need anything to make me love the Hello, Bear fabric line any more than I do? Aparently, there was more to love in the form of embroidery! AcuDesign, which is an app for your phone or tablet has contracted with Bonnie to offer designs from four of her fabric lines for Art Gallery Fabrics, including Succulence, Sweet as Honey, Cultivate and Hello, Bear! The app is easy to use and download designs in your needed format. My Baby Lock .pes and .dst formats were available, so I was all in!

Hello, Bear Embroidery Design

This was my test run of the design and I think it turned out beautifully, so I'm on to some real projects with it now...with Christmas in mind! Look how it's perfectly true to the original design.

Hello, Bear Fabric by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics

My Baby Lock Destiny did a flawless job, as usual!

Baby Lock Destiny Embroidery Machine and Hello, Bear by Bonnie Christine

Maybe I'll be back here with my Christmas projects, soon!

Hello, Bear and my Baby Lock Destiny Sewing/Embroidery Machine

Thanks for visiting! Happy Sewing and God bless, Maxie

Bonnie Christine's Quilt Market Booth with Art Gallery Fabrics

With another quilt market behind us, I thought I might share some photos of my daughter's booth at Art Gallery Fabrics. We (Bonnie, Sarah and I) were busy bee workers in the weeks prior to market, finishing projects in record time! Bonnie's new line will release in February, and will be the perfect lift for a wintry sewing day!

Forest Floor at International Quilt Market. Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics.

These soft colors of grey, teal, peaches, deep rose and creams are feminine and calm. Forest friends include a hare and a luna moth among all the botanicals you'll find in a forest. A pattern for the quilt, shown above (more pics here), will be available when the fabric releases and at that time you'll find links to all the projects in the coming Forest Floor Look Book that will be published online by Art Gallery Fabrics. A shout out to Sarah for sewing up the rabbit ear jacket and the knit peach top, and the 241 Tote from Noodlehead.

Here are a few close-ups with a little more detail:

Forest Floor Fabrics by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics

Bonnie made her logo using her Silhouette Cutting Machine. I can't say enough about how great these little machines are. In my book, quality and ease of use are two essential must-haves for anything technical, and Silhouette fits the bill on both fronts.

Forest Floor Fabrics by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics

All the skus shown above will be available in 100% Pima Cotton, with a couple in canvas and voile.

The biggest Luna Moth ever! Forest Floor by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics

Bonnie made this huge moth, which will probably land on the wall in little Ollie's nursey soon!

Clothing sewn by Sarah of mycrowdednest.com

Stellar seamstress Sarah skillfully sewed a sweet shirt, smock and shoulder-bag).

241 Tote by Noodlehead in Forest Floor by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics
Forest Floor Quilt

Thank you for visiting! Happy sewing and God bless. Maxie

International Quilt Market Time!

It rolls around every October...International Quilt Market! I usually go with my daughter, Bonnie Christine, to both fall and spring markets, but I'm sitting this one out because Bonnie has a new baby girl! That aside, we (Bonnie, Sarah and I) still made lots of projects with her new fabric line, Forest Floor, for her booth with Art Gallery Fabrics. It will begin shipping in January, and I think it just might be my favorite line yet! I thought I'd share the quilt I made with you today. I've named it Forest Floor Path, and I'll release the pattern to coincide with the fabric launch, which I'll post here at that time, in case you're inclined to make your own!

At about 50" x 65", it's perfect for the sofa or chair!

The piecing was easy as pie, and the design left lots of negative space for quilting. It stitched together quickly and it was on the longarm after just a couple of days at my sewing machine! Now the big question of how to quilt loomed overhead. In usual mode, I made several printouts of the quilt and went to town drawing various free-motion quilting designs on them.  This gave me a good start, but I always change things when I'm actually at my HandiQuilter.

Quilting Forest Floor Path on my Handi Quilter Avante´.

The blocks were fairly easy to quilt with a geometric design in the plain corner patches and a grid in the cross. I discovered that the 4" HandiQuilter circle ruler fit in the center of the block, and the largest one fit around the outside of the 9" square. So the design just naturally grew from the way my rulers worked with the blocks. Sometimes quilting just happens, one design at a time!

While the circle didn't fit over the block, the 2" line fit perfectly on each side of the block. I quilted all four sides independently with the ruler and filled the arcs with circles and ribbons. Recently, HandiQuilter offered a new channel lock for their line-up of non-computerized machines. I can't tell you how much I love this option! It makes stitching straight horizontal or vertical lines and grids a breeze!

If you haven't tried quilting in negative space, I hope this encourages you to give it a try. Let it happen one design at a time and see what happens! Thanks for visiting! Happy sewing and God bless! Maxie

It Seems I'm Partial to Partial Seams

There are some types of quilt blocks that some of us avoid because we believe they are harder than usual, right? I've written about 'Y' seams with tumbling blocks and hexagons and I hope you've given those a try. Today I want to take the mystery out of another technique: the 'Partial Seam'. I'll break it down into each individual step and I know you'll see that it's really a piece of cake!

Here are the patches, laid out as they will be sewn together. As you can see, the seam lines don't line up straight across the block as they would in, say, a nine patch block. What to do?

How to sew a partial seam.
Steps in sewing a partial seam.

In the first photo, I've flipped the white square up on the strip unit, right sides together. Taking that unit to the sewing machine, I've sewn about half way down the side of the white square (middle photo). Open it out and place it back in position.

Final steps in a partial seam.

The next unit to sew in place is the unit on the right side of the white square (shown above in the first photo). The third unit to sew in place will be the bottom unit (middle photo). The last unit to sew in place will be the left unit. Fold the unsewn portion of the top unit out of the way so that the last unit can lie flat against the white square's edge.

Now, there is only one last step!

The last seam in a partial seam block.

Fold the block so that the edges of the unsewn sections are right sides together. Stitch the remaining portion of the seam, overlapping the beginning stitches (on the white block in the first photo) just a tad. Press your seams and you're done! Now all your friends will say, "How'd she do that?"

Thanks for visiting! Happy sewing and God bless! Maxie

Succulence Fabrics Look Book!

I've been anticipating the release of Art Gallery Fabric's Look Book for Bonnie Christine's newest fabric line, Succulence! My wait is over! The free online book is ready for your viewing pleasure! Inside you'll find lots of inspiration for beautiful quilting projects, bags, clothing and home decor. I love the colors Bonnie chose...rich burgundy, emerald green and warm golds. Take a peek and don't stop until you reach the end, where you'll see the tumbling block quilt Bonnie and I designed as a free download for Art Gallery. Click on any of the photos below to view the book, which has live links that will take you to the sources for most of the projects. And if you live in my neck of the woods, stop by my quilt shop for a trunk show with many of the actual projects from the book!

Click the picture to view the Look Book

Click the picture to view the Look Book

As you probably know, Bonnie Christine is my daughter! You might enjoy her blog, going home to roost, filled with lifestyle inspiration, tutorials, free fun stuff and more. You can also read a little about her in the Look Book. (Yes, she's as sweet as she seems!)

Click the picture to view the Look Book

Click the picture to view the Look Book

Here's a little peek at that tumbling block quilt, Terrarium, that Bonnie and I designed for her fabrics. In the Look Book, you'll find a link to the free pattern. You can find the fabrics here, with free shipping!

Click the picture to view the Look Book

Click the picture to view the Look Book

I hope you enjoy the book and are inspired to create something beautiful today! Thanks for visiting! Happy sewing and God bless. Maxie

Quilt Inspiration

We can find inspiration for quilts in the most unexpected places. Like the entrance foyer to Mimi's Cafe Restaurant. I snapped this picture as we stood waiting for our table, and pondered the possibilities throughout our dinner.

Tile Floor as Quilt Inspiration

It's in the very preliminary stages...but I took the image to my Electric Quilt software and in just a few minutes I had this drawing. It needs a bit of work, granted, but I thought I'd share how our inspiration comes when we least expect it. Maybe it's just a beautiful color palate from a photo that you love, or an architectural structure that has great geometric lines.

Mimi's Quilt

Because Electric Quilt offers Bonnie's fabrics as a download, I was able to choose them for this color variation. (You can also import your own fabrics from the web or by scanning fabrics from your own stash!) Where do you find inspiration?

Thanks for visiting. Happy sewing and God bless. Maxie

The Zippy Strippy Quilt

Need a fast, easy quilt design? This is it...make it in an evening, quilt it and bind it the next day. Honestly, it's that easy! I designed this pattern to showcase larger print fabrics that seemed just too pretty to cut into smaller pieces. Because you can utilize 14 different prints,  I've used it several times at my quilt store when I needed to show how a full line of fabric plays together. I call it Zippy Strippy, and you can see it below in Bonnie Christine's Cultivate fabric that she designed for Art Gallery Fabrics. Measuring at about 60" x 72", it's perfect for a sofa throw or youth bed. If you like it, you'll find a kit on my shopping page!

Cultivate fabrics by Bonnie Christine play together beautifully in this fast, easy quilt.

Simple, straight line quilting with 100% organic cotton batting, and co-ordinating fabric on the back kept this quilt soft, drapey and snuggly! If you've ever sewn with Art Gallery's fabrics, you already know the difference their pima cotton makes in all your projects from quilts to clothing!

Zippy Strippy Quilt in Cultivate Fabrics by Bonnie Christine.

I used 12 fabrics for the center strips and two for the two side borders. Actually, there is a 15th fabric used for the bias binding! Isn't this little stripe great? We've included it in the kit, along with all the fabric shown for the top. Backing is available separately.

Bias binding from Cultivate fabrics by Bonnie Christine.

Thanks for visiting! Happy sewing and God bless! Maxie

 

Using Double Gauze Cotton in Quilting and Sewing

You may know that I've been occupied for the past two weeks with a new granddaughter, as well as helping care for my grandson, Bear! So, I thought it appropriate to show you some of the wonderful attributes of the dreamy fabric called Double Gauze Cotton and what cuddly soft receiving blankets and quilts it makes!  

Can't you just feel the softness of this quilt? It's made entirely with double gauze cotton: front, back and binding. Kudos go to Pam Hearn, friend/employee at my quilt shop for her sweet, original design!

What is double gauze cotton? Essentially, it is two layers of billowy cotton gauze, held together by a tiny inside stitch between the two layers, usually in a 1" grid. It's easy to cut and sew into just about any project you can dream of. Do you remember my Hemstitching 101 post? You'll see how I made the blanket pictured above using a hemstitch and a wing needle. Ollie thinks it's perfect.

Ollie Doe

You don't have to finish the edges with a fancy hemstitch...a simple straight stitched works over a double folded edge works nicely, too. Just purchase 1.25 yards of 44" Double Gauze and you'll be able to make a nice size square, like the ones pictured below.

Double Gauze Receiving Blankets
Double Gauze Receiving Blanket

Ollie likes this one, too!

Thanks for visiting! Happy sewing and God bless! Maxie

 

Buttons and Buttonholes and Tears, Oh My!

Why is the last task of a project sometimes the most dreaded? For me, I think it's because I want to be finished and on to the next thing! Sewing buttons on a hand made garment is usually my last task and discovering that I could attach them with my sewing machine was an "Aha!" moment! I'll show you how easily it's done in the video below, but first, let's make the buttonhole!

When I demo the great features of the Baby Lock sewing machines at my fabric store, one of the most frequent statements I hear is, "Oh, I don't do buttonholes!". I love seeing the customer do a complete reversal during their owner's training! The supplies for a successful buttonhole are shown below:

Supplies needed for making successful buttonholes, and for sewing on the buttons by machine.

You'll need to gather a small piece of tear-away stabilizer for each buttonhole, the buttons, your buttonhole foot (the larger foot shown above), and the foot for attaching your buttons to your fabric. Tip: I prefer to use cotton threads for making buttonholes because they always stitch nicer than polyester.

Steps to beautiful buttonholes.

Photo A: I love the buttonhole foot (the larger foot on the right) for my Baby Lock machine because you simply drop the button in the back of the foot, slide the back tab until it rests against the button and you're ready to stitch a buttonhole perfectly sized for your button! I am choosing a simple rectangular shaped buttonhole for my button, but there are other styles in the menu that are suited to shank buttons, knit fabrics and more! The smaller foot on the left is used for attaching the button to the fabric. It snugly holds the button in place during stitching. See my video below!

Photo B: The buttonhole foot is attached to the machine. On my machine, I pull down the buttonhole lever, which rests against a tab on the foot.

Photo C: Placement is extra easy when I use the camera feature on my Destiny machine. I get a 'Needle-eye' view of placement! Don't forget to slip a little piece of stabilizer underneath the fabric. Tip: When sewing buttonholes on thicker fabrics (wool, fleece, etc.) I also place a wash-away stabilizer on the top side.

Photo D: After the buttonholes are made, I remove the stabilizer from the back side and I use my Buttonhole cutter to safely & neatly open them. Tip: Run a bead of Fray Check through the center of the buttonhole before cutting and there will never be any unraveled threads!

And last of all...blissfully (and quickly) sew the buttons in place!

Thanks for visiting today! Happy Sewing and God bless. Maxie

Meet Sweet Ollie!

Taking a day off from the regular posting routine here, and let me introduce you to the reason why! You may know that my daughter, Bonnie Christine, has been expecting a baby girl. She was born yesterday morning in Asheville, NC, weighing 8 pounds 4 oz. Her name is Ollie Doe, and she's as sweet as can be. Let the girl sewing begin!

Ollie and Me

Thanks for visiting! Happy Sewing and God bless!
 Maxie

Sewing a Beautiful Dart with Only One Thread

I am an avid quilter these days, but garment sewing was my first love and I still love it. I hadn't sewn clothing for myself in quite a while, but for some reason I found myself wanting to make a blouse. I found a Butterick pattern (6085) that looked fast to sew with options for a straight fit or a curved fit. I opted for the curved fit, which meant sewing darts! I plan to share more construction tips in future posts, but for today, I want to share how I sew darts that are smooth and flat with only one thread in my machine!

Butterick 6085

There are definitely two practically identical blouses in the picture above. I loved mine so much (background) that I made one for my mother, too! So, let me show you how I made the darts. Believe it or not, this dart is sewn using only the bobbin thread! The purpose of sewing a dart in this manner is so that there will be no need to tie the threads or place a messy backstitch at the tip of the dart. Sometimes those tied threads can become untied and the tip of the dart will begin to open...impossible to happen when the dart is sewn using the following steps!

  1. Remove the spool of needle thread from the top of the machine.
  2. Pull up about 25" of bobbin thread from the bobbin. No need to remove the bobbin. (Below photo, left. The arrow is pointing to my blue bobbin thread. Click on the image to enlarge it.)
  3. Bring the thread up through the presser foot and thread the needle from back to front. That's right.
  4. Holding the slack in your right hand, thread the top of the machine beginning just past the spool holder. Make sure your presser foot is raised so the thread can pass into the tension discs as normal. Pull all the slack out of the thread from the top and let the thread tail hang freely. (Below photo, right.) Click on the image below to enlarge it.

Now we are ready to sew our dart! The fabric is folded and marked (below),  and I've placed a couple of pins in the fabric to hold it in place at the machine.

Marking the dart.

The photos above show the fabric placed under the presser foot at the narrow tip of the dart. The fold is resting against the blue thread (shown better at right, near the stiletto tip). Don't allow any space between the fold of the fabric and the thread. Lower the presser foot and sew the dart. Do not backstitch here!

There! The tip of the dart is smooth and can't accidentally open at the narrow tip!

Thanks for visiting! Happy sewing and God bless! Maxie

Shirr Delight!

Today I'm sharing about shirring with a how-to and a little video! My daughter, Becky, wanted me to make a little sundress for her beach vacation, so I set her free in my fabric shop to choose her fabrics! She chose a white ruffle fabric for the skirt (it comes pre-ruffled right on the bolt!),  and an Amy Butler cotton print for the top (bodice).

How to make a shirred dress with elastic thread.

For the bodice, I simply made a tube about 12" long and 10" wider than Becky's bust measurement. Next, I hemmed the top edge by pressing under 1/4" twice and top stitching around the folded edge. Based on Becky's measurement, the finished bodice needed to be about 10" long. I serged around the lower edge so that the tube was 10 1/2" long, giving me 1/2" for a seam allowance to attach it to the skirt.

For the skirt, I purchased enough fabric to attach it to the lower bodice edge, (purchase half of the bodice width, plus extra for a side seam on each side). The selvages will become the skirt's hem, and the cut edges will become the side seams. This ruffle fabric is 60" wide, and since Becky's skirt needed to be 21" long, that meant removing a piece of the center fold about 18" wide (and saving it for another project!). Sew up the side seams and attach the skirt to the bodice with 1/2" seam allowance.

Shirring is simple. Just hand-wind elastic thread onto a bobbin, being careful not to stretch it as you wind. Place the bobbin in your bobbin case as with normal thread, including passing it into the tension slots. Lengthen your stitch length to about 4.0 and you're ready to go! Back-stitch at the beginning and ending of your seam to ensure that the elastic stays in place. Working with a tube is very easily done by using the free arm feature on your sewing machine and sewing the elastic rows in a spiral, about 1/2" apart. When the first round is almost completed, just taper your stitching line so that it stitches 1/2" below the beginning point. Continue sewing around the tube in a constant spiral, ending when you reach the seam that joins the skirt to the bodice. Keeping an index finger pressed against the back of the presser foot while stitching will yield more gathers in the fabric. After the stitching is complete, steam the shirring with a steam iron for a few seconds to add additional gathers to the elastic! The video, above, shows how that shirring process looks.

Shirred Dress Pattern

If you'd like an introduction to shirring, there is a pattern available by Courtney Gamble. Shirring can be used in a variety of applications, including pillows, garments and home decor. Where will your imagination take you?

Thanks for visiting! Happy Sewing and God bless! Maxie

(No-Sew!) Italian Crepe Paper Peonies

Bonnie, my daughter is expecting her second child in about 9 days. This one is a girl, and when her sister, Becky, gathered a few friends and family together for little 'girl' shower, Bonnie asked if we could all make Crepe Paper Flowers for the nursery. Every now and then we like a little 'no sew' project, so I set out to see what I might do. Bonnie had discovered Italian Crepe Paper and a great diy tutorial and video for paper Peonies by blogger, Lia Griffith. Lia is a designer, maker and handcrafted lifestyle expert who began blogging to share her unique paper flower designs. You'll enjoy her videos with her easy, professional teaching style. Here are the peonies we made at the shower for Bonnie!

Paper Peonies...Lia Griffith's Tutorials

The Italian Crepe paper is unlike any other crepe paper I've ever seen. The deep folds in the paper allow it to be formed and stretched into just about any shape very easily.

White Italian Crepe Paper Flower

Aren't they lovely? Supplies are simple:

They are so easy to make with Lia's video! She has lots of tutorials and videos for other flowers on her website. I'm off to try the rose and the gardenia...

Thanks for visiting! Happy Sewing (and Paper Crafting)! God bless, Maxie

Sewing with Knit and the Shell Tuck Edge Stitch

It's about time I turned out some baby clothes, don't you think? Grandaughter #1 is due in about 2 weeks! Thankfully, my Baby Lock Serger and Sewing Machines help me make haste, while making me look good at the same time! So today, I'm sharing a wonderfully fun technique that gives special detail when special is called for! I'll be using Bonnie Christine's knit fabric for Art Galley Fabrics, and the Celebrating Baby Newborn Gown patten that you can download free from Rachel at  Stitched-Together.com. Bonnie also has knits for her Hello, Bear line and her Winged line; if you love Art Gallery's pima cotton prints, you're sure to love their luxurious knits!

Stitched-Together Baby Gown

Notice the sweet edging stitched along the hems of the sleeves and down the front of the 'pleat' on the front of the gown. It's called the Shell Tuck Edge, and it's done completely by machine! If you have a machine with assorted stitches, it's very likely there. Read on and see!

Shell Stitched Edge

The first thing you need to do is to hop over and download the pattern from Stitched-Together.com. The front accent is not part of the pattern, but easily made by moving the pattern off the fold 3/4", as shown below. By the way, do you use pattern weights? I love to use these that were gifted to me from Sarah Overton; you can make your own from the instructions over at Tea Rose Home.

gown front from Stitched-Together.com

Cut out your gown front, and while the pattern is still in place on the fabric, draw a line right next to the pattern piece (3/4" off the fold) with an iron-off marker. With the fabric still folded wrong sides together, put a few pins in the fold and stitch on this line. This will create a little tube on the front center. Press it flat, centering the tube over the seam, as shown in the photos below.

gown front

Fold the gown front wrong sides together, so that one side of the folded edge is extended. We will create the Shell Tuck Edge on both folded edges, working with one side at a time.

folded gown front

The next step is to set up the stitch on the machine. The picture below shows my Baby Lock Destiny's screen. The Shell Tuck Edge is stitch "Q-13" (highlighted in blue, below). It looks somewhat like a blanket stitch with three straight stitches between the right-swing jumps. Notice the width and length settings that I've adjusted to suit my knit fabric. Play around with your settings on scraps of your actual fabric and make adjustments to your liking. One more thing to note on the screen below: The Destiny has a built in camera that will allow you to view your actual fabric under the presser foot with a superimposed image of the chosen stitch, in actual size. This allows me to adjust my fabric precisely, and to see how the stitch will fall in place. Thank you, Baby Lock! You can see in the camera image that I am allowing the right-swing jump to fall off the folded edge of the fabric, with the stitch landing in the air. This is exactly what I want to happen because the thread will grab the fold and pull it over, creating a little scalloped edge! Note: this stitch is beautiful on woven cotton fabrics, too, especially when the fold is on the bias grain.

Using the Shell Tuck Edge Stitch on Baby Lock Destiny.
Shell Tuck Edge Stitch on Baby Lock Destiny

Beautiful, right? Imagine this stitch on other things. For example, how about on the folded edge of a 1.5" bias woven cotton strip for a beautiful piping insertion that would be wonderful slipped under a quilt binding edge!

Celebrate Baby Gown front

With the first side of the front accent completed, fold the gown wrong sides together once again to expose the opposite side of the folded center tube. Repeat the Shell Tuck Edge for this side.

Continue to sew the little gown as directed in the pattern. I made a couple of changes to my version. First, instead of binding the neck edge, I folded the strips in half lengthwise and serged them to the neck edge with my Enlighten serger. (This serger threads itself, by the way!) This method is much faster and gives a nice smooth finish in one step.

Baby Gown Neck Edge

The second change was to use the Shell Tuck Edge stitch on the lower hem, shown below, and sleeve edges as a finish.

Baby Gown Hem

I hope you'll give the Shell Tuck Edge stitch a try! I'm sure you'll find lots of places to apply it's delicate touch!

Thanks for visiting! Happy Sewing and God bless! Maxie

My Stop on the Cultivate Blog Hop Tour

I am always excited to participate in a blog hop tour...especially when the tour centers around fabrics by Bonnie Christine, who happens to be my very favorite fabric designer! In fact, Bonnie and I are both posting today and linking to each other, sharing how great Art Gallery's knits pair up the big girls and the tiny girls!

Cultivate Blog Hop Tour

This hop features Bonnie's newest line for Art Gallery Fabrics, Cultivate. I love this line because it is filled with warm, rich colors and beautiful florals. In fact, my sewing room is brimming with Pruning Roses Water from the line, with the roses even painted on my walls. (Want to read more about how Bonnie and I did that?)

Maxie Makes' Sewing Room

For today's blog hop, however, I'm sewing with Bonnie's knit fabrics from Cultivate! These soft knits are so easy to work with, whether you use a serger or your conventional sewing machine. However, I do love my Baby Lock serger, because it makes garment construction a breeze, from start to finish! Sergers also allow the seams in knit fabrics to stretch, which is important for the likes of pull-over tees and tanks!

Cultivate Fabrics by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics

Many of you know that I am Bonnie Christine's mom, and I have another daughter, too! Her name is Becky, and she's my model for today's post! I've made two shirts, both designs from Grainline Studio. The brown stripe shirt is made from Row by Row Deep in knit, trimmed with a lower band of Plotted Farm Moss. The pattern, Scout Tee, is downloadable from Grainline Studios. I added the moss green band by slicing away the bottom 5" from the pattern piece and using it as a separate pattern piece, cutting it from the green. I added a seam allowance to both pieces, on the edges that join, so that the length remained the same. If you want the same look, I suggest purchasing 1/4 yard green in addition to the pattern requirements for the top. I also suggest you prewash your fabrics, because knits will shrink a little!

Front view, Cultivate fabrics by Bonnie Christine

I made a narrow, bias band for the neck edge. After attaching it with my serger, I finished it nicely with my Cover Stitch Machine so that it stays nicely in place (below). By the way, a cover stitch is the double row of stitches you may see on the hems of your stretch knit pull-over shirts. I always stitch the sleeve and lower hems in this way.

Bias neck trim.

For the second top, I chose Tiny Pocket Tee, (again, Grainline Studio) for Pruning Roses Citrus. This easy-to-make sleeveless top features bias trim around both the neck and arm openings, also using the cover stitch machine for the final stitching. If you don't have a cover stitch capability, you can achieve the same look with a twin needle and a simple straight stitch on your conventional sewing machine, just be aware that it won't have the same stretch ability.

Pruning Roses Citrus by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics
Bias knit trim for neck and arm openings
Back view, Pruning Roses Citrus by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics

If you've never worked with knits, I suggest you give this easy, forgiving fabric a try! Is the Cultivate Blog Hop Tour inspiring you? Purchase fabrics (cottons, knits or voiles) all during the hop for 20% off and free shipping at A Stitch in Time! Offer ends at midnight, September 2. Use the code: CULTIVATEBLOGHOP

Thanks for visiting my stop on the Cultivate Blog Hop Tour! Don't forget to visit Bonnie at Going Home to Roost today for another inspirational project! Yesterday, sweet Caroline Hulse of Sew Caroline posted a project that I'm anxious to begin, and tomorrow Caitlin Topham of Salty Oat is up! See the complete list of participating blogs on Bonnie's website. Happy Sewing and God bless! Maxie