Friday, October 14, 2016

Support Your LQS - Local Quilt Shop

Support your local quilt shop!  

Some folks think that local quilting stores are "just for quilters" or are "too expensive" when in fact their fabrics can be used for LOTS of projects and they often have sales to help make their high quality fabrics more affordable!  

My local quilt shop is Quilt Patch Fabrics here in Stallings, NC. This weekend is Barefoot Weekend at the shop where members get 20% off fabrics and supplies. I became a member years ago by paying a small fee and enjoy this once a month sale more than I care to admit.  

Check out their Facebook page and join their newsletter to find out more about their fabrics and classes! Support your local small businesses!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ironing Board Cover Tutorial

So apparently, I go through a lot of ironing board covers.  I buy them at Marshalls to keep costs down but I was wanting a cover that I could just throw into the wash to clean the spray starch and water mineral goop off from it.  You can't really do that with the pads you get from the store as the batting on the other side gets a little funny when you throw it into the washing machine (ask me how I know).

Here is my ironing board before its makeover:

Yeah, I know, that is NOT pretty and I felt bad for husband who likes to iron his very WHITE dress shirts on my hot mess of an ironing board.

Here is my ironing board now:

Isn't it pretty? SOO much better!  If you would like to make your own cover that you can take off and throw into the washing machine, come with me through this tutorial which is perfect for folks with a little sewing experience!

    Materials and Tools Needed:  
  • 2 yards of a cotton woven fabric (I used a quilter's cotton print)
  • 2 yards of 1/4" elastic
  • 2 packages of single fold bias tape
  • small ruler
  • chalk or something to mark your fabric with
  • basic sewing supplies like a sewing machine, scissors, safety pin or bodkin

This is the fabric that I will be using.  A white print on a black background.  I am hoping to hide some of the ironing board goop in the black.

I will be using a small 6" ruler and white chalk.

The first thing you want to do is lay out your fabric with the wrong side facing up.  I used a large folding table to lay it all out on but you could use a dining room table or a hard floor.  Next lay your ironing board on top of the fabric.

You have probably noticed by now that I left a cover on the ironing board.  This cover has a thin pad on it and I still wanted padding on my board so I am going to keep it on under my new cover.

Next, use your ruler and measure about how much fabric you will need from the top of the ironing board and then for it to wrap underneath.

I used my existing pad/cover as a guide and I decided to go with 2.5" all around the board.  I did make that measurement more (3.5") at the point of the ironing board since my pad/cover has more coverage up there and I am sure there is a good reason for that.

Go around the ironing board and draw a line 2.5" on the fabric from the board.  

Make sure to make that measurement a little larger when you get to the point.

Here is the whole board with the chalk outline around it.

Next, go ahead and cut right on that line with your scissors.

If it isn't perfect don't worry about it!  This is a very forgiving project!

Next take your single fold bias tape and open up the package.  This project will take about one and a half packages of the tape.  I am using this red striped bias tape as it is easy to see to sew on but you won't see it in the end.  The reason why we use bias tape in this project is because it works very well on projects with curves and this project definitely has those.

Two side edges are folded in on one side of the tape.  Go ahead and unfold one of the edges.  We are going to sew this edge to the RIGHT or pretty side of the fabric.  I know that seems odd, but trust me that it will all work out in the end.

I would start sewing just past the top of the tape leaving a little loose (you will see why in a minute). You want to sew right in that crease of the bias tape closest to the edge of your fabric.  The edge of your fabric and bias tape should be aligned.  

Go ahead and sew the bias tape all the way around your fabric.  At some point, you will need to stop and join the two packs of bias tape together.  I just sew the two ends together and then keep going.  Sorry that I forgot to take a picture of that.  If you have trouble with this step, let me know and I can walk you through it.  Once you get back to the beginning, sew the two ends together there as well (this is why I had you leave some of the bias tape loose at the beginning.

Now take your fabric over to the iron (another reason why I left one of the old pad/covers on) and fold the bias tape to the wrong side of the fabric. You are folding and ironing it under.

You won't see it from the pretty side of the fabric once it is all ironed under as seen here.

You will now sew down the other edge of the bias tape.  Try to stay as close as you can to that edge so that the elastic has as much room as possible down the center of the bias tape (it is going to be like a little tunnel for the elastic).  

When you come to the area where you started sewing, leave about an inch or so, open.  This will be where we insert the elastic.

Using a small safety pin or a bodkin, we will now thread the elastic through the casing made by the bias tape.  If you are not familiar with what a bodkin is, here is a picture of mine:

 It looks like a pair of tweezers but you put one end of the elastic in between the pinchers and then slide the tightener up until tight so that it has a firm grip on the elastic.  HERE is a tutorial that I did just on the bodkin in case you want to know more.  I love using mine more so than a safety which tends to open up inside of casing on me.  You can find bodkins at most stores that carry sewing notions or you purchase one HERE.

I used a 2 yard length of elastic initially to get it all the way through the casing and then I put it on my ironing board and tightened the elastic by pulling each end until I was comfortable with how it fit.  I ended up using about 1.5 yards of elastic on mine.  When you get the elastic to where it fits snugly on the ironing board, take the two ends of the elastic (and the fabric) to the sewing machine and sew across the ends together several times to secure them on place.  Then you can cut off the excess elastic.

Tuck the elastic inside of the casing and sew up the little hole and you are done! Put it on your ironing board and enjoy how nice (and clean) it looks!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Fabric/Quilt Shop in Blowing Rock, NC

I mentioned in my last post that my husband and I were able to go to the mountains last week for a quick getaway while our girls were away at camp.  One of the towns that we stopped in was Blowing Rock, NC which is one of our favorites.

Now normally when we go there, we have our two girls and our springer spaniel in tow so we are a bit limited in terms of what shops we can spend time in.  This time it was just us so we were free to roam!

I was able to finally visit The Mountain Thread Company which is an adorable little shop filled with baskets, quilts, and fabrics.  It is right near the park and main street, where the fun shopping is Blowing Rock, in the yellow building.  I just love going into these independent little shops and seeing the choices of fabrics that they have.

Here are some of the fat quarters that I picked up there:

I LOVE that bicycle fabric.  Isn't it adorable?

These fabrics will be ADORABLE in something made for the kitchen.  Love that picnic basket print!

So if you find yourself in Blowing Rock, I would encourage you to stop at this shop.  The owner is very friendly and helpful as well.  She also has a shop on Etsy where she sells her baskets, fabrics and other supplies online.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Drawstring Backpack

Last week, our 13 year old twin girls went to camp, with other teens from our church, in the mountains of North Carolina.  They had a GREAT time and did I mention that they were gone the WHOLE week!  Yep.  So my husband and I were able to get away and go kayaking on a lake and shop in some of our favorite little mountain towns.

Here are some pictures from our day kayaking at Julian Price Lake near Blowing Rock, NC.

I needed a new drawstring backpack to take on our travels mainly because I don't even have one to call all my own!  We have some laying around the house that we got for free over the years but I wanted needed a pretty one.

I bought this peacock fabric a while ago from Joann Fabrics with a gift card that my favorite father in-law gave me for Christmas and decided that this was the right time to use it.

This bag is lined and was really easy to make.  It would make a GREAT project to make with your older child/teen this summer or make some and add them to your Operation Christmas Child Boxes later this year.

Here is the link to the PATTERN on Craftsy that I used.  If are not a member of Craftsy, it is a great website with lots of free patterns for all types of projects! If you decide to make one, I would love to see pictures!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Beginner Sewing Series: Thread

A common question from a new sewist is "what type of thread should I buy?".  It can be very overwhelming to go to the sewing store and look at all of the racks of threads.  If you ask an employee of the store for help, you may get different answers from different folks.  Here are some simple guidelines to remember when choosing thread for your sewing project.

What TYPE of thread should I buy?

For most projects, all purpose thread is the type of thread that you want to use.  This type of thread is normally 100% polyester so it is very strong (polyester is stronger than cotton).  I use this type of thread on clothing, bags, purses, bibs, pillows, etc.  Probably 85% of the thread that I own is 100% polyester, all purpose thread.

When you go to the store, there will be ALL types of thread.  All purpose thread, upholstery thread, hand quilting thread, machine quilting thread, denim thread, machine embroidery thread, etc., just to name a few.  An employee may even tell you to buy upholstery thread if you are making bags so that they hold up better.  I am here to tell you that most beginners do not start with heavy fabrics, like vinyls and leathers, in their projects so an all purpose thread will be just fine.

If you are making a quilt, it is recommended to use 100% cotton thread however.  There are some different theories on why that is and I will go into those more when we talk about quilting. If you only have polyester thread on hand though and want to start on a little quilting project, then by all means, sew!!  I have been known to break the rules too.

What BRAND of thread should I buy?

This question will definitely solicit lots of answers from different people.  For beginner sewists, many don't want to invest a lot of money into thread initially.  Here is a rundown of the most common thread brands and where to find them:

Coats and Clark Thread: This is the most inexpensive but decent thread on my list. Their all purpose thread is Dual Duty XP.   You can find it at Walmart, Joann Fabrics and even some Michaels carry it.  Hobby Lobby just stopped carrying it as they have their own thread brand now.  It isn't as strong as some of the other brands on the list but I have used it for years especially since it comes in almost every color under the sun.  What creates the strength in the thread is the material used in making it (polyester) and how it is braided together.  I would dare say that Coats and Clark thread isn't braided quite as tight as some of the others but it still does a good job.  Here is an example of a spool that you would look for at the store:

Mettler Metrosene Thread: Mettler is the brand and Metrosene is the name for their all purpose thread.  I buy my Mettler thread at Joann Fabrics but you can also find it online.  This is a very good thread and just a little more expensive than Coats and Clark.

Gutermann Sew All Thread: This is Gutermann's 100% polyester all purpose thread and is one that I really like to use.  I also purchase it at Joann Fabrics.  I also buy Gutermann thread at  I buy the Mara 100 thread which is also 100% polyester thread.  This thread from Wawak is very economical as it is normally under $3 a spool and has over 1,000 yards of thread on each spool!  

If you have a Joann Fabrics near you, they will put their thread on sale for half off so watch for those sales and then stock up!

A couple of final thoughts about thread...

When friends and family hear that you have started sewing, they may want to give you Grandma's old sewing basket that is full of thread.  Please keep in mind that thread can dry rot.  A simple test is to wrap the thread around a couple of fingers on both hands and try to break it.  If it breaks easily, throw it away. You don't want thread that is not as strong anymore going into a special project that you are putting a lot of time into.  You want thread that will hold up.

If you do decide to use a thicker thread, like upholstery thread, you will need a much heavier needle with a bigger eye for the thread to fit through.  I'm talking a size 14 or 16 needle which may leave holes in your fabric if it is thiner.  

When choosing thread for a project, go with a slightly darker thread color as opposed to lighter.  You are seeing a very dense version of the color on the spool so it is best to go a little darker as it will actually be a little lighter when it comes off the spool.

Cheap thread: you may be tempted to dip your fingers into the bin of no-name thread that is 4 spools for a $1.  I remember that Walmart used to have a bin with cheap thread.  Hancock Fabrics used to sell a package of 20 spools of thread from a company I had never heard of for dirt cheap.  I would really caution you to stay away from it.  It just is not very strong.  I had students bring in those spools and they were constantly breaking in their machines until I gave them another spool from a company mentioned above.  Problem solved.

I hope this information helps you as you purchase thread for your projects!  If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.  I would love to help answer them!