Monday, October 5, 2015

Reversible Fall Placemats

Here is a quick project that will help your table get ready for fall!

In sewing classes, I had several students choose to make these reversible placemats as their first project.  They are very easy to make and they can give an instant new look to your table that corresponds to the holiday or season you are celebrating.

You can find the link to the directions that I used with students HERE.  Typically you will need 1 yard of fabric from two coordinating fabrics in order to make 3 placements.  If you need 6 placemats, then purchase 2 yards of each fabric.  (For 4 placements, buy 1 and 1/3 yards of each fabric).  The directions also call for fusible fleece to go on the inside but you can also use cotton batting which is what I used.  You will only need one layer of batting or fusible fleece to go in the middle of your fabric layers.  

I plan on also making some for Christmas as well.  If you make some, I would love to see pictures!  You can post them over on my Facebook page or email them to me at and I will be sure to post them here!

As always, if you have any questions about to make them, please feel free to contact me!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

In The Hoop Key Chains

Lately, I have been fascinated with key chains that are made "in the hoop" with my embroidery machine out of marine vinyl.  I had no idea what marine vinyl really was or how thick it was but I decided to buy a couple of designs and order some sheets of vinyl for a reasonable price to try them out.

I decided to buy two designs from AKA Applique.  She has some really fun designs and has several of the "mom" designs.  Since I am both a volleyball mom and a dog mom, I decided to start with these two designs.

As for the vinyl, I was pretty busy at home and didn't have a lot of time to travel around looking for marine vinyl so I order from MiKri World.   They had some other supplies that I needed as well so I ordered and received my package very quickly.  They have a great selection of unique supplies!

Here are the key chains that I made...I also made one for a friend as her daughter plays volleyball with our girls.

Now, I have learned a couple of things along the way which may or not help some of you who may want to also try these.  First, the needle.  I use a size 75/11 embroidery needle.  I did try a size 14 but it was just too big.  Ladies in the AKA Appliqué Facebook suggest using a Sharp needle, instead of embroidery but I didn't have any on hand and the embroidery ones did fine.

Here is what the back of the key chains look like.  The stitching in the back is covered with another piece of vinyl.

Another thing that I learned is that occasionally, my white bobbin thread would show in the top stitches.  And that,!  When doing the final stitching around the key chain, you need to use the same color as the top anyhow so I just took it a step further and I now use the same color bobbin as my top threads so I don't have those little white threads peaking through.  Probably not what you are SUPPOSE to do but to save my sanity and make me more comfortable with the quality of the key chains, it is what I choose to do. Yes, it might be overkill but I would rather do that than be bothered by slight thread inconsistencies.

Here are some more key chains that I have made since that first batch.  I have also found marine vinyl at Hancock Fabrics in the basic colors (navy, grey, light beige) for a very reasonable price in the flat folds section.

If you have any questions about trying an In The Hoop project, feel free to email at  I will be adding many of these and other finished items to my new ETSY store so please be sure to add me as a favorite there!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Lanyard Tutorial

Over the weekend, I made lanyards for my daughters for their first day of school today.  Due to the new security measures at their school, they each have a key fob to get into the doors of the different buildings at school.  These were not hard to make and I realized with other students and teachers going back to school soon that a tutorial on how to make them would be appropriate!

Here are the ones that I made for my girls:

And here is the one that we will be making today in this tutorial.

So, let's get started!

Materials Needed:

One piece of fabric that measures 3" x 39" - I cut mine going across the grain (or going from selvage to selvage) but depending on the fabric and the colors, you may want to cut it the length of the fabric.  For my daughters rainbow chevron lanyard, I had to cut three pieces of fabric and sew them together to get 39" so that all of the colors would show.

Thread to match your fabric

Hardware - I used a keychain ring and a 1" lobster clasp.  I normally see lanyards with both of these pieces sewn in so they can both be used for keys and a name tag.  My daughters only have a key fob so I attached the keychain ring to the lobster clasp as the fob is attached to the ring. You can use whatever hardware you feel will be most useful to the wearer.

Fusible Interfacing (optional) - I used Pellon 911ff

Sewing Your Lanyard:

1. Take your long strip of fabric to the ironing board and lay it wrong side up.  Fold both of the long  sides towards the center of the strip so they just meet. Iron these long sides towards the center all the way down your strip.

Now fold this piece in half again matching the folded edges with one another.

2.  This step is OPTIONAL.  If you are using thin fabric or want your lanyard to be a little sturdier, then let's go ahead and apply fusible interfacing to the inside of this strip before we sew it together.  Open up your strip of fabric and cut strips of interfacing that will lay just over the two center folds of the lanyard.  If you interface all of it, it will be extra thick and hard to sew through so we will just interface the center.  This is a great way to use up scraps of fusible interfacing that you may have laying around and it doesn't have to be perfect...we are just trying to add some stiffness to the lanyard.  I did not interface my daughter's lanyards but did on this brown one.

Go ahead and re-fold and re-iron the strip if needed.

3.  Take your hardware pieces and add them to your strip.  I slid my keychain ring and a clasp onto my strip of fabric.

4.  Take the short ends of your fabric and unfold them.  Lay them flat and on top of each other with the right sides (pretty sides) facing each other.  Make sure your fabric strip is not twisted!  Pin these in theory the folds should match up but they may worries if they don't. 

Sew across these two short ends using 1/4" seam allowance.

Take your strip over to the iron and re-fold and iron everything back into place in the area of where you just sewed.

5.  Your strip of fabric is now sewn into a circle and it should lay flat and not twisted.  We are going to sew along each edge of the lanyard to topstitch it in place.  I used a little longer stitch length ( can even use 3mm) as it is a little thicker.  Using thread that really matches well with your fabric, sew close to one of the long sides of your lanyard.  Slide the hardware out of the way when you come to them.  You will have to work to keep the edges of your fabric together as you sew them as the bottom layer will try to pull through faster so be mindful of that.

Now do the same to the other side of your lanyard.

Here is how it looks with both sides stitched:

6.  Find the sewn short seam in your lanyard and push your hardware down near it while folding the lanyard in half.

With the right edge of your presser foot just touching your hardware, sew across your lanyard and then back and forth several times to make sure it is secure.

Here is what mine looks like after sewing the hardware in place:

And you are done!  How easy was that!  If you decide to make some, I would love to see pictures!  You can post them on the Facebook page HERE.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New Beginnings....

For some time now, I have been thinking about the changes going on in our family.  We have had a couple of pretty significant changes over the past 6 months which has changed how our family operates on a daily basis.  My husband started a new, larger position at his company and started a 2 year graduate program at Queens University and so he is now very busy during the week and weekends.  Our girls begin the 7th grade next week and their schedule is also changing with the start of JV sports and all that comes with this age (times two).

I have decided to also make some really hard decisions, for myself, in light of these changes.  I have felt, for some time now, that my heart has not been completely in sewing classes.  I have loved them and my students but I feel that a new beginning is on the horizon and that I need to take the next step of faith.

After the September sewing classes, I will no longer be teaching sewing classes out of my home.  I am going to focus on our family and my side custom sewing projects while I consider what is next for me.

While we have gone through many changes this year, we are anticipating a couple more major ones in the coming year (more on that later) that will require much of my attention.  I have also considered that into this decision as well.

I am offering 4 classes in September before I say farewell.  You can see the schedule over on the website at  I would love to see folks in class one more time but understand if it isn't a good time or if a Level 1 student would prefer to start with another teacher who they can stay on with.

I will continue to have a sewing blog and offer sewing tutorials and tips.  I will continue to sew and sell dog belly bands at a dog grooming/pet sitting business that my friend owns and operates and I have begun to sell wheelchair accessories that are custom for specific needs so you will see that shop soon here on the website and on my Facebook page.  I will also offer other items and continue to write tutorials as I am able to.  I do love to sew and that will not go away.

I hope that you will still consider following my sewing blog by adding your email to my list by using the form on the right sidebar.  I do still plan on offering sewing tutorials and tips. You can also follow me on Facebook and I would LOVE it if you would join me there.

Thank you all for supporting my sewing classes and being such a great group of folks to work with!  When I started giving lessons in 2008, I certainly did not expect to still be doing so in 2015.  It has been such a good experience for me and has helped me to grow as well.  Love you all!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sunny Day Shorts by Oliver + S

So it has been pretty warm and toasty here in North Carolina.  We were spoiled last week when we visited our family in upstate NY...temps were only in the 70's and low 80's the whole time we were there.

Between that heat factor and the fact that my twin 12 year old girls are growing like weeds right now, I decided to make some pajama shorts for my older daughter out of a lightweight woven cotton print that I had on hand.  My girls are not the nightshirt types....they want shorts or pants to wear to bed (wonder where they got that from).

I have wanted to try this free pattern from Oliver + S  to see if it would be beginner friendly for my sewing students.  I am happy to say that it is!  Their Sunny Day Shorts Pattern is a free PDF pattern that you can download and print out on your home printer!  The sizes range from 6m - 12 and it is suitable for boys and girls. Here are the shorts that I made today:

These are a kids size 12 and they fit her well so I may also make her some more out of khaki or navy that she can actually wear out of the house.  I will probably also lengthen them a little for everyday shorts as she is more of a Bermuda style girl.

I did sew my pair of shorts a little different that what the pattern suggests and I will be writing another blog post to discuss that so stay tuned.  Shorts/pants can be sewn an alternate way which I prefer to sew and I prefer to teach this other method.

So head over to their website and take a look around....they have several free patterns to download including the Sunny Day Shorts!