The Visual Story of a Sewing Kit

Rescue boats fill a flooded street at flood victims are evacuated as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Before I get started, I have to say that my attention has been preoccupied with the victims of the Houston flooding.  My son and his family moved there a week ago (I know!), and I try to keep tabs on them as much as he is able to.  I’m not the only one focused that way, with loved ones being flooded.  We’ve contributed to the Google Hurricane Harvey Response (they’ll contribute matching funds), and there are many other charities where you can donate.  Please consider helping in this way, as this is catastrophic.

And One More Thing: Get your own Emergency Supply Kit.  Have water, basic necessities, food that’s portable.  None of us can expect that rescue will be a part of our community’s offerings, in case of disaster (and you know what your own disaster can be).  We have to expect that we’ll need to help ourselves first.

Okay–here’s what helps keep me busy while I’m watching hours of footage about the Hurricane Harvey disaster: hand-sewing.  So I came up with my own little sewing kit.  Start Here, with this rough sketch of a pattern: Sewing Kit_OPQuilt Pattern

SewingKitESE_1and these dimensions:
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Cut out.  Quilt Soft & Stable lightly to backing, as you just want to hold it in place, you don’t want to distort it. NOTE: although it doesn’t show really well, I cut two of the notions pocket (thimble and thread glide); the dotted one (you can see it below) is the lining.  Remember to cut with wrong sides together, as the pattern piece is not symmetrical.

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Stitch it together along the curvy top, and the right side.  Turn inside out, topstitch along the curvy edges. and make the pleats.  Top stitch along the two sides and the bottom, holding it in place to the inner lining. I like light linings, so I can see what’s going on.SewingKitESE_3

SewingKitESERefer to above photo for the rest of these sketchy detailed directions.

Sew down one long side of the scissors pocket; turn and press.  Turn in 1/4″ on the other long side; press.  Top-stitch the scissors pocket onto the lining.  Slide your scissors into place, and figure out where the ribbon needs to go: backstitch a ribbon into place.

Match up the backing with the lining and all its decor, putting wrong sides together and pin. All the edges will be raw edges.  Find the center line (where you will fold this closed) and stitch down the center to anchor the parts together.

Insert the zipper between the two zipper pocket pieces, cutting zipper down to size after sewing thread tacks on each end to keep the zipper on its track.

If you want a needle holder, cut a piece 1-3/4″ by 4″ and stitch to the zipper pocket as shown in photo above.  Then fold the zipper-pocket-assembly in half, creating a pocket.  (You can see the aqua ribbon sneaking into the pocket in the above photo.)  Place zipper pocket on right side of lining and stitch around this narrowly–just to hold it in place.

Lay a spool of thread on all the corners and trace; cut the edges into a rounded edge.  You can omit this step, and just do the corners like a quilt binding.

Bind the edges with a double-fold binding: cut a piece approximately 20″ long and 1-1/4″ wide.  Fold raw edges into the center and press.  Open out binding; first stitch WST with binding to back.  Fold to the inside, pinning or glueing to keep in in place, then topstitch.  Make two other double-fold pieces, roughly 12″ by 1-1/4″ and zig-zag.  These are your ties.  Stitch them to either side of the outer edge (refer to photo way below).

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Add other trim: two buttons for the “String & Button” closure (yes, that is its official name).  I found some interesting thick string and sewed that through the little pocket at its tallest point and then knotted it behind the pocket.  I used Fray-Chek on all raw edges of string and ribbon and ties.  To close, you wrap it around the button (shown, above).

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I use the Superior Threads Bobbin Donut in doing my hand stitching.  I tried and tried to think of a way to get it attached, and finally resorted to sewing a ribbon to the center. SewingKitESE_10

I also tried it out on their new Super Bobs box, which is what is replacing the Donut.  They still have a few donuts for sale on their website if you hate to see it go.  Truth: I probably won’t shove the donut or the box into the sewing kit…but I might.

I realize that I assume you have some sewing knowledge when I posted this, but another Truth: it’s also for my reference if I ever want to make another one.  The very cool fabric on the outside is from Timeless Treasures Fabrics a few whiles back.  It’s called Lux, if you want to go looking.

Why did I make this?  I have lots of pouches and bags and I love them all, as most came from friends.  I also have a couple of sewing cases, too, but I found myself toting around my stuff in a zipper baggie, as nothing quite suited me.  So I know this is what works for me, but maybe you can find something in here that will work for you.

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It matters little how much equipment we use; it matters much that we be masters of all we do use. ~Sam Abell

And please keep praying for the people in Houston.

Samaritans help push a boat with evacuees to high ground during a rain storm caused by Tropical Storm Harvey along Tidwell Road in east Houston, Texas, U.S. August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTX3DRSF

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Beachside Quilting Retreat

quiltretreat2016_Shortly after meeting Mary at QuiltCon, she texted me to say we ought to get together for a weekend at the beach, and suggested a date: September.

quiltretreat2016_1 quiltretreat2016_1aThat seemed so far away, but finally the weekend arrived and Lisa (L), Leisa (R) and I drove over to Carpinteria, where her beach house is located.  We were more than happy to spend time with her as we think she is the Cat’s Meow, besides being a great quilter.

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First up: exchange little gifts with each other.  I always like what Simone de Beauvoir said: something to the effect that if the universe were run by women, they would bestow little gifts upon each other all day long.  She certainly knew about quilters!  I had a package which contained socks, a candy bar brought from Denmark with funny words on them, and a few other trinkets.  We set up our machines and began sewing.

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View from the balcony towards Arco Island.  While the official name is Rincon Island, the locals call it after the oil company.  They also never call the city by its full name of Carpinteria, but rather, call it “Carp.”quiltretreat2016_4a

After sewing all afternoon, and after dinner, it was time to go and watch the sunset.  We adopted the rhythm established by Mary and her family, and were always happy to have a break out in nature before we tackled the evening’s sewing.quiltretreat2016_4b quiltretreat2016_4c quiltretreat2016_5

Leisa, Lisa and Maryquiltretreat2016_5a quiltretreat2016_5b

Many of the rocks on this area of beach have holes in them and through them.  We joked that all our suitcases were pounds heavier with our souvenirs from Carp.quiltretreat2016_5goodbye quiltretreat2016_6

Saturday morning, Mary told us all it was National Sewing Machine Day, so I documented us all at our machines.

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Since Mary and I like to cook, I’ll give you an idea of the food we had all weekend, beginning with her shashito peppers from her garden, lightly heated with a bit of oil, then dipped in soy sauce.
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We all contributed to this stack.quiltretreat2016_11c

Mary’s Tomato and Cheese Galette, served with fresh greens.quiltretreat2016_11d

Melon wrapped in proscuitto, tomatoes layered with fresh mozzarella.  I’d forgotten my vinegar, so Mary’s BIL lent some and it was amazing (the “good stuff” he said, and he was right).quiltretreat2016_11e

For lunch one day we were out at The Spot, where the ladies were photo-bombed:

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Another day we went to Summerland Cafe, known for its breakfasts. . . so I had breakfast, while the other quilters had a lunch entree. quiltretreat2016_11g quiltretreat2016_11h

After finding two pumpkin-shaped Le Creuset pots in an antique store, Mary taught us all how to make her famous bread.  Link to the story and the recipe is *here.*  We also visited the famous Roxanne’s Quilt Shop; write-up with photos in the next post. I’m still recovering.quiltretreat2016_orchid1

We visited one of the local orchid farms, Westerlay Farms, where there were a gorgeous array of colorful orchids.quiltretreat2016_orchid1a quiltretreat2016_orchid1b quiltretreat2016_orchid1c quiltretreat2016_orchid1d

Westerly also had a planter of beautiful succulents out front.
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So did we do more than eat and have field trips?  Yep, yep.  I brought my unfinished Traveling Threads Bee quilt, as it had languished too long.  After we taped up the design wall (see below), I slapped all my blocks up there and began moving them around.  And around.  And around.quiltretreat2016_project1a

I went downstairs early the first night to be the first in her jammies, and got quilt-bombed with Lisa’s batch of 50 nine-patches.  This was Lisa laughing with me in the morning, as it took me a minute to figure out why my quilt looked so great, but then she made me give them back.  Pity. They were sunny and bright in my quilt of fall colors.  She did this set of 50, and then another set of 50 three-inch nine-patches for a guilt swap she is participating in.quiltretreat2016_project1b

After noodling on this for a very long day (asking everyone what they thought of it about every time I moved something an inch — they were very patient), I finally got it sewed together.  Now to quilt it.  I took mine down and Lisa put hers up:

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This is the photo at the end of the weekend, after she sewed and sewed and sewed. It’s a Lizzy House pattern.quiltretreat2016_project2 quiltretreat2016_project3

I completed two backs for quilts: Oh Christmas Tree, and Halloween 1904.  Sorry they are so wrinkled.
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Mary had the actual First Finish, when she held up this appliquéd chicken, quilted and bound.  She used a special technique to appliqué the pieces down.
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Leisa worked on several projects, but this is her quilt from a Road to California class using Little House on the Prarie fabrics. quiltretreat2016_project8 quiltretreat2016_project8a

Leisa also finished up her Halloween 1904 quilt (on the right).  It was part of the Quilt-A-Long here on the blog this summer.quiltretreat2016_project9

Mary finishing up her Christmas Tree skirt, using the trick of a glue stick to hold the binding in place for top-stitching. quiltretreat2016_project9b

Here it is!quiltretreat2016_project9a

She also finished up a quilt-a-long with Bonnie Hunter, with stars and strips.
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Lastly, Mary made two red Xs for the 70273project by Jeanne Hewell-Chambers, found *here,*  with Introductory Post *here.* Mary’s set is on top, mine’s on the bottom.  We had one more set by the time the weekend was finished.

quiltretreat2016_goodbye2Stuff ready to get packed into Lisa’s car.

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Good-bye until next year!

Teaching Schedule through Late Summer

I’ve signed up to teach a few classes at our local quilt shop, The Quilter’s Cocoon, and thought I’d let you know about them.  The first three are mini quilts, where you learn a new skill with each one.  There’s a discount for signing up for all three.  Then in June, I’m teaching the Wonky Baskets quilt, to use up a lot of scraps.  July’s class is Machine Appliqué, making an originally designed Lollypop Tree block (pattern included in class) in either Christmas colors or summery/spring colors.

Finally, we’ll finish off with Beginning Machine Quilting, using your domestic sewing machine.  Hope you can join me for one or all!

Rolling Rainbow Star_labeled
April 19, Tues: 10:30-2:30 Rolling Rainbow Star
This brightly colored mini quilt is where you’ll learn about the color wheel and how to piece Y-seams (easily). Class materials fee is $2.00.  I’ll be teaching a series of three mini quilts.  It’s $30 for one class or $75 for all three.  I’ll be teaching at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)
Spectrum_front
May 3, Tues: 10:30-2:30 Spectrum
This mini quilt is composed of multiple Kaffe Fasset fabrics, all done by hand with English Paper Piecing.  Class materials fee is $10 (pattern included). You’ll learn the basics of paper piecing, and some tips in working with the color wheel. I’ll be teaching a series of three mini quilts.   It’s $30 for one class or $75 for all three.  I’ll be teaching at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)
May 17, Tues: 10:30-2:30 Home, Sweet, Home
This fun neighborhood centers around a town star!  Pick up the cutting directions when you pay for the class, and come with all your pieces cut. We’ll talk about how to get the perfect points on a half-square triangles and snowball blocks. Cost: $35.  Class materials fee is $10 (pattern included).  This is the third in a series of three mini quilts.  It’s $30 for one class or $75 for all three.  I’ll be teaching at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)
Wonky Baskets
June 7, Tues: 10:30-4 p.m Wonky Baskets Quilt
A scrap-happy quilt with wonky baskets.  You’ll need one short ruler to help you cut the sides and one long ruler (to cut the bias), but other than those two things, it’s wonky happiness!  Bring a collection of scraps (more info on class handout, available when you pay) and we’ll sew sew sew all day long.  Instructions for the borders will be handed out at the end of class. Class cost: $45, at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)
Christmas Treat final
July 16, Sat: 10:30-4 p.m Christmas Treat
This Christmasy wall hanging can also be made in spring colors in Kaffe Fasset fabrics.  (See below).  In this class we’ll talk about combining fabrics, freezer-paper machine applique.  Instructions for the borders will be given out in class, in case you don’t get to them.  See class supply sheet for more information. Cost: $35.  I’ll be teaching at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)

Spring version of Christmas Treat

Thread Doodle MiniSmall
August 27, Sat: 10:30-2 p.m  Beginner’s Free-Motion Quilting
If you know your machine well, and are ready to finish off that stack of quilt tops in your closet, this is the class for you. I can not do tech-support for your machine, so make sure you are familiar with the basics of your sewing machine, have a free-motion quilting foot (see your dealer if you are not sure) and are ready to learn how to quilt with your domestic sewing machine.   Cost: $35. Class materials fee: $15.  I’ll be teaching at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)

–OR–

Sept. 8, Thursday: 10:30-2 p.m Beginner’s Free-Motion Quilting
If you know your machine well, and are ready to finish off that stack of quilt tops in your closet, this is the class for you. I can not do tech-support for your machine, so make sure you are familiar with the basics of your sewing machine, have a free-motion quilting foot (see your dealer if you are not sure) and are ready to learn how to quilt with your domestic sewing machine.   Cost: $35. Class materials fee: $15.  I’ll be teaching at Quilter’s Cocoon, in Riverside, California (951-351-0346)

Oh Christmas Tree-QAL–Step 2

3XmasTreeMar

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I’ve been haunting the IG feed #ohchristmastreeqal and love seeing all the progress of where the trees are and how things are coming along.  We’ll finish this tree up in no time flat, but I think I’d like to keep sticking to the schedule (below).

Giveaway BannerWe also have a giveaway at the end of this post, so please read all the way through, and then follow the steps to enter.

First up, this post is co-authored by Wendy of Wendy’s Quilts and More (blog) and wendyquiltsandmore (IG).  Wendy has been a great partner in this Oh Christmas Tree QAL.  Because she is about 4 months ahead of us, and I can send her different questions and she is unfailingly helpful.  I asked her if we could use a lot of her photos for this particular post about the flowers, and she was happy to allow me to post them, so get ready for a photo-heavy post.

This month is the flowers.  The basic idea is to layer up felt circles, or use a piece of medallion-style fabric appliquéd to a felt circle, then embellish it with embroidery stitches, using pearl cotton.  I originally started cutting out a lot of circles, from the prepped up freezer paper circles in my numbered baggies (see previous Oh Christmas Tree QAL post on tab above), but realized that it might be better to be more of a one-by-one process.  So let’s do one circle and you’ll see what I mean.

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I cut out a medallion print (meaning that it’s a design that is self-contained in a circle), and pinched the edge under all the way around the outside, to set the edge for turning under (a Becky Goldsmith tip for appliqué). Here are some examples of medallion fabrics, from Wendy:

OhChristmasTree2_Wendyfabrics

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And here are some of mine (above).  After writing back and forth with Wendy, I went through all my fabric stash and found even more than this.  It’s surprising how many I’d overlooked.  We do have some the same. Okay, back to the stitching.OhChristmasTree2_flowers2

Placing the circle on a larger piece of felt, I sewed down the edge, stitch by stitch, scooping the raw edge under with my needle, sometimes swishing the needle tip left and right under that edge if there was a tuck/sharp point (above).  Often it’s what’s happening underneath that bumpy edge which determines the smoothness of your appliqué, so pay attention to what your seam allowances are doing, even trimming them further to a scant 1/4″ inch if you need to. I also try to have my needle come out the “center” of that folded edge, not on the top.  That way the stitches won’t be too obvious, and then I don’t pull it too tightly.  I want my circle to float.
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As I mentioned, I am appliquéing this medallion to a larger piece of felt.  Wendy picked up this tip from Wendy Williams, the author of this pattern (and found on IG at Flying Fish Kits–also a resource for stitching ideas), and this tip is also found in Williams’ book, Wild Blooms and Colorful Creatures.
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Then just cut around the circle evenly, and you have your first completed appliquéd medallion. Wendy of Quilts and More recommends a medium-blade scissor (although I used a lightweight pair of larger shears, shown in the photo, but they are SHARP).  Her scissors are below:

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She writes “Once the fabric flowers are on, Wendy just cuts the felt circle free hand, keeping an even margin around the fabric.  She says it’s meant to look hand made, and the circle doesn’t need to be perfect.  Keep the scissors in the same position and turn the felt with the other hand, rather than cutting around corners. Use very sharp scissors with medium length blades. Not tiny embroidery scissors, not huge dress making scissors. I use the orange ones in this photo.”
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Layer it up, and save it for a good TV program (Wendy of Quilts and More has a great shot of herself stitching while she watched a cricket match) when you can stitch away.  This is circle #1, and is the largest circle of the bunch.

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Next up is my auditioning another fabric medallion against several colors of wool felt.  I added more info about where to buy wool felt to the original “Prepare” post, and yes, you can mix the felted wools and the wool felt, without any Quilt Police coming after you, if you want to purchase some.  I am using Kaye Buckley’s scissors, which have one serrated edge that grips the fabric and helps me trim them evenly. OhChristmasTree2_flowers7 OhChristmasTree2_flowers8

Being the Nervous Nelly that I am (it took me weeks to screw up the courage to start the flowers), I layered  the circle over one of the smaller appliquéd flowers to kind of get the size I needed, then cut halfway around.  I took off the freezer paper, and finished up the job.OhChristmasTree2_flowers9

So here is my first batch of prepped-up circles; some have fabric and one doesn’t.

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To make my life easy, I pulled out my Sue Spargo book and leafed through some ideas. OhChristmasTree2_threads

I’m using two weights of pearl cotton: size 12 (recommended) and size 5 (larger, more visible).
OhChristmasTree_needles

I am using wool appliqué size #22 needles, which have a nice big eye and a sharp point and aren’t too long.  Then I pulled up Wendy’s IG feed (all the photos below) and got a few more ideas, then just put my needle in the center and began. OhChristmasTree2_flowers10I happened to think about what I wanted to do and decided to stitch them all layered up like this.  However, you may, on some circles, choose to embroider one circle, then add it to the next.  I was still trying to gather my courage when I began this, so stabbed my needles into the center of the magenta circle, close to the edge and ran the orange #5 thread all the way out to the edge of the yellow-green circle, working my way around.  Then, I took a small catch stitch over each of those “rays,”  close to the outer edge of the magenta circle.

I switched to the thinner #8 thread and did straight stitches in between the others, then went back and added the yellow French knots at the top of each of those “rays.”  I threaded on the blue thread, and did a few more French knots (odd number) in the center, not really caring how they landed, as I wanted a clustery look to them.  Then I did an open Laisy-Daisy stitch on the outside, creating a row of “petals” with my thread.

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Truth-in-Stitching: the back.

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Here’s another.  On the left, the beginning.  You can see on this flower, I chose to echo the print of the center fabric.  I am doing the first layer of felt by itself.  I then layered it onto the second (gold) layer and kept stitching.  This is the biggest flower, destined for the top of the tree, so I wanted something bright, yet echoed the colors throughout.

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Again, here they are, unadorned.
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After a couple episodes of Downton Abbey, they are embellished. I wrote to Wendy and asked her how long they took her to stitch (hence that hashtag on IG of #startyourneedles), and she replied that she can get two done in an evening.  That’s about my speed, although I think I as get more familiar with stitches, I’ll be faster. Pay attention to your pearl cotton/felt colors.  I loved the fabric in the pink one, upper right, but after I stitched it?  Not so much.  Either I’ll put that one where it’s not really noticed, or stitch another.  I also started with the bigger circles; I’m sure the smaller ones will go faster.

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Okay, now for the photo gallery from Wendy:

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You can see Wendy has a great variety of stitches, and uses the appliquéd fabrics to great effect.

I searched “embroidery stitches” on Google Image and came up with tons, including these two:

Embroidery Stitches101 embroidery-stitches-29dmwg9

A recap of where we are:

January, Step “prepare”: buy the magazine, books, gather your fabrics, buy the felt/wool, buy/find the pearl cotton. 

February, Step 1: Make the tree on the background and stitch it down.  

March, Step 2: Make 21 flowers.

—->  I just have to make a comment here.  We have until June to get our flowers done, as well as the birds (which will go really fast because we’ll be so experienced, right?)  So no panicking, please.  Just #startyourneedles, steadily stitching and by the time it comes to stitch down the flowers, you’ll be ready.

April, Step 3: Make 10 birds.

May, Step 4: Scene at bottom of tree.

June, Step 5: Appliqué down the flowers.  (Wendy gave me some tips for this last week, which I’ll pass along.)

July, Step 6: Appliqué down the birds and the scene.

August, Step 7: Sawtooth border (reds); sew together and attach.

September, Step 8 (finish up Quilt-A-Long): Make wonky star blocks, sew them together and attach border #2.

See you April 2nd for the next step: birds.  I have a few tips on these, too, courtesy of Wendy.  You’ll enjoy visiting both her website and her IG feed for great ideas and to see a master quilter and stitcher at work, and take a look at how far she is on her tree.  Inspiration!  Thank you, Wendy, for all your help.

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Reminder: If you tag your IG photos with #ohchristmastreeqal, we can all help each other out with ideas for stitching, plus it’s just fun to see what you are all doing!

Giveaway Banner

Here we go.  I have two giveaways, and I’ll choose the winners from comments here.

Simply Moderne ScanFirst is another magazine, if you know someone who wants to jump in, or doesn’t have their own copy.  It’s courtesy of QuiltMania, who gave it to me at QuiltCon, when I explained what we were doing.  I’m sure if you wanted to subscribe, they wouldn’t mind a bit, or order the Simply Moderne #4, if you want another eye-popping design (way below).

Second giveaway is an envelope full of fabric medallions, my choice (I’ll cut from my extensive stash of medallions).  You can use some, share some.  There will be at least a dozen to help you get going on your stitching.

I’ll announce the two winners on Friday.  Indicate in your comment which you are most interested in: Simply Moderne #3 magazine (with our tree on it) or medallions.  Yea, you have to choose.

UPDATE: Comments closed.  Winner announced tomorrow mid-morning.

#startyourneedles for the #ohchristmastreeqal

See you April 2nd for Step Three!

SimplyModerne#4

Of course you want to subscribe! (I’m an enabler, for sure)

Elizabeth’s Project Folio–Part III (Bringing it Home)

Project Portfolio Filled_1

Elizabeth’s Project Folio, front and filled with my next project, a bag made of Keiko Goke fabric

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Elizabeth’s Project Folio, back

Project Portfolio Blue_opened

Elizabeth’s Project Folio, interior of blue folio

These are not only good for holding sewing projects they can also be used for:

• long car trips, holding each child’s stash of car junk
• teaching, corraling all the supplies for each lesson unit
• teaching, holding copied pages in place so they don’t go all over your bag
• errands–one for the Post Office, one holding grocery lists and coupons (you can make that one smaller by adjusting your dimensions), carrying swatches for decorating (one folio for each room you are working on)
• hand-sewing projects, such as cross-stitching a sampler
• knitting, as they are big enough to hold your needles, or needle-kit
• packing for a weekend away (one can hold lingerie, one your workout sweats, one can hold rolled-up T-shirts, etc.)

I’m sure you can think of others.  Send me a note telling me what you used yours for!

Finally, to thank you for your readership, I’m giving away the white flowered project folio to one of my followers or Bloglovin’/Feedly readers.  In your comment (at the end of this post), tell me what you’d use your portfolio for, and tell me how you follow me.  I’ll close this giveaway on early Monday morning (8/26), and send it off.

Project Portfolios in bag

They fit in my tote bag easily.  Because one side is vinyl, you can see what’s in there quickly.  Because the other side is fabric, they don’t stick together and slide out without difficulty.

Reminder: All of these measure roughly 11 x 17.  You are more than welcome to make these for your own use, or sell them in a craft faire, but please please, don’t take any of my tutorial and copy it onto your blog.  Practice Friendly Attribution, if you please, by linking back here, if you would.  And please please don’t steal borrow my content to make your own pattern, and call it your own.

Okay, the folios are in the home stretch. Let’s bring ’em home!

If you are coming into this tutorial mid-way, see previous posts Part I and Part II.

STEP FOUR: Zipper

Zipper

A zipper is made of two narrow pieces of tape (think of it as stiff fabric ) joined by an interesting plastic coil.  Usually these strips of fabric are hooked together at one end.  Years of no Home Economic Education has scared most sewers when it comes to zippers, but when you think about it as two strips of fabric that have to be sewn into a seam, tempers and anxiety seem to lower.  And when you get to sew the zipper in flat, like in this bag, things couldn’t be easier.  Note: Some of this tutorial is for beginners, so if you are experienced in zipper-putting-in, just scroll on down.

You’ll be stitching this to the interfaced backing piece.  Set aside the fabric lining for a later step.

14 Marking Zipper

(You see the vinyl front window laid on top of the backing in the above photo, but you’ll be sewing the zipper ONLY to the interfaced backing at this point.)

I usually buy zippers a little bigger than what I need, so if you have done the same, lay out your zipper along the 17″ longer edge of the project folio backing.  Put one pin 1/2″ in from the raw edge, and one pin 1/2″ away from the raw edge, as shown up above on the left.

14 Marking Zipper_2

At the outer pin, you’ll be doing a bar tack, which is only a zig-zag stitch done in place.  Set your sewing machine for a wide zig-zag (so it will clear the zipper teeth), your stitch length to zero, and sew the bar tack in place.  Then about 1/2″ away from that towards the zipper stop, trim off the zipper tape.  If you are using a plastic zipper, you can cut right through it.  If you are using a metal zipper, snip the tape to the teeth, then kind of wiggle off the excess zipper tape.14 Marking Zipper_3

14 Zipper_1

One of the challenges of zipper-sewing, is 1) sewing straight and 2) sewing close enough to the teeth, and 3) getting around that zipper pull.  Use a zipper foot (shown above) for the second, and the first?  Practice makes perfect, so don’t worry about it.  I’ll walk you through the third, below.

First, unzip the zipper for about 4 inches, then:

• lay the edge of the zipper tape even with the raw edges, as shown above,
• zipper FACE DOWN
• on the RIGHT SIDE of the interfaced back folio fabric
• along the 17″ side.

I align the outside long edge of the zipper with the raw edge in this application.  Stitch to the top stop (the silver metal piece), re-align the long edge of the tape with the outside edge and stitch for another couple of inches.

14 Zipper_2

Stop, and put the needle down into the fabric.  Then grab the zipper pull tab, and wiggle it past the needle and close the zipper.  Now you have unlimited easy access to sewing it down.

14 Zipper_3

Remember that inner pin, set 1/2″ in from the raw edge?  Sew to that spot.  You want to leave the last 1/2″ unseen.  I usually hit the stitch-in-place button on my sewing machine, but you can also backstitch to secure it.  Now you’ll be attaching the lining to the back–that piece of fabric that is the same size as the back.

14 Zipper Lining

Lay the lining for the back on the zipper.  The zipper is face down so the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric will be facing the WRONG SIDE of the zipper.  I pin the raw edges of the fabrics together in a few spots so I’m not scrambling as I sew.  You’ll be sewing from the OTHER side of things, along the already-stitched line, so FLIP over the assembly, as shown below.15 Zipper 2_1

You’ll begin at the bottom edge of the sewn-in-zipper.  Remember to stay 1/2″ away from the raw edge as you begin.  Stitch along the already-stitched line until you get about three inches from the end.  Stop, and leave the needle in the fabric.  Reach inside and and slide the zipper pull tab down past your needle, wiggling it as you go by the needle, then continue stitching until the edge.

15 Zipper 2_2

Press both sides away from the zipper, then topstitch close to the edge, about 1/8″ away.

16 Zipper_1

The other side is easier because you only have don’t have a lining to deal with.  The zipper is now flat, intalled on the back.  Working on a flat surface, line up the back with the front, aligning the side raw edges, as shown.  Place a few pins anchoring the zipper tape to the front upper edge of the front vinyl window.

16 Zipper_2

Slide the zipper pull tab down a couple of inches, and start stitching.  When you get close to the zipper pull tab, keep the needle in your fabric, and ease the pull tab past your needle, closing the zipper.  Continue stitching.  Remember to STOP stitching 1/2″ in from the other edge.

16 Zipper_3

I was racing through making these, so you get to see my hideous white bar tack on my zipper in white thread.  No one is going to see this, so don’t worry.  But do notice that I stopped 1/2″ away from the side raw edges.

16 Zipper_4

Stitch alongside your first stitching line, about 1/8″ away.  Notice how both stop at the right place, above.  This second stitching will help anchor the zipper tape.  You can stitch 1/4″ away, if you like.

STEP FIVE: Bottom Edge Closure

17 Bottom Seam_1

Remember how the back of this thing is longer than the front vinyl window part?  You’ll now stitch them together.

First, treat the back two pieces as one, pinning them together at the lower edge.

Now, lifting aside the lining on that 2 1/2″ piece on the bottom of the vinyl window, pin the interfaced strip to the back of the folio, matching raw edges, along the 17″ dimension.  Another view is below.

17 Bottom Seam_3

This is taken from the vinyl window side, and you can see it gleaming there in the photo.  But again, you are sewing the interfaced strip along the lower vinyl window to the two pieces of the back, treating them as one piece.  Stitch in a 1/4″ seam, then press to one side, towards the front.

17 Bottom Seam _3

Fold down the loose piece, tucking the raw edge up to the inside, and pin in place, hiding that seam you just sewed.  You can sew this by hand, taking small stitches, or you can machine stitch this closed.

17 Bottom Seam_4

To do that, open up your nifty zipper all the way, and this will slide in right under your presser foot.  Stitch close to the folded edge, sewing it down.  Sorry it’s not such a great photo, but I’m confident you can figure it out.  (Or just sew the edge down by hand.)

With both the bottom seam and the zipper seam completed, your portfolio is now a tube.  Press that seam, keeping your iron away from the vinyl.

STEP SIX: Closing the Sides

19 Sewing Sides

Blurry Photo Apology!

Starting at the zipper edge, line up the sides, pinning occasionally, raw edges even.  The bottom seam will loop around towards the front, so don’t try to force it.  Stitch, then stitch again, 1/4″ inch away.

19 Sewing Sides_2

Trim.  This is a better photo, and you can see how the seams don’t match up to where you think they will at the bottom.  Just let them go where they want to.

18 Side Finish

You can simply zig-zag those side seams to finish them, or make a simple binding.  Cut a piece of fabric about an  inch and 1/2″ wide and a bit longer than your sides (should be about 16 x 1.5″ in a perfect world).  Matching raw edges, sew the long side of the binding strip to the portfolio side seam.  You can pin it, and then flip it over to stitch over the previous stitching, like you did with the zipper, if you want.

18 Side Finish_1

Then fold the long raw edge in and fold the binding over the raw seam allowances.  Pin, as shown above, and below.

18 Side Finish_4

18 Side Finish_2

Stitch close to the folded edge, securing the binding in place.

18 Side Finish_6

Make sure you do not stitch the zipper into your seam.  Lift it up and out of the way.

18 Side Finish_5

Trim the binding even with the side seams, then zig-zag (overcast it) to keep the ends from fraying.  Again, lift the zipper up and out of the way.

20 Folio Flipped Out

Flip the folio inside out and wiggle that end of the zipper to a nice squared-off edge.  Congratulate yourself!  You are done!

Project Portfolio Filled_Interior

Here’s what the other side looks like, interior view.

Project Portfolios

I made a conscious choice not to “box” the lower corners to create a dimensional folio.  I want to be able to lay in flat things (books, patterns, fabric, etc) and then, when done, store them flat.  In use, I haven’t missed the boxed corner at all.  Everything flexes around what I want to put it (refer back to the original post and that overstuffed folio *here.*)

Zipper Pull Ribbon

I thread a bit of ribbon through my zipper pulls to make them easier to grab.  Trim the edges at an angle, and apply a little bit of Fray Chek to them, if you are worried about fraying.

Three Portfolios_corners

Project Portfolio Three_top

Okay, now tell me how you’ll use your flowered Elizabeth’s Project Folio in your comment below, and how you follow me (email, Feedly, Bloglovin’).

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