August’s Goal: Sew Pillowcases

Fabric for pillowcases. All washed and ironed, ready to start!

It’s time for August’s One Monthly Goal Link-Up by Elm Street Quilts!

This month, I want to sew pillowcases for my 2 older kiddos and myself. I like making them pillowcases for Christmas (young kids are easy-to-please and pillowcases are easy-to-make!) and, yes, I need to start this early on them.

This year, I bought fabric online, which is no easy feat if you’re looking to coordinate colors and prints (I discovered a few tricks for shopping online, though). I’m also making a couple for myself, because who doesn’t like having fun or interesting pillowcases? A pillowcase, to me, is one of those inconsequential home items that are easy to make and customize, so why not do it and have lots of fun ones to choose from each time you change the sheets?

I have the fabric and I’ve already washed it and ironed it. Here’s what else I need to do:

  • cut the main and accent pieces
  • fold and iron the accent/end pieces in half
  • pin and stitch the accent pieces to the main pieces
  • pin and stitch the long ends together
  • pin and stitch the short sides together

I’ll be doing French seams, which gives a clean finish, but it requires twice the sewing since each seam needs to be stitched twice. (It’s worth it, though!)

I’m lucky to have my sewing machine set up 24/7. While it’s not in an ideal location, it allows me to make use of the 15-30 minutes of free time I have for sewing each day!

Stay tuned! I’ll give an update at the end of the month.

3 Reasons Why I Choose to Tie a Quilt

I love tying quilts. Tying a quilt is easy and quick, creates texture, and lends to the overall aesthetic of the quilt.

Crisscross tie on the front of my Welcome Blanket Quilt.

Just because it’s a quilt doesn’t mean it has to be quilted! You can tie a quilt. That is, you can use thread or yarn to make ties all throughout a quilt to keep the quilt sandwich (quilt top/front, batting, and backing) together. And, just like every other choice you make when creating a quilt, there are a few good reasons to tie a quilt: ease/speed, texture, and aesthetics.

Back of the crisscross tie on my Welcome Blanket Quilt.

For me, the first reason I opt for tying is the ease and speed compared to machine or hand quilting. I have a beginner sewing machine. The throat space isn’t that generous, so it’s hard maneuvering a good-size quilt around the walking foot. Paying to have a quilt longarm-quilted can be, well, out of budget. Tying is easy. And, it’s super-quick compared to hand quilting, even though tying is done by hand, too. Getting a quilt done already is a good enough reason to choose the quick and easy route to completion!

Back of my Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt.

Whether you’re quilting a quilt or tying it, this step creates texture. Depending on what kind of batting you use and the pattern and placement of quilting stitches or ties, you create texture. Play around with the loft of batting and spacing of ties and see what kind of texture you can create. Let the quilt top pattern dictate the choice to tie.

Beads and sequins tied onto my Dazzling Pineapple Mini Quilt.

Finally, the result of any choice in the quilt-making process is an overall aesthetic. Tying can significantly impact the style and artistic impression a quilt makes. I personally think tying lends a homespun look to a quilt. You can play with it by thoughtfully selecting a particular type of thread, how long you cut the ties, placement, and so much more. Make a statement by choosing to tie your quilt.

Here are some things you can try with your next tied quilt. Some I’ve done and others I’ve got on my idea list!

+ Different threads or yarn. I’ve used cotton embroidery floss and a metallic floss, but I’d love to try a thick wool yarn.

+ Tie on the back. This is so fun when you create a crisscross on the front. I did this on my Welcome Blanket Quilt. Check it out here.

+ Tie with a bead or embellishment. Do it! I’ve used sequins and beads for a shimmery effect and I want to use buttons in the future. My Dazzling Pineapple Mini Quilt features sequins, glass beads, and metallic thread. See it here.

+ Length of tie ends. My favorite length is from my fingertip to the first joint on my middle finger. (Using this type of measurement reduces the number of tools you need!) Depending on thread, I can see going shorter or longer. 

+ Spacing of ties. First, you should make sure you have enough ties to hold your quilt sandwich together, but putting in a lot of ties close together could create an interesting style. 

+ Mix ties and quilting (hand or machine). Did it and I loved it! My favorite quilt has ties and hand quilting. Deciding to tie or quilt isn’t an either-or decision. You get to make up the rules! Originally I intended to machine quilt my Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt, but I ended up tying it and hand quilting it. Read more about how it came together here.

So, tell me, have you ever tied a quilt? Do you like it? Did you use any unusual tricks?

My Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt has crisscrosses tied on the back and handquilting.

Here are the quilts I’ve tied (more to come!):

Welcome Blanket Quilt

Dazzling Pineapple Mini Quilt

Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

Baby Bibs from Repurposed Button-Up Shirts

I made quick and easy baby bibs with fabric from repurposed button-up shirts and snaps from outgrown, stained baby bodysuits.

Baby bib from upcycled shirts.

I just had my third baby in November. So, he just started eating solids a little over a month ago. Now, being my third, I have some tired bibs leftover from my older two. But the hook-and-loop closures are worn and don’t stick very well, and they’re very vinyl-plastic-y feeling, which I don’t like.

In my fabric stash I have a few button-up shirts from my husband that he no longer can wear because of holes in the elbows. Usually, I would be all about mending, but we’re not at the point where a mended elbow is considered a professional look in the workplace. And, yes, those things do matter. Alas, I did the best I could and stashed the shirts in my fabric bins until the perfect project came along. Enter my need for several bibs for a new human sloppily learning to eat.

The only new thing I used was thread. There’s no interfacing in these bibs! The snap closures came from outgrown baby bodysuits that were stained just enough to bypass the donation bin and went straight to the rag bin (after I snipped off the snaps, of course).

First, I took one of the old bibs I had and made a pattern. I simply folded the bib in half and traced it on some paper, marking the side where the fold goes. I added a ¼” seam allowance line freehand. Hey, these are bibs, not something that needs to fit just right!

Old bib.
New bib pattern.

Next, I cut up the shirts to have a decent amount of fabric. Each bib needs two of the pattern piece cut out of fabric. With some creative folding, I was able to get two bibs out of one shirt: one out of the back and one out of both sleeves.

The back and two sleeves of a shirt cut into flat pieces.

Then, I pinned the two sides together. Here’s the great thing about using woven plaid shirts: I didn’t have to worry so much about wrong and right sides of the fabric. Obviously, if you’re using fabric that has a wrong and right side, pin the right sides together. I stitched around the perimeter of the bib, leaving a space at the bottom for it to be turned right side out.

Before flipping the bib out, I made some clips on the seam allowance around the curves. This helps with getting the seam to lay flat.

After flipping the bib, I gave it a quick press under the iron and then topstitched around the perimeter.

Nothing fancy. Just topstitching in all-purpose thread.

Next up, I trimmed my upcycled snaps. I left just enough fabric on each side so that there would be room to stitch them down. I stitched each snap piece three times on either side of the snap, going back and forth to create a sturdy hold. Eyeballing where the snaps went on the bib ends worked fine. Again, these bibs are going to get messy; there’s no need to be fussy about the construction!

Snaps saved from a baby bodysuit.

A NOTE ABOUT CLOSURES: THESE BIBS, AND ANY BIBS, GO AROUND A BABY’S NECK. EXERCISE CAUTION! USE A BREAKAWAY CLOSURE. WATCH YOUR BABY WHEN THEY’RE WEARING THE BIB. MAKE SURE THEY DON’T GET THE BIB SNAGGED ON ANYTHING AND CAN’T GET FREE. KEEP YOUR BABIES SAFE! SAFETY FIRST, CLEANLINESS SECOND. Goodness, I don’t want any babies to get hurt!

It’s not pretty or precious, but it works!

Okay, so the stitching on the snaps isn’t pretty. Alright, so bibs made out of old business casual shirts aren’t necessarily cute. But, that’s the beauty of having a third baby! I value function over form! Most of these bibs (I made seven total) are 100% cotton. So, they wash up like a dream! They’re soft, pliable, and so far, have caught the slop.

When I put it on my baby, it looks like he’s about to head to office. Ha!

Handsewn Hexie Scrap Quilt (without Using English Paper Piecing)

I started a hexie scrap quilt using a custom acrylic hexagon template. I chose to hand sew the pieces rather than use the English paper piecing technique.

The beginning of my hexie scrap quilt.

I finally finished the last appliqué border for my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt and while I haven’t sewn those borders on, I was itching for some more hand sewing. (I used needle turn appliqué for four floral borders on that quilt.) I decided to try a hexagon quilt, with a catch.

It seems like every quilter has made a quilt with hexagons. A lot of times, I see it done with English paper piecing. But, let me tell you, that seems a little too time-consuming for me—basting and then hand sewing? Over the summer, a fellow quilter showed our guild how she hand-pieces hexagons. Ding! Ding! Ding! It looked like the perfect project to scratch my hand sewing itch and cross hexies off my quilting bucket list.

First, I had to acquire a hexagon template that would allow me to trace not only a cutting line, but a seam allowance line to follow with my needle and thread. I found a great one from HeyHexie on Etsy.com. The shop offers clear acrylic templates that either are solid or open in the center. (I needed the open center.) I also was able to select from a range of sizes. I went with 1 ½” with a ¼” seam. 

One of the first hexie flower blocks.

Because I want to do hand sewing, I know this project is very, very back burner. To slow it down even more, I decided I’d make it with my scraps of which I had 2 gallon-size freezer bags full. It took me some time to go through my scraps and trace and cut out a bunch of hexies, but I did it! I still have about a gallon-size freezer bag full of scraps. (I keep really, really small pieces of fabric!)

Now, I have a stash of hexies that I can pull from to put together a flower block whenever the urge strikes me. I’ve already made several blocks. I also have about half a dozen sets of hexies chosen to be sewn together so I don’t even have to make any color choices when I’m ready to do some hand sewing!

Stash of hexie pieces.

As an aside, my kids LOVED playing with the teeny tiny scraps of fabric that were leftover from cutting out my hexies. Instead of throwing these bits of fabric away, I let my kids glue them to pieces of paper. Some of their creations were really great. I also let my 5-year-old choose hexagons for a couple of flowers. I was cringing at some of her choices, but I held my tongue because 1) this is a SCRAP quilt—it’s not going to be an amazing example of color choice; and 2) I figure when I give her free creative reign, she’s gaining confidence in her creativity—I mean, how proud will she be (heck, how proud will I be) when she can see HER flower in the finished quilt? What’s your hand sewing go-to? Have you ever made a hexagon quilt? I think Grandmother’s Flower Garden is the original hexie quilt.

Another hexie flower block.

Want to see more of my hexie flower blocks? Head over to my Instagram feed!

How to Make an Iron-On Transfer Using an Image Printed with a Toner Printer or Copier

A quick, easy (and cheap!) way to create an iron-on transfer is to use an image printed on a toner printer or copier. Learn how I did it with no special supplies.

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Peeling off the paper to reveal the image.

Back in May, my quilt guild challenged its members to sew name tags to wear to meetings. I was all on board since I appreciate the members who wear name tags because we only meet once a month and I’ve only been attending for about a year and a half now. (I still feel like I don’t know everyone!)

I didn’t know exactly how to put my name to fabric. My handwriting isn’t fancy and embroidery would require extra needlework I didn’t have time for. Alas, buried in the depths of my memory was a 5th grade project my mom helped me with, where we ironed a photocopied image onto a piece of fabric. While I can’t remember the specific requirements of the project, we had to create something about a book we just read (and, no, I can’t remember what book it was). I decided to embroider the image used at the beginning of each chapter onto fabric and then (with a lot of my mom’s help) make it into a pillow. I don’t even know why, but the technique for creating an iron transfer has stuck with me.

Here’s what we did: we simply photocopied the image from the book. We enlarged it and darkened it, too. The more toner the better. Then, my mom ironed the image onto fabric. Voilà! I then had an outline to follow as I embroidered. I’m pretty sure this pillow no longer exists, so while my classmates and teacher seemed impressed, I question my 5th grade handiwork.

It was with that knowledge, that I started on my name tag. I first pulled up Microsoft PowerPoint, because it seems like the most “designy” program in the Microsoft Office suite. I wrote out my name (and my nickname—I wasn’t sure what I’d want fellow quilters to call me). Then, I searched the “Help” section for mirroring text. Instructions for that quickly popped up and I followed them. It’s here I’ll note that you have to mirror the image if it matters, as it does with text. Because you ultimately flip the printout over and iron it to the fabric. I made a couple of sizes to see which I liked best and then printed the sheet using the darkest setting I could. Remember, more toner creates a darker transfer.

IronOnTransfer_01
I mirrored the text (image) and played with the size.

I cut out several pieces of the text and practiced ironing it to 100% cotton muslin. I put my iron on high heat and I pressed really hard. I suggest practicing. And, depending on what you plan on doing with your transfer, you may not need it to be perfect. My plan was to leave the transfer as-is, so I wanted it relatively dark. If I was embroidering it, I wouldn’t have needed it as dark, just dark enough to see where to put my needle and thread.

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Post ironing. The regular ol’ printer paper (no need to buy anything fancy!) curls with the heat.

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Carefully peeling off the paper. As you can see, even though it’s dark, it still has a nice distressed look, which I like.

After transferring my name, I stitched it into a name tag, and put a pin back on it.

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The finished name tag.

Here’s the kicker. I don’t love it! The thing I like most about this name tag is the lettering. I’m not crazy about the other fabrics or the size of the whole thing. In fact, I don’t like it so much that I’ve never worn it to a quilt guild meeting! But you know what? That’s how making goes. You’ve gotta make a whole lot of “meh” to get to some good stuff. And, that’s alright with me, because I always enjoy the process.

In a nutshell: How to Make an Iron-On Transfer with an Image Printed with a Toner Printer or Copier

1. Make sure the printer or copier you’re using uses toner. I’ve never tried this with an inkjet printer and I don’t know what a space-age copier uses these days. As far as paper goes, I just used what is in my printer, that is, nothing fancy. Ditto with the copier we used in the 5th grade. Whatever was loaded in there, we used.

2. Select your image and mirror it. If you’re printing from a computer, see if the program you created the image in allows for this. (Search the “Help” menu or Google it.) If you’re using a copier, see if there’s a setting that allows you to mirror.

3. Print the image, cut it out, and select your fabric (I’m thinking 100% cotton probably works best). Turn your iron to a high heat (another reason 100% cotton works—synthetics may melt!).

4. Press really hard and iron the entire image. Play around with what gives you the best results for your purpose. Embroidery outlines may not need to be very dark, but if you’re not doing anything else to the image, you may want it darker.

Now, don’t ask me how this transfer holds up to washing, because I’ve never washed one! But, if you know, by all means, drop a comment below and let us know.