My Completed Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt

I finally finished my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt, crossing off my one and only 2021 quilting goal and completing the pattern I started making four years ago.

Label on the back of my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt

A quilt label can mean only one thing: I did it! I finished my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt, Sarah Fielke’s 2017 block of the month program. Yes, I have been working on this quilt for 4 years. It was my one and only goal for 2021. (And, I’m kinda proud that less than halfway through the year and it’s done!) Now, I have finished other quilts since starting this one here, here, and here, because apparently I like a good distraction.

I am so proud of this quilt. For being my first serious endeavor to make a quilt, I’m happy with how it came out. There’s very little that I would change. 

Let me tell you about some of the details. First, I have a notebook that I create little collages in. I just pull pages from magazines and catalogs and when the mood strikes me, I tape them into the notebook trying to follow some sort of theme per page. I used this spread for color inspiration.

Color inspiration collage

I learned so much while making this quilt. I learned needle-turn appliqué, foundation paper piecing, and how to assemble a medallion quilt. I honed my piecing skills. Some of the borders have a lot of little pieces! 

Center block of the medallion quilt

There were some changes to the pattern I made in an attempt to save time. Joke’s on me! And, in no way did my changes make this design better than Sarah Fielke’s original pattern. (Honestly, I prefer hers and the pattern came with 3 different options!) the biggest change I made was to the floral border. The two long sides were supposed to be different than the two short sides. I made all four sides the same. Again, this isn’t a better way to make the original pattern, it’s just what I did.

Floral border

To finish the quilt, I went back and forth about what to do. At 96” square, there’s no way I could ever had machine quilted it myself. To have it professionally quilted with a longarm machine (huge quilting machine that allows quilters to quilt FAST) would have cost a lot. It would have been worth it, but unfortunately not in my budget. Hand quilting it would have taken a lot of time. And so, I turned to my good old friend tying. I did crisscross ties with tails in the back in most places, but tied with the tails in the front in each flower to create “stamens” of sorts. I also couldn’t resist doing a touch of big stitch quilting in the thin blue borders and around the half Dresden plates. I’m 100% happy with how it turned out.

Roofs of houses were foundation paper pieced

Finally, sometimes you have to get creative and on the ground. Right now, my sewing machine is on a card table that also holds a bunch of other stuff. In this spot, I didn’t have enough room to stitch the binding on to the front of the quilt. Well, guess what? I just popped my machine onto my bedroom floor, stuck my right leg out so I could push the pedal and tucked my left leg in cross-legged style. I scooched the quilt along the floor as I stitched. Ideal? No. Comfortable? Not at all. Did it get the job done? Absolutely! 

There’s not much room on my floor either! And, yes, that’s my scorched ironing board.

I was so excited about getting this quilt done that I have already popped it in the wash and it’s on my bed. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to taking “good” pictures of it. But, it most definitely is a comfortable quilt to sleep under!

Unfinished, but this is the best whole quilt pic I have. When I take pics of the whole completed quilt, I’ll share!
Final border
Back with a bit of big stitching visible
Glamour shot of the big stitch quilting and crisscross ties

So tell me, what project have you been working on for what feels like forever? Any tips to increase creative productivity when you feel like you can’t get anything done? What questions can I answer for you?

How I Visibly Mended a Pair of Secondhand Jeans

Using a scrap of quilting cotton and pearl cotton thread, I reinforced and mended a thinning and fraying area of my secondhand jeans.

Visibly mended jeans

Remember the jeans I visibly hemmed? Well, I recently visibly mended them right at the seam on the upper thigh. I noticed that a twist in the seam allowance had created a thinning and fraying spot. As a person who has ripped her jeans in an embarrassing spot whilst wearing them before, I decided to take care of these jeans before an incident occurred. I chose to reinforce the area with a patch of woven cotton fabric on the inside using a Sashiko-like running stitch with pearl cotton.

Fraying and thinning area right at the seam

There wasn’t quite a hole, yet, and no mending to do per se, but with these being my—ahem—only pair of jeans that I can wear regularly, I wanted to be proactive. (Side note: Why is it so hard to find a pair of jeans that fit and fit comfortably? Hello, my third child is a little over a year old and I’ve spent a year staying at home as much as possible, thank you, pandemic. My body has capital-C changed. Also, WHY DO JEANS HAVE SO MUCH NON-COTTON FIBERS IN THEM?!? I get that a touch of stretch can make them comfortable, but when a quarter of the total fibers are not cotton, the fabric REALLY stretches. I’m already trying to find my new size, fiber content matters and is messing with my head!) Rant over—haha! 

A small piece of quilting cotton for the patch

I simply pulled a scrap of quilting cotton from my stash and cut it to size. Then I finger-pressed a 1/4” hem around the edges of this patch (I eyeballed it since I put it inside the jeans—no one else will be eyeballing it!).

Pin-basted patch on inside of jeans

Then, I pin-basted it into place. My first stitches were around the hem. The raw edges of the patch are completely concealed and contained between the patch and the jeans, because I didn’t want to deal with the patch fraying. 

Quite simply, I just did a running stitch zigzagging from side to side in between the perimeter stitches. Done and done. My stitching is inspired by the “visible mending” trend, some of which is based on Japanese Sashiko. I found a great website for learning more about the culture and the craft. Click over to Upcycle Stitches.

Stitched around the perimeter first to secure the raw edges of the patch.

I’ve worn and washed these jeans a few times and the patch and stitching have stayed in place. Also, the repair is very subtle. The white thread is perfect on the light wash. While I love the “visible mending” aesthetic, I’m not about to draw attention to my hips and thighs!

You can see the jeans have been mended, but it’s not bold.

So, what do you think? Have you visibly mended any clothing? Did you use a technique that worked really well? Have I missed anything here? Let me know! I read all the comments whether you write them the day I publish a post or 5 years after!

How I Visibly Hemmed a Pair of Secondhand Jeans

I used sashiko-like stitching to hem a pair of thrifted jeans. The inseam now fits better and the jeans have a “visible mending” aesthetic.

Visibly Hemmed Jeans

I’ve had a pair of thrifted jeans that I didn’t like for a couple of years. They were too long (and bootcut, which exacerbates the annoyance of a too-long inseam—all that fabric just hanging around my ankles!). Alas, my post-third-baby and pandemic-life body fits these jeans and not many other pants. So, I figured I can’t make these jeans any worse, so why not try to hem them and make them marginally better?

Pinterest, a go-to for inspiration, didn’t have too much about visibly hemming pants. There are about a bazillion tutorials on how to hem jeans with the original hem, but for this project, I didn’t have the patience. I did find this inspiration: jeans with colorful stitching to hold a cuff in place. I wasn’t interested in a cuff as much as just shortening the legs of my jeans.

The before: just a thrifted pair of bootcut jeans showing a little wear.

I dived right into this project by first cutting off the original hem. Because of the bootcut silhouette and my annoyance at the excessive fabric around my ankles, removing the hem got rid of some of that heft. 

Removed the original hem to lose the extra weight/fabric.

Then, I folded up the pantlegs to a length I liked. I had been doing this when I wore them anyway. Anyone else despise how a cuff like this will catch anything and everything? I’ve taken my pants off at the end of the day to find bits of dried leaves and grass and dirt hiding in the cuffs!

A perfect fit requires just putting the jeans on!

I held the hem in place with some clips and broke out a needle and some pearl cotton thread. I went to town with a running stitch along the folded-up hem, securing the fabric in place. It gives the hem a sashiko stitch look and a nod to the visible mending trend (which is what I was going for second to shortening the length). 

Visibly hemmed jeans with a running stitch.

Overall? The pants are still not my favorite. But, they are better than what they were! Plus, I got some practice hand stitching and felt a sense of accomplishment getting a small project started and completed (hard to do with a one-year-old crawling around!). I’ve washed the jeans and there is some fraying where I cut off the original hem. But, it’s nothing just a little snipping of loose threads here and there can’t fix. 

After one wash. A little bit of fraying, but not too bad.

Have you ever taken a chance on altering a piece of clothing you felt “meh” about? Did you like it better afterwards? Let me know!

My One & Only Quilting Goal for 2021

In 2021, I have only one quilting goal and that is to finish my 4-year-old Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt.

I’ve heard a saying about goals (and Google isn’t helping me verify it) that goes something like, “I’d rather you shoot for the moon and miss than aim for the haystack and hit it.” Basically, it means, go for the big lofty goals because just going for them is better than accomplishing small goals (even if you fail at those big goals). 

Me? The heck with that! I’m shooting for the haystack because I know I can hit it! I’m setting the bar low so I can just step over it! 

With that mindset, my only quilting goal for 2021 is to finish my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt that I started in 2017 as Sarah Fielke’s block of the month program.

Last summer, I finished piecing the top and pin-basted it. See here:

It measures 96″ x 96″!

I estimate that I am 1/3 of the way done tying the quilt. It sits in a heap out in the open so I can easily do a tie here and there.

The heap.

I have the fabric for the binding. I just need to (1) finish tying it; (2) trim the edges; (3) make binding; (4) machine stitch the binding to the front; and (5) hand stitch the binding to the back. And then (6) throw it into the wash, because I wash my quilts after I make them.

This should be doable, right?…if I don’t start any other quilts or work on any of the other in-progress quilts I have. Of course, my 7-year-old convinced me to start a new quilt this past weekend because it was all her heart desired. Still, I’ll get this one 4-year-old quilt done, right? Right? Haha! Stay tuned!

What’s your quilty or crafty goal for the year?

Unfussy Instructions for Sewing a Standard Pillowcase

My easy instructions for making pillowcases means you can have a lot of different designs to choose from every time you change sheets. It’s fun for everyone, especially kiddos.

One of my favorite things is having fun pillowcases to choose from every time I change the sheets. I recently made pillowcases for my older kiddos for Christmas (yes, I had to get started this early). Because they’re easy to make, why not have a lot of different patterns or give in to your kids’ 6-month obsession with whatever television character?

I’m not fussy about my home décor and how I make my standard pillowcases is equally unfussy. Admittedly, I inherited my “lots of fun pillowcases” philosophy from my quilter-sewist mom. (She started my collection.) So, I had a sense of how to make one myself since I’ve watched her make them before. But, the instructions I’m providing are my own—made from simply measuring whatever pillow was on my bed at the time, measuring one of her pillowcases, and doing my best with limited space for cutting large swaths of fabric!

First and foremost, per Google, a standard pillow measures 26”L x 20”H. The pillowcase should be a wee bit higher and a wee bit longer. A Google search shows that a standard pillowcase is 30”L x 20”H. But, remember we are working with pillows. Pillows are squishy. Standard pillows are for sleeping, not for decoration (like a throw pillow). So, if your pillowcase ends up a bit too small, you can just squish the pillow in. If they pillowcase is a bit too big, well, it’ll just be a bit loose on the pillow.

To start, select 2 coordinating cotton woven fabrics about 45” wide. One will be for the main part of the pillowcase (Fabric A) and one for the accent (Fabric B). Fabric A needs ¾ yard. Fabric B needs 1/3 yard. Honestly, just get 1 yard of Fabric A and ½ yard of Fabric B. Any extras you can just toss into your scrap pile or add to your stash—who doesn’t want extra fabric to play with? Plus, while 25” + 11” = 36”, a yard, you must remember that a yard is not a yard of fabric. One of the reasons I prewash is that it helps to show just how un-square the cut is. Washing fabric will shrink it, even slightly. Once you fold the fabric straight, you’ll see that the cut edges are not square and that once you square the fabric, you’re most definitely not left with whatever length you asked for. You’ll lose a few inches.

Cut Fabric A 25” by the width of the fabric (WOF). Cut Fabric B 11” by the WOF. Trim off the selvedge.

Fold Fabric B in half with wrong sides together (so the right side is showing) and press.

Pin and stitch Fabric A and B together along the WOF, right sides together, raw edges together. Finish the seam with a zigzag stitch or a French seam. (See below for YouTube French seam tutorial video.)

Here’s where the unfussy comes in: if there are any differences in the lengths between Fabric A and B, just square it up and trim off the extra fabric after they’re stitched together. This is where you’ll get your little bit too small or little bit too big measurements. It’s okay! Trust me! Perfection is overrated anyway.

What the length difference looks like in real life. Notice the pink leaf fabric is longer than the accent fabric.

Next, fold the fabric in half with the right sides together and then stitch the long sides together and finish that seam (zigzag stitch, French seam).

Finally, stitch the short sides together with the right sides together and finish that seam. Turn it right side out and you’re done!

You have my permission to put it on your pillow immediately and just take a short little snooze to test it out.

Here is the French seam tutorial I watched to learn how to do them. It’s a nifty technique that’s great to have in your sewing repertoire.