Tuesday, January 31, 2012


In case you've ever wondered what my favorite sewing/crafting tool is, wonder no more--it's SCISSORS! 

I love them because they are so functional, and they come in so many sizes, shapes, and colors.  Here are most of the scissors I own; I know I have more (where are my two pairs of stork-shaped embroidery scissors?) but these were all I could find when I wanted to take a group photo:

This is the first pair of real scissors I ever owned.  My parents brought them back for me when they went on a short trip to Spain, when I was 13 years old. They are pretty dull now, and the screw tends to fall out when you are cutting, but I love the decoration on them.  They are my favorite pair!

One of these two is my most expensive pair of scissors--but I don't know which!  I remember that the embroidery scissors were really expensive when I asked my husband to get them for me for my birthday about 20 years ago; they are super-sharp and well-made.  The Ginghers are my prettiest scissors; I treated myself to them a couple of years ago.  I am left-handed, and so are these scissors; one of the things that made me want them was that they are "true" left-handed scissors--they don't just have a left-handed grip, but the cutting edges of the blades are actually reversed--it sounded great, but in reality, as a person who has always used right-handed scissors, it seems very awkward and is hard to get used to.  Otherwise, they are great!

These three are my "work horses"' that I use every time I sew.  The orange handled ones are left-handed Fiskars; I've had them forever and they always work great and rarely need sharpening.  The blue handled pair has the name "Durasharp" on the blade; I don't remember where I got them, but they are amazingly great scissors!  This is the only pair that I use for both fabric and paper, and they never get dull!

These Cutter Bees are my newest pair of scissors.  They were part of the huge bag of goodies I got at the Blogger's Meet-up hosted by Craft Gossip and sponsored by EK Success Brands, back in September, in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Everyone had a pair of these sitting at her place at the table when we walked in--I was so excited to see free scissors!! 

I already had this pink pair, and let me tell you, if you need scissors for scrap-booking or other kinds of paper-cutting, these are the ones to get!  They are fantastically sharp, but best of all, the tip is extremely small and sharp too, so you can easily cut into small corners.  I love them!  But then again,
 I love all my scissors!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Seven Days of Giveaways!

I started this blog almost a year ago, in March of 2011, with three followers:  my husband, my daughter, and my wonderful friend Susan (whose idea it was that I start blogging).  As of today I am up to 76 followers, and since a few more are added each week, it won't be long before the number reaches 100!  I've been thinking that I need to do something special for my readers then, some kind of giveaway, but one day of prizes just isn't enough for something as big as this--so I've decided that starting the day my number of followers hits 100, I will have SEVEN DAYS OF GIVEAWAYS!!

Many of the things I will be giving away are the samples I've made for swaps, like this apron:

or this basket:

or these morsbags:

or this card wallet:

And to make it more fun, I will have two winners each day:  the first person to leave a comment will win the handmade item (plus whatever extras I throw into the package) and the second person to leave a comment will win a group of fat quarters of designer fabric!  The fabric is being donated by Susan; she came upon an amazing haul of brand-new, packaged fat quarters at a garage sale last year, and because she is so awesome, she is letting me give it away!!  There will be a picture of the prizes each day, which I will post at a random time, just to keep things interesting.

The tricky part is, I don't know exactly when this will all happen--that depends new followers signing up--but I think is will be within the next month or two.  I'm telling you now so you will know to keep checking here.

 As the number gets closer to 100, I will post a reminder of this great big, incredible, awesome, unprecidented SEVEN DAYS OF GIVEAWAYS!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fabric Basket Tutorial

There is a well-known quilter and crafter named Ayumi Mills, with a fabulous blog called Pink Penguin.   She posted a fabric basket tutorial  a few years ago that inspired me to make some baskets.  I took pictures recently as I made a basket, so you can see how I made mine (it's almost the same as Ayumi's).  Her tutorial is the definitive one; mine pales in comparison!  I only offer this because I was asked to show how I made my particular version of this fabric basket.

This is the first basket I made based on Ayumi's tutorial:

They are not too hard to make, and you get such a feeling of accomplishment from making something so useful!

In the very near future, my friend Susan and I will be organizing a swap of fabric baskets, bins, buckets and boxes on Craftster (sign-ups begin February 6th).  At the request of one of our regular swap participants, I took pictures recently as I made a fabric basket using my own design.  I will show you how it's made--the tutorial starts NOW!!

Here's the finished product; it measures 5 3/4" wide x 4" deep x 4" tall.

1.  Choose two fabrics, one for the inside and one for the outside of your basket; a fat quarter of each will be enough.  To make the basket sturdy, you will also need two kinds of interfacing.  They can be bought by the yard at fabric stores.
--1/2 yard of heavyweight sew-in interfacing (also called stabilizer)
--1/2 yard of featherweight or lightweight iron-in interfacing  (also called fusible interfacing)
(I buy mine by the bolt.  Pellon is a good brand.)

2.  Cut the fabrics to these sizes:
--inner fabric:  one piece 12 1/4" x 10 1/4"
--outer fabric:  one piece  12 1/2" x 10 1/2"
--handle fabric (I used the outer fabric):  one piece 2 1/2" x 10 1/2" (this makes both handles)

3.  Cut 3 pieces of the iron-in interfacing just a little smaller than each of your 3 pieces of fabric.  Following the package directions, fuse it to the wrong side of each piece.

4.  Cut 1 piece of the sew-in interfacing just a little LARGER than your outer fabric.  Pin it to the wrong side of the fabric, then baste it to the fabric using a 1/8" seam allowance, and your longest sewing machine stitch.  If it seems a little warped after sewing, try ironing it.

5.  Trim the excess interfacing from around the edges of the outer fabric.

This picture shows my fabrics with both interfacings applied.  The sew-in interfacing has not yet been trimmed.

6.  Make the handles:  fold the handle fabric in half lengthwise, and sew it into a tube, using a 1/4" seam.  Turn it right-side-out and press it flat.  (This picture shows my sewn tube before turning.  It also shows my handy-dandy tube-turning tool!)  Use whatever method works for you to turn the tube.

Sew a line of stitching along each side of the handle fabric, about 1/8" from the edge. 

Cut the handle fabric in half (each piece will be 5 1/4" long).

7.  Now to make the basket shape, starting with the outer fabric:  fold the interfaced fabric in half so the short sides are lined up at the top, and sew the two folded sides using a 1/4" seam.  (This picture shows the inner fabric sewn in half as just described.)

8.  Make the 4" gussets:  flatten one of the sides you just sewed, so the seam is centered and it ends in a triangular point.  With a ruler, find the spot where the width of the triangle is 4", and draw a line there that is perpendicular to the seam.  It is easy to do if you have a gridded mat like the one in this picture.

Sew along the line you drew, then cut off the excess fabric.  Make the gusset on the other side the same way.

I'm repeating this picture to show you how your outer fabric should now look.  Sew the inner fabric and make 4" gussets on it in exactly the same way.

9.  Attach the handles to the basket:  pin each handle to the outer fabric so it straddles the side seam, with each inner handle edge 3/4" from the center seam (the two handle ends will be 1 1/2" apart).

Sew the pinned handles in place using a 1/8" seam.

10.  Yay, now it's time to finish the basket!  Your outer fabric should be inside-out, as in this picture.  Turn your inner fabric so it is now RIGHT-side-out.

Place the inner fabric inside the outer fabric, and line up the side seams.  Pin the side seams together.

To figure out where to start sewing, hold the basket with one side seam in each hand and one flat side facing you.  Start sewing near where your right hand is holding it, about 1" ahead of the handles.  Sew around the top edge of the basket, using a 1/4" seam, until you come to the second side seam.  Stop here and remove the basket from the sewing machine.  Since your inner fabric is 1/4" smaller than the outer fabric, the two fabrics will not line up perfectly along the top edge (but it is important for the inner fabric to be smaller, so it fits smoothly inside the finished basket).

You need to adjust for the difference in size here, at the seam line. Pinch  about 1/4" of the outer fabric at the seam so it overlaps itself, and pin it in place. We're doing this at the seam line so the adjustment will be invisible in the finished basket.  Take a look at the remaining opening in this top seam; if the two fabrics are now perfectly aligned, continue sewing the top seam, but leave a 3-4" opening on the side to turn it right-side-out.  If the two fabrics are not perfectly aligned, unpin the seam and adjust it until the fabrics line up perfectly.  Then sew the remaining seam, leaving an opening for turning.

Whew, I'm glad that's over!  Turn your basket right-side out and it will look like this:

Iron the top edge flat, pushing the inner fabric down a little so it is recessed below the top edge.  Iron down the seam allowance of the opening, and pin it for sewing.

 11.  Sew a seam all around the top edge of the basket, 1/8" from the top.  Then sew a second seam 1/4" from the first seam.  This gives your basket a firm top edge.  Iron it nice and smooth, and you are done!

It came out great!

Yes, I'm happy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Amaryllis in Bloom

Last week I showed the amazingly rapid growth of my pot of amaryllis bulbs; this is where I left off:

Here's what happened next:

Isn't life amazing?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Call for Suggestions--CLOSED!

This has been a very exciting day for me! I just found out that the "Hope" Hearts Project (which some of you helped me with in November) has been recognized TWICE on Craftster:  first, as inspiration for the current "Random Acts of Crafty Kindness" Challenge; and second, as one of the "Best of 2011" winners!  (That's what the new badge on the top right of the page is for.)

These are the hearts we sent to Amanda, remember?

Now I would like to ask you, dear readers, for your suggestions for a "random acts of crafty kindness" project.  I know some of you are Craftster members yourselves, and you might be planning something--care to give us a sneak peak?  What I would really like would be any suggestions you might have as to how I could use this blog for a random act of kindness.  A giveaway of some kind?  A contest?  If you have an idea for me, please leave a comment below.  Thanks!

UPDATE 1/29/12:  I have decided upon my project for the Random Acts of Kindness Challenge and have started crafting for it.  Submissions are due on Craftster near the end of February, so I will post all the details of what I am doing, at that time, here on my blog.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Heart Card Tutorial

If you want to see what other people are doing for Valentine's Day, check out the Linky Party/Blog Hop at Itsy Bitsy Paper.

A couple of days ago I came across a post on Lime Riot's blog that got me really excited!  She showed the CUTEST Valentine's Day cards that she made for the other moderaters at Craftster--you can go directly to that post HERE.  The cards feature a hand-sewn felt heart tied to the front, so it can be removed and tied elsewhere--it's a card and a gift in one!  Lime Riot, you are brilliant!!

I could hardly wait to make my own, and I posted the first card I made on my other blog, 365 Sewn Hearts.  Of course, I had to make more than one, and I want to show you the steps so you can make your own. 

Here's the card I will show you how to make:

1.  Gather your supplies.  You will need two different fabrics, heart templates in two sizes (just fold paper in half and cut a heart, like you did in grade school!), kitchen twine (or string, or ribbon), and iron-in interfacing.  Don't be afraid of interfacing!  Just get a package of light-weight iron-in Pellon, and follow the directions on the package.  It makes ALL the difference between something that looks homemade and something that looks professional.

2.  Cut your fabrics into a workable size, depending on how many hearts you want to make.  Cut interfacing slightly smaller than your fabrics, and iron it onto the backs of both fabrics.  Trace the heart shapes onto your fabrics.  I traced mine onto the back so the pencil line won't show.  My traced line will be my sewing line, so I cut out my hearts about 1/4" beyond the line.

Center the small heart on the front of the large heart, and sew it in place on the sewing machine.  The edges will be left raw.  (In the first heart card I made, I used Heat n Bond to "glue" the small heart in place--that works great, but I noticed that the white parts of the fabric looked dingy afterwards, so I didn't use it this time since my small heart has a lot of white.)

Cut the kitchen twine about 14" long.  Fold in half and tie a knot at the folded end.  This end will be sewn inside your heart, and the knot will ensure that the twine doesn't get pulled out.  Place the twine as shown in the picture, and use a small piece of tape to hold it in place.  You will remove the tape after sewing.

3.  Sew all around the edge of the heart on your pencil line, leaving an opening on one side for turning.  Be sure to let the ends of the twine extend through the opening--don't let them get sewn into the seam! Use a short stitch length so the curves of the heart will be smooth.

4.  Trim the excess fabric to about 1/8".  Be careful not to cut the twine.  Trim as close to the bottom point as you dare; if there is too much excess fabric there, you won't get a good point on your finished heart.  At the top of the heart, make a cut close to the sewing line where the two curves meet.

5.  Turn the heart right-side out.  Do yourself a favor and get some hemostats, like the ones in this picture!  They make turning SO easy!  Then, run the end of a chopstick or knitting needle around the inside of the heart to smooth out the curves, and iron it flat.  Be sure to turn under the unsewn edges of the opening and iron that nice and smooth.

6.  On the sewing machine, sew all around the heart, about 1/8" from the edge.

7.  Tie the twine in a bow, and you are done!  I decided to add a coil-less safety pin to these hearts (it just slides on without sewing), but you could sew a safety pin to the back, or use a jewelry pin.

8.  Make a card.  I used white card stock, cut in half to 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" and then folded in half to 4 1/4" x 5 1/2".  On top of that I glued a piece of colored typing paper, cut to 3 1/4" x 4 1/4".  Use rubber stamps to stamp any message you want.

Since this heart has a pin on the back, I just taped the pin to the card.  It's simple to do, and easy for the recipient to remove the heart.  The heart can be worn as a pin, or tied onto a purse or anything, really!

I love these cards so much!!
Thank you Lime Riot for being my inspiration!