Here’s a pretty transitional piece for crisp autumn weather. I combined gauzy voile with flannel to make a scarf that’s light as a feather, yet nice and warm. As a little bonus detail, it’s hand-quilted with variegated thread, which creates a lovely stitch pattern on the flannel side. (If you think hand-quilting is hard, I promise my video will change your mind!)
This week guest author Emma Jeffery from the blog Hello Beautiful is back to share a tutorial for creating personalized placemats.
We had an old set of placemats that were tatty, faded, peeling and well used but I couldn’t bear to part with them since they were a wedding gift almost 10 years ago. Happily, our marriage has fared much better over the last decade than the mats, but still, I knew there was a way to bring the old placemats back to life, restore their former beauty and weave them back into the memory of our very special wedding day.
When our middle daughter was getting ready to start kindergarten two years ago, we received a note from the school about the supplies she would need. Among them was a beach towel for her daily nap time. “A beach towel?!” I thought. Lying on a towel on a classroom floor certainly didn’t sound very nap-inducing to me, so I immediately decided to make my daughter her own portable nap mat and tiny pillow to keep in her cubby at school for her daily naps. She loved her handmade nap set then and at age 7 now, she still loves it and often includes it in the pillow forts she loves to build.
Her younger sister isn’t due to go to kindergarten until next year but since it’s back to school time for lots of others, I thought that a nap mat tutorial might be useful to all you parents with kiddos starting school. Read on for the details of this cozy project!
This finished nap mat is 50 X 34 inches and the little pillow finishes at 13 X 8 inches.
Materials for mat and pillow:
–2 yards of cotton fabric; I used 2 yards of Spoonflower cotton poplin printed with my daughter’s choice of Heidi Kenney’s Bunny Bunch design. (Bunnies have been much on our daughters’ minds lately as we’ve just adopted two of our own!)
–1 yard of snuggly backing material that coordinates with your cotton fabric; I used 1 yard of 62-inch wide pink Minky fabric bought from my local fabric shop but you could also choose flannel.
–quilt batting; I used 100% wool batting because it’s fluffier than other types, rendering it more comfy for napping. The crib size is large enough for this project.
–extra-wide ribbon or webbing, about 30-inches long; I used a length of 1-3/4 inch-wide ribbon trim I scored at the thrift store. It doesn’t exactly match the print, but I think it goes.
–coordinating perle cotton or embroidery floss for tying the mat
–polyfill stuffing for the pillow
Making the Nap Mat
Cut one piece for the top of the mat from the printed poplin measuring 51 X 35 inches. Cut one piece from the backing fabric measuring 51 X 35 inches. Cut a piece of wool batting measuring 51 X 35 inches.
Step 1: Layer the poplin, backing, and batting together in one “sandwich” in this order: Batting on the bottom, then backing with right side facing up, then poplin with right side facing down. Pin all these layers together around the perimeter, leaving an 8-inch opening at one short side of the sandwich.
Step 2: Next, you’ll be marking a point for the strap on the other short side–that is, the short side that is opposite the side you left the opening in previously. Mark a point about about one-quarter of the way in from the edge with a washable marker in a light color. (I love this use for washable markers!) I was apparently a bit math-challenged when I marked a quarter of the way in as 11 inches below! One-quarter of 35 inches is 8-3/4 inches. (Ahem.) Pin the short edge of the ribbon or webbing you’re using for the strap, lining up the raw edges of the strap and the mat sandwich. Take care to keep the ribbon well out of the way of the seams you’ll be stitching next.
Step 3: Stitch around the perimeter of the mat. Begin your stitching at one edge of the opening you left using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. I used a universal 80/12 needle, 2.5 stitch length, and a tension setting of 4 on my machine without problems, but you may wish to experiment with your machine’s settings before stitching to be sure this works for you, especially if you haven’t sewn with Minky before.
Remember that strap pinned into the sandwich, and be sure you’re not sewing it into the seam!
Once you’ve sewn around the mat perimeter, clip the corners to minimize bulk.
Step 4: Carefully turn the mat inside out and poke out the corners with a chopstick, knitting needle, or point turner. Press the edges with an iron, pressing the seam allowances of the opening you left to the inside.
Step 5: Now you’re going to edgestitch along the perimeter of the mat. If your machine has a walking foot, you may want to use it so that the layers feed evenly and you don’t get a lot of wrinkles and tucks. Stitch about 1/8 of an inch away from the edge of the mat all the way around.
Edgestitching here will strengthen the seam a bit more, enclose the opening you left, and will also create a bit of a poofy edge that to me looks pleasingly like piping. Once again, be careful that you don’t stitch the loose strap into your seam.
Step 6: Now we’re going to tie the mat to stabilize the mat layers so they don’t shift as your child uses it. If you’ve never used this method of quilting, it’s super-easy and fast. The first step is to mark the dots using the washable marker so you know where your ties are going to be. Four-inch intervals will do the trick, so I’m marking a 4-inch grid all over the poplin side of the mat. Note that since neither 50 nor 34 is evenly divided by 4, there will actually be a 5-inch gap between all edges of the mat and the first row of dots. Make the first dot five inches up and five inches over from the bottom corner. The dot next to that will be 4 inches away, then the next dot will be 4 inches away and so on, ending the row with a dot that is 5 inches away from the other edge of the mat.
Continue marking dots. After marking the first row of dots, I used an acrylic quilting ruler to mark the next row, lining up the dots I marked previously with the 4-inch mark on the ruler. Do this until the entire mat is marked with a grid of dots.
Step 7: Thread an embroidery needle with the perle cotton or embroidery floss. Take the first stitch on the first dot of a row, beginning and ending the stitch on the poplin side of the mat.
Continue along the row, taking a stitch through each of the dots on the same row. There’s no need to cut the tail of the thread or to cut between each dot yet. You can stitch an entire row first, then trim the tail to a couple of inches once you’ve made a whole row of stitches.
Step 8: Tie the little threads over each of these dots, being careful not to tie so tightly that the fabric is bunched up in the center. Tie a whole row before you proceed to the next row. You can either trim the tails at the end of each row so they’re not so long and dangly, trim them all at once at the end, or even leave them long if you like how it looks.
Making the pillow
We’re not quite done with the mat yet since we have to finish the strap that will help to bundle everything together. I’ve opted to configure the strap closure so that my child can wrap her little pillow up with the mat, so this means I have to make the pillow first.
For the pillow, cut two pieces of poplin measuring 13-1/2 X 8-1/2 inches.
Step 1: Pin the two pieces of poplin right sides together and pin, leaving a 4-inch opening for turning. Stitch around the perimeter, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Trim the corners to minimize bulk.
Step 2: Turn the pillow inside out and poke out the corners. Press the edges. Stuff the pillow with polyfill so that it feels like a comfy bed pillow when you’re done stuffing and not hard and bouncy. Try to poke the stuffing into the corners, too.
Step 3: After stuffing the pillow, hand-stitch the opening closed using an invisible or ladder stitch.
Step 1: First, finish the raw edge of the strap. Since I used ribbon for my strap, I was able to fold in the raw edge about a quarter-inch, then fold it down another quarter-inch again to encase the raw edge, then stitch it down. Webbing may be too thick to do this, though. You may wish instead to zigzag stitch the edge to keep it from fraying, or use a product like Fray-Check. I’ve heard you can also melt the edges of webbing, but that sounds scary! I haven’t tried that.
Step 2: With the edge of the strap finished, it’s time to roll up the mat so that you can determine where to place the Velcro. Fold the mat in half lengthwise so that the strap is sticking out one of the very short sides. Begin rolling it up at the end opposite the strap like you would a sleeping bag, leaving the strap loose. Stack the pillow on top of the mat, then wrap the strap around this bundle. Wrap it tight enough to be neat but not so tightly that your little one can’t manage to get it all bundled up again.
Step 3: Decide where you want the Velcro to be placed on the straps where they overlap. Cut two pieces of Velcro–one each of the hook and loop sides–about 1-1/2 inches long. Place pins on the two sides of the strap at the top and bottom edges of where these two 1-1/2 inch Velcro pieces will be sewn.
Step 4: Fit the first piece of Velcro inside the first set of two pins and stitch around the edges. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end to be sure that the Velcro won’t come loose as the mat is used. Repeat with the second piece of Velcro.
Need more DIY projects? Check out our Back to School DIYs roundup for 41 awesome projects to get your creativity flowing!
I love English paper piecing and fabrics with great big prints, but these two things don’t always play so nicely together. So I decided to experiment with super-sizing some traditional paper pieced hexagons. I love the way they showcase these three beautiful designs from Spoonflower designer Holli Zollinger: Coral Lined Mosaic, Fish Scales Slate Full, and Diamond Circles Aqua, and the chevron lines of quilting make a nice frame.
Make cute and simple fabric from your drawings!
Get some ordinary printer paper and your favorite brand of black marker or art pen. For this project, a thicker-lined pen is best. Decide what you'd like to draw–here, I'm drawing a bunch of smiling little kids–and draw
your subject all over the paper, repeatedly.
Don't worry if some of the drawings look a little off, just keep drawing—you'll get better as you repeat the image. Try a few variations as you go. Once you have a ton of little images all over the page, take a pencil and circle the ones you like best.
Take a second sheet of paper and lay it on top of the first paper. If you can't see the lines you drew through it, you may have to hold both sheets up and tape to a window. Grab your crayons and "color in" the drawings you like on the second paper. Color loosely, a bit lightly, and use blocky color. Let your coloring go a bit out beyond the lines if you like.
Scan both images at 300dpi and open in Photoshop.
First, make sure the background of the crayon image is pure white. We'll use Replace Color for this.
Click Image > Adjustments > Replace Color, make sure Preview is checked, and set Fuzziness to 25.
Click on the background of the image in the Preview window—this is the hue that appears next to the word "Color".
Now drag the Lightness slider all the way to the right—the "Result" box will turn white. You should see your image background turn bright white as well. (If you start to lose image detail in the crayoned parts, adjust Fuzziness to 15 or 10.) Click OK.
Now's a good time to crop your crayon image. I like to leave around 1-2cm at the top and left sides, and crop closely on the bottom and right. This will usually make the repeat flow nicely once it's uploaded to Spoonflower.
You can also open Image > Adjustments > Hue & Saturation if you want to quickly tweak your colorway.
Zoom (+) way, way into the drawings you've decide to work with. Using the Magic Wand tool, hold down Shift and click all the black parts of the image until it's completely selected, then copy what you've selected to your clipboard. Just work with one little drawing at a time here.
Head back over to your crayon image and Paste the drawing as a new layer. Move it so it's positioned on top of its colored-in background, and use Edit > Transform > Rotate if you need to line them up better.
Repeat with the remaining drawings you've colored. Flatten all the Layers of your image and if you like, open Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast—bumping both up will give you a more vibrant fabric, lowering them a touch will give a more muted image, which can be nice for a vintage look.
Open Image > Image Size and set the print size for your design. I like to set my image dpi to Spoonflower's default of 150dpi here, too.
Save and upload to Spoonflower! You can preview your pattern in different repeats—here I've decided half-brick is best. You're all done!
About Our Guest Blogger
Anda Corrie is an American illustrator, Etsy designer, and émigré living in Berlin, Germany with her small family. In her spare time she obsesses over vintage children’s books, makes homemade schnapps, sews tiny dresses that her 4-year-old stubbornly refuses to wear, and draws. Visit her Spoonflower shop for some lovely hand drawn fabric designs and her Etsy shop, Boosterseat.
I’m the mother of three daughters who, to varying degrees, are still interested in having their mama make them clothes. Actually, it’s almost a competitive sport around here where handmade clothing equals love points. If one girl gets something made for her, someone else is bound to be pretty cranky about it and demand that she also get a new dress, skirt, or what have you to even up the spread of love.
This means that it’s very useful to be able to make things up quickly sometimes. I do have quite a few lovely, more complicated children’s clothing patterns that I make when I know that I have the stamina for all that tracing and fitting together of many pattern pieces–and most likely, for doing it at least twice for my two youngest daughters. But more often than not, I wing it with simple clothing for them that I can make quickly, more than one time, and without much more work than taking accurate measurements of impatient little people.
This simple shirred sundress that I made for my youngest daughter, Phoebe, is just such a simple project, taking more time to type about than it did to actually make it up. I used a single yard of Spoonflower organic cotton sateen printed with Sally Harmon's — aka, Boris Thumbkin’s — dear Train design, and I had a bit of fabric left over to use in patchwork projects down the road. Here’s how to make up a sweet and easy shirred sundress for a little girl in your life.
First, start with washing, drying, and pressing your yard of fabric. Trim off the unprinted selvage edges of your yard.
This week guest author Emma Jeffery from the blog Hello Beautiful shows us how she turned her grandmother’s handwritten recipes into tea towels for her own kitchen. Read the how-to below, or, jump to our up-to-date video tutorial from Spoonflower member Theresa at the bottom of the post. She’ll take you through each step from Emma’s tea towel concept, so you’ll learn how to edit your scanned recipe in Photoshop, all the way through to how to sew up the tea towel with a finished double-hem.
Emma: For a woman who keeps a newspaper from the day she was born, my mum has surprisingly few keepsakes or handwritten memorabilia from her own mother who passed away in 1999. When I asked her to trawl through her old papers and files, she managed to find three handwritten recipes from my grandmother. They appear to be the only remaining examples of her handwriting left in the world, and they are therefore as precious as they are priceless.
Guest author Emma Jeffery from the blog Hello Beautiful offers a tutorial for an easy summer maxi skirt.
I’m trying to think ahead and get ready for the summer season by making a few items which will be perfect to wear in the summer sun. It seems like maxi skirts are still a hot trend this year and Spoonflower’s cotton silk blend is the perfect fabric to create a soft and floaty skirt with an elegant drape and a beautiful sheen. I’ve sewn with this fabric a few times before and it’s very user friendly even for the beginner sewer. With a brand new needle, it sews up just as easily as cotton. [Read more…] about Make an easy summer maxi skirt
This week guest author Emma Jeffery from the blog Hello Beautiful shows us how she turned a family keepsake into a beautiful silk scarf.
I have never really been the kind of person who collects trinkets, hoards keepsakes or has many treasured family heirlooms tucked away in the attic, but now that I have children of my own, I am increasingly aware of the importance of keeping items that will one day tell our family’s story. Our family history is no more, or less, remarkable than that of the next, but it is unique in its detail and its narrative is a gift for future generations to treasure.
That said, I am not naturally predisposed to keeping things that do not serve a practical purpose so I’m trying to think of ways to preserve the memories of events and people without cluttering up my house with boxes that are never opened or with figurines that sit on a shelf and gather dust.
When my mum told me she was in possession of a newspaper published on the day she was born I was immediately inspired to think of ways to release it from its captive state at the bottom of a dusty drawer and to bring the printed material to life once more. After all, what good are treasures or keepsakes if we don’t stop to reflect upon them once in awhile?
My mum was born in England in June 1944, the day after the Normandy Landings when the allied troops invaded northern France, resulting in the decisive allied victory that marked the beginning of the end of the Second World War. The newspaper is only 8 pages long (presumably because of the shortages at the time) but despite this, I felt there was a wealth of material: adverts, news columns, satirical cartoons, movie theater announcements, letters, crosswords…
I decided to take photos of different parts of the paper that caught my eye and although there was no ignoring the obvious war reports and political references, I found I was drawn to aspects of the paper that highlighted regular humanity during wartime. For example, there was an advert for soap which asked the readers to consider, ‘Will he find you as young and lovely when he comes home again?” I also took photos of the date printed on the paper (my mum’s birthday!)
With roughly 100 photos of different parts of the newspaper, I transferred them onto my computer and used Picasa to create a collage of my favorite images. In the collage option in Picasa, you are able to set a custom size so I put in 36” x 36” as I intended on making a silk scarf of these dimensions printed on to one yard of Spoonflower’s beautiful silk crepe de chine.
I then positioned and repositioned the photos I had taken until I was happy with the design. At this point the colors were still their original yellowing newspaper with black text, but using Picasa’s Duo-Tone option under the image processing tab, I was able to select two colors for my print.
Though I tried a few test swatches before printing my yardage, all the color options I chose were within shades of my mum’s favorite colors, to make this scarf really personal for her.
This is beautiful fabric with such a special print that I know the scarf will become a family heirloom. And whilst the original newspaper may soon be returned to the bottom of the drawer and forgotten once more, the scarf will be worn and enjoyed, and will help tell part of our story for generations to come.
About Our Guest Blogger
I'm an obsessive sewer, often leaping into projects with more enthusiasm than talent, more bravado than skill and more good luck than anything else. This technique has worked well for me so far and more often than not, I make things I love, even if they're not absolutely perfect. And though I'm no expert, I have a passion for fabric, color and design. I know what I like and what I like makes me smile.
I'm so pleased that Susan and Adrianna at Crafterhours invited us to participate in their annual Skirt Week series this year. From the many times I was teased as a girl for preferring long prairie skirts over jeans, til today when moms at my daughters' schools frequently ask me why I'm "so dressed up," I just love skirts. It's been really fun this week to have an excuse to think about them so much!
Susan asked me to share some of my favorite Spoonflower fabric designs that work well for skirts and I certainly have my own opinions and preferences. But since the Spoonflower office is jam-packed with sewing enthusiasts, it seemed a shame not to ask them, too, and they didn't disappoint. Offering their favorite design picks are Holly, our operations manager, Melodie and Allie, both printer operators, and Caroline, our graphic designer. We were all in pretty close agreement about our favorite types of fabric for skirts–more about that later–but we all chose very different designs. Some of their favorites were designs that even I hadn't run across before on Spoonflower, and I hope you enjoy them, too. Let's get started with some pretty designs!
Holly standing at left is modeling a pretty summery skirt made up in linen/cotton canvas printed with Spoonflower designer Holli Zollinger's design, "Diamond Circles." (That's the aqua colorway shown on Holly's skirt above.) Holli uses a lot of geometric shapes and stylized motifs in her designs and she's a Spoonflower staff–and Spoonflower customer!–favorite designer. Chevrons, large-scale plus signs, and highly stylized natural motifs like flowers and raindrops are all featured in Holli Zollinger's designs and make up into really striking, sophisticated skirts.
Pictured next to Holly on the right, Melodie is wearing a skirt made from organic cotton sateen printed with a design by KristopherK called "French Stripe." KristopherK is another popular designer on Spoonflower with a more subdued and romantic design style. Personally, I love KristopherK's lovely "Magnolia Little Gem" series which features white flowers falling across the width of their solid-colored backgrounds.
Caroline, shown here standing outside the Spoonflower office front door, is wearing an A-line skirt she made from organic cotton sateen printed up with her own design, "Red Eyed Susan." Caroline actually has quite a few designs she's worked up in her Spoonflower shop, and has been giving her new sewing machine a workout using lots of prints of her self-designed, yoga-inspired favorites. When it comes to the types of prints she tends to like, she says, "The bolder, the better!" Her skirt pick from the Spoonflower marketplace is a kawaii style print by Zesti. Tiny deer printed onto an electric yellow skirt, anyone?
Amy Peppler Adams is the Seattle based designer behind the Pennycandy front, and her style is circus- and retro-culture inspired with bold type fonts, jukebox song labels and 1960's coffee cups rendered in primary colors. These are bold choices for clothing items, but I think summer is a great time for playing around with novelty prints for clothing. Novelty prints are also known as "conversational prints" in the fabric world. Don't you imagine conversations about your colorful skirts at the farmer's market, neighborhood cook-outs, and ice cream shops?
Next up is me wearing a wrap skirt made from organic cotton sateen (care to guess one of the Spoonflower staff's favorite fabric types for skirts?) printed with Thebline's "ABP Chandelier" design. I love its simple blue on white palette, but now feel like a complete dork for being the fourth person in this post to be wearing a black shirt with their Spoonflower skirts. That was definitely NOT planned!
My next skirt will be made up in another Thebline design called "ABP par avion" which looks just like the pattern trimming air mail envelopes, don't you think? I've got two yards of this design printed on organic cotton sateen sitting on my dining room table right now, suggesting that it will figure prominently in my upcoming long weekend.
And all these mentions of organic cotton sateen bring me to the subject of fabric types that we like to use for our skirt projects around here. When Spoonflower first started, we printed only onto quilting-weight cotton. This fabric is most commonly recommended for lightweight home-dec projects including, of course, quilts but I think that quilting cotton has its place in the skirt fabric pantheon, too. I have a few quilting-cotton skirts that I think of as everyday skirts because they're hard-wearing, extremely washable, cheaper to make up, and I don't mind if they get dirty. If I'm wearing a quilting-cotton skirt, it doesn't bother me so much when one of my girls sidles up to me to sneakily wipe off her dirty hand or runny nose. (Ok, actually I do kind of mind about the noses. That's gross however washable my skirt is.)
But sturdiness isn't all that's needed in a skirt. I find that quilting-weight cotton tends to produce a stiffer skirt that doesn't drape as well as other fabric types. It stands out from the body a bit rather than hanging in nice folds or swirling about my legs. Most of us skirt sewers at Spoonflower tend to use our organic cotton sateen or linen/cotton canvas for skirt projects instead. The organic cotton sateen drapes just beautifully, has a lovely, subtle sheen, and measures a nice, wide 56-inches across. The linen/cotton canvas is also a nice choice for more structured types of skirts; it holds pleats and crisp edges beautifully and is a generous 54-inches wide. If you really want a flowy, feminine look, cotton/silk, cotton voile (with a lining), or silk crepe de chine are luxurious choices. Just tell your kiddos there is to be no nose-wiping, please.
I hope you all enjoy the Spoonflower staff picks for skirts. Now on to some pretty weekend skirt-sewing projects!