Do you ever find yourself scrolling through your Instagram feed “oohing and ahhing” at all of the photos of handmade garments stitched up by sewists around the world? This month, all eyes are on Me-Made-May (#mmmay17), a challenge designed to encourage people who sew/knit/crochet/refashion/upcycle garments for themselves to wear and love them more. Today, Zoe Edwards, the maker behind this social challenge and author of “So Zo…What Do You Know,” stops by the blog to give us an inside scoop on the hashtag that is inspiring us all!
Many artists are inspired by their surroundings, and for designer and maker Solvejg Makaretz , that space is Yarmouth on the coast of Maine. Solvejg’s designs channel both natural elements of the coast and cultural elements of her Scandinavian upbringing in her company Tröskö Design, featuring handmade home goods. Get to know this Martha Stewart American Made finalist in our interview below and visit her shop online and on Etsy.
My day starts with: “walking our dog in the woods. This gives me time to follow the small changes of the season up close. After breakfast my days are a wild mix of cutting, sewing, drawing, cooking, ordering, shipping, photographing, doing chores and having at least two cups of strong coffee to go with it.”
Hazy winter days are upon us in North Carolina, but our latest featured maker has us dreaming of tropical destinations. James Hackett, a fashion designer and small business owner, hails from the island of Trinidad and Tobago, just north of Venezuela in the Caribbean. His fresh and colorful designs turn Spoonflower fabrics into wearable art as dresses, leggings, bags and more. Get to know James and his business Lush Kingdom below.
My day starts with: “Work to be honest. I like to get up and go early, so I tend to leave anything I have to get done for the morning. This would be working in Illustrator or drawings mostly.”
My day starts with a bit of a mom hustle, feeding two boys, getting one to school and the other back down for a nap and then hit the ground running with either a shift at the store, exercise, or checking things off my list.
Whether you’re headed on vacation or a post-graduation trip, traveling can sometimes be challenging when you’re not prepared. We’ve got you covered with our round up 5 DIYs — from travel pillows to sleep masks that you can make with as little as a fat quarter! Before you head out to your next adventure (or spend way too much money on a fancy neck pillow at the duty-free shop), check out these easy travel craft projects.
What travel accessories do you swear by? Let us know in the comments!
Today kicks off the first day of our second annual 12 Days of Design! We're delivering 12 days of design tips directly to your inbox to help you create your first, or next, textile design! If you haven't signed up, it's not too late–sign up now!
Sometimes the hardest part of fabric design is just getting started. It's common to feel completely uninspired, but luckily there are a million ways to get the creative juices flowing! We'll start this year's series by sharing our favorite places and ways to find inspiration. How do you get inspired? Please share in the comments below!
1. Visit a downtown: Hit the streets in a urban area to be inspired by the city buzz and bright lights!
Materials & tools
Let’s start first with the list of materials that you will need to finish your quilt. You can collect these materials and get everything ready so you are ready to sew when your fabric arrives.
- Quilt Top: Your Cheater Quilt Fabric (1 yard) ordered from Spoonflower
- Quilt Backing & Binding: 2 yards of coordinating fabric. I ordered a coordinating gradient fabric from Spoonflower for the backing and binding. You could also use 2 yards of a solid color. If you choose another fabric, it needs to be the same width (56 inches) as your quilt top and should be a similar weight.
- Batting: 40 x 60 inches. I like 100% cotton batting for my quilts. My favorite is Warm & Natural by the Warm Company.
- Masking tape
- Large safety pins (you need at least 100)
- Rotary cutter, mat and ruler
- Coordinating sewing thread
- Sharp sewing scissors
- Sewing needle. I recommend a small embroidery needle because they have a large eye which is easy to thread.
- Your sewing machine
- Seam ripper (because you know you will need one)
- Optional. If you want to tie your quilt instead of machine quilting, you will want to get embroidery thread or perle cotton in a coordinating color.
I want to start out by saying right away that there is no “right” way to make a quilt. I am going to give you the steps I used to make this quilt, but there are many different ways to put them together. I used the sewing machine to assemble and do the quilting for my quilt, but you can also hand quilt or tie your quilt. I will talk about those options in the next lesson.
Setting up your machine.
Make sure your sewing machine is in good working order. Take a minute to brush away the dust and lint. It is always a good idea to put in a new sewing machine needle when you start a big project. For this project, you need just a basic needle for mid-weight fabrics.
Choose a thread color and wind a bobbin or two. For my quilt, I chose to use a rainbow variegated thread in the bobbin for everything and I switched colors for the top thread to match the colored block I was quilting.
Make sure you have plenty of space. This will be a somewhat large and unwieldy piece of fabric to be stitching. Make sure you have extra table space to the side and back of your machine so that you can move it around freely.
If your machine has a walking foot, you might consider using it for this project as they are designed to help with thick layers of fabric and will help keep the layers from shifting as you quilt. Here is a post that tells you more about walking feet and how to use them.
Quilt skills and vocabulary.
These are some basic sewing skills and vocabulary to review before you start making your quilt. If you don’t feel confident, practice with some scrap fabric before you dive into your quilt. Potholders make great practice quilt projects!
Straight stitch. Set up your machine to stitch a basic straight stitch. For my machine, I like a stitch length of about 2.5, which is about 10 stitches to the inch. Make a swatch with a couple of scraps of fabric and batting and see if the stitches look the way you want them too.
Pivot. I traced concentric squares around the center, middle row and outside edge of all of the patchwork blocks with quilting. This means I am going to need to pivot at a lot of corners to make those squares. To pivot, slow down as you get right to the end of the quilting line. Stop with the needle in the fabric. Pick up the presser foot, rotate the fabric 90 degrees, and put the presser foot back down to continue stitching.
Backtack. Backtacking means to make 3-4 stitches in reverse at the beginning and end of your stitching line. This reinforces the end of the stitching. We will use this when putting on the quilt binding.
Selvedge. The selvedge edge of the fabric are the finished woven edges that follow the lengthwise grain of the fabric.
Binding. The quilt binding is the narrow strip of fabric around the outside edge of the quilt that you use to finish off the raw edges. For this quilt, I used the extra backing fabric to make the binding as well.
Preparing your fabrics.
As soon as you have your quilt fabrics, take a minute to admire them and then wash, dry and press each fabric. I always pre-wash fabrics because I want to make sure that if they are going to shrink or change in any way that they do it before I sew. For sateen fabric, Spoonflower recommends to machine wash warm or cool on a gentle/delicate setting, using phosphate-free detergent.
Finishing your quilt.
The first step in the quilting process is to trim your fabrics to size.
- Quilt top. Trim away the selvedges and extra unprinted edges. Set this aside.
- Backing. Cut a piece from the 2 yds of backing fabric that is 56” (full width) x 40 inches. We want the backing to be a little larger than the front to start.
- Binding. Fold the remaining piece of backing fabric in half, matching the selvedges. We will cut these pieces doubled, perpendicular to the selvedges. Using the rotary cutter and ruler, cut 4 strips that are each 3 inches wide. Trim away the unprinted edges and selvedges.
The remaining backing fabric you can set aside for another use.
Laying out the quilt layers.
You will need a large table or other flat space to lay out your quilt. I don’t have a table that’s large enough, so I end up using the well-swept hardwood floor in my dining room. Lay the backing fabric face down on the table. Using small strips of masking tape, tape the corners and sides of the backing fabric to the table. Pull it smooth and tight, but don’t pull so hard that you distort the fabric. Taping down the fabric allows you to get all of the layers smooth without adding any wrinkles or puckers underneath where you can’t see it. Add a couple of extra strips of tape to mark where the edges of the printing are on the selvedge edges of your
backing fabric. This will help you line up the top layer.
Place the batting on top of the backing fabric. Starting from the center, smooth the batting all the way to the edges. The batting will want to stick to the backing fabric, so you may have to pick it up and lay it back down if you have large puckers or wrinkles.
Place the quilt top face up on the top. Placing the quilt top takes just a little patience to get it aligned just right. Since your backing fabric is exactly the same printed width as the top, you want to alight carefully so that the top isn’t hanging over into the unprinted area. Use the extra tape marks to help line it up. Again, starting in the center, smooth the fabric all the way to the edges. Be careful not to distort or skew the fabric. Patience will pay off.
Using the safety pins, pin through all of the layers about every 4-6 inches. I put about 9 pins in each patchwork block and then put a pin every 6 inches around, placed about 3 inches in from the outside edge. Use lots of pins. They are going to keep everything from shifting as you quilt it.
Choose your quilting.
It is important to do something to hold all of the layers of the quilt together and that is where quilting or tying comes in. You have 3 options for quilting your quilt: by machine, by hand, or tying.
Machine quilting. I machine quilted my quilt by stitching concentric squares in each patchwork block. I chose a top thread color to match the color of the block and used rainbow variegated thread in the bobbin for everything.
I started quilting with the two blocks in the center and then worked towards the outside. Use a straight stitch and backtack at the start and stop. For each block, I started with the small square in the center and worked to the outside, stitching around each edge of the square and pivoting at each corner.
Some tips for machine quilting.
- Roll up the part of the quilt you are not working on. This rolled edge will give you an easy way to hang on to the quilt and will keep the extra fabric out of the way.
- I use both hands to guide the fabric, holding the quilt rolls on both sides of the needle and pulling it slightly tight from side to side. I think this helps keep it from forming little puckers under the needle.
- Be patient. The layers of fabric will want to shift a bit, especially when you get to the corners where the start and stop of your stitching meets. Stitching slowly and taking time to smooth everything out will help.
Hand quilting. You can choose to hand-stitch your quilting lines. There is a great tutorial here with tips to get you started with hand quilting.
Tying. Tying is probably the quickest way to finish your quilt. Use a long piece of embroidery thread doubled over. From the front side, make a small stitch (1/8 inch) through all of the layers of the quilt, leaving a 2 inch tail. Stitch again very close to your first stitch and pull the thread through again to the front. Trim so you have another 2 inch tail. Tie the two ends together using a square knot. You want to make ties about every 4 inches all over the surface of your quilt.
Baste the outside edge.
When you are done quilting, switch the stitch length on your machine to be slightly longer and stitch through all layers about 1/4 inch from the outside raw edge of your quilt. Trim away the excess batting and backing to match the quilt top. You can remove the safety pins.
Join and press the binding.
Join the binding strips together end to end, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance to make one long strip. Press the seam allowances open. Now fold the binding strip in half, matching the long edges of the binding strip together and press.
Stitch the binding with a mitered corner.
Set the quilt on a table face up. Starting in the middle of one side, match the raw edge of the binding strip to the raw edge of the quilt. The folded edge will be towards the center. Pin the strip in place until you are 1/2 inch from the corner. Place a pin at 1/2 in from the corner to mark where you should stop stitching. Starting about 1/2 inch from the end of the strip, stitch 1/2 inch from the raw edge until you reach your stop mark. Don’t forget to backtack at the beginning and end.
To make the mitered corner, fold the unsewn tail of quilt binding straight up, so that its raw edge is parallel with the next side of the quilt we are going to stitch. Right at the corner where you stopped sewing, there will now be a 45 degree fold. Fold the binding down, so the next fold matches the edge of the quilt top behind it and its raw edge is aligned with the next side of the quilt. Pin the corner folds and edge of the quilt and then stitch this new side, stopping again 1/2 inch from the corner. Repeat for all sides of the quilt. When you reach the beginning of the binding, overlap the ends, trim away the extra binding fabric and join the lines of stitching.
To finish the binding, fold it over and turn it towards the back of the quilt. Use a needle and thread with small slip stitches to secure the folded edge of the binding to the back of the quilt, covering the raw edge and the line of stitching. If you don’t know how to do a slip stitch, there is a nice tutorial here.
When you get to the corners, the miters should just fold into place in the front and you just need to make a little tuck to make a matching miter on the back and stitch it down as you go.
Please show us your finished quilts by sharing a photo using hashtag#SpoonChallenge on your favorite social media outlet! We would love to see them.
At least one Sunday a month, we like to take some time out to share a unique sewing experience that stands out a bit from the rest in a series we call "Sunday Sew." This month, Spoonflower staffer Allie stops by to talk about her experience sewing up a sophisticated Sprout Patterns Laurel Blouse, which she wore on her trip to NYC for Martha Stewart's American Made 2015 Awards!
Allie: I had the opportunity to stitch up my first project by Sprout Patterns a few weeks ago in preparation to attend Martha Stewart's American Made awards. While I've done quite a bit of sewing, when it comes to apparel I tend to stick to the most basic silhouettes. For the event, I wanted to look polished and professional, while still remaining comfortable.
I chose the Laurel Blouse by Colette Patterns printed on Silky Faille and it did not disappoint. I opted for a simple design created by Andrea Lauren. Her black and white Animal Constellations printed beautifully and was exactly what I wanted–a quirky yet sophisticated design unique to Spoonflower's crafty community.
If you haven't tried Sprout, or sewing apparel, you certainly should! It was super easy to create a custom top that I was able to tailor slightly for a better fit. By ordering a few sizes larger than I normally wear, I had the flexibility to adjust the side seams to achieve the fit I was looking for. Being creative with your order and sizing allows you to "hack" your Sprout Pattern and be able to adjust sizing and tailor your garment to fit perfectly. The instructions were clear and easy to understand and allowed me to make a unique top in no time. I also had the original PDF with all sizes so I can make another one in months to come! Have you tried Sprout? What is your favorite Patternmaker featured on the site? Please share in the comments below!
When I was contacted to participate in the blog tour for Heather Jones' new book Quilt Local I was over the moon with excitement! While I have dabbled a little in quilting, I am definitely a novice and tend to admire the skill from a far. What I love about Heather's approach to quilting is her ability to find inspiration in ordinary environments and translate that inspiration to a beautiful and modern quilt.
My favorite project from her new book is Dayton no.2 found on page 80. The simplicity of the quilt coupled with the bold swiss cross graphic makes for a visually appealing yet simple quilt–a homeware sure to become a staple for years to come. I love how she used three colors in this quilt to give it a color-blocked effect. Her inspiration picture goes to show how the most simple image can translate into something beautiful.
In addition to choosing my favorite project, I was asked to snap a photo of something inspiring me in my environment to share. And I'll be honest, I stressed way more than I should in finding a pretty shot. I knew I had a trip to NYC coming up and thought what better place to find inspiration. But then found myself hours before my flight and unhappy with all my photos. There I sat enjoying my breakfast on The High Line stressing about what I would share when I realized the geometric lines of the bench I was on, topped with the perfect yellow leaf, was the inspiration I was looking for! I love the contrast in colors and can picture a simple quilt with a colorful appliqué.
Eager to get your hands on a copy? We're giving one lucky winner the chance to take home their very own copy along with two yards of Kona! Enter by Sunday, November 15th for a chance to win. The winner will be contacted via email on November 16th. Good luck!
Have you always dreamt of designing fabric but didn't think you had the skills or tools? Samantha Lanier of Live Laugh Lanier visits the blog to share how anyone can be a textile designer by following her simple steps to creating your first surface design!
This past year I discovered the magic that is Spoonflower. As most of us can admit, the initial concept of creating our own fabric is super exciting; however, it quickly becomes SCARY for those who have no design experience and who don’t have access to top notch programs like Photoshop. I’m here to tell you that even ‘amateurs’ like us can create a basic-yet-fabulous surface pattern using the advice and user-friendly programming at Spoonflower. Your allies: creativity, GIMP, and repeating tile options.
First things first…THINK SIMPLE. I know we all adore those seamlessly overlapping patterns, but as a beginner it’s okay to take baby steps. To be honest, some of my favorite patterns are those that provide visual simplicity, slight imperfection, and a real handmade look.
Here’s how I take a simple handmade sketch and turn it into a repeated, color pattern:
I begin with a pencil and then trace over the sketch with a fine point pen.
Download GIMP. Click ‘file’>’new’ and enter 450×450 pixels/inch. Click ‘file’>’open as layer’>’original’>’open’. Click ‘layers’>’scale layer’ and enter 300×300 pixels/inch. To save your work for Spoonflower, click ‘file’>’export as’ >’name.jpg’>’export’.
*Color option: Highlight areas to be colored with the ‘wand selection tool’ and fill them in with color using the ‘paint can tool’. GIMP will provide every color option for you if you set the color square prior to using your paint can. Be sure that areas selected are completely closed to ensure the color remains in the intended area.
Log on to Spoonflower. Follow the directions for uploading a design. Navigate to your design library and select which repeat pattern highlights your design best. Be sure to save your work! There you go!
Note: These dimensions correspond to the fabric I’m using in this tutorial. To change the size of your image you will just need to increase/decrease the dimensions accordingly. It took me three tries to get the size I wanted by saving the file, adding it to my design library on Spoonflower, and viewing it using the repeat pattern of my choice.
Only 4 days later, my beautiful Linen Cotton Canvas Ultra arrived and I dare say that the result is basic yet fabulous!
What did I do with this lovely yard of fabric, you ask? Well I turned it into a magnetic seat cushion of course! Here’s how:
Magnetic Seat Cushion
You know all of those glorious industrial metal chairs everyone is obsessed with these days?! Yes, I am the proud owner of a few myself. I absolutely love the metal; however, when my family isn’t at the table, I relocate my extras into different rooms. One is currently placed in my reading nook. I love the metal look, though for this room it would benefit from a softer, more cozy look. What better way to do so than adding a cushion, am I right? My recent addition of cotton buds into my decor inspired the design for my fabric. Next, all I had to do was create a basic cushion cover and attach magnets.
To do so, I folded the fabric in half and cut out the dimensions specific to my chair size. Using the scraps, I cut 4 small squares and sewed them to the inside of half the fabric, being sure to place 1 round magnet between the layers.
After I had my template with magnet pouches attached, I folded the fabric in half again (patternside facing in) and sewed both sides. I then turn the cover rightside out and stuffed a 1inch thick piece of craft foam (precut) inside. All that was left to do was sew the top edge and stick it to my chair!
I hope you enjoyed this twopart tutorial and good luck on all your upcoming Spoonflower adventures!
About Our Guest Blogger
Samantha is an up-and-coming blogger from Central Florida. When not maintaining her career as a speech-language pathologist, Samantha is blogging about the everyday aspects of her life as a newly-wed, career woman, and new homeowner. Her blog 'Live Laugh Lanier' provides a variety of posts for readers including recipes, home decor, DIY projects, beauty tips, style guides, travel tips, and lifestyle advice.