Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Truth About Change

This doily was a wedding present from a family friend who passed away this year.

When I went back tonight to read my New Year's post from last January, I had to laugh. My goal for this year was to be less of a perfectionist, to be more "out of control." Oh, the irony. I had no idea how out of control I was going to be in 2015... 

A larger Cotton + Steel version of my mini typewriter quilt (tutorial here)

There were so many good things this year. My book, Sew Organized for the Busy Girl, was released. I attended my first Quilt Market. I packed up 37 years worth of memories and moved to the Texas hill country with my family. Yet in many ways, this has felt like a year of being taken apart and put back together again. I'm starting over on so many things. Where do I go from here? Where do I want to go? 

A rainbow pillow for a friend I've never met...

The truth about change is that it's hard -- even when the changes are good. When you've done things one way for so long, it's hard to imagine doing anything else. 

My beloved Kindle cover

The good news is that every one of these changes has led me to this moment in my life where I can truly say that I'm content. I get to do what I love in a home that I love with the people I love. And though I honestly don't have a clue where I'm going in 2016, it's okay. I'm taking things one day at a time.

The hexagon bag I made for Quilt Market

Back when I was in high school, I had to memorize the poem "George Gray" by Edgar Lee Masters from Spoon River Anthology, a book of poems that are meant to be autobiographical epitaphs for the residents of a small town cemetery. As it turned out, I had to perform the same poem for a speech recital a few years later as a college freshman. Perhaps it was a lesson I was meant to relearn, both in school and in life:

I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me--
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one's life may end in madness, 
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire-- 
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.

Change isn't easy, but it's better than a lifetime of fear. I would rather go forward than stand still or, worse yet, slip backwards. So friends, may you and I lift the sail and go with joy to whatever God has in store for us in 2016.

Happy new year.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Floss Quilt

The Floss Quilt by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt featuring Carkai and Aurifloss

It all started with a charm pack of Carkai by Carolyn Friedlander for Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I saw that gorgeous spectrum of color spread across my cutting table, and then my eyes drifted to a wooden spool of Aurifil floss in the tool cart nearby.

And suddenly I knew I had to make this quilt.

The Floss Quilt by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt featuring Carkai and Aurifloss

This is by far the most "modern" project I've attempted in quite a while. I modeled my spools completely on the tall, thin Aurifloss wooden version -- these are exactly twice the size of the original -- using about half of the Carkai charm pack for my "thread" colors. I couldn't resist adding an empty spool in there for fun. I used Quilter's Linen for the spool ends and an off-white shade of Kona solid for most of the background, tossing in some of the low volume prints from Carkai for more depth and interest. I love how one of the Carkai prints next to the brown spool had a line of the same color in it, so that it looks like a bit of thread is coming off that spool.

The Floss Quilt by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt featuring Carkai and Aurifloss

Of course, I had to quilt this one by hand using creamy white Aurifloss, adding three rows of stitches between each horizontal row and one between every vertical row of spools. It was a joy to sit by the window at the end of our loft and sew by hand on this little quilt all afternoon. For my binding, I used a white crosshatch print from Architextures and included a spectrum of all the "thread" colors along the top left side of the quilt, leaving a gap for the empty spool. If you look closely, you'll see that missing "thread" color on the bottom right side of the quilt binding.

The Floss Quilt by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt featuring Carkai and Aurifloss

This was one of those project ideas that hits you like lightening out of the blue. It's the kind that you just suddenly have to make -- and can't stop working on during every free moment you have until it's finished. And when you're done, you step back and look at it and it just seems like a gift that caught you by surprise, that was sent to you when you had no idea it was coming.

But you're so glad it did.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mini Double-Zip Clutch: the EPP Kit

Mini Double Zip Clutch from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples

Back when I first developed the Double-Zip Clutch for my book, Sew Organized for the Busy Girl, I remember thinking, "Someday I need to try making a miniature one of these." Well, today was the day...and wow, do I love it.

Mini Double Zip Clutch from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples

For those of you who might want to try one of these, I simply cut all the measurements in half. This smaller version finishes at 4 1/4 x 5 1/2" closed, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2" open. I also switched out fusible interfacing for cotton batting which I attached with adhesive basting spray. I found that I didn't need to even use the batting to reinforce the lining on the end zipper pockets; the smaller version holds up quite nicely without it.

This clutch couldn't be a more perfect size to use as an English paper piecing kit for basting hexagons. All the fabrics you see here are from Amy Sinbaldi's charming new collection Paperie for Art Gallery Fabrics, which features plenty of delicate small scale prints as well as a vintage book theme -- two of my very favorite things. These sweet prints will definitely be showing up in future projects.

Mini Double Zip Clutch from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples

This was my first time trying metal snaps as a closure, and I'm definitely a fan. I also added leather zipper pulls and trimmed it with a bit of twill tape covered in French handwriting as a final touch. There are pockets here for everything: paper pieces, basted shapes, needles, thread, scissors, and fabric. It all zips and folds up into an easily hand held package. Best of all, it only took me a few hours this afternoon to sew this up between helping the girls with their classes.

And we all lived happily ever after...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bin Caddy (On-the-Go Bags Tour)

**This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations, Gill!**

It's no secret to all of you that I like to keep things organized in my sewing space. And when my friend Lindsay Conner asked if I'd be a part of the blog tour for her new book On-the-Go Bags (co-written by Janelle MacKay), I was excited to find organizational inspiration in those pages. Not only is it full of bags for every use and occasion, but there are also projects that can help you keep your sewing projects organized. After lots of indecision on what to sew, I finally adapted the Cart or Stroller Caddy pattern by Veronica Lovvorn to make the miniature Bin Caddy above. Mine isn't exactly the same as the original, but very close, and I absolutely love the way it turned out!

Veronica gives you both small and large size options for this project, but I made the pattern even smaller (mine finishes at 7.5 x 12.5") so that it could neatly drape over the side of a wire basket that sits at the right hand side of my sewing machine. This basket is where I keep new patterns and fabric that I hope to use on upcoming projects -- sort of like a window display for my newest sewing toys! -- and it makes the perfect place to hang this little organizer, keeping small tools within reach when I need them.

The original pattern adds a strip of velcro so that you can fasten this caddy to a cart or stroller handle, a wonderful addition for those versions but not necessary for mine. In fact, the linen that I used gave it enough weight that I didn't even need to use interfacing. I can't tell you how much I love it!

Be sure to check out this book trailer for On-the-Go Bags where you can get a peek at all the cute projects inside. Above is the original large caddy from the book, but there are plenty more fantastic patterns in there. You can also purchase your own copy right here

And yes, we have a giveaway! Leave a comment below before December 15th, and you'll be entered to win a copy of your own. U.S. winners will receive a hard copy; international winners outside the U.S. will get an e-book. Good luck!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pocket Picture Book Tutorial

Pocket Picture Book Tutorial by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

My little Mouse has been absolutely fascinated by the stack of Pocket Mending Books that's been growing on my sewing table. She begs to look through them every day as soon as she finishes her kindergarten classes, wanting to pore over them by herself -- and then again on the pretext of showing them to her stuffed dog Snuffy. Since it's been tricky to empty the needles and scissors out of the books each time she wants to see them, my husband suggested that I make a special kid-friendly version that the girls can enjoy without any worries of pricked fingers.

Pocket Picture Book Tutorial by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

These books are actually pretty nifty gifts for the little people in your life. Not only are they small and soft, but they can teach colors, letters, animals, etc. My girls are already planning to use these books when they're playing school or restaurant with their dolls.

Pocket Picture Book Tutorial by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

I've included two sizes -- one the same as my Pocket Mending Book and the other a little smaller. This is such a fun project for scraps, and it's also perfect for making with your kids. Mouse helped me with some of the sewing on the smaller version. It's also a great last minute present, easily sewn up in an hour. Keep in mind that the more pages you include, the trickier it is to sew (especially on the smaller version). I wouldn't try to fit more than 4 pages in here, but if you're brave enough to add more, go for it!

Pocket Picture Book Tutorial by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

So here's a tutorial for you, my friends. If you make one, please share it on Instagram with me @fabricmutt, and be sure to tag it #pocketpicturebook.

Have fun!

Supplies & Cutting Instructions

Large Version (finished size: 3 7/8" square)
grey pig print -- 1 square (4 3/8 x 4 3/8") for front cover
orange patchwork print -- 1 rectangle (4 3/8 x 4 3/4") for back cover
batting -- 1 rectangle (4 3/8 x 8 7/8") for exterior
various prints -- 6-12 squares (3 3/4 x 3 3/4" each) depending on how many pages you want (2 per page)
purple calico print -- 1 rectangle (4 3/8 x 4 3/4") for inside of front cover and 1 rectangle (4 3/8 x 4 1/2") for inside of back cover

Small Version (finished size: 3 1/4" square)
border print -- 1 square (3 3/4 x 3 3/4") for front cover
yellow text print -- 1 rectangle (3 3/4 x 4 1/4") for back cover
batting -- 1 rectangle (3 3/4 x 7 1/2") for exterior
various prints -- 6-8 squares (3 x 3" each) depending on how many pages you want (2 per page)
floral print -- 1 rectangle (3 3/4 x 4 1/8 ") for inside of front cover and 1 rectangle (3 3/4 x 3 7/8 ") for inside of back cover

For Both Versions
adhesive basting spray
chopstick or turning tool
pins or binding clips

*All seams 1/4" unless otherwise noted.

Make the Book Cover

1. Sew the left side of the front cover to the right short side of the back cover.

2. Attach the wrong side of the fabric to the batting with adhesive basting spray and quilt as desired.

Make the Pages & Lining

1. Decide what order you want your pages to be in, and then pair up your pages with the right sides of the fabric together. Sew around the top, side, and bottom of the page, leaving one side open.

2. Turn the page right side out, poking out the corners with a turning tool, and press. Stitch 1/8" all the way around the sewn sides, still leaving that last side open.

3. Stack the pages together in the order you want them and baste them together along the open sides, 1/8" from the edge. Sew from the center to the top and then from the center to the bottom of the stack to keep the pages from moving around too much.

4. Place your stack of pages (front down) on top of the front lining piece, so that the basted edge lines up with the right edge of the piece and baste it in place 1/8" from the edge, again sewing from the middle to the top and then bottom.

5. Stack the front and back lining pieces on top of each other with the pages sandwiched between them, checking to make sure that when you open them, they'll be in the correct positions, and stitch 1/4" from the same side where you basted the pages in place. Press the lining open.

Assemble the Book

1. Pin or clip the exterior and lining on top of each other, right sides together.

2. Sew 1/4" all the way around the outside of the rectangle, backstitching at the start and finish. Leave an opening of about 2 1/2" on the short end next to the back exterior piece. Trim the corners without cutting through the stitching.

3. Carefully turn the book right side out through the opening on the short end, using a turning tool to push the corners out, and give the book a good pressing with your iron. Tuck the edges back inside the opening, and topstitch 1/8" from the edge all the way around the outside of the book. Be sure not to catch the pages in your stitching. Close the book and press carefully around the binding to help your book stay closed properly.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Handmade Holidays

Today I'm guest posting over at Ellison Lane for Jennifer's fabulous Handmade Holidays series. I'm sharing more versions of my new Pocket Mending Book Tutorial as well as three of my favorite online recipes for the holiday season.

Take a peek at the fabulous December giveaway she's hosting too. Yep, lots of good stuff going on here. Click on over to check it out!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Roam Blog Hop

***Note: This giveaway is now closed! Congratulations, Katie!***

My friends at Hawthorne Threads invited me to be a part of their latest blog hop this week, and I was able to whip up a fun little pillow with the fabric they sent me from their new Roam collection. Featuring wandering buffalo, prairie landscapes, and a fairly neutral color scheme, somehow these prints manage to be rustic and playful at the same time.

I made this 12 x 12" pillow cover using small fussy cut pieces of fabric that finish at 3" square. Quilting lines are 1/4" on either side of all seams. It's a very simple pattern, but one of my favorites. There's no better way to let the prints speak for themselves.

The pillow backing is Feather Collective in Sage. I really like the details in this print, and that impression of falling feathers has a great sense of movement.

If you'd like some fabric to play with yourself, just leave a comment -- any comment -- at the bottom of this post. International entries are welcome. Hawthorne Threads will be giving away a fat quarter bundle of Roam in the dusk colorway to one lucky winner!

You can follow the other stops on the blog hop below:

Tuesday, December 1st - Fabric Mutt
Wednesday, December 2nd - Coffee + Thread
Thursday, December 3rd - I Love You Sew
Friday, December 4th - Olivia Jane Handcrafted
Saturday, December 5th - Hawthorne Threads

Happy sewing!

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