Sunken Sewing Table DIY!

We’ve officially been in our new house for seven months now, which means I’ve had a lot of time to evaluate my sewing space and take notes about how I can improve it. One of the big things I wanted to change was to sink my sewing machine into the desk it sits on, making a big flat surface to work on. I mainly make flat objects on my sewing machine (quilts, rugs, baskets, etc…), and having the machine level with the table really decreases drag, especially when free motioning. So, I did some research and enlisted the help of my very handy husband Kyle, who pretty quickly determined that the desk I had wouldn’t work for this project. It was a cheap one from Ikea that was filled with paper, which would then lose it’s structural integrity if you put a hole in it. So, we looked around for a solid wood table and finally found one, ironically, in the as-is section at Ikea. It’s an Ingo solid pine dining room table that looks like this (I forgot to get a picture of ours before we cut into it – I was too excited!):

Ikea Ingo Table

If you decide to do this, don’t get one of the extendable tables – you will be cutting a hole in there and putting a shelf in, and extendable tables have hardware under them that make that really difficult – solid wood is where it’s at!

We followed this tutorial pretty closely for ours; as I have little to no experience with power tools and a rep for being kind of a klutz, Kyle did most of the work and all the heavy lifting, but if you’re handy, this is easily a project you could do on your own. The first step was to trace my machine and cut a hole with a jigsaw.

Table with hole cut into it for sewing machine

Since it was pretty rough after that, the sides of the hole needed to be sanded, which we just did by hand; I’m told that this step would have been significantly easier with a power sander, but our way worked just fine, and it meant I got to help with at least one part!

Girl sanding table with hole in it

Then came time to make the attachment that the shelf would be suspended from, so Kyle cut down a furring strip into two lengths.

Man cutting furring strips with electric saw

He drilled four pockets and inserted bolts into them, then attached them to the bottom of the table (the bolts are what the shelf will hang off of). He used a lot of screws to fasten it, since it’ll be holding up a pretty heavy machine and it would be very, very bad if fell off.

Bottom of sunken sewing table

Then it was time for the shelf, which he cut out of a piece of plywood, drilled a hole in each corner, and slid onto the bolts. The shelf is held on with hex nuts, which is great because the shelf can be adjusted (I have two machines, one for straight stitch and one for everything else, so this way I can switch them out if I need to). Kyle tightened them up with a wrench to make the machine flush with the table (you may need a buddy to help you judge this).

Bottom of sunken sewing desk being tightened with wrench

The very last step was to put cap nuts on the ends of the bolt so I don’t hurt myself when I put my legs under it, and then we were done! This project, including the table, cost about $60 to make, and is so amazing! It’s so much easier to sew things, and the wood looks really nice in my studio (ignore that ugly floor – that’s the next problem to solve!).

Sunken sewing table

To give you an idea of exactly how flat a surface it makes, here’s a current work in progress…there’s no bump in the middle!

Sunken sewing table with gray and teal project on it

If you’ve been thinking of updating your sewing space, I would highly recommend giving this a try (especially if you like free motioning); it’s seriously making my life so much easier and now that it’s done, I can turn to my attention to my next studio improvements, so stay tuned!

Kaleidoscope Wall Hanging – Apple-a-Day Blog Hop and Giveaway!

I’m sure a lot of you know that Diane of CraftyPod has written a new book (in fact, you may have found me through Diane, so hi!); it’s called All Points Patchwork and it’s an amazing resource for those of us that love, or want to love, paper piecing. Seriously, there are so many tips and tricks in this book – I wish I’d had it when I first started paper piecing, because I think it would have saved me a lot of heartache. She goes over a bunch of different methods, the tools that you need (or want) and there’s a how-to for each shape that’s in the book (she goes over all the big ones, and some ones I hadn’t come across before). There’s a bunch of really cute smallish projects, too! It’s great for beginners, and for more advanced paper piecers who want to refine or pick up new techniques.

All Points Patchwork by Diane Gilleland

A little while ago Diane asked if anyone would be willing to join a blog hop to show some of the techniques covered in the book, and of course I signed on right away! She’s organized the hop into several different categories (you can find all the others over at her website), and I picked the Apple-a-Day week to join; we’re all using some design featuring paper pieced apple cores. So, since today is my day…meet my Kaleidoscope wall hanging!

Kaleidoscope wall hanging using paper pieced apple cores

I’ve been wanting to sew with apple cores since the beginning of my quilting obsession – in fact, I tried to use an apple cores in my very first quilt top. I quickly realized that I was in over my head (I couldn’t even sew a straight line, let alone curves!), so I abandoned it in favor of a more beginner friendly pattern, but I’ve always had it in the back of my mind as a “someday” project. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it again, and of course paper piecing is one of my favorites!

Kaleidoscope wall hanging using paper pieced apple cores

Once I knew what my shape would be, I just started playing around in EQ7, and this is what slowly grew (I’m often asked about my design process, and there it is…”I just started playing around” is basically how all my designs start!). Having learned from the Hexie quilt that paper piecing takes a lot more time than you think it will, I tried to keep my project on the small size at about 30″ X 30″, though true to form, once I got started, I was pretty tempted to make it bigger for a lap quilt! I used 3 inch cores, and that size worked really well to use up some of my ever-growing pile of scraps, including some fussy cuts.

Close up of kaleidoscope wall hanging using paper pieced apple cores

I tried several different designs for the actual quilting of the piece, and finally decided to practice my free motion skills by trying out some feathers. The results are by no means perfect, but I’ve finally gotten to the point where my stitches are even and I don’t have eyelashes all over the place, so I’m pretty happy with it! The backing is just a piece of navy Kona cotton that shows the stitches beautifully.

Free motion feather quilting in variegated thread on navy fabric

It’s a little difficult to tell, but I used a variegated thread from Sulky in pinks, blues, greens, and yellows. I love the colors and it was relatively easy to quilt with, but this thread does have a tendency to fray, so that can be frustrating when you have a bunch of ends to weave in. And to finish, I used up leftover scraps from some of my favorite prints for a scrappy, colorful binding.

Close up of scrappy quilt binding

Once I finished and put it up in the living room, it was pointed out to me that it perfectly matched the cranes from our wedding that hang in our living room, so I clearly have a pattern here, but they look really good together and I think it’ll stay in our house for a while!

Kaleidoscope wall hanging using paper pieced apple cores, hanging with colorful paper cranes

And now, here’s the best part…Clover had generously agreed to offer a pretty cool giveaway to go along with the blog hop! This week, you can win a pair of patchwork scissors by entering at the Rafflecopter link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And, because I know you want to see all the other amazing posts in our hop, check back below every day this week to see each project!

Thanks for hopping along with me and I hope you all have a great week!

Giveaway Time!

Update: the giveaway is now closed, and the winner is Beth! Beth, you’ll be getting an email from me shortly 😊. Thanks to everyone to participated!

Hello all! I’m knee deep in boxes over here (we bought our first house!) but I’m stopping in to take part in the Sew Mama Sew giveaway day!

This time I’m giving away a set of 4 crane ornaments:

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I’ve been trying to get organized to make some holiday decorations, and looking at some Christmas cards the other day, I was struck with inspiration. I loved a bunch of the designs, but you can only send so many cards, so I decided to use a few of the prettier ones to make some origami cranes. Add a bit of ribbon and they become beautiful ornaments (or just pretty things to hang if you don’t have a tree 😊).

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You can win these little guys by leaving a comment on this post telling me about your favorite holiday decoration. I’ll pick a winner at random at 5 PM (PST) on Friday, 12/12, and it is open to international readers. And while you’re in a giveaway kinda mood, head on over to Sew Mama Sew and check out all the other awesome stuff!

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Issue 2 of Make Modern Magazine is here!

A quick end of the week check in to tell everyone that Issue 2 of Make Modern Magazine, featuring my quilt Nye on the cover (and pattern available inside, of course!) is on sale today! Go to http://www.makemodern.com.au/#!shop/c1cgf to get your copy!

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Quilt in Make Modern Magazine!

Just a quick check in post today (I’m knee deep in packing!) to let everyone know that my quilt “Nye” will be in the next issue of Make Modern Magazine…and not only that, it’s going to be on the cover!

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I’m so excited about this, I can’t even tell you! This will be in Issue 2, out November 1st, which is available for download (or subscription) here. If you’re in to modern quilting, you should definitely check it out!

 

DIY Dryer Balls

Hello! Apologies for the absence of posts around here lately; I’ve been working on a top secret project that I can’t wait to share with all of you, so I’ve been deep in finishing and editing mode. I’m finally all done though (hopefully!), so I’m back with an easy laundry project.

A few months ago I started using dryer balls instead of fabric softener. I had been using one of those Bounce bar things, which I actually liked, but after reading a few things about the residue fabric softeners leave behind, I switched. I’m really happy with the change; things seem to dry faster, they’re nice and soft without feeling gummy, and you can add a couple of drops of essential oil to make your clothes smell good. I ordered these from Amazon, but it is super easy to make your own! And if you happen to have some wool yarn hanging around like I did, they’ll be free, which is always great :).

So! To make your own, you will need:

wool yarn

old pantyhose

scraps of synthetic (non-felting) yarn or string

washer and dryer

It’s really important that the yarn you use is all wool (it could have a little bit of some other natural fiber, like mohair or alpaca, but absolutely nothing synthetic or it won’t felt). This pile of yarn was given to me at some point or another, and I was probably never going to use it, so it was the perfect candidate. I wouldn’t use really expensive yarn for this – it’s going to sit in the dryer all the time, after all! Secondhand stores are a great place to find supplies for this project, but if you don’t have luck with that, just go with the cheapest you can find that’s all wool.

Pile of wool yarn in gray and cream

Wind the yarn into balls, somewhere between the size of a baseball and a grapefruit. The larger the balls, the faster your clothes will dry, but they’ll also be louder banging around in the dryer, and might be harder to store, depending on your space. Also remember that the balls will shrink a bit after felting. I made mine about the size of a baseball and they came out to be just under tennis ball sized in the end. Make sure the end of the yarn is very secure – stuff the last 6 – 12 inches into the middle of the ball. I tried a crochet hook for this, but it was a lot of work, so I just used the sharp end of my scissors to push it in.

Gray and cream wool yarn balls

Next, put the balls into an old pair of pantyhose (the older the better; do not use your nice nylons or tights for this! They won’t come out of this still useable, trust me on this). Tie off the top of the pantyhose, then fasten small pieces of acrylic yarn or string (rubber bands aren’t a good idea, as they may not take the heat of the dryer all that well) between each ball, like so:

Balls of wool yarn in panty hose

You want the balls to be fairly tightly packed so they don’t move around a whole bunch. Then, run them through the washer and dryer on the hottest cycle possible for both. I’d recommend doing this at least twice, but I did mine three times just to be sure. Then, just slice open the pantyhose and behold your new dryer balls!

Homemade dryer balls from wool yarn on yellow and white background

If you’d like them to smell nice, add a couple of drops of essential oil to each (I’d wait 15-20 minutes for the oil to dry before tossing them in – I got a few spots the first time I used them). The smell does tend to dissipate after a few cycles, so if you really like your clothes to have a strong scent, you’ll have to redo this step as needed.

Gray homemade dryer ball made from wool yarn on a yellow and white background

And one final warning…watch your furry friends, because they might try to steal your hard work!

Dog playing with homemade wool dryer balls

 

 

Mermaid Play Skirt

One of my favorite fabric designers and illustrators is Sarah Jane (she designs for Michael Miller). I’m also a little bit obsessed with octopuses (or octopi, should you prefer), so when she released her Out to Sea line, I snapped up the Mermaid Play print as soon as I could. I mean, how was I supposed to resist this cuteness?

Close up of mermaid play fabric by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller

The mermaids! The whales! The octopuses! I had to have an item of clothing from it right away. I finally settled on using this tutorial from Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing (which you should definitely cruise around if you have any interest in clothes). I’m still learning to sew clothes and I’ll admit that I’m not great at following patterns…things inevitably wander off course when I decide to add or subtract things, so this suited me perfectly. I ended up with a really adorable skirt, if I do say so myself!

Close up of homemade skirt with mermaids, whales, and fish on it

I followed the tutorial directions pretty much to the letter, to my measurements, of course. I did thread some elastic through the waistband, since it ended up a bit more loose than I wanted, and I added pockets, because pockets rule.

Girl wearing homemade skirt with mermaids, whales, and fish on it

I love the wider hem, and I’m really proud of myself for installing an invisible zipper.

Close up of zipper on homemade skirt with mermaids, whales, and fish on it

There are a few puckers, but the skirt is full enough that it pretty much hides them. I also finished the seams, so it looks fairly decent on the inside too.

Close up of pockets on homemade skirt with mermaids, whales, and fish on it

I’ve worn it a lot this summer and have gotten tons of compliments. I think when I make another one (and I definitely will), I’ll use a bit more fabric and make it fuller, but overall I’m really happy with it!

Coral and Gray Granny Squares

I think I mentioned a while back that I’ve gotten into crochet again, and I’ve been wanting to do some granny squares for a while now. I tried a couple of times with different yarn combos, but I didn’t love any of them. Then, a couple of weeks ago, we were at Goodwill (I know I say this all the time, but treasure hunting at secondhand stores is one of my favorite activities…you can find such great stuff for so cheap) and I scored a couple skeins of a mystery coral colored yarn that I knew would go perfectly with some gray Cascade yarn I already had.

Two coral colored skeins of yarn

I found a couple more skeins (after hunting around for a while) that still had a label, and it told me that this is Fleisher’s Win-Sport. I can’t find any information on it, but I’m guessing it’s from the 1970s, and I kind of love that the label advertises that it’s both “easy care” and “mothproof” – I’ve never actually seen that on yarn label but no moths seems like a good thing, right?

It was thinner than the gray yarn I wanted to use, so I doubled up and cast on for a sunburst granny square pattern. I was totally in love with how it looked from the very beginning, and I’m only loving it more as I make more squares:

Coral and gray granny squares

My pretty little stack is growing at a pretty nice rate, and I’m almost tempted to keep them that way…

Coral and gray granny squares in a stack

Coral and gray granny squares in a pile

…but I already have about 14 made, so I figured I should probably start make something out of them. Right now I’m thinking I’ll aim for 36 or so to make a nice little baby blankie.

The question of how to join them has been giving me a bit of trouble, but I think I’ve nearly settled on the flat braid join.

Four oral and gray granny squares

I tried a few other ones, and this is the only one that I really liked, but I do think I’ll size down one needle size when I join them permanently (I read something a while ago that recommended trying that for a cleaner finish). If anyone has any other joining suggestions or techniques they like, though, please send them my way!

Close up of coral and gray granny squares

Folklife Quilt Exhibit

Hello all! You may have noticed that I took a little break last week, but I’m back to show you some gorgeous quilts made by the Seattle Modern Quilt Quild! Every year over memorial day weekend here in Seattle, we have the Folklife Festival. It’s hard to describe, but there’s a lot of music and handmade stuff and awesome food all gathered at Seattle Center, and it’s a really fun time. This year (for the second time, actually), our guild was asked to exhibit some quilts in one of the courtyards and we happily accepted. We strung them up on the walls, and the display turned out beautifully. There are a lot of pictures in this post, so please bear with me (fellow quilters, if I missed you or mislabeled you, let me know)!

Tie dyed quilt at Northwest Folklife (from Seattle Modern Quilt Guild)

“Over the Bridge” by C.E. (Lotte) Clark-Mahoney

Assortment of quilts at Northwest Folklife (from Seattle Modern Quilt Guild)

Clockwise from left: “Precious Metals” by Marilyn Lore, “Autumn Forest Walk” by Marilyn Lore, “Escaping Triangles” by Marilyn Lore, “Churn Dash 1: Complimentary” by Martha Peterson, “Aurora” by Debbie Jeske, “Omnimonoretroism” by Grace Lainhart, “Churn Dash 2: Polycrome” by Martha Peterson

Woman standing in front of assortment of modern quilts at Northwest Folklife (from Seattle Modern Quilt Guild)

From left: “Castles in the Sky” by Aly Bazely, “Black and White Tangles” by Cecelia Lehman, “Sound Wave” by Amy Killian, “Gravity” by Season Evans, “Binary Rain” by Alyssa Long (guest appearance by my mama, Amy)

assortment of modern quilts at Northwest Folklife (from Seattle Modern Quilt Guild)

From left:”Granny Swooned” by Megan Bloomquist, “Bridget’s Dream” by Aly Bazely, “Rainbow Scrap Double Wedding” by Vicki Christensen, “01” by Katrine A. Eagling

two modern quilts at Northwest Folklife (from Seattle Modern Quilt Guild)

From left: “Charity Quilt” by the Seattle Modern Quilt Quild, “Lost in the Stars” by C.E. (Lotte) Clark-Mahoney

two modern quilts at Northwest Folklife (from Seattle Modern Quilt Guild)

From life: “Key Lime Pie” by Ruth Ediger, “Patricia’s Star Quilt” by Patricia Curry

two modern quilts at Northwest Folklife (from Seattle Modern Quilt Guild)

From Left: “Glyphs 1” by Chandra Wu, “Barcode Quilt” by Megan Vanderburg

So there you have it! This is only a small sampling of the amazing quilts our members make on a regular basis, so if you’d like more pictures, you can check us out on Instagram or Flickr.

And, just because I’m the blogger and I can, I leave you with a picture of me with my “Binary Rain” quilt!

Wall hanging quilt with varied gray background and blue raindrops in middle

Softies!

I’ve been in a softie making mood lately. After finishing the hexie quilt, I’ve been more in the mood for some instant gratification projects, and stuffed animals totally fit the bill. I also had a few gift giving occasions in May, and they make great presents.

For Mother’s Day this year, I made my mom a doggy doorstop:

Stuffed dachshund with alternating purple and blue and white fabric

The pattern is from Love Patchwork & Quiting magazine. It was fairly easy to make, although I might make the pattern pieces a bit bigger next time, as some of the smaller bits were hard to get right. I also think I might allow myself a half inch seam rather than a quarter inch; I ended up with a few holes that I had to hand sew closed.

The fabric is from Michael Miller (of course), and his tummy is filled with beans to make him heavy enough to hold a door open. It still turned out lighter than I was envisioning, but he’ll make an excellent paperweight too. There was much discussion about his eyes, but in the end I didn’t like any of the options I tried, so I left them off.

Stuffed dachshund with alternating purple and blue and white fabric

After the doggie, I made a bunny for a friend’s birthday. Meet Sid:

Stuffed bunny made from blue chambray and Tula Pink fabric

Sid is made from a pattern at the Purl Bee. The one on the blog is made from wool, but my version is made from some blue cotton that used to be a dress. The dress didn’t fit anymore, but I loved the fabric, and it was super soft. I did have to iron some lightweight interfacing to each piece; the cotton frayed easily and was slightly see through. The inside ear pieces are from the Tula Pink Acacia line – I had a bit left over from the hexie quilt and this print was one of my favorites. The nose I embroidered originally was way too big, so I redid it with a little triangle of light pink wool. If I were to make this for a kid, I’d likely make it from the wool like the original pattern, since this one would definitely not hold up to being played with (but is great for a grown up!).

Close up of stuffed bunny made from blue chambray and Tula Pink fabric

I highly recommend both patterns, and if you’re not buying Love Patchwork & Quilting or following the Purl Bee…you should be!