Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Quilt for Snuffy

Miniature Doll Quilt & Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Oh my friends, what a week it's been. Little Mouse came down with what we thought was a stomach bug last Saturday night. Unfortunately it was a more serious virus than we knew, culminating in a long day at the emergency room on Thursday so that she could be treated for dehydration. I'm very grateful to say that she's on the mend, but we're still taking it a day at a time. She's in that delicate place right now where she's getting her strength back but still needs to stay quiet (no easy feat for this little bundle of energy), and it's a challenge to keep her calm so that she doesn't relapse. The hardest part of all is that our church is having it's Christmas children's program and festival tomorrow morning, which she'll have to miss. Breaking the news to her last night was painful, after her long week of hoping against hope that she'd get well in time. After she spent a while sobbing in my arms and then in her Daddy's, I told her that maybe we could sew something special this weekend together to make up for it, perhaps a quilt for her beloved stuffed dog Snuffy.

Miniature Doll Quilt & Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

It was a game changer. There were more tears before the day was over, but it was definitely the turning point. I sit here now and think back on how many times the prospect of "sewing time with Mommy" saved the day with my girls. It has so often been a way to help them through difficult moments.

Miniature Doll Quilt & Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

So while the rest of the family went to Saturday lunch at our favorite Mexcian restaurant, Mouse and I went upstairs to sew. Miniature doll quilts are such a wonderful project when you want to sew something with a child. You don't even really need a pattern. Just pick the fabrics, choose a shape or design, sew the top, and then cut a backing print to fit. I like to use a piece of muslin or cotton fabric instead of batting so that the quilt isn't too stiff. Instead of binding, I just sew the front and back together, leaving an opening for turning, and then once it's turned right side out, I tuck the raw edges inside and stitch 1/8" from the edge all around. So simple!

Miniature Doll Quilt & Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

We made a little pillow to go along with the quilt, adding pom-pom trim at Mouse's request. She was absolutely delighted with the finish, and immediately wanted to tuck Snuffy in for a nap.

Miniature Doll Quilt & Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

She's spent the rest of the day resting on the couch in the family room cuddling with her little pup and watching old episodes of the Beverly Hillbillies. I love to hear her giggling from the next room.

After a week like this one, it's the most beautiful music in the world.

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Constance Organizer Tutorial Revisited

Constance Organizer Tutorial by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

Just over five years ago, I did a series of sewing posts for a blog called The Glamorous Housewife, which I recently found out has since gone defunct. Consequently, people have been clicking on the tutorial link for my Constance Organizer tutorial and sadly coming up empty. I've gotten quite a few emails about it in the last few weeks from people who want to make them as Christmas presents for friends and family (especially teachers!), so after spending a bit of time tracking down the text and photos from that original post, I'm reposting it all here for you below. It's a quick little tutorial and a truly useful gift. If you make one, please share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #constanceorganizer and tag me @fabricmutt. Enjoy!

Constance Organizer Tutorial by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

It took me years, but I finally learned the secret to getting (most of) what I need to do finished every day: lists. It's all about lists for me when it comes to organization. If it's not written down, forget it. Unfortunately, I usually end up with two or three running lists for different areas of my life, and then it comes down to trying to track down the lists themselves so I can figure out what I needed to remember in the first place. The solution? A handy little organizer for keeping everything straight.

This little beauty has a place for everything I could possibly need: notepad, post-it notes, note cards, business cards, a pen, and even a few vintage postcards for inspiration. The version you'll see in the tutorial photos is one that I made for myself using all cotton prints and a dark brown solid for accent pieces. Though I hadn't intended for this to be a seasonal project, the prints all rather remind me of fall -- definitely my favorite time of the year.

Joel McCrea & Jean Arthur in The More the Merrier

This month's tutorial is inspired by The More the Merrier, a wonderful 1940's screwball comedy. Jean Arthur stars as Constance Milligan, a compulsively organized working girl who decides to sublet half of her apartment to help out with the housing shortage in wartime Washington, D.C. Life takes a crazy turn when retired millionaire Benjamin Dingle (played by Charles Coburn) moves in and then decides to do a little matchmaking by renting half of his half to a handsome soldier named Joe Carter (played by Joel McCrea). It's classic comedy at its best, and Jean Arthur's costumes are absolutely divine examples of 1940's fashion. If you'd like to see an updated version of the story, it was remade in 1966 as Walk Don't Run  -- this time concerning close quarters during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and featuring an utterly charming Cary Grant in his last film appearance.

Constance Organizer Tutorial by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

By the way, there are always ways to tweak any of my tutorials to make them fit your own style. I made another one of these organizers for my mom using linen accents and a magnetic clasp. This version is a little more grown-up, and I love the vintage inspired prints it uses (scroll to the end of this post for a look inside this one). It never ceases to amaze me how a change in fabric can transform the whole feel of a project. Even though this is an item that's going to see a lot of everyday use, I think it's important to use fabrics that you love. Those lists are easier to face when they're framed by happy fabric.

But enough chit-chat . . . let's get sewing!

(2) 6.75 x 10.5" print for exterior
(1) 4 x 10.5" solid (linen or cotton) for exterior accent
(1) 10.5 x 16.5" batting for exterior
(2) 8.5 x 10.5" print for lining
(1) 10.5 x 16.5" interfacing for lining (I used Pellon 809 Decor Bond)
(1) 8.5 x 14" solid (linen or cotton) for pad pocket
(1) 7 x 8.5" interfacing for pad pocket
(1) 8.5 x 16" print for top interior pocket
(1) 8 x 8.5" interfacing for top interior pocket
(1) 8.5 x 13" for middle interior pocket
(1) 6.5 x 8.5" interfacing for middle interior pocket
(4) 4.75 x 8.5" prints for interior zipper pocket and lining (cut 2 each of 2 different prints)
(1) 3 x 3.5" solid (linen or cotton) for exterior flap
(1) 3 x 3.5" print for flap lining
(1) 3 x 3.5" batting for flap
(1) 3 x 3.5" interfacing for flap
(1) 9" or larger zipper for interior zipper pocket
(1) magnetic snap or (1) 2" piece of velcro
Adhesive basting spray or fabric glue
Chopstick for turning
Sewing clips or clothespins
Coordinating thread

Note: All seams will be 1/4" wide. Don't forget to press your work between steps to keep things neat and tidy. Half the work is cutting out all the pieces for this project. Once you have the prep work done, it goes together pretty quickly!

Step One: Make the basic interior pockets. Take the fabrics for the pad pocket and the top and middle interior pockets, fold them with wrong sides together (8.5" ends meeting), and press the folds well. Slip the matching piece of interfacing between those wrong sides and press again so it sticks in place. Top stitch 1/4" from the fold on each piece. Baste the pad pocket in place on the bottom of one of the 8.5 x 10.5" lining pieces. (That means setting your machine to its longest stitch length and sewing around the sides and bottom 1/8" from the edge. This will hold it in place when you're sewing everything together later.) If you're using linen, by the way, keep in mind that it can be a little finicky at times, so don't worry if it seems to stretch a tad while you sew. You can always trim the extra bits off later.

Step Two: Make the interior zipper pocket. Stack in this order along an 8.5" edge: lining piece (right side up), zipper (right side up), exterior piece (right side down). Sew down that edge, fold the fabrics back so that the wrong sides are together, and press. Top stitch 1/4" from the zipper and then repeat on the other side. Trim the zipper ends off on each side of the pocket, making sure that the zipper pull is in the middle first! Fold the sides of the pocket together so that you match up all four pieces of fabric and the lining pieces have their right sides together. Baste the sides of the zipper pocket together.

Step Three: Assemble all the interior pockets. Stack the three interior pockets in order from top to bottom: top interior, middle interior, and zipper pocket. Line them up along the bottom edge of the lining piece and baste along the sides and bottom.

Step Four: Finish the interior. Stack the two lining pieces right sides together and stitch along the 10.5" side, joining them together so that the pad pocket will be on the right when opened. Press the seam to one side and place the whole interior piece on top of the matching piece of interfacing, pressing it in place. Be careful with your ironing around that zipper! Once the interfacing is securely attached, flip the piece back over to the right side. Measure and mark a line 1.25" from the center seam. Stitch a line down the solid pocket to create a pen pocket in the center, making sure that you backstitch at the top so the pocket doesn't come loose with use.

Step Five: Make the cover. Sew the two exterior prints to either 10.5" side of the solid accent strip which should be in the center. Attach the batting to the back of the cover and then top stitch down both sides of each of the seams. Center and sew half of the 2" piece of velcro about 1" from the edge on the right side of the cover (scroll down to step six for a photo of this). I usually sew around a piece of velcro at least twice just to be sure that it's not going to budge anytime soon.

Step Six: Make the flap. Attach batting to the flap exterior with fabric glue or adhesive basting spray and iron the interfacing onto the flap lining piece. Stack the lining and exterior pieces with their right sides together and sew all around them, leaving a few inches open on the bottom for turning. Trim around the edges, clipping the corners, and turn right side out using the chopstick to poke out the corners. Tuck in the raw edges and and topstitch 1/8" from the edge all the way around the flap. Center the other half of the velcro on the right side on the flap lining about 1/4" from the edge and sew all the way around it twice.

Center the flap on the left side of the exterior, about 1" from the edge with the velcro pointing away from the cover. Sew a 1/4" wide rectangle on the flap to hold it in place on the cover.

Step Seven: Finish the organizer. Stack the lining and exterior with right sides together, tucking the flap inside out of the way. Clip them together and then sew all the way around the outside of the pieces, backstitching at both ends and leaving a gap for turning on what will be the upper side of the back of the organizer. Trim all the way around the stitching and then turn it (carefully!) right side out, using the chopstick to press out the corners. Tuck the raw edges inside the gap and press it well -- again being careful of that zipper! -- then topstich 1/8" all the way around the outside. Tuck in your office supplies, and you're in business!

Constance Organizer Tutorial by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

Happy sewing!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Little Red Deluxe Pincushion

Little Red in the Woods Deluxe Pincushion by Heidi Staples from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl for Fabric Mutt

I get to share one of my favorite new collections with you today: Little Red in the Woods by my talented friend Jill Howarth.

These fabrics . . . oh my goodness . . . the cuteness is beyond words. Not only do they share darling illustrations of the classic story, but this collection also includes some fabulous small scale prints which are just perfect for the tiny patchwork I love to do.

Little Red in the Woods Deluxe Pincushion by Heidi Staples from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl for Fabric Mutt

While I'm stashing these prints for future projects, I knew that I wanted to make a Deluxe Pincushion right away from my book Sew Organized for the Busy Girl. The nine patch block on the front pocket is the perfect place to turn a spotlight on all the sweet details Jill features in her designs, and Riley Blake Designs Swiss Dot in teal made a perfect frame for it.

Little Red in the Woods Deluxe Pincushion by Heidi Staples from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl for Fabric Mutt

I also carefully fussy cut a picture of Red and the Wolf to be peeking over the pocket on the main body of the pincushion. For the tag on the side, I used a bit of twill tape that I had custom printed featuring a design from my upcoming Shortcake collection. I was delighted that it matched the fabrics so well!

I'm completely in love with this project, and it's been sitting on the little shelf above my sewing table where I can look at it every day. Jill's illustrations are always so full of joy, and I love to add more of that to my sewing space with her fabric!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday last week. Thanksgiving vacation was pure bliss at our house. Eating amazing food, sleeping in every morning, getting out the Christmas decorations, spending hours of fun with my beautiful family -- I couldn't have asked for more. It's moments like these that remind you how blessed you really are, and I definitely want to hold that thought close to my heart as we finish out this year and get ready to start a new one.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Fairy Garden Craft Kit

After months tied up in a crazy busy schedule, I'm so happy to be able to get back into sewing for fun with my friends' beautiful new collections. This week I sat down with a few cute prints from Lori Whitlock's new Fairy Garden line.

These prints are so sweet and girly -- just the sort of thing my daughters love!

For ages now I've been wanting to make a miniature version of the Double-Zip Clutch from my book Sew Organized for the Busy Girl which could work as a craft kit for a child, and this was my chance. I added a few extra slots to the inner pockets for crayons or colored pencils. The pockets are perfect for holding extra goodies or tools like pom-poms, brads, erasers, scissors, washi tape, or glue sticks. Tuck one of these in a bag with a coloring book or sketch pad, and you'll have something to keep a little one busy on everything from a family vacation to an afternoon at Grandma's house. I love quick gifts like this that take me an hour or less to make!

Melissa Mortenson (PolkaDot Chair), Christopher Thompson (The Tattooed Quilter) & me

Speaking of trips, last weekend we headed off to Houston so that I could be at Quilt Market, and what a joy it was to visit everyone there! Getting the chance to see all the new fabrics up close is so much fun, but it's the people that I love most. My husband was a sweetheart and took our daughters to the space center AND the American Girl store while I was working. What a guy. I honestly don't know who had more fun this year -- me or the girls.

My third collection, Shortcake, made its debut in the Riley Blake Designs booth, and I love it so much. I'm counting the days until February when it will be out in the world for all of you to make beautiful things! Be sure to ask your local quilt shop to carry it. I'm so excited to share more with you about the story behind these prints in the months ahead...

If you haven't yet, be sure to hurry over to Riley Blake Designs' Instagram feed (@rileyblakedesigns), where they're giving away a full half bundle of my Date Night collection to one lucky winner. Entries are welcome from all over the world, but the giveaway closes tonight at 9pm MDT, so run -- don't walk -- to get your name in the hat. And definitely stop by the RBD blog here to read a little more about me in their Meet This Maker feature. I had a whole lot of fun answering their prompts for this one!

Happy week to you, dear friends!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Bits & Pieces

It's been a rainy few weeks here in the Texas hill country, something I almost couldn't have imagined a month ago when our garden was so dry that we were afraid our plants were going to start dying. Now the grass is bright green, the trees are dripping raindrops, and the deer are enjoying a freshly watered salad bar every morning. I'm upstairs in the loft tonight trying to get in a little extra work on yet another secret project that's due in less than two weeks. It takes more hours than you would think to develop a pattern on paper, to polish and color it in Illustrator, and then to write out the cutting and piecing instructions. You wonder sometimes if it's really going to look as good as you thought it would. That depressing little voice in your head starts whispering that maybe your math is wrong or your fabric combinations are off or it's just going to be a general flop. And then suddenly you're sewing it up at your machine, and oh my word -- it works! It works just the way you hoped it would, and you love it, and you can't stop grinning at those little quilt blocks on the table in front of you. It's a pretty great feeling, let me tell you...

I was so thrilled to have my Date Night collection featured in a pattern called Kite Season by the amazing Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Co. You can see the video tutorial here and purchase the paper pattern here or PDF download version here. It would make the most adorable picnic quilt ever! Several of my quilting friends have also shared Date Night projects. Be sure to visit Elea, Minki, LaurenSandy, and Christopher who made such darling things with my fabric. And be sure to tag any of your own makes with #datenightfabric when you share them!

I have some big projects still in progress, but for now I spend most of my time homeschooling my daughters, catching up on smaller projects, practicing my drawing, and sneaking in a bit of reading and crochet when I have the time. The fall decorations are up in the house again, and I'm feeling the itch to bake cookies and pumpkin bread and all the pies in my favorite cookbooks. For now I'm trying to be good, but we'll see how long that lasts as the weather gets cooler...

Monday, August 13, 2018

Fall Pouch from 50 Little Gifts

It was almost a year ago now that I got an email from Susanne Woods, publisher at Lucky Spool, to see if I would be willing to contribute my Pixie Basket and Key Pouch patterns to a printed collection of tutorials called 50 Little Gifts. The answer was yes, of course. As someone who often forgets to bookmark a cute tutorial and then spends a big chunk of time later on trying to find it, a book like this is gold for me. Everything in here is small, simple, and perfect for gifting to any number of people in your life . . . ahem, including yourself. And it's all in one book that you can easily grab whenever you need it.

Case in point: this adorable little Window Zippered Pouch pattern by Chase Wu, one of my favorite sources of patchwork inspiration. I pulled out some Calico Crow by Lauren Nash, the cutest fall collection I've ever seen, and sewed up this little pouch last night after dinner. I can't tell you what a pleasure it was to make something easy and seasonal like this just for fun -- and in only an hour! It even gave me the chance to use this little squirrel charm for the zipper which I've been saving for a while now.

Just looking at the back of this pouch makes me want to go bake some fall goodies . . .

Speaking of which, wouldn't this make a darling hostess gift to give along with a pie or a plate of cookies? Just slip the recipe inside and give it to a friend along with the food. Or fill it with candy for treats at an autumn party. Or tuck a gift card, notepad, and pen inside for a back-to-school gift for your child's teacher. See what I mean about this book? Gift giving options galore!

So who wants one? Lucky Spool has given me a copy of 50 Little Gifts to share with one of you lovely readers. Just leave a comment below, and I'll pick a random winner on Friday. All are welcome to enter, just make sure you write down your email address in the comment if you're a no-reply blogger. Spread the word to friends who might want to enter. Christmas is coming, after all, and this book is going to be a winner for quick holiday gifts.

Happy sewing, friends!

***NOTE: Giveaway now closed. Congratulations to Laura from Slice of Pi Quilts!***

Thursday, August 9, 2018


I'm sitting at my dining room table typing while babysitting a batch of homemade granola bars that I just put in the oven a few minutes ago, a simplified version of this delicious recipe. There's a bouquet of sunflowers on my kitchen counter next to a burning Leaves candle from Bath & Body Works, both a testimony to the fact that our family is more than ready for fall weather to appear, even if the thermometer is still reading 93 degrees outside today. Puffy white clouds are chasing each other around a deep blue sky outside my window, and I can see our tree swing swaying in the breeze. The family is scattered to all corners of the house today. Dad is working on his latest WWII model in the loft, while Mom is doing cross stitch by the windows in their bedroom. James has taken Mouse to a nearby cave for a group tour followed by ice cream at the Dairy Queen, his last in a series of daddy-daughter dates this week while he tries to get in a little special time with each of the girls before he goes back to teaching on Monday. Bunny and Bear are upstairs making a pile of last year's schoolbooks in eager anticipation of the moment when I break out the new school supplies, which I've promised to do as soon as the granola bars come out of the oven.

It's been a remarkable summer for our family. I traveled north during the first week of June to teach at Missouri Star Academy, making my inaugural visit to famed Missouri Star Quilt Co. and enjoying myself immensely with all the lovely people who attended as well as assembled that incredible event. The next week James went to Austin for teacher training while the girls and I all participated in Vacation Bible School at our church in San Antonio, an event that drew over 1200 kids and 800 volunteers -- and which was also one of the most exhausting weeks I've had all year. And then a day after VBS ended, we took off on our first family road trip, spending two weeks heading up to North Carolina to see family, followed by several days in Washington, D.C. We stopped at museums, parks, historical landmarks, and a whole list of incredibly delicious eateries. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget, and I'm so grateful that we had the chance to do it.

Since we got home, I've been working feverishly on several creative projects which you'll be seeing in upcoming months. Meanwhile, my newest fabric collection, Date Night, has been popping up all over the place, and I love seeing what people are making with it. Be sure to follow the hashtag #datenightfabric on Instagram, and share your own makes as you go!

And so we go on . . . into a new school year and a new season. And while there will always be a part of me that struggles as I watch time passing by, the memories are still mine to keep. I can't help but look forward with excitement at what's to come.
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