Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Four Corners Pillow Tutorial

four corners pillow featuring acorn trail by fabric mutt

Head over to the Fabricworm blog to check out my new tutorial: the Four Corners Pillow. It features Acorn Trail, Teagan White's latest too-cute-for-words collection for Birch Fabrics. This project is perfect for fussy cutting, but I think it would look pretty great in solids too. Thanks so much to my friends at Fabricworm and Birch Fabrics for letting me play with these gorgeous prints! If you make one of your own, be sure to share photos. You can tag me on Instagram @fabricmutt. I'd love to see it!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sidewalks Seat Cushion

Riley Blake Designs Sidewalks Flannel Seat Cushion by Fabric Mutt

When my friends at Riley Blake Designs asked me to be part of their Flannel Showcase Blog Tour, I was so happy to say yes. In all my sewing experiences of the past few years, I hadn't yet sewn with flannel, so I was excited to have the chance to work with this type of fabric at last. They sent me an incredibly generous package full of the Sidewalks collection by October Afternoon. When I showed the fabric to my family after it arrived, my parents were absolutely charmed by the designs. "That's my childhood," said my Dad, and truly these adorable prints look like they came to my house straight from the 1950s.

Flannel is different from cotton, but not so different that it's terrifying. It reminds me a little bit of working with linen in that it's a little more fiddly sometimes, yet even then it doesn't stretch out of shape the way that linen can. In some ways, flannel seems more forgiving if your seams don't come out precisely the way you want them to. Since I've heard that shrinkage can be a problem, I washed all my material first, something that I never do unless I'm making clothes. Flannel comes out of the dryer so incredibly soft and warm that you just want to sit there and cuddle with it all afternoon. The only downside is having to iron out hundreds of stubborn wrinkles if you forget about it and let it sit in the laundry basket for a day or two...

Riley Blake Designs Sidewalks Flannel Seat Cushion by Fabric Mutt

Everyone at our dinner table has a chair with a built in cushion except my youngest daughter who sits on a vintage wooden school chair. I've been meaning to make a cushion for her seat, and this soft flannel seemed like the perfect material for the job. I wanted to keep my design simple and classic, so I decided to make nine hourglass blocks which I stitched together without any borders or sashing. The blocks are quilted in a pale aqua thread by Aurifil. For the back of the cushion, I chose a blue print since that's my daughter's favorite color. There is no insert for this cushion. I just filled it with stuffing and sewed all the way around the outside edge, a method I love since it adds the illusion of piping and neatly closes the opening in the side of the pillow.

Riley Blake Designs Sidewalks Flannel Seat Cushion by Fabric Mutt

I debated adding ties to fasten the cushion to the chair, but in the end I decided not to. It was a good decision. As you can see, the cushion fits nicely in the middle of the chair, making a cuddly spot for Mouse which can be easily moved if needed. You American Girl fans out there will recognize Kit's dog Grace modeling for the camera here. My Mouse decided from the start, however, that this dog's name was Snuffy, and she carries it with her everywhere...yes, even to the dinner table.

Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more flannel mania!

9/5 Riley Blake Designs - Flannel Play Dress
11/4 Riley Blake Designs Final Post + Giveaway

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Between You and Me

My Medallion pillow from earlier this month -- see the guest post here at Sew Sweetness.

It's been a thoughtful sort of week. First I heard that Sew Fresh Fabrics is closing down. Then I heard that Pink Chalk Fabrics is changing course. Finally I read Holly's post and the article that inspired it. It all has me thinking a lot about this online sewing community.

I've only been blogging since the end of 2011, but it feels like things have changed a lot in that short time period. There is SO much out there now. You can find a free tutorial for almost any project imaginable. Fabric companies are releasing more collections by more designers. There are tons of online fabric shops specializing in different bundles and themes. Sewing bloggers are moving beyond blogging to write books, design fabric collections, and start magazines. It's fun and exciting and so inspiring.

The best package of my week contained these lovely threads from my friends at Aurifil.

The downside is that it's getting much harder to come up with new material because, as my sister always reminds me, there's nothing new under the sun. Copycats are coming on the scene -- some who don't mean to and some who do. There's a constant drive to produce more information at a higher level of quality than ever before. People speculate about whether blogs have replaced magazines, whether Instagram will replace blogs, and what will end up replacing all of the above. I know traditional fabric shop owners who worry about keeping up with online shops, while online shop owners search for a way to stand out in the growing internet market. After all there are plenty of people in this community who are working hard to make their family living from creative blogs and businesses.

There's concern about blogger burnout, and for good reason. To publish a single blog post means that you must decide on a topic, develop your ideas, make the project, style the photos, take the photos, edit the photos, write the post, and edit the post. If that post is a tutorial, you can multiply the workload by at least five times. If you're working on a project for a blog hop, a magazine, or a book, it has to stay secret until the big reveal. So while you're doing all this work behind the scenes, you're also scrambling to come up with something else that you can share on the blog so that you don't leave your readers hanging without anything new. Layer that on top of the responsibilities of a family and career, and it all gets overwhelming really fast.

A stack of solids for an upcoming project...they remind me of sunset on our mountains.

After spending a few days mulling things over, I can't escape the importance of going back to the beginning. Why did we start all of this -- the patterns and the fabric, the blogging and the swapping? We did it because there's something in our souls that loves to create beauty, and it gives us so much joy to do it together. Meeting with you here once or twice a week is like sitting down with a friend in my sewing room, sipping tall glasses of iced tea and sharing our latest projects with each other. It's growing together, learning lessons through the rough times, and sharing the victories that come along the way. When burnout and controversy rise up, we give each other grace and the benefit of the doubt. Friends, after all, hope the best for each other, and in the end, whether we've met in person or not, this all comes down to the simplest of friendships between you and me.

So I'm not giving up. If blogs go the way of the typewriter and the cassette tape (both of which are still completely awesome, by the way), I'll still be here on whatever the next wave is that comes through. We'll still get together for our weekly visits, and yes, I'll still be sewing. Because honestly, I love it. There isn't anything else I'd rather do.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Today I'm...

Fall Pumpkins Table Runner by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

...loving pumpkins.

...playing with flannel.

...jumping on the homemade granola bars bandwagon. If you'd like to jump with me, this recipe is a pretty fabulous place to start...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Malibu Satchel Tutorial

Malibu Satchel Tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I made my first version of this little satchel over a month ago, and though I normally write a tutorial while I'm making a project, in this case, I'm glad it didn't work out that way. Living with this bag for a month gave me a chance to find both the strengths and weaknesses in the design so that I could make some necessary adjustments. I added an interior pocket since I was tired of having to fish around for my cell phone in the first version. I also added more interfacing to the lining and the flap, giving the bag a lot more stability. There were a few other minor changes, and they all make this satchel much better than the original. At 9 x 10 x 3", this bag is just the right size -- big enough to hold all my stuff without making me feel like I have a suitcase strapped to my side. I also love having both a removable cross body strap and a small top handle to choose from when I'm on the go. I've already carried my new satchel around with me for a week, and yeah, I really love it. I've decided to call this one the Malibu Satchel, since it has the carefree vibe of that lovely beach community.

For this version I used Robert Kaufman's Railroad Denim with a medium stripe in Indigo as my main print. The heavy fabric makes a good exterior, and the width of the stripes is spot on. Sarah Watts' gorgeous Monarch lion print makes an incredible lining and flap accent, kind of like having a classic children's book illustration on your purse. I used Netorious in Roadster from the Cotton + Steel basics for the inside pocket and an off-white cotton webbing for the straps. My hardware accents are from Joann Fabrics, and this time I went with an antique brass finish which nicely complements the denim. I ended up using circle rings for the side loops, but you can substitute d-rings or rectangular rings if you like. The thread is Aurifil #2220, a light salmon color which is a perfect match for the lining and a fun contrast to the exterior. And yes, it all coordinates perfectly with my Tsuru Have-It-All Wallet!

1/2 yard of denim for bag exterior
1/2 yard of lion print for bag lining and flap accent
1/4 yard of salmon net print for interior pocket
1/2 yard of batting for interfacing
2 yards of off white cotton webbing, 1" wide
2 d-rings, circle rings, or rectangular rings for the side loops
2 lobster clasps for the cross body strap, 1" wide
1 magnetic closure for the flap
coordinating thread
adhesive basting spray

(2) 10 x 13" rectangles from denim for main body exterior
(2) 10 x 13" rectangles from lion print for main body lining
(4) 10 x 13" rectangles from batting for main body interfacing (exterior and lining)
(1) 7 x 10" rectangle from salmon net print for pocket
(1) 5 x 7" rectangle from batting for pocket interfacing
(1) 7 x 10" rectangle from denim for exterior flap
(1) 2 1/2 x 10" rectangle from lion print for exterior flap accent
(1) 9 x 10" rectangle from lion print for flap lining
(2) 9 x 10" rectangle from batting for flap interfacing
(1) 1 x 11"cotton webbing for top handle
(2) 1 x 3" cotton webbing for side loops
(1) 1 x 50" cotton webbing for cross body strap (adjust this as needed for your height -- I'm almost 5'11" tall!)

1. Fuse the 10 x 13" batting pieces to the wrong side of the main body exterior and lining pieces using the adhesive basting spray. Cut a 1 1/2" square out of the two lower corners of each piece (see photo).

2. Fuse the 5x 7" piece of batting to half of the pocket piece on the wrong side of the fabric.

Fold the fabric in half with right sides together and sew 1/4" from the edge around the folded piece, leaving a 4-5" gap on the long open side. Turn the piece right side out, tuck the raw edges into the gap, press, and sew 1/8" from the edge all around the piece.

Place the pocket on the right side of a main body lining piece, 2" from the top (13" long) edge and 3 1/4" from the (10" long) sides.

Sew twice (1/8" and 1/4" from the edge) along the sides and bottom of the pocket, backstitching at both ends and leaving the top open.

3. Insert half of the magnetic closure on the right side of the main body exterior, centered 4" from the top (13" long) edge.

4. Pin or clip the exterior pieces right sides together and sew along the sides and bottom, leaving the cut out squares open. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each side. Repeat with the lining pieces, but leave a 6" gap in the bottom of the lining for turning later on.

5. Box the lower corners of the exterior and lining. Pinch the open squares in the lower corners together so that the side seams meet. Sew 1/4" from the edge at least once -- I like to reinforce by doing it twice. Repeat for all three of the other open corners on the exterior and lining body pieces. Turn the exterior piece right side out.

6. Make the flap. Sew the exterior main flap and accent piece together along a 10" side (see photo). Fuse the batting to the wrong side of this piece. Top stitch 1/8" above and below the seam.

7. Fuse batting to the wrong side of the flap lining piece. Insert the other half of the magnetic closure centered about 1 1/2" from the top of the flap (look at this carefully if you're using directional fabric).

8. Use a round object like a cup as a guide to trim a curved section from the top corners of your flap lining and the bottom corners of your flap exterior (see photo). Place flap lining and flap exterior right sides together and sew 1/4" around the sides and bottom, leaving the top open and backstitching at both ends. Clip around the curves without cutting into the seam. 

Turn the flap right side out, pushing out the corners with a chopstick. Press and topstitch 1/8" from the edge around the sides and bottom of the flap.

9. Place the exterior side of the flap against the back side of the main body exterior (the side without the magnetic closure). Center it (it should be about 1 1/2" from the side seams) and line up the open raw edges of the flap with the top edge opening of the bag. Baste 1/4" from the raw edges to hold the flap in place.

10. Place the main body exterior inside the main body lining with right sides together. Be sure that the interior pocket is facing the flap lining where it's attached to the exterior main body. Clip or pin around the top edge, matching up the side seams first. Sew 1/2" from the edge.

11. Pull the bag right side out through the hole in the lining and give it a good pressing. Tuck the raw edges of the lining into the gap and stitch just along the edge to close it up, backstitching at both ends. Topstitch 1/8" from the edge of the bag opening all the way around, keeping the flap out of the way as you sew.

12. Make the top handle. Fold the short ends of the 1 x 11" handle piece under about 1" on each side.

Place the short folded end 1 1/2" from the side of the flap and 1 1/2" from the end of the flap that's sewn to the bag (see photo). Sew a 3/4" square with an X inside to hold it in place.

Repeat on the other side of the handle.

13. Make the side loops. Take a 1 x 3" piece of webbing and fold a short end under about 3/8". String your hardware of choice (d-ring, circle, or rectangle) onto the webbing. Fold the entire piece in half so the short ends meet, tucking one short end inside the 3/8" fold (see photo). Sew 1/8" from the 3/8" fold to hold this in place.

14. Place the side loop on one of the exterior side seams with the hardward pointed up toward the bag opening. Center the loop on the side seam about 3/4" from the opening. Sew 3 lines, 1/8" apart, from the lower short end of the loop, backstitching over each line once. Repeat on the other side of the bag with the other side loop.

15. Make the crossbody strap. Fold a short end of the long strap under 1/2". String on a lobster clasp and fold the short end under 1/2" one more time. Sew 1/2" from the end fold, backstitching at least twice over the line. Repeat on the other end of the strap with the other clasp. Attach the crossbody strap to the side loops, and you're done!

Malibu Satchel Tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

If you make a Malibu Satchel of your own, please share! Tag it #malibusatchel on Instagram and be sure to tag me too @fabricmutt. I hope you enjoy using this little bag as much as I do!

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Patchwork Happy Coaster by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Last night I was up late, tired from a long day and frustrated with my two younger daughters who simply would not fall asleep. Rather than sit upstairs and stew about it, I decided to head down to my sewing corner and make something happy. This little coaster was the result, and it definitely fits the bill for me. Sometimes I need to remember not to let circumstances dictate my emotions. Choosing joy can be such a powerful thing in our lives, and I'm often amazed at how changing my attitude can make things so much better!

The prints are a mix of favorites from my stash, all finishing at one inch square. I did a little embroidery on the front of this project, adding raindrops behind that cute little girl with her umbrella (by Alexander Henry, I believe) and underlining the message that jumped out at me when I laid eyes on this scrap of Alison Glass text print.

Patchwork Happy Coaster by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

The back of the coaster is one of Heather Ross's sweet bee prints. I also added a little twill tape loop on the side for fun.

You girls melted my heart with all your comments on my last post. I wish I had enough money and fabric to send you each a care package, and I admit, I couldn't resist adding a few more names to my list. Brenda, Jules, Fran, Marti, and Lynne have all received emails from me this afternoon. Please get your mailing addresses to me as soon as you can!

Have I mentioned that you all bless my socks off? I could sew by myself, but it would be awfully lonely without all of you to share it with me. Thanks for keeping me company!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Craft Book Month Blog Hop

Quilt Color Workshop Parquet Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

One of my favorite events of the year is the Craft Book Month Blog Hop hosted by Craft Buds. Now that I've gone through the process of writing a sewing book myself, I have a whole new level of respect for craft book authors. You're not just holding a book in your hands. Those pages represent..
  • almost two years spent dreaming, writing, sewing, photographing, editing, and rewriting
  • 2am bedtimes, 5am mornings, and gallons of caffeine laden beverages
  • endless sacrifices of family members who gave up time with the author to make that book possible
  • the author's heart, so full of hope that you will benefit from what he or she is sharing with you

It's easy for us to pick up a book, flip through the pages, and make a quick judgment of whether it's any good or not. I've been guilty of that myself. Now I look at the rows of colorful titles on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, and all I see is an ocean of blood, sweat, and tears. It makes me want to buy a copy of every new sewing book that comes out just to validate the work that I know went into it. As you can see by the stack above, which shows most of the books I've bought in the last year, I'm off to a good start. Meanwhile, I'm counting down the days until my book is released by Stash Books this coming March!

So let's get to the good stuff! For my book, I chose Quilt Color Workshop by the brilliant Fat Quarterly Team: Tacha Bruecher, Brioni Greenberg, Lynne Goldsworthy, and John Adams. This book is like a college course on sewing with color. After giving you an overview of the basics, the book is divided into six sections -- by color, of course -- each filled with quilt block designs and a variety of projects. I absolutely love that each quilt block is presented in six different colorways, illustrating the six color relationships described in the introduction.

It took me days to settle on just one project from this book, but I finally chose Tacha's Parquet Pillow. The original version above is done in a monotone colorway of green, white, and black. At first glance it looks like a simple cross design made more complicated, but all those thin strips of fabric sewn together give this pillow top an incredible sense of texture.

Quilt Color Workshop Parquet Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I chose to make my pillow slightly smaller (nine blocks instead of sixteen) and went with a color scheme of purple, green, and cream. The colors are a bit out of my comfort zone, but I absolutely love the way it turned out. Most of my prints were from the new Cotton and Steel Basics, including the tiny green accents between the blocks, with favorite designs from Waterfront Park and Architextures mixed in too. The creamy background fabrics are Quilter's Linen and a great Paris map print by 3 Sisters.

Quilt Color Workshop Parquet Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I used cream colored thread by Aurifil for all of the quilting. Since the blocks have more than enough movement in themselves with all that piecing, I restricted my quilting to the sashing and outer border of the pillow. 

The envelope backing features one of my all time favorite prints: Star Pods in green from Les Amis by Patty Sloniger. I decided to skip the binding around the edge of the pillow cover to keep things simple. I am absolutely thrilled with how this pillow turned out, and for the record, my husband insists that this is one of his favorite things I've made. He loves the limited color palette and simple design. Again, the texture of this piecing is fantastic. My girls love to run their fingers over the pillow top when they cuddle with it on the couch in the family room, and I admit, I do the same when no one's looking!

This book is packed full of gorgeous projects that I want to try. Right now I'm trying to decide between Brioni's stunning color wheel quilt on the book cover or Lynne's amazing Calm Before the Storm quilt shown above. Decisions, decisions...

Keep reading for all the details on the Craft Book Month Blog Hop -- prizes included!

2014 Craft Book Month Blog Hop!

Monday 9/1: Fabric MuttLindsay Sews
Tuesday 9/2: Rae Gun Ramblings / Craftside
Wednesday 9/3: The Feisty RedheadThe Fabric Studio
Thursday 9/4:  Marci Girl Designs / Small Town Stitcher
Friday 9/5: LRstitched / A Prairie Sunrise
Monday 9/8: Hopeful Threads / sewVery
Tuesday 9/9: 13 Spools / Lisa Liza Lou
Wednesday 9/10: Stitch This! / My Sewcial Hour
Thursday 9/11: The Littlest Thistle / Fabric Seeds
Friday 9/12: Sew Sweetness / Clover + Violet
Monday 9/15: Inspire Me Grey / amylouwho

Link Up

9/1-9/30: Link up your craft book project at Craft Buds from your blog, your Flickr or (NEW THIS YEAR) Instagram, and enter to win prizes. Please hashtag your posts #craftbookmonth so we can find them!
Note: Even if you share on instagram, please also come back and link the instagram URL in the linkup tool on Craft Buds to be eligible for prizes!
You may link up any project you’ve made from a pattern in a craft book. That easy! You’ll tell us a little about the book, the project, how you personalized it, etc. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, October, 1!


1) One entry per person. 
2) Your craft book project must have been completed in 2014. 
3) Create a new blog post, instagram or Flickr photo (dated September 1, 2014 or later) and link back to Craft Buds/Craft Book Month in your post or photo description. In your post or photo description, make sure to list the craft book you used and provide a link if possible.
4) All winners chosen via Random.org. Some prizes available to international winners, so please join us!


Visit Craft Buds and link up your craft book project during the window of Sept 1-30 and you’ll automatically be entered to win some fantastic prizes from the Craft Book Month sponsors!
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