Bessie Bunny debuts in Sew-a-Softie 2018

Meet Bessie Bunny. She is having her big debut today on Sew-a-Softie.


Sew-a-Softie is an annual month-long event in July that expands all forms of social media. It was created by Trixi at Coloured Buttons. Please go to Trixi's website for a link to all the wonderful people who are participating in this blog hop. Wait until you see all the free patterns and tutorials. They will be awesome. Just use the tag #sewasoftie to find them. There will also be lots of fun prizes. We would love to see your creations, so please post them on facebook. 

Thank you to Shannon Fabrics for donating Bessie's sweet fabric for her body and tail. Thank you to Fairfield World for donating her soft stuffing. By the way, on the back of all the Fairfield World bags of poly-fil there is always a cute pattern and now they even include a stuffing stick to assist in the process of stuffing. 


Bessie is so easy to sew by machine or by hand. She only requires scrap fabric about the size of a piece of paper and a handful of poly-fil stuffing. I used Shannon Fabrics Cuddle 3 in Baby Pink for the body and their Monkey Shag Fur in Baby Pink for the tail which is only 4" wide. I also used a teeny-tiny piece of Liberty London tawn fabric for the inside of the ears. 

Here are some links to tutorials on hand sewing stitches. You basically only need the backstitch for constructing Bessie and then a french knot for her eyes. The ears and tail are put on with a whip stitch and the running stitch is for basting the tail. 

Click here for Bessie Bunny's template

NOTE: This project uses a 1/4" seam allowance and it is included in the template.


Print the template twice. Cut out the templates. 


Following the instructions on the template cut the fabric with the nap of the fabric going in the downward position.




Sew the two body pieces together along the sides and top with right sides together. Leave the bottom open. 



With the body still inside out, attach the bottom to the body with right sides together. Leave a two inch opening.




Turn right side out.



Fill the body with poly-fil.



Close the bottom with a hand whip stitch.



Sew the ears with right sides together, leaving the bottom open.


Turn right side out.



Fold the bottom of the ears up and inside.


Then attach to the head with a hand whip stitch and pinching the ear a little in the middle for a simple pleat.



Baste around the edge of the tail leaving two long lengths of thread.


Pull the lengths of thread to form the tail into a ball leaving a very small opening to fill the the tail ball.



Stuff the tail ball with poly-fil.



Sew the tail ball closed with a whip stitch. Use something thin like a bamboo stick to pull the long pile from out of the sitches.



Attach the tail to the body of the bunny.


Add the eyes with the french knot stitch.


Hoppy trails to you and your bunny!



Oly-Fun™ Metallic Piping

Thank you to "Fairfield Processing" for providing the Oly-Fun™ Metallic for this blog post. I am so grateful that you donated some, as I have now fallen in love with it.

Oly-Fun™ Metallic is an innovative craft material that in every way resembles fabric.  It even comes on a bolt. If you love bling, you will love this. It is ideal in a cutting machine or in crafts that you do not want to sew. It is easy to sew and does not fray. It can be spot cleaned. It is available at local craft/sewing stores. The place I see it the most is at the end of an aisle at Hobby Lobby.  They have all the wonderful array of the basic colors as well as the four metallics in gold, silver, red, and a gorgeous rose gold.

Oly-Fun™ Metallic  in luscious colors of gold, rose gold, silver, and red

Oly-Fun™ Metallic in luscious colors of gold, rose gold, silver, and red

Since Oly-Fun™ Metallic is so similar to fabric I wanted to put it to the test and see how well it would do under pressure. I made piping out of Oly-Fun™ Metallic for a project that is upcoming. It worked beautifully and because it does not fray, I decided to try making a longer piece without a seam. It was great! Instead of sewing the two ends together like traditional fabric, you pick up one end and slide the other end underneath, pull it tight under the binding foot and continue sewing.  It was a breeze to sew and saved some time by not having to seam it first. I have instructions below on how to makes piping with Oly-Fun™ Metallic with both methods – traditional method of sewing the seams and the Oly-Fun™ way that does not need sewing.

Traditional piping with a sewn seam

Traditional piping with a sewn seam

Easy piping with  Oly-Fun™ Metallic  does not need a seam

Easy piping with Oly-Fun™ Metallic does not need a seam

No seam on the left and with a seam on the right

No seam on the left and with a seam on the right

Some things to keep in mind when using Oly-Fun™ Metallic in general:

·      Use “Wonder Clips” instead of pins so that marks are not left in the material

·      Be careful sewing as marks will be left if a seam must be ripped out

·      Be careful that the feed dogs do not leave a mark when the right side will be down against the feed dogs

·      If using it with a stretch fabric, consider placing the piping under the fabric when attaching to avoid puckers

·      While Oly-Fun™ Metallic does not have a grain, it does have a slight texture that should be kept in mind when planning your project

Texture of  Oly-Fun™ Metallic

Texture of Oly-Fun™ Metallic

·      Do not bend or fold the material as it will leave permanent creases

Oly-Fun™ Metallic  with permanent creases

Oly-Fun™ Metallic with permanent creases

·      Use a sharp needle that is as small as possible so that marks are not seen from the needle

·      Do not use it on a project that will require washing



·      Cording for piping the width and length necessary for your project (pictures are 3/8” cording and 12” long)

3/8" cording used for this tutorial

3/8" cording used for this tutorial

·      Oly-Fun™ Metallic - cut the width to be the circumference of the cording plus 2” if you are using a ½” seam allowance and the length the perimeter of your project

·      A Piping/Cording foot for your machine is very helpful, but a zipper foot can also be used

A piping foot has a groove to hold the piping

A piping foot has a groove to hold the piping

The piping foot holds the piping/cord in place while you stitch

The piping foot holds the piping/cord in place while you stitch


·      Rotary Cutter

·      Self-healing Cutting Mat

·      A “Piping Magic Tool” is a great help in trimming the piping (


Cut your cording and Oly-Fun™ Metallic to the desired length and width. The width of the Oly-Fun™ Metallic should be the circumference of the cording plus 2” if you are using a ½” seam allowance, otherwise, adjust accordingly. This allows for the material to go around the cording and create a margin of fabric on both sides that accommodates a ½” seam allowance. For example, I used 3/8” cording and cut the width to be 2” (the pictures show 3”, but my actual project used 2”).


If you would like to connect your pieces of Oly-Fun™ Metallic the traditional method before piping then, sew the two ends right sides together with ¼” seam allowance (it does not need the bulk and will not fray so a small seam allowance can be used).

Only a 1/4" seam is necessary with  Oly-Fun™ Metallic

Only a 1/4" seam is necessary with Oly-Fun™ Metallic


Replace your standard foot with a piping/cording foot.  This foot has a groove that allows the cord to stay in place while you are sewing close to the cord. It is important to adjust the placement of the needle so that the needle lands just to the right of the cord, but does not catch the material wrapped around the cord.

Adjust the needle placement so that it is just to the right of the cord

Adjust the needle placement so that it is just to the right of the cord


Wrap the width of the Oly-Fun™ Metallic tightly around the cord and match the raw edges with wrong sides together.


Slip the cording with the Oly-Fun™ Metallic under the piping foot, pulling the material tight around the cord. Sew with a regular stitch length.

Place the piping foot over the cord and the needle to the right of the cord

Place the piping foot over the cord and the needle to the right of the cord


Stop 2” before you reach the end of the material. Lift the material up and slide the next piece under the first piece about ½”. Place the sewn piece on top and pull tight. Align the raw edges.

Stop sewing 2" before the end of the material and slide the next piece inside

Stop sewing 2" before the end of the material and slide the next piece inside

The material should overlap 1/2" and be tight

The material should overlap 1/2" and be tight


Continue sewing the piping until you reach the end.


At the cutting mat, trim the raw edges of the piping to ½” (or wider if needed for your project). A “Piping Magic Tool” slips over the cording and gives you an automatic ½” seam allowance to allow for easy straight cutting.

Trim easily with a special grooved acrylic ruler

Trim easily with a special grooved acrylic ruler

Trim to 1/2"

Trim to 1/2"


Now you are ready to add it to your project. Follow the pattern guidelines. In general, you place the raw edge of the piping on the edge of the right side of the fabric and using the piping foot, you place the piping under the foot and sew in exactly the same place as before.

Place the piping on the raw edge and stitch with the piping foot

Place the piping on the raw edge and stitch with the piping foot

Then you add the second piece of fabric on top with right sides together. You place the piping under the foot and sew in exactly the same place as before. Fold the fabric back and the piping will be on the edge sandwiched between two pieces of fabric. If your project uses it in a different method, please refer to those instructions.

Add the second piece to the top and stitch again with the piping foot

Add the second piece to the top and stitch again with the piping foot

Finished piping inserted into two pieces of fabric

Finished piping inserted into two pieces of fabric

5 yards of gold piping ready for a great project

5 yards of gold piping ready for a great project

Fairfield Processing has many projects on their website using Oly-Fun™ Metallic. A tray to keep food warm or cold while serving will be posted on their website that includes using Oly-Fun™ Metallic piping. Hope you enjoy it!

Appliquéing on Cuddle® Fabric

Appliqué is a wonderful sewing technique that allows you to sew one piece of fabric on top of another in a decorative manner to form pictures or patterns. It can be used on clothing, quilts, accessories, or basically anything that you can sew.  The hard part is getting the two fabrics to stay in exactly the same place while you are sewing.  Of course, for some people, it may be one of the other processes such as the actual sewing or the precision cutting, which is a challenge.


Appliquéing Cuddle® fabric adds another wonderful dimension of a plush nap that must also be taken into account when appliquéing, but the soft plush nature of Cuddle® makes it well worth an extra step or two to get perfect and easy appliquéing. 

There are a few of you that read my blog that are relatively new to sewing, so I do not want to assume that you know what I mean by the term “Cuddle® fabric.”  Here is a link to a blog post on Cuddle® fabric that is manufactured by Shannon Fabrics.

One great thing about Cuddle® is that it does not fray, which means that you can appliqué on the raw edge and do not need to take the extra step of turning the fabric under.  That is an advantage that I love.  I have always loved appliquéing wool for that same reason. 

There are many methods of appliquéing Cuddle®, but I am only reviewing two of them in this blog post. Of course, they are the two that I use and love. One technique uses a sticky backing designed just for appliqué and the other does not. Using the backing is super simple, but I have included the instructions on how not to use it because sometimes you want to appliqué right away and you just do not have it on hand. I know that one all too well.

We live in a day and age where there is a product for everything and appliquéing is no different. There are so many different products for appliquéing. Since I am a machine embroiderer, I have a tendency to stay with a company that I trust for that purpose – Floriani (a division of RNK Distributing). I love all of their stabilizers for machine embroidery, so it was natural for me to try their Appli-Kay Wonder product and I love it just as much as I love all their other stabilizers. It is a double-sided fusible with an iron on fuse on one side and a sticky adhesive on the other. You iron the backside of the fabric that will be cut so you can trace the design directly onto the back and THEN cut it out.  This saves the step of cutting out the paper design to trace. 


The other alternative to using a double-sided fusible product is to cut the appliqué out and spray the back of it with a temporary adhesive like Odif’s 505 Spray and Fix or Sulky’s KK 2000. Personally, when it comes to appliquéing, I love the Sulky just a little bit better. I have a tendency to use the 505 when I baste quilting and the Sulky for appliquéing.

You may feel timid about ironing a fusible on the back of a polyester microfiber plush fabric, but if you are using a good quality microfiber plush fabric like Cuddle®, you have no worries. Because it is high quality, the back can withstand a medium heat setting on an iron or even a high setting for a few seconds. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for applying the double-sided fusible for appliquéing. If the guidelines call for pressing on the top side of the fabric, please use a pressing cloth on top of the fabric.  The Appli-Kay Wonder product has you press the backside of the fabric, so there is no need to use a pressing cloth. As always, it is a good practice to test the fabric with the fusible first.


At this point, it is the same for all appliquéing. Applying the appliqué to the other fabric is where it starts to make a difference for a napped fabric such as Cuddle®.


To be honest, if that was the end of the story, this blog post would not be any different than everyone else’s on how to appliqué. It is this next step that takes appliquéing Cuddle® to the level of precision. The key is using a product that machine embroiderers call a “topper.” It is a clear water-soluble product that looks like the plastic wrap that you use in the kitchen. It is usually manufactured by companies that produce stabilizers and in an instance where a stabilizer is recommended, a topper can possibly be used in lieu of the stabilizer, with the exception of machine embroidery where a stabilizer is always needed and the topper is just added to the others.


Now not all toppers are created the same. I have used just about all the different brands and let me tell you that most have almost brought me to tears when they rip while machine embroidering and I have to start all over again. I have found that the product, “Floriani Water Soluble Topping,“ is thin enough for the needle to glide through and yet strong enough not to rip.


It is an interesting product.  The needle just goes right through it as if it does not exist.  This is not true of all toppers as some are so tough the needle has to work to puncture it. I apply the topper with Sulky’s KK 2000. I cut the topper, spray it, and then apply it to the top of the entire piece to be appliquéd, i.e., the appliqué and the bottom piece of fabric. I proceed to appliqué as if the topper was not there.  It keeps all the fibers in the same direction and leaves a distinct impression as to where you should appliqué the straight lines and the fingers of the stitch.


INSTRUCTIONS for Appliquéing for Cuddle®


BEFORE any cutting, determine the direction of the Cuddle® fabric. The bottom fabric and the appliqué fabric should be going in the same downward direction.


Cut out the Cuddle® fabric that will be the top appliqué using the traditional trace and cut method,


or adhering an appliqué product to the back and then cutting it out.



Lay the bottom Cuddle® fabric and the appliqué Cuddle® fabric next to each other and brush the nap in the same direction. This step is important. You want to smooth out the nap so that the fibers are all lying in the same direction.

TIP: Because Cuddle® fabric has a nap, you can trace the placement of the appliqué onto the bottom of the fabric with your finger or a blunt object. This allows for perfect placement without the need of using a tracing pen.



If you are using a temporary spray adhesive, spray the back of the fabric and then lay it on top of the bottom fabric.

If you are using a fusible, remove the paper backing and apply it to the bottom fabric.


Smooth the nap once again; making sure it is in the same direction.



Cut out a piece of water-soluble topper that is larger than the appliqué. Spray one side of it with a temporary adhesive.

TIP: Always spray temporary adhesives in an area where there is no computer equipment or anything that can be harmed by the spray. I always spray into a cardboard box that I have folded up in my laundry room just for this purpose. 


Apply the topper with the sprayed side down on top of the appliqué. It should cover the entire piece of appliqué as well as several inches of the bottom fabric.



Appliqué like normal using a zig-zag stitch or your favorite decorative stitch like the traditional blanket stitch.



Once all the appliqué stitching is complete, gently tear the water-soluble topper away from the fabric. If any of the shiny filament remains, you can use a damp cloth to remove it or if you are going to be washing your Cuddle® fabric then it will quickly wash away then.


Enjoy appliquéing. Please let me know what you think of this technique.

By the way, technically this article is not sponsored by Shannon Fabrics. Sulky, Odif, Floriani, or any other company, as I am not getting paid to write it and I paid for all the fabrics in the pictures, but yes, I am a Shannon Fabrics Brand Ambassador, which means I get paid to be an educator for them when I teach at a fabric shop for them. There will be later posts on how to sew with Cuddle® and some of its unique properties. 





Meet Harry Hippo!

Meet Harry Hippo! He is a softie and I mean a real softie. He is stuffed with Fairfield World’s Poly-Fil Supreme® Ultra Plush Fiber Fill. Thank you, Fairfield for donating this wonderful Poly-Fil. It is so soft, I just cannot stop squeezing Harry.

Harry was created just for Sew-a-Softie month of July. Today is his day to debut. He is joining the Sew-a-Softie club that has been going on over at Facebook. He has lots of friends over there, even a piece of pizza and an amazing pencil with paper. They have a public group that you can join and see all the other softies that have been created for the month, with a few still left to join the club through the 31st.  Trixi, the originator of this event, has a list of all the month long softie tutorials on her website.

You can sew Harry by hand or with a sewing machine. In addition to the two resources for how to hand sew listed in my previous blog post of Sew-a-Softie, I thought you would like this more comprehensive one also that is a pdf



Click here to download hippo template


Fat Quarter of cotton for the main fabric

OPTIONAL: Scrap of fabric for the inside of the ears

Good quality thread in a coordinating color

Hand Needle (or sewing machine)

Fairfield World’s Poly-Fil Supreme® Ultra Plush Fiber Fill

Embroidery Thread for the eyes and nose

Embroidery Needle


Frixion Erasable Pen

Pins or Pattern Weights

Shears & Trimming Scissors

Point turner or some other blunt, but pointed object

Pen or pencil for tracing the pattern



This project uses 1/4” seam allowances.

You may press this fabric, but finger pressing is sufficient if you use cotton. 

Please read the instructions below before beginning. Gather the materials and supplies. No need to pre-wash the main fabric.


Download the template and print it. Cut it out along the solid lines.

Position pattern pieces on fabric to verify the placement before cutting. Fold fat quarter cotton fabric in half. Place the gusset pattern along the fold. Pin in place. Cut out.


Place the hippo body and ear pattern over the remaining fabric, pin in place, and cut out. Using the Frixion pen, mark point A and B on the hippo body and gusset. Also, mark an opening on the hippo back about 2” long.


Cut out the inside of the ears from the scrap fabric.


Embroider the eyes and nose with French knots on the body of the hippo.


Place the two hippo body pieces right sides together. Pin along edges matching point A with A and B with B.


Stitch from point A to point B, but do not sew over the opening.


Lay the hippo body on its back with the underside up. With right sides together, pin the gusset to the underside, lining up point A with A and point B with B.


Stitch the gusset in place.


Clip the curves and check that all seams are closed on both sides.


Turn right side out and push out corners with a turner.


Through the opening in the back of the body, fill the body generously with poly-fil.


Stitch the opening closed.


Place the outside fabric of the ear right side up. Place the inside of the ear fabric on top of it with right sides together. Stitch around the curve and not the flat side.


Turn right side out. Fold the flat edge up 1/4" into the ear opening and finger press the flat edge to the inside of the ear. Stitch the ear closed.


Fold the ear in half lengthwise with the inner part facing the front of the face. Stitch the ear to each side of the head of the hippo.

Watch out! You never know where you may meet a hippo.

Have fun introducing Harry to his new family. 

July is Sew-a-Softie Month

Softies are simple sewing projects that can be stuffed with poly-fil. They are anything from super easy to more complex creations. This Sew-a-Softie project started as an initiative to encourage young people and adults who have never sewn that sewing is easy and fun. It was started in Australia by Trixi Symonds who was recently featured in the magazine, Creative Machine Embroidery.

2016 was the debut of this international event and this year it has evolved into a month long affair. There is a dedicated website at and a Facebook group - Sew a Softie

You will want to follow "Sew a Softie" on your Facebook account as there will be a great giveaway, or follow the Sew a Softie blog for a chance at the giveaway. Click here is a list of all the items on the giveaway list .

If you have never sewn before or would like to teach someone else, this is a great place to start.  All month there will be free patterns and tips. Here are two excellent resources to learn how to hand sew:

Red Ted Art  has great videos explaining the  basic stitches

Red Ted Art has great videos explaining the basic stitches

There is a roundup of crafty people coming together to share their talents for this project. Below is a list of the first 15 days of the roundup. Please click on their website on their day to see what they have designed just for you.

July 1 – Trixi Symonds at Coloured Buttons

July 2 – Tina at Miss Daisy Patterns  

July 3 - Mignon Prider Design 

July 4 – Maggy at Red Ted Art

July 5 – Abbie at While She Naps

July 6 –Mollie at Wild Olive 

You will not want to miss Mollie's adorable alpaca today.  Llama's and alpacas are the rave lately. 

July 7 - Elisa Allen at Make Film Play

July 8 – Laura at Colourful Minds

July 9 – Zoe at Love Patchwork & Quilting

July 10 –Amie at Sewing School Book

July 10- Nic Hahn at Mini Matisse

July 11 - Damjanaat AppleGreen Cottage

July 12 – MaryAnne at Mama Smiles

July 13 – Amalia at Handmade by Amalia

July 14 – Joanna at The Blue Barn

July 15 Penny at Mother Natured 

Have fun sewing and if you can, teach someone else to sew too. 

How to Sew a Pillowcase Dress

The best sewing projects are when they are done together with a friend. A friend of mine texted me, and asked if I would help her reestablish her sewing skills by making pillowcase dresses for her daughters. Oh, I loved the idea – fellowship and sewing – it does not get any better than that.

Pillowcase dress on the sweetest girl with a matching purse and rosettes made by her mom.

Pillowcase dress on the sweetest girl with a matching purse and rosettes made by her mom.

Simplicity has a pattern designed just for pillowcase dresses. Pattern 2391 sounded like it was just perfect for her first project in several years.  We started out by perusing the pillowcases, the pattern, and finally finding dresses that were a good fit and length for the girls, so we could use them as a guide, since the girls were in school and we could not measure them.

After scanning the pattern and the instructions, I decided that view A and C were best, as they did not have the bottom band and I cut it out the front piece quickly. We measured the front piece with the girls’ dresses and then with the pillowcases to make sure that it all fit. The pattern uniquely has two instructions – one for fabric dresses – one for true pillowcase dresses. We opted for the dress made from a pillowcase.  My friend had purchased them so inexpensively and that was her goal with a pillowcase dress - inexpensive repurposed dress.

My big mistake, which turned out to be a good modification to the pattern, was that I did not see where it called for bias binding on the envelope.  It is usually in the “Notions” section, but it only said, “Thread. Look for Simplicity notions and Wrights trims.” That did not help as the pattern instructions clearly set out steps for using bias tape.  I did not know how wide or how much. That was fine with me, I love making my own bias, so I did not look any further on the pattern envelope and just proceeded to instruct my friend on making her own. So here are our instructions on how to make a pillowcase dress. (By the way, the pattern envelope does tell how much and how wide, but it is in the middle of the envelope after the fabric yardage for each view.)

How to Sew a Pillowcase Dress

(with bias made from the pillowcase)

STEP 1 - Gather supplies

Pillowcase (do not cut any seams)

Coordinating thread

2 3/8 yard of ribbon

Measurements or one garment such as a dress that can be used for measurements

A pattern or a garment that can be used for drafting an arm opening (aka armscye)

STEP 2 – Fold the pillowcase lengthwise. Layout the dress on the pillowcase to determine the placement, width and length of the dress. Mark or otherwise indicate the top of the dress. 

STEP 3 – Place the armscye )sleeve opening) pattern or dress on the seams of the pillowcase, lining up the top with that of the top line that you measured in Step 2.

STEP 4 – Cut the armscye and the top of the pillowcase straight to the edge of the fold.

Notice that we had extra width compared to the pattern, but that was good and could be taken in when gathered by the ribbon.

Notice that we had extra width compared to the pattern, but that was good and could be taken in when gathered by the ribbon.

STEP 5 – With the leftover pillowcase fabric cut four 2 inch strips that are the width of the pillowcase (not the diameter – you can cut the seams so there are two widths when you cut).  Two will be used for the bias binding on the sleeve openings (armscye). Two will be used for the casing on the neck for the ribbon.

STEP 6 – Press two bias strips in half lengthwise.

STEP 7 – Press the other two bias strips with a fold ¼” from the bottom.

STEP 8 – Pin the bias strip that has been pressed in half to the sleeve opening on the right side. 

2016-04-15 11.10.24.jpg

Cut any extra bias fabric at the end to match with the armscye. Do it for both armscyes.

STEP 9 – Sew the bias strip to each armscyce using a ½” seam allowance.

STEP 10 – Press the bias strip flat.

STEP 11 – Trim the seam allowance to 3/8”.

STEP 12 – Fold the bias strip down and sew it close to the edge. 

STEP 13 – Press the armscyes.

STEP 14 – To make the ribbon casing, pin the other bias strip with the ¼” fold to the neckline and fold the ends in about ½” from the end. Cut any extra bias fabric at the end to match with the neckline. Do it for the front and back.

STEP 15 – Press the bias strip flat – being careful not to loose the ¼” fold.

STEP 16 - Fold the bias strip down and sew it close to the edge of the ¼” fold.

STEP 17 – Press the neckline.

STEP 18 – Cut the ribbon in half and thread each through the casing made at the neckline. Do this for the front and the back, then tie the ribbons together at the shoulders to finish the dress.

My friend and I had a fun and productive morning together, but it was too short, so we decided that we needed to do it again soon. She would love to continue repurposing. What sewing projects have you sewn that are repurposed?






How to Prep Fabric for Neckline Embroidery

Machine embroidering a garment is so much fun.  You get the pleasure of both embroidering it and wearing it.  Many of us just embroider to enhance premade garments, but on those special garments, we even break down and create the whole garment. We do not get to do as much embroidering, but for some of us, garment construction is as much fun (well…almost).

Personally, I get extra enjoyment when I am embroidering for my family. My college daughter asked me to embroider her a Mexican flower peasant blouse, but after purchasing several patterns and fabrics, we settled on a tunic design.

She chose Simplicity 4149 with the cap sleeves from Simplicity 1461.  The fabric is a handkerchief weight cotton from Spechler-Vogel. Choosing the embroidery design was the easiest part.  I just loved Embroidery Online's Flores de Mexico. It looks and sounds so authentic. Their color combination that they chose to stitch out is just beautiful with a rich turquoise. My daughter chose a bright and neon combination from Floriani that just pops and screams, "Young."

It took me a little while before I had to courage to tackle this project as my daughter is a great machine embroider and I knew she would not be happy if the placement was not just right, but I also knew that if anyone would appreciate it, it would be her. 

The best strategy that I decided was to prep the fabric with all the necessary markings. When I purchased the fabric I did not have the foresight to buy extra since I knew it did not have a nap or a design. Next time I would definitely buy an extra half yard so I could put it in the hoop comfortably. Since I was right up to the edge on everything, I decided that I did not have any room for mistakes and would embroider with that mind set.

All the other pieces were cut out and I left the front of the pattern uncut. I traced the front pattern with a blue chalk onto the fabric. I knew that after multiple hoping that the chalk lines would not remain and I was not sure if they would be visible to the sewing machine's camera, so I decided to baste the chalk lines with a red cotton thread.

The seam allowance on the neckline was very important, as well as, the center front line and the placement for the front placket.  

In hindsight I needed the sleeve seam allowance also, so I wound up drawing them in when I was at that point.

For me the biggest decision was what stabilizer to use.  My daughter kept insisting that she wanted a wash away, but my I did not feel comfortable doing that with such a lightweight fabric combined with a heavy design.  That was not a good mix in the first place. I practiced with a wash away and was not happy with it. She loves the convenience of the tear away, but I went against all her wishes and used the "No Show Mesh Nylon Cutaway Fusible Stabilizer" by Floriani. Of course, I was a smart mom and did not tell her what I used until she said she loved it. 

The stabilizer was applied to cover the entire area that was going to be embroidered, including the area where it would need to be hooped, but the fabric would not be in the hoop. Here is where I would have loved to have had those extra inches of fabric, but since the fabric was so thin, it would hoop so evenly and tightly that it would not even make a difference.

My daughter loved the placement of the Embroidery Online tunic, so I tried to duplicate it as much as possible. After close examination, we determined that the main bottom center design was actually two designs stitched on top of each other. 

The camera and snowman feature of my Babylock Ellisimo Gold were lifesavers. Even in the placement of the first design I used the snowman first, then the camera, to make sure the placement was exactly matched up with all my stitching lines.  Thankfully, it was right where I wanted it. I stitched the first design and then used the camera to find the placement of the second design. Presto! Right on the mark again. I cannot imagine having embroidered this project without that scanning feature. 

Most everything fit exactly as I had imagined it, with the exception of the sleeve area.  The very end of the scroll goes into the seam allowance, but that was adjusted when I sewed by taking it just right to the edge of the scroll and right there is the best part about constructing your own garments instead of purchasing them to embellish. 

Which do you prefer to embroider on - ready-made garments or constructing your own garments?





Illuminated Manuscript Quilted Pillow Pattern

Next Saturday, March 19th, is National Quilting Day. I think “National” days are so much fun, but I really like to know about them ahead of time, so a quilted pillow pattern is just the thing to celebrate National Quilting Day next week.  You can accomplish this project in one day and by telling you ahead of time, you can gather your supplies and do it next Saturday – actually on National Quilting Day. Now that is planning. 

Machine Embroidery Designs by Sonia Showalter

Machine Embroidery Designs by Sonia Showalter

Medieval illuminated manuscripts were the inspiration for this pillow. The pillow is a combination of quilting and machine embroidery in gold metallic thread. The machine embroidery designs were from Sonia Showalter and were sewn after it was quilted using the Snap Hoop Monster by Designs in Machine Embroidery. I think another idea would be to embroider actual words in the blank parchment block. 

If you do not have a embroidery machine, do not let that hinder you. The pillow does not need to be embellished or you could even embroider it by hand as hand embroidery is really becoming very popular again. DMC, a manufacturer of excellent embroidery threads, has a page dedicated to the different stitches on their website and there are wonderful YouTube demonstrations just waiting for you to google



1 fat quarter of parchment silk dupioni

1 fat quarter of royal blue silk dupioni (also 1 additional matching fat quarter is needed for the back of the pillow, if you are making the pillow)

18” square of batting

18” square of muslin


B1 = 2 pieces 2.75" by 13.5" for outer border

B2 = 2 pieces 2.75" by 18" for outer border

B3 = 1 piece 4.5" by 4.5" for main block

B4 = 2 pieces 2.5" by 8.5" for stripes off block


P1 = 1 piece 1.5" by 13.5" for inner border

P2 = 1 piece 1.5" by 12.5" for inner border

P3 = 3 pieces 1.5" by 8.5" for stripes background

P4 = 1 piece 8.5" by 9.5" for main parchment block

LAYOUT: The layout is available as a PDF here.


  1. Stitch block P3 to each side of block B4.
  2. Attach this new block to B3 on the right side.
  3. Sew P3 and B4 together.
  4. Sew P4 to B4 of this new block.
  5. Attach this new block to the bottom of B3 that was made in step 2.
  6. Connect P2 to the block created in step 5.
  7. Connect P1 to the block created in step 6.
  8. Add B2 to the right sides of the block created in step 7.
  9. Add B1 to the top and bottom of the block created in step 8.

This finishes the creation of the block.  It can now be quilted. I stitched in the ditch to highlight the blue blocks only.

Once the quilt top has been quilted, you would sew it like any other pillow that has piping/cording and a zipper. 

To complete the pillow I also used:

20” matching royal blue zipper

20” square pillow form

2 ¼ yd gold cording 

(also 1 additional royal blue fat quarter of silk dupioni is needed for the back of the pillow, if you did not include it in the quilt top)


When finishing the pillow, Pam Damour’s instructions in her PDF entitled Pam Damour's Foot Notes - Ten Steps to a Perfect Pillow, are fabulous. Take note of her special technique to taper the corners.  This is really important and makes all the difference in making an elegant pillow.  Thank you Pam for sharing this important tip with all of us. By the way, she does have several acrylic templates for sale on her website for tapering those corners.  Pretty clever!

My version of the illuminated manuscript quilted pillow has been submitted to the Second Annual Nancy Zieman Pillow Challenge. The deadline for submissions is March 20th and online voting begins March 22nd, so I will surely be linking to that voting page then. The grand prize is a Baby Lock Anna sewing machine and that would be wonderful to take along when I teach sewing. 


Next Saturday is also National Let’s Laugh Day, so truly enjoy next Saturday.  So what are you doing to celebrate?


Mustache Pillow Pattern

March is National Craft Month and to help you celebrate it is a pattern for a sewn mustache pillow.  Several years ago, mustaches were in vogue. Everything had a mustache on it and funny antidotes were made with “mustache” – like my blog page entitled “Mustache a Question.”

Our youngest son fell for the craze and asked if I would make him a mustache pillow for his room, which you can tell was a while ago since it is so faded, but those are the kind of requests that a mother jumps up and down about – teenage son asking to me to sew!!! It was done in a flash.

When I was recently cleaning my sewing shelves, I noticed that I still had the pattern in my metal sewing box, so it was perfect for sharing with you this month. Hopefully, mustaches are still faddy enough for you to still enjoy.



¼ yard fabric

Stuffing for the pillow

Pattern to download – Part one herePart two here

Invisible tape to use for the pattern

Usual sewing paraphernalia and a machine (or can be sewn by hand)


NOTES: 1.  Pattern uses ½” seam allowance.  2.  The quarter is for reference.  Please make sure it is the same size as an actual quarter when you print the pattern.


STEP 1 - Wash and dry your fabric because a pillow is always cuddled, so it will need to be washed eventually. Press if necessary.

STEP 2 - Download the pattern above and tape the two parts together by connecting Part 1 with Part 2 by matching the 1A to the 2A and the 1B to the 2B. Then cut out the pattern on the cutting line.

STEP 3 - Place the pattern on the fold of the fabric and cut two from the fabric.

STEP 4 - Lay fabric with right sides together and sew with a ½” seam allowance leaving a 3” opening at one of the widest edges, but not in the middle or an end.

STEP 5 - SPECIAL SEWING INSTRUCTIONS for the points – When you are about 3 stitches away from the point which will be a little over the ½” from the edge – STOP – change your thread stitch length to the smallest possible. Stitch half way from the starting point to the edge then pivot – STITCH 3 stitches – then pivot and stitch to same place that your started, but now on the other side – STOP – change your thread stitch length back to its normal position and proceed with sewing.  DO NOT sew to the point of the mustache and then pivot.  It will not make an accurate point.

STEP 6 - Trim and clip corners and curves.

STEP 7 - Turn right side out and press.

STEP 8 - Stuff the pillow really full with stuffing, pushing it with a long bamboo stick into the points and around the corners.

STEP 9 - Hand stitch the opening closed.

STEP 10 - Enjoy and share on your social media.  Remember if you share this pattern; please reference back to this blog post.

What are you doing for National Craft Month?

Machine Embroidered Greeting Cards or Just Stitched?

One of my college girls has a birthday coming up and her sister is at the same college, so when I was preparing a birthday box, of course, I had to make a second one for her sister. I had already purchased a set of birthday cards to be sent on just the right day to arrive in time, but I wanted a card to go in the box too.  Initially, I thought I would do a printed birthday banner, but my husband did not look like he was going to give up the printer any time before I wanted to mail the package, so plan “B.”

Michael’s had a wonderful deal on gold-foil cards – 60 cards for $5. That is eight cents a card.  You cannot get them that cheap anywhere! They are a very nice quality, not at all flimsy like I thought they would be. They looked very young and just what the girls would like. However, I wanted to take them to the next level – embroidered cards.

Gold-Foil Note Cards from Michael's

Gold-Foil Note Cards from Michael's

Machine embroidering on paper was one of the first things that I tried when first received my machine.  I am not sure why I was so intrigued that I put it above so many other fabulous features, but I did. I had hooped a piece of medium cut-away stabilizer, sprayed adhesive on the back of the paper and ta-da! It worked beautifully.  Somehow, I had enough common sense not to use a dense design, so it did not cut through the paper and make it pop out like a cut-out.

Stitched Alphabet with Guidelines and Jump Stitches

Stitched Alphabet with Guidelines and Jump Stitches

This summer, I was experimenting with the standard built-in stitches on my sewing machine, as I wanted to know which ones were compatible with the sewing machines that I was going to teach   on at the Fairfield Library (also see Fairfield tag below). During that process, I played with the built-in alphabet characters.  These are different from the actual embroidery characters, because they are generated using the utility function for stitches and the foot pedal. It does not use a hoop or an embroidery foot. It does not sew automatically, the foot pedal must be engaged and I must guide the fabric. This is truly a sewing function, not embroidery and yet they are alphabetical characters.

Reverse Side of Stitched Alphabet with Jump Stitches

Reverse Side of Stitched Alphabet with Jump Stitches

These built-in alphabet characters are so much fun and they are so quick to produce a word and the best part is that they can be done without hooping or stabilizer.  They were just what I needed to make these cards a little more personal. Besides, the birthday girl is the only one in the family who knows how to machine embroider and I know how much she loves machine embroidery.

Finished Greeting Cards

Finished Greeting Cards

So the question is, what do you consider the built-in alphabets – embroidery or stitching?

Army T-Shirt Repurposed

Re-purposing is so much fun and so green.  It is so me. I love to use things that would normally be discarded and use them again, but it is even more fun when it is for your son.

We are so proud of our oldest son who was a drone pilot in the Army.  While he was in flight school someone made these embroidered t-shirts for them. 

He came home for a transition time to the civilian world and when he was preparing to move out, he asked if anyone wanted this t-shirt.  My first response was to inspect the quality of the embroidery, the type of stabilizer and of course, the last stage trimming.  You know, I gave it once over. Then I gave him a hard time because he told me that he would never wear an embroidered shirt.  His come back was that he never did and said, “Mom, did you ever see me wear that shirt?” Well, okay, but I could not throw away someone else’s embroidery and a memento at that. The easiest solution was to make a pillow.  To my surprise he loved the idea.

The t-shirt surprised me though when I was planning what size pillow to make it.  The design was really tucked in the upper corner, very close to the sleeve.  A rectangle pillow would do the trick by offsetting it a little bit in the upper corner as planned; it would look like it was meant to be there.

The embroidery needed as much room as possible so I used the rotary cutter and ruler to make the first cut as close to the neck as possible. 

Then I fussy cut the sleeves out. I could have cut them out first, but by leaving them in tack, allowed me to keep the shirt front and back straight and lined up for that first cut.

After the sleeves came out, I cut down one side and cut the remaining three sides on the front and back. I could have cut the front with the back by keeping them together, but when I had measured I noticed two important things.  First, that the back was larger than the front. Secondly, that the front was not going to make a 12” + 1/2” seam allowance by 16” + 1/2” seam allowance to fit the pillow form that I purchased. I decided to make the front as big as possible 12 ½” by 16” and add the extra seam allowance to the back.  I knew that no one would notice that the seam was slightly pulled forward. The corners were rounded so this knit would not pucker when squared and it would give fullness where the polyfil was lacking, since it did not have the material for a flange or any other time of edging.

This pillow was just to be used as an accent in his bedroom that was grey and with the t-shirt material so flimsy, I opted out of not using my standard zippered closure for a pillow. 

If the pillow was dirty, I just assumed that the pillow form would be too and it was small enough to wash the entire pillow in the machine. Of course, that was the first thing my son pointed out. “Mom, where’s the zipper?”  Technically, that was a good response.  It means we as sewers have done our job well when our family notices when we cut corners. What has your family noticed?

Sewing Camp - Project Four of Four

Four days of sewing. What can you accomplish in four days? 

The teens at the Fairfield Woods Branch Public Library accomplished an incredible amount in the their four days.  Most began with no sewing experience at all and by the the end of four days they had received their driver's license from the library's sewing studio and sewn four projects: rice heating bag, round cuddle pillow (so cute & soft), pajama bottoms, and small zippered bag.

Many sewing techniques had been acquired to get to the point of being able to make these four projects.  They had sewn straight seams, enforced faux serger seams, sewn with plaids, sewn with a napped fabric, hand sewn a button onto their pillows, sewed curves, clipped curves, sewn an elliptic casing, and then to finish they learned to sew a zipper.  That is amazing in four short two hour days.

The most amazing part of this fourth day was the way they all soaked up the project instructions with needing very little guidance.  They could see it!! That is such a big part of sewing - being able to see how it is all going to work together. It is a practical puzzle. 

The zippered bags were made from repurposed blue jeans and men's dress shirts. The best! I love repurposing and these fabrics are a dream to work with  - no slipping. We started out with 4 pieces of fabric that were 9 1/2" by 6 1/2" and we used a 1/2" seam allowance.  The only cost involved was a 9", but the library had many of them donated and they purchased a roll of red zipper tape from eNasco. They are so economical when you need to buy in bulk. We also added an optional 1/4" red grosgrain ribbon for a zipper pull.

The construction of the bag is so simple and you can see the instructions at The Purl Bee. While the idea and method were my own, as with all the projects, but he pillow, I wanted some clear pictures with instructions to provide the library when I presented my proposal.  The clear explanation with pictures at The Purl Bee are great, just what I wanted.

This bag is so versatile and can be used for so many things, but from what I heard from the teens, they will be using it as a pencil bag when they return to school. 

How will you use your bag now that you can create so many at relatively no cost?

Sewing Camp - Project Three of Four

Day three of the sewing camp at the Fairfield Woods Branch Library was the most intense. The teens learned about patterns the day before and had actually cut out their fabric for pajama bottom shorts. There was so much to accomplish and they did it all so well.  

2015-06-03 16.34.40.jpg

Pajama shorts look pretty easy, but believe it or not, the biggest obstacle is knowing which piece is the front and which is the back.  Sounds so basic and simple, but from a quick glance it is hard to tell the difference. Upon careful comparison you can see that the back piece is slightly wider to allow for our derrieres. Then there is the issue of knowing what is the right side and the wrong side.  With many fabric choices this is not an issue, but our fabric was a soft cotton in a solid light blue that the right and wrong side could only be perceived when examined very closely. To combat both of these issues and because the pieces were cut the day before, I labeled them before the next class with four strips of blue painters tape: front left, front right, back left, and back right.  The side that had the tape on it was the right side. This made the whole process so much easier and did not cause any confusion when putting them together. 

The teens concentrated hard on the challenge of keeping all those seams straight and within the seam allowance, to insure a proper fit and to make sure those elastic casings were not too narrow. These teens were awesome and were so industrious all day long. They were practicing to be so precise in everything that they did, including clipping those curves and pressing everything. 

Amazingly, no one complained that we did not finish them that day as planned. We gave them the option to come in an half hour early and to our surprise, some were so eager that they were there almost an hour before.  What desire and motivation!  

Congratulations on a job well done. I am so incredibly proud of them. They worked hard and succeeded. 

Sewing Camp - Project Two of Four

Once you learn the basics of using a sewing machine, it is merely a matter of practice and learning new techniques, which is quite vast, but you can accomplish much with just the basics. However, the world of garment and other textile construction is quite complex. 

The sewing camp teens at the Fairfield Woods Branch Library progressed very quickly with respect to the types of fabric with which they sewed.  Their first project involved plaids. For an experienced seamstress, she would never have considered plaids for a long time since they can be quit difficult to line up when cutting. To save the teens that anguish, we did the cutting for them. The flannel was so beautiful on both sides so we did not concern them with the right and wrong sides.  We did the cutting and put the two pieces together in their kits so there would not be any chance of the plaids not being lined up. 

Cuddle/Minky Fabric generously donated to the Fairfield Woods Branch Library 

Cuddle/Minky Fabric generously donated to the Fairfield Woods Branch Library 

The second project was a plump round pillow made of cuddle material, also known as minky (minkee). This cuddle material was so soft and lush that it won their hearts with being their favorite project, but it was a challenge because it has a very deep nap.

Once again, the library was blessed to have had this lovely fabric donated and there was no issue of cutting as the pieces were generous wide one yard cuts. The fabric choices were in lively modern colors of lime green and bright pink, with trendy designs of chevron, damask, stripes, paisleys, and dots. Just the cutest fabrics you could imagine.

To overcome the obstacle of a difficult fabric and to allow the maximum amount of sewing time for the teens, we opted for cutting and pinning the two circles together.  This guaranteed that the fabric naps were going in the correct direction. It worked perfectly.  Now the teens could concentrate on sewing a circle.

The pattern instructions were courtesy of Shannon Fabrics in CA. While the teens used this predominately, I did deviate when it came to cutting the fabric circles.  

I made a thick cardboard circle template with a pin, marker and a ribbon.

I cut the ribbon the length of the radius of the finished circle's diameter which included the seam allowance.

I stuck the pin into the ribbon and the center of the cardboard and attached the ribbon to the marker with blue painter's tape, then drew a perfect circle on the cardboard. 

The template allowed me to use a rotary cutter and cut several pieces of fabric at one time, a true time saver when having to cut 28 large circles.

Here is the link to create your own pillow. Please share your pillow pictures with us.