Blackbirds & Blossoms – – Oh-La-La! Fabric Requirements for Our Quilt-Along.

Row birdhouses

A special thank you to Darra, who spent many hours working out the fabric requirements for this project. Come back and visit us soon, Darra! We miss you already!

Quilt Along Beauty Shot

Finished Quilt Size: 53″ x 53″ (plus binding)

What You’ll Need (Fabric and Notions):

Along with basic sewing supplies, you’ll need the following fabrics and notions to make this quilt. Note: If you’d like to make just the center medallion as a smaller wallhanging, or the center block or one of the side panels as a pillow, you’ll need only the fabrics identified for those areas in the labeled photo below.

Fabric calculations are based on 40″ fabric width.

Fabric A: 5/8 yard for center square (cream)

Fabric B: 1/4 yard for framing strips (red-orange stripe)

Fabric C: 7/8 yard for inner setting triangles and Birdhouse blocks (turquoise)

Fabric D: 3/4 yard for side panels (taupe)

Fabric E: 1 yard for center wreath, panel strips, vines, stems, and leaves (green)

Fabric F: 1 1/8 yards for side panels (taupe/dots)

Fabric G: 5/8 yard for outer setting triangles (white)

Fabric H: 2/3 yard for birdhouses (yellow stripe)

Fabric I: 3/8 yard for birdhouse roofs (purple)

Fabric J: 1/8 yard (or scraps)for blackbird appliqués (black)

Fabric K: 2 yards total for flower circle, dot, leaf, and birdhouse door appliqués (assorted brights)

Binding: 1/2 yard

Batting: 60″ x 60″

Backing: 3 1/2 yards

Lightweight fusible web: 3 1/2 yards (18″ wide)

Assorted threads to match appliqués

Black and white embroidery floss

 

Quiltalong diagram

The following photos show you the fabrics we used to make our version of the Quilt-Along quilt. We used the first group, Fabrics A – J, for backgrounds, framing strips, vines and center wreath, setting triangles, and corner birdhouse blocks. These fabrics include a number of “linen-y” solids and subtle tone-on-tone prints, with a few stripes and a coordinating polka-dot for visual interest.

The second group includes examples of the colorful prints that we used for the flower circles and other appliques. We recommend that you include some multicolored, large-scale prints as we did; you can fussy cut them for varying effects.

Fabric A - J
Quilt-Along Fabrics A – J
Quilt-Along fabric(s) K
Quilt-Along fabric(s) K

So let the fun begin! Jennifer will be starting us out with the center medallion as our first round of the Quilt-Along. Watch for Jennifer’s post at the end of May.

Signature Cropped               J-Signature          L1-Signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Arrives with a Bounty of (Fabric) Blooms . . . and a Giveaway!

1-Giveaway IconWe’re more than a month into spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, and the evidence–both cultivated and wild–is emerging (and in some cases, exploding) around us in a shower of color and scent.

Nothing says "spring" like a bed of tulips! Photo by Darra Williamson.
Nothing says “spring” like a bed of tulips! Photo by Darra Williamson.
Floral "sunshine" dresses a white picket fence. Photo by Darra Williamson.
Floral “sunshine” dresses a white picket fence. Photo by Darra Williamson.
A swath of red enhances the seaside landscape. Photo by Darra Williamson.
A swath of red enhances the seaside landscape. Photo by Darra Williamson.
Delicate pink blossoms in the wild. Photo by Darra Williamson
Delicate pink blossoms in the wild. Photo by Darra Williamson
A single wild iris blooms against a Pollock-like tangle of greenery. Photo by Darra Williamson
A single wild iris blooms against a Pollock-like tangle of greenery. Photo by Darra Williamson
A "natural" display of color and texture.  Photo by Darra Williamson
A “natural” display of color and texture. Photo by Darra Williamson

Fabric Blooms coverToday, to celebrate this “blooming” season, we’ve planned a special giveaway. Lark Crafts has generously donated two copies of its brand-new, 128-page book, Fabric Blooms by Megan Hunt. The projects are adorable and doable–made from felt, cotton, jersey, and even faux leather!–and range from headbands and lapel pins to nosegays, wreathes, and fairy lights. Best of all, the patterns for all the flower parts are given full size. You don’t need to draw or enlarge a thing!

So, here’s the deal. Leave a comment below by noon (PDT) Thursday, May 1, telling us what you consider to be the first sure sign that spring has arrived, and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of Fabric Blooms. The two winners will be announced in this Friday’s post.

A peek into the pages of Fabric Blooms
A peek into the pages of Fabric Blooms

Finally, an announcement of sorts. After three wonderful years of visiting with you here each month, it’s time for me to join my former SHWS blogging sister, Christie Batterman, as a See How We Sew Blogger Emeritus. Today marks my final post as an active member of the SHWS team.

While it’s difficult to say goodbye, the change is happily motivated. My husband Brooks and I are slowly beginning the lifestyle-changing transition from the bustling Bay Area to a small, off-the-beaten-track, incredibly beautiful, artist-friendly village by the sea on the Northern California coast. As a writer, I know I’ll want to write about the experience, so you can be sure that “I’ll keep you posted”–no pun intended!

Coming soon . . . Photo by Darra Williamson
Coming soon . . .
Photo by Darra Williamson

I’ve loved the time I’ve spent working, playing, learning, and creating with Laura, Jennifer, Pati, and Christie, and look forward to returning for a guest post now and then. Also, like you, I’ll be eagerly following the latest here at See How We Sew. I know there are some fabulous things in store!

So that’s it for now. ‘Til we meet again (soon, I hope), happy stitching!

Darra-signature

Inspiration Plus: Putting Those Decorative Machine Stitches to Work

Do you ever wonder what you can do with that mind-boggling array of decorative stitches available on your sewing machine? If you’re like me, you may have tried a few–satin or blanket stitch for machine applique, perhaps–but that’s about it. On the other hand, my friend, Chris Porter, is never at a loss for creative ideas for putting those beautiful stitches to work. Time for some inspiration!

For Christmas, Chris surprised me with this lovely machine-appliqued, couched, and embroidered pouch.

Machine appliqued, couched, and embroidered pouch, 8 1/2" x 8 1/2", designed and made by Chris Porter
Machine appliqued, couched, and embroidered pouch, 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″, designed and made by Chris Porter

Here’s a view of the back. Notice the use of variegated threads and couched silk ribbon trims.

Back view of fabric pouch by Chris Porter
Back view of fabric pouch by Chris Porter

The versatile size (8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″) makes it perfect for any number of uses; I found it ideal for corralling all those wires and chargers necessary for my digital camera, iPhone, and iPad. Now I always know where to find them here at home, and have a compact, convenient way to carry them when I travel.

Chris's pouch makes the perfect tote for all those chargers modern life requires.
Chris’s pouch makes the perfect tote for all those chargers modern life requires.

Chris has also been working those stitches to make journal covers as gifts for her friends, using a process similar to the one I described in my December 20 post. For this cover, she began with a beautiful mauve batik, to which she added a variety of decorative machine stitches in coordinating variegated thread.

Machine-embroidered journal cover, made by Chris Porter
Machine-embroidered journal cover, made by Chris Porter

Notice the stitched detail down the cover’s spine.

Cover opened to show spine detail
Cover opened to show spine detail

Rather than working with a single fabric, Chris pieced the next cover before adding the embellishments–a combination of machine-embroidery and couched ribbons.

Pieced and embellished journal cover, made by Chris Porter
Pieced and embellished journal cover, made by Chris Porter

I love the detail she added to the inside flap.

Feb 22_inside flap_orange

Chris has been using similar techniques to create other small gift items, such as needle books and eyeglass cases; the latter double nicely for stowing your rotary cutter. What a great way to familiarize yourself and experiment with your machine’s enhancements on a small scale before launching into a larger project! Here, Chris adapted one of her machine’s embroidery stitches to quilt Alphabet Soup, the cover quilt for our book, Cuddle Me Quick.

Detail of Alphabet Soup, made by Chris Porter; Chris adapted one of her machine's embroidery stitches to quilt the wiggly pattern around each block.
Detail of Alphabet Soup, made by Chris Porter; Chris adapted one of her machine’s embroidery stitches to quilt the wiggly pattern around each block.
Alphabet Soup, 39" x 45", made by Chris Porter
Alphabet Soup, 39″ x 45″, made by Chris Porter

Chris works on a Husqvarna Viking 960Q, but many of today’s machines offer similar stitching options. Why not take yours out for a spin?

Before leaving Chris, I have an exciting piece of news to report. In addition to the two books we have co-authored, Chris has written a number of best-selling books on her own. Her latest, Sensational Circle Quilts, will be published as an eBook (with video) and is scheduled for an April release. The publisher is Vivebooks, a British ePublisher–be sure to watch for it!

Chris Porter's newest book, coming out in April, will be published as an eBook!
Chris Porter’s newest book, coming out in April, will be published as an eBook!

That leaves me with one final bit of “business” for today, and that’s to announce the winner of Gwen Marston’s new book, Minimal Quiltmaking, from my Tuesday post. And that winner is vickievan! Congratulations, Vickie, and thanks to Gwen for providing the giveaway prize.

‘Til next time, happy stitching!Darra-signature

The Latest from that Amazing Quilter, Gwen Marston (+ a Giveaway!)

1-Giveaway IconAt one time or another, I suspect we’ve all had the experience of meeting someone new and feeling that immediate “click” of connection–the perfect description of my first encounter (in 1989!) with legendary and beloved Michigan quilter, Gwen Marston.

Gwen Marston
Gwen Marston

I wrote about Gwen, her then most-recent work, and her wonderful book, 37 Sketches, in a post back in January 2012. It’s a tribute to Gwen’s enduring popularity that this post remains one of our all-time, most-often viewed here at See How We Sew. Now, two years later, I decided it was time to check back with Gwen to find out what’s new. The answer? Lots!

First up: Gwen Marston, Contemporary Quilts, a solo exhibit at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City, MI. This exhibit runs through April 27 and includes work that Gwen has created in the past eight years, in which she continues to simplify, to melt the elements down to their most basic forms, allowing the color to speak in a stronger voice. Some of the pieces are the Small Studies from the aforementioned 37 Sketches (2011).D_Jan 27_37 Sketches Cover(1) (2)

"Small Study 4 (9" x 11") made and machine quilted by Gwen Marston; 2010
“Small Study 4 (9″ x 11″) made and machine quilted by Gwen Marston; 2010

Others are from her earlier book, Ideas and Inspirations: Abstract Quilts in Solids (2008).

Ideas and Inspirations cover

Broken Dishes (38" x 37"), made and hand quilted by Gwen Marston, 2008
Broken Dishes (38″ x 37″), made and hand quilted by Gwen Marston, 2008
Three Triangles (35" x 36"), made and hand quilted by Gwen Marston, 2010
Three Triangles (35″ x 36″), made and hand quilted by Gwen Marston, 2010
Red Square VI (39" x 42"), made and hand quilted by Gwen Marston, 2008
Red Square VI (39″ x 42″), made and hand quilted by Gwen Marston, 2008

Still others reflect Gwen’s ongoing explorations, in which she pushes even further, working in a decidedly minimal style. This fresh, exciting, stripped-down approach takes center stage in–more news!!!–Gwen’s brand-new book, Minimal Quiltmaking, scheduled for publication by the American Quilter’s Society on March 1!

Gwen's newest, publishing March 1
Gwen’s newest, publishing March 1

Wouldn’t you like to be first among your friends to own Minimal Quiltmaking? Well, it happens that we’ll have a copy to give away to one of our readers as soon as the book hits the shelves. Just leave a comment by noon (PST) Thursday, February 20, telling us whether you consider yourself a “minimalist” or “maximalist” quilter (for example, in style, size or variety of your fabric stash, reliance on notions, degree of advance planning) and I’ll announce a winner in my Friday, February 21 post.

Finally, here’s a special treat! The Dennos Museum Center has placed Gwen’s entire presentation from the exhibit’s January 18 opening reception on YouTube. Watch and enjoy!

That’s it for now. ‘Til next time, happy stitching!Darra-signature

“Animal” Attraction: Cats and the Quilting Life

As anyone with a feline in the family can tell you, there is a magical connection between cats, quilts, and quilters.

You may remember my buddy, Scooter, who made the scene in an earlier (group) post, keeping a careful watch over some of my piecing essentials.

That super sewing room cat, Scooter, asks "What's all this stuff?"
That super sewing room cat, Scooter, asks “What’s all this stuff?”
An outtake from our 2011 photo shoot: "That's it. I'm done."
An outtake from our 2011 photo shoot: “That’s it. I’m done.”

Scooter has been my faithful companion in the sewing room since I brought him home–as a frisky, inquisitive 8-week old–from the Watauga (NC) County Animal Shelter almost 16 years ago. At first, he made himself at home on my sewing table.

Well, hello there!
Well, hello there!

Before long, he discovered . . . fabric! It didn’t matter how small the piece, or how tight the space, if there was a scrap to be found, he was on it.

Scooter as a "teenager"--"Not too comfortable here, Mom. Could you spread this out a little?"
Scooter as a “teenager”–“Not too comfortable here, Mom. Could you spread this out a little?”
"Ahhhhh! That's better!"
“Ahhhhh! That’s better!”

It wasn’t just the sewing operation that kept him busy. He has always cast a careful eye on the business of quilting as well. Over the years, he has been my muse as I’ve planned a variety of workshops, produced countless class handouts, written masses of magazine pieces, edited dozens upon dozens of quilt books, and even authored and co-authored a book or two myself.

Scooter: Director of Quality Control, a lifetime position. (Check out that antique on my desk!)
Scooter: Director of Quality Control, a lifetime position. (Check out that antique on my desk!)

The only part of the quilt life he never did cotton to was the travel. Here he registers his sentiments on an upcoming teaching gig.

"Heading to Houston? Not without me, you're not!"
“Heading to Houston? Not without me, you’re not!”

He did, however, make one BIG journey with me.

January 1, 2002: Heading to the airport in Charlotte (NC)  and then west to a new life in California!
January 1, 2002: Heading to the airport in Charlotte (NC) and then west to a new life in California!

During the recent holiday season, Scooter began to show signs of a considerable slow down. Earlier this month, we visited the vet, and the news was not good. He’s home with us now, under careful observation, on a tempting new soft-food diet–the recipient of gentle nursing and tons of TLC. I know our time together is winding down.

Am I sad? Of course. But I’m also very grateful for 16 years of furry friendship and thousands of hours of companionship as I’ve continued along my quilting journey. Here’s to you, Scoots!

Scooter at the Window, 3" x 5", made by Darra Williamson
Scooter at the Window, 3″ x 5″, made by Darra Williamson

[Note: Since this post published this morning (1/21), our wonderful readers have been sharing comments with lovely stories of their own feline "accomplices" and heartfelt words of encouragement and support. Though I'm not able to respond individually at the moment,  I thank you all for your kind thoughts. You're the best!]

‘Til next time, happy stitching.Darra-signature

More Quilting Inspiration from Sue Rasmussen

Our guest poster, Sue Rasmussen
Our guest poster, Sue Rasmussen

Last spring, we invited talented quilt artist, teacher, and author Sue Rasmussen to write a guest post for us here at See How We Sew. The result was a delightful, two-part posting: part 1 a tutorial on Sue’s inventive, curved-piecing technique; part 2 a show-and-tell sampling of her amazing work. These posts were immensely popular. In fact, her posts were among our top 10 for 2013. So, we decided it was time to invite Sue back for another look at her creative process. Once again, Sue, the floor is yours!

Sue: We have been fortunate to visit the Hawaiian Islands many times with our two boys, Bobby and Eric. On each trip, we’ve taken their picture leaning against a palm tree (whether they were getting along at the time or not!). Now, as young men, they get along wonderfully, and on our last trip a few years ago, I took a terrific photo of them on the Big Island. As they were both happy and smiling, I thought this would be the perfect time to capture them in a quilt.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

Since there was such an expanse of green in the background, I broke it down into five main sections. I thought more than five green fabrics would be too distracting. The focal point of this quilt is, of course, the boys, and everything else is just filler.

Notice that I placed the darker green fabric in front, and that the four others fade in value as they progress into the distance. This helps create perspective and depth. Although the background trees were not in the original photo, I added them to enhance the illusion of distance and space; their varying sizes suggest perspective as well.

Years before, I had purchased 1/2 yard of a wonderful blotchy grey-brown-black fabric. (Wish I had bought more!) I used that fabric for the main palm tree, carefully piecing it so I could match the lines and coloration as closely as possible.

Initially I thought I would use one fabric for all four borders. I auditioned many traditional Hawaiian prints–hibiscus flowers, colorful fish, and images of surfers–and several Hawaiian-looking batiks too, but nothing seemed to work. I auditioned three more fabrics, all with basically the same orange, turquoise, pink, and yellow palette, all graphic designs, all similar in value. Unhappy with each of these fabrics, I tossed them on the floor.

At this point, discouraged, I took a few steps back to rethink my strategy, and my eye went that pile of three discarded fabrics. That was it! I would use all three! I cut a piece of Golden Threads Paper to the length and width that I wanted the border to be, and pieced chunks of the three fabrics directly onto the paper to create the scrappy, wonky border fabric. Since many of the fabric pieces had bias edges, I used Mary Ellen’s Best Press® to minimize the distortion as I manipulated and sewed the borders together.

“Get Your Kicks . . . on Route 66″

A few years back, I was asked to submit a quilt to the juried Route 66 Exhibition, which is currently traveling the US on a three-year tour. My husband and I took a drive to Pasadena and somehow ended up underneath the Colorado Street Bridge, part of the old Route 66. It’s a magnificent piece of architecture, but with a sad past, as it is also called ‘The Suicide Bridge” from the days of the Great Depression. As we stood under this impressive concrete structure, my husband took a picture of me with his iPad, using an app called Toon Camera.

Sue and Bridge

The resulting quilt is a combination of curved piecing and paper-foundation piecing–no applique or fusing. Each piece is a cut with a template and sewn right-sides together as with other pieced quilts.

ColoradoBridgeFull-001

In this detail photo, you can see the hand-drawn railings (I used a Micron Pigma pen) and the multi-globed lamps that I painted on the upper deck of the bridge.

ColoradoBridgeDetail

I was thrilled when my quilt was accepted to travel with the exhibit!

Thanks Sue, it’s great to have you visiting again.

Speaking of exhibits, Diana (McClun) and I will be the featured artists at the upcoming Road to California Show in Ontario, CA from January 23-26th. If you are planning to attend, please stop by to say hi. It’s one of the best shows on the West Coast, so if you are looking for some inspiration and a quilting getaway, this is a great choice.

As always, sending you my best for a month of happiness and creativity.

L1-Signature

A See How We Sew Tradition: Our Annual Photo Album of Quilting Inspiration

It’s become a tradition here at See How We Sew to welcome the new year with a photo album of images that inspire us on our quilting journeys. Over the years, thanks to you, our wonderful readers, this has become a popular, much-anticipated post. So here, beginning with Pati, our newest “blogging sister,” are our selections for 2014.Signature Cropped

There are certain obsessions I have that tend to fuel my inspiration.  If it makes my heart skip a beat, I know it is inspiring. I am forever collecting visuals to draw from when I need to, so I am excited to share a few with you!  As Julie Andrews would say, “Here are a few of my favorite things.”

The incredible textile designs created by Scandinavian architect, Josef Frank.

Vegetable+tree[1]

Joseph Frank Textile Nippon     Joseph Frank Textile La Plata

Joseph Frank Textile Aralia      joseph-frank-fabric-red

The bold colors and patterns of hand-painted pottery and tiles.

Meditteranean hand painted tiles -Tunisia  Talavera tiles

Anything from Liberty of London fabric.

BchGEalCMAAt0AT  Poppies and Daisies

Creative handwork and embroidery, especially of an ethnic influence.

Suzani Embroidery WallHanging

Vintage Ikat Ethnic Folk Print

L1-Signature

I am always on the lookout for designs that might translate into interesting quilting patterns. I took the following photos while visiting some of my favorite museums and gardens.

DSC03280

DSC03044DSC03041DSC02857DSC02849DSC02738

J-Signature

I’m feeling fruity with this year’s inspirational photos, or maybe I’m just hungry . . . more likely, my wicked cold is telling me that I need massive doses of Vitamin C!

This is my favorite image for 2013.
This is my favorite image for 2013.
Inspiration-J:  Luscious Peach
Summer peaches, yum!
I'm in desperate need of an infusion of citrus fruits--these Honeybell Tangelos would do the trick.
I’m in desperate need of an infusion of citrus fruits–these Honeybell Tangelos would do the trick.

Darra-signature

It’s hard to believe that New Year’s Day marked the twelfth anniversary of my cross-country move to the Golden State. (So much for the five year plan!) Day after day, month after month, my adopted home continues to inspire me with its amazing colors, textures, shapes, light, and landscapes. Here’s to you, Northern California!

Mustard in bloom in the vineyards, on the road to Calistoga
Mustard in bloom in the vineyards, on the road to Calistoga
Ice plant on the ocean cliffs, Point Reyes National Seashore
Ice plant on the ocean cliffs, Point Reyes National Seashore
A hidden path to the sea, Mendocino
A hidden path to the sea, Mendocino
The golden hills near Point Reyes Station
The golden hills near Point Reyes Station
Wild iris on the Chimney Rock trail, Point Reyes National Seashore
Wild iris on the Chimney Rock trail, Point Reyes National Seashore
From the Mendocino headlands
From the Mendocino headlands
Backyard fruit!
Backyard fruit!
Line and Shadow, Mendocino
Line and Shadow, Mendocino
December: Watercolor sunset, Mendocino
December: Watercolor sunset, Mendocino

That’s it for now. Thanking you for your continued support and wishing you an inspired, adventurous, and productive new year, we remain . . .

Your Friends at See How We Sew

Bookin’ It: Another Last-Minute Gift Idea for Fabric Lovers

Remember this package from my Tuesday post?

December 17_package complete

Well, if you recall, I promised to reveal the contents in today’s posting. But first a little background. I’m lucky enough to be part of a group of five creative women who meet from time to time to share our latest projects, offer inspiration (and–occasionally–moral support), and just to enjoy each other’s company. Each year we plan a holiday dinner to celebrate our friendship and to participate in a secret Santa exchange. As we’re all avid quilters, it’s not unusual for some–if not all–gifts to be items we’ve crafted ourselves.

This year, I drew Kim Butterworth as my “giftee.” Here’s what Kim found inside that package.

My secret Santa gift for Kim
My secret Santa gift for Kim

I love the idea of keeping a special book as a journal, sketchbook, or idea book, and–as Kim is a super creative lady–I suspected she might too. Rather than purchasing a decorative book from a stationer or bookstore, I thought it would be fun to create something more personal. Here’s how I did it.

You'll need a book, fabric for cover and lining, fusible web, cotton batting, a length of coordinating ribbon, and matching thread.
You’ll need a book, fabric for cover and lining, fusible web, cotton batting, a length of coordinating ribbon, and matching thread.

The cut sizes of the cover and lining fabrics, fusible, and batting will depend upon the size of the book you plan to cover. The book I chose measured approximately 6″ x 8 1/2″, with a 1/2″ wide spine. We’ll use that for our example.

Figuring Measurements and Cutting

(Tip:  Keep track of the measurements by writing them down and labeling them as you go.)

1. Double the width of the cover and add the width of the spine. To this figure, add 6″ for the book flaps and 2″ for turnover allowance. Label this measurement A. (Example:  6″ width of book x 2 = 12″ + 1/2″spine + 6″ flaps + 2″ turnover = 20 1/2″.)

2. Add 2″ to the length of the book for turnover allowance, and then add another 1/2″ for “wiggle room.” Label this measurement B. (Example: 8 1/2″ length of book + 2″ turnover + 1/2″ wiggle room = 11″.)

3. Cut the cover fabric and one piece of lightweight fusible equal to measurement A x measurement B. (Example: 20 1/2″ x 11″.)

4. Subtract 2″ from measurement A. (Example, 20 1/2″ – 2″ = 18 1/2″). Label this measurement C.

5. Subtract 2″ from measurement B. (Example, 11″ – 2″ = 9″.) Label this measurement D.

6. Cut one piece each of cotton batting, fusible web, and lining fabric equal to measurement C x measurement D. (Example, 18 1/2″ x 9″.)

No more math. Now comes the fun part!

Making the Book Cover

(Note: Construction is similar to that used for the checkbook cover I shared with you last December.)

1. Fuse the lining fabric, right side up, to the batting using the matching-sized piece of fusible web.

2. Apply the larger (matching-sized) piece of fusible web to the wrong side of the cover fabric.

3. Center the prepared batting, lining side up, over the fusible-web side of the prepared cover fabric. Starting with the two long sides, turn the cover fabric to the lining; press to fuse. Repeat for both short sides, squaring the corners; press. Clip excess fabric at the corners on the diagonal.

December 20_clipped corner 2

4. Fold the unit in half, lining sides together; press. Unfold, and then fold both ends of the unit inward 3″; press. Insert the book to check for fit.

December 20_fitting cover_1

5. Remove the book; refold the cover. Measure and mark the center of the front and back of the cover (not the flaps) for ribbon placement.

December 20_marking cover for ribbon

6. Center a length of decorative ribbon over the marked guideline, making sure to leave tails for tying. Use matching thread to stitch the ribbon to the front and back cover.

December 20_ribbon sewn7. Quilt and/or embellish as desired. I used stencils to trace and fuse Kim’s name to the front cover. An embroidered monogram, rows of decorative stitching, lace, buttons, and beads are just a few other options. Be creative!

December 20_cover KIM

8. Refold the two flaps back toward the center, lining sides together. Starting with a few backstitches, topstitch a 1/8″ seam all around the perimeter of the unit.  Finish with a few backstitches.

December 20_inside cover

Insert the book, tie the ribbons, and your gift is complete!

The finished book, shown here with my great-grandfather's fountain pen
The finished book, shown here with my great-grandfather’s fountain pen

I hope you find time for some stitching this holiday season! Best wishes . . . Darra-signature

P.S. Click here to read Jennifer’s earlier profile of Kim Butterworth, and to see some of her wonderful work.

Feeling Frantic? Check Out These Last-Minute Goodies–Perfect for Stitchers and Crafters Alike

Can you believe that Christmas is just a week away?

Christmas vignette_edited

If you’re like me, the next seven days are jam-packed with holiday-related activities. As the classic embodiment of “last-minute Lulu” (to borrow a phrase from our sister blogger emeritus, Christie Batterman), that means I’m scrambling for clever (translate: quick, easy, and budget-conscious) ideas for–among myriad other seasonal activities–secret Santa and ornament exchanges and for freshening up our usual holiday décor.

Enter Pinterest. (Okay. I’ll admit it. I’m hooked!) During a recent browse, I came across a little goodie that was a perfect match for my time, pocketbook, and “in stock” materials.

Button and Yarn Snowman ornament from funEZcrafts
Button and Yarn Snowman ornament from funEZcrafts

Immediately I clicked on the link to find the source, and discovered a delightful DIY site called funEZcrafts. This site is loaded with great ideas: simple, fun, and–in many cases–utilizing materials already on hand in the workroom of any enthusiastic quilter/crafter. For the Button and Yarn Snowman Ornament, the required items were a few white, red, and black buttons (Buttons? Do I have buttons?!!); a bit of red yard; a scrap of narrow red and/or green ribbon; scissors; a ruler; and a toothpick.

Button-and-yarn-snowman-materials-and-tools

Bingo! I was in business. Within minutes, I had a cute little snowman, ready for the tree.

My version of the Button and Yarn Snowman ornament from the FunEZcraft website
My version of the Button and Yarn Snowman ornament from the FunEZcraft website

Enthusiastically, I returned to the funEZcrafts site. Here are a few other sweet and disarmingly “doable” projects to be found under the Christmas Crafts tab. For example, I loved this jaunty Felt and Twig Snowman.

Felt and Twig Snowman from funEZcrafts
Felt and Twig Snowman from funEZcrafts

Or how about this colorful Button Wreath Ornament?

Button Wreath Ornament from funEZcrafts
Button Wreath Ornament from funEZcrafts

Do you have any crocheted “bits” tucked away in your stash? A Doily Sachet Ornament might be just the ticket.

Doily Sachet Ornament from funEZcrafts
Doily Sachet Ornament from funEZcrafts

This Quilter’s Angel Ornament requires just a wee bit more in terms of time and materials, but it still ranks high on the easiness scale. I found her under the Angel Crafts tab.

Quilter's Angel Ornament from funEZcrafts
Quilter’s Angel Ornament from funEZcrafts

Each project on the funEZcrafts website includes a chart and photo illustrating the necessary materials and clear, step-by-step, photo-illustrated instructions. Hint: Looking for something to keep the kids or grandkids busy, engaged, and entertained in the countdown until the big day? You’ll find terrific ideas on this site for great kid-friendly gifts for teacher, babysitter, or grandma. Check under Felt Crafts for such diverse projects as a business card holder, cosmetic pouch . . . even a cupcake paperweight. (Just be sure the young ones are old enough for projects that involve small items such as buttons or beads.)

Felt Cupcake Paperweight from funEZcrafts
Felt Cupcake Paperweight from funEZcrafts

Many thanks to Sara at funEZcrafts for granting permission to use photos from her site. Oh, and by the way: It didn’t take long to realize that my button Frosty ornament had other possibilities as well. Here, he becomes a festive “add on” to a secret Santa gift.

December 17_package complete

In Friday’s post, I’ll reveal what’s inside that package, along with instructions for making the contents.

‘Til then, happy stitching (and crafting)!Darra-signature