Cutting and Sewing Curves, a Video Tutorial & Giveaway

Beauty Shot 2

Several of our readers have asked for a tutorial on cutting and sewing curves without using a pattern. We have made a video tutorial showing how easy it is to add curves to your quilting projects. This is the technique we used on our Making Waves pattern.


It’s fun, it’s easy and if you haven’t ever done it, I suggest watching the video and give it a try. It will be permanently living in our How-To Videos page, which can be accessed through the button above. While you are there, be sure to check out some of our other helpful videos.



We are offering two copies of our pattern to two of our readers. Please leave a comment by end of day Friday, July 31st if you would like a chance to receive a pattern.

We will also have the video posted on our SHWS You Tube Channel Enjoy the show!

Laura Signature

Happy Little Placemats – Easier Than They Look with a Video and Free Downloadable Pattern

Earlier this week, I wrote in my post, A Little Happiness with Cotton Couture Solids, about the latest project I have been playing with. My paper pieced placemats were created to tell a color story using Michael Miller’s great collection of solids. As you can see, no two are alike, which made my job soooo much fun. It was as if I were making 4 different miniature quilts!

Happy Little Placemats by Pati Fried for See How We Sew
As complicated as they look – once I got the hang of it, they were actually quite easy. I thought it would be fun to share with you the process, a few tips, along with a free downloadable for you to play with and create your own paper pieced project.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Miller Fabrics

Writing the instructions is definitely harder than making the actual project! I tend to work improvisationally, so it is always a challenge for me to translate my work into words. Since this is a free download, I am going to take a different approach today and simply talk you through the process – there will be more specific directions in the download.

So, put the rotary cutter down, grab a cup of coffee and let’s just walk through the steps together to make these little gems. I urge you give it a try, be open to experimenting and you will end up with your own unique creation.

You can print out the the free downloadable here:     Happy Little Placemats Instructions and Foundation Papers

I recommend printing them on a lightweight newsprint or specialty foundation paper. If you have never paper pieced before, Connecting Threads has a very thorough blog post on all things paper piecing. It also discusses the different types of paper to use.

My finished placemats are 12 x 18”, but both dimensions can be easily adjusted to make a pillow, tote bag, or whatever your heart desires.

2015-03-22 10.41.14

I chose 6 colors of solids in small cuts, a white “sashing” for impact, and gray for the final edge, face binding and backing. Experimenting with mixing solids and prints to get the look you want. That’s what this is all about, right? Playing!

I cut strips of each color to make the variegated stripes. Don’t let the printout scare you. It is actually quite easy and a great way to practice paper piecing. It takes a little time, but you will soon get a rhythm going and you will never more perfect 1/4″ piecing than this!!!

2015-04-29 16.40.11

Paper piecing is one of those things that makes a lot more sense as you go through the motions. Do it once and you will get it forever. Once the sheet is filled with your lovely piecing, follow the directions on the printout to trim the sections out to the correct widths and tips on how to extend the lengths.2015-03-31 08.18.57

Now that you have some practice under your belt, try your hand at the triangle designs. I suggest you cut a 3″ x 9″ wide strips of fabric to start. The size you need will vary with each design. After one or two passes, you will know how big the rectangles need to be. Remember, stitch and flip, stitch and flip. More directions are listed on the printout. Believe me, you will knock them out in no time. If you like one design more than the others, try repeating it in a different color combination. Mix and match for a new look.

Once all your strips are pieced, it’s time to play with your design!!! Yay! That should make you happy. If not, hmmmm, maybe you need to watch my video:

Inspired to finish now? Great! Line up the strips to your liking. The width of the solid strip in the center is determined by the amount needed to reach your desired width. This is where you might be happy to have a little extra length to position your sections where you want them.2015-05-03 12.01.47

Time to sew your little gems together. Here is a hint: leave the foundation paper on until you have sewn all the white sashing in place. It will help keep your lines neat and straight. I cut my sashing oversized, stitched one side in place, then trimmed to 1/2″. I then stitched the next strip in place. It worked really well and kept the wavy seams away. I also decided to insert gray as the last few on each end and then finished with a 2 1/2″” strip as my edge. 2015-05-05 12.20.03

I kept the quilting very simple, in the ditch and not too much of it. I chose a Faced Binding, so as not to distract from the design. For more on Faced Bindings, read Jennifer’s Round’s post Infinity Edges in the Quilts.

2015-05-05 13.35.19

And there you have it! Happy Little Placemats for you to brighten your summer table with. I hope you share your finished projects with us on our SHWS Facebook Page or catch me on Instagramunnamed (1)

As always, thanks for reading! Have a great weekend.


Memory Board Game, A How-To-Make Tutorial

Since many of you have requested instructions on making the Memory Board Game I made in a previous post, I’ve decided to write a short tutorial giving the simple instructions. It’s a fun and easy project to make, using vinyl chalkboard fabric on the cover. It is a perfect “quiet” game doubling as both a drawing board and matching game board. Start collecting your favorite fun fabrics and  kid-type prints and get ready to create!  In case you missed the original post on this project, it was included here, with the review of Lisa Fulmer’s new book “Craft Your Stash”.

Screen shot 2014-10-26 at 7.56.34 PM

The finished size of the game board is 10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″. It folds in half like a book and is secured on the side with a ribbon tie. You can certainly make your game board any size, in fact you may want to adjust it to accommodate the size of the picture squares, or rectangles. Just have fun with this one! Will make an adorable game for a special little one in your life.




Here’s what you will need:

10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ piece of vinyl chalkboard/blackboard fabric

Two 10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ pieces of felt

Two 2-1/2″ x 10″ pieces of Timtex or Peltex (heavyweight stabilizer)

Twenty- four kid-prints or fun fabrics; dots, numbers and letters work well too.  May be more or less, depending on size of prints.

1/2 yard of fusible web

20″ piece of 1″ ribbon, cut in half

Thread & glue

Rotary cutter – I used a scalloped edge blade for added interest

A walking foot will be helpful for stitching through the layers.

Box of colored chalk

Fabric to make small pouch to store chalk and matching squares.



1. Press the fusible web onto the wrong side of all the kid prints.

2. Cut the fabrics into squares, using the rotary cutter. Need two squares of each image. Remove the paper backing from the fusible web.

3. Arrange one-half of the squares onto one piece of felt, leaving a larger space in the center to allow for folding in half.



4. Arrange the other (matching) set of picture squares onto the other piece of felt.

5. Press to secure the picture squares and then stitch both horizontally and vertically approximately 1/4″ from the edges of the squares.

6. With the right side of the chalkboard fabric facing out, layer with the pieces of stabilizer and then one piece of felt.

7. Insert one piece of ribbon on each side of the board, between the layers. Use a little glue to hold in place.

8. Stitch through all layers around the entire edge of the board.


9. Use the rotary cutter to cut around the picture squares which were stitched to the second piece of felt. These are used to match/cover the picture squares stitched to the board.
Here’s the final game, front and back.
Game board with matching pieces.
Game board with matching pieces.
The chalkboard cover makes a nice writing surface.
The chalkboard cover makes a nice writing surface.
10. Consider making a small fabric pouch for storing the matching squares along with a box of colored chalk.
Hope you found this helpful. Until next time everyone, take care everyone.

Laura Signature



Blackbirds and Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along: The Birdhouse Blocks

This week it’s my turn to share my contribution to our Quilt-Along project, Blackbirds and Blossoms, Oh-La-La! If you have been following along with us, these pieces will complete the center of the quilt top. If you are newcomer to this fun group project, it’s certainly not too late to start. All of the instructions can be found in our Pattern Pages. Please join the fun!

Birdhouses complete our Quilt-Along.
The Birdhouses to complete our Quilt-Along.

I was given the task of designing a block for the corners of the quilt. The center floral designs seemed to call for the addition of birds. With this in mind, the idea of creating birdhouses to fit into the corners provided the perfect setting for a quartet of simple, whimsical birds. This is a super-easy-to-construct birdhouse block and it adds a nice corner element to the center floral medallion.

Here’s what you will need to make four Birdhouses:

House front: Four 6-1/2″ x 10-1/2″ pieces

House top: One 11-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice into quarters diagonally to yield four triangles.

Roof: Two 1-3/4″ x 42″ strips. Cut the strips to make four 1-3/4″ x 9-1/4″ pieces and four 1-3/4″ x 10-1/4″ pieces.

Background: Two 13″ squares. Cut each square twice into quarters diagonally to yield eight triangles.

Cut pieces for Birdhouses.
Cut pieces for Birdhouses.


1. Sew a Background triangle to each short side of the House Front pieces, aligning the bottom edges.

2. Use your cutting tools to remove the excess Background and straighten the top edge, as shown.


3. Sew a 1-3/4″ x 9-1/4″ piece  of Roof fabric to one short side of the House Top triangle. Then use the 45-degree angle marking on the ruler to cut the excess fabric even with the bottom edge of the House Top.


4. Sew a 1-3/4″ x 10-1/4″ piece of Roof fabric to the adjoining short side of the House Top triangle. Then use the 45-degree angle marking on the ruler to cut the excess fabric, as shown. This completes the top half of the Birdhouse.


5. Join the top and bottom sections together, matching seams where the House Front and House Top pieces intersect.


6. Press the seam in the direction of the bottom half of the birdhouse.

Easy enough? Yes, of course! Please join me on Friday as I give instructions and hints for adding the Birdhouse opening as well as the birds.

Until next time, enjoy!






Easy Mitered Corner Napkins, a Tutorial

It’s no surprise that my daughters know the difference between good fabric and the not-so good stuff. When my daughter Molly was ordering linens for her upcoming wedding, the choices she had for napkins were not up to her high standards. She thought it might be better to make rather than rent them. Makes sense, right? This way they will be hers to keepall 120 of them, I can’t argue with that one.

photo 1

We were both inspired by some beautiful linens at Pottery Barn and felt they looked best with mitered corners. So, off we went to the store. We were lucky enough to find a bolt of 54″ wide linen. I cut 18″ squares, making six napkins per yard.

Here’s how I made the napkins:

1.  Start at the center point of one side and press the raw edge 1/4″ to the backside (if there is one).  The corners will fold and miter more easily if you work and press in a counter clockwise direction. Note that the top right hand edge is left unpressed at this time. It will be turned and pressed after working completely around the napkin.


2. Turn and press again. I turned these 1″ as I prefer a wide hem. You can adjust to your liking.


3. Rotate the napkin and repeat the process, turning and pressing first 1/4″ and then 1″ to form the hem.



4. Take the napkins to the sewing machine and starting on one side, stitch close to the folded edge. Before reaching the corner, stop and turn the top fold under itself to form a miter.  A pin, tip end of small scissors, stiletto or seam ripper is helpful for this step.


5. Continue stitching to the inside corner. With the needle in the down position, raise the presser foot and pivot the fabric. Continue stitching, repeating the mitering treatment at each corner.

That is it.  It doesn’t get much easier. Now to decide how to fold them. Check out these fun options here. I made a few demonstration napkins using some Kaffe Fassett shot cottons. They work up beautifully and I especially like that the fabric is the same on both sides. Think I’ll be making some of these for myself. I’m sure you will agree that I deserve them!

I hope to show you the bridesmaids robes next month. It’s been pretty fun and creative here–hoping the same is true for you.


Bow Tie for a Little Guy, a Tutorial

As you might imagine, with less than four months to go before the first of two big weddings, I find myself knee deep in projects. Please don’t read this as a complaint because I am loving every minute of it. It simply means that, instead of working on new quilt patterns and tutorials to share with you, I am taking this time to share some of the many small projects that are happening here at “Wedding Central” (as my husband refers to it.)


Screen shot 2014-03-27 at 1.36.42 PM

We are chipping away at the list one day at a time. However, it seems that just as soon as I cross one item off the list, another one magically appears. How does this happen?

Yesterday I made a bow tie for the little ring bearer. It is so darn cute and super easy that I thought it would be fun to share my process with a tutorial. Perhaps you would like to make one for a special little guy in your life?

Bow Tie inst.

This is what the bow tie hardware looks like; hook, eye and slider.
This is what the bow tie hardware looks like; hook, eye and slider.
Cut pieces needed for one bow tie.
Cut pieces needed for one bow tie.


1. Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew the two 2-1/2″ x 12-1/2″ pieces of main fabric and interfacing together, leaving approximately 2″ open for turning. (Note: ignore those diagonal lines printed on the interfacing.) With right sides together, fold both the neckband and loop pieces in half lengthwise and stitch 1/4″ away from the raw edges, as shown.

Main fabric strips are placed right sides together then place interfacing on top. Stitch around edges.
Main fabric strips are placed right sides together then place interfacing on top. Stitch around edges.

2. Turn the bow piece right side facing out and carefully use a tool or pencil to gently push the corners to a point. Hand stitch the opening closed. Press firmly. Also turn both the neckband and loop pieces right sides facing out, and press.

3. Getting the hardware in the right position on the neckband was a bit tricky for me at first so I will try to make this as clear as possible. Run first the “slider” and then the “eye” onto one end of the neckband, as shown.

Bow Tie 8 4. Next, fold the end (shown on the left side above) to the backside and run it through the center bar of the slider. Turn and finger press approximately 1/2″ of the raw, short end of the neckband onto the backside to secure. It should look like this:

Bow Tie 10 5. Place the “hook” onto the opposite end of the neckband, turning the short end to the backside and hand stitch in place to keep the hook from slipping.

Bow Tie 9 6. Divide the bow piece into thirds (approximately every 4″) and fold back and forth, as shown.

Bow Tie 11 7. Pinch the folded bow together at the center point and then use some heavy thread to hold it secure.

Bow Tie 12 8. Position the completed neckband onto the wrong side of the bow, pin to secure. Then run the loop around the center point of the bow, covering the wrapped threads. Turn under the raw edges and hand stitch to secure.

Note: I did not stitch through to the neckband during this step. However, the neckband will slide and you may want to tack it in place once you have determined the exact needed size for your little guy.

Bow Tie 13With a few modifications, I think this design would also work well as a headband for a sweet little girl . . . just a thought! Friday I’ll share my easy mitered corner napkins. Then stay tuned as the next project will be robes for the bridesmaids. I just purchased this lovely new fabric from Verna Mosquera’s Rosewater line for Free Spirit Fabrics. I’m getting my serger tuned up and ready to roll. This will be fun!

Rosewater by Verna Mosquera for Free Spirit Fabrics.
Rosewater by Verna Mosquera for Free Spirit Fabrics.

Thanks for letting me share this special time with you. As always, sending you my best and hoping you are finding time to fill your souls with creative projects.


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.

Two Tea Towels = Simple Apron plus Gift Basket Ideas & Giveaway

Ahh, I’m seeing gift baskets everywhere these days. ‘Tis the season! I both enjoy giving and receiving them as they often contain some special little personalized treasures that have been carefully inserted with the recipient in mind. Having a theme gives me direction while on the hunt for items to include in my baskets.

You may remember from one of my previous posts, I mention the new spices I purchased in Portland at Penzey’s Spice Shop. I have decided to put together some holiday gift baskets for my girls that would include some of these spices along with some additional baking goodies. While on an outing to Cost Plus, I found these wonderful accessories.


The small containers are not only adorable, but so perfect for storing spices. I love that the ceramic tops come in different colors and coordinate with the bowls and measuring cups. Some decorative labels will help to identify the spices.


Seems that once I get on a roll, all sorts of possibilities become available. Tuesday, I found these wonderful tea towels on sale at my local quilt shop. I purchased four (two black and two blue) thinking I would do some quick hand embroidery or add simple appliqué shapes to each one. Instead, I found myself slicing and dicing to make quick-and -easy aprons. Note: I just went back today and purchased the pink and a few more black.


Here’s what you will need to make one apron:

 Two tea towels

1/2 yard of ½”-wide elastic

Two buttons

1. Cut a 4″ wide strip from each long side of one of the towels. Since these towels have stripes, I cut 1/2″ away from the inside stripes to allow for seam allowance. You may adjust width depending on the design of your towel.

2. Turn and press the cut end of each strip and then stitch through all layers. These make the two waistband ties.

Fold, press and stitch strips in half lengthwise. Photo indicates both front and backside of ties.
Fold, press and stitch strips in half lengthwise. Photo indicates both front and backside of ties.

3. Cut the leftover piece of the first towel to measure 12-1/2″ x 12-1/2″. Fold, press, and stitch a narrow 1/4″ hem on all sides. This will be the apron bib.

Apron bib.
Apron bib.

4. On the second towel, measure 1-3/4″ in from one long side. Turn and press to the wrong side, and then stitch close to the folded edge. (Note: The folded edge should already be hemmed, so simply stitch close to the fold.) Stitch again 1/2″ from the top folded edge to form a casing. Finally run a 1/2″ wide piece of elastic through the casing. The length of the elastic will depend on the desired finished width of your apron.

Run elastic through a casing formed on the top edge of the skirt.
Run elastic through a casing formed on the top edge of the skirt.

5. Use safety pins to secure the elastic on the ends, and then insert the waistband ties into the casing on each end. Stitch through all layers to secure.

6. Finally, attach the bib top to the apron skirt with two stitching lines. Use a ribbon or leftover piece of of the towel to make a short neck band. I turned the top corners of the bib back and secured with decorative buttons.

Attach top to skirt, stitching through all layers (gathers).
Attach top to skirt, stitching through all layers (gathers).

8. You can keep your apron simple or consider adding  embellishments, such as rick-rack, pompoms, ruffles, embroidery, or appliqué. I’m heading out of town tomorrow and plan to bring these with me to add some hand embroidery both on the bib and along the bottom edge. Note: There is a leftover piece after cutting the bib top that can easily be used to make a pocket – no waste!

Giveaway-Green:RedI think this simple idea offers many possibilities and I hope you try some of your own. I have an extra set of pink and blue towels and would love to give one set away to one of our readers. Just leave a short comment by end of day Sunday, December 8th, telling us what your favorite gift basket would include and we will announce the winner in our next post on December 10th.

Happy Season everyone!


Fall Garden Sachets – An Afternoon Project

Herb scented pumpkin

My herb garden is overflowing this fall. I tried planting a few new types of herbs last spring, mostly mints for making herbal tea.

They seemed to really thrive on my sunny deck. I had an abundance of Lemon Verbena and Moroccan Mint and they started to seed. They had the most amazing scent.

Basket of herbs

I decided to trim them back and dry the leaves for something . . . I didn’t know what. How about some kind of autumn garden sachet? Pumpkins? Maybe it was time for another play day.

Herbs on my deck

I gathered some supplies: leftover wool, some lovely linen, pipe cleaners, jute for trim, and some walnut shells I had purchased for pin cushion filling.


Let’s start with a circle, nothing perfect of course. I tend to like wonky. We will need a stem, maybe a triangle?


Mark some lines to give the pumpkin shape. I used this as the inside so I don’t have to worry about my markings showing.


Use a heavy jeans thread to baste a running stitch across each line – a knot on one end and a long tail on the other to gather things up later.


Run another basting stitch all the way around outer perimeter of the circle. A different color thread helps to keep track of all the different loose strings. Gather the basted circle up into a little pouch.


Make sure all the loose threads are on the outside of the pouch.


Fill the pouch with a mixture of walnut shells and crushed herbs. You could use rice, instead of walnut shells. I actually added some batting to mine also, so that I didn’t use up all my walnut shells.


Gather all those loose strings and pull them as tight as possible. Knot them together and poke the strings inside the pouch.


Look at the underside. It’s starting to look like a pumpkin!


Uh – oh, how am I going to do this stem? Fold the wool triangle in half, stitch it up, then turn it inside out. I use my favorite sewing tool for this – a chopstick! I keep lots of them handy with different size tips. Fold the pipe cleaner in half, and then again, and twist it to fit inside the stem.


I decided I needed a leaf. Add another running stitch right down the center to give it some dimension.


This is starting to look cute!


Whip stitch everything together.


Twist this stem into shape,  then tie a bow on and it’s finished!


One in linen, one in wool. I could make a whole patch full of these!

DSC00233What a wonderful fresh scent they put off. I just walk by and squeeze them every now and then!