Monday, October 5, 2015

Purse Palooza Guest Post

You'll find me over at Sew Sweetness today, helping to kick off Sara's annual Purse Palooza event. I'm reviewing one of my all-time favorite patterns, the Triangle Patchwork Box Pouch from Patchwork, Please! by Ayumi Takahashi. Go check it out!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Smoothie Block Laptop Case

Smoothie Block Laptop Case by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

It's really easy for me to fall into a rut when it comes to block design. Most of the time, I'm perfectly content to just sew together a stack of squares and call it good. When I feel the need for something new, the best way to start is usually by sitting down with a pad of graph paper and my colored pencils, and that's exactly what I did to prep for today's book tour post. 

Picture courtesy of Blossom Heart Quilts

My friend Alyce has just published an e-book called DIY Block Design which is full of tips for creating your own quilt blocks. She covers all the basics of design, particularly the dreaded mathematics that go into quilting. You'll find charts in here that are absolutely priceless, giving you all the math for common shapes like half square triangles and flying geese in a wide range of sizes. If you're a beginning quilter or if you struggle with the numbers, I highly recommend getting a copy of this little e-book. 

Alyce asked if I would talk a bit about my own design process for today's post, so I thought I'd walk you through the development of a project I made this week.

I've been needing a new laptop case for my Chrome Book which we bought earlier this year, and I wanted it to feature a quilt block on the front. After a bit of doodling at my desk the other night, this is what I came up with. I liked the mix of strips and half square triangles, although I wasn't sure about the size of the quilt block. Math seemed to demand a smaller block centered on the case with a border around it, but I wanted the block to be bigger.

Smoothie Block Laptop Case by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

After some thought and a bit of time at the cutting table, I settled on this design -- almost the same except that it features four half square triangles in each corner rather than the original nine. For a project this small, I didn't mind settling for fewer but larger squares -- especially when it meant that I could fussy cut bigger pictures from each print. 

Juice Bar Fabric Audition by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

This is the fabric stack that I pulled for the project before making alterations to the block, so sadly many of these prints didn't make it into my project. I've saved all the extra squares, though, and I have no doubt you'll be seeing them in the future. I called this fabric audition "Juice Bar" on Instagram, and I've decided to name my new design the Smoothie Block since it reminds me so much of pieces of fruit being spun around by the blades of a blender. Of course, since there's nothing new under the sun, I have no doubt that this block already exists under a more dignified name. That's the reality of quilt design when you come in on the heels of centuries of creativity. But seriously, I'm craving a Strawberries Wild smoothie from Jamba Juice right now as I type this...

Smoothie Block Laptop Case by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I added a strip of black yarn dyed Essex linen to the bottom of the block for a finished look to the case. A large piece from a recent checkered text print by Suzuko Koseki paired with the same linen made the perfect backing, and I lined the case with a sweet floral print by Aneela Hoey from Hello Petal. A button and hair elastic are currently my favorite type of closure for just about any case. It's easy, and it just looks cute. 

Smoothie Block Laptop Case by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I am so grateful to Alyce for pushing me out of my comfort zone to try something new. I adore this little case, and it will be getting lots of use in the coming months. If you'd like to design a block of your own, there will be a link-up at the end of October as well as a weekly challenge on Instagram. Prizes will definitely be involved, and you can get all the details here. Just look at the inspiration that Alyce has lined up this month...

October 1 - Let the games begin!

October 2
Heidi @ Fabric Mutt
Christa @ ChristaQuilts
Angie @ Gnome Angel

Week 1: Inspiration

October 7Ros @ Sew Delicious

October 9
Jennie @ Clover & Violet
Jane @ QuiltJane
Melissa @ My Fabric Relish

Week 2: Sketches

October 14

October 16

Week 3: Making

October 21

October 23
Keera @ Live Love Sew
Janice @ Better Off Thread
Michelle @ Factotum Of Arts

Week 4: Finishes

October 28
Kelly @ A Place Of My Own
Abby @ Color Bar Quilts

October 30 - Linky opens!

Smoothie Block Laptop Case by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Happy sewing, my friends!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Patchwork Bench Pad

Denyse Schmidt Patchwork Bench Cushion by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

A gorgeous Amish entryway unit came to live with us last month, and my mom asked if I'd be willing to make a patchwork pad for the bench. Nothing seemed more appropriate than to pull out a stack of my favorite Denyse Schmidt prints and start sewing. After measuring the space, I decided that 3 x 4" finished rectangles would be a good choice for my blocks. I most often work with squares, but it was nice to mix things up a little this time.

Denyse Schmidt Patchwork Bench Cushion by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

As I mentioned in my progress photos on Instagram, randomly placed patchwork blocks may look simple, but it takes me hours to settle on an arrangement. I came back to my sewing table at least a dozen times to play with these blocks before I was done -- and even then I switched a few around while I was finally sewing them together. 

Denyse Schmidt Patchwork Bench Cushion by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I used two layers of heavy batting to give this piece a little more padding and quilted it with a zig-zag stitch along the seams. I like the way it gives the cushion an old-fashioned look, making it appear slightly tufted.

Denyse Schmidt Patchwork Bench Cushion by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

The pad is backed in another favorite Denyse Schmidt print, and it's bound in yarn dyed Essex linen. Although technically this piece is reversible, I expect that we'll be keeping the colorful side up most of the time.'s the greatest.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sewing School: Tiger Lily Doll Quilts

It's been a while since I've sewed with my daughters. With the move, I just haven't had the time. But earlier this year when I first laid eyes on Heather Ross's Tiger Lily collection, I knew that this would give the girls and me something to look forward to. After weeks of hearing little voices ask, "Is it here yet, Mommy?" our package showed up earlier this month, and last Friday we finally sat down to sew.

My girls wanted to make doll quilts for their American Girl friends, so after measuring their IKEA toy beds, I decided we would make simple patchwork quilts using 16 blocks, each a finished 4" square. I cut a stack of squares for each girl which they got to arrange any way they wanted.

It was fun to observe my daughters as they walked through this creative experience, especially since they're at least a year older since the last time we sewed together. They were all big fans of the planning stage. Bunny even brought her doll in to consult on placement decisions. Bear put in a lot of time on arranging before finally coming to me with a brown square and saying, "Mommy, I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but this fabric isn't really my style." We quickly replaced it with something pink. Mouse insisted that she had a matching theme to her quilt, since she tried to make sure that similar designs in different colorways were placed right next to each other.

For the first time, I let Bunny sew by herself at the machine while I watched, and she was so proud. I got to hear all the details about a future sewing room of her own. This girl has big plans, let me tell you.

Bear and Mouse both sat on my lap during their turns, placing their hands over mine while we sewed and quilted together. I let Bear take the wheel for a few seconds here and there, but it was definitely a team effort.

We decided to do a different style of quilting for each quilt. Bunny chose wavy lines, Bear used a zig-zag stitch, and Mouse had simple diagonal lines across the squares. I've found that even though kids can tell their projects apart by the arrangement of the quilt top, it helps to use variety in the quilting designs too.

The bottom line: sewing with kids is not really something you do for relaxation, because honestly, that's not the point. It's always a challenge to keep little hands away from the hot iron, to explain what a bobbin does for the fifteenth time, to make your peace with a five-year-old's design decisions and the inevitable mismatched seams. But time spent sharing your passion with your children and seeing it become their passion as's time you'll never regret.

Celebrate the end of National Sewing Month by sewing with a kid. I promise, you won't be bored.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Homestead Jet-Set Case & Giveaway

I'm so happy to be a part of the Homestead Blog Hop for my friends at Birch Fabrics today! Homestead is a sweet new collection by Emily Isabella featuring daisies, blackberries, and a cast of friendly animals in her whimsical depiction of life on the farm. I decided to use my fabric bundle to make a modified version of the Jet-Set Case from my book, Sew Organized for the Busy Girl -- just perfect for a child's school supply pack.

I can't tell you how much I love this collection's color palette. The colors are soft yet modern, and while many of the prints are child friendly, there are several that would be at home in projects for any age level. I made my Jet-Set Case a little different from the original project. The case itself is about 3" narrower, making it easier to fit inside a child's backpack. I also switched out the Velcro fastened vinyl pocket for a simple cloth pocket with no closure, making it a great place to stash a set of flashcards or a pocket journal. The zipper pocket and removable pouch are a nice size for pencils, crayons, erasers, glue sticks, and all the other tools in a typical school kit.

I'm so delighted with how this project turned out, and my three girls are a little jealous that it will be heading off to the Birch Fabrics Quilt Market Booth instead of staying with us!

Meanwhile, Birch is having an incredible giveaway to celebrate the Homestead Collection: 1 yard of each fabric in the collection -- either poplin or knit! You can use the widget below to enter...

Win 1 yard of each print from Homestead by Emily Isabella!
Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour as well. All these talented people have great projects to share with you! 

Happy sewing!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fall Mug Rug

Fall Mug Rug by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

From the moment my calendar turns to September, I'm ready to welcome fall back with open arms. That means pumpkins on my dining room table, molasses cookies in the oven, and sweaters in my closet -- even if it's still too warm to actually wear them. I also had fall on the brain when I was doing this week's fabric audition, a stack called Autumn Bonfire, which I put together to make a mug rug for my dad's new desk. 

Autumn Bonfire Fabric Audition by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

This was the original bundle that I pulled for the project. I ended up changing a few prints slightly, but I basically stayed with this mix of gold, tangerine, and navy blue. 

Fall Mug Rug by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

A Charley Harper print took center stage, surrounded by the other rectangles, giving me a mat that measures approximately 9 x 12". I backed the piece in a wonderful map design by Tim Holtz and used a brown wicker print by Juliana Horner for the binding. 

Fall Mug Rug by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

And there it is...another little glimpse of fall in my house. How I love it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sweet Tweets Blog Hop

Sweet Tweets by Erin Cox, project by Heidi Staples

My enormously talented friend Erin of Why Not Sew has written a darling book called Sweet Tweets: Simple Stitches, Whimsical Birds, and I'm so happy to be a part of her book tour today. These pages are full of adorable little projects featuring vintage style patchwork and Erin's beloved little free-motion applique birds. For today's post, I chose to make the Birds & Bees Hot Pad since it featured the hand sewn hexagons that I love to stitch. I pulled lots of favorite new prints for this piece, including many designs from the Spring Cotton + Steel collections.

Sweet Tweets by Erin Cox, project by Heidi Staples

Though I didn't have the materials on hand to do the applique in the corners of the pad as the instructions called for, I decided to use the petal templates as a guide for some hand quilting with red Aurifloss thread. I absolutely adore the way it turned out. With a little navy binding to frame the edges, it makes a beautiful giant mug rug for the nightstand by my bed. I can't tell you how much I love seeing it there every day!

Sweet Tweets by Erin Cox, project by Heidi Staples

Erin's book is full of fun small projects, just perfect for the instant gratification sewing that I try to fit into each week. I love how personal each one is, and I especially admire the way she works so many special touches into each piece like optional crocheted borders and the tiniest pieces of patchwork. I will definitely be working from this book again!

You can follow the rest of the tour according to the schedule below, and if you'd like to win an e-copy of Sweet Tweets for yourself, please leave a comment on this post. I'll choose a winner by Friday! 

Tuesday, Sept.8 - Erin (Introduction post) Why Not Sew?
Wednesday, Sept.9 - Heidi Fabric Mutt
Thursday, Sept.10 - Debbie A Quilter's Table
Friday, Sept.11 - No Post
Saturday, Sept.12 - Jacque Brown Dog Prims
Monday, Sept.14 - Amy nanaCompany
Tuesday, Sept.15 - Svetlana s.o.t.a.k handmade
Wednesday, Sept.16 - Renee Sewn With Grace
Thursday, Sept.17 - Martingale Stitch This! The Martingale Blog
Friday, Sept.18 - Heather Vintage Grey Handmade
Saturday, Sept.19 - Clara and Jennie Clover & Violet 
Monday, Sept.21 - Amanda Jean Crazy Mom Quilts
Tuesday, Sept.22 - Cindy Live a Colorful Life
Wednesday, Sept.23 - Carla Grace and Favour
Thursday, Sept.24 - Mary Molly Flanders
Friday, Sept.25 - No Post
Saturday, Sept.26 - Erin, Big Giveaway Post!!! Why Not Sew? 

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! Congratulations, Margaret!***
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