Hello Kitty madness

I need to admit… since my last post I have officially become obsessed with Liberty Hello Kitty fabrics. I can’t stop thinking about what other little things I can make with those fabrics. Why little things? Well, aside from not needing much fabric, those Liberty fabrics really shine at a small scale, because the prints are so detailed and crisp. Besides, little things are inherently cute, don’t you think, and I have a tendency to be obsessed with tiny creations.

Liberty Hello Kitty sun hats

Aren’t these sun hats pretty? Okay, they are not exactly “little” – they are for 3 year olds. But still, hats don’t require too much fabric in the scheme of things. Each hat takes less than 1/4 meter of the main fabric.

Liberty Hello Kitty hats being made

Here’s a shot of the hats before they had linings. The Liberty fabric is very lightweight, so I fused it first with woven interfacing to give it the body a hat needs.

Liberty Hello Kitty sun hat with pink stripes

This one has pink and white stripe lining, which is very girly and dreamy.

Liberty Hello Kitty sun hat with bright pink lining

This vivid-colored hat has solid hot pink lining. The lining is important because you’ll see it when you wear this hat with its brim rolled up. It’s fun to have a different fabric peeking under the brim. These hats are actually reversible, but seriously, would you ever wear them to hide the gorgeous Kitty print?

And while at it, I couldn’t resist making something else to go with these hats.

Liberty Hello Kitty mini handbags

Mini handbags! I had so much fun making them. These are just little zippered coin purses basically, but with the little handles, don’t they look like handbags?

Liberty Hello Kitty mini handbags as a phone case

They may be small, but not completely useless. I could fit an iPhone in it, so a grownup could use it as a phone case. They are lightly padded as well.

Liberty Hello Kitty mini handbags as a phone caseNow, what else can I make with these fabrics….? To be continued.

Tutorial: Mother’s Day apron

My mother loves aprons. She adores them so much that she wears them pretty much all the time at home. I haven’t worn an apron myself since my pastry chef days, but doesn’t it look cute on my mother? This is the apron I made for Mother’s Day this year (along with a few placemats using the same fabric), using a lovely cotton linen blend canvas from Japan with drawings of vegetables on it.

mothers' day apron

 

Are you an apron fan? Or maybe your mother is? Then it’s really easy to make, even without a proper pattern. Just use whatever apron you already have and like, and make a pattern from it – I’ll show you how.

Step 1: Copy a pattern from your favorite apron.

Press your favorite apron well, and place flat on a large piece of paper. I’m using a thin tissue paper for pattern tracing, which you can buy at a sewing supply shop. You can use any large piece of paper you have, of course, but having this semi-transparency helps in the step below. 

making an apron pattern from an existing apron

First, make sure there is enough blank space on the paper around the apron, to add seam allowance later. Then trace all the way around the apron with a pen or pencil.

tracing around the apron

Next, you are going to clean up those lines you just traced. Fold the marked pattern vertically in half (fold along the dotted “center fold line” on the diagram below), more or less matching the left and right sides together. See, this step is easier to do if you used the semi-tranparent paper.

Chances are the lines for the left side don’t exactly match the lines for the right side, because your apron has been worn and washed many times, and it has lost the original sharp, symmetrical lines.

apron pattern making diagram 1

With the draft pattern folded, re-draw neat, straight lines over your original tracing, using a ruler (except for the armhole curves). Make sure (1) the top hem line and the bottom hem line are aligned parallel to each other, (2) the two straight sides are parallel to each other, and that (3) the straight sides are at 90 degrees from the bottom hem line. Basically, if you extend the side seam and top hem lines till they meet, the apron outline should be a perfect rectangle shape. I hope this diagram helps.

Now is a good time to modify the pattern to your liking. If you’d like a longer apron, just add some lengths to the side seams. If you’d like a wider apron, so it will wrap over your body for better coverage, just extend the armhole lines a bit on each side, to make the apron wider.

Next, you need to add seam allowances to the pattern. Add 1 3/8″ (3.5cm) to the top and bottom hems. Add 3/4″ (2cm) to the sides, and to the curved armhole hems. The drafting part is all finished now!

apron pattern making diagram 2 - adding seam allowance

With the draft pattern still folded in half, cut the pattern out along the seam allowance lines (but don’t cut along the folded center!) – so you’ll end up with one big apron pattern piece.

Finally, make a paper pattern for a rectangular pocket, too. Any size of your choosing is fine, but 13″ wide x 10″ high (33cm x 27cm) is a good size that includes seam allowances.

Step 2: Cut the fabric and cotton tapes.

Now that you have the pattern, the rest is easy! Choose any medium to heavy-weight woven fabric for the apron, such as canvas or home decor / interior fabric. Linen or linen blend fabric will make a particularly lovely apron. Quilting cotton is not recommended, because it is too lightweight. Prewash and press the fabric well.

Pin the apron pattern over the fabric, and cut along the pattern.

apron making - cutting fabric from a pattern

It’ll be most accurate if you first mark the outline of the pattern onto the fabric with a pen and a ruler, and then cut along the marked lines. But for things like an apron, there is little harm done if you choose to just pin the pattern onto the fabric and cut the fabric along the pattern.

apron making - cutting fabric from a pattern

Cut the pocket piece, too.

Cut two lengths of lightweight cotton tape (about 1″ or 2.5cm wide) for the neck tie (one for each side, to be tied together at the desired length by the wearer), and two lengths for the waist ties. Again, any length you like is fine. My suggested lengths for a thin-to-average sized woman is 21″ (55cm) each for the neck ties, and 35″ (90cm) each for the waist ties.

You can buy lightweight cotton tape in bulk quite cheaply online. Try searching on eBay or Etsy, for example. I use them for a lot of things, from lunch bag handles to bunting making.

rolls of white cotton tapes

Step 3: Make the pocket and attach it.

Fold over the top edge of the pocket at about 3/8″ (1cm), and then fold it again to make a double-fold hem. Stitch along this folded edge. Fold the sides and bottom edges of the pocket at about 3/8″ (1cm), and press well. apron making - making the pocket

Pin the pocket to the middle of the apron.

apron making - pinning the pocket

Stitch around the sides and bottom of the pocket onto the apron, stitching close to the edge (about 1/12″ or 2mm from the edge). Then stitch around the sides and bottom again, at about 1/2″ (1.3cm) from the edge. This second round of stitching (1) makes the pocket more securely attached to the apron body, and (2) conceal the raw cut edges of the pocket inside the double stitching. So if you look inside the pocket, it’ll be nice and clean.

Step 4: Sew the curved armholes.

Fold over the raw edge of a curved armhole in, at 3/8″ (1cm). Press. Then fold it again at 3/8″ (1cm), to make a double-folded hem. Press. 

apron making - folding side armholes

Sitch along the fold. Repeat for the other side.

Step 5: Sew the top hem.

Fold the top hem over at about 3/8″ (1cm), and then fold it again at about 1″ (2.5cm) to create a double-folded hem. Press well. Insert a piece of cotton tape (for the neck tie) into this fold, close to each end of the hem. Pin.

apron making - inserting cotton tape at top hem

apron-making - top hemStitch along this top hem, close to the folded edge. Your stitching will attach the cotton tapes to the apron at the same time, with the cut edge nicely concealed inside the folded hem.

Now fold each cotton tape over towards the top (so the ties will face upwards towards your neck, not droop downward toward your feet), and pin. Topstitch along the very top of the apron, stitching over the cotton tapes along the way.

apron making - topstitching the top hem

Step 6: Sew the sides.

Fold over a straight side hem at about 3/8″ (1cm), and then fold it again at 3/8″ (1cm) to create a double-folded hem. Press well.

apron making - folding the side hems

Insert a piece of cotton tape (for the waist tie) into this fold, at the top of this hem, and pin.

apron making - side hems

Stitch along this side hem close to the folded edge like you just did with the top hem, stitching over the cotton tapes at the same time.

Now fold the cotton tape over to face outwards (so it’s ready to wrap around your waist). Stitch over the tape in this position (just over the tape bit; you don’t have to sew all the way along the side again) – try to stitch right over the previous stitch line, so you won’t see the second line of stitches from the right side of the apron.

Repeat for the other side.

Step 7: Sew the bottom hem.

Fold the bottom hem at about 3/8″ (1cm), and then fold it again at about 1″ (2.5cm) to create a double-folded hem. Press well. Stitch along this bottom hem, close to the folded edge.

Stem 8: Finish up.

Your apron is nearly ready! Try it on, and make sure the neck ties and the waist ties are the lengths you like. If they are too long, cut them shorter. (If they are too short… well there is nothing you can do now at this point, other than unpick the tapes and stitch longer ones on in their place.) If everything looks good, fold over the raw cut edge of each cotton tape piece twice, and stitch over the fold line to keep the tape ends from fraying.

All done now! Enjoy your new apron.  (This is my mother last year, wearing last year’s Mother’s Day present!)

apron modelled by my mother

 

Liberty Hello Kitty fabrics… and DIY covered button hair ties

I am not a huge Hello Kitty fan. I mean, I probably was when I was 8 or so, and all the little girls in Japan loved everything with Hello Kitty on it. I know the Cat has since become an international icon of cuteness, but I never quite understood why.

So when I first saw Hello Kitty fabrics from Liberty of London (was it a few years ago?) – I didn’t get it. To me, Liberty of London tana lawn meant top-quality, luxury fabric for grownups. These fabrics are super expensive, and frankly, just too good for children who’d smear spaghetti sauce on them. And Hello Kitty meant… well, “childish trinkets” comes to mind when I think of it. Liberty and Hello Kitty just didn’t seem to mix.

Until I saw this fabric.

Liberty Hello Kitty Art fabric

Wow! So beautiful and cheesy at the same time. The design is so clever in that, while the cats are everywhere, they are well-blended into the overall pattern – you probably wouldn’t even notice the cats when looking from a distance. Instead of being the main thing, Hello Kitty has become dots, flowers, and colors.

When I learned that these fabrics are only available for sale in Japan in limited quantities, I had to order some right away. Never mind the exorbitant price tag.

Hello Kitty Liberty fabrics

And these arrived yesterday. I love, love, love them. The silky quality of Liberty Tana Lawn fabric, combined with the detailed and crisp print, and the silly cuteness of colourful cats everywhere, is a winning combination – even for a grownup I might say.

Hello Kitty Liberty fabrics - selvedge

 

Here’s what the selvedge looks like: Printed in Japan, and for sale only in Japan. It’s not allowed to make products out of this fabric for sale.

Now the dilemma was, on one hand these fabrics were too precious to cut into. On the other hand, I was dying to play with the kitties because they were too darn cute. Hmm… The solution?

Hello Kitty Liberty covered button hair ties

Covered buttons of course! Made into girly hair ties! These were so easy and satisfying to make – and require only a tiny amount of fabric. Would you like to give it a try? Here’s what you need:

Materials needed for covered buttons

You can buy covered button sets from a craft shop, or online. They are pretty cheap in bulk and come in different sizes. Each set has a rounded, outer button and the backside panel. Make sure they come with the mould tool, or buy it separately. I bought mine here.

Step 1: Make a template with clear plastic so you can “fussy cut” the fabric. The button kits I had are about 1 1/8″ in diameter. The template should be a circle with about 2 1/8″ diameter. I marked the center of the template, so it’s easier to place a desired object – say, a Kitty face – right in the middle of the button.

Step 2: Place the template onto the right side of the fabric, and trace around it with a pen.

covered button DIY - cut fabric

Step 3: Cut the fabric.

covered button DIY - cut fabric

Step 4: Sandwich the fabric between the mould and the rounded outer button. Make sure the right side of the fabric is facing the mould side. Press the button into the mould.

covered button DIY - setting the button

 

If you have a clear mould, you can check from the other side if the pattern is placed where you want it. You also have to be a little careful with very lightweight fabric like Liberty tana lawn, because the fabric can get stretched out of shape — and the pretty face of the cat could be distorted. If you are not happy here, you can take the button out the mould and start again, till you get the result you want.

covered button DIY - place fabric on mould

Here the fabric is pushed all the way in.

 

covered button DIY - back of button

Step 5: Press the back of the button into the mould till it clicks in. I just use my fingers here, even though the mould comes with a little tool for pushing the back panel in (it’s the little round blue thing you see in the photo above).

 

Step 6: Pop the button out of the mould, and that’s it!

Step 7: Thread a narrow, commercial hair tie through the loop hole in the back of the button, and you just made the world’s prettiest hair tie for your little girl – or for yourself.

covered button DIY - threading hair elastic

You can also buy covered button kits with a flat back, without the loop hole. You can glue them onto DIY hair slides, or magnets, or little pegs… the possibilities are endless.

Thoughts on custom orders – a tote-style diaper bag

I love custom orders. Well, I should say that I love the right kind of custom orders. The right kind of custom order is when a customer wants a product that I also want to develop. In other words, a custom order becomes a funded research and development project. This kind of custom order motivates me to come up with a good design in a relatively short period of time – whereas, if left alone, I could be working on a new design in my “spare time,” and a project could drag on for months or more.

Another thing I love about a custom order is that I can work directly with my customer about the design. A customer doesn’t passively buy my finished product, but becomes a partner in creating something new. I really enjoy this collaborative process because I can learn what kind of products people are looking for, while at the same time, incorporating my design agenda. Plus in my line of work, it can get pretty lonely, and I love these rare teamwork opportunities – even when the client lives thousands of miles away!

Tote-style diaper bag with leather handles

Here’s an example of what I mean by the right kind of a custom order — a large tote bag I made this week for a customer in New York.

She loved the French pastry recipe fabric I posted on Facebook, and requested a large tote bag that could be used as a diaper bag for her upcoming baby. She chose the bag style and orientation (longer than wider), and requested lots of pockets. The rest was up to me.

Tote-style diaper bag with leather handles

Leather handles! I had never used leather handles before, but when I looked at this beautiful fabric, I thought it deserved to have leather handles. It’s a good thing my customer was not a vegan.

I used heavy-duty cotton canvas for the lining and for the bottom, to give the bag a good structure. I needed this structure inside, because I didn’t want to use interfacing for the French pastry fabric — it would have ruined the wonderful softness and drape of the 50% linen fabric.

 

 

Inside, there is a large zippered double pocket with waterproof lining on one side, and a simple patch pocket for the other side. So three pockets in total. If the bag was in “landscape” orientation (i.e. wider than longer), I might have added a side pocket.

You can’t see it in the photos, but there is also a linen tab with a carabiner on one side. These carabiner key-holder tabs are so useful, I’m adding these to a lot of my bags these days. It’s great not just for hanging keys, but you can hang a wristlet pouch from it to keep your essentials securely attached to your bag.

Another small detail I like is the strip of facing I added to the top of the lining, using the same French pastry fabric. Don’t you think it gives the bag a nice professional look? It also gives the bag another layer of fabric for structure at the opening.

I loved how the bag turned out, it was sad to send it away to my customer! But oh well, I can always make another one. That’s the beauty of doing this kind of custom orders – after the order has been shipped, I am left with a detailed note I took on how to make the bag. And that’s worth the many hours it took to make the bag itself.

 

 

Pattern testing – insulated lunch bag

I’m so excited to announce that my first pattern and kits for insulated lunch bags are now finished and up for sale! Why am I now writing patterns, you ask? Well, I have always wondered if other crafters might enjoy making the zakka items I create, rather than having to buy the finished items from my shops. I also feel passionate about getting people to learn how to sew. So my hope was to write patterns that are detailed enough for beginners to follow, but are still interesting for more experienced crafters.

I’d love to tell you more about the pattern and the kits in another post, but first, I’d like to tell you about the five wonderful women who tested my lunch bag pattern and kits – Erika, Bec, Su, Kristy and Sarah. At first I was hoping to get two or three volunteer testers, but was thrilled to find five! And they’ve all done tremendous work getting the kits sewn up and giving me invaluable feedback.

Here’s the lunch bag Sarah made. She chose this “boy and ship” fabric that turned out to be quite cute for this bag.

Sarah's lunch bag - boy and ship

Kristy from Monkey Mai made this lunch bag with the red bird fabric. Beautiful job!

Kristy's lunch bag - red linen birds

I was lucky to have two other professional crafters to test out my kits and pattern. Bec from Little Toot Creations is an experienced dressmaker. Isn’t her grey bird lunch bag beautiful?

Bec's lunch bag - grey linen bird

Su, another experienced dressmaker from Alice Loves Handmade, chose this pink elephant fabric for her daughter. It turned out so pretty and girly. I’m also pleased that most of my testers were able to make the lunch bags without having to print out the 20-odd-page instruction. You can see how nice the pattern looks on Su’s iPad in the photo. But more about the pattern itself later.

Su's lunch bag - Pink elephant with iPad

Last but not the least, Erika helped me out all the way from Vermont, US. She’s an avid crafter, and was the one who initially encouraged me to write patterns. She made not one but two lunch bags using her own fabrics – because sending kit materials to the US would take so long. I love both her bags! She made her own handles, too, which add a lot to the design, don’t you think?

Erika's lunch bag - Hello KittyErika's princess lunch bag

I really enjoyed working with all the pattern testers, and feel that they are now part of my team. It gets lonely sometimes working alone in my studio at home. So even though I have never met any of the testers personally or even spoken to them on the phone, it’s been wonderful to have this teamwork experience by email. It just shows how generous and supportive this crafting community is. Thanks a million for your help, and I look forward to working with you again in the future!

Backpack envy

My son started attending a Steiner preschool this year. My daughter, who attended that same preschool last year, has moved up to their “Little Kindy” classroom. So to celebrate this milestone of both my kids going to the same “big school,” I promised them each a new backpack.

Until now I had been packing the kids’ school and daycare stuff in large nappy-bag style bags I made. But when my kids see all the other children going to school wearing (mostly bright-colored plastic) backpacks, they naturally wanted backpacks just like them. Yes, peer pressure.

Well, I really dislike the look and feel of plastic backpacks, but I didn’t want my kids to feel left out at school. So I wanted to make nice fabric backpacks that still resemble the shape of plastic ones.  Here’s what I came up with for Mr. A.  He chose this fabric himself.

fabric backpack in black zoo print

The pattern is my own, but let me tell you, there were some struggles along the way. The first version came out terribly (I’m embarrassed to even tell you why), and the second version came out way too big. After going back to the drawing board, the third version was just right. Well, it still looks pretty big on Mr. A., but you know, he’s barely three, and will soon grow into the backpack size – I hope.

My son wearing the new zipper backpack

Here are more photos of the backpack details. It has a flap pocket in the middle, side patch pockets, and little tabs on both sides to make it easier to open and close the zipper. The strap is padded and adjustable.

zipper backpack front detail - pocket

zipper backpack side detail - patch pocketHere’s what the inside looks like.

zip backpack detail - inside view

I used a heavy-duty cotton canvas for the lining, to give the backpack a good structure and shape, like those plastic ones. I bound the raw seams with orange bias binding, just because a bit of color is fun.

A few days later, and after much nagging by Miss M., I finished her new backpack. Of course it’s pink – but I love that my kids chose the matching print. How cute!

zip backpack in pink zoo print

I have to admit this one came out nicer than my son’s. I made small improvements, like using larger tabs on the side, and using sliders for for adjusting the straps (for the black one, I used double D rings, which didn’t work too well).

zip backpack detail - side D ring tab

zip backpack detail - adjustable strapszip backpack detail - inside viewI hope my kids will be happy to wear them to school, and not feel too envious of other plastic backpacks out there….

Fabric gift

It’s been many years since I’ve been to Japan, and right now the only thing I miss about that country, pretty much, is the opportunity for fabric shopping. Well, fabric and the food. Online fabric shops are wonderful, and they supply me with most that I need, but occasionally I wonder what I’m missing by not being there in person.

So every time my mother – who also lives in Australia – visits Japan, I beg her to please go fabric shopping on my behalf. She’s always a little hesitant at first, saying she doesn’t know what I want, but I tell her that it’s okay to choose what she likes. Our tastes are different, but not so different that I wouldn’t like what she chooses. Actually, I love the element of surprise.

And this is the pile of fabrics my mother bought for me in Janurary.

A pile of Japanese fabric

Wow! There is so. much. fabric. Some are canvas and others are more lightweight. I’ve seen some of them on online shops, but most of them are new to me – which just confirms my suspicion that I am missing out by not being in Japan.

These are some of my favorites.

guitar fabric

sewing supply fabricFrench pastry fabric

Black cat fabric

Black cat fabric

cute rabbit fabriclinen dots and floral fabricJust looking through these fabrics is inspiring me to make things. Though they’ll have to be small things, because most of them are one meter or less in quantity. But I love that challenge as well. The only thing is I might not have the courage to cut into some of these fabrics, let alone sell them, knowing there is only so little…..

These fabrics are a gift for my upcoming birthday. Lucky me! Thanks Midori! It’s nice to have such a lovely mother.

Wristlet pouches

I’ve been working on wristlet pouches for a while.  So far I’ve made no less than four different versions.

red and white polka dot wristlet pouch

This was the first one.  I loved its simple construction and cute shape.

But it turned out to be a little too narrow to fit a typical women’s wallet.  I had no idea because my own wallet is very small – it’s great to have a product tester to point these things out for me.

wristlet pouch with red stripy traditional japanese fabric

So this is the wider version I made.  (aside: I used this traditional Japanese fabric, with which I’ve been in love for a while.)  Definitely wide enough for big women’s wallets.  I also started using padding for that cushy feel.  My product tester was happy.

So I made another one using this gorgeous handprinted fabric from Blueberry Ash.

wristlet pouches using handprinted fabric

Very pretty.  At this point I was still attached to the shape of the small pouch, so I made one of each.

 

But deep down I wasn’t happy with the shape of the larger pouch.  It just wasn’t cute enough for me.  So I tried this one, using a recessed zipper pattern, with a fake piping detail.  I used another gorgeous traditional Japanese fabric called “nanairo” (seven colors).

wristlet pouch with recessed zipper

The result? It was a disaster!  It wasn’t anywhere near cute.  It looked boxy and cold like a fridge.

Then I figured out what I didn’t like about it: I didn’t like the bottom of the pouch looking narrower than the top.  I also thought the pouch was out of proportion because it was too short for its width.  So I got off my lazy chair and drafted a nice rounded pouch pattern.  It should be wide enough for a large wallet, but is also slightly taller.  I scrapped the recessed zipper idea, but made the zipper ends a little neater.  Here’s a sample.

wristlet pouch final version with rounded bottoms

Now this one, I am in love.  See how cute it is with the bottom of the bag looking rounded and wider than at the top?  It doesn’t have a gusset, but it is still 3D in shape because of the little darts.  It looks so friendly and inviting, you just want to hold in your hand all the time.

green daisy wristlet pouch

Here’s the same pouch in green.  Which one do you like better – green or red?  Finally, finally the pouches are shop-ready!

Tutorial: Potholder variation 1 – simple patchwork

 

 

I have this gorgeous cookbook called Simple to Spectacular, by Mark Bittman and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.  What I love about this book is its organisation.  For each section, there is one easy, basic recipe.  And then the book offers several variations based on the basic recipe, making it progressively more involved, interesting, and luxurious.  For example, there is a recipe for a simple boiled egg, and the luxury version has a sauce with caviars that makes the dish restaurant quality.  I love this concept, because this book shows you the very process of cooking – learning to cook is all about coming up with variations yourself, not blindly following a recipe every time you cook.  The books shows you how to think like a chef.  

So I thought of this book when I thought of starting a free sewing class.  Instead of showing people how to blindly follow a sewing pattern, wouldn’t it be great if I could inspire them to come up with their own variations on a basic pattern?  You just have to learn to think like a crafter. 

Okay, so back to potholders. How do you make a potholder go from simple to spectacular?  Some techniques include patchwork, quilting, and appliqué.  In this post, I’ll just demonstrate the very basics of patchwork.  There are hundreds of books on patchwork out there, with more tutorials on the internet than you can ever use.

Two-Patch Patchwork Potholders

Step 1: Prewash the fabrics:

If you are using different types of materials for one potholder (like linen and cotton canvas), it is best to prewash all fabrics before cutting them.  Each fabric may shrink at a different rate, so if you don’t prewash, chances are you’ll end up with a wobbly, uneven potholder when you wash it once.  Just wash the fabrics with or without a bit of soap in the washing machine, and press it flat with an iron when it is about 90% dried.  Prewashing is also a good idea when you are using brightly coloured fabrics, to be combined with white or cream coloured fabric.  You don’t want the bright colors to come off and stain the white fabric after the potholder is finished… 

Step 2: Make a pattern (or not) and cut the patchwork pieces

You can make a pattern for each piece, or do without a pattern.  

(a)  How to make a paper pattern

(1) Copy the potholder pattern (say, 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ including a 3/8″ seam allowance around the square – see my previous tutorial) on a piece of paper.  

(2) Draw a line where you want the patchwork piecing to happen.  For each piece, copy the shape, and add 1/4″ seam allowance where the two pieces will be sewn together.  (See picture below).  That’s it! Cut the two pattern pieces out.

 (b) Two-patch without a paper pattern

If you have a rotary cutter / mat / quilting ruler setup, calculating the size for each patchwork piece and cutting it is simple.  Even if you don’t have the setup, here’s one fun way of making a two-patch with no pattern.  

For each fabric you want to use, cut one shape 8 1/2″ x 9″.  So you have two pieces of fabric of different patterns.  Stack them together neatly.  Along the 9″ side, draw a vertical line where you want the piecing to happen, and cut along the line, with the two pieces of fabric together.  Switch one piece from fabric 1, with the same-shaped piece from fabric 2 — and patch them together.  Repeat for the backside of the potholder.  That’s it – you should have two pieces of two-patch squares at 8 1/2″ square.

If you can do this for a two patch, three-patch is just as easy, using the same concept.  If you want to use more patchwork pieces and don’t have the patience to work out a pattern first (like me), just roughly cut each piece, start piecing them together, and in the end trim the whole thing down to 81/2″ square.  

Step 3: Sew the two pieces together

(1) Lay out the fabric pieces in the finished position.  (See photo below at the top right.)

(2) Where the pieces will be sewn together, stack the pieces together, with the right sides of the fabrics inside.  Pin.  (See photo below at the top right.)

(3) Sew the two pieces together at about 1/4″ from the raw edges of the pieces.  (See photo below at bottom left)

(4) Press both seams to one side. (See photo below at bottom right).  

You are done! Make the potholder, following Step 2 of the tutorial onwards.  When you are quilting over the whole thing at the very end, you should quilt just near the patchworke seam.  It looks good that way, and it makes the joined seam more durable.

 

Spectacular potholders?

Patchwork variations are endless, so it’s up to you to come up with a spectacular creation!  I made this nine-patch potholder (I actually made a pattern for this) just to give you an idea.

Next week, I’ll write about appliqués.  

But I’d LOVE you to go make a patchwork potholder now.  And please take a photo of your spectacular creation, and post it to our Flickr group called “Zakka Sewing with Piggledee” here.  

 

Circle skirt

 

 

Miss M and I had a skirt crisis the other day.  She was getting dressed for preschool — she put on a shirt, undies and tights, and then she realized that her favorite blue skirt was not there.  It was not there because it was in the wash.  She was not happy.  I took out all the other skirts so that she could pick one, but she refused.  She had to have that blue skirt, which was her favorite.  She cried.  I realised then that she needed a new favorite skirt in her wardrobe to avert this crisis in the future. 

So in the afternoon after our first zakka sewing class, I made not one but two new skirts for Miss M.  The pattern was a circle skirt from a Japanese craft book called Everyday Girl’s Clothes by Yuki Katakura (まいにち着る女の子の服).  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pattern had one seam pocket.  I had never made seam pockets before (or a circle skirt, for that matter), but it seemed simple enough.  I thought Miss M would probably want two pockets, not just one.

First I made a pink skirt, with white polka dots, with green floral fabric as the waist band and the pocket lining.  Very girly! It made me sad how much of the expensive fabric the pattern required, but it’s all right.  It was for my special girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only thing about this skirt I wasn’t sure about was that the fabric was medium-weight cotton linen blend.  It was a little on the heavy side for a circle skirt.

Since I had some time left before the kids returned from daycare, I made another one, this time in a more lightweight cotton linen fabric.  I used black and white check print for both the skirt body and the waist band.  I had doubts as to whether Miss M would wear a  black skirt, so I made the lining of the seam pockets bright pink – not that you can see much of it when wearing it.  It almost looks cuter turned inside out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Miss M’s verdict? She loved the black and white one.  She wore it for the next three days straight – so that was a big success.  The pink one though… she wouldn’t even try it on for a photo shoot… Why, why, why, I have no idea.  This just confirms my past experience that I could never predict know what my four year old would or would not like.  At least I got one out of two right.  Not too bad.