Tag Archives: gift

2016 Calendar Tea Towels

Linen/cotton fat quarters from Spoonflower

Linen/cotton fat quarters from Spoonflower

This is an easy project to welcome in the New Year. I bought these tea towels online from Spoonflower. They aren’t actually towels yet in this photo because the fabric edges are raw and fraying. If you click on this Spoonflower link you will see that there are an amazing number of design options and they are all so colorful and fun.


Untrimmed fabric

I made my fabrics into tea towels (described below), but my friend, Anne, made hers into adorable (and reversible) tote bags using this YouTube tutorial by Alanda Craft. The tutorial does not describe using a towel with a one way design such as these calendar towels. To have both sides of the bag facing “right side up”, you have to make a cut down the middle, reposition and sew back together.

Tote bags made from calendar fabric.

Tote bags made from calendar fabric.

All I had to do to make the towels was to trim the edges, iron 1/4″ towards the back once and then again, and then sew in place.

Edge stitch foot - Bernina foot #10

Edge stitch foot – Bernina foot #10

Sewing this edge was made easy with an edge stitch foot and my needle position changed slight to the right of center. As I sewed around all of the edges (from the back of the towel), I did add in a piece of twill tape to one corner to allow the towel to be hung over a hook if desired.

Twill tape in the corner

Twill tape in the corner makes the towel able to be hung on a hook or knob.


Due to the bulk of the folded edge, I did have trouble getting my sewing machine to grasp and move the towel forward as I began sewing. This is what the Bernina height compensation tool is for.

Presser foot slanted up in the front causes feed dogs to not be able to advance the fabric.

Presser foot slanted up in the front causes feed dogs to not be able to advance the fabric.

In this next photo I have inserted the tool under the back of the foot (behind the start of the towel edge) which has leveled the presser foot and enabled the feed dogs to move the fabric.

Height compensation tool in place.

Height compensation tool in place – presser foot now level.

Height compensation tool.

Height compensation tool.


This tool has a swivel holding the 3 layers together which allows you to use 1, 2 or all 3 of the layers to get different thicknesses depending on what you’re sewing. I used 2 layers for these towels.

Finished towels

Finished towels


This was a fun project and makes a lovely gift. This cotton/linen fabric is fairly stiff when you receive it, but a quick wash turns it into a nice soft towel. I finished the edges before washing to prevent a lot of fraying that would have happened in the washer and dryer.

Happy New Year!



Filed under Gifts, Purses and Bags, Tutorials

“Pockets to Go” by Terry Atkinson

Pockets to Go by Terry Atkinson

Pockets to Go by Terry Atkinson

Aren’t these adorable?  I made one and a friend made the other. The pattern is called “Pockets To Go” by Atkinson Designs.  They are sewing supply organizers and can hold all sorts of supplies.  I use mine all the time.



There are zippered pockets on two of the outer sides and handles on the other.  It all goes together very cleverly.

Sewing caddy side view.

Sewing caddy side view.

The side panels are cut for both the inside and outside. Pockets are added to all 4 inside panels. Zippered pockets are added to two of the outside panels.


The inside and outside panels are sewn together and the bottom added. The last step is to add binding around the top and before this is done, a panel of pel-tex is slipped in to give it sturdiness.

I gave the colorful one to my niece as a gift and made this linen one for myself.  Another one of my nieces, who doesn’t sew, thought it looked great to use to hold makeup.  Hmmm. . . . that’s a definite Christmas gift idea for this year!  I have 4 nieces and 3 daughters who I would love to sew something for as a holiday gift.

Linen and polka dot cotton fabric

Another friend made the longer skinnier version to use in her car to hold things when she travels.

Long caddy

She made it out of travel fabric.  Isn’t it great?  I may have to do the same for my car.

I really love this pattern but I would like to point out a few things.  There are a couple problems with the instructions which may or may not be a factor depending on your level of sewing expertise. You are instructed to make the inside pockets as shown “in Terry’s Tip on page 1” but Terry’s Tip is on page 4.  The more confusing error is on sewing on the binding along the sides and bottom of the caddy.  The directions and illustration had me trying to sew it on in such a way that I could not neatly cover the corner.  Once I realized that it needs to be done exactly like a quilt binding and I could achieve this by starting it on the opposite side of the raw seams, I was able to do it perfectly.


Filed under Gifts, Pattern review

Zakka Style project #13 – Patchwork Pot Holder

Finished front

Finished Back

This week’s project from the Zakka Style sew along is a patchwork potholder. Kim from Retro Mama designed these potholders for the book. She has also updated the instructions for putting on the binding which can be found here. This was a pretty quick and easy project to put together. The great thing about these is that they are large and thick enough to make a nice trivet for the table as well as protecting your hands from a hot dish.

I started the project by making a strip set. I had some strips that were already sewn together. Adding a strip of linen to those gave the potholder the look I wanted. After all, linen is the fun element of the Zakka Style projects!

Strips sewn, layered with Insul-Brite, batting, and backing and then trimmed into an 8 ” circle.

I layered 10″ squares of the strip set, a piece of Insul-Brite, a piece of cotton batting and then a piece of linen for the backing. A walking foot made quilting these together very easy. Once they were together I cut an 8 inch circle.

Bound edge of partial circles

2 partial circles were cut out of linen and 2 out of a cotton print (which ended up unseen on the inside). The flat edge was bound and then these were placed onto the back of the round piece and basted around the edge. Now it was ready for the binding.  I have avoided binding in linen on other Zakka projects due to the fraying of the fabric. However, since this binding HAD to be cut on the bias, fraying would not be a problem so I went ahead and used it.

Binding turned to the back. Ready for hand stitching.

Unfortunately, I didn’t read the updated binding instructions and just overlapped and sewed the edge of the binding which did not give as clean a finish as doing it the other way would have. I look forward to trying it again and perfecting the binding.

I’m happy with how this turned out and will be making some more for gifts.  Any sort of quilted design could be put on the front and it would be fun to try some different things to make a useful and pretty gift.


Filed under Gifts, Tutorials, Zakka Style sew along

Gift Notebook Cover

Front of closed notebook

I wanted to make a gift for the woman who cuts my hair.  She is a young and busy mother who I always enjoy seeing and who always makes me look good – or at least as good as what she has to work with can get! This notebook is very similar to the notebook I made for my college roommate.

Back of outside

These notebooks have a handy pen holder on the outside, a business card pocket on the inside front and a larger pocket on the inside back.

Open notebook – front

Open notebook – back

I did some free motion quilting practice on the notebook I made for myself and I use it all the time.













I hope that Heather likes hers.  I’m getting my hair cut tomorrow (and dyed – yikes! Wish me luck.)


Filed under Gifts, Notebook covers, Uncategorized

Personalized Fabric Notebook Cover

My roommate from college visited me from out of town last night.  Her birthday is tomorrow and I wanted to make her a gift.  Here is what I made for her:

Finished notebook cover with pen pocket

Finished notebook cover with pen pocket

I was inspired by this pouch that Lynne had at the DC Modern Quilt Guild meeting on Saturday.  She was given this as a swap item.  Pretty great, don’t you think?

Personalized pouch - front

Personalized pouch – front

Personalized pouch - back

Personalized pouch – back

Fabric notebook covers are my “go to” item if I need a quick gift.  I made a ton of them for Christmas gifts this past year.  My quilt guild, Needlechasers of Chevy Chase, has made many of these to sell in our boutique at our next quilt show and that is how I first learned to make them. It is an original design by Candy Glendening  as featured in “Quilting Arts Gifts” Holiday 2011/2012 magazine.  You can figure the measurements to fit any notebook.  I like to use a hard covered spiral notebook that I can buy at Staples for about $2.00.

Hardcover spiral notebook 9 1/2 x 6 inches

To personalize this gift, I put Karen’s name into a blank word document and played with some different fonts until I found one that I liked.  I then added the little “flourish” to each letter because I liked that kind of look on Lynne’s pouch.

Font is Bradley Hand ITC - embellished as shown

Font is Bradley Hand ITC – embellished as shown

I freehand copied it with washable blue pen onto my piece of linen fabric.

The embroidery was done with 3 strands of DMC floss and an outline stitch.

Embroidery of name done.

Embroidery of name done.

I added some lazy daisy flowers in green with pink french knot centers and then sewed some fabrics around it in sort of a log cabin style.  On the back I did a little bit more patchwork and  hand stitching.  I also did some top stitching with my sewing machine in pink as an easy accent (around the linen square on the back and “KAREN” on the front.)

Outside of notebook cover

Outside of notebook cover.
Ready to be sewn to inside.

The inside of this notebook cover has flaps to insert the notebook  into.  On the inside of the front flap is a little business card holder which I stamped a little design on.  The inside of the back flap has a (green) pocket.

Inside - ready for final sewing

Inside – ready for final sewing

Once the inside and outside pieces are all complete, the right sides are put together and stitched all around except for an opening in which to turn it.  The final step is edge stitching all around the edge to close the opening and finish it off nicely.

Finished Notebook cover - open to show front and back

Finished Notebook cover – open to show front and back

Karen loved it!  And I loved having her visit.  Happy Birthday tomorrow!


Filed under Gifts, Notebook covers, Uncategorized