Staff Blog - Part 4

Reading List

Each month, we highlight the books we’re reading in the office. January is the month to make crafting resolutions and be inspired and renewed in your creativity! These books will help you reach a sewing goal, learn a new skill, or just take more time to be creative!


The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity

By Carrie Bloomston for C&T Publishing

Ignite your inner creative spark with the 30 engaging exercises, fun activities, inspirational images, and motivating ideas in this book. Learn what your Little Spark of creative passion looks like, how to capture it, and how to make room for it in your life. Use it as a month-long creative roadmap or just dip into the exercises as your time and inclination allow. Either way, you will change your life.

Buy this book here.



Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners and Those Who Think They Can’t

By Molly Hanson for Martingale

Been dragging your feet on learning to machine-quilt? This is the year! Learn to free-motion quilt on your home sewing machine. Try 10 different quilting designs, including stippling variations, pebbles, square meander, and swirls. Then master the fundamentals of free-motion quilting on manageable fat-quarter-sized fabric pieces and turn the pieces into projects you’ll love.

Buy this book here.



Savor Each Stitch: Studio Quilting with Mindful Design

By Carolyn Friedlander for Lucky Spool Media

Explore how selecting materials combined with playing with the design can help you slow down and enjoy the process of quilting. This book contains eight quilts each with a multitude of color way options. Projects range from table runners to full-size quilts each encouraging readers to play with design possibilities to create unique quilts of their own. Hand quilting, needle-turn appliqué, thoughtful design choices, and experimentation replace the fast and easy counterparts found in many pattern books.

Buy this book here.



Quilting the New Classics: 20 Inspired Quilt Projects

By Michele Muska for Sixth & Spring Books

No matter what their style, all quilters draw inspiration and creative vision from quilts of the past. This book reinterprets 10 traditional quilt patterns into two gorgeous designs — one a traditional interpretation, the other modern. Along the way, it also presents galleries of quilts both past and present, demonstrating how quilters can use visual inspiration to transform traditional patterns into unique quilt designs.

Buy this book here.




Sewing to Sell: How to Sell Locally & Online

By Virginia Lindsay for C&T Publishing

If starting a crafting business was on your to-do list this year, this book is a must-have! This practical guide from professional sewist Virginia Lindsay includes everything you need to know to start sewing for profit. From  creating a product line to identifying customers, pricing and selling your work, marketing yourself, handling the business and legal side of sewing and more, this book gives you all the tool to start making money from your passion. And that’s not all! You also get 16 projects that you can start sewing and selling right now.

Buy this book here.


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Perfect Your Skills: Adding Labels


Preserve the heritage of your quilts for future generations while expressing your creativity with labels.


Here are some ideas for what to include on the label:

  • who made the quilt
  • the quilt pattern name
  • date and place where it was completed.
  • whom the quilt was given to
  • the occasion, such as a graduation, retirement, or anniversary, that prompted the making of the quilt
  • care instructions


Here are some ideas for making a quilt label your own:

  • Draw or embroider the words and add embellishments, such as vines, flowers, or French knots.
  • Incorporate one or more extra blocks from the quilt top into the label.
  • For a framed finish, bind the label edges like a mini quilt. Sew leftover binding from the quilt around the label edges, then turn the binding over the edge to the wrong side. Hand-stitch the bound label to the backing, taking care not to stitch through to the top.
  • To ensure a label can’t easily be removed from the quilt, stitch the label to the backing fabric and quilt through it.
Here are 8 tips for writing on fabric:
1. Choose a smooth-surface, 100%-cotton fabric. Permanent ink pens perform better on all-cotton fabrics than on blends.

2. Select fabric in a color that allows the ink to show. Avoid white-on-white prints because the pattern is painted on the fabric rather than dyed into it.

3. Prewash your fabric (cotton fabrics usually contain sizing, which acts as a barrier to ink penetration).

4. Purchase pens that have permanent ink and are made for use on fabric. A fine point (size 01, .25 millimeter) writes delicately and is less likely to bleed as it writes. Lines can be made thicker by going over them more than once. For larger letters or numbers, a size 05 (.45 millimeter) pen works well.

5. Test the pen on a fabric sample, then follow the manufacturer’s directions for setting the ink. Wait 24 hours for the ink to set, then wash the sample as you would the quilt. The extra time it takes to run such a test will pay off in years of durability.

6. If you don’t care to use your handwriting or just want to ensure nicely spaced letters, type your words using computer software. Adjust the size and spacing to fit your label size; space out letters a little more than normal to allow for the width of the marker tip. Print out the words onto paper and trace.

7. Practice on fabric scraps first. Write slowly and with a lighter touch than you would normally use when writing on paper. This allows time for the ink to flow into the fabric and lets you control the letters.

8. Stabilize the fabric and create guidelines for words with freezer paper. To do so, cut a piece of freezer paper bigger than the label. Use a ruler and a thick black marker to draw evenly spaced lines on the freezer paper’s dull side. Press the shiny side of the freezer paper to the fabric’s wrong side with a hot dry iron. After marking on the fabric, peel off the freezer-paper guide.



Printing By Computer

1. To print a quilt label directly onto fabric using your computer, look for printer fabric sheets, which feed into an ink jet printer, in fabric and quilt stores. Or prepare your own fabric using a fixative, such as Bubble Jet Set 2000, to ensure the printing will be permanent.

2. First print the label on paper to ensure the design and words appear as desired and there is room for seam allowances. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for printing, peeling off the paper backing, and setting, then trim the label to the desired size.

3. To create a custom label design, use word processing, desktop publishing, scrapbooking, or label-making software to combine text, photos, and clip art.


Tracing By Hand

1. Make sure the design you want to trace is dark enough to show through your fabric, or locate a light box or sunny window on which to work.

2. Lay a piece of fabric over a paper printout of the label. With masking tape, anchor the fabric and the paper to your writing surface so they won’t shift.

3. Using a fabric marking pen, trace slowly, drawing a steady line. Darken the lines by drawing over them again, or add color with permanent-ink pens or brushes.


Make It Tonight: Quick-Sew Santa Sacks

Fabrics: Retro Christmas collection by Cynthia Frenette and Remix Metallic collection by Ann Kelle both forRobert Kaufman Fabrics


Fill this make-it-in-minutes Santa Sack with real gifts for under the tree. Not only is this great as a toy/gift bag, it’s the right size to use as a pillowcase or a laundry bag. The Elf Sack is for a smaller stash of treasures (all elves know great things come in small packages). This project is courtesy of our sewing blog, Visit daily for new sewing projects and easy home decor.



Materials for Santa Sack:

  • 1 yard cotton print
  • 1-1/3 yards 7/8″-wide polyester ribbon
  • Water-soluble marking pen


Santa Sack finished size: 30×20″ (fits a standard-size bed pillow)


Materials for Elf Sack:

  • 1 yard cotton print
  • 1-1/3 yards 7/8″-wide polyester ribbon
  • Water-soluble marking pen

Elf Sack finished size: 15×22-1/2″

*Yardages and cutting instructions are based on 42″ of usable fabric width. Measurements include 1/2″ seam allowances. Sew with wrong (unprinted) sides together.



Cut Fabric for Santa Sack:

From cotton print, cut:

  • 1—35-1/2×41″ rectangle


Cut Fabric for Elf Sack:

From cotton print, cut:

  • 1—28×31″ rectangle




Assemble the Sack:


1. Using water-soluble pen, make marks on one long edge of rectangle 7-1/2″ from top edge, 8-1/2″ from top edge, and 1/2″ above bottom edge.


2. With the wrong sides together, fold the Santa Sack rectangle in half to make a 35-1/2×20-1/2″ rectangle. (Fold the Elf Sack rectangle in half to make a 28×15-1/2″ rectangle.) With markings facing up, pin long edges together and across short end at bottom of rectangle.


3. Sew along pinned edges using a 1/2” seam allowance. When you reach the dot marked 7-1/2″ from top edge, stop stitching and backstitch. Cut threads. Resume stitching (beginning with a backstitch) at marked 8-1/2″ dot, leaving a 1″ gap in stitching. The gap in the seam will form the opening for the ribbon casing.

4. Continue sewing along long edge. At bottom corner stop with needle down in the fabric when you reach the dot 1/2″ from bottom. Lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric and continue sewing across the bottom of the bag.


5. Press side seam allowance open.


6. Turn under top 5″ of bag to inside; press.

7. Open up pressed edge. Press under cut edge 1/2″ for hem


8. Refold to inside at 5″ mark with 1/2″ edges still turned under; pin.


9. Sew bag top 4-1/4″ from top edge to secure folded hem. Make sure you’re not sewing the bag shut. TIP: Use a masking tape strip to mark 4-1/4″ line as a guide for even stitching.


10.  Turn bag right side out; press flat.


11.  Stitch two more rows 2-1/2″ and 3-1/2″ from top edge. The opening in the seam should fall between these two rows to make the ribbon casing.


12.  Using a large safety pin at one end of the ribbon length, thread ribbon through the casing opening. Keep ribbon as flat as possible as you pull it through stitched casing and bring it back out through opening to make drawstring.


13.  To prevent drawstring from being pulled out accidentally, pull ends through casing so both ribbon ends are sticking out evenly; use the large safety pin to pin ends together. Machine-stitch through the middle of the casing (opposite the opening) to secure the drawstring in place.


Fabric: Spot On collection by Robert Kaufman Fabrics

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We Heart It, It’s Free

Once a month, we highlight our favorite free quilt and sewing patterns around the web!


Festive Fabric Folding by Sewn Into the Fabric

Give the gift of jelly rolls this year! See these easy tutorials for folding 2-1/2″-wide fabrics strips into fun and festive shapes that are perfect for giving!

Click here to get the free pattern.


Handmade Felt Gift Tags and Ornaments by Diary of a Quilter for Skip To My Lou

Work with cheap crafts felt to create beautiful and fun gift tags and ornaments! Embellish with a little stitching for an easy way to add a handmade touch to your presents!

Click here to get the free pattern.



Trim-Tied Gift Bag from A Quilter’s Table

Choose a fat quarter of your fave holiday fabric and some cute trim. That’s seriously all you need to make this cute gift bag!

Click here to get the free pattern.



Ruffly Trees from Bonnie at Riley Blake Designs

These simple trees are adorable for a centerpiece and so fun to make! It’s perfect for using leftover strips of Christmas fabric.

Click here to get the free pattern.


Toasty Rice Hand Warmers with Lavender by V and Co.

They’re cute, they’re quick, and they’re perfect for cold winters! Make them as gifts for everyone on your list — or yourself!

Click here to get the free pattern.


Christmas Tree Table Napkins by Candice Ayala of Regal Appeal for Michael Miller Fabrics

They’re DIY fabric napkins that are folded to look like Christmas trees (which is pretty much the cutest thing ever!). They’re perfect for hostess gifts or to set a festive table!

Click here to get the free pattern.

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Trend Talk: Watercolors

Every month, we highlight a trend in quilting and show you how you can add this hip style to your projects!

Watercolor-look and painterly fabrics are emerging in many different fabric lines. Providing anything from a bold pop of color to a calming ombre brushstroke, these fabrics look great as blenders or the main focus!



Watercolor-look fabric for your shopping list (in order going clockwise):

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