Maker Mat SAL – Adding a Machine Handle Opening

Honestly, I’ve been wanting to do this tutorial for adding a handle opening to the Undercover Maker Mat for YEARS… but I feel like that’s basically the story of my life! For all who have been waiting, I appreciate your patience! Once great thing about this is that you can add it at any time to any mat – finished, or not. It’s sort of an afterthought, per say, and doesn’t affect anything in the pattern.

Most of my machines do not have handles, so this new little travel machine came into my life at just the right time! This process hurt my brain just a teeny bit, but in the end it’s really pretty easy! I’ve done my best to capture it in photos and I hope it will all be easy to follow (and I think it will once you’re actually doing the steps), but if you have any questions, never hesitate to contact me here or through social media.

This tutorial is for binding the handle opening, however, if you are familiar with facing, that technique will most certainly work for this!

Just one note, I cannot guarantee that this tutorial is detailed enough for complete beginner sewists who are working on this project. There are no complicated techniques, but you may need to familiarize yourself with basic binding techniques to understand some of the terminology and techniques used.

The first step in planning for your opening is to measure, then measure again, then measure about 17 more times. I’ll tell you it is PAINFUL to cut into your precious quilted body, so be sure to check yourself! I took so long doing it that my husband started to make fun of me, but it was worth it. Keep in mind how wide your mat is in relation to your machine and be sure to place your measuring device accordingly. You can see how mine is hanging off the edge a bit. You will need your opening to be just large enough for your handle to slide through. Mine ended up being a little less than 6″ by  3/4″. Your binding will only shrink the opening a very small amount, so you don’t need to take that into account. Also remember, you can always cut the opening larger, but you can’t make it smaller!

When you measure the placement of the opening around the height of the machine, be sure to leave some slack in your tape to account for the bulk of your quilted body. I used the bobbin winder pin on the top of my machine as a gauge. To double check my measurements,  I placed my mat body over my machine and placed the tape measure on my mat. I felt the bobbin winder pin through the mat and noted where the tape measurer hit it. I then removed the mat and placed the tape measure in the same spot on the bobbin winder pin and checked my measurements against the handle. Every machine will be different, so figure out what method works best for you in determining your measurements.

Once you have your measurements, mark them on the body of your mat with an erasable pen or your preferred method and then check your placement again by placing the mat over your machine and feeling through it as best you can to see if the handle is lining up. Then its time to cut! Terrifying, I know. You can do it!

Now will you bind the hole. It’s much like binding the outside a quilt, but you handle the corners differently since they are inside. We will be using a single fold binding method. Cut a piece of binding fabric 1.5″ wide with the length being the diameter of your rectangle plus about 4″.

First, you will mark 1/4″ all the way around the outside of your rectangle on the top/outside of your mat. You will see in my photo above that I have stitch lines 1/4″ around my rectangle. This is from my initial failed attempt at binding that I tore out :D! Since I could see the lines, I did not need to use another form of marking, but you can use an erasable pen or you use a basting stitch.

Next you will clip diagonally into all four corners just shy of your 1/4″ marks as show above. You will now sew the binding down.

You will begin sewing the binding down along one long edge of your rectangle. I did not get a photo before I started sewing, so we’ll use this photo above as a reference for placement. Leave a small tail of unsewn binding for finishing later.

You will place your binding right side down onto your mat body and sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance. When you get to a corner, continue sewing 1/4″ past the opening of your rectangle, which will be indicated by your 1/4″ marks around.

Here’s where it gets just a bit fussy. It’s not difficult, it just takes a bit of finagling under your machine. With your needle down, lift your presser foot and pull the short side of your rectangle opening toward your presser foot so it is in line with the seam you just sewed. The little snips you made in the corners will allow you to do this.

You will then continue sewing your binding strip in a straight line onto this side. If this seems confusing when reading it, I promise it will make sense once you’re sewing. You will continue sewing all the way around your opening, repeating this process on all four corners.

When you get back to where you started, press one end of your binding strip back about 1/4″ and then lay the other end on top of it, trimming it about 1/2″ to 3/4″ past the overlap. Pin in place and finish stitching the seam securely.

Now it’s time to press and turn the binding to the backside. Once complete, you can hand or machine stitch it in place, just as with an outer quilt binding.

Press your binding along the seam toward the hole opening to help it lay flat. You will now miter the corners working on one side at a time. First press one long edge inward and then miter one corner of a short edge as shown above, folding the outer point in to form a 45° angle and press.

Next, fold the other long edge in mitering the corner in the same way and press. Repeat with the other side of the opening.

You will then turn the binding through the opening to the underside of your mat and you will work on pressing and mitering that side. Don’t worry about your miters staying perfectly in place. Just make sure you gave them a good press before turning and they will fall back into place.

If you’re opening is small (and even if not), you may find the next steps a bit fussy, but just take it one step at at time, and you’ll get it done!

Working along one edge at a time, fold the binding strip onto itself, wrong sides together, up to the edge of your opening and press. Repeat for all four sides and feel free to use some glue to help keep it down!

Your piece will now look something like mine above once all sides are pressed. The Mariner cloth I am using was getting a bit frayed because of it’s loose weave, so I had a little trouble keeping things “crisp” for the photos.

To miter the corners on this side, first press one folded short edge down onto the mat down body. You will see above how the miters start to form with the one sides. Next press the long side down onto the mat, mitering the corner into itself as you can see above.

Repeat this step for all four corners, using pins or glue to help keep everything in place. It likely will not be perfect, your corners may be a little sloppy or your wrap around may be a bit uneven, but no one will see it, so don’t stress!

Finally, check that your miters are in place on the front of your mat and hand or machine stitch the binding in place. Now step back and admire your work as you look around for anything else you can cut a hole in!

I hope you have found this down & dirty tutorial helpful and useful! I’m so pleased with how it worked out on my mat and I hope you are, too.

I’m a bit behind schedule on the SAL, but I’ll be sharing some tips on the pocket panels in a couple days so stay tuned! Also, if you’re just joining in, you can find the free pattern and all the details here.

 

 

 

 

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Maker Mat SAL Sponsors & Prizes!

We’re just about through week one of the Undercover Maker Mat Sew Along and it’s time to talk prizes! Who doesn’t love the chance to score some sweet gifts while sewing up a super fun project?!

I have some really awesome and generous sponsors that have donated some SUPER FABULOUS prizes to give away during the sew along. Everyone who participates in the SAL and posts progress photos and/or finished pieces on social media with the hashtags #undercovermakermatsal2019 and #undercovermakermat will be eligible to win. All winners will be drawn at random at the end of sew along.

Here’s what’s up for grabs…

String & Story

HollyAnne of String & Story is offering a spot in the Spring session of her online Free Motion Quilting Academy course! YOU GUISE, that’s a $150 value! Isn’t that so sweet of her? You really need to check out this class. She has a session in progress right now, but you can sign up here to be notified about the next class.

Be sure to check out her Instagram posts to see the amazing work she does and what her students accomplish during the course. If you have always thought you could not learn to FMQ like a rockstar – THINK AGAIN! I guarantee HollyAnne can teach you! (And this is using any domestic machine!).

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Hummingbird Lane Fabrics

You like fabric, right?! Well, we have two chances to win some! First up, I have a bundle of POP! Fabric by Rashida Coleman Hale for Ruby Star from Lesley at Hummingbird Lane Fabrics! This collection is SO CUTE and Lesley carries all the best in modern fabric. She’s also super sweet and amazing to work if you need help or something specific. You can check out her shop here!

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STASH FABRICS

More fabric! Next we have a $25 gift certificate to Stash Fabrics! You know how much I love shopping with them! The shipping is lightening fast and the service can’t be beat! They ship all over the world and have just about every single thing you could ever need from fabric to notions to patterns. You can check out the online shop here!

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EYE CANDY QUILTS

Are you a Fierce Quilter? I’ll say I get a little fierce when I quilt because I hate it so much :D! My brows furrow and my tongue sticks out the side of my mouth, but I do love rocking this pin from Anneliese at Eye Candy Quilts. It lives on my jean jacket and I’ve got one for one of you to win! You can find them here in her Etsy shop and I recommend stocking up on some for gifts for all your quilty friends!

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MAKER PIN CO

If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen my super fun collaboration with Amanda at Maker Pin Co! She works with all your favorite designs to create THE CUTEST enamel pins based off quilting patterns and fabric designs, and she’s giving away a $20 shop credit! Here are a couple of my current favorites in her shop AND my Midnight Bite Bat Pin will be out soon, too and I can’t wait!! You can find all the current designs in her shop here!

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Sandy Oz Stitches

Don’t you love handmade gifts? I find that people don’t often make things for me since I make things myself, but there is nothing better than receiving a handmade gift from someone else! Sandy Osborne makes THE CUTEST little sewing accessories, pouches etc AND she knits!! So good. She made the little notion basket and button card shown below for the sew along and is also including a pack of 24ct gold straw needles and a $10 gift card to Super Buzzy! Isn’t that so sweet?! You can check out her Etsy shop here and follow all the adorable things she creates on instagram here!

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LILLYELLA STITCHERY

Hey, that’s me! Last, and I’m gonna say not least :D, I’m offering three winners my entire pattern library! If you don’t know how to paper piece – DON’T Worry! My Take Wing Mini pattern includes complete step by step instructions on how to foundation paper piece for beginners.

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I will have the next SAL post up in a couple days talking about how to add a handle hole to your Maker Mat body, then we’ll talk about pocket panels!

Maker Mat SAL Kickoff – Sizing your Mat & Tutorials for Beginners!

It’s time to kick off the 2019 Undercover Maker Mat Sew Along! I’m thrilled that so many of you are joining in. This is my favorite sew along because I love seeing all the personality that people put into their projects, plus it’s just awesome when I hear how much everyone loves having it and using it!

If you’re just tuning in, you can download the free Maker Mat pattern here. This sew along is open to everyone, there’s no sign up or obligation and anyone is free to join in at any time. I’ll be following the schedule outlined here sharing tips along the way, but you are welcome to sew at your own pace. There will be some amazing prizes up for grabs, too, and everyone who posts their progress photos and finished pieces on social media with the #undercovermakermatsal2019, #undercovermakermat and @lillyellastitchery will be eligible to win! Every post counts as an entry and winners will be drawn at random.

This week we’re pulling fabric and sewing up the main body of the mat. Today I’m going to talk about how to customize the size of the Maker Mat to fit your specific machine and then later this week I’ll be sharing a tutorial for adding a machine handle hole to the body. This is also something you can do to any finished mat if you’ve made one previously.

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SIZING YOUR MAT

The finished mat as it is designed in the pattern measures 20″ wide by 23″ long. This size was based off a couple machines I had on hand and what felt good to fit on a variety of tables. This size can be easily changed if you find that you need a larger or smaller mat to cover your machine or fit on your work surface. I just got this adorable little travel machine, so I’m making a tiny mat to fit it. Aside from determining the size of your main body, the only other change you’ll need to make to the pattern is adjusting the width of the pocket panel, which I will cover next week.

A couple things to consider when sizing your mat. If you plan to use it as a mat under your machine and also a cover, you will follow the steps below for measuring your machine, but you will also want to think about the table you’ll be on when using the mat under your machine. You may need 25″ or more to fully cover your machine, but may find this leaves too much mat on your table that you don’t have room for. If this is the case, perhaps consider a happy medium. The cover does not need to fully cover the machine to be functional.

To customize the size of your mat, start by measuring the width of your machine and deciding if you’d like any “extra”. The base of my machine measures 13″ across, but since the hand wheel sticks out a bit farther, I’m going to make my body 13.5″ wide.

Next you will measure up and over your machine. You will want to leave a little slack in your tape or add a bit to your measurement to account for a little bulk in the body once it’s quilted. I left some slack in my photos above, so I’m going to make my mat 24.5″ long. If you do not plan to also use your mat as a cover, then you do not need to worry about this measurement and can stick with the original 23″ length in the pattern, or measure your table and decide what size you like.

I’m a visual person so I like to make diagrams of my measurements. Above you will also see my handle hole measurements, but I’ll cover that in more detail later this week. So, to fit my machine, I’ll be making the main body of my Mat 13.5″ wide by 24.5″ long vs the 20″ x 23″ specified in the pattern. (I may choose to add a bit more to the width, just to have some extra pocket space, but I don’t want the sides too “floppy” when it’s covering the machine since I’ll be traveling with it.)

As I mentioned, if you change the width of your mat, you will need to equally add or subtract measurements when making the pocket panel pieces. I will cover this in more detail next week, but for those who like too work ahead, an easy way to do this is to simply add or subtract from one of the end pockets and keep the inner pocket dimensions the same, but you can, of course, adjust them any way you like.

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FABRIC PULL

This is a piece to have fun with! I usually go with a subtle background so that I can really have fun with the pocket panels, but I’m going to change things up this time. Since my mat will be smaller for this machine, I’m going to make my pockets a little simpler. I will use some prints and perhaps piece one panel of stripes, but I’m going to use that super fun focal print from Alison Glass Handiwork as the body with the bright blue mariner cloth binding.

This is pretty much how I make decisions on fabrics, I try to lay things out as best I can and just step back to take a look. This time when I stepped back, I tripped right over my space heater and conked my head, but I don’t really need ALL of my scalp anyway.

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TUTORIALS FOR BEGINNERS

If you’re a sewist, but new to quilting, don’t fear! The body of the Maker Mat is a great first project to dip your toes into the world of quilting!

To create the main body of the Maker Mat, you will need basic knowledge of how to layer your top, batting and backing and how to do the quilting stitches. This tutorial from Suzy Quilts covers all the basics. It applies to a large quilt, so working with your main mat body will simply be a smaller and simpler version! Straight line quilting is a great design for beginners, or a crosshatch is a always a nice option, too. I’m not sure its mentioned in the tutorial, but I love using a Herra Marker (a bone folder or scoring tool also works similarly) to mark my quilting lines, especially for something like a crosshatch. Here is a video on using a Herra Marker.

Another quilting technique you will need to know comes at the end of the body and that is binding. This is the little edge “wrap” that goes around the entire piece and seals everything up. Here is a helpful tutorial from Bluprint.

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So this week share photos of your fabric pulls and your main body progress and be sure to use #undercovermakermatsal2019, #undercovermakermat and @lillyellastitchery when posting! Tomorrow I’ll start sharing some of the amazing sponsors and prizes I have lined up!

Undercover Maker Mat SAL 2019

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It’s almost time! The 2019 Undercover Maker Mat Sew Along will kick off on October 7 and run thru October 23! Anyone is welcome to join in and sew along. There is no sign up or obligation and the sew along will be casual! You can download the free pattern here. I will be following the schedule below but you are welcome to sew at your own pace and join in any time!

There are many ways to customize this project and adjust it to your skill level, so please note that many specifics indicated in the schedule are optional. Before the SAL begins, I will share a blog post discussing some of these options, variations and customizations to help you plan. I will talk about sizing the mat to your specific machine and this year I will also be sharing a little tutorial on how to add a hole in the mat for a handle, if your machine has one.

UNDERCOVER MAKER MAT SAL SCHEDULE

October 7: Kick off! Make main body panel

October 11: Make paper pieced butterfly and selvedge pocket panels

October 14: Make full pocket panel, assemble to body

October 18: Make optional thread catcher

October 23: Share your finished projects!

In the meantime, you can download the pattern and start thinking about your fabric pull. You can also check out the hashtag #undercovermakermat on social media to see oodles of inspiration! If you’ll be joining in, I’d love for you to share the top graphic from the post and tag me @lillyellastitchery and use the hashtag #UndercoverMakerMatSAL2019!

~ Nicole

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Good Vibes Only Blog Tour

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When Shayla Wolf of Sassafras Lane showed me her newest collection, Good Vibes Only, I knew it would be absolutely perfect for some summertime Wrap and Go Cozies! If you’re new to my blog or a recent follower, you may not have seen this pattern before, while I know many others are so patiently waiting!

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One of my obsessions is vintage Pyrex casserole dishes, collecting them AND using them. I take them everywhere! Parties, potlucks, picnics. Decades ago, Pyrex created  a promotional fabric cozy that came in three patterns with three different dishes, and it was GENIUS! I have no idea why it didn’t become a staple, but after I saw one, I knew I had to recreate it – and improve upon it!

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So I began designing patterns for easy-to-sew cozies to fit all the vintage Pyrex shapes and sizes that are large enough to be worth wrapping. They’re insulated and have optional straps (which I’ll be adding to these later this week!) and can also be easily customized to other similarly shaped casserole dishes.

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I’ve been procrastinating on these patterns for YEARS (what the heck, Nicole!), but the first set of patterns in what will be a large series will be available later this month, so stay tuned if you’re interested! The first pattern sizes released will be for Pyrex 473, 474 and 475.

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When I saw the COMPLETELY PERFECT rainbow gradient of this line, I instantly knew how I’d use the collection. I created a bias stripe rainbow gradient between two cozies and used the awesome text prints for the side panels, insides, and will also use a black and white text for the handles.

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There are even four additional colored prints I didn’t use in my stripes (plus many more LV prints in white, gray and black), so you can really see how full and versatile this line is! Plus, it just makes you happy! Literally, nothing but GOOD VIBES here!

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You can see more amazing projects using Good Vibes Only during the three week Blog Tour (details here!) and in the Good Vibes Only lookbook. Also be sure to visit me on Instagram for a chance to win some Good Vibes Only fabric for yourself!

Here is the Blog Tour lineup for you to check out all the amazing makers and have more chances to win some fabric!

Monday, June 3rd: Shayla Wolf | Sassafras Lane Designs

Tuesday, June 4th: Emily Dennis | Quilty Love

Wednesday, June 5th: Nichole Vogelsinger | Wild Boho

Thursday, June 6th: Irene Sytema | Sugaridoo

Friday, June 7th: Sylvia Schaefer | Flying Parrot Quilts

Saturday, June 8th: Robin Long | Robin Ruth Design

Sunday, June 9th: Jessica VanDenburgh | Sew Many Creations

Monday, June 10th: Nicole Young | Lillyella

Tuesday, June 11th: Sherry Shish | Powered by Quilting

Wednesday, June 12th: Tara Curtis | Wefty Needle

Thursday, June 13th: Jo Westfoot | The Crafty Nomad

Friday, June 14th: Janet Nesbitt | One Sister Designs

Saturday, June 15th: Natalie Barnes | Beyond the Reef

Sunday, June 16th: Elisabeth Hardy | Elisabew Quilts

Monday, June 17th: Sarah Sharp | No Hats in the House

Tuesday, June 18th: Joanne Hart | Unicorn Harts

Wednesday, June 19th: Elise Baek | Elise & Emelie

Thursday, June 20th: Kaitlyn Howell | Knot and Thread Design

Friday, June 21st: Nicole Daksiewicz | Modern Handcraft

Saturday, June 22nd: Sarah Thomas | Sariditty

Sunday, June 23rd: Shayla Wolf | Recap

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Sonata Fabrics Showcase + Mini Maker Station

I first met Amy Sinibaldi right before her debut fabric line came out and I can’t believe she now has seven amazing collections under her belt! I always love playing with her new designs, so I was excited to join the Sonata Fabrics Showcase along with a handful of really really talented ladies!

Amy has always made THE cutest little, functional items for organization and storage, so I knew that this blog tour and her Sonata fabrics were perfect for the release of my Mini Maker Station pattern!

I had so much fun creating this pattern and am really proud of it. I can’t wait to see how you all customize your own maker stations! You can download the free pattern here. The hardware list is included in the pattern and kits are available in my Etsy shop here.

Shown above is the large 9″ version of the Maker Station using primarily the Ludwig color way of Sonata. That hot pink floral is TO DIE FOR!! The balance of lights, darks, focals, and blenders in this line is perfection. The touches of Navy and the red in the Beethoven color way make it so rich and striking.

If you’re seeing my Mini Maker Station pattern for the first time, it’s like an armchair caddy with a twist! There is a piece of thin sheet metal in the body and magnets sewn into the interchangeable accessories, including a small fabric basket and a pincushion, so that everything stays put! The optional scrap bag can also be used for additional storage. There is a smaller 7″ version of the maker station that will be included in the pattern.

I’ll be hosting a sew along starting in February and will post more details about that soon!

You can also use other magnetic accessories with the maker station, such as magnetic bowls, shown below. There is a lot of room for customization with this pattern and I hope you love it as much as I do! It’s perfect for any type of handcraft from sewing to cross stitch to embroidery and more.

I can’t wait for the sew along and to show you more beautiful Sonata fabrics as I sew up the smaller version of the pattern with you.

Stay tuned for more on the upcoming sew along and be sure to check out the rest of the Sonata Fabrics showcase with the hashtag #sonatashowcase on Instagram and in Amy’s feed!

p.s. Don’t miss the adorable Sonata strawberry pin collaboration that Amy did with Maker Pin Co. – check them out here!

Sew-A-Long Tutorials for Beginners

Hello, my Sew-A-Long friends! Today I’ll be sharing a few tutorial links for those who are joining in the Undercover Maker Mat SAL, but may not be familiar with basic quilting or paper piecing (which is an optional element!). There are a lot of step-by-step photos in the pattern and many basic techniques, but it does require basic knowledge of making a “quilt sandwich”, binding a quilt, and paper piecing , if you choose. If you haven’t viewed my Instagram stories, please pop over and take a look. I’m saving all the SAL stories in a highlight which you can access anytime from my main profile. You can also turn on notifications for my posts and/or my stories so you don’t miss anything. I shared a few tips and examples yesterday on how to simplify or customize your mat, so this can help you with the planning stage.

Onto the tutorials! If you’re new to quilting, you will need basic knowledge of how to layer your top, batting and backing for the main mat body (aka the “quilt sandwich”), and how to do the quilting stitches. This tutorial from Suzy Quilts covers all the basics. It applies to a large quilt, so working with your main mat body will simply be a smaller and simpler version! Straight line quilting is a great design for beginners, or a crosshatch is a always a nice option, too. I’m not sure its mentioned in the tutorial, but I love using a Herra Marker (a bone folder or scoring tool also works similarly) to mark my quilting lines, especially for something like a crosshatch. Here is a video on using a Herra Marker.

Another quilting technique you will need to know comes at the very end of the project, but it is binding. This is the little edge “wrap” that goes around the entire piece and seals everything up. Here is a helpful tutorial from Craftsy.

Lastly, we have paper piecing. If you’d like to create the butterfly pocket panel as shown in the pattern, but have never paper pieced before, don’t be intimidated! This is a great time to learn! Cassandra Madge did a wonderful two-part tutorial for beginners using my Butterfly Charm Blocks pattern and you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

As always, feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions along the way, and stay tuned for more helpful tips here and on Instagram!

Santa’s Chimney Basket

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I can’t remember what spurred this last minute idea, but OHEMMGEEE is this adorable or what?! I used my free Sturdy Basket Pattern to make a snow covered chimney to hold my Christmas cards. Now I need to make another to hold Santa!

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I used the brick print from Grafic fabric for the basket outer and lining and some faux sherpa for the “snow”. The sturdy fabric basket pattern (find it here) includes directions on making any size basket you wish, so you can customize your chimney, but I made mine 6.5″ wide x 6″ high x 3.5″ deep. In the photo below, I did put a little padding inside the bottom of the basket to make the cards sit a little higher. I didn’t want to make the basket shorter because I wanted to see enough brick.

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I made the basket as specified in the pattern, but I did not press the exposed top of the lining in half before folding it over the top of the basket , I just folded it over so the raw edge was exposed. It gets covered by the sherpa so it doesn’t matter. You really don’t even need to make the lining larger than the outer piece since it is covered. I did it because I wasn’t sure if I would fold the sherpa inside or wrap it on the outside just around the top.

To make the snow top, I cut a piece of the sherpa 20.5″ wide by 5″ high then simply wrapped it around the top of the basket and folded half to the inside. The backing of the sherpa clung to the brick fabric really nicely so I didn’t even need to secure it in place, but you could use some glue if desired. If you make your basket a different size, you’ll need to adjust the size of your sherpa cut. Simply add width x 2 + depth x 2. I added a half inch on top of this just to be safe.

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This project was so quick and fun. I definitely want to make some for gift giving next year! I’d love to see what you make! Please tag me on social media or use the hashtag #sturdyfabricbasket.

Happy Holidays, friends!
~ nikki

By the Light of Daylight {+ a 20% off coupon!}

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I recently did an internet search for “Essential Sewing Tools.” I knew what the results would be — pages of articles talking about scissors, cutting mats, rulers, and everything else one might expect. Some even included things such as masking tape in their list of “Everything a Beginner Needs!”, but what every article left out was the one essential tool that is so often overlooked, light.

Today I want to share with you more about my favorite essential light tools for creating from The Daylight Company and a special 20% off coupon code!

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Light has played a crucial role throughout my creative career as a graphic artist and photographer, and is equally important to me now as a sewing pattern designer and quilter. It’s a tool that I utilize every step of the way in my sewing and design process.

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My patterns begin with the basics, pencil and paper. I sketch out my subject matter in true-to-life form and then begin the steps of creating a usable sewing pattern with the aid of my absolute favorite tool, a light box. I place tracing paper on top of my sketch on the light box and begin creating an angular version of the subject, figuring out how to break it up into sections and where all the seams need to be. Once I am satisfied, I scan my design into the computer and finalize the pattern pieces in Adobe Illustrator.

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When I’m ready to sew up a sample, I once again turn to my light box. I first trace the lines of my pattern onto the back of the paper patterns and mark my numbers and fabrics in each segment. This is something I recommend to everyone! When you can see the pattern on the side where you are placing your fabric, it allows you to check your work as you go and helps prevent common errors such as cutting your fabric too small or missing segments of the pattern.

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I also use my light box to precut all my fabric before sewing. It is especially useful when fussy cutting, but also allows you to cut your pieces to the exact size and shape you need, eliminating waste and ensuring you don’t end up with pieces that are just a little too small once you sew them on. Oh, the horror of seam ripping when paper piecing!
I currently use the Wafer 2 Light Box by Daylight Company and it is amazing! It’s only 3/8” thick and weighs next to nothing. The 12.5” x17” surface area is large enough for most any task, but still small enough to travel with. The LED bulbs stay cool and are dimmable, my favorite feature! I also use it when doing appliqué, embroidery, and a variety of other crafts.

Once I’m ready to sew a sample, I rely on a different type of light, my sewing lamp. I bet that I’m not alone in getting at least a little (or a lot!) jealous when I see amazing, sun drenched spaces on HGTV or while scrolling through social media. We all long for such a space to create in, but let’s face it, how many of us actually get to roll out of bed, make a cup of coffee and spend all day sewing in the sunlight? I sure don’t!

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Even though sewing is my “day job”, my daylight hours are often filled with chores and business tasks that push my actual creating time well past dusk, not to mention when I’m pulling an all-nighter to complete a tight deadline. Even when I am able to sew during the day, I found the built-in lights on my older machines were never enough. I was left with horrible shadows in the throat, right where I needed to see the most. Some modern machines I have tried do have much better LED lights built in, but they still tend to provide only condensed light in a specific area. Sometimes I would use the flashlight of my phone and stand it against the front of my machine. I even tried wearing a headlamp!

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I now use the Daylight Slimline Table Lamp and it’s a tool that I don’t know how I lived without. I recently had a friend over for a sewing night and she called the Slimline “magical.” I have to agree! It provides wide, even coverage, and daylight color temperature all in a sleek and lightweight package. I can clamp the lamp to any table I am working on and easily move it to a different location when needed. I even take it with me when I travel. Sometimes I work at our dining room table when I want to watch a movie with my husband and I love that I can bring my Slimline with me and feel like I’m in my studio. The flexible long arm allows me to move the light source wherever I need it and the slim design ensures it is never in my way. The LED bulbs stay cool so I don’t have to worry about burning myself when I need to move the light or have to shed layers of clothing after working for a few hours. They also make a floor lamp version.

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Not only is the Slimline indispensable for sewing or cutting, but the true-to-life color of the bulbs allows me to select fabrics or match threads any time of the day or night, just as if I was working in the sunlight. I previously had to squeeze time into my day to pull fabrics for projects that I may work on later or to complete other detailed tasks, such as hand finishing, because I knew doing these things in artificial light would lead to horrible unmatched color choices or would be difficult to see clearly once the sun went down. These kinds of things were horrible for my time management and productivity, especially when facing a deadline.

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I’ll wrap this up with a statistic. Did you know that by age 50, a person requires ten times as much light to read or do equivalent tasks as a child would? By age 80, that increases to thirty times. So, if you’re one of the many people that didn’t think light was one of their most essential sewing tools, it’s time to turn the lights on.

I’m so excited to have paired up with Daylight to offer a 20% discount on any order from their website with code lillyella18. Pass this along to Santa or treat yourself, I GUARANTEE you (and your eyes!) will be thrilled with the investment!

Happy stitching!
~nicole

Cotton Cuts Mystery Quilt Blog Hop

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Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in a really fun Blog Hop for an awesome “block of the month” type quilt from Cotton Cuts called the Puzzle Mystery Quilt. This is seriously such a cool concept! if you haven’t heard of it before, this is how it works…

The club begins in February or July and runs for one year, with a new quilt theme each year. (And before I forget to mention it, sign ups for next years Mystery Quilt beginning in February start TODAY! Click here for all the details.)

The current Mystery Quilt theme that I was part of is Through the Garden Gate. When you sign up for the club, you choose a colorway and finished quilt size. The colorways/fabrics for the Spring Puzzle Mystery Quilt (PMQ) are so fun! There is always a variety of styles to choose from. Some of the upcoming spring choices include Panache by Rebecca Bryan, Fable by Rae Ritchie, Diving Board by Alison Glass and many more.

Each month you receive a packet of PRECUT fabric (the best part!) and directions on piecing that month’s blocks or block parts. The mystery aspect is that you have no idea how it will come together until the last month when you receive directions on how to piece all your parts together.

What I love most about this is how quick and easy it was. Because the fabrics come precut, you just sit down for about an hour of sewing and that month’s blocks are done. This is something I COULD ACTUALLY KEEP UP WITH! Right?!

#TeamZinnia (2)So, when you join the club, you make the entire quilt yourself, but to help spread the word and make an awesome quilt for Charity (which you can enter to win, read on!), Cotton Cuts asked a group of us to each make one month’s blocks. The colorway we worked on is the Aster colorway which is a mix of Carolyn Friedlander fabrics. Below you can also see the other colorways from the 2017 PMQ.

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Here is an example of what you receive each month, your precut fabrics and direction sheet. It was really easy to follow and took me about 45 minutes, if even, to sew all my parts.

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In the end, below are the November “blocks” I sewed up. I am so anxious to see how these all come together! Everyone who has participated has sent their parts back to Cotton Cuts for them to assemble the final quilt which will be raffled off to benefit Valley Industries.

You can read more about this cause and enter the quilt raffle here!

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As I mentioned in the beginning, sign ups for the 2018 Puzzle Mystery Quilt are now open! You can see all the colorways and learn more here. I’m really torn between the Dublin and Helinski colorways – which is your favorite??

You can check out the previous and upcoming clues through the Blog Hop here:

July – Sheila Christensen (www.mysteryquilter.com) with guest blogger Kim Moos
August – Yvonne Fuchs (www.quiltingjetgirl.com)
September – Teri Lucas (www.terificreations.com)
October – Wendy Welsh (www.wendysquiltsandmore.blogspot.com)
November – Nicole Young (www.lillyella.com)
December – Chris Dodsley (www.madebychrissied.blogspot.com)
January – Amy Smart (www.diaryofaquilter.com)
February – Sam Hunter (www.huntersdesignstudio.com)
March – Cheryl Sleboda (www.muppin.com)

Happy sewing, friends!
~ nicole