Maker Mat SAL: Pocket Panel Tips & Tutorials

Hello, Hello! If you are just joining the sew-a-long, please scroll down a few posts to find the kickoff and all the tips shared in previous posts or scroll to the bottom of this post for direct links.

So far we’ve worked on the main body of the mat and how to add a machine handle opening, and today I’m going to talk about the pocket panels. If you’re just getting started on your mat, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time!

Before you begin your pocket panels remember that if you changed the size of your main body, you will need to also adjust the size of the pocket panels! You can do this by changing the size of one pocket or adjusting all the pockets equally. Don’t forget to think about seam allowances when calculating cutting sizes.

One thing to note about the pocket panels is that there are SO many ways you can customize this entire project, but especially this part. You can adjust the sizes, add more or less pockets, you can piece them all with any block you love or you can eve use one solid cut of fabric to make it really quick and easy. Be sure to check out the #undercovermakermat hashtag on social media to see tons of creative inspiration!

pockets

Above you can see just a few variations from mats that I’ve made in the past. The top left follows the pattern as written, which the bottom left follows the same sizing and layout, but uses full cuts of fabric (rather than piecing) with cute fussy cuts! On the right, there is a little mix of both. I substituted my Love Story pattern block for the butterfly and then used solid fabric cuts for the other pockets with some added lace trim details.

First I’m going to share some tutorials and tips on creating the accent pocket panels which are the paper pieced butterfly and the selvedge pockets, then I’ll cover a bit more details on piecing the panels and trim options.

All the information you need to create the accent pocket pieces is included in the pattern (including a link to a tutorial on making the butterfly for beginner paper piecers), but I will go into a bit more detail here and include some additional tips and photos, as well as design variation ideas.

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PAPER PIECING TIPS

You can find the pattern for my Butterfly Charm Blocks here. All three butterfly designs are the same size and any can be used. The foundation paper piecing tutorial link included in the pattern is from Cassandra Madge and you can find it here. It was so sweet of her to use my pattern as the example for her tutorial!

Our methods of paper piecing are very similar, with just a few differences. I like to use the Add-A-Quarter Ruler, rather than a standard quilting ruler. It does the same job, but is just one of those tools that takes away some room for error. Another paper piecing tutorial I often direct people to is this video from Connecting Threads. You can see the Add-A-Quarter ruler being used.

paper piecing tips | lillyella stitchery

When I paper piece, especially small blocks, I like to use Foundation Paper. You can buy one from Carol Doaks or you can use any thin newsprint. Someone recently mentioned they found this pack from Dick Blick, and you can’t beat the price! I also apologize that I don’t remember who tagged me on that, please let me know if it was you! It is essentially just a thinner paper that creates less bulk and allows for easier removal. You can use any paper for paper piecing, but the thinner you can find, the easier it will make the process.

Another thing I ALWAYS do is to trace the pattern onto the back of the sheet. It does not have to be perfect because you will only be using it for reference, but it helps in a multitude of ways. I use a lightbox, but you can also use a window. Since this is the side where you will place your fabric, you can use these lines as a guide for cutting your fabric pieces. You can still use the printed side, but you have to work with your fabric upside down at that point, and I like to see the prints and placement.

After tracing and selecting fabrics, I also note my fabric selections or color accordingly on this side. Then I always know I’m placing the correct piece. These lines also help you as you sew to make sure a fabric cut will cover a segment. Place the fabric where you would for your next seam, but before sewing, hold the fabric approximately where your seam will be and fold the fabric over as you would when pressing it after sewing. You can then see if your piece is large enough to cover everything it needs to. You can then sew your seam with confidence, because unpicking a paper pieced seam is NO FUN!

Lastly, I find having these lines helps prevent you from missing a segment, which is something I see a lot in paper piecing. When you have the pattern lines on the side where you are placing fabric, you will notice if you’ve missed a piece. You still have to pay attention, but it’s definitely better than flying blind!

paper piecing tips | lillyella stitchery

In Cassandra’s tutorial, you will see her talking about adding some basting stitches to you sections to help when piecing them together. This is important and something I always do as well, however, I put my stitches in the seam allowance as you can see above in the left photo.

Another tip is that when trimming sections to the seam allowance after piecing, do not trim any sides that are on an outer edge (above right). This way you can trim your final block to size after it is completely pieced. It is not uncommon to lose a little bit in each seam, so this ensures you can have the correct sized block in the end, and also lets you trim the block to a slighty larger size, if desired.

After piecing sections, I always remove the paper from the seam allowance only before sewing sections together. This just helps with bulk and allows you to press a flatter seam before adding the next section. You can also see this in the above right photo.

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SELVEDGE POCKETS

For those who are new to sewing or do not know what a selvedge is, it is the finished edge on a bolt of fabric. There are finished edges on both sides along the width of the fabric, but only one will contain printing and this is the side I use on this project. I cut my selvedges off with about one half inch to one inch or so of the fabric print included, just to make sure I always have enough extra to work with them. The directions on how to work with the selvedges to create the pockets are included in the pattern.

selvedges

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VARIATIONS

Below are more variations from makes on Instagram to help inspire you!

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TRIM

This pattern uses trims or ribbons for securing the secondary pockets and hiding the raw edges, and also for creating the side ties when using it as a machine cover. Below are some trims from my collection that I’ve found at Joanns, Hobby Lobby and even Walmart. Anything between 1/4″ to 3/8″ width is best. If it is too small then you will have trouble enclosing the raw edge of the pocket, any thicker and you cut into your pocket space. Trims that are more solid are best to hide the raw edges, but some lacier style trims can work ok, too.

ribbons

If you don’t have any trims on hand, you can also use a thin bias binding strip instead. Start with a 1″ or 1.25″ cut strip, fold the raw edges into the center, then fold in half and press and use this as you would a piece of ribbon. You can also you another selvedge with the cut side pressed under. Lots of possibilities!

trims

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Undercover Maker Mat | lillyella stitchery

POCKET BINDING

I like the look of the binding on the pocket because I think it balances the piece nicely, but if you prefer, you can eliminate this step and instead attach the lining to the pocket panel just as you did on the small secondary pockets. Just lay your lining piece, RST, on top of your finished main pocket panel and sew across the top with a 1/4″ seam. Flip the lining to the back, press, and top stitch along the top edge. You can include the fusible fleece when you do this, add it after tucked up to the seam, or skip it all together and use some lightweight interfacing on one or both pieces instead.

pocket-binding

Above are a couple examples I saw on the #undercovermakermat hashtag on instagram that demonstrate this variation. If you have any questions about doing this instead of the binding, just let me know and I’m happy to help!

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Once your full pocket panel is complete, you will baste it to your mat body and bind the entire piece as covered in the pattern. BE SURE TO ADD YOUR SIDE TIES BEFORE BINDING! If you do not plan to use your mat as a cover, you can leave them off. I did forget to add them once and just had to unpick a little bit of my binding and tuck them in, which was not hard to do, so it’s not the end of the world if you forget, or even decide to add them later!

tie double

Just as with trim used to secure the secondary pockets, you can instead use a binding strip for your side ties, or even additional selvedges. If using a binding strip, simply top stitch along the folded edge to close it up. You can tie knots on the ends or stitch them closed.

cover

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Stay tuned next week for one more post talking about the thread catcher before we wrap things up on October 28!

ADDITIONAL POSTS:

Undercover Maker Mat Sew-a-long: All the details

PART ONE: Kickoff! Sizing your mat and tutorials for beginners

Sponsors and Prizes!

PART TWO: Adding a machine handle opening

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.

 

 

 

 

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!

Mini Maker Station SAL 2019 Kick Off!

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Good morning, friends! It’s time to kick off the 2019 Mini Maker Station Sew Along! I’m thrilled that so many of you have said you’re finally making the time to sew this up for yourself or for holiday gift. Sew Alongs always give me the motivation to create something that I’ve been wanting to.

If you haven’t downloaded the FREE pattern yet, you can find it here. This pattern requires some basic knowledge of sewing and quilting, but any beginner can tackle it! I’ll be including helpful tips, tutorial links, videos and more along the way for every step and I’m always happy to give personal assistance when I can. You can reach out to me anytime through social media or email.

This SAL will run three weeks, ending on October 4, but you are welcome to join in at any time and sew at your own pace. In today’s post I’m going to talk just a bit about selecting fabrics and go over some of the other materials you need. I’m also going to share some tutorial links on basic quilting and binding for those who may be new to quilting, and a couple tips about thread catcher placement. This week we’ll be working on the main body of the Maker Station and the thread catcher. Next Monday I’ll have a new blog post with some tips about creating the fabric basket and working with the magnets.

Share your progress photos on social media with the hashtags #minimakerstationSAL2019 and #minimakerstation to inspire and encourage others, and have a chance to win some fun prizes!

If you haven’t picked up a hardware or are waiting for yours to arrive, don’t worry! You can still begin your project as there is plenty you can do without it, especially during the first week. You can create the entire body and just wait to sew the last bit of binding down until you have the metal, and you can create the thread catcher. There is also quite a bit you can do on the pin cushion and basket next week before you need to add the magnets. You can find hardware kits in my Etsy shop here.

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FABRIC & MATERIALS

I want to quickly touch on why I don’t often include “fabric requirement” sections in my patterns, including this one. There are endless ways to layout and customize this project. I never want to lock someone into fabric placements by specifying what you should use where. One person may use three fabrics for the whole project, while another may use thirteen! Also, the cuts on a project like this are all small, so a fabric requirement list would simply be the same as the cutting instructions. The specific sizes of all the pieces you need for each part of the pattern are included at the beginning of each labeled section.

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Now, onto materials! If you have not already purchased a hardware kit or sourced your own materials, you can find more information about those materials needed here, including my sources.

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All fabrics used are standard quilting cotton. You could use some lightweight linens or blends, but thicker materials, such as canvas, may be too bulky for the pin cushion, basket and thread catcher, as they’re all pretty small. In addition to your fabrics, you also need a couple different interfacings. Sometimes these can be optional, as they are often used for added durability, but in this project they are required as they hold the magnets in place and create the basket.

The first is Pellon brand SF101, also known as ShapeFlex. You can find this at any fabric store or Walmart with a craft section. You can also order it online. This can be substituted with another featherweight or lightweight fusible interfacing if you wish, but the SF101 is my preference.

interfacing

The second interfacing you need is Pellon brand Peltex 71F, ultra firm single sided fusible interfacing. I do not recommend substituting this with anything else as it creates the main structure of your fabric basket. Be sure that you get the 71F and not the 70 (sew in) or 72 (double sided fusible). This interfacing is very thick, it should look and feel similar to a piece of cardboard. It should not fold without “creasing” itself. You can also find this interfacing at fabric stores, Walmart (or the like), or online. Next week I’ll share some helpful tips for keeping the basket edges nice and crisp!

walnut

For filling the pincushion, I like to use ground walnut shells because I love the weight and feel, especially with the square shape. It’s like an adorable little bean bag! I purchase mine at a local quit shop, but Plum Easy (the brand I get) also sells online here. If you’re making this for a gift, just avoid the shells if someone has a nut allergy! I have also used polyester stuffing in the cushion, which works perfectly fine!

The last little “extras” you need are some thin ribbon or trim and buttons to hang your thread catcher (which is optional!).

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CREATING THE BODY & THREAD CATCHER

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

To create the main body of the Maker Station, 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. You can see how this looks on my sample below. 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.

mmshome

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.

The body and thread catcher are fairly straight forward and the pattern includes detailed instructions and diagrams on creating these pieces, but if you have questions at any point, feel free to contact me.

DSC_1933 edit crop

When it’s time to sew the buttons for hanging your thread catcher, think about where you will be using your Maker Station. I prefer to hang my thread catcher on the side farthest away from me so my leg doesn’t hit it and it’s not in the way of my pockets, so this placement will vary if you place the station to your right or your left. Also keep in mind it’s “reversible” in a sense, you can place either set of pockets on the inside of your seat or the outside. I sew at least two buttons on my body, but you can sew four buttons (one on every outer edge) so you’re fully versatile!

As I mentioned, this little thread catcher is an optional piece, but I love it. If you don’t use it for scraps, you can use it for extra storage. It’s also a handy design to use elsewhere, like on your sewing machine!

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So those are all the basics for this week as we create our main body and thread catcher. I will be posting some photos of your projects on Instagram through the week, as well as sharing some of the SAL prizes, so I hope you follow along! Remember to use the tags #minimakerstationSAL2019 and #minimakerstation, and share with a friend!

Mini Maker Station SAL Kick Off!

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Good gravy, how is it February?! I still have a Christmas tree in my studio, but hopefully I can get it down this week :)! I’m SO SO excited to kick off the Mini Maker Station Sew Along (SAL) today! This pattern was in the works for SO long, because A) I’m slow, B) I’m busy, and C) it was a ton of computer work, which I loathe! However, it’s a pretty easy sew, even for beginners. If you haven’t downloaded the pattern, you can find it here.

This SAL will run for a bit over two weeks, ending on February 18. In today’s post I’m going to talk just a bit about selecting fabrics and go over some of the other materials you need. I’m also going to share some tutorial links on basic quilting and binding for those who may be new to quilting, and a couple tips about thread catcher placement. This week we’ll be working on the main body of the Maker Station and the thread catcher. Next Monday I’ll have a new blog post with some tips about creating the fabric basket and working with the magnets.

You are free to work at your own pace and in any order you’d like! Share your progress photos on social media with the hashtags #minimakerstationSAL and #minimakerstation to inspire and encourage others, and have a chance to win a couple fun prizes!

If you haven’t picked up a hardware or are waiting for yours to arrive, don’t worry! You can still begin your project as there is plenty you can do without it, especially during the first week. You can create the entire body and just wait to sew the last bit of binding down until you have the metal, and you can create the thread catcher. There is also quite a bit you can do on the pin cushion and basket next week before you need to add the magnets.

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FABRIC & MATERIALS

I want to quickly touch on why I don’t often include “fabric requirement” sections in my patterns, including this one. There are endless ways to layout and customize this project. I never want to lock someone into fabric placements by specifying what you should use where. One person may use three fabrics for the whole project, while another may use thirteen! Also, the cuts on a project like this are all small, so a fabric requirement list would simply be the same as the cutting instructions. The specific sizes of all the pieces you need for each part of the pattern are included at the beginning of each labeled section.

Now, onto materials! If you have not already purchased a hardware kit or sourced your own materials, you can find more information about those materials needed here, including my sources.

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All fabrics used are standard quilting cotton. You could use some lightweight linens or blends, but thicker materials, such as canvas, may be too bulky for the pin cushion, basket and thread catcher, as they’re all pretty small. In addition to your fabrics, you also need a couple different interfacings. Sometimes these can be optional, as they are often used for added durability, but in this project they are required as they hold the magnets in place and create the basket.

The first is Pellon brand SF101, also known as ShapeFlex. You can find this at any fabric store or Walmart with a craft section. You can also order it online. This can be substituted with another featherweight or lightweight fusible interfacing if you wish, but the SF101 is my preference.

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The second interfacing you need is Pellon brand Peltex 71F, ultra firm single sided fusible interfacing. I do not recommend substituting this with anything else as it creates the main structure of your fabric basket. Be sure that you get the 71F and not the 70 (sew in) or 72 (double sided fusible). This interfacing is very thick, it should look and feel similar to a piece of cardboard. It should not fold without “creasing” itself. You can also find this interfacing at fabric stores, Walmart (or the like), or online. Next week I’ll share some helpful tips for keeping the basket edges nice and crisp!

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For filling the pincushion, I like to use ground walnut shells because I love the weight and feel, especially with the square shape. It’s like an adorable little bean bag! I purchase mine at a local quit shop, but Plum Easy (the brand I get) also sells online here. If you’re making this for a gift, just avoid the shells if someone has a nut allergy! I have also used polyester stuffing in the cushion, which works perfectly fine!

The last little “extras” you need are some thin ribbon or trim and buttons to hang your thread catcher (which is optional!).

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CREATING THE BODY & THREAD CATCHER

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

To create the main body of the Maker Station, 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 thatt 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.

The body and thread catcher are fairly straight forward and the pattern includes detailed instructions and diagrams on creating these pieces, but if you have questions at any point, feel free to email me through my website or contact me on social media. I’m always happy to help!

When it’s time to sew the buttons for hanging your thread catcher, think about where you will be using your Maker Station. I prefer to hang my thread catcher on the side farthest away from me so my leg doesn’t hit it and it’s not in the way of my pockets, so this placement will vary if you place the station to your right or your left. Also keep in mind it’s “reversible” in a sense, you can place either set of pockets on the inside of your seat or the outside. I sew at least two buttons on my body, but you can sew four buttons (one on every outer edge) so you’re fully versatile!

As I mentioned, this little thread catcher is an optional piece, but I love it. If you don’t use it for scraps, you can use it for extra storage. It’s also a handy design to use elsewhere, like on your sewing machine!

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So those are all the basics for this week as we create our main body and thread catcher. I will be posting photos of my progress on Instagram through the week, so I hope you follow along! I’ll also be sharing the prizes.

Remember to use the tags #minimakerstationSAL and #minimakerstation, and share with a friend!

Maker Pin Co. Collaboration

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I was so excited when Amanda at Maker Pin Co. asked me to be her next collaborative artist! It was really hard to decide which of my paper piecing patterns to turn into a pin and I knew that two patterns I had in the works, a honey bee and a luna moth, would be super cute options, so I quickly finished them and we put four designs up for a vote. But, in the end, no one else could decide either so we produced all four and I just received the first batch. Aren’t they the cutest?!

We just opened up a second round of preorders through August 30, so if you’d like to snag one of these pins for yourself or as a gift or swap extra, pop over to Maker Pin Co. here!

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If you haven’t heard of Maker Pin Co. yet, let me introduce you! Amanda, formerly of Stash Builder Box, recently began this new adventure. She works with different artists to create enamel pins using their designs and, just like with Stash Builder Box, maker Pin Co. is all about helping those in need with $1 from each pin sale being donated to a charity of the artist’s choice.

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The charity I chose is the Pollinator Partnership. Founded in 1997, the Pollinator Partnership is the largest nonprofit in the world committed to protecting pollinators and their ecosystems and promoting conservation efforts. The charity works throughout North America and globally to safeguard birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles and other pollinators.

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We donated $280 so far from the first round of preorders and I’m hoping we can more than double that! What do you think?

The Bee pin measures 1.5″ wide and the rest measure 1.25″, making them perfect for jacket lapels, hats, bags, pouches or as push pins on bulletin boards!

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If you don’t follow me on social media, I’ve been a little behind on blogging lately (summer is so busy!) and you may be wondering about the Bee and Luna Moth patterns. They are new and coming soon! I typically don’t share my new designs until I’ve sewn them up myself, but I really wanted to include them in the pin designs, and am so glad I did!

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My goal is to have the Bee pattern, named Honey Maker, out in October or November, with the Luna Moth (Moon Dancer) released shortly after, but likely early in the new year. I hope you’re as excited about them as I am!

Thanks for stopping by today! Remember, pin preorders are only open through August 30, so head over there now and support our pollinators! Be sure to check out all the other awesome collaborative designs while you’re there, too!

~ nicole

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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

‘lil monsters treat bags

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Fall is in the air and Halloween is right around the corner! I usually don’t have any ‘lil monsters in my life, but since one of my besties happened to be in town for an extended visit, I couldn’t resist whipping up some new treat bags for her littles.

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I used the midnight bite treat bag tutorial that I shared last year (find the free pattern here) and some ‘lil monsters fabric from cotton + steel, which was absolutely perfect. This line has a little more of a playful feel to it and I was able to pull prints and colors to make both an older boy and a little girl equally happy! Also, our Aurifil Sariella Thread Collection had just the right colors I needed for yet another project! #win

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I used solid pieces for the top panel, instead of the pieced bat as in the original, making this project really quick. I used a spider pom pom trim on one and metallic skulls on the other, both of which I found at Joann’s.

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I hope this inspires you to whip up some treat bags for the ‘lil monsters in your life! I’d love to see what you make. Tag your pics on social media with #midnightbitetreatbag or email me! Happy Haunting!

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Blithe Fabrics Blog Tour

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I first got to play with Katarina Roccella’s newest line, Blithe,  when I made my Bias Weave pillow for the Lookbook last fall. It was love at first sight before I even had the fabric, but you just cannot help but fall head over heels in love once you start piecing it together. Something about the palette and the way it plays with the Art Gallery Fabrics denims just melts your soul. I had a few bits and pieces left from my first project and knew exactly what to make for my stop on the Blog Tour.

I see cathedral windows as a quilty bucket list item, you know? I’ve always loved them (even before I was quilting), and recently watched a friend make a Christmas pillow and it really sparked my fire. It was time. I spent hours looking at and trying various methods and tutorials and decided that the Faux Cathedral Window tutorial by Diary of a Quilt Maven was the way to go for me. The method is pretty much the same as the Missouri Star easy cathedral windows tutorial as well, in case you prefer it in video form.

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What I liked most about this method was two things – first, it used small pieces of fabric, and that was all I had, and second, it felt very precise to me. Being a perfectionist, this is key. It’s also super easy to adjust the size of your windows to anything you wish and to create any shape piece you wish. I won’t walk you through the steps, because that is what the tutorial is for, but below are a few progress photos that may help demonstrate how I translated the tutorial into my finished pillow. Please excuse the bad lighting, it’s been a “work all night” kind of month! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below or send me an email anytime.

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The solid fabric I used along with Blithe on my pillow is solid smooth Art Gallery Fabrics denim in Cool Foliage. It is absolutely perfect with this line and always a dream to work with. I made my window foundation pieces 3″ to start, versus 2.5″ as in the original tutorial, and I pieced 8 units across and four units down to create the window panel. I chose to use the text print inside the petals and the denim for the petal edges, but I also really love the look when these two elements are the same fabric.

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After the full window panel was complete, I pieced on the top and bottom strips that included a 1″ strip of the text print to help carry the design over, and then a 3″ strip of denim. I kept the back simple to showcase the beautiful owl print, but I think it would be really lovely to make a second window panel so the effect wraps all the way around the pillow. The finished pillow measures 20″ wide by about 18″ tall.

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The end result was exactly as I envisioned and there was nothing I did not like about the method I used to make it. l definitely be using it again and may actually have a cathedral window obsession after this experience. I already have two more projects planned!

Now that I have these two gorgeous pillows, I guess it’s time to make a bed quilt! It won’t be cathedral windows. I love them, but not that much 🙂

Be sure to check out all the other *amazing* projects in the blog tour by visiting Katarina’s Instagram feed and through the hashtag #blithefabricsblogtour!

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