QuiltCon Block Challenge

Have you followed the QuiltCon Block Challenge?

The assignment is to create a modern quilt block inspired by the colors of the QuiltCon logo. QuiltCon is the inaugural modern quilting conference of The Modern Quilt Guild, to be held in Austin, Texas this February 2013! Here are just a few of the stunning blocks in the Flickr pool.

SBAMQG QuiltCon blocks July Meeting
Flickr/capitolaquilter (SBA Modern Quilt Guild entries)

QuiltCon Block

Fabric stack and quiltcon challenge

QuiltCon block

Elephant Crossing



The 20+ winning blocks selected by Elizabeth Hartman will be included in a quilt to be raffled off to one lucky winner, and the other blocks will be made into charity quilts. Very inspiring! The deadline for entries is August 15, so there’s still time to design your QuiltCon block.

QuiltCon happens February 21-24, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Conference registration opens August 30, 2012, and modern quilters are welcome to submit quilt entries to the show between August 1 and November 30, 2012.

Is anyone going to QuiltCon? Are you making a block for the QuiltCon Block Challenge?

Giveaway! Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quilters

I recently got the chance to review a copy of the book Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quilters (Lark Crafts). The book is written by four members of the Fat Quarterly e-zine team, Katy Jones, Brioni Greenberg, Tacha Bruecher and John Q. Adams, and includes patterns for 60 quilt blocks and 12 complete projects ranging from quilts to home decor.

Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quilters contents

What makes this book unique is that quilt blocks and projects are broken down by shape, starting at the very basic squares and rectangles blocks and progressing through circles, triangles, stars, polygons and diamonds. Once you’ve conquered basic patchwork and the more beginner-friendly “shapes,” you can use those skills to build up to more advanced blocks which use techniques like applique and paper piecing.

Star Block Circles Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quilters

One of my favorite blocks in the book is the clever “Star Pinwheel,” which uses fusible web to adhere sliced stars to half-square triangles for a really dynamic block with positive and negative space. Even if you don’t quilt, this would be a great accent to clothing for kids or adults.

Quilt Circles Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quilters

The “Dream Garden Diamonds Quilt” uses bold piecing and modern fabric choices, for a clean and fresh look! Overall, I think this book would be a welcome addition to any quilter’s library, because the blocks range from beginner to advanced. Some of the paper-pieced patterns are really unique and 60 blocks can be mixed and matched for a sampler quilt or repeated over multiple rows and columns for a DIY patchwork quilt.

My Project

I decided to make a “Bowties & Blooms” quilt blocks from the book in the colors yellow, aqua and gray, which I’m collecting for a modern sampler quilt. The block finishes as 12.5″ square, and stitches up pretty quickly! You can make this block with the free pattern excerpted with permission from Lark Crafts.

Bowties Blooms Quilt Block

Free block patterns from the book:

Bowties + Blooms (pictured)

Courtyard Garden Block

Pentagon Flower Block + template



Would you like to win a copy of this book? Lark Crafts will send a copy to one lucky Craft Buds reader. Enter to win by completing the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Shorten a Belt


I recently bought a dress and thought, “This would look better with a belt.” The high waistline meant none of my current belts would fit (without a long flap hanging off), so I found a faux leather one for $1 at Goodwill and set out to alter it to fit an empire waist dress. Here’s how I did it.

With non-fabric scissors (so you don’t dull out your good shears), snip into the back of the leather holding the buckle.

Cut completely across, then snip off the excess leather tab as pictured.

Now use your scissors to cut open the remaining flap and release the buckle. Snip through the thread only, not the leather belt.

This is what your belt should look like disassembled.

Use your scissors to widen the hole for the belt prong. I wanted to shorten my belt by about two inches, so I widened the hole by two inches.

With the belt buckle positioned underneath the belt, slip the prong only through your newly created hole to the front side.

Pull the belt buckle through until the prong catches on the end of the long hole you cut earlier. Fold back the end of the belt and hold together with your fingers.

Temporarily hold together the belt ends with the buckle sandwiched between. The tiny leather loop should also catch just inside of the folded leather back. Before sewing, test out your belt to see if you have an ideal fit.

Take your belt to the sewing machine. I removed my presser foot to sew through this thick leather material. Warning: Take extreme caution when sewing without a presser foot, because your fingers can easily slip beneath the needle without the extra protection of the presser foot.

To move the leather through the sewing machine without breaking your needle, turn the sewing machine’s knob with your hand instead of using the foot pedal to create a slow and steady stitch. With matching thread, slowly stitch through both layers to attach the end of your leather flap to the belt. The leather loop should be positioned just inside your stitch line. I like to sew this step with the belt face up for a clean stitch line.

Flip your belt and machine stitch a line across both layers just beneath the buckle. Again, slowly stitch by turning the sewing machine knob with your hand, and trap the buckle inside your stitch line.

Here is the back view of the completed belt. You can see that both the small leather loop and the metal buckle are trapped inside the newly secured and stitched fold. It’s now ready to wear!

Review: Improv Sewing + Giveaway

Improv Sewing book cover

Improv Sewing: A Freeform Approach to Creative Techniques is a new book from Storey Publishing filled with “101 fast, fun and fearless projects” to sew and love. The sheer number of projects is enough to get excited over, but the variety of techniques (from upcycling to reverse applique) is a huge bonus.

Improv Sewing book table of contents

Authors Nicole Blum and Debra Immergut show off 101 sewing projects in the same style of those on their blog that are suited for beginners and intermediate sewists. The freestyle approach to sewing includes appliqued and stitched motifs, based on simple designs, several of which require no pattern pieces. Many also feature recycled and upcycled materials. Projects in the book include embellished dresses, tunics, scarves, skirts, accessories, pillows, curtains and more.

Improv Sewing ruffled dress

The “Ruffled Dressy Dress” is a cute and comfy dress pattern embellished with texture, but there are several variations on this concept, including a simple two-piece shift dress. With clothing for women, men and kids, the book offers a diverse variety of patterns.

Improv Sewing rainbow mobile

Feeling the need for some home decor? The “All-Weather Applique Mobile” pairs bright fabrics with whimsical shapes and machine embroidery, for a darling project that would suit a nursery or creative space.

Improv Sewing fused plastic wallet

The authors of Improv Sewing have a definite bent toward upcycling, and many of their projects show how to use free or inexpensive materials in a new way. This “Fused Plastic Wallet” has decorative stitching and is sized perfectly to slip your cash and a few credit cards inside.

Improv Sewing Reverse Applique Tee

This men’s reverse-applique tee is simple and stylish, with an organic design embellished on the lower front of the shirt. Kids and beginning sewists can learn this technique of reverse applique and hand-stitching to make clothing, accessories and home decor.

Free Projects

Storey Publishing was gracious to share two free projects from the book, including the:

Reverse applique t-shirt

Reverse applique ottoman cover


Would you like to win a copy of Improv Sewing? Just leave a comment on this post to be entered to win. We’ll choose one random winner on Wednesday, July 4, 2012. Check out the rest of the Improv Sewing blog tour at:

June 29:
July 10:

Congrats to our giveaway winner, commenter #52 Fenna, who said: “Cool book! I like upcycling stuff–it’s a great way to re-use!”

Summer Crafts Linky Party!

Have you started crafting for summertime yet? Whether you are crafting with kids or creating for yourself, the sunshines brings out all kinds of fun possibilities for crafters.

We thought you might need some inspiration for summertime crafting, so we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite projects, and we’d like to invite you to link up your summer craft projects! We’ll close the linky party at the end of June.

11 Great Crafts to Make with Paper Plates, perfect for keeping the kids entertained on the cheap!

summer list jpgIdeas for summer fun from Ellison Lane Quilts, including laundry tub pirate ships and the classic lemonade stand. Don’t forget to link up to her Summer Sewing Contest!

We love these 10 Free Swimwear Sewing Patterns, including this T-Shirt Bikini made from upcycled materials.

Lacey Summer Shorts

Make some lacey summer shorts and 10 Summer Fun Beachwear Patterns for summertime lounging on the sand.

Summer Bag Patterns

Sew Sweetness

Sew yourself a big, summer tote like this beauty by Kim at My Go-Go Life, with inspiration from Sew Sweetness and Purse Palooza 2012! You can enter daily to win patterns and other fun giveaways all month long in June!

Also, keep an eye out for the “Shorts on the Line” Shorts Sew-Along, coming this July!


Now it’s your turn to link up! What have you been crafting for summer, or what do you want to make time to make? Link up any and all kids craft tutorials or summer crafting tutorials that adults would love. Let’s get this party started!

get the InLinkz code

12 Fabric Lines to Love in 2012

After a jaunt last weekend to Kansas City for Quilt Market, I’m excited for the release of several new fabric lines. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s might be coming to your local quilt shop soon, including some floral, whimsical and bold fabric designs for quilting and sewing.

Denyse Schmidt Fabric Swatches

Chicopee by Denyse Schmidt for FreeSpirit. The tiny prints in muted colors blend well with her Hope Valley line or some of her recent prints for Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Heather Ross bags

Nursery Versery by Heather Ross for Kokka. Whimsical and perfect for carry-all bags and children’s clothing, these prints may make you okay with having a “mouse in the house.”

Art Gallery Fabrics

Lillybelle by Bari J. for Art Gallery Fabrics. You’ll be inspired to sew once you feel the silky texture of these quilting cottons in floral prints.

Cameo by Amy Butler for Rowan/Westminster (photo Crimson Tate). Journey back in time with muted greens, grays and blues in ornate and simple floral prints, suitable for quilting and wearables.

Out to Sea by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller (photo Crimson Tate). The nautical fabric mixes geographic flair with bubble gum pink for a fresh, modern look.

madrona road

Madrona Road by Violet Craft for Michael Miller (photo ImAGingerMonkey). These colors perfectly marry summer and fall, with berry tones and lemon yellows for a fresh and fragrant look.


Crabtastic by Maude Asbury for Blend Fabrics (photo ImAGingerMonkey). It’s out to sea for these cute crabs, with a darling text print to complement.

Field Study by Anna Maria Horner

Field Study by Anna Maria Horner for FreeSpirit. A nature-inspired complement to her previous line, Loulouthi. The deep, rich tones look right at home in wearables and accessories.

Mama Said Sew by Sweetwater

Mama Said Sew by Sweetwater for Moda. Monochromatic prints with text elements are a signature for Sweetwater. Roll out the picnic blanket and mix these prints with Reunion or Hometown for a twist.

Simply Color by V & Co.

Simply Color by V & Co. for Moda. Rainbow colors, everywhere! This line includes both prints and solids with an ombre effect (color increases in intensity across the pre-cuts).

Echino Booth

Echino 2012 for Seven Islands. You won’t want to miss the deer with glasses, plus fun mixers like polka dots and damask.

Robert Kaufman Booth

Kona Modern Quilts by Cynthia Frenette for Robert Kaufman. Have your fabric and quilt it, too. These funky brights are toned down by brown in this bedroom set.

There you have it! Which of these lines are you most looking forward to sewing with?

Giveaway Day!

It’s Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

Leave a comment for your chance to win a $25 shop credit to Modern Fabric Studio!

Modern Fabric Studio

Open worldwide. We’ll choose one random winner on Friday, May 25, 2012. Good luck!

Out of 485 entries, we’ve chosen the winner, number 243, Lee! She said, “I love Modern Fabric Studio! thanks!” Congrats to Lee!

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day

Car Trash Bag / Reusable Lunch Bag

Car Trash Bag

I find that the car is never more cluttered than when filled with wrappers, empty drink bottles and waste from a summer road trip. I try to pick up all the trash I can when I can, but sometimes straw wrappers, bottle caps and food receipts literally take over.

Enter the car trash bag! The sturdy bag is built to carry odds and ends, so you can just fill it up and dump the contents when you stop to refuel. The trash bag is unlined  (see note below if you’d like to add a lining) with the interior covered in interfacing for durability. Simply toss the bag into the washing machine when it’s ready to be cleaned.


- 1/2 yard home decor weight fabric (shown here in Joel Dewberry Heirloom)

- 14″ cut of medium-weight fusible interfacing (like Pellon 808)

- Matching thread, iron, scissors, sewing machine and pins

Cut fabric and interfacing

From both fabric and interfacing, cut two pieces 14″ x 11″ and remove a square 2.25″ x 2.25″ from bottom two corners of each piece. Adhere interfacing to lining with iron.

Mark handles

From fabric, cut two pieces 11″ x 6″ for handle lining. Place one handle lining fabric on top of bag fabric, right sides facing. Use ruler to mark dots 2″ from top of bag at the 3.5″ and 7.5″ marks. Move ruler down to 3″ from top of bag and again mark dots at the 3.5″ and 7.5″ marks. Connect dots into a rectangle for bag handle.

Stitch and cut handles

Pin pieces together and stitch on top of line to create handle. Use scissors to snip almost into the corners and down the center line through all layers of fabric.

Flip handle fabric inside out

Now for the magic part. Push the handle lining fabric through the slot you just created and pull it through the other side. Press and pin handle lining flat against inside of tote. Secure with zig-zag stitch, and trim excess fabric away from handle lining (see below).

Attach handle to other side of bag.

Note: If you’d like to make a lining for the bag, cut lining fabric in the same dimensions as your outer fabric, follow the same instructions to make handles and sew the lining, then refer to Tote Bag Tutorial for instructions on inserting your lining. Line up handles of outer and lining fabric and hand-stitch together.

Pin bag front and back right sides together

Next, pin bag front and back right sides together, avoiding the corners or the top of the bag. Stitch 1/4″ from the edges along left and right sides of bag and bottom (center only, not corners yet).

Pinch together corners of bag

Pinch together the corners of your bag, so the seams on the bottom and sides of the bag line up. I like to iron my seams open.

Pin and stitch corners

Pin together the matching edges and stitch 1/4″ from edge. (You can see more photos of this method on our Tote Bag Tutorial).

Fold under rim and pin

Turn bag right side out and push out corners. To finish top edge, use pinking shears or zig zag stitch along top edge to prevent fraying. Then fold top edge down so it lines up with handle cutout without being visible from the outside. Pin fold in place along top edge of bag, and use zig zag or straight stitch to fix top fold in place.

Reusable Lunch Bag

And there you have it–just grab your bag and go! The car trash bag also doubles as a reusable lunch bag in a pinch. Or, fill it with summer essentials like a snack and sunscreen for trips to the park, beach or playground.

Reusable Lunch Bag

If you use this tutorial, we’d love to see your bag in the Craft Buds Flickr pool. This post is part of the Summer Sewing Contest, so check out the blog hop for more projects inspired by the season and enter your own June 10-17 at at Ellison Lane Quilts for a chance to win prizes!

Book Review: Reinvention

Reinvention Book Maya Donenfeld

Maya Donenfeld’s new book Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials (Wiley) is a collection of projects about repurposing materials to make something new. The sewing projects inside range from beginner to intermediate, and there are also some great design touches, like printing on fabric.

The book starts off with some sewing basics, like tools and techniques. There is also a chapter on printing basics, which covers freezer paper printing and stamping.

Arithmetic Pillows Reinvention

In the Linen chapter, one of the cutest projects are “The Arithmetic Pillows.” These simple envelope-back pillows are a perfect project for beginners. And if you aren’t into buying linen yardage, which can be quite expensive, suggested materials include upcycled linen skirts and dresses.

Toadstool Reinvention

In the Wool section, there are several projects which use upcycled sweaters as new material for making projects. “The Toadstool Cottage” is a toy designed for kids that parents will appreciate for its ability to contain tiny little pieces. If sweaters aren’t avilable, another affordable material could be a sturdy wool felt.

Color Block Zippered Pouch Reinvention

Have you ever considered using Tyvek mailers as sewing material? The water- and tear-resistant material can be repurposed as material for zip pouches, a banner, notebook and luggage tags. Some of the other materials featured in the book are jersey (t-shirt material), denim, vintage fabrics and burlap. So clever!

Burlap Bin Reinvention

My Project

As a project tester for this book, I had the privilege to review the pattern for the burlap bin before the book went to print. I chose to make the larger of two available sizes. My favorite design element is the handle slot, which you can insert on one or two sides. As you can see below, I changed my mind about the slots halfway through, and decided to just make one handle slot (although I had already created two slots in the lining fabric).

Surprisingly, I was able to sew through all of the layers, including topstitching all of the edges, without breaking a needle! The bins in the book are made from upcycled coffee bags, and if I ever come across some of these bags, I know exactly what to do with them.

Burlap Bin Reinvention

These bins are great for holding books or fabric scraps, which I’m currently using mine for. The cats, on the other hand, can certainly appreciate the burlap bin for its structured coziness.

Reinvention Burlap Bin

If you appreciate upcycled projects, Reinvention offers a wealth of inspiration. You can’t beat the affordability of sewing with materials that are either thrifted or ready to be thrown away, and the projects range from wearables to gifts and all sorts of things to make your house a home.

Summer Sewing Contest

Snowcones, sunshine and days by the pool… are you ready for summertime? Then why not kick off your summer with a little summertime sewing?!

Amy Butler Sun Surf Halter

Jennifer at Ellison Lane Quilts is hosting a Summer Sewing Contest that you won’t want to miss. The event will start off with an inspirational blog hop of summery sewing projects, featuring…

We’ll share our summer sewing project (a surprise!) on May 18th.

The Contest

Then it’s your turn to show off your summer sewing! To take part in the contest:

1. Sew something fun for summer in one of these 4 categories (You may enter one item in each category):

  • Quilts
  • Home Decor
  • Clothing
  • Bags & Accessories
2. Link up your entry at Ellison Lane Quilts:  June 10-17
3. Finalists are chosen in each category: June 18
4. Voting Begins: June 18- June 23
5. Winners announced: June 26

The Prizes

The winner of each category will receive a $100 gift certificate to the Fat Quarter Shop!

A randomly chosen winner in each category will win a Fat Quarter Bundle of fabric from Westminster Fibers / Free Spirit Fabric.

A wild card winner will be chosen by Jennifer’s husband and will receive a $25 gift certificate to The Intrepid Thread.

Are you psyched like I am? Grab a button and spread the word!

Summer Sewing Contest at ELQ
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