Noel Paper-Pieced Quilt Block

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Reversible Sewing Machine Cover

You sewing machine does so much for you. Why not give it a little present?

I made a reversible sewing machine cover in some of my favorite fabrics, including Japanese Echino (the bicycles print) and Momo’s Wonderland (the scissors print), plus some Kona solids. The front incorporates improvisation piecing, and the back is a bold plus-sign design. This is an intermediate to advanced sewing project which incorporates techniques such as machine quilting and working with fusible fleece and bias tape.

Want to make a little jacket for your sewing machine?

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Supplies:

  • Fabric Scraps
  • Fusible Fleece (1 yard, or 30 inches if you’re buying from the bolt). You can also use regular quilt batting, but you’ll need more pins to hold it in place.
  • Rotary Cutter, mat and ruler
  • 1 package of Extra-Wide Bias Tape (3 yards) or make your own bias tape
  • Matching Thread
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron
  • Sewing pins

Choose coordinating fabrics. You’ll want a couple pieces that are a quarter-yard or a little larger, and some scraps to liven up the design.

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For the plus-sign design, cut your pieces as follows:

Fabric A (off-white): 10 (3.5″ x 3.5″), 8 (6.5″ x 3.5″), 4 (9.5″ x 3.5″)
Fabric B (bicycles print): 2 (9.5″ x 3.5″), 4 (3.5″ x 3.5″)
Fabric C (scissors print): 2 (9.5″ x 3.5″), 4 (3.5″ x 3.5″)
Fabric D (purple): 1 (9.5″ x 3.5″), 2 (3.5″ x 3.5″)

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Arrange your pieces with the purple plus-sign in the middle, and the other plus-signs to each corner. Fill in the blank spots with solid white.

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Start sewing together each long row on your machine. Once the rows are joined, pin together and sew each row side by side, starting at the center (purple plus-sign). Trim your edges.

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Your finished block should look like this.

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You’ve finished one side! Now on to the other side, which uses a technique of improvisational piecing.

Start piecing a few blocks together, and machine stitch right sides together along one edge. Use your rotary cutter to trim off rough edges, and add another piece. It’s okay to make diagonal cuts, which increases the wonkiness of the design. (Here, I pieced the scissors and purple prints, then added the white to one edge before trimming.

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Next, I added a large green block. Then I added white along an entire side and trimmed.

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Keep adding pieces until your block is the same size (or a little larger) than the plus-sign piece.

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To make the design more interesting, you can slice right through some of the blocks you’ve sewn together. Add in a strip of another color (I chose purple), stitch along both sides, and trim edges.

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Eventually, you’ll end up with something like this:

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Test it out on your sewing machine and see how it fits. (When you quilt the layers together, it will naturally “shrink” just a bit, so start out with a piece that’s a few inches longer than the machine.)

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Here are both pieces after I trimmed the edges to make them the same size.

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Next, you’ll want to cut a piece of fusible fleece to the size of one patchwork rectangle. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to iron on the fleece to the back (wrong) side of the plus-sign piece, making sure no stray threads are sandwiched between the layers (these may be visible through the white on the finished product if you leave them in). Repeat with the improv pieces side.

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Once you’ve iron the fleece to both patchwork pieces (wrong sides), stack the two pieces with fleece sides together, like this. Trim sides to match.

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Pin together the two sides and begin to machine quilt long, straight lines down the seams of the plus-sign side.

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This is what the quilted cover looks like now. Next, you’ll add bias tape to finish the edges. Make sure you buy the extra wide, double fold type.

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Begin to pin the bias tape to edges of cover, sandwiching all raw edges inside bias tape.

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I rounded the corners of my cover by using a drinking glass and my rotary cutter. Machine stitch the binding around the edges. I used my fingers to hold the bias tape taut, and didn’t rely solely on the pins to hold it in place. This is especially true around the corners, where you’ll want to stitch slowly.

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When you get to the end, fold under one edge of the bias tape, and hold tightly to sew a smooth finished edge. Turn the project and sew a perpendicular stitch to fasten down the flap all the way to the edge.

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Next, you’ll want to make the ties. With the remaining bias tape (several inches), open and cut in half length-wise, then cut both in half width-wise. You should now have four pieces of the same length.

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Sew a wide zig-sag stitch on these single-folded ties to keep them from unraveling.

Place the cover on your sewing machine, and mark the strap placement with pins. Fold under the edge and sew ties in place with a forward and backward stitch.

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You’re done! Here’s the plus-sign design facing out.

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Here’s the back of the improv pieced side. I like how the detail in white looks like a mod sewing machine.

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Here’s the front of the improv pieced side. This is my favorite overall look, and yours can be totally personalized and unique if you follow my basic steps of improv piecing detailed above.

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Side view:
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The great thing about this sewing machine cover is that you can change the look with your mood. Simply slip off the cover and fold it inside-out!

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If you use this tutorial, please share a link to your project in the comments or add to our Flickr group. We’d love to see it!

Fresh Picks for Wednesday, 7.6.11

Lavender Sachets

Sachet, Shante: Aren’t they gorgeous? You’ll never guess what Lisa whips up out of these colorful dyed doilies and bright gingham fabric. Check out the tutorial at A Spoonful of Sugar.

everything etsy directory

The Best Things in Life… Are free, like listing your Etsy store or supplies shop at the Everything Etsy directory. Upgrade to a premium listing or check out the sites blog hosting options for a one-stop solution for your crafty business!

Dressed Up: Midwestern Sewing Girl Jackie really knows how to set a table! Just look at these transportation-themed place mats she stenciled with her kids. Get the tutorial here.

Accuquilt Giveaway Ruffle Pillow Tutorial

Round and Round: If you didn’t win the Accuquilt, check out another GO! Baby Giveaway at Bugglebee! Also, check out Mary’s darling Rosette Ruffle Pillow Tutorial while you’re there.

Thanks for checking out this week’s Fresh Picks!
Weekly Giveaways Linky
| Submit Your Project

Free Pattern Features: For the Car

Time in the car can be stressful enough with children, wildlife, construction and crazy drivers. It’s the last place you want to feel stressed out or disorganized! Here’s a few items to keep your car in order and add some personality to that neutral interior. All these items could be customized for sports fans, guys, moms, etc.! 

Sew 4 Home shares the pattern/tutorial for making this fun looking car seat caddy. You can attach it to the front or back of a car seat and the straps easily adjust to fit to any seat.

Car Seat Caddy from Sew 4 Home

 

This trash container from A Spoonful of Sugar uses a margarine tub to keep the top open and holds a plastic bag in place.

Car Trash Bag from A Spoonful of Sugar

 

MeganT on Instructables shares her pattern for make this customized visor CD organizer.

CD Organizer at Instructables

Accuquilt Giveaway Winner!

Accuquilt GO! Baby fabric cutter Out of 357 valid entries, the winner of the Accuquilt Giveaway is none other than:

#296 Jennifer H., who said “I’m a new follower via Google Reader!  Thanks for the chance to win.”

Congrats Jennifer! I saw that your blog is called “Confessions of a Serial Starter,” so hopefully this tool will help you finish up some projects more quickly!

But there’s good news if you didn’t win. First of all, check out the giveaways page for 3 more chances to win a GO! Baby. Also, we’ll let you know when the GO! Baby giveaways are posted on our personal blogs, Bugglebee and Lindsay Sews, so that’s two more chances to win!

22 Free Patterns - Download Now

Finally, if you haven’t signed up yet, sign up for Accuquilt e-mails and and you can get 22 free patterns. Thanks so much to everyone who entered, and welcome to our new followers! We hope you enjoy this week’s projects, tips and features.

Kid’s (Small) Messenger Bag

When my two-year-old son decides he wants to go somewhere he picks up my purse, puts it over his shoulder, and heads for the door. As cute as that is, Daddy thought a cool boyish bag should be made for him as soon as possible! So I came up with this messenger bag that’s toddler sized. It also makes a nice smaller sized bag for an adult. For my son’s, I used pirate, treasure map and fish fabrics for the insides of the bag and pockets. The main fabric is a heavy weight brown canvas. To finish off the set, I made two little pirate bean bag guys from some fabric scraps and made a pirate hat and treasure chest applique for the outer pocket. And at JoAnns I found a 3-pack of pirate hats, perfect for the set!

So let’s get started. Here’s your materials list:

  • 2 rectangles of fabric, one each for the inside and outside of the bag, 15.5″ wide X 31.5″
  • 4 rectangles of fabric, two each for the inside and outside of the 2 pockets, 11″ wide x 6″ tall
  • A shoulder strap cut to a length that fits your or your child comfortably (my son’s is 32″)
  • My free pattern you can download here in Google Docs. The pattern just includes the bag, not the rectangles for the pockets and it’s a 5 page PDF. Print it out, line up the stars and tape it together. If you have trouble printing it, on the left side of the screen choose File, then Download. Open the downloaded PDF then print it. I’ve included a scale in the pattern so you can make sure it’s printing to the correct size.

All seam allowances are 3/8″ unless otherwise noted.

1. First let’s get the pockets ready. With right sides together, stitch all the way around the pocket but leave a 3″ opening in one of the long ends. After sewing, snip the corners then turn right side out. Iron flat with the open seam folded inside.

2. Sew the pockets to the front and back pieces. With my pocket placement, the outer pocket will be hidden under the flap and the inner pocket will be against the back of the bag. Measuring from the right side (if the bag is oriented as shown below), the inner pocket (top of photo) is sewn on 9.5″ in from the side. The exterior pocket (bottom of photo) is sewn on 1.5″ away from the left side. (You may notice in the photo below that I added an additional strip of fabric not shown in the top photo. I didn’t make it quite long enough in my initial pattern so I added the extra strip of fabric and really like the end result! My pattern uses the correct length.)

3. Now we’ll start sewing the bag. With right sides together, stitch all the way around the bag but leave a 5″ opening in the top flap. I flipped up the corner in the photo so you could see that the right sides are together and you can see part of the pocket.

4. Snip all the inner and outer corners then turn the bag right side out. Iron flat and press in the raw edges in the opening.

5. Fold over the bag as shown in the photo below so the exterior is on the inside and you’re looking at the interior. Stitch along the sides and along the flap to close up the opening.

6. Open up the corners and fold them together as shown in the photo below and stitch them closed.

7. Turn the bag right side out. Fold the bottom of the bag between the corners on both the front and back. Pin and stitch 1/8″ away from the edge.

8. Sew on the strap just inside the side seams. The woven strap I used frays at the end so I folded under the ends of each side 1/2″ and zig zag stitched them before attaching. I like to sew on straps using an X inside a square to make sure it’s extra reinforced. Now your little pirate (or princess) is ready to load up their treasures and head out on adventures! The final bag tapers slightly so the top is a little wider than the bottom.

 

Looking for the Accuquilt Giveaway?

Flickr for Crafters: Tips & Creative Photo Tools

Everyone seems to have a favorite social media site, whether that’s Twitter, Facebook or the more recent Pinterest. What Flickr offers bloggers and the handmade crowd is pretty unique, though other sites touch on aspects of its usefulness. Let’s look at some effective ways to use Flickr to network, share your crafts and find inspiration!

A Photo Community

Flickr stores photos, but it’s good for so much more. It’s essentially a community of people who meet online and converse through images.

To join Flickr, you’ll want to first select a user name. You can change your user name later, but your original will still show up in your URL. So if it’s important to you to have your business name or Etsy shop as your URL, make sure you sign up with that name as your account. Each user is also identified by a Flickr ID number, which shows up in address bar from time to time.


As friends are to Facebook, contacts are to Flickr. Add someone as your contact if you read their blog, e-mail with them or just enjoy looking at their photos. If that person wants to follow your Flickr uploads, they’ll add you as a contact, too. Each week or so, you’ll get an e-mail from Flickr with recent uploads from your contacts, though you can log in to your account to change your preferences.


Groups
are a key part of the Flickr experience. I’m a part of more than 60 groups, all of them about fabric and sewing. I’m also an administrator to the Craft Buds Flickr group, which we created for people to share their photos of crafts they make from our tutorials.

To contribute to the conversation in a Flickr group, you’ll first need to upload photos to your account. Once your photos have been uploaded and tagged, you can add them to a group. First, join the group, then click on the text link that says “Add Photos” and select photos from your photostream that are relevant to add to the group photo pool.  For instance, if you’ve sewn a quilt with Moda brand fabrics, you could add it to the Mad for Moda group. You can also participate in a discussion thread, which is active in most groups.

Just be sure that you are there to play nice and not spam the community by posting links to your shop or blog in unrelated groups. If you want to join a public group and just browse, that’s fine too! Lurkers are everywhere on Flickr, and there are still a few other ways to participate in the Flickr community, like . . .

Favorite a photo. This is similar to “pinning” a photo on Pinterest or “liking” a comment on Facebook. When you click the favorite button above a photograph (marked with the outline of a star), three things will happen. The star will turn yellow, the photo will be saved in your “favorite” images, and the owner of the photo will most likely be sent a notification e-mail saying “someone has added your photo as a favorite.” This is useful for curating a collection of interesting photos as well as forming relationships with other Flickr users.

Comment on photos. When you leave a comment on a photo, the owner will be alerted by e-mail. To make your comments and photo descriptions more interesting, you can use basic HTML to style a phrase (bold or italicize) or add a hyperlink back to your website. Don’t worry, because you can edit the comment later if the coding doesn’t work as planned. I link back to my blog post for most of my sewing projects on Flickr, which gives people another place to find me if they want more info on a certain project (like what fabric I used, how long it took me and so forth).

Organizing Your Photos

When you upload photos to Flickr, you can immediately view them in your personal photostream. From there, you might organize them into sets, such as cooking, home renovation or quilting. You can then organize the sets into collections (like “My Hobbies” or “My Family Life”). The nice thing about sets is that you can batch edit them, meaning you can give each photo in a set the same . . .

Tags. Tags are keywords or short phrases used to describe your photos. For instance, I attached the tags cricut, father’s day, dad, tie, handmade, card, and cricut magazine to my Dad Tie Card. (To tag a phrase of two or more words, surround it in quotes.) You can go crazy tagging your photos, but whatever you do, at least tag them with something. This will help people find you when performing random Flickr searches. Try words like the color of your item, the location of your photo, a website/handmade business name or any product brands you used in the item (like Caron yarn).

Membership Options

Flickr is a free service to join, although the membership has limitations on the frequency of uploads. In order to make a free membership last longer, you can upload photos that have already been resized to 600 pixels wide or smaller. By uploading larger photos, you may use up the monthly limit per month (300MB) more quickly. Flickr also processes smaller photos more easily.

Members who wish to upgrade to the Pro account can do so for $24.95 per year or $47.99 for 2 years. Once I’d used all of my free photo uploads (a limit of 200 which will show up in your photostream), I upgraded to the pro account for two years, because it’s a better deal, and I can definitely see myself using this service for the next two years as a continue blogging. Pro account members also have access to metrics, which analyze the users Flickr page views and activity.

One reason I’ve uploaded many photos to Flickr is because I like the ability to copy the HTML code directly from Flickr to my Blogger blog. The medium-size photos are perfect for the width of my blog, and they have a clearer resolution compared to the photos I’ve uploaded directly into Blogger.

There’s also a single button your can push which blogs your photo in Blogger, and another option to share your Flickr photos directly to Facebook. If you’re not interested in sharing your photos with the world, you can change the privacy settings so that only you or your contacts can see them.

Creative Photo Tools

Make the most of your photos with fun editing tools from Big Huge Labs. (You can upload photos directly from your computer or pull photos from your Flickr or Facebook albums!) You’ve probably seen a few of them used online, but we bet you haven’t tried all of them. Here’s a rundown of some of our favorites:

Mosaic  Maker: Choose from a variety of shapes and sizes in the layout pull-down menu to create a photo mosaic of multiple photos.

Picnic Collage
Hockneyizer is a cool polaroid effect for a single photo. Could use for a feature article on your blog.

Color Palette Generator: Upload a photo and this tool automatically selects colors from your photo and provides 6-character hex codes, which you can use in your graphics or text.

Captioner: Add thought or speech bubbles to your photographs before or after uploading to Flickr.


Profile Widget: Add this widget to your website to show off your personal or group profile and recent photo uploads.

Craft Buds. Get yours at bighugelabs.com
Map Maker:
Show off where you’ve been or where you want to go, and insert into your web page as a simple HTML code.

Make yours @ BigHugeLabs.com
Photobooth: Create a strip of headshots, product images or family pics for your sidebar. Add black & white or an antiqued effect for nostalgia.
So, there you have it: some fun new tricks to liven up your photo-sharing experience on Flickr. One of my favorite discoveries about Flickr is the abundance of craft swaps that take place there. It’s also fun to log in and see what my contacts are working on, even before they’ve blogged about it. If you’re on Flickr, feel free to look me up or join our new Craft Buds group! What do you like about Flickr, and how do you most often use it in the craftosphere?

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