Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to make a mitered hem - tutorial

*The tutorial for the mitered hem can be used with napkins, tablecloths, or on any project where you want your hem to look great on the corner.*

Today I made the crib skirt for the pink and grey nursery set and I thought I would pass on a few steps often not included in commercial patterns.  The first is to miter your hem corners on the skirt sides rather than just turning in the side and bottom hem allowances and hemming. 

A mitered hem makes the edges crisp and gives a professional look.  The secret is the bulk is trimmed away allowing the corner to be smooth and hang straight.

In these directions I am using a total of a 1 1/2" hem on the sides and bottom of each skirt side.  Press under 1/2" and then an additional 1" hem on each side you are hemming.  At each corner, open  the hem allowances.  Fold the right sides of the fabric together to form the following triangle:

You will be sewing a 90 degree angle from the point were you turned under your 1" hem to the 1/2" hem point.  Sew a seam between these two points.
Once you've sewn your seam, trim the seam allowance to 1/4" and cut the point at an angle.
Finger press the seam allowance open.
Turn right side out with the 1/2" seam allowance on the edge turned under.  I'm using a metal Dritz hem gauge with my steam iron  to get a crisp edge when pressing.
To sew down the hem, I used my blindstitch foot with my needle to the left.
This is the inside of the mitered corner.  Sure is nice not to have bulky crooked corners!  The blindstitch foot does a great job.
Once the side panels are attacked to the main piece, I serge or finish off the seam.  Then I press the seam towards the body of the skirt base.

The next trick is I get out my blindstitch foot again and use it to put a row of stay stitching along the seam.  Stay stitching is just important in home dec sewing as it is in sewing apparel.  Just like you don't want your facing to flip up at your neckline, you don't want the seam flipping around when the skirt is washed.
Just a few extra seams will give professional results to your project.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Make your own crib sheets tutorial...

Each sheet takes a little over an hour of time, but you'll love how these sheets hold up to washings compared to commercially produced nursery sheets.  Plus, you have the advantage of selecting fabric to match the decor you want for the room.

Each sheet will take 2 yards of cotton fabric measuring at least 44" wide.  Wash the fabric in hot water and dry on hot.  Shrink it now and not later!!  This is very important and it took a few sheets before I learned my lesson.

Now cut your washed fabric to 43" wide by 66 1/2" in length.

From each corner, cut out a 6 1/2" square.  This is for a mitered corner.
Serge or zigzag any raw edges.
At each corner bring together the right sides of the fabric (where you cut out the 6 1/2" square) and sew a 1/2" seam. 
Serge or finish off this seams at each corner.
Press the seams to one side and stitch the seam allowances down.  This reinforces the mitered corners for when monkeys are jumping on the bed.

Press a 1/2" hem around the entire edge of the crib sheet.
At each corner you'll make a casing for elastic to be inserted.  I use 12" total at each end.  
Stitch down the seam allowance.
Cut a 6 1/2" piece of elastic for each corner.  Put a safety pin at one end and thread the elastic through the casing.
At each end of the casing, stitch the elastic securely in place with your sewing machine.  Remove the safety pin.
Each corner should look like this.
After completing each corner, finish off each side by stitching down the 1/2" pressed hem allownace.
Looks like I finished this one just in time because UPS just brought the rest of the fabric for me to finish off the quilt.

For the pink and grey nursery.
P.S.  For a Pack and Play sheet:  Wash and dry a 1 1/4 yard piece of fabric.  Cut a 41" square from your fabric.  Cut out a 2" square from each corner.  Use 1/2" seam allowances and follow the directions for sewing the crib sheet.  Have fun sewing!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pink and Grey in the Nursery

I'm currently working on a nursery set for family friends.  Spencer and Jordana are expecting a little girl in January and they have decided on a pink and grey color scheme. 

I love the look of this sweet and contemporary palette, but maybe I love it so much because it has a touch of vintage.

This past summer I purchased an embroidered nursery quilt top I thought would be a fun hand quilting project for snowy, cold, winter nights.  This design is the Bedtime Quilt or the Quaddie Quiltie series by Rubie McKim in 1916 for the Kansas City Star. 

The top measures 61" x 50" and has 20 different embroidered characters.  It is in great condition with no staining, holes or condition issues for its age.  A simple quilting pattern will bring it to life.

A very wise owl.

Jump forward a few decades.

I picked up this embroidered and painted pillow cover at an estate sale hidden in a box lot.  This has the Voguart stamp on the inside selvage; Voguart was a combination of  embroidery and painting.  In this pillow top the grey spots and pink backgrounds were painted.  I'm thinking this might be a cute design for applique.  Who doesn't love a puppy?

Sorry, but just an opportunity for Indiana to say Hi!

So back to a current pink and grey palette with the start of the baby quilt.  A simple 6 inch nine patch block is dynamic with the limited colors.

The finished quilt will be 36" by 48" - 48 blocks.  Some of the prints have a touch of red and blue to give it a little spark.  
More developments later as I want to share my crib sheet directions.  For the nursery I'm doing sheets to coordinate with the quilt and crib skirt.  Tutorial to follow this week!

Monday, October 8, 2012

I've gotten soft....

Included in a bundle of vintage patterns at a sale this past week was this needlework magazine.  At first glance I thought I would just take it out of the bundle and leave it at the sale for some needlework enthusiast, but then the date caught my eye and it went home with me.
This was Volume 1 (1975) of McCalls Needlework & Crafts.  Oh wait, THE BEST of McCall's Needlework & Crafts. They're listing quilting!  This was just prior to the bi-centennial and the resurgence of quilting.  I can't imagine the gorgeous quilt they're capturing for viewers to get excited about bringing quilting back into the mainstream of needlework.

Here we go, page 120; "An Album Quilt, Rich in Design".

No provenance or date, but I questimate the turn of the century with some older pieced blocks added.  The pink and white stripe chambray as well as some conversation prints are what I am looking at to determine its possible age.  These fabrics look about the newest in the mix. 

The caption reads: "Although the quilt blocks vary in size, they are pieced with borders where necessary to make a quilt 71 x 88."  

And on the opposite page, the directions.  Wait, before you look at them, think about the pages of directions this scrappy, diverse and unconventional pattern would take to instruct the quilter of today - pages - maybe even a booklet!   Drum Roll.  Ready, because all the patterns are on ONE PAGE:

Here, let me enlarge a section for you.  Notice the fly foot pattern at the bottom left corner. 
Goodness, we have gotten soft as needle-workers.  I don't know of many quilters today who still use templates; Martha is the only person I can think of right now (and her creations are so magnificent that arguing against using templates would be futile bordering on ridiculous).  This pattern was before the rotary cutter became a staple in the sewing room.  Templates were made of the pattern pieces and then the quilter would carefully trace the template on the wrong side of the fabric and use their pencil line as the seam line.  Preparation of templates and fabric were additional steps adding to the time required to create a block.

I learned to quilt with templates and I was more than happy to switch to a rotary cutter. 

I have gotten soft.  Yes, as a quilter and as an individual!  I'll show you why.

Remember I have a very special wedding coming up this weekend...   here I am reattaching lace to an underlining I hemmed on the wedding dress....  I'd show more, but my daughter wouldn't be too happy with me if I did just yet.

I have procrastinated like never before in getting my own dress made.  I can't figure why the delay, but maybe it might have had to do with my fluffy factor.

I found a great pattern, McCalls M6464.  I thought it was perfect; no frills yet simple and dressy.  Do you notice the alterations look like more tissue paper added than the original pattern?  Wow, fluffy is right!!  The pattern, in its defense, wasn't the problem as it was extremely easy to alter.      

Here it is with pins through the lining and hem and waiting to get steam pressed when finished. The cranberry shantung sateen was purchased from  I think it will work out great for a fall outdoor wedding at an arboretum!  I used the satin side for the bodice and the shantung side for the skirt.

My dress cost less than $30 (pattern, fabric, thread and invisible zipper) to make buying the pattern and zipper on sale. always has great deals on their fabrics.  That's definitely not fluffy though!