The Confident Stitch

  • How to Apply Bias Binding to a Wool Blanket

    First, trim off the selvedges and square up the blanket How to Apply Bias Binding to a Wool Blanket: First, trim off the selvedges and square up the blanket

     

    Step 2: Use a bowl or a ruler to round the corners of the blanket Step 2: Use a bowl or a ruler to round the corners of the blanket

    Step 3: Sew the binding to the blanket @ 1/4" Step 3: Sew the binding to the blanket @ 1/4"

    Step 5: Trim both the blanket and the bias tape to 1/8" Step 5: Trim both the blanket and the bias tape to 1/8"

    Step 7: Wrap the bias tape around the blanket and make sure it's 1/4" on the right side. Step 7: Wrap the bias tape around the blanket and make sure it's 1/4" on the right side.

    Step 8: Use Wash A Way thread to stitch from wrong side. Step 8: Use Wash A Way thread to stitch from wrong side.

    Want an easy, gorgeous gift for yourself (or someone else, I guess)? Just round the corners of two yards of our wool melton, and stitch a Frou-Frou solid or floral binding around it to make a one-of-a-kind 60” x 72” blanket!

    Supplies:

    1. 2 Yards of heavy-weight wool
    2. 8 yards of 3/4" bias tape
    3. Thread to match blanket
    4. Thread to match bias tape
    5. Wash-A-Way thread
    6. Sewing machine with walking foot

     

    How to Apply Bias Binding to a Wool Blanket:

    1.     Trim off selvedges and square up the edges.

    2.     Use a bowl or a curved ruler to round the corners of the blanket. Make sure the curve starts and ends the same distance from the corner. My curves started and ended approximately 4.5” from the corner.

    3.     Using a walking foot on your machine, sew the binding to the blanket using the ¼” fold-line as a guide. I used Wonder Clips to keep the tape in place around the corners. On the straightaways, I used my fingers to line up the bias tape with the edge of the blanket.

    4.     Leave a 3” tail at the beginning and the end of your trip around the blanket. When you get to the end, unfold the bias tape tails, and sew them right-sides-together the short way so they make a continuous binding. Then finish sewing the bias tape to the blanket on the ¼” fold-line.

    5.     Trim both the blanket and the bias tape seam allowances to 1/8”.

    6.     Gently iron the bias tape up, toward the seam allowance.

    7.     Wrap the bias tape around the edge of the blanket. Pin it in place from the wrong side (or use Wonder Clips). Use a seam gauge to make sure the bias tape is an even ¼” from the front.

    8.     From the wrong side of the blanket, stitch down the bias tape 1/8” from the pre-folded edge of the tape using Wash-A-Way thread in both the bobbin and the top. You are basting the bias tape in place from the wrong side.

    9.     Using thread that matches the blanket on the top, and thread that matches the bias tape in the bobbin, stitch-in-the-ditch from the right side of the blanket, catching the bias tape on the wrong side.

    10.  Wash your blanket using Euclan soap, either completely by hand, or using the “hand wash” setting in you washing machine. The Wash-A-Way thread will dissolve, and you’ll have a cozy, soft bound blanket!

     

  • Lisa the Unicorn Pillow

    Hi everyone,

    Our latest modern quilt project is Lisa the Unicorn, a pattern by Elizabeth Hartman. This versatile pattern gives you several options including a pillow cover, a small quilt, and a large quilt. You could also turn the pillow cover into a mini quilt instead.

    Let's get started!

    Elizabeth Hartman's most recent pattern, Lisa the Unicorn. Elizabeth Hartman's most recent pattern, Lisa the Unicorn.

    I love this unicorn because you can customize the mane in whatever colors you want. For my example, I selected sea glass colors to remind me of a tropical beach! I kept the unicorn body white with a darker contrasting background fabric so the unicorn really stands out. If you decide to use different body and background colors, be sure to keep fabric values in mind so that your unicorn has enough contrast. Similarly, if you choose printed fabrics over solid fabrics, you want to look for fabrics that work well together so the unicorn is distinctive and doesn't get lost in the fabric choices.

    You can use a rainbow of solids or mix it up with some patterns for your unicorn mane. You can use a rainbow of solids or mix it up with some patterns for your unicorn mane.

    I cut all my fabric pieces according to the pattern and labeled them using Washi tape. This method will help to keep you organized and will make strip piecing easier if you are making more than one unicorn.

    Labeling each piece helps you keep organized. Labeling each piece helps you keep organized.

    This pattern uses the stitch-and-flip technique but you can also use the Simple Folded Corners Ruler that we used in the Scandinavian Tomte quilt. I found that a scant 1/4-inch seam allowance worked best on this pattern since it is easy for the block to shift towards a too-small size while sewing.

    Tip: For the mane units, you could cut the colorful strip pieces a little longer by 1/2-inch to allow for trimming to the correct size once the unicorn body pieces are added.

    Once you piece each section, give it a good press and set aside or place on a design board.

    Pieced Lisa the Unicorn

    I decided to make the pillow cover so I only need to make 1 of each unit. The pattern comes together fairly quickly once you get in the groove!

    Next week, I'll show you some tips on finishing the blocks, particularly the horn unit.

    Happy quilting!
    Jen
    @nwquiltedcat

  • Make a Pinwheel Pillow

    Hello quilters!

    Today, I'm going to show you how to make a quick pinwheel pillow using scraps leftover from the Scandinavian Tomte quilt.

    Use your leftover quilt scraps to make a cute pillow! Use your leftover quilt scraps to make a cute pillow!

    Supplies Needed

    Half-Square triangles (HST) scraps from Scandinavian Tomte quilt
    12-inch pillow form
    15x15 scrap of muslin
    15x15 scrap of batting
    2 flannel scraps for backing, approximately 13" x 10" each
    Optional decorative button
    Basic sewing supplies

    Step-by-Step Directions for a 12-inch Pillow

    1. Sew a background HST to a red HST, right sides together with a 1/4-inch seam allowance. These pieces are left over from the Scandinavian Tomte tree blocks. Make 4.

    You should have 4 half square triangle blocks. You should have 4 half square triangle blocks.

    2. Press seams open.

    3.Trim each unit to 5.5 inches.

    4. Sew the 4 units together to make 1 pinwheel block.

    Sew the 4 HST blocks together to make a pinwheel block. Sew the 4 HST blocks together to make a pinwheel block.

    5. Cut 2 strips from black fabric at 1.75-inches by 10.5 inches. Sew these border strips to each side of the pinwheel block using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

    6. Cut 2 strips from the black fabric at 1.75-inches by 12.75 inches. Sew these border stripes to the top and bottom of the pinwheel block using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

    Put it All Together

    7. Layer the pinwheel block, batting, and muslin together to make a quilt sandwich and quilt the top as desired.

    8. Trim the quilt sandwich.

    9. Add a decorative button to the middle of the pinwheel block (optional).

    Add a contrasting border. Add a contrasting border.

    10. Cut the flannel backing scraps into 2 pieces: 1 at 12.75-inches by 9 inches and 1 at 12.75-inches by 8 inches.

    11. Hem one of the flannel backing pieces: fold 1/4-inch, press, then fold another 1/4-inch and top-stitch.

    12.  Layer the quilt sandwich and the backing pieces with right sides together and clip or pin in place. The 2 flannel backing pieces will slightly overlap.

    Flannel scraps make a perfect pillow back! Flannel scraps make a perfect pillow back!

    13. Stitch around all the outside edges using a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

    14. Clip corners.

    15. Turn the pillow inside out and add the pillow form.

    16. Enjoy your new pinwheel pillow! If you want to make a larger pillow, make additional pinwheel blocks and stitch them together before quilting.

    And ta-da! You have a sweet matching pillow for your Tomte quilt! And ta-da! You have a sweet matching pillow for your Tomte quilt!

    On the next blog post, we'll start a new project!

    Enjoy,
    Jen
    @nwquiltedcat on Instagram

  • Grainline Lark Cardigan

    Grainline Lark Cardigan in Merino Wool Knit Grainline Lark Cardigan in Merino Wool Knit

    I love wrapping myself in my Grainline Lark Cardigan I love wrapping myself in my Grainline Lark Cardigan

    A Closeup of the Lark Cardigan Hem A Closeup of the Lark Cardigan Hem

    I Love a Versatile Pattern!

    A couple of years ago, Jen at Grainline Studio published a cardigan variation for the Lark Tee pattern. By adding approximately twelve inches to each half of the front of the tee, the variation allows you to turn your favorite tee (the Lark, of course) into a simple cardigan.

    Great for Beginners

    I decided to use the Grainline Lark cardigan variation in my latest Learn to Sew with Knits class. It was a big hit with all the students. Each student selected different weights of knits, and their cardigans all turned out great.

    I have made three cardigans in the recent past: Angela Wolf’s Rachel, a Style Arc one, and the Lark. The Lark was the easiest. I made mine out of our lightweight wool-cotton blend knit, which is easy to sew with and provides just the right amount of warmth.

    The pattern was a good choice for learning to sew with knits because the only tricky part is setting in the sleeve on the flat. But, all my students successfully sewed their sleeves with no puckers. I’m such a great teacher! (JK…the students were already good at sewing!).

    Stay-Tapes for the Win

    For my hem, and the hems in the class, I used a couple of my favorite stay tapes. My students and I all turned our hems half an inch twice. The Grainline instructions say to turn up the hem 3/4-inch once, but the cardigan swings open, and we didn’t want a raw edge to show.

    To accomplish a perfect double-turned hem in a knit, I first iron on half-inch single-sided knit stay tape to the edge of the fabric. I turn up the hem along the edge of the stay tape. Then I iron on quarter- or half-inch double-sided stay tape to the turned up edge, and then turn it up one more time, letting the glue of the double-sided tape hold the hem in place. Finally, I stitch the hem from the right side, using a twin needle and a walking foot. So pro!

    Grainline Lark Cardigan Conclusion

    As I said before, this is a great first project with knits, especially if you use the stay tapes and go slow when setting in the sleeves!

     

  • Concord T-Shirt with a Butterick Skirt

    Front of my Concord T-Shirt with a Butterick Skirt in an Alison Glass Silhouette Lawn. Front of my Concord T-Shirt with a Butterick Skirt in an Alison Glass Silhouette Lawn.

    Back of the Butterick 5756 Skirt Back of the Butterick 5756 Skirt

    Front of the Butterick 5756 Skirt Front of the Butterick 5756 Skirt

    Pairing my third Concord T-Shirt with a Butterick Skirt in an Alison Glass Silhouette Lawn makes me so happy. The magenta lawn is practically the same color as the Concord T-Shirt I had already made out of our Rayon/Lycra in Wine.

    When I saw the dresses in Alison Glass Silhouette Lawns popping up on Instagram, I knew I had to have one. However, I have ‘enough’ dresses. So, I decided to make Butterick 5756 out of the Magenta Silhouette Lawn. To be more precise, I decided Bonnie, our seamstress, should make it for me, because I didn’t have time. Yay for me!

    Butterick 5756 Review

    Butterick 5756 is a gathered, lined skirt with a wide waistband. Bonnie made it in a size 20 waistband and a size 18 skirt. She decided not to line the skirt. Even though the fabric is almost translucent, there is so much fabric in the skirt that the skirt is not see-through. Also, adding a lining would have added way too much fabric to an already-voluminous skirt. Bonnie and I both think the skirt is very flattering because the yoke lays flat against the stomach. The only thing Bonnie didn’t like about the pattern was the front center seam on the skirt.

    Concord T-Shirt Review

    For this iteration of the Concord T-Shirt, I made the scoop-neck, long-sleeved, straight-hemmed version. It fits so well! I only had to lengthen the sleeves a few inches. I think I made a size 14 G/H. Jenny Rushmore loves negative bust ease in her knits, meaning the amount of fabric around the bust is smaller than the bust measurement. I don’t like THAT much ease, especially in a light-weight knit like this one, so I sized up a little. Jenny includes the finished garment measurements on the envelope, which makes it easy to choose a size based on your garment-tightness preferences.

    I made the entire T-shirt on the sewing machine using a zig-zag stitch. The fabric is lightweight and a little slippery, so I used a walking foot to assure both layers went through the machine at the same rate. The instructions in the booklet are great, and Jenny has photo tutorials on her website as well. As someone who ‘always’ does a full-bust adjustment, I love being able to cut out this pattern and sew it up without fussing with the fit.

    Concord T-Shirt with a Butterick Skirt Conclusions

    A gathered, swishy skirt made of a beautiful cotton lawn is not my usual style, but I love this skirt. So much. I feel fancy and well-dressed in it, even with a ‘just’ a T-shirt on top. If you stay away from gathered skirts in order to avoid the extra volume on your lower half, this is a great pattern because of the wide yoke. And Alison Glass's lightweight border prints are the perfect fabrics.

     

  • Scandinavian Tomte Quilt: Part 3

    Happy Thanksgiving week, quilters!

    Let's assemble the Tomte block and finish the quilt! The Tomte block is a cute, mischievous little gnome that looks difficult to sew, but uses basic piecing techniques. (If you missed it, find Part I of this series here, and Part 2 here!)

    Assemble the Tomte Block

    First, cut out all the pieces according to the pattern. Be sure to label them carefully just like we did with the tree blocks.

     

    Label all your Tomte pieces—you'll be glad you did! Label all your Tomte pieces—you'll be glad you did!

    The pieces for the Tomte block are much smaller than for the tree blocks, but we'll continue to use the stitch-and-flip method for many of the units. The Simple Folded Corners Ruler works just as well on these smaller units. Since smaller pieces tend to shift and go wonky during pressing, I like to use a Steady Betty to keep them in place.

    For the Tomte block, sew all your rows individually, press them on the Steady Betty, and then set them out on a surface in the correct order. This method will help you to spot any potential mistakes before stitching all the rows together. Start stitching the rows together, paying close attention to your 1/4-inch seam allowance. Have fun watching your Tomte grow!

     

    Your Tomte will grow layer by layer! Your Tomte will grow layer by layer!

    The black heart on the Tomte hat is the only piece that is appliqued. After pressing in place, I used a blanket stitch to secure it.

     

    The completed Tomte block. The completed Tomte block.

    Assemble the Scandinavian Tomte Quilt

    Lay out your 3 tree blocks and 1 Tomte block and swap them around until you have a layout that you like. You should have the sashing and border strips set aside from when we cut the fabric for the tree blocks earlier in post 1. Sew the blocks, sashing, and borders together following the pattern instructions.

     

    Arrange the three trees and the Tomte in a way that you like. Arrange the three trees and the Tomte in a way that you like.

    Finishing the Scandinavian Tomte Quilt

    I used free-motion stippling for my quilting in a thread color that matched my background fabric. This quilting pattern is easy and quick, but still gives the finished quilt a nice effect. For binding, I used the same medium gray fabric that I used in the tree trunks. I think a red binding would look great as well!

     

    The finished quilt! The finished quilt!

     

    If you're in the Missoula area, you can see this quilt in person at The Confident Stitch. In my next post, I'll show you a simple project to use up some of the leftover half-square triangles from the tree blocks.

    Happy quilting!
    -Jen

  • The Farrow Dress from Grainline Studio

    Bonnie wearing the sophisticated Farrow Dress from Grainline Studio

    Picking up the Farrow Dress from Grainline Studio, I immediately recall Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan in the 1974 adaptation of The Great Gatsby:  the poise, the elegance and the shimmering drop-waisted dresses of the 1920s. The Farrow Dress from Grainline Studio evokes the glamour and sophistication of the debutantes while still offering modern nuances like the cleverly concealed inseam pockets.

    The Pattern

    We made View B in a size 8. Size 0-18 are available. Grainline Studio describes the pattern as follows:

    "The Farrow features an elegant A-line shape with flattering diagonal seaming concealing inseam pockets, and a jewel neckline. Imagine wearing View A during the balmy days of summer. View B features bracelet sleeves and is the perfect option for cooler temperatures in the spring and autumn. Layer it with tights and a Driftless Cardigan for the snowy days of winter. Dress it up with heels and dress it down with boots."

    The Fabric

    Soy/Cotton French Terry Knit in Aubergine. This fabric is thick and gorgeous. The colors are rich (we got you covered in olive green, natural, wine & pewter), the fabric doesn't pill, has some heft and recovers nicely!

    The hook & eye closure creates an elegant key hole

    The Review

    Bonnie loved The Farrow Dress pattern, remarking on its simple, elegant lines. With the different options for sleeve lengths and fabrics -- this is a great wardrobe builder. The Farrow can be made with knits or wovens. Bonnie hardly changed anything about this pattern.  Although wovens were suggested, Bonnie made this dress in an Organic Soy/Cotton French Terry.  The fabric is heavier, so she graded seams especially when 6 layers piled up from the pockets! She also used interfacing to stabilize the top of the pockets.  Bonnie chose to do 3/4 sleeves instead of full length and also notes the hem is longer in the back.

    The Grainline Farrow Dress Pockets The cleverly hidden inseam pockets on the diagonal

    Conclusion

    Bonnie loved the design they used in The Farrow Dress for the hidden pockets on the front diagonal - it's all in one piece! Bonnie would highly recommend this pattern for all figures. Quick, easy, elegant. Now let's see y'all do the Charleston!

     

  • Scandinavian Tomte Quilt: Part 2

    Hi everyone,

    Today, we're going to make the tree blocks for the Scandinavian Tomte quilt. {If you missed Part I of this tutorial, you can find it here.) The quilt uses 3 large tree blocks that you can sew together very quickly. 

    There are 4 red tree triangle shapes in each tree block. The bottom 3 segments are all the same size and the top triangle segment is slightly smaller. Before cutting, decide which red fabric that you want for the top of your tree. The other tree segments can be swapped around before sewing all the pieces together.

    The tree block uses the stitch-and-flip method to form the triangle shapes. The traditional method is to draw a line on the wrong side of your fabric, sew, then trim. How many times have you had your fabric slide during this method and your resulting triangle shape appears a bit wonky?

    Using the Simple Folded Corners Ruler

    Problem solved! I used a new ruler called Simple Folded Corners Ruler by Doug Leko to help make this process quicker and more accurate. Use the ruler to trim first and then sew. When you press your seam, you'll have a perfect shape. The following 3 pictures illustrate the basic process:

    1. Line the ruler to the fabric according to the directions.

    The Folded Corners Ruler simplifies the cutting process. Step 1

    2. Stitch using 1/4-inch seam and trim.

    Step 2 Step 2

    3. Flip and press.

    Step 3 Step 3

    Continue using the ruler to make all of your tree blocks. You'll need a total of 12 pieces for all 3 trees. Follow the pattern directions to make the tree trunks.

    Align Your Tree Blocks

    Once all your tree segments are completed, place them on a design wall to figure out where you want each segment. You can make each tree different or the same. I opted to make each tree the same for consistency and simplicity. 

    Jen chose to make all her trees the same, but you can arrange them however you like! Jen chose to make all her trees the same, but you can arrange them however you like!

    Sew the segments together and make 3 tree blocks.

    A finished tree block. A finished tree block.

    You now have 3/4 of the quilt blocks completed! In next week's blog post, we'll work on the Tomte block. Even though the pieces are smaller, the block still uses the stitch-and-flip method, but you can use the Simple Folded Corners Ruler instead. 

    Happy quilting!

    Jen

  • The $5,000 Coat, or Can I Save Money by Making My Own Clothes?

    A high-quality, beautiful, long-lasting coat...that you could make for a lot less! A high-quality, beautiful, long-lasting coat from Bergdorf's...that you could make for a lot less than the $4,990 price tag!

    The other day, I was talking to a friend whose daughter has a great job. The daughter travels around the world for her company, and therefore, gets to shop in Europe (lucky!). Two years ago, the daughter went to a designer’s store in a European capital and purchased a $5,000 coat. The coat was exquisite, but the next morning, the daughter regretted spending so much money on a coat, and she tried to return it.

    “My goodness,” said the clerk, “this is not America. We do not take returns.” The shop would alter and repair the coat forever at no charge, but it would not take the coat back. The daughter felt terrible at the time, but now, two years later, she realizes the value of her purchase. It fits her perfectly, and she wears it with pride. It truly will last forever.

    Clothing as an Investment

    While my sewing skills are not on par with a European designer’s, my friend’s story is a good reminder of what I am approximating when I make my own clothes: All the wools at The Confident Stitch are cast offs from designers, so when I use our wools, I am sewing with the same quality used by the $5,000 coat-maker; and, I will alter and repair my clothes forever. I won’t charge myself a cent.

    Consider True Costs

    When people say they can’t save money by sewing their own clothes, they are referring to fast fashion brands that use sub-par fabrics and under-paid labor. They need to compare what they sew with what they would pay for Eileen Fisher separates or a designer coat. An Eileen Fisher simple linen jersey tee costs $100. Linen jersey at The Confident Stitch costs $22 per yard, so for approximately $35, you can make yourself a linen jersey t-shirt. While you would spend less than $35 for a t-shirt at Wal-Mart or Target, you would pay almost three times as much for the Eileen Fisher tee.

    Yes, you can buy a cheap t-shirt for $10 to $15, and a coat for under $100, but those clothes aren’t comparable to the clothes you make. The clothes you make fit the wearer, and are made with the perfect high-quality fabrics in the perfect colors. Plus, time spent making clothes is sewing time, and sewing time is awesome!

  • Scandinavian Tomte Quilt: Part 1

    The Scandinavian Tomte pattern. The Scandinavian Tomte pattern.

    Hi everyone,

    Are you ready for a little modern holiday sewing? The Scandinavian Tomte quilt is a fresh and whimsical modern quilt, perfect for the holidays. Make it as a large wall hanging to display or snuggle up with it as a lap quilt on a wintry day!

    Fabric Selections

    For the background, choose a solid white or cream or a non-directional print. If you choose a directional print, you'll need more fabric than the pattern indicates due to the method of cutting the border strips and the stitch-flip technique in the blocks. You want all your background fabrics facing in the same direction.

    The pattern shows you how to cut the border strips in a single, long piece so you don't have to seam smaller pieces together. The remaining background pieces are then cut using the standard the WOF (width-of-fabric) method.

    Choose bold, saturated reds for your trees and Tomte block. The contrast of the white/cream background and the red fabrics really look great together for a crisp, modern look.

    Here are the fabrics that I used in this quilt from The Confident Stitch:

    Bright reds and crisp whites offer a modern contrast. Bright reds and crisp whites offer a modern contrast.

    Cutting and Keeping Pieces Labeled!

    This pattern uses many little pieces of various lengths. I found it quickest to cut all my fabrics at once and label them very carefully after each cut. I used a piece of Washi tape and labeled the tape using a black pen. The tape peels away from the fabric very easily.

    The pattern does contain label pieces that you can cut out and pin to your fabric if you prefer.

    I decided to sew all the tree blocks first so I lined up all the tree pieces and kept them separate from the Tomte block pieces.

    Keeping your pieces labeled and organized is a huge time saver! Keeping your pieces labeled and organized is a huge time saver!

    In my next post, I'll talk about sewing the three tree blocks together. These blocks are very quick and easy to make, giving you more time to spend on the Tomte block.

    Happy quilting,

    Jennifer

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