Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ruby Star Quilt

Ruby Star was one of the two quilts that we debuted at the Quilt Festival in Houston. Linda Davis, is one of the "Sew It Up Sisters". She designed the quilt using a charm pack from Moda's Ruby collection.  So, here's the pattern!

Ruby Star
by Linda Davis
Finished size 50” x 50”

Materials needed:
   1 Ruby charm pack
   1 ¼ yd white background fabric – I used Moda Bella bleached white
   1 yd red tone on tone for inner border and binding
   1 yd floral for outer border
   Batting 51” x 51”
   Backing 3 yds
I like having leftovers so my yardage requirements are on the generous side.

Cut (16) 5” squares from white fabric
Cut (16) 4 ½” squares from white fabric
Choose 16 charms for the star points
Draw a diagonal line on the back of each of the 16 charms then put them right sides together with a white 5” square and sew ¼” on each side of the line.

Cut on the line and press one toward the print and one toward the white.  Each of these half square triangles will need to be trimmed to 4 ½”.

Sew each pair together along the white edge with the prints forming a “V”

Choose 16 charms for the centers and trim each of these blocks to 4 ½”
Sew these squares into a 4 patch, this will be the center of the star.

Lay out your centers and your star points in a way that pleases you then sew a 4 ½”square to each end of the upper and lower star points

and sew the remaining star points to the sides of the four patch. You can then sew each row together; you will have 4 stars that are 16 ½” on each side.

Cut (5) 2 ½” strips of white and then cut 16 ½” strips, you need 10 and should be able to get two from each strip.
You need (9) 2 ½” squares for the cornerstones, so cut your remaining charms into 2 ½” squares and decide which you want to use.
Sew the sashing between each block to connect them and then sew a horizontal row with the cornerstones between and sew this to connect two rows of stars and then one on the top and one on the bottom.
Cut (5) 2 ½” strips of the red and join these end to end to make your inner border. Measure across the quilt and cut 2 pieces that length and sew them on and then measure across the other way and cut two borders that length and sew them on.
Cut (6) 3 ½” strips of the floral fabric, sew them end to end and measure and cut as for the inner borders and sew on the outer borders.
Your quilt is now ready to be layered with batting and backing and quilted. Use the remaining red tone on tone for the binding.

This makes a nice small quilt to layer on a table or cover  the end of a bed or the back of a chair.  If you want a bigger one just use more charm packs.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

'Tis the Season!

Poinsettia by La Todera Patterns

Its definitely time for making Xmas crafts! 

I love to "play" in the evening by stitching up something pretty such as these Poinsettias as well as the  Cream Puff Christmas Trees. Both of these are patterns by La Todera. I met the designer last spring at a sewing venue ~ she was great and I fell in love with all of her patterns for flowers! Before we went to the Houston Quilt Festival I made up several of the Poinsettias and three sets of the Christmas trees for our booth as samples of the patterns. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined how many of these patterns we sold! We ran out twice and then took orders. You just never know . . . .

I found some pictures on my phone that I took while making a poinsettia and thought that I would share these on my blog. Perhaps if you are making one or would like to get a pattern of your own and try one out, my notes will help your flower turn out . . . Perfect! However, I must say that, Julie Creus, the designer of La Todera patterns, has clearly written step by step directions that include a black and white photo of each segment.  

So, here goes . . . after I cut out my petals and fold them into the proper shape, I put a couple of pins along the center folds so that they do not have the opportunity to shift AT ALL! You will want the "points" of your flower to be very pointed ~ naturally!

You could trim off the bottoms to make them more even than mine are shown here, but I do not think that it is critical.

Julie's directions are quite clear about where to begin your first stitch and where to end your last, but I am very much a "type A". I want a map! She tells you that you will have a specific number of stitches per petal - it varies with the size of the petal. So, I did a little math and will the help of a ruler and my trusty Frixion pen ~ which is a new erasable gel pen from Pilot (you can order them from our website as well as locate them at your local office supply) ~ I marked "dots" on my petal. Voila, my map!

This was my attempt to make the flower impossible to mess up! 
See my dots!!!

Another helpful hint is that I used heavy duty quilting cotton thread to stitch up my petals. I honestly cannot remember if Julie's pattern suggested to use this or something else. I gathered each petal as tightly as I could pull it and then knotted each petal off before I added the next one. After all of the petals were stitched - one immediately following the previous one, I then tied a couple of really secure knots at the end of the circle of petals. Before I cut this thread, I then pulled my needle through the very first pleat of the first petal, pulled tightly to draw them all into one circlet and tied another couple of knots.


Here is the final flower before I added the centers.

I followed the directions to add the centers for this flower. Look at my very first picture above to see the little green puffy centers. Cute! But, of course, I always have to add my own creative touch. If you look closely at the other two flowers you will see that I glued beaded balls to the centers! 

Of course, all poinsettias are not white! So, I made one up in a white and silver taffeta rather than a red tone on tone quilting cotton. Isn't this elegant!

After I made several Poinsettias in different sizes which by the way make great centerpieces, tree ornaments or brooches, I decided to try making the Cream Puff Christmas Trees and got hooked.

Here is my first set in Christmas print in soft blue and lime.
Next, I tried an eclectic mix of hot pink, gold and red!

Notice that I got a little more adventurous with my decorations.

But, then . . . I decided to really go out on a limb (pardon the pun! - ah, there are no visible branches!) and chose a black and white snowflake print and really went crazy with tree decorations!

Maybe I am having a little too much fun! 

So, after all the Turkey and trimmings have been devoured, escape to your own bubble of creativity and whip up some gorgeous flowers and trees! Happy Stitching!!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Houston International Quilt Festival 
~ it was fantastic! 

Its always a great show to BE at! Here are a few pictures of our booths at the Festival. You can see that we chose a Holiday theme ~ All red, green and sparkly!!!

We introduced several new items for women. You can see a couple of different jackets from Kay Whitt of Serendipity Studios.  Her jackets are the first three to the left: Savannah Swing Jacket, The Catherine Coat (in a silvery grey silk/wool blend) and then another Swing jacket. Beneath the first jacket (pink/grey paisley) on your left is her Gore Skirt (in soft grey linen look rayon), taken from the Formula II Skirt booklet. Hanging below the Catherine Coat is the ever popular Priscilla Tunic. Kay's  new Pouf skirt is under my purple Swing Jacket. Its made out of an incredible cotton & silk burnout. We had so many new goodies! Most of these will appear on our website this week - promise!

We had lots and lots of kits for children ~ as always! You might recognize some of the kits in the first picture. From left to right: Frosty, Snowflake (with a doll version), Candy Cane, Christmas Magic (also with a doll version), Christmas Candy and a white furry baby jacket (all sold out!) A couple of these kits will be posted to our site early this week as they did not get photographed before we left.

We debuted several new kits for kids that were not Holiday themed. Here, from left to right, are Sugarplum, Violette, Kyoko and at the end Tea Party (not new). Behind Tea Party was a new kit that did sell out: Tatiana. I'll just have to design another new skirt kit!

We did have ~ for the first time ever ~ two quilts!!! This is new for Sew It Up, but I promise that you will be seeing more in the quilting arena from us. More modern than traditional and very colorful - of course! That seems to be my trademark.

The one of the left was made (by of very own Linda, who works in the shop) using a new collection from Moda Fabrics by the name of Flora. Unfortunately my photo just does not do it justice. The fabrics and charm packs are on our site. You can see the colors much better there. Flora 

The quilt on the right used fabrics from the Ruby collection; also from Moda Fabrics. This one was made by Janice (who also works in the shop) and designed by Linda. Ruby Linda has told me that she will post this pattern here on the blog later this week!

I would like to share with everyone which patterns were the most popular this year for Festival, but that will be in my next blog!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011



                     Martha’s Sewing Market takes place each May or June in Arlington, Texas. For thirteen years now we have been one of her vendors. We are known to locals as “The Grapevine Collection of Fabrics” but more recently we are thought of as Sew It Up. Each of the three days of the sewing show there are 4-5 free seminars offered to the attendees. This year one of the seminars that I choose to present was “The Essential Summer Wardrobe”. I poured over cataloques and fashion magazines and frequented many many shops all in the name of research. I was looking for something special to add to my wardrobe and hence the seminar. One particular item that caught my eye in a catalogue; I studied it closely. There was no back view (not even on the company’s website!), but that did not deter me. It was made out of a sweater knit, but that did not discourage me either. The description stated that is was 30” long in the back - that was sufficient information for me to commence experimenting. Hmm . . . I measured from the nape of my neck to my waist. This would be the length of my “finished” shrug. Not nearly 30”, but then I am a mere 5’2”.  Then I measured from wrist to wrist across my upper back. This would be the width of my “finished” shrug.

Closeup: The Hemband

See, it really is a rectangle!

I chose a black wool gauze for my experimental shrug. My vision of this new shawl-like addition to my wardrobe required a wide hemband around its entirity. The “cuffs”  of the “sleeves” needed to be even wider in my opinion. I decided that a 1 ½” hemband along both lengthwise edges would be pretty while the hemband at each end, for the cuffs, needed to be 4”. I added another ½”  to each edge to have ample fabric to be able to turn under. Then I proceeded to cut out my rectangle.

  1. width = measurement across upper back over your shoulders to the whatever length you desire your “sleeves” to be + 9” (4” x 2), for the hemband, + 1” ( ½” x 2)  for the seam allowances.
  2. Length=measurement from the nape of your neck to your waist + 3” (1 ½” x 2), for the hemband, + 1” ( ½” x 2) for the seam allowances, + another 3” for ease so that your shrug “blouses” a little in the back.
  3. Next step was to fold under all of the edges by ½”; press well.
  4. Fold up all of the edges again for the hembands as given above; press well & pin.
  5. Topstitch in place and press again to make it “pretty”.
  6. Now fold your rectangle in half lengthwise overlapping one of the lengthwise  hembands over the other. Start pinning each end in place for about 5” on each side. These will become your sleeves.
  7. Carefully (remember the pins!) try on your shrug to determine if  the sleeves are pinned up enough. They should fit comfortably close to, but not necessarily touching your armpit.
  8. You could finish the sleeves by merely topstiching the two hembands together, BUT this is a perfect opportunity to add a design element. In other words, embellish! I sewed four novelty buttons on each side to close up my sleeves by sewing the buttons through both layers of the hembands. I spaced mine evenly apart by about 3”.  So, this shrug, my first, is a long-sleeved shrug. It required eight buttons.
Since this first shrug, I have made another, but a short sleeved one. I love it! The widthwise measurement of the shrug is considerable shorter. I made this one out of a silvery blue/gray embroidered rayon chiffon. I space my buttons, which were smaller than for my black shrug, much closer together and only used a total of 6 buttons. You certainly could make traditional button holes for your sleeve buttons, but frankly why?

I am now ready to make a third shrug. This time with ¾ length sleeves and out of a double faced plaid cotton gauze. Truly a one of a kind fabric! My intention is to wear this one with a white cami and jeans – a more casual look than the first two. Appropriate for our Texas heat while covering up adequately for the chill of air conditioning.

So, go make a shrug! 
They couldn’t be easier and they are pretty quick to make. Most of your time will be spent just ironing the hembands and then it is just one row of stitching around its perimeter.  Since I did not bring my sewing machine with me this year to the cabin, I will sew up this third shrug by hand.

Send me a picture of your first shrug! I'll post a pictures of this new one later in the week!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The 4th in Rico, Colorado

Rico has a great small town 4th of July Parade!
            Naturally I was playing, visiting and cooking up a storm on the 4th so I did not have an opportunity to share my pictures as I had hoped. Every summer my husband and I make a pilgrimage to southwest Colorado to rest and find ourselves again.  In 1975 my father-in-law built a log cabin in Rico, Colorado for all of the family. He is longer with us and as of a couple of weeks ago, neither is the mother of his children. We feel their love in this cabin. We spent our honeymoon here in 1976 and subsequently brought our children and their friends here.  Indeed I always feel like I have “come home” when we vacation here. Someday, in the not too distant future, we will retire in this same area. 

A REAL vintage fire truck!

The old mining town of Rico is very very small. The Delores River, as well as highway 145, run through the town with homes on both sides.  There is no grocery here; just a gas station, a small post office, an elementary school, the old town hall and a liquor store. A couple of years ago a drive-thru coffee hut opened (surprisingly, and fortunately, it is still open) and this summer a small bistro/laundromat  has opened for business,  its called "Dew South".  Yes, it is a small town, but on the 4th of July it is like Christmas here – except no snow! ~ They had snow this year through May!

There are antique cars too! . . . and town divas!
People come from miles aroud to celebrate the 4th here. They gather for the parade. It is quaint, but I would hate to miss it. The volunteer fire department is out in full force “passing the boot” and selling Duck Race tickets to fund their spectacular fireworks show. Immediately following the parade, the highway is opened back up for traffic. Yes, all thru traffic must patiently wait the mere 20 minutes it takes for nearly half the town to parade down Main Street! Immediately following, the “crowd” ambles down to the elementary school for the combination Arts & Crafts Sale, Library Book Sale & Quilt Show! From here you go down to the fire station for breakfast. A local Indian tribe prepares some kind of mouth watering breakfast taco – if you want one, be prepared to stand in a long long line. But, fear not, the local community band seranades you while you wait.

Of course, all of the neighboring Boy Scouts got to march in the parade!

Check out this wonderful float!
Before going to the Fire House to serenade the hungry folks, they get to be in the parade too - naturally!

I think that this may be the local princess!!!!

Even tiny town divas - in their own cars!
There is a picnic in the park later in the afternoon, but not until after the Duck Race! I wouldn’t want to miss this event either! At about 1:30 approximately 500 yellow rubber ducks are “released” off the highway bridge. Each has a black number on their belly. About a quarter of a mile downstream everyone gathers at a small bridge to watch them be scooped up in nets by the local firemen and their wives. The men stand barefoot with their pants rolled up. Their wives sport stylish wet suits . . . the temperature of the water is about 40. As they catch the cute little yellow duckies they yell out the numbers of the first 25 or so as the winners of the race. Yes, there are prizes! Everyone, including the entire dog population, either stands on the bridge or on the banks cheering wildly. I know the race seems really lame, but it is a custom here & the childish simplicity of the event has been come dear to me. 
Catching those speedy Rubber Duckies!
One of the locals taking in the Duck Race!

At dusk the locals and visiting campers commence shooting off their personal arsenal of fireworks. We sit out on the front porch of the cabin, slightly above town, snuggled in wool blankets (it is in the 50’s by now) in anticipation of the highlight of the 4th of July festivities. Soon we spot several truck headlights heading up a mountain across the valley on an old mining road. We know that these are the same talented Duck catching volunteer fire and rescue men that will now conduct “the show”. I never pay any attention to how long this takes them to set up as there is so much other fireworks going off all over town. One year someone lit a bar of magnesium down by the river. We all thought that some camper was attempting to burn up the town. It was just a little added excitement for the evening! As darkness envelops us, a million stars magically appear. They seem brighter on the 4th somehow. Finally the show commences with a thunderous introduction of the BIG fireworks. Obviously, this is not more of the same from the townfolk! If you have ever experienced the sounds and brightness of fireworks in the mountains, then you know what I mean by the resounding echos that reverberate throughout the valley. It is awesome and we enjoy the spectacle for nearly an hour. We are mesmerized. Then we scramble back inside to warmth and fresh peach pie and vanilla icecream. Can it get any better? I hope that all of you had as much fun as we did!
Happy 4th . . . belatedly!  . . . here are some the awesome fireworks pictures that I took!




Monday, May 23, 2011

Here's a Super Cute Skirt!

The Super Cute Skirt!
       Several weeks ago I was out "window shopping" for ideas. I am always on the lookout for anything that I might want to "figure out how they did that"! I was at a local discount clothing boutique and was totally unenthused as I could find nothing new, clever or stylish . . . until I spied a cute skirt hanging on the back wall. I almost bought it as was under $30, but the sewer in me said, "No, you can make that for probably less and definitely in a much cuter and better quality fabric." It wasn't that it was sooo different, but the fact that it was made out of a knit intrigued me. I have never made a tiered skirt out of a soft drapey knit. Can you believe it? Something I have not done? The fabric really was boring and the quality was just not up to my standards. So, off I went to my favorite fabric shop - lol! Naturally, I already had a a really cool fabric in mind. A wonderful super fine rayon jersey!!! ~ in my favorite color; purple!

See how full it is!
          So, where to start? How did they make it? It was a three-tiered skirt: the top tier was the main part of the skirt with two tiers below being of equal width; each approximately 5" or 6".  I made a few mental notes. I took a picture with my phone and a took a cursory measurement. (I nearly always carry a tape measure in my purse - what sewer doesn't?, but did I have one that day? No!)  So, I proceeded to measure it "the old fashioned way": I held it up to my arm and "measured" the top tier. I pinched the elastic band between the fingers of my left hand while stretching it out to be flat with my right hand. It came just to my arm pit which gave me a measurement of 24". Multiply that by two (front & back) and maybe add in a little bit for a seam allowance ~ Nah, I was going to make this on my serger; no need. As for the length, it should be "finger tip" length: 16" for me. Yes, I am not overly tall! Okay, so add another 1" for the elastic casing at the waist + 1/4" for a seam allowance. Okay, my top panel needed to be 48" X 17 1/4".  As I said earlier the bottom two tiers were each 5-6" in length. I decided to go with 5" due to my height. I wanted the skirt to hit me just below the knee. This cute little skirt was very very full as I recalled. So, I decided that the second or middle tier should be 2 1/2 times the width of the top tier and the bottom tier should be only 2 times the width of the middle tier. After a little calculating with my phone - what would we do without these "telephones"!  Now I was ready to cut.

The fabric needs to be "drapey"!

Top tier: 48" X 17 1/4"
Middle tier: 5" X 120" (the fabric is 60" wide, so 2 strips)
Bottom tier: 5" X 240" (4 strips)

      If you would like to make one of these super cute skirts for yourself:
(A)  measure your hips and add 8" for ease.
(B)  measure what your "finger tip" length is for the length of the top tier
(C)  multiply (A) by 2.5 for the length of the middle tier
(D)  multiply (C) by 2 for the length of the bottom tier.

      Now, you are ready to sew!
(1)  Sew/serge the top tier together at the side seam & serge the top edge.
(2)  Iron down the top edge by 1"; pin and stitch leaving an opening for the elastic. I used 3/4" elastic.
(3)  Sew the middle tiers all together into a big circle.
(4)  Serge one of the edges while running a gathering stitch along the other. Mark your circle by quarters to aid you in even gathering.
(5)  Gather to fit the bottom of the top tier; pin and serge together.
(6)  Sew the bottom tiers all together into a big circle.
(7)  On both edges of the bottom tier serge a three thread rolled hem and stretch it as you sew to cause it to "lettuce" prettily!
(8) Mark your bottom tier circle by quarters to aid you in even gathering. Run a gathering stitch along one edge. Pin this last tier on top of the middle tier overlapping each by about 1/2" or less. Topstitch in place.
(9)  Remove all of your gathering threads.
(10) Insert elastic into casing; adjust to fit you; then cinch it in by 2-3" . Stitch elastic together. Close opening. Now, topstitch down the center of the elastic on top of your waistband. This will stretch it out nicely to fit comfortably.

Have fun Sewing It Up!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Time for Summer Sewing! Here is a FREE pattern!

          Its time to start sewing for Summer! Here is a precious little sundress that you can make in no time at all for some lucky little girl. Its so easy! One of my dear sweet customers made this for the shop several months ago. She had seen a dress similar in a catalog for way too much money and knew that she could make one on her own ~ no pattern is really necessary. She used a cute little printed knit (Pink Mod Floral on our website - we still have a little). The fabric hangs perfectly and requires no slip. This little sundress would be a perfect bathing suit cover-up! Okay, so how do you make one? 
1.) Measure the child ~ or adult, as this works for anyone ~ from just under the arm to the proposed finished length. Now measure around the chest and then double this measurement. Cut out a rectangle to these measurements. This will be the entire dress!
Depending on the total width, you might need one width of fabric or more. If you need more then divide the number in half and cut two panels; one for the front and one for the back.
Ruffle ~ This needs to be about twice the width of the skirt. The width of the ruffle is totally up to you. This little sundress has a 4 1/2" wide ruffle. If you are making this for yourself as a "Maxi" dress, the ruffle needs to be probably about 6" wide.
Straps ~ Cut (2) two strips of fabric from 2"-3" wide by around 18" for a little girl or 3"-4" wide by  28" long for an adult.  When you attach the straps to the dress, try it on to adjust to a comfortable length. If they are too long, just cut off whatever is unnecessary.
2.) Preparation ~ First finish the following edges of your pieces with a rolled hem*  in a contrasting thread rather than hemming them: the dress at the top, both sides of the ruffle and both sides of the straps. This is much faster and is prettier by far!
*For perfectly smooth rolled hems, use wooly nylon thread in the upper looper of your serger.
3.) Sewing ~ Sew the dress together into a tube shape. Attach all of the ruffle sections together.
Close-up of bodice shirring.
4.) Shirring ~ about 1/2" down from one edge of the ruffle, shirr 3 rows about 1/4" apart with elastic thread in the bobbin of your sewing machine.
For the dress do the same, but rather than 3 rows, shirr as many rows as you want for the bodice section. 
For the straps, shirr 4 - 10 rows ~ this depends on the width of your straps.
How to Shirr: To wind the elastic thread onto the bobbin, you can start it on the sewing machine as you fill any other bobbin. Then you need to "slow it down" to fill it up the rest of the way. I just hook my finger around the elastic as it goes into the bobbin. This slows it down just enough - like a brake. To shirr, set your machine's stitch length at 4 and sew! Do not cut your threads at the end of each row. Just turn around and go back the other direction until you get enough rows shirred. After you are done at the machine, steam the shirred sections with your iron and watch the magic! It will shrink up beautifully. Do not touch the iron to the elastic thread ~ hold the iron a couple of inches above the fabric.
5.) Finishing ~ Attach the ruffle to the bottom of the dress by pinning it on top of the dress  about 1/2" above the very bottom. (The top edge will look a little like a "lettuce" edge. Cute!)
Try the dress on and pin on the straps where they are most comfortable. Stitch to attach to the sundress and you are done!!!
Post pictures of your little sundresses!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Quick Trip to Tucson!

      I just made a super quick trip to Tucson and back with my husband to collect a "toy" ~ for him! It was really quite nice to be "trapped" in the car with plenty of time to visit without the interruptions of daily life. I knitted, browsed magazines, help drive and laughed a lot. We stayed the first night in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was so pretty! Desert and mountains everywhere you looked . . . and cactus, of course!  I loved the flowers that were getting ready to bloom on this cactus to your left. We had clear skies with cool crisp temperatures. Naturally after we checked in to our hotel, we ventured out to see what was in town. 

 Did I locate a local fabric store? Why, of course. I did not even look it up, my "fabric nose" just led us to it!

Did we find a great Mexican restaurant? Is there sand in the desert! 

We only stayed one night and then it was on to Tucson to pick up the new/old little motorcycle. This time a '69 Honda 90. I believe that this is #4. Gotta love a man with a hobby!

Here are a few more cactus pictures. There are really interesting to look at.


I wanted to share with everyone a few more pictures of last weekend's sewing retreat. We had so much fun that I keep thinking about the next one and what we can do!    

Mollie & Bettie and their completed projects!

Cathy, one of our novices and 3 completed garments! 

Denise was super productive!

Elizabeth with just a couple of her garments!