The Sewing Collective: Sweet Life Pillow Mod and Pattern Review

 Check out the fun twist I did on Betz’s beautiful Sweet Life Pillow pattern, below.

Present Perfect - Sweet Life Pillow

I love, love, love this method of applique. Reverse applique is one of my favorite ways to do applique. It’s a quick and accurate way of producing works of art that look like they took you days to whip up. Betz’s pattern from Present Perfect includes easy to follow step by step directions on how to create your own bee applique flawlessly.

Here are a few additional tips to make your Bee applique even easier:

• Prewash your applique rectangle and your felt rectangle in warm water, then press dry with a hot iron, no steam. This will allow your fabric and felt to shrink before you start sewing and reduce the amount of puckering later on.

• Use another sheet of stabilizer on the wrong side of your applique rectangle to help further stabilize your stitching. It also helps to keep the cotton fabric from stretching as you turn the bee.

• After you have finished sewing the bee applique and washed away the stabilizer and pressed it as dry as possible, continue to help it dry with your iron (cotton setting/no steam). With the felt side down gently press one quadrant at a time until no longer damp.

• Use a seam ripper to start your initial felt cut. It will allow you to gently poke between the two layers and run a long starting rip without fear of snipping thru both the felt and the applique rectangle beneath. Once you have your starting cut it’s much easier to get your scissors in between the layers.

I got a deep satisfaction from cutting away little bits of felt and seeing the fabric underneath. A little bit of effort for a huge impact. I chose this pattern for the WOW factor alone. It most certainly has flare. Have you seen Betz’s pictures of her students that have done this pattern, wowza!

The bee applique is the most complicated part of the pattern and once it’s done you can move on to the pillow front, a lovely hexagon shape that is easy to piece accurately with the help of the templates provided within Present Perfect.

I love how templates can help everyone achieve great results with minimal effort. Templates allow for consistency which is essential when sewing any triangle or hexagon shape. I, personally, hate it when my triangle or hexagon points disappear in the seam allowance after all my effort to be accurate in my cutting and sewing, so here’s a hot tip to get perfect points on your hexagon once you’ve sewn on all the triangle pieces.

Turn your finished center block piece over and look at the intersecting seams, you’ll notice that “X” marks the spot.

The key to getting a perfect point is to make sure your ¼” seam allowance stays above the “X”. Think of the “X” as the tip of your triangle or hexagon. You may find it easier to keep your “X” in sight if you sew with the center block (wrong side up) on top of your border strip.

The pattern continues on in a straightforward manner allowing you to complete a beautiful, stylish pillow in no time, but how could you do just one?! Betz has done such a great job creating this pattern that I didn’t make this just once, I made it three times!

Following Betz’s Sweet Life Pillow pattern, I created three separate bee applique pillow fronts and joined them together to form a Sweet Life Wall Hanging.

To make your own Sweet Life Wall Hanging here’s what you’ll need:

• 1 yd of main fabric for the front borders and triangle pieces
• 3 pieces of 8 ½” x 11” felt for your bees
• ½ yd of accent fabric for your hexagon
• 1 yd of backing fabric (this will be enough to make your binding too)
• ½ yd of batting
• 3 to 6 sheets of self-adhesive water soluble stabilizer
• ⅜” dowel rod, cut to the width of your wall hanging
• basic sewing implements
*** all seam allowance are ¼”

• Create your bee applique following steps 1-7 from the Sweet Life Pillow Pattern

• Cut (3) hexagons, (6) triangle pieces and (6) reverse triangle pieces using the templates provided with the pattern and sew them as directed in step 8 to create 3 center blocks.

• Cut (4) 2” x 16 ½” strips from your main fabric. Sew one strip to the top of one of your blocks and another strip to the bottom of the same block.

Repeat this for another center block for a total of 2 striped center blocks. You’ll have one center block without a top or bottom strip, this will become your middle center block. Trim excess strip fabric even with your block.

• Join your blocks together by sewing a striped center block to the middle center block. Finish it by sewing the last striped center block to the bottom of the middle center block.

• Cut (4) 2” x WOF strips for your side border pieces (these will be really long). Join 2 pieces to make one long continuous strip and sew to one side of your blocks. Repeat for the remaining two pieces sewing it to the opposite side to complete the side borders. Trim excess fabric even with the top and bottom of your wall hanging front.

• Cut (2) pieces of backing fabric (you may need to do some creative piecing here), sew together, and make your quilt sandwich (backing, batting, quilt top), baste it together and quilt as desired. Trim any extra fabric or batting even with the sides of your wall hanging.

• Cut (4) 2 ¼” x 44 strips for binding, join them into one long continuous strip.

• Cut (1) 3 ½” x 13” strip for your dowel tube, fold in half lengthwise wrong sides together and sew closed.

• Begin your binding on one of the long sides of your wall hanging. Bind until you get to the top and sandwich your dowel tube between your wall hanging back and your binding.

Continue sewing your binding, completing it as desired.

• Once your binding is finished insert the dowel into the tube and roll it up so it butts up against the binding. Whipstitch the bottom of the tube to the backing only all the way across. This will help your wall hanging to drape straight down with no bumps.

• Attach your beautiful bees and admire your work!

Hope you enjoy sewing this sweet pattern as much as I did! Happiest Sewing!

**This post is part of the Betz White Sewing Collective series. I am a compensated contributor expressing my own views and opinions.**

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The Sewing Collective: Cluck the Chicken Doorstop Mod and Pattern Review

Cluck Chicken Doorstop betz white

Each year, as the gentle winds blow thru my house, the doors try to “fly the coop” resulting in sudden door slams, smashed fingers and trapped cats. Have you ever observed a cat stuck between a glass door and a screen? Utter hilarity, however, the cat disagrees.

I chose to make my chicken fun and colorful verses a traditional color combo.  You can see Betz’s version below from her book Present Perfect.

The pattern is simple enough that any fabric would work well with this, but I would recommend a good quality fabric since your bird will be sitting on the floor and taking a good amount of wear and tear over the years. I used an organic cotton called Alchemy by Amy Butler for Rowan Fabrics for the main body and wool blend felt from National Wovens. You could even use a lightweight outdoor fabric which is made for heavy wear and is often treated to resist dirt, water and mildew.  Here are some other quick tips that would make sewing your chicken a little easier.

Tip #1: Do a Puff Test
Once all your pieces are cut the next step is to sew the wings. After sewing around the perimeter of your wing, leaving a small opening, I recommend stuffing a very small amount into the wing and then doing a “Puff Test” by sliding it under your presser foot. If it doesn’t fit or you really have to wiggle it under, take a little bit of the stuffing out and try again. Once it fits, go ahead and sew your curved lines into your wings, then stuff a little more into wing to give it some more poof and then sew it closed. This method is a little more forgiving if you happen to over stuff you chicken wing and need to remove some.

Tip #2: Add Quilting
Since your chicken body will be lined with batting I chose to add quilting to my chicken. By adding quilting it will keep your batting from shifting around as you sew your body pieces together, just like in a regular quilt!

I did a simple diamond motif using my 3” ruler as a basic guide to space my lines at 1 1/2” and a water soluble pen. I also recommend a bigger stitch length for your quilting lines. I typically sew using a 2.5 length but for quilting I bump it up to 3.0. You don’t have to do this, but I like how it looks.
Of course you can quilt your chicken how ever you’d like, but if you’d like to do a diamond motif you can use the following method:

Take your ruler and measure how far apart you want your first set of lines to be, angling your ruler enough to make a nice diagonal. I made mine 1 1/2” apart to make it easy. The angle of your ruler doesn’t matter overly much, but you’ll want to slant it enough to make the diamond shape as you come back across.

Cluck Chicken Doorstop betzwhite #5

Once you’ve quilted the first body piece you’ll need to do the same with the second. To match the quilting lines to the second piece I laid my finished piece right side down on top of my ruler. You’ll see that I’ve positioned the ruler to be in line with the quilting.

Then lay your second piece right side up on top of the first, then mark your line spacing at the top and bottom of your chicken before removing your ruler from underneath. This will help give you a good reference point for evenly spacing your lines on the second body. Once you have your reference points, pull your ruler to the top piece, lining it up with your initial markings and continue your lines across the body.

Cluck Chicken Doorstop betzwhite #6

Finish marking and quilting your second piece. For the bottom piece I added straight lines going straight across at 1 1/2” intervals again. Make sure to use a damp wash cloth or towel to “erase” your pen marks when you’re done quilting.

I also decided I was going to make more of a Hen than a Rooster for my doorstop so I opted to not add the Wattle pieces and gave my little Hen some rosey cheeks instead. You can do this before you add the eyes, but I added my cheeks after the eyes were sewn on so I could see how the placement looked.

Cluck Chicken Doorstop betzwhite#7

Once you have your entire chicken sewn and stuffed you’re ready to add your weight. I found a nicely packaged bag of 4 pound decorative sand, though it totally looks like tiny gravel, in my local big box hardware store back by the orchids and tropical plants. I ended up weighing my bird down with the entire 4 pound bag, but the 2 pound recommendation would work well in most situations.

Cluck Chicken Doorstop #8

Tip #3: Truss Your Bird (aka sew it all closed)
When I was ready to sew my chicken closed I found the easiest way to do this was to place the bird upside down in my lap so that its body rested on top of my knees. This kept it from being squashed and prevented me from having to position my needle in an awkward position. It will make for a much easier sewing experience all around and won’t put as much tension on your thread as you pull the seams together.

No one ever said a doorstop should have to look boring and Betz has done a great job of coming up with a fun and very useful creation that would fit into anyone’s home. And remember, if chickens aren’t your thing, you could easily take away the comb and wattle and make a duck or a colorful bird!
You can find this pattern in Betz’s new book Present Perfect.

Happy Sewing!

**This post is part of the Betz White Sewing Collective series. I am a compensated contributor expressing my own views and opinions.**

Unintentional Procrastination

I’ve been working away at my third Sewing Collective guest blog post for nearly 2 months.  It’s been alot of trial and error, but I’ve finally settled on a pretty stellar fabirc/felt combination.  I had everything set up and ready to do some marathon sewing this week only to discover that the felt I have on order is STILL “in transit”.  USPS has managed to ship my package to Cincinnati three times and Detroit once.  I don’t even know how it has been wrongly sorted that many times between 4 separate PO locations.

In the meantime, there’s a little bit that I can do on this pattern without the felt which means I’ll have less to complete once it does arrive.  I have no doubt that it will get to my door by week’s end (it’d better….) because it’s frustrating when you’ve been waiting for 3 measly sheets of felt for two weeks and it’s the last thing you need to finish a project that’s has a definite deadline.

The Sewing Collective: Tagalong Teddy Mod and Pattern Review

A month ago I debuted my pattern mod for the Tagalong Teddy pattern, found in Betz’s book, Present Perfect.  I immediately knew that I wanted to modify this particular pattern into another equally cuddly animal, a cat.

Tagalong Mod #10

This pattern is wonderfully simple in construction.  It would be a great jumping off point for any beginning sewer who is eager to try their hand at making a stuffed animal. I’d even recommend this pattern to any mom or dad who is looking to teach a younger son or daughter how to read pattern instructions and sew it all together. It’s that fun and simple.

When I made “Jack” (every stuffed animal needs a name, right?) I opted to use polar fleece for his body instead of using a cotton terry knit or Minky fabric.  I like polar fleece for several reasons, but mainly because it has a modest amount of stretch and it hides stitches well.

Tagalong Mod #1

If you decide to use polar fleece instead of the recommended fabrics (terry cloth or minky), you’ll want to make sure you cut your fleece body pieces a  ¼” larger than the pattern piece to accommodate for the added thickness.

To make cat ears I sketched out a triangle on some extra tracing paper at about 2 ¾ “ wide and 2 ½ “ tall.  I used this pattern to cut both the ears and the ear applique pieces out.

Once all my pieces were cut out I decided to use the leg of an old set of flannel pajama bottoms for my Cat applique pieces. Tip:  If you use old pajamas, like I did, make sure that all the fabric softener has been washed out before using it in your project.  This will help the fusible webbing stick and not peel away.  It’s also good to mark what the front and back of your flannel looks like to keep your appliques looking consistent.  I noticed the front/exterior of the flannel had a fuzzier texture than the interior.

Tagalong Mod #2

I chose to cut a long rectangle out of my pajama leg and then fuse a smaller piece of webbing to the backside before cutting each of my pattern pieces out.  I did the same for any felt that needed to be fused on as well.  I did not cut these pieces any larger than the paper pattern.

Instead of blanket stitching around the tummy piece I chose to use a satin stitch.  The addition of the webbing on the back of the flannel will act as a stabilizer to keep the satin stitch from bunching the fabric.

Tagalong Mod #3

Tip: If you decide to do a blanket stitch around the tummy piece please note your flannel will fray some around the edges.  If you don’t like that kind of look feel free to add a small amount of Fray Check around the outer edge to help prevent this.

For the Cat’s tail I did a rough sketch onto the paper of the fusible webbing, fused it to my flannel then to the back of a body piece and then satin stitched around it.  My tail measured 3 ½ “ wide by 6 ½ “ tall.

Tagalong Mod #4

The face was simply a matter of adding some whiskers and lowering the nose placement to make a handsome cat face.  Changing up the eye color and stitching around the pupils also added a bit of animation.

Tagalong Mod #5

I added two little hearts on either side of the jacket and used a tiny bit of fray check to keep the edges tidy.  If you wanted you could fuse the hearts to the felt instead and blanket stitch around them.

Tagalong Mod #8

 The joy of this pattern is the ease at which the basic shape of the teddy can be turned into a completely new animal with simple details.  Imagine an orange tiger with stripes or a colorful pink panda made out of Minky!

What animal would you make or do you love your teddy bears?

Happy Sewing!

**This post is part of the Betz White Sewing Collective series. I am a compensated contributor expressing my own views and opinions.**

The Latest Buzz

I’ve put off quilting the Hexie quilt for now in lieu of something a little less taxing.

This is from one of Betz White’s patterns called The Sweet Life pillow.  It uses reverse applique to make the bee pop out and I am really digging how this is coming together.

I am not, however, very fond of my first fabric/felt color combo (you can see it peeking out in the upper left hand corner).  I decided on trying a darker combo to see if it turned out an better.  I like it, but I’m not sure if it’s “the one”.

We’ll see.  I don’t have that many felt color options in my stash so I’m trying to work with what I have and right now I have alot of this mustard yellow.  I do really love the Persimmon by Basic Grey fabric collection.  I will probably end up taking the yellow and dark blue bee with me to my fabric shop and match its coloring with more of the same line to see if there are any other color combos I can pull off.

This will eventually end up becoming part of my Secret Project #3 for the Sewing Collective!

Betz White Sewing Collective

Woohoo! I have some fabulous news for you all!

I have been invited to participate in a Sewing Collective for the amazing Betz White. Yay!  This year long project includes nine other talented and fun crafty bloggers and I couldn’t be more thrilled (or even a little in awe) to be sewing along side them.

What’s a sewing collective?  Each of us have picked out a variety of patterns, designed by Betz, to showcase a modification or technique.  Each guest blogger will be showcased every Friday over on her blog starting March 6th!   Most of my project selections can be found in her newest book Present Perfect with one extra holiday ornament pattern thrown in for good measure.

I’ll be writing my guest posts over on her blog on these dates for these patterns:

April 17th: Tagalong Teddy from Present Perfect

May 1st: Cluck the Chicken Doorstop from Present Perfect

July 17th: Sweet Life Pillow from Present Perfect

September 18th: Make & Bake Apron from Present Perfect

November 20th: Winter Bloom ornament from Betz’s Holiday Collection

For now I have to keep all my modifications under wraps until my guest post is published, but you can catch hints of what I’m working on over on Instagram ^_~

Hope you’ll join us for lots of fun, crafty inspiration and maybe even make a few friends along the way.

Happy Sewing!