Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I've been so restless lately, wanting to try new things - things like block and screen printing, sewing with waxed canvas, as well as trying my hand at using leather in my pouch making. And, I have not been that successful, I must admit :(. I keep reminding myself learning new skills takes time, and patience, and practice, and letting myself fail, but all that is so much easier said than done.

So, today I decided to disregard all the many shapeless pouches and ruined fabric in the corner of my sewing room and concentrate on what is going quite well. 

♥ ♥ ♥   block printing   ♥ ♥ ♥

I enjoy the whole process a lot, and I absolutely love carving my own geometric stamps. I love that I don't need to be "artsy" or to know how to draw, yet I can still print my own design on fabric.

Actually, the design on the pillow above is not really mine, it's based on the one Krista shares in her fantastic new book Beyond Cotton. Have you seen it? It's such a great resource and my very favorite book at the moment.

I've been on a mission to replace older, way too colorful pillows in our family room with more "grown-up" ones for quite some time now, and this morning it was my very favorite granny square one's turn. Quite a change, isn't it?

Here's the back. I installed a zipper closure (tutorial here) and bound edges the way I would a quilt. Super easy and functional.

Do you remember this pillow I made a while back also using my printed fabric? I loved Margaret's idea of adding some stitching to the pillow so I decided to go for it.

What do you think? I quite like the way it looks.

Oh, I feel so much better now, thanks for listening. I might even give that pesky leather another try this afternoon :).


Friday, November 20, 2015

pattern sale

Brrr!!! Our beautiful autumn weather has suddenly turned super cold and windy and we're even expecting some snow over the weekend. I'm not too disappointed, though. I figured the uglier and colder it is outside, the more time I can spend at my sewing machine :). Which is a wonderful thing, since my to do list is a mile long.

And, I thought this would be a good time to share a discount coupon with all of you in case you'd like to give some pouch or bag sewing a go this weekend.

Simply type SNOW15 ***UPDATE*** new coupon code is SNOW2015 during checkout in my Etsy shop and a 20% discount will be applied to ALL my pdf patterns (discount code is valid through Monday, Nov. 23rd ). Enjoy!

Wishing you all a super cozy weekend. Svetlana

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

tomte + advent calendar

Scandinavian Stitches, a super adorable book by amazingly talented Kajsa (syko), was among the very first books I bought when I started sewing a few years back. It's full of happy, whimsical seasonal projects and I've had my eye on tomte - scandinavian elf right from the beginning. Somehow though, I never got around to making one. Until now, that is.

Isn't he the sweetest? We named him Cloud. Yes, we do name pretty much everything in our house :). A great big thank you goes to super talented Mary for inspiring me to finally make this cutie after seeing Mary make hers on IG.

Oh, and see that advent calendar behind Cloud? This was yet another project on my list for a very long time. And it's done now, ready to be filled up with goodies soon, yay!

I didn't follow a pattern to make it, it was one of those making it up as I go projects and I do quite like how it all turned out. 

And, because I know somebody will ask, I used this calendar fabric for my numbers and fused them to pockets before stitching them on. Easy peasy. 

Also, here's the link to tiny trees garland, and Christmas quilt  in case you're interested. 

So, tell me. Are you doing any Christmas sewing yet?


Monday, November 16, 2015

backing quilts with minky

You've probably noticed I am a huge fan of using minky to back my quilts. We live in a Chicago suburb and winters here are loooong and super cold. And minky is gorgeously soft and warm which makes it a perfect backing for most of our "everyday" quilts. In fact, minky backed quilts are pretty much the only quilts my kids like to snuggle in.

Every time I talk about using minky to back my quilts I receive quite a few questions about my experience sewing with it so, as promised, I'll try to answer as many of them as I can in this post. Ready? Here we go.

Let me start by saying I buy all my minky at a nearby Joann store. Now, their selection isn't ginormous by any stretch of imagination, but I always manage to find something to match my quilt top and that's good enough for me, since the quality is great and the price very reasonable.

I backed many quilts with minky over the years - lots of baby quilts, but also many throw sized ones as well. Largest quilts I backed with minky were three 70" square ones for my kids and I think this was about the largest size I'd want to go.

I really like that most minky fabrics are about 60" wide so many times there's no need to piece my backings. If, however, your quilt is wider than 60", you have to pay attention to minky's nap and make sure all your minky's fabric pile points in the same direction. It will help with hiding your seam.

When making a quilt sandwich, I use minky for backing, batting (usually Warm and White or Warm and Natural) goes in the middle, and patchwork on top. I don't prewash my fabric, batting, or minky  and I have not had any issues with shrinkage so far.

 I glue baste all my quilts, even the minky backed ones. My main advice would be not to be stingy with your glue spray. You need quite a lot of it (I spray both wrong side of minky as well as batting so the two layers stick together well). And, the same goes for pins. If you use pins, use a lot of them. I'd say overbasting is a good thing when it comes to minky backed quilts :).

 I personally would not recommend doing any intricate quilting on a minky backed quilt. I think these quilts benefit from sparer quilting which keeps them beautifully soft  and gives the finished quilt a fantastic drape.

 And, you can free motion quilt minky as well. I did a continuous eight pattern one time and it worked just fine. My eights were not perfect but it was not because of minky, it's because I don't practice FMQ :(.

  Good thing to remember though is that a quilt backed with minky is heavier than your usual quilt which means you probably would feel more of a "drag" when quilting it. So be ready for a bit of a workout :). I tried something new recently and I flipped the quilt minky side up while quilting it. It worked amazingly well, no drag or anything. This method, of course, only works for quilting where you don't need to see your top patchwork.

I use a 90/14 needle and my usual Guttermann thread when quilting this type of quilt. And, I lengthen my stitch to almost 4 on my Juki sewing machine (I usually have it set to 3 when quilting a regular quilt).

I've read somewhere that one should never ever iron minky. Sometimes though minky gets all wrinkly, so I tried setting my iron on nylon setting and press gently on minky's wrong side. I'm happy to say it worked well and all the creases were smoothed out. I wouldn't recommend you do it on embossed or dimpled minky though.

Well, I guess that's it for now. I hope you will give minky a try next time you want to make a super soft and snugly quilt. You won't be disappointed.

Wishing you all a fantastic week. Svetlana

Thursday, November 12, 2015

color block pouch {a free tutorial}

Hi everyone, I have a fun tutorial for a Color Block pouch for you today. 

Ready? Here we go.

Finished size: 8" wide x 4.5" tall

- use 1/4" seam allowance unless otherwise noted

- light to mid- weight quilting fabric is recommended for both exterior and lining

- make sure your printer is set to “actual size” when printing your template (page scaling is set to “none”). Do not select “shrink to fit” as that would result in your template being printed incorrectly.
Your will need: 
A,B, and C templates (click here)
three different fabrics for front exterior panel: about 9" x 6" each
fabric for back exterior panel + zipper tab: 10" x 6" 
lining fabric: 9" x 12"
medium weight fusible interfacing (I used SF101): 18" square
2" long ribbon for tab
7" long metal or nylon zipper
zipper pull (optional)

zipper foot for your sewing machine

1. Cutting
front exterior panel fabrics cut: three panels using provided templates A, B, and C
back exterior panel fabric cut: one 8.5" wide x 5" tall rectangle for back panel
                                               one 1.25" x 2" rectangle for zipper tab
lining fabric cut: two 8.5" wide x 5" tall lining panels
interfacing cut: four 8.5" wide x 5" tall rectangles
2. Front exterior panel
a) Assemble front exterior panel by first stitching panels B and C together (use template markings to ensure you're joining correct edges). Press the seam open. 

b) Attach panel A to assembled B+ C panels. Press the seam open. If needed, trim your front exterior panel to 8.5" wide x 5" tall.
3. Interfacing
Adhere fusible interfacing to wrong sides of both front and back exterior panels as well as both lining panels. 
4. Zipper
a) Press zipper tab in half, wrong sides together (bring 1.25" sides together), open the tab and press raw ends towards the center. Fold in half again, raw edges are hidden inside, press (your zipper tab will now measure 0.5" x 1.25"). 

b) Trim zipper tape on closed end of zipper to measure 0.5". Place zipper tape inside the tab (zipper tape edge is touching middle fold of tab). Pin tab to zipper tape and sew in place using 1/8" seam allowance, making sure to avoid metal zipper end.

c) Bend zipper tape on open end of zipper at 45 degree angle towards wrong side of zipper tape. Baste within seam allowance either by hand or by machine to secure in place. Trim off extra zipper tape.

5. Assembly
a) Center zipper right side down (zipper pull is on the left side) along the top raw edge of front exterior panel. Align zipper tape with the edge, pin to hold in place. Baste using 1/8" seam allowance taking the pins out as you go.

b) Place lining right side up on a flat surface. Place exterior with basted zipper right side down on top. Align all the edges and pin along the top edge (zipper is sandwiched in between the two layers). Stitch along the top pinned edge taking the pins out as you go. Use the edge of your zipper foot as a guide to make sure your stitching is as straight as possible.

c) Press exterior panel away from zipper. Topstitch along exterior seam using 1/8" seam allowance. 

d) Fold ribbon in half, baste it to front exterior's right edge about 1" from top seam.

e) Now flip lining away from zipper as well, lining and exterior panels are wrong sides together. Press.

f) Place second exterior panel right side down on a flat surface. Put the zipper + front exterior and lining from previous step on top- right sides together. Align top raw edge of exterior with zipper tape. Pin and bast along the top edge using 1/8" seam allowance.

g) Place second lining right side up on a flat surface. Put the pouch from previous step lining side down. Align top raw edges, pin, and stitch along the top edge.

h) Press back exterior panel away from zipper and topstitch using 1/8" seam allowance. Flip lining away from zipper, lining and back exterior panel are wrong sides together. Press.

i) Open zipper about half way, align exterior panels on top of each other and lining on top of each other as well. Pin/ clip all the way around. Sew all the way around the edges making sure to leave about 4" opening in the lining's bottom seam for turning. Press the seam open and clip corners.

j) Turn the pouch right side out through the opening in the lining. Stitch the lining closed. Push lining gently into the pouch, give it one final press, remove all the stray thread, add a zipper pull if you wish, and you're finished.

Congratulations!!! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

And, as always, if you make a project using any of my tutorials please add it to my Flickr group. I love seeing all your amazing creations.


Monday, November 9, 2015

block printed pillow

Hello, happy Monday to you all!

I'm sure you won't be too surprised if I tell you I've been doing more block printing over the weekend, right? Yep, I'm completely, totally addicted. It was not all about printing, though. I did a little bit of sewing too.

 See? A new pillow for our family room. 

Made with my own printed fabric :). I still can't believe I actually took a plunge and gave fabric printing a try. It really isn't as scary as it might seem at first. Plus, I keep telling myself I have tons of fabric at home anyway, so if I mess up a few fat quarters in the process it's not the end of the world. And the results are totally worth it.

I wanted this pillow to have that simple, clean, modern look so I used yarn dyed Essex linen in black for the back and attached an invisible zipper for easy removal. I think it worked :).

Pillow cover finished at 16" square and I stuffed it with an 18" pillow form to make it all nicely puffed up and squishy.

Wishing you all a great week. Svetlana

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

block printing + pouch making

Yes, the title pretty much sums it all. It's all about block printing on fabric with me these days. And, since a lot of you expressed interest in knowing what supplies I'm using I thought I'd share some of what I've learned by reading tons of online tutorials and from my own (so far very limited) experience.

As you can see, my collection of hand carved stamps is growing quite nicely. I'm using the very common Speedball no.1 lino cutter with 5 attachments for my carving. 

So far I tried two carving  materials - Speedy-Carve (the pink stamps) and Speedy-Cut (whitish stamps), both by Speedball. Speedy-Cut is a cheaper material, softer, and easier to cut, but I think Speedy-Carve stamps will be more durable. I can't tell that for sure though, only time will tell.

I also bought two kinds of water based block printing inks, one by Speedball, one by Blick. So far I like the Blick one better simply because it does not have that paint odor. I think I'll try to wash them to see how they both hold up.

This laundry drying rack is perfect for keeping my freshly printed panels from getting smudged. And, I can fold it flat and store it out of the way when not in use. 

It's not all about printing though, I'm super happy about turning this printed panel into a small pouch. Pretty fun, isn't it?

I even stamped my name and sewed it into lining. Such fun!!! There will definitely be a lot more simple pouch making in the next few days.

Now, if you'd like to learn more about stamp carving and block printing, you can check out my Pinterest board. I've been pinning like a maniac lately and you can find tons of very useful information and inspiration there.

Also, you can click here for a great video tutorial on how to carve your own stamp.

 Have a lovely day, everyone. Svetlana

Monday, November 2, 2015

two in one pouches

I have six nephews and nieces and the other day I decided I would make Two in One pouches for each of them for Christmas. And you know what? I did an assembly line marathon sewing on Friday night and a little bit of finishing on Saturday morning and all six of my pouches are done, yay!!

They were super fun to make and I loved pairing adorable novelty prints with colored zippers. I can't even believe I actually had all these zippers on hand. It totally paid off to be a zipper hoarder for once :).

The whole process of making all pouches at once went quite smoothly with me doing each step for every pouch before moving on to the next step.

I started questioning my sanity though when it came to pressing and attaching 24 zipper tabs. I really wished I didn't have to do them, but I knew they'd make a great difference to the final look. And, I think it was time well spent as I adore these beautifully finished zippers.

I got to use more pretty prints for the inside of the pouches. I think next time I'm making these pouches I'll add a few slip pockets to the inside as well. Don't you just love how easy it is to customize pouches to fit one's needs and likes?

Finished size of these pouches is 4 ½” tall x 8 ¼” wide x 1” deep and I used my own pattern to make them (available for purchase here).

Now just to fill them up with lots of little goodies and they'll be good to go.

I can't believe it's only beginning of November and I'm already working on Christmas gifts. Let's hope all this motivation lasts a while and I avoid frantic last minute Christmas sewing this year :).

Have you started any Christmas sewing yet? Svetlana

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