quilted placemat: tutorial

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When my friends get married, one of my favourite gifts to make and give is a set of placemats and napkins. In this simple modern design, I love how the alternating parallel quilting lines create subtle puffy chevrons. The finished placemats are soft, flexible, and fully machine washable.

Here’s how I did it.

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For each placemat, cut the following pieces.

Main color (grey):
18″ x 2.25″
18″ x 10.75″

Contrast color 1 (blue):
14″ x 1.5″
10.75″ x 1.5″
2.25″ x 1.5″

Contrast color 2 (mustard):
18″ x 2″
1.5″ x 2″

Back (blue): 14″ x 19″

Binding (blue): 2.25″ x 68″ (can be joined from smaller strips, directions to follow).

Batting: 14″ x 19″ thin cotton or bamboo batting.

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Sew the 18″ x 2″ mustard strip to the 18″ x 2.25″ grey strip and the 18″ x 10.75″ grey piece, using 1/4″ seams. Press seams open.

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With the mustard strip at the top, cut two strips from the left hand edge of the whole piece, 1.75″ and 1.5″ wide.

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Stitch the 2″ x 1.5″ mustard piece to the 2.25″ x 1.5″ blue piece and the 10.75″ x 1.5″ blue piece, using 1/4″ seams. Press seams open.

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Arrange the pieces as shown.

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Stitch together with 1/4″ seams. Press seams open. This completes the piecing of the top.

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Sandwich the thin batting between the pieced top, and the backing fabric, lining up all edges. Secure with about 20 safety pins through all layers.

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Starting next to the inner stripe, quilt with parallel lines about 1/3″ apart, removing the safety pins as you go. At the end of each line of stitching, rotate the placemat 180 degrees before sewing the next line.

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Also quilt at 90°, along the mustard stripe. Trim the quilted placemat to measure 18″ x 13″.

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To make a long enough strip for the binding, stitch sections at a 45° angle as shown, using a 1/4″ seam. Press seams open.

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On one long edge of the placemat, with back facing up, mark a gap 12″ long with two pairs of pins.

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Leaving about an 8″ tail, begin stitching the binding strip to the placemat at the left hand set of pins, using a 3/8″ seam.

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As you approach the corner, mark a dot 3/8″ from both the bottom of the side. You will stop stitching at this point.

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Backstitch at an angle away from the dot, off the bottom edge.

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Gently fold the binding straight upward forming a 45 degree fold.

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Fold the binding back down, with the binding’s raw edges aligned with the edge of the placemat. Start sewing again at the fold. Continue around all edges, using the same method at each corner, until you arrive at the ‘ending’ pins. Backstitch.

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Lay the loose tail of the start of the binding flat against the placemat’s edge. Cut the end of the binding strip at a 45° angle so that it generously overlaps the start of the strip. Mark the same angle on the starter strip below.

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Make a second mark, half an inch closer to the cut edge. Cut along this second mark.

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Hold the start and end of the binding strip as shown, creating a 45° angle. Stitch with a 1/4″ seam.

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Press seam open, and finish stitching the binding to the placemat.

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Press binding to the front of the placemat.

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Unfold, and press in half so that the edge of the binding is just shy of the edge of the placemat.

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Fold back over the placemat, and pin, mitering the corners as you go.

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Stitch around the binding with the top of the placemat uppermost, angling the stitches along the mitered corners as you come to them.

Repeat for remaining placemats. To make matching napkins, cut fabric 18″ square and hem all four edges with a narrow hem.

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some recent makes

Time for a catchup on some things I’ve been making in my little beehive. First up: boy stuff! I am lucky to have four boys aged five and under in my family; sewing for them is a joy.

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Construction vests. I was channelling Emmet from the Lego movie in my choice of colours. The helmet is not a toy; it’s actually SEI certified! I now have a lot of neon orange utility fabric left over. Any ideas what to make with it?

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A layered-look pirate shirt. Inspiration found here.

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Batman caps and masks for a birthday party. Sixteen each, in sizes from baby to adult.

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Another paper cut portrait; this one’s my grandson Corey. Made as a birthday gift for his mum, my eldest daughter.

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For The Guy’s birthday, I made him a toiletries bag from fabric that I waxed myself. Oh man, making that cloth is a story unto itself. WAAY more work (and expense) than buying some waxed canvas on Etsy. But I’m kind of stubborn like that.

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And for myself, a tailor’s ham, stuffed with sawdust. If you’re going to make one of these, wear a mask while stuffing it. Ask me how I know.

february makes

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My dear friend Lola loves the smell of lavender, so I made her a set of sachets for her birthday. (Quite a few ladies got these for Christmas, too.) Simple and sweet, with a loop long enough for a clothes hanger if so desired.

Cali_three_dresses

Cali_grey_jacket

And then Miss Cali Hashi turned two, prompting a trio of jersey dresses and a little Aster Cardigan to go with them all.

Felix_alien_shirt

Cali_alien_dress

When I heard she was having an alien/space birthday party, I whipped up a tshirt for her brother Felix to wear at the celebration. But why should he be the only one in alien garb? Cali obviously needed yet another dress, to match the birthday theme.

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Then there was some very utilitarian sewing: blackout curtains and a ‘cozy’ for the electric saw. Projects like this aren’t exactly thrilling, but still provide their own satisfaction.

Coming up in March: Sew The Perfect Fit with Lynda Maynard on Craftsy. Wish me luck.

january makes

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It’s been more than a year since my last papercut portrait. They are somewhat time-consuming and hard on the hand, but I absolutely love the result. I swiped a favourite pic off Rhea’s instagram feed and made this as a birthday gift for her. The one I made for the Guy was three colours (not including the background); this one is four. I like the extra detail that the fourth tone allows.

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The Guy and I leave notes to each other daily, as we keep very different circadian cycles. We’ve nearly filled an 80 page sketchbook, so I made another to have ready. Unlike the Christmas journals which were case bound, this one employs coptic stitch. I really enjoy book binding; it combines my loves of paper and sewing, and the finished product is tactile, useful, and beautiful. Can’t wait to start using this.

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And of course, there was sewing. Inspired by this tutorial, I made a chess set for a favourite soon-to-be-9 yr old. I bought the bottle caps on ebay, and drew the icons with an ultra fine sharpie before sealing them with polymer medium. I made small and medium-sized drawstring bags; one for the bottle caps, another to hold the whole shebang, folded up.

There was a lot more gift-making in January, but reveals will have to wait until the recipients open them. And there was a big fat shirt-making fail, but I’ll post those pictures another day, hopefully when I actually have success with garment-fitting.

not much to show for all my elving

I’d been planning a blog reveal of the handmade Christmas gifts, but the photos are crap. Hastily taken, unstyled, out of focus. I’m a bit bummed, actually. I knew I needed to allocate time and attention to the photography, but I just didn’t.

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cali_shorts_tshirt

These are the best shots, and they are hardly blog-worthy. A little pinny for Cali (aged 2) and some garments to wear under it, or separately, depending on the weather. As for the rest, you’ll just have to believe me.

All the toddlers got clothes, and many of the women got lavender sachets. Two loved ones received handmade journals. And for The Guy and me, I made some stadium cushions, so our bums can be comfy when we go to the Bowl or Theatricum.

I really enjoyed the making; I spread it out over many weeks and didn’t stress too much about it. And, as always happens, the process fired me up for yet more sewing and crafting. I loved the bookbinding projects, and see many more in my future.

I’m thinking of taking on the Colette Pattern of the Month, even though January’s pattern, the Violet shirt, isn’t really my style, and fitting patterns to my unique body shape drives me crazy.

What about you? Did the holidays leave you creatively exhausted, or energized? What projects do you have coming up? Inspire me!

weighted blanket: tutorial

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Weighted blankets are beloved by those with sensory issues, anxiety, joint pain, and folks on the autism spectrum. They are expensive to buy, but pretty simple to make.

The finished blanket should be not too much bigger than the person, otherwise most of the weight will be on the bed, not on their body. The total weight of the blanket (including the fabric) should not exceed 15% of the user’s weight. For a small child, 10% is better. (A child should not be left unattended with a weighted blanket, and should be able to remove the blanket herself without help. It must never be placed over the face. Please use your common sense if you make this item.)

Here’s how I made an adult-sized blanket for a friend who suffers from joint pain. My friend is 5’2″ and weighs 148lb. The blanket measures almost 4 feet by 6 feet, and ended up weighing 24lb, which is a bit more than 15% of her weight.

Note: wrangling 24 lbs of blanket is a workout. You will not need to go to the gym on the day you sew this.

I used:

• 19lb weighted poly pellets (like these)

• 4 yards of corduroy for the outer cover

• A canvas drop cloth from a hardware store for the internal bags of pellets. It wasn’t quite enough fabric to complete all the bags, so I used a heavyweight cotton tablecloth for the last few. All up, you’ll need about 4 yards of heavyweight fabric. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, because it will be completely enclosed in the finished blanket.

• Strong sewing machine needles. I went through four needles making this blanket, so have spares on hand.

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Cut 128 rectangles measuring 5.75″ x 8.75″ from the canvas.

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Take two rectangles, and stitch along three sides, using a 1/2″ seam allowance. No need to backstitch at the ends.

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Do not turn right side out! Leave it with the seams on the outside, and fill it with 1 cup of poly pellets.

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Stitch the bag closed with a half inch seam allowance. Be careful to shake all the pellets away from the sewing line. They will break your needle if you stitch on them!

Repeat for the remaining 63 bags.

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Pin two bags with a long edge overlapping. The edge of one bag should line up with the stitching line in the next.

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Join with a zig zag stitch. Repeat till you have a row of eight bags joined together.

Then make seven more rows, ending up with eight rows of eight bags. Have a rest for a while.

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Cut two pieces of corduroy 48″ x 72″. With wrong sides together, zig zag the two pieces together along one short edge. Open so that the fabric lies flat on the floor, right side down.

Lay one row of pellet bags about 3″ from your zig zagged seam, and centered left to right. Smooth everything out, then close the corduroy back over the pellet bags, enclosing them.

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Pin through the half-inch seam allowance at the top and sides of the row of pellet bags, catching both front and back corduroy pieces.

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Stitch through all layers, parallel to the short edge, with a slightly lengthened straight stitch. Don’t stitch all the way to the edges of the corduroy; stitch only the length of the pellet bags.

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Lay a second row of pellet bags inside the corduroy ‘sandwich’, overlapping seam allowances with the row above. The edge of the second row should line up with the stiching line on the first row of bags. Flap the corduroy closed again, smooth everything out, and pin through all layers along the overlapped seam allowances.

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Stitch along this line, parallel with your first line. (Note, the pins along the side are just there to help keep the layers straight. You do not stitch along the sides at this point.)

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Continue in this manner, adding rows of bags and stitching through all layers. You will need to roll the unfilled side of the blanket and keep it to your right as you sew. The more rows you add, the heavier and more cumbersome the blanket becomes. Go slow and steady, taking stretch breaks as needed!

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When all eight rows have been stitched into place, sew down the left and right sides, catching those bag seam allowances.

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Trim the blanket to 2″ wider than the outer stitch lines.

Mitred corners are my #happyplace

Turn each edge under, creating a border 1″ wide. Top stitch close to the edge all the way around, mitering the corners as you go.

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So happy with my new labels from the Twill Tape Guy. #365gratitude_hashimaree

Attach your label! You’re done!

This blue blanket weighs 24 lb/11kg! I could say I'm grateful for the opportunity to make this for my friend, but mostly I'm glad it's done! What a workout, wrangling it through my sewing machine!

After three nights under this blanket, my friend reported: “I have been sleeping just so well, I couldn’t have anticipated such a difference. It’s been magical!” Hmm, maybe I need a magical blanket for myself!

simple floor mat: tutorial

Here’s a super simple bath mat that can be customized for your recipient. It’s even — gasp — suitable to give a guy.

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Better yet, all it takes is a towel from the sale bin, plus a yard and a half of flannel, to make TWO.

Note: If you wish to share this tutorial, please repost one photo and link back to this original post. Do not repost the entire text and pictures. Thank you!

Wash and dry your towel and fabric on high settings, to get maximum shrinkage.

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If your towel has woven band near the ends, you’ll see how much it shrinks! Cut off the bands, then cut the remaining towel in half. Cut flannel the same size as your towel pieces, then pin one piece of each right sides together.

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With a good half inch seam allowance, stitch around the edge, leaving about 8″ unstitched in the middle of one long side. Tip: to avoid accidentally sewing the gap closed, mark start and finish points with two pins.

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If you want to, round the corners as you sew, then trim the fabric back to match the rest of your seam allowance. If not, clip your corners. Turn right side out.

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Version 1: stand on the mat and trace around your feet with chalk or a soluble marker.

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Using six strands of embroidery thread, outline the feet in running stitch. To start, knot the end of the thread then insert the needle between the two layers, through the still-open gap. This way the knot will be in the inside of the mat. Finish off in the same way.

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Version 2: with chalk or soluble marker, draw lines at the quarter, half, and three-quarter marks, going from top to bottom of the mat. Thread a needle with strong thread (I used Coats Button and Carpet thread).

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Sew a row of running stitch along each line. Again, place your start and finish knots on the inside of the mat, between the two layers.

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Close the opening with ladder stitch.

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Optional: increase your stitch length and top stitch all around.

Then vacuum your floor and sewing machine to get rid of all the toweling fuzz!

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divided clutch coupon wallet: tutorial

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I’m not a big coupon cutter, but I do like to use the discounts at Joann and Ralphs, the two stores at which I spent the most money, it seems. They mail me coupons which I stuff in an envelope in my handbag. But with all the other crap in there, the envelope gets torn and ratty pretty fast. So I decided to make myself a little wallet/clutch thingy, divided into two sections, for stowing these useful bits of paper.

Want to make one too? Here’s how.

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You’ll need …

For the outside and lining: 2 pieces 12-1/2″ x 9″

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For the divider: 1 piece 8″ x 8-1/2″
For the accordion folds: 2 pieces 8-1/2″ x 3″

You’ll also need:
Very heavy duty fusible interfacing: 1 piece 8″ x 4″ and 1 piece 12″ x 8-1/2″
About 40″ bias binding
Snap fasteners

1/4″ seams are used throughout.

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Fold the divider piece in half so it measures 8″ x 4-1/4″. Using the fold line as a guide, fuse your smaller piece of interfacing to one half, butting up against the fold.

Fold the fabric right sides together, and stitch the long edge with a 1/4″ seam, right at the edge of the interfacing.

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Turn right side out and press well.

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Center the larger piece of interfacing on your outside piece of fabric. Fuse. Place right sides together with the lining, and stitch along one short edge.

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Turn right sides out, and press well.

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Take one of your accordion pieces, and fold right sides together so it measures 4-1/4″ x 3″. Stitch along short edge. Turn right sides out, and press well.

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Fold in half lengthwise so it measures 4″ x 1-1/2″. Press well. Repeat with remaining accordion piece

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Sandwich one end of the divider into the fold of one accordion piece.

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Stitch 1/4″ from edge. Repeat at other end of divider with remaining accordion piece.

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Place the outer piece with lining side up. Place the divider on top, lining up one of the loose accordion flaps with the side edge, right at the folded edge of the outer piece.

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Zig zag to secure.

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Measure one inch from edge of divider, and make a mark on the lining at side edge. The bottom of the other flap of this accordion piece will line up with this mark.

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Line up the edges of the lining and flap as shown. Pin, then zig zag to secure. Repeat with the other side of the divider, attaching the flaps to the edge of the outer piece.

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With the outside facing up, check to see if your outer fabric and lining fabric still align. If not, trim back the lining to match the outer.

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Using a suitable round object (I used my lens cap), trace curves onto the corners of the flap, then cut them.

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Zig zag around this edge to keep the layers together.

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Starting at the front edge on the accordion side, attach the bias binding. Allow the binding to extend past the edge by 1/2″. Stitch slowly; getting round the bottom curves is tricky. When you get to the end on the other edge of the front, cut the binding about 1/2″ longer than your sewn seam.

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Fold the binding to the outside; press.

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Slip stitch the binding to the outside of the wallet, tucking in the start and finish ends as you go. If you want to attempt this step on the machine, go for it. I just knew I’d get a nicer finish if I hand stitched it.

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Attach one or two snap fasteners, sewing only through the top layer of fabric and interfacing.

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You’re done!

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mini tissue holder: tutorial

fancy tissue holder

I know there’s really quick and easy ways to make mini tissue holders for your purse. This is not one of those tutorials. This is a slower method that requires piecing and a bit of hand stitching. Think of it as the Coco Chanel of tissue holders. OK, maybe that’s going too far. But it does have boxed corners! If you’re looking to make something a bit special, this could be the ticket.

Note: If you wish to share this tutorial, please repost one photo and link back to this original post. Do not repost the entire text and pictures. Thank you!

materials

You’ll need:
Main fabric
2 pieces 6″ x 3-1/8″
Contrasting fabric
2 pieces 6-1/4″ x 3/4″ and
1 piece 6″ x 1″
Lining fabric
1 piece 6-1/2″ x 6-1/4″
Also
Mini hair elastic
Small button with shank
Needle and matching thread
Sewing machine

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Using 1/4″ seams throughout, stitch the main fabric pieces onto either side of the 1″ wide contrasting strip. Press seams open. Stitch the 3/4″ wide contrasting strips to each end, as shown. Press seams open.

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With a needle and thread, pierce the hair elastic in two places, close together, to create a pinch. Stitch through again, to hold the pinch tight.

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Hand sew the elastic to the very edge of the pieced fabric, half way down one side, facing inwards towards the crosswise stripe. Secure with a couple of stitches.

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Place the pieced fabric and the lining fabric right sides together, and sew around the edge, leaving a 2-3″ gap in the middle of one long edge. Backstitch a few times over the hair elastic as you pass it.

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Don’t clip the corners! Turn the whole thing right side out, using this method for getting nice sharp corners.

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Ladder stitch the opening closed. Press.

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With the lining side out, fold the edges to meet in the middle.

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Check that your stripe is lining up with itself nicely. Press the two folds.

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Now we’re going to box the corners. Pick one of the four places where your newly pressed fold marks hit the edge. Create a point there by folding down the fabric on each side of the fold. With a soluble marker, draw a line perpendicular to the original fold mark, 3/8″ down from the point. Stitch along this line. Repeat for the remaining three corners.

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You’ll now have something that looks a bit like a boat. Turn right side out.

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The side seam will be formed by holding the ends of your contrasting strips together, and bringing them down to meet the edge.

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Ladder stitch the side seam closed on each side.

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You’re almost done!

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Ladder stitch about 1″ of each end of the opening, so it doesn’t gape so much. Sew on your button.

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Add a mini packet of tissues. Admire your work. Gesundheit!

embroidered flour sack kitchen towels: tutorial

Teatowel tag

Lots of my loved ones received this Christmas gift: a set of two embroidered flour sack tea towels. I thought you might like a tutorial for this easy project.

Note: If you wish to share this tutorial, please repost one photo and link back to this original post. Do not repost the entire text and pictures. Thank you!

embroidered flour sack tea towels

Start with purchased, unadorned, flour sack kitchen towels. (I got sets of four at Target.) Wash and dry them on high settings, to gain maximum shrinkage. Unstitch the hem over the labels, and discard the labels. Iron the towel, stretching it out as you go.

embroidered flour sack tea towels

Draw a line parallel to the selvedge with a disappearing marker. I did mine 1.75″ from the edge, because it seemed a pleasing distance and that was where the previous label had been. Unstitch a little of the hem on the both sides of the towel, for an inch or so on each side of your drawn line.

Thread your needle with all six strands of embroidery thread. The length of the thread should be about 125% of the width of your towel. Tie a knot in one end. Slip your needle inside the hem, and come up through to the right side of the towel within the hem allowance.

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Taking smallish running stitches, sew evenly along your line till you get to the other side.

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Do your finishing knot within the other hem allowance. Stitch a second row just above your first, starting and finishing as above. You can use the same or a different colour thread. I didn’t draw a second guide line; I just eyeballed the distance.

embroidered flour sack tea towels

With white thread, restitch the hems over your embroidery. This will hold your knots tightly and prevent unraveling. Press your towels, fold them nicely, and tie a ribbon around the set.

Embroidered tea towels

I made two versions of the label: this one is for those with littlies in their lives. Spot the difference?

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