tutorial

Knit Breastfeeding Poncho Tutorial

NursingPoncho1

When Mila was born I made my own traditional nursing cover, and I was also given a nice one as a gift. However, in practice, these nursing covers posed many challenges- if Mila wiggled or if it was windy the cover would move and expose me. And let’s not forget that it didn’t cover my back, so if I was wearing a top that I had to lift, then I would expose my back to everyone. And have you seen what a cotton nursing cover looks like after it has been stuffed in a diaper bag for a few weeks/months? Just a little wrinkly….

Before Teegan was born, I  ran across several different variations of nursing ponchos made out of jersey knit on Etsy and I instantly fell in love.

Nursing with Mila was never easy because I didn’t make a lot of milk (because of lupus), but I managed to breastfeed her until she was 10 months old and I found out I was pregnant with Teegan. Unfortunately, when Teegan was born, my lupus was much more active and my body was in general a lot sicker, and I didn’t make any milk AT ALL. I pumped and pumped and cried and cried, but eventually realized that it wasn’t going to happen. Teegan wouldn’t even be here if I hadn’t taken so many medications to keep my lupus controlled, and so, it wasn’t that surprising that my body was tired and just couldn’t do anymore. And then when I broke my leg I realized it might have been a blessing in surprise because my body needed the calcium to heal.

I’ve been able to gift some of my breastfeeding ponchos to friends who recently had babies. And you never know, maybe I’ll get to use one if we have a #3 someday.

Look at that precious baby!

Look at that precious baby!

So, here’s how I made my new nursing poncho:

Most jersey/knit fabric is 57-62 inches wide (as compared to your standard quilting fabric that is 44 inches wide), which makes it about 30 inches wide when folded selvedge to selvedge.  I recommend getting a lighter weight jersey, especially if you live in a warm climate, because your baby may be under this material for a considerable amount of time while nursing and we don’t want him to overheat.

1. Buy 1 yard of your favorite jersey/knit material.

2. Lay out your yard of jersey material on the floor folded right sides together, with selvedge edge to selvedge edge. The cut sides should be about 30 inches and the folded side should be 36 inches.

3. For an average/tall size woman, cut your jersey at 31 inches (if you are petite I would recommend cutting it around 29 inches, but remember you can always go shorter- you can’t go longer).

NursingCover14. On the right side mark 15 inches up from the folded edge and place a pin. Continue to pin the material together from this mark out to the selvedges.

NursingCover25. Sew a 1/2 inch seam where you have placed your pins (from the selvedge edge to your 15 inch mark). Turn the poncho right side out and you have a nursing cover that stays put!

YES, there is only one seam to sew to make this poncho! And because of the nature of jersey you don’t have to finish the other seams. This might be one of the easiest things you ever make.

HAPPY NURSING!

– Erica

 

Introduction to Paper Piecing

I recently met Sarah online when she reached out to me asking to do a guest post on paper piecing. I tried paper piecing once at a Boston Modern Quilt Guild meeting, but promptly forgot how to do it. I haven’t done my own paper piecing project yet, but it’s definitely on my list!

Sarah has a sewing blog where she blogs about sewing projects and techniques. She also puts up videos demonstrating various presser feet, sewing tools and serger techniques.

Thanks Sarah for writing this paper piecing tutorial! Now I can refer to my own blog for instructions when I’m ready to start my first project!

Please, check out her: Blog, instructional YouTube Videos and Facebook Page.

-erica

INTRODUCTION TO PAPER PIECING:  I’ve always admired quilters that made difficult shapes, like stars or lighthouses, look so effortless. Then, I learned paper piecing. It’s super fun and as simple as painting by numbers! There are thousands and thousands of free paper piecing patterns available. All those tiny scraps you’ve been stashing (never know when you’ll need a 1 inch scalene triangle) can finally be used. There are piecing patterns that literally use the tiniest of scraps, so when your partner gives you grief for keeping an itsy bitsy scrap, you have justification. Waste not!

paper piecing feature image

This star pattern is great for easing in to paper piecing. Believe it or not, this took maybe 20 minutes. You can sew it into something as big as a full blow quilt or as simple as a pot holder. Either way, you’re going to love playing around with paper piecing!

Tip: If you’re having trouble following the directions below, check out our video instructions.

Supplies:

  • Paper Piecing Pattern. There are TONS of free paper piecing patterns all over the internet. All you have to do is find one you like and print it from your computer. Can’t find the size you like? You can reduce an image on your computer or have an image enlarged at Kinko’s. Here are a few trusted sites: Forest QuiltingPiece By NumbersCarol Doak.
  • Fabric Scraps. Most patterns will come with a list telling you how large each scrap needs to be.
  • Universal Needle
  • Thread
  • Scissors or rotary ruler and rotary mat
  • Pins
  • Ruler
  • Printer and Computer Paper

Step 1: If your pattern does not have 1/4 seam lines drawn in, go ahead and mark them yourself using your ruler.

step 1

step 2Make sure you have enough scraps to cover all your steps. I like to separate mine into piles.

step 3Step 2: Mine has 3 separate pieces that will be sewn together to form a star, but the process is the same for each piece. First, let’s start with number 1. Place your first scrap fabric right side down on the table. Now, place your paper pattern on top of the fabric scrap, wrong sides together. The pattern diagram should be facing you.

step 5Remember: Whenever you are adding a new piece of fabric, it always needs to be at least 1/4 inch larger (on all sides) than its corresponding shape.

Now that you have the pattern template laying on the first fabric piece, let’s go on to number 2. Once again, you want to make sure your fabric scrap is at least 1/4 larger (on all sides) than your template.

Place the new scrap fabric piece right sides together with your first fabric scrap. So, from top to bottom, you have your paper pattern facing you, then the wrong side of first fabric, and right side or second fabric scrap.

To ensure that your fabric scrap is lined up correctly, hold all three layers up to a light source. You will be able to see the shadow of the second fabric scrap. (The darkest shadow is the fabric for number 2)

pp fixed copyStep 3: Reduce your stitch length just a tad to create a  perforated line. Sew along the straight line between shape 1 and 2. Don’t forget to back stitch.

step 6Fold the paper back on the sewn line.

Using a ruler, trim the fabric to a 1/4 inch.

trimmed dowmPress the seam and move on to number 3. You repeat the same steps along the border of number 2 and 3 as you did with one and two.

press seams openThe first section is finished! Time to move on to the next section. Start the exact same way we did with the first part. Number for is the new number 1.

IMG_6571These are the basic steps to paper piecing. You will simply be repeating these steps until you have pieced all of you pattern.

step 15You can remove the paper pattern after each section or once you have sewn the entire block together.

step 17Once all the individual parts are pieced, you can sew the 3 sections together.

step 16Sew all the pieces together to make your quilt block. Press. Use your ruler and rotary cutter to trim up any uneven edges. Not too shabby, right?

I did some satin stitching around the edge of the star using a Stitch in the Ditch foot. Super easy! Just install your foot and set your stitch length to a short zig zag.

IMG_6578All finished! Time to make another 11 of these for a fun baby quilt!

step 19Thank you so much for reading and I hope this tutorial was helpful. Happy Sewing (and Quilting)!

-Sarah

 

Attaching Your Binding To Your Quilt

Secretly, sewing the binding is my favorite part of quilting. I think it’s because it’s hand sewing and I get to enjoy the beauty of my finished quilt. I find myself oohing and ahhing many times during this step.

 

Laura taught me how to make and sew my binding. Then, since I moved away I had to consult a quilting book once, but now I’ve finally got it down. I thought I’d share my process. It’s very easy and has a nice finished look. I will do a separate post on how to sew together straight grain binding and continuous bias binding. I like a slightly thinner binding so I cut my binding 2 1/4 inches wide and fold it in half.

 

1. I usually start by attaching the binding towards the middle of a side. You don’t want to start attaching the binding too close to the corner. Pin the bidning to the top side of the quilt, leaving several inches of binding free at the end.

 

2. Continue to pin the binding down until you get to the corner. Put the last pin in 1/4 inch from the end of your quilt.

 

3. Sew the binding to the quilt, with a 1/4 inch seam. Stop 1/4 inch from the end (where your last pin was placed).

 

4. Fold the binding down so the edge of the binding matches up to the edge of your quilt (see picture). Pin.

 

5. Fold binding back up, being sure to line up the edge with the edge of your quilt. Pin.

 

6. Pin binding along entire edge of quilt (to 1/4 inch from the next corner). Then sew from the edge all the way to the next corner, again stopping 1/4 inch from the corner.

 

7. Repeat this same process for each corner. Eventually you will get back to where you started. Stop sewing several inches from the opening.

 

8. This next step is important to be able to sew the binding together without any bubbles/bumps.  Overlap your pieces by the width of your binding and cut them (I make my binding 2-1/4 inches wide, so I overlap the two pieces of binding by 2-1/4 inches).

 

9. I think this is the trickiest step. This is the one I most often screw up.  Mark a diagonal line on the left edge of the binding.  Put the two pieces of binding right sides together at a 90 degree angle. Sew along the diagonal line.

 

10. Trim to 1/4 inch (check to make sure you’ve sewn them together correctly before trimming, please!)

 

11. Iron seam open.

 

12. Now the binding should lay nicely against your quilt. Sew together.

 

I use binding clips (they look like hair clips!) to fold the binding over to the back side to hand sew. I like them better than pins because they aren’t pokey.

 

Look how wonderful the corners turn out when you fold the binding to the back? Isn’t it beautiful?

 

Here is the binding tacked down on the back side. Gorgeous!

If you use my binding tutorial to attach your binding and find any of the steps confusing, please let me know so I can clarify!

– erica

Sewing Curves

Before I started sewing the Retro Flowers pattern I had watched a video on You Tube about using the “curve master presser foot” for my sewing machine. Gosh, it looked really easy. See for yourself:

Well, it didn’t quite work like that for me.

(I bought my foot here on amazon)

First of all, when I put the foot on my machine and then started to sew, my needle immediately broke because it went straight into the foot. So, I had to move the needle position over to the left (2 clicks on my machine to 2.5– 3.5 is my center position).

Then, I realized that it totally matters which piece of fabric is on the bottom when you are sewing the two pieces together. If you look at the template below you have a “U” shaped piece of fabric and a “fat” curve piece of fabric:

 You need to have the “U” shaped piece on the bottom and the “fat” curve piece on top.

And then it took me even longer to figure out that you have to put some decent tension (in addition to holding the piece up) on the “fat” curve piece when you are sewing the two together.

After a lot of trial and error, it wasn’t so hard anymore. I have finished sewing all the curved pieces together and am now assembling my flower blocks. I think I have about 30 to go.

In the future, I think I would cut out some spare pieces that I could trash because I seemed to botch about three pieces each time I started piecing (before I got the hang of it again). Which means a lot of time seam ripping.

I’m thinking I’m really going to like this quilt.

– erica

Pieced Binding.

 

I really enjoy the process of hand sewing the binding around the quilt. It gives me time to enjoy the finished quilt before I wash it and send it away. But, what I don’t enjoy is making the binding and attaching it to the quilt. I find it endlessly frustrating. It’s like a really bad math equation.

On my most recent quilt I decided to do a pieced binding because I couldn’t decide on any one color/fabric for the entire quilt. I started by figuring out how many total inches I would need to go around the quilt. I added up the perimeter and added 12 inches for the corners. I then divided this by the number of colors I wanted to use to determine how many inches I would need of each color.  I didn’t want to waste a lot of fabric so I made this a crossgrain binding (rather than bias).  I sewed my seams together at 45 degree angles. And then realized that I lost quite a bit of length by sewing the seams together.

Because it’s at 45 degrees you lose a lot– after lots of measuring you actually lose (on each end) 1/2 the distance of the width of your bias. Why in the world would that be? I have no idea, but I’m sure some mathmatician knows. I checked it out with different widths and it always works like that.  Even my husband, the designer, was intrigued by this.

So, what does that mean?

1. Let’s say I want a binding to be 100 inches long (easy numbers for calculations) and I am cutting the binding strips 2.5 inches wide .

2. Then let’s say I want to use 10 different colors. That would mean I need 10 inches of each color, BUT because I am going to lose material in the seams (exactly 1/2 the width on each side which in this case equals 1.25 inches on each side) I would need to cut each strip 12.5 inches long.

3. Or an easier way:  is to know that there are seams on each end of the strip, so just add the width of the binding to the finished length you want the strip to be. (ie. If you want the finished length to be 10 inches, and it is 2.5 inches wide: cut the strip 12.5 inches long).

Continuous bias binding is a whole ‘nother story…. to be in a later post.

 

The finished product is so beautiful, you would never know how difficult it was…

-erica

Shirring.

Shirring is adorable. If jake and I have a little girl some day, she’ll be dressed in shirring. I’ve been thinking about making a shirred dress since I saw it on a blog by made-by-rae and on the back of a shirt that laura (my sewing teacher) made for her daughter.

I saw a link on a blog for elastic thread. The blogger said that she had been having problems with the thread from Joann Fabrics so she bought a different brand and it worked great. I thought it was a little spool (I should have wondered a little harder when I was confused as to why a spool would cost $15) but when it came in the mail, I understood. it was GINORMOUS. I actually laughed out loud.

 

It’s about the size of a lonely planet travel book for costa rica.

I brought my giant spool of thread to Laura’s Sewing School and she helped me make a dress for Jake’s niece, Maddie. We didn’t use a pattern.

1. We cut the material 27.5 inches long.  the width was selvage to selvage.

2. On the top I used a 6mm rolled hem foot. It’s the first time I have done this (Maddie, please don’t look too closely). I only had a 4mm rolled hem foot so I borrowed Laura’s. Thinking about buying one for my machine.

3. Then I “shirred” the material. I put elastic thread in the bobbin with regular (orange) thread in the top of my machine. I sewed 12 rows across the material from selvage to selvage. I backstitched at the beginning and end of each row.

4. After shirring the fabric, I brought it over to the iron and used it to steam the elastic thread. It makes it shrink up. Kind of like a shrinky dink (remember how awesome those were??). I guess it changes the chemical make-up of the elastic.

5. I sewed the selvage edge to selvage edge to make it into a “tube”.

6. I did a wide hem on the bottom. I think it was 2 inches.

7. Lastly, I attached straps. I wasn’t sure how long they should be for Maddie so I made them to tie into bows.

 

 

And here’s the princess in the dress, I love it.

Enjoy Maddie! We love you!

-erica

 

 

Cross Stitch Hem.

I’ve been very busy doing a LOT of different things, but unfortunately I haven’t been blogging about it. So, I’m going to start today by writing about how I learned how to hem pants!

Last week I was at work and I saw a string on the bottom of my pants. I pulled on it. And then about 1 second later I didn’t have a hem anymore. And then strange thing, it happened with another pair of pants the very next day (you think I might have learned that I shouldn’t pull on those strings). But then I thought, ooh yay, I can learn how to hem pants at sewing school! So last night I did.

Laura showed me a really neat way to hem pants where the seam gets laid down really tight against the pants- so this way you can’t get your heel stuck in the hem and rip it out. Plus, I think it looks beautiful.

So, here goes:

My pants had been serged along the bottom so I will use the serged edge as a landmark for the directions.

1. Baste your hem. (It’s better than using pins because then you don’t get the thread stuck on the pins)

– Oh and I learned to put my thread through beeswax first and then iron it to keep it from twisting up, fun!

2. Pick your spot to start hemming, you will be traveling to the right (normally you travel to the left if you’re right handed). Put the needle through the material hiding the knot inside the hem. In this picture it is right below the serged edge.

3. Now, move slightly to the right, and above the serged edge. You will take a small stitch (just a few threads wide) from right to left (even though you’re moving to the right). This allows the stitch to “lock”. This small stitch will show through on your pants so this is the one to pay close attention to.

4. Ok, now move to the right again, taking a small stitch (from right to left) below the serged edge.

5. Keep going all the way around the bottom, and when you’re finished you’ll get a beautiful cross stitch hem!

I am wondering if you could use this as a decorative stitch to sew on a quilt binding.

-erica