Category Archives: small projects

Liberty and linen cushions


I am doing my first ever craft fair this Sunday. I’ve been so busy making cushions (pillows?–what is the difference?!) that I’ve almost forgotten about my quilts. But I have become a proficient cushion maker. These cushions are made with Essex linen, Liberty Tana Lawn (for some), and Kona cotton. I lined them with a really nice quality muslin, which makes such a difference in the structure and sturdiness of the finished cushion. The inserts are down filled–so all in all they are quite luxurious!


I’ve also been making little baskets. I really love the Red Riding Hood fabric–so cute with the little woodland creatures.


How to make a better cushion


I’ve been busy making things for an upcoming craft fair and I discovered a great technique for making cushion covers. I use the envelope enclosure style because I like the added detail of the buttons on the back. (This is a great tutorial from Cottage Magpie if you are new to this technique.) In the past I used whole cloth to make cushions and I was pretty pleased with the results. For these cushions, I wanted to piece the front and I wasn’t sure how to enclose the seams in the back. I didn’t want to quilt the cover because I wanted a smooth, polished look. What to do? Then I was perusing Etsy and I read about a cushion maker who lines her covers with muslin. Ah ha! I made my pieced cushion front and then cut a square of natural, fine muslin the same size. Next, I basted to the two pieces with wrong sides together (making sure to remove any stray threads). Finally, I serged all around the edge. For the back pieces, I made a seam along one long edge (right sides together) then turned the piece right side around. Then, I basted and serged these pieces. I made button holes in the top piece of the “envelope.” To finish the pillow, I followed the regular method.


I am so pleased with the polished finish the lining gives. The cushions really hold their shape, and the covers have a nice weight to them. I’ve also been making these little linen baskets. I love using some of my patterned fabrics!




I’ve been having fun making patchwork panels for some more linen placemats. I love working without a plan, and using up some of my scraps. Because I usually work with large blocks of color, I am creating a mountain of scraps. I will confess that sometimes I throw away small bits because the thought of that scrap heap gets a little overwhelming, not to mention messy. But, of course, I feel a little guilty about it. Then I read this post from Dinning Room Empire, Naptime Quilter about collecting scraps to give away to other quilty friends–such a great solution. How nice to feel generous instead of guilty!


Still, one of these days I’m going to make a scrappy quilt. While I love the idea of having a signature style–the kind where you can look at a quilt and tell who made it–I don’t want it to prevent me from trying something new. After all, half the fun of quilting is the endless variety. I am always inspired by Denyse Schmidt. She has one of the greatest signature styles out there–there is something about her fabric and color choices and compositions that makes her quilts instantly recognizable as hers even though they range from modern to more traditional. I’ve noticed that the quilters I most admire have a strong style but aren’t afraid to innovate. Katie Pedersen of Sew Katie Did is another great example: some of her quilts are made with tiny scraps and others with huge blocks of color, yet her signature style shines through in all her work. Just thinking about this makes me want to delve into my scrap heap!

Linen and patchwork placemat


I am thinking about participating in a craft show in December–I think it will be fun but I know it will be a lot of work. I realize that I’ll need some smaller items to offer, so I decided to make a test placemat using some time saving steps. I used an improvised patchwork panel–in part because I really love this style and in part because it is quick. I also tried machine stitching the binding. First, I tried a double binding that was machine stitched rather than hand stitched on the back–without success. The corners were sloppy and I couldn’t catch both sides in an even seam. Next, I tried a bias tape method following instructions in Dare to Be Square by Boo Davis. This method was much more successful for me, and it conserves fabric.


All told, this placemat took about five hours to make (including trying both binding methods). Am I insanely slow? If I make more, I know they would go much, much faster, but still! If I do the craft show it will definitely be for fun not profit.

The fabrics used are: Robert Kaufman, Yarn-Dyed Essex in flax; Kona cotton; Comma by Zen Chic; a teeny piece of Lecien Dots in large gray.

Tiny dress and wee backpack

Before she left for camp, my daughter suggested that her Bunny needed a new summer dress, and that Bunny would probably like this Liberty print–Hot Pink Wiltshire (gorgeous!).9522_zoomI guess Bunny and Betty have excellent taste in fabric. For the dress, I made a paper pattern from Bunny’s existing dress. I machine stitched the side seams and serged the edges, then hand sewed the hem, neck and armholes using a blanket stitch. A perfect fit!


Piglet is her other sleeping pal, so I thought he deserved something, too. This little backpack was really fun to make. I had a rough idea of how to make it, but made it up as I went along. I am seriously spatially challenged (never ask me for directions) so sewing the flap, straps and lining to the exterior in the correct orientation took a few tries–but it’s good to exercise my brain, right? I wish I had placed the straps closer together at the top for a better fit, but otherwise it’s pretty awesome. I got completely carried away and put some salt water taffy and a welcome home note in the backpack for Betty to find on her return from camp. Aww!




Besides needing a distraction from missing my kiddo, I am also procrastinating a little. I bought three yards (!) of Liberty (Betsy Blue) to make a Lisette Traveler Dress. I made one version of the dress last year, so I know the pattern is not beyond my skill level, but I need to work up the courage to cut into this lovely fabric. I got some delightful encouragement from Florence at Flossie Teacakes, who very kindly replied to my question about prewashing fabric for dressmaking. Florence is a seamstress extrordinaire, a charming writer, and a Liberty expert so it was a real treat to correspond with her. The answer, by the way, is an emphatic yes.

Stacks table runner

_DSC0592 I made this table runner for Ellison Lane’s Modern Mini Quilt Challenge. A first for me! I love how open this challenge is–entries just have to be not too big or not too small. I was excited to try out a palette and style that I am thinking of for a baby quilt. I threw in some neutrals between the brights so the design wouldn’t be overwhelming. For the binding, I wanted something other than the white (Kona Bone), but I didn’t want to create a strong frame–so I opted for Kona Ash, which is a nice soft gray. The cool gray offsets the warm colors in the design, which I think strikes a nice balance.  The table runner is in my Etsy shop!


Check out the other entries in the challenge–there is some really lovely work. I especially like the entries from Joanna at Shape Moth, Laura from x.o, and Kim and Windsor and Main. Next up for me is a striped play mat with wool batting that I am really looking forward to getting started.

I am linking up with Jennifer’s Modern Mini Challenge!

modern mini quilt 2013 button 125

Patchwork coasters

ImageSometimes I wonder about saving odds and ends–will I ever use the strips of batting left over from a quilt? As a former New Yorker I am vigilant about clutter, if I don’t wear something for a full year out it goes. But having a stash of odds and ends is great when you want to make something right away and without a lot of thinking. Some of the best meals are made from what you have on hand–and projects made from leftovers can have that same sort of creativity from necessity.  These coasters were made entirely from things left over–Essex linen from a skirt and a hat, Liberty Tana Lawn from the same hat, and those strips of batting. They were also really easy to make–a very basic log cabin on the front, a 4.5 inch square of red Essex on the back, and a 4.5 inch square of batting stitched in between. I consulted Denyse Schmidt’s Quilts for the basic technique, and about an hour later I had some pretty coasters ready for ice cold summer drinks.