Saturday, May 12, 2018

Spelling Bee Saturday: Sewing Machine Pouch

Sewing Machine Pouch by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt from Spelling Bee by Lori Holt

It has a vintage school theme.

That's really all I needed to know about Lori Holt's Spelling Bee book to convince me that I needed a copy. The adorable picture blocks were just icing on the cake. When Fat Quarter Shop opened up the sign-up sheet for bloggers to choose their blocks for the sew along, I raced to get the slots for the sewing machine & typewriter blocks -- no surprise to those of you who know me. Today I'm sharing my version of the sewing machine.

I made the smaller size which finishes at 6 inches. Originally I had hoped to turn it into a pincushion, but it was just a bit too large. So instead I made a pouch, framing and backing the block in aqua gingham from Lori's Bake Sale 2 collection.

Sewing Machine Pouch by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt from Spelling Bee by Lori Holt

I desperately wanted to use a small floral for the machine itself, and this print from Apple Farm by my friend Elea Lutz was the perfect scale. The Handmade print from Lori's Bee Backgrounds collection made darling buttons for my machine which I hand quilted in red embroidery thread. Striped aqua accents were a great contrast, and I adore that little cross stitched heart on the spool at the top!

Sewing Machine Pouch by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt from Spelling Bee by Lori Holt

I lined the pouch with a pink cherry print from Bake Sale 2. It makes such a happy lining, doesn't it?

As soon as I sewed the last stitch on this pouch, I took it right downstairs and gave it to my mom for Mother's Day. I'm so happy to say that she loves it. Considering that she's a master at cross stitch, I loved being able to give her something with accents in that theme.

Several months back, my husband had a day off from work, but my girls and I still did our homeschool classes so that we could stay on schedule. I spent the morning tutoring, giving tests, soothing ruffled tempers, counseling my two older girls about struggles they were having, and so on. Finally just before lunch, I sat down next to my husband for a moment to chat.

"This is what I do all day," I said with a rueful laugh, and he smiled.

"You know," he said, looking at me thoughtfully, "it's not glamorous . . . but it's important. You're forming our daughters' character. It's the most important thing you can do."

And I remembered again why I love this man.

So happy Mother's Day to all of you moms out there, as well as to all of you women who may not be moms, but are still investing your lives in loving and (sometimes) mothering the people around you. It's definitely not glamorous work and so much of it goes unsung, but we're making a difference . . . one life at a time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Jot It Down Organizer for Quilts and More Magazine

Jot It Down Organizer by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt for Quilts and More Magazine
Used with permission from Quilts and More magazine. ©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Back when I wrote Sew Organized for the Busy Girl, my amazing tech editor was Joanna Burgarino, and I was thrilled when she became the new editor for Quilts and More magazine last year. She was kind enough to ask me to contribute a project for the Summer 2018 issue which has just landed in stores. I had a great time designing and sewing up this travel-friendly Jot It Down organizer last fall, and I'm so happy that I can finally share it with you today!

Jot It Down Organizer by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt for Quilts and More Magazine
Used with permission from Quilts and More magazine. ©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

The idea for this kit came originally from my daughters. As a mom, I often find myself waiting in doctor's offices or restaurants with three restless girls in tow. I used to try to keep coloring books on hand, but now that my girls are getting older, they're more drawn to games and activities rather than just filling in a coloring page. Last year I started keeping a kit in my purse filled with a few memo pads and pencils for those moments of waiting, and it was an instant hit. The girls loved using them to play games of tic-tac-toe, make birthday lists, or draw imaginary characters. I loved that it was easy to carry, encouraged their creativity, and served as an emergency sketching kit when I had ideas of my own while we were out and about. 

Jot It Down Organizer by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt for Quilts and More Magazine
Used with permission from Quilts and More magazine. ©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

The cover of the kit is made of English paper pieced hexagons -- though there's an option to just use a single fabric if you want to make things simpler and quicker. Small projects like this one are such a great opportunity to pull out the hexies, which are more time consuming but oh so fun to make. 

Jot It Down Organizer by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt for Quilts and More Magazine
Used with permission from Quilts and More magazine. ©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

One of my pet peeves for these sorts of kits is that the pencils and pads can slide out the top, but I added flaps to the inside which take care of the problem. Extra firm interfacing gives the case a solid feel, and simple elastic/button closures are easy to sew. It's the kind of project you can finish in less than a weekend -- my favorite sort, of course!

Jot It Down Organizer by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt for Quilts and More Magazine
Used with permission from Quilts and More magazine. ©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

So many thanks to Joanna and her team for giving me the chance to be a part of this issue and for making the process an absolute joy. Be sure to pick up a copy of Quilts and More on your next trip to the store. And if you make one of these organizers, be sure to tag me @fabricmutt when you share pictures. I can't wait to see them!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Saturday Morning

Date Night fabric by Heidi Staples for Riley Blake Designs


I'm typing at my dining room table this morning, looking out the window at the misty green aftermath of a rainy night. The squirrels are dancing from tree to tree, and I can see deer grazing in the distance. My daughters have spent the morning playing spy games around the house with their walkie talkies, reminding me of when my sister and I used to do the same thing in our front yard so many years ago. In a few minutes we'll be heading off to our favorite Mexican restaurant for our standing weekly lunch with the whole family -- and by "standing" I mean that the restaurant has a table set and waiting for us when they open on Saturdays because they know we'll be there.

It's been a busy week, full of secret sewing and things I can't tell you about yet, but soon...hopefully soon. I have a stack of projects I've been working on which are almost ready to share and another stack that are going to be consuming every free minute I've got for the next three months. And on top of that I'm trying to wrap up our homeschool year in the next five weeks, so several hours of each day are spent grading spelling tests and reteaching math lessons and the like. Sometimes I wonder how I think I can possibly get away with it, this game of smoke and mirrors that I play, trying to look like I'm on top of everything while secretly flying by the seat of my pants. Yet somehow it all gets done. And when I stop stressing over things and just relax and enjoy them, I can stand back and look at it all with more perspective, remembering again how grateful I am that I get to do all of this.

My Date Night yardage arrived this week, and I'm currently sewing up a storm for Quilt Market. The more I work with it, the more I love it. There is a story behind this collection, of course, but I'll wait to share it with you when its June release date is a little closer. Until then, I hope you enjoy looking at that stack of fabric as much as I do...

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Grandale Rollcake Bag

Riley Blake Designs Grandale Rollcake Bag (Pattern by Minki Kim) sewn by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt


Is there anything better than blending together two things you love? It brings to mind chocolate peanut butter cups and rainy Saturday afternoons and Cary Grant movies that are directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Today I get to share one of those things: a darling vintage inspired collection called Grandale by Keera Job for Riley Blake Designs which I paired with the Rollcake Bag pattern designed by my dear friend Minki Kim. The result is a little girl's dream purse -- at least I assume so, since my three daughters all gasped with delight as soon as they saw it!

Riley Blake Designs Grandale Rollcake Bag (Pattern by Minki Kim) sewn by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

I've never sewn a bag with a lace zipper before, but I will definitely be doing it again. I absolutely love the delicate accent this adds to the piece. The Grandale prints couldn't be sweeter. The tiny floral on the main panel and the faux cross stitch print that I used for the gusset are my favorites in the collection.

Riley Blake Designs Grandale Rollcake Bag (Pattern by Minki Kim) sewn by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

This type of bag is inevitably tricky to sew, but Minki makes it as easy as possible with her great instructions and photos. I had to trim my gusset a wee bit smaller to fit, yet everything came together with no trouble at all.  I added crosshatch quilting to the side panels and straight line quilting to the zipper panel and gusset to give them all some texture, and I love they way they look. Even though the bag is small, there's a surprising amount of room inside.

This little bag will be packed with goodies and then sent off in the mail to my niece, who is celebrating another birthday at the end of this month. And I predict that it will take approximately five minutes before one of my daughters asks me to make another...

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Let's Bake Table Runner

Let's Bake Table Runner by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt from a Lori Holt Pattern

Today is my stop on the Let's Bake Sew Along, hosted and created by the amazing Lori Holt. These sweet little blocks feature ingredient canisters, a hand mixer, and a quartet of cupcakes. They're from another one of Lori's beautiful applique quilt patterns, and I decided to turn them into a runner for our breakfast nook table.

Let's Bake Table Runner by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt from a Lori Holt Pattern

I used a mix of prints from several different Riley Blake designers as well as some RBD basics to get the eclectic look I love so much. It was a surprise to me how small these pieces are -- the individual blocks finish at about 6" square -- and this makes the project go quickly, even with the hand sewing. Applique is something I very rarely attempt but always enjoy. Adding extra touches like a ric-rac "cord" and "cherry" buttons just make this piece so much fun.

Let's Bake Table Runner by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt from a Lori Holt Pattern

I made a few changes from the original pattern. There is no ric-rac at the top of the cupcake liners because I forgot to order it in time, and I only made 4 cupcakes instead of 6 so that it would fit more neatly on the runner. I also fussy cut a few words from Lori's adorable recipe print for the canister labels instead of embroidering the words from her pattern. My daughters thought "Doughnuts" and "Cookies" were a great idea!

Let's Bake Table Runner by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt from a Lori Holt Pattern

The runner is backed in a mixing bowl print from Lori's Bake Sale 2 collection. It's a perfect match for the front of the runner, and I love the way it looks with a frame of aqua and white striped binding.

Let's Bake Table Runner by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt from a Lori Holt Pattern

It's been a goal of mine to make seasonal runners for the little table where my girls eat breakfast every morning, so it feels great to add another one to our growing collection. Baking is one of my very favorite things to do, and now that my daughters are starting to help out in the kitchen more often with me, I know they'll be thrilled to have this reminder of those special moments in front of them every morning when they wake up.

Happy sewing, friends!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pillows & Pouches

Heather Ross Book Nook Pillows from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

One of my favorite presents to make for both new parents and little children is a small version of the giant Book Nook pillow from my book. I shrink the pattern down to fit a 12" or 14" pillow form and tuck a card in the pocket for a sweet gift.

Heather Ross Book Nook Pillows from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

As a new mom, I always liked having lots of pillows nearby to help me get into a comfortable position when I was feeding the baby, and that pocket is a great place to stash a book or snack pack or anything else I might want when I'm up by myself in the middle of the night. For a child's gift, you can still tuck little books or toys in the pocket, and it's perfect for travel. My girls and I will be making a mini Book Nook for each of them to take on our family road trip this summer.

Heather Ross Book Nook Pillows from Sew Organized for the Busy Girl by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

I decided to pull out my Heather Ross stash for these pillows, carefully choosing my prints since one is for a girl and the other for a boy. It was so much fun to pick out the fabrics for these! I paired them both with different shades of linen on the pocket background fabric for a nice contrast.

I've started sewing up my own gift bags lately, riffing on the 5-Minute Party Pouch from Ruby Star Wrapping by Melody Miller & Allison Tannery. I just change up the size as needed. It's a great way to use fabric from my Five & Dime stash, and it makes the gift so much more personal. And frankly, considering how expensive gift bags are becoming, I think I'm at least breaking even on the cost!

Retro Mama Notions Pouch by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

I also had the chance to host a week of my friend Kim's sew along for her new Notions Pouch pattern. Kim is also known as Retro Mama, and she makes the most adorable things!

Retro Mama Notions Pouch by Heidi Staples for Fabric Mutt

This is just the cutest little pouch you ever saw, and I had so much fun making one in each of the two sizes she offers. The sew along is just wrapping up on Instagram -- just check out the hashtag #notionspouchsal to see all the amazing makes.

Speaking of Instagram, I'm trying to keep up with the annual Instagram Quilt Fest hosted by Amy of Amy's Creative Side this month. There's a photo prompt for each day of March to share with the hashtag #igquiltfest, and it's given me the chance to go back and revisit some favorite makes as well as share a behind-the-scenes look at my own sewing studio. Check it out if you get the chance. These are the kind of events that really bring out the friendly spirit that I love most about the online quilting community.

Happy sewing, friends!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Derby Day Pillow

Derby Day pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I think I can safely say that my three daughters are obsessed with horses.


Ever since we arrived in Texas almost three years ago, my girls have been begging for riding lessons. This year James and I decided that they were finally old enough, so as their Christmas gift, we and all their grandparents gave them the gift of weekly lessons for as long as we can afford them. They have fallen completely in love with the horses at our local equestrian center, and we spend half a day there every week while they learn all the details of caring for and riding these beautiful animals. Participating in the blog tour for Melissa Mortenson's sweet Derby Day collection gave me the chance to sew up a cute horse themed pillow, and the girls were so happy to add it to the bench in their bedroom.

Derby Day pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

A Dresden block seemed like a fun way to show off all the prints at once, and I wanted to feature one of the little horses in the center. I pulled in a solid green to help the center circle stand out and backed the Dresden on a navy Riley Blake gingham print. The stitching is all done with navy thread, which my youngest daughter requested, and though I usually like my quilting to fade into the background, this is a fun change.

Derby Day pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I backed the pillow in a beautiful floral print from the collection. I absolutely love this shade of green!

Melissa has created a stunning look book for her Derby Day fabrics which you really should see. The projects she designed for this collection are so clever and gorgeous, and there are plenty of horses and dogs featured throughout the pages too. It's everything my daughters love in one place! Be sure to stop by for a peek.

Meanwhile watching these lessons each week is bringing back my own dreams of riding horses when I was little. My sister and I were devoted to Talent Roundup Day on the original 1950's Mickey Mouse Club show when it had a revival on the Disney channel in the eighties, and we desperately wanted one of those cowgirl outfits. Seeing my girls fulfill one of my childhood dreams is almost more wonderful than doing it myself...
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