Saturday, December 14, 2013

Applique Notebook Cover Tutorial

One of my main mottos this year has been to "Get Organized." I've been working tirelessly doing boring things (aka... anything that's not sewing, haha), like organizing my kid's papers, creating a chore system, and figuring out how to keep up with all my pictures. With every completed task, I've tried to incorporate a sewing aesthetic. Creating a planner has been one of my ultimate goals, and so I decided that it needed a cute stitched cover to go along with it.

I think this would be a really fun gift to give. You could create any type of notebook-- a planner, a recipe book, a scrapbook-- and give it your own touch of handmade with a personalized cover.

 My favorite part of a project like this is coming up with a theme and color scheme. I went for a nautical feel for mine. You can create all sorts of fabric shapes and words on this project, and really personalize it for the person you're making it for. You can use a free motion applique method like I did, or you could use patchwork, needle turned applique... the possibilities are endless. Here's how I made mine:

-small 1/2" notebook
-outside fabric: 16 1/2 x10 1/4 inches
-lining fabric: 16 1/2 x10 1/4 inches
-inside flaps: two pieces each 10 1/4 x 10 1/4
-applique pieces: your preference
-interfacing: same size as outside fabric, and scraps for applique pieces
 -other: free motion (darning) foot for the applique, sewing machine, thread, cutting mat, ruler, rotary cutter, iron, etc.

*You can use whatever weight of fabric you like. I used a home dec weight for my outside fabric and appliques, and regular quilting cotton for the rest.

1. Cut all your pieces according to measurements above.

2. Create your applique pieces... I fussy cut around a few pieces.

3. I already did the measuring for you if you're using small sized notebook, but if you're using anything else, trace around it to create your outside template, leaving about 1/2" for a seam allowance.

 4. Optional: I added fusible interfacing to the back of my outside piece so that my darker lining wouldn't show through, and to add stability for the appliques.

5. Now the fun part! I don't have a full tutorial on how to use the free motion foot, but basically you just put it on and get creative! I set my stitch length to 0 and made a few stitches to lock the thread in place, then put the stitch length back to normal, but maybe do a little research for the ideal stitch length on whatever it is you're making. I practiced on a scrap before actually sewing on my project. I penciled my name and traced over it 3 times for a somewhat sketchy look. Then I went around my anchor 3 times, leaving the edge raw.

Last, I made a little whale which is on the back of my notebook. I interfaced both the anchor and the whale for stability.

6. The next step is to take the inner flap pieces. Since they are square, it doesn't really matter which way you fold them, just in half with wrong sides together. Give them a quick press. Then edge stitch on the folded edge, backstitching at beginning and end. (I hope you can see where I sewed)!

7. Now its time to lay the flap pieces over the outside piece. Place the raw edges together. The edgestitched sides will face inward.

8. Now place the lining piece on top of the flap pieces. This will lay with the right side facing down. Pin everything in place. Mark a place along the bottom edge where you will leave a 3 inch opening.

9. Now you are ready to sew all the layers together! I used a 1/4" seam allowance. Remember to leave a 3 inch opening so that you can turn everything right side out.

10. Carefully clip your corners.

11. Now turn the cover right sides out. Don't fret if it turns out looking like this! You will just rearrange so the flaps fold toward the lining piece.

12. Now that everything is facing the right way, press it into place. The last step is to edge stitch all the way around. This will close the 3 inch hole, and give the whole cover a nice, finished shape.

13. And just like that, you are done! An easy, quick handmade gift or something cute for yourself!
 It should slip right on to your notebook.

I couldn't help photographing my notebook cover with this cute little needle book that my good friend Ashley gave to me for Christmas. I just love and adore it, and it made the perfect gift! (I'm so lucky)!

This post was part of Sew Caroline's 12 Days of Handmade Gifts. Thank you so much to Caroline for inviting me to be a guest on her blog!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

$50 Holiday Card Giveaway from

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is sending out and receiving Christmas cards. My mom started this tradition in our family before I was even born. In those days, she hand wrote and photocopied the family newsletter, and usually hand drew and painted the cards all by hand. I feel lucky that its so much easier these days to send out cards! I love finding new online companies to make our cards. This year, we used Purple Trail, and I'm thrilled to have found a new company that does a great job!

I'm very glad that we had Purple Trail print our holiday cards this year. I will definitely use them again, especially since their customer service was superb. At one point, the Design Center wasn't working for me, so immediately I contacted their customer service. Within minutes, I received a response saying that I should try a different internet browser. Thankfully, that was the answer to my problem, and the Design Center worked flawlessly after that!

I always have fun scrolling through the different card designs. Purple Trail has a great selection of holiday photo cards. The design I chose this year was simple, and showcases 4 different photos of our family. It is clean, simple, and non-distracting. I love the paper quality... nice and thick and shiny! I am very happy with the quality and the prices of our cards.

I'm so thrilled that Purple Trail would like to give one lucky reader a $50 credit to their order of Holiday Cards. This does not count toward rushing fees. As long as your order is placed by the morning of December 19, your order will most likely be processed and shipped before Christmas. If you don't think you'll have your order placed in time, they have a great selection of New Years cards!

To enter the giveaway, fill out the form below. 
Open to U.S. residents ages 18 or older.
Giveaway closes December 16, 2013 at midnight.

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  This post is sponsored by Purple Trail. I was provided free content in exchange for this post. All opinions and experiences are my own, and I definitely intend to work with this company again in the future, in a non-sponsored way.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fabric Memory Game + "Simple Sewing" Giveaway

A couple of months ago, I met a sweet local girl, Katie Lewis from The Red Kitchen blog, who shares many of my same passions, including sewing. She was in the process of writing a book, and it was so fun to pick her brain about the process. Her book, "Simple Sewing," is now hot off the press, and I am so thrilled that she asked me to help spread the good news!

I received a copy of the book, and as part of the book tour, I get to share something that I made from it. I loved flipping through the pages for the first time, admiring the gorgeous photography, pretty fabrics, heck, I even smelled the pages- I love the scent of a fresh, new, glossy book.

There are so many sweet and simple projects, perfect for the beginner seamstress, and easily adjusted for those who want to add a bit of their own flair. I am currently teaching my 7 year old daughter how to sew, and she is excited to make several projects from this book!

When I came across the memory game on page 156, I literally asked myself, "How have I never thought about making this before?" I'm constantly looking for quiet time learning activities for my kids. I love taking things like this to church to keep them quiet :) This is the PERFECT scrap buster project! I actually had all the squares cut out of random scraps and was about ready to sew them up, and then I came across this bug fabric in my stash (Backyard Baby Bug Jars in Gray by Michael Miller). I thought this would make for a challenge for my kids, so I went ahead and sewed these instead! I will return to my other scraps later to make a game for my younger kids, but I just thought these bugs were too fun. I am going to help my 7 year old sew the Lunch Sack from "Simple Sewing" to use as a bag to keep the memory game inside.

The only change I made to the book instructions was that I used a quarter inch seam allowance instead of half an inch. I also added a few more squares to the game. I just know my kids are going to love playing this!

This book tour has been so fun-- Katie rounded up a great mix of other sewing bloggers to showcase projects from her book. I'm sharing today with one of my dear friends, Mary from the Molly Flanders blog. She is one of the most talented quilters I've ever come across, and I'm so lucky to know her in person! Her blog is amazing, so full of projects that reflect her style... bright colors, gorgeous technique,  Her handstitching is my favorite. So be sure to check out Molly Flanders! (Here's a sneak peak of the project she made and personalized from "Simple Sewing.")

I'm so excited about this wonderful sewing resource! You can purchase it from your local quilt shop, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books & Things

I'm excited that one of YOU will have the chance to win the giveaway! Just wait for the rafflecopter form to appear, and follow the steps to enter. *Winner must be a resident of the U.S. Thanks!

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

How to Make a Lattice-Top Berry Pie

I love homemade pie. I have never bought a pie or a pie crust. I enjoy making them so much. I learned all my pie making tricks from my mom, and the cooking class I took in college.

A pretty berry lattice-top pie is my favorite to make. I love using a dark filling for a lattice pie, because the dark colors offset the light crust and looks so pretty peeking through. Here is my favorite pie crust recipe.

Basic Pie Crust
3 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups shortening
ice water

Combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening. Gradually add small amounts of ice water to form a soft dough. Do not overmix. Divide into two discs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Remove, then shape as desired. Bake according to filling instructions. 
*Makes two single crust pies, or one double crust pie.

Can you see the marbling from the shortening? That is good, and is the result of not overmixing.

My mom taught me a great trick to get the flour to stick evenly to your counter top. Use a wet paper town to wet down the surface, and then spread the flour over with your hands. It works so well!

I like to fold my dough into fourths to accurately place into my pie dish. Glass bottom and ceramic pie plates are my favorite and tend to bake the most evenly.

Always poke the bottom of your pie crust with a fork if you're making a single crust pie. Also, use extra dough remnants to tuck under to form a good edge.

My mom taught my how to use my fingers to flute the edges of the pie crust.

Berry Filling Recipe
3 1/2 cups fresh or frozen berries (any berry you like)!
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 1 TB cornstarch
1 1/3 cups water or juice from the berries
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 TB + 1 tsp lemon juice

Wash and cut fresh berries, or thaw frozen berries. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and water/berry juice, and almond extract in pot. Stir and cook over medium heat until it thickens and bubbles. Add lemon juice and boil one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and fold in berries. Cool slightly before adding to pie crust. Add a top crust. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

I have a wavy pasta cutter that I use to cut strips for my lattice top pie. But you could also use a straight edge.

Now follow the steps in the following pictures to create a real lattice top pie. Try hard not to get berry filling on the crust.

Gently lay the two longest strips across the pie, crisscrossing each other.

Fold back the underneath strip, and add a strip to one side.

Repeat on other side.

Unfold that strip.

Now take the two new strips and fold back onto themselves. Add a new strip underneath.

Repeat on other side.

Unfold everything and admire so far. :)

Now take the very most underneath strip and fold them back. Add another strip. 

Repeat on other side.

Follow the same pattern, this time you'll fold back 3 strips.

Once you've reached the end of your pie strips, you can trim off the ends and incorporate them into your fluted pie crust. 

It might actually be easier to the do the pinching and fluting after the lattice pie crust is complete. (I should have done it that way)!

The last thing I like to add is a sprinkle of raw sugar. I like these little packets.

And that's it! The best part of making a pie is sharing it with those you love. Here's a look at the past three Thanksgivings. Have I mentioned I love pie? 

(I made this yesterday and tried Ann Romney's Southern Pecan Pie recipe. It is divine!!!)