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Author Archives: Donna Springer

  • Continuous Prairie Points

    August 1, 2013

    I am confused now and we are only starting! – Prairies are mostly flat, possibly with waves of amber grain, and we apparently go from purple mountain majesty to the prairies – according to the songs 'God Bless America' and 'America, The Beautiful'..... so how can the blue mountain shapes above be prairie points, which should be pale yellow-brown and flat? If anything, those are blue waves on the ocean, white with foam.

    Prairie points are traditionally made from squares of fabric. But, if you want a row of prairie points,  using individual squares is not a very efficient way to proceed. The technique described in this blog can be used to make a continuous row of prairie points any size and length that you need, and both alignment and spacing are easier to achieve and more accurate.


    1. Cut a strip of fabric 6” by the width of fabric (selvage edge to selvage edge). Two or more strips can be sewn end to end for longer runs of continuous prairie points.100_6564 2. Fold with right-side out, align the cut edges and press. Unfold and place on the cutting board with wrong-side up. If you have problems seeing the center line fold, mark it with chalk.

    100_6566-rotated 3. On one side of the fold, mark from the outside edge to the center line fold/mark every 3”.

    100_6565-rotated 4.  On the other side of the fold, start 1 1/2” in from the end. Then  mark from the outside edge to the center fold/mark every 3”.100_6568 5. There will be excess fabric that must be cut away on both ends of the long strip. Keep only the fabric that will make complete 3” squares.

    100_6570 6. Create the 3” squares by cutting on the marks from outer edge to the center line fold/mark using scissors or a rotary cutter.100_6572a 7.  Fold the 3” squares the way you would fold traditional prairie points. Fold left-hand corner down and to the right to the center line fold/mark, creating a triangle. Finger press.

    100_6573a 8. Fold the right-hand corner down and to the left to the center line fold/mark, creating a smaller triangle. Finger press. Notice the opening on the left side of the prairie point. The next triangle will fit into this slot.

    100_6574a 9. Make the next prairie point from the first 3” square on the other side of the center line fold/mark.

    100_6576 10. Tuck this prairie point into the flap of the previous prairie point. You can pin these if you like, but it may not be necessary. Continue working with the 'far' and 'near' squares until you reach the end of the fabric strip.100_6584 11. Trim excess fabric. 12. For convenience, you can baste the continuous prairie points in place using an 1/8” seam, but this is not mandatory. 13. Attach the prairie points to your quilt using a 1/4” seam allowance.

    By now, you may have memorized all the words to one or two of the most patriotic songs of the USA.

    Pdf image
  • Lace Trim T-Shirt

    July 23, 2013

    Now that we've dealt with those old t-shirts by making a quilt (or some quilts), it is time to make some new t-shirts. You don't want to let the empty space where the old t-shirts were stored go to waste.

    My daughter came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. She wanted to go shopping for some new clothes – as if there are no stores where she lives. Being a good mom, I went with her to a local department store. I have not been in a department store in years. In case you haven't noticed, fabric is not sold in department stores anymore. I think (actually I know, but won't admit to it) my age is showing, some of us remember buying fabric in all the major department stores. While she shopped and tried on clothes, I was taking in all the wonderful lace garments. They had everything from total lace to lace trim dresses, tops and even shorts. The store visit turned into a research trip, and I was reminded why I love being able to sew. It wasn't long before I was sketching ideas to use all the lace I've been stockpiling – I mean collecting. First on the list is a simple t-shirt with lace trim.

    Supplies: T-Shirt – either purchased or one you made Lace – the width and length will be determined by the size of your shirt. If you wear an x-small shirt you may want to use 2 or 3 inch wide lace. My shirt is a large and I use 5 inch wide stretch lace. I have stretch lace in many widths and colors. I prefer to use similar fabrics when possible, so a stretch lace seemed like a good idea for a stretchy knit t-shirt. Thread – Invisible thread for the top or thread to match lace.

    Instructions: 1. Measure the length from the front neck line to the bottom of the front and add two inches. Cut the lace to the result of this calculation. 2. Find the center of the front of your shirt and mark by pressing a fold line or marking the neck line and bottom with pins. 3. Find the lengthwise center of your lace. 4. Line up the center lines and place the lace with one inch beyond the neck line and bottom hem edge.

    5. Pin along the long edges of the lace. 6. Using a zig-zag stitch set at 1.5 width 2.5 length, sew the long edges of the lace. 7. Fold the lace over the neck opening and edge stitch. 8. Fold the lace under the bottom hem and edge stitch. 9. Trim excess lace from the back side at the neck opening and the bottom edge.

  • T-Shirt Quilt - Part 2

    July 18, 2013

    Assembling the Blocks: 1. For any blocks that will be made from 2 or more small t-shirt pieces, sew the pieces together with a 1/2” seam allowance to make a complete block.

    2. Remembering to use a 1/2” seam allowance, sew blocks in rows, either horizontal or vertical, inserting sashing pieces as desired. Then assemble the rows and add borders, if you're wanting them.


    Layer the top with batting (if using batting) and backing. Then quilt as desired. As I am a longarm quilter (that is I use a longarm quilting machine – Facts be known, I have pretty short arms and cannot reach items on high shelves in the kitchen cabinets), my choice is to do an open free-motion design.

    Bonus Project:

    Being frugal, I just couldn't bring myself to toss the left over tee shirt parts. So, I decided it would be fun to create a necklace.

    I tied this one in an overhand knot, but I've seen friends use different techniques to hold the tubes together.

    1. Cut one, some, or all of the remaining t-shirts into one inch strips. 2. You can mix and match the shirts to get the number of strips and colors that you want. 3. Now comes the fun part – stretch the strips as much as you can. You may need to get a friend to help you if you are using extra large shirts. 4. The knit strips will curl, making fabric tubes. The finished length of a tube is determined by the size of the t-shirt from which the strips are cut.. My strips were cut from a size 'large' shirt.

    Your style preference will influence how many tubes you want in your necklace and possible color mixes. I've seen some very impressive multi-tube single and mixed-color creations.

    Of course, you may just need some dust rags or have some other creative use for the t-shirt leftovers. Those of you with a strong constitution may decide to throw the scraps away – but I know you are few in number.

  • T-Shirt Quilt - Part 1

    July 11, 2013

    Whoa there! - we are NOT making t-shirts out of quilts – but we are making a quilt out of parts of several t-shirts. Most of the readers of this blog have a collection of t-shirts from vacations, rock concerts, sports or hobbies (I'll bet on that prediction) that they can't bear to throw away.

    This blog topic is so overwhelming that it will appear in two parts. Neither part deals with how to acquire t-shirts nor the psychology of why we have t-shirt collections. If you need help in these areas, consult with someone who might be able to help you – not that it will help much, but you can try to get help.

    Your t-shirt quilt can be any size. If you have many t-shirts, you can make every block from a t-shirt. If you have only a few t-shirts, you can add some plain fabric blocks if the finished quilt size needs more blocks than t-shirts on hand. The plain fabric can be woven cotton fabric or cut from unprinted areas of  t-shirts.

    Getting Started:

    1. Pull out all the t-shirts that you think you want to use. Sort them by size of images on the shirts and perhaps a theme or related themes. 2. Roughly measure the sizes of the images and make a list of the heights and widths of the designs you want to use. 3. Decide – in general terms – how you want your finished quilt to look, overall size, and block arrangement. These criteria are likely to change as you audition block arrangements.


    1. T-shirts – Wash all used t-shirts once. New t-shirts should be washed twice to soften the fabric. 2. Non-stretchy fusible interfacing – Don't use a knit interfacing. You are using the interfacing to make the knit t-shirt non-stretchy for ease in sewing. 3. Woven cotton fabric – If you are going to add sashing and borders 4. Fabric for backing – You can use t-shirts on both sides if you have a lot of t-shirts. Plain cotton backing with batting is good or use polar fleece for backing and omit the batting. 5. Batting – A polyester batting is best if you are going to tie your quilt. A cotton or 80/20 blend batting is better for machine quilting.

    Let's get started: T-shirts:

    1. Take the side seams apart, if knit in the round, cut one side.

    2. Remove sleeves. If they have small logos remember to save them.

    3. Cut the fusible interfacing about 2 inches larger than the size of your unsewn blocks. 4. Following manufacturer's advice, fuse the interfacing to the back side of the tee-shirt sections you plan to use. 5. Note: Use a 1/2” seam allowance instead of the usual 1/4” used for other types of quilts.

    6. If all your blocks are going to be the same size, make a template from mat board, cardboard or plastic template material to mark your t-shirts. Remember to add a 1/2” seam allowance on all sides. You can also purchase a tee-shirt template that you can use with your rotary cutter from Moore's Sewing Center.

    Let the fun begin:

    1. Clear a place on the floor, or a bed top to lay out your blocks. 2. A digital picture of each potential layout will be useful as you rearrange the blocks. The pictures will also be helpful as you start to assemble your blocks.

    To be continued next week – – – –

  • Hoito Bag

    July 2, 2013

    Hoito Bag

    This bag is not your traditional bag with a well defined bottom shape, side walls, and a top opening.  It reminds me of the wrapping on a candied apple where all sides of the wrapping are gathered and held with a twist-tie at the stick which is the handle that you use to hold the apple while you are eating it. The bag, however, does have two 'built-in' fabric handles and two sides that are kind of self-closing because of elastic sewn in – there is  no stick to be stuck into the contents of the bag.

    I first saw one of these bags when I visited friends in Maui back in the 80's. The size of a Hoito bag is determined by the size of the square or rectangular piece of fabric that you use. Keep in mind that bigger tends to be synonymous with heavier, so it is best to go for the smaller size for your first bag. I speak from experience. The first one I made was big enough to put a queen size quilt in. Since then I've made smaller versions, generally big enough to hold a beach towel, suntan lotion, and a few other essentials needed for a day at the beach or by the pool. The bag also makes a great reusable shopping bag when you visit your local farmers market – just remember how heavy a watermelon and a few ears of corn can get.

    Supplies: Fabric – 1 yard ¾ inch wide elastic – ½ yard Thin batting – 2 pieces 5” x 26” Twill tape or strips of selvage – 2 pieces 36” long 1/2” ribbon or fabric ties – 24” (optional)

    Cutting: Bag – Cut one 27” x 44” rectangle Handles – Cut two 3” x 44” strips Batting – Cut two 5” x 26” strips

    Bag Instructions: 1. Overcast all four raw edges of the bag fabric with a serger or sewing machine.

    2. Press a 1” casing along both of the long (44” in this example) sides of the fabric.

    3. Place a pin 5” in from both ends of both long sides.

    4. Stitch the casing starting and ending at the 5” marks.

    5. Cut elastic into two 9” pieces, and insert a length of elastic into each casing.

    6. To prevent the elastic from disappearing into the casing, safety pin one end to the fabric before pulling the other end through.

    7. Secure the elastic ends with a zig-zag stitch.

    8. Press and sew a 1 3/4” casing along the remaining two edges. Optional – if you want, cut two 12” lengths of ribbon or make your own ties from fabric. The ties can be centered and sewn under the casing for tying the bag shut.

    Handle Instructions:

    1. Fold handle fabric, right-sides together, in half along its length and serge or sew with a 1/4” seam allowance.

    2. Turn fabric right-side out.

    3. Fold batting width-wise into fourths to form a long and skinny batting strip. Use pins to help hold the layers together. Center the twill tape on batting, leaving a 5” tail at each end.

    4. Stitch down the middle of the twill tape and batting through all thicknesses.

    5. At each end of the batting strips, insert a large safety pin through the batting and twill tape.

    6. Pull a batting strip through each handle. Gather the handle fabric so the ends of the fabric and batting are flush at each end.

    7. Re-pin the safety pins through the handle fabric, batting and twill tape at all ends and pull a handle through each bag casing. 8. Remove safety pins and pull 2” of handle fabric free from batting at all ends.

    9. For each handle, overlap the handle ends 2” and sew across the width using a zig-zag stitch a couple of times. 10. Pull the handle through the casing until the stitched overlap is hidden in the casing.

    11. Your Hoito bag is ready to use.

  • Fourth of July Table Runner

    June 25, 2013

    The Fourth is approaching rapidly. So, we need a simple, quick, and easy project to dress up a table or counter top on which you might present some tasty holiday fare or stacks of flatware and plates your guests will use to hold some tasty edibles. Supplies:

    4 – ten inch squares of coordinating fabric (such as the four fabrics shown above) batting backing binding


    1. Stack the fabric squares on  top of each other. If you want your table runner to be straight, carefully align the squares.

    2. Using your ruler and rotary cutter, make a diagonal cut slightly off center so that the resulting fabric pieces are not the same size.  This will give your runner a 'wonky' unique look.

    3. Take the top piece from the right pile and place it at the bottom of the right pile (this is shown in the picture above).  You can take the top piece from the left pile and place it at the bottom of the left pile and get the same results.

    4. Sew, with right-sides together, the top fabric pieces from each of your stacks. Each time you do this you will create a rectangular block 9 1/2” by 10”.

    5. Lay out the 'new' blocks in a row and arrange so no 'joints' between the blocks will be made up of the same original fabric square. Sew the 'new' blocks together with the 10” long edges right-sides together.

    6. Press your assembled runner top.

    7. Add some batting, backing and quilt as desired. See below for one quilting method.

    8.  I stitched in the ditch.

    9. Bind the table runner using your favorite method. 10. The binding technique I used can be found in the December 13, 2011 Mug Rug Blog.

  • Embroidered Straw Hat

    June 20, 2013

    June gloom is over and it is time to take your wide brim straw hat(s) out of storage to protect your face from the summer sun's strong rays. Whether you wear your hat for protection from sun and weather while working in the garden or for those long walks on a beach (if you live near a beach, otherwise any location where you spend a lot of time exposed to the sun's rays), an embroidery design can give your hat a designer touch and maybe even impress some of your friends who frequently ask “What have you been sewing these days?”.

    Supplies: Synthetic-straw floppy brim hat Embroidery design Water soluble stabilizer Water soluble topper Blue painters tape

    Instructions: 1. Locate one of your large embroidery hoops, or maybe your largest hoop.  The hoop shown is an 8” hoop (200mm). This will allow the hat to lay flatter. 2. Hoop water soluble stabilizer.

    3. Flatten the crown of the hat and place the brim towards the machine throat so that the hoop has room to move and the hat does not brush up against the machine. The hat will NOT be crunched INSIDE the throat, which likely would cause distortion of the design and possible damage to the hoop driving mechanism. 4. Tape the edge of the hat brim to the stabilizer with painters tape. I tried temporary spray adhesive to hold the brim, but the adhesive was not strong enough. If your hoop is too small, the hat brim will not remain attached to the stabilizer or the stabilizer may tear. A possible substitute for the straw hat is a 'floppy' fabric hat that is more flexible (or ask a friend with a larger machine and hoops to join you in a collaboration of effort to make at least one straw hat for each of you). 5. Place water soluble topper on top to prevent stitches from sinking into the ridges of the hat weave. Avoiding the area where the design will be sewn, tape down the topper.  6. Sew the design.

    7. After sewing, trim away the excess stabilizer. Any excess topper should pull off easily. 8. A damp sponge will easily remove any remaining stabilizer.

    Depending on the embroidery design, you may want to match the bobbin thread to the top thread because the back of the design will show. This means that you change the bobbin thread at the same time that you change the top thread during the sew out of the design.

  • Auto - Car - Truck Trash Bag

    June 13, 2013

    For many of us, summertime means more time spent riding in the car and more snack wrapper trash. For others, a trash bag with a little 'body' might be easier to use than a weightless plastic, T-shirt style, makeshift trash bag. This trash bag can be made any size that fits your car/truck needs. My car has a hook intended for hanging a bag, so this bag is sized to fit there. Take a look at your car. Decide where you want to hang a bag and what size you want your bag to be. Adjust the measurements of bag parts accordingly. The finished size of mine is 9 1/2” x 10 1/2”

    Supplies: 13” x 22” main fabric 13 1/2” x 22” lining fabric 2 1/2” x length of handle needed


    - Bag:

    1. Note: All seams are 1/4” unless otherwise stated. 2. Fold the main fabric in half, matching the 13” raw edges and creating a rectangle 13” x 11”.

    3. Serge or sew the side seam.

    4. Fold tube so the seam is centered on back. 5. Serge or sew the bottom seam. 6. Form the bottom corners by matching side fold to bottom seam and marking 1 1/2” from point. Repeat on other side. 7. Serge or sew the corners. I used a serger and lined the mark up with the cutting blade. Turn the bag right-side out. 8. Repeat with the lining fabric. Do not turn right-side out. 9. Place the lining fabric inside the main fabric bag so the wrong sides are together. 10. The lining fabric is 1/2” longer than the main fabric and will extend 1/2” above the main fabric bag.

    11. Fold the lining fabric over the main fabric and press. 12. Fold the top edge over again 1” and press. 13. Edge stitch the lower edge of the folded fabric. Set aside.

    - Handle:

    1. Fold the shorter raw edges 1/2” to wrong side of fabric and press or stitch to hold them in place. 2. Fold the longer raw edges to the center line and fold again lengthwise along the centerline.

    3. Edge stitch along both long sides of the handle. 4. Attach the handle to the back of the trash bag. In the photo above, the handle is centered on the rear seam and is intended to hang from a single, narrow hook.  You may have a 'wide' mounting surface or two separated points that need a longer handle with the ends individually sewed to the back of the bag. 5. Don't forget to empty your trash bag contents into an appropriate container to help keep our planet clean!

  • Beach Bag

    June 4, 2013

    Summer Time, so let's try to make living easier. Whether the fish are jumping or not, we can use a cotton or maybe canvas bag, to make an inexpensive custom tote which is good looking when dad, or mom, or the kids need a convenient way to tote some stuff. (I hear some music in my head.......)

    If this bag is going to be a gift for your child’s teacher, how about filling it with a few items for her/his summer break: Sunscreen, magazine, water bottle, snacks.

    You can make or buy a tote bag – your choice.

    Supplies: Canvas tote bag Heat n' Bond Heavy (No sewing needed) Scraps of fabric

    1. I used stencils to create my letters, but you can use a Silhouette Cameo, if you have one, to cut the fabric letters.

    2. Trace your letters onto the Heat n' Bond.  Important – make sure you trace them BACKWARDS. Make sure the Heat n' Bond is the heavy or NO SEW kind so it will have the stronger adhesive. 3. If you are going to use one piece of fabric for all of the letters, you can leave them together on the Heat n' Bond.  Otherwise, group the letters based on the fabric to be used either when you trace them on the Heat n' Bond or before fusing the Heat n' Bond to the backside of the appropriate fabric. 4. Following the instructions on the package – fuse the Heat n' Bond to the backside of the fabric(s).

    5. Cut each letter on the traced outline. DO NOT CUT where there are closely spaced lines from parts that hold the stencil together. Cut and remove all completely inside areas of a letter (if any). For the 'E' above, DO NOT cut off the top and bottom 'legs' of the 'E' even though there are gaps in the top and bottom leg outlines. There is an inside area in the 'R' to remove. B, D, O, P, Q, and R are the letters that typically have inside areas.  If you choose a fancy font, you may encounter a different set of letters with inside areas. If you use lower case letters, don't forget that 'pesky' dot for the 'i' and 'j'. 6. Remove the paper liner from the backside of each letter. 7. Fuse the letters to the tote following the directions on the Heat n' Bond package.

    Your tote is now ready to use.

  • Laundry Bag

    May 28, 2013

    Keeping with our current theme of getting ready for a vacation, I decided to make a laundry bag. Mesh fabric is very popular currently, and the colors are bright and fun. What better fabric is there to make a laundry bag – particularly if your vacation includes packing a bathing suit? A laundry bag made out of mesh fabric will allow damp items to air dry. – no, not when packed in a suitcase – this is not magic fabric, it is mesh fabric.


    ½ yard of 60” wide nylon mesh for the lower bag panel – the green in my case ¼ yard of 60” wide nylon mesh for the upper bag panel - black 1 ½ yards drawstring cording scrap of water-soluble stabilizer (at least 1 inch square)


    From the top mesh (black in my sample) cut a strip 36” wide x 9” high. From the bottom mesh cut a rectangle 36” wide x 18” high. Pin the top mesh panel to the bottom mesh panel along the 36” edge.

    1. Using a 1/2” seam allowance, sew or serge the panels right-sides together. For your meshes, this may seem to be an ambiguous statement, but the fact is that my black mesh does not have a right-side and the green mesh does have a right-side. 2. Finger press the seam towards the bottom panel and topstitch along the seam to secure the seam in the facing down position. 3. Fold the panel in half right-sides together to form an 18” x 26”  rectangle. There is always a right-side for this step. The raw edges of the joining seam must be out. 4. Sew along the bottom and side with a 1/2” seam allowance. I changed thread color to match the mesh. 5. If you do not like the look of raw edges on the inside of your bag you can use a serger or do a french seam finish. (See the tutorial on how to do a french seam in the pillowcase blog posted on January 22, 2013.) 6. At the fold in the top mesh, opposite the seam just sewn, mark 1/2” on each side of fold and 1” down from top edge.  The center butterfly pin along the top edge in the photo is the fold line.

    7. Place water soluble stabilizer on the wrong side of the mesh. Remove pins before sewing a buttonhole.

    8. Following the instructions for your machine, sew a 3/4” horizontal buttonhole 1 1/4” down from the top raw edge and between the vertical pins. 9. Cut buttonhole open.

    10. Trim away excess stabilizer.

    11. Fold down top raw edge 1/2”. Finger press and secure with pins. 12. Fold down another 1/2” and pin. 13. Edge stitch along the inner fold all the way around to form the casing. 14. Attach a safety pin to one end of the cording and feed through the casing. 15. To prevent cording from pulling out of casing, sew across the casing on the side with the seam. 16.  The excess water-soluble stabilizer will dissolve when held under running water.

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