Category Archives: handmade

Fabulous spring patterns from Decades of Style & Decades Everyday

We’ve talked before about our love for independent pattern company Decades of Style and our love is still going strong! For the Sewing & Stitchery Expo this year, we decided to once again feature patterns from their fantastic catalog, with a special focus on the Decades Everyday micro-line. We created a fun collection of garments that would be perfect additions to any spring wardrobe!

NSB - DoS spring wardrobeAll of our Decades of Style samples look so wonderful we want to share them with everyone! Check out all our makes below.

The two newest Decades Everyday patterns are separates: the Three’s a Charm Jacket and the Buttons & Bows Blouse.

For the expo, we were lucky enough to have an exclusive prerelease of the brand new Buttons & Bows Blouse! This fun new style has two options for pussy bow ties, buttons up the back, and has a gorgeous curved hemline.

Jeannie, who made the beautiful Dolce & Gabbana inspired dress for our anniversary sale, whipped up a Three’s a Charm in multi-color patterned wool. Though the basic pattern is unlined, she opted to add a lining and finish all edges with bias tape made from sweet printed lawn. The result is a perfect transitional weight jacket. She also constructed a Buttons & Bows using one of our all-time favorite fabrics Indian cotton voile in an iridescent blue/violet color. Jeannie made the version with the shorter ties and used a double layer of voile through the body for more coverage.

We paired the blouse with the 1940s Empire Waist Trousers from the original line, made in a lovely wool/linen suiting with a subtle lavender pinstripe. The waistline of the trouser combined with the ties of the blouse give this ensemble a sweet sailor effect!


Tamara made the Decades Everyday Given a Chance Dress. This shift dress is a great example of sophisticated simplicity, with a bias-cut, origami-inspired yoke and attractive double bust dart. Tamara’s version was made from textured Japanese cotton with a print that features 8-bit interpretations of Japanese landmarks. This style is easy to make and easy to wear!


Jessica used two Decades Everyday patterns for a sweet ensemble: the E.S.P. Dress and the Three’s a Chance Jacket. For her jacket, she used a floral print Japanese linen/cotton, constructing her version according to the instructions and leaving it unlined. For visual interest and a retro touch, she finished the facings and hems with a decorative running stitch. The result is a Three’s a Charm that is the perfect layering piece for spring.

Jessica’s E.S.P. dress was sewn from a striped linen/cotton shirting with a seersucker look. The stripes were placed horizontally on the bodice and vertically on the skirt. Though the E.S.P. is drafted as an unlined pattern, Jessica opted to line the bodice and skirt, leaving the sleeves unlined. Inspired by the stripes of the skirt, Jessica constructed the skirt with pleats, rather than gather as per the original instructions.


Marilyn, who created the fabulous Dries Van Noten inspired jacket for our anniversary sale, used the Siren Sundress pattern from the Decades of Style original line, sewing it up in sorbet colored cotton voile. This pattern, originally from the 1940s, features a unique wrap-in-the-back silhouette: long straps cross at the open back and wrap around the front waist to tie in the back. The pattern is drafted with a lined bodice and unlined skirt and straps. For additional coverage under our lightweight cotton voile, Marilyn added a full lining to the dress and doubled the straps. It’s the perfect sundress!


Will you construct any new garments for your spring wardrobe? Do you participate in Me Made May? Now’s a great time to get started! We’d love to hear what you are planning; tell us in the comments below!

HeartFelt Valentines

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! How are you planning to show a little love this year?

Inspired by our 2016 intention, I decided it would be fun to make valentines that last! Enter our “heart felt” valentines!

NSB - heartfelt valentines header

These handmade valentines are a sweet and unexpected way to show your loved ones how much you care.

I took inspiration from some of my favorite Valentine’s Day memories and came up with three fun styles for these valentines. The first is inspired by classic conversation hearts.

NSB – heartfelt convo hearts

The second style is inspired by the valentines I made as a child using paper doilies & construction paper.

NSB – heartfelt doily valentine

The third style has extra dimension and makes a great ornament, perfect for giving and decorating!

NSB – heartfelt ornament

Aren’t they sweet? I can’t wait to deliver them to all my favorite people!


Ready to make some heart felt valentines of your own? These valentines require very few supplies and are simple enough that they could be a fun project to make with children!

SUPPLIES

For all versions:

  • Download our heart templates here: NSB heart felt valentines pattern sheet
    • I recommend printing on cardstock to make a sturdy template. I find it easiest and most accurate to trace the template directly onto the felt, rather than pinning a paper pattern and cutting around.
  • Felt in any colors you prefer (I recommend a wool blend felt, though synthetic craft felt is fine).
    • My color palette was inspired by classic conversation hearts (pale pink, yellow, light blue, green, white, purple) and I added a few, more saturated colors for accents (red, magenta, hot pink, light grey).
  • Embroidery floss in colors that match your felt and also contrast it.

 

For conversation hearts:

  • Fiberfill (a 12 oz. bag will yield many hearts!)

For ornament style:

  • Thread to match felt for larger hearts (optional)
  • Short piece of ribbon (~3”; optional)

TOOLS

  • Needle for hand embroidery
  • Scissors
  • Removable ink pen (I recommend water-erasable)

For doily style:

  • Pinking shears or scallop edge scissors (optional)

For ornament style:

  • Sewing machine (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Conversation Hearts

  1. Using our template (NSB heart felt valentines pattern sheet), cut two hearts out of felt. On one heart, write out your message using the removable ink pen. Use a favorite saying or make up something special!NSB - heartfelt ch prepare pieces
  1. Using red embroidery floss, embroider your message. I recommend using two strands of floss and a backstitch. Use more floss for a bolder look.NSB - heartfelt ch embroider message
    When complete, rinse out ink, if applicable.NSB - heartfelt ch rinse markings
  2. Place two hearts together, with message side out. Using embroidery floss that matches the felt, blanket stitch around ¾ of the heart. NSB - heartfelt ch blanket stitch together 3-4
    I recommend starting in the dip at the top and stitching around one side down to the bottom point. Then, starting in the same place at the top, stitch around the heart bump on the other side and leaving a space of about 1.5” open for stuffing. Do NOT cut your floss at this stage, as it will be used to sew the opening closed.
  3. Pull a small handful of fiberfill from the bag.NSB - heartfelt ch poly fill
    Stuff the heart with fiberfill. I recommend starting with the bump on the partially sewn size, then stuffing the second bump, then the full body of the heart.NSB - heartfelt ch stuff heart
  4. When heart is fully stuffed, pin the opening, and sew closed with blanket stitch.NSB - heartfelt ch pin opening closed
  5. You are now ready to start a conversation with your sweetheart!NSB - heartfelt ch finish blanket stitching
  6. Want to make these a bit faster or more simply? These look just as adorable as solid colors! Just cut out a few hearts in each of the felt colors and then pair them at random.

    Use floss in one of the two colors (or a different color altogether) to create your blanket stitch, providing a little visual interest.

    These two-hue hearts look great on their own or mixed in with the conversation hearts!NSB - heartfelt ch convo and two color hearts


 

Doily Valentine

  1. Using our templates (NSB heart felt valentines pattern sheet), cut one large heart and one small heart in two different colors.NSB – heartfelt doily cut large small hearts
  2. With your scissors, cut freeform scallops around the edge of the large heart. I recommend starting with a single scallop at the center bottom and moving up both sides.

    You can save a little time by using pinking shears or other decorative scallop scissors.NSB – heartfelt doily pinked edges

  3. It’s time to embroider your smaller heart! Consider a simple valentine’s phrase like “love” or “be mine”, or plan to embroider a sweet motif like flowers or hearts. Not sure what to embroider? It may be helpful to trace the small heart onto paper to sketch out different styles.NSB – heartfelt doily sketch
    Using your removable ink pen, plot your decoration on the smaller heart and embroider! I like to use flosses in colors that match the large heart for a cohesive look.NSB – heartfelt doily embroidered small heart
    When complete, rinse out the ink, if applicable.
  4. Layer the two hearts, right sides up, centering the smaller. Using a running stitch, sew the small heart to the large.NSB – heartfelt doily stitch together
  5. If desired, embroider a small motif in each of the scallops, using a color to match the small heart. This is a fun way to mimic or compliment your embroidered motifs in the small heart.NSB – heartfelt doily embroider scallops
    On the back, there will be two visible sets of stitches.NSB – heartfelt doily finished back
  6. Voila! NSB – heartfelt doily finished

 

3-D Valentine Ornament

  1. Using our templates (NSB heart felt valentines pattern sheet), cut two large hearts from one color of felt and four small hearts from another.NSB – heartfelt ornament cut hearts
  2. Using a sewing machine and thread, or a hand sewing needle with thread or floss, stitch the two large hearts together from center top to center bottom. This will create a total of four ‘arms’ that make up four large hearts.NSB – heartfelt ornament sew large hearts together
    Open between the two layers on each side and fold hearts on seamline.NSB – heartfelt ornament fold on seam
  3. Center one small heart over one of the larger hearts, aligning the bottom point and top dip of the small heart to the seam- or fold-line of the larger heart. Pin the layers together on one side (I like to pin the left side first). Turning the ‘arm’ so your unpinned side is facing away, center a second small heart over the larger heart that now faces up. Pin one side of the new small heart to the large heart, catching the unpinned side of the previous small heart.NSB – heartfelt ornament pin small hearts
    Repeat for all small hearts.
  4. Using a hand needle and embroidery floss that matches the larger hearts, begin sewing through three layers with a running stitch, working from the center top to the bottom around one side of the heart.
    Repeat for all four ‘arms’. You will have four stitched small hearts.NSB – heartfelt ornament repeat for all
  5. If you like, repeating the process of step 4, add an second row of stitches to the inside. Use a different shade of floss for visual interest.NSB – heartfelt ornament second color
    Repeat a third time, with another shade of floss, if you prefer.
  6. Your 3-D valentine is complete! If you want to make it into an ornament, sew a small loop of ribbon to the top center. Otherwise, hand it to someone you love!NSB – heartfelt ornament final

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial! If hand embroidery is not your thing, consider using puff paint, glitter, sequins, buttons, or even printed fabric to help embellish your valentines!

Have a question or feedback? Please leave it in the comments below!

Quick and easy tote tutorial

This tote pattern was inspired by the best bag I ever had: big enough to carry a small selection of groceries or a creative project, but small enough that it never felt cumbersome. To expand on that bag’s great shape, I created three different sizes, each perfectly useful in its own right.

NSB - quick and easy tote tutorial header

The simplicity of this tote design provides so much opportunity to exercise creativity! Choose a fun printed fabric and embellish it with embroidery. Create some graphic patchwork and quilt it for additional texture. Paint your own fabric to be used for the outside. Make it in leather for a chic look.

This pattern goes together so quickly, I doubt you will want to make just one!

SUPPLIES

For all sizes, you will need:

  • Fashion fabric (I used printed cotton)
  • Lining fabric (I used printed cotton)
  • Webbing or ribbon for handles
  • Thread
  • Fusible fleece (optional; this adds body to the bag and stabilizes fabric)

TOOLS

  • Rotary cutter (recommended) or scissors
  • Quilter’s style see through ruler (I use 6.5” x 24”)
  • Self-healing mat (if using rotary cutter)
  • Marking tool (pen, pencil and chalk are all fine)
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Hand sewing needle (optional)

DIMENSIONS

quick and easy tote dimensions chart

Finished tote sizes:

  • The small tote finishes approximately 9.5” tall x 8.25” wide x 3.25” deep
  • The medium tote finishes approximately 12.25” t x 10.25” w x 4.25” d
  • The large tote finishes approximately 14.75” t x 12” w x 5.25” d

DIRECTIONS

For this tutorial, we show the construction of a medium tote. All seam allowances are 3/8”.

1. Cut fashion and lining fabrics to size. If using fusible fleece, follow manufacturer’s instructions to fuse to back of fashion fabric.NSB - quick and easy tote cut fabrics to size

2. For each piece of fashion fabric, find center point of top edge. Measure and mark the distance from center point according to dimensions chart (e.g. for medium tote, measure and mark 3” to either side for a total spacing of 6”).NSB - quick and easy tote mark center and strap spacing

Next, take one strap and align raw edge of webbing to raw edge of fabric along the top, matching to the  outside of the spacing mark.NSB - quick and easy tote align strap 1

Repeat with other end of strap and second spacing mark.NSB - quick and easy tote align strap 2

On sewing machine, baste straps in place (I like to sew 1/4” from the edge).NSB - quick and easy tote baste strap

3. Pin and sew one lining piece to fashion fabric along top edge using 3/8” seam allowance. NSB - quick and easy tote pin lining to outside

Repeat for second fashion fabric and lining pieces.NSB - quick and easy tote sew lining and outer pieces

Iron to set seam, then iron lining and fashion sides down (this will help create a clean finish along top edge).

4. Take one side and reopen; lay wrong side down. NSB - quick and easy tote lay wrong side down

Open second side and lay atop the first, right sides together, matching fashion fabrics and aligning the seams at edges.NSB - quick and easy tote pin tote pieces right sides together

Sew the two side seams and the bottom seam for the fashion fabric. On the bottom edge for the lining, leave a 4” to 5” opening in the center. **NOTE: it is best not to  backstitch at the corners, as these will be pressed open and cut off**NSB - quick and easy tote sew all sides leaving an opening at bottom of lining

Press flat.

5. Create the box bottom: in one corner, pull the two fabric pieces away from each other so the two seams match; press seams open. Using the ruler, measure and mark the length shown on the dimensions chart perpendicular to the seam line (e.g. for the medium tote, measure 4” from fold to fold). I find a quilting ruler marked with 45° angle to be particularly helpful to this task, as I can align with the folded edge. NSB - quick and easy tote mark box bottom outer fabricNSB - quick and easy tote mark box bottom lining

Sew on machine; be certain to backstitch at the edges. NSB - quick and easy tote sew box bottom

Trim seam allowance to 3/8”.

Repeat for all four corners. Press to set seams.

6. Turn the bag right side out through opening in bottom of lining.

Edge stitch the opening closed on the machine or blind stitch closed by hand.

NSB - quick and easy tote stitch opening closed

Fit the lining into the tote body, matching the box corners.

7. Iron the top edge (this is where that ironing in step 3 comes in handy). Pin in place, if desired.NSB - quick and easy tote iron top edge

Stitch around top 1/8” from edge; stitch again 1/4″ from edge.

8. Admire your new bag!


As mentioned above, there are many ways to personalize this tote!

In one version, I added a pocket to the lining…

…which would also work very well on the outside!NSB - reusable gift wrap large tote pocket outside

For another version, I used a printed fabric and a coordinating near solid for the lining. I added embroidery to the printed fabric and made a matching appliqué for the near solid. By finishing the ‘lining’ by hand, this becomes a reversible bag!

I hope you enjoy making your own version of this tote! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below!

Using fabric as gift wrap

After making my advent calendar, I became excited by the idea of starting another new tradition in my household: reusable gift wrap. Just thinking about the amount of torn wrapping paper that goes to recycling after opening holiday presents is enough to make me feel faint, so I thought: why not wrap gifts in something that is easily reused?

The solution? Fabric!

NSB - reusable gift wrap header

Wouldn’t it be so fun to find this stack of gifts beneath the tree?

Whether using a cut of fabric to wrap a gift or sewing it into a bag that can double as a fun holiday tote, there are many fun approaches to wrapping gifts in fabric. Let’s take a look at a few of them.


 

Earlier this year, we shared a tutorial for our easy gift bag pattern. This bag is quick-to-make and perfectly fits a wine bottle. It looks great made in a variety of fabrics, from novelty print cotton to a shimmery organza. Tailor it to the recipient or the specific bottle you are giving!

NSB - reusable gift wrap easy gift bag


 

Nancy’s carries the excellent book Wrapping with Fabric by Etsuko Yamada, which explores traditional ways of using furoshiki. Totally inspired, I decided to try a couple basic wrap styles using fabric in fun prints.

 

NSB - reusable gift wrap with fabric and book

These were wrapped in rayon challis (left) and cotton broadcloth (back right). Both prints are festive, but neither is specifically “holiday”, so they can easily be reused for other occasions.

 

While a traditional furoshiki has two selvedges and two hemmed edges, I decided to serge around the four edges of my fabric for minimal sewing. This would be a lovely way to wrap a present for someone who sews, as the wrapping fabric can double as a gift!

NSB - reusable gift wrap fabric

Can you guess what’s inside? The green parcel has a pair of books and the red gift is a sewing basket! I purchase 3/4 yard of each fabric to create my version of the furoshiki.


 

Our free grocery bag pattern (NSB grocery bag instructions) also makes a great gift bag. The shape is especially great for larger and bulkier items!

NSB - reusable gift wrap grocery bag pattern

I left off the handles for a clean finish and added ribbon for festive flair. The fabric I selected is actually toweling-by-the-yard, which is the perfect width for this pattern!


 

I love the idea of wrapping a gift inside of a gift (think of it as the turducken of giftwrap). Enter our quick and easy tote in three sizes!

NSB - reusable gift wrap three totes

These bags combine the fun and ease of wrapping in a gift bag with the practicality of a tote bag. I love the notion of filling this bag with a collection of small gifts for a deserving recipient. Make a home spa kit for a beauty enthusiast or tuck a couple books into the tote for your favorite bookworm!

All three sizes of this tote are incredibly useful and appropriate for anyone, young or old.

NSB - reusable gift wrap small tote outside

The small tote is perfect for kids or for reuse as a lunch bag!

NSB - reusable gift wrap medium tote

Our medium tote is the perfect ‘anytime’ size!

NSB - reusable gift wrap large tote outside

The large tote is an excellent size for commuters and students, easily carrying a laptop and a couple books.

Interested in making a quick-and-easy tote of your own? Check back with us tomorrow for a full tutorial!

 

Make a reusable advent calendar!

As I shared earlier this week, I love the way my reusable advent calendar turned out! I had so much fun making it, I thought others might enjoy making one, too, so I wrote up a tutorial. Check it out below!

NSB - reusable advent calendar header

A couple notes:

  • This tutorial walks through two different construction methods, starting with the more involved patchwork-style calendar and then looking at a simpler, non-patchwork calendar.
  • My calendar was designed with 25 days, rather than the more traditional 24 days. For this tutorial, I depict construction for 25 days, though I also include details & dimensions for 24 days and share a completed version after this tutorial.

 SUPPLIES

For the patchwork-style advent calendar with 25 days

  • 25 cuts of fabric 5” tall x 3.5” wide for windows
    • While I used many different fabrics, you could easily select just two fun prints or solid colors and alternate them.
  • Fabric with numbers for each day; while these can be as large as you please, they should be cut to a minimum of 1.5” square (including a ¼” seam allowance on each side)
  • 1/2 yard fabric for the pockets

For a non-patchwork calendar with 25 days

  • 5 cuts of fabric 5″ tall x 15.5″ wide for the ‘windows’
  • 5 cuts of fabric 6.5″ tall x 15.5″ wide for the pockets

For all 25 day calendars

  • 2/3 yard (approx.) fabric for the backing, facing/binding, and hanging sleeve
    • I used one fabric for the backing and a second for the facing and sleeve
  • 2/3 yard thin quilt batting or cotton flannel
  • Thread
    • I used three colors: light grey for piecing, red and green for quilting
  • Dowel for hanging (I use 3/8”)
  • Ribbon for hanging

TOOLS

  • Rotary cutter (recommended) or scissors
  • Quilter’s style see through ruler (I use 6.5” x 24”)
  • Self-healing cutting mat
  • Sewing machine
    • I used two needles: sharp for piecing and general construction, twin for quilting
  • Iron
  • Needle for hand sewing
  • Hera marker
  • Water- or air-erasable marking pen (optional)
  • Fabric safe tape (I like to use artist’s tape)
  • Quilt basting pins
  • Drill for adding holes to the dowel (optional)

Finished dimensions: 22.5” tall x 15” wide, each pocket finishes at 3” x 3”

Seam allowance is 1/4” throughout. For all piecing, sew fabrics with right sides together.

 

DIRECTIONS

PATCHWORK STYLE CALENDAR

Prepare your windows

If you are creating the patchwork style calendar, you will need one 5” tall x 3.5” wide cut for each day.

 

1. You will make five rows of five windows. Determine layout for the rows.

NSB - advent calendar window fabrics

 

 

2. Using a 1/4” seam allowance, sew together the five pieces of each row along the 5” long side, pressing seams open. Set rows aside.

NSB - ReuAdvCal piece windows

 

 

Prepare your numbers and pocket pieces

Some great ways to make your numbers include embroidery, cutting out and appliquéing felt numbers, using a number print fabric (either store bought or printed at home), painting numbers by hand, or using rubber stamps and a fabric ink pad. Numbers can be as big or as small as you like; I recommend somewhere between 1” and 2.5” in either direction.

 

3. For the patchwork style calendar, you will need to cut out each number so you have at least 1/2” on every side of the digit; each number should be a minimum of 1.5” in both height and width.

 NSB - advent calendar numbers

 

4. Begin piecing your numbers to the pocket fabric.

I will walk through the steps, but a quick view of order of construction will look like this:

Web

 

5.You will have to do some math based on the raw (unsewn) size of your numbers, but the aim is to have 3.5” wide raw pocket fronts for each number.

  • For example: if your individual unsewn number pieces are 1.5” square, you will need two 1.5” squares cut from the pocket fabric, in addition to a 1.5” x 3.5” rectangle (this allows for 1/4” seams on all pieces).
  • If your raw number pieces are 2.5” square, you will need two cuts at 2.5” x 1” and one 1” x 3.5” rectangle.
  • If your unsewn number pieces are 2” tall x 2.5” wide, you will need two pieces 2” x 1.25” and one 1.25” x 3.5” rectangle.

Basic quilt math: raw piece measurement – 0.5” = finished size. When in doubt: cut the raw pieces too big and trim after sewing.

 

Note: Keep track of the height measurement of the base piece you add to the number/sides.

 

6. Once you have cut the side and base pieces, sew the sides to your number, using a 1/4” seam allowance. Press seams toward outside. Trim, if necessary.

NSB - ReuAdvCal piece numbers to sides

 

7. Sew base piece to bottom of number/sides. Press seam down.

Repeat steps for all 25 numbers.

NSB - ReuAdvCal piece windows framed numbers

8. Lay out the framed number pieces in rows of five (1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25). Sew the five pieces of each row together, pressing seams open. Trim top of row, if necessary.

 

NSB - ReuAdvCal number row

 

9. It’s time for a little more math as you finish piecing the pocket panels. This next piece becomes the top of the pocket front and the pocket lining. Add the height measurement from the base piece to 3.25”. Cut five pieces that are this new dimension by 15.5” wide.

  • For example: if the base piece for framing the number is 1.25” tall x 3.5” wide, you add 1.25” to 3.25” for a sum of 4.5”, so you would cut five 4.5” tall x 15.5” wide pieces.

 

Sew each row of pocket fronts to one of these pieces. Press seam allowance toward the larger piece.

 

10. Turn full pocket panels face side down. Measure 3.25” up from the bottom front of the panel and use your hera marker to draw a line along the full width; this creates a crease that will allow you to fold the pocket panel with ease. When folded, there will be slight overhang on the bottom of the pocket panel back.

 

 

NSB - ReuAdvCal mark crease line

NSB - ReuAdvCal fold crease line

11. It is time to pad the pockets! If you are using quilt batting for your quilt, cut five pieces 3.25” tall x 15.5” wide. If you are using cotton flannel, cut five pieces 6.5” tall x 15.5” wide. For this tutorial, I am using batting.

With pocket panel laying open face down, place your pocket padding on the backside. If you are using batting, nestle one long edge along the crease you made with the hera marker.

***If using cotton flannel for padding, it is helpful to use the hera marker to draw a crease in the flannel just as for the pocket panel. At this step, nest the folded edge of the flannel inside the fold of the pocket piece.

NSB - ReuAdvCal pad pocket lay flat

Fold pocket around batting and pin in place.

NSB - ReuAdvCal pad pocket fold over

12. Sew through all layers close to the folded edge. I sewed my panels using two hues for additional cheer.

NSB - ReuAdvCal stitch pocket panel edge

13. Measuring from the folded edge, trim pocket panels to 3.25” tall.

NSB - ReuAdvCal trim pocket panel

Trim side edges of pockets panels, if necessary. Each pocket panel should be 15.5” wide.NSB - ReuAdvCal trim pocket panel edges

14. Place each pocket panel over its corresponding window panel, aligning bottom raw edges and pin in place.

NSB - ReuAdvCal align pocket panels to windowsNSB - ReuAdvCal pin pockets to windows

Baste the pocket panels to the window panels along the bottom edge.

NSB - ReuAdvCal baste pockets to windows

15. Sew the pocket/window rows together, ensuring the seams are aligned.

NSB - ReuAdvCal rows stitched together

16. To create a little depth to the pockets, we are going to press the seam allowances ‘up’. To start, press the seam allowances flat to set the stitches.

NSB - ReuAdvCal press calendar flat to set stitches

Starting with the top row, pocket front face down, use your steam iron to press the windows up.

NSB - ReuAdvCal press windows up

Next, understitch seam allowance to the base of the windows.

NSB - ReuAdvCal understitch seam allowances

Using your steam iron, press the pocket panel up. Pin into place to prevent flapping.

NSB - ReuAdvCal press pockets up

Repeat for rows two, three, and four; the bottom row should be left flat.

NSB - ReuAdvCal calendar ready to sandwich

17. Next, create a quilt sandwich:

Cut the batting or cotton flannel so it is somewhat larger that your calendar front; cut the backing fabric so it is larger than the batting/flannel.

Lay your backing fabric (right side down) on a clean, flat surface. Smooth the fabric and secure the perimeter with tape. Layer your batting or cotton flannel over the backing fabric, smoothing so it lays flat, then layer the calendar front (right side up) over the batting.

Starting in the center of the calendar front and moving outward, pin baste through all layers.

NSB - ReuAdvCal make quilt sandwich

Quilt sandwich: ready to go!

18. To create the individual pockets, quilt straight lines from the top to the bottom, centered between numbers.

 

The seam lines between windows and numbers double as excellent guides, but it may be helpful to mark your quilting lines. Columns should be marked as 3” wide.

NSB - ReuAdvCal layers quilted

I used a twin needle with thread in two colors to achieve a festive look.

NSB - advent calendar pocket rows

19. Trim the quilted calendar so it is 23” tall and 15.5” wide.

NSB - ReuAdvCal trim calendar

  1. Finish the edges by adding a facing. This tutorial from Victoria Gertenbach offers very clear step-by-step instructions.

 NSB - ReuAdvCal add facing

21. In order to hang the calendar, you will need to sew a hanging sleeve to the back. I like this tutorial from Jacquie Gering, though I cut my piece 4.5” tall (the sleeve will finish as 2”, which is more appropriate for a quilted piece of this size).

NSB - ReuAdvCal add hanging sleeve

22. Cut your dowel to the finished width of your calendar and drill two small holes for your ribbon (I like to drill just beyond the width of my finished hanging sleeve).

NSB - ReuAdvCal hanging sleeve and dowel

23. String ribbon through the holes…

NSB - ReuAdvCal string ribbon through holes

…and hang it up!

NSB - reusable advent calendar complete

Enjoy using your reusable advent calendar for the first time!

 

NON-PATCHWORK CALENDAR

Prepare your windows

For the non-patchwork style calendar, you will need five cuts of fabric 5” tall x 15.5” wide. Iron and set aside.

Prepare your pocket pieces

For the non-patchwork calendar, you will add your numbers directly to the pocket fabric. Begin by marking guidelines on the five 6.5” x 15.5” pieces with the marking pen:

  • Measure 3.25” up from one long edge and mark the full 15.5” width
  • Measure 7.75” in from one short edge and lightly mark on each edge and on the marked line
  • From center point, measure and mark 1.5” to the right, along the full 6.5” height.
  • From this new line, measure 3” to the right and mark the full height
  • Repeat last two steps to the left of the marked center point

You will have two rows of boxes; on the bottom row of each piece, add your numbers inside the guidelines using your preferred method. The five pieces should be numbered 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25.

 Print

After preparing all fabric pieces, follow steps 10 through 23 as for the patchwork style calendar.

 

24 DAY ADVENT CALENDAR

I reworked the layout of my 25 day calendar a bit for those who prefer a more traditional 24 day advent calendar.

NSB - ReuAdvCal 24 day non-patchwork

This is the layout for the 24 day calendar, made following the non-patchwork instructions. The numbers were cut out of felt and stitched to the pocket fronts with embroidery floss.

Alternate dimensions, supplies, and directions are as follows:

For either style of calendar (patchwork or non-patchwork) with 24 days

Updated row layout is four rows of six numbers (1-6, 7-12, 13-18, 19-24).

Finished dimensions of the 24 day calendar are: 18” tall x 18” wide (pockets still finish 3” x 3”).

 

SUPPLIES (24 days):

For the patchwork-style advent calendar with 24 days

  • 24 cuts of fabric 5” tall x 3.5” wide for windows
  • Fabric with numbers for the 24 days, can be as large as you please though they should be cut to a minimum of 1.5” square (including a ¼” seam allowance on each side)
  • 1/2 yard fabric for pockets

 

For a non-patchwork calendar with 24 days

  • 4 cuts of fabric 5” tall x 18.5” wide for the ‘windows’
  • 4 cuts of fabric 6.5” tall x 18.5” wide for the pockets

 

All other supplies and tools as listed for 25 days calendar

 

 

For 24 day patchwork calendar

Alt.9: cut the pocket lining piece as calculated height x 18.5” wide.

 

For either 24 day calendar

Alt.11: cut batting as 3.25” tall x 18.5” wide or cotton flannel as 6.5” tall x 18.5” wide.

 

Alt.13: pocket panels should be 18.5” wide.

 

Alt.16: follow the steps for rows one, two, and three; row four should be left flat.

Once Upon a Time raffle

One of our favorite things about being a small business is having opportunity to participate in and positively impact our community. For the past few years, we have held a raffle to benefit Mary’s Place, a wonderful local resource for homeless women and children.

We are thrilled to announce our 3rd annual 18” doll clothes raffle, the Once Upon a Time raffle. This year, we are pairing up with Queen Anne Book Company as we feature beloved children’s books and their heroines!

NSB - Once Upon a Time raffle header

The staff at Nancy’s has drawn inspiration from our favorite books to create more than 12 costumes befitting the awesome girl characters that we love. Even better? Queen Anne Book Company is providing a copy of each book that inspired the costumes!

We are selling raffle tickets now through December 23, 2015. Each ticket is $2 (cash or check only) and can be purchased in-store at either Queen Anne Book Company or Nancy’s Sewing Basket.

Let’s take a look at the incredible creations made by the Nancy’s staff:

DSCF1843

Alice from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

NSB - Once Upon a Time raffle - The Borrowers

Arrietty from Mary Norton’s The Borrowers

NSB - Once Upon a Time raffle - Eloise

Eloise from Kay Thompson’s Eloise

Harriet from Harriet the Spy

Harriet from Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy

NSB - Once Upon a Time raffle - Heidi

Heidi from Johanna Spyri’s Heidi

Hermione from Harry Potter

Hermione from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

NSB - Once Upon a Time raffle - Little House in the Big Woods

Laura (r) & Mary (l) from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods

NSB - Once Upon a Time raffle - Corduroy

Lisa from Don Freeman’s Corduroy

DSCF1840

Madeline from Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeline

NSB - Once Upon a Time raffle - Pippi Longstocking

Pippi from Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking

NSB - Once Upon a Time raffle - Beezus and Ramona

Ramona from Beverly Cleary’s Beezus and Ramona

NSB - Once Upon a Time raffle - TGW Circumnavigated Fairyland

September from Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

NSB - Once Upon a Time raffle - TGW Fell Beneath Fairyland

September from Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

NSB - Once Upon a Time raffle - TGW Soared Over Fairyland

September from Catherynne M. Valente’s The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two

While tickets are available for purchase in-store, if you live out of the area and would like to buy raffle tickets, please give us a call at our store (206-282-9112) and our staff will tell you how you can participate in the raffle.

Reusable advent calendar

Who can believe it is already December 1st? As we start counting down the days to the holidays, I thought it would be fun to share a handmade project that helps to do exactly that!

Inspired by one of my favorite holiday traditions, I decided it would be great to make an advent calendar that can be reused from one year to the next.

NSB - reusable advent calendar header

When designing this calendar, I wanted to capture the essence of the classic window style advent calendar, choosing to feature individual fabrics for the days. In lieu of doors, I created small pockets, which can be filled with a variety of objects, like small gifts or treats.

After determining the size and shape of this advent calendar, I began pulling fabrics from my stash, picking out a few novelty prints, which all have a fun, retro quality, and then selecting coordinating prints and yarn-dyes from our store. My color palette ended up as classic red and green, which I updated slightly by adding a pale grey for the pockets and any framing for smaller cuts.

NSB - advent calendar window fabrics

Inspired by talented embroidery artists, like Yoko Saito, Rebecca Ringquist, and my coworkers Susan and Kitrina, I decided to embroider the numbers for each pocket. I began by finding a font I liked for the numbers (Desdemona), which I printed onto Sticky Fabri-Solvy™. To pick up the colors in my fabrics, I selected three hues each in red and green.

NSB - advent calendar embroidery supplies

I had fun experimenting with different stitches and let the shapes of the numbers inform some of my designs. For a bit more visual interest, I embroidered the even numbers in green and odd numbers in red, adding an occasional silver stitch for effect.

NSB - advent calendar pocket rows

I am particularly fond of the last row of numbers, because each number has some red and some green. Plus, 22 is a pair of candy canes and 24 is a little house, which were so fun to stitch out.

Though embroidering the numbers took some time, the rest of the construction was very simple. And I am so pleased with the result!

NSB - reusable advent calendar complete

While the calendar I made will house little treats and gifts, in keeping with the concept of reusability, I love the idea of filling each pocket with an ornament that can be added to the tree after retrieving from the calendar. Alternately, it would be very fun to track the days by moving a small holiday token forward each day.

If you like this calendar – and want to make one for yourself – stay tuned later this week for a tutorial on how to make one of your very own!