Sunday, December 7, 2014

Merry Mug Rug Blog Hop

christmas mug rug free motion embroidery the sewing chick

A small project like a mug rug is a great opportunity to try a new technique. When Jennifer at Ellison Lane asked me to participate in her holiday mug rug hop, I knew it would be the perfect time to try free motion embroidery with applique.

I was inspired by Poppy Treffrey's book, Freehand Machine Embroidery, and the beautiful creations from my Flickr friend, Jackie {chloeandme}. It would probably have been a good idea to practice a little before making the mug rug, but instead I just jumped right in and started.

I began with some Essex yarn-dyed linen in flax and some sweet Liberty of London fabrics. I bought the prints in a sixteenth-yard piece bundle from this shop. These bundles are a great way to get an affordable assortment of these pricey prints.

To make the pattern pieces, I doodled the trees which was easy, but for the car, I found an image online and then traced over it on my iPad.  Because Liberty is lightweight, I used fusible web, traced the pieces on the paper backing (in reverse!) and cut them out. I drew in the hills and laid out the paper pattern pieces for placement.

Ignore the words, I had the crazy notion that I could free motion them, but they are so small that I decided against it. If I had more time, I would have stitched them by hand.

This kind of embroidery is done in layers, with the background areas done first and then adding each piece toward the foreground. I spray basted my quilt batting to the linen and stitched the hills first. I chose to go back and forth three times for the look I wanted.

Then I added the trees, one layer at a time starting with the bottom. The best tip I think I can give you is to not get stressed over every stitch. As I started this, I thought to myself, "oh my, this is terrible!" But as I added each layer and the piece began to take shape, each stitch becomes less important and the overall feel of my work began to come forward. This is supposed to be free-form and imperfect, that adds to the charm! Mine certainly could be better, and with practice, I will do a better job of the stitches being more on top of each other.

The car was added next, stitching around the outer edge. Then I drew in the details with a Frixion pen and stitched over the lines.

Then the presents were added and finally the free motion bow on the top!

A couple of fun button wheels finish the car!

The mug rug is finished by trimming the embroidered piece to size and layering it with a backing fabric - I used red and white ticking, an absolute favorite of mine. Baste around the edge and add a pretty binding.

There is no official mug rug standard size, make it whatever size you want. This is a generous 8" x 11 1/2", big enough for a big mug of cocoa and a cookie. Or two.

I hope this inspires you to try free motion embroidery and applique, it takes a bit of practice, but if you can free motion quilt, you can do this.

Thank you to Jennifer for inviting me to be a part of her Merry Mug Rug series. Be sure to visit her blog for a great giveaway for a $30 gift certificate to Southern Fabric and to see a list of the other participating bloggers.

Happy Sewing and Happy Holidays,

Tessa Marie

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Friday, November 28, 2014

A Finished Quilt - Low Volume and Vintage Roses

modern handmade quilt plus block the sewing chick

Happy Friday friends!! This quilt top didn't have to sit around too long waiting to be quilted - a testament to how much I love it.  The soft, vintage roses against the low volume background and a simple design that features the fabrics are the definition of pretty in my book!

modern handmade quilt plus blocks the sewing chick

Each block measures 11 1/2", you can see the dimensions of the cut pieces in this post, {EDIT - SOME PEOPLE WERE HAVING TROUBLE VIEWING THE DIAGRAM SO I HAVE ADDED IT TO THE END OF THIS POST} (resulting in an overall finish of 58" square, big enough for snuggling under on the couch (or standing on a deck staring out at the water, whatever).

A coordinating rose backing and an allover medium stipple quilting design complete the soft look and add texture.

I used a text print for the binding, and machine stitched it in place.

 I tried a slightly different method this time, a big deal for me since I am a card carrying member of the binding police (not really, but I am a little fussy about binding). Tina at OneLittlePooh (also know as Emily Ann's Kloset on Etsy and Instagram) has a great tutorial, here. Where I usually stitch my binding in the ditch on the front, Tina stitches hers along the edge of the binding on the back. Using the previous stitching line as a guide, I was able to still get the stitches "in the ditch" or pretty darn close on the front. It went much faster and I am satisfied with the result. I was careful not to get any stitches too close where they would end up on the front binding. This picture shows a close up of the back binding on the left and the front on the right.

I really enjoyed making this quilt! A lesson learned in sew what you love - not what is "in" or what other people are doing or what you think you should be doing, but what really makes you happy!!

Quilt Summary:

finished size - 58" square

fabrics - October Sky by Verna Mosquera, Hand Drawn Garden by Anna Maria Horner for crosses, an assortment of low volume and text prints, too many to list for background; Annette Tatum's Bouquet for the backing; Frances Newcombe's Cherie text print for the binding.

batting - Warm & White 100% cotton

thread -  Aurifil cotton 50wt.

My girl has become quite the assistant to me - holding up quilts and modeling them, so I leave you with this...

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

EDIT - HERE'S THE DIAGRAM: Thank you to Kristy Daum for providing it.

Low Volume Oakshott Plus Block by AdrianneNZ

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Alison Glass Celestial Gift Along Project

holiday apron alison glass fabric and celestial the sewing chick blog

Pattern and fabric designer, Alison Glass invited me to participate in her new Celestial quilt pattern Gift Along. Her task for us is to demonstrate how versatile the pattern can be by using the paper pieced blocks in smaller, gift items. So, if you thought that quilt blocks are just for quilts, think again!

Celestial includes six different star blocks that can be used in a myriad of different ways. I have chosen to use two of them to turn an ordinary apron into a festive holiday hostess gift.

I used an assortment of Alison Glass fabrics in deep raspberry and lime green, a modern alternative to traditional Christmas red and green, and added a white on gray dot for the base fabric.

holiday apron celestial pattern alison glass fabric the sewing chick blog

 The 8-inch star "C" block brightens up the square bib...

And dancing across the bottom, a band of seven of the 4" star "A" blocks...

Any apron pattern with a square bib will work for this project. I didn't use a pattern, just took some measurements and started cutting! These are the sizes for the pieces I cut if you need a starting point, but I strongly suggest you cut them according to your own body measurements. You can see the apron is a little loose on my smaller, slimmer daughter in the first picture.

The bib is lined with a piece cut 12 1/2" x 14"
The star band at the bottom is lined with a piece cut 32 1/2" x 4 1/2"
Waistband, cut two pieces that are 3 1/2" x 17"
Side ties, cut four pieces that are 4 1/2" x 21"
Neck loop, 3" x 20" (mine came out a little long, adjust as needed)
Skirt 32 1/2" x 13"

Seam allowances around the blocks are 1/4", all other seam allowances are 1/2"

This inside photo shows the lined areas. Serge or use an overlock stitch on the skirt band seams.

Side tie, detail of center pleat:

I hope you like this project and are inspired to make one of your own using the Celestial pattern. Alison is generously hosting a link up on her blog where one lucky winner will get a signed copy of her new book, Alison Glass Applique and a $25 gift certificate to her shop. You can make a featured project or come up with one of your own. If you need some additional inspiration, see what these clever bloggers will be making over the next two weeks:

Alyssa from Pile O’ Fabric
Megan from Quilt Story
Nicole from Snips Snippets
Nicole from Modern Handcraft 
Brooke from Silly Mama Quilts

If you are on Instagram, post what you are making (in progress) and tag #celestialgiftalong for the chance to win a weekly pattern draw.

You have until December 10th to link up your project, good luck and let's get sewing!!

Happy Holidays,

Tessa Marie

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Windmill border and a mini tutorial

Today I am sharing the border I added to my friend Melissa's Medallion quilt.

The hardest part with these travelling quilts is deciding what to add, especially as they grow and the borders get longer (best to do the more intricate borders in the first few rounds). I felt that this quilt has lots of pointy-ness going on already so it needed something with square corners.

These little windmills measure 4" square when finished and are so quick and easy - here is a picture tutorial on how to make them.

Easy-peasy, right?

Sometimes, because these quilts are made up as they go along, the measurements don't quite jive with each other. I had to piece in about 3/4" on each end to make it all fit. It looks a little funky upclose, but from a distance, you can hardly see it - squint your eyes! Thankfully, Melissa is a super sweet and easy going and I doubt she will mind.

I will be handing this quilt over to the next stitcher this weekend as we all get together for a fun sewing retreat in the mountains - better bring my woolies!

Linking up at My Quilt Infatuation.

Needle and Thread Thursday

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Woodsy Blocks

I am a member of the Trust Circle of do.Good Stitches, a Flickr charity quilt group founded by Rachel Hauser of Stitched in Color. We have a great group of talented and generous women and I feel blessed to be a part of it. Our task for October was to create two blocks with an outdoor theme using browns, blues and greens. Naturally the more freedom I am given with a design, the longer it takes me to decide what to do, so I waited for inspiration to strike. It didn't. I had to force it when October 31st came and went! Using the blocks already posted on Flickr as inspiration, I chose a literal and a figurative interpretation of the instructions.

The literal - this cute paper pieced owl, pattern by Bubblestitch on Etsy. I printed the pattern at 80% so the owl wouldn't be too big and added a border to bring the block size up to the required 12 1/2". I used green prints from the stash and a midnight blue for the background because owls are nocturnal, ya know?!

I have a love it/hate it thing going on with paper piecing. Love the results, hate picking out all the paper and the mess that it makes. This pattern has some teeny-tiny pieces - look at the darling little toes!

The figurative - a bear paw block. I chose some navy prints from my stash, not that I had that many, and was pretty darn excited when I found a fat quarter of the Indian Summer (Sarah Watson for Art Gallery Fabrics) animal print to use as the background.

Such a great low volume background fabric - don't you just love the little faces looking out at you!

You can see the other blocks from the Trust Circle by visiting the Flickr group page, here. Did I mention this is an amazing group of ladies? I have been with the group for two years as a stitcher and have agreed to be a quilter for next year. I am looking forward to taking my turn at making a quilt to donate to our group's charity, My Very Own Blanket.

Thanks for visiting and Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Finished Quilt - Kites

My talented and amazing friend, Lee Monroe of May Chappell Designs was preparing for her first quilt market selling her patterns when she got the call for jury duty. She told them she was preparing for market, but they were clearly unaware of the amount of work that goes into it and put her on the jury anyway! So I offered to help with some of the sewing and made up this baby quilt using one of her new patterns.

modern handcrafted baby quilt by tessa marie walker

Lee pre-cut the pieces for me with her Accu-Quilt which really saved me time so I could get right to the sewing. The Accu-Quilt cuts the notches out of the points so there is no guessing when lining up the pieces. I love that!! And pressing the seams open helped when matching up all the points.

I wanted the quilt to have lots of texture so I quilted straight lines with a walking foot within the prints and then filled in the background areas with a back and forth continuous line.

The prints are an assortment from Lee's amazing stash - some Tula Pink, Kate Spain, Jeni Baker, and Heather Ross. They are paired up with a yummy green Moda Bella solid in Pistachio. The back is a fancy goldfish print to keep the quilt fun!

I used the same green cotton for the binding which allows the prints to take center stage. If you look closely, you can see that I hand stitched the binding down! Yep, I did it just for Lee, who prefers a hand sewn binding!!

The pdf pattern will be available in November - for FREE! Follow Lee at or @maychappell on Instagram and Twitter to get the details on how to download it. 

Linking up today with Quilt Story for Fabric Tuesday.

Thank you to Lee for entrusting me  with this quilt!!

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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