Archives for category: Finish

This more of a show and tell post.  Here’s what’s goin’ on around these parts!

I finished a new bag!  It can be so difficult to source hardware locally.  I keep trying, but the one location I usually go to, this last time felt like they were phasing out their hardware stock.  Slim pickin’s there, so I went online.  I would love to hear your favorite online source for purse hardware – please do share.

So I picked the Checkered Shoulder Bag to make up – and proudly, did not buy any fabric.  Everything was in the stash. Maybe the stash is getting too big… nah, no such thing!  After my first pass through this book, Natural Patchwork, the Checkered bag was on my mental to-do list.  I have been wanting to make a cross-body bag, and needed a place to put my new Team Tiger patch.  Kill two birds with one stone!  Team Tiger patch is from Mokuyobi.


Last weekend our guild had a charity sew-in day during our quilt show.  Here’s some guild members getting busy! The East Bay Modern Quilters collaborated with another local guild, the East Bay Heritage Quilters.  Those ladies are super dedicated to the children’s charity quilts, thanks ladies!


Children’s Quilts sew day at Stitch Modern 2016

Here is my quilt hanging in the show.  It is called Sampler Quilt I – yes, I’m great at creative titles.


Sampler Quilt I – with blocks from Tula Pink City Sampler and The Farmer’s Wife

And lastly, here are some trimmings from my work on the postage stamp quilt that is sloooowly progressing.  Actually bad news on that front, my quilt math was wrong — I had to cut 140 more strips (and also sew them) AND add two side borders to make the final quilt the size I want it to be.  I was disappointed, but I guess this is as good a time as any to make that discovery.  🙂


A giveaway, did you hear that right?!  I think this might qualify my tiny little blog as a real grown-up blog… how did that happen?  Well, I’ll tell you how. There are a number of super creative and talented folks in my quilt guild, The East Bay Modern Quilters. One of these individuals happens to be Kim Andersson, the fine lady of i adore pattern, and creator of Good Hair Day fabric with Windham Fabrics.


Floor Pouf – photo courtesy of Kim Andersson

I made a floor pouf for her from her exciting new fabric line, arriving in stores now.  It was a joy to play with her colors.  For me, there were a couple of unexpected pairings in her line, and they all got along together beautifully in the finished project. I loved stretching my color design muscles in a different direction.  The pouf has two large panels that were pieced, the top and bottom panel.


Playing with GHD fabric strips.

My biggest problem was deciding which panel should be the top because I loved them both so much. Kim said that’s a good problem to have – and really, she was right!  I used the Floor Pouf pattern from Anna Graham’s book Handmade Style.


Floor pouf in Kim’s gorgeous booth at Quilt Market.  Photo courtesy of Kim Andersson.

Everyone needs a Good Hair Day, and you can enter to win one charm pack by responding to my post.  Tell me, when was your last Good Hair Day?  It’s been a while for me… mental note, make an appointment with the hairdresser, STAT!   The comments will be open until  January 21st, and I will announce the winner here on the 22nd. Open to international and US entries.  Check below for the rest of the blog-hop lineup, there are some beautiful makes and talented makers!   Thanks for stopping by.



The idea got into my head last year that I wanted to make new stockings for the kids.  I just didn’t yet know what I wanted them to be, so last year it never happened.


Fast forward to last month, and I saw the cutest patchwork stockings ever on my meanderings in and around Instagram.   (My Instagram handle is @mamacatquilts in case you want to follow me.) Next thing I know, I am browsing through the blog at Sunny Day Supply, and reading the details of their stocking tutorial post here and part 2 here.  That was the inspiration I needed to get started. The project had simple patchwork, a little bit of handwork and adorable fabrics.  What’s not to love?!  The tutorial comes with (among other things) a stocking template, diamond template, guidance on piecing diamonds, a new-to-me quilting technique AND step-by-step instructions to get you through.


Whenever I see templates, I put the brakes on – I have to tell you, I do anything I can to avoid using templates.  I just don’t get the accuracy I want with them, and it feels like it takes so much longer to deal with them.  It never feels worth the trouble.  When I printed out the template, I realized if I placed two sides of the diamond parallel to the grain of the fabric, the height of the diamond was 2 1/2″ inches tall.  It’s brilliant, now all I need to do is cut 2 1/2″ strips of fabric with my rotary cutter and ruler.  If one doesn’t mind using templates as much as I, you could stop there.  Then, all you need to do is trace two remaining sides of your template onto the strip and cut it out.  But, I took it a step further.  When I measured the side of the diamond shape, I found that it measured out to 3.5 inches and the acute angle measured out at 45 degrees.  The entire shape can easily be cut by rotary cutter and ruler!

The height of the diamond is 2.5 inches.

The height of the diamond is 2.5 inches.

If you have it, it helps to use the section of the cutting mat that has half-inch grid markings, that 3.5 inch side of the the diamond will measure more easily and accurately there.  To speed things up even more, I stacked 2 or 3 strips together before cutting the diamonds.

Use the 45 degree mark on your ruler to get the angle you need.

Use the 45 degree mark on your ruler to get the angle you need. Put the 45 line even with your fabric strip as shown.

I added one other thing that the tutorial didn’t – it is a faux binding in the front of the stocking.  I cut a 1.5″ strip with the length trimmed to match the length of the top of the stocking. Then I folded it in half, and sandwiched it between the front piece and the lining piece. When I stitched that seam, it was sticking out on the right side and I just folded and pressed it down to look like binding.


I went to town selecting fabrics that were mostly Christmas colors, and mostly graphic shapes.  I was thrilled with how they turned out. Two stockings the same yet different, perfect for two  sisters. Next year I may make felt monograms to hand stitch onto the front.

With the kids’ stockings all done, I started to explore a different palette – soft and gentle with a hint of sparkle.  I like this one too!  Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season.  Thanks for stopping by!



You could say that we are obsessed with everything kitty around here. Our felines have trained us well, we can open doors on cue, turn on faucets for the freshest water and sit still for lap cat naps.  We are good stewards of modern cat living.





When my friend Terri of The Quilted Fox asked for testers for her new I Spy the Alphabet Quilt pattern, the first thing that came to mind was C-A-T, of course! I wondered what I could make with only three blocks and did not come up with much.  But then I remembered Elizabeth Hartman‘s cat quilt, and voila – we have four blocks and a new tote bag!  I couldn’t stop with just one cat block, so I made four more for the back of the tote bag.  It was so fun to dig around in my scrap bin to create these cat faces.

Cat Tote Front

Cat Tote Front

Cat Tote Back

Cat Tote Back

Terri’s Alphabet Quilt is bold and modern and fun to make.  It is a paper piecing pattern, but don’t let that deter you from trying.  I am not experienced at paper piecing, and you can’t even see the little errors I made.  🙂  There are so many paper piecing tutorials on the internet, you’ll be a pro in no time.  Terri’s pattern also lends itself so well to fussy cutting, you could go crazy with different themes.   Maybe even a little cat-crazy…  My fussy cut cat fabric was manufactured by Michael Miller, and were scraps from pajamas I made years ago.  I suspect the fabric is no longer in print.  But don’t worry, I’ve done alot of market “research” and there are lots of great kitty fabrics on the market right now.  Whiskers and Selena approve.

It’s been a while, but that’s not because there is nothing going on…

Do you support local schools with auction items?  This year I decided to make and donate a bag to the auction for my daughter’s elementary school – I’m hoping it at least makes as much money as I spent making it!  This bag is made from the I’ll Have One of Everything Bag pattern from Anna Maria Horner’s book Seams To Me and includes upcycled denim and corduroy. I added some hand stitching for interest, and a couple of prints for color.  It turned out quite nice, if I do say so myself, fingers crossed it finds a good home.


Book and torn strips for the purse handle.

Book and torn strips for the purse handle.

During spring break around here Big Sis went away for a couple of days, so Li’l Sis helped me make these really fun jellybean bean bags.  It’s amazing how quick these came together with a little helper, she was the felt cutter and right side out turner and also bean filler!  (Didn’t leave much for me to do)  The girls and their cousin each got 3 – unfortunately their shape doesn’t lend themselves well to juggling.  I’m sure they can be used for mischief somehow.  We found the tutorial from Purl Bee, here. 

Jellybean bean bags!

Jellybean bean bags!

Also during spring break, I found myself stitching up these sashiko napkins at every idle moment for Mom’s birthday.  These unadorned spring colored napkins practically threw themselves at me at Target.  I thought they were the perfect canvas for some nice, simple hand stitching.  Since Mom’s birthday was right around the corner, I couldn’t pass them up.  Two of my favorite tools for sashiko are my Clover brand transfer paper (not pictured) – love that stuff – not cheap but it works great and can be used multiple times over before the sheet is done and my Clover brand adjustable thimble as you see in the picture.  If you are searching for a good thimble, I recommend it – highly.

IMG_4329 IMG_4327

Having been smitten with leather lately, and leather accents on bags and such, I’ve decided to give it a try.  Up next, a faux Midori Traveler notebook with leather cover – except I’m going to use notebook inserts from Field Notes.  The little journals are made in the USA with high quality papers, and are simple yet elegant AND I sourced them from a local paperie which I was excited about.  Will let you know how this all goes, onward! Apologies in advance for the horrible picture today – rain in the sky and my dark house do not make for nice photos.

IMG_4372PPS.  Just to let you in on my plans… I hope to start a series of posts about how to use Inkscape as it relates specifically to quilting – and for newbies like me who know nothing!  I’ve been really interested in the Quilt Design a Day blog, and want to give things a whirl but need to learn the computer program first – and who can afford Adobe’s Illustrator anymore?!

I feel like each time I complete a quilt I struggle with how to label the quilt.  How does the quilter define what NEEDS to be on the label, and what is nice to have on the label?  It probably seems difficult because the answer changes each time depending on what the quilt is for.  And, I am openly admitting that I don’t label all my quilts.  I know, it’s horrible.  Usually, the ones I make for my own family to use are the ones that never get that label.  Why?  I don’t know, but I think it has something to do with FINISHING things… all – the – way.  Okay, well, this can be fixed.

So, I have decided, at minimum the quilt needs 1. the year it was completed 2. my initials  Then, sometimes, I add who the quilt is for (often for baby quilts) and the location the quilt was made, and my whole name not just initials.

After I decide what goes on the label, there is a debate.  Oh – do I embroider the label?  It’s so sweet that way – but oh, my, I want it finished and writing with a Micron pen is so much faster.  I don’t have alot of faith that the Micron pen stands the test of time, where embroidery probably will last longer.  Then again, embroidery can unravel or work its way out too.  (Does anyone have experience with this, how long will the micron pen endure? with regular washings?)  I often resort to fast and DONE.

For the future, I want a custom stamp that I can stamp directly onto the back with fabric paint, and then customize with additional details if I need to.  I’ll get working on that – as if the to-do list isn’t a mile long already!

Now for the photos…

The quilt label: this is a baby quilt and the gator is a private reference that the recipient will adore.  It had to go on the label, no question.

IMG_4263 IMG_4267 IMG_4270 IMG_4278 IMG_4279 IMG_4262The quilt began 1.5 years ago, right – I am focusing on finishing this year…  It sat, even basted, waiting for me to be brave enough to free motion quilt it.  Well, it’s a baby quilt and the world is not going to end if its not perfect.  What’s that saying… finished is better than perfect.  So, now it’s FINISHED and not perfect, but perfect enough.  Each color on the quilt was free motion quilted with a unique pattern. The patchwork stitched together very quickly, and came to about 70″ square.  I found the tutorial from Jeni B of In Color Order.  Her instructions are very thorough.  She calls it the Giant Vintage Star Quilt.  But guess what – this baby was one of TWO!  I better get cracking so I can at least give both quilts by the time they turn 2 years old!

Yes, it’s small and was a quick project, but it’s finished!  I’ve discovered how much I like to start things, yet finishing them seems to be much more difficult.  This year I am trying to change that.  I started this little pouch because we needed a way to keep all our dice in one spot.  Our tradition at home is to have game night on Sundays, and recently we taught the girls to play Liar’s Dice, and well, now we have LOTS of dice.  Our spotty dice needed to live in a dotty pouch, so here we are!  Plus, in college I always wanted a ladybug tattoo but never got one so this is the next best thing (and probably much nicer to look at). Hah!  Singing praises THAT never happened, yes indeed.   In case you are wondering, the ladybugs are Charley Harper fabric produced by Birch Fabrics.

Dotty Pouch

I made Noodlehead’s Open Wide Zipper Pouch, she writes concise, clear tutorials.  I used quilt batting scraps to interface the pouch so now it’s nice and squishy.  And sturdy.  I’ve made these for teachers’ gifts too, perfect to stuff a gift card into, and when I’m really planning ahead I have the kids sign the inside lining which is a fun thing.

This weekend is retreat weekend with my quilt guild, and I hope to have one or maybe two new finishes to share.  Woot!  Here’s to a weekend of ALL sewing and NO cooking and NO cleaning.

What are you finishing this weekend??

I feel like there is something missing from these conversations about pattern adjustments.  I understand the theory, working parts and process of a Small Bust Adjustment (SBA).  But when making a garment, one pattern piece does not act alone.  It’s just one piece of the three dimensional puzzle. In making my washi dress octopi tunic I discovered two places that required some additional adjustments.  I don’t get around alot in the garment area of the blogsphere, so maybe there are detailed discussions in this area, but I haven’t come across any in my limited meandering.  Changing one piece really does affect how it comes together with the rest of the garment.  Maybe experienced sewists just fix it along the way, not really thinking too much about it – the adjustments are not difficult and are quite logical.  But in my mind, it’s worth clarifying for posterity and thoroughness.  Here are the supplies I use:  a roll of vellum, scotch tape, clear ruler and a pencil.

Cutting mat, vellum, scotch tape, clear ruler, and pencil.

Cutting mat, vellum, scotch tape, clear ruler, and pencil.

It’s nice to have a ruled/lined cutting mat underneath too but not necessary.  I have used pattern paper that you can buy by the yard from the fabric store before, and I like the grid lines on it, but it’s thick, and hard to see through.  This vellum is thinner than that, but sturdier than commercial pattern tissue, a good compromise.

First, I take a look at the newly drafted bodice pattern piece and find the horizontal (perpendicular to the center front line) adjustment and measure how much overlap there is.  You can also line up the original pattern piece next to the new pattern with center front together and notice the new draft piece is shorter.

Side by side comparison.

Side by side comparison.

If you measure this difference, it should be equal to the amount of horizontal overlap.  In my case, that is one quarter inch.

IMG_4217 Agreed, this is not much, but if you cut your pattern without fixing this, the front pieces will come up shorter than the back.  That is annoying to fix after the fact, so I’ll fix it now.  With the washi dress you could put that quarter inch back into the bodice or back into the lower skirt. Or, you could opt to take 1/4″ out of the back.  I like a longer tunic so won’t mess with shortening the back. I am also a petite person, and think the shorter bodice will be a better fit, so opt to add the 1/4″ to the skirt.  Just think it through and do what makes the most sense for you.

Commercial patterns typically come with a line marked “lengthen or shorten here”.  Indie patterns may or may not provide this indication.  In Rae’s tutorial for the washi maxi dress she recommends lengthening by the tunic line.  I cut a tunic, so have already cut my pattern piece at the tunic line.  Therefore, there are two ways to lengthen the tunic (a) extend the bottom by 1/4 inch and redraw the curved hemline (yuck!) (b) slash the pattern just above the tunic line and add 1/4 inch there, merely redrawing the short lines on each side (Yes! This one’s for me. The time-efficient, lazy, rather-sew-than-draw-hemlines, girl).  Here are the steps to follow.

  1. Draw a line perpendicular to the center line for the skirt, about an inch above the hemline.  I like to keep the pattern piece on my ruled cutting mat to keep things straight, and use my clear ruler to line things up.  Draw your line with your pencil, and cut with your paper scissors.  (You should never, ever cut paper with your fabric shears.)IMG_4219
  2. Cut a one inch strip of your pattern paper and slip it under the slashed pattern pieces.  Use the mat to keep them lined up at the center front, separate the two pattern pieces by 1/4 inch – measure at both ends to make sure it is even.  When you are satisfied that everything is lined up, tape it down with your scotch tape.
  3. Use your clear ruler to redraw the sides where the pattern piece was extended.IMG_4227
  4. Trim as necessary with your paper scissors. And you are done!

Silly me, I began sewing my tunic without any regard for further adjustments when I discovered one more place that needed some help.  This is what I love about being a maker – always learning something new.  New skills improve the outcome of the next project.  It’s brilliant.

When you look at the SBA bodice, you will see a vertical line where the pattern piece was overlapped.  In other words the width of the original pattern piece was shortened as well.  When the slightly narrower bodice gets stitched to the skirt front you need to make one more adjustment.  This you can do on the fly, it’s very easy.  I just like to be prepared, because sewing surprises are not always the fun kind of surprises. This is what you do:

Rae’s pattern includes these adorable pleats, two on each side of center front.  When you pin the bodice to the skirt (yes, yes, you should pin, it’s true) start at the center and work your way out.  Pin at center, pin at the two pleats either side of center and when you come to the last pleats, take in any excess fabric from the skirt.  Increase the size of the last pleat on each side until you get the sides of the bodice to match the sides of the skirt and pin that too.  This will make the pleats different sizes, but it is such a minimal amount, no one will notice.  It will be our little secret. 🙂  Heads up – if you basted your pleats as the instructions indicated earlier, you will have to un-baste (hello seam ripper!) the outer pleats in order to take in the extra fabric.  Now you can finish the rest of your dress or tunic as instructed.  If you have any questions, let me know.  I’ll try my best to answer them!

I suppose you might like to see the finished octopi tunic on me…

2015-02-24 I wore it to my quilt guild meeting.  We are the East Bay Modern Quilters.  So fun!  Now that the tunic is done, I have my sights set on some knits – leggings perhaps?  (yes, daring) and a cardi.  Looking forward to sharing with you.

xo MamaCat

Little Bluebell

quilter + sewist + maker

I want to cut you!

My unhealthy relationship with fabric.

The Plaid Portico

modern quilting, quilters, and quilt exhibitions

the quilted fox

quilter + sewist + maker