Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Sewing Space

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the transition back to warmer weather and all the changes in the scenery as the trees and plants wake up. The best day is when I can finally open all the windows and air out the apartment. This always leaves me itching to clean and purge.


My sewing room is never spared from this, and probably needs it more than any other room. I am lucky to have an entire room in our little apartment dedicated to my sewing. Since I work from home, it sees a lot of wear and tear, and things can get out of sorts pretty quickly. Not only does reorganizing help provide extra breathing room in a small space, but the lack of clutter usually leaves me more inspired and motivated to work. Whether you have a dedicated sewing space or not, it's valuable to take time to go through your supplies periodically.


A couple times a year, I like to reorganize my fabric. There are two reasons for this. First, the stacks of fabric generally need tidying every few months, so it’s nice to get things back in color order and folded nicely. Another reason is that it reminds me of fabrics I may have forgotten about and can spark new ideas. I usually end up with a nice stack of fabrics for new projects by the time I’m done. Bonus!


The most important thing to remember when tackling spring-cleaning in any capacity is that it usually has to get worse before it gets better. In my sewing room, I like to start this yearly task by emptying out my wall of closets. This includes boxes of project samples, works-in-progress, paperwork, craft supplies, and let's admit it, lots of fabric. It is a good idea for all of these things to be aired out once a year anyways, but it is also an opportunity to take inventory of what I have. Plus, I always manage to find a few things I have forgotten about, which is fun.


As I go through things, I decide whether to keep an item, give it away, sell it, or store it somewhere else. I like to be pretty ruthless at first, and then go back through my give away/sell pile a second time to make a final decision. I find I accumulate a lot of things I don't really need, and I am especially bad about holding on to craft supplies. I'm trying to be better about setting a time frame for supplies that I've had for a long time. Either use it or loose it. We'll see how that works out over time!

A few ideas for what to do with excess craft supplies:
- Give to a friend (someone just starting off would probably really appreciate it!)
- Take to your local quilt guild
- Ask your local library/school/community group if they accept craft supply donations*
- Bring to a retreat to share

*Sew Mama Sew has a great article with 12 places to donate fabric to.


I added some Work in Progress Bags (read more about them here) to my project organization this year. I also use gallon and jumbo ziploc bags and a few ArtBin Super Satchels for larger projects.


When taking inventory of all my supplies, I like to be sure I have enough stock of the essentials. I keep plenty of needles, neutral (white) thread, and rotary blades on hand at all times. There's nothing worse than breaking a needle in the middle of a project and not having a replacement! After replenishing those, I will restock other supplies like batting, pins, muslin, and interfacing.


After I've tackled the storage portion of my sewing room, it's the sewing machine's turn. I perform regular cleaning and maintenance on my main sewing machine throughout the year, but in the Spring I like to do a deep cleaning on all of my machines. Often times I will do this myself, but once a year I try to schedule a service appointment. Lately, I have been really good about keeping track of when I oil, change the needles, and change my rotary blade. I'm sharing a printable maintenance sheet to keep track of these below as well as some general cleaning tips. Don't forget about your scissors, this is a good time to have those checked and sharpened too.

Maintenance Tracking Printable Sheet
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8iNoK4ckoDkOWRFaDJVTUxEYkE/view?usp=sharing
Download your printable maintenance tracking sheet here.

General Sewing Machine Cleaning Tips

1. Un-thread your machine and remove the bobbin and needle. Remove all the dust bunnies that have collected on the outside of the machine, around the needle, thread path, and bobbin area. I use a combination of a small vacuum, compressed air, and the lint brush that came with my machine. I also remove the needle plate so I can get around the feed dogs. Wipe down all surfaces with a soft cloth when finished.

2. Give your machine a new needle, if you're anything like me, it probably needs to be changed!


3. My main machine takes oil every 8 hours. Not all sewing machines do, so check your manual to see if you need to oil it and where. Only use sewing machine oil to do so. I love using a precision oil pen, it allows you to place a single drop at a time, so less mess.

4. After cleaning is a great time to check that the tension of your machine is set properly. Thread it and sew some quick test seams. Adjust as necessary according to your manual.

Here are a few other posts you may find relevant while tackling a bit of Spring cleaning in your sewing space:

Fabric Folding Tutorial


Tips for Good Quilt Care


How to Track Your Fabric and Yarn Yardage

Happy Sewing!

How to Sew a Drawstring Casing Without a Free-Arm Sewing Machine

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Happy Thursday! A few weeks ago, I taped two short videos to accompany my Lined Drawstring Bag Pattern + Tutorial, I'm excited to share those with you today!


In the first video, I'm sharing an alternative method for marking the drawstring casing (step 11). Instead of marking lines all the way around the top of the bag, you can make yourself a tape guideline on your machine to use while sewing the casing. (Some 1" wide masking tape is super helpful here!)

The video I really felt was needed is how to sew the drawstring casing without a free-arm sewing machine. A free-arm sewing machine is one that has a removable section on the bed of the machine, that allows you to easily sew small circumference items like sleeves and small bags. My machine and many others don't have this option, but it's still easy to sew those small circumference items. For the drawstring bag, this comes into play with the drawstring casing. This technique is especially necessary for the smaller bags in the pattern (snack and tiny sizes), even if you do have a free-arm sewing machine.

Basically, you allow the circular item to loop above the machine bed instead of below the machine bed. I find this is easier to do when turning the bag inside out and sewing "inside" the loop. Hopefully the video will make more sense!


I've included these videos in the Lined Drawstring Bag Tutorial and links to them within the pattern for easy reference, and this post will be added to the Lined Drawstring Bag Variations and Tutorials post.

Here are two pin-able images for you too:





Happy Sewing!

Patchwork Essentials: Interlaced Quilt

Monday, May 15, 2017


Happy Monday! Today I have a finished quilt to share, my Interlaced Quilt!


This past Fall and Summer, I went about finishing up the series of half-square triangle sampler quilt tops I made. I took the 60 blocks from the block chart section of my book, Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle, and put them together into three sampler quilts. I shared a setting tutorial for each quilt, and now I have them all finished up! Find the tutorials for all three settings here: Over and Above Quilt Setting Tutorial, Blockade Quilt Setting Tutorial, Interlaced Quilt Setting Tutorial.


For each quilt, I focused on one of the colors that I used in the blocks. This quilt was focused around the citron green. This quilt is the scrappiest of the bunch, I used many different citron fabrics to make the setting blocks. I also used more of the same white for the background. This quilt used 17 quilt blocks from the Block Chapter in my book. For more on the inspiration behind this quilt, head over to the tutorial post.



This quilt was quilted by Melissa Kelley of Sew Shabby Quilting. I chose the interlocking orange peel design for the quilting, and I really like it for this quilt.


I backed this quilt in a widescreen wide back in geranium. It's bound up in a oval elements print in blue lagoon.


These setting quilts were a fun way to stitch up all the blocks from the block chart. I still love the colors, and I feel like they are memory quilts for my book writing journey.

Happy Quilting!

Sew Yummy Sewing Machine Cover

Thursday, May 4, 2017


In February of this year, I decided I wanted to make myself a handmade cover for my sewing machine. I sew on a Janome 1600P (see my review here), and it did come with a cover. It does a fine job, but I wanted something cuter and with a little more padding to it.


I used the original cover's measurements to draft a new cover, with a few modifications to add a lining and add extra protection for my machine. For the fabric, I chose to use fat quarters from Monica Solorio Snow's Sew Yummy fabric for Cloud 9 Fabrics. It's been in my stash waiting for the perfect project.


Since I was working with fat quarters, each side of my cover is a different fabric! To give the cover structure and provide support for my machine, I quilted the exterior pieces with a layer of batting and cotton canvas.


The cover is fully lined and finished off with binding along the bottom edge.


I love all the fun prints, they're so happy and perfect for a sewing machine cover.


For the handle, I created a lined slit in the top, just like you would to do to put in an inset zipper pocket (this technique minus the zipper). Doing this meant that I had to put the exterior and interior together while the respective top pieces were already connected. It was a fit fussy at times, but I really wanted it to be completely lined, and I didn't want to finish the slit with bias tape.

I also made a little handle cover that I quilted and applied velcro to. This is a heavy machine, and the handle can really dig into your hands. This cover helps!


I had a lot of fun making this cover. If I had to make it again, I'd probably adjust the measurements a little, but it will do just fine as is. Now I can travel with my machine in style!

Happy Sewing!

April 2016 Report

Monday, May 1, 2017


Happy May! Time for April's monthly report. See past reports here.


I was happy to get the Easy Going Lined Drawstring Bag variation tutorial out of my head and published this past month. I also filmed two short drawstring bag technique videos, that I hope to share soon.


Managed to get my latest quilt finish photographed and posted too. We shot the photos in front of my very favorite building on the university's campus, which was fun. Here I am fighting the wind, haha!


Pulled my Minny Muu Prism quilt out of hibernation. Of course I'm making this version huge, because I am a glutton for punishment. Pattern is from my book, Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle.


Very exciting yarn related finish this month! I finally finished my Sunset Scarf. I wove this scarf on my Schacht Cricket Loom (I have the 10"). I used a skein of sock yarn I dyed on my birthday a few years ago along with a skein of light gray lace yarn. This article explains the technique I used to achieve the color pooling. This project has been on my loom for over a year, so it felt really good to finish it up. More details and photos on my Ravelry.


To keep myself accountable for my stash goals, I'm tracking my yardage for fabric and yarn each month. Read more about how I track my here. Here is how I did in April:

April Fabric
Used up: 18.75 yards
Brought in: 17.25 yards
Net: -1.5 yards
Year to date: -25 yards

April Yarn
Used up: 400 yards
Brought in: 0 yards
Net: -400 yards
Year to date: -1789.5 yards

So, I definitely bought more fabric this month than I intended. I feel okay about it though, because six yards worth is a quilt back. Thankfully I finished a few garments, a quilt, and a myriad of other small projects. Feeling pretty proud of myself on the yarn side, I've only bought two skeins so far this year! Let's see how long I can keep that up.



Looking at my 2017 goals, I am happy with the progress I made in April. I finally made a Plantain T-shirt! This free pattern from Deer & Doe has been on my list every since it was released. I used a black and white stripe rayon/cotton/spandex jersey from my stash and I love how it turned out. Am going to need to make a bunch more of these!

By the way, the neckline isn't actually this low, this jersey is just heavy so it looks super low in this photo.


This project wasn't specifically on my list, but that's okay. I have been hoarding a bundle of Pastry Line voile and the voile panels from Little Folks (both by Anna Maria Horner) for years. I couldn't believe it when I realized this fabric is eight years old. It was finally time to cut into it. I managed to finish the quilt top last Friday and am ready to piece some voile from my stash for the back. I think it's going to make a great summery quilt!


George bunny's Easter photo! He's posing with his fabric of course. What a fancy bun.

Have a great month!

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