Monday, December 30, 2013

A Birthday Giveaway!

"36 years old," I told my family at dinner tonight, shaking my head. "I'm on the downhill slope to 40." My dad just laughed. "Hey," he replied, "we're in our 60's. We're on the downhill slope to death..."

It was a fabulous birthday today. Lunch at Lucille's BBQ, dinner at King's Fish House, cupcakes from my favorite bakery, kid-free shopping time at Macy's, a rousing game of musical chairs with my daughters, a present scavenger hunt that was written up by my darling husband, who even took time to gift wrap my ironing board -- since I don't have a locker anymore, he said. I'm feeling pretty spoiled tonight. Truly I have The Best Family In The Entire World.

Image courtesy of Fabricworm

For that matter, I have the best readers in the entire world, which is why I love holding a giveaway on my birthday each year. It's my little way of saying thanks to all of you wonderful people who constantly make my day with your encouraging comments. This year my dear friends at Fabricworm have volunteered to help me out by supplying the incredibly awesome prize: 2 yards of your choice from the new Charley Harper collection. Your in any print from that line -- poplin, canvas, flannel, or knits.

The giveaway will only be open until 5pm on January 1st, so get your entries in ASAP. Leave a comment on this post -- any comment -- for one entry. Followers old and new can leave a second comment for a second entry. International entries are welcome, and please be sure to include your email address in your comment if you're a no-reply blogger. I'll pick a random winner and announce it on Wednesday night. The winner needs to contact me within 48 hours or I'll have to choose another name. Spread the word -- this prize is too good to miss!

You guys have made my 2013 a wonderful one, and I thank you with all my heart.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Travel Case (Times Two)

Many of you know that we make an annual summer trip to Arizona to spend time with my husband's family. This year we're going to try making an extra visit over Christmas break, and as I started working on travel details over the weekend, the image of a travel case popped into my mind and insisted that I give it some attention. It's been a while since I've dropped everything to work on a new sewing idea, but I'm so glad I did. These little bags are my new best friends.

My first attempt was the smaller of the two cases you see above. It was surprisingly quick and fairly easy to sew. The only drawback is a smaller opening since the zipper just runs along the top of the bag. Once this first one was done, I began right away on a larger version with an extended zipper down the sides. It's a tricky process, but I was able to make it work, and I absolutely love the results.

The bags are lined with text prints, which are always a favorite of mine. Both have linen exteriors featuring prints by Heather Ross and Melody Miller and two different shades of yarn dyed Essex linen. I used a heavy wool/acrylic blend Aurifil thread for the stitching on both bags. It's not only strong, but I like the way the larger stitches look against the linen. It all comes together to create a vintage style look that I absolutely love.

I give away a lot of my sewing projects -- how many bags does a girl need after all? -- but considering that tomorrow's my birthday and that I'm pretty crazy about these little travel cases, I think we're going to officially call these a birthday present...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ipanema Beach Bag Tutorial

Happy Friday, everyone! You'll find me guest posting over at the Birch Fabrics blog today about my beach bag tutorial using their fabulous new Ipanema collection. Christmas may be only five days away, but it's never too early to start planning for summer, I say!

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Charley Harper Pouch & a Winner

I made a little zipper pouch for a dear friend of mine last week who was having a birthday, and forgot to share it with all of you. These Charley Harper prints by Birch are so amazing. I love the colors and designs.

I did just two lines of quilting on both sides of the pouch, tracing the lines of this cheater print.

The lining is Country Twang in Pearl Snap from Eric and Julie Comstock's new Honky Tonk collection for Moda. I'm telling you, those Comstocks always include at least one "must stash" print in every one of their lines. I adore this design!

It was great fun looking through all of your favorite sewing book titles during this past giveaway week. Your answers ranged from vintage to modern, and I saw lots of titles from my own personal library tucked in among them. A very unofficial tally of the results seems to show that the two most popular books are Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison and Free Motion Quilting by Angela Walters. Both are highly recommended!

I wish I could send a gift certificate to all of your inboxes, but since I can only afford one, we'll go with Fiesta. I've sent you an email and hope to hear back from you soon!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Eight Years

Honeymooners in Kauai

Eight years of marriage to this guy.

Best decision I ever made. Happy Anniversary, sweetheart.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Giveaway Day: December 2013 Edition

1. Fort Firefly Organizer, 2. CH Frame Purse, 3. Autumn Sky, 4. Zakka Pencil Pouch Two Ways, 5. Crossword Quilt, 6. Zakka Activity Pillow 2, 7. Plain & Fancy Mini Quilt, 8. Storytelling Pillow, 9. Rosette Clutch

It's here again -- Sew Mama Sew's biannual Giveaway Day! I love this opportunity to get to know a few new faces in the online sewing community while getting my name in the ring for some fantastic prizes. If you're a newcomer to Fabric Mutt, welcome to my little corner of the blogging universe. Above is a mosaic of my projects pulled from the past six months -- so many great memories here. If you stop by my blog often, this is the kind of stuff you'll see. I'm currently working on a book for Stash Books, so there's a lot going on behind the scenes these days, but I'll have lots more to share with you in the coming year. 2013 has been amazing, and I know that 2014 is going to be just as great!

I know you have hundreds of other sites to visit before the day is through, so let's get to the giveaway. Normally I love to pull some fabric from my stash to share with one of you, but between rising shipping costs and packages going missing, I'm taking no chances. This week's winner gets a $25 online gift certificate to one of my favorite fabric shops: Fabricworm. International entries are welcome, and the winner will be chosen randomly and announced here this Friday (12/13) after 5pm. Please be sure that you leave an email address in your comment if you're a no-reply blogger so that I can get in touch with you if you've won! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post answering this question: what's your favorite sewing book? I usually love to answer my readers' comments on the blog, but due to the high volume of remarks left on giveaway posts I probably won't have the chance to answer everyone this time. Come back again with a comment on another post, though, and I'll be happy to chat with you!

Thanks so much for stopping by and have a wonderful week!

Linking up to Giveaway Headquarters at Sew Mama Sew.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I was touched beyond words by your sweet comments and emails on my last blog post. I know that our family is not the only one dealing with the emotionally and physically draining process of caring for elderly loved ones. It's another one of those personal details that we deal with offline that has a huge impact on daily life even if it doesn't normally get a mention on our blogs. Bless you all for your kind thoughts and prayers for my family, and blessings on those of you who are walking this difficult road alongside us. There are days when it seems that we're not going to be able to take another step, and then somehow we find a way to go on.

It was a very long, tiring day, but we were able to get my grandmother safely moved into a beautiful nursing facility that's only ten minutes away from our home.Though she had been dead set against leaving her house, she came willingly with us when it was finally time to go. Upon our arrival, the caregivers immediately lavished Grandma with love and attention, and it was a joy to see her blooming in response. She loved the quilts on the walls, the new quilt and matching pillow that I had made for her bed, and her new "plush" apartment, as she kept calling it. We were even  able to all come back for a visit in the evening with my girls who hadn't seen their great grandma in months. It was such a relief to leave knowing that she was safe and surrounded by people who would take good care of her until we returned for our next visit.

"It's a good thing you did," she told my mother before we left last night.

Amen to that.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

As Time Goes By

It was back at the end of August that my grandmother found a magazine article all about patchwork quilts made out of vintage feedsack material. "Can you make one for me?" she asked over the phone as I flipped through the pages that she had sent to me so that I could see the photos. I assured her that I could make something similar out of reproduction prints, and a bundle of Storybook Classics by Windham Fabrics was quickly ordered. I had already started cutting out pieces to make a Swell quilt from Simply Retro by Camille Roskelley when I got the news that my book proposal had been accepted by Stash Books. "Never mind, darlin', there's no hurry," Grandma assured me when I fretted over getting her quilt done along with my book projects. "Just make it in time for Christmas," she added. I was able to sew together one block, and then the rest was set aside as I turned my mind and hands to other things.

Little did I know then what lay ahead. Over the past few months we have watched my grandmother spiral down into an unexpected and very serious state of dementia. After a painful and exhausting November, it's become clear that Grandma can no longer safely live alone in her home, so tomorrow we'll be moving her into a nursing home just ten minutes away from us where she can receive full time care. I wanted her to have something special for her new home, so this weekend I pulled out that bundle of Storybook Classics again and put together the simplest of patchwork quilts. Twelve inch blocks are bordered by a narrow strip of white and bound in a black and white dot print. I backed it in two different prints by Bonnie & Camille from their Vintage Modern and Marmalade collections. It may not be fancy, but the quilt is almost exactly what Grandma had originally wanted, and it will fit perfectly on her new bed. Tomorrow when we pick her up from the house she's lived in since she was a girl, I'll have the quilt waiting in the car so that she'll have something to look at during the drive to her new home.

I spent yesterday evening helping my parents fix up Grandma's new room, trimming a little Christmas tree with vintage style ornaments and decorating the walls with some of the quilts I've made for her over the past few years. As I drove home afterward listening to Christmas carols on the radio, I was suddenly overcome by tears. Even though we know that everyone grows up and gets older, you can never really prepare yourself for the reality of what that means. And even though we all talk about time getting away from us, I am stunned by how quickly life is going by each day...each year.  It seems like just yesterday my parents were making Christmas for me and my sister, and now we're making it for our own daughters. In fact as I type this sentence, my girls are eagerly pulling at my sleeve and saying, "Is it time to decorate for Christmas, Mommy? We've been waiting soooo long!" Precious little girls -- they have no idea how quickly time can fly.

This December I plan to make the most of every moment...every single one. Won't you join me?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Botanics Desk Mat

There are some fabric lines that have your heart from the moment you meet. Both of Carolyn Friedlander's collections -- Architextures and now Botanics -- have affected me that way.

These prints are so incredibly elegant in their simplicity. The sketched illustrations, the uniquely modern designs, the carefully curated colors all grab my attention and simply will not let go. A charm pack of Botanics arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon, and I couldn't wait. As soon as I finished dinner, I pulled out my Architexture scraps and some Kona solids, opened up the Botanics stack, and made myself a new desk mat using the simplest of patchwork layouts. The mat is backed in a Lily Belle print by Bari J, and I quilted it in a dark gold Aurifil thread which I absolutely love. It's a nice compliment to the little touches of gold that show up in a few of the prints.

There's nothing fancy about this little mat, but I just can't stop looking at it. These fabrics mesmerize me, and I'm so looking forward to sewing with them again. Did I mention that I have another bundle of Botanics arriving in the mail on Monday? I can hardly wait...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Comedy of Errors

Fort Firefly Activity Pouches by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I can sew, bake, sing, play the guitar, even draw a little. Sports, however, have never been one of my strong points. This should have occurred to me on Saturday night when I saw the dog's ball sitting on the kitchen floor and traipsed over to kick it back to her. Two seconds later my feet were flying up in the air, and my back and head hit the floor -- hard. A few hours in the emergency room and some personal time with an IV and a head scan yielded the diagnosis of a mild concussion, and I firmed up my new resolution to leave any dreams of athleticism behind me for good. So many thanks to all of you who left such sweet comments on Instagram over the weekend. I haven't felt so achingly sore since my last c-section, but I'm getting a little better each day. It's hard to say, though, if I'll ever be able to wear socks on laminate flooring again without fear and trembling...

With that comedy of errors behind us, let's talk about sewing. I don't think I've ever gotten so much out of a fat quarter bundle as I did out of my stack of Fort Firefly: a baby quilt, an organizer, and now a set of activity pouches which I made for our church. Our Director of Christian Education plans to stuff these with all kinds of goodies that little ones can play with during the service.

Fort Firefly Activity Pouches by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Again, I love that this fabric is pretty gender neutral. Though there are definitely a few girly prints, most of the colors and designs work well for both boys and girls. Cotton webbing has become my new best friend. It cuts down on sewing time since I don't have to make my own straps, and it makes a project look just a little more finished at the same time. Believe it or not, I still have some Fort Firefly scraps left, but I'm setting them aside for some quiet hand sewing over the next few days while my body recuperates.

Fort Firefly Activity Pouches by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Of course, the real lesson here is to spend less time in the kitchen and more time at my sewing machine...right?

Friday, November 8, 2013

True Confessions

So here's the thing...I've been walking the most painful of lines lately with some big news that I wasn't able to share with you yet. However, after a little conversation and some great clarification from my editor, I am thrilled to tell you that I'm in the process of writing a book for Stash Books! I debated long and hard over when to share this news with you. Writing and publishing a book is a really long process (we're looking at a publication date of spring 2015 for my title), and not only am I not allowed to share any of the juicy details with you for quite a while but I also don't want you to be sick to death of the whole thing by the time the book actually hits the shelves. On the other hand, it kills me that I've been writing and sewing like mad from morning till night each day and yet can share almost none of it with you here at Fabric Mutt. I didn't want you to think that I'd lost interest in sewing or was letting the blog slowly waste away to nothing. So please know that though I won't be posting more often than once or twice a week and though I can't spend nearly as much time as I'd like reading all of your blogs and leaving comments as I go, it isn't because I don't want to. I'll be back to my regular routine in a few months, promise!

Can I also just take a moment to say that the people at C&T Publishing and Stash Books are fabulous? They have a fantastic introductory pack for new authors which is so helpful, and just look at the incredible box of goodies they sent me above. For someone who's walking into the great unknown here, it's so wonderful to be surrounded by encouraging people who know exactly what they're doing.

Bunny raced off to her desk and wrote this note for me on the day I found out that my book proposal was accepted.

And my dear sweet one is giving up more than these people to make this project happen. They are so proud of my amazing opportunity and so patient with me as I constantly swing between excited and absentminded and completely overwhelmed. I absolutely could not do this without them.

So that's the scoop, my friends. I can hardly wait to share this book with you when it's done, but for now I promise not to bore you to pieces with constant chatter about it. Just know that I'm still here and still honored to have the chance to be a tiny part of your lives.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Constance Organizer Tutorial

Constance Organizer Tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

It's been an exhausting week here at our home. My daughters have been fighting a nasty bug that comes with endless high fevers, and it's been a constant battle to keep their temperatures below 101 degrees. Blogging and blog reading naturally fell by the wayside for the past few days, so I missed the posting of my latest piece for The Glamorous Housewife blog. I promised you all a tutorial for that organizer I showed you last week. Here it is: the Constance Organizer.

Constance Organizer Tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

This version is slightly different from last week's. It has an extra pocket on the left side of the interior, a flap closure, and a much simpler exterior. The basic pattern is no problem to customize, though, so you can easily change this to make it whatever you want. That's the beauty of patterns for me -- I love to play with the details and make something new.

Constance Organizer Tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

These make great last minute gifts for those of you who are already casting an eye toward Christmas presents. If you make one of these, please do send me pictures or mark a photo with #fabricmutt on instagram. I'd love to see what you're making!

Constance Organizer Tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

And now I'd better head back to the couch to sit with my sick little Bear as we watch the never ending Handy Manny marathon that's been parading through my living room all week. Remember this old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon? Once in a while I share the same feeling for those who write children's programming. Not that I'm bitter or anything...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sewing School: Stuffed Dachshunds

I'm sticking to my goal of sewing at least one project each month with my three girls. This month we made little stuffed dachshunds, a fun project that came together pretty quickly. The only part of this project that's actually stuffed is the body -- everything else is nice and floppy. As always, I let the girls pick out their own fabric. Rather than letting them dive into my cupboards, it's easier for me to ask them what color they want their project to be and then give them a matching selection of fabrics to look through until they come up with what they like best. We tried three different methods for attaching the ears, and the third time was definitely the charm as you can see on the far right. I figure it doesn't hurt for the girls to experience the joys of problem solving at a young age.

From right to left we have Fix-It (Bear is a big Handy Manny fan), Puppy, and Snuffy. These doxies are long and skinny, perfect for small hands to hold and cuddle. And let me tell you, there's been a lot of cuddling going on in this house since these little guys showed up...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Care Package

Birch Fabrics Fort Firefly Organizer by Fabric Mutt

A friend of mine was having a lousy day last week. I couldn't be there to sit down for a cup of tea and a chat, so it seemed like a good idea to send a little care package. My leftover pieces of Fort Firefly and Charlie Harper came in handy as I sewed up a fun organizer for her to use.

Birch Fabrics Fort Firefly Organizer by Fabric Mutt

I still can't decide which I love best -- the front or the back. These prints are all so adorable.

Birch Fabrics Fort Firefly Organizer by Fabric Mutt

The inside has several pockets, even one with a zipper. I tucked in a few goodies, including those of the fabric variety, and it's now winging its way across the miles to her doorstep. And if you'd like to make one of these for yourself...well, just stay tuned...

Linking up (better late than never) to Finish It Up Friday.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fort Firefly Gift Set

Not since Briar Rose have I been so excited about a fabric collection for children. Fort Firefly by Teagan White is utterly charming, and I was thrilled to death when the wonderful people at Birch Fabrics sent me a bundle to play with. A friend of mine is expecting a baby by the end of this month, and since we don't know yet if it's a boy or girl, I was looking for fabric that would walk the fine line of gender neutrality. I'll admit that this probably leans a little more toward the girly side, but it's cute enough that I think it can be excused. I've been dying to make the Books for Baby quilt from Patchwork, Please! since I first saw it. This is a slightly smaller version -- nine blocks instead of sixteen -- but it's still large enough for a small baby quilt.

Fort Firefly is a fussy cutter's dream. Every print is full of adorable details, and I had a hard time narrowing my choices down to these nine covers. I pulled from my scrap bucket to find text and map prints that would work for the pages and brown fabrics for the book bindings. Each quilt block is edged with Quilter's Linen, which I'm absolutely loving right now. The backing is a quiet dot print from Vintage Modern by Bonnie and Camille.

I thought it would be fun to make a little bag to hold the quilt instead of wrapping it up in paper, so I did a larger variation on my party bag tutorial using leftover prints from the Fort Firefly bundle and some white webbing that I had on hand. I couldn't resist sewing up a little cloth tag to decorate the front using some extra patchwork squares and a piece of cord. I love the way this bag turned out. It's just the right size for the folded quilt and will also fit nicely into a diaper bag for emergency situations once the baby's here.

There are so many wonderful sewing projects out there, but I still think that baby quilts are some of the sweetest.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

So You Want to Sew...

Yes, I'm aware that most of you already do know how to sew. For those of you who don't, however, or who might have a friend who's looking to get started, head on over to The Glamorous Housewife and check out my guest post.

A quick note, by the'll notice my reference to the Patchwork, Please! Sew Along in the article mentioned above. I wrote this a few weeks back when the Zakka Along 2.0 was still going on, and as many of you know, it just came to a close. There's plenty of eye candy in the flickr group, though, so be sure to stop by for a visit.

Happy sewing!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Quilt Market Sewing

Charley Harper fabrics purse for Birch Fabrics Quilt Market

I had the absolute pleasure of sewing up a few samples for Quilt Market this week. The lovely people at Birch Fabrics sent me some of the new Charley Harper prints to make into a few bags for their display. I tackled a frame purse again to feature the beautiful Feeding Station print you see above. This type of bag is a lot of work but so worth the trouble. I used a variegated lavender Aurifil thread to stitch along the frame at the top, and I love the way it compliments the purple tones in the rest of the bag.

Charley Harper fabrics purse for Birch Fabrics Quilt Market

Honestly, I can't say enough about these fabrics. They're absolutely stunning. The colors are so saturated, and the designs are just as you would expect from Birch -- incredible. All of the exteriors are made with canvas prints, while the interiors are cotton.

Charley Harper fabrics purse for Birch Fabrics Quilt Market

I used my Nora Clutch Tutorial for the other two bags. This clutch is so quick to sew, and I love trying it out with different fabric combinations. These Cardinal Stagger and Octoberama prints are just perfect for fall and winter projects.

Charley Harper fabrics purse for Birch Fabrics Quilt Market

There was also a fat quarter bundle of Fort Firefly included in the package from Birch Fabrics which -- as some of you may have noticed if you follow me on Instagram -- is rapidly becoming a baby quilt for a friend of mine. I expect to have a finished project to show you in the next week so stay tuned!

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Beautiful Compromise

For ages now I've been longing to have a design wall of my own like so many bloggers use, but the wall space in my sewing area is simply nonexistent. Then I dropped into the local Home Goods store last weekend and found myself a beautiful compromise. This framed piece of burlap is supposed to be a creative take on a bulletin board, but it actually makes a fantastic miniature design wall for my workspace. It fits perfectly on my sideboard-turned-storage-table and is large enough to hold several quilt blocks and small projects at once. I love the way the burlap backing and fancy wooden frame give it extra personality.

And once again I'm reminded that "challenge" is just another word for "opportunity."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Strawberry Pincushion Swap

When my friend Erin asked me to join in her Strawberry Pincushion Swap, I just couldn't refuse. A simple little swap project? Check. Adorable fabric strawberries? Double check. I haven't had time to do a swap in a long time, but I just couldn't stay out of this one.

I pulled some fun scraps together to make a little pouch for my swap partner, lining it with a sweet postage stamp print I found a while back. There was enough room inside for the strawberries and a few fun notions as well.

And as always, it's hard to decide what's more fun: putting together a package for someone else or getting your own package in the mail. Which reminds me...if you need me, I'll be waiting over there by the mailbox...

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fresh Sewing Day

1. Crossword Quilt, 2. Zakka Pencil Pouch 2, 3. Superhero Capes, 4. Autumn Sky, 5. Sunnyside Pouch, 6. Zakka Pencil Pouch

September, if I hadn't lived you, I wouldn't have believed you were possible. And by that I mean to say that it's been a good amazingly good month.

You can trust me on this one.

Linking up to Fresh Sewing Day.
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