October 2009 Archives

The Fabric Mavericks gives tips for Halloween Safety

October 30, 2009

The time has finally arrived for one of the most fun times of the year- Halloween. The air is starting to turn crisp and cold. The leaves are beginning to fall to make a crunchy noise under the feet. I must tell you that I grew up in a very small town in a household full of children. We ruled the neighborhood. When Halloween came around, we trooped the street in a group collecting our treats in costumes made up from anything and everything at home. No store bought costumes for us! It was a night of adventures. I might add that we never caused any harm to any property or person. Everyone in the neighborhood knew us and would report us to Mom if we did do somthing wrong. Next door there lived the two sisters, Ms. Spain. These two maiden ladies were as excited as we were on Halloween. They outdid themselves creating homemade delights such as caramel apples, popcorn balls, brownies and cookies! Oh, my! Never did we have to worry that someone would poison us or slip harmful things into the treats. Unfortunately, no longer can we trust that people will not do harm to our children on this holdiay.

Here are some tips to make your children's Halloween more enjoyable:

1. If it is possible, try to make sure the costume fabric is flame retardant.

2. Make sure the costume is not so long that the child will trip over it.

3. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure that they can see properly. You may need to enlarge the eye holes for proper vision.

4. Your child should never "trick or treat" alone. They should go with several friends; There should be a definite time to be home.

5. Young children should be accompanied by parents.

6. Only go to houses that you can trust. Do not go to homes that do not welcome children at this time of the year..

7. Many neighborhoods have Halloween parties. You might want to skip going door-to-door in favor of the neighborhood party.

8. Homeowners should keep their house well lit. Any loose steps should be repaired. If you have jack-o-lanterns, use the new LED lighting instead of candles. A child's costume might accidentally be set on fire if it is blown across a candle.

9. Make sure that children carry flashlights to light their way

10. After the children have returned from their adventure, look the candy over carefully to see if it looks tampered with. Discard any dubious treats. Only accept homemade treats from wonderful grandmothers like me!

I don't know about you but I suddenly feel the urge for a homemade popcorn ball. Happy Halloween! Be Safe!


Quick and Easy Trick-or-Treat Bag

October 13, 2009

BBBag.JPGMy 16-month old has developed an obsession with Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Also known as "bo-bah" in our house).  For Halloween this year I will be making him a brown bear costume using Kwik Sew's baby and toddler pattern KP-3099, and to pull it all together I have made him a "Brown Bear" trick-or-treat bag. 

Bags are surprisingly simple to make.  There are a couple different ways that you can construct a bag from practically scraps.  I picked two methods to show here. The first style, for the outside of the bag, has a front and back panel and a long strip for the gusset (3 total pieces).  The second style I used for the lining, and has only two pieces with boxed corners to create the bottom and sides shape.  While I label the parts of this bag as "inside" and "outside", in reality the bag is actually reversible.

QUICK NOTE - This tutorial is geared more towards someone who is still fairly beginner level, but basically knows their way around a sewing machine.  Those with more experience will probably already know everything below, plus better ways to do it (Please feel free to leave a comment and share any nifty variations and tips!). 

DOUBLE NOTE - There will be math.  I promise I will try to keep it simple, and I will also give definite measurements.  However, my goal is to give you the basic principles for how to construct a bag no matter what size you want it.  The bag I made is child-sized, but once you know the basics of construction you can scale yours up, down and everything in between.

Brown Bear Bag
Measurments: 11.5" x 11.5" x 4"
3/8" seam allowance
1 Brown Bear panel (BV-907)
1/2 yd coordinating cotton print (I used BV-951)
1 yd light or medium weight fusible interfacing (optional)

If you do not want to use the panel you can just find another 1/2 yd coordinate.  The panel fabric was a little more transparent than I would have liked, so I used the interfacing to make it less see through and give it body without being too stiff.  You may exclude this step if your fabric is dark or if you do not care if your bag is floppy.

Creating the outside:
- Cut out two 12.25"x"12.25" squares consisting of 4 panel motifs. Each square should be 2 smaller squares across and 2 down.  The easiest way to cut it without measuring is to just cut around the outer edge of the green border surrounding the four small squares.  The green border will essentially be the seam allowance.
- Cut the striped strip of fabric from the edge of the panel, trimming the selvage.  This will become the bag handles.

Panel2.JPG- From the coordinating fabric, cut a 36"x4.75" strip of fabric for the gusset.
- If you are using interfacing, cut two 12.25"x12.25" squares and a 36"x4.75" strip.
- Apply the interfacing to the panels and gusset strip according to the instructions.
- For the top two squares on each of the right sides of the front panels, measure and mark the middle of top of each square (roughly 2.75" from the begining of the white space).  This is where you will line up the handles.
- To create the handles, fold the striped fabric in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.  Press.  Fold the raw edges in toward the middle crease, leaving you with 4 layers of fabric (see image). Press. Cut two 9" pieces from this strip and edge stitch the long, open side (you can leave the ends open).

handles.JPG- To assemble the outside, lay the gusset piece on top of one of the panels, right sides together, with the short edge of the gusset lined up with the top l and the long side lined up with the right side of the panel.  Pin in place.  Bring the gusset side up and and around the corner, and continue pinning it to the bottom of the panel, then back up the left hand side (Hint - to make going around the corners easier, try making a tiny snip in the seam allowance of the gusset right at the corners).  Once it's all pinned, you should have the basic shape of the two sides and bottom of the bag, with the ends of the gusset lining up with the top of the panel (if not, try repinning it).  Stitch in place.

gussetpaneloneside.JPG- Pin the second panel to the other side of the gusset.  Stitch.  You should now be able to tell it's a bag (yay!).  Press the seams.

gussettwopanels.JPG- Position the straps inside the two markings you made earlier, lining up the outer edge of the strap with the mark.  The raw edges of the straps should be in line with the top of the panel, so that the strap is upside down. Pin in place.

attachhandles.JPGTo create the lining:
- From the coordinating fabric, cut two 14.25"x16.25" squares.
- Sew together along sides and bottom, leaving the top open.  Press seam allowances open.
- At the bottom corners, measure 3" up and 3" over from corner.  Draw a square.  Using the square as a guide, bring the side and bottom seams together and box the corners (See Moda Bake Shop for better instructions).  Trim 1/4" from the seams.

boxcorners.JPGTo bring it all together:
- Line the two bag pieces up with right sides together.  The Side seams of the lining should be in the middle of the gusset sides.  Pin in place.

Pintogether.JPG- Stitch around the top of the bag, stopping a few inches short to leave an opening to turn.  Press the seams.
- Turn the bag right side out and top stitch to finish the top edge of the bag and to reinforce the handles. 
- Voila! All done! Your bag is now ready for whatever your little one might put in it.  Plus, it's reversible!

Let's say you don't want to make a Brown Bear, Brown Bear bag.  How do you go about figuring out how much to cut?  Math time!

To make a gusseted bag:
For the front and back panels -
Length = Finished length + 2xSeam Allowances
Width = Finished width = 2xSeam Allowances
For the Gusset -
Gusset Length = Panel side Length + Panel side length  + Panel Width
Gusset Width = Finished width + 2xSeam Allowance

YIKES!  Here's an easy example.  You want a bag that is 14"x12"x5" with a 1/2" seam allowance
Length = 14+.5+.5 = 15"
Width = 12+.5+.5 = 13"
Gusset Length = 15+13+15 = 43"
Gusset Width = 5+.5+.5 = 6"


To make the boxed-corner bag:
Length = Finished length + 1xSeam Allowance + 1/2 Finished Depth
Width = Finished width + 2xSeam Allowance + 1x Finished Depth

Example: You want a bag that is 14"x12"x5" with a 1/2" Seam allowance.
Length = 14+.5+2.5 = 17"
Width = 12+1+5 = 18"
To make the guide for the boxed corners, mark ad 5"x5" square at the bottom corners.
happyboy3.JPGHalloween is right around the corner.  Instead of sending the kids out with boring pillow cases or generic, store-bought containers, make them a trick-or-treat bag that goes with their costume!

Happy stitching!

Sweetest Day

October 9, 2009

Sweetest Day is always the 3rd Saturday in October, and is a sort of Valentine's Day for everyone else in your life.  Started in the early 1920's by candy companies (of course), Sweetest Day is mainly celebrated in the northern part of the United States and is a great day to do something special of the sweet people in your life. 

In honor of Sweetest Day, I am going to share some of the sweetest blogs and websites I know with our sweet readers.

Moda Bake Shop

This awesome blog from Moda features all sorts of simply decadent projects using Moda assortments.  From quilts to handbags to gift bags, you can spend hours scrolling through this scrumptious assortment of how-to's and crafts.  Make sure you check out our Moda fabric and Moda assortments so you can "bake" your own goods.


cake pops.jpg

This fun blog is full of sweet treats, ideas and inspiration of the confectionary kind.   Whether you need to make a special cake or adorable cookies, this blog has a wide variety of recipes that range from super simple to "who do you thin I am? Martha?" complicated.  There are plenty of ideas that would be great to do with kids, including Bakerella's signature recipe - the ever-so-versatile Cake Pop!

All Things Cupcake

all things cupcake.JPGAs this title implies, this blog celebrates everything and anything cupcake related.  If you need a good source for vegan cupcakes, you've struck gold.  For those of us trying to cut down on our sugar intake, this blog also features various handmade, cupcake-shaped goods, including jewelry, soaps, bath fizzies and knitted/crochetted figurines.  I was surprised to see how popular cupcake tattoos are.

Cake Wrecks

cakewrecks.JPGOkay, so this blog is the darker side of the confectionary world, but it is also one of my favorite blogs ever.  Cake Wrecks is dedicated to professional cakes that have gone "horribly, hillariously wrong."  Readers send in pictures of cakes from professional bakeries (home made decorators are off-limits) that are horribly designed.  Some cakes are the kind that you just pick up off the shelf, but some the best entries are from where a customer's request is interperreted in an unfortunate manner.  Every Sunday Cake Wrecks takes a breather from the very bad and spotlights the very good in their "Sunday Sweets" posts.

Before I leave you to this Sweetest Day, don't forget to check out some sweets we have at Fabric.com:

Sweet Cakes By Fabri-Quilt

Sweet Cakes Promo.jpg  







Sweet Treats by RJR Fabrics

Sweet Treats RJR.jpg 







Sweets and Treats by Timeless Treasures

sweets and treats tt.jpg 







Girl Sout Cookies

Girl Scouts Fabric Collection.jpg

Ro Gregg's "To Die For Rigatoni Pasta with Bolognese Sauce"

Not only does Ro Gregg design fabrics, she is also a great cook. She has shared one of her favorite recipes with us.

Rigatoni Pasta w/ Bolognese Sauce       


1 medium Vidallia onion finely chopped              Salt and Pepper to taste

1 medium carrot finely chopped                          Tubular pasta - follow instructions on box.

6 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 Tri-pack of veal, pork and hamburger

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

1 cup red wine

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Italian seasonings : Your choice to taste

Optional : A tad of cognac


1. Saute onion, carrot and galic in extra virgin olive oil until onion is translucent.

2. Stir in meat and brown meat. Add salt, pepper, oregano, basil or your choice of Italian seasoning to release flavor of spices.

3, When meat is finished browning, stir in one can of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 cup of red wine and a sprinkle of cognac. Cover and simmer on low heat for 1 hour or until the desired consistency is reached. Garnish pasta with fresh chopped parsley and basil.

4. Sit back and enjoy the compliments.

If you still feel like sewing after this delicious treat, here is a link to a free pattern download from Northcott Fabrics: Cambridge Square.



The Fabric Maverick says... Put on your track shoes to keep up with Ro Gregg!

October 8, 2009

I recently caught up with Ro Gregg. This was no easy task! This grande dame of quilting designers is always on the go! Let's see what goes on in the world of Ro Gregg.

Fabric Maverick; "Ro, you have been in the fabric design business for a long time. How do you keep reinventing yourself? In fact, how long have you been designing fabric?

Ro Gregg: "I have been designing fabrics for more than two decades and have designed thousands of patterns. I am a romantic at heart and have collected antique china, vintage fabric and heirloom quilts. These are a true source of design inspiration. I am inspired by the world around me. I have had the great fortune of travel at an early age. My parents took us across country to just about all of our national parks. I have traveled to Europe and as a designer it developed my talents and my love of color. I, also, come from a long generation of gardeners and love Mother Nature's most precious gifts of flowers especially roses- all colors and shapes. This is evident in my rose designs and my flower of the month collections. The last two years my family has been blessed with the addition of five new babies so I am busy designing children's patterns and crib quilts. I am never at a loss for ideas. On the contrary, I seem to run well on overload. I also am inspired by what is happening in the world globally. I love the mix of traditional and Asian. I call it Asian Fusion and the bright pop of color blocking in the modern mixing of patterns."

Fabric Maverick: "What did you do before designing fabric?"

Ro Gregg: "I actually went to college to become a teacher. I studied English, Spanish and Art. When I graduated I moved to NYC. I moved into an apartment with my college roommates. I was one of the few offered a job teaching High School Spanish. The commute from the city was two hours and I decided to decline the job.  My first job was a merchandising trainee for a textile company where I received on the job training and became the liaison between the production department and the studio. Everything fast forwarded to designing which was just second nature to me. I have received over 15 design awards and over 50 nominations for excellence in design of quilting, home decor and crafts!"

Fabric Maverick: "Do you ever wish you had become that teacher?"

Ro Gregg: "I wanted to be a teacher but once I became involved in textiles designing it came natural to me. I especially enjoyed working with color and trend forecasting."

Fabric Maverick: "Do you feel that you have a signature style? I have seen you design everything from florals to oriental to tweens.

Ro Gregg: "My signature style and first love is a romantic cottage chic look mostly roses and other nostalgic florals and china tea cups, but I enjoy inspiring the quilters with new themes as well."

Fabric Maverick: "Northcott Fabrics has been a strong supporter of the Quest for a Cure. Are you the guiding factor behind this commitment? I love your "Passionately Pink" collection."

Ro Gregg: "Northcott was a front runner in the Quest for the Cure project long before I joined them. However for me personally, one of the nicest and rewarding parts of my designing is designing fabrics that can make a contribution to breast cancer research. It's sort of two-for-one as quilters can buy beautiful fabric from Northcott and as a result of their purchase a donation is made for cancer research. In my new collection, Passionately Pink, the panel showcases Northcott and my quest to find a cure. I used a decorative mix so that the quilter can make a quilt easily with the panel and its coordinating patterns for their home or gift giving."

Fabric Maverick: "I know this collection will be a huge hit with quilters everywhere. Who has been the biggest influence in your life?"

Ro Gregg: "My mother has been the biggest influence in my life. She was truly a Renaissance woman! She was one of the first women buyers for Bloomingdales. She was a mentor, a wonderful role model and a fabulous business woman. She also loved to cook and travel!"

Fabric Maverick; "No wonder you have achieved so much. Is there anything you would like to change in your life?"

Ro Gregg: "This is a difficult question as I have been blessed by God in many aspects of my life and have a wonderful husband, family and two Shih Tzu dogs -Marco and Polo and friends. I love what I do as it truly is a God-given talent.

Fabric Maverick: "What do you do when you are not designing?"

Ro Gregg: "I like to give back to my community and I am active in my church and the Ladies' Auxilliary. I love the outdoors, gardening, swimming, boating and taking long walks with my dogs. Summer is my favorite time of the year. My husband and I have two dogs and that takes up a lot of tiime. We entertain a lot with friends as well. My favorite hobbies are antiquing, swimming, boating. I love to just hang out at the New Jersey shore relaxing with friends-no make up, no fuss.

Fabric Maverick: "After everthing you do , I do not know where you find the time to relax."

Ro Gregg: " My days are extremely hectic as I work from home and it is hard to run it off. Usuallly I start early and walk both dogs a mile or two. Check my emails as I usually alsways have early morning emails from Korea about the differen fabric samples.Once 9:00 A.M. rools around, it's non-stop.... the phone about 30-40 calls easily a day. Designers come in and out, needing direction. 5:00 P.M. rolls around and the dogs are walked and if I do not have late day appointments I try to go swimming or take in a yoga or water aerobics."

Fabric Maverick: "I feel like a slacker compared to your schedule. We will be looking forward to your new collections. I would not be surprised to see some juvenile themes dominating your interest! Thank you again, Ro."

As a special treat to our readers Ro is sharing one of her favorite recipes and a project. Look for these tomorrow.

The Fabric Maverick says have a heart in your hand!

October 1, 2009

HeartInHand.gifThe Heart-In-Hand image is symbolic of charity given from the heart. I think we all want to give something back to our community or make a difference in someone's life. The hard part is figuring out what you can do! Some people can give money, some people can help build houses or work in shelters. Many of us can barely make ends meet and are raising families so we have no spare time to commit to projects such as houses. Sewers, fortunately, can use their skills to bring some comfort to people in need and can fit the time in between family and job commitments. There are many organizations that accept sewing donations from people. Fabric.com is currently carrying three fabric collections which support charitable groups:

Komfort Kids designed by PatricK Lose for Avlyn Fabrics was created to support the activities of the Project Linus. Project Linus is a non-profit organization with a two-fold mission.  First, to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer "blanketeers". Second, to a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals and groups in locat communities, for the benefit of children.

Animal Party Quilt For Kids designed by Amy Schimler for Robert Kaufman Fabrics was created to support the activities of Quilts For Kids. This organization has taken discontinued fabric that was going to be thrown away and used it to make quilts , wheelchair bags, totes and more for people in need. This has turned into a international effort. Every type of fabric is used and recycled into something usable for children, homeless people and the elderly.

Aspen's Line designed by Michele Wojcicki for Avlyn Fabrics supports the activities of the Humane Society. Our four-footed friends are not forgotten!

I have recently become aware "The Ugly Quilt Project" or the "Sleeping Bag Project". This was begun by My Brother's Keeper Quilt Group. The mission is create simple emergency sleeping bags from recycled fabrics and distribute them to the homeless. United Way will acceot these sleeping bags to distribute as needed. Please check with your local chapter for more information. I read an article recently that stated that 30% of the homeless are now families that have fallen on hardtimes in our current economic downturn. To me, it is very sad statement that there are any homeless people in America.


a. The Sleeping Bag is a utility quilt made from clean used or no-cost fabrics.

b. This simple sleeping bag should not have a market value to assure the homeless are beneficiaries.

c. The name indicates the skill level needed for this tied quilt.

d. The Ugly Quilt can be made in less than a day.

e. A group can make one in an hour.


1. Sew enough pieces together to form a seven foot by seven foot (7' x 7') square.

2. Sew two, 7' by 7' squares together to form the sleeping bag cover. 7' by 14' finished length.

3. Stitch two sets of three foot straps to a 7' edge, approximately 15 and 30 inches in. Straps are made of neckties, dress belts, etc.

4. On three eight foot (8') church tables, fill one half of the 14' x 7' piece with clean old blankets, mattress pads, fiberfill or light-weight rummage. Leave a three inch (3") seam allowance on the three open edges.

5. Cover with remaining 7' length. 6. Tie knots through all three layers with a double crochet cotton every eight inches (8"), to secure the covers to the fill layer.

7. Lay the 3' straps up onto the tied quilt.

8. Fold the tied 7' x 7' in half, R to L forming a 7' x 3 1/2' sleeping bag shape. * Triple knot with crochet cotton the remaining side and bottom edges every three inches catching only the four cover layers. Raw edges will insulate the seams when turned * The top edge and folded side are finished.

9. Turn right side out.

10. Roll up and tie straps tightly to secure. Feel free to implement your ideas but keep it simple, quick and cost free.

Though we do not advertise it, Fabric.com provides fabric to Extreme Home Makeovers as needed.

Please take time to give something back to your community. Some of these ideas are easy to implement. I have heard from many of our customers about their contributions to their communities from Jasmine who teaches teenagers to sew to Leila who buys denim to teach prisoners new skills. Give with your heart and work with your hands! In that spirit, we will have a very interesting interview with Ro Gregg next week. Ro designs for Northcott Fabrics who strongly support the quest for the cure!


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