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Hot Patterns Free Pattern Download: Aspen Cardigan

March 31, 2014

LI-Aspen-Cardigan.jpgIt's time for a new free pattern! It always feels like Christmas or my birthday when we get a new Hot Pattern download to test out. This time around, it's a cardigan with a ruffled peplum, designed for knits.

(Knits, I will never stop loving you.) 

The big draw here for me: There's no hemming or closure notions needed. The edges all around finish with a band of fabric, and it's designed to hang open (though I'll share some ways I played with closing it up wrap-style). Easy-peasy, perfect for a grab-and-go layer in your wardrobe. 

I made two versions of this, both in very fluid and drapey knits. For the first one, I went the ultra deluxe route and used designer knit -- a LIberty of London Dufour Jersey Knit in Darby Blue. It's like butter. 

The second version uses a slub jersey knit in a ballet pink. It's a much more economical option, but it also has a lovely drape. 

The cutting and construction is all straightforward. To cut a size 14, I used a little less fabric than called for on the pattern -- just a little more than two yards.

During construction, the only place I had to really take my time and exercise patience was getting the band that goes around the lower edge, center front and neck edge in place and lying smoothly. The curved bottom front edges were the trickiest bit. Once I had things figured out on the first go, the second one was a much smoother affair. 

The completed cardigan has a soft swing, and the peplum is not as full as I had expected based on the pattern sketch. This is a good thing -- it gives you more of a figure skim and less of a puffy effect. 

1-Aspen-Cardigan.jpgBut then while I was snapping photos, it occured to me that this garment is far more versatile than I had been thinking initially. I cut a strip off of a bit of knit yardage I had on hand and made a quick sash, overlapping the fronts of the cardigan like a wrap. And it is SO CUTE.


The soft pink, which is so girly and perfect for spring, also got a little belting treatment. 


This time, I used a chiffon scarf wrapped from the back, criss-crossed in the front, and then tied in the back. This is a perfect treatment to create an hourglass figure -- use a dark color for your sash and give yourself an instantly nipped-in waist.

4-Aspen-Cardigan.jpgWearing these soft, drapey fabrics in this fluid cut also made me think that it would be fun to make this up as a cover up for pajamas or even for poolside. Another versatile freebie from Hot Patterns! Huzzah!

Get your copy of this pattern here. Happy stitching!

Easter Basket Tutorial


Materials (for one basket):

½ yd. Fabric A Quilting Cotton

½ yd. Fabric B Quilting Cotton

½ yd. Medium weight interfacing

~ ½ yd. of Extra fabric for trim strips and handle

~ 24'' of ½'' diameter plastic tubing (from home improvement store)

All Seams are 1/2 '' unless otherwise noted


Print and cut out the Easter Basket Patterns Easter Basket Pattern 1 and Easter Basket Pattern 2. Cut out your pattern pieces. Fuse interfacing onto the exterior pieces.

With right sides together, pin 2 sides together along the short sides and stitch. Repeat with the other side. Clip the all around the bottom and pin to the bottom piece. Stitch around the bottom and press seams toward the sides. Topstitch to keep the seam allowance in place and trim seam allowance to ¼''. Turn right side out. Repeat for lining.

Place lining inside the exterior with wrong sides facing, pin in place. Cut a trim strip 3'' wide by ~24'' long. Press in ½'' of each long edge towards the center. Pin trim to inside of the basket and stitch in place. Fold the trim over the top of the basket and pin in place just covering the previous stitching line. Stitch in place, leave a 2-3'' gap to insert the tubing. Insert the tubing and cut to size. Stitch the gap closed.


Cut from fabric a handle piece 3'' wide by 20'' long and cut from interfacing 1''wide by 20'' long. Press fabric handle in half longwise and open and press edges toward center seam. Open handle and fuse interfacing to the center of the handle and fold the handle back up and topstitch down both long edges. Fold under raw short ends by ¾'' and pin to the center of the basket side right below the trim on both sides. Stitch in place with two lines of stitching to secure your handle. 


Embroidery Secrets

March 28, 2014


I'm a big fan of embroidery but I haven't always been. I've always enjoyed the relaxing technique, the color choices and the small, quiet, repetitive sounds from needle puncturing fabric but the pattern choices always turned me off. There are only so many mice scampering across 20 yr. old computer screen housing cute witticisms that I can work on before my brain just says "NO, no more!" Even with patterns that I love you can only use them so many times. What if I want to embroidery that flamenco dancer more than nine times? What's a girl to do?

So today I want to share my secrets for creating my own embroidery patterns that you can use easily to break out of the standard pattern rut. These secrets can be adapted for existing embroidery patterns or to make your own. All you need is some muslin/light colored fabric (dark colored or patterned fabric secrets are coming in May), a light box/ sunny window, and a water soluble marker.

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I love to use coloring pages as embroidery patterns because the designs are not overly detailed and look great once worked in embroidery floss. Coloring pages are abundant and easily accessible. You can find any design you want for any project, just type it into the search box of your search engine. Here's an example: if you are looking for a giraffe silhouette just type in giraffe silhouette coloring page into your search engine and select from hundreds or thousands of images.


Print out your coloring page and edit the size on a copy machine, copy center or using photo editing software. Tape your image to your light source. You can use a sunny window or a light box. Lay your fabric over your image (I used muslin). Then using your water soluble marker trace your design. The design should be visible through your fabric. However, if it is a cloudy/rainy day and you simply cannot wait, then use this tutorial to whip up an overhead projector (you already have plenty of boxes around). Once your design is traced you can stitch over your marker and then spray it away when you are done. Simple.IMG_5501.JPG

You needn't be limited to just coloring pages or your old patterns either. I downloaded a picture of a free Sashiko pattern and blew it up 200% to create my 16'' x 20'' design that I plan to hang over my bed. You can use this technique for your children's drawings, handwritten letters or family photos. Just be sure you have plenty of muslin because this is addicting. Don't forget you can easily dye you muslin if you want another color.   


You can find my Family Tree Coloring page here

Explore my other coloring sheet projects

Ruffle Knit Skirt

March 19, 2014

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It's getting warm and my daughter is asking for shorts and skirts. She had a super cute layered ruffle knit skirt last year that I wanted to recreate this year but add some shorts underneath. I am so pleased with the results.

Size 12-18 mo, (24 mo, 3T, 4T and 5T) [Shown in Size 5T]

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All seams are ½ unless otherwise noted. Please note: measure your child for the elastic size and cut a piece of 1'' wide elastic to that size minus 1''. I used 1.5 yds of Heather Ross Briar Rose Jersey Knit.

To complete the shorts I used the same modification of the Barbara Bloomers (a Create Kids Couture Free Pattern Download) but subtracted 2'' off the length.


Cut the pieces according to your desired size using my worksheet ruffle knit skirt.pdf. With right sides together sew all ruffle pieces to their mates along the short sides until you have several tube. Repeat for each tier piece. Run a gathering stitch ¼'' and 3/8'' from the top edge of each ruffle and pull to gather. Match the width of the top ruffle to the width of the middle tier, the width of the middle ruffle and bottom ruffle to the width of the bottom tier. With the right side of the tier facing the wrong side of the ruffle, Pin the top ruffle to the top edge of the middle tier and stitch in place. Pin the middle ruffle to the top edge of the bottom tier and stitch in place. Pin the bottom ruffle to the bottom edge of the bottom tier and stitch in place.

Pin the top edge of the bottom tier to the bottom edge of the middle tier, right sides together and stitch in place. Pin the top of the middle tier to the bottom of the top tier and stitch in place.

Complete your shorts according to the pattern instruction except do not finish the top. Place your shorts (right side out) inside the skirt and pin the top edges together. DO NOT match seams. You want to side seams of the skirt to match the sides of the shorts so you will need to measure and mark the sides on the shorts for matching. Stitch around the top. Attach your elastic to the top of your waist (I used the Fehr Trader's method from this post) and then flip your your elastic waist down and topstitch in place.

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Complete your skirt by finishing your ruffle hems with either no finish, a double turned hem, a rolled hem or simply serge the edge. I hemmed the shorts using my twin needle

This is a truly fun skirt, perfect for play, parties and warm weather fun!ruffle skirt2.jpg

Carry-on With Pre-quilted Fabrics!

March 16, 2014

LI-quilted-bag.jpgIt's time for another entry in our bag series!

Quilted bags are suuuuuuuper trendy right now -- take a stroll through the airport and you'll see dozens of Vera Bradley bags hanging from the shoulders and hands of travelers. I like the design of these bags, but they mostly come in paisley prints. While I often think the colorful fabric patterns are beautiful, they're not my style at all. 

We recently got in a bunch of darling Riley Blake double-sided pre-quilted fabrics, and the chevrons and dots made me think that at last, I could get in on the quilted bag trend! (And those skulls ... THOSE SKULLS!)

So, I put together a project for a carry-on bag with enough volume that I can get all my travel essentials in it and eliminate the need for a checked bag. Because I don't want to waste time waiting at the baggage carousel when I travel!

Supplies for this project:

-2 yards of pre-quilted fabric

-1 yard of accent fabric 

- 2 16-inch zippers

- 2 D-rings

- 5 yards of cotton piping

Here's how I made mine:

First, I cut 2 rectangles 22 x 15.5 inches for the sides of the bag. 

I wanted my bag to be just slightly narrower at the top, so I measured 1 inch in from the corner of each top edge and marked it. (I used a permanent marker for these photos so you can see it easily, but you'll probably want to use a proper marking tool.)

Then I drew a line from the bottom corners to the marks I made at the top, and cut off the excess.

Next, I used a curved object (in this case, a roll of tape because I'm super fancy) to round out each corner of the bag. Note that the curve of your corner will be affected by the size of the curved object you use. Just go with your personal preference.


Since this is the year of Radiant Orchid, I decided to use crocus Kona Cotton for an accent color. I cut bias strips and stitched them together to create about 7 yards for this project.

I cut 3 pockets for my bag using the side panels I already cut as a guide. I cut mine to be 9.5 inches deep, but you can alter it to your taste. I used some of my bias trim to bind the top edges of my pocket pieces.


I basted two pockets to the interior sides of the bag's body pieces, and then one pocket on the outside for the front. So I had one piece with pockets on both exterior and interior, and one piece with a pocket only on the interior.

I ran a straight stitch down the center of each piece through all thicknesses to separate the pocket pieces into two sections. 

I made enough piping using my bias trim and cotton cording to go around the outside of each of my main body pieces, and basted it into place.

To create a front flap to cover the exterior pocket, I cut a piece of pre-quilted fabric wide enough to span the space between the piped edges, and followed the contours of the bag to create the shape.

I bound the edges of the pocket, placed it upside down and right side down about 1/4 inch above the pocket edge (see second image in the series below for clarification), and stitched it into place 1/4 inch from the cut edge.

Then I turned the flap down and stitched 3/8 inch from the folded edge to enclose the raw edge. 


To make the handles, I first cut 2 pieces 21 x 5.5 inches out of my accent fabric. Then I cut two scraps of fleece 15 x 5.5 inches. (The fleece will never be seen, so this is  good time to get rid of leftovers or odd prints.)

I centered the fleece on the accent fabric, then folded both fabrics as one in thirds. 

I folded the handle pieces one last time to bring the two folded edges together, then I stitched the whole thing together along the joined folds.

There are no hard-and-fast rules for rolled handles, so if another approach works for you, go for it. 


For handle placement, I measured 6 inches from the piping on each side of my bag and 2 inches down from the top. Then I stitched the handle in place, wrong side up, 1/4 inch from the edge. Last, I flipped the handle up and stitched a box with an X in it to make sure it's good and secure. 


To create the sides of my bag, I first cut 2 pieces 30.25 x 5.5 inches to use for my zipper section. Instead of trying to find a zipper in the color purple I want long enough for this piece (a frustrating experience, to say the least), I opted to use two 16-inch zippers and have them meet in the middle. This is a trick I have used many, many times. I just mark the center of the fabric, then fold the ends of the zippers out of the way where they meet. I machine baste the zippers in place.


The zipper assembly is the one place I used a lining on this bag -- because of the double-sided quilting fabric, it's just not needed for the most part. BUT, I wanted to avoid any loose edges near the zippers that could get caught in the teeth, so I sandwiched the zippers between my quilted fabric and a matching cut of my accent fabric and stitched everything together. I repeated this for the opposite side of the zipper. Then I pressed out the fabrics away from the zipper and stitched through all layers.


I wanted to add D-rings to my bag so I can clip a shoulder strap to it if I want. To make tabs for my D-rings, I cut 2 pieces of fabric 4 inches wide and about 7 inches long (much of that length is excess), and pressed the fabric in folds to cover a piece of grosgrain ribbon. I stitched down both edges of my folded fabric, and then looped each strap through a D-ring; I stitched close to the metal rings to prevent sliding.


Time to finish putting together the assembly that would go all around the outside edge of my bag!

I cut a piece of my pre-quilted fabric 10.5 x 38.5 inches. I stitched this piece to the zippered section at both ends of the zipper, centering the zipper and layering my D-ring tabs between the two fabric pieces. So when it's all turned right side out, you should have a full circle of fabric, and the sides look like this:


True confession, I never manage to get my zipper sections of the loop to match the width of the rest of the loop. I just trim them to match after I've joined everything together.

Once my side sections were done, I marked the centers at top and bottom of the bag body pieces and made matching marks on the loop that would form the sides. Then I stitched it all together, using my marks as guides. To cover all fabric edges, you can cut more bias to bind the interior seams.

Here's the finished bag, very voluminous and ready for loading up with adventure needs. I can easily fit a pair of running shoes side-by-side in the bottom of this bag, which I need because most of my travel is related to a races. If you don't need that much volume, you could play with the width of the pieces you cut to create the sides of the bag and create a narrower profile.


Plenty of room for notebooks and other small items in the pockets. 


I have another colorway of this one in the works already. I'm going to have to start traveling more to use all these bags!

Free Knitting Patterns and New Yarn

February 19, 2014

We are constantly getting new, beautiful fabric and yarn stock in at so I wanted to take this opportunity to reintroduce you to our free knitting pattern downloads by pairing them up with some of our newest stock of yarn. Since most you are still in winter's grips it is nice to explore something new if you have cabin fever. For those of us getting a taste for spring's rapid approach (it was in the 70's in Atlanta the other day), we have a taste for brighter colors. So new is needed all around; check it out with me.

Autumn Stars Sock Pattern: more like Spring Stars so let's knit these socks up in brighter hues and sequins.

Beach Pillow Knitting Pattern: Spring Break is coming and many of you will head to the beach. Coordinate this pillow to match your beach blanket or swimsuit in Cotton yarn.

Belle Handwarmers: Who needs handwarmers in spring? Anyone who works in an office, early mornings or night shift. But knit them up in a softer shade and some pima cotton and alpaca.

September Shawl: This is my favorite of the free pattern downloads I've designed for I have made it as teacher presents and gifted it to friends. I love working it in different yarns, fibers, and sheens. This cotton metallic yarn works up with a soft hand and nice drape, espcially if you go up one needle size. The metallic sheen means you can wear this to glam up your tunic and jeans or over a little black dress for a night out.

Easy-peasy lounge pants

January 24, 2014


We work hard and when it's time to relax we want to do that hard as well. When we go to work we wear work clothes, when we go someplace nice we wear nice clothes and when we relax we wear relaxing clothes.


I don't mess around with my lounge clothes. I want soft. I want comfy. I also want cute; it makes me feel good. But, and please bear with me, I don't always want yoga pants. Wait, don't stop reading. The only reason I say that is because sometimes, just sometimes, I want a slimmer fit. Some days, I am clumsy and the wider leg of my yoga pants is not condusive to walking, running after kids or even watching a good movie. So I created an alternative version for those days. You decided for yourself or better yet make both so you can have another reason to relax.


I started with my previous yoga pants pattern that we drafted back here but from the just above the knee down I tapered the leg all the way down to the ankle taking off an 1.5'' on the inside and outside of each leg. This is not enough to give the pant a tapered look when wearing, it appears as a straight leg when worn. I cut the pattern pieces out of ITY Jersey Knit Fabric and stitched the two front pieces together at the crotch. All seams are 1/4'' unless otherwise noted. 

Next, cut 4 patch pockets from printed Jersey Knit Fabric using this pattern piece and with right sides together stitch two pieces together leaving the top open for turning. Press. You can finish the top with your serger, bias trim or fold over and top stitch. Repeat for second pocket. Pin pockets to the front of your pants 1'' from the top and 1.5'' from the center seam. Top stitch each pocket in place. 

Finish assembling the pants by sewing the two back pieces together at the crotch seam (right sides together) then stitch the side seams, inseam and assemble the yoga band and stitch it to the top of the pants. (see this previous post for instructions). Finish the bottom legs with a turned hem. 


Now cut four pieces of 1/4'' elastic to 4'' long. With pants right side out, pin one piece of elastic 1'' above bottom hem on the side seam. Using a small zig zag stitch (your machine may have a elastic zig zag stitch, see your manual) start sewing about 1/2'' from the edge of the elastic, back stitching in place. Sew for about 1/4'' then start stretching the elastic. Keep sewing and stretching until you reach the last 1/2'' of elastic then back stitch in place and clip your threads. Repeat for the remaining piece on that leg and the other 2 pieces of elastic on the other leg. This will give you a ruched effect at the bottom of each leg. 

These lounge pants are just the thing for hanging out, running errands, making sure you don't look like you just rolled out of bed to drop off your kids at school though you totally did, pajama pants, and yoga pants. Add your own style with different pocket shapes or add length to your pants and increase the length of the elastic for a greater ruching effect. The pockets are just the right size to fit an MP3 player, cell phone, lip balm or to hide chocolate candies which you can eat unseen during a movie. 

One Size Casserole Carrier

January 9, 2014


I love casseroles. I really really love them. While I do love to cook I am not about 30 ingredients and several hours of tastings and seasonings. I love chopping a few things, throwing them in a dish and tossing that into the oven. 20-40 minutes later I expect my nose to be in ecstasy and shortly there after my belly to be full and happy. Soooo, since I am such a casserolian I realized one day that I need a mode of transportation for my beloved one dish wonders. The glass lids on my corningware are not suitable for car trips so I improvised something that ended up doing the job but was a one-way venture only.   I was lucky enough to be dropping off a casserole to a friend who happened to have a casserole carrier she inherited from her grandmother. I stole it quickly and used it until it disintergrated. In this post I will remake this carrier and show you how to make your own to fit your casserole dishes. I made mine out of only lightweight cotton but feel free to add insultating batting.


1) Grab your biggest casserole dish and place it on a large sheet of paper (I used the butt end of a roll of newspaper print) and trace your dish, rounding any sharp edges. Next, measure the height of your dish, divide it in half and add that all around your traced shape. Add your seam allowance (I prefer 1/2'') all around. Cut out your pattern piece. 

2) On a fold piece of quilting cotton (I used Clothworks), trace your pattern piece and cut it out. You should have 2 pieces, a top and a bottom. Set your bottom piece aside. On your top piece, measure and mark 3.5'' in all around your piece. With a fabric marker connect all these marking until you have a shape similar to your top piece. Cut it out so you have a hole in the middle of your top piece and the remaining top piece is 3.5'' wide. 


3) Cut 2 straps 15'' long by 4'' wide. Fold strap in half lengthwise and press. Open and fold each long side toward the center and press. Fold the strap in half again with raw long edges tucking toward the center fold and press again. Top stitch down the strap on both sides. Repeat for second strap. Fold your top piece in half along the length and mark the center. Pin each strap short end 2-3'' from the center mark on either side of the center mark, matching the raw short ends with the outside edge of the top piece. Baste straps in place. With wrong sides together, pin and stitch the top piece to the bottom piece. 

4) Cut 4 yds of 2'' wide bias trim from a coordinating solid quilting cotton and 1 yd of 4'' wide bias trim. Press both trim pieces into a double fold. Using the 2'' trim apply it to the outside raw edge of the casserole carrier. Apply the 4'' bias trim to the inside hole of the casserole carrier leaving a 2'' gap for the drawstring. Serge or zig zag stitch the remaining 2'' bias trim to use as the drawstring. Thread it through the casing your created with the 4'' bias trim with a bodkin or a safety pin. Knot each end several times until the knot is bigger than the opening. casserole7.jpgPlace your casserole in your carrier and pull the drawstring. It will tighten the whole carrier around your dish to secure it and the lid in place. This carrier can adjust to any shape dish. I've used mine for oblong and round. It is great and very handy. 


Last Minute Hostess/Teacher Gifts

December 13, 2013

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If you are like me I am still trying to get everyone on my list a little something homemade. Luckily, my family all knows how much I love them everyday so they are at the bottom of my list and my daughter's teachers are at the top. Even though I tell them all the time how much I adore them I also know how much they give and sacrifice to give my daughter a great education so I place them at the top of my "homemade list".Also at the top are all my hostess friends who work so hard to make my holiday season festive. Everyone's list is long so the only way to get it all done is to pick great gifts that pack a punch. I love tote bags, cowls and sweet little details for those really special givers in our lives. 



For my teacher/hostess gifts I chose to make a chic but simple cowl, a quick but so cute tote bag and a super sweet little girl's dress. The cowl makes the perfect hostess gift because you can wrap it around a bottle of wine and its use goes beyond the party. I learned to make this cowl from Craftsy's Beginner Serging class but it is basically two 60'' wide fabric pieces serged together. It is so easy but so lux. There is knit on the inside and twill print on the outside.



For a teacher gift I made the Pleated Shoulder Bag from Amy Carol's Bend the Rules Sewing. This is a great book for quick, creative gifts. I had previous cased out my teacher's handbag to determine her style but I wasn't sure I had the time to take on a really great handbag project. I opted for a super great tote bag instead; something every teacher can use. This bag came together with 1/2 yd of each fabric: Organic Cotton in Gray and Denyse Schmidt Cotton Print. This tote carries a lot and looks great doing it. It goes together pretty fast and it is easy to customize. The large gussets help it to accomodate lots of books, games or tasty treats. 


Finally for my daughter's head teacher I made something for her own daughter. She has a 2 yr old who is very dear to her and I wanted to make something special since she is always admiring my little one's dresses. I casually asked about her daughter's favorite colors and when I found this pink dog print I knew I had struck gold. I modified the back for a zipper for ease and added a tie to the back so there would be a big pink bow on the back for cutness. You can't go wrong with an Oliver + S pattern. 

For those of you still scrambling or looking for more quick gifts check out our other great gifts blog posts here.

The coolest pillowcases ever!

December 10, 2013

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Around the office, we are buzzing about all the really cool fabrics for kids of all ages we have in stock right now. We are dreaming up quick gift ideas, and the one that keeps coming up is to make pillowcases with a theme. Sew4Home has a great Sleepover Pillowcase project that's quick and easy. Here are just a few of the really cool prints we have: Peanuts, Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Family Guy, Angry Birds, Strawberry Shortcake, Sesame Street, The Big Bang Theory and Hello Kitty. Check out the Famous Character Cotton Print fabrics if you want to see all the great prints of characters you know and love.

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