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DIY Framed Fabric Bulletin Board

This is a simple and quick project that is as pretty as it is practical! It’s a great way to showcase a favorite piece of fabric, and you can make it any size you like. To see the one above in our newly re-decorated boys’ room, just click right here: All Around the World Boys’ Room.

The supply list:
a frame (We found ours at a thrift store.)
a piece of foam board slightly larger than the frame
a piece of fabric large enough to cover the the foam board and wrap around to the back
duct tape
picture hangers (I used D-ring hangers on ours.)Slide your empty frame over the piece of foam board and shove the foam board tightly into one corner. One top and one side should be firmly up against the frame opening. Use a pencil to trace the other side and the bottom onto the the foam board. You’ll have to slide the pencil tip up under the edge of the frame opening and angle it slightly. You want the foam board to fit tightly into the frame so be sure to trace right up against the opening.Remove the frame and use a craft knife and straight edge to cut the foam board along the lines you traced. Once your foam board is cut, check the fit inside the back of the frame before moving on. The foam board should fit snugly inside the frame.Trim your fabric so that you have at least a few inches to fold up and over on each side of your foam board piece.
Spread your fabric out in front of you with the wrong side up. Center the cut piece of foam board on top of the fabric. Wrap one long edge up over the foam board and duct tape it in place. (I know it seems silly to use duct tape, but it works! And, it allows you to easily switch out the fabric whenever you’d like.) Wrap the other long edge up and tape it, too.Wrap the short ends up just like you would wrap a gift and tape them in place, as well.Make sure that your fabric is taped securely.Press the fabric-wrapped foam board into the back of the frame. Attach hangers. Hang it up on the wall and display your treasures! Do note that if you pin and unpin things on this board often, you may have to replace the foam board since the holes don’t self-heal. These bulletin boards have worked really well in our home, though, and I love how easy they are to switch out whenever the urge strikes!

The Wonky House Quilt Block Tutorial

Welcome to the Fishsticks Designs Blog’s first quilt block tutorial! I am so excited about getting to be a part of the Around the Block Round Robin at Patchwork Posse! When Becky asked me if I’d like to join in by sharing my favorite quilt block, I knew right away what block that would be. I’m calling it the “My House is a Little Wonky” Block.

I love the whimsical nature of wonky house blocks, and the fact that they’re perfect in their imperfection. This block has no picky corners to be aligned perfectly, and it lets you use your imagination a bit. My husband retired from the Air Force about eight years ago after 20 (“and a half!” he would add) years, and we’ve lived in a lot of houses. With each move, I immediately started decorating to turn our house into our home. One of the things all of that decorating taught me, is that no house is ever perfectly straight . . . ever. It’s not really visible from the outside or with a casual glance, sometimes you even have to climb up into those dark corners to find out that the walls are slightly crooked, but they always are. I think there’s a little life lesson in that. In spite of how we might look from the outside or at a casual glance, we’re all a little wonky, just like our houses. It’s a good thing, too. If we weren’t, life would be far too boring!

Ready to get started? The tutorial for this freezer-paper-pieced block looks really long, but I promise this block is not hard to assemble at all. I’ll walk you through every step!

You’ll need a few things before you get started. First, you’ll want to print this color template for your house block: Color Template. Be sure when you print that you’ve chosen to print at full-size or 100%. You may have to save the file to your computer to print it.  (There’s a black and white template shown below, too. Don’t worry about printing it right now, but you may need it later: Black & White Template.) In addition to your regular quilting supplies, since this is a freezer-paper-pieced block, you’ll need some freezer paper. (Iron Man is totally optional, however. When you live in a house with little boys, and you walk away from your supplies, you often come back to find tiny visitors.)To assemble your color template, just trim the 1/2″ margin off of the left hand side of the bottom right corner page.Overlap the bottom right corner page with the bottom left corner page. Line everything up and tape it in place.Piece the top two pages together in the same manner, and then tape all four pieces together.Check to make sure that your template measures 12 1/2″ square before moving on.Cut a piece of freezer paper slightly bigger than 12 1/2″ square and place it shiny side down/matte side up on top of your template. (If you find that it’s too difficult to see through the freezer paper, you can print the black and white template for tracing instead.)Using a pencil and straight edge, trace the template onto the matte side of the freezer paper.Use the color template to label all of the pieces. You’ll see that the block is divided into four sections, and the colors are labeled from left to right and from the bottom up. Using abbreviations will help this part to go faster.Choose your fabrics! This is a great time to use up tiny scraps. They are perfect for windows, doors, chimney, etc.Cut your freezer paper template into pieces.Separate the template pieces into colors/fabrics.Now the fun part starts! Position one of your template pieces on the fabric you’ve chosen for it with at least 1/4″ margin all the way around. Be sure that you’ve placed the template on the right side of the fabric with the shiny side of the freezer paper down. With your iron set to cotton/no steam, press the template onto the fabric. The coating on the shiny of the freezer paper will melt and the template will temporarily stick to the fabric.To add your 1/4″ seam allowance, place your clear quilting ruler on top of your template/fabric piece. Line the 1/4″ marking up with the edge of the template so that the ruler overlaps the template, as shown.Run your rotary cutter down the edge of the ruler to trim away the excess fabric, leaving the 1/4″ seam allowance outside the template.Cut each side of your fabric in the same manner so that you have a finished fabric piece with the template still attached and a 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around it. (Don’t take your templates off yet!)Where you have multiple templates for one piece of fabric, you can iron them all on at once, but be very careful to make sure you have 1/2″ (1/4″ times two) between all of the pieces. It’s best to put more than that, just in case.Continue ironing your templates onto your fabric and using your ruler and rotary cutter to trim away the excess fabric leaving 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around each template. Once you’re finished, separate them all into their individual sections.The remaining pictures will walk you through the order in which to assemble your pieces. Remove the templates as you get to each piece. Stitch the pieces together using 1/4″ seam allowance and press your seams (open or to one side, whichever you prefer) before moving on to the next fabric piece.Start by sewing the Section 1 grass pieces to either side of the path.Assemble Section 2 next — the house, including doors and windows.Move onto Section 3 which includes the roof, chimney and sky pieces.Finally, sew the Section 4 tree pieces together.
Now you’re ready to sew your sections together!Almost done! Just square your block up to 12 1/2″ and admire your work. That wasn’t hard at all, right?I can’t wait to see your finished blocks! I’ve been having such a great time sewing along myself. Want to see my blocks so far? I love how they’re coming together!

The Updated FREE Tank & The Red Carpet Awards!

I’m nearly bubbling over with excitement here! I have several new things to share with you over the next week or so, and I can’t wait to hear what you think about each of them! Today brings the first two announcements on the list: the re-release of the FREE Fishsticks Designs The Tank pattern (now in sizes 12 months to 14) and two nominations for Fishsticks patterns in the PDF Pattern Designers Red Carpet Awards!

If you’ve never joined the PDF Pattern Promotion and Sales Group on Facebook, I encourage you to take a few minutes to head over right now and check it out. You’ll find over 10,000 sewists who are devoted to supporting independent pattern designers and encouraging each other in their sewing endeavors. Many of your favorite designers are there, too, joining in the discussion, sharing their latest patterns, promoting their sales, helping out with questions and more! This week, the group moderators have announced nominees for the first ever PDF Pattern Designers Red Carpet Awards in conjunction with a HUGE giveaway, and all you have to do to have a chance of winning is go vote!

Two of my patterns were nominated: the Charlie Tee & Hoodie and the Runaround Pants, and I’d love if you’d vote for them! To read more about the giveaway and to vote, just click the banner below:
As my little way of joining in the celebration, I’ve revised my free The Tank pattern, adding big kid sizes and incorporating a big change that is coming soon to all of my PDF patterns.The Tank pattern is designed to be sewn with cotton and cotton blend knits — jersey, interlock or ribbed knits in the body and interlock or ribbing for the neckband and armholes.The fit is narrower and longer than a standard tee, making it great for layering, but still perfect for wearing on its own. It also makes a great PJ top when paired with woven or knit lounge pants. (If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the appliqued tanks that I made for my seven-year-old last month!) Or, you can match it up with Undercover Bottoms Boxer Briefs for the perfect little boys’ undies set.A little aside from the pattern itself, isn’t that the cutest fabric? My boys LOVE it! It came from a custom fabric group that you can find right here: Fabric Stache. If you’re looking for great knits with prints that you can’t find just anywhere, go visit! (They’re doing sew-alongs every other week right now with my knit patterns, too.)Back to the subject at hand, to download the pattern, just click right here: The Tank Pattern. I’ll be back tomorrow with my next announcement, but if you’re already familiar with my PDF patterns, you’ll figure it out really quickly by scrolling through The Tank pattern!

I just have one, no, two last pictures to share before I wrap up this post. Because we live in Florida, tanks work well for us almost year-round. My little Florida babies, though, thought that they were going to freeze to death when I dragged them out to take pictures last week . . . in 65 degree weather!The “freezing cold” weather, however, did not stop them from insisting that I follow through with the promise of frozen yogurt after our photo session!

Adding Footies to the Jamie Jumper – Guest Tutorial

My friend, Allison, from Alternate Endings put together this simple tutorial for adding feet to the Jamie Jumper, and I asked her if she’d mind letting me share it on my blog. If you’re looking to make footie PJs for your little ones this winter, just grab your Little One Layette or Wee Tot Collection pattern, and check this out!

Turn your Jamie Jumper into Jamie Jumper Footie PJs

Begin by laying out your pattern pieces (except for leg cuffs – you won’t need them) as directed in the instructions, adding 2″ to the bottom of each leg section. Also add at least 2-3 inches to each piece of binding. If it’s too long you can cut off the excess.You will also need to cut out pieces for the feet. I used pattern pieces from a different pattern, but you can also use the bottom and top pieces for a soft-sole shoe pattern, or just trace around your child’s foot with these approximate shapes, being sure to give some wiggle room and adding a 1/2″ seam allowance. (The half piece is for the top of the foot, and the whole piece is the sole.) If it fits your baby, it should work just fine.Assemble your Jamie Jumper as usual, leaving off the leg cuffs. And don’t forget to make a few mistakes like I did. You know, things like forgetting to cut the binding an extra two inches longer and having to move the serger next to the sewing machine so you can sew an extra strip of binding on without having to remove the garment from the serger. Please make that mistake. It will make me feel so much better.

After the JJ is assembled, you need to cut a rounded “V” shape onto the bottom front of each leg – approximately 1″ wide and 1-1/4″ high. Round the pointed part a bit.When you make the V for the side with the ribbing/binding, be careful not to cut it too close to the ribbing. Leave about 1/4″ between the ribbing and the V so you have room to attach the foot pieces.Attach the top part of the footie to each “V”, right sides together. Match the middles and sides. You will probably have to stretch the V a little to make it fit.After you have attached the top portion of the footie, turn your JJ inside out and attach the bottom part of the footie to the bottom of the Jumper, right sides together. Match ends and sides. You will probably not need to stretch anything for this to fit – unless you have a very large-footed kid.Turn garment right side out, admire your handiwork, and finish jumper as directed.

Tutorial by Allison Sanders Morton.
Shared with permission.

Twin Needle Hemming – A Tutorial

I originally shared this information as part of the Charlie Tee Sew-along in July of 2013, but I thought it deserved to be turned into a stand-alone tutorial so that it’s easy for you to refer to when necessary. The twin needle is a perfect choice for hemming knits, not only because it gives your sewing a beautiful finished look, but also because it gives you two rows of stitches on the front (see above), and a nice stretchy zig-zag on the back (see below). That stretch in the twin needle hem goes a long way in helping to prevent popped stitches.Let’s get started! First you need a few tools: a twin needle (also referred to as a double needle), your regular spool of thread and a second source of thread (I use a bobbin). Since you’re working with knits, it’s best to use a ballpoint or stretch twin needle. Those are hard to find locally, but they are pretty easy to find online: stretch twin needle, ballpoint twin needle. I prefer the 4.0 mm twin needle — that number refers to the measurement between the left and right needles. You can use a 2.5 mm if you’d like your stitches closer together.Some sewing machines, like mine, have a button or switch that needs to be pushed to change from single to double-needle sewing. Here’s what that button looks like on my machine. Go ahead and press that button. Remove your single needle and replace it with the twin needle.Many sewists put both thread sources on the pin that holds your regular spool. On my machine the threads tend to tangle when I do it this way.Some machines have a extra removeable pin just for a second spool of thread. I think mine did at one time, but I’m not sure where it’s disappeared to. It’s not a problem, though, since I’m using a bobbin for my second thread. I just pop that bobbin onto the bobbin-winding pin with the thread feeding towards the front of the machine.You can thread the twin needle by pulling both threads through as one. My machine is a little bit picky, though, and I’ve had to work with it until I found the best way to thread the twin needle. What I do is thread the left needle first from the spool of thread, then I press and hold that thread in place on top of the machine just before it enters the guides while I thread the right needle from the bobbin.Once I have both needles threaded, I pull the threads back away from the machine as one.Now that your twin needle is threaded, we’re ready to get hemming! I serge the raw edges of my hems, but that is purely for aesthetic reasons. (I like for the inside of my garments to look as nice as the outside.) Because knits don’t fray, you can totally skip this step if you want to.With a hot steam iron, press your hem allowance to the inside. If your knit is particularly stretchy or uncooperative, use a little spray starch when you iron.Because we’re going to be stitching on the right side of the fabric, and I don’t want to sew over my pins, I use long pins and position them so that the heads hang off of the folded edge. This way, I can make sure that the hem is pinned properly, and I can remove them as I get to them while I’m sewing.I like to start my hems about 1/2″ in from the edge of the fabric. Set your stitch length to 3.0 or 3.5. (Shorter stitch lengths stretch fabrics.) I backstitch about 1/4″, then stitch all the way across feeling through the fabrics to make sure that my stitching is falling just inside the raw edge on the underside of the fabric. I stop stitching about 1/4″ from the opposite side, backstitch to 1/2″ then sew forward again to the end. (Starting your stitching a bit in from the edge will help to keep your machine from “eating” the end of your knit fabrics. Backstitching to 1/2″ will help make sure that you don’t chop off your fastening stitches when you serge later.)Be careful not to stretch or pull your fabrics as you’re sewing. Just guide and let the feed-dogs pull them through. (This is much easier with a walking foot!) Pulling on your fabrics while you’re sewing can lead to hems that look like this:What you really want, though, is hems that look like this:That wasn’t too hard was it?

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