Perhaps you recall the post “My tribe lifts up my daughter through quilting.” I can’t read that post without tearing up…and I wrote it. How sad is that…?  On second thought, don’t answer that!

Well, the grandson arrived and the quilt sat unfinished on the Handi Quilter for several months.  Thanksgiving was fast approaching and Grandma, who generously donated her dining room for the project months before, was getting antsy to get her dining room back.  So I asked my Daughter if I could finish the quilt for her.  She was sleep deprived and agreed! Yay!

I finished up the quilting (took about 30 minutes since we were so close to being done).  Then I brought the quilt back to my house (disassembled the handi quilter so mom could host Thanksgiving!), and got to work on finishing the quilt.

The first thing you do is square off the corners and trim the edges.  I did this with my rotary cutter and a square ruler.

The second thing you do is measure the perimeter to know how much binding you need.  Then you create the binding.  Usually bias tape is used.  Bias tape is simply strips of fabric that are cut diagonal (45 degrees) to the grain of the fabric.  I didn’t take a picture of making the strips, but the fourth step is to sew the strips into one big long  strip like so:

Notice how the strips are perpendicular. This is for pattern continuity.


The next step is to iron all of the long strip into what’s called TRI-FOLD bias tape. First fold the strip in half lengthwise, then iron this crease.  Then open up the strip, and fold in each side until the sides touch the long crease. Like so:


A trick is to use a pin on the iron board to make a little bar the strip has to go under, then put the iron just over this. Pull the tape out the end slowly.


Notice my adorable little iron. I can’t remember where I got it, but this thing is invaluable.  When I sew, I iron everything. In fact, I would go so far as to say that IRONING is the key to good sewing. (It’s the only time I use an iron, to be fair…)  When you follow pattern directions, they will say “Press the seams” in one direction or the other.  Do not skip this step.  In quilting…the key to perfect pinwheels…Ironing!  Really perfect sewing requires ironing. Period.  This little iron means I don’t have to heat up a big iron for small seams. I don’t risk burning myself trying to navigate 1/4″ seams either.  Pick one up if you can. It cost all of like $10 if memory serves. Definitely worth the investment!


So where was I…ok, yes…the next step once you have your Tri-Fold Bias tape is to pin the binding to the quilt.  There’s some choice here.  I start on the front.  Here’s why.  The side you start on will have the cleaner look.  That’s just my opinion.  Also, I hand sew the second side. Some people machine sew the second side, which then shows up on the first side.  If you are going to machine sew, then make the back your first side. You don’t want the thread showing up on your front.

Just my $0.02.

I think hand sewing the back is the proper way to do it, even if it takes a bit longer.

The right sides together, pin the binding around the quilt.

Looks like a really ugly tie from the 70’s does it?


Now. I’ve debated whether or not to have the discussion about “perfectly mitered corners or not.  I don’t think I will. Instead, here are some links that are helpful:


This post is awesome.  Has great pictures, etc.  I didn’t take the dozens of pictures necessary to really convey the process, and since someone already has…voila.  Go read that then come back here :D.

The next step is to sew the binding on, following the crease made by the first fold going right to left.

You will see this clearly when you place your quilt and binding on the sewing machine and are ready to start sewing

Follow the crease.


See how obvious the crease is?  I would say, don’t sew directly on the crease, but one or two threads INSIDE the crease.  That way, when you fold it over, your threads are kind of hidden.


Ok, so we are cooking with gas now!  Follow the tutorial above when you get to the corners, but sew all the way around the quilt.  Then take out all your pins (unless you did when you were sewing, I’m not a fan of sewing over pins – have broken too many needles that way), flip the binding over and IRON your binding down.

You’ll then bend the binding over to the other side and pin all the way around the quilt.





Here’s the back binding being hand sewn. Notice how the thread disappears? This is called a whip stitch.  I just got lucky and my thread matches.  You could do a blind stitch here if you didn’t have thread that matched as well.


And finally, here are the awesome corners:

Pretty good corners if I do say so myself!



This is the binding fabric that came in the kit. I’m not sure I would have picked it myself.  It was hard to keep the pattern going in the same direction. I miss-sewed a couple of times and had to pick out the stitches. But in the end it came out pretty good.  Here’s the finished thing.  And the backing we just happened to get lucky and found matching caterpillar fabric at a totally different store:


So that’s that.  I bought this kit when my son was like 2.  Now it was made for my GRANDSON.  We started making it when my daughter was about 6 months pregnant, and finished when the baby was about 4 months old.  So, to be honest, one of the fastest quilts I’ve made.  The quilting has words hidden like “Teddy,” “Mommy loves you” and numbers.  My daughter was so proud at how good it came out. And I’m proud of her first quilt!  I’m thrilled with all my wonderful friends and family that helped in making this quilt as well.  Feels like an old fashioned quilting-bee kind of quilt.

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I was thinking the other day that my posts on making the capris really didn’t go into specific details of sewing the pattern.  This was done purposefully under the assumption that ya’ll know how to sew a pattern.  My husband pointed out that such assumptions are presumptuous.  So, I thought, I’ll do a step by step how to sew a sewing pattern!  Brilliant!
So brilliant, it’s been done before!

Fiskars How to Use a Pattern

Why reinvent the wheel. This is the go to guide you should start with if you are unfamiliar with how to cut out a pattern. The author actually appears to have sewn before, unlike some of these how-to blog sites that seem to hire freelance writers with no other talent beyond writing (or not). My only complaint is that she drops off before actually sewing anything. Mostly it’s about cutting out the patterns (makes sense on a scissor website). But following ALL the directions of the pattern is obviously important, and can be intimidating. Let’s see the whole process!

Sew Mama Sew Patterns…Demystified

This is a great tutorial with detailed pictures. I would recommend this one highly.  Again, only gets you through cutting the pattern then stops. Maybe it’s just not feasible to do a tutorial of the whole process? Do I ask too much?

Adventures in Dressmaking How to use a sewing pattern

This tutorial isn’t. It has descriptions but I like to see pictures of the steps, personally.  This is more like a discussion about using patterns vs not with some details of how to use a pattern strewn about.

Reading a Sewing Pattern for Dummies
Where are the pictures? Man, I like me some pictures! This tutorial has ZERO.  I just skimmed it. Yeah, I’m that lazy. If you didn’t know that you must be new to my blog.

MimsMusings 25 Steps to Sew From a Pattern

Love this one, but would have liked to have seen more pictures. Love that step one is to measure. Yeah, do this before you leave for the fabric store, please! Again, someone who actually sews.  More like 25 tricks when using a sewing pattern, though (like not all patterns have zippers, but great tip on how to install them).  Still some good advice.

Ok, so there are tons of “How to sew from a Pattern” Tutorials or rather, blog posts, out there. I’m not going to waste your time writing what’s already out there dozens of times (if not more).  You can obviously use the googles or the search engine of your choice to find more.  If you find anything worthwhile, please post in the comments. I would love to see it!
I am however going to blog step by step my attempt to teach my husband to sew from a pattern. That would be educational AND entertaining. So stay tuned for that.

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UPDATE: The birthing gown in use here.

Have I mentioned that I’m going to be a grandmother? My daughter is about to give birth to my first (hopefully of many) grandson in a few short weeks.

Wanting to do something nice for HER (cause the baby already has more than he needs and he’s not even here yet), I asked her if she would like a birthing gown instead of using those dull hospital gowns.

She was keenly interested, so off we trekked to Mary Jo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia, N.C.  Mary Jo’s is also known as the Mecca of fabric stores (no offense).  It’s massive and has such a dizzying variety of fabrics.

While there she picked up an adorable butterfly print, and we got some deep pink fabric for the trim.  I eagerly took my purchases home, washed them immediately, then ironed them all into perfect piles of glorious fabric!

And then it sat.

And sat.

And sat.

For MONTHS. Until finally it dawned on me that the baby was due in a couple of weeks, her hospital bag was already packed and in her car…GASP!…without my birthing gown. She would have to give birth in a boring old hospital gown. Her pictures immediately after the birth would have her in a drab gown worn by who knows how many people before her!  This COULD NOT STAND!

So I got busy and in less than a day (really about 6 hours of pedal to the metal), I had finished the gown.

Let me share some of the pictures.  I wish I had taken more during the gown’s creation, but this will have to do.

First I got the pattern for the hospital gown from here, Thank you Lazy Girl Designs!

Second, I completely changed the pattern around.  I made the front the back, so that her gown will open in the front.  There were two reasons for this. One, she could use the gown as a robe before and after and two, she can breastfeed more easily without having to undo her entire gown.  The pattern is printed out onto like 11 sheets of paper, and then you have to tape them all together.  To make the back, I folded the pattern along the “front” line, and put it on the edge of the fold of my fabric.  To make the fronts, not only did I use the “back left and back right” patterns, but I extended the cutting line out from the neck line, made a nice arch to accommodate a baby bump, and came down to an extended line from the bottom of the gown’s hem line.  As a note, the hemline is high unless, like me, you give it some extra length with a contrasting trim.  I added two inches in trim, and that is a good length.

I sewed the pattern together as the directions dictated, except that instead of Velcro on the shoulders, I actually sewed the shoulders together.  Because she’s going to a birthing center and again, the gown opens in the front, I didn’t think she needed quick access like a normal gown would.

With the shoulders I did French seams, which turned out lovely.  I couldn’t figure out how to do French seams on the sides as well, so I serged the sides, then sewed the seam allowance down to avoid annoying itchy seams (didn’t want any distractions during labor).

Fold Lengthwise and Press


At that point I started on the bias tape.  I lied. I didn’t make bias tape.  There’s a very good reason, though. I lent my mat and rotary cutter to my daughter, and wasn’t about to try to make bias tape without those invaluable tools.  So my “bias” tape is really straight strips of 4” and 3” fabric. So sue me.

That’s when I decided to start taking pictures, too.

Fold over Edges Again and Press




Sewing two strips to make one long strip





Bias tape is pretty simple, really.  You (normally) cut on a 45 degree angle, making strips that run diagonal from the direction the threads run.  This allows the “give” in bias tape that makes it so nice around curves.  Then you iron the strip in half length-wise.  This gives you single fold bias tape.  I wanted the “tri fold” or quilt binding type. So I proceeded to iron down the length in quarters on the two flaps.


Sewing the trim on really made this whole gown come together.  I put some smaller pieces of trim on the inside under one armpit, on the outside under the other arm pit, and then on the flaps of the front of the gown.  It looked good, but I wanted something to gather that extra fabric I cut out for the baby bump over the top of the baby bump, so it would “poof” out just so.  I used about 6” of elastic on both flaps of the robe, pulling and gathering the fabric up perfectly, just between the bottom of her chest and the top of the baby bump.  Perfect!

Finished Gown

I should have taken a picture with her wearing the gown, but she promises there will be lots of pics forthcoming. I’ll add them up here after.


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My friend’s daughter baking with her Hat and Apron

One of the fun little things I like to make is a matching hat and apron set for children, (though I’m making one for a child and an adult right now).  This idea came to me when I was going through some old stuff, and I found my daughter’s old apron. It was from Michaels, a thousand years ago (she’s a Junior in college now!).  I painted on it with puff paints, and it had actually held up pretty well through the years.

I’m the kind of mom that makes the kids help cook, even starting very little.  We had (at the time) a foster child living with us, who loved to help me cook or bake. I’d put on the adult aprons that my daughter and I had made, but of course I had to tie them around him four times and he still managed to trip.  So for his birthday, I decided to make him his own apron.  And just for fun, I was going to throw in a Chef’s hat, cause he would just love that.

The birthday present was a huge success. He loved it, the people on Facebook that saw a picture of it (but not him in it, can’t post pix of him for legal reasons), loved it, and a friend of mine asked me to make one for her daughter. She supplied the fabric.  I found I could get two aprons out of two half-yards, mixing the fabrics up.  This gave me really fun combos of patterns.  And omg can my friend pick out really beautiful fabrics that go so well together!  I could have cut up her whole stash!I had to stop myself at two sets of aprons.

So you’ll see here in the pictures, the “apron/hat set” I’m working on are actually three different sets. Because I’m so disorganized, I failed to take pix of one set all the way through. So I’ve mixed and matched the different photos to show you the complete tutorial. But the premise is the same for all of them, even though one (the flames fabric) is for an adult.




The apron I traced from an existing apron I had.  Then I trimmed it with bias tape. Two packages is adequate for an adult (I use the wider for the adult, and the thinner for the child).  I think I use two packages for the child, too.  I’ll have to come back and edit this after I confirm. I also create a pocket by folding coordinating fabric in half, then trimming to match the edge of the apron. Here is a picture before the neck and waist ties were put on:




The hat is simply a circle and a rectangle, some velcro, and a small bit of bias tape.

I used a 24×7 inch rectangle, and a circle with a circumference of 65″.  That’s a wobbly circle, unfortunately, in the picture you see.  Long strips of velcro are the secret to avoiding sizing…but to to between children and adults, measured my own head, added several inches for overlap, and then used .39 to divide 27 (the distance around my head plus overlap).  I got 72″ circumference.  I then fudged a bit and went with the 24″ diameter circle.  The fluffier the chef’s hat, the better. Right?



You need to fold the circle in half, then notch one corner on the fold.


On the other corner, make a slit about 1/4 of the way towards the notch you just made.  The notch is for matching up center later (where my finger is pointing in the picture. The slit is the opening for overlap for velcro.






You’ll wrap the bias tape over the slit, and sew it down with a line of stitches about 1/4″  in from the edge.  I love the way a contrasting thread color looks (even if my stitches get a bit wobbly), but you might like something that blends in better. It’s all about your taste.




Are you familiar with gathering fabric using long basting stitches? If not, there are probably tutorials out there. Simply set your stitch length to as long as it will go, leave tension the same as it was.  Make two runs around the outside of the circle, staring and stopping on eat side of the slit. The first pass should be at 5/8 seem allowance, the next pass inside this, I usually do “presser  foot distance” inside the line. Here’s a terrible picture with light thread, so sue me.

You can see the thread line on the right side of the fabric, and how it’s already starting to gather.

You might also notice that these instructions are out of order.  You can do it either way, apply binding first or second. Up to you.

Back to your band. I put iron-on interfacing on the wrong side, then fold right sides together, and serge both short ends.  Leave the long end open, and obviously leave the folded end alone.  Turn it right side out, and push out the corners with scissor points, a pencil, whatever you have.

This band is for a different hat…don’t worry.  You aren’t seeing things.






So here I folded the band in half along the long side to find the halfway mark. Then I pinned it to the notch on the circle (right sides together).  The bias-tape covered slit then gets pinned on either end. I let the bias tape hang over, then fold them over after serging. Notice how the gathering is already happening. Once the three pins are in, pull the bobbin threads on one end, gathering the fabric gently and pushing it down the bobbin thread to evenly distribute between the pins.  Do this on the other side as well.  Once  you are happy with the distribution of ruffles, you can pin the circle securely to the band

Then take it to the serger, or stitch it with a 1/2″ seam allowance or more (make sure you cover the basting stitches or you’ll be ripping them out later).


Ok, so here is the nearly finished product. I like to put a row of stitches around the edge of the band so that when it comes out of the wash it stays nice and flat. Also, when you are doing that, catch the circle seam, which helps the hat “stand” up better than it is here in this picture.  I’ll get the real “finished” product pix tonight.





Well, so that’s about it.  What details did I skip? Tons I think.  I’ll have to check my math to explain it better. I did kind of throw out all my calculations and just randomly pick a diameter (mostly cause the cutting board I have has a 12″ radius premeasured).

Once this is done, I’ll get a picture of my friend’s daughter modeling it as well.




Disclaimer: If you want to copy this tutorial, have at it. If you want to sell what you make, have at it.  My idea isn’t original, so I’m not stupid enough to try to claim otherwise. This is just my way of doing it.  Nothing pisses me off more than those who steal ideas and then say “Don’t steal my idea.”  Steal away.

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