Monday, December 11, 2017

2017 Holiday Open Studio

We had a great time at the Holiday Open Studio! We were joined by Trish and Aidan from Miso Handmade who demonstrated how to make strawberry catnip toys. 
Trish (in the adorable Santa dress) showing how to make strawberry toys

Miso Handmade also brought along some adorable toys for kitties & kids to sell. (Stacey's nieces and nephew were particularly pleased to receive cuddly stuffed kittens for Christmas!)

Handmade cuties from Miso Handmade

We also featured the gorgeous, handwoven wares of Wool and Hide and cool enamel-ware jewelry by Caroline Gould.
Handwoven pillows and scarves from Wool and Hide
Enamel necklaces by Caroline Gould

We had the longarm quilting machine all set up for anyone who wanted to give it a try. People are always surprised by how easy it is to use. It can be intimidating looking machine, but once you get started, it can become addictive. The video below shows what the longarm can do when hooked up to the computer, which is also a very addictive thing to watch!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Japanese Triangle Bag Tutorial

Japanese Triangle Bag Tutorial

These little Japanese triangle bags are so simple and fun to make.  They are a great way to wrap a gift and BE a gift all at once.  What could be better and more eco-conscious than that?  What I also love about these bags is that they are infinitely customizable (what sewing project isn't, really).  The exterior of this bag can be embellished before construction with sashiko, fabric stamping, raw edge applique to name a few.  And after construction, they can be adorned with big stitch around the top edge, tassels or even (gasp) pom-poms.  Anyone who knows Hello Stitch knows we are quite smitten with those puffy little fluff balls - they look cute wherever they go!  So - let's get down to the details!

fabric (one for interior and one for exterior - or just one fabric for both) Quilting cotton weight or lighter
sewing machine
rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat
your favorite marking pen/pencil (optional)

Note: 1/2" seam allowances throughout

Step 1:
With your rotary cutter and ruler, cut 2 identical rectangles - one from each fabric.
What size, you ask?  That's the beauty of this project - it can be any size as long as the length is 3 times the width.  Mighty stash buster, this project is... 
Here are examples of dimensions:
14" by 42" (straight off your yardage from the quilt store)
13" by 39"
12" by 36"
11" by 33"
10" by 30"
9" by 27"
7" by 21"
I have not tried anything smaller than 7x21, when you get smaller than that, it gets tricky tying the ends together.  But if you try it and like it, please let us know!  I also recommend using thinner fabric for one of your layers, cotton lawn or voile are great.  That lighter fabric cuts down on the bulk just a bit, in a nice way.  Two layers of quilting cotton will work just fine, though.

*This is the time when you should embellish your exterior piece as you wish.  Keep in mind, heavy stitching (sashiko) can shrink the fabric slightly, so if you plan lots of hand stitching, you might want to cut this rectangle a bit bigger and trim to the correct size after stitching.  The 3:1 length to width ratio is key.

Step 2:
Lay out both your rectangles on a cutting mat horizontally, with the longest side closest to you.  Use the markings on the mat to measure out one third of your rectangle from the right side.  You can either fold here or mark with your pen and then fold.  I find that I can work with the lines on the mat and get a nice straight fold, bu
t do what works for you.  For example: a rectangle that is 30" long will be folded at 10 inches in from the right side.  Fold both exterior and lining rectangles in the same manner - now comes the tricky part and you'll just have to trust me.  It sounds strange but it works.  EXTERIOR: pin the two layers together at the top edge (green fabric in the picture) LINING: pin the two layers together at the bottom edge (floral fabric).  This is super important - if you don't construct the bag this way, the lining and exterior will not line up when it's time to stitch the layers together.  I've learned this the hard way!

Step 3:
Sew the pinned edges with a 1/2" seam allowance, back stitching at both ends of the seam.

Step 4:
After you stitch the seam, pull the loose corner down and away to make room for the next seam. See picture below. Repeat for both EXTERIOR and LINING.

Step 5:
Fold the left third of your original rectangle in.  This would be the same size fold you made in Step 2. (for example, if your original rectangle was 30" long, you will fold the left side in 10")  If you have made this fold correctly, your piece of fabric is now a square.  Do this step for both the exterior and the lining pieces.  Next you will pin.  The EXTERIOR gets pinned at the bottom edge, through 2 layers only (in Step 4 you pulled the excess fabric out of the way to make this possible)  The LINING gets pinned at the top edge, through 2 layers only (in Step 4 you pulled the excess fabric out of the way to make this possible).

**Note above, how the pin is going through two layers only, and you can see at the corner where the earlier section was pulled away.

Step 6:
Sew the EXTERIOR with a 1/2" seam allowance, back stitching at the beginning and end of the seam.  Try not to catch that extra layer in your seam if possible.  My seam ends just shy of the very edge to help with this.  Sew the LINING with a 1/2" seam allowance , leaving a 2" section open (for later turning right side out).  I forgot to leave a small section open and ended up picking some stitches out with my seam ripper (learning the hard way, again).  Don't forget to backstitch.   If you accidentally get a tiny bit of that extra layer in your seam at this step, remember: seam ripper is your friend!  Just snip away any of those stitches - it's okay if your seam doesn't reach the end of that side.

The seam ripper is your friend in this step if you forget to leave that 2" opening.  (see above)

Step 7:
Turn the bag EXTERIOR right side out.  Place the EXTERIOR inside the LINING with right sides together, carefully lining up the edges of the two bag pieces.  I also pin at this step (optional) and put pins at the two upper points, as well as at the two inside corners.  Stitch all the way around this edge with a 1/2" seam allowance.

And the pins... You can see the pin at the inside corner below.

Step 8:
Trim the two points, and snip into the two inside corners (but don't snip the stitching).  Turn the bag right side out through the hole you left in the lining.  Press.

Step 9:
Close up the opening in the lining with either machine or hand stitching.  If this step is very neatly done, the bag may even be reversible.

Step 10:
Edge stitch the top edge all the way around the bag with either machine or big stitch hand quilting. 

You're done!  The bag's handle and closure are made by tying the two ends together.  It's so clever, I wish I'd thought of that.

It looks like lots of steps for a simple little bag, but it goes fast once you get it.  Have fun making lots of triangle bags for gift giving this holiday season!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Exhibition: Maria Shell, Line + Shape

Line + Shape
Maria Shell

November 1 - December 22, 2017

Opening Reception and Book Signing: November 10, 6:00-8:00pm
Workshop: Riffing on Tradition - November 11, 12:00-6:00pm

In conjunction with the release of her book, Improv Patchwork: Dynamic Quilts Made with Line & Shape, Maria Shell's exhibition at the Hello Stitch Gallery displays new works featured in the book. 

Limiting the structure of her work to a grid allows Maria to dive deep into her love of color. In her quest to discover what makes color vibrate, she explores the proportion of line and shape. She believes that all colors are dynamic, fickle, explosive, solemn, mysterious, and beautiful, and her work examines how color is capable of being all these things for the viewer.

Learn more about the artist, Maria Shell.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mariner's Compass Floor Cushion Tutorial

Mariners Compass Floor Cushion Paper Piecing Tutorial
Mariner's Compass Floor Cushion. Photo by Danielle Collins
Awhile back, I made a floor cushion for my friend Kim featuring her first fabric line, Tidal Lace.  Since her fabric is inspired by the sea, I decided that something featuring a Mariner's Compass block would be just the thing! Want to make one as well?  Although I didn't photograph every step of the process, I'll walk you through the basics of foundation paper piecing the compass block and point you in the right direction for good tutorials for the rest of the cushion.  I won't lie, it's not the easiest thing in the world to whip up, but you can do it!

To make a 24" square floor cushion of your own, you will need:



Rotary cutter
Cutting mat
Rotary Cutting Ruler
Sewing Machine with zipper foot and walking foot and hoping foot
Basic sewing supplies like scissors, thread, pins, etc.
Thread to match cushion
Printer & plain white printing paper
Tape Washable glue stick  Freezer paper Spray Baste 505 Blue painters tape Pencil  Exacto knife


Download and print the PDF file for the Mariner's Compass block.  Make sure that the PDF is not scaled to fit the page or resized when you print it. You will need to tape the pages together to form the completed block, as seen in the picture below.
If possible, avoid taping over the dark outer lines of each shape.  You'll need to stitch through and rip out the paper along these lines later, so the less tape on those parts the better!
Cut your pattern apart, keeping each similarly lettered section uncut as in the photo below.


  • Fussy cut four 8" x 25" strips of the large border print that runs along the bottom of the Tidal Lace Coral fabric featuring the large, lacy tide-pool creatures for the sides of the cushion
  • 25" x 25" square of Tidal Lace Coral for the bottom of the cushion
  • 4.25" strip of Tidal Lace Coral, (using what is left over from your fussy cutting for the rest of the cushion *
  • 4" strip of Shimmer Aqua (along the selvedge edge as it's a directional print)*
  • 5-1/2" x 42" strip of Starlight Seafoam*
  •  4" x 42" strip of  Tide Pool Seafoam*
  • 5" x 42" strip of Tidal Lace Deep Sea solid blue
Cut the following in both batting and muslin:
  • 2 pcs. 26" x 26"
  • 4 pcs. 9" x 26"
    *I usually use each strip until I run out of it and then cut another, instead of cutting all the strips I will need for a project at once.  That way, if I've made a cutting or measuring mistake, it's not such a big deal!  Starting with the wedge labeled A1 - A4 complete the following steps:
    • With the printed side of the paper facing away from you, place a little dot of glue in the middle of the triangle marked "A1" with the glue stick.  Position the Shimmer Aqua fabric on the A1 triangle, sticking the wrong side of the fabric to the paper and making sure that the edges of the fabric are at least 1/4" over the black line outlining the A1 triangle (PHOTO A/B).  Hint: That line will be your sewing line, so you want to make sure you have enough fabric outside of it to get a 1/4" seam!
    • From the paper side, fold the A2 flap along the black line (PHOTO C).  I use a postcard to help me get a crisp edge when I fold the paper over (PHOTO D).
    • With the paper side up, re-fold the paper over along on of the black lines (PHOTO E).  Using a rotary cutting ruler, measure and cut 1/4" on the outside of folded paper edge (PHOTO F).
    • Do the same with the other side to create a triangular shape (PHOTO G).
    • With fabric right sides together, lay the strip of Starlight Seafoam over your triangle, lining up the cut edges (PHOTO H). Make sure that your Seafoam fabric strip overlaps the edges of the paper at least 1/2". Pin together.
    • Paper side up, sew directly along the solid black line. The fabric you've pinned becomes sewn together with a 1/4" seam allowance (PHOTO I).  Hint: set your sewing machine stitch a little smaller than usual, this will help you later when you rip out the paper.  Also, don't forget to pull your pins out before you sew over them!
    • Fabric side up, press your seam and then trim your fabric along the outside straight edge of the paper, making sure to cut 1/4" outside of the paper edge (PHOTO J).
    • Repeat with section A3 (PHOTO K).
    • Using scissors, cut along the curved solid line between A1 and A4 (PHOTO L). Set A4 aside.
    • Using your ruler as a guide, mark a 1/4" seam allowance on the curved outer edge of your paper.(PHOTO M/N).
    • Cut along the marking (PHOTO O).
    • Use this same process to cut along the bottom curved edge of A1 (PHOTO P).  (Remember that you always have to add the 1/4" seam allowance beyond the paper edge!)
    • Cut a 4" square from your strip of Tide Pool Seafoam fabric. Put a dot from the glue stick on the back of paper piece A4.  Stick paper to the wrong side of your 4" square.
    • Using the same method as show in photo M, mark a 1/4" seam allowance along the curved top edge of the fabric above A4.  Cut along the marked line.
    • Using your ruler, cut 1/2" from the outside straight edges of A4. (YES!  1/2" on these seams, not the usual 1/4".  Trust me on this one!) PHOTO R.
    • Fold A4 in half and crease.  Do the same for A1.  Right sides together, match A4 to A1, using the creased center (PHOTO S).  Pin together along the cut edges (PHOTO T). 
    • You can remove the A4 piece of paper if that makes things easier (it will) and sew with a 1/4" seam allowance (PHOTO U).
    • Using a hot iron, press the seam open with the paper side against the ironing board (PHOTO V).
    • Using your paper with A2 and A3 as a guide, trim the outside edges so that you have a 1/4" seam allowance all the way down the triangle (PHOTO W).
    • You now have a completed wedge! (PHOTO X)
    • Complete the above steps for sections B through H.
    Put a spot of glue on the back of paper piece I1 and center it on the strip of Tide Lace Coral.  Cut out the shape, adding 1/4" seam allowance all around.
    With right sides together, sew I1 to Section A and then to Section B.
    Complete with the remaining sections to create 4 large wedge sections that look like the photo above.
    Put a spot of glue on the back of paper piece M1 and center on the Deep Sea solid blue.  Cut out the shape, again adding the 1/4" seam allowance.
    With right sides together, sew to Wedge A/B.
    Repeat with the remaining 3 wedges.
    Complete the circle by sewing all of your sections together.


    Put a little glue on the back of paper piece Q1 and position it on the wrong side of your Tide Pool Ocean fabric, making sure to leave at least 1/2" extra fabric all the way around the outside of the paper. Mark your 1/4" seam allowance on the curved edge and cut. Add 1/4" seam allowance to the short sides of the template and cut. Add 1/2" seam allowance to the long outside edges of the template and cut. Repeat with the remaining three Q sections.
    • Fold one of your Q templates in half and mark with a pin along the curved edge. Then fold each half section in half again in order to mark each quarter section with a pin.
    • Using 1/4" seam allowance, sew the short edges of the Q fabric pieces together and press open.
    • Note that on your Mariner's Compass circle, each section is already divided into quarters with the "compass" points.
    • Starting with the upper left quadrant and with fabric right sides together match the curved inside edge of the Q template with the curved outside edge of the wedge, using the pins to help you align.  Pin the two together and repeat with the remaining 3 Q pieces.
    • Continuing with a 1/4" seam allowance, sew the Tide Pool Ocean fabric to the compass circle.
    • Press.


    Cut out a 7" square of freezer paper. Glue the R1 circle template to the top of the freezer paper. Cut around the template.  Keep the circle as perfect looking as possible! Using the tutorial here, create a circle with your Tide Pool Ocean fabric. Once you've removed the freezer paper, fold the circle into quarters and finger press to crease. Use the creases to help align the circle on your compass block. Pin in place.
    Stitch the circle to the compass by using a matching blue thread and straight stitching all the way around the circle right inside the folded edge. Gently remove all the remaining paper inside of your block, give it a press, and your block is complete!
    Completed Mariner's Compass block


    With the blue painter's tape, tape a square of muslin to a flat surface so that it is taught but not stretched. Mask the area outside of the square with some scrap paper, such as newspaper to avoid over-spray.  Using the Spray Baste 505, lightly spray the muslin.  Smooth a layer of the batting on top of the muslin and lightly spray the batting.  Place your Mariner's Compass block, right side up on top of the batting and smooth the quilt "sandwich" together, making sure there are no wrinkles.  Repeat this process with the Tidal Lace Coral 25" bottom square and each of the 4 Tidal Lace Coral long rectangular sides. Quilt the sections together using a walking foot for straight line quilting or a hoping foot for free motion quilting. For the Mariner's Compass block, I stitched in the ditch along all of my sewing lines to accentuate the pattern.  For the bottom square, I quilted in a simple diamond pattern.  On the rectangles, I free motion stitched following the drawn lines of the tide-pool creatures. Once the sections are each quilted, cut off the excess batting and backing fabrics, using a rotary cutter and ruler.  You should be left with two 25" squares and cut the rectangles so that you have four 8" x 25" pieces. 


    **IMPORTANT NOTE*** Now that we're moving on to sewing up the cushion, we will be using a 1/2" seam allowance!! You can find a great tutorial for making your piping (or welting) here using 2" bias strips. You need about 100" of piping for the top of the cushion and 100" for the bottom. (You will have excess, but it's better to work with more and cut it down than to have too little!)  Using the process outlined in the tutorial, baste the piping to the Mariner's Compass block and to your bottom square.  And don't worry, although they have a piping foot on their sewing machine, a zipper foot will work just fine. The next step is adding the zipper.  I chose to add an invisible zipper that is hidden under the piping.  It works so well that I forget that the cushion even has a zipper!  You can find a great video tutorial for that step here.  I added my zipper along the bottom edge of the cushion.  Make sure to leave a 1/2" unsewn space at the beginning and end of the cushion edge.* (See note below for explanation.) Once you've added the zipper, it's time to put all the pieces all together!
    • Make sure your zipper is open at least half way.  You will already have one rectangle attached to the bottom square where you've attached the zipper.
    • With right sides together (and remember to use 1/2" seam allowance!), pin and sew the remaining three rectangles to the bottom square, starting and stopping 1/2" in from the corners. Back tack every time you start or stop, for stability, but make sure that you don't go into the 1/2" zone at the beginning and end of each straight line of stitching.
    • Repeat with the top compass square so that you have an inside out box cushion with slits in the corner sides where the short ends of the rectangles meet.
    • Sew together the short ends of the rectangles. Remember to back tack at the beginning and end of your stitching.
    • Turn your cushion right side out and stuff with poly fill or have a piece of foam custom cut for it.  I have a lot of scrap pieces of batting, so I used those to stuff my cushion!
    Whew!  You did it! That was a lot of work, but look how cool your cushion is!

    Monday, May 1, 2017

    How To Assemble a PDF Pattern

    So, you just purchased a PDF pattern for a garment and you are excited to get right to it. do you put it all together? Here is a quick run-down of what you need, plus some helpful tips. With a little bit of patience you'll be back at the sewing machine in no time!

    • standard printer paper
    • printer
    • ruler
    • paper scissors 
    • tape
    Step 1:
    Follow the printing instructions from the pattern company. TIP: Many patterns have up to 20 pages or more. Print one test page first by finding the "test square" and only printing that page. That way, if your printer settings are not set properly, you'll only have to throw away the test page, not the whole kit and caboodle. Typically, the "test square" is found on the first page of the pattern pieces.

    Take your ruler and measure the test square. The square should measure out exactly as the pattern indicates. If it does, go ahead and print out the remaining pattern pages.

    As you can see above, the pattern indicates that the square is 1 inch, and indeed it is according to the ruler. TIP: If the square does not measure up, the usual culprit is a small check-box in your printer settings that says "Fit to Page". Be sure this box is NOT checked. Note -- every pattern I've printed so far is printed out in order by rows, be sure to keep your printed pages in the order they were printed as best you can. It will save you the headache of sifting through them for the next step.

    Step 2:
    Line up the pages. In the picture below, you can see letter A from one page lines up to letter A from it's neighboring page. Sometimes these reference points line up exactly, but I have seen patterns where they do not. TIP: It is most important for you to create a smooth and continuous pattern line than for you to get those reference points together.

    In the picture above, you may also notice that the pattern lines do not extend to the edge of the paper. This is done by design, and requires you to do some trimming.

    Step 3:
    Trim one side of the pattern pieces you are trying to align. Be sure to trim all the way up to the line but don't cut off any of the lines.

    Step 4:
    Once you are satisfied that the pieces are trimmed and aligned, tape it! Continue in this manner as you add to the pattern: trim, align and tape. Once you have completed a full row, the pieces for the next row will have a neighbor above and a neighbor to the side, that means you will need to trim two sides as you work your way across matching the cutting lines. See the completed pattern below:

    Because the pattern pieces are now made from computer paper and tape, they can be quite stiff and at best, tricky to work with. TIP: Trace your pattern size onto tracing paper or pattern paper and keep this taped one as your un-altered original for future use or reference.

    Congratulations, you just completed the assembly of your PDF pattern!