All posts by annwood

sewing tutorial : long pincushion and raw edge patchwork

11 inch long thin pin cushion with patches

11 inch long thin pin cushion with patches

September is National Sewing Month! I didn’t even make that up – it’s completely real. Thanks Ronald Reagan.

Let’s make a long pin cushion. Or a couple. It’s a perfect way to celebrate National Sewing Month and I’ve been meaning to make one for ages. Just right for the front of the sewing machine and great as a pattern weight, it’s stuffed with crushed walnut shells. I love them. You can find them in big bags at most pet supply stores (not a good idea if you have a nut allergy though). You could use wool stuffing (packed really firmly) as an alternative.

This is also a great project to experiment with raw edge patchwork. I love it when I see it but I have a had a hard time getting myself to do it. Not neatly folding those edges under feels like breaking a rule but I’ve been messing around with it lately on some jeans and a super old and worn quilt and liking the results.

Back to the pincushion

I took a meandering approach to adding my patchwork, a pleasant afternoon on the couch with piles of scraps adding little bits of fabric. The lack of planning invites all sorts of happy accidents. This is a great project to do with friends and a low pressure project for a beginner.

scraps sorted in piles by color on a coffee table with scissors and thread

For the pincushion you will need:

  • 6 X 11.5 inch piece of tightly woven fabric
  • scraps for patches
  • basic sewing kit
  • embroidery thread
  • filling – crushed walnut shells are ideal
  • small funnel

1.  Gather some scraps for patches. I sorted mine into piles for two pincushions – the one in warm pinks at the top of this post and another in berry-ish and indigo shades that I’m demonstrating with.

2. Cut and pin on a couple scraps and start sewing. You can stitch around or through or whatever you like. I’m using embroidery thread and a little sashiko thread.

3. Notice I kept most of the interest toward the middle of my base fabric, the seam will be on the bottom so this will be the most visible part. And in a bold move I used some bright red thread. I love the contrast with the cool colors.

4. When you’re done patching fold it in half, right sides together, carefully matching the edges. Sew the long side seam with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

5. Press the tube with the seam in the middle. Press the seam open.

6. Sew one end closed – also 1/4 inch seam allowance.

7. Turn the tube right side out – a chopstick or similar helps for pushing out the corners.

8. Put a box or bowl or dish under you to catch spills.  Insert the funnel and add the crushed walnut shells a little at a time.  Tap the bottom and push the shells down to completely and firmly fill the tube.

9.  Fill the tube to about one inch from the top. Optional – a little wool or cotton on top helps the fill not spill while your closing the tube.

10. Fold in the edges and stitch closed.

I love it.  It’s an awesome pin cushion and an excellent weapon if things get weird. I hope you make one!

 

long pin cushion on tool chest with antique sewing machine

P S- In honor of national sewing month, my first sewing memory : standing next to my mother as she sewed this little draw string bag for me, made from grandma moses barkcloth, on the machine above. I must have been about 4.

What’s your first sewing memory? Did you start young?  Happy National Sewing month!

happy cats : a free sewing pattern

small stuffed cats in two sizes - sewing diy

Happy cats to sew, in two sizes! Cause I’m nice like that. They’re quick and easy and there’s tons of room to experiment – add some applique and embroidery to make it resemble somebody you know and love. You can sew by hand or machine. I’ve made a bunch so far and I’m not ready to stop, there is something satisfying about this growing crowd of cat friends.

small stuffed cats in two sizes - sewing diy

They are straight out of my daily paintings, the funny little cats who wander around the cobblestone streets and forests. This is a great beginner project and there are a couple tips mixed in the instructions. Let’s make happy cats!

download the patterns

You will also need:

  • cotton fabric
  • a basic sewing kit
  • chopstick or similar
  • stuffing – i like wool
  • buttons
  • embroidery thread for the features

patterns and supplies for sewing happy cats

1.  Download and cut out the templates. There is a small and large, you could make a whole cat family. I’ll be demonstrating on the large. Cut out your template and pin it on a double layer of fabric – right sides together. Cut out.

2. Separate the two fabric pieces and mark your seam line. I measure the quarter inch and make little dots around the pattern – every couple inches – as a guide and mark in pencil. Pro tip: place a sheet of fine sandpaper under the fabric piece and it won’t slide around so much. I always recommend marking the seam line and it is essential in this pattern for getting the legs just right. Also mark the area to leave open.

3.  Make guide dots for the face.  Decide which direction you want your cat to face while looking at the right side (printed side) of the fabric. Mark the dots. Push the pencil through the paper as shown and mark for guides or alternatively you could trace the whole face onto the fabric.

back to the happy cats in just a moment:

It has been a priority here for years to create high quality and fun free patterns (there are tons) like the happy cats on an ad free site. There are not very many of those left and it is becoming increasingly difficult. In an effort to keep the free awesomeness flowing I’ve created an opportunity for you to support and show some love to my free pattern library.

support the ann wood handmade free pattern library with a happy donation 

Support free patterns like happy cats with a happy donation. 

Click here to add your support.

 

Back to the happy cats:

sewing the seam

4. Pin the fabric pieces back together – right sides of the fabric together.  Use lots of pins.  Sew around the seam line. You can hand or machine sew. I’m sewing on the machine. Leave open as indicated for turning and stuffing.

5. Before turning the cat right side out clip little notches around the curve of each foot as shown on the front foot above and the tip of the tail. Clip off the points of the ears near the seam and remove a little of the seam allowance. Clip a notch into each of the corners where the legs meet the body, Clip notches into the curve  where the tail and back meet and at the neck.

6. Turn the cat right side out. Use a chopstick to gently push out the legs, ears and tail. Slow firm pressure and twisting a little help. Stretch and massage the curved seams a little with your fingers to smooth them.

7. Stuff -I’m using this wool stuffing.  Add a little at a time and be careful not to block the legs and tail with clumps of stuffing until you’ve filled the toes etc.

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the new place : project 1

In the new place (upstairs from the old place) there is a little room in the back with big windows, and a view of sweeping, weeping pines that crows and ravens roost in. Guilford Connecticut has a crazy amount of crows. Also my little garden is right below. It’s the first thing I look at every morning.
The first project after getting basic order shipping capabilities set up was to make that room delightful. It had been laundry/storage. There was indoor outdoor stained carpeting, dingy paint, wire shelves and great potential for charm. You can check out a before below- almost a before – I had already torn the carpet out.

Under the carpet was just a plywood subfloor. I painted a super simple gray and white check. The paint job is light for a worn in feel. Plus that was quick and easy to do and I like the softness of it. The walls are painted bright white (Benjamin Moore Snowfall White). And the curtain fabric is from India via Etsy.

The laundry closet is covered with a textile gift from a friend, a Peruvian (I think) poncho. I stitched the neck opening closed and added inexpensive rings. It is magically exactly the right size with no further alterations.

It’s a place I love to be. The light and breeze are excellent. There is room for a cardboard castle and all the other essential things. This place is for painting and sketching and some photography.

One of the many reasons for making a painting everyday is the wealth of ideas they generate. Most recently the funny little cats that wander through the many little towns in those paintings became a sewing pattern . You can find the free happy cat pattern right here.

Project 2 is the sewing room. Stay tuned for more on that. It is also currently full of potential to be delightful.

onward,

ann

make a miniature camping scene with this doll tent diy

The spot was chosen long ago. A cool and sheltered little rise in the foothills of the mountain, far above her home in the Green Valley. Generations before her have come here each year in summer to  gather berries and mushrooms and herbs.

miniature tent, campsite and doll with miniature dishes and a paper chicken

The camp is neat and cozy. She has a stove and a camp fire for warmth.  A favorite hen comes along for companionship. The days are long and the work is hard, joyful and satisfying.

miniature tent, campsite and doll in forest

Tiny Rag Doll patterns and kits are on sale until 8/1!

tent with ministure wood stove, teacup, stool, quilts and a pillow

She sleeps soundly in a big pile of quilts. The chicken does too. Her day starts at dawn with strong tea in her favorite cup and saucer.

The pattern and instructions for the tent are below. You might also be interested in tutorials for the stove, dishes, quilts and chicken  – find them all here.

You know who else loves to camp? Mr. Socks.

While he is a mostly “under the stars” kind of guy in certain situations he enjoys the comforts of a tent.

cat doll with mini tent and campfire

Let’s make the tent

It’s reversible and everything!  The size is perfect for the tiny rag doll or mr. socks and super duper easy and quick to make – you’ll be miniature glamping in about an hour.

download the tent pattern sheets

You also will need:

  • A basic sewing kit
  • 2 pieces of fabric – 16 X16 inches each
  • tape
  • embroidery thread or light string
  • optional – little scraps for patches
  • optional – laundry starch

materials and pattern sheets for doll tent

1.  Download and print the templates – there are two sheets.

2. Cut out the templates and tape them together to create one pattern piece. Fold one of your fabric pieces and place the pattern on the fabric with the top edge on the fold as shown. Cut out.

3. Unfold the fabric and place it – right sides together – on the other piece of fabric.

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make a travel sewing kit, mending big blow outs and a hexie punch

small cloth book with patches

It’s just the right size for a pocket. I made it for a friend who travels, a little book for essentials – like safety pins and bandaids, an emergency tea bag, that sort of thing. There is also a mini sewing kit built in and lots of good wishes for safe and happy travels. I’m sure it is lucky.

cloth book with pockets and pre-threaded sewing needles

carved twig toggle button on fabric book

The little toggle is carved from a twig. I made a notch in the center to grab the thread and stitched it to the edge. The loop is thin black twill tape. The book is made from the needle book sewing pattern using just the the page B and C templates.  The center page has one big pocket and I double sewed the seams so it won’t tear if it get’s over stuffed.

small cloth book with center pocket patch

let’s talk about mending

Not little tears and holes- the major catastrophes like this whole seat blow out. This requires some stabilizing before the sweet patch stuff.

1. Starting with the garment inside out and the tear laid flat and smooth pin a piece of light weight fabric over it. Baste that fabric in place.  Put a magazine or piece of cardboard inside so you don’t  accidentally stitch  the leg or sleeve etc. closed.

2. With the garment right side out use small even stitches all around the the edge of the tear.

trimming excess stabilizing fabric

3. Turn it inside out and trim away the extra.  I didn’t remove the basting stitches because they will mostly get covered but you can if that’s how you roll. Turn right side out and start patching. Having the area stable will save you tons of time in the long run and helps create a smooth, soft and very wearable repair.

patching over a tear in corduroy shorts

I’m still working on these shorts, check out my instagram stories this weekend (@annwood)  for more mending and other recreational sewing including hexies.

 speaking of hexies

*affiliate links below – meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the links.

die cutter for making hexie papers and a one inch hexie quilt in progress

Did you know this was a thing? I had no idea such a magical device existed until I saw someone using one. I’ve had it for a couple weeks and I love it. Magazine covers are the perfect weight for the punch, it is not effective on anything heavier. Plus I like magazine covers for hexie papers – they hold up well to re-use.  You can find the *one inch hexie paper punch here.

And I use *this mini hole punch. The holes are not essential but they do make it easier to pull the paper out and re-use it.

small painting of a loon with babies

shop note:

Lots of new daily paintings will  be available tomorrow – 6/24 noon-ish -Connecticut time. This loon with babies is one of my all time favorites.


get the free pin girl sewing pattern here

I’m in full summer mode, I love the expanse of swimming, garden, yard sales and sewing outside that is currently before me. I’m also in full packing mode. Again.  Moving in a few weeks. Let’s think of it as another opportunity to get super organized…

die cutter for making hexie papers and a one inch hexie quilt in progress

Have you tried a hexie punch? Do you have summer mending projects or mending tips to share?  Are you reading something awesome?  Let us know in the comments.

what’s on my worktable : rag doll wardrobe patterns and hexies

hexie quilt progress on my worktable

hexie quilt progress on my worktable

A late spring update on all the things.

Let’s start with hexies : while not at all consistent, I am quite slow. The consistent part is easy to fix : commit to making one every morning, which most often leads to more, you know, once you get going on something like this…

hexie quilt with color transitions in progress

I’m starting to have a vision for the color shifts plus I’ve decided to square off the edges, meaning my progress shape has been an irregular amoeba but I’m shifting into working in straight lines.

And sewing pattern work – a wardrobe for the elegant rag doll is in progress.

Patterns take forever to make. We’d be in real trouble if I didn’t enjoy the process.
The centerpiece of the doll wardrobe will be a versatile dress, a pattern you can add or subtract details from and make a short and long sleeved version – you get the idea.

doll dresses in progress

The construction needs to be simple, easy to make, and I want an option for a fitted look. This is accomplished with pleats and gathers in strategic places. I would totally wear this.

There is another summery tea dress too but this pattern is further along. It’s in the woodshedding stage, I am making tons of them to work out details and make adjustments. After the early muslin drafts I converted the hand drawn patterns to an illustrator file and start tightening things up. I’m pretty close to a final version and as I’m sewing little dresses the pattern starts to write itself, I’m hard in the zone and hear the directions in my head whether I want to or not.

doll dress making on my worktable

Besides the other tea dress I’m thinking of a satchel, slip and pinafore. Maybe some bloomers. She’ll need a coat too  and I’m pretty sure I can make a version of the free felt jacket in her size.

small garden with cedar chest container

A couple other projects on my mind – mending and garden beginnings.

I love everything about  having a tiny garden. Except bugs. The container is a re-purposed cedar chest I got for almost zero dollars last fall. I never really loved it and it was in sever disrepair so I took off the top and planted stuff in it. I suspect it will fall apart by the end of the season but it looks cute now.

What are you up to? Are you making hexies? Are you growing stuff?What would you like to see in the elegant wardrobe?

miniature wood stove diy : new miss thistle society project

doll house doll and stove

Make a miniature wood burning stove for your tiny rag doll. You’ve probably already got everything you need and it’s pretty quick (and super fun) to make.  The stove is made from a TP tube and paper egg carton. 

 

The little stove is intended for the bedroom of the cardboard cottage I’m making for the tiny rag doll.

What’s more luxurious than a sweet wood burning stove in your bed room? I can think of nothing.

get the tiny rag doll pattern here

 

Before we dive into the construction steps lets talk a little about finishing. Let the glue dry completely before painting or you will be sad…  And speaking of glue, I do prefer wood glue for this, it sets up fast.

find more miss thistle society  projects here

Use a paint that has a pretty flat finish – lots of craft paints do. I added little bits of lace to mimic the ornate details of antique wood stoves – you could go bananas with this idea and add all sorts of decorations. During the lengthy research and development phase of this project I looked at tons of antique wood stoves, there are lots of fascinating shapes and details you could play with.

Apply 2 or three coats rather than a single heavy coat and let them dry in between coats. Use a stiff brush and work the paint into the lace details. For even more detail you can rub a graphite stick over the textures and edges to highlight them. I also like to draw details and decorations with a pencil.

Tools and Materials:

  • paper egg carton
  • corrugated cardboard
  • 1 TP roll tube
  • toothpick
  • masking tape
  • small lace trim
  • wood glue (you can use white glue but I prefer wood glue)
  • scissors
  • manicure scissors are helpful
  • black paint

1. Gather your materials for building the shape – corrugated cardboard, one TP roll and an egg carton.

2. Measure 1 and 3/4 inches from one end of the TP roll and mark a line.  Cut as shown- make a straight cut from the longer side to the line and then around the line.

3.  Cut the roll in half – marked in red.

4.  The 1 and 3/4 inch tube will be the center of the stove and the remaining pieces will become the pipe.

5. Pull off a couple pieces of masking tape so they are handy. Roll the two piece into tubes about 1/2 inch in diameter.

6. Glue the edge down and secure with masking tape

7.  Cut 2 – 2 inch squares of corrugated cardboard.

8. Apply wood glue to one end of the tube.

9. Glue the tube to one of the cardboard squares. Squeeze the tube a little to make it as round as possible if necessary and press down.

10. Wipe away the excess glue with your finger.

11. Repeat for the other end of the tube.

12. Put something for weight on the glued cardboard and tube. Cut out 2 of the egg carton sections.

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imperial cats : experimenting with dolls

Somebody new turned up. Here’s how it happened:

The experimenter in me has been needing some encouragement so I planned a solid chunk of time for messing around last week. I started by looking at Pre Columbian Figures for inspiration (this is something I’ve played with before) then made a bunch of super quick charcoal sketches.

From the drawings I chose a couple shapes to use as templates. An important part of this process for me is to be quick and not linger in decisions or get stuck on overthinking. It’s a yes and process, feeling for ideas and happy accidents, not perfection. Trying stuff.

I know it’s hard to let go of out come, especially when you are sewing, so much time and energy, but what you learn in the process is valuable. One thing really does lead to another, if you let it. I did not love everything I made last last week but it did get my wheels turning.

And the experiment is ongoing (I’m still very much in the middle) and lots of fun. If you feel like trying this you can come up with your own shapes to play with or you can use my templates (I’m nice like that). I’ve got two so far. You can download the cat-ish figure here and the bird-ish shape here.

I find this guy hilarious. He ended up feeling a little bit like a ming dynasty emperor or soldier. (I love ming dynasty imperial portraits – the silhouettes, the details…). There are other shapes to explore in the charcoal sketches I started with, more sparks of ideas and curiosities to investigate but I feel like making a bunch of these right now, a little army. That’s what I’m doing today on this rainy Sunday.

What are you sewing today? How do you experiment? What get’s your wheels turning? Let us know in the comments.

 

the somewhat weekly newsletter

Do you get my free weekly-ish newsletter? There are tips and tricks, ideas, stuff to try, all the latest news and blogposts and extra stuff, just for subscribers, delivered mostly on Friday. Pretty much.


the crow sewing pattern

get the pattern

He’s about 9 inches tall and 11 inches from top of head to tip of tail. The pattern has everything you need to make an awesome crow: learn to sew the sculptural shape of his body, carve a beak from a twig, make wire talons and create shimmery layer of feathers.

crow made from black textiles

I used calico for the example crow in the pattern. I like the combination of a sweet traditional print with more realistic details,  sort of celebrating the make believe. The other fabrics, for his feathers, are scraps of garments in different shades of black.

The sheen also varies. Incorporating fabrics that are flat and shiny and satin in the feathers emphasizes the layers. It makes a huge difference and gives crow -ish iridescence and depth.
Thrifted and antique garments are a great source of material for crows. I’ve always loved using really old garments for details. Pleats are particularly useful – you can incorporate them into the feathers for extra interest and dimension. And antique clothes often have mends and other stitch details that add character. The downside of very old garments is they are often fragile but fragile works for feathers since they aren’t part of the structural sewing.

Perhaps my most frequently asked question over the years has been “where do you find antique clothes to work with.” One of my best sources for Edwardian and Victorian clothes is Ebay. In the pattern I share a specific link (resources page) that’s helpful. I look for damaged garments – perfect for cutting up and not too expensive. And I check often – finding great stuff requires persistence.

In the not super old department thrifted suits are great – there’s tons of fabric and the weight and colors are good. Pin stripes would be awesome for a crow.

I took him down to the Henry Whitfield Stone House Museum for his beauty shots. It was the perfect environment.

get the pattern

I hope you make crows!! If you do you can share images on instagram  – please use :  #annwoodpattern or email photos to me at info at ann wood handmade dot com

5 spring project ideas to try

projects - apron, sachets, cleaning cloths herb marker rocks

projects - apron, sachets, cleaning cloths herb marker rocks

Besides being customarily fired up by spring I’m getting ready to move again this summer. It’s a tiny move – upstairs in the same building but still – all the packing of all the things… Again. On the up side it’s going to be the sunniest and biggest place I’ve ever lived in and I’m pretty excited about that. My plants are too. And I get to keep the tiny garden.

Last year was my rookie garden year. I got a late start (after moving in mid June) and weeks in a hurricane dropped a huge tree on it. Many lessons were learned though and I’m excited about getting the full season this year. I find growing anything super exciting. Both of these little projects are in my plans:

1. Herb markersa super sweet and simple idea from the always inspring august wren.

2. Make a harvest/ foraging apronfind a diy here and another here. I have to make it. It’s illegal to have a garden in Connecticut without one.

And of course new, upstairs me will be extremely tidy and perfectly organized at all times. I’ve got a couple projects planned in the cleaning and organizing department that involve using stuff I already have:

3. Cleaning cloths – I’m using a towel I’ve been hauling around for decades and an old sweatshirt combined with cotton and linen scraps. Find a sewing tutorial here.

4. I love this scrap rug idea but I’m not feeling rug size ambition about it. I feel more trivet size ambition about it. It would also make an awesome bag. Again though I think I’ll test drive it at a trivet or place mat size. Find the diy here.

5. You know I love a good smell. These sachets are simple and easy and I love the aesthetic choices made here. The free chicken sewing pattern would also make a great sachet. I’m going to grow some lemon verbena and dry it for filling them. Lemon verbena sachets will be great in upstairs me’s perfectly organized closet.

PS – bonus idea :
I don’t know why this reusable coffee filter idea has never occurred to me before, especially in coffee filter emergencies. So easy.

What spring ideas and projects are you fired up about? Have you got a favorite spring soup?

Let us know  in the comments please.

 

           

15 years of blogging

How did 15 years happen?

I gave myself a project on 2006. And it got me moving. So many ideas that had been rolling around in my head started to appear on my work table. It felt like I swallowed a magic productivity pill but it wasn’t magic, one thing really does lead to another, if you let it.

ann wood sketchbook : perfection

The biggest lesson learned in the past 15 years for me is that done really is better than perfect. Done gets you to feedback, done gets you to the next thing and the next thing etc.. My favorite posts are all about tricking myself into doing things, fighting with the voice that says not to try. To celebrate 15 years I’ve gathered some favorites.

when it all goes wrong :  fling your soul upon the gloom

when you’re searching for ideas : 30 minute figures

when you’re really, really stuck : harnessing the power of your curiosity to get unstuck

when you just can’t get started : overcoming obstacles

dealing with distraction :  building the focus muscle


What keeps you moving? How do you get unstuck? 

Tell us in the comments and as always thanks for showing up!

ann