Category: how to

make scrappy trees from recreational patchwork

These little tree ornaments (or garland) are a quick and easy  project perfect for scraps and a great excuse for indulging in some recreational patchwork: sewing lots of random fabric scraps together (on the sewing machine) without thinking about it too much, inviting happy accidents.

The trees have batting inside and are finished with quilting stitches. As many or as few as you like.  I used muslin for the back, I like that they feel like tiny quilts.

To make the patchwork start with a big variety of light weight cotton and join pieces together. Press the seams open, trim the edge and sew more together etc. etc. 

When a bunch are joined you can cut it into smaller sections and join those together. You get the idea.  It could go on forever – joining, cutting and joining again. I love doing it and it also get’s me moving if I’m feeling stuck or  keeps my hands busy while an idea is percolating.

how to make the trees

download the tree template

You will also need:

  • embroidery thread
  • a large sharp embroidery needle
  • cotton batting
  • optional – muslin for the back
  • chopstick for turning
  • basic sewing supplies

1. place the tree template on your patchwork and cut out with about a 1/4 inch seam allowance

2. Place your tree back fabric (I’m using plain muslin) over thin cotton batting. If your back fabric has a wrong and right side you want the right side facing up.

3. Place the cut tree over the back fabric with the right side facing down.

4. Pin the pattern back on and cut out.

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back to the trees:

5. Sew around the edge of the pattern leaving one side partially open. The opening should be about 1 and 1/2 inch.

6. Trim off the points close to the seams being careful not to clip the seam. Clip little triangles out in the corners of the trunk and clip away any excess seam allowance.

7. Turn your tree right side out through the opening.

8. Use the larger end of the chopstick to push out the general shape and the sharper ends to push the points all the way out.

9. Fold in the opening edges and press the tree. Don’t sew it shut yet – leaving it open is handy for hiding the ends of your threads if you’re quilting it. Add some quilting stitches. I made the executive decision  not to care what the stitches on the back of the tree look like – wabi-sabi style. If you do care just turn the tree over with each stitch to make sure you’re bringing the needle out where you want it.

10.   When you’re done quilting bring the thread out at the tip to create a hanging string and finally whip stitch the side closed.

These are super quick – I made a bunch in just a couple hours and they go fastest in batches. They’re sweet to hang on a tree or anywhere and  a nice extra on a package.

I hope you make scrappy trees! You can use #annwoodpattern on instagram to share or join the community!

crow sew-along week 2 : top secret trick for wing texture

stitched crow wings with black feathery ruffles at the top

Welcome to week 2 of the crow-along!

Your goal for this week is to make your wings and tail. That’s steps 33 – 54 in the pattern. Please read through those steps before you start, it helps a lot to see where you are headed before you begin.

week 1 of the sew-along is here

stitched crow wings with black feathery ruffles at the top

The wings and tail are easy and quick and I’ve got a couple tips to make them even more crowy.

Tip #1 – Stripes are your friend.

Stripes give your feathers a little extra bang for the buck. With 2 layers of fabric, right sides together, place the feather pattern piece on the  diagonal and cut, super simple. A variety of scale is nice too.

The pieces are tacked down with a little glue stick. You can hand or machine sew the lines (step – 47 in the pattern.

Tip #2 – My top secret method for making feathery texture with a light weight fabric

 

Please watch the video above (click here if you don’t see the video). And I’ll go over the basics below.

You need a strip of lightweight fabric. The strip should be about 16 inches (it’s more than you will use but you don’t want to run out) of un-gathered fabric per wing. It’s about 1 and ¼ inches wide.

Gather the strip by hand or machine. My stitch line is slightly off center. It’s super quick and easy to do on the machine by turning the tension to the highest setting and the stitch length to the largest setting. If you’re gathering by hand make a back stitch after every couple inches to keep it from all unbunching.

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overdyeing fabric scraps for birds and mushrooms and owls

textile mushroom with a goldenrod dyed cap with french knots

Overdyeing, dyeing fabric that already has color or print, can transform cut up clothes and all sorts of mismatched scraps into great fabric for birds and owls and mushrooms.

Let’s start with a natural dye, goldenrod. It’s all over the place on the east coast right now and I’ve always wanted to make dye with it. You can find all the details in this tutorial for the dye experiment , here’s what happened in my rookie effort.

goldenrod flowers and scraps of printed an linen fabric for dyeing

The scraps are cotton and linen, some with prints and several neutral shades.  The fabric gets soaked in hot water before going into the dye. I harvested enough flowers to half fill a big stock pot. They were brought to a boil and then simmered for about an hour.

I did not love the smell. It’s not really a bad smell – just kind of a lot. The color was lovely. Following the tutorial I added about a tablespoon of alum (It’s used for canning and found in the spice aisle in the grocery store) to the pot after straining out the plants and before adding the soaked fabric.

textile mushroom with a goldenrod dyed cap with french knots

After the simmering was done (about an hour) the scraps stayed in the pot while it cooled. The results were an odd yellow perfect for a mini toadstool.

And there is a bird in progress too. There is something about the wash of color over different fabrics that make it feel birdlike and natural. I’ll share the finished bird here soon. I’ve got a few others in progress including blue birds made from fabric overdyed with woad blue (these were done with french general in France this summer).

a selection of prints and solid fabric overdyed with black

And these black scraps are for the crow sew-along. They are dyed with black RIT dye. It’s a purpley shade and perfect to mix into the wing fabrics.

Have you tried plant based dyeing or overdyeing? Are you gathering fabric for your crow? Let us know in the comments.

make this very scrappy and super crafty bunting

scrap puff bunting over my work table

sesomg colrful mini suffolk puffs on a hot day by a pool

In the slushy, hot doldrums of summer it’s the perfect recreational sewing project. A couple weeks ago I started making a few and lost control of myself. You know how that goes. There was no real plan for them but an idea for very scrappy and super crafty bunting emerged while I was stitching.

scrap puff bunting over my work table

mini yoyos (about 1 and 3/8th inch across) in my hand

These little vintage Yoyo’s, or Suffolk Puffs, turned up at the French General workshop.
There is something extra dear and compelling about them and I was immediately charmed. Maybe it’s the size? They are smaller than I have seen before and the fabrics are fabulous.

Maybe you need some scrappy bunting or you are just in the mood to stitch a bunch of something, either way, I got you. It’s super easy and takes forever.

 

1. Start with a circle of light cotton fabric that is 3 and ⅜ th inches in diameter. You can use this template. Use sturdy thread – I’m using cotton perl. Put your needle in ¼ inch from the edge on the wrong side of the fabric and fold the edge over.

2. Stitch right along the folded edge with stitches about ¼ inch.

3. Gather tightly and knot – optional – iron flat – I like them very squished.

That’s the slow part. Making all those little puffs. The assembly part was much quicker than I expected.

 

To assemble the bunting lay out the triangle shape as shown –  a row of 4 on top, next a row of 3, 2 and 1  (I used 10 but you could also make a smaller triangle with less for a mini bunting).

Stitch the string of 4 together with sewing thread. I connected them with 3 or 4 knotted stitches on top of each other. Pro tip – keep your thread attached and trim it later.

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new tutorial : miniature farm house plate rack

doll house with tiny dishes in a green wood plate rack on the wall. The house is made from cardboard and has a rustic feel.

A farmhouse plate rack for her perfectly mismatched heirloom china. It’s easy and quick to make and it might be the sweetest thing in the world. A new miss thistle society project is a perfect way to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the sewing pattern.

There has been major progress and one big set back in miss thistle’s cardboard house. The blue and white combination for the stamped walls was fine. I just didn’t love it. When I tried to paint over it the stamp pad ink ran and smudged and bled through. Relentlessly.

What finally fixed it was a wash of orangey/brownish paint that neutralized the weird blue and made a perfect variegated background for re-stamping with a more teal blue. The result feels just right. I can feel many generations of thistle women in this little room.

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the link. Links are highlighted and marked with an asterisk.

Let’s make the plate rack. It’s super easy and you could use the same technique to make all sorts of tiny shelves. And it’s quick, less than an hour except for drying time.

tools and materials

Please read through all the instructions before beginning

  • scissors
  • paintbrushes
  • wax paper
  • popsicle sticks  – *find them here
  • wood coffee stirrer
  • optional – miniature clothespins – so cute – *find them here
  • wood glue
  • fine sand paper
  • light weight cardboard
  • paint

1. You need 9 popsicle sticks, 1 coffee stir stick, a piece of light cardboard and – optional- 1 mini clothespin.  Use scissors (that are not your favorite scissors) to trim the popsicle sticks. Measure carefully and make the cuts as straight as possible. Also use caution- the ends you trim will go flying. Note– if your sticks break your scissors are too dull.

2. Cut 7 sticks to 3 and 3/8th inches and 2 sticks to 2 and 1/4 inch.

3. Cut one piece of cardboard to 3 and 1/2 inches X 2 and 1/4 inches

4. Trim one corner on each of the short pieces to round it. Lightly sand the edges of all the cut pieces.

5. Place wax paper on your work surface and paint wood glue onto the top half inch of the cardboard.

6. Press one of the longer pieces into the glue – centering it on the cardboard along the top edge.

7. Paint another half inch of glue below the first stick and add another – pressing it firmly against the first stick. Repeat with another stick so you have 3 sticks glued down..

8. Apply a strip of glue right under the third stick.

9. Press the edge of the fourth stick into the glue – perpendicular to the other sticks. Hold it for a minute or two to let the glue set a little. This will be your top shelf.

10. Apply a half inch of glue and press the next stick flat below it – pressing it firmly against the edge.

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stuffing : 7 tips and tricks

All your precise cutting and careful sewing are lost without thoughtful stuffing. Songbirds are a great example of how stuffing can take your project from OK to magnificent. The birds need to be firmly stuffed to fully express all their curves and have “birdness”. The birds below were hand stitched using the songbird sewing pattern. I’ve got 7 tips to help make your birds or any 3 dimensional sewing projects awesome.

1. A well stuffed creature starts with preparing the seams before you turn it right side out. Clip little triangle sections out of the seam allowance around the curves. Be careful not to cut the seams.

2. Turn your bird right side out. Take the wider end of a chopstick and run it firmly along the inside of the seams. It gives you a head start on pushing those curves all the way out. I learned this trick from a student at a workshop and use it all the time. It’s especially helpful on small curved seams that you can’t easily press open.

3. Use great stuffing. I only use wool. It makes a firm shape, I find it easier to work with than poly fill and you can fine tune the shape – more on that later. Find it in my shop.

4. Take your time. I spend a huge amount of time stuffing my birds and other creatures. Add a little at a time. Start by pushing the stuffing all the way to the head. Adding too much at once makes it harder to completely fill the shape. Keep adding stuffing until the bird body feels and looks full and round.

5. Close your eyes. Run your fingers gently over the surface and feel for empty spots or lumps. Your fingers will pick up things your eyes won’t.

6. Adjust from the outside. Use a large needle to fine tune the shape, move little bits of stuffing around inside the bird. You can get stuffing into or out of little spots that would be impossible to get to from the inside.

7. When you’re ready to close stitch part way and then add a little more stuffing (songbirds get temporarily closed at this point in their process so I’m basting).

Stuffed! The birds are round and the shape is completely filled out, the seams and surface are smooth. They are ready for feathers and I’ll update this post soon with the finished birds.

sewing pattern for a textile songbird

And if you feel like joining me in songbird sewing the pattern is 25% off until July 31.

Show me your magnificently stuffed songbird by using #annwoodpattern on instagram or emailing a photo to info at ann wood handmade dot com.

Do you have a favorite stuffing trick? Let us know in the comments.

textile book tutorial part one – organizing and assembling

*This tutorial is divided into two parts. This is part 1, part 2 is here. Please read both completely before beginning (start here with part 1).

book made form cotton and linen fabric scraps rest on a worn blue table with sewing notions and a pile of scraps

The easiest way to understand how this little textile book is constructed is to watch the video of the last step –  assembling it –  first.   After that we can talk about creating the pages etc.

Don’t see the video? – find it here.

I’m using the book as a 100 day stitch book project – my first two pages are above. If you are stitching along with me stitch your pages before you assemble the book. I’m sharing the assembly tutorial now so you know where we are headed. Plus it’s a really cool way to make a textile book that you could use for all sorts of things.

Learn more about the stitchbook project here 

To create your pages you need 20 rectangles – 7 X 5.5 inches – you can use the page template download below to make them.  Ignore the other marks on the pattern for now – just cut the rectangles. I’m using cotton and linen for the pages

Stitch whatever you like on your rectangles, embroidery, collage, mess around, try stuff, meander. Leave about 1/2 inch margin all around the edge to make book assembly easy.

To make the book  you will need these  templates:

download the page template here

download the page chart here

Before assembling the book finish stitching on each of your 20 rectangles however you like – (I’m using plain fabric rectangles for the demonstration book today).

Clearly mark the  – right side –  of each of the 20 finished pages with its number using masking tape and a sharpie marker.

The book has 20 pages, including cover and back. There are five sections – each composed of 4 rectangles/pages.

3 sections have slots.

and 2 sections have tabs.

Use the page chart to layout the sections.  For example The first section (a slot section) would look like this.

Use pages 6 and 1 for the front and 2 and 5 for the back of section one.  We are looking at the right sides of the fabric.

And here it is assembled – front and back – page 5 is on the back of page 6 and page 2 is behind one. Use the chart and it all works out.

Below is section 2 – a tab section.

Lay out your 20 numbered pages in 5 sections following the chart and then use the instructions here to sew the slot and tab sections.

With all your sections sewn assemble the book.

assembling the book

Get set up by laying out out your pages just like the left hand column of the chart. Then follow along with the video at the top of this post.

PS – the designer of the slot tab method of binding books is Michael Budiansky – checkout the handmade books blog for more– it’s a cool site.

textile book tutorial part two – making the sections

*  The tutorial is divided into 2 parts. Please read both parts entirely before beginning. Seriously, it helps. Start here.

The book has 20 pages, including cover and back. There are five sections – each composed of 4 rectangles/pages.

3 sections have slots.

and 2 sections have tabs.

This tutorial demonstrates how to construct the two kinds of sections in the book – slot and tab. Before you begin to sew the sections please read this post on how to create and organize the pages.

You will need:

  • your 20 pages/rectangles
  • chopstick or similar
  • a basic sewing kit
  • embroidery thread

make a slot section

1. To make a slot page take two rectangles and lay them out with the right sides facing you.

2. Place one over the other – right sides together.

3. Draw a half inch margin down the right hand side of the top piece.

4. Clip the short lines on your page pattern. Fold the center section back.

5. Place it over the rectangles and mark the short horizontal lines.

6. Sew the half inch seam above and below those marks.

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the fourth annual international scrap festival – 10 ideas for your fabric scraps

small fabric projects on a table - made from scraps of cotton and linen and text in the center -scrap festival 2022

small fabric projects on a table - made from scraps of cotton and linen and text in the center -scrap festival 2022

Welcome to the fourth annual scrap festival! That magical time of year when we celebrate scraps a little extra. I’ve scoured the interwebs for some awesome tutorials  and created a new fabric book DIY that’s perfect for scraps.

book made form cotton and linen fabric scraps rest on a worn blue table with sewing notions and a pile of scraps

It’s also perfect for the 100 day project if you feel like trying that. Fun and very manageable – you could do 15 minutes a day.  I’m participating using the book as my project. My daily progress post will be in the @annwood instagram stories and on a page here too. If you’d like to sew along with me use #annwoodstitchbook and #annwoodpattern on instagram.  You don’t have to commit to the hundred days to sew along but If you would like to more details are here.

Next week  On February 23rd I’ll post a full tutorial for making the book. For now let’s talk about how to get started on a couple pages:

*Download the template and cut 2 rectangles – these will be 2 pages.

template and two fabric rectangles - each 7 X 5.5 one is borwn one is black

Ignore the other marks on the pattern for now – just cut the rectangles. I’m using cotton and linen for the pages – the brown is from a worn out duvet and the black was a little jacket.

Stitch whatever you like on your rectangles, embroidery, collage, mess around, try stuff, meander. Leave about 1/2 inch margin all around the edge to make book assembly easy. Need some inspiration? You might find this post helpful. I test drove the 15 minutes a day idea and this is what I came up with.

fabric rectangle with 15 minutes of experimental stitching and patching

I used a timer and everything. It was a focused 15 minutes and felt good. The time limit eliminates paralysis and overthinking and invites happenstance. I love the idea of each day building on the previous.

For the one hundred day project my suggestion is 15 minutes per day. The book has 20 pages including the front and back covers so each page is stitched for 5 days, 15 minutes per day. So do-able! Over achievers feel free to do more. As I’m stitching and sharing I’ll include some simple prompts and suggestions in case you’re feeling stuck.

Why do it? It’s a little window of time to listen to yourself, try stuff, make marks, experiment. A place for ideas to turn up. And a perfect place to celebrate your most precious scraps!

book made form cotton and linen fabric scraps rest on a worn blue table with sewing notions and a pile of scraps

You don’t have to do the 100 days to sew along but if you are, start stitching on Sunday 2/13- 15 minutes per day. After 5 days, move on to the second page. Meet me back here on February 23rd for the full book tutorial (you’re gonna love it, super easy to make and the binding is clever).

I hope you make stitch books! Don’t forget to use #annwoodstitchbook and #annwoodpattern  on instagram. And if you’re doing the hundred days also use #The100DayProject

UPDATE 2/13 – find day 1 here!

9 more scrap projects!

tiny pouch mad from scraps

1.  A sweet bucket pouch from honeyfolkclothing.  The pfd is free through the end of this month only and you can find it here. And checkout @honeyfolkclothing (heidi) on on iinstagram for lots of inspiration. She is a scrap hero!

2. string quilt – Lots and lots of skinny fabric strips stitched together and can be arranged in intriguing ways. Simple, meditative and built for scraps. Find the tutorial here.

3. Something for little folks by sewmariana –  a fabric memory game – find the tutorial for the game squares here.

4, And use your bigger scraps or pieced scraps (like hexies or the afore mentioned string piecing) to make a sweet fabric container to keep them in with this DIY.

There are tons of scrap friendly projects in the free pattern library here – a couple favorites are:

small stuffed cats in two sizes - sewing diy

5. happy cats

bunny doll in dancing pose with lace collar held in hand - other bunnies in background

6.  and the newest – dancing hares

7. Improv with X. I love the idea of experimenting with a simple shape.  Checkout the X quilt improv blocks here.  And tons more inspiration from shecanquilt on Flickr here.

little pyramid shaped charms made form scraps on a white table

8. Something for your littlest scraps, These charms are super sweet. I love how mini they are and  they could be stuffed with lemon verbena or lavender. Such a sweet little gift. Find the tutorial here.

9. Sweet for spring  – carrot treat bags to sew – plus find fabric eggs and  more spring ideas here.

A couple bonus ideas from the blog

Long pin cushions are a perfect scrap project and super handy to have. And imperial cats are great to experiment with.

Do you have a favorite scrap project? Will you join me in sewing a fabric book? Let us know in the comments and happy scrap festival 2022!

dancing hares : sewing tutorial

4 stiched and stuffed cotton bunnies in a cancing pose on a wooden tablel

4 stiched and stuffed cotton bunnies in a cancing pose on a wooden tablel

Recently I received a strong spiritual directive from the universe: There should be bunnies and they should be dancing. You can’t fight this sort of thing so I’ve made a sewing pattern. It’s very easy and the result is charming, especially in a group. Plus I’ve included a few tips on getting smooth curves and stuffing along the way.

bunny doll in dancing pose with lace collar held in hand - other bunnies in background

The thought appeared in my paintings first, I love the idea of a little troupe dancing through the forest. There’s room to play and embellish with details like buttons and ribbons and scraps of lace. You definitely have some tiny scrap of something that is destined for these bunnies.

embroidering a simple face with black thread

Before we make the body let’s talk about the details.  The features are super simple. You can trace the features on the right side of the fabric before you sew, marking with a pencil or disappearing marker. I used backstitch and 2 strands of embroidery thread.  You will find this tip for hiding your knots helpful. The paws just have three little stitches on each.

deawing black slippers on the stuffed bunny with a sharpie marker.

The slippers are sharpie marker. Why not… You could embroider them if you like too. Add scraps and buttons and patches.  A pink colored pencil is great for rosy cheeks or stitch on little pink patches. So many possibilities.

If you’d like to hang your bunnies make a large stitch on the back of the neck with embroidery thread. I hung my bunnies.

table with vintage sewing machine and stitch projects hung on wall behind in groups

making the body

*This post contains an affiliate link – meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the link.

download the pattern

you will also need:

  • light cotton fabric
  • basic sewing kit
  • chopstick or similar
  • stuffing (I like wool)
  • embroidery thread
  • scraps, buttons, lace etc.

1. Cut out the pattern and pin it on your doubled fabric -right sides together – and cut out. If you’d like to trace the face on do that now – on the right side of the fabric.

2.  Carefully mark the 1/4 inch seam line on one piece – on the wrong side of on fabric.

3. Pin with right sides together and sew the seam by hand or machine. Leave open as indicated on the pattern.

4. Clip the curves as shown, being careful not to clip the seams.  Also snip at each end of the opening. – indicated in red.

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lamb ornament DIY

These little sheep are super fast and very easy to make. And the pattern includes two sizes so you can make little sheep families.

DOWNLOAD THE PATTERN

You will also need:

  • basic sewing kit
  • scraps of fabric – cotton, flannel, or light wool all work
  • black felt
  • glue stick
  • stuffing – I like wool
  • chopstick or similar
  • embroidery thread – black and ivory

1. Pin the body pattern onto doubled fabric -right sides together – and cut out. Pin the head, tail and leg to a single layer of felt. Cut out one head, one tail and two legs.

2. Clip out the little triangle mark on the body.  Draw on the seam allowance and indicate the area to leave open.

3. Separate the body pieces so the right side of the fabric is facing you. Place the body pattern on one piece of fabric – matching the little triangle notch.

4. Mark the three dots on the pattern on the fabric with a pencil or disappearing marker. You only need to mark one fabric piece.

5. Put a dot of glue stick at the center of each leg.

6. Fold the felt legs in half – forming  V shapes.

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frog (or toad) doll tutorial

Think “elf on a shelf” but amphibious.

They are remarkably expressive. A combination of the long limbs and eyes that follow you everywhere, silently judging you. An amphibious elf on a shelf. Why not.
Do you need more supervision? They are easy to make.

frog doll pattern sheet and supplies

download the pattern sheet

You will also need:

1. Fold your fabric with the right sides together. Pin one leg and arm along the fold and pin the body and cut out.

2.  Refold the remaining fabric, place the arm and leg on the fold and cut out. Pin the oval to a scrap of contrasting fabric and cut out.


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

Support free patterns like judgy frogs! And keep the awesome free projects flowing.

Click here to add your support.

 

 


 

3. Fold over each bottom edge of the frog body – wrong sides together – and press. Mark all your seam lines.

4. Stitch all seams. You can sew by hand or machine.  Leave open as indicated.

5.  Trim little triangle section around the curves of the head. Be careful not to snip the seams. Trim away about 1/2 of the seam allowance on the arms and legs.

6. Use the chopstick to turn the body right side out. Use this trick to turn the arms and legs:  insert a turning tube or straw cut in half into a limb. Push the straw all the way in.

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