FINISHED: Twister Sofa Back Pillows Re-Cover Project

With all that’s going on in the world right now, I must admit that I found it very difficult to focus and force myself to finish this Twister Pillows sofa back pillows re-cover project. That said, I am so very glad I did.

Pushing through the daily madness and finding my rhythm in sewing and quilting the new pillow covers was actually quite healing. I guess because I was doing something that I “COULD DO” instead of worrying and being caught up in the insanity. And at the end of the day, I had something to show for it.

Quick recap. Here’s the BEFORE sofa look:

Here is the AFTER:

As mentioned previously, I needed to make my pillow covers larger than the pattern so I simply enlarged the borders. I also decided to apply a scrappy binding instead of the prescribed “turning” method which would have been OK, but I love the look of the scrappy binding.

The Twister Pillows pattern offered directions for two methods of closure on the back: Envelope Style and Zipper Closure. I opted for the zipper closure and I really like the professional feel and finish. Here are a few shots of that:

Twister Pillow Back Side – Zipper Closure Finish
Twister Pillow Back Side Zipper Detail
Zipper Detail Close-Up

There you have it!

I loved the process of making my Twister Pillows! In fact, after I finish a couple other small projects, I would really like to design and make a coordinating Twister Table Runner to put on our coffee table that sits in front of the sofa.

What do you think?

Do the new pillow covers improve the look of our living room?

Have you ever made Twister Pillows or any projects using the Lil Twister Tool?

I’d love to hear your constructive comments and sharing below!

I Broke the (Quilting) RULES! And I like It.

Quilting on my domestic sewing machine using standard only the standard foot. No freemotion quilting. No walking foot.

Using my domestic sewing machine (it’s an older Juki TL98E straight stitch only machine) and it’s regular foot, I quilted my Twister Pillows with an orange slice design in each blade of the pinwheel.

Why did I choose to use my regular foot instead of freemotion quilting or walking foot?

Because I could and I wanted to see how they would turn out.

Be sure to scroll all the way down to view all pictures as the 4th pic shows the quilting from the back side. Surprisingly, it turned out pretty great. At least I think think it is and since it’s my quilt (pillows), my opinion is the only one that matters on this project!

ALSO…while I was doing quilting, I started thinking all this might be good to share publicly. Especially for new quilters, very young quilters or those who can’t afford or don’t want to spend big bucks on fancy machines or even purchasing a walking foot or an old machine. You see, I remember having absolutely NO budget for these things when I first started machine quilting and had little babies at home. That didn’t mean I couldn’t make nice things. It just meant I needed to be a little more aware and take my time if I wanted things to turn out right. For example, I needed to have the quilt sandwich basted really well (another blog article will be coming shortly on that). I decreased the pressure of my presser foot so there was less drag. I realize not all machines offer that option and you can still do this even if your machine doesn’t have that feature, but if yours does you may want to play with that a bit.

Pillow #4 quilted!

This design was very easy to stitch continuously. By that I mean I had no need to stop, cut threads and tie off anywhere unless a thread broke or the bobbin ran out. Simple stop/pivots were the only slowdowns.

Sew…how did I actually DO it? By the numbers, of course.

Quilting By The Numbers!

Using the picture above, imagine sewing toward the next ascending number, as follows: #1. Start at center of the pillow’s center most pinwheel secure a few stitches. From there stitch a gentle arc up the long edge of one blade of the pinwheel. #2. Stop. Needle down, lift presser foot, turn quilt, lower presser foot, stitch a deeper arc returning back to the center stopping at #3. Needle down. Lift presser foot, turn quilt, lower presser foot, stitch a gentle arc to #4. Stop. Needle down, lift presser foot, turn quilt, lower presser foot, stitch a deeper arc returning back to the center at #5. Repeat this on the remaining two blades of the pinwheel (i.e., follow the quilting lines to #6, #7, #8 and return to very center for the last time #9).

Once each blade of the pinwheel has been stitched, put needle down in the very center again. Lift presser foot, turn quilt to aim for the next pinwheel block and #10 carefully stitch in the ditch to the center of the next pinwheel. If you do this correctly, you will be able to travel to the next pinwheel without needing to remove the quilt from your machine.

After I finished quilting each of the pinwheels, I simply did a wonky echo spiraling around the outside of the pinwheel design until the entire quilt was quilted (relatively) evenly.

Are you wondering how the back turned out?

The back side of quilted Twister Pillow #4

I was pleasantly shocked at how nice the back of the quilt top looks! In the end it doesn’t matter at all for this project because this is a pillow top and this back will be inside of the pillow and completely unseen.

You know, I never seem to be able to follow a pattern’s instructions 100%. I always end up having to add my own twist. This project is no exception when it came to finishing. I chose the zippered pillow back option. The pattern instructions are well written and the results are really professional looking. So I did follow the instructions on that part, but I decided to take it a step further this time. Instead of turning, I decided to apply a scrappy binding. I pieced random fabrics from the top to make the binding. Yes, it took more time. But I just LOVE the results!

Any why not?! It is MY quilt (my quilted Twister Pillow), after all!

What do you think? Have you ever quilted using just your regular foot? How did it turn out? I genuinely welcome all related, constructive thoughts, ideas and comments below.

Half & Half Apron – Sewn Samples – Project Kits

This week I was busy sewing samples and making up kits for the Half & Half Apron project sheet (instructions by Karen Montgomery of The Quilt Company).

I’ve got to say I LOVE this little apron pattern/project.  It works up so easily and so quickly and the results are fantastic.  All the seams are finished and quite professional looking.  The pocket is fantastic–though it blends in with the apron body so you need to look closely. You could add lovely monogramming or other cool embroidery to the pocket very easily before stitching on the apron.

Here are the samples I’ve sewn so far:

Half & Half Fandingo Dark Pink/Orange apron sample

Fandingo Pink Floral
Half & Half Apron Fandingo Pink Floral sample

Tracy’s Review & Tips

1. The Half & Half Apron project sheet is very well thought out, nicely illustrated and very easy to follow step-by-step.

2. Unfortunately, there is no specified seam allowance on this project.  I used a 1/4″ seam allowance throughout and it worked perfectly.

The only place that might require a slightly deeper seam allowance is at the waistband since gathers are used and it may be tricky for beginners to deal with “gathering lines of stitching” that close to the fabric edge and stay within a 1/4″ total seam allowance. If you need to go a wee bit deeper than 1/4″ when sewing on the waistband, the project will still come out very nice.

3.  For those who do not know how to do “gathers” there is no instruction on how to perform that technique.  There is one illustration that gives you some clues.

Here is how I prepared my gathers: I make two parallel lines of long machine basting stitches very close to the edge of the fabric.  On one end of the lines of stitching, I find the bottom thread tails for each line of stitching and pull gently.  This creates a ruffling effect and you can slide the fabric gently to spread the gathers evenly to the center of the apron.  Repeat  on the other side until gathered fabric is even across the project and project dimensions are correct.

4. After I finished the apron instructions, I added top stitching to the waistband and ties — all the way around.  You could use decorative top stitching for an even fancier result.  The reason I added the stitching to the waistband and ties is that I know it will help keep the ties flat when I wash the apron in the future.  Without stitching, the ties are likely to “tube up” and twist in the washer and dryer making it more difficult to press flat.  Top stitching also adds more durability and a nicer overall finish to the ties.

These kits make gift making go sew much faster!  And…once you’ve made one, I bet you’ll be burning through your stash whipping up even more great combinations.

Kits also make FANTASTIC gift giving ideas for fellow quilters or sewing enthusiasts…since this particular kit includes the fabric and the project sheet of instructions, all the recipient needs to get started are rotary cutting supplies, thread and a sewing machine.  What quilter doesn’t already have an ample supply of those tools?

Making Cupcakes…Oven Mitts, that is!

Check out these adorable cupcake oven mitts I made using the Susie C. Shore pattern Hot Cakes! pattern.

What a FUN pattern and unique gift making project.

For those interested, a limited number of fabric kits are available.

Vintage Lime Cupcake -- Sorry...this kit is SOLD OUT and no longer available

Purple Passion Cupcake Hot Mitt
Purple Passion Cupcake -- Sorry...this kit is SOLD OUT and no longer available

Choco Buttercream Cupcake -- Sorry...this kit is SOLD OUT and no longer available

Island Breeze Cupcake -- click image to see fabric kit

Strawberry Ecstacy Cupcake -- Sorry...this kit is SOLD OUT and no longer available

Tracy’s Tips:

I did make a few minor changes/deviations from the pattern.

Because of the bulk and layers of this project, I used the following method for preparing to turn the shapes right side out:

When trimming (after stitching the shapes as directed by the pattern), I clipped a larger than specified seam allowance around the “turning opening” only.

After I finished trimming (but before turning), I pressed the seam allowances at the “turning opening” open.  I allowed the seam allowance to cool completely and then I turned the shapes right side out and stitched the opening shut approximately 1/8th inch from the edge.

The pattern does not say to do this as far as I can tell. I imagine that is because the openings will get stitched shut by the topstitching at the very end.  However, I prefer to have the openings stitched shut before doing the topstitching thereby eliminating the possibility that bulkiness in the seams might cause the fabrics to slide and not catch all the layers in the opening.

Instead of quilting straight lines on the base layer, I quilted freehand wavy lines. I just like the whimsical look of wavy lines much better than straight lines. For me, that takes the ‘perfection’ factor out of the equation and multiplies it by fun².

Seriously though, these go together very quickly and they are so cute.  You can bet I’ll be making several sets for holiday gifts this year. This pattern is at the top of my go-to list for gift making.  I love having extra items made up for those situations where you want/need a fast hostess gift, etc.

Sew cute!  Sew fun!  And so useful in the kitchen.

Cats Amore Lily Pocket Purse

Yesterday I finished sewing my first Lazy Girl Lily Pocket Purse.  I just love this sweet girl.

She went together very nicely with no construction problems whatsoever!  Once again, Joan Hawley has outdone herself and served all her Lazy fans a special treat.  Lily makes a fantastic wardrobe accessory and she’s so easy to make, you’ll want to have several.

I LOVE, love, love the long strap that I chose (you might want to choose a shorter strap) because I like wearing my purse across the body so my hands can remain free.

Here is my first Lily — I have plans to make a 2nd soon (a Pepper Lily)

I was hurrying to take pics this morning and had difficulty with lighting (not enough natural light available yet). The fabrics do have a golden glow feeling, but not quite as golden as some of the pics may appear.

Lily Hanging up
Full view of Lily and her long strap. Lily is 'open' here -- notice the velcro closure on the inner top band.

Lily Close Up - Front
Close up of Lily's front side.

Close up of Lily's back side
Close up view of Lily's back side. My cell phone is tucked in the small exterior pocket and my pen is ready to grab whenever I need it.

A view inside Lily
A look inside Lily.

The fabrics I used to make this Lily were from the Benartex Cats Amore line .