DIY: Fall Patchwork Kitchen Trivet Tutorial

It's National Sewing Month! Did you know that? Did you know it was President Regan who started  National Sewing Month in 1982.  He wanted to celebrate and honor the importance of home sewing in the United States.  If you want to learn more about National Sewing Month check out the National Sewing Month website.  However I am here to show you how to make a Patchwork Trivet just in time for the beginning of tea and soup season.   This is a good project for a beginner or intermediate but you do need to know how to use a sewing machine.


scissors or rotary cutter

pins /  iron

double wide bias tape 

cotton woven fabric scraps adding up to 9" square

Insul Bright batting

wool - I use Mary Flanagan wool that comes in beautiful colors and patterns 

1. Cut your cotton woven fabric scraps into 3" squares.  I used 3 different patterns/colors. 

2. Arrange your squares into the design you would like for the top part of the trivet. 

3.  Once you decide on your design, take 2 squares and lay them face to face, pin them and sew 1/4" seam allowance on one side. 

5. Remove the pins and with a hot iron and the back side facing up, press the seam to the darker fabric side. 

6.  Arrange your pieces again into your desired design.  You can see in my photo I sewed 6 pieces together to create 3 2 patch blocks.  My design is 3 swatches across, 2 are sewn and the 3rd isn't.  Now I will sew a third square onto each row of 2.


Continue this step with the other 2 rows of 2 squares each and this will complete your trivet top.

Next Friday will be part 2 of this tutorial and I will show you how to make your quilt sandwich and  complete the trivet. 

Have a great weekend! And please ask any questions or comments below!


Setting the Table: Sewing 101 Lesson 2

A few weeks ago I wrote about DIY and Setting the Table.

 I taught you how to make a reversible napkin.   In today's tutorial I will teach you how to make a Tea Towel.  I like giving tea towels as hostess gifts.  I usually will give two wrapped up in pretty packaging.  Tea towels are great to use for many reasons.  You can hang them on a stove for decoration.  You can use them on a small table or coffee table for serving hors d'oeuvre.  You can use them in a basket as a bread roll blanket or under a dish rack as a drying cloth.  It is a very multi purpose textile.

In this week's edition of Setting the Table I will show you a quick and easy way to make a tea towel.  Very easy for the beginner.  There is also an option at the end of the tutorial to add a ribbon detail.


5/8 yard of home dec weight or medium weight cotton woven or cotton linen fabric

6" of 1/2" or 3/8" wide twill tape or trim (I use a linen cotton webbing)

3/4 yard of 5/8" wide ribbon or twill tape for decoration (I use a ribbon called Fettucia

from Purl Soho)

Pre-wash all fabric.

1. Cut a piece 20" wide and 28" long

2. fold all 4 sides in at 1/2" and press

3. fold in again 1/2" seam allowance and press.  I press with the pins in to hold down the fabric for me. You can pin the pins all the way but I just push them into the ironing board. If you are more comfortable you can pin the seam allowance completely.  Once you press it with steam, the seam allowance should stay flat without the assistance of the pins.

(note: pressing is with the iron on steam)

5.  Cut 6" of your thinner webbing or ribbon for your hanging loop.  My fabric has a directional print, there is an actual top.  Fold your webbing in half.  At the top of my towel on the shorter side and 1" in from the side seam place the raw edges of the loop under the seam allowance and fold towards the top so it overlaps the top edge and pin in place.

Now sew a 3/8" seam allowance.

4. Sew all four sides at once, pivoting at each corner.

(note: Pivoting is sewing down one side to the corner, leave the needle in the fabric and lift presser foot.  Turn your fabric, place presser foot back down and sew the next side. There is no need to back stitch since this is one continuous seam.)

5. Press.  Finished!

Now an optional decoration is adding a ribbon, rick rack or pom poms to your tea towel.  You will need 22" long of trim. (Or 25" if you want to make a loop on one of the sides, read step 7).

I used a beautiful yellow ribbon called Fettucia.

6.  2" from your bottom fold place your ribbon with 1" overlapping each long edge.  Pin in place.

7. Fold underneath twice so the raw edge is not shown.  If you want, you can cut this ribbon at 25" long and on one side fold a loop to the back side.  You then have a side hanging loop. This is shown in the photo.

8. Sew an edge stitch, pivoting. Normally you shouldn't have your fabric underneath your arm of the sewing machine.  But in this case since you are pivoting you will need to roll up the fabric when you sew the other side of the ribbon.

9. Press and finished.

If you would like to give this as a gift I suggest making two so buy double the amount of fabric or buy the same amount in a complimentary print.

Happy Crafting!


Tracey  //


Setting the Table: Sewing 101


In New York City most apartments are on the small side.  We live in shoe boxes.  Most of us all live on tight budgets.  And most of us are single and like to go out.  Sometimes though it is nice to entertain, even in our little shoe box.  I used to live in a 300 square foot apartment.  My husband to this day makes fun of it.  It was my bed, my work table, and 3 cats.  Plus a few bookcases here and there.  It was cozy.  It was in Hells Kitchen which is a very fun place to hang out in and filled with history.  Even though I lived in a small studio I still liked to have friends over.  I didn't have chairs or a dining table but we could have drinks and appetizers.  Entertaining is nice, pleasant, cozy and personal.

The next few weeks I will be posting a series of DIY called Setting the Table.  You don't need to be an expert sewist to do these projects but it will help if you know the machine.  

There will be projects for every living situation.  We will start with simple and easy, a napkin.

double sided napkin using Liberty Wiltshire backed with muslin

tea towel  (spoon by   Cor Pottery)

tea towel  (spoon by Cor Pottery)

Moving on to a tea towel with hanging loop.

felt octagon coasters (mug by LennyMud )

felt octagon coasters (mug by LennyMud )

Felt coasters

Table cloth

Embroidered placemats

Quilted table runner

table runner and coaster

table runner and coaster

Each above item can be used in any table setting, big or small, casual or formal.  What will determine the feel is what fabric you use.

The first project, the double sided napkin, can be used for every day meals or only when special meals with guests are held.


  • For 4 Reversible Napkins
  • 1 yard of 44" wide fabric - quilting cotton, broadcloth, or light to medium weight cotton woven fabric
  • 1 yard of 44" wide
  • 200 count muslin
  •  I use the higher count muslin because it is much softer than regular dress maker's muslin
  • matching cotton or poly machine thread.  I prefer Gutterman brand but Coats and Clark is also good.
  • Size 10 machine needle

All fabric should be pre-washed.

1. You can layer both pieces of fabric on top of each other for cutting.   Cut out 4 18" squares.

I use a rotary knife to make sure I cut a completely even square

2.  Lay one piece of muslin and one piece of your print face to face.  Muslin has no face so just choose one side.  Pin it together.  Sew 3/8" seam allowance on all sides leaving a 4" opening.  When you are sewing the sides continue with one seam,  you will pivot when you get to each corner.  Start your sewing in the middle of one of the seam allowances, so don't start at a corner.  Press with a steam iron.

The face is the nice side. 

Pivot at the corners

 3. Pivoting: Leave your needle in at the corner, raise your presser foot and turn the fabric to sew the next seam.

Leave a 4" opening so you can turn the napkin back to the right side.

Clip corners before turning out

4. Clip corners before turning back to the right side. This reduces bulk and will help you get nice pointy corners.  Use a point turner for this.  I like the bamboo kind.

5. After turning out, press with a steamy iron. And sew around all 4 sides using a 1/4" seam allowance. And press again.

 Finished! Beautiful and soft spring napkins!

The next post will be making a tea towel with hanging utility loop.




Rice, Fabric and Some Basic Sewing Skills- Make a Door Snake!

My husband and I moved into a ground floor apartment two years ago.  Two winters have passed.  There are 2 doors into the foyer where our main door is located.  The second entryway door is always left open creating a very chilly hall way in the winter.  This lovely chill makes it's way into our apartment via under the door.  Now with a baby who spends alot of time on the floor we had to fix the problem.  Time for me to make a draft blocker also called a snake.  If you have a machine and fabric this will take no time at all.  It probably will take you longer to go to the store to pick up the rice.


  • 1/4 yard of woven fabric that is 44" wide

  • rice

  • sewing machine

  • I used a basic quilting cotton for one side and a ticking canvas for the other side

  1. measure the length of your door
  2. cut fabric to be this length with a width of 3 1/2 - two pieces needed
  3. lay fabric face to face and sew 3  sides with 1/2" seam allowance keeping a short side open
  4. turn inside out using a loop turner or a safety pin with a ribbon attached.

Ok what's a loop turner?     Check out this fantastic description on for instructions.

  1. pour rice in
  2. turn in seams at the opening and sew shut

All done and warm! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Happy Crafting!

Tracey  //

etsy shop


Sewing Tutorial: Father's Day Pocket Square

Father's Day is coming up, June 16th, and I wanted to share a special and easy gift you can make for the dad in your life.  And this doesn't have to be just for dads, my friend Kayte loves these pocket squares for herself.  She uses them all the time especially in the New York City humid summers.   If you are a beginning sewer this is a great project for you.

The key ingredient for this pocket square is you want very soft cotton.  I used Liberty of London which is called a Lawn Fabric.  The count is high, which means there are a lot of very fine threads per inch making it softer (think of high count bedding sheets). Robert Kaufman, a popular fabric manufacturer, also makes a lawn fabric in solid colors.

  • Materials:
  • 1/2 yard of fabric ( you will be using a 12" square but stores usually require you buy a minimum)
  • matching cotton machine thread
  • size 8 needle
  • fine pins

Step 1:

Cut out a 12" square and iron.  Fold over 1/4" twice on 2 opposite ends.  I pin down, iron, then secure the pins into the fabric.

Step 2: where the raw edge meets the now folded edged, fold in the corner at an angle, this way your corners will be nice and neat and have no fabric overhang. Repeat step one, fold over 1/4" seam allowance twice.

step 2 - fold corner at angle

Step 3: all fabric is pinned down. Because this is such a skinny seam allowance I do pin it parallel to the seam. Normally in the classes I teach I tell my students pins should be perpendicular so the pins can be pulled out while you sew or the needle can jump the pins.

step 3 - pinned down on all 4 sides.

Step 4: Sew on the inside fold. This ends up being about 1/4" seam allowance.  If you are using the Liberty of London or the Robert Kaufman Lawn fabrics use a size 8 needle since it is finer.  Start your sewing somewhere in the middle, not on a corner.  This reduces the risk of the fabric getting bunched up on a corner or pushed down into the machine.

step 4 sewing

 Step 5: when you reach a corner, sew to the end and back stitch to the beginning of the fold.  Leave the needle in, pick presser foot up and pivot.  Sew down the next seam. Repeat on all corners.

step 5 turn the corners

Step 6 all finished, iron and steam and gift!

The fabric I used is the Liberty of London Margaret Annie in color purple green.  And remember to pre-wash your fabric.


Tracey Toole

DIY metro card holder (vs.2)

In my last blog post, I made a metro card holder, but it wasn't the one I REALLY wanted to make. I actually wanted to make a type of billfold with two pockets. This is similar to the plastic case that I had been using since the early 90's (which understandably was on it's last leg.)

This one takes a bit more time, but I like the results a lot better. I started with two pieces of denim about 6"x5" Again, I am still working on the huge pile of old jeans I have stashed in the corner of my bedroom.

I pinned the pieces together with the right sides together. Then I sewed around 3 sides, leaving one side open.

After turning the denim pouch right side out, I cut out a piece of stiff paper (like a file folder) and cut it to size, and tucked the paper inside the pouch. Then I sewed up the open side, and folded the pouch in half.

Then I cut out two pieces of fabric and sewed it to the inside of the pouch to create pockets. I like two pockets...metro card on one side and a bit of cash (or credit cards) can be placed in the other pocket.

For a bit more security (especially if I am storing cash) I added a bit of velcro on the sides. I cut out a small square, glued it in place, then gave it a quick stitch, just to make sure it stayed in place. This way, when I close the stays closed!

That's it...quick and easy!

Until next time....happy crafting!

Nordea  /  nordeasoaperie

Can I Make This?

When I was a young girl my mother called me expedient, meaning I was more interested in finishing a craft than I was in doing it correctly. Maybe so; I'd get excited about the idea of the finished product and didn't always have the patience to work with small pieces, wait for glue to dry, do things in the proper order.

After reading about the young Norma Kamali and how she would baby powder her shoes to make them extra white, I once glued glitter to a pair of my own shoes. Norma and I met the same ending: she left little white outlines of chalky baby powder everywhere she walked in her classroom, and I trailed glitter where I walked (since I didn't use the correct kind of glue.)

This was frustrating to my mother who was an accomplished craft person in the areas of embroidery, painting and sewing. She once nearly lost her mind "teaching" myself and two girls from my girl scout troop how to use a Singer machine to make nightgowns for the sewing merit badge.

The result back then was that my finished products didn't last very long. (Although I think I did wear that flannel nightgown with the little blue rosebuds on it until it fell apart.) But old habits die hard and while I am now more patient with myself when making things, it's still true that when I see a DIY project on the web, my mind goes straight to this thought: How would I screw THAT ONE up?

This story goes to the issue of how easy a maker thinks a project is, and how easy the inexperienced "student" finds it to be. I know that as a food editor at Chocolatier magazine, we always assumed the reader/baker had no experience. It was agonizing sometimes to edit recipes in such detail, but I still have all my old issues of the magazine because you couldn't go wrong with a single recipe from Chocolatier, while the average recipe in a newspaper article is so full of errors it's hardly worth spending the money on ingredients because the dish is often likely to fail due to a lack of recipe testing or editing. So this article on DIY projects by Daily Candy editor Zoe Schaeffer caught my eye:

"Skeptical of DIY fashion projects? So were we—until we came across the clever ideas from these top style bloggers. From suede booties to accented aviators, their innovative creations look cool—not crafty. Don't believe us? Here, 13 DIY styles that look as chic as the real thing."

This one does not seem so difficult, right?

"Steal the bedazzled beanie style from the House of Holland runway show with help from Erica Domesek of PS I Made This," reads the article. "Arrange plastic gems, buttons or beads on an old beanie in various cluster designs," she says. "Once you've decided on a pattern, use it as a guide to follow and simply sew the embellishments into the fabric with a needle and two pieces of thread."

The success of this project depends on the ability to sew the beads on in the correct jaunty angle. I think I would get five sewn on, realize I had 27 more to go, and give up. Also, I'm pretty sure something awful would happen when I put the hat on and the s-t-r-e-t-c-h made the beads all move to weird places. How about this one?

"Pining for designer T-strap studded heels? This pair could easily be mistaken for the real thing. To create them, "Line the edges of a pair of pointy-toe kitten heels with black ribbon by gluing, making a few slits when rounding the front to create the curved edge," says Radosevich. "Next, cut the straps off a pair of old sandals and attach them to the kitten heels by gluing a piece of ribbon to connect the strap and shoe." Once dry, glue gold or silver studs onto the straps for a runway-ready finish."

I'm with Radosevich until she cuts the straps off a pair of old sandals. I just see myself losing the straps when the glue failed and hobbling around in my half-designed shoes.

Not sure I need to go on, you get the idea. Creating something not only requires the skill to do it, but the confidence that you can do it without screwing it up. And confidence comes from success. So, start small, buy the right glue, and craft on!

Susan/Wink and Flip Wink and Flip


Fabric Covered Buttons

As you can see, I've got a lot of buttons in my stash. Unfortunately, sometimes none of them will work for a particular crafty project I may be working on. Last September, I decided to finally replace a missing button on a jacket. I headed down to a button store in the garment district and ended up buying a button for $3. Yes, $3 for one button. I found the price to be ridiculous, but I had no choice. A few months later, I came across instructions online to create fabric covered I will never pay $3 for a button again!

First, pull out your stash of fabric scraps. It doesn't take a lot of fabric, so there is probably something in the fabric stash that will be useful. I decided to use the greenish-colored fabric (seafoam) because I had no buttons that matched the fabric.

Measure the distance from the edge of the button to the middle of the button. You want the fabric to be able to reach the middle so you can completely cover the button.

I traced a circle on the fabric around the button, making sure that there was at least 1/2 inch extra all around.

Then, I cut the fabric. My measurements were pretty close, but it wasn't necessary to be exact.

Taking a needle and thread, I used a running stitch (I think that's what it's called) and stitched along the perimeter of the fabric circle.

After placing the button in the middle of the fabric circle, pull the thread taut so the fabric gathers around the button and covers it completely.

You can even trim a bit of the fabric around the outside of the stitches to reduce the amount of bulk behind the button. You don't want too much fabric because you want the button to lay as flat as possible when you use it.

Continue to stitch up the fabric until it is taut around the button. Knot off the thread, and you are done! A beautiful button for whatever project you are working on!

Until next time....happy crafting!

Nordea nordeasoaperie

Liberty of London Fabrics

Liberty of London new collection inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show

Many people who are sewers or quilters know of Liberty of London fabrics. Those who do seem to love them.  As a designer with a background in woven fabrics I appreciate the quality and the design, and personally I think they are absolutely gorgeous. Grant it, they are expensive, but with good reason.

Their fabrics are designed by English artists, the Liberty archives date back to 1875, high quality cotton is used, the process is intense and they are manufactured in England.  With fabric manufacturing this is where the majority of the cost is, where it is manufactured, ( visit this 2 minute plus video by Mollie Makes about the printing process of Liberty). When you buy this fabric you are not supporting child or unfair wage labor.  Rather these are experienced technicians earning an honest wage in England.  So how much is it a yard? On average in the US it runs about $36 a yard. But believe me, if you purchase it and make something with it, you will have it forever.

Liberty just came out with their new collection, inspired by the Chelsea Flower Show. Liberty is known for their floral prints.  What I love most are their prints that are not your stereotypical flower print.  Each fabric has a story and background. If you would like more info you can visit their website and click on each fabric link and they will tell you what this fabric is about.

One of my part time jobs is working at Purl Soho, a fabric and yarn shop in Soho NYC.  I emailed my manager yesterday to find out if we are getting any of the new Liberty collection. Only 3 stores in NYC carry Liberty. She said we were but wasn't sure when it was arriving.  Late last night I received a text message, the fabrics arrived last night.  Today I go to to work and can't wait to see the new collection in person! I wonder which ones the store will be selling.

Are you familiar with Liberty fabrics? Have you sewn with them? What do you think?

Tracey Toole

Sandy Craftalong

I hope everyone is doing well and on the road to recovery post-Sandy. I know that many of us East-Coasters were affected (myself included) and my thoughts go out to all of the families that are still suffering from the destruction that Sandy left behind.

When I stumbled across this project I thought it would be perfect for the crafty readers of this blog. Two NY-based craft bloggers have organized a craftalong to make warm items to donate to Sandy victims. Items they are looking for include hats, mittens, scarves, blankets, socks and sweaters, and these items can be knit, crocheted, or sewn! If you have any time and resources to spare, I encourage you to consider participating in this craftalong. The sooner you can make something the better, as they're hoping to start passing out donations within a week or less. If you'd like to find out more information, click through to this post!

By Nnenna of star-crossed smile