Tips for Making Baby Headbands

It’s hard to believe our granddaughter is 6 months old. She is growing so fast…including her head, which means that she has outgrown all her cute baby headbands. Last week I decided to take a day, pull out my stash of ribbons and buttons and embellishments, and make her a wardrobe of headbands. I created a total of 14 different styles – two weeks of stylin’ baby accessories.

Here she is ready to watch basketball, wearing her College Game Day bow!

Ready for College Game Day - Go Nova!

Ready for College Game Day – Go Nova!

And here are the 13 other headbands:

The Many Faces of Claire - and her Headbands!

The Many Faces of Claire – and her Headbands!

There is so much info online on how to make elastic baby headbands that I do not think I need to write a tutorial. But, I do have a few tips to make them fit a growing head a little longer.

Th 5/8″ fold-over elastic by Dritz is great for these types of headbands. It’s soft, easy to work with, and comes in lots of different colors and patterns. Most tutorials suggest taking a length of elastic, placing the ends right sides together, and sewing them together to make a seam. I find that a little bulky so I simply overlap the cut ends.

I start with a length of elastic cut to the size of baby’s head plus 1/2″. There are “standard” head sizes but our girl is off the charts (So smart, she is…gonna be brilliant in school!). I want to make sure the headbands will be big enough now and adjustable to last for awhile.

I overlap the ends 1/4″. Using a doubled thread in the needle, I hand slip-stitch one cut end in place.

Overlap the cut ends and stitch them together.

Then I sew the finished edges together along one side, sew back down the other cut end and across the opposite finished edges.Step2I take small stitches and make sure the ends are securely knotted. The desired bow or embellishment is sewn or glued to the outside of the headband, over the overlapped seam.

To make the headband adjustable to a growing head, I form a 1/2″ pleat by folding the elastic back on itself and securing it with a few small stitches. These stitches can then be removed when the headband gets a little snug. (I like to use contrasting thread so it is easy to see what stitches need to be snipped.)


When using crochet lace elastic trim such as the type I used for Claire’s College Game Day bow, I do sew a regular seam on the machine. But, I can still fold and hand stitch a little tuck to the inside of the headband to make it adjustable for a growing head. A large bow or embellishment will cover up the stitching.

Hopefully this group of headbands can be worn for several months. I have a feeling I will be making lots more. They are so quick and easy to make, and it’s so much fun to see her wearing them. A girl just cannot have too many accessories!

How to Sew a Yoga Mat Bag from Precut Strips, Fat Quarters and Ribbons

Bargello Yoga Mat Bag

Bargello Yoga Mat Bag

This Bargello Yoga Mat Bag is one of my favorite designs from Precut Patchwork Party. It’s a fun way to use a roll of coordinating precut fabric strips. Two lengths of ribbon form the straps and two fat quarters make the lining. Sew a little gift for a friend…..or for yourself!

Materials Needed to Make Yoga Mat Bag

Materials Needed to Make Yoga Mat Bag


T-Shirt “Quilt” Tutorial

A few years ago I made a quick and easy T-shirt quilt for my daughter Emily, and I recently made a coordinating one for her hubbie, David. It’s was a great way to use T-shirts that were full of memories and just too special to toss. (It also got rid of that box of old T-shirts sitting in a crowded corner of their apartment.)

David's T-Shirt "Quilt"

David’s T-Shirt “Quilt”

By definition, a quilt is made up of 3 layers – top, batting, and backing. I hesitate to call this a quilt since it does not have a batting middle layer. The top is the patchwork of T-shirts and the backing is polar fleece. I didn’t feel the need to add any batting. So if you are a member of the quilt police, you an call it a throw or a blanket or a “quilt” (with quotes).

I began by separating the T-shirts into four groups, based upon the width of the printed images I wanted to use. Then I cut off the sleeves and a sliver off the sides and the neck openings to rough cut each shirt into a square or rectangle. I divided the pieces into four groups that would become the four vertical columns of my finished quilt. I determined that the finished columns would be 16″, 11″, 14″, and 12″ wide so as to use as much of the printed T-shirts as possible. I calculated how long each finished rectangle would have to be to end up with four columns about the same length. I moved a few pieces around until the measurements worked. To the width and length measurements of each square or rectangle I added about 2″ extra for trimming and seam allowances.

Organizing T-shirts and rough cutting them into rectangles.

Organizing T-shirts and rough cutting them into rectangles.

T-shirts are made from knit fabrics, and knits can stretch and be tricky to sew. Fusible knit interfacing (Pellon Easy Knit) is a great stabilizer that makes knits easy to control. It comes in white and black. (Use white on white and light colors. Use black on black and dark colors.) Cut squares or rectangles for each rough cut T-shirt piece. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fuse the interfacing to the back of each piece. Be careful that the hot iron does not touch the printing. Sometimes the inks will smear. Trim the squares and rectangles to the desired finished size, allowing for 1/2″ seam allowances on all sides. Line up all the pieces in each of the four columns and double check your calculations to make sure the columns will be the same length (Gotta love my old school calculator and paper and pencil…so high tech!). Then sew the pieces together in each column to make four long pieces. Press the horizontal seam allowances open. Sew the four columns together and press the horizontal seam allowances open.

Iron on fusible knit interfacing. Trim each rectangle to the exact size needed. Double check to make sure the 4 columns will end up the same length. Sew the rectangles in each column together and press seams open.

Iron on fusible knit interfacing. Trim each rectangle to the exact size needed. Double check to make sure the 4 columns will end up the same length. Sew the rectangles in each column together and press the horizontal seam allowances open. Sew the four columns together and press the vertical seam allowances open.

Use polar fleece yardage for the “quilt” backing. It should be 3″ or more wider and longer than the finished dimensions of the patched T-shirts. Lay the fleece right side down on the floor or a large table. Center the wrong side of the patchwork front against the fleece. Smooth and pin to hold. With thread that matches the color of the fleece, machine stitch down the vertical row seams (stitch-in-the-ditch). Stop and start the stitching at the edge of the front, back stitching a few stitches to hold at each end. Start with one of the seams at the center of the “quilt” and work out to each side Stitch the outer edges of the front 1/4″ from the cut edges. In the same way, sew across the horizontal seams of the quilt, starting in the center of the “quilt” and backtracking and over-stitching as necessary where the squares and rectangles do not align straight across. Stitch the outer horizontal edges to the backing 1/4″ from the cut edges.

Lay out fleece backing. Center patched T-shirts on top of fleece and pin. Stitch-in-the-ditch to quilt along the vertical and horizontal seams.

Lay out fleece backing. Center patched T-shirts on top of fleece and pin. Stitch-in-the-ditch to quilt along the vertical and horizontal patchwork seams.

The “quilt” is now ready to be bound and rather than apply a separate binding fabric, I brought the extra fleece to the front to cover the raw edges of the T-shirts. Use a ruler and rotary cutter to trim the excess fleece 1 1/4″ beyond the edge of the T-shirt edges. To finish the edges, fold the excess fleece to the front of the the “quilt”. Begin by folding one corner down and securing with a drop of glue 1/4′ from the cut edge. (Elmer’s School Glue works great and it washes out when the quilt is laundered.) Fold down the excess fleece along one edge and glue, taking care to keep the glue about 1/4″ from the edge. Use a few pins to hold the fleece in place until the glue dries. Fold down the excess fleece along the adjoining edge and glue. Continue to glue the remaining corners and edges.

Trimming fleece and folding the edge to the front of the "quilt" to create the "binding".

Trimming excess fleece and folding the edge to the front of the “quilt” to create the “binding”.

A neat miter will be formed at each corner. Use a few pins to keep the folds in place. Sew the fleece binding to the “quilt” by machine stitching 1/2″ from the folded edge. With small sharp scissors, trim the excess fleece close to the stitching line. Zig-zag stitch over the trimmed edge to neatly cover the straight stitching and finish the cut edge of the fleece.

Pin mitered edges at corners. Machine stitch 1/2" from the folded edge of the fleece. Trim excess fleece close to stitching. Zig-zag stitch over the raw edge of the fleece to neatly finish the binding.

Pin mitered edges at corners. Machine stitch 1/2″ from the folded edge of the fleece. Trim excess fleece close to stitching. Zig-zag stitch over the raw edge of the fleece to neatly finish the binding.

I used 30 T-shirts (backs & fronts) to make this “quilt”. You may need more or less, depending upon the size of the T-shirts and the dimensions of the printed areas.

I think you will find the finished “quilt” nice and heavy and warm and won’t be missing that extra layer of batting that would make it an official quilt.

Coaster Quilts…Thank You Pokey & Mom

quilted-wine-coastersThank you to Pokey Bolton and her mom!  Several weeks ago, Pokey from Quilts, Inc. posted a tutorial on her blog, Pokey’s Ponderings, for making these adorable wine coasters/mug rugs.  How cute are these?

sewingSo simple to sew.  Only five circles of fabric…four of them folded in half, then overlapped and sewn to the fifth circle.  No batting, no pinning, no hand sewing.

The stem of the wine glass slips into the opening of the finished coaster.  Or, they can be used flat as regular coasters.coasters&mug2

The timing of Pokey’s post was perfect as I was looking for something quick and easy to make as a favor for my daughter’s bridal shower.  It was being hosted at the Iron Bridge Wine Company in Columbia, Maryland so what could be more fitting than wine coasters to give as favors.

I used a stash of Tula Pink and Anna Maria Horner fabrics to make sets of four coasters for each guest.  Thanks to my Accuquilt 5″ circle die, cutting the fabrics was a breeze.  Doing the ironing and sewing assembly line style made the job quick and efficient.  It took me less than 5 minutes to make each coaster.  And even though I ended up making a total of 96 coasters, I was was able to finish them in a couple of days.

I strung four coasters together with pearl cotton and added a little “how-to” note for each guest.  Since they ended up looking like little round quilts, we started calling them “Coaster Quilts”. CoasterQuilts They were a big hit with everyone, including the bride.

This little project will now be my go-to project for a quick hostess gift.  Perfect with a bottle of wine.  Thanks Pokey and Mom from a very happy Mother-of-the-Bride!

Invitation to a “Precut Patchwork Party”

I am so excited!  My new book for Creative Publishing International is now available – Precut Patchwork Party.  It takes awhile to edit and publish a book so it’s always such a thrill to see all the projects I’ve designed finally come together.

Precut Patchwork Party CoverI am a big fan of precut fabrics.  All those strips, squares and fat quarters, in yummy colors and prints, packaged like little gifts, are hard to resist.  I often pick them up with absolutely no idea of how I will use them.  They are just too pretty not to take them home.

There are lots of patterns available for making quilts with precut fabrics.  But I wanted to explore other things you could make with them so this book features all sort of projects…everything but quilts.

I designed a group or home decor projects – pillows, placemats, tablecloth, tea cozy, even a headboard and a lampshade.  HomeDecAnd I also designed a variety of accessories, wearables and gift projects – bags and totes, child’s dress and skirt, baby gifts, aprons and more.

AccessoriesWearablesGiftsI’ve included lots of basic information and tips, as well as my favorite sewing techniques, such as fabric rick rack and pom-pom trim.

BasicsThe beauty of working with bundles of precut fabrics is that they are coordinated by color or theme or designer collection and all the fabrics work well with each.  Mix and match as you like.  You really can’t go wrong.  And sewing with precuts is really easy – lots of straight sewing.  All the projects in my book utilize the standard sizes of precuts so you can get started right away with very little time spent cutting fabric (not everyone’s favorite part of any sewing project).

The projects in this book are perfect for a new sewist as well as someone who has been sewing for awhile.  They all are constructed with very basic sewing techniques.  Anyone who makes quilts and wants to do something new with their stash of precuts will find inspiration.  So next time you can’t resist buying those beautiful bundles at the quilt store, know that there is a lot you can make with them, other than your beautiful quilts.

Consider this post to be an invitation to the party!  No need to RSVP.  Just check out Precut Patchwork Party on Amazon, grab some precut fabrics and have fun.  Make something for yourself or your home or a gift.

Something Old & Something New Wedding Pillow

Turns out I am the keeper of our family’s textile treasures.  I have drawers and drawers full of beautiful vintage linens, fabrics, ribbons and trims that at one time were lovingly handmade and used by past generations in our family.  Although some things are not in great condition, I have saved each little bit knowing that one day I would find the perfect use for them.  So when my niece got married last month, I knew it was a wonderful chance to work with my stash and make her and her husband a little gift to remember her family.

Machine Embroidered Wedding Pillow with Vintage Tatting and Buttons

Machine Embroidered Wedding Pillow with Vintage Tatting and Buttons

But unlike ladies of the past who spent hours making tatted and crocheted lace by hand, I had waited to the last minute to make this gift and was short on time to get it finished.  Let’s hear it for today’s technologies!  Working with my computer and machine embroidery software, I typed out the bride and groom’s names, transferred it to my sewing machine, threaded up the machine and stitched it onto a piece of raw silk fabric that great-gran must have used for curtains.  I washed the fabric before stitching the embroidery as I wanted to make sure the finished pillow could be cared for easily in the future.  The washing softened the fabric and brought out the texture of the weave.  A nice contrast to the cotton embroidery thread.

Machine embroidery done (so much faster than stitching by hand!) and ready to clip the threads.

Machine embroidery done (so much faster than stitching by hand!) and ready to clip the threads.

I found a gorgeous strip of tatted lace that was still attached to part of a silk chemise top.  It was one of the shoulder straps.

Tatted Lace Shoulder Strap on Silk Chemise Top

Tatted Lace Shoulder Strap on Silk Chemise Top

The silk fabric was very fragile and falling apart but the lace was in great shape.  So I carefully clipped it from the fabric and washed it by hand.  After it was dried and pressed, it was even more beautiful.

LaceDetailI hand stitched the lace below the embroidery…StitchingLace

…added a two more rows of narrow tatting above the embroidery….

Another modern tool makes sure my top rows of lace are straight and evenly positioned.

Another modern tool makes sure my top rows of lace are straight and evenly positioned.

…and sewed on a few vintage buttons from my stash.


Didn’t take much time to then make the pillow cover and insert the pillow form.

As I worked on this project, I kept thinking of the talented ladies in generations past and what they would have thought of all the tools and technology we have at our fingertips today.  I am so glad that my husband’s great aunt had the patience and passion to make such beautiful lace and I feel honored that I could use it again to make a little reminder of how much family is part of the fabric of our lives.

Congratulations to Becca and Mike!  Many years of happiness.

Love, Aunt Elaine

Ribbon Bracelet Tutorial Video

RibbonBraceletPhotoSeveral months ago, I posted a tutorial for making a simple ribbon bracelet with just a bit of ribbon and ribbon crimps to finish the ends.

It was such a fun and easy project, I decided it would be a great demo to share with the folks who visited the Renaissance Ribbons booth at their Quilt Market and Quilt Festival.  While demoing, Edith Minne, owner of Renaissance Ribbons filmed this video.

You can tell she caught me by surprise, but it will give you an idea of how quick and easy it is to make one of these bracelets.  They were a bit hit in Houston.  Between Quilt Market and Festival, I must have made hundreds of them.  They look great made with any ribbon, and you embellish them further with buttons or beads or other trims.

Check out the ribbons at the Renaissance Ribbons store.  You’ll only need about 6″ – 8″ to make a bracelet.  And look for the crimps and clasps at Twilight’s Fancy or Fire Mountain Gems.

Talkin’ Ribbon with Pat Sloan on the Radio

I am thrilled to be invited to be a guest on American Patchwork & Quilting Radio with Pat Sloan.  We’ll be live on the air tomorrow, Sept 10, at 4pm Eastern time, so please join us if you can.  I love to listen to Pat’s online radio show, especially when I am working on a project in my workroom.  It always feels like a bunch of quilting and sewing friends have stopped by for a visit…kindred folks sharing their passions and discoveries.

Pat and I are going to talk about my book, The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts, with special emphasis on my favorite section – Sewing with Ribbons.  Since the book was written, I have continued to experiment with a variety of sewing and quilting projects that are enhanced with a touch of ribbon.  I plan on sharing some tips for sewing and quilting with ribbons and also on my Lazy Log Cabin Patchwork technique.

Lazy Log Cabin Ribbon Patchwork Pillow made with Anna Maria Horner ribbons by Renaissance Ribbons

The show airs live on Mondays at 4pm Eastern time, but you can click on the replay button below and listen to it anytime.  I hope you can join us live or anytime you need a little company as you work on your projects.  It’s such fun to be a part of this great big friendly sewing and quilting world.  Lovely to know we are all just a click away.