Kevin MacLeod made a great video showing how to make origami folded fabric ornaments. Thanks to his video I’ve been having a blast making Christmas ornaments! Take a look and then come right back for my tips below.
1. Pre-wash your fabric. I know, I can hear the moaning already. If you pre-wash (and iron) you don’t have to pin anything. Because pre-washed cottons slide less than un-washed cottons.
2. Pick two, freshly pressed, coordinating Christmas fabrics and place them right sides together on a flat surface. If the selvage edges are still intact, make sure they are lined up. If they’ve gone missing, figure out where the straight of grain is and line up both fabrics so that the straight of grain is running the same way in both fabrics.
3. Flip your lid (or your mixing bowl) rim side down and trace around with a super very thin permanent pen. (You read that correctly. Permanent.) Permanent pen lines will be cut off and what little might remain won’t bleed if the pen is permanent. Then trace some more circles because you’ll want to make lots of ornaments. The lines you are tracing CAN TOUCH. In fact, they probably should, so you can save fabric. (You’ll see why shortly.)
4. (If you didn’t pre-wash/dry you get to pin now. All over. Lots of pins. Nasty, pointy pins. Be careful.) Dial down your stitch length a notch, and sew 1/8″ from the marked line on the inside of the circle. A shorter stitch length and narrower seam allowance make for a smoother, rounder edge. When you turn the disk right sides out, the seam allowance will have shorter and less noticeable pleats. (The marked line is your cutting line.) Go ALL THE WAY AROUND leaving no opening. OH MY! Is she for real?! YES! Do you want to tuck in a 1/8″ seam allowance and blind stitch it shut? Me neither.
5. Do the folding thing in the video to find dead center. (I know, we’re still inside out.) Mark dead center on both fabric with the dreaded permanent ink pen. I hope it oozes through the fabric because you’ll be looking for the marks on the right side of the fabric.
6. Make a 1″ slit in ONE fabric 1″ away from the marked dead center, like this. The fabric you slit will NOT be the one that slips over the ornament corners. The slit will be on the back of the ornament cleverly concealed by something I have not not yet revealed.
7. Turn disk right-side out. Push out seam allowance with chopstick. Lick your fingers and wiggle the two fabrics back and forth at the seam to draw out any hidden creases. You can also pick them out with a pin.
8. Fold disk again, as in the video, to make hard creases that evenly divide it into quarters. (Pins take over for creases in humid weather or if you’re dragging this project around for a while.) Sew a button to the non-slit side, dead center. Shank buttons are the best. If you don’t have a button with a shank, go get one. Or make a thread shank. Sew with stiff, sturdy thread like Coats & Clark hand quilting thread. Knot off the thread after sewing on the button, but LEAVE A VERY LONG TAIL. (Can you see how old my thread is? $.91 WOW! And did you notice I forgot to stitch decoratively about 1/8″ from the edge? I think I’m OK with that.)
9. With the thread from sewing on the button exiting the top fabric at the button shank, pick a pin, any pin (or creased side). Spear it just like Kevin did in the video and pull it all the way to the button shank, taut. Take a stitch in the fabric right next to the thread shank to anchor it.
10. Moving clockwise or counter-clockwise (whichever is most comfortable) take a tiny stitch to anchor the thread on the next side of the button very, very near the shank and pierce the next crease. Bring it to the button. Take a stitch as before to anchor it.
11. Repeat with the last two creases, take thread to the back and knot off. You can make as big a mess as you want with the knot on the back. The knot and the slit will be covered.
12. Press the sides, then fold over and nail the point with your iron. Steam is good.
13. Make the final flips like Kevin showed. Press.
14. Flip the ornament over and cut a square of Sticky Template Plastic (STP) that is it 1/4″ smaller than the ornament. The STP insert will be covered in fabric and inserted down in Step #17.
15. Peel off the release paper, stick it on the wrong side of a piece of matching fabric and, with a rotary cutter, trim the fabric a hefty 1/4″ beyond the edge of the plastic.
16. Cut strips of STP 1/2″ wide by 1/2″ LESS than the width of the square above. In a two-step process, stick an STP strip to the right side of the fabric, and then wrap the fabric to the wrong side and press the STP to secure it. Don’t worry about the mess in the corners.
17. Center the insert on the back of the ornament and then finish as Kevin suggested with a hanging cord or thread. The fabric-covered STP straightens up the ornament nicely, gives it a little heft, and lets you dress up the “back end.”
18. Insert something to hang the ornament with, like Kevin showed in the video. I settled on 11″ of red pearl cotton #5 and used a big fat needle.
19. Now what? Use a gel pen or permanent pen to sign and date your ornament, or write a little message to the recipient. Maybe before you slapped the STP on the fabric you could have embroidered something? Next time. Here’s another idea: tape a length of ribbon to the non-fabric side of the STP and tie a gift card to the back of the ornament. See how nicely it tucks into the corners for extra security? Fuse or sew a QR code to the STP insert. Upload a video, photo, or favorite recipe to be accessed with the QR reader on your smart phone.
The original post for this awesome ornament came from a woman in New Zealand. Click here to read Katrina’s Tutorials blog.
Get Sticky Template Plastic here.
Get fusible or sew-on QR codes (with subscription to cloud storage included) here.
Here’s the first quilt created in the “Old Dogs, New Tricks” series. Pretty basic stuff. I’m just getting my feet wet. I added a blue border and bound it with a 1/4″ binding. It measures about 14″ square.
1. Believe it or not, I don’t ever recall making a bias binding using striped fabric with the stripes at an angle. I love striped binding, but I usually run the stripes perpendicular to the edge of the quilt. So, I figured if I couldn’t remember doing a bias stripe binding with the stripes at a 45 degree angle, it was about time I did it again. Or for the first time. Amazing how much more waste there is cutting bias strips. I do like the way the hot pink binding pulses around the quilt.
2. I wanted to see if I could stop quilting exactly 1/4″ from the edge of the quilt, so that the binding would touch the last stitch but not go beyond it. Not sure why that was a goal, but it’s not a very good one. I would have done better to sew off the quilt like I usually do. (I was “off” in as many places as I was “on.”) Discovering what doesn’t work is also learning.
3. I rarely quilt along a color change in a piece of fabric, but I knew I had to try with the blue on green stripe in the background. In the picture below you can see where my quilting strategy left a bit to be desired, but you can see I did OK quilting right next to the line in the border fabric. (Click the picture to enlarge it.)
I’ll be including these also. What’s old to me might be new to you.
1. I pay special attention when I join binding strips (both to grow the binding long enough to fit all the way around the quilt, and where I join the two tails). I try to camouflage the joins by putting the seam in the same stripe or color on both pieces of fabric.
Below is the final join, sewing the two tails together. I leave about 6 or 8 inches un-sewn and fold one tail up and the other down to form the miter. The ruler helps me make sure that the folds are really at 45 degree angles.
I fold and re-fold, moving the folds in the tails along until I get to a place in the fabric in both pieces that is the same color.
When I’m satisfied, I bring the folds almost touching and hit them with the iron.
(The weight of the iron compresses the folds so they do touch.) Then, I mark a line in the valley of each crease (sewing line) and another line 1/4″ away toward the end of each tail (cutting line).
Then I pin the ends…
… and stitch on the marked line that was in the crease.
I know there are other ways to do this, but I like the control of positioning the seam exactly where I want it with regards to the color in the striped fabric.
By the way, when I make cross-grain binding (not bias) I butt my joins. It’s much easier to camouflage the seams when they are not at an angle. I don’t mind the extra bulk and I’ll tell you why in a future post. (I’m running out of room!)
2. All my Old Dogs will be wearing buttons for eyes. Buttons with shanks look more like eyes, but after you sew them they tend to flop around quite a bit. So, I don’t sew them. I safety-pin them on.
I’m developing a new workshop called Beautiful Basic Binding for Beginners. I know; that’s a lot of B’s. Apparently I’m into alliteration. In preparation for my “guinea pig” class this spring I needed samples. I had originally thought of putting some really nice bindings on pre-quilted muslin squares (ick) but I just couldn’t bear to waste my time on it. So then, naturally, I went into “overkill” mode and thought I’d make five or six new quilts just for the class.
After a shor while my sanity returned and I decided to pilfer blocks from a UFO and turn them into some smaller quilts, which I thought I might actually be able to finish in time for the class. Great plan! I got most of the mini quilts done, showed the rest “in progress,” and pulled about 75 pounds of quilts from around the house for a killer Show & Tell. (I was teaching in my @Home Classroom, after all.)
Well, the class came and went, and I learned a lot! More on that some other time. Today I want to share the deconstruction of the UFO, what has become of the blocks, and why I am so excited about this project.
At first I thought it was a little sad. I had spent quite a bit of time making the blocks, and sashing them together. I had also gone a little around the bend painting all the white dots in the border fabric purple. (The white stuck out.) Plus I had the backing fabric already pieced and the batting cut to just the right size. Should I have let sleeping dogs lie? Not with a seam ripper so close at hand. Besides it fit no known bed and was too large to hang on a wall. And, remember, I was on a mission.
I may have backed into this particular project for all the wrong reasons, but it is turning out to be quite exciting. At first, my plan was to take one block, border it, and bind it. Done; next? But, as I sewed I kept thinking what a great opportunity this was turning out to be.
First, I was working in a “series,” like all great artists are supposed to to. Variation on a theme and all that. I’m sure it’s in the Great Artist Bylaws somewhere. I have never worked in a series. (Sitting up a little taller in my chair as I write this now.)
Second, it was so much fun thinking of all the different ways I could bind each little quilt that I started thinking of all the different ways I could border the quilts too! YES! This is getting REALLY fun now!
Third, as long as I was going to bind them and border them I realized that I should probably quilt them too. How many different ways could I come up with to quilt them?
Finally, I could share all the quilts one at a time here on the blog so that I could challenge YOU to play along with me. Aren’t you glad you’re reading this?
So lets recap, what do we get to learn, practice, experiment with, and have fun doing? Bordering, Quilting, AND Binding! Why am I so jazzed? We’re talking small quilts here. Small is “do-able.” Small is manageable. Small is why not take a risk and try something you’ve never tried before. What’s the worst that could happen?
Comment below if you want to join this Old Dog and learn some New Tricks with me. Don’t worry, I won’t hold you to anything and, as with all my challenges, you can embrace them or ignore them—no guilt either way.
The Old Dogs/New Tricks Challenge will begin officially with the next blog. If you have any suggestions, let me have them in the comments below. Just remember I get to embrace or ignore them too. Fair is fair.
My granddaughter spits up a lot and might be starting to teethe. She goes through a lot of bibs. Most bibs are too small, too thin, and the plastic backing rips and tears after multiple trips through the washing machine and dryer. Fastening a bib at the nape of the neck requires a third hand. Velcro is nice, but the hook part sticks to everything in the wash if the dirty bib isn’t closed before it hits the washer. Cheap/fake hook and loop closures lose their “stick” pretty quick. A good bib is large, absorbent, waterproof, adjustable, easy to put on and take off, and easy to wash. Good luck finding one that meets all the criteria. It’s a good thing we can sew!
The “Perfect Bib” Tutorial
2. Trace or photocopy the bib to get the pattern. I used the copy button on my printer and then copied the bib in two sections. Then I taped them together. Two sheets of Sticky Template Plastic covered the pattern with some to spare.
Just peel off the release paper, place the sticky side down on the photocopy, and press. When using two sheets, as in this project, butt the long sides of each sheet together so there are no gaps. Cut two rectangles 1/2″ wide from the leftovers and stick those over the join to keep the template from bending. If I were making just one bib, I would use the paper pattern, but making a sturdy plastic template means I can trace the shape instead of pinning the paper to use as a pattern. It’s faster and more accurate. (Replace the release paper on the sticky part of the template plastic not touching the paper pattern to save it for another time.)
4. Place the plastic template on the wrong side of the PUL fabric and trace with a ball point pen. Easy peasy.
5. Place the PUL fabric on top of bib front, right sides together. You can purchase terrycloth by the yard for the bib front or up-cycle hand and bath towels. The higher quality the terrycloth, the more absorbent the bib. Pin all the way around. (Don’t worry about pin wholes in the PUL fabric. A hot dryer will close them.) Don’t forget to mark an opening through which you will turn the bib right-side out.
6. Sew on the marked line, leaving an opening. I backstitch several times at the beginning and end so the stitches won’t come out when I turn the bib right-side out. Cut 1/4″ from the stitching. Clip inside curves.
7. Turn the bib right-side out and press. Turn under the opening and clip. Baste opening closed.
It’s me, Scooter. I did a bad thing. I wanted to go out last night, you know, to be OUTSIDE. There are things outside that I like. One of them was furry and soft with a long tail. Mom couldn’t see it, but she didn’t know where to look either. I was barking at it through the “slide-y” door. Mom wanted to go to bed and that means I had to go out one last time. She was afraid I’d chase the thing out there so she hooked me up to the 50-foot leash. We do that sometimes.
The other end of the leash is hooked to a big eye screw in the part of the deck that isn’t attached to the rest of the deck. It is just a platform to step on because the deck is lower than the house. There’s a handrail on it. Dad is the only one who can move it because it is very heavy.
As soon as Mom hooked the leash to my collar, I did the bad thing. I took off running. She tried to hold the leash to slow me down, but I was running real fast. She let go because the leash was going through her hands so fast it was starting to spark.
Fifty feet is a long leash. Mom yelled the whole length of the leash at me to STOP! But I wanted to visit with the furry soft thing that has a long tail. And it was running away from me and that made me want to run faster.
Then I came to the end of my leash.
Mom was standing on the deck part that isn’t attached to the rest of the deck and now it isn’t attached to the rest of the deck even more than usual. About 3 feet more than usual. Dad estimated that the deck that isn’t attached to the rest of the deck plus Mom has to weigh at least 200 pounds. I weigh about 70. (There is a math story problem in there somewhere.)
Mom was still standing after I dragged the deck. But the furry soft thing with the long tail started to run again. So I ran again too. Mom wasn’t expecting to surf the deck a second time so she kind of fell backwards. Luckily, “Old Flamingo Legs” caught herself in time and was still vertical when I remembered, again, that I was still attached to the part of the deck that isn’t attached to the rest of the deck. Her left foot stepped back and then down. Way down. To the part of the deck that didn’t move. Now her left leg doesn’t move like it used to.
Most importantly I am fine. I can still bark as loud as ever. Neither of my eyes popped out of my head. My neck isn’t kinked. There are no black and blue marks between my fur hairs (Mom checked) and I seem to be as perfect as I was before.
I am hoping my friend is in the back yard again tonight!
As a quilter, I think it’s appropriate that I’m “on pins and needles,” don’t you? At this moment, we are Due Date Minus THREE Days. We’re having a baby!
No idea if it’s a boy or a girl, we’re just praying for healthy with the full complement of fingers and toes. Sweet anticipation. Jennie and Craig, you’re going to be a wonderful parents. I can’t stop smiling.
And for the record, the quilt was finished before the baby arrived—with matching crib skirt, assorted crib sheets, puddle pads, and receiving blankets.
I did have help. Inspiration for the baby’s first quilt came from a tutorial by Jennifer Grigoryev. I used 6″ white squares, so the scale is a little larger.
I used gray thread for the quilting (to match the walls). And, I’m particularly happy with the little sliver of turquoise in the binding. It’s sewn in, not a flange. (Images get bigger when you click them.)
Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions on what to make for the baby. I’ll share what I learned soon. And if you don’t hear the shrieks of delight when the baby is born, I’ll blog and put it in my newsletter for sure.
Zoey Bea was born on October 12, 2014. She weighed 5 pounds, 11 ounces. She is just a smidge over half a yard long–my little Fat Quarter.
I love the ceramic Bohin marking pencils. They make a thin, perpetually sharp line that I can see. The line stays on just long enough to quilt or applique through. And, it totally comes out with a light wash or by erasing.
With Bohin refills (6 of each color per pack) I have my choice of white, gray, pink, green, and yellow, depending on the fabric I’m marking.
I’m including a BIC mechanical pencil with each color refill I sell on my web page until I run out.
Here’s how to make Pencil Pocket to keep them all organized. (Click images.)
Step #1: Remove the Pencil Lead
Push the eraser on top of the pencil several times to advance the lead that comes inside the pencil. When you’ve got enough poking out the tip to grab onto, about 1/2″, push the eraser down and hold it down. Yank out the lead. Gently twist off the eraser and dump the other two leads out. Then insert the Bohin ceramic leads from the container. The pencil will hold all 6. Replace the eraser.
Step #2: Cut Fabric
Find two coordinating fabrics, one for the outside of the Pencil Pocket, and one for the inside. (I picked a funky black and a wild pink.) Layer them right sides together. Cut both fabrics at the same time into two 5″ x 5″ squares. They’ll be ready to sew in the next step.
Step #3: Sew
With right sides together and raw edges even (you just cut them like that so they should be perfect) stitch 1/4″ from the raw edges with thread that matches either one fabric or the other. Leave a 3″ opening so that you can turn them right side out. (Backstitch at the beginning and ending to that the stitches won’t come out in the next step.
Step #4: Trim & Turn
Trim all four corners to reduce bulk. You’ll be cutting off a teeny tiny triangle from each corner. Then, reach into the opening and turn the two stitched squares right sides out. Push out the corners with your finger. If there is still fabric stuck in there, take the BIC mechanical pencil, push the eraser down, hold it down, and push whatever lead might be sticking out at the other end up and into the barrel of the pencil. Use the pointy end of the pencil to gently coerce the fabric out. Be careful not to poke the pencil through the fabric. Make sure the sides are fully turned as well. If they’re not popping out, stick a straight pin in the seam and carefully lift them out.
Step #6: Fold Twice
With the opening at the bottom (you’re right, it has not been sewn shut yet) fold the Pencil Pocket in half vertically. Then fold over the upper right corner diagonally until it meets the vertical fold as shown. Press.
Step #8: Sew & Finish
Refold the long vertical fold. Line up the edges along the bottom and right side. With thread that matches the “outside” fabric of the Pencil Pocket, stitch close to the edges, backstitching to secure ends, as shown. The stitching will complete the pocket as it closes the opening.
Now that you know how to make a Pencil Pocket, order your Bohin refills here. They come with the colorful mechanical pencils like you see here.