Friday, December 5, 2014

Sturdy Fabric Basket Tutorial

Goodness, I am just so excited to share this little project! I'm a storage and organization junkie, and of course I love fabric, so combining the two just puts me in a happy place. Making sure my surroundings are pretty and make me feel happy and inspired is on the top on my list (what list, no idea, but it's important). 

When I got my hands on this bundle of the new line Westwood by Monaluna, I knew I needed all these little critters hanging out with me everyday so I decided to make some storage baskets.

These baskets are really quick and easy to make and are fat quarter friendly (the largest piece you need is 17x15 so pull out those big scraps)! They are made sturdy with a layer of Peltex, but can also be made soft using fusible fleece or batting. You could even very easily sew this entire project by hand with no problem.

The handles shown here are made from a thrift shop leather belt I bought for 50¢ but you can also use scraps of leather (or pleather!). I love to deconstruct old bags, pouches, wallets and other various things I find for cheap to use on other projects. The handles can also be left off if you prefer.

I already have one hundred and one uses for these baskets in every room of my house, but right now I plan to make a bunch to fill with goodies and give as gifts! Aside from the holidays, you can fill one with food items and take to the host of a dinner party, baby items for a shower, fabric for ME… errr… I mean a friend. Shall I go on?

You can download a PDF of the pattern by clicking the image >

I hope you enjoy this pattern! If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or email me anytime. I'm on instagram as lillyellasworld - please tag me if you make one, I'd love to see it! You can also use the hashtag #sturdyfabricbasket.

And because I'm just curious I have to know, which do you like the better, the owls or the deer?!

Happy sewing, friends! ~nicole

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

EPP Table Topper Pattern

This pattern, or something like it, may very well exist somewhere in the world. But with my 25th & Pine charm pack in hand, I went searching for a small EPP pattern that would be relatively quick and had no luck, so I just drew one up. 

I am by no means an english paper piecing expert and everyone has their favorite methods, so I'm just sharing my pattern templates here rather than a full tutorial. I will, however, provide some links to other tutorials for anyone who is new to EPP and explain how I finished my piece. The great thing about it is that all you need is fabric, a needle and thread – no sewing machine or experience is necessary. 

This pattern creates a piece that is 9.5" wide and is designed to be charm square friendly (5" fabric squares). You can get two center kite pieces from one charm square and more of the smaller pieces, but I used 5 white, 5 red and 5 green charms to create my piece. This pattern is also great for scraps, the biggest piece you need is about 2.5 x 5, but the templates can also be printed larger or smaller to create a different sized finished piece.

I made mine into a little table topper (isn't it the perfect little mini tree skirt?!), but it would also be nice used on a pillow, as a trivet or on a bag. You can download a PDF of the templates by clicking the image below. You will need to print two sheets so you have ten of each shape. 

I thread basted my pieces because I just haven't gotten the swing of the whole glue basting thing yet, but that would certainly work, too. When sewing my pieces together, I followed the order shown below.

To finish my piece I removed the papers and cut a piece of batting to the exact size of my piece (you could also use insulbrite if you wanted to make a hot pad). I then unfolded the outer edges of the green pieces and pressed it well. I layered the piece and the batting and did some machine quilting on the center, but you could also do hand quilting or spray baste the batting in place and quilt after attaching the backing. I only wanted my quilting to show from the top.

I cut a piece of backing fabric slightly larger than my piece and placed the quilted top and back right sides together. I sewed around the outer edge, using the pieced top as a guide, with a 1/4 seam and left a couple inches open for turning. I trimmed the seam, turned the piece right side out and pressed. You could machine or hand quilt at this point if you wanted to see it from both sides. 

I decided to finish my piece with a blanket stitch around the edge using a DMC pearl cotton and I love the way it came out. This also closed up the area I left open for turning. And voila! All done.

Here are some tutorials on english paper piecing:
Craftsy - English Paper Piecing from Beginning to End
All People Quilt - English Paper Piecing
Flossie Tea Cakes - EPP, where to begin
YouTube video - How to Finish an EPP Project

And you can find a good tutorial on how to do a blanket stitch here.

I hope you enjoy the template! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email anytime.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Easy fabric christmas bulb ornaments

I recently saw this tutorial for fabric christmas bulb ornaments by Jennifer Jangles on instagram and knew it would be a perfect project for the pile of Monaluna Westwood scraps sitting on my cutting table! I love this fabric for so many different uses but I think it really makes a perfect non-traditional holiday fabric.

These little bulbs were really quick and easy to make and all you need is some fabric, ribbon and felt scraps. I pieced two fabrics for the owl one and the squirrel is just one piece of fabric. I stitched the ribbons on but you could also glue them in place. 

Then you simply sew two circles together leaving a gap for turning and stuffing and machine or hand stitch the felt caps in place with some twine or ribbon for hanging. So quick and easy and a great project for charm squares or scraps. I think these would be adorable to make as extra little gifts and use them as a topper when wrapping presents.

Fabrics used are organic cottons from the line Westwood by Monaluna, now available for presale at Pink Door Fabrics arriving in early December. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pattern Review: The Senna Tote

Im so very excited that my Senna Tote was chosen as a finalist in the amazing Purse Palooza event that Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness hosts each year! There were 22 bags chosen for voting from nearly 250 entries and I'm extremely honored mine is included! (Especially since I nearly lost my mind fussy cutting that star print for the handles :)

(Voting is closed but thanks to all who voted for me!)

This is a fabulous bag pattern and it was overall pretty quick and easy to sew up. The pattern is the Senna Tote by lbg studio for Willow & Co. You can purchase a PDF download here.

The size is perfect for an airplane carry on, a weekend getaway or for hauling around goodies at quilt market - which is how I christened mine! It's not too large to carry around on your shoulder for a day, and while I know some people love large purses, I think it's too big for that.

As you can see, the top folds over if it not fully stuffed, but opens up for plenty of stuffing space! There is a small pocket on the front (which you can easily add a snap to if desired) and a large pocket on the back that runs the full width of the bag. The bag is fully lined and the pattern includes a large dividable slip pocket, but you could easily customize this or add a zipper pocket, too.

I often find I need to change the layering or interfacing used on a bag to make it as sturdy as I want it, but I did not need to do that with this bag. I did, however, lengthen the handles which is something I always end up doing with bags. I wanted it to fit comfortably on my shoulder without digging up into my armpit. 

If you plan to carry this bag by the handles at your side and are not very tall, you will definitely want to take that into account if considering changing the strap length. You'll have to find the right balance between fitting it over your shoulder and carrying it in your hand without it dragging on the ground. I also found myself carrying it hung over my forearm, which worked out well.

Im considering trying something different on my next one, making shorter carrying handles and adding an adjustable, removable single shoulder strap. My mom suggested that if you are using it as a carry on, the shorter handles would make it easier to hook over the handle of your rolling suitcase when wheeling through the airport or to hang from a stroller if using as a diaper bag. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

Cutting and interfacing all the pieces of this bag took me much longer than sewing, but I was also cutting all directional prints or prints that required fussy cutting. I was deliberate in my placement of the arrows and where the full horse images would fall. Plus, I'm totally OCD, so there's that.

Sewing was quick and the only part I fussed with was the areas at the end of the zippers when sewing the bag together at the last step. Topstitching around the zipper wasn't too bad, I just didn't get all the way to edges, but I have seen a couple leave this step out with no problem.

You will need a machine that can handle thickness for the bottom portion of the bag, but there arent any tricky or tight places to get into.

Im planning to make another one with a leather bottom and straps and will share pics when it's done!

If you're making this bag and have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or email me anytime! (

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pattern Review: The Piper Misses Top & Dress

I can't remember where or when I first saw this top, but I was hooked at first glimpse of that adorable big bow on the back. This is the Piper Misses Top & Dress pattern by Violette Field Threads and you can find it here.

This is the third garment I have made, the first two being the Wiksten Tank and the Flirting the Issue Skirt which are very simple, so I thought it was time to step up my game with gathered sleeves and bust darts.

This pattern was definitely more complex than the other garments I've made, but overall I'd still call it easy. 

The pattern calls for regular seams (vs french seams) and to finish the raw edges with a zig zag stitch, if desired, or a serger. There is a simple gather on the shoulder and you use 1/4" bias tape around the neckline, which was tiny, but lots of pins and a slow stitch speed did the trick.

I made a muslin in medium to check the sizing and found it a bit large, but I was worried the small may be too small so I went with a hybrid in-between size. In the end it still came out a bit larger than I wanted, mostly in body width, so I will try a regular small next time but may need some adjustments in the armholes and placement of the bust darts because of my height and long torso. That being said, I think the pattern sizing runs a tad large. 

It isnt meant to be form fitting but the problem I found in having the width slightly too large is the shoulders are more likely to slide down because of the wide open back, so even though the fit throughout the body isn't as important, getting the proper width in the shoulder area seems to be.

I made this top using a polyester for the body with lace collar and bow accents. NEITHER were easy to work with, though I am very happy with the drape and feel. The polyester was slippery, similar to working with rayon, so it was hard to cut accurate pieces and required lots of pinning. Same went for the lace.

I wasn't able to finish the edges of the lace on my machine so I'm not sure how it will stand up to washing, but I did prewash the lace before making the top and I think it will hold up pretty well.

I found adding the sleeves to be the trickiest part for me. The technical skills required weren't difficult, but I did have a little steam coming out of ears trying to figure out the proper way to lay out all the pieces and attach the sleeves. Ultimately it's not complicated, but the photos in the pattern are too close up to see what you're actually looking at. At this step, the front is one piece but the back is in two pieces and they are attached at the should seams. It just takes a little logic and maybe simply more garment experience!

I made a couple minor changes along the way. First was the collar. The pattern includes a cute peter pan collar but I wanted to use the pretty scalloped edges of my lace so just did a little improv there and am so pleased with how it came out. I also shortened the top several inches. I found the length for the top as written in the pattern to be much too long for my preference and a little awkward. If I had made the length as specified, I would have had to modify the width at the bottom to fit around my hips and rear as it was tight before I trimmed and hemmed it.

The pattern includes a long sleeve option with gathered cuffs as well. I made the short sleeves as written though may shorten them to more of a cap, which is just a personal preference. Also, as the name indicates, the pattern includes instructions for making a dress, which I may just try!

Overall I am very happy with my finished top and will definitely be making another. I recommend checking your size with a muslin first, as this top was time consuming enough to want to get it right the first time! If you are unsure, try sizing down first. Between cutting and all the assembly steps, you can expect to spend the good portion of a day, if not a full day, working on it.

I love the look, feel and drape of the polyester and lace, but it was hard to work with. I wouldn't recommend a stiff or thick cotton because I think the body needs some movement, but any quilting cotton or voile would probably be lovely. The collar and bow also lend themselves wonderfully to creative fabric choices.

If you are adventurous and have experience with bias tape, this would definitely not be too difficult to attempt as a first garment pattern.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email

Happy sewing!

Monday, September 8, 2014

A new tote for Quilt Market

I had to do some selfish sewing yesterday to keep my mind of my horrible cramps and pounding headache (the joys of being a woman!), so I made a new tote to take to Quilt Market in October!

Overall this bag was fairly quick and easy to make, but it did take me all day because I was figuring most of it out as I went. If I were to make another it would probably take half the time, if even.

The design is based off the tutorial by Sara Lawson (Sew Sweetness) for the Sawyer Bag, which you can find here. I changed the size, interfacing/lining and added a front pocket (specifics below).

I wanted something big enough to hold my camera, a bottle of water, food for the monster (my belly), as well as whatever else I pick up along the way, but I didn't want to carry a beach bag on my shoulder all day. This bag ended up being about 13.5" square by 4" deep.

I cut my main panels 18"w x 17"h and increased the corner seam distance to 2" for a slightly deeper bag than the original. I cut the lining panels to the same width but 1" shorter on height so it wouldnt be bunchy inside.

I wanted it to be strong and sturdy so for the main outer panels I fused fusible fleece to my body fabric (robert kaufman rustica chambray) and then basted it to a layer of canvas. I used shapeflex interfacing on the lining and used a piece of peltex in the bottom of the bag. 

My old necchi handled the bulk like a champ, so as long as you have a machine that can handle thickness, it was easy to sew. No tricky corners or awkward maneuvering, just long straight seams. I'm very pleased with how it came out and would not change anything about the lining or interfacing next time.

I made the straps slightly wider and set them in 3.5" from my outer edges before assembling the bag. I wanted to see a little more body from the front (the original has the straps at the edges of the bag.) I also adjusted the length to my preference.

I only added an outer pocket on one side, mostly because I wanted to finish the bag in a day, but I also like the simplicity of it without a pocket. Realistically I'll always have one side against my body so wouldn't use it much anyways.

I had the metal rings on hand and love how they look but you could use different shapes (such a D rings or rectangle rings) or even leave them off completely and make one long strap without the split for the ring.

I used two fat quarters I had on hand (fabric is Harmony by Jessica Swift) for the lining and added a divided slip pocket. If I had more time or patience I may have added a zip pocket on the other side of the lining, but for the purpose of this bag, I don't think I'll miss it.

I'm just in love with this chambray. I want to make all the things out of it and a skirt is definitely next on the list. The outer pocket fabric is from the Botanics line and the strap is Indelible. The combination of patterns and textures just makes my heart sing.

What do you think? 

Have a great week friends!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Name it & Win > My Vintage Pyrex Cozy Pattern

Boy, I've been busy. I know, what else is new? So many fun things are coming soon including a new line of jewelry designs and my first line of sewing patterns! I'm working on dividing lillyella into two 'divisions' (I feel so important), working on new logos, new websites, a new blog.

But in the meantime I'm just gonna jump right into a peak at my line of patterns to make insulated carriers for vintage pyrex dishes. I've wanted to create these for awhile now and am so excited to finally be here. 

As usual, I'm stumped on a name, so who remembers my Name Game? it was always so fun (and successful!) so, let's get it on! 

Read on to learn more about the pattern and leave a comment below with your name idea or ideas (limit 2 per person). If I pick your name, you'll win copies of the entire line of patterns and maybe even a piece of vintage pyrex :)

These carriers are made with an insulated inner layer, like a pot holder, so they keep hot food hot and cold food cold and are perfect for transporting to a picnic, potluck or dinner party. They fold up flat for easy storage and snap together tight on the sides and top to securely hold the dish.

The first pattern released will be for the 475 and 474 round casserole dishes and then for the 043 and 045 oval casseroles, the 024 bowls with two lid styles, the divided one and a half quart casserole dish and the rectangular space savers.

I have a handful of ideas but none have really screamed at me yet, so I'm excited to see what all your creative brains come up with! The contest will be open thru Friday, August 29.

If you have any trouble leaving a comment from a mobile device, you can email me your entries to or you can enter on my instagram post starting tomorrow (Aug 26). 

Thank you and have fun!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

In the Kitchen: Crockpot Tikka Masala

I'm a HUGE fan of indian food. Especially in the form a buffet when I can consume copious quantities of a variety of dishes. This recipe is one of my favorites, but even if you haven't tried much indian cuisine or think everything is overly seasoned with curry, be adventurous and give this a try. Trust me, it's different! The longer my husband and I are together, the more adventurous he gets with his eating, but even he, who would never willingly go to an indian restaurant, has this recipe close to the top of his favorites list.

The ingredient list may look daunting, but this recipe is easy and I love the flexibility. When the husband is around, I make it with chicken, vegetables and potatoes and that is how I have shared the recipe below. When it's just me, I typically leave out the meat. You can also make it with just the chicken alone and no vegetables.

1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 - 6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T fresh ginger, minced
1 (29 oz) can of tomato puree
1 1/2 C plain yogurt
2 T olive oil
2 T garam masala spice mic
1 T (slightly heaped) cumin
1.5 t paprika
2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t black pepper
1 t cayenne pepper
6 skinless chicken tenderloins, cut into large chunks* (optional)
2 -3 potatoes, diced (optional)
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas (optional)
1 cup chickpeas (drained and rinsed, optional)
1 cup heavy cream
2 T cornstarch
chopped fresh cilantro, for topping

Place the first twelve ingredients (thru the spices) into your crockpot and stir to combine. If making with chicken and/or potatoes, add them now (raw) and stir gently to mix in. Add the bay leaves and push down into mixture.

*The chicken will get very soft while cooking and start to shred apart, keeping the raw pieces a bit large than 'bite sized' helps keep them together better. 

Cover and cook for 8 hours on low (or 4 hours on high).

When done, whisk together the cream and corn starch and pour into the crockpot along with the peas and chickpeas and gently stir. Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes.

Serve over basmati rice with fresh cilantro and a side of naan and enjoy!

This meal makes a ton of food, but we eat it two or three times over a couple weeks and I freeze the rest. The consistency is a little different after freezing and reheating, but it doesn't affect the taste at all.

> Click here for a printable recipe card

Monday, February 17, 2014

tutorial: modifying a two way metal zipper {perfect for the noodlehead cargo duffle}

I've been doing a really good job accomplishing the goals I set for myself lately (probably because they have all been crafty and fun, but… still counts for something in my book). I saw the nooodlehead cargo duffle bag pattern last year and immediately put it on my to-do list. With holiday gifts finished and the encouragement (and 24/7 on-call help) of my friend, Sandra, it was game on!

I hope to finish my bag this week (update: finished my first one, pics below, more to come!) and will write more about the project then, but in the meantime I wanted to share a little tutorial. While browsing pictures of other peoples' bags, I came across this post on Thread Riding Hood on how to modify a two-way zipper to open from the center, but it only applied to a plastic zipper and mine was metal.

Since I had extras, I decided to try an experiment which happily ended in success! (Those are the best kind of experiments, aren't they?).

The cargo duffle I'm making calls for a 26" coverall zipper, but this tutorial would work on any length two-way zipper for any type of project, as long as the teeth are the same on both sides.

A coverall zipper is made for just that, coveralls, and is a two way zipper designed to unzip from both ends. Since I'm not usually hangin' out in coveralls, I most typically see this type of zipper on coats (which I think is SUPER handy, by the way).

But when it comes to a bag, it's much more convenient to have the zipper open from the center, so here's how to do it. You'll need a pair of side cutters, or similar small wire cutters with a pointy end, and needle nose pliers. (Click on any photo for a larger view.)

I was able to modify this zipper because the teeth are the same on both sides, as I mentioned. I'm no zipper expert, but it's my understanding that this is not the case with all zippers so be sure to check before tearing one apart.

The first step is to remove the stoppers from both ends.

They are clamped down pretty darn tight (which I guess is a good thing) so this was harder than I expected it to be, but it just takes a little elbow grease and patience.

Start by carefully wedging the tip of your cutters under one side of the metal stopper and clipping off little bits of metal at a time. Be careful not to snag or cut the fabric tape.

Keep snipping away until you loosen the clamp enough to pull the stopper from the tape. Once it is free on one side, you should be able to slide it up and off the other side. If it is too tight, repeat the same process of clipping the metal away until it's free.

The stoppers on the other end are thicker, but are also easier to pry off. First wedge the tip of your cutters underneath and try snipping. If the metal is too thick for your cutters, a bit of wiggling and prying should loosen the clamp enough to be able to pull it from the tape.

Repeat on the other side.

Once the stoppers are removed, move the sliders toward opposite ends so the zipper is closed and pull one slider off as shown above. It doesn't matter which one.

The opposite end of your zipper will still have the other slider attached. Keep it on and pull it down to open the zipper a bit.

You will now put the loose slider you removed onto this end (toward the slider still on the zipper) by inserting the ends of the fabric tape into the channels of the slider and pulling it down until it catches the teeth, making sure they are lined up.

And Voila! Both your sliders are back on and your zipper now opens from the center.

Depending on your use for the zipper, this may be your final step, but be aware that the sliders are free to come off either end. If you are not sewing your ends into your project or if you have large gaps, you'll want to make a tack stitch at the ends of the teeth or sew a piece of fabric onto the tape ends.

In the case of the cargo duffle that I'm making, one huge bonus of this modification is that I can take my zipper apart and sew the two sides on independently without having to maneuver around the sliders or deal with the bulk. Go ahead, pump your fist in the air and yell awesome!

If you do this, I recommend marking the ends of your tapes so you can put them back together properly. Technically, the teeth will go back together either way and there is no top, bottom, front or back with this specific zipper, but the length of the fabric tape is different on the two ends so they will be uneven if not matched up the same.

Once you're done sewing, you just slip your sliders back on either end toward the middle and huzzah! Magic.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful! If you have any questions, just leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer them.

Thanks for visiting and happy sewing!


Since writing this post I have finished my first cargo duffle, hooray!

I certainly hit a few hiccups along the way and learned some important things to change and modify on the next one, such as adding zipper tabs on the sides, reinforcing the handles and using sturdier interfacing, but for my first bag project EVER I'm so thrilled with the results! I'm almost finished with my second duffle so will share more then.

p.s. I'm lillyellasworld on instagram if you'd like to follow and see my progress!

{Fabrics used: Main body, bottom accent and pocket flaps are Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements - Melange and Ticking Stripe. Pockets and handle accent are Robert Kaufman Quilters Linen in taupe}