Choosing a Topstitch Style for Your Zipper Pouch

This tutorial is part of the “Build a Zip Pouch Series“, giving you the skills you need to sew custom zip pouches in a variety of styles and sizes. Links will be added to the series homepage (here!) as new tutorials go live.


There are an endless number of ways to sew a zip pouch. Each one serves a purpose and suits a style, but it can be confusing to figure out what combo of insertion and top stitching will work best for your pouch! In my Basic Zip Pouch Tutorial, I inserted the zipper by first stitching back the zipper ends so they wouldn’t be sewn into the side seams. Some people prefer to skip tacking back the ends and sew the full length of the zipper along the full width of the fabric, as shown below. That works too!

Simply line the entire zipper up along the fabric, and sew into place!
Here’s what it looks like sandwiched between the exterior and lining pieces.

Whether you choose to sew back your tabs or use the full length of the zipper, you’ll have another choice to make when it comes to the topstitching step. It’s important to not skip topstitching, since this is what keeps the fabric from getting caught in the zipper when you use your pouch. You do have three options to choose from, though! Each of these topstitching methods work regardless of how you inserted your zipper. However, the photos below show how the topstitching looks specifically on zippers inserted as shown above (without the ends folded back).


Option 1 – Topstitch the Exterior Only

When topstitching just the exterior fabric, the stitching will only be visible on the exterior of your finished zip pouch.

Best used when:
1. Your lining fabric is stretchy
2. The exterior fabric isn’t overly bulky/heavy
3. You just like the look 🙂

Topstitch:
1. Press the exterior fabric fold along the zipper edge with a hot iron (don’t touch the zipper teeth or they’ll melt!).
2. To sew the first side, flip the lining piece under the opposite side (as shown in the left photo below).
3. Sew through the exterior fabric fold 1/8″ away from the zipper edge, using a slightly longer stitch length.
4. Repeat Steps 2 & 3 with the other side.

Exterior fabric after topstitching just the exterior.
Lining fabric after topstitching just the exterior.

Assembly after topstitching:
*See the Basic Zip Pouch Tutorial for full assembly instructions.
1. Line the zipper sides up as shown below, with the zipper teeth towards the lining fabric. (Note: Just the exterior fabric will be folded over itself along the zipper.)
2. Make sure your zipper is halfway open!
3. Pin in place, then sew all the way around the zip pouch with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 1-2″ hole in the lining for turning.
4. Trim corners and seams as necessary, then turn right side out.


Option 2 – Topstitch the Lining Only

When topstitching just the lining fabric, the stitching will only be visible on the lining interior of your finished zip pouch.

Best used when:
1. Your lining fabric is not stretchy
2. The exterior fabric is bulky or heavy (i.e. heavy duty denim or a quilt block)
3. You just like the look 🙂

Topstitch:
1. Press the lining fabric fold along the zipper edge with a hot iron (don’t touch the zipper teeth or they’ll melt!).
2. To sew the first side, flip the exterior piece under the opposite side (Note: The zip pouch in the photos has two different exterior fabrics, one is white and the other is bleached denim)
3. Sew through the lining fabric fold 1/8″ away from the zipper edge, using a slightly longer stitch length.
4. Repeat Steps 2 & 3 with the other side.

Exterior fabric after topstitching just the lining.
Lining fabric after topstitching just the lining.

Assembly after topstitching:
*See the Basic Zip Pouch Tutorial for full assembly instructions.
1. Line the zipper sides up as shown below, with the zipper teeth towards the lining fabric. (Note: The lining fabric will be folded back over itself at the zipper.)
2. Make sure your zipper is halfway open!
3. Pin in place, then sew all the way around the zip pouch with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 1-2″ hole in the lining for turning.
4. Trim corners and seams as necessary, then turn right side out.


Option 3 – Topstitch both the Lining and the Exterior

When topstitching both the lining and exterior fabrics, the stitching will be visible on both exterior and lining of your finished zip pouch. If your lining and exterior fabrics are different colors and you want to use matching thread, match the top thread to your exterior fabric and the bobbin thread to your lining fabric.

Best used when:
1. You’re worried about excess fabric getting caught in the zipper
2. The exterior fabric isn’t overly bulky/heavy and the lining isn’t stretchy
3. You just like the look 🙂

Topstitch:
1. Press exterior and lining fabrics, wrong sides together along the zipper edge fold with a hot iron (don’t touch the zipper teeth or they’ll melt!).
2. To sew the first side, keep exterior and lining fabric wrong sides together. You’ll be sewing through 5 layers on each side (2 from a folded exterior, 2 from a folded lining, and 1 from the zipper tape).
3. Sew through the exterior fabric fold 1/8″ away from the zipper edge, using a slightly longer stitch length.
4. Go nice and s l o w l y with this method since you’ll see both sides of the stitching in your finished zip pouch!
5. Repeat Steps 2-4 with the other side.

Exterior fabric after topstitching both the lining and exterior.

Lining fabric after topstitching both the lining and exterior.

Assembly after topstitching:
*See the Basic Zip Pouch Tutorial for full assembly instructions.
1. Line the zipper sides up as shown below, with the zipper teeth pushed towards the lining fabric.
2. With this method, you will be sewing over more bulk at the zipper seam. Take it slowly and use a hump jumper if needed. (You can make your own “hump jumper” by using a folded piece of fabric or cardboard – no need to buy one!)
2. Make sure your zipper is halfway open.
3. Pin in place, then sew all the way around the zip pouch with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 1-2″ hole in the lining for turning.
4. Trim corners and seams as necessary, then turn right side out.



Here are all three options next to one another. Which do you like best? Is there one style you use the most in your sewing practice?


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Improv Patchwork Block Tutorial

This tutorial is part of the “Build a Zip Pouch Series“, giving you the skills you need to sew custom zip pouches in a variety of styles and sizes. Links will be added to the series homepage (here!) as new tutorials go live.

Sewing up improv blocks is one of my absolute favorite activities. It’s soothing because your seams don’t need to be perfect, it’s functional these blocks make your scrap bin dwindle, and it’s just plain fun to see how each one turns out! Read below for tips and suggestions for use, then get sewing using the tutorial as a springboard for your own creations!


Notes Before Starting:

  • Shape suggestions– The shape you start with at the center of your improv block will influence the final product. In the photos above, the pillow cover had a trapezoid (or wonky square, as I call it), the middle zip pouch had a hexagon, and the zip pouch on the right started with a square. Where you place the first piece determines how many layers you’ll end up with. I love to vary the size and placement of my center fabric.
  • Color suggestions– Scrap quilt blocks are the perfect time to play around with different color schemes. I like to use solid colors and let the piecing take center stage. Prints can work well, too, though, especially if you use colors that coordinate with the pattern. You can vary which fabric color you’re using by layer, as I did in the pillow cover above. Or you can place the colors randomly, as I did with the pencil pouch pictured above right.
  • Size suggestions– There size you choose to start with depends on a couple of things: the desired final size of your panel and how many layers you want in it. A smaller finished panel will start with a smaller piece of center fabric, a larger panel with a larger center piece. The only hard and fast rule is that you want it to be large enough to show after stitching with a 1/4″ seams allowance all around. Likewise for, the width of fabric used for each layer. A smaller width will require more layers to fill up the backing fabric. For small panels, my layers are generally 3/4″ – 2″ wide. For larger panels, they’re 2″ – 4″ wide. I like to vary the widths from layer to layer within the project.
  • Fabric type suggestions– Keep in mind the final use of the panel when choosing fabrics. A wall hanging or pillow cover can use heavier weight fabrics, while a zip pouch would be better off with medium to lightweight fabrics. To keep the seams from becoming too bulky the entire way through, vary the fabric weights between layers. When using stretchy fabric, consider interfacing with Pelon SF101 (or similar stabilizer) first. Only quilt layers that will not become distorted when quilted. For example, I do not quilt stretchy fabric layers or textured fabrics.
  • Suggestions for use– These panels can be used in a variety of ways. Pillow covers, zip pouches, wall hangings, tote bags, table runners, coasters, and more. Lightweight panels could even be pieced together to make a quilt.

Basic Instructions

Use this tutorial as a starting point to come up with your own ideas for improv patchwork panels!

1.

Gather your supplies. You’ll need scissors, scraps, and a piece of backing fabric (I use batting) approximately 1/2″ larger in length and width than the final dimensions you’re shooting for. The extra 1/2″ is important for squaring and trimming at the end, as the dense stitching can skew the backing fabric a bit.

2.

Cut a small piece of the fabric you’ve chosen for the center. The size will depend on the size of your finished block and style you’re going for. The only hard and fast rule is that you want it to be large enough to show after stitching with a 1/4″ seams allowance all around. Cut a straight square, a trapezoid, or pentagon. See above for how each starting shape ends up!

3.

I like to place my “center piece” slightly off center on the quilt batting/backing. Place it wherever you’d like, just make sure it’s right side up. Quilt over the center piece. The lines in this picture are approximately 1/4″ apart. You can do straight lines, zig zags, or curves. No need to backstitch.

4.

Starting on any edge of the center piece, lay another piece of fabric right side down on top, aligning the edges. You want this next piece to be approximately the same length as the edge of the center piece you’re working with. The width of this piece will depend on how wide you want the final layer to be (see size suggestions above). Sew along the aligned edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Make sure the pieces are right sides together.

5.

Press the top piece back. If desired, quilt along this fabric, parallel to the center piece. You do not need to quilt each layer. However, when you do quilt a layer, quilt each piece parallel to the seam (this ensures all loose threads will be covered in the end). See Step 13 for an example of a quilted layer.

6.

Repeat Step 4 with another fabric scrap that is similar in width to the one you just sewed. You’ll be moving around the center piece of fabric, sewing a new scrap to each raw edge. Each time you do this, you’ll be sewing not only on the center fabric edge, but also over the edge of the previously sewn fabric. (See Step 7 for an example of what I mean.) Make sure you sew directly adjacent to the previously added pieces, going either clockwise or counterclockwise. Press the sewn fabric back after each step.

7.

Here is the fabric from the Step 6 folded back so you can see where you’ll be sewing.

8.

Especially when working with a pentagon or uneven square as the center shape, the raw edges won’t line up exactly. Just make sure the raw edge of the new fabric is lined up with the shortest edge of the previous sewn fabric pieces. You don’t want any gaps of backing showing through!

9.

Press and trim as needed after sewing each individual piece. You want the widths of all the pieces in the layer to be similar, but they don’t need to be exact.

10.

When you reach the final raw edge of the center piece, you’ll be lining up the last fabric scrap along the edges of the first and most recently sewn scraps as well.

11.

Press back the final piece and the first layer is done! Remember: You don’t need to use the same fabric type for each piece in a layer, as I do here. You also don’t need to quilt each layer.

12.

Grab the fabric scraps for your second layer. Repeat Steps 4-12, lining up the raw edges and sewing clockwise or counterclockwise around whatever shape you’re working on. You can see in this photo how I trim each piece down as I sew.

13.

Press each new piece back and quilt as desired, making sure the quilting lines run parallel to the seam (this ensures all loose threads will be covered in the end).

14.

With a pentagon or uneven square as the center, there will be quite a bit of overlap as you sew each new piece.

15.

Make sure to line the raw edge of the new fabric scrap up with the most indented part of the previous sewn pieces.

16.

As you work closer to the edges the backing fabric, it’s okay to let the scraps hang off of the edges. They’ll be trimmed down later.

17.

Continue sewing each layer until the backing piece is completely covered. Trim down to the desired final size.

18.

Quilted panels are great for a variety of projects. I’ve used them for wall hangings, pillow covers, tote bag pockets, and, of course, zip pouches.


Check out the video below for a visual on how this process can look with a square starting block!


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Build a Zip Pouch Tutorial Series

I’m thrilled you found the “Build a Zip Pouch Series”! My goal is to help give you the skills you need to sew custom zip pouches in a variety of styles and sizes. Links will be added to the list below as each tutorial goes live.

Some links will take you to excellent tutorials on other sites. I didn’t see the need to write up something of my own where there are other great crafters out there who have already done it! Links change over time, so please let me know if you click on one that doesn’t work and I’ll remedy it as soon as possible :).

If you see something you’d like me to focus on first or a skill you’d like me to add to the list, send me a message!

I’m excited to sew with you ❤


Tutorial Links:

Basic Zip Pouch


Zipper Install Alternatives


Dimension Options


Exterior Design


Additional Options


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Basic Zip Pouch Tutorial

This tutorial is part of the “Build a Zip Pouch Series“, giving you the skills you need to sew custom zip pouches in a variety of styles and sizes. Links will be added to the series homepage (here!) as new tutorials go live.

A basic zip pouch pattern is great to master then use as a springboard into other custom pouches. At 8″ x 4.5″, this one is the perfect size for pencils, makeup brushes, or to organize smaller objects slipped into your purse. For a sturdy pouch, choose a midweight fabric for the exterior or quilting cotton weight fabric interfaced with a woven interfacing such as Pelon SF 101 (or another brand of a similar weight). Quilting cotton works well for the lining fabric.

Let’s get sewing.

Note: Looking for other sizes? Check out the Common Zip Pouch Sizes or Custom Zip Pouch Sizing posts for other dimensions!


Supplies.

Finished size: 8″ wide x 4.5″ tall

Exterior: (2) 9.25″ x 5″ pieces of midweight fabric (or lightweight fabric interfaced with Pelon SF101 if necessary)

Lining: (2) 9.25″ x 5″ pieces of light to midweight fabric

Zipper: 8″ zipper (zipper teeth will be 8″, but the full zipper tape should be approximately 9.25″ long)

Note: The goal is for the length of the zipper tape to be the same as the width of the fabric. If you have a different size zipper, simply cut your fabric pieces to be as wide as the zipper is long.


Process.

1.

Fold back all four ends of the zipper tape at approximately a 45 degree angle.  Use your machine to sew in place with a few stitches close to the edge of the tape (you may also hand baste).  *Note, you can choose to skip this step and leave the zipper full length, sewing the zipper ends into the pouch itself (see this post!).  However, I find that adding this step only makes for a cleaner corner after turning the zip pouch right side out at the end.

Here’s how I set up to sew this fiddly stitch to sew the ends down with my machine.

2.

The zipper will now be shorter than the exterior panel by approximately ¾”.  This leaves room to sew around the zip pouch later without having to sew over the zipper tapes ends!

3.

Place your front exterior piece right side up on your cutting surface.  Lay the zipper, pull to the left, right side down and centered on top of the fabric.  Baste in place, ⅛” away from the edge if desired.

4.

Lay one of the lining pieces right side down on top of the zipper (this makes the lining and exterior pieces right sides together). **I have the lining folded back here to show you how the layers should line up along the top edge.

Here’s how the “zipper sandwich” should look.

5.

Pin or clip in place along the edge.

6.

Using a zipper foot, sew through all three layers with a ¼” seam allowance.

7.

You will need to pause when you reach the zipper pull, lift up the presser foot, push the zipper pull back to open the zipper, then continue sewing to the end of the fabric.

8.

Open the fabric so both the right side of the lining and the right side of the exterior are face up.  With a hot iron, press the lining fabric down along the edge of the zipper tape.

9.

Fold the lining piece to the back side of the exterior so the wrong sides are together and the zipper tape pokes out the top. Using a hot iron, press along the top/folded edge of the exterior panel. Make sure not to touch and melt the zipper with the iron!

10.

Open the fabric zipper sandwich again (as in Step 8). Top stitch along the lining fabric, ⅛” away from the zipper tape.

Note: I top stitch only the lining when sewing zip pouches with quilted exteriors as the exterior fabric is too bulky for a decent top stitch.  Stitching the lining down keeps it from getting caught in the zipper.

11.

This is what the lining should look like after being top stitched into place.  Fold the exterior panel so lining and exterior are wrong sides together, as they appeared in Step 9. 

12.

Lay your back exterior piece right side up on the cutting surface.  Place your previously sewn zipper sandwich, zipper right side down on top.  Your exterior pieces will be right sides together at this point.

13.

Place your lining fabric right side down on top and pin or clip into place. 

14.

Sew through all three layers with a ¼” seam allowance as you did in Step 6 with the opposite side.

15.

Press the newly sewn lining piece into place and top stitch, as you did with the opposite side in Step 10.

Open the zipper halfway before continuing on the the next step!

16.

Place both exterior pieces right sides together and both lining pieces right sides together, zipper teeth towards the exterior fabric.  Line up the seams at the zipper.

17.

Pin or clip in place where the seams meet.

18.

Continue clipping around all four sides.

19.

Starting halfway along the bottom edge of the lining, backstitch, then continue sewing around the entire perimeter with a liberal ¼” seam allowance.  Stop stitching 2-3” from your starting point, leaving a hole for turning at the bottom edge of the lining.

20.

Trim your corners and seam allowance.

21.

Pull the zip pouch right side out through the lining hole.  Poke each corner out with a turning tool (or chopstick). You can stick your hand into the lining to make this part easier. 

22.

Pin or clip the turning hole closed and press into place.

23.

Sew the turning hole closed by stitching ⅛” away from the edge.

24.

Tuck the lining inside the zip pouch. You’re all done!


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Feed Sack Apron

I was thrilled last summer when my dad passed some old feed sacks on to me from the farm where he grew up. As is custom in my sewing practice, the sacks sat for a bit while I contemplated how best to use them.

Side note: Finding the best, functional use of a vintage or heirloom textile is important to me. Maybe some day I’ll share a list of of the questions I consider during the “pondering process”!

I settled on an apron for my brother for Christmas. He’s a baker, building beautiful breads from yeast he gathered himself, so I thought a sturdy apron that reminded him of his roots (and our potato roll baking grandma) would be a perfect mix of useful and sentimental.

Turns out feed sacks are just the right fit for an apron pattern!


Project Notes on Feed Sack Apron:

Pattern:

  • 1 Yard Magic Apron pattern, free from Sew Can She.
    • I’ve used variations of this pattern for at least a dozen aprons, so I knew I could modify as needed to make it a good fit for this project. You can always just trace an apron that works well for you and avoid printing out a pattern!

Materials:

  • Vintage feed sack (thanks Dad!)
  • Ticking (backing material) from a local antique shop
Faded feedsacks, but still in great condition. Yay!
My grandma mended this by hand many years ago! Swoon.

Method:

  • Examine and iron the feed sack as thoroughly as possible first. This will help you decide whether it will be a good fit for turning into an apron. Note holes and stains you’ll need to avoid.
  • To center the pattern on the front of the sack on the finished apron, cut directly down the middle of the back side of the feed sack and along the bottom hem to open it into a long rectangle of fabric.
  • Fold in half, centering the fold in the center of the logo/design, and place your apron pattern piece on top to check for placement before cutting. You can always make your apron longer or shorter depending on how much of the logo you’d like showing in the end.
  • Use the excess feed sack material as fabric for your ties as directed in the 1 Yard Magic Apron pattern. They’re nice and sturdy when folded bias tape style!
  • You can hem the feed sack as directed in the pattern if you feel your material is thick enough to be a functional apron on its own. I chose to use a backing piece instead and modify the pattern as follows:
    • Cut a backing piece the same size as the apron pattern.
    • With the feed sack pattern piece right side up, baste the apron ties in place and lay them towards the center of the fabric.
    • Place your backing material right side down on top of the feed sack piece and ties. Pin in place along all edges.
    • Sew around the perimeter with a 1/4″ – 1/2″ seam allowance, backstitching a couple of times over each tie piece. Make sure to leave a turning hole!
    • Trim the seam allowance as you’d like, then turn right side out. Iron the seams before topstitching all the way around, closing the turning hole as you stitch over it.

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Heirloom Doily Throw Pillow – Project Notes

When my mom called to ask if I’d like some lace tablecloths and doilies from my great aunt, I was thrilled! The origins of each specific piece are unknown, but some are rumored to have come over from Germany on the boat with my great grandma. Textiles with family history? Count me in!

I’m a big believer that heirlooms don’t do any good shut up in a box in the basement. Not each piece of history needs to be kept, but at least some of the ones that are should be proudly displayed or even made to be functional in a modern sense if possible. I set about deciding what to do with my “new” treasures.

My first thought was to make myself a Christmas tree skirt with one of the tablecloths and a stocking for myself. One of my kids caught me before I cut into the tablecloth, though, and her dismay at me repurposing it caused me to set the lacy fabric aside. I’ll ask her again in a couple of years if she still wants it when she grows up :).

I turned my attention, instead, to the doilies and my Christmas stocking plans. Never having sewn with doilies before, I wanted to try some out on a low risk project first- a simple throw pillow. Hopefully my “Heirloom Pillow” notes will help you tackle some lacy, doily projects of your own!


Project Notes on Heirloom Doily Throw Pillow:

Pattern:

  • 16″ square throw pillow with a covered zipper back (self drafted)
  • Zig zag applique method to attach doilies

Materials:

  • Faux suede remnant from Seattle Recreative
  • Ticking (backing material) from a local antique shop
  • Vintage doilies from my great aunt’s collection

Method:

  • If the doilies are crocheted, tatted, or otherwise stretchy, consider starting with a couple applications of spray starch for stabilization.
  • Once you decide on placement, use spray basing on the backside of each doily and affix to your fabric. This step makes a big difference when it comes to sewing! Since doilies have holes, just make sure to spray baste on a surface you don’t mind getting sticky. I used an old cardboard box.
  • It’s okay for the doilies to overlap if you’d like!
  • Sew the doilies to your fabric using a zig zag stitch. Go slowly, stopping to shift the fabric as necessary around the curves. If you use matching thread, you’ll be amazed at how the zig zag stitches disappear into the doily!
  • I used my open toe foot (that’s what I call it anyway!), so I could clearly see where the needle was going with each stitch. Because these doilies were large, I stitched around the outsides first, then did another round or two of stitching on the inner parts as well. When deciding where to stich the inner rounds, I chose the places that had the most yarn for my stitches to camouflage into.
  • You can see on the backside of the fabric below that I treated the doilies as one whole unit, stitching around all three, then adding more layers to make them extra secure on the pillow.
  • Once I was satisfied that the doilies would be secure on the throw pillow, I added a simple covered zipper on the backside and stuck an insert inside. This vintage ticking from a local antique shop was the perfect finishing touch.
  • Even if you look closely, you can barely see the zig zag stitching I used to attach the doilies. It really was that easy to nicely attach these lacy, stretch, heirlooms!

I’d love to hear if you’ve ever used doilies in your crafting endeavors or if you have an heirloom stash waiting for a purpose like I did!


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Patiently Preparing – Suggestions for a Simple Advent

I love Advent. The build up of anticipation until Christmas finally comes. Remembering the darkness, so that we can fully appreciate when the light bursts through. Patiently preparing our hearts and homes for the Christ child.

Yep. I love Advent.

Here are some of our family’s favorite ways to lean into the Advent season rather than getting caught up in the world’s rush to Christmas Day.


Decorate Slowly and Thoughtfully

We decorate for Christmas over the entire month of December. The nativities go out sometime the week after Thanksgiving, our tree and lights a week later, then our ornaments Christmas Eve. It’s a beautiful build up to the “big day” with less stress along the way.

Advent Calendars and Wreaths

A simple Advent calendar and accompanying devotions are a must for us. If my ideas get too big and involved (not that that ever happens 😉 ), we’re less likely to stick with them. Last year we discovered Jamie’s coloring Advent calendar at Pure Joy Creative. It was the perfect mix of simplicity and depth that we needed at this point in our family’s journey!

Advent wreaths are also important in our house. The ritual of lighting a candle each night, discussing it’s meaning, and fighting over whos turn it is to blow it out, is a meaningful one. You don’t need a fancy wreath, either. For the first several years of our marriage, I simply stuck candles in mugs! We also put up a paper Advent wreath in our windows, adding a flame each week. It’s a constant reminder to us and a glimpse to passersby of the Advent season.

Yes, we actually do put up a massive Advent “wreath” in our windows!

Listen to Music and Read Books of the Season

One way we keep the season present in our minds is by playing Advent music in the background of our days. Lutheran Public Radio is a great resource for this! Being dulcimer owners, we also enjoy “Hark, the Glad Sound,” by Owl Mountain Music.

Reading about Christmas the whole month before the day, is a sweet way to connect as a family and stay present during what can be a hectic time. Read Aloud Revival has great resources to help you find the best Christmas books for all ages in your home! As an aside, I step back from social media each December, giving me even more time for snuggling and reading :).

Create Traditions that Work for You

No family is the same as another. Instead of trying out each tradition and wondering if you should be doing each thing you see another family doing, find what works for you. Perhaps create a list of all of the events and things you usually do during the Advent season, then pare back to just the most meaningful ones.

For example, we don’t do Elf on the Shelf here or Shepherd on the Hill (or whatever other ones there are), because I know the added stress on me of remembering to creatively reposition the figure each night and isn’t worth it for our family. Other moms thrive on it, and that’s great too! You get to decide what works for you.

We also opt to send Epiphany or New Year’s cards each year instead of Christmas cards. I love sending and receiving holiday cards, but found that the stress of getting them our before Christmas really ate away at being able to fully prepare my heart during the Advent season. Once I realized I could send the cards a different time, a burden was lifted!

Cultivate an Awareness of Others

An important part of Advent in our house is trying to create an awareness of others in our children. Jesus was born to save the world, and we try to walk in that love for our brothers and sisters. Outside of the home, we do this by the kids carefully choosing and creating gifts/cards for the special people in their lives. We also choose a charity to donate to as a family. I’m open to more suggestions here!

Within the home, we choose “Secret Santas” the day after Thanksgiving. There are 7 of us, so there are enough people to go around! Secret Santas do special things for the person whos name they drew throughout December. Someone might sneakily clean her room or complete his chore or leave a sweet note on her bed. The week of Christmas, each kid gets a mini shopping trip with Mom or Dad to fill their person’s stocking. It’s a definite highlight of both Advent and Christmas for our family!

Another idea was shared by a friend of mine. His mom put a dark piece of construction paper on the fridge each Advent. Every time she caught one of her kids doing something kind to another, she put a gold star on the paper. By Christmas Day, the paper had transformed from a blank night sky to one filled with stars (and hope)!

The Most Important Part

Most importantly, though, you don’t need much of anything to celebrate Advent. You don’t need to host an open house, use a fancy Christmas countdown, send elaborate presents to everyone in your life, make sure your kids look perfect for pictures, bake beautiful cookies, or even send Christmas cards. You don’t need to do any of this if you don’t want to or it feels overwhelming, because Jesus. Simply turn your heart to Jesus. He’ll take care of the rest.


Together we can find more ways to reclaim fabric
and breathe meaning, joy, and life into our days.


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Words for Hand Embroidery

When I started sewing mostly with denim rather than printed fabrics, I wanted to find some way to add a more personal touch to my creations. Hand embroidery turned out to be the perfect addition! I love to add a bit of beauty and encouragement to the zip pouches and tote bags I sew up.

In anticipation of the Barnabas Bag pattern being released next month, here are some of my favorite phrases sized to fit perfectly on the tote’s 5″ square pocket. There are two files, one with block lettering and one with script lettering. Each file has eight unique phrases. You can resize and use these embroidery patterns anywhere that could use a little boost!

Tips for Use

Transfer the words to fabric using your preferred method.

The easiest way to transfer an embroidery pattern to denim is to use Sulky Solvy Stabilizer (or another washaway embroidery stabilizer). Simply print the pattern onto the stabilizer, stick it on your fabric, stitch over the pattern, and then rinse away the sticker. Of course, traditional transfer paper and/or pencils work well too.

Embroider using a simple backstitch.

When embroidering on denim or another heavier weight fabric, I use all six strands of embroidery floss. This helps the stitching stand out better. Use shorter stitches when going around curves. For more depth when stitching in cursive, use two overlapping backstitches on the downstrokes.

Design your own.

If you’d rather write your own phrase, it’s easy to create a pattern. Open a word document and add a text box the size you desire. I’ve use Dancing Script (95pt) and Gadugi (72pt) in these patterns.


Click on the images below for the script or block lettering embroidery patterns and have fun sewing!


Together we can find more ways to reclaim fabric
and breathe meaning, joy, and life into our days.


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Chit Chat Puppet Pattern Review

We have a special guest blogger today! My daughter spent the weekend making a puppet with the Chit Chat Puppet pattern by Abby Glassenberg. She’s here to share her thoughts on the pattern and process.

I love this puppet pattern by Abby Glassenberg Design!!! It is amazingly fun to do if you have spare time on your hands or just something for the grandkids if you run out of Christmas ideas 🙂 

I am twelve years old and made my puppet by myself (my mom only did one little thing!) and think that this pattern is all ages friendly. Of course five year olds would need a little more help than ten year olds- let’s be honest here- but after you are done, they are super fun to play with. You can finally talk to yourself without getting those “looks”!!

I did this in one day, it’s quick and easy like that, and ended with pretty much the exact version of the puppet I had thought of in my head. The pattern is easy to follow and very flexible. I could change her looks to anything I wanted to! I also found that if you zoom either in or out before printing, you could change the size of the pattern for either smaller or larger hands. 

I borrowed one of my sister’s doll dresses for my puppet. The more poof, the more it hides your hand!

My little sister asked for one for Christmas, my other sister said she was making one, and both my brothers just like her. (My puppet’s name is Charlotte.) I definitely think this pattern deserves a five-star review for all of the reasons stated above!!!

Talofa Kids Advent Wreath Pattern Notes

Last month, I had the opportunity to test Talofa Kids new Advent wreath pattern. The author, Britta Gandy, has been making these wreaths for years. I was thrilled when she put her creation into a pattern so that we can all sew them too!

Pattern Notes for the Talofa Kids Advent Wreath

Materials

  • I chose an old Army duffel for the wreath body. This is a heavier fabric than Britta suggests using, so it took a bit more effort to turn and doesn’t lay quite as flat as it would with the lighter fabric that’s supposed to be used.
  • Instead of sewing a hanging strap, I used a seam ripper to get the strap off of the duffel bag and used that. It wasn’t an easy task (seam ripping heavy fabric never is!), but it was well worth it.
  • For the leaves, I used scrap felt that a friend gave me. There were also a bunch of fall-looking colors in the bin, so I made the opposite side of the wreath with fall leaves.
  • I had hoped to stuff the wreath with fabric scraps, but the heavy canvas didn’t agree. Thankfully a friend had a bag of Poly-fil on hand.

Assembly

  • My kids helped with tracing and cutting out all of the leaves and candle pieces. It was nice to be able to involve them in a project they’ll be using for many years to come.
  • Britta offers instructions for both hand stitching the leaves or machine sewing. I machine sewed the green side, then opted to free motion quilt the autumn leaves. I’ve been wanting to learn free motion quilting, and this was the perfect project to try it on!
  • Even though I’ve never sewn a wreath, the pattern instructions were clear and easy to follow.

Thoughts

  • This Advent wreath pattern shows you how to make a heirloom quality project. The kids in your life will love the tactile and interactive nature of a new Advent tradition.
  • Making the wreath reversible was an easy way to be able to use the wreath even longer throughout the year. Plus, my son is always pestering me to decorate more for fall. Win win :).
  • There’s nothing quite like using reclaimed materials to make a project pointing to Christ. Meaningful sewing always make me smile!
  • Britta even includes devotions to use with your family during the Advent season. Such a thoughtful addition to the pattern.

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