Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Oh How I Love My New Design Wall!

I loves me a good design wall.  They are so awesome for:

  • Looking at your projects from afar to get some perspective
  • Letting you change up elements in your project easily and quickly just by moving and 'sticking' to the flannel
  • Keeping your projects off of the dirty floor or cluttering up your tables

I did have a large camel colored flannel covered 'inspiration board' in my studio.  Problem?  It was behind a desk (i.e.- hard to get to) and kind of small.

When I heard that Kaffe Fassett and company had released a new grey/white grid design wall fabric, I decided right then and there my design wall needed a makeover!

Aside from the aforementioned pros of a design wall, this flannel is:

  • Neutral grey so as not to distract from your project pieces
  • Has a grid so you can keep your stuff lined up properly (really genius I think!)

Wanna make your own like this one?

Check it!  Mine is a whopper 78" x 94", but  you can make yours any size you like!
My helper Liam showing how much we love the new design wall!


  • Foil backed insulation board (@ ½" thick)
  • Thin polyester batting or fleece
  • Duct tape- lots!
  • Design wall flannel (available at www.gloriouscolor.com)  Flannel should be 2"+ larger  than the insulation board on all sides.
  • "L" screws or nails

1.  First, cut the insulation board to size.  The standard size of the boards are 4' by 8'.  Cut them using a box cutter and a metal ruler.  If you'd like your design board to be bigger, simply tape 2 or more boards together with duct tape (both sides.)  Tape down the seam, then add a few X's of tape for added stability.
This is the brand I used, available at Home Depot and Lowe's here in the US.

2.  Piece flannel if necessary.  To do ensure the grids line up: trim flannel 1 1/4" from vertical lines closest to your seam line on your cut-to -length panels.  Pin at grid intersection right on the white lines.  Join with a ¼" seam.  Press seams open.  The resulting join will produce grid squares that are just like the printed 2" squares.  As long as I had a grid to work with, I wanted to keep it neat :)

So the white lines almost line up properly… Don't be judge-y :)

3.  Lay your batting out on the floor.  Smooth out wrinkles.  Place insulation board on top.  Trim batting to 2" bigger all around.  To reduce bulk at corners, trim a 2" x 2"square of batting from each corner.

4.  One side at a time, duct tape edges of batting to back of board. (An extra pair of hands really helps here!)  Stretch the batting tightly before taping second and fourth sides.

5.  Turn board batting side up.  Lay flannel right side up on board.  Use straight pins to pin flannel to side of board, lining up flannel grid with board as you go. (If you are using solid flannel, you can skip this step.)  Pin opposite side, stretching flannel.  Repeat for remaining 2 sides.  Trim excess flannel  2" larger all around.

Pinning is essential to keeping grid straight before taping to back of board :)

6.  Carefully flip assembly wrong side up.  Fold each corner in on the diagonal.  Affix with small pieces of tape.  Working one side at a time, duct tape edges down to insulation board.

When taping is complete, remove all pins.

7.  Mount board to wall with L shaped screws or nails. (Use screws and mollies if you are mounting onto drywall, nails for paneling or wood.)  A helper is a must for this step :)

We have drywall in this room, so I used mollies to anchor the "L" screws.  I used a total of 3 to anchor the bottom of this 91" wide board.

At the top of the board, we put one in each corner to anchor board.
Tip, I mounted mine about 12" from the floor.  Experience has taught me that feet and cats tend to knock off any pieces of fabric low to the ground. 

Et voila!  Can't wait to mess up my pristine design wall with lots 'o projects!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shagreen/ A Closer Look Fabrics- In Stores Soon!

Hi again!  This is Part 3 of our lil series on the inspiration for A Closer Look fabric line by La Todera for Clothworks.  ( Part 1- Salt,  Part 2- Purl )

Let's talk about the third group of fabrics in 'A Closer Look' called 'Shagreen.'

Snippets of 'Shagreen' fabric

As a texture freak, I'm always on the lookout for unusual textures.  Shagreen is for sure one of my faves :)
What is Shagreen you ask?  It's tanned shark or stingray skin- see the real McCoy below.  

Apparently, Shagreen was first used by the Chinese for decorative grip material on sword handles.  (FYI, if you ever see one of these at a garage sale, you should grab it right up- you'll be an instant gazillionaire...)

Read more about Chinese swords here

Also found covering antique lighter cases, clutch purses, and other decorative delights.

I first saw Shagreen on the wallet my husband bought for himself about 15 years ago in Mexico.  He's still using it- it's amazingly durable!  He likes it not only for it's good looks, but for the texture-he likes the 'grippiness' of the leather and swears it helps his wallet stay put in his pocket.  
Shagreen wallet available here

I'm on the lookout for my own :)  In the meantime, I ran across these iPhone case available here.   Aren't they devine?  And easy to find when my phone disappears into that black hole I call a handbag!


I have a thing for Shagreen, and maybe you do too!  

Like the other textures in "A Closer Look",  A closeup photo (of hubby's famous wallet!) was blown up, 'cartoon-ized' and recolored in 6 fantasy shagreen colors (raw shagreen is always grey- yawn.)

Shagreen fabric by La Todera for Clothworks

Of course, now that we've brought Shagreen fabric into the world, you can always make a Shagreeny quilt!  To me, that kind of beats a dinky Shagreen lighter case, don't you think?  

To check out all of the Closer Look fabrics, pop on over to Clothworks.  Available in stores soon!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Purl/ A Closer Look Fabrics- In Stores Soon!

Hi again!  This is Part 2 of our lil series on the inspiration for A Closer Look fabric line by La Todera for Clothworks.

Want to see the first installation?  Check it out here.

Let's talk about the second group of fabrics in 'A Closer Look' called 'Purl.'

Purl was inspired by jersey (knit) fabric magnified.  The reverse side of a tee shirt under a magnifying glass!  In fact it's magnified so much that it looks like the 'purl' knitting stitch.  (Title! Title!)

Are you old enough to remember Shaker knit' sweaters front the '80's? 
Does it remind you of that texture too?  The purl texture was digitized, blown up, then recolored like a  hand colored vintage photograph.  

Want to check it out?

Snippets of 'Purl' fabric

This fabric will make any project look a little vintagey, a little funky.. something like the colorized parts of Wizard of Oz!

One of my all time favorite movies.   Of course this would surely break all kinds of copyright laws if we actually did it, but if you'll indulge me, I'd like to unofficially name each color of Purl after things from the movie:

Glinda Pink!

Purple Horse Purple

Dorothy's Dress Blue

Oz Green and Yellow Brick Road Gold

Thank you!  I feel much better!

So, you know how you distress paper for your scrapbook projects?  Put a crackle finish on a hand painted frame?  This is what this fabric could do for your sewing project!

The bonus is that the fabric that Clothworks chose to print all of A Closer Look on is fantabulously silky cotton fabric.   It's de-luxe!!

 Collage of 'A Closer Look'

See it soon in person at a quilt store near you!

Actually, we just heard from Clothworks that  Bear Patch Quilting Company will be carrying the entire line of 'Purl!'   Give them a holler to get the whole collection for your stash :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Salt/ A Closer Look Fabrics- In Stores Soon!

Folks always seem to want to know about what inspires a fabric line.  So I thought maybe I'd give a lil glimpse into the crazy part of my brain that thinks up fabric patterns!

First off, let me just say that when Clothworks asked me to design a line of 'funky basics,'  I was thrilled.  You can see from my flower patterns that I design a lot of smaller items that look best done in tonals and textures (as opposed to ginormous prints.)  I wanted an alternative to solids and batiks, know what I mean?  So the idea for the Closer Look line had been simmering on the back burner of my mind for awhile.

You can see texture and pattern everywhere you look.  Some of the MOST amazing patterns are the ones you might see under a magnifying glass. (Title-Title!  -'A Closer Look!')

Collage of 'A Closer Look' swatches
There are 4 designs in A Closer Look- 'Shagreen,' 'Purl,' 'Air Dots,' and 'Salt.'  

Let's talk about 'Salt.'

'Salt' from 'A Closer Look' collection by La Todera for Clothworks

Salt is a pile of salt crystals magnified about 100X.  Then digitized, recolored, put into repeat, and voila!  The result is a subtly shaded fabric with funky interest upon closer inspection.

The color are high pastels. I selected colors that might be hard to find in other pastel lines.  They are just a bit vintagey- They remind me of an illustrated children's book from the seventies!  From a cornflower blue, a slightly acidy yellow and bubble gummy pink, lime green and fuchsia, to a yummy slightly dusty turquoise.

Also included are a light grey that has a range of greys like a Carera marble, and a dark grey that is the perfect cold grey that looks great with pastels.

By the way, if you are crazy about crystals like I am, check out these images from the Crystal Caves in Chihuahua, Mexico! 

Cueva de los Cristales, Chihuahua Mexico
The caves were discovered by miners looking for lead in 2000.  At the moment, you can only be in the caves for under 10 minutes at a time due to the extreme heat (a nearby hot spring keeps it at a steamy 140 degrees with 90- 100% humidity.)  That wouldn't stop ME.  A visit to these amazing caves is totally on my bucket list!!  Who wants to go with me??!!

Friday, April 5, 2013

It's Arrived! The Mondo Mushroom Pincushion Pattern :)

Mondo Mushroom Pincushions!  Froggie not included :) 

It's arrived!  
The Mondo Mushroom Pincushion Pattern!

Calling all Toadstool fans!!   Brand new pattern!

The little elves at La Todera Sewing and Craft Patterns have been busy, busy, busy the last couple of months cooking up new patterns- and here's the latest!  The Mondo Mushroom Pincushion Pattern!

This is the big papa of pincushions at a whopping 7" across!

Make them like the storybook version in red and white polka dot, or let your imagination run wild with unconventional color combos.

Clever ruffle technique adds dimension and interest.
Make a whole fairy ring in a jiffy!  Great quick gifts!

7" across!!!!

Pattern cover front

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sweet Sakura Brooch Tutorial

Sweet Sakura Brooch

When Better Homes and Gardens asked if I'd like to do a guest post over on their new site,  www.howtosew.com,  of course I said, "Heck, yeah!"  What does Better Homes and Gardens specialize in?  Gardens and Quilting! (Just like us!!)

Did you know they have 4 magazines just for quilters and sewers - American Patchwork & Quilting, Quilts and More, quilt Sampler, and the new "Make it Yourself" magazine?? And 2 websites- www.allpeoplequilt.com and www.howtosew.com ! They are INTO it!

So I've had this idea for a sakura (cherry blossom) simmering in the back of my brain for awhile now.  I just love them, especially en mass like in the parks in Washing DC, and of course in Japan!

It's just about cherry blossom blooming time right now, so I thought it would be a perfect time to do up the tutorial.  According to my research TODAY has been declared peak cherry blossom action by the http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org!  How cool is that!  Check out these photos from their site dedicated to sakura-philes (yep, I just made that up just now :)  

And coincidentally, I just received my first bits of my new fabric line, "A Closer Look" (produced by Clothworks) and thought the pink, yellow, and lime versions of the Salt group were just the ticket for this flower:


Make bunches of them and put them on an art quilt, handbag, or headband.  Wear a single blossom on your lapel.  Make a bunch for everlasting wedding accessories!

Whatever you make them for, please post photos on our Facebook page- I'd love to see them!

Link to tutorial: Sweet Sakura Brooch