From My Carolina Home

Quilting, cooking, reading books, gardening, crafting, sewing, photography and more


The Swing Bag – A Scrap Dance Pattern – with a giveaway!

Wouldn’t you love to have a great travel bag for the holidays, or any travel weekend?  This weekender bag is compact yet packs a punch. You won’t believe how much you can fit into it, and still have organization!  It will hold enough clothes and toiletries for a weekend getaway, just Swing it over your shoulder and dance off to the beach or the cabin in the mountains.  The construction isn’t hard, just follow the steps one by one. The great majority is constructed flat, so it is easy to handle. Use up scraps by making a larger piece of fabric and cutting your focus piece from it. Use charm squares, jelly roll strips, layer cake squares, crumbs or orphan blocks, your only limit is your imagination! For ease of understanding, I’ll use a single focus fabric with a light lining and a dark accent, in adorable sewing prints.  Read all the way to the end for a fun hop and a giveaway too!

Materials List

Focus Fabric – either one fabric, or a scrappy one
One Base – 38 inches x 22 inches- scrappy, orphan blocks, jelly roll strips, charm squares, or single fabric
Two Circles – 12 inches in diameter
Four fabric scraps 2 x 2-1/2 inches for zipper tabs

Lining Fabric – (tip – lighter fabric lining makes it easier to see contents)
One Base – 38 inches x 22 inches
Two Circles – 12 inches in diameter

Accent Fabric
Two Circles – 12 inches in diameter
One small pocket – 10 x 16 inches
One long pocket – 16 x 22 inches

Batting scraps –
one 38 x 22 or a bit larger
two 12 inch circles

One 20-inch heavy duty zipper
3 yards nylon webbing – all one piece (or 3+1/4 yards for a longer drop handle)
Optional – 2-1/4 yards of binding (2-1/2 inches wide, folded lengthwise)


Begin by layering the focus fabric base, batting and lining fabric base together in a quilt sandwich and quilt as desired. Repeat with both focus fabric circles making a sandwich of one focus circle, batting and lining circle.

Fold the accent fabric circles in half, wrong sides together, to create a pocket. Align with the bottom edge of the quilted circle on top of the focus fabric. These pockets will end up on the outside of the bag. Baste in place.

Fold the small pocket accent fabric in half, right sides together, to form a rectangle 10 inches x 8 inches. Sew the sides and part of bottom, leaving an opening for turning. Turn, press.  For the long pocket, meet long right sides together and sew across on the 22-inch side to form a tube 8×22 inches. Turn and press.

Lay your base sandwich on a flat surface lining side up and place the pocket units as follows, using the folded edge of pocket units as the top. For the long pocket, place 6 inches down from the short edge of the base, meeting the side edges. Stitch across the bottom only, leaving the top open. Baste the sides to the sandwich, or stitch for a bit more strength. For the small pocket, place on the other end of the base sandwich 4 inches from the edge. Stitch the one side, across the bottom catching the opening for turning, and up the other side. Leave the top open.

Sew the ends of the nylon webbing together with a half inch seam, making sure there are no twists in the length. Finger press the seam open.

Lay the base on a flat surface, focus fabric side up. Lay the webbing on the base, seam in the center of the base, 6-inches in from each side. You’ll have about 5-1/2 to 8-inches overhang for handles (depending on if you made the bag with 3 yards even or 3+1/4 yards as amended for longer handles). Pin in place along the webbing, to ensure that it stays straight. Put two pins in the webbing to mark 4-inches down from each short edge, this is where you will stop sewing, leaving a portion of the handle free on each edge. Begin sewing along one edge of the webbing, when you get to the two pins, sew across the width of the webbing (backstitch and sew again if desired for extra strength), then back down the other edge. Repeat for the other end, and meet your sewing line back where you started. Tie off, repeat for the other side.

Using focus scraps, add tabs to the ends of the zipper. Begin with one end, placing right sides together and stitch across making sure to get close to the zipper teeth, but not over. Align the second piece right sides together, and sew on top of the previously sewn line to ensure your needle doesn’t hit the teeth. Fold fabric away from zipper creating the tab. Repeat for opposite end. Trim to width of zipper.

Pin zipper to one short end of base, right sides together. Sew 1/4-inch seam from edge. Tip, start with the zipper half closed. Sew almost to the pull, stop needle down and lift presser foot, unzip the zipper placing the pull behind the foot where you’ve already sewn. Continue sewing.

Lay the base flat, wrong side up, fold zipper to the wrong side, creating a channel for the edge.  Stitch in the ditch to encase the raw edges.

Bring the right side of the base under the project to meet the other side of the zipper, right sides together. Sew.

Turn right side out, and fold zipper to create channel and stitch in the ditch in the same manner.

Meet the edges of the channels on each end of the zipper and stitch down close to the raw edge.

Open zipper and turn bag inside out. Fold the circle in half to find the midpoint which will be the top point and the bottom point. Lay bag out, and find the midpoint fold of the bag. Match this point with the midpoint of the bottom of the circle including pocket right sides together. Match the center of the zipper with the top edge.

Pin all the way around, easing in if needed. Sew with 1/2-inch seam, going slowly, and readjusting the project as needed to keep the seam under the presser foot flat.

Optional – finish seams with binding as usual, sewing by machine. Turn right side out. Remove pins holding handles.

The long pocket inside is now divided into three smaller sections by the application of the webbing handles.  The smaller pocket is higher up inside to hold lighter easy to lose items.

After the initial bag was done, I showed it to some friends who suggested a few improvements.  So, the pattern has several options for extras in pockets and details.  Purchasing the pdf file on Craftsy for the very low introductory price of just $2 will give you more photos and more detailed instructions.  Click on Swing Bag for the pattern link. The pattern will remain up here through the first of August as part of the Christmas In July Blog Hop hosted by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  In August, the pattern will be taken down from this post and only be available in my Craftsy store at its regular price.  I really appreciate any purchases as that is the way I pay for the costs of the blog, so I can bring more great free patterns, giveaways and projects to readers.  I also invite new readers to follow my blog for a wide variety of subjects, crafting and cooking, sewing and quilting, gardening and photography, mountain living and more.

And have fun with the  Christmas In July blog hop which will have new posts every day for 12 days.

Here are the participant blogs, have fun!!  And read down below for the giveaway!

Friday, July 14th
From My Carolina Home– You are here!


Saturday, July 15th


Sunday, July 16th


Monday, July 17th


Tuesday, July 18th
Wednesday, July 19th 


Thursday, July 20th


Friday, July 21st


Saturday, July 22nd 




And as if great holiday ideas and a tutorial weren’t enough, this year Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict arranged something special!  The lovely folks over at Free Spirit Fabrics have donated not just one item for a giveaway, but THIRTEEN!  And it’s pretty drool-worthy stuff, too – it’s Tula Pink’s new holiday line, Holiday Homies!!!

Sarah has six design rolls, six layer cakes, and one fat quarter bundle to give away – and here’s how she’s going to do it!  Visit each stop on the hop, including this blog, and leave a comment on each post for the day.  At the end of the hop,  Sarah will do a giveaway for each day by putting everyone’s name in the hat who commented that day (from all that day’s hop-blogs), and drawing a winner for that day.  That will be twelve winners – the design rolls and layer cakes.  Then she’ll put all the names from all the days in a hat and draw out a grand prize winner for the fat quarter bundle!  Only one prize per person, though – let’s spread it around a bit!  So carve out a bit of time to visit all the blogs and comment – it makes the time bloggers spend on each post worth it when we see what people think about our work!

So, make a travel bag, visit blogs, comment to enter for hop prizes, do you think that will keep you busy for a weekend?  What else is on your to-do list?  Are you starting on your holiday sewing yet?



Finished or Not Friday


How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear

Shopping can be such a chore at times. As much as I like wearing nice clothes, sometimes it is just next to impossible to find what I need.  It is hard enough to find things in petite sizing to accommodate my short stature, much less something cute.  Recently I spent quite a bit of time at a number of stores, at big box, discount and boutiques, looking for a simple thing – a short sleeve woven top or two. I am at that certain point where I do not like my upper arms to be exposed, so a sleeveless isn’t an option. But I need something woven for the heat, knits like t-shirts seem to stick to me when it is really hot and woven fabrics keep me cooler. But sleeveless and knits are what I saw most at the stores! I could find long sleeves or sleeveless but nothing between. Luckily, I can sew, and when I finally remembered that, I found two long sleeve, woven fabric tops and took them home to alter.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

This is really not hard to do, just takes a bit of measuring to get it right. Begin by trying on the top, and measuring from the shoulder seam to the point where you want the sleeve to end.  Shoulder seams will sit differently on different tops, so you have to have that measurement correct by measuring with it on.  In my case, that was 9 inches finished length. I wanted a small cuff on this one, so I added five inches to that length. Be sure that you have enough width in the sleeve to do this (that it doesn’t taper smaller down the sleeve), otherwise just add a hem allowance. Then take the top off, and lay it on a cutting table, measuring from the shoulder seam down the top edge, in my case to 14 inches.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

That measurement was going to cut across this tab and button detail on the sleeve, so I got out my seam ripper and removed those elements.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

Now measure down the top edge to the 14 inches again, and lay a ruler at that point, but don’t cut yet.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

Now, measure from the bottom to the same point. In this case it was 9 inches to the bottom of the cuff. Now measure the same 9 inches on the bottom edge to find that point. Connect those two points on the top and bottom of the sleeve to ensure that the angle is correct. The angle of the cut should be the same as (parallel to) the lower edge of the sleeve.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

Now measure up from the bottom of the other sleeve by the same amount on the top and bottom, the same 9 inches. This ensures that the sleeves will be an equal length.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

I decided to finish off the edges with my serger. If you don’t have a serger, you can turn the edge under, or do a zigzag stitch to finish the edge.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

Measure up three inches to put in the hem.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

Stitch the hem. Removing the base on my sewing machine helps as it gives me a smaller base to slip the sleeve over.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

Press the hem.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

Fold up the hem 2 inches to the outside to create the cuff and press in place.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

I put in two tacks by hand to hold the cuff in place.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

And voila, now I have the short sleeve top I wanted.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

One other tip, those mother of pearl buttons would be impossible to replace if I lost one. So, I took the extras from the cuffs, and sewed them onto the seam allowance at the sides of the top. Now I have extras if I lose one, and I don’t have to go searching for it in a button box.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

For the white lace top, I followed the same procedure of measuring the length I wanted, measuring the sleeve from the bottom on both edges, and cutting the sleeve at the proper angle.  This time I made the sleeve 10 inches, to get the 9-inch finished length plus one inch for hem allowance.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

I wasn’t worried about the lace raveling, so I turned up the hem and zigzag stitched it.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

And the other top is done, took less than half an hour.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

For the bits you cut off, here’s an idea to use them. I did get a couple of new t-shirts while I was shopping, knowing I have bought this brand before so I knew the size to get. I didn’t try them on, and when I did put one on at home, the V-neck was cut to an obscene depth. I am just not comfortable with a neckline cut to my navel, not at this point in my life, LOL! So, I took some of the lace from the sleeve, and cut a triangle to sew into the t-shirt to raise the neckline.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

Ultimately, I decided to use a different scrap of lace, cut from a pillowcase that was torn. I cut a triangle larger than I needed for the opening, and pinned it into place. It was sewn into place by topstitching in the ditch of the neckline ribbing.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

Turning it inside out, the excess was trimmed away.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

Finished, and I am so much more comfortable with the added coverage.

How to Shorten Sleeves on Ready to Wear clothes at From My Carolina Home

So, there are a couple of ideas to help you make ready to wear more wearable.  Do you alter your clothes?



Creative Muster


Designed for Drama – A Biltmore House Event

This week I went with friends to the Biltmore House for their Designed for Drama Event, a collection of costumes worn in movies based on George Vanderbilt’s favorite books.  This is the third time the Biltmore House has done a costume exhibit.  The first one, Dressing Downton Abby was spectacular!  This exhibit is a collection of more than 40 outstanding costumes from 14 recent movies based on books that were George Vanderbilt’s favorite reads.  The amount of handwork and details on the gowns are just amazing.  I took over 200 pictures, making up for lost time as up to now pictures were not allowed at Biltmore House.  They now allow non-flash photography, so I had a field day, and was very happy I took an extra battery for the camera! There is no way I can show you all the wonderful costumes, I just chose a few to highlight. First, this one is a gorgeous gold gown with period correct black sequins. It was worn by Nicole Kidman in “Portrait of a Lady”.  Note the detailed lace at the hem.

Dressed Drama Portrait Lady 9

Just look at the handwork and decorative stitching on the bodice, and the matching gloves.

Dressed Drama Portrait Lady 10

The library is my favorite room at the Biltmore House, and it is spectacular. Bookshelves line the room on all four sides, with a secret passage behind the upper level chimney behind the fireplace.  The ceiling is ornately painted, and the woodwork is awe inspiring.  This room held the simple costumes from “Pride and Prejudice”.

Dressed Drama Pride Prejudice 4

In all the exhibits, the actual volumes from the Vanderbilt library accompanies the exhibit, displayed in clear cases.

Dressed Drama plackard

Additional posters detail the costume’s origin, designer and who wore it. The “Golden Bowl” dress was one of the most spectacular, worn by Uma Thurman.

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 1

Look at the peacock headdress, the jeweled bodice and jeweled girdle around the hips.

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 3

The necklace was a golden collar with large emerald color stones.

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 2

This is the dress worn by Kate Beckinsale in the same movie. Lovely lacework on this gown!

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 7

This dress was a bit simpler, a day dress, but what a hat!

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 8

I’d wear this hat today, I love to wear hats! Of course, it would likely need to be the Kentucky derby to get away with it, LOL!

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 9

Two more costumes from “The Golden Bowl”. There were more costumes from this book than any other, and they were all wonderfully done. I need to read this book!

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 12

The dress features gathering and draping, expertly done, with lovely rose detail.

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 13

The shawl on this dress was made of gossamer fabric with exquisite embroidery in gold.

Dressed Drama Golden Bowl 16

While we were enjoying the costumes, the pipe organ was being played, with ragtime songs from the 1920s. The music could be heard over a large portion of the tour.

Biltmore Pipe Organ

These costumes from “House of Mirth” were arranged with mirrors so you could see the backs of both.  The room here is Mrs Vanderbilt’s bedroom, with gilded portrait frames and mirrors.

Dressed Drama House of Mirth 1

The next room showcased the simpler style of “Jane Eyre”, still beautifully sewn.

Dressed Drama Jane Eyre 1

This rich red gown from “Portrait of a Lady” is right at home with the burgundy papered walls of the bedroom.  Every room at Biltmore House is furnished beautifully, and appointed with sumptuous draperies and beautiful rugs.

Dressed Drama Portrait Lady 1

This lovely gown and dashing tuxedo are from “Sherlock Holmes”, set in the billards room in the Bachelor’s wing.

Dressed Drama Sherlock Holmes 3

Costumes from “Sleepy Hollow” worn by Johnny Depp and Michael Gambon.

Dressed Drama Sleepy Hollow 1

Even the gowns worn by the extras in the film “Sleepy Hollow” had attention to detail.

Dressed Drama Sleepy Hollow 8

Just look at the lace on the bodice, and this was worn by someone in the film’s background.

Dressed Drama Sleepy Hollow 5

Lastly, these two lovely gowns are from “Twelfth Night”.

Dressed Drama Twelfth Night 2

There was a lot more to see, including gowns from “Anna Karenina” and fanciful costumes from “Finding Neverland” and more.

From the Biltmore House website – “Once recognized as ‘one of the best read men in the country’ by New York media, [George] Vanderbilt amassed a library of more than 22,000 volumes at his North Carolina home. A reader from an early age, he began at the age of 12 keeping a record of the books he had read, including the title and author of each work. By his death in 1914, Vanderbilt had logged 3,159 books. He also counted leading authors of the era as personal friends, including Henry James, Paul Leicester Ford, and Edith Wharton—all of whom stayed at Biltmore House as guests of George and Edith Vanderbilt.”

You can read more about the creation of this exhibit in their Designed for Drama Press Release.  More pictures are on the Biltmore House website Photo Gallery.  If you are local, make plans to see this wonderful exhibit.  If you haven’t made your vacation plans for this year, come to Asheville/Hendersonville!  The event runs through July 4, 2017.

Did you enjoy the pictures?  Have you read these classics?



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Giveaway Day!

Merry Christmas!  I decided to participate with Giveaway Day on Sew Mama Sew this year, and have a fun prize for you to win just for visiting and commenting, and a link for more giveaways today.  Last summer, I did an event on my blog called Christmas In July where I made a tutorial for a sewing kit or jewelry case for giving as a gift. It was just one of several tutorials during that event.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

It closes with drawstrings and there is no hand sewing!  If you would like to make one for a gift or for yourself, the full tutorial is at this link – Sewing Kit Tutorial.  Or if you want to win this one with an additional goodie, keep reading.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

While you are here, please take a minute to look around and see the variety of subjects on my blog.  I have a lot of interests, and do posts on crafting, sewing, quilting, stamping, tablescapes, decorating, recipes, book reviews and lots more.  There are several events each year on my blog that have great giveaways too, like my Christmas in July event (sponsors) and Autumn Jubilee.  See a this link for a review of the Christmas in July (projects) event for lots of Christmas cheer!   Coming up in the next few days are lots more Christmas ideas and projects, and I’d like to invite new readers to follow using any of the ways on the sidebar.  One table topper I use over and over is the one shown in the picture below, a simple hexagonal shape with rings of alternating values and colors in red, green and ecru. The pattern is free in my Craftsy store. While you are there, please take a look at my other patterns.

Christmas Hexagonal Table Topper 15

If you are in the mood for a quick quilt-along, Scrap Dance Waltz is just getting underway, with the cutting and Block A instructions up.  Block B will be next week (on Wednesday the 14th) and we will finish in January.  After that my next mystery quilt will begin.  The mystery quilts are always scrappy, so you can use up your leftovers from other projects.  Scrap Dance Original and Scrap Dance Tango are previous mystery quilts.

For my giveaway today, I’ll send one lucky winner this sewing kit, with a spool of Aurifil thread!  To enter, leave a comment saying what you are sewing this season.  International entries are welcome, yes, I will ship to anywhere in the world.  Blog followers can have a second entry, just leave a second comment stating how you follow – email, Bloglovin, Feedly, Feedspot, or blog reader/blog roll.  Most of the time I respond by email to every comment except on giveaway posts as there are usually too many to do that.

Giveaway sewing kit

The giveaway will remain open for comments through Sunday, December 11.  The winner will be drawn on Monday and notified by email.  I’ll update this post with the drawing on Monday.

Update – The random number generator picked #2-8 and the winner is Barb N who commented “I’ve just finished two Christmas Tree Skirts, one for myself, and one for my daughter who will not be able to come home for Christmas this year. First time ever! Going to miss her dearly, so maybe this tree skirt will give her a little cheer from home.”  Congratulations, Barb!  And thank you to everyone that entered.

Linking up with Sew Mama Sew’s Giveaway Day!  Visit the link for lots of giveaways today!  The giveaways all are open until Sunday, so check back for more linkups through the week.   The links are available to see more blogs with giveaways, however the giveaway deadline has now passed.

What are you sewing this season?


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Needle and Thread Thursday



Quilting Fiction

Continuing the series on fiction with sewing and quilting themes, today we look at books with quilting as the main theme. These books are in the genre of women’s fiction, kind of a catch-all category of stories about real life, life challenges and family dynamics.

Bostwick1One of my favorite series in the genre of women’s fiction is Marie Bostwick’s Cobbled Court Bostwick2Quilts Series.  Beginning with A Single Thread, the main character is blindsided by a divorce, and takes off on a trip to Connecticut.  While she is there, she finds an old storefront, abandoned and in disrepair.  Deciding to pursue a long held dream of owning a quilt shop, she settles there and begins a new life.  Ms Bostwick tackles some tough issues in her series, each book with something to make you think.  In A Single Thread, Evelyn battles cancer.  In the second book, A Thread of Truth, the members of her quilting circle befriend an abused woman, and deals with domestic abuse.  Throughout the entire series, the small town life, and deepening friendships between the women of the quilting group endure and grow.

In A Thread So Thin, a younger member learns to know her own mind and assert herself. Bostwick3 The fourth in the series deals with economic hardship in Threading the Needle.Bostwick4 The fifth novel titled Ties that Bind delves into the life and aspirations of another quilter, who upon turning 40 tries to accept that she might always be single.  The best thing about these novels is there is no foul language, no violence, just life and all its ups and downs.  Bostwick5The reader begins to care for the characters, and reading the next installment is like visiting old friends.

I have the next one on my to-be-read pile, and plan to get to it soon.  Apart At The Seams promises to return to New Bern, and Cobbled Court Quilts with the introduction of a new character.  Gala is trying to find her way after discovering her husband had an affair.  I expect that this book will be in keeping with the series, with women supporting each other in times of crisis, finding solutions and learning about themselves.  It is definitely a series that will tug at your heart.


The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg is about a quilter who discovers a family secret.  As siblings gather for an annual reunion, the middle child reveals that she was the victim of physical and emotional abuse by her mother, but the siblings have a difficult time believing the revelation, as it is years after the events.  The siblings are in their 40s and 50s, and this comes out of the blue. What memories are real and what are imagined slights by a drama-queen personality?  Interspersed between the chapters are little reminiscences of childhood, like looking at an old photograph.  Reviews are mixed on this one on Goodreads, but I found this book engaging and interesting.  There is only a little quilting in the book, and interesting to read about her very well stocked studio, however I am not sure the author really quilts.  A couple of statements don’t make sense to a real quilter, like cutting strips of fabric 3/4-inch wide – ummm, the strip would end up 1/4 inch wide, what good would that be?  And another about applique being less expensive for a custom quilt than piecing, again, what?  Obviously, the author hadn’t done both.  But, a quote from near the beginning of the book is thought provoking.  “As for mending, I think it’s good to take the time to fix something rather than throw it away… You’ll always notice the fabric scar, of course, but there’s an art to mending: if you’re careful, the repair can actually add to the beauty of the thing, because it is a testimony to its worth.”  How true, in quilts and relationships.  There are lessons here, mainly about letting go and appreciating what is now.


I would put all the Jennifer Chiaverini books in this classification too.  In addition to the novels we talked about earlier, she has written a number of small little books, mostly around holidays.   These are sweet, easy, and quick-reading books, and all of them are just charming.  Shorter stories and short chapters make for good snack reading.  Snack reading is what my friend Patty calls just a little bit of reading when you don’t have a lot of time, like 5 minutes just before bed.

Chiaverini books

Have you read any of these books?  Are you a snack reader sometimes?



Val’s Tuesday Archives



Celebrate National Sewing Month – Sewing Fiction

September is National Sewing Month, and this year I am going to take a different approach to the celebration.  Oh, not to worry, there will still be plenty of sewing this month, projects and quilts, but this time I am going to do several book reviews for fiction with a sewing or quilting theme.  When you start to look, there are a lot of books set around sewing and quilting, so I’ll have more reviews for you this month.  Just so you won’t think I am doing this all this month, I had the idea a couple of months ago and started pulling novels with this theme to get a head start.  As usual, I will give you the ones I recommend as well as the ones you should leave on the shelf.

Books with a Sewing Theme ~ From My Carolina Home

First up, The Giving Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini.   I was surprised to read some of the other reviews and went into it thinking I might not like it.  But, for the most part, it is an enjoyable read.  Jennifer Chiaverini writes character studies, not action novels.  The backstory for the quilters who came together with one common purpose was the story.  Normally I would take longer to read, savoring each short story withing the larger convergent novel, but I just got interested.  I liked that it was set at a quilt retreat, and as I make Project Linus quilts myself, I was also happy to see that real life charity depicted.  In some ways it was difficult to read about the economic struggles and the loss of loved ones, but that is real life.  In the past this author has been criticized for not being real enough.  I didn’t take the points of view as attacks on anyone in particular or of any political view.  But then, I don’t typically go looking for a fight in the pages of a novel.  Having said that, this author is able to write whatever she wants, and if her point of view differs from mine, I hope I will heed the advice of the librarian and engage in dialogue, not just dismiss what I might not agree with.  And I hope she keeps writing.  I have enjoyed all the Elm Creek novels, not so much her historical civil war novels though.

Books with a Sewing Theme ~ From My Carolina Home

Next was A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.   This is the first novel I have read by Anne Tyler, and it won’t be the last. Stories of family, daily living and the struggle against hardship are a nice break from mysteries. This one is just that kind of story, with characters that you like, ones you want to slap sideways, and ones you just wish weren’t part of the family. Just like my family, so I can relate. I did not care for the middle section of the book, though, as manipulative Linny and weak Junior that gets manipulated (all while knowing that he is being manipulated) irritate me to no end. I also don’t care for long sections of flashback, if you need that much time then rearrange the story and put that part first. I originally picked up this book for the title, thinking that sewing would be a part of the story, but it wasn’t. The spool of thread makes an appearance at the end as a symbol in the life of the aimless character, Denny, who maybe has a bit of insight at that point. Overall, a good story, but just four stars. I will read another Anne Tyler in the future.

Needlecraft Mysteries

Just in case you missed it, I reviewed the Needlecraft Mystery series by Monica Ferris in July. While not exactly sewing, it is set around a needlecrafting store – cross stitch and crewel are sewing of a type, aren’t they? Anyway, I like this series, and recommend it as well.

So, there are the first ones for this series on sewing fiction.  What are you reading?  Have you read any of these?



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Christmas in July! Sewing Kit Tutorial

Today I kickoff a Christmas in July Event at From My Carolina Home!  Get ready for 12 days of ideas, tutorials, giveaways, downloads and fun on my blog PLUS a quilt along over at a blog hop with more blogs to visit full of ideas.  On this post, I’ll show you a tutorial for a great little jewelry case or sewing kit, something to make in multiples for holiday gifts.  Are you ready?  Let’s get inspired! Read all the way to the end for a special surprise!

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

You’ll need:
1/2 yard of fashion fabric (in the tutorial, the snapdragon fabric) for the outside
1/2 yard of lining fabric (in the tutorial, the pink fabric) for the inside
1 yard cording, cut into two 18-inch pieces
1 3-inch plastic canvas circle
Optional – fusible interfacing 15 inch square

First make your pattern. You’ll need circles of fabric, so I begin with folding a piece of paper into fourths. Make 2. Measure out 7-1/2 inches from the center on the larger, and 4-1/2 inches from the center on the smaller, in several places. Draw a quarter circle line from edge to edge to make two circles, one 15 inches in diameter and one 9 inches in diameter.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Cut out your circles.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Using each pattern circle, cut one fashion fabric and one lining fabric.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Optional, if you like your case to have a bit more body, iron on fusible interfacing to the back of the fashion fabric.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Measure in from one edge on the larger 15-inch fashion fabric circle 1-1/2 inches and make a buttonhole one inch in length.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Make another one on the opposite edge of the same piece of fabric.  Cut both buttonholes open.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Place the large circles right sides together and sew all the way around the edge. Yes, all the way, do not leave any opening for turning. Repeat with the smaller circles, right sides together.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Fold the sewn circles into fourths to find the exact center. Mark a one inch line on the edge in the center (1/2 inch on either side of the center point) on the lining.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Cut a slit in the LINING ONLY. Don’t get scared, it will get covered up. Just be careful to only cut the lining. Repeat for the small circle.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Clip the curves on the edges all the way around both circles.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Turn right side out through the slit.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Smooth out the edges, I like to use a chopstick for this.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Iron both to sharply crease the edges.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Fold the larger circle into fourths and finger press to find the exact center. Place the plastic canvas circle in the center on the lining side over the slit, making sure the center of the canvas is on the center of the larger circle.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Fold the smaller circle into fourths, lining side out and place on the plastic canvas to find the center.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Open out the small circle over the plastic canvas, lining sides together, pin around the plastic canvas through all the layers.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Sew through all the layers around the canvas circle. Do not sew through the canvas, just around the edge of it. This will encase the canvas in the bottom providing a firm base and cover both slits in the lining fabric.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Beginning at the sewing line in the middle, sew spokes out to the edge of the smaller circle. Sew four spokes, one each pointing north, south, east and west (or like a clock face 12, 3, 6, and 9).  Do not sew through the plastic canvas.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Add four more spokes of sewing to make eight pockets.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

I hope you see the stitching here to create the pockets in the smaller circle.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Now, sew a line around the outer edge of the larger circle about 1/2-inch in from the edge to make the top ruffle. Be sure to keep this line of sewing to the outside of the buttonholes.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Sew a second line of stitching about one inch further in, this time going to the inside of the buttonholes.  This will create a channel for the drawstrings.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Using a bodkin, or other means, thread the cording through one of the buttonholes, all the way around the channel and back out through the same buttonhole.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Tie the ends together in a knot.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Repeat with the other piece of cording using the opposite buttonhole.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

I put a dab of frey check on each knot and clip off the taped ends.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Pull on both cords at the same time to close the bag.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Give it empty for use as a jewelry case.  Earrings are kept together in the pockets.  Since the bottoms of the pockets end at the plastic canvas liner, they are flat instead of cone shaped.  This makes it easy to reach in and get your items.  The sturdy base can hold several pieces as well.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Another idea, fill it with sewing goodies for a wonderful sewing kit.  For travel to classes, or just to keep on hand, a kit with the basics we use all the time will be appreciated.  Needles, pretty scissors and Aurifil threads are always welcome to a quilter or sewist.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

Even more fun, make one with sewing motif fabrics!

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

This one has a gold lining fabric.

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home

You can make your own sewing kit with this black background fabric, available in my Etsy store, or use the scissor fabric also available at a wholesale price. Filled with sewing goodies they make great gifts.  A yard will provide enough of the pretty fabric for three sewing kits, just add one yard of lining solid in your choice of colors.  There are plenty of choices with this adorable print.


SimplyColorful-Large-Outside SimplyColorful-Large-Inside

To win this set of 12 V&Co Simply Color Aurifil thread, visit the Aurifil website at, check out Auriworld, see the designers and collections, or visit the blog, then come back and leave a comment on this post with your favorite Aurifil thread collection or designer, or if you decided to follow them via any of their social networks like Pinterest.   International entries are welcome, Aurifil will ship anywhere in the world. You may leave a second comment and entry if you follow my blog and just say how you follow me. I’ll draw the winner on July 24th, so you have plenty of time to enter. Good luck!
Update – Drawing has been held and the winner has been sent an email.

12DAYSOFCIJ2016bannerMORE FUN!! Hop over to Confessions of A Fabric Addict to see more Christmas In July ideas, begin a quilt along for a Christmas quilt, and see the other bloggers on the hop over the next 12 days.   Lots more projects are planned for the hop you won’t want to miss.  Fellow blogger on the hop today is Sharon Vrooman who has another Christmas project – click on Vroomans Quilts to see the feather trees.

And come back here for more ideas throughout the house tomorrow.  Linking up with some of the great parties on my party page.  Also sharing at …

Bag It! at Elm Street Quilts Bag Tutorials

Sewing Kit | From My Carolina Home