The Sweet Stocking is Here!

For the past several years, I’ve been plugging away at sewing quilted stockings for my family, only to find myself getting more and more frustrated with the lack of reasonably sized (ie, not big enough to fit a PS5) Christmas stockings that wouldn’t take forever to sew. I decided it was high time to design my own, and landed on what I believe is a perfectly pint-sized Christmas stocking!

My Christmas fabric stash is small but full of beloved, no longer produced prints, so I made sure to make the patchwork squares small for maximum fussy cutting with minimal fabric usage. You could also use the pattern to make solid stockings in just one print, or improv-piece the top to make something fun and unique!

The Sweet Stocking is made using simple patchwork squares, one template, and an easy sewing technique to make the lining and outer in just one seam! The hanging tag can be made from quilting cotton fabric or your favorite ribbon or twill tape.

This project is a great intro to quilting on your machine, with a small shape and lots of options- quilt in straight lines, a grid pattern, or free motion if you have the right foot. Alternatively, how lovely would hand quilting look on these stockings?!

These stockings are just the right size to stuff with little goodies like candy, nail polish, or pens, and would also be perfect for baby’s first Christmas or your favorite fur babies. I love how you can comfortably hang a couple of them on a small mantel or shelf.

Click here to go to the download shop to get the free pattern! Let me know in the comments how yours turned out, and use #sweetstocking on Instagram (tag me @katiegouwens) so I see your lovely Sweet Stocking photos!

Postage Stamp Quilt Saga: Chapter 1

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Forward: I’m making a postage stamp quilt in the style and spirit of the ones popular during the 1930s. I’ll be chronicling the process here on my blog and on Instagram!

Once upon a time, I fell madly, deeply in love with a vintage quilt I saw in a magazine. The year was 2002 and Martha Stewart Living’s August issue was given to my mom by a relative who stopped by to visit, and being a voracious reader at eight years old I read it cover to cover. I came to an article on how to repair a vintage postage stamp quilt, and the photos, paired with a story, stopped me in my tracks.

Being a massive history fan, the story accompanying the photos was every bit as good as the quilt. The article talked about how postage stamp quilts became popular during the Great Depression, using up even the tiniest scraps to make the impossibly sweet one inch squares. The fabrics usually were calicoes left over from clothing, sheets, feed sacks, and “rag bags” bought for pennies at department stores. The article walked the reader through picking new fabrics at the store (turkey red and sky blue and pale yellow were popular colors the author noted, so choose those) so new squares could be made and painstakingly appliqued over threadbare patches. I was absolutely smitten, and swore one day I’d make my own postage stamp quilt.

I’ve had a few false starts in the past seventeen years, finding the tiny squares frustrating to get lined up properly and tedious to cut. I started reading every tutorial I could find on making postage stamp quilts and giving them all a try, fiddling with the size of the squares, buying 1930s reproduction fabric only to cut it up and give up, and moved on to other projects, letting the postage stamp quilt idea keep marinating in the back of my mind.

Fast forward to earlier this year, when I found the magazine again on ebay (the original copy long gone) and coincidentally came across Amanda Jean’s post on her Lost in the Crowd Quilt and had my ah-ha moment.

In the 1930s, the postage stamp quilt was about ingenuity, a product of the “waste not, want not” attitude of a culture where every last bit counted. It wasn’t made by strip piecing, ironing a chessboard of squares to a piece of interfacing, or english paper piecing. It was made by simply cutting squares, accurately and cleanly, then stitching them together next to the radio when time allowed.

So I aim for my postage stamp quilt to exemplify a modern version of the resourceful spirit of our grandmothers, with my personality where it counts.

I’m cutting 1.5″ squares from my modern, colorful scraps, not buying any fabric specifically for this project and using a 1.5″ wide ruler that makes it fast and easy. I’m cutting the squares as often as I feel like it and chain piecing a handful of 4-patch blocks after a stressful day, usually before bed in front of an episode of Friends. It might not be exactly what our ancestors would have done in their time, but I’m pretty sure it’s what they would have done if faced with a low hobby budget, a drafty house, and a Netflix subscription today.

If you’d like more details on how I’m sewing these blocks together and getting nicely matched seams, be sure to check out Amanda Jean’s awesome tutorial that convinced me this project could be simple and fun.

Halloween Makes: Lined Drawstring Bags + Economy Block Table Runner

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Note: post contains affiliate links. There’s a lot of reasons I’m excited to be done with college, but one of the biggest is because I actually get to enjoy the fall and Halloween sewing! Fall is my favorite season, especially October, and I never feel like I get to slow down enough to really immerse myself in it.

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Sometimes you just have to set your 20 works in progress aside and make a Lined Drawstring Bag or two. I absolutely adore this pattern, and even though sometimes I may get impatient and try to skip a step, it’s always worth the time to follow it exactly and get beautiful results.

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My favorite is the “everything” size, and I knew I wanted to try a patchwork panel after seeing Heidi Kenney’s a while back. I did a simple log cabin block with my favorite Cotton + Steel “Lil Monsters” prints, plus Kenney’s tiny happy gourds (a fat quarter I’ve been hoarding for just the right project.) When I first started making these bags, I always wanted to skip making the strings and use twill tape, but laziness (I almost never have twill tape) won out and actually now I love choosing an additional fabric for the ties. I’ll always err on the side of getting to pick more fabric. The black and white stripe from C+S’s “Wonderland” is one of my all time faves– I love stripes!

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The mini bag is so adorable, it’s one of the main reasons I wanted the pattern! They definitely take practice– don’t let this size be your first one. But it is SO CUTE. I used another beloved stripe (Tula Pink Tent Stripe) and classic Mini Pearl Bracelets and lined it with C+S XOXO in Ghost White. Naturally.

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Lately, I’ve been completely smitten with economy blocks. I loved Creative Grids’ Pineapple Trim Tool (affiliate link) for making my Lagoon pineapple blocks (post soon here!) and made just two layers for the easiest, most accurate economy blocks out of my favorite Halloween prints.

DSCN3482.jpgOne of the blocks ended up upside down, but in the spirit of Halloween kookiness, I decided to leave it. It’s a small runner– about 12″ by 24″, but adds a cheery splash of color to the kitchen table.

DSCN3487.jpgI machine bound it with that same Rifle Paper Caterpillar Stripe as I used for my bag ties.

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This was my first try at free motion quilting, and I think it turned out ok but definitely not perfect. I wanted spiderwebs, and they turned out, once more, a little kooky.