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Top Thread Tips From the Experts at Coats & Clark

Thursday, 03 February 2011 9:00

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One of our very first articles on Sew4Home (way back in the old days of 2009!) was how to go about selecting the right thread for your project. It's still one of the most important topics to talk about; after all, thread is what's holding everything together! We're happy to announce one of the newest S4H supporters is the venerable Coats & Clark - purveyors, for nearly 200 years, of some of the best thread in the business. It was the dawn of the 1800s when Patrick Clark developed a method of twisting cotton yarns together to produce a thread so strong and smooth it could replace the natural silk used in the looms of the day. We worked with Coats & Clark to update our thread information to help you understand not only the standard choices, but some of the specialty options as well.

Valentine's Day: Hoopla Pre-Cuts: Treat Bag Toppers

Wednesday, 02 February 2011 9:00

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Here's a fast and fabulous Valentine's gift idea everyone will love, because it includes both adorable fabric and yummy candy. We created a cellophane bag topper from Charm Pack squares, stitched on a personalized message of love, and sealed it with a secret quick-release basting stitch. When it's finished its job as a bag topper, it can serve as a cute coaster or beautiful bookmark.

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Valentine's Day: Hoopla Pre-Cuts: Box o' Chocolates Heart Pillows

Monday, 31 January 2011 9:00

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This is exactly the project you've been waiting for: the Zero Calorie box of Valentine's chocolate! Our theme of chubby holiday hearts continues with these plump little pillows. We added a pleated chiffon sash across the center to give them the look of the classic heart-shaped boxed of assorted chocolates. Secret Tip: hidden inside layers of batting and muslin keep our hearts smooth and round. They are fast and easy to make and take just small cuts of fabric; use used Fat Quarters of Hoopla by Moda for ours. They'll make a perfect gift for everyone you love, because just like Forrest said, "Life is like a box o' chocolates!"

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Valentine's Day: Hoopla Pre-Cuts: Chubby Heart Coasters

Friday, 28 January 2011 9:00

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This time of year, we're all wearing our hearts on our sleeves. Why not spread the love to a few other items? Today, our chubby cherub hearts perk up a plain square coaster. It's a great project to practice your appliqué skills. We used Charm Pack Squares, which made things very fast and easy. But I bet you could also burrow into your scrap basket and find some cute little pieces that have just been waiting for the opportunity to shine.

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Sewing with Kids Underfoot

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 9:00

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When you have small children at home, your most common question isn't, "How do I make that?" – It's, "How do I make that with a two-year-old and a four-year-old running loose in the house?" (If you have children that age, you should probably stop reading this for a moment and go see what they're up to.) Sewing with little kids underfoot can be a challenge. But if you think ahead and do a little creative planning, you won't have to put away your sewing machine until they're in college. We've collected our best ideas and found some handy expert online resources for fun activities.

Creative People We Love: Izzy & Ivy Designs

Tuesday, 25 January 2011 9:00

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In our third installment of this series, we are happy to introduce you to "The Three Fabri-teers"... that's my name for the trio of very creative women behind Izzy & Ivy Designs. Based in Utah, Shasta Parry, Jana Nielson and Lauralee Billingsley produce a series of absolutely adorable patterns for little girls. Ruffles and flounces, buttons and bows... they make me wish I could still get away with wearing a puffy skirt with four tiers of colorful ruffles... without being mistaken for a giant pastry. The princess skirt on me, maybe not, but one of Izzy & Ivy's signature saucy bags and purses it totally up my alley. These are happy patterns; I think it's because they're designed by such happy and upbeat people. With sixteen children between them, what I see as happiness could simply be lack of sleep, but I think it's really a genuine love of working with their hands to create something fantastic. Shasta, Jana and Lauralee exude an infectious optimism.

Make Your Own Grocery Bags

Monday, 24 January 2011 9:00

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Just when you think you're the reigning 'Queen of Green' – reusing and recycling your way through the day, someone rains on your parade. Two stories hit the media recently about everyone's favorite green choice: the reusable grocery bag. Turns out we should be washing these things after each use or they can become a breeding ground for bacteria. I tried washing the ones I got at my market and they fell apart. Great. Then, another story pops up that shows many of these same bags are coming from overseas and contain potentially unsafe levels of lead. Great x2. Time to make our own: prettier, safer, sturdier. Reclaim your throne, Queen of Green!

Silk Color Block Pillows - Standing Crane: Cascading Bottom Pleats with Bow Accent

Friday, 21 January 2011 9:00

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Did anyone ever try to teach you origami? I'll wager a paper crane was your first, and maybe your only, project. So here's your little known fact for the day: origami is Japanese paper folding; its predecessor is the Chinese paper art called zhe zhi. The graceful crane is revered in China as the symbol for longevity. Although often depicted in flight, the four pleats of our Standing Crane Pillow, the last project in our Silk Color Block Pillows week, simulates the beautiful folded wings of a crane at rest. While you are resting, ponder today's Chinese proverb: 
Better the cottage where one is merry, than the palace where one weeps.

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Silk Color Block Pillows - Tiger Eye: Five Knife-Edge Box Pleats

Thursday, 20 January 2011 9:00

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The Chinese consider the tiger to be king of all the beasts and a symbol of powerful energy. Ancient myths tell of five tigers – white, black, blue, red and yellow – who hold the universe in perfect balance, preventing a collapse into chaos. Our fourth Silk Color Block Pillow is the Tiger Eye with five sharp box pleats representing the five tigers of protection. A hidden line of edgestitching keeps these pleats crisp and clean without any topstitching to disturb the beautiful surface of the silk dupioni. Today's Chinese proverb is: A gem is not polished without rubbing; nor a man made perfect without trials.

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Silk Color Block Pillows - Yin Yang: Swooping Curve of Light Against Dark

Wednesday, 19 January 2011 9:00

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Light is to dark. Hot is to cold. Force is to passivity. Yin Yang describes how both sides of any coin must exist in order for the coin itself to remain whole. The third project in our week of Silk Color Block Pillows is our Yin Yang pillow with a swoosh of light against a line of dark. We show you have to make and insert a facing to produce a sharp, flat curve without topstitching. If you don't spend much time in the world of garment sewing, a facing with understitching may be a new technique for you. Something else new is today's Chinese proverb: Forget the favors you have given; remember those received.

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