Tips to Find Time to Sew

As a follow-up to my post about my struggle with finding time to sew with little kids around, I wanted to share some of the things that help me, and some of the great tips I received from other readers and friends. Some of these tips are great too, for anyone struggling with balancing it all {all women}, not just for moms of little ones. A few of the tips I credited to an individual, but a lot of what everyone said was along the same lines, or are things I do, so those I’ve just left uncredited.

Here they are:

1. Prep your machine the night before. Clean it, wind bobbins, change the needle, get the correct thread and foot ready for your next project. Then, it will be ready and waiting. {Tip from charliemarmalade on IG}

2. Have your project ready to sew. Much like the first suggestion, when you get to your planned sewing time, you can spend it sewing, not gathering supplies. This is also great, because if you get an unexpected free moment, you can actually sew, if you want to. I like to sort my projects into baskets, so that I can grab the one I want and work on it, then put it back when I’m done.

3. Sew where the kids are. Even though I have a sewing space, I spend most of my time at the dining room table sewing while my children play in the living, craft at the table, or eat a snack. {Jennifer Dewing, a mom of 9, echoed this sentiment}

4. Let them help out. Many of my sewing sessions are spent with a child on my lap, or my son pressing the foot pedal {my machine lets me lower the speed, so he can’t accidentally make it go too fast}. If I’m making something for my kids, I offer them fabric choices so that they’re excited to see the project progress.

5. Give them an alternate craft. When I really want to get a project done, I get out a craft for the kids to do at the same time. Whether we’re filling old water bottles with random things to make marrakahs, stringing beads, or coloring in a new coloring book, the excitement of their project keeps them occupied while I work on mine.

6. Have hand sewing at the ready. Whether it’s paper piecing, embroidery, or binding, having a hand sewing project that can go outside on sunny days, or to the living room while they play a game, this gives me a little fulfillment and keeps me right with them too.

7. Have a dedicated quiet time. This is an opportunity for children to learn self-entertainment, to recharge, and to give you a little break in your day too. We don’t do this in my house yet, but I’m going to start! {Tip from sevenblessingssewing on IG}

8. Take advantage of help. Whether it’s a free afternoon from grandma or hubby taking the kids to the store, use those unexpected free times to recharge and do what you enjoy without feeling guilty about it {it’s hard, I know}.

sewing-with-babyIt was hard to find a photo of me with Lydia on my lap sewing, as we don’t often have a photographer handy, but here’s one from last year, she was mesmerized by the machine! You’ll notice Legos and the play kitchen in the background, and that my dining room table are the setting.

I hope maybe these tips will help you sneak in a little more sewing {if that’s what you want to do!}. I know that our whole family is happiest when everyone gets a little time to themselves to pursue what they enjoy, even mom!

Stash-Busting Blog Hop :: Retro Mama Scrap Happy Sewing

stash-busting blog hopHello and welcome to our stop on the Stash-Busting Blog Hop to celebrate Kim of Retro Mama’s new books Scrap Happy Sewing  {also on Amazon} and 50 Fat Quarter Makes {also on Amazon}. Since I love sewing with scraps, I was really excited to look through the book and find some adorable projects! The first one that caught my mind was the Scrap Patch Pincushion, which I could not help but make in rainbow colors:


I really thought the pleated side was a special touch too! I used a low volume text instead of the linen from the book, just because I thought it would be fun to show something a little different while using the same technique.

Pincushion-2But, then, when I went to write up my blog post, I noticed that there were already two of these pincushions in the blog hop {no wonder, it’s super adorable!}…so, since my parents are in town and helped entertain my kids, I quickly whipped up a matching rainbow Simply Strippy Sewing Kit:

Pincushion-&-Sewing-Kit-2I added one extra strip to my sewing kit and cut it 1/2″ wider than the pattern, because I wanted to fit a pair of sewing scissors inside. I loved how in the book Kim shows several options for the inside of the sewing kit and encourages the reader to be imaginative with theirs too. Here’s my inside:

Pincushion-&-Sewing-KitFor the scissor holder I just cut two additional wedges from the pincushion, but extended them about 1/2″, sewed right sides together, turned, and sewed it on top of one of the pockets! I used bright plastic snaps on my kit too, because I had them handy.

Pincushion-&-Sewing-Kit-1I’m glad I can send these two goodies home with my mom as a thank you for all her help while visiting this week! Having three little kids and living far from family can be rough sometimes, so it was a really nice treat to have my  mom around for so many reasons!

scrap happy sewing cover

Scrap Happy Sewing photo by Kim Kruzich

I’ve really enjoyed browsing through Scrap Happy Sewing too, the book is beautifully laid out, photographed, and the projects seem eye catching with easy to follow directions. I was given an ebook of both of Kim’s books and the patterns were so easy to print and I’ve enjoyed scrolling through them on my iPad. I’m thinking there are more projects in my future too, I’m thinking the On-a-Roll Crochet Hook Holder may be next, as I have a friend I know loves crochet!

Here’s the rest of the blog hop schedule, and visit Stitch, Craft, Create to enter to win a bundle of books and fabric here.


Thu 2nd  – Retro Mama

Tue 7th  – SCC

Wed 8th  – S.O.T.A.K Handmade

Thu 9th  – Fabricworm

Fri 10th  – Clover & Violet

Mon 13th  – Robot Mom Sews

Tue 14th  – Vivid Felicity

Wed 15th  – Cut To Pieces

Thu 16th  – Straight Grain

Fri 17th  – Sew Take A Hike

Mon 20th  – Vintage Grey

Tue 21st  – Miss Print

Wed 22nd  – Pink Penguin

Thu 23rd  – Sew Creative Blog

Fri 24th  – Follow the White Bunny

Mon 27th  – A Bright Corner

Tue 28th  – Sew Justine Sew

Wed 29th  – LRstitched

Thu 30th  – Pieced Brain

Louisa Bag Remake: Introducing “Bags For Quilters”

Good Morning! It’s Friday and I am looking forward to a nice weekend! We got some snow and it is still very cold here, perfect for sewing and quilting and creating. I have been spending my time sewing on a new Louisa bag. If you would like to purchase a pattern to make your own follow the link here. (We have this pattern available in both pdf and printed form). I chose to do a mix of Bonnie and Camille fabrics for my new bag, I am so happy with how it is looking!

We are doing something a little new, that is to begin a series of blog posts for sewists who make quilts and would like to make bags also. We have heard from  fellow quilters that they aren’t sure if they could make bags but we are going to try to help in that area. We believe if you can quilt you can make a bag, especially our bags. Because we love making bags and designing bags that everyone can make. Maybe there are just a few tips and techniques that would really help make that a reality. Our series will be called “Bags For Quilters”. There’s just something so fun about carrying around a bag that you made using fabric that you really love.

Louisa-front-and-back-panelsThese are the two panels that will make up the main part (body) of my bag, the front and the back of the bag. They are patchwork sewn just as you would for making a quilt. It is simple and arranged the way you want it to look.

Louisa-front-and-back-2We leave a small border of the flannel around the outside to strengthen the seam allowance. I don’t always do this but for the purpose of this photo I have left them on. It is a little hard to see but there is about 1/4″ around the edges of each panel.

Louisa-panels-with-blueNow for the decision part. What to make the gusset (sides and bottom piece), handles and binding out of. I like the blue. Usually when we begin making a bag all of those choices are made before beginning, but I am making this bag from fabric I already have on hand.

Louisa-panels-with-pinkThe second choice I have is a solid pink that I think would also go well with the prints. It really is a matter of choice and what direction I want my bag to go in. Not sure though! I like them both so that makes it really difficult. My other Louisa bag has pink so maybe I am leaning toward the blue. Any thoughts you have would be appreciated. I always love asking!!

We hope you look forward to our series as much as we are and that you follow along, if you have any specific questions we would be happy to answer them! We have a variety of other patterns available in our Clover & Violet Shop that you might want to purchase, some in both pdf and printed form and some just in pdf form. We would love it if you stopped by and had a look!!

Have a great day!!


Scrappy Little Planner {Tutorial}

Scrappy-Little-PlannerPaper planners seem to be everywhere these days. I know lots of people use their phones and other electronic devices for their calendars, but to me {and apparently lots of other quilters too!} you cannot get much better than real paper. So, it only seemed appropriate to put a little sewing and quilting and planners together, and I came up with this scrappy little planner. You could make this cover for a variety of planners, but I’m using this Punctuate Vinyl Planner that I bought from Barnes & Noble for $5, since it was 50% off. I found some on Amazon for a little bit more, but still less expensive than a leather planner.

You could also use a mini binder like this one or this one, and just adjust the cover size a little bit! Or, you could cover a regular notebook, if the rings aren’t important to you.


You’ll need:

  • Binder or Notebook
  • Scraps
  • Batting or Soft and Stable 1/2″ larger than your binder
  • Hidden Magnet or Velcro
  • Bias Tape
  • Foldover Elastic

Scrappy-Little-Planner-1Begin piecing your scraps in any manner you choose. I chose two fussy cut girls from Tasha Noel’s The Simple Life and centered my piecing around them.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-2I sewed my pieces on log cabin style, but pieced some of the longer strips first to give it a bit more dimension.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-3I created mine in a front piece, back piece, then joined them in the center with another strip. I then added the final borders to make it 1-2″ larger than the planner. You can make the patchwork the exact size of your finished cover (about 1/2″ larger than the planner), if you don’t want to waste fabric, but I like having it over sized so I don’t have to worry about any shifting or it being too small.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-4Being careful to check the polarity, sew the magnet to the wrong side of the patchwork piece where you want your closure. I centered mine next to my fussy cut girl, since I wanted her to be near the edge.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-5Cut a piece of Soft and Stable or a double layer of batting about 1″ larger than the planner (again, if you’re not worried about shifting, you can cut it to 1/2″ larger which will be the exact size).

Scrappy-Little-Planner-6Quilt as desired. I used a walking foot which made the quilting much easier. I did a different pattern in each piece of patchwork.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-7Trim the patchwork to 1/2″ larger than the planner {1/4″ on each edge}. Cut two pieces as tall as the planner and 1/2″ narrower. These will be the inside pockets you’re going to slip the planner into. Fold them in half, wrong sides together and press. I then sewed right along the folded edge to finish them.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-9To make larger pockets for the inside, use a scrap twice as tall as your finished pocket height and 1/4″ wider than the inside piece. Fold in half and sew one side at 1/4″, then turn clip corner and turn right side out. Line up the raw edges with the side and bottom of the inside flap and sew along the side.

I also made a patch pocket out of a 6″ x 4″ rectangle. Fold in half and sew on three sides, leaving an opening along the bottom. Clip corners and turn right side out. Then sew to the inside flap.


Here you can see how I sewed the patch pocket and then sewed the larger pocket along the side {it is flipped open so you can see the patch pocket underneath it}.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-11Place both inside flaps on the wrong side of the quilted piece. There should be a gap about the size of the ring portion of the planner in the center. Sew along the sides, also sewing the large pocket down. Round corners if desired {I just cut curves, but you could use a round object too}.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-12Make the magnetic flap by cutting a strip 1 3/4″ x 8″. Fold it in half {1 3/4″ x 4″} and crease. Then sew the magnet right next to the crease. Fold in half again, right sides together, then sew the long sides, back stitching at the end. Turn right side out and top stitch along the edges.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-13Sew the flap along the edge of the back of the patchwork planner body, opposite the magnet, and double checking the polarity.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-14Sew a 1″ loop of fold over elastic to the back of the planner as well, about 2″ from the top, for a pen holder.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-15Sew the bias tape to the outside of the organizer. You can use premade bias tape {as I did for the pink planner above} or make your own. For this planner I made 1/2″ bias binding following this tutorial from Sew 4 Home. One little note, I’ve noticed, as I’m working on learning how to do curved binding, that when you reach the corners, think of pulling the binding back rather than stretching it forward around the curve. This really worked for me!

Scrappy-Little-Planner-16Fold the binding around to the inside and sew in place. I hand stitched mine, but machine stitched would be great too!

Scrappy-Little-Planner-17Next, cut the snaps off of the vinyl cover of the planner. If necessary, trim the body of the planner to fit inside the flaps. I cut about 1/8″ off the edge of my planner all the way around, and made the corners a little more curved too.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-0Then slip the planner under the flaps and you’re done! As an option, you could also sew the planner to the cover, to keep it more secure. I’d recommend using a leather or jeans needle.

Scrappy-Little-Planner-20And, there you have a fun planner, exactly your style! And, if you make one of these, make sure to let us know! Send us an e-mail, share in our Flickr group, or tag @cloverandviolet #scrappylittleplanner on social media!

Cookie Book Kitchen Set {Handmade Gifts}


I’m taking a break from quilting bees this year. I participated in two last year, and eventually fell behind {I’m down to only two blocks left to catch up!}. I have come to terms with the fact that, while lots of people adore quilting bees, they’re not really for me in this season of life. But, I did love the little community that develops around a bee. So, this year, I joined a handmade birthday club. There are twelve of us involved and each month we send a handmade gift to the birthday girl. For January, I sent this fun potholder set to Jenny.

Potholder-SetFor the patchwork, I used the scrappy trip method by Bonnie of Quiltville and just adjusted my number of strips {4 for the potholder and 8 for the oven mitt}. The oven mitt was surprisingly a lot easier than I had anticipated! I used the pattern from Gingercake Sews and loved that the mitt is placed on the fold, so there isn’t a seam down the side opposite the thumb! I now need to make myself some!

Potholder-Set-2The potholder is the pretty little potholder by Amy of Nana Co. and was a little bit more challenging. I’ve been working on my bias binding skills, but still felt that this didn’t quilt turn out perfect {it probably would have helped if I’d have had navy thread, but, of course, I didn’t, and the snow kept me from trying to find some!}. Also, after doing my best to put navy binding on with gray thread, I realized I forgot to bind the top pocket…but I think it worked out in the end!

Potholder-Set-and-Tea-TowelsSince the Cookie Book selvages were so cute and say “full cookie jar, happy home”, I felt I needed to include them. So, I found some white tea towels and sewed them on. My selvages were shorter than my towels, so I used two on each.

I really enjoyed making and sending this gift. Do you  use homemade potholders in your kitchen? I admit, I have some, but they hang on the wall. I think I need to put them to use and replace all my old ones with handmade!