10.17.2014

And the winners are...

The winners have been drawn in my Halloween House Ornament giveaway!

 Retro Mama | Halloween House Ornaments
The winners, who will each receive one of the houses pictured above (which one is a surprise!):

Betsy:

"I love autumn and it shows when I decorate. Every room is now decorated for fall. I just love all the rich jewel tones"--ooh, me too! I'm still decorating, though! So little time, so many autumn crafts!

Nisa Mom:

"what a cute houses :) love your fabrics choice too. My fav.about autumn is about the colors change.. while winter just have white, autumn always have a beautiful colors to see. And not to mention about not being guilty eating pie since the weather is perfect for cup a tea and slice or more pecan pie *blush*" --pie is good any day of the year...it just tastes better in fall, I think!

Erin @ Why Not Sew? Quilts:

"These are adorable! My 3 favorite things about autumn are pumpkin everything, hot apple cider and the changing leaves. Thanks for the chance!" --Autumn might be my favorite season, so much to love!

 Congrats to the winners, and thanks to all who entered! Happy Halloween!

10.14.2014

Halloween Houses (a freebie and a giveaway!)

It's mid-October and therefore completely okay to start getting obsessed with candy in the Halloween spirit. Just the other day someone asked if I had any Halloween décor ideas. Well as a matter of fact, I do!

I never can get enough of making fabric house ornaments, so this year I made some spooky Halloween houses.

 Retro Mama | Halloween Houses
Trick or Treat!

 Retro Mama | Halloween Houses
 Retro Mama | Halloween Houses
 Retro Mama | Halloween Houses
Starting with a color scheme of orange, gray, turquoise, and black, I added simple little pumpkin and bat appliqués.

 Retro Mama | Halloween fabric house ornament WIP
If you want to sew along, I have made a printable for the appliqué templates. You can find the full tutorial and templates for the house ornaments here.

To cut out the teensy appliqués accurately, I did the following:

1. Adhere fusible web (just a little bigger than the template) to the back of your felt with a hot iron, let it cool completely, then peel back the paper about halfway so you can easily remove it later. Do not place the iron directly on the felt, use a press cloth. I recommend using wool blend felt--do not attempt this with synthetic felt!

 Retro Mama | Halloween fabric house ornament how-to
2. Trace around the template onto the paper backing with an ultra fine permanent marker.

 Retro Mama | Halloween fabric house ornament how-to
3. Cut out the square of felt.

 Retro Mama | Halloween fabric house ornament how-to
4. Carefully cut on the traced lines. Use the tippy-tips of your fabric shears or even embroidery scissors for cutting the wee bat ears and other little details.

 Retro Mama | Halloween fabric house ornament how-to
5. Remove the paper backing and sew the appliqué to the house with edge stitching (adhesive side down--you can iron the appliqué to the fabric first if you want, though it does flatten the felt a bit). Do not place appliqués below the line marked on the house template. For the pumpkin, I did not cut out the stem, I just added a few stitches with brown embroidery floss. I turned my original bird into a raven by using black felt with gold floss for the details.

 Retro Mama | Halloween Houses
Haunted house ornaments are so darn cute scary hanging on doorknobs, but they'd make a fun terrifying mobile or garland, too! If you make these, please share your Halloween houses on my Facebook page, Flickr group, or include the link to your blog post below.

And, since I know not all of you sew, I will be giving away these three little houses! Please leave a comment with your favorite thing about autumn to be entered to win. I'll choose 3 winners on Friday, October 17. I can't promise the houses will arrive before Halloween but I'll do my best!

 Retro Mama | Halloween Houses
Happy Haunting!


P.S. My favorite thing about fall is pumpkin pie. And leaves. Oh yeah, and boot weather.

9.23.2014

Technique Tutorial: Satin-Stitched Doll Eyes

I can't count how many times this year I've received e-mails from readers asking if I could make them a ballerina doll because they didn't think they could tackle the hand embroidered eyes. But since I know for a fact that anyone can sew embroidered eyes, I decided to post a tutorial to take the mystery out of it. If you can believe it, I actually find sewing doll eyes to be slightly easier than the blanket stitch on pincushion leaves. Let's jump in!

Technique Tutorial: Satin-Stitched Doll Eyes

 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial

1. So. First things first: embroider the eyes before you sew the hair. That way if something goes so awry that you need to start over, you haven't wasted felt or time sewing the hair (but you won't, because you have this handy tutorial to guide you!).

2. In order to get symmetrical eyes, it's important to start with accurate tracing. In the past, I have taped the pattern to a sunny window and held the fabric on top of it, however my preferred method now is to use a light box, so I don't have to worry about the fabric slipping around on top of the paper or the awkward angle for tracing. If it's still too slippery, go ahead and use a bit of tape to keep everything in place. If you're curious, this is my favorite fabric pen.

3. Sew small backstitches around the eye circles. I aim to have the needle tip go through exactly the center of the traced line or just on the outer edge, then make sure it goes back into the same hole as the previous stitch. Try to be consistent with your needle placement as this will help your circle to be as round as possible. Don't be afraid to take out a stitch or two if your circle forms a little angle. It is way easier to take out a couple of stitches now than to try to camouflage it later. If your circle is persistently angular, your stitches are probably too large.

 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
4. Fill in the circle with satin stitches. Start your stitches right next to the backstitches, or slightly in between them. Try to fill in all the fabric underneath the first time around, but go back and fill in the gaps later if necessary. Start at the bottom of the eye and end at the top. Don't pull the thread super tight, just enough so the thread lies pretty flat and the fabric underneath doesn't wrinkle.

 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
Think you're finished filling in the eye?

 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
Peek-a-boo!

 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
A little gap likes to hide at the top of the eye; use your needle to push the thread downward, hold it with your thumb, and then sew another satin stitch or two to fill in the remaining space.

5. On to the eyelashes! These are just a few little backstitches. I sew the long line downward (2-3 stitches) so the last stitch is even with the bottom of the eye, then add a stitch for each eyelash, sewing the bottom lash first and then the one above. Tie off the knot on the back and trim the thread.

 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
6. This last step is crucial, as it adds some sparkle to your doll's eyes. Sew a single white stitch in the upper right corner of each eye. Aim to have the stitches in the same spot on each eye, even if they aren't exactly where my stitches are. Again, if it doesn't look right, take it out and try again. It's just one stitch and worth a little extra effort to get it the way you want!

 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
On the other hand, don't stress about the inevitable imperfections that are part handmade sewing. My doll eyes are never perfectly even. So when you are struggling a little bit, when you have the urge to just throw it away, sleep on it and take another look in the morning, it's never as bad as you think!

 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
 Retro Mama: Satin stitched doll eyes tutorial
Do you have any questions about hand stitching the eyes? Or is there something else keeping you from making your first doll? Let me know and maybe I can help de-mystify it for you!

Happy Stitching!



P.S. The darling girl pictured above is not my daughter (I know I've been away for a while, but it hasn't been that long!). Isn't she the most adorable little model?

6.09.2014

Newsy news

Hello friends! I'm so sorry for my prolonged absence from posting, but I do have a most excellent excuse...

Let's see if you can guess which of the following is the reason for my disappearance:

A) I'm taking a paddle board sabbatical in Bora Bora
B) I've become Doctor Who's newest companion
C) I forgot my Google password (okay, that's not an excellent reason, but it does sound like something I'd do)
D) I'm writing a book!!!

 Retro Mama is writing a book!

Possibly the exclamation marks have given away the correct answer. Although, doesn't Bora Bora sound nice?

 Retro Mama is writing a book!

I'm absolutely bursting to share every little detail with you, but alas, it's not yet time. Meanwhile, I will continue dreaming, sketching, drafting, cutting, pinning, and stitching up a bunch of adorable projects that I think you'll love and will keep you busy in the near-ish future!

3.14.2014

Congratulations


Congratulations to AliceKiss, who has just won this little elephant. I will contact you right away for your mailing address! Thanks to everyone who entered!

3.10.2014

Mini Elephant Giveaway

It's not Spring, not just yet. But as we are thawing out from (yet another) winter storm here in Indiana, I can't help but daydream a little that it is just around the corner. And so, as I prepare for warmer weather (right, Mother Nature??), I'm doing some Spring cleaning in my sewing room. A few pattern samples are hiding about in here and they are eager to make room for new goodies--so I thought a little giveaway would be fun. Let's start with a tiny Tilly softie!

This cute little polka dot pachyderm is such a cheery companion that I thought she might like to brighten your day, too! Standing at 6" tall, she is a mini version of my elephant softie pattern (you can make your own by photocopying the pattern at 75%).

 sweet little elephant softie from Retro Mama

If you'd like to win this cute little elephant, leave your name and e-mail address in the comments below or in the comments under this post on my Facebook page (one entry per person, please!). International entries are welcome :) I will draw the winner Friday, March 14. The winner has been drawn, thanks to all who entered!

Best of luck to everyone!

2.14.2014

Where Thou art – That – is Home

I’ve got a little something for you. Okay, so it’s very little. I've received so many requests for the pattern since I first posted this quilt block, but I didn’t feel comfortable sharing it just yet because I needed to fix a few things so it would have borders all around and be a proper square, and have a fancier window. Blah blah, excuses. Tiny tweaks, really, but I couldn’t quite get my act together.

And then I realized that this WIP was gnawing at me and I wanted to finish it for those patiently waiting. This quilt block is actually somewhat special to me; I feel as though I’m finally grasping the idea of home, something I’ve found to be quite elusive, having been a bit of a wanderer in life, especially in the geographic sense. I’m ready to choose to be home right where I am, and that original block is displayed as a daily reminder (in my favorite room of the house—my sewing room, of course!) of that sentiment. And, finally, my house quilt block pattern is ready to be shared with you!

 house quilt block | Retro Mama
You can find the Quilt Block House Pattern in my shop. Inside, you will receive not only the house pattern, but some ideas for fabrics, as well as comprehensive enough instructions and photos so that even beginners should be able to assemble it with little difficulty.

This quilt block is so cute on its own as a wall hanging or on a pillow sham or bag, but you could also piece several together to make a curtain border or a full quilt, etc. The block is 8-1/2” x 8-1/2”, and in the pattern I also let you know how to get a 9" block as well.

I hope you enjoy this pattern, wherever your own home happens to be, and I can't wait to see what you make with it!

Happy Stitching,

1.29.2014

"A cute" triangle pillow tutorial

I just made a really nerdy math joke, that is so unlike me (I lie, that is very much like me). My apologies, I blame either sleep deprivation or overzealous hot chocolate consumption. Seriously, Polar Vortex, this is getting a little old.

Anyhoo.

I made this triangle/hexagon pillow a few years ago for my sewing chair, and it is so comfy and has held up so well I thought I'd share a quick tutorial with you. It's machine sewn and does not require any tricky piecing, unlike regular hexagons, so this simple, scrappy pillow whips up pretty quickly!

Triangle Hexagon Pillow Tutorial

 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial

Supplies

First things first, you'll need to choose 6 main colors, and then 4 prints for each of those colors (this should be easy for those of you organized stitchers whose fabric scraps are color coded, for me, not so much, I mostly used fabrics straight off the shelf). This will allow you to do monochromatic wedges, but you could do any kind of design you want. You will also need 1/2 yard of fabric for the back of the pillow. On the pillow above I used regular linen, on my new pillow I chose Essex Yarn Dyed in Black from Robert Kaufman (a super soft linen/cotton blend).

You will also need:
Iron/ironing board
Rotary cutter and mat
Quilting ruler
Straight pins
Scissors
Sewing machine
All purpose thread
Hand sewing needle
Polyfill or other stuffing material
Pattern

My colors - citron, mint, gray, black, off-white, and fuchsia

 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial

Pattern

I started out doing actual geometry to come up with the triangle pattern, until I realized that I could make one very easily in Word. If you're interested, the pattern is just an equilateral triangle, so you can insert a triangle shape into Word and then adjust the width and height to make it the right size (the height should be 86.6% of the width, which is approximate, but close enough for this project; for the pillow, the width is about 5.22"). I mention this because you can make the pattern as large or small as you like. Click here for the pattern.

Instructions

1. Cut one triangle from each of the 24 fabrics (press each fabric before cutting!) and place in the order that you want. The photo below shows half of my triangles. Keep in mind the direction that you are cutting the fabric if your pattern is text or a similarly directional design.

 Retro Mama: Hexagon Pillow Tutorial
2. Now you're going to sew one section of four little triangles into one bigger triangle. Start with two lower triangles:

 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial
Flip over the right-hand triangle onto the first, so they are right sides together. Then sew a 1/4" seam down the right side (if you are using this pillow as a cushion, you might consider triple-stitching the seams, if it is for light use as a throw pillow, then single stitching is fine).

 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial
Open up the triangles and press the seam allowance toward the triangle that will be on the outside.

 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial
Now place your next triangle on top of the upside down triangle, and sew a 1/4" seam down the right side.

 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial
And again, open up the triangles and press the seam allowance to the outside.

 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial
Finally, place the last triangle on top of the center triangle, right sides together, and sew a 1/4" seam across the top.

 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial
 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial
3. Make large triangles with the other five colors.

4. Remember how you connected your first three little triangles? Well, you're going to do that again, with three big triangles.
 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial
5. Sew your remaining 3 triangles together as you did in Step 4.

 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial
6. Place the two larger pieces together, so the long edges line up, and sew them together. Take care to match up the center points as well as you can! Then open up your hexagon and press the seam allowance to one side.

 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial
7. Use your big hexagon as a pattern to make the back. Place the hexagon right side down on your backing fabric and cut around it to make another hexagon (so that both pieces are right sides together). Go ahead and cut off all the little seam allowance points that hang over the edges.

8. Pin the edges and then sew all the way around, leaving about 5" open on one side so you can stuff your cushion. Make sure your corners are sharp--your needle should stop right on the corner seam when you make your turns.

9. Trim the seam allowances around the corners.

 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial

10. Turn your pillow right side out, then press the stuffing hole fabric under so it is sharply creased. Next, stuff your pillow with polyfill (it will start out really fluffy, but the polyfill compresses nicely after sitting on it a few times!), and hand sew the stuffing hole closed with ladder stitches (scroll down to Step 8). Be sure to put plenty of stuffing in each of the corners!

 retro mama: triangle hexagon pillow tutorial

This pillow would look gorgeous in solids, too. I hope you enjoy this little project--and please feel free to link to your photos or blog posts in the comments if you happen to make this pillow!

Happy Stitching,