Felt Clearance

I know you are knee-deep in holiday shopping and crafting right now, but I wanted to let you know that felt is moving quickly and I have just reduced felt to 30% off the original price! No coupon code is necessary. You can find the most up-to-date information about colors that are out of stock or low stock in my shop announcement.

 Retro Mama

And now, back to your regularly scheduled holiday preparations!

Happy Stitching!


Fall Sale @ Retro Mama

In these parts, Fall is rapidly beginning to look an awful lot like Winter, but whatever season it is, it's a great time to stock up on felt and patterns!

Use the code HAPPYFALL20 for 20% off your order in my shop, good through midnight December 1, 2014 -- and this discount is on top of already reduced felt prices!

 Fall Sale at Retro Mama

I still have most felt colors in stock (see my shop announcement for updates). Also, as a heads-up, I will be out of town Dec. 3-8 and will not be able to ship felt during that time, so do order quickly if you need your felt for holiday crafting! I cannot guarantee that orders shipped to locations outside the US will arrive in time for the winter holidays.

Happy Stitching!


Fall changes

 Retro Mama | Autumn in Indiana
As the weather cools and the leaves begin to turn here in Indiana, I realize that it is also time to announce a different kind of change: I have adored packing and shipping squishy soft felt for the past 3 years, but I’ve reached a point where it’s time to simplify my life a bit. I had such a difficult time making this decision--I've had so many wonderful interactions with fellow stitchers because of felt--but in the end I think it will be the right choice. Felt is taking over more rooms of my house than I planned and is leaving less time for the creative side of my business, so unfortunately I will be phasing out felt from my shop. I will continue writing patterns and tutorials and all that good stuff.

Once upon a time, my felt kept to itself in a nice portion of my sewing room...
 Retro Mama
Awww...the felt hasn't yet (fully) taken over my sewing room. It's so cute in its little corner...

And then, it started multiplying like tribbles...
 Retro Mama 
 Second room of the house conquered...
The above photo was probably taken a year ago; I can't really fully show you how much space everything takes today!

All colors and sizes are stocked, but please plan ahead as I will not be restocking again (particularly if you need marshmallow, cherry, licorice, or chocolate felt as those colors tend to go rather quickly).

You will find that all felt in my shop has been discounted by 20%, and in the coming weeks I will be listing end of bolt cuts and scrap packs, also discounted. As always, I do send refunds for combined shipping. Remember that you can order multiple sheets of the same color in the custom listings! And if you don't see the combination of felt that you want I'm always happy to set up a custom order for you.

A heartfelt thanks to all my amazing customers for such an enjoyable experience selling felt. I hope now to have more time for sewing and pattern designing and writing and photography so that I'll have new things to share with you a little more frequently!

 Retro Mama | Autumn in Indiana
Happy Stitching!


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!):


"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!


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.


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

 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?


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!



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!


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!


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,