Tag Archives | Fabric

Sponsor | Grocery Tote with Oly*Fun Fabric!

I’ve been sewing all of my life, having learned at my mom’s sewing machine when I was very young. Although I grew up watching my mom sew clothes, my passion for sewing is less about fashion and more in the craft and home decor type of project.

After all of this time sewing, it’s rare that I get to try something truly new, so I was excited to get the chance to try out the new Oly*Fun fabric by Fairfield (the makers of PolyFil).

Oly Fun Continue Reading →

Coats & Clark, Tim Holtz Announce Line of Quilt Fabric

Fans of Tim Holtz who also take part in sewing and quilting activities will have something to celebrate soon as Tim announced today a new partnership with Coats & Clark that will have him designing that company’s debut fabric line.

Coats & Clark is well-known to sewers and quilters for their thread and sewing notions, and lovers of knit & crochet for their Red Heart yarn and their Susan Bates brand needles & hooks. But fabric will be a new endeavor for Coats.

The new line, called Eclectic Elements, will feature 24 SKUs of fabric designs that will be familiar to Tim Holtz fans from his paper lines. Some of the designs are being produced in two different color tones, taupe and neutral (seen below). The 100% cotton fabric is 44″ wide and will be available on 15 yard bolts. For quilters, the fabric will be available in fat quarters, design rolls, 5” and 10” charm packs and fat eighths, while it is being marketed for papercrafters in 6″ and 12″ fabric crafting packs. Continue Reading →

CHA Summer 2011: The Upholstery Studio

Spotted at The Upholstery Studio booth: kits to upholster your own customized tuffet!

So cute! What a great way to showcase a special embroidery or needlepoint project. I have some beautiful fabrics I could use to make my own lovely footrest!

With their neat kit, you can make a smooth top, or a tufted one.

They showed me how quick and easy it is to use this beautiful embroidery on heavy linen to upholster a smooth oval tuffet. This one doesn’t have its feet yet:

Included in the kit are high quality upholstery foam and bonded polyester batting that pulls easily without coming apart for stretching over upholstery forms

It was a simple process requiring only a staple gun and a few techniques outlined in the instructional DVD that ensure success.

Once you tackle this tuffet project, you can try one of their larger upholstery kits like this classy square ottoman tufted with leather:

or this round ottoman with customized coordinated fabrics:

The Upholstery Studio also offers kits for headboards and cornices:

These are amazing projects for fabric lovers like me! What do you think?

CHA Summer 2011: Clover Needlecraft, Inc.

Clover Needlecraft was debuting a few new exciting products for the fabric crafters out there. The Trace ‘n Create Quilt Templates by Nancy Zieman help you cut your fabric strips and make a quilt in no time at all.  The Grandmother’s One Patch Collection has two template designs with 4 sizes each.  You can create tumblers and Faux hexagons with fast piecing and no Y-Seams.
IMG_0055 And once you have that quilt top sewn, you’ll need to quilt and bind it…  Clover is introducing the Wonder Clips to help you secure that binding for sewing.  The clips are great alternatives to pins if you’re working with materials you don’t want holes in (vinyl, silks etc).
IMG_0053The clips are flat on the back,so you can feed them right up to your presser foot, and they have 1/4” and 1/2” seam allowance marking right on the base of the clips.   IMG_0054
The Wonder Clips will come in sets of 10 for about $7 and boxes of 50 for about $32.

The newest product Clover was debuting was the Kanzashi Flower Makers.  If you’re not familiar: Kanzashi is the traditional Japanese art form of folding and sewing fabric together to creature beautiful and life-like flowers.

A simple square of fabric is folded and clamped in the template, a couple of stitches later and you’ve got a petal ready to go.  Group a few together and your flower is done!
IMG_0051The templates come in 3 forms:  round petals, pointed petals and gathered petals.  There are also two sizes of each available, creating either 2” or 3” finished flowers.  Retail will be close to $5 each.

What was your favorite new product by Clover?  What do you want to try the most?  What would you make with it?

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: Sizzix eClips Electronic Shape Cutting Machine


Ever since this winter’s CHA, the scrapbooking world has been buzzing about the debut of the Sizzix eClips Electronic Shape Cutting Machine.  I can tell you:  I was waiting for it to be released, too.  Even though I am anything BUT a scrapbooker.

Then why would I want it?

Well, the eClips cuts fabric and materials other than your standard scrapbooking fare.  Craft foils (different thicknesses even) and chipboard?  Yep.  Vinyl?  Yep!

The starter kit comes with one machine, 2 blades, the handheld unit, cradle for the handheld unit, starter cartridge with booklet, software update, 12×12 cutting mat and user manual.  Note the small purple cable – it’s a mini-USB cable that you’ll need to do the software update; it’s not included.

The eClips boasts 700 grams of pressure and adjustable blade speeds/pressures so you can power through most anything.  I was able to stump it, but I had to really try!  🙂  In fact, the only things I could not get it to cut are craft foam (though it scored it nicely!), thick felt, and corrugated cardboard.


One of the best features of the eClips is the Handheld Remote Control.  It slides open to reveal a full keyboard, adding to the ability to completely customize your designs.  The display is large and easy  to read.  There is a very slight delay once you select a design, but it is minimal and you get used to it quickly.  You also input into the unit what kind of material you are cutting and it sets everything automatically for you.  All you have to do is adjust the blade thickness right on the blade cartridge.  Easy peasy!

It really is to use.  Right out of the box.  To show how really easy it is to use:  here is a video I’ve put together while drinking my morning coffee showing how to use the eClips from start to finish (and let me just say that crafts before coffee is usually not a good idea around here!)

First I cut a little sign from vinyl for my front door sidelights.  Admittedly, I hate how this came out.  The font is just too silly for something so serious.  A more neutral font would have been great to include in the “Starter” cartridge versus the Rockin’ Janey font.  It’s just hard to read when cut this small.

Here is a screenshot of the designs on the “Starter” cartridge included with the eClips.  Cute, right? 6a00e54ef8884488340120a7ffb1bf970b-800wi

Next, I put the eClips to my “REAL” test.  Fabric is always on my mind, so naturally this was the MAIN reason why I wanted to use this machine.  It works!  I suggest slowing the machine down one more notch than the “preset” to prevent any tearing at sharp inside corners.

To cut fabric, press it really well with the addition of spray starch, and apply your favorite fusible web.  I tried a few different brands, all with the same level of success.  The key is to starch it, and slow it down a bit more.

Here I cut out a Birthday Cupcake and a pair of ties.  Note that I cut the cupcake pieces from different scrap fabrics.  It was really easy to do, so don’t worry!  The ties are actually an “embellishment” for the sweet teddy bear, but since you can cut anything within the design card at any size, it doesn’t matter!
My daughter decided I had made a “Flying Cupcake” no matter what I told her!

I fused the shapes onto cheap $1Store cotton tshirts, zigzagged around the edges and my kids had cute customized shirts within about 30 minutes total.  From initial eClips cutting to snipping the threads.  That’s awesome, right?!
That same afternoon, I whipped out a receiving blanket and coordinating burpcloths for an unexpected early arrival.  Of course, I was in such a rush to deliver them that I didn’t get a picture of them!
IMG_0609Lastly, a birthday surprise for my darling husband!  I don’t normally decorate for birthdays around here – but I just knew once I found that the eClips did so well with fabric that I had to make a bunting of some kind.  The Mister had been having lots of late night meetings the week of his birthday, so while he was out one night, I whipped this CELEBRATE bunting up with scraps and it took about 2 hours total.  He really loved it and said it made his day!


  • Handheld remote design center
  • Cuts a wide variety of materials
  • Laser Cut Preview
  • Speed control, pressure control, depth control – all to ensure you can cut just about anything!
  • It will also draw with a pen (holder required) and score certain designs.


  • Cost of cartridges ($39 – $89 each)
  • No option to connect eClips to the computer so you can design/cut from there if desired (there are rumors something is coming soon, but nothing concrete as of today)
    • I’d like the computer connection so I could download only the designs I need immediately and to be able to use my fonts.
  • Some of the designs have details that are cut before outlines are cut.  If the extra details are not desired and are cut afterward, you can cancel the cut at the desired place and be done.


It’s Sizzix Week at Craft Critique! Our friends at Sizzix have graciously provided some of their products for us to giveaway to our very lucky readers. We have a Big Shot and an eClips to give away, both of which you’ve read about this week. Just answer the following question to be entered in the giveaway:
Have you had a chance to see an eClips in action before?  What feature do you think you would like the most or would be most useful?
One comment, per person, per Sizzix article, please. Winners will be selected on Saturday, July 16, 2011.

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY!: Sizzix Big Shot

I was pleased to have the chance to test out the traditional die cutter, Big Shot by Sizzix and some of the Westminster Fabric dies which are specially designed for fabric and quilting. There is nothing that compares to a die cutter when one needs to dependably cut a large amount of shapes that are exactly sized and shaped.

I received the Big Shot Machine, which will cut with dies up to 6 inches wide. The package includes two clear Standard Cutting Pads, and the Multipurpose Platform which is used to accommodate various specialty dies like Sizzix Texturz, Embosslits, Clearlits, and Textured Impressions, or any product offered by Sizzix. The Big Shot is sturdy and with the crank on the side (instead of a lever that swings across the top) the Big Shot stores easily. The handle makes it convenient to move around to various workstations.

I also received three Westminster Fibers Dies: 2 1/2 Inch Hexagons, Plain Leaves, and 5 Inch Half-Square Triangles. Dies are most useful for fabric when they are simple shapes with gentle angles and curves. Anyone who is going to be sewing with their die cut shapes will need to quickly make a large pile of cutouts. The best tool for this job is a die cutting machine.

The 2 1/2 Inch Hexagons die cuts four hexagons at a time. The first thing I thought to try with this die was English Paper Piecing which is a hand sewing technique that stabilizes fabric around a paper template. Generally, one has to purchase the paper templates from quilt shops or other sources. With my own die, I can cut piles and piles of them and maybe even achieve my very own handsewn Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt.

Holy Moley! I can’t wait! Okay, before I get ahead of myself, I’ll just try making one flower. I die cut a pile of 2 1/2 inch hexagons, and in the Big Shot, I was able to cut several layers of paper at a time. Next I used scissors to cut fabric pieces about 1/4 inch larger than the paper template and pinned the paper to the center of the fabric piece:

Now I baste the fabric around the paper. You really only need a few stitches to hold it together. I’ll need seven basted hexagons to achieve one flower. When they are all basted, I whip stitch the hexagons right sides together:

I forgot how much I love handstitching! In just a short time, I stitched a whole flower and a border around it. This is the underside before I finished the whole block. When a hexagon is totally surrounded, you can remove the basting and use the paper for another fabric hexagon. I started die cutting any scrap paper that entered my house, especially my daughter’s finished and graded school papers.

I’m telling you, I really got addicted to this and I started making calculations for a whole queen-sized bed quilt. My friends in my craft club recommended I try die cutting freezer paper hexagons and skip the basting altogether. Freezer paper worked great! I made about 45 hexagon flowers before I realized I was going to have to set this aside and try out the other Westminster Fiber dies. I know I never would have tried out this traditional technique if I didn’t have this terrific die from Sizzix.

Sizzix sells Bigz Hexagon dies in 4 different sizes, so if these are too large for you, there are several other options.

I got so excited about those hexagons, I forgot to show you how to actually use the Big Shot with Bigz dies. Bigz dies are 6 inches wide. You can use any other Sizzix product in the Big Shot, as long as it is not wider than 6 inches. When die cutting with the Big Shot and a Bigz die, sandwich the die and your fabric, paper, felt, or other material, face up between the two sheets of plexiglass.

I’m using 2 layers of felt here and the Plain Leaves die which cuts 8 simple leaves of various sizes. The largest leaf is about 3.5 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. The smallest is the same proportion at just 1.5 inches long. With the Big Shot, you can cut several layers of material at a time. If you pack in too much, you will not be able to pass it through the Big Shot.With a die cutting machine you can get large piles of perfect shapes in a flash. I cut a nice selection of felt leaves. There is very little waste of my precious wool blend felt using this die.

Felt is awesome and the Big Shot cuts it just like butter. For my project, I’m going to also cut some leaves from fabric and iron-on fusible webbing. Lickety-split, I have a pretty pile of fabric leaves exactly the same size as the felt I just cut.

I ironed fusible web backed fabric leaves to felt with floral wire between to make this leafy fabric sprig. I can make a lot of these and make them into a wreath, or this would make a nice bow for a special wrapped package

Bigz dies can also cut aluminum cans!

I backed my tin with sticky foam to soften the edges and make it easier to craft with.

My daughter loves her new hairclip made with a plain leaf and some circles from another Sizzix Originals die I already own. Don’t fret! My Sizzix dies still work like a charm on felt and fabric even after cutting paper or aluminum.

People who already own a Big Shot and are ready to try quilting will want to try out the 5 Inch Half Square Triangle die. The 5 inch measurement is unfinished. Your sewn square will measure 4 1/8 inches in a finished quilt block, depending on the size of your seam allowance and how aggressively you iron your block open.

I cut strips of fabric about 6 inches wide. I’m going to stick with reds and whites in this project, so each time I made a cut, I layered a red strip right sides together with a white strip so the units would all be matched up and ready for the sewing machine.

I was able to cut about 6 to 8 layers of fabric at a time, but if I loaded too much, bits of fabric and fuzz stuck in the corners of the die. Occasionally, there were threads along the outside that didn’t cut, but this was not a problem as I was able to cut them quickly with my seam ripper.

I settled into a rhythm of 4 layers at a time. With the long strips of fabric, I could conserve by making my cut, then sliding the die to the next area and cutting again. I had very little waste.

So many triangles! My grandma would be pleased to see me using the fabric she bequeathed me from her sizable stash. Be careful handling these triangles because the diagonal edge is the stretchy bias and you don’t want to end up sewing a bunch of wonky squares. The other method of cutting half square triangles would be with a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler. I am not sure if this method is faster, but it certainly is more precise.

Crafters with a Big Shot who want to dabble in quilting can make a whole quilt with just this die and no investment in a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler. You don’t even need a good pair of fabric scissors if you use these quilting dies.

Just stitch up the diagonal of each set keeping an accurate 1/4 inch seam.

There are so many pleasing possibilities with Half Square Triangle units!

I settled on this setting which measures about 33 inches square and uses 64 Half Square Triangle units. You may keep a slightly different 1/4 inch seam allowance than I do so your finished top may have a slightly different measurement.

  • Portable, durable, dependable, affordable.
  • Doesn’t require electricity, sticky mats that lose their stickiness, or computer programming.
  • Cuts a wide variety of materials interchangeably. Obviously, use discretion when choosing what to cut and don’t overload the dies. If a material doesn’t cut with scissors, it isn’t likely to cut with the Big Shot.
  • Useful selection of dies available for quilt making, felt craft, and fabric.
  • Westminster Fiber dies are well designed to make effective use of a fabric supply with little wasted fabric.
  • Nothing compares to a traditional die cutter like this when a large supply of shaped cutouts is desired.
  • New quilters can design a whole quilt using just one of the Westminster Fiber Bigz dies with no investment in many of the traditionally necessary tools for quilt making.
  • Shapes are not customizable
  • Bigz dies are thick, so a collection of them will take up space in the craft closet.
  • Dies are labeled on the side. It would be helpful if they also had an image of the shape on the top of the die.
  • It is not necessarily quicker to cut all the pieces of a quilt with the Big Shot, but the accuracy and precision cannot be beat.


It’s Sizzix Week at Craft Critique! Our friends at Sizzix have graciously provided some of their products for us to giveaway to our very lucky readers. We have a Big Shot and an eClips to give away, both of which you can read about in upcoming reviews. Just answer the following question to be entered in the giveaway:Do you own a die cutting machine? Which one(s)? What crafts would you use the Big Shot for?

One comment, per person, per Sizzix article, please. Winners will be selected on Saturday, July 16, 2011.

Vendor Spotlight and Giveaway: Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter

Reported by Erika Martin

When I cut a circle, I want perfection. I don’t want there to be any bumps where there shouldn’t be. I don’t want jagged edges or an oval. I want a circle – a perfect one. But that’s been hard to do on my own. I’ve used a protractor when I need an exact size, but the cutting doesn’t always go as I planned. I’ve traced around plates, bowls and cups and the results have never been quite what I wanted. Having the opportunity to review the Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter was something I REALLY wanted. Let me tell you….Mama likey!

When I first looked at the cutter, I was stumped as to how something so simple looking could cut circles. It almost seemed too good to be true that there weren’t a million pieces or a large glass cutting mat or big circle apparatus that I needed to use. For real? Just the simple ruler handle, blade, ratchet and spike? No way! It couldn’t be that easy.
The Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter cuts clean and perfect circles from 1 7/8 inch to 8 1/2 inches every time, and it can cut through multiple layers. It has a ratchet mechanism on it for easy turning so you can cut in one smooth movement. The blade is protected by a built-in blade cover for safety and the pivot spike also has it’s own plastic guard for when it’s not in use.

The cutter is designed with both left and right-handed users in mind as well as being designed to reduce wrist fatigue when it comes to needing to cut a multitude of circles for quilting patterns. According to the packaging, the Rotary Circle Cutter can cut cloth, leather, paper, vinyl, film, wallpaper and more. Best of all, Olfa guarantees their handles forever.
The Olfa website has a video demonstration to show how to use the cutter which was so helpful for me, seeing that the packaging only had a small picture on the front that served as instructions (though it did give the web address of the site on the back of the package for viewing a product demonstration). You can also find a PDF file that shows how to change the blade on the Rotary Circle Cutter on the website. The video demonstration actually made more sense on how to change the blade than the PDF did, though.
I took on a really big project for my first try with the Rotary Circle Cutter. My first quilt. Yes, you read that right, this was my first quilt. Quilting has always intimidated me due to the fact that all of the pieces have to be cut and sewn with precision and paper has always seemed to be more forgiving to me. I love sewing with patterns, but quilts scared me. When I thought about a way to use the Rotary Circle Cutter, I thought how easy it would be to make a quilt top with appliqued circles. So that’s exactly what I did.
Here’s a quick video I had my daughter take of me cutting out a circle using the cutter.
One thing that I wish the ruler on the handle had is numbers that mark the inches and centimeters and in between. it can be a bit confusing when measuring. I took care of that for myself by using a fine paintbrush and acrylic paint to mark the inch marks.

I had so much fun moving the measurement slide back and forth without having any certain sizes in mind. This was a great way for me to get used to using the tool without having to be so precise. I cut all different sizes and went through multiple layers of fabric to make the cutting quicker. Here’s the pile of circles that I cut out.
I decided to do a lap quilt since it only required cutting twice on some yardage of 45″ fabric. I left the selvages in place since they were narrow and would eventually be hidden by the side seams.

I spread my top piece of fabric out on the floor and arranged the circles until I got the look I wanted and then pinned them into place.

I then appliqued all of the circles using a zig-zag stitch and going for a primitive look (my kind of quilting) by not worrying about making sure the zig-zag stitched precisely on the edges of the circles. When the quilt is eventually washed, the edges of the circles should fray nicely and give it a homey look.

Because I don’t have a long-arm quilting sewing machine, I went even further primitive and used a needle and embroidery floss to tie off the quilt so the batting wouldn’t shift. I remember one of the quilts that my mother made when I was a little girl and loved looking at all of the little knots on the quilt that she used to tie it off.

The Rotary Circle Cutter was a great way for me to use up my scraps for this quilt and I’m so pleased with how it turned out. The plan is to have it on the couch for whoever wants to cuddle up with it, but my 11-year old daughter is going to summer camp for the first time ever and I told her she could take it with her. That made her so excited and she said that she can’t wait to show it off to her cabin mates. I’m just hoping that it makes its way back to the couch and not into her room. If that happens, I’ll just make another one since this one was so easy.
Now I wonder if she’ll expect me to make her a new quilt every year when she heads off to summer camp!

Next up was a yoga mat bag that I’ve had my eye on in the One Yard Wonders book (click on that link to see the review that I did on this book here on Craft Critique). I’ve even had the fabric bought for a year and sitting in my fabric cupboard. I finally got the chance to try it out because the fact that I needed to cut two circles at 6 1/2″ in diameter had me worried that I wouldn’t do it right.
Using the Rotary Circle Cutter gave me perfect 6 1/2″ diameter circles to use as the bottom of my yoga mat bag.

Pinning the circle was a breeze because the edges were cut flawlessly.

I honestly don’t doubt that this fabric would still be sitting in my fabric cupboard indefinitely if it weren’t that I were able to use the rotary circle cutter to finally get it done.
Now my poor yoga mat can stay clean in its new bag instead of sitting on the floor of the van at the mercy of the kids’ shoes and the dogs’ paws.

I wanted to try out the blade on paper, so I put together a quick shabby chic card using patterned paper and stitching. I cut out several sizes of patterned paper circles on top of a cutting mat. It was a bit different than cutting fabric since fabric has a more give and movement to it than paper does.

My first try didn’t go so well since I wasn’t giving enough pressure on the blade. Second time was perfect.

Here’s my pile of circles ready to go on a card.
The only drawback to cutting paper materials with the circle cutter is that the pivot spike does leave a pin hole right in the center of your paper circle.
Here’s my finished card. A simple stamp with some brown ink on top of one of the circles completed my card.

My last project was a felt covered journal. As you can tell, I like the look of overlapped circles, so that’s what I did with this journal.
I cut out different-sized felt circles, combined with some really small circles that I cut with a die cut machine, and then hand stitched them onto the felt. The cutter sliced through the felt like a hot knife through butter.

The Rotary Circle Cutter retails for $26.99 and can be purchased on the Olfa website. Replacement blades retail for $7.99 for a pack of two blades. If you’re looking for a rotary cutter that cuts larger than 8 1/2 inches, there’s also the Heavy Duty Compass Circle Cutter.
Regardless of the few cons that I found, overall, Mama likey! This will definitely become an indispensable tool in my craft room. I’m already planning some other projects that I want to use this on: bean bags, pincushions, round potholders, and more. With some adult supervision (after all, that blade and pivot spike are SHARP), my daughter and I are going to have some major sewing fun with this tool.

  • Cuts easy and perfect circles every time.
  • Ratchet handle for smooth cutting and cuts with one fluid motion.
  • Designed for left and right-handed crafters.
  • Cuts circles from 1 7/8 to 8 1/2 inches
  • Cuts cloth, leather, paper, vinyl, film, wallpaper and more.
  • Reduces wrist fatigue.
  • Blade and pivot spike both have safety guards.
  • Lightweight and simple to use.
  • Olfa has a “forever guarantee” on their products.
  • Super sharp and durable stainless steel blade.
  • Measurements on handle are only marked by lines, but do not include inch or centimeter numbers.
  • Product only comes with a small photo diagram on the front of the packaging to show how to use the product. For more information on how to use this product and how to change the blades, you need to access a video demonstration and PDF file on the Olfa website. This is a disadvantage for those without internet access.
  • Pivot spike leaves a pinhole in the center of any paper materials you cut.
Our friends at Olfa have given us gift pack to give to two lucky readers. Leave a comment answering the following question to be entered:

How do you cut circles? Does the Olfa Rotary Circle Cutter look easier than your current system?

One comment per person per article (this is the fourth of four, over a two-day span), please. Winners will be chosen on Saturday, July 9, 2011.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!