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Flannel vs. Batting for Sewing Quilted Garments

I want to make a quilted jacket, but am concerned about the bulk of using batting between the outer and lining layers. Is there another option to keep me from looking like a teddy bear?

Many art quilt garments use ordinary cotton flannel between the inner and outer layers of cloth. It provides stability for piecing and a light warmth, but without the bulk of a thicker batting.

For best results, pre-shrink the flannel before using it. If you don’t, it can shrink considerably, causing distortion in the garment and making it too tight as well.

Some sewers buy flannel by the bolt to have on hand for pieced garments and also to use as an interlining in coats and tailored garments, as well as lightweight quilts. If you choose to do this, watch for coupons and sales and purchase a bolt of white and/or black for multiple uses.

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Ty Pennington Fleece, Home Dec and Fashion Cotton Print Fabrics

I recently had the pleasure of having breakfast with Ty Pennington, host of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Actually, it wasn’t just the two of us, but a group of magazine editors gathered to see the debut of his new Ty Pennington Impressions fabric line from Westiminster Fibers.

Look for these new collections at your local fabric and quilt stores this winter–there are fun fleeces, home decorating sateens and laminates, and fashion cotton prints.

Unlike many celebrities who simply rubber stamp their names onto product line endorsements, Ty actually had hands-on involvement with the collections. He used photographs from his travels, made wood-block stamps of the patterns, then actually stamped them onto cloth in his own backyard to see how they looked with repeats, overlaps, etc.

Being a talented graphic designer — and a hands-on sewer — he then went back to the computer to figure out the fabric designs, repeats, etc. The results are fabulous and knowing that he did it all himself makes them even better!

This is actually my second brush with celebrity this year…I also interviewed Chandra Wilson (Dr. Miranda Bailey from Grey’s Anatomy about her involvement with the Quilts for Kids program. Who knows who I’ll get to chat with next?

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All Dolled Up – Sew Coordinating Outfits for Your Little Girl and Her Doll


Nothing’s quite as cute as a little girl dressed up in an outfit to match her dolly, and author Joan Hinds offers up 20 different coordinating outfits in All Dolled Up. Whether you’re looking to clothe your duo with dress-up garb, casual wear, pj’s or accessories, there’s something for all occasions. Most of the doll clothes can be done in about 30 minutes. Full-size patterns are included for many of the child-size garments and for all the doll fashions.

In addition to the text and colorful photos, this book is part of the Create with Nancy series, so it includes a bonus DVD with additional tips and techniques. There are also tips from Nancy Zieman throughout the text.

Many of the garments in this 128-page book are simple enough even a child could do them, so it’s a good way to teach a young person to sew. 128 pages.

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Sewing License Plates

Oh what fun it is to tell the world about your hobby, and what better way to do it than with a sewing theme license plate. Called “vanity plates” in some states, for an extra fee you can create the wording on the tag yourself. Depending on the state rules, the message can be a combination of letters, numbers and spaces, usually from 1 character to 8. Check with your state vehicle agency for specific rules before you set your imagination working on the myriad possibilities.

If you’re contemplating a personalized license plate, here are some ideas for you to consider. It’s always good to have at least several ideas in mind, since your first choice may already be taken and you can’t duplicate.

SEW COOL, I SEW, I SEW 2, SEWNSEW, SEW NICE, FABRIC, DRSMAKR, SHE SEWS, ISOALOT, SEWAHLC, WILLSEW, ISEW4U, CLOTHES, THREAD, SEWSEW, SEWBIZ, SEW ART, ISEW4FUN, SEW WHAT, QUILTR, SEWNRIP, NEEDLR

If you need more ideas, try flipping through the pages of our website to find other sewing terms that might work. Have fun!

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Charitable Sewing: Quilts for Kids and Quilting for Baby too!


If you’ve not sewn for a charitable cause before, it can be quite rewarding. Recently I became involved with my local chapter of Quilts for Kids, a national non-profit group that delivers colorful quilts to hospitalized children, and others in need through Head Start, Ronald McDonald House, etc.

Making a quilt for a child isn’t brain surgery and it doesn’t have to be an artistic endeavor–all that’s needed are some colorful fabrics and simple sewing skills. Even if you’ve never quilted before, you’ll be successful. Quilts for Kids founder Linda Ayre says only two things are required–”Have fun and fill it with love!”

The quilt sizes vary from 27″-32″ for the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) to twin size, and anywhere in between. Most of the ones I’ve been making are about 42″ square, so a single fabric width works for the backing.

Quilts for Kids has specific guidelines for fabrics and stitching on their web site, as well as a listing of chapters around the country so you can connect locally. The quilts have to stand up to repeated washings in the hospital settings, so be sure to follow the construction guidelines if you become involved with this group.

Not only is it a good way to use up your fabric stash and try out new quilting patterns, but it’s a great way to help a child in need. Free kits are even available from the chapters, should you not have any quilting fabrics on hand. Get together a group of sewing friends, adopt this project as a guild activity, or simply crank out the quilts in your own sewing room. Six million kids are hospitalized annually, so there’s an unending need for quilts–and you can help!


If you need inspiration for a quilt, check out Quilting for Baby, by Jeanne Stauffer and Sandra Hatch. This colorful book has over 50 baby quilts (and some other projects) to stitch up for little ones. Whether you want something interactive with pockets to hide treasures, or something with dimension and tactile appeal, you’re sure to find a project you can’t wait to make in this 176-page book, complete with full-size patterns and color illustrations in the directions.