Up up and not away…

Up – for up-cycling.  As in, don’t throw those old jeans that don’t fit away… not without cutting the legs off first.

It started out very simply… Allison had an adorable little bag she’d made using the new Mon Ami collection and some old jeans as part of her display in the Basic Grey booth at Quilt Market.  I fell in love with it… coveted it… and was thrilled when Allison gave it to me.  (No, whining was not involved.)


The one on the left with the yellow button… it’s mine now.

The problem started before I even got home.  I was obsessed with making one.  Or at least two – most of my jeans come with two legs so using one leg for a bag meant I’d still have another to use.

I posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook, and well, the requests for a tutorial began immediately.  Lissa and Chelair thought it was hilarious as they both said I should have seen it coming.  (Rookie mistake.)

So here goes.  Start with the leg of a worn pair of jeans – the softer the better.  Decorative stitching on the seam like that on the two bags above is optional.

Materials Required:

  • 1 pair of jeans – actually just 1 leg of a pair of jeans
  • 1 fat quarter of pretty fabric – Moda, of course
  • Soft & Stable – recommended – a piece measuring 12″ x 20″ should suffice
  • Embellishments – as desired

Length required – that depends.  I found that 10″ to 11″ worked really well regardless of the width of the jeans’ leg.  If the jeans are really “big boy” jeans – a width of 18″ to 20″ – then an 1″ or so more will work.  It depends on what you want to do with the finished bag.


Use the straightest part of the leg that you can find – probably in the knee to calf-area.  This was cut 11 1/2″ – it was my experiment and it’s why I prefer it a bit shorter.  Measure the width in a couple of places – write down the narrowest width.  This leg measured 14″ in width – 7″ from side to side when flat.  (No, these were not my jeans.)


Turn the leg wrong-side out – inside out.  I recommend pressing it flat as it will make this step a little easier. One seam should be on the side, the other will not be – as shown above.

Straightening the leg.  Using a ruler, draw a line on the seam-side of the leg that is an equal distance from the fold to the edge.  Using a rotary cutter, cut off the excess so that what remains is the same width.  (In this picture, the top of the leg was wider than the bottom of the leg so trimming the leg straight meant cutting off the seam at the top.)


Using the same seam allowance as is on the jeans leg – 3/8″ on this particular leg – or a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew the side of the leg so that is is straight.


With wrong-sides still out, center one of the seams and press the leg flat – including both seams.  This leg has a line of stitching along the outside seam that I wanted to center in the front of the bag like the Basic Grey bags have.

Sew a 1/2″ seam allowance all the way across the bottom.

Using a ruler and some kind of marking tool – I used a Sharpie pen – mark the corners.  The lines should be the same distance from the seam line as from the fold.  Depending on the width of the jeans’ leg, I recommend 1″ to 1 1/4″.

Note: I goofed on this bag and measured from the bottom edge instead of the seam line.  It still worked  but it did make matching up the seams after the corners are trimmed a little less neat.  Just saying.


Cut off the corners.


Match up the edges – folding the denim at the corner cut – and stitch a 1/4″ seam allowance across the opening.  This will “box” the corners.  Yes, the sewing will be a little easier if you keep the bottom seam open.


Embellish as desired.  I found it a little bit easier to do this at this point since I would have a better idea – better, not perfect – of how the bag would sit after this step.

For this, I cut squares using a scalloped rotary cutter and fused a slightly smaller square of Steam-A-Seam Lite to the back.  I wanted the edges to be a little loose so I didn’t fuse first.  The pieces were then fused to the jeans and machine-stitched around the edge.  The rick-rack was stitched on to allow for a 1/2″ seam allowance on the top.  (It’s a little high – an “it’s been a long time since I used rick-rack” goof.)

Now for the lining.  Please bear with me as the terms are going to switch – Using the measurements of the jeans’ leg, this is how to determine the size of the piece to cut:

  • How wide is the strip?  This is the same measurement as the length of the jeans leg.  E.g., If the leg is cut to measure 11 1/2″ from top-to-bottom, the width of the strip will be 11 1/2″.
  • How long is the strip? Cut the length to measure the width of the jeans plus 1″ – 1/2″ seam allowance on both sides.  E.g., If the jeans leg measured 14″, cut the fabric to measure 15″ long.

So from the fat quarter, I cut a strip that measured 11 1/2″ x 15″ wide for a jeans’ leg that measured 14″ wide (7″ flat, double-thickness) x 11 1/2″ long.

Whew.  Still with me?

From the Soft & Stable, cut a piece that is 1/2″ less in width and 1″ less in length – or 11″ x 14″.


This is not required but I found it easier not to have the bulk in a couple of the seams.

Quilt as desired.  Or not.  I liked the way it looked quilted, and with Soft & Stable, I could quilt it without a lining.  The adorable bags by Allison of Basic Grey were not quilted.


Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, join the sides to make a tube that measures the same as the jeans’ leg.  Center the seam and press it open.

Note: This picture has the bag upside down – the end with the 1/2″ exposed fabric is the top edge.  The end with the batting all the way to the edge is the bottom of the bag.


Stitch across the bottom – except don’t stitch all the way!  Leave an opening approximately 2″ to 3″ – or stitch a little more than your measurement from the side.  E.g., if you’re going to mark 1″ away from the side, stitch at least 1 1/2″.  Sharpie – love them.

Note: Yeah yeah… as before, I wasn’t paying attention and measured the distance from the bottom edge, not from the seam line.  Do what I say, not what I do!


Cut off the corners.


Match up the edges – fold at the corner.  Use a 1/4″ seam allowance and stitch across – yes, keep the bottom seam pressed open.


With right sides together, put the jeans’ leg inside the lining.  The seam for the lining will be in the back – and it will not line up with a seam on the jeans’ leg.  The boxed-corners will help with the placement of everything.


Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew all the way around the bag.


Reach into the opening in the bottom of the lining and carefully pull the jeans bag through the opening.


Continue pulling the bag through until it is the seam joining the pieces is fully open – press as desired.


Stitch the opening at the bottom of the lining closed – by hand or by machine.  Guess which one I picked?

Push it down into the jeans’ leg, pushing out the corners.  Top-stitch if desired – it’s optional.  (I tried lots of different things with the different bags.)

Fold down the top.


Admire your handiwork.



At this point, I feel it is necessary to tell you, in the interest of full disclosure to be completely honest with you.  We’re friends, right?

Making these bags is just a teeny, tiny bit… addictive.

They’re relatively fast.  They’re cute.  Okay, they’re adorable.

And if you’re at all into embroidery, the possibilities for embellishment are endless.

What happens now is on you…


Don’t say I didn’t warn you – or at least try.

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Binding: A Tutorial with Paper Box Quilt Co.

Bindin A Tutorial

 Hi there friends!  I’m Jessie from Paper Box Quilt Co. (Inside The Paper Box) and I’m stopping in to bring you a tutorial on how to bind your quilts.  I have been asked, mostly on Instagram (InsideThePaperBox), how I get my binding so “nice” or how I get my corners so “perfect”, so I thought I would share what works for me!

When I started quilting I searched for tutorials online about all the different steps of quilting and used a collaboration of many methods to figure out what worked for me.  That was about 5-6 years ago, and recently, I was thinking “why post a tutorial on binding?  Everyone knows how to bind!”  FALSE.  It was like I forgot I was once looking, myself, for tutorials on the basics of quilting.  So, I hope, if you are just learning, re-learning, or looking for a new method, that this binding tutorial is helpful.  Let’s get started, shall we?  (Please excuse the picture overload about to take place.  I find tutorials with pictures to be the most helpful)

To begin, you’ll need to determine your length of binding to cut.  Measure the length and width of your project (Ex. Crib Quilt = 45″x60″).  Add your lengths together and multiply by 2 (45″+60″=105″) (105″x 2=210″).  Then you’ll want to add 10″-20″ to allow for mitered corners and all your joining (210″+20″=230″).  So 230″ of binding total.  Now, how many strips to cut?  Measure the useable width of fabric (WOF) of your binding fabric.  Maybe you’re using a yard piece of fabric which would be about 42″  or maybe you’re using a fat quarter for a smaller project which would be about 22″.  For our example we will use 42″, so take your total length of binding and divide it by your useable WOF (230″/42″=5.476).  Round up to the next number and you’ll need to cut 6 strips.  (I wanted to include calculations, but for anyone with smartphone access, there are apps that you can use for figuring all kinds of quilty calculations, including binding length, width, cutting instructions).

Okay, so we know we need to cut 6 strips, but how wide?  I cut mine 2″-2.5″ depending on the project.  It’s really a personal preference on how big you want your binding to be.  I’d say 2.75″ is a good width, so 6 strips, 2.75″ wide for this example.

Sewing our binding together.  I like to put mine together with an angled seam to cut back on bulk.  Lay out your strips on your ironing board as seen below in image 1, lining up your corners in a right angle, right sides together (RST).  Pull back the top right corner of the top strip to where the fabrics come together in the right angle (image 2) and press.  This will create a nice angled crease that you will use as a guide to sew your strips together (image 3).  Do this to all your strips and end with one flat strip and all the rest creased (image 4).

Moda Blog

 Starting with your un-creased strip, line them up, RST, in a right angle as you did above for pressing and sew along your crease.  Continue until you have all strips sewn together in this manner.

moda blog 8

 Trim all your “corners” off your strips 1/4″ from your seam (below).

Moda blog 2

 Press the seams open.  This cuts back on bulk later when you sew your binding to your project.  Then press your binding in half (bottom right).  If you have cut your strips 2.75″ this will leave your folded/pressed binding measuring 1.375″ wide.

moda blog 3

Pin the binding to your project, lining the raw edge against the outside of your quilt.  Leave a generous “tail” (I leave like 10″ or so) on both the beginning and ending of your binding (left) and make sure you leave a nice big space between both.  I leave 10″-15″ when possible, to leave enough space for joining your binding later.  For your corners, fold your binding strip backwards, off the quilt as shown below, top right, so that you create an angle fold and so that your strip is completely straight off your quilt.  Then fold the binding back over the top of your quilt, creating a straight corner and lining up your edges again (bottom right).  (This is kind of hard to explain, I hope the directions are clear and the images are helpful).  You can see the pinned corner in the image on the left, it leaves a little folded “tag”.

moda blog 4

 Starting at your first pin, sew your binding to your quilt using a 1/4″ seam allowance and securing the end with a backstitch.

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 When you approach your corner, slow your stitch and stop 1/4″ from the edge of the quilt.  Turn your work and backstitch off the quilt (below, left).   Pull your work off the machine.  (I don’t actually clip my thread at this point, just keep them attached)  Flip that little corner tag over the edge that you just stitched (below, right) and you’ll start your stitching again, 1/4″ from the edge on your next side.  You can see in my image below, there’s a bit of a crease, I like to use that as a guide for lining up my needle.  Secure your stitches with a backstitch and sew along your new side repeating the above steps for all 4 corners.  Sew to your last pin making sure to leave that nice big gap for joining your ends.

moda blog 5

Place your work on your ironing board with the ends accessible.  Line up both ends along the edge of your work, folding them back near the center of your gap.  Next is a little “trick” I use to avoid pinching or overlapping my binding, I leave about 1/8′ space between my ends where I want to sew them together (below).  I find that leaving that little space makes my binding tighter and more accurate after stretching/shifting occurs when sewing it down.  (This is just something I found that works for me, just from a little experience with sliding/shifting binding).  Press to crease.

moda blog 9

 Fold your “gap” in half, lining up the edges of where your binding starts and stops and PIN IT (top left).  This will just help a little with your “struggle” when you sew your ends together.  Find the creases you created above and MATCH them up, RST and pin, making sure NOT TO TWIST YOUR BINDING (bottom left).  Then, SEW along your crease! (right & below).

moda blog 6


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 Trim the excess binding 1/4″ from your seam (left).  I like to open my seam, refold the binding in half and press it, but pressing is optional if you feel comfortable opening your seam and just refolding your binding without pressing.  Just something I do for better accuracy.  Line up the raw edge of your binding to your work and sew your gap closed, securing your stitches at both ends with backstitches. (right)

MOda blog 12

 For small projects, particularly, I like to fold the binding over as you see below and press it down.  It seems to help when I move on to the next step, pinning/clipping, and leaves a nice, straight, unstretched binding edge.  You can probably do this to a large quilt too, but I’ve only ever done it on smaller projects like mini quilts or pillows.

moda blog 13

 Next up, wrapping your binding.  Wrap your binding from the front of your work, to the back and CLIP!  If you haven’t tried Clover Wonder Clips for binding, you MUST.  They are game changers my friends!  Trust me.  Clip all the way along your edge, until you come to the corner.  Creating a mitered corner on the back is very similar to the front, when we sewed it down.  Fold your binding off the edge of the quilt, creating an angled fold (left). Fold the corner in, matching that angled fold to the center of your corner (middle). CLIP!  Clip right over that mitered fold (right).  Folding the corners is my favorite part! 🙂

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 Clip as frequently or infrequently as you feel comfortable.  Clip your entire quilt or clip 10 at a time.  I personally like to do a few at a time, 5-10, and re-clip as I need to.

Now your binding is ON and you can hand stitch or machine stitch as you prefer.  Speaking of which, I will be working on a couple tutorials for both of those.  Finishing your binding with hand stitching and machine stitching, so stay tuned.

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I really hope this tutorial is helpful for those of you looking for binding tips.  If you have ANY questions, please let me know.  Leave a comment, visit my blog or Instagram or contact me via email.  Now hurry up and get those WIP’s bound!!

XOXO Jessie

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Jelly Roll Jam

Isn’t this a fun name? 
Leave it to the team at 
to create a simple fun pattern 
and share with all of us. 
The only thing on the supply list
is a Jelly Roll.
So many choices!
The pattern makes 2 quilts 36″ x 36″
Fun for baby quilts, table covers and wall hangings.
Fast and Fun!
The free pattern can be found here.
If you are a visual learner, 
FQS has a YOUTUBE how to video.

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How to use Honeycombs for English Paper Piecing

Hello All~
I’m Jessica and this is my first post to The Cutting Table.

I’ve got a new book out this month on English paper piecing (EPP) called Quilting on the Go and today I’m going to share a little tutorial for how to use the Honeycomb pre-cuts for this ultra-portable hand sewing technique.

English paper piecing is a technique where the fabric patches are first basted to paper templates and then stitched together by hand (I use a whip stitch).  Once all sides of a patch are sewn, the template can be removed and reused.  It’s simple and addictive, and can be done almost anywhere.  In my book I explain how to build a travel sewing kit so you can take your quilting with you wherever you go– doctor’s appointments, plane trips, picnics, you get the idea.  With Honeycombs, most of the cutting is done for you, making it even easier to get out the door and start quilting on the go!

A Honeycomb can be cut into the following EPP shapes and sizes:
2″ equilateral triangles
2″ 60-degree diamonds
1″ (short side) kites
2″ half hexagons

Depending on the seam allowance you prefer, you can change them up a bit to suit your comfort level.
I happen to be a huge fan of 60 degree diamonds, and if you cut up a Honeycomb, your diamonds come out to exactly 2 5/8″ high– perfect to baste around a 2″ template.

So let’s cut  some.
First, layer two print Honeycombs.

 Next, place the plastic hexie template (the one that comes with the fabric) so that 1/3 of the hexagon is covered.  Carefully align the corners.

 Here you’ve got two options– either draw a line around the template and cut with scissors, or go at it with a rotary cutter (carefully though, a fresh blade can slice through the template plastic)

 Your cut may go a bit further than necessary, but that’s not really a big deal.  Slide the cut diamonds out of the way, reposition the template, and cut again.

Now you have 6 cute diamonds, ready to baste to your EPP templates.

 The next step is to secure fabric to your templates with paper clips.

Fold in and baste around the edges with 5 backstitches, taking additional bites of fabric along each side.  Do not stitch through the template paper!

Whipstitch your diamonds into a star!

I’m going to turn these into a pillow.  What can you make with Honeycombs and EPP?

Check out my book and my blog for more pattern ideas, and get ready to stitch outside this summer!

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Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE

Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE
If you’ve been sewing awhile (and most readers of The Cutting Table probably have), then it’s hard to remember the days when threading your machine or understanding the term “seam allowance” didn’t come naturally. But truth be told, even the most skilled amongst us was once a newbie stitcher, eager to learn the right way to wield a seam ripper or create a tidy double-fold hem.

Jill Abeloe Mead
Here to provide guidance for those basic tasks and much more is the web site HowToSew.com, produced by the talented folks who bring you American Patchwork and Quilting, Quilt Sampler, and Quilts and More. “We’re reaching out to beginning sewers and our mission is to help them learn to sew and to have a fun, successful experience,” says Jill Abeloe Mead, the site’s editor.

The learning, and the fun, is enhanced by patterns and tutorials for sewing projects for gifts, accessories, and home décor items. In the process of creating pillows, potholders, and pouches, newbies learn skills that will last a lifetime. “Sewing isn’t in many school curriculums anymore and we see lots of people teaching themselves,” says Jill. “When they get into a jam, they go to the Internet, and we want to be their go-to source for both learning basic skills and improving upon them.”

Focus groups held around the country helped Jill determine the site’s content. She learned, for example, that phrase “the right side of the fabric” wasn’t clear to beginners. “We saw they were looking at the right-hand edge of the cloth,” says Jill, so she created an illustrated post that clears up the confusion. Other posts offer tips for cutting, pressing, and sewing straight, and explain how to use templates. “We also learned that people are interested in mending things—how to fix a snag in a sweater, for example—so we’ll continue to include that kind of information,” she says. 
Lindsay Fullington
In addition to the on-site content, a link leads to a series of Youtube videos with editor Lindsay Fullington, who demonstrates how to thread a sewing machine, how to replace a sewing machine needle, and even how to sew on a button. “Lindsay’s already developed a number of faithful followers and we’re getting email from fans,” says Jill.

New content is being added to the site regularly. On tap for this summer are a series of tee-shirt projects, including ways to personalize and modify them. Along the way site visitors will learn about fusibles, how to cut a tee-shirt for re-fashioning, and what kinds of needles to use when stitching knits. Another series of projects will focus on baby accessories: a simple coverlet, blocks, and an embellished onesie. “People like to make things to give and we plan to have lots of gift ideas in the months leading up to the holidays,” says Jill.

 Used with permission from howtosew.com ©2013 
Meredith Corporation. All Rights Reserved. For more projects, visit www.howtosew.com. 

While HowToSew.com is aimed at beginners, there’s no doubt that some of us who have been sewing awhile will enjoy it, too. I plan to whip up some Fabric Corner Bookmarks to tuck into the holiday cards I give to my book group buddies. And the Fabric and Color section demonstrates how to use photos of everyday objects—flowers, gourds, even cookies—as inspiration for pulling together a variety of textures and hues when choosing fabrics. It’s a reminder that one of the great things about sewing is that no matter how long you’ve been stitching, there’s always something new to try.

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