Welcome to my Crafty Blog!

an overjoyed sam at the statue of a giant thimble and buttons in toronto

I'm Samantha (Sam), a mechanical engineer, seamstress, crafter, & entrepreneur. Enjoy perusing photos of my sewing and craft-related adventures. I hope my blog brings inspiration and happiness to your day!

Tutorials & Free Projects

Tiny Thread Spool Pushpins Tutorial X-Stitch Throw Pillow Tutorial
Starburst Wrapper Bracelet Tutorial Vintage Hassock Reupholstery DIY
Safety Eye Installation Tutorial for Plush a guide to sewing in your dorm room
Sewing Basket Essentials for Beginners a gift guide for the seamstress who has everything

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Handmade Wool Alpaca Plush Tiny Handmade Plush Cactus
Annual Ladies' Board Rummage Sale orange sewing machine from germany
Marietta Big Chicken custom plush tiny narwhal graduation gift

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threadless t-shirt quilt in progress

threadless t-shirt quilt: layout 1

I’ve been a Threadless fan from the very beginning. I bought my first shirt when the site had a total of seven shirts available: a tiny start to what has become an impressive enterprise. I was captivated by the idea of artist-made shirts: the contest format gives everyone an equal chance to become a t-shirt designer, and the best designs win, regardless of the popularity of the artist. People from all over the country – and now the world – had the opportunity to make art and money, and I got to wear a clever, unique shirt. Wins for everyone.

threadless t-shirt quilt: beloved threadless shirts

But even the most beloved shirts wear thin after a million wears and washes. Tiny holes in the armpits and hems meant they weren’t giveaway worthy, and I couldn’t bear to throw the art in the trash. So, I embarked on my first t-shirt quilt. What’s a seamstress to do?

threadless t-shirt quilt: colored pencil sketch

I’m not a big fan of the standard t-shirt quilt. Giant rectangles and sorority slogans do not a quilt make. I’m determined to make my Threadless quilt as art-focused as the shirts themselves.

My first goal is to avoid the standard 8.5×11″ squares that come together to form most t-shirt quilts. I played carefully with the tee designs, taking advantage of the fact that each print has a different shape. I then drew out small pencil sketches on graph paper to see what I had to work with. I’m lucky that the majority of this t-shirt collection is color-coordinated: blues and grays with a touch of red and yellow. My pale pink shirt and my bright turquoise shirt had to sit out this round, but it’s worth it.

threadless t-shirt quilt: prepping the shirts

Prepping the t-shirts is simple. I cut off the sleeves, then the neck hem, then cut the front away from the back.

threadless t-shirt quilt: prepping t-shirts for quilt

Laying flat, suddenly the t-shirt isn’t a shirt anymore: it’s just a piece of fabric, waiting to become something new. I left each shirt piece as big as possible at this stage, because I was still working out where everything would go, and it’s far easier to cut fabric away than to magically add it back later.

threadless t-shirt quilt: iron-on interfacing for quilt

I then ironed a thin fusible interfacing to the back of each shirt. Many t-shirt quilts use a knit interfacing, but I chose regular interfacing for 3 reasons:

  1. These shirts are nicer than the standard t-shirt, and aren’t too stretchy to begin with;
  2. I have a huge supply of lightweight fusible interfacing;
  3. It’s a quilt. I don’t want it to be stretchy.

After ironing on the interfacing, I trimmed the top and bottom of the design, still leaving plenty of fabric for future decision making.

threadless t-shirt quilt: layout 2

As I shifted and rearranged the designs, I made an important realization: the heights of the designs may vary, but the widths of the majority of the designs were the same. Yes, obviously: the width of each shirt is my width! In the end I decided on this three-column approach. The two side columns are the same, full-shirt width. The center column shows off the tall, skinny designs, highlighting my favorite: the ants appeasing the anteater with an ice cream cone.

The columns have been stitched together, but no further progress than that yet. I’m hoping to make this quilt a bit larger than a lap quilt, but we’ll see what I end up with. I want to avoid sashing as much as possible because I like the way the colors of the shirts and their designs play off one another, and, again, I want this to stand apart from the standard t-shirt quilt. I also want to incorporate the “tags” from each shirt, where the name of the shirt and the name of the artist are screenprinted at the inside back neck of each shirt. Those will work well for adding character to the back of the quilt.

Next, another quilt-back saga. Am I the only one who takes years to find an appropriate backing fabric for a quilt? Luckily with this one I have an idea in mind… sweatshirt fleece would be unbearably cozy. But what color? That decision alone could take months…

Marie started wiwo wednesday: What I’m Working On. I try and join her as often as I can to give you a peek into my creative process and my works-in-progress. See all my wiwo wednesday posts here.

before & after: recovered dining room chair

mid-century modern chair: queen anne's lace

This chair was my birthday project this year. For the big quarter-century, I hosted a small, cozy dinner party in my new apartment. Brad was here for the weekend, so we shopped for groceries and cooked and tidied the place. My drop-leaf table expands to seat 8-10 with only minor squishing (also known as bonding), and I corralled chairs from the whole apartment to make sure everyone would have a seat. While party prepping, sitting back while Brad made my Boston Cream Pie Cake, and hosting my first non-college dinner party were worthy birthday pursuits, I wanted to do something on my birthday that was just for me: just something I wanted to do.

So, mere hours before my guests were to arrive, I dismantled one of the crucial 9 chairs, covering the newly cleaned floor in staples and dust.

I had found the chair in the “before” state, above, at an estate sale a month prior. It has good bones, and it was all alone – no mates – so I managed to talk the saleslady down to $8. But the cushion had no padding, and the fabric was ugly, faded, and stained.

mid-century modern chair: queen anne's lace

I had wiped the wood down with my standard vinegar+water solution, which kills mold, cleans, and deodorizes without being too harsh on old things, when I first brought it home. Recovering the cushion was easy, as it is for all dining room chairs: remove the cushion from the chair using the screws on the bottom, remove all the staples holding the old fabric to the wood seat, get rid of the old fabric and foam, add new foam/batting, and wrap your fabric around and staple tight. Even easier than my sewing chair seat cushion swap.

mid-century modern chair: queen anne's lace

The new fabric transformed the chair completely, and I was happy that I took the chance to make something on my birthday. Plus, one lucky guest got to sit in a pretty new chair!

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter weekend!

bridesmaid t-shirts: gold, anchors, adorable

bridesmaid t-shirts - iron-on jersey numbers

This must be Katie Week here at Fluffyland… I can’t help it, wedding crafting is so fun! I wanted to share the shirts I made for Katie and her bridesmaids. The seven of us spent a long weekend in South Carolina last month for her bachelorette party, and, of course, what’s a bachelorette party without kitschy matching t-shirts?

Of course, I try to keep things low on the kitsch-spectrum – well, most of the time – so my goal was to make these t-shirts as classy, and as wearable, as possible. I think I succeeded!

bridesmaid t-shirts - iron-on jersey numbers

It was February, so we decided on long sleeve shirts. I picked up black v-necks from Target because they’re always cheap, comfy, and they actually fit.

I used my Silhouette cutter (i have the Silhouette Portrait) and their heat transfer material in white and metallic gold. Again: classy.

The backs of the t-shirts feature our last names and a number, jersey style. How’d we pick numbers, you ask? Eliza found the great idea of using the number of years we’ve known the bride. I’m happy to say I tied for the longest on this one… besides Katie’s mom, of course, who was lucky enough to sport the number 24!

bridesmaid t-shirts - iron-on anchor

The front tied into our South Carolina island/beach theme with an anchor and the wedding date.

split anchor design with wedding date - silhouette iron-on

The names and numbers were simple: I just used the font Jersey M54 and picked a good size. For the anchor, I bought the design from the Silhouette online store (design #59132, “rope sailor & anchor”), then sliced it in half and added the wedding date in Bebas font. For Katie’s anchor on the white shirt, I layered a gold anchor outline with a white anchor on top, and that really helped set hers apart.

Don’t forget to turn your design into a mirror image before you cut it! The heat transfer material cuts sticky-side UP.

bridesmaid t-shirt - anchor iron-on

Once everything was cut, it was time to iron. Iron-ons aren’t my favorite, since each shirt has to be set up carefully and separately, but lately I’ve been listening to audiobooks in the sewing room and this makes a huge difference in the amount of patience I have for tedious tasks. In this case, after a few chapters of Bossypants and a few snack breaks, I had everything ironed.

Crucial ironing tips for Silhouette heat transfer:
– Make sure to use rulers and templates so everything is straight. I used my clear grid ruler for the back of the shirts, and I used a piece of tissue paper with the V-neck notch marked to make sure every anchor was in the same location on the front.
– Use a thin cotton cloth between your iron and the iron-on material.
– Make sure to iron each location for 1-2 minutes, and don’t slide the iron back and forth. Pick up the iron and set it down each time you need to move it.
– Make sure to pre-shrink your t-shirts before adding the iron-ons. Once your shirt is finished, make sure to always wash it on cold/cold and hang to dry.

bridesmaid t-shirts - iron-on names

On the morning of our Charleston excursion, I rolled up the shirts name-side out to present them to the girls. By that point, the shirts’ existence wasn’t a surprise for anyone but Katie, but nobody had seen the finished product. Katie was especially excited, but I think everyone was pleased to have a matchy t-shirt that was actually wearable. We had so much fun roaming around Charleston and bragging about Katie to everyone we met!

snapshots of goings-on

meyer lemon tree and yellow lamp

I love saving pictures of places I’ve lived, especially unedited, lived-in pictures: I love being able to transport myself back to that moment. For my future nostalgia, and your present enjoyment, here are some still-lifes of my apartment on Wednesday afternoon, when it was slightly cluttered and filled with the bright kind of cloudy light.

My lemon tree is thriving, continuing to produce new buds and blooms even as the oldest flowers are dropping petals to the floor. Petals on the floor are great news: petals on the floor mean more lemons. Aunt Jeanie requested a full-height picture of her, so here she is: currently 23″ tall from the crown of the soil to the tip of her tallest leaf.

My least attractive piece of decor is my millionth attempt at growing an avocado plant from a pit. Someday I’ll get one to sprout.

Also featured in this photo: a bin full of tulle, an abandoned foot-long scarf, and the beginnings of a small jungle of parsley (unfortunately the parsley can’t yet peek over the container).

coffee table plants, button rug

My coffee table is prime plant real estate due to its proximity to the window. Orange star flowers, two containers of freshly-planted cilantro, and a tiny jade plant cutting (a thoughtful gift from a thoughtful coworker) grace my space.

Also featured in this photo: a spare comb from veil-making, a delightful olive-lid pyrex, and my March Madness bracket with its corresponding marking tools. Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot more red–pen-crossouts than highlighter-highlights. I like to think it’s keeping the table balanced: if my plants thrive, it’s fine if my bracket perishes.

sewing room bookshelf

The tiny bookcase has evolved until it is now both more and less organized than during the original sewing room tour. Lots of stacked bins make everything easily accessible, and I’m especially fond of my Pyrex full of camera lenses and accessories.

Also featured in this photo: a tiny painting made Saturday, when I had the urge to swish paint around (i don’t love the outcome, but it was so fun to do); tiny orange-and-white twine-like trim that’s begging to accent a great project; the only photobooth strip of Brad and me: a true gem.

wiwo wednesday: white and lacy

garter sewing DIY

My best friend Katie’s wedding is coming up soon… as in, one month from now soon. Katie, don’t faint when you read this!

I can’t imagine a friend of mine getting married without my having the opportunity to contribute my crafty skillset; I’m so, so glad I get to be a part of The Big Day. I’ve been stitching up all sorts of white lacy things. Everything came together very quickly… wedding sewing has proven itself to be pretty simple, and going DIY on a few key items can save a ton of money! I’ll be posting a tutorial or two after the wedding, so stay tuned.

veil sewing DIY

One month to go, K&J: you’re almost there!

Marie started wiwo wednesday: What I’m Working On. I try and join her as often as I can to give you a peek into my creative process and my works-in-progress. See all my wiwo wednesday posts here.