Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Teacher Request: Cell Phone & ID Holder Tutorial

Between gossip and school chat during a recent back to school lunch with my teacher friends, one of the gals showed us something her teenage daughters had been working on. It's a holder for a cell phone and school ID card that their mom can slip over her belt. It would be especially handy for recess duty or field trips. The girls had a super idea, but they knew it needed to be refined. The case can only be worn on a belt, and it is rather wide. I think that may have been the reason their mom showed it to me. 

The other teachers agreed that the idea was fabulous, and that was all the encouragement I needed. I so love a challenge! "Tell me more," I said, as I pulled my handy dandy pencil and scratch pad from my overstuffed purse. The five of us spent the next fifteen minutes collaborating on design elements.

The minute I got home I headed for my sewing room. Measure this, measure that, make a sketch and I was off to Hobby Lobby with a shopping list. Clear upholstery vinyl, D-rings, zippers, belt clips ... What? They had no belt clips? Okay, what could substiture?  I grabbed a package of ID card clips just in case, and headed home.

Back in my sewing room I pulled a fat quarter from my stash and got to work.  I made two pockets for the front of the case. The larger pocket holds the cell phone, and the smaller, frontmost pocket has a clear vinyl insert for an ID card or favorite photo. There is a zippered pocket on the back for cash, credit cards, driver's license, a few tissues or whatever.

I used the ID card clips that I found at Hobby Lobby for clipping the case to a belt or waistband.


I took the prototype over to school for approval. The girls liked it a lot, but I wasn't completely satisfied. The D-ring was great for attaching the case to a lanyard, but to carry it at the waist, the ID card clip had to be clamped to either a belt or belt loop. Without those options the fabric at the waistband had to be pinched and then gripped between the  teeth of the clip. It held securely, but I wasn't completely happy. I really did want a belt clip for it that could slip easily over a waistband or pocket like my hubby's leather cell phone case does.   

I was sure I could pick a few up belt clips at Joann's, but that store is clear across town, so I called first. I was surprised to discover that they nothing at all like that.  I made a few more phone calls. There were no belt clips available at any of the fabric stores or any of the local craft stores - not even online!

The last option was eBay, the source for absolutely anything imaginable. Sure enough, I found just what I wanted.

I'm most definitely not in the business of advertising, but sometimes I feel that I really do have to share products with you. This is one of those times.

This is what I bought - 1 1/2" plastic belt clips available in sets of 10 for $ 10.35 from BuckleRUs. 
This is the eBay link:
I like the new and improved version of the case so much better! 

Now I'm working on stitching up a bunch of them. Four are done and there are a few to go. After all, I do have ten belt clips, endless fat quarters,  and lots of teacher friends. I'm making myself one, too, but since I don't need to carry an ID card, I'll make the smaller front pocket without a clear insert. I can use my own case around the house, when I go walking, or when I dash out on a quick trip to the store or the library.  

The Tutorial: 
Cell Phone & ID Holder

4” x 6 ½”
Fits an iPhone 6 with a bit of space to spare. 


·       One fat quarter fabric
·       One small piece of fusible interfacing
·       One small piece of clear vinyl upholstery fabric  
·       One 5” (or larger) zipper
·       Belting, 1” wide x 2 ½” long
·       One rectangular ring, 1”
·       One belt clip, 1 ½”
·       Thread


From fat quarter, cut:
·       Two rectangles, 5” x 7 ½”
·       Two rectangles, 5” x 11 ½”
·       One strip, 1 ¼” x 5”
·       One strip, 2” x 5”
·       Two strips, 1 ¼” x 4”
·       One rectangle 2 ¾” x 5”
·       One rectangle 5” x 5

From fusible interfacing, cut:
·       One rectangle 4” x 7 12”

From clear vinyl, cut:

·       One piece, 3 ½” x 4”


Make The Clear Vinyl Pocket 
Use ¼” seams on the insert.

Note: Leave the paper backing of the clear vinyl in place while sewing. Sew with the paper side down against the feed dogs to keep the vinyl from sticking to the sewing machine.  

1. With the right side of the fabric facing the vinyl, sew one 1 ¼” x 4” strip to each of  the two 4” sides of the clear vinyl. Finger press open.

2. Sew the 1 ¼” x 5” strip to the bottom of the clear vinyl. Finger press open.

3. Sew the 2” x 5” strip to the top of the clear vinyl. Finger press open.

4. Press the edge of the 2” x 5” strip of fabric back ¼”. 

5. Tear the vinyl's paper backing away and discard.

6.  Fold the fabric from step 4 down onto the back of the vinyl so that the pressed edge is even with the stitching line. Press.

7. Top stitch on the right side of the folded fabric strip.

Finish the front of the case. 

1. Lay the wrong side of the clear vinyl pocket on the right side of a 5” x 11 ½” rectangle.  Align the pocket with the bottom of the rectangle.  

2. Fold the top of the rectangle over to the back. Stay stitch. The folded piece will make the cell phone pocket.

3. Place the two pockets on the bottom edge of the right side of one of the 5” x 11 ½” rectangles.  Stay stitch. 

Make the Zippered Back Pocket.

Note: I didn't have a 5" zipper, so I used a 7" one. It will be easy to cut to size later.

1. Iron the interfacing onto the wrong side of the remaining 5” x 7 ½” rectangle. Set aside.

2. Lay the zipper on the  edge of the right side of the 2 ¾” x 5” strip of fabric. The zipper pull should face down against the fabric. Align a zipper foot along the edges of the zipper and the fabric and stitch. Fold the fabric back from the zipper and finger press. 

3. Lay the zipper and fabric piece right sides together on the 5" x 5" piece of fabric. Align the edges and stitch with the zipper foot. Finger press the fabric back from the zipper.

 4. Lay the wrong side of the zipper section on the right side of the  5” x 11 ½” rectangle that is backed with interfacing. Open the zipper a bit so the zipper pull will be inside the seams.  Stay stitch all around.

5. Trim off the excess lengths of zipper. 

Finish the case:

1. Fold the belting in half and slip the rectangular ring into the fold. Align against the top edge of the zippered pocket sections, center and stay stitch. 

2. Place the two halves of the case right sides together. The photo below shows them side by side.

3.  Sew all around the case with a ½” seam. Leave an opening at least 2  ½” wide at the bottom of the case for turning.

4. Trim the seam to about 1/4" all around the case, except for the section by the opening. Leave that area of 1/2" seam allowance in place for folding inside when the opening is sewn closed.  Trim the corners very close to the stitching.

5. Turn the case right side out. Gently push the corners out with a point turner.  I used the pointed end of a large wooden knitting needle. 

6. Press the case flat, but don't place the iron directly on the vinyl. Tuck the ends of the open section at the bottom to the inside.

7. Hand stitch the opening closed. 

8. Make a double line of machine stitching right under the belting so it won't pull out. 

9. Attach the belt clip by fitting the free side of the rectangular ring into the small space at the bottom of the belt clip. Snap the belt clip closed. 


The last three cases.

Wishing everyone an ever "sew" happy weekend!

Friday, August 21, 2015

School Days!

School has begun and I've been  under the spell of nostalgia for those busy, exciting first days of school when everything felt new and bright. The children arrived with eager faces, looking for friends, and sizing up the teacher with apprehension. We teachers, still fresh from summer and filled with energy, studied the new students, too, as we got to know them and familiarized them with the procedures and curriculum of the new year.

Even after eight years of retirement, I've never overcome the "teaching bug" that has settled deep into my bones. I manage to keep myself involved with my former teammates and get my "kid fix", too, by giving monthly book talks to the fifth graders in my former school.

This year, even though I have no classroom or small children in my life,  I've been unable to resist making this little classroom wall hanging. The fabrics called to me. This is actually the first of two wall hangings This one is for pre-school and primary grades, but coming along later will be a wall hanging for upper elementary school grades.

There are mug rugs to go along with it, too. The mug rug patterns are included in the wall hanging pattern, but they are also available as two separate patterns for those who prefer something smaller. One is called "Playmates", the other is "Schoolhouse".

The flag by the schoolhouse might not have been part of the pattern had I not stumbled across a couple of pieces of fabric in my scrap basket. This is why I save those tiny pieces. Of course, if you didn't have the fabrics, it would be fairly easy to add white stripes to a red background fabric and a few white French knots to  a piece of blue.

And there's more for teachers in the works. 

This is the prototype for little case for carrying a cell phone and ID badge. There's a zippered pocket in the back, too. The clip can be attached to a belt or waistband. I'll have another version soon, but I'm waiting for some plastic belt clips to arrive in the mail. My teacher pals were asking if I could make something to keep their ID badge, cell phone, and room keys all together whether they're in the building or on the playground.

I'm going to make myself one, too, but without the see-through window. It would be so perfect for wearing on my pocketless pants whether I'm in the house, walking in the neighborhood, or chasing off to the library.

The first photo shows a change in the strap attached to the D-ring. The webbing is much sturdier than fabric.

I'd love to hear you ideas for improving this for other uses. I could easily come up with two versions.

Right now, I need to clean up the mess down in my sewing room. I won't show a photo! Believe me, it's an embarrassment today!

Have a lovely weekend!

My former school stomping grounds. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Then and Now: Two School Quilts

I should be sewing autumn and winter designs, but I'm not. I'm sewing quilts with school themes. School has just begun in Lincoln, and even though I've been retired for eight years, I still become infected with the back to school bug every single August. This year, instead of hanging out in the school supply aisles in every store I enter,  I've found myself revisiting an old idea.

About fifteen years ago I made this little wall hanging for my classroom. It was one of my early attempts in working with fusible web applique. When I retired from teaching I gave the quilt to a teammate. It's getting awfully faded, but Shelley still has it hanging in her room. 

 As you can see, I hadn't yet discovered free motion quilting, a blanket stitch, or the idea of using walking foot for quilting. The design is flawed as well, but we all have to start somewhere.

I've decided to make two school quilts this year. One will be for the youngest set, and one will be more fitting for for the upper grades.

This first little wall hanging is almost finished. It would be cute in a classroom, but it would also be sweet for a child's room. I'll finish the binding tonight, and I hope to have the pattern out early next week.

The second quilt will be quite different. The symbols and colors that are perfect for the littles just don't work with older children. The fabrics are chosen, but the overall plan is still in the design stage. One step at a time.

Fall and Winter sewing will just have to wait.

Wishing you a great week!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Calico Cats and How to Make Paper Pieced Hexie Patterns in Any Size

I'm quite enamored of this latest mug rug pattern! The whimsical combination of hexies and cats makes me smile. Better yet, the sewing went so quickly that I made the mug rugs in three different fabric combinations.  I know exactly what I will do with them, too.

My good friend, Shelley, loves her cats - all three of her cats. I know that she'd dearly like another kitty, too. In fact, if she were to follow her heart in this there is no doubt that she'd swiftly morph into the "crazy cat lady" with a house filled to the brim with meowing felines.

Shelley has suggested more than once that I should design something for all the cat lovers in this world.   I've also had some requests from my facebook quilting pals. I've been listening, and this is my response.

Note: If you really want a particular pattern, folks, just let me know. Whenever there are several requests, I do my very best to comply.

Next Monday I'm meeting Shelley and some other teaching friends from my old team. Everyone will get a mug rug sometime during the year, but Shelley, who is also the driver on our quilt shop field trips, goes first. She can choose any one of these, and if she twists my arm, I may even let her have more than one.

I think that I'll need to keep one for my little neighbor girl. She's six years old and desperately wants a cat. We have a no pets policy on the two rental townhouses in our building, so she threatened me by saying that they would move. Her parents are thrilled that I get to be the bad guy this time. They've tried to compensate her with a fish, and they definitely wouldn't want a cat even if it were allowed. A mug rug won't begin to take the place of a real cat, but it will be something of her very own.

I rather enjoy making hexies with English paper piecing and stitching them on by hand, but it is quite time consuming. Paper foundation piecing them by machine goes so very much faster, so I've included patterns and a quick tutorial for sewing them in the "Calico Cats" pattern.

You can make your own paper foundation hexie pattern.

It's truly super easy.

1. Draw or download your hexagon in whatever size you like. Now, draw a rectangle around it. The rectangle with be exactly lined up with the flat sides of top and bottom, and it will touch the points of hexagons on the sides.

2. Draw another rectangle with each side exactly 1/4" apart from the original rectangle.

Looks like this:

That's it! Pattern done! What could possibly be easier than that?

Yikes! It's almost back to school time and I have only one teacher gift pattern in my shop.

"Apples for a Teacher"
A quick back to school gift for your favorite teacher.

Have a glorious August week, everyone. 

Happy Stitching!