Up-cycled men’s dress shirt turned into smock apron

I stopped by Goodwill the other day and picked up a couple of extra large men’s dress shirts for $2.50 a piece. I’m usually there on a hunt for vintage tablecloths and embroidered treasures, but when none turned up I hit the clearance rack. The shirts just begged to be up-cycled, so I tossed them in my cart and took them home. I love the smocky look and the way they almost feel like I’m wearing a dress or an old-fashioned pinafore. I swear I could have been born in an earlier era!


(Jazzy, my black lab, is posing with me.) I used a contrasting shirt for the pocket and part of the back straps.


I converted the sleeves from the shirt as the straps that button to the front of the apron. I finally get to dive into that button stash!


In true Artfully Sew fashion, I added a cutesy flower and blanket stitched around the outside.

Now off to make another one!

Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean


Doodling with thread – embroidery stitches

I love to doodle with thread! Although this project isn’t finished yet, I wanted to share my progress so far. Experimenting with various embroidery stitches on this appliqued heart was very fun. Now off to add the verse and more embroidery doodles.


Doodling with embroidery thread by Angela Jean of Artfully Sew

Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean

How to use coffee filters as a stabilizer

One of the reasons I love selling on Etsy is the community. Whenever I have a question, whether about quilting, selling, shipping or fabric, Etsy’s forums is often the place I find my answer. One time when I was searching the discussions I found someone who talked about using coffee filters as a stabilizer for applique. I have struggled to find something that works well, so this sounded like an interesting idea. Now I use coffee filters for more than making my coffee. They are my usual solution when sewing down my applique. Here’s how to do it:

Make straight edges

When using stabilizer, you want it to cover the back of the entire piece of applique. Since coffee filters are round they don’t line up nicely together. Layering them can make it too thick and more difficult to remove. To prevent that, trim a right angle to make a corner on one edge. This way you can use many if the applique is bigger than the filter.

wpid-20140319_085944.jpgBefore trimming, use a warm iron to press the filters flat. It will also help with estimating how many you will need and also make it easier to pin them later.

Stabilizing the stabilizer

Once you have enough filters to cover the back, turn your quilt top so the back side is facing up. Line up the straight edges of the filters so that it’s difficult to see the seams.  Lift each corner and use a small dab of glue stick to hold in place. I use ordinary Elmer’s glue sticks cause they are water soluble and much cheaper than the fancy fabric glue sticks at JoAnn Fabrics. Plus they work just as well.


Flip your quilt top over.  Use straight pins to pin the filters to your top piece.  Using pins are important because the glue is only to keep the filters in place for pinning and is not enough to keep it from shifting.


Make sure that you especially pin the places where the filter edges meet. This will help keep things from shifting.


Stitch as desired

Now that the filters are stabilized, stitch the appliques. The photo below shows the backside after stitching. If you look closely you can see the seam of the filters down the center of the house. I only needed two filters for this project.


After stitching, gently rip away the filters. A pin may be used to score the stabilizer for easier removal. I also like to have a tweezers handy for any stubborn or hard to reach places.


Now you try it! Grab a cup of coffee and a few extra coffee filters and get to it.

Do you have any magical tips on stabilizing? Feel free to comment below.

Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean

Using Hand-Dyed Fabric like Paints

fabric color wheel

I think I’m the luckiest quilter in the world. My best friend’s mother has an addiction to dying fabric. She gave me all of these hand-dyed “scraps”. Yes, I used the verb, GAVE. I feel like a kid with a new box of crayons!


When she gave them to me they were in various bags, folded in different ways. I had the best time sorting them by color using one of my favorite tools, the Ultimate 3 in 1 Color Tool. I use it all the time to match my colors both for fabric and embroidery thread.  I used this tool to make this wall quilt of my precious little cockatiel, Sammy.

I started with a photo of Sammy. I printed it out in black and white on my printer. To get his shape for the fabrics, I turned the photocopy over on my light board and traced simple shapes of his eye, cheek patch, gray and yellow feathers.

2011-08-02 08.44.42

I then traced the shapes onto fusible webbing. I have found the best webbing for machine and hand stitching is Pellon Wonder Under 805. Good stuff. I cut out the shapes and matched hand-dyed fabrics to Sammy’s coloring.

I picked found scraps from a previous project to be the background and fused him to it.

2012-11-15 21.52.25

Then, my favorite part. Thread painting! I added stabilizer to the quilt top and stitched using thread colors that would match Sammy’s feathers and added contrast and depth.


Voila! A finished Sammy art quilt.

Now off to discover what else will come from my rainbow of fabrics!

Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean