Weekend Art Challenge with Jeff Claassen

A good friend of mine and amazing artist Jeff Claassen has been doing this ‘Weekend Art Challenge’ series on his blog. Last weekend, and the first of this series, was to paint a self portrait. I used to paint before all of this sewing. I wasn’t any good and I was better at abstract than realism because let’s face it – I can’t draw for crap. So I skipped out on this series since I haven’t painted in… 8 years. And I am glad I did because even that sweet Evy {who is 10} would have beat me out of it.

But this weekend was a challenge I wanted to take! Paint, draw, sew, collage, screen print {or any other medium} a turkey hand! Heck yes.

Weekend Art Challenge 2

So I got out my fall colors, traced my hand on some lovely red gingham fabric, and sew’d up this little cutie; who will be the first fall decoration of our home {I know, I know – I’m a little late.}

He is currently perched upon our fireplace mantle gobbling away.

Happy fall, happy turkey, and happy weekend art challenge!

Thanks Jeff for the opportunity to participate – it was a good kick in the butt to get our home decorated for fall!

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Sewing Basics | What You Need to Get Started

A friend of mine had asked to come over and get some information on sewing basics and what machines are the best starter machines so she could get something put together for her man for Christmas. Her asking inspired me to put together a very basic post on what you would need to get started and some of the best rated machines out there to purchase in a wide price range.

First things first… Sewing supplies

You can either purchase a great starter kit on Etsy, Amazon, or Ebay. These are great resources to be able to get everything you need and even some extra fun things. You could also purchase everything separately and put together your own kit.

-fabric cutting scissors

-mini thread scissors

-thread {cotton or polyester} in several colors

-pins {several}

-needles {several}

-buttons {a few for mending}

-measuring tape

-pin cushion

-thimble {one will do, but is also not necessary}

-threader {a couple}

-fabric marking pen or pencil

And if you want to get serious {and make your life so much easier when cutting fabric} you should get:

-rotary cutter

-cutting mat

-6″ clear cutting ruler

And of course, one cannot sew with out fabric!

Here are some great places to purchase fabric from:


JoAnn Fabrics



There are lots of different types of fabrics out there {refer to the book linked below Fabrics from A – Z} to sew with, but for beginner projects you should get quilting weight cotton.

That is about it as far as basics go for supplies.

You’re going to need a machine to utilize all of these supplies and create some cute little projects. There are so many machines out there to choose from and depending on how serious you are about your sewing adventure, you really have to be careful on what your first purchase will be.

For me, I went to Walmart and purchased a Brother LX-3125. It wasn’t the least expensive, but it was a basic model for a great price. I believe I purchased it for around $70.

It has a lot of the basic features and has been a great machine. I bought this because I was sewing only a couple styles of bags and did some normal hemming. This machine has been great for me and still gets the job done! Walmart ratings are 4 3/4 stars. 119 5 star ratings out of 158 – I would say thats a great rating!

There are other good basic models to buy in other brands. Good housekeeping has a great article on the best beginner machines. For that article.. go here.

What you need to consider when purchasing a machine is what your budget is, if you want to purchase local or online, and what exactly it is you want out of your machine. Here are three basic models with good ratings to start you out with:

Brother CS5055PRW – Project Runway, Limited Edition

Currently $129.99 on Amazon {click picture to take you there}

This machine has:

-50 built-in utility, decorative and heirloom stitches, each with multiple stitch functions.

-Sew fleece, elastic and other stretchy fabrics with the built-in stretch stitches.

-One-step bobbin replacement with quick set drop-in bobbin.

-Embellish or join quilt blocks with the built-in quilting stitches.

Janome 2212

Currently $149.00 on Amazon {Click picture}

This machine has:

-Easy turn dial pattern selection

-12 built-in stitches including a four-step buttonhole

-Stitch width adjustment and length adjustment ensures ease of use

-Drop feed for free motion sewing and quilting

Singer 7258 Stylist

Currently $164.99 on Amazon {Click picture}

This machine has:

-SINGER Stylist 100-stitch pattern sewing machine

-Adjustable sewing speed

-Push button stitch selection

-Automatic needle threader

These are all great machines to have as first sewing machines. As long as you keep up with maintenance on them {your book that comes with your machine will tell you how to keep it cleaned out, etc.} your machine will last you a very long time. I would search around online for any local sewing machine places that sell and/or service machines. That way if anything breaks and it’s outside the manufacturer’s warranty, you can take your machine in to get fixed and serviced. I’m fortunate enough to have a place here in town that does that. In fact, I bought Bry a used, refurbished sewing machine for $60.. and it’s just about better than my own machine!

Now that you have the supplies, fabric, and machine you are just about set. Oh, but what to sew for your first project?

Mine was a box bag! My friend Breana and former co-blogger of Sew Basted I Wanna Purl showed me how to sew a box bag and that one night with that one bag took me to where I am today!

So I have compiled a list of projects that you could start out with that are very easy!

One Hour Skirt

Lavender Bag

Wash Bag

Pillow Cover

Zippered Pouch

Pleated Headband

Box Bag!!

Those projects should get you up and running and each teach you basic sewing structures that you can take in to creating projects of your own or incorporating what you have learned into more advanced projects.

Check out my post on sewing vocab and their meanings!

Books to invest in:

1 -2 – 3 Sew!

Fabrics from A – Z

Seams to Me 

24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby

Alright, now that you’ve got the basics, lets get some projects started {and maybe even finished?}

If you’re new to sewing and have completed your first project and would like to share, leave me a comment.

If you’re a seasoned sewer and would like for me to add anything to this post or change something, let me know!

Happy Sewing!

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National Sewing Month Recap & Giveaway Winner Announcement

September was National Sewing Month and there was a lot of fun and informational things going on here on The Little Willow Tree. Missed what we were up to? Well here is a little recap for yah!

I vowed to sew {at least} one project a day for the entire month of September! 

And for the last two days

Wow! I am pretty proud of myself to sew 30 items in one month. And I really did sew one project each day.. even when we went out of town for three days to my brothers wedding! Thanks to my bestie.

Speaking of bestie, we stayed at her house while out of town and I taught her how to make a tote bag! I made her one, then she showed me all she learned by making me one. Take a looksie!

She did such a good job! A lot of her downfalls were not knowing the lingo. Good thing I was there and good thing for my post on Sewing Vocab and Their Meanings!

Once you got the lingo down you could find some great tutorials from a list I put together and links to some great blogs for inspiration. And if you still needed help with some sewing, I gave you a calendar of classes at Beverlys Fabrics.

As if that wasn’t enough, I celebrated National Sewing Month by sharing a couple of tips and ideas for you all to eat up.

I also left the house not once, not twice, but five times with out nursing pads! On one occasion, I gave you all a quick fix to something that could be pretty embarrassing.

A lot of awesome things happened this month, too. I added lots of new items to my Etsy shops, changed the design of a few of my items, and landed shelf space in two local stores! I am so very happy! That puts me in three local shops so far.

Aside from all of that fun and neat things going on I also hosted a Sew Swap! I had a huge turnout and am so excited to get everyone linked up so we can all share and see each one’s creation and experience. This is my first ever swap as a host and participant! Look for the post and linky party on the Sew Swap in a week.

One last awesome thing was a giveaway I had all month long. If you commented on any post tagged ‘National Sewing Month’ you were entered to win and vintage grab bag put together by me!

I have gathered up all of the commenters {only one comment was counted per person for the giveaway} and a winner was chosen at random.

Congratulations Sarah Pinault! 

An email will be sent soon for a mailing address. 

Thank you all for your participation and support! I am truly blessed to have such a huge bloggie support and cherish each and every one of you! Please share your adventures below for National Sewing Month and if you’re on Twitter and/or Instagram be sure to use hashtag #nationalsewingmonth so I can see what you were all up to!

Can’t wait to plan for next year!

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Favorite Sewing Tutorials

Here is my go-to list of tutorials of things that I have either made, would love to make, or is just pure awesome. I’m not usually a tutorial type of person when it comes to making things, I just sort of use them as a guideline.

Duck Tape Purse {I have not made this, but I want to!}

Diaper clutch {I have not made this particular pattern of clutch}

Coffee Sleeve {I have made this, but changed mine up. They’re available on Etsy}

Crib Sheet {Made this for Oliver. It was incredibly easy!}

Maternity Skirt {Wanted to make this when I was pregnant with Oliver, but I loathe jersey knit}

Pillowcase {Easy tutorial – I actually followed this one!}

Christmas Stocking {I made us these last year}

Bow {I make these, but not quite like this. They’re available on Etsy}

Grocery Tote {I make these, but changed mine up. They’re available on Etsy}

Duck Tape Wallet {Made this with three tweens and it was a pain in the ass and took forever! But I loved them!}

Taggie Cube {Made this for Oliver, thought about putting them on Etsy, decided not to. Super cute!}

Pacifier Clip {Made these, changed them up. I now have a completely different style available on Etsy and all of the old style ones are 40% off!}

Nursing Cover {Made this for myself and loved it. I sell them by CUSTOM ORDER only. They’re not listed in my shop and they are slightly different than this one.}

Car Trash Can {Want to make these so bad!!}

Mesh Beach Bag {Awesome project idea, horrible tutorial. Made this and just used the tutorial as a guideline}

Do you have any favorite tutorials? Share them with me below! Have you made any of these things? Please share!

*Reminder! We are having a giveaway for the month of September to celebrate National Sewing Month! Anyone who comments in a post tagged ‘National Sewing Month’ will be entered to win! Please see our Giveaway section at the top of the blog for more information on the giveaway. Comment away!*

Pin Cushion Storage Mason Jar

For the Sewing Party I hosted I made these as little goodies for my guests – they loved them! I even made one for myself.

I was able to utilize some of my grandma’s fabric scraps for this project!

I had one extra so I thought I would use it for a giveaway. If you would like to win this, head over to my Facebook page, like it, and you’re entered. Once I reach 200 likes I will choose a winner at random and announce it on Facebook! Share my page with your friends, family, anyone you know to help me get there. Thank you for your support!

*This is a Facebook exclusive giveaway only. Commenting on this post will not enter you in the giveaway. You must ‘like’ my Facebook page.

Look for a tutorial on how to make these soon!

Sewing Vocab and Their Meanings *REPOST*

These sewing terms can be such a huge help to people just starting out sewing or someone who has done it for a while and doesn’t know all of the vocab – like me! I thought with National Sewing Month this month and the Sew Swap in full swing, I would repost this to maybe help out some sewers get some projects done. Hope you find this helpful! I know I sure did.

I’ve really only been sewing for about a year and a half {two years now} and in that time I have learned so much. Blogs have been helpful in perfecting techniques, working in a fabric store has helped learn more about the actual fabric I sew with, friends have guided me through making certain things and books I have picked up have helped with vocabulary.

When you get into the kind of craft I’m in seriously, knowing not only what you’re doing, but what you’re saying, is very important. Getting to know certain terms can help you thrive and will even make your product better constructed and ready to sell or give as a gift {or even feature in your own home!}. I’d like to share some terms with you that have helped me.

Appliqué: Sewing a piece of fabric on top of another piece of fabric for decorative reasons.

Backstitching: Sewing back and forth over the same stitches to lock the end or the beginning of a line of sewing.

Bias: Runs diagonally to the straight grain of fabric. Fabric cut on the bias has more stretch.

Basting: The sewing of a large, temporary stitch, by hand or machine.

Binding: Encasing the raw edges of a blanket or quilt with another piece of fabric.

Blanket Stitch: A hand or machine stitch that is used to neaten the edge of a blanket, buttonhole, or another seam line.

Darn: To repair a hole by using stitches going back and forth that fill the hole.

Dart: A v-shaped, tapered adjustment to a pattern to allow more fullness in the bust area or less fullness in the waist or back.

Embellish: To add special stitching, appliqués, or other decorations to your sewing project.

Facing: Fabric sewn on the raw edge of a garment piece, which is turned under and serves as a finish for the edge as well.

Fat Quarter: A quilting term on fabric. A fat quarter is 1/4 yard of fabric, about 18x22in., as opposed to a regular 1/4 yard, which is 9x45in.

Feed Dog: The ‘teeth’ under the plate on a sewing machine that moves the fabric along.

Finish {an edge}: To turn under 1/4in and stitch or serge the edge so it doesn’t fray or have too much bulk.

Fold Line: Pattern pieces are often placed on the fold of a piece of fabric.

Fuse: The use of a special material that melts to ‘glue’ two layers together. The fusing works by being melted by an iron.

Free Motion: Generally a quilting technique that involves lowering the feed dogs {or covering them} and sewing with total free movement of the fabric.

Gathering: A method of easing a seam to allow insertion of sleeves and other rounded pattern pieces.

Grain: The direction of the fabric that runs parallel to the selvedge.

Hem: An edge that is turned under to the inside of a sewn item, and sewn.

Interfacing: An unseen addition to various parts of a garment, which adds body that the fbric alone would not add.

Inseam: The seam on a trouser leg that runs from the crotch to the hem.

Notion: A term used for any item used for sewing, other than the fabric and the machine.

Notch: A notch is shown on a pattern with a dark diamond. They are commonly cut outward and should be matched on seams.

Overlock: An overcast stitch to prevent the fraying of fabric edges.

Placket: The v-shaped opening at the end of a sleeve that is finished with a bias strip before the cuff is attached.

Pressing: A different process than ironing. Instead of running the iron across the fabric, you gently lift the iron to press a new area as to not distort the fabric grain.

Right Side: The right side of the fabric is the side the design is on. Sometimes a fabric has no discernible right side, so then it is up to the sewer to decide which is the right side.

Rotary Cutter: A cutting tool used in quilting to cut fabric instead of scissors. Shaped like a pizza cutter, it is perfect for cutting long strips of fabric or many layers at once.

Running Stitch: A simple stitch often used for basting or as bias {marking} for another, more decorative stitch.

Satin Stitch: A zig zag stitch with a shortened length that forms a continuous, solid line.

Seam Allowance: The area between the stitching and raw, cut edge of the fabric. Your pattern should say which seam allowance you are to use, often 1/4in, 1/2in, or 5/8in.

Stash: A collection of fabrics, threads tools and more, which you need for sewing.

Stay Stitch: A line of stitching just inside {about 1/8in} the intended permanent stitch line on curved edges that stabilizes the curve.

Selvedge: The edges of the fabric that have the manufacturer’s information.

Stitch in the Ditch: A method of stitching close to a seam allowance or in the seam itself, often used in quilting.

Straight Stitch: The regular stitch that most sewing machines make.

Top Stitch: A decorative or functional stitch that is usually 1/4in from the edge of a seam.

Tension: Your sewing machine has two types of tension – the thread tension and the bobbin tension.

Tack: To sew a few stitches in one spot, by hand or machine, to secure two items.

Walking Foot: An attachment for your sewing machine that enables smoother sewing when quilting several layers of fabric together.

Warp: The threads that run the length of a woven fabric.

Weft: The threads that run at a right angle to the warp – also known as the cross grain.

Wrong Side: The side of the fabric that has no design or that you don’t want facing outwards.

Zig Zag Stitch: Is a stitch that goes one way {zig} and then the other {zag} and provides a nice finish to a seam to prevent fraying. It can also be used as a decorative stitch.

All of these were from a UK magazine ‘Sew Hip’.

If you have any other words and their definitions to share, please comment below or send me an email and I would love to feature some more! Thanks!

My Little Sewer

When I first started to sew I never knew that Bry would follow in my footsteps. At first she just braided my fabric scraps into really awesome bracelets. Then it turned into necklaces. Then she sort of transitioned into earrings. Now, she sews. And really well if you ask me! Of course, I am a little bias..

This Friday Bry will be a featured artist in a art show for Art After Dark in downtown San Luis Obispo at Bambu Batu. She has the opportunity to do this show solo {meaning, not sharing a table with Richard or myself like in the past} with a couple of other kids and display her handmade creations. She is pretty excited about it. So last week she sat down and got all prepared.

Cant wait to set up her booth! We are going to use her vanity that we repurposed to be bright and attract customers.

Im so proud of her.

Wanna see her product? Visit her Etsy shop! Or if you’re local, swing by Bambu Batu between 6-9 pm this Friday.

Beverly’s Fabrics Classes | September

Beverly’s Fabrics in San Luis Obispo has a roundup on sewing classes for this month, as well as some other fun crafts. Here is a list of what they’re up to this month. What a perfect way to celebrate National Sewing Month with some sewing classes, walking away with a finished project! Please be sure to call to sign up for a class {805} 543.6433

Needle Felting Level 1 | September 4 & 11 6:00-8:00pm | Instructor Lynn | $25

Needle Felting Level 2 | September 5 & 12 6:00-8:00pm | Instructor Lynn | $25

Beginning Children Sewing | Every Saturday of the month 4:00-5:30pm | Instructor Laurie | $25/class

Sewing Basics: Learn Your Machine | September 12 6:00-9:00pm | Instructor Ellen | $25

Sewing Basics: Fabric and Pattern | September 13 6:00-9:00pm | Instructor Ellen | $25

Sewing Basics: Drawstring Bag | September 19 6:00-9:00pm | Instructor Ellen | $25

If you would like any further information on any upcoming classes you can email them at SLOBeverlysClasses@gmail.com

Be sure to check your local fabric stores to see if they have any classes you can sign up for!

Happy Sewing!

Sew Swap!

Thank you everyone for participating, signups are now closed. If you signed up and confirmed your address you will receive your assignments on Sunday the 16th. Be sure to fill out the questionaire before then so the person sewing for you can get to know you better!


Ashley Marie.

You’ve heard of {and maybe participated in} a mug swap, right? Well this is the same concept, but with a handmade {by you} sewn item!!

 The swap is all about creating a little {or big!} handmade, sewn item and sending it off to another sewer, receiving an item yourself. This is such a great way to build friendships in the blogging world and receive a sweet gift at the same time!

If you would like to participate, here are the steps:

Step one: Email me {willow.little@gmail.com} and let me know you want in. I’ll sign you up and contact you for a mailing address. Signups close Sunday, September 9th.
Step two: Spread the word. If you know someone who might be interested, forward them to me so I can sign them up. The more, the merrier!
Step three: On Sunday, September 16th, I will email you with your assignment. 
Step four: On or before SundaySeptember 23rd, please have your little creation finished and dropped in the mail for your recipient. This means that your creation should be mailed no later than the 23rd.
Step five: Receive and document your gift. Blog, Instagram, Tweet your Sew Swapping Adventure. Be sure and use #sewswap on Instagram & Twitter so other Swappers can find you!

Step six: Link up! I will be hosting a Linky Party on October 8th for those of you who are bloggers and want to link up your posts! (This gives you plenty of time to make sure your gift arrives & talk about your adventure!)

 I would love to have you all participate!

The mug swap on some blogs offer FAQs so I’ll do the same for the sew swap:

1. Do I have to have a blog to participate?


But you do need a sewing machine!
2. Do I have to spend a ton of $?


You could probably make something out of the pile of scraps you have lying around!

3. Does it have to be big?


You can make something teeny tiny if you’d like.

 4. Am I sending to and receiving from the same person?


I guess technically you aren’t “swapping”, more like a daisy chain of handmade items flying through the skies via USPS. You will

send to one person and receive from someone else. This way you get to know at least two people!

 5. Is it a secret?


I will only be telling you who you send to. And you will find out who sent to you! But thats it. No other information is shared.

6. What should I make?

Whatever you’d like.

You can create something technical or simple; whatever you can in the time that you have.

7. I never got my assignment.

When you email me signing up – I WILL reply confirming you are IN.

(And asking for your mailing address).

If you did NOT hear back from me, it means I did NOT get your email.

Make sure you follow up.

I don’t want anyone to miss out!

Here is the logo for the swap

I will email you the button to put on your blog when you sign up.

*Open to US Residents Only! Sorry!*

So excited! Lets get our swap on!

National Sewing Month | September

Oh how I love the month of September. We transition from summer into fall. The skies are a different color, the trees changes their hues, and its the approach of my favorite holiday in November; my birthday! Haha, just kidding. It’s Thanksgiving.

Another awesome thing about September is that it’s National Sewing Month. And sewing is what I absolutely love to do. Thank goodness for President Ronald Reagan who declared September National Sewing Month in 1982 ‘in recognition of the importance of home sewing for our Nation.’ Couldn’t of said it better myself!

I have a month full of things planned and I am excited to share something with you all every day of the month. 

Things to look forward to:

A handmade, sewn creation by me every day of this month, posted every day on the blog

A sewing related giveaway

Tons of sewing information posted on the blog

A sewing swap

I will be teaching a newbie sewer the ins and outs of their machine and the completion of a sewing project

Special discount on my handmade sewn items in one of my shops {restrictions apply}

A sewing party hosted by me

If you would like to participate in the sewing swap, please email me at willow.little {at} gmail {dot} com.

If you would like to participate in the sewing party please call, text, snail mail or email me.

If there is any other way you would like to contribute or participate, please contact me. And if you’re hosting something fun on your blog for National Sewing Month too, let me know! I would love to link you up.

National Sewing Month

Happy Sewing!