Tag Archives: how to

Catnip Lightsaber – Free Tutorial

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

In between Much More Important Things, I’ve been making kitty toys here and there for our cat family members.

Last weekend, I made something new, tubes of fabric filled with Poly-fil & catnip. They were easy to make and the cats love them.

Your kitten pic for the day. The Kitty Kickers have gone over extremely well!

While watching this little guy, 8 month old Iliad, and his brother Ramses, play with their catnip tubes, it occurred to me that they could be much, much more fun to watch!


Have I seen The Force Awakens recently?

Yes, twice. Why do you ask? ūüėČ

These aren’t much more complicated to make than the original single piece of fabric version. I made both shown here in¬†about an hour, and that includes stopping to take pictures. Easy peasy!

As usual, this tutorial is for your personal & non-profit use. I would LOVE for you to make these both for your own kitties and your local shelter!

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

You’ll need:

  • 2 – 5″ x 8 1/2″ pieces of fabric in blue, red, or the lightsaber color of your choice
  • 2 – 5″ x 1 1/2″ pieces of grey or silver fabric
  • 1 – 5″ x 6 1/2″ piece of black or black printed fabric
  • Poly-fil or batting scraps
  • catnip¬†(I used a leftover packet from a cardboard scratcher)
  • funnel
  • sewing machine
  • iron (not absolutely necessary, but helpful)

EDITED TO ADD: To make a solid cat kicking tube, use a 5″ x 23″ish piece of fabric and skip to the third instruction.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew together pieces as shown:


Backstitching is recommended for stability.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Press all seam allowance in one direction.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Fold in half, with the black fabric in the center.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Lock the seams in with the opposite-facing seam allowance. Press.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Fold in half lengthwise. You now have a right sides both inside and out, giving you a “lining” for your lightsaber.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, stitch around. Start on the “saber” end with raw edge to the end and nearest you.

Be sure to backstitch where the thread crosses in the corner.

Leave the folded end (black fabric) unstitched. This is where the stuffing will go.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Here’s what you should have now.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Trim seam allowance to a scant 1/4″ or so, cutting corners close. Here’s where that backstitching comes in!

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Using the method of your choice, turn the tube so the seam allowance is inside.

I use a large crochet hook to help with the process.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Here it is, ready to stuff!

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Alternate catnip and Poly-Fil, stuffing as needed. A funnel will make this much easier. A cat will not!

(This tutorial is Marie approved.)

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

The crochet hook I used earlier worked a treat for squishing everything in.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

I used two or three tablespoons of catnip total, making sure there was plenty at each end.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

To save yourself a little grief, make sure you end with stuffing or you’ll have catnip all over your sewing machine.

Don’t ask me how I know. ūüėČ

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Keeping the seam to one side, flatten the end. Because this is a fold, you don’t have to worry about raw edges.

This can be hand stitched, but I chose machine stitching for durability.

Are you the happy owner of Wonder Clips? They are not necessary, but very helpful to hold the end closed.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

Stitch across and back a few times.

Catnip Lightsaber Tutorial on sewhooked.com

A very secure closure and we’re done!

Jedi Iliad

Iliad is a Jedi, like his father before him.

Sith Ramses

Ramses is too cute to be a Sith Lord.

Ramses & Iliaid Catnip Lightsaber face off

Hours of entertainment for kitties and humans alike!

January 2016 Flickr Prize for sewhooked.com

Want a chance to win a fun, free prize each month during 2016? It’s easy! Make today’s tutorial  and share it with my flickr group. You’ll be entered to win for each photo you share! Winners to be announced on the first Friday of each month.

Want to sponsor a 2016 prize? Please drop me an email.

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That’s that, my friends! I hope you enjoyed today’s free tutorial!



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How to Enlarge & Reduce Quilt Patterns with Adobe Reader

how to enlarge reduce patterns

Edited to add: This tutorial was written in 2014. It may not work with all versions of Adobe Reader. You can also use the chart below to enlarge patterns on printers that include that feature. Thanks!

Today, I’m sharing a rare mirror post with my fandom site,¬†Fandom In Stitches, but this is more than worth posting twice.

I read and answer a lot (and by a lot, I mean tons!) of email for both Sewhooked and Fandom in Stitches and the question I answer most often is this: How do I resize a quilt block pattern?

The easiest way to ENLARGE or REDUCE a quilt block pattern is to print it as a poster using Adobe Reader and the chart below.

Pattern Size Needed
4″ 5″ 6″ 7″ 8″ 9″ 10″ 11″ 12″
Pattern Size
4″ 100% 125% 150% 175% 200% 225% 250% 275% 300%
5″ 80% 100% 120% 140% 160% 180% 200% 220% 240%
6″ 67% 83% 100% 117% 133% 150% 167% 183% 200%
7″ 52% 71% 88% 100% 114% 128% 143% 152% 171%
8″ 50% 62% 75% 87% 100% 112% 125% 137% 150%
9″ 44% 55% 66% 77% 88% 100% 111% 122% 133%
10″ 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 110% 120%
11″ 36% 45% 54% 63% 72% 81% 90% 100% 109%
12″ 34% 42% 50% 59% 67% 78% 84% 93% 100%

Follow these steps and use the chart below to make it even easier:

  1. Download the PDF quilt block pattern file.
  2. Open pattern in Adobe Reader.
  3. Open the Print dialog (shown below) by clicking the printer icon.
  4. Choose which Pages to Print. In the example “All” is chosen, but if there is an instruction page, skip that and just enlarge the pattern pages. It may be least confusing to enlarge one page at a time.
  5. Under Paper Sizing & Handling, choose Poster (see image).
  6. Determine the starting¬†Pattern Size¬†and the chart below to determine what percentage to enlarge to¬†Pattern Size Needed. For example, to print a 5″ pattern at 10″,¬†Tile Scale¬†(see below) will need to be 200%.
  7. Print these instructions for easy reference.

Big thanks to Fandom In Stitches Designer Addie Clark for sharing the poster printing tip over on the Fandom In Stitches Facebook Group.


Join the Sewhooked Facebook Group for community, support & occasional prizes! I’m there, as are many friends of Sewhooked.


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Paper Piecing Art: Beginner and Beyond

STITCHED workshop - Paper Piecing Art, Beginner and Beyond

Way back in 2011, I was invited to be an instructor for STITCHED, a subscription-based online classroom community that offered workshops by experts in different craft-related areas. The entire shebang was conceived of and hosted an extraordinary artist, Alma Stoller.


My own workshop Paper Piecing Art: Beginner and Beyond, was geared to take students step-by-step through the paper piecing process.

I shared every tip and technique that I myself use when paper piecing. Now, over a year after the completion of the STITCHED 2012 Workshops, I offer my own class here, free for you.

If you’re already a paper piecer, you might pick up a trick or two; if you’re new to paper piecing or have tried before and it didn’t quite click, I hope this helps you on your paper piecing journey!

Jennifer’s Tools:

Paper Piecing Art uses Waiting for Rain, a pattern designed by myself especially for the workshop.

I'm a Craftsy Designer

You can find Waiting for Rain in my Craftsy shop for just $4.
Looking for a text-based tutorial? I have that here! Questions? Comments? I’m always happy to chat in comments!
Remember to stop back by tomorrow for the Paper Piecing Vintage February update! Have an extraordinarily happy Friday!

Thread and Paint

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.
I’ve been talking a lot about Halloween lately. I hope you all don’t mind, that’s where my head is at the moment!

First off, let me tell you this: I do not have an embroidery machine. I’ve thought about it, toyed with it, and in the end decided that I really don’t need one. I don’t, really. It would be fun, but, firmly, no.

Enter the need for Union Jack patches for Gareth’s Halloween costume.

Hum. I checked around online and two things were obvious to me. 1) they’re kind of pricey on top of the cost of the rest of the items for his costume and 2)I could make that. 2) Happens to me all the time.

Just about now, an embroidery machine would be handy. Still, no. Don’t even think about it…

Onward, then! I love making ATCs and my thinking was that the patches are the same basic size and shape.

So I pulled out the stiff, fusible interfacing that I keep for ATCs and…

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.

The Stuff: Blue fabric, stiff/fusible interfacing, white and red threads and a picture for my guide. Not shown, blue thread, scissors, an iron and an hour and a half of time.

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.
First, I cut the blue fabric to size (in this case 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″), then marked the center of each on the horizontal with a ceramic pencil.

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.
Next, I ironed the blue fabric to the fusible interfacing. The muslin is to keep the other side from sticking to my ironing board. As long as I don’t apply heat to that side, it won’t fuse, but it will get a little warm. Better safe than sticky.

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.
Then, I started stitching! The entire project is done with a zig-zag stitch on my regular home sewing machine. This is a 6 width on my machine and the shortest I could make it.

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.
It wasn’t quite wide enough, so I stitched again on either side of the center line, overlapping each. This was a “figure it out as you go” project.

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.
Much better!

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.
Repeat for the vertical line.

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.
I switched to white thread and started shadowing the red cross. If I had been very, very clever, I think I would have done all the red stitching first. My tension was a little weird with all the thickness, so I ended up stitching the white lines twice. Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.

White shadowing done! Diagonal lines drawn for the next step.

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.

Not bad, not bad!

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.

The patches were slightly stretched and lumpy from all the thread when I was done, so I pressed them flat, adding muslin to the back while I was at it.

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.
They look much better all trimmed up!

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.
I wanted to give them a finished edge and catch in all the threads that I trimmed, so I used a shiny blue rayon.

Union Jack Patches made using a zig-zag stitch.
All done! Are they perfect? No way! Does my son think they’re awesome? Why yes, yes he does! Am I happy? Yeah, pretty much. It was a fun experiment, but I will say this: about half-way through I realized it would have been much faster to just stencil them. Oops.

Speaking of stencils…

Ghost Balaclava

This scary looking critter is the balaclava for one Simon “Ghost” Riley, which you may remember from the very end of this post¬†as part of the Halloween costume for my darling 13-year-old son.

He really is darling, despite his XBox tendencies. He says please, and thank you, and has repeatedly given me hugs for creating this scary persona for him.

Ghost Balaclava

While researching this costume, I looked everywhere for a stencil. There was none to be found, so I made my own. Shown above is the 1.0 version, which is the one I used for the balaclava shown. I’ve cleaned it up considerably so I can share it with anyone else looking to make the same thing.

Ghost Balaclava Stencil PDF

This stencil was¬†specifically¬†sized to echo the size of my son’s face, so if you use it for yourself, you might need to scale it up or down a bit.

Add your Sewhooked-related photos to my flickr group and you might be featured in a future post!

And now, on to more quilty endeavors!


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Jan – May 2011 Class Schedule

Bluebonnet Stencil

Here it is, at last! My January – May 2011 schedule is all firmed up. I will be at Honey Bee Quilt Store‘s Open House on Sunday. Come by, meet the teachers and sign up for awesome new classes.


class sample batik - pinapple quilt block

Stellar Stripes

Tree Trimming

Bluebonnet Stencil


You can find my complete public schedule here. This is when I teach, go to guild meetings and volunteer for The Linus Connection.
Hope to see you around!

TARDIS Treat Bag

TARDIS treat bag tutorial

Being the Doctor Who obsessed family that we have become, I suppose it’s no surprise that one of my kids is going as The Doctor for Halloween. My dear daughter has her Ten costume all ready to go, courtesy of a day of thrifting. Because I can’t not be involved in her costume making, I asked if there was anything I could do.

She said yes…

“Mum, can you can you make a TARDIS bag for my treats?”

You better believe I can!

Despite it’s awesomeness, the TARDIS Treat Bag is super simple.

You need:

  • 9″ x 12″ acrylic felt sheets – 5 dark blue, 1 white and 1 glitter black
  • scissors
  • thread (I used navy blue)
  • ruler (rotary, if you’ve got one)
  • rotary cutter (optional)
  • sewing machine (optional)

You can definitely do this project without a rotary cutter and ruler and even without a sewing machine, so those items are optional. If you do hand stitch, make sure you make tight, even stitches and use heavy-duty knots so you don’t lose your candy!

Cutting Instructions:

from 1 sheet of blue felt (the other 4 sheets of felt stay 9″ x 12″), cut:

  • 9″ x 9″ square ¬†-bag bottom

from 1 sheet of white felt, cut:

  • 8 – 2 1/2″ x 3″ ¬†– Windows
  • 1 – 1/2 x 2″ – Notice
  • (optional) 4″ x 5″ – cell phone pocket
from 1 sheet of glitter black cut:
  • 2 – 2″ x 12″ – Handles
Note:¬†On all acrylic pieces, 9″ is width 12″ is height, so pieces are arranged with the 9″ width being the top and bottom.

1/4″ inch seams are used throughout

Using your ruler, arrange the window pieces on the 9″ x 12″ sheets of felt so that they are 1 1/2″ in from the sides and 2″ down from the top. ¬†For the TARDIS front, center the notice under the left window, leaving about 1/2″ in between.

Arrange window pieces on remaining three 9″ x 12″ blue felt.

Stitch windows in place, 1/4″ in from outside of white felt. The TARDIS windows have six panes. My windows are estimated, but you can measure and divide your stitching if you choose. Repeat for the two sides that are NOT the front of the TARDIS.

For the Notice on the front, sew some random stitching onto the ¬†1 1/2″ x 2″ piece of felt (as shown). This gives the illusion of writing from a distance. Stitch on each of the four sides with a short zig-zag stitch in each corner (forgot to take a close up…look about three photos down and you can see what I mean!).

OPTIONAL – After stitching all the windows on, choose a blue side that is NOT the TARDIS front. Align the 4″ x 5″ piece of felt under the window stitching. Straight stitch on the two long sides and across the bottom, making sure to backstitch at the start and stop.

For handles – Fold in half lengthwise and zig-zag down the open side.

Your TARDIS is now ready for assembly!

Find the front (windows with notice) and back (cell phone pocket – or without if you didn’t make one) and bag bottom. ¬†With the insides facing/right side out, place the bottom of the front piece along one side of the 9″ x 9″ bottom piece. Stitch across, leaving 1/4″ at the beginning and end of the seam unstitched (see below).

Seam allowance will be on the outside of the bag.

1/4″ unstitched on the end of the seam (both ends).

Repeat stitching for the back side, making sure the bottom of that side meets the bottom of the bag.

Sew the remaining two pieces on opposite sides, continuing to leave 1/4″ open at each end of the seam.

Find the front and the piece immediately to the left. Bring the two long sides (wrong side) together, right side out.

Stitch from corner to corner.

Repeat for the remaining three corners.

You now have a TARDIS with no handles. That’s the last bit and then you’re done!

The handles attach to¬†the¬†front (windows + notice) and back of the bag. Use a ruler to line up the handles 2 1/2″ in from each side of the bag, with about 2/3″ inside. Pin in place.

Starting at a corner seam, stitch all the way across the top of the bag, backstitching when you get to the handles. For added strength, continue stitching all the way around the bag, flattening out the seam allowance with your fingers before you stitch across it.

Handles…and you can see the cell phone pocket, too!

Snip above and below the top stitching to make the little notches (optional).

The TARDIS Treat Bag is easy to fold, just fold in the bottom and it will fold in on itself.

And… DONE!

TARDIS treat bag tutorial

Front detail.

Need more Doctor Who?
5" Dalek, paper pieced 20" TARDIS block TARDIS TARDIS door

More Doctor Who Quilt Patterns!

Happy crafting!


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Jewelry: Needle Earrings

needle earrings (1)

Some days, a girl feels more clever than others. ¬†Take the day that I was trying to think of something simple and inexpensive to make for each of the members of my sewing circle. ¬†At the time, I was weaving in some ends on my crochet work. ¬†I looked down at the yarn needle in my hand and BOOM… light bulb moment!

That was followed by a bout of Why Didn’t I Think Of This Sooner, which itself was followed by a trip to the craft store.

To make an awesome pair of Needle Earrings, you’ll need just a few things:

  • Jewelry Pliers (2 pair, if you’ve got them)
  • A package (or two!) of blunt tip yarn needles (metal or plastic will work)
  • 4 jump rings in the size of your choice per pair of earrings
  • French Hooks or similar

needle earrings (2)

You can find these blunt-tip yarn needles in the needlework with the crochet hooks and knitting needles.

needle earrings (3)

All the supplies to make a slew of needle earrings!

needle earrings (4)

For one earring attach needle > jump ring> jump ring > earring.  Two jump rings makes them hang nicer so that eye is turned out when you wear them.

Here’s a great photo tutorial on opening and closing jump rings.

Wash, rinse, repeat.  Wear and share!

You might also like:

Pumpkin Earrings

Earring Hanger

Pet Name

If you make a Sew Awesome Craft or any pattern, craft or recipe from sewhooked,  I’d love to see a photo.  Email me or add it to the sewhooked flickr group.

Happy crafting!




Paper Piecing: Drawing a Patchy Heart

patchy heartPatchy Heart Pattern

One of the most constant requests I’ve had over the years is for a video tutorial showing how I design paper pieced patterns.

Putting together a pattern is a step by step process, but designing is not. It’s artistic and intuitive.¬† Even so, there are some basic techniques that stay the same every time you start a new pattern.

The absolute best advice I can give you is practice, practice, practice!

This is how I do it. In the next two videos, I’ll walk you through, step-by-step, my own process. Both videos are real time.

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

If you make any pattern, craft or recipe from sewhooked, I’d love to see a photo. Email me or add it to the sewhooked flickr group.

Happy crafting!

How To: Repair a Broken Seam Ripper

In case you haven’t heard, March is Mending Month.¬† I do a lot of mending both on clothes and on items around the house, but nothing terribly exciting has popped up recently that seemed worth sharing.

Then I broke the little red tip off the head of my seam ripper and proceeded to stab myself in the thumb.¬† Ouch!¬†¬† Now, a seam ripper is a super cheap tool and I have dulled my fair share of them.¬† This particular one is fairly new and I hated to buy a new one when it’s still in fine stitch-picking shape.¬† While casting my mind around for a solution to this problem, my eyes landed on my tray of ball head straight pins.

Now there’s a thought!

It took about 5 minutes, and that’s including the time it took for me to run and grab my camera!

You’ll need:

  • Seam Ripper
  • ball head straight pin (You could also use a bead, though the centers of all the ones I tried were much too large.)
  • two pairs of jewelers pliers
  • glue (optional)

seam ripper with broken head

Using the jeweler’s pliers, remove the pin from the ball head.

ball head with pin removed

If the opening in the  ball head is too small to fit, place the pin on the point of the seam ripper and gently turn to enlarge the existing hole.

Place the ball head on the broken part of the seam ripper head.  Use the pliers to apply enough pressure to secure the head in place.  Be very careful, the seam ripper point is sharp!

If the ball head you’re using doesn’t seem secure, use a tiny dot of Super, Tacky or hot melt glue.

Wallah!  Repaired!

As always, if you make any pattern or craft from sewhooked,  I’d love to see a photo. Email me or add it to the Friends of sewhooked flickr group.

Happy crafting

also available on cut out + keep