Monday, February 12, 2018

Come Sew With Me at the Sew Sweetness Retreat in Chicago!

Today I am super excited to share the news that I will be a guest teacher at Sew Sweetness Retreats with Sara Lawson!

Sara started her Sew Sweetness Retreats last June in Chicago. The class size is limited to 23 fun loving sewing enthusiasts ready to create a variety of projects! Every retreat has two classes, one is bag making with Sara and the other is a guest teacher that shares something else.

In June, I will be teaching you how to make a Cathedral Window Cushion Cover. Cathedral windows are not terribly difficult but always look stunning!

Sara will be teaching her Sew Sweetness Aeroplane Bag. The Aeroplane Bag is the traveler's best friend! It holds everything you need plus a little bit more!

A few years ago I made my version of the Aeroplane Bag and included Cathedral Windows and an external pocket. The fabrics in the windows were Liberty of London.

So if you are ready to PARTY HARD...and by PARTY HARD I mean sew with me and Sara...hop over to her site and sign up for her newsletter to be the first in line to get your ticket to this FABULOUS event!

Purchase your ticket now by visiting Sew Sweetness Retreats.

I look forward to seeing you in JuneπŸ’•

Monday, February 5, 2018

How to Make the Most of Your Scraps with String Quilt Blocks

Make the most of your favorite scraps or even your 'ugly' fabrics by making string blocks!

String Blocks are, by far, the easiest block ever made and can be the perfect choice for a beginner! You will find this How To the most useful tool in your sewing box!  We all need those go to patterns and ideas!

Here are a few I have made just this past week with some of my out of print and hard to find scraps that I cannot part with.

how to quilt

how to quilt

You can also make a variation with a solid center of each block as shown here with a bigger block size at 12.5 and Heather Ross Mendocino fabrics.

Here is the quilt top with the center strips solid.  I made this quilt last Summer on our family vacation. Each day I worked on a few blocks and this was the result at the end of the week ( that went by WAY too fast).

To show you how easy it is to create these fun blocks, I made a very short video.  The intent was for Instagram only and those are limited to 1 minute.  SO much to share in so little time but I think it is okay.

With a 5" inexpensive muslin foundation, a variety of strips from 3/4" to 11/2" and a few minutes of time you will have a variety of colorful blocks.

These are perfect for instant sew gratification when you are short on sew time.

They are also a what can I sew when your sewjo is off!

Grab some scraps, some ugly fabrics or plan some fabrics and make some string blocks! 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Fat Quarter Shop Block of the Month benefitting St. Jude's Research Hospital

The start of the year brings a variety of opportunities to participate in fun Block of the Month and Sew Alongs with different designers and brands.  At the end of December, I created a 2018 Block of the Month collection of different programs you might wish to consider for your sewing pleasure!

One of the Quilt Along options was the Fat Quarter Shop Clementine Quilt Along.

Kimberly and the Fat Quarter Shop Gang are hosting another charity BOM to benefit St. Jude's Children Hospital in 2018. Clementine is a beautiful quilt and the cause is very worthwhile! Find out more by visiting The Jolly Jabber.
Our Clementine Quilt Along benefits the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to help advance cures and means of prevention for catastrophic pediatric diseases. Fat Quarter Shop is happy to be partnering with Moda Fabrics to match up to $20,000 of donations for this awesome cause. And, on top of that, we will auction our Clementine Quilt Along quilt at the end of the program, and 100% of the auction proceeds will go to our St. Jude campaign. So please DONATE today!

The First Block was released yesterday and I just could not wait to make it!

This stack of Micheal Miller beauty has been waiting for years to become a quilt. It was given to me one Christmas from my best friend because she KNOWS that I love blue and white quilts ( I really really do!)

I had been waiting for the perfect quilt to come along and this is it!

I pieced my block using Aurifiil 50wt thread.

I printed up the pattern and hit it hard this morning.  I worked, walked the dog and then it was SEW TIME!

This morning was a race against time since the kids had early release from school ( because that hve not had enough days off for snow!).

Thank goodness, I finished just in time to take a quick photo and then pick up the kids in time.

 I hope you will join in for this wonderful Quilt Along! 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Useful Tips for Sewing with Knits

I dabble in garment sewing.  Admiring fashion for afar has been my life.  I was never a girlie girl.  My knowledge of make-up, fashion and hair have only been shared with me in the past few years from my dear friend Shari ( she is fabulous) and my teen aged daughter who has mastered the perfect cat eye eyeliner and what looks best with what.

I have been slowly expanding my garment sewing skills to include knits. Confession time...

I am a complete knit snob!  I am very very  over the top picky when it come to knits or really any fabric that comes in contact with my skin.  My knit must haves include:

1.Mid to heavy weight
2. Not scratchy
3. MASSIVE amounts of lycra! ( seriously...TONS! I am 51 and the lycra helps hole everything in is like a nice gentle hug πŸ˜‚)

On Facebook, I stumbled across a dress and started the mad search  to find out who made it. I am always on the lookout for well fitting garment patterns. I discovered it was the Wiggle Dress by Patterns for Pirates. I had to make one!

How to sew garments

The knit I found from Joann Fabrics has tiny dots and I love it! There are no other sources of apparel fabric where I live.  For now, I still must go and feel what I am buying. Crossing my fingers that someday soon I will be able to trek to New York City and shop at Mood Fabrics πŸ’–

When it came time to stitch up my knit, I was torn between using my sewing machine and my serger. Twin needles were recommended. Twin needles have always been a mystery to me and I did not want to trust my beginner skills with them, so for this dress I used my Janome My Lock 644D. I could not find my model on their website ( it is pretty old) but you can see more of the Janome sergers here. Mine is a workhourse and puts up with me so I cannot complain!

During the Christmas break, I recieved samples of the new Aurifil 40wt 3ply thread.  It is a 100% cotton thread that is specifically designed for longarm quilting. When using the Aurifiil 50wt or 40wt 2 ply thread on my serger, it would have issues with breaking. The 40/2 works but it is not a perfect match for the higher speeds.

The 40/3 is an absolute dream! It is absolutely smooth as silk and has no lint at all.  I was a little surprised at how easy it was to tie off my other thread and have the new thread glide right though. That never happens!

I also tried these cool Mini Clover Clips.  I purchased them by mistake but they are by far my most favorite find of 2017! It makes securing the knit in place so simple and without stretching the fabric. The fun colors and size also help me to keep track of them and not drop them in the carpet for my kids to find later.

clover mini clips

You can see the difference in size. These are also great for curved piecing!

And speaking of curved piecing, I discovered a fabulous thing! If you are a quilter and have been spooked by garment sewing because of setting sleeves...guess is the exact same as curved piecing!

A post shared by Kim Niedzwiecki (@gogokim) on

Here is a short list of things I have learned as a beginner garment sewing enthusiast for knits or woven fabrics:
  1. Have the right tools on on hand.  Marking tools, scissors, the correct needles for fabric and good sharp pins will help you be much more successful and much less frustrated.
  2. Make sure to read not only the fabric requirements but the notions you will need to complete the garment. Interfacing, thread (I use Aurifil 40wt for my garment construction on my sewing machhin and Aurifil 40wt 3 ply for my serger...The 40/3 is the yellow cone), zippers, and bias tape are all items that you could possibly need to finish your garment. 
  3. Know your sizes. Patterns are not the same as your off the rack size; they are based on your measurements. Measure yourself and remember that size is only a number, not a judgement. You are size BEAUTIFUL! 
  4. Read all the instructions before cutting into your fabric. If there is something you do not understand, you can ask friends or look it up the answer online.
  5. For more fitted patterns and especially when you are making a more advanced pattern, create a muslin (as mentioned above). There are many good classes, books and tutorials on proper fitting. People are all different sizes and shapes. For my garments, I needed to make small bust adjustments and adjustments for a long waist. Once you have figured out how to do these adjustments, your items will be customized to your shape and will look fabulous!
  6. PDF patterns have to be printed then put together. Washi tape or painter’s tape is your best friend. You can use it to tape the pattern pieces together and if you mess up, you can easily remove the tape and try again. An added bonus is that both tapes are useful other places in your sewing room. Washi tape for the WIN! 
  7. I did find that independent designer patterns were more clearly written – in a way most people could easily read and understand and/or figure out the steps with the images provided. On the other hand, commercial patterns seem to be written more for people who already know how to sew garments. If you’re beginning to sew or need a refresher in garment sewing, I recommend starting with independent patterns.  
  8. Don't underestimate your abilities! 
Learning more about garment sewing helped me to appreciate how much work goes into everything I wear. Even my ten-year-old remarked on how much time and effort must go into every piece of clothing. Most children never see what goes into making the clothing they wear. It was a great life lesson for both of us.

Garment sewing has helped me in my other sewing projects. The exposure to a different type of sewing seems to have given me a new perspective. I feel more confident to try new things, which is kind of exciting! If I can do this, you can too! Just take that first stitch!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Work In Progress Wednesday

It is fair to say that if a quilter does not have a variety of works in progress, something is gravely wrong! If this statement is true, my life is ALL KINDS of perfect! I have so much and then some!

The cold grey days of Winter have prompted new projects left and right for me.  This week I have added to my rainbow New York Beauties.  This is block 0.  The free patterns for these blocks can be found by visiting Ulas Quiltseite.  If you are new to paper piecing or are looking for tips for paper piecing angles without pulling your hair out, please read How To Paper Piece Quilt Blocks.
New York Beauty Quilt Block

My methods are not what I consider to be tidy. I have a 'Sew and Throw' attitude!  It makes a massive mess but overall it seems to work and keeps things hopping!

My New York Beauties are Alison Glass Sun Prints for Andover and the background fabric is Robert Kaufman Essex Linen Metallic Fog.  All of my blocks are pieced using Aurifil 50 wt thread.

Another project I have started is The Quilter's Planner BOM.  I recently shared a great list of 2018 Block of the Months and Sew Alongs for you to join to add to your fun for 2018.

The Quilter's Planner BOM starts off with this beauty! It took all of my strength not to fussy cut the center but I managed to not only to put the perfect images away ( I had four chosen and a massive mess to prove it), I chose PINK!

The background fabric is my all time...hands doubt about it favorite Modern Backgrounds by Zen Chic for Moda Fabrics πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—

My tip for this week is one I have shared previously.  It is possibly one of my all time favorites! Using a pattern tracing wheel for marking fabric. No fuss and fret about lines reappearing. No trying to find a marking pen or chalk that may or may not wash out. Simple, easy and perfect!

A post shared by Kim Niedzwiecki (@gogokim) on

I would love to know what you are working on this week! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

How To Paper Piece Quilt Blocks ( free pattern link and video)

One of the things I adore the most about New York Beauty blocks or any paper piecing block is the ability to not have complete focus. You can create beauty without worrying too much about perfection.

Paper piecing are the best when you want to sew but are afraid to make mistakes. Being a visual learner, I take the following steps to make less mistakes and end up enjoying the process so much more!


Choosing the right tools for paper piecing success is step number one! The pattern is part of the New York Beauty Pattern that are free from Ulas Quiltseite. There are 10 patterns. The one I am making is a modified number 5. I am opting not to add the extra piecing in the middle.

I use Aurifil 50wt thread for all of my piecing and paper piecing.  It is thin and strong. Perfect for flat blocks! The fabrics are Alison Glass and Robert Kaufman Essex Linen.  The combination is gorgeous!

After printing out your pattern, prefold the paper at the lines where you will be sewing. This will create a great visual for when you are doing the next steps.

With the right side of the pattern facing away from you, take the fabric for section 1 and face it right side up ( or the pretty side looking at you )

for the fabric that will be covering section 2 place it right side down on top of the first fabric. make sure these two are about 1/4 over the first fold.

Bad photo! Set your sewing machine to about a 1.5 stitch length.

Flip over and, making certain that the fabric is not bunched up under ( it happens and is not pretty), sew directly on the line between the 1 and the 2 & sew a couple of stitches before and after the end for good measure.

Here is a quick video for those of you who, like me, need that extra visual help!

With these steps, I am able to have perfect paper piecing even with angles!

After the paper piecing, the curved piecing is as simple as mark your center , add a pin and then...

Secure the sections with mini clips. I love the tiny ones for this job!

This will have to wait until this weekend to be finished but I am so happy with the colors!

If you have more questions on how to paper piece, please let me know! 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Creative Life Unscripted and Crocheted

Creativity is a way of life, not a hobby.

Creative outlets can be found in many ways.  I sew, write, sing, dance and will pick up new things here and there.  I have found my zen place to be in the focus of doing something...anything that has a start, ( hopefully) has an end and ,most importantly, makes me feel something!  Happiness, sadness, anger...something!

One of the parts about embracing creativity is that it can bring you peace when you need it the most.

how to crochet

It has been about 16 years since a crochet hook has been in my hand. I knew how to when I was younger but somehow forgot how when I was pregnant with the youngest. Some people lose words, I lost the ability to crochet.

This weekend I went on an unexpected road trip ( Left Friday afternoon, returned Sunday evening 21 hours driving) and packed in such a haste, I forgot to add in hand stitching. I was with my sister and she asked if I wanted her to pick up a crochet needle an some yarn for me since she was going to pick out some new yarn for knitting.  My sister is one of those amazing people that has the creative morphing super power! She can do anything AND she makes it seem effortless.  I love her for many many reasons but this exceptional super power has always impressed the snot out of me!

I reminded her that I forgot how to crochet (  darn pregnancy amnesia) but she insisted that I would be able to pick it right back up.  Did I mention how much I love my sister?  She is very supportive!

She came back and handed me this beautiful variegated cotton yarn and a matching crochet hook.  I may have squealed a touch! So PRETTY

I played a bit with single chain stitching and had the hang of it ( YAY ME)! I went on youtube and found this great video to help get me started with relearning how to make granny squares. If you have some knowledge of crochet and need a good video for pretty granny squares, this is IT!

Now that I am back home, I will be able to see the video on a larger screen ( much needed for my oldish eyes) and I am looking forward to making more of these beautiful blue blocks! Creativity is in us all, even if sometimes we think we don't remember how! YouTube has EVERYTHING 😊

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