Whenever I give gifts, I usually like to give handmade. Making a gift yourself means that you’ve put thought, time, and effort into the project, and it just makes the item that much more special. I understand that not everyone is crafty, so handmade gifts aren’t always an option (although you can always buy from someone’s etsy store!). Luckily, I’m skilled in a few different crafts, so I can usually whip something up for whomever.

The tutorial that follows was born out of a project I undertook for a dear friend’s Christmas present. I was running a little low on time, so I made these no-sew embellished cloth napkins to give to her.

Quick and cute!

What you’ll need:

4 cloth napkins (Mine were white, but you could always spice it up a bit with colored napkins. I got these at Target.)

1 fat quarter of patterned fabric

1 roll hem tape such as Stitch Witchery

self-healing cutting mat

rotary cutter


sewing gauge


The rotary blade makes precise cutting easy & quick. It's not essential (scissors will work just fine), but it sure takes a lot of work out of the cutting!

Step 1: Measure and cut. You want to first measure the width of the cloth napkin, so you can do the math to figure out how wide you need to cut the patterned fabric. Add one inch to the width of your napkins, and you have the measurement for your fabric! Then, decide how thick you’d like the strip to end up and add an inch to that as well. Easy peasy!

Here’s how I figured out my measurements: The napkins I used measured approximately 16″ across, so I added an inch to that, and determined that my strips needed to be 17″ wide. Then I decided that I wanted the band of contrasting fabric to end up measuring 2 1/2″, so I added an inch to that for a total of 3 1/2″. I cut my four strips 3 1/2″ tall and 17″ wide.

The perspective is wacky, but I promise all four strips are the same size!

Step 2: Fold and iron down the top and bottom edges. Using your sewing gauge, fold the top edge down 1/2″ and iron. Repeat for the bottom edge.

Use the handy dandy sewing gauge to make sure you're only folding down 1/2".

Now you've got clean edges, and you're ready to attach the contrasting band to the napkins!

Step 3: Attach the band to the napkin. Here’s where the Stitch Witchery comes into play. You first need to decide how high up you want your band to go on the napkins. I chose to place the bottom edge of the contrasting band at 1 1/2″ from the bottom edge of the napkin. *You can make your own judgment call, but it’s important to fold the napkin into quarters when choosing where to place the band.* Once you’ve decided, measure and line up the bottom edge of the contrasting band with the height you chose, making sure to move the ruler to the other side of the napkin so that the band will be straight once affixed to the napkin.

Now take the Stitch Witchery, unroll a bit of the hem tape, hold the end of the tape about 1/2″ in from the left edge of the napkin, and cut it about 1/2″ from the right edge. Slide the hem tape under the top edge of the contrasting band and use the iron to fuse the fabric to the napkin, being careful not to let it slip or iron in any creases. Repeat for the bottom edge of the fabric.

Step 4: Fold under and iron the left and right edges of the fabric and attach the ends. There’s no measurement necessary here. All you need to do is fold under the fabric on each end, aligning the crease with the edge of the napkin, and iron (sometimes you might have to trim off a little excess fabric so that the crease will line up). You can then cut a length of hem tape that corresponds to the height of the contrasting band (just hold it and cut it like before), slip it under the fabric, and iron to fuse.

It's all tidy edges now, and you've fused the contrasting band to the napkin, so YOU'RE DONE my friends!

Step 5: Fold the napkin into quarters, and pat yourself on the back. You’re finished! I like to go through the whole process for each individual napkin, but you could also go step-by-step with all four napkins at once, if that’s your style. This is a great project that you can do while watching TV or listening to tunes. Have fun with it. It’s a stress-free project!

(Optional) Step 6: Use your sewing machine and a cute decorative stitch to thoroughly tack down top and bottom. You can use the zigzag or another decorative stitch to add a little extra flair to your napkins. It’s not necessary to do this because Stitch Witchery will not wash away, but you may want to do it anyway if you’re the nervous or meticulous type.

Voila! Adorable napkins for you or a friend!!


My mom found this Western pearl snap shirt at the thrift shop attached to the crisis center where she works. I bought it for a whopping $2, knowing that it could use some work.

Pretty hideous

The embroidery and applique look like they were done by the previous owner, and everything was coming undone.

Not looking so hot, see?

My first order of business was to remove all of the gross-ness so I could start from scratch. It took a good while (3 episodes of Downton Abbey, as a matter of fact), but I got it all taken off.

Already looking better.

The areas that had been covered by those oh-so-lovely white flower appliques are darker than the rest of the shirt, since over time the shirt faded to almost a charcoal grey rather than a crisp black. If the shirt didn’t have that great white piping detail, I would most definitely have re-dyed the shirt. C’est la vie, I suppose. The next step in this rehab process was to find something to replace (and, hence, cover) the areas that had previously been embellished. I sorted through my collection of Sublime Stitching patterns (my sister and I are licensed stitchers through that great Austin company!) and selected some from the artist series featuring, this time, Ryan Berkley. I chose the lady cat and the fantastic Mr. Fox to go on the shoulders of my soon-to-be-fabulous shirt.

Ms. Kitty, already transferred

Mr. Fox, awaiting transfer

Transferred and ready to stitch!

I transferred the designs using the transfer paper for dark fabrics and stylus that I purchased from Sublime stitching as well. They worked much better than when I’ve used store-bought dressmaker’s transfer paper. I highly recommend buying both if you’re much of a stitcher.

I’ve got a way to go before this shirt is fully rehabbed, but I wanted to let you see some of the preliminary progress. I’ll keep posting as I make more headway!


Well, it’s been a good, long while since either Erin or I have written anything on the blog here at wordpress. I’m feeling a bit guilty, so I thought I’d write a quick little post to update you on our crafty goings-on.

Erin and I now have a facebook page for Artes domésticas.  We’d love to have you as a fan if you aren’t already! We’ve been selling on etsy for a while now, and we’ve had relative success. Take a look at that link too for some fun stuff!

After a very long time listed on our etsy site, I finally sold my Day of the Dead quilted pillow sleeve! I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s been featured on at least 4 etsy treasuries lately, and someone finally decided they wanted it for themselves. I’m planning to make another similar pillow, and this time I’m going to do a tutorial as I construct it. I’ve been invited by Jessica and Ali Rose of Rag Bag Artistry to join their Day of the Dead link party, so I’ve jumped at the chance (of course)!

It finally sold!!

I recently made another sale, and I’m quite pleased about that as well. I made a precious baby set for my friend Jessica’s baby, Jude, and with the leftover fabric, I made a couple of sweet little burp cloths.

Booties from Jude's baby set (2009)

The sweet burp cloths that just sold!

Erin, however, is the one who’s been doing the majority of selling these days. She got a great commission to stitch a series of tea towels with the images from some of Vargas’ most famous pinups. Here are a couple of photos of Erin’s work. They’re just gorgeous!!

The Original

Erin's version just started

Erin's gorgeous finished version

Glam pinup with beads

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the little update. The next post will probably be my quilted pillow tutorial, so keep your eyes peeled!

Neither Erin nor I have posted in quite a long time. Don’t fool yourself by thinking it’s because we don’t have time. It’s because both of us struggle with making time work for us.

Over the past few months, I have done quite a bit of crafting but I think I’m going to break my posts down by craft. That said, and as evidenced by the title of this post, knitting’s the jam–at least for today’s blog.

I decided in October that I needed to use up some of the yarn that has been languishing in my stash as either unfinished projects or projectless balls.  I found this partially completed, but totally wonky, scarf that I started who knows how long ago using a yummy lilac-toned Tabali yarn.

Yummy yummy delicious

I frogged the scarf (**for those of you not versed in knitting terminology, “frogging” means pulling out already knitted work. It gets its name because in order to pull out your knitting, you have to rip it, rip it. Get it?), and because I only had one skein of the yarn, I headed over to good ole’ Ravelry to look for a pattern that I could use that would be a quick and easy way to repurpose this yarn. I ended up choosing “Slouch Cap Redux” by Melissa “Missa” Mills. It only took me a couple of hours before I had a finished product. I look silly in hats because of my curls so I used my trusty styrofoam head and a sweet ex-student to model the hat.

Looks alright on my styrofoam head

Looks much better on Allison

I still have it, and I’ll certainly never wear it, so if you’re interested…

I also rediscovered an old FO (**finished object in knitting lingo) that I’d never bothered to block. It was knit with leftover Rowan kidsilk haze, a beautiful but rather frustrating yarn.

It comes in tons of gorgeous colors

Pinned to blocking mat

"All right Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-up"

This scarf is also available for anyone who’s interested…

In October, I also got a commission from my close family friend, Kathryn, for a cowl.  Instead of stash busting, I made a little trip to one of my local Austin LYS’s (Little Yarn Store), Hill Country Weavers, to pick out her yarn. With the help of smart phone technology, Kathryn and I were able to pick out the yarn for her cowl via picture messaging.  She chose this fantastic variegated yarn, Cascade Yarns Eco Duo, a butter-soft alpaca-merino blend.

Seriously, you just want to rub it on your face. It's that soft.

After a few hours of plain ole’ stockinette stitch, my hank of Eco Duo transformed into Kathryn’s cowl. I don’t have a 100% finished photo of the cowl, but 90% will do…

I love the way the variegation created a subtle striped effect

While I was shopping for Kathryn’s yarn, another alpaca captured my attention. I didn’t have a particular pattern in mind, but I bought a hank of Cascade Yarns Baby Alpaca Chunky anyway.  This particular yarn is bulkier than the Eco Duo and is 100% alpaca rather than a blend. I knew I could whip up a quick, scrumptious cowl out of it, so it seemed worth it at the time.

This yarn comes in a number of lovely, natural colors

It turns out that it was worth it. A friend purchased the final product for her mother for Christmas.

In all its slouchy, alpaca glory

A shot of the cowl flat that demonstrates the pretty eyelet detail

As Austin’s “winter” approached, another friend solicited handknits from me, so I started to work on a traditional watchcap.  It worked up relatively quickly with the Cascade 220 that I used, and I think it turned out quite nicely.  I don’t have a photo of it on its recipient, so you get a pic of me in it instead…

As I mentioned earlier, hats don't really suit me but you get the idea

Last but not least, I finished a long-standing project just in time to bring it to its recipient.  I started this sweater before my best friend’s baby was born and didn’t finish it until she was about three months old. Turns out, that was pretty much perfect timing. It’s a frilly little pink baby sweater, and baby Faith wears it well.

Sweet sweater for a sweet baby

As per usual, I have a zillion UFOs (UnFinished Objects) on needles. Back to work!