Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

A Practical Approach to Stocking the Freezer Before Baby

We are in the final few weeks before Baby arrives – eeeek! (Honestly, sitting here at 38 weeks, I sure wouldn’t mind if he made his appearance any time now!) This pregnancy has flown by…in fact, I can still remember thinking during Henry’s first week of full-time school back in September that I had SO much time to knock out a ton of to-dos before my due date rolled around. From a bunch of organization projects in our new house and designing my soon-to-launch kitchen printables to finishing the nursery and sewing a bunch of fun things for baby, perhaps my expectations were set a bit high. #guilty On top of everything else I had planned, I also really wanted to have a fully stocked freezer of healthy, wholesome and easy meals that we could eat in the first few weeks after Baby’s arrival. While I had very high hopes that I would do some massive freezer meal preparations, I was just never able to carve out the time in our busy schedule to make it happen. But that doesn’t mean we are wholly unprepared! Today, I thought I’d show you my easy and practical approach for stocking the freezer before baby arrives without having to do a massive shopping/prepping marathon. Whether you have a baby coming too or would just like to dip your toe into having a better stocked freezer, hopefully these tips will get you moving in the right direction!

*this post contains affiliate links

First, let me preface this post with the disclaimer that I am NOT a freezer meal maven. If you’re looking for some serious freezer meal tactics, I’m not your girl. In general, I don’t like to have too much stocked up because 1) we don’t have a ton of freezer space; 2) I don’t like stocking up on things that will never get eaten (i.e., forgotten things stuffed in the back of the freezer); and 3) doing massive shopping/prep sessions overwhelm me. That said, baby coming or not, it’s always handy to have a few meals in the freezer ready to go for busy (or lazy!) nights, and I have found some great ways to keep a steady stock at all times.

What’s My Secret?

It’s pretty simple:

Whenever I make something that freezes well, I double/triple the recipe and freeze the extra into additional meals.

Yep. It’s that straight-forward and simple. Whenever I am making a meal, in our regular meal rotation, that I know freezes/re-cooks really well, I will simply double or triple the recipe while I am making it. We have one “serving” for dinner that night, and then I package and freeze what’s remaining (usually before it’s cooked) into meals that are suitably sized for our family. Here are a few quick reasons why I love this approach so much:

  • There is very little extra work. Oftentimes, a full recipe is enough to make 2-3 meals for just Greg and I. Instead of half-ing the recipe for our small family OR eating extras as leftovers, I’ll package up the meal (before cooking/baking) into smaller meals to stock the freezer. And if a single recipe isn’t quite enough for a additional meals, doubling or tripling it rarely requires extra work. If I am making something labor intensive (like lasagna or stuffed chicken), I might as well make it worth my time and make as much of it as I can!
  • I don’t need to shop for lots of extra ingredients. Frequently, making a recipe leaves me with extra or leftover ingredients. By doubling/tripling the recipe, I use up what I’ve bought for that recipe rather than letting it sit in the fridge/pantry (where it will often expire before I get a chance to use it up).
  • I don’t need to carve out extra kitchen time. I don’t particularly enjoy meal prep as it is, so I certainly don’t want to spend a random/full day in the kitchen if I don’t have to. As such, I only double/triple recipes at the time I am already preparing them for that day/night’s meal. Again, if it’s time I am already planning on spending in the kitchen, why not make the most of it!

My Favorite Freezable Recipes

The internet is FULL of handbooks, workbooks, cookbooks and round-ups of the “best” freezer meals. So if you are trying to really get into freezer meals, I would suggest searching “Freezer Meal Cooking” on Pinterest. As much as knocking out a ton of meals all at once kind of appeals to me…it works better for me and our family when I simply stick to meals we already make and love and just prepare extra of them. As such, I suggest you go through your recipes and identify ones that freeze well and start there. If you need some ideas or are just curious, here are the recipes/meals I find myself freezing over and over:

Casseroles/Bakes

  • Lasagna – I typically make a single recipe of my Mom’s lasagna and split it into 3 mini versions using these freezer-safe and over-safe dishes.
  • Real Simple’s Baked Ziti – I love this recipe because it makes a TON (easily 2-3 meals), is easy to make, and nutritious!
  • Creamy Rosemary Penne Pasta Bake – This one is pretty labor intensive and requires ingredients I don’t often buy. So whenever I make it, I triple it and freeze up the extra into disposable baking pans.

Other Freezable Dishes

  • Rachel Ray’s Lazy Greek Chicken – We LOVE this chicken dish, but I find the recipe labor intensive. As such, I will typically prepare/stuff 6-10 chicken breasts at a time and then wrap them and freeze them individually (before they are cooked). Once thawed, they cook in just 20 minutes. I then pair them with freezer rolls and a bagged salad to get a nutritious meal on the table without having to really cook!
  • Pulled BBQ Chicken/Beef/Pork – A single recipe usually makes enough for several meals. Since this one is typically cooked before you package it up, all you have to do is heat it up in a microwave and pair with buns and a bagged salad for dinner! I often do a big recipe in the crock pot and then package up 2-3 serving portions into Ziplock bags and store them flat (less bulk!).
  • Slow Cooker Asian Chicken (for lettuce wraps) – I make this recipe ALL the time. Not only is it quick and easy (hello crockpot!) but it makes a lot and freezes well. It’s a nice change to pastas and other dishes that typically come from the freezer. Once heated up, I just serve it with lettuce leaves and cut up veggies. Couldn’t be easier!
  • Sausage & Beef Barley Soup – This is another recipe that makes a ton without even doubling it, making all the chopping and browning of meat worth it. We usually get 3-4 meals from a single recipe and it’s also my go-to for families who just had a baby!
  • Chili – Obviously.
  • Meatloaf – I typically load extra meatloaf mixture into a muffin tray to freeze it into individual portions. (Once frozen, I transfer the “meatloaf muffins” into a Ziplock bag for storage). To prepare, I pop as many as we need back into a muffin tin, thaw, and bake according to recipe directions.

Sauces

This is one of my favorite tricks and really makes getting dinner on the table fast! A lot of the dishes I make are pastas or stir-frys that taste “fancy” because of a sauce that is simply added to basic ingredients at the very end.  I have a few I now make all the time; and when I do…yep…I make them in bulk and freeze them in small containers or bags. Here are my go-tos that will get a lot of love in the coming weeks:

  • Rachel Ray’s Artichoke Pesto – We make this in big batches while I have the food processor out. We’ve found it is best served tossed with a hearty pasta (like penne), arugula or spinach, and chunks of Italian sausage.
  • Rachel Ray’s Thai Peanut Sauce – I only use this recipe to make the sauce (again, in big batches). Instead of using it with noodles, we toss it with a stir fry of chicken, onions, carrots, spinach all over brown rice. We easily have this 2-3/month, as it’s my “go to” when I have no energy to cook.
  • Chicken Spaghetti Sauce – We tend to rely on off-the-shelf jars of spaghetti sauce when we’re doing meatballs or sausages. But a few times a year, I will make my Mom’s Chicken Spaghetti Sauce in large batches and store it in smaller portions. I like this recipe a lot because the meat is already in the sauce so all I have to do is cook some noodles (rather than also cook the meatballs, sausage, etc).

Items I Rely On for Storing Freezer Meals

Over the past few weeks/months, I have been slowly adding to our freezer inventory with many of these dishes. I can’t say I’ve made them all (however some ARE on our list for THIS week!). Some are waiting to for when baby arrives, but others have already been eaten because this Mama has been a bit too tired to cook in recent weeks! Still, I thought I’d show you the items I rely on over and over when putting meals into our freezer:

There are a million things to do to prepare for a new baby in the home. Smooth the transition and still get healthy and satisfying meals on the table with this no-fuss, practical approach to stocking the freezer!

  1. Glass Snapware – I LOOOVE these. They are small and sturdy, making them ideal for packing up 2-3 serving sized dishes of casseroles, soups and more. I love that they are both freezer- and oven-safe so (once the food is thawed as necessary), I don’t have to transfer dishes before cooking/baking!
  2. Disposable Bakeware – I’ve started storing casseroles and other things that need to go into the oven into disposable tins in recent weeks. Not only am I running out of my glassware, but the fewer dishes the better once baby arrives!
  3. Gallon and Quart Freezer Bags – Soups and sauces are best stored flat (for less bulk), and I find the Ziplock freezer bags NEVER drip or leak. I also use the Gallon versions overtop my glass and disposable baking pans for extra protection from freezer burn.
  4. Tin Foil – Not only can lids be bulky and breakable (especially on the disposable pans), but so many caseroles need to be covered in tin foil for baking. I often skip the included lids, cover the pan in tin foil and then add a Ziplock bag for good freezer protection + easy stacking.
  5. Dry-Erase Markers  I label my freezer items in various ways (I’ll show you here in a sec!), but for any of my glassware/plastic lids, I love using dry-erase markers. Not only are they quick and easy to grab and scribble the contents directly onto the containers, but they wipe/wash off pretty easily once you’ve eaten the freezer dish.
  6. Avery 5264 Labels – Sometimes a scribble on a lid isn’t quite sufficient to describe the contents and cooking instructions of a meal to so I often rely on these easy-to-print labels. More on these below.
  7. Freezer Inventory and Labels – Depending on how much you freeze and store, keeping track of your freezer meals can be just as important as making and labeling them! So that I don’t need to hunt through my freezer every time I put together a meal plan, my freezer inventories have become a handy part of my freezer meal system (more below!).

Labeling My Freezer Meals

There are a million things to do to prepare for a new baby in the home. Smooth the transition and still get healthy and satisfying meals on the table with this no-fuss, practical approach to stocking the freezer!

(These labels are now available HERE!)

I LOOOOVE having a bunch of these labels printed out and tucked into my Kitchen Binder, ready whenever I need them. When I prepare a meal for the freezer, I simply fill out a label and stick it right onto the Ziplock bag for the corresponding dish. (Note – I found these labels don’t peel off the plastic lids cleanly, so applying them to a disposable cover is a better bet!). No more mysterious dishes in the back of the freezer OR having to look up the recipe once it’s time for cooking!

There are a million things to do to prepare for a new baby in the home. Smooth the transition and still get healthy and satisfying meals on the table with this no-fuss, practical approach to stocking the freezer!

For my small glass dishes that often contain sauces or small servings, I often just grab a dry erase marker and write the contents directly on the lid. A simple wipe with a wet sponge gets the words off every time!

There are a million things to do to prepare for a new baby in the home. Smooth the transition and still get healthy and satisfying meals on the table with this no-fuss, practical approach to stocking the freezer!

Keeping Track of Freezer Meals with an Inventory

There are a million things to do to prepare for a new baby in the home. Smooth the transition and still get healthy and satisfying meals on the table with this no-fuss, practical approach to stocking the freezer!

(Psssst – These inventories are also similar to my Freezer Labels & Inventory post from last Spring. I’ve re-designed and expanded them for my new kitchen printable pack set to release early next month (and they are soooo good!!!) but if you want access to some similar inventories now, get them HERE!)

As I have mentioned in recent months, I’ve been working hard to create a series of systems and printables to help make my meal planning and prep easier. You’re going to find out all the details here soon, but one of the main things I wanted was to be able to plan out our meals without having to really hunt and peck around the house for all my recipes and meals already on hand. As such, keeping track of what meals, what servings, and how many are on hand has been super helpful. As I make each meal and package it up for the freezer, I simply add it to the inventory in my binder. When I sit down to plan out our weekly meals, I can see at-a-glance what is still on hand as we eat things up!

There are a million things to do to prepare for a new baby in the home. Smooth the transition and still get healthy and satisfying meals on the table with this no-fuss, practical approach to stocking the freezer!

(These inventory sheets are now available HERE!)

I have some more cooking and stocking I want to get done in the next few weeks, which is why our meal plan for this week is mostly dishes that freeze really well! Even without a massive cooking day, I can take comfort in knowing I have a tried-and-true method for getting some meals into our freezer. Do you prepare meals for your freezer? What kinds of methods do you use? Any tips to share? Be sure to chime in in the comments!

I know I’ve been yammering on about it for quite some time, but the release of my whole new library of kitchen-themed printables set is just around the corner. I’ve been working like crazy on it and I think you guys will really love (and use!) what I’ve pulled together. Right after Christmas, I am going to be sharing sneak peeks and special pricing for those on my mailing lists so if you’re not on it already, be sure to sign up here:

I hope you all have a great weekend! Next week will be my last week of posts before I take some time off for the holidays/baby (that is if he doesn’t come sooner!). I’m  hoping to (finally) show you some glimpses of our holiday home, as well as launch this year’s reader survey. See you back here soon!

P.S. Be sure to check out my collection of over 200+ kitchen organization printables to get every area of your kitchen, meal planning, and grocery shopping organized and on track!

Ready to organize your kitchen? These 200+ printable pages can help!

Home Decor Sewing School | How to Sew Half-Square Triangles

Even though everyone (likely) has Christmas on the brain right now, I wanted to pop in with my next Home Decor Sewing School tutorial! I’ve actually been blown away how popular these tutorials have been in recent months, and I am so excited to hear that I’ve motivated and encouraged some of you to actually tackle some simple sewing projects. I’ve said it each time, so I’ll just repeat it again: I’m not an expert sewer (by any stretch!); but over the years, I have learned and “mastered” some basic sewing techniques that allow me to not only make things for our own homes, but others’ as well! These are projects that people may look at and think “I could never do that.” But once you see how truly easy they are, hopefully you’ll be more inclined to give them a try. So far, we’ve covered how to sew piping, pillow shams, and boxed corners. Today, we are dipping our toe into quilting, and I am going to show you how to sew half-square triangles.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

What Is a Half-Square Triangle?

The “half-square triangle” or HST is a term you may or may not have heard before; but I guarantee you’ve seen them (even if you are just a casual quilt admirer). When put together into larger patterns, they can create some pretty spectacular effects; but in isolation, they are exactly as the title suggests: two triangles that come together to form a square.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

I love the HST for so many reasons. First and foremost, as you will soon see, they are so stinkin’ fast and easy to make! If you need to whip together an amazing quilt in short order, the HST is your very best friend. And second, they are the foundation to some of the most spectacular quilt patterns. The squares can be rotated and combined to create a variety of effects. In fact, I’ve used HSTs to make two very different quilts already shown here on the blog:

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

HERRINGBONE QUILTWILD GREEN QUILT

Do you see the HSTs in the above quilts? Sometimes they can be tricky to pick out depending on how the colors are used and the optical illusion the fabrics create. The picture below might help:

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

And these two are just the tip of the iceberg! The HST can be used in countless ways. Here are just some quick examples, but check out HERE for loads of ideas!

Half-Square Triangle Quilt Ideas

If you look at some quilts you love and focus in on the basic element, you might find they are indeed just HSTs put together in a really cool way!

What You Need

Hopefully, I now have you convinced that the HST is a quilt technique worth learning and mastering. Now I’m going to show you how easy they are to sew together! Here is what you need to sew HSTs:

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

*affiliate links used

  1. Self-healing cutting mat
  2. Cutting ruler
  3. Square ruler (optional, but SO handy)
  4. Rotary cutter
  5. 1/4″ quilting foot for your sewing machine (optional, but SO handy)
  6. Fabric pen
  7. Thread
  8. Fabric

Just a quick note on #5, the 1/4″ quilting foot for your sewing machine. In quilting, a majority of seams are 1/4″. You can certainly sew these seams with a careful eye and a regular presser foot. However, once my Mom gave me the 1/4″ foot, I was amazed at how much easier it was to get consistent seams on my quilt blocks. Your’s may not look like this (each machine’s feet have a different look), but most (I think) will have a guide that is perfectly measured at 1/4″.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Here’s the foot on my machine. The red lines on either side of the guide are exactly 1/4″ out, meaning I can use this foot to sew on either side/direction! Check the manual to your specific sewing machine to learn more about your 1/4″ foot. They are usually just a couple dollars and are worth investing in!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Before you can sew up the HSTs, you need to cut your fabric down into squares. What size squares you need to cut are outlined in the two different tutorials below. At this time, I am not going to go into the various patterns/effects you can create with different fabrics. You can use the images above to decide a pattern you like (or Google “Half-Square Triangle Quilt Patterns”) and figure out how to lay out your squares from there. Just note that each HST is made out of two different fabrics. So if you want a red and white finished HST, start with one red square and one white square.

TIP! I find it easiest to do all these steps (cut, then sew, then cut, then iron, etc) in batches, so take the time to cut down all your fabric(s) into squares before moving on.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

The Half-Square Triangle – Method 1 (Yields 2 HSTs)

There are lots of different ways to make HSTs, but all of them are based on sewing squares together and cutting them apart in different ways. This first method sews two squares together to yield 2 identical HSTs. To help you determine what size to cut your starting squares, use this handy chart:

Half-Square Triangle Measurements - Method 1

To get really precise measurements, I recommend using a rotary cutter, mat and ruler.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

For one set of HSTs: start with two squares cut to the exact same size (mine were cut to 8″ for ease) and place them on your work surface with RIGHT sides facing each other.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

On the top square (which should have the WRONG side facing up), draw a line from one corner to the opposite corner using a fabric pen.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Next, sew a line 1/4″ away on BOTH sides of the line you just drew through both squares of fabric.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

To do this, line up the guidelines on your 1/4″ foot with the pen line and stitch down the full diagonal of the squares.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

If you look carefully at the images below, you will see a line of white stitching on BOTH sides of the drawn pen line.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Next, use a ruler and rotary cutter to cut along that same pen line.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Once cut, you should be able to flip open the squares along the seams you sewed to reveal two HSTs…each made with half triangles of your two fabrics! Neat, huh?

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

The Half-Square Triangle – Method 2 (Yields 4 HSTs)

This next method also makes HSTs. But instead of creating 2 identical HSTs, it creates 4 identical HSTs…although the four are a bit smaller. Use the following chart as a general guide to determine your final square measurement using this method. (NOTE: This method doesn’t create “simple” sized HSTs; but once they are squared off, you can create the more “workable” sizes as shown.)

Half-Square Triangle Measurements - Method 2

Like above, start by trimming down the fabric to  your desired starting-sized squares. The squares used in this example are the same as above: 8″.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Also like before, place your squares right-sides-together…

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

This time however, instead of sewing on diagonal, sew the two squares together along all 4 edges (again, using a 1/4″ seam allowance).

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

This time, I used the outside guide of my 1/4″ foot along the edge of the fabric to get the correct measurement.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

With all four edges sewn shut, you will cut along BOTH diagonals this time to create the HSTs.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Just like before, once you flip each one open along the sewn seams, you will end up with four identical HSTs! How easy is that!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Pressing the Seams

With your squares sewn and cut, there are still a few more steps you need to take before they can be assembled into a quilt. The first step is to press the seams to one side and press the whole HST flat.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Start with your triangle pointing to the left. For each HST of the same patterns, make sure the same fabric is on top (so all the seams are pressed the same way). For these grey/blue squares, I started with the blue chevron on top every time.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

First, iron the seam with the triangle shut (below left). This “sets” the seam, which essentially allows you to easily pull the top open (below right) while keeping the seam in place.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Once pulled open, iron the center seam flat.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Repeat for all the HSTs, ensuring your seams are all pointing the same direction.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Trimming Off Tails & Squaring Off

There is one final and very important step you need to take before the squares can be sewn into a quilt. If you look closely at each and every HST, they have little “tails” at the corners where they were sewn/cut. If these aren’t trimmed off, it makes for very tricky matching of seams AND bumps in your final quilt because of bulk. We need to trim those off!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

You can certainly take a scissors and just trim them all off, but this is also a good opportunity to “square off” your HSTs. If your seams or cutting went wonky along the way, this is where you can compensate for it and make everything nice and square and identical from square to square.

You don’t HAVE to use one, but having a square ruler makes this part so much easier. Simply line up the diagonal line on the ruler with the diagonal seam on your quilt block…

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

…and then use a rotary cutter to not only trim off the tails, but trim the entire square down to your “finished square” size.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

See? No tails and a perfectly symmetrical 7.5″ square all ready to be assembled into a quilt!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Here is a quick example of how the two methods differ a bit. Both the red/white and blue/grey started as 8″ squares. Method 1 yields 2 larger HSTs, while Method 2 yields 4 smaller squares.

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Once you’ve tried and mastered this basic sewing concept, you’ll be whipping up HSTs (and ultimately quilt blocks!) in no time! These really do come together so fast. In fact, it took me less time than the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album to sew together and cut down all these squares into HSTs!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

With your squares all sewn, cut, and ironed, you are ready to start assembling your quilt. But this tutorial is long enough, so I’m going cut it off here for now. I’ll be busy working away on Baby’s quilt over the next few weeks and will have the second half of this installment (“How to Assemble a Basic Quilt”) for you next month! For now, here is where I am headed!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

What has become very easy and “second nature” to me is sometimes a bit tricky to explain in step-by-step instructions like this. If something is unclear, please let me know and I’ll help you as best I can. If you’ve always wanted to try sewing a quilt…this is a great place to start. Grab some fabric (don’t worry about colors or patterns) and cut it into some squares (don’t fret over the size) and just start whipping up some HSTs. By the time you’ve got it down, I’ll be back to show you how to put it together!

Also, in the meantime, be sure to check out the other tutorials in this series by clicking on the picture!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

I have a long running list of other sewing tutorials that have been requested and I want to do. If there is something you’re dying to learn, be sure to let me know in the comments!

The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Hope your week is off to a great start. Later this week, I’ll be sharing a look at our simple yet festive indoor holiday decor! See you soon!

Megan Signature

The Pros and Cons of Decorating on a Deadline

Two weeks ago today, I wrapped up my very first round participating in the One Room Challenge (ORC) – an online home decor design challenge where bloggers from across the web commit to decorating an entire room from start to finish in the span of 6 weeks AND document it in “real time” on their blogs. The ORC is something I have seen and followed along with for many years, but never felt compelled to participate in myself. I decided to play along this time around for a variety of reasons, but primarily used the challenge to motivate myself to get the baby’s nursery not only started but completely finished. Now that the dust has settled and my energy has (mostly!) recouped, I thought I’d take a minute to share a few thoughts on the experience as a whole and weigh in on some of the pros and cons of decorating on a deadline!

Decorate a room from start to finish or let it develop naturally? Click through to read the The Pros and Cons of Decorating on a Deadline

First…how about a quick tale of two different rooms!

Our NC Home Office

Years ago (about 3.5 to a be a bit more precise), I remember deciding (and declaring here on the blog) that I was going to makeover our North Carolina home office/craft room while my husband was away on a short-term deployment. I thought the hot summer combined with the clear deadline of his return would motivate me to finally put a design in place after waffling in the space for a good two years. At first, I was able to make some fantastic progress on the office side of the room with a few projects that were already at the top of my To-Do List. While I made fast progress on one half of the room, I stalled out big time with ideas and a solid creative direction for the craft side of the room. Instead of walking away and waiting for inspiration to strike, I forced more projects for the sake of progress and being able to call the room “done.” This ultimately resulted in re-doing certain aspects of the room (even several times over) throughout the following year; and I was actually unable to bring the room to a well-designed finish I was truly satisfied with before we had to move. At that time, I remember thinking to myself that I would never force a room design just to meet a “deadline” again…because it simply led to too much wasted time and money and a whole lot of frustration!

craft-room-office-reveal-007  craft-room-office-reveal-026

Henry’s “Big Boy” Room

About a year later (when Henry was about 3), he was ready to transition out of his crib, and I was (more than) ready to finally move on from his owl-themed nursery decor. I picked some fabrics I loved and built a design plan around them. I certainly didn’t intend to do the room from start-to-finish and didn’t put a strict deadline in place. However, this room came together rather efficiently, probably in about a month or so. In this instance, I had a solid design in place and simply worked from one project to the next in a very linear fashion.  To date, it’s still one of my all-time favorite spaces, and often I reflect on how easy of a room it was to design. However, it’s always stuck with me that I got some feedback from readers that they found it a bit boring to follow one space from week-to-week. By the time the room was done, so were my readers!

henrys-big-boy-room-reveal-020

I share these two anecdotes to shed some light on my perspective coming into the ORC. While I have successfully designed rooms from start-to-finish on a condensed timeline; more often than not, my room transformations unfold more like the first story. I have learned over the years (and waaaaayyy too many re-done/un-done projects or replaced items) that I create better spaces when I pursue the projects and decisions that feel really right and walk away when I am stalled, frustrated, bored, or unsatisfied. Additionally, having watched several previous ORC participants share that it was not only a really stressful experience, but that they also regretted some of the decisions they made because of the strict deadlines and pressure to deliver…the experience never felt like a good fit for me, the blog, or my readers!

So Why Did I Participate?

For a few reasons, actually! Each time the ORC has rolled around in the past, we have either been getting ready to move,  just moving in, or all our rooms were done. This time around, the timing was perfect. We were settled enough after our move that it didn’t feel disruptive, and I was super antsy to get working on some more creative projects (rather than just the tedious moving in stuff!). The other big reason was Baby! I know he won’t be in his room at the get go, but the timing of the ORC and my due date couldn’t have been more perfect. I was chomping at the bit to work on baby items, and the nudge of the challenge was just enough to get me started. As I’ve shared a few times here and there, I have also been feeling a bit directionless and hopeless about the state of this house, and thought a full-on room makeover would be the perfect thing to get my creative juices flowing again. Lastly, I was honestly curious about what all the blog “hype” was really about. I was interested to see what kind of traffic, new readers, and opportunities participating in the challenge would bring!

And Was It Worth It?

In some ways, yes…and in others, nope! The biggest perk is that we have a fully finished nursery that I am completely smitten with. I have a bunch of back-logged posts/projects that I am hoping to share once baby gets here to help ease the load of my posting schedule. And it feels so wonderful to have one room in this house that feels like me. The rest of the house may be a chaotic, undecorated mess. But this room…this room is how I like things to look, function, and feel.

We transformed this boring bedroom into a Super Hero Nursery for our Baby Boy in just 6 weeks as part of the One Room Challenge. Click through to see all the DIY nursery details!

Thankfully, the nursery room came together much like Henry’s big boy room did. I started with a solid plan (both design-wise and time management-wise) and executed the entire plan in a very linear fashion. From paint color and fabrics to art and storage, I had a very crystal clear plan of what I wanted to do, and the challenge was the perfect motivation to force me to execute it all. Participating in the challenge also encouraged me to make some decisions I would have potentially held back from (i.e., the wallpaper and the closet built-in), which in the end, turned out to be two of my favorite elements in the entire space.

We transformed this boring bedroom into a Super Hero Nursery for our Baby Boy in just 6 weeks as part of the One Room Challenge. Click through to see all the DIY nursery details!

However, there were some aspects I didn’t quite enjoy. For one, I try very hard (although it might not always appear that way) to vary my content from week to week. I realize some of you guys come here for decorating ideas or organizing ideas or military content, etc. Keeping the topics changing from week-to-week (hopefully!) keeps you guys from getting too bored or saturated with a specific topic. 6+ weeks of nursery content may have been boring if nursery decor isn’t something you’re “in to” right now. Also, posting in real time felt very unnatural for how I typically do things around here. I like to show you guys all the projects in a space across isolated posts and then do a final reveal post once everything is done. Even though the room is done and you all have seen it, there are some things I want to re-visit in more detail, and I hope it doesn’t feel too redundant for you. Lastly, even though I had a good plan in place (and I committed to myself that I wouldn’t do this), I too found myself doing some last-minute running all over town for the “perfect” finishing touches just to meet the reveal deadline. In all honestly, I am quite happy with every last basket, diaper pail, hamper, crate, and accessory, but I don’t think I really needed to stress myself out trying to find those things last minute just to meet a self-imposed deadline.

We transformed this boring bedroom into a Super Hero Nursery for our Baby Boy in just 6 weeks as part of the One Room Challenge. Click through to see all the DIY nursery details!

(Pssst – You can catch up on the One Room Challenge posts below:

WEEK 1: DESIGN PLANS | WEEK 2: PAINT AND BUILT-IN | WEEK 3: WALLPAPER| WEEK 4: FABRIC PROJECTS | WEEK 5: ORGANIZATION | Week 6: Final Reveal

In Summary

Whether you’re a blogger/designer or not, I do think “designing on a deadline” has its time and place. If your faced with the need or desire to pull a space together quickly, consider these pros and cons before you get started!

PROS 

  • A Deadline Gets the Room Done! As I said above, the best part of participating in this specific design challenge was that the nursery is 100% done. It is decorated, stocked, organized and literally ready to go. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t be saying that right now without the ORC deadline. If you are just so sick and tired of looking at a room in its current state, a deadline will indeed motivate you get it done!
  • Motivation to Follow Through on Already-Made Decisions. In the few rooms I’ve worked on that have come together quickly and easily, I started out with very good and solid design plans. There was not a single element that I was waffling on or worrying over. From the wallpaper to the shelves and everything in between, I had all the large nursery elements planned out before the clock even started running. A good design plan combined with a deadline is a sure fire way to get yourself to actually take the plunge and follow through on specific ideas and products. I had been talking about painting the ceiling for weeks. Without the deadline, who knows how long it would have taken us to get it done (which had to be finished before we could do anything else in the room). If you know what you want to do in a space and just can’t find the motivation to start, set a deadline!
  • Focus. While I prefer to work on projects across various spaces as inspiration strikes, that approach can admittedly lead to a serious lack of focus. I am very guilty of floating from room to room and project to project (or even having several projects going at once), which can make a house feel un-done and constantly messy. Focusing on the nursery and the nursery only allowed all of my creative energies to stay fixed in one spot (as well as the mess, the tools, etc.) There were indeed times when I didn’t really want to work on the nursery because I was suddenly feeling inspired to work on something else. The deadline forced me to keep my eye on the nursery and follow through until it was done.

CONS

  • A Deadline Can Lead to Hasty or Poor Decisions. I think this is the biggest con and carries more weight than the others. When you have a deadline, real or self-imposed, it can cause you to make decisions you wouldn’t normally make just for the sake of calling a room “done.” Whether it’s choosing a rug you don’t love or agreeing to pay a price for something that you know will eventually go on sale, deadlines can force your hand when it’s just not necessary. If you find a deadline will help you get a room moving, commit to yourself that you won’t buy or pay for something you don’t truly love or can realistically afford.
  • A Deadline Makes Things Stressful. There were definitely a few occasions when I didn’t have the time or energy to work on a certain aspect of the room; but because of the deadline, I had to keep rolling so that other projects wouldn’t get off track. We stayed home a few weekends in a row to accomplish projects I needed Greg’s help with, and I flat out wore myself out hanging that darn wallpaper by myself. Imposing a deadline can add another layer of stress on projects that may already be a bit stressful (ahem, the ceiling), and they can certainly steel some of the joy and fun of DIY (which are notorious for going wrong somewhere along the way anyway). If you have a lot of DIYs in the space you’re trying to complete, maybe a loose deadline is a better way to proceed in order to keep stress levels in check!
  • A Deadline Doesn’t Guarantee a Room You’ll Love. I can speak from a lot of experience on this one. Setting a deadline, in hopes that it forces you to design a room and finally make some decisions, even if they aren’t the right ones, can lead to disappointment and a lot of wasted time and money. If I was told I could only participate in the ORC if I decorated our family room, I wouldn’t have participated. I currently have NO idea what I want to do in there. No direction, no inspiration, no concrete vision. Sure, a deadline for that room would force me to get thinking about it and start researching ideas more seriously. But the stress of a deadline could also result in design paralysis by over-analysis. A deadline might also cause me to settle on a design prematurely; I typically don’t start on a room until I know for sure what direction I’m going in. I think creating a from room start-to-finish on a deadline is best accomplished when you already have a clear vision of what you want, you just need to motivation to follow through.

I can’t say that I’ll never work on a room from start-to-finish again. As I said, I think self-imposed design deadlines have their place. Over the past 2 years, I’ve gotten SO in the habit of working on the house as a whole that it was actually a nice change of pace just to work and focus on one space at a time. While I do prefer to make decisions a little more organically, there is something so wonderful about having a completed room in such a short time span. Of course I can say that because I love how the room turned out!

We transformed this boring bedroom into a Super Hero Nursery for our Baby Boy in just 6 weeks as part of the One Room Challenge. Click through to see all the DIY nursery details!

I would really love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you like to work on a single room all at once, or make adjustments to your home whenever inspiration strikes? Can you think of any other pros or cons to design deadlines that I didn’t cover here? As a reader, did you enjoy the week-to-week updates or would you prefer makeover posts to be a little more spread out?

Megan Signature

Why I Can’t Quit Meal Planning

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

For those of you that have been around here for a while (and especially since the “very beginning,”) you likely know that I am somewhat of a meal planning junkie. In fact, one of my very first posts to ever go viral was my Magnetic Menu Board; and despite very little work on my part, it is still one of my most popular and shared posts almost 6 years later! While I still love and believe in that monthly meal-planning system, somewhere along the way it stopped working for me. I’m a pretty big believer in adjusting our organization methods to meet our needs (or else we won’t stick to them!), so I simplified our system about 2 years ago and have pretty much stuck to it ever since. Fast forward to this year and, for some reason, I have been in a meal planning, shopping and prepping rut! Planning out our family meals, and even more so, shopping for them, has become one of my least favorite (and most procrastinated!) home responsibilities. Since that’s usually a big ol’ red flag that I need to change something, I set about to re-vamp our system yet again. Today, I thought I’d chat a bit about all the various things I’ve tried over the last year to get our meal planning system back on track and share why, despite all my failed attempts, I still can’t quit meal planning (even if I really want to!)!

The Magnetic Menu Board System

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

As I mentioned above, my first attempt to reign in our meal planning was a project I called the Magnetic Menu Board. Henry was a brand new baby, and I was not enjoying my weekly meal planning sessions at all, so I decided to adopt a one-month-at-a-time system. At the start of each month, I sat down for a few hours and hashed out all of our outside-the-home meal commitments, new recipes I wanted to try, and other events, and then filled in the rest of the calendar with a well-balanced variety of meals and sides. The monthly planning session did require quite a bit of time, but I really liked that I only had to sit down and plan once a month. And while I continued to shop for perishable items weekly, having the entire month planned out allowed me to take advantage of sales and bulk offers on certain shelf/freezer-safe items. I actually stuck to this monthly system for several years. There were certainly times that I moved meals around or strayed from the calendar entirely. But overall, the single month system worked really well…until Greg left on deployment…and then the whole system seemed too much for a single person.

Planning from a Recipe Log

When the monthly menu board became too much, I wanted an easier version of the same system. Besides planning out one month at a time, the other “trademark” of the above system was how I organized my recipes: by protein source. For some reason, this method of organizing and dispersing recipes across a week made the most sense to me (so much that I haven’t changed this particular part of my meal planning ever since!) I find these 6 categories are enough to keep things separate, distinct, and organized, but aren’t too many to keep track of or understand.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

Instead of relying on my magnets, I transferred all my recipes to a log sheet...still organized into these 6 groups…

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

I then used my Recipe Log to plan out my meals weekly in my planner…

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

When Greg came back from deployment, I stuck to this weekly planning from my Recipe Log but displayed meals on a dry-erase board in the kitchen so he could see too.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

I found the weekly meal plan was quicker and easier to manage (meaning I was more willing to actually do it) compared to the monthly version. However, planning one week at at time didn’t quite guarantee a strong recipe rotation, use of freezer stock, or bulk shopping the way the monthly system did. Still…it got the job done for about another 2ish years.

No System!

Then this past Spring, my willingness to meal plan came to a screeching halt. Not only was I “over” planning out our weekly meals (and shopping for them), but I was really, really tired of our usual recipes. I decided to halt all my planning and try the “just wing it” system. I eased off on following recipes (which were feeling really burdensome to pull together) and instead stuck to more of a protein + side + salad combination. Surprisingly (or perhaps, not surprisingly), this approach proved even harder and more frustrating for me. Without a list of recipes (or at the very least, loosely planned out meals), my shopping list became difficult to fill out. This caused me to spend more time and money at the grocery store just filling my cart with things I “might” use or need. More over, without a plan, pulling together evening meals became an even bigger chore. I would stand looking at the pantry and fridge and become increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t make basic meals because I was missing one thing or another. What I thought would liberate me from my meal planning boredom and frustration actually led to an even greater disdain for the entire task.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

Meal Planning with Relish!

When we moved into our house here in California, I knew I needed to get our meal planning back on track. The “no system” I was using before, during and right after our move was increasingly making me frustrated and caused me to dread grocery shopping and meal time even more. For some reason, my previous systems felt too cumbersome to return to so I began the hunt for a fresh approach. This research lead me to the digital meal planning service: Relish! This very reasonably priced service did everything I didn’t want to do: pour through/select recipes and generate a grocery list…and I was more than ready to give something new a try!

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

Once logged on, all I had to do was drag-and-drop the meals that appealed to me into The Weekly Menu and set the serving size. I loved that it showed me which meals were crockpot-,  freezer-, and kid-friendly and that I also had the ability to browse their full recipe library (rather than being restricted to certain meals for the week). Each meal also came with a pre-designated side dish, but it was super easy to go in and change out anything that didn’t appeal to us!

Relish Online Meal Planning Program

But my absolute favorite part? Once your meal plan was done, it automatically generated a printable grocery shopping list pre-populated with all of the items needed for that week’s recipes (in the correct quantities!).

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

In just a few minutes, I was able to pick all of our recipes for the week, and print out a grocery list as well as all the corresponding recipes. Not only did this cut my meal preparation time down dramatically, but it also was super efficient when it came time to prepare the meals. The recipes, when printed, included both the main dish and all the corresponding sides on a single sheet of paper. Each night, I just had to grab the next sheet and get to work.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

I honestly thought I had found my ultimate meal planning solution. I loved Relish’s online platform; the pre-populated grocery lists were pretty much the best thing ever; and the meals were super tasty and easy to make. It took away so much of the effort and brainpower behind meal planning and prep and really got me out of my meal planning funk. Unfortunately, it only took a few weeks for me to grow tired of this system as well. Why? Well, for one, I found that I was buying lots of random ingredients to make very specific recipes. This left me with higher-than-usual grocery bills and lots of leftover ingredients. Second, I again grew weary of making a recipe every single night and didn’t enjoy feeling like a “slave” to the system. Third, I was having a hard time working in my “usual” recipes, pantry staples, and family favorites on both the meal plan and the grocery list. I don’t like to duplicate my my efforts or use two systems to accomplish the same task, and it was taking me a lot of time and effort to adapt/merge the online system with my family-specific needs. Finally, as nice as it was to have a pre-populated grocery list, it didn’t match up with how I shop our store(s) and organize my own lists. I was constantly missing items as I was shopping because the list wasn’t organized the same way, making my trips longer and more tedious.

What I’m Doing Now

After my experience with Relish!, I was feeling a bit defeated. I was so hopeful I had found a perfect system (so much that I was planning a whole post to tell you all about it!), and was frustrated when it turned out to be too cumbersome for my needs. I waffled around a bit more with not planning at all, planning a month at a time, and even thought about digging my dry-erase board back out of the garage. While I brainstormed and worked through my options, I decided to print out a bunch of  my Weekly Planners and Grocery Lists as a “for now” solution. About 2 months later, I’m still using my printable worksheets and am LOVING the simplicity of it all.

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

I printed out a bunch of both my the weekly planner and grocery lists printables and have them clipped to the side of the fridge. I sit down every Monday morning with one of each and plan out that week’s activity and meals on the same sheet and then fill out our grocery list to match. I’ve eased off on forcing a consistent spread of protein sources and recipes and instead try to pick recipes that are easy to make, satisfying to the whole family, and work with our schedule (crockpot versus freezer versus fresh). It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s no fuss. And what’s most important: I’m sticking to it!

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

So you might be thinking to yourself, “Gosh Megan, if you’ve struggled so much, maybe meal planning isn’t your thing!” But it is. If there’s anything I’ve learned about myself in the last few year of my meal planning is that I need it. If I don’t use some sort of meal plan, grocery shopping and meal preparations becomes infinitely harder; our grocery bills go up; we constantly face an empty pantry and refrigerator; and we eat out more often. I don’t LOVE meal planning, but I’ve learned that, for our family at least, it’s a necessary evil!

While my simple two-page printable system (shown above) is working pretty well, my experiences with all of these different meal planning systems have taught me a lot about what works and doesn’t work when it comes to meal planning. As such, I have identified a variety of new systems that will truly make meal planning a more efficient (and maybe even pleasant!) experience. I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last few months brainstorming and creating a whole series of printables to take the hassle out of meal planning, grocery shopping and meal preparation! I am so excited about what I’m putting together and think you guys will love it too. I’m not quite ready to spill all the beans just yet, but here is a sneak peek!

I hate grocery shopping and preparing meals isn't my favorite. What makes it all more bearable? Meal Planning! Click through to see all the systems I have tried and what's working for me now!

These printables and SOOO much more will be ready in the New Year. To make sure you stay up to date on what and when everything is available (and to get more sneak peeks and freebies!), make sure you are subscribed to my mailing list. If you aren’t already, you can sign up below:

I’ve learned a lot over the years, but I’d love to hear from you! Is there anything specific you need from a meal planning system?  What do you currently use? What kind of system works best for you? What is something you really need from a meal planning system that you can’t find elsewhere? You guys always have the best ideas, so be sure to share in the comments!

This week is Thanksgiving in the United States (so Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!), but I will be back here on Thursday nonetheless with the post that was supposed to hit last week (when I took a very much needed break!). I’ll see you then!

Megan Signature

I did not receive compensation for this blog post; however Relish! did provide three free months of their meal planning service for me to try. Please remember that I only work with brands and products I fully support and that make sense for my home, my family, and this blog. All opinions are 100% my own!

Home Decor Sewing School | How to Sew Boxed Corners

If you tuned into Instagram this past weekend, you saw that I spent many hours seated at my sewing machine! I’ll show you what all I made on Thursday, but today I wanted to pop in with another installment of my Home Decor Sewing School series. This series is all about breaking down common techniques and projects that are used to make basic home decor items. I am not an expert sewer, but mastering these basic techniques has allowed me to create unique and perfectly-tailored items for our home, time and time again. We’ve covered how to make piping and pillows shams. Today I want to show you how to sew boxed corners, allowing you to transform a flat piece of fabric into a 3-dimensional one that can fit onto cushions, tables, and more!

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Some of you may be scratching your head thinking “Why is it so handy to be able to sew a box corner?” Well…mastering this one, very simple technique opens up a whole possibility of projects for your home. Even if you’re not following a specific pattern or project tutorial, understanding how to give a flat piece of fabric dimension via corner seams allows you to make really tailored fabric items such as slip covers, cushion covers, sheets, tailored table cloths, and more! Here is just a sample of projects I’ve done in our homes over the years that have all used the boxed corner technique.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Chair Slip Covers | Ottoman Slip Cover | Boxed Cushion Cover | Crib Sheets

Once you understand how to sew fabric together to make a simple corner seam, your eyes really will be opened to the various projects you can now do. I promise this one is a simple one…here is what you need to get started:

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Materials Needed to Sew a Boxed Corner

*affiliate links used

  1. Fabric
  2. Coordinating thread
  3. Rotary cutting set including a self-healing mat, long ruler, and rotary cutter
  4. Square cutting ruler (optional)
  5. Pins and sewing machine (not pictured)

Measuring and Cutting Your Fabric for a Boxed Seam

I’ve shared with you all before that I’m not really one for following patterns. I like to make things up as I go; I tend to look at my item and figure out how to get the look I want. That’s why understanding this technique is so handy! But since I don’t have a specific project I’m sharing this technique for, I’m going to speak in some generic abstracts. Let’s say you want to make a tailored table cloth, an ottoman slipcover or even a stool cover, you will need to measure your specific item that you are covering as described below to figure out how much fabric you need AND exactly what dimensions to cut the fabric down to:

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

A note here on letter C – the amount needed for hem and/or seam allowance. This measurement is somewhat up to you based on what you are doing and how much of a hem/seam allowance you like to work with. If you’re making a table cloth or slip cover, a 2-3″ hem is probably sufficient. If you’re going to be attaching another piece of fabric along the bottom (to make a full cushion cover, for example) then you may need only 1/2″ extra for seam allowance. Think about your project and how much excess fabric you will need here!

Once you figure out your dimensions for your specific project as described above, cut the fabric down using a rotary cutter and ruler…

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Next, you will need to determine how much fabric to cut away in order to make a perfectly-fitting corner seam. Use the graphic below to help you:

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

In my sample project, the item I am covering is 6″ high (B). I then decided to give myself 2 inches for hem (C). As such, I used my square ruler to cut out 8″x8″ squares from all four corners of my fabric. If you don’t have a square cutting ruler, you can use a regular ruler and a pen to mark your dimensions.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Next, cut out the square according to the dimensions you determined above!

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Sewing the Boxed Corner Seam – Method 1 (The Really Easy Way)

With your square of fabric cut away, it’s time to sew up your corners! Simply bring one of the cut out edges to the other (on the same square).

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

For this method, you’ll want to make sure you’re RIGHT sides are together and the top and sides line up perfectly. You may certainly pin this seam in place if you need to.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Using your sewing machine and coordinating thread, sew the two edges of the cut-out square together using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

If your fabric frays or you want to keep the edges from rolling, you can either use a wide zig-zag stitch or a serger to finish the raw edge. Repeat the process on all four corners of your project.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Once turned right-side-out and pressed, you’ll have lovely corner seams that allow your fabric to now fit perfectly over a table/cushion/whatever!

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Sewing the Boxed Corner – Method 2 (French Seams)

The method I described above is super simple, friends. I mean it. You can have all four corner seams done in about 10 minutes. This next method (French seams – ooo la la!) is almost as easy and almost as fast; it just has a few extra steps to help make your seams a little more durable and polished!

You will cut out your fabric and corners exactly as described above. This time, however, instead of bringing the RIGHT sides of fabric together, you will bring the WRONG sides of your fabric together. It’s still the two edges of the cut-out square, just brought together the other way.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

This time, sew the seam with a 1/4″ seam allowance…

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Next, use a ruler and rotary cutter to trim away 1/8″ of that seam allowance (essentially trimming it down by half).

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Now, take that same seam and turn your fabric inside-out so that your RIGHT sides are finally together. You’ll notice below that this essentially flips your first seam to the inside. Press this seam with a hot iron to make sure it’s nice and flat.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Go back and sew the seam again, this time with RIGHT sides together but again using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

When done, you will notice that the raw edges are caught in between the two seams, meaning you don’t need to serge or zig-zag to clean up any raw edges.

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Again, once turned right-side out, you’ll end up with a lovely boxed corner seam!

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Which method to use is mostly a matter of preference and the type of fabric you’re using. This red start fabric is a flannel which frays like crazy. And since it’s going to be washed a ton, I chose to use Method 2 which  enclosed the raw fabric edge into the seam. This way, with the loads and loads of washing it’s sure to get…I don’t need to worry about the fabric (and therefore the seam!) ultimately washing away! Sneak peek:

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

Once you master this very easy technique, I swear your eyes will be opened to potential projects all over your home! With some precise measuring and cutting, you can make tailored covers for just about anything. Sure there are other ways to create covers like the ones I’ve shown here, but this most-basic technique will get you off and running in no time!

Home Decor Sewing School

The Home Decor Sewing School Series is all about providing thorough, easy-to-follow tutorials for the skills and concepts used most in home decor projects! Catch up on other posts in this series below!

Home Decor Sewing School | How To Make Piping for Home Decor Projects - Learn how to give your home decor projects a finished and professional look with DIY piping!Customize your bed linens and save money by making your own pillow shams! This tutorial walks you through everything you need to know!Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!The Half Square Triangle is a quick simple quilting technique! This tutorial teaches you how to sew a HST which can be turned into fun and stylish quilts for anyone!

Back here on Thursday, I’ll show you more details on what I was making here as well as LOTS more fun fabric projects for baby. See you then!

Learn the simple sewing technique for giving a flat piece of fabric boxed corners to fit over tables, cushions and more!

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