Thursday, May 12, 2022

 Hungry Bears and Bear Hugs . . . . 

                                             . . . . . gifts for the kitchen!

With summer coming, life in the woodlands is filled with activity. The deer are eating the new sprouts, squirrels are zipping around the tree trunks, birds are chirping their lungs out, and the bears are coming out of their hibernation. It only seemed fitting to celebrate critters this spring with our new kitchen collection --- matching bear apron with bear oven mitts.

The Hungry Bear apron features a bear-faced yoke on Vanilla House's signature Four Corners apron style. The instructions show the interesting technique of attaching the yoke to the apron. The bottom half the bear face is appliqued on to the apron panel and the top half the face is a turned edge by the back-side fabric.

The Bear Hugs also feature the same bear face on a double-hand or single hand oven mitt. Again, interesting techniques are taught through the instructions to learn how to edge turn the top of the bear face yet raw edges on the lower part of the face that are finished with bias binding. 

Both projects make excellent kitchen gifts for the bear lover. We hope you  enjoy making these sweet projects with the step by step instructions, each step illustrated in complete detail.

See for pattern ordering details. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

 Sew Birds ..... our latest pattern ..... and it's so sweet.

After taking some time off from our move from Hillsboro to St. Helens, Oregon, we are finally getting back to putting out a new pattern. 

Sew Birds is inspired by our new Vanilla House studio located in a small woodland filled with daily deer visits and tons of birds. With all the inspiration surrounding us, making a bird from fabric seemed only natural. I first spent weeks on a life like cardinal for a Christmas decoration. Though the final model looked great, I wanted something more simple, easier to make, with a fresher look. When Sew Birds developed quickly, I knew it was right. So we hope you enjoy Sew Birds P243 yourself.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Update on P156 Pot Pinchers B and C Templates.

One thing I love about my business model is the capability of reprinting at a moment's notice -- what we call POD or print on demand. Truly lovely business model but it does have its downside. Though I gladly say I haven't had many days like today, we do have to admit, as a matter of integrity, we have erroneous pattern templates on the Pot Pinchers B and C template. It started last March 2020 when we moved our studio from Hillsboro, Oregon to our new home in the middle of a beautiful forest outside of Saint Helens, Oregon. I went about changing the address on hundreds of patterns. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I messed up the templates on Pot Pinchers, the Oven Mitt Front and peltex piece are 10% smaller than they should be. Won't go into the detail of how it happened - let's say it wasn't stupid, just dumb. 

So if your templates don't seem to be quite right according to the instructions, meaning they are not large enough to accomplish the convex nature the instructions are referring to, you are one of my 396 victims. [It will also have a 2009 copyright notice on the vertical right of the page]. You can do one of a few things, email me that you are inflicted with our error and we will send you the corrected page via email. Or enlarge page 6 by 10%. Or You can also eyeball the enlargement by increasing the width of the pieces by 5/8" and height by 1/2". Seems easy, it will be - the pattern piece is quite flexible on the size anyway, the only saving grace of it all. In fact, the erroneous piece actually still works, it just won't be convex as described.

And just for curious info, the day this happened was Friday the 13th of March. I wrote on my calendar that day, "The day everything really fell apart". At the time, I think I was talking about Covid shutting down our lives. Guess it meant more than that.

Sorry for the problem and please don't hesitate to email us at

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Emma, Lucie & the Quilted Animals

Emma, Lucie & the Quilted Animals

I just love this new book by the Mt. Tam Quilt Guild. Joy Troyer and her guild really put their heart and soul into this beautiful collection of illustrations using different quilt applique. The bear on the cover is actually an applique from our dish towel collection and a few more pics are inside on page 19. Such an honor to be included. The story is just charming. If interested in purchasing the book:

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

New Address!

We finally moved from our home office in Hillsboro, Oregon to our home office in Saint Helens, Oregon. We will miss our Hillsboro studio - it was huge and beautiful with convenient access to suppliers. But our Saint Helens home office offers some features we can't resist -- a beautiful setting on 25 acres of woodland with the deer coming and going. We have owned this acreage for over 5 years but the time has come to move in full time. Turns out, it is pretty easy to run a business here in our forest home because of Rose from USPS, Amazon, Fed Ex and UPS are wonderful in this more remote area. Therefore, our new address is:

Saint Helens, OR 
Same phone number 503-648-0798 (if you need to call)
Same email of (preferred way to contact us)

Look for some 'foresty' posts in the future. 

Do realize that we have thousands of patterns 'out there' now with the old, wrong address. Sorry for this inconvenience but an actual address is hardly used anymore anyway.

Thanks everyone for your patronage to our pattern business. We are up and running and will continue to provide dedicated service as always. 
Cheers, Barbara of Vanilla House

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Be Totally Centered!

Along with recently launching Six Corners Apron, we also designed and published Totally Centered Apron. Inspired by a desire to have a hidden pocket, we spent a bit of time designing a panel centered down the front of a typical Four Corners style apron with an area where a single pocket could be accessed by either hand. I did love figuring out how to create this one. Though you have to follow instructions carefully, the pattern turned out relatively simple. 

These first two versions shown here are Bonnie and Camille fabrics! Totally Center is fully lined with double-folded waist ties and neck strap -- totally quality made.

Notice the the pocket area can be accessed by either hand. 

Sew if you are wondering what the eleven Four Corners aprons are, here's the order:
Four Corners (the original)
Kid's Four Corners (for kids 18 months to 8 years)
Delicious Four Corners (uses jelly rolls)
His Apron (for guys)
There by Three (a blocked apron front)
Not Just for Christmas ( a Christmas version with sliding waist/neck ties)
Boho Four Corners (a bohemian version with a scooped neckline)
Cookies n' Cream (with scalloped edges)

Six Corners (a six corner version)
Santa Four Corners (a Santa version)
Totally Centered (a centered panel down the front with a hidden pocket).

Thanks everyone for following the Four Corners journey!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Re-inventing the Apron!

Vanilla House has re-invented the apron with our newest pattern launch of Six Corners Apron. With it's curious design, you make it with two right angled panels overlapping each other creating a split-angled bottom edge. The two panels mirror each other in every way except using coordinating fabrics. 

Not only is it trendy with it's split-angled bottom edge, it is very stylish and flattering with it's A-line shape.

So count the corners:

It is a great project for two fabulous pieces of fabric.

Here's the terminology of the apron:

Learn how to 'bird wing' corners, a technique that is very important on pointed corners like corners 1, 2, 5, and 6. 
Designer’s Tip: "Whenever you are turning a two-layer arrangement right side out, you need to clip the corners before turning to reduce bulky corners. You can clip straight across but I like another version called ‘bird winging’ the corners. Note the enlargement -- “Do you see the bird wing shape?” Be careful to NOT clip the seam."

Own Six Corners Apron pattern by sewing and learning and loving the art of apron making today!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Five Great Projects in Klassy Kitchen

Our Klassy Kitchen pattern offers five projects that are such great gift ideas. Techniques shown in the pattern are well illustrated and easy to make. The apron shown below would work well for a hostess gift. The pocket adds tons of accent. The whole apron maybe takes an hour to make.

Handmade place mats, especially for wedding gifts, is always well received. You could add some glassware, silverware, or even some dishes to go with the placemats.

One of Vanilla House's favorite gifts is a mixing bowl, oven mitt, and a gift bag containing Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix. Who wouldn't want that?!

Gift Bag with Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix inside. Printable bag topper included.

Last but not least, coordinating an organizational accessory like the Pocket Hangers is always a big hit!

Coordinate your Klassy Kitchen -- spectacular in every way!

Monday, December 10, 2018

New Santa pattern just in the nick of time!

Santa Four Corners #234

New Santa pattern just in the nick of time for your Christmas parties and gift-giving! This is yet another version of Vanilla House's signature Four Corners Apron. I love the U-shaped pocket. It really is our easiest and maybe our cutest pocket in our inventory. 
Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sample the perfect DIY holiday gift for neighbors!

Not just neighbors, but everyone loves treats for the holidays. But my goodness, they come all at once! Gift Mixes solves that issue. A treat that can be given during the holiday season-of-giving but cooked at the convenience of the recipient, maybe several weeks later when wishing for one more treat because all the rest are gone! What a great idea!

Just to tempt you with a sample of deliciousness, we have a freeby of two dry mix recipes here, expires Nov 19, 2018.

If you love the samples, the whole pattern 'Gift Mixes' instructs how to make the fabric bags with bag toppers and/or tags.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Cookies 'n Cream Apron is simply delicious!

Furthering our efforts to publish spin-offs of our famous apron, Four Corners, we have come up with another version of our signature 'square-on-point' apron series. Appropriately named 'Cookies 'n Cream', this version is simply delicious. Maybe the scalloped edges remind you of cookies and cakes covered with cream frosting. Or maybe the scalloped edges resemble lacy doilies under your favorite pastries! Whatever the connection, we are sure everything you make in this apron will taste delicious! 
Likes its original counterpart, the apron is lined with a coordinating print that matches the neckline flap, pocket flap, and neck and waistline straps. But different from Four Corners, the neck flap is is made semi-faux. The original Four Corner neckline flap folds over from the back. On Cookies 'n Cream, the flap is sewn on separately, and the neck straps are sewn into the seam. Made differently but looks the same. This apron is so easy to make and looks good on every figure. 

Cookies 'n Cream apron

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Are you Sloth Full in the Kitchen?

Sloths are the cutest critter Ever! And Vanilla House has published a new set of oven mitts with appliques reflecting this latest trend of slothfullness. The basic oven mitt itself is wonderful -- easy to assemble and works great  -- very comfortable. 

Important products used in the oven mitts: 

Soft Fuse Premium fusible web by Shades Textiles for the appliques. We chose this brand for several reasons. Foremost, the paper does not separate from the webbing prematurely. Nothing like having the paper fall off the webbing before you get it cut out. Another huge factor is the paper removes from the webbing easily after you get the applique cut out. How many hours have you spent trying to get the paper off your fused applique, often destroying your applique in the process? If you fuse as recommended, 3-4 seconds, the paper side comes off easily. We recommend the "scratch in the center of the applique with a pin and use the 'ripped spot' to grab the paper and pull" method. 

Insul~Bright thermal fleece by The Warm Company. We use this product because we like the metalized polyester film sandwiched between batting layers. The film not only helps prevent the heat transfer to your hand, but the metalized layer helps prevent moisture from penetrating the layers which can facilitate too much heat transfer also. So, good product! We have published more information on Insul~Bright here.

Sloth Full P232
The appliques are also easy to add (edge-stitched), the more intriguing part being the 'thumbside' of the mitt which shows the sloths paws and claws.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Friday, October 12, 2018

What makes a good, well written pattern?

A good pattern should be well written, fully illustrated  --- meaning illustrations for every step of the project --- and clever construction techniques that make sewing really fun. And sewing is more than just sewing these days. Vanilla House talked with a group of sewers recently and they all agreed they love to learn new techniques as they sew a project as well as ending up with a well-made item without having to spend a ton of time figuring out the instructions. That's why Vanilla House patterns are kind of on the long side --- not because they are 'wordy' but because they are filled with illustrations. We are hoping the understandable illustrations are a 'quick read'.
That being said, every year our patterns get better and better --- at least we think so. If you purchased one of our earlier patterns, the above definition may not apply as well as current releases. Still not many complaints over the years, so that is a blessing.  

Vanilla House does have two types of patterns these days, the paper versions and the online pdf downloads. The paper versions use black, white, grey, and textured illustrations where the online versions are in color. In our opinion, the color versions are a little easier to comprehend the concepts being illustrated.
Editors are also an important part of pattern writing. I remember my first editor, Debbie Soelberg. She was awesome and probably taught me more about technical writing then my college English professors. Her big deal with me was consistency within the pattern. For example, if you write a technique in one spot in the pattern, keep the same terminology throughout the rest of the pattern (ie. call it rst or RST or right sides together through out the pattern). The example seems obvious but some newbie pattern writers are all over the place and their patterns are a night mare. However it is handled, a good pattern has threads that weave the whole pattern together. It makes it easier to read and to understand.
I also had a editor who previously worked for McCalls Pattern Company as an editor. She was set in her McCall pattern method of writing and was not open-minded enough to see anything but their style of construction. That really left me out of being able to create new and interesting techniques. One thing I have learned, there is more, and in fact many ways to construct a project. McCalls constructs patterns so they are easy to write. I construct patterns so they are easy to sew. That does mean the techniques are sometimes harder to write, but it is worth it. The whole point of being an independent pattern designer is the large arena for creativity in your construction process. Once you figure out a creative technique, experienced pattern writers will figure out the best way to convey the process.
It is interesting to note that even with editors, mistakes still show up in the patterns. After all these years, I currently do not have editors but I edit the [darn] things about a hundred times before I publish. Still miss stuff but not as much as when I had editors, so there you are. Most honest pattern designers will have a correction site on the internet or some process to convey the slip-ups. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Inside Scoop on Insul Bright Thermal Batting

Oven mitts, hot pads, and casserole covers are popular projects using Insul-Bright Thermal Batting from The Warm Co. We started using Insul-Bright a few years ago and discovered the real scoop on the product. We do love it but there are some tips you should know.
The biggest tip is really ironic ---- don't iron or press it too much. We discovered this by pressing a layer of Insul-Bright onto cotton fabric during one of our sewing projects. Then we pressed them -- mostly out of habit to simply press everything. With a really hot iron, the Insul-Bright seems to shrink up a bit causing the cotton fabric to distort or ripple.
Insul-Bright reflects heat back from a its layer of metalized polyester film sandwiched between layers of polyester fibers. It's meant for holding onto hot things from the oven for rather brief periods of time, not the firm, intense heat of an iron. So if you need to iron/press any part of a project containing Insul-Bright, go lightly and it will solve the problem. 

These oven mitt panels have fusible web on the back side. Fuse them to the Insul-Bright lightly -- 3 to 4 seconds per spot.

The other curious thing about Insul-Bright is one layer is not enough to protect you from the heat source. Even they say so. You can use one layer of Insul-Bright on the 'back of hand' and 'thumb side' of an oven mitt, but in the 'mouth' part (the part of an oven mitt that comes into contact with a heat source and protects you from it), you should always use two layers. The Warm Co. recommends using one layer of Insul-Bright and one layer of cotton batting like Warm 'n Natural Cotton Batting. It is fine to do so, but when writing my patterns, it is too much of a hassle to write in this extra feature. So in the case of an oven mitt, I just have you cut two layers of Insul-Bright and it works fine. 
You might ask 'why not use two layers on all panels?' --- well, it simply gets too think to sew all the layers together.

Some other helpful suggestions. 1-Insul-Bright does not have a right or wrong side. 2-You can pre-wash it, but I never do and it seems fine. It does wash well inside your oven mitt if you choose to wash them. 3-You can not use Insul-Bright for microwave projects and is too noisy for clothing. 4- But the noisy part of Insul-Bright can make interesting stuffed toys or soft books for babies. 5- Use zig zag stitching for sewing layers together -- it smashes down the edges so the seams allowances are easier to work with, especially if you are sewing bias binding around the edges. 6-Set your cut oven mitt panels on the sheet of Insul-Bright and use the panels as templates to cut out your Insul-Bright.

Use the oven mitt panels as templates instead of the paper templates -- a much simpler and neater method.