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a bobbin tension trick you may not know

bobbin tension test

Did you know that your bobbin case has its own tensioner?  Many sewers don't.  If you're experiencing difficulty with tensioning your machine, it might be that your bobbin tension is too loose (or, less frequently, too tight).  To test your bobbin tension, remove the bobbin case and bobbin from your machine and hold the end of your bobbin thread.  Swiftly pull up on the thread.  The thread should unwind just slightly and the bobbin case should drop an inch or two.  If the thread unwinds without resistance and the case slips to the floor, your bobbin tension is too loose.  If the bobbin case doesn't budge, your bobbin tension is too tight.  To tighten your bobbin tension, turn the tiny screw on the bobbin case a smidgen clockwise.  To loosen bobbin tension, turn the screw counterclockwise.  A quarter turn or less is a good place to start.
bobbin tension adjustment

fixing bobbin tension

Welcome row by row shop hoppers!

We're excited for row by row!

A look at just a corner of our Row by Row custom printed background fabric. Over 200 people, places and things that make Oregon one of a kind.

Our row for 2016 Row by Row Experience
 the theme is home sweet home Pre-order
kits for November 1st shipping here.

        2016 Row by Row Plates available now!                                                                                             

Tutorial! Make your own Smart Phone Wallet!

Hello! Linda here, writing my first official post for cool cottons. After seeing some of the responses to our Instagram post earlier this week I've set to work creating this quick little tutorial to share. In all fairness I do have to say that my inspiration for the wallet I created is a combination of similar wallets found while browsing Pinterest, specifically these few: Mobile Case/Wallet, Smart Phone Wallet by kailochic on Etsy, and elements from this wonderful fabric wallet tutorial by Modest Maven. That said, not one of the tutorials I found had everything I was looking for, and the case that inspired me most didn't have a tutorial at all, so I played around drafting my own.

Folded Phone Wallet Tutorial

** Measurements given fit a smart phone that measures approximately 2.5” x 5”. If you need to adjust to fit your phone, alter the 7” cutting height to 1 1/2” MORE than you need for the height of your phone. The width of this wallet should accommodate a phone up to 3 1/2” wide (caveat – I haven't tried to fit a phone that wide into the wallet).


Outer shell + phone pocket: ¼ yd
Inside lining + card pockets: ¼ yd
Tab closure: 2 1/2” x approx. 4 1/2”
Mid-weight fusible interfacing: ¼ yd
1 sew-in snap
Thread to match

Keychain tab: 3 1/2” x 3 1/4”
1” Key ring OR 1” D-ring

From your outer fabric and lining fabric each cut a 7” x 8 3/4” rectangle. Cut 2 pieces of fusible interfacing 6 3/4” x 8 1/2” (or 1/4” less than your fabric pieces). Fuse to wrong side of both outer shell and lining.

From your lining fabric (or an alternate contrast fabric) cut a 7” x 14” rectangle for the cash and card pockets. Fold one end WST (wrong sides together) 3 3/4” to the back. Press the fold crisp.

Take the long end of the rectangle and fold it up so the wrong side of the fabric shows and the fold is about 1/4” up from the raw edge you pressed under. Next, fold the piece back on itself leaving 1/4” - 3/8” showing from the first pocket fold, so that the end of the rectangle's raw edges line up with one another. Press.

Measure 3” and 6” from one of the edges, draw a line down both pockets and stitch through all the layers.

Set these pockets right side up on the print side of the inner lining, matching up the raw edges on 3 sides. Pin or machine baste 1/4” on the top and bottom.

From your outer shell and phone pocket fabric (or,again, another accent fabric if you like!) cut two 4 1/4” x 7” rectangles for the phone pocket and a 5 1/2” x 7” piece for another card or note pocket. Cut a piece of fusible interfacing 4” x 6 3/4” and attach to the wrong side of the front phone pocket fabric.

Place the two sides of the phone pocket RST (right sides together) and stitch along just one of the 7” edges using a 3/8” seam allowance. Flip the pieces so the right side of the fabric is showing and press the seam. Top stitch 1/8” from finished seam. Place pocket on the wallet lining at the opposite side from the card pockets, again matching up the raw edges on 3 sides. Machine baste pocket to lining at top and bottom.

Take the 5 1/2” x 7” pocket piece and fold in half WST so that you have a 2 3/4” x 7” rectangle. Press fold and place on top of card pockets with raw edges matched up. Machine baste.

Making the tabs:

To make the closure tab, take your 2 1/2” x 4 1/2” piece of fabric and apply a piece of fusible interfacing to the wrong side, cut 1/4” smaller in both dimensions. Fold the rectangle in half RST lengthwise. Stitch along the long edge and only one short end using a 1/4” seam allowance and backstitching at beginning and end. Clip the 2 corners at the shorter end with the stitching.

Flip to right side of fabric, using a tube-turner (or I sometimes use chopsticks) to push the corners out. Press and topstitch along 3 sides. *From here you can adjust the length to your preference, keeping in mind that you will lose 3/8” - 1/2” in the seam allowance. In my original sample I chose to take up the extra length as a pen/stylus loop at the side. Those instructions will be included at the proper time as an optional detail. Place tab on top of phone pocket and lining, centered along the short side of the wallet lining with the raw edges of the tab along the edge of the lining. Pin or baste in place.

*Optional keychain loop:

With your 3 1/2” x 3 1/4” fabric piece, fold in half WST for a 1 3/4” x 3 1/4” rectangle. Press center fold, then open up again. Fold in each side bringing the raw edge to the center fold and press along the new folds.

With raw edges enclosed fold the piece once again along that first center fold and press. Topstitch just along the two long edges. If using a D-ring you will need to thread the tab through the ring before attaching to the rest of the wallet. If you are using a key ring you have the option of adding it after the wallet has been completed, but may certainly put it on the tab at this stage as well. Fold the loop in half bringing the two ends together. Place on top of the lining and card pockets so that the short ends are lined up with the top raw edge and the loop lies on top of the first 2 card pockets, but not the outer-most pocket. Pin or baste in place.

Attaching Outer shell and Lining:

Place the outer shell fabric (with interfacing attached) face down on top of the wallet lining and pockets. Pin and stitch around the perimeter using a 3/8” seam allowance and leaving an opening of approximately 2-3” along one edge in order to turn right-side-out. Backstitch at both ends.

Trim bulky seam allowances to 1/4”.

Clip all four corners and turn wallet, using a tool to help get crisp corners. Press seams. Hand stitch the opening using a blind stitch or whip stitch. Top stitch 1/8” around edge of entire wallet. If you have an edge-stitching foot for your machine, this is the time to use it.

*Optional pen/stylus loop:
If you left your closure tab on the long side and would like to make a little loop to hold a pen or tablet stylus now is the time! Simply fold the tab in toward the lining side of the wallet, leaving a 3/4” loop off to the side. Stitch through all tab layers right where the tail of the tab meets the edge of the wallet, backstitching on both sides.

Attach a snap to the end of the closure tab and the front of the outer shell, being careful not to stitch through extra layers and therefore stitching any of the pockets closed. Voila!


15 minute coasters

This easy coaster pattern is a great beginner project, a perfect way to use up your scrap, or an easy we're-leaving-in-20-minutes-for-a-dinner-party-and-I-want-to-bring-a-hostess-gift gift.  I was first introduced to this patter a few years ago when a friend of my housemate gifted a set of these coasters to our house.  We stared at them for a long while trying to figure out the secret to their construction.  No top stitching at all? How is that possible?  Here, we share the secret with you.

First, a shot of the finished product:

easy 15 minute coasters

The trick? The top of the coaster is just like a cardboard box top, with overlapping rectangles and a tiny hole in the middle.  Here's what you'll need:

Four fabrics for the coaster top
One fabric for the coaster back
A scrap of quilt batting, or heavy interfacing

pick fabric for your coasters

Cut your six pieces of fabric to 4 1/2" square.  (With a 1/4" seam allowance on all four sides of the coaster, your finished coaster will be 4" square.)

In a real hurry?  Stack your fabrics on top of each other and cut through all six layers at once.  You'll need a very sharp rotary blade, but four cuts and you're done!

Fold your four front fabrics in half and press them to set the crease.

Next we layer the four top pieces just like a cardboard box top.  The fold of each piece should point toward the center of the coaster.

laying out fabrics for your coasters

cardboard box top layout for coasters

Now, take your bottom fabric and place it wrong side up on your coaster top:

Then place your quilt batting or interfacing on top of that:

sandwich your quilt layers

Sew all the way around with a 1/4" seam allowance:

stitch 1/4 inch all the way around

Clip your corners:

clip your corners

And turn the whole thing inside out from the center:

turn it inside out

simple coasters in no time

Press and you're done:

15 minute coaster tutorial

Now, time for coffee!

easy coaster or pot holder

Row by Row now

you can purchase  Row by Row online. The KIT includes the pattern, custom printed text and graphics ( calendar segments, measurement bar & graph title) and fabric for the graph The kit does NOT include the Kona White or Kona Water solids.  There is also a PATTERN ONLY option if you are feeling confident in your fabric printing skills or want to customize your graph with embroidery or calligraphy.  Both options include shipping.  ( shipping charges will be adjusted at the time the order is filled )

If you are purchasing License Plates or other fabric at the same time shipping charges will be adjusted at the time the order is filled.   

Thank you to everyone who has participated in Row by Row. It has been a great experience for us.  The theme for 2016 is Home Sweet Home,  Can't wait to see what everyone does with it!

new fireplace quilt by Linda

The latest quilt hanging above our fireplace was not only pieced and quilted by Linda Nussbaum, but she wrote the pattern too!  "Lock n Bolt" is easy enough for a beginner, and fun for the more experienced quilter.  The color possibilities are endless and it truly looks different each time I've seen it made up.  Great job Linda!

new book !!!

I am so excited about the new book "Pieces of Portland" by our good neighbors Marie Deatherage and Joyce Brekke. The ladies take "an inside look at America's weirdest city" and decorate it in quilts. ( page 140, "facing the crowd" may be my favorite) If you like books, quilts, Portland or any combination of the three this is for you. The text by Marie is quirky/witty/smart ( just like Portland) and the photos by Joyce are inspired/gorgeous ( again, just like Portland). We've got copies for sale at the shop so check it out and show your local love. Congratulations ladies, well done!

We've got a winner!

Yea!!! cool cottons has a Row X Row winner! Lydia Dahlen brought in her quilt this morning. She not only used our row (Annual Precipitation, Portland Or.) but rows from Speckled Hen, Craft Warehouse, Mill End, Fabric Depot, Tea Time Calicos, Every Thread Counts and Quilting Delights. Lydia won the 25 fat quarter stack and a $20 gift certificate for including our row in her quilt. Congratulations, Great job!


Jody's first quilt, thanks for bringing it in !

poo poo polka dot shirt !!!!!!!

My favorite model came in today wearing his new poo poo polka dot shirt.  Why is it called poo poo polka dot?  Look closely :-)

Thanks Rachel Kerley for

In celebration of her 2nd place ribbon for "The Dishes Can Wait" in the applique category at QUILTCON Rachel made the quilt currently hanging over our fireplace.  "Cups and Shahlo Bowls" is fabulous, Thanks Rachel.  Follow Rachel @2ndavestudio on Instagram to see what else she is up to.

show & tell, bring it in, wear it in

Thanks Jackie for bringing in your latest quilt, nice job!

and thanks Kirsten for wearing in what is possibly my most favorite skirt of all time.  She sequined the cat eyes!!!

The next time you see these fabrics together...

they will be made into the Broken Herringbone quilt pattern by Violet Craft.  Have fun at the Portland Modern Quilt Guild retreat ladies!


BEFORE:  a fun drawstring bag came in to cool cottons today

AFTER:  A little fabric glue and voila.  #customizeyourbag

no animals were harmed in the making of this bag :-)

Feels like Spring

It looks like spring too, Rachel in her Charley Harper Dress.  Great job!

Alexander Henry hunky construction workers meet Briar Rose strawberries by Heather Ross

I love this!

Another great quilt by Anne Whiting, thanks Anne!

Just look what's hanging over our fireplace!
crosses quilt

see all the Oregon Row by Row shops, rows & license plates in one place!

We're ready for the 2015 Row by Row shop hop, are you?

The shop hop runs from June 21st through September 8th.  Each participating shop has designed a row around the theme of WATER and will provide you a FREE PATTERN to make their row when you show up in person at their shop.  Many shops will also have kits available to purchase that will make assembling their rows that much easier.  Patterns and kits are only available June 21-September 8th at the shop itself,  no mail, phone or internet orders are allowed.  There are over 75 shops in Oregon alone that are participating, and over 2500 nationwide and Canada! You can go to to check out the local Oregon shops or to map out your out of state route check 

Here is our row.

Also, check out our personal row by row page here

We look forward to seeing all the shop hoppers this summer.  Safe travels everyone!