I’m so proud of all my ladies, not just those who tackle the class project, but also those who work continuously on their generous gift making, charitable fund raisers, sharing inspiring new projects and continuing to fuel and feed their creativity.
And I get to call this my day job!! #lovemyjob
We are taking a one week break, and when we return it will be the last block of classes of 2018!
Tune in again soon to find out what our new class project will be.
Yesterday was my Chenille Workshop, and I’ve been beavering away this past week getting samples ready.
My ladies learned how to make a fluffy, tactile texture in their fabrics, and turn it into a snuggly cushion or a soft and useful bathmat.
We learned about how cutting across the bias can create a very different effect from cutting in line with the warp and weft (straight grain).
And how some fabrics will fray better than others, and where some will reveal little surprises after washing and drying (a frayed selvage will give a clue to secondary coloured threads).
The best way to chenille fabric is to cut across the bias, but that in no way limits the different effects you can achieve.
Check out some of these examples:
Applique Bias Strips:
You don’t need any special equipment for this technique. The clever peeps at Olfa have made the Chenille cutter, but you can get the same results from sharp scissors (recommended for smaller projects).
And if you don’t have a Chenille brush to help with the fluffing-up, just use a regular hairbrush (the washing and tumble drying are usually sufficient, but brushing the chenille can help with those fabrics that are a little more fray resistant!).
So huge well done to my ladies for a great day’s work sewing and chenilling (& chatting too!).
And if you haven’t tried chenilling yet, why not give it a whirl! You’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Waaaaaaaay back, in February, I facilitated a very good friend’s special birthday request!
16 friends squished into my classroom, each of them charged with making a patchwork block about their dear friend.
Shirley has been a nurse, midwife, missionary and lecturer. She is one of the most generous, caring and just people I know and I feel truly privileged and blessed to call her ‘friend’ these past 21 years.
It took a wee while for a few postal blocks to come in, and then I set to work, finishing up the sketching details and chosen texts, as well as assembling and quilting the quilt.
And then the final handover happened last week (took a while to get us both in the same country at the same time!).
I’ve made a little mosaic of the individual blocks so you can see more of the details (I promise they aren’t as curvy as they seem here – I took pictures of them while the quilt was on the line! It was windy!)
There is so much thought, love and creativity in all of these blocks, a moving tribute to our funny, coffee loving, brilliant friend!
Even though I had already gifted Shirley a quilt for her birthday back in February (read more about this quilt and the sew-in here), I wanted to contribute a block to her Friendship Quilt.
And here it is….
That’s Shirley in the middle (portraits were never my strong suit!) between me on the left (I told you portraits weren’t my strong suit!) and Rosie (amazingly this actually looks like Rosie!). We first met 21 years ago at Bible College, and are the self named ‘Breakfast Club’ (we still meet once a month for breakfast, coffee and catch-up!).
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this very special quilt and its very special recipient!
My 5 minute demo in class this month was how to make these super easy infinity scarfs.
You can use anything between 1 and 4 pieces of fabric for your scarf.
The sumptuous softness of Art Gallery fabrics or Liberty Lawns work particularly well, but you can also use quilting cotton, or for a more cosy scarf, try brushed cotton or snuggly fleece.
Would you like to know how to make them? My tutorial shows you how to make a scarf from 4 fabrics.
You will need:
Scarf made from 1 fabric: 1 x (20″ x 60″) or
Scarf made from 2 fabrics: 2 x (10.5″ x 60″) or
Scarf made from 3 fabrics: 2 x (10.5″ x 30″) & 1 x (10.5″ x 60″) or
Scarf made from 4 fabrics: 4 x (10.5″ x 30″)
3 metres mini pom pom trim (optional)
Adjustable zipper foot
Use 1/4″ seam allowance
1 Sew 2 panels right sides together along the short edges. Press the seam open. Repeat for the other 2 panels.
2 On the right side of one of the pairs, pin and machine tack 2 x 60″ lengths of mini pom pom trim down both long sides. The pom poms should be facing away from the outer edges. I used my zipper foot for this part so I could sew past the pom poms.
3 Place both paired panels right sides together and sew down both long sides. Again, I used my zipper foot here.
4 Turn the scarf right side out.
5 Iron under the raw edges of one short end by 1/4″.
6 Take the other short end and twist the scarf once before tucking it into the ironed under short end.
7 Even out the short ends, pin and sew them together, 1/8″ from the folded edge. You are only sewing through the 2 short ends here.
And there you have it! A beautifully soft infinity scarf.
You can of course lengthen and widen the measurements here to suit your needs or style!
Have fun making these versatile and practical scarves. But be warned!
I promised to check in again and tell you about my makes at Patchwork in the Peaks (though they pale into insignificance compared to the fabulous makes of my fellow sewers).
Not fully understanding the brief of the weekend, I arrived with no personal projects to work on! Doh!
However, Elita has a very healthy ‘scraps stack’ which she generously makes available to all at Peaks.
So with that in mind, I rustled up a sizeable ‘Quilt As You Go’ pouch.
I always find that other people’s scraps are much more interesting than my own, so it was fun rustling through the scrap boxes for this project.
One of the ‘games’ we played at the weekend was a ‘Roll the Dice Fat Quarter swap’.
It’s much too long winded for me to try and explain how it works, but the essence of the game is that you bring 3 fat quarters to the table and after much hilarity, competitive threats (of the lighthearted kind of course!!) and fast hand action, you end up with 3 different fat quarters!
One such fat quarter is the glorious yellow that I used for the lining of my pouch!
Aaaahhhhh! Sunshine in a pouch!
Following my Denim Applique Bag workshop, there was a nice little pile of offcuts and discarded denim bits.
So in keeping with the denim/upcycling theme, I made another zippy pouch (a girl can never have too many pouches, right?!).
A little ‘Aurifil’ decorative stitching and feature tabs, loops and labels add the perfect finishing touches.
Another of my ‘fat quarter swaps’ made it as the perfect pouch lining!
On Saturday evening we shared our ‘Secret Sister’ gifts (surprise, anonymous gifts left for each person throughout the weekend) and then Gina presented the ‘Mystery Make’.
This is a fun, quick make in keeping with the theme of the weekend. Several little jeans legs were made available with a finished sample of the cutest wee fabric bucket! So we set to it and in no time at all, a family of re-purposed fabric buckets appeared! (see pics in previous post)
Despite the flowers being upside down (!!) I’m going to use mine as a purposeful little thread catcher.
And last but not least, another rummage in the scraps box and my heart started to flutter as I discovered some adorable vintage vibe browns!
Now I appreciate brown is not a universally loved fabric colour, and there are some browns I just can’t do.
But on my bucket list of makes is a vintage brown quilt (I have a secret hoard of brown vintage fabrics in my loft!). So I grasped the nettle and started making log cabin blocks, with no other plan in mind than to enjoy the browns and worry about a design much later!
So considering I arrived at Peaks with no fabric or sewing equipment, I did pretty well don’t you think?
Just checking in to tell you about some exciting new workshops coming up this term.
Saturday 8th September: Rope Bowls II
(fully booked – waiting list available)
My first Rope Bowls workshop booked up in double quick time, so I set a 2nd date! (you can read all about the first workshop here.)
15th September: Free Motion Quilting/Sketching
(fully booked – waiting list available)
Yesterday was the first of 2 FMQ workshops.
My ladies worked hard at 6 different FMQ designs, fillers, small and large samples, and tried their hand at a little sketching too! (I bet they all slept well last night!).
This is my most requested workshop, and as it booked up in 2 days(!!) it was only fair I put on a 2nd date!
Don’t worry if you haven’t managed to get onto one of these workshops. I’ll be running this one again next year.
13th October: Chenille (Bath Mat or Cushion)
In quilting, the term ‘Chenille’ refers to a texture achieved through sewing and cutting through several layers of fabric. When washed and dried, the raw edges of the cuts ‘fluff up’ creating a wonderfully tactile texture. This new ‘fabric’ can then be turned into a wide range of items.
In this workshop you can choose to make a fluffy bath mat, or a snuggly cushion.
17th November: Scandi Christmas Stocking
Getting ready for Christmas and Christmas gift-making is always popular among quilters.
My Scandi Christmas Stocking incorporates a little fun applique and it is fully lined, so it will stand the test of time year after year!
I’m now stocking the latest collection of Makower Red Scandi Christmas prints in my classroom, as well as my usual stocks of Essex Yarn Dyed Linen, and I’m hoping to have kits available for the workshop.
8th December: Gingerbread Men Garland
How cute would these decorated felt Gingerbread Men look adorning your Christmas themed fireplace!
This workshop will combined some relaxing hand sewing and embellishing with a little machine work.
A great gift for gingerbread men lovers everywhere!
So there you have it! A round-up of fun ways to spend a Saturday!
If you see anything here you fancy, just drop me an email at email@example.com
It’s about time I posted another tutorial here, don’t you think?
Before all the sniffles and colds get going, how about pretty, quilted tissue box covers. I’d much rather see pretty fabric sitting in my room, than a functional cardboard box!
And this tutorial will explain how to cover a box of any size, so let’s get started!
You Will Need:
Heavy Sew-In Vilene
Non-permanent fabric marker
Cardboard or template plastic
Measure your box:
Take measurements A (short side), B (long side) and C (top). Then add 3/4″ (0.75″) to each measurement (1/2″ for seam allowances, 1/4″ for ease) to get the cutting out sizes.
You can see my measurements in the example below:
So now that you have the cutting out measurements you can either ….
apply all measurements to your exterior fabrics, lining fabric, wadding and heavy sew-in vilene
instead of cutting out the sides, cut and baste an 11″ x 12″ piece of exterior fabric, wadding and sew-in vilene. Once quilted, this is big enough to cut out all 4 sides.
You will also need this template for the openings. I use the larger shape for rectangular boxes and the smaller shape for cube boxes. Cut out the openings and transfer them to card or template plastic.
Use 1/4″ seams
1 If you haven’t already done so, spray baste the exterior fabrics, wadding and vilene together.
2 Quilt as desired (I marked and quilted a 1.5″ diagonal grid, see photo above).
3 Pin an exterior short side (A) right sides together with the exterior top (C). With a pen, mark 1/4″ in from each corner on the short side (wrong side).
4 Sew from marker to marker, starting and finishing with a reverse stitch. Repeat for the other short side.
5 Press the short ends out before attaching the long sides in the same way (remember to mark your 1/4″ points).
6 Repeat steps 3-5 for the lining pieces.
7 Find the middle of the lining top piece (I simply folded it in half lengthways and widthways and finger pressed).
8 Centre your chosen template opening onto the wrong side of the lining top piece and draw around it.
9 Pin the exterior and lining pieces right sides together. Sew along the drawn line, starting and finishing with a reverse stitch.
10 Carefully cut out the opening, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance. Snip at 1cm intervals all the way around the opening, taking care not to cut into the stitches.
11 Push the lining through the opening and all the way round to the back of the exterior. Iron around the opening to neaten.
12 Top stitch around the opening, 1/8″ from the edge.
13 Pin the exterior sides right sides together. Sew adjacent exterior sides together, sewing from the top down to the 1/4″ marker (fold the top piece out of the way so you can get right down to the 1/4″ marker). Start and finish with a reverse stitch.
14 Repeat step 13 for the lining pieces.
15 Turn the exterior right side out, by folding it out over the lining. On the inside you should be able to see the right side of the lining.
16 Push the lining well into the corners of the exterior cover. Pop in the tissue box and trim off any excess cover and lining level with the edge of the box.
17 Machine tack (large stitch) around the raw edges 1/8″ from the edge.
18 Make enough double fold quilt binding to get around the bottom edges with a couple of inches overlap. Attach, join and finish the binding as you would for a quilt.
Pop in the tissue box and adorn your bedside table!
Or how about a scrappy tissue box cover ….
…. or have some free motion sketching fun!
Whatever shape or design you choose for your cover, have lots of fun!
A good friend of mine recently celebrated a milestone birthday.
Now this friend is uber creative and talented, especially when it comes to ceramics.
Rachel has a workshop in Conway Mill, just 2 floors above me, and makes the most stunning ceramic house pictures and brooches #weecolouredhouses
I’m lucky to be the proud owner of 2 such creations!
So from one maker to another, I knew my gift had to be handmade!
My ‘Wee Coloured Houses’ pouch is inspired by Rachel’s adorable little houses. They have been free motion sketched onto Essex Yarn Dyed Linen (Flax). Those tiny windows were a challenge!!
I know Rachel loves colour, so I went with a patchworked back and a bright, funky lining.
So here’s to many more creative years Rachel!
And if you would like to purchase one of Rachel’s pictures or commission her for a custom order, you can contact her here.
Also, keep an eye out for her at Frock Around the Clock Fares and the Fine & Dandy Markets, as well as seeing her stock in The Designerie (Bushmills), Belfast City Airport, The Crafty Barn (Carlingford) and Klover (Hillsborough) to name a few!
It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost through, and attention is quickly turning to the new term of classes starting in September.
This term our (optional) class project will be Twin Needling with Fusible Bias (incorporating Stained Glass Windows).
As you can see above, there are a range of makes to choose from. Let’s look at them:
Mosaic Cushion (Beginner Friendly):
This 18″ cushion is a great starter project if you are new to fusible bias and twin needling.
Simple piecing creates the mosaic background, with the twin needled bias creating a dramatic (and quilted) finish!
I’ve made a feature of the zipper closure in the back of the cushion, but you could easily have an envelope or button closure here.
The digital pattern is available here (hard copies are available to purchase in class).
Mackintosh Flower Cushion (Intermediate):
This is another 18″ cushion, this time inspired by Charles Renee Mackintosh’s iconic design.
Shapes are bondawebbed onto background fabric, and the fusible bias then curved and twin needled down.
Again I’ve made a feature of the cushion back.
The digital Mackintosh Flower Cushion Pattern is available here (hard copies and full size templates are available to purchase in classs).
Applique Leaf Denim Bag (Advanced):
This project not only incorporates twin-needling (stems) and satin stitch applique (leaves), but also re-purposing textiles, zippered pocket and handbag construction.
The digital Applique Leaf Denim Bag Pattern is available here (hard copies and full size templates are available to purchase in class).
Mackintosh Rose Wallhanging (Advanced):
If you love wallhangings and aren’t afraid of something a little more challenging, you could try your hand at this Mackintosh inspired ‘Stained Glass Window’.
I’m in the progress of making up this wallhanging in a different colourway, and hope to show you the finished wallhanging soon! The finished size will be approx. 14″ x 21″ and full size templates will be available to purchase in class.
Each pattern lists the materials you will need.
However, I will have the following available to purchase in class:
black 6mm fusible bias
4mm twin needles
pattern transfer pens
hinged faux leather handbag handles
full size templates
So I hope you are inspired to perhaps try something different this term. You will have 7 weeks to make one of these projects, or a project of your own choosing!
And there are still a few spaces left across all the classes (more info here), so why not join us for some creative fun!
We’ve had wonderful weather this summer, so I shouldn’t be sad to see the rain! After all, the gardens are crying out for it!
As well as working on some non-work related sewing commitments, I’ve been beavering away on some new patterns for upcoming classes and workshops (more on this very soon!).
But I’ve also managed to snatch a few ‘dressmaking’ moments here and there!
I once remember my dearly passed friend, Heather, telling me about when she used to make her own trousers. After her first successful pair, she made lots more from the same pattern, but just in different colours!
So as a novice dressmaker, I am unashamedly going to follow my friend’s canny philosophy!
Last summer I made this tunic from a charity shop find of Liberty cotton. The pattern is beginner friendly (New Look pattern 6068) and I love the shape and fit of it.
So I cut out 2 more, in vintage fabrics that I’ve collected over the years!
No. 1 The ‘A Little Touch of Granny’ Tunic:
I can’t remember who or where this exotic themed fabric came from, but I didn’t have enough width in the main fabric for a complete front. So I improvised and added in a coordinating navy panel.
Also I wanted a slightly longer length than the original pattern, so I added a mock under-skirt in a contrasting fabric (I call this my granny fabric!).
I’m sure you will think I’m bonkers (!!) but I love my cobbled together tunic!
I have long been trying to set my inner granny/hippy free, and I think I’ve taken another step closer to embracing a very individual and creative style!
And for tunic no.2?
Tune in next time for another ‘eyebrow raising’ post!
I’m back from a little holiday over on English soil, enjoying the amazing Cumbrian countryside with my #sewingbesties …..
….. and visiting family and friends in my old Dorset stomping ground.
The weather was hot, hot, hot! What a cracking summer break.
And I’ll be jet-setting off again in September, as the guest tutor of Patchwork in the Peaks in Morzine, France.
Patchwork in the Peaks is an Alpine Quilt Retreat, hosted twice a year by Busy Needle Quilting.
The retreat is held over 4 days, in a 4 storey chalet with the most spectacular views!
You get to take part in workshops, tutorials and have some free time to relax, explore Morzine, or fit in more sewing! There’s even an ‘in chalet’ quilting shop and you can avail of the Juki long arm quilting machine (tuition provided).
Doesn’t that sound wonderful! You can read lots more about this quilters heaven here and here.
I’ll be teaching my Applique Denim Bag, showcasing techniques such as twin needling fusible bias, satin stitch applique, re-purposing textiles and a zippered pocket (to name a few).
So if you fancy a creative and relaxing retreat surrounded by inspiring scenery, why not come to Patchwork in the Peaks (only a few places remaining)!
This is my Autumn Rail Fence Quilt (as featured in August ’17 issue of Pretty Patches magazine).
If, like me, you have a healthy supply of scraps, then this is a great scrap buster project for you!
In August I am hosting a Scrap Buster Saturday, and this is one of the many quick and easy ideas folks can use to dig in to those overflowing scrap boxes!
Here’s how to make the Scrappy Rail Fence Block (12.5″ unfinished):
1 You will need a variety of scrappy strips, at least 13″ long and of varying widths (don’t go wider than 3″). Press them and make sure they have straight parallel sides. Don’t worry about trimming the lengths, you get a more accurate block if you leave the trimming to the end.
2 I went for a ‘late summer’ colour theme of teals, oranges, pinks and golds. But you could easily use whatever colours you have for a more ‘random’ rail fence.
3 You will notice I have included a brown striped fabric at the edge of each block. These strips are cut 2″ wide and give a little uniformity to the scrappiness of the blocks. If you are going for random and bright colours, try a narrow black and white stripe here.
4 If you are working to a colour theme, try to get an even number of colours per block. The order doesn’t matter, just sew enough together using a 1/4″ seam, not forgetting the stripey fabric on the end, until you can get at least 12.5″ wide. Set the seams (pressing the seam as you have sewn it) before pressing the seams to the darkest fabric.
5 Trim the block to 12.5″ square. If there is excess on the width make sure you don’t take any off the stripey/end fabric. You want these end strips to be of uniform width. I used my 12.5″ square ruler for easy trimming, but you can trim these blocks to any size, just make sure they are square!
6 Make lots more blocks until you have enough for your quilt (or until you have used up all your scraps!).
These beautiful ‘Butterfly Garden’ quilts are stunning on every level (my poor photos not doing them justice at all!).
I love how different fabrics or placement of colour value can completely change the look of the same quilt. In this pattern, drunkard’s path units are combined with squares to make up these curvy blocks.
Aren’t they wonderful! A huge well done to my ladies for ‘going large’ with their curvy project (especially as temperatures soared inside and out!).
If you like what you see here and want to have a go at your own ‘layer cake friendly’ Butterfly Garden quilt, you can get the pattern here.
I won’t have any classes in July, but you can find out all about my summer programme of classes and workshops here.
A few months ago I had the privilege of meeting an Instagram friend, Kirsty from Song of a Nest.
We first made contact via Instagram, but it turned out we only live up the road from each other!!
Kirsty is multi-talented (just check out her beautiful website), but more than that, she is a passionate and compassionate individual. Kirsty’s heart for school girls in India is infectious, and this is why Shared Threads was created.
“I have started a project called ‘Shared threads’ which makes sanitary kits for girls in India so that they can go to school.
The heart behind the project is to remove the limitations that menstruation puts on women and girls, playing a part in enabling them to live their lives to it’s full potential
So many women and girls around the world have to resort to using leaves or rags or old newspapers to manage their period due to lack of sanitary products. Our pack provides them with a free, washable, sustainable solution to manage their period with dignity, whilst also being kinder to the environment.
Girls all over the world drop out of school due to lack of feminine hygiene products. Our pack enables them to continue with their education all year round.
Our packs and pads are made with recycled fabric.”
(You can read more here about the specific project in India we will be supporting.)
Each girl will receive a drawstring bag (tune in tomorrow for the tutorial) which will contain 2 pad holders and 6 pads.
Everything is made from donated and recycled textiles, except for the PUL (Polyurethane Laminate), a waterproof, breathable and washable liner in the pads.
And here’s how you can get involved:
Come: join in with our get-togethers – even if you can’t sew, there are lots of other jobs we need done (e.g. cutting out, threading the drawstrings, making up the packs etc.). We hope to next meet in July.
Donate: we need towels and brushed cotton/flannel for the pads and cotton fabrics for the holders and bags. We also need shoe-laces and ribbons for the drawstring bags.
Make: tomorrow I will post the tutorial for the drawstring bags, and soon Kirsty will be posting the instructions for the pad holders. Even if you can’t get along to the meet-ups, we would love it if you could make the items at home or why not arrange your own Shared Threads sew-in with friends?
So here’s what to do next:
Hop on over to the Shared Threads page and sign up for the regular updates and info from Kirsty. This will keep you up-to-date with meet-ups, fund-raisers and progress reports.
During the 5 Wednesday evenings in August I will be running my ‘Machine Sewing for Beginners’ Course.
I have run this course many times in the past, and it has always proven popular. The course is designed for folks who want to learn how to use a sewing machine, or refresh their machine sewing skills from long ago!
Here’s a run down of the topics we cover:
threading the machine
filling a bobbin
understanding the various buttons, dials & stitches
practising the different stitches
understanding tension & troubleshooting
how to change needles and feet
understanding uses of different feet
sewing control skills
understanding fabric (warp, weft, bias)
measuring & cutting fabric
seams (1/4”; 3/8”; 5/8”, overlocking; french)
Project: Single skein cushion cover with a zippered back
Cost: £45 (includes a non-refundable deposit of £20)
Course in Conway Mill (2nd Floor), Conway Street, Belfast, 6.30pm-8.30pm
Disabled Parking and Access available
Places are limited so book early
Limited number of machines available to hire (pre-booking required)
Full list of materials/requirements emailed in July
So if you fancy learning a new skill, or brushing up on an old one, just drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Classes are fun and relaxed!
Our 5 minute demo in class this month was all about the different ways to bind or finish a quilt.
I had lots of samples to show the variety of techniques and finishes, but it was by no means an exhaustive list! Creativity abounds when it comes to ways to finish a quilt!
Here is a run down of the examples we looked at:
1 Double Fold (French) Binding:
Using 2.5″ wide strips, this is one of the most common binding types. Usually stitched to the front of a quilt (using 3/8″ seam allowance) with mitred corners. Then stitched down at the back, either by hand (using the Invisible Applique Stitch) or by machine*.
A tutorial on making and attaching Double Fold Binding available here.
*To machine stitch down the binding, ‘stitch in the ditch’ from the front side. A tutorial on stitching in the the ditch is available here.
2 Square Set Binding:
With square set binding, each edge of the quilt is bound separately, with the corners being ‘wrapped around’ and overlapped by the binding of the adjacent edge. This results in much thicker corners, with a less professional finish than a double fold mitred corner. For this reason, square set binding isn’t often used.
3 Single Fold Binding:
This technique is similar to Double Fold binding, but this time using a 1.75″ wide strip and left unironed. The binding is attached in exactly the same way as Double Fold Binding.
The main difference in the 2 techniques happens at the back! When the strip is folded over to the backside, first it is folded down to the edge of the quilt, then folded over again.
The binding is then either hand or machine stitched down to finish. You can get an excellent Single Fold Binding tutorial here.
4 Flanged Binding:
A ‘flange’ is an inset piece of fabric (or lace, ric rac etc.) which enhances the main binding.
To achieve a 1/4″ flange (as shown above), cut the main binding strips 1.5″ and the flange strips 2″. Join them right sides together along the long edge using 1/4″ seam allowance. Then bring both long edges wrong sides together and press. This allows the excess flange fabric to show at the top edge.
The binding is then attached using the double fold binding technique, but this time sewn first to the back of the quilt. Bring the binding round to the front, and stitch in the ditch between the main binding and the flange. You can get a step by step tutorial here for a narrower flange.
5 Backing to Front:
If you don’t have suitable fabric to use as the binding, why not bring the backing fabric around the edges to the front!
The key to this technique is in the careful trimming of the wadding (level with the quilt top) and the backing fabric (left 1″ wider).
The backing is then folded in to the edge of the quilt and then over once more. You can then top stitch the binding down or use a decorative stitch.
A great tutorial on this technique is available here.
6 Quilt Front to the Back:
This is the reverse of no.5! Trim the backing and wadding level, leaving the quilt front 1″ wider. Fold round to the back in the same way and stitch it down.
7 Rounded Corners:
Sometimes a quilt or wallhanging needs the softer look of rounded corners. Make and trim your quilt in the usual way, then place a bowl or dinner plate at the corners and cut away the excess.
For wide corners like these, I still apply the usual double fold binding from straight cut strips (no bias cuts). For a more curvier edge, you may need to use bias binding.
8 Rattail Binding:
Rattail, or Satin Cord Binding, is more commonly used to finish the edges of art quilts. The quilt is trimmed and the edges top stitched or zigzagged, before the satin ‘rattail’ cord is zigzagged to the edges. You can see a great tutorial on this technique here.
9 Prairie Points (& other inserts!):
If you’re not one for a traditional binding finish, how about inserts! These can be prairie points, scallops, half hexies, ric rac or lace (to name a few!).
I’m not a fan of ‘bagging’ a quilt, so try this instead. Plan ahead – don’t take your chosen quilting design right to the edges, leave half an inch unquilted around all edges. Trim the wadding (only) back to the quilting, and then fold under the raw edges of the front and back fabrics.
This is where you place the inserts before stitching the edges closed. Just make sure you have worked out your maths for prairie points, scallops or half hexies, so they are the right size to fit exactly into each edge.
10 Crochet Edging:
If you are a dab hand with a crochet hook, you can finish the edges of your quilt or cushions with a delicate crochet trim.
Finish your quilt as per example 9 (for cushions, simply turn them right sides out). Then hand sew a blanket stitch around all edges. Crochet into the blanket stitch using 4ply cotton yarn. Your first row will be chain stitches, followed by a row of double crochets and trebles. Add as many rows as you wish!
And there we have it!
10 different ways to finish your quilts and projects.
There are of course many more, just have a look in Pinterest! The possibilities are endless!
I’m sure you are more than familiar now with the changes to our General Data Protection Rules here in the UK and EU.
For small business holders like me, it’s been a time consuming and expensive exercise in trying to figure out a way through the ‘grey areas’ to make sure we are complying with the new rules.
I have just sent out my summer newsletter, which covers the latest information on upcoming classes, new pattern releases and free tutorials.
If you would like to receive my termly newsletter in future and get regular updates and subscriber discounts, then just type in your email address on the right hand side of this page.
For the third installment in my series of summer workshops, we will be looking at what we can do with cotton clothesline rope and a zig-zag stitch!
The rope bowl making phenomenon hit the online quilting community about 2 years ago, and is still going strong!
When I started making these, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to achieve the variety of 3d shapes. The fiddliest part is getting the rope wound tightly enough at the start, but after that, it’s a doddle!
I experimented with a couple of different ropes, one softer and one coarser. While my machine still coped ok with the coarser rope, it had to work a little harder, and cheaper threads broke more often. However, the softer rope was much more maliable and took both the Aurifil and cheaper threads with ease. I will be supplying the softer rope to the workshops.
There are many different ways to add colour to your baskets – dip-dyeing, painting, coloured thread or adding scraps. Check out my Kitchen Pinterest Board for many more examples of this versatile craft.
Due to the popularity of this project, I am running 2 workshop dates, 18th August and 8th September. All workshops are £30 (includes a non-refundable £15 deposit). Just drop me an email to email@example.com for more information or to register.
How is your week going? We are (still) basking in the most gorgeous sunny weather here, leaving us with stunning, glorious sunsets!
This week in my classes I am presenting my summer Saturday Workshops. The 4 Saturdays in August will all be workshops, and I will be posting about them here, starting with ……
If you’ve been sewing for any length of time, you may have a huge healthy stock of scraps, leftovers from previous quilting projects. These pieces might just be too sizeable, pretty or meaningful to throw away, leftover binding or jelly roll strips, or perhaps frugality gets the better of you!
Either way, there are many, many ways to put those ever growing scraps to good use!
Here are just a few examples of what you can make on Scrap Buster Saturday.
My technique for making strip pieced blocks doesn’t involve a foundation layer.
I added a little ‘organisation’ to lots of random strips by making the central strip in each block white. The white strips are of uniform width, but that’s were the uniformity ends! All other strips are random widths and lengths. I even used ‘ugly’ fabrics I still had, but I totally love the finished quilt! That’s the magic of using scraps.
Autumn Rail Fence Quilt(block tutorial available here)
The simple sewing together of strips means you can easily make up this quilt top in a day.
Once again, I dove into my scrap drawers for specific colours – golds, oranges, pinks and teals, all of different widths and lengths. Some donated yardage of a brown stripe gives flow and order to the scraps.
But equally, this quilt would look fabulous made in random coloured scraps with a uniform ‘fence’ fabric.
‘Quilt As You Go’ Handbag: (pattern available here)
Here’s another roomy handbag idea for all those colourful scraps!
This ‘quilt as you go’ method involves the quilting of each individual piece of fabric onto a larger piece of wadding. There are no raw edges, and the condense quilting gives the bag lots of structure.
The pattern also includes this secure recessed zipper closure.
‘Birch’ Quilt (in progress):
I took inspiration from this quilt and decided to make a grey and low volume version (given that I have an overflowing drawer of LV scraps!).
I plan on using up my stash of Kona Greys to make this into a bigger ‘man’ quilt. Somehow, I think it will take me a lot longer to use up my LV scraps!
So there you have it! A little inspiration on how to use your scraps, and a date for your diary on how to have a day of fun turning them into something wonderful!
Mental Health Awareness Week is 14th – 20th May here in the UK (photos explained at the end of the post!).
Did you know that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health issue and 5% of the world’s population currently suffer from depression? That’s 350 million people!
I’m sure, like me, you have either experienced some form of mental illness in your life, or know someone you care about who has.
During a particularly low point in my life, I started seeing a counsellor, who recognised that after seeing to my husband, my children, my home etc. I did nothing for myself. She introduced me to the notion of ‘play’ and asked me to name one thing that I used to enjoy doing when I was younger. I said sewing!
She encouraged me to reclaim this activity that gave me so much fulfillment and joy, and so I enrolled in my local college to study in City & Guilds Textile & Design.
I can honestly say that getting back into a creative environment and learning how to ‘play’ again, was instrumental in my recovery from depression.
That was 12 years ago, and little did I know then, that I would be teaching others how to release their creativity and learn how to ‘play’ and enjoy life again.
My first experience of teaching patchwork and quilting was to a group of women with various mental health needs (depression, self-harm, addiction, domestic violence, grief, bi-polar disorder, cancer survivors, eating disorders to name but a few). For 2 years I saw first-hand the therapeutic benefits they experienced after only a few short weeks of sewing. One lady in particular, old before her time, stooped with low self worth and heavily reliant on a walking stick, made her first patchwork cushion and within 6 weeks was coming to class without her stick and walking tall!! Like many others, learning a new skill within a caring community, and having something to show and be proud of, elevated her self-esteem and ignited hope and positivity in many areas of her life.
Seeing the wonderful benefits sewing was having on these ladies’ lives ignited a passion in me to encourage others to let go of negativity, worry, anxiety & perfectionism, even if only for a few hours a week, and discover the healing and therapeutic powers of sewing.
It’s encouraging now to see emerging evidence from neuroscientists and doctors that support what we sewists already know – that sewing (& crafting) is good for our brains and mental health!
The authors of the ‘Sew Your Blues Away’ blog have written an informative article about this here. They say:
“In short, mentally engaging movement (sewing) helps to break the cycle of negative thoughts, as well as allowing the brain to recover and improve by generating newer, healthier brain cells. Specialists state that an engaging hobby is often more effective than just taking an antidepressant, which typically targets only one neurotransmitter. While sewing not only heals, it also improves the brain’s resistance to future bouts of depression by reminding our brains that we have an impact on the world around us.”
So not only is sewing mentally good for us, it is helping our brains physically too! How cool is that!
This article from 2014 explains not only why crafting like knitting and sewing are good for our brains, but why crafting with others is so important too. Check it out!
And I’m sure the ladies who come to my classes will testify to many of these benefits (& more!) too! We certainly have a lot of fun together!
Now my work as a sewing tutor is my passion, my calling and it has gotten me through some of the toughest periods of my life. I’m so privileged to get to ‘play’ everyday as my day job. But of course, turning a hobby into a business means I needed to find a new hobby!
At the moment I’m learning about photography, and I enjoy getting out into nature and noticing details that I would otherwise miss had I not brought my camera along. In the busyness of this modern world I’m trying to literally ‘stop and smell the roses’! (I hope you have enjoyed the pics I’ve shared here.)
So as we focus on Mental Health this week and bring this once taboo subject into the open, let me encourage you to find something that returns to you the same enjoyment, fulfillment and escapism that playtime once did. Let yourself be absorbed by creativity and fun, and released from the stresses and demands of life!
We have just had a wonderful bank holiday weekend here in UK. And what made it so wonderful? The beautiful sunny weather!
I spent the bank holiday Monday in Florence Court, Enniskillen, with 2 of my girls, having lots of photo fun, and enjoying this wonderful National Trust house.
It was a beautiful day, learning all about the women (upstairs and downstairs) in Florence Court’s history.
Also this week, the current issue of Quilt Now hit the shops, and in it you can find my Octosaurus Rex Quilt, designed for Makower using their Rex Collection of fabrics.
This quilt design is full of secondary patterns, and the larger Placement print is perfect for fussy cutting.
Here’s what I wrote as my source of inspiration:
“I live not far from the Giant’s Causeway, a 60 million year old formation of multi-sided volcanic stones. So I thought it would be fun to design Jurassic sized shapes around these cute dinosaur fussy cuts and fabrics. The Octagon blocks slot neatly side by side just like the stones at the Giant’s Causeway!”
There is a lot of piecing in this quilt, and it is a decent size at 60″ x 72″. However you could easily reduce the number of blocks and make a smaller quilt for a younger dinosaur lover!
So if you have a little one who is mad about all things Jurassic, then these fabrics are your perfect choice!
You can see the full collection here, and my Octosaurus Rex Quilt pattern is also available via the Makower UK website.
In keeping with our ‘curves’ theme this term, my monthly ‘5 minute lesson’ in classes this week was all about Improv. (improvisational) curves.
As the name suggests ‘improv.’ means you pretty much go with the flow and make up the curves as you go. No two curves are the same, and there are much fewer rules to abide by than with standard pieced curves. You don’t even have to worry about an even seam allowance (gasp!).
You can imagine how well this technique went down with all my rebellious non-conformists (you know who you are!!).
There are many examples of improv. curves on Pinterest (see my Curves Pinterest Board here). And to give an example of these in class, I made some improv. curved placemats, in the lovely coastal Beachcomber fabrics by Makower.
Here is the tutorial on how to make my Improv. Curved Placemats (makes 4 x 15 1/4″ diameter mats).
You will need:
Between Nine and Twelve 10″ squares (I used Beachcomber by Makower)
50cm of Wadding or Insul Bright Heat Resistant Wadding
50cm of calico
1 metre of Heat Resistant Non-Slip Table Protector (at least 35″ wide)
4.5 metres of 3/4″ wide bias binding
505 Basting Spray
Method:Assume 1/4″ seams
1 Place 2 squares of fabric on the cutting mat, right sides facing up, and overlapping. The wider the overlap, the deeper the curves can be. I usually overlap by 2-3″ (I am using up a smaller piece of fabric here to overlap the 10″ square).
2 Using a rotary cutter, cut a curve up through the overlapped section.
3 Remove the excess pieces (this will be the smaller piece of the right hand fabric and the smaller/underneath piece of the left hand fabric). The remaining pieces should fit neatly together.
4 Sew the 2 pieces right sides together. It is easier to do this by straightening the underneath piece with your right hand and lifting up the top piece with your left hand. Don’t worry if your seam allowance isn’t even the whole way down, just make sure there are no tucks.
5 Press the seam to the darkest fabric.
6 Repeat steps 2-5 for a third piece of fabric, over lapping the left hand edge of the first piece.
7 Spray baste the curved pieces, wadding and calico together (tutorial on spray basting available here).
8 Quilt the mats, starting centrally and working towards the outer edges. I quilted in the ditches and then’echo’ quilted the curved seams 1/2″ apart.
9 Place a round plate or bowl on top and draw around it. Cut along the line and remove the excess. Put to one side.
10 Place the same plate/bowl onto the felted side of the non-slip table protector. Draw around it and cut out.
11 Machine tack the table protector to the wrong side of the mat, making sure the felted side is on the inside. Machine tacking means using a large stitch on your machine, and stitching close to the edges. If you find the rubberised table protector resisting or sticking to your sewing machine, make sure the rubberised side is facing up and engage the dual feed/walking foot on your machine. If you don’t have these, stick some matt scotch tape to the underside of your presser foot keeping clear of the needle opening.
12 Open out the bias binding, and leaving a few inches unsewn at the start, attach the binding around the edge of the mat using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance, stopping a few inches short at the end (remember to use a quilting size stitch length here, not a tacking stitch).
13 Place the end of the bias binding over the start and measure and mark 1/2″ overlap. Trim off the excess.
14 Open out the binding and sew the short ends together using 1/4″ seam allowance.
15 Finger press the seam open and finish sewing down the remaining binding to the mat.
16 Snip all around the edge of the mat at 1cm intervals, taking care not to cut the stitches.
17 Push the binding over to the back of the mat. Pin in the ditch from the front, making sure the binding is caught at the back.
18 Stitch in the ditch from the front side finishing with a reverse stitch.
And you’re finished!
Adorn your table with your beautiful mats and wait for the compliments!
So why not have a go at this organic and fun technique!
I hope you enjoy your venture into improv. curves!
I promised to post this week about the projects on my ‘Spring into Summer’ Table.
Never one to break a promise, I’m starting with my Denim Applique Sailboat Cushion.
I originally designed this cushion for a summer edition of Pretty Patches Magazine.
I loved re-purposing some denim and scraps for this nautical cushion. My recent discovery of Aurifil 12wt wool thread also made a significant contribution! You can read more about my designing process here.
The great news is that I’ll be teaching a workshop on this cushion on Saturday 19th May at my classroom in Conway Mill.
And not only that, kits will be available with everything you need to make the cushion, including lush Essex Yarn Dyed Linen, denim pieces, stripey binding and a bright red button for the back!
How cool is that!
So if you would like to spend a fun Saturday with other like minded creatives learning new skills like appli-quilting and free motion sketching, then just drop me an email to register: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello everyone! I hope you’ve been enjoying some glorious sunshine in your part of the world!
We have had several beautiful days here. Doesn’t a sunny day just lift one’s spirits!!
Time got away from me a bit this week, but don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten to bring you the posts on my Spring into Summer projects. I will get those posted this week.
In the meantime, I have a few pics to share with you from our Applique workshop yesterday!
8 courageous ladies decided to put their ‘big girl’ pants on and tackle satin stitch applique head on! And not just satin stitch applique, but ‘appli-quilting’ – combining the techniques of applique and quilting into one step.
If you are a regular subscriber to Quilt Now magazine, you may recognise someone in the ‘Designer Spotlight’ this month.
It was a privilege to be asked by Quilt Now to feature my new classroom and classes in the latest copy of their magazine (issue 48).
I have very much enjoyed working with Katy and designing for Quilt Now in recent years, but now I’m giving almost all of my design attention to my classes.
I’m nearly 4 months into running Patchwork & Quilting classes here at Conway Mill, and I’m delighted with the response and feedback so far.
My ladies are loving the wonderful light and space in the room, and I try to keep them inspired with themed quilts and project displays.
One of the things I love about working here is being surrounded by the wonderful story of what it used to be, a 19th Century Flax Mill.
Some of the original features of the Mill have survived, even through the Belfast blitz of 1941 and being set on fire during our political troubles here in the 1970’s.
How serendipitous to be bringing the art and love of textiles back into this beautiful Victorian Mill!
If you would like to know more about my classes, click here, or pop in to see us on the 2nd floor, grab a coffee (or lunch) in the Little Mill Bistro, or come see the many other businesses, trades, creatives and artists who work here!
I have two more quilt examples of drunkard’s path variations, the patterns for which I hope to be able to make available soon.
Wow! That was a long post! Thank you for sticking with all my ‘curves’!
If you would like to learn how to make drunkard’s path units (& all of these projects) & have a lot of fun along the way, then why not join in with our other crazy creatives and register for our class starting w/c 9th April. More details on classes available here.
For the past 6 weeks some very talented ladies in my classes have been beavering away on my Denim Hexie Bag Pattern.
This pattern combines techniques such as English Paper Piecing (EPP Hexies), eyelet holes, zippered pocket, handbag construction as well as some serious denim upcycling!
At times it looked like a missile had gone off in a jeans factory in my classroom, as scissors and blades feverishly amputated legs, pockets and loops! While denim is one of my favourite textiles to work with, it doesn’t half shed!
But oh boy, the results of this serious crafting were so worth it!
Not all the bags being made are represented here, a few are still being finished off.
But aren’t they brilliant! Sturdy, stylish practical bags that I know will get lots of use!
And I also know that the bags still being finished are equally as fabulous!
I haven’t been able to capture all the individual details in the bags here, but trust me when I tell you that each bag has it’s own unique characteristics.
Details like repurposed loops, tabs and pockets from the jeans, as well as complimentary fabrics like cotton and tweed, buttons, badges and even embroidery and printing.
A huge ‘well done’ to all my wonderful ‘Bag Ladies’!
I also have 3 part-kits available in my shop, which include the pattern, pre-cut hexie papers, various coloured denim squares (for the hexie panels) , 1 metre of heavy weight sew-in vilene and 4 eyelet rings.
Have you ever wanted to master satin stitch applique, but are too afraid to try on your own?
Why not surround yourself with like minded creatives and spend a Saturday learning this technique with all the help and support you need!
At the workshop you will not only learn how to set up your machine for satin stitch applique, you can also make one of two projects:
Family Tree Wallhanging:
This pretty wallhanging can be made with your favourite treasured scraps, seasonal fabrics, or how about embroidering the names of family members onto the leaves!
This type of applique is called ‘appli-quilting’. The leaves will be appliqued onto an already quilted background. The process of stitching the leaves down combines both techniques of applique and quilting (appli-quilting).
Applique Leaf Cushion:
The same leaf motif can have many applications. How about a pretty cushion in fabrics that co-ordinate with your home!
Once again, we are using the appli-quilting technique here, applique and quilting all in one go! Simples!
And how about making a pretty feature of your zipper closure!
So the choice is yours! Join us for lots of coffee, chat and craic in a fun and safe learning environment at Conway Mill.
Just drop me an email to book a place: email@example.com
So, I’m going to completely ignore the impending snow forecast and pretend it is spring and enjoy my narcissus and daffs and the blissfulness of denial!
With just over 2 weeks to Easter, let’s crack on with part 2 of my classroom Easter table.
At the top right hand side of the picture, you will see my Garden Shed Tidy.
This was made for the May ’16 issue of Pretty Patches magazine. As the garden starts to come to life again, I get sporadic urges to amble down the ‘garden’ isles of my local homeware shop, buying packets of seeds with renewed vigor that this year I will plant them (!!)
And if (like me) you aren’t much of a gardener, you could easily use this cute tidy in your bathroom, the teenagers room, or in the study keeping stamps, envelopes and stationery organised (people do still write letters, right?).
Hanging on my diy Easter tree are my Easter Egg Zippy Pouches, made with older children in mind who might prefer money or vouchers for Easter! You can get the free tutorial here.
Also hanging on my Easter tree are some crochet bunnies. I followed this tutorial, however mine seem to resemble some kind of dysmorphic bat!
Now one of the cushions on my table is an old friend. You may recognise her from this quilt!
My trusty Woodland Hare, Harriet, has been enlarged and appliqued onto a bespoke cushion cover. She’s been stuffed and in the absence of piping cord, I top-stitched the side seams.
Seeing Harriet’s endearing smile always brings me joy!
Finally, for part 2, all of these items are sitting on my Picnic Bobble Blanket.
This was another magazine commission, this time the August ’16 issue of Popular Patchwork.
It’s a great pattern for showing off a larger scale print.
It is double backed, the outer layer being a machine washable shower curtain (we don’t want any soggy bottoms!).
This is another pattern I will commit to re-write for general sale!
There is a lot of work involved in converting a pattern from a magazine template to one of my own formatted patterns. I have a long ‘to do’ list and will be announcing some new releases soon! Thank you for your patience.
There are still 2 projects left on the table to tell you about. But I will give them a post all of their own!
When I was at Primary School we had a ‘Nature Table’, decorated according to the seasons, with items mucky hands would triumphantly find and trophy into class the next day!
The Autumn Table was my favourite. I can still see the bright orangey-red ovals of rosehips, shining like jewels among the tattered leaves and empty conker casings.
Well I may be all grown up now (sort of!), but in the childhood-spirit of celebrating the season, I thought it would be nice to have an ‘Easter Table’ in class!
Not all of these items are strictly ‘Easter’ related – I’m using a little Spring inspiration (& a lot of creative license!) too.
So over the next 2 posts, let me talk you through my table and I’ll give you the links to the free tutorials too!
We’ll start with the left hand side of the table. The items are sitting on my blue chenille mat. If you’ve never tried chenilling before, I highly recommend it. Great fun and super easy too!
Chenille involves lots of layers of fabric, sewn together on the bias in half inch channels. The fabric between the channels is then cut, through all layers except the bottom one. Give it a rigorous wash and tumble dry, and hey presto, you have the fluffiest fabric which you can then turn into anything you like!
So far, I’ve chenilled a baby play mat, a bath mat (below) and a heart cushion!
As a single mum to 3 gorgeous girls, her strength, courage and love for life has been (& will continue to be) my inspiration. Over the past 13 years we have laughed and cried together, prayed and worked together, and sewed together (Heather was a very talented quilter).
3 weeks ago, she had her last birthday, in hospital sadly. I had made her a quilt, which she got to see. It made her smile!
I wanted a bright, colourful and happy quilt for Heather, to reflect her sunny personality. These fabrics are called Soul Blossoms by Amy Butler, and the symbolic cream motifs are Friendship Stars.
She had a great sense of humour and was selflessly devoted to her girls. I’m blessed to have had many opportunities to spend with Heather these past 18 months during her illness.
We loved a good rummage in charity shops (she knew all the best ones), hours and hours in coffee shops (she was the best listener) and nights out at the flicks (even if she did nod off occasionally!). And of course, we both shared a love of fabric and sewing. She was even attending my classes until a few weeks ago (I finished the quilt she was working on and it was on her bed when she passed).
I will miss my lovely friend, and my heart is breaking for the 3 beautiful girls she leaves behind, on the eve of Mothers Day.
But we share the same faith, and while we said ‘goodbye’ on Monday, through love and tears, we both know that it is only ‘farewell’ until we see each other again in heaven. And then we will have endless years of fun, frolics and friendship together!
Goodbye my friend. You had courage, grace and dignity right to the very end. See you on the other side.