Thank you to everyone for signing up and so far raising £200 for Shared Threads!
The first block in the quilt-along is a 9″ Applique block called Friendship Reel.
In the accompanying teaching video, you can learn both satin stitch applique (machine) and needleturn applique (hand).
We have a private Facebook group for the quilt-along and it’s so lovely seeing people’s fabric choices and prepped and finished Friendship Reel blocks appearing already!
Making both satin stitched and needleturned versions for the videos, I now have an orpha block which is surplus to requirements for the final Kindred Spirits Quilt.
So I thought I’d turn it into a little candle mat, to give folks an alternative use for their blocks and how to use up little orphan blocks.
This was my needleturned Friendship Reel, and with some textured matchstick quilting and black & white stripey binding, you’ve instantly got a handy little candle or vase mat or a useful trivet for your kitchen table.
And just imagine this lovely block made in Christmas Fabrics! Wouldn’t that make a sweet Christmas gift!
So no need for purposeless leftover blocks! Liberate them into functional items and gifts!
(If you’d like to join our Kindred Spirits Quilt-Along, booking is available here.)
The last of my recent run on gift making is this plush velvet tote bag for my youngest daughter.
She requested an everyday sizeable, soft tote bag, especially when she’s too-ing and fro-ing to lectures at Uni.
Now this girl of mine is super tactile! I gave her a choice between 2 different lightweight upholstery bolts I had been donated, knowing full well she would choose the sumptuously soft velvet over a paler linen look fabric.
I also gave her a choice of lining fabrics and she choose the one I had my fingers crossed on! That’s my girl!
At 5’11” I knew she would need long length handles. I made a feature of them with a few repurposed denim loops and tabs. A little scrap of leather denotes the front of the bag.
A simple phone pocket on the inside is all this bag needed to make it fully functional.
I’m happy to report the birthday girl loved her new bag and has been using it ever since!
I hope you are keeping safe and well and keeping the creativity flowing!
Yesterday I hosted my first socially distanced afternoon tea party in my garden, to celebrate my cousin’s birthday!
I’m happy to report that the sun shone all afternoon and a wonderful time was had by all! It was so lovely socialising again and catching up with sewing friends face to face!
My ‘make’ for the birthday girl was this denim planter, a multi-functional basket for her sewing or living room.
Working with denim is always ‘play time’ for me and I thought I would make a larger version of the selvedge basket I designed and taught at our quilting retreat last year.
First I sewed the denim strips onto heavy sew-in vilene using the ‘quilt as you go’ method of piecing. I quickly realised this wasn’t going to be sturdy enough to allow the basket to retain its shape.
So I quilted the panel onto flex foam using orange Aurifil 12wt wool thread. Much better! And just look at that gorgeous texture!
The lining was inserted before adding the binding and pinching in the sides to give the boxy shape to the basket.
I definitely needed my heavy jeans needle for that part!!
And last but not least, some leather handles secured with bronze rivets, to bring a little rustic colour and texture to the basket.
At this juncture I didn’t know what I was going to put in the basket, or how to ‘prop’ it for photographing. I grabbed a couple of my artificial plants and set them in and immediately fell in love with the contrasting greenery and inventive use of the basket!
And so my denim planter was born! I loved making it and will definitely be making one for my own home!
My daughter has recently been serving with a Missions organisation called YWAM (Youth With A Mission).
As a team leader she has had the privilege of nurturing 5 students through a Discipleship Training Programme, 4 months in the UK and 2 in Japan.
At the end of the programme the students have a graduation ceremony, and I had the privilege of making little graduation gifts!
Sadly because of Corona Virus, the graduation ceremony couldn’t take place, but the gifts were handed out none-the-less and well received (I also made gifts for the other team and programme leaders).
For the Girls:
My evenings spent basting hexies meant I had a little collection built up! So I put them to good use and turned them into zippy pouches.
I had no idea what the girls’ colour preferences were, and even though they were individually wrapped and handed out separately, my daughter said that each person got exactly the right one for their particular style and colour choice! Yay!
All the hexie panels are made from scraps, leftovers from other projects. The bases are either Irish Linen or Essex Yarn Dyed Linen and the exteriors finished off with little leather tabs.
I put some scented hand creams inside the pouches! An extra little surprise when they were opened!
For the Boys:
These are A5 journal covers, made in Irish linen and cork.
The exteriors are identical, with little scraps of navy leather riveted onto the cork pockets, which also have a handy pen slot!
The cover is held closed by wrapping a leather cord around a duffle button.
The linings are suitably masculine, and I even included a notebook! So these journals are ready for immediate use!
I was so pleased I was able to post these over to the graduates and leaders, before they all quickly dispersed to different countries, before borders and flights were closed to them.
My classroom is currently closed because of the pandemic, so during this lockdown I hope to make more gifts, as well as trying my hand at video tutorials and classes.
You can check out my first video announcement today on FB and IG, and a mini tour of my little sewing room here!
I’ve recently gifted a selection of ‘cork pouches’.
I love working with cork! It goes with just about everything, comes in lots of different colours (including sparkly!) can be rotary cut, pieced, quilted, ironed (medium-cool heat setting) and is 3d friendly! Did you know it’s vegan too (though I don’t recommend eating it!).
Here’s the first cork pouch:
This was made for a friend of my daughter who has been through a tough time lately.
I had a very small offcut of this gorgeous animal fabric (Echino, I think!) and managed (just about) to fussy cut the animals. I particularly like the zebras as my daughter’s friend is a young mum and it reminded me of the lovely bond she has with her son.
The pouch was sent off with an inspirational notebook and lots of love!
Pouch no. 2 was made as an ‘end of year’ thank you gift.
As with most of my pouches, I make them up as I go along! I’d seen some lovely curved pouches on Pinterest and thought I’d have a go!
The 2nd side of the zipper is a little tricky as you are sewing against the curve, but completely manageable with patience and deft fingers!
All of the fabrics in this pouch are available to purchase in my studio.
And last but not least, a geographical pouch for a special girl!
My middle daughter has already left for a 3 month missions trip, so I thought a useful but easy to pack pouch would come in handy.
With another offcut of map fabric I managed to include 2 countries that hold significance for my daughter, Brazil (a country she would love to visit one day) and Japan, where she will be spending the first 2 months of 2020.
I quilted both sides of the pouch along the longitude and latitude lines that were already printed on this ‘old style’ map!
So that’s my round up of cork pouches gifted this Christmas.
If you’ve never sewn with cork before give it a try! You’ll soon discover how versatile and user friendly it is!
Today I handed over 2 more pressies to my monthly breakfast buddies!
You may remember I ran my Robin Hoop Art workshop last month. Robins are so iconic at this time of year and I thought these sketchy hoops would make the perfect handmade gifts for my craft-loving friends.
While the theme is the same, each hoop has subtle differences. The background fabrics are different and the character of each robin is different.
Also, for the first time I’ve introduced (tea stained) paper to my textile pictures. The quote for each friend is different and personal.
These 8″ hoops are the perfect size for gifting, and are such fun to make, especially if you love free motion sketching!
3 and leave a comment here or on FB or IG telling me what’s your favourite textile to work with.
You have until Monday 18th November to enter, when I will announce the winner (international entries welcome). (Please ensure you leave your email address with your comment if you are a ‘no reply blogger’.)
For the past few years, an annual tradition has started among 3 of my long time quilty friends and myself.
2 of us live in N.Ireland and the other 2 in England. We try to meet up each year to sew, taking it in turns to meet on either side of the Irish Sea! And that’s why we call ourselves #Threads Across the Sea!
This year, Trudi and Di came to not so sunny Belfast and spent a weekend of chatter, natter, lots of eating (delicious home baked yummies by Trudi and Sarah!) and of course some sewing in my studio!
One of our traditions is to gift handmade items to each other! This is like Christmas come early!!
From Sarah we each received these personalised Arm Chair Caddies (pattern from the book ‘Zakka Home’). Aren’t they cool! And Sarah got me spot on with my love of denim and all things ditsy!
I will definitely be using mine when hand stitching in the evenings in front of the telly!
Trudi is an amazing hand stitcher and quilter, and being recently laid up with injured ankles facilitated the huge amount of time she invested in these pouches.
I particularly love the sashiko stitching on Art Gallery Denim! Yum!
And from Di we each got a treat bag of goodies!
Di lives in the Lake District and the particular area she lives in is known as the Cake District!!! Fab or what!
Included in the bag were thread snips, mobile thread cutter/needle threader and wood turned items made by Di’s uber talented hubby! Check out the gorgeously tactile needle holder and Christmas Tree decoration!
See what I mean by Christmas come early! I’m so blessed to call these talented women my friends.
And if you want to know what I made for my 3 friends, you’ll have to tune in again to find out (and there might be a wee giveaway too! wink wink!).
Having a sew-social with like minded creatives and wonderful friends is one of my favourite things! Already looking forward to TATS20!
You need one pair of socks to make 1 monkey. The pattern suggests using crew length socks (approx 8″ from heel to cuff) however I adapted knee length socks for my large monkey and used a pair of ladies ankle socks (approx 5″ from heel to cuff) for the medium monkey.
I found these monkeys surprisingly easy to sew, especially as the pattern directs you to mark and sew the limbs and features on the complete sock first, before cutting out! Genuis!
And there is a nifty way of getting stuffing into that narrow channel of a tail!! (It’s so clever!)
The toys we have been making in class require lots and lots of stuffing, really well packed in to achieve the finished shape. However, that is not the case with these little fellows!
Because socks are made from a stretchy knit fabric, the more you stuff, the more it will stretch! So my advice is not to over stuff, just enough for maximum cuddle factor!
A little hand sewing brings all the features together. Don’t worry if you’re not that neat a hand sewer like me. The stitches just seem to get absorbed into the knit fabric! Magic!
Aren’t they cute! And great gift ideas for little (& big) kids (I recommend using safety eyes instead of buttons if gifting to small children).
So no need to discard those old or odd socks! Get sewing your very own troop of monkeys!
The 2nd of my gifts being handed out this week is this English Paper Pieced (EPP) Hexie Pillow.
This gift is actually a ‘thank you’ from my daughter to a family who’ve been like a 2nd family to her for many years, and have faithfully supported her missionary training!
The family in question love the North Coast of Ireland, and holiday there every year (with my daughter included!).
They have a particular affection for The Giants Causeway, a geological phenomenon of mostly hexagonal shaped basalt stones, created from volcanic movement 50-60 million years ago.
But despite what Wikipedia and National Heritage say, we all know it was in fact built by the Irish Giant, Finn MacCool! Of course!
So this coastal coloured pillow with it’s columns of ombre hexies is my textile ode to The Giant’s Causeway and our legendary and affectionate giant, Finn MacCool!
This is my first time appliquing EPP hexies in this way. It’s important to draw your placement grid first onto the background (Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in this instance), before bondawebbing the starched hexies in place.
I’m delighted to say the pillow was very well received and the recipients immediately got the inferences to their favourite little corner of the world.
I love making cushions (well they’re just mini quilts really aren’t they!) and trying out new things. I’ll definitely chalk this one up as a success (especially as I would like to have one in my own home!)!
Wow! How did that happen! I’m now the proud new owner of 3 adults!
I’ve made all my girls quilts for their 18th birthdays, and I try to reflect something of their personalities in the quilts.
My youngest daughter has a sunny nature, loves colour, texture and random things! So her quilt has lots of colour, random prints and non-geometric design, sunny blues and mustard and the cosiest fleecy backing!
Despite having our warmest days of the year this week, she has very much enjoyed snuggling under her new quilt!
(A big thank you to my friend Hilary for quilting this quilt on her long arm.)
So that’s another family milestone and another milestone quilt!
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!
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!
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!
How did your Christmas go over? Mine was a peaceful and relaxing time spent with family…. the best kind (though eating my body weight in mince pieces and festive fayre is perhaps overdoing it, a tad!).
In all the pre-Christmas madness busyness I past my 7th year blogiversary (20th) and on 10th December I reached 1000 followers on Instagram! Quite the milestone!
Now that is call for celebration! I’m hatching a giveaway plan, so watch this space – details will be coming soon.
But for today I’ll show you 2 more gifts I managed to squeeze in before the big day!
These are Lola pouches, designed by my very talented friend Svetlana.
I had the privilege of testing the Lola Pouch for Svetlana a couple of years ago, when I made the larger size (which I use to store all my EPP papers and templates).
This time, I needed a small zippy pouch to ‘carry’ some little gifts, and I immediately thought of the small Lola pouch.