At the end of February we will be having a half term break from classes.
Which means, a new block of classes kicks off in March up until Easter.
And a new block of classes means a new (optional) class project.
We’re going to dip our creative toes into some textile art this term, having unadulterated play-time with mixed textiles and medium.
I’ve 2 class samples to showcase several fun techniques.
This is a 12″ picture in a box frame.
The background can be made with strips of torn linens, cottons, lace, voile, broderie anglaise and anything else light weight which is textured or can fray well. I even included fine strands of felting wool!
We then use a water-soluble fabric to matchstick quilt the background before adding our composition on top.
I’ve chosen some flowers and seed heads, but you could quite easily go with a bird, meadow or beach theme. Let your creativity run wild!
In the making of my picture I used the following techniques:
free motion embroidery
I also included some cut out some embroidered yellow flowers from an old duvet cover!!
What a lot of fun! You’ll never look at textured fabrics, bedding and apparel in the same way again!
I love word art! There’s nothing quite like the perfectly spoken word at exactly the right time to create profound impact and legacy.
If you enjoy poetry and literature you can have so much fun with your composition here. Or how about the name and meaning of a loved one? What a special gift.
The background is made in the same way as picture 1. I’ve also included free motion sketching and printed text here. This time though, I’ve embellished my picture with text printed onto fabric. You need an inket jet printer and freezer paper do to this.
I’m so looking forward to seeing what artistic impressions are released when this class starts in March!
If you would like to join us for some textile creativity, check out all the classes and vacancies here.
In our current block of classes we are looking at tucks and pleats.
You may remember I had made 2 examples of tucks for our classes, but at the time was still working on a pleats sample.
And here it is:
The pattern for this pleated bag is by Lisa Lam (U-handbag.com) and is called ‘For Pleats Sake!’. You can find the free tutorial here.
The tutorial doesn’t include quantities for the exterior and interior fabrics.
If you are using non-directional fabric you will need 0.5 metre of both. However, if you have a direction to your pattern which follows the width of the bolt, you will need 0.75 metres.
And a further note on the fabrics. I used ‘deco’ (decorating) weight fabric (or lightweight curtaining) from Ikea. This fabric gives body to the bag, pleats beautifully and negates the need for interfacing or fusible fleece.
I used the same weight for the lining (a vintage curtain) which also gets pleated. However if you wanted to use quilting weight cotton I recommend using a heavy weight sew-in stabiliser (rather than fusible fleece) on both the exterior and lining. Spray baste the sew-in stabiliser rather than using a fusible heavy weight stabiliser as this could resist the light weight cotton and cause it to bubble.
Sewing the faux leather handles through the exterior layers only can be tricky (the handles can’t be held in place with pins and the needle comes out awkwardly between the exterior and lining!). So try sewing through both layers and covering the visible back stitching with glued on fabric or leather scraps.
P.s. you want to use really strong thread to sew on your handles, like linen, perle cotton or 6 strand embroidery floss.
The bags currently being made in class are gorgeous! I can’t wait to show you them at half term, with the equally beautiful pleated pouches and cushions! It’s a hive of wondrous activity!
(Want to know the difference between pleats and tucks? See here)
Well it’s hard to believe that we only have 1 more week of classes left for 2019! Where on earth did that year go!!
I can’t wait to show you the beautiful wreaths folks have been making as part of our (optional) class project this term. They’re stunning!
But before one term is out I always present to my classes what the next term’s (optional) class project will be.
Our technique focus next term will be Pleats & Tucks.
The main difference between pleats and tucks is that pleats are formed by folding the same length of fabric into folds which are only stitched down at the top and bottom ends, whereas tucks are constructed separately and then sewn into the project.
You will of course be more familiar with seeing pleats and tucks in clothing and apparel, but I love how different techniques in textiles can cross over into other disciplines, usually with a little creative tweaking!
So far I have 2 class samples made (both tucks!), but I hope to have one more pleated sample completed before the start of term!
Cushion with Tucks:
There are many different effects you can achieve by manipulating tucks.
I really like the ‘spread’ effect you get from this variation of the Wave Tuck. You can see each of the feature fabrics standing out nicely against the black Essex Yarn Dyed Linen.
Zippy Pouch with Tucks
This is an example of Twisted Tucks. Before sewing along the bottom edge of the pouch, the tucks are twisted back, revealing the secondary colour. This effect adds a lovely decorative touch to bags and pouches.
So that’s us (almost) ready for next term. If you would like to join us for some creative sewing fun, you can see all the available classes here.
In the meantime I have a few Christmas presents to make, and the small matter of workshops for February’s Retreat to make too!
I have used 3 fabrics in my double wreath. I like the versions which have a 3rd fabric peeping out at the edges of the folds. I’m a bit fussy when it comes to Christmas fabrics so I chose 2 Tilda fabrics (a Christmas red and a non-Christmas pink) and a non-Christmas cream by Lewis & Irene.
While the construction of this wreath may look complicated, let me assure you that it isn’t (I love it when patchwork deceptively portrays complexity!).
Each row is made the same way. The repetitve nature of making square ‘coasters’ and cleverly joining them into a circle means you can stop at a single wreath (as a candle mat or door-hanging) or keep going and make additional rounds.
I stopped at 2 rounds and decorated the centre with a Scandi birdhouse. But at the class you will have the option of making a single, double or triple wreath.
And if you like your bling, you’ll love decorating your wreath! Metallic threads, beads, bells and baubles are all up for grabs! Let your Christmas creativity go wild!
And of course, if you’re not a Christmas fan, why not make a beautiful autumnal or winter wreath!
Lots of options and variations are open to you with this optional class project.
The new block kicks of w/c 5th November and runs for 6 weeks. Booking available here.
Our studio in August looked a little bit like a jeans factory, as many pairs of jeans were massacred in the honourable pursuit of making my Boro Denim Bag pattern.
Repurposing projects are among my favourites, and it was exciting to see the ladies’ bags grow in a very organic, non-prescriptive way.
While some of the techniques are the same e.g. ‘quilt as you go’ and measured bag construction, each bag looks uniquely different because of the different denim placements and features used.
Like an archeological dig, there was much excavating through the pile of jeans for pockets, loops, leather labels and interesting design features which were rescued and treasured for embellishing the bags!
Doesn’t Glenda looked pleased with her finished bag!
There are a few more bags that are still in the making, but to all my ‘bag ladies’ I’d like to say a big well done on your repurposing and bag making skills! The variety and creativity you showed in the hand and machine quilting of your bags was inspiring!
If you would like to have a go at your own Denim Boro bag, you can find the pattern here.
(Newsletter subscribers will have received a 50% off coupon code for this pattern in the Autumn ’19 edition – expires 25th Sept.)
This project was all about accuracy, both in cutting and piecing lots of triangles (with pesky bias edges). Everyone found it a little tricky at one stage or another, learning how to create pointy points, correct fabric placement or bringing the blocks in on size.
But I’m so proud of my ladies for rising to the challenge and pushing through their comfort zones to accomplish a more advanced pattern.
Here are a few finishes and progress shots, but there are quite a few more still in the ‘Work In Progress’ category!
I’m hoping with the summer recess I’ll see a few more Monsoon and Frost finishes by September!
If you would like to make your own version of Monsoon or Frost, the pattern is available here.
Last week in classes I taught a short lesson on the Log Cabin Family of blocks!
I’m going to take you through the 3 main categories in a series of posts, with a mystery post to finish the series!
Part 1: Log Cabin
Part 2: Courthouse Steps
Part 3: Pineapple
Part 4: Watch this space!
I demonstrated a few variations within each category, but there are many more than what I can show you here (follow the Pinterest links for lots more inspiration!).
(All the sample blocks have been made using Handmade by Makower)
Part 1: Log Cabin
The standard log cabin block starts with a square centre (traditionally this would have been red) adding ‘logs’ around the centre square (either clockwise or anti-clockwise) in rounds. All the logs are the same width.
The traditional log cabin block was the first block I learned, and made a little quilt for my young daughter using chopped up clothes and linens!
You can find a tutorial on how to make a 12″ traditional block here.
2 Colour Rounds:
This variation of Log Cabin follows exactly the same construction as the traditional version, but keeping the fabric choice of each round the same.
Just a change of fabric placement dramatically changes the look of this block. Here’s another similar example, the back of quilt I made several years ago.
If you enjoy a little ‘improv’ piecing then how about a Wonky Log Cabin!
Again the logs are added in rounds, but this time, the sides are sliced at irregular angles before adding the next log.
While strips are useful to start with here, the width of the finished logs will be varied. No two blocks will be the same!
This can be a really fun block to make if you like a little more ‘freedom’ in your piecing. Just keep adding rounds until your block is a little bigger than you need, then square it off to the required size.
Here’s an example of a Wonky Log Cabin Quilt I made for Quilt Now Magazine several years ago.
To achieve a curved effect in a Log Cabin block, the background logs must be thinner than the coloured logs.
The curved effect becomes more obvious when you put 4 blocks together to create a ‘circle’:
The bigger the difference between the widths of the background and coloured logs, the greater the curve!
There are lots more variations of Log Cabin, like the Quarter Log Cabin (adding logs to the same two adjacent sides each round, rather than to all four sides) ….
(Quarter Log Cabin Cushion tutorial available here.)
….. or how about starting your Log Cabin block with a different shape!!
This week saw the end of our current block of classes.
The optional class project was all about Triaxial and Basket Weaving.
I had made 3 class samples to showcase the different types of fabric weaving I would be teaching, but as you will see, a few creative minds didn’t stop there!
Aren’t they stunning! A few little notebook covers didn’t manage the photoshoot, but I’m sure you can guess how wonderful they are!
In the end, we were unable to source Wefty weaving needles here in the UK, and while we managed pretty well instead with large safety pins, the Wefty needles are certainly advantageous when it comes to the more complex triaxial weave. I would definitely recommend these genius little tools!
So a huge well done to my weaving ladies for stepping up to the challenge (especially when it came to triaxial weaving!) and producing beautiful work!
And of course, these weren’t the only projects being worked on! Well done to all my other ladies on your pre-Easter finishes.
I hope you all have a wonderfully creative and choccy-filled Easter break!
(Classes resume w/c 29th April – booking available here.)
Already we are coming to the end of our first block of 2019 classes. This week we will wrap up our Necessary Clutch wallets and New Year projects.
I can’t wait to show you all the finished clutches!
And I’m a little bit excited to show you our (optional) class project for the Feb-April block.
In our next block of classes I will be showing 3 different weaving techniques, 2 of which use the Wefty Weaving Needle.
A Wefty Needle comes in 2 sizes, 1″ and 0.5″ and enables weaving both simple and complex designs with little/no fabric waste.
Once you have a deliciously woven panel you can turn it into a pretty basket, a tactile cushion, a useful notebook cover, anything you like!
I’ll have notes available on how to make my 3 examples, but you don’t have to stick to these projects. Just check out my Weaving Pinterest Board for lots more mind blowing inspiration!
Linen Basket Weave Cushion
This is a beginner friendly project, keeping the strips wider and easy to weave into a traditional basket weave pattern.
We don’t use the Wefty Needle on this project, a large safety pin will suffice, though there will be a little fabric waste at the end of each woven strip.
And if you haven’t already them sussed, how about trying some buttonholes and self covered buttons as your cushion closure?
Houndstooth Journal Cover
These 0.5″ strips are woven with the Wefty Needle into a houndstooth pattern.
Again we are using a traditional basket weave here, but clever placement of strips produces the secondary pattern.
I turned my woven panel into a journal cover (my notebook cover pattern is available here), but you could easily use this as a decorative panel in a bag or add some borders for a textured placemat or cushion.
Triaxial Woven Basket
Triaxial means 3 angles. Unlike a basket weave (with only vertically and horizontally woven strips) triaxial weaving involves strips woven at vertical and 2 thirty degree angles.
For my cute basket I’ve used the 1″ Wefty Needle. Triaxial weaving is more complex than basket weaving designs, but once you get your head around it, there are many more amazing designs which can be produced from the 3 angles.
So if you fancy a spot of weaving over the next 7 weeks, or just want to carve out some therapeutic sewing time to work on other projects, why not come join the fun and book into one of our 6 weekly classes.
What an amazing year it has been, both inside the classroom and outside it!
One of my professional highlights in 2018 was attending Patchwork in the Peaks Quilters Retreat, Morzine, France, as guest tutor.
And on a personal level, hosting a memory quilt party for my special friend’s 50th birthday in February was a wonderful day!
Helping 2 charities, Shared Threads and Flourish, launch their new sewing initiatives, both aimed at improving the lives of women, locally and internationally was (and continues to be) a pleasure and a privilege.
Among the many highs and lows that come in a year, I’m reminded of my ‘word for the year’ back in January ’18 – RHYTHM.
I set a word at the start of each year to give me a focus to my professional and life goals.
After a massive year of change in 2017, I feel I definitely achieved some rhythm, allowing life to settle some, and to get into my stride with the new classroom and home.
Of course there were still changes in 2018, some happy, some sad, some expected, some unexecpted; the normalcy of life demands it.
But amidst it all, I have much to be thankful for and am content to leave 2018 with a smile, and embrace the exciting new chapter that is 2019.
Come back soon to find out all about my word for 2019!
What a wonderful term (& year!) it was! And I think, one of our most productive!
Here’s a little snapshot of some of the amazing makes my ladies have been beavering away at!
There are many more amazing projects and gifts that will be bringing smiles to lots of faces this Christmas.
Let’s just say there will some truly blessed recipients out there! My ladies are some of the most talented and generous people I know, and they have continued to inspire me all year!
For me, I plan to continue working on patterns, plans and projects for next year. But I will be taking a break over Christmas, to spend time with 2 of my girls, a little EPP, some reading and much needed rest!
Whatever you are planning over the next few weeks, I pray you will be happy and healthy!
Tweed is a favourite textile among many sewers, and mixed with pretty cottons and satin stitch applique, you have one gorgeous cushion!
(The pattern for Harriet Hare Cushion will be released after the workshop.)
At our Apron workshop in March there will be 2 styles to choose from – the Japanese style ‘Cross-over’ apron and my ‘Apron in Jar’, a practical and stylish apron which folds into a decorated mason jar for gifting.
The pattern for the Apron in a Jar includes a child’s size template and will be released after the workshop.
We wrap up our first term of ‘Sewing Saturdays’ with some folksy tea cosies.
Bring your teapot along to this workshop, and we will have fun appliqueing a ‘made to measure’ cosy for your pot.
I will be posting more information about each workshop nearer the time.
Places are limited, so book early (waiting lists available if fully booked). Just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Subscriber newsletters dispatched today – please check your inbox and junk folders!)
Exactly 1 year ago today I signed the contract and got the keys to my classroom in this stunning converted Victorian Linen Mill in Belfast!
After teaching in various places for more than 10 years, it was lovely to step into a bright a spacious room, which I knew would meet all our classroom needs.
The room takes 12 students per class, and we also have 5 separate cutting tables and 4 ironing stations.
The ‘Basting Bay’ gives the ladies room to spray baste their quilts, and the design wall facilitates the laying out of blocks and quilt design.
The ‘Tea/coffee’ making station is an essential feature (no mini-bar yet!) and I even have room for a themed display table and a small haberdashery and pattern shop.
I teach 6 weekly classes and monthly Saturday workshops from September to June, with a slightly different programme over the summer months.
Since I started the classes in January ’18, we have had a total of 203 weekly classes, 11 Saturday workshops, 1 50th birthday party and several charity sewing days!
Phew! What a brilliant year!
And to celebrate my first birthday in Conway Mill, we not only have chocolates in class, I’m also discounting all my online patterns by 50%. Just use the coupon code BIRTHDAY1 at the checkout (one use only).
Thank you to everyone for making this new venture an exciting and fulfilling one! I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!
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.
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 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!
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.
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!
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!
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
This wallhanging covers quilting and applique techniques. You can make it seasonal e.g. an Autumn tree, a Spring tree or perhaps a ‘Christmas Tree’! Or turn it into your Family Tree and embroidery names on the leaves!
Denim Sailboat Cushion:
If you like a spot of up-cycling, then why not turn some of your unwanted denim into this nautical themed cushion!
Have fun with ‘appli-quilting’, feature quilting and a little free motion sketching!
Kits will be available to purchase at the workshop.
Large Toiletry Bag:
This is a sizeable pouch, with room for all your bottles and toiletries!
There’s even a handy toothbrush and toothpaste bag, with wipeable rip-stop lining.
And don’t worry about that zipper! It’s easy peasy to put in!
So those are the fun workshops up for grabs! Places are limited, and a few of the workshops are already half booked, so please don’t leave it too long to sign up! Again, just drop me an email to email@example.com.
I’m so looking forward to getting started with my new classes in January. There aren’t many places left, so if you would like to join us for some creative craic, then please drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your patience in waiting until today for my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!
Well I can finally reveal that I will be starting up again my own programme of patchwork and quilting classes! Woohoo!
For the past 3 years I have been teaching in Quilter’s Quest, Belfast. But their announcement at the end of October to close gave me the push opportunity I needed to look elsewhere for premises.
Before I joined Quilter’s Quest, I had taught my own programme of classes for 5 years. A sudden change in personal circumstances meant I had to stop, but it was always my dream to one day return to inspiring and motivating others into Quilting through my own programme.
And now that dream is coming true!
Conway Mill is a beautifully converted Linen and Flax Mill (you can read more about their history and ethos here). It is jammed packed with lots of other creative enterprises, from artists, to architects, hairdressers, dressmakers, media tech, charities and much more! It also has the most gorgeous coffee shop & bistro too (that’s lunchtimes sorted then!). I’m on the 2nd floor, but don’t worry there are lifts and lots of convenient parking.
I acquired the last available unit, all 525 square feet of it! No pictures just yet as it needs painted and fitted out. But don’t worry, I’ll give you the obligatory before and after shots!
I will finish out the current term at Quilter’s Quest in December, and start my new programme w/c 8th January (get more details here).
But before that, I will be having an open day on Saturday 9th December, 10am -4pm. This is your opportunity to come and see the newly fitted out premises, get more info on the classes, have a cuppa, chat and a traybake (or two!) and smooch around the room and the Mill.
I hope you can come and share this exciting new adventure with me!
As I enjoy the wide open windows and the washing on the line, I’m also progressing well with packing up ready for moving house at the end of this month. A small challenge when there’s 15 years worth of ‘stuff’ to thin out ready for our down-size!
I have also packed up my sewing room, but not before I got a class sample finished for classes in the new term.
I’m a great admirer of Anna’s fabulous bag designs and patterns, and her Maker’s Tote is a particular favourite of mine. I’ve had it bookmarked for a while, but am only now getting around to making it!
I thought this would be a good bag pattern to teach in class because of the variety of bag construction elements and skills involved.
But of course I couldn’t just stick to the pattern, could I!
I love using denim for bags, it makes them more durable and useable in my view. And besides, I already had 2 ‘uneven brick’ panels sewn together for another project long forgotten! They were the perfect size, so I got to *quilting them, first in the ditches, and then some feature quilting using Aurifil 12wt wool thread.
*the original pattern uses a foam interfacing like Bosal to give structure and reinforcement to the bag. I wasn’t able to get any in time, so substituted with a layer of wadding and heavy weight sew-in vilene spray basted together.
The front and back of my bag are slightly different. I didn’t think the prescribed front pocket would work on my version of this bag, but I did include the zippered back pocket.
One of the joys of working with recycled denim is thinking of ways to use the loops, tabs and unusual features attached to a pair of jeans.
I decided my Maker’s Tote could be used as my everyday bag, not just a class sample, so I incorporated another one of my favourite textiles, vintage chintz linen.
A few vintage style Lecien prints coordinated beautifully for the internal pockets and facings.
The handles are made from a re-purposed denim belt, reinforced with webbing and lined with more of the chintz linen.
The belt was a little on the wide side, so by cinching in the edges along the top section, they are now the perfect fit for my hands and have lovely structure too!
The bag is finished off with self-made bias binding, another great skill to have under your belt. If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that the first lot of bias binding I made is different to the one on the finished bag!
I decided I didn’t like choice no.1 (after I had attached it!). In my opinion the chintz linen binding works much better, even though it was a little trickier to attach.
So there we have my version of Noodlehead’s Maker’s Tote! A fabulously roomy bag, gorgeous shape, and versatile elements.
And I’ll leave you with an ‘out take’ of the ‘helper’ on my photo-shoot!
Today saw the end of another year of teaching my Patchwork and Quilting classes!
I teach 4 (sometimes 5) classes a week and the topics of conversation that take place are varied and entertaining!
To give you an idea, here are a few of my favourites:
English football (the less said the better!) The Great British Sewing Bee (and the ‘unique’ dress code of one of the judges!) How hot and wrinkled Egyptian cotton sheets can get (don’t ask!) How to treat achne! How to get rid of garden snails! How to disable your hockey opponent! Birthing calves and lambs (& babies!) 50 ways to deal with an unhelpful doctor (un-printable!)
Of course there are many serious and thought-provoking conversations too!
Today one lady said ‘getting old isn’t for wimps’, which was swiftly followed by murmurs of agreement from around the room.
I’ve just had another birthday, and while ‘half way to 90’ isn’t old, neither am I young.
My daughter and nephew also celebrating birthdays this month!
In truth this statement could apply to life – ‘doing life isn’t for wimps’. Among the 48 ladies I have the privilege of teaching each week, some are battling cancer or illness, divorce and loss, children with special needs, caring for elderly parents, teenagers, anxiety, worry and fear and many more life challenges.
One of our recent chats in class was about how to get through life with a positive attitude, seeing good and bad times as an opportunity to grow and learn, and how to have courage to live life with intention and purpose. How inspiring!
Doing life, and doing it well, isn’t for whimps! But each week my ladies turn up to class with a smile; they laugh, chatter, encourage, cajole, drink tea, eat biscuits and even sew a little!
They are choosing to do life, and do it well. There are certainly no wimps in my classes!!
Thank you ladies for sharing your thoughts, talents, hearts and authenticity each week.