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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
How is your week going so far? I hope you are getting time to fit in a little sewing therapy!
My eldest daughter has recently started to work for me on a part-time basis, which frees me up to attend to pressing deadlines! Oh how I love having a creatively talented assistant!!
Last summer I was asked by the fabric distributor Makower UK if I would consider coming on board as one of their designers!
I said yes straight away, and my first design for them is not only available for free on their website, but is also featured in the current issue of Quilt Now magazine.
Not only that, if you are a regular watcher of Sewing Quarter (Freeview channel 78) you may have seen Kitty featured! It gets a mention in the programme introduction, and then has a much lengthier feature with sections of the quilt demonstrated here.
This medallion quilt is based around a panel, which I chopped up and spaced out with sashing.
Simple checkboards and drunkard’s path scallops create the feature borders.
So if you love your feline friends, I know you’ll fall in love with this fabric collection.
And if you didn’t want to make a big quilt, why not make the central panelled section as a cute baby quilt instead! Purrrrrrfect!
A few weekends a go I taught my first ‘Rockin’ Robin’ workshop at the Northern Ireland Patchwork Guild.
The ladies were a joy to teach and totally embraced the ‘mixed textiles’ vibe. 12 cute Robins adorned the table at the end of the workshop!
I’ll also be teaching this project in my weekly classes, in the run up to Christmas.
I can’t wait to see many more versions of my Robin cushion appearing here, there and everywhere!
I’ve put together some Robin Cushion kits, using my wonderful collection of tweeds, flannel, linen and vintage cotton. The kits include everything you need to make the cushion front, including the pompom berries, pattern and already enlarged template.
Stuck for a gift idea or fancy having a go yourself? You can get your hands on one of my Robin kits here, but be quick – they are flying out the door fast!
It’s almost the end of my teaching term here in Belfast. There has been a hive of activity across my 4 classes and it’s always a joy seeing completed quilts, bags, wallhangings and more.
This term, a number of my ladies have been making the Sew Together Bag, by Sew Demented.
The first Sew Together Bag I made at Brit Bee Retreat. While there were a few sections of the pattern which could have been better illustrated, I was able to independently complete the bag (with only a couple of peeks at my friend’s pouch!).
I’ve designed and made many pouches and bags, but my classes are mixed abilities. So by way of preparation for teaching this pattern, I knew I needed to make another bag, taking additional notes, tips and improvements for my ladies.
I love Chevron quilts! They are simple to make and are so versatile in providing many different designs.
One of the simplest ways to make chevrons is using half square triangles, and with clever fabric placement, or mixing up your fabric ‘values’ (low volume, high volume) you can achieve all sorts of wonderful patterns.
When the editor of Popular Patchwork sent me her mood board for the April issue, the colours were earthy and saturated and I saw a glimpse of a chevron pattern in there.
So I pulled out all my Kona solids that fit the brief and went to work designing a chevron inspired quilt.
For me these colours represent transition – moving out of a long dark winter and into the new life of spring. Little hits of prints mixed in with the solids are like those glimpses of colour and growth you see coming out in the garden at this time of year.
I wanted to break up the continuity of the half square triangle chevrons with narrower rows, and so designed a simple foundation pieced template for these. If you’ve never tried foundation piecing before, this would be a great, non-threatening project to start with!
Foundation piecing is a little more time consuming than normal piecing, but it’s definitely worth it to get those crisp, sharp points!
The organic wavy quilting lines create a sense of movement through the angular peaks and troughs of the chevrons. And I backed it with trusty Ikea Numbers cotton.
The magazine also includes a double page feature on how to style a room around Chevron Heaven! What a neat idea!
The April issue of Popular Patchwork is in the shops now!
Hi everyone, I hope your week is going well. Can you believe it’s December tomorrow?!
And you know what that means!!
Giveaway time! I’ll be announcing the winner of my Tula Pink giveaway tomorrow evening, so if you haven’t already entered, just sign up for my newsletter (right) and/or like my Facebook page here.
And 18 fat quarters aren’t the only free items I’m giving away!
How about a free pattern?
This is my Storage Caddy, as seen in Pretty Patches Magazine.
It is 7″ tall with 7″ diameter and can be used to keep lots of bits and bobs in order. You could use it in the sewing room, the nursery, the bathroom, even on your bedroom dressing table!
This pattern will give you a flavour of how I structure and present all my patterns.
So if you fancy having a go at this ‘beginner friendly’ pattern it is available for free download here.
(If you have trouble downloading the pattern, please let me know and I will email the pattern to you. We have been having a few teething problems on the new site, but are working hard to get you a fully functional service!)
At the start of my patterns, you get a ‘Good to Know’ section (you can see this section before purchasing). This is where you can get all the essential information e.g. if a zipper foot is required, main techniques, best fabrics to use etc.
The rest of the pattern is then made up of the following headings:
There are step by step colour photos throughout the Make It section, and all templates have been professionally art-worked.
I have worked hard to ensure that my patterns are as easy to follow as I can make them. It is my desire that you can use a pattern confidently at home, without needing a teacher on hand to make sense of it!!
But I’m always up for constructive feedback! Let me know what you think of the Storage Caddy pattern, or any others.
As a pattern writer, I’m always interested in how other designers and companies rate their patterns according to ability levels.
Until now, I have been reserved about ‘grading’ my patterns.
You see, unless I know your background and attitude to sewing, it would be hard to recommend to you a ‘beginner’, ‘intermediate’ or ‘advanced’ quilting pattern.
I’ve been teaching people to sew and quilt for nearly 8 years. I’ve seen complete beginners take on technical patterns with a ‘bring it on’ attitude and totally nail it. I’ve seen seasoned sewists attempt beginner level techniques for the first time and have near nervous break-downs! And I’ve seen everything in between.
One thing I’ve learned is that your APPROACH and ATTITUDE to your learning is key!
Yes of course we have different learning styles; yes of course we have our preferred techniques and comfort zones. Sometimes additional support or explanation is needed from others, and of course experience can count for something. But never underestimate the power of a mind that is open and teachable to new things. (I also find a healthy dose of patience and determination go a long way too!)
No matter how long I’ve been sewing for, I still have much to learn. When I try out a new technique for the first time, I become a beginner all over again!
We all have different perspectives of what these terms mean. I get ‘beginners’ in my classes who have never used a rotary cutter before, and some who have; some already know how to use a sewing machine and some don’t! Some know what quarter inch seams and fat quarters are, and others look at me like I’ve got 2 heads! The term ‘beginner’ can be quite a broad umbrella!
Trying to define such subjective terms as ‘beginner’, ‘intermediate’ or ‘advanced’ within nebulus parameters isn’t always helpful. For instance, a pattern marketed as ‘intermediate’ or ‘advanced’ may put off someone who has been sewing for only a short time (and yet would be more than able to complete it), or someone who has been sewing for years but hasn’t tried much variety in their sewing. Equally, a ‘beginner’ graded pattern may rob a veteran sewer of the joy of a satisfyingly quick and uncomplicated make (my favourite kind!).
I appreciate that guidelines are sometimes needed, even if they are out in the ball park somewhere! I’m not against patterns being graded (though perhaps a more informative explanation should be given about the techniques involved, rather than just the typical 2 out of 5 stars/spools/scissors rating for example.)
What I’m not keen on is someone else, like me, or any other pattern writer, telling YOU what you are capable of achieving or not achieving. YOU are in charge of your learning.
So my questions to you are these?
How helpful are pattern gradings to you?
Do you pay much attention to them?
Would you like to see more of them?
Do you find a disparity between the levels across different pattern producers?
Do you define your sewing ability by one of these categories?
I’m keen to hear your thoughts on this. At the moment I”m reviewing some of my existing patterns and writing new ones! Your comments will help me enormously.