Brrrrrrrrrr!! No draughts here thank you!

….Not in this owner’s home anyway! I made this a little while back (as a Christmas pressy actually) for someone who a) had a draughty home and b) also liked sewing and knitting. And what could be more perfect!

I love the detail you can get with free-hand machine applique! And I love these bright colours of the sewing items, of which I tried to include recognisable items; things I’m pretty sure every sewer owns…a pin cushion, those scissors!

The most wonderful time of the year…

So here it is…the 1st of December! Whilst I am, as every year, like ‘woahhh how did that get here?’, this year I’m embracing it and have, in fact been Christmassing it up for the past few weeks.

My attic room has turned into santa’s workshop, the dog is covered in red and green thread, and there are a herd of reindeer and choir of angels in the form of Christmas stockings dispatched and making their way across the country.

I have been making stockings now for the past few years and seem to get more popular every year! However, in addition to the stockings I’ve made an extra Christmassy item this year which I’m pretty pleased with so I thought I’d share, and to decorate my not-very-festive blog.

And, what is more fitting for the 1st of December than an advent calendar…

All that’s needed now are the choccies!

Nicholas’s Quilt

G’day! Oooh how I wish I was in Australia right now with this blustery weather we’re having! Well just let this cheery brightness add some sunshine to your day instead…

My latest baby quilt is for Nicholas, son of my friend’s Laura and Frenchie (aka Richard) who turned the special age of 1 year old in October. Laura and Frenchie, originally from Birmingham, now live all the way across the other side of the world in Australia so this quilt has gone across sea and land to reach them.

I love the colours – quite different to what I normally use, but with Birch Organic’s prints of camping, guitars, trees, birds, I think is gorgeous, and the orange-brightness I felt fit with the ‘sunny-ness’ people tend to associate with Australia.

I used both traditional applique as well as free-hand machine applique, and felt and fabric to decorate the four outer patches: the rocket, the hot air balloon, the teepee, and the boat. I’m currently loving quotes from Dr Seuss so included ‘Oh, the places you’ll go’ with the hot air balloon.

Central, as per is the norm on my baby quilts, is Nicholas’ name. And…I had to squeeze something Aussie in there…hence the cheeky felt koala.

Shirts and Swim Shorts: A Memory Blanket

I am so pleased to have been the creator of this colourful, but seemingly trivial item, that has brought brightness, warmth and comfort to a friend who sadly lost her dad a few months a go.

When my friend Di asked if I’d make her a blanket and cushions out of some of her dad’s clothes, whilst I was a little nervous about it (I mean…what if I cut up his clothes to find I couldn’t make them come together into something nice?!), how could I say no! I not only thought this was such a lovely idea, I knew how much it mean’t to Di to not have to give everything of his away but recycle them into something she could keep, use and look at every day as a little memory.

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My first worries were: would the different materials sew well together? Would there be enough variation in patterns, colours etc, to make a good pattern? Would I get enough material worth using once I’d cut off the cuff, placket, collars, pockets etc?

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Fortunately, Di’s dad obviously had good taste and a vibrancy of style…the colours of this shirts were great (not just a variation of blue had they been my dad’s!) and his swim shorts…well, we’re talking neon orange, illuminous blue, aqua green and cerise red! And turns out there was plenty of material to go around.

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I started by cutting up everything into squares of equal size. I didn’t know as yet how much I’d have of each so unsure of pattern to do. Creating the pattern, so that I had enough of the same fabrics to make diagonal rows, was like solving a giant floor puzzle. Once the pattern was all laid out and I was happy with the distribution of colours: mixing the brights of his swim shorts and the pastel shades of his shirts with a few different tones of grey from his trousers, the sewing began. (I also included a little cheeky pocket and motif from the shorts!)

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For the backing I used a simple grey and white floral print that complemented the front but also matched Di’s bedroom colour scheme. Di also asked if I would put, somewhere, somehow a little message that read ‘Goodnight, Good Bless’ – words that Di and her dad used to regularly say to each other, onto the back of the blanket so she would see it when she turned the blanket down as she went to bed each night.

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After quilting, I edged the whole thing in a mixture of his ties, which I actually think looks totally fab!

As well as the blanket, I made a couple of cushions using the same shirt patches for the front and using Di’s dad knitted sweaters for the back.

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Everyone who I mentioned to that I was making this thought it was such a lovely idea. And, the best part of all was giving the shirts and swim shorts (and trousers, ties and sweaters!) back to Di in their new form…and of course there were tears of both happiness and sadness.

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Mary’s Duffle Bag

About four years ago I was selling some crafts at a charity fair in Otley. One customer, Tricia, bought a kid’s duffle bag for her grandson Thomas; she recently contacted me again – this time to ask if I could make her another one for her granddaughter Mary. It had come in very useful for nursery apparently, with the little pocket on the front the perfect size for an exercise book.

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Tricia was happy for me to choose the fabric, colours and design on the front. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…I find sewing for girls so much easier than for boys!

The fabric I selected was a cream cotton canvas (hard-wearing!) featuring a cute red-riding hood style print, that I purchased from Etsy, and a contrasting red and white ditsy floral print for the lining and pocket (from my local fabric shop B&M Fabric in Leeds).

I decorated the pocket with Mary’s name, a couple of cute flowers and buzy bee using felt and hand embroidery.

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A little feedback on receiving the bag…‘Thank you for sending the lovely bag – the colours are great! I waited for Kate [Mary’s mummy] to visit us this week so that she could open it – she was thrilled with it!’

 

 

A Splash of Colour

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For my wedding back in 2011 I made over 100 placemats – using six different fabrics and each having a little ‘thank you for coming to our wedding’ label stitched in (for our guest to take away). Even now when I pop round to friends and family’s houses, I see them used: if not for dinner, being given the honour of protecting tables from various household items – which is actually kind of nice.

My friend Sarah and her handy-man husband Glen have recently refurbished their kitchen/dining area and Sarah asked me to make a table runner and six mats, requesting ‘something like my wedding ones‘: different but coordinating fabric for the top, same spotty fabric on the underside. I had a look around and gave Sarah some nice fabric options, of which she chose a selection from the Amy Butler Hapi range.

I used each different fabric per placemats and with the spare fabric (from each fat quarter) I cut into patches to create the runner, that was just short of 2m long. As well as the mats, I quilted the runner so it was nice and padded to protect Sarah’s lovely table. For the backing of all the mats and runner, I used a Kaffe Fassett blue spot fabric, that coordinated nicely with the colours of the Amy Butler’s.

I didn’t actually take any photos of these myself but Sarah sent me some of them in action…

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Eve’s Quilt

This one has been long overdue! Why is it family get put to the bottom of the list? Well, I’m sorry to say, this has been the case for my sister’s little ones. Whilst many of my good friends have received baby quilts for their babies, be it as a first birthday gift or [time allowing] a newborn gift, they’ve still received one before my own blood!

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My niece Eve has just turned one and in the run up to her birthday, I was determined to get this one made. My sister is a big fan of Belle and Boo and has various items to decorate Eve’s nursery with. As a surprise for her birthday (well, I guess mainly for my sister…pretty boring pressies for a baby!) from my parents, Eve’s grandparents, I was asked to make curtains, bunting and a cushion using the Belle and Boo fabric.

And to add to this was my quilt made up of the Belle and Boo fabric and a range of matching others. Picking colours of fabrics that matched was the tricky part! I choose a range of Riley Blake fabrics from my local fabric shop in Leeds that matched various colours in the main fabric: pinks, teals and orange/red.

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On seeing a previous quilt (Annabelle’s I think), I remember Alex, my sister, said she really liked the birds so I wanted to include these.
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I wanted to feature bunnies and a little girl to tie in with the Belle and Boo print. The bunnies I’ve sewn similar before but the little girl and the tree were a new design. Her face is a little more serious than I would have liked though.
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The middle square’s feature is obviously Eve’s name and that’s how I wanted it – to stand out, but alone, it would have looked a little lonely so I’ve framed ‘Eve’ with pretty flowers and cute little bumble bees. The majority of the designs I’ve created with free-hand machine applique which I think, especially for the girl and bees, would have been the only sewing style that would have worked.

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So that’s it, it’s finally made. Now I just have my Nephew’s to do – Jacob has waited almost four years for his so sure he won’t mind waiting a little longer!

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Tiana’s Quilt

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My most recent quilt was for Tiana, my friend Kal’s little girl, who was one year old this week. Tia and Jesse have been the cutest little friends in their first year together whilst Kal and myself hung out lots on our maternity leave, taking walks, attending baby classes, sharing baby worries and funnies and, most of all, eating a lot of cake!

The colours I chose for this quilt – pink, turquoise, orange and red, I think are perfect for Tia: girly, gorgeous and bright. They are all by Riley Blake, that I got from my local, and favourite, place to get fabrics: B&M fabrics, who are located in Leeds Market but have also just opened a second shop on the outside of the market selling designer prints…I’m a regular visitor!

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I used a pinwheel pattern for the patchwork around the edge, Tia’s name in the middle, surrounded by some appliqué lotus flowers: a symbol for prosperity, fertility, eternity, and eternal youth.

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Unlike the quilts I’ve made previously, where I’ve sewn the designs using either regular appliqué or free-hand machine appliqué, for Tia’s I couldn’t quite decide which; so I used both!

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As well as machine quilting the pinwheel patches, I hand stitched a running stitch around each of the nine centre patches using embroidery thread of alternating colours. I love doing this stitch as I think it really adds an extra bit of detail.

The orange floral fabric that surrounds the centre panel also backs the entire quilt and I’ve edged it in cream lace binding (which I love using on girly quilts).

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Pretty Drawstring Bag Tutorial

SONY DSCThis pattern is a real favourite of mine and have used it sooooo many times for a range of different types of bags. It’s really easy, quick and can be adapted to suit whatever size you want to make (or fabric you have spare!)

You will need:

  • Fabric for your outer
  • Fabric for your lining
  • Small piece Bondaweb
  • Coordinating ribbon
  • Coordinating thread
  • Chalk and a pencil
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine, pins and needles
  • Iron

SONY DSC1. Cut out your pieces of outer and lining.
Fold your fabric in half, right sides together and cut a rectangle (the size of mine is 14.5 inches x 11 inches). Repeat with your lining fabric so you have four rectangles in total.

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2. Add your applique shape to your bag.
On the paper side of your Bondaweb, draw the shape you want to add to your bag – I’ve decided to draw a pair of pants!

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Place your Bondaweb, glue side down (paper side up) onto the wrong side of a small piece of contrasting fabric – I’m using the same fabric as my lining. Press for a few seconds, until the Bondaweb sticks to the fabric.

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Cut out your shape and peel away the papery backing of the Bondaweb.

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Place your shape (pants) onto one piece of your outer fabric and press, so the shape sticks.
Using a contrasting colour thread and a small zig zag stitch on your sewing machine, stitch around the shape.

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Tip: When you get to the corners of your shape, stop sewing, leave the needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot up and spin the fabric to the direction you need to continue to sew.

Snip your threads to neaten.
Here, I’ve decided to add a little bow to my pants. I made the little bow from ribbon and hand stitched it to the outer fabric.

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3. Sewing your outer and linings together.

Place one piece of your outer fabric, right sides together with a piece of your lining fabric.

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Pin across the top (the short side of the rectangle).
Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew across the top, attaching one piece of your outer fabric with one piece of your lining fabric.

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Repeat the above steps with the other outer and lining piece.
Press your seams open. You should now have two sides of the bag (made up of one outer and one lining).

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4. Sewing your bag together.

With right sides together, place one side of the bag on top of the other, with the outers facing and the linings facing (so here we have the florals on top of each other, and the spots on top of each other).

SONY DSCLine up the seam and pin all around the bag.
Using a ruler, measure 1 inch either side of the seam line and make a chalk mark. Repeat this on either side of the bag.

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SONY DSCStarting at the bottom of the lining, sew all around the bag, stopping and starting at each chalk mark (so you have a gap 2 inches wide over the seam line). Stop sewing about 2 inches before you get to where you started (so you have a gap for turning the bag the right way round). Stay stitch (sew a few stitches forward and backwards) at the beginning and at the end. Snip your threads.

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SONY DSCTip: Use a larger seam allowance on the bottom lining of your bag – this way, the bag lining will fit better inside the outer.

Trim your excess at the bottom of your lining.

SONY DSC5. Turn your bag the right way round.

Press the seams open of the gaps you made in the bag.

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Snip all four corners.

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Pull the bag through the gap at the bottom of the lining.

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Press your bag, paying attention to the gaps, so all the bits that need to be tucked in are!
Hand sew closed the opening in your lining.

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Using a contrasting coloured thread, starting on one side of the channel (the bit where we will be threading the ribbon around the top of the bag), top stitch all around the top of your bag. Stay stitch at the beginning and end.

SONY DSCUsing a safety pin attached to one end of your ribbon, thread it through one opening at the side of your bag and all the way around the top of your bag, through the channel, and out of the other opening on the same side you started. Cut the ribbon and tie the ends together.

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SONY DSCYou could finish here and have just one tie, I like to have two, one on either side, so I threaded another length of ribbon around the top of the bag, through the opening on the opposite side of the bag.

Beautiful! You’ve made a little pants bag.

This tutorial is really versatile; you can adapt the size, colours, applique shape and it can have a multiple of uses; I’ve made a number of these for underwear bags, smaller ones for gift bags and larger ones for laundry bags and even Santa sacks.

Use two contrasting fabrics on the outer and change the applique shape to suit…this bag below was for my mum who asked me to make her another after I gave her one for her birthday and she likes it so much!

Add a pocket…

The possibilities are endless!