Thursday, 14 May 2020

The Hope in the Stars Mystery Quilt


For my latest free pattern to my Newsletter Subscribers, which is totally free to join, I have decided to host a block-of-the-fortnight mystery quilt. I know our world is on the verge of slowly getting back to some sort of normality, but I think it's going to take a long time, and is also going to be quite a stressful time for us all. And my best cure for stress? Hand sewing of course! Many of us will still be remaining at home as much as possible with time on our hands, so I'm releasing a block a fortnight to see us through the summer, hopefully sat in the sunny garden.

My Lockdown Sewdown quilt, otherwise known as Hope in the Stars, is made up of nine different blocks made using the traditional hand-piecing method - I know, not EPP!! What is wrong with me?!! I have recently fallen back in love with this technique and wanted to feature it in this glorious stars quilt. I have made two versions, one in Alison Glass's Sun Prints and the second in Edyta Sitar's Super Bloom, both fat quarter bundles are available on the websiteI also have a set of pre-cut card templates to make life even easier, also available on the website.




Here is a pic of the first block, the Blazing Star, I love the 3D effect created by careful fabric placement. Once all blocks are made up, you will then have a few options of layout, all to be revealed at the end, so if you would like to join us in this hand sewing mystery adventure, why not sign up now

I hope you are all keeping well and have this glorious sunshine, even if it is a little nippy. Stay safe and best wishes to you all xx

Linking up with Midweek Makers and Needle & Thread Thursday.



Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Scrubs Bags Tutorial

How are we all? I hope you are all keeping well and nicely occupied with a good sewing project or four :) We're doing ok, Justin is able to work from home so can have his favourite Radio 6 on in the background, and I'm still quite busy with internet orders, while planning a hundred new patterns and kits in my head! We've also been working in the garden. We only moved into this house back in September, so it's been a lovely surprise to see what's been coming up in the garden - this Montana clematis is stunning and these tulips are definitely still my favourite flower!



Last week I dropped off my set of scrub bags to my local contact, she lives within walking distance so it was nice to have a walk out. Although it was only a meagre amount compared to some other amazing sewers, I was quite overwhelmed by the response by the lovely lady who told me how so many of the nurses and key workers were immensely grateful for the bags - as I explained last week, they use the bags to hold their dirty scrubs in to take home and wash, and are able to throw the whole lot in the washer without contaminating anything in their homes. I've even been approached on Instagram to make some for someone's mum and her friends who are all nurses.



So I have raided my own stash this time and grabbed some old bolts off the shelf to make lots more, there does seem to be talk about them not being needed anymore, but this certainly isn't true, they are very much needed and greatly appreciated, as are actual scrubs, headbands with buttons, scrub caps and mask extenders. John Scott of John Scott's Sewing World has a great video on how to make the scrub bag, and also the cap and headband, which you can watch on his Facebook page here. However, I thought I would write a blog about how I have made a scrub bag following John's excellent pattern - mine are a little larger finishing at approx 18" x 20". I did start off cutting half metres of fabric and then washing them, only to find they shrunk in the 60degree wash, so the bags turned out too small! So now I cut approximate 70cm lengths and pre-wash at 60degrees before doing any sewing. 

Give your fabric a good hot press and lay it out folded, selvedge to selvedge as it would be on the bolt of fabric, and trim to a 60cm length. Using your quilter's ruler to square up, cut along the fold and trim off the selvedges - which should be approx. 20" x 24" each.



Use either an overlocker or your sewing machine to secure all four edges on each piece. I have a special foot and stitch on my machine, but you can also use a normal zig zag stitch.



Pin your two pieces right sides together. Then using a pencil mark 3.5" and 4.5" marks from the top edge on both sides.



Take it to the machine and starting with a backstitch to secure, sew down to your first mark, backstitch again to secure and break thread. The seam allowance doesn't have to be exact, just consistent, so I used the right side of my foot as a guide against the edge of the fabric. Lift the needle and start again at the second pencil mark, backstitching again to secure, then continue down the whole side. Repeat on the other side of our bag.



Press both seams open.



Now take it back to the machine and top stitch down both sides of the seam, catching the pressed edge underneath. You will see you have a nice neatly sewn line either side of the hole left for the straps. Repeat with the other side.



Take your bag to the ironing board and fold down and press a quarter of an inch hem along the top edge - make sure this is the edge nearest the strap holes. Then fold down another 2 and a quarter inch hem - I use my mum's old seam guide for this, a very nifty tool which I'm sure she doesn't know I have :) 



Topstitch approximately an eighth of an inch from the top edge of the bag. Then topstitch along the bottom of the hemmed edge catching the quarter inch fold underneath, then finally topstitch around the top again, just above the top of the hole left for the straps.



Pin and sew the bottom seam of your bag. To make a boxed bottom, open out the bag so you can match the side seams to the bottom seam. Insert a pin into the side seam about 2 inches from the bottom and bring it out through the bottom seam creating a triangle at the bag's corner. Flatten so you can insert the pin fully. Then draw a 2 inch mark along both diagonal edges from the corner, and draw a line across joining both points. 



Sew along this drawn line starting and stopping with a back stitch to secure. Turn your bag right sides out to make sure you're happy with the box bottom, then turn inside out again and snip off the excess leaving a quarter inch seam allowance. Secure this edge with your overlocker or a zig zag stitch as before.



For the straps, cut three 2 and half inch x width of fabric strips, at least 42 inches. Cut one in half, and attach one half to the end of one full strip using diagonal seams as you would for quilt binding. Trim off the excess seam allowance, and press open. Fold the strap in half and press.  Unfold and then refold each edge to that centre crease, and press. Open out so you can fold in each end and press, then refold.



Finally fold the whole strip in half again and press firmly, preferably with steam. Take to the machine and sew down the whole length, backstitching at both ends to secure. As I have folded in both ends which should be caught in the sewing, I didn't bother sewing across the ends, but you can if you wish. Repeat with for the second strap.



Attach a safety pin to the end of a strap and feed it through the first hole in the channel at the top of your bag, bring the strap all the way round to come out of the same hole. Then feed the second strap in and out of the other hole. Even up the ends, then tie them into a knot, pull them to close the bag your and your scrub bag is complete! These would also make gorgeous Christmas gift bags as well wouldn't they!



If you would like to make scrub bags or any of the much needed PPE equipment for our amazing frontline workers, start by finding out if there is a local group who are collecting items to distribute to those who need them in your area. I found the awesome Making Scrubs for James Cook JCUH on Facebook so there may be similar groups on there. If you can't find any, you can send them straight to John Scott who is collecting them for Dulcie Scott's national charity Helping Dress Medics - John Scott's Sewing World, PO Box 6688, Stratford on Avon, CV37 1TZ.

Wishing you all a safe and peaceful week, stay safe xx

Linking up with Monday Making, Midweek Makes and Needle & Thread Thursday


Thursday, 23 April 2020

Appliqué points tutorial

How are we all doing? I do hope you're all keeping well and finding some much needed calm and sanity in your sewing. When I've not been processing orders, I've been working on some new kits to help inspire my customers, many of who are going through their stash and UFOs very quickly indeed! I also have many new customers who are using this down time to finally get round to learning how to quilt, which is amazing!! My Beginner's Quilt Kits are ideal places to start. I now just have to get on with some new kits to help them develop theirs skills even further... hahah!

Many customers are also finding solace in my EPP cushion kits, not only are they small do-able projects, but as I said in my last post, hand sewing really does help centre the mind and shut out the world for a little while, something we all need at the moment.



Once the EPP is complete on my Cushion and EPP kits, you then have to appliqué the panel onto background fabric, and I have often been asked how to deal with the 'dog ears' and how to get nice sharp points. I have now included this in my kit instructions, but I thought I would also share a little tutorial here.

Once you have centred and pinned or basted your panel onto your background fabric, you will use a tiny slip stitch to sew it down. Knot the end of the thread and bring your needle up from behind the background fabric. Pick up a couple of strands of fabric from the very edge of your pieced panel, then insert your needle directly downwards back into the background fabric. Travel a tiny way along behind the background fabric and bring the needle up again to pick up the edge of the pieced unit again, and as before go straight downwards into the background. The smaller the stitches the more invisible they will be.



When you get to a point, you will have a flap of fabric in the way - these are called 'dog ears' and must be kept in tact - don't be tempted to snip them off, though if they are too large, you can trim them slightly. Fold the 'dog ear' to the left and out of the way and stitch up the folded point. 



Add a couple of stitches to strengthen the point, then tuck the dog ear underneath the panel and continue to sew down the next side. As you can see below, this gives you a nice sharp point to your shape.


Talking of EPP cushions, I have just released a pair of new kits in Riley Blake's Heart & Soul prints - a Diamond Star and a Hexy, which would make a lovely matching pair on a sofa. Each kit includes all the fabric for the front, pre-cut paper templates, embroidery thread and full instructions. Click here to find out more.



I know many of us have been putting our sewing skills to good use and making much needed PPE supplies for our wonderful workers on the frontline of this terrible pandemic. From scrubs to masks, headbands to scrub bags, I have seen some wonderful fabrics being brought out of the stash for this amazing cause. I myself have been making scrub and shoe bags which will be going to my local hospital James Cook in Middlesbrough. 


I really want to crochet some mask extenders too, it's been so long since I crocheted!  I have also just heard from a friend that she has the filter fabric needed for face masks available on her online shop Sewing Sanctuary, so maybe that's the next project... 

Wishing you all good health, and hours of sewing happiness and calm. xx

Linking up with Midweek Makers and Needle & Thread Thursday