Thursday 17 December 2015

My Christmas Project

I started working for myself over a year ago now, and while I’m loving every minute of it, I still can’t get used to when the holidays come round. With Christmas just over a week away I know many people are counting down the days until they ‘break up’ – obviously not everyone is lucky enough to have the week off, I used to work in publishing AND retail! Never again! And this may well be the reason why I feel guilty giving myself time off, am I an awful boss??

I know my body seems to be slowing down and not stressing as much as it usually does, so after a year of learning everything I know (up to now) about blogging, social media, designing and writing patterns, writing tutorials, designing a website and doing some actual quilting, I think I deserve a few days off…

Of course, when I say ‘off’, what I actually mean is finding something to do in front of the Christmas films on the TV! At this year’s Festival of Quilts, my treat to myself was Willyne Hammerstein’s wonderful Millefiori Quilts 2 book, which I bought along with the papers I need for the first project, from Lina’s Patchwork.  This young and growing business produces paper pieces in every shape you can imagine for English Paper Piecing. The paper is a slightly heavier weight so you can get those nice sharp points in your shapes. I was lucky enough to pick up the book and the papers set in one go, but since then it has sat on my shelf begging to be opened and tried - this is the plan for the next couple of weeks. 

I am using glue rather than thread basting, it's so much quicker, and I have checked that the glue does unstick! I’m also so glad to be finally using my Essex Linen from Robert Kaufman, so yummy, and what else to use with it but my Kona Solids… I still think it a little weird, if not magical, that I just happened to buy this Aurifil set in exactly the same colours as my Konas, how bizarre is that!?! These 50wt threads are absolutely perfect for English paper piecing. Will I ever get sick of these colours, I don’t think so!

During the last year I have met lots of lovely people both in person and online, and many have helped my on-going quilt and social media education, for which I am forever grateful. I did have big ideas of creating a lovely little stop-motion gif thing for my festive message, but sadly I think my efforts need a little work so I’ll leave you with the last pic in the stream… have a happy Christmas and a wonderfully crafty New Year. xx

Thursday 3 December 2015

Small Business Saturday Offer

How on earth did December come around so quickly!?! I guess I’ve been so busy lately concentrating on Stockton Sparkles Christmas Market, that I didn’t have time to think about what came after that! But then, before you know it, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are upon you, and suddenly it’s nearly Christmas.

I have to admit, I share many crafters’ and makers’ opinions on these two American phenomenons and feel I would be demeaning my handmade crafted items by offering discounts just to follow the crowd. I spend many hours designing and making, usually one-off items, that I think are worth the money I ask, I’ve often have very tight margins anyway due to the time it takes to make them. So I don’t think offering money off on big marketing days to people who think they’re getting a bargain would really show my handmade items the love their deserve.

However, having said that I do support another American invention, Small Business Saturday, which is happening this weekend.

This event is very different from those other two in that it is held to promote small businesses like Sewmotion and to encourage people to shop with us rather than with large multi-nationals on the high street. Thanks to E-shopping this event is larger than ever and is promoted on every social media platform imaginable. Of course, there are also bricks and mortar shops all over the UK taking part, to find shops local to you visit Small Business Saturday’s great search facility on their website.

To show my appreciation to you lovely people who do shop with us small businesses, Sewmotion is offering a 10% discount on everything across all three of our outlets – sewmotion; Folksy & Etsy


This offer will run from Saturday 5th December to Monday 7th December (midnight). Just enter the discount code SmallBizSat10 at the checkout. I have some different items in each shop, so it’s worth looking at all three. 

If you would like to take advantage of this offer to order one of my cushions in colours of your choice, contact me here.


There is also still FREE UK POSTAGE by 2nd class Royal Mail – the last postage date for this service to be safe for Christmas, is Saturday 19th December. If you wish to pay for 1st class postage, the last date before Christmas is Monday 21st (as recommended by Royal Mail).

On another note, I would just like to thank everyone who braved the weather last weekend and showed their support for Stockton Sparkles – I met some lovely people, many as addicted to quilting and fabric as I am, and others on the verge… with a little help from me of course! As requested I will be working on more pre-cut quilt kits and patterns in the New Year, I can’t wait to spread some quilting love.

Looking for some quilting inspiration and fun? Why not pop over to Sew Fresh Quilt’s Let's Bee Social and say hello to some very talented people.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Preparing For a Christmas Market

As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I am holding a stall at this year’s Stockton Sparkles Christmas Market. I've had stalls at a couple of smaller craft fairs in the past, neither very successfully I admit, and I was rather put off. However, it’s Christmas… and from word-of-mouth I’ve heard this four-day event promises to be busy, full of cheer, helping everyone get into the festive spirit!

Now I have done a few shows with my previous employers (yes, Doughty’s) and anyone who knows them will know they don’t do things by halves! Thankfully, it was always down to the boys to decide what to take and how much, and where to place it, how to display it and so on (you can read more on what goes into the Festival of Quilts show in a previous blog). It always looked pretty stressful to me… and now I’m feeling a little of that pain!

I know my log cabin/shed is miniscule compared to their 10m long stands, but the choices and decisions are very similar – what do I take? Do I have enough stock? How should I display it? Should I only take finished items, or take some quilting items too? These questions and worries have been floating around my brain for weeks now, but with only two days to go, I think I’ve sussed it – take everything and see what happens!!

So if you are lucky enough to live up here in these parts, and would like some festive cheer, some fun Christmas shopping and some delicious nibbles (including mulled wine… yay!) why not pop along to Stockton High Street, the market runs from Thursday 26th Nov (9am – 7.30pm, when they will be turning on the Christmas lights) Fri & Sat (9am – 6pm) to Sunday 29th Nov (10am – 4pm).Here is just a taster of handmade goodies I’ll be bringing with me this week – from cute stocking fillers and Secret Santa ideas... 

to my "T-T-Teessider" and "Parmo" cushions, including some new designs such as
"I Love Gin, Me"...

plus my Beginner Quilt kits - a great gift for introducing someone to the wonderful craft of patchwork and quilting.

I was lucky enough to have these great kits featured in this month's British Patchwork & Quilting.

I have also decided to sell some of my handmade quilts, I do love every quilt I make and hate parting with them, but there really is only so many I can cuddle under on a chilly night, so I would rather they go to good homes who will love and snuggle them more than I ever could. Justin got busy making me his great quilt ladder to show off my babies.

I will also be bringing some Sewmotion Strippers (fabric pre-cuts for quilters!) some fat quarter bundles and my quilt patterns for the already addicted quilter.

I know not everything here is currently available to buy online, but I will be uploading more products next week. If something does catch your eye, or if you would like one of my cushions in colours of your choice, please drop me a line at

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Dog Gone Cute Voting is Open

I'm off to the Dublin Quilt Show in a couple of hours, but just wanted to let you know that participants of the wonderful Dog Gone Cute QAL over on Sew Fresh Quilts, have been invited to link up their beautiful creations, with the chance of winning some great prizes.

Remember these little babies?? If not, you can read all about my wall hanging here.

You get three votes in total and a week to place them, so why not pop over and spread some puppy love.

Friday 30 October 2015

A Week of Little Finishes

So now it’s nearly November, I guess I’m allowed to mention the C word… yes, Christmas will be upon us before we know it! Having missed the festive boat last year with Christmas Fairs, I’ve managed to get in nice and early and book myself a wooden cabin at the Stockton Sparkles Christmas Market. This is a four-day event on the last weekend of November, yep… FOUR DAYS!!! Ahhh!! What have I done!!?

As you can imagine my lists of products to design, make and finish increase daily, I’m even pushing myself to do some bunting to decorate the cabin – I do not enjoy making bunting!
This week I have been adding to my novelty pencil case collection, these come together quite quickly, so always very satisfying. I especially like the dotty ones, I may have to make more of those…

We also had a family party this week, our great niece turned one, so I thought I’d look back at my past Love Patchwork & Quilting mags to find a cute present. One of her only words so far is "Dog", which she shouts at anything that moves, so I thought this adorable sausage dog would be perfect. Unfortunately in my haste to get him finished, I forgot to take a decent shot.

I would like to end this blog with news of someone else’s finish. A few months ago I had a lovely phone call from a Doughty’s customer who I used to talk to regularly. She had bought this cute Winnie the Pooh fabric and wanted some ideas for a quilt to make for her granddaughter. I looked up the fabric online and thought it would be ideal for some fussy cutting, sewn into simple framed squares using co-ordinating fabrics. I wrote down a few measurements and suggestions and posted them off. To my delight, I recently received a lovely letter and picture of this gorgeous quilt. Iris also included some swatches of the co-ordinates used to give me a better idea. Isn’t this so lovely!? I hope you can see the quilt well enough here, I was so chuffed to have been of help! Well, I suppose you can take the girl out of Doughty’s…

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts and Sew Fresh Quilt's Let's Bee Social - come and say hello!

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Dog Gone Cute QAL Complete!

Lorna McMahon of Sew Fresh Quilts is a Canadian quilt designer I have admired from afar for a while now – her Elephant Parade pattern has always been on my to-do list. So when she launched her latest pattern, Dog Gone Cute, with a QAL I just had to join in the fun.

When thinking about the fabrics to use in this beautiful project, I thought I would start with my current favourites, my luscious Kona solids, with white for the dogs and grey as the background… I thought these would look great and very colourful for a child’s wallhanging which was my intention. 

I decided to make up my first block, just to get the hang of the pattern. As I only needed small pieces I raided my scraps from a previous project, and for some reason picked the lighter grey instead of the darker one. As you can see this was a mistake, far too close to the white so that pup loses its outline.

Still, I loved making the block, Lorna’s pattern is so easy to follow, and I love this stitch and flip method - her piecing is just genius!

So then I thought, what about using some patterns instead of solids… and
while hunting for some plain pink and black for the ears, eyes and nose, I came across these lovelies from Louden’s Flitsy range that I'd forgotten about – it is scary when you forget what you’ve bought!

So I tried out my first doggy, deciding on the larger block – I was very please with the outcome, isn’t he sweet! Is it sad to cooo and giggle to yourself when sewing… especially when you’re all alone??

Anyway, I then made another two, and laid them out for a wall hanging – but they needed something else…. Since discovering this flip and stitch method, I have been working on some new cushion designs for Christmas, including these two – I live in Middlesbrough if that explains anything… 

....I really enjoyed how the letters came together, so decided to work out a plan for “Dog Gone Cute” to add to my wall hanging. If you would like to add the lettering to your own project, I have the cutting and piecing instructions here.

So once the panel was all pieced together, I had to decide on the quilting… I recently finished a quilt for a new kit with wavy lines across the whole top, and had forgotton how much I love the quilting process, so I decided to have some fun, and as Angela Walters would say, “quilt the life out of it”!

I started with vertical lines on the dogs, just so they would stand out against the rest, then I echo quilted each of the letters. Then came the background, after consulting my FMQ heroines, Angela and Leah Day, I decided on this dense pattern on the top dog. However, I’m sorry to say I actually got a little bored… so I came over all artistic and decided to slowly thin out the quilting lines, turning them into loop-da-loops in the second dog, and then down to simple wavy lines in the last dog. I think it’s worked really well, I hope you agree.

Lorna has been kind enough to share instructions for these gorgeous blocks on her blog, so why not have a go yourself. And if you would like some more inspiration, check out the rest of today's bloggers:
Sandy of Upstairs Hobby Room
Heide of Heide’s Quilty Hugs
Britt-Inger of Hill Valley Quilter

Judy of How ART You?

Linking up with Let's Bee Social over at Sew Fresh Quilts, Crazy Mom Quilt's Finish It Up Friday and Free Motion Mavericks - come and say hello!

Friday 16 October 2015

A Finished Quilt = A New Quilt Kit

Are you allowed to fall in love with one of your own quilts?? I had an inkling in the back of my mind to make my All Squared Up quilt into a kit, just as I’ve done with my Beginner’s Quilt. So when I came across this gorgeous Riley Blake range called Fancy Free at Doughty’s, I knew they would look great in this quilt.
I hope you agree, I think I was spot on! How cute is this quilt?! I can just imagine it on a little girl’s bed in a bright sun-lit room, or snuggled up around her on a wintery afternoon.

So this is my next pre-cut quilting kit, which will be available in my shop soon, as well as on Folksy and Etsy – once I get a bright enough day to take some decent pics! Why is it only sunny when I’ve got nothing finished to photograph!

This kit will include all the pre-cut 2½” strips in both pattern and white fabrics, plus the borders and binding strips, that you need to complete the top. There is also thread for piecing and full instructions. If you need a little more help, there are links to my free online tutorials that will help you with cutting and sewing, and also take you through making this quilt with plenty of photos.

Today I am linking up with FinishIt Up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts – come and say hello.


Thursday 8 October 2015

New Beginner's Quilt Kits

Would you like to learn to quilt? Or do you know someone who has always wanted to make a patchwork quilt? My Beginner’s Quilt is a free online class that takes you through the three stages of making a quilt – the piecing, the quilting and finally the binding.

The Piecing chapter tells you what you will need, with links to other tutorials that explain what it all means – what on earth is a Fat Quarter? How do I use a rotary cutter? Once you have your squares cut, I explain how to chain-piece (speedy sewing) these together, and then how to match up your seams when sewing the rows to each other. Add some borders, and you will have completed your first quilt top.

The Quilting chapter takes you through the special equipment that I find useful when quilting – the walking foot, and some very strange looking gloves! I then show you how to baste your quilt sandwich, and then how to stitch-in-the-ditch – a quilting technique that will hold your backing, wadding and top all together.

The Binding chapter is the final stage of any quilt, and I show you how to cut and sew your binding strips, and then how to attach them to your quilt top. This is the best bit as when you’re done, you will have completed your first handmade quilt! Time to sit back and look very happy with yourself!

To accompany this free series, I have designed two pre-cut quilt kits, ideal if you haven’t as yet bought the rotary cutter, ruler and mat. 

The 6½” squares, border and binding strips are all cut for you, so you can jump straight onto your sewing machine and get started. The kits also include full instructions and thread for piecing.

Both kits are based on two gorgeous Riley Blake ranges, the first one is very pink and features the Fancy Free range with an added pink and blue Kona Solid.

The second kit features the Giraffe Crossing range, again with a couple of Kona Solids – this quilt would make a great baby play mat or a child’s cuddle blanket, with a colourway suiting both girls and boys – a great gift for a mum-to-be don’t you think.
These would be a great gift for yourself or a loved one who has always wanted to learn about this wonderfully creative and highly addictive craft.

Both kits are available in my shop at sewmotion which I am adding stock to all the time. My full collection of handmade homewares and gifts can be seen in my Folksy shop.

For more quilting fun and inspiration pop over to Sew Fresh Quilt's Let's Bee Social and say hello.

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Dog Gone Cute Blog Hop

I have been pretty bad with my Dog Gone Cute QAL this month, and do promise to get two more blocks done in the following week, honest! But I didn't think my slowness should be any reason for you to miss out on this month's blog hop over on Sew Fresh Quilts - this is not only an ideal opportunity to find puppy-inspiration from others, but it's also a great way to meet other quilters and discover new blogs to follow.

On each of the days listed below, some of the world's (and I do mean world!) fun and fresh quilt bloggers will be writing about their QAL experiences, so why not pop along and say hello. Meanwhile, I will be cutting more pieces and getting my head straight, hopefully in time for my own blog on the 22nd.

Tuesday, October 6
Karen of Run Sew Fun
Kris of Kris Loves Fabric
Anja of Anja Quilts
Kelly of Quilting it Out
Tish of Tish’s Adventures in Wonderland

Thursday, October 8
Carol of Just Let Me Quilt
Nina of Inchworming
Doris of The Quilting Queen Online
Brandy of Pampered Pettit
Leena of Creative Instincts

Tuesday, October 13
Ruth of Charly and Ben’s Crafty Corner
Tanya of Tanya Quilts in Colorado
Laurel of Quilts by Laurel
Kathy of Kathy’s Quilting Blog
Deb of New Creative State

Thursday, October 15
Anita of Daydreams of Quilts
Gina of Quilts and Cakes
Beth of Words & Stitches
Rachel of Quiltineering
Julie of Mack and Mable

Tuesday, October 20
Cathy of A Quilting Chick
Selina of Selina Quilts
Shauna of Shauna’s World
Gayle of Pedal Sew Lightly
Kathy of Kayak Quilting

Thursday, October 22
Sandy of Upstairs Hobby Room
Heide of Heide’s Quilty Hugs
Britt-Inger of Hill Valley Quilter

Judy of How ART You?
Louisa of Sewmotion
Tuesday, October 27
Teje of Nero’s Patch and Post
Stephanie of Jak and Will
Valerie of Val’s Quilting Studio
Ellen of Georgia Florida Studio
Cristina of Pretty Little Quilts

Thursday, October 29
Abigail of Cut & Alter
Magdalena of iloveneutrals
Jenn of A Quarter Inch from the Edge
Anne of Batiks by the Bay
Susie of Susie's Sunroom
Tracy of Tracy’s Bits N Pieces

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Sewing an accurate scant quarter-inch seam allowance

It’s hard to believe (well for me anyway) that the world wide web, that we take so much for granted these days, wasn’t around when I first fell in love with quilting. When I first started in my teens, I taught myself the basics from books and magazines, using templates cut from cereal packets, and cutting everything with scissors!! It wasn’t until I came back to this wonderful craft in my twenties that I discovered the huge wealth of information, generously given for free, on the hundreds of quilting websites and blogs that now exist. I have learnt so much from these wonderful quilters, and continue to do so.

Many of these talented people write blogs where they share their latest creations as well as the latest tips and tricks to help us all in our projects. You can see some of them in the right-hand column in My Blog List. It is these people I would like to share with you in this series of how-to blogs. I already include links in the “I’m stuck, help!!” section on sewmotion, but I thought I would highlight some of the essentials to help those new to quilting.

This week we’re starting with the scant ¼” seam allowance. Now, I have to admit, I have learnt something new today… I like learning new things, but this was a bit of a surprise… my ¼” stitch on my machine is actually not a ¼”!! I know, shocking! Well in fact, it is a ¼”, but not a scant ¼”. You will come across the term scant in most quilt patterns, and it means that you need to sew about a thread’s width shy of ¼” to give room for the thread and the fold in the seam. 

So, for the purposes of this blog, I followed a couple of online tutorials to check my own seams. The first is from the lovely Amy Ellis at Amy’s Creative Side. She uses a ¼” foot on her machine, whereas I use my standard foot with the needle moved to the right (the ¼” stitch setting on my Janome). 

If your machine doesn't have this setting, most machines allow you to move the needle to the required position. To set this up for a ¼” seam, place a quilter's ruler on top of the lowered feed dogs so the ruler lies nice and flat (above left). Align the right edge of the ruler with the right edge of your presser foot. Slowly lower your needle so that it's not quite touching the ruler, then move the needle until it lines up with the first ¼” line on the ruler. Now you can use the edge of your normal presser foot as a guide to run the edge of your fabric against. If you would like a clearer mark, you can stick a thick piece of tape onto to your machine to give you more of a run up - The Fat Quarter Shop has a great video showing more about this guide here.

So back to checking for scantness...

Following Amy’s tutorial I cut a few 2½” fabric strips, then used the first two to sew a ¼” seam as normal. However, when I came to check my block size, I was out! This explains so much! It may seem to you that this tiny amount wouldn’t matter, hey, its only a smidgen out right? Wrong! If you imagine this amount out on say 20 blocks… that smidgen soon adds up to more than an inch and will cause problems if you're following a pattern.

Now, I probably haven’t noticed this before as I’ve used the same stitch consistently throughout my sewing, so I wouldn’t have been out when matching seams and rows to each other. However, when I’ve come to measure the whole quilt I do sometimes come up short. As I am normally following my own pattern, I've just gone with it, but if this is your first quilt, or if you're enjoying some complicated piecing, you'll want to get it right.

So, following Amy again, I went back to the machine and moved my needle .8mm to the right, setting it from 8.3 to 9, and tried again.

And what do you know, it worked perfectly! I’ll just have to now remember change this setting every time I sew.

If you don’t have a ¼” foot or stitch on your machine, this tutorial from Connecting Threads explains how to place tape down on the front of your machine to use as a guide for your fabric. Once you have tried this method, I suggest you then do as Amy did and press your seams open to measure your block, just to make sure your seam is a scant one.

Today I'm linking up with Tip & Tutorials Tuesday over at Late Night Quilter, and Sew Fresh Quilt's Let's Bee Social - come and join in the fun!

Sunday 27 September 2015

Sunday Stash #12

It feels like I haven’t added to my stash for ages, so when I had a hit of inspiration for a new quilt kit, I just had to go on a fabric hunt… which of course ended at Doughty’s! I bought a some of these Riley Blake prints back at Festival in August, and found that a couple of my Konas matched perfectly with this Fancy Free range. 

One of my many grand plans has always been to bring out a collection of pre-cut fabric sets, with quilt kits to go with them. I decided to go back to my Beginner’s Quilt and made this cute and very girly version, and then developed a kit designed to encourage and help those new to quilting. 

Each kit will contain 36 6½” squares, the border and binding strips to make the top, plus grey Aurifil thread for the piecing, and full instructions with links to the photographic free tutorial on These will be available in my shops very soon.

My Stripper sets are now available to buy in my Folksy and Etsy shops, where you have a choice of Rainbow, Hot and Cool colourways. 

Each set contains twenty 2½” x 44” strips in Kona Solids. Add some white or a soft grey as a base colour and you can make so many different designs, including my All Squared Up and my Fox in the Nine Patch quilts.

I’m also very excited to announce that I will be at Stockton’s Sparkles Christmas Market this year. I’ve not attended this event before, but looking at pictures from last year, and talking to other local small business owners, it sounds like a great four-day market with 30 log cabins for us independent sellers, plus Christmas lights, carols and hopefully mulled wine to get us all in the Christmas spirit. This festive fun will be in Stockton’s lovely redeveloped town centre from 26th to 29th November.

As you can imagine, the next couple of months are going to be very busy building up stock for a four-day market… eek!! A couple of other new products I’ve been working on are these two cushions. Inspired by Sew Fresh Quilt’s Dog Gone Cute QAL, I designed these using the stitch & flip method. They take a while to make but I’m really pleased with them, Parmo (a Middlesbrough food ‘delicacy’) and the phrase T-T-Teessider are both unique to my local area, but I’m thinking I could adapt these to all manner of phrases… when I find the time.

Before the ‘mass production’ starts, I’m looking forward to running another workshop for Doughty’s next weekend. This time we’re doing my Snowballs in Spring quilt, can’t wait to meet my quilters and have some fun!

A friend is holding a Macmillan coffee morning next weekend, which I’m sad to be missing, but I have managed to make a quilt for her to auction off - sometimes I just love my stash! Hopefully she’ll be able to raise a bit for a very worthwhile cause, which let’s face it, most of us sadly have reason to know about these days.

For more quilting fun and inspiration from around the world, pop over to Molli Sparkles’ Sunday Stash – I’ll see you there.