Thursday, 22 August 2019

Playing on my Sewing Machine

Well, a week back and our holiday in glorious Kefalonia already seems like months ago! We had a very relaxing time, if a little too hot at times, still the town of Skala was as beautiful as ever, and one day we may even retire there... 

Meanwhile, back to reality - the next few months look crazy! With Harrogate Quilt show next week, then hopefully a house move, Duxford Autumn Quilt show at the end of October, my first Knitting & Stitching show in Harrogate in November, not to mention a few Sewing Quarter shows slotted in, I think I'll be sleeping through Christmas :)

It is good to be back in the swing of things though, I definitely needed a break after Festival of Quilts, and now I'm full of ideas again, the first of which is my monthly free pattern to my Newsletter subscribers, I know it's a little late, but better late than never right? For this month, I have gone back to an old favourite that I used to make as finished gifts back when I used to sell at craft fairs - the Patchwork Glasses Case. 

This is a great little project with some simple machine sewing, but the best thing is I get to play with some of the bazillion stitches on my sewing machine that I just never get the time to explore. As you can see, I needed to add an embroidered accent down both sides of the case, so I had a little play to find the appropriate stitch, noting down the stitch number and size as I went, so when I came to make a decision I knew what to program into the machine. I also found that unplugging my foot and using the start/stop button when sewing the embroidery stitches made it so much happier tension-wise.

As well as the free pattern - you can get yours by subscribing to the Newsletter here - I have put together three kits that contain fabric, wadding, elastic and button, plus full instructions. These are priced at £8.50, and if you're a subscriber you can get 10% off before next Wednesday.

I will be at Harrogate Autumn Quilt Show next week - Friday 30th Aug - Sunday 1st September, at the Great Yorkshire Showground, Hall 1, Harrogate, HG2 8NZ - 10am - 4.30pm. I hope to see you there!

Wishing you all a happy and creative week, linking up with Midweek Makers 

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

The Festival of Quilts 2019

Well, the Festival of Quilts is over for another year, and I can't believe it swept by so fast! One minute we were heading down the motorway hoping my pallet had been delivered to the right stand and that I'd made enough stock, and then before we knew it, it was Sunday and we were pulling our weary bodies together ready for packdown! 

Having worked quite a few Festivals, this was only my second with Sewmotion, and I have to say, it was my favourite so far. There seemed to be such a friendly smiley atmosphere in the room, with so many people coming up to the stand just to say hello. Much of this was down to my appearances on Sewing Quarter of course, but also the many friends and customers I have made over the last year.
Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.

I was also quite pleased with how my stand came together - after so many shows, I think I may have cracked it :) I love the cute stand I bought from Daisy Moon Designs on Etsy to display my pre-cut EPP papers, which were a firm favourite.

We were also often joined by Sewing Quarter's John Scott, who I have to say, provided a true masterclass in genuine hospitality. He seemed to be constantly smiling throughout the whole four days, presenting live shows when he wasn't giving out free hugs and selfies, I don't know how he did it! You can also see my Justin photo-bombing above, I couldn't do any of this without his love and support, he's also now a master at packing walnut shells and knows his fat quarters from his jelly rolls!

Having said that it was my favourite Festival so far, I am also very annoyed with myself! Yet again, another year has gone and going from others visitors' posts on IG and FB, I seemed to have missed half the quilts on show, including the Modern category. It goes to show how much brain work and emotion go into running a stand at these events, that I forgot to make time to see the quilts and actually do any shopping! Some did catch my eye on the way in and out which you can see below, I particularly liked the Mind the Gap London underground map which reminded me of my hometown. 

From the top: Cum Et Iris by Sandra Ruano Navarro; Slightly Blue Christmas by Joanna Holomiej; Moving On and Byzantium both by Liz Jones; and Mind the Gap by Cecilia Slinn.

We're off to a much needed week in the sun, wishing you a happy and creative week, linking up with Midweek Makers and Needle & Thread Thursday.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Wonky Hexies Free Pattern

Did you know my Newsletter subscribers receive a free PDF pattern every month? So far this year, we have been enjoying my block-of-the-month Mystery quilt which came to an end in June. So we are now returning to my beloved pre-cuts and stash-busting patterns, starting with a variation on a theme... 

My Wonky Squares Wall Hanging pattern proved very popular, especially when I made it on Sewing Quarter, so I started to wonder which other shapes would work - and of course, I had to have a go with the good ol' hexy! I also returned to my partially-seamed hexies, a tutorial for which can be seen here. Add in the freezer paper technique used for the wonky blocks, and hey presto, I have a new pattern.

Now, I have to admit, I think there is a little too much white/negative space in the wall hanging for me - you may love the space to create beautiful free motion quilting designs, or maybe embroidered motifs. If it's not for you, then you can simply decrease the size of the sashings and borders as below, just taking an 1" off the width of the strips makes such a difference.

As the wonky blocks finish at a 9" square, there are so many possible layouts - I have had a play with a few below... 

In this one I have bordered the 9" blocks with blue strips to add a little more interest, then added white sashings and borders.

Who says the wall hanging has to be square, or this would make a gorgeous table runner. Add light blue sashings and inner border and then a wider white border.

Finally, my favourite, which I think I will just have to make into a quilt when I get a minute! I have added the layout below so you can see the white strips that offset the blocks to create this circle. 

You can obviously also play around with the colours - what about using all black and whites for a monotone quilt? Maybe different tones of the same colour? If you would like to receive this free pattern, subscribe to the Newsletter today - these patterns are free to my subscribers for a month before going on general sale.

On to something completely different - Sewing Quarter have been holding their Christmas In July event and I appeared last Thursday to make my EPP Snowflake cushion and a gorgeous Scandi quilt by Lynne Goldsworthy - you can watch these shows and catch up on my past appearances here.

Wishing you all a happy, sunny and creative week! Linking up with Midweek Makers and Needle & Thread Thursday

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Quilting Concentric Circles Tutorial

As many of you know, I send out free monthly patterns to my Newsletter subscribers, and for the last few months we have been working on a mystery block-of-the-month, the Birds of a Feather quilt. 
Well, last month saw the grand reveal, and then I thought I would add a bonus email with instructions for a pieced backing, and then ideas for quilting. 

I then one step further and made up a quick video on how quilted my own version in a concentric circles design using my walking foot on my home machine.

Even though this design does take a while, especially on a domestic sewing machine, it is still possible (though I strongly recommend an extension table and quilting gloves) and the time and patience is well worth the effort! I love the texture this design creates and I think it accentuates the idea of the birds flying out of the centre nest. I'm hoping to put this quilt together as a kit soon, so watch this space!

Elsewhere at Sewmotion, I'm in the middle of Festival of Quilt prep madness, surrounded by kits, papers and patterns that all need sorting into boxes! I also came across some tickets for this year's show, so I'm holding a little competition on my Instagram page for a chance to win not only two show tickets, but also one of my new Hoop Art kits - visit my page for more details here.

Wishing you all a fun and creative week, linking up with Midweek Makers and Needle & Thread Thursday

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Valuable Lessons Learnt Making the Lisbon Tiles Quilt

For my latest appearance on Sewing Quarter, I was asked to make the gorgeous Lisbon Tiles quilt by Jo Avery of My Bear Paw, which was featured in a recent Today's Quilter. As you can see below, Jo made her quilt in rich red and yellow scraps from her stash. 

I was asked to make the quilt in pretty floral prints from Moda, so I sorted out the colours according to the brief, the yellows and greens were like for like in the quilt which was fine, however, the pinks and blues were to replace the reds in the original quilt, which is where my quilt went in a different direction.

Once I had cut all the fabric pieces, I got stuck into a few hours of foundation paper-piecing, surrounded by the usual mess, am I alone in this? With all the trimming and different pieces, I soon find myself getting very untidy! Anyway, as Jo suggested, I made a few blocks at a time - the whole quilt is actually made of just one block, four of which make the star. As I made each block I laid them out on the floor beside me, and soon realised this was going to be even more scrappy that Jo's. 

Even though I tried to go for some pattern and had the red stars in the centre and four corners, with the blue stars filling the rest, I still think something was lost in having so many very similar prints close to each other, in some cases the star is lost completely. I realised that this came down to fabric values...

Fabric values, along with hues and saturation, are all interlinked in colour theory, and come in very handy with planning a quilt design. Hue is what people mean when they say 'colour' - red is a different hue than blue. Value refers to the lightness or darkness of the hue, so you could have reds of the same hue, but one is of a lighter value than the other. Whereas saturation is the intensity of the colour and is related to the hue and value. Fully saturated colours appear brighter and clearer, while less saturated colours are milky or greyer. A fully saturated yellow has a much lighter value than a fully saturated red. 

So if we apply this theory to my quilt, you can see that there is one red hue that stands out more than any other as it is the most saturated, while the other reds used to make up the star design are less saturated and very similar in value to the neighbouring yellows, making the overall star design less distinct.

When preparing for the Sewing Quarter show, I decided to make up another block using identical red and yellow prints for the four blocks to make up a full star to show how being less scrappy would give you a whole different look. As you can see above, I used the same strong red and yellow prints for the star shape, but still went scrappy for the smaller pieces. While I prefer this layout, I also still love the scrappy version I made for the show, and of course, just had to quilt it in wavy lines!

If you would like to watch the Sewing Quarter show with the riotous John Scott, you can catch it here on their YouTube channel

Wishing you all a happy and creative week, linking up with Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers, Oh Scrap! and Needle & Thread Thursday 

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Completed Mystery Quilts & New Hoop Kits

After last week's grand reveal of my Birds of a Feather Mystery quilt, I've seen some lovely completed tops - I have a few prompt quilters who have religiously kept up with my monthly posts, one of which had saved them until the end and then made it during her last five weekly quilt group meetings!

The first of these quilts is by Justine, who had actually got ahead of me and finished the quilt before the grand reveal, clever girl!! ;) I was so happy to see the quilt made up in the luscious grey and purple fabric bundle - doesn't it look so rich and sumptuous! Justine tells me she plans to add a couple more borders to increase the size, which will look amazing!

You can see the close up centre of this colourway in Ann's quilt - made over five weeks in her quilt class, she also loves how the purples and greys work so well together.

Ruth was wonderful throughout this process and more or less made up each block on the same day she received the pattern, which was why she was the first to tell me of any hiccups! Thanks again Ruth :) In her version she used the Flora Pop fabrics, similar to my own, however, if memory serves, I think she bought two or three of the curated fabric bundles, so I can see her making at least one more quilt!

Finally, Jan went for her own choice of fabrics, and purchased some Linen Textures from the Sewmotion shop - I love these soft pastel shades, and it really does look like such a different quilt compared to the grey and purple. Next month I will be sharing quilting ideas and a free pieced backing design.

This free pattern will be available to my Newsletter subscribers until the end of June, sign up now and join in the fun - you will also receive subscriber-only offers, more free patterns and the latest Sewmotion news.

Meanwhile, in the Sewmotion shop, I have released two new EPP Flower Hoop Art Kits - these projects are mounted into 12" hoops and come in two designs. The first is in lovely 1930s-inspired vintage fabrics, while the second features Makower's Woodland range in soft blues and greys. Each of these kits include the fabric and wadding, embroidery thread, pre-cut papers, 12" wooden hoop and full instructions - the perfect holiday project! What's more, if you subscribe to the Newsletter, you can get 10% off these new kits today!

Wishing you all a happy and creative week, linking up with Midweek Makers, Oh Scrap! and Needle & Thread Thursday

Friday, 7 June 2019

The Grand Reveal of the mystery quilt

When I came up with the idea of running a block-of-the-month mystery quilt for my Newsletter subscribers, it was primarily to give me a chance to get ahead with my free monthly patterns... of course this hasn't happened, and with month five upon us, I have still to write up the rest of the year's free patterns which was the plan. Ah well, forwarding planning was never my strong point!

However, I have found that my subscribers are loving the monthly blocks, with just enough to do each month to keep up, I've had some really lovely feedback. Up until now this has been a mystery quilt and this week I revealed the final layout, which you can see below. 

I have already had one customer send me pics of her own version which she made with the luscious greys and purples in one of my specially curated fabric bundles. Her quilt is beautiful, I'll be sharing more quilts next week once subscribers have had a chance to read the latest newsletter.

If you would like to learn more about this quilt and get free instructions for the past five months (now you know what it looks like) then sign up to the Newsletter now. This free patten will only be available until the end of June. As a bonus in July I will be sharing quilting tips and even a pieced backing pattern.

My latest Sewing Quarter adventure once again saw me on screen with John Scott where I demoed this stunning FPP quilt by Linda Clements. I do love foundation paper-piecing even if it is a little time consuming, and this project certainly put my skills to the test. 128 blocks!! 

I also showed how to make my very own Wonky Squares Wall Hanging, which did look amazing in those beautiful batiks! If you missed the show or would like to see it again, you can catch it on Sewing Quarter's YouTube page here. I also have my Wonky Squares pattern available on the Sewmotion website, both printed and as a digital download.

Wishing you all a happy, sunny and creative week, linking up with Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers and Needle & Thread Thursday

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Quilts UK and Sewing Quarter

I am back from this year's Quilts UK in Malvern. This four-day show is set in the beautiful Worcestershire countryside in Malvern and is the second largest quilt show in the UK after the Festival of Quilts. My week started with a four-hour drive on my tod across the country, this is the furthest I had driven on my own ever, so I was pretty pleased with myself when I finally got there!  Then I had to set up the stand, I was really close to my old employers, Doughty's - most of the time they were laughing at me, but they did help when it was needed. 

Doing Quilts UK also means I get to return to Hereford where I stay with Ruth, Mrs Doughty, over the show. It's always lovely to catch up and we have a good old chat, she also knew the short cuts on the way back to Malvern the following morning. On Friday, I had help on the stand from the lovely Sarah, another former Doughty worker who just comes for a laugh, and then Justin arrived Friday night, so thankfully I didn't have to drive home!

I had a lot of fun meeting so many familiar faces, including many fellow Sewing Quarter presenters. I also had some lovely viewers come up to tell me how much they enjoy my shows, which was really sweet of them, it's great to know the nerves don't show and my demos make sense haha! 

Now I'm back home, I feel pretty shattered, it's weird, it's like I'm jet lagged, hopefully a few days off next week will sort me out. Before then however, I'm back on Sewing Quarter on Bank Holiday Monday where I will be demoing this foundation-pieced Garden Paths quilt by Linda Clements, and then my own Wonky Squares wall hanging using jelly roll strips and some quick and easy cutting.

Wishing you all a happy and creative week, linking up with Midweek Makers and Needle & Thread Thursday

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Month Four of the Mystery Quilt

Where is this year going!?!? I can't believe it's May and nearly time for Quilts UK at Malvern.  As you can imagine, I've being extremely busy cutting, folding and making up kits for this upcoming 4-day show - I'm also working on some new kits which will have their debut at the show.

Inbetween all this I have been on Sewing Quarter again, this time demoing a lovely summery quilt from the Big Book of Lap Quilts. This was a joy to make and the large flying geese blocks came together so quickly. In contrast, my second project was Lynne Edwards' Cathedral Windows table runner, which featured both machine and hand sewing, so it was nice to get back to some hand work.

You can catch these shows on Sewing Quarter's YouTube channel here, and you can see links to all my past SQ shows here.

The beginning of another month can only mean one thing, it's time for the next instalment of my block-of-the-month mystery quilt. This Birds of a Feather quilt is free to my Newsletter subscribers, and features half-square triangles, a little foundation piecing and some simple patchwork. If you would like to join us you can sign up here, and you will receive the latest Newsletter with links to previous months so you can catch up with the BOM.

Last week saw the release of a new EPP Flower Cushion kit, this time in this cute Red House Liberty print. This kit is a great introduction to curved English paper-piecing as the pieces are quite large and not too fiddly. And of course, you also have my four-part youTube tutorial to help you on your way. You can find out more about this new EPP kit here.

Wishing you all a fun and creative week, linking up with Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers and Needle & Thread Thursday

Friday, 19 April 2019

Stunning Scotland and an Easter Sale

It has recently dawned on us that having lived so far north of the UK for a few years now, we had still not ventured into our neighbouring country, Scotland, and decided it was about time we did! As my husband can never just go to one place, he set about planning us a mini tour starting in Stirling, then up to Glencoe and the Highlands and then finally a few days in Edinburgh.

I have to say, even though we expected the landscape to be as beautiful as you see in the films, seeing it in real life really does take your breath away!

We even drove up to the bottom point of Loch Ness to see if we could spot the shy creature, alas, Nessy was keeping well and truly hidden that day :) The loch was stunning though.

Justin found the wonderful Lochleven Seafood Cafe down a wiggly road alongside the nearby loch where we had some amazing local seafood, I wasn't too sure about the razor clams to be honest but the langoustines were gorgeous!

We then headed back down to Edinburgh where we dumped the car (I highly recommend the city's Park & Ride scheme, the buses are frequent, and you don't have to worry about parking in a busy city) We stayed at the Brooks Hotel, a very nice and comfy boutique hotel where we had an afternoon tea and bottle of fizz included in the deal - not a bad start eh!?

We like to amble on our city breaks, and Edinburgh is such a beautiful city, you don't realise you're walking up and down so many hills! We made our way to Dovecot Studios to see the much anticipated Orla Kiely exhibition...

I have always loved Orla's strong and colourful graphic design, and with all those curved shapes as inspiration, I can't wait to start designing some more Hoop Art and cushion EPP projects! And just look at that stitching on the red bag, totally love it!! Dovecot Studios is also home to the Tapestry Studio where you can see artists in residence working on their extraordinary pieces of art. There is also a very interesting exhibit on the rescue and refurbishment of these former swimming baths.

Our visit to Edinburgh couldn't be complete without a visit to My Bear Paw to see the very lovely Jo Avery. The shop is normally closed on a Tuesday but luckily Jo was teaching an evening class so we managed to have a quick cuppa and chat before her ladies arrived. My Bear Paw is such a cute shop and you must go if you're in town, Jo's also going to stock some more of my kits, which is great news!

Talking of kits, back at Sewmotion HQ, I'm holding my annual Easter Sale with up to 20% off in the online shop. This is a great opportunity to grab that kit you may have had your eye on for a while, or maybe try a new technique with one of my cushion or hoop kits, or maybe you just need to stock up on your EPP essentials. No code needed - you can visit the shop here.

Wishing you all a peaceful and creative week, linking up with Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers and Needle & Thread Thursday.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

A Foundation Paper-Piecing video

As you may know, I offer my Newsletter subscribers a free PDF pattern every month, and currently we are making a block-of-the-month Mystery quilt - Birds of a Feather. Block 3 involves some simple foundation paper-piecing and more half-square triangles. 

Now I know foundation piecing can be quite daunting and confusing for some, it certainly was for me until I had that eureka moment when I discovered this technique using an A5 piece of card and an Add a Quarter Ruler - this tool really is invaluable! So as well as my comprehensive instructions in the pattern, I thought I would make a little video to provide even more help. If you would you like to try this technique for the first time, or maybe you'd like to see a different way of sewing the templates, then watch the video below.

If you would like to join in this mystery quilt fun, you can subscribe here to receive the latest Newsletter, which includes links to the previous two months' patterns.

As well as making up lots of new kits for Quilts UK next month, I've been working on some new projects, soon to become kits, including a new version of my zigzag quilt using Libs Elliott' gorgeous Tattooed North prrints, and another Curved EPP Flower cushion in Liberty's Red House print from their Cottage Garden collection. These kits will both be available in the online shop very soon.

Wishing you all a happy and creative week, linking up with Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers and Needle & Thread Thursday