• Pinwheel Pencil case

    Thursday, 25 June, 2015

    Hello again, I thought it would be nice to do some patchwork this week and decided to use the smallest half-square triangles to make a pencil case -

    You will need –
    5” x 20” in 2 co-ordinating fabrics, 1 light and 1 dark, for the pinwheels
    6” x 40” navy fabric for the outside and lining of pencil case                                                                               
    1 x 10” navy zip

    Sizzix® Bigz™ Die Half-Square Triangles, 1” finished 659983 http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/659983/sizzix-bigz-die-half-square-triangles-1-1-2-assembled-square 
    Using the Big Shot machine and the die cut 40 triangles out of each of the patterned fabrics.
    Stitch 1 light and 1 dark triangle together to make a square, repeat with all the triangles.
    Press the seams together towards the darker colour
    Stitch 1 pair of squares together – see photo below.
    Press the seams and then stitch 1 pair of rectangles together to make a square, taking care to match the points in the middle.
    Join the squares together in 2 sets of 5 to make 2 strips.
    Cut the navy fabric into 2 pieces 2 1/4" x 10 1/2", 2 pieces 4" x 10 1/2" these 4 pieces are for the outside, and 2 pieces 6" x 10 1/2" for the lining.
    Stitch a 2 1/4" and 4 " piece either side of a pinwheel strip, and press. Repeat to make the 2nd side.
    To put the zip in - lay it across the top edge of one of the outside pieces -
    lay a lining piece on top, matching the edges, and stitch, with a 1/2" seam - when opened to the right side it will look like this -
    Repeat with the other side of the zip. Now open the zip at least half way.
    Lay the outside pieces, right sides together, pin, matching the raw edges.

    Stitch around the 3 sides, back stitching at each end to secure the seam.
    Repeat with the lining - but leave a 5" opening in the bottom edge.
    Trim off the extra length of the zip at both ends.
    Turn the pencil case right side out -
    Stitch the open edges together, and tuck lining inside the pencil case.
    Not quite such a quick project as I thought it would be - but still fun, and if I start now I might make enough for all of the grandchildren for September term at school.
    I'm off now to enjoy a cup of tea in the garden, while the sun is still shining.
    See you next week.

  • Father's day - super hero, superstar

    Thursday, 18 June, 2015

    As promised another blog for Father's day - and it's quick as well, glasses case and a phone cover -
    All you need is a tie or too - now I raided my husbands ties - but I did ask - take a hint that if you use his best tie he isn't really going to like what you've made with it.
    If you love him dearly but he embarrasses you so much - then make sure that the tie you choose, from his wardrobe, charity shop or store, is really outlandish and choose crazy colours for the lettering!
    One word - the tie does need to be quite wide because we are going it make a glasses case, or a phone cover.
    I used the Bigz™ XL Alphabet Die - Word Play by Tim Holtz® -657837 http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/657837/sizzix-bigz-xl-alphabet-die-word-play
    or you can use the BigShot™ 660200http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/660200/sizzix-big-shot-machine-only-white-gray
    For alternative items I also used Bigz™ Die Stars 656339 http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/656339/sizzix-bigz-die-stars
    and Bigz™ Die Heartfelt by Tim Holtz -660233 http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/660233/sizzix-bigz-die-heartfelt
    You will also need a small amount of fusible web (Heat and Bond, Bondaweb or similar) and a similar small amount of fabric for the letters.
    Fuse the web to the wrong side of the fabric for the lettering and cut out the letters that you need - for the first glasses case I'm using  1 each of s u p h o, and 2 each of e and r.
    For the glasses case - I measured the glasses 15cm and added a couple of cm for ease and then doubled it - so I cut the tie to 40cm long. 
    As I am going to stitch letters onto the right side I undid the stitching on the back of the tie, and opened it out flat. (Now I forgot to take a photo with the tie open so we are looking at my next tie)
    Arrange the letters within the length you need for the glasses and then fuse them in place and stitch them -
    The back of the tie is re-stitched and the narrow hem is turned in and stitched -
    Next fold the tie so that the 'case' is the right length, and pin the layers together -
     and stitch the layers together.
    Add a button and a ribbon loop to complete the case -

    this one is because everyone knows that if you take off, or put on your glasses you can become a superhero!!
    Which then led me to think of a super star -
    and then I thought of a cover for a phone  - the tie needs to be cut to about 30cm for this and because it is smaller the word had to be shorter - so -
    Hope you like these and are tempted to make one or two, and maybe keep one yourself!
    Have fun, enjoy the weekend.

  • Tool roll for Father's Day

    Thursday, 11 June, 2015

    For several weeks now I've been convinced that Father's Day is this coming Sunday - BUT I was  wrong - so I may even be able to create another Father's Day gift next week.
    I used to find it difficult to find things to give to my Dad - but I think he would have loved this -
    He was a carpenter and he often helped with jobs around our home - and so this would have been very helpful when moving his tools around.
    Now I will give you the measurements for the one I have made, but you can vary the size and the sections to suit the tools that your father, husband, boyfriend, grandpa, uses.
    You will need a strong piece of fabric - I had a heavy twill type fabric, but you could use denim or canvas ( if you re-cycle a pair of old jeans please make sure they aren't his favourite old jeans!!)
    80cm x 50cm (31" x 19 1/2")
    3 pieces of cotton fabric 15cm (6") square in different colours.
    45cm x 15 cm (18" x 6") fusible web.
    1m (1yd) heavy ribbon
    Cut the fusible web into 3 x 15cm (6") squares and fuse to the wrong side of the cotton squares.
    Select the letters that you need on each die and cut out - remember to place the fabric right side down on the die when cutting.
    Arrange the letters on one end of the main fabric about 10cm in from the right, 6cms from the bottom edge, and 15cms from the left side. Fuse, and then stitch in place -

     Fold the raw edge of the left edge to the wrong side and zig zag stitch. 
    Make a fold 15cm from the edge and stitch a 2cm seam from the fold to the neatened edge -
    and make a double fold and stitch to neaten the rest of the edge. Turn right side out, and repeat with the other end. This creates the pocket section
    Mark the compartments along the pocket section - I made my sections 9cm (3 1/2") to fit the tools, but your tools may be different sizes so measure before stitching - I stitched along the bottom edge for 9cm, then stitched up to the edge, and double stitched at the top before stitching back to the bottom, and repeated along the length of the roll -
    Next I made a narrow double fold along the last raw edge and stitched with a straight stitch, then folded the edge over 8cm to create a flap. Stitch along the fold.
    Finally - I put the tools in the roll,
    and rolled it up to find where to stitch the tie -
    I stitched the ribbon tie just above the line of the pockets and reinforced with several rows of stitching.
    I apologise for the rather scruffy tools but they are rather old now!
    It's quite a quick project, and I hope it's useful, as I mentioned before it can be adapted to take all sorts of different tools, or cables.
    That's all for now - I'll be back next week.


  • Little houses doorstop

    Thursday, 4 June, 2015

    Hello again - on a lovely summer day. I know it may not last but it does make me plan for days on the patio - sipping long cool drink, and what do you need to help you relax?
    A doorstop - OK that may not have been your first thought - but you have to admit when you think about it for a while it is a good choice, because how often does the door blow shut just as you get to it while carrying a tray of nibbles and drinks!!
    So here it is -  
    Although I say it myself, I really like this - I've been wondering how to use this die for quite a while and now here it is. As you know I'm often finding new favourite dies, and this is one of them.
    You will need the following to make this -
    30cms x 112cm (12" x 44") fabric for the actual doorstop - as I used a lightweight cotton I added a fusible interfacing to the wrong side to stiffen it. If you use a thicker fabric you do not need to do this.
    6 pieces of contrasting fabrics each 12cm x 20cm (5" x 8") for the houses.
    72cm x 20cm (29" x 8") of fusible web (like Bondaweb or Heat'n'Bond)
    Thread for stitching.
    Buttons for embellishment
    Filling, including something heavy to weight it with.
    To start I cut the plain fabric into the following pieces -
    1 x 62cm x 25cm (25 1/2" x 10") for the sides
    2 x 17cm (6 3/4") squares for the top and bottom
    1 x 17cm x 7cm (6 3/4" x 3")  for the handle
    Fuse the web to the wrong side of the contrasting fabrics, and then using the house die cut out the houses, hearts and roofs. You will need to cut out another roof, and at least 2 extra hearts from each fabric.
    Arrange the house, roofs and hearts along one long side of the fabric and fuse in place -
    I arranged mine in an irregular line, and then I stitch them in place with a straight stitch on my machine.
    Using a mint green thread I created 'grass' along the bottom edge -
    and added buttons for flowers -
    Join the ends of the fabric together with a 1cm (1/2") seam allowance. Use a pin to mark the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 points on the top and bottom edges. With right sides together pin the base to one quarter of the side, and stitch in place, then snip the seam allowance on the side fabric (this is so that you can manipulate the fabric and avoid puckers), do be careful not to cut through the stitching.
    Repeat this so that all four sides are stitched.
    To make the handle make a 1cm fold along each long edge and then fold the handle in half, so that the edges are inside. Stitch both folds, and then stitch the handle to the remaining square -
    and then stitch it in place, leaving an opening on one side -
    Turn the doorstop the right way out and fill with your choice of weight and filling.
    Slip stitch the opening together and it's ready for use ( and I only hope the sun is still shining)
    That's all this week. I hope you can enjoy sun and sewing this week.

  • Little birds for a baby

    Thursday, 28 May, 2015

    The long anticipated baby has arrived - and it's a boy - James Arthur, brother to 3 beautiful girls!
    So there will be a quilt for him - but I really must finish the quilts for two of his sisters and one of his cousins before I start his ( the good news is that all 3 tops are made - I just need to layer them up and quilt them!!)
    So a quick gift is what I need - so here it is -
    a little string of birds that can fix across his pram - I did think of adding some little bells to this but know that my daughter, Naomi, wouldn't appreciate it.
    I used Bigz die 657685 http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/657685/sizzix-bigz-die-birds-3 and the Big Shot http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/660200/sizzix-big-shot-machine-only-white-gray  to cut the birds in felt - I chose grey and aqua - cutting 4 birds, 2 wings and 2 eyes in grey, and 2 birds, 4 wings and 4 eyes in aqua.
    I started by stitching the eyes and wings in place, using a small running stitch, but this can also be stitched on a machine. ( remember to make pairs of birds)

    Then I stitched 2 grey birds together, with a length of grey ric rac running through the middle, and adding a little toy stuffing before completing the stitching -
    it just remained to complete the other 2 birds in the same way.
    I now have a little gift to take when I visit again tomorrow.
    An alternative would be to make the birds into a mobile - hanging the birds from ribbon attached to the back.
    I could also make a little quilt to match - or even add a bird to a tiny t-shirt - I'm sure my granddaughters will help me decide on the next thing to make for him.
    So that's all for this week, have fun sewing.

  • Summer bag inspired by Chelsea Flower Show

    Thursday, 21 May, 2015

    I love going to the quilt shows, and seeing all the amazing quilts and seeing lots of lovely new fabrics. This year I only managed to see a few of the quilts as I wasn't well and so didn't go to the show early - but I did manage to see some of the winners and some of the quilts on my way in.
    As always I'm impressed by the skill and originality of the quilts on display, and the wonderful mix of colour.
    So now I'm enjoying watching the Chelsea Flower Show - I love the vibrant colours and mass of different shapes of the flowers - so it may not surprise you to see that my project this week involves flowers
    I found some beautiful wool felt on Margaret Fox Floral Arts (https://www.floralcraftsupplies.co.uk/Margaret-Fox-Home  stand at Malvern - and decided to make this little bag with floral decoration.
    For the bag I cut -
    2 pieces of pink felt 24cm x 20cm (9 1/2" x 8") for the bag
    2 pieces of pink floral fabric 24cm x 22cm (9 1/2" x 9") for the bag lining
    2 pieces of pieces of pink floral 34cm x 6cm (13" x 2 1/2") bag handles
    Using the Big Shot Machine and Bigz dies -Heartfelt 660233
    Flowers, Layers and Leaves 657690
    and Flower layers #13
    I cut out and assortment of flowers and hearts in felt and the pink floral fabric.

    To make the bag I curved the bottom edges of the felt and fabric bag pieces.
    Then on one of the pieces of felt I arranged the flowers, and took a photo -
    so that I could remove the felt flowers and stitch on the fabric flowers -
    I used a large irregular running stitch to secure the flowers, and frayed some of the edges using a nail file.
    I then stitched the felt flowers in place with a central button, and the hearts with small stitches along themed line.
    Then I pinned the 2 felt pieces together, with the flowers innermost, and stitched the sides and bottom together ( a 6mm/1/4" seam allowance), and turned it right side out.
    I stitched the bag lining in the same way, but left an opening in the bottom to allow for turning.
    The bag straps were folded in half down the length, wrong sides together, and a 6mm/1/4" seam allowance was press along each long side, and one end was pressed to create a point. The straps were then stitched along the fold.
    I pinned the straps to each side of the bag -
    and then put the lining over the  bag, Right sides together, and pinned the top edges together. When the edge was stitched the bag was turned right side out, and the opening in the lining was stitched together.
    To finish the bag, the lining was tucked inside and the lining showed as a border around the top of the bag, I pinned and then stitched the bag and the lining together along the seam line.
    Tie the straps together and the bag is ready for use.
    I think this is a great little bag to a summer party, or for a little girl.
    I hope you've enjoyed this project - and as Chelsea is always a sea of colour I'm just playing with another project -
    I'm not sure that I like the colour for the cushion - but I think a few more flowers and then some leaves and stems - either in ribbon or embroidery will look great.
    So until next week - keep enjoying your sewing ( and Chelsea if you like flowers)

  • Spring is in the air - but snow is just around the corner!

    Thursday, 14 May, 2015


    OK I hope that really isn't quite right about the weather - but I did see Nik Sewell's new snowball quilt - and it's so neat and quick to make the blocks using the Big Shot machine and the Bigz dies - I'm just going to show you a couple of blocks - and think this would be a great way to use up all those small pieces that you can't bear to throw out.
    For each 4" finished square you will need 4 x 1" finished squares.
    Put a small square on each corner of the bigger square, and stitch diagonally from corner to corner -
    Trim the corners to a 1/4" seam allowance and then press the seam towards the middle of the square. Repeat for as many squares as you need.
    Here you can see how the 'snowballs' come together. I think this is going to be fun to make.
    If when you're cutting a quilt you have some small bits left over you could cut a couple of 4" finished squares, and keep them in a bag for when you're ready to make this quilt. If you're really organised cut a lot of 1" finished squares and then you could make a couple of blocks each time you have a couple of spare minutes, and you'll be surprised how quickly you'll have a quilt top pieced!!
    Now I mentioned Nik Sewell earlier - and he is part of the CottonPatch team http://www.cottonpatch.co.uk/ and I am demonstrating on their stand at the Quilt Show at Malvern this week - so if you'd like to see Nik's complete quilt come and see us. I'll be demonstrating the Big Shot, and Big Shot Plus machines, along with lots of the Bigz dies. Come along and say hello.
    See you soon.

  • Friends - new and old

    Thursday, 7 May, 2015

    How quickly the weeks are flying by - it only seems like yesterday that I wrote my last blog!!
    I've just spent a lovely morning here at Black Sheep Wools - demonstrating and training with the Big Shot Plus, and Bigz dies - which you can see laid out on the table.
    This quilt is one of my all time favourites -
     I made this quilt using the Big Shot Machine, and Bigz hexagon dies - 658316,
    and die 658317,  http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/658317/sizzix-bigz-die-hexagons-1-sides-2 , for the fabrics. I used some of the Tilda fabrics for the quilt.
    I tacked the fabric over the papers, and then stitched them into lozenge shaped blocks - these travelled with me on holiday, to appointments - it's so easy to just keep a small bag with papers, cut fabric, scissors, needle and thread, in your bag and you can stitch a few whenever you have a few minutes (even in your coffee break).
    I decided to add the border, and add some half blocks to complete the quilt.
    There really isn't a quick way to put a hexagon quilt but at least the cutting is quick and precise.
    Now next week is quilt show at Malvern - I'll be there demonstrating with The CottonPatch - I hope to see you there.

  • Tessellations for fun

    Thursday, 30 April, 2015

    I’ve been very busy this weekend, but I haven’t finished the quilt from the last blog. I’ve been a little distracted because I suddenly thought that I need to get some quilts finished for my grandchildren – before the next one is born ( due around 20th May)!!
    You see I’ve made one for Oona the youngest, and Daniel, the eldest already has a couple of quilts, but Kieron and Abi  are still waiting for me to complete theirs, and I haven’t started one for Eve – until today.
    So I hope you’ll bear with me.
    I’m featuring just one die – Tessellating Pinwheel 659584 http://www.sizzix.co.uk/catalog#q=tessellating% – but with about 5 different layouts/colours.
    You do need to be careful cutting - if you are using patterned fabrics you will need to make sure that the fabric is always the same way up so that all the pinwheels tessellate in the same direction - for plain fabrics it doesn't matter ( but you do need to make sure that you stitch plain fabrics to keep the tessellation correct)
    The first 2 samples are of cushion covers – the first shows the easiest layout – just using 2 fabrics, so each block is the same.
    The second cushion cover uses more fabrics but they are laid out in rows - so it’s still really easy.
    Now this quilt is for Abi – she loves elephants – so these fabrics are ideal for her – and the quilt will be bordered with fabric with just elephants. This is the most challenging layout – you need to lay all the pieces out in rows – so that all the blocks make interwoven pinwheels – you need to do careful pinning and labelling (and even so I still needed to relay the last 3 rows again before stitching.
    I think it's worth the effort - at least I do now all the rows are stitched!!
    The next photo shows the beginning of Kieron’s quilt – now he decided that he wanted the pieces to be put together in a random design – I couldn’t quite cope with that so I’m creating pinwheels with random fabrics around each one – it’s easier – but I’m not sure how it will look when it’s complete – I guess the important thing will be that Kieron likes it.
    It will be interesting to see this progress!
    Now Eve has said that she would like to make her own quilt, and she can use my sewing machine quite confidently, but at the age of 6, I think this might take her quite a while – so I’ve started this quilt – and it’s so easy!
    As long as I make sets of 4 matching pink with 4 white pinwheels – then the lay out is so simple because the blocks can just be joined together –
    The great thing about this one is that I'm using some of the fabrics from my stash, and I also think Eve will love it.
    So 5 looks from 1 die – I reckon that’s very good value for money.
    Will I have them all finished by next week – no – but I’ll keep you updated, and hopefully complete them before the newest member of our family arrives!
    So enjoy this Bank Holiday weekend, and I’ll be with you again next week.

  • My happy new quilt

    Thursday, 23 April, 2015

    This last week has been so lovely - but I haven't been tempted away from my sewing!
    I've finished the quilt top that I showed you last week - it's only small but I do like it -
    The finished size is 42 1/2" square - so makes a cute little lap quilt or even a picnic blanket.
    The blocks are made using - http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/660183/sizzix-bigz-l-die-triangles-isosceles-right-3-1-2-h-assembled and the 3"finished square - http://www.sizzix.co.uk/product/657608/sizzix-bigz-die-square-3-finished-3-1-2-unfinished 
    The fabrics and amounts you need are as follows -
    Centre squares - 3 pieces 12" x 4" - more if you are going to cut motifs for each square
    Star points - 3 pieces 36" x 4 1/2" 
    As I mentioned before I used the lovely fabric from the Fenton House collection by Guetermann for the stars.
    White - 27" x 42" for the triangles and squares.
    For the inner borders - dusky purple - 27" x 42" - cut into 2" strips and then cut 18 x 9 1/2" and 18 x 12 1/2"
    For the sashing, outer border, and binding - 27" x 42" - cut into 2" strips.
    - For the sashing cut 6 x 12 1/2", 2 x 39 1/2".
    - For the outer border cut 2 x 39 1/2" and 2 x 42 1/2" ( now my fabric wasn't quite wide enough so I had to join an extra piece onto each end )
    - the remaining strips are for the binding.
    Backing and wadding - 45" square of each

    Make the 9 blocks - you can see the layout for each block in my blog on 9th April.
    Add the borders to each block.
    Then join the blocks with the sashing, and then add the border.
    Now this is as far as I've got this week - but all that is needed is to layer up the backing, wadding and top. Quilt by hand or machine - I'm not sure yet how I'm going to quilt - but hope to be able to show you what I've done by next week.
    Binding uses the remaining strips, and voila! one small quilt completed
    And now for something completely different - but with the same die -
    If you join the triangles together in rows of 3, as pictured above, you can make easy hexagons!!
    Or using 2 fabrics and staggering the rows you can make a zig zag design -
    and that's just a starters - I like the idea of using one die for lots of different effects and projects - so next week I might still be on this die - you'll have to wait and see.
    Hope you have a lovely weekend and make something fun.

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