• Spring flowers

    Thursday, 26 March, 2015

    What a lovely morning - bright sunshine and lots of primroses in bloom - I think Spring is definitely here - even though it's still a bit cold outside.
    Last week I met a whole lot of you at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC in Birmingham, where we made coasters using the lovely flower die -

     these made an easy and relaxing workshop project - we cut the flower using the flower die and the coaster circles using -
    and we used the lovely new Big Shot Plus machine -
    We stitched the flower centre to the flower first, and then stitched the flower to one of the circles.
    To complete the coaster we stitched the 2 circles together.
    Now some of you will have noticed that this is the same flower die that I used last week to make cushion covers because I want to show that you can use one die for lots of different things.
    During one of the workshops one lady suggested that the coaster could become a needle case - so here's one I made earlier -

    I used a thicker felt for the front and back of the needle case, and a thin felt for the centre
    leaves, and the front flower. Instead of stitching all round the circles I just stitched a straight line on one side.
    Later the same day another lady suggested that a child's bag could be made by leaving an opening at the top, and attaching a ribbon -

    Again I used a thicker felt for the circles to give some strength to the bag - this would make a cute little Easter gift - filled with little chocolate eggs, or some beads to make some jewellery.
    So now I'm back home, and haven't got any shows booked for the next few weeks so I can concentrate on those little baby quilts!!

  • Flower trilogy

    Thursday, 19 March, 2015

    It certainly feels like spring is here - I have a scattering of snowdrops in my front garden, some delightful miniature daffodils in the back garden and the mornings and evenings are getting lighter.
    So as I've been busy preparing for the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC, this weekend, a project with flowers seemed to be the obvious choice, and I have to admit that this project keeps growing!
    It started with coasters, which we will be making in workshops at the show, and then I thought it would be nice to show another project using the same die - and that has now turned into 3 cushions embellished with the same flower but each slightly different...... and then I thought about napkin rings, table runners, bag embellishments I've stopped. There are 3 cushions, and the idea now that you could make lots of different things just using one die - the only limit is your imagination or time!
    We have lots of different flower dies but for these projects I have chosen this slightly irregular flower
    and I used it with the lovely new Big Shot Plus ( not because I needed to but because I just love this new size machine!!)
    This is the first cushion - with the flowers scattered randomly - some with leaves but most without.
    I chose to stitch around the flower petals and centres on this, and the leaves I just stitched down the centre -
    On my second cushion I decided to arrange the flowers more formally into a wreath -
     and I just stitched the flower centres in place so that there is a slight 3D effect -
    which made me think that it would be nice to create more of a 3D effect so that led to this cushion -
    Each flower uses 5 cut flowers. Fold 4 of the flowers into quarters and stitch to keep in place -
    and then stitch the 4 flowers together onto a base flower -
    and then add a centre -

    or -
    Make as many as you like (I made 3) and then stitch them onto a cushion cover -

    So this trilogy of flower cushions make me smile, and think about eating out on the patio - which made me think about a table runner with flowers scattered along it. The 3D flowers would make a nice embellishment for napkin rings, and you could add a name tag to each one for easy setting planning.
    If you cut the flowers out of voile you could scatter them on tables for parties or weddings.
    They could also be used to decorate a plain bag for a special occasion.
    Think I'm getting carried away here - so perhaps I should stop here and get some more work done on those overdue baby quilts.
    Whatever your weekend holds I hope you'll find some time to sew, or perhaps come and see me at the NEC in the Sewing for Pleasure show.

  • Thank you Glasgow

    Thursday, 12 March, 2015

    That may sound like a strange title - but I have just been to the Stitching, Sewing and Quilting Show at the SECC in Glasgow, where I taught a workshop using the new Big Shot Plus machine to cut hexagons to make a patchwork coaster. It was my first visit to Glasgow and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting lots of patchwork and sewing enthusiasts, and we had a lot of fun and laughter - so thank you for making me feel so welcome!
    One of my first workshop attendees was Debbie Price - who wasn't very confident about her stitching skills and wasn't sure that she could or would complete the coaster. I suggested that I would give her a small prize if she completed it before the end of the show - and to my great surprise she came the very next morning to show me her completed coaster -
    I was suitably impressed -she had stitched it very well.
    I do love going out to the shows and running workshops or doing demonstrations with the Big Shot and the Bigz dies - because I love to see the response when someone sees it working for the first time.
    There were some lovely quilts on display and in the competitions ( I haven't included photos because I haven't asked permission)
    So this week I thought I'd put the instructions for my coaster on the blog - and it is easy enough that you still have time to complete it as a small gift for mother's day!! and you can see how it looks completed in the photo of Debbie!


    I used the new Big Shot Plus machine
    and a 1" sided hexagon and a 1 1/4" sided hexagon

    Sizzix® Bigz™ Die Hexagons #2 1” side  and 

    Sizzix® Bigz™ Die Hexagons 1 ¼” side 659834

    25cm x 13cm each of 2 contrasting or co-ordinating fabrics

    Paper to use as hexagon templates

    Wadding 25cm x 13cm for hexagon templates

    Thread for piecing


    1.    Using the Big Shot machine and die 659835 cut 7 hexagons in paper, and 7 in wadding

    2.    Using the machine and die 659834 cut 7 hexagons from  each fabric

    3.    Pin one fabric hexagon to one paper, fold the fabric edges over the paper and tack the fabric corners together ( don’t stitch through the paper)

    4.    Repeat with the remaining 6 papers.

    5.    Repeat step  with the wadding and the remaining fabric hexagons

    6.    Stitch 6 hexagons around a contrast central hexagon.

    7.    Repeat with the remaining 7 hexagons.

    8.    Press well

    9.    Remove the paper from all the hexagons.

    10.                       Pin the 2 hexagon ‘flowers’ together and slip stitch the folded edges together to complete the coaster

  • Flower cushion for Mother

    Thursday, 5 March, 2015

    Last year my daughters bought me a beautiful cushion for Mothers Day - I loved it then and still love it now - and the grandchildren aren't allowed near it!!
    So this year I thought I'd make one as a gift for my mother in law  -

    I've used 1/2m natural coloured linen for the cushion cover -
    for the cushion front cut 1 x 17" square, for the cushion backs cut 2 x 13 1/2" x 17"
    For the flowers I used small pieces of blue, green, yellow and coral plain cottons to which I fused web - (like Heat'n'Bond, Steam a Seam, Bondaweb) to the wrong side before I cut the shapes.
    I used Bigz Die 657117, , to cut 6 petal in green and 6 in blue, and 1 centre in green and 1 in yellow
    and Bigz Die 657114, , to cut the flowers, 1large and 1 small in yellow and coral.
    Arrange the flowers quite high on the cushion front, so that there is room for the stitched stems and leaves, and I appliqued the flowers using a straight machine stitch, but you could use a zig zag stitch or hand stitch with back stitch or blanket stitch. For my stems and leaves I used a triple stitch on my sewing machine, but you could use stem stitch, back stitch or chain stitch, if you choose to stitch by hand.

    The back of the cushion cover is made in 2 pieces, each with a 2" double fold along one long edge. Stitch buttonholes along the middle of one double fold, and then stitch the buttons on the other double fold - to match the buttonholes.
    Do the buttons up and then lay the cushion front and back right sides together. Pin around all 4 sides and then stitch, with a 1/2" seam. I neatened the raw edges with a zig zag machine stitch.
    Undo the buttons and then turn the cushion cover the right way out .
    I think this is lovely for a gift for Mothers Day - I might even make one for myself!
    Now progress on the baby quilts hit a stop sign at the weekend because I wasn't well - but I'm taking them to Glasgow with me - hoping that I can sew in my hotel room, in the evenings, after the show each day! Well let's wait until next week to see if that happened.
    Enjoy the early spring sunshine and keep sewing!

  • Rainbow Baby quilt

    Thursday, 26 February, 2015

    Have I mentioned that my nephews and niece are all expecting babies at about the same time!!
    Well the babies have all be born - in the space of 11 days - so now I have to get sewing pretty quickly.
    I had thought that I would design completely different quilts for each one - but reality and time pressure has won the day - I am going to make them all from the same fabrics but make each slightly different - my fabrics are these -
    I bought these lovely spotted fabrics a little while ago and hadn't decided what to do with them - so I've started by cutting a lot of rectangles using the new Big Shot Plus and Bigz die 659837 - 2" x 4" finished.
    To begin I cut 6 rectangles from each of the 17 fabrics.  I think it will be lovely to include all of the colours for the boys and the girl - no sex discrimination here!
    to cut white strips to form sashing.
    Now at the moment I don't know how many of anything I'm going to use for each quilt - I know that's not helpful but this is as far as I've got with the first quilt -

    All I can say is that you'll have to look at my blog again next week for more details - I plan to have this quilt made (maybe not quilted though), I'm after all the babies don't know I running late with their presents!!!
    Also next week I'll have a gift to make for Mother's Day.
    So now I'm off to have a cup of tea and some lunch before continuing the quilt.
    Last reminder that I'll be running workshops in Glasgow, Sewing Knitting and Quilting Show at the SECC. I hope to see some of you there.


  • Starry coasters

    Thursday, 19 February, 2015

    I've had a very busy weekend at the Stitches trade show at the NEC in Birmingham - I love these shows where I have the chance to meet customers old and new - and I still love demonstrating the Big Shot machines and the dies. I also had the privilege to teach a workshop each day - and the photo below showcases what we made and two lovely ladies who played with the layout of the stars so that we used all three instead of two ( sorry girls I didn't get your names so can't mention you personally).
    The project was initially to make a pin cushion but it could just as easily be a pin cushion!
     We used the new Big Shot Plus - check it out on our website - it has a 9" wide aperture - so will be able to accommodate larger dies, and I love the new colour which is available in all 3 machine sizes, and is available from next month.
    The dies we used were Bigz 5" circle - ,to cut 2 circles, and the new Nested Star - which we used to cut contrasting stars. We used a running stitch to fix the stars to one circle and then stitched the 2 circles together - a lovely quick and easy project. To make it into a pin cushion simply leave an opening, stuff and then complete stitching the circle.
    and here is the alternative next to the original -

    If you stitched these by machine then they could even be made as wedding favours ( as long as you're not having hundreds of people to the wedding!!!!)
    Now I'm going to show you some photos of our stand at Stitches - and with it you'll get a glimpse of new dies that will become available over the next few months, and which will feature in some of my future blogs - hope you like them -

    I loved our room setting - which gave an idea of lots of different ways to use our dies to create lots of lovely projects for the home.
    So that's all for now.
    I'll be at the Stitching Sewing and Quilting Show in Glasgow at the beginning of March - so I hope to see some of you there, and then later in March I will be at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC in Birmingham. A busy month ahead, but I hope to meet lots of you there.
     Stitching Sewing & Quilting Show

  • Dinner for 2

    Thursday, 12 February, 2015

    As promised last week - here is a quick make for Valentine's day - yes you can still make something!
    2 coasters and matching serviettes - really are a quick make - especially if you do what I did - and buy ready made serviettes and use one to make the coasters.
    I used my trusty Big Shot machine , and Bigz Die -   - I cut 4 x 5" circles from a serviette and 2 x 5" circles of wadding.
    I stitched 2 pieces of fabric and 1 piece of wadding ( on top ) together and clipped the seam and trimmed the wadding -

    I then cut a small opening through a one layer of fabric,
    to be able to turn the coaster right side out -
    to create a smooth edge I ran a crochet hook around the seam on the inside, and then pressed flat.
    Using die , - I cut 2 sets of 3 hearts from white textured fabric, which I had already applied fusible web to.
    I fused the 2 small hearts onto the coasters - making sure that I covered the opening with the heart, and then I stitched the hearts in place.

    For the serviettes I fused a large and a medium heart in the corner of each serviette and then machine stitched them in place to match the coasters.
    Now how easy was that?
    Not really into Valentine's day -well this could be a pretty little gift for an engagement or even a  wedding present.
    I'm not going to be at home for Valentine's day - I'll be at the NEC getting ready for the trade show - Stitches, which starts on Sunday 15th. Maybe I'll see you there, and if not I may have some photos of new fabrics for later in the year, who knows?
    What will I be sewing next? probably some baby quilts - with 3 great nephews due in the next few weeks and another grandchild in May - it looks like I'm going to be busy with quilts as gifts - but at least they're small.
    Also as promised last week  - I couldn't decide how to quilt it and after a couple of false starts I decided to just stitch in the corners of the squares and rectangles so that it's almost invisible. Then to stitch around the unfinished edges so that the wool will fray out a little for a lovely soft edge.

    I'm so pleased to have completed this ( and before the cold weather has completely gone ), and I guess I should call it a throw as it is only 2 layers and a quilt always has . I shall be nice and snug under it what ever I call it anyway!!!

    Hope you like it.

  • Sitting comfortably

    Thursday, 5 February, 2015

    The mornings and evenings are getting lighter and the snowdrops are out in my garden – it must nearly be spring!!

    Before I get carried away with the idea of spring and then summer, I will concentrate on Valentines treats – this cushion is so easy to make – and could be given as a gift to mark a birthday, anniversary or a special friendship.

    I have just treated myself to this Alphabet set – which I know I am going to use a lot, but you could just buy a few at a time ( or put it on a wish list for you nearest and dearest to see!!)

    Obviously this week I just used 4 letters –

    To make the cushion you will need –

    ½ - 1 metre of fabric (depending on width) from which you cut
    1 x 18 ½” square
    2 x 14 ¼” x 18 ½”
    Red fabric – 20” x 6”
    Fusible Web 20” x 6”
    3 buttons
    Matching threads
    18” cushion pad

    To make –
    To make the cushion back –

    Fuse the web onto the wrong side of the red fabric and cut into 4 equal pieces 5” x 6”

    Cut each letter once using the Big Shot and each die – place the fabric right side down on the die to cut.

    Arrange the letters on the cushion front, and fuse in place -

    Stitch in place, by hand or machine – I hand stitched using a buttonhole stitch with matching red thread.

    Press a double 2” fold along the longer side of each piece 

    10 ¼” x 18 ½” – press and then stitch buttonholes on one piece and stitch 3 buttons on the other.

    Do the buttons up and lay the cushion front on top so that the right sides are together – pin and stitch around the 4 sides (I double stitched over the folded layers to give strength)

    Undo the buttons and turn the cushion right side out

    I have enjoyed making this cushion so much I am going to make some more with different words on – watch this space!

    Now I’m aware that I promised a picture of the wool quilt this week – well it’s not quite finished yet so please be patient and I hope to have it completed by next week – along with a very quick make for Valentine’s dinner.

  • Snug as a bug!

    Thursday, 29 January, 2015

    That's what I'll be when this little lap quilt is complete -
    I decided to try to use up all of the wool fabric that I had - so this really is a scrap quilt - which is already becoming a favourite before it's quite finished - maybe partly because the weather forecast is for much colder weather and I will be able to curl up under this beauty!
    To get the most out of the pieces of wool I had I decided to cut more squares and rectangles in different sizes - I have already cut out rectangles using Bigz die 658113 - 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" unfinished
    and squares using Bigz Die 659838 - 4 1/2" unfinished square -
    using the Big Shot machine, and then
    I also cut out some 3 1/2" unfinished squares with die 
    and some 3 1/2" x 6 1/2" unfinished rectangles -
    My plan was to create 12" finished blocks - so I could make some using all of the 4"/8" shapes and some using the 3"/6" shapes --
    The photo below shows the lay out for the 4"/8" pieces
     and this photo shows the layout for the 3"/6" pieces. ( the photo is a cheat because the proper one came out a very strange colour so I laid out another block but didn't have enough rectangles!!!)
    I had enough pieces to make a total of 16 blocks which I decided to lay the pieces out randomly, but took care to make sure that the colours and patterns were mixed in each row.
    I joined the blocks into 4 rows of 4 and then joined the rows - so I have a lap quilt measuring 48 1/2" square.
    Just a note that I still only used a 1/4" seam and I pressed the seams flat open on the wrong side to try to reduce bulk at the seams.
    I like it so much I'm going to add another photo -
    I'm going to back the quilt with either a plain wool or fleece - I'll show you a photo of it finished next week.
    And just as I was going to finish this blog - one of my friends, Alex, suggested that there were enough pieces left to make a cushion so I trimmed the remaining pieces to 3 1/2" squares and laid them out like this -
     which when stitched together became a cushion front -
    which then just left this -
    I'm very pleased to have used so much of these beautiful fabrics and will show you the finished quilt and cushion next week - along with a lovely valentine project.
    Keep warm this week - I'm hoping for snow to go and play in with the grandchildren - we can hope.


  • Welsh warmers

    Thursday, 22 January, 2015

    With the cold weather continuing I have decided to use up my stash of beautiful welsh wool fabrics to make a lap quilt - but before I show you that - here is my little bag, from last week, finished with a lovely pair of handles -
     I was so pleased to find these handles locally - and they were so simple to hand stitch in place as the holes were pre-punched in the leather heart.
    I think I will make some more of these bags - experimenting with different size squares to change the size of the bag.
    So now for the lap quilt - it's only cut at the moment - and I'm not sure how big it will be, or if I'll be able to use all of the different colours together -
    I have cut out rectangles using Bigz die 658113 - 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" unfinished
    and squares using Bigz Die 659838 - 4 1/2" unfinished square -
    This should be a very quick quilt to make - and I'm going to use a fleece fabric for the backing - so next week I hope to have a quilt to show you.
    Keep warm - and keep sewing.

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