Friday, 19 May 2017

May at Plush Addict

I've got totally distracted with animal prints for my May visit to Plush Addict, there seemed to be so many new ones! Plus there's a 70% mid season clearance sale until 22nd May which covers all departments, dressmaking, habby and quilting.

Clockwise from top left:

  1. Makower Studio Forest Talk 8 Blue Fabrics.  A very pretty mix of colours and prints with a forest/floral theme.   A green selection is also available as well as individual yardage.
  2. Michael Miller Pink Bunny Plush.  A short pile/plush cuddly fabric with a dimple effect. 
  3. Riley Blake Bunnies and Cream Bundle with Panel.  Gorgeous vintage style rabbit print from Penny Rose fabrics.  Bunnies, florals and recipes, what's not to like?  Individual prints can be found in the bundle listing. 
  4. Kokka Story Time Bear.  Japanese fabric, high quality printed cotton gauze.  This would be beautiful for a new baby- making pretty muslin cloths, something that gets so much use and is so easy to do, just a double turned hemmed square.
  5. Michael Miller Sassy Cats Blue Bundle.  Cats and geometric blenders, v cute!  Also available as a pink bundle
  6. Porter & Stone Burghley Novelties, Hartley, Curtain Fabric.  Stunning print which can only make me think of Hartley Hare from Pipkins (you need to be of a particular vintage to remember that reference!).  Note the five day lead time on this item for ordering. 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

More Travel Outbound Bags

I've been busy making as per usual and I thought I'd share a couple of Travel Outbound bags that I sewed up.  I first made Chase's (¼ Inch Mark) pattern in January for a swap partner at The Threadhouse Retreat and I knew then I'd need one and it had great potential as a gift project and is easy to personalise to match the recipient.  I made one for me to co-ordinate with my Cora bag, and then one for my mum (the Cotton+Steel cat print canvas) as a birthday gift.  She loves it: perfect as a caddy for storing her phone, iPad, puzzles, pens all in one place.  She's quite hard to make for so I'm extra pleased with this one.

It's a great pattern with a very satisfying result.  It relies on good quality zips and I bought these Japanese ball zips from Nanagracy on Etsy.  Great choice of colours and sizes and they arrived fast too, well worth it!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

May at Village Haberdashery

Time for my May visit to Village Haberdashery and Annie's been making some exciting announcements including a visit from quilting royalty, Anna Maria Horner in August and some classes that she'll be running at the shop:

Clockwise from top left:

  1. A choice of classes with Anna Maria Horner, Folk Flower Block, Travelling Blooms Quilt or Inspiration by Hand.  Something for all tastes, reverse appliqué, colour, embroidery and hand sewing work. 
  2. Etta Dress by Tilly and the Buttons.  Tilly Walnes newest pattern, a fitted dress, lots of dart shaping and optional details.  The construction looks interesting, I enjoyed seeing the inside of the sleeve with its bias finish on Jane's version of Etta in this blog post. 
  3. Wanderlust Tee by Fancy Tiger.  Easy fitting, boxy style T-shirt pattern with closer fit in the shoulders, flaring out to a slight A-line. 
  4. Birdsong Collection by Joanne Cocker for Dashwood Studio.  This collection is everywhere at the moment and I'm not surprised, pretty muted colours and soft modern prints. 
  5. Sleep Tight, Toys in Grey.  Sarah Watts for Cotton+Steel, part of a very cute, gender neutral nursery style collection
  6. Observer Knit, Triangle Tokens in Metallic Ink, April Rhodes for Art Gallery. There's 15% off all knit fabrics until end of day16th May with the code KNITS15
  7. Magical Summer PVC Coated cotton, Icons in Multi.  Great for wash bags, PE bags, packed lunch carriers, children's outdoor wear and much more. 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Splendid Sampler Book

The Splendid Sampler started as a 100 block mystery quilt block-along adventure in 2016 with Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson leading the way and inviting 84 designers to contribute blocks inspired by their love of sewing.  The project grew and grew and the Facebook group currently has over 27 000 members.  The blocks were originally free until all 100 had been shared and they were then withdrawn to be published in a book (the bonus blocks remain on the site) and here it is.  I was lucky enough to be one of the contributing designers and it's a very proud moment to flick through this book and be a little part of it alongside so many other amazing quilters.

Part of the Splendid Sampler experience was to try out different techniques and this is reflected in the book, the chapters divide according to the technique.  I thought I'd show you a photo from each of these chapters.

The 'Patchwork Blocks' chapter includes construction diagrams, just like the original shared patterns, alongside the making instructions.

The 'Appliqué Blocks' chapter has written instructions and diagrams where needed and the pattern pieces can be found in a full size pull-out at the back.  There's a mix of needle turn and machine raw edge appliqué.

The 'Foundation-Pieced' chapter, where you can find my First Stitch block, has diagrams, instructions with patterns on the pull-out sheet as before. 

The embroidery chapter has a mix of close-ups and diagrams and the basics for all the different skills are covered in a how-to style chapter at the back.  There's also a gallery of completed quilts showing different setting styles and colour choices. 

The pull-out sheet at the back covers all the templates, patterns and other extras for the various techniques, all full size.

it's generously sized, 11" x 8 ½" approx. with matt finish cover and pages.  I've really enjoyed having  look through; its a joyful, inspiring book, and I'm planning to select some of the blocks I didn't make with the original sew-along and add to my little stack of completed blocks.

A huge congrats to Jane and Pat.  They have both worked tirelessly on this project and remained utterly positive and helpful throughout whilst keeping their usual quilting and design work going including both delivering new fabric lines!  They are two incredibly successful women within the quilting world because of their vision, commitment and sheer hard slog.   I think this project surpassed even their expectations, it had such momentum and that's still ongoing.  You can find all the book details here.  If you missed out first time round, or only got part of the way, there's a second chance to sew-along using the book.  Schedule is due any time! This page has all the details. #thesplendidsampler

Monday, 8 May 2017

Spring Cleaning: New Sew-Ichigo Patterns, Singles, Sets & Freebies

Penny and I have been busy working on the release of our new Spring Cleaning set for Sew-Ichigo.  These patterns were designed as a themed foundation paper piecing cover booklet for Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine in 2015.  We've tweaked some of the patterns to simplify some of the designs and make the piecing a little easier and we've added a new beginner friendly pattern, Trash Bin, which is available as a free download at Payhip (UK/EU) and Craftsy and there's an extra bonus detailed free tutorial taking you through all the steps to sew the free Trash Bin block

Penny and I are currently working on a couple of projects using these blocks- they lend themselves nicely to kitchen, utility room, laundry space makes - and we'll share as they are completed.  I hope you enjoy them and if you make any of our blocks, don't forget to tag us on Instagram- we would love to see.  Find us at @sewichigo and use the hashtag #sewichigo.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Small Piecing Steadies The Mind

When things are all getting a bit much, I'll often turn to something contained to escape from it and regain a feeling of control.  Sometimes this manifests itself in a keen desire to clean the bathroom. The smallest room in the house, the least amount of clutter and it's quickly restored to a satisfying level of cleanliness with the feeling of a job well done.  For crafting, I've found myself making less clothes recently, despite a need for some items, and more attracted to small patchwork piecing.  I started making Glitter quilt blocks after I interviewed Jen Kingwell's for the release of her beautiful Quilt Lovely book and my aim was to hand sew the blocks sporadically on train journeys and weekends away.  The downside to this was it did take me quite a well to prep each block.  I traced the shapes on to template plastic but despite my best efforts, I would lose one of them from time to time, plus seam allowances needed to be added so I would procrastinate the prep task for another day.  Sarah and Penny at Pretty Fabric and Trims posted a picture of Jen Kingwell acrylic templates including a set for Glitter and I thought this would be encouragement to nudge my progress with this project.

They are pricey- maybe it's the cost of importing them from Australia?  The Glitter set is the cheapest  but I do think you have to feel motivated to splash out.  I have found them very useful though and they have sped up my prep.  I draw around the edge on the reverse of the fabric using a Sewline pencil and add the dots at the corners. I then join the dots to create the stitching line and cut out either with scissors or a rotary cutter and ruler.   I'm not sure if this would work for me so well for the curved sets, I think I'd prefer a window style option for that.   I tried rotary cutting with these templates and that worked too.    The edges feel rough, they do not look laser cut and I'll confess this concerned me at first glance but actually made no difference when using them.  They were worth it for me.  I wanted something to hand sew- this project is the equivalent to a Liberty hexagon quilt that just keeps on growing - and I've made more progress this week than I have in ages!  I just love the canvas that each block provides for me: a fussy cut for the centre, two contrasting prints to surround it and a low volume or a dark background to finish.  It rests my mind and there's that satisfaction of completion when another block is cut out or sewn together.  Ahhh. That's better...


Sunday, 30 April 2017

April at Plush Addict

My usual blogging timetable is currently a work-in-progress whilst family stuff keeps my busy, hence the third sponsor post in a row but I didn't want to miss these out.  There's been some great fabrics arriving at Plush Addict and April/May is a bumper time for sewing with more light and seemingly more hours in the day, oh yes and weather that doesn't require wrist to ankle body coverage.

Clockwise from top left:

  1. Fat Quarter Bundle Fabric Freedom.  Bumper bundle of retro floral prints from Fabric Freedom and some blenders from other manufacturers.
  2. Stretch Cotton Jersey Panda Print.  Cotton/lycra knit fabric featuring  panda faces and selling fast...
  3. Riley Blake, Penny Rose Bunnies and Cream, Main Cream.  Hard to resist the cute retro illustrations and patterns in this quilting cotton range. See other available prints here.
  4. Blank Intermix Dobby, Seersucker Blue.  More blue...loving the textural appeal of this one!
  5. Every Day Colour Woven Ikat Black.  So popular in dressmaking at the moment, especially for simple shapes.   The shapes come from the yarn dyed thread in the weave. 
  6. Dashwood Confetti, Large Flower.  My favourite from this screen printing inspired, retro floral range.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

April at Eternal Maker

Second in a row for my April sponsor posts and it's Eternal Maker's turn.  Yes, blue does feature again, no apologies, plus I cannot deny the lure of candy colours!

Clockwise starting top left:
  1. Succulents Kona Solids bundle.  A selection from the Eternal Maker team, FQ cuts.
  2. Deer & Doe Sureau Dress.  Mid-season dress with a mock button placket bodice detail.
  3. Feathers Fall Grey Cotton/Viscose. Dressmaking fabric, cotton and viscose blend so expect a lovely drape and a soft fabric.  
  4. Cloud9 Organic Tinted Denims.  Twill weave denims in a palette of ice cream tints, 8.5oz weight, perfect for jackets, dungaree dresses, skirts with a bit of body and shape!
  5. Plus Yarn dyed in blue, Indikon Robert Kaufman Fabrics.  Gorgeous colour, gorgeous texture- the crosses are created with a floating weave of threads.
  6. Dance Mint Cotton Candy Dashwood Jersey, New cotton/lycra jersey fabrics from Dashwood Studio. 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

April at Village Haberdashery

Due to a rather disruptive month my three sponsor posts look like they are going to be back-to-back at the end of the month.  I usually try and make sure posts are balanced across the month but it can't be helped.  In the meantime, there's so much good stuff freshly arrived at Village Haberdashery, let's take a look...

Clockwise from top left:
  1. Wonderland Collection by Rifle for Cotton+Steel.  This is one of the most popular ranges around at the moment and I know lots of people can't resist buying the whole range, it has such appeal and the use of metallic detail is just beautiful.  One of two prints look like they've sold out but the majority are still available and there's some canvas, rayon and lawn options too. 
  2. Wonderful Things Knit: Aquarelle Study in Tint, Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery.  Gorgeous knit for spring, full of vibrant colour, 95% cotton 5% lycra and 150cm wide. 
  3. SS Bluebird Cotton+Steel.  I cannot resist blue.
  4. Ansa Butterfly dress and top by Named Clothing.  One of my favourite Named Clothing patterns from their newest collection.  
  5. Fiesta Fun Knit: Mexican Dress in Midnight, Dana Willard for Art Gallery.  Another example of not being able to resist blue, but the print is exceptional too, looks amazing in simple shapes, 95% cotton 5% lycra and 150cm wide. 
  6. Ava Rose Fabrics Pretty mix of florals, geometric and mark making prints  by Deena Rutter for Riley Blake, quilting cotton.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Soho Skirt: Liesl+Co Review

Spring means shorter skirt lengths and bare legs whenever possible.  Liesl+Co's new Soho skirt/shorts pattern came out at just the right time for me, I had registered for the notification of sale and thenI had an email from the company offering a chance to try out the pattern in digital format for a review, very fortunate timing, so here it is worn with last year's Maritime knit top.

If you've every made any of Liesl's patterns before, her brands include Liesl+Co, Oliver+S, Straight Stitch Society and Lisette for Butterick, you'll know her instructions are probably the best in the sewing pattern world for clarity, detail and quality and finish.  Her shapes tend to be simple, modern casual styles with some clever twists on traditional features like pleats and pockets.  This skirt appealed to me primarily because I love a contour waist band- this style has it as well as a dandy way to stabilise it.

I don't think anyone likes putting PDF patterns together but I do appreciate when they are thoughtfully designed for this process.  Liesl+Co patterns on printed with a grid making accurate matching nice and easy.  My favourite feature was something I haven't seen before, as each pattern piece became complete, it had a scissor line bordering the actual piece so you could safely cut it out during the assembly rather than struggle with the large master sheet of paper stuck together, very nifty!
It's a relatively quick garment to make.  As expected, instructions are exemplary, everything  including when to finish and how is included. I used some Liberty for the pocket facings and to finish the waist band edge and concealed zipper end.

It's a simple style very well done. I wanted a pleated skirt which had fullness without too much bulk  and with a comfortable waist and that's exactly what I got.  The front pockets are a good size and add to the flattering cut as the sit more smoothly than side seam pockets.  Fitting is based on waist size.  I was between size 4 and 6 so I went upwards and cut a size 6 and made no changes.  It's a little big and sits quite low on the waist so next time I'm cutting between sizes.  I used some left over needlecord.  It's a pattern that could look different according to fabric choice. Canvas and brocade with give you a more structural, formal look and viscose and rayon would have lots of drape so lie much closer to your body. 

I'm going to make a second skirt in a linen/denim blend and I also have some viscose in my stash that I think would work for the shorts in anticipation of summer days on the beach.  I've got  lovely long interview with Liesl in the new May issue of Sewing World magazine- 4 pages of info all about how her designs, her new Building Block Dress Book and living in Spain, all accompanied by beautiful photographs. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.  We've all enjoyed spending some time together again and getting some fresh air.  Thank you for your kind words following my last post, he's doing well. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Dove from Above

 I've just come out of one of those situations in life where everything goes into slow motion and you watch yourself and those around you go into free fall. My husband suddenly ended up in hospital for a prolonged period and what seemed straightforward escalated into something else.  The good news is, we all came out the other side, but the last few weeks have been chaotic and challenging. There was a lot of time to kill so in between staring out of windows, I sewed up the folk bird pattern from Nancy Nicholson's Modern Folk Embroidery book.

The original pattern is a felt appliqué design with embroidery on top but I needed something simpler and portable so I used Sulky Sticky Fabric Solvy which I ended up loving and hating but I've now decide I would use it again. The pluses are that it's printable: inkjet or laser printer, and the stabiliser sticks on top of the base fabric - I used Robert Kaufman yarn dyed Essex linen in Chambray. The downside is I could feel the stickiness as I gripped the embroidery hoop - not good for hot hands!  I worked around this, outlining the main design and trimming back the solvy as far as I could and after initially finding it rather tough to sew through, I found it did a great job as a stabiliser as well as being an easy way to transfer a detailed image. I tested scraps of it before I started sewing to check it did dissolve in water and it does, with a little soaking,  in a rather magical fashion.

There's probably about twenty hours of embroidery in the finished piece.  I haven't decided what I'm going to do with it yet.  Probably a small frame, maybe a fabric border. The Cosmo/Lecien threads were from a Fat Quarter Shop Bonnie and Camille colour selection from a one-off Sew Subscription box I bought a few months back and I used the Primitive Embroidery act needles that came in the same package and I really like sewing with them.  I tended to use three threads of the six-strand floss at a time which worked well with the long eyed needles.  Embroidery like this with a printed design is the perfect distraction, it needed enough engagement for me to concentrate but not so much that I messed up and helped to pass what seemed like endless stretches of time. I'm currently getting everything back on track at home and feeling very grateful that we're all here together, you never know what's round the corner.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Spring Fever

I made a quick little Easter make from a Sew-Ichigo pattern that was so easy and such a cute result, I thought I'd share:

Using the Spring Chick block from the Spring Fever pattern set, I made a quick sandwich of batting and backing fabric and some outline quilting on the machine.  I then trimmed the block to the original square, folded it in half lengthways and drew a half egg shape free hand.  I cut through the double folded layer to create the egg shape.  Then stitched ⅛" from the edge to secure the layers and finished with single bias binding, 1 ½" wide and included a loop.  The Spring Chick can be found in the Sew-Ichigo pattern set which includes lots of other birds as well as tall and short tulips and the same patterns are also available singularly.  

Find the patterns in the Sew-Ichigo Payhip and Craftsy and Etsy shops.  All the designs are foundation paper pieced.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Jerseyprene Raw Edge Coat: The Maker's Atelier

 I recently reviewed Frances Tobin's Essential Collection book which is packed full of classic wardrobe staples with a modern twist and I've been itching to make something from it so I temporarily abandoned my #2017makenine as it's been progressing nicely and chose the raw edge coat as I though it would be a handy garment for Spring weather. Very different to what I usually sew and a quick project too.  Here it is on its first outing in a local park last weekend.

As with all the patterns in the book, there are fabric different options sewn up and photographed in The Essential Collection.  This is not my usual shape so I wanted to try it out with something relatively inexpensive so I chose a cotton feel neoprene which is a soft, double sided fabric with contrasting greys on each side and a spongy, springy feel.  It's comparable to a thick scuba or a very soft neoprene. The Textile Centre has a few options for this- colours, textures- and the quality is v good at a low price. I haven't sewn with fabric like this before- here are a few steps I took:
  • Cut out flat, chalk outline around pattern on reverse of fabric
  • Used rotary cutter to cut out as clean edges are important- raw edge seams are a feature and the edges of the coat are unhemmed
  • Sz 90 Ballpoint or Universal needle.  I used both and both worked
  • Walking foot.  This is bulky fabric, I used my Janome and the Acufeed foot.
  • Low foot pressure.  I used 3 out of 7 (7 is highest pressure)
  • Long stitch length. 2.7mm for seams, 2.8 for top stitching
  • No pressing needed
  • Consider the reverse of your fabric as with this style option there reverse side is a feature e.g. the lapel, and will show.  There are instructions for a lined coat with a more conventional double layer lapel
  • Many edges are raw. I changed this for the top of the pocket as I thought this might get a little bashed about so I used a jersey binding using this viscose binding from Eternal Maker.  although the light grey is sold out I think. 

Pattern details:
  • The coat sizing is one of the mixed-size patterns in the book that span two sizes. I used size 1/2 which is size 32-34" bust.  I am 33" Bust, 27 1/2" waist, 36" hip.
  • The pattern pieces are for a jacket and there are easy instructions to lengthen those pieces for a coat 


These are relatively easy to do if you are sizing down as the construction is simple.  As the seams are visible on the outside and are trimmed down to 3mm, plus seams are hard to unpick as the stitches sink into fabric increasing size would be tricky.   I found the sizing generous and although it is an oversized garment. These are the reductions I made:  
  •  From the side seams, underarms to waist- tapered in by ¾" at waist
  • From hips to hem- tapered in bt 1 ½" at the hem
  • Armscye- this seam is on the inside.  removed ⅜" around the seam tapering to join original seam line at underarm.
  • Sleeve- it's a two part sleeve and I found it especially big at the back so I reduced that seam by ⅜" tapering into the armscye
  • The sleeves were long so I folded them back- the contrast of the reverse fabric ties in with the lapels 

Frances recommends using sewn-in large press studs as fasteners on neoprene rather than buttons/buttonholes as they tend to stretch out of shape.  They need careful sewing as the stitching is visible and the press studs are a feature as well as a practicality.  I follow @sewbrooke on Instagram  She is a freelance seamstress and costumer so a highly skilled maker and she's chatty and helpful too.  One of her top tips on a post a while ago was a clever way to secure your thread on fabrics when you want to avoid a knot:

  Use a double thread but instead of threading the loop through the eye, instead thread the ends through the needle eye and have the loop at the end of the doubled thread - do not tie a knot! Push your needle through the fabric to create a small stitch but do not pull the end loop through; instead pass the needle through the loop and gently pull.  Your thread is now attached.  You can then sew your snap or button. Once sewn on you will cut the thread so you cannot repeat the same technique with the same thread so I used 18" length of thread to sew on each part of the snap.

 A nice effect of this fabric was the dimples the fabric makes under the tension of the hand stitches. 

It's a soft and easy wear.  I did feel a little self conscious going out in what seems like quite a grown up style but it's so comfortable and easy to wear I've found myself putting it on for all my dog walking this week as the weather is dry but a little breezy.  Hmm, sounds like a great transitional piece for Spring as the fashionistas say.  I did add a new wooden badge pin,  Maker from Grace's beautiful Beyond Measure shop.  I've been destashing lots of things recently so this was a little treat.  Made by Arrow Mountain, See the full range of motifs here

 I've more planned from France's book...

Thursday, 30 March 2017

March at Eternal Maker: New Website

The big news for my longtime sponsor Eternal Maker this month is an all-singing, all-dancing website.  It's only just gone live so there still might be a few kinks to iron out but so far, I've found lots of handy features including a super fast Paypal feature as an alternative check out, a double arrow checker to compare product, a heart icon wish list feature (you need to create an account and log in), reviews and much more.

Clockwise from top right:

  1. Alohoa Barkcloth Sevenberry.  Beautiful large floral vintage style pattern on barkcloth at a great price (£14/M).   Works well for clothes with a more structural shape, e.g. Lily Dress by Colette, or Christine Haynes Emery Dress.
  2. Kelly Anorak Close Case Files. On trend practical coat pattern with lots of extra details for a professional finish. Perfect for the Sevenberry Twills. 
  3. Honey Twill Sevenberry.  Medium weight twill weave, swatch selection booklet also available. Great for lightweight coats like the Kelly Anorak, skirts, dungarees, bags etc. 
  4. Brass Buckle Trim.  There are now a plethora of bag making and other hardware options on the website including these buckles.  You can also find dungaree buckles and coloured rivets
  5. Carolyn Friedlander Ariel in Blue Jay.  The most gorgeous brightest blue quilting cotton print from Carolyn Friedlander
  6. Furballs Tabby Road by Tula Pink. Tula's newest technicolour, cat themed collection on quilting cotton. 
  7. Cat Snacks in Strawberry Fields Tabby Road by Tula Pink.  

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Dog Quilt for Lottie

I've been meaning to make our dog Lottie a new quilt in ages.  Her old one, despite repairs has worn through in many places. I recently wrote a feature in my Sewing World Final Thread column all about subscription boxes (it's in the current April issue) and Amy and Angela at My Sewing Box kindly sent me a dog themed box as an example of what they put together on their one-of and gift boxes.  I mixed some of those fabrics with somers in similar colours from my stash plus some precious Heather Ross dog fabric and using a Fancy Tiger Double Star Quilt pattern from a Creative Bug class and stitched her up a little quilt. 

Simple quick construction.  Wide lines of echo quilting, an extra quilted star in the middle and a hand quilting star in Aurifil 12wt in the centre.   Finished size us around 40" square.  Lottie is very happy with it and quickly identified it as her quilt and I enjoy having her and the quilt sat on my lap.