If you’re doing Half Square Triangles for the first time or just always struggle to get your tips to match up – follow the link below for a good illustrated tip. The trick is in the pinning and in not removing your pins too soon.
It’s been a quiet week in the shop. I don’t suppose the gas works taking up what little parking there is has helped – or the rain. However, it’s allowed me some time to do a project. This is a large Christmas wreath that I made up as I went along. I’ve written up the instructions and made a template which you can have for free. I’m not familiar enough with how to save it as a PDF for you to print from here so you’ll have to visit the shop if you would like to collect one. Does it sound like I’m getting so lonely that I have to entice you to come visit with a freebie? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just a touch of early Christmas spirit.
My first Cathedral Window Cushion cover. You can find the pattern here if you want to try it yourself. I’m really happy with the result. I did have a love-hate relationship with it, though; hated standing for all the ironing, but loved turning & stitching back the edges to reveal the fabric underneath. You’re never quite sure what the result is going to be!
The good thing about the shop being a bit quiet lately is that I’ve managed to complete a new sample and get started on another project this week.
Here is the latest sample for the Christmas Tree Skirt class ( October 6th & 10th in Sandgate or November 7th, 14th or 24th in Hythe) It’s kind of hard to show it at it’s beautiful best without a tree, but I’m not going to put mine up in September.
I’ve used fabric from Moda’s Blitzen range for this one. I love the Scandi-type print used for the ruffle and long, wide ties. In this class you get to try out my favourite new toy – the Janome ruffle attachment. It made this project a breeze compared to the last one I made where I had to do all the gathering by hand and keep it evenly distributed around this big circular skirt. It looks scarey but it’s fantastic. Why not join me for a class and make a skirt for yourself or a gift. There’s a choice of fabrics. They really finish off a tree and at the end of the season it’s also collected all the fallen needles so it’s an easy clean up!
And what’s this? Origami or a fabric transformer? No, it’s the start of my first ever Cathedral Windows project. Of course, this isn’t part of the process, I was just messing with it. This is my first sew-along class and, depending on it’s success, I hope to do more in future. I’m using Moda’s ‘Oh Deer’ range for this one – new in just this week. I’ve got a few bolts of decorator weight fabric (the brown on turquoise spot and the brown and turquoise bird print) These should make some great bags for your favourite bird-lover. You’ll have to wait a bit for the picture of my Cathedral Window Cushion.
1930s Summer Perspective Quilt. I just love the simplicity and freshness of this all solids quilt.
Ten Good Reasons to Sew
Not that we need any good reasons, but in case you find yourself having to explain your addiction to others or if you are trying to convince someone to give it a go…here are ten good reasons. (apologies to the author…I copied this from somewhere long ago and now can’t remember where to give credit – just so you know that, although I certainly have said and feel similar, I’m not trying to take credit for summing it up so well.)
There is something completely absorbing about sewing – it demands all your attention, taking your mind off your everyday troubles and into a more meditative realm. Even basic tasks like hemming or sewing on buttons have their own rhythm, and as you become totally engrossed, the mind is free to wander and dream.
It feeds our magpie instinct
Hands up whose fabric stash is overflowing. One of the best things about any textile craft is choosing your fabric – and when it comes to sewing, there are so many tempting options, from expensive-but-so-worth-it Liberty florals to retro bargains you chance upon at a market. Planning what colours and textures will go together and work with your pattern is something to linger on and enjoy before the hard work of actually making up begins.
It’s so satisfying to start with some fabric and thread and gradually watch these parts become a greater whole, or to watch an embroidery or cross-stitch pattern emerge. The possibilities of what you do with your fabric are endless, and the process of transforming them into whatever you like – whether it’s a dress, curtains or a patchwork bedspread – and adding all your own ideas and touches with trimmings and special stitches – couldn’t be more rewarding.
Sewing has got to be one of the most useful arts and crafts – if you can use a sewing machine, you can make clothes for all the family, and every soft furnishing you need for the home, saving a fortune in shops. In making things yourself, you avoid endless shopping for a high street identikit look, and instead surround yourself with exquisite and unique things – furnishings perfectly matched to your own taste; clothes which fit like a dream.
It teaches patience
Every sewer knows that cutting corners always backfires! Impatience and sewing simply do not work together: sewing demands that we slow down, pay attention and take care. It’s a valuable skill to learn which stands us in good stead in other aspects of life.
It’s a time-honoured craft
For most of us, sewing reminds us of cosy afternoons with Mum, Grandma, or another woman from a previous generation who first taught us how to chain stitch or use a sewing machine. In an age when schools no longer teach much sewing, it’s such an honour and a pleasure to keep the skills of past generations alive, and pass them down to our children.
Our gifts are second to none
Whether it’s a hand-sewn sampler for a newborn baby or a teddy bear you’ve stitched together; a cushion cover for your auntie or a wedding dress for your best friend, a sewer can give presents which are imbued with the love they have put into making them – and that makes them far more valuable than anything you can buy ready-made in a shop.
There’s always more to learn
Once hooked on sewing, you’ll never grow bored of it. Sewing machines get ever more advanced and it’s fun to experiment with the huge range of fancy decorative stitches and finishes they now offer. Plus sewing is such a broad craft that there is always something new to pick up, whether it’s couture tailoring, quilting or appliqué.
It’s about domesticity, not drudgery
Thankfully, today, being a domestic goddess – including sewing – is no longer a thankless chore women have to get on with – it’s something we do because we want to, and so we get a huge amount of pleasure from it. Our sewing is something we can pick up and put down whenever we like, and we choose what we want to work on, so there’s no pressure and we can work at our own rhythm.
It requires brainpower
As much as sewing relaxes us, it also keeps the brain sharp because it demands such precision and concentration – when sewing patchwork or clothes for instance, the measurements must be just so; designing your own patterns takes some serious maths; and in general, if you don’t pay complete attention while sewing, you end up with a disaster. The way sewing keeps the brain active has got to be a good thing: one study has found that people who work on arts and crafts, including sewing, in middle age are 40% less likely to develop dementia.
This was a block of the month quilt by Lynette Anderson that my sister Debbie and I made together. Debbie did the applique and embroidery panels and I did the sashing and quilting. Well, part of the quilting, it still needs a lot of hand quilting which I’ve started with perle cotton, but haven’t finished. I think I’m going to post it back to her to finish off – she enjoys the hand sewing. You can see the (almost) finished wall hanging in the shop up till October, but then I really do need to get it posted off to Debbie for Christmas – a year late!
I think this year’s Seasonal Little Gatherings fabric from Moda would be perfect for a similar Scandinavian/Primitive look wall hanging. I’ve got charm packs which would be suitable for the applique shapes, hearts and churn-dash blocks and I have 3 prints on the bolt that could be used for sashings and bindings.
After the great downpour of rain this afternoon, I found this baby bird stranded in the courtyard behind the shop. He must have been blown right out of his nest. It can’t fly and was just hopping about until he found this little patch of sun to dry off in.
A bit later I went out to check on him and he had company AWWW – is this Mum or Dad? I’m not good with birds.
AND THEN! This order came in… Fabric Freedom’s Owl panel. It’s definately been a birdie day – maybe I should go golfing after work. haha I’ll be back with another post on what to do with this fab panel!
What A World Fabric Map
Here’s a great educational tool. A super gift to make for young boys and girls to brighten up their walls and educate at the same time. The map is sold as a panel for just £7.00. Add a border, quilt and bind. I chose the coordinating border from the range so my great nephews can learn to say ‘hello’ in several languages.
I free motion quilted around the continents and then added bits of hand quilting here and there to highlight some features of the map. I did this initial quilting with just a thin calico backing. Then I added a proper back and machine quilted a bit more. (I didn’t want all the little scattered bits of quilting to show on the back as they were quite irregular)
One, quick project. One more ticked off the Christmas list!
A few piping pointers for you
Adding piping to a cushion, bag or even in the seamline of a garment can really give it that professional, finished look. There are a few tricks to keeping the piping smooth. You can buy Nancy Zeiman’s ‘wrap n fuse’ piping, a product which allows you to wrap the fabric strip over the piping and fuse it into place so that the fabric doesn’t slip about and bunch up while you are tending to the fiddly task of sewing it in place. But I’m telling you…this stuff is expensive. I’ve seen it for as much as £13 for about 5.5 metres.
Make your own fused piping for less
I use Hemline fusible Hemming Web (£2 for 10 metres in the shop) and thin or heavy piping cord sold by the metre at .30p and £1.00 per metre. Simply press your fabric strip in half first, then lay the hemming web over the fold with the piping cord on top and press it down. You need to do it slowly so that you can keep repositioning the webbing and cord as you go. It helps to put a pin through the cord and straight into the ironing board to get started. Easy, peasy and just £2.50 for 5 metres of piping ready to attach.
Do you think you need help making & applying piping?
If it all sounds a bit complicated and youd like someone at hand to help, you’ll find a workshop at The Sewing Space for making piped cushions and I’m happy to lead you through it with more hints and tips for a professional finish.
I hope this has been helpful. If you have any hints or tips for applying piping successfully, please share them here!