Every year that I've been to the Festival of Quilts, I've gone without a plan. This has led me to walk around a little bit aimlessly, not knowing where to look or what to buy because there is so much to see and so much choice. So this year I went with a shopping list and I did manage to get some items from the list, but then I went off piste and bought more floral fabric. In fact, my list said no kits (as I have so many!) and it also said solid fabric and linens. As you'll see, I didn't stick to that either! Before you see what I bought, I just want to say that I had been saving up for the Festival of Quilts for a long time. This is the one occasion each year where I buy quite a lot of things at once. For the rest of the year I will buy very little.
My first stop was one of my favourite shops, Sew and Quilt. I got to meet the very lovely Jessie and Robin and chat to them about the show. I've admired Jessie's work for so long. In fact, I wouldn't have even tried EPP if it wasn't for her. I'd never considered doing EPP even though I'd seen it and admired it. I was put off by the thought of making my own papers because I was short on time and just wanted to do the sewing part. I was also put off by the idea of thread basting. But one day I thought maybe I should try it and I was googling EPP papers and stumbled across her shop and the rest is history and I'm so glad! Through her I discovered glue basting and pre-cut papers, both of which make EPP a breeze. From Sew and Quilt, I bought three Liberty fat quarters and some Aurifil thread for my machine.
Next I went to Olive and Flo Handcraft and bought these beautiful Cotton and Steel fabrics. Olive and Flo Handcraft is such a lovely shop with a fantastic selection of modern fabrics.
I then went on to Pretty Fabrics and Trims and met the lovely Sarah and Penny and bought this beautiful kit which I've been admiring for so long. I had told myself not to buy any more kits but I just had to go against that to buy this and I know I will really enjoy making it.
Next up was Alice Caroline where I allowed myself to buy a few too many Liberty fabrics. They were all so lovely I had a difficult time choosing. I am planning something Christmasy with the red and green squares and I'm really excited about that.
Finally, I bought some more hexiform shapes from Ashmead Designs as I use them quite often and I thought it was a good opportunity to stock up.
There are so many fantastic stalls at the festival, it can be quite overwhelming! But I really enjoyed it and I will hopefully be back next year. If you have never been before, I highly recommend it. My two blog posts about the festival are only a glimpse into what it is like there, there is so much more to see.
Have you been? What did you buy? I'd love to know in the comments below.
On Sunday 4th August I visited The Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. It's about a two and a half hour drive from where I live but luckily my husband's family live in Birmingham, meaning we were able to visit them and have a lovely time seeing everyone and also meaning they were able to look after our little one whilst we visited the festival. We've been at least three times before, maybe even four, I've lost count! We always enjoy seeing the quilts, it's like visiting a huge art gallery, the standard is so impressive and it is always so inspiring.
So when we arrived, our first stop was to see all of the quilts, we always do this before the shopping, it makes sense because then you aren't carrying your purchases around all day. Of course the first category we looked at was the mini quilts. I used my phone to take these pics, they aren't very good as I took them quickly not to get in people's way. Also, I apologise that not all makers are credited, I left my show guide behind by mistake. Here are a few of my favourites.
After the mini quilts we went on to view the larger quilts. The quilt that caught our eye the most was this one below called Endangered. I had to video it to show you because it was so so clever! As you walked past it, you could see three animals appear and disappear, a rhino, a leopard and a zebra. We thought it was so clever in the way it was constructed and how the images appeared like magic, but also this highlighted the quilt's important message about endangered species perfectly. My video isn't the best but hopefully you can see the animals.
As we walked around the rest of the quilts on display, I had a think about which categories I was drawn to the most. Turns out I really like traditional and contemporary quilts. However, I can really appreciate the art quilts and the modern quilting category too. Even though I don't make abstract or really modern designs, I really love seeing all of the different styles on display and I find it so interesting.
Above - Trudi Wood
Above - Jo Avery
Above - Cloudtori
Above - Caroline
One of my absolute favourites was Sweet Sunday in Somerset by Helen of henhouse homemade I loved everything about this quilt, the colours, the mix of vintage linen and liberty fabric, the fact it's English Paper Piecing and hand quilted, it's truly spectacular. It's absolutely full of amazing detail and I love it.
There is so much I could share about Festival of Quilts as there is so much to see, I've only really scratched the surface here. If you've never been before I highly recommend it as there really is something for everyone and it is such an exciting place to be. Well this became a rather long blog post, so stay tuned for part 2 in which I will share what I bought. I hope you've enjoyed seeing what I loved about the festival of quilts. Did you go? What were your highlights? Please let me know in the comments.
I'm going to tell you the little story about how and why I entered my mini quilt into a local art gallery competition. If you are like me and have never entered a competition or shown a quilt before, I hope that after reading this you will feel inspired to give it a go too!
There is no doubt in my mind that patchwork is art. You only have to see the incredible quilts on display at the Festival of Quilts to appreciate just how talented quilters are. From choosing colour palettes to complex patterns, accurate cutting, matching seams and points, intricate piecing, quilting designs, the list goes on and on! Despite this I've had a hard time seeing my work as artistic, which is a reflection of my own lack of self-confidence. When my Dad saw my half inch hexie mini quilt, he said it was artistic, and that is a big compliment coming from him! I was eventually talked into entering it into the Lancashire Open Art Exhibition at Chapel Gallery and I was completely surprised when it was accepted!
When it comes to art and art competitions, textiles is underrated and under represented. It is seen by some as less skilled than drawing or using paint and often viewed as more of a homemade crafts/hobby type thing. So I was really pleased that my piece was chosen and I was also glad to see a few other textile pieces in the exhibition. I find it difficult to promote myself and put myself out there in terms of my work, but thinking of it as a way of promoting textiles really helped me push past this. The more of us who show our work in these sorts of events, the better it is for the quilting industry and the more likely it is that quilting, embroidery and textiles in general, will be seen as artistic forms by more people. Maybe some people don't think of quilting as art because they haven't seen the amazing quilts that are out there? I know when I mentioned I was going to the Festival of Quilts to my brother he said, is that about duvets?!
Now I've never entered a quilt into a quilt show, so I can't speak about what that is like, but I can tell you a bit about my experience of entering it into an art gallery and give you some tips for if you are going to do this one day.
Tip 1 - Frame your work. Mine is a mini quilt so this was easy to do. I turned up to submit my piece with it unmounted and was told that it couldn't be accepted like this because it could be taken easily off the wall. (I had put two felt loops on the back with a dowel running through so it could hang off a nail!) It needs to be in a frame or mounted on a board which can be fixed to the wall with mirror plate fixings.
Tip 2 - Don't frame it yourself unless you know what you are doing - unlike me! I bought an inexpensive frame from a shop, put my piece inside and then proceeded to struggle for half an hour to attach the mirror plate fixings to the back of the frame, resulting in splitting the wood. Keep in mind that I was rushing to do this as I knew there was a deadline to submit it. In the end I went to a local framers and explained my frame emergency and they sorted it out for me, and even gave me an 'artist's discount'! I am so glad I got it framed in the end because next to the other pieces of work it looked right. Unmounted would have looked wrong, so this was a good decision.
Tip 3 - When you submit your piece to the gallery and they ask 'What's the title?" they mean what is the piece called, not what is your title (i.e. Mrs or Mr), yes, I made this rookie artist mistake!!
Tip 4 - If you want to sell your piece, you will have to put a price on it. I had no idea what to sell it for so I put it not for sale. I've had some interest in it and somebody I know asked to buy it! But this is a sentimental piece so I'm leaving it not for sale. It's really hard to put a price on your work, especially if you are like me and are just starting out, but whatever you do, be sure not to undervalue your skills.
Tip 5 - Enjoy the process! I felt nervous about the whole thing and now I look back, there was really no need. It's really fun that my piece is hanging in the gallery for the entire summer.
I named my piece Mabel's Garden. Mabel was my Gran who I sadly lost this year. She was a massive inspiration to me as she took a keen interest in my sewing and was a fantastic embroiderer, knitter and crocheter herself. She regularly used to visit Chapel Gallery to view the art and have a latte in the cafe. I think she would have been so happy to see my work in there. When we were little her garden was lots of different flowerbeds with paths in between so this mini quilt reflects that (the blue hexagons are the paths). My quilt is based on a traditional quilting pattern called Grandmother's Flower Garden so I thought this would be a fitting tribute to my Gran.
Have you ever shown your work in a show, gallery or competition? I'd love to hear your experience in the comments below.
It's no secret that I love Liberty fabrics, as many of you do too. I use them in many of my projects and I love everything about them, from the colours to the prints to the way they feel. Liberty tana lawn is my favourite. It has such a high thread count that you can hardly see the weave and the detail in the prints is excellent quality, so much so that it doesn't really compare with other fabrics. (Although I do absolutely love other fabrics too!)
We all know that Liberty fabrics are not cheap. In fact, the ones I own are by far the most expensive fabrics I've ever bought and ever will buy. But today I am going to share with you some ways to make sewing with Liberty fabric more affordable. These are the things I do, to make using Liberty fabric possible for me. I am on a budget so I cannot afford to buy lots and lots of fabric.
1. Use Liberty quilting cotton. Liberty released a range of quilting cottons a year or so ago and they are beautiful. The prints are as gorgeous as the tana lawn and they feel soft, smooth and drapey to work with. At around £15 per metre, the price is comparable to some quilting cottons, depending on what you buy and where, but it is cheaper than the tana lawn. So if you want to make something from Liberty but you are on a budget, this is an excellent choice. I'm currently making my hexagon quilt from Liberty quilting cottons.
2. Mixing in other fabrics. Making a whole quilt from Liberty would look spectacular, there's no doubt! But I couldn't afford to do this. So mixing Liberty with cheaper fabrics is a great alternative and also gives the Liberty chance to shine! For my hexagon quilt I'm using Makower linen texture fabric and this is one of my favourite solid fabric ranges. You can, however, mix Liberty with any fabric you wish and Moda basics are a really affordable range that I like to use and it comes in a vast amount of colours.
3. Use small pieces in small projects. Just a small piece of Liberty mixed with some linen or other fabrics is sometimes just enough to make a project shine. I've used tiny amounts in my two butterfly pouches and I lined them with cheaper, but still pretty, quilting cottons.
4. Buy small amounts. Whenever I've bought Liberty fabric, I've bought either a jelly roll (2.5 inch wide strips), fat quarters, pre-cut squares or scraps. Once I bought a couple of metres of Liberty cotton, many years ago, with the aim of lining a jacket I was making. Other than that, I only buy really small amounts. You can buy a fat quarter of tana lawn for around £5.50 to £6 and as the fabric is wider than most standard quilting cottons, you get a little more for your money. Jelly rolls are quite expensive at around £38. However the one I bought has lasted me over 3 years and I still have lots of it left (even though I have used it in many projects), because of the way I use it and mix it with other fabrics.
My top, top tip for buying small amounts is the Liberty tana lawn scrap bags from Alice Caroline. I recently bought a scrap ribbon pack (pictured above) for the first time for £4 in their sale and I was over the moon with what I received. I got a huge amount of really long strips, in all kinds of different prints. All of the strips are really long and wide enough for half inch and quarter inch hexies. Some of the strips are even wider and could be used for one inch hexies or possibly bigger. It's a really affordable way to be able to play with many different Liberty prints. Each scrap pack is different so I can't say what you would get if you bought one but I was really pleased with my selection.
5. Shop the sales! Yes, Liberty fabric does go into the sales every now and then. Alice Caroline have great sales where they sell scraps, bolt ends, remnants and just simply discount some prints. You can definitely get a bargain there. Also, I once bought some Liberty quilting cotton for half price in Guthrie and Ghani which was an amazing bargain! So it's worth keeping your eye on your favourite fabric shops because you never know when some beautiful prints might sneak into the sale.
I really hope these little tips will give you some ideas and inspiration for how to affordably use Liberty fabrics in your projects. As with everything on my website, I am not paid or sponsored to say any of this, there aren't any affiliate links, I just provide links for your convenience. Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments and if you have any tips please share them too.
Well what a month June has been! Pretty rubbish in terms of the weather here in the UK but plenty of sewing has happened. First up, I worked on two tiny epp pieces and managed to finish them both. They were my quarter inch pincushion from my last post and my half inch hexagon mini quilt. This will be a wall hanging and I've named it Mabel's Garden as it reminds me of my Gran's garden. The hexagon flowers are like her flowerbeds and the blue hexagons are like the paths she had between them. I love this size of hexagon and I also love embellishing it with embroidery, so I'm sure I will be starting another mini quilt project soon.
I learnt a new sewing technique in June, Foundation paper piecing! It's such a fun technique I think I will definitely be doing more going forward. I have started a large cushion for my little boy made from Tall Tales book blocks as part of a quilt along challenge on Instagram, run by Kate Basti. I'm really enjoying seeing everyone else's book blocks, it's so much fun. I'm hoping to have my cushion finished in July if possible.
June was a super special month because I was featured on the Feeling Stitchy blog. I was absolutely blown away when I was asked to be featured. I've been a reader of that blog since well before the days of Instagram, so it was super exciting to be featured. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be mentioned there. If you'd like to read the article you can find it here.
I also came up with a little epp butterfly motif in June which was a lot of fun. I haven't blogged about this properly yet because I'm still working on some variations of this design but you can find the template here.
I started another Block of the Month in June, the Summer Sampler by Pretty Fabrics and Trims. This is such a pretty project, it incorporates embroidery and quilting and I am loving it so far. I will share more progress soon.
I think July is going to be an equally busy month. My priority is to try to finish my Tall Tales cushion, make the T-shirts I haven't yet made for my little boy, and continue to work on my Sew and Quilt BOM. I have so many ideas going around my head at the moment that I'm finding it difficult to focus on the things I'm in the middle of. So I'm going to try to slow down a bit in July, finish things off and then I will have time to develop new ideas. What are your plans for July? I'd love to know.
P.S. I've had a Bloglovin account for many years but stopped using it a long time ago. I read blogs by clicking links in people's Instagram profiles or by just putting them into Google. But I decided to try using Bloglovin again and it is much improved from the last time I used it and I'm finding it a great place to keep track of blogs. So I've linked this blog up and you can now find me over there if you use it too.
I love English Paper Piecing so much, but I love tiny EPP the most! I'm currently working on a half inch hexagon project which will become a wall hanging. I love half inch hexagons and I think they might be my favourite size. I absolutely love combining embroidery and EPP and as I often use hexiform shapes rather than paper (which I buy from Ashmead Designs) embroidering into them is even easier!
I'm really passionate about sewing being an accessible craft/hobby to all people, which is something I will talk about more in depth in another post. But for now I will say that EPP is a great hobby and anyone can do it. It's inexpensive, only requires a few tools (needle, thread, paper, fabric, scissors and maybe a glue pen if you don't want to thread baste) and is so portable.
Recently I started a quarter inch hexagon project and I got lots of questions about it on Instagram. There was a lot of interest surrounding how I make the hexagons and sew them together. So I've made a little video tutorial that shows all of the steps and also how I made them into a little pincushion. I wanted a small pincushion to take around with me as when I'm stitching on the go I always need somewhere to park my needle in between stitches. I admit I was very tempted to make this little pincushion into a bracelet to wear whilst stitching, but maybe I will make another one for that.
The beauty of half inch and quarter inch projects is that they use up the teeny tiniest of scraps which I think is brilliant. I don't have a lot of money to buy fabric so I like to use up what I have and also, this is better for our environment.
I hope you like my video tutorial and that you find it useful, especially if you are a beginner. You can find it on the video tutorials tab under quilting tutorials or click on one of the links in this post. There are, of course, many ways to make things, I am just showing you my way. The two halves of the pincushion could be stitched with a ladder stitch whereas I have used a whip stitch. Please feel free to use my video as inspiration and to make the project your own in any way you like by changing stitches or adding your own twist. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below. Happy sewing!
I am a complete newbie when it comes to Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP) and I must admit, it's taken some brain power to get my head around it! I'm loving this journey so far but I want to share what I've learnt in the hope it will help anyone else who is new to this magical technique. The first thing I did was look at some Youtube video tutorials. I'm a visual learner so I find this to be a great way to learn.
This tutorial by Mister Domestic is a good introduction to the basic FPP technique.
But I quickly realised that FPP was going to mean that I would have to print and cut out lots of paper templates which I found slightly off-putting because I prefer the sewing part. Then I discovered @sugaridoo and on youtube she has a tutorial for how to use freezer paper. This method means you only need to print and cut out one freezer paper template because it can be reused over and over again. You can watch her excellent tutorial here. This method just made sense to me and it's the method I've been using to sew all of my blocks, and it works brilliantly!
Irene's tutorial is definitely the best explanation of this technique, but here is my step by step guide just in case you'd like to see how I do it.
1. Cut a piece of freezer paper the same size as an A4 piece of paper. Iron it onto the A4 printer paper, waxy side face down. Put it into the printer and print the FPP pattern onto it. Remove the printer paper and cut out the freezer paper templates.
2. Iron the first pattern piece onto the wrong side of the fabric.
3. Hold it up to the light to ensure the design is positioned on the fabric correctly and that the fabric will cover the seam allowance.
4. Next fold back the next part of the template along the seam line and place the next piece of fabric on top of the first piece of fabric, right sides together. Hold it up to the light to check that the fabric covers the pattern piece and seam allowance.
5. Next I take it to the sewing machine and stitch carefully along the folded edge, not into the paper but up close to it.
6. Before unfolding the paper, now is the time to use your add a quarter inch ruler. I got mine free with a magazine. Place your ruler so that the quarter inch comes after the stitched line and trim.
7. Now you can unfold the paper and trim the whole piece to be the same size.
8. It is a good idea to give your piece another press with the iron to ensure the seams are pressed and that the freezer paper is stuck on properly.
9. Repeat these steps for the rest of your pattern, pressing the freezer paper when needed to keep things in place. I don't remove the freezer paper until the very end when the block is complete.
10. When it comes to joining two already pieced sections together, I fold down the paper seam allowance on both pieces, line them up right sides together and sew.
I reached out on Instagram to see if anybody had some tips and I received some excellent advice so I thought I would share here. I will link to the Instagram accounts of each person who gave me advice so credit is given to the very talented makers who helped me out. I hope the tips help you get started with FPP if you are finding it tricky.
1. Nim @gingernim said when sewing a crucial point that needs to meet, pin it first and sew it with a longer stitch length, that way you can check it meets and unpick more easily. If it is ok then sew the seam again with a shorter stitch length.
2. Meegan @nanas_needle said to not be frugal with your fabric, so cut your pieces bigger than you need them and trim them down afterwards. She also said to think about the type of paper you use, thinner paper like vellum works better.
3. Donna @donnalyn18 recommends folding the paper on the seam lines and using an add a quarter inch ruler.
4. Irina @nordiccrafter gave quite a few excellent tips. She explained how FPP is like working in reverse and that you place the wrong side of the fabric against the paper. She suggested holding your paper and fabric up towards a light source to ensure you can see that you have enough fabric to cover the area. Irina also said it is important to reduce your stitch length so that you can remove the paper with ease and that locking your stitches at the beginning and end of a seam will help to stop them from coming undone.
5. Victoria @wonkystitches recommended using a glue pen to help keep things in place whilst stitching which is an excellent tip.
6. Lee @quarteracreblock pointed me in the direction of @quietplay who has some excellent tips on her website here. She also told me about the practice tree that @thecraftynomadfleet has here. Lee also told me about @teresadownunder who has amazing videos on her page. These tutorials have all been very useful indeed.
7. Cari @muddle_and_grace suggested checking out youtube videos about FPP and there are some brilliant tutorials on there.
So I hope all of the advice, hints and tips are useful if you are getting started. A massive thank you to everyone who offered me help, it's great to be able to share it here.
If you have any questions or other tips to share, please leave them in the comments.
Even though I've been sewing for as long as I can remember, I've recently stumbled across a new technique that I've never tried before, foundation paper piecing. It differs from English paper piecing because foundation paper piecing involves sewing through the paper and then removing it at the end. English paper piecing involves wrapping fabric around the paper shape whereas foundation paper piecing blocks are constructed flat. EPP involves hand sewing and FPP uses a sewing machine. FPP is completely new to me and I am by no means an expert, I have a lot to learn and I love that! I'm using my brain and I'm finding it a challenge and that's a good thing, I like to be continually learning. I thought I would document my FPP journey here and tell you about what I've learnt and made.
So first for some inspiration. I've been searching Pinterest for inspiring FPP patterns and there are so many. Here are some of my favourites to give you an idea of what FPP is if it's new to you too. All images are linked back to the source.
FPP blocks usually create pictures whereas EPP blocks create motifs. I find FPP to be magical. Tiny pieces of fabric are sewn together to create amazing pictures. I can't wait to get better at this technique so that I can make some of these fantastic designs. FPP is also used for none pictorial blocks like log cabin and this is because the technique of sewing through the paper gives greater accuracy for matching up seams.
Have you tried FPP before? What have you made? In my next post I will show you my first attempt at FPP and share the tips I've learnt thus far. Happy sewing!
A crucial piece of equipment for any type of sewist is an iron and ironing board. Pressing seams is an important part of quilting and ensures accuracy and the same goes for dressmaking. I have an ordinary iron and large ironing board that I use for daily ironing of clothes, and I use this for ironing large pieces of fabric. But I realised I wanted something smaller, particularly for quilting projects. It's so handy to have a small iron right next to your sewing machine and my large ironing board does not fit into my small sewing room and I didn't want to be constantly getting up and going into another room after each step of making a block. So I did some research.
There are many different irons and pressing mats on the market for quilters and to be honest, they are pricey. I'd rather spend money on fabric! So here is what I did.
I bought this Russell Hobbs travel iron which is currently selling for £12 on Amazon. When I bought mine it was only £8 so if you are thinking of getting one then shop around first. I recommend this iron because it really glides over the fabric, you can use steam if you want, and most importantly in my opinion, it has a good point at the front for pushing seams open and getting into small areas. It isn't the most powerful iron and I wouldn't use it for large pieces of fabric. But it really does the trick for patchwork.
The next thing I was on the look out for was a small ironing board or pressing mat, again, the ones specifically for sewing are expensive. So I bought this ironing board from Ikea for £4! Such a bargain and fits perfectly in my small sewing room.
Unfortunately, I managed to ruin the cover on the ironing board with a bondaweb accident! So I turned this into a happy accident by taking the cover apart and using it as a template to make a new one out of this super cute fabric! And it worked a treat! I reused the foam that was inside the original cover so nothing was wasted. I love this ironing board and I love that it has a hook on the back so I can hang it on the back of my door when I 'm not using it which is another great tip if you have a small sewing space like me.
Do you like my ironing board? What do you use to press your fabrics? Do you have a special pressing mat? I'd love to know so please leave me a comment below. Happy sewing!
About the Author
My name is Emma and I love all things sewing. My little blog is the place where I document what I'm making. I hope you enjoy reading what I'm up to. Thanks for stopping by. All opinions are my own and there is no sponsored content or affiliate links on my site.