I’ve recently made a few changes to how I sew on my machine to combat two issues I was having. The first issue I was having was some trouble when sewing with Liberty tana lawn on my machine. The needle was dragging the corners into the machine because the hole in the stitch plate was so large (see left stitch plate below). This meant they were getting tangled in thread and the corners weren’t crisp or they would become jammed. So I invested in a straight stitch plate which has a much smaller hole (see right below). It cost me £20 which is quite a lot of money but I know I won’t be changing my sewing machine so I was happy to buy it. I’m so pleased with the results too! It has completely alleviated the issue I was having and now I can sew tana lawn with no problems. It’s actually really nice for all patchwork and it adds more stability when starting off at the corners when joining shapes so I’m really happy I finally purchased it.
The next problem I’ve been having was generally inaccuracy when piecing seams. I feel fairly confident when hand sewing but when it comes to my machine, I was consistently disappointed with the results I was having. So I decided it was time to buy a quarter inch foot! I should have bought one a long time ago but I always try to make do with what I have.
The foot has a guide on it that makes it really easy to line it up with the fabric and repeatedly create accurate quarter inch seams.
Its also important to pin properly to ensure seams line up when joining rows. I press seams open and line them up, pushing a pin through the seam line on both sides.
Making these little changes has definitely improved my accuracy. My seams aren’t perfect but I’m much happier with the results. Have you got any top tips for accurate sewing? Please share any you have in the comments below.
As a little change from the usual EPP topic of conversation around here, I'm going to share with you my finished FPP (foundation paper piecing) cushion. I started this as part of the Summer Book Club QAL run by Kate Basti using her Tall Tales book block pattern. When I began this project, I knew I was going to make a cushion/pillow rather than a quilt. Reading is one of my little boy's favourite things to do. I often find him in his room reading books to himself either sitting in his little armchair or lying in bed. It's hard for him to sit up in bed to read because there isn't anything comfortable to lean against, which brought me to the idea of making him a cushion and a book themed one would be perfect! After searching though my fabric stash and buying some story themed fabric to add to what I already had, I realised that my cushion needed a little something extra to make it really exciting. I had some Three Little Pigs fabric that I had bought about 10 years ago and that gave me the idea for incorporating The Wonky House pattern by Larisa who is @stitchingnotes on Instagram. It's such a cute pattern and I thought it would go perfectly with the books and I hoped that if I could get the sizing right then I could use the houses as the front covers. Well somehow I managed to pull it off! So it was my first attempt at FPP and even though it really isn't perfect, I really love this cushion.
First of all it felt fantastic to actually finish something! Most of my projects are very much long term projects so I don't often experience the feeling of finishing something, and it feels nice! Secondly, the cushion is so soft and squishy and lovely to cuddle into. Once I'd pieced the front and back panels, I quilted them onto wadding by stitching with my machine in the ditch and adding hand quilting details. This gives it a lovely quilted effect and makes the cushion extra comfortable. I loved added the hand stitched details, I think that was my favourite part of making this cushion. There was something so soothing and relaxing about repetitively stitching into the quilted fabric, I loved it. Thirdly, I used some fabrics that were very special to me. I bought them many, many years ago in the hope of making a child of mine something special, and that has eventually come true and means so much to me.
I will give this cushion to my little boy on his third birthday which is coming up very very soon! It's so incredibly important to me that I make things for him that he will love. He loves the story of the Three Little Pigs so I hope it will help him to retell the tale and I hope that beautiful illustrations on all of the fabrics I've used will be something he can use to help him develop his speech further. I remember being a similar age to him and having a dress that had a park scene printed on it. It was full of detail and I loved looking at it and imagining stories. I hope he does the same with his cushion.
I really enjoyed FPP once I had got my head around the technique and I'm sure I will be trying it again. I think FPP is like magic! It's so fun how you can create images with your piecing, I can't wait to tackle some other patterns. If you are a beginner at FPP like me, I recommend both of the patterns I have mentioned here as they are definitely both achievable for beginners. I did have to use my seam ripper a few times but once I'd gained an understanding as to how to do FPP, it wasn't as tricky as I first thought. My piecing wasn't perfect but I am trying to embrace imperfections and learn from them for next time! And don't forget to check out this blog post of mine from a while back as it is full of useful hints and tips for FPP success!
I'm lucky enough to be going on holiday tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm holidaying in the UK so I won't be going on a plane, in fact, we are just travelling in the car and it will be about a 5 hour journey without stops. I've been thinking about which sewing projects to take with me for months! For me, more thought goes into that than it does into what clothes to take, but if you are reading this then I'm guessing you put lots of thought into your travel sewing projects too! I usually pack too many sewing projects, for fear of running out - which never happens! As I like to switch between projects often, I need to make sure I have a variety with me because otherwise I run the risk of losing interest and doing nothing. It's a family holiday so I anticipate many an evening spent playing board games together so I want to take projects that are easy to pick up and put down. Whilst I'd love to take embroidery with me, I know that any stitching time will be in the evenings and I just can't see well enough without a daylight lamp, so I think the conclusion is to take EPP projects with me!
First up, I'm going to take my current two scrappy projects - quarter inch hexies and three quarter inch diamonds. I don't yet have a concrete plan for these projects, I'm just making it up as I go along, but taking some pretty scraps, sharp scissors and glue pens will be all I need in addition to the paper templates, thread and a needle. The ultimate portable project!
I'm also going to take my current Sew and Quilt blocks of the month. I am loving this quilt so much that I know I will be thinking about it whilst I am on holiday and I will end up desperate to work on it! So I've been glue basting as many shapes as I can like mad to make sure that I can just pick it up and stitch.
I will pack my projects in small pouches like this one pictured below. I also purchased a Clover Needle Dome as I thought this might be useful for keeping needles safe and threaded ready to sew. So far I really like it and it works perfectly. I also purchased some needles in little cases, again hoping that this would be a safe way to store them whilst travelling. Crucially, I stocked up on Sewline glue pen refills! I'm pretty certain I won't need this many but running out on holiday would be a disaster!
Do you take your sewing projects on holiday? Have you ever taken your sewing machine on holiday?! I'd love to hear all about it so please leave me a comment here or over on Instagram.
I absolutely love all things to do with sewing and I write this blog and share my pictures on Instagram and Pinterest to share my joy with you. The more I share, the more I am connecting with others and I love it! I don't have anybody in my 'real' life that shares this passion with me so I love talking all things stitchy with all of you online. However I really struggle with putting myself out there into the world, and I’m definitely guilty of writing a blog post and not telling anyone about it as I just find it hard to “promote” myself as such. But I’ve received lots of lovely compliments about my blog lately, so I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who reads it. It blows my mind that so many people are interested in what I have to say. So I will try harder to be braver and to announce my posts on Instagram each time I write one. I’m surprised by how much I love writing, and particularly writing about sewing! I really love having this little space to share my thoughts and I have lots of ideas for more things I want to share here in the future. Today I want to talk to you about what I share and why. I also want to tell you a little more about me too.
As well as my own sewing journey, I share products, companies and patterns that I genuinely love. Currently there aren't any affiliate links on my site and there isn't any sponsored content. I share what I love and what I think will be of genuine interest to my readers.
Sewing can be an expensive hobby. With endless new beautiful fabric ranges being released, gorgeous notions and tools, not to mention fantastic sewing machines with all of the bells and whistles, there's always something to tempt us! I like supporting small, independent businesses wherever possible. I find you are more likely to get excellent customer service and a unique product and that's what I love. However I am not averse to shopping the sale in Hobbycraft or John Lewis either, and both of those shops are the only sewing shops available to me locally.
I know some people have huge fabric stashes full of variety and that’s fantastic. I have quite a small stash of fabric, many of the fabrics I've got were bought years and years ago, I tend to hold onto things for far too long! I'm trying hard to use what I've got, but I have bought some fabric this year too. I also love repurposing fabric from old clothes and this costs significantly less than buying new fabric.
I am currently a stay at home mum, which is my dream job but it doesn't bring a wage in! So I have to consider every purchase carefully. I don't spend much money on cosmetics, clothes or going out, any spending money I do have, I spend it on my hobby. I’m not judging anyone for their spending habits, I’m simply just sharing mine. Believe me, I’d love to spend lots of money on the latest fabrics and I feel the pressure to keep up sometimes, but it just isn’t possible for me.
As well as being passionate about sewing and sharing what I love, I am passionate about sewing being accessible to as many people as possible. I see and feel the benefits of sewing each and every day. It is calming, soothing and relaxing. It helps improve mental health and wellbeing and this article in the Guardian newspaper explains it beautifully. But if sewing is an expensive hobby that requires so many tools and notions, and if we constantly feel we need to use the latest fabrics, how can it be accessible to all?
That's where embroidery and English paper piecing come into their own. Both types of sewing require minimal, relatively inexpensive tools and materials. Making a large quilt is a huge commitment in terms of time and investment of money, but there are many smaller embroidery and epp projects you can do at a fraction of the cost. Over the coming months, I hope to share more projects here that are inexpensive to make as I strive to include more balance in my blog between projects that I have chosen to spend money on and projects that cost very little. I also hope that continuing to provide some free tutorials and free printable patterns will be a step towards making sewing accessible to more people. Speaking of which, have you seen my free printable Dresden flower template? Click here to find it, print it and make it! Thank you to everyone who has given this a go and shared it online, it's been really exciting for me to see everyone's versions of it and I really appreciate it.
What are your thoughts on the topic of sharing online? Do you feel a pressure to keep up with others or are you happy doing your own thing? I'd really love to know. You can leave me a comment here or send me a message via the contact form on the home page if you wish.
Thanks for reading and happy sewing!
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.
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'm lucky enough to have been able to sign up to the Sew and Quilt Block of the month subscription box so I thought I would tell you all about it. Sew and Quilt is a lovely online quilting shop based in Cornwall. For the past few years, they have been running a monthly subscription box where you receive all of the materials and paper pieces needed to make part of a quilt (English Paper Piecing) and at the end of the year, you will have a completed quilt! I've wanted to join up for a long time but I've been unsure if I could keep up with it each month as it involves a lot of sewing and I have lots of other projects on the go. This year they released an additional quilt to their subscription boxes called the Row by Row quilt and when I saw it, I knew it was the one for me! Each month you get everything to make a horizontal row of the quilt. The beauty of this quilt design is that every month is different (except the first and last months are the same to make the design symmetrical.) This appealed to me greatly as it wasn't going to get too repetitive and each month would be really exciting as it would be something new each time.
The materials arrive each month in a lovely pink box and you get detailed instructions so you can't go wrong. Each month always includes some Liberty Tana lawn fabric too.
As soon as mine arrived I set myself up to cut the fabrics into the required shapes and I used glue to baste my hexagon shapes. That took me two days to complete. I then did a little each day to stay on track and so far I've managed to keep up with each month's box.
Once all of the shapes have been sewn together, the papers need to be removed and it then needs to be sewn to the backing fabric. Each strip of backing fabric is then sewn together to form the quilt. Here is mine so far.
I love making this quilt so much and I really look forward to receiving the special box each month. It's really fun to sew along with other people and I love the community aspect to this project.
Jessie, who owns Sew and Quilt, designs the block of the month quilts and she always picks the most beautiful fabrics. I love her style which is why I knew I would love this subscription.
This month's box is my favourite so far. The design is Dresden flowers and they are so pretty! I love the fabrics that have been included too.
Have you ever signed up to a block of the month subscription? If so, which one? I think they are so much fun, I'm already thinking about which one I might do next year!
Do you use Pinterest? I've been really getting into Pinterest lately and I'm finding it such an inspiring place. I have a lot of different boards over there, ranging from quilt inspiration to home decor, English Paper Piecing to making things for children. I fill my boards with images that I love, as well as images of things I've created. I'd love it if you would like to check out my boards, you can find me here. I spoke in my last post about how I think my style is vintage with a modern twist so here are some images that I think really sum that up.
I love brightly coloured patchwork quilts against a neutral backdrop. I think it's the white walls that give this image a modern twist.
The room below looks so cosy.
I love vintage china too!
Do you have a Pinterest account? Let me know in the comments and I will be sure to check yours out too.
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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.