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.
I made these super cute tiny pincushions to take part in the teeny tiny pinnie parade that is taking place on Instagram at the moment. It is being hosted by Cheri @tinkerellen and I thought I'd share how I made them here just in case there's anybody out there who was curious or who would like to have a go too. They are perfect for using tiny scraps and the finished result is two inches square! I've linked to some products I've used but all links are just for your information and are not sponsored or affiliate in any way. If you have any questions you can always ask me on Instagram, in the comments here or through the contact form on the home page. I hope you like this tutorial!
To make this pincushion you will need the usual sewing supplies, needle, thread, sewing machine, rotary cutter, scissors, cutting mat, ruler, Sewline glue pen, erasable pen, point turner (I use a crochet hook). I'm a big believer in use what you have and in that you don't need fancy things to create beautiful projects, but I am going to recommend two things for this pincushion which are not in any way 'must have' items but they do make life easier. Firstly the little two and a half inch ruler pictured above. It is called Cute Cuts and I bought mine from Sew and Quilt. This is one of my most used tools for sewing as I find it to be the perfect size for most of the things I make and I use it daily. The other thing I am going to recommend is Superior Threads The Bottom Line thread. It is a polyester thread and it has been said that polyester thread can damage cotton fabrics over time (which I have no experience of) and whilst I do prefer using cotton thread, this thread is perfect for this project as it is strong and hardly visible. When making tiny things, your stitches can seem really big, so using this thread reduces this. Again, this can be bought from Sew and Quilt.
You will also need seven, quarter inch hexagon templates. You can use paper or I use hexiform from Ashmead Designs. The hexiform doesn't need to be removed so this makes the process even easier. If you want to use paper, I have free printable templates here.
You will need:
1. First make your English paper pieced hexagon flower. I have a video tutorial here showing how to make a larger hexagon flower. To make a small one the principals are the same, but I don't cut the thread after each seam, I carry it across the back, you can't see it so nobody will know! If using paper templates, you will need to press your flower, spray with spray starch and press again before removing the papers and then appliqué it onto your two and a half inch backing fabric. Again, the little ruler is so useful here as it helps you centre the hexie flower.
2. Next you need to mark where you will add the corners. On the top edge, I measured one inch in towards the centre from each corner and marked it with a water erasable pen. I then marked one inch down from each corner and marked it. I repeated this with the bottom corners, measuring and marking one inch in along the bottom edge and one inch up.
If it helps, you can draw a line across these points to mark the corners and show where you will stitch.
3. Next take your one inch squares and fold them in half. Finger press to get a visible crease across the square but take care not to stretch them out. If it helps, you could draw a line across the squares instead.
4. Place your fabric square on the corner of your pincushion top, right side facing down, lining up the diagonal lines. Your fabric square is slightly larger than the corner of your pincushion so it will overlap the edge. This will be trimmed off afterwards. I use a dab of Sewline glue to hold it in place as this works better than pins. Stitch across the diagonal line with your sewing machine and repeat for the remaining corners.
5. Trim the seam allowance at the corners back to a quarter inch and turn your corners out. Remove your water erasable pen marks and then press with an iron. Take care not to use the iron on the erasable ink as this can make it difficult to wash out. This is also the time to add any hand stitching details. I added a tiny running stitch around the edge of the hexie flower.
6. Using the little ruler, trim your block to make sure it is two and a half inches square. The two pictures below show before and after being trimmed, so it does make a difference.
7. Now it's time to make the back. Take one of your rectangle pieces and fold over one of the long edges a quarter inch and finger press in place. Place it right sides together on top of one side of your pincushion top, making sure the folded edge in in the middle.
8. Stitch this in place along three sides, leaving the folded edge free. I started my stitching after the fold and finished it before the fold at the bottom. I used just less than a quarter inch seam allowance when sewing this together to allow for turning it right side out. Repeat for the other side with the other rectangle piece in exactly the same way.
9. Now gently turn your pincushion right side out. I used a wooden crochet hook to help push out the corners. Press with your iron.
10. Now it's time to stuff your pincushion. I used toy stuffing but you can use crushed walnuts for a really nice pincushion feel. Take care not to overfill it as this will make sewing up the opening tricky.
11. Now stitch the opening closed. I used a ladder stitch for this which is another reason why polyester thread is good for this project as when you pull the opening closed, your thread won't snap.
And that's it, your pincushion is complete! Such a fun little project and a great way to use teeny tiny scraps.
I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial and if you give it a try, I hope you love making your teeny tiny pincushion!
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!
Continuing from my last post, you should now have all 12 blocks finished and ready to turn into a quilt. Play around with your blocks and decide on how you would like them to be arranged. You may also want to trim you blocks at this point to ensure they are all 6 inch squares. Now it's time to add the sashing. We will start with the vertical sashing between the blocks.
1. Cut 16 strips of fabric that are 6 inches long and 2.5 inches wide.
2. Take the first block of your quilt and lay a strip of sashing on top of it right sides together, lining up the raw edges on the left side as they face you. Sew together using a quarter inch seam allowance, open out and press the seam open. Repeat this to sew the sashing on the right side of the block.
3. Take the next block in the row and place it on top of the righthand piece of sashing, right sides together. Line up the raw edges on the right side and sew together with a quarter inch seam allowance. Flip open and press the seam open.
4. Next add the another piece of sashing to the right side of block two, in the same way as you did in step 2.
5. Continuing in this way, add the third block in the row and the final piece of sashing.
6. Repeat these steps for the remaining three rows of your quilt.
7. Next add the long, horizontal sashing strips to join the rows together. Take your first row and place a sashing strip along the top, right sides together. Sew with a quarter inch seam allowance and flip open and press the seam open.
8. Repeat this for the sashing on the bottom on the top row.
9. Now add the next row to that piece of sashing by placing the row, right sides together, on top of the sashing, lining up the raw edges. Flip open and press the seams open. Continue in this way to add each row with sashing in between. Now your quilt top is done! It's time to quilt.
10. I don't have a huge table for creating my quilt layers, so I use the floor. Spread out your backing fabric with the wrong side facing up and secure to the floor with masking tape.
11. Next lay the wadding on top and the quilt top on top of that.
12. Pin the layers together using quilters pins, making sure your pin goes through all layers. I put a pin every few inches apart as I also sprayed some quilters basting glue on my layers to keep them together. If you don't use the glue, make sure you use more pins.
13. Now remove the masking tape and begin to quilt. I stitched in the ditch (sewing along each seam on the right side) and I quilted my squares diagonally but you can choose however you wish to quilt them.
14. Once the quilting is done, trim your backing fabric and wadding to be the same size as your quilt top and remove your pins.
15. Now it's time to add the binding. Press your binding in half and pin in place on the quilt top, lining up the raw edges.
16. I turn the raw edge at the start in on itself to encase it. Sew in place with a quarter inch seam allowance.
17. At each corner, I sew off the edge at the corner, lift the presser foot and readjust the angle of the binding so that it is a right angle. I then continue to sew along. This will give you a mitred corner.
18. When you get back to the beginning, put the end of your binding inside the beginning of your binding to encase it.
19. Now flip your binding round to the back of the quilt and stitch in place by hand with an invisible appliqué stitch.
Your quilt is done! I hope you enjoy this tutorial. If you have any questions please contact me. Happy sewing!
Let's start making the quilt! To start we need to cut our fabrics. This is really easy because we are working with strips that are 2.5 inches wide for everything! So that keeps things nice and simple.
For the coloured nine patch blocks, you need will need 24 strips of fabric that are 2.5 inches wide. Each block uses two contrasting fabrics. So you will need one strip to be 10 inches long and one to be 12.5 inches long.
1. Cut your 10 inch long strip into four 2.5 inch squares. Cut your 12.5 inch long strip into five 2.5 inch squares. The photo shows how to line your ruler up with the 2.5 measurement in line with the edge of the fabric. Then you can cut along the edge of the ruler.
2. Decide which fabrics you are going to pair up for each block if you haven't already done so. We will be creating a pattern like this;
Once all of that cutting is done, it's time to get sewing! We will be sewing each block a row at a time, then joining them together.
3. Take the top left square and the top middle square. Place them right sides together and sew in place down one side using a quarter inch seam allowance.
As I've used white thread I've drawn over it on the computer in blue to show you where to stitch.
4. Open it out and repeat on the other side of the central square with your top right square.
5. Now there are different opinions about what to do with your seams. Some people press them to one side. I press them open. I like this because I find it easier to line them up when joining them to other pieces. I've never had a problem with fabric showing through to the other side. So press your seams open if you wish.
Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 for the middle and bottom rows.
6. Now it's time to join your three rows together. Lay out your three rows how you'd like them to look when finished, with the right sides facing up. Pick up the top row and flip it over on top of the middle row so that the right sides of each row are facing each other. You need to make sure you have flipped the top row over towards you before placing it on top of the middle row, so that you are lining up the bottom raw edge of the top row and the top raw edge of the middle row! Sounds complicated but it isn't, it's just tricky to explain in words! So here is a photo. Sew along the blue line with a quarter inch seam allowance.
Top Tip! It is important to line the two middle seams up of both rows before you sew them together. I use pins to do this and I stick the pin through the middle of each seam, catching the middle of the seam on the other piece.
7. Open it out and press your seam open.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to join the bottom row, making sure you flip the bottom row up, lining up the top raw edge of the bottom row with the bottom raw edge of the middle row!
9. And that is your block finished! Repeat for the rest of your blocks and you will be ready to add sashing. I will be back tomorrow showing you how to do that! As always, if you have any questions or need me to clarify anything, leave a comment or send me an email.
I've been sharing on Instagram a small quilt I've been making and I think it's perfect for beginners. It is the ideal size to be used in a pushchair/buggy or for a child to use with dolls and teddies as it measures just 26 inches wide and 34 inches long. I've created it using a simple nine patch block and I repeated that throughout the quilt, separating the blocks with sashing.
What's nice about this quilt is that you can easily make it larger if you wish and also, the nine patch block looks more complex than simple squares, but it really isn't hard to do at all. As a beginner, you'll learn some useful techniques that will have you feeling confident enough to tackle your next quilt.
It's entirely up to you how you make this quilt. You can play around with fabrics, colours and size. To keep it simple, I will provide a list of what I used.
That's it! Gather your supplies and I will be back with the next steps - how to piece the quilt top. Happy sewing!
I'm starting a new series of blog posts aimed at anyone who would like to make a quilt for the first time and is not sure where to begin. There is already a wealth of information out there but it can be quite overwhelming. So my aim is to break it all down and to make it easy to understand and follow. This post will explain some quilting terminology and there will be subsequent posts about the materials you need, how to make a simple quilt top, how to turn it into a quilt and how to bind the edge.
As with any craft, quilting comes with an array of terminology that might be confusing to you if you are entering the world of quilting for the first time. So let's simplify some of the common terms.
1. Quilt - a quilt is made up of three layers, a quilt top which is created using some sort of patchwork, the middle layer which is some sort of wadding or batting which gives the quilt its warmth, and a backing fabric which is typically one single piece of fabric.
2. Piecing - this means the creation of a quilt top, by cutting fabrics into smaller pieces and joining them back together again in a particular design. This is typically done on a sewing machine.
3. English paper piecing - a style of patchwork that is done by hand. It involves cutting fabrics into small shapes and wrapping them around paper templates, joining them together with other shapes to form a design and removing the paper templates when the quilt top is complete.
4. Binding - a strip of fabric that is wrapped around the edge of the quilt to conceal the raw edges.
5. Blocks - Quilts can be large so they are usually made from small segments that are joined together. These smaller parts are called blocks and they are usually square.
5. Quilt sandwich - this refers to the layering up of your quilt, comprising of your quilt top, your wadding and your backing fabric. The wadding is the 'filling' and the quilt top and backing are the 'bread'.
6. Basting - a temporary way of keeping your layers together whilst they are being quilted. You can baste them together using pins, spray glue or tacking stitches which will be removed when the quilting is done.
7. Quilting - this is the act of using the stitches to sew through all three layers to quilt them together. This can be done by machine or by hand.
8. Walking foot - a special sewing machine foot that helps to guide the layers of fabric through your machine in a way that prevents them from slipping. This foot is essential for quilting, unless your machine has a built in foot like mine does.
9. Free motion - this is when you drop the feed dogs on your sewing machine (the teeth that pull the fabric through the machine) and using an open toe free motion foot, you can quilt through the layers in any direction in which you move the fabric yourself. This opens up a world of design possibility.
10. Long arm quilting- this is done on a special, huge machine. The quilt is put on a frame and can be quilted with larger, all-over designs. This is a professional finish although some home sewers do have these machines.
11. Applique - the application of fabric shapes to a backing fabric. They can be sewn by hand, turning the edge of the shapes under first or they can be stuck to the backing fabric with either glue or iron-on fusible webbing and then sewn around the raw edge. Applique is a lovely technique for creating pictorial quilts.
12. Sashing - fabric strips that are sewn between the blocks of the quilt to space them out and create a clean, fresh look.
13. Low volume - this refers to fabrics that have a more neutral colour palette and have a less busy pattern. Low volume fabrics are important for creating contrast in your quilt design and allowing intricate pieced designs to really stand out.
14. Fussy cutting - when you cut your fabric into smaller pieces for patchwork, rather than cutting anywhere, you can pick a motif or part of the fabric that you want to be the focus of your shape, and centralise it. Fussy cutting offers a lot of scope for creating new designs from your fabric and you can create very intricate patterns this way, but it inevitably creates more fabric waste.
And that's it for now! If you have come across any more terms you are unsure of then please leave them in the comments and I will try to answer what they mean.
I will be back soon with another post about getting started with your first quilt.
Thanks for reading and happy sewing!
After having fun making the mini quilt for the Maileg bunny and creating her a handmade outfit, I decided to make something for my little boy to play with. I'd ordered some flex foam to make a laptop case for myself, but whilst cutting it out (it still isn't sewn together!) I realised how versatile this foam is and it gave me lots of ideas for how to use it to make toys. My first idea was to make a little tent for a Maileg explorer mouse and it worked really well. So here is a little tutorial for how I made it. You can of course play around with the size of the tent and use any fabrics you like. This is a great project for using up leftover fabrics and scraps from other projects.
You will need:
The tent is constructed from two pieces, a rectangular base and a square 'roof' which is folded down the middle to create the tent shape..
1. You need to create two quilt sandwiches, one for your roof and one for the base. To do this, lay one fabric right side down, spray with spray glue and place the flex foam on top. Spray the flex foam with glue and lay your other piece of fabric on top, right side up. If you aren't using spray glue you can use pins to hold the layers in place.
2. Now quilt the layers together. I quilted my base with straight lines about half an inch apart but you can choose how you would like to quilt it.
I quilted the roof every two inches to make it less rigid.
3. Now you need to attach the binding to the short ends of your base and the two opening ends of your roof. To do this, line the binding up with the raw edges of the quilt sandwich and pin in place.
4. Trim your binding to make it level with the edge of your quilt sandwich. Fold it over and sew in place.
5. Fold the roof in half and sew along the top ridge as close to the edge as possible on the right side of the fabric. This will help to keep the tent's shape.
6. Now for the trickiest part, attaching the roof to the base. Line up the long edge of the roof with the long edge of the base, with the insides facing and place your binding on top with the raw edges together. Because there is a lot of bulk, I used quilting clips to keep the layers together.
7. Trim your binding leaving just half an inch extra either end and turn this in on itself to conceal the raw edge. Sew along this edge using a quarter inch seam allowance. If your machine finds it difficult to sew through the layers, try starting in the middle of the edge, sewing along then turning around to sew back to the opposite edge. Sometimes sewing machines struggle to start sewing thick seams at the corners so this technique helps with that. Fold the binding over and sew in place with a half inch seam allowance. Repeat for the other edge of the tent.
8. To make the doors, turn the tent on its end and draw around the triangular opening with a fabric pen onto your fabric. Use a ruler to straighten your lines and add half and inch seam allowance all the way around the triangle you have drawn. You need four of these.
9. Cut the triangles you've just drawn out of the fabric and cut them in half down the middle. You will now have eight small triangles. Take two and place them right sides together. Sew along two of the edges using a quarter inch seam allowance. Turn the triangles right side out and fold the bottom edges in and sew them closed. Repeat for the other three. Sew them in place by hand on the inside edge of the opening to make the doors of the tent.
Your tent is complete! I made some bunting in coordinating fabric to give it an added touch but you could decorate it however you wish. Why not add ric rac or pom pom trim?
If you give this a go, I hope you enjoy making it and I hope the little person in your life loves playing with it too! Happy sewing.
I enjoyed making the tiny hexagon quilt so much that today I decided to make the little bunny a skirt as she looked like she was in her underwear! I thought I'd share this as a little tutorial here as it was very quick and simple to make. It is also a great way to use up scraps of fabric and trims, so excellent for sustainable sewing.
You will need:
1. Press your fabric. Fold over the bottom hem on the long (9 inch edge) a quarter of an inch towards the inside of the fabric and press in place. Fold it over another quarter inch to encase the raw edge and press and pin in place to hold. Machine stitch it in place.
2. Fold over the top of the fabric on the long (9 inch) edge by half an inch and press in place. Fold it over another half inch and press in place to again encase the raw edge. Stitch in place towards the bottom of this fold. This creates a channel for your elastic.
3. Place your ric rac trim on the right side of the skirt hem, covering the stitching and sew in place by hand, just catching each hill and valley with your stitch.
4. Place the two short ends of the fabric right sides together and sew them together with a quarter inch seam allowance to form the centre back seam. Make sure you sew from the bottom hem up to the bottom fold of the channel. Do not sew to the top edge because this will close your channel meaning you won't be able to thread the elastic through it. Turn the skirt right side out.
5. Thread your elastic through the tapestry needle and attach the safety pin to the other end.
6. Push the needle through the channel and push the fabric along, taking care not to push the needle through the cotton. You are aiming to thread the elastic though the channel, not piercing the fabric at all. The safety pin will stop the other end of the elastic from going inside the channel.
7. Once the needle has passed through to the other end of the channel, arrange your gathers equally and pull both ends of the elastic to adjust the waist of the skirt to fit the bunny. Cut off the excess elastic and stitch the two ends in place securely by hand. Feed these ends into the channel So they are hidden.
8. Now you can finish the centre back seam right to the top by sewing the remaining part to enclose the channel and secure your elastic.
Your skirt is done!
I hope this little tutorial is helpful if you are making simple clothes for toys for the first time. I'm now thinking that this little bunny needs a top...and maybe some embroidery on the skirt...the possibilities are endless! Happy sewing!
If you have got the English Paper Piecing bug but would like a quick project rather than a quilt then this is the project for you. The layered hexagon flower cushion is fun and quick to make. Here's how...
You will need:
*Seven hexagon paper templates in each of the following sizes; half inch, three quarter inch, one inch, one and a quarter inch and one and a half inch.
*Scraps of fabric.
*Two 28cm squared pieces of background fabric. I repurposed an old pillowcase for this, which makes this project more sustainable.
*A needle and thread.
Note- I didn't include any fastenings in my cushion. If you want to be able to remove the cushion cover then you'll need to include a zip or buttons and you'll need to add some length to the back piece of fabric to allow for this. You'll need about an extra inch to add a zip.
Begin by wrapping your hexagons in fabric and joining the hexagons to make five separate flowers. For an in depth tutorial on how to do this, check out my English paper piecing video.
Once you have sewn the hexagons together to make flowers, you need to remove the paper templates. Usually, in English Paper Piecing, we do not remove templates until all sides of the shape are joined to another shape and this is because you can distort the shape. For this project, the templates need to be removed even though some edges of the shapes are not joined to any others. To minimise the chances of distorting the edges of the hexagons, I made sure I ironed all of the flowers first to ensure nice, crisps folds along the edges. Next, I removed the papers carefully, pulling from the centre of the hexagon out towards the edge (see photo below). I then used the iron to quickly press any edges under that had become unfolded and this technique worked well.
Once all papers are removed and you have pressed your flowers with the iron, place the half inch hexagon flower on top of the three quarter inch hexagon flower. Centralise the smaller flower within the larger one, making sure there is an even border all the way round. Line up the seam lines of both flowers so they match and when you are happy with the position, pin in place.
Use a blind applique stitch to attach the small flower to the larger one, sewing all the way round the edge. When you have finished, repeat the process by placing this flower on top of the next flower up in size. Line up the seams and stitch in place. To speed this up, you could easily use a sewing machine and either a zigzag stitch or other decorative stitch to applique them in place. When you have layered all of the flowers, position the motif in the middle of your backing fabric, pin in place and stitch it all the way round the edge as you did before.
You can now choose to finish your cushion however you'd like. I chose to make a piped edging and I really like the way this looks.
I hope you have fun making this cushion. If you would like detailed instructions for making piping or for finishing the cushion then leave a comment below and I will make a tutorial for that.
Of course you don't have to applique this flower onto a cushion at all! You could put it onto a bag or you could make it into a wall hanging, or if you did want a larger project, you could use it in a quilt design. It's up to you! Whatever you make, I'd love to see it so if you post it on Instagram, remember to use the #rosepetalpatterns.
About the Author
My name is Emma and I love all things sewing, especially EPP.. My little blog is the place where I document what I'm making. I hope you enjoy reading what I'm up to! All opinions are my own and I only share things that I think you will love. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.