When Elise Baek asked me if I would like to be part of the book tour for her soon to be released Patchwork Gifts book, I was absolutely delighted! I've never been asked to be part of something like this before, what an honour! I've been following Elise for about a year on Instagram and her work is wonderful. Her designs are fresh and exciting, she uses beautiful fabrics and she is really inspiring, so I knew her book would be fabulous, and I was right!
On receiving my copy of the book, I quickly opened it as I couldn't wait to see the projects inside. They are all wonderful and it was so hard to narrow it down to one. I love the Double Wedding Ring Table Topper as I've been wanting to make one for so long. But I decided on the Meadow Mini Quilt. I fell in love with this design as soon as I saw it because I knew it would be perfect for the many Liberty prints I have. Also, I want to give this as a gift to someone special and I knew that person would love this. It also speaks to my love of tiny EPP so it was clearly the right project for me!
I enjoyed every stitch of working on this project. I really took my time over it, doing a little bit each day. I think the finished result is joyful, bright, cheerful and makes me think of Spring.
If you are thinking of buying this book, I really recommend it. The projects are so lovely and very well explained. I know this won't be the last thing I make from this book, as well as the double wedding, I have my eye on the toadstool pincushion and the kite lavender sachets. I hope my version of the Meadow mini quilt did justice to the original. Thank you to Elise for letting me be part of this book tour, it really has been an honour and the highlight of 2020 so far for me. Make sure you check out the rest of the people on the book tour, every single one is a fantastic maker and it is so inspiring to see what they make. Elise is also running a really fun bingo competition so head over to her Instagram and be sure to follow the hashtag #patchworkgiftsbook.
Hello everybody. Today I would like to invite you to take part in a fun stitch along which is taking place on Instagram and hosted by myself and the lovely Zoe Mayson. So let me tell you all about it!
The Slow Stitch Along is a community event taking place on Instagram throughout the month of March.
What is the Slow Stitch Along?
Working on a long term, slow project such as a hand pieced quilt, knitted blanket or cross stitch, is lovely and rewarding but it can be easy to run out of steam. I think, aiming to do a little bit each day or as often as you can, and sharing with your stitchy friends online, will help to keep you motivated and you will soon see visible progress. So that’s where the Slow Stitch Along comes in. Dig out your favourite long term stitchy project - this can be epp, embroidery, cross stitch, knitting, crochet, or any type of craft you want, or start a new one! The idea is that we share a slow, meaningful project together. This stitch along doesn’t really have any rules other than take your time, no pressure to complete your project at all. Just relax and find some quiet time when you can. This can be daily, weekly, it’s entirely up to you. Find ten minutes, find an hour, whatever fits in with your life. Stitch your project and share a lovely photo of it to inspire others. Support and cheer others on with their slow projects.
How did this idea come about? - I think we all sew for two reasons, the process and the product. Yes, we want the product at the end and the product is important. It might be an item that we need or it might have personal meaning or be a gift, but I think ultimately, it’s the process of sewing that is healing and rewarding. I really believe there is something to be said for slow, repetitive stitching. Being mindful in your project, sewing for the process not putting pressure on yourself to have a completed item. Doing a little bit when you can and seeing your project grow!
No competition, no prizes. Just community and friendship, the sharing of ideas and supporting one and other.
So if you’d like to take part, use the hashtag #slowstitchalong and tag me and Zoe so we can find you and share as many photos in our stories as we can.
Each week there will be a topic to discuss if you'd like to, and we will of course remind you of this as we go along, but here is a brief outline. It’s just an idea, you don’t have to stick to this!
Week 1 - introductions
Introduce yourself and tell us about your project. Have you started it? Show us the stage it is at currently. Is it a new project? If so, share your planning process. Is there a story or special meaning behind your project? Tell us all about it, we love hearing the details behind a project!
Week 2 - Progress photographs and videos. Share any progress you are making on your project this week however small it may seem. Are you working on your project daily or every other day? How are you fitting it into your routine? Are you doing ten minutes or an hour? Is it the only project you are working on or are you switching between other, quicker projects? Remember to follow the hashtag and cheer others on too. The best part about Instagram is seeing what other people are doing and building friendships through our love of craft.
Week 3 - Slowing down - How does slowing down feel? Are you enjoying working at a slow, relaxing pace with no pressure to finish. Is it helping you to feel more grounded, relaxed and calm? Are you feeling more creative without any time pressure? Share your thoughts and feelings.
Week 4- How does your project compare to when you started the stitch along? Did doing a little bit often work well for you? Did you see results and feel like you have made good progress? Have you made new friends online and felt motivated? Has slowing down and being mindful in your project felt good and had a positive effect on your wellbeing?
This is the first time we have hosted any kind of sew along and we are so so excited about it. We are both passionate about slow stitching and we really hope you will join us. So let me know in the comments here or over on Instagram, will you be joining us for the Slow Stitch Along? I really hope so!
Something a bit different to my usual posts but yesterday I went to an exhibition of clothing from 1886 to 1966 at Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and I thought you might like to see a little bit of it. I love history and I am fascinated by clothing from the past. I love watching period dramas to get a glimpse of days gone by so whenever there is an exhibition of fashion from the past I enjoy going to see it. Since becoming a mum, I haven't been to a gallery or museum to see things that are of interest to me so this was a real treat. The lovely thing about Walker Art Gallery is that there is an excellent area for children, so my dad could look after my little one there whilst I viewed the exhibition and there were so many lovely activities there to keep them occupied.
The collection of clothing had belonged to Emily Tinne and is the largest collection of any one person's clothing in a UK gallery. She was an affluent woman and had a real spending habit. Her family had no idea of the sheer amount of clothes that she bought until after she passed away in 1966. Most of what was found was unworn with the price tags still on. The collection was incredible as the pieces were a mixture of daywear, evening gowns, children's clothing, accessories and coats.
Some of her items were from ordinary shops, others made by dressmakers and some were designer pieces. It was said that she often bought clothing because she wanted the shop assistants to earn their commission, so in this respect she was a charitable woman however there is no doubt that she definitely had a spending habit.
I loved these beautiful examples of lace collars and look at the tiny children's shoes below!
Below is a picture of a bathing suit.
I really loved the examples of children's clothing, there were so many beautiful embroidered details.
Emily's evening gowns were stunning. She loved wearing black and chose such elegant pieces adorned with beads and lace. She even had just the front of a beaded gown in her collection and it explained how you could buy dresses in pieces which is something I'd never heard of before.
At the end of the exhibition were pictures and advertisements about the large department stores in Liverpool which brought back memories for my mum and there were some that even I recognised from the 80s when I was a child. Below is Cripps which is where my mum got her wedding dress from.
It was so nice to take a peek into history and immerse myself in the fashions of the past. It saddens me that our high street shops and department stores are closing, I would love it to go back to the way it was where we would all be buying less, it would be of a better quality and we would cherish what we have rather than the fast fashion of today. Viewing this exhibition was a lovely reminder of this and will help me to access the clothing in my wardrobe and who knows, I may even delve back into dressmaking again one day. That's where my online name Vintage Sewing Box comes from, my love of vintage fashion and sewing patterns, and it was lovely to revisit this yesterday. The exhibition is on until 1st March 2020 if you would like to visit it too.
Do you make things to sell at craft fairs or online? Or are you like me and just love making things for fun? I often get told by friends and family that I should sell the things I make but they don't realise how long it takes me to make things. I'm currently working on my Hexagon Sewing Case pattern and it is close to being complete! This has led me to think about how it will feel to sell my pattern. I don't have a job at the moment as I am a stay at home Mum, so making a little bit of extra money would definitely be a help. Thinking about selling it got me thinking about a time in my life when I did make things to sell. I did a bit of digging around and found some old photos so I thought I'd share here.
Back in 2009 I was 26 and working as a Spanish teacher in primary schools. Even though I had a degree and a masters degree, I was working as an unqualified teacher as I hadn't done teacher training at this point. I had quite a lot of spare time and loved making things so I set up a website, an Etsy shop and I sold what I made at craft fairs. I sold nothing through my Etsy shop and nothing through my website because I had no idea about how to promote it or make it show up in google searches. However I did sell quite well at craft fairs. At one fair in Liverpool, a woman came over and bought all of the earrings I had on sale for her shop in the city centre which sold handmade items. I then later gave her a lot of my bags which she took on sale or return.
However, I never went back to her shop to see if she had sold any, I couldn't bring myself to go in. I even stood outside once, with the aim of going inside, but I couldn't do it. I loved what I made. I loved the fabrics and I put my heart into everything. So I think because of this, I was scared she might not have sold any and that she'd ask me to take them away. I was also afraid she might have sold some and then they might have been returned by the customer because they didn't like it or maybe it fell apart. I also felt so strange about asking her for money, I don't know why, it was just so uncomfortable for me. I was crippled by this lack of confidence so much that I never, ever contacted her and to this day I have no idea if she sold my bags or not. I also really struggled at the craft fairs. I loved being around other makers and I always received great comments from them and the customers about my things but I felt so awkward about selling I didn't enjoy it at all. I just wanted to curl up and hide.
Whilst my skills, style and tastes have changed a lot over the past 11 years, this feeling about selling my work has not gone away. When I exhibited my mini quilt in the art gallery over the summer, I put 'Not For Sale' on it. This was partially due to it being a very personal piece, partly because I had no idea how to put a value on it and also because I didn't think anybody would buy it. Or if they did, they might end up disappointed with it. The same negative thoughts as 11 years ago.
It feels quite emotional writing this because I can see how sad it is that this has held me back in some ways. But then the most amazing thing happened last week. After sharing the image of the second hexagon sewing case sample I made online (pictured at the top of this post) I mentioned in my Instagram stories that I might sell it. I was thinking about it but not entirely sure how to go about it. Within an hour I got a message from a lovely person who wanted to buy it and within no time it was sold! I could not believe it and it really made me happy. I could not be more grateful to the lovely person who bought the case and I hope she really loves it. This sale really boosted my confidence and I feel so positive now. I definitely won't be chaining myself to my sewing machine in order to churn out some products to sell, that sort of sewing isn't enjoyable to me. But if occasionally I have a some pieces that I do not need, I don't feel afraid of trying to sell them anymore. Have you ever sold the things you make? How did you find the selling process? I'd love to know, please leave me a comment. Have a wonderful day and thank you for reading!
Just sharing some photos of another needle book I made as a gift for a friend just before Christmas and I think this one might be my favourite so far! I love the blues and greens and the Betsy Ann print I used for the edge/inside is one of my favourite ever prints.
If you'd like to make one too, I have a tutorial that you can follow here. It's a lovely project as it is all made by hand and there's something really nice about that I think.
I love adding little embroidered details like this lazy daisy stitch, I think they are sweet and add a lovely touch.
I've made myself two of these needle books and I wish I needed more as they are so enjoyable to make! Thank you to everyone who has tried my tutorial and made their own already! It really does make me so happy to see your versions. So if you make one too, please share it with me either here or on Instagram as I would love to see.
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful festive period and I wish you all health and happiness for the coming year ahead. What better way to start the year than with a new project! I've been thinking for a long time about making a quarter inch hexagon wall hanging and I decided over Christmas that it was now or never. If I don't start it this year, I never will. So I set to work gathering scraps and basting my tiny hexies ready to start. If you are anything like me, you like to know the details behind projects so I thought I'd share with you why I want to make this quilt, my inspiration and my method, just in case you'd like to join me with your own quarter inch hexie project. I know quarter inch hexies aren't for everyone but already one lovely person has asked to join me and I'd love it if more people would like to join in too.
I've wanted to make a large piece from tiny quarter inch hexagons ever since I saw Miss Leela's Wedding Medallion Quilt. Please click the link and check it out as it is amazing! I've also compiled a Pinterest board with some ideas and inspiration from other quarter inch projects I've seen. I don't know the layout of my piece yet but I will use these designs as a guide to get me started.
There's a little bit more to making this piece than just wanting to though. Firstly, it will be predominantly made from scrap fabric. I am conscious of the effect the textile industry has on the environment and I strongly believe in making sure the fabrics we do buy are carefully considered purchases and are not wasted in any way. So this project will use floral fabric scraps left over from my other sewing projects in addition to some solid coloured fabrics that I have purchased specifically for this piece. As I am making quarter inch hexagons, even the tiniest of pieces can be used so this is a great way to use up scraps.
Sewing has always been a sort of therapy for me. It allows my mind to be calm and the rhythm of stitching helps me to relax and reduces my stress levels. I've recently struggled again with low mood and feelings of anxiety and worry. I want this project to be the one that I turn to to help me through those feelings and to provide relief from them. Nature has always had a positive effect on my well being and so I plan to fussy cut tiny flowers for many of the hexagons. I know that seeing these tiny blossoms will lift my spirits and will also remind me to focus on the small things in life that can bring us joy. I hope that by thinking in this way, I can feel better. Only time will tell but I will be sure to let you know how it goes and if it does work.
Staying true to myself, I will be making this quilt up as I go along, it seems to be the way I do everything these days! I will be using Hexiform shapes from Ashmead Designs and I'm buying them bit by bit as I think I will need 1000s! I love the Hexiform because you don't need to remove it at the end as you do with papers. It acts as a layer of wadding/batting and it gives a lovely structure to the piece.
I'm using Superior Threads Bottom Line Thread in colour 623 because it blends really well with most colours of fabric. As it's polyester, it is really strong and I need to use a strong thread as I've decide to sew the hexagons together using a ladder stitch rather than the usual whip stitch. When working with such small hexagons, I was finding that my stitches looked really big when I whip stitched, no matter what thread or needle I used. Ladder stitch definitely takes me longer than whip stitching at the moment, and it feels like I'm learning from the beginning all over again. But hopefully I will find my rhythm with it and when I do, I will post some video tutorials on Instagram just in case there's anybody who would like to see.
I don't really have a name for this project yet, but I'm sure one will come to me in time. For now I'm calling it the tiny hexie project! I'm hoping I can spend about 45 minutes a day on it most days and if you want to follow my progress, I will probably show where I'm up to once a week on Instagram.
If you fancy joining me with your own quarter inch hexie project or similar, let me know! It will be fun to stitch along together.
I thought it would be nice to look back over 2019 and tell you a little bit about my journey as it’s been quite an exciting year! At the end of February I decided to start consistently blogging here and to share what I was up to more regularly on Instagram. I’ve always wanted to share more online but I’ve always been afraid. This year I told myself to be braver and I have really pushed myself to do so.
I'm naturally a quiet person. I don’t like to make a fuss and I really am quite shy. I’ve been longing to share my passion with likeminded people and I knew the only way I could do that was to show up and speak out about my sewing so that’s what I did! I can honestly say it has changed my life. Through being more active online, I’ve met so many inspiring and creative people and a whole world of sewing and community has opened up to me. It’s such a joy to switch on my phone and see the incredible things that people are making and the wonderful friendships that are blossoming. Anybody who thinks social media is a negative thing only needs to look to the sewing and quilting community to see just how supportive it is.
It’s in my nature to constantly doubt myself and to think I’m not good enough. I know that without the support of this community, I would have stopped sharing online a long time ago. I can’t really express just how grateful I am for the amazing comments I've received on this blog and on my Instagram page. If it wasn’t for all of you, cheering me on, I wouldn’t feel as positive as I do today.
This year has seen my work featured by a blog that I’ve always loved and that really was a highlight for me, along with exhibiting my work in a local art gallery. But the friendships and community aspect of sharing online has really changed my life for the better. I wish there was a way I could give back to everyone who has supported me, as a way to show just how appreciated it is. I hope this blog post is a small gesture towards showing my gratitude.
In terms of my making, I can see a vast improvement in my sewing and this is definitely due to the increased volume of stitching I'm doing. I sew almost every day and next year I am really going to make sure stitching is part of my daily routine as it is beneficial for my wellbeing. My aim for this year was to finish my Sew and Quilt Row by Row block of the month quilt and to finish my log cabin quilt, neither of which have been completed! I think the log cabin quilt can be completed in a few hours and my Row by Row quilt has a lot of work left to do on it but that's great because I absolutely love working on it. Hopefully it will be completed next year. 2019 has been the year of EPP for me and I have days where I cannot stop dreaming up ideas for designs and patterns that I want to create. I have managed to create some free patterns for my website and it has been so exciting to see other people make their own versions of my patterns. I cannot tell you how happy I am when somebody posts something they've made from my tutorial or pattern on Instagram, it really is the best thing ever. I hope to design more patterns next year.
Looking forward, I have some exciting plans for next year. First of all, I am planning to record good quality video tutorials explaining and showing my process when it comes to English Paper Piecing, in great detail. This is something that has been requested many times and I hope it will be another way I can give back. I also plan to release a full sewing pattern for my hexagon sewing case which I’m super excited about! This will of course depend on being able to find somebody to test the pattern first but watch this space! I’m currently collaborating with an Instagram friend on some exciting plans we have for a stitch along. When all of the details are finalised I will be sure to let you know all about it. I also have lots of fun ideas for projects I want to make next year, none of which are finalised yet but I think there will be lots more tiny stitching to come from me.
The final thing I have in the works for next year is quite exciting but also nerve wracking for me too! I am in the process of setting up an in person, in real life, EPP workshop! I am super passionate about EPP as you know, and there are lots of people out there who I know would love to learn. I want to spread the joy of EPP and hopefully show others just how beneficial it is to mental health and wellbeing as well as being so fun. I have a lovely location for us to work in and a very pretty project planned. I'm just waiting for dates to be finalised and then I can reveal all of the details. I'm really excited about the prospect of meeting people in real life, stitching together and sharing the joy of EPP. So if you are in northern England and think this would be something you'd like to do, keep your eye on my Instagram page and my blog and soon enough I will be able to tell you all of the details.
I'd like to thank every single one of your again for the support you've given me, it really does mean so so much to me. Wishing you a very happy rest of 2019 however you celebrate it and I will be back here soon to tell you about the Stitchalong we have planned!
These little needle books are so lovely to make. I made mine completely by hand but you could use a sewing machine for some aspects of it if you wanted to. I'd been wanting to make a hexagon shaped needle book/sewing case for a long time but couldn't find a way to make it that I liked. When I saw Naglaa's tutorial on her Instagram page for quilt as you go hexies, I suddenly thought about using it to make needle books. So please check out her tutorial as it will help you in making your needle book.
To make a needle book you will need:
1. Make a hexagon flower using your preferred epp technique. Take a piece of your linen, fold in half and half again to find the centre. Place your hexagon flower in the centre and appliqué in place. Take care to have your hexagon with a point at the top and line the hexagon flower up with this point.
2. Add a running stitch around the edge to frame the flower and embroider a little flower in the centre if you wish, using a lazy daisy stitch and a French knot.
3. Create a quilt sandwich. Place your large, 2.75 inch cotton hexagon right side down and put the hexagon made from wadding or flex foam on top in the centre. Place your linen hexagon on top and ensure it is central.
4. Fold one edge of the larger hexagon inwards by about a quarter inch and press.
5. Fold it over again to overlap the linen and use a pin or a wonder clip to hold it in place.
6. Repeat for the other five sides of the hexagon, taking care to line up the corners to mitre them.
7. Use a blind hem stitch to sew it in place.
8. Now the front cover of the book is complete, layer up the remaining pieces of linen, wadding and cotton into a sandwich and repeat steps 4,5,6 and 7 to make the back cover. You can of course add a little embroidery detail to the back piece of linen first if you wish.
9. Now the front and back covers are done, put them together with the insides facing each other and join them together along the spine with a ladder stitch.
10. Fold your felt in half and place your 1.75 inch hexagon template, half an inch from the folded edge as in the photo above. Cut around the template.
Unfold and you will have two "pages" joined in the centre.
11. Place it inside your needle book, lining up the points of the hexagons so they match, and stitch in place down the centre taking care just to catch the fabric from the needle book and not to stitch all of the way through.
Your needle book is complete! The finished size is approximately 3.75 inches in diameter and 4.25 inches tall. Fill it with needles and pins to keep them safe. I hope you like this tutorial. If you make one and share it on Instagram, please tag me so I can see it! If you need any support in making one or have any questions please get in touch via instagram or using the contact form on the home page of this website. Happy sewing.
I'm going to tell you a little bit about my latest creation, a hexagon sewing set (for want of a better name!). Way back in April of this year, when I began to get really obsessed with hexagons and epp, I wanted to make a little hexagon needle book to keep my epp needles safe and seperate from other types of sewing needles. I couldn't find a pattern for a hexagon shaped case anywhere so I decided to make one up. I used my acrylic templates to cut two hexagons joined together to be the basic shape, but the finished result was disappointing. It didn't look accurate enough and the way I bound it with bias binding let it down. So I shelved the idea for a couple of months.
Then I saw Naglaa's tutorial for quilt as you go hexagons on Instagram and a lightbulb went on, I could make a needle book using this technique! So I did and it worked. For the Beatrix Potter swap I made one for my partner and subsequently I made a few more.
For those needle books I used interfacing and wadding inside and the result was really nice. The entire thing was stitched by hand and I really liked that, it felt like a nice little thing to make. But my mind had already starting wandering...could I make a sewing case too? A hexagonal one? So I gave it a go and I did it!
I'm really pleased with how it turned out, even if it did take four attempts to sew the binding on! I ended up using a very unconventional method to attach it but it works and retains its shape which was very important. Instead of wadding, I used Pellon Flex-Foam inside and it is brilliant. It holds the hexagon shape perfectly and gives the case stability. I then went on the make a needle book to match and I used the foam here too and I'm really happy with the results.
So this case is effectively a prototype. There are a few tiny tweaks to make but other than that I think I've cracked it. I love that the zipped pocket is big enough to store large hexie flowers and the other compartments fit the needle book, my matching pincushion and other tools and notions.
I made pattern pieces for the sewing case as I went along just in case I wanted to make another one or maybe even turn it into a proper pattern one day. I think it is a customisable piece because instead of the half inch hexies I've put on the front, you could just put one larger hexie flower or even leave it plain to showcase your favourite fabric. Of course I had to add a little detail to the back too, and a really tiny hexie flower on the inside of course.
So what do you think? Do you like my sewing case and the set of three pieces? I hope you do, please let me know in the comments.
After numerous requests, I've finally managed to create a little pattern/step by step guide to creating your own version of my mini quilt pictured above. As I created this a long time after actually making the original, it isn't as detailed a tutorial as I would normally create. I didn't have as many step by step photos as I would have liked to have included, but I hope that if you would like to, it will help you make your own version.
It has completely amazed me just how much people have loved this little mini quilt, my Gran would have been so happy if she could have seen it. I know there are a lot of people out there who would like to give this a go but were unsure as to whether it would be ok but you now have my permission to have fun and make this lovely design. A lovely lady called Marianne has already made her own version and it is beautiful. Thank you so so much again to everyone who has supported me in the epp journey I have been on this year. I hope this little free guide to making Mabel's Garden goes a little way to show just how grateful I am for all of you who read my blog and Instagram posts, you are all wonderful.
I made the original using Hexiform shapes, but I've included a separate set of instructions for using paper templates instead. You can find the patterns here. And if you would like to read more about the original piece and the story behind it, you can find my original blog post here. Happy sewing!
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.