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!
I'm currently working on a lovely pattern called Simple Sewing Folder by Lauren of Molly and Mama. The pattern is due to be released soon and I really recommend it. All of Lauren's pattern are beautiful but this one really spoke to me because of the embroidery. Over the years, I've tried lots of different methods of transferring embroidery designs to fabric, from heat transfer pencils to trying to print from my printer onto the fabric. But the method that works best for me is using a Lightbox and a water erasable pen. Clover very kindly sent me some water erasable pens to try so I thought I'd do a little review of them here. I only share products I really like and that I think you will like too.
Clover make a thick and a fine pen. This is great because you have a choice over what sort of line you will need. I chose to use the fine pen and it was perfect for transferring this design. I taped the design to the Lightbox, placed the fabric on top and taped it down, switched it on and traced the design. The pen was very smooth across the fabric and I had the design transferred in no time!
I've used other brands of water erasable pens in the past and it's always taken 2-3 washes with cold water to remove the lines. However, the Clover pen washed out on the first wash and I was delighted with the results. This design was a pleasure to stitch and now I can't wait to finish the sewing folder.
What method do you use for transferring embroidery designs?
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 am over a month late documenting this because I completely forgot about writing a blog post about it! But I thought I would share with you what I made for the Beatrix Potter swap that was being held on Instagram - check the hashtag beatrixpotterswap2019 to see all of the amazing makes. This is the second time I have signed up for this swap and if it's running next year I would definitely recommend joining in if you love Beatrix Potter. It's so much fun and so inspiring to see what everyone comes up with.
My lovely swap partner Jennifer - @crimsonconfection sent me some colour palettes that she likes and mentioned that she loves details so I tried to follow that when creating her gift. I decided I wanted to make her a sewing case so I started with some 1.25 inch hexies and I fussy cut some of them using Beatrix Potter fabrics and other pretty florals and fabrics with rabbits on. I created a panel big enough to be a sewing case when folded in half. Next I embroidered her favourite character, Jemima Puddleduck onto a plain hexie and I also embroidered her initial as well as some flowers. This was easy to do because I used the hexiform shapes instead of papers. Hexiform gives a cushiony feel and is left in, which adds some structure to the piece.
Next I cut a piece of foam and spray basted it to the inside and I backed it with some fabric, essentially making a quilt sandwich and I quilted it. Then I added pockets inside and bound the whole piece with binding to finish it off as well as adding a Liberty button and elastic fastener to close the case.
I did have one major hiccup in that whilst I was quilting the piece, part of my sewing machine got caught in my stain stitches and ruined Jemima! I was so upset but I managed to fix it by cutting the stitches out and re-sewing them, despite the backing fabric and foam covering the back.
I loved making this case and I am already plotting making another sewing case for myself, because, you cannot have enough sewing cases can you?! When I received my swap parcel from Jennifer I was completely blown away by what she had made for me. She is a phenomenal maker and she made me my very own Tabitha Twitchit wearing a Liberty dress! She also made me a gorgeous pouch using beautiful Liberty fabrics and an amazing piece of fabric with Tabitha on it, as well as a sweet pin cushion with one of her beautiful cross stitches on it of Peter Rabbit. I was overwhelmed by Jennifer's generosity. Her package was beautifully wrapped, so much thought and detail what into it, I am so so lucky. Thank you Jennifer.
Have you ever taken part in a swap before? If you haven't then I recommend you give it a go one day, it is really good fun!
There are so many interesting and imaginative ways to cut your fabric for epp and this is called fussy cutting. Fussy cutting is essentially choosing a particular part of the fabric to use, for each shape. This could be a motif, a section of a pattern or maybe just lining up dots or stripes. The results of fussy cutting can be spectacular, creating kaleidoscopic designs or even turning the motif into something different entirely. Today I am going to show you my technique for simple fussy cutting which creates very pleasing results. I am yet to try anything more complex but I really want to, so I will be sure to share that journey with you when I do!
The first thing I do is to decide which motif I want to centre in my shape. In this case I've chosen to centre Peter Rabbit in a hexagon. I am using an acrylic hexagon template here, which makes this process nice and simple. It enables you to see the design easily and this means you can position it perfectly. The template has holes at each corner so I use them as reference points. I've lined the bottom point of the lettuce up with one of the corners, and I've centred the corner at the top in between his ears. Then you can either draw around it and then cut it out with scissors, or use a rotary cutter. The acrylic template includes a quarter inch seam allowance.
If you don't have an acrylic template then it is still possible to fussy cut your design, you just have to use your eye a bit more. I find it easier to position the paper template on top of the motif and hold it up to the light to judge where it is positioned. When I am happy with its position, I will cut around it using an add a quarter inch ruler.
You could, of course, draw around it first before cutting, to ensure you have positioned it correctly, and you could do this on the reverse of the fabric if you prefer. I like doing it on the right side of the fabric as I feel I can see what I am doing properly.
Once you have cut your fabric, you need to transfer your paper template to the back of your fabric, centre it correctly then baste your shape as usual. The accurately cut seam allowance will help you to do this.
And that's all there is too it! As well as acrylic templates there are fussy cutting templates on the market which are like little windows but I don't own any of them. I find acrylic templates to be really useful and I like having them. I have a couple of sets of the shapes and sizes that I use most often. However, it can be costly to invest in lots of templates if you find you use many different shapes and sizes. So in my next post on this topic, I will show you how you can make your own for a fraction of the cost!
P.S Thank you to everyone who entered my little giveaway on my last post. I put all of the names into a cup and pulled out a winner which was ... Liz! Congratulations Liz. Please contact me either through the contact form on this website or send me a DM on instagram and I will send your prize out to you.
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.