When I first saw this Cute Cathedral Cube pouch by Ali - Arabesque Scissors, I knew I had to make it! It is small, and cute, and the possibilities for the fussy cut in the centre make it so much fun! I've made two other patterns from Ali's Cathedral windows range and they are so well written, I knew this was the perfect project for me.
Her instructions are easy to understand and her patterns have wonderful diagrams. She also has a video on her Instagram page to help with the tricky bits. I loved making this little pouch, I know I will be making more! I used Liberty quilting cotton and I added a tiny, quarter inch hexie flower to the centre. I think this pouch will store my tiny hexagon projects, it's just perfect for that.
I used some Clover tools that I haven't used before so I thought I'd share. Clover sent me these tools to review but all opinions are completely my own. First up is the Roll and Press. I thought I wouldn't need this but it is a brilliant tool! I love it for pressing seams when you don't want to set the iron up. It works a lot better than finger pressing and it's great if you are doing foundation paper piecing.
The Hold-it Precision Stiletto was so useful in making this little cube pattern. There are a couple of tiny areas to sew and using this lovely tool means you can hold the fabric down under the presser foot of your machine without getting fingers in the way! Safety first!
I started using these patchwork scissors and I have to say they are excellent. They have a serrated edge and they cut so crisply, I really love them and I won't be going back to my ordinary fabric shears. Another great thing about these scissors is the plastic protective case. This means you won't get them mixed up with other scissors, and we all know that would be a disaster don't we! Plus it keeps the blade away from any little hands that might pick them up when they shouldn't. Thank you so much to Clover for sending me these tools.
If you are looking for a quick, fun project that will be lovely to make but will also teach you some new skills, I really recommend this pattern by Ali Arabesque Scissors. You use foam inside the cube to give it structure and I love sewing with foam, the results are wonderful and it isn't difficult as I initially thought foam would be. In fact, I use foam in all of my patterns.
Take care, happy sewing x
I've been sewing since I was five years old, on and off of course, but it has always been a huge part of my life. Recently, I've been thinking a lot about how my sewing has evolved and changed and I've realised that at this point in my life, I am enjoying sewing more than ever before. And I think I've realised why. There have been three big changes in the way I go about my sewing and those three things have increased my enjoyment so much. So I thought I'd share these changes with you because maybe it will give you some ideas for getting more enjoyment out of your hobby.
1. Let go of Perfectionism
I used to undo my stitches all of the time when I wasn't happy with them. I used to feel frustrated that they didn't look perfect and get annoyed at myself when I felt I couldn't produce something how I thought it should look. But somehow, I've let go and realised I am human so I will never be perfect. I now see my embroidery stitches like handwriting, I am making my mark on the fabric and if it's not perfect that's ok because it is an extension of me. We don't constantly use tip-ex to correct our writing when it is a bit shaky and uneven, so why keep undoing stitches? Also, the same principle applies to choosing fabrics for a project. I used to overthink it all of the time. I'd go back and forth over choosing colours and fabrics, changing my mind and ending up frustrated. My early quilts were very calculated in terms of pattern and colour placement. I didn't think I could do random patchwork. But last year when I started doing tiny patchwork, I let go of that and started just going for it. Choosing fabrics without thinking and just putting together what feels right to me. The colours and patterns and how they are placed in what I make are an extension of me and represent my point of view. Once I started working in this way, sewing from the heart rather than the head, I started to love and enjoy what I was doing more.
2. Slowing Down
In the past, I would rush to finish a project because I was fixated on the end product. I was desperate to have a new quilt, cushion, dress, whatever it might be. I let the end goal overshadow the process and I would rush to get there. I don't work well in a hurry and rushing in this way caused mistakes which led to frustration. Last year, for some reason, I began to slow down. I think doing more EPP projects led me to this slow state but I now approach all projects, even those on machine, in a slow, methodical manner. Slowing down allows me to immerse myself in what I am doing, to notice every tiny detail in the fabric and to enjoy each and every stitch. It's taught me that although I love the end product, it is the process that I enjoy most of all.
3. Allowing myself to make what I want, when I want
Sewing is my hobby and therefore should always be enjoyable. It is also an important part of my wellbeing and intrinsic to my positive mental health. It's my creative output and my relaxation. So I decided a while back to let go of the guilt when it comes to how many half done projects I have because this was stopping me from starting new things. Now, If I want to start something new, I will. If I want to switch between projects, I will. And if somebody asks me to hem their trousers or fix a hole, I won't! Just kidding, I will of course. But first and foremost, I have thrown out the rule book of obligation. If I don't feel like making something that day, I won't force myself because that will take away the joy. I've found that by going with what I feel like doing, my enjoyment has increased and I am also finishing more projects than I usually would.
So what about you? Do you have any little rules or mantras when it comes to sewing? What do you do to ensure you are enjoying your stitching and not becoming frustrated? I'd love to know so please leave me a comment.
Take care and stay safe,
Happy sewing x
Hello everybody, I hope you are all well and staying safe at home. I feel like life is a battle at the moment, trying to deal with what is happening and the constant worries about so many things. Keeping busy is my strategy so I have two new things to share with you. First up, I've started a YouTube channel. I get asked frequently if I have a YouTube channel and also told I should have one! I didn't have much confidence in my video making skills so I didn't pursue it but after some thought I've decided to give it a go. The thumbs down feature on YouTube has always put me off. I know that when I get a thumbs down on a video, I will be a bit hurt. I don't have thick skin but I think I need to work on that, I know I will never please everyone! Currently there are only a few short videos on there as I work on uploading videos I have already shared on other platforms but I have big plans and ideas for what I'd like to share. First of all, I want to bring clear, concise 'how to' style videos to show people how to do English Paper Piecing and embroidery. These will be a combination of short videos teaching one or two techniques, and also longer, more in depth videos. As well as techniques, I have some ideas for project tutorials that I want to teach through video. My other idea is to do some lifestyle videos showing how slow stitching can be a beneficial part of every day life. What I show on YouTube will be different from Instagram. Instagram will be more of a daily snapshot at what I'm making and Youtube will be more tutorial led. What are your thoughts? Would you like to see videos like these from me? Do you have any other ideas for videos you think I should make? If you'd like to subscribe to my channel, I would be truly honoured. It's completely free and it means that you will see my new videos when I make them. You can find my channel here.
The other thing I have been working on is updating my Hexagon Needle Book tutorial and putting it into PDF format. It's still available as a blog post but I thought it would be easier for people to download the PDF and save it to their computers rather than having to search for my tutorial. The PDF download is of course free and can be found here. Thank you to everyone who has made one so far, it's so exciting to see them popping up on Instagram. If you do make one and share it on Instagram, please tag me so I can see it.
Take care, until next time, happy sewing!
As March draws to a close, I thought I would do a little round-up of the wonderful Slow Stitch Along that has been happening on Instagram. March hasn't really gone to plan due to the crisis we are all facing but so many wonderful makers have come together to share their love of slow stitching of all types on Instagram and it has been such an inspiring distraction from the world around us. I would like to thank everybody for their enthusiasm in taking part, it has been truly wonderful. There are currently over 730 posts on the hashtag which is amazing!
Zoe and I have decided to keep the hashtag going as we know how much slow stitching is helping everyone deal with difficulties we are facing, and it is helping us too. There's such a wonderful community there and we would love to continue that so if you'd like to carry on with us then share your slow stitch project at any time and tag us so we can see. I've also been doing a live virtual stitch group on Instagram at 9pm uk time on Friday evenings and it has been so much fun. I've decided to make this a regular thing so please join me if you can as it is a lovely way for us all to connect and share our passion for sewing.
I didn't quite make as much progress as I wanted to on my quilt, but I have progressed and I am pleased that I am getting closer to completing it. I have one full row to do, another to finish off and a couple to appliqué to the backing fabric, so I am getting there.
I'd just like to say thank you again for joining in with the slow stitch along and if you haven't been able to join remember that you can join in any time. If you aren't on Instagram, you can still view the posts on the hashtag.
Hello lovely friends. It seems that the world has changed dramatically since my last blog post which was only a couple of weeks ago. So I thought I'd pop on here just to let you know what my plans are for my blog and little shop going forward. First of all, thank you to everyone who bought the Hexagon Sewing Case pattern or if you bought a kit. I was blown away by the response I had to this and I can't express in words how grateful I am for the support I've received. I know there were some people who wanted a kit but missed out and I'm so sorry about that. I was planning to make a few more but with the current situation as it is, I won't be going to the post office. So for now, just the PDF pattern will be available.
I have lots of plans for things I want to do such as free patterns and videos and maybe even going live on Instagram to sew together! I'm hoping the current situation we find ourselves in will allow me the time to create these. I very much want my blog, website and Instagram to be a positive place where we can escape into a world of sewing to relax and detach from the stressful situation around us. So that will be my primary focus going forward. The previous plans I had for this year in terms of in person workshops are unlikely to go ahead now.
Since I started this website, I've always had a contact form on the website homepage just in case anybody would like to get in touch. Thank you to everyone who has used that and asked me to send them emails. I've had a big think and I've decided to create 'lovely letters' each month that will be delivered to your inbox. I'm excited to start this and I hope you all love them. If you'd like to sign up then please head to the homepage and leave your details. I'm hoping my first proper email will go out this week.
I must admit that I've felt frozen over the last two weeks and I haven't done much stitching at all. I know sewing helps me so much through times of anxiety but there are also those times when things feel so difficult everything grinds to a halt. I wish that wasn't happening to me now, particularly during the Slow Stitch Along. I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has been keeping it going whilst I've felt like I've been absent from it (although I've read every single post). This is due to a series of things happening all at the same time which has completely thrown me. I'm hoping that once my little boy is better I will feel more focused to sew and share again and I am excited to work on the things I've mentioned above too.
Look after yourselves during this time and I hope that together we can support each other in this wonderful and creative online community.
I'm so excited to tell you that the Hexagon Sewing Case PDF pattern is finally ready and in my shop! It's taken me a long time to get it ready because I wanted to make sure it was the absolute best it can be.
Thank you so much to Zena @mycreativepottylife, Sarah @sarah.costello.10 and Jen @jenthepiecemaker for testing it for me. They are such wonderful makers and helped me so much. I am so grateful to you for giving up your precious time to help me with this, I honestly cannot thank you enough.
I'm also really excited to tell you I have teamed up with Ashmead Designs who produce the fantastic Hexiform shapes I love to use, and Rose Garden Patchwork who I buy wonderful zips from (she also sells amazing fabrics and notions) to create some supplies kits for the case.
In these kits there will be:
The idea behind the kit is to make it easy for you to get started on your case and to have all of the supplies in one place, rather than having to source them from different places.
It also gives you an opportunity to try the wonderful hexiform EPP shapes from Ashmead Designs. Kits will be available to buy from Monday 2nd March 2020.
Thank you so much and have a great day!x
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!
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.