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.
For a while now, I've been on a search for my favourite needle and thread for epp. I often get asked what I like best, and I haven't been able to give a proper answer because I've been undecided. I've tried a lot of needles over the last six months and I've finally settled on these Clover Gold Eye Appliqué No 10 sharps needles. Needles are such a personal preference. I remember getting a few comments on Instagram from people saying my needles were too big and looked like tree trunks! But I find tiny needles cause me to grip tighter and give me hand and wrist pain. I also didn't like long thin needles as they can be too flexible and bend. So I've been looking for a needle that isn't too long or too short, is sharp and thin but not too flexible and I think I've found it. I do a lot of appliqué so these needles are great for that but they are brilliant for epp too. You might like these needles but again, it is personal preference and what feels comfortable to you. These needles are relatively inexpensive and a packet of 15 is around £1.65. I also really love the John James brand of needles and I use them for embroidery and general sewing.
I've also been testing threads over the last few months so I thought I would share what I've found here. Again, it's all about personal preference and the result you are after. I mostly use Aurifil 50wt or 80wt. I love the Aurifil colours but the one I use the most is 2311 muslin. Aurifil is strong, fine and glides through the fabric. The 80wt thread is finer but can snap so I tend to use 50wt the most these days. I was having lots of thread breakage problems a while back and discovered that it wasn't the fault of the thread, but it was my needle. The eye of that particular needle was so sharp is was breaking the thread and stabbing my fingers. So I'm really happy I've found the Clover ones. Pictured below is the results of stitching two half inch hexies with Aurifil 50wt. The stitches are hardly visible. Aurifil 50wt is around £3.50 for a 200 metre spool.
Next I tried Gutermann 100% cotton thread colour 919 which cost £2 for 100 metres. Again this thread was strong and fine and had excellent results, see below.
Finally I've been using Superior Threads The Bottom Line polyester thread which is 60wt in colour 621 and this cost me £6.95 for 1298 metres. The results were excellent, the stitches were almost invisible but as this is polyester and not cotton, it is slippy to use and sometimes the needle slides off. This has resulted in me gripping more tightly and causing me hand and wrist pain. (I am susceptible to this pain as I've suffered from carpel tunnel syndrome and RSI so please don't let this put you off this thread, the issue is my body not the thread!)
Overall, I've decided the Superior Threads is great for quarter inch hexies as my stitches can seem really big in comparison to the size of the hexies so I like that this thread minimises that and I will continue to use it for that. I love cotton thread and will use that for everything else.
All this being said, you don't need to have this thread or these needles to do epp, just use what you have to get started. I recently saw an epp starter kit on Etsy that was over £40 and it didn't include any fabric or paper templates and this got me thinking, what does a beginner need to start out for epp? How much does it need to cost? EPP is a simple craft that requires simple tools and materials and therefore shouldn't cost a lot of money and you shouldn't need to invest a lot of money into it to start out. As a thank you for the support I've received on Instagram and over here on my blog, I've decided to host a little giveaway. All you have to do is leave me a comment on this blog post telling me what your favourite needle and thread is. I will leave the giveaway open for a week and then I will pick a winner randomly and it will be announced on Instagram and on this blog. You will win an epp starter kit designed by me that contains a few of my favourite things such as needles, thread, a Sewline glue pen, paper templates and some pretty fabric. This giveaway isn't sponsored by anybody and it's open worldwide but please just one entry per person. If you follow me on Instagram and on Bloglovin then it will be easy for you to see when I announce the winner. Thank you and good luck!
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!
As a little change from the usual EPP topic of conversation around here, I'm going to share with you my finished FPP (foundation paper piecing) cushion. I started this as part of the Summer Book Club QAL run by Kate Basti using her Tall Tales book block pattern. When I began this project, I knew I was going to make a cushion/pillow rather than a quilt. Reading is one of my little boy's favourite things to do. I often find him in his room reading books to himself either sitting in his little armchair or lying in bed. It's hard for him to sit up in bed to read because there isn't anything comfortable to lean against, which brought me to the idea of making him a cushion and a book themed one would be perfect! After searching though my fabric stash and buying some story themed fabric to add to what I already had, I realised that my cushion needed a little something extra to make it really exciting. I had some Three Little Pigs fabric that I had bought about 10 years ago and that gave me the idea for incorporating The Wonky House pattern by Larisa who is @stitchingnotes on Instagram. It's such a cute pattern and I thought it would go perfectly with the books and I hoped that if I could get the sizing right then I could use the houses as the front covers. Well somehow I managed to pull it off! So it was my first attempt at FPP and even though it really isn't perfect, I really love this cushion.
First of all it felt fantastic to actually finish something! Most of my projects are very much long term projects so I don't often experience the feeling of finishing something, and it feels nice! Secondly, the cushion is so soft and squishy and lovely to cuddle into. Once I'd pieced the front and back panels, I quilted them onto wadding by stitching with my machine in the ditch and adding hand quilting details. This gives it a lovely quilted effect and makes the cushion extra comfortable. I loved added the hand stitched details, I think that was my favourite part of making this cushion. There was something so soothing and relaxing about repetitively stitching into the quilted fabric, I loved it. Thirdly, I used some fabrics that were very special to me. I bought them many, many years ago in the hope of making a child of mine something special, and that has eventually come true and means so much to me.
I will give this cushion to my little boy on his third birthday which is coming up very very soon! It's so incredibly important to me that I make things for him that he will love. He loves the story of the Three Little Pigs so I hope it will help him to retell the tale and I hope that beautiful illustrations on all of the fabrics I've used will be something he can use to help him develop his speech further. I remember being a similar age to him and having a dress that had a park scene printed on it. It was full of detail and I loved looking at it and imagining stories. I hope he does the same with his cushion.
I really enjoyed FPP once I had got my head around the technique and I'm sure I will be trying it again. I think FPP is like magic! It's so fun how you can create images with your piecing, I can't wait to tackle some other patterns. If you are a beginner at FPP like me, I recommend both of the patterns I have mentioned here as they are definitely both achievable for beginners. I did have to use my seam ripper a few times but once I'd gained an understanding as to how to do FPP, it wasn't as tricky as I first thought. My piecing wasn't perfect but I am trying to embrace imperfections and learn from them for next time! And don't forget to check out this blog post of mine from a while back as it is full of useful hints and tips for FPP success!
I'm lucky enough to be going on holiday tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm holidaying in the UK so I won't be going on a plane, in fact, we are just travelling in the car and it will be about a 5 hour journey without stops. I've been thinking about which sewing projects to take with me for months! For me, more thought goes into that than it does into what clothes to take, but if you are reading this then I'm guessing you put lots of thought into your travel sewing projects too! I usually pack too many sewing projects, for fear of running out - which never happens! As I like to switch between projects often, I need to make sure I have a variety with me because otherwise I run the risk of losing interest and doing nothing. It's a family holiday so I anticipate many an evening spent playing board games together so I want to take projects that are easy to pick up and put down. Whilst I'd love to take embroidery with me, I know that any stitching time will be in the evenings and I just can't see well enough without a daylight lamp, so I think the conclusion is to take EPP projects with me!
First up, I'm going to take my current two scrappy projects - quarter inch hexies and three quarter inch diamonds. I don't yet have a concrete plan for these projects, I'm just making it up as I go along, but taking some pretty scraps, sharp scissors and glue pens will be all I need in addition to the paper templates, thread and a needle. The ultimate portable project!
I'm also going to take my current Sew and Quilt blocks of the month. I am loving this quilt so much that I know I will be thinking about it whilst I am on holiday and I will end up desperate to work on it! So I've been glue basting as many shapes as I can like mad to make sure that I can just pick it up and stitch.
I will pack my projects in small pouches like this one pictured below. I also purchased a Clover Needle Dome as I thought this might be useful for keeping needles safe and threaded ready to sew. So far I really like it and it works perfectly. I also purchased some needles in little cases, again hoping that this would be a safe way to store them whilst travelling. Crucially, I stocked up on Sewline glue pen refills! I'm pretty certain I won't need this many but running out on holiday would be a disaster!
Do you take your sewing projects on holiday? Have you ever taken your sewing machine on holiday?! I'd love to hear all about it so please leave me a comment here or over on Instagram.
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.