A Spot of Dressmaking

I bought some funky comic strip fabric a while ago.  Mainly I bought it because it was aqua (I'm a sucker for aqua!) but also because of the funky comic print.

Wasn't really sure what I was going to do with it.  But then I realised what a fab beach slouchy dress is would make!  And seeing as I am off on holiday soon I got to work.

Last year I made a top with a cowl neckline. The pattern was from Lekala.co.  I love this website as you plug in your measurements and they email you a custom PDF pattern within minutes to your size!  It was pattern 4119.

I decided to use that pattern and instead of adding the waistband, I would just lengthen the top to a dress and hem the bottom edge.

I just love the way it turned out!


Easter Bunny Bunting and Easter Egg Decorations Tutorial

Are you starting to get ready for the Easter Holidays.  Some schools broke up today and some are later but either way we are on the count down now.  

So I've put together some fun little decorations you can make.

First up is this cute Bunny Bunting.

You Will Need: Hessian/Burlap; White Fleece or Felt; Giant white Bobble Trim; pretty Bias Binding; Fabric Glue; Thread, Template

  1. Use the template to cut your shapes out of hessian (burlap) - you could use fabric instead if you prefer.  
  2. Pin the hessian shape to the fleece/felt.  
  3. Sew in place about an eight inch in from the edge of the hessian.
  4. Use some fancy scallop fabric scissors or pinking shears to trim the fleece so you have a cute border.
  5. Cut a bobble off your bobble trim and apply some fabric glue to it
  6. Stick the bobble on to act as the bunny's tail!
  7. Stitch your bunnies' ears onto the bias or some fancy ribbon and string up somewhere!

Easter Egg Decorations

You Will Need: Fabric; White Fleece or Felt; Buttons; Pretty Ribbon; Thread, Template

  1. Use the small egg template to cut your shape out of fabric
  2. Pin to a double layer of  white felt or fleece, using decorative scissors cut around the edge allowing a small border.
  3. Cut a piece of ribbon for hanging about 6-8 inches
  4. Sandwich the ribbon between the two layers of fleece and stitch the fabric on, securing the ribbon as you stitch.
  5. Add some pretty buttons or ribbon to the front to decorate.

I have given a larger template for the eggs as well as the small one so you could use that to make bunting!

DOWNLOAD the Templates HERE.

Guide to Buying your First Sewing Machine

Lots of people ask me to recommend them a sewing machine to buy.  It's always a difficult question to answer as there are so many variables! Plus there are so many fab machines out there to buy it is very difficult to limit it to just one!  So I decided to put together a little list of things to consider when buying a new machine.

Guide to Buying a Sewing Machine
  • Budget: The first thing to consider is your budget of course.  When you have decided how much you would like to spend then make sure you get the most bang for your buck.  
  • Where to buy from?:  If you can buy from a local independent retailer then please do.  I know you can buy sewing machines from department stores, but how about thinking of supporting a local family business? If we don't use them we lose them!  Most independents will price match if you ask them to.  They'll appreciate you buying from them rather than just test driving it there and then going off and buying online!  They have a wealth of knowledge about sewing and sewing machines that can't be matched at department stores or supermarkets.  If you are local to me (Fleet, Hampshire) I'll put some links at the bottom to local dealers.  I would caution against buying from a budget Supermarket.
  • Test Drive it First: The benefit of buying from a local dealer means you can test drive the machine first.  They will sit with you and show you the features of the different machines you are interested in.  In my opinion this is vital before buying a machine as even a machine with the same features, but from different brands, will 'feel' different to use, much like one car to another.  So find one you like the feel of lol!  Plus, of course, if you buy from a dealer, they will be there for any after sales service.
  • Brand: This is a toughie, my personal preference would be Janome because they are so reliable and have machines to match all budgets.  If your budget is big then I would say Bernina.  I am basing these opinions on my experience of having all sorts of brands brought in to me for the Get to Know your Sewing Machine Class.
  • Mechanical versus Electronic?:  Generally the machines at the lower end of the price spectrum will be mechanical machines with dials on them.  As you go up through the price banding you will start to see electronic machines which have buttons instead of dials.  Electronic machines normally allow you to have more features and stitch patterns.  Either option is fine for your first machine, your budget will normally determine type.
  • Mini Machines:  I would caution against buying a mini sewing machine, even for a child.  I haven't seen a good one yet!  They are really noisy, very limited in what stitches they can do and you are unable to change the presser feet on most.
  • Features: OK so this list could be endless! But for your first machine, so you don't feel the need to upgrade immediately I would recommend the following.
    • The ability to vary the length of the stitches rather than having preset lengths
    • The ability to vary the width of the stitches rather than having preset widths
    • A buttonhole feature would be useful, 4 step is fine, 1 step would be fab
    • The ability to drop or cover the feed dogs - helpful if you want to stitch buttons on, do free motion embroidery or free motion quilting.
    • An automatic needle threader is a nice to have - especially helpful if your eyesight isn't great!
    • Snap on feet - so you can purchase the relavant ones you might need in future

Hope that helps you in some way.  If you are local Hampshire and looking for a local dealer I can recommend Sew Divine in Reading.  And also Sewmaster in Reading and Guildford.

Mini Easter Basket Tutorial

Thought it was time for another tutorial on here!  This time it's a Mini Easter Basket.

1. Adhere the interfacing to the handle fabric.  Fold the handle along it’s length, press.  Open out and fold the two raw edges into the centre fold, press.  Fold so the raw edges are now enclosed and you have a long skinny handle.  Stitch an ⅛ inchfrom the edge of each long edge and add decorative stitching if you want to.  Set aside.

2. Adhere the In R Foam to the outer fabric, quilt if desired.  Fold right sides together, so that it measures 11 x 4.5 inches.  Stitch the two short sides, using a ½ inch seam allowance.  Stitch the lining in the same way but without the foam.

NB. If you can't get hold of fusible In R Foam, you can stitch it around the edge instead.  Or using fusible fleece or wadding will give a similar result, just less structured.

Using fold back clips on the foam is easier than using pins!

3. Use a template to draw a 1½ square on the bottom corners of each fabric.  Measuring from the side stitch line and the bottom fold.  Cut these squares out.  Press the side seams open.  Open the basket and box the corners by stitching the two short sides with a ½ inch seam allowance.  You may wish to trim the foam seam allowance back to a ¼ inch.

4. Keeping the outer inside out, pin the handle in place with the raw edges sticking out.  Now insert the lining so that the two fabrics are right sides together.  Match up the side seams and pin all the way around.  Stitch with a ½ inch seam allowance all the way around leaving a 4-5 inch gap for turning at one side..  Turn right sides out, topstitch all the way around a ¼ inch from the top, closing the gap as you go.

You may like to add a bow or some pom pom trim around the top edge.  Now just fill with eggs!!

Rainbow Contrast Quilt

I'm excited to share with you a quilt I made last year for Love Patchwork & Quilting Magazine.  It's just been published in issue 44.  

Here are some close ups of the quilting.  That's A LOT of HSTs!!  But I do love the rainbow spectrum.  It was fun choosing the kona shades to make this with!

And the Winners ARE......Drum Roll Please.......

Wow weren't you guys busy with your Christmas gift making.  It really is wonderful to see what creativity the classes inspire.  I really LOVED seeing all your creations.

It was super hard choosing just one winner...SO INSTEAD I CHOSE TWO!!!  Both win a £10 class gift voucher!!

First up is Cath with her super fun appliqued t-shirts.  I just LOVED the use of ribbons to create the flamingo and the octopus.

Our next winner had to be Louise for making TWELVE (!!!) Oilcloth Wash Bags, now that has to show stamina and perseverance!

But I can't just leave it there as everything shared was really lovely! So to all the other people who entered, i'm sending you a 10% off voucher!  So watch your emails/messenger ladies.  Thanks so much for taking part!

A Bit of Christmas Fun - Join in....

Ok so during the year at many of my classes I've heard people saying how the item we've just made would be great as a Christmas gift.  So I know that many of you who have attended my classes have gone home and indeed made lots of the items to give as gifts.  So.... what I thought would be fun would be for you to share a picture of the gift recipient opening your handmade item with us, on this post so we can all see what you made and how much your hard work was appreciated!  It doesn't have to be the same item as made in the class.  Maybe you used the skills you learnt in the class and made something else similar, that's cool too!

So How Does It Work? You can email me a picture or place a picture in the comments section on the Facebook post.  Either way I'll upload it for you here in our Christmas Gift Gallery, which will be below this text.  And we will all admire your handy work and Ooh and Aah over how much it looks like the recipient loves the item!  Let us know what they said about it too!  Then to make it a bit more fun, on the 1st of January I'll announce a winner.  The winner will receive a Gift Voucher to use towards a sewing class with The Crafty Nomad.  Winner will be picked by me!

Christmas Gift Gallery

Hand Warmers Sewing Tutorial - Perfect Stocking Fillers!

We had a fun party in the shop where I teach my classes last night.  We had a couple of Make and Takes on the go and I promised to share the details of one of them here on the blog. So here it is.

These little hand warmers are so quick and easy to make.  They are the perfect size for popping in your pockets to warm your hands up on a cold day!  And the best thing is that they use such a tiny amount of fabric they are great scrap busters!

Just click the picture below and save it.  Or download the PDF here.

Got carried away and made a little wrapper so you can give these with usage instructions on too.  You can download these as a PDF here. Simply cut the strips and wrap them around a pair of hand warmers and tape in place. 

Introducing The Bobbin Brooch!

A few weeks ago I introduced a new product at Sew Busy that are now also available online.  The Bobbin Brooches are super cute pieces of wearable art perfect for anyone who LOVES sewing.  Wear them on your outfit, your coat, your bag or even use them to glam up a winter hat!

I absolutely LOVE these!  This super cute brooch was born out of my love for sewing, my hobby of applique and my need to jazz up my hats and coats with something fun and meaningful to me!

I got rather carried away and made A LOT! So they are now listed in my Etsy Shop! Enjoy!

Santa Gift Bag Tutorial

I ran this cute little gift bag as a class last year.  So this year I've decided to post the tutorial here as a pre-Christmas treat for you all!  Yay! Merry Christmas lol!

How to Christmas Gift bag.jpg

You Will Need:

  • Red Felt (approx 12 x 18 inches)
  • White bobble trim 1 metre
  • 2 silver buckles
  • 1.5 metres of black ribbon
  • White, Black & Red Thread
  • Sewing Machine
  • Satin Stitch presser foot
  • Scissors & Pins

Attaching the handles

Begin by threading your machine with red thread.  Cut two handles from black ribbon each measuring 11 inches long.  Pin centrally along the two short edges.  This should be about 3¾ inches from each side.  Stitch in place with two rows of stitching remembering to reverse stitch at the beginning and end to secure your stitches. (By the way if you click on the pictures you can see them up close!).

Bobble Trim

Thread up with white thread and remember to use the satin stitch presser foot.  Now we will attach the bobble trim to the two short edges.  Pin a little bit of the trim in place and start sewing.  No point pinning it all in place as it will creep along as you sew.  So one pin will be enough.  Flick the bobbles out of the way of the foot as you sew and go very slowly.

The Belt and Buckle

Cut two pieces of black ribbon for the belt, each measuring 12 inches long,  Measure 3 inches down from the bobble trim and make a mark.  Do this from both ends.  Slide a buckle onto each piece of ribbon and position in the centre.  Using the mark you made pin the belts on, aligning the top edge of the belt with the marks you made.  Thread the machine with black thread and stitch the belts on place.

Now fold the bag in half right sides together with handles matching.  Pin the two sides together.  Now stitch together along the two sides.  Remember to reverse stitch at the top to secure your stitches.

Boxing the corners

Using an acrylic ruler measure 1½ inches from the bottom fold and 1½  inches from the side stitch line and draw a box.  (If you don't have an acrylic ruler just cut a 1½ inch cardboard square and use that to draw around instead.  Do this on both bottom corners.  Cut along the line and cut the squares out.  Put your hand inside the bag to box out the corners.  Pin, with seams open.

Sew along the two pinned corners, keeping it as straight as possible and ensuring the seams stay open as you sew over it.  It is very important to reverse stitch at the beginning and end.  Do to both corners.  Then turn it right side out.


They Say it Comes in Threes.....

Lots of fun stuff happening on the magazine front lately.  Here is the third fun thing! I worked on this quilt way back in March/April and had to keep it a secret all that time!!!!  It's been published in this month's issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting (Issue 37).  So excited to finally see it in print, and also to have the quilt back.  I literally finished it about 2 hours before it was packaged up and sent off with the courier! So, there was no time to enjoy all that hard work!!

The quilt was a follow on from my I Spy Snapshots Mini Quilt Pattern which you can buy HERE.

I thought I'd share a few more snaps with you of this big quilt.  Took these in my neighbours garden with her kids perched half way up the tree holding it! Oh lengths I go to for a good photo opportunity!  In this larger quilt I decided to vary the size of the snapshot blocks.  I love how it turned out!

The Crafty Nomad Picture It Quilt LP&Q 37

I looked carefully at the value of the fabric and decided to grade from dark to light going across the quilt.  I included a little 'how to' on that in the magazine.

I had so much rainbow fabric leftover I decided to make the back a bit more interesting too!  

The Crafty Nomad Picture It Quilt LP&Q 37 Back

As this is an I Spy quilt I used the alphabet font on my sewing machine to stitch out a fun label for the back.  The tricky bit was getting the label block on the back to line up with a corresponding block on the front so the quilting would not ruin it!

The Crafty Nomad Picture It Quilt LP&Q 37 Label Block

I kept the quilting pretty simple, straight lines.  I love how it turned out at the corners.

If you are local, and would like to see the quilt up close, it is currently hanging in the window of Sew Busy in Fleet.  They will also have copies of the magazine on sale in the next few days if you would like to get a copy and have a go at making one of these yourself!  It's a great scrap buster project and charm square friendly!

A Fun Little Teacher Gift

My daughter loses her fab tutor group teacher this year. Such a shame as she loves her!!  She happens to be the German teacher hence the language text!  She also lives on a farm and has chickens and runs the chicken club at school. Yes they really do have chickens at school that have to be looked after by the kids!! So it was a bit of a no brainer as to what image to appliqué.  

We decided to make her a notebook cover with notebook. Every teacher needs that right?! 

I used some Makower fabric with lovely chickens on! 

Bunting Table Runner

OK so a while back I had a moment of inspiration when looking at the Bunting Panels that Makower have been bringing out in some of their ranges.  I was looking at one half of it and thought what a great table runner that would make.  And the beauty of it was you didn't need to to do hardly any cutting or buy heaps of different fabrics.  So not only would it be cost effective but it would also be time efficient.  Anyone who knows me will know I can't stand waste in terms of fabric or time (because basically I am lazy so I like to find the quickest/easiest way to do things lol!).

So anyhow, I made the table runner from the Tea Party range bunting panel from Makower.  Sewing World Magazine loved it and wanted to put it in their mag! So I made them one too, but theirs had wider borders!! Exciting stuff! So exciting that I literally jumped up and down when I saw it in the shop yesterday!

This is really easy to put together, it's very similar to what I teach in the How to Use Cheater Patchwork Fabric Class.  No need to cut the pieces out first which I absolutely LOVE!!

This is the panel that you start with: 

Think Makower have previously done these panels in Halloween and pirate fabrics.  At the moment I can only see them in this range and in Christmas Fabrics!  Would make a fab Christmas runner!

Sew Busy currently have the Tea Party panels in stock.... and the magazines!!!!

So Excited to be Featured in Sew Style, Love it, Make it Bookazine!

How exciting is this!? The Crafty Nomad was recently interviewed for a feature article in the new Sew Style, Love it, Make it Bookazine!  You can get your copy by clicking here.

The article was all about how people have turned 'stitching' of some sort into a business.

My friend Nicola who owns the shop where I teach my classes was also featured!

Want to find out more about me then click on the About me Button above.

A (Relatively) Quick Make - Play Mat Quilt

So I needed to make a little new baby gift but I wanted it to be a shared present for the new big brother as well as for the new baby.  So I decided to make a play mat that both could use for different purposes in the near future, but to be used to play together in the further future!

Quilted Playmat The Crafty Noamd

We had had a delivery of some fab fabric a while back in the shop that I knew would be perfect for what I had in mind.  So I stocked up on all the bits I needed this week: a metre of Stof Roundabout fabric; some batting; 1.2 metres of dark red plain cotton for the backing; and some thread.

I decided to quilt along the road lines and around the odd car!  Cream thread on top, red in the bobbin.

I used the red backing fabric to do wrap around binding to keep it quick and easy and stitched this in place with the machine.

Simple yet effective.  Took about 4 hours from start to finish.  Mainly because it wasn't continuous sewing.  Lots and lots of threads to bury!!  I think this will be great for scooting the little cars along the roads!!

I bought all this fabric from Sew Busy.

Baby Blocks Quilt Take 2!

I promised I would share the girly version of the Baby Blocks Quilt with you didn't I!  Well here it is!  The cute patterned fabrics are from the Sweet Baby Girl range from Riley Blake.  We matched it in with some blends and ditsy multi coloured dot that matched in well. Picked out the brown from one of the prints to give some bold frames to the blocks.

Nicola pieced it and I quilted it.  Great team work! I chose to quilt it with little loopy hearts

A close up of the hearts...

Remember this pattern is available to buy here.

Another Mini Mini Quilt

Ok so I couldn't resist it! I made another mini mini quilt for the Make Modern Mini Mini Quilt Challenge.  I stuck with rainbow stripes because I just love them!  Never fails to make me smile lol.  But this time I made them into little spools of rainbow thread!

The quilt finished up at just a smidge under 6 inches square.

The binding was a quarter inch thick!  And those HSTs for the corners of the spools finished up at a quarter inch square!  I probably should have paper pieced it but I didn't! It was all just cut and pieced together the traditional way.

I totally love how it turned out though!

Fresh Poppy Design

Make Modern Mini Mini Challenge

Well that's a bit of a tongue twister isn't it trying saying that after you've had a few! Make Modern Mini Mini!  So Make Modern, an online digital Modern Quilting magazine, has launched a quilt challenge on Instagram.  Thought I'd share my first entry with you.  I have more fabric cut but not sure if I'll get a second one made in time.

As you know, I LOVE rainbow colours.  So I just had to make something with rainbow colours. I settled on a coin stack quilt.  The challenge was it was to be no bigger than 6 inches square! That's a lot of teeny tiny pieces!!

So I started off by collating 16 fabrics going through the rainbow spectrum.  I cut them into little strips, three quarters of an inch wide by 5 inches.  Sewed the strips together and then cut them into 5 skinny strips an inch wide to form the coin stacks.

I then sandwiches these between some texty fabric strips, and added top and bottom borders.  I quilted with simple lines around the rainbow stacks.  And bound it in a black on black floral.  It finished up at about five and three quarter inch square.  Just the perfect size for a beer mat so say Mr Crafty Nomad!!

Other blog posts you might like:

Fresh Poppy Design

Friday Favourites - The Walking Foot

Today's product I want to focus on is the Walking Foot.

 A Generic Walking foot

 A Generic Walking foot

The walking foot is used primarily by quilters to ensure a good finish and lovely even stitches when sewing through three layers of the quilt.  Normal presser feet tend to struggle with thicker sandwiches of fabric.  So the walking foot is also useful for projects that are just really thick, be they quilting or not!  

I like to describe the walking foot like a crocodile.  It has a second set of feed dogs on the top, which grab the top layer of fabric much in the same way as the feed dogs on the machine grab the bottom layer and push it through.  This stops the layers of fabrics and batting slipping away from one another and becoming distorted.  In fact to this end, a walking foot is also great if you are trying to pattern match on a seam.  For instance you may have seen Tracy from the Great British Sewing Bee was using one the first week of series 4 when they had to make the chevron bias top.  The walking foot ensures that the bottom AND top layers are fed through the machine evenly.  Some machines have a built in 'Even Feed' foot which is great for this purpose too, but not great for quilting when a walking foot is preferable.  The way the walking foot is attached to the machine means that it kind of hops up and down as you sew, the bar sits above the needle clamp which enables the hopping!  And this is why it is better to use a walking foot for three layers and a built in even feed for two layers you want to pattern match.

All walking feet will have measurement guides on them in the shape of groove etc, which normally indicate an eighth and a quarter inch measures from the needle, as below.

The Crafty Nomad Stitch Guides

Some may come with a bar attachment that click in place and can act as a guide up to about 2 inches.  This allows you to set the distance and have evenly spaced quilted lines.  

The Crafty Nomad  Bernina Walking foot

Some really fancy walking feet will have interchangeable soles, as above, that might have a 'stitch in the ditch' guide on it (top right).  This guide sits in the seam as you sew and the stitches then sit in the 'ditch' of the seam.

So if you plan to quilt, pattern match seams, sew with fusible fleece, insulbright etc I would definitely recommend adding a walking foot to your sewing kit.  A generic one from eBay will normally set you back about £12.  A brand name one for a regular domestic machine £30-£40.  The Bernina one above £100 (Ouch!)

Other Blog posts your might like:

Beginners Guide to How to Finish up a Quilt - Part 2: Quilting

So here we have the second instalment in the How to Finish up Your Quilt series.

The Crafty Nomad How to Quilt a Quilt

So you have basted your quilt and you need to quilt it.  [If you missed that tutorial you can find it here].  The easiest way to machine quilt is to do straight line quilting and so this is a great place for beginners to start.

You'll need to make a decision as to the pattern of your lines.  Will they be vertical? Horizontal? Diagonal? Cross hatch? etc.  Will you use your seams as guides? One popular way of quilting is to stitch lines that echo the seam lines, say a quarter inch away from them each side.  Another popular way is to 'stitch in the ditch' of your seam lines.  I personally am not keen on this method, for two reasons.  Firstly if your points aren't perfect then it is hard to get this looking good on the front and back!  And secondly, you will hardly see it on the front, in my opinion a quilt will look quilted if you can actually see the quilt lines!  If you aren't using the seam as a guide you may find it useful to draw your lines on the fabric to give you something to follow.  If you do this make sure to either use tailors chalk or a pen designed for this purpose that will disappear.  

[I have in the past used Frixion Pens for this purpose but I have had some issues with these recently and so do NOT recommend them for this purpose any more.  I found that on some fabrics that didn't totally disappear, instead they left a white heat residue.  I've also heard reports of the pen marks reappearing if the item gets very cold.  So whilst I still use them for measuring fabric out as the marks are hidden with the cut marks or in the seams, I do not recommend them for use on the top/outside of a project.]

Whatever pattern you decide on, a walking foot will be essential for quilting!  Without it your machine won't be happy with the thickness of the three layers.  I like to describe the walking foot like a crocodile.  It has a second set of feed dogs on the top, which grab the top layer of fabric much in the same way as the feed dogs on the machine grab the bottom layer and push it through.  This stops the layers of fabrics and batting slipped away from one another and becoming distorted.

All walking feet will have measurement guides on them in the shape of groove etc, which normally indicate an eighth and a quarter inch measures from the needle.  Some may come with a bar attachment that click in place and can act as a guide up to about 2 inches.  This allows you to set the distance and have evenly spaced quilted lines.  Some really fancy walking feet will have interchangeable soles that might have a 'stitch in the ditch' guide on it.

Before starting to quilt, always run a tension test using some scraps of the same fabrics and batting you are using for your project.   You may like to experiment with the length of your stitch.

When starting to stitch your first line of quilting I normally start with a line that will go through the centre of the quilt.  Roll up half of the quilt so that you can get the quilt through the machine.  Start stitching just off the quilt top on the batting and stitch onto the quilt top.  Remove the quilting pins as you come to them.  If you have the ability on your machine, you may like to select the needle down option so that the needle will hold the quilt in place whilst you remove the pins.  There is no need reverse stitch or lock your stitches at the beginning and end of each row of stitching.  Work your way along the quilt unrolling it as you stitch each line.  When you reach the edge you can do the other half of the quilt in the same way.

The Crafty Nomad How To Quilt

Once the whole thing is quilted, you can trim off the excess batting and backing with your rotary cutter and acrylic ruler.  You'll also need to square the quilt up, ensuring your still have a rectangle and not a parallelogram! Your ruler will help with this.

The Crafty Nomad How to square up a quilt

So that's the quilt quilted! Next week we will talk about Binding.  How to make it and attach it.

If a tutorial isn't cutting it for you and you need more guidance, I run a 4 week introduction to patchwork & quilting course that covers all aspects that might suit your needs better.  You can find full details about it here.