Friday Favourites - Rotary Cutter

The next favourite product in my series is the Rotary Cutter.  For anyone who has attended my classes you will know that I do virtually all of my cutting with a rotary cutter.  And that is mainly because I am a quilter and a crafter and therefore most of the things I cut are straight lines.  I choose to use the Olfa 45mm Quick Change Rotary Cutter.  If I was using it to cut curves I would probably choose one with a smaller diameter.  But to be honest if I am cutting curves I normally use scissors.

So there are lots of Rotary Cutters out there available in the crafting why do I like this one?  I love the three main features that distinguish this one from the rest!

  • The clue is in the title (lol) the Quick Change Blade system reduces the time faffing about changing the blade.
  • I love the ergonomically shaped handle with the rubber grip, much easier to grip and use.
  • The ability to cover top half of the blade whilst working with it is a great safety feature.
  • In addition to this you just can't go wrong with the Olfa Brand, they really do produce quality products.  My rotary cutter is about 7 years old and still working just fine.

It is more expensive than other models and brands but to mind it is worth the extra. If you are interested in buying one of these they are available to buy at the shop where I teach my classes: Sew Busy.

I Spy Snapshots Mini Quilt

Absolutely loved this fabric when it came out, but wanted to do something with the mini nature of the squares, rather that a cheater quilt.

So I made it into a Mini Quilt / Cushion cover with mini Polaroid style blocks.  It was fun choosing which squares to incorporate into the quilt.

The quilt design lent itself well to straight line quilting. 

I love the fact that it also had the strip of quotes running down the selvedges.  I incorporated these into the back of the cushion cover.

Although I made it into a cushion cover, I think it works really well as a wall hanging, especially with the quotes.  But I kind of think it would be cute in a kids room as a cushion to cuddle up to as there are lots of things for them to spy in there!

Inspired by that and want to make your own I Spy Snapshots Mini? I have the pattern available here

Friday Favourites - The Quarter Inch Foot

So my next product I wanted to feature on Friday Favourites is the Quarter Inch Foot.  

Originally designed for patchworkers.  I love this foot and use it for a lot of craft projects that don't need a large seam allowance.  It's perfect for bags and cushions alike, and any other small projects.  It's perfect for beginners who sometimes struggle keeping their stitch lines straight and consistent.

The metal guide you can see on the right butts up to the edge of your fabric to help you keep the stitch line consistently a quarter inch.

It's also got useful grooves engraved in along the left edge.  The first one up from the bottom is a quarter inch from the needle position.  So if you are coming up to a corner and don't know when to stop this will help you! Just stop when that groove is in line with the end of the fabric, pivot the fabric and you should be in the right place to stitch the next side!  

The other grooves work back in eighth inch increments.

Another useful feature of this foot is at the front.  Do you see how the right side (with the guide) is a quarter inch.  The left side has been made smaller.  It is an eighth of an inch, this can useful to know for some projects.

Just beware! Notice the the needle hole is just a hole and not a slot! So make sure you only use this presser foot with a straight stitch.  Use it by accident with a zigzag stitch and the needle will snap. 

These presser feet are available to buy in Sew Busy.

Friday Favourites!

Today marks the start of a new blog series called Friday Favourites!  I will be sharing with you one of my favourite sewing products and telling you why I love it!

So we are going to start with the Hot Hemmer.  This product sadly doesn't seem to be available through a UK distributor yet.  But you can buy it on Amazon! Yay!  

It's great for ensuring that your hems are perfectly consistent all the way around.  My beginners and more advanced students both love this product as it takes all the guess work out!  And is much quicker than working with a tape measure.  Sure you could make your own out of a piece of cardboard, but that wouldn't be heat resistant and non-slip now would it!?  It's also brilliant as, although I am far happier working in imperial measurements, a lot of my students only work in metric! So when I say half an inch or an inch I often get blank looks!

I mainly use it in classes to help students achieve an accurate consistent hems on cushion covers.  But it also helps you mitre corners, achieve curved hems and also with other positioning with the inverted corner.  Clover have made a neat video about it that you can see here.

Happy Valentines to all you Lovely Peeps!

Hmmm Valentines day is an interesting one isn't it.  Not sure I really go for one day of showing you care out of the whole year!! Saw this this morning on facebook and it kind of sums that up!

And it works both ways ladies!  Want to know the origins of Valentines Day then you can check it out here.

Here are a couple of Valentine-ish  projects that I thought I would share with you today!  Both stay out all year round in our house!  First up is this pretty Tree of Hearts Cushion Cover.  The hearts and tree trunk are appliquéd onto the background fabric.  I have then quilted around the hearts and trunk and quilted some heart shaped flowers along the bottom edge.  It's an old project that I did a few years ago, still love it and it still sits on our couch!

Second up is the Hearts Burlap Bunting that I think I shared a few weeks ago as I made it into a pattern/tutorial for sale.

The Crafty Nomad Hearts Burlap Bunting

Loving the rustic look that burlap, or hessian as we call it here in the UK, gives.

Here's a closer look at those flags.

Anyhow, hope you have a lovely Valentine's Day, whatever you do.

[Interested in the pattern / tutorial for the bunting? You can get it here.]

A Sweet Quilt for a Worthy Cause

When my daughter was born, she spent 3 weeks in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit.  I can remember the feelings that invoked all too well all these years later.  I heard about a charity last year that co-ordinates the making and giving of handmade quilts to kids that are in hospital, specifically I think ICU.  It struck a chord with me.  So when I was reminded about it last week by a friend, I decided to make a quilt for our local branch.  The charity is The Linus Project, I'm sure some of you have heard about it already.

I pulled out some fabric I had bought a couple of years ago at a Fabric Show at the NEC.  I needed to add a few extras to it and this is the bundle I came up with.  Embarrassingly all from my stash apart from the white!

The design was so quick to piece together in long strips.  

I used some extra squares and strips to make a fun stripe for the back.


I quilted it with loops and added some inspirational words in most of the white blocks.

Finished off with the grey and white stars for binding.

This one will be hard to let go of, but I know it's so worth it.  Will have to do a boyish one next time!

Fresh Poppy Design

Messenger Bag

I made this funky messenger bag last year, but I don't think I've shared it on the blog.  Love the contrast between the denim and the fun fabric from Dashwood Studios.  

It has a couple of pockets on the inside that are big enough to hold a phone and a kindle.  The main part of the bag is lovely and roomy, big enough for a laptop or lots of books.

It's fully lined and given extra padding with fusible fleece.  It has a slider on the handle so you can adjust the length really easily.  My daughter is desperate for me to make her one of these!  Now what fabric to choose!

[I initially made this as a class demo bag for a class I taught last year.  Having run the class twice I decided that, even though it was popular, it took too long to make in a class environment and therefore didn't provide a good value for money for the class.  So instead I have decided to sell the instructions here on my website so you can make it at home! Yay!]

Exercise Mat Bag Tutorial

Have you managed to get back into an exercising routine for 2016? Good for you!  How about making yourself a drawstring bag for your exercise mat to take to and from classes?  This tutorial will teach you how to make a neat drawstring closure so you could adapt this to any size and type of drawstring bag!

You will need:

  • A metre of soft furnishing weight fabric
  • Thread
  • A metre of cord for drawstring
  • A spring toggle
  • Sewing Machine, Scissors & pins


1. Cut your fabric pieces: main bag - 18 (w) x 29 (h) inches; handle - 32 x 6 inches; and bottom - 6½ circle.

2. Fold the handle in half, press.  Open back up and fold the edges into the middle crease, press.  Then fold the whole thing in half again along the original crease.  Top stitch along the two long edges about an ⅛ inch in from the edge. Zig zag stitch over the two short ends to prevent fraying. Set aside for later.

3. Take the large piece and hem the two long edges with a single fold of a ¼ inch.  You might choose to do a double fold here, up to you.

4. To form a casing along the top edge for the drawstring, fold the top edge over ½ inch and press, then fold over an inch and press again so that the raw edge of the fabric will be encased inside the folds.  Stitch together an ⅛ inch in from each folded edge.

5. To form the bag, fold right sides together, pin in place along the long edge.  Insert one end of the handle an inch below the casing and the other end about 1½ inches up from the bottom edge.  Ensure the loop of the handle is inside at this stage against the right side of the fabric.  Stitch in place using a ½ inch seam allowance, reverse stitch over each of the handle ends.

6.  Now to stitch the bottom circle in place.  Fold the circle into quarters and make notches at each quarter.  Make corresponding notches on the bottom edge of the bag by folding it in half.  When pinning the circle on, match the notches first. Pin all the way around matching up the edges.  Stitch in place using a ½ inch seam allowance. You may find it helpful to either pinking sheer the edge of the circle or zig zag stitch over the raw edges to help prevent fraying.

7. Turn the bag out the right way.  Using a safety pin, thread cord through the casing.  Then thread both ends through the spring toggle, I found it useful to tape them together when doing this..  Tie ends together and dab with glue to stop fraying.

Hey Presto all done, now roll up your mat and off to aerobics or yoga you go!  

Making a drawstring bag is really easy.  I like to hem the side edges first so the raw edges don't get pulled out as you use the drawstring.  Just makes it a bit neater that way.  Once you have mastered this technique you can adapt this to make different shapes and sizes of drawstring bag.  Makes perfect kit bags, swim bags or ballet bags!

Happy stitching.  If you do make a bag using this tutorial I would love to see a picture of it.  Email it to me or post it on my Facebook page.  If you are local and want to see the bag itself, it will be on display in Sew Busy, Branksomewood Road, Fleet, Hampshire for a short while.


Bean Bag Chair

One of the gifts I made this year for Christmas was a bean bag chair for my daughter.  I used a tutorial I found online, but just made a bigger size.  It was super easy sewing wise.  What was not easy was getting 10 cubic feet of 'beans' into it on my own! Oh my, I made quite a mess I can tell you, which all had to be cleared up before the little lady came home from school!


I made a liner bag for it so that I can wash the cover if necessary.  I bought a flat sheet to do that!  I made the outer from a lovely fluffy throw.  If you are interested you can find the tutorial I followed here.  Remember that i made mine much bigger though.  She totally loved it!

A Little Bit more of Christmas

I know you're probably all kind of 'over' Christmas....but... thought I'd share this quilted wall hanging I made for myself over Christmas. It was a panel left over from another project. I thought I'd make it into a simple wall hanging to brighten up the kitchen at Christmas as it matches the bunting and table runner for the same room.

Thing is I wanted to quilt it in silver thread. I have sewn with silver metallic thread before but a long time ago and not quilting. I remembered it was tricky to do.

My lovely Bernina  770QE equipped with a metallic needle made easy work of the straight line quilting that I did to outline the pictures.

But I really wanted to swirls in the body of the snowman so he looked separated from the snow around him.  Even with the Bernina Stitch regulator, I struggled to start with with the swirls.  I followed to guidance in the manual to go slow and reduce the top tension.  It still struggled.  However I managed to get a helpful piece of advice from a facebook group I belong to for Bernina 7 series owners.  Hooray! It worked.  I had to reduce the tension to practically zero, then the metallic thread behaved itself.  

Swirls have to be my least favourite shape to make but I'm still pleased I did them, even though they are not perfect, as they represent the snowballs well!

What a happy snowman!  Didn't want to take him down from the wall!

Fold Up Shopping Bag Tutorial

After the great success of our Sewing Bee for Paint Fleet Pink Week I decided to share the pattern and tutorial for my Fold Up Shopping Bag.  You may see it if you are local, in next month's copy of Fleet Chatter.  

It is especially relevant now that we have to pay for our plastic shopping bags.  What better excuse to spend even more money on fabric (!) and make one that you can use everyday (or like me forget and leave at home! Doh!)

You will need:

  • Half a metre of fabric
  • Thread
  • 9 inches Elastic ¼ inch wide
  • Button
  • Ribbon or other Strapping for straps
  • Sewing Machine, Scissors & pins

1. Cut two pieces of fabric 20 inches wide by 18 inches high. 

2. To make ‘French’ seams, you will need to pin your fabric WRONG sides together.  Sew the two sides and the bottom edges together using a ¼ inch seam allowance.

3. Cut a 2 inch square from the two bottom corner seam lines

4. Turn inside out and press seams.  Now stitch the same three seams using a ⅜ inch seam allowance which will encase the raw edges in the seam.

 5. Turn right side out, box the corners and stitch French seams in the same way as you have just sewn the straight seams.   When dealing with the side seams lay them in opposite directions so that your corner seams lay flat.

6. With your bag inside out, turn the top edge over ¾ inch, press and then turn over another ¾ inch and press, thus hemming the top edge.  Pin in place.  Insert your handles into your hem.  Pin in place.  On one side, make a loop from your piece of elastic and tuck it under the hem centrally in between one of the handles.  Pin in place.

7. Sew the hem in place an ⅛ inch away from each edge of the seam, Reverse stitching over the handles and elastic.

8. Now flip the handles and elastic out of the bag and stitch in place along the top edge.

9. Stitch the button in place about 3 inches down from the elastic on the same side

10. To fold the bag, lay out with button not showing. fold the sides 2 inches in and handles down.  Fold sides in again overlapping each other and roll up from the bottom and secure in place with the elastic over the button.

Sewing Royalty

Who loves the Great British Sewing Bee programme!?  I'm not a huge fan of sewing clothes myself but I absolutely LOVE watching others do it! LOL!  Can't wait for the next series to start next year.

This week May Martin, one of the judges from the programme, kindly agreed to support two events I was involved with.  The first was a Sewing Bee to raise money for a dedicated Breast Cancer Unit at my local hospital.  And the second was the Sew Saturday initiative thought up by Sew magazine to promote independent fabric shops and haberdashery stores in the UK.

For the first event we invited local sewists to pay to come and sew items that would be donated to the charity!  In return we offered tea, cake, a goody bag and May Martin!  We had 35 lovely ladies come along and help with out endeavours.  Between them they sewed 19 heart shaped pillows that are helpful to people who have had a mastectomy or lymph node removal.  You can read more about the heart cushions here & here.  We also made  19 fold up shopping bags that I wrote up some instructions for.  These will be donated to the charity to be sold to raise funds.

The second event was a busy day in the shop aptly named Sew Busy where I teach my classes.  I was teaching two workshops to make the cute little Aly Owl Mascot.  May Martin came along to sign books and chat to all our lovely customers.  We had a super busy day and lots of cute owl pincushions were made!

I LOVE my job!!

A Little Christmas Table Runner

I just managed to finish up the table runner which I will be using as my sample for an upcoming class for Beginners Patchwork & Quilting.  I absolutely LOVE this range of Christmas fabric.  Red always says Christmas to me!

I used a 15º Triangle Acrylic Ruler for the pieces.  I made one like this for my Sister-in-law a couple of years ago in colours to match her home.  You can see that one here.

On the back of this one I've added some simple squares for a bit of interest and extra skills for my class participants! 

I've kept the quilting simple with some pairs of echo lines.

A Little Teacher Gift

This year I decided to make my daughter's teacher a bag for her end of year teacher gift.  I made a larger version of the Pocket Bag class that I teach.  I was thinking it would be used to carry stuff to and from school. I used durable denim for the outer and used some cute red fabric with teacher words all over it for the lining and the pocket.

We wanted to make it more personal and add her name.  But she was getting married this summer so we didn't want to jinx it so opted to just add the initial instead!

We're All Mad Here...

The shop where I teach my sewing classes at always has fabulous window displays.  And they are always around a theme.  This month's window is celebrating Alice in Wonderland's 150th Anniversary.  The owner of the shop pieced together this amazing Mad Hatter Quilt using the pattern from The Quilted Fish.  I offered to quilt it for her, mainly so I could have fun with the new machine!!

I decided to use the alphabet function to sew Alice quotes all around the edge of the scrappy border.

Then we have loopy flowers on the white borders.

The hats have a big loop in them like the one from the pattern.  And around the hats I opted to quilt a meandering stipple with hidden object such as a tea cup, a Cheshire cat and a mad hatter's hat amongst other things!

I thoroughly enjoyed doing the quilting on this quilt.  It was so much easier just sitting down to quilt having not already pieced the quilt myself!

A little bit of Summer Alteration Sewing

We've had a few things lately that we've bought but haven't been quite right for us!  But with a bit of simple alterations they've been made just right.

First up was this beach coverall for my daughter.  It was the type that went over the head.  She hates that! So I cut up through the middle and inserted an open ended zip.  Much better! Could have done with a slight longer zip, but it did the job!


Second I bought a top I liked the pattern of but the style was very unflattering. So I decided to model it on one I already had.  I added a hidden casing, a couple of button holes and threaded some ribbon through and hey presto a new top!

Lastly we bought my daughter a lovely blazer that had some really funky lining but the outside was just a little too plain for my style guru daughter! So she picked out some new buttons and now has a much more individual look going on!

I love that being able to sew can mean the ability to change something to make it more personal to yourself!

Oilcloth Apron

What's that you say dear daughter? An apron required for new school induction tomorrow? Why of course dear daughter! Leftover oilcloth from the cubby house bunting was just the right size! Some tape for ties and bias tape from Sew Busy finished it off nicely!

Love this cheerful oilcloth pattern.

Another Attempt at Dressmaking

Well I decided to have another go at dressmaking recently. So I made a summer dress for my daughter. She picked the pattern (A Simplicity one) and the fabrics.  

She is such a skinny Minnie that we had to make a smaller size for her body and lengthen it. 


I really love how the little rose just finishes it off.  


Now it's hanging in the window of the shop where I teach.  

Fresh Poppy Design