Friday Favourites - Spool Holder

Next up in the series is an absolute favourite of mine! [hence the name of the series dur! lol!].  Once you've been sewing for a while you will start to accumulate lots of different pretty coloured spools of thread.  One to match each of the lovely pieces of fabric you buy to stroke! Oh sorry that's enough about me!  So, you have all these spools, so what to do with them. Think I started off with them in a tupperware container and then moved onto a purpose box with lid.  But hey, then you can't see all those pretty colours!! That won't do!

So then I found these great stands that can also be wall mounted.  I have two!

Perfect for storing your spools of thread, even the larger ones. Check out the top row.  And if you are super sneaky you can also pop your bobbin with matching thread on the post first and then the spool on top to keep them together.  If you look closely at the picture you'll see the bobbins nestled under the spools.

The fab thing is you can buy very similar stands at the shop where I teach my classes.  Interested? you can check it out here.  They can be free standing or wall mountable.

Do you ever drop your bobbin on the floor and curse when it unravels as it nonchalontly rolls away from you!!! How about getting some plastic tubing and cutting into little chunks to wrap around your bobbin to hold all the thread in one place?  Works like a charm!

If you aren't quite ready to fill a whole Spool rack then you might prefer the Bobbin Buddies.  Check out the tutorial below.  

Beginners Guide to How to Finish up a Quilt - Part 1: Basting

As I'm starting to release quilting patterns now, I thought it would be good to provide some guidance for those new to patchwork and quilting on how to finish up their quilts, as this is not included in the patterns. 

So if you've managed to piece together your first quilt top and are feeling pretty pleased with yourself, well done!  But are you now wondering how to to make that lovely quilt top into a quilt?  If so, then this tutorial is for you!

The next step is to baste the quilt [note this is nothing to do with basting a turkey!].  Basting the quilt means temporarily fixing the three layers of the quilt together, so it stay together whilst you are quilting it and the layers don't shift apart.  It's a really important step: do it right, and you'll get a lovely quilt with no puckers or folds; get it wrong, and you won't be pleased with the finished product!  So it's worth taking your time with this step.

There are two main ways to baste a quilt: with basting pins (curved safety pins); or to spray baste (temporary spray adhesive).  I've tried both but I guess I must be a traditionalist as I still prefer pinning.

Step 1: Find a surface to work on, ideally this would be kitchen counter height to save you from backache, but that can be tricky.  I'm lucky I have a games table that has a cover on that I use.  If you have to use the floor, then invest in something cushioned for your knees! And if you have to use the dining table, make sure you protect it from the pins!

Step 2: The batting should be about 2 inches bigger on all sides than your quilt top and the quilt backing should be about 3-4 inches bigger on sides than the quilt top.  This allows for any shifting about during the quilting process so you don't end up having to trim your precious quilt top.

Step 3: Lay out the ironed quilt backing, wrong side up and smooth out wrinkles.  Carefully lay your batting on top, centrally placed.  Again smooth out any wrinkles. And finally place the quilt top centrally on top of the batting right side face up.  Smooth out all the wrinkles (wouldn't it just be fab if we could inject it with botox to cut this step out ;-) !).

Step 4: Insert the safety pins through all three layers starting in the centre and working outward, smoothing the fabric outwards as you go.  Don't bother doing the pins up at this stage.  Do this over the whole quilt, spacing your pins at about 6 inch intervals.

Step 5: Flip the quilt over so the back is face up.  Start smoothing out the fabric from the centre outwards towards the edges.  No doubt you will find extra fabric on the back.  Starting from the centre carefully remove a pin, as necessary, smooth the backing fabric and replace pin from back through to front.  Do this across the whole of the back where required until the back is nice and smooth.

Step 6:  Flip the quilt back over to the front.  Check for wrinkles, adjust pins if necessary.  Once happy you are wrinkle free, you can replace all the pins so they are pinned from the front.  And then remove all the pins going in from the back.  Now do the pins up.  If you are exhausted after all that and not ready to quilt just yet, you can roll the quilt up to store it.

Next week I'll cover How to Quilt (straight line) and the week after, How to Bind a Quilt.

Part 2 will deal with How to Quilt.

Part 3 will deal with How to Bind the quilt.

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.

Baby Blocks Contemporary Quilt

We had some really cute nursery fabric come into the shop a few weeks ago.  So I just HAD to design up a simple quilt that would showcase the fabrics.  We made up one in a boy/unisex colourway and one in more girly colours.  Nicola from Sew Busy pieced them and I quilted them.  Love them both!

The Crafty Nomad Baby Blocks Quilt

This one is quilted with a large meander stipple.

The Crafty Nomad Baby Blocks Quilt

Plain grey sashing and binding really makes the fabrics pop.  And the quilting on the back, camera and light doing funny things to the colour of the backing.  It is actually the same grey as on the front!

The Crafty Nomad Baby Blocks Quilt

We inserted a strip of offcuts in the back to add interest.

The Crafty Nomad Baby Blocks Quilt
The Crafty Nomad Baby Blocks Quilt

Here is a little snippet of the girls version, will share full pictures of that one in a week or so.  Quilted this one with loopy hearts, cute!

The Crafty Nomad Baby Blocks Quilt

I wrote this one up as a patchwork pattern that is available to buy on-line here.  Hard copies are available to buy at the Sew Busy shop if you are local and prefer a hard copy.  We also made up a few kits which include all the fabric needed and these are available in the shop as well.

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!]