Category Archives: Fabric – Cotton

Chaos Quilt

I have a great many scraps of cotton fabric which are the remnants from dressmaking, bag making and general crafty sewing. I also have a Big Shot die cutting machine with ‘Drunkards’ Path’ dies. Back at the beginning of the year I decided to put those scraps to good use and make a quilt. I vowed that I would not be buying ANY fabric, wadding or backing for the project.

Die cutting: I sorted through the scraps and wherever a piece was at least 5 inches square, I ironed it flat and put to one side ready for a mammoth die-cutting session.

Construction: I set all the pieces in two piles – one of the 1/4 circles and the other of the ‘arc’ shaped pieces. With no thought about co-ordination, these pieces were then stitched into pairs in a totally random fashion. All the stitching was completed by hand whilst I joined in at the Friday morning sewing group.

Once I had about 100 squares I started to put them together into blocks – 4 individual squares per block. I used two different layouts. 1) where the ¼ circles were placed to the centre to make a complete circle and 2) where two of the ¼ circles were flipped to the outer edge of the block to make what I call ‘a turtle’.

Block layouts – Circles and Turtles

I started to lay out the blocks and decided that I would like to have the quilt made up in 6 rows of 6 blocks with sashing in between. I needed to make another 44 squares to give me the total 36 blocks required.

Layout: The completed blocks were laid out on the bed and photographed. After some switching around I came up with the final plan. I labelled each block before cutting the sashing. Using some calico from my stash (usually used for toile making) I cut strips 1 ½ inches wide and started stitching the rows together. I then cut more sashing to make the crosswise sashing plus a border.

Next it was time to add the wadding and backing. Checking my stash of wadding I had only two pieces of polyester 2oz wadding which was stitched together with a 3-step zig-zag and produced just enough to back the quilt with a 1 inch border all around.

layering up

Backing – I knew that I did not have any cotton print that I was prepared to use for the quilt. A quick search through the spare bedding revealed a brand new King size flat sheet in Yellow – just right to back this quilt. I used 505 temporary spray adhesive and a few quilters safety pins to layer up the three fabrics – backing, wadding and top.

Quilting: I used the extension table fitted to my Brother 550SE machine, set up on the dining table. I ‘stitched in the ditch’ on each block before using one of the built in decorative stitches to run down and across all the sashing. The backing was trimmed back to 1 inch beyond the edge of the top, then folded and turned to the front of the quilt and top stitched in place complete with mitred corners.

Chaos quilt completed June 2022

Conclusion: I am pleased with the final result which is so very colourful and will be ideal for use in the conservatory. I think that this may well be my final large quilt project as there are only so many quilts that one can display. The grand piano already has a ‘wardrobe’ of quilts for each month plus some ‘specials’ for Christmas and Valentine’s Day! In future I will continue with quilting but it will probably be much smaller projects and maybe some clothing – I have a hankering for a patchwork quilted jacket!

Project #27 completed 27th June 2022

Sweetpea Pod Pouches & Pin Dog

At a recent sewing morning with friends I was asked to make a couple of these charming Sweetpea Pod pouches so that they could be gifted to a new sewing granddaughter of one of our members.

I recall that many years ago I made a dozen or so of the pouches as Christmas gifts, however I did not remember exactly how to make them. After a long search through the pattern files on my computer I gave up and ordered a new copy from a seller on etsy.com.

The pdf arrived and has now been safely stored on my patterns usb memory stick. I have also printed off and placed in my ‘quick projects’ folder!

It took about 40 minutes to make the two pouches and I still had a large piece of the fabric remaining. What to do? I made yet another pin dog! So in the space of 1½ hours I had completed the projects and hope that the recipient will enjoy using the sewing accessories as much as I did when making them.

Sweetpea Pouches & Pin Dog

Project #29 completed 27th May 2022

Aria Button-down Shirt by Love Notions

In an effort to try new patterns whilst taking notes as to how long each garment takes I decided to start with the Aria button-down shirt by Love Notions. There are several views and I made view 2 – the shirt but with the full collar.

Aria button down shirt & dress by Love Notions

The shirt is described thus: The Aria brings you three button down options in one pattern. Choose from the standard shirt length, tunic or above the knee dress. Three sleeve lengths are included as well: sleeveless, short with cuff and long sleeve. The long sleeve option features a beautiful placket with cuff. You will look and feel so accomplished with this sew. I made view 2 – the shirt but with the full collar.

For this ‘wearable muslin’ I chose some bold floral print cotton that I bought from Fabricland in February 2022. After checking the size chart I made a straight 2X full bust version. I made only 1 alteration – as the pattern is drafted for a taller person and I am only 5’4”, I reduced the length of the bodice (and button placket) by 1 inch.

Bold Floral print Cotton @ £4.99/metre from Fabricland, Bournemouth

The fabric was pre-washed and ironed – so setting the timer, off I went. I prepared the sewing machine with a new needle, wound a bobbin and threaded up with a Dark Turquoise/Jade thread. Along with the cutting out and applying interfacing to the collar and button plackets this took about 30 minutes.

I checked the stitch length, tension and seam allowance (1 cm) before starting by staystitching the neck edge of the bodice fronts and yokes. Although I followed the instructions, I did change the order of construction as I like to insert collars before sewing the side seams. I also completed the construction of the sleeves just before sewing the side seams of the bodice and stitching the hem. This meant that once the sleeves were inserted, all that remained was to make buttonholes and apply the buttons. I used French seams for the side seams and the underarm sleeve seam to prolong the age of the garment and provide a lovely neat finish inside.

Although I have hundreds of buttons, I could not find quite the right colour match in the size that I wanted to use. Instead I opted for these lovely mother of pearl buttons that I bought in bulk from eBay. I made a horizontal buttonhole in the collar and vertical buttonholes in the placket. There are 8 buttons but as I did not open the top 3 buttonholes, only the lower 5 are functional.

Aria Button Down Shirt by Love Notions

Conclusion: Overall I am pleased with the end result but there are a few changes to be made for the next iteration. I think that the shoulders need to be reduced in width by about ½ inch. I need to lengthen the centre front of the bodice (and button plackets) by at least 1 inch and grade to 0 at the side seams. I do not love the deep pleat in back so will reduce the width of the back bodice and convert the fullness into gathers.

Total time to make the blouse came to 3½ hours which is exactly what I had calculated it would be. I don’t think that I will ever make up this pattern as a dress, I need much more shaping in my dresses but I can foresee that there will be another button down shirt – probably with the ‘Grandad’ collar and maybe the breast pocket.

Project #28 completed 23rd May 2022.

Cat Embroidery

I have a great friend who loves her cat. As a small gift for use in her cloakroom I embroidered some cotton waffle fabric (recycled from a dressing gown) with a detailed design purchased from emblibrary.com. I bound the edges of the hand towel with some coordinating-coloured cotton fabric from my stash of fat quarters. I combined the hand towel with some Lavender scented room spray.

A charming gift that was very much appreciated.

Cat embroidered waffle cotton hand towel

Project #26 completed 27th April 2022

Cats Gardening Blouse

Having previously stated that I need to try some different/new patterns for blouses, I reverted to my TNT pattern for this novelty printed fabric – Cats gardening STELLA-DCJ1882 NAVY Clara in 100% cotton.

This print does not fit into my Golden Daffodils and Spring Greens theme but what the heck, those plans are not set into concrete!

I purchased 2 metres on the final afternoon when attending the Sewcial Retreat at Shepperton earlier in March. At a cost of £30 I did not want to ‘waste’ this pretty fabric on a new and untested pattern. However, I did draft a different short sleeve. Basically it is the puffed sleeve head with faced hem style that I have drafted for several other patterns.

I cut the bodice as per my usual pattern but when constructing I did find that the under arm was a little too high and the width around the middle and hips was too wide. The latter is easily rectified with some fish eye darts in the front bodice but I will have to re-think the shaping of the armscye and sleeve patterns for another time.

Once again I have stitched both my maker’s label and the fabric pattern design information selvedge onto the back neckline facing.

Simple Yellow spotted buttons from my stash complete the blouse.

TNT Short sleeved ‘Cats Gardening’ Blouse

I am very pleased with the blouse and plan to wear it with my dungarees when pottering in the garden!

Project #20 completed 31st March 2022

Newlyn Blouse #4

In keeping with the colour scheme that would use the terracotta thread packed for my Sewcial Retreat, I cut out yet another Newlyn Blouse with short puff sleeves from this beautiful cotton lawn that I purchased from Minerva.

I was not able to complete the blouse construction whilst at the Sewcial Retreat but as soon as possible on my return I was back in the Sewing Room beavering away to get this done.

This time using the ‘Newlyn’ pattern I cut my favourite short puffed-sleeve-head sleeves. As the fabric is a cotton lawn I knew that it would have a slightly different look as a finished garment to those made with viscose.

As I did not want toadd bulk by making French seams, all seams were overlocked. I added the back darts and slightly wider ties. Now that Ihave lost a little weight (puppy fat around my middle!) I was able to add some body darts to the front bodice which also helps to improve the silhouette.

The sleeve hem facing was hand stitched in place to avoid it flopping down. Hem on the facing and Shirt tail shaped hem on the bodice were overlocked and then turned and top stitched.

Five faux bone 4-hole buttons from my stash (I originally bought over 100 of these buttons from Abakhan, Mostyn, North Wales) and buttonholes down the front worked on my Brother 4000D machine.

Conclusion: A lovely straightforward sew. I love this pattern. Another time I may incorporate a shortened version into a dress with a 4-gore circular skirt. So watch this space.

Project #17 completed 17th March 2022

Sorrento Jacket #2

Having already made a toile using ‘landfill’ fabric I was now ready to make another Sorrento jacket and this time it would be lined. Alterations to the pattern based on findings of the toile version: reduce length of the bodice by 1 inch. Reduce length of sleeves by 1½ inches.

Taking a note of Sian of Kittenish Behaviour’s vlog where she made her Sorrento jacket 2 sizes smaller than the measurements chart suggest, I have downsized from the original 22. I cut as size 20 at shoulders grading back to a 22 at the waistline. I shall wait and see how this works out before I ‘gung ho!’ and downsize to an 18/20 with a new length of floral printed suiting.

Also following Sian’s vlog I drafted a pattern for the lining by combining the various panels, overlapping at the seams to remove the seam allowances of 1 cm. For the main part this was fairly straightforward although I did find some difficulty with the shaping that is included in the panels.

I cut out the jacket from just 1.5 metres of Gold/Mustard stretch denim that I bought from Hot Pink Habberdashery. The lining was cut from this fabulous cotton lawn print purchased some time ago from Minerva.

In anticipation of the Sewcial Retreat organised by Purple Stitches, I prepared as much of the straight sewing of the various panels, pockets, pocket flaps,waistband tabs and the lining as possible including the continuous lap placket in the sleeves.

I wound several bobbins in the Terracotta thread and ensured that I had sufficient top stitching thread for all that was going to be required.

As I have made the jacket before I familiar with the various processes and continued with the construction with confidence. This pattern has been excellently drafted. All the notches match up and it is a joy to sew.

Rather than use metal ‘jeans’ buttons, this time I decided to use some ‘Bone’ coloured buttons from my stash. Also where appropriate, I used the keyhole buttonhole style e.g. the pocket flaps, the waistband tabs and cuffs of the sleeves. On checking the illustrations I noted that the buttonholes on the front bodice should be horizontal but due to the width of the front bands and as I don’t intend to do up the jacket, I worked the buttonholes vertically.

I estimate that the construction of this jacket takes me about 12 hours of concentrated sewing. Although at times I became a little overwhelmed with the project, vowing that I will not make another, by the end of the afternoon I had a completed Sorrento jacket of which I am very proud.

Project #16 completed 12th March 2022

p.s. I have now ordered some fantastic bold printed suiting to make a version for the Winter!

Libby Blouse #7

Using 2 metres of a beautiful Lewis & Irene cotton print purchased last year from Franklins I embarked on yet another version of the Libby blouse by Sew Over It.

The fabric is ‘Under the Oak Tree’ and was originally intended as a blouse/shirt to be worn in the Autumn.

Time has moved but as I was looking for fabrics in this colour palette to use when attending the Sewcial Retreat organised by Viv of Purple Stitches, this fitted the bill.

I cut the pattern as per the adjustments made previously that include adding to the side seams, extending the cap of the grown-on sleeves and adding 4 inches to the length of the shaped hemline of version 2.

The Lewis & Irene quilting cotton fabric stitched like a dream as it is such a stable weave, but once again, I approached the sewing of the collar with its partial collar stand with some trepidation. It took some time to get it just right but I am pleased with the end result.

To ensure that I never forget exactly which print I have used, I cut the information printed on the selvedge and stitched this, together with my makers label, to the inside of the back yoke facing.

My JUKI overlocker is back from its service and replacement of blades so I was able to use this to finish the seam allowances. The hem was first neatened with the overlocker before being turned twice and top-stitched in place.

Five coconut shell buttons for closure at the front and this Autumnal print blouse is complete.

Project #15 completed 11th March 2022

A Trio of Jubilee Union Jack Cushions

Lizzie, our illustrious chairman at Sprat & Winkle proposed that we have a project to celebrate and reflect the Queen’s 70th Jubilee. She suggested a cushion featuring our country’s flag – the Union Jack and that it be made using Foundation Paper Piecing.

Now this is a construction method that I have tried just once before and vowed never to repeat but after seeing a few versions of the cushion made up and having a copy of the detailed instructions, decided to ‘go for it!’

I used fabric purchased from the Sale rack at New Threads Quilt Shop and set aside an afternoon to make a cushion cover. The first rectangle took quite a long time and I did not particular enjoy the process. The second rectangle construction was quicker and by the third and final rectangle, I was loving the process!

I added a 2 inch border to the panel and some pre-made Red satin piping before completing the back in plain White fabric with a zip closure. I used a 50cms x 30cms feather-filled cushion pad and was absolutely delighted with the final project.

The following day I had another free afternoon so decided to make a second cushion cover, this time to send to my sister who currently lives in North Wales. I used the same fabrics but this time the backing is in the Red print fabric. I also used a new method to add a ‘flange’ to the perimeter of the cushion cover and was delighted with the ‘new to me’ method of finishing.

Now, for the third version I used different fabrics. I had found a small leopard print cotton poplin on eBay, available in Red and Blue colourways. Perfect. I repeated the method of binding the cover with a flange as this is my new ‘go to’ finish for cushion covers . When I took the cushion to the next meeting of Sprat & Winkle Quilters, this version of the Union Jack cover was the most popular.

Now on the hunt for other complimentary prints to use as I am ‘hooked’ on FPP! I have found some ‘Oriental’ theme prints and wonder how will they convert to this iconic British design?

Project #12 Completed 3rd March 2022

Alphabet Blouse

Hot on the heels of the recently purchased dungarees, I wanted to make a blouse that would assist in channeling my ‘Childrens TV presenter’ vibe.

I found this jolly quilting cotton (ABC Menagerie Abi Hall for moda) on ‘SALE’ at New Threads Quilt Shop, Weyhill Fairground, my local bricks and mortar fabric store. I purchased 2 metres at £6/metre intending to make the Gilbert by Helen’s Closet patterns…… I changed my mind – as I would not be able to purchase more of this print and just in case it did not work out, decided to make my TNT blouse with short sleeves instead. However, when I laid out the pattern pieces I was delighted to find that there was sufficient to make a long-sleeved blouse with shirt-tail hem so this would be a very versatile garment to be worn throughout the year.

I expanded the width of the sleeves to make them extra ‘pouffy’ and added the recently drafted deep double button cuff.

I don’t like to make French seams on quilting cottons as that is more substantial and makes those French seams a little too bulky. Now that the recently serviced Juki overlocker is back in the sewing room, all seams were overlocked for neatness.

Construction was straightforward as I have made this blouse ‘millions’ of times before! When it came to choosing buttons, I could not make up my mind between some pretty plain Yellow or plain Green. Then a ‘light bulb moment’ I selected some Green buttons with spots or stripes that I had bought in bulk from eBay sometime ago and have been lurking in my stash.

Whilst I am pleased with the completed blouse, in hindsight I think that the ‘pouffy’ sleeves are a little too much. This quilting cotton has a firm structure so is not as drapey as my usual viscose.

I will continue to wear the blouse but it may coordinate better with my Green Drill ‘Jane’ pinafore dress, details posted 9th January 2022.

Project #12B Completed 3rd March 2022