Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Barbara Bunny Kit

Later this year I will be teaching a class making up this charming Rabbit who I have named ‘Barbara Bunny’. The project comes in the form of a kit which includes everything that you need to make Barbara – with the exception of time!

I started with enthusiasm that this was going to be a fairly simple make but unfortunately there was a hold up as I tried to stitch the centre panel to the Bunny’s head on the machine. It took quite a bit of ‘finessing’ and also involved some hand (!) sewing to get the Y-seam of the nose just right. Setting in the soles of the feet was also done by hand as it was just too fiddly to try on the machine. After that it was plain sailing, probably because over the past 50 plus years of sewing I have made many, many soft toys. However, this was the first time that I have made a button-jointed animal and despite not having a really long needle, I managed to stitch the joints firmly whilst still retaining movement.

For this first ‘trial run’ I have not used the fabric that came with the kit, I shall save that for the class. The project can be sewn (mostly) on the machine when it took approximately 2 hours to complete. Alternatively, as this is a small project (completed Bunny is about 8 ins tall) it would also make an ideal hand-sewing project.


Daisy the Dachshund Pin Cushion

Today several of the classes that I will be tutoring at New Threads Quilt Shop went live on their website:

We are trying something new – short classes of 2½ hours which are graded according to skill level. There are classes for Beginners, Improvers, Intermediate and Advanced stitchers. The first classes will run on SEW SATURDAY which this year is Saturday 21st October. The morning will be for absolute beginners getting to know the basics of a sewing machine. In the afternoon for more experienced stitchers we will be making Daisy the Dachshund pincushion which is the mascot for this year’s event.

I made my first Daisy several years ago using some fine Pink needlecord. She has done great service but is now looking a little worse for wear. In anticipation of the class next month I made a new version using a charming printed cotton featuring Water Melons on a Bright Green background.

The old and the new Daisy Dachshund

The pin cushion takes about half of a Fat Quarter of fabric and less than an hour to stitch. This is a relatively straightforward sew although there are 4 Y-seams to conquer when setting in the head gusset and the ‘undercarriage’ sections. The remainder of my time was taken up filling Daisy with polyester toy stuffing and embroidering the features.

I have enjoyed making Daisy and envisage that she will make a charming gift for my sewing friends.

Half Dresden Peg Bag

I did say that I was hooked on this new (to me) patchwork block. Today I played around with some scraps and made a new peg bag. This project is also being promoted as a half-day class at New Threads Quilt Shop but before it is listed on the internet I need to make a ‘master’ version of the bag.

I have learned quite a few tricks by making this one and I look forward to using it. I guess that once I have ‘finessed’ the design it will be a useful project to give as Christmas presents (oops there’s that C word again!).

Sewing Plans for September 2017

It is not unusual for me to set goals which for one reason or another are not achieved. In August, although things started well, unfortunately I lost my ‘sewing mojo’ when my cat of 14 years became seriously ill. However I did complete 8 projects which is not bad and I hope to be able to ‘catch up’ with some of the projects this month.

In addition to selfish sewing I have been asked to run some more sewing classes and workshops for the end of this year and early Spring 2018 so will need to spend some time making samples and preparing the worksheets.

I still have the jersey top to make for a friend and the Cobra and Corsage printed cotton lawn to make up. I have changed my mind about the project for the sewing print linen-look cotton and will now use this to recover the chair in my sewing room.

Therefore on my new ‘to do’ list are:-

1.Sewing print linen-look seat covering

2.Pink floral print jersey ‘Elmira’ ballet wrap cardigan

3.Dark print viscose jersey for Kwiksew 3915 for a friend

4.Cobra and corsage cotton lawn dress

5.Lewis & Irene dark background printed cotton ‘Mandy’ or ‘Kitty’ dress

6.Samples for sewing workshops.

All this should keep me busy!



A Fun Day out at Festival of Quilts

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 8am a group of forty-plus ladies gathered together in a car park on the outskirts of Andover, all excited at the prospect of visiting the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham.

I have visited the NEC many times before but never before visited the FOQ so this would be a first for me. I had a list, my packed lunch, spare shoes and a camera plus of course, cash and credit cards!

The journey was completed in good time and we were dropped off at the door of the main entrance. A short walk and we arrived at the three exhibition halls for the event.

Between our ‘sub-group’ of 5, we agreed to meet again at 1am for lunch and to discuss progress (and purchases!). I teamed up with Lizzie who is also a ‘newbie’ for FOQ. Where to start? We decided to approach the halls in a systematic manner by following a route up and down the various aisles of traders – to be followed by a tour of all the fabulous quilts.

Well, what can I say? Next year we will be visiting for TWO days. One is simply not enough. The plan should be to spend on day 1, and view on day 2 – it really is not possible to see everything in one day.

Lizzie had a pattern for a ‘poncho’ style cape and was looking for some wool tweed or boiled wool to make up the pattern.

Lizzie’s poncho pattern – is something like this

First port of call was the Rosenberg stall. We were reminded that washing boiled wool is a ‘no-no’ as it will shrink! Better to find some tweed – which will still have to be dry-cleaned but my not show quite so grubby quite so quickly. On the same aisle we came across the ‘Sew me Something’ stand where, would you believe it, Lizzie’s pattern was displayed. After an animated discussion with the ladies on the stand Lizzie and I ‘invested’ in some dressmaking patterns. Lizzie bought the Helena dress pattern and I bought the Bianca coat and Helena dress patterns.


Our Bianca Coat is deceptively simple to make yet stylish and works in both heavy woven and knit fabrics.


Helena is a relaxed easy to wear dress. The front curved yoke anchors the pintuck detail at the centre front, but this could easily be changed to pleats or gathers. The back yoke also lends itself to adaptations with the  gathers changed to pleats as well. The elbow length sleeves in view 1 can be extended into the 3/4 length sleeves in view 2. And the simple button and placket hold the turned up sleeves in place. Side pockets are a must and keep the lines of the dress clean and simple.

Now we were ‘armed and dangerous’ in our search for appropriate fabrics.

After a thorough investigation of all the traders’ stands we ended up with everything that we required, with the exception of a Pineapple Log Cabin ruler that Lizzie was seeking – she will however be able to order this online – probably on Sunday!

I purchased some fabulous wool mix fabric for my Bianca coat from Rosenberg’s.

Wool blend fabric for my Bianca coat

Both Lizzie and I bought some pretty floral print chambray for our Helena dresses.

Floral printed chambray for Helena dresses

I bought a pack of lovely Calico from Lady Sew & Sew and Lizzie acquired some great Grey Pure Wool Tweed for her poncho which will be lined with some terrific Tula Pink cat print cotton.

Tula Pink fabric for lining – I must have some of this!

During our 2 plus miles walk around the halls we viewed many quilts (and patchwork chairs!), checked out sewing room chairs, sewing machines and overlockers, met several famous names from the Patchwork & Quilting world and had a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring time. We dropped in on Janet at Quilters’ Dream and Meg’s stand of New Threads was really buzzing!

In addition to this first visit to FOQ, I also made my first ever visit to Wetherspoons where we enjoyed our lunch!

By 5pm all the ladies were gathered outside in the sunshine as we waited to be collected by our coach and driver. The return home was accomplished in just over two hours and I noticed that although there was a lot of chatter, it was all more subdued as we returned home, tired and happy. A grand day out!

Jazz, the Inspector Cat checks out the chambray on the washing line!

p.s. As I type this post, my chambray fabric is already washed and on the line to dry. I hope to cut out the Helena dress later today – or maybe early next week.

Sewing Plans for August 2017

I have already started on the planned makes for August. The first thing on the list is a tunic/shirt using some fabric that was given to me as a birthday gift from my friends at the Friday morning patchwork and quilting house group. The fabric is an unusual bird print on a Sage Green background.

There was a generous 2 metres of fabric which was sufficient to cut out a long version of my latest designed KITTY tunic shirt.

I have given up on my resolution to NOT buy fabric in July and have succumbed to a few purchases.

The first was a metre of Sewing Themed fabric 80% Cotton and 20% Polyester.  140 cms wide at a price of £10.99 from eBay.

I plan to make an apron which I will wear when sewing and hopefully keep all those bits of fluff from sticking to my clothes!

Secondly I was inspired by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour’s June Look Book where she has made a capsule collection centred on a dress in the most amazing printed cotton lawn. I simply had to have it!


This particular fabric is not cheap but I did buy 3 metres from Sherwoods Fabrics. The fabric arrived very quickly, beautifully wrapped and with a bonus pack of sweets! I have ordered some plain Black cotton lawn as the printed fabric is very lightweight and almost transparent so the dress will need to be lined.

Whilst ordering the Black cotton lawn I also added some polyester crepe de chine to my basket. Two metres of each in Baby Pink and Black which I will use to make some underwear.

Browsing the rest of the fabrics on offer at Sherwoods I bought some pretty Pink floral print jersey at £4.99 per metre which I plan to make into a wrap cardigan.

So, in addition to making up the fabrics that I have ordered, also on my ‘to do’ list are:-

Navy & white stripe ponte for a short sleeve shift dress

Multi-colour viscose jersey for a Moneta dress

Dark print viscose jersey for Kwiksew 3915 for a friend.

I will certainly be busy in August!

Getting Ahead with a Sun Hat by Lorenna Buck

At a recent meeting of Sprat & Winkle Quilters one of the members did a ‘Show and Tell’ of a sun hat that she had made to take on a school outing. That evening Izzy sent me a link to obtain the free pattern for this LORENNA BUCK Sun hat which I have made up in Navy linen-look with a Navy pin spot lining.

The Navy linen-look came from Franklins of Salisbury and the spot lining was a remnant in my stash.

This is a very simple make and is designed to fit a 22 inch circumference head comfortably. On me it is a little too generous so if I make it again I will adjust the seam allowances slightly in order to reduce the size. I will also make the brim a little shallower. However, for the present this hat is ideal for working (lazing in a sun lounger!) in the garden.

In respect of construction the only change I made was to use two layers of heavyweight fusible Vilene® rather than pellon craft 808 for the brim. I also stitched a continuous spiral of top-stitching around the brim for approximately 2½ inches instead of the single row suggested in the instructions.

Having modelled the hat for my husband he prefers what was intended to be the lining.

As all the seams are top-stitched in co-ordinating thread there is very little to show which is the right way out and therefore the sun hat is now reversible. Two hats for the price of one!

Eureka moment for sleeves and armholes!

How I wish that the vlog by Silhouette Patterns entitled “Sewing Tutorial – Armholes and Sleeves” had been available to watch earlier in my sewing career.

The vlog was released a few hours ago on Tuesday morning.  This episode covers the relationship between armholes and sleeves and helps to clarify how to make everything fit just for you. Just 10 minutes of inspiration that I hope and believe will revolutionise my approach to armscyes and sleeves for the future.

Whilst I regularly ‘hack’ my dressmaking patterns by changing necklines, fastenings, skirt styles, sleeve lengths, finishes and collars, I have never considered transferring armscyes and sleeves from one pattern to another. If you have ever encountered problems in this area of your dressmaking I urge you to watch the clip.

I intend to audition all my recent dressmaking to identify and copy the perfect armscyes and sleeves for the four main styles:- sleeveless, knit tops, woven tops and jackets. I will let you know how I get on as I have a full programme of dressmaking planned for June that will include knits, wovens, dresses, tops and jackets. Happy stitching!

Blue Ditsy Print Cotton Jersey Nightdress

1986 Vintage pattern

A neighbour’s parents are currently downsizing and in the ‘clear out’ I have been the grateful recipient of several lengths of fabric. In return I have made a bespoke nightdress. There were several stipulations e.g. must be cotton jersey, must have long sleeves, be be full length – 58 inches and not Pink in colour. After a browse on the internet I also visited Salisbury and the local branch of Fabricland where I was fortunate to find some great cotton jersey with a ditsy floral print in Blue. I bought 3.5 metres at a cost of £3.59/metre.

Searching through my patterns I found the one I was looking for which is McCalls 2827, a vintage pattern from 1986. I checked dimensions and cut out the nightdress. Although the pattern was originally drafted for a woven fabric I thought it would work in a jersey.

Making the tucks on the two front bodice pieces was slightly problematical but I managed at least one good set, the first set being a little ‘haphazard’!

Most of the stitching was done on the 4-thread overlocker. I drafted the long sleeves and cuffs which are circles with no fastening, made from double thickness of fabric. The neck binding was cut on the bias as a double fold. In the final check, I decided that the front placket was too thick to make buttonholes so the buttons are purely for decoration. The scoop neckline provides sufficient space for the nightdress to be ‘pullover’ style. The hem is overlocked and finished with twin-needle stitching.

Apart from a couple of small inconsistencies in the tucks I am very pleased with the result. I will be looking for some more cotton jersey to make a second nightdress. Next time I will use the Merchant & Mills pattern Dress shirt pattern that I have previously used to make a nightdress for me which I am confident will be easy to ‘hack’ to make a long-sleeved, full length version.

 Merchant & Mills Dress Shirt Design

Beginners Sewing Workshop

Saturday morning dawned and I was stationed at New Threads Quilt shop ready to meet and greet 3 students for the Beginners’ Workshop. The plan was to make a padded Scissors case that has 2 pockets together with a patchwork pin cushion in complimentary fabrics. Maria, Tina and Krystel arrived carrying their machines and fabrics, plus I think a little trepidation about what the day would bring. I hope that by the end of the day they had gained a lot more confidence in sewing and using their machines.

We started with an introduction so that I would have a ‘handle’ on just how much experience of sewing they each had and from then on we settled down to make the projects.

The padded scissors case is a hack from an original design that featured in Threads magazine many, many years ago. It is a fairly simple project that provides the opportunity to work with fusible wadding, ‘bagging out’ and lots of straight machine stitching. There are a variety of ways that the case closure can be finished – buttons, poppers, velcro. My three students elected to have plastic popper snaps which I applied using the special pliers that accompany the kit.

A short break for lunch and then we tackled a more ‘interesting’ project – the pin cushion which features a patchwork block called 3D bow tie/faux cathedral window. In hindsight this may have been a step too far for a first workshop but ‘the girls’ were game and having made the first block, were determined to ‘crack’ the fabric origami and so made a second block. By the end of the afternoon they had each completed the pincushion complete with polyester toy stuffing and hand (there’s that 4-letter word!) stitched closure.

It was lovely to meet 3 such enthusiastic ladies and I hope that they will enrol for other workshops in the future.