Category Archives: Miscellaneous

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.

Zippity-Do-Dah Sewing Skills Workshop – Zip Insertions

Another Saturday, another workshop! This week we explored zip insertions.

I was joined by Janice and Paula (who last week did battle with a “Toile”) as we settled down to 12 inch squares of fabric and a variety of 8 inch zips.

First to be tackled was a “Centre zip insertion” as used in dressmaking for centre back, or indeed for centre front of garments. Next was a “Lapped zip insertion” used for centre back or side closure in skirts and dressmaking. This method is also great for use on the back of cushion covers.

I then showed a decorative trim zip and demonstrated how to add a zip pull to a length of continuous zip.

After adjournment for a warming lunch at the “Ewe and I” cafe we discussed which types of zip insertions Janice and Paula would like to cover next. The “how to” of decorative trim zips and invisible/concealed zips are covered in the workbook but we proceeded to make a “Letterbox zip closure with Concealed Pocket” followed by my “signature” insertion, “ZIP & SLIP Pockets” both of which are particularly useful in bag-making.

Janice and Paula were both able and enthusiastic students finishing the class with completed samples. Armed with their comprehensive workbooks they can now go forward and complete a variety of precision zip insertions with confidence.

Beginners’ Sewing Accessories Workshop

After a meeting with Meg at New Threads Quilt Shop we have now agreed a programme of workshops to be run up to and including June 2017. The first is a Toile making class in January followed in February a class for absolute beginners, returners and improvers. In the class we will be making scissors cases and pin cushions. So…. I needed to make some samples.

Using a basic pattern from Threads magazine which then I adapted to make more appropriate for beginners, I used some lovely sewing themed fabric from Lewis & Irene called “Threaded with Love”. The scissors case is lightly quilted with fusible wadding and can be lined in the same or contrast fabric. The fastening can be a snap popper (I used my lovely new set of snaps and pliers!), velcro, button with buttonhole or loop, or popper. Depending on how you fold the case you end up with the 2 sections either small inside the large or small outside the large l. Personally I prefer the former which then leaves a large area for embellishment if required. I have made the large case in both permutations plus closures of snap poppers on one and button with elastic (hair bungee) on the other.

Long ago I hacked the pattern to make a small version of the scissors case which is just the right size for small embroidery scissors or snips. I made a co-ordinating case to accompany the larger cases.

Next, onto the pin cushion. As the scissors case is so basic, I decided that it would be a good idea to “stretch” the students a little and introduce them to one of my favourite patchwork blocks – 3D bow tie with faux cathedral window insert (what a mouthful – I need to come up with a shorter name for the block!).The block uses only small scraps of fabric and can be made uses some of the remnants from the scissors cases combined with a couple of other prints. I started out with basic 4 inch squares (subsequently made a second one with 3 inch squares) which made the “fiddling” of the 3D centrepiece a little easier to cope with. The resultant pin cushion is approximately 7 inches square – a good-sized piece of equipment that will not easily be lost or buried under sewing projects.

Lewis & Irene collection

From the left: Large case with small section outside & popper fastening, pincushion, small scissors case with popper, large case with small section Inside & button/loop fastening.

Having completed the samples for the workshop I then retrieved some Red Strawberry print fabric from my stash together with complimentary spot print and made a set to accompany my latest new Brother ® sewing machine.

My personal collection