Courthouse Steps Pin Cushion Kits

I designed these pin cushion kits to go with my demonstration at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show.

Pin Cushion Kit
Courthouse Steps Pin Cushion

They have sold like little hot cakes, so I have been making up another batch to put in the shop.

Pin Cushion Kits
Available in different colours

Each kit contains everything you need to make the pin cushion, apart from thread and stuffing.

Packed, ready to go
Packed, ready to go

They are priced at £4.25 each, and available from the Quilty Pleasures website now.
I am also selling them wholesale, with a minimum order of just ten, so if you would like some for your shop or quilt group, then get in touch.

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1970s Hexagon Patchwork

Lots on one to one tutoring has been going on this autumn at Studio QP.  I think I have mentioned on here before how much I like this side of my work.  After getting the email or call to book the session, I usually have an inkling what is coming out of the bag, but it is sometimes a complete surprise.  One of the things I love about working like this is that I get to hear stories behind the the reason the quilt is being made.  However, with this session I only got the latest instalment of why the quilt was being made, as it was bought in a charity shop and so its first maker is unknown.

It is no secret how much hand sewn quilts get me all a flutter, so this box of treats meant I almost needed a paper bag to breathe into!  Jess, who booked the session, had bought the patchwork in a charity shop in Hove.  There was a lot of unfinished patchwork in these boxes, and she wanted a way to finish at least one of them into something usable.  We looked at the contents of the box, and decided this was the best one to finish…

1970s Hexagon Quilt
1970s Hexagon Quilt

It has lots of lovely pattern and prints, but the whole top is currently rhomboid as pieces have randomly been joined together.  There were lots of tacked hexagons in the box, so we sorted and laid them out to work out how Jess could make the quilt top square.  The prints are amazing – an assortment of clothes and household textiles.  We loved the way it had been constructed, just pieces joined together, individual hexagons, circular rosettes, and random shapes.  There were papers still in most of the patchwork, a very thin paper, most of them from pools coupons and football results.  We spotted a year, 1977, on one of the pieces of paper.

1970s Hexagon Patchwork - Close Up
1970s Hexagon Patchwork – Close Up

The back is just as beautiful as the front, showing the blocks of colour.

1970s Hexagon Patchwork - Reverse
1970s Hexagon Patchwork – Reverse

The second large piece was darker, and had lots of dress cottons.  It didn’t lay flat, due to odd pieces of fabric in non geometric shapes being pieced in.  The fabrics are wonderful though.

1970s Hexagon Patchwork Top
1970s Hexagon Patchwork Top

There was a piece cut out of one side, for another project.  As this piece of patchwork will not lay flat, Jess is planning to do this with the rest of it – to cut into it to make pieces to cover a footstool or something similar.

Patchwork with cut out
Patchwork with cut out

There were also these experimental pieces (I did say this box was FULL of treats!).

P1010907

It was a pleasure to work on this project, and Jess is going to come back when it gets to the quilting stage.  I can’t wait to see the quilt develop, and am so pleased that it did not get thrown away, and was bought by someone who is going to work on it to make something to be used in the home.

 

Interview with Fiona from Sewgirl

I am very lucky to be surrounded by creative inspiring people, and being of the nosy persuasion, I have asked a few of them if I can interview them here on my blog.

My first victim interviewee is Fiona Hesford who runs Sewgirl from her studio in Worthing. Sewgirl is another business similar to QP with different elements all coming under the textiles umbrella. At the moment Fiona teaches workshops from her home studio and at Clothkits in Chichester, the Fluff-a-torium in Dorking and My Crafty Soul in Cobham. She also designs and sells sewing kits through her website and via Not on the High Street, and prints fabric panels. Her work has featured in a book published by Lark, and her projects feature regularly in magazines such as Love Sewing and Simply Homemade.

Fiona's studio - outside view
Fiona’s studio – outside view

I first met Fiona in early 2010 at a business workshop aimed at women start-ups run by Business Link and we have stayed in touch. I love the style of her work, and she is rather cool… so on with the Q&A… 

So to start, a question students always ask me…what’s your sewing CV?

Well, since about the age of 10 I have always had sewing projects on the go, and I come from a sewing family – my grandmother was a tailoress and made us girls the same dress in different fabrics with matching headbands. I studied Fashion Textiles at Brighton (back in the Polytechnic days!), and worked as a knitwear designer. Those were exciting times, and I worked in Paris, Italy and Hong Kong.

After I had my children (now 16) I started getting more into home wares, and as I had twins I often made the same thing but with different motifs. This really got me into personalizing things. I carried on selling knitwear designs through an agent, but I fell in love with fabric and eventually packed my knitting machine away. I did however use the old knit samples to make toys.

Here is one of these toys. Fiona gave me a knitted lucky cat when I opened and I keep it in the studio, a little bit superstitious about it leaving similar to the ravens and the Tower of London!

The lucky studio cat
The lucky studio cat

What is the Sewgirl story?

The business was born at same time as the doll kit, late 2009/early 2010. Sewgirl was originally my first product, the screen-printed doll kits, but the name stuck. Naturally the doll kit fell by the wayside as I moved into other areas such as clothing and home textiles.

How has printing become part of your business?

I initially got into printing through my husband who is an artist and screen printer. We discussed ideas and tried some of them out, starting with the doll. The Little London kit was a big success and has evolved onto the patchwork squares I am working on at the moment.

We also screen print details onto the kits. I feel this makes the kits especially unique. 

Screen print samples hanging up in studio
Screen print samples hanging up in studio

Tell me more about your work with NOTH?

I have been on there about 2 ½ years. I first applied and was given feedback that my images needed to be improved. They followed this up a year later, and as I had taken their advice and had better images my work was accepted. It is really good being on there but you need to keep creating new ideas so your work is still fresh and current. Personalised work has been selling well, and sits comfortably alongside other things I do. Christmas is always extremely busy with orders, but I manage to keep on top of things.

Your work has a certain style to it – where do you get your inspiration from?

It is great having a husband who is an artist as there is always stuff lying around the house to look at.
I am inspired by vintage magazines, books and textiles, but feel good design needs an element of you in it – something different. Often my eye catches hold of something – usually unexpected. This can come out of the blue – I might mull over an idea and if it sticks for a month then I know it is something to follow.

Collaborations are also good – it takes you to new directions and allows you to grow.

What is your typical working day?

I have a cup of tea in bed, and then check emails and process orders. In the morning I try to get the studio straight as hate working in a mess. Some days I’m kit making, others writing patterns for magazines, prepping for workshops or designing for screens. I try to organize it so certain days are for specific jobs, but that usually goes by wayside if for example an order comes in for personalized bunting.

How do you prefer to work, sketchbook or computer?

Always sketchbook – I have many on the go! I write endless lists.

Sewgirl Studio
Sewgirl Studio

 I have had a peek at your sewing space (and sharing some photos here), and it is rather lovely… tell me about it.

I used run Sewgirl from a front bedroom, designing and teaching from there.

Just over a year ago I had a studio built in our garden and it feels like I have always had it – I couldn’t imagine workshops in my house any more. It is lovely to look in the garden while working and listening to 6Music (which is a big part of my working day).

One downfall of working at home is it can be difficult to separate the two, but it is slightly easier now I have a studio to go to, and the advantages of being based at home outweigh the disadvantages. I try to keep my studio looking current, for example I have a washing line that has inspirational sources or samples for a workshop about to happen.

What do you do when you are not working?

I read a lot and really like biographies. Sewing of course – I make my own clothes and am strict at setting aside specific time for making for myself not work.

What are your plans for the autumn?

Ooh, this will come round quickly!

I am working on a range of patterns featuring coordinated outfits and accessories. There will be more screen-printing – a new “folk” range is coming soon and later in the year a Christmas range of Scandie inspired motifs

I also want to do lots more writing and designing for magazines

What are your sewing essentials?

I love masking tape – I like it as I can write on it and stick it on things to label them, whether it be fabric or paper.  I am also in love with this honeycomb fabric I get in Fabricland. It is plastic fabric so doesn’t fray, and I use it for pattern making, particularly trying out paper patterns in 3D.

Sewgirl Studio
Sewgirl Studio

What are your career highs so far?

It is always good to see your name in print in magazines and books. Doing Pulse (a trade show) and Made (a curated craft fair) were quite pivotal things for me. Also getting the Little London kit into the shop at the Museum of London was quite an achievement.

Name three words that sum up Sewgirl?

Retro, Eclectic and Bold.
 

To find out more about Fiona visit the Sewgirl website.

 

Sewgirl Quilt

When Fiona at Sewgirl asked if I would like to play around with some of her screen printed squares I jumped at the chance!  She quickly dispatched 3 sets…  

Exciting Post!
Exciting Post!

Here they are…nicely presented.

Panels just asking to be sewn!
Panels just asking to be sewn!

I decided to keep the fabrics toned down, not easy for a print addict like me, but I thought it was a way of respecting the screen printed squares.  I only used the pink and the blue packs, and matched plains to the prints.   I had in stock a pink bella solid that was perfect, and got a blue kona cotton from Brighton Sewing Centre.  For the third fabric I was umming and ahhing, and in the end went with a black and white Sketch from Timeless Treasures.  This is such a good blender!

I decided to sew an off centre log cabin.  The squares are the stars of the show so I just wanted to frame them, but I still wanted to make it quirky, so played around with scale and colour placement.  

Here is the top finished…

Finished Quilt Top
Finished Quilt Top

I then decided to hand quilt, with the trusty perle 8.  I used a pale grey, which shows on the solids, but blends into the background on the sketch.  

IMG_3056
Quilting

  

I decided to bind the quilt using the single fold lapped method and used a different colour for the sides and bottom.  

Cheeky Binding!
Cheeky Binding!

The combination of hand quilting and single fold binding has made the quilt feel really soft and light. It is interesting how different the method of quilting and binding can make a quilt feel.

…and here is the top finished and hanging in the studio.

IMG_3344 

If you like the look of the panels, Fiona sells them online here, and has some free patterns available to use them to make bunting, cushions, lavender bags and pockets.
I got the opportunity to interview Fiona earlier this year, so if you want to find out more about Sewgirl pop back to the blog later on this week…

 

Prairie Strip Quilt Tutorial

Happy Monday to you!  As mentioned in my post on Friday, today I am sharing a free pattern for a quick and easy strippy quilt made from Dashwood Studios Prairie range .  It measures 39in (just under 1 metre square), however if you wish to make a larger quilt you could add a border or repeat the steps below to make more units.

Prairie strip quilt
Prairie strip quilt

You will need..
Fabric for front
Prairie Pink 6in x wof, (buy 20cm)
Prairie Blue 12in x wof, (buy 35cm)
Prairie Yellow 10in x wof, (buy 30cm)
Prairie Grey 14in x 44in wof, (buy 40cm)
Prairie Ditsy Flower 7in x 44in wof, (buy 20cm)

To finish the quilt
Backing Fabric 110 x 110cm
Wadding 110cm x 110cm
Binding 35cm x wof (based on cutting binding strips 2 1/2in wide.  If you make narrower binding or single fold binding you will need less).

Plus you will also need the usual quilt making haberdashery supplies, rotary cutting set, thread for piecing and quilting, scissors, iron…

Notes
WOF is width of fabric, and refers to the standard width of Dashwood fabrics, 44in.

A quarter inch seam allowance is essential, as when 5 strips are sewn together the width must be 10 1/4in otherwise the pattern will not work.

Instructions
1. Using a rotary cutting set, cut the fabric in the following way:
Pink: Cut into four strips 1 1/2in x wof
Blue: Cut into four strips 3in x wof
Yellow: Cut into four strips 2 1/2in x wof
Grey: Cut into four strips 3 ½in x wof
Ditsy: Cut into four strips 1 ¾ in x wof

Prairie Cut Strips
1. Prairie Cut Strips

2. Make a pile of fabric containing one strip of each colour.  Take a pink and a blue strip and sew down the length to make a long seam using 1/4in seam allowance.  Sew the fabrics together in the following order pink, blue, yellow, grey, ditsy flower.  I like to start sewing from the end that is not printed with Dashwood Studios as you can cut closer to this in step 3.
Take care not to pull the fabric through the machine as you sew them as it will distort the fabric.

Prarie Strips
2. Start at the end without the writing
5 strips sewn together
2. The 5 strips sewn together

3. Press the strips, taking care make sure the seams are open, but the lines are not distorted.

4. Straighten one end of the strip (I cut from the end that I started sewing from first as it is lined up), then cut into four 10 ¼ in segments.

Cut into squares
4. Cutting the strip into squares
Cut into strips 2
4. 2 squares cut from the strip

5. Repeat steps 1 to 3 with the remaining strips.

6.  Lay out the 16 squares, following the arrangement in the quilt at the top of this post.  Alternatively, as each pieces is square you can make your own layout, making sure there are 4 across and 4 down.
Using a quarter inch seam allowance, sew the squares together to make four rows.  Press, then sew the rows together.

7. Take your backing fabric and wadding and make a quilt sandwich.  Quilt as desired.  I used a walking foot and machine quilting thread in a pale grey to quilt random straight lines down the quilt.

8. Bind using your preferred method.

Folded Prarie strip quilt
Folded Prarie strip quilt

If you fancy making this quilt, you can buy a pack containing the fabric for the front from the Quilty Pleasures website for the special price of £16.00.  Click here to order.

 

A tale of dogs and fabric…

Prairie by Rebecca Stoner for Dashwood Studios
Prairie by Rebecca Stoner for Dashwood Studios

Oh the internet – you make the world seem so much smaller.  When I was young I would never have believed that with the use of a machine that I can fit in my hand, I could have sent a message direct to Paul Young or have seen a pic of what Bros were having for their tea.
Thankfully, I use the internet for better things than what my 10 year old self would have, and one of these is to stalk anyone/thing textiley.

On Twitter a couple of months ago I put up a photo of my Dusty and then got chatting to others (as you do, nothing like photos of pets on Twitter to start a conversation!).  The designer Rebecca Stoner then tweeted a photo of Bertie, her lovely lurcher so lots of mutual hound appreciation went on.  I should mention I have two hounds, a 2 year old whippet, and a 14 year old greyhound, and think I am slightly addicted to them.  Toby our old boy cannot handle the car anymore, so has lead walks and stays at home with his slippers and smoking pipe, but mini hound comes out and about with me.  When I next saw my Dashwood rep I straight away pounced on Rebecca’s work, then noticed who had designed it and said “ooh, you should see her lovely dog, I must order this”.  My rep was a little bit taken aback by this, not really the reaction usually given to a fabric range!  Anyway, I chose 5 bolts, and have made a metre square quick strip quilt from them.  The bolts are photographed at the top of this post, and available here my my website.  I will post the pattern on Monday, but here is some hound eye candy for you.  Rebecca kindly emailed me a picture of Bertie, who I think should be given the role of head of marketing!

Here’s Dusty, doing her catalogue pose, with the quilt behind her…

Dusty Posing with Prairie
Dusty Posing with Prairie

..and Bertie modelling a Prairie bandana.  Isn’t he gorgeous..?!  Such a handsome face.

Rebecca Stoners Bertie modelling Prairie
Bertie modelling Prairie

 

Weekend in London

Well, it kind of was, I commuted up from Brighton Thursday to Sunday.  The reason for this was that the lovely people at Twisted Thread asked me if I would like to do some talks on quilt making in their Lifestyle Theatre and the Knitting and Stitching show.  Always one to try something just a little outside my comfort zone I said yes, then spent a month fretting about it, not helped by an article in The Guardian on how the majority of people would do anything (and absolutely anything) to avoid public speaking!  It all went fine, and I actually LOVED doing it.  There were some really positive comments from people who watched my demos, and it inspired people to have a go at quilting which is just fab.  The talks were based on projects from the book.
Here are a couple of photos…

Image

Image

Of course one of the best things was to be able to spend 4 days at the knitting and stitching show, and I did do a bit of shopping…  I added a couple of fat quarters to my Liberty stash.  Really must start the snowball quilt I have been planning for all my Liberty scraps…  I also bought a lampshade kit which I have some patchwork plans for.  The stalls with lovely yarn so nearly hooked me in, but I have so much sewing on my list that I resisted – but maybe in the autumn.  I have never been to the Olympia show before and thought it really good, nice venue and so much easier to get to from Brighton than Ally Pally.

Being in London means I had an excuse to slope off on Saturday afternoon to the V&A, one of my favourite places in the capital.

V & A
V & A

Spent a lot of time in the ceramics galleries, inspiring colours and prints.

Ceramics V & A
Ceramics V & A

They have a wedding dresses exhibition starting soon, so I will be back there again before the summer…