Monday, 21 December 2020

Hocus Pocus

Sometimes you see a quilt and you just know that it's one you're going to make! That's what happened when I first saw the Hocus Pocus quilt by Corinne Sovey. There was something about the simple images and fun colours that I just loved.

Having bought the pattern, I then realised that those "simple" bold designs were actually created using a number of different, and at times challenging, techniques. The witches boots are foundation pieced. Not a problem. The eyeball is made of concentric inset circles. I've perhaps done this technique once before... but I tried it, and overall I'm pretty pleased with it! But those stars. Templates and Y-seams. Two of my least favourite quilting terms. I thought about making foundation patterns. I thought about doing them using English Paper Piecing. I thought about applique.... in the end I put on my big-girl pants and did them. Templates and Y-seams. Success.  They took some time, but they are mostly flat and they mostly meet in the middle and I'm pretty chuffed.

And whilst all those different techniques might scare some people, I loved it. It was just the right level of challenging! 

This is, I think, only the second quilt I've ever made in all solids! I've used mostly Spectrum Solids from Makower - I'd never used them before, but it's currently tricky to get hold of Kona, and one of the online shops I buy from fairly regularly had just got the Spectrum solids in, so I risked it. They are very similar to Kona and lovely to work with. I've mixed in some Kona (one of the purples and one of the oranges) and I've used a Tula Pink designed solid for the pink. All makes sit well together (though the pink is perhaps marginally better quality and softness), though once washed I don't think you'll be able  to tell the difference!

It's backed in a black sheet, and I've quited "organic straight lines" vertically. On the front I've used an orange thread and on the back I've used a variegated thread - orange, yellow and purple! The binding was happy accident - I cut 6 width of fabric strips and was sure that would be fine (I didn't do the maths) and I cam up about 10" short. Rather than unfold the large piece of black again, I grabbed a scrappy bit of orange I had left, and now I have an orange corner to my quilt and I love it!

We hung it in the window for Halloween!

I'm also working on Corinne's Christmas Cheer quilt, and seeing some sneakpeaks of other future quilt patterns she's working on, there will definitely be more!

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Zip-around Pouches

 The same weekend that I made the cushions for the kids, I also joined a workshop to make the Zip-Around pouch. It's a pattern I've made before by Bad Banana Patterns, but I didn't need much of an excuse to make it again and I picked up some excellent tips from Tori, who was leading the workshop (@Cloudtori). Basically, if Tori says hand-baste in place, hand-baste it, because it makes life easier and the results better!

I decided two pouches is better than one! So I made a new pouch for my headphones. I make my ziparound pouches deeper than the pattern - for this one I cut each of my side strips 1.5" wide. In hindsight this is perhaps too deep as without any interfacing, they don't hold their shape - perhaps next time I'll add some interfacing?

I love that 90s walkman print - perfect for a pouch for my headphones - it's from Lovely Jubbly fabrics, but I can't remember what it's called (It comes in two colourways too!). The pink is a Kona and the blue inside is from Alison Glass.

And a pouch for Michael (I didn't want him to feel left out when the kids got their cushions!). All the fabrics are by Carolyn Friedlander except the orange binding on the inside which is Kona

And since this weekend, I've also made another pouch in the same fabrics as Michael's for a friend - this time I cut the strips at 1.25" each and I'm pretty sure this is the perfect width for me - It just fits a charger nicely!

I will definitely be making more of these! Here are the two I made at the start of the year and the two I made on the weekend! The black one is the perfect depth!

Monday, 2 November 2020

Cushions for the kids

 The dinosaur quilt I finished back in early September was quite popular in our house. Josh squealed in delight every time he saw it. So he was not best pleased when we gifted it to the newest addition to the family - a baby cousin. I am planning on making him his own dino quilt (I have a May 2021 deadline in mind....) but in the meantime, I decided a cushion would soften the blow. 

Michael and I watched his reactions to the quilt a few times and worked out that he definitely liked the orange dinosaurs but couldn't pick between the Stegosaurus and the Triceratops. I made an executive decision that the Triceratops made a better shaped cushion!

But of course when you have three children, one cushion just won't cut it! I was lucky that I had a weekend set aside for the Virtual Sewing Shindig. We couldn't meet up in person this year, but a weekend was organized full of zoom chatting and sewing with some workshops as well! I cleared out our junk room, set myself up and closed the door! Heaven! As well as making Josh a dinosaur cushion that weekend, Jessica had requested a "pink dinosaur with flowers and a crown". Obviously. She also made it clear that she liked the brachiosaur. I present, a pink dinosaur with flowers and crown! (it's pinker in real life

The flowers are broderie perse - I had a lovely flower print I picked up in a destash and I simply cut out the floral element and raw edge appliqued it in place. And the crawn is some slightly less technical applique!

And the final cushion was for Mia. One of the workshops I attended over the weekend was a foundation piecing class with Jeliquilts. Mia picked out her Stupid Cupid pattern and I kept it simple with red (her favourite colour) and white. The massive advantage of sewing at home rather than being away for the weekend, meant that even though I hadn't planned very well in advance, all the extra fabrics, wadding and zips I needed to get all three cushions finished were just upstairs! It doesn't make up for not seeing everyone in person - I can't wait for next year - fingers crossed!

I gave the cushions at the end of retreat and I think they were appreciated! Each one had a little label sewn on the back!

Tuesday, 29 September 2020


 It seems so long ago now that lockdown started and here we nearly are again in the North East. Do you remember the first few weeks when rainbows appeared everywhere? We had a few in our living room window and in the porch. A symbol of hope and friendship during the most extraordinary times. We would take the kids out for a walk and they would look for the rainbows and point them out excitedly.

About that time, Kristy from Quiet Play released a pattern bundle which contained a foundation pieced rainbow. I didn't hesitate, and bought the pattern immediately.

I made it into a cushion with the beautiful Speckled fabric for the background and some fun weather fabric from Dashwood for the backing (I posted this to Facebook at the time and the back got more attention than the front - I'll forgive my non-quilty friends, but not my mother!)

Sunday, 13 September 2020


 This is one of those patterns that as soon as I saw it, I knew I would be making it, and I knew I would be making it more than once! Josh loves this pattern - he has been excited by every block and thrilled with the finished quilt. And pretty disappointed when he realised it wasn't for him.

The pattern is Dinosaurs by Elizabeth Hartman - her patterns are just the best - they are fun, stunning, perfect for all family members, incredibly well-written and a joy to make. Yes, they are at the more expensive end of the pattern spectrum, but I honestly believe they are worth every penny - so far I've used each pattern at least twice in various guises!

This quilt was gifted within an hour of it being finished to the newest addition in the family - Baby Rory. 

And Rory's big brother needed a Triceratops cushion to match so he didn't feel left out. 

The fabrics are all from my stash - mostly blenders, lots of solids. The background is Kona Juniper which is a lovely rich dark green. The backing is an Asda duvet cover which is just perfect!

And don't worry - Josh will be getting his own version - I'm planning to make him the full size version - but first I have another to make as a Christmas present!

Monday, 24 August 2020

Plaidish Quilt [A Finish]

 You know me and a good sew along.... so when the Cariad Modern Quilt Guild organised a Plaidish Quilt sew along, I got drawn in! But it's been a brilliant decision and made a massive difference to lock-down for me! 

The Plaidish Quilt pattern is by Kitchen Table Quilting and is all squares and rectangles. The hardest part is selecting your fabrics and sorting them into lights, mediums and darks - if you get that right, you get the plaidish look!


Using a black and white filter on your camera is a really good way of checking the values of your fabrics - There were some fabrics I had originally picked out which really didn't work once I'd done this check... and even once I'd got to this point, I was worried that there wasn't enough contrast between my mediums and lights! I used only fabrics from my stash - purples, pinks, aquas, peaches and low volume. It was a lot of cutting, but once you've got that out of the way, the construction is split into three types of blocks and chain piecing is the way to go.

Everyone uses their kids as pattern weights, right? I backed my quilt with a purple duvet cover (courtesy of a random website) and quilted it all over in a stipple using a light purple thread. And the end results: I love this quilt - it's simple, striking and big!

But the best thing about this quilt is the community. The quilt-along ran over 5-6 weeks starting back in April and Cariad MQG organized Saturday sewing Zoom calls - and even though the quilt-along is over, those Saturday calls are still going. At the start I knew a few of the members from the Sewing Shindig weekend Retreat I've been on a couple of times, but now I know them a lot better and I love my Saturdays with them - it's truly been a highlight of lockdown! 

Monday, 10 August 2020

Flip Pocket and Four Pocket

 I made another two pouches in the last couple of months. If you've ever come across the pouches designed by Aneela Hoey, you'll know how amazing they are, and as soon as she released the patterns for the Flip Pocket Folio and the Four Pocket Case they went on my list! The biggest struggle was deciding what fabric to use on the outsides.

I started with the Flip Pocket Folio and decided to use a pattern by Berene Campbell (designer of the Hello friend block I used for a cushion and a pouch) - I love the Stitch On banner pattern but to make it fit I had to shrink it to 50% - that made from pretty tiny piecing, but the pattern is so good that it went together beautifully!

Lots of pink on the inside and this is the perfect pouch for all my hand sewing threads. Aneela's instructions are very clear and the vinyl sewing went without a hitch - though I can recommend  a teflon foot!

For the second pouch, the Four Pocket Case, I used a mini charm pack of Tilda fabrics from The Chromatic Studio - a added a few extra squares in from fabrics I already had to bring it up to the right size and then found the perfect binding fabric in my stash (Spectrastic by Guicy Giuce). I like using paler fabrics for the interior of zippy pouches with vinyl as it shows the contents better. And then I used a fabric I wasn't keen on for the pocket lining, because you can't see it at all!

I'm using this pouch to store all the bits for some Blocks of the Month programmes I'm working on.

And on both of these pouches I got to use my new toys: kam snaps! Now I just need to make a hundred more pouches for the rest of the snaps I bought.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Mini Series Sew Along

It's a well known fact that Alison Glass designs the best fabrics - turns out she runs pretty good sew alongs too. Last year was the Trinket Sew Along and this year was the Mini Series sew along. I was a bit on the fence to start with... the cost of the patterns was a little high... but in the end I couldn't resist. There were nine patterns sewn over 9 weeks each made up of the tiniest foundation piecing. And in order to complete the sew along, all nine had to be made into finished objects - that was the challenge.

I pieced four of the blocks using a rainbow of fabrics and a black background from speckled which has a copper fleck. These four became canvases for Joshua's bedroom wall.
The flying geese were paired with the Love pattern from @quietplay, released earlier this year to raise money for those affected by the Australian bush fires. I made these into my first Retreat Pouch which was a gift for Linda.
The crossed geese pattern was the block I struggled with the most: I just wasn't sure what to do with it. Until the Zip Around pouch sew-along appeared on my Instagram feed and I realised that this block fitted perfectly at this size. This was my second zip around pouch, and I made it slightly deeper - it holds my phone charger.
(you can see the copper fleck better on this project - it's the same fabric I used on the canvases)

I used the bonus block (diagonal stripes) and the hexagon block to make myself a new Kindle case - there's just something about the combination of orange and pink!

And the final block was the crowning achievement - and the one that attracted the most swear words! The triangle block by itself wasn't too bad... but six of them sewn together in a hexagon was another level. Picking the paper out of the back was painful. But this cushion is possibly my favourite make of the year so far! 

And the backing fabric is perfect and the label was the ultimate finishing touch!

Lockdown Pouches

Lockdown has proved to be a busy time for us: whilst my mother-in-law moved in and has been a huge support in home-schooling the girls and Joshua-wrangling, work hasn't let up - no furlough for me! I've worked on a few bigger projects during this time, but I have mostly been ddrawn to either hand-sewing on the sofa whilst watching Vera and Death in Paradise, or smaller projects for quick finishes. Pouches definitely tick that box!

I've made a fair few retreat pouches - these are made using a free pattern by @emmalinebags and are slightly different from a regular zippy pouch because you create a channel just under the zip and add wire frames. And it totally transforms the pouch into something amazing. I've made two large and two small ones so far - here is one of the large ones - a foundation pieced pair of scissors on one side (pattern by @quietplay) and some lovely Tula Pink fabric on the back.

And here's one of the smaller one - made with Liberty and hand quilted.

Both were made as gifts. But I did make a second small one which I've kept!

I've adapted the Hello Friend pattern which I showed you in my previous post and sewed it up at 50% scale for the front of another pouch - backed with a fabulous painters palette print which I picked up from Lovely Jubbly Fabrics

A few months, @CloudTori made a beautiful little pouch using cross stitch style blocks from a pattern by Fabric Mutt. I shamelessly copied it, using a lovely blue and green print for my starting point - and the reverse of the pouch. I sent this one down to my Mum earlier in the year.

Did you happen to see the Zip Around Pouch sew along over on Instagram? The pattern is by @elizabew and I got sucked in - I even broke out some Liberty fabric. This pouch was fun to make because the construction was totally different to the normal pouches I make. I can see so much potential with different sizes and both girls have requested one. For now, this one houses my headphone.

If I need a pouch in a hurry, my go to pattern is the Noodle Head Open Wide Pouch. I've made three just in July: one as a birthday present - the girls' friend had a zoom birthday party - her mum dropped off ingredients and then everyone made pizza over zoom! It was such a great idea. I made a Flamingo pouch and filled it with pencils and a notebook for her.

And then the girls wanted new pouches for our summer road trip to Granny and Grandad's house last week: Jessica requested pink flowers...

And Mia loves zebras.

There are even a couple of other pouches which I will share in a separate post...