a day of suffolk puffs and yo-yo’s

Sewing room secrets suffolk puffs

What’s in a name? Well,  I guess it depends which side of the pond you are on. American’s call these little gathered circles Yo-Yo’s (and it’s easy to see why), whereas we Brits refer to them as Suffolk Puffs.

sewing room secrets suffolk puffs

In the sewing world, a Suffolk Puff (or Yo-Yo) is simply a circle of fabric which is gathered around the edge so that it turns in on itself in a ‘puffy’ kind of way. The technique has a long history and references to ‘puffs’ appear as far back as 1601.  It is thought that they originated in the county of Suffolk when people would re-cycle worn out clothes and fabric scraps.  Very often the puffs would be sewn together to make quilts. 

sewing room secrets suffolk puffs

At my sewing group this week I spent the afternoon chatting with my lovely stitching buddies, eating far too many chocolate biscuits and making a whole bunch of these little cuties.

sewing room secrets suffolk puffs

(Confession: Some puffs are not featured in this photo due to the accidental smudging with chocolate 🙂 )

I will admit that I’ve got a bit of an obsession with these wonderful little fabric flowers at the moment – I can’t stop making them, they’re so pretty!  Best of all, they are super quick and simple to make – even kids and total beginners can master them with ease.  Want to know how to make one?  Easy peasy ……

1.  Make two circular templates from card about twice the size that you want your puff to be. My circles were about 3½” and 2½” in diameter.

2.  Draw around the templates on to the wrong side of your chosen fabrics and cut them out on the drawn line.

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4.  Tie a knot in your thread and sew a running stitch all around the circle quite close to the edge.

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5.  Pull the thread to gather the fabric into the middle.

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6.  Flatten the puff between your finger and thumb and secure the centre with a knot.

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6.  Lay one puff on top of the other and secure with a couple of stitches.  Attach a pretty button and your done!

sewing room secrets suffolk puff

You can now use these simple puffs to adorn all manner of things.  Try attaching a brooch pin to the back, sew them on to a hair clip or cover a whole cushion with them…. the list is endless! I’ll be showing you what I did with mine in a later post, but until then go puff crazy!

Happy stitching!

quilters block

I’ve had a patchwork quilt top lying around for about four months just begging to be finished and quilted, but I’ve not managed to get beyond sewing all the blocks together. The reason for the halt in proceedings is one that has temporarily sabotaged many of the quilts I have made so far. I’m a ditherer, you see, when it comes to deciding on what to do about the borders. Is it just me or do you struggle with borders too?

I seem to get ‘quilters block’ and the quilt top languishes at the back of the cupboard like some forgotten relic.  Strangely, when I leave it alone for a wee while, an idea will often come out of the blue and, suddenly, I know exactly what to do and all is well again.

This ‘Turning Twenty’ quilt top was made at my monthly sewing group.  A quilting friend had used these colours in a lap quilt and I fell in love with them straight away! Aren’t they pretty?

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There were some scraps left over from cutting out the blocks, so I sewed them all together in one long strip

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and this is what the border looks like

Border on turning twenty quilt

Border on turning twenty quilt

I’m kind of excited about the backing I’ve chosen for this quilt.  Excited and nervous at the same time, actually.  Excited, because it is a sort of soft, minky type of material which I think will be deliciously cozy!! And nervous, because I have absolutely no experience of sewing with this type of fabric and it looks like it might be a little bit tricky to quilt!

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505 spray

Temporary fabric adhesive spray

I’m going to take the finished top and the backing along to my sewing group next week, when I’ll be trying out a temporary spray adhesive that my quilting friends have said works really well and means there is no need for basting. No basting? Sounds fab!

I love having such generous friends who share all their time saving tips!

Then, once the backing is on,  all that’s left to do is the quilting.  Yikes!

Have a lovely weekend everyone and happy stitching!

introducing thoughtful thursdays

a day for quotes, quips and contemplations …..

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“Before you give someone a piece of your mind, be sure you can get by with what’s  left.”

camper van iPad sleeve

Have you noticed the sudden return in popularity of the VW camper van?  With all the ‘vintage love’ around, the iconic old camper van is popping up all over the place! Some people are even getting married in them!

I was in town a few weeks ago with a good friend and we stumbled upon a great little shop selling all kinds of vintage memorabilia.  I just couldn’t resist buying this piece of metallic wall art  for my sewing room wall.  I can’t help but smile when I look at it.  It’s just too cute!

my happy little campervan

my happy little camper van

My friend’s cousin has just got a new iPad and I know she’s just crazy about camper vans, so I have been working on a camper van themed iPad sleeve for her.  This is how it has turned out ……

Campervan iPad sleeve

Campervan detail

Her name is Emily but everyone shortens it to Em, so I have embroidered ‘Em’ on the flap to personalize it. I really hope she likes it! Monogram on iPad flap Happy stitching folks!

fabric iPad sleeve and mobile phone case

My lovely husband bought me an iPad for Christmas and I’ve been glued to it ever since!   These days I refer to it for almost everything and don’t know how I managed without it!  I still use the laptop as a word processor, but the iPad is just great for sending a quick email or for instant access to the internet, since you don’t have to wait for it to ‘boot up’ like the laptop.

Now that I’ve got an iPad,  I need a sleeve for it, right? Sure, I’ve got the official apple iPad case thingy, but I’m talking about one made from fabric! So naturally, I went ahead and made one.….

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imageI am totally in love with the little Sarubobo character that hangs off the side. I’ve made lots of these little cuties as keyrings for friends and family – they are just so sweet!!  Sarubobo dolls are traditionally made in Japan by mothers for their daughters as lucky charms.   They are not supposed to have faces but I sewed eyes on mine. You can find the tutorial on how to make them here.

shabby chic flower on flap

shabby chic flower on flap

I also made a matching case for my mobile phone …..

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It seems that everyone is using some sort of tablet these days. Quite a few of my friends and family have got iPads now and I have been busy making sleeves for them all.  I’ll post some pics of the them soon, but until then ……

Happy stitching everyone!!

fun with fabric scraps

I’ve been having some fun lately with fabric scraps…..

My new sleep mask

If only the housework would do itself I'd eat, sleep and quilt all day long!

If only the housework would do itself  I’d eat, sleep and quilt all day long!

Mug rugs to make me smile when I’m enjoying a cuppa!

Mug rugs 2

Mug rugs1Do you ever find that no matter how many things you make from scraps, you just end up with even more scraps?  Mmmm…..  Happy stitching folks!

born to sew but forced to work!

Woke up this morning to a very wintry scene! The perfect day to snuggle up under a patchwork quilt and do some hand stitching.

Snow Feb 2013

But, alas, I will have to leave my cozy sewing room and get myself to work!

Mug rug1

This is my new mug rug for work – says it all really!

pot of love

I just love small projects!  There’s a certain ‘cuteness’ and charm to them and I love the fact that they don’t use a lot of fabric and are quickly finished.  They’re also great if you want to whip up a quick gift for someone, like this little ‘Pot of Love’ I made for my Mum recently.

POT OF LOVE

The idea is that you fill it with goodies, such as sweets, chocolates, sewing notions or any other small gift  (I put  Mum’s favourite Lindt chocolates in this one!), attach a little poem or message and present it to someone you love.The great thing is that, once all the choccies have been devoured, you are left with a pretty little clay pot for a flower or plant.

This is  the wording for the little poem that I attached, which you can use, or you can write something of your own

This tiny pot is filled with love

Do not doubt its worth

For any love that we can give

Is the most precious gift on Earth

The fabric used for the pot cover just happens to co-ordinate with the little pillow I made earlier – I think they have a charming rustic look about them, don’t you?

POT AND CUSHION.

I had a lot of fun making it and I hope you do too.  You can download the free PDF pattern for the Pot of Love here.  Happy stitching everyone!

pillow pattern

Living with two men (one hubby, one son) means I don’t really get a chance to chat through ideas about sewing projects, so it was lovely yesterday when a work colleague visited with her sister, who is learning to sew and wanted some tips on how to finish a bag she is working on. Five glorious fabric-filled hours passed in the blink of an eye!

I did have some time left though, to write up the pattern for the little pillow, as promised in my first post. You can now download the free PDF pattern for it and the template for the wording on the front can be found here.

sewing room secrets pillow

I’d love to hear how you get on with it. Happy stitching!