one way to bind a quilt

There are lots of ways to bind a quilt, but there is usually one way that we each turn to as our ‘go to’ method.  One way that works well for me is the technique that I am about to show you – I hope it is helpful for those of you who are just starting out on your quilting journey and are perhaps a little unsure of how best to frame your masterpieces 🙂

I’m using my little Zakka style butterfly table topper quilt to demonstrate, but the method works for any size of quilt, large or small 🙂

The first thing I do is trim the edges of the quilt

Trim sidesThen I calculate the amount of binding that I will need by measuring the perimeter of the quilt. In this instance, I am binding a small table topper quilt measuring 12.5″ x 21″, so the perimeter is the sum of all of the sides i.e. (12.5″ x 2) + (21″ x 2) = 67″.  Then I add about 10″, to allow for turning the corners and overlapping a little at the start and finish (I like to call these extra inches ‘wiggle room’ – love that expression!).  For this quilt I will need 77″ of binding.

Next I cut enough strips of fabric, which when joined together will give me one long strip of binding equal to the length I need. Now, this is where I differ a little from the norm in that I cut my binding strips 2¼” wide as opposed to the more widely used 2½” width. The reason I use 2¼” wide strips is because I like a ‘scant’ binding that sits snuggly against the sides of the quilt and I find that this width gives me the best finish.

For a large quilt I would cut the strips across the width of the fabric (from selvedge edge to selvedge edge), but for small projects, like this one, I sometimes cut strips from a fat quarter – it doesn’t really matter how you get there, so long as you make enough binding to go around the perimeter of the quilt, plus 10″ extra and without too many joins along the way!

Sew the strips together by placing two strips at right angles to each other, with right sides facing.  Draw a line diagonally from left to right like this …

Join strips

Then stitch on the drawn line and trim away the excess fabric leaving a ¼” seam at the join

Trim diagonal seam

Press the seams open so that the binding will lie flat when you apply it to the quilt

Iron seams openOnce you have joined all the strips together in this way, press the entire thing in half lengthways, wrong sides together.

Binding Collage

You are now ready to apply the binding to your quilt! Before you start any stitching, open the binding strip and bring the top right hand corner down to meet the bottom edge of the strip like this

Open out

Fold the strip back together again.  This forms a little ‘flap’ into which you will tuck the end of the binding later …

Fold down

I usually start applying the binding at around the midpoint on the bottom edge of my quilt.  Place the raw edge of the binding against the raw edge of the quilt top and pin.

Pin to bottom centre edge

Next, I mark ¼” from the corner edge like this

quarter inch marker

To stitch the binding on, I use a walking foot and a 1/4″ seam.  I start sewing about 3 or 4 inches from the folded end and continue to sew towards the first corner. Now comes the important bit – stop stitching ¼” from the corner edge (your marker will guide you). Backstitch a few stitches and fasten off (but don’t cut your binding strip!)

Start applying binding 5 inches from point

Now I fold the binding strip straight up forming a 45˚ angle, then I fold it down over itself to create a corner and align the raw edge of the binding with the next edge of the quilt.

Pull up

Pull down

Corner

Start stitching at the top (backstitching a few stitches at the start), through the folded corner and all the way down the next side, stopping as before ¼” from the next corner like before. Continue to attach the binding in this way until all four corners are completed and you are a few inches from your original starting point.

Corner collage

Trim the end of the binding and tuck it inside the folded end that you started with like this, so that it overlaps by a couple of inches

Tuck end in

Fold the flap back down again and continue to sew over the original starting stitches,  backstitching to secure and fasten off.

Join.

Now turn the quilt over so that you can stitch the binding down to the back of the quilt.

It doesn’t really matter where you start, just fold the binding strip over from the front of the quilt to the back until it’s PAST the 1/4″ seam line that you made sewing the binding onto the front.

I use a ‘blind’ stitch to hold the binding in place at the back of the quilt. I hide the knot on the underside of the binding and bring my needle up through the fold in the binding

Hide knot Collage

Next I insert the needle through the quilt backing and tunnel into the wadding for about 1/2cm just under the folded edge of the binding. Then I bring the needle back out and into the binding, as shown below

Stitch technique

The secret to ‘blind’ (hidden) stitches is to catch only 2-3 threads with each “bite” of the binding and to take the stitch slightly under the edge of the binding fold. Aim for evenly-spaced stitches (½cm – 1cm apart works well). Be careful not to sew through to the front of your quilt!

Tip** You may choose to use clips or pins to help you hold your binding in place as you sew –  it is not necessary to place a large number of them at a time, just enough for the next section ahead. Personally, I usually just hold it in place with my left hand as I go (I’m right-handed).

Continue to blind stitch the binding in place until you come to a corner.  At the corner, fold the adjacent binding strip over to form a miter. Now bring your needle up through the backing to where the two binding strips intersect and make a stitch right in the corner by pulling the needle through both layers of binding. Make a few more stitches along the diagonal fold to secure the mitered corner.

Corner stitch Collage

Starting from the corner, blind stitch the binding to the next side of the quilt

Make few stitches in corner to secure

This is how the corner looks on the front

Corner 2

Continue in this way until you have stitched all your binding neatly in place.

Finished binding

Butterfly table topper2

That’s it – you’re done!   Time to start another project 🙂

Natalie x

 

 

fabric iPad sleeve tutorial

 

Harriet 005.

I had been wondering what I could make with a little embroidered piece that I stitched recently and finally decided on a new iPad cover.  I already have a ‘Smart Case’ for my iPad and, whilst I like the protection that the hard folding cover gives to the screen, the fact remains that it is a dull grey colour, a little grubby from fingerprints and well … just plain boring!

So, I wanted to pretty things up a wee bit and this is the result …

iPad cover1

iPad cover3

iPad cover2

iPad cover9

iPad cover7

iPad cover11

I made a slightly different version for my mother-in-law, adding her initial in embroidery on the front. I added a velcro flap at the top, rather than an elastic and button closure and I also quilted the background of the linen section.  I found some wonderful embroidery templates for monogram letters here.

iPad cover4

If you would like to have a go at making a fabric iPad sleeve, I’ve jotted down some quick instructions below on how I made mine.  You can do anything you like on the front cover – I used my new Harriet & her Teddy design on the front of mine (available in my pattern shop), or you can just keep it simple by using two pretty co-ordinating fabrics – just go with what you fancy!

Before we get started, I need to point out that I made mine big enough to accommodate an iPad4 and a Smart Case.  If you want to make a cover just for an iPad on it’s own, I would suggest using a 1/2″ seam allowance throughout (for a snugger fit), rather than a 1/4″ seam allowance.

So, what you will need is:

For the outside

  • 2 pieces of fabric 9.5” x 8.75” – for the bottom of the outside cover
  • 2 pieces of co-ordinating fabric 9.5” x 3” – for the top of the outside cover
  • 2 lengths of ribbon around 10” long, plus extra for the bow
  • 1 small button (for the bow centre) and a larger button for the closure
  • 1 adult hair elastic/ponytail holder (or similar thin elastic)

For the inside

  • 2 pieces of thin wadding (batting) 9.5” x 11.25”
  • 2 pieces of lining fabric 9.5” x 11.5” (the extra 1/4″ in length for the lining fabric is for the trim at the top edge)

*Use 1/4″ seam throughout

1. Cut out all the pieces before you start

Harriet 3

To make the outside cover …

2. With right sides together, stitch each of the two top pieces (9.5” x 3”) to the bottom pieces (9.5” x 8.75”)

Harriet 1

3. Cover the seam lines by stitching on some co-ordinating ribbon

Harriet 2

4. Make a ‘quilt sandwich’ by laying one 9.5” x 11.25” piece of wadding down on your work table first, followed by the front cover (right side up), followed by the back cover (right side down), and finishing with another 9.5” x 11.25” piece of wadding. Line up all raw edges and pin.

5. Stitch all four layers together using ¼” seam, leaving the top open. Backstitch a few stitches at the start and end of sewing to stop the seam opening when you turn it right side out.

Stitch all the layers together

6. Trim away the wadding to about 1/8th of an inch from the sewn line to reduce bulk, clip the corners and turn right side out. Push out the corners to give nice neat points.

7. Sew the elastic hairband onto the outside of the back cover by placing it in the centre and stitching over it a few times about an 1/8th of an inch from the edge. Allow a little of the elastic to hang off the edge (you will trim it later).

Harriet 11

8. Now take your lining fabric and place the pieces right sides together. Stitch down both long sides and along the bottom, leaving a 4” opening at the bottom for turning. Leave the top open.  Clip the corners, but don’t turn it right side out yet!

Lining

9. To join your outer cover and lining, keep your lining inside out & your outer piece right side out and slip the assembled cover inside the lining, matching up your two side seams. They should now be right sides together.

Harriet 10

10. Line up the top edges of the lining and the outside cover and stitch a ¼” seam all around the top edge. Trim away the excess elastic from the seam allowance.

Collage1

11. Gently pull the front cover through the gap that you left in the lining. *Tip:  I use a star headed screw driver to turn things out as I find that the little star head grips the fabric and helps things along 🙂

Harriet 512. Poke out the corners and press

Harriet 8

13. Stitch the opening closed

sew opening closed

14. Gently push the lining inside the cover.  You will find that a little of the lining will naturally fold around the wadding at the top edge to give a nice little trim along the top (that’s the reason why we cut the lining pieces that extra 1/4″ longer 😉 )

iPad cover12

15. Sew on a pretty button and top-stitch ‘in the ditch’ where the lining and the outside meet to give a neat finish (although it looks just fine without this step).

Top stitch to finish (optional)

ipadcover5

I have just begun to stitch another little version of Harriet & her Teddy, this time I am embroidering the entire thing on to soft white linen (no applique).  I’ve added tiny beads as flower centres and smocking at the top of her dress…

A pocketful of posies

 

… not sure what it will become this time, just gonna see where the stitches take me …

Natalie x

 

santa basket

Santa basket pics 032

This little guy has been a regular in our house for the last couple of Christmases. He’s a great little chap for holding all the Christmas chocolates and usually raises a few smiles.

Santa basket pics 011

He’s really easy to make, all you need is:

  • a shallow wicker basket
  • a polystyrene ball
  • a hot glue gun
  • some scraps of fabric and felt
  • polyester stuffing
  • craft goggle eyes, a button, ribbon and a small bell

… and this is how I made him

1. Cut a strip of fabric long enough to go around the rim of the basket and wide enough to cover the sides and extend around the base.  The basket I used had a diameter of 7¼” and a depth of 2¾” which meant I needed a strip of about 24″ x 5″ to include 1/2″ seam allowances.  Sorry I can’t give exact measurements here, as it will all depend on how big your basket is, but what I would say is make it a little bigger than you think you need, as you can always trim it down.

2. Sew a 1/2″ hem along the long sides. Next, with right sides facing, stitch the short sides together to form a fabric ring. Place the basket inside the fabric ring with the wrong side of the fabric facing the outside of the basket. Use a hot glue gun to glue the fabric all the way around the rim of the basket, like a skirt. (Be careful, that glue can be mighty hot!). Allow the glue to set.

3. Turn the basket upside down and place a little polyester stuffing between the fabric and the basket to pad out the sides before gathering up the underside with a running stitch (I used quilting thread for strength), pulling it tight like this. Fasten off securely.

Santa basket pics 018

4. Glue a length of black ribbon around the rim to act as a belt and added a button to the front.

basket

5. Cut another strip of fabric long enough to reach just over half way around the rim, to act as the arms.  The rim of my basket is approximately 23″, so I cut a strip about 12″ x 4.5″, but again you will need to judge the size depending on the size of the basket you are using.

6. With right sides together, stitch the long sides of the strip together to form a tube and turn right side out. Stuff lightly with some polyester stuffing to within an inch of each end.

7. Cut some mittens from green felt and insert one into each end of the arm tube and stitch the ends closed securing the mittens in place. Glue a strip of white felt or wadding around each wrist.

Santa basket pics 0148. Wrap some strong thread around the centre of the tube to form two arms and glue the arms in place around the rim of the basket. I placed glue all along the seam line and then glued it to the basket in order to hide the seam 🙂

Santa basket pics 023

Santa basket pics 017

9. Make the head by covering a polystyrene ball with calico – simply place the ball in the centre of a large square of calico

Santa basket pics 046

10. Gather the fabric around the ball and tie it up with a hair scunci or elastic band.

Santa basket pics 039

11. Trim any excess fabric.

Santa basket pics 042

12. Tease out as many creases as you can to leave a relatively smooth area for the face.

Santa basket pics 045

13. The hat is just a triangle of fabric stitched into a cone shape and placed over the head (hiding the excess fabric and whatever you used to tie it up with!). Try to place the hat such that it hides as many of the creases in the calico as you can, leaving a smooth part showing for the face. Once you are happy with the placement, glue the hat to the head.

14. Decorate the face by gluing on some craft goggle eyes, a nose and add some cosmetic blush (or crayon) on the cheeks.  The nose is just a circle of calico filled with a little bit of polyester stuffing, which is gathered and stitched/glued in place.  You can use anything you like for the beard, from felt to wadding or cotton wool,  or you can make a cotton rag beard like I did.

Santa basket face

15. To make the cotton rag beard, simply cut 2 strips of calico 15″ x 3″, place one on top of the other and fold them in half length-ways. Stitch 1/4″ seam along the folded edge down the full length of the strip. Using small, sharp scissors, make perpendicular cuts about 1/4″ apart all along the raw edge side of the strip, taking care not to snip all the way up to your stitching. To get the lovely raggy look you will need to wash it and stick it in the tumble dryer.

Santa basket pics 033

16. Glue the beard in layers under the nose (there are 3 layers of cotton rag on my Santa).

17. Glue a strip of felt or wadding around the rim of the hat tucking any bits of beard under as you go.

Santa basket pics 012

18. Finally glue the head between the shoulders, add a bell to the hat and a wee bit of glitter here and there.

Ta-da!  You’re done! Put the kettle on – you’ve worked hard, time for a cuppa! 🙂

Santa basket pics 007

I think a snowman basket would also look great – you could knit him a lovely wee hat and scarf – must try that for next year 🙂 !

Right, I’d better get on with putting up the rest of the Christmas decorations … ♥ ♥ ♥

Natalie x

zakka inspired gift set

With Christmas just around the corner, I have been putting some thought into what little fabric gifts I can make for friends and family this year.

Every year, I make Christmas cookies for the girls at work and last year I made some wee fabric gift bags to put them in

Gift bag template can be found here

Gift bag template can be found here

This Christmas I want to give the girls a little something to go with the usual cookies and I have been wondering what it might be. Every time I think of an idea, I have been jotting it down on a yellow sticky note and pinning it to the notice board in my sewing room.

Sticky notes are great when you need to jot something down real quick; I use them all the time! And I certainly wouldn’t be without them at work (along with the humble highlighter pen!)

sticky notes

Which got me thinkin’! Wouldn’t it be nice to have something pretty to keep them in?

Dangerous thing, thinkin’ … cos now my sewing room is all messed up again!  There are fabric scraps everywhere, I’ve completely forgotten to leave anything out of the freezer for tea, the housework is untouched and I have no idea where the time has gone! But I don’t care … not really

… cos now I have a whole bunch of these wee cuties! 🙂

Pile notes on top

pile aqua on top

Aqua open with pencil

This little sticky note keeper fits two sizes of stickies – 7.5cm square and 9.5cm square

Open showing different sizes of stickies

And the really cool part is that they happen to go great with the little twisted hexagon coasters that I made a couple of weeks ago!

twisted hexagon coaster

I added in a little Sarubobo keyring and Bob’s your Uncle! … a cute little Zakka inspired gift set was born! Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together 🙂

Green set with lily

Green set from above

Green side on

These little Zakka style gift sets will be perfect to accompany the Christmas cookies this year!  I just need to make another half a dozen sets and that’s Christmas 2013 all ‘sewn up’ … (pun intended folks 🙂 )

If you would like to make a sticky note keeper of your own, here’s how:

In the main fabric cut:

  • Four 5” x 1¼” strips (for the borders around the pinwheel centre)
  • Two 4½” x 5½” rectangles (for the back and the inside pocket)
  • One 4½” x 9½” rectangle (for the lining) 

You will also need:

  • Two 3” squares of fabric – one light, one dark – for the pinwheel
  • 5½” x 10½” piece of cotton wadding
  • One 3½” square and one 3¾” square of stiff card

Materials

First make the patchwork pinwheel …

*Use a ¼” seam throughout (unless otherwise stated)

Place the two 3” squares right sides together and sew a continuous ¼” seam all the way around the edge

sew all around the square

Cut the sewn squares in half diagonally.   Then cut again diagonally in the opposite direction

four trianglesPress the patches open towards the darker fabric

Press seams towards the dark fabric

Lay the four patches in the formation of a pinwheel.  It’s easy to mix the patches up and sew the wrong edges together, so I lay the pinwheel out right next to my machine and that keeps me on the right track 🙂

join four squares

Place patches 1 and 2 right sides together and sew together with 1/4″ seam. Join pieces 3 and 4 in the same way. Press the seams towards the dark side.

Join two halves of pinwheel

Now join section A and B with ¼” seam, making sure that  the centre seams are nested together

Press the seam open to reduce bulk

press the centre seam open

Trim the pinwheel – it should measure 3” square

Trim pinwheel

Stitch a 5” border strip to two opposite sides of the pinwheel patch and press the seams out towards the border

first two borders added

Trim the borders flush with the sides of the pinwheel patch

Trim first 2 borders

Stitch the other two border strips to the remaining sides of the pinwheel patch and press seams out towards the border

Pinwheel trimmed

You now have a framed pinwheel block – yay!

Stitch a 4½” x 5½” rectangle to the framed pinwheel block and press the seam away from the block.  Place the piece right side up on the wadding

Lay face up on wadding

Quilt the two layers together by stitching around the pinwheel square and inside the light coloured triangles, about ⅛” from the seam lines.  I did a mixture of hand stitching and machine stitching on mine and I also added a little bead to the centre.

Embellish pinwheel

Trim the wadding flush with the sides of your work

Trim Collage

Take another 4½” x 5½” rectangle and fold it in half, matching up the short sides. Press.  This will form a pocket on the inside.

press pocket

Lay the lining fabric on your work table right side up. Line up the raw edges of the folded pocket piece with the raw edges on one of the short sides of the lining fabric and pin in place

pin pocket to lining fabric

Next, lay the pinwheel panel right side down on top of the pocket panel, matching up all raw edges and pin. (The pinwheel should be at the opposite end to where you have pinned the pocket). Sew all the layers together, leaving the short edge nearest the pinwheel open

Join lining to front panel

Trim away some of the wadding to reduce bulk and clip the corners

Trim wadding

Turn right side out. *Tip – when turning things right side out,  I use a Phillips (star head) screw driver to push out the corners, as I find the little ‘star head’ helps to grip the fabric and is less likely to pierce it than a knitting needle or scissors would. Try it yourself and see what you think!

Insert a 3¾” square of stiff card through the opening and push it to the bottom. It’s a fairly snug fit, so you may have to give it a wiggle. *I used card that was 1/8″ thick for the first couple that I made, but then I used two thicknesses of cereal packet stuck together and that worked just fine.  I used a simple glue stick to stick the card together.

insert first card

Starting from the seam line of the pinwheel block, sew two lines of stitching ¾” apart.  These two lines create a sort of ‘spine’ and encase the cardboard at the same time

encase the first card

Place a 3½” square of stiff card into the opening up to the sewn line

Insert 2nd card

Last bit! Fold in the raw edges of the opening by about ¼” and pin

Close opening

Stitch the opening closed with a line of stitching very close to the edge. Continue to stitch all around the edge of the square very close to the edge, wiggling the cardboard out of the way as you go. I sewed along to the first corner and then, keeping the needle in the down position, I was able to wiggle the cardboard out of the way and pivot my work and sew to next corner and so on.

If you prefer not to sew a line all around the outside, you can just slip stitch the opening closed by hand.

sew close to the edge

finished

That’s it, you’re done!

All you need to do now is insert the back few pages of a sticky note pad into the little pocket and you have a pretty little home for your stickies (oh the simple things that please us eh?) 🙂

Aqua sticky note keep

You don’t have to have a pinwheel as your centre block.  Depending on how you sew your half triangle patches together, you will get a different pattern. For example, I put the patches together as a ‘broken dishes’ block in the centre of this one

red set with keys

… and this one

Pile green facing

Or you could perhaps keep the whole piece plain and embroider a little design on the front – I think some redwork on linen would look fab! A nine patch block would do the trick too – you do whatever takes your fancy.

I’m a wee bit fond of the little red set, so I might have to keep it for myself (maker’s perk an’ all:) )

red set with flower

red set from above

red set with pencil

red set open with pencil

I hope you have enjoyed this little project and feel inspired to make some of your own wee Zakka-style sitcky note keepers – if you do, I’d love to see some pics of your creations! 

Happy stitching and creating everyone

Natalie x

catching up …

… my recent holiday seems like a distant memory already and I have only been back a couple of weeks!

I had a wonderful time away, staying in a charming little cottage in Shropshire in the picture-postcard village of Ashford Carbonell.

Cottage

Grazer's Cottage

The trip was arranged as a way for Mum and I to spend some ‘girlie’ time together and we plan to make it a regular annual event. It was a lovely way to enjoy some good old mother/daughter bonding – we walked, we talked, we cooked (and ate too much!), we laughed and generally enjoyed each others company.

Shropshire is such a gorgeous part of England – unspoilt and uncrowded. Quaint little villages with a wealth of historical black and white buildings, charming tearooms, lots of quirky independent shops and stunning countryside.

One little tearoom we visited in Bridgnorth was a quilters dream!  Not only did they sell the most delicious home made cakes, but the whole place was adorned with stunning patchwork and quilted goodies.

Outside Number One

Inside 'Number one Tearoom'.

Lizard wallhangings

Wallhanging and cushions

Quilted hanging coneMaureen Shenton was the talented lady responsible for a lot of the quilted items in the shop and I had a lovely time chatting with her about her passion for quilting. Maureen also teaches workshops and offers a long arm quilting service.

There were lots of antique & vintage shops in the area and whilst browsing through one of them, I stumbled upon these two miniature brass keys.  I’m pretty sure that they aren’t actual antiques, but I snapped them up anyway, thinking that they will make really cute charms for home made gifts. Cute aren’t they?

Key charmsAnd, of course, no holiday would be complete without a visit to the local patchwork shop to pick up some ‘souvenirs’ 🙂

fabric findsI didn’t do any sewing whilst I was away but I have been getting back into the swing of things since getting back home.

Ever since I opened my Etsy Pattern Shop a few weeks ago, I have been very conscious of the fact that there were only two patterns listed in it (not much of a window display huh?), so I have been beavering away drafting some new ones to stock the shelves!

My ‘Crafty Creatures’ pattern is the newest addition to the shop.  Five fun little characters, filled with rice and each with their own personalised mini quilt! These little guys just love hanging around 🙂

Crafty CreaturesThere is Crafty Cat …

cat5

And Crafty Dog …

Crafty dawg

Crafty Sheep…

Sheep

And Crafty Frog …

frog

And poor old Crafty Pig thinks he’s a mug rug, bless him, … but you know what, as long as he’s happy an’ all, I’m just gonna let him be 🙂

Crafty Pig

I love having these little guys around, they just make me smile. Feels like I’m 8 years old again and living with Dr Dolittle!

I’ve also designed one more little ‘Harriet’ project in the form of a wee wallhanging with a simple patchwork border. This one shows the cheeky side to her character as you can see … perfect for a little girl’s room!

On white

And, whilst I had my scrap bag out, I found a neat little hexagon coaster tutorial over at Canoe Ridge Creations, so I ran up a set of them using some pretty scraps and linen. I am just adding a simple running stitch to the centres and tomorrow, I’ll wrap them up in tissue paper and tie them up all pretty with ribbon – a little ‘gift-ette’ for a friend I’m seeing this weekend 

twisted hexagon coasters

…and so, as the summer of 2013 draws to a close, I can feel a distinct autumnal nip in the air and I’m thinking maybe I will be needing the patchwork quilts out of the airing cupboard soon, to snuggle under when the nights draw in…

… autumn and winter have their up sides too 🙂

Happy stitching everyone!

Natalie x

spring arrives with a baa-ng!

sheep7

I’m back in my sewing room after a lovely Easter break with my family in Northern Ireland.   Long walks, (way too many) coffee shops and ‘wee buns’, warm fires at night and a glass or two of my favourite tipple!

Irish Mist

It’s funny, but I still refer to Northern Ireland as ‘home’, even though I have lived in England now for more than half of my life. There is definitely something magical about going ‘home’ – that feeling of true belonging that cannot be felt anywhere else on earth.

It was lambing season whilst I was there, but sadly there were fewer lambs than usual in the fields surrounding my parents house this year. The recent heavy snow falls meant that many sheep and their lambs perished, buried in huge snow drifts of up to fifteen feet high in some areas! 

Thankfully, many pregnant ewes survived the harsh conditions and, now that the snow has all but melted, lambs are once again a happy sight on the Irish hillsides 🙂

sheep in snow1

sheep in snow2

It was scenes like the ones above that inspired me to create a sheep-themed pouch like the button pouch featured in my ‘button love’ post.

sheep4

sheep3

 

pouch back

 

sheep9

I use this one to keep cotton wool in, but there are any number of uses for it. You can find the tutorial for it here.

sheep10

I’m back home in England now and as I sit at my sewing table, looking out at the daffodils making a later than usual appearance, it makes me smile to see their sweet golden faces heralding the arrival of spring at last!

daffodils

Happy stitching everyone!

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!