Tag Archives: tutorial

Tutorial: Cushion Pads

When you make a cushion, chances are you want an inner with a removable cover so it can be washed. Why spend a fiver on a cushion pad when you can make your own? This tutorial is pretty self explanatory, and can be adapted to different shapes and sizes. I’m going to give you details for making a bolster cushion inner in a later post- I really could do with one of those!

Muslin is good enough for this- you’ll find a lot of ready made cushion pads are made from even thinner stuff. Muslin is nice and cheap, and toy stuffing always comes in a huge bag when you only need a small bit for a project. So this means I’ve got a new cushion pad for almost no cost at all!

Two pieces of muslin 1/2″ bigger than the finished size, mine is a 16″ finished cushion and the pieces are 16 1/2″ x 16 1/2″
Toy stuffing
A sewing machine is handy to have

Sew the squares together with a 1/4″ seam around 3 1/2 of the sides leaving half a side open.

Clip the stitched corners and turn inside out.

Fill with toy stuffing. IIf you like a plump cushion, put loads in, it’s up to you how big you make it!

Squish the stuffing away from the opening .Sew the opening shut with a running stitch, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Use pins to keep it together if yours is a fat cushion and remove them before your needle reaches them.

Ta da! My homemade one is at the front, the ready made one is behind it, see the difference?


Conversation Bag Tweaks

Have you seen the fantastic free pattern for the Conversation Bag over on Sew Sweetness?  I made one! It was also in the first issue of Modern Quilting which is where I worked from and where I saw it first and decided I MUST MAKE ONE.

If you fancy making one too I thought I’d pass on some tips and flag up some parts of the instructions I misinterpreted to prevent others from possibly doing the same (or it could have just been me being an idiot in some cases).

1) You need 34 charm squares, not 33 for the patchwork. I was 3x 2 1/2″ squares short when I made the panels up so I had to cut more.
2) The magazine says the interior side panels (both from interior fabric and interfacing) measure 15 1/2″ x 14″. This is a misprint, it should be 5 1/2″ x 14″. It is correct on the blog.
3) Fusing fabric together- Nothing is mentioned about the fusible fleece for the flap and I left mine out. You could do the same or fuse it on top of the heavy interfacing like it is supposed to be, the same as the patchwork side pieces. The blog is correct, it’s just the magazine again on this one.
4) After the patchwork the sewing allowances are 1/2″ NOT 1/4″. I did not know this til I finished the bag and looked at the blog instructions, which are correct.
5) When you’re putting the magnetic snap in and you “fold in half lengthways”, this means folding so that the two shortest edges are together. This took me an embarrassing length of time to figure out.
6) READ AHEAD on the outer pocket assembly. The top is the rounded edge but it doesn’t say this until after the snap is put in. So obviously I put mine in the wrong way round with the rounded corners at the bottom. That’s why mine has a lace detail… (this doesn’t matter for the blog instructions as ther shape has changed to a much easier rectangle)
7) The magazine says you align the flap with the topstitched interior main panel which is confusing. The blog has a helpful picture and omits the word “topstitched” which makes more sense. You are actually aligning it with the unfinished edge otherwise you will end up sewing your pocket up!
8) When sewing the zip, hand crank over the teeth. I broke two needles.
9) When you’re sewing the zip panel to the main pieces, do pin. I decided not to and my curves are not perfect.
10) It is really hard to sew the Y seams to join the bottom if- like me- you’re not used to 3D sewing, you have been warned!

Other than that though I would say don’t let me put you off. Go by the blog instructions– they’re a lot more accurate and there’s more step by step photos to guide you. It really opens your eyes to how bags are put together and you learn lots of things along the way. And of course you get a pretty bag at the end. It’s also an excellent way to use up scraps and give you an excuse to get a Big Shot with 2 1/2″ die….

I must say I love working with these handles, they really set the bag off and give me an excuse for hand sewing. I bought these from this Etsy shop.

Tutorial: Easy Peasy iPhone Pouch

I wanted to blog about a couple of things but they may have to remain secret. So I’ve broken my blog silence with a tutorial. I thought you might enjoy!

My original measurements were well out- any idea what I could use a mini pouch like this for? It’s 11cm tall so it could hold a couple of lipsticks…

So on to the tutorial!

Two 6″ x 4″ pieces of outer fabric
Two 6″ x 4″ pieces of lining fabric
One 4″ x 4″ piece of pocket fabric
Two 6″ x 4″ pieces of cotton wadding
A bit of buttonhole elastic
A button

1) Take the pocket piece and fold the top edge over by 1/8″ – 1/4″ and press. Fold over again and press. Then top stitch to hold your fold in place.

2) Position the pocket on the front piece with right sides up and sew the sides of the pocket into position as close to the edge of the fabric as you dare and definitely less that 1/4″ seam allowance.

3) Layer a lining piece and the top right sides together followed by a wadding piece and sew along the top of the pouch. Set aside.

4) Cut a piece of button hole elastic so that it will go round your button when you eventually sew it on, plus  1/2″ extra. Fold it in half. Find the middle of the top of the back piece of the fabric, layer with wadding underneath and position the elastic in the middle, raw edges matching. Sew across less than 1/4″ from the top, reverse over and then sew again to secure in place. Layer the lining piece right sides together and sew along the top as with the front piece.

5) Press open. Then, with right sides together, match the lining pieces together and the outer pieces and sew round the edge. I started 1/3 from the corner on the lining and finished 1/3 way past to leave 1/3 in the middle of the lining to turn it the right way round. Clip the corners and turn right side out through the lining gap.

6) Fold the lining raw edges into itself and sew close to the edge. You can whipstitch the opening by hand if you prefer- I’m just lazy! Fold the lining inside and press. Sew on a button to the front. Choose one a good size for the elastic.











Tutorial: Gelatin Printing on Fabric

I’m working on a mini quilt for the Brit Quilt swap and for the border squares I wanted to introduce a bit of personality. I could have put in some of the fabrics I’ve had printed with my designs but it wouldn’t fit in with the more abstract colour based design I’ve made so far. So I thought now would be the good opportunity for some gelatin printing!

You Will Need:
2 sachets of powdered gelatin or vege-gel (about 14-15g)
1 cup/235ml cold water
Saucepan and measuring jug
Wooden spoon
Flat bottom containers to be used as moulds
Plain cotton base fabric
Acrylic (or fabric) paints
Paintbrush (optional)
Scrap fabric

Note: This amount of gelatine made 2 plates about 1.5cm thick and 8cm wide. if you want to make a big plate, you could make it a little shallower and double the water and gelatine quantities.

1) Pour the water into the pan and sprinkle the gelatine on the surface. Let it soak in for a minute. Then heat.

2) Keep stirring the gelatine to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan and once boiling. Turn it off the heat and pour it into your containers. It’s important that the inside  bottom of the containers is smooth for a smooth print. If it has a slight ridge, this will transfer onto your fabric. You can always cut the moulded jelly down once it sets into other shapes if you prefer.

3) Make some space in your fridge (not helped by me doing a shop just before this tutorial) and pop them in there for a few hours to set.

4) Once set, pull carefully out of the moulds and let the gelatine warm up slightly to room temperature.

5)  Apply your paint to the jelly blob. You can just squeeze it on or brush it on. I’ve gone for a loose daisy shape.

6) Put the fabric over the top face down and smooth it out over the gelatine from the centre outwards. You might want to cover the back with a bit of kitchen roll just to protect your hands from paint coming all the way through the fabric.

7) Take off the fabric and leave to dry face up. Once dry, cover with scrap fabric and press with a hot iron to set the paint. You can then use it as you wish!

I managed to create a series of near identical prints by splodging on the paint rather than brushing it on, which leaves plenty of paint behind for more prints before adding more paint.

Let me know if you have a go at this and what you use it for!


Fundraiser update- so far I’ve raised £30 of £7500 as of today, so if you can spare £1, please visit the Help Me page. Thank you!


Tutorial- Customised Plastic Tags

These are tags I made for Sarah at Fripperies and Bibelots, however I’ve decided not to make these for sale anymore so I may as well pass on how I make them in case you want them for jewellery, maybe cards or even little zip pulls…

Printable shrink plastic
Printer and computer
Scissors or a punch in the shape you want
Hole punch
Scrap paper
Double sided tape
Clear varnish spray

1) Make your layout on the computer. I use Photoshop and make a grid to put the text into. For little biddy sized ones for jewellery tags, I make a 1″ square grid, you can make rows of text instead or change your grid to fit different shapes. If you are using a punch, make the grid fit the shape. Bear in mind that the colours will darken so print colours a bit lighter and things will shrink A LOT. I can get 50-60 tags from one sheet. Most sheets of shrink plastic for printing are US Letter Size, so make sure your document is set up for that too.

2) Now print it! Leave to dry for a minute of two.

3) Punch out your shapes from your sheet or cut out with scissors. Please note if you’re not doing circles that sharp corners will stay sharp when finished and mean a lot of effort sanding them down. You may prefer to do that or you might prefer to round your corners off. To use the punch, take off the bit that collects the punched out bits and use upside down so you can get your positioning right.

4)  Take off the bit catcher from the hole punch and use upside down in the same way to the first punch to make holes in the tops of your tags. Try to leave at least 2mm from the top or the holes may tear when strinking.

5) Preheat your oven to 150 degrees C.

6) Layout the shapes on a clean baking tray so that they don’t overlap.

7) Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 2-3 minutes. They will shrivel up and then lay flat again. If you overcook they will go a bit yellow so it’s worth keeping your eye on them. Also please don’t be offended by my dirty oven! The ones at the back seem to bake a bit slower so keep your eyes on those. Just before you take the tray out of the oven , you can use a spoon to push them down and flatten them out if you need to.

8) They will cool pretty fast, so after a minute or two you can start sticking them to a piece of scrap paper ready for varnishing. Use the most low tack double sided tape you can, repositionable tape would be excellent if there is such a thing. The power of the propellant in the varnish spray will blow all your tags away if you don’t stick them down. However if you prefer a gloss finish and you want to nail varnish them instead, you won’t need to do this bit.

9) Spray with varnish outside, assuming it isn’t raining out there. I use car lacquer spray from Halfords for mine. Let dry and spray again. Once dry, peel off the sheet straight away to avoid stickiness from the tape staying on the back.

Ta da! Attached to whatever you want with string, jump rings, etc, etc….


Savvy Star Bee Block Tutorial

So the UK Borders Agency Quilting Bee now has all the members it needs, and now I am working on my centre block. Well, sort of. I haven’t actually sewn it yet but we have a couple of weeks so I’ll probably do it on Sunday after the craft fair.

This is what I am planning on making- I’m not sure of its traditional name- and there’s bound to be one- I’m just calling it the Savvy Star for now. I’m going to go for bold colours but they may not exactly be these shades when I’m done. I’m probably going to use some baby blue Sherbet Pips dogs in the centre.

If you fancy stitching one up at the same time as me, you can find the templates here and here’s the instructions below… You could do it using freezer paper piecing if you prefer.


1) Trace the outer lines of the pattern pieces onto card or template plastic. For a one off block you can probably get away with printing, cutting out the paper pieces and pinning to your fabric and cutting out that way. Or if you’re feeling clever you could transfer the lines straight onto your fabric.

2) Cut out all the pieces from fabric using your templates- you will need 4x A, 4x B, 4x C, 4x D, 1x E, 4x F (or invert your C template and cut four) and 4x G. That’s a total of 25 pieces.

3) Make the centre block first. Align the corner pieces (marked D) and sew into place onto E. Always use a 1/4″ seam allowance otherwise the block won’t work!

4) Next, make up triangle blocks in the same way, making four pieces with B and C sewn together and four of  F and G.

5) Sew the BC and FG blocks together to make four rectangles.

6) Next, arrange in rows, so you will need to make the top row by sewing block A to a BCFG (making sure it’s the right way round- refer to the diagram if you’re not sure) and then to another A.

7) Continue the method with the middle row and then the bottom row, then stitch the rows together to complete.

Other option… You could paper piece this together by hand by making paper templates of the inner shapes and folding and stitching fabric around them before piecing together (here’s my way of doing English Paper Piecing)

EDIT: I have now completed the block!


Tutorial: Lazy English Paper Piecing Hexagons

I know a lot of you already know about stitching together hexies by hand. However I am surprised at the “conventional” way of doing it- so I’ve adapted it to work best for me (i.e. the laziest way possible). My way means you don’t stitch through the papers which makes them easy to remove- and reuse, and also it means you don’t need to have as many as you can remove paper as you go rather than all in one big time-consuming debarcle at the end.

Hopefully this will make quilts such as Grandmother’s Flower Garden a lot more accessible and you won’t get bored before you even start putting the pieces together!

So here we go.

Take your first paper hexagon (I print off my own and make maybe 20, but you might have shop bought ones or however you plan on doing it) and a square of fabric at least 1/4″ bigger on all sides. The fabric doesn’t need to be perfectly square or indeed perfectly hexagonal! Have a needle and thread ready.

Pin together with your fabric facing down and your paper on top. Or you could just grip it well like I have. Fold the fabric over the paper on one straight edge, then fold an adjacent edge over to wrap one of the corners. Stitch through the fabric that has been wrapped over at the corner (and the fabric only!). Whip over and stitch again so there’s two stitches. This is crucial to holding the fabric together in the correct shape.

Fold the next flat side down and stretch your thread over, making two stitches again in the same way. Continue all the way around. You might need to remove your pin halfway so you can work round the pin head but you’re sensible enough to figure that out 😉

So now you have your hexagon, you might want to make a few so we can join them. I tend to get bored after making about four or five.



Take two hexagons and decide what side you want them to join at. Place them faces together and with a teeny running stitch, sew them together as close to the fabric folds as possible. Pay extra special attention to the points where three hexagons meet- you may need a few extra stitches in there. Repeat with further hexagons. Make more of them if you like.

Once you get to the point where you have a hexagon completely surrounded by others and all six sides have another hexagon attached, you can slip out the paper of that hexagon and reuse it for another hexagon as you work outwards. No cutting, no tearing, no fuss!

(just pretend that the photo above has more hexagons round the edge)

My giveaway ends in just under 6 hours- if you happen to be reading this in time (which you probably aren’t given the length of time this tutorial will remain on the internet) then here’s that post if you want to try your luck!


Cut away applique tutorial

I’ve made a video on how I do cut away applique working from the reverse of the fabric. I call it reverse applique in the video but I don’t really mean that 😉 It’s by no means a masterpiece of the silver screen and the video angle does get better as it goes on I promise. Hopefully it will be useful still and not too boring. If it gets boring, just imagine I’m Kirsten O’Brien, it frightens me how much I sound like her on recordings…


Tutorial – Stitched Christmas Tree Cards


I’ve had a few tutorial posts recently, and here’s another! These cards are really quick and only take about 5 minutes to make, so they’re great if you need an emergency Christmas card. They’re dead easy so are a gentle introduction to patchwork.

Lots of little scraps of fabric, any shape and size
Sewing machine
Card blank
Fabric glue
Rotary cutter, ruler and mat (optional- you could use scissors instead)

1) With a running stitch, sew two scraps right sides together. Add pieces however you like as long as they’re against a relatively straight edge.

2) You can make new edges to add fabric to by trimming the piece at random before sewing another piece along the straight. Keep going until you’re happy, but you won’t need to make a very big piece.

3) Trim your fabric piece to a triangle shape, You could use a triangular ruler if you have one, or do it by eye as I did. Make sure it will fit on the front of your card, if not, reduce it down a little more.

4) Apply fabric glue to the back (don’t go overboard or it will seep through the fabric) and stick your triangle to the front of the card. Let dry for a few minutes.

5) Stitch to the card going along the edge with a nice big zigzag stitch on the sewing machine.

6) Glue on another scrap of fabric (I used leatherette) to make a tree trunk.

You could also add button baubles or a star shaped button or sticker to the top of your tree. Have fun!


Another quick tutorial- paper ephemera pendant

Following on from yesterday, I thought I’d do another mini-tutorial, this time using the glass cabs and settings from Beadcrafty. They are both 18mm x 22mm ovals so are compatible with each other, which means you can get the two essential parts from the same place.

You will need…

A bezel, a cab, a piece of paper for the image (scrapbook, ephemera, photograph, whatever!), scissors and Ranger Glossy Accents.

Squirt a bean sized amount of Glossy Accents onto the flat side of the cab and squish it down over the part of the paper you want in the necklace. Push it so that the glass goes clear again (Glossy Accents is cloudy when wet) and there are no trapped bubbles. Once happy with the position, wipe off the excess glue from the edges with a paper towel or a rag. Leave to dry for at least half an hour, preferably a few hours if you can spare them.

Cut around the cab close to the edge.

Squeeze a pea sized amount of glossy accents on the inside of the bezel and push it around with the nozzle to evenly coat it. Stick the glass piece on top.

I’ve got a few secret sewing projects going on for Christmas, so I can’t show you them just in case, but I will show you a bit of stippling I did yesterday on one of them. It was my first attempt at this, and I found it quite therapeutic- the texture is lovely. And I must say the pedal-less operation was particularly useful!