Saturday, 18 November 2017

Sewing World December 2017 - A giveaway

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The latest issue of Sewing World magazine is out in shops now. Packed full of beautiful projects it is a must buy! There are lots of sweet quick makes that would be perfect for Christmas gift ideas. 

I also have a project in this months issue (thats the 9th time this year I have been featured in Sewing World, yay!). I really hope you like it, its one of my most favourite to date! I used the stunning traditional Hungarian Kalocsa style of embroidery to design my free machine embroidered purse.
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You can order your copy here. And connect with Sewing World to see more here:


But I have one copy (complete with the free cover pattern) to give away to a reader. Simply comment below to be in with a chance and I will draw a winner on 23 November using a random generator, please be sure you are not a no-reply commenter. For an extra chance to win head over to my Instagram and comment there on my giveaway post too.

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Monday, 13 November 2017

Happy as a Clam. When R & D meets R & R

Sometimes being creative can be a drain. The constant demand for new ideas can actually block the flow of inspiration and the deadlines and work that come with creating new patterns for publishing can mean there is little time left to actually play, think or dream of new projects.

So you just have to hit pause. Which is exactly what I have been doing for a couple of weeks. Don't get me wrong, there has been no rest! But rather a little respite from the deadlines and compulsory sewing and writing.

It has given me the chance to play a little and in doing so I have found new ideas for work. How lucky can one be when the research and development of new projects actually can be playing with fabric and having fun?!

One idea I have been wanting to try for a long time is some machine appliqué clamshells. One evening a stack of the new Tilda Cottage Collection was calling to me, I was in a festive mood and it has some perfect christmasy coloured prints.

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I used my tried and tested technique for turning under the raw edges of the clams and then machine appliquéd them to a linen base. You will have to excuse the poor finishing of the clams, this was certainly a case of the head working faster than my hands! I was in such a hurry to get the idea out of my head and tested that this was only ever intended as a practice piece. Of course, I couldn't resist finishing the piece and turning it into something useful! I just made up enough clams to cover the base of my scrap of linen and I let this this determine the size of the pouch.

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A quick bit of hand embroidery, add some lining, wadding and a zip and I have a zippy pouch. For the hand embroidery I printed out the wording I wanted using my computer and traced it on using my lightbox and a Frixion marker as I never trust my poor handwriting to do it freehand.

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I always print a few different sizes on the sheet so that I can choose the one that has the best fit when I hold it up to the project rather than having to go back and forth trying different ones.

I squared up and trimmed the embroidered outer and then cut the linen backing, lining and wadding pieces all to the same size. The linen outer allows the pretty Tilda prints to do all the talking, I really love how these prints can be so festive but without a hint of christmas images in them.

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For the lining I used a salvaged piece of stripe shirting. I love how its simplicity is the perfect match for the outer. I used Vlieseline 279 cotton mix wadding which gives the pouch a little structure but a lovely soft handle.

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I do hope in the run up to Christmas there will be more time for me to play but for now I must get my head down and meat my end of year deadlines! I hope you all get the chance to work on some pretty and frivolous projects too, all work and no play is good for no one!

Stockist enquiries for the Tilda fabric which was supplied by Groves Ltd can be made by contacting groves@stockistenquiries.co.uk where they will be happy to assist you. The wide range of Vlieseline products can be found at Lady Sew and Sew and Six Penny Memories.


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Friday, 13 October 2017

Santa Claus is coming to town

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I have to hold my hands up right now and confess, 95% of the decorating I do at Christmas is for me, not my children, not my visitors, but me. I love to create a winter wonderland and my discovery of the Tilda Dolls last year took this magic to a whole new level.

Last year I made a beautiful Tilda Santa complete with traditional red velvet coat and white fur trimming. He was a joy to make, but he seemed a bit lonely. So earlier this year I made a wonderful fur polar bear from the book Tildas Winter Delights, there are several sizes and I have already had demands for a tiny one from my girls. Then I found out that alongside the new Cottage Collection Tilda were releasing a Patchwork Santa Kit.

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I couldn't resist, Patchwork AND Christmas all in one Santa? Yes please!

The kit comes with everything you need to make the Santa (except wadding and Stuffing, more on that in a minute). It has complete illustrated step by step instructions that cover the construction of the doll and the patchwork coat. You are of course free to make you own tweaks to the design and the kit comes with a generous amount of fabric so that you can add any extra accessories you may wish - miniature patchwork santa sack anyone?!

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I found the doll pretty easy to make over a couple of days. There are a few fiddly tasks, like turning and stuffing the thin legs and arms, here I found the wooden stick provided in the kit very helpful. I also found holding the legs and arms in place whilst trying to sew them to the body a little awkward, but my Clover appliqué pins were very useful. Their tiny size means you can put a few in that you just wouldn't have room for with normal pins. I also found Gutermann Hand Quilting thread great for attaching the limbs, it has the extra strength you need to be able to put quite a lot of tension on the thread without breaking and attaches the limbs securely.

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My previous Tilda doll had taught me that standard wadding like the kind I use in my quilts just won't work for the doll clothing. Despite being low loft quilters wadding it was just too dense and thick for the tiny seams and particularly the underarm area, causing puckering no matter how much clipping of the seam I did. This time I tried Vlieseline's Thin Fleece 248 which is an incredibly lightweight and low volume batting.

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It was the perfect match! I am so glad I found this and I will certainly be using it for all my future Tilda Dolls, alongside the Deco-Wadding also from Vlieseline which is my absolute favourite doll stuffing. It is so fine you don't get the lumpiness you sometimes run the risk of with cheap poly stuffing.

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Because the kit came with such a generous amount of fabric I was lucky enough with some savvy cutting to have quite a bit left. I couldn't resist using the leftover 'doll skin' fabric to make a couple of cute reindeer. I used the free pattern on the Tildas World Blog for the Tiny Egg Hares  and just added some little stick antlers. There is a pattern for large reindeer in the book Homemade and Happy but I think these tiny ones are adorable and will look wonderful tucked away around the house at Christmas.
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I didn't make many changes to the original design of the Patchwork Santa, I just added a little bell on the end of his hat and some little bows on his socks/boots.

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The Kit and fabrics used were supplied by Groves Ltd and stockist enquiries can be made by contacting them at groves@stockistenquiries.co.uk where they will be happy to assist you. The wide range of Vlieseline products can be found at Lady Sew and Sew.

I hope I have inspired you to have a go at doll making, after all they are not just for children, or indeed just for Christmas! When they are this beautiful you want to enjoy them year round and the fabulous kits mean you can have all the supplies you need in one easy purchase. In the mean time I am off to work on another Santa that I am part way through, this time he has a lot of intricate needle turn appliqué adorning his coat....I know, I'll be able to hold the Annual Tilda Santa convention soon ;-)

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Tilda Cottage Collection & Stitched Sewing Organisers


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Inspiration is all around us and Christmas is one time of year I just can't contain my creativity. I love to fill my home with handmade decorations, quilts and cushions, home baked treats and handpicked foliage. Of course I love to make gifts to share too with friends and loved ones. All of this decorating and crafting means I have to be organised in my approach. I like to keep lists of gifts to make and buy, jot down notes for recipes and keep all my festive crafting supplies organised together so they are easily accessible.

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The new Tilda Cottage collection arrives at the perfect time, just when I am allowing myself to begin the preparations for the festive season. It is serendipitous that one of my favourite pattern designers Aneela Hoey is also having a blog hop for her superb book, Stitched Sewing Organisers. So I decided to get a head start on my holiday preparations by making up some sweet storage for my craft supplies.

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I used the Handy Fold Up Pouches pattern to make a little storage case for my threads I'm using in a new project (pop back later in the week to see which project it is!) I love the genius of this pattern, Aneela is so clever in her construction techniques. This little project took me 15 minutes, no wonder that I have several of them already made up for various uses! They also make darling gift pouches and in the Tilda Cottage fabric they really are adorable, the sweet little ditsy prints are prefect in this small project.

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I also used one of the larger scale prints from the Cottage collection with some Mod Podge to up-cycle a lovely strong cardboard storage tray I had been saving (it is the box that my amazing rechargeable led hand sewing lamp came in, the lamp has been a revelation in cosy evening sofa stitching!). It is amazing what a little glue, a scrap of fabric and an old box can make.

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I added a sweet little spool handle to the tray, made with a tiny Tilda wooden spool wrapped in some red thread and secured with some DMC Memory Thread. The box is perfect for storing my hand sewing threads in.

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There are four colourways in the Cottage Collection, all with the perfect balance of Tilda's signature large and small scale prints that make the fabric so versatile.

You can shop the Tilda Cottage Collection over at Past and Presents (they have free UK shipping!) as well as the gorgeous new Tilda book Sewing By Heart and the quilt pattern and kits that accompany the new Cottage Collection - more on those later in the week!

You can also find some adorable free projects and pattens over on the Tildas World Blog which is full of charm and inspiration. I am planning the most adorable project using the Tiny Egg Hares pattern that I can't wait to show you!

If you would like more details on the Stitched Sewing Organisers blog hop you can find the full schedule, prizes and details here.

All fabrics used were supplied by Groves Ltd and stockist enquiries can be made by contacting them at groves@stockistenquiries.co.uk where they will be happy to assist you.

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Monday, 21 August 2017

Tilda Harvest Collection

As the long summer days start to wane and the days draw in it inevitably leads us to harvest time. Long hours of toil to collect the years bounty when it is at its very best, hours of sunshine stored up in corn, fruits and vegetables. Then of course there is the labour of preparing it all for winter keeping, drying, bottling, preserving. I have already begun to build up my little cache of bottled summer - rhubarb cordial, raspberry jam, elderberry cheese. I love preserving and opening a jar filled with summer and goodness in the depths of winter. Traditionally these tasks would have brought the whole family together, working to prepare the larder to serve them throughout the cold months and there might even have been a little celebration when the work was done.

This autumn there is even more reason to be cheerful because Tilda is releasing a brand new line called 'Harvest'.



I think this is my favourite collection yet, its the colours that are reminiscent of those gorgeous glistening jars of preserves and cordials, the deep blues that come with the indian summer skies in September, the rich tones you only see on those late summer evenings when the light is just so that it seems to awaken a new depth of colour in the world.

The deliciously rich palette is full of designs depicting birds, wild berries and cabbage flowers. To complement the fabric range there is a delightful kit to make a fox as well as a ready-made cat and dog that are so adorable you’ll be tempted to make some sweet little clothes for them using the Tilda friend patterns that now include a snazzy new anorak design. 
There’s also a gorgeous selection of beautifully coordinated buttons that are perfect for home and fashion embellishments and, for those who love making cushions and throws, there is a beautiful quilt pattern that’s bound to entice you.
If you enjoy paper crafting you’ll love the autumn leaf motif for paper-piece applique so you can produce your very own autumnal scene.

Tildas World have produced a beautiful lookbook for the collection, packed with inspiration and ideas, view it here.


 I know I will be making the pumkins from the new book Sewing By Heart and hopfully I will find time to make the pumpkin quilt too, having a halloween birthday in the family I am always excited to find new seasonal projects!





So it looks like I will not only be spending my autumn stocking the larder but also filling the home with quilts and fabric goodness to keep us warm and cosy throughout the winter. You can shop the full collection over at Pretty Fabrics and Trims.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Chill the Bubbly!

Celebrating over 1 Million views on my first Youtube video, now thats pretty epic! 🍾🎉







Ive got lots of new published works to share with you too, I will swing by soon with at the details!

Friday, 3 February 2017

PJ Masks Toys - Nurse Owlette, Cowboy Gekko, Pirate Catboy

This was a lot of fun (probably too much) to put together. Don't know what PJ Masks are? Ask your 5/6 year old. (Staring Me!)





Friday, 27 January 2017

A Star is Born - My Youtube adventure & how it happened

Back in October last year I took a very large leap into the unknown world of Youtube.







I had already done a fair amount of TV work with the great team at Craft Daily TV and I was comfortable in front of the camera by now. I really enjoy sharing my knowledge, sewing is something I am SO passionate about and this way I could reach a much wider audience than through just my classes - and it was fun!






However, Youtube was a whole different kettle of fish. No cameraman, no director, not even a make up artist! But it was a great idea that was too good not to try and give my best shot. Luckily for me the brains behind the operation really knows his stuff and guided me through the learning of this new medium with encouragement and support. Andy Robertson is the husband of one of my very closest sewing besties. He is the Producer of Family Gamer TV and a freelance journalist. He had the skills necessary to get this project off the ground! His idea was to marry together my sewing skills and knowledge with my presenting experience along with his broadcasting and family gaming expertise. We would start with a simple project, a baby outfit made to emulate the toys that accompany the fun new Disney show PJ Masks. I knew it was going to have at least some interest on Youtube when my kids treated me like a rock star for having access to this!


So armed with an assortment of low-tech filming equipment, a semi-decent iPhone, a sewing machine and some hot of the press, yet to be released cult children toys (seriously these things are more desirable to children than pancakes and ice cream for breakfast in a fort built from duvets!) I prepared to launch my new career in Youtube stardom! The plan was a simple, fun and engaging video for kids and their parents. This wasn't going to be an expert instructional technical video for sewers wanting to advance their skills. It was going to be exciting, aspirational and would interest anyone, not just those who were already adept at sewing.

I soon found that rather than feeling lost without the support of a cameraman, director and runner (although there were drawbacks which I will cover) I felt more relaxed and comfortable. Once I found my groove the 'takes' flowed well, I only had my internal 'script' to worry about, if I deviated I didn't need to check this was ok with anyone. I found the process more natural and if I did make any mistakes, there was no need to worry - I could do as many takes as I liked, it was only my time I was using. Learning to be both presenter and cameraperson was the only steep learning curve, and the only time I wished for an extra pair of hands. I quickly found I have a deeply ingrained inclination to hold my work very close to me when sewing, I like to see what I am doing! So it was with some effort I learnt to hold the work more at arms length, eventually I was getting shots where I had the work centred nicely (and not out of shot like early takes!) in focus and without my head in the way, perfect.

The shots where I required additional angles such as close ups to show detail meant sometimes filming the same process several times. I have covered this before and it was no problem, I am used to having many samples for filming to cover all the different shots required, after all you don't want to be unpicking something so you can re-sew it for a second shot and you certainly can't un-cut some fabric! The problem came in that I was used to having a cameraman, he would set up the next shot while I set up the next sample to take the footage of the same action from an alternative angle. Filming myself, I obviously had to cover both of these jobs and there was some degree of back and forth from overhead to close up which did use up a lot of setting up time. No major issue, just something to factor in when planning the production of any future videos.

Once I had shot all of the required 'scenes' I handed the reels of footage over to Andy for the second stage in the process - editing. I am immensely grateful to Andy for the absolute wizardry he worked on my footage and me. He turned my rough takes into fun, lively and professional content. I count myself very lucky that I am able to stick to what I know best and covering the sewing and presenting side, after all it is just like teaching a class but with no-one in the room, and leave the technical production of the video to Andy. I am really grateful to him for the opportunity to have a go at this exciting new way to present what I love doing, of course I am also massively grateful to Jo for marrying him because without that there wouldn't be any of this!

We launched the video in October, just in time for Halloween which was perfect as the video was a baby costume - what could be cuter at Halloween than your baby brother or sister dressed up as your favourite show character?! I had no expectations, I felt that I had spent a few days working on this and it wasn't the end of the world if there was not a receptive audience for it, but that a few days was a worthwhile investment just incase it might possibly be popular. We watched the number of views slowly but steadily grow. My kids would check in daily after school to see how it was doing, in their eyes their favourite 'Youtubers' are stars and my youngest even lists this in her aspirational careers for the future! In their eyes I had already 'made it' which is as much as I could ask for and I was so happy to see the pride on their faces as they watched the video. And then, it surpassed all my hopes, the numbers gained momentum and the views kept rising. To date there have been over half a million views. HALF A MILLION!

I am very proud and amazed. I am very grateful to all those half a million people for watching and validating the time I had spent working on the project. I am excited to say that there is now a second video out right now!




I would love to know what you think of the new release and you can check out more exciting videos over at the Family Gamer TV Channel, its not just for kids!


Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Happy New Year! Happy New Tilda Collection! Introducing Bumblebee

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year for 2017, may it be full of crafting and creativity, fun and delight in whatever you do.

I am really excited to start the new year with a bang and introduce the newest Tilda collection, Bumblebee.



Tilda's world revealed the new collection at the very start of the year and it is available for pre-order now and will be in shops from Mid January - "The Bumblebee collection is soft, sweet and full of flowers and beloved bees and bumblebees. A happy colour palette reminds us of light and delightful spring days"


I just adore the tiny bees and I know this is a collection that is going to be so fun to work with! I have a couple of new releases coming out with Sewandso.co.uk in this collection that I can't wait to share with you, I will be back soon with them! 



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