New Year…..New Design ideas!

It is a new year, the sales have encouraged you to buy more fabric and you are ready to start a new project. Do you now wonder what to do? Are you stuck for ideas? Would you like to design an art quilt? Well it isn’t too difficult. If you have an art program on your computer and you have some photos that you have taken which you find inspiring then why not spend an evening having fun and creating pictures that can be used as the basis for a piece of work.

I took this picture of apples and played around with it in Photoshop. But any art package will do similar stuff.

apples small

plastic wrap small

In the picture above I used a plastic wrap image which gave me some interesting textures without losing the shape of the apples. In the picture below I distorted the picture and changed the shape of it giving me an interesting background at the same time.

distort polar coordinates-smaller small

apple group liquify-smaller small

Here the apple picture was posturised and this not only distorted the picture but lost the apple shape while still retaining the individual apples merged together. This one was one of my favourite effects and I think one could do a lot with this picture.

However I ended up working this picture which combined a bit of all of the above pictures. I had a piece of hand-dyed cotton fabric which I used as a background to represent the table and then I cut out and placed apple shapes on top of the background. I then layered these with nets and machine stitched over the shapes to make the three dimensional effect that you see. Having machined in different coloured threads I then did some hand stitching in a bold wool to outline the apples and add interest and to accent the reflections of the apples in the polished table top.  This makes an interesting and lively wall hanging and wasn’t difficult to do once I had outlined the design I was going to follow.  Why don’t you do something similar. It is great fun!

finished piece small


Written by Val

Warm and wonderful fleece!

Fleece is the name of a fabric which has a pile, often a deep pile and is used for making various items of apparel such as sports wear and jackets; home decor items such as throws and rugs; and quilted items. It is a joy to sew with as it doesn’t fray and because of it’s composition mistakes don’t show. Well not as much as they would on cotton!

Fleece is so lovely and cosy that it makes you want to snuggle up in it! There are so many lovely colours and patterns that one is spoilt for choice.  I like to use fleece for backings on quilts, especially cot quilts as  this makes them so tactile and warm for a baby or toddler.  Also a cot quilt could be made using the raggedy edge technique where the seams are on the outside of the work and are brushed to form a ragged edge.  flannels

Another use for fleece is to back table mats and table runners to stop them slipping on polished surfaces.  And with wadding between the fleece and the top fabric they give the article a solid feel which for table wear is good!

I have used fleece to make slippers and scarves and these are so quick to sew. Scarves can be turned out by the dozen they are so quick to make.  Cut the fleece the length you want the scarf to be by twice the width. Fold it in half lengthwise and seam the open edges together. Turn inside out and stitch across the ends sewing a fringe on if wished to add decoration.  So quick!  And patterns for simple slippers can be found on the internet for free. Just do a search for fleece slippers! Other good things to make with fleece are mittens to keep those fingers warm in the icy weather and hats.  There are so many free patterns on the internet that you will be spoilt for choice.

And with Christmas just around the corner use some of the Christmassy fleece to make stockings for the kids or Santa Sacks to hold all the presents!

Reindeer flannel

This is one of the Christmassy fleece fabrics and it is such fun!  I can see it made into a warm and cosy robe for a little one to wear on Christmas morning! And other mornings of course!  And this and the other fleeces in the shop would be ideal for making hot water bottle covers.  A quick way to make a cover is to take a piece of fleece and draw around the outside of your hot water bottle with chalk leaving an inch for seam allowance.  That will be the back. Now draw around again but when you have drawn half way up the sides from the bottom on both sides move the bottle up 4 inches and continue drawing the shape.  Now cut out both your shapes. One will be larger than the other. Cut the larger one across about 1/3 of the way down.  On these two cut edges make a hem and stitch with contrasting thread!  Now lay the first bottle shape out with the RS facing up.  Place the top of the second piece RS down onto this first piece and then lay the rest of the second piece down overlapping it with the top piece.  So you now have two pieces of fleece right sides together with an overlapped piece on one side.  Sew all the way around.  Turn inside out!  Now put the hot water bottle inside throught the lapped opening.  The lapped opening will fit over the bottle so that it is all enclosed. This is such a quick and easy method that you can make lots of them for Christmas presents.  And if you applique animal shapes or flowers onto the bottom of the front kids will love them. Another idea is to applique the initial of the person on the front and then everyone will know which is theirs!   And for the men in your life why not make them in tartan fleece. Tartan is all the rage at the moment so you can’t go wrong!

flannel tartan

And this tartan fleece would make lovely capes and body warmers too!  Or even a onesie!  If you haven’t used fleece before do try it as it is wonderful stuff.  Even a beginner to sewing can have fun with it!  By the time Christmas day arrives you can have a plethora of hand made goodies to give away! Or even to keep for yourself!


Written by Val


Lots of New Fabric! and a useful block pattern!

We have so much new fabric arriving at the Sewing Studio that we don’t know where to put it!


Slowly but surely it will all go out onto the shop floor. It is really lovely and makes the mouth water. We have ranges to match some of the pre-cuts which means that projects can be updated with larger pieces and patchwork designs can incorporate both pre-cuts and matching fabric cut by the metre. Some of the designs are Ducks in a Row by designer American Jane and Hubba Hubba from designers Me and My Sisters, all from Moda Fabrics and  Lewe the Ewe by designer Susie B. Lewe the Ewe is a really quirky fabric with pictures of sheep in different settings.


A great fabric for kids patchwork items! The Ducks in a  Row collection of fabric designs  has some really retro designs among the range and some very simplistic colours making it ideal for mixing and matching


I love this lovely owl fabric!


Fly foot and puzzle

The above is a very useful joint block pattern. It consists of a Fly Foot patchwork block and a Dutchman’s Puzzle patchwork block. It is very easy to do and is very effective. It would look good in some of the new Ducks in a Row Fabric.  I used hand-dyed plain fabrics from Farne Designs with a pretty flower print. The blocks here have been made at 16 inches and the binding is 2 inches finished width making a small quiltlet measuring 36 x 36 inches. A very good size for a throw! The Fly Foot block is made up of different half square triangle patches and the Dutchman’s Puzzle uses the Flying Geese patch.  They work together very well!

Written by Val