It’s here ….below you will find my Magic Squares Quilt Pattern.
It was always my intention when I wrote this pattern that I would offer it for free. The topic of free patterns came up when I met a fellow designer last month. She fully believes that the sewing pattern market is devalued by patterns being offered for free, whereas I believe that offering some patterns for a short time for free is a good thing to encourage people to try something new. So here it is. It is available until Christmas and will then be removed. If I could ask you to do one thing …. if you download the pattern, then please sign up for my newsletters via the contact page on this website, and instead of sharing the pattern, please share this page and ask your friends to download it and also sign up for the newsletters.
At the weekend, the Saturday girls and I made reusable wipes as Christmas Gifts… The circles we used were 4″ in diameter. I created a video of the process to make the wipes and next week I’ll do the same for the bag. The idea is the mesh bag that is made to gift the wipes in is used to collect the dirty wipes and can later be put into the washing machine to hold the wipes as they are washed! Genius! 🙂
This is a little bit different than my normal TipTuesday messages, but as we approach Christmas and I rack my brain as to what gifts I can buy my friends and family, I am constantly looking for new ideas and presents that will have meaning throughout the year. An annual membership of the Quilters Guild is a wonderful present for anyone interested in sewing, patchwork, and quilting whether they are beginners or have more experience. There are also packages for Teen and Young Quilters as well.
What I get out of the Quilters Guild is soooo much, so I thought I would list it in my own words…..
As this is a national organisation, I am able to link with other members of the Guild across the United Kingdom to share and gain ideas about my work and what I plan to do next. Sometimes just seeing other peoples work will inspire you – it does me! Now that the Guild has embraced social media this is such an easy way to see and share ideas.
The Guild is broken down into regions within the UK and each region has it’s own events making it a great vehicle for face to face meeting with new friends and learning opportunities during the year.
“The Quilter” is the quarterly magazine of the Quilters Guild which you will receive as a member and it is absolutely jam-packed with interesting articles and information about Quilting in the UK and around the world. I can honestly say that it is the only magazine I am guaranteed to read from cover to cover.
Also, as a Guild member, you are able to join specialist groups – there are 5 groups, for Modern Quilting, Traditional Quilting, Minature Quilts, British Study Group, and Contemporary Quilting. What I have learned about these groups is that they are full of people just like me and you – not super duper experts. They are also very welcoming to new members and will provide you with lots of ideas and inspiration for your own work. They have their own meetings and ‘challenges’ which once again will augment your overall experience and learning.
As a Guild Member, you are able to show your work at their exhibitions within your region, nationally and internationally. It may be that you think that this isn’t for you. However, I can’t describe the pride you will have in showing your own work or that of a small group of you. It is fun and a good challenge. Don’t discount that you may want to do this.
As a Guild member, you will also get advance booking opportunity for the Festival of Quilts and all the workshops and classes there. This is invaluable. As the interest in patchwork and quilting booms, many of the classes at the Festival of Quilts sell out within the first days so being able to book ahead of everyone else gives you the choice of all the amazing classes on offer.
Also, as a Guild Member, you will get discounted prices for Guild events, the Festival of Quilts and many shops around the UK
I also enjoy knowing that my membership fees are going towards preserving quilting heritage, providing support for bursaries and awards as well as supporting the work of the Young and Teen Quilters in the UK.
All this is £46 a year … That is less than the average price for 4m of fabric a year or 1 1/2 Cappuccinos at Costa each month. It is also comparable with many of the commercial magazine subscriptions (and I definitely believe you will get FAR more from the Guild). I have built my knowledge of Patchwork and Quilting over the past 5 years and have used much of the talent and the resources within the Guild to do so.
So if you are interested in joining this fabulous organisation – the link is below – for you to send to Santa!
Subscription form -> https://www.quiltersguild.org.uk/members/subscribe
I am lucky to be in the position to see the advent panels from many of the fabric suppliers in the Summer months, which means I can order them ahead of time. Two weeks ago a bold of gorgeous advent panels arrived from Dashwood Fabrics. I have some new Junior Sewing Bees this year who will love making these up, but it is always good to have one ready-made for them to follow.
Most advent panels will be exactly like this – so if the one you have bought is a little different, the process is likely to be the same.
Panels generally come with instructions written on them. Following these instructions will get you to the stage of the panel sewn-up with no wadding or backing. Normally the panel is split into two parts, one that has the background of the panel and the other which has the pockets ready to be cut out on it. For the pockets, depending on the design of your panel you will cut out a strip of pockets or a single pocket. For my 2018 Dashwood panel, I had 5 strips of pockets to cut out. Read the instructions carefully so that you cut around the right lines.
Once your pockets are cut out, the normal next step is to iron down a hem on the top and bottom of the pocket or pocket strip and then go on and sew them he down on the top of the pockets or pocket strips. Next, the fold in the pocket needs to be ironed in place. For a single pocket, all that may be needed is a hem ironed down on each side of the pocket (meaning all sides are now folded over with the top one also sewn down). If you have a strip of pockets as I did, you will need to create box pleats between each of the pockets (as seen below) and then the ends are simply turned under.
Whichever way you need to iron the pockets, the next stage is to pin them on the other background piece and sew around them (side-bottom-side). If you are using pocket strips, you will also need now to sew a line to create divisions between the pockets on your strips. This is quick and easy to do and there is a printed line to follow.
With the panel now complete with the pockets on the background, you can now trim around the background as directed in the instructions. It is important to keep the panel as large as possible when you trim it as it will become smaller again when it is completed.
To give the calendar more body I used fusible wadding to iron onto the back. I only ever use fusible wadding for small projects, like bags, purses and calendar. It is pretty useless for larger projects. Once the wadding is ironed onto the back of the calendar use this combined piece as a template to cut out fabric for the back of the calendar. I used a Dashwood Flurry in Cream as it is in the same colour range as the panel itself.
At this point, I also added in some ribbon to create loops to hang the calendar from. I used four 8″ strips of 3/4″ ribbon. I fold them in half and placed them equidistant along the top of the calendar with the loop/fold pointing inwards and down onto the calendar (opposite to the way you may think they need to go). The backing fabric is then placed on top, with right sides together, and then sewn around with a small gap left for turning. The calendar is then turned the right way out, pressed and then topstitch all the way around, tucking-in and closing-up the turning gap.
Voila! We are ready to pop in some chocolate coins for each day of Advent.
Sometimes a challenge can get the creative ideas flowing and a month or so ago my Saturday Morning class were set a challenge, to create a small piece of work, based on one of four pictures of places special to me. There were of St Basil’s Basilica in Red Square, the Isle of Skye, the Dead Sea in Israel or the Blue Mountains in Australia. All places I had visited for the first time in my teens or 20s that I just loved and still do.
I wanted the girls to look at the colours and mood of the pictures, not necessarily the composition, and use small pieces of fabric to create a modern mini quilt top – about the size of a large placement. Using just plain fabric would be a good start, but to add to this, and give their mini quilts ‘movement’, we decided to give ice dyeing a go. Although I dye frequently for myself, I’d only ice-dyed once before – so it was an adventure for all of us!
We started with fabric which had no manufacturing residues on it. If you give any fabric a good wash in a machine it should be fine. I like to used Egyptian cotton which has a high thread count and arrives ready for dyeing. There is no need to dye large pieces – in fact, the pieces we were dyeing were around fat quarter-ish size in area.
I prepared a soda ash solution*, which is a fixing agent, ahead of time and let it cool. Each piece of fabric was soaked in the soda ash solution and wrung out. Then it was up to each individual how to arrange their piece. They could fold, pleat, scrunch, roll or twist their fabric pieces. We then secured the folded fabric with a couple of elastic bands. The fabric bundles were placed on a metal rack (I used a cooling rack) which was suspended over the sink. This is so that as the ice melts, the fabric isn’t sitting in a pool of mixed up dyes. The dye that isn’t soaked into the fabric just drips off the metal tray.
We then covered the pieces completely in ice. It can be hard to get the ice to stay on top of your mounds of fabric so crushed ice can be easier if you get into trouble. Once completely covered (and with gloves on), we used 1/2-3/4 teaspoon of three or four power dyes (I used Procion MX dye) sprinkled
over the ice. The colour of dyes was chosen on the basis of what we had and what fitted with the mood of the picture we would be working with. As there were 5 people dying 10 bits – all of which were on one rack – we expected some crossover of dyes as the ice melted – which was another element of excitement for us. Finally, we sprinkled 4 tablespoons of salt onto the ice. This was to help the dye fix into the fabric rather than wash away later.
This was then left for 24 hours, for the ice to melt and the dye to settle into the fabric bundles, at the end of 24 hours, once again with gloves on, the bundles were unwrapped and rinsed in very hot water and placed in washing machine where they were all washed together on a quick 30 minute was with normal washing detergent.
…. and…….this was the outcome. We were thrilled!
Now the next stage could begin – they were going to start to compose their pieces!
*I used 10 teaspoons of soda in 500ml of hot water. Be very careful when you dissolve the soda ash. Always wear gloves, do this in a well-ventilated room and do not inhale the gas that is generated. Just a few precautions and you will be fine. Always follow the soda ash manufacturers instructions to the letter. If you have any of this solution left afterwards, then store it in an airtight container, label the container (very important) and store it for the next time.
Happy Sewing …… Gill
Note: All Gill’s Child/Teen sewing classes are full at this time. To go onto a waiting list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
I saw these eggs in a post on a North American website. They looked great and as well as being a timely project as we head towards Easter this year, I liked the three dimensional look of the fabric pieces… Thinking ahead I could imagine that the owl in the Senior Girls entry into the Festival of Quilts this year could usefully apply this technique.
The most taxing part of making the eggs was sourcing the Styrofoam eggs themselves. It is easy to buy oodles of little eggs, but finding solid eggs that are 4″/10cm or bigger is difficult and consequently expensive. Anyhow, I did find them on Amazon, but for about £4 each including shipping, I have now sourced them cheaper .. The smaller eggs are obviously cheaper still and will be quicker and easier for the smaller girls to manage. Solid eggs >15cm seem only to be sold in the US..maybe I could get a friend to send some over … but then maybe I am going egg crazy !
Once you have your Sytrofoam eggs, then you will need 300 or so cheap dressmaking pins (the ones with the tiny steel head) and pieces of fabric cut 2″ x 3″. I used three different fabrics for both eggs. To start, you need to mark the centre of the top (narrower end) of your egg. Then fold one of your rectangles over by about 1/8″-1/4 ” and drag your nail down the fold to create a crease.Now fold the fabric rectangle again along the longest side and create another. This should allow you to see where the centre point is along that fold.
At the top of this mark, place a pin through the fabric and into the egg, just a tiny (incey wincey) amount below the centre dot you marked earlier on your egg. You now fold the edges of the fabric down and overlap them slightly and pin them, and finally secure the other points of the formed fabric triangle with two additional pins. Now repeat this again, placing the fabric directly opposite the first piece. Then fill the gaps either side of the pieces 1 and 2.
To create the next row needs a little measurement. The point of the first triangle in row 2 should be 3/8″ below the point of the first triangle in row 1.
When I was making my eggs, I did do the measuring for row 2, but after that I just guessed and all went well .. so don’t despair.. throw away the tape measure once your confidence builds. Creating rows down the eggs just continues in this way. As you get close to the bottom on the egg, you will find that some of the pins are visible and no longer hidden. When this happens, you can fold the tails of your triangles to hid the pins. When you get to the last row, finish your egg with a piece of material over the tail ends and hold it in place with pins, but this time you can put the pin through a sequin to give a more polished final piece.
There are lots of designs I have thought up. Instead of working all the way down the egg, stop half way and build the egg up from the bottom (fat end) and then put a ribbon or piece of material around the centre where they join… this has quite a Faberge look about it. Another thought would be to use a larger final piece in the shape of a flower which comes up the side of the egg, this would look a little more acorn like. This technique can be used for Christmas decorations too…
I will be using my eggs as part of an Easter display, hanging from branches in a vase on my dining room table (sounds naff but will look GORGEOUS !)… when I finish the display, I will post a picture ! For now, I will be holding a class on making eggs on Monday 30th March, from 7pm-10pm £25pp including all materials to make 3 eggs each (one large-120mm and 2 small-70mm).