It is always useful to have some creative projects ready to go at any time of the year and this post is JAM-PACKED with ideas
If you need a reminder on how to set up your sewing machine? Click here for my latest video on getting you started.
- Rope Bowls
These are fun and cheap to make!! Once you have made one, you will be hooked.
What you need
- 10-15m of cotton rope (uncoated washing line is perfect – or 6mm piping cord), you will need to get your machine needle through it – so avoid solid plastic cores.
- Jeans or Leather Sewing machine needle (a size 90 would be great) – These are easy to buy from a fabulous British shop John James.
- Thread (you will need a couple of spools of thread and two wound bobbins)
- Sewing machine
- Fabric scraps cut into 1” x 5” rectangles (optional)
- Glue stick (optional)
How to do it
Watch me demonstrate how to make a rope bowl here.
2. Fantastic Pencil Case
Gather together scraps of fabric, two pieces of wadding (or an old tea t
What you need
- Scraps of fabric
- Two pieces of base material (wadding, tea towel etc) cut to 10” x 8”
- 12” zip
- Sewing Machine
How to do it
This is such a popular project that I have written a tutorial for it which is attached below.
3. Reusuable Make Up Wipes
This easy project has gripped my sewing classes for weeks. They have made them for themselves, for family members and wrapped them up as gifts.
What you need
- Absorbent natural material. I have used bamboo Terry Towelling fabric, but microfibre cloths from the pound shop would work just as well. See what you can find. Good ideas don’t need to be expensive!
- Wadding or an old tea towel to give the wipe structure.
- Fabric scraps
- Paper (A4 sheet or anything to make a pattern with)
- Circular item (to draw around – a tin of baked beans is good)
- Sewing machine
How to do it
For each circular
4. Drawstring Bags
These are really useful, versatile bags to make. You can fill them with toiletries, sweets or presents. You could even get ahead of the game for family birthdays or Mothers Day. They can also be scaled to any size.
What you need
- Exterior fabric 2 pieces 6” X 8.5” (for bag outer) and 2 pieces 2” x 5” (for ribbon casing)
- Lining Fabric 2 pieces 6” x 8.5”
- Ribbon – 2 pieces ribbon 15” long ( ¾” wide ribbon is about right)
- 2 large wooden beads (optional)
How to do it
Below is my cheat sheet on making these bags. I hope you enjoy making them!
This is not a messy activity any more. Dylon have washing machine dyes that you pour into the drum over your items, shut the door and run the machine on a normal 40’ wash. Afterwards, I run one high temperature wash with an empty machine and wipe around the seal and that is it. One batch of dye can dye a number of items, so this is a great group activity
What you need
- 100% cotton items to dye. T-shirts, tea towels, camisole tops, or plain fabric you can make into a scarf or bandana later on.
- Elastic Bands (lots and lots and more)
- Dye (from a hardware store)
How to do it
Soak the items in warm water and squeeze the water out as much as possible. Next put as many elastic bands on your item, and wind them as tightly as possible. The more bands you can get onto your item then better. Even when you think you are done – add more!!
Once all the bands are on, pop it in the washing machine with the dye, following the manufacturer’s instructions). When the washing machine is finished, take the item out and remove the bands and give it a good shake … Hey presto – a fabulous tie dye item. You can repeat the process using a second dye of a different colour the same item and this will produce some great blended patterns and shades.
For more ideas about tie-dye and the shapes you can make, have a look at my Pinterest Board here.
This is a simple way to package any note or card which is quick to make and looks fabulous. In my teen Christmas classes last week we were making a version of these envelopes and filling them with chocolate coins as extra family gifts, however at this time of year, when we so many Thank You cards are being written, I thought these would provide a perfect envelope for my own Thank Yous this year.
What You Will Need
An envelope of the size you want to replicate – steamed open and flattened
Felt Square (size depends on the size of the envelope, but a 10″ square is a good bet!)
Lining Fabric (the same amount as for the felt, however, if the lining has a directional pattern, not this pattern will be cut on point)
Kam Snaps, hook closure or button and loop.
Bondaweb (the size of your envelope)
Threads of coordinating colours
Paper & Fabric scissors
Permanent Pen and a Frixon Pen
Pinking Shears (optional)
- Using a permanent pen, trace around the flattened envelope creating an outline on the smooth side of the bondaweb
- Cut around the outline and press the bumpy/gluey side of the bondaweb template to your piece of felt using a hot dry iron.
- Using the fabric scissors cut around the edge of the bondaweb template, which is now fixed to the felt. You will now have flat, unlined felt envelop
- With your frixon pen draw around the part of the envelop that will be the front. This allows you to see the size of the area that you have to work on for your message.
- Optional Step : Create a panel for the front of your envelope. My panel was 2″ x 3″ and backed with bondaweb, but can decide the right size for your envelope. I cut this edges of the panel with pinking shears to create more interest. The benefit of adding this panel is that the change in colour adds contrast to your envelope front and it also means that if your free motion writing goes wrong (:-)) you can start again without having to recreate the whole envelope.
- Write your message on the front of your envelope or on your panel with a dark thread using the sewing machine fixed with a darning foot. I find it helpful to draw out the message I want to sew with either pencil or friction pen and then trace over it with the sewing machine. On felt I find a friction pen is fine to use, but check on a small area if you are unsure.
- Once the message is finished, remove any remaining frixion pen marks and if you have created the optional panel, fix it to the front of your envelope and free motion sew around the panel to complete the look.
- Remove the bondaweb from the back of the felt envelope and iron the lining fabric to the exposed glue on the back of the felt envelope. Once the lining is attached, trim the lining back with scissors so it is flush with the felt.
- Using a blanket or other decorative stitch and a normal/zig-zag foot on your sewing machine, sew around the edge of the envelope from the felt side.
- Fold the edges of the envelope up and press it with a hot dry iron and pressing cloth. The envelope is now complete except the fixings.
- I used a kam snap, but a hood and eye or button and loop could also be used. With a frixion pen, mark where the fixing need to be on both parts of the envelope and fix the closures.
- Add your park inside and you have the perfect thank you gift !
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.