Sunday, 4 December 2016

Free motion embroidery tips

Here's a few tips for perfect projects!

Think of your needle and thread as a pen and ink, but instead of moving the pen over the paper, you move the fabric under the needle to create your own unique designs.  Two things you’ll need for your sewing machine, a drop-feed dog facility [the feed dogs are the teeth that carry the fabric through the machine, by dropping these out of the way, you have control of moving the fabric in any direction you like] and a free motion or darning foot, 
 this foot ‘hops’ across the fabric, and allows you to see where you’re stitching. It’s also a good idea to practice on a piece of fabric you’re not too precious about!

Before you start embroidering, it’s a good idea to use stabiliser on the back of your fabric to give it substance and stop it from twisting, particularly on stretch fabrics like this jersey sweater.
Iron-on or tear-away, it doesn’t really matter! You can use a hoop if you wish but you may find it a hindrance particularly on larger designs. 

So, dogs down and foot on. Pop your fabric under the needle, foot on the pedal, and start to sew.  Lay your hands flat either side of the needle, and move from side to side, up and down, around in circles, swirls, zig-zags, any way you wish but just keep moving! It’s good practice to stop after the first few stitches, leaving the needle down, and snip off the excess thread so you don’t sew over it. You’ll realise as you’re sewing that the faster you move the fabric, the longer the stitch. There are no rules, stitch at a speed you feel comfortable with and like the look of.

When you’ve had a practice, take your work out of your machine and turn it over. You may find that the tension on some machines needs tightening, but check your manual for tension recommendations.

What to draw? Well you may think you’re not an artist, but we’re all capable of abstract scribblings that look wonderful when doodled in beautifully coloured threads! Use an erasable ink pen to draw your design before stitching as with my tea-time table mat, 
 Or try scanning in a drawing to your pc, maybe some of the kid’s artwork, and printing it onto printable fabric and embroidering over the top. This sewing picture was printed onto transfer paper then ironed onto fabric, before embroidering over the design and displaying in an embroidery hoop!
Try cutting fabric shapes, like on my heart cushion,
and doodling the applique in place. I like the ‘sketchy’ look of going over the outline a few times, and it really doesn’t matter if your lines aren’t straight!  My dolly bag was hand-painted with fabric paint, then outlined with stitches.
The patchwork cushion has hearts embroidered in the squares, but I trapped a little angelina fibre into the sewing to give it a bit of sparkle.


Free motion embroidery has a significant place in the quilting world, in fact this is what ‘quilting’ is! You’ll see stippling and texture in many different designs, not just to add interest to the project but holding the layers of fabric and wadding together. The stitches can meander in a puzzle-like manner all over the quilt, or designs like feathers and pebbles which are a little more advanced. As a beginner just doodle!

The main thing with free motion embroidery is to have fun! There’s no right or wrong, and you don’t need specialist sewing skills to achieve beautiful and original designs.


Thursday, 24 November 2016

Jargon busting

I thought some of you may appreciate a bit of jargon busting!


Sewing, as with many crafts and hobbies, seems to have its own vocabulary, so lets see if I can translate a few of the most common terms.



This is the direction of the fabric, the north and south if you like, as the fabric comes off the roll with the selvedge either side.


Cross grain:

If the grain is the north and south, this is the east and west, so the cross grain is the direction from side to side.



This is the 45 degree angle to the straight line. Bias tape is strips of fabric cut at this angle, as bias cutting creates a bit of stretch in the fabric, so when trimming anything with a curve, the bias tape won’t pucker.




The selvedge is the term for the edges of the fabric, where the thread has been looped back to stop the fabric from unravelling. Some manufacturers will print the brand name here, and a reference to the colours used in the print. Always cut off the selvedge before you start a project as the weave tends to be slightly different to the fabric, but take a good look at it before you throw it away, some selvedges make lovely trims!



The threads in your woven fabric that go up and down.



The threads that go across your fabric. An easy way to remember is that these threads go ‘weft to right’.



Washing and drying your fabric before you start to sew will eliminate shrinkage in your finished project, so wash it in the same way as you would wash your finished item. That said, I don’t wash bags or cushion covers, I spot clean them if they get dirty, so wouldn’t pre wash in this case. The feel of you fabric may be a little softer  after washing as the sizing is washed away, if you like the crispness, use a little spray starch when you iron it. If you’re concerned about colours running, uncommon unless your fabric is red or purple, then just cut a small piece and soak it in warm soapy water for half an hour or so. Whilst still wet, place on some white kitchen roll and you’ll soon see if the colour’s running!



Fabric sold on a flat cardboard tube, the material is usually folded in half.


Fat quarter:

Take a meter or yard of fabric and cut it in half lengthways, then in half again widthways, and you’ll have four pieces of fabric that measure around 18” x 22”. These are fat quarters. If you cut one of these pieces in half lengthways, you have a fat eighth.

Fat quarters are commonly sold in packs of co-ordinating colours and prints, such a good idea as you know they’re all going to match!


Jelly roll:

A roll of 2 ½” wide individual strips of co-ordinating fabric, usually used in patchwork and quilting. The pre-cut strips can be cut into squares, diamonds and triangles, or used for sashing [the strips that separate quilt blocks].


Layer cake/charm pack

These are pre-cut squares of fabric in co-ordinating colours and patterns. A layer cake is made up of 10” squares, a charm pack is 5” squares.



Wednesday, 23 November 2016

One of my first makes

This is my well loved teddy wearing a trendy paisley waistcoat I made when I was about eight years old! Ted must be 55 now, he used to be furry with leather patches on his paws, they've worn away now and you can see how I knitted patches at one point to repair him!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Girls day out!

I had a lovely day out with my daughter and grand daughter at Eureka in Halifax on Friday, we had snow in Hebden Bridge [the ducks seemed to enjoy it!] hail in Halifax, rain on the way home and a little bit of sunshine, all weathers covered!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Old photos

Here's  few pictures from the start of my tv career, CITV 1986! I remember that waist!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Vintage style bucket bag project

This is a Vintage style Drawstring Bucket Bag I designed for Simple Home Made magazine, hope you like it!


This pretty bag would be useful to store sewing items, for the nursery of for cosmetics!





You will need:

·         2 circles of fabric, one outer and one lining, measuring 8” across

·         2 rectangles of fabric, one outer and one lining, measuring 25” x 7”

·         1 circle of foam stabiliser measuring 7” across

·         1 length of foam stabiliser measuring 24” x 6”

·         2 rectangles of fabric, one outer and one lining for the drawstring section measuring 25” x 5”

·         30” of ¼” wide ribbon

·         25” of lace, or ribbon if you prefer, to decorate

·         For the handle, 1 strip of foam stabiliser measuring ½” x 13”

·         One strip of fabric measuring 2” x 14”

·         2 buttons

·         Repositionable spray fabric adhesive





1.       Fuse the stabiliser centrally to the wrong sides of the outer circle and side fabric pieces.


2.       Decorate the outer panel with lace, ribbon or whatever you choose.



3.       Sew the two drawstring sections right sides together along the top edge. Open out and press, then hem the two short edges by folding the fabric over ¼” then ¼” again and stitching.


4.       Fold in half and press along the seam. Sew ½” from the fold to make a channel for the drawstring.

5.       Edge stitch along the hemmed sides, avoiding the channel. Sandwich this panel centrally in between the outer and lining sections, and sew across the top.



6.       Fold the whole panel right sides together and sew along the side. Leave a gap in the lining for turning.



7.       Pin, then sew the two circular bases in place.



8.       Turn the right way out, and sew the gap closed. Push the lining inside the bag and press.





9.       Use a bodkin or safety pin to thread the ribbon through the channel.



10.   To make the handle, spray the strip of foam stabiliser with repositionable adhesive, and wrap the fabric around it, tucking in all raw edges. Sew straight down the centre.


11.   Sew the handle to each side of the top of the bag with strong thread, then add a button to hide your stitches.



Monday, 14 November 2016

Christmas stocking tutorial video

If you havn't seen it yet, here's the link to the Christmas stocking tutorial I put on You Tube last week, a great way of using up scraps and jelly rolls!
 click Christmas stocking!