Thursday, 20 October 2016

Simple Sampler Quilt Along

Two weeks ago we launched our first ever quilt along - The Simple Sampler Quilt Along. We have an excellent series of tutorials written by Kerry Green from Very Kerry Berry, and author of 500 Quilt Blocks.   

My first few blocks

Kerry designed the quilt to be sewn by a beginner, growing their skills as they work their way through the tutorials. So it starts off with simple blocks such as the 9 patch and the bordered 4 patch, just sewing squares and rectangles, and works up to foundation paper piecing (which I have to admit I have never done before). 

Julie's blocks

Kerry's tutorials are clear and concise, with lots of photos, to make them easy to follow. We are just on week 3, so there is still time to catch up if you'd like to join us. We've set a slow pace so it won't be hard to keep up with, and we're having a break over Christmas to allow people to catch up. 

The Quilt Along is being sponsored by Fabric HQ who are providing a month gift voucher for their site as a prize. There are already over 100 beautiful quilt block pictures on Instagram, click here to view them.

I do hope you'll sew along with us. Find the full schedule and tutorials on The Sewing Directory.


Monday, 26 September 2016

Sew Brum

I've just realised how long it's been since I updated this blog!  Sorry about that, I am still here but I've been busy sewing up projects for the Minerva Crafts blogger network, planning a Quilt Along for The Sewing Directory, writing my first fiction book (still looking for an agent/publisher) and planning a very exciting design competition for next year with an ex-Sewing Bee contestant...

Sew Brum at Guthrie & Ghani
I've spent so many months stuck inside working, writing or sewing I thought it was about time I got out and mixed with some other stitchers.  I spotted English Girl at Home's post about Sew Brum on social media a few months back and decided that I had to go along.

If you haven't heard of Sew Brum it's a meet up of sewing bloggers in Birmingham. It starts at some tea rooms, moves onto the rag market and then ends up at Guthrie & Ghani, the sewing shop run by Lauren Guthrie from The Sewing Bee.  It's been a few years since I've been to a big meet up so I was looking forward to it all summer. Especially when I heard how cheap fabric was at the rag market!  It started at £1 a metre!

These were all £3 a metre

Coming from Devon meant I missed the tea room gathering but my partner Julie who lives closer by went along and enjoyed it.  We caught up in the market where people were wondering around in small groups visiting the fabric stalls. We didn't get chance to meet many other stitchers here as we were all focused on shopping. I was pretty restrained and only bought 4m of fabric as per the picture below.  Although there was a lot of cheap fabric most of it didn't feel that great a quality, I guess you get what you pay for. I ended up getting 2m of denim look jersey (£6 total), 1m of woodland animal fleece for a baby blanket (£5.99) and an antique map style canvas fabric(£10 a metre) plus we found a stall that had very cheap trimmings on so I got a couple of those.

My Sew Brum haul

Also shown in the photo is the fabric I got in the swap later in the day (bottom left 2) and an ironing ruler and sleeve ham I bought at Guthrie & Ghani and some embroidery scissors from John Lewis. I was kind of fabriced out by the time I got to G & G and JL (nope I didn't realise that was possible either!)

Julie's Sew Brum haul
In the afternoon we all headed to Mosley on the bus and that's when we really started to mix and meet new people. I got to see a few people I already knew whilst having lunch in the pub and made a few new friends. Most the networking when on at Guthrie and Ghani after lunch.  There were loads of people there which made it hard to meet everyone, I think I managed to chat to around 20 or so people, there must have been over 100 there in total. I did get to meet several people I've spoken to or followed online but hadn't met before so that was definitely one of the highlights for me.

Raffle prizes
There was a very popular raffle raising money for charity. We donated a couple of sea/mermaid themed fabric bundles as prizes. Sadly our tickets were not winners but there was lots of very happy ladies who went away with some amazing prizes! You can see the full list of prizes here.

Charlotte & Lauren drawing the raffle

Lauren was there for the afternoon with her adorable Liberty clad baby Sophia, who was very well behaved given how busy it was. I didn't hear her cry once. Charlotte, also pictured above, was the organiser and did a great job. I don't know how she managed to organise so many people! It must have taken a huge amount of work.

It was really nice to get out and meet new people, and it was good to have Julie along too. I think many people still don't realise I now have a partner running the site with me so it was good for her to meet people too.  I did find it was a very long day, I spent over 6 hours traveling to have 6 hours at the event, I felt exhausted and very headachy by the time I got home.  It was very hot with so many people there which probably didn't help with the headache. I'm not sure if I'll make it back next year as I did find it totally wiped me out. However I am glad I went and it was lovely to meet so many people, I now have lots of new people to connect with on social media and lots of new blogs to read.

If you are interested in going to Sew Brum next year keep an eye on this page for Charlotte to post the details closer to the time. 

Friday, 18 March 2016

Win a Daylight Lamp

Can you believe that The Sewing Directory has been around for 6 years now!  I officially launched the website at Sewing For Pleasure in the NEC.  It has changed hugely in that time one of biggest changes I made just before launch.  It intended for the website to be just a directory, but my market research told me that people wanted more than that, they wanted content as well - free projects, sewing techniques, news, competitions and more.  Like a magazine but online, and free!

So what better way to celebrate our 6th anniversary than to ask you to share pictures of any of the projects you've made from our site to be in with a chance of winning a Twist Portable LED Daylight lamp from The Daylight Company. 

Just share a picture on our social media and use the hashtag #sewingdirectory to enter.  Find all our social media links and the terms & conditions of the giveaway on our site here.
Pyramid purse sewing project

If you haven't made anything from the site yet there are plenty of quick and easy projects you could make over the weekend.  Our free projects can be found here.  I made the pyramid purse pictured above the other morning, it only took 20 mins and is ideal for storing wonder clips.

The closing date is 6pm on Thursday so don't leave it too long to enter.  There are 2 lamps to be won.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Star Wars Overnight bag

I haven't sewn much in February, I've been ill for weeks on end with a bad sinus infection which left me so tired I didn't feel like sewing.  Thankfully the infection has now cleared so I spent this afternoon finishing off a bag for my son that I started a few weeks ago.  He loves BB8 (the round robot thing) from Star Wars so I found a couple fabrics with it on from Frumble to make him this bag for when we go on holiday next month.

The pattern is from Debbie Shore's new book Sew Brilliant Bags which has some fab bag projects in it.  This is just one of several I want to try.  The thing I loved about this one is it's made from fat quarters (5 of them), I have so many fat quarters I'm always looking for ways to use them up. It's fairly simple as bags go, it doesn't require any specialist tools or hardware, just fabric, foam, a large zip and bias binding.  It does suggest a foam board bag base but I didn't include that in mine as I don't have any and it seems fine without.

I used double sided In-R-Form Bosal foam for the structute, which I've never tried before. The fact it was adhesive on both side meant I had to change the way I made the bag a little, I also swapped the rope handles for fabric handles.

The foam was nice and thick so gave the bag loads of body. It did make it tricky when sewing the seams when putting the bag together because I struggled to get it under the needle.  The one bit I really struggled with was binding the seams at the end.  Partially because the layers of foam made it hard to get under the needle and partially because the bulk of the bag made it difficult to fit.  Plus the weight of the bag meant it kept pulling the fabric out from under the needle.

The picture above is one of the better bits of binding, and even that is wobbly.  I had to unpick several times and some of it looks pretty awful.  But on the plus side it's all on the inside of the bag so no one will know how bad it looks!   If I made the bag again I might overlock stitch the seams instead so I only have to fit the very edge under the foot or hand sew the binding.  The other thing I was considering was to use fusible fleece instead of foam because then it won't be so thick but then it would lose some of the structure.

There are a few other bags I want to try from this book, there are lots of great ideas in it.  Plus it reminded me I ought to dig out her Sew Useful book as there was lots I wanted to make in there too. Overall I'm happy with the bag, it's bigger than I thought it would be which is great and very sturdy thanks to the foam.  It's just a shame that the binding on the inside isn't as nice as I'd like it to be, but that's down to me not the pattern.

We've added a few new bag projects to the site this month if you fancy making your own bag:

A spacious bucket bag from Helen Rhiannon

Plus a useful messenger bag project from Becky Skuse

We also have lots of other bag projects here for you to choose from.

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