Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Top Tip Tuesday

Give your machine some regular TLC!

Tomorrow is the 1st of the month so, if you are not a regular cleaner of your machine, mark on your diary on the 1st of each month to give it a mini spa day!

Your machine should have come with a screwdriver to remove the needle plate and a small brush for cleaning.  The best tip I came across several years ago was to also use a pipe cleaner.  The one in the picture started out white so you can see it's had some use!  It is great because the lint gets stuck to it so it is easy to actually remove from the bobbin area rather than just move it around.  Also because it bends it gets into all the nooks and crannies.  Be sure to clean the bottom of the needle plate too because you can get lint build up there aswell.

One thing that is not in the picture is oil - my machine does not require oiling apart from at its service but be sure to know if you should oil yours, what oil to use, where it should go and how much.  How much is really important because more is not always a good thing.  Too much lubrication means it can get in the wrong places and worst of all work its way down onto your sewing!

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Top Tip Tuesday

Please ensure that whatever you use to mark your fabric that you TEST it first on the fabric you will be marking.

I will repeat "on the fabric you will be marking" because it is really important - just because it came out of one fabric easily does not mean that will hold true for every fabric!

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Top Tip Tuesday

Here’s another tip from me for Top Tip Tuesday ....

Clean up your blocks and quilts as you go. Nobody wants to spend ages trimming threads from a whole quilt and so sometimes they don’t!! 

If you check each block as you make it and then each seam as you piece the top together, it really doesn’t take very long and it really does make a difference to the finished quilt 😊😊 

This is a longstanding WIP which I am now making progress on - which makes me very happy!

Saturday, 6 June 2020

It's All About the Thread ....

I was recently asked to do a guest blog post for Pinhole Quilting on the subject of thread, Glide 40wt and 60wt in particular.  Both of these are my go-to threads so if you want to know more then head on over to their website for a read....

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Top Tip Tuesday

I have often thought about making a note of tips that help me with my sewing but often think everyone knows them all.  However, I know that's not the case so I have decided to start a Top Tip Tuesday over here on the blog.  Hopefully you might learn something you didn't already know and it might help you as it helped me when I learnt them.  I am also very happy to hear your Top Tips too!

Today's Top Tip is about a little tool .... this one is by Clover and is called a Soft Touch Thread Pic.

I was sorting through some samples last week and noticed a dark thread quilted under the fabric ....

If you work with low volume fabric then you'll know that this happens no matter how careful you have been with trimming threads and checking whilst basting your quilt.  This tool is like a tiny crochet hook that you can insert between the strands of fabric .....

then you carefully wiggle it about under there until you have snagged the thread ....

and slowly bring it up back through the hole you went down ....

and there it is!

I have to say there's something very satisfying about doing this!!

What little tool or gadget do you use that makes your quilting/sewing life easier?

Monday, 1 June 2020


This was another recent customer quilt which  made me smile all the way through!

Quilt Pattern:
Florence Flamingo by Elizabeth Hartman

Quilting Pattern:
Miami Mingo by Urban Elementz 

Warm & Natural by The Warm Company 

Magnifico 2004 by Superior Threads
Decobo Antique white by Wonderfil

Quilted on:
Handi Quilt Amara with Pro-Stitcher using Size 16 needle

Sunday, 31 May 2020


This was my latest customer quilt, which was such a pleasure to quilt!


Quilt Pattern:
Customer's own

Quilting Pattern:
Diagonal Plaid by Urban Elementz 

Sew Simple Cotton Blend White

Fantastico 5011 Superior Threads

Quilted on:
Handi Quilt Amara with Pro-Stitcher using Size 18 needle


Monday, 6 April 2020

HELP OUR NHS :: Headbands with Buttons

Due to the ever changing situation we find ourselves in there is a need for items in the NHS that was not there just a few weeks ago.  Staff members who never normally need a face mask now require them on a daily basis.  The length of time that people are wearing them has increased dramatically aswell - from maybe a 5 minute consult to an all day shift.  This has had an adverse side effect  of incredibly sore ears!

NHS staff are a resourceful lot and one nurse took it upon herself to find a solution - put buttons on a headband and attach the mask to the buttons instead of behind the ears.  

It worked!  Ears are saved and NHS workers are more comfortable throughout the day.


I am part of a group that is centreing its efforts on the South Warwickshire Foundation Trust and Warwickshire and I have had an urgent request for these headbands from Warwick Hospital.  They are quick and easy to make and do not require much fabric.


Here are written instructions from a nurse at LRI Hospital

UPDATE - feedback has suggested
1) making the bands longer (to fit a bigger head) and wider. Please adapt the template to suit. The pattern can be elongated or change the elastic to 5.5’’
2). It is not essential to enclose the elastic, that is just for completeness but definitely not essential
ALL FEEDBACK is much appreciated.

Cotton fabric to be washed at 60 degrees
Follow the pattern and cut 2 of the main headband pieces and 1 of the small rectangle to cover the elastic
Take the two main pieces and place right sides together
Press a 1/4 inch seam on the short end of all four ends
Sew 1/4 inch seam along the long edge on both sides
Turn right sides out and press (I used the safety pin trick)
Fold rectangle in half lengthways and sew 1/4 inch seam along the long edge.
Turn right sides out
Place elastic into tube
Sew along one end of tube securing the elastic into that.
Gather up the fabric and repeat at the opposite end securing the elastic into the seam.
Take the finished elastic tube and place it into the main headband, pin and sew. Repeat for the other side.
Sew a button to each side where your ears are. This will allow the face mask to be hooked on.
Please add a handmade by .... label if you can. I’m sure that will mean so much to the recipient 💙 🌈

Here is a picture with measurements for you to make your own template

These instructions were written by Sarah Fitchford of The Hemmingbird

To stay up to date with what's going on locally in Warwickshire please do join our Facebook Group - Warwickshire Scrubbers!


We are also making lots of scrubs aswell and would appreciate any help towards raising funds for the material.  I have set up a GoFundMe page and any donation, big or small, will be so appreciated and go to a fantastic cause ....

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Current Working Situation due to Corona Virus

This is from my newsletter which I have just sent out .... not on the mailing list?  Stay up to date with what's happening by signing up right over there on the left hand side of this page!

How do you start a newsletter in these times? 

Whilst I know that many people will be able to sew a great deal whilst we are all at home for the foreseeable future I also know that, for a lot of people, money is going to be tight.  Both my husband and I are self-employed and even though the Government have now outlined their support for the self-employed it won’t really help us much.

I have been slow to announce what I am going to do regarding my longarming business because I just didn’t know.   Like hundreds and thousands of people across the country, I was waiting in limbo to see when schools were going to shut.  When that announcement finally came I had to prepare my girls, one who was very upset the other not so much!  And since then things have changed a pace. 

Then there was the announcement on Monday night and it did at least bring some clarity – we are all to stay at home as much as possible.  Luckily my studio is at home so I could still theoretically work.  But would I be irresponsible to ask people to go out to the Post Office to send me their quilt tops?  If they are going out for essential food supplies anyway is it OK to pop to the Post Office?  Could they do prepaid at home and visit a local letterbox on their daily walk?  Could they use a courier company for contactless collection?  These questions and a thousand more are circling around my head.  As someone who may be able to get some work throughout this crisis I really need to and so I have decided what to do.

This is what I have come up with:
  • For the duration of the stay at home period I will still offer longarm quilting to people
  • Quilts top are to be sent to me by any method customers feel safe using
  • All design consultations will be done online
  • Payment will be made direct into my bank account once the quilt is finished
  • I will return the quilt to you by post and confirm the tracking number once it is sent

To be honest, this is the way a vast majority of my customers work with me already and it works very well.

My teaching and demonstration work obviously dried up over night at the beginning of last week and so I have been thinking of alternative ways of being able to offer something online.  I have seen many people, who are more technically savvy than me, already releasing a slew of classes and programmes and feel somewhat left behind.  I am going to have to learn, along with a large number of people, to work in different ways and wondered if there would be any interest in online content, be it FB Live, IGTV, tutorials or classes?  For teaching purposes or just as somewhere to build community through these strangest of times.

I would love to know your thoughts on this and also hear how you are getting by or systems you are putting in place on order to get through this crisis financially.

Stay safe and well and, most of all, sane!

The other thing we have to contend with is a new addition to our family - she arrived 2 weeks ago today and has added an extra layer of chaos to our already turned upside down world.  Will she be a help or a hindrance through these times?  The jury it still out!!

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

step-by-step Texture Quilting :: A Book Review AND a Birthday Giveaway!

For the last couple of weeks Tuesday has been a news day around here and today's no exception.  The news to share with you today is that it's my birthday!!  I am having a wonderful day so far and in the spirit of celebrating I am having a giveaway ..... but first the review - you'll want to know what's up for grabs in the giveaway won't you?!

So anyone who has read any of my posts in the past will know of my love for quilting.  Whilst computer assisted quilting has taken up much of my time over the last 6 month my first love is free motion quilting.  And you'll also know I love books so imagine how happy a book about quilting would make me!!

My latest book to review from Search Press is step-by-step Texture Quilting by Christina Cameli.  This was released last year by stash books, an inprint of C&T Publishing, and is available in the UK and Europe from here.  This book covers both free motion and walking foot designs and is a really good addition to any library.

What do I like the most about this book?  Hands down it is the photography.  Quilting is such a visual art and to see great photos of the designs, and also comparisons of the design with just a little tweak, is what really sold this book to me.

The book is divided into three main sections:  Organic Textures, Geometric Textures and Textural Fusion.  Each design within these sections has been photographed in real life and there is also a line drawing showing the stitch path.  I find both of these so helpful in learning a new design.  You can also use them for finger tracing a design that is new to you to start building up that all important muscle memory.

Aswell as a standard, written contents list at the front of the book, there is also a great page opposite that shows the designs in the book and gives the page number they are on.

And, instead of a standard index at the back of the book, there is a photo index - genius!

About the author:

Christina Cameli is an enthusiastic quilting teacher and nurse-midwife.  After being introduced to quilting by her grandmother, she learned free-motion quilting and over the next decade began teaching classes and writing books.  She lives with her children in Portland, Oregon.

So onto the giveaway ..... when I requested this book it was out of stock but I was too impatient to wait so I ordered it myself.  Whilst we were away in New Zealand it arrived at our house so I thought a giveaway for the extra copy would be perfect ..... and I get to share a fantastic book with another quilter.  The giveaway is being held over on Instgram so if you want a chance of getting your hands on this lovely little book head on over and enter.  Good luck!

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Stop Press - News Day!

Wow I have managed to post again with some news, just as I planned, which, for me, is a big achievement!

So what's news this week? Well this is a little late in coming but is no less exciting for me, or other longarm owners who have a computerised system.  Back in January Handi Quilter launched Pro-Stitcher Designer which I have to say really does make me excited and I am not someone who even really like computers!!

Pro-Stitcher has, until now, used Art and Stitch as the digitising software if you wanted to design your own quilting patterns.  I upgraded my machine in August to an Amara with Pro-Stitcher and I had Art and Stitch included.  However, I made a conscious decision not to try to learn that aswell as learning everything about Pro-Stitcher and I had earmarked this New Year to start my digitising design journey.  But then Pro-Stitcher Designer was launched and, once I received my Educator version, I  had to give it a go, didn't I?!

I found the package to be very user friendly and intuitive and not more than 10 minutes later I had a design and a stitch out!!  In my haste to stitch out I just threw a scrap of fabric on top of my other practice piece!

This is a design I could do using rulers but I just love the precision that Pro-Stitcher can achieve and have lots of line quilting running around my head now.

Then for some wavy lines ....

I am going to really enjoy playing with thread build up in some of these patterns.  Handi Quilter recently released a new update to Pro-Stitcher which includes the ability to be able to have Designer installed on the PS tablet and so go between the two packages whilst at your machine - it's going to be so great to use it this way if just a little tweak is required.  Update can be found here - PS Software Update - Beta.

Just to note that this has not yet been released in the UK but when it is it will be available from Pinhole Quilting, date TBC!

*** STOP PRESS ***

Dates have just been released for 2 days of Pro-Stitcher Training, which I am delighted to be teaching, at Pinhole Quilting 
in June 2020.
For further details head on over to the listing ....

Friday, 14 February 2020

ZAKKA from the heart :: A Book Review

Now this gorgeous little book arrived just before we headed off on our travels to New Zealand and it has sat on my desk waiting patiently ever since.  

ZAKKA from the heart by Minki Kim

When it arrived, a couple of days before departure, I had a quick look through it and, in my alternate world where I have lots of spare time, I thought I could make one or two of the projects for our trip.  I hastened out to the studio, picked fabric, found my Annie's stabiliser and even got some zips ready.  Alas it was not to be, and I admitted to myself that it was merely a diversionary tactic from actually having to pack!

That being said I would love to plan to make several items from this book.  I love it when books have an at-a-glance photo page of all the projects in the book ....

So much eye candy but so many useful, as well as beautiful items.  Well that is a loose definition of zakka - beauty in the mundane or as Wiki puts it "everything and anything that improves one's home, life and appearance."  As such you would expect the styling and photography in the book to be nice and it really is.

There are a couple of projects that could top my list of makes.  They are the Roll Cake Pencil Case ....

and the Small Dome Purse ....

Each project comes with a detailed set of written instructions and, more importantly for me, a series of photos.  Whilst I love reading when it comes to making I am a visual learner - one picture really does say a 100 words for me so these are invaluable.  And just look at that cute patchworked sewing machine - what's not to love?!

The other big bonus of this book is a set of full size pattern templates in the back ...... that actually came out along the perforated line neatly, instead of tearing into the pattern!  That aside, I do like to have access to full sized patterns rather than having to print out and stick together.

This book is published by stash books, an inprint of C&T Publishing, and available from Search Press in the UK and Europe - click here to take a look!

I had not heard of the author before so it was nice to read more about her in the author's bio at the back of the book and you can find Minki on IG @zeriano

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Stop Press - News Day!

I often have things to say and then the moment's not quite right and then too much time has passed and then I just don't!  So I thought I would try to make a habit of sharing any news on a Tuesday!  You can also stay up to date with any news by getting my Newsletter - usually once a fortnight - delivered straight to your inbox - sign ups are just over there on the left!

My exciting piece of news this week is .....

Oh and I am so excited!!!!!!

I have worked at the Festival of Quilts for the last three years on Pinhole Quilting's stand, both demonstrating the machines and teaching one on one sessions.  Last year I had the opportunity to be a classroom assistant in the Handi Quilter classroom.  This was the first time they had a classroom at Festival and I was lucky enough to assist some lovely international Handi Quilter Educators, Diane Henry and Denise Best from the States and Sue Pattern from Canada.  I had a blast and learnt so much from them.

This year I will be teaching in the classroom along with some other wonderful ladies ..... more on that soon!

I love the poster for this year's event - it's a gorgeous quilt from Sarah Hibbert, @quiltscornerstone, with fantastic quilting by Christine Perrigo, @ccpquilt  Sarah is having a gallery at Festival this year which I can't wait to see.  If you are planning on going this year I would definitely recommend popping by her gallery - not only are her quilts wonderful she is a really lovely lady!

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Project Finished :: Black & Silver Jelly Roll Race Quilt

I have a finish - ta-da!!  But with Storm Ciara raging outside I have only been able to take photos inside - when I did just go out I could hardly open the back door!

It's been a long time since I have had a finish post so forgive me my excitement.  This is an old WIP that was on my Projects to Finish list and it's my first finish for Finish Along Q1.

I posted a brief history of this one earlier in the year - click here.

I used wool wadding in a quilt for the first time.  I played around with wool as a second layer when I was quilting my Dream Big samples for the workshop I ran in November last year, but I have never used it as the only wadding for a quilt.  I have to say that it quilted up beautifully and has given a puffiness to the quilt that I don't see with cotton.  The hope is that it will also be warmer and if my daughter is correct there's supposed to be a lot of freezing weather coming our way this month!

It feels wonderful to get to cross something of my list and, even better, I think it's already been claimed for a bed! 


Measurements: 49" x 64"

Fabric: Stof Jelly Roll plus various similar fabric from stash

Wadding: Wool

Backing: Makower xtra wide with Linea Texture

Quilted on: Handi Quilter Amara with Pro-Stitcher

Quilting Design: More Square Drama from Wasatch Quilting

Thread: Glide Cool Grey 3 (40wt) on top and Decobob Dove Grey (80wt)

Needle:  Size 18 Groz Bekert

Started: circa April 2017

Finished: 09 February 2020

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

WIP Wednesday :: So many projects so little time!

I am happy to say that I have actually been sewing since the weekend.  I think unearthing some old projects gave me the motivation to get out of my sewing slump and achieve something.  I worked on two of the projects from my Projects to Finish list, but also added a few to the list too!!

The first one I worked on was the Baby Quilt from Samples.  Looking at the fabric that was left, I made another with leftover units from the sample and then decided to make 5 quick and easy bordered 9 patches.  Once I had decided that it really didn't take that long to piece them and then the quilt top.  Why did I leave it lingering for sooo long?  I think because the fabric isn't really me I wasn't grabbed by it.  But now that it is finished I see lots of possibilities for quilting.  I have no photos of this yet because it was a dark wet day when I finished it so rubbish for taking photos.

I think I am going to custom quilt this one using Pro-Stitcher.  It will be my first proper quilt to custom quilt and so will be a learning curve if nothing else.  I have wadding in my studio and I am sure I have backing I can piece for this, annoyingly it is 45" so normal width fabric is just too small, so it really shouldn't even go back on the shelf ...... watch this space!

The second quilt I worked on was my Black and Silver Jelly Roll quilt.  I pulled some black and silver fabric and thought I would add some 2" strips in the opposite direction on both ends of the quilt so that the thin red sashing wasn't on the edge of the quilt.  When I looked at it again I realised that I could use what I already had.

I unpicked 4 rows into the jelly roll portion and then simply turned it around so that the thin red strip was in the body of the quilt.  I have to say I hate redoing things - don't ask me why I would have preferred to have made piano key borders but it was actually so much quicker doing what I did and it really isn't that bad unpicking a little bit.  This is a head shift I need to make.

This quilt is going to have an E2E design quilted over it and I already know the one I am going to use.  The Pro-Stitcher library comes with loads of designs in it both designed by Handi Quilter and other designers aswell.  Saying that there are 1000s of designs out there that you can buy although I did say I wouldn't initially.  But you know how that goes right?  I saw this design being quilted out by a fellow longarmer and just loved it so I gave in!  I haven't quilted this yet and I am looking forward to it.  It is called More Square Drama from Wasatch Quilting.

So I am really happy to have two quilt tops ready to quilt .... and I am determined that they will not sit on the To Quilt Pile that I have.  A finish for Friday?  Probably not, but wouldn't it be great if they were both quilted to show you next Wednesday?!

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Project to Finish :: Baby Quit from Samples

In 2018 I did a Christmas QAL over on UKQU and before the block patterns were ready to go out I had to ensure they were right.  That involved a lovely group of pattern testers who were invaluable but before the patterns even got to them I had to make samples to see which blocks I liked the most in real life.

I found three of these sample blocks last week in a bag with the accompanying fabric pieces.  I have no idea where this fabric came from but I had teamed it with Kona White and obviously had plans for a baby or child quilt.  Hmmm 3 blocks doesn't really make a quilt now does it?

I have an idea for how to finish this and actually started cutting right away!  And you see those strips at the front?  They are for the binding.  I am so proud of myself because that is usually the hurdle I fall at and so have decided to get the binding made before I have even finished the quilt in the hope that then I will attach it straight away!

Hopefully there will be good progress on this in the upcoming days ....

For the full list of Projects to Finish head on over here!

Top Tip Tuesday

Give your machine some regular TLC! Tomorrow is the 1st of the month so, if you are not a regular cleaner of your machine, mark on your di...