Christmas in August!

With Selfridges unveiling their Christmas shop in London this week we thought it was high time we unveiled ours!  Full to the brim with Christmas fabrics, designed to suit all tastes and styles, from the fab Studio E Love Joy Peace, traditional, Scandinavian collection, to Riley Blake Design’s Pixie Noel with more than a hint of 1950s glamour, and Santa Express brimming over with fun – and who could forget Michael Miller’s Christmas gnomes!

Save 10% on all these fabrics until Sunday 14th August by using discount code yoyoyo in your basket before you go to the checkout!

Click here to view all or Christmas fabrics in one place 🙂

Studio E – Joy, Peace Love

A Scandinavian inspired treat of a Christmas fabric collection, in lush reds, crisp white and teal.

Suitable for: quilting, dressmaking, home decor projects, crafts.

100% cotton, 110cm (44″) wide.

studio e-joy-love-peace-christmas-fabric-collection

Riley Blake – Pixie Noel

Tasha Noel has created a beautiful Christmas fabric collection for Riley Blake, reminiscent of the 1950s Babycham deer, cocktail dresses and classic Chrismas movies!

Tasha has a way with combining sugary colors with rich colors to create an amazing palette. This holiday collection is no exception. The sweet pinks and aquas are paired with Christmas red and navy blue to create a very modern Christmas collection. Bottle Brush Trees and adorable rabbits are paired with pixies in candy-striped tights in this whimsical collection with a modern twist.

riley-blake-pixie-noel-christmas-fabric-collection-uk-stockist-cotton-quilting-dressmaking

Riley Blake Designs Santa Express

All aboard the Santa Express – a non-stop ride to a wintery wonderland of holiday delight by Doodlebug Design!

Join Santa and his friends in a collection so festive you’ll be giddy with creativity and delight. In classic Christmas shades and cheery winter icons these fabrics are perfect for crafting a unique gift or creating some seasonal home decor. So pack up some treats and grab a friend, cuz Santa Express is comin’ round the bend!

riley-blake-santa-express-christmas-collection-fabric-quilting-dressmaking-cotton-online

Don’t forget to share pics of your makes with us, we love seeing what you talented bunch do with these fab fabrics!

Quilting 101 – Maple Leaf Quilting Block Tutorial

quilting-101-maple-leaf-block-tutorial-main-image-prints-to-polka-dots-free

This block measures 25cm (10″) when sewn with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Use a plain fabric for the leaf, with a pattern for the background, or vice versa.  For a fresh, clean and bold look why not switch between the two styles to create a chessboard effect across the entire quilt.

quilting-101-maple-leaf-block-tutorial-reversed-image-prints-to-polka-dots-free

Getting Started

Print or trace the templates on the print out (at the end of this post) onto card and cut out.  Then trace the pieces onto your fabrics and cut out (the number of pieces required and fabric suggestions are shown on each of the templates) and the lines printed inside each piece represent the sew line when using a 6mm (1/4″) seam allowance.

Laying Out

BEFORE sewing we strongly recommend spraying all your pieces with starch and ironing them once more.  Spray starch is used by all sorts of sewers, but for quilters it is a total must.  The fabric will stiffen, helping to stop it stretching and making it MUCH easier to sew.

NOTE: You can buy specialist spray starch for quilting, but we find the one from the supermarket works fine 🙂

We normally recommend laying your pieces out in front of you before you start sewing, but that isn’t possible with this block until you have completed the first part of the sewing process.

Piecing Together

The first step of this block is to create your ‘half triangle squares’.  Match up a plain large square with a patterned large square, right sides of the fabric facing each other.  Fold in half diagonally and iron the crease into place (see below).

quilting-one-o-one-maple-leaf-half-square-block-1

You are now going to sew down the middle twice, once in each direction. Treat the crease in the middle of the fabric as if it is your raw edge and line up your needle to create a 1/4″ seam in from the crease.  Sew across the block, keeping the crease lined up as if it was your raw edge.  Turn your block around and repeat this process down the other side of the crease.

quilting-one-o-one-maple-sewing-half-square-triangles

Your block should now look like the one below:

quilting-one-o-one-maple-leaf-sewing-half-square-triangles-sewn-flat

Cut along the crease and iron the seams flat – you will now have two finished ‘half square triangle blocks’!

quilting-one-o-one-maple-leaf-half-square-block

Repeat this process with your remaining 2 large squares, you will end up with 4 half square triangle blocks.

You can now arrange your pieces according to the block pattern, don’t worry that the pieces don’t line up properly around the stem.

quilting-one-o-one-maple-leaf-laying-out-1

The stem piece is made up of 3 pieces of fabric, 2 triangles and a stem.

quilting-one-o-one-maple-leaf-laying-out-stem-pieces

Line the long side of the stem up with one long side of one triangle, right sides facing each other and raw edges lined up (see below).

quilting-one-o-one-maple-leaf-stem-sew-line-1

Sew together and press the seam open.

quilting-one-o-one-maple-leaf-stem-layout2

The next triangle will be too long for the space it needs to fill to make a square, but don’t panic, we can trim this back after we have sewn the square together.  Fold the sewn piece in half to find the middle of the raw edge you will be adding the next triangle too, and repeat this process with the triangle piece (see below).

quilting-one-o-one-maple-stem-folded

Place the triangle on top of the stem piece, right sides facing, lining up the raw edges along the sew line and the fold lines you just made in the middle of the pieces.

quilting-one-o-one-maple-leaf-sewing-second-side-stem

Sew together and press the seam open.

quilting-one-o-one-maple-leaf-stem-square

Place your template back on top of your mini block, or use your quilting ruler and cutting mat, to trim the block back to the same size as the smaller square template.

quilting-one-o-one-maple-leaf-trim-stem-square

Place the completed block back into the main block pattern.

NOTE: The bottom row is not laid out correctly in this image - check the images at the top or bottom of this post for the correct lay out (the triangles are facing the wrong way here!)

NOTE: The bottom row is not laid out correctly in this image – check the images at the top or bottom of this post for the correct lay out (the triangles are facing the wrong way here!)

You are now ready to sew the squares together into rows (the image below still shows the earlier mistake – the triangles in the bottom row are facing the wrong way!  I forgot to retake the picture are unpicking and re-sewing!).

quilting-one-o-one-maple-leaf-rowing rows 1

Sew the rows together, if your blocks are out of shape, it is a good idea to trim the edges you will be sewing straight before sewing them together.

quilting-one-o-one-maple-leaf-sewn

Press your block one more time and then trim the block back square – not sure where to start?  The easiest way to do this is to fold your block into quarters and iron the creases into place (lightly).  When you open up the block you will have the mid point of each side marked with a crease.

Place your square on your cutting board with the vertical crease lined up with the 10″ line on the cutting mat, making sure it is in line at the top and bottom of the block.  Now place your ruler over the block so that it runs along the 5.25″ line to the left of your crease, cut along this line.  Now line your ruler up with the 15.25″ line to the right of your crease, and cut along this line.  Turn your block 90 degrees and repeat the process.

Don’t forget to send us pictures of your finished blocks/quilts, via the blog, Facebook or by tagging us in on Instagram #printstopolkadots. We love seeing your makes!

quilting-101-maple-leaf-block-tutorial-reversed-image-prints-to-polka-dots-free
Fabrics used in our examples: Riley Blake’s Bloom and Bliss (click to view in store) and Kona’s White (click to buy).

Click here to download the templates and short instructions.

Put Sunshine on Your Pocket With These Glorious Fabrics

We have selected a range of fabrics that scream summer to share with you today.  Our picks offer sunshine and more muted ice cream tones, mini and large florals, sunshine bursts and animal prints, including butterflies and rabbits hiding in the tulips.  All these prints bring a smile to our faces and warmth to the heart!

Michael Miller’s Sea Holly Collection

michael-miller-sea-holly-fabrics-uk-stockist-dressmaking-quilting-butterflies-children-girls

Riley Blake’s Fresh Market

riley-blake-fresh-market-pink-large-floral-pink-quilting-dressmaking-cotton-fabric-main
   
riley-blake-fresh-market-pink-large-floral-white-quilting-dressmaking-cotton-fabric-main

Michael Miller’s Sommer Collection (Regular Cottons and Double Gauzes)

michael miller sommer fabric collection quilting cotton double gauze

Riley Blake’s Medium Dots & Honeycomb Reverse Dots

riley-blake-medium-dots-big-polka-quilting-cotton-fabric-dressmaking-uk-stockist-fabric-bundle
  
riley-blake-reversed-honey-comb-dots-bundle-quilting-fabric-uk-stockist

Riley Blake’s Dream and a Wish Collection

dream-a-wish-riley-blake-fabric-flowers-children

Did you spot the rabbits in the tulips?

Quilting 101 – Clays Choice Quilting Block Tutorial

quilting-one-o-one-clays-choice-block-tutorial-front-page

This block measures 25cm (10″) when sewn with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Use a plain background and two fabrics to make the star punch out from the middle of the block, as in the sketch below, or reverse it, using a white fabric for the star and patterns everywhere else.

If you are planning to make a quilt by repeating this block over and over, consider rotating the 3 fabrics in the block, giving each one a chance to be the background, central square and star.

quilting-one-o-one-clays-choice-block-tutorial-sketch

Getting Started

king-s-crown-quilting-block-step-1-cut-out-templates

Note: These pieces are not for this particular block!

Print or trace the attached templates onto card and cut out. Now trace the pieces onto your fabrics and cut out (the number of pieces required and fabric suggestions are shown on each of the templates).

Laying Out

Lay out your pieces in line with the pattern.  Don’t be alarmed that all the pieces don’t line up – this is due to the seam allowances for each of the pieces being visible at this point, it will work in the end!

quilting-one-o-one-clays-choice-block-tutorial-block-layout

We strongly recommend spraying all your pieces with starch and ironing them once more BEFORE sewing.  Spray starch is used by all sorts of sewers, but for quilters it is a total must. The fabric will stiffen, helping to stop it stretching and making it MUCH easier to sew.

NOTE: You can buy specialist spray starch for quilting, but we find the one from the supermarket works fine 🙂

Piecing Together

This block is made up of 4 identical mini blocks, each making up one quarter of the finished block.  Start by sewing the two small squares in each mini block together.

quilting-one-o-one-clays-choice-block-tutorial-2-finished-block-squares together

Now you need to sew the other three parts of each mini block together, making rectangles (as below).   This is a little trickier than you might think, but work through the steps below the next image and you will get there without pulling your hair out!

quilting-one-o-one-clays-choice-block-tutorial-2-finished-block-strips

I am only joining three pieces together- how hard can it be, I hear you cry!  Place the two pieces you are sewing together, right sides facing, lining up the diagonal raw edges and you will discover that the shapes are actually different sizes and won’t line up.

quilting-one-o-one-clays-choice-block-tutorial-sewing-diagnol
Place the middle shape in front of you as shown to the right.  Then place a triangle on top, right sides facing each other, so that the bottom diagonal sides are lined up, from the bottom corner, out along the long diagonal side THEY WILL NOT LINE UP AT THE TOP CORNER.

Sew the two pieces together and when you iron the seam flat and turn over, the pieces should be lined up perfectly!

 

 

quilting-one-o-one-clays-choice-block-tutorial-second-triangle
Now turn your shape around, so that the sewn side is at the top of the middle shape and the raw diagonal edge of the middle shape is at the bottom.  Repeat the above steps.

 

 

 

 

Now sew the two squares you completed earlier to this shape, completing each mini block.

quilting-one-o-one-clays-choice-block-tutorial-2-finished-block-mini-blocks

Now sew the top two mini blocks together.

At this point I find it helps to check that the bottom edge of the new, larger, block is straight, and trim it back if not.

Then sew the bottom two mini blocks together, making sure the top edge is straight and trimming back as necessary.

quilting-one-o-one-clays-choice-block-tutorial-2-finished-block-rows

Now sew the two rows together.

quilting-one-o-one-clays-choice-block-tutorial-2-finished-block-finsihed

The final step is to square off the block.  The easiest way to do this is to fold your block into four and iron the creases in lightly.  When you open up the block you will have the mid point of each side marked with a crease.

Place your square on your cutting board with the vertical crease lined up with the 10″ line on the cutting mat, making sure it is in line at the top and bottom of the block.  Now place your ruler over the block so that it runs along the 5.25″ line to the left of your crease, cut along this line.  Now line your ruler up with the 15.25″ line to the right of your crease, and cut along this line.  Turn your block 90 degrees and repeat the process (if you like the block we used for the images this part of the tutorial (below), it is called King’s Crown – click here to view the tutorial).

king-s-crown-quilting-block-triming back-tutorial

 

Ta dah!

quilting-one-o-one-clays-choice-block-tutorial-2-finished-blocks

Don’t forget to send us pictures of your finished blocks/quilts, here on our blog, on Facebook or by tagging us in on Instagram #printstopolkadots. We love seeing your makes!

Fabrics used in our examples: Riley Blake’s Bloom and Bliss (click to view instore) and Kona’s White (click to buy).

Click here to download the templates and short instructions.

Quilting 101 – Piecing Your Quilt Blocks Together – Top Tips

quilting-101-piecing-your-quilt-together-top-tips

Block Pattern/Templates Tips

  • king-s-crown-quilting-block-step-1-cut-out-templates
    If you are using one of our block patterns
    – Print it directly onto card. Your pattern pieces will be easy to trace onto your fabric and over time you will build up a library of reusable quilt block templates.
  • If you are creating your own block patterns – Draw your block pieces directly onto template plastic or card and you will have pattern pieces you can use time and time again. Don’t forget to include your seam allowance!
  • Write the names of each block on each piece, together with the total number of pieces needed for the pattern – ‘kings crown, 1 of 4’ etc… and if appropriate the seam allowance to use.

Preparing Your Fabric

  • king-s-crown-quilting-block-step-2-cut-out-fabrics-and-spray-with-startch-tutorial
    Most quilters do not prewash their fabrics, preferring to wash the fabrics once the quilt is finished, any shrinkage adds that slightly crinkly, aged, feel to your quilt.
  • Spray all your fabrics lightly with starch before you start. The starch will help preserve the shape of the fabric pieces whilst you sew them, and will help seams to lay flat when sewing pieces together (you can buy specialist quilting starch but we think the one you get in the local supermarket works fine).

Your Sewing Machine

quarter-inch-sewing-machine-foot
Invest in a quarter inch sewing foot. Standard feet are 5/8ths of an inch wide, and it might not seem that reducing your seams down by just 1/8th of an inch will make a big difference, but when you are sewing a lot of small pieces together (piecing them together) you will be surprised how quickly your blocks shrink into the seam allowance – for example if you sew a square made from 2.5” squares, and you sew rows of 5 blocks, that extra 1/8th of an inch will add up to over half an inch by the time you get to the end of the first row!

Getting Started

  • quilting-101-piecing-laying-out
    Once you have starched your fabrics and cut your shapes out, it is time to layout your block. Don’t panic if it looks like some pieces are too large or too small, it is all to do with the number of pieces making up each part of the block and accommodating their seam allowances.  If you are following a pattern, the likelihood is that this difference will disappear once you start sewing all the parts together.

 

  • quilting-101-piecing-laying-out-2
    If you are using one of our block tutorials there will be detailed instructions on our blog, showing you the order in which to sew everything together. If all you have to go on is a picture of the block, working out what order to sew the block in is simpler than you might think. Look at the block and divide it up into smaller squares, triangles and rectangles, each made of pairs of pieces (see example below).Once they are sewn together arrange these larger pieces into squares, rectangles, triangles and rows made up of your larger sewn pieces, and sew these together.  Keep repeating this process until you have a completed block.
  • Each time you sew two pieces together trim the seam allowances as shown in the image below, this will help the seams lay flat and stop fabric bunching up at the corners.
  • Once trimmed iron the seam allowance out, either to one side (the darkest fabric side) or equally onto each side, as in the image below.

quilting-101-piecing-seam-allowances-ironing

  • IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT IRONING: This rule holds true whenever sewing, but becomes critical when quilting, as the pieces of fabric are at their most fragile when cut on all four sides and you need them to hold their shape to produce precise blocks.  The golden rule is that you should PRESS rather than push the iron.  The act of pushing the iron back and forth across your fabric pieces WILL push the fabrics out of shape.  Simply lift the iron up and down, across your shapes, to set the seams, and this will eliminate this problem.  We also recommend using a pressing board rather than ironing board, as ironing boards have spring built in, which when quilting, can push shapes out – pressing boards are cheap to make and convenient, as you can keep a small board next to you as you sew – see our blog for our tutorial.

Keeping Going

  • We recommend keeping your block laid out on your sewing table, each time you sew two pieces together, place them back in your block to check everything is OK and identify which pieces need adding next, and where.
  • Don’t panic if your pieced shapes are perfectly square. It is very hard to maintain perfect shapes as you piece together, two triangles that start out looking perfectly shaped and equal in size, should turn into a perfect square, but you don’t have to be very out, or push the iron very hard to push the fabric out of shape.  Before you know it your square starts looking more like a diamond!  Resist the temptation to bin it and start again, or to trim the shape back into a square UNLESS the shape is very wrong.  Wait until you have sewn a number of pieces together, or if possible have formed rows, before considering trimming your shapes straight – or that quilt could turn into a cushion cover or even worse, a pin cushion!

 

 
quilting-101-piecing-your-quilt-together

Finishing Your Block

trimming your quilting block when finished
If your finished block looks less than square, don’t be disheartened, simply place your block on your cutting mat and trim it back to your desired size.

The key to trimming your block is to getting it centred on mat first.  Fold your block into quarters and lightly press, then place your block on your mat, lining the crease lines up with the vertical and horizontal lines on the mat.  Work out from the middle, half the width of your block, and the point you reach is your cutting line, place your ruler along the line on the mat and trim. Repeat this process on all the sides.

By finding the middle and cutting equally on all sides, all your blocks will remain even, and if you are using the same block over and over by cutting the smallest block first and making the rest that size your finished quilt will look like it should always have been that size.

Click here to download a printer-friendly version of this guide.

Love the fabric!  It is Riley Blake’s Bloom and Bliss collection – click here to view in store.

If you are local to Witney in Oxfordshire and would like to learn to quilt, visit our website to find out all about our quilting courses – Click here for more details.

Autumn Sewing School Programme of Workshops Announced!

sewing school booklet front
We are pleased to announce our programme of sewing classes and workshops for the Autumn season.  All the classes are held here in Witney in Oxfordshire, between September and December 2016.

This season’s programme focuses on makes that will help you learn to sew or expand your skill set.  Many of the projects would make great Christmas gifts for magical handmade Christmas.

We love meeting you are sharing our experience, and hope you can make it.

Sewing Lessons – Overview

lined-tote-bag-sewing-lesson-course-workshop-witney-oxfordshire
Lined Tote Bag a great introductory lesson, tackling straight lines, using lining, box corners and top stitching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

sewing-school-applique-workshop-lesson-witney-oxfordshire
Applique Masterclass a fun evening messing around with applique – during this course you get to try your hand at applique away from your precious stash of fabric and without risking your latest make – you can take home your work from the evening and incorporate it into your next project.

 

 

 

 

christmas-apron-sewing-lessons-workshop-course-witney-oxfordshire
Retro Apron a great gift for yourself or family and friends, this retro apron covers bias tape, gathering fabrics and patch pockets.

 

 

 

 

 

pyjama bottoms workshop
PJ Bottoms for Ladies – a great introduction to dress making, covering reading patterns, tracing pattern pieces, adjusting length, sewing with elastic and treating raw seams.

 

 

 

 

 

bust adjustment workshop sewing school witney
Bust Adjustment – most patterns are designed for B or C cups, if you are anything else you will struggle to get clothes to fit properly, and if you are going to make your own you might as well get them to sit right!  In one evening we will make and adjust a vest top pattern and then go on to make the adjusted top – a skill for life.

 

 

 

christmas SEWING CLASSES workshop
Christmas Workshops – following our successful workshops in 2015 we are running two this year, the first will focus on making a fully lined stocking for the mantle piece, the second will be a free-flowing workshop, with lots of patterns for quick Christmas makes and fabric to play with.  Book one workshop or both and save money!

 

 

 

get to grips with zips sewing lesson workshop witney2
Get to Grips with Zips – If you have always shied away from sewing with zips, this is the course for you – we cover sewing zips into clothes and types of zip, before making a zip up pouch to put those skills into practice.

 

 

 

 

 

learn to sew in 5 weeks
Learn to Sew in 5 Weeks – Our best selling 5 week introduction to sewing course is designed for the complete beginner – over the 5 weeks you will make bunting, a cushion cover, apron, reversible bag and zipper pouch.  You will learn to sew straight and round curves, all about the bias and bias tape, everything you need to know about interfacing, how to make pockets and how to sew with zips!

 

 

owl-cushion-sewing-class-workshop-lesson-witney-oxfordshire-children
Owl Cushion – This is a really fun make, we make the front of the cushion in the same way as patchwork is pieced together, tackling sewing opposing curves on the way.  Then attach the back of the cushion, stuff and hand sew to finish.

 

 

 

 

cushion-covers-level-2-piping-and-zips-sewing-lesson-tutorial
Cushion Covers Level 2 Making and using piping and zips for a professional finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

sewing-school-reversible-bag-course-witney-oxfordshire
Reversible Bag – Back by popular demand!  This reversible bag is very practical and has a stylish shape, we cover using interfacing and sewing curves, together with top stitching.

 

 

 

 

 

Download a copy of our programme here.

Visit our website for full details of all our courses, group and individual lessons – we hope to see you there!

Quilting 101 – King’s Crown Quilting Block Tutorial

kings-crown-quilting-block-free-tutorial-sewing-patchwork-prints-to-polka-dots2
 This quilting block measures 25cm (10″) when sewn with a 1/4″ seam allowance, (after trimming back to a true square when completed).

Use a plain background and two fabrics to make the crown, as in the sketch below, or reverse it, using a patterned background and white/solid colours for the crown itself.

kings-crown-quilting-template
Mix and match these styles to form a really interesting quilt, with or without sashing between the blocks.

Getting Started
king-s-crown-quilting-block-step-1-cut-out-templates

Print or trace the attached templates onto card and cut out. Now trace the pieces onto your fabrics and cut out (the number of pieces required and fabric suggestions are shown on each of the templates).

 

Laying Out

Lay out your pieces in line with the pattern.  Don’t be alarmed that all the pieces don’t line up – this is due to the seam allowances on various pieces, it will work in the end!

king-s-crown-quilting-block-step-2-cut-out-fabrics-and-spray-with-startch-tutorial

We strongly recommend spraying all your pieces with starch and ironing them once more BEFORE sewing.  Spray starch is used by all sorts of sewers, but for quilters it is a total must.  The fabric will stiffen, helping to stop it stretching and making it MUCH easier to sew.

NOTE: You can buy specialist spray starch for quilting, but we find the one from the supermarket works fine 🙂

Piecing Together

Start by sewing the bottom left triangle onto the long strip of fabric that forms the bottom of the crown.  Because the two sides you are sewing together are different sizes lining up the pieces can be tricky.  We have tried many different methods for lining up pieces which are different sizes and this is the one we recommend.

Fold the two pieces you are sewing together in half to find the mid point of each of the sides you are sewing along.  Lightly press the fold in and open up.

king-s-crown-quilting-block-step-3-sewing-bottom-corner-finding-middle-tutorial

 

Place one piece on top of the other, with the raw edges of the sides you want to sew together lined up, right sides of the fabric facing each other, making sure the two creases you just made are also lined up.  Sew together and iron the seam flat.

king-s-crown-quilting-block-step-3-sewing-bottom-corner-sewn-together-pressed-tutorial

Place these pieces to one side.

Now piece together the main part of the crown by sewing together the small squares and triangles in the middle of the block.  Start by sewing in rows, then sew the rows together.

NOTE:  Where you have a triangle being sewn to a square (when doing the rows) the sides won’t be the same size, line the triangle up so that the side at a right angle to the sew line, lines up with the same edge on the square, in the example below, we have lined the top of the triangles up with tops of the squares.

king-s-crown-quilting-block-making-crown-section-tutorial

Now lay your block out again.

king-s-crown-quilting-block-step-7-putting-it-together-again-tutorial

The next step is to attach the white strips to the top and right sides of the triangle you just finished making.

Place the top strip on top of the block, right sides facing, with the raw edges along the top lined up.  IT IS VERY IMPORTANT to make sure that the strip extends 1/4″ over the end on the right (see image below), the left edge will not line up – this is fine.  Sew into place.

king-s-crown-quilting-block-step-8-top-borders-1-tutorial

Repeat on the right side, making sure 1/4″ of the border extends over the top edge.  Start sewing at the outside edge, working towards the point where the strips meet, stop where the strips meet (this will be before the end of the strip you are sewing).

king-s-crown-quilting-block-step-8-top-borders-3-tutorial

You now need to sew the white strips together at the corner.  Fold your block in half so that the two strips are on top of each other, making sure the edges of the main crown section are lined up under the strips.  The raw edges of the strips should be sticking out past the fold line.  Imagine the fold line is your sew line, and starting at the end of the fold, continue the sew line along the strips.  Iron the seam flat.

king-s-crown-quilting-block-adding right-border-tutorial

The next step is to add the remaining small triangles to the raw ends of each of the white strips, before doing this you might need to square the strips off, the ends of the strips should line up with corners of the triangles you have already sewn into the block.   Pin your triangle pieces into place, making sure they are lined up with both outside edges of each white strip.  Sew into place and press the seams flat.

king-s-crown-quilting-block-final-triangles-sewing-tutorial

 

 

 

Your block is now made up of two pieces.  Sew the two pieces together.  If they don’t line up, use the same technique you used earlier to find the mid point of each block, and pin out from there.  Press the sew seam flat.

The final step is to square off the block.  The easiest way to do this is to fold your block into four and iron the creases in lightly.  When you open up the block you will have the mid point of each side marked with a crease.

Place your square on your cutting board with the vertical crease lined up with the 10″ line on the cutting mat, making sure it is in line at the top and bottom of the block.  Now place your ruler over the block so that it runs along the 5″ line to the left of your crease, cut along this line.  Now line your ruler up with the 15″ line to the right of your crease, and cut along this line.  Turn your block 90 degrees and repeat the process.

king-s-crown-quilting-block-triming back-tutorial

 

Don’t forget to send us pictures of your finished blocks/quilts, via the blog, Facebook or by tagging us in on Instagram #printstopolkadots. We love seeing your makes!

kings crown quilting block both ways

Fabrics used in our examples: Riley Blake’s Bloom and Bliss (click to view instore) and Kona’s White (click to buy).

Click here to download the templates and short instructions.

Which Quilt Batting/Wadding is Right For You?

 

quilting-batting-wadding-guide-sewing

Wadding/batting has been used by quilters and sewers for centuries to create beautiful, warm blankets, bags, boxes and other projects that need depth and a super soft touch – such as children’s busy books.

There is a wide range of batting/wadding on the market, and the choice can seem overwhelming, here is our quick guide.

Polyester Batting/Dacron

polyester batting
Cheap, machine washable and light weight, polyester batting or Dacron can be bought in a wide range of sizes and thicknesses. It is a man made fibre which won’t shrink in the wash.

Natural fibre battings have to be sewn (quilted) to the top and bottom layers of fabric at regular intervals, to prevent the batting bunching and twisting over time. Polyester wadding’s structure is less prone to moving so you can get away with little or no quilting.

For a really clean and wrinkle free finish, you can buy fusible fleeces, which fuse to one or both sides of your project, eliminating quilting altogether – look out for our range of Vilene fusible fleeces, perfect for projects where you want a smooth, clean finish, without quilting, such as bags and boxes.

Remember – once quilted polyester batting will reduce in height, by between 0.5-1cm (1/4-1/2″), & the thicker the wadding is, the warmer it will be, possibly too warm, & the harder it is to sew through, particularly when using a sewing machine and sewing a large item.

Cotton Batting

batting-wadding-in quilt2
The traditional choice for quilters, soft, durable, breathable and as warm as polyester batting but flatter.

Unlike polyester, cotton batting will move within the quilt, to get around this quilters sew (quilt) the top and bottom layers of fabric to the batting at regular intervals, the top stitching/quilting can be very beautiful and add interest, but it does take time. Most cotton batting manufacturers recommend quilting at least every 20-25cm (8-10 inches).

When washed standard cotton batting shrinks slightly giving quilts a vintage, crinkled, look, which may not suit you project (if that is the case & you want to use cotton batting, look out for shrunk/non-shrink varieties).

Wool Batting

wool batting
Wool is very warm & breathable, and has been used for winter weight quilts across the centuries, it is not recommended for use in Spring or Summer quilts.

It is a premium product, which retains its height (loft). It should be quilted at intervals of no more than 5 inches (12cm).

Like cotton it shrinks when washed, giving projects a puckered/ vintage feel, making it less suitable for projects other than quilts ( if you plan to wash them).

Silk Batting

silk wadding batting

The ultimate in luxury, silk batting gives you a light weight and airy result, you will need to quilt this product every 10-12cms (4-5″) and the finished product will need careful looking after, including hand washing and air drying.

It typically shrinks about 5 percent when washed.

Bamboo Batting

batting-wadding-close up
Available as a 50/50 cotton/bamboo blend (we stock this one) or made from 100 percent bamboo fibre, bamboo batting is naturally anti-bacterial & is a lighter fibre than cotton.

Quilting lines can be 20-25cm (8-10”) apart, it is machine washable, breath-able and although it does still shrink, it is by less than some of the other types of batting available.

Bamboo is the most environmentally friendly option, it is fast growing, and a sustainable fibre that is relatively eco-friendly.

Fusible Fleece
hh650-fusible-double-sided-fleece-interfacing-vilene-500x500

Vilene manufacture a number of fusible fleeces that can be used to add padding to your makes, H650 is fusible on both sides, making it perfect for quilting.  Simply sandwich the batting between your quilt layers and press to fuse the layers together – and there is no need to quilt the top and bottom together, just add binding to the raw edges and you are done.

Other Options

Up-cycle old and unloved blankets by using them as free batting!

Click here to download a PDF of this guide.

 

A Simple Girl’s Skirt For All Seasons – Sewing Tutorial

simple-skirt-sewing-tutorial-free-girls-elasticated-michael-miller-fabrics-cotton-summer

This pattern for a simple elasticated girl’s skirt is a true classic, with its origins lost in the mist of time!

My mum used to make these skirts for me in the 1970s and many of our customers still make them today for their own daughters, granddaughters, nieces, family and friends.

They are super easy to make, including cutting out they will take you around 30 minutes to make, and they don’t break the bank, typically using less than half a mtr of fabric and under a mtr of 25mm (1”) elastic.

Requirements

We have listed the requirements for standard sizes below, but as we all know children don’t come in standard sizes! If you want to make your skirt ‘made to measure’ it couldn’t be simpler….

Fabric width = waist measurement x2 *

Fabric length = measure from the waist to preferred length + 57mm (2.25”)

Elastic = waist measurement (buy 25mm/1” elastic)

Standard Sizes

simple-skirt-elasticated-size-chart

Notes:

* If the fabric you want to use isn’t wide enough, or if you want to use a border print, you could sew two pieces of fabric together to get the desired fabric width. To work out the size of each piece of fabric simply divide the width figure in the chart by 2 and then add 12mm (1/2”) for the extra seam created when you join the two pieces together.

** Nothing is written in stone with this pattern, if you fabric is not as wide as you need, but buying extra fabric to make a join will leave you with a large off cut, you could just use a piece of fabric which is not as wide as directed above, your skirt will just have less fullness/gathers.

*** If your fabric is not wide enough, cut two smaller pieces and sew them together. Each piece should be half the width figure shown PLUS 12mm (1/2”) for the extra seam.

If you are planning on finishing your seams with an overlocker/serger you can get away with 25mm (1”) less on the length of your fabric pieces.

A Note About Using Border Prints

We have used two ‘border print fabrics’ in this tutorial as they work particularly well in this situation, the first is from Michael Miller’s Sommer fabric collection and is double border, with the same print running along both sides of the fabric. The second is Michael Miller’s Gnomeville Christmas print (this one has the border running down one side only).

When working out your fabric requirements, for most fabrics (with or without a clear direction) you would use the width of the fabric for the width of the skirt, and buy a piece large enough to give you your desired length. However if you are using a fabric with a border print, this would result in the border being on the sides of your skirt instead of the bottom. To get the border to run around the bottom of the skirt, you need to:

  1. Buy a piece long enough for the width of your skirt – you will have a large off cut for another project or your stash.
  2. Or if your fabric has a double border, or a single border but you are happy to have the border only on the front of the skirt, buy a piece of fabric half the width of the skirt piece plus 12mm (1/2”).

Instructions

Step 1

‘Rough cut’ your fabrics by cutting slightly more than you need for your skirt. Then wash, dry and iron your fabrics before measuring and cutting out your pattern pieces (the fabrics will shrink in the first wash by approx. 3%).

Step 2 – For those of you using 2 pieces of fabric (if not you skip to step 3)

If you are using two pieces of fabric you will need to join your pieces together. Place one piece of fabric on top of the other, wrong sides facing each other (you will see the right side of the fabric). Sew a 6mm (1/4”) seam down one side and then trim the seam allowance back by approx. half (see images below).

simple-skirt-step1-joining-sides-french-seam-part-1

Now turn the fabric out, so that you are looking at the back of the fabric, and iron the seam, making sure the seam line runs along the crease.

simple-skirt-using-two-frenchseam-finish-sewing-tutorial-elastic-skirt-girls-children
Pin the two layers together and then sew a seam 6mm (1/4”) in from the existing seam line, this will trap all the loose threads and raw edges inside the seam allowance.

Turn your fabric out, so you are looking at the right side of the fabric, and iron the seam once more. You can now treat your fabric as one piece.

 

 

 

simple-skirt-overlocked-serged-sewing-tutorial-elastic-skirt-girls-children
Step 3 – For those of you using an overlocker/serger (if not you skip to step 4)

If you are using an overlocker/serger, finish your top and bottom raw edges now.

 

Step 4

Fold your fabric in half (from left to right), with the wrong sides facing each other – you will be looking at the right side of the fabric (see the next image).  Line up the raw edges and pin together along the vertical open side.

Sew the sides together using a 6mm (1/4”) seam allowance, trim the seam allowance back by half and then press the seam.

simple-skirt-step4-joining-two-sides-french-seam-tube-of-fabric

Turn your skirt out, so you are looking at the back of the fabric, and iron the seam you have just sewn, making sure the seam line is on the crease.

Pin the two layers of fabric together and then sew a new seam down the same side, 6mm (1/4”) in from the seam you have just sewn. You have just created a French seam, trapping all the raw edges inside – doesn’t it look lovely 🙂

Turn your skirt out the right way and iron along the seam line.

step5-simple-skirt-tube-of-fabric-made-with-french-seams

 

Step 5

Turn your skirt out the wrong way. Fold the top of the skirt over by 12mm (1/2”) and iron the crease into place (if you have overlocked your seams you can skip this step).

simple-skirt-elastic-channel-step1-sewing-tutorial-elastic-skirt-girls-children

Step 6

Fold the top of the skirt over, onto the back, by 30mm (1.25”) and iron the crease into place. This will be the elastic casing.

Sew along the bottom of the casing using a 6mm (1/4”) seam allowance – make sure the gap between the sew line and the top of the skirt is at least 2.5cm (1”) to accommodate the elastic.
LEAVE a gap of approx. 7.5cm (3”) on the back of the skirt, to one side, to feed the elastic through later.

simple-skirt-tutorial-step1-french-seam-first-seam

 

Step 7

Now feed the elastic through the gap you left earlier.

Pull the elastic clear of the skirt and sew the two ends of the elastic together using a zig zag stitch. Trim back the seam allowance and push the elastic back into the casing.

simple-skirt-threading-elastic-into-girls-skirt-sewing-tutorial

Step 8

Close the gap up left for the elastic.

simple-skirt-closing-elastic-casing-sewing-tutorials-girls-childrens-free

Step 9

Finish the bottom seam by folding the raw edge up 6mm (1/4”) ironing the crease in,  Fold the fabric up again by the same amount, hiding all the raw edges, and iron once again. Then top stitch or hand sew the hem.

NOTE: If you have used a serger/overlocker to finish your seams you can get away with only folding the fabric over once before hemming.

simple-skirt-girl-sewing-tutorial-free-sewing-hems

How pretty!

simple-skirt-finished-sewing-tutorial-free-girls

We love seeing your makes, so encourage you to share pictures of your skirts with us below, on Facebook or tag us in on Instagram (#printstopolkadots) 🙂

Materials Used: Michael Miller’s Christmas Print – Jolly Holly Gnomesville, Michael Miller’s Sommer Collection Double Border Print. 25mm (1″) wide elastic.

Click here to download a printer-friendly version of this pattern

One to One Quilting Course – Look What Tamsin Made!

tamsin quilt made on sewing course
Tamsin attended our 5 week introduction to sewing course here in Witney in Oxfordshire and then decided to try quilting, over a few sessions, with lots of homework and determination she made this – and it really is her first quilt!

Well done Tamsin and thank you for the picture, we love sharing makes and this one looks great 🙂

If you fancy learning how to quilt, join us on 24th June to make a quilted cushion cover over two sessions: http://www.printstopolkadots.co.uk/…/sewing-school-intro-to…
We will cover all the steps involved in making a full size quilt, but by making a cushion cover you can complete the make in less time, with no home work and a smaller cost.

If you fancy making a quilt like Tamsin get in touch via email, this one takes 4 sessions with some homework inbetween, but on a flexible timeline – as you complete a step you contact us and arrange a date to do the next bit etc.. Including all the materials to make a mtr square quilt this bespoke course is £120.