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Hi, my name is Claire and I own Prints to Polka Dots, share your thoughts with likeminded souls visiting our blog, and while your at it let us know what products you would like to see stocked in future.

Christmas Tree Table Runner Sew Along Day 3

Welcome to day 3 of our Christmas Tree Table Runner Sew Along.

If you’ve missed it so far here are some handy links:

Today we are going to add the end pieces and tree trunks.  Then on day four, we will tackle quilting and binding.

By now you should have:

  • the main tree shapes all sewn together, with sashing strips in between the shapes.
  • the binding strips sewn together and put to one side for later.
  • a minimum of one 6.4cm (2.5″) square put to one side for each tree in your runner (for a standard runner you should have a minimum of 8 squares).

Part 3…

Trim the short sides of your table runner back straight (you will be cutting off the excess filler strip at each end).

Take your rectangle of filler fabric 20cm x 27cm long (8” x 11”).  Looking at the back of your fabric, place the template on top – it is really important that you are looking at the back of the fabric and that the template is on top with the writing on the template facing you.  Trace your template, then turn it around so it fits in the rest of the fabric, and trace around it a second time.

Cut the fabric pieces out and place one at each end of the runner to ‘square off’ the table runner.

Flip the left end piece over, on top of the table runner, the long diagonal edges should be lined up, you will find that a small nib of fabric sticks out over the bottom edge of the runner (see image below) this is correct.

Sew the fabrics together, iron the seam out flat.

Repeat these steps at the other end of the table runner.

Now is a great time to square everything off.

If you are new to quilting, this is the process of cutting the table runner straight on each side.  Make sure the corners are right angles and trim each side back straight.

Now we will move onto the tree trunks.  Start by cutting filler strips into the following sizes:

  • 6 x 21.2cm
    (If you have made a longer table runner you will need 2 more of these strips for every 2 extra
  • 2 x 22cm
  • 2 x 10cm

You will also need the 6.4cm (2.5”) squares you put to one side earlier.

Lay your tree trunks out in your preferred design, along the top and bottom of the table runner, and insert 21.2cm filler pieces between them.  At the wider ends add 22cm pieces, and at the short ends place your 10cm pieces.

Sew the trunk pieces to the filler pieces, creating two rows of fabric, one above the main body of the table runner, and one below.

TIP: Once you have sewn a few strips and trunks together, place your new strip back in your design and check the trunks are landing centrally at the bottom of the trees.  If you have had to trim your trees back harder than me, or if your seam allowance is less or more than 6mm (1/2″), you may find the trunks are not central – better to find out now and adjust your strip lengths, than wait until you have sewn all the pieces together!

Now you are going to sew your new strips to the main part of the table runner.  The trick is to line the middle of the tree trunks up with the middle of the trees.  Fold the left edge of the body of the runner over, so that the tip of the first tree is on the fold, then press.  Then fold the left edge of the tree trunk strip over, so that the two sides of the first trunk are on top of each other (and the trunk is in half) – press this fold also.

Unfold the two fabric strips and then place the trunk strip on top of the main tree strip, right sides facing each other, with the two creases and raw edges lined up.  Stick a pin in the crease line.  Now line the middle of the rest of the tree trunks up with the middle of each tree.  You can do this by eye, using a quilting ruler, or by creasing the mid points of all the remaining tree trucks and trees and lining them up as before – pin into place.

Add any further pins necessary in-between the tree trunks and then sew the trunks into place.

Iron the seam allowance out flat and then repeat the process on the other side.

Square off the ends (trim away any excess tree trunk strip fabric back in line with the rest of the table runner).

The top of your table runner is finished!  Tomorrow we will start quilting 🙂


Christmas Tree Table Runner Sew Along – Day 2

Welcome to day 2 of our Christmas Tree Table Runner Sew Along.

If you missed day 1 – click here to download the requirements, templates and instructions to get you up to the point where you have all your tree shapes sewn together and cut out.

Today we are going to sew our trees together then tomorrow we will add the and add the end pieces and tree trunks.  Then on day four, we will tackle quilting and binding.

By now you should have:

  • your binding strips all cut, sewn together and put to one side.
  • a minimum of one 6.4cm (2.5″) square put to one side for each tree in your runner (for a standard runner you should have a minimum of 8 squares).
  • all your tree shapes cut out, using the template available to download in part 1.

Start by laying your trees out in your preferred design.

Cut 7 x 30cm strips of your filler fabric (put the off cuts to one side for later).

If you have made your table runner longer than ours, you will need one extra strip for every extra tree in your design.

Place one strip between each pair of trees in your design – DO NOT place any strips at the ends of the runner, only in-between pairs of trees.

Working from the left to the right, we are going to sew one strip to each tree shape.

Take the first tree on the left and the adjacent strip (this should be on the right of the tree).  Flip the tree over, so that:

  • the right side of the tree is facing the right side of the strip below,
  • the left hand long raw edges of the two fabrics are lined up,
  • 3cm of the strip fabric extends below the bottom left corner of the tree.

Sew the two strips together. DO NOT press the seam open.

Take a ruler and measure down from the tip, along the side of the tree without a strip attached, 1.5cm (5/8ths”) and make a small mark.

Press the sewn seam open.

Now trim the bottom of the strip back in line with the bottom of the tree.  DO NOT touch the top of the tree.

Place the tree back in your design.  Flip the next tree over onto the next strip, line the tree and strip up as before, remembering to leave 3cm of strip visible at the bottom of the tree.

Sew together and then press the seam open.   Now trim the bottom of sashing back in line with the bottom of the tree.  DO NOT touch the top of the tree.

Looking at the back of your tree, locate the bottom corner of the tree, on the side without the sashing and make a mark 6mm in from the corner (along the bottom edge).

Continue to work across your design, adding trees to strips, and marking 6mm in along the bottom of each tree.

When you reach the last tree you will not have a strip to attach – this is correct.  Turn the last tree over, so you are looking at its back, and mark 6mm in from the bottom right corner.

With the trees laid out in their final positions….

Fold the first (left hand) tree over onto the next tree, so that:

  • The right sides of the trees are facing each other.
  • The long raw edge of the strip is lined up with the long raw edge of the tree underneath.
  • The mark you made near the top of the top tree is lined up with the bottom edge of the bottom tree.

Sew the two trees together along the long raw edge of the top strip and then press the seam open.

Trim the strips back straight (in line with the bottom of the trees, both those facing up and down).

Now add the next tree.  This time make sure that:

  • The right sides of the trees are facing each other.
  • The long raw edge of the third tree is lined up with the long raw edge of the strip attached to the second tree (the bottom tree).
  • The mark you made along the bottom of the third tree is lined up with the outside edge of the table runner.

Sew the tree into place and press the seam open.  Then trim the excess sashing from the seam allowance on the back of your table runner and from the top of the table runner.

Continue adding the rest of your trees in the same way as the last tree.

Well done!   Tomorrow we will add the end pieces and the tree trunks 🙂


Christmas Tree Quilted Table Runner Sewing Tutorial – Free!

Christmas Tree Table Runner Tutorial
Approx. 109cm x 34cm (43” x 13.5”)


One x Christmas Tree Table Runner kit – click here, or….

9 x 6.4cm (2.5”) strips of fabric (110cm/44” wide) in a range of colours/non-directional patterns for the trees – we used Dashwood Studio Twists – Click here to view instore.

5 x 6.4cm (2.5”) strips of white fabric (110cm/44” wide) for the areas around the trees (we used Dashwood Studio’s Twist in white) – will refer to these strips as filler strips in the instructions!

20cm x 27cm long (8” x 11”) of the same fabric you used for the strips, to fill in the ends of the table runner.

115cm x 40cm (45.5” x 16”) of wadding, we used heat resistant wadding.

115cm x 40cm (45.5” x 16”) of backing fabric (you could get away with using 110cm wide fabric if you are happy to lose a few cms from each end in the final trim).

You will also need our tree and filler templates – click here to download.


Making a longer table runner

This pattern uses half of the tree fabric strips to make the trees and half to make the multi-coloured binding around the outside of the table runner. 

If you only use the tree strips for trees, you can double the number of trees you can cut from the same amount of fabric.  Simply add another fabric to your requirements list for the binding – you will be cutting 6.5cm (2.5”) strips from the binding fabric, and need enough strips to go around the outside of your runner, plus 15-20cm (5” to 8”) – don’t forget to increase your filler strips (allow 75cm for each extra tree), your wadding and backing fabric!



Cut one 6.4cm (2.5”) square from each of your tree strips.

You need one per tree in your table runner, so if your table runner has more than 10 trees in it, you will need extra 2.5” squares, you can cut two squares from each strip without affecting the number of trees you can cut out.


Lay the remainder of the strips (the longer parts) out in front of you and decide on your layout (each tree will include 5 fabrics).

To replicate our design the layout should be:

1.       Red spots                   6.      Red swirls

2.       Blue swirls                  7.      Green spots

3.       Green spots               8.      Gold swirls

4.       Pink swirls                  9.      Orange spots

5.       Brown spots              10.    Mustard swirls

Place the bottom two strips on top of each other, right sides facing each other, and sew together along one long side.

Place your sewn strips back in your pattern and then place the next strip in the pattern on top of the top sewn strip.  Sew along the long raw straight edge.

Continue adding strips in this way until you have sewn all your strips together.

Now iron your seams out flat.

If you are making the same size runner as ours, you now need to cut seven, 6.4cm (2.5”) wide strips from your patchwork.

If you are using a separate fabric for your binding, cut that into sufficient strips (6.4cm/2.5″ wide) to go around the whole of your table runner, plus approx. 20cm (8“).

You now need to sew your strips together to make one long strip (this will be used to bind your table runner later on).   Take two of your strips and place them on top of each other, right sides facing each other, with the strips arranged to ensure that the two squares on top of each other on at right end are not the same.  Sew together along the short edge and then press the seam open.

Continue adding the rest of your strips to your chain.

Finish by ironing your tape in half long ways (so that the long raw edges meet).

Roll up your binding tape and secure with a pin for later.

Place what is left of your patchwork back in front of you and start drawing your tree shapes out.

Bear in mind that the tip of the triangle will disappear in your seam allowance, so you need to include a lot of the top fabric in your tree if you want to be sure to see it.  We found it useful to draw a line along the 5th fabric down, halfway down the strip, to use as a baseline for the tree template.

Work across the fabric, flipping the template up and then down, until you have filled the first five rows with triangles (if you are making our standard size runner you will have 4 trees drawn at this stage).

Move down to the second half of the patchwork and draw another line, this time halfway down the bottom row of fabric.  Draw your tree shapes as before.  You should now have a minimum of 8 trees drawn out.

Cut your trees out and lay them out to create your preferred design.

Tomorrow we will sew all the trees together!


Two Stitches Charlie Hoodie Sewing Pattern Road Test

Feeling excited about my new challenge to test out the Two stitches Charlie Hoodie sewing pattern, a great pattern for boys and girls upto age 9 – click here to view instore.

Claire sent over the fabric, Rico Woodland Camping and it went straight into the washing machine.

Fabric dry so time to set about the new challenge.

The first hurdle I hit is pattern matching the front, the front of the hoodie looks like an upside down Y shape, sounds easy but it is really important if using a patterned fabric to have the front middle pattern matched as it is so prominent, you can see it below cutting right through the Reindeer.

This was my second attempt as I had not thought about pattern matching on the first cut and ended up with reindeer head along with half a squirrel on a boat on the other side of the sew line!

The rest of the pattern worked like a dream the end result looked so professional, despite being so easy to make.

As we are going to add this to our children’s capsule wardrobe sewing workshops I decided to try again, this time altering the pattern to get rid of the join down the middle of the front – avoiding that tricky pattern matching!

I folded over the right edge of the front pattern piece (the side that becomes the middle of the front) by my seam allowance.

Then I folded the front fabric in half, right sides facing each other, and placed the amended pattern piece on top, with the folded over edge on the fold of the fabric.

My choice of fabric this time was Rico Magical Summer Unicorns in Party Hats!

The end result was perfect!

Conclusion cut on fold method is best for patterned fabric, whereas Y shape detail is nice on a solid fabric so best not cut on fold.

I do hope you enjoy making up this hoodie as much as I did.


Sewing School Events January to March 2018

We are so excited to share our sewing school programme with you for January to March 2018.

All our lessons are held just outside of Witney in Oxfordshire, in the village of Ducklington, at a venue with parking and no stairs to navigate.

You can bring your own sewing machine with you (it is always better to learn on the machine you will be using at home) or use one of ours.

If you have any questions email, if you would like to make a booking visit our website – click here.

Take Your Dressmaking For Children to the Next Level…

We have a great range of sewing lessons coming up, designed to take your sewing skills to the next level whilst making clothes for children.

We hold all our lessons in Ducklington, just outside Witney, here in Oxfordshire and you can find out more about this course and all our other group and one to one lessons by clicking on any of the images below…

Course Overview

Our Intermediate Dressmaking for Childrens Clothes course can be taken in a block of 4 lessons, seeing you make 2-3 projects from the selection below, or you can choose to come along to a single, two or three lessons to focus on the particular projects you want to make.

The Projects

Trousers with proper pockets (Ages 1to 8).

Make a pair or versatile trousers, these can be day trousers or pj bottoms!  and add inseam (hidden) pockets or visible pockets as in the pair below.

“These are doable in one lesson and once you have this technique nailed you will be adding pockets to everything!”

Leggings (Ages 1 to 8)

Take a deep breath and face your fear of sewing with stretchy fabric whilst making leggings.

“In one session you will learn about how to handle stretchy fabrics from cutting out to finishing your fabrics and sewing – you will never look back!”

Girl’s Blouse (Ages 1 to 8)

This gorgeous blouse will really expand your skill set, with a pretty peter pan collar, sleeves, sewing with elastic and buttonholes all in this timeless garment.

This project takes an average sewer about one and half sessions to complete without homework.

“This pattern is so versatile it can be made in any fabric plus it can also be made into shirt dress with long sleeves, my suggestion make the shirt dress in knit to give it that beautiful warm soft feeling. Just right for those chilly Autumn days.”

Tailored Shirt (Ages 1 to 6)

This shirt is a true miniature copy of a grownup’s shirt, with a pleat in the back to help the wearer move with ease and a proper collar.

You will need two sessions to complete this shirt in class.

“Perfect shirt for that “just like Daddy” feeling, once technique has been learnt no reason not to up size and make one for Daddy too”

Unisex Hoodie (Ages 1 to 8)

Another project picked with those of you interested in learning to sew with stretchy fabrics in mind.  This soft and cuddly hoodie is perfect for autumn winter.

You could take this project on in a single session, but bear in mind you may find you have some finishing off at home – hems for example.  If you choose to make it over two sessions you may find you have time to squeeze in some shorts or leggings.

“A lovely cosy top that looks very professional but surprisingly  easy to make”

Skater Dress (Ages 1 to 10)

Little girls love to twirl in this dress!  Another make that is great for those of you who are interested in learning to sew with stretchy fabrics, this one can be made in a single session.

“This is a dream to make, the top is fully lined taking care of all those raw seams. It is certainly doable in one session even for new sewers. Girls will love to dance in this. Plus side of making in knit no ironing required just wash and wear.”

Reversible Dress (Ages 6 months to 5 years)

Perfect for age 5 and under and for the party season!  This reversible dress is suitable for all levels of experience.

You will need one session to make this dress.

“With a really clever technique for turning this dress out, you avoid any hand sewing!  This dress will see a very lucky girl through all seasons with the addition of a cardigan and tights in the colder spells”

Party Dress (Ages 2 to 8)

This is one of the more challenging makes on our intermediate dressmaking course, but it is worth the extra time taken to make this beautiful party dress.

Allow two sessions for this dress with a lined bodice, buttons up the back and a full, twirly skirt.

“This dress is mid calf length and has a very fully skirt, making it perfect for twirling. It is perfect for parties, although my granddaughter wears her’s as soon as it is back in the wardrobe.”

Note this picture is back of dress

Babygrow (Ages birth to 2)

Who wouldn’t be pleased to receive one of these beautiful babygrows.  Allow two sessions for this make and you will probably be able to squeeze in a beanie hat made from offcuts.

Tackle sewing with stretchy fabrics, binding stretchy fabrics and using poppers!

“So cute, it looks challenging, but is really not too difficult, trickiest bit I found was getting the poppers on the right way round!”

Dashwood Studio Merry Little Christmas Advent Calendar Sew Along

I have been having fun making these Dashwood Studio advent calendars from their Merry Little Christmas fabric range.

Claire asked me to make one up as a sample for the Pop Up Shop here in Witney, but each time a grandchild comes to visit and they see it, I get another request for one!

I am now up to number 4 and its only October!

I have learnt a few tips whilst making them, so have decided to share some simple instructions with photographs on making the panel and the quilting method I used.

Once made you can have fun, year after year, filling them with lots of little surprises!




1 x Dashwood Studio’s Merry Little Christmas Advent Calender Sewing Panel

50cm x 60cm of fabric for the back of the calendar (in this tutorial we have used an off cut of a fabric from last Christmas, but on the others we used a Kona Solid, available in a wide range of colours).

60cm x 50cm of wadding for the calendar – we recommend using fusible wadding to save time, and have used Vilene H650 in this tutorial.  It is perfect for this project as you can fuse it to the front and back of the calendar and so avoid the need to quilt the layers together.

You will also need a doweling rod (42cm long) to hang your calendar (available at most DIY stores or wood merchants), or ribbon to create ties.

You can also buy all you need (except the doweling rod) as a kit at Prints to Polka Dots.

Sewing Instructions

1. Cut the back section from your advent calendar panel following the outer edge of the red seam allowance.

2. Cut the pocket strips out of the other half of the panel, cutting around the outer edge of the ecru seam allowance.

3. Press over the seam allowance over along the top edge of each pocket strip.

4. Make a box pleat between each pocket by bringing the sides together to meet the dotted centre line and press into place.

5. Press the side and bottom seam allowances along each pocket strip.

6. Line each of the pocket strips up on the other half of the panel, using the printed coloured squares on the backing panel as a guide (the order of the pockets is up to you, as the idea of a calendar is to have to search for those numbers!).

Pin each pocket strip into place at the sides and through the middle of each of the pleats to form the pockets.

7. Stitch the pocket strips down where pinned (outside vertical edges and vertical seams that make up the pockets) – don’t forget to back stitch as those little hands will put stress on these seams!

8. Refold the pleats and press the pockets, then pin into place, making sure the pockets are straight and the bottom corners of each pocket are touching the neighbouring pocket corners.

9. Stitch along the bottom of each pocket strip.

9. You will now have a completed panel


My Method for Turning the Panel into a Hanging Advent Calendar

1. Measure panel and cut backing fabric to size

2. Lay the backing fabric down, so you are looking at the right side.  Place the panel on top so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each other, you will be looking at the back of the panel.

3. You are now going to sew the two layers together along the left, right and bottom edges (NOT the top).  IMPORTANT, start your sewing 3cm down from the top of one side (starting 3cm down will create the gap for the doweling to eventually go through).

Turn inside out (it should look like pillowcase)

4. Cut a piece of wadding the same size as the backing fabric to go in between the panel and backing fabric. (I used Vilene – Fusible Fleece 3 Fusible on Both Sides H650 as this does not have to be stitched through to hold in place).


5. Insert the wadding into your ‘pillowcase’ and get rid of any lumps (this is a bit like stuffing a duvet into its cover)!

6. Iron both sides of the cotton fabric, so that the wadding fuses on both sides

7. Topstitch along the sides and bottom excluding the 3cm left for the dowling on one side (the top edge will still be unsewn).

8. Make a loop for hanging using ribbon, fabric or bias binding folded in two and stitched. I cut a length the same size as the pole. But it is really personal choice – if you make your own loop, have fun with those stitches on your sewing machine for an extra special touch!

9. Turn the raw edges along the top of the calendar inside the calendar and press and pin the folds into place.

10. Lay the advent calendar out in front of you.  The next step is to push about 1cm of each end of the loop strip in between panel and backing to make your hanging loop. I measured in 3cm from each side.  Pin into place, making sure your hanging loop isn’t twisted.

11.Top stitch along the top of the calendar, as you did for the sides and bottom.close to edge along the top

12. Measure down 2cm from the first row of top stitches at the top of your calendar.  Sew another line of top stitches along the top, keeping 2cm down from your last line of stitches, to create the space needed for your doweling rod.

13. Cut a piece of doweling 42cm long and push this through casing.

14.  Close the gap you left for the doweling and sew.


Just need to have fun filling the pockets!!!


Dashwood Studio Tour Day 4 – Serengeti Fabric Collection

Check out Dashwood Studio’s latest fabric collection, Serengeti.  Designed by Elena Essex, the collection is inspired by the big cats and floral and fauna from the plains of the Serengeti.

As usual, we have created a short video to show this collection ‘in person’…

The collection is so new that we don’t have any images of makes to share with you for this one yet!  But we can see fun makeup bags and french knickers being made already!

You can buy the collection in store at, and please do share images of your makes #printstopolkadots on Instagram, or pop a post on our Facebook page printstopolkadots


What is Cotton Poplin?

If you are used to sewing with medium weight cotton fabrics (also referred to as quilting cotton) then you may not be familiar with cotton poplin.

Cotton poplin is a pure cotton, it isn’t mixed with anything synthetic, but it is a lighter weight than a medium weight cotton, so it has a soft drape which makes its ideal for dressmaking when sewing summer clothes, or outfits which need to drape the body in a soft way.

We have produced a short video to introduce this fab fabric to you, explaining where to use it and why, and previewing some of our cotton poplins along the way…

Don’t forget to check out our growing range of poplins in store…

Dashwood Studio Tour Day 3 – Copenhagen Fabric Collection

Day three of our tour and we have hopped over to Denmark for Jilly P’s Copenhagen fabric collection for Dashwood Studio.

The collection includes butterflies, birds, florals and leaves, with some reminiscent of pencil drawings and others like beautiful watercolours, all in a blue and white colour palette.

These fabrics are 100% medium weight cotton, 110cm (44″) wide and are suitable for dressmaking, quilting, bag making, home decor and general craft projects.

If you love the collection but want to add more colours, why not add Dashwood Studio’s Twists in Apple and Gold….

Check out this collection on our YouTube channel and see the prints up close as well as combined with Kona Solids and Dashwood Twists…

What to Make…

Although this is still a very new collection, there are already lots of sewers busy working with this fab collection.

At a beach bag sewing lesson here at Prints to Polka Dots this great looking bag was made with the birds print on the outside and Club Tropicana’s Birds on Yellow for the lining!

This mini quilt appeared is Dashwood Studio’s Instagram feed…

and here is the Two Stitches Pattern for the Edie Blouse (also in store :-) made up in Dashwood’s Mori Girl Dogs print and the gorgeous butterfly print from Copenhagen…

We can’t wait to see what you all make with this collection – remember to send us your pics on Facebook or #printstopolkadots in your Instagram posts 🙂