Author Archives: theboss

About theboss

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.

Mischief the Meerkat has Arrived

We have just received a new batch of sewing patterns from Melly and Me and look who made an appearance – Mischief the Meerkat!


Mischief stands 28cm (11″) tall and will proudly keep watch for any signs of danger.

This softie pattern is suitable for intermediate sewers and can be found in store at http://www.printstopolkadots.co.uk/gb/melly-n-me-mischief-the-meerkat-soft-toy-sewing-pattern.  One of a wide range of Melly and Me patterns – we are something of super fans of Melanie’s patterns and it is easy to see why!

 

 

You Don’t Need A Supa Dupa Sewing Machine to Learn to Sew!

Proof if any is needed that you don’t need a super dupa sewing machine to get started with this hobby!


This mini sewing machine was used to make a cushion cover, bunting, a reversible bag, bias tape, an apron and a zipper pouch on our last 5 week introduction to sewing course here in Witney, Oxfordshire.

If you are inspired to have a go join us in June on our 5 week introduction to sewing course – find out more at http://www.printstopolkadots.co.uk/gb/witney-sewing-school/sewing-courses-available-now/sewing-school-introduction

We can provide a full size sewing machine if you don’t have your own big or small one!

P.S.  Here is the finished apron you can see being sewn above, the fabrics are Dashwood Studio’s Peacocks on Blue and Riley Blake’s Bloom and Bliss – what a great combination!


Dashwood Studio’s Birdsong Fabric Collection Has Arrived!


Dashwood Studio’s Bird Song fabric collection has arrived and is everything we hoped for!

A muted and calming collection of birds, trees, mountains, and raindrops!

100% cotton and 110cm (44″) wide.  Perfect for dressmaking, quilting, home decor projects, bags and general crafts.

The collection includes a fab double border, the landscape runs along the selvedge with the sky in the middle of the fabric.  Because the print runs in opposite directions on each half of the fabric you need to think carefully about your project and the amount of fabric you will need, as use the fabric in one whole piece, 110cm (44″) wide, and half your fabric will be upside down!

That said we love the versatility of double border prints here at Prints to Polka Dots and they often end up saving you money – you can often get the print for the back and front of your skirt, or both sides for you cushion cover or bag out of the same width!

We are already planning beach bags, aline skirts, floor cushions and lampshades for this print.


 



We have also be playing with the rest of the collection, testing a pattern for sewing pattern brand Tried and True for a Clutch Bag – pics to follow shortly of the finished bag!

Click on any of the images to view the collection in store and don’t forget to tag us in on pictures you make with this collection, or share your makes with others on our Facebook page, we love to share and your pics are always so inspiring!


Unleash the Interior Designer Inside You!

Over the next few weeks we have a range of interior design themed sewing courses running at our Witney based Sewing School.

On Tuesday we are tackling cushion covers with button hole closures (great for beginners and those of you who have been put off by buttonholes).



Then we have the very popular curtain making workshop – we will make a small practice piece and send you away with all the skills need to measure up, work out fabric requirements, pattern match your fabrics and sew a lovely pair of pencil pleat curtains.


Later on in the season we will be making sooo practical floor cushions (we have a pile of these in the corner of the lounge for when children’s friends come or when there are crocodiles on the floor!).


We are really looking forward to lampshade making in June, this is a slightly shorter course than normal, and involves no sewing!  But once you have made your curtains you really do need a matching shade!



We hope you find a course or two that you can’t live without!

Luxury Lined Tote Sewing School Tutorial

We had great fun at our luxury tote sewing class here in Witney last week.

These lovely bags were all made in an evening and look great!  Emma (top left bag) has only been sewing for a week and half!

luxury tote bags sewing lesson feb 2017

The pattern for the bag can be downloaded for free from here our blog if you fancy making your own:
http://blog.printstopolkadots.co.uk/?p=135270

The fabrics used include: Riley Blake’s Ardently Austin, Dashwood Studio’s Secret Garden and Riley Blake’s Owl and Co .  We also used alot of interfacing to get that crisp yet cuddly look and keep the bags structured even when not in use, you can buy the interfacing as a kit at printstopolkadots.co.uk – click here!

You can find out more about our sewing school here.

Clutch Bag Sewing School Workshop

January and February have been soooo busy and as a result the blog has been neglected 🙁

Over the next few days we plan to share lots of images of items we have been making at out Sewing School here in Witney to celebrate the wonderful sewers we have met and inspire you all to get your sewing machines out and try something new.

First up – clutch bags with hidden zip up pockets.

Three lovely and talented ladies each made a clutch in an evening.  Mastering edgestitching and inserting pockets where the pocket is invisible and you only see the zip.

We are definitely going to run this one again, and if you aren’t local, look out for the sewing school project kit and pattern, both of which are coming soon 🙂

clutch-bag-sewing-lesson-sewing-school-witney-oxfordshire-finished-2

Fabrics used above are Riley Blake’s Little Flyers and Dashwood Studio’s Street Life (with a Kona Bahama Blue lining) – all available in store.

clutch-bag-sewing-lesson-sewing-school-witney-oxfordshire-finished-1

Fabrics used are Art Gallery’s Lace and Dashwood Studio’s Bloom Daisies – both available in store.

If you are wondering how we got the super luxury finish – the secret is the interfacing – S320 on the inside for a crisp and stiff finish, and H640 on the outside for a plush padded feel.

 

Introducing Our Sewing School Programme for 2017

sewing-school-2017

Sewing lessons are a great way to make some protected me time whilst learning something new or indulging your passion!  Here at our sewing school, based in Witney and Ducklington (in Oxfordshire) we cater for a wide range of skill levels, we keep classes small to ensure you get lots of one to one support, and aim to complete at least one project during each workshop/course.

So if you have always wanted to learn how to sew, or already have the basics covered and want to develop your skills, we have something for you.

We have listed below a summary of courses being held, by date, click on the descriptions to find out more about individual classes, or scroll down to the bottom of the screen and download our sewing school brochure.

If you have any questions please ask!

January 2017

Tuesday 10th – 5-week Introduction to Sewing course – 5 projects in 5 weeks, taking you from a novice to a practiced sewer with all the sewing building blocks in place to take you anywhere you want to go!

Thursday, 12th – Cushion Covers With Buttons – Take your cushion covers to the next level, making a feature of out of the opening by adding functioning buttons!

Friday 13th – 6 week Introduction to Dress Making course  – Make a capsule wardrobe and get it to fit!  We will start with a skirt, then top, then statement dress and shorts or trousers – we have a choice of patterns for each make too!

Thursday, 19th – Aline Skirt – A great introduction to dressmaking, you can choose between our classic a-line skirt with zip closure, or an elasticated version.  The zip up version of the skirt fits up to size 18, the elasticated version up to size 24.

Wednesday, 25th January – Perfect Fit Bust Adjustment course – We will make a simple t-shirt style top and adjust it for your shape – high or low, big or small bust!

February 2017

Wednesday, 1st – Piped Cushion Covers – The ultimate finish for a cushion cover!  We will make piping and use it in a cushion cover with an almost invisible zip.

Wednesday, 8th – Clutch Bag – This one is an intermediate class, we will cover how to make a zip up pocket inside your bag – the sort where you only see the zip!  You don’t need a lot of experience as the sewing is mostly straight lines, but need to know your way around your machine.

Tuesday, 21st – Luxury Tote Bag – Once you’ve made one you won’t be able to stop! Great for days out, shopping trips and as gifts for friends!  We will cover using interfacing, sewing straight lines, box corners, making straps and turning out, and there will be plenty of time to help newbies thread their machines etc..

Wednesday, 22nd – Sew a Girl’s Capsule Wardrobe course – Over 5 weeks we will tackle skirts, tops, dresses and trousers!

Tuesday, 24th – Quilting With Pellon – A really relaxed evening in which we wil use this great product to make perfect patchwork pieces, which we will sew into drawstring bags or placemats –  this makes quilting so easy it feels like cheating!28th – Introduction to Quilting (2 weeks) – Create a beautiful quilted cushion cover over two weeks and you have learned all the steps involved in making a full-size quilt!

Tuesday, 28th – Introduction to Quilting (2 weeks) – Create a beautiful quilted cushion cover over two weeks and you have learned all the steps involved in making a full-size quilt!

March 2017

Friday, 3rd – 5-week Introduction to Sewing course – 5 projects in 5 weeks, taking you from a novice to a practiced sewer with all the sewing building blocks in place to take you anywhere you want to go!

Tuesday 14th – Make Yourself a Dress – Over 2 weeks we will transfer the pattern and adjust to fit, cut the fabric and make your own couture dress!  

Tuesday, 28th March – A Very Girly Skirt – perfect for anyone who would like to make clothes for their children, we will cover seam finishes, sewing with elastic and gathering whilst making this, very, girly skirt!

April 2017

Tuesday, 4th – Girl’s Reversible Dress – make a classic reversible dress in an evening, suitable for ages 1 to 10.

Friday, 7th – Take 4 Fat Quarters – A fun evening when you get to pick 4 fat quarters from a wide selection and get sewing, a wide range of small project patterns will be available on the night.

To download a printer friendly version of our programme click here.

 

Personalised Placemats Free Sewing Tutorial

Welcome to our easy-peasy personalised quilted placemat tutorial.  What makes it easy peasy?  We use Pellon Quilters Grid and iron on applique letters to take the stress out and make piecing together quick and accurate.

easy-peasy-quilted-placemat-sewing-tutorial-1

Finished size: Approx 44cm x 36cm

Requirements

14 x 10cm squares of fabric (we used Riley Blake’s Princess Dreams collection)

1x 20cm x 30cm rectangle of fabric for the centre of the placemat

1x 38cm x 47cm of fabric for the back of the placemat

1 x MAX 10cm x 25cm of fabric for your applique (name in the centre)

2 x 6.5cm x full width of the fabric for binding

1x 38cm x 47cm of H630 fusible fleece (Use H640 for a more padded feel)

1x 38cm x 47cm of H650 double sided fusible fleece

1 x MAX 10cm x 25cm of Heat n Bond Adhesive for your applique (use Heat n Bond Ultra for a no-sew option, Heat n Bond Lite if you want to sew your applique onto your placemat).

1 x 45cm x 55cm Pellon 820 Quilters Grid

 

Instructions

Place your rectangle of Pellon 820 in front of you, adhesive side up (the grid will look fainter on this side).

Arrange your fabric squares on the Pellon, using the grid to help line up the pieces.  Aim to get the raw edges butting up against each other but don’t worry about gaps of the odd mm here and there.

quilted-placemat-sewing-tutorial-step-1-pellon
When you are happy with the design, iron the two layers together.  Trim away any excess Pellon, turn over and press again, making sure all the squares are stuck down.

Fold the right edge of the mat in towards the left.  The resulting fold should run between the first two columns of squares (see image below).  Pin the two layers together and then sew together, with your sewing machine foot running along the edge of the fold.

quilted-placemat-sewing-tutorial-step-2-piecing
Fold the mat over again towards the left, with the new crease running down between the next columns of squares (and through the main rectangle in the centre) and sew again.  Repeat this process working across your placemat until all the columns have been sewn.  Then iron the placemat flat.

quilted-placemat-sewing-tutorial-step-3-piecingmore
You now need to repeat this process working from the top to the bottom. Start by folding the top row down, along the gap between the first two rows of squares.  Sew with your sewing machine foot in line with the fold as before.

Keep repeating this process, folding down a row, and sewing until you run out of rows.

quilted-placemat-sewing-tutorial-step-1-piecing-finished
BEFORE ironing your mat, trim the seam allowance on the rows you have just sewn, back by approx. half (this will reduce the bulk).  Then turn over your mat and iron flat.

quilted-placemat-sewing-tutorial-iron
Put your placemat to one side and take your applique fabric, heat n bond adhesive and letter templates.

The letter templates are printed in mirror image, they will face the right way when you have finished!  Place your heat n bond adhesive over the top of the templates, and trace the letters you need for your name (you will be writing on the smooth side of the paper).

Iron the adhesive (bumpy side facing the back of your fabric) onto the back of your applique fabric and then cut your applique shapes out.

quilted-placemat-sewing-tutorial-applique-making

Peel the backing paper off each of your letters and arrange them in the centre of your placemat.  When you are happy with their position, iron into place.  If you have used Heat n Bond Ultra, skip onto the next step.  If you have used Heat n Bond Lite, top stitch your applique shapes.

quilted-placemat-sewing-tutorial-applique-top-stitch
The next step is to add the backing and wadding.  Start by ironing your H630 or H640 onto the back of your placemat- REMEMBER – you cannot iron directly on top of the interfacing, you will need to iron on the placemat, with the interfacing behind, or place a cloth between your iron and the interfacing (the bumpy side of the interfacing should be facing the back of the placemat).

Now place your backing fabric in front of you, back of the fabric facing you, and then place your piece of H650 on top, followed by your placemat.  Iron the three layers together until firmly fused.

Trim back your placemat to get rid of excess interfacing and ensure the mat is squared off.

quilted-placemat-sewing-tutorial-adding-layers

Almost finished!  The next step is to make the binding tape for the edges and then sew it into place.

Take your two pieces of binding fabric and place them together, so that the right sides are facing each other, and they form a right angle, with approx. 1cm (1/2”) of fabric sticking out on each side (see image below).  Pin the two pieces of fabric together and then sew across the square where they overlap, from the top left corner to the bottom right (imagine you are cutting off the outside corner).

Open the binding out and iron the seam out flat, trim away any excess fabric from the top and bottom edges.

Finish your tape by folding in half so that the long raw edges lines up, and iron.

placemat-binding

Pin your binding into place on one side on the back of your placemat (I pinned it on the wrong side in the first image!).  You are looking to get the tape to start about 1/3rd of the way down the side, and you will actually start sewing about 12-15cm below the start of the fabric.

Sew down your tape STOPPING approx. 12mm (1/4”) from the edge of the placemat.  Move away from your sewing machine and fold the tape back into a triangle as shown in the image below.  Then fold the tape back into position along the next side of the mat and pin into place.

Sew from the corner until you get approx. 12mm (1/4”) from the next corner and repeat these steps.

Continue until you are approx. 12-15cm from the start of the tape.

quilted-placemat-sewing-tutorial-binding

You now need to join the two ends of the tape and sew the binding into place on the back of the placemat.   I have copied the instruction written for our Little Ark quilt below to help you with this.

Lay the tape into position, overlapping the ends.  Trim the end of the top tape, so that it ends 6.5cm over the start of the bottom tape.

joining-tape-quilt-binding-1
Unpin the start of the tape and then open out both ends of the tape.  Place the two ends together, right sides facing and at a right angle to each other (see image above) and sew together along the yellow line in the image above.  Turn the fabric over and check that the binding tape falls flat on the quilt, adjust if necessary, when you are happy with the finish, trim the excess fabric away and iron the seam flat.

Fold the binding tape back in half and pin into place along the edge of your placemat and sew together.

Turn your placemat over and hand sew the binding onto the reverse (you make find the corners are easier to sew if you cut the tip of the placemat’s corners away first – TAKE CARE NOT TO cut through the binding).

Instructions Taken From our Little Ark Quilt Tutorial

Start half way down one side.  Put a knot in your cotton and sew it into the edge of the quilt, don’t go through to the front of the quilt, just down and back up through the quilt back and batting.

binding-little ark - part 1

Take your needle up through the binding on the crease (fold) line.

Push the needle back down as close to the point where you just came through as possible (making an almost invisible stitch) pass the needle down through the backing fabric and batting (do not go through to the front, just the back and batting) and back up into the middle of the binding, stopping inside the crease.   Then push the needle along the INSIDE of the crease, before coming back up out of the top of the binding (see image below).  Repeat these steps to the corner.

binding-little ark - part 2

When you reach the corner, finish with the needle pointing up out of the backing fabric, ready to go back into the binding tape.  Fold the next side of the binding tape over to make a mitred corner (the fabric should be folded into a triangle as in the first image below, before folding over).  Take the needle up through the point of the triangle (if you are using very wide binding you might want to add a few stitches along the mitred edge).  Then turn the quilt and work the next side. Continue sewing sides and corners until you get back to the start.

binding-little ark - part 3

Finished!

Admire your handy work and don’t forget to send us a picture – on Facebook (Printstopolkadots) or by tagging us in on Instagram #printstopolkadots – we love seeing your makes.

For a printer friendly version click here (you will also need our applique letter templates – available here).
To buy the fabrics used above (Riley Blake’s Princess Dreams) click here
To buy this project as a kit click here

The Perfect Drawstring Storage Bag – Free Sewing Tutorial

drawstring-bag-tutorial-main-image
Welcome to FREE our drawstring bag sewing tutorial.  We can’t claim to have invented drawstring bags, but we think our approach to making them is a bit special.  We have refined the pattern to ensure all the raw edges are hidden inside the bag – without the need to use a lining (so keeping the cost down!) and the ribbons are sewn in to prevent them being pulled out by an over enthusiastic end user!

We hope you enjoy using our tutorial, please do share your makes with us on Facebook or Instagram #printstopolkadots.

The Tutorial

Finished size: Customized!

Requirements

The size of your drawstring bag is entirely up to you!

If you need your drawstring bag to be a specific size, complete the table below to work out your requirements:

Finished width x length                                     …………. X …………..

Finished width plus 4cm                                   ………….. width of fabric required

Finished length plus 7cm                                  ………….. length of fabric required*

If you already have a piece of fabric and want to know how big a bag you can make with it…

Fabric width x length                                        …………. X …………..

Fabric width minus 4cm                                    ………….. finished width

Fabric length minus 7 then divided by 2         ………….. finished length*

In addition to your fabric, you will need 2x pieces of ribbon approx. 1.75-2 times the finished width of your bag.

If you would like to make a label slot on the front, you will also need a small piece of clear PVC (we bought 0.5mm clear PVC from Ebay).

*For fabrics with a particular direction add an additional 4cm.

This pattern involves folding your fabric in half to make the basic bag shape, with the fold running along the bottom.  If your fabric has a clear direction this will result in the pattern being upside down on one side of your bag.  If you want the fabric to be facing the right way on both sides, you will need to cut your fabric in half (along the bottom) and turn one piece around to ensure both sides are facing the right way up. 

Pin your two pieces of fabric together, wrong sides facing each other, double checking pattern direction on both sides. Sew together along the bottom, then cut the seam allowance back by half.

Turn your fabrics out so that the right sides are facing each other and the sewn line is running along the bottom.  Press and then sew across the bottom one more time (you have created a tidy French seam).  Continue as if the fabric is a single piece.


Instructions

OPTIONAL CLEAR PLASTIC POCKET

Cut your plastic to your preferred size and position on the front of your bag, pin into place.

Sew around the top bottom and one short side.  You can use any stitch you like, as long as you have pinned your fabric in a couple of places it won’t move.  We used a tight zig zag stitch to cover all the edges.

plastic-window-in-drawstring-bag

Step 1 – ALL

Place your fabric in front of you so that the part you want to become the top of the bag is at the top and you are looking at the back.

Measure down the left side, from the top, 5.5cm.  Draw a line, 2cm long, in from the side and make a cut along the line (see images below).

Repeat this process, measuring up 5.5cm from the bottom (on the same side) and making a cut approx. 2cm wide as before.

drawstring-bag-tutorial-step-1-free-sewing

Step 2

Still working on the left side.  Fold the section above the top cut line in, so that the wrong sides of the fabric are facing each other, and the fold is lined up with the inside edge of the cut.  Press and top stitch the fabric into place.

Repeat these steps at the bottom.

drawstring-bag-tutorial-step-2-free-sewing-tutorial


Step 3

Fold the top edge over by 12mm (1/2”) and iron the crease into place.  Then fold over again by 18mm (3/4”) and iron once more.

Top stitch the fabric into place, close to the folded internal edge, and then repeat these steps along the bottom edge (we lined the sewing machine foot up with the folded edge on the left, and then moved our needle position to the left).

drawstring-bag-tutorial-step-3-free-sewing-tutorial

STEP 4

Place a large safety pin in the end of one piece of ribbon and thread it through the opening on one side of the bag.  Pull through to the opposite side.  You are looking to get approx. 1cm poking through the side you have not yet cut or folded (see image below).  Once in position, sew across the short edge of the opening, trapping the ribbon, and then trim away any excess ribbon on this edge.

drawstring-bag-tutorial-step-4-free-sewing-tutorial
Repeat this process with your second piece of ribbon in the channel at the bottom of your fabric.


Step 5

Fold the fabric in half, from the bottom to the top, with the wrong sides of the fabric facing each other (you will be looking at the right side of the fabric) and pin the layers together.

Sew down each long side, on the left, where the ribbons are, start just below the ribbons (this will be under the cut you made earlier).

Once you have finished sewing, trim the seam allowance on the two long sides, back by half.

drawstring-bag-tutorial-step-5-free-sewing-tutorial

Step 6

Turn your bag inside out, so you are looking at the wrong side of the fabric.  Iron your bag flat, ensuring the seams you have just sewn are on the left and right folds.

Sew the left and right seams once more (as in step 5) BUT DO NOT trim the seam allowance back.

drawstring-bag-tutorial-step-6-free-sewing-tutorial

Now turn your bag out the right way – ta dah!

 

During This Tutorial You Have Used French Seams – Here is Why…

One of the biggest challenges when sewing is dealing with raw edges, they don’t look nice and when you start using your projects they start to unravel.  You can deal with these edges in a number of ways, one of which is French seams.

When sewing regular seams you place your fabrics together, right sides facing each other, then you sew together and turn the fabrics out the right way, the raw edges are hidden on the back of your fabric, but are still there, waiting to unravel!

When you sew French seams you start by placing your fabrics together with the wrong sides facing each other, you then sew together as normal.  Next you trim the seam allowance back – that’s the fabric between the edge of the fabric and your sew line, you need to cut about half the fabric away.  Then you turn the fabric out so you are looking at the back of the fabric, iron flat, and then sew again, using the same seam allowance.  This captures all the raw edges inside the sewn section, hiding them from sight and stopping them unravelling.

Why not try…

When you get more confident you could..

  • Give your bag a ‘boxed’ bottom – look out for future tutorials on our blog.
  • Applique a letter or some text on the front of your bag to identify the owner, or the bag’s use.
  • Quilt the front panel – a great way to use up your favourite scraps.

NOTES ABOUT THIS TUTORIAL

We used Riley Blake’s Medium Dot fabric for our drawstring bag – click here to view in store.
We also used Doodlebug’s striped ribbon – click here to view in store.

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

Reverse Applique Tutorial

We are currently working on our comprehensive guide to making and sewing applique and can’t wait to share our hints and tips with you.

We have had lots of fun making the samples used in the tutorials and wanted to share this excerpt from our guide with your, focusing on sewing reverse applique.

reverse-applique-tutorial-free-motage

  1. Cut your applique fabric slightly larger than your applique shape.
  2. Spray your fabrics with starch – available at the supermarket (no need to buy anything special).  This will add just enough stiffness to help maintain your shape and the drape of your main fabric, preventing stretching and bunching up when you sew your shape into place.
  3. Trace your applique shape onto the back of the applique fabric facing the wrong way (so that when you flip the fabric over the shape is facing the right way).
  4. Pin your applique fabric over your main fabric, right side of the applique fabric facing the wrong side of the main fabric.
  5. Sew the two pieces of fabric together using a straight stitch and your usual stitch length, sewing along the line you have drawn on your applique fabric – DO NOT BACK STITCH.
  6. Pull the threads through to the back of your shape, tie off and trim.
  7. Trim the excess fabric away from the outside edges of your shape on the back of your main fabric.
  8. Turn your fabric over, so you are looking at the right side of your main fabric.  Pull the two layers of fabric apart and snip into the main fabric layer, in the middle of your applique shape.
  9. Continue to cut through the top layer of fabric, removing the top layer of fabric from INSIDE, your applique shape, a few mms in from the edge.

Washing the fabric will make the raw edges inside the sew line fluff up, giving an aged look.

Share your applique pics with us on Facebook or Instagram (#printstopolkadots).