Long arming


On Sunday, I travelled across the country to Telford to rent a long arm machine for a few hours at Penny’s house (see Ginger Patch Crafts website). This was my first go on a long arm machine ever and I was surprised at how easy it was. I really loved stitch regulation, that is so so clever. When you move the machine it knows how fast to stitch based on how quickly you are going so if you stop moving, it stops stitching instead of making loads of tiny stitches on top of one another. If you’re considering getting a long arm, don’t bother unless it has a stitch regulator!

I did a bit of FMQ with the front side of the machine on tester muslin, but decided to go round the back and use a pantograph for my actual quilt top.


Loading a quilt is a bit laborious though, all those pins! We must have used about 80 of them, and my quilt is lap size. You pin the backing to the leaders at the top and bottom, and the top along the top edge too, which takes considerable time, especially since it needs rolling on smoothly. There’s no way I’ll be able to figure it out for myself next time, so I will need to be shown how to do it again.

Just as the top photo was taken the machine threw up an alert and then for a couple of hours we tried to get the tension back to how it was, with no luck. I was the first person to use the machine as the Gamill replaced a Husqvarna Mega Quilter set up only days before and my quilt was the first on it so it wasn’t completely unexpected. Sadly I had to leave it behind on the frame for Penny to finish for me once sorted.

I only did a pantograph pass and a half but I really enjoyed it and I think I was quite good at it. I’m looking forward to getting it back, when the machine is behaving itself! I’ve got plans to rent a machine at a shop when we move, but I’ll need to finish some more tops first!

The Quilty Math Workbook

Carrie of Carrie Actually asked for reviewers for her Quilty Math Workbook much earlier in the month, and I’m only just getting round to doing so because I am a rubbish person!

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This book has lots of useful tools within its 25 pages. It might not seem like a lot, but they are mostly sheets you can print and use over and over again when designing your own quilts.

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As the subtitle says, it is for quilts designed in squares, HSTs, QSTs and 60 degree triangles, and helps you with calculations for these shapes accordingly.

I have to say my favourite part is the seam allowance formulas and that page alone is good for printing out and sticking on the wall about your cutting mat. There are formulas for working out how much of a fabric you need, how much backing, getting the best from your wadding/batting and graph paper to design your blocks and tops on. Basically it helps you forward plan in a methodical way so you’re not wasting fabric or time.

You can also work out how much binding fabric you will need. At the minute I guess that part, cutting a strip and laying it on the quilt and counting how many I need based on that, the problem being making sure you have enough to cut from in the first place, otherwise you have to get creative/scrappy…

I tend to get my calculations from Electric Quilt for my designs, but if you don’t want to stump up the cash, or the time to learn the program, this is a nice way to start dipping your toe into successful quilt pattern design. Besides, writing it all down like this makes it much easier to write up your pattern for sharing with others.

You can buy a copy of your own for $15 here.


P.S. Note for email subscribers
You’ve probably missed 3-4 posts from my blog if you subscribe by email. We got rid of a plug in to make the blog a bit healthier as Google was reading it as malware connected at one time earlier this month, however that inadvertently disabled the email notifications, apologies for that!

The quilts I am taking

I have made a fair few quilts in my time, I probably make around seven or eight decent size ones a year, I think. I haven’t counted. With moving, I’ve attempted to streamline my collection a bit, but there are some quilts that I can’t sell or giveaway. They are my sofa quilts and they are staying that way! Well, for a while they will be vacuum sealed and in a shipping container, but you know what I mean. I’ve not included my pictorial wall quilts here because I think that’s pretty obvious that I’m always going to have a wall that needs a moose or a bear hanging on it!

Click any of the pictures to go to the original blog post for these quilts.

The Giant Churn Dash has lived behind the sofa ready for chilly evenings ever since I had it returned from Popular Patchwork magazine. It’s not huge but it’s a good sofa size and it has my favourite fabric range of all time – Mixteca – in it. The low volume background fabrics were from a charm swap, so there’s a little piece of other peoples’ tastes mixed in. The quilting is the only successful spiral I’ve achieved.

Diaspyros is made from one of my favourite BasicGrey fabric lines. It’s a jelly roll quilt and I love that the background isn’t black, grey or white. Other than that I’m not sure why I feel it is impossible to let go…

This guy, because I didn’t make it from my own pattern which is unlike me, it’s from American Patchwork and Quilting. The length of time it took me to actually get round to finishing it is quite embarrassing, and it is like a sampler of different quilting methods, so it feels quite personal.

Linking up with Whims and Fancies for the aptly named Trunk Full of Quilts.
Online Quilt Trunk Show | Whims And Fancies

Giveaway! Flower Mill Quilt Pattern by BasicGrey

I have a giveaway for you! Whilst I’ve yet to actually get my hands on Mon Ami fabric myself, the pattern I designed with this line is out in shops as mentioned in my last blog post. I received a handful of copies yesterday from Allison at BasicGrey and so I’m hosting three giveaways! This pattern would be great sewn up scrappy from co-ordinated fat quarters, with the actual Mon Ami range or translate it to another of your favourite Moda releases.

To enter it’s dead easy, just leave me a comment here before Sunday. Simple!


For another couple of chances to win (I have three copies to giveaway), I am also giving away a copy on the Patterns to Print Facebook page– follow the page and leave a comment for entry there. I’m also giving away a copy on Instagram @pennydog – again please follow me there and leave a comment on the picture of the patterns to enter to win. That’s it!

International Entries welcome, just one comment on this post for entry please.

I’m writing a bag pattern! And some other stuff

I’m working on a bag pattern at the moment which will have two zips the front and one at the back (oh and one inside, lots of zips!), it will look a little bit like this…

But for now it looks like this, ahem, yeah. No words written or stitches made, but if you’d like to be a tester for the pattern, probably January at this rate, give me a shout and I’ll eventually send you something!

I’m also a good way through the three Necessary Clutch Wallets (series of posts on the Patterns to Print blog about these) and I loved sewing the card sections. It was a little tricky to figure it out but once I did it was a lot of fun.

Also this month the Chandelier quilt is in Popular Patchwork magazine.


My Flower Mill pattern for BasicGrey is now in shops such as Fat Quarter Shop and I hope to have one to give away soon too, postie permitting…

In Shine Bright quilt news, I’ve booked in with Penny in Telford to use her new longarm machine the day after training has been delivered, so I’ll be quilting it up on Sunday 22nd. The cost is £40 for four hours which I think is pretty great, even with the 60 mile trek over the top of Birmingham (website here). I’m not sure what my pattern will be yet but it’s likely to be an all-over since it’s my first try. I’m very excited!

Also this is a call out for people who are real life quilting pals but met online first- I’m writing an article for Popular Patchwork in the next couple of weeks and I could do with about four pairs/groups to  interview. Please comment here if you can help! Thank you!

Another top finish

I thought this day would never come, the Hello Chevron quilt I’ve been working on – or not working on – for over two years is now pieced!


And stupidly it only took me just over an hour to get it finished, I don’t know what my problem was. I even made the backing this morning in not much time at all. I know how I’m going to quilt it – very simple with double loop FMQ. I now need to suss out if I’ll realistically finish it before I need to sell my machine. Hopefully I will and I’ll have something to enter for the finish along despite this. Yey!

Shine Bright: Preview Part VI

The piecing of the top is finished! I’ve given it a good press but as is the way with Autumn, it’s dark outside and my photos are cruddy.


I’m going to longarm it myself, I’m just finalising when I can hire a machine, but hopefully in the next fortnight and then I can get proper photos. The plan is to release this – the first Quilt Workout pattern – before Christmas if I can, though if it’s done in the Chrimbo Limbo period that won’t be too bad and I will have a load of time to write then too.

q-workout-logoI’ve made a logo, I’ve started creating my template. I’m pretty much ready to go, just got the small matter of real life work to see to first. Five weeks from now I will be out of work, without a sewing machine, packing up my home and probably not sleeping much.

Joining the craze

There’s been a bit of a craze for Necessary Clutch Wallets – or NCWs – from the pattern by Emmaline Bags. There’s a Facebook group and everything. I’m making three, starting off (and possibly finishing) my Christmas gift sewing for my husband’s aunt, sister-in-law and my sister. I’ll be sharing the process over on the Patterns to Print blog if you care for a visit and reviewing the pattern as I go along.

Here are my fabric pulls for my sister and sister-in-law…


And then the other that I momentarily forgot I was making…

I cut out the bits yesterday evening and have started part one of my sort of sew-along HERE today.

Here’s a lovely one by Amie. I hope mine will turn out just as good!

Pattern available here.

Bag Boot Camp!

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Do you want to give your bag making skills a kick up the gusset? Can you get to the south of the Peak District from the 18th to the 22nd March for a lovely countryside retreat away from work, demanding offspring and spouses, housework, the general mundanity of everyday life (day tickets also available)?

Honestly I am gutted I can’t go, I’ll be living the Canadian dream by the time Sew Brit Bag Camp rolls around, and it wouldn’t have been very far for me to travel to either. Bummer. However, I would still like to share this with my readers because it is being hosted by two people I really like – Samantha of Sewing Patterns by Mrs H fame and Katy of The Littlest Thistle, with some teaching help flown in from Germany in the shape of Liz from Moments.

This is an awesome team. Katy of course ran the Finish Along for a year and is something I regularly participate in still. She also has written lots of bag projects for magazines such as Quilt Now and is generally very well known in UK- and further abroad – quilty circles. Samantha and I created a clutch pattern together and is the creator of the Companion Carpet Bag pattern that has been all over my blog lately, plus lots more great patterns. She’s one of the six designers that contribute to the Bag of the Month club and one of the two sisters behind Patterns to Print.

They will be running bag making workshops to cater for crafters/sewers/sewists from absolute beginner to advanced improvers covering hardware installation and construction techniques such as making different types of straps. Everyone will be working on the same exclusive overnight bag pattern (shown at the top of this post) but modified to make it accessible for different skill levels. The retreat also provides meals, lovely cottage accommodation, access to tennis courts, refreshments throughout the day, discounted bag supplies and no retreat would be complete without a goody bag!

Prices start at £175 per person for day passes, with standard residential stays for three nights priced at £295. You can pay in three instalments if that is easier for you, and they will be debited at the same time each month for three months for the balance to be paid in full.

Get your tickets now before they sell out HERE!!!

Full details available HERE

Bloggers’ Quilt Festival – Mini Quilt!

Well what timing it is that the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival is back round again and I just so happen to have finished my Schnitzel and Boo mini quilt. The mini category calls for quilts that are 80″ or less all the way round. This is 20″ square so I just nailed it! To be honest I struggled to get pictures with the mornings being pretty dark now it’s the back end of the year, and Hank interfering didn’t help either!


Each pineapple block took about 40 minutes to piece once I got in the rhythm, but I didn’t fancy making a full 16 so I’ve added in some Zen Chic mini charm squares kindly given to me at the Festival of Quilts earlier in the year on the Moda Bake Shop stand. The pineapple blocks are 5″ square, so those little scraps of colour are very little! As you can see this doesn’t exactly dent the scrap collection…

I’m pleased with how it has turned out, and the arrow like effect where the corners meet, so I decided to make a feature of it with the quilting by following points on the piecing to make arrow shapes. I love quilting minis, they are quick, satisfying and don’t come with upper body pain. For the non-pineapple blocks I traced two opposing arrows from the quilting and centre square onto paper, cut it out and used it as a template to draw marking lines around.


The back is a Bonnie Christine fat quarter I picked up at The Workroom in Toronto when I visited earlier in the year, and as usual, I’ve added hanging tabs in the top corners using some scraps.


Size – 20″ square
Number of blocks – 10 Pineapples and 6 fillers.
Time to make– I think about 6 hours?
Fabric – Scraps, some black and natural Konas of some description.
Backing Fabric – Bonnie Christine – Sweet as Honey – Cherished Deer.
Binding Fabric – Some black and white print I’ve forgotten the name of from my stash.
Threads – Coats Moon in off-white throughout with some added black Aurifil.
Batting – 80/20 Soft and Elegant scrap
Quilting- Arrow motifs plus matchstick fillers on the paler blocks.

Got to find a few goodies and then it is good to go!

Linking up to Amy’s Creative Side!