Charmed Tote

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This bag has been a long time in the making, though I’ve not actually told you anything about it.


It started life as an idea to replicate a bag for OH’s aunt. She had one bought at some World festival or another which had braided leatherish handles and the handles made it wrinkle a bit like a drawstring bag, but have two independent handles. It was made from a tapestry type material with some thick embroidery stitching on it too. It was well loved and she wanted a new one as the handles were unthreading themselves.

After trying a few different things, the handles were the hardest thing to get. I tried looking for thick round cord of all sorts, but generally it was thin stuff for jewellery making and that was it. In my desperation I started to look for rope.

The purchased rope was then held up by APC when they came to deliver it as even though my husband had photo ID, lives at the same address and has the same surname as me, the addressee, the guy on the collection desk wouldn’t release it (on feeling the packet I’m sure he thought we were up to something dodgy). This meant complaining and getting a Saturday delivery the weekend before this one just gone, which lost me a few more days of production time. By this point I hadn’t made up a pattern because I wanted the rope to base it on and all I’d done was source an appropriate remnant from a local fabric outlet and do a spot of embroidery on it.

During the week last week we tried all sorts to get four handles out of the 4m piece I had bought. It was synthetic so OH tried cutting it and melting the ends together, PVC pipe welding solventy stuff and Poly Cement to no avail. I needed a good strong join to make a continuous loop that could support a decent amount of weight. I kept saying that the glue gun was the best bet. In the end OH relented and plan D went into action.


What can I say other than it worked ;) Coupled with a wrap of a fabric scrap the thing was so strong even Hank hanging off it didn’t pull it apart!

After a bit more glue-gunning, daydreaming, measuring, tweaking and such I had myself a pattern! Here is the bag to be gifted…

I added a zipped welt pocket inside and also boxed the corners, plus it has a magnetic clasp fastener, but essentially it’s a tote bag with a channel. It was so quick to make that I just had to make a patchwork one out of my Gardenvale charm pack that Hannah gave me for Christmas. Out of 42 squares, it uses up 40 of them, a perfect project for a single charm pack and its pretty roomy too.

I’m in the process of writing up a pattern, honestly the whole thing including cutting takes literally half an hour to sew up- result!

A finish: Octo Quilt

Churning out the finishes frantically over here- calm on the surface but kicking away frantically below the water like a duck!


This is my Octo quilt and for a simple design it was a bit of a difficult birth. My iron was used away from home and on a makeshift mat which seemed to affect the temperature and resulted in burning a block. In an attempt to fix it I successfully bleached it but subsequently shrank it beyond use. I ended up making 13 24″  blocks in total.

Then my secondary pattern of Octagons didn’t quite work as the triangles in the corners seem to have all been cut at 3″ square instead of 3 1/2″ whilst absentmindedly catching up on the Great British Sewing Bee one afternoon. I unpicked all 48 of the outer ones (leaving the inners, I’m not that crazy) after the blocks were already complete and re-did them. It just niggled me too much. I’ve now made the 3″ triangles part of the written pattern. I don’t think I’m one for wonky, especially if I am gifting it, I don’t want them to think I’m a crap quilter. It’s taken me between two and three weeks to make from start to finish.


Under the Octopus fussy cuts I’ve added another two pieces of wadding as trapunto to make them stand out. I used soluble thread in the bobbin for this for the first time, then cut away the excess close to the line and I think it was successful but maybe better if I had denser quilting, or a third layer! I did this before I sewed the blocks together for ease. I quilted in straight lines vertically, avoiding the octopus blocks every 1/2″ or thereabouts, with 3″ gaps between four patches. There are four Octopuses, one per line.


This quilt is going to Popular Patchwork first (I think), then when it is returned it’s coming with us to Calgary for the Stampede this summer and will be gifted to the ex-pat family that invited us to stay with them in Okotoks. In its place in the suitcase I plan to purchase some more stash filling fabrics whilst out there. I got their name wrong though, so I need to redo the label!


I’m bored to death of white now. Other than my current WIPs, I really don’t foresee another white background quilt any time soon. I’m thinking light grey or cream or an actual colour rather than a shade may be on the cards! Maybe that’s why I love my Pancakes quilt so much? No white!

Now the focus is on making two hanging sleeves for the show, another mini, a cushion, my BOM top and my dress of course! No imminent big projects for a while. Nice.

Size – 72” wide x 96″ tall
Number of blocks – 12
Time to make– about 20 hours
Fabric – A variety from stash oranges and navy! Plain white cotton that matches Klona white. Octopuses are from Tokyo Train Ride for Cotton + Steel.
Backing Fabric – Charity shop duvet cut in half!
Binding Fabric – More white Klona, machine bound.
Threads – Coats Moon as per usual in white.
Batting – 80/20 Soft and Elegant
Quilting - Straight lines vertically with walking foot, 1/2″ spaced, then 3″ spaced.

Upcoming fabric I’m excited about

There are some amazing lines coming out soon, and it’s not even Quilt Market yet! Here’s some stuff I found for preorder on Etsy that I am excited about…

(BTW all these pictures are pinched from Etsy but if you click the links they go straight to the shops selling these ranges by pre-order).

Natural History by Lizzy House – I hate butterfly prints, but I totally need a dress or top made from that red dinosaur print!

Mini Pearl Bracelets – yes more Lizzy House and I need them all! I have it on good authority that these are about the size of an old 50p coin… cute and highly useable.

Tula Pink’s True Colors – whilst not a huge Tula fan, I am a fan of the different True Colors ranges that come out of Freespirit because I love a blender. The moire effect prints and the waves are the ones for me.

Gardenvale by Jen Kingwell, obviously. Not much to add there because this is a range everyone on Earth is waiting for.

What have I missed off the list?

Some slightly different quilting

I took the big quilt off the machine momentarily- I’ve decided I need to quilt a dress panel a day to stay focused and on target for making my dress by the end of the month so this is what I’ve got so far- the front bodice!

And the back makes it easier to see…

The plan is to spray baste and quilt first just through the two layers in a variety of patterns as the mood takes me, which replicates my approach to the piecing process too. Once quilted, I will then trace the pattern pieces onto freezer paper, iron them on and cut the pieces out ever-so accurately. Hopefully it will sew together nicely without being too bulky in the darts (I’m trying out balanced darts for the first time). I will reuse the pattern pieces for the lining too. The pattern I have is explained through video rather than written instructions. Quirky.

Oh and I’m possibly going to need to buy an invisible zip too, I really should check the length and what the pattern calls for. I’m waiting for a zip foot for my little Brother machine to sew it in with that I ordered a week or so back. *taps fingers*

I’m not really looking forward to the construction stage all that much, especially since I’m effectively making two dresses by making a lining, but for this dress it is essential to keep it three layers as specified in the rules. I’m considering adding some embellishments but I think a dress as wild as this probably won’t need anything extra. I may add a teensy bit of piping to the top of the pockets though.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday.

What I’m doing right now…

Just keep quilting….
Straight lines are so boring to quilt. Looking forward to crossing something else off my list though.

I allowed myself some time yesterday evening to cut out the pieces for my next couple of mini quilts that I will sew simultaneously, with one for the UK mini swap. Some times I find straight line quilting, especially on a quilt this size (72″ x 96″) hard going so it’s good to have something else I can switch to to rest my shoulders.

Now that I’m about a third of the way through, I find the draw of finishing this more motivating than when I start to quilt, which is when I will find just about anything else to do instead. Hopefully there will be a finish this week.

A finish: Pancakes quilt

If you think I’ve not been posting much lately, it’s because I’ve been busy! I took Friday off work to give some serious hours this weekend to my two simultaneous quilt projects going on and I finished one of them! This is Pancakes (though you’ve possibly seen me overgram the stages on Instagram)…!


I am over my curve phobia! That’s one of my five 2015 goals sorted, nearly two in one actually.


I pieced blocks and then cut them into curves and pieced again. It’s going into the Quilt and Stitch Village show as one of my three entries (two down, one to go), but there are some badly matched seams, etc…


But I think the brilliant mitres on the binding make up for that, most definitely. These are the best corners I have ever done. This could spell the end for my preferred faced edges now I know I can do it…

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The quilting was marked on with washable felt tips again and then I washed and dried it last night after putting the last stitches in the binding and adding a label that my machine was reluctant to stitch out (and even after four attempts still looks pants).


Just got a sleeve to add, but it’s most definitely a finish at this stage, oh yes, this counts.


Thanks to OH for being my strategic rock positioning person ;)

Size – 54” wide x 66″ long
Number of blocks – 20
Time to make– about 22 hours
Fabric – Priory Square by Katy Jones and Kona Papaya and a Makower Spectrum dark grey, plus Art Gallery solid border in whatever they call the co-ordinating pink to Priory Square.
Backing Fabric – Feathered Friends by Wendy Slotboom at £2 a yard from Fabric Guild plus an odd bit of Amy Butler I wanted rid of anyway to make up the deficit.
Binding Fabric – Ann Kelle metallic grid print.
Threads – Pieced with Coats Moon, quilted with grey Moon for the motifs, King Tut Variegated in the stippling and stitch in the ditch, and a fuchsia Mettler thread I received in a swap that was perfect for the border. The bobbin had a standard Coats blue cotton in it throughout.
Batting – 80/20 Soft and Elegant
Quilting- Walking foot criss cross borders and stitch in the ditch, stippling in the papaya backed blocks and homemade template motifs in the circles. About 8 hours worth of quilting and bobbin winding….


English Country Garden BOM – Block 12 – Clematis

I’m so sorry I’m running late – again – I feel like I’m treading water a bit rather than making progress and I have my fingers in more pies than I actually have fingers ;) Thank you for your patience.

This is the last block!!!

This pattern is free to download from Craftsy until the next blog post (maybe a tad later) which is due 6th April where I will go through assembling these blocks into a top with cute borders, etc right here on this blog. Previous templates are available if you missed out, see the bottom of this post or email me for details. I am also now starting to compile all of the patterns to be available in bulk and this will be on sale with the top finishing instructions sometime next month.

BOMclematiscover Click here to download

This pattern includes the same instructions for applique as before, and the same instructions as the Dahlia block for the background, but with new templates for the clematis. The instructions are: making bias tape, turned edge and raw edge machine applique, piecing the inset circle background, thread choices and the pattern in standard and mirrored formats depending on which type of applique you opt for.

I’m on the end of an e-mail if you get stuck, just leave a comment here or email me.

For previous posts on the BOM, please click the button below. Don’t forget to share your photos in the Flickr group!

You can get all of the previous blocks from any of these three locations at a price of $2 each.
and Patterns to Print

The free pattern will continue to be available through Craftsy initially but is removed after the free period is over since they’re unable to support the new daft EU VAT rules.

Tutorial : How to make your own quilting templates

Make your own quilting template

Please note this tutorial calls for a bit of computer design knowhow (or software at least) in order to draw a design and print it to the size you want it, but I’ll briefly go over a couple of options! You could also draw your design with pencil and paper if you wish.

I decided the pancake quilt deserved a little more than an unprecise thrashing with my usual FMQ fallback patterns, but equally I’m a bit too cheap to buy loads of quilting stencils in different sizes, so I had to make my own template!

A computer and printer, or a design already on paper at the right size
A permanent marker
Template plastic
X-Acto knife
Old (or useless metric!) cutting mat

First off you will need to design your quilt pattern. You could do what I did and choose one in Electric Quilt and size it to the size of the block….
Or you can create a drawing in Illustrator or suchlike. As long as it’s just a line, and preferably just the one continuous line then it’s a possible quilt pattern.

Print it out actual size.

Lay your template plastic over the top of the design and trace it with your permanent marker.

Take away your paper and set the template plastic over your cutting mat. Don’t cut it out just yet! Take note of where the line crosses and ensure you leave a gap between lines that cross so that all parts of your template- such as the centre of loops – remain intact!

Get cutting! Make sure your blade is sharp and take care of where your free hand is, and other safety disclaimers- make sure small children and excitable puppies aren’t around, for example. Cut in small tiny strokes around curves and on straight bits, use a metal rule if you have one and try and keep the cuts as long as possible.

Cut a line parallel to your first and join the two cuts at the ends to create a channel that has been removed. Continue around the stencil to complete it.

Now you can mark your quilt through your stencil using your preferred medium- air erasable or washable marker, Frixion pen if that’s your bag, or chalk. Sew along the marked line when quilting and join up where the gaps are with your stitches!


If you don’t want to use plastic, knives and markers, another way to do it would be to print out your design on paper, over lay it on your quilt, and use small stitches to quilt through the paper, tearing it away when finished. Three negatives to this technique – It puts stress on the quilt stitches when removing the paper, it uses quite a bit of paper and you can’t get the placement just so like you can with clear template plastic. Still, this may be a better option for you- if you try either of these methods, please let me know how you got on!

Classes with me, and some narcissistic housekeeping

A few updates for those who are interested…

I will be running two classes at Hannah’s Room in Coalville in late spring, early summer time, the details are below. I’ve yet to devise the designs for these classes to work on as a group and also the requirements but it’s on my never ending stuff-to-do list. I’m thinking a landscape for the glue stick and a flower for the pixels? I will provide a guide on how to create your own pattern at each class too so you’re not limited by the one design. Please contact Roxana at Hannah’s Room if you would like to attend either of these.

Glue Stick Applique
Create your own picture using glue sticks, freezer paper and turned edges, just like the moose quilt (above), or the bear quilt. Class best suited to blender/solid/batik fabrics.
Saturday 9th May  10am – 1pm  £TBA(around £20-25?)

Pixel Imagery
Use a fusible technique for quick and accurate piecing to make up a picture made of 1″ squares. Class best suited to blender/solid/batik fabrics.
Saturday 6th June 10am-1pm £TBA(around £20-25?)

Other news- I have a tutorial on Sewing Directory for a bear Kindle Case
I have another one for a First Aid Pouch being published there in the next week or so.

I also found out from Leanne Paper Moon that I was shortlisted for Best Sewing as an Art (I think) on Madalynne’s blog. That is one popular blog, so thank you to the person that nominated me, this was the shortlist:

Blatantly nicked from Leanne

Blatantly nicked from Leanne

And the winner was seemingly missed out on the main post I think, unless I’m being a bit dim. Still a bit jealous that Leanne was nominated for Funniest Sewing Blog ;)

Currently beavering away on my computer on a very exciting and secret (for now) project, work is quite hectic, plus I’m away this weekend to the land of the big basting floor, so I’ll warn you now, the BOM may be a bit late, but then, what’s new there?

Time for a little octopus…

I’ve only got enough wadding for one quilt at the moment and that will be the pancakes quilt when I baste it on the weekend on the big floor. I’ve therefore put the dress on pause just briefly (while I get over the bit of panic that I am actually making this) before getting some more wadding. I’m thinking I may get something super light, like fusible fleece. Actually yes, does anyone know where I can buy that pretty cheaply by the yard/metre?

 I’ve started another project on my list – the Octo quilt – which as a result meant great fun cutting out 3 1/2″ squares in front of the TV last night, catching up with GB Sewing Bee. These go in the centre of the block and the quilt is going to be for the family in Calgary that we are staying with later in the year. I’ve decided to make a feature out of this fun Cotton+Steel octopus print in a few locations in the quilt, maybe one square per row.