Monday, 24 October 2011

Tape Maker: My favourite gadget

I want to sing the praises of Tape Makers. They take all of the fiddle out of making (bias) binding.
These handy little gadgets can save your fingers from the perils of the iron! I own 3 different sizes, from 50mm to 18mm, and I use them all the time.
The instructions that come with the tape maker will tell you how wide you need to cut your fabric for each size. Just in case you've mislaid your instructions, here is a reminder:
6mm tape = 13mm fabric
12mm tape = 25mm fabric
18mm tape = 36mm fabric
25mm tape = 48mm fabric
50mm tape = 96mm fabric

The only tricky part is getting them threaded in the first place, but I've discovered that if you cut a bit of taper into the end of the fabric strip, it makes it simple. You just feed the end of fabric in, and use a pin to help work it through, if needed.
Once you have some fabric appearing out from the other end, pull a little through, so that you are past the tapered section.
You then pull the tape maker along, and press the tape with your iron as it comes out the end. You can really get some speed going with this handy gizmo!
Fabric to tape in a jiffy!!
I love this shot of my long strip of fabric in the foreground, with the newly made tape in the background.
I used 10 jelly roll strips, trimmed to size, and this made binding for all 3 of the quilts in my jelly roll post. Once the strips were sewn together, it took maybe 5 minutes in total to turn them all into tape. Gone are the days of burnt fingers!
And voila! A whole roll of finished tape. I'd better get on with quilting those crib quilts hadn't I?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Jelly Roll Love

Jelly rolls have been literally flying off the shelves in both Frome and Wells, so we thought we would share some jelly roll quilt ideas with you.

First up, what is a Jelly Roll?
It's a set of strips of coordinating fabric, that are cut and ready to use in a range of projects. Strips are 2.5in/approx. 6cm wide, and are the length of the width of the fabric (so usually approx. 44in/112cm). The number of different fabrics in a roll depends on how many fabrics are in that range, or simply on the size of the roll.

Which fabrics come in rolls?
We're really pleased to announce that we are now Moda stockists, and will be getting our first proper shipment in the new year. Whoop, whoop! In the meantime, we have a couple of Moda Sophie Jelly Rolls (top right in the picture above), and some Rooftop Garden Charm Packs to keep us out of mischief. Do call the shop if you would like either of these (01373 464650).
We have a good supply of Westminster Fabrics rolls as well (see the selection in the picture above). There are plenty to choose from!

What can I do with a roll?
The possibilities are endless. Rolls can be used in so many ways, so here are a few simple ideas to get you started...

Striped crib quilt
Sew the strips together, and add a simple border, to make a striped quilt top. I joined 14 strips, and then cut the piece in half to make two crib quilt tops. Simple!

Weekend quilting idea
This quilt was completed over the weekend, but probably only took a total of 7 hours (including hand-sewing the final edge of the binding).
It is a simple design, so here are the instructions:
Put together 3 sets of 5 strips.
Join each group of 5 to make long striped rectangles, and then measure the width, and cut the rectangle into 4 squares. My rectangle was 10.25in wide (26cm), and I cut four 10.25in squares from each piece.
I then laid out the pieces so that the squares alternated between horizontal and vertical, and joined to make 3 strips of 4 squares. Those strips were then joined to make the rectangle pictured above.
I added a 4in (10cm) border around the outside, and then basted the quilt top together with wadding and a plain orange backing.
I tend to use simple geometric shapes for quilting, and here I just followed the edges of the squares, around 0.5in (1cm) from the edge. This is a really forgiving quilting method. If you quilt "in the ditch", then it's really obvious if you stray even a little. When you move out by a little distance, then no-one will notice if your quilting lines are slightly less than perfect. I finished the quilting by sewing around the outside border - again at the same distance from the actual seam.
There were plenty of strips left over from the roll, so I trimmed them down to use for binding. You can see that the colours change around the quilt border - you could keep to one side more coordinating colours, but I like the contrast effect!
So from my one jelly roll, 0.5m of border fabric and 2.5m of backing, I have 3 quilts! Two small crib quilts (27in x 33in/69cm x 84cm) and a larger child's quilt (38in x 47in/97cm x 120cm). Not bad for a weekend of sewing, is it?

Do you have any Jelly Roll hints and tips?

Friday, 14 October 2011

Spooky new arrivals!

Halloween is just round the corner! Where has the year gone to? I think that we've been too busy having fun in the new shop and sewing away all of our spare minutes.

There are some lovely spooky fabrics in the shop, as well as little pumpkin brooch kits and the perfect embroidery flosses for a Halloween crafting fiesta!

If you are looking for craft activities for younger children, there is a Halloween craft workshop on 26th October with Gaynor, which is perfect for little ones from age 5 upwards. Do call the shop (01373 464650) or drop in to book a place.

It isn't all spooky crafts though... There are some delicious new fabrics in store as well. These new prints from Joel Dewberry are among my favourites.

The birds on the turquoise background are absolutely delightful, aren't they? I am sorely tempted to whip up a skirt using this - maybe paired with one of the new fine corduroys. What would you make with these?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Welcome to Wells!

I can't begin to explain how excited we are to be the proud owners of a new shop in Wells!

You will find the new show at 14A Broad Street, Wells, Somerset, BA5 2DN, and we are stocking lots of beautiful fabrics and haberdashery supplies.

We have a great range of jelly rolls, charm packs and other quilting supplies, as well as a selection of fabulous pattern and crafting books. If you are in the area, please do stop by and say hello to us!

We will be dividing our time between Frome and Wells, and we are delighted to have Anne, Angela, Gaynor and Vicky working across the two shops. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some more information about the expertise of our team, so if you have a question you would like to put to one of us, then please do leave a comment. Hope to see you soon!