Free UK delivery on orders £50+

National Quilting Day: Makower Coastal Quilt Pattern

Today is not only St Patrick's day, but also National Quilting Day! And to celebrate, we've nabbed a fantastic pattern by Hilary Gooding for Makower to make up into a coastal themed quilt. Our nautical range of fabrics is our most popular range this month, so what better theme could we pick? Find free instructions below to make your wonderful seaside quilt, and feel free to swap in your favourite nautical themed fabrics for the beach huts.

How to make a Makower Nautical Quilt

Quilt Size 40" x 60" (100 x 150cm)

You will need:

Fabric

Quantity

First Cut

SecondCut

Position

Cream Dimples 1867/L2

2 metres

Cut 5 strips WOF each 21⁄4" wide

Binding

Cut a strip WOF 101⁄2" wide

Trim to 401⁄2" long

Top Border

Cut a strip WOF 121⁄2" wide

Trim to 401⁄2" long

Bottom Border

Cut 2 strips parallel to the selvage each 12" wide

Trim to 381⁄2" long

Side Borders

Cut 2 strips parallel to the selvage each 3" wide

Trim to 381⁄2" long

Vertical Sashings

From remaining fabric:

Cut nine 41⁄2" x 21⁄2" rectangles

Horizontal Sashings

Cut twenty four 21⁄2" squares

Beach Hut Roofs

Red Coastal Village 1160/R

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut two 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangles

Beach Huts

Grey Coastal Village 1160/S

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut one 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangle

Beach Huts

Red Seagulls 1162/R

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut two 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangles

Beach Huts

Blue Seagulls 1162/B

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut two 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangles

Beach Huts

Turquoise Seagulls 1162/T

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut one 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangle

Beach Hut

Grey Coatsal Icons 1163/S

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut two 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangles

Beach Hut

Turquoise Coastal Icons 1163/T

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut one 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangle

Beach Hut

Red Stripe 745/R7

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut one 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangle

Beach Hut

Blue Coastal Village 1160/B

1.70 m

Backing

WOF = width of fabric (ie from selvedge to selvedge)

How to make your nautical quilt:

All seams are 1⁄4" unless otherwise stated.

Beach Huts

  1. Draw a thin pencil line diagonally across the wrong side of all the cream 21⁄2" squares.
  2. Place a cream 21⁄2" square right sides together in the top left hand corner of one of the 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" beach hut rectangles. Line up the top and left sides. The pencil line should run from the bottom left corner to the top right corner of the square.
  3. Sew along the pencil line. Trim to a seam allowance of 1⁄4". Press seam allowance under beach hut.
  4. Take a second 21⁄2" square and place it right sides together in the top right hand corner of the beach hut rectangle. The pencil line should run from top left corner to bottom right corner of the square. Line up the top and side edges.
  5. Sew along the pencil line. Trim back to a 1⁄4" seam. Press the seam allowance under the beach hut.
  6. Prepare all the beach huts the same way.

Assembly

  1. Lay out all your beach huts in three columns and four rows in an arrangement of the colours that is balanced.

  2. First sew the columns together by sewing a cream 4 1⁄2" x 2 1⁄2" rectangle between the beach huts in each column. Press all the seams.

  3. Now sew the columns together with the two 3" x 38 1⁄2" vertical sashing strips between the columns. Press.

  4. Sew the two 12" x 38 1 ⁄2" side borders to the left and right of the centre panel. Press seams.

  5. Now sew the 10 1⁄2" x 40 1⁄2" top border to the top of the quilt top

  6. Sew the 12 1⁄2" x 40 1⁄2" bottom border to the bottom of the quilt. Press seams.

Quilting

  1. Lay the backing out on a smooth, flat surface with the wrong side facing up.
  2. Spread the batting over the backing smoothing out any wrinkles and bumps.
  3. Lay the quilt top over the batting.
  4. Baste the layers together using your favourite method - safety pins, hand tacking, spray basting or micro-tacking
  5. Quilt as you like by hand or machine.
  6. Trim back the excess backing fabric and batting to the edge of the quilt top. Square up the quilt if necessary.

Binding

  1. Sew all the binding strips together using mitred seams into one long strip. Fold the strip in half along the length with wrong sides together. Press.

  2. Sew the binding onto the quilt front. Turn to the back and hand stitch in place.

 

Don’t forget to label your quilt with your name and the date. Add any other details you might want to remember.

Want to download a PDF of the instructions? Download the free pattern here.

Mother's Day Gifts for Mums Who Sew

Mother's Day is coming up, and I've been stuck for gift ideas for a while. A bit of research, however, has uncovered some great gifts for mums who stitch, and here's the pick of our products that we reckon mum might like if she's a bit crafty too!

Mother's Day Gifts for Mums Who Make

 

beginners quilting book

For a mum looking to explore different sewing techniques further, why not try out Elizabeth Bett's fantastic book, The Beginners Guide to Quilting? With tons of handy tips and tricks, as well as a comprehensive introduction to the basics of quilting, she'll help mum to build on her new skills project-by-project.

If mum wants to try something new, get her one of these fab needle felting kits! Each kit comes in a beautifully packaged box and includes everything you need to learn to felt your own creature. They're perfect for beginners, and needle felting is the latest trendy craft that everyone's keen to try.

Sewing boxes are the classic gift for any stitcher, but don't just get her a boring old plain one - pick up a beautifully designed box in a range of sizes from our range. Choose from glitter finish, embroidered, extra large, small and drawer-style boxes!

For the mum that already has a million sewing gadgets and boxes, it can be hard to find something that she won't already have. But we reckon these sewing machine bags are pretty neat, and not only look lovely, but are also great at protecting her prize possession from dust, moisture and damage!

Chic Boutique Cross Stitch Kit

For a mum who loves a different type of needlework, our cross stitch kits are an excellent idea! This pretty one is ideal for mum to put up in the kitchen or lounge once complete, but you'll also find a ton of other designs, including ones for kids bedrooms too.

love to sew printed grosgrain ribbon

There is no more classic gift for a sewer than an expression of their passion in any and all forms. So why not dress up their gift with some Love to Sew ribbon? Whether you get a few metres to give as a gift or tie it round the gift itself, this is one piece of haberdashery that is guaranteed to be loved and re-used!

One-Off Deluxe Fabric Box - Floral Romance

One-Off Deluxe Fabric Box - Kiss Me

One-Off Deluxe Fabric Box - Kimono

What self-respecting sewer can resist more fabric? Whether you get a couple of metres to really indulge her fabric addiction, or a fat quarter, she'll love seeing her stash increase! Our one-off fabric boxes are a great idea, including a selection of fabrics with co-ordinating habby for a beautiful gift to wow her.

Trimits Elephant Sewing Kit

If mum has only just started sewing, or wants to tackle her first project, pick up a sewing kit for beginners that she can get stuck into right away. We have a great selection of different projects that she'll love!

Ditsies Fat Quarter Bundle

And if one fabric alone isn't enough, what about a fat quarter bundle? These are especially great for quilters or those who enjoy having a variety of fabrics to hand for their next project (or to stroke while they sip their cup of tea, surrounded by 10 cats...)

Shop Mother's Day Gifts

NEW: Star Stitcher Competition!

Want to show off your fab sewing projects AND be in with a chance to win some goodies from our website? Read on...

NEW: Star Stitcher Competition!

 

From 1st February, we will be launching our new Star Stitcher competition. Every month, we will be giving away a £10 gift voucher for our products to the project we think deserves to win.

Some months there may be a theme, others we will leave it open to you! 

We'll be accepting entries from all abilities and will pick based on originality, design and execution according to your skill level - so beginners, don't be put off!

You can enter once a month, by sending in photos of your projects with a short description and your contact details (name, email address and/or postal address). Please email in your entries to info@mysewingbox.co.uk or share with and tag us on Facebook or Twitter, using the hashtag #starstitcher

Entries will close at midnight on the last day of each month, and we'll pick a winner within 7 days. If you're the winner, we'll be in contact within a week via email.

Don't forget to share this post on your social media accounts so everyone can have a chance at winning!

Happy sewing - we look forward to your entries!

Sewing Tips and Tricks: How to Sew Tricky Fabrics

Even the best of us can feel beaten when it comes to attempting to sew certain fabrics - chiffons, silks, satins and suiting can all be tricky fabrics to work with, to name but a few. If you're struggling, don't give up - have a quick read below and get back on track!

Sewing Tips and Tricks: How to Sew Tricky Fabrics

How to sew slippery fabrics - fine chiffon, charmeuse, satins etc

These can be a total nightmare to sew straight lines in, as the fabric is usually so light and/or silky that it moves with hardly any encouragement. To help eliminate movement you can try a number of different techniques.

The easiest (or rather, most convenient) method is to do a hell of a lot of pinning. If you pin every couple of centimetres, it ensures minimum slippage, although it feels like a total pain to sew. Remember, it's not as bad as attempting to sew the same hem three times and unpicking all the stitching!

Another technique is to use basting stitches to hold it in place. Whilst this can be a good way of keeping it together, I would highlight that this is not great for all fabrics - some fabrics show marks where the basting stitches were, so check on a bit of scrap before you start basting and sewing, then realise you've ruined the fabric. 

Some people also find using tissue paper or the actual pattern paper is helpful. You can sew over it, eliminating some of the slippage, and then simply tear off the paper afterwards. Don't forget, however, that this means you may not be able to use the pattern afterwards if it tears apart too much! 

If you're willing to invest some money and a bit of risk, there are also temporary adhesive sprays now available which create a slightly tacky surface on the fabric and help keep everything in place. Some people swear by these as miracle products, but be warned that you will need to patch test them as they cannot guarantee it won't mark your fabric either.

Finally - make a cuppa, take a deep breath and gather your focus! Half the battle is having the patience and mental energy to concentrate hard and take it one step at a time without getting flustered and letting it affect your sewing. Using a new, sharp needle can be helpful too!

How to sew stretch fabrics - knits like jersey, lycra etc

Stretch fabrics have to be treated with extra care when you're sewing them as they're easily prone to being warped and stretched as you sew - one key rule to remember is not to over-encourage the fabric under the machine. Let the feeder move it naturally.

Make sure you are using the right stitch for the fabric. I wouldn't recommend using straight stitch on stretch fabrics as it has a tendency to overstretch and warp the fabric as you sew, as well as risking ripping when wearing the garment. Select a zigzag stitch on your machine, and choose a width and length setting that you think is firm enough and pretty enough - practice on some folded scrap pieces before you begin to get it right. Zigzag stitch allows for more movement when wearing the garment as well as being more accommodating under the needle.

Another top tip - make sure you're using the correct needle! If your fabric has quite a bit of stretch, then I'd suggest using a stretch needle as these are specifically designed for handling your fabric. You can, of course, use a stretch needle on all types and weights of stretch fabric. A ballpoint needle is okay for lighter stretch fabrics, as its slightly curved/rounded which means it can loop in-between the knots of the knit, rather than catching on them. 

One more thing you can get to help with sewing stretchy fabric is a different presser foot - a walking foot is particularly helpful. It allows the fabric to be fed under the needle with more grip, stopping the two layers from stretching against each other. Some machines come with a walking foot, others may have a dual feed foot - you can use either, but check your manual for what is best.

How to sew bulky fabrics - suiting, coat fabric, wools and tweeds

 Sewing bulky fabric like denim or coat fabrics can get pretty tricky, usually just due to the sheer amount of layers of thick fabric you're trying to get under the presser foot. Simple tricks include pressing seams open and trimming seam allowances to help reduce bulk and create a flatter surface, but sometimes it requires a bit more help than that!

One of the best solutions to this problem could be to invest in a walking foot, which like for stretch fabrics, keeps the layers feeding through evenly without one getting stuck. 

Make sure you're using an appropriate needle too - a denim needle is ideal, and prepared for use with tougher fabric, whereas standard machine needles might break under the pressure. You might find that increasing the stitch length also helps.

If you're still having trouble getting the fabric to feed under the presser foot effectively, using the wedge method is another good solution. Often, and especially when starting to stitch your layers of fabric, the presser foot is lifted up at an angle at the front. This prevents the fabric from moving through easily as the back sort of jars the feed. In order to put pressure onto the front of the presser foot and make it lay flatter, fold a bit of fabric to a similar thickness and use this as a "wedge" at the back of the footer. This should even out the pressure and get your fabric under the presser foot fully, to continue stitching.

How to sew plush fabric

So I think you're probably starting to see a theme here... 

Plush fabric is often hailed as one of the hardest fabrics to sew with, often putting beginners off from using it. But fear not - the difficulties are easy to resolve with a bit of extra TLC to the process!

Firstly, make sure you don't overstretch the fabric when cutting. A good idea is to pin the edges together to keep everything equal and in place. If you've cut it wonky to begin with, you're already fighting a harder battle than you need to be!

Next, pin like your life depends on it! Like stretch and slippery fabrics, plush fabric is prone to being stretched out of shape easily, so the closer you pin it the less likely this is to happen - I recommend every 2cm or so. It seems excessive, but gaps that are too bag allow the fabric to slip still, and although its a pain to keep stopping to take pins out, it means you'll only have to stitch it once!

As with the other fabrics, a walking foot is a good solution to problematic stitching here. As with the other fabrics, it helps feed both layers in at the same rate, limiting the amount of warping or overstretching. 

Another great tip for sewing with plush fabric is to ensure you're stitching with the nap of the fabric, rather than against it. This doesn't affect the straightness of your stitching, but sewing with the nap rather than against it ensures that it lays flatter, giving a neater and more professional finish. 

Any other helpful tips or advice to add? Comment below and let others learn from your sewing wisdom!

Project: Embroidery Hoop Art

Embroidery Hoop Art Project

 

In amidst the excitement of several deliveries of new stock this week, we've been getting ready for a very special lady's 80th birthday this week. As we're having a formal party in a function room, we thought it'd be nice to add some homemade touches to the decorations, so we had a go at some embroidery hoop art that we'd seen on Pinterest - what a result! We thought we'd be generous and share our little projects with you lovely lot to get you inspired ;)

 

                                     

                                                    

 

 

Six beautiful little pieces we managed to get done in just one day, using a variety of techniques. Really, it's all about letting go and unleashing your creativity! As we had a specific theme in mind, we were a bit more limited but we think we did alright! Maybe next time we might add a little more appliqué to them, but sadly we were pushed for time this week and had to make-do with what we could do in a day.

 

Our first design was relatively simple, just a pretty 80 appliquéd on using freehand machine stitching to create an outline in a contrasting colour. This is not too hard once you've practiced it a little, but you need to get a special foot for your machine in order to do it, and stabilise the back of your fabric with some interfacing. We cut out a few flowers from the floral fabric we used and just glued them on for a bit of detail. As it was our first one, we decided less was more after spending about 10 minutes trying to decide whether /how to add extras.

 

 

Next, we got a little bolder and decided to try out a bunting design, cutting out some triangles from some scrap fabric in complimentary patterns and colours. We glued these on, and used the free stitching style again to add the bunting string. This time, we wanted to add some lettering so went for some printed stuff - super easy and effective to do! We bought a set of rubber A-Z stamps from a stamp shop (you can get them online too) and some all-purpose ink, and it couldn't have been simpler - the hardest part was spelling and trying to align the letters!

 

As we had to make six, we thought it would be even more fun to get a bit more daring and try out using a patterned material for a background (crazy, i know!). We had this beautifully subtle little pink floral fabric that wasn't too loud. Having recently acquired a beautiful embroidery machine, we decided to put it to use on these and programmed in some fun birthday lettering in cream thread. The machine whizzes away at a speed that would normally have you worried on your usual sewing machine, but we're coming to learn not to get panicked by the sound! 

For these two, we did a little more free stitch style and appliqué to add more detail, including a lace overlay that we stitched down on one design.

 

By this time we were running a bit short of hours in the day, and so decided to repeat the free stitch style for a lovely girly shoe design (as the birthday girl is partial to a bit of shopping and shoe enthusiasm). Beware! This sort of satiny fabric was very slippy and a lot harder to sew, so we definitely needed the interfacing underneath! The reflective surface also stopped the stitching from showing up so much, so we found that you have to go over it a few more times than on other fabrics. We got back to some stamping fun on this design, as we wanted to keep at least one after the event, that wouldn't all be birthday themed!

 

So there you have it - our little collection of embroidery hoop art! As you can see, they aren't too tricky to have a go at, and they really can be as simple or complex as you're comfortable with. They make great alternative party decorations as you can personalise them a lot more and make use of all your scraps of beautiful fabric. We can't wait to hang them up at the weekend!