Pin Ring – a tutorial


Last months challenge was to make a pin cushion to swap at the January meet up.  I dithered as normal and wanted to make up something different, a small addition to the patch square pincushion I had made.  I decided a ring was my favourite – here’s how I made mine.

What you will require :

pin_ring_1matching thread and some toy filling.

1.  Cut 1 4inch square of fabric (here I have used an off cut of British tweed from Fabrics Galore).

IMG_91532.  Fold the square in half and pin.

IMG_91613.  Stitch using a 1/4 inch seam allowance around the 2 open edges.

pin_ring_24.  Make a 1 inch slit on the folded edge.   I also sniped off the pointed seam allowance, as below.  Turn through and be careful when pushing through the points.

IMG_91625.  Yours should look a little like mine below, if made in quilting cotton the points are a lot sharper.

IMG_91656.  Start to fill your triangle, I placed lots of stuffing in the central part – do not fill the edges as these are going to form the ring part of your Pin Ring.

IMG_91667.  Whip stitch closed the opening.

IMG_91679.  To form the ring, fold the two ‘wings’ around your finger.  I then placed a long pin through to secure the wrapped ‘wings’.

IMG_917610.  Stitch in place with a matching thread and you will have a fab new piece of sewing kit or jewellery!

IMG_9179I did play with shapes and also made a rounded version, in the tweed it worked brilliantly.  Have fun and do show me your pin rings if you make one.  They are addictive, here’s a hand full in shades of Kona Solids.


Scrappy Coaster Tutorial

Charlotte from Displacement Activity wrote this terrific tutorial – thinking these would make great Christmas gifts….

Scrappy coasters are my go-to gift. They come together quickly, you can make them to co-ordinate with any colour scheme and they help nibble away at the scrap mountain, which is always a good thing. I was making a set today (for a commission, excitingly) and thought I would put together a tutorial. They are not difficult to make, but there are a few little tips that make them even easier. So here we go – my first tutorial. I hope it all makes sense!

First gather your scraps. You can use even the tiniest pieces – some of mine were only an inch wide. You can iron them if you want, but I don’t usually bother.

Sew scraps together until the piece is bigger than 5 inches square. There is no need to iron as you go along – just hold the seams open as you stitch.
Finish one side of your piece with a long strip of fabric so that you have one edge that has no seam – it makes things easier later. Press seams open and trim the piece to 5 inches square.
Cut a 5 inch square of backing fabric and a 4.5 inch square piece of fusible batting. Centre the batting on the backing piece and fuse, following the instructions.
Place the pieced front and fused backing/batting right sides together and sew along three sides using the edge of the batting as a guide. This is where you want to make sure that the side you leave open is the one that has no seam on the front piece.
When you sew the pieces together stitch all the way along to the end of each side and then fold the seam allowance over when you turn the corner.
When you start stitching the next edge sew over the folded seam allowance, through all four layers of fabric. This helps to make the coaster really square and means that you don’t need to clip the corners before turning and risk making holes. Not that I ever accidentally do that. Ahem.
Turn and push the corners out with a pointy thing (skewer, knitting needle, lobster claw…). Fold and press the open edges, using the batting as a guide. Use lots of steam to get a nice crisp edge.
Using either a paintbrush or a fine-tip bottle apply a tiny amount of PVA/Elmer’s washable glue all the way along the inside of the open edge, then press with a dry iron to set. This might sound bonkers but it holds the opening together brilliantly for topstitching. I find that pins tend to make things go a bit wibbly. The glue washes out really easily, although to be honest you use such a tiny bit that it wouldn’t matter if it didn’t.
Topstitch along the open edge and quilt however you want. I like to continue the topstitching around the edge and then quilt in a concentric square pattern using the edge of the foot as a guide. I don’t normally bother using my walking foot, mainly because I am too lazy to put it on the machine, and the normal foot is good enough when using fusible batting.
Rinse and repeat to make however many you want. I think a set of six makes a really nice gift, especially in a little drawstring bag like this one made using Jeni’s fantastic pattern.
I hope everything makes sense – please leave me a comment if anything is confusing. I am new to this malarkey!
Thanks for sharing Charlotte!

Oxford border cushion wtih hidden zip – a tutorial

Judith from Needles and Lemons is sharing her tutorial with us for these elegant cushions.

Let’s say you want to make a bordered cushion for a cushion pad of 14″/35 cm then you will end up with a cushion cover of 18″/45 cm. Of course if you wish you can make the border even wider but I think it should always we proportional to the size of the cushion itself and I found these measurements perfect.

Cutting instruction:

1 square  19″ x 19″ linen
1 square  19″ x 21″ linen
1 zip 12 ”

1 sq  19″ x 19″ interfacing ( I prefer the woven kine, Vilene G-700)
1 sq  19″ x 21″ interfacing

I like to use Vilene G-700 interfacing as it is woven and gives the fabric both stability while retaining flexibility. If you use a heavier home decor fabric you may not need or want interfacing. Although the linen I use here is fairly heavy it needed a little bit of stability for the oxford border to stand properly.

Step 1: If you are using interfacing then iron it onto the wrong side of the fabric (WOF) of both squares.

Step 2: Then take the larger of the two squares and cut it in half across the width of the fabric giving you two panels of 19″ x 10.5″.

Step 3: Optionally overlock or zickzack stitch the edge before folding it over by about 0.5″. Press to the WOF. Do this for both pieces.

That’s how it looks from the front.

Step 4: Now join both pieces.
Put both pieces right side of fabric (ROF) together. Pin along the length of the fold for about 3 1/4″ from the side edge on either side as demonstrated in the images. Mark the 3 1/4″ point with a needle so you don’t sew over it in the next step.

Step 5: Sew along the pinned seam from the side edge to the marker pin on either side. Secure the end with a few backward stitches. You are left with an opening in the middle into which you are now inserting the zip.

Step 6: The zip
Take your zip and start pinning it into the opening from the ROF.
Start at one end by inserting the end of the zip through the opening just under the sewn seam. Place the fabric so that the edge of the fabric is level with the teeth. You can actually place the fabric just a smidgen beyond the edge of the teeth towards the other side of the zip.

Do this on both sides. The zip should be completely hidden once it is pinned in place on both sides.  The fabric edges should be very close together. In fact they should nudge each other a little bit (see image below). When the cushion is inserted, the fabric will open a little bit and if you pin the zip snug between the two fabric pieces you will keep it well hidden even with the cushion pad inserted.

The inserted zip should look like this from the WOF.

Step 7: Sewing of the zip
Sewing in the zip works best with a zipper foot but you can also use a normal foot. Start in the middle of one side and do a few back stitches to secure the stitch. Sew close along the zipper teeth using the zipper foot as your guide. You can pull the other side of the fabric slightly open if you want to see the zipper while sewing.

Keep sewing until you get to the end and stitch one or two stitches past the opening. Keep needle in the down potion, turn the fabric around, sew a few stitches back and forth and then sew along the other side. When you reach the zipper, pull it out the way so you can sew evenly and easier.

The finished cushion panel should look like in this image:

Step 8: Finish                                                                                                                 The rest is fairly easy and pretty much the same as with any other cushion.
Open the zip (very important !) Put both cushion panels right sides together and make sure they are still the same size. If not then square them off. Then sew all around with a good 1/4″ seam allowance.

Turn the cushion inside out through the open zip, pull out the corners with your favorite pointy tool (chop sticks, Hera marker are mine). Now press the cushion well and then sew all around with a 3″ seam allowance (or border), insert cushion pad and you are done !

P.S I like a double seam here and go around a second time leaving an 1/8 ” gap between the two seams.

Back with hidden zipper

One could argue that it would look better if the zipper wasn’t on the horizontal (or vertical) in the middle of the back panel. I did argue that point with myself (!) but ended up putting it in the middle after all. If you are making an oxford border cushion then you are very likely to use the same fabric for both sides and in that case it really doesn’t matter. Besides one can always only look at one side of a cushion. However if you wanted to move the zipper further towards the bottom then that is of course possible and the technique remains the same just the measurements for the back panels change.

Front without zipper

I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any questions or don’t understand something.

Thanks Judith, if you have any questions you can contact Judith here.

EPP Tutorial: Pencil Roll

LMQG English Paper Piecing Tutorial: Pencil Roll/Tool Case/Clutch/Pouch  by Danielle Coolbear Jenkins

I decided to design a project as I know that there are seasoned EPP’rs in the Guild and I thought they might like to join in rather than just having a how-to tutorial.

You will need:

•    2 copies of the pattern (see PDF) 1 cut into pieces and 1 keep as a piecing guide
•    Fabric – the choice is yours – go minimalist with 1 or 2 fabrics or scrappy with as many as you like
•    Thread – 1 for tacking/basting and 1 (or more I used 3) stitching – your stitches will be seen so choose a contrasting/complimentary colour if you like
•    Scissors – fabric and paper
•    Pins
•    Needle/s – nothing too big as it will make stitching difficult
•    Thimble – especially with smaller needles, they have very sharp eye ends
•    Fabric for the lining 12 in X 8.5 in ( 30 cm x 21 cm)
•    Fabric, ribbon or other (I used a broken retractable tape measure) Anything from 12 in up – mine are 20 in
•    If you want add little pockets to the inside

I designed it for what I had on hand.

Basically customise as you would like: – add more strips to the basic pattern and make it bigger, add a magnetic closure, a shoulder strap – the possibilities are endless.

•    Cut out all the pieces – storing them in a small box or zip lock plastic bag.  If you are daunted by the small pieces in the flower blocks – A,B,C you could fussy cut a flower to the square that the finished pieces make – using the uncut square as your paper piece.
•    Pin the pieces to the wrong side of your fabric – all pieces except F, L and K are reversible – for F, L and K pin them letter side down.
•    Cut a ¼ inch around – this is your seam allowance – more than ¼ inch isn’t a problem as it will be folded over.
•    Tack/baste the fabric over the paper: start by threading your needle – you can choose whether to tie a knot in the tail (I do – but it’s just habit), not having a knot makes removing the basting stitches easier – but you do need to make sure that you leave a long tail as the thread could work it’s way free.
Place the paper piece in the middle of the wrong side of the fabric piece with sufficient seam allowance, if the pieces are quite big and you find it difficult to hold the paper in position with your fingers pin the paper onto the fabric.

Basting a square piece:
•    Starting with any edge fold the fabric crisply over the paper – using your thumb nail is a handy tool – make sure you don’t fold the paper over as you will lose the crisp edge.
•    Start from the right-hand side of the fold push the needle through the fabric to the outside and make as many stitches you need to tack the fabric to the paper with the last stitch coming back up to the paper side before the turn to the next edge.
•    Stitch through the fabric and fold the next side down and continue stitching along the edge as before.
•    Continue for all sides.
•    Come to the end and make sure the thread is on the right side (the non-paper side), knot and cut off leaving a tail.

For the triangle and pieces with angled sides I would recommend starting with the longest side – as the folds on the shorter sides become tails which can be trimmed to reduce bulk in the finished piece.
As with any hand-sewing you develop your own technique and habits and this is mine.  Tack as many pieces as you want to – whether you want to tack enough for one block at a time, or find tacking boring… which it can be when you are itching to get to the end result.

    •    The sewing technique used for English paper-piecing is whip-stitch – traditionally you stitch from the left-hand side of the piece and take the tiniest stitch through the edge of the tacked piece being careful not to stitch through the paper (although this is not vital – if you want to reuse the papers this is more important as removing papers which have been sewn through removes the papers straight edge). I use whip-stitch but stitch from the right-hand side (as I’m right-handed) and yet again this a habit and personal preference.
•    With the right sides together (the completely fabric covered sides) match the corners – you may find that the pieces are a few millimeters different in size, don’t worry you can ease them. I usually start with the side that the tacking was started on. Starting from whichever side of the piece you prefer (traditional whip-stitch or my opposite method) start with the first stitch as close to the edge of the pieces as possible underneath the fold if possible and continue on with the small, close together stitches trying to make sure that the tail of the thread is under the first few stitches to secure the end of the seam – when you come to other side of the pieces – making sure to stitch all the way to the fold. I finish the seam by backstitching over the last few stitches twice and then cutting the thread off close to the stitches.
The beauty of whip-stitch is that it is very strong and even when stitches are cut they need to be forcibly removed (unpicked) for the seam to unravel.
•    if you run out of thread or the thread breaks before the seam is finished cut a tail and start a new thread making sure to stitch over the tail ends.
•    It is important to make sure that all the pieces are aligned otherwise the finished block will be misshapen – making sure that the pieces are aligned is easy enough to do: match the seams together. Pins can come in handy when matching seams – pin close to the seams to keep them aligned whilst stitching.

You can choose which pieces to start with if you have basted all the pieces: We started with A,B and C as it is the trickiest and the piecing most likely to cause problems because of the small size of the pieces.  So if you want start with the simpler pieces of A, G, H, I,and J.
If you are starting with A, B and C – first line up the short side of B with A matching the folded sides, whip-stitch across and line up the next B piece as before, you will not need to cut your thread this way.  When all B pieces are stitched stitch the mitre seams for the inside out, then attach C – you will need to cut the thread on these seams.

The way I constructed the design was to make all 3 flower blocks (A,B,C) and then attaching E and D to make into a rectangular-ish unit.  The piecing for the flower block with the leaves (F, N, M, E, A)  is pieced in the same way as you would a log cabin attaching F to the block then N and so on – this is where the second copy of the design comes in handy as it makes seeing where pieces attach easy.

I then constructed the large triangles out of the angled pieces before attaching them to each rectangular-ish piece and then attached the 2 pieces together making sure to match the points of the chevrons.

Once finished piecing you can remove all the papers – except the ones on the ends – for the large strip triangles you can remove the papers and then re-baste the seam edge to allow you to attach the lining.  If you want to add internal pockets this is the time to do it.

To attach the lining lay the lining on top of the block – right sides together – and fold in the edge – basically the same as you did over the papers but without any paper and use pins to attach to the block and hold the seam allowance down.  Whip-stitch all except the top seam – the bottom of the flower with the leaves.

I made an extra piece an inch wide and as long as the finished edge – the finished piece will be slightly bigger than the original design as the stitching adds about a millimeter per seam.  I attached this to the end.

Turn the lining and block right side out – using scissors or a skewer to get the points of the triangles out.  I hand quilted in the ditch along most of the seams and then added leaves by cutting out 2 shapes from paper and pinning in place and hand quilted around and then a line through the middle of the leaves.

You don’t have to quilt it – but it does attach the lining to the block nicely.

To attach the ties I centered the tape measure and stitched it to the flap (the paper pieced strip) seam allowance making sure not to go through to the front and then attached the flap by whip-stitching the sides and hem stitching the long edge – removing the tacking stitches and removing the paper before whip stitching the second side.

To form the pocket – with right sides together fold the block along the bottom of the second flower block – not along the chevron seam.  Whip-stich along the side seams starting at the top – try to hide the knot – stitch along the block edge as if you stitch the binding when you turn it right side out the lining will be showing – you can choose to add a second seam through the lining if you want a fully enclosed seam.  Turn out and push the corners out as before.

That’s pretty much it – as I said before make it your own – make it bigger, fold it in a different way – make it your own.

There are tutorials for the basics of EPP on my website: and if you have any questions just ask – Danielle.

To download a PDF of the pattern click here.