#QuiltingTheory – Seam Allowance

#QuiltingTheory – Seam Allowance

NOTE: this post may contain affiliate links. It will not cost you any money if you click on them and just means that I get a small commission for recommending it, which helps to keep the blog running. Thank you.

Helloooo! And welcome back to Week 2 of the #QuiltingTheory series. Today, we’re looking at the Seam Allowance. This may be a term that you’re already aware of – especially if you’ve done some sewing before. One of the main things to know is that as quilters, we nearly always work in Inches (in comparison to dressmakers, who tend to work in centimetres), no matter what country you’re from! Which can then get a bit confusing when you’re ordering fabric in metres….but I digress!

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to begin quilting and grow your skills, starting with The Seam Allowance and a Scant Quarter Inch by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

What is a Seam Allowance?

Simply put, a seam allowance is the distance from the edge of the fabric to the stitching line. Generally, quilters work with a 1/4″ seam allowance. This means there is enough fabric for the seam to survive natural wear and tear and stay secure, and not too much that it leaves the seam bulky on a finished block.

When I first started quilting, I worked out a 1/4″ on my sewing machine foot and off I went. All went well to start with: strictly speaking, if you’re sewing squares together, it doesn’t matter if your seam allowance is a smidge bigger/smaller than 1/4″: if you’re using the same allowance on all pieces of fabric, you will still end up with a square!

Sewing a 1/4″ Seam Allowance

There are a few ways to figure out how to sew a 1/4″ seam allowance on your sewing machine.

Sewing machines often come with a few different sewing feet. A ‘standard’ foot (which is the ‘A’ foot on my Janome, pictured on the left) is included with all machines, and sometimes you may receive a 1/4″ foot depending on what machine you have (the ‘O’ foot, pictured on the left). These can often be bought separately which is useful if you enjoy quilting – just make sure that it’s compatible with your machine!

There are a few ways to find out what to use as a guide mark for achieving your 1/4″ seam allowance, and these can be used for both types of sewing feet, although here I have only demonstrated with the standard foot;

  • Look at the measurement marks on the bed of your sewing machine and keep the edge of the fabric in line with this as you sew.
  • Place the foot on top of a ruler and look at where a 1/4″ measures from the centre of the foot – for my machine, that means keeping the edge of the fabric in line with the edge of the hole where the needle sits/the transparent section of the foot.
  • Sit at your sewing machine, and with the needle in the down position and the foot on the bed of the sewing machine, place a ruler (I’ve used this one!) matching the 1/4″ against the needle and look at where ‘0’ is on your sewing foot.

Personally, I like to measure from the needle position as I’ve found that every machine I’ve had is slightly different and the 1/4″ isn’t quite as accurate as I would like! Generally speaking, with the Janome a 1/4″ is at the intersection of the transparent/metal join at the front of the foot.

What is a scant 1/4 seam allowance?

To sew with a scant 1/4″ essentially means to sew the seam slightly less than 1/4″ from the edge of the fabric, so that the thickness of the thread and the little bit of fabric that is lost in the fold when opening the pieces out takes the total seam allowance up to 1/4″.


At this point, you are probably thinking quilters are crazy! We’re arguing over maybe the width of a piece of thread?!?! And I mean, how much difference can that really make?! The honest answer is that it very much depends on what you are doing. If you’re sewing together squares of fabric until you reach a quilt size you like, you don’t need to worry about this just now!

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to begin quilting and grow your skills, starting with The Seam Allowance and a Scant Quarter Inch by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

However, if you are working on a block that is made up of lots of pieces, or working on a small block, seam accuracy really starts to matter. A slight discrepancy of 1/32″ per piece/block can soon add to become a big issue: I once had to unpick a whole border round on a medallion quilt because it finished 3/4″ smaller than it should have done (I was working with small 1.25″ squares which is why it had such an impact!)……sooo frustrating, but all part of the learning curve. At least, that’s what I was trying to tell myself at the time!

Working out a Scant 1/4″ Allowance on your machine

We’ve already talked about how to find the 1/4″ position on your machine. For a scant allowance, you will need to sew slightly closer to the edge of the fabric, which can take a bit of trial and error. There are a couple of ways of doing this depending on your machine;

  • Re-position the needle
  • Re-position the fabric

If you can, repositioning the needle is easier than trying to realign the fabric by such a small amount, and easier to replicate time and again. This will very much depend on whether you are able to shift the position of your needle. On my machine, which is digital, you can use the Width setting to shift the needle left or right by slight increments. My machine has a 1/4″ setting, with a needle position of 8.3, but I need to increase it to 8.8 (shifting the needle to the right as you look at the machine) to get a scant seam allowance. I do this each time I switch my machine on, but it soon becomes habit! You should check the handbook for your own machine to see if and how you can re-position your needle.

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to begin quilting and grow your skills, starting with The Seam Allowance and a Scant Quarter Inch by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

If you need to re-position the fabric, it can be helpful to mark the bed of the sewing machine – Washi Tape is a really good way of creating a guideline to follow without permanently damaging/marking your sewing machine, is easily replaced and relocated if swapping between projects. Although if you have a top-loading bobbin like I do, you may want to make sure it’s full before putting the tape in place!

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to begin quilting and grow your skills, starting with The Seam Allowance and a Scant Quarter Inch by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

The best way to check for a Scant 1/4″ Allowance is to take three pieces of fabric 2.5″ square. Place two pieces Right Sides Together (RST) and sew along one side. Open out and place the final piece RST with one of the squares and sew so that you have a row of three squares stitched together. Press with the seams to one side and measure the centre square. If it measures 2″ you have achieved a scant seam allowance. If it’s slightly under/over this measurement, then repeat the steps above.

It may take a few attempts, but only needs to be done once (although I would always recommend re-doing these steps if you get a new machine) and is well worth the effort before embarking on a big, or small, project!

Some exceptions!

As always, there are some occasions when you can/need to use something different to a 1/4″ seam allowance (scant or otherwise!);

  • English Paper Piecing (EPP): some quilters prefer to use a bigger seam allowance – generally 3/8″ – when wrapping fabric around paper shapes. This can make it easier to prepare the pieces and allows for the fraying that can occur with the handling of fabric over time but is very much down to personal preference.
  • Basting: If making accessories eg. a pouch, you may need to join two (or more) pieces of fabric temporarily. This is done by using a longer stitch on the machine – or hand stitching – normally within the seam allowance eg. at 1/8″
  • Pattern: although most patterns use common abbreviations and techniques, I would always recommend reading through a pattern before starting a project to make sure that you understand all the standard definitions, and seam allowances that the designer recommends.

And that’s all for Seam Allowance! I hope it’s helpful for you in your sewing journey? If you have any questions then let me know and come back next week when we’ll be looking at fabric. I’ll try not to get too lost in my stash over the coming week whilst I’m doing some research…..!!!!!!

To see all the other posts in this series, you can see the schedule here;

See you soon,

S

Today’s sky::: overcast, grey. Generally miserable. Meh!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please do sign-up to my newsletter to have updates and news sent to your inbox. And to see my patterns you can check out my Etsy shop here.

#QuiltingTheory – The Lingo

#QuiltingTheory – The Lingo

Hello! And welcome to the first post in the #QuiltingTheory series! Today, we are going to start with the lingo that quilters (and sewists!) use. There are so many abbreviations, acronyms and other terms that it can get a little confusing trying to figure out what they all mean!

Before we start though, I would like to cover off something that I found really confusing when I started this journey – What is a quilter?! Strictly speaking, patchwork is the cutting up of fabric and stitching it back together again to make lovely patterns. Quilting is the process of placing a number of fabric layers together and stitching through them, often sewing a decorative pattern in the process. Over time, these terms have become interchangeable and Quilter has become shorthand for someone who does either patchwork or quilting. This can encompass quilts, cushions, pouches and other accessories. Once I started quilting I found lots of different projects I could add patchwork too!

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to begin quilting and grow your skills, starting with The Lingo by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Now, I confess that this is a long post. I figured it would be beneficial to keep all of the definitions together. To make it easier to navigate, I have split the quilting lingo into broad categories – you can click on the titles below to jump straight to a section – but you may still want to pin this for future reference!

  • Seams: seam allowance definitions.
  • Fabric / Materials: explaining fabric and the different cuts.
  • Tools: a brief explanation of the main quilting tools.
  • Techniques: a summary of the different ways a quilt can be put together.
  • Quilting: the different ways a quilt can be finished.
  • Others: key words that didn’t fit in to any of the other categories!

So, now that we’ve sorted that out, shall we begin?!

Seams

We will be looking at seams in much greater detail in Week 2, including how to achieve the correct seam allowance. For this week though, we are looking at the most generally used terms;

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to begin quilting and grow your skills by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence
AbbreviationMeaningDefinition
SA Seam AllowanceThe seam allowance is the distance that you sew from the edge of the fabric. For quilting, this is generally 1/4" unless otherwise specified in a pattern.
ScantA seam allowance that is just under a 1/4" seam allowance
Nest SeamsWhen sewing rows of blocks together, the seams for Row A are pressed to eg. The left, and the seams for Row B are pressed in the opposite direction eg. The right. When the rows are placed together for sewing the seams on each row sit - or nest - together neatly allowing for greater accuracy in joining them together (pictured).
Press SeamsTo press a seam, an iron is placed on top of the fabric seam and pressed down, before being moved to another section of the seam and repeating the action. Seams are not ironed in a traditional way to avoid stretching the fabric. In quilting, seams are either pressed open or to one side (normally the side with the darker fabric), depending on what is being sewn.

Fabric / Materials

We will be looking at fabric in more detail during Week 3. For this week though we will look at the different fabric cuts that you can buy;

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to begin quilting and grow your skills by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence
AbbreviationMeaningDefinition
SelvedgeThe edge of each side of fabric, this is generally trimmed off.
WOFWidth of FabricMost quilting cotton measures 44" wide from edge to edge, or 42" if you exclude the selvedge from each side. You can also get wider fabric eg. 108" wide which is great for backings
FE / F8Fat EighthA piece of fabric measuring 21" wide x 9" tall
FQFat QuarterA piece of fabric measuring 21" wide x 18" tall
Jelly RollA pack of 42 x 2.5" Width of Fabric strips from one collection
Mini Charm (Candy) PackA pack of 42 x 2.5" squares from one collection
Charm PackA pack of 42 x 5" squares from one collection
Layer CakeA pack of 42 x 10" squares from one collection
Dessert CutsA pack of 12 strips measuring 5" x Width of Fabric
BiasFabric cut at a 45* angle to the selvedge, which gives it more stretch.
RSRight SideThe front of the fabric (stronger in colour)
RSTRight Side TogetherPlacing two pieces of fabric (or folding one piece of fabric in half) front sides together.
WSWrong SideThe back of the fabric (duller in colour)
WSTWrong Side TogetherPlacing two pieces of fabric (or folding one piece of fabric in half) wrong sides together.

Tools

There are lots of tools that you can use in your quilting journey, which I will cover off in Week 4. Listed below are the ones that you will most likely come across, or even want to buy, when you first start out – you can see all my favourite tools here!

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to begin quilting and grow your skills by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence
AbbreviationMeaningDefinition
Rotary CutterThis is like a pizza-cutter, but specifically used for cutting fabric. The blades are very sharp and are able to cut through multiple layers of fabric at a time, so are brilliant for cutting out large projects! They have a protective cover on them and the blades can be replaced as they dull.
Cutting MatThese come in lots of different sizes and are often called self-healing as the mat as they are made from a material which closes back together. It is best to always use a sharp rotary cutter and not to always cut in the same place to minimise any potential damage.
Quilting RulerAvailable in lots of different shapes and sizes. When used with a rotary cutter, they enable you to cut multiple strips/pieces of fabric quickly and accurately.
Wonder ClipsHandy for keeping lots of layers together - especially for fabrics that may be marked with a pin - binding, and keeping pieces of fabric/patterns together.
NeedlesThere are lots of different needles available for hand-sewing - varying in length, thickness and the size of the eye where you put the thread through. Favourite needles are very often a personal preference - I like to use a very fine needle, but will use different needles depending on what fabric I'm sewing with and what I'm actually sewing! (you can find my favourite needles by clicking on the link above).
ThreadFor quilting, it is always recommended to use thread that is made out of the same fibres as the fabric eg. Cotton thread with cotton fabric. This helps to minimise wear and tear on the fabric and help the quilt to last.

Techniques

There are many different ways that patchwork can be put together, the ones that you will most likely come across in the beginning are;

AbbreviationMeaningDefinition
BastingA way of joining layers together, generally by stitching, with the basting thread being removed once the layers have been properly secured. This can be done by hand with big stitches and is a great way of using up the odds and ends of thread that are left on a spool/bobbin. Alternatively, it can be done on a sewing machine , using a longer stitch length and within the seam allowance eg. if you are working with a 1/4" seam allowance you would baste at 1/8" inch.
EPPEnglish Paper PiecingA traditional form of patchwork where fabric is wrapped around a piece of paper eg. a hexagon, and secured with either basting stitches or glue sticks. Each of the hexagons are then sewn together to create a larger piece such as a cushion/quilt.
FPPFoundation Paper PiecingThis is used to achieve complex shapes and very accurate piecing. The pattern is printed on to paper and the fabric is sewn on to the reverse side of the paper, with the pattern on the front dictating where the lines should be stitched.
Leaders/EndersA piece of fabric that is used to begin stitching on before moving on to the actual pieces of your quilt. Some machines can chew fabric at the beginning of a new seam or end up with a tangle of threads at the back. By using a leader/ender, if there are any issues the quilt blocks remain unblighted. Some quilters use the leaders/enders as a separate project - a 2 for 1 project - or you can just use a scrap piece of fabric!
Machine-pieceFabric pieces sewn together using a sewing machine
Chain-pieceWhen sewing fabric pieces together by machine, the pairs are sewn together one after the other with a little chain of stitches between them. You end up with a long chain of pieces - almost like bunting! - and when the joining chains are snipped you end up with the individual pairs/blocks. This can help to speed up the process of sewing pieces together - especially useful on a big project! - and also helps to reduce the amount of thread that is wasted.
Hand-pieceSewing pieces of fabric together by hand. The sewing lines are generally drawn on the back as a guide to sew along.
AppliqueFabric shapes are cut out and placed on the front (right side) of a piece of fabric and stitched in position. This can be needle-turned, where the raw edge is folded under and hand-stitched in place, or machine stitched in position, often using a blanket stitch.
ImprovSewing pieces of fabric together in a random way to create fun and interesting patterns, not following a pattern.
Whole ClothOne piece of fabric is used for the front of a quilt and the pattern is created wholly through stitching (by machine or hand).
Y seamsAlso called inset or set-in seams, these occur when three or more pieces of fabric meet, often forming a Y shape, such as when joining hexagons together. The can be joined together by hand or by machine with a bit of practise.
Top StitchStitching added to a project - mostly pouches/bags and dressmaking - to secure and add strength to a seam/edge and add decorative detail.
Slip StitchMost often used for hems or somewhere that you don't want visible stitching such as applique or binding.
Ladder StitchOften used to close a gap that has been left for turning an item out eg. A pouch or soft toy. The stitch is carried from one edge of the hole to the other, creating an invisible closure.

Quilting

The terms and phrases most frequently associated with the quilting stage of making a quilt;

AbbreviationMeaningDefinition
Batting / WaddingThe layer that goes between the quilt top and the backing fabric - it's what makes a quilt lovely, warm and snuggly! There are lots of different materials available - cotton, wool, bamboo.
LoftThis indicates the thickness of the wadding - they can vary from thin to thick depending on the material used. Generally, the thicker the wadding the more difficult it can be to quilt.
BastingBasting a quilt refers to joining the top layer (patchwork), the middle layer (the wadding) and the bottom layer (the backing fabric). This can be done in a number of different ways - using pins, spray glue or thread….it often depends on personal preference and the size of the project!
QAYGQuilt as you GoThis technique can be used in a couple of different ways. For a smaller project, such as a pouch, a piece of fabric will be laid directly on some wadding and stitched in place. Other pieces of fabric will be added in a similar manner. For a larger project such as a quilt, the blocks can be quilted individually before being joined together (this can be useful on really big quilts that would be too tricky to stitch on a domestic sewing machine)
Echo QuiltingStitching around a shape in the quilt, and repeating this with the lines spaced equally apart.
FMQFree Motion QuiltingSewing a pattern on the quilt using a sewing machine - these can range from basic meandering to highly elaborate patterns.
KanthaHand-stitching in big running stitches, often with rows close together to create a beautiful texture
Long ArmSpecialist machines that are used for Free Motion Quilting. If you have made a special quilt, are not confident at quilting or you have a project that is simply too big to tackle on your machine, you can send your quilt to someone who specialises in quilting.
BindingA piece of fabric that is wrapped around the edge of the quilt to hide the raw edges and secure all the layers together. It gives a lovely finish to the quilt and helps to frame the design.

Others

Other words and phrases that I kept coming across when I started this journey that didn’t quite fit into any of the other categories!

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to begin quilting and grow your skills by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence
AbbreviationMeaningDefinition
WIPWork in ProgressMost people (well, I'm hoping it's not just me, anyway!) have a few projects in various stages
UFOUnFinished ObjectSimilar to a WIP!
BOMBlock of the MonthThere are lots of fun programmes/clubs that you can join where you receive the pattern for a new block each month. Some are free, some you pay for and they are both a great way of trying out new skills with a community of people. At the end of the programme, you will have a completed project. They often run over a year but can also run weekly/bi-monthly.
Dog-earsA term used to describe the little triangular ends that sit outside the seams of the blocks when you've made half-square triangle blocks. Personally, I prefer to trim the dog-ears off my blocks before sewing them together as I find it helps with accuracy, but you can just leave them (see picture above)
FlimsySometimes used to describe a quilt top where all the blocks have been joined together, but it hasn't yet been made into a quilt.
Design WallA 'sticky' wall that blocks can be placed on when making a quilt to ensure correct colour placement. Often, this is a piece of wadding stuck on a wall. If you don't have enough wall space, you can use a pin to secure blocks to a sheet which can be folded up, or I find the floor works just as well (best when the kids aren't around!)

Phew! That was quite mammoth, wasn’t it?! I hope that it has all been useful? There are many more terms, but these should cover the key ones that you come across in the beginning. If there’s any that you think I’ve missed out though, then please do let me know!


Come back next week when we will be looking at Seam Allowance in a lot more detail and please drop me a line if you have any questions,

Back Soon,

S x

Today’s sky::: overcast, raining. Generally yuk!

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#QuiltingTheory – an introduction

#QuiltingTheory – an introduction

If you’ve visited this blog before, you probably know that since making my first quilt back in 2012 I have fallen head over heels in love with sewing. It’s something I’m really passionate about and want to get everyone doing!!!

#QuiltingTheory - learn everything you need to know to begin quilting and grow your skills by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Over the years, I’ve encouraged people to pick up a needle and thread and have even managed to convert a few people (hurrah!). In the beginning, there are so many new things to try and understand though. When you first start quilting, it can feel like a whole other language!

I’ve been asked questions, shared tips, and taught workshops and one day it occurred to me: wouldn’t it be great if there was a quilting equivalent of the Driving Theory Test? Somewhere you could find all the information that you need in the beginning to fully understand patchwork and quilting before actually picking up a needle and thread??? Also, I used to work in Market Research so this really appeals to my geeky side!

What is #QuiltingTheory?

During the #QuiltingTheory series, I will go through each of the key areas – the lingo, seam allowance, fabric, essential tools (although if you want a sneak peek, you can shop my favourite tools here!) and the making of a quilt. I will breakdown what things mean and explain the principles behind each of the different steps.

Mini Medallion Cushion tutorial for #QuiltingTheory series by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

At the end of the series, I have got a Practical for you – a cushion tutorial. This is a great small project to try out a few of the techniques and the knowledge that you will learn during the series, without blowing the budget or taking too much time!

#QuiltingTheory timings

Once the basics have been covered, I will continue adding to #QuiltingTheory. This will include ‘practical’ articles (tutorials/demos) and a more in-depth look at some of the trickier skills/topics to build a library of information that you can dip into as needed.

I really hope you enjoy this series and if there’s anything in particular that you’d like me to cover (now, or in the future!), or if you have any questions then please do drop me a line! And please do share with others that you think might find it interesting!

Thanks,

S x

Today’s sky::: overcast and wet, but not too cold!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please do sign-up to my newsletter to have updates and news sent to your inbox. And to see my patterns you can check out my Etsy shop here.

Flower Meadow Cushion with tips for sewing curves

Flower Meadow Cushion with tips for sewing curves

NOTE: this post may contain affiliate links. It will not cost you any money if you click on them and just means that I get a small commission for recommending it, which helps to keep the blog running. Thank you.

Today I’ve got a finish to share with you – hurrah! It’s been a fair while in the making as, although it’s not very big, I’ve been working on it as and when inspiration strikes, trying out different techniques and methods. It’s been quite fun!

Flowers meadow cushion and tips for sewing curves by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

The idea for this cushion originally came to me when I started working with my Drunkards Wheel templates. Whilst making the Candy Swirls Quilt, I started playing with the different ways in which the blocks could be tessellated……I kept thinking of flowers and couldn’t help grabbing some fabrics to make a mini meadow!

Flowers meadow cushion and tips for sewing curves by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

I love sewing curves – they open up the opportunities to make so many different patterns. Because of the segments in the Drunkards Wheel you can use lots of fabrics – always fun – and it’s a great way of using up scraps.

If you’ve never sewn curves, they can be a bit scary to start with – I remember reading up on it so much before finally having a go at it. And it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be, honestly!!! The trick is to experiment and find what works best for you.

Some Hints & Tips for sewing curves;

  • Use a smaller rotary cutter eg. 28mm for cutting the curves around the templates, with a max of two layers.
  • Do not use too smaller a stitch length (eg. Anything less than 2.4) – if you need to redo a seam, using a larger stitch length will prevent the fabric from stretching too much.
  • Sew at a slower speed than you normally would, until you are more familiar with the shape. You may also find stopping and repositioning the fabric as you work around the curve, will help to give you a smoother line (if you have one, a knee lift can be very helpful).
  • I like to work with the bigger curve (with the excess fabric) on the bottom.
  • Holding up the fabric as it is being fed into the machine can help with easing the bottom fabric into the curve.
  • The seam ripper is your friend! It can be used to help keep the fabric in place as the fabric goes through the machine and sometimes you will need to redo a seam – but the more you sew, the less this will happen!

The Flower Meadow is a great way of practising sewing curves together in different ways…….the purple flower (a tulip?!) was the trickiest because of all the seams in the centre: I found that sewing the blocks together in to pairs and then basting the centre seam of the two halves in position before joining them together helped with the accuracy, and is a great trick to use whenever you’re working with bulky/difficult seams.

Once the flowers had been made there was a small debate about what to make it in to……..I didn’t need three more cushions (Mr f&f is already moaning!) and then inspiration struck: if I used a king-size pillow, it would be perfect for my book-worm daughter to lean against whilst reading!!!!!

Flowers meadow cushion and tips for sewing curves by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

To make the cushion top I went improv and low-volume, adding fabric scraps until I reached the size I wanted (36″ wide x 19″ tall). I worked on each of the flowers individually before adding the panels together. I’ve added the cut measurements to give you an idea if you would like to make your own, but you can alter it to whatever size you want! Or maybe even make lots of rows and turn them in to a quilt?!

Flowers meadow cushion and tips for sewing curves by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Can you see the yellow thread where I hand-basted the quilt layers together? I remember reading somewhere once that the best way of making a job you don’t like bearable, is to find the most fun way of doing it. I’m not a fan of basting quilts, so figured this would be worth try. It was certainly a fun way of doing it (although I’m not sure I’d be so keen on a big quilt!) and the layers kept together really nicely whilst I was embellishing it, so I’ll definitely do it again.

Flowers meadow cushion and tips for sewing curves by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Some bias binding strips for the stems, free-form leaves which were needle-turn appliqued and it was all ready for quilting! I used a mix of embroidery, free-form quilting, echo-quilting and kantha stitching (I ‘drew’ lines 1.5″ apart using a hera-marker so that I knew where to stitch. It was a great way of trying different techniques and the great thing with a small project is that because it’s not too big it’s easy to work with and doesn’t take too long to finish!

Flowers meadow cushion and tips for sewing curves by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Do you ever make a project just to play and try new things? If you’d like to have a play with sewing curves, you can pick up my Drunkards Wheel template set here, or maybe have a go at a pouch or mug rug which are always great quick projects for trying out new things!

That’s all for now, back soon,

S x

Today’s sky:::bright blue but freezing cold!!!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please do sign-up to my newsletter to have updates and news sent to your inbox. And to see my patterns you can check out my Etsy shop here.

Zippy Pouch Along – constructing the zip band, lining and pocket sides

Zippy Pouch Along – constructing the zip band, lining and pocket sides

NOTE: this post may contain affiliate links. It will not cost you any money if you click on them and just means that I get a small commission for recommending it, which helps to keep the blog running. Thank you.

Hello there! Shall we get started with the (Not So) Little Zippy Pouch?! You may find it helpful – if you haven’t done so already – to print out the Cutting Instructions (page 4/5) and the Measurement Guide (page 18/19) relevant to the pouch size you are making. Although not necessary, you may find it helps to keep a track of the pattern if you are working off a screen.

Zippy Pouch Along - preparing the pieces and zipper tips by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

I’m making a Not So Little Zippy pouch and have made a patchwork front panel with some lovely scraps I had lying around. I ironed my favourite interfacing to the back – I find it sticks well and adds a nice weight/stability to the fabric without making it feel stiff and horrible –  as I have run out of fusible wadding before layering with some wadding to quilt. Depending on the quilting that you do, it may be beneficial to baste around the finished edges of the panel to secure everything in place.

Constructing the Zip Band

If you’ve not used zips much before, I have personally found that adding tabs to the end of the zip seem to make them a lot easier to work with as it seems to stabilise them! The tutorial here details how to add the zip tabs. Some other tips that may help with inserting the zipper (or any zip actually!);

Zippy Pouch Along - preparing the pieces and zipper tips by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence
  • Pin the fabric/tabs in position with the pins at right angles to the seam that you are going to be sewing. 
  • For the tabs, if you can position the pins close to the zip, when you place the fabric under the machine you can add a couple of stitches to secure everything in place before taking the pins out.
  • Measure both sides of the zip for accuracy when marking.
  • When sewing the zip to the band pieces, begin sewing each side from the same end. This will mean that if there is any fabric creep, it will end up at the same end meaning you only need to trim one side, helping with accuracy.
Zippy Pouch Along - preparing the pieces and zipper tips by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

The Pocket Sides

When making the pocket sides, the only thing to really watch is when trimming around the excess fabric around the tab: you need to snip right up into the corner, but not through the stitching. Then, when turning to the right side, press from the top edge towards the bottom tab. Even then, the sides of the tab can still be a little bouncy! I have found that using scissors/seam ripper to gently hold the side out will help create a straight edge. 

Zippy Pouch Along - preparing the pieces and zipper tips by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Bag lining & Internal Zip Pocket

Using some of the zipper tips from above, sew the pockets and pouch lining together. If your zip is slightly longer than even better as it means you can keep the zip pull up and out the way and you won’t need to move it at all whilst sewing the zip in!!!

To close the bottom of the pocket (Step 20), ensure that you fold at the zip and if necessary use pins to keep the top lining edges straight. Smooth the fabric down from the zip, measure and mark the line that you will be sewing.  Once you have completed this step, the bottom of the pocket will be closed. When you have shaped the side of the pocket you can baste the edges together – which can be beneficial if you are not adding the pocket sides on straight away.

Adding Slip Pockets

In an attempt to be ultra organised (ha!) I’m adding two slip pockets to this version. For one of them, I thought it would be handy to create a divide with a pocket big enough to keep pens/scissors so that they don’t disappear to the very bottom of the bag. 

Zippy Pouch Along - preparing the pieces and zipper tips by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

To do this, I made a slip pocket following the pattern up to Step 3, before attaching it to the lining. I measured 3″ in from one side and using a hera marker drew a line. Starting at the bottom of the pocket, I stitched up to the top of the pocket, adding a stitched triangle to help reinforce the seam.

And there we go! That is all of our pouch elements prepped and ready to be put together – come back for our next post where we will add the pocket sides and join the layers together!!!

Zippy Pouch Along - preparing the pieces and zipper tips by fabricandflowers | Sonia Spence

Zippy Pouch Along Timings;

Don’t forget to follow @fabricandflowers and @rosegardenpatchwork and use the hashtag #zippypouchalong so that I can see all the fabulous pouches that you’re making! If you are looking for a copy of the pattern, check out my Etsy shop here. And please do sign-up to my newsletter if you would like any updates or news sent straight to your inbox.

Sx

Today’s sky::: mostly grey and quite chilly!