Black and White and Red All Over Quilt – Review of the Blocks

It has been a long time since I worked on my Craftsy quilt. I started some free-motion quilting in the summer holidays, then got into garment sewing but I have been inspired to hurry up and finish after seeing the fabric I had my eye on (Stof Uno in grey and aqua) for my next quilt on sale!

Trying to decide on a design for my next quilt (yes, I know I haven’t finished this one yet!) I was thinking about which blocks and techniques I enjoyed and liked the best during the Craftsy Block of the Month (BOM). Here are my thoughts (or I think you can download it here for a clearer image).

BOM review

I have scored various aspects of the making process and given each method a score for the look and enjoyment; The winners for me are the slashed blocks (super easy and lots of impact), foundation pieced blocks (random strings of fabric made it fun and relaxing to sew), and foundation paper piecing (looks trickier than it is, but paper guidelines make it easy to sew accurately). These are my personal preferences; I like bold designs, not too busy and fiddly, and definitely prefer an easier sewing project if I’m going to make a full-sized quilt.

Other posts in the series:
Part 1 – Slashed Blocks
Part 2 – Half-Square Triangles
Part 3 – Nine-Patch Blocks
Part 4 – Star Blocks
Part 5 – Dresden Block
Part 6 – Hexagons
Part 7 – Log Cabins
Part 8 – Foundation Piecing
Part 9 – Foundation Paper Piecing
Part 10 – Curved Piecing

p.s. while searching for pattern ideas I found the most AMAZING page with links to hundreds of block designs. So many ideas!

Anna Dress FBA – changing the gathers to flatter a fuller bust

I am so glad you liked my FBA tutorial for the Anna dress 🙂 (And I am glad you realised how much effort it was; I took photos as I went along, but it wasn’t until I was editting them that I realised how many steps there were!)

I have sewn my bodice muslin (well in a cheap fabric that I will use for first wearable test version) and realised the gathers I have are a bit too big to be flattering. Do you remember my Cambie dresses? I had the same problem there; with a full bust, the size of darts/gathers is big, so the darts begin to make a pointy corner. And how did I solve that problem? I changed the darts from one to three, so each dart was slightly smaller and less pointy!

Here is a quick diagram to show the extremely scientific method I used to adjust the gathers on my Anna (after unpicking the first set). Following my FBA tutorial, work your way to step 20, and stop there.

Anna FBA part 3

Changing gathers is easier than changing darts, as you don’t have to worry about the pointy dart ends. For my measurements I narrowed each pleat by about an inch (technically it was a thumbnail length). I then created a new pleat in between (green lines), making sure it was the same size as the amount I removed (2 red lines below). This gave me 3 approximately equal pleats, but you could measure them and do some maths (if you haven’t spent all day teaching 4 year olds how to sit quietly! this method is good enough for me!)

pleatsAnd here is how the pleats now look in real life:

Dodgy camera-phone shots in the mirror, but I think you can see the effect. I have pinned and re-sewn the pleats more than my fabric could cope with, so I need to cut out a new bodice before I can carry on with the sewalong. Who else is sewing along? How is it going?


Anna Dress FBA – how to use your high bust for a great fit

Warning: This is a long post, full of pictures, but only because you requested fitting tutorials!

I am definitely on the By Hand London bandwagon and love the drafting of their patterns, however I was a little disappointed by the FBA (full bust adjustment) advice in the Anna dress Sewalong. The method is fine if you just have a tiny bit to add, but I have read lots of people saying they had big or gaping necklines on their Anna dresses; the method they show will cause/add to this problem, so here is how I did my FBA (using the Y-Method for adding more than 1.5″).

Before we start I’m going to explain why I am using my high-bust measurement instead of my full-bust. Hopefully these pictures will make sense to you, but let me know if you have any questions.

Why you need to use high bust

Patterns are graded to fit different sizes, but the shape of the garment usually remains the same or similar proportions (a). Most commercial patterns are drafted for a B or C cup, and if you are much bigger than this then your proportions will be different (b). Someone with a full bust measurement of X could either have a full-frame and wear a B-cup (c – outer black line), or have a smaller frame and wear a GG-cup (c – red line); your high-bust measurement is a better indicator of your overall frame. When choosing your size (d) it is better to fit to your high-bust and adjust, otherwise you will have extra fabric above and below your bust (e); it is easier to fit the waist with darts/gathers but a baggy/gaping neckline is harder to fix.

Does that make sense? I hope so! So now you need to measure your high-bust and full bust, and we can get started…

Anna FBA part 1

  1. Get your resources and tools ready. You will need your pattern, tape-measure, ruler, pencil and pens, sticky-tape and tissue paper (I like to use multiple colours to see the changes I have made).
  2. Some patterns include high-bust measurements, but today we have to do some maths. Take your high bust and add ease (I added an inch for this pattern). Divide by 4 and then add seam-allowance to get X. Take your tape measure to the pattern and measure to find the size that matches X at the underarm, going up a size if you fall between sizes. I am ignoring my waist measurement at the moment, as the FBA will add extra at the waist.
  3. Place tissue paper over the pattern and hold it in place with weights or tape. Trace the size you have just chosen.
  4. Use a ruler to trace grainline markings and darts to ensure they are nice and straight.
  5. Mark the stitching lines. This is SUPER important so don’t skip this step! Use your ruler or tape-measure to make marks 5/8″ or 1.5cm inside the pattern, and join them up with a ruler/french-curve or freehand.
  6. Cut out your traced pattern.
  7. Pin the shoulder and side-seams together, and darts/gathers at the seam allowance. Now you need to carefully try it on and measure how much you need to add at the bust.

    Anna FBA part 2

  8. While you are wearing the tissue bodice you need to mark your bust point; this is the fullest part of your bust/nipple area.
  9. Before we can do the FBA, we need to get rid of the sleeve. Draw a line from the side-seam (before it curves out) straight up to the shoulder. Cut along the line and put this piece in a safe place.
  10. With a ruler draw some lines from the bust point to
    a) the waist seam (parallel to the centre-front fold). I made sure mine was in between the two gathers.
    b) the shoulder seam
    c) two-thirds up from the underarm (armhole)
    d) just under the underarm
  11. Cut along these lines, stopping at the stitching line you drew in step 5. This keeps the stitching line of the shoulder the same length so it will still match the back shoulders. (I left the underarm line intact for a few steps)
  12. Place some tissue paper under the pattern and start to spread the slashes.
  13. Do you remember how much you needed to add? Spread the shoulder slash until it is half this distance away from the bust point, and tape in place.
  14. Now spread the armhole slash the rest of the distance and tape down onto the tissue paper.
  15. Now cut the underarm line and slash until the pattern lies parallel with the centre-front piece. Slash the centre front piece horizontally and spread down until the waistlines line up.

    If you want to sew up a side dart, you can tape everything down and skip ahead to part 4. I didn’t want to spoil the lines of the bodice with a side dart, so I rotated the dart out into the waist gathers.

    Anna FBA part 3

  16. Before we can rotate the dart, we need to move the gather/pleat to underneath the bust point. Cut a box around the pleat and move it across.
  17. Position the pleat so the bust point is directly above the centre of the pleat. Tape in place and fill in the gap with tissue.
  18. Cut up the pleat to the bust point (following the original cut lines). Spread this cut and half close the underarm dart (we are going to share the fullness between both pleats). Tape extra tissue in place.
  19. Cut along the top of the underarm dart, extending to above the second pleat, and then down between the pleat markings.
  20. Fully close the underarm dart and tape tissue in place.
  21. Now draw on the cutting and stitching lines to fill the gaps on the added tissue.
  22. When you get to the pleats, fold the pleats together and mark the lines on the under layers at the fold. Use a pen for this as you need the marks to bleed through the tissue.
  23. Join the dots using a ruler.

    Nearly there…

    Anna FBA part 4

  24. The FBA is now done. Make sure all the layers are taped down securely. You might want to trim away the excess tissue paper layers on the back.
  25. Now we need to add the sleeve piece we removed in step 9. Carefully join the stitching lines (in red) and tape in place.
  26. Fill in the hole with more tissue and tape. There! We have finished the adjustments!
  27. Check the fit by pinning the front and back bodice pieces, making sure you have pinned the pleats and darts closed. My waist was a bit snug so I redrew the pleat markings a little closer together. If your waist is too big, you could easily extend the pleats to nip in the waist some more.

And we are done! It sounds like a lot of stages, but it really does make difference to the fit around the neckline and shoulders. Before you cut into your yummy fabric, it is a great idea to make a muslin in cheap cotton (or similar weight to your fashion fabric). My fabric for the sew-along was only £1.50pm (it has a tiny fault every 75cm) and I got plenty so I am going to make a wearable muslin of the whole dress.

I really hope this is useful. If there are any questions or if anything isn’t clear, please ask in the comments below and I can try and explain.

Pink Polka-dot Hummingbird

I bought this fabric in July on a trip with Jo (I was looking for plain jersey, which hot pink dots definitely is!) and had decided it would be perfect for a Cake Hummingbird top, without even owning the pattern. Then when I got the pattern I was being extra good about resting my wrists and so it sat around for a few weeks.


When my wrists felt up to crafting I wanted an easy project to ease myself into. I also didn’t want to waste crafting time tracing/cutting out lots of pattern pieces, so I decided to try the peplum of the Hummingbird top with my fail-safe jersey bodice. I cut the peplum piece and my normal top pieces, stopping just below the waistline and simply sewed them together at the waist. Simple.4The most time-consuming parts of this make were the neck and sleeve bindings (my new favourite method of finishing knits -look how flat it sits in the picture below!) and trying to work out the best height to join the peplum. When I tried it on it sat a bit low so, instead of unpicking all the lightning stitches, I created a bigger seam-allowance; next time I need to sew it just a teeny bit lower so I can keep the original length of the peplum, as it looks a touch too short in some of these pics.

I really love this top! It is so fun to wear, and looks just a little bit more interesting than just a normal t-shirt. It does feel a bit weird when wearing it as it sometimes feels like I’m wearing a crop-top when the breeze blows the peplum away from my body! Will definitely be making more of these in the future, and maybe with the original bodice!1

These pictures were taken at the end of the summer holidays but I waited to post them as I wanted my 200th post to be special and sentimental; I think the length of my fringe here clearly shows they were taken before my back-to-school haircut!

I still have a few more summer makes to show you (and one that needs a bit of a tweak) but tomorrow is the start of the By Hand London Anna Sew-along and I am looking forward to joining in with a sew-along in real time.

200th post… future crafty plans

A few weeks ago I reached 150 followers across wordpress and bloglovin and today this is my 200th blog post!

I got so many lovely and constructive comments on my giveaway post, I really wanted to think about all the comments (it has been a long day at work so it is nice to think about nice happy things) and think about how I can keep improving my little blog.


Lots of people mentioned my fabric choices 🙂 Last year a friend commented that since I’ve started sewing I wear brighter colours and more prints; the best thing about sewing is being able to choose the combination of fabric and pattern that I like and not be controlled by fashion. I like picking fun and sometimes silly prints and I’m glad other people agree. There are some more fun fabrics hanging on my drying rack at the moment and I have some even crazier ideas on my shopping list… (Christmas party dress made from Christmas print fabric…?!)

There were some clear requests for wishes for the future; more/better/snazzier photos and tutorials/info about fitting and projects.


I’d love to take pictures in more locations but I’m still building up the confidence to take my tripod and remote out and about in public, so you’ll have to put up with exciting hallway shots for a little longer (my flat is tiny so if I need a full length shot, I have to go in the hall as it is the only place I have more than a metre of floor space!) Earlier in the year I deliberated for a long time about putting my face on my blog; I’m a teacher so am aware of what I post online being potentially visible to pupils/parents, but I also realised that all the blogs I enjoyed reading the most were the ones where I could visualise the writer.

I’m definitely going to write some tutorials (when I get a quiet weekend I actually spend at home) to show some of my adjustments and fitting fixes. I’ve learned most of my sewing tricks from reading other blogs and sometimes assume everyone reads the same blogs as me so know the same tips as I do; with so many blogs in existence this is obviously not true, so it would be a pleasure to share my knowledge with my corner of the web. Let me know if there are any specific projects that you want tutorials for; my to-do list includes FBA on princess seams (Elisalex), making my croquis, t-shirt pattern alterations, and a big project that is yet to be revealled…

I was in a pretty lousy mood when I sat down at the computer, but writing this post has cheered me up so much 🙂 The sewing community is really so supportive (not a single nasty comment) and all the comments were so thoughtful, the “blog audit” was so much better than I anticipated. Leave a message below (or say hi on twitter) if you want me to give your blog 2 stars and a wish!



The Napkin Project


I read about The Napkin Project a couple of months ago on Melissa’s blog and thought it sounded like a great project; a nice little embroidery project that can hopefully have a positive impact on the life of someone with dementia. Dementia is a subject I have learnt more and more about over the past few years, as it has affected both my grandmothers. I quickly signed up to take part.

“When is a napkin not a napkin? When it’s something to keep your hands busy. Or a bag. Or a hat. Or an aide-memoire.
While she was involved with a project to create artwork for a new dementia care home, artist Deirdre Nelson noticed that residents in Brunelcare’s existing Saffron care home were often fascinated by the textured edges of items, playing with, handling and exploring objects such as the napkins they used at mealtimes. A member of staff told her that one resident would join napkins together to carry her possessions around with her or that another used hers as a vase to hold flowers; a napkin became more than just a napkin.
The Napkin Project evolved out of this observation and the other artwork that was created for Saffron Gardens. It has now grown a life of its own.”

embroidery 4

The Napkin Project asked people to embroider napkins to be given to residents with dementia at a care home; the napkins are intended to provide tactile stimulation and engagement and act as a prompt for social interaction. We were asked to embroider with a design that originated from the idea of home.

What does home mean to you?
“What does ‘home’ mean to you if you are a person living with dementia? Maybe it’s where you were born or grew up – a suburb of Bristol, a village in the Punjab or a small town in Jamaica? Chances are it is where you have been happiest among family and friends. Could it be the residential care home where you now live?”

embroidery 3

Both my grandmothers have experienced dementia, with different effects and symptoms. When thinking about the design for my napkin, I thought how my grandma’s memory has gone and how she now spends most of her time in her childhood memories; I didn’t want to create something too specific to me or too modern that could confuse residents further, so I decided to recreate a simple child-like house that would hopefully feel familiar and reassuring (the simple design also meant I’d have more chance of completing it with my poorly wrists).

embroidery 2

Another reason I was so keen to finish this project was that between hearing about it and completing my embroidery, I lost two of my grandparents whose live have both been affected by dementia; My grandad, who did not have dementia himself but had to visit his wife who often did not recognise him, and my grandma, whose dementia left her unable to have a conversation. Watching close family deal with dementia is horrible, especially when they themselves are aware that their thoughts are not quite right and that something is wrong, which is why I was so keen to do a little something to make things easier for someone.

embroidery 8

And the winner is…

Yesterday was the start of the school year and we definitely hit the ground running so I got home and slumped on the sofa, too tired to do anything. I was even too tired to turn on my computer to pick a winner for my giveaway. But today my classroom looks good and while I was sorting the home-corner wardrobe I remembered I still needed to pick a name out of a hat.

Instead of a hat I found a Darth Vader helmet…

…the winner is Nessa! Congrats!

Thank you so much for all the lovely comments; re-reading them all today really made me smile. I am still thinking about them and what wishes I will act on first, so stay tuned!

Pom Pom Parade


The other day I told you about The Campaign for Wool’s attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for pom-pom sheep. Since it was at the zoo, one of my favourite places to visit, I decided to pop down and play with yarn.

There were lots of tables full of crafty goodies to make pom-pom sheep, and all the yarn was pure wool! It felt a bit extravagant to be making pom-poms with such snuggly wool, but the whole point of the record was to raise awareness of wool.

When I made pom poms as a child we used cardboard donut-shapes and cut them away, but here you can see the donuts are made from foam and can be pulled over and off the fluffy wool.

It was so much fun that I couldn’t resist making two little sheep. Before joining the flock, we went for a walk around the kids corner of the zoo.




On the way back to the woolly pavilion I bumped into Shaun the Sheep!
Then it was time to say goodbye to my super soft fluffy friends. Can you spot them in the holding pen?

I also found another activity that kept me occupied for an hour or so, but it is so exciting it needs its own blog post later on… In the meantime here is a teaser of what I was doing…

***Reminder: My celebratory giveaway closes tomorrow! ***