Author: scrapdragon

Violet floral style quilt

floral block with suffolk puff features

floral block with suffolk puff features

As any parent knows, its a thrill to be told that a  new grandchild was on the way.  My son and daughter-in-law has all the scans and knew they were expacting a little girl to make their family complete with a toddler son.  They even decided on her name before she was born.   The name Violet was loved by the mum but was also the name of the baby’s great-great Grandmother.  The middle name of Brooke was a family name as my dad, the baby’s great grandfather’s middle name.  He was so pleased to hear that his latest great grandchild would bear his middle name which had been passed down through several genrations.   It was just a shame he finally lost his couragous battle with cancer and he didn’t live to see her and give her a last cuddle.  Of course a new little girl named Violet Brooke had to have a violet and mauve quilt.

I designed the  quilt  using the quilting software #EQ7  which to be honest I am still getting to grips with.  Although the colour scheme was mostly picked during a flash sale of #KonaSolids from @PlushAddict they complimented the floral design.     The sixteen blocks were complex to put together with obtuse angles.  Which meant that  each had to be trimmed and straigtended into a square to put together in sets of four.  However, when the blocks were set into  four larger square blocks, there was a  distinct mis-alignment on the centre square.

What was initially an error turned out to be a design feature.  the quilting of the large green sections to resemble leaves was just crying out to get a Suffolk Puff hand sewn into the centres as flowers.

The addition of the embroidered name and a range of quilting stitches means that it was finally completed in time for a family get together to welcome Violet into the world and fabric.

Scraps of fabric can give more than a quilt

A Baby quilt is more then just a few scraps of fabric sewn together.  the design and thought processes which carefully place each strip of colour and pattern can make a difference from one quilt and another. This cot sized baby quilt was commissioned by a neighbour for her new born long awaited grandson.  The customer wanted something unusual that others would not provide for a baby that had everything.  The commissioned brief was just a quilt with his name on and the design was left up to me.

I used the @ModaFabrics #Jellyroll #BlueberryCrumbCake. a wonderful range of blues, browns and whites.  I chose the light colour range for this quilt and a simple log cabin style block.  Once the four large blocks were completed I twisted and turned them until this pattern emerged, then the borders added.

jelly roll leftovers!

jelly roll leftovers!

Once the patchwork was done, it was time for layering and quilting.  Here I had fun and chose a range of different stitch options on my #Janome 12000 machine.

This baby quilt was ordered with love, stiched with fun and happiness and  given for snuggles nd cuddles.

Its not very often I succumb to creating  quilt for order but this one was fun and the beautiful subtle tones of the fabric made it all coordinate beautifully,

Sew a simple summer dress

One of the nicest things about Summer is the crisp cotton dresses for little girls. My grandaughters love the ‘twirly’ dresses which are made on a traditional design  I used this style for their mothers so often that I must admit I no longer use a pattern. As this style is so simple to create for a child its quicker to draw round them!


I am writing this post as a tutorial for those who want to have a go. Fans of the The Great British Sewing Bee #GBSB will have seen sewers creating without patterns.  The simplest way for children is to lay them on the floor and draw around their shoulders and sides on newspaper or brown paper. then add the centle curves of the neck and arms. If you get stuck, cut out the paper pattern and then hold onto the child front to get the neck edge in the right place. dont forget to fold the pattern in half down the cente front to make sure both sides are cut even;y!

Cut out two each of the front bodice and two each of the left and right back bodice shapes. This style is for a sleeveless self lined bodice which is an easy technique once you know the tips to make it.

First stitch the front bodice to the back bodice by sewing the shoulder seams on both bodices.

Stitching bodice


The next task is to carefully pin the right sides together of both external and intetnal bodices together. being careful to match round the neck and sleeves.

Starting at the bottom of the back edge. stitch all the way round the back edge, back neck, front curved neck, back neck and down the back edge to finish off at what will be the waist.

Next stitch round both armholes. The bodice side seams should still be open at this stage.

The secret of a nice edge is to trim the curved seams by cutting little triangles out of the curved seam allowances.


Next turn the bodice right sie out by from the front of the bodice, reach through to drag the back bodice through the shoulder seam.IMGP0590


Repeat for the other bodice back and you should now have a bodice which look like this. Now press the seams carefully.


By doing this way, all the seams are inside and neat.  At this point if you want to add a back tie or buton belt into the side seams pin them in place now. A ribbon belt also looks good.

The next task is to open it up slightly so that you can match the side seams front and back and stitch right round the outside and inside of each side seam.


Turn the bodice so its right side out and  press the side seams.

The skirt is easy. its just the width of the fabric cut to the length required from the waist to the hem length multiplied by two.  Both selves edges are sewn to form a wide tube and then I cut up the middle of one side of the tube to form what will be a back seam.

Then either by a basting (long  and loose) stitch on the machine or by hand, run two matching rows of gathering stitches around what will be the waist edge of the skirt. ending at the open back seam. Pull up the gathers to meet the width of the bodice top. If you just pull up the bobbin threads it creates a nice even gathering which can slide along the thread.

Now is the time to sew up the skirt back but stop and leave at least 3 inches from the top gathers.  The seam allowance will need to be turned back on the inside to form the self facing.

skirt gathering

Line up the skirt with the front bodice piece, matching the side seams of the skirt with the dress side seams and pin or baste.  Make sure you align the skirt facing right to the end of the bodice back.

Stitch the skirt to only the front bodice piece making sure the gathers are spread evenly around the bodice. The inside bodice is still open at the waist edge.  this can either be hand slip stitched into place or pinned and tacked and carefully topstitched from the front.

The back bodice can have buttons and button holes, or for ease of toddler dresses, My grandchildren love the Kam snaps poppers which are really easy to use.

I also like my belts to contrast at the front and are top stiched on the front bodice only at the end of the finished dress.  The addition of a belt pulls in any slack at the back waist.



One twirly dress finished, which was made in an evening so that my granddaughter could wear a ‘finding nemo’ dress for the last minute school under the sea themed day.

Scrapbooking a quilt


The first quilt I made was classed as a memory quilt for my mother-in-law. She has short term memory loss which we thought was getting worse si it seemed like an ideal gift for her 80th birthday. The first quilt i made included photos of her four children when they were young and a few photos of her with her deceased husband. Mum was delighted with the quilt and everyone commented on it.

I decided to create a heritage quilt for myself. This has my family tree photos. Myself as a child with my mother, father and grandparents. The key to a quilt combining scrapbook principles to a media of fabric is the photographs. Its rare to have a scrapbook page without photos do how could a heritage or memory quilt not have photos.

The technology for getting photos printed is now widely available.  From printing onto canvas bags or t-shirts from your local supermarket; to specialist paper fabric to print at home.
I have tried a few of the home printing options. In the UK, the main pack available is labelled as Print at Home fabric available from good patchwork retailers or online. The process is to make sure you have a clear photo to print on a good home inkjet printer on a normal setting. From experience,  using a photo setting on the printer floods the fabric with too much ink. Once printed, the paper vacking is removed and the fabric gently rinsed in cool water to remove excess ink then left to dry. Once dry its ready to sew with and can be lightly laundered.

The print at home brand is a good lightweight fabric for quilting although it may proove to me too lightweight  to sew with some of the better quality patchwork weight fabrics. Another option is the EQ printables fabric. It is slightly more expensive but a tighter weave and a heavier weight fabric which results in a clear photo print. There are specialust companies which can print a length of fabric to your own design. In the UK the  new company Be Fab Be Creative provide an excellent range of fabric types for printing as do Spoonflower.

I my quilt I only wanted small scale printed fabric so it was more economical and satisfying to print it myself at home. I included prints of some ephemera. The rest of the quilt was made from a charm pack and two jelly rolls from the fabulous Tim Holtz new fabric collection Ecclectic Elements.  This fabric range is typical of Tim with stamped images, old labels, tickets and old paper ephemera. They went fabulously to indicate the transience of time with the family history.
Hopefully my children will want to keep this quilt when I am not around and it may just be the start of a family heirloom quilt.

The Cath Kidston style Baby Change Bags

custom order using OWL laminate fabric

custom order using OWL laminate fabric

OWL baby change BagToday I had my first custom order for a GRACE baby change bag made from Cotton laminate, similar to the oilcloth bags from Cath Kidston. I must admit to a little trepedation when I had to order the fabric from Plush Addicts as chosen by the customer. I had not worked with cotton laminates before but had read lots of reviews and tips which recommented needing a special foot for sewing machines which worried me.  I wondered whether I would need to order a special Foot for my Janome to sew cotton laminate. I looked at the most popular:

  • The Janome Ultraglide foot is made of a special resin so it glides across fabrics that would otherwise be “sticky.”
  • The Janome Roller foot  as we’re sure you can guess, has a roller on it that is textured to hold onto an otherwise slippery surface as it helps to guide the fabric under the needle.
  • The Janome Even Feed (or Walking) foot is the one which I already had. This foot has its own set of feed dogs so the fabric is being fed under the needle from the top (with the foot’s feed dogs) and the bottom (with the machine’s feed dogs) simultaneously.  But this did not ‘Hold’ the fabric for the pattern I was using.

In the end,  I just went with my gut feeling and worked by trial and error with my usual ‘suck it and see‘ philosophy!  I must admit my custom designed pattern for the GRACE baby change bag  did not work directly with the specialist fabric, even with trying to use the ‘walking’ foot.  Every option I tried, had to be rethought onto how I could achieve the desired results.  Even the standard top stitching was a challenge for me. In the end, I found that as long as I was stitching the laminate to either itself or another fabric it could be acheived without a major problem.  The main problems were, when the laminate was next to the sewing machine foot or  machine feed dogs.  That was when  sewing the fabric casued a major problem to me. Cottom laminate is a fabulous easy cae wipe clean option,  as long as it is used in a simple pattern. I had to scale down some features of the GRACE bag for this fabric. However, as i tried to stitch direct to the shiny sticky qualiaites of the fabric, I realised it didnt need a new expensive foot on the sewing machine, but a way of reducing the friction between the fabric and the foot or feed dogs. Toilet paper! yes you read that right, I nipped to the loo and had an epiphany.  If I used a single ply layer of loo roll (or other such transparent tear away tissue) between the shiny laminate fabric and the sewing machine foot or feed dog it should reduce the friction. So on making the bag sewn with lovely owl laminate fabric, bear in mind that without creative use of toilet paper (or an expensive additional specialist machine  foot) it was not possible to create!

This specific bag was designed for Kelly and is matched with her choice of owl laminate fabric for a wipe clean baby change bag similar to the Cath Kidston bags.  It was designed to match the colours to her Phil and Ted turquoise buggy with additional specification attachments  on external handle to clip to her buggy. As long as custom modification requests are agreed up fron they can be worked into the design.

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