2019 #fussycuttingsewalong group quilt

So, here it is! The idea for the 2019 #fussycuttingsewalong group quilt. The colour theme for the group quilt this year is pink embroidery (the brighter the better) and green fussy cutting on the diamonds – khaki, jungle, lime, dark, light, sage, olive, emerald, pear, shamrock, mint…this is the perfect chance to fussy cut the greens in your stash! This block combines fussy cutting, embroidery, hexagons (as a nod to the shape that started the #fussycuttingsewalong) and diamonds (the shape we are currently using on the #fussycuttingsewalong). There is absolutely NO pressure to take part in the group quilt – it is completely optional and it won’t impact your participation in the sewalong in any way. You can make more than 1 block if you have multiple words/ideas.

The block for the 2019 group quilt is made up of 1.5″ 60 degree diamonds and 1.5″ hexagons.

If you don’t have these size templates you can buy them from places like Lina Patchwork and Paper Pieces.

If you have a printer at home, it is super easy to make your own. So, here is a step-by-step guide for the 2019 #fussycuttingsewalong group quilt block! If you already have the correct size templates then just skip ahead to step 8.

What you’ll need:

– 1.5″ hexagons and 1.5″ 60 degree diamonds (or a printer/106gsm card if making your own)

– a pencil

– a ruler

– low volume fabric (this is a cream/white blender fabric which won’t detract from your fussy cutting)

– a green fabric for fussy cutting

– standard sewing tools (scissors, thread, needles)

– pink embroidery thread


1. Get a sheet of 160gsm card and print off 1 sheet of the 1.5″ hexagons that are available as a free download from Love Patchwork and Quilting. Make sure you set your printer to print at full size.

2. Once you’ve printed the sheet of 1.5″ hexagons, use your tape measure/ruler to make sure each edge of the hexagon measures 1.5″.

If the edges don’t measure 1.5″ you’ll need to adjust your printer settings to make sure it prints at the correct size. Unfortunately, if it arrives with me and it is the wrong size it won’t fit the group quilt so this is definitely not a step to skip!

3. Set aside 2 x 1.5″ hexagons (these will be used later) and take 4 x 1.5″ hexagons. With the flat edge of the hexagon at the top, use a ruler and place it diagonally so that it is going from the top left corner to the bottom right corner.

4. Use a pencil and mark this diagonal line.

5. Repeat this so that you draw the line from the top right corner to the bottom left corner.

6. This will split your hexagon into 2 diamonds (with sides measuring 1.5″) and 2 triangles. You can draw a line through the 2 triangles to disregard them and then cut along those diagonal lines.

7. Repeat this a further 2 times so that you have a total of 6 diamonds.

8. Now the fussy cutting starts! Stripes, central motifs, pattern matching, sections, different motifs in each diamond, scrappy fussy cutting….the choice is yours! So long as it is mostly green and it has been fussy cut, it is completely up to you how to fussy cut your 6 diamonds! You can do a different motifI chose to fussy cut these Art Gallery Fabrics flowers which are from the Indie Bohème collection by Pat Bravo. I lined the stem of the flower up with the point of each diamond.

9. Now, you’re going to join these diamonds in trios. Take 3 diamonds and join them together using the photo as a guide for placement. You are joining them so that the 3 narrow points sit together. I like to use a tight whip stitch and start/stop my stitching by doubling back on myself before making a knot so that the knot isn’t at the weak part of the joining (I have a YouTube video showing how I cut, baste, and sew 6-point diamonds).

10. Repeat this so that you have two lots of diamond trios and then place these to one side.

11. Now, for the embroidery! I would love it if you could embroider a word which summarises how you feel about the 2019 #fussycuttingsewalong. This could be what the 2019 #fussycuttingsewalong means/has meant to you, how it makes you feel, what it represents for you, what you’ve got out of it, or a general summary for your views on your #fussycuttingsewalong experience! Even if it is a word that you’ve seen someone else use on their block, you can absolutely still use that word because it is personal to you and your stitching/fussy cutting combination. If anything, if there are multiple blocks with the same word on then it just strengthens the meaning of that word.

12. Using a pencil, write this word onto your hexagon. Make sure the hexagon has the point facing upwards – this bit is key otherwise it’ll be difficult to join with your diamonds.

Just a general tip, if you write it too big it may not fit on the hexie but equally so if you write it too small it could be hard to embroider. It is a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears…we need to get it just right!

13. Place this hexagon underneath your low-volume fabric and use your pencil to mark that word onto the fabric directly (this pencil line won’t be seen as you’re going to embroider on top, it is much better for marking low-volume fabrics than frixion pens and blue fabric pens which have a nasty habit of returning!)

I’ve used a fabric from the Art Gallery Fabrics Nature Elements for my low volume fabric.

Also, don’t be like me in that I really should have ironed the fabric first as it will be much easier to mark your word on ironed fabric!

14. Place this fabric into an embroidery hoop (if you’d rather not then that is okay too, find what works for you).

15. Using a PINK embroidery thread (the bolder the pink, the better!) to embroider your word onto your low-volume fabric. I’ve used backstitch but you can use any embroidery stitch that you’d like. You can totally add additional decorative embroidery too! If you’re unsure about how to backstitch, there is a really great photo tutorial on backstitch here as well as lots of other embroidery stitches on that website.

16. Once you’ve finished embroidering your word, you can take the fabric out of the hoop (if you used one) and use the hexagon template to place on top of your embroidery (point upwards) and cut around with 3/8″ seam allowance.

17. Then, baste this hexie using your preferred basting method.

18. For your second hexagon you are going to repeat this embroidery except this time, embroider the country you live in (I wanted to visually show how international we are as a community). You don’t have to embroider the whole country so, for example, if you live in Canada you might choose to just embroider ‘Can’. You can be as specific (down to the city – just no postcodes or house numbers for confidentiality reasons) or as creative (embroidering a flag or motif that represents where you live) as you like.

20. Now comes the joining part (and use the visuals as a guide to help with placement etc).

Take a diamond trio and, with the long flat edge of your trio to the left, join your embroidered word (with the hexagon point facing up) to your diamond trio by sewing the left/bottom left of your hexie to the top right of your diamond trio.

Take your 2nd diamond trio and, with the long flat edge of your trio to the right, join your embroidered country hexie (with the point facing up) by sewing the right/top right of your hexie to bottom left of your diamond trio.

21. The final step! You’re now going to join your two halves together. Using the photo as a visual, join your 2 halves together with your embroidered word at the top of your block, the embroidered country at the bottom of your block and the long edges of your diamond trio on either side of the block. Again, please make sure your threads/knots are secure so that they can withstand being posted/handled!

22. If you’re happy for it to be in the 2019 #fussycuttingsewalong group quilt then drop me a direct message on Instagram for my postal address and you’re all done! Ideally, please could they arrive before the end of January 2020 at the very latest. I will let you know when your block arrives and share update photos of the quilt coming together. If you’re sending it to me from abroad then please could you mark the block as a ‘gift’ on customs with a value of less than £10 otherwise I get stung by customs. Please do know that I value your time and effort and that I know your time and effort is worth a lot more than £10.

So excited to see how this quilt progresses!

Book review: ‘Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe’ by Jenny Colgan = 5*

I am not going to pretend that I am not biased because, as a massive Jenny Colgan fan (the sort who still squeals when she sees there is a new Jenny book coming out!), I am blatantly biased. However, that also means I have high expectations because Jenny’s books are always so fantastic to read!

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe is no exception. It has all of the trademark Jenny Colgan-isms that I’ve come to associate with any of Jenny’s books including humour, warmth, food, comfort, love, heartache, trials, tribulations and triumphs. I got into the book incredibly quickly (which is a sign of a great book) and the ending didn’t feel rushed. It was a truly captivating, engaging and enjoyable read from start to finish which I’ve already gone and bought as a present for those I know will enjoy it! 5*!

Product review: Clover 45mm Rotary Cutter

Rotary cutters…for most of us who sew (especially patchwork and quilting), this is one of the first tools we buy and there are lots of sorts, sizes and prices out there on the market so what makes a rotary cutter a good rotary cutter?

Well, you want something that is not too lightweight that you lose your grip when using it but equally so you want something that isn’t too heavy that it is cumbersome and tiring to use. You want something that is comfortable to hold through the repetitive action of measuring twice/cutting once. You want something which is durable and isn’t going to break or blunt after a handful of uses. You also want something that looks good! The Clover 45mm rotary cutter has all of these features and more!

It is a really good size (sturdy but not too solid) which sits perfectly in the hand thanks to the soft-cushion handle and the lever can lock into place to either keep the blade exposed or keep the blade covered (it is really nice to not have to continuously hold a button in to expose the blade).

If you’ve ever used Clover products before you’ll know their products are high quality, durable, reliable and incredibly well thought out. What I really like about this rotary cutter is the fact it comes with instructions (I never ever thought I’d be excited about rotary cutter instructions but here I am!)

Why do the instructions matter? Because this rotary cutter has several features which are incredibly clever but which I wouldn’t have known unless I was told (hence the instructions!)

Firstly, this rotary cutter is suitable for both right handed use and left handed use!

You don’t need to buy special left-handed rotary cutters because this one has you covered! You simply unscrew the cover, reverse it and re-screw the cover and it becomes a left-handed use rotary cutter! So simple yet also so clever.

I also really like that safety has been considered in relation to changing the blades. There is a protective holder on your rotary cutter (and with the rotary blade refills) so that you don’t have to hold the blade directly when changing over. Again, this is something that is simple yet incredibly clever for considering practicality and safety in the same process.

Changing rotary cutter blades is something we often don’t do frequently enough and it makes a massive difference to have a sharp blade when cutting fabric. The rotary cutter blade refills come in packs of 1 or 5 and I definitely recommend getting the 5 pack as it’ll make it much easier to refresh your blades regularly!

So, what makes a rotary cutter a good rotary cutter? The proof is in this post – the Clover rotary cutter is the definition of a good rotary cutter! Strong, reliable, durable, clever, comfortable, easy-to-use and it looks beautiful with your fabric! What more could you want?

For stockists information or if you are a retailer and want to stock these items then please contact clover@stockistenquiries.co.uk

Book review: “Happiness for Beginners” by Carole Matthews = 4*

I absolutely ADORED the main storyline of this book. It is set on a farm which offers support and activities for children and young people who struggle within mainstream education. I’ve worked with children and young people who struggle within mainstream education so I know first hand just how good alternative provisions can be and also the struggles that they can face (especially around funding). This book captures it perfectly and it is so refreshing to read a chick-lit novel which also tackles such an important topic which is not typically spoken about within fiction writing. I really, really enjoyed this book. It has the perfect combination of romance, heartache, humour and real-life topics. The only thing I didn’t like (and this is completely my personal preference as I know other readers may like this) were the times when it felt like the main character was talking to me directly as the reader – I much prefer being an external observer to their world rather than being spoken to directly! Nonetheless, it is another fabulous Carole Matthews book!

Product review: Vlieseline Creative Sample Pack

I have been doing lots of machine sewing this week which means I have had the perfect opportunity to start using the Vlieseline Creative Sample Pack from Lady Sew and Sew.

It can be ridiculously frustrating to start a new project and think you’re all sorted with your fabric and thread before then realising you don’t have everything after all because you need a specific sort of interfacing. Well this sample pack is the answer because no matter what your project, there is sure to be an interfacing for you within this pack!

There are 10 sorts of Vlieseline products in this pack (with 20cm of each). Not only is each Vlieseline sample clearly labelled so that you know what you’re using, but there is also plenty of information about how to use the sample and what products it is best suited for.

I love how accessible the sample pack is…you don’t have to sort through them trying to match the sample product to the correct name/information – all of the hard work is done for you!

There are also a range of booklets showing even more products made by Vlieseline!

I have been making the Sew Over It Doris Dress this week which requires a lightweight interfacing so I have used the soft fusible interlining from the Vlieseline Sample Pack.

This is used around the neckline and where the buttons are.

It worked beautifully! It ironed onto the fabric well, it was super soft to sew, and it provided enough strength for the multitude of buttons that I have used!

This is a great sample pack and I can’t wait to start playing with the other samples!

To buy your Vlieseline Creative Sample Pack, head on over to Lady Sew and Sew.

Sew Easy Pressing Ham

I am a little bit addicted to the Sew Easy pressing ham (which is very high praise coming from someone who actively avoids ironing clothes!)

The Tailors Pressing Ham (also known as a pressing ham or a dressmaker’s ham) is tightly stuffed with sawdust and is perfect for ironing curved areas of clothes such as darts, necklines, waistlines and shaping collars.

I’ve been using it for my latest make – a Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress using Art Gallery Fabrics. I wanted to add some understitching to the neckline and you can see just how difficult it is to iron that curve on a flat ironing board…

It is possible, by all means, but why make life a fiddle when there are tools and gadgets to help make life easier?! The curves on the Sew Easy pressing ham mimicks the body’s contours making it so much easier to iron curved areas of clothing.

You can see how much easier it is to iron that same area by placing it on the pressing ham’s curves rather than placing it flat on the ironing board.

There’s also a Sew Easy Sleeve Pressing Roll.

Using the same principle as the Tailors Pressing Ham, the Sleeve Pressing Roll is perfect for pressing longer seams, hard to reach seams and sleeves!

It makes pressing/ironing/dressmaking so much easier and, dare I say it, I actually enjoy ironing more when I use it…! I can’t wait to show you the finished dress (with the perfectly ironed curves!)

The Sew Easy Tailors Pressing Ham is available to buy from Minerva Crafts here.

The Sew Easy Sleeve Pressing Roll is available to buy from Minerva Crafts here.

For stockists information or if you are a retailer and want to stock these items then please contact groves@stockistenquiries.co.uk

Book review: ‘I Heart Hawaii’ by Lindsey Kelk = 5*

Having read the entire ‘I Heart’ series, I was so excited to read the latest addition! As soon as I started reading the book it felt like no time had passed and I was once again reunited with old friends. With humour and warmth, we follow Angela and Jenny on their latest adventure (and all that ensues)…to Hawaii! This book has all of the Lindsey Kelk trademarks: wit, authenticity, vivid descriptions, down-to-earth characters, and belly-laugh moments! I also love the subtle nods to Lindsey’s other books as an extra something for those who are loyal fans! Whether you’ve read all of the ‘I Heart’ series or whether this is your first ‘I Heart’ book, it is sure to capture your hearts as you fall in love with Angela, Jenny and the whole entourage!

English Paper Piecing with Sew Easy templates

So I know it is only June but I wholeheartedly believe it is never too early to start Christmas sewing!

When I saw the new Sew Easy Template Sets I knew they would be perfect for using in conjunction with the new Makower Merry Christmas collection!

The Sew Easy Template Sets come in a range of popular shapes (squares, hexagons, triangle, right-angle triangles, diamonds and pentagons) with each shape set containing 8 templates of varying sizes. The templates have been laser cut for precision, they contain marking points, they come already on a keyring (so you don’t lose any!) and an additional 1/4″ seam allowance is added to each shape.

Having a range of sizes within one set is really useful as it means you can easily adapt to use the shape most suited to the fabric you’re using! I wanted to fussy cut these reindeers from the Merry Christmas collection because they’re just so cute!

I could then place different squares on top until I found the shape that fit! These reindeers fit perfectly within the 2.5″ square.

Then, using my rotary cutter, I can use the template to cut around as it is made for strong, durable acrylic.

If you’re a machine patchworker then cut out a handful of these fussy-cut reindeers, attach the 1/4″ foot to your machine and you are good to go! I was on a roll but Misha always seems to want to get involved (and it scares the life out of me when I am holding a rotary cutter!) I am definitely taking this as another cat-approval though!

If, like me, you love a bit of handsewing and English Paper Piecing (EPP) then the sew easy templates are great for fussy cutting the fabric and for making your paper templates! So, if you wanted to EPP with the template set I would actually recommend using them slightly differently. A 1/4″ seam is perfect for machine patchwork but it is a bit fiddly for EPP. So I knew the reindeer fit within my 2.5″ square but I wanted a bigger seam allowance than the 1/4″ included on the template. Instead, I cut the fabric out using the 3″ square.

This just gives you a bit of extra wiggle room with your seam allowance when English Paper Piecing. Then, to make the paper template, I went back to my 2.5″ template (as that is the finished size for my reindeer) and placed it on top of a piece of white card.

Using my pencil, I could then draw a joining line inside the marking points so that I would know what size to cut the paper template.

Using my rotary cutter, I then used the edge of the template as a cutting guide to cut out a paper template measuring 2.5″ square.

By using those marking points inside the 2.5″ template I have disregarded the seam allowance and made a paper template that is precisely the size I want it to be for fussy cutting.

Then, I placed the 2.5″ acrylic template onto the wrong side of the reindeer square to make sure I had the placement correct.

Once I have checked the placement is right, I always let one edge of the fabric hang loose. Leaving this gap between the fabric and the sew easy acrylic template means it is easy to slip your paper template inbetween the 2 layers.

Using my nail, I then hold the paper template in place and remove the sew easy acrylic template. Then, I attach binding clips to hold the paper piece in the right place before folding the edges over and thread basting.

I definitely prefer using binding clips to pins for English Paper Piecing because it gives a stronger hold at various points which you definitely need when fussy cutting!

I love how versatile the sew easy templates are because they can be used for cutting, marking, fussy cutting, machine patchwork and English Paper Piecing!

I have made 4 EPP squares using the Sew Easy templates so far and I might make these blocks into a Christmas coaster! With a bit of Christmas green for the binding it will look adorable!

For stockists information or if you are a retailer and want to stock these items then please contact groves@stockistenquiries.co.uk

Book review: ‘You Then, Me Now’ by Nick Alexander = 5*

Wow. Just wow. This book has taken me through every possible emotion and so much more: fear, hurt, heartbreak, loss, anger, frustration, love, warmth, humour, hope, encouragement and enjoyment. I simply couldn’t put it down because I was enthralled from start to finish! There are enough twists and turns that you can never be fully sure about the direction the story will go in next but not so many that you are on the edge if your seat and unable to enjoy the book. There is a perfectly crafted mixture of easy-read chapters and thrillingly surprising chapters. The descriptions are spellbinding and make me long to travel to Santorini! I would highly, highly recommend this book as it truly is a captivating read – 5*!

Available on Amazon as a paperback and/or on your kindle.

Product review – Trimits dressmaking pattern weights = 5*

I am really starting to get into dressmaking now and I recently got some new Trimits pattern weights.

Trying to get the pin through both the paper pattern and the fabric (or 2 layers of fabric if cutting on the fold) can be costly in time (it is a very time consuming, slow process), precision (it is so easy to move the fabric by accident when trying to get the pin through all the layers which means the fabric may no longer be lying flat or in the right place which is especially important if you are cutting directional prints) and durability (lots of pin holes in a paper pattern will no doubt weaken it over time thus its reusability is lessened).

These Trimits pineapple pattern weights are perfect because they remove the need to pin the pattern by simply laying the weights on top of the edges of your pattern pieces at varying intervals. They are deceptively heavy which means that they will hold the paper edges flat against the fabric so that there is no distortion and then you can start cutting straight away! Yay!

You can get lots of different pattern weight shapes but I particularly like the Trimits pineapple shape (more than the flat pattern weights) because you can easily move them about by grabbing the pineapple’s green crown – nothing fiddly about it!

Misha also gave it the big seal of approval as she could bop it about and the weighted bottom meant it wasn’t moving anywhere!

The Trimits pineapple weights come in packs of 2 so I will definitely be getting more because I have really enjoyed using them! For now, I am using Misha as an additional pattern weight…

You can buy these pattern weights directly from Minerva Crafts or contact groves@stockistenquiries.co.uk to find your nearest stockists!