Double Folded Binding – A How To

By Michelle on 26th November, 2014 | No Comments

I’ve made a couple of quilts as Christmas presents over the last couple of years and am working on one right now! I thought it might be nice to share my process for binding (edging) the quilt as I know I did a fair bit of head scratching when attempting my first.

This is a tutorial for ‘double folded binding.’ I find this the most professional and durable finish for my quilts and is a method I have learnt by trial and error! You are aiming for one long continuous piece of binding that is large enough to go around the whole edge of the quilt. To find out how long it needs to be simply measure all 4 edges of the quilt and add another 0.5m’s. Firstly, you need to decide whether you are using all one fabric, or a mixture. I like the eclectic look of a mix, but lay pieces around the edge to get an idea what it might look like.  You also might want to mix up the lengths of your pieces too. If you are using all one fabric, make life easy for yourself and just cut along the width of your fabric and then you’ll only need to seam a couple of times to get your desired length.

Step 1:

Cut your fabrics 9cm wide and to your chosen lengths.

Step 2:

Seam all of your pieces together using a 1cm seam allowance. Press your seams to one side.

Step 3:

You should have one long strip. Now press the strip in half right sides facing out. Note that one end has to have the raw edge turned in.

double folded binding for a quilt

Step 4:

Put the raw edge of the binding against the raw edge of the quilt, I usually start around the middle of my longest edge. You must leave a ‘tail’ of about 10cm’s. Pin the binding all the way to the corner and then mark 1.5cm’s away from the corner either with a pin or some chalk.

double folded binding for quilting

Step 5:

Leaving your ‘tail’ alone, stitch with a 1.5cm seam allowance and stop at your marker. Remember to back stitch here and trim your threads ends. IMPORTANT! Depending on what wadding you are using you may want to decrease this seam allowance to just shy of 1.5 or even 1cm, you need to make sure when you turn the folded edge to the back of the quilt your stitch line is covered. Do a small line of stitching, turn and check before continuing!

Step 6:

You now want to pull your binding strip over the top of the piece you’ve just stitched down so it forms a perfect right angle and the diagonal goes right into the corner of the quilt.

Fold it back on itself. If you have done this correctly you will be left with a flapping triangle – then pin this down.

double folded binding for quilting

double folded binding for quilting

double folded binding for quilting

double folded binding for quilting

Step 7:

Starting from the very top, stitch a 1.5cm seam allowance all the way until you reach the other corner – you repeat all the above steps for each corner. Do pin your binding for each side, or just go straight into machine stitching, depending how confident you feel.

Step 8:

When you have finished the 4th corner you will meet back at the start, you need to lay the binding inside the piece with the turned in edge and keep on stitching until you meet the very first stitch you did.

Step 9:

Once completed simply pop out each corner – it will look like the below photo. The back of the binding needs to be hand stitched down. Turn the folded edge to the back of your quilt, either hold in place whilst sewing or use pins and be careful to get the corners as neat as the front! Use a thread colour that will blend, and I usually double up my thread for strength. I find this video is the easiest to follow for a blind stitching reminder!

double folded binding for quilting


The Last Class, For Now…

By Michelle on 21st October, 2014 | 7 Comments

My my it’s been a while since my last post – a lot can change in 6 months! I left London in June to start a new position at Merchant & Mills. Although I did consider commuting from London (what was I thinking?!) I eventually decided to move to Hastings – a seaside town not too far from the workshop in the quaint cobbled town of Rye. So it’s been an adjustment, but a happy one – more space, more house for your money, friendly people and ample amounts of seaside and countryside to keep the inner country bumpkin in me content!

I’ve now stopped teaching sewing, I loved it at the time, but I’m happy to concentrate on my new job and building a social life here! My last class in London was a goodie. The best thing about teaching has to be the people you meet, Rebecca was one of my favourites. For her fiftieth she wanted to get all her friends together from across the country for one weekend of fun in London. This included a quilting class ran by me! The brief was to make a quilt, in a day, that they could all be involved in – considering their varying abilities of sewing. There were nine friends in total, so instantly I thought it made sense for every person to make one ‘block’ and to space these out with borders. I also thought improv style of patchwork was a good choice, as it meant we didn’t have to get in a pickle with patchwork rulers and measuring.

This is the first time I have ever tried ‘quilt as you go’, I get the impression proper quilters shudder at the thought of this technique as it’s certainly not the traditional or most professional method, but it worked for the time scale of this class and for the amount of people. If you are interested in trying it this is a video that explains it well.  So as well as piecing their blocks they each quilted it before we stitched them all together. It’s a great technique for beginners as you can work small scale without trying to force a huge quilt through a machine.

For my sample quilt I decided to go monochrome. The fabrics are mainly cotton or linen, with the occasional piece of silk or wool. I do realise this isn’t the cleverest idea in terms of washing! I’ve done the whole wash every single fabric for other quilts, and it has its benefits but sometimes life’s too short to be washing oodles of small black and white scraps! As this was a sample quilt for a class I tried to be thrifty and use fabrics from my stash, mainly these came from Merchant & Mills, Ray Stitch, The Cloth House, and M is for Make. Special mention to the most beautiful Nani Iro double gauze print that is dotted in nearly every block. For the back of the quilt and binding I used a vintage black rayon grosgrain from M+M, I love grosgrain fabrics and I think the sheen gives the edging a nice contrast from the cottons and linens. I deliberated for a while about what colour to use for all the borders – I decided on white in the end as it was mid summer heat wave and I was feeling the airy white look, in hindsight a pale grey may have been better. This quilt is about 1.5m square and currently stored away for next summer!

It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked in a class, but so rewarding to see everyone super chuffed by what they had achieved in a day. I didn’t take any pictures of Rebecca’s quilt as it was super rushed towards the end, but I can assure you it was fabulous and totally the opposite of mine – full of colour! The best thing is Rebecca has something she can see every day that reminds her of the great friendships she has. All together now – ah!

All photos courtesy of  Katya de Grunwald. 

Monochrome Quilt Improv style, quilt as you go

 monochrome quilt, improv style patchwork, quilt as you go

monochrome quilt, improv style patchwork, quilt as you go

monochrome quilt, improv style patchwork, quilt as you go

monochrome quilt, improv style patchwork, quilt as you go

monochrome quilt, improv style patchwork, quilt as you go


Learn a new skill, help a charity…

By Michelle on 23rd April, 2014 | No Comments

Make a Quilt Class, Thrifty Stitcher, North East London

On June 7th I will be taking part in The Nightrider 100k cycle ride through London to raise money for Alzheimers UK, a cause very close to my heart. To help raise money for the charity I will be running a ‘Make a Quilt Class’ at The Thrifty Stitcher, a studio space in Stoke Newington. The dates are as follows:

Fri 23rd May, 6.30 – 9.30pm

Fri 30th May, 6.30 – 9.30pm

Fri 13th June, 6.30 – 9.30pm

*You need to be able to come to all 3 sessions to ensure you finish the quilt.

** Yes I know it’s Friday night, but I’ll make it fun!

This class is perfect if you’ve always wanted to make a quilt but don’t know where to start. Or, if your sewing skills have gone a little rusty and you want a refresher! There will be 2 quilt designs which you can choose from.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to use a rotary cutter and patchwork ruler to make and sew pieces accurately
    • How to work with print and colour in a quilt
      • How to layer your patchwork top, wadding and backing to make a ‘quilt sandwich’
        • Different methods and designs for machine quilting
          • How to sew a mitred corner on your binding (edge of quilt)
            • You will leave with a finished item!

        The cost for all 3 sessions is £85. Tools, wine and snacks are provided but not fabric. You will be sent fabric requirements and advice about what to pick after booking.

        There are 6 places. To book simply email me and I will send you a paypal invoice. 50% of the profits will go direct to Alzheimers UK.

        If you are interested but can’t make these dates do email me. I may run the course again if there is enough interest.

        Time to up the cycle training!


The Wish List – Mountain Greys

By Michelle on 30th March, 2014 | No Comments

Glacier Mountains

I’ve been using Pintrest far too much lately, do you ever feel like you’ll never look at your ‘pins’ again as it’s just so fast moving? I have a wish list board of items, perfect for directing people to for my upcoming birthday! I thought it might be nice to collate some of my latest pins…

1. Mina Perhonen, Fern Dress - How amazing is the pinky red and navy combination. I would buy this fabric if she sold it.

2. Dosa, Skirt/Apron – This fabric is an amazing Liberty print, I have it in my stash just waiting for the perfect dress pattern. I love all the tones, from charcoal to lilac greys. I always look at the Dosa website when I need an inspiration boost.

3. Dosa, Patchwork Top – I always thought patchwork clothes were a bit of a no no, but this is so pretty.

4. Etsy, Print by Oak Gallery - Like something out of Melancholia no?

5. Etsy, Print by Lucy Driscoll - I love her cut and paste style, I used to do similar illustrations to these in my uni days.

6. The New Craftsmen, Crystal Mirror by Eddy and Grice - Made from chalky white jesmonite, I’ve never seen a mirror quite like it, totally unique.

7. Digitally printed purse, Lee Coren, ‘Etsy‘ – Lee also makes beautifully printed silk scarves, all designed and printed in Israel.

8.Shopbop, Teardrop Earrings by Dean Davidson - Navy and gold speckle delights.

9. Dosa, Sheer Wool Scarves – Perfect with a grey smock dress and brogues.

10. Society 6, Shower Curtain by Efi Tolia - I’d definitely buy this if someone told me how to stop the bottom of shower curtains going really yellow….!


Karen Nicol – Embroidery Master

By Michelle on 25th November, 2013 | No Comments

I went to an exhibition today that took me right back to university days. I studied multi media textile design and spent 3 years combing all sorts of odd materials – and didn’t touch a sewing machine the whole time. Seems strange now looking back. I highly recommend going to see the Karen Nicol exhibition ‘Singerie‘ at the Rebecca Hossack gallery (finishes on the 30th November). Karen is a master embroiderer and has worked with all the top fashion designers as well as Anthropologie and Designers Guild.

These images don’t do her pieces justice, they were so intricate up close and full of different techniques and materials. I liked that she hadn’t used a laser cutter so all the cutting had a slight imperfection. I gave up the chance to intern with Karen as a student as I had nowhere to stay in London – something I really regret now!

Karen Nicol Singerie Exhibition

Karen Nicol Singerie Exhibition

Karen Nicol Singerie Exhibition

Karen Nicol Singerie Exhibition

Karen Nicol Singerie Exhibition


A Quilt for Evie

By Michelle on 18th November, 2013 | No Comments

I’ve just finished a quilt commission for a one year old birthday. It was a simple pattern to put together, 3 rows of bricks interspersed with one main piece of fabric -this amazing print by Cloud 9. We used fabric from Ray Stitch, and each print relates to the mum and dad and their marriage, there was a crossword fabric, music notes, a map of paris…ah the romance! I love how the prints and colours came together and that it is sophisticated enough to last her a lifetime.

This is the first time I’ve used all quilting cotton in a quilt, usually I like to break the rules and mix up lots of different textures! Well if you are thinking of starting your first quilt then quilting cotton is the way to go. It’s so well behaved. No slipping or stretching on this baby. Happy to get back to my own projects now, much less pressure! Here are some close ups…

quilt commission quilting cotton

quilt commission for baby

quilt commission for baby

quilt commission for baby


Sewing for babies, danish style

By Michelle on 22nd October, 2013 | 1 Comment

May I start by saying that sewing for little ones is a dream fabric wise! You only need the length of the person, so half a metre or so which after going through my stash I had loads of options. I used two of the Minikrea patterns we sell at work, they are classic Danish in style – simple and modern. However, they only have very brief English instructions and sometimes certain words do get lost in translation but with such simple designs I don’t think you can really go wrong.

The pattern sheets are printed on sturdy glossy paper and they have the ‘simple’ pattern on one side and then on the reverse modifications on the simple pattern, longer sleeves, ruched waist, that kind of thing. I decided to go straight for the simple design as I was making these up as a tester for a private lesson I was doing that week. The top is the ‘Tunika’ pattern and the dress is the ‘Spencer’ pattern. For Tunika I used a quirky Heather Ross print by Kokka which has the most adorable illustrated gnomes sitting around the campfire. The Spencer was made from organic cotton remnants I bought from work, I think the fabrics together have a land girl kind of vibe which I think is nice for little ones. Like if Toast did baby wear!

Minikrea pattern - Spencer Organic cotton

Minikrea pattern - Spencer - Organic cotton

Minikrea pattern - Spencer - Organic cotton

Minikrea pattern - Spencer - Organic cotton

Minikrea pattern - Tunika - Heather Ross

Minikrea pattern - Tunika - Heather Ross

Minikrea pattern - Tunika - Heather Ross

Minikrea pattern - Tunika - Heather Ross

Construction wise there’s not too much to say as it’s fairly straight forward sewing. For the dress I actually didn’t make buttonholes but just put some poppers underneath which I reckon if you are changing babies all the time is pretty handy! I also made the lining slightly shorter than the outer to avoid it peeping out and did double hems on both as I felt it was a neater finish than the way they suggested. Note that you do have to add seam allowances which is slightly annoying, so it’s good the pattern pieces are tiny. The big question now is what to do with them?! I only have one friend with a baby and I’ve already given them a few handmade pieces, so I feel like I might keep them for myself for ‘a later date’ – is that really bad luck??

On the adult sewing front I’ve just got back from a fabric splurge in Soho and Liberty, and I have three of the Merchant and Mills patterns on the go!


First make of autumn, ‘kelly’

By Michelle on 19th September, 2013 | 3 Comments

Autumn has always been my favourite time of year, mainly because I’m a bit of a home bod and I like staying at home and eating crumble and watching movies with out guilt. It’s harder to do that when it’s a beautiful day outside! The other best thing about autumn is the clothes, thick tights, cosy scarves, woollen jackets, basically all the layering – summer is far too ‘bear all’ for my liking. I’ve got so much on my to do list for the upcoming months, here’s my top 5 to do’s. Does everyone else have a backlog in their head?!

1. Top 64 by Merchant and Mills, using a navy wool from work I’ve had since last winter and gingham pockets.

2. By Hand London Victoria no 2, using a blue herringbone linen from Goldhawk Rd.

3. Colette Laurel dress, I’ve got so many fabrics that this could work for but I think it’s finally time to use up my Skinny La Minx purchase.

4.  The new Christine Haynes Emery dress in a classic chambray.

5. Several versions of the trouser pattern I made up in a class at work. I’ve got a perfect linen spot, just like this.

So anyway to some pics of the first make of autumn. I wanted an every day skirt that would look good with tights and looked a bit preppy so I chose the Kelly skirt by  Megan Nielson. It’s a beginner rating so knew it would sew up easy, which it certainly did. Unfortunately she is now out of stock of the paper pattern but you can download the pdf version here. Whilst cutting out this one I got carried away and actually cut out two more versions, does anybody else do that?! I used a Ellen Luckett Baker fabric from the stamped collection, which is a medium weight linen cotton, what the pattern called for. I actually thought it might be a bit light for this skirt but after making it up I wouldn’t want to use anything heavier. I loved the print as soon as it landed in the shop and instantly thought of the white shell triangle buttons I had sitting at home, twas all meant to be!

Megan Nielson Kelly Skirt - Makers Market

I made up the size medium but had to add a bit to the waistband and the front piece, which was an easy adjustment as everything is basically rectangles. The only thing I would change is to slightly curve the waistband next time as you can get a sizeable hand down the small of my back! I’ve not read of anyone else having that problem though?? This is why it’s a good idea not to start cutting out duplicates before you know how it fits! Ah well, just going to re do the waistband on those two. In case you’re interested I’m making one out of the grey scallop fabric from the same designer with fuchsia pockets, and the other using this gorgeous mountain print from Liberty.

Megan Nielson Kelly Skirt - Makers Market

Megan Nielson Kelly Skirt - Makers Market

Megan Nielson Kelly Skirt - Makers Market

So looking at this now I’m not quite sure why there are two cut out versions of this in my draw when I know they take an evening to make up…better get those done before I delve into that top 5!


The Dusky Victoria

By Michelle on 4th September, 2013 | 7 Comments

Victoria By Hand London blazer

Ah, so satisfying to have made my own jacket! This is the third offering from the uber talented By Hand London girls, the Victoria blazer. My original Victoria ’vision’ was a navy oilskin outer with a tartan lining, but after reading some other reviews I was sceptical about easing in the sleeves with something as stiff as oilskin. This dusky number was originally intended for the Elisalex dress as it was nice and weighty. However, as soon as I bought this fabric I fell instantly out of love with it. I picked it up from Dalston Mill on one rainy morning and if you’ve ever been taking upstairs to that scary ‘ceilings gonna cave in on you’ area you know the shop assistant hangs around behind you putting on pressure! So I kinda grabbed it not thinking it through fully. After sitting on it for a few months I decided since I had 3m’s it would be a good test run for the Victoria jacket. The thought of sewing a jacket was kinda scary so wanted to use something I didn’t mind ruining.

Victoria Blazer By Hand London pattern

I really enjoyed the process of sewing this jacket as many of the steps were new to me and I was thankful I had the amazing sew along to back up everything I was reading. For lots of stages I didn’t know why I had to do something, I just stopped questioning it and it always worked out okay! I used a beautifully soft cotton poplin from the Cloth House for the lining which was a dream to sew with. The Cloth House has a reputation of being over priced but their linings are 150cm wide, £8p/m and come in such subtle shades which you don’t find in many other places. Definitely going back for more linings in the future.

Victoria Blazer By Hand London pattern

Victoria Blazer By Hand London pattern

I sewed up a size 12 which matched my measurements, but would make a 10 next time as it’s quite roomy. I still feel a bit ‘meh’ about the fabric so I’m going to sew a denim chambray one next which I know will go with much more of my wardrobe. My favourite part? The little linen hanging tab I included – it felt most pleasing to lay out all my endless bits of trims to select!

Victoria Blazer By Hand London pattern

The last pic is of the jersey dress underneath the jacket. I copied one of my favourite T-Shirt dresses using a midnight blue bamboo jersey from work. I actually made 3 of these up in different types of jersey as an experiment. This jersey is very drapey so in hindsight it doesn’t work as well as the others which are interlock jerseys. In kind of seems obvious now that drapey fabric works well with a drapey pattern, but jersey is all new to me! I’m constantly lurking ebay for good offers on overlockers – fingers crossed!

bamboo jersey T shirt dress


Uguisu Store

By Michelle on 13th August, 2013 | No Comments

This online store rivals the greatness of Present and Correct. Although you do have to pay shipping from Japan :-( It’s worth it – look how cute it all is!! I especially like their Furoshiki cloths (you traditionally wrap presents in them) these would make great inexpensive prints for your walls.

Midori furoshiki japanese cloth by Uguisu

Leah Duncan Furoshiki Japanese cloth

Tiny onion skin paper pads by uguisu

envelopes and pockets

rosette stickers from Uguisu

Paper Drops Nijumaru (Ring) Stickers from Uguisu