Monday, 21 May 2018

Making a Christmas Quilt: Part One

After finishing my patchwork mini squares blanket last month (which was a work-in-progress for six and a half years), I decided to tackle another of my slightly neglected WIPs: the Christmas quilt I'm making for my sister.

My youngest sister loves Christmas so when I spotted a gorgeous collection of Christmas quilting cottons at the Festival of Quilts in 2014, I decided I absolutely had to buy a bunch of the prints and make her something festive. Full of quilt-related enthusiasm after my two days at the Festival, I decided to make her a cosy quilt to curl up under during the holiday season. I decided to hand sew the whole thing, because I love hand-sewing... and also because I haven't used a sewing machine since 1998!

It was going to be a big task, but one I was excited about! I ordered my favourite prints from the collection in August 2014...

... then in the autumn I washed the fabric, ironed it and cut it into squares.

(I still have these scrappy off-cuts in a bag somewhere - they were just too lovely to throw away! I must try to think of a tutorial to make use of them sometime...)

Once I'd cut out the squares I laid them all out on the floor to try out possible layouts for the quilt. It took a while to get a good balance of the prints but I got there in the end.


I spent a lot of hours that winter watching made-for-TV Christmas movies and sewing these squares together. I love made-for-TV Christmas movies, and it turns out that they're the perfect easy background viewing to accompany hand-sewing a quilt. I like to think my choice of viewing also helped infuse the quilt with festive vibes! This sounds a bit ridiculous, I know, but if you can stitch love into something - which I think us makers know we absolutely can - then I'm sure it's possible to stitch in some Christmas spirit along with it.

Because I am an idiot I initially thought I'd be able to put in lots of evenings working on the quilt and have it ready for Christmas 2014. Hahahahahahahaha. This was... not a realistic goal.

When it gradually dawned on me that I wasn't magically going to be able to hand stitch an entire quilt in just a few weeks, I pushed my deadline back to Christmas 2015 then immediately neglected the project in favour of other things (you know how it goes with works-in-progress: always so many distracting projects to work on!).

I picked it back up the following summer, getting all the squares stitched together in rows and making a start on joining the rows together.

By October 2015 I had just two more rows to add - the end was in sight! (Well, the end of this stage of the process was, anyway).

For the first year of working on this project I'd managed to keep it secret from my sister. I'd been tempted to blog about the process as I went along, but decided it was better to keep it Top Secret so I could surprise her at Christmas with a massive parcel full of quilt-y goodness.

Unfortunately, I forgot to properly hide the in-progress quilt one day when she came to visit and of course she spotted it and asked what it was and I immediately blurted out that it was a Christmas quilt I was making for her. Oops! (I would clearly make a terrible spy). It's a shame the surprise got spoiled but it has been nice being able to mention the quilt on my blog and social media as I've worked on it, so there's the silver lining to that cloud.

In late November I stitched the last few squares together...

... then photographed the finished quilt top with help from my dear departed furry assistant.

It was looking lovely, but there was still a long way to go...

I'll be blogging about the hand-quilting in Part Two next week - stay tuned!

Friday, 18 May 2018

5 Ways to Customise a Denim Jacket

Today I'm sharing five fun and easy ways to customise a denim jacket so you can get crafty and turn that plain jacket in your wardrobe into something really special.

DIY Denim Jacket Tutorial
DIY Denim Jacket Tutorial

I love the 90s vibe of the current denim jacket trend - I was a 90s teen and denim jackets totally make me want to start listening to mixtapes, spend hours chatting on the phone to my friends, and maybe write a zine or two!

Whether or not you're a nostalgic 30-something like me, if you've got a plain and boring denim jacket you want to customise then you've come to the right blog post. I'll be showing you how to personalise your jacket with custom lettering, sequins, patches, embroidery and badges, creating a fun and colourful look.

This post is sponsored by StickerYou, where you can create custom die-cut stickers, labels, badges, temporary tattoos... and custom printed patches!

Custom patches are great for small businesses, clubs, and for creating things like wedding favours, but there are no minimum order requirements at StickerYou so you can also use the site to create totally unique patches to match your personal style. You can upload your own artwork or even photos to their online editor, or use StickerYou's selection of fonts and artwork to create your designs.

Denim jacket decorated with badges, sequins and patches

1. Lettering.

Use felt or fabric to add a nickname or other word of your choice to the back of your jacket - I decided to add the word "CRAFTER" to my jacket in bright rainbow felt letters. If you also want to join the crafter club you can use the templates provided at the bottom of this post to cut out your letters. To write a different word, either draw your own large letters on a piece of paper to create your templates or print the word of your choice in a very large font size.

Decorating a denim jacket with lettering

If you're using fabric for your letters, back them with some iron-on interfacing to make them sturdier (and easier to handle when you sew them to the denim) and help prevent the edges from fraying.

Pin the letters along the top of the back of the jacket, using a tape measure or large ruler to help you position the middle letter in the centre of the jacket and to evenly space the other letters.

Decorating a denim jacket with lettering

Sew the letters in position with whip stitch and matching sewing thread(s).

Customising a denim jacket with lettering

2. Sequins.

You can't beat a bit of sparkle! I decided to add a few lines of sequins to my jacket, using five bright colours to create a rainbow design. You could also use sequins to make sparkly shapes on your jacket, or to further embellish the lettering.

Customising a denim jacket with sequins

If you're just using sequins in one colour, use sewing thread to match the sequins. If you're using multiple colours like I did, use blue thread to match the denim.

Add sparkle to a denim jacket with rainbow sequins

I used two stitches per sequin, so the stitches formed a roughly straight line, following the lines of the jacket. If you're sewing decorative shapes with your sequins, use an erasable fabric marker to draw the shapes on the denim then use the lines as a guide when adding your sequins.

I stitched two long lines of sequins down the back of the jacket...

Customise a denim jacket with sequins

... one line along the front...

Adding rainbow sequins to a denim jacket

... and a mini sequin rainbow on each of the cuffs.

Rainbow sequins on the cuff of a denim jacket

3. Patches.

Here are the custom patches I ordered from StickerYou (I love the idea of being in an actual Cat Lady Club, don't you?). 

Custom printed patches from StickerYou

I found StickerYou's patch editor really easy to use, and was able to put together my three patch designs from their selection of images without any hiccups or computer rage (hurrah!). StickerYou are based in Toronto, Canada, so it took a little while for the patches to reach me via the international post but they were shipped very promptly and arrived in good condition.

When you've got your own patches ready to add to your jacket, decide on the placement of the patches and sew them in position one by one. I stitched two of my patches on the front and the third on the shoulder of my jacket. Use whip stitch and matching sewing thread and take care to only sew through one layer of the denim!

Customising a denim jacket with printed patches
Decorating a denim jacket with custom printed patches

If you sew a patch to a pocket like I did, make sure you start your stitching at the top of the patch (and thus the top of the pocket) so that when you've sewn around the patch you won't have to reach too far inside the pocket to finish your stitching.

Adding custom printed patches to a denim jacket

4. Embroidery.

There are so many possibilities when it comes to embroidering a denim jacket! You could go big and bold, or just add subtle interest with a few stitched details. I decided to roll with my 90s nostalgia and decorate the back of my jacket with a retro geometric pattern - choosing embroidery thread to match my rainbow theme.

Rainbow embroidery threads to decorate a denim jacket

You can use the geometric patterns provided at the bottom of this post to decorate your jacket, sketch your own designs, or find some patterns you love in craft books or online.

Trace each pattern onto a piece of tissue paper with a fine pen. Use large tacking stitches to secure the tissue paper to the denim, then sew along the lines with your chosen embroidery thread. I used three of the six strands in my thread and stitched my geometric patterns with backstitch (for a bolder line, try chain stitch).

Adding embroidery to a denim jacket

Once your stitching is finished, remove the tacking stitches then carefully tear away the tissue paper. I gradually filled the space in the central panel of the jacket with geometric shapes, creating a colourful abstract design. 

 Denim jacket decorated with 90s geometric embroidery
Customising a denim jacket with lettering, sequins and embroidery

5. Badges & Pins.

Last and by no means least, it's time to add some badges and pins! Denim jackets are perfect for showing off your collection of enamel pins, kitsch badges from your childhood, and any other fun pins you've picked up over the years.

Badges and pins to decorate a denim jacket
Denim jacket customised with pins, sequins and custom patches

I pinned a single badge on one side of my jacket...

Customising a denim jacket

... and a whole cluster down the other side, to create a pleasingly asymmetric look.

Badges on a denim jacket
DIY customised denim jacket decorated with badges, sequins & custom patches

You'll need to remove the badges and pins whenever you wash the jacket, of course, but that just gives you a chance to mix things up and add in some new faves! I'd definitely recommend hand-washing your jacket once you've added the custom letters and other embellishments, to help keep your jacket looking at its best.

Click on the images to open the templates and/or embroidery patterns in a new window or tab. Download the image or make sure you're viewing it at full size and print at 100%.

Lettering templates to decorate a denim jacket

90s geometric embroidery patterns

DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by StickerYou, where you can create custom printed patches, die-cut stickers, labels, badges, temporary tattoos, and more.

DIY customised denim jacket tutorial

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Weston-super-Mare in Pictures: January-March 2018

I live by the seaside, I go for a lot of walks... and I take a lot of photos!

I share a lot of my seaside snaps over on Instagram; I love having a space to share the lovely views and interesting details that catch my eye. This year I'm also doing a quarterly round-up of my fave photos here on my blog - I hope you'll enjoy following along as the seasons change.

It's been so cold and wet and grey this winter, I've not been for nearly as many walks as I'd have liked. The walks I have been on have been rather wonderful, though.

This grey winter day was beautiful, but so incredibly cold. I kept having to stop walking to jump up and down a bit and wiggle my fingers and toes to keep them from getting too chilly!

The light when it was sunny, though? Oh my goodness. So bright and clear and gorgeous.

The winter sunsets can be pretty magical, too.

This sunny day followed several days of heavy rain, the paths were little muddy rivers and I narrowly escaped slipping and falling several times. It was totally worth it for these views.

I get why people don't think to visit the seaside in the winter, but look what you're missing out on!

In March the weather went a bit weird, and the beach was covered in heavy snow thanks to the Beast from the East. I was particularly smitten by the combination of the snow and my favourite seaside shelters.

Later in the month, it snowed again: not as heavily as before, but with a similarly transformative magic. (I blogged about this walk - click here to see all the pics!).

Finally, at the end of March I walked a slightly different route through town and discovered a new-to-me bakery (yum) and what is now my new favourite door (you can't beat a good door).

Follow me on Instagram for regular (ish) updates from Weston-super-Mare.

Catch up with my faves shared in February to August last year, and in September to December.