Tag Archives: craftsy

Jelly roll frenzy (race)

7 Aug

When I finished my Craftsy Block of the Month quilt one of my commenters called V from sometimesshesews.blogspot.com introduced me to the notion of a jelly roll race and provided me with this link to youtube as I’d never heard of it before.

So basically all the pieces sewn end to end in to one long strip then the long ends of the strips sewn together again, and and again and again until you have a quilt.

Erm , hello, I LOVE that idea!

The roll I used is sweet tooth by Benartex which is all sweetie themed – I do LOVE sweets! I bought it from the Missouri Star Quilt company – my Dad was visiting from the USA so got it sent to his address. Sadly I would not recommend this company at all, terrible communication and service. I digress…

Sadly I have nobody to race so I have called it a jelly roll frenzy. What brilliant fun! So quick! Sometimes it can feel like when you do anything labelled ‘sewing’ you actually spend a considerable amount of time doing other things like cutting, planning, pinning, ironing etc – this is just pure unadulterated SEWING! I simply loved making this quilt top! I think everyone should have a jelly roll in the cupboard so you can whip one of these babies up when you just need some mindless escapism at your sewing machine.


I sashed with a pinky polka-dot and bound in a gorgeous sunshine orange. The backing was big fat magenta polka dots. I finally got round to watching the free craftsy course on creative quilt backs (need to review that) and used the technique to match large prints. Worked really well – can you see the join?


More Craftsy I’m afraid… I recently bought free-motion fillers by Leah Day as one of my Christmas presents from my Dad -he got me a gift voucher for three classes. Again, must review when I’ve finished it. I found a lovely pattern in lesson three “independent designs” named “basic spiral”. I thought it looked like swirly sweets so it fitted with the fabric perfectly. Frankly the quilting leaves something to be desired and is a bit clunky but from a distance it has the effect I wanted.


I love the finished article and am really peased with the size, this is just perfect for snuggling on the sofa. Sadly, I think the overall effect is a bit too little girl with the sweets and the pink. I am considering giving it away, but I really love it – clearly there is still a little girl very much inside and not even attempting to get out!

Oh, and I’m not the only one who likes it…


Over to you:
Have you ever done a jelly roll race?
Have you made something which hasn’t turned out how you thought, but you love it anyway?
Any other little ideas like the jelly roll race I can try?!

Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

**all views are my own and I get no affiliate income from this**


Stashbusting update: February

24 Feb

Stashbusting Sewalong

I am still ploughing away at this stashbusting business.  I know I am meant to have identified the fabrics I will be using up and I haven’t actually got around to that, erm, sorry.  But I am doing the monthly challenges, this month was ‘making for others’.

February is my Step-Mother Nancy’s birthday and she adores cloth napkins.  I don’t really enjoy making napkins, there is just so much accuracy required along with lots of pressing and they look really easy to the recipient when in fact they take ages to make.    But I know she would really enjoy them, and actually use them so relented.  It also gave me a chance to give my new serger/overlocker a spin using the rolled hem function.


I wasn’t sure of the best way to corner a rolled hem napkin so I googled and who is the top link?  Only my favourite Craftsy instructor Amy Alan with this free tutorial!

The fabric I used was a two metre length of quilting cotton I bought at a Christmas sale for £5 a metre.  I got eight enormous dinner napkins out of the two metre length (they are 20 inches across which I think is pretty huge).  I made four for Nancy and four spares which will probably end up being given to my lovely sister Helen who was commenting how much she would like a set of napkins when I saw her over my birthday weekend.


I made a little drawstring bag for the napkins to live in with a stripe of the napkin fabric across it and the drawstring made from a tube of the same material.


My Dad and Nancy live in the USA so these bad boys were sent off today to Lynchburg, Virginia.  I hope she likes them!

Next month the focus of the stashbusting is: Impending Seasonal Change. Regardless of your hemispherical location, the weather will be changing soon…what will you make? Something fun for the coming spring, or something cozy for fall?  

I am linking this post up with the Stashbusting linky party

Over to you:

  • Are you participating in the stashbusting sew-a-long?
  • Are there any projects you just don’t enjoy making that much?
  • Any ideas what I could make in the March category?

Leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you!

Review of Beginner Serging from Craftsy

23 Feb

I bought this course after being utterly wowed by sergers/overlockers, but also totally overwhelmed at the same time!  I know Craftsy, and love it, so it was the first place I looked for some quality learning.  You can buy the course here for £26 full price – but if you hang around there is usually an offer on various courses.  I got the course for just £12 with a voucher I bought with some Christmas money.  Craftsy aren’t paying me for my views.

The instructor – Amy Alan

The first thing you need to know is that Amy has an absolutely lovely way with her!  She has this really warm way of speaking and often puts a little laughy smile on the end of sentences – particularly ones which might make you go ‘eeeek!  How the hell am I going to pull that off?!’  This style suggests she has experience of teaching in real life and she is anticipating the look of dawning terror on her learners faces at just the right moment.  She also personifies everything – the screwdriver is ‘this little guy’ and for something else ‘he just comes up on the thread guide’ are two examples but the course is peppered with them –  it makes it seems like we are getting to know a new friend rather than mastering a piece of machinery.  This style has the effect of making everything feel achievable and made me really enjoy the actual instruction, not just the learning.    She has a blog and I have started following her after this course – I am a fan!

The platform – the app in particular

I love Craftsy, the quality of instruction and the price is just fantastic as I explained when I did my block of the month write-up .  However, in order to have online instruction lots of crafters have invested in portable devices like tablets to access the internet as we work and sadly Craftsy is not delivering well on these platforms.  Last summer they brought out the long awaited Craftsy App, which is an improvement on using the website which was unbelievably limited on my ipad.  However the app crashes – often.  It also has completely different options available to you depending on whether you are viewing it in landscape:

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or portrait:

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I like to watch in landscape as I have a little stand for landscape viewing, but I can only read the discussions and add notes when it is in portrait which is utterly impractical.  You also have no thirty second rewind.  The thing that *really* gets me though is if your Ipad goes in to standby when you’ve paused a video the app doesn’t remember where in the video you were and starts again at the beginning of the lesson.  This is unbelievably annoying as generally you have paused it at a difficult part of the make – to have to mess around to find your exact place totally breaks your flow.  I really think this is an area they need to work on so they can take their instruction to the next level.

Understanding your machine and threading

In the opening lesson Amy has three machines, an entry level Brother, a mid-range Janome (this is the one I have!) and a Bernina:

Photo 23-02-2013 17 20 47

She goes through all the features on every machine and you tick it off when you find that item or control on your machine and she demonstrates a lot of the settings on all three models.  This is an excellent way to start as it means you can eyeball and touch each feature meaning you have a reference for all the future lessons no matter what machine you are working on; clever idea.  I actually wish I had bought the course earlier so I could have watched this lesson before I even went on my exploratory shopping trip to work out what I wanted from a machine so I would be able to see what you get in each price bracket.  This lesson also features threading in lots of detail.  There are a few things I am not happy about with this generally excellent course, and this is the first one: she demonstrates the rest of the course on the top of the range Bernina.  How many people who have never used a serger before would go out and buy a top of the range model?  The tuition would have been more effective if she had used at least the mid-range one, or chopped and changed between the three.   There are several minutes devoted to using the automatic needle threader on the Bernina – surely such a machine specific feature doesn’t need this level of detail?   The instruction remains good but it would be better to have seen all three models.

Basic stitches

The course teaches you about all the different types of stitches and how the stitches are formed which is great.  It is coupled with very detailed information on the tension settings for each stitch type in the course materials i.e. it says whether the tensions settings are going to be medium, high etc.  She also helps with diagnosing tension issues.  The class goes through loads of stitch types: overlock, flatlock, rolled hem, narrow seam, wrapped overlock on four, three and two thread serging.

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The class has you trial each stitch type and create a ‘stitch book’ so you keep a sample of the stitch and write down all the settings for later reference:

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What an excellent resource to keep and refer to for the rest of my crafting life.  The template could have a few more boxes to record details like fabric type, blade up or down, layers of fabric, stitch finger engaged or not.  I have scribbled these on but they would have been nice to be included as they are discussed on the course.  Here comes probably my biggest criticism of the whole course – she doesn’t tell you what each stitch type is for.  I was so wrapped up in my lovely learning journey that I didn’t even notice at the time!  This is a pretty major flaw – after completing this lesson, I was about to begin sewing a knit dress up (Tiramisu anyone?!) and as I was setting up I suddenly thought – which stitch do I use for this?!  I know working through the projects in the later lessons uses a lot of the stitches but you need a ‘typical use’ or the advantages and disadvantages of the different stitches.

The projects

One really lovely thing about Craftsy courses is they teach you a technique, then you do a real life project to test that out.  The projects for this course are a zippered bag:

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ruffle apron: (in background)

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striped knit scarf: (on model far left – there was no close up of this – real shame)

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I have to say at this point that although I have watched these lessons I have only completed the bag project – I just don’t like the other projects, sorry!  I would never wear a ruffled apron and the scarf isn’t my style.  This doesn’t mean I will never complete the latter projects, just at the moment I don’t want to spend a considerable amount of time creating something I won’t enjoy too much.  I like that these projects are completed wholly on the serger, no reference to a normal sewing machine at all.   Across the projects you use nearly all the stitches she has shown you which is a really practical way of practicing them; although as I have already explained I would have preferred more clarity than this.  There is a real reliability on the paper course materials without too much exemplification for the ‘away from the serger’ bits.  The fact it doesn’t even properly show you what you are going to make on the video in the case of the apron and the scarf is pretty disappointing and might be why I don’t feel inspired to make them.

In summary

A lovely course which I would recommend for those who have just bought a serger, or even if you are thinking of buying one.  You come away with a stitch book which will be a constant reference companion and up to three projects cleverly constructed entirely on your new machine.  There are some flaws which don’t detract from the learning value but do stop this from being an outstanding course.  The bugs in the platform remain for ipad users and do need sorting out but I do love Craftsy, so won’t be put off.

Over to you:

  • Was this review useful to you?
  • Have you taken this course?  What did you think?
  • Is there anything you’d like to know that I’ve left out?

I’d love to hear from you – do leave a comment!

Quilting: you can’t cut corners

8 Feb

At the beginning of my sewing journey I found Craftsy and I really loved it. I adored that I could make all my errors in the comfort of my own home and replay the instructor again and again until I got it right.

In this first wild flush of attraction – imagine me running through the flowery meadow oozing joy whilst holding hands with Mr Craftsy and gazing lovingly in to his eyes – I thought participating in Amy Gibson’s free class Block of the Month would be super easy. It’s not like I’m entirely new to quilting and piecing. I’ve completed smaller projects like baby quilts etc and know some quilting techniques; I’ve even done a bit of free motion and didn’t sew my fingers together. It’s just this would be my first large scale patchwork quilting project. Confidence was high, I repeat, confidence was high. Dear readers, I know you can see my folly.


The first issue was my general approach to long tasks. I was the kind of kid who’d be set a big homework project to complete over weeks and weeks and would start it the night before. I have not grown out of this awful habit. I watched the videos each month very dutifully, I just didn’t actually do any sewing. Finally I bought the fabric at Creative Stitches in Exeter in September and I started cutting the bits in October thinking I’d be whipping up this quilt in no time. I laughed in the face of these weaklings who aren’t hardcore enough to crank out projects in long gruelling sessions like me – ha ha ha. Oh dear. Quilters I can hear your echoing laughs…

First major quilting discovery
It takes bloomin’ HOURS to piece stuff together!
Yes. What a naive fool I was. These blocks are really HARD! I was decidedly less smug already. After all my faux quilting bravado do you know how I finally finished it? I started doing a couple squares every now and again. Yes, quilting brought me what umpteen years of education had not.


So now to the quilting…
Second major discovery
It takes bloomin’ HOURS to quilt a 20 block quilt!
Researching and praticing the techniques before you even get near the quilt top is not included in above equation. You are also absolutely terrified you are going to utterly ruin the work you’ve already done!

Dogwood technique blogged about here

Third major quilting discovery
the bloomin’ thing can’t fit properly in the sewing machine!


So you think ‘ah I’ll do a bit of echo quilting around that square with my walking foot’ like Amy suggests. BUT that means you need to rotate the thing 360 degrees – so at some point the biggest bit of the quilt needs to be rotated into the ‘throat’ of the sewing machine. I’m there stuffing the thing in, then it is so wedged I can’t actually sew. If force fed geese are unethical then the same protections should apply to sewing machines! Utter nightmare. On a more positive note – seriously good upper arm workout! I was ‘feeling the burn baby!’ It took me weeks to quilt the thing, again I was reduced to doing little and often.

Which leads me to…
fourth major quilting discovery
I bloomin’ love my finished quilt!


Taking in to account all of the above I was ready to be much less enamoured with the finished item, frankly I thought I’d be sick of the sight of it, but I really do love it! I snuggle up under it and feel so proud of the journey I’ve been on with this project! What’s more, after all of the above moaning, I am missing having a ‘big’ project going on that I can dip in and out of… I think I want to start another one! Dear quilting friends, is this how it begins?


Here it is adorning my favourite sofa in the lounge, ready to snuggle in to!

Tell me what you think:
Have you ever done a really big project like a large quilt?
Did you participate in the Block of the Month?
Are there any ‘discoveries’ you’ve made in a project which took you totally by surprise?

Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Linking up with Finish it up Friday

Delicious double dogwood design

24 Jan

Shamefully, I am still working on the Craftsy class block of the month which I should have finished a long time ago. Sorry Amy. I have a big post brewing about this whole project but here is a little one. As I experimented with some free motion quilting techniques from the interweb I wanted to share one I really enjoyed and had a great ‘two way’ effect which I haven’t seen before.


I found it on oh, fransson it was shown on a finished project this week and I liked the look of it and then saw a great tutorial on how to actually do the technique. The tutorial is from 2011 and I’m sorry if it is old hand now, but it’s new to me! This may be really standard in the quilting world, but I thought it was pretty ace that from a distance it looks like a circle technique but close up they are actually little flowers! How cool is that!?


I also like that there is a clearly defined block to do each design in and that there is a one way ‘route’ so I don’t end up in a random place with no way out (hello spirals and stippling!). I practised a little, not as much as I probably should, before heading on to my quilt block. I couldn’t be bothered to draw out the squares so used a block which was pieced squares. I did mark the middle of each square so I knew where to begin each design. I chose one of the drunkard’s path blocks as I thought I wanted to continue the ‘curvy’ theme in the quilting. Here it is before the quilting:


Here it is afterwards:


I loved doing it and I love the finished effect – quilting win. It is a very forgiving design – frankly it needed to be for me – so all my errors aren’t that noticeable. Well less so than with some other designs:


Have you tried the Dogwood technique? Do you like it too? Do you know any other of these ‘two for one’ quilting techniques!? I’d love to hear from you!