Guest blogger: Katy Jones, Bloomsbury stripes
We meet blogger Katy Jones, who many will know from her I’m A Ginger Monkey blog, which is named after her son. Katy is based in Yorkshire and is a keen quilter, she has made an array of colourful projects. Katy shows us how to make a simple stripe quilt, even if you do not have all the sewing bits and bobs!
When did you start sewing and what was it that gave you the bug?
I have always made things – I grew up with a father that altered his own trousers on an ancient hand crank singer sewing machine and a mother that made a lot of my childhood clothes (and used a lot of Liberty prints!), as well as a grandmother that was a firm believer in make do and mend. She would unravel old jumpers to re-use the yarn, and so I was introduced to sewing from birth. I have always enjoyed making things, but it wasn’t until I had my second child that I took more of an interest in sewing and it was almost 5 years ago that I started quilting.
How would you describe your style of sewing?
Primarily I’m a quilter. I like to make quilts, I probably make too many quilts, but there’s something about cutting fabric into small pieces and sewing it back together again that really makes my heart sing. Quilts are useful, they get better with age and use and there is no better feeling than wrapping yourself up in a hand made quilt on a chilly evening. There is a lot of discussion as to whether you belong to the modern or traditional camp of quilting, but I don’t really feel like I belong to either. I love traditional quilts, but I also love modern fabrics, I am a firm believer in doing what you love best and not trying to do something just because it’s the current trend or because all the cool kids are doing it. If you love it then you’ll love it for longer than if you are making it because everyone else is.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I have a whole heap of projects going on, but among the pile of too many projects I’m using the Liberty Lifestyle fabrics to make a large cushion using English paper piecing, which should be finished by now, but is still ongoing because I’m easily distracted! I’m also making a 4th version of a quilt that is a free tutorial on my blog I’m a ginger monkey, called a scrap vomit quilt. It’s an ugly name, but the result is really lovely. It uses just scraps with a little bit of a coordinating solid fabric, and no scrap is too ugly, in fact the uglier the better.
What has been your favourite project so far and why?
I really enjoy English paper piecing, which is a traditional method of making patchwork using paper or card templates and using the shapes as a foundation support for fabric. You tack the fabric around these shapes, sew the shapes together and then when you’re all finished with the patchwork part, remove the paper templates. It’s time consuming because it’s all sewn by hand, but is very portable and easily done in front of the TV, or on the bus or train to work. A quilt I made using Anna Maria Horner fabrics that I call Hexy MF is probably my favourite all time project, it lives on my sofa with my cat perched upon it most of the time.
You recently moved on from Fat Quarterly, tell us about it and what your plans are for the future?
Fat Quarterly is a digital download magazine for quilters. It comes out four times a year and is full of projects to make and articles on new quilting fabrics, or designers. It started because we felt, as a group of friends that had met online; there was a lack of magazines that represented our community – young minded, but not necessarily young in years, quilters and wannabe quilters that wanted fresh patterns and ideas on how to use the new ranges of fabrics that were coming out. We wanted it to be as up to date as possible, which we can achieve by being digital only. None of us have any prior experience in magazines or publishing, we just literally brainstormed what we felt we wanted in a magazine and as we have evolved, we have become more and more what our readers and our community would like. We try to mould the magazine to be the best fit possible for our readers. Community is key – if you ask one of us a question (there are now four full time members of the team) we will answer you personally. As we see it, our readers are as important to us as we are and we try to ensure that everything we do is for them. Simple things, like no advertising within the magazine itself helps keep it packed with projects and far greater value for money than if it was packed full of ads. We would make more money, but as a team we feel part of our ethos would be lost and the whole idea as to why we set up in the first place.
This year, in May, we had our first book published by Lark Crafts, The Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop which has done amazingly well and is now being reprinted. it has been incredibly well received and we are all blown away by the wonderful reviews and comments people have made.
I recently left the FQ team as an ‘official’ member to pursue other areas (most of which are still somewhat secret or in talk stage at the minute) and to spend more time with my children. My husband has started a new business and is working incredibly long hours, so I’ve had to rearrange my day to finish my work at 3pm as school finishes.
Although my official role within Fat Quarterly has now come to an end, unofficially I am still part of the gang and will be teaching next year at the next Fat Quarterly Retreat (in July, at Baden Powell House, South Kensington – tickets and more information is available at www.FatQuarterly.com. We are also planning a trip to International Quilt Market next May in Portland, Oregon and keep in touch regularly.
With the release of the new Liberty Lifestyle craft cottons there’s a whole new world of possible projects you will want to try.
If you have never made a quilt before and want to give it go, this simple quilt is a perfect place to start.
It is machine sewn, with a little bit of hand quilting in a simple running stitch. The pattern has been written in clear steps with photos along the way and without any special quilting equipment. All you need to do is find your sharp fabric scissors, a long ruler (any kind of ruler is fine, the longer the better!) and fire up the sewing machine! It’s possible it will take you longer to choose fabrics than to make the quilt itself!
Finished size approximately 96cm x 105cm
5 x 25cm (1/4 metre) cuts of fabric
1 metre of a non-directional print (that means it doesn’t have a clear right or wrong way up – something like a geometric or a busy floral is ideal)
A piece of lightweight cotton wadding measuring 100cm x 110cm
Embroidery thread (anchor’s pearl cotton #8) and needle
Sharp fabric scissors
A metre rule or long ruler
Ironing board and iron
Masking or sellotape
Optional but useful – a large embroidery hoop or quilting hoop
Press your fabrics well with a hot iron. Iron them on the reverse first, and then flip over and iron the front as well to make sure you remove any creases.
Using your ruler, mark a line along the long length of each fabric (you can fold it into 4 to make this easier) to tidy up and straighten the edges. From this pencil edge measure in 12 cm increments and mark pencil lines along the long length to section the fabric into 2 strips. Using fabric scissors or dressmaking shears carefully cut along each of the pencil lines. Discard the edge pieces.
Arrange the 10 strips so that you have an arrangement without 2 of the same fabrics together, and sew together. In patchwork a ¼” seam is common practice, but you can use either the edge of the foot on your sewing machine, or one of the marks on the needle bed. As long as you sew nice and straight and consistently the ¼” is not necessary for this particular pattern. Pin your strips right sides together and remove the pins as you sew.
When all 10 strips are sewn together, press well with a hot iron, pushing all of the seams in the same direction. Press on the reverse first, then flip over and press the front. It is important to press rather than iron – lift and place the iron down onto the patchwork instead of moving it around like you would if you were ironing a shirt.
Using the ruler and your pencil, mark a line down each edge to straighten and tidy up the uneven edges. Just like in step 2, you can fold your patchwork to make it easier. Cut along the pencil lines with fabric scissors or dressmaking shears.
Lay the patchwork piece on top of the cotton wadding with right side facing up. Smooth out all over and pin well from the centre out (as a rule of thumb a pin should be placed at every hand width). This is to baste the 2 layers together so that they don’t slip around when you are quilting. You can buy special safety pins called quilters pins for this step, but regular pins or safety pins will work just as well. You could also using a hand tacking stitch for this step, starting in the centre and tacking to each corner, then to each centre edge.
Lengthen the stitch length on your sewing machine a little and if your machine has a walking foot attach it now. If your machine doesn’t have a walking foot it might be a good idea to have a practice using some scrap fabric and wadding just to assess what length your stitch needs to be and if you need to adjust the height of your presser foot. A walking foot or even feed foot helps with bulky or multiple layers of fabrics to be evenly fed through the machine and prevent puckering.
Starting with the centre edge of your quilt sandwich, and using the seam as a guide, stitch along this seam but not right on it. Repeat with every other seam to keep the patchwork and the wadding attached together. Remove the pins as you get to them.
Once you have sewn your patchwork top to the wadding, remove all of the remaining pins.
Press the backing fabric well all over and lay right side facing down on a clean, smooth floor (wooden or tiled – not a carpeted floor). Using masking or sellotape (be careful – sellotape can mark polished wood but masking tape does not, so bear this in mind!) carefully tape all around the edge of the backing fabric. Smooth wrinkles out from the middle as you go and pull taut but not drum tight. Carefully lay the quilted patchwork on top of this, right side facing down Just as you did in step 6, pin well all over from the centre out.
Sew all the way around the edge of your sandwich, leaving a gap in the middle of one end large enough to turn the whole thing through (approximately 25cm or so).
Trim the excess backing fabric off with scissors, and carefully cut across the corners avoiding the seams.
Turn the quilt right way out, and poke the corners out using a knitting needle, chop stick or a blunt pencil. Smooth all over and top stitch all the way around the edge, closing the opening.
To finish off you can hand quilt using a perle cotton stitch a simple running stitch along the seams. Don’t worry about how neat and tidy the stitches are, just make them look relatively even and straight. A quilting hoop or large embroidery hoop can make this step easier, but they’re not necessary.
Give your finished quilt a good shake and put it to use!
Follow Katy on Twitter @ImAGingerMonkey
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