Amy Ellis makes her love for quilting her creative therapy, designing quilts, some of which almost play tricks with your eyes and create an optical illusion! Whilst working on copious projects and drafting up new designs for her books. Amy is often inspired by fellow bloggers which she features weekly on her blog. She champions the importance of being a part of the online sewing community by holding a bloggers quilt festival twice a year. We catch up with Amy to find out more and she offers for some tips for budding authors.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m a wife and mum to four great kids. They keep me busy after school with sports and school clubs, but while they are away at school each day, I happily write, design, quilt and sew. Currently my days are full of deadlines and travel dates, but I love a challenge, and always look forward to connecting with quilters!
When did you start sewing and quilting?
I learnt to sew garments as a girl, and have loved fabric as long as I can remember! Then when I became a mum, I taught myself to piece quilts, and have been loving the creative therapy ever since!
How long have you been blogging and how do you think the internet and the online community effects the projects that people sew?
I’ve been blogging for six and a half years, which is hard to believe, but I have definitely seen how creative energies can flow around the online community. It seems we often subconsciously process the images and information that our brains collect, and can come to similar designs for quilts and clothing. There’s always a bit of a desire to do more and sew more when we are looking online too, there’s a natural drive to have something to share with friends.
You set up the ‘Bloggers Quilt Festival’ tell us more about it and how it works?
Blogger’s Quilt Festival is a place for all quilters to share their work with fellow quilters. I started it, as much for myself as anyone else, I didn’t have the option to travel when my kids were younger to take in shows, and the online community is far reaching. Twice a year, quilters from around the world post on their blogs, and share the link on my blog, then they can spend hours looking through the hundreds of entries, making friends and gathering inspiration for their next quilt. The next installment of Blogger’s Quilt Festival begins October 24th, and everyone is welcome to join!
Being an author of lots of quilt books, what words of advice would you offer budding bloggers and sewers who would like to write their own book?
You can do it! Take the time to blog often, and develop your voice as an author, and designer. This will give you the authority you need to take on the proposal process, and own the ideas that you have for your book. I have found that I have to make things happen for myself, instead of waiting for the opportunity to land in my lap. It never hurts to ask!
Do you have any new and exciting projects coming up that you can share with us?
My first fabric line, Modern Neutrals, is shipping to stores in October, and I have a collection of quilt patterns to accompany those. I’m very excited to see what people make with those fabrics. And in December my next book releases – it’s called Think Big, and features 18”quilt blocks in any size project that the reader wants to make!
Follow Amy on Twitter @amyscreativeside
This year, Get creative at Liberty has a whole range of customisable Liberty print accessories, ideal for gifts or adding a personal touch to your own collection.
Iphis customising with Virgina Ben
If you’re yet to invest in a piece from the Liberty London iphis collection, make sure you place an order this weekend for the chance to have it customised by the brilliant Virgina Ben. Monogramming will be on offer, as well as the chance to commission a totally unique, painted piece.
Liberty print stationery monogramming
Make sure your note-taking is up to scratch with a personalised notebook or journal. These smart leather pieces are only enhanced with gold or silver-stamped lettering. An ideal seasonal gift for those shopping ahead, or simply the best way to make an impeccable first impression in the boardroom.
Flowers of Liberty charm bracelets
These pretty bracelets are a must-have at the best of times, but lucky customers at the event on Friday had the chance to add a Nadia Minkoff charm or two. Shoppers chose from crystals and quirky charms to create the perfect gift or colourful addition to a bracelet stack. If you missed out on Friday, don’t forget you can shop the collection of Flowers of Liberty bracelets online.
Current/Elliott patchwork denim
If you’ve ever had the urge to jazz up your old denim (or invest in a totally unique new pair) then this is the event for you. Talented seamstresses from Sew Over It will be in residence all weekend in-store on the 1st floor to add monogramming and Liberty print patchwork to your Current/Elliott jeans. A brilliant way to give your wardrobe a timely pick-me-up.
If you’re coming down to Get Creative share your purchases and personalised creations @LibertyLondon using #GetCreative
Make your own Liberty print patchwork picnic blanket or throw.
Summer may be over, but the sun is still shining and the skies are blue, making the perfect setting for a picnic with family and friends with this lovely Liberty print picnic blanket. This sewing project is made from this seasons collection inspired by jungles, precious stones, astrology and sunsets.
Make your own original picnic blanket, by choosing your favourite Liberty prints and following our step-by-step sewing tutorial on how to make a picnic blanket. This project is for the intermediate sewer or a beginner looking for something a bit more challenging.
What you will need:
Tess and Rosa A – 30cm
Dulwich Park C – 30cm
Edna B – 30cm
Arrow A – 30cm
Pereira D – 30cm
Baby Rainbow A – 30cm
Opie B – 30cm
Plain fabric – Grey Tana Lawn
Backing fabric – Matt Maddison C
Dress making pencil/ chalk
Start by choosing which fabrics you would like to use, we have chosen a selection of fabrics which fade into one another from our new Autumn Winter Tana lawn collection.
We have chosen to use the plain grey tana lawn for the background colour.
Download our Picnic-blanket-templates.
Making the picnic blanket
Using template A and drawing with a dress making chalk pencil, cut the following amounts from each fabrics:
5 x Pereira D
4 x Baby Rainbow A
5 x Edna B
4 x Arrow A
5 x Opie B
4 x Tess and Rosa A
5 x Dulwich Park
Using template B draw and cut 24 pieces from the plain grey fabric.
Working in rows, lay your fabrics out on a flat surface, if you are lucky enough to have a big enough table or if not you can use the floor.
Begin by sewing row 1, refer to the picnic blanket layout for the measurements of the plain grey fabric which lies on either side of your first diamond.
The top grey segment should measure 8cm and the other side 24cm lining up with the 60 degree angle. The lower segment should measure 24cm on one side and 40cm on the other. Not forgetting to add seam the 1/4 inch seam allowance.
The best way is to cut a strip of grey fabric measuring 16cm wide plus seam allowance and cut across at 60 degrees using the patchwork ruler and lining up on the cutting mat.
Line up the sides leaving a ¼ inch seam allowance at the end and pin in place. When the fabric pieces are flipped the right way they will be in line with the rest of the pieces
Repeat these processes for rows 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Keep the picnic blanket laid out so it is easy to see where you are up to.
After all the rows are all complete cut the two corner pieces and the narrow strips in between the rows. Refer to the picnic blanket layout for the measurements.
The narrow strips should measure the following in length and 8cm in width plus the ¼ inch seam allowance. These will be trimmed down afterwards.
Row 1 – 0.96m
Row 2 – 1.44m
Row 3 – 1.92m
Row 4 – 1.92m
Row 5 – 1.92m
Row 6 – 1.44m
Row 7 – 0.96m
Before you start to sew, iron all your pieces flat and pressing seams to the darker fabric. Trim all extra bits of fabric for a neat edge.
Begin to sew all the quilt pieces together, starting from one corner and working towards the opposite side.
Once you have completed, trim the quilt to 130cm x 160cm plus 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Time to cut the backing fabric, we have chosen Maddison to echo the diamond pattern on the front of the picnic blanket. Cut this to the same size as the front 130cm x 160cm. Cut the wadding a fraction smaller for it to be a snug fit when you add it into the picnic blanket.
Lay the backing fabric on a flat surface, securing with masking tape at the edges, ensure that it is flat and smoothed out. Right sides facing, lay the front of the blanket onto, lining up with the backing and smoothing out any wrinkles. Secure layers together with pins or safety pins. Stitch around the picnic blanket with a ¼ inch seam allowance leaving one end at the bottom open, this is where the flap will be added to fasten the blanket. Remove the pins and turn the picnic blanket the right way and press again.
Sandwich the wadding in middle of the quilt, making sure it is flat and reaching all the corners, secure agin with pins, ready for quilting. We have quilted every other diamond on each row, if you prefer you can quilt every diamond, using the quilting thread.
Tip: Stitch in the ditch!
Making the flap
We have made a simple flap which measures 12cm x 33cm. Make this in the same way as the quilt. We have cut the corners for more detail. Add the wadding in the middle, press and insert into the centre of the blanket and pin into place.
Hand sew the opening shut by using a slip stitch, leaving the flap pinned in place until you add the handle.
Making the handle
Cut three lengths of cord around 45 cm each. We have wrapped a strip of fabric round the cord, folding one side over to hide any raw edges as wrapping round. We covered one with grey plain tana and two with Madisson.
Using a pin to hold in place, start to plait them together, we have run a stitch back and forth at the end of the plait to make it secure.
Insert the handle into the centre of the flap and pin into place, this is onto the backing fabric side. Complete by slip stitching the flap closed on both sides adding a few extra stitches where the handle is to make it sturdy.
The only thing that is left to do is add the Velcro. Add two pieces measuring 3.50cm in length, these are placed on the grey side of the flap and the opposite sides of the Velcro are added on the backing fabric. Practice folding and rolling the picnic blanket to find the perfect place to stitch the velcro. Ours was 60cm from the edge of the flap towards the centre of the blanket.
Your picnic blanket is now ready for days out with family and friends.
You can share your Liberty print projects with us on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest by using #SewLiberty.
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Home stylist and genius behind interiors blog Apartment Apothecary, Katy Orme, shows us how to redesign your home office so you can de-clutter and revel in your new workspace.
Having recently re-styled her spare room and home office into an elegant, artistic space, Katy now has a constructive area to keep the creative juices flowing at home.
Katy has restyled the room in a way that changes the entire perspective of her home office, making it clear and spacious but still maintaining her stylish flair to allow inspiration.
There are a few things to consider before you begin, so Katy gives us her top tips to help you be successful.
Katy’s top three tips for redesigning your home office:
1. Spend time planning the layout of the room
What exactly will you be using this space for? Make a list of how you’re going to use the room and what you need to store, then plan the furniture and layout around this list. For example, for my home office I wanted to be able to cut fabric and take photographs, so I positioned the desks in the middle of the room in order to access it from all angles.
This is essential as it will inspire you to make good use of all the free space you now have. Do this before starting so you know how much room you’ve got to work with. Once you’ve taken the plunge you’ll feel invigorated by the about of light, bright space you now have, without being surround by a mountain of ‘stuff’!
3. Add beautiful items to your room
There’s no reason why an office should be a hard, ugly and soulless place. Be inspired by prints, photographs, plants, flowers, textiles and gorgeous stationary. I love Liberty’s print pencils and have a variety of tumblers to hold them in.
How to choose the right colours
Sometimes picking the tones and colours of a room can be difficult, so I recommend starting by honing in on one of your favourite objects in the room, be it a lamp, cushion, blind, picture or even a notebook. Choose a colour from that object that you like and build the scheme around it. For me, I started with a Double Merrick print that I love. It has a beautiful greyish-blue background, so I started from there, matching it with the pendant lamp and some other accents around the room, such as the Liberty print cushion cover I made, vases, pens and pots, to offset the white canvas. Combining various colours can be tricky, so I often use inspiration boards to look at my favourite fabric pieces and find ones that complement each other.
If you’re looking to instantly re-vamp your room, these are some of my favourite pieces from Liberty home, fabric or haberdashery departments:
1. Find yourself some beautiful cups, jugs or bowls to store your pens and stationary in. I really enjoyed adding some of these to my room:
Flowers of Liberty Betsy Print Jug | Falcon Enamel Mini Tumbler | White Panel Tumbler | Burleigh Regal Peacock Earthenware Jug
2. Get sewing and make a cushion for your desk chair using some chic Liberty fabrics, they do a great job of softening what might normally be a rigid space. At the moment I’m in love with Pepper Liberty print.
3. Take the time and invest in some quality, stylish lighting. A good lamp goes a long way in keeping the room alive and fresh. I have a BTC Original clip-on task light but I love this floor version.
Don’t feel like you have to dig deep to make your home office a beautiful, workable area – there are plenty of ways to be thifty one a budget. I bought my new desk from a timber yard and we then cut it down to the right size. Plus, if you’re creative with your sewing like me, find your favourite Liberty pattern and design your own gorgeous cushions to brighten up any room.
Katy Orme is a freelance writer, home stylist and writer behind the interiors blog, Apartment Apothecary. Now it’s your turn to get started on redesigning your home office. Be inspired by our vibrant, botanic furnishing fabrics, or discover our full range of fabrics to get started on your next Liberty print project.
Don’t forget to share you lovely Liberty makes with us on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest – @LibertyLondon #SewLiberty.
Lauren Guthrie talks us through her latest Liberty print project and tells us about a life wrapped up in all things sewing.
Author of popular sewing blog Guthrie and Ghani, Lauren Guthrie has a true passion for sewing. When she’s not teaching workshops or completing her own sewing projects, she runs a haberdashery in Birmingham with her husband, Ayaz. As she shows us how to ad a statement Liberty print trim to a summer loungewear staple, we asked Lauren how her crafting empire came about.
How did you get into sewing; what was the first project you made?
I first got into sewing when I was only 4 years old. My Mum was a dressmaker and worked from home, so the house was always full of sewing projects. She taught me how to make a hand sewn stitch sampler that came as a kit – I’ve still got it up on my wall now!
Did you ever see yourself owning a shop dedicated to crafts?
When I was younger I used to dream of having a shop that was full of things that I had made, but now I absolutely love selling fabrics and creating notions for people to make things themselves. I think sewing has so many positive benefits, it’s really rewarding to see that thrive in the customers that come to the shop.
How did the ‘Love Liberty’ section on your blog come about?
I have always loved Liberty fabric and can remember going on a trip to the haberdashery department, all the way from Scotland, when I left school. I was allowed to pick a fabric for my Mum to make me a special outfit. I’m so drawn to the colours, patterns and amazing softness of the fabric that I love to include it in my projects, even if it’s just a little splash here and there – like the lining of a pocket, a bit of bias trim or some buttons. So I thought it would be good to have a whole category on the blog that pulled all of these projects together for people out there who love Liberty.
Do you have any favourite prints?
That is such a hard question… but if my life depended on it, Betsy – in any colourway!
Which sewing skill did you find the hardest to master?
Getting the perfect fit on a garment is always tricky. I’m lucky that usually my proportions fit more or less into the size options on sewing patterns, but there is always something new to learn in terms of getting it spot on.
What tips do you have for someone who wants to start making their own clothes or accessories?
Embrace the mistakes – you can always unpick something and you will learn so much from it so it’s never a waste of time.
Be brave – try something you’ve never attempted before, work through it slowly step by step. Soon you’ll see how it all comes together.
Get the right tools – I know it seems like a big investment but it will make life a lot easier if you have good quality equipment.
Lastly – work with a Liberty fabric! Even if it’s not perfect it’ll still look lovely if it’s made with beautiful fabric!
THE PROJECT: HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN SHORTS WITH A LIBERTY PRINT TRIM
A basic in everyone’s wardrobe, this lovely pair of comfy pyjama bottoms in a soft cotton fabric is easy to wear and simple to make, too. This project is a really good place to get to grips with following a garment pattern, as you don’t need to worry too much about getting the fit right. This simple shorts version has a contrast panel at the hem.
You will need:
Up-scale and print the ‘Short’ Shorts Pattern
1.2m (1yd) of main fabric at least 114cm (45in) wide, such as medium-weight cotton
60cm (yd) of contrast fabric at least 114cm (45in) wide, such as medium-weight cotton
Piece of 2cm (in) elastic half your waist measurement
Piece of iron-on interfacing at least 5cm (2in) square
How to make:
Cut out the fabric pieces following the cutting layout and, using the pattern, cut out the fabric pieces in the two fabrics. Also from the contrast fabric cut two strips 50 x 5cm (20 x 2in) for ties. Transfer all pattern markings onto the fabric.
Sew the inside leg seams: pin a front piece and a back piece together, right sides facing, along the inside leg edges. Stitch the seam with a 1.5cm (5/8in) seam allowance (used throughout). Press the seam allowances open and finish them off. Repeat to join the other inside leg seam.
Sew side seams: pin and stitch the side seams, with right sides facing. Finish off the seam allowances together and press them towards the front.
Add contrast border: pin and stitch the front and back panels together at the side edges; press the seams open. At the top (un-notched) edge of the panels press 1.5cm (5/8in) to the wrong side.
Turn the pyjamas wrong side out and pin the border, also wrong side out, around the lower edge of each leg, matching side seams and notches and with the pressed-back edge at the top, as shown. Tack if you wish, then stitch 1.5cm (5/8in) from the lower edge.
Finish attaching border: press the border down, away from the pyjamas. Turn the pyjamas right side out, and fold the border up over each leg; press it so that the seam you stitched in Step 4 is at the edge. Pin and tack, then topstitch the border in place 2mm (scant 1/8in) from its top (pressed-under) edge.
Sew crotch seam: turn one leg right side out. Place it inside the other leg (turned wrong side out) so that the right sides of the fabric are facing. Match up inner leg seams and front and back notches and pin in place; tack if you wish, then stitch the seam. Press the seam to one side and finish off the raw edges together.
Make the buttonholes: turn under and press 3cm (1 1/4in) along the upper edge of the pyjama bottoms, then turn under and press another 3cm (1 1/4in). This will be stitched later to form the casing for the elastic.Now open out the folds. Iron the small piece of interfacing to the marking for the buttonhole on each side of the crotch seam. Stitch two buttonholes and cut them open.
Stitch the casing: re-fold the casing and pin it in place. Topstitch 2.7cm (generous 1in) down from the top folded edge, leaving a gap of 8cm (3in) along the back. Repeat with a line of topstitching 3mm (1/8in) from the top; this will stop the elastic from twisting.
Attach waist ties to elastic: press each tie piece in half lengthways, wrong sides together. Open out this fold and fold the raw edges in to meet the crease.
Re-fold the tie, enclosing the raw edges. Topstitch close to the turned-in edges. Tie a little knot at one end of each tie. Attach the un-knotted ends of the ties to the elastic with two or three rows of zigzag stitch.
Feed elastic and ties through casing: attach a safety pin to each end of the waist ties. Feed the ties through the gap in the casing you left at the back and out through the buttonholes at the front. Pin the elastic to the top edge of the pyjamas at each side seam, then topstitch it in place. Topstitch the gap in the casing to close it. (You will have to stretch the elastic to make the fabric lie flat when you do this.)
As always, we love to see your beautiful Liberty print makes, so why not share them with us on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest – #LibertyPrint #SewLiberty.
You can find even more details, tips and projects in Learn to Sew with Lauren by Lauren Guthrie, published by Mitchell Beazley, £25 (www.octopusbooks.co.uk)
Images by Nassima Rothacker