What can you make with fabric?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 23-05-2016

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Did you watch the first episode of the Great British Sewing Bee this week? Watching the contestants getting to work sewing makes me feel all inspired to dust off the sewing machine. The problem is, sometimes you just don’t know where to begin, what can you make with fabric? Fabric is very much like yarn – there are endless possibilities of what you can actually make and create. Whether you can hand sew or prefer the sewing machine there is a project for you out there. There are even fabric projects that involve no sewing at all, such as a no sew cushion cover and gift wrap, how good is that? Showing off your beautiful fabric choices with very little effort!

Our customers are never short of inspiration and often pop in with their latest sewing delights. It is nice to see such a varied selection of things that you can make with fabric.

A lady called Chris, who attends Knit & Natter made a pretty purse / wallet for her friend Joan’s birthday (also a member of Knit & Natter). The purse is made up of teeny patchwork hexagons all sewn by hand. Chris chose Tula Pink fabrics and followed the pattern by Kristyne Czepuryk from Cherry Heart’s blog.


The inside is so pretty too with slots for cards and a magnetic fasten.


Glenys brought in an adorable fabric sausage dog she had made using Tanya Whelan fabrics, following a pattern by Debbie Shaw designs. Not just any sausage dog though, this little lady can keep all of your sewing tools in one place. If you would like to make your own accessory case, why not take a look at the ‘Ready to roll‘ accessory case by Cherry Heart.


On to clothing now…..a customer called Linda brought in a selection of tops she has made using various fabrics. The pattern Linda has used for the short sleeve tops is a Simplicity pattern 8523. The sleeveless top is from another pattern she had in her stash. The cotton fabrics are so beautiful and lightweight, perfect for a summer top.


Tina Givens Riddles & Rhymes – Castle Row – Blue


Nel Whatmore Sketch Book Botanical – Geranium


Michael Miller Sashiko – Midnight

One more project to share from a customer called Ann. Ann attended Barbara’s log cabin patchwork workshop in April and caught the sewing bug. After completing a couple of blocks in the morning workshop, Ann went on to purchase new fabrics to make a quilt.


In amongst the beautiful design Ann has used Victoria & Albert Museum, Nel Whatmore Sketchbook and Guess How Much I Love You fabrics.


Will you be watching the second episode of the Sewing Bee tonight? If you have been inspired to make something new don’t forget to check out our fabric selection before you begin. When you have made something new please share your makes with us. Email any photos to amy@blacksheepwools.com.

Log Cabin Patchwork

Posted by Amy | Posted in Patchwork & Quilting | Posted on 04-03-2016

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Barbara loves to do patchwork and always has a new idea up her sleeve. When new fabrics arrive she is already lining bolts of fabric side by side, piecing together a quilt idea in her head. I guess this is inevitable when you put crafty, creative folk in a room full of inspirational materials; the crafty mind goes into overdrive. Barbara couldn’t resist the new Riley Blake ‘Fancy & Fabulous’ range – a mix of bold florals, ditsy prints and confetti spots, all designed in a soothing mint themed colourway.

Along with her chosen printed fabrics, Barbara opted to use a contrast plain white fabric to make a modern log cabin patchwork block. Barbara thoughtfully mapped out the placement of the fabrics to create a good balance with the prints. Once sewn up the block measures approximately 15½” x 15½” and would make a beautiful cushion cover. However, Barbara had bigger plans in mind for a twelve block quilt.

log cabin patchwork

With four blocks made up Barbara showed the versatility of this simple log cabin design, trying out different ways the blocks can be arranged. Taking photos as you go along is a handy tip when making / arranging quilt blocks. It helps you to get a different perspective on the quilt design whilst it is in progress and will hopefully avoid any major un-picking sessions.

log cabin patchwork

log cabin patchwork

log cabin patchwork

log cabin patchwork

log cabin patchwork

The possibilities seemed infinite, but I think after lots of twisting and turning Barbara finally reached her limit. It is amazing how these subtle changes could make such a difference to the final quilt.

Barbara chose her final arrangement and went on to make 8 more blocks and sewed them together to make the quilt top. Here she is holding it up for a quick photo.

log cabin patchwork

Ta da!!! A finished log cabin patchwork quilt complete with backing.


Please ignore the poor ironing skills on the reverse, this was my fault as the quilt had been folded in the shop and needed an iron before photography. I think my ironing skills may need improving.


If you like the look of the log cabin patchwork block and fancy having a go yourself, why not book on Barbara’s log cabin patchwork workshop. A morning workshop where Barbara will teach how to make the log cabin block, with all materials included.

Another mixed bag of crafty delights!

Posted by Amy | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 14-09-2015

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The start of Cherry Heart’s Spice of Life Crochet Along is fast approaching, I can’t wait to share all of the works in progress and finished blankets here on the blog. In the mean time I have a fairly mixed bag of crafty treats to share from our customers. It is good to see an increase in the number of fabric based projects being brought in store for a quick photo, keep them coming!

This first quilt was sewn on Stuart Hillard’s Quilt in a day workshop which we held here at the Craft Barn back in June.


The next project I have to share is another HUGE quilt from Quilt Grandeur by Kaffe Fassett. A customer called Linda made this incredible piece.

Quilt Grandeur quilt

One more quilt from a lady called Alison, who attends our knit and natter group. Alison hadn’t attempted patchwork before, you wouldn’t know with this piece!


Baby George popped into the Craft Barn for some more yarn. Doesn’t he look so content wearing a hand knitted cardigan and hat, wrapped in a beautiful knitted lace shawl.


Although summer may be over for another year here in the UK, the sun will be shining somewhere in the world. How about knitting a lightweight top in Sirdar Beachcomber Dk. Susan has chosen the multi shade – 261 ‘Collecting Shells’, what a lovely name for a summer yarn!

susan_beachcomber_topMary couldn’t wait to share her finished Stylecraft Lily Pond Crochet Along blanket in Stylecraft Special Dk.

stylecraft crochet along lily pond blanket

Designer Q & A’s – Craft Cotton Company

Posted by Amy | Posted in Designer Q&A's | Posted on 07-09-2015

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A couple of weeks back we had a visit from Vicky, who is Head of Design at The Craft Cotton Company. She had brought along some very exciting new fabric kits and swatches for us to take a peek at. We currently stock cute fat quarter bundles from the Craft Cotton Company, that are ideal for patchwork projects. Each bundle contains 6 fat quarters in assorted designs, often based around a colour theme or contrasting prints. A lovely finishing touch to the stack of fabrics is a pretty ribbon to bring them all together. In the next few months we will be adding more Craft Cotton fabrics to the website.

In the mean time we thought it might be nice to find out more about Craft Cotton Company designer Vicky Cowley. With so many beautiful designs under her belt we wanted to know – how does she come up with so many fab designs? Read all of her answers below along with some extra photos.

Craft Cotton Company

How did you get into designing fabrics?

I was approached by the Craft Cotton Company through a friend who had told them about me and my passion for design and crafting, the rest was history! I already had a background in fashion design and textiles so it was an easy and fun transition to make.

Where do you find inspiration?

I get inspiration from everywhere really, I see it in everyday life. However, if I am actively looking for inspiration I will go to Pinterest as I think this is a fantastic library full of brilliant ideas and images which often escalate into something else! I also love looking at homeware and interiors for fabric, trend and colour inspiration.

Out of all the designs you have done, do you have a favourite?

It is really hard to pick a favourite as I love them all for different reasons, but if I had to pick one I would say one of my newest creations ‘A vintage tea party’ is my favourite so far.

Craft Cotton fabric

How long have you been designing?

I have been designing officially for 6 years within fashion and textiles but unofficially since I was a child. When I was younger I used to love designing clothes, gardens, houses I was always drawing and designing something!

Do you sew? If so, what do you enjoy making?

I don’t get time to sew as much as I would like these days but my favourite things to make are cushion covers as they can add a new look to your room and freshen it up very quickly. I cannot count the amount of cushions I have in my house!

What was the first ever sewing project you made? Was it a success?

I remember sewing a patchwork cushion cover in textiles when I was about 14, this is the first thing I remember sewing and was very pleased with it when I had finished! When I was studying clothing design and pattern cutting at University I did made a few horrors but it all clicked into place towards the end! I love making clothes but prefer to make items for my home.

What other crafts do you enjoy doing?

I love anything that involves being creative! I am a huge fan of scrap booking and mood boards, I can literally create a mood board for any occasion! I am currently planning my wedding so I have experimented with making invites and also tried my hand at a bit of floristry and I can honestly say I love it all!

Of all the Craft Cotton /Visage fabrics which is your a favourite?

My favourite fabric would have to be the Patchwork Dove which was the first Fat Quarter set I ever designed and it originated from a cushion I had made previously when I used to run my craft business so it has a personal story behind it.

bird cushion

craft cotton company

craft cotton company
Are you always drawn to a particular colour / colour palette?

I tend to get drawn towards more muted shades and pastel colours. However when you are designing for a wide range of customers you have to be open to colours you wouldn’t normally consider, I often look for different colour palettes on Pinterest.

Do you read any craft magazines? If so which ones?

We are lucky to get Quilt Now and Simply Homemade in our office and I will often have a flick through these as I love the contemporary look they have and all of the brilliant ideas they come up with that I would never have thought of.

If you could give us one patchwork / sewing tip what would it be?
From my own experience I have 3 sewing tips all of which save time and frustration, the 1st would be to ALWAYS keep a quick-unpick nearby I hate having to route around for one when I’m in the middle of a project and make a mistake. The second would be always leave enough thread through your sewing machine needle, there is nothing worse than sewing the straightest neatest seam in the world and then realising that it hasn’t even stitched! The third would be, always check you have enough of your colour thread before you start a project, I have been known to start a project Sunday afternoon, run out of thread and have to wait until Monday evening after work to finish something I couldn’t wait to complete because all the shops are shut and I couldn’t buy anymore thread!

Which designers do you admire?

I really admire Cath Kidston, I love how she started her business from a small store in London making tea towels and has grown it to the size it is today, I think it has a brilliant story behind it, I adore the cute/novelty prints too. I am also a huge fan of the Laura Ashley brand as the style is more grown up and colours are easier to work with when decorating your home. I also love watching Kirstie Allsopp on TV as she isn’t afraid to try her hand at anything, which is very similar to myself! Not many people know that Cath Kidston and Kirstie are cousins and that Cath’s family used to be neighbours with the Ashley family. I admire them all and find it interesting that all my favourite people are connected in a certain way.



A Patchwork Summer Shawl

Posted by Amy | Posted in Free Patterns, Patchwork & Quilting | Posted on 24-08-2015



Back in June we held our very first ‘Sewing Bee‘ at the Craft Barn. A group of bloggers and Black Sheep Barbara took part. The brief was to make an item in the day based around the theme of patchwork. The results were fabulous and so varied too. Each and every project was so different – there were bags, boxes, a cushion and Barbara’s elegant shawl. Barbara has now written the pattern out so that it is available as a free pattern to download from our website. Many of the other designs, including Jozart’s winning windmill bag are also there for you to download.

Sewing bee projects

Here is Barbara’s gorgeous shawl made using a combination of juicy fabrics – Philip Jacobs Pansies, Kaffe Fassett Millefore and Valori Wells Voile.

patchwork summer shawl

A mixed bag of crafty delights!

Posted by Amy | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 29-07-2015

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Our lovely customers never fail to impress with their latest finished projects. In recent weeks it has been a pleasure to be treated to these delights. As more and more people get to know that we stock such a gorgeous range of fabrics we are starting to see more fabric based finished projects too.

Anne likes to knit various little dolls and characters. She brought in two teeny meerkats from ‘Knitted Meerkats’ book by Sue Stratford. A punk meerkat and a meerkat dressed up as a Christmas tree. These are a fun make that would make a great gift. Take a look at all of the detail in each one – the punk even has a nose ring!

Punk meerkat

Look at this little cheeky chap hidden away inside a Christmas tree – such intricate knitting.

christmas tree meerkat

After finishing the meerkats Anne made a knitted doll from ‘Babes in Wool’ book using various oddments of yarn. Check out her funky hair!

Babes in wool doll

Scarves and shawls are a versatile knit – easy to transport when knitting (especially on circular needles), can be worn all year round (depending on the thickness), perfect for all levels of knitter (plenty of choice, basic to advanced).

Isabelle took on the Rowan Starry Starry Night shawl an exclusive free download from Black Sheep Wools designed by Sarah Hazell. The shawl uses a ball of Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe and Rowan Fine Lace. I have seen a few different variations in the past, but not this particular colour combination. The grey / blue shades look lovely worked together.

starry starry night shawl

starry starry night shawl

Leona brought in three patchwork cushions she had made using floral Coats fabrics, including Nel Whatmore Memory Lane and Tanya Whelan Petal. Can you believe this was her very first time taking on a patchwork project? Leona attended the Basics of Patchwork workshop a couple of months back. She soon got the hang of it!

leona's patchwork cushions

A customer called Delyse brought in this gigantic throw she had knitted. The blanket is knitted in a variety of Sirdar Country Style Dk yarns and a selection of oddments Delyse had in her stash. The squares were joined together using a 3 needle bind off method. Each large log cabin square has been created by picking up the stitches along the side of the centre shape and continuing round for the colour change.

log cabin knitted blanket

log cabin knitted blanket



What have you been sewing?

Posted by Amy | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 13-07-2015

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Sewing fever has hit Black Sheep Wools recently. It’s great to see all of the projects you have been making – from garments to patchwork quilts, we really have had a varied selection.

When you walk into our fabric room you are greeted with so much colour and inspiration, it really is difficult to know where to start sometimes. Plucking out a bolt of fabric or two (or maybe 10) and lying them side by side or even piling them high is often the best way to get a feel for the colour and print combinations you are hoping to achieve in your desired design.

Lots od thought and consideration has gone into the fabric choices of our customers. Take a look below at their projects below. If you would like to share a project you have made with fabric purchased from Black Sheep Wools we would love to see. Send your photos to amy@blacksheepwools.com.

Yvonne spotted Catherine on a shopping trip in the Craft Barn wearing this outfit made entirely from Coats fabrics. The top is made in Tula Pink Foxfield – Serpentine and the trousers in Freespirit Designer solids – aqua. Catherine purchased another gorgeous fabric combo whilst she was in store. Hopefully she will pop in one day again wearing her new outfit!

tula pink foxfield - serpentine

Sally from our knit and natter group brought in a huge quilt she had made in memory of her son who passed away. One side of the quilt is made up of a patchwork design using different pieces of t-shirts and tops then the reverse is an array of juicy shades of Kaffe Fassett fabrics.



Amy visited the Craft Barn to share her first ever sewing projects. She made a cushion using Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements Bouquet and a red piping, finishing it off with a shell button in the centre. The pattern is from Stuart Hillard’s book – Sew Fabulous.



Cathy from our knit and natter group had her latest crochet project tucked away in this adorable pouch, made from Kaffe Fassett Sateen Belle Epoch.


Lisa has hand sewn this entire patchwork quilt. She has used a selection of fabrics from her stash and also some Craft Cotton fat quarters. Once this quilt is finished Lisa plans to make another one for her other daughter.



Next up we have Michelle’s pretty applique cushions. Michelle has used Denyse Schmidt fabrics and highlighted the leaf design for her appliqued centre design.



Finally we have a fab beach bag made for Jayne (who works in the tea shop) by her mother-in-law. Jayne took this fab on her holiday; with all its pockets and drawstring fasten it was perfect for a day at the beach. The fabric is all from the Nel Whatmore Merry Go Round range.



Sewing Bee at the Craft Barn

Posted by Amy | Posted in Patchwork & Quilting | Posted on 19-06-2015

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Last Wednesday we held our very first Black Sheep Sewing Bee here at the Craft Barn. We invited 5 bloggers to take part and our very own Barbara. Barbara is a team leader in the Craft Barn and is our go to lady for all things patchwork. She has some fantastic pieces of work including these shown below.



Everyone was given a brief to make a patchwork based design within the day. It was interesting to see each person’s fabric choices and what they would turn into over the course of the day. As Barbara took part in the Sewing Bee herself she has written all about her day below.

Early next week we will be sharing each of the six final designs here on the blog and on Facebook for you to vote for your favourite.

Over to Barbara…………

“I spent the day with 5 lovely ladies at our first Black Sheep Sewing Bee. After introductions and tea we all set off making our patchwork creations.

Ali from Verry Berry Handmade made a colourful bag using Denyse Schmidt fabrics.

very berry handmade patchwork

Jo from Jozart made a windmill bag.

Jo from Jozart blog sewing a windmill patchwork bag

Diane from The Cheshire Quilter made containers with pockets.

diane patchwork container

Lucy from Charm About You made an applique cushion cover.

lucy charm about you applique cushion cover

Rachel from Mamma Fairy Sews made a hobby bag using Dena Designs Little Azalea fabrics.


I decided to make a summer shawl using ‘Millefiore’ and shot cotton by Kaffe Fasett with a splash of Philip Jacobs’ pansies. I used the foundation piecing technique for my project for the base fabric. I chose ‘Wish’ by Valorie Wells which is a really pretty light voile.



It was amazing to see everybody working – they definitely know their stuff. The speed at which they worked was amazing, how everybody finished their projects in a day, I’ll never know. I finished mine at home by sewing a blanket stitch edge with a crochet border, adding long fringing to each end to complete. For the fringing I used Rico Crochet Cotton in turquoise, the colour brought everything together beautifully.

barbara_work_in progress

We had a fantastic day and everyone was impressed by our brilliant Pfaff machines with the built in walking foot, a huge thumbs up for quilting.


Rachel attached this handy pin cushion to her sewing machine. There is a free pattern over on her blog.



Thanks to all the ladies for joining us, we really had a great time, plenty of chat, tea and sewing. What more could anyone want……….Well, there was a little surprise treat. As things were wrapping up and fabric scraps were being tidied away, we were each presented with an amazing goody bag kindly donated by Coats Crafts, the perfect end to an enjoyable day.”

Barbara x


Basics of Patchwork

Posted by Amy | Posted in Patchwork & Quilting | Posted on 08-06-2015

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To make life a little easier for anyone embarking on a patchwork project we have brought together our five must have accessories. Each item has an important part to play in the basics of patchwork. This is before you even think about beautiful, printed cotton fabrics and the endless quilts you will make (well you can always have a teeny peak, can’t you?). It is a good idea to understand these tools and why they are so useful.

Rotary Cutter

A rotary cutter is a fantastic piece of equipment for any patchworker or quilter, as accuracy is key when cutting out patchwork pieces. When using a rotary cutter you can always get a neat edge and easily cut a curved shape every time. When your blade is getting blunt, fear not we also sell replacement blades. The rotary cutters come in various sizes – 28mm, 45mm and 60mm. The smaller sizes are ideal for cutting intricate shapes.

Milward rotary cutter basics of patchwork

Cutting Mat

Using a rotary cutter you will also need its best friend – a cutting mat. These accessories are like two peas in a pod, a team of the patchwork world. We would definitely advise using a cutting mat rather than having to explain the damage a lone rotary cutter could do to your table, it doesn’t bare thinking about, eeeek! The best part of all the Milward cutting mats are self-healing, any dents will bounce back. Obviously any excessive pressure and the mat will not self-heal back to its original state.


cutting mat basics of patchwork


Patchwork Ruler

A patchwork ruler with inch increments is the next item to add to your basics of patchwork shopping list. Use this handy ruler to accurately cut strips of fabric to just the length and width you need. It is super helpful that the ruler is clear too. Your fabric is easily visible when lining up where to cut. There are also 45° angles marked on to help when cutting triangles and various other patchwork shapes.

patchwork ruler

 Quilter Seamer 8″

If you haven’t guessed already, patchwork does involve quite a bit of measuring and accuracy is essential to the overall finish of a piece of work. This nifty little item may just look like a clear cuboid. It’s not; it is actually a quilter’s quarter inch seamer, designed to help out when adding your quarter inch seam allowance to paper and fabric pieces. It is exactly a quarter inch wide!

quilters seamer

505 Temporary Fabric Adhesive

Any quilter would recommend this little treat. A bottle of 505 temporary adhesive spray is so good to have to hand when arranging your fabric pieces ready for sewing. The spray leaves no residue, saves on pinning work then having to re-adjust and can fabric pieces can be repositioned for up to 20 minutes after the initial spray. It also works well for applique – but we will save that for another day.

505 adheshive basics of patchwork

There you have it our top five accessories for the basics of patchwork. Now it’s time to choose your fabrics…………

An Evening with Stuart Hillard

Posted by Amy | Posted in Company News | Posted on 26-05-2015

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We are very excited to be hosting not one, but three events with Stuart Hillard here at the Craft Barn in June. He will be teaching two fabulous, full day sewing workshops on 26th and 27th June – ‘Machine Quilting‘ and ‘Quilt in a Day‘.

machine quilting workshop


After a day of teaching on the Friday, Stuart will have a quick break before settling in for a relaxing cheese and wine evening. Stuart will be talking all about his life in fabric, not forgetting his time on Series 1 of the Great British Sewing Bee, followed by a question and answer session. Tickets are £5, which includes a glass of bubbly on arrival and 10% off all purchases on the evening. As you can see from the photo we took of Stuart last time he was here – he really does love fabric!

stuart hillard