Customer Projects Round Up 2017

Posted by Amy | Posted in Customer Projects | Posted on 05-01-2018

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At the start of a new year it is nice to reflect and celebrate your favourite craft projects of the year just ended. Over the year we have collected a variety of knitted, crocheted and stitched projects customers have shared in store or via email. If you follow us on Instagram you may recognise some of the finished makes below. As I gathered together all of the images and yarn / pattern info I noticed that crochet seems to be the most common craft. I guess it could be that a lot of crochet projects, such as scarves and shawls are easy to transport, either in a bag or in the case of a shawl quickly whipped off your neck for a photo. I know customers do regularly come in store wearing a knitted garment, but don’t want to be photographed, so there are still plenty of knitters out there. Without further ado I shall share a selection of customer projects from 2017. We can’t wait to see what you will be making in 2018!

A customer called Sheila sent in a photo of the blanket she had knitted in Sirdar Snuggly Dk (pattern- 4749). Sheila opted for the shades as seen on the pattern, a lovely colour combination.

Andrea was shopping in store wearing a ‘Lost in Time‘ shawl crocheted in Scheepjes Whirl – Blueberry Bambam. Look how beautifully the colours flow! She used an extra ball of Scheepjes Catona for the edging.

Marcia knitted a cute cardigan for her grandson in Sirdar Snuggly DK and King Cole Cherish DK, following Rico pattern 089.

One for the summer months – a beach dress crocheted in Scheepjes Cotton 8 by a customer called Jan. This pattern is from Scheepjes ‘The Sea Issue‘ bookazine.

Onto a knitted item using Scheepjes Secret Garden knitted by Jackie . This beautiful rainbow shawl knits up with just 6 balls. It is called Shawl of Secrets.

Elizabeth sent in a photo of her blanket knitted in a selection of shades of Sirdar Colourwheel DK. A fantastic use of this variegated yarn in a Kaffe Fassett blanket design. The pattern is from a book in Elizabeth’s stash – Knitting with the Color Guys.

I appear to have misplaced the name of the customer who brought this quilt topper in (sorry :(). An incredible explosion of colour using Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

Joan knitted a cowl in Caron Simply Soft following a free pattern ‘Snakes and Ladders‘. There is a link next to the yarn to download the pattern.

Liz came in store wearing a jacket knitted in Stylecraft Jeanie Aran. She popped it on a mannequin for a quick snap.

Sally brought in a knitted cat in Sirdar Touch.

Jessica visited the Craft Barn wearing this beautiful delight. A Lost in Time shawl by Johanna Lindahl crocheted in Scheepjes Catona.

Christina knitted a Paddington inspired duffle hooded jacket for her grandson in Hayfield Chunky Tweed yarn.

Su was busy knitting this dragon in the tea shop. The pattern is actually for King Cole Tinsel, but Sue went for a different look using King Cole Galaxy.

Just before Christmas Margaret came in store with her husband and son. They were wearing matching Christmas jumpers she had knitted for them in King Cole Shine – Christmas.


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

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.

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.



Kaffe Fassett at 50

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 10-08-2015

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A lady came into the Craft Barn last week with the most beautiful quilt. She had made it entirely in Kaffe Fassett fabrics and it looked incredible. It was very inspiring and also a huge reminder that I haven’t yet shared with you my fabulous day at the ‘Kaffe – Celebrating 50 years in Textiles’ event.

Linda's Kaffe Fassett Quilt - Quilt Grandeur book

Linda’s Kaffe Fassett Quilt – Quilt Grandeur book

The event had been organised by Coats and was held at the ‘Gardens of the Rose’ in Hertfordshire. It was a beautiful setting and perfect for a celebration of colour.

Wisteria - Kaffe Fassett

Pretty floral - Kaffe Fassett at 50

We were also incredible lucky with the weather. The sun shone all day.

There was an exhibition, in the gardens, of some of Kaffe’s most famous designs. The use of colour is so incredible they really make you feel good when you look at them (does that make sense?)

Kaffe Fassett at 50

Knitted blanket - Kaffe Fassett at 50

Quilt & cushion - Kaffe Fassett at 50

And whoever organised the flowers made sure they complimented the designs perfectly.

Kaffe Fassett at 50 table display

Kaffe Fassett at 50 - beautiful colour

My own personal highlight of the day was meeting Kaffe himself. He was very charming and tall! I’m only 5ft 3inches so most people are to me!

Kaffe Fassett at 50 - Sara & Kaffe

However the main focal point was and interview with the man himself. Interviewed by Sharon Brant of Coats, he was truly fascinating.

Kaffe Fassett at 50 interview

He talked about his life & his obsession with colour. He certainly made me question why I wear so much black!

He really brings his fabric to life and gains inspiration from so many different aspects of the world. He spoke about India and the initial trip with Oxfam that inspired his first range of fabrics.

After the interview we enjoyed a gorgeous cream tea. You couldn’t have had a more perfect English summer’s day. The only downside to the whole day was the traffic. It took me six hours to get home!

journey home

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

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.



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

Blogger of the month – March 2015

Posted by Amy | Posted in Blogger of the Month | Posted on 14-04-2015

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march_2015We are pleased to share our Blogger of the month for March 2015. A massive congratualtions goes to……… Charm About You blogger, aka Lucy. Lucy writes a beautiful and colourful blog where she shares all of her patchwork and quilting experience. There is always a new project popping up finished with interesting embroidery or reading the journey through a blog post, as a selection of fabrics are gradually transformed into a patchwork design. Charm About You is the perfect place to gravitate for all patchwork lovers. It may well inspire you to dust off your sewing machine.

Read all about Lucy and her blog – Charm About You in the interview below. Don’t forget to take a look at her blog too. She has a fantastic offer and Black Sheep Wools gift card to give away. If you enjoy keeping up with your favourite bloggers via social media, be sure to follow Lucy @charmaboutyou.

How long have you been blogging? What made you decide to write a blog?

When I began quilting I read a lot of blogs and didn’t have any friends that sewed. I starting blogging to document my projects and reach out to the quilting community. I made my first quilt in the summer of 2011 and that’s when I decided to start blogging. The friendships and connections I have made through blogging continue to inspire and encourage me.

What is your latest WIP (Work in progress)? Do you have a photo?

There is always more than one WIP on the go! My current favourite is my Green Tea and Sweet Beans pattern by Jen Kingwell. I am hand sewing the blocks and enjoying the relaxed pace. I have created my own versions of the appliqué blocks because I wanted to incorporate some English Paper Piecing and have used different shapes to create the flowers.

epp flowers

Who taught you to sew? When did you catch the bug?

I am mostly self-taught and used a lot of different online tutorials to help me learn the basics. My Aunty and my American cousin both quilt and offered me lots of tips and advice. I did some embroidery when I was younger and still enjoy doing that occasionally. I have always had a basic sewing machine but it was reading blogs that encouraged me to really get into quilting.

What was your first ever patchwork / quilting project?

The first quilt I made was a present for my Nan using a very simple pattern. My grandmother is an amazing woman and she knits, crochets, embroiders and also paints beautifully. She made me and each of my children crochet blankets and I wanted to make something for her.

Do you watch TV or listen to music while you sew? If so what?

I do watch TV while I am hand sewing, mostly totally trashy stuff that doesn’t require attentive viewing! I prefer to do one thing at a time so I might stop to watch Scorpion, Bones or Elementary. My days are so busy and noisy (three children!) that I prefer peace and quiet when I sew so I can concentrate, also my machine is so loud I can’t really hear anything over it!

Is there any one project that you treasure? Made by yourself or a handmade gift from a loved one?

There’s a few but one of my most treasured is the Bees of A Feather quilt I finished last year. I was in two online quilting bees, ‘Bee A Brit Stingy’ and ‘Scrappy? Sew Bee It’, and asked both groups to make me feather blocks using the Feather Bed Quilt pattern by Anna Maria Horner. After making some of my own feathers I put them all together, it was a bit of a puzzle and I used low volume fabrics to fill in any gaps. I hand quilted it and loved every stitch! Having blocks come from friends all over the world, the scrappy and beautiful feathers and the overall design make this a very treasured quilt that I sleep under every night.



Do you have a patchwork or quilting tip you would like to share?

There are so many great books and resources online full of practical tips but generally I would say to sew what you love. Find a pattern that excites you, fabric that speaks to you and go for it! Quilting projects can take time and I stay motivated when I really want to see the finished quilt. I have tried lots of methods and styles of patchwork and quilting, it is fun experimenting and using different techniques so you can see what you enjoy most. I never thought I would love hand piecing until I actually did it. Foundation paper piecing, free motion quilting, appliqué, English paper piecing, hand quilting etc. – there are so many methods for you to try!

Where do you find inspiration for a new project? Do you choose the fabric or pattern first?

Usually my inspiration comes from online, I also see a lot of projects in books and magazines but anything can spark an idea! I tend to pick a project first and then find the perfect fabric to make it.

Do you have a favourite crafting snack?

Not sure it counts but probably coffee!

What is your favourite fabric to work with? Is there a particular brand?

I use many different brands and designers and like to mix lines rather than stick to one. I like modern prints, as well as 1930s reproduction fabrics and lots in between. Many of my projects are quite eclectic as a result.

Do you have a favourite project? 

Two of my favourite makes combine sewing and embroidery to create cases that I use daily! The first is my Sewing Portfolio Organiser, pattern by Kerry Green available on the Liberty Craft Blog. I changed the outer part and used a Sublime Stitching embroidery pattern. The second is the Embroidery Bag, from the tutorial by Sara Lawson. Both these bags help keep me organised and I really enjoyed making them.

sewing bags

Do you follow other blogs? If so which blogs?

I follow so many, too many to list! I often use Feedly to keep up with the blogs I read but you can see who I follow on my Blogger profile.

How many projects do you have on the go at one time?

Loads! When I started I just did one at a time but those days are gone and now I’m happy with working on different projects when the mood suits me.

What other pastimes do you enjoy?

Other pastimes?! I think I’m too addicted to sewing for anything else! I love being with my family, my kids creativity makes me smile and seeing friends and having a good natter is always good for my soul. I am a voracious fiction reader and welcome book recommendations!

Which fabric designers do you admire? 

I love Denyse Schmidt and her ability to create retro prints that still feel modern. Anna Maria Horner designs beautiful prints in gorgeous colour palettes. Darlene Zimmerman has adorable 1930s prints and two of my favourite modern fabric designers are Carolyn Friedlander and Rashida Coleman-Hale. There are many more I admire and I look forward to more fabric collections from Jen Kingwell and Ayumi Takahashi who both debuted their first designs this year.

What is your favourite item to sew?

Quilts! I adore making beautiful, snuggly quilts to cover people up in handmade goodness. I also love smaller projects like decorative items, zip bags and cushions for when I want a quicker finish.

Do you have any advice for new bloggers?

Be yourself. I am glad I blog because it is a document of my creative journey. Only now have I started to feel I have developed my own style and am confident in my decisions when crafting. Join in the community; comment on blogs, link up to weekly/ monthly blog parties, join swaps or bees – it’s a great way to make new friends. I run another blog called Le Challenge with my friend Nat from Made in Home, we set a theme each month and people link up their finished projects and show how they interpreted the theme. It’s a fun way to get inspiration and get really creative!

Do you read any craft magazines?

I like Quilt Now! Quilt Mania, Love Patchwork and Quilting and Stitch. I tend to buy them when there is a project or article I would like to make or read!

Who do you sew for?

Anyone and everyone. I started giving quilts to all my family and friends but recently I have started more selfish sewing and making things for myself.

What one tool could you not live without?

Just one? Probably a needle! That is all I really need for hand sewing. For patchwork I couldn’t be without a rotary cutter, ruler and mat. There are so many great quilting tools available but those are the bare necessities!

Stuart Hillard & Quilting

Posted by Sara Mulvey | Posted in Sara's Blog | Posted on 05-11-2014

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As many of you may already know I have recently started patchwork and quilting. I am very much a beginner and so far have managed a nine block machine patchwork piece (which I hand quilted last night but more about that on another day!) and have fallen in love with English paper piecing. So imagine how pleased I was when we were able to arrange for Stuart Hillard to come back into the Craft Barn and sign copies of his new book ‘Sew Fabulous’.


Stuart is an incredible patchwork designer and quilter and whenever I have met him I have been filled with inspiration, and last Sunday was no exception. He brought with him three most beautiful quilts and one of which I completely fell in love with. I was going to try and resist the temptation to start it until Scarlett & Madeleine arrived in store and saw it too!




Scarlett loved it and was soon in our fabric room with Stuart picking out fabrics. Thankfully she is not a pink girl, she leaves all that to Madeleine, so she picked out the most gorgeous selection of blue fabrics from our Dena Designs collection. She was so impressed that a TV star helped her pick. She loved the ‘Great British Sewing Bee’ and is desperate for a sewing machine for Christmas.

Stuart decided I should start the quilt there and then and he would help me do my first block. Wow! A one to one patchwork lesson from the King of Quilting, how could I resist. He showed me how to cut the fabric, pin it together and how to hold the material on the machine. Before I knew it we had stitched the three long strips which is enough for two blocks.




My ¼ inch hem wasn’t perfect, I even had to unstitch one bit. (you can tell Stuart used to be a teacher he can be a bit strict!) but I was so pleased with the finished result. The only problem I had was with the ironing. I begged Stuart to give me an alternative but apparently there isn’t one – you just need to iron! I hate ironing! But it does make such a huge difference to your finished project. We then cut the pieces to the required length and laid it out on the floor in the windmill pattern. Twenty more minutes on the sewing machine and there you go, my first finished block. It took less than an hour!

I got so carried with my success that I have promised Stuart, and Scarlett, that the quilt be finished for Christmas. Watch this space!