Side sloping pockets for a dottie angel frock…….

placing a pocket on the skirt of the dress

While I’ve been really happy with the dottie angel dresses I’ve sewn up over the Summer, I’ve gone back to the drawing board and re-tweeked the pattern again this time to add a couple of side sloping pockets.

The original pattern has front pockets but I prefer a more hidden pocket to the side.

I’d already re-drafted the small size pattern to fit me better across the shoulders and neckline, but this time I used the pattern block I’d made for my medium dress as I was intending to add some tucks at the front and darts at the back.*

Without any seam allowances, my bodice waistline measures about 15 inches down from the top of my shoulders…or about 10 and 5/8ths of an inch down from the centre front neckline of the bodice…(I’ve raised the neckline from the original pattern but hope this gives a general idea)

Square across (draw a line 90 degrees from the centre front line) along the bodice waist line….this is where your pockets will hang down from.

The next stage involved me standing in front of a mirror with the pattern pinned to what I was wearing while I placed my hand in a series of positions before drawing around it to get a nice pocketty shape.  It’s surprising how big a hand sized pocket needs to be (and in fact I could have made mine a bit deeper).

side slant pockets in dress front

Once I was happy with the pocket position I re-drafted the “skirt” front section of the dress, allowing an inch seam allowance at the top (actually I only needed 1/2 an inch but I was intending to sew French seams but they were a bit bulky and I ended up using a binding after pressing the seam open)

Rather than buy fancy pattern cutting weights to hold down my pattern pieces, I just bought a whole load of square washers from my local iron-mongers…they’re about 2 inches square and are surprisingly weighty.  Because they’re quite thin they don’t get in the way when you’re drawing round patterns and french curves, and best of all they were dead cheap, about 20 pence each.

pocket and lining for dress

Along with the cut away skirt front, your pocket is made up of two other pieces, a piece to fit in where you’ve cut away and then a pocket lining.

You need to draw the fabric grain direction on both of these pattern pieces so they’ll be positioned properly on your fabric, then the pocket will hang nicely (this runs parallel to the grain on the skirt pattern piece.)

My pockets measure 13 inches on the grain line from top to bottom (this includes a half inch seam allowance all round with an extra half inch at the top (which I didn’t actually need as I didn’t go with the French seams.)

They’re about 9 inches across at the widest point.  They sound quite roomy but next time I’d make them a bit bigger.

You’ll notice on the top pattern piece in the above picture, at the bottom of the curve where your hand will fit, there is a short straight line across to the side seam allowance.  This helps the pocket fit in a bit neater when you sew the side seams rather than if you’d just kept drawing the cuved line.  (I hope that makes sense.)

pocket lining with notches

Once all the fabric pieces have been cut, sew any tucks in the skirt front before sewing the pocket together (if not the pocket will only get in the way later on.)

With right sides together, pin then sew the pocket lining to the skirt front.

Once you’ve sewn them together, cut out little notches around the seam allowance of the pocket, these will help the edge of your pocket look neater when you turn it over.  (I’ve got a pair of Merchant and Mills button hole scissors and they are brilliant for cutting notches as they have short and chubby little blades which helps prevent you cutting too deep a notch and going right through your row of stitches.)

pin to stop the lining shifting before sewing

Once the notches are cut, turn over the pocket lining and pin it nice and flat against the skirt front.

top stitch along the seam edge of the pocket

Sewing just a 1/16 th of an inch (or a couple of mm) away from the edge, sew a line of top stitching (you may find this looks neater if you increase your stitch size up a little but if you do, don’t forget to lower it back again)…..this stops the pocket seam rolling out and looks nice and professional.

position pocket front on the wrong side and pin into place

Then pin the pocket back to the wrong side of the skirt front, make sure all the pieces are in position correctly and matching up before sewing it in place.

As this part of the pocket can be seen when you turn your dress inside out you may like to sew a pice of bias binding around the edges for a fancy finsh, or you can use pinking shears to trim the edge of the fabric, or if you have an overlocker you could use that.  This is all done not just to neaten the pocket edge but will stop the fabric fraying.

dress pocket finished

Once the pocket is all sewn in, the rest of the dress is ready to sew….the bodice front fits on top (you’ll want to sew that on first and then the binding over the waistline seam)….the sides of the dress are sewn exactly like in the dottie angel dress pattern, the sides of the pocket are sewn in along with the side edges of the dress so will be tucked into the French seams, and when finished will hang perfect and almost be invisible..

And yes, another blue and orange fabric…purchased at my local John Lewis in their sale section.  It’s quite a wide fabric and I was able to make this using just 1 1/2 meters.

There’ll be pictures of the dress all finished coming soon.

*I did add some tucks and then I unpicked them as I’d sewn them up a bit high and they made me look a bit too bosomy…so next time I’ll make the bodice waistline an inch lower and that should solve that problem.


My grannies paperweight crochet scarf……

tapestry wool grannies paperweight scarf

After what seems like an extraordinary amount of time, my grannies paperweight crochet scarf is now all fit for modelling in the Autumn sunshine….

A few years ago I fell in love with the Grannies Paperweight crochet pattern (otherwise known as the African Flower pattern) after seeing a beautiful blanket on Flickr by Andamento, and after I tried it out using acryllic yarn (and not particularly caring for the results), I then thought it would be the perfect project to make using tapestry wool as that seems to come in a million and one different colours, certainly a wider range than most wool companies produce.

crocheted hexagons for the grannies paperweight blanket

I was very happy with the results, wonderful combinations of colours that took me by surprise blended together perfectly, and making hexagons that varied often only a little in rich and gentle hues and tones of one colour made the crochet pulsate and look like a jewel box when it was being spread out on the carpet while it slowly grew bigger.

While I was still making the blanket I began to think of other ways I could use this pattern and because as soon as the joined hexagons became large enough, I was finding myself wrapping them around my shoulders, I thought about making something I could wear out and about…I love being able to fling something around myself in dramatic and affected way (think Miss Piggy having a full blown diva moment) and so I began work on a scarf.

a vintage palette

While I’ve been crocheting the tapestry wool I’m aware that the wool varies in thickness somewhat from brand to brand, and that I use particular brands differently..

Certain vintage brands like Penelope or Beehive are slightly fuzzy and I think these work best either for round three or for joining the hexagons together. Vintage anchor wool from old needlepoint kits is also very good for joining the hexagons together.

More modern Anchor, DMC and Rowan wools are plumper and seem to work better for the other rounds.

If you live in America then you should be able to source “Elsa Williams” needlepoint yarn (I was lucky to buy some a few years ago via Ebay)…this is a really nice wool, perfect to use for all the rounds.
Jamieson's wool pile


Although you don’t have to use tapestry wool (indeed, if I had the budget I’d use wool from  Jamieson’s of Shetland or Jamieson and Smith as both their colour ranges are really rather breath-taking) it was a lot more affordable than you’d think.  Most of the wool I’ve used has been sourced from Antique shops/flea markets/ jumble sales/ charity shops/car boots….very little has been purchased new (although I’m a sucker for DMC shade number 7120 and I never find that second hand…it’s a lovely soft barely there pink, the colour of faded rose petals)

crochet colourwork 002

Generally before I start anything I like to have a little play around with colour,  I always up-end a big bag of tapestry wool and have a good old mess about with the different wools, comparing colours and different tones together.

And I’ll often paint out combinations of particular colours I have a fancy to before crocheting….sometimes the colours work, sometimes they don’t but I never see this time spent as wasted.

how to granny paperweight in stages 003

To make a scarf you’ll need to start off by making 4 rounds of a grannies paperweight hexagon.

I found it a bit easier to make a dozen or so little circles for the centre of the hexagon at a time, before making them bigger and working on the other rounds..

a basket of woolly centres

(these are a whole load of little half hexagons that I got a tad carried away with making…..)

When I was first trying to learn how to make a grannies paperweight hexagon, the very best tutorial I found for making them  was on lovely  Heidi Bear’s blog, and her tutorial on making them is exceptional, however she makes her hexagons larger than mine,  I prefer to make them smaller as I think it makes the colour more intense.  She also suggests using a 5mm hook but I find a smaller hook size suits me better.

how to granny paperweight in stages 010

I found I got a nicer result when I used two different hook sizes.  (the smaller hook pokes through those top stitches of round 3 a treat and then helps form a nice dense band of colour when you join the hexagons together.

For the first 3 rounds I use a 4 mm hook and then change to a 3.25mm hook for rounds 4 and 5.

As well as changing hook size I also changed the type of hook…I prefer to use a Clover Soft Touch for the 4mm hook and then I switch to a Brittany wooden hook for the 3.25. (The Brittany hook has a lovely pokey tip and I found it was smoother than the Clover one)

playing with crochet hexagons

After you’ve made a dozen or so hexagons (only up to round 4),  you can begin to lay them out, have a play with which hexagons look best together. This bit is so much fun, it’s  rather like a jigsaw puzzle where, although all the pieces are the same shape, positioning a piece in a particular place either works (making all it’s neighbours sing) or looks a bit pants.

joining together corochet hexagons

Once you’re happy with your arrangement, you can begin to join them together,

Heidi has a lovely easy to follow tutorial on how to join the hexagons just here.

The hexagons are placed together a bit like bricks on top of one another, 1, then 2, then 1 then 2 and so on until the scarf is at the length you require.  Both ends of the scarf will be finished with a single hexagon.

crocheted half hexagons fill in the side gaps

The sides will each have a row of half hexagon gaps along them, these will then be filled with half hexagons.

starting fourth colour

I found it easier to make the half hexagons once the whole ones had been made and joined together as they are crocheted back and forth rather than in a round and it gave me a headache trying to switch back and forth.

I was also able to spread the scarf out and make a note of any particular colours I felt were lacking or that I thought would fit in nicely.

joining in

Joining in the half hexagons is a bit more fiddlesome than joining together the whole ones.  At this point I often stop and make a pot of tea.

grannies paperweight crochet scarf, tails and all

Once all the hexagons have been joined together then it’s time to sew in all those troublesome woolly tails.
While I appreciate that there is a way where you can work your woolly tails in while you crochet (and save yourself the what seems like an endless amount of time sewing in umpteen ends) whenever I try to do it that way my crochet looks all lumpy and mis-shapen….so I’m a woolly tail sewer, but if you can do it the other way, then go ahead as it will save you a fair amount of time.
grannies paperweight scarf
Once all the tails are sewn in then the scarf is almost ready.  (if you want you can wear it like this but I find the half hexagons are often a bit lumpy so crocheting all the way around the scarf makes it look a lot neater.

work along the second edge

I used Jamieson’s of Shetland wool (double knit weight) as it was perfect to use for the edging as it was almost the same weight as the tapestry wool.

I used a Brittany 3.25 hook to crochet the edging.

I use slightly less stitches when I crochet across the edge of the half hexagon as it flattens off any “fat tummies” that may be bulging out from the sides of the scarf. (it’s like “magic tummy knickers” for your crochet.)

Once the edging has been crocheted then I’d really recommend gently washing your scarf in a special wool conditioner (tapestry wool isn’t the softest in the world) and then blocking it out and allowing it to dry thoroughly.

grannies paperweigh scarf

The scarf has two “pointy” ends which I think would look fantastic finished with super fat pom poms (however my boyfriend has very somber tastes and I think pom poms on this scarf would be the very end of enough for him.)

Using a little bit of what seems to be about every colour there is going means this will look just  perfect worn with anything, there’s nothing it won’t look spectacular with.

paperweight flowers and a peek of braids

My hexagons are made up of 5 rounds, each round has 2 ends or tails so 10 per hexagon (even the halfsies which doesn’t really seem fair) so that’s 690 woolly tails to sew in when you’re all finished crocheting.

Regarding how much yarn is used…these are approximate measurements as it varies a little on which brand of wool you’re using (as they differ in thickness)

Whole hexagons

round one…..60 inches

round two…98 inches

round three…155 inches

round four…91 inches

round five  (where you join into two sides*)…169 inches

Half hexagons

round one…43 inches

round two…55 inches

round three….87 inches

round four………53 inches

round five  (joining the half hexagon to three sides)…127 inches

Tapestry wool skeins vary from 9 yards up to 15 yards.  There are 36 inches in a yard.

For my scarf I made 43 whole hexagons and 26 half hexagons using roughly about 948 yards of wool for all the hexagons.  I forgot to measure the wool for the edging but it doesn’t use all that much.  (a ball of dk wool will be plenty)

grannies paperweight scarf using tapestry wool

This has really been Inspired  by memories of buying a little paper bag full of fair rock from the shop down the road when I was small (sadly an old time sweetie that doesn’t seem to have been resurrected), mixed in with those beautiful millefleur paperweights that you often find in antique centres and sumptously embroidered velvet collars on evening coats designed by Paul Poiret, I’ve made this scarf so you can wrap yourself all up in every colour under the sun and then some.

Please understand, this isn’t a weekend make, it’s going to take a while (I started mine in the Spring of 2013 or thereabouts and though I wasn’t working on it all the time it won’t be fastest scarf you ever crochet) but I think it’s worth it.

I’d also like to thank Heidi Bears so much for her tutorials which made sense of how to make this hexagon.

Woolly tails, pots of tea and preparing for the Autumn…..

grannies paperweight scarf

Even though the bank holiday had rather wretched wet and windy weather there was a silver lining as it allowed me to nest down on the sofa with endless pots of very nice tea* and finish sewing in all the remaining woolly tails on the back of my grannies paperweight scarf…

I’m not sure exactly when I started making the scarf, sometime in the Spring of 2013 because I’d been working on the grannies paperweight blanket by then and just loved the pattern so much that I then wanted to be able to wear something using it.

Now it’s all made up it reminds me very much of those beautiful turn of the century coats by Paul Poiret that had sumptuous velvet embroideries down the front, and while recently re-watching The House of Elliot**, noticed Miss Evie wearing a rather nice coat that had a raised collar that was all embroidered in what I think of as “Bloomsbury” colours.

Rather than join the hexagons together into a flower shape or cluster of 7, the hexagons are joined 2 on top and 1 to the side with half hexagons used to fill in the gaps.

When I first tried making the half hexagons I found them really difficult and other people’s patterns I’d seen for them weren’t really what I needed to fit into my blanket, however after a bit of playing around I’ve came up with a way that worked best for me so over Christmas I sat down and just made a whole load of them and before I knew it I’d made enough for the tops and bottoms of the blanket (tails of which are still slowly being sewn in….) as well as half hexagons for the scarf….

Then once the half hexagons were all joined in it was a case of sewing in the woolly tails on the back (and yes I know there is a way where you join them in as you crochet along but whenever I do it like that then I get a fat lumpy side and the crochet looks proper peculiar, I can only think it’s because I’m doing something wrong as I’ve seen other peoples crochet worked this way and their’s looks fine…) Each hexagon has 10 tails (even the half hexagons) so they soon add up.  It’s probably the part I like the least, it’s boring more than anything else and I can always find something more enjoyable to sew or work on instead.

However, as the weather was so wet, and rather chilly  I thought it best to get this finished so I can be all ready to wrap myself up and keep warm as Autumn’s presence is being felt. (I do feel the cold something rotten and seem to have a 101 scarves, and it’s the ones I made myself that I always get the nicest comments on….it was great getting stopped by a lady who said “is that the dottie angel scarf” and we then spent a few minutes squidging the puffs of my scarf together.

insert hook in the ponty gap

Once all the tails were sewn in, my scarf was pretty much ready to wear though the sides were a tad on the lumpy side…I decided a very simple edging would probably work the best at pulling in the bumpy bits (the crochet version of magic knickers) and also I didn’t want to do anything too fancy as I knew that would just make the scarf too wide (in the past I’ve made scarves that I could barely see over once they were wrapped around me and when my face gets too covered my glasses steam up.) I’ve used Jamieson’s of Shetland double knitting wool before when I was edging the cushion fronts and thought this would be the best wool to use for a simple single crochet edge.

The rest of the scarf was used in tapestry wool and the Jamieson’s wool has a very similar texture and weight to it.  And their colours are lovely.  I’ve used mint as that seemed to look the nicest against the colours used in the main part of the scarf.

The edging was pretty easy to do though I’m explaining it in a fair bit of detail because when I learnt to crochet I really needed every part shown thoroughly or I just didn’t understand what I was supposed to do…..if you can crochet then please bear with me.

(ohh and I’m using Brittany crochet hooks, they are lovely to use and mean I can crochet all day and not get achy hands or fingers)

First up, make a slip knot and slip it over your hook and tighten, then insert your hook into the gap that you’ll see at the corner of the two sides.  The edging is worked under the stitches, (between the bars) rather than through the chains that lay horizontally around the edge.  Make a chain and then make a single crochet stitch. (This is all UK terminology)

work along the edge

Just keep working along the edge making the single crochet stitches through the bars along the side.

work two stitches into the corner gap

When you get to the end of the side, make a single crochet stitch in that little corner gap and then make another one next to it.  (if you want you can make a chain between them but I didn’t.  I think it depends a bit on the weight of the wool you use…try both ways if you like as the edging is easy to un-ravel if you don’t like it.)

work along the second edge

Now just work along the second side, making a single crochet stitch through each “bar” on the side.

work the corner

When you get to the corner there are two different ways you can work the corner….

You can avoid inserting the hook into the gap at the end of the first side, and instead insert it straight into the gap of the second hexagon (this is what I’m doing in the picture above.) Scoop the wool round the hook and pull it through the gap and continue to make a single crochet stitch before working along the rest of the third side.

I crochet quite tightly and found this looked better for me.  However, depending on the wool you use and how you crochet you may prefer this way….

Insert your hook in to the gap on the first hexagon, scoop up the wool around your hook and pull it through the gap, now with that wool still on your hook, insert your hook into the gap in the next hexagon, wrap the wool round the hook and scoop it through.  You’ll now have what look like 3 stitches on your hook, pull them all through the first stitch on your hook and then continue along the rest of the side with the single crochet stitches.

Whichever method you use, make sure you only go through the corner gaps and not between the two hexagons where they join together.

work along the next edge

When you get to the corner you’ll need to make 2 single crochet stitches in the gap, and again, if you want you can make a chain between them.  It’s completely up to you.

work 12 stitches along the edge of the half hexagon

When you work along the edge of a whole hexagon, crochet between the bars exactly like you did for the previous sides. When you crochet along the edge of a half hexagon it’s a little different.

This time you work just under the bottom of the stitch and you want to make about 12 stitches along the half in total so you aren’t working under every stitch.  I know this sounds a bit odd but I found that this helps keep the bumpy bit in line (think of it working like magic knickers for when you’ve had too much cake).

Try not to make a stitch right at the start and end of a half hexagon so the stitches through the gaps of the whole hexagons have enough space.

continue to work all the way around the edge of the scarf

If you click this picture it’ll come up nice and big and you’ll see the start and end stitch through the gaps in the whole hexagons either side, and then you’ll be able to count 12 stitches along the half hexagon between them.

I promise you it’s a lot easier than it sounds.

Then you just continue like that all the way around the edge of the scarf before joining it off and sewing in those 2 last tails.

blocked end section of grannies paperweight scarf

At this point it really is ready to wear and in the past I would have been out and about with this all draped around me, however this Summer I blocked a couple of scarves and couldn’t believe the difference it made (also tapestry wool which I’ve used is a bit scratchy so giving the wool a gentle wash in a special wool conditioner will help the scarf feel nicer as well as looking much better.)

After a little soak in some lukewarm water and wool conditioner I let the water drain before folding the scarf over and over and then pressing out the water, it’s important not to squeeze or wring it as then it’s going to look a bit rum.

I then laid out some towels out along on the floor which I’d folded a few times so they were a nice thickness and then laid out the scarf.

blocked section of grannies paperweight scarf

Working out from the middle I pinned the scarf at all of the points where the hexagons joined together, and using a ruler made sure that the scarf was nice and even all the way along….I didn’t use special blocking pins just cheap ones that I’d been given but which I found were too thick to use for my everyday sewing (though I’m thinking I may need to get some of the proper blocking pins and some mats for future projects).

The hexagons look a bit “soft” and hazy and in part this is because as you know I’m no David Bailey but also this is the reverse.  I laid the scarf out face down as Bernard will keep laying on things that are on the floor and I didn’t then want this covered with cat fluff. (and I knew if I laid any towels over the top then those pins would only be stood on)

I left the scarf for two days like this and then when it was pretty much dry folded it into four before placing it in our airing cupboard so it could completely dry through and we’d get our living room back.

Pictures of the scarf all finished and modelled will be coming along with all the relevant links to post on how I made it.

*this is the nicest tea I’ve ever had and could happily drink it ’til the cows come home.

**(ooh and if you enjoyed The House of Elliot I’d thoroughly recommend Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries…it’s a good series to watch but the costumes totally steal the show.  It’s set in the Twenties and it’s an Australian drama, one episode even has Shane Ramsey from Neighbours in it doing a well dodgy French accent.  It’s about a lady detective called Phryne Fisher who has a habit of getting into mischief while wearing the most incredible looking clothes.  There’s a fair bit of romance and brief liasions with her and what seems like a new dishy fella occur in each episode but that doesn’t stop her from still flirting terribly with the local police inspector.  It’s available as dvds so you should be able to hire it from your local library.  Essie Davies as Miss Fisher is so good and she really suits those lovely period costumes.

A hexagon how to without sewing through the papers…..

threaded needles

What can I say…it’s like an addiction, little 2 inch wide hexagons have started to take over all and everything…there is a pile of ironing draped over the bannisters upstairs that is threatening to tumble at any moment and a list of chores as long as my arm but all I want to do is make hexagons and sew them together…..

I’ve become like those ladies at Bingo with all their cards spread out before them…instead of cards though it’s umpteen needles all threaded up with different coloured basting and tacking threads, to keep stopping and starting to thread a needle is an interruption to the hexagons so I like to thread up nearly two dozen assorted “sharps” and applique needles and pin them to the cloth on my sewing table…nothing is coming between me and my hexagons.

pin over the first corner

The other day I wrote about how I like to empty out a scrap box of fabric and make hexagons from a proper old assortment of prints and fabrics…..for the most part I don’t fuss too much about ironing the fabric first, I’m happy to just pin and cut round the papers.

When I sew the fabric around my papers I do it a bit differently from how you may have seen other people do it, I don’t sew through the papers but just through the fabric. I don’t have any problems with the hexagons dropping out while I’m working and it saves me the bother of having to un-pick all those tacking stitches.  For the most part I use a generous 1/4 inch seam allowance, veering towards 5/8 of an inch, but even then it’s only guessed at.

I wrote about this briefly the other day but was later asked if I could explain how I sew the hexagons in place so that they aren’t loose and liable to drop out when you pick them up….

I start off placing a hexagon on the fabric, pin though the centre and cut around the fabric leaving the seam allowance…..then fold the fabric over one side of the paper shape and then carefully down over from the top, you want the fabric nice and tight around the paper…and then pin into place, going through both the paper and fabric.  Depending on the type of fabric I’ll sometimes pin every other corner or even every corner if it’s particularly slippery fabric…..however after a while of making the hexagons, you may find for some fabrics you don’t need to pin all the corners but instead can fold the fabric over as you sew round….always pin the first corner though as it keeps the fabric that bit more secure. (it also helps if you have long nails to hold the fabric in place…if not you may find using pins easier)

fold and hold corner into place

Fold the fabric down along the top edge and the bring the fabric over from the side so you have a second corner covered, hold the fabric securely with your thumb nail (apologies for my grubby nails but I’d been weeding earlier in the day)…just like before, you want the fabric to be nice and tight around the paper template.

secure the fold with a series of small stitches

Using a fine sharp needle make a series of small stitches through the layers of fabric but not thought the paper to hold the corner seam in place….

make the stiches as small as you can

Start at the bottom of the fold and carefully make 3 or 4 stitches upwards to the top of the fold…try to use small stitches and insert your needle almost directly under the line of where the fold edge lays….work up to the top and then make one or two stitches back down to the bottom again….keep working round in this manner.

Keep the end pin in place until you are ready to sew the last corner, and keep the central pin in place until the last corner is actually sewn.

finished patchwork hexagon

As you sew the fabric, the hexagon is rotated clockwise however as you move your hands it feels like you are working anti-clockwise so it feels a bit odd to begin with.

Using really sharp and fine needles does help a lot as does using good quality tacking thread….I tend to favour vintage cotton thread as that seems to be less tangley, but more often than not I just pick out what thread is in my sewing basket.

I also find it easier to use a contrasting coloured thread to the fabric so I can see my stitches easier.

For hexagons that have sides wider than an inch, you may like to run your thread along the fabric in a series of small running stitches, still avoiding going through the papers.

I’ve found this method works fine on hexagons with sides of up to 2 inches (4 inches wide across the centre of the hexagon)…when they get bigger than that then you may prefer the security of sewing though the papers themselves as the sides do begin to gape a little.

It’s also better for your needles, we all know cutting paper with fabric scissors will blunt them quicker than anything so sewing through all the papers can’t be good for needles, some needles can be sharpened in a bag of emery but the Clover Black Gold ones won’t like that treatment one bit (the black coating comes off…..

Binding a mitred corner…….

fold over the binding to form a a neat corner


In the last of my posts about binding a quilt, I wanted to explain how to mitre the corner… seems really fiddly and okay, it is a bit, but a neatly mitred corner looks so nice that any fiddlesomeness is well worth the effort.  It’s just important not to rush it.

Once the binding has been sewn into place on the front, fold the binding over along the 1 inch pressed seam so you have a nice folded edge to sew along. The corner neatly folds up and sits on top of itself.


tuck the binding over


Turn the binding over, it pretty much rolls over the edge of the quilt, and will reveal the neatly folded corner that you made when sewing the binding to the front.


hold in position


Pin or clip the corner on the back.  (I like to use Wonder Clips made by Clover)  When you were sewing the binding to the front using a back stitch, a row of stitches formed on the back.  This is the guide for sewing the binding to the back.  It’s important that you’ve clipped enough away from the corner so that the corners can be mitred neatly, so I like to check this by seeing if the corner pulls down comfortably enough to the corners of the sewing guide (where the two lines of back stitches meet).  Sometimes I have to clip a little bit of wadding away if it is still a bit bulky.


clip either side and release central holding pin


Now clip or pin the binding over the edge of the quilt into position.  You can remove the corner clip or pin at this stage as it’s no longer really required.


fold over to inside corner


Nudge the bottom binding right up into the corner, and give it a bit of a press with your thumbnail to stay in place (you can pin or clip it if you like.)


sew along the edge into the corner


Using a slip stitch (in some books it is called a whip stitch) sew along the folded edge of the binding, securing it to the back of the quilt just above the sewn guide line.  Sew the binding in place along into the corner.


fold over  and slip stitch edge of the coner into place


With the needle just tucked out of the way, bring the next side of the binding over and check that it forms a neat edge.  You may need to very slightly tuck the diagonal edge underneath with the point.


fold over other edge and pin or clip into place


Once the seam has been tucked under and the binding edges meet exactly and form a neat diagonal, pin the top binding down into position.


a nicely mitred corner


Turn the quilt over to check that it looks neat from the front.  Sometimes the corner is a bit lumpy, you may need to unpick it and re-sew to neaten it.  This can be caused if enough care wasn’t taken when the binding was sewn onto the front.


bring the needle round to the beginning of the folded corner


Bring the threaded needle out at the bottom of the folded seam.

I like to use Clover Black Gold Applique needles for sewing the binding as I find they’re really sharp and pointy, and are excellent for really fine stitches.


using just tiny slip stitches, sew the fold into place


Carefully slip stitch the folded corner closed.


then continue slip stitching along the rest of the binding


I generally find that tiny stitches make for a neater finish.  When you get to the top, make an extra slip stitch to keep the fold secure, before moving your needle slightly and then slip stitching the next binding edge into place.


the mitred corner from the back


And that is your mitred corner finished.  Once all the corners have been sewn, I turn the quilt over and then hand sew each of the front corner folds down using tiny slip stitches.  I do this last in case any of them need un-picking to reshape in case they’ve come out a bit on the lumpy side.

I hope these posts have shown how easy it is to make your own binding and how to bind a quilt with mitred corners.  At some point I do intend to cover other binding methods that you may not be familiar with.

Sewing the binding to your quilt part two ….

trim the wadding to between quarter and half an inch


Once you’ve sewn the binding in place around the front of your quilt, it’s then time to sew it into position on the back. Begin by trimming both the wadding and backing fabric to between 1/4 and 1/2 an inch over the raw edge of the binding.  It depends a lot on the type of wadding you are using and the sort of binding you are sewing.  For this quilt I’m using a double binding and the wadding or batting is pure wool, so I’ve trimmed to 5/8 of an inch (or what I like to think of as a generous 1/4 inch).


trim the corners before folding over the binding


After trimming all the sides of the quilt, snip the corners across to about 1/8 of an inch. Removing the corners of the wadding makes the finished mitred corners sit flatter and look neater  (my original pictures were really blurry so I made up a little sample edge…which as you can see has also come out a bit fuzzy looking, but hope you will be able to see what I mean about the clipped corners…..)


fold over the fat edge of binding and the wadding should be covered


You can check that you’ve cut enough wadding away by turning over the binding. you don’t want to be able to see the wadding or backing fabric.  It’s important not to cut too much away though, the edges of a quilt get handled a lot so the bound edge needs enough wadding inside it to keep it nice and plump.


the view of the binding from underneath


You can also turn the quilt over to check the binding just peeps over the back.  As the binding is sewn into place and rolls over the edge of the quilt, the wadding folds in on itself, doubling up and forming a strong edge.  The tiny back stitches show you the guide line you will be wanting to bring your binding edge over to.


fold the binding over and clip into place


Up until very recently I used to secure both sides of the biding in place with pins, however, a couple of years ago I was sent a huge box of Clover Wonder Clips and although they took a bit of getting used to, I now think they are brilliant for holding the binding in place. (They’re also very good if when you’re sewing over papers or paper piecing, you don’t get the tiny holes like when you are using pins, and they keep the papers perfectly in place.)

Starting somewhere along the bottom edge, preferably just off from the middle, bring the folded edge of the binding over to the guide line of your back stitching. Pin or secure with a “wonder clip” into place.  Repeat until you have secured about a foot of the binding into place.

When I used to use pins I’d position them pretty close together, the clips have a bit more strength so I place them about 3/4 of an inch apart.


make a knot in one end of your thread and begin to slip stitch along the hem


Normally I never make a knot when I am hand sewing, instead preferring to make a couple of stitches on top of each other to secure the start and finish of what I’m sewing……however, when I’m sewing the back of the binding into place then I do make a small knot in the end of the thread, before slip stitching (or whip stitching) the binding into place.


make your stitches as small and even as possible


Some books call this a slip stitch, others a whipped stitch. The needle only goes through a small amount of the backing fabric (not all the way through to the other side) and then through a few threads of the binding fabric.  The stitches are worked along at a slight angle and it helps if your thread isn’t cut longer than 12 inches.  (too long and it tangles).

You’ll get the best results if you use a fine applique needle or sharp for this.  Clover make two excellent needles for this type of sewing, one is called Clover Gold Eye Applique Needles (at the time of writing they are about £2.50 for 15).  The other ones they make are called Clover Black Gold Applique Needles…okay they are pricey…you may need to sit down at this point…..the last ones I bought cost about £4.50 for 6….. so yeah they aren’t cheap, but ohh, they are sharp, as skinny as a moonbeam and as strong as an ox.

The Clover Gold Eyes ones are really good, and if you have a little emery sharpener then they are a good buy because you can keep them lovely and sharp.  Sadly if you try and sharpen the Black Gold ones then the black coating will come off, but to be honest they won’t really need it (I just wanted to know what would happen if I tried to sharpen one)…….so if like me your purse doesn’t always stretch to such pricey items, you could let family know when it’s your birthday.  (I’ve used the Clover Black Gold quilting needles as well, they are good but I know they aren’t for everyone…however the applique ones…..haberdashery heaven)

I’m still lucky enough to be able to regularly find vintage sharps in antique markets and they are also very good. Blue Dorcas is a particular favourite brand


from time to time turn your work over to check no stitches are coming through on to the front


If you’re worried you’re making your stitches too deep then you can just turn your work over and you’ll be able to see if any offending stitches are coming through.  If they are then you can easily un-pick them and re-sew the binding in place.

Rushing this stage is so tempting because your quilt is nearly finished but you’ll get a much better result if you just sew slow and sew steady.  Also, make sure you’re sitting with a good light source so you can really see your sewing.


use plenty of clips or pins to keep the binding secure


I really do love these little clips. They are such a great colour so are nice and cheery to use, but they also are very good for holding the binding in position.  I’m lucky enough to have a big box of 50, but I’ve seen them in smaller boxes at my local quilting shop.  They are a bit fiddly to being with but as someone who still after many years of sewing still manages to prick herself all the time, they are very forgiving on sore fingers.

Joining the binding around your quilt……

leave enough binding as it makes joining it easier


Once you’ve sewn the binding around the front of your quilt, you’ll need to join the two ends together before being able to sew the binding on the back. It’s a little bit more fiddly than when you joined the binding strips together but only a little bit.


draw a square with a diagonal line on the left side strip


Draw a 2 1/4 inch square with a diagonal line running through it on the wrong side of the left hand tail.  I tuck a cutting mat or a sketchbook underneath the fabric so I’ve got a firm surface to draw on….just peeping at the top of the picture is the little 4 1/2 inch gridded square I use for small patchwork measurements, and it came in very handy drawing the square. Because it’s see-through you can check your square is nice and level against that pressed top seam which you’ve been using to sew along.

The diagonal line you draw this time is from the bottom left to the top right. (once you turn your binding over it rotates and the seam will run the same way as the other seams in the binding. You can always peep under the binding to check. When it’s been a while since I’ve sewn on any binding I think I’m doing this bit wrong, I check underneath and then think “why don’t I just trust my own notes”)


carefully fold on the diagonal line and pin to secure


Checking that you are folding exactly along the drawn line, carefully fold the binding over and with your thumb nail press along the fold and then pin the fold together so it doesn’t wiggle about.


lay the right hand strip over the pinned binding


With the left hand side of binding underneath, carefully lay the binding from the right hand side over it, just smooth it out so it’s nice and flat. Carefully remove the pins keeping the fold in place and now put them along the top edge of the binding and one through the bottom edge.  You need to keep the two pieces of binding in place.


pin into position along the drawn diagonal line


Now this is the fiddliest bit (if I haven’t already got one I make a pot or cup of tea)…..when I showed you how to start sewing the binding in place I said to leave a nice sized gap about 10 inches wide.  This gap means you can turn the binding in on itself and also position your hand in to move the fabric so you can see what you are doing.

Slide your left hand under the binding to support the two pieces of binding.  The pins in the binding are holding 3 layers of binding together and you need to un-slide the pins from the bottom layer and secure them to just the folded over flap. Carefully so you don’t disturb the position of the binding, remove the top pin very slightly so it un-pins from the bottom layer of binding, and then just slide it back through so only the top layer and the flap are pinned together.  I find putting the pin through the folded 1/4 inch seam helps a lot.

Now do the same for the second pin, I find it’s easiest to remove this one and then to re-pin it along the right hand side so it’s at a right angle to the top pin.

Now you should be able to turn the pinned flap of fabric over, and you’ll see your drawn diagonal line.  Pin this carefully into place and remove the two pins from the other side.


check to see that the binding is laying flat and even


Turn your work back and just check that it’s all laying flat and that the two pieces of binding are in the right position.


now sew the binding together along the pinned line


Turn the folded over flap back and sew along the pinned drawn diagonal line (starting and finishing with a couple of over stitches rather than a knot.)  I always end up at this stage with the quilt in my lap all higgledy piggledy while I’m sewing this piece into place.


open out the binding and finger press


Open up the seam and finger press it open (again, putting a small cutting mat or sketchbook under the binding helps to get a nice firm press)….sometimes the wider pressed seam doesn’t quite match up (I think mine was out something like a 1/16 th of an inch), but as it’s just a tiny fraction, that really won’t show once the binding has all been sewn into place.


trim the edges of the flaps to about quarter of an inch


Trim the sides of the flap so you have a neat edge (1/4 of an inch or 5/8) and then continue to sew along the rest of the pressed 1/4 inch seam.

When you come to the open flaps, just sew them down wide open along the pressed seam. Sewing the flaps open makes for a less bulky edge when you turn the binding over.

Sewing the binding to your quilt…part one

pin the edge


Once you’ve made your binding you’ll then want to join it to your quilt.  As a rule I generally start somewhere in the middle of the bottom edge of my quilt.  Lay your binding along the quilt and rather than using the binding right from the end instead allow yourself a spare bit or tail between six to eight inches or so before you begin pinning the binding into position.

Open up your binding and position it along the edge of your patchwork, carefully pin along the pressed line.  I like to pin about 10 to 12 inches of binding into place at a time, more than that and the pins can get a bit prickly in your lap, and I find they also have the tendency to fall off (to only be found later by “Colin”* and his magnetic feet).


sew tiny back stitches along the pressed line


Using a “sharp” needle (“sharps” are long, fine and aptly named, very sharp. They are perfect for sewing patchwork and for sewing the binding into place) and a thread colour that matches your binding, make a small back stitch though the layers of the quilt, and then over stitch it so it is super secure.


continue to sew along the pressed edge


Then continue to make very small back stitches through all the layers, along the pinned edge.  Try to keep your stitches neat and consistent in size.  You really want to be aiming for between 8 and 10 stitches an inch……don’t be tempted to start rushing and making bigger stitches, they won’t keep the binding secure and will end up showing as little gaps underneath when you go to turn the binding over.  Just take your time (it doesn’t have to be completed in 5 minutes)……


flip the quilt over and you will see your tiny stitches on the back


When you turn your work over you’ll be able to see a tiny row of stitches along the backing fabric.  These will act as a guide  when you turn the binding over and sew it to the back.


sew to the grey headed pin


Sewing the corners is a bit tricky…..(at this point I either pop the kettle on and make a pot of tea, or have a Werther’s Original. Armed with those I’m invincible!) Lay the binding flat along the edge and allow it to drape over towards the left….gently score with a thumb nail along the edge of the left side of the patchworks’s raw edge and mark with a pin.

With a second pin (the grey headed one) measure over 1/4 of an inch and pin the spot.


sew to within a quarter of an inch from the corner


Continue sewing your little back stitches to the exact point of the grey pin, and over stitch that final stitch. Tuck your needle into your work a couple of inches away (I had to move my needle in the above photo as it wasn’t quite far enough away, it’s easier if you tuck the needle above the stitched line.)


fold over the binding on the diagonal


Now fold over the binding so it forms a diagonal edge in the corner.  Gently press the fold with your thumb nail. If you’re worried it’s going to wriggle about then you can pin it into place.

Then fold the binding back down along the left hand side.  You need to line up the binding with the raw edge of the binding where you’ve just sewn. A little flap of fabric will be formed at the top of the right hand side of the binding.


carefully insert the needle through


Pin the flap so it doesn’t shift about, rotate the quilt round and then pin along the pressed line of the binding on what is now the new top side.

Un-tuck your needle, now you want to carefully push it through the last stitch made (on the left hand side of the stitch) and bring it out the other side of the tuck.  You need to make sure you don’t sew through the fold made underneath the top section of binding, so with the needle in position you can carefully peer down through the layers from the top to check the needle hasn’t poked through the binding underneath, if the needle has poked through then you can just un-slide it a little so the tip can move along where it needs to come out. (this sounds a lot more confusing than it is.  If you make a test piece you will see what I mean). When the needle tip comes out at the right place, make one small forward or straight stitch and then carefully make another on top before sewing along the rest of the pressed binding edge with small back stitches.


the corner should fold over neatly upon itself


When you’ve sewn some of the binding into position you’ll find you can fold the binding up on itself, and the corner forms a little concentina style overlap.

When you come toward the last side of the quilt, make sure you leave a nice sized gap for where you are going to be joining the two tail ends of the binding together.  I generally like to leave about 10 inches so I have plenty of turning room.

* a reference to The Great Escape and the pin on the floor.

Easy to make binding in whatever print you fancy……

Making your own binding for edging a quilt isn’t hard and it means you can chose exactly what colour and print you want rather than the need to rely on what you see available in the shops.

Although I use pre-cut vintage binding on many projects (such as trimming the sleeve and collar edgings on dresses) I always prefer to make my own binding for quilting.  I’ve got a couple of those brilliant little binding gadgets that you slide the cut fabric through (all the time my fingers seem to be attempting the dance of death as they avoid steam from my iron) and use that when I’m edging pot holders or tea cosies….but I don’t use them for bed or lap quilts because I prefer my binding for those to be doubled.

The edge of a quilt can get a lot of wear and tear, and if you’re making something that hopefully will be treasured and passed on through the family, then over the years it’s going to have a lot of hands touching it (quilts by their very nature are such tactile things that you need to imagine all the scrunching and cuddling it’s going to get).  Doubling the binding means you have an extra layer of protection around your quilt (it’s always possible to re bind a quilt but that isn’t the easiest of chores and I think it makes more sense to use a little more fabric in the first place.)

Anyway, I thought I’d show how I make my binding (this was the way my friend Alison patiently showed me many years ago)…you don’t really need any fancy equipment, though if you have one of those long transparent gridded rulers and a rotary cutter and cutting mat, hoorah…but I’ve made binding with a wooden ruler, pencil, and a pair of fabric shears before and it came out fine….


cut strips of fabric


First of all measure the top and side of your quilt, then double that measurement.  The binding has to go all the way around your quilt.  Then add another 15 inches for turning the corners and to make sewing the two ends together a bit easier.

Press your fabric so it’s as wrinkle free as possible, and then with a long gridded plastic ruler or yardstick , draw a straight line from top to bottom.  Measure along the width of your binding 2 1/4 inches (it’s about 5.5cm….most quilting equipment comes from America and so is marked up in inches which means it’s easier to think in “old money” rather than new) and then either cut with a rotary cutter or draw another line (and cut later with fabric shears)….cut and draw as many lengths of binding as you need.

For my example, my quilt is 30 inches wide and 40 inches long, so that is 30 + 40 x 2 (140) plus the extra 15 inches, which is 155 in total.

The fabric being used for binding is 45 inches wide so when I cut my strips they will each be 45 inches long (and 2 1/4 inches wide) so 1 strip is 45 inches, 2 strips will be 90, 3 strips will be 135 and 4 strips will be 180 inches.  So I need to cut 4 strips. It seems like there is going to be a lot of binding left, but each time you join the binding lengths you are using up some of that extra length allowance before you even begin to work any corners.


place at right angels and mark up corners


When the strips are all cut, lay one right side up and then lay a second one on top at a right angle.  (I have a little 4 1/2 inch square gridded ruler which I find invaluable* for measuring small pieces like this)……..then draw a 2 1/4 inch square on the top fabric and a diagonal line running from bottom right to top left hand corner)


pin the pieces together


Pin the two pieces of fabric together.

(I always seem to use a lot of pins but it’s important the fabric doesn’t shift around)


sew the two pieces together


Sew along the diagonal line, starting and ending with a couple of over stitches.  I rarely make a knot when I’m sewing patchwork and find a couple of over stitches makes for a neater and secure start and finish.



open out and gently press the seam flat


Open out the two pieces of fabric and gently press open with a hot iron.


open and gently press out


When you look at it from the front you will have a nice straight edge top and bottom to the joined binding.


trim the sides


Trim the sides of the binding to a generous 1/4 of an inch.


press the seam about quarter of an inch


Now with a hot iron (and avoiding steaming your finger tips where possible) press over the top edge of your binding about 1/4 of an inch.  If you don’t want to judge by eye then by all means draw a line 1/4 of an inch away for the top edge and then carefully press along that.


now press in half


Now bring the bottom edge of the fabric up to the pressed over top edge, and then carefully press along the bottom.

Your binding should now measure 1 inch wide, and have a 1/4 of an inch flap inside one edge only.

When you use binding gadgets they create a flap on both sides and that is not what you are going for here.

Carefully wrap your binding round your hand and fold it up (secure with a piece of ribbon or wool) and you are all set now to start sewing the binding to your quilt.

If you need to calculate how much fabric to buy to make your binding then I’d measure the quilt and write out the length required on a piece of paper.  Generally speaking fabric bolts are about 45 inches wide (which for your binding is measured as the length), and you know the binding needs to be 2 1/4 inches each section.   So for my example I’d need a piece of fabric that was cut wide enough for 4 x 2 1/4 inches (which is 11 inches).  Depending where you are buying your fabric from, some shops may happily cut a piece 12 inches or a foot wide for you, however, if you’re buying on line then this won’t be an option so you will want to buy a piece that is about 20 inches wide (this is sold as either half a metre or as two joined fat quarters**)…’ll have some leftover but as all quilters know, leftovers soon find new homes in other projects.

* and I’m writing down all the pieces of equipment that I find really helpful when I’m sewing patchwork or making a quilt so will post that in a few days.

**if you’re buying on-line you might want to check how the fabric is sold, a few companies only sell fat quarters which is great for patchwork but bit wasteful if you are making a lot of binding.  For smaller projects, like a cat quilt,  then a thin quarter (10 inches wide) may well be enough.