Stitching News February 2018

This month is already well underway! It is quite extraordinary just how quickly time passes! It has been another busy, and enjoyable few weeks.

I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter which includes:

  • Preparing samples for classes. DSC00079 (2)
  • A mini tutorial on how to sew a zip and lining in at the same time, for a small purse.



  • Photographs and information about other artefacts that I have made this month.


I have taught my “Hussif” workshop, twice during this month. I had groups of delighted ladies, thrilled with their results!

I am teaching it again on Tuesday 6th November for Jane Lockyer at Roseland Mews; places are still available. Please get in touch with Jane if you are interested.

The week before that, (Tuesday 30th october)  I am also teaching a printing workshop: “Printing with Acrylics”. This is also at Roseland Mews. Anyone interested in learning how to make their own printing blocks will be able to make them from erasers; compressed foam, potatoes, or mpount board, and have an opportunity to create and play! The two workshops are totally independent of each other. Although I understand that several students have already booked both, as they would like to prepare some printing to use on their Hussif, the following week!  It is not essential to have a printed panel on the Hussif, that was my choice.DSC00074 (2).JPG

Other choices for the small panel on the front of the bag could be be a “feature fabric” as in the example in this photograph on the right. I actually used the same fabric to line this Hussif therefore using two fabrics, in total. Other ladies prepared some applique, which was prepared beforehand. Everyone was asked to come to the class having followed the cutting instructions before they arrived. This made a vast difference to  how much they achieved on the day! Virtually everyone finished the project in the class time. Three or four had a small amount of hand sewing to do at home. But before they left,  at the end of the day, they had a very recognisable Hussif, with most also completing the pin cushion and needle case!

Please contact Jane if you are interested in either of the classes:

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What is a Hussif? Essentially it is an old term for “a housewife”. Soldiers used to take a Hussif off to war with them. It was a sewing kit; thread, needles, pins, scissors etc, so that they had the means to repair their mufti or uniform when it was required. It took various forms; a roll, or a little bag, etc, whatever they, their mothers, or wives could prepare for them. Every soldier had to have one, and I am told that still applies today…

I have altered an existing bag pattern (which I have made many times over the years) to create my Hussif. I have given it a shorter neck strap, instead of a shoulder strap and have created additional pockets to hold specific sewing equipment relative to the project in progress! The purpose of the neck strap, is so that it can ne worn around the neck, with everything to hand, saving table space. It is immensely useful and mine is in use every day, either hung around my neck or sometimes sat at the side of me, tucked into the arm of the chair.

I designed and wrote this pattern for my Craftsy site, a three years ago;

I also sell it from home emailing it as a downloadable PDF for the buyer to print off.  The pattern is a good little seller, but in order to teach a class, in a workshop situation I have had to adapt and modify the text considerably. The pattern on my Craftsy site has numerous photographs accompanying the text and it also contains a section on making the house printing blocks, and printing onto fabric. In total there are 19 pages.

DSC00023 (2)Clearly, it is totally impossible to give workshop students a hand-out with so many pages. So, I have prepared  stitched samples which demonstrate the stages of construction. There are just a couple more bindings to be added to this sample, and I have now typed the scribbled pencil notes which are attached to it. The text is now reduced to a double-sided page.

Preparing this work has been a fantastic way to update my thoughts as it has totally refreshed the technique in my head! As a complete change I decided to make the sample quite “funky” with every single piece of material in it a different coloured fabric!

This teaching sample will remain un-assembled for as long as it is useful, although I must admit, I have very itchy fingers and would love to sew it up to see what it looks like!

About three weeks ago, my camera packed up! I researched what was available to suit my needs and bought a Sony compact, very similar to my old one, although that was a different make. I didn’t buy the camera case that was suggested, as I like to be able to hang my camera around my neck protecting it in a simple open top “pocket”. This camera is smaller than my previous one and looked totally swamped in the old case!

However, I had a redundant very soft leather phone case which was a perfect size; redundant because it was too small for my current phone! I had a good look at it but sadly when I attempted to put a really sharp strong needle into the leather, I met huge resistance. I admit it wasn’t a leather needle!

DSC00025 (2)The case has a fuchsia pink, soft leather inner lining, besides its turquoise outer leather case. you may be able to see this in the photograph at the side. So, I decided to make a snug fabric case, using  a vintage striped French linen. This would be a new  outer cover, and being quite a substantial linen, I would be able to attach a fabric strap easily. I decided to add a tiny detail to the fabric first, and stitched a fine red line down each side of the white stripes before making it up. Then I pressed the top seam allowances in, and machine stitched the fabric case around the top of the leather case. It worked well!

Finally I made a very narrow denim strap which easily stitched to the sides.20180208_083057

I have always liked to have easy access to my camera and this sort of case allows me to grab the wrist strap, pull the camera out and shoot! No fumbling; easy to use! Yet it is tucked in and very well cushioned by the three layers. I am pleased with the result. Many thanks to textile friend, Edith, for planting the seed that produced this end result. The finished measurement of the case is 3.5″ x  4.75″.




DSC00027 (2)This month I have also made insulating sleeves for our flasks using “Insul-Bright” which is a needled insulating lining, manufactured by The Warm Company. It consists of,  and I quote:

polyester fibers needle-punched through a nonwoven substrate and through a reflective metallized film. The needled material breathes and won’t break down with washing. The fibres resist conduction while the reflective metallized film resists radiant energy. The energy, hot or cold, is reflected back to its source.” 

So, the shinier metal looking side should always face the hot or cold item. I have had this “wadding” for several years, having used it for coasters, but I should imagine that it is still available, or if not then certainly another similar product.

In the November Stitching News I showed a couple of little denim zip purses I had made, accompanied by a mini tutorial on the basic construction of them. I said I would explain how to put a zip and lining in together in the December stitching news.  However, in December I wrote a tutorial on how I had made my Christmas cards that month, as it was topical, so I postponed the zip/lining tutorial. Here it is now, the mini tutorial on:
Sewing a zip and lining in at the same time
It is best to just try out the method on a small item such as a coin purse to start with. The secret to sewing zips in with this method, is to start with a zip which is a minimum of  2″ longer than the required finished size. It doesn’t matter if it is longer than that. Indeed you may find it easier if it is! I have given you as much fine detail about the process as possible, in order to help you get a good result.
  •  Prepare the front and the back of the purse first, by doing any piecing, applique and quilting.

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Only quilt through the main fabric and the wadding. Trim the front and back to exactly the same size, then cut linings to the same measurement.

I have quilted simply, in straight lines, spacing the lines at 1/2″ and 3/4″ apart. A little free machining on the printed rose just adds some depth.

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Place the front of the purse, right side up on the table, with the zip centred, right side down. Match the top edge of the purse zip with the top edge of the purse.



Next, place the lining, wrong side down, on top, covering the zip and matching all edges. Pin, securing all the layers along the top edge of the zip.



DSC00056 (3).JPGNotice the placement of the machine foot, as shown in the photo to the left.

N.B.  I use my 1/4″ foot for this technique and have centred the left hand “prong” of the foot on the zip teeth, approximately 1/2″ before the edge of the fabric sandwich. (In fact I have started about 1″ away, as you can see in the photograph, purely so that you are able to see the position clearly). It is important that you observe this on your machine with your zip, so that you can then see how much pf the zip/purse lies to the side of the right prong of the 1/4″ foot.

Keep your eye on that position, maintaining it as you sew carefully down the side of the zip. This is your guide for sewing in a straight line. At the end, remove it from the machine and pull the lining over to the back, where It will now lie against the wadding.

DSC00060 (2)  In the photograph to the left, I have pinned the corner back, so that you can see the layers of the sandwhich: lining, wadding and front of the purse. Pin close to the zip to keep all layers firmly in position, clear of the zip teeth.

Top stitch along the edge of the zip from the front of the work. I find that if the left prong of the machine foot now runs along the side of the zip teeth, I obtain a close top stitch which looks good and also prevents the lining getting caught in the zip. Pull the zip along and you will see that it runs smoothly.



Repeat the whole procedure with the back of the purse, i.e;

1. Place the back of the purse, right side up, on the table.

2. Centre the zip, wrong side down, matching the top edge of the back of the purse with the top edge of the zip. (This time the zip is now attached to the purse front, of course)! Ensure that all edges match.

3. Place the lining, wrong side down, on top, matching all edges. Pin; stitch; and top stitch.

DSC00063 (2)Next, pull back the zip-pull into the centre, and machine stitch across the left edge where the zip gapes open.

This will keep the zip teeth, close together. It could also be hand stitched. (See photo to the left.)



DSC00066 (2)  Pin the two linings RS together and the back and front of the purse RS together.  You will notice that the zip teeth naturally want to face towards the lining part of the purse…this is correct. Ensure that the  teeth lie closely on top of each other at both ends of the zip.

Draw a pencil line guide, for stitching on, along the top edge of the lining, 1/4″ from the edge, leaving a gap in the centre. (Shown in the photo).


N.B. Start and finish stitching at the sides of the gap, reinforcing the stitching at the start and the end. When you get round to the zip, it may be rather difficult to ease the foot over the thickness of fabric and zip. (I am using denim as one of my fabrics, so it is very thick).

DSC00067 (2).JPGIn fact the foot may come to a full stop against it.  An invaluable aid is amusingly called a “jean a ma jig” …or another trade name is “hump jumper”.  I work with denim a lot, and frequently use this.

In the photograph to the left, you can see that I have placed a “jean a ma jig

under the foot, in the same orientation as the spare one at the front of the photograph.  When in position it will lift the foot to a higher level, and enable the machine to continue stitching, without  any skipped stitches. N.B, It is really important to remember to lower the presser foot lever, after it has been placed in position, even though there may notice no discernible difference, otherwise the threads will tangle and knot when you start stitching again.


DSC00068When the foot has crossed the thick seam and starts to dip down on the other side, lift the presser foot lever again and remove the little tool. Now place it under the front of the foot. Stitch another few stitches, until you can tell that it is no longer necessary when you can remove it again.

The Cotton Patch is a supplier of the “hump jumper”:


click on the site and it wwill take you straight to it. It is slightly different to mine, in that it is double ended and white, but you will be able to see that it works in the same way. (£1.50)

Continue stitching until you reach the zip at the other side. Repeat the whole process, then continue stitching until you reach the gap again. Remove from the machine. Trim the ends of the zip and the corners.

DSC00070 (2)Pull the purse through the gap to the right side. Use a blunt tool to push out the bottom corners of the purse while the gap is still open. Then close the gap, and push the lining down into the purse, again pushing out the corners at the bottom and top of the purse. I use my finger to push up at the closed end of the zip. You can really “square up” that corner, and ease the open top corner of the zip, easing the lining down flat against the body of the purse.

DSC00071 (2)  The final photograph shows the finished purse with, possibly my favourite tool. It is called a “Purple Thang”. It has a pointed end and a square end, and I use it for pushing out corners; helping me to turn narrow tubes such as (arms and legs) through to the right side before stuffing! It is invaluable. I make many small, and often fiddly artefacts, and wouldn’t be without it. Again, the Cotton Patch stock them
Diary dates:

Sat 28th April 2018 – Sat 5th May 2018. (Excluding Sunday)  10am – 4 pm.  George Room, Subscription Rooms, Stroud GL5 1AE. An exhibition of textiles by Pauline Cullimore, Janet Grist and Sylvia Hammond. “Three by 3:  Homage to Vivaldi”.  Part of SIT Select 2018   Admission Free 

These three very talented ladies met whilst studying at Gloscat for Patchwork & Quilting City and Guilds certificate and diploma. I am delighted to say that they were all students of mine for four very happy years. They have remained good friends and get together every 2-3 years to hold an exhibition in Stroud, Gloucestershire. For this forthcoming exhibition they are very pleased to be part of SIT Select.
Lots of tips and ideas in this post. I hope you have enjoyed reading it. I Wonder how many of you already uses a jean a ma jig, or a hump jumper?