Tag Archives: Sewing

Feature :: Geometric Coasters for Love Sewing issue 36

I got the chance to work with some fab prints for my latest project for Love Sewing Magazine, what a treat!

Geometric Pieced Coasters for Love Sewing issue 36

There were so many prints to choose from, I was like a child in a sweet shop! This is a great project for using up scraps as it only needs small amounts for each section.

Pieced Fabric Coaster for Love Sewing issue 36

These geometric coasters are also a great project for practicing your precise stitching skills. Sew super straight and stop in the right place for perfect results!

To give a nice firm result I used an extra thick felt that I sourced from the Wool Felt Company

Love Sewing issue 36

If you are looking for a copy of Love Sewing you can pick it up in most news outlets or you can order a copy through the More Mags website

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Feature :: Glitter Heart Purse for Love Sewing issue 35

Issue 35 of Love Sewing features a little glittery clutch bag designed by me! Have you seen it?

Heart Glitter Clutch for Love Sewing

As bags go it’s quite a quick make and you can let your creative side run free and play about with the colour and placement of the hearts. Wouldn’t it look great with loads and loads of hearts in a whole rainbow of colours?


To make this bag however I used a selection of pink vinyl from a Rainbow of Stitches. They were really great to work with, it was like sewing through butter!

A Rainbow of stitches sells this glittery vinyl in loads of different fab colours, of which I particularly like their Black and Silver collection!

Let me know if you make a glittery heart clutch, it would be great to see it !Love Sewing issue 35 front cover

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NEW Pattern :: Penguin Applique

My daughter loves penguins. When I say love, I really do mean love! Somehow penguins seem to be adorning everything she owns. I therefore couldn’t resist designing a penguin applique pattern.

Penguin Applique T-Shirt

This penguin applique pattern is relatively simple and quick to make. In the instructions I have included my thoughts on some of the stitches you might like to try when appliqueing* your design.

To make sure that your project runs as smoothly as possible I have digitally drafted the pattern pieces and included step by step photographs and instructions.

Penguin Applique T-Shirt

The pdf is 7 pages long, of which 2 pages are the pattern pieces. Useful to know if you are keen on saving paper and printer ink!

Penguin Applique Sample Pages

Once you have made something with your penguin pattern use #penguinapplique on social media so that we can all see how you have got on. I truly love seeing all of your work.

*I’m sure you’re not allowed to turn French words into adjectives in this way!

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What’s In The Kit….a little video about what’s in the Christmas Friends Finger Puppet Sewing Kit

Did you know that I sell kits of some of my Finger Puppet Sewing Patterns?

My Christmas Friends are one of my most popular ranges of finger puppets. I sell the sewing patterns as digital downloads and the great news is that I also sell them in kit format.

Sewing kits are great for gifting to someone who loves to sew or someone crafty looking for a new challenge. Sewing kits are also great for when you want to make something but don’t have everything to hand (not usually the case in my house!).

My Finger Puppet Sewing Kits include everything* you need to make a set of Christmas Friends Finger Puppets

Christmas Friends Finger Puppets Sewing Kit

Cute aren’t they? Seriously check out the antlers on the reindeer!

Now, all of my product listings tell you all about what you get in the kit and there are even photographs of the felt and instructions, but you know what? Buying online can be tricky, everything is so flat and you can’t touch and feel what you’re buying (which is why I so rarely buy clothes online, how about you?).

I therefore decided to make a video demonstrating what you get in the kit. Go on, have a watch……

What do you think? Does it give you a better idea of what you are buying? Hope so 🙂

You’re obviously now desperate to buy a kit aren’t you? Well, look no further. You can buy a kit from my shop, Little Black Duck on Etsy or Little Black Duck on notonthehighstreet.com

If you have a good stash of felt (I’ll not tell anyone) you can buy a pdf download of any of my finger puppets from Little Black Duck on Etsy, Little Black Duck on Craftsy or from my shop.

* the only thing you need in order to make up the finger puppets from the kit is a small pair of sharp scissors

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FREE :: Tutorial for Little Pillows

Emily came rushing downstairs the other day….’Mum, let’s do some fun stuff!’

Apparently fun stuff was making some little cushions for her toys….who would have thought it!

So, here we go, a quick free tutorial for making some little pillows, you know, just in case you need to do some ‘fun stuff’

Mini Pillows Free Tutorial

Materials Required

:: Small pieces of fabric. Quilting cotton is great
:: Ric-rac
:: Co-ordinating thread

Equipment Needed

:: Rotary cutter, mat and ruler OR marking pen and scissors
:: Pins
:: Sewing machine
:: Hand sewing needle

Sewing Method

:: Cut 2 rectangles. I cut two 4″ x 8″ and two 4″ x 4″ as Emily wanted two pillows and I didn’t have enough ric-rac in the stash to make them any bigger!

Mini Pillows - cut fabric

:: Take one pillow piece, place right side up and pin ric-rac around the circumference, lining up the tops of the ric-rac wiggles with the raw edge of the fabric. Don’t turn the ric-rac too tightly around the corners or it will not sit nicely when you turn it through. Overlap the ric-rac where it meets and ensure raw edges of ric-rac are extending past the raw edge of the pillow.

Mini Pillow - pin ric-rac in place

:: Baste ric-rac in place about 1/8″ from the edge. I know, basting can be a pain and feel like an extra step, but you (and the ric-rac) will be all over the place if you don’t!

:: Place the second pillow piece right side up and position first pillow piece (the one with the ric-rac basted onto it) on top. Pin in place and sew around the outside edges, leaving a 1″- 2″ gap for turning through (gap depends on the size of your pillow and how much you like hand sewing!). Use the basting stitches as a guide and sew just inside this line.

Mini Pillow - sew circumference

:: Turn through to the right side, push out the corners and stuff to your preferred firmness.

Mini Pillow - turn it and stuff it

:: Hand stitch the opening closed with a ladder stitch.

Mini Pillows all done

Job done! One happy 4 year old and a comfy clan of soft toys!

Mini Pillows


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FREE :: Tutorial for a Play Pet Lead

When you sew you get all sorts of requests to sew this or repair that, but my favourite requests are …..‘mum, can you sew me….?’. Now these are requests that I really don’t mind. They tend to be requests for totally daft things and more often than not it’s much more fun than taking up a pair of my husband’s trousers!

This time around it was ‘mum, can you make me a lead for my puppies?’ Emily loves playing with all of her toy puppies and has even decided that when she is older she would like to be a vet (or a hula girl!), so how could I resist making her something special to go with her pets!

So, without further a do, here is my Free tutorial for a PLAY PET LEAD*

Play Pet Lead Tutorial

Materials Required

:: Approx 4″ strip, full width of the fabric (selvedge to selvedge)
:: Lobster claw clasp with D-ring attachment
:: Co-ordinating thread

Equipment Needed

:: Rotary Cutter, mat and ruler (optional, but makes life a lot, lot easier)
:: Sewing Machine
:: Edge stitch foot (again, optional but will make life easier)

Sewing Method

:: Measure the inside of the D-ring section of your lobster claw, mine in the picture below was 3/4″.

Lobster claw clasp

:: Using your rotary cutter (or scissors) cut a strip of fabric, straight across the whole width (selvedge to selvedge) 4 times the measurement you took in the first step. Fold and press in half along it’s length.

Press in half

:: Taking each side in turn, press the raw edges into the middle of the strip. You should end up with something that looks like twice folded bias binding.

fold in half twice folded strip

:: Open out each short end and turn in a 1/4″ seam and press. Fold the strip back to how it was before and press again.

fold in the ends

:: Edge stitch all the way down each side of the strip, back stitching at the start and end of each row of stitching.

edge stitch

:: thread one end of the strip through the d-ring section of the lobster claw clasp and pin in place about 1″ from the fold. Stitch in place.

attach lobster claw IMAG0239

:: At the other end of the strip, make a 6″ loop, stitching in place at the base of the loop

make the loop IMAG0241

There you have it, one Play Pet Lead*!

play pet lead

If you make one* let me know, I’d love to hear how you got on!

*please, please, please only make this for or give to an older child. Use your discretion when gifting this Play Pet Lead x


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Top Tip :: Dealing with Wide Seam Allowances

I am teaching my Sleeveless Top Workshop at the moment. We are using the Sorbetto Top from Coletterie. It’s a great pattern to use when you are starting out with sewing as there are so many skills to lean in one super stylish project.

Sleeveless Top Workshop Main Image

The Sorbetto features a 2″ wide pleat down the centre front. Now, sewing in a straight line can be tricky at the best of times, but when you are sewing a wide seam or hem then it can be even more tricky….especially when you are new to sewing. The problem being that if the seam (or hem, or pleat) is wider than the throat plate on your machine then you lose your traditional points of reference.

I like to go down the elastic band route. Just slip an elastic band over the free arm of your machine at the appropriate distance from your needle and you have yourself a new seam guide!

Dealing with wide seam allowances

Do you fashion yourself a seam guide when dealing with wide seam allowances, hems and pleats or do you just ‘wing it’?


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Little Black Duck Roundup of 2013

I got an email from wordpress the other day with a review of how my blog ‘performed’ over the last 12 months. It had a run down of my most popular posts, where my readers are coming from and who the top commenters were. All very interesting and it’s nice to have a proper look back at what’s what.

I’ve also seen a number of people posting a review of what they’ve been up to the past 12 months. It got me to thinking….what exactly have I been up to.


Considering the ‘spare’ time I have available I’ve done a relatively decent amount of sewing….although the majority (erm, maybe all) of it seems to have been for the girls. Some of the sewing was done under my own steam, and some was prompted by the Kids’ Clothes Week series

2013 Sewing

Top Rows: Sally Dress, Pink Chevron Skirt, Bubble Shorts, Bubble Dress
Middle Row: Music Box Jumper Dress, Bubble Dress, Blue Chevron Skirt, Sally Dress
Bottom: Schooldays skirt

New Sewing Patterns and Sewing Kits

2013 was my first full year of designing sewing patterns and pulling together sewing kits. Sometimes it feels like I am treading water, but when I look back at what I’ve managed to do I am pleased with the output. Maybe this year I’ll get even better at juggling a family and a business. Practice makes perfect!

2014 Sewing Patterns and Kits (1)

 Top Row: Woodland FriendsChristmas FriendsEaster Friends
Middle Row: Doll and Teddy Sleeping BagSewing KitsOwl Mini Bag
Bottom Row: Farmyard FriendsIndividual Finger Puppet PatternsHalloween Friends

FREE Tutorials and Templates

I’ve written a couple of free tutorials and published a few free templates for you to use in your crafting

2013 Tutorial Roundup

Clockwise from top left: Cutting felt using freezer paper, Strictly Scorecards, Fairy Bridge, Star Templates, Heart Templates, Matryoshka Finger Puppets

Pinned It, Tried It

In the latter part of the year I started a series called Pinned It, Tried It. I decided that I was spending too much time pinning and not enough making, so here’s my start on making just a small percentage of the projects that I pin

2014 Pinned It, Tried It

Clockwise from top left: Tooth Fairy Pillow, T-shirt painting, Superhero Outfit, Repairing Jeans


I manged to complete a massive four knitting projects. Poor attempt hey? I have two quite decent work in progress jumpers/sweaters that need finishing…maybe a job for January, or at least before the end of Winter!

Knitting 2013

Left to Right: Scalloped Hat and Wrist WarmersGiant Granny SquareCabled Mittens

So all in all, that’s a none to shabby year (in my opinion!) considering that there’s (not always so) normal life to deal with, Charlotte only started full time school in September and I had a manic Christmas to deal with. Overall I’m quite pleased

For many reasons I am looking forwards to what this year will bring….no promises!

Have you had a look back about what you got up to in 2013? Leave a comment here and I’ll pop by and have a look!

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New Winter coat for Charlotte: Burda 9501

For the last two Winters Charlotte has been wearing  a fab coat that we bought her in the sale from No Added Sugar. She has finally grown out of it and it’s now Emily’s turn to have it….a bit sad to have hand-me-down clothes, but you know what it’s such a great coat, fantastic quality. Still not sure I could have brought myself to pay the original price for it though!

I’m on a bit of a sewing mission at the moment so I decided that I would make her a coat for this Winter. There are so many coats in the shops that are of the puffa variety, or are acrylic based and I wanted her to have something unique and nice to wear at the weekends (not sure she’ll be allowed to wear it to school)

I went into Watson and Thornton over the Summer to look for a pattern (figured I wouldn’t have time to draft one of my own) and buy some fabric. As soon as I mentioned what I was looking for I was dragged across the shop to be shown some gorgeous new wool that had just been delivered…it was even still in the protective plastic wrapping

It is a double faced wool and cashmere mix…grey with cream spots on one side and cream with grey spots on the other. It is completely lovely and just so soft


Even better still is this amazing selvedge


Stunning isn’t it! Sadly Charlotte is a little on the short side to make use of it in her coat (it’s 11″ deep) so I’m trying to figure out how I can put it to good use. Maybe an infinity scarf for me, a job for another time I think!

The pattern I have chosen is Burda 9501. It’s a nice classic design that I’m hoping will look good on Charlotte. If all goes well I may even make a lightweight coat for Emily for the Spring.

With a commercial pattern such as this I normally trace off the size I need and save the pattern for future possible use. The other day however I read an interesting tip about not tracing off patterns…have a read and see what you think. It came from the Collette Sewing Tips newsletter, Snippets

Sally Dresses All Sewn Up

I am so pleased that I can finally share with you the Sally dresses that I made as part of the testing that I did for Shannon of luvinthemommyhood fame

In this household I can’t make something for one, without making for the other, especially when it comes to dresses! I am such a sucker, and love to see the girls wearing something that I have made for them. So, two dresses it was…

First up was Charlotte’s dress, the size I was actually testing for Shannon. The dress for Charlotte was made with some fabric from my stash that I think I picked up a few years ago in Spotlight in Australia

Sally Dress Charlotte FrontThe Sally dress is a rally fab pattern and the dress doesn’t take long to make. I love the shoulder detail and the fully lined bodice, and of course, Charlotte loves the cavernous pockets!

Sally Dress Charlotte Pocket

Charlotte loves how she can take it off on her own without any help or fuss as the Sally dress has been designed without any tricky zips or buttons. But best of all, Charlotte loves how it twirls!Sally Dress Charlotte Twirl

So, I have a question for you….When is a dress not a dress?

Sally Dress for Emily Shoulder Detail

Well, in the case of Emily a dress is not a dress if it’s not a Pretty Dress. I’m not totally sure what the definition is of a Pretty Dress, but I think it has something to do with a full skirt and a pretty pattern. Emily is such a ready to go rough and tumble kind of girl, but she just loves to wear dresses. Skirts and tops are just not good enough and as for trousers and jeans…pah!

Sally Dress for Emily Pocket Detail

Dresses have to be Pretty Dresses and thankfully the Sally dress seems to fit the bill! Sally Dress for Emily Front Detail

Emily also love the twirliness of the Sally dress and the large pockets, she can fit all sorts in there…including stones from the garden…told you she was a bit rough and tumble.Sally Dress for Emily

The fabric I used for Emily’s dress is called Fiesta and came from my local fabric store Watson and Thornton. They are so friendly and helpful in there, I am lucky to have such a great shop nearby.

The Sally dress comes in three different styles. I chose the sleeveless version to make, but there is a version with short sleeves and a version with 3/4 length sleeves. If time allows I will be making Emily a Sally dress with short sleeves in some really sweet printed needle cord that I have.

If you fancy making a Sally dress of your own, or more likely one for a little girl (the pattern comes in sizes 2-8), then you can buy and download yourself a copy from Shannon via Very Shannon or Etsy

This pattern comes highly recommended by me! Have fun sewing