Behind the Scenes: Long-arm Quilting

I’ve recently had the pleasure of meeting Val and John, husband and wife, and owners of DaisyMay Quilting in Martlesham Heath, Ipswich. Val and John have been long-arm quilting prized quilt tops since 2011. Valerie’s passion for quilting and John’s love of all things mechanical turned out to be the perfect combination needed to start their own business. Val and John’s prized long arm quilting machine, a Gammill quilter with Statler Stitcher and Breeze Track, came all the way from America and had to be made shorter to ensure it fit into their home!

I arrived with my quilt top and backing, eager to see the process in action – and what a fascinating experience it was! I found myself in awe at the size of the quilting machine and nothing short of amazed at the amount of preparation and skill involved in long-arm quilting – having never seen the process in action before, I had pictured the machine just getting on with the quilting. In reality, the time spent quilting was a fraction of that spent preparing the fabrics, setting up the machine and aligning everything, and totalled some three hours for my small quilt.

First the top and backing were pressed to within an inch of their lives. Then we pinned the top and bottom edges of the backing onto the rollers. These were turned to hold the fabric taught and large clips applied to each edge to dampen unwanted vibration. Onto the backing went the wadding, which was stitched to the top edge to hold it in place. Once the wadding was secure, the next stage involved positioning the quilt top onto the wadding, basting it into place along the top, then down the sides in four sections, finishing up at the bottom of the quilt. This step ensures that whilst being quilted, the top doesn’t shift and that the top, wadding and backing all stay lined up, helping to prevent pesky ripples.





Before any quilting could be done, John first needed to set up the computer, establishing the design, the positioning and how many repeats per row. We opted for the Robinia pattern in a beautiful lilac thread, a contemporary, simple trailing leaf design which we felt would reflect the floral elements in the fabric and emphasise the beauty of the Gutermann fabrics.



Then came the moment I’d been waiting for – John pushed the start button and after a single stitch to pull the bobbin thread up, the machine was off, snaking its way across my quilt, with John standing constantly by to ensure a perfect result. It was truly mesmerising! Due to the size of quilts, they need to be quilted in sections, in my case two rows of stitching at a time; each time John had to reset the stitching, alter the position of the quilt on the rollers and ensure everything lined up, as well as checking that the pattern was still in line with the previous rows.



It’s clear to see John and Val have such a passion for quilting and turning fantastic quilt tops into professionally finished treasures. Usually clients will drop off a quilt top and backing and return a few weeks later to pick it up completed. Val and John’s clients tend to be local but their reputation for exceptional quality and customer service is quickly growing and DaisyMay Quilting is increasing in popularity further afield, too. If Ipswich is a bit far for you to travel, Val and John are happy for tops and backing to be sent in the post and to return the finished item in the same way. They offer a growing selection reasonably priced backings and waddings and Val also offers a binding service – she is well known for her trademark piped binding! DaisyMay Quilting offer incredibly competitive prices (just take a look at the cost calculator on their website) and you can be sure you’ll receive top notch service that will do your quilt justice.

If you’d like to make this quilt top, instructions will be in Simply Homemade magazine over the next few months. I’ll be sure to keep you posted when it’s out!

Website: http://www.daisymay.biz

Email: info@daisymay.biz

Phone: 01473 625951




Project: Matryoshka doll



Toys stuffing
24 x 8cm Purple cotton
6 x 6cm White cotton
5 x 5cm Floral cotton
9 x 10cm Pink cotton
4 x 4cm Beige cotton
2 x Seed beads
20cm Leather thong
15 x 20cm Bondaweb
Iron and ironing board
Sewing machine
General sewing supplies
Walking foot
Needle and thread


From purple:
2 x Body

From pink:
1 x Shawl

From beige:
1 x Face

From white:
1 x Petticoat

From floral:
1 x Dress


Download these templates and print at 100%


1) Following manufacturer’s instructions, adhere Bondaweb to the wrong side of all fabric pieces except purple.

2) Trace pattern pieces listed in the cutting list onto the back of the Bondaweb and cut out neatly.

3) Cut out Body pattern pieces from purple fabric.

4) Using the main picture above as a guide, peel the paper backing off and position pieces in the following order onto the right side of one purple body piece: petticoat, dress, shawl, face.

5) Adhere into place by following manufacturer’s instructions.

6) Attach walking foot to your machine, lower feed dogs and set stitch length to 0. Carefully sew the detail along the bottom scalloped edge of the shawl piece, around the curves edge of the dress and petticoat pieces and around the face. Remember to stitch in place at start and finish to secure thread. To finish off, sew a small mouth. Trim and threads.

7) Using needle and thread, sew on two seed beads as eyes (these can be black or any colour, but I chose green as I love the colour!).

8) Place the front and the purple back piece right sides together. Fold the leather thong in half and at the top of the head, slip it between the two layers so the ends are poking out from the top of the head by approx 1cm. Pin in place.

9) Raise the feed dogs, change back to a regular presser foot and set stitch length to 1.5. Sew around the edge of the doll shape, through all layers and over the thong at the top of the head, leaving a 5cm gap along one side for turning. Clip seams.

10) Turn doll through the turning gap and roll seams between fingers. Press really well.

11) Stuff your doll until you’re happy with how she looks and close up the gap with a slip stitch.

12) You can give her another gentle press with the iron on cool and hang!


Recipe: Butternut squash and pearl barley soup

butternut squash soup

This super quick, super yummy soup has real substance. Great for when you’re in need of comfort food, but low on calories and big in vegetables!

Serves 10 hungry people (and ideal for freezing)


1 butternut squash
6 large carrots
2 white onions
1tsp cumin
1 handful pearly barley
1.5tsp vegetable bouillon
Hand blender

1) Peel and chop butternut squash, carrots and onions into 1 inch chunks.
2) Pop bouillon, cumin and pearl parley into a large saucepan along with all the vegetables and pour in enough cold water to just cover the vegetables.
3) Bring to boil and simmer for 45 mins with lid on.
4) Add plenty of pepper until you are happy with the flavour.
5) Remove from heat, wait to cool, then blend with a hand blender. You want to make sure any big lumps of vegetables are blended but strill keep the texture of the pearl barley.
6) Reheat and serve with a chunk of freshly baked bread.


More embossing fun!



I’ve been playing with heat embossing a lot lately; watching the powder change to a plastic-like substance in front of your very eyes is fascinating. The lovely guys at DoCrafts sent me a box full of goodies to experiment with. Armed with my heat embossing tool (thanks to the chaps over at Hobbycraft), I set about more stamping!

Hopefully  these images will give you some inspiration and maybe tempt you to give heat embossing a try.


The lovely bronze powder I’ve been experimenting with here are by Papermania  from DoCrafts. DoCrafts also sent some sparkly powders (and a bright pink one) which I’ve not had a chance to try yet.


I really love the bronze and clear embossing powders – the fine texture I’ve found results in a better, cleaner finish. The button stamp is adorable and was actually a free gift from the last issue of Simply Homemade magazine!


The more I play with these powders the more I wonder what effect they would have on fabric! Another time, perhaps. If you’re a fan of heat embossing, why not post a picture of your makes on our Facebook page? We’d  love to see what you’ve made!

The embossing powders I used today are available from the DoCrafts website. They’ve got a great selection of papercraft prodocts to choose from. 







Anna Maria Horner Mini Star Quilt



12 x 12in Square


1 x FQ Anna Maria Horner, Dowry, Reliquary in Water (Nostalgia)
1 x FQ Anna Maria Horner, Dowry, Tangle in Moss (Retrospect)
1 x Fat 16th Anna Maria Horner, Dowry, Dresden Bulbs in Rose (Nostalgia)
1 x Fat 8th Anna Maria Horner, Dowry, Cracking Codes in Petal (Nostalgia)
14 x 14in Wadding
Walking foot
Contrast/co-ordinating thread and needle
Rotary cutter and mat


Fabric for this project is Anna Maria Horner’s Dowry collection. For stockist information, visit makeitcoats.com or call 01484 681881.
1/4in Seam allowance throughout.
Cut out the pattern pieces, leaving 1/4in all the way around the edge of the pattern pieces. When printed, each pattern piece should be 10.5cm on both outer edges. To do this, save the image onto your computer and print at 100%.
We’ll be cutting fabric for this as we go.


Pattern pieces

1.Print out the pattern pieces. The pattern pieces above are for 1/4 of the pattern so you’ll need to print this four times at 100%. Draw a line around each section with a 1/4in gap. This will act as your seam allowance. It’s important to do this as otherwise it won’t fit together correctly at the end.

2. Cut out each section on the line you’ve just drawn. Take one section. You will be sewing on the right side and sewing the fabric to the wrong side of the paper. You will be sewing all pieces in numerical order.

3. Take a piece of fabric at least 1⁄4in larger all around than Section 1. For this I used Cracking Codes in Petal. Hold this up to the light and place it wrong side to wrong side against the paper so at least 1⁄4in hangs over all edges of the section. Now take a piece of fabric that is at least 1⁄4in bigger than Section 2 all the way around. If you are new to foundation piecing it is a good idea to cut fabric bigger than you need.

4. Place Section 2 right-side up against the fabric for Section 1. Make sure the edge overlaps the line that joins section 1 and 2 by at least 1⁄4in. You need to position the fabric so that once it is sewn along the 1/2 line and is opened out, it still overlaps all edges of Section 2 by at least 1⁄4in. Sew onto the right side of the paper pattern, through both layers of fabric with a straight stitch set to 1.5 in length. It is important to sew accurately.

5. Fold the paper on the line just sewn and trim the seam allowance down to an accurate 1⁄4in using a rotary cutter and mat.

6. Open out the fabric against the back of the paper pattern and press well, making sure each seam is pressed open to reduce bulk. Work in numerical order, sewing the line between Section 2 and 3 next. Take another piece of fabric (at least 1⁄4in bigger than Section 3), place it right sides together with Section 2. Make sure it overlaps the Section 2/3 sewing line by at least 1⁄4in then sew along that line. Fold the paper back on the line you’ve just sewn, trim the seam allowance back to 1⁄4in as before and press the fabric open. Work this way to complete each section.

7. When each section is complete, trim each section down neatly to the line you drew around each section at the start.

8. Sew two sections together at a time until you have four triangles as shown below.

Star quilt section diagram

9. Sew these together so you have two halves of the final piece then sew these together to look like the diagram below.


10. Press well.

11. Cut strips of Tangle in Moss fabric 2 1/2in wide and sew together to create a length approx. 42in long.

12. Trim into two sections 8in long and two sections 13in long. Sew 8in sections to top and bottom of main block. Press seams open.

13. Sew the two longer sections to the remaining sides of the main block. Press seams open. Press whole quilt top.

14. Layer backing, wadding and block top together and pin.

15. Set stitch length to 0, lower feed dogs and starting in the centre, sew a stippling pattern all over.

16. Square up if needed.

17. Cut 1 1/4in strips of Cracking Codes in Petal for the binding and sew ends together to create a length 60in. Press in half lengthways and then press edges to centre.

18. Sew binding to the edge of the mini. Start sewing about 10cm along the strip, in the centre of one of the sides using a 1/4in seam allowance.

19. To mitre the corners, check out my 30 second video below to clearly see how to create mitred corners.

20. Stop sewing about 10cm from where you started sewing. Take the two ends of binding and lat them along the remaining unsewn edge of the quilt. Where they meet, finger press the fabric back on itself then press again with the iron. Take these pieces right sides together and hold away from the rest of the quilt. Sew together along the pressed line using your machine. Trim any excess and this section should now neatly lie flat against the edge of the quilt. Sew along using 1/4in seam allowance as you did with the rest f the binding.

21. Fold over to back of quilt and hand sew to back with a slipstitch.



Playing with heat embossing…



The lovely chaps over at Hobbycraft LINK sent me over a fabulous selection of rubber stamps, their own Hobbycraft heat embossing tool and Papermania embossing powders, and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in, having seen what the results looked like on Pinterest.


I had a big stack of gift tags I wanted to experiment with. The clear ink pad meant that impression left on the car was clear and that I could use any colour embossing powder with it. Firstly, I separated out each stamp into individual ones. You can stick them onto a hard surface which would make the stamping process a lot easier but I didn’t have anything I could use at the time and found it tricky to remove the stamp from the card without it shifting and leaving a slightly smeared impression.


So, I decided on my stamp, pressed the 3D side of it into the embossing ink pad and pressed it firmly onto my gift tag. I then took the embossing powder and sprinkled it generously onto the area I’d stamped. As a side not, it’s best to do this on a large piece of paper as it makes it easier to clear up after and pour the left over powder back into the pot without tipping it all over the floor (or yourself!). Once completely covered, I tipped the powder off onto the paper, tapping the card to get any stray particles off. The embossing powder sticks to the ink but still has the appearance of grains.


I then took the embossing heat tool and plugged it in. This is very easy to use, just plug in and switch on! I held it at a 45 degree angle to the card, pointing it away from myself as it got incredibly hot. I did have to move my fingers back once or twice! After 10-20 seconds then powder starts to change form and turns into a glossy, shiny, plastic effect. I left mine to cool for a minute and viola! My first attempt below shows where I’d accidentally moved the stamp as I picked it off the card.


After a few attempts I established that the simpler stamps looked much more effective, though it was fun to play around with the finer ones, I found it more difficult to get  cleaner finish. I particularly love this bee that I found on eBay and the dandelion seed heads from the Hobbycraft rubber stamp collection.

Keep your peepers peeled for another post coming soon where I experiment more with papercrafting and heat embossing (plenty of pretty pictures to follow, too!).

The heat tool I used is Hobbycraft’s own brand, (567263) £13, Clear Ink Pad (564837), £5 and a selection of rubber stamps from their own range. Hobbycraft also supplied Copper Papermania Embossing Powder (570011) $4. All products listed above can be purchased from the Hobbycraft website. They’ve got a great selection of papercraft products to choose from. 




5 Fab ways to store your craft bits

Image from http://www.the36thavenue.com/2012/10/craft-room-makeover.html

Image from http://www.the36thavenue.com/2012/10/craft-room-makeover.html

Lets face it, even the best of us are messy when it comes to the space we craft in. To make it more fun to organise our crafty bit and pieces, I’ve found five fabulous ideas for storing your crafty gear.



This great idea from The 36th Avenue above is the perfect use for an old kitchen roll holder. How cute would this look hung on the wall?



Image from http://www.ishandchi.com/

Image from http://www.ishandchi.com/

This idea for storing fabric is a great use of space. You can see all the fabrics and it’s easy to flick through them, pull them out and see if they match. Perfect! Might look at implementing this in my own craft room!



Image from http://www.madincrafts.com/2012/09/craft-room-organization-pvc-and-wire.html

Image from http://www.madincrafts.com/2012/09/craft-room-organization-pvc-and-wire.html

This idea from Made In Crafts is a great way of utilising an old wire shelf. The best thing? You can put anything in it! Paints, rolls of fabric, tubes of beads… the list goes on! Plus, it looks pretty fun!



Image from http://www.craftinessisnotoptional.com/2011/03/under-shelf-jar-storage-tutorial.html

Image from http://www.craftinessisnotoptional.com/2011/03/under-shelf-jar-storage-tutorial.html

This is my favourite craft storage idea ever! I’ll be implementing this in my own craft room when I get the chance – I’ll be sure to post a pic so you can see how it went!



image from http://www.acasarella.net/2013/03/mason-jar-twine-holders.html

image from http://www.acasarella.net/2013/03/mason-jar-twine-holders.html


We might as well admit that nobody ever knows how to organise pesky cords and ribbons. I’m pretty sure most of us chuck them in boxes to get all tangled but this idea is just wonderful!



Project: Beanbags




1 FQ Fabric (per beanbag) but this will vary depending on the size you’d like your beanbags to be
Sewing machine
Needle and thread
Stuffing (optional)


Fabric was kindly supplied by Dear Stella. It’s Kaleidoscope and Hadley from the Hadley collection

1) Using the link HERE, draw an equilateral triangle. I started mine using a 30cm line along the bottom and made a fairly large beanbag but you can make it as small or large as you like and the size of your beanbag will vary accordingly.
2) Fold two points together, right sides together and sew along the outer edge using 1/4in seam allowance.
3) Now sew another two edges together, right sides together, leaving a 7cm gap along the edge.
4) Turn right side out and press edges well.
5) Using the funnel, fill partway with rice then top up with stuffing. Or, if you prefer you can just use rice.
6) Tuck the raw edges of the turning gap inside and stitch closed with an overstitch.
7) Repeat to create as many beanbags as you like!




Project: Quick Keyring



3 x Strips of floral fabric (1in x 12in), ripped
15cm Leather thong
1 x Lobster keyring
Needle and thread
Hair grips

1) Take the three pieces of fabric and place them together. Fold in half and press.
2) Take one end of the fabric strips and pull through the hole in the lobster keyring to the halfway point where you pressed it.
3) Now separate the strips of fabric so you’re holding both halves of each strip separately (you’ll have three doubled up strips). Start plaiting! It’s important to keep this nice and neat.
4) When you reach the bottom, take a hair grip and slide it across the ends to hold in place.
5) Take your needle and thread and sew the three ends together. It’ll be quite tough to get the needle through all the layers but be persistent and you’ll get there! Make sure you go through enough times to make sure it’s secure and won’t unravel, ensuring you’ve stitched through all six strips.
6) Take your piece of leather thong and tie it tightly around the plait where you’ve stitched it together. Tie in a neat bow and you’re finished!