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Archive | April, 2017

Pin Sharpening - Pin Cushion - Step by Step Guide

We'd been thinking about dull pins a while back and had heard that wire wool could be a good solution. So off the back of that we decided to create our own pin sharpening pin cushion.

Fancy giving it a go too?

Here's how we went about it....

Tools / Materials you'll need:

Cup & Saucer (we got this one from a charity shop).

Small piece of fabric - amount will depend on the size of your cup.

Scissors, Needle & thread, glue gun and super glue, a little bit of toy stuffing and some wire wool.

Step 1

Draw a circle approximately twice the size of the cup you are using (see picture above).

Step 2

Super glue your cup to the saucer

Step 3

Sew a running stitch the whole way around the edge of the fabric circle.

Step 4

Keeping the needle and thread attached, draw up the edges of the circle a little.

Step 5

Add a little bit of stuffing to the piece of fabric.

Step 6

Add the wire wool.

Step 7

Draw in the edges of the circle and sew together - fix the end and cut off the needle and remaining thread.

Step 8

Add lots of glue to the bottom of the cushion you have created and then stick to the cup and saucer.

Step 9 (Optional)

Add some embroidery scissors using some ribbon, to the handle of the cup. Now you have a pin cushion, little tray for holding other notions and some scissors all in one place - perfect!

Quick Wipe Clean Child's Apron - Laminated Cotton Tutorial

Quick wipe clean child’s apron designed and made by Louise Ambrosi, Sew Sofia

This is a quick and easy starter project for laminated cotton fabric. You don't need a special foot for this tutorial as most of the sewing is on the binding, not the laminate itself.

Tips for sewing with laminated cotton

1 - Keep pins to a minimum and in the seams as they will leave holes. You can use Wonder clips or small bulldog clips instead - or even a little sellotape - to hold seams down.

2 - Do not iron laminated cotton on the laminate side as it will melt. You can however iron lightly on the back of laminated cotton to remove any creases.

3 - Size 14 (or denim) needle is recommended.

Finished size: 16inch w x 20inch h

Seam allowance, unless otherwise stated is a quarter inch.


1 FQ laminated cotton (we used Cloud 9 umbrellas)

1 FQ coordinating Kona cotton

2m bias binding

Basic sewing kit

Cutting instructions:

Apron ties -  cut 4 strips of 4 inch x 21 inch cotton fabric

Apron - cut one piece 16 inch w x 20 inch h

Pocket piece (optional) cut after the apron piece – 6 inch x 5 inch

Preparing the pieces:

Apron ties - Fold a 4 inch x 21 inch strip in half lengthwise and press to make a centre crease.

Open out, then fold and press each short end by 0.5 inch. Fold each long raw edge in towards the centre crease and press.

Fold again in half and press to make a 1 inch x 20 inch strip with no raw edges showing.

Topstitch around all four sides of the apron tie. Repeat with the other three apron tie strips and set aside.

Apron body – Fold your apron piece in half RST. Using a pencil or disappearing marker, mark 4.5 inch in from the fold at the top. Make another mark 6.5 inch down from the top unfolded edge (as per below image). Draw a line to join these two marks (it should be a line of 7.5 inch).

Cut along this line.

Open up the main apron body piece, which should now look like the below image.

Sew on bias binding – starting from the bottom right corner of the apron piece, open out the readymade bias binding and pin the raw binding edge to the RS of the apron piece as pictured. Leave a 0.25 inch tail of bias binding to fold in later (see below image).

Sew along the first crease of the binding at 0.25 inch, stopping 0.25 inch before the end.

Cut the thread only (not the binding!). Pin the binding to the long side of the apron and continue, stopping at each corner as before until you reach where you started, leaving another 0.25 inch tail to overlap at the end.

Fold the binding over to the wrong side (WS) of the apron and pin in place.

Sew at 0.15 inch to secure the binding in place taking care when you reach the corners.

Tuck the tails in at the end (that you can see in the above image) to cover raw edges and stitch in place.

Next you attach the ties.

Sew and backstitch two ties approximately 1inch in at the top of the apron.

Sew and backstitch the other two ties on either side at the corner points.

Optional Pocket: with the remaining laminated cotton cut a small pocket piece measuring about 6 inch x 5 inch.

Sew a strip of bias binding to the top of the pocket piece as you did with the apron body.

Tuck and finger press the three other raw edges in by 0.5 inch and secure with a few pins.

Set your machine to a longer stitch length and sew the three edges of the pocket.

Pin your pocket piece wherever you like to the apron body.

Stitch over the existing stitching and be sure to backstitch at the tops of the pocket.

Ta Da! You've finished your apron......stand back and admire!

Did you know Poppies & Polka Dots are the chosen supplier of many makers?

Welcome to part 1 of 'Meet the Makers'.

We're proud to be the chosen supplier to lots of creative business owners. We decided to get to know them a bit better and here are the results.

We discuss why, what and how with apron designer and maker Anna from My Mini Pinny.

Thank you for speaking to us Anna. What made you want to start running your own business?

My life completely changed after I had children. I wasn’t prepared to commute to London anymore. I also found myself very isolated so I started a knitting group. A neighbour over the road soon encouraged me to try sewing which I loved. Far quicker results and more precision for a greater fit! The group went from being a stitch and bitch gathering to a sewing circle. That was 3 years ago and we have been growing ever since. The group gave me the confidence to pursue a career as a maker and also a legitimate reason to hoard more fabric!

How did you get involved with Poppies & Polka Dots?

I was looking for a reliable supplier with lots of choice. I found Poppies & Polka Dots through a friend’s recommendation and I’ve always found the range represents my taste very well and includes all the classics that I rely on as well as all the latest new releases that are relevant to my customers. Service is fantastic and Katrina can always be relied on to offer up helpful suggestions and to answer queries straight away which is something that makes a huge difference to my small business.

Who is your inspiration?
The women at my sewing circle are my inspiration. Everyone supports each other, bakes their own cakes to lovingly share and they all come ready to laugh, create and belong. Every one of them is incredible for different reasons and we all offer unconditional acceptance.

What is your biggest creative challenge?
Last minute orders! Quite often someone will have only just found me and will need something for a birthday the following day. I’m always very happy to do everything I can to make that happen but for a fleeting moment I feel absolutely terrified!

Why do you do it?
I do it for all the customers who write to thank me and tell me how much they love their makes. It means the world to me to hear that. Also that they took the time to write and tell me their stories or send in their photos. And I do it for my children who proudly chat about mummy's pinnies to anyone who will listen!

What do you do when you're not making?
I’m a volunteer counsellor at rape crisis and I spend my time supporting women there. Otherwise I can be found at Kew Gardens soaking up inspiration and eating lemon drizzle cake.

Can we take a peek at your sewing space?
Of course! It’s not quite finished but I’m really looking forward to embellishing it with lots of handmade decorations and arranging my fabric in colour order, swoon.

Favourite quote?
If you have to ask what jazz is you'll never know - Louis Armstrong.