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Our Josephine… New Adventures in Childrenswear


Woodland Rainbows and Retro WAHM Weds

Hello Folks! You may be wondering what I’ve been up to since the flurry of sewing tutorials I posted last year. Nobody tells you that when you have a baby, the time when they are small and mostly sleeping is the time to get things done. As the naptimes dwindled, so did my ability to sew and keep up with the wonders of social media; and so time passed, and my sewing pace slowed.

This year my little girl LP turned one, we relocated to the wonderful North West, and I began to put into action my plans to work from home and take care of her – ably assisted by her doting Nanny. Just like LP, everything is in its infancy and I have to embrace the process as well as the end product.

Even before I became mum to LP I had sewn several frocks in anticipation of her arrival. Making for her seemed like the most hopeful preparation; in my mind, I was creating memories with the stitching, and felt nostalgia for a time that was yet to arrive. When LP did make her appearance I was keen to dress her in handmade threads and so just kept sewing the frocks in a variety of prints and growing sizes.

Following some lovely compliments and the desire to be able to stay at home with my daughter while doing something other than mum duties, I decided to sew for others.

And so, Our Josephine – For Kids was born. The Etsy shop is now open, the Facebook page is live and I am absolutely thrilled to be sewing little frocks, with cheer to pass on the joy of handmade. I do hope you like them as much as we do.

WAHM Boden collage

Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… How to Finish your Patchwork ( bias binding free method)

Your patchwork has been planned, sewn and now you’re ready for the finish. There are lots of ways you can complete a simple quilt: the method you choose can be down to personal taste, time constraints and even the space and materials available to you. I tend to opt for the hand tie method; it is straightforward and once the skill has been acquired it can be adapted further to suit your style. This is a speedy finish with no bias binding – it turns out really well.

Final Patchwork Tutorial

You will need:

  • Your Patchwork
  • A Piece of Cotton Batting the Same Size as your Patchwork
  • A Piece of Cotton Backing Fabric the Same Size as your Patchwork (I used a vintage brushed cotton)
  • Quilting Safety Pins

Create your Quilt Layers

1. Place your patchwork on a flat surface, right side up. Put your backing fabric on top, right side down. Now add your batting. Make sure all three layers line up on the sides and at the corners. Pin all the way around.

Patchwork layers

2. Mark a 15cm gap at the bottom, leave this area unsewn to enable you to turn the whole thing right side out. Sew around with a 1cm seam allowance. Clip the corners and trim any excess fabric away.

3. Turn your quilt right side out, push the corners out and press. Sew up the gap at the bottom using a neat little ladder stitch.

Hand Tie Layers

4. Place your quilt down on a flat surface and smooth it out. Pin through the layers in the 6 corners where your quilt blocks meet.

5. One by one remove your quilt pins and create your ties in their place. Using a needle and thread (doubled with no knot) pass the needle through close to where the fabric corners meet and bring it up on the other side, leave a nice long tail. Repeat and then taking both tails tie a couple of knots as close to the fabric as possible.

Final Patchwork Tutorial Needle in Fabric Final Patchwork Tutorial Tie
6. You could also use tapestry wool or embroidery thread to create your ties. You can even sew buttons in place of the ties, create covered ones in the same fabrics as your quilt for an extra special finish.

Now you have your completed your first quilt, give it a wash and let it dry naturally. Your quilt with wrinkle and soften over time in a really pleasing way.

Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… How to Sew a Simple Patchwork

Folded Patchwork

You’ve read the planning tips, your fabric is all cut out and ready to sew. It’s time to get that machine out, prep your ironing station and create that patchwork. This tutorial is based on the crib size quilt with 9 blocks.


You will need:

  • Your Patchwork Plan
  • Pre cut Patchwork Squares
  • General Sewing Paraphernalia
  • Ironing board and Iron

 Create your Blocks

For each block we are going to create 3 short rows and then sew them together. Please enjoy my little illustrations, I hope they help and don’t hinder. They are drawn with the way the fabric passes through the sewing machine in mind.

1. Take your first two squares, place them right sides together, pin on the right hand side and sew a 1cm seam. Open out and add your third square, right sides together, pin on the right hand side and sew a seam.

How to Sew a Patchwork Step 1

2. Repeat for the next two rows. You should now have 3 rows of 3 squares. Press all seams open.

3. Pin the top row to the second row, right sides together making sure the seams line up, sew.

How to Sew Patchwork 3

4. Pin the third row to the bottom of the second row right sides together with seams matching, sew. Press all seams open.

How to Sew a Patchwork Step 4

Make all of your blocks in the same way.

Sew your Blocks Together

Essentially you need to repeat the process you went through to create your blocks. Make sure you are sewing your blocks together according to your plan. I have repeated the instructions here for ease.

5. Take your first two blocks, place them right sides together, pin on the right hand side and sew a 1cm seam. Open out and add your third block, right sides together, pin on the right hand side and sew a seam.

How to Sew a Patchwork Step 5

6. Repeat for the next two rows. You should now have 3 rows of 3 blocks. Press all seams open.

7. Pin the top row to the second row, right sides together making sure the seams line up, sew.

How to Sew a Patchwork Step 7

8. Pin the third row to the bottom of the second row right sides together with seams matching, sew. Press all seams open.

How to Sew a Patchwork Last Step

You have now sewn your patchwork top, all it needs is the wadding and backing which I’ll show you how to do next time…

Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… How to Plan a Simple Patchwork

The world of patchwork and quilting is vast, and if you just want to get started with something simple it can be a bit daunting. It can be especially tricky if you want to use scraps or small quantities of fabric and you’re not sure if you’ve got enough to achieve what you want to do. Here are some hopefully helpful tips to get you started…

1. Start Small

Rather than embarking on a cover for your king size bed, begin your voyage into patchwork by sewing a lap or cot sized quilt or small play mat. That way you can work out if this craft is for you and make something manageable. The sewing techniques are the same so you’ll be set up for larger projects too.

2. Squared Paper is Your Friend

I absolutely love squared and graph paper, and using it to plan your patchwork will really help. If you take a look at this example, I’ve planned a crib quilt that should measure 36 x 36″ or 90 x 90cm. Taking into account the 1cm seam allowance I’ll be sewing with, each square will need to be cut to 12 x 12cm and I can fit in nine squares across and nine squares down. I decided to use five different fabrics and set about planning how they could fit in with a pattern.

Here is my plan. The four corner blocks are all the same and there are three other designs with the central one only being used once.  This illustration may appear a bit naive but it makes a really handy reference. There is no need for you to get the colouring pencils out or fill in the pattern, I just did that for japes.

Planning a simple quilt resized


3. Take Your Time with Your Design

Selecting your fabrics can be time consuming; if you’re working from your stash you will be limited by what you have in your collection. Take time to cut out a 12 x 12 cm square of each option, this will help you to see if what you’ve selected really works rather than laying bigger pieces side by side.

4. Work in Blocks

For this quilt I have created blocks of nine squares, so three rows of three to make nine blocks in total. By breaking it down this way I can create the patchwork gradually and can make changes to the layout if need be. Working in rows can be a really useful approach but I reserve this for a more casual creation.

5. Feel Free to Change Your Mind

The design process doesn’t stop until the patchwork is complete. If you put your blocks together and something isn’t right, don’t be afraid to unpick, make changes or even start again – it is so much better to have a project you’ve spent time on and love, than a quick fix that you don’t even like.

So why not give it a whirl? Enjoy the process and make a simple heirloom piece that you can be really proud of. In my next post I’ll tell you how to sew your squares together to complete your well planned patchwork top.

Patchwork Image for planning post

Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… A Button Up Cushion

Button Back Cushion

I am always astounded by the power of the automatic buttonhole feature on my sewing machine. If you get the settings right, you can make use of the delightful treasures from your button tin with a minimum of fuss.

When I first laid eyes on the Townhouses print from Cath Kidston I knew I needed to feature it somewhere in my home; and my daughter’s nursery offered the perfect solution. Unfortunately you can’t pick it up online anymore, but I bet there’s some lurking in their outlet stores. The buttons I used are vintage ones from my stash – they are rather glorious. The cushion pad shown is approximately 58 x 40, but this tutorial works for any size: you just need to adjust the measurements. For a nice plump cushion cut your front fabric to the same size as the pad, and work with a 1cm seam allowance to help keep your calculations simple. I’ve put my measurements in brackets in case you happen to have a cushion pad the exact same size; I work in centimetres.

You will need:

  • Cushion Pad
  • Fabric of your choice
  • Buttons and button hole foot
  • General sewing paraphernalia

To make it:

1. Cut your front piece of fabric, this should measure the same size as your cushion pad. (58 x 40)

2. Cut your back piece to the same height but add 12cm to the width, this will give you space to create your button placket. ( 70 x 40)

3. Decide where you want your cushion to overlap and cut your back pieces accordingly ( 50 x 40 and 20 x 40)

4. To make your button plackets: turn over your widest back piece by 1 cm, press and then again by 4cm and press again. Stitch close to the seam. Turn over your narrowest back piece by 1cm, press and then again by 2.5cm and press again. Stitch close to the seam. HC Sew close to the seam edge

5. Work out where you want your buttons to go, mark on the narrowest piece where the holes should be made. If you’re not sure how to use the buttonhole feature on your machine, now is the time to consult the manual. If you have no idea where this is, the magic of the internet should help you.

6. Test the buttonhole is working before sewing into the real thing. If it is playing up, check all the settings – trust me here, you do not want to have to unpick a badly sewn buttonhole! When you’re confident it is all going swimmingly, sew your buttonholes. HC Sew Buttonholes

7. Now you can assemble your cushion. Place the front piece on the table right side facing you. Then put the widest back piece on top, right side facing down and then finally the narrow piece with your buttonholes in. Make sure all your corners line up, pin and then stitch all the way around. Clip your corners and turn it out, ideally use a bamboo point turner to ease out your corners.

8. Mark where your buttons need to go and stitch them in place. Insert your cushion pad, do up the buttons and admire.

Vintage Button Detail


Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… A Piped Envelope Back Cushion

Piped Cushion Corner

This Cath Kidston train print never fails to bring me joy, and with the added allure of red dotty piping this cushion cover is a winner. If you’ve never attempted to make a piped cushion then this is a good start as there is no zip to contend with.

The cushion pad shown is approximately 35 x 35 but this tutorial works for any size, you just need to adjust the measurements. For a nice plump cushion cut your front fabric to just 1cm wider in width and height, this is to allow for the piping. Work with a 1cm seam allowance to help keep your calculations simple. I’ve put my measurements in brackets in case you happen to have a cushion pad the exact same size; I work in centimetres.

You will need:

  • Cushion Pad
  • Fabric of your choice
  • Unfolded Bias Tape – 4 x the circumference of the cushion plus 5cm
  • 5mm Piping Cord- 4 x the circumference of the cushion
  • Zip foot (or piping foot if you have one)
  • General Sewing Paraphernalia

To make it:

1. Cut your front piece of fabric, this should measure 1cm more in width and height than your cushion pad (36 x 36).

2. Cut your back piece to the same width but add another third to the height, this will give you space to create your button placket (36 x 48).

3. Cut the back piece in two equal pieces, turn and press the short edges by 1cm twice and then stitch.

4. Prepare your bias tape by wrapping it around the piping cord and pinning as you go. Using your zip or piping foot, stitch as close to the cord as you can leaving 2.5cm open and without cord at either end.

Unfolded Bias Tape and Piping Cord
Sew Bias Tape

5. Take your top fabric and draw a curve on one of the corners using a glass, cup, roll of tape – whatever you have that is round. Cut the curve out and use that as a template for the other three corners. Do the same for the back pieces (just the top of one and the bottom of the other) to mirror the front piece.

Use a glass to round corners

6. Place the top fabric on a flat surface with right side up, pin your wrapped cord around it with the flat edge flush with the outer raw edge. In order to finish the piping neatly you should have an excess of bias tape and should start  and finish stitching (still with the zip foot) 5cm from each end keeping as close to the cord as possible.

Pin and Sew Bias Binding

7. To close finish the piping neatly, make the end points of the cord meet. Overlap your bias tape around them by at least 1cm. Pin and sew in place once again keeping close to the cord. I never worry about the raw edges.

Sew overlap bias

8. Now to assemble the cover. Place your piped piece onto a flat surface, right side up. Take your first back piece and place right side down on top, then do the same with the second piece. Pin all the way around and stitch, still with the zip foot and keeping as close to the piping as possible. Notch your curves and turn right sides out, press for a nice finish.

Notch corners

9. Pop in your cushion pad and admire your new piping skills.

Cushion Trio

Tutorial: Our Josephine Sews… A Square Zipped Cushion

Bus Cushion

The zip is a marvellous invention, and sewn neatly it gives a really nice finish. There are many methods for inserting a zip and every sewist has their own take on it. Why not give this method a whirl and see if it suits you.

You will need:

  • Cushion Pad
  • Fabric of your choice – I’ve used the spectacular Cath Kidston bus print!
  • Zip foot
  • General Sewing Paraphernalia

1. Cut the front and a back piece of fabric to 4cm wider and longer than your cushion pad. Your zip can either be the exact same length as the sides of your square cushion, or shorter; often I find that I use whatever I’ve got in my stash. You can always cut your zip shorter if need be.

2. Put your fabric right sides together, pin along the bottom edge, lay your zip on top and mark the start and end of where the zip opens. Move the zip out of the way and sew using a 2cm allowance; start with a regular length stitch, changing to a tacking stitch at your first marking and again switching to a regular length stitch at your second marking.

3. This may seem a bit counter intuitive but we are going to sew each side of the zip separately. This should enable you to sew with more precision.  Fold your fabric so just the raw seam is on the right and the rest of the fabric is to the left. Open your zip and pin the right side face down along the seam with the teeth in the centre. Change to your zip foot and sew along the right side of the zip teeth, you should only be sewing through the zip and one side of the seam.

Right side of zip right



4. Close the zip and repeat on the other side. If you have difficulty sewing past the zip pull, use a seam ripper to open up your tacking stitch and move it past the zip foot. It may be a bit fiddly but you can remove the foot to do this, making sure you keep the needle in the fabric to stop it from moving about too much.


other side

5. Unpick your taking stitches to reveal the zip underneath, open it up.

Finished zip


6. Pin your fabric right sides together, sew around the three remaining sides with a 2cm seam allowance, finish the sides as you wish and trim your corners and turn right side out. Press, push out the corners and pop in your cushion pad.

bus and train

My Makes: The Door Hanger Do-Over

Have you ever finished making something, looked at it and straightaway decided that you could have done better? This happened to me recently when I set to work on some hanging pockets intended to create some handy additional storage.

I’d spent a whole morning sewing, so pleased to be getting on with a project from my to-do list. I gave it a final press, proudly hung it in place, then realised that even though it looked splendid, I’d neglected to line the pockets making it a bit floppy and only half as useful as I anticipated it would be. I might have said aloud “oh, it will be alright”, but what I really felt was a huge sense of disappointment – those few precious hours of stitching not bearing the results I wanted.  It hung there for a while, until the other morning when my thoughts turned to the possibility of a do-over – I couldn’t resist.

When I was finding my way around dressmaking last year, there was a whole parade of do-overs, but these changes were wrapped up the sewist’s best tool – the toile and it felt ok to remodel until I was completely happy. The number of times I shifted darts, moved waistlines and pondered sleeve options were innumerable, so why when it comes to interiors projects should it be any different?

With that in mind, I gave myself the opportunity to try again and slowly unpicked my less than handy work. I lined the pockets and even slightly changed the construction to make it more sturdy; and now I have a functional, hanging tidy, ready to filled with baby essentials when the time comes. Although I’d rather get it right first time, there is no harm in a do-over, now what else can I rework?

Thoughts On: Are you doing what you thought you would be doing?

Supplies from Oh Squirrel of course.

Supplies from Oh Squirrel of course.

I spend a lot of time thinking: I like to let ideas roll around my mind, to ruminate on a matter before acting on my thoughts. Then I write things down, in pencil only, and draw skittish little pictures in basic shapes that only make sense to me. Often the product of all this contemplation is that things get ruled out, the brakes are put on before anything tangible happens – I suppose this is my way of preserving resources, not cutting into that precious fabric, not committing to that project that will take time away from something else.

However much planning I do, if you look at the course of my work over the last few years – although it has been totally enjoyable and oftentimes beyond what I could imagine myself doing – none of it has been calculated. It has been the result of chance meetings, moments of boldness where I’ve asked “can I have a go at that?” and marvellous good fortune.

That’s not to say that once opportunity knocked I didn’t have the skills and the drive to back things up – indeed, my brain, pad and pencil have worked in overdrive and I’ve been so happy with the outcome. It’s more that I’m just not doing what I thought I would be doing.

Being pregnant has made me consider a lot of things. Aside from all the baby stuff, which is wonderful and terrifying at the same time, I have been thinking about me: what is it that I want to be doing? What am I going to be able to do? The bottom line is that I am going to be a mum, a parent, and I am really looking forward to it. When I joyfully discovered I was expecting, I realised: I am now never really alone, I am Jo plus one; and that means change.

I have spent the last few months in a festival of sewing, every day making a little something – optimistic that I am going to finish all the projects for our home before the little one makes an appearance. Then already making memories by sewing for the baby, creating a hope chest of handmade items, mentally skipping ahead to the day it will all be outgrown and packed away.

The machinations of my mind also lead me to consider what I’ll be doing when our baby is one, when I believe I’ll creak back into production; and here I go back to what I thought I’d be doing, before all the workshops I created and delivered, before I dedicated my days to building up the emporium that is Fringe, before the book. When I find myself here I am back to tentatively hand sewing and selling on Etsy, but that’s not what I think I will be doing a year or so hence. The truth of the matter is, I don’t really know – but naturally the cogs are whirring.

It is impossible not to look at what others are doing, to compare yourself, to wonder if that’s what you want too. From my experience, the designer-makers I know, the outwardly fearless entrepreneurs seem to perpetually create their wares with enviable skill and confidence – but I do wonder, are they doing what they thought they would be doing?

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter. Time passes, our necessities and wants change. The centre of it all is that we feel a level of contentment in our work, that we operate on a realistic plain and that we celebrate our creative neighbours, because we are all doing something, even if it’s not the something we set out to do.

Fabulous Finds: 1947 Sausage Roll Fiasco



On one of my jaunts to Brighton, I picked up this brilliant piece of correspondence in Snoopers Paradise – one of the best places for a mooch. It is such an evocative letter – who indeed ate all the pies?

This image isn’t the clearest – the letter is framed and hanging in my kitchen where getting a clear snap of anything is tricky. I hope you’ll take the time to decipher it.

These days such matters would be resolved over email – I think I prefer a letter of apology any day.