Handmade & Vintage Blog

Work sheets, project ideas and vintage inspirations will appear in the blog. For more up to date news and offers subscribe to the newsletter using the link on the left of the screen

You can be notified of blog updates by clicking on the RSS link.

 RSS Feed

» Listings for 2014

  1. dennis-lampshade-2Today I'm doing a quick blog about how to adapt crazy patchwork for a lampshade*. Trial and error has taught me that when light shines through your crazy creation every small imperfection is backlit and on display for all to see, so some small modifications are required! Take advantage of my failed attempts and use these tips to avoid the pitfalls. These instructions all relate to the lampshade kits that are on the website - if you have a different version, or you are covering an old shade then you'll need to cherry-pick the bits of advice that are useful for you.lampshade-kits-3Your lampshade kit has a rolled up, self adhesive panel inside it. Lay this out on a piece of pale backing fabric and cut your fabric to the size, allowing an extra centimetre of fabric at each short side. Now look at the back of the panel, you'll see that the long edges have snap off pieces at about 1 cm in, when making a traditional shade you need this extra fabric allowance to create your rolled edge, however for a patchwork piece they are surplus to requirements so you need to make a mark on your backing fabric to correspond with them. Once you've done this you should be able to see exactly the area you need to fill to create your design. (One more tip - when sticking your design, allow it to extend slightly beyond the lines, this will make it easier later on).lampshade-making-1

    Now start to lay out your pieces of fabric for your design, following the usual crazy patchwork rules (see my earlier blog). Once you are happy it's time to start fixing. Unlike the quilts and cushions these lampshades will never be washed or generally dragged about (you hope!) so the issues of hemming and edging are less crucial. This is good because flipping fabrics over to create neat edges simply makes ugly lines on the shade when it is back lit. So.... you need to cut your fabric to the exact size and shape required, this is immensely liberating by the way!

    Once done you need to stick it to the backing fabric. Yes. Really! Grab a can of 505 fabric glue (or similar), spray your patchwork piece and stick it to the backing fabric, make sure there are NO AIR BUBBLES and the the two fabrics remain FLAT and not bunched up. Lesson number two is that any fabric not fixed tightly to the backing fabric will start to bag out once you place the design on the adhesive panel. See Tintin below - this lampshade was made without sticking the fabrics , only pinning and stitching.


    Keep going until your whole panel is covered, then sew all of the seams either with a contrasting thread and decorative stitches or with invisible nylon depending on the effect you want. You can do this by machine or hand, and if you want to add extra trims and embellishments then do it now.

    Now for the (slightly) fiddly bit. Peel the backing paper off a section of the adhesive panel, line up the panel with the lines on your fabric and stick the panel to the back of your design. Unroll and peel as you go and make sure each section is stuck down with no air pockets. If you go wrong, or are slightly off the line just gently lift the adhesive panel off and restick. If you have made sure to extend your patchworking to beyond the edge you will be rewarded now by having a little bit of leeway as you stick.


    Turn the panel over and smooth out any air pockets. Now snap off those extra bits of the panel and, using a cutter and steel rule trim the shape along the long sides so that the fabric and panel are the same size. Have a look at your design and decide which of the short ends should be on show when it is completed - see picture above. When you wrap it on to the shade one end will be hidden on the inside, one will be visible, try both and see which you prefer. Once you have decided, trim the hidden end so that the fabric ends with the panel. The visible end needs to be folded over to create a neat finish. Put a strip of the double-sided tape on the inside of the panel and fix the fabric down. Then put another piece of tape on top of the stuck down fabric. Don't peel it yet - you'll use it at the end to make sure your seam sticks to the rolled shade.

    Now you need to neaten the raw edges around the top and bottom of the shade. You can do this with bias tape, either bought or home made. Depending on the size of the shade I use eith 1" or 1/2" bias tape which I iron to create a fold down the length. I then glue this to the top and bottom edges to create a neat finish. Again, experience has shown that rolled edges don't work well on patchwork shades as the end up being bulky and uneven when you try to tuck them in.


    Once you reach this stage go back to the instruction leaflet that came with your kit and carry on from instruction 13! When rolling the rings on the panel just keep them to the edges of your bias tape. Once you get more practiced - or if you have wide tape, it sometimes works to cover the ring on the inside with the tape once the shade is rolled.

    By the way, you may be wondering why you don't just stick the images straight on to the self adhesive panel and miss out all this extra fiddling and sticking altogether... I tried it - it was a nightmare! The panel is too sticky so each time you try to rearrange something slightly or re-jig the design the sides stick and the frayed edges become uncontrollable. I gave up after an hour and threw the whole thing away - no photographic evidence remains I'm happy to say!

    * These instructions are a guide to help you create your own designs. if you are using them to create lampshades to sell please respect my copyright and the work I have created. Please do not copy my designs, stitch choices and fabrics and claim them as your own. Sorry for the need to say this but that is what someone has done 😐.


  2. I may have mentioned my love of crazy patchwork before(!) and in a bid to spread the love I've decided to run a series of blogs covering some of the basic techniques. This, being the first, is Part One and in it I'll try and explain how to start creating a square of unique lovliness...


    Crazy patchwork is a joyous, liberating sewing experience. It's the antidote to the careful measuring, seam aligning, set piece patchwork of templates and patterns. It's also the perfect way to use up all your favourite bits of fabric, lace and linens - even tiny pieces can be used because sometimes, (whisper it), we sew without hemming!

    In part one we're going to make a simple sqaure; partly because it's easier, but mainly because squares can be made into anything! Once completed you can have a cushion or a bag or a piece of art or...you can make more squares, join them up and have the most original quilt in town. Essentially, crazy patchwork will turn an old bit of calico and a few scraps into a new piece of fabric that you can use for just about anything.

    There are many crazy patchwork methods to be explored but lets start with three.


    Square up a piece of cotton, calico or linen to the size that you want. The backing fabric can be old and any colour but cotton, cotton blend, or linen work best. Make sure it is pre-washed. Then gather up your fabrics and scraps. Cut some random shapes with scissors or a wheel, but try to keep all your edges straight which will make your life much easier when you come to piece them together. At this stage do AVOID any slippery fabrics like nylon, chiffon, velvet, etc... Learning a new technique is enough of a challenge at the start, be kind to yourself and pick cottons and linens...

    Method One - No Hems!

    Start with a 4 or 5 sided piece of fabric and place it either in the centre or in one corner of your backing square. Lace you machine with some invisible, nylon thread and stitch this piece to your backing fabric. Now start adding pieces. Place your next piece along one edge of your first patch, overlap the edge by about 6mm, and pin, or stick, in place. Set your machine to a medium zigzag stitch and machine the two patches along the join making sure you catch each side as you go. If your second piece is the wrong size or shape just chop it to make it right. Now keep adding pieces so that you cover all the edges of piece number one, and radiate out. Just keep placing the next piece along an exposed edge, pin or stick and then zigzag with the invisible cotton. Honestly. That's It!

    Continue adding pieces along all the edges until you have covered the whole square then press the whole thing with a warm iron and start embellishing the joins with decorative stitches!

    (NO ZIGZAG on your machine? Just do two rows of straight stitch making sure that you have caught the edges all the way along)


    Method Two - Flipping!

    As with the first method , place your 4 or 5 sided piece of fabric on your backing square. Either baste it or use a temporary adhesive to secure it. Now take your next piece and lay it face DOWN over the first piece with two edges lined up together. Stitch the second patch to the first along the seam with a small (5mm) allowance. Once done flip the second piece of fabric over so that you are seeing the right side. Smooth it along your sewn seam and press flat.

    crazy patchwork fan

    Continue in the same way around the first patch until all the edges are covered and then radiate out, adding patches to cover each raw edge as you go.

    At some point you will find that there are two, or even three raw edges left in one spot and this technique won't cover them all - Don't Panic!!

    You can use the technique from method one and then cover any exposed edges with later embellishments. Or have a look at method three below...

             Method Three - Mix & Match

    Sometimes you will find it difficult to stick to the traditional methods of piecing, especially if you are creating a block that is based on pictorial fabrics or specific shapes. If you are making something that needs to be hardwearing and stand up to a lot of washing, you might also want to avoid the raw edge technique of method one. In which case you need a bit of a mix- it's not too onerous though and still leaves plenty of creative space.

    crazy patchwork piecing2

    Your first two or three patches are going to be added in the same way as method two but pretty early on you may find that you want to add a particular sized or shaped picture that won't cover the raw edges in the way you want. Here's what to do...

    Place the patch on the fabric where you want it. If one edge can be sewn using the flip method then fold and create a crease to mark it - try and pick the longest edge for this if you can. Once you've flipped that first edge, your fabric is facing the right side out so, obviously, flippng is finished. If you want a neat edgefinish along the remaining edges, you'll need to turn the fabric under to create a tiny hem, press flat and machine from the top.  So, for each edge, you'll need to work out the lines that you need, fold the fabric and iron to create the crease. Sew your flip seam first, then flip your fabric and oversew the turned under edges. You need to have more of a plan for this method to ensure that you are stitching edges in the right order.

    crazy patchwork corner3

    This method requires you to hold your nerve and keep piecing and re-piecing to get the balance of size and colour that works best. If you are using large pieces of fabric for some patches try to balance them out on the backing fabric and then work with smaller pieces to join them up. Always baste or stick large pieces before machining, otherwise they will start to bunch up and slide as you sew.


    The key to staying crazy is the irregular shapes of the fabrics. If you find that your pattern is starting to look a bit too traditional, go back and check that you have got odd numbered edges to your pieces.

    Next Time....

    We'll talk about embellishments, long seams and how to avoid having to cover the joins. I'll upload more pictures as the weeks go by to make the techniques easier to follow but in the meantime do ask a question or post a comment.

    Happy Stitching x

    P.S. These scrap packs are just the ticket for adding to your crazy patchwork stash...