Hi! My name is Miss Leela, welcome to The Maker’s Stash a humble little shop where you will find everything to do with the gentle craft of English Paper Piecing and Slow Stitching. Please have a browse through my range of papers designed and cut with precision. You will also find English Paper Piecing Kits and Patterns, as well as sewing notions. Be sure to stop by my Blog where I share musings and inspiration about my creative life and Slow Stitching.
English Paper Piecing is a traditional method of quilt making dating back to the 18th Century. It is a method by which fabric shapes are cut & tacked over a paper template. The shapes are then hand sewn together to form an array of patterns & shapes. This method of quilt making is thought to have arisen out of a need to make economical bedding and is believed to be of English origin. It developed as a way to use leftover scraps from other sewing projects or to reuse second-hand fabrics.
I believe that Slow Stitching Soothes the Soul. English Paper Piecing allows us to escape to a place where time almost stands still. The methodological nature of using hand stitches to connect fabric shapes together goes deeper than just creating a finished item. As we stitch we sew in our memories, each stitch represents a feeling or a thought in time. I invite you to join a community of Makers who embrace and enjoy this gentle craft. At The Maker’s Stash, I hope to pass on and share the tradition of English Paper piecing through the sharing of knowledge and joy.
I have been creating patchwork quilts & miniature patchwork artworks for over 10 years. My signature style is working in Miniature English Paper Piecing, a method of patchwork that is completely hand sewn. A desire to always have the miniature shapes I prefer to use in English Paper Piecing lead me to develop my own range of Paper Pieces. From my home studio in the Blue Mountains, I run The Maker’s Stash, designing English Paper Pieced patterns. I also make a range of handmade items and textile art that I sell.
I worked as an Interior Designer for 15 years. Growing up I enjoyed many creative pursuits but it wasn’t until my early twenties that I discovered a love for patchwork quilting, & later on crochet, knitting, and embroidery. An only child to two creative parents, I thank my Mumsie for being my greatest craft mentor.
If you would like to offer your invaluable support for my creative work, you can become a member of my Slow Stitching Journal over on Patreon. Here I share with you behind-the-scenes content about my little business, what I’m making and what is inspiring me. You will gain access to tutorials, tips and tricks, discount codes, and free patterns.
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This mini quilt was made back in 2018 but I have only just now released it as a pattern. My original quilt was made with a fat 16th bundle of Liberty Fabrics I received from Westwood Acres when I was a brand ambassador for them for a little while. From the bundle I pulled out 5 fabrics that I thought would look pretty together in a mini quilt design. I decided to pair them with some solid cotton and spot fabrics. I had wanted to try using a traditional quilt block design using the English Paper Piecing method for a while. I decided on the star block created from squares and half-square triangles.
For this quilt, I created nine 4″ star blocks. I cut the papers myself and worked out the best way to handpiece them all together to create the block. I used Electric Quilt 7 to draft the initial design and work out roughly what colours and fabrics would go where. I like working in this way sometimes as it allows me to play around with fabric and colour placement until I find the right combination.
When it came to making the mini quilt I first made all of the nine blocks. I then pieced them together in rows and then pieced the rows together. I used paper clips to hold my rows in place while I stitched them to prevent them from sliding and not lining up. I attached four hand-pieced borders to the quilt by making long strip templates out of 220gsm paper the size of the border I wanted. I then used my paper clips again to hold the borders in place while I stitched them on. Adding borders this way can be fiddly, but for small quilts like this I find it creates nice, neat and even borders. If I were to machine sew borders on I would need to be very accurate and work the machine slowly to ensure I pick up the quarter inch seam allowance properly and don’t leave any holes in the seam.
I am really please with this finished mini quilt. The large center squares mean you get to see a large part of the pretty Liberty print, even though the quilt is quite small. I decided to hand quilt using a single strand of white quilting cotton ‘in the ditch’ around every shape.
When it came to writing the pattern I actually tweaked the colour/fabric placement a little. That’s the fun part about re-visiting a project to write up the pattern. You have fresh eyes and can see where things could be improved to make them even better. The pattern includes a full colour piecing chart, block piecing instructions and charts, as well as step by step photo instructions for basting the shapes and piecing the block together. The pattern also includes a colouring -in chart so you can experiment with your own colour/fabric combination.
I am terrible at coming up with names for patterns. I put a call out on Instagram for name suggestions and I got lots of great ones. The only downside was that a lot of the names were already in use for other Quilt and Patchwork designs. I wanted the name to have something to do with Stars, so I looked up an online thesaurus and came across the word Flicker. I instantly connected it to the word beat as it reminded me of the Lorde song of the same name. I think the two words together work well to describe the quilt. The stars flicker through the quilt, standing out but receding at the same time. The whole design has a rhythm to it, like the stars and squares are dancing together to their own beat.
If you would like to make your own Flicker Beat Mini Quilt, you can find the pattern here. The PDF Pattern includes a supplement Printable Shape Template file. If you don’t want to cut your own papers, you can purchase a pre-cut paper template kit separately.
I think this design would look equally good as a cushion and I have plans to make it again, possibly using only solid fabrics.
I wanted to talk about inspiration with you today, how I find it, how I use it, how I share it and what it means to me to be able to inspire others.
So, what is ‘inspiration’? Google defines it as ‘the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative’ and ‘a sudden brilliant or timely idea’. Inspiration can certainly strike at any time and anywhere. For whatever reason, I find that many of my ideas are formulated while in the shower or late at night when I am trying to get to sleep…not the best time for inspiration to strike especially when your sleep is already interrupted throughout the night by a baby!
When we talk about inspiration, I do not think it just needs to be in a creative way. We can be inspired to make different life choices, to live more sustainably, we might be inspired by another person’s journey both physically and mentally. Almost all our ideas thought processes, and decisions are in some way directly or indirectly influenced by something that has inspired us.
In our digitally-driven world, these days we do not have to go very far to find inspiration, we do not even need to leave the couch! The invention of Pinterest 11 years ago gave everyone the ability to have a virtual inspiration board where you could ‘pin’ all manner of images and organize them on different boards. Pinterest allowed its users to save an image from a website to act as a reminder with a direct link of something they wanted to try for themselves. I am not sure how you felt when you discovered Pinterest, but I was ecstatic! I was a self-proclaimed ‘pretty image’ junkie and Pinterest meant I no longer had to save hundreds of inspiring images to my computer but rather save them to my own profile and pinboards.
It seems 2010 was the year for image-sharing platforms because a few months after Pinterest launched the world was introduced to Instagram. It is safe to say that this social media, photo-sharing platform has changed the way we share our lives and creations. We could choose to keep our little picture squares private or share them with the entire world! Instagram for me quickly became mostly about sharing what I was making. I started to discover other makers, hundreds, and hundreds of them, so many talented, creative makers to fill my feed with their pretty handmade items, so much inspiration! I found myself a community of makers that shared the same joy and passion for EPP and Slow Stitching as I did. I am inspired daily by my tribe, by my friends, not just with what they have made, but they inspire me and motivate me to keep working on my own creations and designs through their ‘hearts’ and comments on my posts.
My Instagram Saved Folders
Some saved images
It is easy in our fast pace, digital world to rely solely on these online resources for inspiration, but we must remember that there is a great big world out there and we should take time to smell the roses! Referring specifically to craft-based inspiration sources, I find visiting Quilt shows, craft fairs, and patchwork shops to be wonderfully inspiring. It also gives us the opportunity to chat and share our love for our craft with our fellow makers. Getting together at quilt guilds, sewing, and craft groups allows us to share what we are making and see what others are making, thus participating in an inspiration circle.
Gail’s Patchwork Emporium Ballarat
Gail’s Patchwork Emporium Ballarat
Sydney Quilt Show
Another thing that can help to inspire a new make or design is quite simply fabric. Sometimes playing in my stash, pulling together a collection or scheme can get me inspired to create a new project. Much like mixing paints together for a painting, seeing what fabric plays well with another can help get the creative juices flowing.
Looking through my craft books and magazines can also help to inspire me. Aside from learning a new technique that might inspire a new project, they often just inspire me to start making something, to dive into my stash and crochet something fun or stitch something to hang in my home.
Beyond the world of craft, I find inspiration in many other areas. Having worked as an Interior Designer for 15 years, I have always found interiors, decorating, styling, home furnishings, homewares, and furniture inspiring. I draw on colour trends and styles, immersing them in what I create and design. I find architectural forms also inspiring, and I love searching for unique mosaic tile patterns that can be reinterpreted into EPP.
Sometimes I can be inspired by simple little things, and often from nature. I love and adore flowers. Roses and peonies being my favorites. Cottage gardens also inspire me. Reading a good book can sometimes lead to new ideas as can watching films or Tv shows, in particular those with amazing cinematography, set, and costume design.
So, I have all this inspiring matter floating around me, how do I use it all?
My first step is to organize it. That involves Pinterest boards and Instagram ‘Saved’ folders. Depending on what project I am working on, I may create a visual mood or concept board. This helps me to narrow down the inspiration and focus on key elements.
I might hit the books or the internet to do some further research into a particular item of inspiration to learn more about the meaning or origins. Often what I find inspiring might be a new technique, such as an embroidery stitch, and so I will teach myself the new stitch and think about how I can incorporate it into what I am making.
Quite often inspiration serves as motivation. Seeing what everyone is making on Instagram inspires me to continue to work on my projects so that I can share them with my tribe and crafty community.
Sharing inspiration for me tends to happen in a digital way. I enjoy sharing what I am personally making on Instagram through my profile feed and the various video formats we now have. I like that I can ask for advice or get help to solve a design problem.
I enjoy curating my Pinterest boards and sharing these with my followers. I enjoy creating video tutorials that I share on my YouTube channel, and of course, this blog is a big way for me to share ideas and thoughts with you all to help educate and inspire.
I believe that it is important when sharing something you have made that has been inspired by another’s creative work to give credit to that maker. Sometimes it can be hard to come up with a fresh new idea for a pattern or design. Elements of your work may end up being similar to another’s without you ever intending it to be. There is a whole library out there of different traditional quilt blocks, motifs, embroidery stitches, and techniques. Many pattern designers draw on this library when designing a pattern, and so it can often be the case that the work by different designers can have the same or similar elements. I think it is important to be transparent, open, and honest about where we get our inspiration for what we create.
So how do I feel when someone says I have inspired them to try a new shape, or new pattern, or to try EPP? In a word, humbled. It brings me so much joy to know that the passion I have for EPP and Slow stitching inspires others. I am deeply passionate about traditional crafts and keeping them alive, moving them forward in new modern interpretations, but always acknowledging the past and where they have come from. To be able to inspire others makes what I create worthwhile. It gives me purpose and it encourages me to pursue my passion and follow my dreams. It feeds my creativity and nurtures it at the same time.
I hope you have found this post inspiring and you enjoy this space where I share my creative musings.