Are you ready to sneak a peek inside a new sewing bag?!
As is the case with most of my quilty friends, Claire and I connected over on Instagram. I’m not even sure exactly how we first met, but we’ve bonded over all things fabric, quilting, and a common fear of sky diving – ha!
Not only is Claire super talented, has an eye for modern design, and creates stunning quilt patterns, but she’s also a kind soul who is always willing to help a quilty friend out.
Without further ado, let’s dive into Claire’s sewing kit!
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Introduction – tell us a little about yourself! How did you get started on your quilting journey?
I’m Claire, the one behind the creative life of Made Just Sew. I am based in Stratford Upon Avon in the UK with my two daughters, husband and trusty side-kick Dillon, our Cocker Spaniel. I have always been creative and there were signs of a passion for sewing from a young age as I remember digging out my Mum’s unused sewing machine one summer and making my own curtains and duvet cover for my bedroom at the age of about 16. This was years before the internet and You-Tube and I have no idea how I managed to do it looking back!
Life and career then got in the way and I didn’t pick up a sewing machine again until my eldest daughter was born and I borrowed my mother-in-laws sewing machine to make some cushions for Lucy’s room. From there I started making Keepsakes from her old clothes which grew into a tiny Etsy shop.
What stemmed from that was a huge love for quilts. This slowly took over and in the midst of the first wave of the pandemic in 2020 I wrote my first quilt pattern – the Retro Metro Quilt. I haven’t stopped since and now have six quilt patterns released including one that was featured in Love Patchwork and Quilting Magazine last year and was also very lucky to be a Quiltmas Elf along with yourself for Quiltmas Spectacular last Christmas!
Whaaa – I can’t believe you made your own curtains and duvet cover when you were 16 – that’s crazy (in a good way 😊)! I also didn’t know that you had your own Etsy shop – funny how that’s often the starting point for so many creative businesses. Also, can I just say it sounds magical when you say you live in “Stratford Upon Avon”! I have images of rolling hills and small cottages scattered about (probably way off, right?!)!
What kind of sewing bag do you have? (e.g. did you make it? Buy it?)
Now don’t be alarmed – but my sewing bag is NOT quilted and I didn’t make it myself! BUT I do remember where I bought it. We were on a family holiday in Cornwall in the UK and I remember picking it up in the shop and my husband remarking ‘why do you need that, what will you use it for?’. And he was right – I had no use for it, but you know when you just get drawn to something. It eventually found its place in my creative world for holding all of my hand-sewing items and comes with me on every vacation.
It’s made from canvas material and looks like it is screen printed with fish on the outside and lovely nautical stripes on the inside and instantly reminds me of the sea-side where we were when I bought it.
LOL – I pass no judgment on the origins of a fellow sewists sewing bag 😉 I think it’s hilarious that your husband questioned the use you’d get out of your pouch, but sometimes our guts just know better! Plus, I think it’s so fun to pick up items during our travels that remind us of happy times when we use them!
What are your all-star essentials? Your tried-and-true must-haves that you can never run out of?
There is always Aurifil thread on hand and a pack of good needles! I went to the Stitch Festival in London a few weeks ago and picked up my first pack of Tulip milliners’ needles to try out – these are the brand of needles and pins that come in the really pretty test tube with a cork in the top! And couldn’t resist giving them a try! I’m always on the lookout for the perfect needle!
The other must-have item in my sewing bag is a leather thimble. I have a few and they are essential in maintaining a good grip and protecting your fingers.
Oh, gosh, I LOVE my *leather thimble. I can’t live without it and fear the day I lose my well-worn in one! I’d love to know your thoughts on the *Tulip milliners’ needles. I picked up a set but have yet to give them a go (not sure why, as they’re sitting in my travel kit!). The pretty tube does make me smile whenever I spy it in my bag 😊
What is your favourite item in your kit? Why?
But I love all my quilty things equally! Such a hard question……….. I do love my magnetic needle minder that I keep on the front of my sewing bag next to my Great British Quilter badge. It is REALLY handy for keeping those loose needles under control and not lost down the sofa! It was part of a gift I received when I collaborated with Caterpillar Cross Stitch last summer, when I turned my Collider Quilt Pattern into a cross-stitch.
Hahaha – I know, the struggle is real! Oh, I haven’t tried using a needle minder, but there are so many cute options that I’ve been tempted. I seem to rely on my pincushions the most for keeping track of my needle. Maybe I need to revisit that?!
What’s one thing we’d be surprised to find in your bag?
Probably my little wooden Jenerates Quilting Ruler. This was a Birthday gift from a lovely friend of mine this year and I’ve put it in my sewing bag, so I always have a ruler with me for all those ‘just in case’ moments.
Another item that probably isn’t obvious is the felt ‘Caravan’. This was a gift from many years ago and has stuck with me all this time. It’s a great needle minder and is where all my needles go after I’ve taken them out of their packets and used them.
I just went down the Jenerates rabbit hole perusing their Etsy shop! And I couldn’t love your felt Caravan more – it’s just too cuuuuute! Gosh, this is what I love, seeing these special items that are unique to your kit!
QUILT KITS WILL TRAVEL
When do you find yourself using your kit the most? (Travelling, on the sofa, attending sew-ins?)
This is the first thing I grab when I go to finish off any binding. I love to hand stitch all my binding and it’s just really handy to have everything you need in one place and not waste time searching for anything. It’s also my travel kit and comes with me on every holiday. I love passing the time in the car hand sewing something.
I recently bought some beautiful hand-printed tulip fabric from the Stitch Festival, which is white on white, but the lady who sold it had filled the tulips in with seed stitches on a demonstration piece, and I was instantly drawn to it. This fabric and some beautiful variegated embroidery thread are now in my sewing bag ready to get started on when I have some ‘slow stitch’ time, which will most probably be when we’re on holiday in May.
We twin, my friend! I’m all about hand stitching my binding down too, I just love the clean finish it gives. Having my kit stocked with all my hand sewing essentials keeps me organized and ready for binding action at a moment’s notice! I’m so curious to see your seed stitching project. I love those kinds of textural details and bet it will be glorious to stitch up too!
I noticed the tube of hand cream and love that it seems made for sewers! Do you love it?
What’s your favourite travel memory with your sewing bag?
Camping! Sewing and camping go hand in hand for me. It’s a slower pace of life where the kids can run free, and I have a chance to sit and take some time to myself. We try to stay off our phones and social media when we are away, so sewing helps to entertain my hands and mind is the perfect way to unwind.
I love that, Claire. While I camped up a storm when I was young, when I met my hubs he was less into camping and more into cottaging – ha 😉But I still try and stay off screens while I’m up in nature to really soak in the calm serenity.
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU?
Tell people where we can find you?
Anything else you’d like to share?
I have just announced that I am one of the teachers for this year’s Quilt Summit over at Rebecca Paige. You can sign up to get my class on how to make a quilted cushion using my very own patchwork design. Join 33 other amazing quilt teachers and their classes here!
Amazing! What a fantastic opportunity to stitch, pick up a new technique and spend time with fellow quilters!
Thank you so much, Claire, for sharing more about your quilt journey and the special items you sneak into your sewing bag. You’ve reminded me that I need to > finally < tuck into my Tulip needles and give them a go!
For more quilty inspiration, check out:
- Krista from Poppyprint
- Cheri from Tinkerellen
- Lisa from Sew Curated
- Tiffany from Village Bound Quilts
- Saija from Saija Elina
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