Author Archives: veryberryhandmade

About veryberryhandmade

Mum, artisan, gardener, baker, home-schooler

Artist Trading Card Swap – Sign ups now open!

It’s time for an ATC swap! This is the 6th Very Berry Textile Artist Trading Card Swap – and I can’t tell you how proud I am of the little swapping community we have built up, and how pleased I am to have made so many online friends, all because of this swap. If you haven’t participated before, we’d love to have you along for the ride – all we ask is that you read the rules and commit to the posting dates!

The theme this time round is Home Sweet Home – please feel free to interpret this however you like. Your card can reflect the building where you live, the place where you live, what makes a home….

Spring ATC sign up

If ATCs are new to you – here’s some info about what all this is about and the rules of the swap:

1) What’s an ATC?

ATC stands for Artist’s Trading Card, and it’s basically the creative, unique and arty version of a business card.

2) OK, so what’s the point of an ATC?

It’s a way to be creative on a small scale, try out new techniques and skills in a non-threatening way. Lots of people collect these mini pieces of art, swap them, and give them as gifts.

3) Ok, I’m interested, tell me the details – What size is an ATC?

Your ATC must measure 3.5″x2.5″ (6.4cm by 8.9cm) – about the size of a business card. You can use the card in either portrait or landscape orientation. Don’t make the card too thick – no more than 1/8″ (3-4mm) please.

4) But what’s a textile ATC?

The majority of your ATC must be fabric and there must be at least a little bit of stitching involved. But otherwise, the world is your oyster. You can use any techniques that you want to try, e.g. applique, embroidery, patchwork, beading, cross-stitch, fusing fabrics, colouring fabrics, using fabric paints or ink stamps, you can even include crochet, weaving or knitting.

5) I’m really interested – where can I see some textile ATCs?

There is a Very Berry ATC swap group on Flickr, where you can see photos of cards made for previous swaps.

6) Wow – they are brilliant, I’m in, where do I sign up?

Hang on, read the rules first!

  • You will make 1 ATC and receive 1 ATC in return.
  • Your card must be the right size and fit the theme.
  • Your card must have your name and the date on reverse (you can include your web address/email and the title of your card too if you want to).
  • The theme for ATC swap 6 is Home Sweet Home – please feel free to interpret that however you like!
  • Please sign up by leaving a comment on this post and dropping me an email at veryberryhandmade (at) gmail (dot) com by 6pm on Tuesday 3rd March. I will send you an email with a few questions (just a bit of basic info for the swap) on Wednesday 4th March and you must respond by 6pm on Friday 6th March. Partners will be assigned by Monday 9th March.
  • It will be a secret swap (you will not be sending to the person you receive your card from) so please don’t let your partner know who you are!
  • Participation is open to anyone anywhere in the world (the ATCs wont be too pricey to send), so please be prepared to send overseas if you join in (but I will *try* to make exceptions if you are really stuck for cash… just let me know).
  • Cards must be posted during the week 20th – 24th April (or a little earlier if you are posting overseas and you can manage it).
  • Please do not include anything else in your parcel, except a note if you like!
  • Once you have received your ATC, you must get in touch with your partner to say thanks.
  • Although you don’t have to be a Flickr user to join in with this swap, it is fun for everyone if you join in with the community there, and share pictures of your progress and your completed card. Please try and do this if you can!
  • If you blog, use FB, Twitter or Instagram, please feel free to share your ATC swap progress, and definitely share pictures of the ATC you receive from your swap partner, if you can. Please use #veryberryatcswap to tag your posts.
  • Serious bit: Before signing up, please think for a minute whether you can put aside enough time to make something lovely and thoughtful for your swap partner, and whether you will be able to meet the deadlines.

That’s it for now – leave a comment if you are in! Oh, and here’s a little button if you want one for your blog – just copy and paste the code below.

Very Berry ATC Swap 6
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Very Berry ATC Swap 6"><img src="" alt="Very Berry ATC Swap 6" style="border:none;" /></a></div>


Filed under ATC, swap

Simplicity Pattern Giveaway Winners & news of the ATC swap

Thanks so much to all who joined in with the Simplicity patterns giveaway. I really enjoyed reading all your comments – and a bit sad really that so many of us had our enjoyment of sewing drummed out of us at school! But how great that so many of us have found new inspiration and friends through the internet.

So I am especially pleased that both the winners are long term readers of Very Berry:

Simplicity patterns

Comment number 5 was left by Jennifer – congratulations to her.

Simplicity patterns 2

And the other winner was Carole – congrats to her too.

A couple of people have asked about the next ATC swap. I am sorry it is later than I had planned – I have deadlines for Friday, but my plan is to open sign ups at the weekend, so look out for the sign up post!

Leave a comment

Filed under giveaway

Summer Sewing Patterns Giveaway

Did you have Needlework/Sewing lessons at school? I think I am probably amongst the last generation of schoolchildren who did. Wow, those lessons put me off sewing for a good long time… I was so scared of the teacher and her tutting as I failed to control the Bernina machine and messed up the setting of a sleeve for the 100th time. There was one girl in my class who always produced the most perfect finished projects, and the rest of us were constantly amazed at her outstanding sewing skills, despairing of our ham-fistedness. Looking back now, I realise that the level of skill was a bit of a give away, and that she had probably had considerable help from her mum (my mum had a full-time job running a business and anyway, didn’t really believe in helping too much with homework!) – I wish I had figured that out at the time, I would have felt a lot better about it.

I wonder if it is those early experiences of sewing that still makes me find opening up a paper pattern a little bit daunting. Fortunately, there is such a huge amount of helpful info on the web about sewing and interpreting patterns on the web these days – there is nothing to be scared of. All this reminiscing was sparked by the folks at Simplicity patterns getting in touch to ask me to be part of their Blogger Circle (you can sign up too – here are the details).


It prompted me to take a look at their website, which I haven’t visited before. There is so much good stuff there! All sorts of helpful advice about how to understand and read patterns, as well as loads of information about general sewing techniques. It makes me wish that the internet had existed back in the days when I was struggling with those school lessons.

Simplicity have kindly sent me some patterns to give away to Very Berry readers.


The patterns are New Look 6288, New Look 6323, Simplicity 1363 and Simplicity 1662 – a selection of floaty tops and skirts that will be fantastic for summer!

I will draw 2 winners – the first prize winner will select 2 of the patterns, and the 2nd prize winner will get the other 2. Just leave a comment before midnight (GMT) on Monday 23 Feb to be in with a chance of winning. I am happy to post anywhere in the world.

Good luck! 


Filed under giveaway, pattern, sewing, Uncategorized

Tutorial: Simple Squares Patchwork Cushion



This is a simple design using low value (darker) and high value (lighter) Liberty prints in a narrow colour range to create a cushion top that uses lots of these beautiful prints but is still an effective and not-too-busy design. If you don’t get what I mean by high and low value then I recommend you check out this really clear explanation (especially the first bit) on The Elven Garden blog.



The patchwork squares used for the pattern are  3″ x 3″, so you will need (at most) 6″ x 12″ square of each print, which makes this an ideal project for my mini singles (available in my Folksy and Etsy shops) – you would need seven mini-singles for this project. I will also custom cut squares for you if you like – so just get in touch via email for a quote.

Pattern notes:

This pattern makes a 16″ cushion cover to fit an 18″ cushion pad (for a nice, plump, well-filled cushion).

The cushion has a simple envelope back, with one bound edge:


All seams are 0.25″ unless otherwise noted.

You will need:

  • 4 low value Liberty prints and 3 high value Liberty prints in a single colour or two closely related colours (e.g. blue and purple or red and pink)
  • 13″ square piece of woven iron-on interfacing
  • About 18″ by 30″ fabric for the borders of the cushion top and for the back of the cushion (half a metre would give you plenty). Linen is a lovely choice for this, but there are lots of other options – Fassett shot cottons, Oakshott cottons and Moda crossweaves are all great choices
  • Additional Liberty scraps for binding the cushion back (you will have plenty if you have bought mini-singles for this project)
  • At least 23″x17″ low volume fusible fleece (I use Vilene H630)
  • 19″ square piece of batting (doesn’t really matter which sort)
  • About 19″ by 45″ lining fabric – pre-washed quilters’ calico is good for this if you want a cheap simple lining
  • 18″ cushion pad

Cutting list:

From the Liberty lawn cut:

  • Five 3″ squares from 1 one of the low value prints
  • Four 3″ squares from each of the 3 other low value prints
  • Two 3″ squares from each of the 4 high value prints

From the edging and backing fabric cut:

  • 2 pieces measuring 2.5″ × 13″
  • 2 pieces measuring 2.5″ by 17″
  • 2 pieces measuring 11.5″ by 17″

From the lining fabric cut:

  • 1 piece measuring 19″ square
  • 2 pieces measuring 11.5″ by 17″

From the fusible fleece cut 2 pieces measuring 11.5″ by 17″

For the binding, from left over scraps of Liberty cut nine 2.5″ by 2″ rectangles, or from a single piece of Liberty (or other coordinating fabric) cut one strip measuring 2″ by 17″.

Step 1: Stitch the patchwork panel

Lay the squares out so that one of the squares of the 5 low value squares from the same print is at the centre, then the high value squares arranged the central low value square, and the rest of the low value squares arranged round the outside edge. You should have something like this:


Make a note of your arrangement (a quick photo capture is a good trick, especially if you are going to have to leave this part stitched!), or leave the arrangement in place as you stitch, and then stitch into 5 rows like this:


Arrange your rows again to make sure you have everything in the right place, and then iron each row so that seam allowance is pressed to one side, alternating sides for adjacent rows, as you can see in the picture:


Taking the first two rows, pin them together, matching all the seam lines first, then stitch. Add the other rows in turn, and when you have finished, press the seams to one side. The finished patchwork section should look something like this:


Fuse the woven iron-on interfacing to the back of the Liberty patchwork. This is not essential, but it strengthens the patchwork, and will give it a bit of extra weight, especially if you are stitching it to heavier fabric like linen.

Step 2: Add the borders

Take the two 2.5″ by 13″ pieces of border fabric and pin, right sides together, on either side of the patchwork panel. Stitch then, press the seams towards linen.




Repeat with the 2 other pieces of linen, on the other 2 sides of the cushion top:



Step 3: Quilt the cushion top

Place the cushion top lining right side down on your work surface. Put the cushion top wadding on top, positioned centrally. Finally put the completed cushion patchwork on top, right side facing. Pin these three layers together in preparation for quilting.


Decide how you want to quilt the cushion top. I machine quilted round either side of the high value row, and then stitched another square, on the linen edging, close to the seam line with the patchwork – sorry it’s a bit tricky to see in the picture, but this bit is up to you anyway!


Once you have finished your quilting, trim the lining fabric, wadding and cushion top to a perfect 17″ square.



Step 4: Make the back sections

Iron fusible fleece to both pieces of outer backing fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Next make the binding for the cushion back by stitching the nine 2.5″ by 2″ Liberty scraps together, matching the 2″ edges. This will create a strip measuring 2″ by 18″, which you can trim to 2″ by 17″. You don’t need to do this if you have another 2″ by 17″ piece of fabric you can use.

Take the strip, fold and press in half lengthways. Unfold again, then fold the two outer edges to the centre line and press to crease. Fold down the middle again and press really thoroughly to create the binding. It should look something like this:


Take the one of the backing fabric pieces and one of the lining fabric pieces and put them wrong sides together. Unfold the binding and  align one of the raw edges of the binding with one of the long edges of the linen/lining combo.



Pin along the long edge, and then stitch along the first crease in the binding.


Fold the binding round to enclose the raw edge and slip stitch (blind hem stitch) the binding in place on the wrong side.

Take the other piece of outer back fabric and the corresponding lining piece, and put them right sides together. Stitch together along one of the long edges with a 0.25″ seam.

Turn right side out and press the seam – top stitch close to the edge of the seam to create a nice neat finish. Your two back pieces should look like this:




Now it’s time to assemble all the bits for the final stages. Put the cushion top, right side up, on your work surface. Put the bound half of the back right side down on top (sorry – I wish I had used a different colour fabric for the lining, but believe me, that it is the lining side you can see!), all lined up with the left hand edge of the cushion top:



Place the other half of the cushion back on top, with the stitched edge towards the centre of the cushion, and the long raw edge aligned with the right hand edge of the cushion top. Pin all round the edge, then stitch all round the edge with a scant 0.5″ seam.


Because I don’t like my cushions to have ears, I like to curve the corners. To do this, after the cushion is all stitched together I mark curved corners using any usefully sized round thing I have lying around (bottom of a mug, pin box lid, large cotton reel), and then I stitch the line. As you can see from the pic, it is a really good idea to shorten the length of your stitches when you stitch curves.


At this stage I like to turn the cushion through and take a good look to make sure that everything is as it should be before I start trimming anything away that should not be trimmed!

Once you are happy that all is ok with the cushion, neaten the seam edge, making a row of zig-zag stitch, fairly close to the seam line, within the seam allowance.  Then trim the excess seam allowance away so that it measures a generous 0.25″.



Strengthen the stitching where the 2 halves of the back section overlap, with an extra row of tight zig-zag stitch (sorry about horrid photo, I hadn’t trimmed my seam allowance neatly at this stage):



All that remains is to give your cushion a thorough pressing to make the seams nice and sharp before you insert your cushion pad, plump up that pillow and admire!


I made a red one too:



Sorry to people who like pdfs for tutorials – I will sort one out imminently, but now I have to go do a bit of singing!


Filed under etsy, folksy, handmade, patchwork, pattern, quilting, sewing, shop, tutorial, Uncategorized

Starry cushions & a reading list update

Just after Christmas I made a simple two-fabric cushion for Love Sewing magazine. I was delighted to see it appear in a little inset on the cover, when my mag arrived earlier in the week. Being on the cover NEVER gets old:

Front cover

And, as usual, the lovely Editor, Helen, has styled it so beautifully – I would love this simple white chair she’s used – what a great prop that would make in my photography corner:

Ohio Star cushionBefore I got started on my design for the magazine I did a prototype version of the cushion top, and finally got round to finishing it last week:

IMG_4516 IMG_4490

The beautiful Macaron fabric is by Yuwa, and I bought it from a favourite Etsy shop of mine, Nana Gracy. The dusty pink Essex linen is from my pal Gwen at Celtic Fusion Fabrics. I did a bit of machine quilting, but also did some hand quilting, using cotton perlé. I really enjoyed making these – I think they show that a couple of beautiful fabrics, used in a simple block, can make a really striking cushion.

A couple of people have asked about my progress with the Reading Challenge with Bringing Up Burns. If you missed it before, the aim is to read 26 books during the year, each book fitting a suggestion on this list. My first choice was a biography of Elizabeth Gaskell for the #Book with a Female Hero category – I have finally finished it, which means that I am already 2 weeks behind..!  Panicking a bit, I decided that I’d read an old favourite for the next book, something that I know I can finish at top speed:

Reading Challenge - Diary of a NobodyI could have used this for #Book I Have Read Before or #Book with Pictures, but as I have some others in mind for those categories, I decided to use it for #Book Written More than 10 Years Ago. I love this vintage Everyman paperback copy – makes it even more of a pleasure to ready about Charles and Carrie Pooter and their awful son Lupin (surely the best name in literature). It will certainly cheer up these cold February days. How are all you other readers doing out there? I am quite enjoying finding books to fit the themes – I made a great big order from Awesome Books the other day, but more about my choices when they arrive…




Filed under Love Sewing, magazines, patchwork, sewing

Arm and Finger Knitting

So excited to be part of the blog tour for a fab new book – Arm and Finger Knitting by Laura Strutt of Made Peachy. Here are the other dates if you want to be an Arm Knitting groupie!

Arm and finger knitting blog tour

It’s great when you get hold of a book about a craft that is completely new to you and you love it from the start… I was ordering yarn so that I could have a go, literally minutes after the book arrived through my letter box.

As you can see from the pictures here, a lot of the projects are really enticing, which made me enthusiastic about learning this new skill.

Arm and finger knitting collage

I sometimes find it really tricky to learn from pictures, but the ones in Arm and Finger Knitting are plentiful, clear and instructive, so I didn’t have too much trouble. I taught myself from the book and nearly completed an Infinity Scarf too, all in the time it took to watch a couple of episodes of Cranford (and drink a Cuba Libre!), so you can see how straightforward it is. And very gratifying having something to wear almost immediately. My kind of crafting!

I didn’t really know what to expect – for some reason I thought that arm knitting would involve enormous movements of the arms which would mean no one would share the sofa with me (result!), but it was much more restrained than that, and I found it very intuitive. I only had a couple of issues – I struggled a bit with casting on, because you really have to make sure you are holding each bit of yarn in the right place and in the right way, but once you see the sense of it, that flows pretty easily. When making the scarf itself, the pattern calls for you to use 4 strands of yarn, and I did make the rookie error of losing a strand at once stage – I had to unknit a couple of rows, but that’s no real trial when a row is only 8 stitches!

I confess I haven’t tried the finger knitting, but would really like to, especially as quite a few of the projects combine the two techniques really nice – I love the arm knitted cushion with the woven finger knitting strips, and will definitely be having a go of that one.  Looking at the technique pictures, and at some of the smaller things you can do with finger knitting (corsage, hair bow, hearts), I think it would be a great technique to do with kids. Especially with kids like mine who struggle with motor skills and would find fingers easier than knitting needles I am sure.

There’s a great mix of projects in the book – some for the home and some to wear, and I really like the variety of different yarns that are suggested too – there are lots that are new to me. Laura has a real knack for selecting the right yard for the right project, but if you want to start experimenting (why not?), there’s some really good information about how to substitute yarn for the projects in the book.

So, here’s my finished scarf!

Arm knitted scarf 2


I used the suggested yarn brands of Rowan Big Wool and Rowan Thick and Thin (and ordered from the super-fast Deramores who are fantastic), but chose different colours – I went with the Big Wool in a shade called Champion (every time I read that, I say it in a Yorkshire accent in my head), and for the Thick and Thin I selected the shade called Soapstone. When they arrived I was a bit worried that they wouldn’t work together, but they actually look great knitted up.

Here’s the scarf in action, all ready for the scary cold weather we have today:

Arm knitted scarf

I completely love it! So thanks to Cico Books for the opportunity to be part of the tour, and to Laura for writing such a fun book!


Filed under books, inspiration, knitting, reviews

Putting together a Promo Postcard

I hope you’ve seen my postcard competition? I haven’t had very many entries (yet?) so I thought I would encourage you a bit with some waffle about why promo postcards are A Good Thing.

I love sending postcards to customers along with their parcels, I think it’s a great use of my marketing budget; I hope it’s one of the things that helps me stand out from the crowd.  I also love to send a personal note to say thanks, and I know from my feedback that my customers appreciate that too.

I like to have 2 or 3 different styles of postcard on the go at once. This is the current ‘general promo’ card that I send out:

Current postcards

My aim with this card is to highlight the different sides of my business – fabric selling and sewing pattern design. I chose some of my favourite images of my makes and of my fabric collection. Top tip 1My main aim here is to give an idea of my style, to give customers an idea of all the stuff I do (some of my fabric customers wont know that I blog and write sewing tutorials for example), and also to give them a way of contacting me if they need or want to.

I used PicMonkey to create the postcard jpg file to send to printers.  This free image editing software (you can upgrade to a paid for version if you want the ‘Royale’ features) is really excellent, especially for creating collages, where you can compile images, and add text and overlays. I really recommend it if (like me!) you haven’t got fancy software like Photoshop.

Recently I’ve also started to order a more general postcard, ready to post out with craft swaps, or to to send along with parcels to regular customers who have received all my other cards, and must be totally sick of them…! I like to have more that one of these on the go at once. I like to use pictures of something I have made, or if I can, something from my home town/area – I think this is especially good to include when I’m sending swaps. Here’s my most recent version – after mentioning it last week, I couldn’t resist getting one of my old ATCs printed up as a postcard. I splashed out an extra fiver and got them printed up on the back too.

Comps postcards

Top tip 2I shop around for good deals on postcards – I usually manage to get mine for between 20p and 25p per card (cheaper than a gift card!). I have used MOO, Goodprint and myprint247 – all with excellent results.  In the past I have also printed postcards myself, using plain index cards – they make a really good economy option.

Most online printers are really simple to use, it is just a question of making sure your image file is the right size and allowing for the bleed. These dimensions will always be listed on the printer’s website. It sounds hideous, but the bleed is just the area that will be trimmed off once your postcard is printed, so you need to make sure that there is no essential part of your image, and none of your text, is outside the smaller measurement that is listed for the card.

So why not have a think about how you’d promote your business on a postcard…I’d love to see your designs if you’d like to enter the competition.




Filed under Business, competition, selling