Tag Archives: fabric stash

Wedding Belles – we did the I dos

Wedding Belles – we did the I dos

After months of anticipation and planning our daughter, Hannah’s wedding to Craig was this weekend. The Home Coaching sewing lounge became a hair and make up studio with no boys allowed!

Flower Crafting

The crafting has been taking place throughout the year with Hannah making paper flowers for the bouquets, corsages and button holes. Lots of the Moyes clan females made flowers, when we met up in the summer, to start the flower wall.


The Cake

I was comissioned to make a cake with three tirers of sponge cake: red velvet, lemon and carrot cakes. The purple theme was used with pearl and gold embellishments.

I had one cake tin in each size so gradually made the cakes and stashed them in the freezer. Planning ahead meant I was not too fazed when one of the carrot cakes was an epic fail! Thankfully the next attempt worked fine.

Decorating had to be done at the last moment as fillings included cream and cream cheese. So after the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner we set to.

Wedding Dress

Hannah is woman who know what she wants and often amazes me with her quick choices when shopping. This is a skill she uses in her job as a merchandiser. This was no exception when I went down south to go wedding dress shopping. Hannah had seen an Anna Sorrano dress she liked online and tried this on first. This being the first time I had ever seen my daughter in a wedding dress, I wasn’t sure if my “wow” response was due to just that. However, after trying a few more dresses we quickly returned to the first one, a classic a-line gown with long sleeves and sequin lace .

We hadn’t been sure if we would make a dress, as I had for my wedding, but felt that for all the fabric and inner corsetry, we certainly wouldn’t save any money by making from scratch and we felt we had found the right dress. Nick was sent a text with a picture of Hannah wearing the dress but had to delete it from his phone. It was then kept secret until the big day.

There was the conundrum of the wedding dress swishing down the isle of the church, but then not getting in the way of partying. We solved this on my return South by removing lots of the underneath layers of the skirt at hip level and turning them into an under skirt. This involved trying the dress on lots of times on the hottest day of the year – the last Sunday in August! The sleeves were taken in to fit snugly and the hem length checked with Hannah wearing her purple heels.

Here is Hannah and Nick arriving at the church, with the the dress  A-shape with the underskirt layers. Dior is quoted as saying “I have designed flower women”, when referring to the A-shapes. Incidently I am rather envious of Hannah who will be visiting the Dior exhibition later this week in Paris.

And here is Hannah and Craig dancing, showing the dress without the underskirt layers, and with the train fastened up using a button and loop.

Mother of the Bride Outfit

Back in Sheffield, I chose a Vogue pattern which suited my love of putting fabrics together as well as my shape. Now my attic studio was originally Hannah’s bedroom and needed to be reinstated as such. This meant much sorting and clearing up was required. The great thing of sorting through my fabric stash under the eves, was finding I already had the fabrics for my dress!

Also found was a cotton jacket I had stashed away from a charity shop spree, which I had never worn as it was a bright yellow (cheerful but not one of my colours) and was rather dated with it’s shoulder pads and long length.

The pads, buttons and lining were removed and the jacket dyed with a dye I had also had a while, to tone down the bright yellow to a paler pink.

I had chosen some wool on a trip to Wingham Wool in Wentworth, earlier in the year and set to with the embellishing machine. I chose navy, jade, grey and purple wool, a turquise silk and a blend.Playing led to a swirling design, which turned out reminiscent of some of Van Gogh’s skys.

Unlike my sewing machine, the embellisher isn’t designed for sleeves so these needed their seams unpicking. Felting caused the sleeves not to be long or wide enough, so some calico was added and then needle felted. The loss of length on the jacket was not an issue as I wanted it shorter, and I remodelled the front facing to get the front to fit.

The upcycling continued as a silk blouse that no longer fitted me was used to line the jacket.

I used the cotton from one of my Grandpa’s old shirts I also had in my stash to make a toile of the dress bodice. I hadn’t used a Vogue pattern with different pieces for different cup sizes before so wanted to test it out. I had to adjust the fit on the shoulders, and across my upper chest and after fiddling around to get the toile to fit, decided to use it as the bodice lining.

Since I had already cut down the length and re-fitted the waist of my wedding dress netted underskirt (sadly I am not the same waist size I was at age 19!), I decided this would be right for the circle skirt of the dress.

The sleeves also needed adjusting for a better fit.

As I was using some silk for the mid setion, I found I needed to add interfacing to this for a smooth fit.

The simple dress lines are enhanced by top stitching, but I did need to unpick some of this to get one shoulder to lie flat!

Here is the non fitting shoulder

And then modified

I used an invisible zip from my stash, which worked although a little shorter than the length suggested in the pattern.

The pattern instructions were clear to follow.

The hem was finished using horsehair braid, which is great to add body to a hem. I wasn’t totally happy with the finish of the hem as it was a little ruckled. However it was good that I was staying with my mother in law when I was finishing the dress, as she was able to give me a pep talk that it is only me who would notice this!

My Hat

I chose a one colour hat which was not too high, as I am already tall. The added bonus was this was in the sale! I trimmed this up with a fabric flower from offcuts from the dress and some feathers in the jacket colours.
As it’s been rather windy lately,to keep my hat on,  I embellished a filigre hat pin, to go with a couple of vintage plain hat pins inherited from my grandmother.

With all the saving, using inherited vintage items  and up-cycling, I was able to justify a Radley handbag which was in both petrol and purple!

The Pavers court shoes I chose were navy and purple and I wore them while sewing to “wear them into my feet”.

So the anticipated wedding day came and now we have so many happy memories shared with family and friends, and also with you. I do hope you have enjoyed sharing the special day with us.

I am likely to post more pictures on Instagram and on my Facebook page as they become available.

Replacement Cover – Ironing Board Hack

I show you that creating a replacement cover for an ironing board is quick, easy and inexpensive.

I love the convenience of my Ikea JALL table ironingboards which I use in the guest room and in my textile workshops. It was the Simple Sew Sheffield launch which made me stocktake and realise that one ironingboard was really not fit to be seen in public. I’m not sure I really want to “bare all” and show you how tatty it had got here, but in true before and after style, I have decided I will.

ironing board hack BEFORE

Not a pretty sight heh?

Replacement Cover

Ikea sell replacement covers for their larger ironing boards but not for the table ironingboard.  I am really into up-cycling rather than replacing so I set about investigating how to make a replacement cover.

Going to my fabric stash I found a piece of cotton just the right size. It was a remmenant I was offered very cheaply at Economy Fabrics. This project needs 90 x 40 cm of fabric.


Taking the existing cover off, I found the wadding still usable and used it as a pattern, adding 5cm all around

Using the wadding as a pattern

I decided to improve on the single wadding and added some Insul Bright heat resistant wadding. This wadding feels more like felt and contains heat-resistant properties, often Mylar fibre which is used in the space programme.  It is ideal for such projects as place mats, cool bags, tea cosies etc. where it is important to keep things hot, keep them cold or protect surfaces from extreme temperatures.

I was glad I did add this extra wadding as the board is not only more padded and so nicer to use, pressing seems quicker too. In order to prevent the two layers of wadding sliding around I sewed them together using a large zig zag stitch.

sewing wadding layers together

Binding the Cover

I used pink bias binding, to edge and create a casing to thread some cord through.

I often make my own binding but for speed I used some matching bought binding I had in my stash. This project used 1.8m of binding and 2 m of cord.

adding bias binding

Open out the binding and place right side to the wrong side of the fabric, on the edge of the cut out cover fabric. Sew along the fold line. This makes it easy to then turn over to the right side  and sew along the egde to secure and form the casing. before turning over the binding and sewing the second line of stitching, clip the seam around the curved parts so that the cover will lie flat.

clipping the curves

Finishing the replacement cover

I used a safety pin attached to one end of the new cord to thread it through the pink casing I had made.

threading new cord through the casing

Make sure you secure the other end though! You may be able to reuse the existing cord, but mine had weakened too much.

To complete this hack, just lay the cover face down, place the wadding on top (of the wrong side) and then lay the iron board on top. Pull up the cord so the cover gathers up to fit the ironing board. Tie the ends of the cord together.

And voilla, you have made a replacement cover and a good as new, or even better, ironing board.

ironing board hack after – back

ironing board hack after – front

If this blog post inspires you to investigate updating worn out items, I would love to hear about your projects.

Splendid Shreds of Silk & Satin

This week it is 200 years since the birth of Charlotte Bronte and I have stitched a small patchwork quilt to celebrate this bicentenary, as part of The Brontë Challenge. Helen Moyes Designs Bronte Quilt

The Brontë Challenge invited Yorkshire quilters to make a small quilt reflecting this quote from Jane Eyre:

A certain little drawer, full of splendid shreds of silk and satin”

I challenged myself to only use both natural materials (silk, cotton and wool), and to only use items I already had in “my drawers”.

My circular quilt, reflects the turning of time and includes vintage silk tie ends, reflecting the romantic genre of Bronte’s novels. As I sewed, I wondered “who has worn these silk ties, and what are their stories?”

Helen Moyes Sewing a story with vintage silk ties

For the centre I used some hand pieced hexagons, I had been passed on by my friend Di, representing friendship, also a main theme in Brontë novels. Di had made these almost 50 years ago.

Helen Moyes Sewing Friendships

I used some cotton cream damask from my fabric stash for the base of my quilt front and up-cycled 2 layers of a “fulled” woollen jumper as the centre batting.

Helen Moyes Up-cycling for Bronte QuiltThe quilting was also done by hand, using variegated cotton thread.

Helen Moyes Hand Quilting Bronte Challenge

I also took some design inspiration from a patchwork quilt worked on by the Brontë sisters and their Aunt Branwell. This patchwork quilt remains unfinished but is double bed size. It is clear from Charlotte’s letters, sewing was not her favourite activity, but then it was more of an expected, rather than chosen, feminine activity in the 1800s and as a governess she was given lots of mending to do.

  Original Bronte Quilt top

Measuring 187cm x 214cm, the quilt consists of silks, taffetas, velvets and cotton and has a calico backing. It has been hand-sewn and the stitches are neat and even. In some places, the quilt has faded and it is possible to see backing papers, such as newspaper, which was common practice in quilt-making at the time. The Brontës also appear to have used fragments of old letters as paper templates.

The quilt is unfinished and was passed on to the family of Martha Brown, the Brontë family’s servant. The Brontë Society purchased the quilt in 1924.

atchwork quilt worked on by the Brontë sisters and their Aunt BranwellBronte Parsonage Museum

Over 50 small quilts, made to an even smaller than the usual “lap quilt” size specification I like to make, were submitted and are now hung as part of the exhibition. Mine was the only circular quilt, and my viewers choice vote goes to number 11, a more unusual collection of miniature pieces.

Bankfield Museum Bronte Quilt ChallengeYou can see my photo showing more detail on my Facebook page.

A few Sheffield Quilters made a new version of the Brontë quilt that is also in the Bankfield exhibition, alongside the original quilt.

Helen Moyes -Sarah Williamson Resurgam bronte Quilt

This new quilt is named “Resurgam”, the latin for “I will rise again”, which is inscribed on the headstone of the character helen Burns in Charlotte bronte’s novel Jane Eyre.

Resurgam is designed by my friend and fellow Sheffield quilter Sarah Williamson in memory of her father, Sir Raymond Potter, of Halifax, who was born on April 21st 1916 exactly 100 years after Charlotte. I had enjoyed a sneak preview of the quilt at Sarah’s home earlier this year, and was especially impressed by the way Sarah had reproduced the idea of printed paper pieces showing through the worn almost 200 year old quilt. She printed onto fabric, and used some of that in the piecing of the recent quilt. You can read more about Sarah’s involvement in the May Popular Patchwork magazine.


Text Printed Fabric Resurgam Sarah WilliamsonBronte Quilt

I was invited to the opening of the exhibition on Wednesday evening taking my almost 90 year old mother in law as my guest. We thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Brontë bicentenary celebrations, seeing all the different interpretations and skill demonstrated in the quilt challenge.

Here are some that stood out to me:

Helen Moyes My visit to Bronte Quilt Exhibition 2016 Catherine Davies Quilt

Helen Moyes My visit to Bronte Quilt Exhibition 2016 Pippa Wardman Quilt

Helen Moyes My visit to Bronte Quilt Exhibition 2016 Tricia Grindrod

Helen Moyes My visit to Bronte Quilt Exhibition 2016 Jaqueline

Helen Moyes My visit to Bronte Quilt Exhibition 2016 Wendy Latham Quilt

Helen Moyes My visit to Bronte Quilt Exhibition 2016 Heather Smith Quilt

Helen Moyes My visit to Bronte Quilt Exhibition 2016 Christine Dowie

I met the novelist Tracy Chevalier who presented the exhibition and whom developed a love of quilting during her research for her novel The Last Runaway whose heroine, Honor Bright, makes pieced patchwork quilts. Tracy has a quilt included in the Bankfield Museum exhibition.

Helen Moyes My visit to Bronte Quilt Exhibition 2016 Tracy Chevalier Quilt

You can read more about Tracy Chevalier and her quilting research for writing:

domestic arts blog


Readers of my previous posts, will know I have been reading Jennifer Chiaverini quilting based novels, and recently my friend Shirley and I got confused discussing our reading, wondering if we had been reading the same book. But no, I had been reading Chiaverini’s novel The Runaway Quilt

helen Moyes Designs reading The Runaway Quilt

and Shirley Chevalier’s novel The Last Runaway

helen Moyes reading The Last Runaway

 Both novels involve quilting and the Underground Railroad for escaping slaves, which explains our confusion!

Tracy shares her love of Jane Eyre: “Jane is the voice of the disenfranchised, speaking out while maintaining her dignity and ultimately triumphing. It was only on rereading Jane Eyre last year that I recognised something of my own heroine Griet in Girl With a Pearl Earring; she too comes from nothing and quietly stands her ground. This is a common enough trope in writing now, but it was groundbreaking when Jane Eyre was published to instant acclaim in 1847”.

You can read more in the telegraph article

If you would like to see these quilts, Splendid Shreds of Silk & Satin: A Celebration of Charlotte Brontë in Quilts is at the Bankfield Museum, Akroyd Park, Boothtown Rd, Halifax HX3 6HG. Open Tue – Sat:10:00-16:00 until 11 Jun 2016. Details

The quilts will also be displayed at the International Festival of Quilts 11 – 14 August 2016 at the Birmingham NEC. More details.

If you get to visit either of the exhibitions, I would love to hear your thoughts.