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Monday, 6 February 2012

A Real Quilting Post for My Fellow Brits

I was talking to one of my followers on Twitter yesterday and she Tweeted that she really wanted to learn how to quilt.  I said I would email her with some suggestions and that lead me to quite a long email to her and I figured I would share with you all what I said to her as if you are a new quilter, and you live in the U.K., you would probably find what I am sharing hopefully useful.

When I started to quilt, or try to quit, I was quite angry about the price of fabric in this country as in the States pay the same in Dollars, or less, as we do in Pounds.  This is one of my pet peeves and always has been - well for the past 15 years anyway.  No I have not been quilting for 15 years, I started out Cross Stitching and one of the first kits I wanted was made by a company called Shepherds Bush and it was over £60.00 and when I looked at their website online I found out that they were selling the same thing for $60.00.

Earth by Shepherds Bush Printworks
was what my DH bought for me
I never finished it but sold it half finished on eBay many years ago

I phoned them up and asked if they would mail their kits to England and they confirmed that they would.  At that time we were not charged VAT or the dreaded Handling Charge.  Now the Handling Charge is really what annoys me too because no matter how much the VAT is, or was, there is a standard Handling Charge of £8.00.  Unfortunately we are now routinely charged this if what you are importing from anywhere is worth more than $25.00.  Which makes buying anything from the States putting the postage fee, the VAT and the Handling Fee together really not worth while most of the time.

So I started looking for stores in the U.K. where I could purchase what I wanted reasonably and not pay £s for $s.

The other thing is because quilting is mainly an American hobby all measurements are in inches.  So those of us that are old enough to remember using inches it's easy peasy though not as precise of cms and mms.

So here is what I wrote to Sue:

Firstly there are various ways you can quilt.  You can measure and cut out with scissors (takes too long and is not precise enough), you can cut using rulers and you can Paper Piece.  Because I have MS and tend to shake a bit, and I have tried everything and every way of quilting I find paper piecing to be the best way for me.  Now like anything I have done I have to have everything before I start so I make loads of mistakes in what I buy.  

The three things you will need are:

a 6" x 12" Ruler 
and no I do not work or have any association with Creative Grids
I am just a very happy customer

One of the Internationally famous quilters said that she could manage on a desert island with just this one Ruler.  It really is a great ruler but I also find I need other rulers, look I alway buy too much stuff anyway, like the 12 1/2" square ruler to make sure that my 12 1/2" blocks are square and measure exactly 12 1/2" round. 

A Self-Healing A1 Cutting Mat
don't buy a smaller one because you will
waste your money.  A1 is the largest mat

Hopefully this will save you loads of money.  QUILTING IS NOT A CHEAP HOBBY!
But it is loads of fun.

Creative Grids do sell a combined kit of things you need to start quilting.

Over the past few years Moda and other fabric manufacturers have followed suit, have brought out fabric lines cut for you, either in strips the LOF (length of fabric) and called Jelly Rolls (because in the States you buy candy called Jelly Rolls and they are wound up just like these are), Turnovers (which are cut triangles), Layer Cakes (which are 10" squares) and Charm Packs (5" square which I always want to call Cupcakes and don't ask me why because I just don't know).  

Now if you buy any of these pre-cuts and are intending on using  a solid color with it I highly recommend that you purchase a solid color pre-cut the same as the pre-cut whatever you are buying at the same time as all of Moda's ready cuts are cut with pinking shears (or a pinking shear kind of machine) 

For example, if think you can use a metre of white fabric and cut it into 2 1/2" strips to work with it doesn't work trust me I've tried.  I now buy white from Moda  ready cut as these really work no matter what I'm using of their ready cuts and I am not even that keen on their solids preferring Kona solids much more as Kona is a thicker cotton but not too thick.  I am not going to give you loads of sites to go to but just a few and the rest you can see on my Quilting blog including great tutorials I've found along the way.

These are the best sites I have found so far. - this website has classes that are really great.  You can download their BOM (that's Block of the Month) class for free right now so I would do that at no cost and the teacher is great.  I have bought three of their classes and there is a new one about Paper Piecing that I want but shall have to wait for. - this is the best site to buy rulers from and they are in England and don't charge anything for postage or packing.  I would recommend that you only purchase their rulers as they are non-slip and that makes a huge difference when cutting fabric - This is the ONLY magazine worth buying.  It's online and quite wonderful and British mainly.  You can buy back issues if you want or not as you wish but it really is worth having. - this is another British site which is a really great place to shop.  Their prices are very competitive. - another British site.  This time for solid fabrics and sometimes not.  No Pounds for Dollars on this site which drives me nuts. is my local Quilting store and I go there rather than shop online.  Jenny, the owner,  is really nice. - another British site.  If you are wondering why I shop in the UK so much when they always charge in £'s what the $ price would be it's because by the time you have paid the postage and if you spend more than $25.00 the post office will charge you 20% VAT (no big deal) but on top of that they will charge you £8.00 handling fee (which is a HUGE deal as far as I am concerned). - this is my very favorite store of them all.  I have joined their Block of the Month clubs a few times over the years and they are really terrific.  The really great thing about this American site for joining is the Blocks of the Month never cost more than $25.00 so you are safe from the Post Office.

I have reserved everything this year from The Fat Quarterly Shop in the States because last year I waited too long for the finishing kit and couldn't buy one.  This is the funnest way I know to quilt.  You get one block a month to cut and stitch and everything is explained beautifully.

I also buy from Etsy once in a while but am always careful I don't buy more than $25.00 worth.

There are other Quilting stores you can find on Google you don't just have to take my word for it.

If you have any other questions please don't hesitate to ask me and I will do my best to answer even though I'm much better with the academics of quilting than actually doing it.  I have yet to succeed making a whole quilt top.  All I have to do is clear up DH's mess that he's made of my sewing room and I can get started.  Hopefully this virus will be better tomorrow than it's been today so I can go in there and get going.  I'm dying to quilt.

Until next time ...
Lots of Love
Patti xxx
American by birth and MOUTH but British in every other way


  1. As a Brit living in America (at least for a few more months) I can empathise with all you say about prices and tax and shipping! I have friends in Australia who say the same thing, except the postage is often more than the cost of the fabric!

    I am going to hunt out one of those 12x 6 rulers! I have my cutter and cutting mat so that's the missing piece!

    I have also signed up for the Craftsy block of the month course and have watched the first month's video, and I can highly recommend it! For me (being blind) I could do with a little more explanation, but for a sighted person there should be no problem. It's definitely worth trying for free! :)

    (Touch And Sew /

  2. Hi Patricia,

    I've registered with craftsy for their BOM. Love their website. I haven't had the chance to try out the classe yet (and we will be soon entering March), but I can;t wait to get started. Teacher seems great.



I absolutely LOVE it when you leave a comment and I read each and every comment and try to reply to you all.
Patti xxx