Memory Quilt Workshop by The Little Sewing Works, Cardiff – Review

My weekends are usually busy with family time and doing chores around the house but a few weeks ago, I decided I needed some ‘me-time’ and I booked myself onto a Memory Quilt Workshop at The Little Sewing Works.

The workshop was last Saturday (22 April 2017), so I went along with one of my friends with a nag full of my daughter’s baby sized clothes – here’s my review!

I came across memory quilts like searching for patterns for baby items while I was pregnant over two years ago and quite like the idea of making one for my daughter as a keepsake.

I’ve seen plenty of patterns and instructions online (mostly on Pinterest) on how to make a basic quilt but I don’t have the guts to try attempt it myself without guidance. I can follow a pattern but I always get something wrong or doesn’t turn out to what I expected. And the thought of cutting up my daughter’s baby clothes.

I’m much better attending a workshop or spend time with someone showing me how to make something and picking up tips and avoiding mistakes along the way.

I looked into how much it would cost to pay someone else to make me a memory quilt for me and it’s not cheap – prices start from £75 depending on the size of quilt. It’s a lot of money considering you’re supplying the maker majority of the fabric for the quilt.

So, while searching for memory quilt patterns online, I came across a Memory Quilt workshop run by The Little Sewing Works in Cardiff. After weeks of trying to find a suitable weekend I’m free and rope in a friend to come along, I managed to go last weekend.

The workshop:

We were met by Cynthia, the owner of The Little Sewing Works in the studio reception area and were taken down a corridor to her studio. Once we our bags of baby clothes down and got settled in the studio, Cynthia introduced herself, had a brief chat about our sewing experience and then explained what tasks we needed to do during the workshop.

The first task in the morning was to:

  1. Cut 42 squares from our children’s baby clothes, using a paper template of approx. 5inch square.
  2. Iron on interfacing (special fabric that stiffens up fabric like jersey cotton, felt etc) onto the squares.
  3. Layout our squares on the table with 6 squares on the top (or across) and 7 squares down to plan our quilt.

After a short lunch break, our afternoon tasks were:

  1. Stitch the squares by row to create 7 rows on squares. Press the seams with an iron.
  2. Stitch 7 rows to each other, creating a large panel. Pressing the seams with an iron.
  3. Stitch the backing fabric (pink fabric on my quilt) to the length of the panel, then insert wadding.
  4. Final stage, somehow measure and fold the backing fabric to create a 4cm/1 inch frame around the panel, and hand stitch the top and bottom backing fabric to the panel by hand. Tricky! And needed Cynthia’s help at this stage.
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Sewing the square panels together on a high spec Jamone sewing machine

What I loved about the workshop:

Easy booking & Payment – I enquired for the workshop by email and I received a quick reply from Cynthia (The Little Sewing Works owner) to confirm my booking, instructions on what is required for the workshop as well as directions to the studio. Simple! Payment was easy and done via PayPal.

Workshop Delivery: Cynthia is very knowledgeable, experienced in sewing (and other crafts like knitting) and has patience of a saint. She was very welcoming and made us felt at ease. We could have talked all day about crafting, family and life experience but there were times during the workshop we naturally fell quiet as we needed to concentrate on the task.

Small class size: only two of us and Cynthia in the studio, so plenty of 1-2-1 personal assistance during the day, especially if you had some specific requirements for your quilt. I think if the class was any bigger, it would be a struggle for space and won’t be able to finish the quilt in one day.

Equipment & Materials: as part of the workshop, wadding, thread and backing material for the quilt was included in the workshop cost and the was no requirement to bring our own sewing machine. I could have brought our own sewing machine if I wanted to but I was looking forwards using a high spec sewing machine. All we had bring to bring at least 25 items of our children’s clothes to cut squares to create our quilt.

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Cynthia giving 1-2-1 assistance to my friend while working on her memory quilt

What I learned:

Jersey cotton material is not that easy to work with. It is impossible to cut accurate squares, even when using a square template. It is not easy to sew on the sewing machine either – it has a tendency of stretching or getting caught up under the foot of the sewing machine. The fabric punctures easily be needle as well, so I couldn’t be too rough as I would working with poly cotton or 100% cotton fabrics.

Thank goodness for interfacing as it does help with reinforcing the fabric and making it easier to put through a sewing machine. A product I used frequently to reinforce my felt embellishments and letters for my bunting.

Squares doesn’t have to be cut 100% square either – as long as I can stitch in straight lines on the sewing machine, the cut squares become ‘square’ and neat or what I’d like to say is ‘correct itself’.

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Sorting out the wadding and backing fabric for my quilt

Room for improvement: 

Workshop Dates: Dates for the Memory Quilt workshops (and other workshops run by The Little Sewing Works) are published on Facebook only. I would have liked to seen dates published on the website www.thelittlesewingworks.com as well as not everyone is on Facebook or see all posts published by pages.

Payment: I would like to have an option to pay by bank transfer or pay by cash on the day, as not everyone uses PayPay or familiar with this payment option.

Workshop duration: The workshop was advertised to start at 10am and finish around 4pm, and I expected at least 5-6 hours to complete a project like this. Unfortunately, we had some teething issues with one sewing machine, had one or two mistakes, and a bit slow with the hand stitching, so we didn’t finish out quilts until 5pm. If it wasn’t for Cynthia’s help with the hand stitching and doing the finishing touches to our quilts, we would have been in the workshop until 6pm.

If the workshop went smoothly with no sewing machine issues, no mistakes while sewing the squares or didn’t know how to plan your quilt, you could have finished your quilt in 5 hours / by 4pm with 30 minute lunch break.

I would have advertised the workshop to start at 10am, finish at 5pm to manage customer expectations OR start at 9.30am for a 4pm/4.30pm finish. I rather finish early than having to work on an extra hour in the workshop, especially if you had plans on a Saturday evening.

Instruction: Cynthia’s workshop delivery was great and both of us understood what was needed to be done at each stage of making our quilt. However, I would have liked to have a printed, step by step guide on making a memory quilt with list of tips, measurements of the squares, number of squares needed and amount of wadding and backing fabric needed. Just so if I decided to make another quilt one day, I’ve got the guide ready.

There was nothing stopping me on the day on making notes in the workshop but thinking as a beginner into sewing or hasn’t followed a pattern before, I believe a printed step by step guide would have been beneficial with this workshop.

Workshop environment – The studio was cosy and both of us where a bit surprised when we arrived at The Little Sewing Works how small it was, but it wasn’t a problem. It was a bit tight at times, especially jumping back and forth between the sewing machine bench and the big table but it didn’t spoil our day. I was pleased that there was only two of us on the workshop and managed to work around each other. If there were any more in the studio, it would have been difficult and a bit hot too.

My conclusion: Very pleased with the Memory Quilt workshop and it was everything I wanted to learn, shown what to do and answer all my quilting questions. Cynthia is a great tutor and I would return to her studio to attend another workshop. I feel confident that I can attempt to make another memory quilt for a friend or maybe offer as a service alongside my bunting orders.

I was happy with the £65 fee for the workshop, which included use of tools in workshop (scissors, sewing machine etc), wadding and backing fabric for the quilt and plenty of tea and coffee.

After 6 hours of solid quilting, I can understand why quilting is a popular craft and maybe an addictive craft. It does get your mind going, with number of processes to follow such as measuring, cutting, design, planning and sewing. It’s definitely a type of craft, same as knitting and crocheting, that gives you brain training at the same time.

And, I finally understand all the quilting memes I’ve seen on Pinterest.

The last few days, I have been thinking and planning on making more quilts and working out a way of adapting the design to make it easier to put together and make a memory cushion. I’ve even started popping into charity shops to start picking up baby clothes to cut up and make squares for my next memory quilt, as practice!

Attending this workshop has answered one burning question I’ve had about memory quilts and that is the price you charge a customer to make a custom memory quilt – charging between £75 – £100 for making a memory quilt seems expensive BUT there is a lot of work involved especially planning the layout of the quilt and working with someone else’s baby clothes.

As a maker, I would be happy to charge around this price range and not feel like I’m ‘ripping off’ the customer. It would cover my expenses like thread, wadding, backing materials and make a decent profit.

If you are considering asking someone else, like Cynthia at The Little Sewing Works, to make a memory quilt for you/your daughter/son/grandchild, I would say this is a fair price to pay. If you find someone who charges under £50 to make your memory quilt, I would question their sewing skills, experience making memory quilts and overall customer service.

As for making your own and attending a workshop like this one, I would recommend it only if you are confident in using a sewing machine and have the basic sewing skills. I wouldn’t recommend this workshop for a complete beginner and best to attend a ‘Sewing for Beginners’ class first before attempting a project like this.

Happy customer? Yes, and so it my daughter who loves using the memory quilt to put her cuddly toys to sleep.

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It’s a thumbs up from my daughter

Find out more about The Little Sewing Works classes and services:

Memory Quilt Workshop Description: www.thelittlesewingworks.com/memory-quilt-workshop

Website: www.thelittlesewingworks.com

Email: thelittlesewingworks@gmail.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/thelittlesewingworks

Address: The Little Sewing Works, Studio G12 Meanwhile House, Williams Way, Cardiff, CF10 5DY.

Telephone: 07909 111240

Please note: This post is not affiliated by The Little Sewing Works. My review is completely honest and independent from The Little Sewing Works.

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