How to Make An Educational Resource – Blanket Book

This project was made in less than a week.
I received a call requesting a resource full of garment fasteners for a young autistic boy.

After thinking about it’s design, I started rummaging around the charity shops looking at everything in a different way. Usually I shop for textured fabrics for embroidery, but this time it was any and every garment and bag fastener I could lay my hands on. Luckily I sourced it all in one big shop –  zips, toggles, hooks and eyes, magnetic poppers, poppers, buttons and Velcro. I had a stash of vintage wool blankets at home and set about thinking about its construction.
If you would like to make one too, here’s how I made it.

  • What you’ll need:
    1. Wool blanket to make the pages
    2. Garments with suitable fasteners (dependant on the ages of the users, be aware of choking hazards such as buttons and laces)
    3. Thick Perle cotton thread and a long needle (Trapunto or Mattress needle
    4. Ribbon or cotton tape for top stitching onto the cut edges of garments.
    5. Sewing machine and thread (I used a walking foot too for stitching some of the pieces).
  • Wash and press everything before cutting.
  • Cutting the blanket.
    •  I looked at the dimensions of the largest piece to be appliqued onto a page – a baby’s vest – and took this as the starting point for the page’s measurements.
    • Cut pages 17″ x 17″. Some I cut 17″ x 12″ to make narrower pages.
    • Cut front page 17″ x 17″
    • Cut a piece of blanket 22″ x 17″ for the back cover (which wraps around the front to make the spine of the book)
  • Cut the garments and the fasteners ensuring there is enough seam allowance to stitch the piece down.
  • Arrange the pieces onto pages, leaving a 3″ gap at one edge of the blanket page for stitching into the spine. I sourced a book fastener too from the white trousers.


  • Pin and using your sewing machine, stitch into place using a running stitch or zig-zag stitch. Add ribbon or tape to the raw edges if needed.
  • Layer the pages, the front page and back page. Wrap the excess fabric from the back page around to the front to cover to make the spine.
  • Use an odd number of long pins (I used Quilting pins) to hold the spine edge ready for binding, spaced around 2″ apart.
  • Measure enough thread – 5 x the length of the spine – thread the needle, double the thread and knot (I tried using single thickness but double thread will be far stronger). Using the position of the long pins as a guide, make a book binding pamphlet stitch to hold the spine together.
  • Add extra stitches to hold the pages in place.
I am thrilled with the finished book, especially the book fastener.

The laces were stitched down to stop them being removed


Shirt sleeves were added between the pages

I’ve had a brilliant response to this book from teachers and parents who feel it would be a perfect resource for infants and special needs students. I’d love to hear if you make one or have made something similar in the past. Please share and leave your comments below.

How to Make an Apron – A ‘Make-Do-And-Mend’ Challenge

It’s Bank Holiday Monday. All my chores are done, and I need a PVC apron for an up and coming mixed media workshop this weekend – but I don’t actually own one.

My new Make-Do-And-Mend Spotty Apron
I thought about buying one, but instead set myself a challenge to make one from the bits and bobs that were in the house.

My first thought was an old wipe-clean tablecloth I had left over from a party that was languishing in my sewing room.
An old PVC table cloth
Then I thought of the webbing needed for the ties and neck straps – this I found in a box full of trimmings (and I also found some yummy ‘sewing tape’ for decoration), and some bias tape.
The whole piece was constructed in an afternoon, and this is how I made it.
  • I found an old apron that fitted me well and folded it in half lengthways. Folded dressmaking paper in half (I’ve used greaseproof paper or newspaper to make templates in the past) and made an apron pattern, adding extra all around for my seam allowances.
  • Cut a piece of the spotty fabric larger than I needed and folded it in half to get the spots symmetrical down the front of the finished apron.  Placed the folded paper pattern on top and used tins to weight it down – could’t use pins in this project! Cut out the fabric.
  • Stitched the bias tape to the curved edges.
  • Marked the seam allowance with a pencil and used a ruler to help fold and finger press the sides, bottom and top edge. 
  • I used paper clips to hold the folded seams in place then stitched them down – the sides, bottom and top edge. Then added some decoration – a strip of ‘sewing tape’ to the top edge of the apron.
I pencil marked the ‘plaster’ to create a guide for the depth of the seam allowance
  • Using the old apron, I measured the neck and waist webbing. Then cut out the blue webbing and ‘measuring tape’  which I stitched into place as decorative detail.  Then added each to my apron using my old apron as a guide.

I’m so happy with the finished apron. It fits brilliantly and didn’t cost me a penny!  
Let me know about your Make-Do-And-Mend’ projects. 

How to make a Dorset Button

I have wanted to learn the art of Dorset button making  for some time.  A two hour workshop at my local Embroiderers’ Guild cropped up, and was a perfect excuse to chat with my sewing chums and learn!  A collection of stunning vintage pieces and a copy of Stitch magazine provided inspiration for our first Dorset Button.

So I started my first ever Dorset Button. Any ring made of plastic, bone or metal will do the job perfectly. Perle cotton number 8 thread, a tapestry needle, a brass ring and blanket stitch. This stage was called ‘Casting’.  I found out that the thread needs to be longer than you think – enough to finish the whole project. I was recommended 3 arm lengths of thread which was ample for a medium to large size ring.

Blanket Stitch – Casting

Next came ‘Slicking’. The ridge formed by the blanket stitch was turned to the centre of the ring, making a smooth edge to the ring ready for the next stage.

Turning edge to centre – Slicking

‘Laying’ was next. The thread was wound around the ring like spokes in a wheel. The number of spokes and their position on the ring can vary depending upon the pattern being created. I was making a Dorset Crosswheel so I only needed 8 spokes. I centred the spokes with two cross stitches before moving onto Rounding.

Making spokes – Laying
Cross-stitch in centre of spokes, ties them together

‘Rounding’ was the final stage.  Working from the back of the button, the thread was wound around the spokes in a kind of backstitch effect. This made the ‘ridges’ on the button front.

Using a backstitch around spokes – Rounding
Button Front

It was a very therapeutic morning of sewing.  I went home and made a few more before the day was over – it’s quite addictive. Dorset buttons are brilliant for embroiderers. Each button has a fabulous textured surface that’s a perfect background just waiting for more decorative stitching.

These are some of the pieces made over the weekend of the workshop. They include a few rings that have been Casted and are awaiting the next stage – when I can decide what design to settle on !

I hope this has inspired you to take a look at Dorset buttons and have a go making one. For more information on Dorset Buttons, check out the Gold Hill Museum in Dorset where the famous Hovis Hill is and a collection of original vintage Dorset Buttons can be found.