Posts in Sewing
How to Wind a Ball of Yarn By Hand

Have you ever wondered how to wind a ball of yarn neatly by hand?

I often receive comments from people who notice my neatly wound little yarn cakes when I share my knitting on Instagram or YouTube. It’s something I enjoy at the start of the project as I find it helps me get to know the yarn before casting on.

In this three minute video tutorial I show you how to wind a centre pull ball from a skein of yarn, by hand, and without a ball winder.

Before you go!

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Follow @alexcollinsdesigns to see the projects I’m working on for my shop and my handmade wardrobe.

SewingAlex Collins
A Simple Baby Quilt How-To
How to sew a simple modern baby quilt

In Episode 13, over on my knitting and sewing Youtube channel, I showed a simple, modern, baby quilt I had been making as a gift for a friends new baby.

As so many of you were interested in the quilt I thought I’d share a baby quilt how-to and walk you through the steps I followed to make mine.

If you make a baby quilt of your own I’d love for you to tag @alexcollinsdesigns and share using #alexcollinsdesigns_quiltproject on Instagram so I can see!

Fabric and batting selection to make a simple lap quilt

Quilt making supplies

Main Fabric 1.5 meters (59”) - Serendipity by Minky Kim for Riley Blake Fabrics

Backing Fabric 1.5 meters (59”) - Catnip by Gingiber for Moda

Binding Fabric 0.5 meters (19.5”) cut into 2.5” strips - Basic Spot New Cheeky Pink by Henley Studios for Makower

Batting - Quilters Dream Cotton Crib 152cm x 117cm (60” x 40”)

Cotton thread for quilting

Contrast thread for basting

Walking foot


Hand sewing needle

Quilting Ruler 24” x 6”

Rotary Cutter


Skills you will use for quilting

Sew in a straight line 

Bind your quilt using the mitred corner method

Whip stitch 

Steps for making a simple quilt

  1. Pre wash and iron all your fabrics.

  2. Lay your backing fabric wrong side up making sure to smooth out any wrinkles

  3. Place your batting on top of your backing fabric

  4. Lay your main fabric right side up on top of your batting making sure to smooth out any wrinkles

  5. Starting from the centre of your quilt, hand sew through all three layers using your contrasting thread. These stitches will hold the quilt together as you machine quilt the fabric. They’ll be taken out at the end so use long stitches and don’t worry about making them neat. 

  6. Using a quilting ruler and something to mark your fabric that will wash out, draw a line along the selvedge. Using this first straight edge as a guide, use your quilting ruler to draw a straight line at the top and bottom of the quilt and then finally the opposide side of the quilt. This rectangle marks the edge of your quilt and will neaten the edges when you cut along these lines after quilting.

  7. Starting in the bottom right corner and using your quilting ruler, mark an 8” line at a 45° angle between the two perpendicular lines. 

  8. Using this line as a guide continue to mark out your quilting lines 4” apart until you reach the top left corner of your quilt. 

  9. Now starting from the bottom left, mark your quilting lines every 4” until you reach the top right corner of your quilt. You should now have 4” squares neatly marked our all over your quilt.

  10. Attach your walking foot and set the stitch length at 2.5-3.

  11. Machine quilt over your markings starting with one of the lines that run through the centre of the quilt and work your way out.

  12.  Cut along the outside edges of your quilt that we marked in step 6.

  13. Join your 2.5” binding strips by putting them right sides together at a 90° angle. (It will look like an L shape) Sew together with a diagonal line using the 45°angle guide on your quilting ruler if you want to mark your stitch line. When you press your seam open you should have a straight length of binding. 

  14. Continue joining your binding strips until you have enough to go all the way around your quilt plus 10” of extra length.

  15. Press the length of your binding in half with wrong sides together.

  16. Line up the raw edge of your binding with the raw edge of your quilt top and start sewing with a ¼” seam about 6” from the end of your binding. Don’t start too close to the corners.

  17. When you get to the first corner stop sewing ¼” from the edge and back stitch.

  18. To create a mitred corner flip the binding straight up at a 90° angle and use your finger to press the diagonal crease line you should see at a 45° angle. Carefully fold the strip back down so the raw edge is lined up with the next side of your quilt. About ¼” from the edge you should feel the diagonal line under the binding strip you just lined up with the raw edge. You want your needle to be as close to this fold without sewing into it. Sew with a ¼” seam allowance and repeat for each corner.

  19. When you are about 10” from where you started sewing your binding you want to join your strips while you still have some slack. Use your finger to press in a crease where the strips will meet if you were to sew them down. Carefully line these crease lines, up right sides together, and stitch on the crease. Your binding should lay flat against the quilt now and you can trim the excess so there is just a ¼” seam. 

  20. Sew the binding to the quilt with a ¼” seam allowance.

  21. Press the binding up and away from the quilt, then fold the binding to the back side of the quilt and pin in place. 

  22. Use an invisible whip stitch to sew the binding in place on the back side of the quilt being careful not to let your stitches show on the front of the quilt - just catch the backing fabric and binding in your stitches.

  23. When you reach a corner fold it neatly and carry your invisible stitch up the corner and down the other side on the front of the quilt so you don’t have a little pocket on either side of the quilt. 

  24. Admire your beautiful’ve finished!

Don’t forget to tag @alexcollinsdesigns and share your quilt project using #alexcollinsdesigns_quiltproject on Instagram so I can see your fabric choices, progress and finished quilt!

Quit with double fold binding that has been hand stitched in place
Simple baby quilt how to with diamond machine quilting.

Before you go!

Are we Instagram Friends?

Follow @alexcollinsdesigns to see the projects I’m working on for my shop and my handmade wardrobe.

SewingAlex Collins
Common Stitch Bell Bird Shorts - Project Notes
Bell Bird Shorts Sewing Pattern by Common Stitch - Project Notes.png
Common Stitch Bellbird Shorts and Grainline Studio Hemlock Tee

Common Stitch Bellbird Shorts and Grainline Studio Hemlock Tee

The relaxed fit Bellbird Shorts sewing pattern by Common Stitch features slash pockets and an elasticated waist making these a great beginner sewing project. I made mine using a Linen and Cotton blend John Kaldor fabric from Minerva Crafts which although I worried would be a little sheer is perfectly fine worn with nude underwear.

Bell Bird Shorts Modifications

I typically wear high waisted jeans in a 26”/28” so I started by cutting the size Small shorts pattern. I’m 5ft and the length is just what I wanted so I didn’t make any adjustments to the length. After tweaking my toile by removing 5/8” from the side seams and scooping out a 1/4” from the front crotch seam I actually ended up with an Xtra Small pattern so I’d recommend sizing down when you make your muslin or toile in this pattern. The XS shorts still have a loose and relaxed fit on me without being too baggy which I love.

Grainline Studio Hemlock Tee

The Hemlock Tee I’m wearing with my Bellbird shorts is a free t-shirt sewing pattern from Grainline Studios. I hemmed the armholes instead of adding the sleeves and made this version cropped by shortening the pattern by 9”. The fabric is a lightweight jersey fabric with lots of drape from Fabric HQ.

If you have any questions you’re welcome to email me at

Deer & Doe Myosotis Dress Hack - Project Notes
Deer and Doe Myosotis Dress Hack Project Notes.png

This Myosotis Dress by Deer and Doe is sewn using a Linen and Viscose blend dress fabric from Minerva Crafts. The 1” buttons were purchased at John Lewis and I dyed the fabric using Dylon All-In-1 Fabric Dye Pod in Plum Red.

I’ve adapted the Mysotis Dress by Deer & Doe by lengthening the skirt to midi length and adding patch pockets and buttons through the skirt.

Myosotis Dress Hack Modifications

  • Shortened the sleeves

  • Lengthened the skirt

  • I didn’t cut the front skirt pattern on the fold I cut two separate front pieces

  • I extended the facings so they reach from the collar to the bottom of the skirt and interfaced.

  • When gathering the skirt pieces I started the gathers aprox 1” from the centre front so there are no gathers on the new button band.

  • Cut two 8 3/4” by 7 1/4” rectangles for pockets. Fold and press the top over by 1/4’ and again by 1”. Top stitch 7/8” from the fold. I top stitched my pockets in place after sewing the dress together so I could check the placement - as a guide mine are 7” from the centre of the buttons and the bottom of the pocket is roughly where my fingertips reach.

  • I placed 11 buttons and spaced them about 2 1/2” apart leaving 10” open at the bottom of the skirt. - I’m 5ft so you will want to add more buttons if you are much taller ;)

  • I can get the dress on and off without undoing the buttons so I omitted button holes and sewed the buttons through all layers of fabric

If you have any questions you’re welcome to email me at