22 August 2014

Moda Modern Building Blocks Quilt Pattern

Hi friends! Just wanted to stop by super quickly and remind you all (if you didn't know already) the *completely, and utterly fabulous* Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt pattern is due in very soon (as in; arriving with my U.K. supplier on Wednesday next week, yay! Finger's crossed it will be with me on Friday!). You can pre-order it here in my Sew and Quilt shop

I ordered this as soon as I saw it popping up all over Instagram from Quilt Market earlier this Summer. It's such a show-stopper, I can't wait to start on it! Must get a bunch of secret sewing projects out the way first then I'll be making a start ;-) Apologies for not posting this week's EPP Basics Summer Series post on Monday, I've not had a moment this week. Posting will resume Monday! Have a great weekend guys. xo

17 August 2014

Sew Cute To Cuddle - Book Giveaway Winner

Congratulations Marymint! You are the winner of the 'Sew Cute To Cuddle' book! Please drop me an email to claim your prize (as I can't access your blogger profile). Thanks for everyone who entered! Have a great Sunday guys, xo

11 August 2014

English Paper Piecing Basics: Week 4 // Fussy Cutting Tutorial

Hello EPP'ers! This week we're going to be looking at the simple but highly effective technique of 'fussy-cutting'. What is fussy cutting? It's to do with the selective cutting of a fabric based on a particular element or motif you want to highlight. I think this image below demonstrates that in it's simplest form. You can see I have highlighted that central rose within the fabric which will then be used for my English paper pieced shape. 

When it comes to fussy-cutting the most important part is selecting the right fabrics. Look for fabrics with repeating patterns; geometric prints, larger florals and stripes work particularly well. As most EPP rounds or blocks are made from 4, 6 or more shapes, you will need to take this into account when selecting your fabric for fussy-cutting. For example, if you are making a 6-pointed star (as used in our tutorial below) be sure to check you have enough fabric for the pattern to repeat 6 times. You don't want to run out! If you're shopping for fabric - look at the pattern, would it be better to buy it as a long quarter instead of a fat quarter? 

Now in all honesty I don't do a lot of fussy cutting, for the reason that I don't have a lot of larger repeat fabrics in my stash. If you are a regular reader of my blog you'll probably know I loooove small-scale prints, however the motifs are usually too small and repetitive so wouldn't be any good for fussy cutting. 

I have used these Lecien Old/New 30's fabrics on a couple of fussy-cutting occasions now, they feature a great scallop border design which is *perfect* for diamonds, those big rose heads make for great hexagons and the smaller rose buds are great to use for a more subtle look. 

Now this block below (not completely sewn together yet) although it has a very small motif for the centre blocks the repeat is spaced out enough to make a feature of one flower for each honeycomb shape. The blue honeycomb shapes are also fussy-cut which give the illusion of fanning feather's. 

Tip: It's good to mix up different elements of fussy-cutting such as larger mirrored images and smaller motifs in one block to give the eye somewhere to focus and create balance. 

Stripes are great for fussy cutting. They give such a dynamic look and can be fussy cut lengthwise through the stripe or across for a completely different look.

As I don't have many fabrics on hand that lend themselves well for what I like to call 'mirrored fussy-cutting', often I like to use motifs this way as shown below. You can see I just picked out the strawberry motifs for my outer hexagon ring using a metal window template. Note I've pieced the hexagons with the storks facing the outside on all shapes. You could easily make a window template like this at home yourself if you needed a DIY version - an empty cereal box would be ideal. Just cut out the desired shape size from the centre using a stanley knife, while keeping a wide enough seam allowance around the edge, about 1/4" - 3/8".

Right, now for a little fussy-cutting tutorial! We'll be using the 2" 6-point diamond shape for this tutorial. Stars are a great shape for fussy cutting, they work really well to create that mirrored, kaleidoscope effect. 

Materials wise, you will need the following;

Fabric scissors / or rotary cutter
Sewline glue pen / or thin double sided tape
Acrylic template / or metal window template
Water erasable marking pen (or pencil or any marker - I just have to use a water erasable one!)
Starch spray (optional)

Begin with your fabric pressed well, it's good practise to starch your fabrics before you start also. It gives the fabric a nice light paper feel, making it easier to handle and cut. 

Find a repeat motif within your fabric. You can see I'm using the acrylic template as a guide for the diamond shape while seeing-through the fabric. 

Tip: If you're a newbie fussy cutter, perhaps avoid an overly prominent focal point at the centre point (the point at which all your diamonds meet in the middle). It puts a lot of pressure on for perfect piecing and fussy-cutting alignment! 

Here I'm using the yellow flowers as my main repeat pattern. The bottom of the stem is my 'lining-up spot' for the bottom tip of the diamond, and I'm using the yellow flower on the right-hand side as my guide for the angle. Now I know I have to line up those two elements for each shape and they will be identical. 

Draw around the template.

Cut around your drawn shape, (apologies the line isn't very visible in this photo).

Dot a little glue in the middle of your shape (a spot of double sided tape could work here also). Hold it up against the light and centre it where you need.

Remember for my shape I'm aligning the stem of the flower at the bottom, and making sure I've got that yellow flower on the right just inside my diamond. Now carry on the fussy cutting design for your remaining shapes.

Baste your shapes, tutorial here.

Join your shapes together, tutorial for star here and hexagons; here. Fussy cut star complete! 

So I know not everyone is into fussy-cutting, one of the main reasons is the perception of fabric waste. This is my 'waste' from the diamonds, I can still get loads of use out of this fabric and if you cut directly into the shape you can eliminate part of this waste. Now can you spot a mistake here? When you're fussy-cutting a repeat pattern you will follow it in repeat fashion, at the same angle - clue's in the title eh!? I mistakenly cut another diamond which was not the fabric motif I needed. Be sure to cut carefully folks! ;-) 

Next week we are going further with our shapes! With a free pattern, yay! I hope you're enjoying our English Paper Piecing journey and picking up some new tips? Just drop me a comment if you have any questions and I'll reply on this post. Have a great week. xo

5 August 2014

Blog Hop Around The World, A Q&A with Me, Jessie!

Hello friends, today I'm sharing a little more about me and my creative pursuits by joining in the 'creative blog hop around the world'. Lots of blogger's have been joining in, and then nominating three more bloggers to carry on the discussion. It's really a great way to discover new crafty people you may have otherwise missed, and find out some interesting things us blogger's don't always share on a day-to-day. I was invited by the lovely Helen Philipps (who posted her Q&A last week) to answer these questions so I'll get straight to it! Thanks for inviting me dear Helen! 

What am I working on?

Wow, where do I begin! My longest work in progress currently is my Farmers Wife Sampler quilt. Recently I've set myself a goal to complete two blocks per week - I'm also planning on hand quilting it so I know it's going to be a lot longer yet! But I'm fine with that one being a long project ;-)

I'm in the middle of quilting my Naturally Nautical quilt #naturallynauticalquiltalong. It's my first! free motion quilting quilt I've worked on - so the pressure is on! I've always shy'ed away from FMQ but I know I have to start somewhere, and baptist fans it shall be!

Another long quilt project I have on go is the 50 States Stitching Club, designed by Mollie Johnson. Each week we are given a new embroidery motif for a chosen state, we are then turning it into a little EPP star and appliqueing it to form a quilt block. So fun!

I have a couple of quilt tops that need dealing with too - I always seem to love leaving them round the house for months until I get them quilted! The Spell It With Moda alphabet quilt need's to be basted and quilted, and I've got to get my bum in gear (and save my pennies!) to arrange my Scrappy Irish Chain quilt top to be long-armed. It's huge, so I really can't do it myself. 

I've got a few editorial projects in the works right now as well, with some big deadlines looming quite soon!

I've always got a ton of English paper piecing projects on the go. I've just completed a little 'Seven Sister's' mini quilt top, so I need to get that finished. If you haven't seen already I'm doing a series on English paper piecing basics on the blog each Monday. So I will be photographing the process of finishing it to use for one of my last posts on the topic. I've got one completed double wedding ring finished using EPP as well, not sure if I can go the whole hog with a full quilt!? Plus, I always pick up some hexies to make some Grandmother's Flower Garden block whenever the mood strikes me!

Is that enough!? eek.

How does my work differ from other's of it's genre?

I'd like to think I have a bit of a distinctive style? Regular readers of my blog might know I adore vintage quilts, and I think I certainly incorporate a sense of that in my quilting and general sewing work - whether that be toy-making, sewing something practical for my home or the occasional dressmaking project I take on, it will always have an element of nostalgia from previous era's. When I'm not quilting I like reading up on quilt history, when I can find the time. I'm particularly interested in quilts from the U.S. around the 1920s and 1930s, so I think my love for antique and traditional quilting has definitely influenced my style. 

I think I'm always drawn to a toned down version of things as well? I like to use a lot of neutral for backgrounds and sashing to allow the fabrics to really sing. However having said that I do enjoy making scrappy, happy quilts full of colour and varying prints - but then I would probably display it in a more subtle way in my home, which I think can almost make it feel fresh and modern again? 

Why do I write/create what I do?

Because I would explode if I didn't. Really, I would. I need to be doing something creative with my hands all the time, whether it's sewing something up on the machine or whiling away a few hours hand sewing in the evening. I like to keep busy! I was never one of those kids that said I was bored - ever. There was always something to do. Just ask my mum ;-) plus, I would have been given chores to do if I was caught saying that! 

As well, I love being able to interact with the online quilting community, with all the social media channels it's great being able to talk crafty things and be inspired by others. Having my blog is great way to document my creative journey too, I would never have remembered all the projects I've done over the years if I hadn't blogged about them. My memory is like a sieve. True story.

How does my writing/creative process work?

Creatively speaking, it varies. I might come across a pattern that instantly grabs my attention via a book, Pinterest, the blogosphere or anywhere and then I will have a look through my fabric stash to pick out a colour palette/fabric choices that I would think to suit the design. Other times I may have got some new fabric in for Sew and Quilt, which I immediately fall in love with so I will get out my sketchbook and plan a project around that. It might be a quick little project like a pincushion or a larger quilt design, whatever I fancy - and deadlines depending! I'm always wanting to try new techniques (to me) as well, for example I haven't done much in the way of applique so that's something I want to try more of, so I will go about sourcing some design ideas online, and go from there.  

In terms of writing for blog posts, it's not as organised as I would like. I'm quite a sporadic blogger and try to fit it in when the time allows me. I take as many photo's as possible when the weather is kind to me, and then write up the blog posts during the evenings after my day job. 

Wow, I think I've waffled on enough now, so it's my turn to choose 3 more bloggers to keep the ball rolling! I was very un-organised arranging my invitations, so just waiting on my final blogger - perhaps one more because I'm greedy! ;-) I'll update once I have confirmed. I wanted to choose blogger's who's work I really admire, and were very different in styles and craft. So be sure to look out for their Q&A posts soon! 

Mollie Johnson of Wild Olive - Mollie writes a fantastic blog, which I've been following for a number of years now. I'm a huge fan of her unique projects she comes up with and delightfully cute embroidery work. You must check out the 50 States Stitching Club she's running at the moment.

Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life - Sherri is another brilliant blogger who I've been following for many years, I also love following her on Instagram! She's a prolific quilter and always inspires me with her latest quilty goings on. Remember my Cherry Blossom mini quilt? Yep, Sherri was my inspiration for that after seeing her version ;-) on IG. 

4 August 2014

English Paper Piecing Basics: Week 3 // Diamonds; Tutorial & Tips

Hello! This week is all about my favourite English paper piecing shape - the diamond! Yay! If you are a regular reader of my blog you'll know I have a diamond star quilt in the works ;-) and a mini wall hanging using 1-1/4" diamonds. I love the classic look of stars in quilts and English paper piecing is a great way to achieve the accuracy you need to get those perfect points and joins. 

Diamonds are measured by the degree of the angle. For example at Sew and Quilt we stock the 8-point and 6-point diamonds, but they are available in many more sizes. You can tell from my star blocks above that I'm using the 8-point diamonds, because when they are joined together continuously they form a star with 8 points.

Diamonds are the easiest shape to rotary cut, as we did last week with our hexagons just line up your shape a 1/4" from the edge of the fabric and cut 1/4" away from the other side of the shape. 

So you have one long strip. Begin cutting your strip into diamond shapes using your rotary cutter, and the ruler for a 1/4" allowance.  

For the purpose of this tutorial I am only using the glue basting method. You can find the thread basting tutorial in last week's post. Also, I would usually punch a hole in the paper shape, as demonstrated last week - but I've now misplaced my hole puncher since the tutorial! 

Glue down one side of your diamond shape. Remembering to use the glue pen just as you would a regular pen. Swipe the glue on from the side so you don't put too much on. 

We want to make sure our tips all point in the same direction, so now continue on the next side (folding towards the next tip).  

Keep those points tight and sharp as you glue baste. 

Opposite side, glue and fold.

Final side, glue and fold. See how the tips, also known as 'dog ears' are all facing the same direction. Do not cut these off, it's important to keep them while we are joining our shapes together. 

This allows for the points to all meet and nest together nicely, can you see on the two joined diamonds below? 

 Begin your work with a knot. I like to start in the middle of my diamond (not the end with the dog tails). 

So needle in, take a stay stitch and begin whipstitching just as we joined the hexagons together last week. 

Continue whipstitching until you reach the very tip of your diamonds. 

 To finish I usually do a couple of stay stitches, and go back through a stitch - as you can see pictured below. 

Tip: Try to make sure you do finish off your work securely, as your stitches will loosen over time and will be more difficult joining your diamonds together to form a star. 

Now let's add in our third diamond! Just as you did before, whipstitch until you get to the points. See how I've pushed all the tails away from my stitching - this keeps them out of the way incase they get caught up in a stitch and peek out from the front! and notice I'm only catching a couple of threads of fabric with each whipstitch, this is especially important when you get to the points as it can get quite messy! 

When joining your diamonds together you always want to join them in two halves. This is much easier than sewing them continuously and having to tackle a difficult inset seam meeting at the centre. Trust me I've done this :-/ you will always end up with a small hole in the centre that way...

Match up your halves nicely, paying special attention that the centre's are directly opposite. Whipstitch the two halves together.

Tip: Push all those tails out the way when you get to the centre and try not to eat into too much fabric, so your stitches won't be seen from the front. 

Here you can see why we baste our diamonds in the same direction each time; the tails create a nice fan shape and can be easily pressed to reduce the bulk. 

Voila! Your finished star! 

Diamonds are such a versatile shape in the EPP family. Below is another variation you could make with the 6-point diamonds. The images below were kindly borrowed with permission from Martha at QisforQuilter.com (originally I posted this on my Facebook page as I've been asked often; how to achieve a tumbling pattern using EPP,  so I figured it would be useful as part of this blog series too). 

It's a great variation on the traditional tumbling block quilt design. I love the vibrant 1930's colour palette of solids and prints with the scalloped edge. 

Here I've highlighted how this is easily achieved with the use of English paper piecing, can you see the 6-pointed star?

Image (edited for purposes of this tutorial): Vintage Tumbling Blocks Quilt Inspiration, QisforQuilter.com

This is the block! I thought I'd make one up just to get you started, it's made using the 2" 6-pointed diamonds. You can then add more diamonds to complete the block and carry on the design by using 2" hexagons for the 'path'. 

 Another popular design using EPP diamonds is to create a hexagon shape. 

You can see here I've just tilted my block from my previous image above and joined on (6) 2" 6-point diamonds. This creates the shape required to make a continuous star design. The vintage quilt above uses a white background which highlights the stars, but you can use alternating fabrics; like this one which will create the 'hexagon' design. 

I hope you've enjoyed my guide on English paper piecing using diamonds. If you have any questions at all please drop me a comment below :-) Next week we'll be doing some fussy cutting! Hope you can stop by. xo