Category Archives: Paper piecing

The Honey Pot Bee – April Queen Bee Fun

Ahhh, April! My favorite month! April is the month when spring usually begins to prevail over the last cold days of winter, with days getting a tad bit warmer, hopefully the snow melting enough to make way for sprouting crocuses and daffodils, and a prevalence of sun instead of sleet and snow. Not only that, it’s my birthday month, which is always a fun excuse to celebrate a little bit extra. To add some frosting to the cake, this month, I’m also one of the Queen Bees for The Honey Pot Bee hosted by Molli Sparkles. So fun!

the honey pot bee molli sparkles 2017When I was trying to decide what block to throw into the Honey Pot, I stumbled upon the Starry Sky block by Kylie at A Persevering Mom and completely fell in love.  Let me count the ways: 1) it’s foundation paper pieced yet very simply so, 2) the possibilities for color play are endless and I just LOVE Kylie’s warm/cool on low volume background sample block, 3) it comes in three sizes–2.5″, 6″ and 12″ finished squares, and 4) it’s free which makes it a prime choice for a bee! Decision made!

starry sky block by a persevering momBecause the foundation paper piecing in this block is so simple, it is a perfect block for some meticulous cutting fun. I decided that I wanted to use my precious Friedlander fabric for the background, but I wanted it to look like the tree scene was continuous across the block. I thought it might be helpful if I shared a few tips on how I did it.

starry sky block by a persevering momRemember that in foundation paper piecing, you are building the block on the back of the template. For this reason, when cutting each fabric piece, be sure to position the template with the printed lines facing the right side of the fabric to ensure the direction of the fabric is correct.

starry sky block by a persevering momIt’s also helpful to cut as you go, completing one template piece at a time and double checking your progress along the way. This certainly takes longer than cutting all of the necessary fabric pieces and chain piecing each section, but when playing the meticulous cutting game, it’s wise to go slowly and steadily, checking and double checking along the way.

starry sky block by a persevering momIn the photo above, the pieces of background fabric are cut for each section of the final foundation template (remember that the fabric will go on the back, so it appears mirrored when looking at them next to each other this way.) The final adjustment that can be made is with the numbering and order in which fabrics are sewn. With a basic understanding of how foundation paper piecing works, you can rearrange your piecing order to help easily align your fabric pieces. For this block, I always began with the center of the star points when at all possible so that it made it easy to keep the background fabric level and headed in the desired direction. For the piece shown, instead of sewing them in the listed order of A1, A2, A3, etc…, I positioned A3, then sewed A2, then A4, then A1.  This way, I only had one angled seam to line up properly (A5 to A6) in the entire block.

starry sky block by a persevering mom
A final shot of all of the block components in the dying evening light, right before final assembly.

While this seamless background didn’t come across as clearly as I hoped due to the intricacies of the branches and print, I’m still glad I went through the extra effort to get those bushes lined up along the bottom. Even if at first glance, it’s not obvious that the background fabric lines up, I know it does, and that’s what matters, right!?

starry sky block by a persevering momI love how the Friedlander Tree Stripe border in Pistachio looks with the star points, which include fabric from both Carkai and Architextures also by Carolyn Friedlander, some favorite Alison Glass Sun Prints from 2016 and 2017, a Free Spirit solid, Gum Leaves from Terra Australis 2 by Emma Jean Jansen, and an unknown green swirl from my stash. I sewed the block with my favorite 50wt Aurifil thread, 2600-Dove, but was excited to find two lovely greens in my stash, which will come in handy when it’s quilting time! My block will obviously be added to my Greenery Quilt, and I most likely will aim to also make a 12″ version of the block in a different arrangement of greens since I love the block so much. Can’t you see this block looking fab in just about any color combination!?

Head on over to Molli’s blog to see the other gorgeous block for April, and have fun with this Starry Sky block!

I’m linking up with Tips & Tutorials Tuesday with Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl and Stephanie at Late Night Quilter in case anyone else wants a few tips on creating a seamless background panel for a pieced block. Enjoy!

 

Farmer’s Wife Sew Along – Block 35 Flora Tutorial

Welcome to the final–yes, the very last!!!–block tutorial for the 1930 Farmer’s Wife Sew Along, hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell. If you’ve made it this far and have completed all of the blocks, congratulations!! You have finished quite an amazing accomplishment! If you haven’t completed all of the blocks but are still following along, bravo to you as well! And welcome to the club 😀

farmers wife 1930 35 flora tutorialSince at this point in this Sew Along, I’m sure there are hardly any techniques or block approaches that need additional guidance, I decided, with the approval of Angie, to approach this tutorial a little differently. Today my tutorial will focus on “what next?” Now that this epic sew along is officially complete and you may or may not have all 99 of the blocks sewn, I will reflect on and share a few different approaches you might want to take.

Tips for Foundation Paper Piecing Flora

First, let’s get Flora’s construction covered. I foundation paper pieced my block, so for those of you who do not know how to foundation paper piece, visit my Basic Foundation Paper Piecing tutorial here, as well as the Foundation Paper Piecing tutorial guest post I wrote for the Andover Fabrics blog. Trust me, it is a technique worth practicing and mastering, since it opens a whole new world of sewing possibility!

foundation paper pieced flora farmers wifeSince this block is not symmetrical, I printed a mirror image of the templates to help ensure I matched the color placement to that in the book. I selected simple dark, medium, and light green fabrics and carefully marked each piece of the template with a D (dark), M (medium), or L (light) before sewing so that once I had my fabric bits cut, I could chain piece the templates without too much thought. Those two preparatory steps (printing mirror image templates & marking each section of the templates) helped make the actual stitching of this block quick and smooth.

farmers wife 1930 floraThe final block has been sewn! Congratulations! So now what….?

Farmers Wife final layout warm coolIf we reminisce back to October 2015 when we first began this sew along, I originally planned (hoped?) to make 72 blocks instead of the full 99. I planned to sew some with cool colors on a white/low volume background and warm colors on a grey/black background and set them with solid blocks between. It seemed like a solid plan at the time, back when I had in my head that I was making “just a little 6″ block every week”. As you all know at this point, though, these little 6″ blocks pack a punch, often with 30-60 pieces and taking hours to construct. I’ve accepted that the 72 block plan just isn’t in the cards for me at this point in my life. I’m totally ok with that. If you find yourself in the same boat, here are some options.

Keep Plugging Away

all of my blocks sans flora
My full block inventory, not including Flora = 15 blocks

One option is to keep plugging away at the blocks with the goal of completing all of them eventually. If you want to be sure to complete them in a timely fashion, you may want to set a new goal for yourself and try to hold yourself to it.  Perhaps you could aim to make one block per week, at least 3 weeks out of every month.  Or you could plan to make 1 block every 2 weeks, where week 1 is spent selecting fabric and cutting and week 2 is spent sewing the blocks together. If this is your choice, make a plan, write it down, and forge ahead!

Change your Block Setting

Adjusting the way you set your blocks could also help you get a decent sized quilt from the blocks you’ve made. If you have made all 99 blocks, you could set your blocks with simple sashing and have a nice, huge quilt.

background fabric between each blockAdding solid blocks between each Farmer’s Wife block can help you get the most bang for your buck with however many (or few, in my case) blocks you’ve made. Add sashing and that will make your quilt even larger relative to the number of blocks you’ve made. My original mock-up includes both the blocks between each Farmer’s Wife block, and sashing, so you can reference that (included a few images up) for a visual.

negative space block setting - aria lane alyssa lichtnerOr you could think even further out of the box and arrange your blocks in a more modern, negative-space filled setting. I love the idea of arranging blocks similar to the design in Alyssa Lichner’s Concerto Quilt pattern for Aria Lane!

Make a Smaller Quilt

If you made less blocks than you initially had planned, you could always make a smaller quilt!  Lap quilts are all the rage these days, right!? Are any of your local farmer friends having a baby anytime soon? A good handful of these blocks could be beautifully worked into a “Farmer’s Baby Quilt”. With these intricate blocks, you don’t need many of them to make a gorgeous quilt.

Placemats & Pillows!

If, like me, these 6″ blocks showed you who’s boss (and it wasn’t you) and you only ended up successfully making a bit over a dozen of them, they sure would make beautiful placemats or pillows! Both placemats and pillows are handmade items that are often seen and appreciated daily, making sure your painstaking efforts will be appreciated to their fullest.

background fabric between each blockI’m actually thinking the blue unicorn block I made very well might have to become a pillow for one of my kiddos. It will surely be cherished that way.

With all of those options on your plate, your beautiful Farmer’s Wife blocks are sure to find their way into a finished work of beauty instead of floundering in a pile in your sewing space, right?!  Choose your own adventure, enjoy the journey, and thanks so much for joining in on this wild Farmer’s Wife Sew Along experience!

So which adventure will I choose?

Once I completed Flora, I pulled out all of my completed blocks and put them up on my design wall to take stock of my progress. As seen above, I finished a whopping 16 blocks. I am not counting the three blocks that have foundation paper piecing templates printed, cut out, and fabric pulled, since they are not yet sewn, but I do plan to make them eventually.

smaller quilt same layout planAt first I considered the “Make a Smaller Quilt” option, and thought perhaps I’ll make a few more blocks to fill out a lap sized quilt in my original layout. Note that these photos are from a purely planning phase–fabric slapped up onto my portable design wall simply for the benefit of playing with different arrangements visually. It’s wrinkled and wonky and that’s all part of the fun! 

warm on darkSince I made the warm colored blocks with a dark background and the cool colored blocks with a white background, I probably will stick with those for sashing and background blocks.

Once I began writing this post, though, the negative-space filled setting inspired by the Concerto Quilt is really calling to me. I may opt to plug away and make some more blocks, with the end goal of setting them in a fade out pattern similar to the blocks in the Concerto Quilt. Time will tell, and since I know that I want to make more blocks before settling on any of the options, it’s absolutely okay to choose later!

snail and low volumes worked into greenery
Do you see Flora?

Flora is going to go live in my Greenery 2017 quilt, though, since the block reminded me strongly of dappled light through the treetops and I thought adding a Farmer’s Wife block to my year’s Greenery project would be the perfect touch! The quilt is already a green melting pot of blocks from all of the sew alongs and bees I’m joining this year so it feels only right that a Farmer’s Wife 1930s block join the ranks.

The moral of this story is: There are no rules. This is your quilt. You can do anything you want to with these blocks!  Enjoy the adventure!

Important Links

http://www.interweavestore.com/the-farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quiltThe Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.

 

The Bee’s Knees in Constant Flux

Right before the mad-dash to get packed for our trek to QuiltCon, I finished a mini quilt and excitedly mailed it to a hotel in Savannah, where it patiently waited for Giuseppe to arrive. Here’s a closer look at my mini quilt that hung in the Andover Fabrics booth at QuiltCon.

alison glass constant flux mini quilt for andoverThis quilt got its name after it was nearly completed, as I sat hand stitching the binding to the back. A mini quilt made at the request of Andover Fabrics, out of entirely Alison Glass fabrics, to be displayed in the Andover booth at QuiltCon–can you imagine how thrilled I was to make it? I had selected my pattern Constant Flux since I have been wanting to play with different arrangements and color schemes for it, and simply rearranged the blocks to create a central focal square (I rotated each block 180 degrees).

applique embroidered bee from alison glass fabric constant flux detailWith freestyle embroidery fresh on my mind and Nichole Vogelsinger’s book Boho Embroidery freshly on my bookshelf, I was inspired to add an embroidered, appliquéd bee from Alison’s Seventy-Six line in the center.

hungarian braided stitch aurifil 12wt
Just getting started with my favorite stitch: Hungarian braided chain, in 12wt Aurifil 2120-Canary.

So when a local friend of mine sent a message connecting me with a textile designer friend of hers who needed product photography, and calling me “the bee’s knees”, the name just felt right.  I think the entire world pretty much knows that I think nearly all of Alison Glass’s fabrics are the bee’s knees, so it felt like the perfect name: The Bee’s Knees (aka all of my favorite things–Alison Glass fabrics, plus meticulous cutting, plus embroidered applique, plus detailed machine and hand quilting) in Constant Flux (the pattern name). More figuratively, it’s a nod to the fact that the fabrics and styles that we consider the bee’s knees are constantly changing.

foundation paper piecing progressI had a lot of fun with the meticulously cut (yeah, yeah, fussy cut) sections, including bees and flowers as framing for the color flow. I love pairing meticulous cutting with foundation paper piecing. The fussy cutting templates I include in my pattern came in handy, too.

half inch grid quilting aurifilI knew I wanted to incorporate both hand and machine quilting, and I knew that I wanted the machine quilting to be dense. It took me a while to decide between using 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove or 5015-Gold Yellow for the quilting, and finally I opted for the Gold Yellow to pull out the gold of the centrally stitched bee. I quilted a diagonal grid approx 1/2″ apart on all of the colored sections of the quilt and I love the texture it created. I wanted the white star and central diamond to pop, so I let them be, patiently awaiting hand quilting.

hand quilting detail I used a rainbow of 12wt Aurifil thread to help pull the rainbow from the gorgeous fabrics into the white sections, and I love the outcome! I decided to switch to 12wt 2600-Dove for the center so that the bee would stand out.

hand quilting detail back of quiltThe back shows that my hand quilting still has plenty of room for improvement (especially when trying to maneuver around the bee), but it’s still fun to see the back, too!

the bee's knees in constant flux quilt back alison glassI used Seventy Six fabrics Rising in Graphite and Numbered in Duck Egg for the back, with an Insignia in Chartreuse label.

label your quilts!Labeling is one of my favorite parts–maybe because it helps me know that my name is on my work, or maybe because it means I’m finished with a project!!

Andover Booth Quilt Con 2017This quilt is currently in Andover headquarters in NYC for photography and other fun fabric adventuring before it returns to me, but it was super fun to see it hanging in the booth at QuiltCon (see it, top right??). You can see a photo of me proudly standing next to it in my QuiltCon post here.

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday, since this finished mini hopped right into the mail upon its completion and hasn’t been shared in detail here yet. Finishes do feel good, don’t they!?

Not-So-Ugly Christmas Sweater Block Sew Along with Kid Giddy

A while back, Kerry from Kid Giddy asked if I wanted to sew along with her Ugly Christmas Sweater Sew Along, and of course I said yes. I have been wanting to make her “Ugly Sweater” block since it came out last year, so this was the perfect excuse to get it (and a deadline) on my to-do list. Plus, quick little finishes are really nice this time of year. I don’t think my sweater is very ugly, but that’s ok!

kidgiddy ugly sweater blockThe block finishes at 6″ square, so my initial thought was to shrink it down to a 3″ square and make an ornament. I love making functional items, and you know how I love to sew teeny tiny ridiculously small things! But then when I sorted through my stash and decided upon the Tula Pink Prince Charming print as the sweater body, I decided the scale would look better with the 6″ size.  Now we are going to have a festive mug rug/coaster, which I plan to have out for all of sweater season, which is nice and long here in Maine!

kidgiddy ugly sweater blockI love the subtle Cotton + Steel Mustang twinkle trim on the sweater, and the Kona Wasabi arms round it out nicely.

kidgiddy ugly sweater blockHindsight, I should have made the shoulder bits with the greeny-yellow part of the Tula print instead of the blue, since they kind of disappear into the background, but c’est la vie. My husband says he likes it this way, so all is well.

kidgiddy ugly sweater blockI plan to do some simple diagonal crosshatch quilting with the walking foot on my Bernina 560, but haven’t yet decided whether to use Aurifil 50wt Medium Delft Blue-2783 or Lemon-2115. I’m leaning toward the lemony yellow, I think. Which would you use?

Be sure to check out the other fun ugly and not-so-ugly sweater blocks on Instagram at #uglysweaterblock, or get Kerry’s pattern here.

kidgiddy ugly sweater blockI’ll be sure to share this block in action once I quilt it up and plop some delicious treats or a warm mug of something sweet on top! I borrowed some of the tiny glittery ornaments from the tiny tree my son cut for our kitchen island for my block photo shoot and now there’s glitter EVERYwhere! I hope your holiday season has been glittery and bright so far, too!

Farmer’s Wife Sew Along – Block 95 Sylvia Tutorial

Ahh, remember the Farmer’s Wife Sew Along!? Today is my day to share the Block 95 Sylvia tutorial for the 1930 Farmer’s Wife Sew Along, hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell. Sure, I’m wildly behind on this sew along, but that’s totally ok! With my final deadlines being met within the next couple of weeks, I will have time to catch up a bit, chipping away at the missing blocks here and there. It’s all good! That’s part of what I love about Angie’s Sew Along–there’s no pressure. I’m making this quilt for me and I can take as long as I want to finish it!

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialEach of these Farmer’s Wife blocks manage to pack quite a punch in the little 6 1/2″ space. My method of attack when deciding how to piece each block has been consistent: how can I piece this with as little muss and fuss as possible? With Sylvia, at first I was thinking chain piecing would be the way to go, since it would help minimize the teeny tiny pieces in the inner borders I’d need to cut and sew. Looking at it more closely, I decided that with this block, even chain piecing would require piecing TINY bits, cutting, and then piecing again. Plus, sixteenths of an inch!? No thank you! Finally, I decided that foundation paper piecing was the way to go, since:

  • there aren’t any tricky joins,
  • the pieces are teeny enough that the foundation paper will be helpful in reducing wonkiness,
  • the block breaks into pretty manageable pieces, AND
  • all of the border pieces can be cut using a rotary cutter and ruler to decrease the paper removal at the end.

Those who know me know that I LOVE foundation paper piecing (FPP), and it’s true–I do! The precision one can get using FPP is unrivaled, and once the technique is mastered, it makes sewing teeny tiny pieces MUCH more manageable. I am not going to take you step by step through how to foundation paper piece, since I have  written two very clear tutorials already (why reinvent the wheel, right!?), but I will share some block-specific tips and tricks to help you piece Sylvia smoothly.

For those of you who do not know how to foundation paper piece, visit my Basic Foundation Paper Piecing tutorial here, as well as the Foundation Paper Piecing tutorial guest post I wrote for the Andover Fabrics blog here. Trust me, it is a technique worth practicing and mastering, since it opens a whole new world of sewing possibility!

Reflection on the Letter – In Spite of the Mortgage

Nearly every one of the letters in this book seems to talk to me in a very specific, seemingly personal way. After the first dozen times of reading a letter I shockingly thought was *meant for me*, I realized that all of the letters have a very widely applicable message and I was simply interpreting it in a way that worked for me at that moment. That said, I can completely relate to this letter!!

Sometimes it’s necessary to just head off on an adventure despite whatever chores, obligations, or need for frugality you have waiting for you at home. We did a lot of adventuring this summer, but like Mrs. A. M. from the letter, we were able to do it on a very tight budget, not paying for much more than gas money.  Day trips to beaches, mountains, playgrounds, and forested hikes abounded, and I was always sure to pack a picnic lunch, extra snacks from home, and full changes of clothes for all three kids (and myself)… just in case. It was a much needed change from the stay home and do chores days we could have had!

Tutorial

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialReady to get sewing? Make sure you have a grasp on how to foundation paper piece, and let’s make Sylvia!

Choosing Fabrics

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialAs soon as I saw this block, I knew that I wanted to meticulously cut the center square. I’m arranging my blocks on point, so be mindful of your own plans before meticulously cutting your fabric! (I call “fussy cutting” meticulous cutting, and you can read why here). In looking for a fabric with a perfect color scheme and feature design, I stumbled across my precious Heather Ross Far Far Away unicorns (Windham Fabrics). I added some solid blue from an old project, and some Lizzy House Twinkle Twinkle from her Whisper Palette (Andover Fabrics). While the colors are a bit more muted than my other blocks, I think they will all work together. Plus, this fabric combination was a match made in heaven… once it was together, there was no separating it!

Here are some general tips for foundation paper piecing:

  • Shorten your stitch length to 1.2 (if you are an absolute newbie at FPP, try 1.5 until you get the hang of it);
  • Hand crank your needle down at the beginning of each line to make sure you start off exactly where you want to;
  • Backstitch at the beginning and end of each line to secure your stitches (they will be much sturdier during paper removal this way); and,
  • Foundation paper piecing results in many trimmed thread ends. What better time to make yourself a thread catcher? Here’s a free tutorial on how to make the one I use.

To help you while you stitch up Sylvia, here are some block-specific tips for you with photos from my process.

Tip #1: How to make a fussy cutting template for FPP

Fussy cutting while foundation paper piecing can seem daunting, but with one extra step, it can be super easy! Simply create a fussy cutting planning template for the piece(s) you want to focus on. I go through making such template in detail in my FPP post for Andover here, but here are the basics: Print an extra sheet of paper containing the FPP template with the piece you want to fussy cut (printing on card stock will make the planning template sturdier).

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialMark the specific piece you want to meticulously cut. I went a little overboard on marking mine for the sake of clarity here. I circled the number but also traced just outside the line of the particular piece, both with bright pink sharpie. Simply circling the number would probably suffice!

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialCut out the center of the piece, creating a window that is exactly the size of the piece you want.

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialDraw a 3/8″ seam allowance around the window. I used a green micron pen for this example to ensure the line didn’t get confused with the printed lines on the paper.

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialCut along the line you drew.

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialYou should how have a planning template to help you cut your fabric for fussy cutting. Notice that I placed my planning template onto the fabric upside down. This is because in foundation paper piecing, we are sewing the block on the reverse side of the template. It did not matter too much for this particular piece, since it’s a square, but always be mindful of directionality of the fabric as well as wrong side-right side. If need be, mark your planning template with “right side up” or “wrong side up” so that your fabric is cut properly!

Tip # 2: Color code your foundation paper

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialBetween sewing the fabric on the reverse side of the paper, having the block broken into sometimes odd sections before sewing, and the many pieces involved in most foundation paper piecing patterns, it is in your best interest to color code your paper template before beginning to sew. This way, you can be sure you sew each fabric in the proper place.

Tip #3: Be generous with your fabric pieces

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialEspecially when first getting started with foundation paper piecing, one of the biggest tips I can offer is to be generous with your fabric pieces. It’s better to have to trim a bit more off than to be short and have to rip stitches! For my bright blue squares on Sylvia, I cut the fabric into 1 1/2″ squares, which as you can see includes ample overhang.

Tip #4: Use rotary cutter and ruler for rectangular shapes

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialThis tip goes for bag-making as well: just because there is a template created for a perfectly rectangular piece, it doesn’t mean you can’t use your rotary cutter and ruler! The outer pieces of Sylvia can be easily cut using a rotary cutter and ruler, which will save time with paper removal at the end. Since these pieces are not easily measured (let’s avoid using sixteenths of an inch if we can help it!) simply cut out the foundation paper piece templates and use them as a guide when rotary cutting. Use the foundation paper piecing method to piece the center portion, then add the D, E, H, and I rectangles using traditional piecing methods. Easy peasy!

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialAnd there you have it. Sylvia, in all her glory.

Thank you so much for joining me today and I hope you found this tutorial helpful!

Important Links

http://www.interweavestore.com/the-farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quiltThe Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.

 

Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial on Andover Fabrics’ Blog

Today’s the day! A few months back Giuseppe (aka @giucy_giuce on social media) from Andover Fabrics asked if I would like to do a guest post on their blog. For those of you who haven’t put it together, Andover Fabrics is the manufacturer who houses fabric lines by Alison Glass, Lizzy House, Libs Elliot… and more! You know how much Alison Glass fabric alone is include in my makes, so of course I said YES! I decided to share a tutorial for my favorite quilting technique that sadly often has a bad rep–foundation paper piecing. Today a revamped foundation paper piecing tutorial featuring my newest pattern, Constant Flux, which features Handcrafted Patchwork by Alison Glass, went live on the Andover blog.

foundation paper pieced block from constant flux andover tutorialThis tutorial takes you through the basics of foundation paper piecing, but also includes some special hints, tips, and helpful cutting measurements for sewing together the Constant Flux pattern. You can read more about Constant Flux HERE, and be sure to visit the foundation paper piecing tutorial on the Andover blog HERE.

constant flux pattern coverIf you haven’t yet added Constant Flux to your pattern library, it’s still on sale for a few more days in my Craftsy shop (and Payhip for those of you in the EU). Get it now for only $5, since at the end of the week it will head back up to its usual $8.

Many thanks to Andover Fabrics for hosting me, and I hope all of you find my foundation paper piecing tutorial helpful! Happy stitching!

Constant Flux: Flimsy Finish & Pattern Release

It’s no secret that I love to design foundation paper pieced patterns. You’ve seen me create the likes of Lupine, Love Struck, Bean SproutLove is the Key, Fish Panels, Buoys, and more. Recently, though, I’ve been wanting to play more with geometric foundation paper pieced patterns, and I’m excited to share my very first one with you today!

constant flux pattern coverConstant Flux is an easy, very beginner-friendly, and diverse pattern. There are no tricky angles, odd shapes, or difficult joins, yet the design options are boundless. The mini quilt consists of four 12″ blocks, finishing at 24″, but it’s easy to make a quilt of any size by simply making more blocks or adding borders!

alison glass handcrafted patchwork fabric andoverAndover Fabrics asked me a while back if I would do a guest post on their blog. Of course I said yes, and decided to share a foundation paper piecing tutorial to try to spread the love of this oft-disparaged quilting style. This pattern is the result, and the tutorial will be posted on the Andover blog soon, so keep your eye out for it! The tutorial will take you step by step through how to foundation paper piece this pattern, which in turn can be applied to all other foundation paper pieced patterns! I’ll be sure to link to it as soon as it’s live. In the meantime, go ahead and buy the pattern and start choosing your fabrics!

fussy cutting for foundation paper piecingI created my version of Constant Flux inspired by Handcrafted Patchwork by Alison Glass from Andover Fabrics and just had to keep her gorgeous large motifs intact, so the pattern includes tools to help you plan meticulously cut elements if you so desire. I also include measurements for precutting fabric to make the process move more smoothly, so be sure to check out the tutorial early next week.

constant flux mini quiltConstant Flux is available in my Craftsy store (and Payhip for those of you in the EU) and will be on sale for only $5 for the first week, after which it will return to its normal price of $8.

The name of Constant Flux makes me happy because of the play on words. The visual aspect of the pattern strongly elicits movement, thus the “Flux” part. Yet aspects of the quilt can be meticulously cut as exact replicas, which is where the “Constant” part of the name comes in. Depending on the way you look at it, the constant can imply both that the movement is happening at all times, or that there are some things that are constant despite the movement! Constant Flux.

Constant Flux color optionsFor now, I haven’t quilted my first one and I already want to make Constant Flux in a different colorway. Look at all of the options I came up with in just a short moment of color arrangement play! The pattern comes with a full page coloring sheet so that you can explore your options before diving in. That bottom right version is calling to me–which one would you make first?!

I’d love to see what you create, so when you stitch up your Constant Flux quilt, please tag #constantfluxquilt and @nightquilter so that I can see your creation!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday, Needle & Thread Thursday, and TGIFF. Happy stitching!

Work in Progress: Cyclic Mini Mini

I’ve been debating whether to show you another mini mini quilt I’ve been oh-so-slowly working on over the past months, since I probably could wait until it’s finished to share. Then again, I love to share my process, and perhaps by showing you each step, you can better see what goes into my thought process as projects evolve. I also think that this project is a perfect example of “use the method that works best for you”. There are no hard rules in quilting, right!?

carolyn friedlander cyclic mini mini quilt progressI’m nearing the finish line with this little one. It features some of my favorite Carolyn Friedlander fabrics, with a goal of playing with transparency in a cyclic way. I created a mini 2″ square foundation paper pieced pattern for each quarter of this mini mini, resulting in about a 4″ square. I used the template I designed for accurate piecing of the center spokes, and then have used different methods for sewing the outer curves.

carolyn friedlander cyclic mini mini quilt progress traditional curved piecingOne of the fun perks of dragging projects out over obscene lengths of time (chuckle with me for a minute, here) is that it becomes a documentation of skill development. Two of the four curves were pieced using traditional curved sewing, and the wobbly, puckery wonk is indicative of my amateur curve abilities a few months ago. In fact, my original plan includes a needle-turn appliqué element over the curve, since I knew that it would most likely be something I would need to mask a bit (possibly a lot bit).

carolyn friedlander cyclic mini mini quilt progress You can see on the green quadrant that there is another dark curved piece added on top of the curve. That is needle-turned and does a fabulous job of covering the little inconsistencies of my tiny curved stitching. Use the method that works best for you, right!?

carolyn friedlander cyclic mini mini quilt progress six minute circle style curved sewingHowever, since completing the first two quadrants of this mini mini, I have learned and conquered the six-minute circle style method of curved piecing, which results in an amazingly smooth and seemingly flawless sewn curve, as demonstrated on that blue section shown above.

Quite a few people have asked about this method, and since I have not yet found a tutorial for curved (both improv and regular) stitching using this method, I’ve decided that I need to create a tutorial. I will share that as soon as I’m able! It is SUCH an amazing method that, while it takes a bit of extra time to execute, the final result is well WELL worth the effort. Especially for those of us who may not have fully mastered curved sewing just yet, or who have a particularly high desire for perfectionism in sewing. Or at least who delight in nearing perfection, since there is truly no such thing (and that’s ok!)

carolyn friedlander cyclic mini mini quilt progress I am currently contemplating the quilting for this mini mini, and am leaning toward some simple, large, hand stitching to secure the layers and add just a bit of interest. I also have some travel plans coming up, so as long as I can get the top prepared and layered, hand stitching might be just the thing to take with me on my trip. I’m really happy with how this is progressing, though, and I’m grateful as always for the patience of my quilty friends as I slowly process, evolve and execute my plans for their personalized mini minis. I’ll be sure to share the finished mini mini once I finally complete it.

I think using needle-turn appliqué to hide a weak point in my sewing is totally legit, don’t you? What little tricks do you use to help make your completed projects shine?

Make Modern Mini Mini Quilt Challenge: Finally, Mini Minis

Remember that mini mini quilt craze that spread like wildfire among quilty bloggers about eight months ago? Yeah, me too. The fun news is that with the recent feature in Make Modern magazine, the mini mini quilt spark is being fanned back into life with a Mini Mini Quilt Challenge. You can see a fun inspiration gallery of mini mini quilts in the recent issue of Make Modern (Issue 11), including a couple made by yours truly, and there’s a community wide challenge running now through June 20th to help inspire more mini mini madness. Read more about the challenge here, or check out the hashtag #MMminimini to see what creative mini mini quilts have been created thus far (and add your own to the pool!).

mini mini quilts with aurifil for scaleI’d like to say the mini mini quilts I’m sharing today are newly inspired and whipped up in response to this fun challenge, but no. I’ll be honest. I began both of these many, many months ago, and they were worked on at a snail’s pace, off and on. I’m almost embarrassed to share these finishes, since they have taken me so ridiculously long to finally finish. But I know that you understand, and that you would want to see the finished mini mini quilts even if it took over 8 months (gah!) for me to finally buckle down and finish them. So, without further delay, my latest mini mini quilt finishes:

Slow Growth

slow growth mini mini quilt finishThis mini mini quilt was made for Allison at Campbell Soup Diary (you can see the amazingly wonderful mini minis she made me here and here). When we first decided to exchange mini minis, she offered this as guidance: “As for colors that I like… AG grove in grass green is THE perfect shade! I tend towards pinks, purples, oranges, yellows, but generally stay away from blues unless it’s a really nice royal. Turquoise is great, but red is the one color that is almost always left out of my color palette. (don’t ask me why, but I even avoid it in my garden and my wardrobe) If given the choice between straight lines and wonky, I prefer straight. I love natural and soft shapes, but I also realize that that cannot easily be pieced.

slow growth mini mini quilt finishFor some reason, I latched onto the AG grove in grass green (of course), paired with the favorite colors of pinks, purples, oranges, yellows. I wanted to create something with natural and soft shapes, so immediately thought of needle-turn applique. The rest of this mini mini just sort of happened as I stitched. The mod leaves and flowers are needle-turn appliqued, and then I used 12 wt Aurifil thread to embroider details on the flowers.

slow growth mini mini quilt finish snail detailThe snail was not initially intended to be part of this mini mini, but in fact was the result of a mini mini travesty: my three year old son found my little scissors and in playing around, cut a small hole right in the mini mini quilt!! After taking many deep breaths, probably yelling at least once and emphatically saying that it was NOT ok to cut mommy’s sewing, I decided to make lemonade out of lemons and needle-turn a little patch over the hole. With a bit of embroidery embellishment, a little slow growing snail was born. It ends up this snail was the perfect symbol of this project, and ultimately inspired its name: Slow Growth.

I densely hand quilted this mini mini with a variety of weights of Aurifil 2600-Dove (50wt, 28wt, and 12 wt), essentially hand-matchstick-quilting the 5″x5″ quilt. I improv-ed the quilting and included a few rows of X’s and one of little bubbly O’s for interest. I used a super thin binding for this (1″ strip to start, single fold), and although finicky to sew on, I really like the feel and aesthetic of the skinny binding. Even if it took ages, there are many positive, grateful, creatively generous thoughts stitched into this mini mini, Allison! I hope you like it!

Too Tiny

fpp feather mini mini quilt finishThis next mini mini quilt was an experiment in how small can you go, and I determined that I reached my tiny threshold, at least with this foundation paper pieced pattern. The intended recipient of this mini mini is a big fan of the color purple, and I also knew I wanted to make her a feather mini mini. I wanted it to be unique, though, so I designed my own teeny foundation paper pieced pattern of a geometric feather.

fpp feather mini mini quilt finishI absolutely love tiny stitching, mostly because of the giggles that reflexively bubble over while I’m piecing the ridiculously tiny pieces. This tiny feather was no different, until it came time to sew the two sides together. The seam was crazy thick; so thick, I had to hand crank my sewing machine to get the needle through it without breaking (I broke a needle trying the first time). With a seam that thick, you can guess how great my chances of pressing it flat might be–slim to none! My solution? I stuffed actual wool batt behind the feather and then quilted around it as best as I could. It’s not exactly trapunto; it’s more a stuffed feather!

fpp feather mini mini quilt finishMy reverse needle-turn applique skills have room for improvement, and the shaft of the feather didn’t work as well as I had hoped. I decided to embroider over it with 12wt Aurifil to try to give it a more intentional look, and I’m much happier with the result. The Anna Maria Horner loominous fabric was the perfect background, and I machine quilted horizontal lines with 50wt Aurifil 2560-Iris.

fpp feather mini mini quilt finishI used the backing as binding and folded over a larger portion on this mini mini quilt, since I felt it needed a stronger frame due to the visual weight of the 3-dimensional feather. Mini mini quilts certainly keep me humble, since every little stitch is visible, and the wobbles and less-than-perfect corners are part of the charm.

fpp feather mini mini quilt finishI signed the back with quick embroidered initials and date, since I feel strongly about signing all creations, no matter how small.

Both of these mini minis are going in the mail today. Once I finish a bit more of the projects on my to-do list, I am sure to revisit the mini mini quilt making scene. I still have one more promised mini mini quilt that is in progress for a friend who has already sent one in return (ages ago), and my very first mini mini swap for which I need to redo the binding. I think I agreed to swap with at least two others, but we left it open and relaxed and since I have not received a mini mini in return, I don’t feel *quite* so bad letting the creation of my mini mini quilt slide. All in good time, right?

make modern mini mini challengeHave you made a mini mini quilt yet? If you feel so inspired, I encourage you to post a photo on Instagram with #MMminimini to join the fun (and enter to win prizes!). I’d also love to see it, so tag me @nightquilter so that I can see your tiny beauty!

I’m linking up with Let’s Bee Social and will link with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday, and TGIFF, since community is fun!

Bean Sprout: FPP Pattern Release

Today I am excited to release my newest foundation paper pieced (FPP) pattern, Bean Sprout. Today is arbor day, so for now I’m thinking of it as more of a tree sprout, but regardless of which species you’re growing, this block pattern is ready to roll!

bean sprout foundation paper pieced pattern nightquilterTo me, the bean sprout is the epitome of spring, new life, and the wonder of discovery. I have watched my children’s excitement over the first sprout of newly planted seeds, and wanted to capture that fresh promise. This block is perfect for the gardeners among you, and I can see it as a focal block in a quilt, or even turned into pillows, tote bags, wall hangings, or table runners.

grow bean sprout pillow finishYou may remember my first iteration of this Bean Sprout block, which I turned into a pillow and donated to my daughter’s school for their annual fundraiser auction/raffle. Since then, I made a few tiny tweaks to the pattern to make it a bit more versatile, easier to piece, and clearer to follow. The block finishes at 8″x12″, but can easily be made into a 12″x12″ finished block by adding two side strips, which is explained in the pattern.

pattern piecing diagram bean sprout fppThe pattern includes clear piecing diagrams, sewing tips, and templates for the 8″x12″ finished block, with various shading to help with accurate fabric placement. Quarter inch seam allowances are included on all pattern pieces to help ensure easy piecing, and a 1″ reference square is on every printable page so that scale can be confirmed. Full foundation paper piecing instructions are not included in the pattern, but I have a thorough paper piecing tutorial HERE. Lee Heinrich from Freshly Pieced also has a fabulous tutorial on the Bernina We All Sew blog HERE, which will ensure you will never miss corners again. Knowing all of the information in these two tutorials will help demystify FPP, or at the very least will GREATLY reduce seam ripping.

bean sprout block bring spring no matter the weather
Sew up the bean sprout block to bring spring no matter the weather!!

Bean Sprout is available for sale in my Craftsy and Payhip (if you’re in the EU, please purchase through Payhip!) shops, at an introductory price of $2.50 through the weekend. Tuesday morning EST, it will go up to its standard price of $4.50.

bean sprout foundation paper piecing pattern nightquilterI pushed spring into summer with my latest version of the block, using Cotton + Steel teals and coral that remind me of watermelon. I wanted to show the versatility of the color possibilities with this true-to-life block. While my brain initially goes to the greens and blues true to real life bean sprouts and summer sky, there are many other combinations that could work well to make the block shine! (For the avid gardeners among you, yes, I know the seedling shown is a brussel sprout plant, not a bean!)

There’s not much more exciting than seeing what others create with my patterns, so if you make this block, please use the tag #beansproutblock on social media and tag me @nightquilter. Sending an email would also work! Enjoy, spread the word, and go grow some quilts!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Let’s Bee Social.