Category Archives: Tutorials

Easter Egg Pincushion Tutorial by Hillary Goodwin & Kitty Wilkin

Recently Hillary from Entropy Always Wins and I had the opportunity to meet in person after following each other’s work online for years. Both loving embroidery, repurposing textiles, creativity and the sewing community in general we plotted a tutorial that would allow us to play off each other’s creative personality and engage the greater sewing community as a whole.

A year ago Hillary made an Easter Egg shaped pincushion out of velvet and repurposed leather. We expanded on this idea and invite anyone who wants to participate to make a similar pincushion and, if interested, incorporate repurposed leather (Earth Day is coming up after all, and repurposed leather is typically thin enough to easily sew on a domestic sewing machine.) Be bold. Be brave. Let’s sew leather!

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyIn this tutorial we give everyone some guidelines but the emphasis is on PLAY and MAKING THIS PROJECT YOUR OWN. Don’t celebrate Easter? No biggie, make a similar pincushion in another shape. We will be following on Instagram so please tag your makes #eastereggpincushion (as well as tagging @nightquilter and @entropyalwayswins) so we can all enjoy. To celebrate this group project we will both randomly be giving participants some of our own pincushions as well as supplies to make them. All you need to do to be eligible is to play along, tag us, and tag #eastereggpincushion so that we can find you!

Suggested Supplies

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kitty

  • Thin leather (~6×12 inches)
  • Wool felt, velvet, jeans or any other material for the inner portion of the pincushion (~6×6 inches)
  • Embroidery hoop (a 4” hoop will *just* fit the inner egg)
  • Embroidery Egg Template (click to download-Note updated 3/20)
  • Embroidery thread (embroidery floss, perle cotton, or 12wt thread works. Use what you have!)
  • Embroidery or other needle (I use Tulip size 3 milliners)
  • Double sided fabric tape or fabric glue (optional)
  • Sewing machine with a walking foot
  • Leather sewing machine needle
  • Thread (We both used Aurifil 40wt )
  • Chalk or other removable marker (or a willingness to live on the wild side and stitch without marking)
  • Muslin or other scrap fabric (6×12 inches)
  • Craft clips (both Clover wonder clips or Evergreen Art Supply magic clips work great)
  • Small Funnel
  • Crushed Walnut shell or other favored pincushion fill

Step 1: Templates and Leather

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyPrint the Embroidery Egg Template and cut along both inner and outer egg outlines.
easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyTrace the template onto the wrong side of the leather, marking out two eggs–one with only the outline and one with both the inner and outer lines drawn.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyCarefully cut along the marked lines, remembering to cut one piece along only the outer egg outline and cut the other piece along both the inner and outer egg outlines.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittySet your leather pieces aside.

Step 2: Embroidery

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyUsing chalk or water soluble marker, trace the inner egg outline onto your embroidery surface (felt, velvet, jeans, etc) so you will know the limitations of your embroidery design.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyAdorn at your heart’s desire with embroidery, applique, etc. You are welcome to copy our experiments but please feel free to try your own ideas.

Step 3: Attach the Embroidery to the Leather Upper

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyAlign your embroidered material so that the embellishments fit within the window of your leather upper (the egg with the hole cut out of the middle).

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittySecure the right side of your embroidery to the wrong side of your leather upper with double sided tape, glue, clips, or other method.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyThen, using a ¼ or ⅛ inch seam allowance, top stitch the two together along the inner egg as shown.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kitty
Self-threading needles work wonders for threading the loose ends to the back of the piece!

Thread the top threads to the back of the piece, tie all loose ends together and trim.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyFinally, if possible, trim the seam allowance of your embroidered material carefully about ½” away from the stitched line so that it remains easily inside the outer margins of the egg.

 

Step 4: Make an inner pincushion

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyUsing only the outer margin of your Egg Template, trace and cut two pieces of muslin. Sew the two pieces together using a ¼ inch seam allowance, leaving a small opening to use for filling.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kitty

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kitty
Any guesses how many tries with the 10sec timer on my camera it took for me to get this photo? LOL

Fill with crushed walnut shell (a funnel can be helpful for this). One half cup of crushed walnut shell for this project seems to be the right amount. Use a little more if you want a more rounded pincushion. Sew the opening of the inner pincushion completely closed.

Step 5: Finishing your pincushion

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyPlace the two leather egg pieces wrong sides together and secure with clips. (Note that pinning will create visible holes in the leather–use clips!) Sew around the outer margin of the egg using a ¼ seam allowance, leaving an opening at least 3 inches long unsewn.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyStuff your filled and fully closed inner pincushion through this opening. Ensuring the inner pincushion remains entirely inside, top stitch the remaining way around the outer edge of the egg.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyThread the top threads to the back of the piece, tie all loose ends together and trim or bury.

Step 6: Share your creation with us!

Tag your pincushion on Instagram #eastereggpincushion as well as tagging @nightquilter and @entropyalwayswins, or link to a blog post about your finished pincushions in the comments below.

hillary finished pincushionhillary finished pincushionhillary finished pincushion

hillary finished pincushion
Ideas in progress…

We can’t wait to see what you create! Enjoy!!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday and TGIFF! Everyone loves a quick finish!

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.

 

Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop: Steady On {Tutorial}

My favorite colors! Flying geese! Curves! Precision delicately dancing with improv! Yessssss, this block has all of those things and I’m excited to share a detailed tutorial with you today. This new block was designed for the New Block Blog Hop sponsored by Cloud9 Fabrics and hosted by Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl, Cheryl at Meadowmist Designs, and Stephanie at Late Night Quilter. Today is day three of the hop, which means that 46 new block tutorials have already been shared, and 23 more are being shared today. Amazing!

Cloud9 Fabrics new block blog hop tutorial Steady OnI’m calling my block Steady On, which just seemed fitting for such a classic made-by-me block. Those of you who know me know that I cannot keep anything simple, and this is a perfect case in point. This block has double improv curves, twenty (20) tiny flying geese, an hourglass block, and quite a few points that should match *just* so, all in the 12 1/2″ unfinished square block. But fear not, this tutorial has detailed photos and instructions on how to make each component of the block, and breaking it down into manageable chunks makes this block come together quite smoothly (Spoiler: we can make some of the flying geese 4 at a time!). There’s something about the determined light colored geese headed bravely into the dark and improvy unknown that urges me to encourage them… Steady on, now! That same encouragement goes for you, since I would LOVE to see you tackle this block and come out victorious (tag @nightquilter and #steadyonquilt when you do!). This is going to be fun, so let’s get started!

Gather your materials:

2016 cloud9 organic cirrus solids new block blog hop

  • Fat quarter (FQ) of each of the five (5) fabrics generously provided by Cloud9: Amazon, Sky, Shadow, Lilac, and Iris.  (There will be fabric left over–enough for a second block or more depending on how frugally you cut your scraps!).
  • Clover hera marker and/or other fabric marking tool
  • fabric scissors
  • washable school glue (I use Elmers)
  • Fine glue tip (optional but helpful)
  • rotary cutter & mat
  • quilting ruler with 1/4″ and 1/8″ markings (I use Omnigrid rulers)
  • sewing machine (I have a Bernina 560)
  • thread (I use Aurifil 50wt 2600-Dove for nearly all of my piecing)

Press your fabrics and use spray starch or Flatter by Soak to help stabilize them before cutting.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorial
If you are really attune to detail, you may notice that the smallest squares and rectangles are a bit too small in this photo–you’re right, but I corrected the measurements for the tutorial! No worries. Steady on…

Then cut the following pieces from each fabric:

Iris:
– (8) 1 7/8″ squares (for geese 4 at a time)
– (4) 1 1/2″ squares (for single geese)
– (4) 5 1/2″ squares (for curved quadrants)

Lilac: 
– (1) 3 1/4″ square (for geese 4 at a time)
– (6) 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles (for single geese)
– (1) 3 1/4″ square (for hourglass block)

Amazon:
– (8) 1 1/2″ squares (for single geese)
– (4) 5 1/2″ squares (for curved quadrants)

Sky:
– (6) 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles (for single geese)
– (2) 3 1/4″ squares (for hourglass and geese 4 at a time)

Shadow:
– (12) 1 1/2″ squares (for single geese)
– (4) 5 1/2″ squares (for curved quadrants)

Now, we will break down the block into manageable pieces, and make a component at a time. Let’s start with the curved quadrants!

Making Double-Curved Quadrants

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialFor this step, you will need your 5 1/2″ squares of Iris, Amazon, and Sky, washable school glue and tip, a marking pen or pencil, scissors, and an iron and pressing surface. To make the double-curved quadrants for this block, follow my tutorial on easy curved piecing using a visual layering approach and glue basting HERE.  Go ahead and read it now, I’ll wait for you. When you’ve read through it once and have a grasp on the general technique, grab three of your 5 1/2″ squares, one each of Iris, Amazon, and Sky. For this block, the Iris is the bottom layer, the Sky is the middle layer and the Shadow is the top layer.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialSince this method begins from the bottom up, start with Iris and Amazon. Mark the Amazon square 2 1/4″ up along both sides from the bottom right corner. Make sure your mark extends 1/4″ in from the edges before beginning the curve. This will be your sew line, not your cut line, so by measuring the 2 1/4″ we are ensuring our seams will match up, even though the flying geese are exact and the curves can be improv. (Note here that if you are using fabric with a right and wrong side, you want to be marking the wrong side of the fabric. With the Cloud9 Cirrus Solids that’s not important).

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialDraw an improv curve from marked point to point, or trace a perfect curve using the edge of a small plate or glass. Make sure your curve begins and ends at your marked points 2 1/4″ up from the corner.

Using the drawn line as your sew line, follow the steps in my curved piecing tutorial here to sew your first curve. Beautiful, right!?

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialNext, grab your Shadow 5 1/2″ square and mark 3 1/4″ up both sides from the bottom right corner. Again, draw your curve as desired, connecting from marked point to marked point, and using that line as the sew line.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialMake four quadrants, measuring 2 1/4″ up on the Amazon square and 3 1/4″ up on the Shadow square for two of them, and measuring 3 1/4″ up on the Amazon and 4 1/4″ up on the Shadow square for the other two. Admire your smooth curves, and set those blocks aside for later!

Making Flying Geese 4 at a Time

Next we will crank out as many flying geese as we can, using the technique of making 4 at a time found in the Reference Section of the Quilter’s Planner. I use my Quilter’s Planner daily, and it sure did save some time with this block! Here’s how:

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialPlace two 1 7/8″ Iris squares in the top right and bottom left corners of a 3 1/4″ Sky square as shown. Using your fabric marking tool of choice, draw a diagonal line from the top right corner to the bottom left corner. I love my Hera marker since it doesn’t actually mark the fabric, but makes a clear guide line.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialSew 1/4″ from either side of the drawn line. Press with a hot iron to set the seam (notice that I didn’t do this step? tsk tsk).

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialCut along the drawn line.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialPress the small Iris triangles outward, with seams pressed toward the dark fabric. Then place another 1 7/8″ Iris square in the corner of each unit, and mark a diagonal line as shown above.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialAgain, carefully sew 1/4″ from either side of the drawn line. Cut along drawn line.

Cloud9 Fabrics new block Steady On tutorialPress open, with seams toward darker fabric.

Cloud9 fabrics new block Steady On tutorialTrim to 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ and set aside.

Repeat instructions above using the remaining 1 7/8″ Iris squares and a 3 1/4″ Lilac square to make four Lilac geese with Iris corners.

Making Single Flying Geese

The remaining flying geese must be made one at a time since the corner colors are mixed up to flow into your improv curved quadrants.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onGrab your 1 1/2″ squares and 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles and lay them out to help plan which corners should be positioned on each rectangle. Use the finished flying geese above to help plan before you start sewing.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onTo make a flying geese block (or would it be flying goose?), position a 1 1/2″ square right sides facing the right top corner of a 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangle. Draw a diagonal line as shown above.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onSew along the line and then trim a 1/4″ seam allowance.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onI like to get mine all paired and drawn so that I can chain piece each side.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onRepeat with the other 1 1/2″ square on the top left side of the block. Press seams open or up toward the corner.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onTime saving tip: I cut my 1/4″ seam allowances with scissors while pressing. As long as you are accurate with a pair of scissors, it takes much less time than rotary cutting, at least for me.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onSquare your flying geese to 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles, making sure that your goose point is a perfect 1/4″ (or slightly further) from the top edge. Set aside.

Making Center Hourglass Block

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onFinally, let’s make that center hourglass block. Grab your 3 1/4″ Lilac and Sky squares.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onPlace right sides together and mark a diagonal line. I like to pin my pieces together since we are working with such a small scale. If you’d prefer some wiggle room, you can begin with 3 1/2″ squares and trim to size when you’re finished!

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onSew 1/4″ from either side of the drawn line. Cut along the drawn line.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onPress toward darker fabric. You will have two half square triangles (HST).

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onPlace HSTs right sides together, with the Lilac half of one facing the Sky half of the other, and nesting the seams.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onDraw a diagonal line perpendicular to the existing seam line, again pinning to keep the pieces in place while you sew.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onSew 1/4″ on either side of the drawn line. Then, cut along drawn line.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onPress seams open. You will have two hourglass blocks, but will only need one for this block. Save the other one for your next Steady On block!

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onTrim to 2 1/2″ square. Set aside.

Assembling the Block

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onNow that you’ve made all of the components, it’s time to sew the block together! Arrange all of your pieces as shown above, paying careful attention the positioning of the flying geese in relation to the large and small curves on your curved quadrants. There should be two Iris flying geese corners next to small curves and three Iris flying geese corners next to large curves.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onSew the top five and bottom five groupings of geese together, and sew the center horizontal strip of geese and center hourglass block together.

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onPerfect points tip: When sewing the flying geese together, keep the piece with the goose point on top. As you’re sewing, make sure your sewing machine needle sews exactly through the “x” that marks the point of the goose, or if anything, slightly to the right (above) the point. This way you won’t lose any points!

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady oncloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onNext, sew the top left and top right curved quadrants to the top grouping of geese, pinning just after each seam that needs to match.

Press seams toward the less bulky side (toward the curved quadrants).

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onWhen aligned properly, the geese corners should flow into the curved piece perfectly–that’s why we so carefully marked our curve starting distances with our improv curves!

cloud9 fabrics new block tutorial steady onFinally, sew the top and bottom panels to the center horizontal strip, again pinning just after each important seam match. Press toward the less bulky sides (the curved quadrants), and viola! Steady on…

steady-on-quilt-block-tutorial-1I am really excited about how this block turned out, and I’m eager to play around with different color placements and curve arrangements. I’d love to see if you sew up this block, too, so please tag me @nightquilter #steadyonquilt when you do!

Thank you for visiting and I hope you found this tutorial helpful! Check out all of the other new block tutorials shared today, all of which will be combined to make one big gorgeous charity quilt:

Host: Stephanie @Late Night Quilter

Kathy @Kathys Kwilts and More
Paige @Quilted Blooms
Mary @Strip Quilts Pass it On
Allison @Woodberry Way
Seven @The Concerned Craft
Olusola @Alice Samuel’s Quilt Co.
Ann @Brown Paws Quilting
Jodie @Persimmon + Pear
Vicki @Orchid Owl Quilts
Kitty @Night Quilter <———————You’re here!
Francine @Mocha Wild Child
Shelley @The Carpenter’s Daughter who Quilts
Jayne @Twiggy and Opal
Geraldine @Living Water Quilter
Shannon @Shannon Fraser Designs
Lisa @Sunlight In Winter Quilts
Jessica @Quilty Habit
Cassandra @The (not so) Dramatic Life
Deanna @Stitches Quilting
Denise @Craft Traditions

Also, be sure to visit each host’s blog to find out how to enter to win one of three fabric bundle giveaways. The giving doesn’t stop!

5 Steps to Sewing Perfect Curves

I am so excited to finally share this technique with you, since it makes sewing curves SO simple. I especially love that it can be used on both improv and exact curves, even circles. Mastering curves was on the top of my list this year in terms of quilting goals, and I’ve been working hard at it! While my traditional curve sewing still needs about 900 hours to hit the 10,000 hours that will result in mastery, I’ve found that this method results in perfect curves in five (that’s right–5!) easy steps.

5 steps to sewing perfect curves tutorial nightquilterI first saw this method being used by Hillary from Entropy Always Wins, Stephanie from Spontaneous Threads, and the other #beesewcial-ites, and was intrigued by the way they created such flat-laying, wildly curving improv pieces again and again and again. With some extra guidance from Stephanie, I was able to figure out the technique and have been using it on most of my sewn curves since. You can see where I’ve used it here, here, and here. This technique is derived from the six-minute circle method, but can be applied to any curve.  I love using the technique, and so I thought I would share it with you.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterSo let’s get started! First, gather your supplies. You will need:

  • your fabric pieces (I used three approx 5″ square pieces of fabric to help demonstrate the stacking of the layers, but you can use any scrap that fits the shape you’re trying to sew!)
  • fabric scissors
  • washable school glue – Elmer’s works great
  • fine glue tip (optional but helpful! I use the Fineline regular tip from Pile O’ Fabric)
  • zipper foot for your sewing machine (optional but makes sewing the curve much easier)
  • iron and pressing surface
  • pencil or other fabric marking tool for drawing your line
  • paper on which to draw your desired curves (only needed if you are sewing an exact curve–you can free draw or cut improv curves, too)

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterBefore you begin, decide generally how you want your curves to look. I like to sketch mine out on paper more for a visual than for an exact plan. Think of your fabrics in terms of layers: the bottom is the inside of the curve, moving upward and outward. Keep in mind that if you want to have a convex curve next to a concave curve, simply switch the way you view your “top” and “bottom” layers. The inside of the curve is always the bottom, and work from the bottom up.

Once you have an idea of generally (or exactly) how you want your curves to look, it’s time to get started. Five easy steps, I promise! Ready?!

Step 1:
Draw desired curve on the wrong side of top fabric piece.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterDraw your curve on the wrong side of your top (or in this case, middle) fabric with a pencil or other light fabric marking pen. If you want your curve to be exact, you can trace the line from your paper sketch by holding the fabric and paper up to a window or other light source. Be sure that the right sides of both the paper and fabric are facing away from you, since you want the line drawn on the wrong side of your fabric, but also want the curve to go in the proper direction.

Step 2:
Cut 1/4″ away from the inside edge of your drawn line.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterNext, cut between 1/4″ and 3/8″ away from the inside edge of your drawn line. This is your seam allowance.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterClip your curves to help make your curve smooth. Be sure to cut only halfway to the drawn line, not all the way to the drawn line.

Step 3:
Press seam allowance.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterNext, carefully press the seam allowance along your drawn line. Take your time here to make sure your curve is pressed smoothly and exactly along your drawn curve.

Step 4:
Glue baste to bottom layer.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterNow it’s time to glue baste this curve onto your bottom layer. Using a fine glue tip and washable school glue, create a small beaded line of glue along the seam allowance. Carefully lining up the outer corners of your squares, layer the middle fabric (with right side facing up and your cut, pressed, and glued seam allowance tucked under) on top of the bottom piece of fabric. This step is why I like to begin with three squares that are the same size. It makes positioning my curves as easy as pie!

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterPress with your fingers, making sure the seam allowance is in the right spot and fully folded under. Press with a hot iron to set the glue. Admire your perfect curve… but it’s not sewn yet! Just one more step.

Step 5:
Sew along drawn line.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterOnce the glue has been set and fabric cooled off, carefully lift up the top layer of fabric to expose the seam allowance. I use my zipper foot with my needle moved all the way to the left, since the narrow foot helps ease around tight turns. Carefully and slowly sew along your drawn line.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterAs you sew around the curves, carefully move the top fabric out of the way, being sure not to allow folds or puckers to form under the needle. Backstitch a bit at the beginning and end of your sewn line to secure the stitches.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterViola! Press again and you have a perfectly sewn curve!

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterTrim away the bottom fabric that extends beyond the seam allowance, and save for your next scrappy project.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterRepeat those five easy steps for your other layers: Draw, Cut, Press, Glue Baste, Sew.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterThere you have it. Smooth curves, either traced and perfect, or free cut and improv.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful! I know I can’t stop sewing crazy curves now that I know I can sew them like this. Next week I’ll be sharing a block tutorial for the Cloud9 New Block Hop, and *hint hint* part of it will use this method! Get your practice in now!

I’m linking up with Let’s Bee Social, and will link up with Tips & Tutorials Tuesday when Stephanie & Yvonne get it started again in a couple weeks!

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!

Geese Crossing Mini Quilt {Sizzix Tutorial} & Color Inspiration Thursday {72}

I recently had some fun playing with a new Sizzix die and a color/value gradient from dark purple to light pink. Today I’m sharing a tutorial over on the Sizzix blog so that you can make your own Geese Crossing mini quilt. Since the colors and the peonies from my garden are serendipitously paired, I created a color inspiration palette to share, too!

sizzix geese crossing tutorial value gradientThis mini quilt finishes at 24″ square, and its creation coincided with the fabulous bloom of peonies in our garden. It features a new die called Geese Crossing, designed by Victoria Findlay Wolfe and released at Quilt Market last month. It’s a very versatile die and allows for lots of design, color, and value play.

-How to get perfect points when sewing geese
Tips for getting perfect points!

In my tutorial, I share information that will be helpful for all quilting projects, including:
– Tips for creating a successful value gradient in a fabric pull;
– How to get perfect points when sewing geese or other triangles; and,
– Tips to prevent bunching when sewing on an angle.

You can read the full tutorial and see more photos of my project process on the Sizzix blog, here.

sizzix geese crossing tutorial value gradient peoniesThe colors of the peonies and the colors in the quilt meld so beautifully together! I really could not help but take a million photos of this quilt with the gorgeous color gradient of peonies from my garden, but since it’s Thursday, I figured a combination of Color Inspiration Thursday and a heads-up about my Sizzix tutorial would be perfectly acceptable.

sizzix geese crossing tutorial value gradient peoniesAhhh peonies! Such an inspiration!

peony geese crossing color paletteCorresponding solids from left to right:
Kona Dusty Blue, Bella Pewter, Bella Petal Pink, Kona Plum, Kona Cerise, Kona Eggplant

Corresponding Aurifil thread from left to right:
2560 – Iris
2564  – Pale Lilac
2425 – Bright Pink
2479 – Med Orchid
4030 – Plum
2582 – Dk Violet

This color palette was created using Play Crafts’ Palette Builder 2.1 as per usual, and the matching Aurifil threads and Kona & Moda Bella solids are particularly useful! I will certainly be getting a few of those threads for quilting! We actually had dark magenta peonies that would have matched the darkest purple fabric, but they are the early variety that met their end during a thunderstorm a few weeks ago. Still, our garden provided a lovely fade from the palest pink to a bright magenta with the peonies blooming now.

sizzix geese crossing tutorial peonies value playI love the natural ombres and vibrant colors found in nature and thoroughly enjoy combining natural inspiration with quilty projects. It is so fun to try to stitch the beauty around me into the quilts in my hands!

Where in nature do you find the most inspiration? Flowers? Colors in general? Textures? or simply through the endless variety of growth and new life that appears before our eyes daily?

Psst… stop and smell the flowers today!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday with this finished flimsy!

 

Oakshott Lipari Blog Hop: Vesuvius Quilt

Today I’m excited to be a part of the Oakshott Lipari blog hop, your final stop for those of you who have been following along. So many fabulous projects have been made with the fat eighths bundle of the new Lipari line, so I encourage you to also check out the others along the hop, linked at the bottom of this post. Many thanks to Lynne and Michael at Oakshott for including me in the hop!

This was my first time working with Oakshott fabrics, and they are so luxurious! They are a woven fabric and feel almost silky to the touch. They feel more substantial than other shot cottons I’ve used, and the Lipari line looks iridescent since the warp is black and the weft is a bright jewel tone. These fabrics come to life when you see them in person–photos truly don’t do them justice. The Lipari line was inspired by volcanoes and the description from Oakshott says it best: “Lipari perfectly captures the primordial beauty of the Aeolian islands. Its luminous colours mirror cobalt seas, lush greenery, pink bougainvillea and shimmering sun; a beauty shot through with dark, fine-grained volcanic rock and black sand.” As soon as I read this description, I knew my quilt had to be a reflection of this volcanic inspiration. Thus, my Vesuvius quilt was born.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt sizzix I made my Vesuvius quilt with 60 degree triangles, to elicit the sharp peaks of the mountainous volcanoes. I pulled in some Ruby Red – Toledo for the molten focal triangle, and let the Lipari steal the show. I used my Sizzix die cutting machine to speed up the cutting process. I really wanted to photograph this quilt next to a volcano, but I had to settle for some blueberry barrens and a Maine coast beach.

oakshott lipari blog tour vesuvius quilt sizzixI quilted Vesuvius with 50 wt Aurifil thread 1246-Grey, which blended wonderfully with the Lipari Pollara (grey) I used as a background color. I used the walking foot on my domestic Bernina 560 to quilt straight lines 1″ apart, switching up directions in various sections of the quilt to provide movement and added interest. I LOVE how it turned out!

oakshott lipari blog tour vesuvius quilt sizzixThe Lipari Porticello (dark green) backing shows the quilting wonderfully, although it’s tough to get the full effect through photos!

oakshott lipari blog tour vesuvius quilt sizzixoakshott lipari blog tour vesuvius quilt sizzixI was torn on what color to use as the binding, but decided that Lipari Gallina (purple) frames it nicely.

oakshott lipari blog tour vesuvius quilt sizzixThis quilt finishes at 36″x43″ so would make a wonderful wall hanging or sophisticated baby quilt. You could also add borders to make it larger.

Tutorial

Here’s how to make your very own Vesuvius quilt! (Note that Oakshott Lipari fabric is 54″ wide. Typical quilting cotton is approximately 42″ wide, so plan accordingly)

Materials

A fat eighths bundle of Oakshott Lipari
1/8 yard of Oakshott Ruby Red Toledo
3/4 yard additional Lipari Pollara (grey)-negative space
1 1/4 yards Lipari Porticello (dark green)-backing
1/3 yard Lipari Gallina (purple)-binding
42″ x 50″ piece of batting
Sizzix die cutting machine
Sizzix XL Triangle, Equilateral 4 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ unfinished die
–OR–
Rotary cutter, cutting mat with 60 degree lines, and ruler
Thread (I used Aurifil 50wt 1246-Grey for both piecing and quilting)
Sewing machine with a walking foot (I use a Bernina 560)
Rotary cutter
Hera marker
Pins
Small thread snip scissors

Cutting

Using your method of choice (see below for instructions for each method), cut the following number of triangles from each fabric:

88 grey (Lipari Pollaro)
9 red (Ruby Red Toledo)
From fat eighth Lipari bundle:
20 purples
27 greens/yellows
12 browns
19 blues
4 black-red
8 black

Using a Sizzix die cutting machine

I used my Sizzix Fabi and BigZ Triangle, Equilateral 4 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ unfinished die to speed up the cutting process.

sizzix fabi equilateral triangle oakshott vesuvius quilt tutorialWhen using your sizzix, cut 5″ x width of fat eighth strips of fabric of each color, fold them over the die blade in the Sizzix cutting sandwich (bottom cutting pad, die with the blade face up, fabric, top cutting pad), and cut 9 triangles at a time. Note that the Oakshott fat eighths are 10″ x 27″, which are larger than a typical quilting cotton 9″ x 21″ fat eighth.

sizzix fabi equilateral triangle oakshott vesuvius quilt tutorialAfter passing each strip of fabric through the Fabi die cutting machine, you can reposition the remaining fabric and cut triangles from the “scraps”.

If you don’t have a Sizzix, read on to find out how to cut 60 degree triangles with your rotary cutter, using the lines on your cutting mat.

Using a rotary cutter and the lines on your cutting mat

First, cut strips 4 3/4″ by width of fabric. *Note: You can leave the fabric strip folded in half or doubled up if you’re using the width of fat eighth strips, allowing you to cut two triangles at a time!

sizzix fabi equilateral triangle oakshott vesuvius quilt tutorialFind the 30 degree line on your cutting mat. Yes, we are making 60 degree triangles by cutting along the 30 degree line (You have a 90 degree square to begin, trim off 30 degrees, then you’re left with 60 degrees!)

equilateral triangle cutting with mat vesuvius quilt tutorialAlign the bottom of your fabric strip along the 1-inch line. I use the 1-inch line so that you can see where the 30 degree line extends above and below the fabric. Place the edge of your ruler along the 30 degree line.

equilateral triangle cutting with mat vesuvius quilt tutorialUsing your rotary cutter, cut your fabric on the ruler angle.

equilateral triangle cutting with mat vesuvius quilt tutorialFlip your fabric strip over, then align the bottom edge with the 1-inch line on your mat, so that the bottom point of your cut is on the 30 degree line.

equilateral triangle cutting with mat vesuvius quilt tutorialAgain, place the edge of your ruler along the 30 degree line. Using your rotary cutter, cut your fabric on the ruler angle. You now have your 60 degree triangle, or two (2) if you kept your fabric strip folded in half. Cut as many as you need.

Piecing the Quilt Top

oakshott lipari blog tour vesuvius quilt sizzixOnce your pieces are cut, lay them out as shown. A piece of batting wrapped around a large wall board works well, but I have been often known to use my design floor to help with layout, too! (Sizing Note: if you want a larger quilt, you could add a row of grey (Lipari Pollara) triangles to the right and left sides before sewing the rows together to maintain the outer triangle points when adding borders. Then, trim square and add rectangular borders to the desired size.)

Be sure to keep the grain of fabric running top to bottom (the woven texture of the Oakshott Lipari makes this easy to do since the grain is clearly visible when the fabric is held up to the light). Once your pieces are laid out as desired, it’s time to sew them together! Chain piecing helps the process go quickly and smoothly. Here’s how to set it up.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialLabel each horizontal row. I began with 1 on the top and ended with 11 on the bottom and used pins to label the first piece in each row (Note that I labeled each row after stacking, so the pins aren’t visible in these photos).

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialCarefully stack the triangles from each row, with the far left piece on top, and keeping the triangles facing the proper direction (this will help you keep them straight while piecing). For example, for row one, you will have the labeled first triangle piece from the far left on top, and carefully pick up each triangle across the row, adding it to the bottom of the stack.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialOnce you have your row stacked, use a clover clip or similar device to hold the stack together.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialGather all of your rows in this manner.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialLay them out in order, making a clear mental note of what row is located where. You could label a sticker on the table next to each stack to help, although simply keeping them in chronological order works well for me. Let’s sew! (Note that a table next to you works better than having the stacks this close to the sewing machine. As you add pieces, your strips will drag your stacks around if you keep them here as shown!)

To speed up the process, we will be chain piecing (sewing without stopping) the first piece to the second piece from every row.
Note: Be sure to keep the pin labeling each row in the first block at all times!!

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialOnce you have all of your first pieces sewn to your second pieces, trim the threads to separate, and press. All these bias edges means this is a great time to practice pressing, and NOT ironing. Press: up, down, up. Great!

Alternate which side you press your seam for each row. I pressed odd rows (1, 3, 5, etc.) to the left and even rows (2, 4, 6, etc.) to the right. Pressing open also works well!

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialNext, add the next triangle to each row, chain sewing again. You’ll be sewing the third triangle (which is now on top of each stack) to each row. Double check the number pin on the sewn row before adding the next triangle, since you want to be sure to keep your gorgeous layout intact.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialContinue chain piecing, trimming, pressing, and chain piecing again until all of your rows are assembled. As you add each triangle, stack those corners and everything will be right in line!

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialSew all of the rows together, pressing seams up toward the grey triangles. I like to pin about 1/8″ after each point where the triangle points will be matching up, and aim to sew *right* through the center of the seam-cross to make sure you don’t cut off any points when sewing the rows together.

Quilting & Finishing

Once your quilt top is pieced, baste as desired. I decided to quilt my quilt before squaring it up because of all of the bias edges. I used 505 basting spray and spray basted for the first time! I used Christa Watson’s design wall spray basting tutorial and can see why people love it.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialI decided to quilt my quilt with straight lines 1″ apart using the walking foot on my Bernina 560. I used a hera marker and a long quilting ruler to mark lines 1/2″ from some seams, and then 1″ apart from there. I sectioned the quilting in a few different sections, using straight lines 1″ apart but changing directions in each section. Lines intersect in the Ruby Red triangle, “exploding” out to the sides (like a volcanic eruption!?). The quilting lines don’t intersect anywhere else in the quilt. I really love the finished effect.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialAfter quilting, it’s time to square up the quilt. Using a long, straight edge, trim 1/4″ away from the outer points so that you don’t lose any points when you sew on the binding. Use at least two sets of points to make sure your ruler is straight before cutting.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialSquare up your quilt, trimming off the excess, then bind!

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialoakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialViola! Enjoy your Vesuvius Quilt, and please use #vesuviusquilt and tag me @nightquilter if you decide to make one.

Many thanks, again, to Oakshott for providing the fabrics for this project, and for including me in the hop. Make sure to check out the rest of the amazing Lipari projects:

5 May     Allison Dutton       allison-sews.blogspot.com
10 May   Nicholas Ball         quiltsfromtheattic.wordpress.com 
12 May   Helen Purvis          archiethewonderdog.blogspot.com
17 May   Lynn Harris            thelittleredhen.typepad.com
24 May   Jessica Skultety      www.quiltyhabit.com 
26 May   Karin Jordan           www.leighlaurelstudios.com
31 May   Elisabeth Vaughan  sharksdinner.com
2 June     Kitty Wilkin           nightquilter.com <— YOU ARE HERE

Thank you for following along the hop!

*BREAKING NEWS* Volcanic action alert
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the heart-wrenching fate of this quilt, that I so unknowingly aptly named “Vesuvius”: my nearly-four year old son cut into it in three places (along with a trail of destruction that included my Machinger quilting gloves cut into pieces and cuts into a big chunk of fusible fleece).  With the great outpouring of support, commiseration, and suggestions offered by the fantastic community on IG, I’ve decided to make the cuts an added design element, another chapter in the story of the quilt, and sew either black or red patches over the cuts, making them into “fault lines”.

quilt tragedy
One of three cuts, now called “fault lines”, made into the edge of this quilt by my nearly-four year old son.

For now, though, I will put the quilt aside until I can dive into the repair with chuckles and reminiscence instead of lingering tears and frustration. I know that my son did not cut into my quilt maliciously, but it still is a difficult experience. I have made it known that if he ever wants to cut fabric again, he can tell me and I will help him make a quilt. We’ll see where it goes. For now, my Vesuvius Quilt (aka Max’s Fault Lines) is smoking and being buried by ash for a bit. It will rise again some day in the future.

 

 

Farmer’s Wife Sew Along – Block 31 Eva Tutorial

Today is my day to share the Block 31 Eva tutorial for the 1930 Farmer’s Wife Sew Along, hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell.

Farmers Wife 31 Eva TutorialAs with Autumn, a first look at block 31 Eva may cause you to balk: 37 pieces in one 6″ block, and many of them are tiny squares!? But with a creative look at the block construction,  Eva can come together smoothly and without too many teeny pieces. This sew along continues to show me that there is nearly always a faster and easier way to approach block construction than purely cutting out all of the pieces and sewing them together. With a few shortcuts and piecing tricks, Eva comes together quite smoothly. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to use strip piecing to save a bit of time and create larger, more manageable pieces, and fill in the gaps using Marti Michell templates (Set A) or rotary cutting to help make putting Eva together smooth and enjoyable.

Note: Exact measurements for the pieces needed to construct this block will not be provided in this tutorial in order to protect copy write. It is a prerequisite of making this block that you have a copy of the book, The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them. All measurements can be found in this book and its associated media. That said, even if you aren’t sewing along with us, I think you will find some really helpful tips in this tutorial that will help you look at all block construction more creatively!

Reflection on the Letter – Two Little Sparrows

The letters in this book continue to move me in their honesty and relevance in my life today. It’s amazing how similar the worries of today are to those of the farmer’s wives back in the 1930s. Losing sleep over financial stability seems to me to be part of the human condition. Especially at our current stage of life, growing a young family, recently having bought our first home, and working hard as a one-income family of five so that I may be a full time mom raising our children, my husband and I unfortunately do not escape the worries of making ends meet. Mrs. P. G.’s dream of two sparrows drawing nearer together when faced with the winds of adversity really resonated with me, and gives me renewed hope that “every little thing, is going to be alright” (thanks, Bob Marley, and Mrs. P. G.).

Tutorial

For this block, I specifically chose fabrics with small or nondirectional prints, so that I could quickly strip piece the components without worrying about fussy cutting or directionality. Note that I am arranging my final layout on-point, but for the purposes of being consistent with the diagram in the book, this tutorial pieces the block squared. If you plan to set your blocks on-point, be sure to account for that with any directional fabric placement.

Farmers Wife 31 Eva TutorialWhen broken into more manageable pieces, this block is composed of the center 9-patch, two pairs of mirror image blocks, and 8 surrounding triangles, cut with templates and/or a rotary cutter. I first made the blocks using strip piecing to speed up the creation of the components, and then sewed them all together. Let’s break it down.

Making the Center 9-Patch

In the book, the cream and yellow fabrics were used to make the #31E 9-patch. Choose your coordinating fabrics (I used black and orange and will refer to the fabrics as black and orange throughout).

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialCut one (1) 1 3/16″ x 19″ long strip of your cream equivalent fabric (I used black). Subcut two (2) 4″ long pieces. Set the remainder of the strip aside.

Cut one (1) 1 3/16″ x 16 1/2″ long strip of your yellow equivalent fabric (I used orange). Subcut one (1) 4″ long piece and one (1) 1 3/16″ square. Set the remainder of the strip aside.


*Measurement tip: 3/16″ is halfway between 1/8″ and 1/4″. Since the 1 3/16″ measure was used so often in cutting for this block, I marked it with painter’s tape on my ruler to help avoid confusion. 


farmers wife 31 eva tutorialSew black strips to orange center as shown. I prefer to press my seams open for ease of matching seams and reduction of bulk. Feel free to press open or toward the darker fabric.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorial
Ruler marked with 1 3/16″ measure.

Cut into three (3) 1 3/16″ wide strips as shown.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialNext, carefully unsew one of the black squares. Sew the orange 1 3/16″ square to the other side to make the center strip for the 9-patch.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialThis is a great time to use a leaders and enders project to help smoothly sew these tiny pieces without the fabric getting bunched in the machine. If you don’t have a leaders and enders project in progress, sew through a scrap piece of fabric before sewing the tiny squares together. This will help your stitches stay smooth despite the tiny fabric size!

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialYou now will have your three strips for your 9-patch.

FW Eva front back 9 patchCarefully sew them together, pinning just after each seam join. Press seams open. Above shows my block, front and back. Note how nicely the pressed-open seams sit! Set your 9-patch aside.

Making the Mirror Image Blocks

In the book, the cream, yellow, and blue fabrics were used to make the remaining blocks, each comprised of a #31C and two #31D-#31E units. (I used black, orange, and yellow-orange fabrics and will refer to them as such throughout).

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialCut one (1) 1 7/8″ x 11″ piece from your blue-equivalent fabric (I used yellow-orange). Retrieve the fabric strips set aside during the 9-patch construction, and subcut one (1) 1 3/16″ x 11″ strip from the orange. From the black strip, subcut four (4) 1 3/16″x 2 5/16″ pieces. If you have the Marti Michell template set A, the A-3 template is exactly 2 5/16″ and can be used to easily cut the pieces.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialSew the orange to the light orange as shown. Press seams open. Subcut the strip set into eight (8) 1 3/16″ segments. Using a ruler marked with painter’s tape as shown previously in this tutorial will help this step go quickly.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorial**MIRROR IMAGE ALERT** At first glance the blocks above may look the same, but notice that they are actually mirror images. The two on top are mirror images of the two on the bottom. Carefully arrange your pieces as shown above, paying very close attention to the direction of the orange bits: orange bit facing down on the left and up on the right for the top two; orange bit facing up on the left and down on the right for the bottom two.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialVery carefully sew the blocks together, pausing midway to double check the alignment before sewing the second strip onto each center. Press seams open. Set these four blocks aside.

Cutting the Triangles

In the book, the cream fabric was used to make all of the triangles that comprise the background of this block. I used black fabric.

farmers wife 31 eva tutorialCut a 2″ x 18″ strip of black fabric. Using Marti Michell templates A-4 and A-6 or the templates provided in the media associated with the book, cut four (4) #31A and four (4) #31B pieces. The photo above demonstrates how to efficiently cut the pieces from the 2″ strip. One more #31A (the large triangle) and one more #31B (the smaller right triangle) remain to be cut in the photo above.

Assembling the Block

Farmers Wife 31 Eva TutorialNow you have all of the components necessary for piecing Eva! Grab all of your blocks and triangles and let’s lay them out. Here is where the mirror image blocks can get easily mixed up. Take your time, cross referencing with the picture in the book or the photo above to make sure that all of your pieces are heading in the proper direction.

Farmers Wife 31 Eva Alignment Diagram*Note: The orange squares all converge in a horizontal strip in the center of the block. If an oval is drawn horizontally across the center, it should contain all orange squares. 

Once you are sure you have your layout correct, I suggest that you take a photo with your phone for reference. Refer to it before each step, since it’s much easier to take a second look than to rip stitches to resew (ask me how I know! I began assembling the block before realizing that two of my orange bits were facing the wrong direction. Hello, bff seam ripper!)

Farmers Wife 31 Eva tutorial assemblyWe will assemble this block in diagonal strips. Begin by sewing the large #31A triangles to either sides of the top right and bottom left mirror image blocks, and the top left and bottom right mirror image blocks to the center 9-patch. Press seams open.

Farmers Wife 31 Eva tutorial assemblyNext, sew the #31B triangles onto each unit.

Farmers Wife 31 Eva tutorial assembly pinsFinally, sew the top right and bottom left units to the center strip. I find it helpful to pin just after each seam match for perfectly matched seams. Between the pressed-open seams and the pin *just* after each seam, my block comes together just how I like it!

Farmers Wife 31 Eva tutorialViola! There you have Eva, easy peasy! I love the look of this block set squared, but since my quilt blocks will be set on point, I decided to have her orange strip head uphill, since optimism makes the world a brighter place, and the letter encourages sticking together in the face of the winds of adversity. Chin up, here we go!

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.

 

Lucky Love St. Patrick’s Day Reversible Table Runner {Sizzix Tutorial}

Today I’m excited to be sharing another tutorial on the Sizzix blog, this time for a really sharp-looking table runner (if I do say so myself)! I’m typically not one to make seasonal decor, since the seasons come and go so quickly, but this one is reversible so I can use it all year long. Ever since I first cut wool felt with the Sizzix, I’ve been wanting to do a wool felt applique project, and once I realized I could make four-leaf clovers using my Primitive hearts die, it was game on. I backed the table runner in one of my all time favorite Alison Glass neutrals, Botany in Taupe from Ex Libris, which I certainly won’t mind looking at for the non-St. Patrick’s Day part of the year!

sizzix st patricks day reversible table runner tutorial Since I love to make the most of the tools I have, this project is also exciting since it’s the third unique project I’ve made using the Primitive hearts #3 die from Sizzix. You may remember my Growing Tree Wall hanging and Valentine’s Day Garland tutorials, the first two projects I made using this die. You know it’s a winner when there seems to be an endless stream of projects that can be made out of a certain tool.

TUTORIAL- St Patrick's Day Table Runner sizzixI try to make my tutorials helpful to the entire sewing and quilting world, even if you don’t yet have a Sizzix or other die cutting machine, and this one is no different.

sizzix st patricks day reversible table runner tutorial blanket stitch appliqueIn this tutorial, I share:

  • a neat trick for making four leaf clovers out a heart die (you could use it with a heart hole-punch, too, if you have that);
  • tips on accurate straight-line quilting without having to physically mark your quilt; and,
  • how to blanket stitch.

Head on over to the Sizzix blog to read the full tutorial, and I hope you enjoy!

Do you make seasonal projects? How and where do you store them when they are off season? I may need to take some notes if this keeps up!

I’m linking up with Tips & Tutorials Tuesday with Stephanie at Late Night Quilter.

Favorite Finishing Techniques and Tools

With so many fabulous tutorials out there in this vast internet world, I try to avoid reinventing the wheel whenever possible. So far, when it comes to finishing my quilts and other stitched projects, I’ve had great luck in finding clear, well-written tutorials that help clarify exactly how to best finish a project. Today I thought it might be helpful for me to create a reference list of my top go-to finishing tutorials and tools to share with you.

finishing tips and toolsHere is a visual map I drew to help keep track of my favorite methods during an #Honestcraftroomies Periscope hop about this topic a few weeks ago, along with my top favorite finishing tools. (If you click the photo it should open in another tab a bit larger so that it’s easier to read. All of the information is in the blog post, too, though!)

I’ll begin by linking to each of my favorite finishing tutorials below with a brief explanation as to why it is a favorite (Each heading and photo link to the tutorial. Click and it will open in another tab. Peruse at leisure. Bookmark. Revel in sweet knowledge!)

Making Straight-Grain Quilt Bindings
by Bijou LovelyBijou Lovely making-quilt-binding

Holly DeGroot at Bijou Lovely was one of the first quilters I started following regularly, and for good reason. Her photos are superb and eye candy abounds! This tutorial is super straight-forward and has clear photos for every step. It also shows you how to get the end of your binding ready for the next step: attaching it to the quilt, which is very helpful. When binding any large, rectangular quilt, either entirely by machine or hand-stitched to the back, this is how I make my binding.

Attaching Binding to a Quilt
by Bijou Lovely 

Bijou Lovely binding attachingThis gets you set up for hand stitching your binding to the back of your quilt. The brilliance is in the overlap join where the beginning and end of your binding meet. For someone who initially struggled with getting that final binding seam sewn straight and in the proper place (hi, that’s me!), this tutorial was a lifesaver!

Machine Binding a Quilt
by Cluck Cluck Sew

Cluck Cluck Sew Machine-Binding-TutorialWhile I love hand stitching bindings to the backs of quilts, some quilts just warrant machine binding, either for durability or for the sake of saving yourself a bit of time.  This tutorial is fabulous! I now machine bind all baby quilts and kid quilts, and I use this tutorial to help machine bind things like mug rugs and table runners, too!

Binding Tiny Things
by Crazy Mom Quilts

crazy mom quilts binding tiny things mini tree and binding stripThis tutorial makes binding tiny things a breeze. Seriously! One tip I have to emphasize is the step where you press the binding away from the front of the quilt after sewing it on. This step makes all the difference in the accuracy of your final stitches and the overall perfection of your finished (finished! yay!) mini. If you are at all infected by the mini mini quilt bug, this tutorial is a must!

My Top 3 Finishing Tools

Finishing a quilt includes more than binding. To me, quilting and burying threads count within the ranks of “finishing steps”, too. I have three top tools that I couldn’t live without when it comes to actually quilting a quilt and burying all those threads. (Each tool name is linked to where you can buy it, but they are not affiliate links; they are just there for your convenience. I’ve heard rumors that Maine does not allow affiliate link payout, and I’m thinking they may be true. You probably will see a lot less affiliate links, but I will always link to products because I think it’s helpful to you!!)

Hera Marker

hera marker in useWhen I first heard of a Hera marker, I envisioned a special pen. The name is misleading a bit until you realize that it “marks” the quilt with creases, NOT with actual physical marks like a pen, pencil, or chalk would. (The white thing in the photo above is the Hera marker for those of you who have not yet heard of them). Hera markers are my go-to quilt marking tool, and I use one for marking straight lines for small quilting projects, marking increments before free motion quilting, marking seam lines when joining binding or sewing HSTs, and just about any other time I need to mark the fabric somehow.

Painter’s tape

painters tape marking quilt linesPainter’s tape is another fantastic tool for those of us who shudder at the thought of actually writing on a quilt top. I use painter’s tape to help keep straight line quilting evenly spaced and as a visual guide when sectioning off areas of free motion quilting. It is easily repositionable, and paired with a ruler, can be placed exactly straight. You NEED some of this in your quilting arsenal. (I also use it to tape up quilt blocks for photos!)

Self-threading needles

self threading needlesThese needles sound magical, and trust me–they are! When you have a gabillion threads to bury after epically quilting your quilt baby, the self-threading (also called easy-threading) needles are your bff (that stands for ‘best friend forever’, for those of you who aren’t savvy to teenage acronyms). The drawing I did of the self-threading needles shows how they work best (in my humble opinion) so I’ve included that above. Basically, they have an open top so that you can just pop your thread end right down into the eye of the needle, easily burying threads like a champ, again, and again, and again, and again…

I hope this collection of resources is helpful to you. There’s nothing like finishing a quilt, and these tutorials have helped those final steps be as smooth as possible for me. You know me; I love to share the love!

I’m sure there are more great tips and techniques that haven’t yet crossed my quilting path, and I’d love to learn about them. What are some of your favorite finishing techniques or tutorials that I haven’t included here? Thank you in advance for sharing!

I’m linking up with Tips & Tutorials Tuesday and Quilting Mod’s Lessons Learned Linky #3.