Tag Archives: english paper piecing

Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses EPP {Sizzix Tutorial}

Today I’m excited to be blogging over on the Sizzix blog, sharing a tutorial on how to piece the iconic Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses (PoTC) block. Lucy Boston blocks allow for endless meticulous cutting fun, the most kickassiduously planned pattern meet-ups, and of course lots of color play. (Translation: You can fussy cut your heart out and the blocks will look even more amazing the more meticulous you get).  Since Lucy Boston blocks are English Paper Pieced (EPP), they are also great on-the-go projects. If you’re looking for a new EPP project but are getting a bit tired of hexies, I definitely would recommend Lucy Boston.

lucy boston patchwork of the crosses epp tutorial sizzixAs you can see, I really stretched out of my color combination comfort zone with this project. With the Tula Pink Moonshine print as my focal fabric, I went wild with the blue, mustardy-yellow, and a pop of red palette. With my favorite Essex yarn dyed linen in charcoal as the background fabric, I’m really liking the way this is headed!

lucy boston patchwork of the crosses epp tutorial sizzixIn my tutorial over on the Sizzix blog, I show how to:

  • make a fussy cutting planning template with the Sizzix Honeycombs and Squares die (so you don’t need to buy the acrylic template, too)
  • Find pattern repeats in fabric
  • Fussy cut using a Sizzix die cutting machine
  • Assemble the Lucy Boston PoTC block
  • I share tips on matching pattern meet-ups after fussy cutting, and more!

lucy boston patchwork of the crosses epp tutorial sizzixMany of these tips would be helpful to anyone wanting to create a Lucy Boston block, with or without a die cutting machine.

sizzix lucy boston tutorialSo head on over to the Sizzix blog and have a look at what I’ve been working on over the past few months!

I’m planning to turn my Lucy Boston blocks into a vertical wall hanging with three blocks and red accent squares. Stay tuned…

For other color combination inspiration, you can see another Lucy Boston PoTC project I did here, or peruse the Instagram feed of Rhea at Alewives Fabrics (one of my fav Maine quilt shops)–she’s a Lucy Boston fanatic!

I’m linking up with Design Wall Monday and tomorrow I’ll link to Stephanie’s Tips and Tutorials Tuesday. Check ’em out!

Also, just a reminder that today is the last day to enter the giveaway sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop! Comment on THIS post to enter!

EPP Rose Star Mega Mug Rug: Finishing {Sizzix Tutorial}

Do you remember my post about getting started on this bright bunny English Paper pieced (EPP) mug rug, my Sizzix Design Team debut? I’m sure you have your stack of basted pieces all ready to go, sitting at the edge of your seat patiently awaiting my finishing directions, right? Great! Either way, I’m excited to finally share the finishing directions today on the Sizzix blog.

basting epp mug rugThis is a great project for those of you who want to do more hand stitching in the uber portable form of EPP, but who are not quite ready to hand baste and piece an entire quilt.

binding epp mug rugIn this tutorial, I take you through:

  • stitching the basted pieces together;
  • savvily removing the template papers;
  • attaching the completed EPP to the background fabric;
  • removing excess fabric to help reduce bulk; and,
  • using the backing to bind the mug rug.

These are all great techniques for any EPP project.

One little forewarning: making a bright and bold mug rug like this one may draw extra attention to the plate of treats you rest on it. This most likely will result in extra sneaky small hands swiping your snacks.

sizzix rose star mug rugNow you see it.

sizzix rose star mug rugNow you don’t!

Hop on over and check out the full tutorial on the Sizzix blog! Here’s a quick link to Part 1: Getting Started and Part 2: Finishing. Enjoy!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.

Surprise Success and Stitching on the Road

I began writing this post this past Sunday, but then caught the cold/fever/cough my kids have been kicking.  So instead of finishing this post, sewing, or blogging, I’ve been sleeping. Lots and lots of sleeping. And of course, making the most of the days with as much energy as I can muster. So pretend it is four days ago, and read on! The best laid plans, right?

Over the past two days, I’ve been driving from Maine to New Jersey with my three kiddos to surprise my mom (Grandma) for her birthday. I’m happy to report that the surprise was a complete success! My sister and brother who live in the area were planning on going to my parents’ house to cook dinner for her birthday, so the kids and I arrived at my sister’s house earlier in the day, then we all met up at the far end of the street before dinner, where I parked. My sister and brother walked in and Lucy said, “I invited a few more people over for your birthday; I hope that’s ok” and then Maddie and Max followed by Finn and I walked in. My mom says it was the best birthday surprise ever. Yay!

grandma's birthday surprise
Who doesn’t love little helpers when it comes to blowing out birthday candles?

Since we will be visiting here for five days before beginning the trek back up to Maine, I packed a good number of hand sewing projects so that my hands (and sewing mind) can be kept busy during the week. I contemplated bringing my sewing machine, but since the entire point of this trip is to spend family time together, I didn’t want to feel at all tempted to duck off to sew in a separate room while here. Hand stitching projects are a solution since they can be pulled out anytime, anywhere, and still ensure that I won’t be left with any thumb twiddling with all of the extra eager playmates for my kids.

I thought it would be fun give you a peek at the variety of projects I brought to satiate my need to create daily.

English Paper Piecing (EPP) at various stages of completion
EPP on the go
Basting. I still haven’t decided whether I like glue basting or thread basting best, so I’m doing both.
EPP on the go
Glue basted and ready to be stitched down.
Needle-turn applique
needle turn applique project ready to go
A new needle-turn applique project ready to go.
Embroidery & Hand Quilting
embroidery
Embroidery on a mini mini quilt
aurifil 12 wt thread for embroidery
I brought a collection of Aurifil 12wt thread for embroidery and a range of 12wt, 40wt, and 50wt for eventual hand-quilting.
Visible mending supplies.. just in case
visible mending supplies
Old cut-up jeans and perle cotton just in case my mom actually wants me to patch her jeans for her.

I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced’s WiP Wednesday, since it’s already Wednesday and these are still very much works in progress. C’est la vie! Good night!

A Quick Gift: EPP Rose Star Coasters {Sizzix Tutorial}

Today I’m sharing a tutorial for some quick and easy English Paper Pieced (EPP) coasters, made particularly quick and easy by use of a Sizzix fabi die cutting machine to cut all of the fabric and templates, glue basting the EPP pieces, and backing the coasters with felt (photos and instructions for all steps are included in this tutorial!). They are also a great way to showcase your hand-stitched EPP and meticulous (fussy) cutting if you so desire.

epp sizzix rose star hexi coastersWhile I was planning out and putting together the mug rug I’m making for my sister using the Sizzix Rose Star die (you can see my tutorial for getting started on the mug rug on the Sizzix blog HERE), I realized that the center of the Rose Star would make a perfect hexi coaster. Of course that idea stuck and I decided to play around with fabric arrangements and make a set of coordinating coasters to go along with my sister’s mug rug. Thus, this tutorial was born.

I’ve included affiliate links throughout this post so that if you decide that you want to give the Sizzix and Rose Star die a go and click through my link, I will receive a small compensation at no cost to you. Share the love, right?

Without further ado, here we go!

EPP Rose Star Coasters Tutorial

For this tutorial, I used the Sizzix fabi die cutting machine and the BigZ L Rose Star die, but many of the techniques can be applied to any EPP project.

sizzix fabi die cutting machineFirst, gather your fabric and get your die cutting machine ready. As I shared in my Sizzix mug rug tutorial, I like to pass a piece of regular printer paper through the machine, and label the pieces to help with planning. The Rose Star die is designed for EPP, so the single die can cut all of the templates and fabric needed (pretty awesome, huh?).

For this project, we will be using the A and B pieces. Begin by cutting the templates needed: 1 A and 6 B for each coaster. Since I made four (4) coasters, I cut 4 As and 24 Bs. I use cardstock for my templates, and hole punch the centers to facilitate easy removal after the stitching is complete. Use what works for you.

cuttingThe paper practice pieces can help you save time in cutting, too. For fabric shapes needed in duplicate, use the fabric piece to determine how wide of a fabric strip you will need, then use your rotary cutter and mat to cut a strip. As you can see, I gave myself some wiggle room, but if you’re a die cutting pro, you can really save fabric by lining up the shape flush with the edges of the cut strip.

fabi die cutting machineOnce you have your fabric strip, fold it accordion style and position it in your Sizzix sandwich: bottom cutting pad, die with the blades facing up, fabric over the fabric blades, and top cutting pad (not shown in this photo). Pass it right through the die cutting machine (or have your three year old crank it through for you), and you’ll have all of the pieces needed for a coaster. You can cut all the fabric needed for a coaster in one pass.

Now it’s time to baste our pieces.

glue basting epp with sewline fabric penFor this project, I decided to finally try glue basting instead of thread basting. I got a Sue Daley fabric glue pen, but any washable glue stick or pen will also work (Elmer’s, Sewline, etc.). I’ve heard so much about how glue basting saves a ton of time with EPP, so I figured if I paired it with the time saving cutting from the Sizzix fabi, I’d be golden with a fun, fast, fabulous gift idea. (Pst… I was right!)

sue daley glue basting eppGlue basting is similar to thread basting in that you are securing the fabric around the cardstock template. With glue basting, first put a dab of glue on the center of your template and stick it to the center of the wrong side of your fabric.

sew daley glue basting eppNow is the time to double check any fussy cutting you did to make sure it all lines up how you want it.

sew daley glue basting eppNext, apply a thin line of glue along one edge of your template. Be careful to keep the glue from getting all the way to the edge of the cardstock, since it will make it much more difficult to remove the templates once you are finished (ask me how I know).

sew daley glue basting eppHere’s one way glue basting differs from thread basting. Instead of working your way around the template, apply glue to opposite sides of the shape to help even out the pull of the fabric.

glue basting stepsBefore you know it, you’ll have your first piece.

glue basting stepsContinue glue basting all of the pieces needed for your coaster. With irregular shapes, start by gluing the longest side to help make the process smoother.

epp fussy cutting bunny rabbitHave fun with your meticulous cutting. This is a great project for using those adorable little bits of fabric you’ve been saving.

epp coasters tutorialOnce all of your pieces are basted, it’s time to start stitching them together! I made a set of four (4) coasters, but you can make as few or as many as you want.assembling epp coastersAll you need for this step is your basted pieces, sharp scissors, a sewing needle, and some thread in a coordinating color (I love using 50wt Aurifil thread). Sometimes, when the two pieces you’re sewing together are very different colors, there is no color that coordinates with both (like in my case). You can choose one of the colors to match, or just use a neutral color thread. I didn’t have black thread (Aurifil #2692, how have you evaded me!?), so I went with a contrasting light grey (Dove #2600) since I had already decided to quilt these with the contrasting colored thread. Once you have your supplies, this is a great project to take on the go, to stitch here and there.

assembling epp coastersTo get started sewing the pieces together, arrange your basted pieces the way you want the finished coaster to look. Flip the first piece over one edge of the center hexagon, right sides together.

assembling epp coastersWith a knotted thread, beginning at one corner, carefully stitch the two pieces together. The needle should only pass through the edges of the fabric, not the cardstock template, and only needs to catch a few threads of each fabric to hold. Many people use whip stitch to hold the pieces together (shown above). Sew the edge completely, then pick up the next basted piece, hold it right sides facing the next edge of the center hexagon, and continue sewing along that joining edge. There’s no need to knot your thread after each side; continue stitching the pieces together until you either run out of thread or you get to a point where no other piece can be directly joined.

ladder stitch to join eppladder stitch to join eppI recently saw the idea of using ladder stitch to join EPP pieces, so had to try it. I LOVED it! With ladder stitch, instead of entering the edge of the fabric from the same side every time as with whip stitch, you pass the needle from the side you’re on to the opposite side with each stitch. It may take a bit more time because of the back and forth of the needle, but I prefer it since it results in a nearly invisible join and I’m a slow and steady stitcher to begin with. Use whichever stitch works best for you and sew all seams. Don’t be afraid to fold your center template in order to get the outer seams lined up and sewn together.

Once your coaster EPP tops are all stitched together, it’s time to assemble the coasters.

tracing and cutting EPP coaster backingFirst, trace your EPP top onto a piece of 100% wool felt. I bought mine at my local quilt shop, Fiddlehead Artisan Supply, where there’s a huge wall of gorgeous wool felt from which to choose. Trace one hexagon backing for each of the coaster tops. I used a Sakura Micron pen since we are going to cut just inside the line and therefore it won’t be visible. Plus, Micron pens are the best.

EPP coaster assemblyCarefully cut *just* inside the line you traced.

EPP coaster assemblyThis next step is optional, but if you plan to use the coasters for hot beverages I would recommend it. Gather some batting scraps. This is a great way to use those batting trimmings you’ve cut off the edge of finished quilts. Again, trace your hexagon coaster top and cut out along the line.

EPP coaster assemblyTrim 1/4″ off each edge of the batting hexagon. This way, the batting won’t stick out from the edges of the assembled coaster. I used my rotary cutter and ruler, but be sure to count how many edges you trim since it’s easy to lose track. You should have six (6) trimmings after trimming each hexagon. Set your felt and batting hexagons aside.

EPP coaster assemblyNow, back to your coaster tops. It’s time to take out those template papers! You will need your EPP coaster tops, a toothpick, a chop stick (or crochet hook), and an iron. Trust me, and no, we’re not making dinner!

use toothpick to release glue bastingGently slide the toothpick under the glued edges of the fabric, separating the fabric from the cardstock template. Be particularly careful around the outer edges to separate the fabric from the cardstock without pulling it out of shape too much.

chopstick removal of epp templatesOnce the fabric edges are separated from the cardstock template, grab your chopstick and stick the end of it in the hole punched hole of the template.

chopstick removal of epp templatesGently pull the edge of the chopstick up and the cardstock template will pop right out. This chopstick removal method works much more smoothly with thread-basted EPP pieces, but as long as all of the glue spots have been unstuck, it should still smoothly remove the template. You can save the template and use it again!

EPP coaster tutorialOnce all of your templates have been removed, give your coaster top a good press with a hot, dry iron, ensuring that all of the outer corners are still folded in the way they should be.

EPP coaster tutorialWhile you’re pressing your coaster top, fold in the edges of your outer seams like you’re making a paper airplane and press well. This will keep them away from the edges when you sew your layers together, keeping the edges of your coaster neat and clean and free from peeking-out seams.

EPP coaster tutorialIt should leave a nice neat edge.

epp coaster assembly tutorialNow it’s time to assemble our coasters! You can probably just pin the layers together: felt on the bottom, then batting, then EPP coaster top, but I like to glue baste and use Clover Clips* to hold the layers together before sewing since it results in a nearly perfect alignment.

glue basting epp coaster tutorialUsing Elmer’s washable glue, make a tiny path of glue around the outside edge of the entire coaster. I use Fine Line Glue applicator tips provided by Pile O’ Fabric and they are fantastic. They are superfine applicators that screw onto a regular bottle of school glue, but they control the flow so that you don’t end up with gloppy globs of glue all over your project.

glue basting epp coaster tutorialAssemble your layers: wool felt on the bottom, then batting centered within that, then EPP coaster top carefully positioned on top. Give it a gentle press with a warm iron (note that wool is now involved) to set the glue. Clover clip the edges for extra stability and head over to your sewing machine!

glue basting epp coaster tutorialTop stitch about 1/8th inch from the edge of the entire periphery of the coaster.

glue basting epp coaster tutorialYou can also add additional quilting if desired and for added durability. I added a top stitched hexagon about 1/8th inch from the edge of the inner hexagon mirroring the outer edge stitches.

EPP coasters in useCarefully trim any wool felt that extends beyond the coaster top, and admire your EPP Rose Star coasters. Weren’t those quick and easy gifts? (You can give yourself gifts, too, you know!)

Sizzix Tutorial- EPP Rose Star CoastersBetween cutting the fabric and templates with the Sizzix die cutting machine, glue basting the EPP shapes, and backing the coasters with felt, these whip up as quickly as you can stitch the top together. It’s a great introductory project to EPP since it’s a quick finish, yet is still a handmade, hand stitched gift. I’m definitely planning on making more of these, and playing around with my fussy cutting, too.

*Disclaimer: Clover Clips are a favorite treasure for most toddlers. Use with discretion and awareness that there may be a pudgy hand lurking around any corner waiting to snatch your Clover Clips away.

clover clip toddler treasure

I’m linking up with Late Night Quilter’s Tips and Tutorials Tuesday. Enjoy your coaster-making foray! (You know you want to make some!)

EPP Rose Star Mug Rug: Getting Started {Sizzix Tutorial}

I’m excited to share that today is my Sizzix Design Team debut! Over on the Sizzix blog, I share a tutorial on how to get started on making an awesome English Paper Pieced (EPP) mug rug using the Rose Star die.

sizzix EPP mug rug start tutorialDid you know that there are Sizzix dies created specifically for paper piecing!? I cut all of the templates and fabric needed to piece this EPP star all from a single die! Pretty awesome.

english paper piecing tutorialIn the tutorial, I take you step by step through the process of making and basting EPP pieces, including some helpful tips, so if you’ve been wanting to learn or brush up on your piecing, go check it out!

September Goal {ALYoF}

I completely missed August for A Lovely Year of Finishes (ALYoF), so I’ll just call it summer break. The ALYoF link up is one of the most successful ones at getting me to finally finish projects, though, so I want to be sure to sneak in September’s goal setting post before it’s too late (in other words, before midnight tonight). I’m choosing a quick and easy goal for this month, since there are a lot of behind-the-scenes projects going on, too.

summer epp table runnerMy goal is to finish my Summer EPP Table Runner. I have a small bit of hand quilting remaining, and then I need to bind it. Easy peasey.

EPP table runner viewWe spent a lovely relaxing family day at the beach today, so I decided to have an impromptu photo shoot. I always carry a couple of hand-sewing projects with me, either a small hand quilting project like this one, some English Paper Piecing, or both! The strong cool breeze of the ocean made the 90 degree day feel absolutely perfect, but it made it a bit tricky to photograph this light weight runner. I took a few photos in full sun, which is typically a photography no-no, but with the gorgeous view and glittering water, how could I resist?

Then I decided that the trek over to the shady half of the beach was worth it. This is just a tiny little lesson in quilt photography. Photographs in full sun result in washed out colors and highly emphasized wrinkles due to resulting shadows (above). Shady photos, however, provide much richer, truer, and almost more gentle colors and a more forgiving look at the quilt despite the lack of an iron’s smoothing touch (below).

summer epp table runner on the beach

summer epp table runner be sweet backingI decided to back this table runner in Bee Sweet in the Morning colorway from Bonnie Christine’s Sweet as Honey fabric line. The bees in the table runner top are from the Bee Sweet in the Sunset colorway, so it coordinates fabulously.

summer epp table runner hand quiltingI have only a bit more hand quilting to do, and then I MIGHT do a little bit of machine quilting to make sure all stays nice and securely despite the many inescapable washes that surely await anything that will live on our table.

aurifil 12 wt threadI’m using 12 wt Aurifil thread #4140 Wedgewood, which is a perfect match. I love the subtle effect of the large quilting stitches in a coordinating color, and I’m very much looking forward to having this table runner finished and on our table. It can be a lingering reminder of our fun and beautiful summer. And it WILL be finished by the end of September!

I’m linking up with the September Goal Setting Party for ALYoF at Fiber of All Sorts and Sew Bittersweet Designs, then going to bed (with a couple hours to spare).

Stash Building: Fussy Cutting Fabrics & Summer Nights Winner

Today I’m not only sharing some additions to my stash, I’m also announcing the winner of the Summer Nights bundle giveaway sponsored by Fiddlehead Artisan Supply. Let’s celebrate the winner first!

summer nights fabric bundle fiddlehead
Summer Nights bundle at Fiddlehead Artisan Supply.

Once again, your comments were my absolute favorite part about the giveaway. To enter the giveaway, I asked you to share what you think of when you hear “summer nights”. Many of you immediately thought of the song from Grease, which honestly had not even entered my mind. Here is just a tiny sampling of some of the other gorgeous images you shared. Honestly, you’re poets!:

  • starry skies and campfires, s’mores and songs – Jenn
  • a glass of wine in the garden in the evening looking at the moon, with my husband sitting beside me – Helen
  • A cold drink and good conversation on the patio with friends. Staying up late, talking late into the night. – Amanda
  • Star gazing and fireflies – Monique B.
  • I remember back when we used to arrive at the beach after dark and you could hear and smell the ocean, but not see the waves washing up on the shore. It held the promise of warm days on the sand and wading in the water to cool off. Happy times. – Amelia V,
  • Summer nights… trees, black silhouettes against deepening dark blues of the sky… Soft breezes bringing a cool freshening, chasing the day’s heat… A cacophony of frogs, joined by the insistent chirping of crickets… Mystical, magical periodic blinking of fireflies (“lightening bugs”)… The scent of summer blossoms and growing, ripening gardens all around, lulling and delighting with every breath taken… “Day’s end, and all is right”, now, in this moment of time… – Pat T.

and finally, my favorite, which really should be published somewhere awesome:

Summer nights of my long ago childhood includes the wonderful memories of visiting my cousins in rural South Eastern Oklahoma. We would be playing as dusk started settling in. Dinner would have been enjoyed by the crowd of extended family. Always enough, always super tasty, never fancy. Then the adults would settle into their metal lawn chairs as we children raced around the yard. I can remember the low buzzing of their conversation as we played. They were talking about times before us and so we went about creating our own memories, not really sharing theirs. The light would fade and fade until it was almost completely dark around us, the porch light left on, but it’s beam barely reaching into the darkness. Beyond its beam, hidden in the dusk the adults would still carry on with their reminiscing, the murmuring and occasional sound of laughter a constant backdrop to our continued play. And this is when the magic happened. The magic of fireflies. First just a few, then finally a full chorus of them in the dark. Somehow jars would magically appear in our hands. The game was on! Cousins and I dashed as we tried to catch the elusive insects, nothing like the brash ugly insects bashing themselves around the back light porch! These were silent and graceful, taking all your skill to try to catch one as its light flickered on and off and on and off, teasing us to catch it.
So, that’s what I think of when summer nights are mentioned. I hope there are children still out there chasing fireflies and letting them go, barely hearing the history of their people as it’s murmured from lawn chairs that still sit under the clump of trees. It has been years and years since I have seen a firefly. Are they still out there? – magistra13

You probably want to know who won, though, right? Mr. Random chose number 74, which was Linda.

Summer nights winner

Congratulations, Linda! Your bundle will be mailed out tomorrow. Enjoy stitching with watermelon juice running down your chin! For those of you who didn’t win this one, you can buy this bundle from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply’s online shop (or in person) until they sell out!

It’s a big stash building day, since not only am I bolstering Linda’s stash, but I am also sharing a few new fabric bits that I bought at Maine Quilts for my own English Paper Piecing (EPP) stash. I love tone on tones, but meticulous cutting (also known as fussy cutting) is best with busier prints with lots going on.

stash building fussy cutting bundleHere is my full haul, from windswept kids to flowers (what!? I bought floral prints!?) to awesome sloths.

Meticulous cutting fussy cutting fabric pullThese first three fabrics were purchased from Alewives Fabrics, and are intended to work together in a currently unplanned future EPP project. From top to bottom, I bought:

  • 1/2 yard of Zephyr by Rashida Coleman Hale for Cotton & Steel
  • 1/4 yard of Picnic by Melody Miller for Cotton & Steel
  • 1 yard of Moon Shine by Tula Pink for Free Spirit Fabrics

I typically don’t buy (or like, for that matter) floral prints, but that Moon Shine just drew me in and made me say uncle. I think the bold black background with the bright red, lime green, and turquoise combo just begs to be cut up and sewn back together in a fun geometric EPP way. I decided to add in a bit of the red Picnic and a generous splash of the limey green Zephyr, and there we have a solid beginning to a new project.

Flora Bazzar in Orchid by Joel Dewberry for FreeSpirit FabricsI also bought 1/2 yard of this Floral Bazzar in Orchid by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit Fabrics. Again, it’s far more floral than I typically buy, but the diverse and detailed print just begs to be meticulously cut and pieced back together. I loved the color combination of the bright navy blue, coral, magenta, and grey and so bought this as a feature fabric for yet another not-yet-planned future EPP project. Just look at all of the variation in this one print!

Flora Bazzar in Orchid by Joel Dewberry for FreeSpirit Fabrics

Flora Bazzar in Orchid by Joel Dewberry for FreeSpirit FabricsSame fabric, different perspective, and an entirely new look, which means this will be FUN to chop!

Sloths from Honeymoon by Sarah Watts for Cotton & SteelFinally, these sloths!! Seriously, how could I NOT buy some of this fabric?! This is the epic sloth fabric, Sketches & Memories from Costa Rica from Honeymoon by Sarah Watts for Cotton & Steel. I bought 1/2 yard of this fabric from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply‘s booth at Maine Quilts. I don’t know what I’m going to make with it yet, but I just couldn’t resist. I surely will need to buy more, and might make a sloth bag just so that I can tote these guys around everywhere.

Did you know that I have a degree in Environmental science and saw sloths in Costa Rica while there for a Tropical Biology class? It wasn’t my honeymoon–maybe we should have gone to Costa Rica–but it sure is a memory, and I’m pretty sure I have a sketch (or at least a photograph) somewhere!

Does fabric ever talk to you, grab your wrist, and refuse to let you go without buying some? And then snuggle you the whole way home? Okay, good. I’m not weird.

I’m linking up with Molli Sparkles’ Sunday Stash, where he shows us the finer points of the not-so-floral Liberty prints.

A New Endeavor: Creativity Inspired by Sizzix

A few weeks ago, I received an email inviting me to join the Sizzix Design Team as their English Paper Piecing (EPP) blogger. I was excited at the offer since I love EPP, but I had never used a Sizzix die cutting machine before (affiliate link), though I’ve heard many good things about them. For those of you who don’t know, the Sizzix is a die cutting machine that has the ability to cut fabric (or paper and other materials) quickly, easily, and accurately with the use of stainless steel dies (basically like cookie cutters in a foam protective layer) rolled through a pressing machine. Sizzix sent me a Sizzix Fabi Starter Kit (affiliate link) and a few dies to try out, and I figured if it was as helpful, safe, and time saving as I’d heard, I would happily sign on as a Design Team member.

Sizzix Fabi die cutting machine

It didn’t take me long to be convinced at how big of a time saving tool the Sizzix machine was. It cuts eight (8!) perfectly even pieces of fabric at a time, including “fussy cut” shapes–of course I had to try to meticulously cut with the Fabi before agreeing to join as an EPP-focused Design Team member! While the meticulous cutting takes a bit more preparation to get lined up, it surely is faster than hand tracing and scissor-cutting, not to mention perfectly accurate in size and shape.

The biggest selling point for me was the safety of using the Fabi die cutting machine (affiliate link). As a mom of little ones, I can do all of the necessary cutting for a quilt with my kids around, even my very busy three year old son. In fact, my kids can even (eagerly) help turn the crank to cut the dies (with my direct supervision of course). There’s no way I would rotary cut fabric around my son and even scissors disappear off the table if my hawk watch falters, but the Fabi is definitely doable. Not only will I get more accomplished, but perhaps this will inspire my kiddos to try more fabric crafts as well.

fabric pull
A fabric pull for some Sizzix EPP playtime.

So, it’s official: I’m a member of the 2015 Sizzix Design team! I’m excited to be joining the team, and will be sharing posts and projects soon. (Who doesn’t love an excuse to start new projects!?) In the meantime, I’m playing around with my Fabi, starting a few projects, learning the ropes of die cutting, and experimenting with ways to use the Sizzix with EPP. I can’t wait to show you what I’m making! Here’s a tiny little peek to hold you over:

english paper piecing with sizzix

2015 sizzix design team member

Do you use a Sizzix or other die cutting machine to help speed up your quilting process? What’s your favorite aspect?

I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced’s WiP Wednesday.

 

Summer EPP Table Runner Progress

The fussy cutting fun involved with English Paper piecing (EPP) and Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses blocks hooked me immediately (although I still think it should be called meticulous cutting or assiduous cutting).  I’m still wondering what one is to do with these gorgeous blocks other than make a ton and stitch them into a large quilt, though. With the three I’ve completed, I decided to turn them into a summery table runner to match these placemats. I’ve begun to join them together, slowly planning how I want to border these blocks so that they finish as a table runner.  This is my first time “finishing” an EPP project, so I’m learning as I go (read: making it up as I go), as I do with most everything.
summer epp table runner

With a newborn snoozing in my lap all day and night, and since I still have the help of my visiting mom and paternity-leave-taking husband, I’ve been making steady progress on finishing the center block and making tiny 1″ squares to join the three together. Even since these photos were taken this morning, the third block is joined as well. There’s not much better than resting with a peacefully sleeping newborn on your lap, doing some stitching while watching the milk drunk stupor reflex smiles.

sleeping baby stitching
My view earlier today, shared on Instagram.
summer epp table runner
I’m loving the teeny tiny needle minder gifted to me by Mara of @mara_makes on IG.

Since I made my own 1″ square EPP templates with card stock and my paper-cutting rotary cutter, I’m thinking I may just make my own templates for the entire border. In plotting it out, a combination of squares, rectangles, and trapezoids should do the trick (I think).

Have you joined Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses blocks before? What method/shapes did you use? Please link in the comments if there’s a particular method you like, even if it’s just a general EPP tip! I honestly haven’t asked google yet, but I prefer to hear opinions from you, anyway.

perfectly matching aurifilI had been stitching the pieces together using a neutral thread, but decided that since I’m joining a bunch of blues, I should use matching thread if possible. I was pleased as punch to find a perfectly coordinating blue Aurifil thread in my stash (but not overly surprised, since there ALWAYS seems to be a perfect match!) It’s right in the middle of the darker blues and lighter turquoise, and is the perfect color for tying this whole runner together (literally!)

What do you make out of your EPP creations? I am really itching to do some more fussy cutting, but I need to have a project idea in mind before adding another project to my pile.

I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced’s Work in Progress Wednesday, and then switching my gaze back to the beauty asleep in my lap. Happy stitching!

 

June Goal {ALYoF}: Summer Stitching

I completely missed May for A Lovely Year of Finishes (ALYoF). It actually is a good thing, since I was going to make my goal “have a baby“. Here we are in June and I still have not had this baby, which means I wouldn’t have had a successful finish to link up anyway! (Enter: haveyouhadthatbabyyet.com)

For June, my goal is to have this baby! He absolutely must make his way out by the end of the month (fingers crossed for by the end of the week!)  Since I know that I need to have some little quilting/stitching project in the works, too, I’m also going to make another small goal: to finish piecing the top of the English Paper Pieced table runner I started last summer.

Summer table runner EPP project goalWhile going through my mental list of old works in progress I could dig out and make a bit of progress on while waiting for this baby, I mentally stumbled upon my Sweet as Honey EPP table runner. I realized that the color scheme is exactly the same as my newly started summer placemats, and decided it would be the perfect handwork project to add to my active to-do pile.

When I last left off on this EPP project, I was planning on making the next row of honeycombs either orange or yellow. In looking at the bundle of fabric for my placemats next to the project, I am going to take a design turn and make the next row of honeycombs for the center Lucy Boston block (the one shown on the right, below) in the dark blue. Then, I plan on making a bunch of 1″ squares (or maybe more honeycombs?) with which to border each of the blocks before joining them together in a row and binding.

Color planning for the outer row and borders of table runner
Border option 1: burnt orange
Color planning for the outer row and borders of table runner
Border option 2: medium blue

I’m planning to buy a little extra yardage of one of the Moda Bella Solids from the August bundle from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply to complete the border squares, and am leaning toward option 2 above: the medium blue. I’m excited and think that this table runner will go really well with my pixelated summer placemats.

summer placemats planningThis is only a rough visualization of a placemat, but I’m excited at the potential outcome. It looks like even with only 8 colors, the aesthetic works for me.  I love that each placemat will be different, and I am looking forward to playing around with color placement. For this progress shot, the half square triangles (HST) aren’t squared up or sewn together yet, and I may make a bunch more and play around with layouts before sewing them together. According to my initial math, I will be able to make a set of six (6) placemats with my bundle of 8 FQs. I may buy another bundle just to be safe.

In lieu of the popular “feet in the photo” quilt shot, here’s my 41+ weeks pregnant version, posted on Instagram a few days ago (and in posting this, I’m realizing I laid out the bottom row backwards in the photo above!):

pregnant belly quilt shotI’m linking up with the June Goal Making party for A Lovely Year of Finishes, with a goal of having a baby (and maybe finishing the EPP piecing for the table runner top as icing on the cake). I’m also linking up with Monday Makers & Design Wall.

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Sponsor News:

For those of you who want to get your hands on an August bundle like the one I’m using for the placemats, use coupon code nightquilter15% to get 15% off your entire order from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply‘s online shop from now through June 21st.

Thank you for supporting my sponsors!