Tag Archives: epp

Moonstone Madness (in the Best Way)

I was bitten by the EPP bug years ago, but this summer I came down with a serious case of Moonstone Madness, and in the best possible way! In June, my talented friend Giuseppe Ribaudo aka @giucy_giuce released his first English Paper Pieced pattern in partnership with Karen of @karenthediyaddict, called Moonstone. He was kind enough to send me a kit and boy has it kept me busy and grinning pretty much all summer! I love EPP and hand stitching is the perfect solution for busily adventuring makers in the summer months, and this pattern didn’t disappoint.

moonstone quilt progress giucy giuce pattern alison glass fabricIn the spirit of setting myself up for success, I opted to make four (4) blocks to make a pillow rather than a full sized quilt, and I dove into my bright Alison Glass stash to put together a fully saturated, smooth rainbow gradient. You know how I feel about rainbows. Alison Glass fabric rainbow + Giucy Giuce EPP project = heaven on a summer’s day!

alison glass rainbow moonstone giucy giuce epp pattern aurifil threadI used mostly 50wt Aurifil thread, with a few 80wts thrown in, using coordinating colors so that the stitches blend right in with the blocks. The threads shown here are (from top left clockwise): 2535-Magenta, 1154-Dusty Orange, 5015-Gold Yellow, 5017-Shining Green, and 1125-Medium Teal, all 50wt. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as matching the perfect thread to your fabric!

alison glass ex libris art theory panel rainbow epp moonstone quiltAlison’s Art Theory print from her Ex Libris line (still my ultimate favorite fabric ever) was my color inspiration, so I planned my 4-block panel around the color flow in the center octagon. Throughout the course of the summer, I finished the four blocks and completely stitched them together!

alison glass rainbow moonstone quilt giucy giuce epp patternNow I am at the point in the game where this could lounge in the works in progress pile for a while, but instead, I am going to use my excitement to forge ahead and aim to finish this beauty, which is sure to be my most favorite pillow of all time.

choosing a background fabric alison glassMy next step is to choose background fabric, press the pieced panel thoroughly, remove the template papers (so that I can use them again!!), and then hand stitch the panel down onto the background fabric. Just last week, I visited my local quilt shop Fiddlehead Artisan Supply in Belfast, ME, in the hopes of buying some yardage of Insignia in charcoal by Alison Glass, which is a nearly-solid. While Fiddlehead did not have the Insignia, they did have two other options that I bought to try out: Flying Geese in Dark Charcoal from Handcrafted, and Ink in Charcoal from Sun Print 2016 (all for Andover Fabrics).

alison glass rainbow moonstone giucy giuce epp patternAfter looking at those options, I still felt like I needed to see the Insignia before deciding, and with the encouragement of a few friends on Instagram, especially Erin who said, “I’m a strong believer in first instinct=best instinct!”, I ordered a yard of Insignia in Charcoal from Alison Glass’s shop. (Thank you Erin!). Clearly, my first gut choice is the winning choice!

alison glass rainbow moonstone quilt giucy giuce pattern aurifil monofilament threadNext I will hand stitch this epic panel to the perfect Insignia background using Aurifil’s monofilament thread in Smoke. I plan to quilt this with the Smoke monofilament thread, too, and I’m so excited just thinking about how amazing this pillow will be. This will be my first time sewing with monofilament thread, either by hand or machine, so I’ll be sure to share how it goes.

If you’d like to get a Moonstone kit for yourself, you can order one HERE on Karen the DIY Addict’s site. The kit is pretty amazing, with acrylic templates for every piece, as well as enough pre-cut foundation papers to make a full 72″x72″ quilt (or lots of pillows!), a booklet with Giuseppe’s reflections, thoughts, tips, and four (4) different layout suggestions, and of course coloring pages for all four layouts.

moonstone quilt ocean theme tula pink giucy giuce pattern aurifilAs for me, I’m nearly finished piecing my next rendition of a Moonstone block, going with the Gems layout and a more nautical theme. I plan to make only one block and top stitch it to a large zippered pouch for a friend to whom I owe a quilt. I’m hoping the consolation diaper pouch/zipped pouch will hold her (and her nearly 1 year old baby) over until I manage to make the quilt!

moonstone madness giucy giuce epp kit patternAs you can see, I’ve been absolutely struck with Moonstone Madness and it doesn’t appear to be tapering off just yet. I’ve had a wonderful time piecing together these blocks, and the portable nature of English Paper Piecing ensures that it is still very much on the top of my “summer stitching” projects list!

What did you stitch this summer? 

I’m linking up with Let’s Bee Social, since it’s about time I was social in blogland again!

3 Self Care Tips for (Mommy) Quilters

The number one greatest challenge I’ve faced in my journey into motherhood is taking time for self care. Even the words self care sound like the antithesis of motherhood. To me, being a mother means your job is to give. Not only do you give life to amazing human beings, literally birthing them into this wild world, but you also then provide the nurturing, sustenance, protection, guidance, direction, support that they need to grow and develop into independent creatures. You’re needed literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for years without any breaks, vacation time, or even sick days. Unless you make a point to create, make, steal, demand–whatever it takes!–some time for yourself, it is so easy for self care to fall completely by the wayside. (Ask me how I know!)

My self care of choice these days is taking time to sew. It took me about 5 years and 2 1/2 kids before I realized that I absolutely needed to make time to sew and create, and that making time to do something I love wasn’t selfish; it was a necessary part of this beautiful dance called life, and without it, my dance steps were more of a heavy trod than a light leap. When we’re all lightly skipping and twirling, everyone is much happier than when mommy is stomping and dragging her exhausted, grumpy self around.

tea epp self care for quilters plum deluxeEven since coming to this realization, I still struggle some weeks to set aside time for me time and self care, especially when there are deadlines looming. A while back, I was in the thick of a few looming deadlines when I received an email from Andy at Plum Organics Tea Company asking if I’d like to try some of their tea and review it on my blog. In perusing their site to see if it seemed like something I would enjoy, and more importantly, something relevant to this space, I discovered their Self Care blend. I also found myself immersed in a world of inspirational quotes, encouraging mantras, and soothing encouragements to take time for oneself.  Relevant? I think yes. Full disclosure: Plum Organics provided two packets of tea in exchange for my honest review on my blog. All opinions are always my own. My gratitude for Andy’s timely email and the resulting realization that I needed more focus on self care is also fully my own, and huge.

As a result, I’ve created this short list of three tips (or ideas) for self care for (mommy) quilters. I include “mommy” in parentheses since the tips apply to any busy quilter, mother or otherwise. I hope it will inspire you to take a moment for yourself amidst your busy day:

1 – Create just for the fun of it. No purpose. No end goal. Just make.

Especially with an endless stream of quilty requests, whether for the next baby quilt for a family member or friend, a graduation quilt for a cousin, teacher gifts for your children’s teachers, or business related quilting, the list of quilting “needs” rarely, if ever, ends. Despite this–or because of this!–it is so important to create for the sake of creating.

epp girt by sea center medallionI’ve recently joined in with the Girt by Sea sew along led by the Modern Makers Retreat and have been hand stitching the center medallion with some fabrics I won from Bari J a month or so ago (Sage fabrics for Art Gallery Fabrics). They are outside of my usual style and color scheme, it is a project with no end purpose or need, and it’s fun! Meticulous cutting, hand stitching, no stress or deadlines. That’s chicken soup for the quilter’s soul.

2 – Slow down and take time to sit. Drink tea. Hand stitch. Read.

When it feels like there’s no way you’ll ever accomplish everything on your daily to-do list day after day, it seems like leisure is impossible. Yet, truly, what’s 10-20 minutes? Take the time to sit, relax, drink some tea, hand stitch, read… whatever helps you fully relax.

tea and epp relaxTea and EPP, anyone?

I’m a huge fan of English Paper Piecing (EPP) and the tiny meticulous hand stitching is meditative for me. Sitting down with a mini pot of the Self Care tea from Plum Deluxe with a sweet snack and my hand stitching, even if only for a few moments, can help rejuvenate and reset my patience level so that I’m better able to tackle the rest of the day. Try it!

3 – Take time for yoga, or simply stretch, move, and breathe mindfully for a few moments each day.

Breathing is something that you do all day and night, but mostly likely rarely think about. Yet taking a few moments to be more mindful of your breath, notice the way you are sitting, and then sit a little bit taller, relax your shoulders, and take a few deep easy breaths can make such a difference in mood and how you feel physically. Especially when quilting or sewing, remember to take a break every so often, sit tall, breathe deeply, and gently stretch your arms, shoulders and back. Your mind and body will feel so much better!

Even on the busiest day, I hope that this list will inspire you to take a bit more time for self care. Your mind, body, and family and friends will thank you! Now I just need to help myself take my own advice more often!

More about Plum Deluxe Tea

plum deluxe organic teaThe first thing I noticed about Plum Deluxe when I visited their site was that their tea is organic, non-GMO, hand-blended, and fair-trade, all by a small independently run company out of Oregon. The focus of the company is community and inspiring people to live their best lives. Even their motto is: Making moments matter. I encourage you to read their About page; they are not your everyday tea company! Everything associated with the tea is packed full of positivity–even the ingredients list on the tea states that the tea includes love and gratitude. That’s my kind of tea!

self care blend plum deluxe teaThe Self Care tea is fruity and delicious, and smells divine as soon as you open the package. I love loose tea, since seeing the actual components makes me feel like I’m enjoying tea straight from nature.

plum deluxe tea package ingredients Andy was kind enough to send me a package of the Self Care blend and a bonus package of Oregon Breakfast Black Tea, since I’ve been wanting to decrease the amount of coffee I drink and the Oregon Breakfast flavor is rich and robust. Not only does it have hazelnut essence, it includes love and gratitude. Mmmm.

I mentioned that a big focus of Plum Deluxe is community; they also have a fabulous tea of the month club – for only $10/month subscribers receive 1 oz of a custom seasonally-perfect artisan loose leaf tea made just for the club. Subscribers also enjoy access to a robust and supportive private tea lover’s community, tea-inspired recipes, discounts on extra teas and supplies, and other surprises. They even host member meet-ups throughout the year, and several of their members host self-organized group events year-round. Andy was kind enough to offer my readers a free tea of your choice in your first month when you join the Plum Deluxe tea community. Be sure to tell him Kitty from Night Quilter sent you, and enjoy!

plum deluxe tea meaningful momentI enjoy how drinking loose leaf tea forces me to slow the daily rush. The practice of getting out the loose tea and boiling the water allows me to slow down a bit, so that I can remind myself to breathe a bit more deeply, stand a bit taller, and chill out. With three kids under 8, I have to tell myself, insist to myself–chill out–quite often. In the grand scheme of things, this mess and chaos doesn’t matter. Everyone will be better off if I take a moment to breathe. Sip some tea. Have a snack. Stitch in a sunbeam. You know, that rare rainbow unicorn called self-care for (Mommy) quilters. I’m going to *try* to work the practice into my life a bit more often. I think we’ll all be better off for it.

 

Works in Progress: A Little of This, A Little of That

I have a lot of simultaneous projects going on right now, which is pretty typical of my sewing style. I like to have a selection of projects so that when a free moment arises, I have something to work on, but also have a choice as to what I work on each day. It helps my creativity feel refreshed and helps avoid inspiration slumps. When in doubt, I start a new project since I have no shortage of projects I *want* to create, and there’s nothing like curating a new fabric pull or cutting into a new project to renew my excitement for sewing.

It’s been a while since I’ve showed you my ongoing projects, so I thought today would be a good day! These are my most frequently worked upon projects; there are scads more on the semi-permanent back burner that I will pick up again when my plate clears *just* a bit. Today, the highlights!

IMG_5280First up is my ongoing epic Carolyn Friedlander Modern Hexies project. This is my on-the-go English Paper Piecing (EPP) project that lives in my purse. I’m making progress at a bit slower than snail paced this summer, since somehow those free moments that allow for hand stitching while the kids are occupied are few and far between. And oddly, all three kids have not simultaneously fallen asleep in the car on the way to a store even ONCE! What was somewhat regular with two kids is likened to a golden unicorn with three. But still, one stitch at a time, one hexagon at a time, this project progresses.

andover foundation paper pieced project alison glass handcrafted patchworkAnother project I’m plugging away on is a fun one for Andover Fabrics. They were awesome enough to send some Alison Glass Handcrafted Patchwork to me, as well as some yardage of Constellation by Lizzy House from her Whisper Palette collection. I picked up some Andover textured solid from my LQS Fiddlehead Artisan Supply to round it out. I’m working on a new geometric foundation paper pieced pattern, with meticulously cut sections of the gorgeous Handcrafted Patchwork fabrics. There will be a tutorial going up on Andover’s blog very soon, as well as the pattern release, so keep your eye out!

quilter's planner photography outtake karen lewis quilt acadia maineI’ve also been out on three different quilt photography adventures with my amazingly gifted quilt holding assistant, aka my husband. We have been having a blast photographing the quilts for this year’s Quilter’s Planner in a sampling of the gorgeous natural locations in Maine. The planner is now available for preorder! Reserve yours HERE… there are a limited number of early bird specials and some really fun extra bits this year! I’ve shared one fun outtake above, but more will be revealed in the coming weeks. Hint: Shown here is one of the 14 patterns that will be included in the planner this year, this one by the ever talented Karen Lewis! It’s so gorgeous; I can’t wait to show you more! Be sure to preorder yours now; you can read all about it on its Indiegogo page here.

Alison Glass fabric pull for Terrazzo quilt by Lee HeinrichThere are many other fun projects waiting patiently on the decks, including a Terrazzo Quilt (pattern by Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced) made using all of Alison Glass’s Sun Prints 2016 provided by Fat Quarter Shop (the fabric pull is shown above!), a simple new pattern I’m making for a secret side project with some fellow designers, a baby quilt for one of my best friends from college who is having her second baby soon (see the quilt I made for her first baby here), a quilt pattern that will appear in a magazine early next year, and more!

Phew! What have you been working on?

I’m linking up with Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times & Main Crush Monday at Cooking up Quilts since I love to see what everyone else is working on.

Slow Stitching for Summertime

Ahh! Summer is upon us! My daughter has mere days left of school before summer break is officially here! That means all three kids home all day, every day, which in turn means time to take lots of day trip adventures! Summer also means lots more opportunity for slow stitching, and a need to have some hand stitching available at all times. We all know that the day I forget my handwork will be the day all three kids somehow fall asleep in the car on the way to some adventure!

hand stitching epp preparation carolyn friedlander modern hexiesMy portable hand stitching kit this summer consists primarily of English Paper Piecing (EPP) hexies and some experimental embroidery-quilting projects.

After a lull in my Carolyn Friedlander modern hexies project progress, I’m ready to pick it up again and baste more hexies! While 2 1/2″ squares work just fine for EPP hexagons, I really enjoy the neatness that starting with a hexagon of fabric provides.

sizzix fabi die cutting hexagons for epp
Nine (9) charm squares lined up on top of the Sizzix 1 1/2″ hexagon die. Pass it through….
sizzix fabi die cutting hexagons for epp
Viola – 18 hexagons ready for basting

This is another time when the Sizzix die cutting machine comes in handy. It doesn’t take long to cut a whole bunch of fabric and cardstock hexagons for slow stitching on the go. I use the BigZ Hexagons with 1 1/2″ sides die to cut fabric and BigZ Hexagons with 1″ sides die to cut cardstock hexies and I’m ready to roll.

sizzix fabi die cutting hexagons for eppA lovely stack of fabric hexagons ready to baste. I need to cut a few more cardstock templates, but this will do for now!

embroidery quiltingI am also continuing to add embroidery quilting to my Rainbow Hex Star mini, as well planning a couple small embroidery quilting experimental projects. My goal is to find a way to get the back to look as neat as the front. Practice, right?

slow stitching retreat a gathering of stitches maine alison glass chawne kimberSlow stitching on the go is not the only slow stitching I’m looking forward to this summer! I’m also officially registered for the Slow Stitching Retreat hosted by Sam at A Gathering of Stitches this August. I can’t wait to slow down and sew with Sam, Chawne Kimber, and Alison Glass. I’m doubly excited since I will also be leading yoga on the retreat! Just imagine… slowing down, breathing deeply, stretching out, learning from amazingly talented and inspirational quilters, and slowly stitching in the sun, rocking on the rocking chairs out on the porch in the calm, cool woods of Maine. You can read about my experience dropping in on a day of this retreat last summer HERE. I am very much looking forward to spending the full four days rejuvenating my soul with some slow stitching in inspired creative company. Are you coming!? I sure hope so!

What are your summer stitching plans?

Denim Play, Literally

I’ve been really itching to finish something–anything, so when I saw Leanne at Devoted Quilter’s blog post a few weeks ago with her blue jean English paper pieced (EPP) ball project, I knew I had to give it a try. With Finn just learning how to throw, plus two other kids who love to throw stuff around, and a large stack of jeans worn beyond the point of no return, paired with my desire to reuse and recycle as much as possible, this project was perfect.

jeans ballIt took me a bit longer to finish that I anticipated, as is typical, but today I finally finished this blue jeans ball! As Leanne suggested, I used the EPP templates provided by Abby at While She Naps. I glue basted most of the hexagons of old jeans to help make it a quick project, and I began stitching away!

jeans ballAt first I used 50wt Aurifil thread, but soon switched to 12wt. It was the perfect thickness to make the ball feel substantial and secure. I know this ball will be thrown and pummeled and beat on with the love only kids can exude with a well-loved toy, so I wanted to be sure it lasted the test of time.

kid magnet as a thimbleOne thing I learned during stitching this ball is that I need a thimble! I have old metal ones, but am so awkward in using them, I opted to just use coasters or, in some cases, wooden kid magnets to help ease the needle through the thick denim. This has been my down time and kid-napping-in-the-car project for the past two weeks, created through a series of #sewtake20s.

jeans ball
Ready for stuffing!

With the help of Finn and Max this morning, I stuffed the ball with 100% local wool I bought at Clementine Fabrics, a quasi-local but gorgeous fabric shop.

jeans ball stuffing helperMax helped a bit but soon was distracted with the task of cooking up some sheep soup for us to share with his own big ball of wool.

jeans ballFinn began roaming the rest of the playroom so that I could ladder-stitch the opening closed.

jeans ballIt’s a bit rougher than it could be, but I’m not well versed in 3D sewing. All three kids and a neighborhood friend have already had a blast playing with it within ten minutes of completion, so that’s what matters. Plus, I’ve begun the task of using old jeans for repurposed projects. Yay!

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

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!

Carolyn Friedlander Modern Hexies Progress

It’s no secret that Carolyn Friedlander is one of my favorite fabric designers. Last year, I made an entire quilt featuring her Doe fabric line, with cameos from Botanics and Architextures. But as her new fabric lines come out and continue to coordinate so well with her originals, I decided I wanted a quilt that truly showcased her varied and gorgeous fabrics. What better than a Modern Hexies mini quilt using Nicole at Modern Handcraft’s fabulous method?!

carolyn friedlander modern hexies progressNow, I’m already putting myself up against a wall a bit, since I began this project after Architextures became all but extinct. I’m hoping, though, with a bit of luck and a few insider tips, I can eventually acquire at least a 2 1/2″ square of each of the fabrics from Architextures.

architextures by carolyn friedlanderThanks to a tip from Allison at Campbell Soup Diaries, I recently picked up one of my all time favorites, plus Ledger in Ivory, from Westwood Acres.

architextures by carolyn friedlanderThrough the #getyourquiltywishesgranted event on Instagram a few months back, I obtained a few more archaic Architextures prints, as well as the Carkai mini charms I’ve nearly made into hexies.  I’m on my way!

hexagons carolyn friedlander fabricI already have basted hexagons from all of Botanics and most of Carkai. I have some scraps left from my Doe quilt, so I’ll see where that brings me and go from there.

backed in text from architextures
Might be a bit too busy for my aesthetic.

I think I will make a few more hexies before ultimately deciding whether to back the hexies in my favorite Essex yarn dyed linen in charcoal, or to stick with solid white. Perhaps I’ll be crazy and use one of the still easily attainable text prints from Architextures as the background. Time will tell.

If you have any tiny (2 1/2″ square at least) scraps of Carolyn’s Architextures fabric, please let me know if I can persuade you to send them my way! I will be happy to compensate with fabric, chocolate, or cash money. And of course gratitude. Lots and lots of gratitude.

I thought I would link up with Lee’s Work in Progress Wednesday, but it appears I’ve been out of the WiP loop long enough to have missed that she’s taking a (potentially permanent) break from her link up.  Oops! Still check out her blog at Freshly Pieced since she’s always making something gorg! I’m also going to go wild and link up with Molli Sparkles’ Sunday Stash since I’m finally sharing my new CF acquisitions.

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!)