I have had a bunch of tutorial ideas on the back burner for quite some time. Even the best ideas, without a babysitter and a day with sufficient bright light for photographing, get stuck on the back burner sometimes. My friends Stephanie and Michelle over at Late Night Quilter are kicking off a new link-up for quilter bloggers called Tips & Tutorials Tuesday, which is the perfect kick in the pants motivator to get me sharing some of those tips and tutorials I’ve been wanting to share with you for months.
Did you know that I have a few tutorials available now? If you click the “Tutorials” heading on the top toolbar of my blog, it will take you to a collection of my tutorials. Today, I thought I’d feature the tutorials I’ve created so far.
Key to My Heart
My most recent tutorial goes along with a pattern I released recently for Valentine’s Day (or any other purpose, since you can fussy cut anything you want for the center of the heart) called Key to My Heart. It’s a quick and easy pattern that includes paper piecing to help perfect the accuracy and placement of the features within the heart, and applique to make the heart-part easy peasy! The tutorial takes you through each step with photographs to help clarify the instructions.
You can find the tutorial HERE and buy the pattern for only $2 on Craftsy or Payhip. (See below for information about a killer sale I’m offering for the next week).
Basic Foundation Paper Piecing
Since I design paper piecing patterns, I thought it would be a great help to create a basic foundation paper piecing tutorial. I absolutely love the accuracy, perfection, and endless possibility of designs that paper piecing brings you, but I know that it is a struggle for some. Once I wrapped my brain around the fact that I was sewing something backwards while looking through a mirror, it all clicked. Hopefully my tutorial is helpful to those of you who perhaps want to paper piece, but don’t quite know where to begin. Here are some sneak peeks at the tutorial, which you can find HERE.
Perfect 1/4″ Seams
The third and final tutorial is more of a tip. It’s just one of the little tricks I’ve found to help sew accurate 1/4″ seams. As extraneous as it may seem, I’ve found that taking the extra few minutes to cut accurately and employ little tricks to help ensure your seams are consistent throughout your project really makes a HUGE difference with the outcome. Read the tip HERE and let me know what you think!
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Finally, since Valentine’s Day is only four days away, and in celebration of all of my new followers, I am having a flash sale for the next week: buy any three (3) patterns for only $4. Patterns usually range from $2.50-$4.50 so this is definitely a deal! Since coupon codes and open offers such as this one aren’t really compatible with Craftsy, if you buy three patterns, I will immediately refund the difference from $4, so you will be paying only $4 for three patterns of your choice. Visit my Craftsy store HERE. For interested international buyers, if you see a pattern on Craftsy that is not available in myPayhip store, email me at email@example.com and I will be sure to get the pattern either up on Payhip or emailed directly to you.
I hope you find these tutorials helpful, and I’m looking forward to sharing more tips and tutorials in the future. I’m linking up with my fellow Late Night Quilters for Tips & Tutorials Tuesday. Go check out some of the other great tips, too!
Since returning from vacation, my design wheels have been turning and cranking out ideas faster than I can create them and turn them into patterns. I did manage to finish this pattern, though, complete with a tutorial. Key to my Heart is a pattern that combines foundation paper piecing and applique to help you create a perfect log cabin-style heart on a 9″x9″ block (or a background block of your choice. The heart measures approximately 8″ wide by 7″ tall). The log cabin pattern is paper pieced for quick, “perfect” stitching, and then the heart shape is cut out and appliqued onto the background of your choice. The heart is shown on the paper piecing template so that your block is perfectly centered and ready to go.
This block would be perfect for a variety of Valentine’s Day gifts, or even just to show your love any day of the year. I plan to make my block into a tea cozy using Yvonne’s great tutorial here, but you could make yours into a mug rug, mini wall hanging, table runner, or even add it to a larger quilt.
The pattern is for sale in my Craftsy shop for those in the US, or in my Payhip shop for international folk. It is on sale for only $3.50 until February 1st, when it will be listed at the usual $4.50.
Since this pattern combines paper piecing and applique, I decided to provide a tutorial to help explain and show each step more clearly. Once you’ve printed your pattern template, you are ready to go!
Paper piece the log cabin portion of the block until fabric extends at least 1/4″ beyond all edges of the heart.
*Shorten your machine’s stitch length to 1.2 to make paper removal easy.
*The center square is perfect for fussy cutting! Find key fabric to share the key to your heart. Or, be creative! Do you love cats? Fussy cut a cat for the center. Love tea? Fussy cut a teapot for the center. Whatever you or the gift recipient loves can be fussy cut for the center of this heart. Tip:Hold the paper and your fussy cut square up to a bright window or lightbox to be sure your fussy cut feature is centered before sewing.
Using a long basting stitch (2.5 or larger), sew around the outside of the heart, approximately 1/8″ from the line (this distance does not need to be perfect, nor do the stitches need to be perfect. The purpose of these stitches is to hold all of your fabric flat while cutting out the heart shape.)
Using scissors appropriate for cutting both fabric and paper, carefully cut along the dotted heart line.
Remove paper piecing foundation paper. Jump for joy at how easy it is since you shortened your stitch length to 1.2 before paper piecing!
Applique your heart to the center of your background fabric using your preferred applique method.
*To accurately center your heart, fold your background fabric in half and press lightly. With the fold running top to bottom, line up the center top and bottom of the heart with the pressed center line of the background fabric. Either measure the distance from top and bottom of the background fabric until it’s equal, or position your heart as desired.
Find gorgeous matching thread. (I love Aurifil, and there’s almost always a perfect match!).
Quilt and finish as desired.
I would love to see if you create this block. Photos of your finished block can be posted in my Night Quilter Creations group on Flickr found HERE, or can be added to the Craftsy page HERE. The first three (3) people to buy, complete, and upload a photo of a completed block to either the Flickr group or my Craftsy page will receive a full refund OR choice of another pattern from my shop. How about that for sharing the love!?
Want to share the love some more? Instagram your blocks and tag me @nightquilter.
Two words everyone loves to hear, right? I recently released three new foundation paper piecing patterns and had some great pattern testers help me along the way. I offered my blogging testers the opportunity to host a giveaway on their blogs, so now you have a chance to win a free copy of one of my new patterns. Check out these two great giveaways:
Sarah of Pitcher Family Adventures offered to test both my Leaf pattern AND my original Fishies pattern, so on her blog you have a chance to win your choice of either pattern.
Be sure to take a minute to stop by both blogs to enter to win! While these giveaways are going on, I’m extending the sale in my Craftsy store. Both Fish patterns and the Leaf pattern will be on sale for $3.50 for one more week.
I try to outweigh “check out my pattern store” posts with more project-focused, photo-heavy, quilting inspiration and progress posts, but sometimes there just needs to be a little self promotion (right?). In this case, it’s win win–you have a good chance of winning a free paper piecing pattern, and I’m helping spread the word for my awesome pattern testers.
The hustle and bustle of the autumn harvest season has overflowed into my sewing habits. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been finalizing some new foundation paper piecing patterns with the help of some awesome pattern testers. I’m relatively new to the solicit-pattern-testers game, but I managed to find some great and enthusiastic testers through the Late Night Quilters Club facebook group. Here are my new patterns, and a sampling of the fabulous testing:
This pattern literally came to me as my family was driving home from church one Sunday. I have been really trying to simplify my patterns and focus on geometric symmetry. Perhaps the turning leaves speckling our drive home inspired me, but either way I quickly sketched out this pattern on a scrap of paper while my husband drove (don’t worry–I didn’t sketch it out while driving!). Here we are a few weeks later and it’s ready to go!
One of the most exciting things about sending your pattern to testers is the anticipation of what color scheme and design each tester will choose. My testers for this leaf didn’t disappoint! Check out these lovely tester versions; they are so incredibly varied and gorgeous!
Each of these three lovely ladies will be giving away a copy of my new pattern on her blog, so head on over to check them out and try your hand at winning this seasonal leaf pattern. The pattern is also listed for sale in my Craftsy store, and will be on sale for $3.50 for one week before it goes back to its usual price.
Fishies Rainbow Row
Just about immediately after sketching out my original Fishies panel, the idea for this alternate layout and color scheme came to mind. I sketched it out and wrote out rough piecing instructions and then put it on the back burner. When asking for pattern testers, Julie Schloemer from That’s Sew Julie offered to test my fishies panel pattern. After looking through her blog and seeing her style, I thought she might be interested in making my rough idea into a reality. Little did I know that she would literally make my exact vision into a reality! Here is the Fishies Rainbow Row pattern, exactly as I envisioned it, pieced and quilted by Julie.
I loved watching Julie’s progress with this on Instagram, from the first pieced fish, to the matching of thread in preparation of quilting, all the way to finishing as a lovely pillow. Check out these great photos by Julie:
Julie will also be hosting a giveaway on her blog, where you can enter for a chance to win a free copy of this pattern. The pattern is also listed for sale in my Craftsy store and will be on sale for $3.50 for one week until it returns to its usual price. Get it now!
I also recently created a Flickr group called Night Quilter Creations, where you can post photos of projects you’ve made using my patterns. If you’re on Flickr, go check it out, join in, and post your photos! I’d love to see what you create!
When Laura from Adventures of a Quilting Diva asked for volunteers to design itty bitty mini paper pieced houses for her Mini House-Along, I thought it would be fun. Little did I know exactly how much fun! I had such a blast sketching out and piecing this little Mini Snail House, and I’m a bit afraid I may be hooked on mini houses!
This mini house block finishes at 5″x5″ (5.5″x5.5″ unfinished) and was super fun to piece. I think it was the smallest block I’ve ever made, and being comprised of five foundation pieces made the itty bitty fun even more extreme! Next time I think I will use a smaller print pink scrap, or maybe even sketch or solid for the snail, but overall I kind of love it! I honestly didn’t think I’d be all about the itty bitty paper piecing, but it was so fun. These mini house blocks are a fabulous way to use up those tiny scraps you know you’ve been saving.
This block is available for free in my Craftsy shop, as the October block for the Mini House-Along. While typically one might think of haunted houses being more fitting for October, I think this works perfectly: it’s a snail dressing up as a house. Or maybe a house dressing up as a snail? Either way, we’ve got Halloween covered.
You can download the previous blocks in Laura’s Mini House-Along here:
or visit Laura’s blog for more details about the inspiration and design of the previous blocks in the Mini House-Along.
This block was heavily inspired by Suzy Ultman‘s fabric collection Suzy’s Dollhouse for Robert Kaufman. Once I agreed to design a miniature house, I started looking for house styles, sizes, shapes, and features everywhere. I found my inspiration right in my very own fabric stash!
Wow, that’s a mouthful!! Friday Finish Fishies Foundation Paper Piecing Panel Pattern. If you can say that three times fast, you can have the pattern for free! Thank goodness for abbreviations. (FPP stands for Foundation Paper Piecing, for those who don’t have a full arsenal of quilting jargon).
This pattern began as a pillow pattern (in the fabric pull above, the bottom fabric is intended as binding and the second-from-bottom is the backing fabric), but as I pieced it and envisioned it more, I realized it would make a great center panel for a baby quilt or underwater nursery wall hanging, too. I decided to offer the pattern simply as a panel pattern so that the end product can be left to your creative desires. The pattern includes foundation paper piecing patterns for three different sized fish, finishing at 2″x9.5″ (large), 1.5″x7″ (medium), and 1″x4.75″ (small), as well as cutting instructions and a piecing diagram for a full 16″x16″ finished panel (16.5″x16.5″ unfinished).
I can see this pattern being created with any number of fabric color and pattern vs. solid combinations, as well as different layouts. For color, I’m itching to make a version with a scrappy low volume background and rainbow fish. I could also see using the fish individually for other smaller projects, maybe fabric bins for a playroom, kids’ place mats, or even at the bottom of a little girl’s dress.
While the specific instructions for making this panel into a pillow or baby quilt are not included in this pattern, I included a “project inspiration page” with different color possibilities and a rough sketch of one way this panel would work in a baby quilt.
Yes, I said it was rough! It’s in creating patterns like this that I really wish I had EQ! It gets the idea across, though, which is what matters… right? On IG, @onceuponadonkey suggested cutting this finished panel into a fishbowl shape to be used on a baby quilt panel. How adorable would that be?!
This Fishies Foundation Paper Piecing Panel pattern is available in my Craftsy shop. I plan to list additional patterns with step-by-step instructions for making the panel into a pillow and perhaps for making the baby quilt shown above in the near future. What would you make with the pattern?
Foundation Paper Piecing is one of those things that when first encountered, may seem daunting enough to send you running for the hills. But once the general concept is grasped, paper piecing opens the door to a whole new world of quilting and fabric-play. Trust me, it’s worth giving it another go. As with anything, the best way to get more comfortable with foundation paper piecing is to practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. Today I thought I’d share my process with tips along the way, in the hopes that it helps clarify the foundation paper piecing process.
For me, once I wrapped my brain around the fact that I was sewing something backwards while looking through a mirror, it all clicked. I’m a very spatial person, so once I could visualize that the picture was being created on the BACK, I was fine. Yes, the lines along which you sew will be on the back, or wrong-side of your sewn design. Think about that for a minute, and then let’s begin. Take your time, and have FUN!
Basic Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial
First of all, why paper piecing? The ability to create life-like pictures with fabric is what first got me hooked on foundation paper piecing. Once I got the hang of it, I realized many more benefits to paper piecing:
No other method results in such precision and accuracy when sewing. You can make two blocks that are EXACTLY the same without too much muss or fuss about seams.
It is a great way to use up scraps.
My favorite perk of paper piecing is that it gives me a way to create gorgeous gifts for family and friends without the time invested in sewing an entire quilt. Paper piecing patterns are perfect for wall hangings, table runners, tea cozies, mug rugs, pillows, bags, and even as framed art.
Convinced? Let’s get started!
1. Choose a pattern. I am using my Buoy 1 pattern for this tutorial, since it’s fairly straightforward and consists of only one foundation piece. Summertime is calling my name, so this nautical pattern will soon become a pillow perfect for a beach house or someone’s nautical nursery. Buoy 1 used to be on Craftsy but is now no longer available, so you will need use another beginner pattern of your choosing. My available foundation paper piecing patterns are located on Payhip. The Buoy series should be making a reappearance in the summer 2019.
2. Assemble your tools. You will need:
– pattern & paper (I use regular printer paper. Some prefer velum or tracing paper)
– fabric & thread (I love Aurifil)
– rotary cutter and mat
– scissors (be sure to use non-fabric scissors to cut out your pattern. I suggest having fabric scissors, craft scissors, and small scissors for trimming threads)
– ruler (add a quarter rulers work well, but so do any quilting rulers with a 1/4″ measure)
– iron and pressing surface
– sewing machine
3. Print the pattern with your printer set on “Actual Size” and check the scale. ALWAYS check to make sure the pattern is printed to the correct scale before beginning to sew.
Cut out pattern using craft scissors. Many patterns have a dotted line showing a 1/4″ seam allowance on the pattern. Be sure to check that the seam allowance is included, and if it isn’t, add it on before you cut.
*Here, some people like to color their pattern with colored pencils to help with accurate fabric piecing. I only do this for complicated patterns or when I am using different fabric colors than indicated on the pattern, but you are welcome to get out the colored pencils and do some coloring here if you want!*
4. You’re ready to begin! Cut fabric pieces (or find scraps) to fit spaces 1 and 2 on the pattern. Be sure to include a 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides. Paper piecing is kind of like paint by number, but with sewing, and always in order. You start with piece 1, sew on piece 2, then piece 3, etc. *When cutting fabric for paper piecing, I am generous in my cutting. I cut pieces that are amply large enough to cover the space and seam allowance and then some–lots of wiggle room. Yes, it may waste a bit more fabric, but it makes the process a lot smoother. To me, smooth (no seam ripper required) sewing is worth more than a few tiny scraps of fabric. Also, when you trim your seam allowances, any large pieces of excess fabric can be used for other pieces of the pattern. Go big!*
5. Here’s where the spatial part comes in, so get ready. Remember, you are using the paper foundation to help you make the pattern on the back, as if you are looking through a mirror. Ready?
Place the fabric for piece 1 on the back of the paper, wrong side of the fabric facing you (against the paper). Hold it up to a window or a light-box to ensure the fabric fully covers the #1 space, plus seam allowances.
6. Holding fabric 1 in place, position the paper so that the printed side is away from you. Take the fabric scrap for space #2 and place it right side down, on top of fabric 1. Be sure the seam line between 1 and 2 is covered by both fabrics, holding up to the light if needed. The fabrics should now be right sides facing each other, and when you sew along the seam line and fold fabric 2 up, it should cover the #2 space plus seam allowances.
*Before you sew, shorten the stitch length on your sewing machine. I set mine to anywhere between 1.2 and 1.5. That way the paper is very easy to remove at the end.*
7. Holding both pieces of fabric in place, sew along the line between spaces 1 and 2, with the paper on top. Some people like to pin or even glue their pieces in place before sewing, since the fabric is underneath the paper. I personally just carefully hold them in place with my finger. I haven’t had a problem yet, and it’s one less step if that works for you.
Accuracy tip: Lower the needle by hand for the first stitch, ensuring that your sewing will be straight along the line. Back-stitch for one stitch at the end to secure your threads.
8. Trim thread ends. (One day I will make myself a cute thread-catch, but for now I just accumulate a mountain of threads next to my sewing machine.)
9. Fold the paper down along the seam you just sewed, and trim the fabric to 1/4″.
10. With the foundation paper flat and unfolded, press and set the seam with a hot iron (no steam). Finger press fabric 2 up to cover its space and press again.
When you hold the paper up to the light, you should see that fabric 1 covers the #1 space and fabric 2 covers the #2 space, with seam allowances.
11. Continue this method for the rest of the pattern pieces. Cut, line up, sew, fold & trim, press. Cut, line up, sew, fold & trim, press. Repeat.
If you’ve got the hang of it, you can skip the next few parts and just scroll down to the finishing steps. For those of you who run into tricky spots along the way, here are some additional tips to help smooth the process.
Tips for Lining Up Seams:
If you are truly generous in your fabric cutting, this tip is not as necessary since you’re bound to have enough fabric even if your seams end up being larger than 1/4″. However, if the frugal part of you just can’t cut those fabric bits ginormously, here’s a tip to get accurate 1/4″ seams to conserve fabric. Note that this works best for straight-forward seams, and not nearly as well for long, skinny, tricky angles (I’ll address those in a bit).
For this example, I have just sewn on piece 3, and I’m getting ready to sew piece 4.
First, fold the paper along the seam line between pieces 3 and 4.
With paper folded over, trim the excess of piece 3 to 1/4″ beyond the fold. This will give you an accurate edge with which to line up the edge of piece 4.
When lining up piece 4 (white) with the edge of piece 3 (black), if you match the edges, the seam will be exactly 1/4″. Note that the right side of fabric 4 is facing the right side of fabric 3. Hold in place, sew, and you’ve got as close to a perfect seam as you’re going to get!
Tips for Using Directional Fabrics:
Using fabrics without a directional flow is fairly straight-forward, but if you are using a fabric with a directional pattern that you’d like to keep consistent, it takes a bit more forethought when you cut. First, line up your pattern and your fabric to decide in what direction the fabric should go. To cut the fabric, position the pattern with the printed lines up, and the fabric wrong side facing up. This way, since you are creating your pattern on the back, the shape of the fabric piece will be accurate (note that the above photo shows the fabric right side up, before pieces were cut).
Once your piece is cut, proceed as usual, paying close attention to the direction of the fabric. Remember, right side of fabric piece is placed facing the right side of the emerging picture, on the wrong side of the foundation paper.
Until you get the hang of aligning the fabric correctly, it’s a good idea to check the direction of the fabric before sewing. Unpicking paper pieced (tiny stitches!) seams is less than desirable (trust me, I know!). To check the fabric direction, simply place the fabric wrong side down, hold along seam line, and fold back. Once you are sure the direction of the fabric is the way you want it, fold it back and sew.
Tips for Tricky Angles:
Many angles in basic paper piecing patterns are fairly straight forward. Sometimes, though, you have an angle that really makes you crunch your brain to properly line up the fabric before sewing so that it fully covers the necessary space with seam allowances. Rather than sew, unpick, sew, unpick, sew, unpick, here are some tips to help get it right the first try.
Here I’m trying to piece section 14. When cutting my fabric piece, I’ve been generous with size, and included the angle of the seam I’m about to sew. Note that the fabric is wrong side up, with my foundation paper right side up.
The fabric piece generously covers the space needed, with lots of wiggle room. The angle cut into the piece is key, since that will help align the seam correctly. If just eyeing the angle while cutting doesn’t work for you, you can put your pattern paper on top of your fabric, and using a Herra marker, deeply mark the seam line. Add 1/4-1/2″ to all sides and cut your fabric piece.
Holding it up to the light, I can see that my fabric piece covers the space, extends amply beyond the seam allowance, and that the general angle of the seam line is consistent with the angle of the fabric piece.
Here’s the tricky part. Placing your fabric right side facing the wrong side of the foundation paper, line your angled seam edge with the seam line on your block. It will look wonky, and may seem like it is headed in the wrong direction.
Fold along the seam line to ensure the fabric will cover the correct area. Once satisfied that it’s all lined up properly, fold back and sew the seam. With particularly wonky angles, I sometimes pin along the seam line, both to ensure I’m accurately checking the fold, and to hold the fabric in the proper place before sewing.
So now you’ve got the basics of foundation paper piecing! Once your entire block is pieced, square up the edges being mindful to keep the 1/4″ seam allowance around the block if you plan to sew it into a quilt, pillow, or just about anything else.
I often will leave the paper on if I plan to sew the block to another paper pieced block, since the 1/4″ seam allowance line helps me with accurate sewing. If you are already a pro at 1/4″ seams or are planning on using a single block for your project, now comes the fun part–removing the paper!
To remove the paper, gently tear away, holding the main block in place and pulling gently away and to the side, similar to how you would tear any perforated piece of paper. With your narrow stitch length, the paper should come away easily.
Once one side of the paper is off, the other side often will just pop out. Go slowly and tear gently to ensure your seams stay tight. If you end up with bits of paper stuck in the seams, carefully use blunt tweezers to remove the final bits. Alternately, I’ve heard that spraying the paper with water helps with removal. I haven’t had to try it yet, though, so can’t vouch for the method.
I just love the backs of paper pieced blocks. The precision and accuracy, all the little seams that are proof of my cut, line up, sew, fold & trim, press marathon… they make me happy. Take a good, long, admiring look at the back of your block, and then flip it over and admire your finished block. Gorgeous!
I hope this tutorial was helpful, and that you enjoy paper piecing as much as I do. Coming soon on my blog, I’ll talk about what’s next; now that you’ve made your paper pieced block, what can you do with it!?
Do you have any other tips for beginner paper piecers?
Now that I’ve got my printer figured out, I’m back to testing my new Lupine Paper Piecing Pattern. It’s a 10″ block with lots of small bits, but no complicated joining points. I’m excited to test this out and finalize the pattern, since I really think it will be a beautiful block, truly representative of lupine. Lupine grows all over Maine, and during early June you can see it sprawling gorgeously alongside highways and roads, as well as in fields and gardens. I’m working on a Downeast Paper Piecing Series, and this lupine is an essential piece!
When designing paper piecing patterns, I always battle with the balance of visual accuracy and simplicity. I want the finished pattern to look unmistakably like lupine, but I also want it to be simple enough that people will want to create it. With the lupine design, I knew I definitely wanted to get the heart-like flower petals into the pattern.
The recognizable radiating leaves also had to make an appearance, albeit simplified.
I’m really happy with how my pattern turned out! I think it looks like lupine, leaves room for lots of color play in the flower, and is fairly simply pieced despite the many small bits. There are a few tricky angles, but using the printer paper foundation paper piecing method, I focus on being generous when cutting my fabric bits and haven’t had trouble yet.
I’m not overly wild about my fabric choices this time around; they seemed like they melded and contrasted well when I looked at the stacks of fabric, but once paper pieced, I’m not sure it’s enough contrast for my liking.
Mental note: when choosing fabrics for Lupine Paper Piecing Pattern, go bold!
I’ve only completed one small section of the Lupine so far, but I will be sure to post my progress as it comes along. I’m hoping to have this pattern posted in my Craftsy Pattern Store within the next couple of weeks, just in time for lupine season here in Maine.
This pattern came about when a search for a paper pieced lupine pattern turned up nothing. There are many paper pieced flower patterns, but I could not find lupine! The only solution was to design it myself.
What’s your favorite flower? Would you take the time to paper piece it into a pillow, table runner, etc.?