The internet has been down for most of the week here at home, which translates to radio silence on this here blog. My goal for the year was “Balance”, after all, so maybe it was decided that I needed to take a blogging break. Either way, here’s a little peek at what I’ve been doing during the silence.
I mended my first pair of jeans. Yes, I know, it’s a little embarrassing that as an almost-34 year old, I have yet to mend clothes. I did try mending a hole in a pair of jeans a couple years back, but it was such an epic fail I can hardly count it. This time I used a patch cut from another pair of old holey jeans, zig zag stitched the edges to prevent fraying, and hand stitched it on with Aurifil floss. Many thanks to Dorie (@tumblingblocks on IG) for the inspiration and tips! The floss was gorgeous to work with, but I was later informed (thanks for the heads up, Sam!) that embroidery floss won’t be strong enough to hold up well as a jeans knee patch. I plan to supplement the stitching with a rainbow of perle cotton and hope for the best. At least it looks awesome, and these favorite post-partum maternity-esque jeans are ready to wear post-baby. It is so peaceful to sit and stitch while sitting next to my kiddos watching a movie. Balance, right?
I put my skinny strip scraps outside for the birds. I’ve never tried this before, but have seen that others save their fabric shavings to put out during nest-building season. I’ve been saving my skinnies all winter so I’m really hopeful that we see some colorful, soft nests around the yard this year!
I’ve been working on my Prismatic Medallion mini quilt for my Alison Glass Mini Quilt swap partner. I’m still waiting on a few fabrics, but I’m loving the progress so far!
I made a bit of progress on my newest foundation paper piecing pattern, Bean Sprout. Can you tell my mind is on spring?
We finally planted seeds. Today, April 3rd, we FINALLY got seeds into planters. It’s far too cold to plant seeds in the ground still, especially since there are still multiple feet of snow on top, but starting seeds inside is one of my favorite parts about spring. It felt so good to get dirt under my fingernails! Last year, we planted seeds in late February, so waiting until April is crazytown. This winter was just so brutal it felt wrong to plant seeds when the temperatures were in the teens and the snow just kept coming. I’m hoping the seeds still get a good enough head start to flourish once the garden is ready for them.
Back outside I go to enjoy this glorious day with my kids. The weekend forecast is for more snow (it darn well better not stick!), but I know that spring is near. Hope, balance, love. That’s what life is about!
Walking around the vendor booths at QuiltCon, there was such a delightful array of color. Color everywhere, as fabric, quilts, notions, signs, or quilts. As I said earlier, I took a surprisingly small number of photographs, but I still have a few colorful ones to share. Color palettes are created using Play Crafts’ Palette Builder 2.1 and my photographs.
Corresponding solids from left to right:
Bella Dark Teal, Bella Turquoise, Kona Bahama Blue, Bella Shocking Pink, Bella Bunny Hill Pink, Bella Home Town Sky
Corresponding Aurifil thread from left to right:
4182 – Med Turquoise
4093 – Jade
1148 – Lt Jade
2215 – Peach
2314 – Beige
2600 – Dove
The Aurifil booth did not disappoint when it comes to color. With this gorgeous display of colorful large spools of Aurifil thread, I had to stop and take a gabillion photos. I am wishing I had a tripod and another 20 minutes, but even with a few quick hold-my-breath-to-steady photos, I was able to get one suitable clear one. That front and center turquoise variegated thread is one I’ve had my eye on for quite some time but haven’t yet used. I think I may have to remedy that soon. Gorgeous colors of this, my favorite silky smooth thread! The palette reminds me of the beach, for some reason. The summery feel is much appreciated this time of year!
Corresponding solids from left to right:
Bella Stone, Bella Sea, Bella Glacier, Bella Sapphire, Kona Regal, Kona Nautical
Corresponding Aurifil thread from left to right:
5011 – Rope Beige
4140 – Wedgewood
5008 – Sugar Paper
1248 – Grey Blue
2581 – Dk Dusty Grape
2785 – V Dk Navy
This palette is created from one of my top favorite quilts at the show, Icy Waters by Amy Garro. The color palette includes a gorgeous range of blues, which could be part of why I am so drawn to this quilt. Icy Waters is from Amy’s new book, Paper Pieced Modern*, which I really can’t wait to get my hands on. I am quite drawn to paper piecing but also to modern style, and Amy’s patterns are SUCH a fabulous melding of the two. I discovered her book during the book release blog hop, and was lucky enough to meet and have dinner with Amy while in Austin. Not only is she a fabulous designer, she’s sweet and fun to hang out with, too.
To share a somewhat unrelated side story from QuiltCon, after an evening of getting appetizers and drinks (for the non preggo ones in attendance) in a typical dimly lit and loud wine bar, Amy did something that really showed what a sincere and thoughtful person she is. As some of you know, I’m severely hard of hearing, so do best face to face where I can “read” lips. In a dark, loud restaurant in a group setting, it is a challenge for me to catch conversation, so I jump in where I can and just deal with missing out on the bulk of conversation. This particular evening, Stephanie was with us, so she took the time to fill me in with a bit of ASL signing here and there so that I could better participate in the conversation. As we were parting ways and hugging as old friends who just met do, Amy signed “Good to meet you” as she said farewell. My response? “Did you just SIGN to me!?” I learned that she had learned sign language quite a number of years ago, but still remembered some. It may seem like a tiny insubstantial thing, but it really stuck with me and made me appreciate my quilty friends more. So yeah, I like Amy 🙂
I will share more reflections about the quilts at QuiltCon in a future post, but Amy’s fabulous Icy Waters is a great example of the innovative, aesthetically flowing, modern quilts that hung in the show. There is SO much talent out there!
Despite 18″-24″ of snowfall over the past 48 hours, we managed to keep our power!! Huzzah! That means I was able to sneak some sewing time in between the outdoor snowy play and the indoor snuggly game playing and movie watching time. I’ve been working on a second version of my Key to My Heart pattern (only $2 on Craftsy and Payhip), with the plan to make them into another seasonal tea cozy for my mom. I’m fairly certain my mom doesn’t read my blog, so I think the gift surprise is safe. If I’m wrong and my mom is reading this, —hi, Mom!!– I hope to get it in the mail so that she gets it before Valentine’s Day.
I can see myself making this block with MANY different fussy-cut centers. This one will become another reversible tea cozy, using Yvonne’s tutorial on Quilting Jetgirl. I was toying around with the idea of making one side both hearts, and the other side solid, but I think I’m going to mix it up. One side of the tea cozy will be the pink heart and pink solid fabric, and the other side will be the bicycle and teal fabric. That way, this tea cozy will be seasonally appropriate throughout the spring and summer, too!
This Storm Could be HISTORIC… New England: “No Town will Escape the Storm”… Powerhouse Storm: When Will the Heaviest Snow Hit?
With headlines like that, there’s no question what we’ll be doing tomorrow: hunkering down and waiting out the blizzard, hoping our power stays on. Honestly, I love snow. I’m excited that our forecast calls for 18-24 inches of the white stuff, as long as our power stays on. We have a generator now, so even without power, we can run the circulator for the wood boiler (heat), and the water pump (water), and power a little electricity for the refrigerator and a light or two. Note that my sewing machine is not high enough in the hierarchy to warrant generator power. But as the Boy Scouts always say, “Be prepared.”
So, today I’ve been preparing. Preparing for snow: the chickens are fully stocked with food and water, the dishwasher has been run, laundry is going all day, jars of water will be set out later tonight just in case. But also preparing for sewing, just in case we keep our power and I get some sewing time after the kids’ bedtime. My biggest work in progress these days is my secret sewing Doe quilt. I still can’t show you, but I can promise the reveal will be soon! I’ve almost finished the quilting, so next up is squaring, binding, and the dreaded thread-burying. I cut the binding strips and am all ready to make the binding.
I’m using Architextures Crosshatch in Cadet with a splash of Poppy for my binding. This quilt will be all-things Carolyn Friedlander, so her Architextures fabric line had to have a role somewhere. These fabrics make the perfect binding! If I can make the binding and get it sewn onto the quilt tonight, then I will be SEW prepared in the case that we lose power–hand stitching, baby!
I’ve also been planning and pulling fabrics for my next version of my Key to My Heart paper piecing & applique pattern (only $2 until Valentine’s Day!). I’m loving this bicycle print, which is Bluebird Park by Kate and Birdie Paper Co., for Moda, and the colors that coordinate just happen to be my favorite color.
I’m actually contemplating making an entire quilt of hearts, with various things I love in the middle of each heart, and of course in a rainbow of colors. How cool would THAT be?! I’ll add it to my ideas list under “selfish sewing”. Perhaps one day!
What’s your favorite thing to do on a snow day?
I’m linking up to my first Monday Makers! Maybe I’ll have my heart (and secret quilt!?) finished by next Monday for the next link-up.
Remember back before Christmas, when I only showed you tiny peeks at most of my projects since they were to be given as gifts? Well now that the holidays are long over, now that I’m back and getting into the groove of home life, now that I finally have a free minute to blog about them, now I can show you the full gifts!
I also have finalized and posted another Valentine’s Day themed foundation paper piecing pattern, which goes live in my Craftsy (for US buyers) and Payhip (for international buyers) today! It’s a day full of finishes, both new and old. A picture is worth a thousand words, so without further ado…
I made this pouch for my sister, since her favorite colors are teal and lime green. The zipper installation was my FIRST ever zipper, and I think it came out quite well. I used linen blend fabric leftover from my Go Anywhere Bag, and I think my sister loved it! Anna from Noodlehead has the best tutorials, and this one was a perfect first-zipped pouch tutorial.
One thing I learned while making this pouch, though, is that when the directions say to “align… the side/bottom seams” while boxing the corners, you really need to line them up perfectly. The bottom and side seams for mine (as you can see in the photo above) did not line up perfectly, since I flew past that little bit of instruction, but now I know for next time! I’m hoping that the chocolates inside the pouch distracted my OCD sister from this slight misalignment! (Love you, Lucy!)
Reversible Tea Cozy
When talking to my mom about quilting about a year ago, she made it clear that she thought making a quilt was too much work and too time consuming, and therefore she did not want me to make her a quilt. She instead requested “a tea cozy for every season”, since it’s a quick project that can be completed in a couple hours. She also drinks tea from her tea pot every afternoon, so it will be well used and loved. It has taken me a while to get this first one made, but I don’t think the next one will be far behind. I used the fabulous tutorial by Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl. I definitely will be using her tutorial again, since the tea cozy fit my mom’s large teapot quite well. Here are the two Christmas-themed sides of the tea cozy I made for my mom.
A New Paper Piecing Pattern!
And finally, a recent finish: a new paper piecing pattern called Love Struck. Special thanks to Julie from That’s Sew Julie for her awesome pattern testing! This pattern includes printable foundation paper piecing templates including two “printer pages” to help save paper when printing multiples, clear assembly instructions, a coloring sheet on which you can try out color schemes before beginning, and sewing tips along the way. You can find in on Craftsy here (for those in the US) or on Payhip here(if you’re international). Both this and my Key to My Heart pattern are on sale for $2 until Valentine’s day!
We’re getting lots of snow this weekend up here in Maine, so I know what I’m doing all weekend–sewing (and playing with my kids in the snow). If you’re looking for a good weekend project, turn this block into a festive table runner or pillow. Here’s the pillow Julie made from four blocks. AND she says she “whipped up this whole thing in a week while taking care of five kids, one sick, and getting a double crochet hat order together.” Holy smokes, Julie! You’re amazing!!
Get the pattern here:
Craftsy (if you’re in the US) Payhip (if you’re international)
…or go to Julie’s blog and comment to enter for a chance to win a free copy of the pattern!
If you do decide to make this pattern, share the love and tag me @nightquilter on IG or twitter, and use #lovestruckpattern. I’d love to see!
On the coast of Maine, lobster buoys freckle the harbors and are often seen hanging on the sides of buildings, sheds, boat houses, and even near mailboxes further inland. Many of my patterns are inspired by the Maine coast, and my latest works in progress are certainly not exceptions. I’ve finally completed and posted all three of my buoy foundation paper piecing patterns in my Craftsy store.
Lobster buoys come in all shapes and sizes, and definitely many different colors. I tried to create patterns for at least the three most commonly seen shapes, and I am happy with how they turned out.
The patterns are super simple and extremely versatile. While testing these patterns, I accidentally sewed the 4″x8″ of the middle buoy, instead of the intended 5″x10″ version. I’m not quite sure what I will do with the little buoy yet, but the larger ones will be made into a pillow once I make a 5″x10″ of that pesky middle one.
I love the detail and precision of foundation paper piecing. There’s something about the exactness of seams and the ability to create anything with fabric that makes me happy.
Since I still need to remake a larger version of the Buoy 2 pattern and stitch these all together, I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced’s Work in Progress Wednesday. Stay tuned to see the completed pillow, and stop by my shop if you have an inkling of making some nautical lobster buoy creations!
The past few months I have been getting to know a great group of new quilting bloggers, making new friends, fine tuning my blog, and learning a ton about quilting and blogging, as part of the 2014 New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop organized by Beth at Plum and June. Today it’s my day to tell you a bit about myself and my journey into quilting.
Tell us a little about yourself.
When I think about what defines me, “mom” is the absolute first word that arises. I’m a full time mom of two little ones, and to say my life is filled with that blessed duty is an understatement. I also have a degree in environmental science and a master’s degree in elementary education. I’ve worked as a lifeguard, an environmental scientist–wetland and land use specialist, an elementary school teacher, and a yoga teacher. I grew up in New Jersey, but now live in rural Maine and love it. I also love to garden to grow my own organic food, enjoy nature, practice yoga, and of course craft! I have always been crafty, and have dabbled in card making, scrap-booking, jewelry making, mosaic, polymer clay, painting, and more, but only recently found the fiber arts. Now my crafts of choice are quilting and knitting.
How did you begin quilting?
There are a few catalysts that propelled me toward quilting, from my lifelong sewist mother, a gift of a simple squares quilt gifted by my talented cousin Hannah, and of course my expert quilter grammy. Shortly after having my son, when I had a gift-quilt only half finished, I discovered that sewing 20 minutes at a time could result in finished projects. This was a revelation for me, and thus began the Night Quilter: I grab a needle and thread when the kids are in bed.
Show us some of your favorite finished quilts.
Click on the name of each quilt to visit its relevant blog post (when there is one). If there is more than one relevant blog post, I will link them all at the end.
Delight in the Little Thingsis a 12×12″ art quilt I made as a donation for a local Art Auction to benefit a couple faced with an expensive illness. It was inspired by a Facebook group called 12x12s with Cosmo and Cook, where a word is given each month and the goal is to create a 12×12″ art quilt inspired by that word. The word for December, my first month involved, was “Delight”. “Delight in the little things” immediately came to mind, and so I figured I’d make my art quilt out of 1″ squares (little!), featuring a tiny paper pieced sunburst star and a dandelion seed applique. I love the outcome, especially the yellow bits in the binding. For this quilt, it was my first time creating an art quilt, my first time making anything out of 1″ squares, I designed my first paper piecing pattern for the star, and it was one of my first times free motion quilting.
Rainbow Hugs & Kisses is the result of a test run of a paper piecing pattern called Oops, I Scrapped My Pants by ShannonMac Designs. I offered to test her pattern for her, but wanted to make something bright and modern. I am all about rainbow gradient, so that was an obvious add. The black and white stripey binding makes this one of my favorites, and it hangs happily on my craft room pegboard. The pattern is free in Shannon’s Craftsy shop, and it includes a tutorial on the freezer paper method of paper piecing, in case you’d like to make your own.
Lillian’s Baby Quilt is one of the quilts of which I’m most proud. It’s one of the largest quilts I’ve made so far at about 58×58″, I designed the outermost border including the heart corner stones, and I kind of went crazy free motion quilting it. It was my first large-scale free motion quilting foray and I dove in head first. I even FMQed alphabetical baby-related words around the outermost white border.
There are many blog posts outlining my process and featuring better photographs of the free motion quilting, here, here, here, and here.
I’ve also been designing paper piecing patterns. I tend to gravitate toward more modern quilts, yet I also love paper piecing. Go figure. Here are some of my latest paper piecing patterns:
Finally, I’ve posted my very first tutorial on Basic Foundation Paper Piecing. I’m working on a series to outline what next–now that you’ve made a paper pieced block, what can you do with it? Stay tuned!
To finish off my post, here are some tips and fun facts:
Blogging tip: Take great photographs. The aesthetic pull of an artistically arranged and naturally lit photo is STRONG. Learn to use the manual setting on your camera (try P) and wait for the right lighting. It makes a world of difference!
Quilting tip: Pressing seams open helps improve accuracy of piecing, and helps make matching seams a breeze. Also, when trying to match seams, pin right after the seam. This creates the least torque and at least in my experience, the most consistently matched seams.
Question for you: Who is your favorite fabric or quilt designer, and why? I have my top favorites, but I’d love to expand and see whose fabric you just can’t live without!
Fun facts: Dream vacation spot: Galapagos Islands Favorite book: tough question! My Side of the Mountain, 1984, or The Housekeeper and the Professor Favorite movie: Overboard, or Pride and Prejudice, the Colin Firth version Favorite TV show: I don’t have a TV, but I’ve been sucked into Downton Abbey on Netflix! Random bits:
After each blog post or email I write, I go back and take out 2/3 of the exclamation points and all of the :). I’m a happy, excited person but even I get annoyed when I read something with a gabillion !!!!!!
I hate olives. I try them every year to see if I like them yet, but I still hate them.
I was a competitive swimmer through high school and college. If you start talking swimming, I’ll talk for hours.
Now that you know more than you ever wished to know about me, go check out these other great bloggers involved in the hop. Have fun!
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 is on sale on Craftsy for only $1.50 through June 10th, when the price will go up to $2.50. Download it now, or use another beginner pattern of your choosing.
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?
I had never seen lupine before traveling to Maine, but now that I live here they are among my favorite flowers. There is a depth and richness to their color that force me to get really close and admire their intricacy. They are very advantageous growers, almost invasive, and the sheer numbers of lupine seen along roadsides, in fields, and in happy gardens make the color incredibly apparent.
Early in my sewing days, I was trying to think of a gift to make for my mother-in-law. I immediately thought of lupine, since they are her favorite flower. (If you have children, do you know the book Miss Rumphius? aka the Lupine Lady? Well that’s my mother-in-law–okay, it’s not really, but it certainly could be!) I had recently found paper piecing and wanted to make her a paper pieced lupine pillow. The only problem was that all of my searches for paper pieced lupine patterns came up empty.
Flash forward a month or so, when I discovered that I could design paper piecing patterns. A lupine flower was one of the first sketches I did. Talk about complex! I really wanted to get the heart-shaped petals into the pattern, but I knew it had to be fairly simple to be able to be pieced. I drew out a few sketches, chose my favorite, and began to try to break it down into logical pieces. My brain instantly scrambled. I had to put the pattern aside, and work on a few different projects for a week or two.
After that much needed breather, I picked up the lupine again one evening and smoothly worked it into numbered paper piecing sections. After a month or so of fine tuning and testing, the pattern is ready!
Don’t you love it!? I wasn’t sure about my fabric choices at first, but now that the block is done, I think they were perfect! They blend together just enough to give the flower depth without detracting from the congruence of the bloom.
This is not a beginner paper piecing pattern in that there are many pieces and a few sharp angles. There are only simple joining seams, though; no y-seams! If you have a good sense of paper piecing, this block shouldn’t be too tricky. It took me about 4 hours to complete and measures 10″ square (10.5″ with seam allowance).
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve watched this lupine block’s progression. For those of you who don’t follow me yet, here’s a peek at the process from my Instagram feed (@nightquilter). Of course these are taken with my iPhone during my late night quilting foray, so pardon the blur!
The back is my favorite! Stragglers hanging on after I’ve removed most of the paper.
The pattern will be available in my Craftsy Pattern Store by the end of today, so now if you need to make your mother-in-law (or mom, sister, brother, cousin, friend, or yourself!) a lupine pillow, wall hanging, table runner, bag, etc. you can get right to it!
This particular block will soon become a long-awaited Lupine Pillow for my mother-in-law. I’d say it was worth the wait.
This is my exciting Friday Finish, so I’m linking up!
I recently had the opportunity to test a new pattern by a fellow designer. Shannon of ShannonMac Designs created a new beginner paper piecing pattern called “Oops… I Scrapped My Pants”. I’m not typically a big scrappy quilt fan, but I was drawn to her various layout suggestions and so I offered to test it out.
Note that her pattern includes an easy to follow tutorial for paper piecing using the freezer paper method. I tested the pattern before the tutorial was finished, so I used my favorite paper piecing method instead–printer paper piecing, where you stitch along the lines on the paper and then remove the paper after the block is pieced. I’m tempted to give the freezer paper method a try after reading Shannon’s tutorial, though!
With my test quilt, I knew I wanted to incorporate a rainbow gradient since I’ve been ALL about color these days. Perhaps it’s the stark white environment outside: snow, snow, and more snow! I debated creating a large quilt with color gradient pants, I toyed with shrinking down the pattern to make each block 2″ or 3″ instead of 6″ so that I could have a full color gradient in a smaller quilt, and then I finally settled on stitching together some wonky, scrappy rainbow fabric panels and using them to get the full gradient in four pairs of pants.
I’m also all about love, so it seemed only right that I make those rainbow pants into a nice big X and O. Hugs and kisses!
I’m finding myself drawn toward modern quilting more and more, so I went for a modern look with this mini quilt. I opted for some echo straight-line quilting to emphasize the X and O. My Clover Hera Marker was the perfect tool for marking out the quilting lines! Being new to quilting, I am still too nervous to use any kind of “disappearing” fabric pen or other marking tool to actually write on my quilt before quilting. A hera marker is great, since it simply indents the fabric, creating a clear yet mark-free line. You can see how clear the marks from the hera marker are, and they certainly helped me find those perfect intersection points!
I used the walking foot for my borrowed sewing machine for the first time while quilting this, and boy was it fun! I can see why quilters swear by them! I’m really looking forward to quilting a larger quilt with the walking foot to really see its even-feed skills in action.
I love how this quilt turned out! The pattern is a very basic, beginner-friendly paper piecing pattern, and is extremely versatile. What can’t you do with scrapped pants?!
The day after I finished stitching the binding to the back of this quilt, we got another massive snowstorm, which dropped another 18″ of snow–yes, in March! It provided the perfect backdrop for a rainbow quilt photo shoot.
Now this bright mini quilt lives happily on my craft loft pegboard, brightening up my sewing space.
I definitely would recommend this pattern, for both beginner and seasoned paper piecers. If you’ve been wanting to try paper piecing, this is your chance to learn the freezer paper method. Shannon is offering this pattern and tutorial for free in her Craftsy store, so hop on over and check it out!
I grab a needle and thread once the kids are in bed