Today I’m excited to share the release of Pinnacle, the block I designed for OLFA’s 40th Anniversary Quilt Along! It’s been quiet over here on this blog lately, with summer adventures and family time filling my days. Now that school has begun, perhaps that will provide some space to write here more often. I’m hoping that this space is like an old friend–there may not be posts every week, but when there is one, it’s just like jumping back into the conversation, comfortable as ever.
Let’s start with this fun block! When OLFA invited me to design a block for a Quilt Along for their 40th Anniversary of inventing the rotary cutter, I jumped at the opportunity to help celebrate with this great company. Just think about it—40 years ago, quilters were tracing out quilt pieces using templates and pencil, and cutting out each square with scissors!! The rotary cutter is such a key invention in helping with accuracy and speed of cuts, and I’m grateful for OLFA’s giant contribution to the quilting world. I also happen to love using OLFA products and have come to trust the quality and reliability of their rotary cutters, rulers, mats, and other tools. I also kinda LOVE the multitude of colors they offer for their Splash rotary cutters! OLFA certainly makes my life easier, both by their reliably sharp tools and the ready-to-roll photo props!
OLFA requested that we create a block with OLFA rotary colors (at the time, the colors included yellow, pink, aqua, and purple), with celebrating 40 years as a focus. I chose to name my block Pinnacle, combining a celebration of a high point of achievement for OLFA—40 years since the invention of the world’s first rotary cutter!! and my love of the sharp points that result from foundation paper piecing, with an added nod to the mountains upon which I love to hike. A fairly simple foundation template is jazzed up with the use of a pre-sewn panel of fabric as the peaks, creating a fun block that will look slightly different every time you sew it.
I decided to use the purple shade and chose a small gradient of fabric in the magenta-purple fade I love so much. I chose three Alison Glass prints, which most likely comes as no surprise! The darkest purple/magenta is SunPrint 2018 Compass in Jam, the middle tone is an old one from Alison Glass SunPrint 2014 called Bike Path (I believe it was also printed as part of her Lucky Penny fabric line, so googling or Etsy searches may find some left!), and the lightest is a fabric from her Insignia 2019 fabric line. I love the way the bike path dots add fun tracks of snow down these pinnacle points! Paired with a white solid background, this block is simple and graphic and provides lots of fun for experimentation.
This block includes a fun twist to foundation paper piecing, since you premake a panel of fabric that is used to to fill each mountainous space. This means that every block you make will be slightly different, which to me equals fun! To find the instructions for this block, head over to the OLFA Quilt Along Gallery HERE.
I also was honored to be asked to photograph the full OLFA 40th Anniversary quilt, where you can see how the finished Sew Along Quilt may look. Isn’t it fun!? Do you see my block?
Today I’m excited to reveal the block I designed for the Splendid Sampler 2 book: Adventure Abounds, found on page 122. Those of you who know me are most likely not surprised by this block one bit! For those of you who are new, welcome! I’m Kitty Wilkin, aka Night Quilter, and I’m so glad you’re here! I am a full time mom of three kiddos in rural Maine, but I’m also a pattern designer (EPP, FPP, traditional piecing–I love it all!), quilt and product photographer, teacher, social media manager for the Quilter’s Planner, AND an avid fussy cutter, which I prefer to call meticulous cutting. I’m often inspired by the natural world around me, and when Pat and Jane asked me to design a block reflecting my best quilty life, I knew it had to include family adventures in nature tied together through the creation of a quilt. With strong influence from my Summer Adventure quilt pattern, this block has a bit of everything–sea, trees, and lots of love!
Today I am going to share 3 tips for using fussy cutting in foundation paper pieced blocks, using my Adventure Abounds block from the Splendid Sampler 2 book. If you’re new to foundation paper piecing (FPP), read my beginner basics FPP tutorial HERE first to make sure you know all of the key components and basic tips. Then let’s dive in!
There are a few things you should remember before beginning FPP: First, the templates are a mirror image of the finished block, so when planning your fabric placement, visualize the right side of your fabric on the back of the template. Second, I highly recommend color coding your paper templates before starting so that you know exactly where each fabric should be. Third, don’t forget to use paper scissors to cut out and trim the templates! Your fabric scissors don’t want to go there!
Once your fabrics are selected, your templates are cut out along the 1/4″ seam allowance line and color coded, you’re ready to dive in. Here are three tips for using fussy cutting in FPP:
1. Place your fussy cut on piece 1
One of the easiest ways to use fussy cutting with FPP is to position your fussy cut fabric on the very first piece placed. With this method, simply hold your fabric up to a light source on the wrong side of the paper template, aligning the fabric motif you want to feature. Use a little dab of washable glue stick to hold it in place, and then continue piecing the rest of the block as you normally would. Your fussy cut can be perfectly positioned with very little effort. Depending on the block you’re creating, even this little use of fussy cutting can create quite an impact.
As an example of this for my Adventure Abounds block, I decided to position a subtle bird in the sky above the ocean, and held it up to a window to make sure it was positioned exactly how I wanted it. With a white on white background for my blocks, this example is subtle, but sometimes those subtle details are my favorite!
2. Create templates
Another way to make fussy cutting a bit easier while foundation paper piecing is to create a template for the pieces you wish to meticulously cut. You can use template plastic for this, or can even repurpose clear plastic lids to food containers. You want to use something that you can see through or at least trace through using a light source.
To create a template, first trace the shape from the paper foundation template onto the plastic. Be sure to label your piece, AND make note of directionality since the paper template is a mirror image.
Once I trace the shape, I flip over the template plastic and write my notes on the opposite side, so that when I cut the fabric for that piece, I know that my notes should be legible on the right side of the fabric.
Next, using a quilting ruler with 1/4″ measure, draw seam lines 1/4″ outside all the edges of your drawn lines.
Cut out the template along that seam allowance line.
Repeat for all of the shapes you want to fussy cut. You can use the clear templates to be sure you’re cutting your fabric piece exactly as you want it. Note that you will want to use all of the tips outlined in this tutorial when piecing so that the perfectly cut piece of fabric gets sewn in exactly how you want it.
For my block, I decided to fussy cut the heart so that the fabrics for the two pieces of the heart look continuous despite consisting of two fabric pieces. I decided to make a third reference template of the full heart and traced the pattern from the fabric onto the template, which I used as a reference when cutting out each individual part.
Once you have your template positioned over the exact motif you want, carefully trace around the template with a fabric marking tool and cut out the fabric, or very carefully use a rotary cutter to cut around the template. Note that with planning templates made with template plastic or repurposed food lids, using your rotary cutter contains a good level of danger–so either purposefully live on the wild side, or use the trace and cut-with-scissors method!
Your perfectly planned fabric piece is ready to carefully stitch onto your growing foundation paper pieced section.
Because this piecing is quite meticulous, you’ll want to be sure to align this next piece perfectly before stitching.
Folding along the seam on which you are about to stitch and trimming the overhanging fabric to 1/4″ will help you line up the next piece accurately.
You can also fold over the piece you are about to stitch along the seam line to see how it looks before actually stitching.
Note that meticulous cutting is exactly that–meticulous. Be sure to be meticulous in all phases of this process to get the best results. Also, be gentle with yourself. This is not easy! Use a stitch length that you are comfortable ripping out if needed to get those first fabrics lined up. I give myself a Rule of 3 when stitching any block: I’m allowed to use my seam ripper to rip out progress and make it align better 3 times during the stitching process for any block. Once I hit my 3 times, I need to just accept the imperfections and move on. We are human, after all. But don’t be afraid to try! As with anything, the more you practice, the easier it will get.
Once your fussy cut pieces are cut and stitched as desired, continue piecing your non-fussy cut pieces as you would any other FPP block.
3. Focus on the joining seam
A third tool to use while fussy cutting in FPP is to pay close attention to the edge of the motif you want to feature. This works particularly well for lining up directional prints along the seam line, or for less precise fussy cuts.
This method is used for any piece AFTER the first piece placed. If your fussy cut is the first piece, use Tip 1!
In the Adventure Abounds block I made for the original Splendid Sampler 2 quilt, I used this tip when piecing the text on the tree, specifically the word “love”, since the word “listen” was the first piece placed, and was therefore easy to simply glue in place and piece around. Knowing that I wanted the top of the word love to be juuust below that darker top piece, when I cut the square of fabric I carefully cut just a tad bit more than 1/4″ from that top edge of the word love. I left the rest of the rectangle of fabric a bit larger and less specific, since as long as that edge lined up properly, the rest didn’t matter.
With the Adventure Abounds block I’m making for my own Splendid Sampler 2 quilt, I am not using as finicky or directional of fabric for the tree, so there is no need for fussy cutting. However, I wanted to control the directionality of the fabric in a few of the waves, so that the dots on the Cotton and Steel basics and the wavy paths on the bike path fabric by Alison Glass ran parallel to the seam line. The piece is not the first one placed, so I couldn’t use Tip 1. All I want to control is the directionality of the fabric, so making a template seems like more work than is necessary. Enter Tip 3: Focus on the joining seam.
Whenever employing any type of meticulous cutting in your FPP, it’s always a good idea to trim your 1/4″ seam allowance before positioning and stitching your fussy cut shape. To do this, simply fold back the foundation paper along the line you are about to sew on, and using a quilting ruler with 1/4″ measure, trim the fabric 1/4″ away from the fold. (Obviously use a cutting mat underneath! This photo shows without the mat for aesthetic consistency). Once your fabric is trimmed, you have a clean line with which to line up your next meticulously placed piece.
This also helps facilitate another key FPP tip, which I originally learned from Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced, and which has saved me countless brain-scruntches trying to be sure a fabric piece would align properly on wonky angles in FPP.
When your paper is folded along the seam-to-be-sewn, you can place it on your next fabric (right side up) and the paper shape as folded will be exactly on top of the fabric that will end up in that space once you sew along the line. Be sure to visit Lee’s tutorial for a perfectly clear and in depth explanation–it’s truly life changing when it comes to FPP!
What that means for us is that with that clear 1/4″ seam line showing us the direction we want our print to go, simply lining up the folded seam line with the directional print will ensure the pattern runs in exactly the direction we want. Fold up the edge a bit to peek under and make sure the pattern is positioned the way you want it, then without changing the position of the fabric, fold the paper back up and sew along the line.
You will end up with your directional fabric meticulously positioned along the seam line, just how you wanted it. Paired with that fun bird flying over the ocean that we placed using Tip 1, these tips can help take your foundation paper piecing blocks to a whole new, intentional level.
Here’s the block I made for my slowly growing Splendid Sampler 2 quilt, about which I’ll show you more soon! I’m creating monochromatic blocks and using an alternate rainbow layout I sketched out in my Quilter’s Planner. This Adventure Abounds block will be positioned in the teal row, but as you can see, it is transitioning to the green. I made a compromise from my monochromatic-rule for this block, since I make the rules around here anyway! ha!
Okay, just one peek at my planned layout and a few of my blocks so far. A full look will come in its own blog post soon, so be sure to follow this space!
Thank you so much for joining me today–I hope this tutorial is helpful and entices some new fussy cutters to try adding some meticulous cutting to their foundation paper piecing! Please show me what you’re making and either comment with a photo, or tag me on social media @nightquilter . Most of all, have fun!!
If you’re sewing along with the Splendid Sampler 2 excitement, be sure to head over to the Splendid Sampler website, and post your completed Adventure Abounds block. There is a fun Martingale book giveaway for one lucky person picked from the blocks shared on their website.
Have fun with your Adventure Abounds block, and may your adventures abound!
Do you remember The Splendid Sampler, the epic sew along from a couple of years ago organized by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson that included 100 blocks and sooo many of our favorite quilty bloggers? On Tuesday, Pat & Jane announced that because their first sew along was so successful and so much fun, they are doing it again with the release of The Splendid Sampler 2!
I’m excited to share that I was invited to contribute a block to The Splendid Sampler 2 party, and I happily obliged! There are still a lot of unrevealed details around this splendid sequel, so I can’t tell you anything else about my block, but I am excited to get started sewing along!
The Splendid Sampler 2 book is now available for preorder on Amazon (no affiliate link), and will include 100 unique blocks, all finishing at 6″ square. To mix things up this year, and to let everyone get in on the fun a bit early since the book won’t ship until mid-October, Pat and Jane are giving away the first 20 blocks free, beginning on June 14th. Here’s the plan:
▪ Between NOW and June 14 there are some fun things planned ▪ June 14 – Sew Along STARTS with one block a week on Thursday ▪ Nov 1 – the 20th block is given out ▪ Dec 6 – we start sewing from the book with blocks announced on Thursdays. ▪ May 2 is the planned end date. So it’s a full year of fun!
I won’t be sewing ALL of the blocks, but I do plan to sew as many as I can! Can you guess the color theme I’m planning? As my mom always said, “I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.”
Back to my regularly scheduled stitching and mommy-ing. I hope to have more to share here soon!
After a longer than intended lull in blogging, I’m back and eager to share my reflections, process, and creative adventures with you! I’ve said it before, but beginning is the hardest step. I got stuck in a cycle of the longer I waited, the harder it was to simply jump back into blogging. Today, that ends. What better place to begin than with community and some of the fun sew alongs and bees taking place this year, as well as my grand plan for stress-free participation in them!? Soon I will share my goals, focus, and “one word” for 2017, as well as some of the other fun projects on which I’ve been working. For now, hello!! It’s great to be back, and I’m excited to share inspiration and creativity with you again!
The online quilting community is known for its welcoming vibe and almost endless opportunities to sew together virtually if not in person. There are so many fun Sew Alongs and Quilt Bees happening at any given moment across the quilting community, it’s often hard to decide which ones to join and which ones to pass on. I’ve joined a few Sew Alongs in the past, typically the block-at-a-time style–specifically the Farmer’s Wife led by Angie at Gnome Angel, #100days100blocks also lead by Angie on Instagram, and the Quilter’s Planner 2016 Scrappy Picnic Plaid Sew Along led by yours truly on Instagram. I had a lovely time participating (and still participating) in them, but found that I often cannot keep up with the pace because of other obligations. For 2017, I think I’ve come up with a plan to address that and turn it into creative opportunity!
First, here are the Sew Alongs and Bees I’m currently committed to participating in:
Hosted by the Sew Along Queen, Angie from Gnome Angel, this sew along is a given for me! Using the block instructions on each weekly spread in the 2017 Quilter’s Planner, Angie’s leading this sew along to encourage and support you to make each block each week. Visit her page HERE to read all the details, as well as to see how you can join. This is a great sew along for those looking to get into a regular sewing habit. Plus, it’s a chance to use your Quilter’s Planner to its fullest!
Molli is hosting a quilting bee that breaks all the rules–as he says, you get none of the sting, and all of the sticky goodness! I love the relaxed mentality about this bee, and it’s a little extra exciting since I’m one of the Queen Bees for April! Here are the details, straight from Molli’s announcement post:
Each month there are two queens (and/or kings, but for the sake of brevity will be called queens) who decide on The Honey Pot Bee block patterns. Each queen picks one, I announce them to the world, then each participating member (Princesses and Princes) can choose to make one of each or two of the same. Each member then keeps the blocks for themselves.
This is less of a block swap, and more of a way to find amazing block tutorials / patterns they never knew they wanted to try from other amazingly talented people. Some of the blocks will be original patterns from the queens, some will be existing tutorials from world class quilters. That will be up to the queens to choose.
The benefits for Participant Princesses and Princes: They get to use their own fabric that they’ve been stashing They improve and stretch their own skills They work to their own timeline There is no pressure No one is disappointed if they’re late They act as their own quality control They meet a group of like-minded, inspiring individuals They see the varying potential of each block Participating with me
I love this idea since I really don’t *need* another project, but I do love the community that is built around quilt bees and sew alongs. I love that Molli encourages you to make only the blocks you love, and that there are two unique options each month. Once I came up with my 2017 grand plan (more on that below), this one definitely needed to be added to the pot! Get all the details HERE.
This is another fun weekly sew along hosted by Angie, using Pen and Paper Pattern’s Garden Snail Quilt. I think these snails are super cute, so I am joining in the fun, but plan to make only a few snails to add to the mix of the rest of my blocks. The gist of this Sew Along is easy… you simply make one block each week and post it on social media of your choice on Snail Sundays. You can find all the details HERE.
So now… for my Grand Plan that makes all of this not only manageable, but also fun!
My Grand Plan
Ready? I plan to participate in all of these sew alongs and bees, but with NO pressure. I am not playing along for the prizes. I’m playing along for the community and the recurring “deadline” to make a block and share it. I plan to use the same fabric pull and color scheme for all three of these bees/sew alongs, and combine all of the blocks together at the end of the year into a (hopefully) queen sized quilt for our bed. This way, I can make the blocks I really love, whenever I have the time to make the block, and I won’t need to stress when either life obligations kick it up a notch, or I have another project that needs my attention. As they say in hashtag land, #winning!
I’ll write more about this in another post, but I plan to use a color palette based upon the Pantone color of the year for 2017: Greenery. While green is not a color I’ve sewn with in large quantities before, it speaks to me on many different levels–from the freshness of the color, the vibrant hope that comes from new life in the spring, to the rich green that abounds in the environment around me–which as you know, I love dearly–, to the simple challenge of making a quilt with no final assembly pattern, and no guidelines except color. I’m both invigorated and scared at this plan, but as is my style, I’m jumping in with abandon, holding onto the hope that I can pull it all together into something epically beautiful (or at least tolerably pretty) at the end of the year.
For those of you who excel at fun and clever naming, I am trying to decide on a name for this greenery quilt project and am open to any suggestions or ideas! I want to select a name for this quilt so that I can tag all of my progress together across the bees/sew alongs, but “Kitty’s Greenery Quilt” sounds a bit flat. Maybe Night Quilter Hugs Trees and Bees? LOL #NQhugstreesandbeesquilt Uhm….
I’m looking forward to sharing my progress here, and thank you as always for following along with me on my creative journey, during waves of profuse creativity as well as lulls of relative quiet. I hope 2017 is off to a great start, and I’m looking forward to creating with a hopeful heart this year.
It’s official. I completely understand the draw and very well may be hooked to meticulously cut scrap quilts! I have been having so much fun putting together my Scrappy Picnic Plaid quilt for the Quilter’s Planner 2016 Sew Along on Instagram. The pattern is by Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced, and is one of the fabulous quilt patterns included in the 2016 Quilter’s Planner. It’s technically my first scrappy quilt, and to add to the fun, I decided to make it an Eye Spy quilt for my 4-year old son Max.
It is such a great feeling to be creating for one of my children again (Finn’s quilt blocks are still sitting in a stack, untouched since that 12 month milestone–yes, that’s next on my list!). Every time Max sees the progress, he says, “This is fantastic!” with the enthusiasm only a four-year-old can exhibit. There’s nothing like an exuberant cheering squad to keep the motivation burning brightly.
We are in the second week of sewing for the sew along, so hopefully I will have the quilt top completely sewn together by Monday. Time will tell if I actually meet that goal with all of the kids home and lots of family Thanksgiving time on the docket, but I’m hoping to at least be close!
I’ve completely finished all of the rainbow center portions, and am diving into piecing the white-grey-black border portions of each block. I love how the rainbow gradient ended up, and it is so much fun to see little peeks at previous quilts through the scraps used here.
I put a few contingencies in place to ensure that I love this quilt even though scrappy quilts are not typically my style, and I think they are proving to be quite successful. First, I used a very large ratio of Alison Glass fabric in the rainbow portions of each block. I love just about all of Alison’s fabric, so letting her color palette and fabrics play a strong hand is a surefire way to ensure I will enjoy looking at the quilt when it’s finished.
The next two will be a lot easier to see once the neutral outer portions of the blocks are complete, but I’ll mention them anyway. Second, I am using all one solid (Kona medium grey) for all of the “light grey” pieces in the pattern, instead of an assortment of scraps. This will provide a consistent and solid resting place for my eyes, just in case I get overwhelmed (although at this point, I have a feeling I’m going to LOVE looking at this quilt, so it might not have been needed). Third, I am using all of the same silver stars on black fabric for the centers of the lighter rings in the pattern, and light Lizzy House Twinkle Twinkle from her Whisper palette (Andover Fabrics) for the centers of the dark rings. Again, a little detail that will be consistent throughout, amidst the scrappy remainder of the quilt.
I love seeing my favorite designers’ fabrics together, too. The top right block in the photo above combines my favorite Carolyn Friedlander fabric from her first line Architextures (Robert Kaufman Fabrics) and the fabulous Alison Glass Grove in Grass from her Sun Prints (Andover Fabrics). They are the perfect compliments to that sweet little mushroom in the middle! Love.
If you want to spend the next week sewing to catch up, you still can join in the sew along (there are some fabulous prizes still to be won, too!); get all the details here. Also, now is a perfect time to order the 2017 Quilter’s Planner–for yourself so that you can join in on the *Spoiler Alert!* 2017 Sew Along during an inspired and productive year, and as gifts for all of your creative friends and family!
Okay, back to sewing and baking!
Many wishes for a peaceful, healthy, happy Thanksgiving spent with family and friends. I’m grateful for you and your continued support and inspiration in this wonderful quilting community.
I’m linking up with Let’s Bee Social since I haven’t linked up on here in far tooooo long!
I did it again. I said yes. I couldn’t help it; it was for a friend! Over the past few weeks, I’ve been helping my good friend Stephanie (the mastermind behind the Quilter’s Planner and the one and only Late Night Quilter) with the Instagram feed for the Quilter’s Planner. She’s up to her eyeballs in getting the amazing 2017 Quilter’s Planner printed, proofed, boxed, and shipped to your doorsteps, and so I offered to help her spread the word via my favorite social media application–Instagram. Extra points to you if you’ve recognized my style over at @thequiltersplanner Instagram feed!
Not only that, but today we are kicking off the inaugural Quilter’s Planner Sew-Along over on Instagram, with the Scrappy Picnic Plaid quilt pattern by Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced, one of the fabulous patterns included in the 2016 Planner. Apologies to those of you who are not on Instagram, since this Sew-Along is happening only on IG (you can still watch the progress by checking the #QP2016SewAlong hashtag and feel free to sew along, but you cannot enter to win the prizes along the way without a public Instagram account. Hopefully next time!)
Here’s the information and schedule!
Quilter’s Planner 2016 Sew-Along!
We are so excited to announce the kick-off of the very first Quilter’s Planner Instagram Sew-Along, taking place over on the Quilter’s Planner Instagram feed! While we all eagerly await the arrival of our 2017 Planners, let’s sew up a pattern from the 2016 Quilter’s Planner! Sew along with us as we make the Scrappy Picnic Plaid quilt by Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced, one of the fabulous patterns included right in your 2016 Quilter’s Planner. Don’t have the 2016 planner? Don’t worry—you can purchase the pattern right from Lee’s shop HERE and still sew along with us.
There will be great prizes along the way, generously sponsored by Handiquilter, Aurifil Thread, Threadcutterz, The Quilter’s Planner, and Stephanie herself at Late Night Quilter! There will be a BIG grand prize at the end (pst… new sewing machine plus more!), eligible for all of you who share a photo of your completely finished Scrappy Picnic Plaid quilt! To join in this Sew-Along you do need a public Instagram account.
This pattern is super versatile and perfect for using up scraps! Make as a holiday gift, a scrap buster, or just a fun project with your quilting friends. The Sew-Along will run now through the middle of December, giving a little extra time for the piecing and quilting steps to allow for family time around the holidays.
*Note: For every photo you post on your Instagram account tagging @thequiltersplanner and #QP2016SewAlong, you will be entered into the running for the giveaways along the way!
October 24th – Quilter’s Planner 2016 Sew-Along Kick-off! (Spread the word with #QP2016SewAlong!)
WEEK 1: October 24-30th
Get the pattern! You have one week to get your hands on the Scrappy Picnic Plaid pattern so that you can sew along with us! Find it right in the Patterns section of your 2016 Quilter’s Planner, or buy the pattern HERE if you do not have a 2016 Planner (be sure to order your 2017 Planner now so you don’t miss out on next year’s fun!) Share the graphic on Instagram to show the world you’re in on the Sew-Along, using hashtag #QP2016SewAlong !! (Note that the more photos you share and tag on Instagram, the more entries you have to win prizes along the way!)
WEEK 2: October 31-Nov 6
Choose your fabrics. Dig through your scraps, visit your local quilt shop, or swap with a friend. No matter your methods, gather your fabrics and show us what you’ll be sewing with! Scrappy or solids? Holiday prints or rainbow fun? Post a photo of your fabric choices on Instagram tagging #QP2016SewAlong !
November 7th – GIVEAWAY #1
WEEK 3: Nov. 7-13
Cutting. Post photos on Instagram showing your cutting progress, tagged with #QP2016SewAlong.
November 14th – GIVEAWAY #2
WEEK 4 & 5: Nov 14-27
Sewing together the blocks and quilt top. You’ll have 2 weeks to sew your blocks and piece your quilt top! We will be sharing progress and encouragement on @thequiltersplanner Instagram feed, and look forward to sewing along with you! Again, post photos on Instagram showing your piecing progress, tagged with #QP2016SewAlong to enter the giveaways.
November 28th – GIVEAWAY #3
WEEK 6 & 7: Nov 28-Dec 11
Quilting and finishing. You’ll have 2 weeks to quilt and finish your Scrappy Picnic Plaid quilt, and we will be cheering you on!
December 12 – GIVEAWAY #4
WEEK 8: December 12-16
Final Link Up. You will have one extra week to finish up any final touches needed to complete your quilt and get the perfect photo of your completely finished and quilted Scrappy Picnic Plaid quilt on Instagram, tagging #QP2016SewAlongFINISH to be entered to win the Grand Prize!
December 17th – GRAND PRIZE
Winner chosen from finished projects tagged #QP2016SewAlongFINISH!
For now, go ahead and grab your 2016 Quilter’s Planner and flip to the pattern (or buy the pattern HERE), reserve a Project Planner Page in your Quilter’s Planner for the Scrappy Picnic Plaid Sew-Along, and repost our graphic on Instagram announcing that you’ll be joining the fun! Please be sure to tag @thequiltersplanner and #QP2016SewAlong in every photo so that you can be entered into the running for the great giveaways along the way!
We are excited to sew along with you!
Have any questions about the sew-along? Email email@example.com and I’ll do my best to answer them promptly! Please keep in mind that we are full time mamas (with too many kids to count), so patience and kindness are appreciated! We are SO looking forward to sewing along and sharing inspiration with you!
The school year is winding down, which means teachers’ gifts are at the forefront of my mind (along with excitement–and trepidation!–at the prospect of summer adventure day trips with all three kids). When Fat Quarter Shop invited me to join this Simper Zipper Bag Sew Along, I thought it would be a perfect teacher’s gift project. I stitched up three of the large zipper bags, added some chocolate and a personalized thank you note from my 3 year old son, and viola! Perfect heartfelt teachers’ gifts!
These zipper bags are SO easy to make, and Fat Quarter Shop has a very clear instructional video tutorial that you can find here:
The construction of the bags is brilliant, since the lining and the outer panels are quilted together and then simply sewn together and bound–so easy! I definitely will be going back to this pattern for future gifts, and I’m thinking of making a few more to stash coloring supplies for my kids in my purse for when extra entertainment is needed.
This is admittedly the first time I’ve made handmade teachers’ gifts, but my son’s preschool teachers have done such a fabulous job supporting and guiding him this year, that I felt I really wanted to express my gratitude. When I asked Max if he had any idea what colors might be his teachers’ favorites, he said, “Alllllll the colors!” That’s my boy. I figured I probably couldn’t go wrong with a rainbow-esque bag, especially for preschool teachers.
I decided on a gorgeous Amy Butler fabric from my stash for the backings and then used it to pull a coordinating rainbow of some of my favorite fabrics. You can see Alison Glass, Carolyn Friedlander, Cotton + Steel–they’re all there!
I chose to use strips of fabric instead of mini charm squares, and arranged the fabrics in a way that worked with the three zippers I had on hand, making each bag unique while still having the same general aesthetic. I used the edge of my walking foot to space horizontal straight line quilting on the front, using my go-to thread, 50wt Aurifil 2600-Dove. It blended perfectly with the “I love you” appliquéd hand while providing some subtle texture and interest to the rainbow fabrics.
I lined my bag with an appropriate Cotton + Steel print, Study Hall in Black and White from their Black and White Collection.
I love the neat detailing that results with the construction of this bag. Sewing in the zipper is made SO easy, and the top stitching frames it nicely.
More about that “I love you”; I think the American Sign Language (ASL) sign for “I love you” is known pretty universally, but in case you’re not familiar with it, the appliqué on each pouch is a tracing of my son’s hand making the “I love you” sign. My son is hard of hearing and wears hearing aids (when we can convince him to keep them in), and so he has a communication facilitator in addition to his two amazing teachers. His communication facilitator was fantastic, signing to him all day to increase exposure and familiarity to sign, since we are all trying to learn ASL as a family, and ensuring he heard directions during the day. The entire preschool class learned some sign language throughout the year, and the three teachers worked so well together to help ALL of the children in class have the best experience possible. When Max gave the gifts to his teachers, the “I love you” appliqué of Max’s hand was met with “awww” and a few misty eyes. I think the zipper bags were a win!
How would you use one of these Simple Zipper Bags? Be sure to visit Fat Quarter Shop and the other bloggers’ posts to see their creative takes on the pattern:
With a block like Autumn, it’s easy to get daunted before you even begin: 37 pieces in one 6″ block!? Ack! But wait! This is a perfect time to practice looking at each block’s construction creatively. If there’s one thing this sew along has taught me, it’s that there is nearly always a faster and easier way to approach block construction than purely cutting out all of the pieces and sewing them together. With a few shortcuts and piecing tricks, Autumn comes together quite smoothly. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to make half square triangles (HST) 8 at a time (Yes, 8! We make all of the HST needed in this block at once), use strip piecing to save a bit of time, and fill in the gaps using Marti Michell templates (Set B and Set N are helpful with this block) or rotary cutting to help make putting Autumn together as easy as watching falling leaves.
As you may have noticed, I used different locations for the orange and black fabrics in the center square than those used in the book. I’d like to say it was intentional, but lo… it was not. I did not even realize my error until this entire tutorial was finished, photographed, and scheduled to post, as I was proudly admiring my block. When I realized my error, at first horror swept over me. Then, after Angie’s reassurance and another look at my block, I decided that Autumn was a good place for a design change. After all, it’s my quilt! I encourage you to remember that during this sew along, and don’t be afraid to make your quilt your own, with a hefty dose of gentleness toward yourself if when you discover an error after fully completing a block. Call it an unexpected design element. AND take this as an extra reminder to double check your fabric placement and choices BEFORE sewing your block together!
For those of you reading this who are not sewing along, one of my favorite aspects of this sew along is that each block in the book is inspired and accompanied by a letter written by an actual 1930 farmer’s wife. It has been inspiring to see how similar these farmer’s wives’ dreams, desires, troubles, and day-to-day struggles were to mine, and to hear their often uplifting takes on life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read the letter with tears in my eyes, nodding a resounding “yes!” as I relate my own life to the words on the page.
I know Angie said that blocks were allocated completely randomly, but this letter was meant for me. This woman is me! It was both surreal and somehow encouraging to read that even those hard working, ever-positive farmer’s wives embraced the NEED to make time for themselves. A few months ago, I created a hashtag (#sewtake20) in an attempt to encourage other busy moms (and myself!) to make time for themselves 20 minutes a day, no matter how crazy the day, how high the stack of dishes, and how all-engulfing the mountain of laundry. Wise L.O.L. from Iowa recognized the need to nourish body and soul back in 1939, despite her full plate. While she took a precious half hour and I’m striving for only 20 minutes, it still helps me to not feel so guilty doing the same here in 2015.
For this block, I specifically chose fabrics with small or nondirectional prints, so that I could quickly piece the components without worrying about fussy cutting or directionality. The #9C pieces are a small exception, since I gave a tiny bit of focus to fabric alignment. Note that I am arranging my final layout on-point, but for the purposes of being consistent with the diagram in the book, this tutorial pieces the block squared. If you plan to set your blocks on-point, be sure to account for that with any directional fabric placement.
This block is composed of 8 HSTs, 8 rectangles, 9 squares, and 4 triangles. I first cranked out the bits I could make quickly and efficiently, namely the HSTs and the center square. Let’s break it down.
Making 8 HSTs at Once
In the book, the print and coral fabrics were used to make the #9F HSTs. Choose your coordinating fabrics (I used black and orange).
Cut one (1) 5″ square from each. Note: If your HST-making skills are on point and you want to conserve fabric, you can use 4 3/4″ squares. I prefer to play it safe and trim a bit more to ensure my HSTs are perfect.
Right sides together, draw diagonal lines from corner to corner, making an X. You only need to mark the wrong side of one of the squares.
Pin your squares together to keep them from shifting, and sew 1/4″ from the right and left of both lines. This is a good time to confirm the accuracy of your 1/4″ seams.
Carefully draw a line down the middle of the blocks in both directions. I used the 2 1/2″ line on my ruler to help make sure my line was square. You should now see a plus and an X.
Cut along the marked lines. Press open.
You now have 8 HSTs! I typically press all seams open, but with HSTs I press to the darker fabric since I use my Bloc Loc rulers to trim them to size. If you don’t have Bloc Loc rulers, feel free to press seams open, and align the 45 degree line on your ruler to help trim to the size indicated on the #9F template in the book.
You can also use Marti Michell template N79 to trim to square, too. Be sure to center your diagonal seam in the centers of the two holes in the template to trim evenly.
Do a little dance and set those 8 HSTs aside.
Strip Piecing the Center Square
Because the center square is symmetrical, two of the outer edges can be strip pieced, saving you a bit of time and thread.
In the book, the coral (#9D) and yellow (#9G) fabrics with a tiny center square of print (#9E) were used. I should have used black, yellow-orange, and a tiny center square of orange, but as I noted above, I made an inadvertent design change and went with orange, yellow-orange, and a tiny center square of black. Wrap your brain around which of your fabrics belong where for your block, and here we go. **Really, take a moment and make doubly sure you have the right fabrics. Got it? Great! We will be strip piecing the two rectangles composed of #9G and #9D.
Cut two (2) 1 5/8″x 3 1/4″ rectangles of your #9D fabric and one (1) 1″ x 3 1/4″ rectangle of your #9G fabric. (Math aside: The 5/8ths” mark is the little line right after–aka a bit larger than–the 1/2″ mark on your ruler.)
Right sides facing, sew the #9D rectangles to the center #9G along each long side.
Cut in half as shown to create two (2) 1 5/8″ x 3 1/4″ rectangles. We will call these your #9DG units.
Using the rotary cutting measurements provided in the book’s cd, cut two (2) #9Gs and one (1) #9E.
Assemble as shown. Note that I rotated the bottom row 180 degrees so that the direction of the yellow-orange fabric radiates outward from the center.
Sew your strip pieced #9GD units to the top and bottom of your center piece to create the center square.
Sewing Tip: When matching seams, pin directly after the seam join to prevent slipping. Also, take a moment to match up the seam lines on the opposite raw edges, too. While it is not a sewn edge, it will help keep the sewn edge level.
Cutting the Remaining Pieces
Now we need four (4) #9D squares, four (4) #9C rectangles, and four (4) #9A triangles. These remaining pieces can be cut in a very straightforward way, by using the rotary cutting instructions or paper templates included, or using Marti Michell templates. I’ve found that using the Marti Michell templates really help me line up different units accurately, so I opted to use those for the triangles and rotary cut the squares and rectangles. Here’s how:
Cut a 1 1/2″ x 6″ strip of your coral-equivalent fabric (I used black). Subcut the four #9D squares, per the measurements provided in the rotary cutting instructions or with Marti Michell template N79.
Cut a 1 1/2″ x 10″ strip of your print-equivalent fabric (I used orange). Subcut the four #9C rectangles, per the measurements provided in the rotary cutting instructions.
Cut a 2 1/2″ x 7″ strip of your print-equivalent fabric (I used orange). Using Marti Michell template B13, subcut four (4) #9A triangles. If you don’t have the Marti Michell templates, you can use the rotary cutting dimensions or paper templates provided on the book’s accompanying CD.
Assembling the Block
Now that you have all of the necessary components, lay them out to make sure you have all of the pieces aligned properly (pay particular attention to those sneaky HSTs). Tip: Take the time here to focus and be sure that all of the pieces are arranged properly, heavily referencing the picture in the book. The HSTs are particularly sneaky. Once your block is perfect, take a picture with your phone and reference it heavily throughout the piecing process. It takes less time to stop and lay out your pieces to check the arrangement than it does to seam rip once you’re finished!
First, sew the #9A triangles to the center square as shown. Begin with two opposite sides. Press seams open.
Sew on the remaining two triangles. Press seams open. Your center square should now measure 4 1/2″ including seam allowances.
Pair corner #9B squares with their neighboring HSTs and sew as shown.
I like to chain piece steps like this, and as I pick up my pairs of squares to sew, I align all of the to-be-sewn edges so that I don’t get mixed up between my cutting/arranging table and the sewing machine.
Sew HST-corner square units to center #9C rectangles to create the top and bottom rows.
Next we will sew the middle row together. Sew the HSTs to the side #9C rectangles as shown.
Again, pay close attention to the alignment of those HSTs! They like to do somersaults on the trip to the sewing machine if you’re not super careful!
Sew side HST-rectangle units to center square.
Sew top and bottom rows to the center row. Tip: This is another great place to match bottom seam lines as well as those right at the sewn raw edge. There are only two seams to match! I love this block! Press all seams open.
Gaze lovingly upon your Autumn block and think, “Gee, that wasn’t so bad! But it sure took me longer than a precious half-hour!” (and if you’re me, about 45 minutes later realize in horror that you botched the center square’s fabric placement, then decide that your Farmer’s Wife quilt deserved some individuality anyway, and let it go.)
Thank you so much for joining me today and I hope you found this tutorial helpful! This is the last tutorial before the Christmas break, which begins tomorrow and lasts through the first week in January. I know I am hoping to do some serious Farmer’s Wife catch-up amongst all of the festivities. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a very happy New Year to you all!
The Farmer’s Wife quilt is one that while straight-up traditional, I’ve been itching to make for a while now. I’m not technically a farmer’s wife, but I certainly live in farm country and some of my closest friends are farmers (I’ll call mine the Programmer’s Wife in Farm Country quilt). There was just something about the idea of reading “inspiring letters from farm women of the Great Depression” and then making the respective quilt blocks that really appealed to me. Inspiration plus quilting: what’s not to like? When Angie asked if I would join the official bloggers team for the sew along, I knew that this was my chance–how could I say no?
Over the course of the year, Angie and the blogger team (including me!) will share tips and tricks to help you create all 99 blocks from the book, 2 per week in a non-chronological, easy to more difficult, order. Blocks finish at only 6″ square, and can be paper pieced, hand pieced, you can use templates, do English paper piecing, use a rotary cutter and sewing machine, or try all methods. I will most likely use a variety of methods, heavily favoring the rotary cutter-machine piecing and foundation paper piecing options.
I have my book, took it for a little photography tour of our homestead, introduced it to our chickens, and have been thinking about how I want to make my quilt. I really lean heavily toward the modern aesthetic, so I want to try to make this uber traditional quilt “night quilter style”. We’ll see if I can pull it off.
The fabric pull is pretty predictable, but this time instead of a simple rainbow gradient, I want to play with warm vs. cool colors. I’m planning on making the warm colored blocks with a black background and the cool colored blocks with a low volume/white background.
I really like how fiery the warm colors look paired with black.
Conversely, the cool colors look almost icy paired with the low volume/whites. I’m really hoping I can find a layout that emphasizes these visual characteristics!
Now that I have EQ7, it makes playing with layout options *really* quick and easy. Knowing that I am a busy, busy mama of three and that there is a decent chance I won’t be able to make ALL 99 blocks, I’ve opted for a layout that includes whole cloth background squares between the blocks, as well as sashing. I plan to use Essex yarn dyed linen in charcoal for the whole cloth background squares, or *maybe* (with the last layout) a gradient from even lighter to darker. Here are some of the layouts I’ve played with. I haven’t landed on one I LOVE yet. What do you think?
Note that rather than buy the entire Farmer’s Wife block file for EQ7, I just used some of the free quilt blocks included in the program. I made them the colors I wanted and then used them in duplicate to get the general aesthetic of the quilt.
Layout 1. This one feels too stark to me.
Layout 2. Note that I’ve pretty much decided I’m not going to use this layout. It’s easy, sure, and looks great, but I want to try to stretch my color play muscles a little bit.
Layout 3. I like this one, with consistently colored sashing and background/filler squares. But I’m still not sure it’s exactly what I want. I want to create the effect of the fiery warms rising to meet the cool colors, which are dripping to meet and mingle with the warm.
Layout 4. I like this one more than Layout 1, but I’m still not sold completely.
For now I will plan to start making my cool/warm blocks when the Sew Along begins in two weeks, and will continue to play with layout until I find one I love. Will you be joining in on the Farmer’s Wife Sew Along? If you do, be sure to join the super active Facebook group, too. It will be a fun journey!
I grab a needle and thread once the kids are in bed