Tuesday, 6 October 2015


This morning I had the saddest news from my dear friend Nat, she very tragically and unexpectedly said goodbye to her beautiful 10 month old boy this morning. 

I am still in shock and have cried all day. It's heartbreaking and can't stop thinking about her and her beautiful family. I want you all to know that she is a creative, honest, thoughtful, funny and gorgeous woman, wife, mother and friend. I could write so much about why I admire and respect her but it doesn't really matter. What matters is showing her I care, we care, and trying in a small way to comfort her.

Only when I realised Nat had shared the news herself did I ask on social media for people to help me make her a quilt. She has, in my opinion, exquisite taste so I want to make something neutral and calming. Today is the worst day and there will be more hard days so I would like to be able to send her some peace.

If you would like to contribute to the quilt please make a 9 patch block using 4.5" squares, so the finished block is 12.5". Please use mainly white, cream or soft colours. If you know Nat and have some fabric you think she'd like feel free to use that too. 

You can DM me on instagram, send a message on facebook or leave a comment below with your email to request the address to send a block to. I am not adding names to the quilt but if you would like your name adding to a card for Nat and her family please include a note with your name when you send the block.

Thank you for your support and helping me show Nat our love.

If there are more than enough blocks for one quilt I will make charity quilts with the extra blocks and find a suitable charity to donate them to.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

living by the day ~ Aunt

#8 Aunt
Life can be overwhelming, the demands and worries can easily take over, and this letter is a nice reminder to "take one day at a time". I chose my fabrics to represent day and night. The square in the middle is like sun down on the horizon. I hope to fill my days "with work well done" and let "tomorrow take care of itself". A productive day is so rewarding and to me this block represents that warm feeling at the end of a good day.

Here are my three blocks so far, which are all English Paper Pieced, you can read about the first two in this post:

I picked up some fabric to add to my Farmer's Wife 1930's stash when I was at Patchfinders. It is hard to find the right kind of brown but I was drawn to this pretty bronze metallic; Brilliant Christmas by Stof. These Clover Black Gold Needles are amazing, my favourite needles for appliqué. The black plating wears away once you've been using them for some time, which is a good way to know you need to change your needle. They are light and thin but very strong and work perfectly with Aurifil 50 wt thread.

As well as sewing I have been on a health kick, drinking green smoothies each day (as well as regular meals not as a substitute) and trying to exercise more. I tried the 30 day shred but quite honestly I wasn't inspired. It is hard enough to motivate myself to exercise but if I don't enjoy it then there's no way it will be sustainable. So I've gone back to some old favourites:

      Kathy Smith - Timesaver Lift Weights to Lose Weight

It's been a while but I remembered the choreography for the hip hop one and I enjoy it. I wouldn't bust these moves at the club but it's ok for dancing round my living room ;)
I can't recommend Kathy Smith highly enough. I have this Timesaver DVD and the second one as well (they aren't available on Amazon UK but you might find them on ebay? You can get them on amazon.com in the US).
I love doing hand weights and after I read this book I realised how important it is, especially for women, to stay strong - not just for weight but for bone health and more.

So I'm making the most of my days and coincedentally doing things that will help my future, which can't be bad.
Hope you've all had a lovely weekend!


Molli Sparkles

Friday, 2 October 2015

my stumbling Clam Shell block, discounts and a winner!

It was a beautiful sunny day today, I sat and stitched in the garden and finished the Clam Shell block for my green tea and sweet beans quilt. I had to give it a quick rinse with cold water to get rid of the pen marks (I use this Sewline Styla pen and really recommend it!) and then hung it to dry in the sunshine.

I traced the clam shell template on to the fabric using my lightbox and then used needle turn appliqué to stitch them in place.

I used some of my very favourite and special fabrics on a pretty background of Lilium, Gossamer by Sharon Holland. The repro and modern mix brings me joy.

This was my 'stumbling block', the one I was scared to try, but was really fine. I think no templates, no papers, no real guidelines was the frightening aspect but actually the outline of the clam shell shapes provide all the guidance needed. I would not necessarily recommend it as the first block you do if you are new to needle turn appliqué but if you can appliqué a circle you will have no trouble!

What is the block or pattern you are or were most scared to try? Let me know your stumbling block in a comment!

If you're on instagram show me a picture and tag it with #stumblingblockquilt, I would love to see what you made despite the fear :)

On to the winner of the Sew & Quilt paper pieces giveaway...

Congratulations Fiona! I have sent you an email :)

Finally if you are wanting to add to your stash or need some notions, there are some amazing discounts to be had...

Green Fairy Quilts currently have 40% off all their notions and 40-50% off Fat Eighth Bundles, with free US shipping and discounted international shipping it's a great time to stock up (no code necessary). With greats like the Sewline Glue pens and refills, wonderclips and rotary blade refills you definitely don't want to miss it!

Pink Castle Fabrics have 20% off all books and magazines with code BOOK20 and they also have crazy low prices in their sale section, with some fabrics at just $4 per yard! (oh yes I snagged some of those!)

Fat Quarter Shop are having a sale with 20% off Cotton & Steel fabrics with the code CS2015 until Sunday 4th October at 11:59pm CST. I find I'm using Cotton & Steel in almost all my projects, such gorgeous prints and colours!

Wishing you all a happy Friday!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

quilt for the soul ~ Becky and Bonnie ~ Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt Sew-Along

Today is my first post as a guest blogger for the Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt Sew-Along with Fat Quarter Shop and Gnome Angel. It is such a thrill to be part of such a dynamic and assorted Sew-Along!

The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.

I will be showing how I constructed #12 Becky and #16 Bonnie using English Paper Piecing, as well as sharing general tips that apply no matter what piecing method you use.

Please note this is not a tutorial on how to English Paper Piece (epp), if you would like to learn I recommend this tutorial by Clare at Selfsewn - I had never done it before I came across her blog and she taught me well! There is also a great tutorial by Angie at Gnome Angel, which includes how to glue baste. If you would prefer to watch a video I suggest this one by Jen Kingwell and Fat Quarter Shop.

To get the papers for the block I simply printed the diagram (from the CD that comes with the book) and cut it up. Make sure your printer is set to 100% or not scaled, to check measure the whole block. The benefits of using the diagram rather than the templates are that you only need to print one sheet of paper, it's much easier to cut with fewer lines and you know it will still perfectly fit together!

There was no grand plan when it came to fabric selection, I chose a limited palette of navy, coral and mustard brown (is that even a colour?!) but knew I would add to it with whatever else I felt like. It wasn't until I actually got the book that I decided what I wanted to do. The letters really spoke to me. I'm sure that sounds very hippy but that's all right! I felt so moved and it is already my favourite part of sewing a block, it is enjoyable to meditate on the words while I sew. 

I am choosing to read the letter and pick fabrics based on:  the overall theme / a word or phrase that stood out or inspired me / the feeling provoked by the letter. 

#12 Becky
Treat yo self! I included strawberries and a tape measure as a reminder to spend time on things I enjoy and to have little "goodies".

To make the most of these fabrics I did some fussy cutting (to select the part of the fabric I wanted for a specific part of the block). I did this the old school way by holding the fabric up to the light and pinning the paper on the back.

The beauty of sewing by hand and doing English Paper Piecing is that the blocks go together just as pictured. I like to think of it as a puzzle, you separate the components and then build the block back together.

For those final longer seams, or where you have points meeting, I like to use clover wonder clips to hold the pieces as I sew them. It really helps stops my hands from cramping.

#16 Bonnie
"The strong winds of trials and tribulations" was the perfect opportunity to use the Zephyr Gale print and the dandelions are to me a symbol to "look for the good side". Nature is out of our control but our own nature and how we handle life is within our control.

Again I built the block up step by step:

It is very easy to make a neat block when you English Paper Piece and everything lines up nicely.


- I think it is worth deciding whether you want to have your blocks on point (as I am and as the author Laurie Aaron Hird did) or whether you will have them be square (as you see them in the block assembly part of the book). It makes a big difference if you are fussy cutting fabrics! Having said that, quilts that are used get seen from all angles so don't worry too much about it ;)

- While I was putting the blocks together I literally turned the book so it would be on point, this just made more sense to me and meant I was sure I was sewing the pieces correctly.

- I will be probably not English Paper Piece all the blocks, I would like to do some hand piecing as well and think that will be easier for the blocks that have more smaller pieces.

- Don't worry about mixing methods for the sew-along! If you would like to try and English Paper Piece one or more blocks you can easily gain back the seam allowance around the edge of the block when you remove the papers. Just be sure you add 1/4" around the paper when you baste your shapes. When you pull the threads out or unpeel the fabric the block will measure the same size as ones that are paper pieced on machine or hand pieced.

- I recommend thread basting if you know you want to English Paper Piece the whole quilt because it will last and you need the papers to stay in to sew them together.

- Glue basting is quicker. Since I am going to hand piece some and English Paper Piece the rest of my blocks (therefore don't need the papers to stay in) I will glue baste from now on.

- Hand sewing is always going to be slower than machine though. I'm happy with that, I enjoy the pace and find it relaxing. The sew-along is going to take a year and I don't need to rush it.

- Check out the English Paper Piecing tutorials back up there at the top of this post! If you have any other questions about epp or my blocks just leave them in a comment and I will answer you :)

I hope you find some of that useful and that you might be encouraged to try English Paper Piecing.

Head over to Oh How Sweet to see fellow guest blogger Melissa's blocks and tutorial!


Are you joining in the Farmer's Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt Sew-Along? How are you piecing your blocks and are you trying anything new?

Monday, 28 September 2015

Sew & Quilt giveaway!

**giveaway now closed**

I am excited to share a lovely giveaway from Sew and Quilt, a beautiful online shop full of gorgeous fabric, a great range of English Paper Pieces and much more... in fact everything you need to make your own fabulous EPP creations. 

Here's a little bit more info about the English paper pieces from Jessie:

Prices start at just £2.25 per pack, with bulk packs available in most shapes/sizes with a 10% discount applied. Each pack comes with basic instructions and tips for beginners. Paper shapes are made (in England! yay!) using FSC certified paper, which ensures our paper products come from well managed forests that provide environmental benefits. I'm in the midst of adding my 'EPP basics blog series I did last year on the Sew and Quilt website so there will be a complete guide for newbies in a easier to find location, just have to get round to finishing it! :-) 

I also stock supplies for EPP including the popular Superior Bottomline threads which are ideal for EPP! Tulip Hiroshima needles (I use the size 10 Milliners for EPP) Clover wonder clips and of course Sewline! Here's the hashtag for people to share what they're up to: #SewandQuiltPaperPieces

The Sew and Quilt Paper Pieces are excellent quality and come in useful shapes and sizes. Jessie sent me some to play with and it was great creating different shapes and ideas for quilt patterns. With so many quilts on the go though I decided to create some fun designs to appliqué on tea towels, after all I can never have enough tea towels and it's more fun when they look cute!

I was in a sweet summery mood and made some ice cream cones, then I thought why not be greedy and have a whole bowl?!

The paper is nice and strong, more like thin card actually, so the shapes can be reused at least a couple of times. I only used a few to make these designs but have saved them all for a bigger project in the future!

Since it is clearly actually autumn now I also created a little pumpkin. Ok I have to admit I sewed the stalk on upside down and it looked like an apple but with some green tendril stitches it's a bit more pumpkiny!

So would you like to get your hands on some English paper pieces?

Sew and Quilt is kindly offering UK and European readers a chance to win these packages of triangle and kite shapes:

**the giveaway is now closed**

You have two chances to win (and you must be in the UK or Europe to enter):

1. Leave a comment on this post, you could tell me what English Paper Pieced project you're working on, what you love about it and why you would like to try it!

2. Sign up for the Sew and Quilt newsletter HERE and then leave another comment telling me you subscribe to the newsletter.

The giveaway is open until 2/10/15, the winner will be chosen by random.org and announced on the blog.
Please leave your email in a comment so I have a way to contact you! e.g. ilovepaperpiecing (at) quilting (dot) com

Good Luck!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

that time of year

I have a cold. A horrid one. It's sticking around and I would like to shake it off!

I keep flitting between projects, partially because I can't focus and also because I have a lot to do. I finally started the clamshells for my green tea and sweet beans quilt, despite having cut them out ages ago. 

I was scared to needle turn them but it's no different from other rounded shapes I have done... something about them just intimidated me. Maybe because I love them and every time I see someone's quilt or project using clamshells it looks so good I told myself I couldn't do it. Shut up self, I can! (Or at least, I will try!)

Scrolling instagram I saw the most adorable pink unicorn needle minder from Amanda @whatthebobbin. I had to have it and ordered the cute tape measure in a jar one too! They are so well made and really strong magnets. I can't wait to get back to doing some embroidery and cross stitch so I can use them. She sent me this cute pineapple pin too! Check out her instagram, she has so many gorgeous needle minders you won't regret it.

I am glad for the start of autumn today! I love this time of year (and winter) and have already started wearing all my comfy cardigans and jumpers. We also love Halloween in our house and there is a lot of discussion about costumes and decorations. I couldn't resist joining in the Halloween Haunts 2015 blog hop, hosted by Marian. Looking forward to seeing everyone's spooky makes!

Halloween Haunt 2015

I am so thankful for my wonderful husband, I have needed a break and a chance to rest, so on Sunday he entertained the kids by making a puppet show with them. It was a wonderful performance! Any guesses as to what the story was?! 

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced