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 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

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

I'm down with epp

and I got the t-shirt to prove it! This is limited edition by Samarra Khaja for Pink Castle Fabrics. I am hoping they will do more designs because it's brilliant. The ink is silver metallic (but not glittery) and the t-shirt is so soft, I got mine oversized so I could feel comfy and wear it with jeans or leggings for everyday. This is definitely my new favourite t-shirt!


I have been doing some epp, working on a couple of cute appliqué patterns that I will show you soon.

The urge to do some hand quilting has been strong, so I got my Star Crossed quilt basted and will be getting on with this whenever I can!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, 14 September 2015

wilderness ~ le challenge ~ pyjama leggings?!

Funny how I've had longer to work on this project and yet I produced something so simple! I had a few ideas for the theme Wilderness but I've had this fabric in my stash for a while and wanted to use it. I came across this simple tutorial and thought I'd give it a go for my middle daughter. Well 15 minutes later I had these:

So I didn't really think about it and used a pair of tighter jersey pyjama bottoms as a template. Yeah, doesn't translate so well in not stretchy cotton!! They look more like skinny jeans or leggings but she was certainly happy with them (and wore them all afternoon!).

I would definitely make these again (and actually have more of this fabric) and I will remember I'm going for roomy pjs rather than leggings!!

The cute woodland animals fit the WILDERNESS theme. If you have any makes that fit the theme come and link up at le challenge (and there's a giveaway)!

Le Challenge

Monday, 7 September 2015


With no plans this weekend we hit the parks...

Wythenshawe Park is fairly local to us, it had a beautiful historic hall that I took some pictures of because I would love to create a quilt pattern based on some of the shapes.

Those flowers were huge!

Then on Sunday we went to the stunning Yorkshire Sculpture Park. One of our favourite places to visit and this time we saw Poppies: Wave by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper; Bob and Roberta Smith: Art For All and Rob Ryan: Listen to the World amongst many more fabulous artists throughout the park.

I also got some wonderful stash additions this week. The incredibly kind Molli Sparkles sent me a package after I won his giveaway and some extra florals, which he knows I love ;) I'm in Liberty heaven and have never owned pieces this big! Liberty EPP plans are afoot!

And a couple of places had New Look pattern sales recently so I took the first step in my dressmaking journey and bought some:

I try to take advantage of sales when I can!

Speaking of... 

Green Fairy Quilts have a Labor Day sale on (which ends tonight so hurry!), use the code LABOR at checkout for HUGE savings on already great prices across the store! These are just some of their gorgeous new arrivals:

Fat Quarter Shop is also having a brilliant sale, with 20% off all Layer Cakes!

Check out their newest Shortcut Quilt, Star Cakes. A free pattern that uses one print Layer Cake and one solid Layer Cake!

The week feels like it's off to a good start, maybe it was all that fresh air at the weekend, I'm feeling exuberant and am tackling my to do list with fury! Let's hope I can keep it up because it's a pretty long list ;)

Molli Sparkles

Friday, 4 September 2015

I can change my world with colour

I created an embroidery a little while ago and used the design to create a colourful patchwork hoop which is featured in Issue 14 of Quilt Now this month (and on the cover!! yippee!). 

It is really fun to mix embroidery and quilting since I love them both! I enjoyed playing with my scraps and laying out what would become the log cabin. Often times I use my floor as a design board and this helped me visualise how it would ultimately look:

Hoops are easy ways to brighten up your space or to give as little gifts and this one works as a nice reminder for when you are creating.

I epically failed to take a picture of the finished hoop myself but you can see it here (shamelessly nicked from the Quilt Now website!)

I originally used the embroidery pattern in another project, some of you may remember the nail polish manicure bag I made adapted from the free Fat Quarter Shop Nail Polish Pattern:

Well here is the other side of that bag!

It works so nicely in that context :) 

It could be used for a make up bag or artists case too. You can get the pattern and instructions for making the hoop version in this months Quilt Now! It will also be available at Pink Castle Fabrics if you want to add it to your basket ;)

Should you stitch this up and use it in any of your projects please do let me know, I would love to see!

** US peeps feel free to drop the 'u'! When tracing the pattern just move the word color slightly to the right to keep the pattern centred.

linking up:

double the trouble at Quokka Quilts and Crazy Dutch Bird Quilts this week!
and finish it up friday at crazy mom quilts

Modern Background - Paper ~ Green Fairy Quilts giveaway winner!

Sorry this is a little late, I went out with a friend and we chatted the night away.

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! I have to say some of the answers were really poetic and made me feel happy to welcome autumn.

The winner of the Modern Background - Paper layer cake from Green Fairy Quilts is:

Congratulations Quilting Momma I have sent you an email :)

I hope everyone is having a great week and don't feel sad if you didn't win there will be another giveaway on my blog very soon!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Stitchy Pie - embroidered sampler needle case

This is one of my favourite things I have made! I wanted to teach an embroidery class and it's always nice to have something useful at the end of a class and you learn a new technique. My inspiration was a folded fabric needle case I received in a swap a couple of years ago and thought it could be a great way to show off pretty stitches. *Edit - the needle case I was kindly given in the swap was made by Cara of Pink Stitches.

The stitches range from basic to slightly more complicated and are all stitches I love to use in my embroidery. 

I chose a palette that feels quite folky, with a mix of subtle and bright colours. I used a combination of Aurifloss embroidery thread and perle cotton. The blue fabric reminded me of denim and the pop of the geo print from A Little Bird Told Me by Lewis and Irene makes me smile. 

I added a magnetic fastener so it stays nice and secure when you're carrying it around and you can use the different sections to separate your needles. In mine I have written the various types of needles I use at the top of each section so I know which ones to use! You could even embroider them if you wanted to.

I will be teaching my Stitchy Pie class on Thursday 26th November, all the details of my classes are posted HERE. See the Patchfinders website for a list of all the classes and how to book. Booking Day is tomorrow, bookings are being taken in person from 9:30am and on the phone from 11:30am.

**UPDATE! The pattern is now available to buy, click here or visit my Etsy shop. This is slightly different, the magnetic closure proved to be too strong so I recommend using a snap. The pattern includes full instructions and templates.

✓ another check off my finish-along list!

My needles are in order and it's time for me to get back to some hand sewing, these clam shells are calling me :)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced