Thursday, January 29, 2015

All of the arrows

February is my month to pick out a design for the Believe circle of do, Good Stitches and I just can't get arrows out of my head. They're everywhere right now! I have a Pinterest board where I've been saving some of my faves, and there may be a feather or two that snuck in there too. I mean, they totally go together, right?

Schnitzel & Boo's Mini Quilt

Intricately paper pieced or totally improved, they are all great. There are tons of patterns out there so I will leave this month pretty open as far as what you make. Send me some arrows, any arrows you'd like to make. I don't mind putting a small feather or two in there but I'd like to keep it mostly arrows. As for size, I will leave that open too but please try to send the equivalent of two 12 1/2" blocks.

Our own Sarah {no hats in the house} made up this adorable feather block
For colors, think fresh and springy like the palette below. Prints and solids are both fine but I'd like a background of solid light neutrals - white, cream, light grey, khaki. If you need a little extra definition in the form of a deep brown or black in your arrows, that's okay, go for it. Just have fun with these!
The Perfect Palette: Bouquet

One more fun example:

arrows by Jenny Makes Stuff

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Who's down with FPP?

Paper piecing - yuck. It's hard, right? I used to feel that way but not anymore! It can be so much easier than you're making it. Really, who wants to spend any amount of time ripping paper out of seams while hoping you don't rip the seam along with it? How about all those times when you put the fabric wrong side up, or it doesn't quite cover the piece it needs to and then has to be ripped out - but it has all those teeny tiny stitches! Terrible, I know. But the precision is awesome and so I had to find a way to make it work. I ended up finding several different tutorials that used freezer paper piecing (FPP) to do this and it rocked my paper-pieced world. Seriously. Read on to see how I do it while keeping my sanity.

For this, I'm using the 12" Tallahassee block from Quilters Cache. It's a cute but simple block. Feel free to print out the templates on some freezer paper to follow along. For my paper, I use a roll of Reynolds that I got at the grocery store. I've had it forever and there is a ton left. You can also get it at Amazon. I've heard it can shrink a little the first time you use each piece so I iron it to my ironing board before printing to pre-shrink it. 

You can print right onto the paper with your ink jet printer. Make sure you print on the paper side and not the waxy side of the freezer paper. Cut out each template, adding 1/4" seam allowance to all 4 sides if it is not already included in your template.

Once you've got your templates, you'll want a hot dry iron, rotary cutter, any small ruler with a 1/4" line, and a small cutting mat. I keep this tiny cutting mat right at my machine so I'm not running back and forth every time a sew a couple of inches. I'd never get anything done! I also keep my ironing board right next to the machine when I'm doing this.

On each printed template, you'll want to crease the paper on each of the seam lines. I find it easiest to use my ruler edge to help me with this.

When all 4 pieces are creased, they should look like this. For those of you totally new to paper piecing, we will be sewing the pieces in order of the numbers on the template.

Next we're going to get the fabric for section 1 (the center) ready. For these templates, a 3" x 4" piece is more than large enough. Put your #1 fabric right side down on your ironing board and center a template on top of it. there needs to be at least 1/4" extending past each line you'll be sewing on for the seam allowance. Once you have it where you want it, iron it down. Do NOT touch your iron to the waxy side of the paper or you'll have some iron cleaning to do.

With fabric 1 secured to the paper, fold back on the line you creased between sections 1 and 2. Using your ruler, trim that fabric down to 1/4" past the fold. Here's where it's handy to use an Add-A-Quarter ruler so you can butt the fold right up against the ruler. Any ruler with the 1/4" mark will work though and I tend to use whatever is closest.

Trim off that extra past the 1/4".

Now grab the fabric for section 2. A 3" square cut on the diagonal (either before or after attaching to the template) is plenty big. With the template still folded back between 1 and 2, put the #2 fabric right sides together with the #1 fabric.

Holding your template and fabric up to a light or window, make sure the #2 fabric extends past your folded paper. You can see the shadow in my picture just outside of the folded triangle - that is the edge of my #2 fabric. It's extended past the paper - and therefore more than 1/4" past the block - so I know it's safe to sew it down.

Take the piece to your machine and sew right next to the fold. You want to sew as close as you can to the line without sewing through the paper. You'll want to sew past the paper template on both ends of the seam and your machine should be set for a regular stitch length. That's right - no teeny tiny stitches for us since we're not trying to perforate the paper while we sew!

Here's what your seam should look like after this step. If at this point you realize your fabric #2 was sewn upside down, unpick and try again. It's just a regular stitch length, no big deal. Hold it up to the light again if you like, to verify that the fabric is still covering the full section.

Again with the 1/4" ruler, trim the extra fabric away.

Flip it over, open the seam, and press to the paper. Again, make sure you don't get any wax on your iron. You can iron it with the waxy side down if that's easier for you to remember.

Here's what the other side looks like so far.

Fold back the line between sections 1 and 3 and repeat what we just did. The same 3" square cut on the diagonal is big enough for this piece. Fold section 3 back, line it up in the light or window, sew it down, then press it to the paper.

Voila! We've got 3 sections on, 2 to go.

Sections 4 and 5 are pieced the same way as the others. Fold the paper back, trim the excess from section 1, hold to the light to make sure your fabric for section 4 is the right size. A 2.5" x 3" rectangle will be enough for 2 pieces but because 4 and 5 are opposite directions, you'll need two rectangles for this block.

After attaching sections 4 and 5 your template is now done! It should look like this from the back and front. Trim all around the outer edge to 1/4".

Finish sewing the other 4 quadrants in the same manner we've done this one. It's coming together now!

Gently peel the paper away from each of the 4 pieces you've sewn. Your template can be used several more times before it loses it's waxiness and no longer sticks to the fabric. I've used them up to 10 times, which explains how my roll of paper lasts so long!

Sew your 4 pieces together to finish this little block and congratulate yourself on turning paper piecing into an easy and much more fun technique. Now make 3 more sets and you've got yourself a 12" block. 

Any questions? I'd love to see any blocks you make using this technique! Just leave a comment below with a link. Thanks!


* some affiliate links above

Friday, January 9, 2015

Free Motion Friday: Forest Abstractions

Several months ago I got to be a pattern tester for Violet Craft's Forest Abstractions pattern. There were several animals to choose from and I went with the lovable coyote. Isn't he cute? I knew that I would eventually add another friend or two and make him into a baby quilt. When my sister found out she was having a boy, it was time to finish this quilt.

I pieced a little mouse at the Seattle MQG Retreat in November and finished by putting the two together. As with most of my quilts, it was the right size when I had used the fabric I had to make it as big as possible. Also like the others, I didn't bother to square it up before quilting. I mean, what's the difference if it's cut off before or after it's quilted?

The quilting on this one was SO much fun. I wanted to give them a little layer of pebbles and swirls to stand on so that is what's going across the bottom of the quilt. For the expansive negative space along the top, I really wanted to practice Angela Walter's signature design. I love the way that one looks. I tried out several designs for that middle section but I was just stuck until my friend Megan suggested some organic straight vertical lines to fill that space. It was just right.

All that was left was to give the coyote some fur, some seriously messed up eyes (really, don't even look for them), and a little quilting on the mouse too.

Finally finished, I gave this quilt to my nephew for Christmas. He's not old enough to like it or not yet but he did look pretty happy on it! And I've assured his mom that he can spit up to his heart's content all over this. Gotta love that neutral Osnaburg background!

Monday, January 5, 2015

I guess I've been busier than I thought!

A lot of people have been doing posts about how much they have made throughout 2014 and it got me wondering about my own finishes. Turns out I made 12 quilts this year! 4 of them were mini quilts, 2 were baby sized, and the rest were at least a throw size. Awesome! [side note - I still need to share that adorable Forest Abstractions finish with you - watch for it this Friday.]

1. A little Christmas cheer #lastminutechristmassamplerqal #stitchessleepover #FMQ, 2. Theo loves his new buddies! #babiesonquilts #forestabstractions #allofthecuteness, 3. Quilted and faced, details on the blog! Link in profile., 4. Mermaids, 5. Finished my mini, just needs a label., 6. Iridescence: a play of lustrous, changing colors., 7. Metallion, 8. Ocean Current, 9. Love My Life, a quilt with heart, 10. MQG Riley Blake Challenge finished! A rainbow of plusses for Lucy., 11. Not available, 12. Evergreen State Fair

Of course I also sewed quite a few other things. Check it out - apparently I sew a lot of bags and pouches. And I can think of at least 2 more special zipper pouches I made that I don't have pictures of.

(sorry, I didn't get the links but these are all on my flickr or this blog)

I even managed to finish up a few goals AND remember to link them up to A Lovely Year of Finishes in time!

1. MQG Riley Blake Challenge finished! A rainbow of plusses for Lucy., 2. Sewing Room Swap package sent, 3. Iridescence: a play of lustrous, changing colors., 4. Finished up your Super Tote last weekend - I hope you like it partner!5. Mermaids 6. Washi

So long as we're talking about goals, let's go back to that list I made a few months ago. I've actually finished some of those items! I made the teal Julia Cardigan and it was a major fail but I've since made a better one and have fabric cut out for one more. I also finished both Forest Abstractions and Falling. I've also made a good dent on starting several of the projects I had not at the time of the list.

I think for my January ALOYF goal, I will finish the Talahassee quilt top. I really want to have it done before I go to Quiltcon next month so I can take it to an Angela Walters class for input. I've made some more blocks since this photo and I kind of have an idea of how I want it laid out.

Alright, that's enough for one day. I'll be back Friday for sure. See you then!


Friday, December 26, 2014

Free Motion Friday: Bright paper packages tied up with string

Christmas is my favorite holiday though you wouldn't know it from looking at my house this year. Usually I have a tree and all sorts of decorations but it just seemed like too much work this year. It would mean packing up and moving some of my fabric and sewing stuff and I just did not want to do that. But then I saw the blocks that Julianna of Sewing Under Rainbow was making and I caved.

There are so many adorable Christmas blocks in her Last Minute Christmas Sampler Quilt Along! But it was the girl with the pile of presents that did me in. Such a great paper pieced block. I picked my colors, grabbed my scraps and whipped this baby right up. And I love her!

Christmas was just around the corner so I got right to work quilting her. The background is a shimmery print that looks like snow so I swirled it around like a blizzard. For the presents, I just outlined the boxes and the ribbon to make them pop a little.

She now has a happy home on my wall for the rest of the season.

You should definitely have a look at the rest of Julianna's blocks. They are all amazing and all free. So nice of her! There's also a linky here for completed projects with these blocks. I'm off to link up and check out the others now. Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Pencils and Tapes and Zips, oh my!

A few months ago, after practicing some FMQ pencils, my friend Lysa asked if I wanted to swap pouches. She makes the most awesome things so of course I said yes.

I got to practice the pencils a little more and make a pouch at the same time - pouches are my favorite to make. My go-to is Noodlehead's Open Wide pattern. I really like being able to open the pouch all the way but really, it's the easiest way for me to make the zipper look neat on both ends.

I thought about using a few different fabrics for the lining but went with Happy Zombie's oh so adorable Sew Yummy zippers. I mean, really. Could these be any cuter?!? I was even happier with myself when I made a zipper tab out of the same fabric. I think I might use this fabric for every zipper tab ever from now on.

Lysa and I were able to meet up to trade pouches over the weekend. It's so much fun to meet online friends in real life! She lives just a few hours from me and came into Seattle with her family for a few days. She made me the most awesome cassette tape pouch. I love it! It's the perfect size for my Juki feet so I'll always have it by my machine. And those Cotton and Steel selvage labels? Love!! She also included some sweet printed zippers and C+S charms. I think we both ended up pretty happy with this swap!

Merry Christmas Eve!