It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’ve had a very good reason!
My eldest daughter was married this week in England. The current pandemic meant the original guest list was whittled down to 6, the date brought forward a day, no bridal party, no photographer, no reception, a last minute change of vicar and no honeymoon! Poor things!
That being said, we had a lovely simplified day celebrating together! It has been almost a year since I’ve seen my girl and it was so good spending a few days together.
So time to update you on our Kindred Spirits Quilt-Along!
For the past 2 weeks the ladies have been working on a Foundation Paper Pieced 18″ block called Solidarity Star.
In the 18th and 19th Centuries, Foundation Piecing was popular as a way of stabilising fabric by sewing it first onto a foundation of either scrap fabric or muslin or paper (often old letters!). It is a similar technique to English Paper Piecing where fabric is wrapped & secured around paper shapes before being sewn together.
Paper foundations are torn out after sewing, whereas fabric foundations remain in the finished project.
Today, our cheaply produced and widely available paper is the most commonly used foundation, with block design becoming more elaborate achieving complex and precise piecing.
Freezer paper can also be used in Foundation Piecing. In this instance the finished size of each shape is made from freezer paper with the fabrics being cut 1/4″ wider. Unlike Foundation Paper Piecing, you don’t stitch through the freezer paper, it is simply peeled off after the fabrics are pieced together.
As part of our Quilt-Along, we will be learning the non-freezer paper method and sewing directly onto our paper templates.
Because of the complexity of our Solidarity Star we are taking 2 weeks of the QAL to make our block. And I’m seeing fabulous results in our private Facebook Group!!
Foundation Paper Piecing is one of my favourite patchwork techniques! I just love all the crisp lines and points you can achieve!
If you’ve never tried Foundation Paper Piecing why not have a go with some simple tutorials and shapes to get a hold of the technique. There are some great tips for Beginner Foundation Paper Piecers here. Then a whole world of beautiful stars, pictures and complex shapes will open up to you!
Hi everyone, I can’t believe it’s a week already since my last post!
The new week in our Kindred Spirits Quilt-Along has brought a new block and technique focus!
This week we are making two 9″ Garden Baskets, showcasing the Y Seam as our technique focus!
What is a Y Seam? It’s where 3 seams converge to form a Y shape.
There are 3 Y seams to navigate in each Garden Basket block.
There seems to be an inherent fear of Y seams (a little like zippers!) in the quilting world, but with a few clever little tips they’re not as nearly as tricky as you might think!
While our basket block involves mostly piecing, we use a diamond template to cut out the ‘flowers’ in our baskets.
I like to get creative with the templates in our QAL, to see what other ways we can use them. Here are a couple of ideas.
LeMoyne Star Candle Mat
The LeMoyne Star is one of the most well known and historical quilt blocks to use Y seams!
Historians disagree over the origins of this 8 pointed star – either named after the LeMoyne Brothers who founded New Orleans in 1718 and used this star in their coat of arms or after Jean Louis LeMoyne who included the star into his designs for the tiles at King Louis XVI’s palace at Versailles in the early 1700!
Either way, it’s old!!
So here’s my more contemporary version, using Makower Scandi fabrics to piece our diamonds into a sweet Christmas candle mat!
There are a total of 8 Y seams in LeMoyne star! I quilted my little mat in the ditches of the diamonds and finished with pre-made bias binding trim.
EPP Tray Mat
Using the English Paper Piecing (EPP) technique (wrapping fabric around paper templates) you can create a beautiful star shape which can then be appli-quilted* onto a contrasting background.
*Appli-quilting is a two in one step, where the stitching down of the applique shape is done through all the layers of the background quilt sandwich, which means it gets quilted at the same time as being appliqued!
Our diamond template is used here to create the EPP papers (the finished size of the diamonds), and the fabric is then cut 1/4″ bigger all the way round the shape.
This means the star in this variation finishes bigger than our LeMoyne Star variation.
A little rounding of the corners gives a softening contrast to the points of the star.
So there we have 2 simple ways to use the humble diamond template (and use up some pretty scraps in the process!).
I’m looking forward to seeing what the ladies produce this week in the QAL!
This week saw the end of our current block of classes.
The optional class project was all about Triaxial and Basket Weaving.
I had made 3 class samples to showcase the different types of fabric weaving I would be teaching, but as you will see, a few creative minds didn’t stop there!
Aren’t they stunning! A few little notebook covers didn’t manage the photoshoot, but I’m sure you can guess how wonderful they are!
In the end, we were unable to source Wefty weaving needles here in the UK, and while we managed pretty well instead with large safety pins, the Wefty needles are certainly advantageous when it comes to the more complex triaxial weave. I would definitely recommend these genius little tools!
So a huge well done to my weaving ladies for stepping up to the challenge (especially when it came to triaxial weaving!) and producing beautiful work!
And of course, these weren’t the only projects being worked on! Well done to all my other ladies on your pre-Easter finishes.
I hope you all have a wonderfully creative and choccy-filled Easter break!
(Classes resume w/c 29th April – booking available here.)
Already we are coming to the end of our first block of 2019 classes. This week we will wrap up our Necessary Clutch wallets and New Year projects.
I can’t wait to show you all the finished clutches!
And I’m a little bit excited to show you our (optional) class project for the Feb-April block.
In our next block of classes I will be showing 3 different weaving techniques, 2 of which use the Wefty Weaving Needle.
A Wefty Needle comes in 2 sizes, 1″ and 0.5″ and enables weaving both simple and complex designs with little/no fabric waste.
Once you have a deliciously woven panel you can turn it into a pretty basket, a tactile cushion, a useful notebook cover, anything you like!
I’ll have notes available on how to make my 3 examples, but you don’t have to stick to these projects. Just check out my Weaving Pinterest Board for lots more mind blowing inspiration!
Linen Basket Weave Cushion
This is a beginner friendly project, keeping the strips wider and easy to weave into a traditional basket weave pattern.
We don’t use the Wefty Needle on this project, a large safety pin will suffice, though there will be a little fabric waste at the end of each woven strip.
And if you haven’t already them sussed, how about trying some buttonholes and self covered buttons as your cushion closure?
Houndstooth Journal Cover
These 0.5″ strips are woven with the Wefty Needle into a houndstooth pattern.
Again we are using a traditional basket weave here, but clever placement of strips produces the secondary pattern.
I turned my woven panel into a journal cover (my notebook cover pattern is available here), but you could easily use this as a decorative panel in a bag or add some borders for a textured placemat or cushion.
Triaxial Woven Basket
Triaxial means 3 angles. Unlike a basket weave (with only vertically and horizontally woven strips) triaxial weaving involves strips woven at vertical and 2 thirty degree angles.
For my cute basket I’ve used the 1″ Wefty Needle. Triaxial weaving is more complex than basket weaving designs, but once you get your head around it, there are many more amazing designs which can be produced from the 3 angles.
So if you fancy a spot of weaving over the next 7 weeks, or just want to carve out some therapeutic sewing time to work on other projects, why not come join the fun and book into one of our 6 weekly classes.
Yesterday was my Chenille Workshop, and I’ve been beavering away this past week getting samples ready.
My ladies learned how to make a fluffy, tactile texture in their fabrics, and turn it into a snuggly cushion or a soft and useful bathmat.
We learned about how cutting across the bias can create a very different effect from cutting in line with the warp and weft (straight grain).
And how some fabrics will fray better than others, and where some will reveal little surprises after washing and drying (a frayed selvage will give a clue to secondary coloured threads).
The best way to chenille fabric is to cut across the bias, but that in no way limits the different effects you can achieve.
Check out some of these examples:
Applique Bias Strips:
You don’t need any special equipment for this technique. The clever peeps at Olfa have made the Chenille cutter, but you can get the same results from sharp scissors (recommended for smaller projects).
And if you don’t have a Chenille brush to help with the fluffing-up, just use a regular hairbrush (the washing and tumble drying are usually sufficient, but brushing the chenille can help with those fabrics that are a little more fray resistant!).
So huge well done to my ladies for a great day’s work sewing and chenilling (& chatting too!).
And if you haven’t tried chenilling yet, why not give it a whirl! You’ll be pleasantly surprised!
It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost through, and attention is quickly turning to the new term of classes starting in September.
This term our (optional) class project will be Twin Needling with Fusible Bias (incorporating Stained Glass Windows).
As you can see above, there are a range of makes to choose from. Let’s look at them:
Mosaic Cushion (Beginner Friendly):
This 18″ cushion is a great starter project if you are new to fusible bias and twin needling.
Simple piecing creates the mosaic background, with the twin needled bias creating a dramatic (and quilted) finish!
I’ve made a feature of the zipper closure in the back of the cushion, but you could easily have an envelope or button closure here.
The digital pattern is available here (hard copies are available to purchase in class).
Mackintosh Flower Cushion (Intermediate):
This is another 18″ cushion, this time inspired by Charles Renee Mackintosh’s iconic design.
Shapes are bondawebbed onto background fabric, and the fusible bias then curved and twin needled down.
Again I’ve made a feature of the cushion back.
The digital Mackintosh Flower Cushion Pattern is available here (hard copies and full size templates are available to purchase in classs).
Applique Leaf Denim Bag (Advanced):
This project not only incorporates twin-needling (stems) and satin stitch applique (leaves), but also re-purposing textiles, zippered pocket and handbag construction.
The digital Applique Leaf Denim Bag Pattern is available here (hard copies and full size templates are available to purchase in class).
Mackintosh Rose Wallhanging (Advanced):
If you love wallhangings and aren’t afraid of something a little more challenging, you could try your hand at this Mackintosh inspired ‘Stained Glass Window’.
I’m in the progress of making up this wallhanging in a different colourway, and hope to show you the finished wallhanging soon! The finished size will be approx. 14″ x 21″ and full size templates will be available to purchase in class.
Each pattern lists the materials you will need.
However, I will have the following available to purchase in class:
black 6mm fusible bias
4mm twin needles
pattern transfer pens
hinged faux leather handbag handles
full size templates
So I hope you are inspired to perhaps try something different this term. You will have 7 weeks to make one of these projects, or a project of your own choosing!
And there are still a few spaces left across all the classes (more info here), so why not join us for some creative fun!
Our 5 minute demo in class this month was all about the different ways to bind or finish a quilt.
I had lots of samples to show the variety of techniques and finishes, but it was by no means an exhaustive list! Creativity abounds when it comes to ways to finish a quilt!
Here is a run down of the examples we looked at:
1 Double Fold (French) Binding:
Using 2.5″ wide strips, this is one of the most common binding types. Usually stitched to the front of a quilt (using 3/8″ seam allowance) with mitred corners. Then stitched down at the back, either by hand (using the Invisible Applique Stitch) or by machine*.
A tutorial on making and attaching Double Fold Binding available here.
*To machine stitch down the binding, ‘stitch in the ditch’ from the front side. A tutorial on stitching in the the ditch is available here.
2 Square Set Binding:
With square set binding, each edge of the quilt is bound separately, with the corners being ‘wrapped around’ and overlapped by the binding of the adjacent edge. This results in much thicker corners, with a less professional finish than a double fold mitred corner. For this reason, square set binding isn’t often used.
3 Single Fold Binding:
This technique is similar to Double Fold binding, but this time using a 1.75″ wide strip and left unironed. The binding is attached in exactly the same way as Double Fold Binding.
The main difference in the 2 techniques happens at the back! When the strip is folded over to the backside, first it is folded down to the edge of the quilt, then folded over again.
The binding is then either hand or machine stitched down to finish. You can get an excellent Single Fold Binding tutorial here.
4 Flanged Binding:
A ‘flange’ is an inset piece of fabric (or lace, ric rac etc.) which enhances the main binding.
To achieve a 1/4″ flange (as shown above), cut the main binding strips 1.5″ and the flange strips 2″. Join them right sides together along the long edge using 1/4″ seam allowance. Then bring both long edges wrong sides together and press. This allows the excess flange fabric to show at the top edge.
The binding is then attached using the double fold binding technique, but this time sewn first to the back of the quilt. Bring the binding round to the front, and stitch in the ditch between the main binding and the flange. You can get a step by step tutorial here for a narrower flange.
5 Backing to Front:
If you don’t have suitable fabric to use as the binding, why not bring the backing fabric around the edges to the front!
The key to this technique is in the careful trimming of the wadding (level with the quilt top) and the backing fabric (left 1″ wider).
The backing is then folded in to the edge of the quilt and then over once more. You can then top stitch the binding down or use a decorative stitch.
A great tutorial on this technique is available here.
6 Quilt Front to the Back:
This is the reverse of no.5! Trim the backing and wadding level, leaving the quilt front 1″ wider. Fold round to the back in the same way and stitch it down.
7 Rounded Corners:
Sometimes a quilt or wallhanging needs the softer look of rounded corners. Make and trim your quilt in the usual way, then place a bowl or dinner plate at the corners and cut away the excess.
For wide corners like these, I still apply the usual double fold binding from straight cut strips (no bias cuts). For a more curvier edge, you may need to use bias binding.
8 Rattail Binding:
Rattail, or Satin Cord Binding, is more commonly used to finish the edges of art quilts. The quilt is trimmed and the edges top stitched or zigzagged, before the satin ‘rattail’ cord is zigzagged to the edges. You can see a great tutorial on this technique here.
9 Prairie Points (& other inserts!):
If you’re not one for a traditional binding finish, how about inserts! These can be prairie points, scallops, half hexies, ric rac or lace (to name a few!).
I’m not a fan of ‘bagging’ a quilt, so try this instead. Plan ahead – don’t take your chosen quilting design right to the edges, leave half an inch unquilted around all edges. Trim the wadding (only) back to the quilting, and then fold under the raw edges of the front and back fabrics.
This is where you place the inserts before stitching the edges closed. Just make sure you have worked out your maths for prairie points, scallops or half hexies, so they are the right size to fit exactly into each edge.
10 Crochet Edging:
If you are a dab hand with a crochet hook, you can finish the edges of your quilt or cushions with a delicate crochet trim.
Finish your quilt as per example 9 (for cushions, simply turn them right sides out). Then hand sew a blanket stitch around all edges. Crochet into the blanket stitch using 4ply cotton yarn. Your first row will be chain stitches, followed by a row of double crochets and trebles. Add as many rows as you wish!
And there we have it!
10 different ways to finish your quilts and projects.
There are of course many more, just have a look in Pinterest! The possibilities are endless!
In keeping with our ‘curves’ theme this term, my monthly ‘5 minute lesson’ in classes this week was all about Improv. (improvisational) curves.
As the name suggests ‘improv.’ means you pretty much go with the flow and make up the curves as you go. No two curves are the same, and there are much fewer rules to abide by than with standard pieced curves. You don’t even have to worry about an even seam allowance (gasp!).
You can imagine how well this technique went down with all my rebellious non-conformists (you know who you are!!).
There are many examples of improv. curves on Pinterest (see my Curves Pinterest Board here). And to give an example of these in class, I made some improv. curved placemats, in the lovely coastal Beachcomber fabrics by Makower.
Here is the tutorial on how to make my Improv. Curved Placemats (makes 4 x 15 1/4″ diameter mats).
You will need:
Between Nine and Twelve 10″ squares (I used Beachcomber by Makower)
50cm of Wadding or Insul Bright Heat Resistant Wadding
50cm of calico
1 metre of Heat Resistant Non-Slip Table Protector (at least 35″ wide)
4.5 metres of 3/4″ wide bias binding
505 Basting Spray
Method:Assume 1/4″ seams
1 Place 2 squares of fabric on the cutting mat, right sides facing up, and overlapping. The wider the overlap, the deeper the curves can be. I usually overlap by 2-3″ (I am using up a smaller piece of fabric here to overlap the 10″ square).
2 Using a rotary cutter, cut a curve up through the overlapped section.
3 Remove the excess pieces (this will be the smaller piece of the right hand fabric and the smaller/underneath piece of the left hand fabric). The remaining pieces should fit neatly together.
4 Sew the 2 pieces right sides together. It is easier to do this by straightening the underneath piece with your right hand and lifting up the top piece with your left hand. Don’t worry if your seam allowance isn’t even the whole way down, just make sure there are no tucks.
5 Press the seam to the darkest fabric.
6 Repeat steps 2-5 for a third piece of fabric, over lapping the left hand edge of the first piece.
7 Spray baste the curved pieces, wadding and calico together (tutorial on spray basting available here).
8 Quilt the mats, starting centrally and working towards the outer edges. I quilted in the ditches and then’echo’ quilted the curved seams 1/2″ apart.
9 Place a round plate or bowl on top and draw around it. Cut along the line and remove the excess. Put to one side.
10 Place the same plate/bowl onto the felted side of the non-slip table protector. Draw around it and cut out.
11 Machine tack the table protector to the wrong side of the mat, making sure the felted side is on the inside. Machine tacking means using a large stitch on your machine, and stitching close to the edges. If you find the rubberised table protector resisting or sticking to your sewing machine, make sure the rubberised side is facing up and engage the dual feed/walking foot on your machine. If you don’t have these, stick some matt scotch tape to the underside of your presser foot keeping clear of the needle opening.
12 Open out the bias binding, and leaving a few inches unsewn at the start, attach the binding around the edge of the mat using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance, stopping a few inches short at the end (remember to use a quilting size stitch length here, not a tacking stitch).
13 Place the end of the bias binding over the start and measure and mark 1/2″ overlap. Trim off the excess.
14 Open out the binding and sew the short ends together using 1/4″ seam allowance.
15 Finger press the seam open and finish sewing down the remaining binding to the mat.
16 Snip all around the edge of the mat at 1cm intervals, taking care not to cut the stitches.
17 Push the binding over to the back of the mat. Pin in the ditch from the front, making sure the binding is caught at the back.
18 Stitch in the ditch from the front side finishing with a reverse stitch.
And you’re finished!
Adorn your table with your beautiful mats and wait for the compliments!
So why not have a go at this organic and fun technique!
I hope you enjoy your venture into improv. curves!
I promised to post this week about the projects on my ‘Spring into Summer’ Table.
Never one to break a promise, I’m starting with my Denim Applique Sailboat Cushion.
I originally designed this cushion for a summer edition of Pretty Patches Magazine.
I loved re-purposing some denim and scraps for this nautical cushion. My recent discovery of Aurifil 12wt wool thread also made a significant contribution! You can read more about my designing process here.
The great news is that I’ll be teaching a workshop on this cushion on Saturday 19th May at my classroom in Conway Mill.
And not only that, kits will be available with everything you need to make the cushion, including lush Essex Yarn Dyed Linen, denim pieces, stripey binding and a bright red button for the back!
How cool is that!
So if you would like to spend a fun Saturday with other like minded creatives learning new skills like appli-quilting and free motion sketching, then just drop me an email to register: firstname.lastname@example.org
In class this week, our ‘5 minute lesson’ was all about HSTs (Half Square Triangles), QSTs (Quarter Square Triangles) and HRTs (no not that type of HRT! Half Rectangle Triangles!).
These versatile and clever units form the many building blocks of quilt and quilt block design!
They are component parts that follow the same construction principles but with their many design possibilities, they just keep on giving!
Sewing with triangles can be tricky, especially as those naughty bias edges can flex and stretch! But despite the word ‘triangle’ being mentioned in the names of all of these techniques, at no point are individual triangles sewn together! How cool is that!
Let’s start with the humble Half Square Triangle.
Half Square Triangles (HSTs):
Method 1 (yields 2 identical hsts):
Start off by putting 2 squares right sides together.
Draw a pencil line corner to corner on the wrong side of one of the squares and sew 1/4″ either side of the line.
Cut along the line to create 2 identical half square triangle units. Press the seams open (always press bias seams open where possible).
How easy was that!
Method 2 (yields 4 identical hsts):
Place 2 squares right sides together and sew 1/4″ around all four sides.
Cut in half from corner to corner, and then into quarters through the opposite corners.
As before, press the seams open.
And now that you have cracked hsts, the design possibilities are endless! Here are a couple of my own HST quilts, but for lots more variations, including sizing charts, check out my HST Pinterest Board!
Quarter Square Triangles (QSTs):
This time you need 2 lots of half square triangles. You can work with 2 fabrics, or like I’m doing here, 4 different fabrics.
Now take 1 hst from each pair and place them right sides together so that their seams are lying on top of each other.
Draw a line corner to corner perpendicular to the existing seam. Sew 1/4″ either side of the line.
Cut along the line to separate and press the seams open. Now you have 2 identical QST blocks, with each of the 4 fabrics in each unit.
See if you can spot the QSTs in my friend Susan’s gorgeous ‘Blue Moon’ quilt.
I have a little QST quilt in the works, but I can only show you this sneaky peak for now ……..
Hello everyone, we are well into Spring here, and the April issues of quilting magazines are hitting the shops!
In keeping with the Spring theme, I designed a birdhouse wallhanging for British Patchwork & Quilting (April issue).
One of the things I love about Spring is the sound of chirping birds in my garden. I had this cute birdhouse fabric in my stash, (Sugar Hill ‘Birdy in Pink’ by Tanya Whelan) and I drew inspiration from there. Can you see little birdhouses in the fabric? That got me thinking about the little birdhouses in my Woodland Friends quilt.
So a few template alterations later, and I had the basis of a spring-time wallhanging.
Before fusing any of the shapes to the Essex linen background, I quilted the background in a grid pattern, with calico behind the wadding. (The finished wallhanging is double backed, which means after all the other applique is complete, a pretty back of more cute ‘Sugar Hill’ fabric is attached.)
Satin stitch applique is one of my favourite ways to applique, and luckily I had a fat quarter of fabric with love birds printed on it. I simply cut these out, bondawebbed them to the birdhouses and stitched round them.
The lettering required a little more thought. I enlarged a cursive font of the word ‘sweet’, transferred it to fabric and got it satin stitched in place. I knew I wanted a contrast in the lettering of ‘home’ so I drew the words on with a water soluble pen and free motion sketched over them.
I’m really digging curvy corners at the moment, and shaping the top corners on this wallhanging removed some excess negative space which better balanced out the proportions of the design.
Some standard quilt binding and a few hanging tabs later and voila! A Birdhouse wallhanging to welcome Spring into your home!
The wallhanging measures 19.75″ x 16.5″ and it made front cover of British Patchwork & Quilting magazine. Woohoo!
Ditch quilting is when you quilt in the seams of your patchwork, so that it won’t be seen! This secures all 3 layers (top, wadding, backing).
Traditionally, quilts and other quilted projects were always ditch quilted first, before any decorative quilting was added.
However, as with most things, attitudes and trends have changed. No longer do we have to try to ‘stay in the ditch’ and hold our breath as we try to get from one end of a seam to the other! (Imagine how nerve wracking that is for a beginner!).
As long as you quilt sufficiently (manufacturers state the minimum intervals on wadding packaging) so that there is no bagging between layers, then ditch quilting isn’t always required.
However, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be used as a quilting technique in its own right. Sometimes when you have pretty fabrics and an effective design, decorative quilting isn’t required.
This is my Staggered Strips Cushion. Hopefully you can tell that it is quilted without seeing the quilting!
I have quilted in all the vertical seams using my ditch quilting foot. If you don’t have a ditch foot, use an applique or open foot to maximise your view of the seams and ditches!
If you would like to learn more about ditch quilting, get my step by step guide in the current issue of Popular Patchwork (pg 34). You can also get the pattern for my Staggered Strips Cushion.