Sunday, 20 November 2016

Splendid Sampler FPP block - 'With Love From'

This is the block I made for today's block tutorial - are you loving the xoxo background! - scroll down to the end of the post if you would like to see all the 'With Love From' blocks I made
Hello, and welcome to my tiny space on the internet. Thanks for visiting. It's my turn to share my Splendid Sampler block - 'With Love From'.  The Splendid Sampler is a year-long quilt-along, hosted by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson.  Pat and Jane have brought together dozens of designers, to create one hundred 6" finished blocks - two blocks each week. We are almost at the end of the quilt-along - click through to check out the Splendid Sampler Facebook page or to the Splendid Sampler site to read more about the Splendid Sampler.

My block is called 'With Love From' because much of my sewing is done for other people - for gifts, bees and swaps.  I love the process of sewing for others, as they are on your mind during the whole making-process - from choosing the fabric, to cutting, sewing, pressing and finally wrapping.  I always try to choose fabrics and blocks that 'suit' the person for whom it's intended, as I love to personalise things as much as I can and make each item its own little story.  It really is a privilege and a joy, to sew for others.

'With Love From' is a foundation paper pieced (FPP) block - I know that FPP is a little daunting for some, so I created a little tutorial for you.  Hopefully it will help make the process a little less mysterious - FPP really is a lot of fun.

Prepare your pattern pieces + choose your fabrics
1. Print your 'With Love From' pattern, making sure you set your printer to no scale/100%, so that it prints out at the correct size.  Cheap photocopy paper is fine - there is no need to use paper created especially for FPP. Use a quilting ruler to check the one inch line on the paper pattern.

2. Decide on your fabrics, then colour in or label your pattern pieces. This is an important step, as once you cut out all your pattern sections, it can be tricky to remember which pattern piece + fabric will form which part of the final block.

In the photo below, A5 and C3 are coloured orange (or you could write 'orange' or whatever colour or fabric you choose), as they will form part of an x and o in the final block.  I haven't coloured in A6, A7, C5 or C9, as they will form part of the background, and I know I am using the same fabric for them, so don't need a reminder.  As for the star fabric - I used it to fussy cut a star for the centre of the 'o's (pattern pieces C1 and D1).

Once you have coloured in or labelled your pattern pieces, cut out the pattern sections, around the outside line.

Cut your fabrics, use your glue stick + start to sew! 
3. Cut the first two fabric pieces for all your sections (or just do one section at a time, if you are more comfortable with that).  Use a Sewline glue pen to glue your first pattern piece in place on each section. The first pattern piece in each section is always the lowest numbered piece (whether that is, for example, A1 or A5).  To do this:
- hold your paper pattern section up to a light source, with the inked side facing you (a sunny window works fine, or a light box).
- place your first fabric piece with the wrong side touching the unprinted side of the paper and jiggle it until it covers the first pattern piece + seam allowance all the way around.
- once you are happy with your placement, carefully swish a stripe of glue on the unprinted side of the paper, and press down your first fabric piece (take care that the wrong side of the fabric is glued to the unprinted side of the paper).

4. And now for your second piece of fabric. Place your second fabric piece right sides together (RST) on top of your first fabric piece.  The second fabric should, at this stage, cover the first pattern piece, and extend into the second pattern piece's seam allowance only.  Pin the second fabric piece in place, on the printed line between the two pattern pieces (refer to the photo below).

Flip your second fabric over and hold the pattern section up to the light, to check that it covers the second pattern piece + seam allowance (refer to the photo on the right).

5. Move to your sewing machine. Set the stitch length to 18-20 stitches per inch - on my Bernina 430, this is 1.5. Use an open-toed foot so you can easily see the printed line on which you will sew - on my Bernina, I use my number 37 1/4" foot.  The shorter stitch length makes it easier to tear off the papers when you have finished.

6. Taking care that your two fabric pieces are RST, sew directly on the printed line between the first and second pattern pieces.  For internal printed pattern lines, start + finish sewing directly on the intersection or meeting point of the lines. For printed lines that start and/or finish on an outer edge of the pattern, you can sew all the way into the seam allowance.  I always backstitch at the start + finish of every sewn line. In the photo below, note that I am starting to sew in the seam allowance, as the printed pattern line between A1 and A2 finishes at the outer edge of the pattern.  I will finish sewing the line right where it joins the long line between A4 and A1/A2/A3.

7. While still at the machine, flip your second piece over to check that it covers the whole second pattern piece + seam allowance. Flip it back out of the way (or ... unpick, reposition your fabric and resew).  Snip your trailing threads.  As a side note - unpicking tiny stitches is not a fun experience, I definitely speak from experience!  If you plan on doing a lot of FPP, it's worth tracking down a razor-type unpicker, such as the one recently released by Tula Pink. The blade slides right under the tiny stitches and it's much quicker and easier to unpick them. 

Time to trim
8. At your cutting mat, lay your sewn piece fabric-side down/inked paper facing up, making sure your just-sewn piece is still lying RST on top of the piece to which it was sewn.

9. Fold your paper pattern on the just-sewn line - for this step, you always fold the bigger number down on to the smaller number - in the photo below, A2 will fold down onto A1.  Note in the photo too, that the two fabric pieces are RST - the orange piece is A1 and the white background piece is A2.

10. Take your ruler and line the 1/4" line directly on the fold in your paper (the fold you just made in step 9 above). Use your rotary cutter to trim the seam allowance.

Time to iron
11. Flip the piece you just sewed over and press the section flat - note that a dry iron is best with FPP.  If you prefer steam, that's totally fine - it will just make the paper curl a little.

Repeat steps 3-11 as you complete all sections of the pattern - take care at each step that your fabric is positioned correctly, and that you trim only the seam allowance and not the piece you just sewed.

Trim your completed sections
12. When you have completed a section, it will not look like a recognisable part of your block - refer to the photo below.

But never fear!  In the next photo is the same section, with the pattern showing.  Taking care that your section is pressed and flat, use your ruler + rotary cutter to trim the section on the external printed line - in all your pattern sections, the 1/4" gap between the external line and the pattern-section outline, is the seam allowance - so please be sure to trim on the external line.

Here is the trimmed section!

And so you can see the other side - here is the trimmed, printed side of the section.

And here is a section with both external and internal pattern lines, so you can see the difference between them.

Joining sections together 
13. When you have finished piecing all your sections, it's time to join them together (in 'With Love From', you only need to join the 'x's together, as the 'o's are pieced in only one section).  FPP patterns always include the order in which to join sections together - be sure to follow them, so you can easily 'build' your finished block.

To keep your sections in place when you join them together, stick pins in the outer corners of two sections, to 'match them up' - and then secure with a Wonder clip.  Remove the pins only when it's time to sew the sections together. Carefully place the sections under the machine foot, and only then remove the Wonder clip.  You will sew all the way along the section-line, from paper-edge to paper-edge (meaning, sew into the seam allowance at either end of the section line). Backstitch at the start and finish to secure your stitches.

14. Follow the same process to join the x's to the o's - pin your matching corners, add a clip, and sew along the section lines, from paper-edge to paper-edge (meaning, sew into the seam allowance at either end of the section line).

I totally forgot to take a photo of the finished xoxo strip, before joining it to the top and bottom background sections!  So at this stage, yours won't look quite like this next photo - you'll have little tips extending off the top and bottom of your o's (like the right-side of the 'o' below) - don't worry about that, as they will disappear into the seam allowance when you add the top and bottom sections, E1 and F1.  And of course, the little tip extending off to the right in the block below, will disappear into the seam allowance when you add sashing or join the block to another. 

And another photo confession! - it's only when I have typed up this tutorial, that I realised I didn't take any photos of joining the top and bottom sections E1 and F1! - it's up to you whether you use the paper template or just measure it with your ruler and cut out the pieces.  Here's what I did:

- I used the paper templates, and swished a stripe of glue onto the back of the paper, then stuck them onto the wrong side of the background fabric;
- trimmed around the external edge of both sections;
- used pins to match the outer corners with the completed xoxo section, for both E1 and F1, and secured the sections with a couple of Wonder clips;
- sewed all the way along the section line, from paper-edge to paper-edge; and
- ironed seams to the E1 and F1 pieces.

And NOW you are done!  I hope you have enjoyed making this block - I'm looking forward to seeing your creations on the Facebook page.  Here's a photo to end with - of all six blocks I made, just to show the different looks you can create.  I have a thing for fussy-cutting, so loved choosing tiny motifs to go inside the 'o's :-) The bigger block, I copied at 150% - and then added borders all the way around.

Happy FPP-ing, and good luck in your Splendid Sampler journey - we are getting closer to the end! Did you see the news that Pat + Jane's Splendid Sampler book will shortly be published and is available for pre-order now?!

Thanks so much to Pat and Jane for coordinating this quilt-along and hosting the community that it has created - it's been wonderful to see all the different blocks that everyone is making.  xoxo cat

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

.: Farmer's Wife tutorial of sorts - block 87 Prudence :.

'Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?' - so sang the Beatles.  Well, that's all very nice for the Beatles' Prudence.  Farmer's Wife Prudence, on the other hand, was not playing, smiling or looking beautiful when I sewed her up.  Prudence and I are not now, nor ever will be, friends. In the spirit of keeping things real, I am sharing my sewing struggles with you today, in the hope that you will have a much smoother piecing experience, and that Prudence does indeed come out to play, smile and look beautiful for you.

I foundation paper-pieced Prudence.  If you would like a FPP-tutorial, starting right at the beginning with printing out the paper templates, please take a look back at my tutorial for block 1, Addie (I was friends with Addie.  She was nice). I won't give particular FPP-how-to's here - but rather a 'things to watch out for with Prudence' guide - consequently, I'd suggest reading through all my post before you start, so you know what to watch out for, and where I digressed from the block's piecing order.

OK, let's get to it, Prudence.

1. First up is to choose your fabrics and colour in your block diagram.  So far, so easy.

2.  If you are so inclined, use the FPP templates to make plastic templates - they make fussy-cutting and directional-cutting much easier.

3. Work through all your template pieces and glue down the first fabric piece on each template, and then pin the second piece.  Digression from the template-order alert - if you are foundation paper-piecing, for E1/E2 and G1/G2, glue your outer-cross (blue) piece down as the first piece, then add the inner-cross (orange) piece.  Take care with seam-trimming - with FPP, you always fold the bigger number down onto the smaller number to trim your seams - but, if you follow my suggestion for this step, please be sure to fold the smaller number down onto the bigger number to trim your seam. In the pic below, you would fold G1 down onto G2 to trim, because you went backwards and started with G2 and then added G1.

4. Be aware that trimming the outer seams for some sections is a little annoying - you may need to use scissors to snip into the corners, if you don't trust your rotary-cutting accuracy/ability to stop in time.  See what I mean?

5. Digression from the template-order alert - if you are fussy-cutting the centre square A2, glue your A2 piece first (in the pic below, see how I've so-helpfully written '1' in pencil?), then sew A1 and then A3.  Be sure to trim your seams, folding A1 down onto A2 and then A3 down onto A2 - again, this is different from the usual seam-trimming process for FPP, where the bigger number is always folded down onto the smaller number.  Go carefully, as you don't want to trim off the fabric you just sewed on - that would be upsetting.

6. Y-seams.  There are several.  Just take a look at the pic below, for starters - what even is that!?  I am not skilled at sewing y-seams, so would like to draw your attention at this point to two very excellent Farmer's Wife y-seams tutorials. Melissa from Ms Midge did a great y-seam tutorial for block 13 Belle - please take a read - and Angie from GnomeAngel did an excellent y-seam tutorial - including a video! - for block 61 May.  It's definitely worth clicking through, as Melissa + Angie's tips are way better and ultimately more y-seam successful than mine.

As for my own y-seam thoughts - always sew the long seam first, from the outer edge to the inside.  When you get to your y-junction, put your needle down, pivot your block and keep going, slowly and as best you can.   I tend to only sew a few stitches, then remove the block from under the needle, and come in again towards the y-junction from the other outer edge. It's fiddly and slow, and your fingers can feel like huge cucumbers when you are manipulating such little pieces.

To be completely honest, I had a true shocker joining section I to section E - it's a very gradual y-seam.  It was at this point in the Prudence-piecing-process that I realised she has not been designed as a true FPP block.  There is no extra instruction given in the book, about the trickiness of joining these sections, other than "join I to E".  When pinning your sections together, be aware that the tip of the A4 triangle meets the very slight bend in F1 (see pics below).

When it comes to joining ABEFHI to ACDGJK, take your time.  Make a cup of tea. Read Melissa's + Angie's y-seams posts again. Start at the outer edges and sew towards the y-junctions.   Pivot.  Take your block out from under the needle and sew in again from the other outer edge. By the time you are done, you will have earned a Y-Seam Medal.

And that's Prudence.

I try to be positive and helpful in this space, but I also have to be honest.  Prudence was a really unenjoyable block to piece.  I have a lot of FPP experience, but I do tend to avoid y-seams when I can.  I had to unpick every section-joining seam at least once with Prudence, and still ended up with more wonk than I am happy with.  The bottom right square below the centre-rabbit isn't square, there's plenty of triangle-rippliness going on, and there are puckers-aplenty - but after two unpicks and re-sews of most section-joins, I was done.  Prudence is looking as good as she's going to - and I AM very happy with my fabric choices for her (I'm taking that as a win).

Another upside - who could even have guessed what a perfect choice that little centre rabbit was when I started - the expression on her face is perfect - she's totally saying "WHAT are you doing, I'm utterly dismayed by your inadequate Prudence-piecing, but I must endure in dignified silence. I will not smile or play".

Please, please do not be deterred by my experience - I shared my thoughts to try and help point out the tricky bits, rather than scare you off.  Take Prudence slowly, step by step, and you will end up with a very sweet block indeed and a Y-Seams Medal.  She will be worth it.

We have now finished the September Farmer's Wife blocks - there is just Kitty @ Night Quilter to go, on Thursday.  And Marti Michell will definitely have lots of tips for a happier Prudence-experience, using her wonderful templates as much as is possible. Be sure to check in again with Angie next Tuesday for the October Farmer's Wife block + blogger line-up.  

And last but not least, the book details - The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and the 99 Quilt Blocks that Honour Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W.

Happy sewing to you, whatever you are making today.  xoxo cat

Friday, 9 September 2016

'There's a Bear in There' - Marti Michell Mini Quilt Blog Hop

Welcome to this long-neglected corner of the internet.  Since we last spoke, Vee and I have pulled the pin on cat&vee (while continuing to be great friends), and are following our own (as yet blog-less) paths as HelloFromCat and HelloFromVee - you can keep up as much or as little as you like via Instagram, we'd love to see you over there.

Now - on with today's tutorial for my 'There's a Bear in There' mini, made with Marti Michell templates.

I had clearly been living under a quilting rock, as I had not come across the magical Marti Michell templates prior to joining Angie on the Farmer's Wife 1930's Sampler Quilt Sew-along.  I was a very quick convert and have very much enjoyed the opportunity to discover new ways of using them through this Marti Michell Mini Quilt Blog Hop - please click through to read all about the hop on Angie's blog. All the bloggers' links appear there, and also at the end of this post.  And here is the link to Marti's shop - the home of the templates and also her fabulous book 'More Bang for the Buck' - it's a total must-have if you love Marti's templates and would like to learn how to use them in your regular quilting life.

When it came time to create my mini, I'd been having a minor obsession with square-in-square blocks.  It was also around the time that Play School's 50th Birthday celebrations had been on TV (along with a bunch of awesome short celebratory videos on You Tube!) - so I came up with 'There's a Bear in There'. If you're not familiar with the Play School song, here is their home page.

'There's a Bear in There' mini quilt details

Finished size 22" square
Templates used - Marti Michell A + B sets.
Fabric (specific requirements are detailed below):
 - four fussy cuts and various coordinating scraps for your square-in-square blocks.
- various scraps for your square-in-square borders - no bigger than 2.5" x 10.5" will be needed for any one piece.
- strips for your sashing.
- 24" batting.
- 24" backing fabric.
- 2.25" x WOF for binding - cut and join three WOF strips. You won't need the full amount, so will have a small amount left over for another binding project.

Please note - I am assuming you know how to quilt and bind a mini, and so have not given instructions for that, other than fabric requirements.  This mini lends itself to either machine or hand quilting, so please go ahead and quilt to your heart's desire.  I chose a low volume binding, so the mini would 'run off the edge' rather than be framed by it - again, please choose whatever coordinating or contrasting binding leaps out at you from your fabric stash.

Marti Michell templates + cutting instructions
Each of the four blocks uses different Marti Michell templates from the A and B sets.  Below is a full photo of the finished mini, plus a full diagram of the mini, followed by the template and cutting instructions needed for each block, working clockwise around from the top left Butterfly block.  Please refer to the photo and diagram below for template and strip placement.  In the cutting instructions, I've included my own fabric choices in italics, to (hopefully!) make it easier for you to see to which template + strip I'm referring.

Butterfly block:
- Marti Michell templates: one B10 centre square (butterfly) + four B13 triangles (teal/navy stars) + four B11 triangles (orange spools).
- cut strips: two 1.75" x 6" strips + two 1.75" x 8.5" strips (Cotton + Steel lady face dots) + one 2.5" x 8.5" (multi-coloured flowers) + one 2.5" x 10.5" (grey floral lace).

Telephone block:
- Marti Michell templates: one A1 centre square (telephone) + four A4 triangles (teal beads) + four A2 templates (orange with white spots).
- cut strips: two 1.5" x 6.5" + two 1.5" x 8.5" (cats) + one 2.5" x 8.5" (grey background with white flowers) + one 2.5" x 10.5" (blue houses on white background).

Bear block:
- Marti Michell templates: one A3 centre square (bear) + four A6 triangles (poo dot) + four A4 triangles (orange/brown butterflies).
- cut strips: two 2.5" x 4.75" + two 2.5" x 8.5" (pugs) + one 2.5" x 8.5" (orange circles) + one 2.5" x 10.5" (black/white/red text print).

Typewriter block:
- Marti Michell templates: one B8 centre square  (typewriter) + four B11 triangles (blue spools) + four B9 triangles (orange flowers).
- cut strips: one 2.5" x 8.5" (rain drops) + one 2.5" x 10.5" (black dot on white background).

- Marti Michell templates: one B12 cornerstone square.
- cut strips: four 2.5" x 10.5".  I used a Laurie Wisbrun for Robert Kaufman chair print (because "There's a bear in there, and a chair as well ...").  As the print is directional, I made sure to cut two strips with the 10.5" length horizontal, and two with it vertical.  If you are not cutting a directional print, you won't need to worry about that.

To construct your mini:
1. Make each block separately by sewing the inner round of triangles to the centre square, followed by the outer round of triangles.  Press your seams in your preferred way as you go - I normally press open, but chose to press towards the triangles in each instance here.

2. Refer to the mini-diagram above to add your border strips around each square-in-square block.  My fabric notes in italics above may also assist you with your chosen fabric placement.

3. Work out your preferred placement for your four blocks.  Use a 2.5" x 10.5" sashing strip to join the top left and top right blocks, and another to join the bottom left and bottom right blocks - taking care if you are using directional prints. Press seams towards the sashing.

4. Join the remaining sashing strips to the Marti Michell B12 cornerstone square. Press seams towards the sashing strips.

5. Sew the horizontal sashing strip to your top row, taking care to match the vertical sashing seams with the cornerstone square seams.  Add the bottom row.  Press seams towards the sashing strip.

6. Give your mini top a good press, and you are done!

7. Layer your mini top, batting and backing together and quilt as desired.  I chose to hand-quilt, as I needed a good on-the-go project for all the times I sit in the car / at activities waiting for my kids!

8. Add your binding - and your 'Through the Window' Marti Michell mini is done!

I hope you love making the mini as much as I did - it's a great way to showcase some favourite fussy cuts and prints.  If you would like more Marti Michell template inspiration, please click through to the other bloggers on the hop.

12 August 2016 Angie @

19 August 2016 Tonya  @ The Crafty Mummy

26 August 2016 Lucy @ Charm About You

2 September 2016 Kirsty @ Bonjour Quilts

9 September 2016 Cat @ cat&vee (you are here now!)

16 September 2016 Nathalie @ Les Ouvrages de Nat

23 September 2016 Alyce @ Blossom Heart Quilts

30 September 2016 Peta @ She Quilts A Lot

7 October 2016 Lisa @ Sweet Little Pretties

14 October 2016 Rachel @ Wooden Spoon Quilts

21 October 2016 Raylee @ Sunflower Quilting

28 October 2016 Lisa @ In the Boon Docks

4 November 2016 Marti Michell! 

But wait, there's more! 
If you make and enter a mini quilt - following any of the tutorials above - you will be in the running to win a Marti Michell prize pack!  To enter, make a mini (you must follow one of the tutorials) and submit a photo:
- to the link-up tool that each of the participating bloggers will post on their blogs on Friday, 18 November 2016;
- to the specific album in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt Facebook Group; or
- on your Instagram with the hashtag #MartiMichellMiniQuiltmania and tag both Angie @gnomeangel and Marti @martimichell on your photo

Thanks very much to Angie and to Marti for inviting me to hop along with you all - it's been fun.  Here's to Marti's templates making themselves at home in your sewing room. xoxo cat

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