Vivian’s Quilt : Complete!

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Two years ago I was blogging this quilt extensively because I wanted to link up my progress with Jessica Alexandrakis’s Star Count. Kinda feels like a million years ago.

I have this thing where, I reeeallly have to push myself to finish things, even when they are 92% done.  So this had been sitting around unbound for quite a while.  The push finally came with an entry deadline I didn’t want to miss.  The quilt was accepted and last week hung at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza in Philadelphia.  I have attended that show for more than a decade and entering something was always a goal.

New-ish to me was writing a little statement to go with the quilt.  It was hard to fit all the thoughts and emotions that go into a quilt into one little paragraph.  And the theme of the show was “evolving,” and I didn’t even get to touch on that idea.  Here’s what I wrote:

This quilt began in anticipation of my daughter’s birth. I pieced the stars while homeschooling my older kids, then, while nursing baby Vivian. Next I floated the stars in a sea of pale hexagons. So many hexagons, and most were made with sleeping baby on my lap. I began to realize that this quilt is a reflection on life; bright shining moments surrounded by many more ordinary moments. The ordinary ones are no less beautiful.

I used every one of the 75 words allotted and could have said much more about technique, ideas, and how the style of this quilt fits into the theme of the show.  I would have liked to hear more about the other quilts on display as well; wish there was a way for more to be said.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to go back and round up some progress shots of this, since it’s been so long in the making.

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Courtyard Garden

Hi there friends!  I took some time over the weekend to update my Etsy shop.  I have been sewing for months with my favorite new shape, the 90 degree kites, and I thought it might be a good time to actually list them in the shop so you could sew with them too.

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Courtyard Garden Mini

I used the 2″ 90 degree kites, together with 2″ 45 degree diamonds, to make my #handpiecedminiswap2 quilt. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this- if you’re not on Instagram, I joined what is surely the only hand piecing swap going on right now and made this quilt for one participant, and received a mini quilt from another participant.  It was a blind swap, so we had to “stalk” our partners to figure out what they might like to receive.  It took me a long time to decide on something, but there were some beautifully colored yarns in my partner’s feed, and I used those as inspiration for the colors in this quilt.

 

My favorite part of this quilt is that dark raspberry border.  That and the geometry of the quilt made me think of a formal courtyard, so I’ve named this quilt Courtyard Garden.

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I decided to use some creative value placement to create a medallion layout, but there is actually an allover grid pattern going on with the shapes. 4-pointed stars or 8-pointed stars, depending on which way you look.

I’m working on another version of the quilt that highlights the 8-pointed stars.  I am so in love with these stars btw!  As a derivative of the above pattern, I’m calling them Courtyard Stars.

I have made downloadable design sheets for this pattern; one highlights the value placement of the medallion mini, and one has just a plain grid so you can do your own experimenting.  They are listed as a set in my Etsy shop.

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Courtyard Stars

 

To make either the medallion version of the pattern, or 16+ of the above stars, you will need:

Medium pack of 2″ 90 degree kites

Small pack of 2″ 45 degree diamonds

Downloadable design sheets

The pieced portion of the mini is 20.5″ square, and I recommend appliqueing onto a 24″ background square.

I hope you’ll give these shapes a try!  I’ll be back later in the week to show some of the other layouts you can achieve with these beautiful 90 degree kites.  Octagons feature prominently in these designs so first I need to get them ready and listed 🙂

Happy sewing!

Jessie

 

 

Winter Solstice

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Did you/ will you celebrate the Winter Solstice this year?  Here on the east coast of the US it was at 11:49 last night; for Europe it was early this morning. The longest night and the shortest day of the year.  It’s not an event my family has ever really celebrated, but every year I imagine us making the time to mark the event. I picture a day of peace and simple beauty. A bundled-up nature walk in the low afternoon sun, a crackling fire, a special homemade stew. New pajamas?  We did have a lovely soup for dinner last night but otherwise we didn’t break from the rush of this season.  Next year, we keep saying…

I did gather myself together long enough last night to list my Winter Solstice template pack in my Etsy shop.  I love how the star looks almost like a snowflake.  My sweet friend Carissa came up with the name for me many months ago and so I thought I should list the templates for sale in honor of the night.

Winter Solstice

Technical details:

There are three pack sizes, containing enough templates for 1, 2, or 9 stars.  The star finishes 17″ high and 15″ wide, and can be appliqued onto an 18″ pillow or quilt block or set together with 1″ hexagons and 1″ 60 degree diamonds.  Or, it can “float” alone in a sea of as many 1″ hexagons as you like!  If you want to make the 58″x64″ layout shown below, you will need a large pack of Winter Solstice stars, a large pack of 1″ hexagons, and a small pack of 1″ diamonds.  You also need a few 1″ equilateral triangles for the edges, which I include for free with your package.  If you are doing a smaller layout and only need a few diamonds/ triangles, let me know in the notes to seller and I’ll just throw them in for free 🙂

Winter Solstice Layout

So here she is, Winter Solstice.  If you have any winter solstice traditions or have heard of any nice ones, I would love to hear about it!

 

Orange Peel Inspiration

Now the fun post!  Here’s a few ideas for arranging your orange peel shapes.  If have seen (or sewn) an orange peel project you like, please link to it in the comments!

The traditional way to use orange peels is to applique each one diagonally onto a background square. They can then be sewn together in a myriad of different designs.  When used to fill the entire space, an X and O pattern starts to appear:

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4-patches with alternating plain squares make a flower pattern:

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Playing with where the pattern starts and ends brings out a stronger diagonal pattern:

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especially when you use alternating colors:

And why not put the squares on point?

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One of my favorite things to do with orange peels is to not applique each one to a background square, rather to make free form designs; flowers, feather, scales, all sorts of organic designs can be suggested by this shape. This one I made a couple of years ago now, starting from the corner and working out.

Here’s my recently completed free-form flowers:

And a few more bits and bobs still mostly in the dream-phase:

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I’ve also been thinking about combining different sizes to make a more complex flower; if you get to that first please do send me a picture.

This concludes my little series on Orange Peels; Please see the first two posts How to work with Orange Peel Templates and Tutorial: My Applique Stitch, and visit Faraway Road or my Etsy shop if you’d like to purchase Snowflakes Freezer Paper Shapes.  🙂

Have a lovely weekend!

Jessie

How to work with Orange Peel templates

Ready for appliqueThis method of preparing shapes for applique will work for any shapes with convex (outside) curves, like leaves or circles.

Orange peel is an applique pattern which means, at the core of things, that a piece of fabric is being cut into a certain shape and stitched down onto another piece of fabric. There are many of ways to get the shape you desire in applique, but I almost always use freezer paper templates, because I find it the easiest way to get smooth curves and sharp points.  By preparing the folded edge in advance, I feel like I can relax and enjoy the applique stitch. And, this method generally involves no extra marking pens or pencils, which I always have such a hard time with.

(Snowflakes die-cut freezer paper shapes are available for sale here)

Choosing a size:

Orange peels are sized by the finished size of the square upon which they fit diagonally. So you can plan on a 2.5” orange peel (which is actually almost 3.5” tip to tip) taking up 2.5” of space, vertically and horizontally, in your quilt.

IMG_5903Preparing the shapes:

First, lay your fabric face down on your ironing surface and give it a quick press without steam. Arrange your shapes, shiny side down, on the fabric, at least 5/8” apart. For curved applique pieces, it will help you achieve a smooth curve if you have as much of the curve on the bias (diagonal) as possible. So when possible I arrange the pieces with the corner points on the two straight grains and that puts most of the curve on the diagonal. This is the ideal method, but if you have a stripe or other design that you want to go a certain way on the pieces, go ahead and follow that instead.IMG_5909

Now press the shapes with a medium-hot iron just for a second or two to adhere them to the fabric. Wait a bit for them to cool, then cut out leaving a generous 1/4- 3/8” seam allowance.

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Now to baste the edges: Thread a sharp, thin needle, with sturdy thread (I use leftover machine or hand quilting thread) and knot the end. Starting in the center of one side, fold over the seam allowance to the back of the paper shape and take a small stitch through paper and fabric.

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Now make several small running stitches through fabric only, until you are about ¾” away from the point. Right handed folk are going counter clockwise around the shape and lefties go clockwise.

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Now take another small stitch through paper and fabric, and pull the thread to gather the running stitches you just made. The fabric will automatically smooth itself over the curve (which is such a blessing if you’ve tried other applique methods and had a hard time making smooth curves!)

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Now make a sharp fold over the point and take another small stitch through paper and fabric to anchor the point.

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Now you are ready to make another few running stitches through fabric only.

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Stop at the midway point, stitch once through the paper and fabric, and pull the gathers again. The shape is now half- basted and you can follow the same steps to baste the other half, ending with a final stitch through the paper and fabric and a knot on the back.

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Cutting background squares:

I always cut my background squares a little bigger than necessary. Just in case the orange peel shifts a bit while you applique, or the square gets a bit distorted, you will be able to trim down to the perfect size. So, for 2.5″ Orange Peels, you add .5″ for the seam allowance, plus another .25″ of insurance, making the cut size 3.25”.   (If you are beginner to applique you may want to go up to 3.5”.) After appliqueing, you will trim them down to 3”.  When sewn together they reach their final size of 2.5” and the orange peels will almost touch at the corners.  Press each square lightly in half on the diagonal to mark your placement line for the orange peel.

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OK, I think that’s enough for today!  Tomorrow I will go over my applique stitch, and then the final post will give some layout options for this versatile shape.

Applique, Art Gallery Fabrics and a Giveaway!

Orange peel applique

I have been sooo addicted to the orange peel shape lately.  When Art Gallery Fabrics asked if I would like to be a part of their celebration of National Sewing Month, at first I wasn’t sure I could come up with a project in time.  I have so many huge projects already in my queue… Then I thought, I could make another orange peel mini!  (Here, here, and here are some other orange peel projects I’ve done)  I chose Bonnie Christine’s fabric line, Cultivate.  Do you follow her on Instagram?  Such a lovely feed and at the moment she’s sharing the sweetest shots of her newborn baby girl, can’t get enough of those…
Sketch- 3 pillows-mini quilts
Of course, being myself, I couldn’t take the simple route and do just one mini.  No no, I would do three.  Above is the little sketch I sent to Art Gallery when I offered to do a project.  A pair of free-form flower pillows and a geometric one to contrast.   Then, I thought, why not bind them so I could hang them as little wall hangings or stuff them with pillows?  So that is what I did, they have a 3/4″ binding that will look like a flange if I choose to use them for pillows, or they can hang on the wall.  Great.  Love them.
Each petal is prepared by ironing down a freezer paper template and basting the raw edges over the paper.  I roughly arrange my pieces on the background, then press each shape, remove the paper, and pin them down in their final places.  I use a running stitch with #8 perle cotton to attach the shapes to the background.  I have used a regular applique stitch in the past, but for such busy fabrics I love the extra definition that the running stitch outline gives.  I started with a 19″ square, trimmed it down to 18.5″ after the applique was done, then added the wide binding, bringing the inner square down to 17″ .  So an 18″ pillow form makes them nice and plump.
If you too would like to make this pillow, you’ll need a medium pack of 2.5″ orange peel freezer paper templates, which I sell here.   They are reusable in case you’d like to make more than one.  And please use the box at top right to subscribe to my blog, as starting next Monday I’ll have a little series walking you through the process of working with orange peel templates.
(Photo shoot outtakes…  “Hey, someone made a bed out here in the woods!”)
But wait, what happened to the pillow in the middle of the sketch?
I fell so hard for these little blocks that I had to hold them back in order to make an entire quilt out of them!  I ordered more of the Pruning Roses print from Hawthorne Threads (which is also where I got the Pure Elements Icy Mint solid I used for the background) and I carry my little basket of applique with me everywhere.  The pile just grows and grows… like a baby, the quilt will be here before you know it!
Oh yes, should I do a giveaway?  Art Gallery Fabrics was very generous when sending fabrics for this project and I have a ton left over.  Some is going into my stash but I have plenty to share, too!  Leave me a comment letting me know your favorite applique pattern (if you have one!) to enter to win a generous bundle of Cultivate by Bonnie Christine.  If you follow this blog or my Instagram, you may leave me an additional comment telling me so and that will count as a second entry.  Thanks!  I’ll draw a winner on Sunday, September 13th.
… This post was sponsored by Art Gallery Fabrics….

5 Reasons to Love Freezer Paper

So, why did I go to all this trouble to make die-cut freezer paper shapes available?  Here are five reasons to love working with Snowflakes Freezer Paper Shapes:

Template stays put while you baste!

#1. And this would be enough, even if it were the only attribute: the paper shapes stay put while you baste. Just a touch with a hot iron, and there is absolutely no slipping, and no need for pins or paper clips to hold the fabric still as you baste.

Fabric cutting is a snap!

#2. Fabric cutting is a snap. Other methods ask you to get a separate plastic template and trace around it onto the fabric, adding time to every piece you prepare. When a freezer paper template is ironed into your fabric, it is easy to eyeball a generous 1/4 inch seam allowance as you cut, no marking necessary!

tessellating templates saves a lot of fabric!

#3. Saves fabric. If you are rotary cutting squares and then trimming them down into hexagons, you are wasting a lot of fabric!  With Snowflakes, you can arrange the pieces in a tessellating fashion, then cut them out zig-zag style without any waste. If you need a large number of shapes from one fabric, you will save a lot of fabric cutting this way.

precise fussy cutting is easy

#4  precise fussy cutting. Iron the shape onto the reverse side of your fabric, then hold up to the light from the right side to see exactly where the fabric design will fall.

templates can be reused many times

#5 Reusable.  I use my Snowflakes many times before retiring them.  Even with the holes from basting, they still iron on many times before being exhausted.

Check out Snowflakes freezer paper shapes for yourself here in my shop!

Spring Basket Tutorial

 

Spring Basket Alternate version

As promised, if you just want to dabble into English Paper Piecing, but still end up with a sweet and eminently useable project, this version of my free Spring Basket pattern is just the thing for you!

To make this version of the basket, you’ll follow all the original steps as posted on Sew Mama Sew with just these few modifications:

You’ll need a 32 inch x 6 inch piece of fabric for the outer basket, and only 16, 2.5 inch square-ish scraps for the hexagons.

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Prepare and baste 16, 1 inch hexagons.  Lay them out and sew into a zigzag line as shown.  Then join the two end hexagons together to form a ring.  Press well and remove the papers.  If you are new to English Paper Piecing, here is the information you need.

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Using the extra pattern piece marked [Outer fabric- non-pieced version only], cut four pieces from your outer fabric and sew together as described for the lining pieces.

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Line up your ring of hexagons 1/2 inch from the top edge.  The top left corner of every fourth hexagon should line up with a seam in the outer fabric.  Pin well, then topstitch with your machine on both edges of the ring.  (Or hand applique if you are more comfortable with that technique.)

You can cut away your base fabric from behind any light-colored hexies if it shows through.  Be sure to leave 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Follow the rest of the project as written.  Then, start a new English Paper Piecing project and use this basket to store the pieces 🙂

Visit www.FarawayRoad.com or my Etsy shop to buy a starter kit for this project which includes Snowflakes Freezer Paper Shapes and the In-R-Form stabilizer you’ll need to get going!

 

Thanks for reading!

❤ Jessie

My other baby 😄

Now that “Baby Vivian” is firmly a toddler, I want to talk about another little pet project I’ve been nursing along in my spare moments. I’m so excited to announce it here today!

You all know I love English Paper Piecing. Well, I like to use freezer paper templates for my EPP, and I used to wish and hope and Google in vain for a supplier of precut freezer paper shapes. No luck. Eventually I realized that I could be the one to supply them for everyone!EPP work tray

So for the past year or so I’ve been working with a great company to create the dies and have these shapes professionally cut, working with another company to get some packaging created,  setting up a website, and of course basting and sewing hundreds and hundreds of little shapes.  (In the name of research, y’know?!)   I’ve even quietly sold a few packs on my Etsy shop.  It’s been so fun.

So… why freezer paper? Quite simply, because freezer paper sticks to your fabric with just a touch from the iron. Then you can just eyeball your seam allowance as you cut around the paper. No tracing around a plastic template and cutting on the lines.  The freezer paper sticks to the fabric while you baste the edges, eliminating the need for pins or paper clips. Nothing for your thread to get caught on!

Hexies Galore

Furthermore, some instructions for EPP would have you start by cutting out your own paper shapes from freezer paper or card stock.  That is time that I could be playing with my fabric and sewing, so I’d much rather NOT hand cut a billion paper shapes, thank you very much!  Snowflakes are professionally die cut, saving you that time of cutting them yourself, and giving you more accurate results too!  I have five shapes in 3-4 sizes each and I’ll be adding more shapes as we go along. In fact, I’m finalizing my next additions now, so if you have a shape you’d like to see, I’d love to hear your opinion!

SpringBasket

To celebrate my “soft launch” I’ve got a free pattern for this little Spring Basket over on Sew Mama Sew today! It’s a sweet and rather quick little project (as far as EPP goes), but if you just want to dip your pinky toe into English paper piecing, I’ll be posting a variation later today that’s even quicker.  I have a starter kit for sale both in my Etsy shop and on FarawayRoad.com that includes the Snowflakes Freezer Paper Shapes for this project and enough In-R-Form stabilizer for one basket.

For those of you who are curious about EPP but have never tried it, check out my YouTube tutorials here. In the meantime please check out my shop and let me know what shapes you’d like to see Faraway Road produce next!

Thanks for reading!

Love,  

Jessie