Thursday, 22 December 2016

.: Farmer's Wife sew-along block 84 Posy :.

Hello Farmer's Wifers, it's Posy time.  I liked making Posy.  My last Farmer's Wife block tutorial was for block 87 Prudence, who is still no friend of mine.  Like Prudence, Posy involves y-seams but they are much gentler. Posy is definitely a much happier block to sew.

My tutorial is for foundation paper-piecing (FPP) Posy.  I created a FPP tutorial for block 1 Addie, and have decided to create nearly-a-full FPP tutorial for Posy too (there aren't as many step-by-step pics for Posy as there were for Addie, so please click through to Addie if you need more detailed info).

And if FPP + y-seams aren't your happy home, Angie has created an alternate block this week - I've included the link right at the bottom of this post :-)

Let's go.

Preparing to FPP
1. The first step is to print off your templates, being sure to have your printer set to 100% (or 'no scale'). Check the one-inch line with a quilting ruler.

2. Decide on your fabrics and colour in or label your block diagram and the corresponding template pieces, so you can keep track of which fabric to sew onto which template piece once they're all cut up and don't make a lot of sense - I forgot to take a block diagram + fabric choice pic of Posy, so see below for a pic of Prudence (so nice of past-Prudence to step up and show a bit of kindness).

3. Use paper scissors to cut out all your template sections, just roughly around the outside, there's no need to cut directly on the dotted outside edge (note that the solid line is the line on which you will sew, and the dotted line is the outside edge, with the seam allowance in between).

Time to join fabric to paper
4. Work through all your template sections, and glue the first fabric piece onto the first template piece. I use a swish of Sewline glue pen to glue the wrong side of the fabric to the unprinted side of the paper template.  To be sure you are gluing the fabric in the correct place, hold your paper template up to the light (a window or a light box if you have one) and position the first fabric piece over the first template piece, being sure to leave a 1/4" seam allowance around all edges of the template piece.

5. Work through all your template sections again, carefully pinning your second fabric piece in place.  Place your second fabric RST (right sides together) with your first piece, with at least a 1/4" seam allowance extending into the template's second piece.  Pin in place along the sew-line between the first and second template pieces, then flip your second fabric piece over to check that it covers the whole area plus seam allowance.

6. Take all your template sections to your sewing machine.  Set the stitch length to 18-20 stitches per inch for your machine - on my Bernina, it's 1.5. I sew all my FPP blocks with the Bernina 1/4" number 37 foot - you need an open-toe foot of some kind, so you can easily see where you are headed.

7. Sew directly on the printed sew line. Be sure to backstitch at the start and end of your sew line. For sew lines that start/finish within the block, be sure to start/stop directly on the sew line. For sew lines that start/stop on an external edge of the block, it's fine to sew into the seam allowance (doing this just makes removing your papers later a little more fiddly, but it makes your block a little more secure).

Trimming + ironing
8. Once you have sewed the second piece to the first piece on all your template sections, take the sections to your cutting mat and lay them fabric-side down, being sure that your fabric pieces are still RST, and haven't flipped over - you don't want to trim off the piece you have just sewed.  Fold template piece 2 down onto template piece 1, along the line you just sewed. Line the 1/4" line of your ruler directly along the fold line, and trim your seam allowance to 1/4".   Do this for all your section pieces, and then take them to the ironing board.

Note that for the trimming step of all FPP patterns, you will always fold down the bigger template number onto the smaller template number, to trim the seam allowance - so be sure to always follow the numbered piecing order. 

9. Flip over and press your second piece down flat - be sure to press down rather than swoosh the iron all about, so your fabric pieces don't shift.

10.  Repeat steps 1-9 until all your template sections are finished.

11. Once all your sections are finished, press them flat with the iron, then trim around the external edges, directly on the external section lines - refer to the pic below under step 12.

Joining sections together
12. Now to join the sections together. To be sure your template sections meet up correctly, place pins through external sew line meeting-points - refer to the pics below as an example (joining section A to section J).

13. I then pop a Wonder clip or two between my pins, so that the section pieces can't move.  Remove the pins + clips as you join each section together, sewing from paper-edge to paper-edge along the sew line.

As with all FPP patterns, follow the piecing order given in the book. 

Just note - when joining the little triangles J-Q, be sure that all the letters read the right way up, then flip the little triangle over to join to the bigger piece (e.g. K to B in the pic below - see how all the letters + numbers are running in the same direction).

Add extra pins along the sew line as needed, to help the sections meet accurately - see pic below, where I have added pins either side of A2, as well as on the outer corners. 

14. After you join each section to the next, iron the seams open - you can remove the paper within the  seam allowance at this point.

Joining corner sections to the middle sections R + S
15. Once you have finished sewing each template section, lay out your block next to your machine, with the paper-side facing upwards and the fabric facing downwards.  Check again that all the little triangles have the printed writing running up the correct way

16. It's y-seam time. Start on the paper-edge and sew along the long edge towards the smaller line (refer to the pic below, sewing S to AJ).  When you get to the y-intersection, exactly where the pin is:
- lower your needle
- lift your presser foot
- pivot the block
- lower your presser foot
- continue sewing along the smaller line to the paper-edge.

It totally works fine, I swear! - just go slow and steady.

Joining the top + bottom sections to I
17. Take care when joining the top and bottom sections to I, as the fabric on the outer tips will want to shift - I used my Sewline glue pen to swish glue on the outer tips of I1 and I3, to ensure the fabric did not lift away from the paper as I sewed.

18. I'm not the world's best y-seam sew-er, so to make life easy, I started right in the middle of I2 and sewed out towards the end of I1, then followed the same steps within step 16 above to sew to the outer edge.  I then repeated it all again to sew from the middle of I2 (overlapping my stitches a little) to sew to the outer edge of I3.

19. Press your seams open - and you are done! - hopefully all your seams will have matched up happily.

You have finished Posy! - block 84 is done.

Remember that all the Farmer's Wife info is on Angie's blog - which is home base for the sew along.  The book you will need is The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 quilt blocks that honour them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 (though it's currently on sale!) - click here to purchase.

Did you see that Angie sewed an alternate to Posy this week? - block 84a Ruth - using Marti Michell templates (to avoid sewing a FPP y-seam block) - so if you'd prefer to sew Ruth instead of Posy, please click on through.  Angie's post includes the links to Marti's chart + template info.

Angie's post also includes all the upcoming blog links for the remaining blocks - we'll be starting back again in the new year.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, and a happy + relaxing holiday time with your family + friends.  All the best for a very peaceful, healthy + content 2017.  Thanks for stopping by xoxo cat


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

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