|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|
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.
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