Sunday, October 19, 2014

Slow stitching progress

IMG_8840I haven’t spent as many evenings hand quilting as I had planned over the past several weeks.  Tonight I hope to sit and quilt for another hour or two.  I think it takes me about an hour to quilt everything in the frame so I might get two frames’ worth done if I walk away from the computer sooner than later!

Let’s see how the quilting has progressed since September 21.


Yes, slowly but surely I am making progress.  I’m walking away from the computer now!

Linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy’s Quilts

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fall sewing

IMG_8834You might have noticed I have been obsessed with snowflakes recently.  In the last couple of weeks the trees here have been putting on their gorgeous fall colours and tugged me back into the proper season. I’m dreaming in rich oranges, browns, and golds now. 

I just love that orange print.  I don’t usually buy fabric just to have it.  I usually need to have a particular use for it, which I did when I bought it, but I could be persuaded to go get more of this one “just because”.

I have a fall themed throw quilt all planned out but I wanted a quick finish first. Six fat quarters plus a half yard for background and inner border yielded a runner and a coordinated pieced backing.  The camera washed out the colours a little bit, but you get the idea.

Stretch runner in fall colours

If you’ve followed this blog for a while you probably recognize this runner.  It’s from my pattern Stretch, available here.  (If you have the pattern, please note I just updated it to clear up confusion.  As I followed my own pattern this week I realized that back in August, when I revamped the format, I apparently I couldn’t count and said to cut 13 squares instead of the required 11.)

Now I need to sandwich and quilt this so I can enjoy it on my table before fall turns into winter.  I did head to the store for fusible fleece to use as batting (I like to use this instead of batting in runners and placemats) and came home with fabric for a bag for my daughter, completely forgetting the fleece.  I’ll have to try again, and try to remember to get enough for these two as well, as birthdays and winter are both right around the corner and I’ll be wanting these two runners then:

snowflake runner top

birthday runner

Monday, October 13, 2014

Snowalong Week 3!

My sewing machine was in the shop all last week, and refused to misbehave there, so we still don't know why it had fits of temper.  It is now home again and behaving for the time being, so I hope to catch up with my snowflake plans.  I really had hoped to have enough red and white snowflake blocks by now to make a Christmassy runner.  I know it's only mid-October and there's still plenty of time.  I was just planning ahead!

I did manage to make a sample of this week's block, Snowflake 3.

I came up with 3 versions for this one, again all by changing color placement.  I really need to make version 2...but 3 looks tempting too.  There just are not enough hours in a day!

You can go here to download the free pattern.  Patterns for Snowflakes 1 and 2 are still available there as well, with Snowflake 2 still available for free.  See the Snowalong Week 1 post if you need details about how to access the patterns.

***Also note, if you already have pattern 1 or 2, you'll be getting a message from Craftsy about pattern updates.  I corrected an error in the cutting tables for Snowflake 1 version 1 (I had the colors flipped on patches BDE6, thanks for pointing it out Sandra), added a coloring diagram in pattern 1 and improved the coloring diagram in pattern 2.   Hopefully I have this figured out now, and there won't be too many more updates!***

All 4 versions of snowflake 1

All 4 versions of snowflake 2

Here are my blue snowflake blocks so far, Snowflakes 1, 2 and 3, version 1 for all of them.


Now it's your turn to share.   It's a busy time of year, and not quite winter yet, so there may not be a snowstorm (I was definitely off with last week's forecast!) but please do share any flurries occurring in your sewing room.  You can share on the Facebook Snowalong Sew-Along group anytime, or if you have a blog, write a post and link up below.  I'll leave the linky open all week.  If you are linking up, please make sure the link is to the specific post about your snowflake so that we can find it easily.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pillow tutorial


I like throw pillows but there’s only so much room on the sofa and the bed.  There’s also only so much room in the closets for storage. The solution?  Make pillow covers that I can change out as the mood strikes.

To make a cover for an 18” pillow form you will need:

  • 18 1/2” top (I like it quilted, but a square of pretty fabric will do as well)
  • 2  fabric rectangles 18 1/2” x 13”
  • 2” piece of hook and loop tape (like Velcro) (optional)
  • 2 yards of 2” double-fold binding (optional)

Preparing the back of the pillow


Step 1: Take one of the 18 1/2” x 13” rectangles. Call it Rectangle 1.  Fold one long edge over 1”, wrong sides together, and press the fold.

Step 2:  Fold the fabric another inch, enclosing the raw edge.  Press the fold.  (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step!)


Step 3:  Topstitch about 1/8” away from the folds, all along the length of the rectangle. Rectangle 1 should now measure 18 1/2” x 11” and one long side is hemmed with a 1” double-fold hem. 

Step 4:  Repeat steps 1 to 3 with the second rectangle.

To add a Velcro closure to your pillow cover, follow steps 5 to 7.

positioning velcro on pillowIMG_8784

Step 5: With wrong side of fabric facing up, position the the hook side of the Velcro halfway along the hem of Rectangle 1 and sew it securely in place.

measuring for velcro part 2 moire detailIMG_8786

Step 6: With hemmed edges overlapping, lay out both rectangles so that together they form an 18 1/2” square.  Measure the distance B (marked with a red arrow in the diagram above) from the outside edge of Rectangle 2 to the edge of the Velcro on rectangle 1.  The distance should be about 7 1/2”.

position velcro 2IMG_8794

Step 7:  Remove Rectangle 1.  With right side of the fabric facing up, position the loop side of the Velcro halfway down rectangle 2, a distance B away from the unhemmed long edge of the rectangle.

The back flaps of the pillow are ready.  Now you need to decide if you want to finish the pillow with or without binding.  The example on the left below has no binding.  The example on the right has binding.

Hearts pillowIMG_4647


Finishing without binding


Step 1: Layer the pillow top and Rectangle 1, right sides facing, matching raw edges, as shown above left.  Layer rectangle 2 over this, right side down, overlapping hemmed edges and matching raw edges of pillow top (see picture above right).  The two halves of Velcro should line up.  Pin everything in place.

Step 2:  Sew with a 1/4” seam allowance around all four sides of the square, backstitching at beginning and end to secure the stitching.

Step 3:  Turn pillow cover right side out, insert pillow form through the back, velcro the back shut and enjoy!


Finishing with binding


Step 1: Lay the pillow top wrong side up.  Layer Rectangle 2 over it, right side up, matching raw edges of rectangle and top (picture above left).

Step 2: Position Rectangle 1, right side up, overlapping hemmed edges and matching raw edges of pillow top (picture above right).  Velcro halves should line up.

Step 3:  Pin everything in place and baste all around the square with an 1/8” seam allowance.

Step 4: Bind as you would a quilt, using your favourite binding method.

Step 5:  Insert pillow form through the back of the pillow cover, Velcro the back shut and enjoy!


Snowflake log cabin tutorial




I had fun diving into my bin of blue scrap strips to make this pillow top.  I assembled it in a quilt-as-you-go style for a quicker finish, though I did go back and quilt in the ditch around the snowflake afterwards.



To make this you will need:

9” block of your choice (snowflake patterns available here)

Assorted light blue and medium/light blue strips in these sizes (6 strips total)

  • Log 1:  1 1/2” x 9 1/2” 
  • Log 2:  1 1/2” X 10 1/2” 
  • Log 5:  2” x 11 1/2”
  • Log 6:  2” x 13”
  • Log 9:  2 1/2” x 14 1/2”
  • Log 10: 1 1/2” x  16 1/2”

Assorted medium/dark and dark blue strips in these sizes (6 strips total)

  • Log 3:  1 1/2” x 10 1/2”
  • Log 4:  1 1/2’' x 11 1/2”
  • Log 7:  2” x 13”
  • Log 8:  2” x 14 1/2”
  • Log 11:  2 1/2” x 16 1/2”
  • Log 12:  2 1/2” x 18 1/2”

22” square of fabric for the back

21” square of batting

Basting spray

2 yards binding (optional)


Step 1:  Lay out and smooth the backing fabric, right side down.  Spray with basting spray and smooth square of batting on top, making sure all the batting adheres to the backing.

Step 2:  Spray the back of the snowflake block with basting spray.  Position the block, right side up, in the center of the batting.  Smooth block, making sure it sticks to the batting.


Step 3: Center Log 1, right side down, over one side of the snowflake block, matching sides of the block and strip. Sew through all layers with a 1/4” seam.


Step 4:  Fold Log 1 back and press open.  Add Log 2 to an adjacent side in the same manner .


Step 5: Referring to the diagram below, keep adding logs in order in the same manner.

Piecing order



Step 6: Trim the quilt to 18 1/2” square.  You can now bind it to make a table topper or wall quilt, or you can use it to make a pillow.  Come back tomorrow for directions to make a pillow.


Wouldn’t this make a pretty Christmas piece in red and green?

Snowflake Christmas pillow

PS:  This last snowflake will be the Snowalong Week 3 pattern!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Snowalong Week 2!

Judging by the number of Snowflake 1 pattern downloads there have been this week, there should be more than a few fabric snowflakes floating around.  I’m excited to see which versions of the snowflake other quilters have made, and what fabrics you chose to set them off, and whether any of your blocks have been incorporated into projects yet! Be sure to link up your snowflake post at the bottom of this post if you have a blog, or share your pictures on the Facebook  Snowalong Sew-along group.  Be sure to go see and kindly comment on what others have created too!

Here’s mine

If you checked out my freezer paper piecing tutorial last Tuesday you already saw my block for the week.  It’s version 2 of Snowflake 1.


I had planned to make at least one more, but my sewing machine got sick.  It really shouldn’t race then keep sewing all by itself.  The feed dogs shouldn’t stay still while it does that, either.  Sigh. As you have probably figured out, the machine is now at the sewing machine hospital.

A snowflake project idea

Before things went awry, I did manage to make a small project with a snowflake I had made earlier.  (This particular snowflake will be the week 5 pattern.)

Snowflake log cabin style pillow

I’m pleased with how it turned out.  If you’d like a pattern, pop back in on Tuesday.  I’ll share a short tutorial on assembling the top.  I made it into a pillow, but it would make a cute little wall quilt too, or a table topper.  You could even treat it as a single block in a larger quilt.  If you need help figuring out how to turn it into a pillow like I did, come back again on Wednesday for those instructions.

The next free pattern

If you’re ready to tackle Snowflake 2, or just now stumbled onto our Snowalong and want to catch up with last week’s Snowflake 1, both patterns are here, both still free this week.  If you’re new to the Snowalong you can go to last week’s post for information on how it works.

Please note: There has apparently been confusion about measurements listed in the cutting guidelines.  Everything is in inches.  1.375" = 1 3/8".  If you guessed 13/4" instead, don't worry. Paper piecing doesn't require precisely cut pieces, just pieces cut "big enough" to cover the intended patch plus 1/4" all around.  3/4 is bigger than 3/8, so you're still OK, it will definitely cover what needs to be covered. 

Now link up!

For those of you new to blogging and/or linky parties, a linky party is a list of links to posts on other blogs, often with a theme.  Anyone reading this blog can click on any of those links to be taken to those posts.  Our theme, of course, is snowflake blocks.

If you have a blog, write a post about your week’s snowflake sewing then come here and click on “click here to enter” at the bottom of this post. Follow the directions to add your post to the list of links.  Just be sure to link to the particular blog post, not to your blog in general.

For example, if I entered “”, the link would take you to my blog’s home page, where my most recent post is.

The more specific “” will take you directly to last week’s “Snowalong Week 1!” post.

To find the correct URL for your specific post, just click on the title of your post.  You’ll be taken to a page with only that one post on it, and the text showing in the navigation bar will be the URL for that post.

I’d appreciate a link back to this page in your blog post so that your readers can easily find the list of other bloggers sharing their efforts.  Another option is to add the Snowalong blog button to your sidebar.  You can grab the code for that on the Snowalong page.

Finally, remember it’s a linky party.  Please try to visit a few other blogs on the list, be sociable, mingle, leave a kind comment or two!

Let the snowstorm begin!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Freezer paper foundation piecing tutorial

IMG_8707My sewing room is nice and tidy today.  I thought tutorial pictures might be less confusing with no unrelated bits getting into the pictures.  Also, having you all here for the sew along seems like having company, and Mom taught me to tidy up for company.  I didn’t vacuum though, sorry!  I figure you all want to get sewing as well and probably understand.

In today’s tutorial I’ll share how I print my foundations on freezer paper, how I prepare the foundations, organize my fabric and finally sew everything together.  I’ll be using the Snowflake 1 templates and making version 2 of the snowflake.

Printing freezer paper foundations

You can trace the foundations onto freezer paper, or you can print them directly onto the paper if you have an inkjet printer.  (I’ve read it isn’t a good idea with a laser printer.)  I cut a piece of freezer paper to 8 1/2” x 11, the size of the regular paper I usually feed through the printer.  It does curl, and the printer doesn’t always get a good grip on the waxy surface to feed the paper through, so it needs a little help.


I place the freezer paper shiny side down on a scrap page of 8 1/2” x 11 paper. I iron a little sliver (between 1/4” and 1/2”) at the top edge of the page.  The freezer paper will stick to the scrap paper at that edge.

Now I can feed this through the printer, with the ironed edge going first, and the matte side of the freezer paper on the printing side. (That’s face up for my printer, but check yours to be sure).  I only stack one of these at a time in the printer’s paper tray, so I print only one copy of the template page at a time.

Preparing the foundations


Once I have printed the foundation on the freezer paper, I use my rotary cutter and ruler to cut them out.


The next step may seem like busy work, but I have found it really does help later when I have to fold the paper back as I sew.  This will make more sense when I describe that step.  For now, just trust me.  I fold the paper along all the seam lines between patches to crease it.  Extend the crease of each line all the way to the edges of the foundation.

Organizing my fabric


Using the tables in the pattern, I cut fabric to sizes that will cover the various patches and a 1/4” seam allowance around them.  For example, according to the cutting table in the pattern tells me that a blue 1 3/8” x 2” rectangles will be large enough to cover patch A1  (or B1, C1, D1, E1, F1).  I’ll need a total 12 of this size to finish the whole block.  

Altogether, there will be 83 pieces in this snowflake. Don’t run away!  It isn’t as scary as it sounds! When I lay them out by size and colour on a labeled sheet of paper they are much less intimidating.  For each size/color, I list all the corresponding patches that use that size and colour.

Finally sewing


Well, almost sewing.  First I am going to press the first piece of fabric to the foundation with a hot iron, right over the patch labeled “A1”.  The fabric should be right side up, with the wrong side down against the shiny side of the foundation, covering the whole patch and 1/4” around it.  I press with just the tip of my iron, trying not to set the faceplate on any bare bits of the freezer paper.  I don’t want melted wax (or whatever that shiny coating is) on my iron.  One of those tiny applique irons would probably work really well for this step, but I don’t have one. 


Next, I fold the paper back along the line between patches A1 and A2, right where I creased the paper earlier. I have to gently pull the paper away from the fabric if I ironed outside the line, which happens most of the time.  As I pull on the paper, it stops at the crease.  The fabric is still attached to the paper over patch A1.


Now I use my rotary cutter and ruler to trim excess fabric1/4” away from the folded paper.  This trimmed edge will be what I line up with the next bit of fabric.


Next I place the foundation with fabric attached over the fabric for patch A2 making sure right sides of fabrics are facing each other (this seems like no-brainer but don’t look too closely at some of my blocks!).  Holding the whole thing up to a light or window helps me see the outlines of A2 and the fabric I’m adding, so I can make sure the fabric is positioned to cover all of A2.  If all of A2 is at least 1/4” inside the fabric, everything is good to go and NOW I can go to the sewing machine.  Otherwise I reposition the fabric until it’s where it needs to be.


Keeping the paper foundation folded back, I sew just beside the fold, as close as I can go without catching the paper in the seam.  Before I first tried this, I thought it would be difficult to stitch just beside the seam, but it really wasn’t.  I’m glad I gave it a go.


Back at the ironing board, I unfold the paper and press things flat.  The fabric over A2 will now also Adhere to the foundation.


It’s time to carefully fold the paper along the line between A2 and A3 and trim the excess fabric 1/4” away from the folded edge of the paper.


I position the whole thing over the next piece of fabric, checking that the fabric covers A3 plus 1/4” around it.  Keeping the paper folded I head back to the sewing machine and sew close to the fold again.  Above on the right you see what things look like after I unfold and press.

So the routine is: fold paper at the next seam line, trim away excess fabric 1/4” away from the fold, position next piece of fabric, sew next to folded paper, open and press, repeat.  Add the patches in order:  A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, A6.


Here’s the back of section A after all the fabrics are added, and what the section looks like on the good side after I have trimmed around the paper.  You can see I could have used a slightly smaller piece of fabric for A6 but what I have works.  A bigger piece is OK, but if a patch is too very close to minimum size it’s trickier to position and to be sure it has all the proper seam allowances covered.  You’ll figure out how small you’re comfortable with.

I’ll repeat this for all the sections in the pattern.

Streamlining the process

This seems like a lot of  starting and stopping.  Here’s what I do to streamline the process a bit.  I get all the foundations and all the fabrics cut first, then I tackle each step in assembly-line fashion.  I iron the first patch of each section onto its foundation.  I fold and trim each of them, then go to the sewing machine for some chain sewing, sewing the seam on all them, then press all of them and repeat the steps to add the next patch to each section.  Having the fabric organized on the labeled sheet of paper really helps me keep track of what fabric to use where.

Assembling the sections


Here are all my finished sections, ready to put together into a snowflake.  I assemble them in the order given in the pattern:  join A to B, join C to D, join E to F, being careful not to stretch anything.  I'll gently remove the freezer paper before sewing sections together.


This is where those shaped seam allowances at the points come in handy.  You can see in the middle picture above that the trimmed points on A line up perfectly with the sides of B.  No guesswork!


Then I join AB to CD, then ABCD to EF to make 2 snowflake halves.


After sewing one snowflake half to each side of the shaped strip G I have a snowflake!  Again, the trimmed points lined help me match up the halves with the points on the strip.


To turn this into a square block I need to add triangles H and G.  Because no matter how careful I am my blocks often end up with slightly wonky sides, or just a hair undersized, I have chosen to use the oversized triangle option from the pattern and then trim the block to size.

Just a side note, here’s how I trim the triangle points using the templates:


I place the template over the triangle, tucking up into the point I want to trim until both sides of the triangle template are flush with the sides of the fabric triangle.  Then I use my ruler and rotary cutter to slice of the protruding point off the fabric triangle.  Done!  You might like to print the template on freezer paper and iron it to the fabric triangle to help it stay put while you fuss with the ruler.

Now back to making this block a square.


I trim off the little triangle tail, in line with he side of the snowflake hexagon, then continue adding the other 3 triangles in the same way.


At this point I measure the block and trim the block to 9 1/2” wide, trimming from both sides to keep the snowflake centered.


Now I add my 1 1/4” x 9 1/2” strip to the top and bottom and trim the block to 9 1/2” square, so that it will be a tidy 9” finished when it’s sewn into a project.  Ta da!  All done.

As I’ve said elsewhere, you can use any paper-piecing method you would like for these snowflakes.  This is the one I prefer, but something else might work better for you.  Whichever method you choose, go sew!  I’m looking forward to seeing your faux-frosty creations next Monday!


IMPORTANT NOTE:  When I finished this block this morning I realized there was a typo in the pattern.  The pattern says to cut a 1” by 9 1/2” strip of background for the top and bottom borders.  It should be 1 1/4” x 9 1/2”.    

So, when you get the email from Craftsy letting you know there’s been an update, that’s what it is. Don’t feel you need to print out the whole thing again!

Button 7 
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