Monday, 26 September 2016

Playground Showcase

Hello!! Welcome to the Playground Showcase, featuring Amy Sinibaldi's latest line for Art Gallery Fabrics. The colours in this collection are so completely perfect; pink, coral, mustard, plum and blue. All my favourites! We were still in the thick of winter when I was planning the quilt design, the days were mostly grey and dreary. Creating a quilt of spring bulbs was the perfect way to bring my favourite season forward a little.

I started out with the nine-patch tulip block from '1000 Great Quilt Blocks' by Maggi McCormick Gordon. I made a few changes, removing the nine-patch at the centre, changing some of the proportions and shrinking it to a 6" block. I drafted the pattern in EQ7, then cut plastic templates for most of the pieces. Templates might be a slower way to go but I think they're worth it for accuracy, especially with tricky shapes like these. The plastic templates also made it easy to fussy cut the fabrics.

Spring is officially here now but the quilt is still brightening my day up, it's hanging on the wall where I pinned it to take photos, I don't really want to take it down. Can you tell how wet and grey it was when I took the photos? I've had to do a lot of editing to brighten them up!

The tulip blocks are scattered across the quilt in my first attempt at an improv style, off-grid layout. I was feeling brave! I laid the blocks out randomly then filled in the gaps with the background fabric. To keep track of the quilt size, I used my Irish Chain quilt as a guide, laying the blocks out on top of the quilt. I liked the way the Irish Chain looked peeking through so I added a few on-point squares to the quilt. I like the quirkiness of that little addition. My cat was (as usual) drawn to the quilt, I wasn't too happy the day she ran all over it with muddy paws! But she does look cute sitting on it!

The quilting was done by Donna Ward on her long arm machine. I was keen on figure eight quilting but Donna wasn't sure about doing it without any horizontal reference points in the piecing, so she came up with the idea of adding wavy lines and using those as the reference points. Brilliant! I love the softness that all those curves bring to the pointy corners of the tulip block.

With the quilt finished, I shrunk the 6" block down to a 3" on-point paper pieced block, the perfect size to feature on the cover of a needle book. Of course I used Amy's needle book tutorial. These fabrics work so well in teeny tiny piecing too! I will be popping the free 3" spring bulb pattern in my Craftsy store very soon.

And finally, one more make to share...

Anna Maria Horner's Gathering Flowers quilt block is a perfect match for Playground fabrics don't you think? This is going to be a pillow for my daughter. I just need to decide whether to keep it square or trim it for a round pillow. Hmmm....

Amy has written a blog post about her inspiration for the fabric line, and you can see swatches of all the fabrics, and the look book by clicking here. Visit the links below to check out what everyone else is making in the Playground Showcase. There are so many beautiful makes already and we're only half way through. Seriously, you'll need a little time to check out these blog posts! Oh and if you're on Instagram, the hashtag is #playgroundshowcase.


14: Katie Skoog ~
              15: Michelle Curtis ~
              16: Peta Peace ~
              17: Minki Kim ~
              19: Jemima Flendt ~
              20: Tara J Curtis ~
              21: Alexis Wright ~
              22: Melissa LeRay ~
              23: Ali Brorsen ~
              24: Angie Wilson ~
              26: Rachel McCormack ~
              27: Stacy Olson ~
              28: Shannon Fraser ~
              29: Cristi Cooper ~
              30: Guiseppe Ribaudo ~


1: Kristyne Czepuryk ~
             3: Amy Sinibaldi ~

Quilt Stats;

Quilt name: I've just now realised I haven't thought of a name, maybe 'Early Spring'!?
Size: 56"x63"
Batting: 100% cotton from Hobbs
Background and binding fabric: Essex linen in Ivory by Robert Kaufman and a little Blueberry Park on Snow
Long Arm Quilted by: Donna Ward

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Carrie Tutorial: Block 21 in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sewalong

Yesterday I met Marti Michell, in person and in my home town! What a treat! Marti is currently in New Zealand holding workshops and trunk shows. She is being hosted by Grandmother's Garden, a quiltshop that is just 15 minutes from where I live. I feel very privileged to have been able to sit down and chat with her. She is so charming! One of the first quilts I ever made used Marti's hexagons plus template set and I've used her templates for many quilts since. Back then I never could've imagined that one day I would get a chance to meet her. Don't you just love the opportunities that quilting can bring! Thank you Marti for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me!

So that was the glamour side of Angie's 1930s Farmer's Wife quilt-a-long, now it's back to the business side! Today I have a block tutorial for you. Block 21, Carrie, looks straightforward, but it's not quite as easy as it looks! The tricky bit is the non-standard measurements for each piece.  I decided the easiest way to go was to foundation paper piece this block. If you have From Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Templates Set Q you can follow Marti's directions here to make the block.

I'm using my favourite foundation paper piecing method, with freezer paper as the foundation. This method differs from the more traditional approach to Foundation Paper Piecing as you don't sew through the paper. Instead you use the magical properties of freezer paper... when you iron fabric to the shiny side of it, the fabric sticks like glue but it can also be peeled away with no side effects. In this method, rather than sew through the paper, the paper is folded back along the seam line and you sew right next to that fold. When you've finished the freezer paper is simply peeled off. Which brings me to the my favourite advantage of this method, there are no papers to rip out when the block is finished. And the freezer paper is ready to be used again. For more information, check out the tutorials I've done previously using this technique, find them here and here.

What you'll need;

  • Usual sewing requirements
  • Freezer paper; available in supermarkets in America. In other parts of the world, look for it in your local quilt store. If you're in Australia or New Zealand your local Spotlight should stock it, it's also available on Amazon. This is what it looks like;

  • A stapler or washi tape.

Let's get started...

Step 1: Print the paper piecing pattern pieces for block 21

The paper piecing pattern for Carrie can be found on the CD at the back of your Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt book. Make sure that your templates have printed at 100% by measuring the 1" line included on the page.

Step 2: Make freezer paper foundation templates

The pattern for this block has nine templates but as we'll be reusing our freezer paper templates we only need to create the three unique templates.  Two of these three are mirror images of each other so we'll make them both at the same time. We'll be creating templates for section E and just one of the other pieced sections. For more information on creating the templates see my previous tutorial No Ripping Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial Part One.
  • Cut three pieces of freezer paper large enough to cover the template pieces with room to spare.
  • Layer two pieces of freezer paper, (one shiny side down, one shiny side up) behind the pattern print out (choose any of sections B, D, F, G, H or I) . 
  • Staple through the three layers (pattern on top) to hold the layers in place.
  • Sew along the template lines with the needle on your sewing machine (remove the thread, you may also like to use an old needle). This gives you perforations along all the seam lines.  Note there is no need to sew along the 1/4" seam line as we'll add that in the next step.
  • Trim back excess freezer paper from your templates. Add the 1/4" seam allowance at this point by cutting 1/4" beyond the perforated line using your ruler and rotary cutter.
  • Repeat the process using your third piece of freezer paper to create a template for section E
  • Your templates are ready, rethread your machine.

Step 3: Cut fabric

For foundation paper piecing always cut your fabric larger than required so that you can trim back later. I hate wasting fabric so I always cut my pieces for foundation paper piecing as small as I can, if you prefer more wriggle room, feel free to cut your pieces slightly larger.
  • For the larger squares cut eight 2" squares in each colour (these squares are labelled #21D and #21E in the book)
  • For the triangles cut four 1 1/2" squares then cross cut on the diagonal to create the corner triangles (#21A in the book)
  • For the centre square cut a 1 1/2" square (#21B in the book)
  • Cut four rectangles 1 1/2" x 3 1/2" (#21C in the book)

Step 4: Prepare to sew the first seam

  • Iron the first square of dark fabric, wrong side down, to the shiny (sticky) side of your freezer paper templates. Position fabric so that it covers the template allows 1/4" seam allowance (see below), if you have directional fabric, take note of the direction.

  • Fold the template back along the first seam line (this is the diagonal line) and trim excess fabric from that edge so that there is a 1/4" seam allowance beyond the seam line. I use my rotary cutter and ruler for this step but you could also use scissors.

  • Line up your triangle fabric piece with this cut edge (wrong sides together). See below.

Step 5: Sew first seam

  • Keep the freezer paper folded back along the seam line.
  • Sew the seam as close as you can get to the paper without sewing over the paper. Use your normal stitch length.
  • If you do sew through the paper, don't worry, just gently pull the freezer paper away from the stitches before the next step (yes, I've done this many times!).

  • Iron fabric to the freezer paper as shown below.
  • Fold template back along the next seam line and trim seam allowance to 1/4" as shown below. 

You're now ready to sew the second seam.

Step 6: Sew second seam

  • With wrong sides together, line up the light coloured square with the seam line and again, sew as close as you can get to the paper without sewing through the paper.

Step 7: Finish pieces

  • Iron fabric to the freezer paper.
  • Trim excess fabric from all edges, using the freezer paper as a guide.
  • Gently remove freezer paper by peeling away from fabric.

Step 8: Repeat for remaining pieced sections

Repeat above process starting from Step 4, re-using the templates, until you have made all eight pieced sections. Repeat the same process to piece the middle strip (section E).

Step 9: Create rectangle sections

For the remaining two rectangle sections that don't requiring piecing, I simply trimmed the freezer paper template for Section E so that I had a template for just the rectangles. Iron these templates to your fabric and use as a guide when cutting.

Step 10: Sew block together

  • Lay all the sections out as per block layout.

  • Sew pieces together, following the directions on the pattern.

Step 11: Finished block!

Hooray, we're done! Stand back and admire your handy work! Don't forget to share on Instagram (using #FQS1930farmerswife and #fw21carrie), in the Flickr group and/or Facebook!

How are you going with your blocks? Are you keeping up or are you like me and falling way behind?

A huge thank you to our sponsors Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell for their support. The upcoming blog schedule is as follows;

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

A pillow and a tutorial

Hello! I'm back! Maybe it looked like I'd given up on blogging but I promise I haven't! Now I can't wait to get caught up on all those projects that haven't been blogged (going back to November last year!!). First up I have a pillow that I made for Alison and Sami's Instagram pillow swap a while back...


No, not that one! I spotted this pillow in a shop window in Auckland over the summer holidays, I thought it would be fun to recreate something like it for my partner in the swap.  I really wanted to replicate the way the "blocks" interlock but I still haven't figured out how to do that. I played around with scale before deciding that the blocks needed to be small, not as small as the ones in my inspiration pillow though, that would be crazy. Even so, my narrow strips ended up being 3/8" wide (finished). I think that's as small as I could go without resorting to foundation paper piecing, much as I love paper piecing, I prefer not to if I can help it!

The background fabric is from Katarina Roccella's Wonderland collection, Diamond Flush in Gold. The squares on my cutting board are 1cm not 1", these blocks are tiny!

Pillow in progress

Pillow in progress

Pillow in progress

Pillow in progress

Here's my finished pillow. It really needs a better name... maybe "Summer Cabin"...


I had two people ask for block dimensions (yay, thank you both!! ;b) and here they are... for a 4 1/4" finished block...

Quarter Log Cabin coloured

For each "Summer Cabin" block you will need;

Background fabric;
  • one 7/8" x 15 3/4" strip, cross cut into the dimensions in the diagram above. (I suggest cutting your strips a little longer, say 17", so that you have some wriggle room, or am I the only one who runs out of fabric for the last cut?)
  • two 1 1/4" squares

Main fabric:
  • one 1 1/4" x 19" strip, cross cut into the dimensions in the diagram above. (As above, I suggest cutting your strips a little longer, say 20", so that you have some wriggle room.)


To piece the block;

Start with the 1 1/4" square of main fabric. Sew the smallest background strip to the left of this fabric square,  then sew the second smallest background strip to the top of this pieced unit. Now add the main fabric strips, on the left of the pieced unit, then the top of the pieced unit. Continue alternating adding background and main fabric strips. Before adding the last round of strips, sew the background squares to the main fabric strips. Your block is complete.


To make a 20" pillow 

  • you'll need 13 blocks
  • my sashing strips are cut 7/8" wide
  • for the side setting triangles cut five 5 1/8" squares in half on the diagonal
  • for the corner setting triangles cut one 5 1/2" square in quarters on the diagonals
  • if you use only one background fabric like I did, you'll need 1/2-3/4 yard. Cut the setting triangles first as they're the largest cuts
  • the pillow finishes at 20" square
  • mine is quilted using my walking foot and a serpentine stitch
  • my favourite technique for adding a zipper is Svetlana's zipper closure tutorial. Svetlana's tutorial is for a 16" pillow. For a 20" pillow, I cut 12"x21" and 15"x21" pieces for the pillow back (this allows for wriggle room!!)
  • feel free to play with block layout, orientation, colours...
Let me know if you try this out, I'd really love to see! I know I've skimmed over some of the details, so if you have any problems or questions message me on IG or send me an email (links to both are over on the top right).

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Tiny Toffee Blog Hop

Hello! Welcome! It's my turn on the Tiny Toffee Blog Hop! I'm really excited to show you what I've been working on... but first let me introduce Susi. I feel like Susi and I go waay back. She's been coming up with brilliant ideas that I can't resist getting involved in for several years now. It started back in 2013 when she set up a Weekender Friends group on Flickr. I have a sneaky feeling that none of us have actually made our Weekender Bags (yet!) but we had a lot of fun making blocks for each other. Susi's latest venture is Tiny Toffee Designs. She's created the most adorable, tiny paper pieced patterns to fit inside a 1" hexagon. Her latest pattern set is 'Dream Big', there's an elephant, a swan, mountains and more. And they are all tiny. Susi asked me to share the heart design with you today but as you'll see, I couldn't stop there.

A little bit about how I did the foundation paper piecing... I used my tried and true, most favourite technique... using freezer paper instead of paper to create reusable templates (no paper ripping required). Find my tutorial here. The only thing I did differently for these tiny patterns, after sewing each seam I trimmed the seam allowance to 1/8" to reduce bulk.

If you've taken a peek at the photos below you'll notice there is not pieced hexagon in sight. It's not that I'm against English Paper Piecing, but my first EPP project has been a work in progress for three years now so it seemed best not to start a new one! Instead I've used Susi's patterns to make the ends of Kristyne's Round Pencil Case (find Kristyne's pattern here), they were a perfect fit for each other!

Pop over to Susi's Tiny Toffee Designs Etsy store to see more of her beautiful designs!

For more inspiration, take a look at the rest of the Blog Tour...

Friday, 5 February 2016

Georgia Tutorial: Block 37 in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sewalong

I'm back! The summer holidays are over and my children have gone back to school. There's no time to dwell on how terribly quiet the house is, I've filled the silence with the hum of my sewing machine. After two months of zero sewing I am more than ready to get stuck back in.

Today I'm thrilled to be sharing a few tips and tricks to help you make the Georgia block in the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sewalong hosted by Angie @GnomeAngel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell.

With mostly squares and just four half square triangles Gerogia is straightforward to sew together. The tricky part is cutting, six divided by five is not an easy number to measure on your ruler, you really need templates for this one. You can use the templates provided in the CD at the back of the book, or Marti Michell template Set S (The 6" Five-Patch Block Set).

I've used my Marti Michell templates to make this block but if you're printing the templates here're a few things I've found helpful when working from printed templates;
  • a loop of washi tape or sellotape on the back of paper templates is really useful for holding the paper in place while cutting the fabric.
  • I place my ruler on top of the paper template and line it up with the edge of the paper so that I can use a rotary cutter for cutting.
  • template plastic is another option and is especially useful if you'll be reusing your templates. Make your templates by tracing the pieces on to template plastic and cutting them out. Then place your templates on to the fabric and trace around the plastic with a Sewline pen, use scissors to cut the fabric along the traced line.
  • another option is to use freezer paper to make your templates, you can then iron the template to the fabric before cutting out.
If you need help on how to construct this block then check out Marti's instructions for making Georgia using Set S here. Don't miss the "From Marti Michell Chart #34' link at the bottom of the post for a one page PDF with complete instructions for the block. Angie has also written a detailed tutorial for Georgia here.  Rather than repeat the instructions, I thought I'd share some general tips on making the block. Please note, this is what works for me, you may prefer to do things differently, the important thing is to figure out what works best for you.

Tips for making Georgia 

  1. Take care choosing fabrics. I wanted to choose three fabrics that would work well together, work in with my other blocks and be different enough from each other that my careful piecing didn't get blurred from one fabric to the next. Don't ask me how long it took to choose these three fabrics, after a two month holiday, I was feeling a little rusty! I ended up leaving several fabric options lying around where I could see them every time I walked past. Seeing them throughout the day helped eliminate a couple of fabrics and I settled on the three in the photo below, Hope Valley by Denyse Schmidt, Meadow by Leah Duncan and Homebody by Kimberly Kight for Cotton and Steel. Taking a black and white image is a useful way to see the difference in value between the three fabrics. To help keep my Farmer's Wife fabric organised I keep it all in a separate container.

  2. Iron fabrics before cutting. I don't prewash my fabrics so they still have sizing which keeps the fabric crisp and means I almost never use starch.
  3. Cut carefully. I love the engineered corners on the Marti Michell templates, they make piecing triangles so much easier. I'd almost finished cutting when I decided that I didn't need to cut the engineered corners on the square pieces.
  4. Lay block pieces out before sewing and take note of any directional fabric. I only used one directional fabric, the Leah Duncan Meadow print (Sprinkled Noon). I chose to arrange the sprinkles so that they're all running in the same direction.
  5. In preparation for sewing, I pick up the pieces in the same order every time. I move from left to right, starting at the top row. I stack the two pieces of fabric on top of each other so that the seam I'm about to sew is always on the right hand side.
  6. Make sure you're using a scant 1/4" seam. My Husqvarna Viking machine has a 1/4" setting which moves the needle to the right of centre position and means I can use the standard foot for sewing. I've found that I need to line the fabric up so that it's just a tad to the left of the edge of the foot to achieve an accurate 1/4" seam. Get to know your machine so that you can achieve an accurate 1/4" seam every time. With lots of small pieces and only 6" blocks an accurate seam allowance is really important.
  7. Chain piece where possible.
  8. Iron each seam flat to set it, then iron the seam open. I almost always iron my seams open as I like the block to sit flat. I iron to the side if I think the fabric will sit more easily that way. For this block, I ironed all seams open except the two middle seams with the HSTs, these I ironed away from the HST (towards the middle, see image below). For the second (middle) row I ironed the centre seams away from the middle so that I could nest the centre seams between rows.

  9. I use a pin or two when I'm matching seams, especially when the seams have been ironed open.
  10. My final piece of advice, take your time and enjoy each step of the process :)

Click here to purchase a copy of the book The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99

See below for upcoming tutorials...

02/02/2016: Angie @ & Marti @ Marti Michell
03/02/2016: Tina @ Emily Ann's Kloset
04/02/2016: Angie @ & Marti @ Marti Michell
05/02/2016: Rachel @ Wooden Spoon Quilts (you are here!)
09/02/2016: Angie @ & Marti @ Marti Michell
10/02/2016: Peta @ She Quilts Alot
11/02/2016: Angie @ & Marti @ Marti Michell
12/02/2016: Sherri @ A Quilting Life
16/02/2016: Angie @ & Marti @ Marti Michell
17/02/2016: Nathalie @ Les Ouvrages de Nat
18/02/2016: Angie @ & Marti @ Marti Michell
19/02/2016: Anita @ Daydreams of Quilts
23/02/2016: Angie @ & Marti @ Marti Michell
24/02/2016: Raylee @ Sunflower Quilting
25/02/2016: Angie @ & Marti @ Marti Michell
26/02/2016: Jemima @ Tied With a Ribbon & Rachel @ Family Ever After
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