Sunday, 31 July 2011

Book recommendations please!

Just got myself a Kindle. I'm looking for some summer holiday / sitting by the pool / page turning reads.  What are you all time fave books, your current faves, your top tips and recommendations.  Something you really really loved or that really really gripped you or you really really loved for whatever reason.

ZombieBobSquarePants mahusive pillow tute

I made this pillow (my first ever pillow) yesterday and thought I"d do a quick tute for it.  This pillow is a massive 24".  I have called it ZombieBobSquarePants since it is made with Happy Zombie's Happy Mochi Yum Yum line.

DSC_0016

To cut my HSTs out for this pillow, I used my Baby Go Cutter and the Half Square 4" Finished Triangle dies.  I have heard people say that they would not want to cut their HSTs using an Accuquilt cutter since they prefer to trim their triangles.  I thought I would feel the same which is why I tried out making this pillow.  And I have to say that this method is just as neat and accurate as the method where you sew squares together, cut in half, press open and trim the squares but sooooo much quicker and easier.  Cutting the triangles took about 3 - 4 minutes and some of that time was fabric selection.  Once sewn, the tedious trimming stage is eliminated as is the stage of trimming corner as the Accuquilt corners are pre-trimmed.  I am seriously thinking of making a whole quilt of this block and I would not have contemplated it before given how slow the whole process is when you have to trim all those squares.

1.   To start off, you will need to cut 32 coloured fabric HSTs, 24 background fabric HSTs and eight 4 1/2" background fabric squares.


2.   If you do not have a Baby Go cutter, you will need to cut sixteen 5" squares of coloured fabrics, twelve 5" squares of background fabrics and eight 4 1/2" squares of background fabric and then follow the instructions in the original LBSP tute here.

3.   Sew together four pairs of coloured fabric triangles along the long diagonal line.  I like to choose one darker and one lighter fabric for this bit to give the finished square some definition.  Sew the remaining coloured triangles into pairs with the background fabric triangles.  Press seams to the dark side.  Lay out all your HST squares and neutral squares to make the pattern in the finished block.


4.   Sew into rows pressing to the left in one row, to the right in the next, to the left in the next and to the right in the next so that, when you join the rows, the seams can butt up against each other.  Sew the rows together and press these seams open and VOILA you have your very own [insert your own name here] BobSquarepants.


5.   Choose a piece of dodgy old fabric to use as your backing fabric and cut so it is about 1" bigger than the pillow top all round.  I used a piece of old sheet.  This will be on the inside of the pillow and never seen.  Cut a piece of batting to the same size.  Lay the three pieces into a quilt sandwich and baste.  Here I have my basted quilt sandwich together with my choice of quilting threads.


6.   Quilt as desired.  I quilted in straight lines using threads to contrast against the background.   I use Aurifil 40wt on top and 50wt in the bobbin in charcoal, raspberry and variegated yellow.  This was my first straight line quilting using the 40wt and I love how it stands out against the fabric - it quilted beautifully.


7.   For my pillow back, I made a simple pieced square within a square block finished at 24" square with a couple of inches added on one side to allow for the insertion of a zip.  I quilted this in the same way as I quilted the front.  Some people just use plain, unquilted fabric on the back but I like the heavier weight of quilted fabric for a pillow.  An alternative would be to use something heavier like linen, a home dec fabric or a shot cotton.


8.  There are plenty of tutorials out there for pillow backs - you can use a simple envelope, insert a zipper or add buttons.  I will leave you to choose which method you use to make your pillow back.

9.   I then baste the pillow front to the pillow back, wrong sides together, using a long machine stitch about 1/4" from the edges of the pillow.

10.   Bind the finished pillow as you would a quilt, machine sewing the binding to the front using a seam which is just over 1/4" then flipping to the back and hand sewing down.  I use a 2 1/2" binding strip for this to compensate for the double thickness of the two quilted pieces together.


When I had finished, I asked my son Jack which side of the pillow he preferred.  He said - can I be honest Mum?  I said yes, of course. He said I don't really like either side.  

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Little Apples coming to town

Little Apples, the fabulous new range designed by my uber talented fellow Brit, Aneela, will be available from Sew Fresh Fabrics from Monday.  Do not miss out. It will sell fast.

Happy Birthday Fat Quarter Shop

Happy Birthday to the Fat Quarter Shop who are 8 years old this week.  To celebrate, they are having a mega sale and there are tons of bargains to be had.   Be quick though, things are selling fast and the sale ends on Wednesday 3 August at midnight EST.  Here are my three top picks.

Parisville 28 FQ stack for $38.75

Friday, 29 July 2011

HEXALONG -- No-baste EPP

Hi! I'm Jennifer from The Enchanted Bobbin. I am having a great time with Lynne and Gayle's summer "Hexalong," and am delighted to share the tutorial I posted last Friday for no-baste piecing. I am also very excited to announce a Quilt Patis giveaway (!) and a great Hexalong discount code for pre-cut Paper Pieces. Yay! All the details are on my blog today.

Although I spend most of my time in the worlds of writing and ideas, I'm also a recovering knitaphile and a happy (if sometimes closeted) sewist.  My blog is just a few months old, but I have been following the online quilting and sewing communities for the past couple of years.  It has been so much fun to start to share some of my quilting and other sewing, and to receive feedback...so I hope you'll swing by and say hello!

No-baste hexagons
For anyone who has been around the English Paper Piecing block a time or two, what I am about to explain will be No Big News.  But I know that I have learned a ton about sewing and quilting from bloggers' posts on basic techniques, so I thought I would do a little tutorial -- with the hope that it might prove helpful to someone out there!  Please do let me know if this is useful or if there's anything I could clarify.  This is my first attempt at a stitchy tutorial of any kind, so I would love to hear from you.

The past couple of weeks I have been having fun churning out some large hexagons for the Hexalong (hexagon quilt-along) being hosted by Lynne of Lily's Quilts and Gayle Brindley.  As I described in an earlier post, I decided to make my hexagons quite large -- 4" along each side.  I ordered some supplies at the beginning of the week, including a variety of precut hexies and 4" 60 degree diamonds from Paper Pieces and also some plastic "Quilt Patis" from Sew Sisters -- which is a great little quilt shop in North Toronto.

Quilt Patis are plastic templates used for EPP (English Paper Piecing).  In the past two days I have come to love them because they allow for very crisp shapes and points and they're endlessly reusable.


They also allow for piecing without sewing any basting stitches.

If you're completely new to paper piecing it might be worth clarifying: when you work with large shapes cut from paper, you generally wrap your seam allowances around the paper shape, and baste (temporarily stitch) your fabric right through the paper.

ETA:  Precut shapes like those from Paper Pieces are reusable, even after you remove your basting stitches!  Homemade paper shapes seem to show their wear much more...or at least mine do :(

Here's an example: my first of the large hexies, stitched to a homemade printer-paper template.


As you can see, the basting stitches are large and need to be highly visible (they're taupe; squint and you'll see them!) -- because they will need to be removed later,  when the quilt top is assembled and they're no longer needed.



Lynne posted an excellent tutorial on EPP here, and I know there must be many more available.

While this traditional method works well, I have to say that all that cutting of paper pieces and stitching things that later need to be removed can test my patience.  So for many of my hexies I am going to be doing what I did intuitively when I first played with EPP: sewing shapes without basting.

The no-basting approach won't be reliable for larger sizes of paper pieces, but it certainly worked very well for me when making smaller ones, like the 1" hexagons I was playing with last spring



                                                                   and it is the method you use with plastic Quilt Patis too.

DISCLAIMER: These steps are super-quick and easy, and when I first started making hexagons I had no idea that I was leaving out a step.  When I discovered that other people basted their hexagons, I worried that there might be some terrible unforeseen consequence to my improvised method.  But there isn't...and I recently discovered that I'm not the only one doing things this way.  Phew. 

Anyway, you might find that you like making no-baste hexagons so much that you'll need to buy yourself a jumbo bag of precut paper pieces, like I did!



Here's what I do: I either pin the hexie to my fabric, or just hold it firmly if no pin is at hand.




Then I cut around the paper piece, leaving at least 1/4" all around.  I don't generally work with white fabrics, so I don't have to stress about the neatness or precision of my cutting: it won't be seen.


Now you just fold and wrap...kind of like wrapping a present.



With needle and thread (of any colour -- it won't be seen), catch the fabric to the left and right of the fold, but don't penetrate the paper piece inside.




I don't bother to knot the thread -- it will never need to be removed, but it also isn't essential to the stability of a finished quilt top.  It's only purpose is to give the hexie shape during piecing.  I have found that three nice tight stitches hold firmly, without a knot.  I hope that works for you too!

Continue to fold and stitch about three times in every corner, just carrying the thread as you move around the perimeter of the shape.






Voila!






Go on and make hundreds of these little cuties...you know you want to!


****
It was very easy for me to get started using Quilt Patis, because they are actually designed to be used the same way I was using my paper pieces: without basting stitches. 

Here's how I used 2" diamonds to make these 4" star hexies:



Once again, I cut around the shape, leaving a reasonable seam allowance but not worrying much about accuracy.



Fold and pinch firmly




and then fold a corner at one of the points of the diamond.  Here accuracy does matter, and these corners are much sharper than those of a hexagon: take care to fold a nice crisp point.  You will have a little flap of extra fabric folded over to one side. 


Insert the needle, catching the fabric on either side, a comfortable distance from the point. 

  
I make three nice, tight, secure stitches.

I move around the perimeter, aiming to make crisp corners as I go, taking a few firm stitches at each point.



When all four corners are done, I can stop and admire my work.  The points of the diamond look crisp, and the folded bits of corner fabric are visible, even from the front - but that's fine.


It takes six of these diamonds to make a star. The plastic Patis help to keep the shapes very well-defined, so you can match up sides perfectly and whipstitch them together.



Take a look at Lynne's excellent whipstitch video -- this stitch is easy and also essential to assembling your EPP shapes -- whether you're connecting little hexies or triangles-within-a-hexagon.  Here's some stitching where you do most definitely want to knot your thread!  This is sewing-for-construction: these are stitches that need to hold for a good long time, so make them as secure as possible -- without pulling too tightly.

 Matching the beginnings and endings of the diamonds' sides is key here.  I hold quite firmly as I whipstitch.  It's fun to see the star shape emerge as you add diamonds.










I haven't found any problem working around the little flappy bits that result from each folded corner.  I just nudge the flaps aside so I can keep working the whipstitch neatly through the inside edges of each diamond side. I try to pay special attention to lining up the inside corners, where all six diamond points are going to meet.


Patterned fabric really helps to hide any imperfections, but I think the centre points look pretty good, even in this solid.


And now it's time to work the second set of six diamonds in a contrasting fabric.  When whipstitching these to the star, you have to deal with some "Y" seams, and because the Patis are firm plastic, they can't be bent and manipulated like paper can.  But I am finding that if I just take a little care at the "V" the seams come out really well.



Penelope is a great help.




Not.

Keep making and then attaching those contrast diamonds...


and soon you have a finished hexie star!  And no basting stitches to remove...ever!

I make no claim at originality here, but I really hope that this little tutorial is helpful to you.  Sorry to ramble on...I'll leave you to your sewing!

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Some Aurifil news

When I showed this photo on Flickr yesterday, some of the UK quilters asked where they could get hold of some of the colours of Aurifil thread I am going to quilt my Circle Game BOM quilt with.  If you are in a different country and would like the same information as to the biggest online stockists in your country, let me know and I will find out for you.  Don't forget you can also find your local stockist using the Aurifil app.

Amitie BOM the circle game - thinking about quilting

I have checked with Aurifil and have been pointed in the direction of the following two UK shops:

New Threads Quilt Shop stock every weight of Aurifil thread in a wide range of colours as well as carrying colours cards and some of the wonderful Aurifil 12 spool collection packs such as this Sarah Vedeler collection which pretty much holds all my favourite colours in 50wt:


The Button Company stock Aurifil wool 12 wt - which can be used for embroidery, hand quilting, cross sticth and also machine quilting - in a whole array of colours.


Of course anyone going to the Festival of Quilts can stop by stand G10 and choose Aurifil threads to their heart's content.  I should also mention that Sarah Vedeler one of the Aurifil Qualified Master Designers: Sarah Vedeler will be at Quilt Direct's booth (C41/E40) demonstrating her embroidery with all her Aurifil kits collections available.