Oakshott placemat tutorial

I was lucky enough to get to play along with Sew Mama Sew’s latest Oakshott Challenge. They sent me a lovely bundle of fat eighths in blues and purples. I had to come up with a table linen for the challenge. I decided to make up a placemat with some EPP (English Paper Piecing). I had fun with my tote for a challenge in April using Oakshott. I really enjoy playing with these fabrics!

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette17

Ooh, these fabrics are so spectacular. I talked about them a little bit in my tote post. The warp and weft are different colored threads that together have a wonderful way to play with the light. As in my last challenge piece, I decided simple was the best way to go with these fabrics. I wanted to use a slight turning of the pieces to show off the shimmering effect of the fabrics, and chose diamond shapes for the pattern.

Here is the how to if you want to make your own:

Supplies:

Oakshott fat eighth bundle

Scraps of linen to make a 14” X 18” piece. (I started bigger and trimmed down to size)

Batting

1 1/2” EPP 6 point 60 degree diamond papers I get mine from PaperPieces.com you will need 30 to make this one applique.

And of course your regular sewing supplies for cutting and hand stitching.

Let’s get started.

First I marked one side of my paper pieces so I knew which fabrics they were supposed to be used for.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette01

You will need 6 diamonds for the inside star, I’m calling this my dark. You will need 6 diamonds for the row around the dark center star. I’m calling this my lightest fabric. For the outer hexagon shape, you will need 12 diamonds. I’m calling this my medium. And the accent diamonds on the outer hexagon, I’m calling my darkest. You will need 6 diamonds for the darkest.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette02

Just make sure you mark your pieces so you understand what is going where.

With Oakshott fabric, the texture and weave is slightly different than other quilting cotton. Because of the weave, and because it is going to be EPPd, I starched my fabric first. Starch it well now and you will shrink the fabric a bit. It will also help to hold it’s shape as you are piecing now and when you need to take the papers out too.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette03

Now you are ready to cut out the fabric. Because of the play on the light I wanted to achieve, it is important to make sure you are cutting all your similar colored pieces in exactly the same direction, with the grain of the fabric. Hopefully, you can see the little lines running through the fabric and can line up the tips of the points with that. Since the weave is a little different, I find that I like my seam allowances larger than a 1/4”. I like it  somewhere around 1/2”. This helps keep the folds and keeps the fabric from unraveling. Place your paper on the wrong side of the fabric and cut about 1/2” around all the sides.

I start on one of my sides by finger pressing the side of the fabric down upon the paper piece.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette04

I put a knot in an accent colored thread so I can see it easier when I remove it. Put the knot along the fold and in the seam allowance. Fold the next side down and finger press.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette05

Finish making a stitch with the folded side. Make sure that your stitch is not going through the paper. You are basically doing a large basting stitch at each corner of the diamond, just to hold the shape of the diamond so that you can sew your diamond shapes together.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette06

Continue taking stitches around and folding down each side.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette07

When you get to the last point, make sure to fold the last side under the first side. Whatever you do, do it the same way for all the pieces so that when you assemble the diamonds together, you will have nesting. Each corner has the new side fabric folding over the previous side.  I do not tuck in my pointy tips. Instead I leave a tail. I do not put another knot in the last stitch. I just run one more basting stitch to keep it in place.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette08

After all your fabric is basted onto the papers, press each piece well. The starch you used before you started will help now to hold the folds well.

I used my favorite way to stitch EPP together as noted in this previous post. Remember that the pointy ends of the diamonds have tails. You just fold the tail out of the way while you are stitching the shapes together. Also, when your shape is starting to get bigger, you are going to have to fold some of the pieces, including the paper inside them to get the next piece together.

When putting EPP pieces that aren’t hexagon shapes together, I find that it works best for me to put them together in parts and not just the next piece. This way, my pieces come together much nicer than if I were to put them together in a row, one after the next. I also really like to use Clover clips to hold my pieces together while I sew. My fingers are less sore after I’m done sewing.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette10

For this star, I decided to make the inside star into hexagon shapes first, using the lightest diamonds to keep them together.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette09

I put together the outside hexagon with the diamond detail by putting three diamonds together. As I stitched my diamond pieces together, I made sure that my points matched as I stitched and eased any difference throughout the seam.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette11

I stitched the hexagon shapes together and then added the remaining light diamonds to complete this shape.

Then added the outside hexagon with diamond detail shapes. This time I matched the center points together and worked out on each side.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette12

Once you are done sewing all the pieces together, press well. I like to press from the back and make sure that my intersections have the tails all nestling in a circle.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette13

The starch from when you first started will help hold this all together nicely.

Take out the basting stitches and papers.  I like to do this in the evenings while watching TV with my hubby. Having used a thread that doesn’t match makes it easier to cut the threads and pull them out. Press again after all the papers are out.

 Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette14

Now you are ready to baste your piece to your placemat fabric. I had this lovely earthy linen that I thought played nicely with the Oakshott fabric.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette15

Layer your placemat fabric and your batting, with your applique piece on top. My piece was large, so I folded it around some batting to make my quilt sandwich. I also used spray baste because it is perfect for something this small.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette18

I opted not to first applique the star to the top layer of the fabric. Instead, I let the spray baste hold it in place and I used my walking foot to quilt around the shape at the same time as I stitched the applique to the placemat. Remember that you need to tuck in the tails on the outside edges now. I used a long pin to fold the tails inside and pinned them down before stitching the outside edge. I used a thicker weight thread for the quilting. I echoed the shape a little outside the applique. I went back and stitched a little around some of the inside shapes too. I think the quilting helps move the fabric around making the light play even more noticeable.

At this point I trimmed my placemat to 13 1/2” by 17”. It was a fairly random size based on the size of the applique, and the size of my table and plates.

Quilt your sandwich and bind. I used the remnants of the center diamond for my binding. I cut my binding to 2” wide.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette16

I hope you love this as much as I do. You really have to try Oakshott fabric and see how it dances in the light for yourself. That center star is all cut from the same color fabric. The way it was cut on the same grain and then reassembled in a star moves the warp and weft in a way that really plays on the light effect of this gorgeous fabric.

Oakshott placemat by Anjeanette19

And as always, if you make one of these placemats, I would love to see a picture of it!

Thanks Sew Mama Sew for letting me play again!

Check out the other bloggers and see what treasures they made with their challenge fabric.

Mary Claire King Remember Wren

Michelle White Falafel and the Bee

Jessica Skultety Quilty Habit

Nicole Neblett mama love quilts

Sara Peterson knottygnome crafts

AND, this part is exciting, check into Sew Mama Sew all next week for your chance to win a pack of this fabric for your very own. I promise you, if you win it, you will want to roll around naked with it. Ok, maybe not completely naked. But you will be a forever lover of Oakshott if you get these in your own little hands.

100 Quilts for Kids

Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt started 100 Quilts for Kids. And now another of my friends from DC Modern Quilt Guild is keeping it going. Heather blogs at Quilts in the Queue.

100 quilts for kids

Our guild had a meeting where they got together to sew blocks together and then into quilts for charity. Unfortunately, I missed that day because my family decided to get sick.  Anyway, they made some lovely quilts for charity and I had contributed two blocks for the quilts.

I also gave a quilt for 100 Quilts for Kids. My good camera was in the shop, so I only have pictures from my point and shoot. This was a sample I made for a class I was teaching. It was pretty cool to have it hanging in the shop I was to teach at.

It was a cute little quilt that wasn’t quite sure if it was for a boy or girl. I think it could go either way. I was happy to have passed it onto Heather for the charity. I’m hoping it can warm some child somewhere.

Check out 100 Quilts for Kids. Donate.

Hexie Bookmark Tutorial

Hexie Bookmark 11

I’m here to share with you how I made my bookmark for the 12 Hexies (or Less) Blog Hop.

12 Hexie Blog Hop Button-200.jpg

I just love EPP (English Paper Piecing). It is a great way to keep my hands busy in the evenings when we watch a show. When I found this fabric, the little details like the bug jar and the footprints screamed to be fussy cut into hexies.

Hexie Bookmark 9

 

What you will need:

Cute scraps of fabric in an assortment of designs.

Felt one sheet, cut in half

Coordinating thread

Coordinating ribbon

Velcro (I like the sew in kind)

You can find great tutorials for basting your hexagons and even my little tutorial for stitching them together. I like to starch my fabric well, before I baste them onto my templates/paper pieces. It helps later with holding the shape after the paper comes out.

When you have this shape of three columns of 3, 4, 3 stitched together, press the combined shape well.  Carefully take out the templates/paper pieces. Press well again.

Hexie Bookmark 1

With an applique stitch, applique the shape onto one layer of felt. I tried to center my applique on the felt. You are going to trim it up, so it doesn’t have to be perfect. Stitch a contrasting line of stitching about 1/4” all the way around the shape. I wanted this to look handmade, so I hand stitched this. You could certainly do this by machine. **You can wait to do the detail until you are stitching the two pieces of felt together. Since I wanted a thicker line and my thread was thin, I opted to do it twice. This is certainly not necessary.

Hexie bookmark 2

Take about 5” length of the soft side of the Velcro and sew it down the center of the second piece of felt by machine. With your ribbon, fold one edge under about 1/4”. Sew a piece of the stiff side of the Velcro to the ribbon, covering the folded edge. This is just so you have a nice finished edge of ribbon that won’t unravel. Measure the books you tend to read. Start at the top of the cover, around the book and meet back at the top of the cover. I found that 15” seemed to be a good size length for the books I read. On the other edge of the ribbon, stitch a scrap of felt about 1 1/2” X 1”. This is to help hold the ribbon inside your felt sandwich so it won’t slip out.

Hexie Bookmark 3

Hand stitch the felt piece to the first piece of felt that now has the hexagons appliqued to the front side. Make sure you are not going through the front of the applique (the hexagons). It doesn’t have to look pretty. But you do want to make sure the ribbon is centered on the top of the applique shape. Think about the stiff side of the Velcro on the opposite end of the ribbon before you stitch this down.

Hexie Bookmark 5 Hexie Bookmark 4

Sandwich the bottom felt piece with the length of soft Velcro facing down, and the top piece with the applique facing up. (Wrong sides together). You will need to think about this step a little. The stiff ribbon end needs to wrap around the book and ultimately stick to the underside of your bookmark to hold in place.  If you lay the stiff side of the Velcro UP when you are making your sandwich, this should be the right placement.

Hexie Bookmark 6

Stitch in the same holes as the initial detail stitching. Make sure the ribbon is sticking out of the top of the sandwich. Carefully trim around the completed shape through both layers of felt. Be careful when you are trimming the top edge with the ribbon sticking out. You don’t want to cut that ribbon off. I started trimming the shape on one side of the ribbon, cutting through both layers all the way to the other side of the ribbon. When I got to the ribbon edge, I simply cut the top layer first, flipped the shape over and cut the bottom layer second. Make sure not to cut through the ribbon.

Hexie Bookmark 7

To use it as a bookmark, lay the ribbon on the page you are holding. Stick the stiff Velcro end under the main shape.

Hexie Bookmark 8 Hexie Bookmark 12

Viola. You have a lovely hexie bookmark.

Hexie Bookmark 10

Check out the rest of the blog hoppers too and see what they are up to.

 

My favorite way to stitch EPP together

 

Diane Gilleland of Craftypod put together a “12 Hexies (or Less) Blog Hop” that will begin today and run for two weeks.  Don’t you love Diane? I know I’ve followed her in one form or another for years. When she said she was doing a blog hop with 12 or Less Hexies, I knew I was up for the challenge.

12 Hexie Blog Hop Button-200.jpg
When I sat down to actually mess with 12 or less, it was more of a challenge than I realized it would be.  Yikes. 12 Hexies is really limiting. But I was totally up for the challenge.

Anyway, before my post goes up on the 25th of July, I thought I’d share how I join my EPP (English Paper Pieced) projects together.

Do you remember my Hexi Window Table Runner?

Hexi Window Table Runner by Anjeanette

Those stitches on the seams were nearly invisible. Aren’t they yummy?

Hexi Window close up

There are great tutorials on EPP. This one from SewMamaSew that was written up by Julie Zaichuk-Ryan from Button-Button.  On her blog, Diane makes reference to TheZenofMaking and the lovely tutorial on EPP. I started off joining my EPP shapes by doing a whipstitch as well. But if you have been around my blog for any amount of time, you will know I’m a little specific about how I like to do things. I love the look of EPP. It is precise and detailed. I hate when I can see my stitches. There, I said it. I’m ducking now because I know books and other large objects are being thrown at me.

Are we alright now? I  love sitting down in the evenings with a stack of shapes to hand stitch together.  But when I’m done with all that handwork, I don’t want to see the stitches. My goal of course, would be not a single stitch. I’m going to be honest and say that isn’t realistic though. So less visible stitches is my end goal.

I do think it is a great idea to learn the right way to do something. Then you can figure out how you are going to break the rules to make it work for you.

I’m using a black thread here so you can see my stitches. I think it helps to emphasize my point when the black stitches are almost completely hidden when I open up my shapes. It is such a lovely feeling. Here are a few examples of front and back.

 

close up stitches

Here is the back.

Stitching close up Anjeanette

Here is another front from some Hexies I am currently working on.

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And the Back.

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Normally, you would do a whipstitch through both layers like this. Note, this is NOT what I use. I just took the picture so you can see the difference.

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I like to work on just one side at a time, instead of driving my needle exaclty perpendicular to my hexies, I like to take my needle in at an angle. I make sure my needle comes out on the fold and again, I’m just stitching through the hexie on the top.

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Then I stitch through the bottom hexie, again at an angle to the piece and again with my needle coming out the fold. It is almost like a zipper, or a double whipstitch.

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Back to the top hexie. I hope you can see both the angle of my needle and that it is coming out direclty on the fold line.

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That is my tip. That is how I do it. Top shape, bottom shape always at an angle and always coming out along the folded edge of the hexie. When you open your shape up, all the stitching is neatly hidden inside the seam in the fold. It makes me so happy.

Let me know if this helps you hide your stitches too?

Here are the awesome EPP-ers (some longtime, some new) who are joining me in this adventure:

Diana Ray, Ray’s Sew Crafty

Maryline Collioud Robert, Mary & Patch

Pam Harris, Gingerbread Snowflakes

Rebecca Greco, Hugs Are Fun

Haley Pierson-Cox, The Zen of Making

Melissa Peda, 100 Billion Stars

Abby Glassenberg, While She Naps

Jessica Alexandrakis, Life Under Quilts

And then me, Anjeanette Klinder

Flipped corners with rectangles instead of squares!

Moda Bake Shop is doing a row along they are calling a Trifle Dish Sew Along. My row for Strawberries went up yesterday.

MBS Strawberries

For this tutorial, I figured how to flip corners when they aren’t perfectly squares. What am I even talking about? 

For example, on my Maple Leaf tutorial, you start with a rectangle and layer a smaller square on top RST. You would sew along the diagonal line of the smaller square, clip 1/4”, and press the top square back.

This only works with a 45 degree angle.

But I wanted to use a rectangle on top with an angle that is randomly smaller or larger than 45 degrees. You can’t do the same thing here. Because the angle is different, if you used a rectangle and followed the same directions, once you press the top back, you are making an entirely new shape and not in a good way. The trick is to make the new corner come out and fill in the space correctly leaving your corner a 90 degree angle.

Here we go. Take a rectangle and layer it on top of another fabric. Line up two sides in the corner. Put your ruler on top. You are going to line up the 1/4” mark of your ruler from the top outside corner of the rectangle, diagonally through to the opposite diagonal corner of the rectangle. **If your rectangle fabric has a pattern on it, you are actually going to lay the bottom fabric with right side up, AS WELL AS THE RECTANGLE FABRIC WITH THE RIGHT SIDE UP.

strawberry cut line

strawberry cut

 

If you were to just sew the diagonal line and flip with the top piece, you would not come out with a 90 degree corner.  You need to rotate just the top rectangle, by flipping it over. Line up matching the cut lines together. You are going to have a bit of an overhang on each tip. Imagine the diagonal line that went from corner to corner of the rectangle. This is what you are lining up with the edge of the fabric on bottom.

strawberry after the flip

Sew a scant 1/4” seam along the imaginary diagonal line. **You could always draw a diagonal line if that helps you.

When you press this back, the rectangle should be a nice crisp corner.

The beauty of this is that you could use any size rectangle and not need a specialty ruler. It does make you think a little, but it works.

Let me know if this is helpful and if it worked for you. Of course, if you have questions, let me know that too.

Winner of my Oakshott Tote is …

So I am delighted with the response I got from my little giveaway. I realized that my comments aren’t numbered and so I resorted to the old stand by for choosing my winner. I printed them out, cut into strips, and picked from the bucket.

First, let me say that I adore my puppy.  He is a gentle giant. Here he is with my niece.

Bear and niece

He is creeping up on one year old now. He will turn one year right about the time I will turn 40! He is ginormous and floppy and I think of him as a combination of a Yeti and a Muppet.  He is a Goldendoodle and just about the sweetest guy ever. The difference this time of owning a dog and the last time are two fold:

1. Bear is huge.

2. I have two adorable boys too.

Sometimes we forget that he is still a puppy because of his size. And sometimes my sweet adorable boys aren’t as helpful with things like putting their socks and papers out of Bear’s reach. Before with our Beagle mix, it was just my husband and me. By the time the kids came along, he was already a great part of the family. We were better at not leaving socks in reach and never left our homework on the coffee table.

We all love Bear. Bear is always on my mind, so when I put up my giveaway, he was an easy target for me to write about. I just didn’t want you thinking we have a delinquent addition to the family, or that we weren’t training him.

I’m tossing the idea around of putting up a pattern for the tote with a sew along. Would you be interested? If I did a full pattern, I would make it something you would have to buy for like $5.00 because putting a pattern together takes a lot of time. If you would rather just vague directions of how a tote like that is put together, I could do that in less time and it would just be a tutorial. What do you think?

So now without further adieu, the winner is Carly of Citric Sugar. I have emailed Carly.

 

Thanks for entering!

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway. Win this tote! {now closed}

*The giveaway is now closed.*

I’ve been around for what seems like a zillion Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Days. I am always delighted and amazed that the things people are giving away. Sadly, I have yet to do a giveaway. To make up for my transgressions, I decided to host my first giveaway with a bang. At least I hope it is with a bang. I am going…to give…my delicious Oakshott Tote away! I am! You can be rubbing this lovely tote on your face.

instagram giveaway

You can read all about it in my last post. Basically I used linen and Oakshott to make this yumminess. Maybe you saw my tote on Sew Mama Sew because I participated in their Oakshott Tote Challenge.

Hurry and enter before I realize what I’ve done. I can always just make another, right?

It is different on both sides, remember?

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette

You can have a total of three entries, but you must comment on this post to get these entries.

#1 Leave a comment about anything. Not sure what? Tell me about something you would love to see on my blog.  Tell me a favorite way to fight Monday-itis. Tell me that owning a puppy won’t last forever and that puppies grow into dogs. Whatever you have on your mind.

Two extra entries are:

# 2 Follow me somehow (here, or Instagram) and let me know how. You could follow me  everywhere, but it is just one additional entry. Just tell me all the ways you follow me.

#3 Share with your friends or readers about my giveaway.  Leave a comment on how you shared about it for your third optional entry.  It will be a random winner. But I do so enjoy dry humor. Make it fun for me too and share some sarcasm. (That won’t make it more likely for you to win. It is all about me here.)

I’ll leave this open to international friends! You can enter until May 16th at 5 PM PST.

Make sure you are not a no-reply blogger. I must be able to send an email to you easily. If I can’t, I’ll choose someone whose contact information is easy to get to.

Check out the other cool stuff you could win on Sew Mama Sew Supplies and Handmade Giveaway.

Oakshott Tote for Sew Mama Sew

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 1

I have been seeing amazing things made out of Oakshott from people like Sarah Elizabeth of {No} Hats in the house blog and Lily of Lily’s Quilts. They usually write about things like how luxurious it is to sew with and also how photographs don’t do it justice. I was totally lucky to get to play with some Oakshotts from Sew Mama Sew. What a delight. They sent me a Lipari Fat 8th Pack to make into a tote.

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette

After playing with the Oakshott fabric I will agree that it is so nice to work with and it is difficult to photograph it to show off just how dynamic it really is.

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 2

What is Oakshott? It is shot cotton. The warp and weft of the fabric are made of different colored threads. The results are dynamic color play in the light, a sort of iridescent fabric.  It is soft and just luscious. Now, I see that Oakshott is also making a Colourshott which have  slightly different colors on the reverse side. I die!

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 3

Anyway, I was trying to take a picture to capture the magic of the Oakshott. When the light hits it, dimension is created and it gives movement to the fabric.

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 4

 

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 5

I think, the above picture shows it the best. But you really need to get some and play with it yourself to understand just how yummy these are.

 

I paired the Oakshott with some linen. I think they are a perfect match. I tried to come up with a way to show off the movement of the fabric. I figured if I cut triangles and put them together into hexagons, with the grain turning one direction with each triangle it would show it off the best. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen these yummies in my stream. 

Oakshott tote aOakshott tote c      Oakshott tote b

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 10

After I pieced all the triangles together, I thought dark 12 weight thread would look lovely too.

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 11

At first, I wasn’t sure if I loved it or not. I quickly realized I adore the dark straight line quilting!

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I made one panel for the front pocket. The pocket is the whole width of the tote and I stitched a line down the center to make two large pockets.

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 6

I drafted the pattern myself based on dimensions I like for handles and the size of the pouch.

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Topstitching goes a long way here, and I think always finishes off everything nicely.

 

 

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I added some strips of Oakshott in the linen for a little detail on the handle of the front side.

 Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 8

The inside is completely lined and I put in a false bottom. The false bottom was made from 2 layers of Peltex covered with fabric and then hand stitched into place. I have to have a fully lined tote. It just feels complete. Since it was meant to be a tote, I thought the two large pockets on the front were enough, so the lining doesn’t have any more pockets. The entire thing is lined with more interfacing from Pellon. I used a combination of fusible fleece and Shape Flex to give it some structure but still allow a little scrunching. The fabrics give me a feel of nature and I want it to become soft and scrunched over time.

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 14

I adore how this side came out.

 

After I made the side with the pocket and the hexagons, I wanted to play a little more on the other side. I took the rest of the Oakshott and spliced different widths of linen between at random cuts. I then cut out the same triangles as I did on the front. This time, I stitched them together randomly and changing the direction of the grain of the fabric.

 

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 15

I wanted some of the same dark straight line quilting for this side. But I traced shapes randomly.

 

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 18

I really was dreaming about this side as a large quilt and not just a tote. I may have rubbed my face in it a little. It is so soft. And I super puffy heart adore how this side came out. Imagine a whole quilt in Oakshott with the spliced triangles and some linens thrown in for texture! I die!

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 7

To tie the front and back together, I slipped a strip of linen into the Oakshott handles on the back side. Oh, who am I kidding? This is really the front side.

Oakshott tote by Anjeanette 19

It is ok to carry a tote with the pocket facing yourself, right?

Check out  these other participants and see how they  used their yummy Oakshott fabric to make totes for Sew Mama Sew.

Teresa of Dandelion Drift

Jennifer of Sewplicity

Megan of Monkey Beans

Erin of Seamstress Erin

Michelle of Falafel and the Bee

The colors of Oakshott I used for this tote are all from the Lipari pack.

Pollara LIPA 01

Canneto LIPA 07

Lipari LIPA 08

Stromboli LIPA 12

Basiluzzo LIPA 15

Gallina LIPA 18

A little tutorial on making practically perfect points in quilt blocks

Ok so there is no doubt, I love making pretty points when sewing my blocks together. I LOVE to match up my seams as nicely as I can. It makes me all excited when I do this and then look at the nice points and matched seams.

pretty points by Anjeanette 24

When I say this and then explain how I do this, you may think I’m a little OCD or particular. But really, nothing can be further from the truth. IRL you would not find me OCD at all. But for some reason, it makes my insides all a flutter when I make a nice point and match my seams.

It isn’t that I’ve always been able to do this. And frankly, I don’t always succeed. But when I do, my heart goes pitter pat and the butterflies make me a little dizzy with happiness.

When I was a little girl, my quilting mostly consisted of making plain patchwork and then tying them off. No “quilting” per se. I also did more clothing construction that quilt making. So my sewing start is that of a different nature than just starting out quilting in the sense that I do now.

I know when I first really took a real dive into quilting as I do now, my seams were not perfectly matched and my points were poo. I mean real poo. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes they are still real poo. And that makes me unhappy. I don’t like poo. I like pretty, heart fluttering, practically perfect points.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of my tips that I’ve learned along the way. I didn’t have someone show these to me. They are just things that I trial and error have taught me. Maybe you already know how to do this. Maybe your seams and points are already perfect. Maybe you have another method that works better for you. That’s ok. Let’s call this “The Anjeanette way of putting seams together and matching points.” Ok? There are a whole lotta words about to happen with some pictures thrown in. I suggest reading through it all once before you try it, because peppered throughout is a lot of back story to why I do it the way I do.

So lets start with a row of four half square triangles put together. I’m working on my block for this week’s Layer Cake Sampler Quilt Along that my sweet friend Amanda of Material Girl is hosting. I thought I’d take pictures along the way to share. Your blocks may look different but this is the basic method I use each time I am sewing blocks and even quilt tops together. Just adjust for your specific pattern. I do this before I press my seams for each row.

A few things first:

Starch, steam or sizing. I like to starch/steam or use sizing (whatever your preference is here) BEFORE I cut my fabric out. If I starch before, I can usually successfully starch during the construction as well. If I don’t starch before, and I decide to starch during the construction, I find that sometimes it can really mess with my sizing and that just isn’t fun when you end up with different sized blocks. Staying consistent during the entire process, makes a huge difference in my accuracy. *I’m going to say this again and again.

Rulers, Mats and  Rotary Cutters. I use the same ruler, mats and rotary cutter for the whole process. If I’m going to change anything, I change it before I start, if I can help it. If you use the marking on your cutting mats, they may be marked differently on different mats and that can account for a difference in your sewing. Rulers and rotary cutters are the same way. Of course, sometimes you just have to change out your blade during the process. It happens, but I’d rather do that before I start, if possible.

Needle Down. I think this and the automatic cutting feature on my machine are worth their weight in gold. I always use needle down. If I have to stop for any reason, I think it keeps my fabric from moving around. Love this feature. If you don’t have it, and I didn’t for over 10 years of sewing, just try to leave your needle down if you stop during your sewing while the fabric is still under the presser foot and you are still working on that seam. I used to use my wheel on the right of my machine more than anything else before I got my current machine with the needle down feature.

1/4” foot. If you have a 1/4” foot, use it. If you don’t, learn how to get that accurate 1/4” seam. There are lots of tutorials on how to do this.

Seam Ripper. Become best friends with your seam ripper. If you don’t like it, find one you do like. Scratch that, find one you love. I believe that your seam ripper should be your best friend. You should not hate it, you should really love it. There are all kinds of really cool seam rippers on the market. If I have just sewn something and I see a big mistake, I don’t understand pressing on. It isn’t going to get better as you go. If it is something that will be taken care of in the seam allowance, or if it is close, I may leave it. But if you have just stitched something wrong, say your end is totally wonky, it isn’t going to get better. Actually, it could end up messing up your whole block or quilt. What a waste, when undoing a few stitches or a row of stitches just may save the whole thing.

Skinny/Thin Pins This one is one that really drives me crazy. I use the thinnest pins I can find. I have found that using the flower head pins you usually find in shops that are designated for quilting, to be really thick. I think shoving something big like that into my fabric can distort the fabric and therefore make my sewing off. Who wants that? Yes, the thinner pins do give and bend more, but they seem to work better for me. I love my thin pins. I even have gotten to know the “quirks” of some of them. I have one that the blue bead head was put on crooked. Every time I use it, it makes me smile. I love my pins.

Ok now let’s evaluate our rows.

The first thing I do is I take two rows that I’m going to sew together. I look at them along the line I am going to sew them together. I look at how many points they each have and place a priority on each intersection. Based on the priorities, I will put the row with the most priorities on top. For example, sometimes there are less points on one row, sometimes there are the same number. I look at how many of the points have just a single HST and how many have two. The more fabrics at each intersection, the bulkier it is going to be. I think about how I want to press my fabric to make each seam lay the nicest. My first preference would be to nestle my seams. That means to press the seams of one row to one side and the next row to the opposite side. For example, the top row would all have the seams pressed to the right, and the next row all to the left. That is the easiest. When the seams of each row come together, they nestle nicely and almost lock into place. It is the most simple for me to match up this way. Sometimes this just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes you have two HST blocks that come together at the same intersection in one row, for example. This is four fabrics that are going to compete at the intersection from just that one row. In this instance, I would opt to press that seam of that row, open on both rows.

I go about looking at all the intersections of all my rows and decide how to press them. Then I press based on what I’ve decided about my intersections and priorities. Don’t push your iron back and forth or you will get a mess under it. If you didn’t use starch before you started cutting your blocks, I would not use it now. Usually I am pressing my seams in alternating directions for each row for less bulky seams,  and pressing open large/bulky seams. I press my rows first with the right side facing up on the pressing board. I gently press the seam the direction I want it to go. Remember not to push the fabric because you don’t want to distort it.

I go back to my sewing machine and I determine how many points are in each row. I’m talking about where the rows are going to be sewn together now. I like to put the intersections that are going to need the most care, on top when sewing so that I can make sure they are being sewn the best way possible.

For these rows, I’ve determined there are 3 intersections on the top and bottom row. I’ve put a red 1, 2, and 3 in the picture to signify each intersection. Pretty simple as there were four squares making this row. Of these three intersections the set up for this block has both rows with the first intersection with one HST coming together on the left side of both HST. These HSTs will go in the same direction when they are stitched together. The second intersection both layers have two HST coming together at the intersection. The third intersection is a reverse of the first.  Based on my quick review of my priorities for seams, I’ve determined it doesn’t matter which of these goes on top as they are all the same. Had I had some solid squares for example, in one of the rows instead of HST, that would make me put that row on the bottom.

practically perfect points by Anjeanette lining up the rows

Now that you are this far, let’s start to sew these two perfectly paired rows together. Wait! Not so fast. There are a few things you want to remember as you sew. You can play around with this part until it works best for you, but as a general rule, I always sew about two threads to the right of the points. When you open up your two or more layers of fabric, you are adding a little bit of bulk to your seam. If you sew directly on the top of your points, they are going to get sucked into the depths of your seam. I like to lay out my rows to be sewn and make sure I can see the tips of the points. If I can’t, I will mark the point with something like a disappearing FriXion pen at the very tip so that I know where they are as I am sewing. Also, remember to watch your fabric feeding into the sewing machine. You want to make sure both layers of the fabric are aligned at the edge. If the bottom layer moves, you are going to have a wavy seam.

Practically perfect points by Anjeanette marking the point

To match your rows: Take a pin and run it through the very tip of the left point on the first seam intersection. Quickly flip the row over and look from the right side to make sure you did indeed get the tip of the point.

pretty points by Anjeanette 1

With right sides of the rows together, run the pin through the very tip of the coordinating point from the other row, and push the pin all the way in. Just straight in.

pretty points by Anjeanette 2

It is a place holder right now, just keeping your points together not keeping the rows securely together. Also, your fabric should be lining up at about the same place on the top. If it isn’t, you either made a cutting or a sewing error. At this point, they should be lining up pretty well i.e. > 1/8 of an inch or less difference here.

 

 

 

Take a pin and do the same thing on the the third intersection. Look on the other side or right side of the fabric to make sure the pin is at the tip of the point. pretty points by Anjeanette 4Now run the pin through the tip of the other row.

 pretty points by Anjeanette 5

If any of your intersection only have one side with a point and the other  coordinating seam with no points, I first run the pin through the tip of the top point and then just pin the seam intersection to match the seams , making sure the top of the fabric from both rows are level with each other. If your seams are pressed alternately, you can nestle them together tightly and just pin them together. If your seams were open, you are going to want to make sure the pin goes directly through both the seams.  I usually pin before the intersection and sometimes after depending. But always before.

 

 

Now take your left ends of the rows. Making sure the outside edges match up, pin both layers together. Since this is where you are going to start to sew, place the pin down about an inch instead of at the very end.

pretty points by Anjeanette 6

On your right end of the rows, match the outside edges and pin both layers together at the end.

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I always match my intersections first then my ends. These are the important things that are going to make the block or quilt off. Between the intersections and ends you can ease in a tiny bit of variance by pulling the fabric taught as you sew.

Now that you have these parts pinned, you will want to secure the intersections. We only pushed a pin straight through and there is nothing really keeping it there. Making sure the pin is running straight in, I put a pin to both the right and left side of the intersection. As long as you weren’t moving your fabric around when you were putting the pins in, this should be good.

pretty points by Anjeanette 8

This is how I pin to both sides of a pressed open seam.

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This is how I pin both sides of a point intersection of seams that are pressed alternately. I decided to pin on the left side along the HST line but you could run your pin straight if that works for you. Both ways though, I’m pinning fairly close to the intersection.

 

I don’t just shove a pin into the intersection points, fold it back and push it back out the bottom.  Instead push a pin straight through and then stabilize on both sided because when you put a pin into two layers of fabric, you kind of bend the fabric around the pin to get the pin to run in the top and out again at the bottom of the pin. This almost always screws up my points by moving the bottom layer of fabric out of line. Hopefully the pictures will help clarify what I’m talking about here.

You can choose to pin between the blocks too. As a general rule, if the size of the squares are more than say 4 or 5 inches wide, I would secure a pin in the middle. You could also just move from intersection to intersection and hold the fabric taught while you sew. The thing you want to watch is that both layers of he fabric on the right side, going into the machine, are matched up at the right side all the way to the next intersection.

That seems like a whole lotta words just to describe how to get your rows ready to sew. It only takes a minute at most to do all of this. And in my opinion, it makes all the difference in the world.

 

NOW we can start to sew. I always like to start each row by lifting the presser foot, placing the fabric down and then lowering the foot onto the fabric.

pretty points by Anjeanette 10

I do this even if I am chain stitching instead of just feeding the next row right into the lowered foot. Sometimes feeding the fabric through a lowered foot will move one of the layers just enough that it makes the ends out of alignment. Just raise and lower your foot before starting to sew. As you sew, take the pins out just before you get to them. I prefer not to sew over them, but I sometimes do if I am sewing very slowly. With these thin pins that can bend them. So 99% of the time, I take my pins out just before they get to the presser foot.

As you are sewing the rows together also think about the way the seams coming under the presser foot are pressed. If they are pressed in alternating ways, I hold my fingers right on the seam and make sure I can feel both the seams nestled tightly as I proceed to sew the rows. I’m not pressing down enough to hold the fabric from moving. But I am using the seams being locked and guiding it together with my fingers. If you are joining two seams that have been pressed open, you can still feel if the seams are matching up. Also, you don’t want your bottom seam to flip in the opposite direction of the way you have pressed. Holding your fingers over the intersecting seams just helps ensure your seams stay pressed the correct way as you are sewing your rows together.

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As you get to a point or intersection, make sure to sew to the right of the point. This is where it is helpful to have a pen marking to make sure you know exactly where the tip is. Sew about two threads over to the right of the pen marking.

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As you are sewing the entire length of the seam, make sure the right side of the fabric is moving at the same point under the presser foot.

pretty points by Anjeanette 11

If you sew a wavy line now, you are going to get a wavy seam. Oftentimes, you will end up with a bubble or nipple at your intersections. This is because when you got to the bulk of the intersection, you let the fabric drift away from your 1/4” mark too much to the left.

Take it slow. If you have issues with a bulky intersection, it may help to sew to the intersection from one direction and then turn the whole piece around and sew the rest from the other direction and through the intersection.

When you have stitched the whole row together, open it up and see what your intersections look like.

pretty points by Anjeanette 14

Make sure your points are present (not cut off) and your intersections are matching up nicely. If they are not, do not press your seam. This is the part where you want to bring in your best friend the seam ripper out. I’m not kidding. If you only have one intersection or point that is off, you can just unstitch about 1/2” before and 1/2” after the intersection. If your whole row is off, take the whole row out and try it again. The good news is that if you have done all I have spelled out, you are usually only going to have one place where the alignment is off. Unstitch that one intersection enough that you can make any adjustment needed, pin it again the way I’ve described, taking note of how it was off before and making an adjustment to correct that, and sew that seam once again.

If your points and intersections are all nice and pretty, this is the part where you can shout your “Hallelujahs” and press the seam.

If I have stitched together a bunch of points and bulky intersections, I am going to press my seams open. This is a matter of preference. You are going to have people that swear by another way. This is what works for me. Remember that while you are pressing the seams open, you don’t want to make the rest of your seams all folded and wonky.  You want them to stay where they are so that they lay nicely while you quilt your quilt. This kind of reminds me of how I learned to cross stitch. My Mom always said the back should be as pretty and orderly as the front.

 

 

Since I learned to sew clothing first, I always set my seams by pressing them closed first.

I am going to press my seams open since they were kinda bulky.  I don’t want to burn my fingers and have found the wood piece that accompanied my Dresden plate template works well for pressing seams open. pretty points by Anjeanette 17It has a point that helps me open them up and then I use it in front of the iron in place of my fingers. Also, because it is wood it doesn’t melt and it doesn’t conduct the heat of the iron onto my fingers. When I am pressing my seams open, I use the front part of my iron down the length of the seam. Once I have gone down the length, then I use the whole iron to press it straight down. I will press the length of all my seams for the block then turn it over and give it one more press from the top. pretty points by Anjeanette 18

Sometimes when I am pressing heavy seams open or to the side, they don’t want to play nice. At that point I may use some starch to coerce them to do what I want. I would not use anything like this at this point if I did not use it before cutting my fabric though because of the sizing issues I’ve encountered in the past.  Sometimes I will press up to a bulky point, turn the block around and press from the other direction to the same bulky point to get the final press.

Now let’s admire your block. If you matched the ends of each row before you stitched them, you shouldn’t have any trimming aside from threads at this point. Make sure that your block is indeed the size it should be at this point. It is silly to combine blocks of different sizes at this point if you want your quilt to behave nicely. If they are off or different sizes now, they are going to make your quilt off. pretty points by Anjeanette 19

I absolutely believe that if you are careful to cut your initial squares or shapes, you sew carefully and you square up your blocks after each block is made, it makes putting the blocks together a breeze. You know they are going to match up nicely.

Let’s admire our points. Practically Perfect. I call this good enough.pretty points by Anjeanette 20

Practically Perfect! I’m happy with this.

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Score! Perfect!

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And all together the block is practically perfect. I call these pretty points.

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I put my blocks together into a quilt top the same way I’ve described for putting a single block together.

I hope this helps. Again, this is what works for me. Please feel free to tell me if you found something that works better for you. I’m always open to learning or trying something new. This did contain a lot of detail and tons of words. But it really is just keeping most of these things in your mind as you sew. The pinning takes seconds and it all adds up to a better end result. It isn’t hard and it doesn’t take long, and the pay off is practically perfect.