My sweet friend Diane of Crafty Pod has done it again. She has written another great book All Points Patchwork. It needs to reside with all your other much loved reference books for creating. I’m serious. It is a fantastic book on Technique for EPP (English Paper Piecing).
I jumped at the chance to be in her blog hop promoting her new book for two reasons.
#1 I adore Diane. I have followed her for years and she has been so kind and encouraging to me the entire time. I’ve also followed her mom for years. My sister and her mom used to be pen pals until my sister’s life became crazy busy. Someday I’ll get to meet Diane in real life. In the meanwhile, I’ll admire her online.
#2 I knew her book would be awesome. I hadn’t seen it but I knew that true to Diane standards, it would be awesome. She is a fantastic teacher. She writes in a way that you feel like you are great friends, and she makes whatever she is teaching seem doable.
When I got to peek into the book I discovered that it was a bit different than many of the books out there. It is very much technique and idea driven. All these little nuggets of information I wish I learned when I started EPPing and had to figure out by trial and error. Many nuggets of information I never knew. A great resource for EPP technique!
So let’s talk about the blog hop. This week she asked us if we would use hexagons and fussy cutting. I love that she let us just go with whatever we wanted to, inside of those two words.
Maybe we should back up a little. What is “Fussy Cutting” anyway? I did a little internet search to see if there was anything saying were the term fussy cutting came from. I’m sure there is a fantastic story, but it was something I could not find. Basically, it is choosing a motif or part of the printed fabric to be in a specific place in your creating. Fussy cutting isn’t only something quilters use, but paper crafters often fussy cut too.
I see two different kinds of fussy cutting being used. The first kind of fussy cut is to cut out a novelty print or motif and position it in your patchwork in a specific way. If you were to make a pillow from a large print, you would carefully center the chosen design motif and cut to size. If you are using your sewing machine to piece a quilt, you may choose to fussy cut a bird from a print pattern and place it in the center of each block.
The second kind of fussy cutting I see is where a repeat in a pattern is used it to create other effects inside the patchwork, such as Willyne Hammerstein, author of Millefiori Quilts. For this kind of fussy cutting, you would inspect the fabric and locate repeats, color gradations, interesting parts of the pattern that cut up and put back together in a kaleidoscoping way. A great example of this is the lovely La Passacaglia Quilt you may see popping up in many photostreams particularly on Instagram. The piece on the front of Diane’s book uses fussy cut fabrics that creates the contrasting dark design in the center of the star.
I played with the latter kind of fussy cutting, but quickly decided I wanted to spend more time delving into creating more interesting repeats than I had time for. I found the kaleidescoping fussy cutting to be extremely fun and it kind of sucked me in. I will come back to this another time. (Read: I fell in love)
For either of these techniques, I suggest starching your fabric well before you start. I love to have a nice crisp hand to my fabric for EPP. Once my paper basted fabric is hand stitched together, I always press it again and I find that having it starched well before I started, I end up with a nicely finished piece.
I ended up using the first kind of fussy cutting for my project I’m sharing today. I was delighted for an excuse to use a new Layer Cake from Riley Blake designer Natalie Lymer of Cinderberry Stitches. She has recently released another adorable line called Saltwater. It features these adorable mermaids with flowing hair and seahorses and even Narwhals. I mean. I can’t even stand it’s adorableness.
I knew I wanted the goddesses of the sea to be featured. I wanted to center them on my hexagons. There are several ways to go about fussy cutting. I chose this way because I wasn’t interested in matching up an exact repeat and because the fabric I had was in 10” squares. The size of the fabric made it easy for me to tape it to my sliding glass doors and choose an image to fussy cut. With the light shining through the door, I was able to see the mermaids through my punched out hexagon papers.
I taped my fabric squares with the right side facing towards the glass and the wrong side facing me. I used my glue stick and applied some glue to the back of my paper hexagon. Looked through the paper and fabric and lined them up the way I wanted them to be and stuck the hexagon to the fabric. When I placed the next hexagon, I made sure there was enough fabric around the edges of my hexagon for a seam allowance. I like to have at least a 1/4” seam allowance for EPP. The final product isn’t going to be a quilt or something that gets washed often. Because of that, I wasn’t terribly worried about the grain of the fabric. Had this been for a quilt, I would have been more careful to use the grain to help me line the hexagons up.
I carefully took the fabric off the glass and trimmed the seam allowances around each hexagon. I used both thread basting and glue basting to baste the papers to the fabric. I do prefer thread basting, but glue basting is just so much faster. I think with thread basting, I get the corners of my paper shapes more precisely basted which means the sewing together of the paper pieced fabrics is more precise IMO. My tip for glue basting is to make sure when you are gluing the seam allowance to the papers, leave the very edge of the paper without glue. In other words, glue about 1/8” from each edge. I find that the glue basted pieces have a little less give or play where I want them to (the length of the sides) and not enough precision at the points where I want them to be precise.
Anyway, I put together a few rows of hexagons in a scrappy layout.
I decided to applique this piece onto some medium weight denim for a casual zipper pouch. I have some pouches that I use all the time. This one I made using the scrappy piece as a guide for the size.
I added a pocket and a place for needles inside the lining. I also added a little handle on the side to make it easy to carry around.
I think this size is so useful and I can see having many of them around for different projects. I typically keep one of these pouches handy for my EPP and hand stitching. Why yes, I am using a fussy cut hexagon pouch to home my other EPP projects in. Those mermaids and narwhals make me so happy! Is the plural of Narwhal “Narwals” or just “Narwhal”? Either way, they are stinking adorable!
Thanks for visiting my blog for this blog hop. Check out the other great bloggers for their day on the hop. Be sure to check out Diane’s new book All Points Patchwork. You won’t be disappointed.
Diane has also put together a giveaway of Black Gold hand sewing needles and Quilt Needle Threader from Clover. You can enter by Rafflecopter below. International entries are welcome and the giveaway closes on June 7nd. a Rafflecopter giveaway
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!
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:
Oakshott fat eighth bundle
Scraps of linen to make a 14” X 18” piece. (I started bigger and trimmed down to size)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Continue taking stitches around and folding down each side.
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.
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.
For this star, I decided to make the inside star into hexagon shapes first, using the lightest diamonds to keep them together.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m here to share with you how I made my bookmark for the 12 Hexies (or Less) Blog Hop.
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.
What you will need:
Cute scraps of fabric in an assortment of designs.
Felt one sheet, cut in half
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To use it as a bookmark, lay the ribbon on the page you are holding. Stick the stiff Velcro end under the main shape.
Viola. You have a lovely hexie bookmark.
Check out the rest of the blog hoppers too and see what they are up to.
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.
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?
Those stitches on the seams were nearly invisible. Aren’t they yummy?
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.
Here is the back.
Here is another front from some Hexies I am currently working on.
And the Back.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Now run the pin through the tip of the other row.
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.
On your right end of the rows, match the outside edges and pin both layers together at the end.
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.
This is how I pin to both sides of a pressed open seam.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. It 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.
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.
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.
Practically Perfect! I’m happy with this.
And all together the block is practically perfect. I call these pretty points.
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.
There is a picture of the template which essentially is a line drawing of the template. It is towards the bottom of the post, right where the part about making the point is. You can right click on the image and save as on your computer. I have it here too. When you are printing it out, make sure you are not changing the scaling of the image or it won’t come out the right size. There is a 1″ block you can check for accuracy.
If you are still having problems with it, you can make your own template.
Start with a 4 ½” square.
Measure inside the square ¼” on the left side and the bottom side.
On the ¼” line make these measurements:
On the left side measure 2 ¼” and place a dot
On the bottom measure 2 ¼” and place a dot
From the top and right corner, measure in ¼”.
Connect the dots from the top right corner and left side dot. Draw a line.
Connect the dots from the top right corner and bottom dot. Draw a line.
This drawn line is essentially where you want your seam to end up. Now we need to draw the cutting line. From the two lines you have drawn connecting the dots, measure over ¼” and draw a parallel line.
Cut on these last lines you have drawn. This is your kite template.
I really hope this helps. I adore this pattern and would love for it to be useful for you. I would also love to see if you make one of the oversized maple leaf throws yourself. Please do share!!