Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Cocorico June- Artist's Studio

June is Amy's month in Cocorico. She asked us to make an artist's studio block.
Initially I thought I would make a block of colouring pencils but inspiration lead me elsewhere and I ended up with this pencil sketch block instead. I quite like it when a block design just sort of happens.
Cocorico June - artist's studio

I used the letters from Patchwork 318 and drafted the pencil myself. I played with the word 'sketch' and 'draft' first but the block was getting rather large as it is so I had to go with the smallest word. I chose to leave the 'T' unfinished (lighter) to go with my idea of a sketch and it felt more in keeping with the studio theme.

Cocorico June - artist's studio

I am quite tickled by the idea of sketching the word art, this unfinished, undefined 'drawing' of a word that many have tried to define. I like that it's not a sketch at all but just pieces of fabric trying to convey the texture of a pencil and the lines that it draws. I love the illusion of it all!

x Leila

Monday, 18 June 2012

Flex frame pouch tutorial

I was delighted when Nova asked me to take part in the Liberty Scrap Challenge. And even more so when my scrap bag arrived full of scrumptious little pieces of Liberty from the Organic Stitch Co
If you have not had the pleasure of working with these fine cotton lawns before a scrap bag is a great place to start! You will get to sample a bunch of different prints perfect for small scrappy projects like this small flex frame pouch.

LSC frame pouch

To me Liberty lawn with it's soft silky hand and pretty small scale prints are the perfect match for English paper piecing. I opted for teeny tiny 1\2" hexagons to piece the exterior of my pouch.
Don't worry if hand sewing is not your thing you can just as easily use a single piece of fabric for the exterior, perhaps a fun cheater print or any type of patchwork block you like. The choice is entirely up to you.

You will need:
  • Liberty scrap bag
  • 3 1\2" flex frame
  • 1\2" hexagon templates
  • 2" x 5" piece of linen 2x
  • 3 1\2" x 4 1\2" lining fabric 2x
  • 3 1\2" x 9" fusible interfacing ( I am using a light weight woven interfacing which is ideal for this project)
  • fine cotton piecing thread, Aurifil 50wt or something similar.
  • a pair of pliers 
* all seam allowances are 1\4" 
 How to:

* If you do not wish to paper piece the exterior of your pouch you can skip ahead.

I am sure there are many ways to do English paper piecing but this is how I go about it.
First things first, make yourself a nice cuppa, get comfortable on the sofa and put a DVD on. I love this type of hand sewing because rather than being tucked away out of sight in my sewing room I can be part of whatever is going on in the house and still sew!
  • Place the paper template on the wrong side of your fabric. I usually am not too precise in cutting the fabric I roughly cut around the shape making sure I have at least 1\4" seam allowance on all sides.

  • Pick a side that is on grain and fold it over the template, secure with paper clip. Fold over the next corner, making sure you have a nice crisp fold and start baste stitching.

  • Simply fold and stitch from corner to corner. For templates this small I like to baste straight through the paper template to make sure nothing shifts.

One down, 54 to go!

  • Once you have all your hexagons basted arrange them in 5 rows of 11 hexagons.

  • Next start sewing the hexagons together with a small whip stitch.

This is what it looks like on the back. Ideally you would use a thread colour to match your fabrics so that your stitches blend in rather than stand out, but for the tutorial I thought I'd try and show you as best as I could.

Most commonly hexagons are pieced in the traditional flower shape, but since we are making a rectangle patchwork block, I find it easier to piece in rows.

I leave the templates in till the very end, I like that they keep everything neatly in place without me having to worry about it. If however you find the paper templates cumbersome when sewing all the rows together you can take them out earlier of course.
  • Sew the completed rows together,


 until you have a block that looks something like this.

  • Give your block a good press before removing all paper templates.
  • Make sure you got rid off all  basting threads first then apply the fusible interfacing.
  • Trim the edges so that you are left with a 3 1\2" x 9" block, cut the large block in half.
You now have two 3 1\2" x 4 1\2" blocks.

  • Cut two strips of linen 2" x 5"
  • Fold the edges over 1\4" towards the wrong side of the fabric and press. Fold over 1\4" again enclosing the raw edges, press, pin and sew close to the edge.

  • Fold the linen strip in half, place on top of the pouch exterior , pin and sew close to the top edge.

  • Pin the exterior pieces right sides together and sew. Clip corners and turn the pouch right side out.

  • Pin the lining pieces right sides together and sew leaving approximately 1 1\2" -  2" opening at the bottom.

  • Pin lining and exterior right sides together and sew .

  • Turn the pouch right side out through the opening in the lining. Slip stitch the opening closed.

Almost done now!

  • Push the lining back inside your pouch and give it a quick press if necessary.
  • Insert both open ends of the flex frame into the linen tube. 
Just wriggle both ends in at the same time, it is quite a snug fit. Go slowly and carefully, the pointy ends of the frame might want to poke through the fabric. Don't force the frame through as you might rip the fabric!

  • Push the open ends of the flex frame back together, they interlock in the center, and insert the pin.

  • Push the end caps closed with a pair of pliers to make sure the pin does not fall back out.

Sit back and admire your cute little flex frame pouch!

Or if you are like me you will want to keep popping it open and letting it snap back closed again.

I hope you have enjoyed my little tutorial, as always if you make something from one of my tutorials  please add a photo to the Flickr group, I love seeing your creations! (In case you were looking for a tutorial I had to move them out of my side bar, they have their own page now here)
Also don't forget to check out all the lovely projects in the Liberty Scrap Challenge Flickr group!

 Would you like to take part in the Liberty Scrap Challenge? Just leave me a comment on this post, perhaps you could tell me what you would like to make and I will pass your details on.

x Leila

The fabrics used in this tutorial were sponsored by the Organic Stitch Co sponsor of the Liberty Scrap Challenge. 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Ringo Pie May

I am done catching up on bee blocks- yay! Now the question remains if I can manage to make this month's blocks on time but best not dwell.

May was Kerry's month in Ringo Pie and she asked us to make a schoolhouse style block with spotty borders if needed, expressing creativity in our fabric choices.
It all sounded simple enough but leave it up to me to take a simple assignment and turn it into a complicated task, of course I started stressing over how uncreative\creative my fabric choices should be!

Ringo Pie May - house for Kerry

I seem incapable of choosing obvious fabric and colour combinations, I had to combine quilting cottons, vintage cottons a bit of voile with a bit of tana lawn and linen, no less.
I fussy cut a K and G for the chimneys, Kerry's initials and in case she missed those (she didn't) I fussy cut her surname over the entrance of the house.
There is a very stylish looking Suzuko Koseki lady peeking out of the doorway, no idea who she is ;)
  Perhaps Katy came over for a visit to inspect the quality of Kerry's Tana Lawn, lawn ( I love my own little jokes! feel free to ignore them)

It will be winding it's way to her as soon as I can find a minute to go to the post office.

Only two weeks of school left till summer holidays start, this is always such a busy but exciting time of year!

x Leila

Monday, 11 June 2012

White Picket Fence

White Picket Fence  is all finished and ready to go. Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement!
The pattern contains numbered, full size printable templates, ready for paper piecing. The finished block size is 10" square  and can be foundation or freezer paper pieced.
  I have included some helpful hints and tips as well as a guide block for easy reference whilst sewing.  White Picket fence is available for purchase here

x Leila

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Paper piecing tips & new pattern coming soon!

I have been working hard on turning my White Picket Fence bee block into a new paper piecing pattern. These things are always slow progress for me as I spend a lot of time working through all the little details trying to get them just right. Redrafting, sewing up samples, fine tuning, a healthy dose of self doubt- it all takes up a lot of time!
white picket fence

But I am pleased with the changes I have made especially to the fence, opening it up has really enhanced the illusion of depth and space.
Finishing at 10" square this block would make a lovely center for a cushion or tote bag as well as a substantial sized block for a quilt. I am hoping to wrap this one up and have it available in the shop soon!

Although there are no 'Y' seams or curves to this design aligning all the pieces can be a little challenging. I pin a lot and take it slow. I find there is no quick way to sew these blocks they really demand your full focus and time to get it right.

We have been discussing ways to improve our piecing skills in Cocorico lately and I thought I'd share three of the tips I found most helpful.

Pinning & marking
I mostly use pins to match up seams, I pin into my seam allowance and peek inside to see if the seams match up before I push the pin through. I insert my pins vertically so I can sew straight over them. The 1\4" guide gets in the way a bit sometimes, just go slow and lift the presser foot, with needle down, to help lift it over the pin if needed. I made some photo's to show you how I pin. They are just for show I had already finished my block and just needed to sew one final seam over my basting stitches -but you get the idea ;)
push pin in and check inside the seam

flip over and check if the pin hits the seam right

push pin through vertically
sew straight over the pin

 Another helpful trick to matching up pieces properly are tick marks. Kerry did a great tutorial on how to use them here She is such a clever bean using tick marks for paper piecing, I had never thought of them outside dress making! I find them especially helpful matching up sections.

After pinning and aligning my tick marks I sew a line of basting stitches. I use a very small stitch length for paper piecing (about 1.5) which makes ripping seams a nightmare.  I set my basting stitches to about 2.5-3 on my machine, but your settings may be a bit different. You want your stitches large enough so if you get it wrong ripping that seam will be easy without putting strain on the fabrics, but not so large your seam starts to gather.
When I am happy with the way things line up I just stitch over the basted seam with my regular small stitch length. Added bonus of basting when foundation paper piecing is you're perforating the paper at least twice which makes it very easy to peel off in the end.

Leave the paper on till the end!
This is something I don't do consequently enough. My freezer paper templates usually start flaking off after handling them for a while and rather than ironing them back on I just take them off. I don't enjoy digging under seams to peel off bits of paper when foundation piecing so generally I start ripping bits off half way through.
Leaving your templates on till the very end adds sturdiness to your block, it makes your fabric shift less which is a good thing. The templates are your guide for pinning and aligning sections and also show you exactly where the seams should hit. The Cocorico girls say, leave them on till the bitter end! I will let you know how I get on with that :)

Hope you found these tips helpful!

 x Leila

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Fat Quarterly Retreat 2012

Wow Fat Quarterly retreat ...what an overwhelming experience!! I felt slightly dizzy for most of the day not quite knowing what to do with myself. I met amazing people, I took two fab classes, I chatted, I laughed it was simply wonderful!

The main hall was just buzzing with creativity, so many faces both familiar and unfamiliar, it made my head spin.

morning class - Charlotte

The overall atmosphere was very relaxed and welcoming. The soft humming of sewing machines, heads bent down over tiny hand stitches, little burst of laughter, munching homemade biscuits, a friendly smile whichever way you turned.

There were pretty, pretty fabrics, goodie bags and all sorts of wonderful freebies from the sponsors.

Matching names with faces, swapping handmade goodies, exchanging Moo cards and email addresses. Admiring quilts, zippy pouches, sewing kits, handmade dresses and many many pretty bags!

Karen and her lovely bag
Karen showing off her pretty bag
We learned new things, we laughed, we shared we became this community we knew we always were.
How could I possibly describe the magic that takes place when you bump into an old friend for the very first time!

Kerry and me

A day was much too short, please can we do this again next year!!

xxx Leila