Friday, 27 February 2015

English Paper Piecing For Beginners - Medallion Patch-along

English Paper Piecing or EPP is all the rage again and EVERYONE wants to know how to do it! Medallions are gaining popularity too so I thought that this time around, we could set off together on a Patch-along and we can do it bit by bit so that it is not overwhelming.

First of all, what on earth is EPP? It is simply making quilts with paper templates but not like foundation piecing. EPP is where you have a paper shape, wrap the fabric around it and then tack (baste) and then stitch the shapes together to form patterns. Hexies are the most recognisable of all. Here are some examples of simple projects from this blog....

The tute for the red mat is here.

The blue tute is here. Have a look around in the Gallery drop down for some more EPP ideas.

Every sewist accumulates scraps and making hexies and other shapes as you go for EPP is a great way to save time in the long run and keep the scraps neat and organised.

So how do we do that then?

First of all, we need a paper shape. You will need to print it off and then cut one out. Normally you need many more than one but this time, the one will do. Cut the shape from any paper except newsprint. Magazines work well and I am using coloured paper so that you can see it in the photos.
Here is the template for you to print off for the first pattern piece. It is a 3.5cm hexie (1 1/2 ") and you get this number by measuring along one of the sides.

Take your paper shape and choose a nice piece of fabric. Pin the shape to the wrong side of the fabric and trim the fabric so that it is about 1.5cm larger than the paper all around....

Now fold the fabric over the paper and finger press (crease sharply with your finger or nail). Tack (baste) around to keep the fabric around the paper....

TIP: Keep the stitches large so that they are easier to remove later on.
By the way, treat your papers with respect because they can be used a few times - such a boon because they can be an utter bore to cut out! You can buy them too but not in every shape that you need.

et voila! You have a hexie and this is the quinessential EPP shape. Now I am not going to spoil the surprise as this make goes along so today, we need the hexie plus six of these....

We need some fabric for them too. I have chosen a coordinating striped fabric and when I place my second shape onto the fabric, I want the lines to run up and down to make an effect. So place the fabric like this...

Treat the second shape the same way as the hexie although be aware that you will have a 'tail' at the top like this...

That is normal for a pointy shape. Ignore it for now and as we piece, you tuck it under and out of the way. So for now you have a pile of ready to go pieces like this....

The hexie is the centre and the second shape is stitched to it with a neat overcast stitch like so....

Keep going until you have a star like this...

When a shape is completely enclosed by other shapes, you can remove the papers. Remember, do it carefully and put them in a special box for next time. Some of the shapes in this medallion are repeated. Simply snip the tacking threads and pull them gently out and then slide the papers out.

Don't be hasty though and remove the papers until the shape is fully surrounded buy others - you only get to remove the hexie shape this week!
Next week, we will add another row I will look forward to seeing you then and than you so much for stopping by! 

Do you want to know a secret? I don't know how this project turns out. I am letting it evolve week by week so that I work along with you! Brave or silly, I am yet to decide but I am nervous - the German in me doesn't like being this disorganised!

Before I go, I have just received boxes and boxes back from one of the magazines that I work for. I made the mistake of putting some things on the wrong chair....her chair apparently. Sorry! She is getting naughtier and bossier as she gets older!

That dog is so not sorry!

Love and hugs
Debbie xxx

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Valentines Day love birds - for your pot plants!

Who can tell me where the year is going!? It is almost half past February and of course, before we can turn our thoughts to spring properly, we have to get Valentines Day out of the system.

It is starting to be a little lighter in the evenings now and our bulbs are defiantly poking their heads up...

It is starting to feel springy! I am very busily crocheting things (much to my son's dismay) like wreaths with flowers and bunting and little covers for my pot plants and all in the brightest colours.

Big photo: ripple effect crochet. Top right: inspired by an Attic24 wreath that I thought was just beautiful. Middle right: Potted plants obviously need jerseys! These are so easy made in dc and htr. Bottom right: part of some granny bunting with flowers; perfect for brightening up a winter room.

Now I love heart motifs but there are plenty of those around at this time of the year so I thought that I would make some pretty birdies to liven up the potted plants until they bloom. Here is one....

And another one....

They are just the bee's knees and we will use some sparkly beads which catch the sun too. Makes them great in the conservatory or on a sunny windowsill. Placed correctly, they can brighten a whole room! So what will we need to gather?

-cotton fabric in pretty patterns You will need one sort for the body and a contrast but coordinating bit for the wings.
-polyester stuffing
-sparkly beads like faceted crystals and crackle glass although miracles work well too in the right light. Stick with 6mm and 8mm ones for the crown.
- a couple of orange 4mm beads per bird for the eyes
-bamboo chopsticks for making the stands - or some normal sticks if that is what you have to hand. Sharpen the bottom with a pencil sharpener or sharp knife.
-beading thread and a beading needle
-hot glue gun
-water soluble marker

With reference to the stuffing, I get an awful lot of questions about the sort of stuffing to use. You do not have to use the 'proper' stuff in a tiny bag from the craft shop! Wash and pull apart an old pillow or cushion if you have one for the ultimate in recycling. If you need to buy new, buy cushions or pillows from a cheap shop (Ikea is good) and use the stuffing. Much cheaper and exactly the same.

First you will need to print off the pattern. The bird body when you print it out should be about 21cm long and the wing is 15cm long. It really doesn't matter but it will alter your results if they are too different.  And remember that the pattern pieces represented by a dashed line are behind another piece. Here is the pattern-

I would cut the shapes out and then draw around them onto the fabric with the water soluble marker for ease. Make sure that they are mirror image though!
This is what we have so far...

You will have two bodies and four wings. Cut them out and it is time to sew! I have made two love birds and swaped the wing and body fabrics.
Begin by sewing the wings. Pin the two wing pieces right sides together and sew all the way around, leaving a gap for turning out. Clip the curves and turn out the right way. This is what we have now...

Lightly stuff the wing with some polyester but no so much that it loses its flat shape. Move the stuffing around until it is well distributed in the wing. Slip stitch the opening closed. You will see on the pattern that there are some lines on the wing? These are stitching lines. Mark them with the water soluble marker if you need to and then either hand or machine stitch along them. The wing now looks like this....

Repeat for the other wing. Now on to the body! Again, pin the body pieces together and sew all around leaving a gap for turning out and then clip the curves, turn out and stuff the bird really well. 
NB: when you sew the body, leave the opening in the bottom of the bird and then when slip stitching, leave a small gap to insert the stick or chopstick.

Slip stitch the opening closed and now you have something starting to take shape! Next let's attach the eyes. Take your chosen beads and attach with beading thread and needle to either side of the head. Draw the thread in a bit too to give the head a nice shape.

The crown is made by first taking a longish piece of thread and stringing 7x 8mm beads onto it...

Close the circle, go back through all of the beads with the thread until you are back where you began and tie it off really well. This gives a double thread through the beads. Snip the short thread off leaving the one still in the needle...

Now attach this to the head with a few stitches around....

Take an 8mm bead and thread it on and weave the thread through the next bead. Keep going right around the crown. You will have seven of these and they will be a little floppy but not too much. finally, weave back again and this time pick up a 6mm bead (I have used an orange crystal) and go inbetween each 8mm bead.

Keep doing this until you have a second row on the crown. The more you weave, the tighter and more solid the crown becomes. The weaving will gently draw the crown together.

When you have a nice crown, finish the thread by weaving a little more and then cutting it. We can put everything together now.

Hot glue the wings to the sides of the body and insert the blunt end of the chopstick into the bottom of the bird (you may need to wriggle it between the stitches) and then hot glue it into place. 
It is okay to make the chopstick a little shorter too, they look better if you cannot see the chopstick, like the bird is nesting in the plant. It all depends on the size of the plant.

We have this now....

Now find a nice potted plant and insert the stake gently into the pot.

How pretty is that! I hope that you have enjoyed this free pattern and tutorial. thank you so much for stopping by and don't forget to sign up by email or like my FaceBook page so that you never miss a post!

Thanks for stopping by!
love and hugs
Debbie xxx

Friday, 6 February 2015

Sweet flan carrier and some truly decadent slice

The cat seems to know what it feels like when the long awaited snow comes and then DOESN'T LAY!!! How frustrating! It was bad enough when we didn't get any and everyone else did and now it is snowing and snowing and nothing is looking any whiter than before. Okay, rant over and thanks for listening!

We have had some pretty mornings though...and now just to make a liar out of me it has snowed overnight and it is laying. Go figure.

The weather! Well we are stuck with it and its idiosyncrasies I suppose. It is a good day for inside activities like baking and sewing!
I am doing a double blog again this week because I couldn't work out what to leave off. So we have...a really nice but simple to make flat tote and I wrote a new slice recipe so I thought that I would  pop that on as well. Let's do food first?

This is a truly decadent peanut butter and chocolate slice and it has three ingredients. First let's take a look at it...

Sold? Good...then how is it made? Firstly, gather these supplies:
-200g good quality milk chocolate
-200g good quality white chocolate
-1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

Heres how to make it:
Line a small tray or tin with baking paper. Mine is about 20 cm square.
Melt the milk chocolate on the stovetop (double boiler) or in the microwave and then stir in the peanut butter and mix well until it is combined. Melt the white chocolate in a separate container.
Tip the milk chocolate/peanut butter mix into the tray and then the white chocolate too. Flatten it out a bit and swirl the colours together with a fork or a chopstick or similar until marbled but not completely mixed. There is a trade off though, the less you mix when marbling, the better colours but the harder it is to cut. Here is one that I made earlier....

As you can see, the colours are better and more distinctive. The choice is yours and the trick is to cut it before it is completely set. If you forget to do this, don't panic, just leave it at room temperature for about an hour and cut it then. 
Refrigerate until almost set and then cut into squares. Put it back into the fridge until it is completely set and then,! It is that simple.
Caveat: BEWARE this packs a hefty calorie punch so make it when you have people to share it with. You have been warned!

Right, whilst that is in the fridge setting, let's sew!

From time to time, we head off somewhere and we are required to bring food. A tart is a difficult thing to tote around and you don't want to put anything heavy onto it or it will be spoiled. Well you will be pleased to know that there is a very simple invention around which saves the day! And here it is.....

How cool is that! It is an odd looking animal but it works brilliantly! You need very few things and here is the list-
- 55cm x 55cm piece of fabric for the outer*
-55cm x 55cm piece of fabric for the lining*
-extra 25cm strip lining fabric for the straps
-2 x 3cm 'D' rings
-Label making requirements. You can find the link to that post here. My label in this project is 8 cm x 5 cm and my stamps are alphabet ones in an old courier font style in two sizes. I have used Ranger Archival ink in Cobalt (blue) for a change but you can use black if you prefer.

* I have used some really fresh and pretty Clarke & Clarke furnishing weight fabrics for extra protection and oomph. My flan  plate is 30 cm diameter so I have just added 12.5 cm on each side.

Okay, the first thing is to take your two squares (outer and lining) and make sure that they are square. Trim if necessary. With the right sides together, sew all around them (leaving a gap for turning out) and then turn out through the gap and slip stitch it closed. You now have a large square.
Topstitch right on the edge of the square all around. repeat for a double row of topstitching.....

Now from the extra fabric, cut a piece 12 cm wide x 100 cm long. Use the outer fabric for the straps to give a nice contrast. This will make the straps and then be channel quilted and cut as needed. I am working with a slightly smaller piece here so that you can see what is going on in the photo. You will work with a long piece and make all of the straps in one go.

It is okay to join the fabric if you need to. Fold the strap in half lengthwise and crease...

Now fold the two raw edges to the centre and crease....

Now fold the whole thing in half so that the raw edges are hidden in the fold....

Topstitch firstly along the open bit to keep it down....

Then on the opposite side and a couple of times in the middle about 1/4 cm apart. This is the channel quilting bit. Your strap should look like this now..... 

Cutting time! Cut two pieces 14 cm long. These will be the 'D' ring holders. The rest is the long strap (71 cm). The next image shows you the position of both the straps.

When you attach the large strap, fold the ends in 2 cm and stitch securely on 3 cm in from the tip of the corner. The smaller tabs have a 'D' ring in each and they are attached so that the ring goes just over the corner...

Once again, poke the raw edges underneath and sew on securely.
Finally, we have the stamp to make. You will have seen the link further up and the only difference to this label is that I have taken a bit of lining about 1 - 1 1/2 cm larger than the cotton tape and then pinked all around to make a decorative edge...

Take the chosen stamps and make your label. Here is mine...

Now sew the label to the outside of the flan carrier. I have attached mine about 8 cm in from the tip of a corner containing a 'D' ring.

Well that's it and thank you for staying with me for this epic blog post! This is a quick and easy make and is really good for craft fairs because it is so unusual. Consider them for presents too - most of us don't even know that we need one until we have it and it will revolutionise your next smart picnic!
To use it is simple. Put your flan dish in the middle and put the long strap over the top of the dish. next, draw the long strap up through the two 'D' rings to form a handle. Done!

Here it is again...

Thanks so much for stopping by
Love and hugs
Debbie xxx