8 December 2017

English Paper Pieced Christmas Star


Every year I like if possible to make a new Christmas Decoration, last year I made my Tilda Pixies (you can read all about them HERE).  This years decoration, an English Paper Pieced Star...was inspired by one that I made about 20 years ago for a friend who was having a baby boy... it was obviously in a time when you didn't really photograph your sewing makes prior to gifting, so sadly I can not share it, but I remember that it was all baby blue fabrics and at the point of each star I glued in a glass headed pin.  I am assuming that the 'mum to be' did hang it well out of reach of said baby boy!!


I am reliably informed the following by Wikipedia......my Christmas Stars correct geometric name is a Rhombic Hexecontahedron, n geometry, a rhombic hexecontahedron is a stellation of the rhombic triacontahedron. It is nonconvex with 60 golden rhombic faces with icosahedral symmetry. It was discovered in 1940 by Helmut Unkelbach.

In plain English my star has twelve sides made using sixty 2" x 72 degree Diamonds.  I made the individual stars/sides exactly as I would any other English Paper Pieced star (see this A Little Happy Tutorial)....I glue basted and then hand sewed 5 diamonds together to form the 5 point star.  I use 50wt Aurifil Thread in a lovely silver grey #2600 with Clover Black Gold needles size 9.


Obviously time had dimmed the memory of how fiddly this was to make...not  fiddly enough that I won't say never again, but if I were, I would construct it slightly differently... here's what I would do next time.........

When joining the stars together, rather than adding continuously to the 'Mother Star'  I would make up three sections each one comprising of four stars /sides...like that pictured below.....
The reason for this being that I found that as I added further stars /sides the 'Mother Star' structure became increasingly wobbly and consequently more awkward to sew.....



Having thought about this only after I had slowly added eight sides to the 'Mother Star'.  I made the final section of four stars /sides separately and it was noticeably easier to then join these two larger sections together.

Obviously what I haven't mentioned yet but what you can see from the photo's is, that unlike normal English Paper Piecing, I did not remove the papers and the stars / sides were sewn together with Wrong Sides Facing.
 
I used bakers twine to hang my star...I simply folded aprox 1 metre of twine in half and tied a good size knot near the raw edges.  Then as I sewed my final seam, I slipped the knot inside a point of the star and then sewed up the gap tightly sandwiching the knot inside.

I am so pleased with it and it is amazing how it has gone from a flimsy structure to a very strong one, but obviously light enough to hang from the ceiling with just a drawing pin holding it up.

So in summary although at various points during the making and having said never again...... of course rather predictably, I'm now thinking how sweet a star would be, made with 1" 72 degree papers, but maybe that's an itch I'll have to scratch next year!!



SCRUMMY SUPPLIES

If you feel inspired and would like to make one you will need:

(60) 2" 72 degree diamond papers available HERE (you'll need two packs)
(12) different fabrics, this would be a great scrap buster, alternatively you can find a fat eighth bundle of the 12 fabrics I used HERE
Bakers Twine to hang, I used THIS ONE
Thread to sew together, I used THIS ONE
My favourite needles are Clover Black Golds available HERE

I hope that you are finding a moment to enjoy some festive Happy Stitches!  See you next time!

29 November 2017

Introducing our NEW Block of the Month Club ~ Penny's Sampler


I'm so excited today to finally reveal what I've been working on over the last couple of months........our brand new Block of the Month Club 'Penny's Sampler'    I have had so much fun making this quilt, it was such a joy choosing all the pretty fabrics.  I used my favourite mix of low volumes, choosing text prints, blenders, dots and solids from across the shop.  The stars of the show however are a gorgeous rainbow of Tilda fabrics from various collections, including the up coming Lemon Tree due to arrive in the shop in early January.

As with my previous Block of the Month quilts, I used a range of techniques including English paper piecing, machine piecing and pretty hand drawn applique blocks and combined some of my favourite traditional blocks with some unique ones I created for the quilt.

Here's a little close up of some of the blocks.......





Having learn't my lesson from my original Block of the Month design 'A Little Happy Year' where I am still only half way through quilting....by the way I am planning on releasing this as a pattern book in 2018.... I made sure that Penny's Sampler was quilted and bound before I shared her!!

As usual I decided to hand quilt in my favourite Aurifil 12wt, I used a super charcoal grey #2630 ... I'm so pleased with how by using the charcoal it has added so much extra to the design.  I am tempted to maybe add a few more stitches over Christmas...
Penny's Sampler is going to be a 12 month Block of the Month club.  So each month starting in January, you will receive a gorgeous parcel full of loveliness directly through your letterbox.  This will include all the fabrics and if required, English Paper Pieces and/or applique templates for you to sew that months section of the quilt, plus of course detailed instructions for how to piece the block will also be included.   At the end of the year you will have will have received enough pretty fabric and instructions to make your very own 'Penny's Sampler' Quilt Top. 

For more detailed information and to sign up click on the link below, which will take you to our website

P.S. If you're wondering where the name for the quilt came from, when I first showed my design to mum, drawn out the traditional way with a pencil, ruler and graph paper .... mum quickly said that she loved it and claimed it for herself...hence Penny's Sampler!


Whilst talking Block of the Months...did you hear ...... 'A Little Happy Christmas' is back!


We received so many requests, we decided to run our popular 'A Little Happy Christmas' 9 Month Block of the Month club again in 2018!  

For more detailed information and to sign up, click on the link below


Phew....so much news!  I hope that you love the quilts as much as I do!  Any questions as always, please do get in touch!

Happy Stitches!

10 November 2017

A Little Happy Sew Along ~ Advent Calendar ~ Finishing Touches


Welcome back to the final instalment of the A Little Happy Sew Along to make the Advent Calendar I designed.  You can read the introduction post HERE.  Here's a recap of what we have done so far.....in week 1, we cut out all the different fabrics and trims required, we then embroidered the 'Christmas Countdown' panel and the little numbers for the pockets and prepared them for adding to the calendar.  In week 2, we added all the trims to the individual pockets and sewed them together.  In week 3 we pieced the front of the Advent Calendar.  This week we'll be adding all the finishing touches!


BEFORE STARTING Always Remember to:

1. Read all instructions before you begin.
2. RST means right sides together.
3. All seam allowances are 1/4”.
4. FWOF means width of fabric.
5. If you need any help, please do get in touch!

Lets Get Stitching

This week, you will need:

Fabric F -  Backing Fabric
Fabric A - Binding
Wadding
Ribbon Ties

First off you will need to layer up your backing fabric / wadding / Advent Calendar.  The wadding and backing fabric, should be slightly larger, about an inch all round, than the Calendar front.  For convenience, I normally use a basting spray.  For more information on making a quilt sandwich, take a peek at THIS BLOG POST.

Next you need to add some quilting to hold the layers together.  I chose to hand quilt using Aurifil 12wt in a complimentary colour.

I added a line of quilting around the edge of the Christmas Countdown panel and then added a large button to the corner, which I hand tied.....I love doing this on items that are decorative!


I then added a line of stitches below each of the rows of pockets....


Once you've finished hand quilting, trim away the excess wadding and backing fabric.

I chose to hang the calendar using ribbon ties.  For these, you need two pieces of ribbon approx 40cm (15 1/2") each.  Fold the ribbon in half, then place the folded edge against the top edge on the back of the calendar.  I lined these up with my quilting stitches around the 'Christmas Countdown' panel.  Just a little note for the observant ones...you will see that I didn't bury my finishing knot at the end of my hand quilting stitches.....I must admit that I don't tend too do so on items like this, that are going to be hung against something....obviously I would on a quilt or if the back side was going to be on display!!!  

For added strength, add a couple rows of machine stitches to hold the ribbons in place, approx 1/8" from the edge, for neatness, you want these 'holding' stitches to be concealed under the binding.

Finally all that is left to do is to add the binding.  I always machine my bindings on to the front and then hand sew the back.  For a detailed 'a little happy tutorial' for how I do this, take a peek HERE.
That's it....you should now have a very special homemade Advent Calendar ready for use this Christmas and I hope that it becomes part of your family tradition for many years to come.


Please remember, so that mum and I can follow your progress, if you're sewing along and sharing on social media please use the hashtags:

#alittlehappysewalong or/and #prettyfabricsandtrims

Thank you so much for sewing along!

Happy Stitches!

3 November 2017

A Little Happy Sew Along ~ Advent Calendar ~ Piecing the Front


Welcome back for week 3 of the A Little Happy Sew Along to make the Advent Calendar I designed.  You can read the introduction post HERE.  Here's a recap of what we have done so far.....in week 1,  we cut out all the different fabrics and trims required, we then embroidered the 'Christmas Countdown' panel and the little numbers for the pockets and prepared them for adding to the calendar.  In week 2, we added all the trims to the individual pockets and sewed them together.   This week we'll be piecing the front of the Advent Calendar together.  

BEFORE STARTING Always Remember to:

1. Read all instructions before you begin.
2. RST means right sides together.
3. All seam allowances are 1/4”.
4. FWOF means width of fabric.
5. If you need any help, please do get in touch!

Lets Get Stitching

This week, you will need:

Fabric B - Front Top
Fabric D - Linen Front
The 'Christmas Countdown' panel (from week 1)
(4) Rows of pockets (from week 2)

First off you position the pockets on to the Fabric D Linen Front, using the photo below as a guide.  (Don't worry if your gaps in between the pockets are ever so slightly different!!)  

Sew the pockets to the linen front along the bottom edge.  You want to try and get this line of stitching as close to the edge of the pockets as possible....


Now 'stitch in the ditch' in between each of the pockets.  Make sure you sew from the bottom all the way to the top of each pocket.  This will prevent any wrinkles in your pockets!

A few little happy tips for a neat finish...... 
  • When stitching in the ditch...which basically means that you are going to stitch on top of the seam line of where you joined the pocket fabrics together....I find it helpful to pull the fabrics apart slightly on both sides of the seam as I sew.  Traditionally to help hide the stitches you would use a thread that best matches your fabrics.....as my fabrics were a mix of red and off white, I stuck with Aurifil 50wt #2311 that was in my machine.
  • Make sure you do a couple of backwards and forward stitches at the beginning and end, so that the pockets are nice and secure.
  • Also allow a healthy amount of thread at either end and if like me you have an auto scissors on your machine DO NOT use it.  This is one of those cases when you need to have enough thread to be able to pull it through to the back and knot...leaving the front with no loose ends showing!




Next sew the Fabric B Front to the top of the Linen/Pocket Front, press the stitches to 'set them' then press the seam open.


Sew the lace trim across the seam and then add the ribbon on top.  I did this on my machine, but feel free to hand sew if you prefer! (Sorry I forgot to photograph this step!)  Finally, position the 'Christmas Countdown' Panel centrally 1" above the ribbon/lace.  Whip stitch in place.


That's it for this week, next time in the final week, we'll be adding all the finishing touches!

Please remember, so that mum and I can follow your progress, if you're sewing along and sharing on social media please use the hashtags:

#alittlehappysewalong or/and #prettyfabricsandtrims

Thank you for sewing along!

Happy Stitches!

27 October 2017

A Little Happy Sew Along ~ Advent Calendar ~ Pockets

Welcome back ...today is week 2 of the A Little Happy Sew Along to make the Advent Calendar I designed.  You can read the introduction post HERE and find the first weeks instalment for all the embroidery HERE.  I hope that you enjoyed all last weeks stitches!  This week we'll be adding all the trims to the pockets and sewing them together.  

BEFORE STARTING Always Remember to:

1. Read all instructions before you begin.
2. RST means right sides together.
3. All seam allowances are 1/4”.
4. FWOF means width of fabric.
5. If you need any help, please do get in touch!

Lets get stitching!

You will need the Fabric E 3 1/2" squares that you cut last week.  You should have 24 squares in total, 3 in each of 8 different fabric.  You will also need a selection of pretty ribbons, lace and buttons to trim them with, plus the numbers that you embroidered last week.

You will see from the photo below how I positioned my pockets, numbers and trims...feel free to choose your own layout.. you may for example prefer your numbers in numerical order.

I chose to had sew all my numbers and trims using Aurifil 50wt thread, but again if you prefer machine stitch them in place.

There are 6 different styles of trims, so you will make 4 pockets in each style, again used the photo below as a guide to their overall position on the advent calendar.

The following photo's give details of the number and trim placements of each style of pocket.  Remember you will make 4 pockets in each style of trim.

For the button trim pocket, I sewed the number in position and then added a small button to one of the corners.  I varied the position of the button on each of the 4 pockets (refer to the picture above).  For contrast, I  used the 12 wt that I had used previously for the embroidery for sew the button in place. 

For the two horizontal ribbon trimmed pockets and the lace trimmed pockets, you will see that I cut my ribbon a teeny smidge larger that 3 1/2" just in case any frayed slightly whilst I was sewing.  I then trimmed then to size once they were sewn in place.  (If you purchased a kit from us, we allowed aprox 10cm per pocket)


For the Heart ribbon, I simply folded the ribbon using the printed heart as a guide and positioned it so the raw edges (aprox 1/2") were hidden underneath the number..... I added a few little stitches near the raw edges to help secure the ribbon and then sewed the number on top.  I left the rest of the ribbon visible on the pocket, as a little loop.
For the 6th and final design, I simple sewed the number in place and using the contrasting Aurifil 12wt thread, I added a row of running stitch around the edge of the number square.

To complete the pockets, sew each of row of (6) pockets together.  Press the stitches to 'set' them, then press the seams open.  Each of the (4) rows should measure 3 1/2" x 18 1/2" .


You are now going add the Fabric F Pocket Linings.  You will note that the pocket linings measures 3 1/4" deep and the pockets measure 3 1/2" deep.  The reason for this is that when you turn the pocket through, with the lining being slightly narrower causes the pocket fabrics to overlap on to the back with the lining fabric.  So when they are sewn in place you will not have any lining peeking in to sight on the front of the Advent Calendar...good hey!

So.....with RST, place a Fabric F pocket lining and one of the pocket rows together.   Sew along the top edge measuring 18 1/2".  Press the stitches to 'set' them.

Next, you will need to pin the bottom edges together, because of the difference in depth.  Once pinned, sew along the 18 1/2" edge, remove the pins and then press the stitches to 'set' them.  You have now effectively made a tube with the shorter ends open.

Turn the pocket through one of the open ends and press.  Repeat for the remaining three rows.


That's it for this week, next time we'll be piecing all the front together.

Please remember, so that mum and I can follow your progress, if you're sewing along and sharing on social media please use the hashtags:

#alittlehappysewalong or/and #prettyfabricsandtrims

24 October 2017

A Little Happy Tutorial ~ WoolFelt Little House Pincushion

Many moons ago, I decided to make a pin cushion out of WoolFelt® in the shape of a little house.  The sort of house that you imagine tucked away at the end of a country lane, with creamy white walls, a faded terracotta pan tiled roof and with roses, lavender and a wisteria growing up the walls...



I made a pinky promise that I would share the pattern... it's taken a while, but today is that day!

The pin cushion in entirely hand sewn...my favourite.... and I used gorgeous WoolFelt® in pretty pastel shades, with all the hand stitches made in Aurifil Lana Wool thread...a dream combination!

The construction is very simple.... the little house has, as you would expect... 4 four walls, a base and a roof...

Each of the walls is then decorated.  I first position and sew on the windows, door and chimney breast and then free hand add the flowers.  The only thing that you need to bare in mind is to allow and aprox 1/4" seam allowance from all the edges, when adding the decoration.  Obviously you could draw on to the felt using an erasable pen, but it goes without saying do a little test to make sure you can remove any unsightly pen marks once you've finished.  Another alternative, is to trace your embellishments on to tissue paper, pin on top of your felt and embroider.  Once the embroidery is completed, you can then carefully tear away the tissue.... a pair of tweezers come in very handy!

I used a mixed of stitches, Blanket Stitch (a little happy tutorial can be found HERE), Back Stitch  (a little happy tutorial can be found HERE), Cross Stitch,  Lazy Daisy Stitch and French Knots (a little happy tutorial can be found HERE).

The eagle eyed will have spotted on the second version of the Little House...the one with the purple door, I added a little fan window on the front door and ridge tiles on the roof (well... a rectangle of felt, but to me it's ridge tiles!!)  


Whilst making Little House number two, I then got thinking about other types of houses in particular a Gingerbread House.....well of course it had to be done.....



This one is made from just two colours of  WoolFelt® I was channelling 'grown up' gingerbread house thoughts...with the decoration being white royal icing...but just think of the fun you could have adding sweeties (buttons) to the roof and candy canes around the door..... I just know I will have to make one!!!  The embroidery was very similar to the original, I just switched the flowers for a mix of nordic inspired designs.

The roof on the Gingerbread house was very easy, I simply added some scallops, sewing them in position with a row of back stitches, hidden underneath the next layer and added little cross stitches to secure the scallop......





The construction of the cottage is the same regardless of the design.  First sew the four walls to the base using Blanket Stitch.  They are effectively stitched wrong side to wrong side so that that Blanket Stitch is on display.....

Then stitch the four walls together at each corner.  For stability pop a piece of card in to the base...I use cereal box cardboard and cut it a smidge smaller that the base template.  Then start to sew on the roof.  This is a bit fiddly, particularly with the Gingerbread House, but persevere..it's worth it.  Once you have sew two of the walls to the roof, secure your thread and then add your choice of stuffing and maybe a little homemade sachet of dried lavender may be nice... or christmas spices. Then sew up the remainder of the seam.

If you would like to make a Little House Pin Cushion you can download the pattern for the original cottage HERE.

We've put together some WoolFelt® packs containing my favourite picks of colours for the original design, which can be found HERE...with careful cutting, you could make more than one cottage!  The pretty 'of white' I used is Fresh Linen if you wanted to add some extra to your basket.

An Aurifil Lana Wool thread pack of my favourite original cottage colours can be found HERE.



If you would like to make the Gingerbread House, this was made using Camel and Off White WoolFelt® available HERE and Aurifil Thread shades #8323 and #8328 available HERE.

That's it...I can not tell you how much fun they are to make.  I've had requests for a Halloween version also...sorry folks I ran out of time for this year, but who knows what seasonal variations I may come up with next year!

Don't forget if you decide to make a little house...please do remember to use the hastags

#PrettyFabricsandTrims / #ALittleHappyTutorial / #littlehousepincushion


Happy Stitches!