Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Supplies for English Paper Piecing

My La Passacaglia quilt project uses English paper piecing.  I tried this technique once before, but for this project I had to invest in some new supplies.

First, there is the book, Millefiori Quilts by Willyne Hammerstein. It is not available on Amazon.com (my go-to source for all books). I bought my copy at Paper Pieces.  You need it to have the plan of the quilt and the directions for putting the pieces together (it goes together like a jigsaw puzzle).

The book doesn't have directions for sewing.  For construction techniques, I watched tutorials on YouTube.  Sue Daley has a series of video tutorials; her "Top 10 Tips for English Paper Piecing" will get you started.

You need the paper shapes that support the fabric pieces.  Now, you can cut them yourself but do you really want to spend your sewing time cutting paper?  Not me, so I bought the complete set of paper pieces for the quilt from Paper Pieces.  They sell a set of all the pieces, so you don't have to figure out how many you need of each shape and size.  

The fabric for my project is all coming from stash (so far).  Good thing, 'cause I spent my budget on the book, paper pieces, and glue pens.  I also bought a set of acrylic templates from Paper Pieces that make it easier to cut the shapes from strips of fabric.  I use my Olfa rotating mat for both cutting and gluing.  The edges of the fabric are lightly glued around the paper pieces and the Sewline glue pen makes that easy and fast.  I can see that I will need quite a few glue refills for the pen before the end of this project.  (Sue Daley advocates the glue process and it is working for me but there is also a basting technique that many others use.)

To sew the pieces together, I use a #11 milliner's needle (long and thin, with a small eye) and Superior Threads' Bottom Line thread.  I bought this thread at the urging of Sue Daley (in her video tutorial). The Super Bobs donut is giving me the color variety I need for my project, though you could probably manage with spools of a few neutral colors, depending on the color of your fabrics. 

You need a few other things, like a rotary cutter and thimble, you probably already have them on hand for your "normal" quilting projects. 

The last thing you need is patience.  This quilt won't be made in a weekend and possibly not in a year.  I'm aiming for Dec. 31, 2016.

Friday, May 15, 2015

La Passacaglia - Rosette 2/3

It has been awhile, I know.  My current project moves along very slowly and there is not much progress to show week-to-week.  I've started my second rosette.  This one is labeled #3 in the schematic for the quilt.  It is one of the large ones, with five more rounds to add before it is complete.

I did more fussy cutting for this one.  I do like the impact of fussy cutting but it takes a lot of time.  I cut several sets of pieces from the same fabric when I cut the pieces for the third round you see above so with those pieces already cut, some of the future rosettes should go together more quickly.  

My sewing room is a mess!  I pulled fabric from my stash for this project.  Originally, it was neatly piled at one end of my sewing table but as I sort, match up sets of fabric for each rosette, and cut, it has become messier and messier and now the fabric lies in three heaps on the floor.  Cleaning to be done later, now it is time to sew.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

La Passacaglia - Rosette 1

I finished the Rosette #1 for my La Passacaglia project.  It took me two weeks to make it.  Yes, this quilt will take forever!

I have some fabric cut for parts of other rosettes but I need to plan each rosette out completely before I start sewing, to be sure all the fabrics go together and with the adjacent rosettes.  This is English paper piecing and I use a Sewline glue pen to adhere the fabric to the paper pieces before hand sewing.  

I probably won't make much progress this week because I'm going to fetch Miss Main Street home from college.  It will be nice to have her home, even if for only a short time before she goes off to her summer study/internship.

Monday, April 20, 2015

La Passacaglia - The Beginning

A few weeks ago, I blogged about my latest obsession quilt love, the La Passacaglia quilt from Millefiore Quilts by Willyne Hammerstein.  I started my project last week and have the center of Rosette #1 finished.  

Here's the center star; those bobbins on the right give you an idea of the size.  The pieces are tiny.

I did a lot of fussy cutting for this one.  It is time consuming but I like the look it gives, especially for the central 5-pointed star.  

This project will be entirely hand pieced, using the English Paper Piecing (EPP) method.  I will probably work on a machine pieced project at the same time, because sometimes you need to finish something in less than 2 years!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Little Butterflies - Project Update

I don't like to have too many quilt projects going at once so before beginning my EPP project, I thought it best to finish Little Butterflies.  In my last post on this project, I had decided to machine applique the blocks using fusible web and invisible thread (Superior Threads Mono Poly).  That decision worked out well and it didn't take long to get all 35 blocks finished. 

Here they are sewn together.  Right now, the top is 30" by 42" but I plan to add a narrow border, probably in the background color.  Then I will hand quilt it to finish.  

The original pattern from Laundry Basket Quilts has you cutting your background squares 5" but I wanted my butterflies to be a little less crowded together so cut my backgrounds 6.5" square.  When I started, I thought I might trim them before sewing together but after trying a few layouts, I decided to keep the blocks at the larger size.  

As you might have noticed, I used a variety of neutral tone-on-tone prints for the background, seven different fabrics in total from my stash.  I used a set of Bali Pop batik strips from Hoffman for the butterfly wings and a very dark brown for the body (with dark brown matching thread to applique the bodies), I drew the antennae with a permanent pen (Pigma Micron).  You don't need a jelly roll to make a quilt this size; a couple of charm packs would be enough fabric.

There is also a larger version of this pattern, with the butterflies cut from layer cake squares.  The fabrics used in the original design are from the line Sticks & Stones, which is supposed to be in stores this month.

Between this top to quilt, a finished quilt to bind, and my EPP project, I have a lot of handwork ahead!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Find - the KonMari Method

I've been doing some business travel recently (the reason for my extended absence from the blog; lots of work, not much quilting) and on a flight last week, I read this book:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. It is subtitled, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, but really focuses on decluttering.  If you are looking for organizing tricks and clever items that will allow you to cram more into your closets and cupboards, this is not your book. Instead, Marie Kondo's philosophy is to get rid of the stuff that does not give you joy.  

I found it a fast, easy read and at the end, I immediately wanted to tackle my clutter.  Unfortunately, I was in an aluminum tube somewhere in the air over the mid-West so the sorting had to wait until the weekend.  But I started last Saturday and sorted my current wardrobe (fall/winter clothing), with the aim of tackling my spring/summer clothing this weekend or next, depending on whether the forecast indicates it is safe to put my sweaters away for the season.  I have bags of stuff to take to the thrift shop and much more attractive looking and functional closets.  

The author's advice is to tackle decluttering by category, starting with clothing and ending with hobby items.  I'm sure I'll have plenty of quilting stuff to cull, but will cover office paper, books, and kitchen stuff first, so it will be awhile before I get to my sewing space.  

In the meantime, if your stuff has taken over, I recommend you sit down with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and adopt the KonMari method for yourself.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Latest Quilt Crush

Oh, the dangers of Pinterest!

I was wasting time amusing myself, letting one pin lead to another, then another, when I stumbled upon this image and then this one. Oh my, instant quilt crush!  I had to know more.  Several hours of internet research later, I found out the answer:  Millefiori Quilts by Willyne Hammerstein.  

I bought the book.

It arrived in the mail.  Wowza, it takes about a gazillion teensy pieces and is English paper-pieced.  I had serious doubts but the design kept calling my name.  I could not get it out of my head.  I searched online for more images and started following the Instagram feeds of quilters working on their own versions.  Falling more deeply in love....

I gave in and ordered the supplies:  almost 3000 little pieces of paper, acrylic templates for cutting fabric, and some glue pens.  

Desperately wanting to get started but afraid of embarking on an UFO.  I pulled fabric from my stash, let it sit in a pile for frequent contemplation.  Liking the idea even more....

It's time to start.  Wish me luck!  The quilt is called La Passacaglia. Google La Passacaglia quilt for lots of eye candy or check out my Pinterest board.  But don't say I didn't warn you.  


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