Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Curve Pieced Butterfly Block - Free Pattern and Tutorial

I've already confessed my love of curve piecing and desire to spread the word many times on this blog, so to help those who are willing try it I put together a tutorial for a really simple curve pieced block.

I think it would be great for beginners as all the curved seams are really gentle (unlike the traditional Drunkard's Path which was my first exposure to piecing curves ;)) Those already acquainted with curve piecing technique can skip the tutorial and just download the pattern. I would be thrilled to see somebody make the block, so please share in the comments!

I tried it out in this quilt, Fly Up, Fly Down, which received some very kind feedback.

And I'm going to play with it again as it seems to offer lots of possibilities in various styles.

Please click here to download the PDF file with the curve-pieced butterfly pattern (two 8'' squares)

You'll need:
  • about 1/8 yard of the background fabric
  • about 1/8 yard of the butterfly fabric (or two pieces of coordinating fabrics)
  • freezer paper
  • pencil or fabric marker
  • pins, scissors for paper and fabric and piecing thread
The process:
Trace the pattern to the dull side of freezer paper, remembering the alignment marks and the part numbers. The butterfly consists of two 8'' squares which are mirror images of each other. In the pdf I included both, but you can always mirror a pattern by tracing it to the shiny side of freezer paper rather than the dull one.

Cut the pattern carefully along the lines and iron the pattern pieces to the wrong side of your background and wing fabrics. Remember to leave half-inch gaps between the pieces for two 1/4'' seam allowances. It's easier to work on both wings at once to be able to chain-piece the parts.

Trace the outlines of the freezer paper parts on the fabric, again remembering the alignment marks (I use a usual lead pencil on all but the darkest of fabrics, you can use your preferred marker or pen). Cut out the fabric pieces eyeballing your 1/4'' seam allowances as best you can.

With sharp scissors make small cuts in the seam allowances on concave (valley) lines, about 1'' apart and not reaching the pencil line. No need to do anything with convex (mountain) or straight lines.

Put together parts 1A+2A and 1B+2B of both wings, check that the alignment marks come together.

Pull off the freezer paper from parts 1A and 2A, place part 2A on the table right side up and then place part 1A on top of it, gently easing the edge to match the convex edge beneath it. Tip to remember - you always place the "valley" on top of the "mountain" and do all of your manipulations with it, the "mountain" stays put and doesn't need special attention, whereas the "valley" stretches and folds and can be easily shifted here and there (the bias cut of the fabric and our notches make it pliable).

Pin the two pieces together. To check the alignment, insert your pin right into the intersection of the outline and the alignment mark

and turn the everything over to see if the pin has emerged from the mark on the other side, if not shift the pieces until it does.

Then hold the pieces together and pin as usual. Check all the alignment marks and corners in this way until your four pairs are pinned together.

Stitch along the pencil line, always keeping the "valley" part on top, so that you can control it and not allow it to pinch under the needle. Stitch slowly, gently aligning the fabric edges as you go, the curves are very gentle, so there is little opportunity for the fabric to pinch. Turn the pieces over to check if the stitching follows the pencil line on the other side as well - just a bit off is not a problem, however if it went too far off, you'd better re-stitch. There shouldn't be a problem if your seam allowances are uniform.

Gently press the seams to one side - in this case I found it more convenient to press to the background.

Attach parts 3A and 3B to their corresponding units in the same way - put the "valley" on top of the "mountain", check the alignment and stitch. Press the seams towards the background.

Now it's time to join the upper and the lower wings in the same way. Remember that the seams between the wings and the background must come against the corresponding alignment marks

Press the seams upwards.
The last thing left is joining the two halves - align all the seams as you do in straight line piecing and stitch.

Press the seam open or to one side, depending on your further assembly plans.

I'm not trimming this block yet, because I normally do it when all the blocks are ready. It's alone so far, but I think it's destined for a fun baby quilt - one of the things I love about curve piecing is that it allows you to create interesting shapes without the rigidity of fused appliqué and delicateness of hand appliqué, just good old piecing and the quilt can be washed and handled as much as necessary!

I do hope I made myself clear, if you have any questions or notice any errors please let me know. I would be happy if this tutorial helps somebody to try out and enjoy curve piecing.

Linking up to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday at Quilting Jetgirl
Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Prized Sunday Stash

It's a very special addition to my stash that I want to share about today - my quilt "Firebird" won the first place in the appliqué category of the Bloggers' Quilt Festival and I got a Fat Quarter Shop certificate which I immediately put to good use. On Friday my parcel arrived (took just a week from the US to Ireland, which is very nice).

Two ten-inch squares packs - Stonehenge Gradations and Bali Crackers in green. Just look at that:

Does it make anybody go green with envy? ;)))

It's impossible to show all the beautiful batiks, they are all different (all 40 of them) and all just gorgeous! I usually am short on greens for my art projects, now I think this issue has been addressed.

There is another gorgeous prize that my fabric pumpkin won (randomly) from the Handmade Halloween link-up hosted by Bernie at Needle and Foot, and it was a pattern by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts. My girls chose the Forest Friends pattern and I couldn't but take a break from my current project to try it out. I made two blocks yesterday and they turned out very winterly with the snowy background and snowflakes on the deer's nose.

Aren't they super cute? I haven't yet decided what I'll do with them but they seem very suitable for winter/Christmas decor.

I'm linking up to Sunday Stash at Molli Sparkles
Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Fly Up, Fly Down

I've got an un-seasonal finish to share with you today. A wall quilt about 30'' squared called "Fly up, fly down".

butterflies quilt

If anybody visits this blog regularly, they would know that curve piecing has been my big obsession for quite a long time now. I find that curves add a lot of interest to the predominantly straight-line genre of quilting. My previous curve-pieced quilts are more like "pictures", images that are their own thing. What I wanted to do in this case was to design a really simple curve-pieced block, which could work on its own as well as in combination with any traditional or modern blocks.

butterflies quilt

The butterfly block consists of two squares, so it can work in a grid, and and each square is made of six parts with curved seams, the curves being very gentle and much easier to sew than the traditional drunkard's path block, for example.

I wanted to make a couple of blocks to try it out and couldn't stop until I had 8! In this case the idea was co combine curve piecing technique with the modern quilt aesthetic, so I chose blenders and a neutral background (it would be more modern to use solids, but I just don't have any :))) Then I played with the layout options:

butterflies quilt

Decided on the last one.

I chose to quilt the butterflies with a custom wing pattern and the background with irregularly spaced vertical lines. I made a freezer paper "mask" to mark the butterflies:

butterflies quilt

The butterflies were quilted with variegated threads in shades of purple and yellow/brown correspondingly, and I like how different fragments of the thread show on different butterflies.

butterflies quilt

I like how this quilt turned out, although it's very different from what I've done before (sometimes I feel like I can say that about almost every one of my quilts - I really love experimenting). I hope it has that "modern" feel about it.

butterflies quilt

While working with this block I had so many ideas about other uses for it - for one thing it would be great to showcase some beautiful prints or hand-dyed fabrics, for another, I'd like to combine it with other blocks, then I though about enlarging it and "cutting" it with more curved seams to create various wing designs...

I'm wondering if anyone would like to try out this block. I could make it a free pdf download if somebody is interested.

Linking up to Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Friday, 7 October 2016

October #BraveQuilter Challenge and Monthly Goal

Now, the is something I have wanted to try for a long time, but have been putting off and off - quilt-as-you-go. Making the blocks part is pretty much clear, it's connecting the blocks part that I would like to figure out.

I have a few blocks (two of which were featured here as quilting samples for my quilts) that I want to make into a quilt, though I still need at least as many:

So, my #BraveQuilter challenge for October will be to connect my quilted blocks using one of the quilt-as-you-go methods out there. #BraveQuilter challenge link up is hosted by Julie at Pink Doxies and she encourages everyone to try out new things in sewing - whatever is new for you - and you still have time to join in this month's collection.

My monthly goal for October will be to make the remaining the blocks for this quilt and lay them out (probably even finish the quilt!). The OMG link up is run by Heidi at Red Letter Quilts and I even won a prize at September link-up (Thank you Heidi and Bagmaker!) - so you can too)))

I am also linking this post to Free Motion Mavericks at Lizzy Lenard Vintage Sewing, because my blocks are about FMQ and because Muv there has made a beautiful quilt-as-you-go quilt which inspired me to finally take the step))) - click on the link to enjoy exquisite FMQ designs.

Also linking to Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Tips and Tutorials Tuesday - Pumpkin Candy Holder

This tutorial will be linked to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday - a roundup of wisdom from around the net hosted by Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl - visit and learning something new and interesting.

Also make sure you visit Handmade Halloween linky party hosted by Bernie @ Needle and Foot for some spooky inspiration, there's still time to make your Halloween projects.

I'm excited to show you a fun Halloween (or just autumn decor) project, with a cheerful bit of color and practicality all in one.

Halloween DIY pumpkin

I call it the Candy Holder, but obviously you can use it to hold any odd stuff (including sewing supplies), or probably to store your Halloween decor elements from one year to the next.

halloween diy
I'll let you in on a secret - it's not really full of candy, there's fabric stuffed underneath actually...
My inspiration for this came from this tutorial for a cute fabric tea-pot, which can also be used for storing stuff and makes a nice present. Last year I tried to repeat it small-scale with orange fabrics and made these cuties that my kids now use as trinket boxes:

halloween diy

This year I decided to go big and made the pumpkin about life-size, it measures 7'' tall about 8'' across the bottom. I adjusted the pattern for the larger size increasing the number of segments and changing the shape somewhat. I tried out the first draft of the pattern with another pumpkin, which I didn't like shape of, so I now have quite a harvest:

halloween diy

And I put together a tutorial with tons of step-by-step photos. This is my first sewing tutorial, so I welcome all critical remarks and corrections, and I'd be absolutely thrilled if you made your own pumpkin and shared in the comments!

Pumpkin Candy Holder Tutorial

You can download my version of the pattern here (it's free!):

Pumpkin pattern pdf to download

To make a Fabric Pumpkin Halloween Candy Holder you'll need:
  • about 1/3 yard of fabric for the "outside" (or various orange scraps to that amount)
  • about 1/3 yard of fabric for the "inside"
  • a scrap of green fabric
  • card-stock (or plastic) for the bottom and the lid (about A3 page in all, I recycle boxes for that)
  • cushion filling (hollowfiber) or batting scraps to stuff the shape
  • matching thread
We'll start with the pumpkin "body". Trace the pattern for the body segment (I used freezer paper for my templates) and cut out 10 pieces from the outside fabric and 10 from the inside fabric. The segment pattern already includes a 1/4 inch seam allowance. I would recommend not to trace and cut the patterns for the bottom and the lid until you assemble the body and check if its finished size is the same as in the pattern (because everybody has their own 1/4 inch, right?)

halloween diy
I used the ditsy floral for the inside and interchanging dots and chevrons for the outside
Now stack two pieces of inside fabric face to face and two pieces of outside fabric face to face and put one pair on top of the other, matching the edges.

halloween diy
Here they are shifted so you see which side is up
Stitch 1/4 inch along one of the edges and flip over the upper and the lower pieces - you should see two right sides of the outside pieces on top and two right sides of the inside pieces in the bottom, the seam will stay hidden.

halloween diy

Repeat the sandwiching - add the next outside piece on top and another inside piece in the bottom ...
halloween diy

... stitch along the edge and flip the top and bottom pieces to form the next segment.

halloween diy

Continue in this way until all the ten segments are assembled one after the other.

halloween diy

This is what you, hopefully, will see on the other side:

halloween diy

Now we have to connect the last segment to the first one to form a cone of sorts. Align the edge of the first inside piece with the edges of two last ones (both inside and outside). Pin them together to hold in place for the time being.

halloween diy

Now start wrapping the free outside piece around the whole assembled thing ...

halloween diy

... until its edge aligns with the pinned ones - then grab it tight and pin it to them, too, so that all the fabric is inside this one segment like in a cocoon.

halloween diy

 Stitch along the edge, don't worry, with a bit of Halloween magic it will all come out again.

halloween diy

Now pull the fabric gently out of the cocoon and say "Abracadabra"...

halloween diy

Nope, not a butterfly, but something vaguely resembling a pumpkin, don't you think?

halloween diy

To fully become a pumpkin it needs a bottom, the inside one first. Put the assembled pumpkin body on top of the large circle in the pattern to make sure they line up (or measure both circumferences to make double-sure). The pattern of the bottom is without seam alliance, so you'll need to add a 1/4 inch when tracing it to fabric. (I trace the pattern to freezer paper, iron it to the fabric and then cut around it eyeballing 1/4 inch). Fold the fabric circle in two and then in two again and iron the fold to mark quarters.

halloween diy

Pin two opposing marks to two opposing seams in the bottom of the pumpkin body (as this is the inside bottom, the right side of it should touch the inside fabric).

halogen diy

Then pin the other two marks to the centers of two opposing segments and then add a couple of pins in between to line up the edge of the bottom with the edge of the body.

halloween diy

Stitch 1/4 inch from the edge and step back to admire.

halloween diy

The next step is to fill the shell and give it shape - pull out your filling (I used scraps of polyester batting - I have a whole bag collected from squaring quilts).

halloween diy

To avoid lumps if you're using batting scraps, they're best to be torn into smaller pieces and fluffed out a bit.

halloween diy

Fill the sections until it holds the shape well when handled - it should be rather tight but bouncy (you've got to fill it).

halloween diy

Time to bind the top. You can use your favorite binding technique here, I'll show the way I did it. Measure the circumference of your pumpkin's top. Mine was 18 inches (46 cm). Cut a strip of outside fabric 1 1/4 '' wide and 18 1/2 '' long (or whatever your measurement is plus 1/2 '') for binding and sew the short sides together to form a loop. Fold it in half and in half again and press to mark the quarters.

halloween diy

Match two opposing fold marks with two opposing seams on the pumpkin body and pin right sides together. Pin the other two marks to the centers of opposing segments.

halloween diy

Add a couple of pins in between.

halloween diy

Stitch 1/4 inch from the edge. If your machine has a removable platform, remove it to make things easier.

halloween diy

Cut a strip of batting about 3/4 '' wide and 18 '' (or whatever your measurement) long and stick it inside the binding (it's there to fill the binding and make it look prettier; mine was too skinny, should have used a thicker kind of batting or two layers perhaps).

halloween diy

Fold the binding the usual way (the batting strip will fold in two as well) and hand-stitch it to the inside covering the seam. You can probably machine-stitch the other side of the binding, I can't.

halloween diy

halloween diy

Step back, enjoy, proceed. Now we have to make the outer bottom to stabilize the whole structure and cover the seam. Cut another bottom piece out of the outside fabric with a generous seam allowance. Make a running stitch along the edge, don't cut the thread.

halloween diy

Trace the bottom pattern onto sturdy card-stock (without any allowances), cut it out and place on top of the fabric circle. Pull the thread until the fabric tightens around the cardstock, then make a couple of small stitches to hold it in place.

halloween diy

Attach the outside bottom to the pumpkin body with a ladder stitch or any other invisible stitch you prefer, make the stitches just outside the seam to conceal it.

halloween diy

Step back and enjoy. 

halloween diy

Put a candy inside to see how it works. Take the candy out and eat it - you deserve a treat.

halloween diy

What is left is the lid to keep the candy safe inside. The lid consists of a top and a bottom and we're going to need two card-stock circles cut to the lid pattern (measure you pumpkin to make sure the lid pattern fits, otherwise adjust it as needed) - the top piece of card-stock can be thin, the bottom one should be sturdy. Cut a circle of outside fabric to the lid pattern with at least 1/2 '' seam allowance all around, make a running stitch along the edge and fill it with batting scraps or hollowfiber to make the lid top soft and rounded. Then place your thin card-stock circle on top of the filling and tighten the thread.

Halloween diy

Cut another fabric circle to the lid pattern with a generous seam allowance (it should be the inside fabric, but I used the outside fabric for both pieces), make a running stitch and tighten it around the thick card-stock.

halloween diy

Put the two circles together card-stock to card-stock, and stitch them together with your invisible stitch of choice.

halloween diy

You'll have a lid which is flat on one side and rounded on the other. Step back and admire.

halloween diy

To finish it off we need a cherry stem on top. I got carried away and didn't take photos of this vital step, but I'm sure you'll manage without them. Take a piece of green fabric about 2 by 2 1/2 '' and stitch together the short sides to make a cylinder. Make a running stitch along one of the cylinder's edges and pull the thread tight to close it. Turn it right side out and fill tight with your batting scraps. Now stitch it to the center of the lid with invisible stitch.

halloween diy

Close the pumpkin with your lid. Open it. Close it. And open again to check if there's candy inside. Give a sigh of disappointment, close it, step back and admire.

Halloween DIY

halloween DIY pumpkin

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