My Experience with English Paper Piecing

I'm ready to dish on my my English Paper Piecing experience to date and will either push you over the edge into trying it or send you running for the hills. 

Please note, this isn't a tutorial.  There are lots of good tuts already written.  My favorites are by Selfsewn and Sunshine's Creations; they're great to get you going!  Or feel free to leave your own favorite tutorial in the comments.  What I'd really like to do is de-mystify this technique and let you in that it's not as terrifying as it sounds. 

Paper piecing breaks down into about five steps:

1.  Cutting out your paper template

I originally thought, oh ya right, like I'm going to take the time to cut out paper and then fabric.  I mean that's twice the work, right?  But seriously... cutting out the paper is so darn fast and really reminded me how much I enjoy other crafty stuff. 

My Tips: remember to use paper scissors on the paper... not your good fabric scissors and I used a zipper top plastic baggy to catch my cutout pieces as I'm cutting to keep them safe.

2.  Auditioning and cutting out fabrics for each template piece.

You cut your fabric with an extra 1/4 seam beyond the paper template.  Did I mention you can use scraps?  It so cool to think that you can make something so pretty from so little fabric with this particular pattern.  Really makes me feel like I am giving those little scraps an amazing home!!

*Confession... I iron as little as possible with any of my quilting projects, so for my first starlet I skipped ironing the fabric scraps and went straight to cutting, but... don't do that.

My Tips: it's so much easier to cut and baste the pieces if the fabric is ironed first!  Lesson learned... the hard way!

3. Basting your fabric to the templates

My original thought was that this step was felt like sewing the fabric twice, but after some practice this goes so fast!  And I understand now that this is really just to help the pieces keep their shape before you start to join them.

So fun to see a rowdy stack of fabric bits transform into a groomed stack of shapes waiting for assembly!  This is when I can really begin to visualize how great it's going to be.

4. Sewing your pieces together

I know.. hand sewing?  Feels so 1900's.  But, I had an unexpected connection to the history behind all this and it's thrilling to know that this is how quilting was done back then.  

Very deep!  And it made me think about all the time that went into this craft.

5.  Admiring the precision of your joints and your completed work!  And repeat.

Reasons Paper Piecing is So Cool!
  • It's a great way to use scraps!
  • It's portable -- and here is a look at the kit I carry with me.  That is a leather-like envelope type pouch, with little scissors, a needle and piece of batting to hold it, and I use bobbins to carry a bit of my basting and sewing thread.  Easy to throw it in whatever bag I am carrying.
  • It gets a lot more natural and quick with a little practice.  By the time I was through my first starlet I had stopped poking myself with the needle and my speed is way more than triple
  • The accuracy of the seams and joint is really stunning to behold
  • Finger pressing the folds (using the heat of your fingers as an iron) while basting is one of my favorite parts
And there you have it.  So, by now you've guessed that I like it enough to do two of them and I have my eyes set out on a third.  How many am I going to make?  No clue yet.  Might go for a table runner... may go for a wall hanging.  I'll let the pieces tell me when they are done.

Now, go to the Rose Star Block Party Flickr group and get yourself started!!

I'm going to share this with Quilt Story at Fabric Tuesday, From the Blue Chair for Slash the Stash, and other weekly parties on my sidebar too!


A Weekend Ramble

Oh Monday... I sat down to share a few words with you and have ended up writing tomrrow and Wednesday's stories.  Sigh.  But what to do about today's blank canvas?  Perhaps a little ramble about the weekend?

Our weekend followed a slow, quiet, easy pace that seemed to be so needed. 

There was lots of sunlight pouring through the windows and I admit that I have a hard time resisting my sewing area while there are streams of light to soak in!

The ground froze again, leaving lots of doggy evidence captured in frozen mud to be checked out.  Both Sammy and Katie took turns sniffing their own prints as I snapped a few pictures. 

That's Sammy's nose, ear, and paw sneaking in this snap.

Here's the print without a nosey dog in the shot.  Have I told you I'm a sucker for tracks?  They are a great reminder of how we are all connected through the same shared spaces. 

This particular track is from Katie.  Shown here with her serious face. 

I laughed a million and one times due to the antics of one nine month old white puppy.  She's fearless, always learning, and getting so big these days! 

And thankfully, she is still thinking of herself as a lap dog.  I'm not sure if I will find that cute as she grows beyond 60lbs, but I do relish the fact that she wants to snuggle in my arms!!

And this sums up the rest.  When we weren't outside in the sun, hiking or sewing, we were resting. 

Hope you feel refreshed and sparky as we head into a new week!!


10 Snaps from a Lazy Blogger

I could say I've been really busy the' last few days or I could say I've just been plain 'ole lazy.  Both are true. 

And as I'm sitting at my desk with the sun shining in all I want to do is turn on a movie and rev my sewing machine into action.  So, here are quick ten snaps from the last few days!!



Wishing you a wonderful weekend!!


Wednesday WIP {Seeing Stars}

Managed quite a bit of sewing time this week and it feels good to get back in the groove!!


Forms of a Dress -- due 14 February
This is my first guild challenge!  I am finding myself sketching and re-sketching, but can feel myself getting closer to the One!

Spinning Starlets {English Paper Piecing} -- a.k.a. I've reached a new level of crazy!
Following along with the Block Party at Selfsewn; creating Rose Stars.  And.... drum roll please.... I finished my first one!!  Whohohoooo!!!
On the ironing board waiting for a nice press (and in terrible yellow closet light)

Pressed and happy!  I need to grab a better daylight picture, but really liking how it came out!

Private Swap with Megan from Silver Threads of Happiness
I have mostly finished up the pincushion I made for Megan and getting to work on her surprise surprise.  Yup, I'm having a fun time with this one. 

Name Game Swap -- due by 15 March
We are swapping a mini quilt that uses the name of our swap partner in the quilt.  Cool, no?  I have gotten my partner's information and am starting to snoop around for ideas and inspirations.  I did pull a bunch of fabrics, but want to make sure they are her style/colors -- this is going to be out my normal style and should be interesting!

Star Struck or Map to the Stars -- star quilt-a-long by Melissa at Happy Quilting
I am up to eight stars -- you can see more here!!  Feeling good about it.  Now, I just need to figure out how I want to lay out the design.  I was originally going to just lay them out next to each other, but it feels heavy and unbalanced.  Still trying to figure out what to do next.
A bunch of new stars.

All the stars together.  You know.  Looking at this picture again (and sorry for the low light) I'm thinking it's the blue check and bold bottom right star fabrics that are throwing the design off.  The softer colors are melting in to the brown instead of fighting it.  Hmmm....

Naughty Notions Challenge -- I've decided not to enter in this round due to everything else going on. 


Laughing Leaves with Frieda Anderson
More of the project can be seen here.  Can't wait to roll up my sleeves and dig back in!  You can also check out what I learned about using fusible in an art quilt!
Still no deadline for this one.  The way things are going, maybe I pick this up once my show pieces are done?

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

This Week's Work in Progress (WiP) Stats:
Last WiP Wednesday Total: 8
New Projects: 0
Finished Projects: 1 (backed out on Naughty Notions challenge)
Total WiP's: 7
And a dose of Katie (left) and Sammy (right) playing in the snow we got over the weekend!


Organized My Fabric Scraps

Like the title implies... I have finally taken back control of my sewing room (mostly, just don't look at my desk right now) and organized my tiny fabric scraps... by color.  Squeee!!

 Just lovely. 

A guaranteed smile every time I walk in the room and I just can't wait for every excuse to pull down a jar and start digging though it!!

Pink and Red in Jar #1
Orange and Yellow in Jar #2
All shades of Green in Jar #3

Jar #3 again
Blues in Jar #4
Purple and Mixed Colors in Jar #5

And my Neutrals... white, beige, browns in this awesome mushroom!

How do you organize your teeny tiny fabric scraps?  --also sharing at Fabric Tuesday with Quilt Story!

Name Game Swap Inspirations

I have pulled together my inspiration collage for the Name Game Swap!!  So much fun to go through my pins and favorites to gather up what makes me smile in my Describe Happy blog journey! 
Hi Secret Swap Partner (if you're reading this), hope you are well!! 
I hope this inspiration board helps you narrow down your ideas.  But really, the sky is the limit.  Think happy and upbeat, let your smile be your guide, and overall I hope you enjoy creating your piece; I am so looking forward to treasuring it! 
Ok, here is the inside scoop... I find myself drawn to bright happy colors, nature undertones, silliness, scrappiness, positiveness, and irregular shapes.  I also have a love for buttons, raw natural edges, mushrooms, the forest and forest critters.  And if you found a way to work in my pups... well, that would rock my socks off!!  
Grinning from the excitement,

1.     Tree of Life from Film and Thread
2.     Scrappy Rock and Roll from LuGal1
3.     Dalahorse Screen Print from Henning Trollback
4.     Abstract Felt Mobile from Lupin
5.     Jones Patchwork Quilt from Urban Outfitters
6.     Collected Fabric Orange Quilt from Homerof2
7.     Confetti with hand quilting from Rangoli45
8.     Life a Colorful Life from Cindy at Aroundtheblockdesigns
9.     Pure Square City from Kelbysews


FNSI with the Stars

Hope you had a great Friday Night Sew-In (FNSI)!  I decided to work on my stars quilt.  (Star Struck or Map to the Stars -- star quilt-a-long by Melissa at Happy Quilting.)

Handmade by Heidi

I started my night by gathering up my assistants.  Katie clearly knew something exciting was about to happen in the sewing room.

Sammy wasn't far behind in snooping.

I spent most of the time making flying geese for the five stars that I am working on with Block 1 instructions (picture from this morning).

I managed to complete two stars!!  This first one with the blue and yellow might go down as a practice block.  Between the color combo not really working and the points not being very good... I guess I was just rusty and needed a block to work out all my kinks on. 

This one however was much better and pretty cute if you ask me!

The stars are made from vintage sheets and the background is a cocoa colored flannel.  I wish you could reach through the screen and feel how amazingly soft this quilt is going to be!

 Here are all three of my blocks so far.

FNSI was just what I needed to get my sewing mojo back... and with this being the view from my sewing room today I think I might just keep sewing. 

This is the next star up for sewing.  I'm on a roll!!

Hope you are off to an amazing start to the weekend and yes of course my assistants are with me again this morning.  They can be so cute when they aren't fighting or barking.

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