Sunday, July 5, 2015

#GIVEAWAY, A Quick Tutorial on EPP Hexagons and Some Fun Links

This month on our Facebook page we are giving away the book, "All Points Patchwork" by Diane Gilleland. This is an excellent book if you would like instruction in how to accurately create different shapes using English Paper Piecing (EPP).  It is not loaded with patterns, so if that is what you are looking for you may be disappointed.  It does gives you clear, concise, well photographed, step by step instructions for a broad variety of shapes.  Available in both digital and paperback, your choice. (please check out her link by clicking on the book title above, there are several fun patterns there and tutorial I think you will really enjoy)

In addition to Diane's book, I thought it would be fun to give away this Fiskars Easy Squeeze Punch!  It truly is very easy to use and you will be popping out the papers for your Hexies effortlessly!  

To enter, visit our Facebook page, LIKE our page, COMMENT on both posts and SHARE on your Facebook page...Nothing ever to purchase!  No tricks and no gimmicks. Drawing for both the book and the punch will be held on July 31st, 2015.

English Paper Piecing is all the rage...again.  We can trace paper piecing back to the 1700's.  The technique allows one to accurately piece complex angles utilizing paper pieces as stabilizer.

In the United States we have quilts using this technique that date back to 1807 and 1813.

Photo:  State Museum of Pennsylvania

Because of it's portability, English Paper Piecing became very popular during the migration west. With paper scarce on the journey, pioneer women would use old letters, newspaper clippings or catalogue pages as their foundation. Often these papers were left in the quilt, acting not only as the pattern but as insulation. 

So everything old is new again! With a resurgence of interest in English Paper Piecing we see both traditional and non traditional methods come into play. So many fun things you can do with English Paper Piecing and you can take it with you anywhere!

Here is my quick little tutorial on making Hexies.  This is the way I do it, Not the "right" way or the "wrong" way, not the way illustrated in the book, just the way I do it.  There are lots of techniques out there, if this works for you, great!  If not, try another.

Here is what you will need to get started.  You probably already have these items laying around your house.

A small pair of sharp scissors.
A sharp hand sewing needle.  
Some thread, it doesn't matter what color.
Paper to create your hexagon paper patterns.
A hole punch.
Some fabric scraps.

First part to tackle is creating your paper pattern you can purchase these by the bag full, ready cut for you and you can just jump right in stitching.  Or you can print out a template the size that you wish and cut your pieces.  Or you can use the gizmo that we are giving away from Fiskars and just pop out a bunch when ever you need them.

What to use for paper: I like a card stock, only because it holds it's shape when you are working with it. You can use left over cereal boxes, file folders, thick catalogue covers, old Christmas and Birthday cards are fabulous!...what ever you have, you don't have to run out and purchase "special" paper to accomplish your goal of trying out this technique. Some use plastic so they can reuse them, just make sure you don't iron them and melt them to your fabric. You can purchase heat resistant plastic templates, I do have some and I do love them.

Notice that I punch a hole in the middle of the will want this for later when you are all finished piecing your bits together and want to remove the simply insert a knitting needle, crochet hook or a simple wooden skewer and pop them right out, ready to use again!

So you have your paper piecing templates cut and you are ready to start sewing some Hexies!  Grab your fabric and cut squares with your rotary cutter.  The size of your square will depend on what size Hexie you are making.  Here is a good rule of thumb: set your paper hexie in the corner of your fabric, now measure a square that is 1/2 inch beyond any of your paper tips.  See below:

This is a 2 inch hexagon from tip to tip so I would use a 2.5" strip of fabric and cut it into a 2.5" square.  The actual measure of the hexie is a 1" hexagon, you measure just the side.  For measuring how much fabric you will need to adequately cover your hexie...just measure 1/2 inch beyond the tips as shown. 

Thread your needle but do not make a knot. Lay your paper hexie on top of your fabric square.  Carefully fold the fabric over on one edge, then fold the fabric over on the next edge to create a neat fold.  Take your needle and thread through that corner, fabric only, I don't sew all the way through the paper, no need.  Use your thumb to hold things in place while you take a little bite with your needle as shown making sure to leave about a 1 inch thread tail.

Circle back through with your needle in the same place, taking another bite, this will lock your thread.  Move onto the next corner, carefully folding your fabric and repeat the process of taking a bite and circling back through.  Continue all the way around your hexie finishing in the same corner where you started, taking a bite again and circling through, leave a one inch thread tail and clip...There you go!  Look at you!


Mind you, they are addictive.  Go slow at first, you will pick up the pace once you get the hang of it.  

Get a couple Ziploc bags, one to put your completed hexies in and one to store your kit.  You can keep this in your purse and whip it out anywhere you want!  Ready to quilt at a moments notice.  

Aren't they pretty, like little jelly beans in a bowl!  Now imagine what you can do if you fussy cut your fabric...

Some of my Hexie collection.

These beauties were created by Lois and blogged about here:

Get ready, you are going to have boxes full of these in no time! And the great thing about them, you don't have to make a quilt, nope, you can use them to embellish pillow cases, towels, put a few together for some hot mats, maybe sprinkle a few down a table runner or on place mats, on a purse or a tote or a little makeup bag, across a little girls skirt, on a T-shirt...oh the possibilities are endless and only limited by your imagination!  

Here are some links for you to check out.  Fun ideas for how to use your hexies.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fabulously Fast Quilting!

Sometimes you need a project that goes quick!  You may have some special event you need to make a quick quilt for or you may be like me and need something fun, fresh and quick to give you a break between those projects that require intense piecing over a lengthy bit of time. Maybe you have some fabric you just love and want to see it worked up.  Oh there are a million reasons to purchase Amy Smart's book Fabulously Fast Quilts!

Amy Smart's book, Fabulously Fast Quilts plus 2 Layer Cakes of Miss Kate by Bonnie & Camille for Moda, a little Kona Cotton White and we are off and running!

I endeavor, like many of you, to work out of my stash of fabrics, but once in a while (pretty frequently actually) I am tempted by the bright bits that are out there...this was one of those times.  I had to snap up these two layer cakes.  No particular project in mind, just fell in love.

Amy's book give you instruction for flat fold fabric, but I wanted to use these.  Her pattern is also designed to be pieced rapidly and so she has duplicated certain colors in certain areas throughout her pattern to make it quick.  I wanted to change it up a bit with random colors and placement.  The blocks are simple enough so I just jumped in.  Cutting the fabric for the first block...worry about the others after.  There is plenty of fabric (with enough left over for another quilt!)

June Taylor makes a 1/4" ruler that is great for rapidly cutting the squares that you need for this or any other quilt.  Take a long strip, folding it in half, place the ruler on top and make your quick can place a little sticky or a mark  where you want to cut, so you don't accidentally cut smaller or larger than you need.

Remove the ruler, toss the selvages and you have 12 perfectly cut squares!

A tip for quick piecing, is to fold your fabric in half, press and use that line for your stitching line.  Stitch just a thread or two to the right of the line for perfect piecing.  Now go back and stitch a generous 1/4 inch away from that original stitching line and you will give yourself instant bonus Half Square Triangles to use in another project!

Squeal Worthy!!!

This is where I deviated from Amy's inspiration...Lay out the snowballs to find a pleasing order...take a picture for reference to figure out what colors need to be in the 9 patches and where they need to be.  Still Fabulous but not as Fast as Amy's version.

 Okay, I promised to show you how to piece a perfect 9 patch!

Tip #1 - make sure you have cut your pieces all the same size and that they are cut perfectly.  Don't be slap dash about this part of the process, you will pay for it every time you try to put two pieces together.  Take your time, make your cuts accurate.  Just like building a house, measure twice, cut once and make sure that cut is accurate. There are tons of videos on YouTube that will help you perfect your skill in this area.  Take a moment, take a breath and learn the proper way to make your cuts. The benefits will be worth your investment of time.  Fabric is expensive.  Quilting is an expensive hobby. Don't waste your time and money...Right! Lecture over...

Lay out your block next to your machine, in the order that you want to see it finished.

Starting on the right side, flip over that row to the center and chain piece those bits, you don't need to pin at this point, unless you feel that it helps you, just keep your edges even as you feed it through your machine, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Chain piecing is when you feed one piece into your machine after another without clipping the threads as shown below.

Press your seams in opposite directions, press the top row to the center, the next row to the outside and the bottom row to the center. In this particular case you would press all your seams to the dark side.  This is another important step and you will see why shortly. To properly press your seam, first set the seam with the two pieces still together by pressing, then open your fabric out and from the right side, finger press your seam to the correct side and then press with your iron again.  This ensures that you have your fabric pieces fully pressed open.  

Now do the same for the other side.  Make sure that you have your pieces in correct position by laying them back out on your table next to your machine, check the position of all your bits. Repeat the process of flipping the squares from the left side over onto the center row, again chain stitch.  (I clip my chain apart, some like to leave it together. It's your own personal preference here, for me it just gets a bit fiddly)

Now you should have three rows stitched together as shown below. Place them on your table next to your machine and again check the position of your fabric bits, making sure everyone is where you want them.

I have flipped my rows over here to show you how the seams should be pressed.  Top row to the inside, Middle row to the outside and Bottom row to the inside.  This is important as you will see in the next step.

Take the top row and flip it to your center row, now we pin!  You will be able to feel the seams "nesting" together because you have pressed them in opposite directions.  It will make a tiny ridge for you to snug them up to each other.  As you do this over and over again, you will become familiar with the "feel" of that seam and you will know when you have it just right.

When you first start doing this, you may be a bit uncertain, you can roll back the top layer and see those seams lined up perfectly as shown below!

That's right!  See how they match up?!  Yes!  That is what you want to see!

We will place a little pin now.  But not in the seam, we will place it in the seam allowance next to the seam.  Placing a pin in the seam will distort your seam and you risk not having them match properly. Place your pin in the seam to hold the piece beneath in place.  You can control what is going  on top of the fabric, it's the part beneath that can fold the wrong direction if you are not careful. A little pin will save you from that and makes everything wonderful!

Do not stitch over your pins!  Hard on your machine, even if they tell you you can.  Stitch right up to it, take it out and continue on.

Again, set your seams with your iron, finger press open, pressing from the center row to the top.  Don't "scrub" your fabric, press.  If you have finger pressed first, you will know that the seam is open all the way and you won't have to wrestle it.

Your Reward...Perfectly matched seams!  Ahhhhhh...Hear the angels singing?

Benefit #2 of taking your time.  Less struggle to square up your final blocks!  They are going to be pretty much right on the money!

I hope this little tutorial on matching up your seams in a 9 patch block will be helpful for you going forward in your craft.  Enjoy yourself, you will master this technique, it just takes a tiny bit of effort at first and you will love the results!  Squeal Worthy!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

#GIVEAWAY - Missouri Star Mod Block Magazine

This month, we will be giving away a copy of Missouri Star's New Mod Block Magazine Special Edition!  We love Missouri Star Quilt Company and if you are new to them, you have to go for a visit!  Yes, they are online and they also have a brick and mortar location at 100 North Ardinger Street in Hamilton, Missouri. They are truly a Mom and Pop operation.  You will want to make them one of your online go to LQS!

You will recognize Jenny Doan in the great video tutorials that she posts. Be sure to take a moment and read about their company, they are an inspiration to any start up business and a true testament to family. You can read about them here: The Missouri Quilt Company

Check out their Quilter Daily Deals, it changes all the time, so if you see something you like, snag it!  The pricing is unbeatable and they have a flat $5.00 shipping fee or FREE Shipping on orders over $100.  Be sure to sign up on their website, they have lots of special deals you won't want to miss.  Daily Deals Here!


1.  LIKE our Facebook page at

2.  COMMENT  on the post that features the giveaway, it will be pinned to the top of the page.

3.  SHARE our Facebook page with your friends or on your Facebook page.

Random drawing will be held on May 31st for one lucky winner of the MISSOURI STAR MOD BLOCK MAGAZINE SPECIAL EDITION!  No purchase necessary. Open to USA residents only.

Good Luck Quilters!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Picnic Basket Time! #Giveaway and Some Red,White and Blue Inspiration! (Winner Announced!)

We missed winter altogether here in California.  It feels a bit disorienting.  The weather is in the 80's, the sky is clear, the wildflowers are abundant.  It's as if the whole forest said we aren't going to get much water, this might be our last year we better pollinate everything we can and quick!

It is however, perfect picnic weather here, the grasses are still green and as I said, it's lovely out.  With that in mind, I am pulling out an old basket my mother picked up for me years ago at Big Lots which is a bargain store out here.  You could go to your local thrift shop or watch the yard sales or maybe you have one sitting around like I do!
French Meadows Reservoir

My plan is a pretty lining, create a top for it and head out next weekend with my husband for a picnic in the mountains perhaps up to French Meadows Reservoir.

There are several fabulous tutorials online for lining a basket, my personal favorite is this one from The Polka Dot Closet

She has cleverly given instructions to create this liner with minimal sewing involved!  Yes that's right!  And her liner can be removable. She has fashioned hers from a plastic table cloth, which makes it pretty easy to wipe clean.  It's hot glued into easy is that?

But wait!  She also has instructions for you to make a removable liner if you wish to use fabric and have it be washable!

She also tells you how to stain your basket if you want to have that Shabby Chic effect.  Very sweet.  I'm still auditioning fabrics, I may find something that just fits the bill.  I'll be sure to share the finish when I'm done.

This month I shared on my Facebook page, several links to quilted items that are red, white and's a great time to be thinking ahead about your projects so they are done in time for the Fourth!

The little table runner under the basket at the top of this post is just a simple split rail fence.  You stitch four 2 inch x width of fabric strips together, measure the width of your strip set and cut your blocks that width. Make as many blocks as you want. Turn them back and forth in a layout that pleases you and stitch them together, a couple strips around the entire thing and you have your table runner!

I found this link from Paula Deen for a lovely lemon scrub I think you will enjoy. Easy to make, would make a great gift for a friend, but heck, just spoil yourself, you deserve it! 

This easy for beginners quilt reminds me of the first quilts I made with my mom when I was in high school.  We had a cabin up at Lake Tahoe and we made 12 quilts that year, one for every bed! This pattern is fat quarter friendly, so gather up your pretty bits and you will have this one done in time for your picnic! Here's the link:

Another beautiful and simple to make table topper!  This one is posted at All People Quilt. Again, make as many blocks as you need for the length of your table!  Link Here:

Don't let this frighten you, it's not a hard one at all, goes together quickly and really easy for a beginner to get great results! Link Here:

Beautiful napkins are a must in a the picnic basket.  This little tutorial walks you through the simple process to make your own co-coordinating spectacular napkins!  Link here:

I'll be adding some more links soon, so check back!


Susan, please contact me via my Facebook page to let me know what your choices are and where you would like them sent, you can message me privately there. 

And, if you haven't gone by to say hello to my little sister Janet on her new Facebook page, here is the link: Janet Harrer Jewelry Designs  Remember to LIKE her page, COMMENT that you were sent by Sister of The Divide, and SHARE her page with your friends.  NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. At the end of April, I will pick one lucky winner who posted a comment on her page and you will WIN 5 yards of fabric, your choice, mix or match from our Etsy shop.  Don't miss out!