Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 2: Poinsettia Blocks

Welcome back to the Fair Isle Sew Along! How did all of you do with your cutting? I saw some fun pictures on Instagram of highly organized fabric piles, so it looks like you all did pretty well! : ) (Check the #fairislequilt hashtag to see!)

So this week, we're making the Poinsettia blocks. This, along with the Reindeer row, is one of the two most time-consuming portions of the quilt. So my recommendation this week is: Chain piece, chain piece, chain piece. : ) I LOVE chain-piecing—when done right, it saves loads of time.

In fact, you may notice that I oversize the cutting for half-square triangles in my patterns and have people trim a bit more off their HSTs than is strictly necessary. I originally started doing that because I appreciated the ability to trim more off when I first started quilting—some of my early HST attempts were, um, a bit wonky. LOL. So the extra trimming room is great for beginners.

But you know what else these oversize squares are great for? Chain piecing! With slightly oversized HST squares, you don't need to pair up your squares so precisely for sewing. After all, you're going to trim them down later anyway—so you might as well add a little additional fabric, so that you don't have to take the time to line everything up so carefully. Check out the picture above—you can see that I don't bother lining up my squares at all, really. As a result, I can run 20 pairs of squares (two sewing lines apiece) through my machine in well under 5 minutes. Success with a quilt like this is often about being efficient, and this is one way to speed things up significantly.

My other tip this week involves cross-cutting the strip sets. You have to cut up a lot of strip sets in this pattern, so it's worth taking a minute or two right now to figure out the best way to do it.

The key here is to always cross-cut perpendicular to the seam. See how the 2-1/2" ruler mark is aligned with the seam in the picture above? That's what you should worry about. Don't pay as much attention to the raw edges of the strip set—pay attention to the seam, and cross-cut based on that. If the raw edges are really off after cross-cutting perpendicular to the seam, you can always attempt to even them up later, but as long as the seam is perpendicular to the cross-cut edges, you'll be in good shape. And as you go along the strip set, keep adjusting for alignment with the seam. So if the seam curves a little, just keep adjusting your ruler accordingly.

I hope these tips help you out as you make your Poinsettia blocks! All told, it took me about 9 hours to make all 10 of my Poinsettia blocks. But I'm pretty familiar with this block by now, so budget at least 9-10 hours for piecing this week, depending on how fast you generally sew. Next week, we'll be making the Fir Tree blocks, which come together much more quickly than the Poinsettia blocks, so if you fall behind a little this week, no worries. You'll probably be able to catch back up soon.

Just a reminder, if you're on Instagram, hashtag #fairislequilt so we can all share each other's progress! (This goes for whether you're making it "on time" or much later.) And if you do a blog post about the Sew Along, you can also link up your blog post below.

Can't wait to see everyone's Poinsettia blocks! Now get chain-piecing. : )



Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along
Oct. 23: Cutting
Oct. 30: Make the Poinsettia Blocks
Nov. 6: Make the Fir Tree Blocks
Nov. 13: Make the Reindeer Blocks
Nov. 20: Make the Red Zig-Zag Rows
Nov. 27: Make the Pink Checkerboard Row (this is Thanksgiving in the U.S., so I tried to pick the easiest section for this week)
Dec. 4: Assemble the quilt top and make the back
Dec. 11: Baste, quilt, and bind

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Lame. Sorry.

Well, the good news is, I did actually sew this week. The bad news is, most of it is not for public consumption just yet. So I'm sorry that I don't have a lot to show you guys today!

But here's a purty fabric pull to tide you over:


And look—all my cutting for the Fair Isle Sew Along is done! Woot. You can still join in! Click here for the first post in the series.


And I don't have a sponsor today either, because everybody was at Market. This is officially the lamest WIP Wednesday ever. LOL. Sorry!

But I know I can count on you to jazz up this joint! What are YOU working on this week? Here's how to link up:1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag #wipwednesday and mention me, @freshlypieced
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fair Isle Sew Along Part 1

Okay, I'm over my my crabbiness from yesterday and I am so ready for our Fair Isle Sew-Along! I'm thrilled that you all are going to make a Fair Isle quilt with me.



This is Part 1 of the Fair Isle Sew-Along, which is (drumroll please) ... cutting. As a reminder, you do need to purchase the Fair Isle pattern in order to participate in this sew-along, so if you're still on the fence, get your rear off of there and come join us! You can buy the pattern here.

Now, if you've already taken a look at the pattern, you may have noticed that the cutting list is kind of a bear (understatement warning). Sorry about that. But with a quilt like this, with all these different block designs and even different block sizes, there's really no alternative. Cutting the background fabric can be especially daunting. And cutting efficiently is crucial in order to avoid buying extra yardage!

So today I'm going to take you through the order in which I cut my background fabric. I highly recommend following the order below, and checking off the pieces on the cutting list in your pattern as you go, so that you don't miss any. If you just stay methodical and organized, you'll be fine. Once we get through all this cutting, it's just the fun stuff from here on out. Oh, and if you haven't changed your rotary cutter blade recently, you might want to now. Just sayin'. : )

(Please note that I'm doing a different color scheme for my quilt than what is stated in the pattern, so my background fabric is red instead of white. Don't let my photos confuse you! Background fabric in these photos = red!)

Okay, are we ready? Here we go:

1. Divide the background fabric yardage into 2 pieces: 73" long (we'll call that Chunk A), and the rest (we'll call that Chunk B).

2. Cut the sashing pieces first, cutting lengthwise from 73"-long Chunk A. Once you've cut your 73" sashing strips, fold them double and lay them along the 36" width of a cutting mat, with the fold lined up with the 0" mark on the mat. With the strips still folded double, trim the unfolded end 1/4" past the 36" mark on your mat, in order to make the sashing pieces exactly 72-1/2"—see photo above. (I find it easier to trim down the sashing strips, rather than trying to cut a much larger piece of fabric to a perfect 72-1/2" length and then cutting the sashing from that.)

3. Next, from Chunk B, I cut all of the 42" wide strips, cutting the width of the fabric. These are the 1-1/2" x 42" pieces for the Poinsettia blocks, plus all the strips listed under the Zig Zag and Checkerboard rows.

4. Now go back to the piece that was leftover from Chunk A after cutting your sashing. You should have a piece left over that's about 27-1/2" x 73". From that piece, cut 37 strips 1-1/2" x 27-1/2". From those 37 strips, cut the remaining 1-1/2" pieces for the Reindeer and Poinsettia blocks, leaving the 1-1/2" x 2-1/2" Poinsettia block pieces for last, since you can get most of those pieces from the scraps after cutting the larger pieces. (You might not be able to get all of your 1-1/2" x 2-1/2" pieces from these scraps, but you can get the rest from other scraps later.)

5. After cutting your 37 1-1/2"-wide strips, what's left of Chunk A should measure about 17-1/2" x 27-1/2". From this chunk, I cut all of the remaining pieces for the Reindeer blocks, plus the remaining pieces for the Zig Zag rows.


6. Then go back to what remains of Chunk B and cut everything else from that. Start with the 24" and 36" long pieces from the Fir Tree blocks, then work your way through the rest of the cutting. (You may need to cut a few remaining 1-1/2" x 2-1/2" pieces from these scraps.)

7. Finally, cut your green, red, and pink pieces (a comparatively easier task), and you're done! As you cut, I recommend grouping pieces by the type of block (i.e., all Poinsettia pieces together, all Fir Tree pieces together). If you're as anal as I am, you might even want to put the pieces for each block type into labeled ziplock bags. That way you'll be oh-so-organized and ready to move on to Step 2 next week.

My cutting probably took me a little over three hours total, although I had many interruptions, so I could be off on that. Budget 3-4 hours of time for your cutting this week, and you should be on track for next week, when we will be making the Poinsettia blocks. (But if you don't stay on track, no worries! These posts will stay up indefinitely, so come back whenever you do have time.)

Hey, don't forget to hashtag #fairislequilt as you work, so that we can all share each other's progress! ETA: I've also got a link-up below for those who would like to share blog posts. And I'll meet you back here next Thursday for Part 2!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along
Oct. 23: Cutting
Oct. 30: Make the Poinsettia Blocks
Nov. 6: Make the Fir Tree Blocks
Nov. 13: Make the Reindeer Blocks
Nov. 20: Make the Red Zig-Zag Rows
Nov. 27: Make the Pink Checkerboard Row (this is Thanksgiving in the U.S., so I tried to pick the easiest section for this week)
Dec. 4: Assemble the quilt top and make the back
Dec. 11: Baste, quilt, and bind


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Grumpy

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Okay, feeling a little crabby over here this morning. It's been one of those weeks when there have been too many distractions and not enough sewing. I'm behind on my SewOff skirt, behind on another quilt commitment, and I'm not going to Quilt Market. Hmmmph.

Well, I'll probably get over it. Eventually. Honestly, I'm kind of glad/not glad that I'm not going to Market. Because I do love Market, but there's so much hassle that goes along with getting there. I'll just need to remind myself of that frequently when the Instagram pictures start pouring in. LOL.

Anyway. What am I working on this week? Or maybe the more apt question is what should I be working on this week, but for one reason or another am not? Sigh.

Let's start with this: The Fair Isle Sew-Along kicks off tomorrow! Yay! And it seems like a whole lot of you are joining in! Super excited to get started and can't wait to see how my new version turns out with the red background. (It's not too late to join us! Click here to pick up the pattern and you can be cutting with the rest of us tomorrow!)

Sew-Off skirt? Well, I started it. I'm loving how it looks so far, but just wish I would have gotten farther on it. (And taken a picture of it while it was still daylight out—sorry for the crummy lighting!)

Quilts? I'm working on one right now. Let's just leave it at that. : )

This WIP Wednesday has been brought to you by the one-and-only Fat Quarter Shop. Who doesn't love the Fat Quarter Shop? It was one of the first places I bought quilt fabric and it's still one of my favorite online shopping stops, 7-plus years later. They've got everything, my friends. Everything. So go show them some WIP Wednesday love.


Giveaway: The Fat Quarter Shop wants to send you this fat-quarter bundle from Frances Newcombe's new Utopia line from Art Gallery Fabrics! And it's a good thing they're not sending it to me first, because I might drool on it before I put it in the mail to the winner. Just comment on this post for one chance to win, and/or link up your WIPs below for a second chance. Good luck!

I can't wait to see what YOU'RE working on this week! Here's how to link up:
1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag #wipwednesday and mention me, @freshlypieced
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!


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Disclosures

In addition to my paid sponsors, I sometimes accept free fabric, notions, or tools in exchange for posting about it on this blog or my other social media platforms. But I pledge that this practice will never change one of my product reviews or lead me to use fabric or other items that are not "my style."

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Copyright and Permissions FAQ

Can I make a quilt that looks just like one of yours? Of course! You don't need my permission for that. But remember, it's polite (and helpful to others) to credit your source of inspiration.

Can I share one of your photos on my blog or website? Probably! But please contact me for permission first. Use of my photos for commercial purposes is prohibited.

Can I pin your photos to Pinterest? Yes, please do! I love Pinterest!

Can I sell individual items made from your tutorials or patterns? Yes! But please don't open a factory and start churning out hundreds of them. : ) And please do not reproduce or sell the patterns or tutorials themselves. Thank you!