Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 5: Zig Zag Rows

Welcome to Week 5 of the Fair Isle Sew-Along!

So how did everybody do with last week's reindeer blocks? I saw some really cute reindeer out there on the Interwebs! But I know some people also had some frustration with getting seams aligned. If your seams look puckery or wobbly, or your reindeer generally look like they had too much eggnog at the Christmas party, I'll return to what I said in last week's post, which is that your 1/4" seam is probably not as consistent as it could be. You get that seam consistent, and I promise your reindeer will be perfect and completely sober. : ) 

It's not easy though, so above all, please don't get discouraged. A few suggestions that might help are putting masking tape down on your machine bed to help with alignment, or you could do what I saw from sew-along participants a few times this week and eliminate some seams entirely, and just make your reindeer out of unpieced horizontal strips. That will require a little math, but if you're proficient in such things, go for it! I went back and forth about whether to actually write the pattern that way, but in the end I decided it would make the pattern-writing too complicated and the pattern would have to be even longer than it already is. It also would have made the cutting a lot more complex, and I'm sure you all agree that cutting this bad boy was plenty complex enough as it was. LOL. But for those of you who are able to do the calculations, it's a great time saver.

And the bottom line is, the real key to happy reindeer probably just comes down to practice—practice, practice, and more practice. I'd bet good money that your seams were better on the last reindeer than they were on the first, right? So just keep at it, and don't worry if your deer are a little wonky—quilting covers many evils! : )

Okay, so on to this week's task: The Zig Zag rows. Honestly, I don't have much to say about these, other than that they're really easy and fun, especially right after the reindeer! LOL. It's just strip-piecing, cross-cutting, and piecing again. 

And when you're done, you end up with this (these are from my first Fair Isle quilt):
So have fun with the Zig Zags, and I'll see you back here for the next installment! 

I'm going to publish the next installment on Friday, Nov. 28, since the 27th is Thanksgiving. Until then, can't wait to see how you're doing—don't forget to either link up below, or use the hashtag #fairislequilt. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with joy, love, and pie! 

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along
Oct. 23: Cutting
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 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Obsessions

You might notice a theme in this week's WIP Wednesday. That theme is red, white, and knitted. Or at least knitty looking. : )

Yes, my Fair Isle obsession continues, this week in the form of knitted Christmas stockings. Suddenly, I MUST have knitted Nordic Christmas stockings. There's just one catch: Here in Milwaukee, everybody celebrates St. Nick's Day by putting out their Christmas stockings on Dec. 6. Think I can finish at least two stockings by then? (Because, one for each girl. There must be either two, or none. One is not an option.)

And of course my other project is my red and white Fair Isle quilt. Zig-zag rows are up next on the Fair Isle Sew-Along! It doesn't look like much right now, but come back tomorrow for this week's installment in the sew-along, and I promise there will be more to see!

And just so this week's post is not excessively one-note, here's a reminder that today is the last day to save 40% on my new Picnic Plaid pattern. Grab the PDF version now and save!

This week's WIP Wednesday has been brought to you by Shabby Fabrics. Shabby Fabrics has an uh-mazing clearance section right now—more than 150 items (including quilt kits!) are now 50% off! There are also 1,200 fabrics in their sale section right now—and the more you buy in that section, the more you save! Score!

Giveaway: Shabby Fabrics is generously offering a fat-quarter bundle of the "Striking Sunset" color way of the Spectrum line by Camelot Fabrics! This line was new to me, but I love it already, the colors are gorgeous! Link up below for one chance to win the bundle, and/or comment on this post for a second chance to win.

Exclusive coupon code: Shabby Fabrics is also offering 10% off to all Freshly Pieced readers! How awesome are they to do a coupon code AND a giveaway? Just enter FreshlyPieced10 now through Nov. 26. (One use per customer.) Say thank you for WIP Wednesday by showing them the love. : )

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
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 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!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Shop Owners: Printed Patterns Now Available from Moda

Shop owners: Did you know that I now have 10 patterns in print? And they're now available wholesale from Moda/United Notions as well as Checker and Brewer! Hooray! I would love to be carried in your shop, so please check out my patterns today!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 4: Reindeer

Welcome back to the Fair Isle Sew Along! It's Reindeer Week! Kind of like Shark Week, but more festive. : ) (I promise these reindeer won't eat you alive!)

First of all, I have one more error in the pattern to notify you about. (I'm starting to think these reindeer actually might eat me alive). In unit H, the 1.5" x 6" strip fourth from the left should be red, not white. So the Unit H diagram should look like this:

I recommend coloring in the correct spot with red on your copy of the pattern—or, as always, you can download a new version of the PDF pattern, which has already been corrected. If any of you have run out of downloads, please contact me and I'll be happy to give you more downloads.

Additionally, the block assembly diagrams for EE and FF show the reindeer with just one square for tails, instead of 2 squares. (Blocks BB and CC are illustrated correctly, so the tails in EE and FF should be mirror images of BB and CC.) Your strip sets as sewn should be correct, with two-square tails, so that's an inconsistency in the assembly diagram—please ignore it (or color it in, like you did with Unit H), and go with how the strip sets look, not how the assembly diagram looks.

I am so, so sorry and so embarrassed about the problems that have cropped up in this pattern—I truly apologize to any of you who tackled the reindeer early and had to stitch-rip because of it. This is by far the most complex pattern I've ever written, and I was rushing a bit faster than my usual pace on it, in order to get it out in plenty of time for Christmas. I've definitely learned my lesson about that, and I promise this will not happen with future patterns.

Okay, with that out of the way (whew), let's sew some reindeer.

When I designed this quilt, I wanted the reindeer blocks to be very pixelated, because I felt that was the most Fair-Isle-ish look. But pixelated quilts are a huge pain—it takes forever to sew all those tiny little squares together. And I find it especially frustrating when you're sewing dozens of tiny squares together that are the exact same fabric! So I've incorporated some short cuts into this pattern that could potentially save you days of your life, but we'll still end up with something that looks like a pixelated quilt. Or as close as we can get to fully pixelated without pulling hair out. : )

My number one tip this week is consistent seam allowance. Say it with me: Consistent seam allowance. An accurate 1/4" seam is soooo important when you're making something with so many seams. If your seam allowance is even the tiniest bit off, that adds up across 12 seams.

But even more important (for this pattern, anyway) than a pinpoint-accurate 1/4" seam is just that your seam allowances are consistent. If your seam allowances are a hair-width off, but they're all the same hair-width off, you'll be fine. It isn't crucially important for your Reindeer row to be exactly the same width as your Fir Tree row or your Poinsettia Rows—I've got some extra space built in along the sides of the quilt to trim and even things up a little if necessary. So don't freak out if your finished Reindeer blocks aren't measuring exactly what they're supposed to. It'll all be good in the end, I promise. : )

On the other hand, if your seam allowances are all over the map, that's when you're going to have problems with this block, because that means your squares within the reindeer won't line up. If you have issues lining up your seams when you're sewing together the reindeer, an inconsistent seam allowance is probably to blame. Don't whip through this as you're sewing the strips together—slow and straight wins the race here. And if you need to, get out your ruler and measure your seam allowance in a few places. Again, consistency is the key, so if you find your seam allowance veering off here and there, try to pinpoint why in order to correct that.

I spent about 2-1/2 hours sewing together all the strip sets, and another 4 hours or so sewing together the cross-cut strips to complete the block. So all in all, this week's time commitment for me was around 6-7 hours. Plan accordingly, based on how your time spent has compared to mine in the previous steps. (I know we all sew at different paces—my timing is just meant to help you judge yours!)

Can't WAIT to see all your finished reindeer! It truly is satisfying to finish these guys. And once they're done, all we have are a few simple rows left. Don't forget to link up below, and/or hashtag #fairislequilt on Instagram. See you next week!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along
Oct. 23: Cutting
Nov. 14: 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 

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