EPP Preparation and Organization

Today we’re talking EPP organization! I don’t know about you, but preparing for a project is my favorite part. Selecting fabric, cutting, sorting, organizing. It is MY JAM. I always slow down a bit when it comes to the execution :P!

Whether you are participating in the Butterfly Effect Sew Along (kicking off May 3!) or simply working on your own, today I’m talking about how I organized and prepared to begin my project. Tips in this post will apply to both supplies ordered from Pink Door fabrics (preorders now shipping!) and for those printing and cutting their own papers.

This will be the only post I share here before the Sew Along kicks off on May 3. All other posts and tutorials will be shared through the Sew Along newsletter, so you’ll have to sign up if you’d like to follow along! You can do so here.

If you’re printing and cutting your own papers, you can skip down to the next section. If you ordered a laser cut paper piece set from Pink Door Fabrics you will receive 16 sheets as shown above. There are four each of four different sheets. This includes all the pieces needed to create the full Butterfly Effect Pattern plus some extras of each piece.

The pieces are perforated and pop out easily, though take care with extra pointy corners as to not tear them. The pieces are laser cut and etched, so there may be some light residue on the sheets. It is not harmful and can be lightly brushed off with a paper towel, if desired.

One of each different sheet has the paper piece letters etched into every piece as a guide for helping to familiarize you with the shapes and assist with direction and placement. The letters and placement on the paper pieces match all the diagrams in the pattern file. Each subsequent sheet has only one of each piece labeled to assist with sorting which we will discuss next.

As you sew, I recommend keeping at least one paper piece with a letter unused to use a reference for orientation as you go. You can also always reference the template pages in the pattern PDF if you get confused on the orientation of a shape. Some shapes are very similar to others, such as H and I, P, S & K. Also pieces A and R look symmetrical but are ever so slightly unsymmetrical, so you need to be sure you are using them in the proper orientation for all your pieces to fit together.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

ORGANIZING YOUR PIECES

The first step is to separate and organize your paper pieces and my favorite way to do this is with plastic bags and alphabet stickers! Who doesn’t love an excuse to play with stickers, right?!

I like to create two sets of labeled bags – one for holding all my paper pieces and a second for holding my templates, fabric cuts and basted pieces.

I used 3″x4″ bags and small stickers for holding my paper pieces. This pattern has 19 shapes labeled A thru S, so I first affixed the stickers to the bags and then punched out my paper pieces and bagged them accordingly.

For the second set of bags to hold my templates, fabrics and basted pieces, I used larger 4″x6″ bags because they will need to hold more, and big, fun stickers that are easy to see.

I purchased my bags and stickers at Hobby Lobby, though you can find them in many stores such as Walmart with a craft section, Joanns, Michaels or your local craft store. Small bags can be found in the jewelry supply section.

I’m working on a few different versions of this pattern at once, so I created multiple sets of bags and used different stickers for each version to help keep them sorted. My free Mini Maker Case pattern is perfect for storing all your baggies and parts, too! You could also punch a hole in each bag and put them on a binder ring or in a cute pouch. I have some oil slick vinyl that is calling my name and I may need to make some!

I hope you find this post fun and helpful! You can sign up for the Butterfly Effect Sew Along here and be sure to follow me on Instagram for a chance to win some awesome SAL prizes!

Butterfly Effect launch day!

Today is the day! Butterfly Effect is out in the world and I’m SO DARN EXCITED! This pattern has been a really long time in the making. I started and stopped and started and stopped and almost gave up on it a few times. I sketched dozens of options and fought with geometry for too many hours to count, but… TOTALLY WORTH IT!

Download the Butterfly Effect Pattern here

The pattern finishes at 24” square as written (shown above), making it a perfect mini quilt or pillow, but you can continue to grow your piece to any size or use small sections of the pattern for other applications.

The pattern includes printable templates and pattern papers so you have everything you need to jump right in or you can order laser cut paper packs and acrylic templates at PinkDoorFabrics.com.

The pattern also includes a coupon for $5 off at Pink Door Fabrics when you purchase  a set of papers and complete acrylic templates (see the last page of the pattern file)!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

SUPPLIES AND FABRIC KITS

Pink Door Fabrics now has Butterfly Effect supplies available for preorder! They have two fabric kits that match the pattern sample using Tula Pink True Colors with either a light or dark background. You can find them here.

They also have laser cut paper packs and two sets of acrylic templates. The first set (shown above) includes a complete set of templates and the second set (shown below) includes templates for the butterfly and moth wings.

YOU CAN PREORDER PAPERS AND TEMPLATES HERE

Don’t forget to also check out their notions section for all your EPP tools!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I believe that any level sewist can create this pattern, even EPP beginners! Complete instructions on EPP are not included, but many tutorials can be found online. You can also check out my  Beginners Guide to EPP. Even if you are experience with EPP, you may find some helpful information in this post, plus links to all my favorite tools!

I will be hosting a Butterfly Effect Sew Along in late Spring (likely May) where will we work step-by-step together, so if you’re a newbie but want to give this a trym I hope you’ll sew along! More information about this will be posted here and on my  instagram page in the next week or so. Stay tuned!

I hope you love creating this pattern as much as I have. Remember to share your projects and find inspiration with the hashtag #ButterflyEffectPattern on social media!

A Beginners Guide to EPP


My new Butterfly Effect Pattern comes out TOMORROW (March 3) and I wanted to share ALL THINGS EPP with you today to help you prepare! Whether you are new to English Paper Piecing (EPP) or have dabbled in it before, I hope you find some useful tips and techniques here today. Below I’m sharing all the basics about EPP, as well as my essential (and favorite) tools and a variety of tutorials on basting, stitching and more.



English Paper Piecing (EPP) is a hand sewing technique that uses heavy paper templates to create shapes and stabilize them for stitching. EPP allows you to create intricate designs that would be difficult or impossible to achieve through machine sewn seams. I, personally, find great satisfaction in creating a beautiful quilt with just my hands. Though the process can be slow and meticulous at times, it’s one that people often describe as therapeutic and rewarding. One of my favorite things about EPP is the portability. I like to be busy (you know what they say about idle hands…) and I can take EPP anywhere – on car rides, while waiting for appointments, to the park, on road trips – with minimal equipment. You can toss a few things in a little pouch and always have a project on hand.

Next I will be diving into tools and techniques for EPP. I will be sharing some detailed information and tutorial links, but this is still a surface level intro to help get you started. I will be doing a deep dive into all of this and more with my own photos and video tutorials during the Butterfly Effect Sew Along which will be scheduled later this Spring (probably early May), so stay tuned for that!

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 

GETTING STARTED

There are a few tools that are essential for EPP and several others that are simply beneficial and make the process easier, more efficient and more accurate. These tools include papers, templates, needles, thread, a thimble, a glue pen, small scissors, a small rotary cutter, Friction pen, SewTites, washi tape, Clover Clips, and more. You can see many of these items above and I will discuss them all in more detail.

The first thing you need for every EPP project is paper templates. Some patterns have the option of printing the papers yourself on your home printer (or at a copy shop) using card stock and many patterns have pre cut paper packs available. My Butterfly Effect Pattern includes printable paper files if you’d like to print and cut them yourself or you can order precut paper packs from Pink Door Fabrics (shown below). They will be available for preorder March 3.

You baste your fabric to these paper pieces and then stitch them together leaving the papers in place until your project is complete (more on basting later in the post!).

The next tool in the EPP process is templates. These help you cut your fabric pieces to the right size and shape before basting them to your paper pieces. Templates are not essential to the EPP process, but they are extremely handy and helpful. With EPP patterns, you will use either a 1/4″ or 3/8″ seam allowance on your fabric pieces. This is often determined by the size and shape of your pattern pieces. You can use your paper pieces as a guide/template, cutting your fabric 1/4″ – 3/8″ larger all around or you can use templates. EPP templates are  clear acrylic shapes that are the same size and shape as the paper pieces that you baste to, but include a seam allowance and allow you to easily fussy cut fabrics for your pattern, which is one of the great joys of EPP! Some EPP patterns will also include printable template files that you can print and cut from card stock just like the papers. You can use them whole or cut out the centers for easy fussy cutting.

My Butterfly Effect pattern includes printable templates and you can also order acrylic templates from Pink Door Fabrics. There are two options available. One includes a full set of templates for every piece of the pattern and the second is a mini set which includes acrylic templates for the butterfly and moth wings. You would then print and cut the other templates yourself.

Above you can see a set of acrylic templates from Pink Door fabrics. They ship with paper on the back that you peel off.  I *always* fussy cut so I love acrylic templates. They are also beneficial because you can easily use them to cut your fabrics with a small 28mm rotary cutter. If you did this with paper templates, you could cut into your templates, so you would need to trace your shapes and then cut them with scissors. If you choose to trace shapes on your fabric, I love using a Frixion pen that erases with heat.

If you use acrylic templates, you may find No Slip Grip Dots helpful, especially if you’re using a small rotary cutter. You affix these to the back of the acrylic templates to help keep them from slipping around on your fabric when tracing or cutting.

You can also consider an EPP starter kit like this one!

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 

BASTING

Basting is the process of attaching your fabric to the paper pieces in preparation for stitching them together. You can baste with thread or glue and this is a personal preference. I prefer glue basting. I find it to be quicker and to hold my fabric to the paper tighter which allows me to more accurately and easily stitch my pieces together. I like to use a Sewline Glue Pen because it’s small and accurate (don’t forget the refills!), but you can also use a glue stick.

Here are three great articles talking about basting that show various techniques. Check them out and experiment yourself to see what works best for YOU!

• The Bating Debate by Tales of Cloth

• 5 Ways To Baste English Paper Piecing – The Little Mushroom Cap

English Paper Piecing Basting – A Little Patchwork

There are also oodles of videos on YouTube at your disposal if you search EPP basting.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 

Stitching supplies & techniques

My preferred basic stitching supplies – needle and thread – are Tulip needles and Invisafil thread. I have used Aurifil thread, but for me it sometimes breaks because I’m a little rough when I pull it. The synthetic thread holds strong and is practically invisible. I love it! I also use a thimble and my favorite is the Clover natural fit leather thimble. I can’t sew without it!

When it comes to stitching your pieces together, there are a variety of methods. None are right,  wrong or better than another, it all comes down to personal preference. I recommend, once again, experimenting and finding what works best for you. Keep in mind, this may change with practice and over time or even with the specific project you are working on, so always be open to trying new things.

My preferred method of stitching is the flat back stitch. This is when you keep your pieces flat, butted up next to each other, and stitch across the seam. This is opposed to other methods where you place your pieces face to face and whip stitch or ladder stitch along an edge.

I like using a flat back stitch because I find it the easiest way to keep everything perfectly lined up and because your stitches are invisible! Above you can see that all my seams are neat, even and have no stitches showing. Below is a shot of the back where you can see my stitches. One thing to note is that invisible stitches is a preference. Sometimes different methods are used to intentionally see stitches.

I learned the flat back stitch from Karen the DIY Addict. She has a short video that I first watched here and she also just released a fantastic master class on the flat back stitch which you can find below. This video also includes ample information about basting.

I will share more videos and details during the sew along, but when I flat back stitch, I use a generous amount of washi tape/painters tape and Clover Clips, but also totally rely on SewTites, specifically when my project gets bigger. They are a game changer!! (You can use code lillyella for 15% off on their site, too!). When I start joining multiple pieces together and have a lot of seams and folded fabric, I use tape, pins and SewTites to move things out of the way as needed.

If you’d like to try a traditional whip stitch method of joining your pieces, here is another great tutorial from Jodi Tales of Cloth.

Another method is the invisible feather stitch demonstrated by Pat Bravo of Art Gallery Fabrics in the video below.

Finally, here is an article by Amira The Little Mushroom Cap talking about five different stitching methods. Once again, you can find endless articles and tutorials with an internet search.

Play around with some basic hexagons or triangles and see what feels right for you!

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 

additional tools

There are a few more tools that I use on the reg that really help me with my EPP (and all my sewing projects!). I will talk about them more in depth during the upcoming Sew Along, but here is a quick list with links:

Mini Oliso Iron and wool pressing matsmall and easy to setup next to you on a side table or to take on the road!.

Lap Deskdid you have one of these as a kid for car rides? I use mine ALL THE  TIME! For sketching, cutting, hand sewing on the couch!

Stella two task lampI’m typically stitching in the evenings on the couch and let’s face it, my eyes aren’t what they used to be.

Daylight Wafer Lightboxespecially helpful for fussy cutting without acrylic templates.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 

Last, but not least, I recommend making yourself a Mini Maker Station! This is one of my free patterns and it’s perfect for EPP! You can download the pattern here.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 

I also REALLY love the Sewing Date Traveler pattern  for storing and toting around all my project supplies. You can download the free pattern here. I made this one a few years back and it’s constantly in use!

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 

I hope you have found this post helpful and try your hand at some EPP!

I want to add, if you don’t love it at first try or get frustrated with perfection or techniques, don’t give up! Like everything, it can require some practice and finessing.

Stay tuned for my pattern release TOMORROW and I hope you’ll join in the upcoming Sew Along! I will post details here on the blog and you can also stay up to date with everything on my Instagram page and by joining my email newsletter here.

Happy stitching!
~ Nicole

Midnight Bite SAL – Piecing Sections

Today we’re going to dive into piecing our sections! I know many of you are experienced paper piecers so some of this won’t apply to you, but I still encourage you to read through and watch my videos as you may find some new techniques to try and some helpful tips!

If you are completely new to Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP), let’s start with the basics! I will not be sharing my own complete step-by-step tutorial here today, but will guide you to a variety of options for learning how to FPP.

First, you can check out my Take Wing Mini pattern. It is designed for beginners with step-by-step photos and directions on how to FPP from beginning to end. Alternatively, there are several tutorials online you can refer to. I often direct people to this video by Connecting threads. The method is not exact to how I piece, but it is close. You can also refer to my previous post about how I prepare my pattern and then apply the basic piecing steps from the video tutorial.

Another tutorial you can check it out is this one by Cassandra Madge. It is a two-part post on how to FPP using my Butterfly Charm Block pattern. I once again recommend watching my videos or pattern prep and fabric cutting regardless of what method you follow.

You can also do a search for FPP tutorials and find many more out there. You can check out a few and see what suits your working style.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Piecing tips, tricks and more

Now let’s get into some specific tips and techniques that I always use when paper piecing. I love to chain piece for efficiency whenever possible, and while many people do this with traditional quilt block piecing, they don’t often with FPP simply because of the nature of the beast. If you follow my previously outlined steps for pattern prep and fabric cutting, chain piecing your FPP project is a breeze! Below is a short video showing my setup and explaining how I chain piece FPP. I will do a more in-depth tutorial on this in the future, also. 

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

My next video highlights the benefits of the pattern prep and fabric precutting steps I covered in the first sew along post, showing how I use the traced pattern lines as a reference and how I place my fabric pieces for foolproof placement and piecing.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

In my next post, I will talk about joining sections and the methods I use to ensure accurate alignment of pattern elements for a flawless finished piece! It’s nothing fancy or complicated, it just takes a little time and patience, but is well worth the effort.

I have one more important topic to cover before we wrap up today, and that is trimming sections after piecing before joining them together. Below is a quick video explaining when and how I trim.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

I hope you have found these tips helpful! They’re all just a small peek at my process which I cover in great detail during in-person workshops and classes,  that hopefully we can get back to one day soon! I do also have plans to offer more online class options in the near future, so stay tuned for that.

Please continue to share your progress photos on social media with the hashtag #MidnightBiteSAL and watch for my final post on October 26!

Midnight Bite SAL – Pattern prep and cutting

It’s time to kick off the Midnight Bite Sew Along! I’m so excited to jump into this one with over 400 of you and see all the amazing bats & spiders you create! If you’re just joining in, you can find the all sew along details, sign-up, schedule and Sal Facebook Group here.

Today I’m going to walk you through the process of how I plan a project, prepare my pattern pieces and precut my fabric, as well as what the benefits are to these steps.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

All of my patterns include a coloring page which is helpful for planning your project. I often start by using colored pencils to get some rough ideas of the direction I’d like to go, then I pull fabric and create a mini mockup by gluing little fabric snippets onto the page. Below is a video talking a little more about this.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

When it comes to foundation paper piecing, PAPER MATTERS! Ok, not *technically*, but it does to me. Not only for ease of sewing, but for ease of clean up. I always print my pattern pages on a lightweight newsprint paper. You can find paper marketed as foundation paper piecing paper and it is essentially just basic newsprint, so I purchase mine in bulk from DickBlick.com. You can get 500 sheets for about $5. I run it through my laser printer with no trouble and have also used an inkjet without any problem.

The next thing I do everytime I paper piece is to trace the pattern lines onto the back of the printed pattern pages. I do this using a lightbox, but you can use an iPad, a lightbar under your extension table or just a window! Below is a video showing this process and touching on the benefits.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Next, I use the traced side of my pattern to precut all of my fabric for the entire project. This is beneficial in many ways. First, it allows you to fussy cut and use directional fabric with precision, which is something I do with just about every FPP I make. Second, it eliminates waste and takes out all room for error in cutting pieces the wrong size or shape. I talk more about this in the video below. Last, it prepares us for easy and efficient piecing and allows for chain piecing. You can simply place all your precut fabric for each section in piles with the pattern piece and move down a like sewing one step from each pattern section in a chain and then repeating.  

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

This process is something I teach in much greater detail when I do live workshops and class events, but I wanted to try and touch on all the basics here to share these helpful tips and techniques and see how they work for you. I’d love to hear what you think! Also, if you have any questions you can comment on this post, visit the Sew Along Facebook group, comment on my Instagram post,  or shoot me an email through my contact page.

However you plan and prepare to start piecing your project, be sure to share some photos on social media with the hashtag #MidnightBiteSAL! Also watch my Instagram feed for our next prize! 

You can work at your own pace until my next post where I’ll be sharing some FPP piecing tutorials and some of my own tips and tricks. I had this scheduled for October 12, but have had to adjust some of my road trip plans, so may need to shift this by a couple days. I’ll keep you all posted!

Midnight Bite Sew Along Sign-Up & Schedule

It’s time for the Midnight Bite Sew Along 2020! The sew along (SAL) will begin on October 9 and run through Halloween. Please read through this entire post carefully as everything you need to know is included – how to participate, what to expect, where to direct questions and more.

You can find the Midnight Bite bat pattern and Wicked Weaver spider pattern in my Etsy shop here. Both patterns include three blocks sizes from 8” to 24” so there are endless possibilities with what you can create using them! Throughout this post you will see a few variations of the blocks, as well as some finished projects made with them including the Midnight Bite Treat Bag and an improv wonky log cabin pillow.

Whether you’re a sew along fanatic or have never participated in one before, I hope you’ll join in! A sew along is essentially just what the name implies, a group of people sewing through a specific pattern “together” virtually over a set time period. Sometimes a SAL is very structured with a set schedule and specific prompts for sharing your work on social media etc, and sometimes a SAL is very loose with nothing shared along the way but what others choose to share as they work their own project. Sew alongs are typically most active on social media, such as Instagram and Facebook, where people share photos of their progress using specified hashtags so everyone participating can view each other’s work, answer questions, share tips & inspiration and more. The best part about a sew along is that it often gives someone the motivation to start or stick with a project and it’s also a fabulous opportunity to learn new skills and make new friends!

This is not a live event or class, all information will be sent via the email newsletter list (sign up below!) on scheduled days with links to blog posts found here. The posts will include pattern tips, tutorial links and videos to help you through your project. You are welcome to work ahead at any time or you can follow the schedule. Between posts, everyone works at their own pace and shares their progress on Instagram and in the Sew Along Facebook Group. If you’re not on social media, that’s ok! You can still view others posts and email me photos of your work.

For this SAL, I will not be sharing a complete step-by-step how-to on foundation paper piecing (we’ll do that in the Spring!), but I will share a variety of tutorials for those who are new to FPP. I will, however, be sharing tips and videos on how I prepare my pattern, cut my fabric (including fussy cuts and directional fabric), join sections with accuracy, and more, and I think many of these tips and tricks will be new and helpful to even experienced paper piecers! Below you will find more information on option tools and materials for this project.

Throughout the sew along, I ask that you direct any questions you may have to the Sew Along Facebook group rather than emailing or contacting me through social media. I will be checking these things, but chances are someone has already asked the same question and you will get a much faster response than I can provide! The FB group also has a search feature, so it’s easy to look for answers. I will be taking a cross country road trip during this sew long (crazy, I know!), so I will have limited internet access.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

SEW ALONG SIGN UP

I have created an email newsletter sign-up as an easy to communicate with everyone participating in the sew along. Emails will only be sent during the sew along and the list will be deleted after it’s over. Please click here to join in! Be sure that you see the confirmation after joining and then look for a welcome email. If you do not see it, please check your junk/spam folders and if you still don’t receive it, please try signing up again.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

SEW ALONG SCHEDULE

There aren’t too many steps in the process of foundation paper piecing, but I will cover pattern and fabric prep, general piecing and finally joining on sections. I will move quickly through the schedule for those who work fast, but there’s plenty of time during the sew along to work on your block, so don’t worry!

October 9: Pattern prep and cutting fabric. I will share helpful tips, my favorite tools, and a few videos on how I do this. There may be some surprises and helpful information for even experienced paper piecers, so I suggest you wait for this post to begin!

October 12: Begin piecing sections. I will share a variety of foundation paper piecing tutorials showing different methods and talk about what I prefer. I will also discuss trimming sections in preparation for the next step of joining them.

October 19: Joining sections. I will share videos and tips on how I join my sections with perfect accuracy and talk about ways to use your block in projects.

October 26: Final post and time to begin sharing finished blocks!

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

tools and materials

Though it’s not necessary, I use an Add-A-Quarter 12″ ruler for foundation paper piecing and will be using that in my demonstrations and tutorials. I also print my pattern on newsprint or foundation paper and this is what I recommend using if you’d like to pick some up. I will talk more about the benefits in the first blog post.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Until we kick things off on October 9, you can check out the #midnightbitepattern and #wickedweaverpattern hashtags on Instagram to get your creative juices flowing! You can start pulling fabric and share a snapshot on social media with the hashtags #MidnightBiteSAL and #MidnightBitePattern (for the bat) or #WickedWeaverpattern for the spider and in the Sew Along Facebook group!

See you on October 9!

Mini Maker Case SAL – Inside binding

It’s the last step in the Mini Maker Case Sew Along, we’re almost done! If you’re just joining in to the sew along, please be sure to check out all the previous posts here and scroll down to the kick off.

Today we bind the inside raw edges of our cases and then revel in our masterpiece! Once again, this step is detailed in the Mini Maker Case pattern so I don’t have too much to add, but will mention a few things.

Many of you have already cut your strips, but for those who have not, I did make a quick little down and dirty video talking about how to cut bias binding, how to measure 1.625″ and why using this measurement is important versus a larger binding cut like 2″ or 2.25″ that you may use on a quilt. I also want to mention again that you DO need to use bias cut binding for this case. Straight cut binding will not bend around the curved corners.

For a more detailed tutorial on cutting bias binding, check out this post from All People Quilt. If you’re cutting a large quantity of bias binding, there are several neat tricks for doing this efficiently, so poke around on YouTube and watch some various methods.

Once you complete this step, your case is done! Take some final photos and post them by Monday September 28 on social media with the sew along hashtags #minimakercasesal2020 and #minimakercase (or email them to me if you’re not on social!). One winner will be drawn at random to win a pink Mini Oliso Iron!

Mini Maker Case SAL – Assembling the Case

Hello, friends! We are now in week two of the Mini Maker Case Sew Along and it’s time to assemble our case! Today I have one video, a couple mistakes to avoid, and a few additional tips for attaching the top and bottom to your body panel.

There are many notes and photos for this step outlined in the pattern, so please be sure to read through them thoroughly before beginning. I’ve seen a couple errors pop up in the SAL hashtag feed and I want to mention them here. Be sure to center your back panel on the back of your case. A few people have placed it on the side, so the case opens like an alligator mouth. It’s still completely functional and also could perhaps be intentional, but just a note! I’ve also seen a couple people sew the body panel upside down, so the handle ends up on the bottom of the case. Always double check your work before sewing! Lastly, remember to open your zipper before sewing on your second piece or you won’t be able to flip your case right side out.

I recommend using a denim/leather needle (100-110) for this step because of the bulk. I also like to start with the bottom of the case that is less visible to get more comfortable with the curved corners, then sew the top. Sewing bulky curves is always a little awkward no matter how you slice it, but just take it slow and use your hand wheel if needed. I also recommend practicing on scraps if you’re uncomfortable or want to check your machine settings and get a feel for it.

Many of you asked for a video specifically showing how I sew the corners, so in the video below you can see my case placement under the presser foot and how I work through the curve. I hope you find this helpful!

This step is gratifying because your case now has shape and is practically finished! The last step is sewing the inside binding and I’ll be covering that on Thursday. Several people had questions about making bias binding, the measurements needed for the bias cut, etc, so be sure to check out all the previous SAL blog posts and the Sew Along Facebook Group if you also have questions.

· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

I have one last thing to share before I go for today. Many of you know that creating awesome FREE patterns to share with this community is a passion of mine. It’s something I’ve always done and will continue to do. Several people who use my free patterns have asked for a way to donate to help support me in continuing to grow the free content I offer, so I have a setup a PayPal donation link and you can find it here. There is no obligation, my free patterns will always be free, and I always appreciate all of your support in any form!

Alternatively, you can purchase any of the patterns I have for sale as another way of supporting me and my work or simply share my website and patterns with your friends. Lastly, I am in the process of setting up a Patreon page where I plan to offer membership tiers with oodles of exclusive content, free patterns and more, so stay tuned for that next year!

Mini Maker Case SAL – Piecing the body panel

Hello again! If you’re just joining in to the Sew Along or looking for information about cutting and preparing all your pieces, please see my previous post here.

Today I’m going to be covering the assembly of the body panel with the zipper and back panel. This is pages four and five of the pattern. I have updated the pattern to correct a couple updates and you can download the newest file here.

In this post I’ll be sharing tips on working with zippers, a pattern hack for adding zipper tabs and a video for adding the back panel which is quite easy to do, but hard to explain in photos and words. So, let’s get started!

The below video shows FIG H from the pattern, the first step in installing your zipper.

If you’re new to sewing zippers, there are several ways to do it! You don’t necessarily need a special foot or anything fancy, though every machine is different so it’s hard to generalize these tips. In this pattern, you will need to use a 1/4″ seam allowance. I typically sew my zippers on with my standard 1/4″ piecing foot. The thing you need to account for is having enough clearance to the left of your foot so that you are not running the zipper teeth under your presser foot.

Many of you know I always sew on older machines, but many of the same principals apply. Below is a short video explaining the feet I use and how I adjust for my seam allowance.

If you have questions about your specific machine or using a specific foot on your machine, I recommend doing a google search for your machine model and “sewing a zipper”, “zipper foot” etc. There are endless tutorials and videos out there!

Also, don’t forget to visit the Sew Along Facebook group, it’s the best place to ask questions and get personalized help!

Below you can see me piecing my zipper using the setup previously explained.

You will continue through the directions on page four to finish the zippered body panel.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •   •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

Now we’re on to the back panel and the zipper tab hack!  The zipper tab is just a handy little addition that gives you something to hold onto when opening and closing your zipper. Truth be told, I intended to add this to the pattern, but was rushing and forgot. So, here it is! You can see the little tab in action in the back panel video farther down in this post.

To create the zipper tabs, cut four pieces 1.5″ wide x 1.25″ high (Note, my tabs are an extra 1/4″ wide in the photo above, but I decided they were too long and trimmed them down). Place two pieces right sides together and piece them together with a 1/4″ seam allowance along the top, bottom and one side. This will leave one side open. Turn your piece right side out and press. Repeat with the other two pieces to create two tabs total.

The zipper tabs will be added when piecing on the back panel. The above photo shows the first step of piecing the back panel both with and without the tabs in place. This is FIG N in the pattern. If adding the tabs, place one tab with the raw edge along the left raw edge of the body panel, centering the tab across your zipper (see above right). Pin or glue in place and continue with the back panel directions for FIG N as written.

A quick note about a pattern update. The fusible fleece for the back panel lining piece had a discrepancy in the original pattern. It read 5.5″ in one place and 4.5″ in another. The pattern has been updated and the correct size is 5.5″. If your piece is cut to 5.5″ it will look like the photo below. If you cut your piece to 4.5″, you fleece will be a half inch short on the top and bottom indicated by the dashed lines below and this is no problem at all, it will not affect the finished piece!

The next step in piecing the body panel is to connect it to the other side. This step is easy, but difficult to illustrate in photos. Below is a video showing the steps from FIG O through FIG R in the pattern and I hope it helps!

This video also shows how to place the second zipper tab and how they function.

One more quick note – the fusible fleece on the lining IS intentionally 1″ shorter on either side, despite the seam allowance being 1/2″. This is to account for bulk when the 1/2″ seam allowance is folded over on itself filling the extra 1/2″ gap.

I hope these tips and videos have been helpful! You will now continue working through these steps at your own pace until next week when we will begin the final assembly! Continue to share your progress photos on social media with the sew along hashtags AND stay tuned to my feed on Instagram for some prizes!

Mini Maker Case SAL Kickoff – Cutting & Prep

Happy Monday, friends! It’s time to kick off the Mini Maker Case Sew Along 2020, so let’s jump right in!

I want to first say that I’m SO thrilled that over 2600 of you are sewing along over these next two weeks! It’s going to be a lot of fun and I cannot wait to see all your finished cases. If you’re just joining in, please take a minute to join the sew along email list here and check out the full schedule and SAL specifics here.

I will have two posts this week as we begin preparing all our case pieces. Today I will be talking about cutting, working with your interfacing, and preparing the top & bottom of the case. Thursday I will share some tips about sewing up the body panel with the zipper – don’t fear zipper newbies. We got you! We will be working through the pattern in the order it’s written, so you can follow along and work ahead at any time!

I’ve also created a Facebook Group for the Sew Along that you can find here. This will be a perfect place for posting questions and getting answers much quicker than I can provide due to the large number of participants! You can also share additional tips or tricks you use along the way and share photos of your work.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •   •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

Now let’s get started! If you haven’t yet posted one, I’d love to see a photo of your fabric pull for the case! if you are Instagram, please share it with the tags #MiniMakerCaseSAL2020 and #minimakercase. If you are not on social media, you can email me and I’ll share some in my next post.

The first step in the pattern is cutting, directions on page 2 of the pattern, and above you can see all my pieces laid out. Please pay close attention to the measurements in the pattern, as some of them may be unusual to you, such as 5/8 (.625) and 7/8 (.875). Click here for a tutorial on how to read a ruler if you have not cut these sizes before.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •   •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

I fussy cut about 99% of all the fabric that touches my fingers (which is partly why I’m sooo slow at everything, but alas…), so I made a down and dirty video with my favorite tip for fussy cutting using tape on your quilters ruler. I hope you find it helpful!

I use the same trick for fussy cutting all my pieces, such as the handle. Because I’m a visual person, I often “mock-up” things when I can’t make a decision. Below you can see I folded up a fabric scrap to help decide how to fussy cut my handle.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •   •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

The next steps are to create your handle (optional!) and the top & bottom of the case. You can find these directions on page 3 of the pattern. Before we get into that, I want to talk a little about interfacing. The notes section on page one of the pattern covers the interfacings used and talked about some substitutions. I know supplies are harder to find and aquire right now, so if you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to ask your location store or an online seller if something you’re looking at would be a suitable substitute. I also recommend looking at the Pellon website where you can find specific details on each interfacing that may help you choose a substitution.

If you have never used interfacing or the interfacing specified in this pattern, PLEASE be sure to read the directions that come with them so you know how to properly work with them. For example, you can press directly on the non-fusible side of the Shape-Flex, but you cannot do this with the Fusible Fleece or the Peltex or it will stick to your iron. If you do happen to make a mistake, I’ll share my favorite iron tip – Faultless Hot Iron Cleaner! Once I learned of this product, I am NEVER without it! I should probably buy some stock, actually…

Since you cannot press directly on the Peltex, sometimes you have to get creative when you need a specific placement, so the short video below shows how I center my Peltex on the top and bottom case pieces.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •   •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

Now you’re ready to start your handle and the top and bottom of the case. I don’t have much to add on these steps as they are detailed in the pattern, but I do have one quick note about the handle. The size and placement of the handle is specifically crafted to best hold and distribute the weight of the iron in the case. I tried a variety of different sizes and placements and found this to be best. You are welcome to adjust the size or placement of your handle, but I wanted to point out the intention of how it’s written.

Another general tip I have that will come in handy as you begin this project is about using Frixion pens for marking. If you’ve never used one before, they’re basically like magic. You can find them online and at most office supply stores. The ink disappear with heat via rubbing (if using on paper) or with a hot iron. I use them ALL THE TIME for marking placement, measurements etc. One important thing to note though is you will want to do a test on a fabric scrap to make sure the pen doesn’t leave a residual mark after ironing it. It’s rare, but it happens. Sometimes on darker fabrics, you will see a faint light line. I often use it sparingly, in inconspicuous places and only after testing. Also, if you buy the ball-point style, you can get refill packs!

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

That covers it for today! Before we go, just a few extras…

At the end of the Sew Along, I will be picking one winner to receive a pink Mini Oliso Iron! I will also have a couple other prizes along the way that I will share next week. Winners will be drawn at random from all photos posted on Instagram with #minimakercasesal2020 and #minimakercase or emailed to me if you do not use social media. You are welcome to post as many progress photos of your case as you wish and each photo counts for an entry!

I encourage everyone participating to follow the #MiniMakerCaseSAL2020 hashtag and spend some time browsing it to find new friends to follow and comment on photos to encourage everyone along (you don’t need an Instagram account to view the photos). It’s a great place to ask questions or see if others need help. You are also always welcome to leave a comment on this post or email me with any specific questions you may have, I’m always happy to help!

This Thursday I will have the next post in the Sew Along talking about the body panel and zipper, so work at your own pace until then and share your progress!

Happy stitching!
~ Nicole