Howdy, friends! If you are new to this sew-a-long, you can find the original post here.
Tuesday we covered the main body of the mat and today I’m going to talk a bit about the accent pockets. These are the paper pieced butterfly and selvedge panels you see in the original mat. if you’re just joining in, still pulling fabric, or working on your body panel, don’t worry! There’s plenty of time to finish, and you don’t even have to finish when I do. I won’t be talking about the next step until Monday, as well, so just work at your own pace and enjoy the process!
All the information you need to create the accent pocket pieces is included in the pattern (including a link to a tutorial on making the butterfly for beginner paper piecers), but I will go into a bit more detail here and include some additional tips and photos, as well as design variation ideas.
PAPER PIECING TIPS
You can find the pattern for my Butterfly Charm Blocks here. I used Gidget on the mat above, but all three designs are the same size and any can be used. I am using Cricket on the mat I am making now. The foundation paper piecing tutorial link included in the pattern is from Cassandra Madge and you can find it here. It was so sweet of her to use my pattern as the example for her tutorial!
Our methods of paper piecing are very similar, with just a few differences. I like to use the Add-A-Quarter Ruler, rather than a standard quilting ruler. It does the same job, but is just one of those tools that takes away some room for error. Another paper piecing tutorial I often direct people to is this video from Connecting Threads. You can see the Add-A-Quarter ruler being used.
When I paper piece, especially small blocks, I like to use Foundation Paper. You can buy one from Carol Doaks or you can use any thin newsprint. Someone recently mentioned they found this pack from Dick Blick, and you can’t beat the price! I also apologize that I don’t remember who tagged me on that, please let me know if it was you! It is essentially just a thinner paper that creates less bulk and allows for easier removal. You can use any paper for paper piecing, but the thinner you can find, the easier it will make the process.
Another thing I ALWAYS do is to trace the pattern onto the back of the sheet. It does not have to be perfect because you will only be using it for reference, but it helps in a multitude of ways. I use a lightbox, but you can also use a window. Since this is the side where you will place your fabric, you can use these lines as a guide for cutting your fabric pieces. You can still use the printed side, but you have to work with your fabric upside down at that point, and I like to see the prints and placement.
After tracing and selecting fabrics, I also note my fabric selections or color accordingly on this side. Then I always know I’m placing the correct piece. These lines also help you as you sew to make sure a fabric cut will cover a segment. Place the fabric where you would for your next seam, but before sewing, hold the fabric approximately where your seam will be and fold the fabric over as you would when pressing it after sewing. You can then see if your piece is large enough to cover everything it needs to. You can then sew your seam with confidence, because unpicking a paper pieced seam is NO FUN!
Lastly, I find having these lines helps prevent you from missing a segment, which is something I see a lot in paper piecing. When you have the pattern lines on the side where you are placing fabric, you will notice if you’ve missed a piece. You still have to pay attention, but it’s definitely better than flying blind!
In Cassandra’s tutorial, you will see her talking about adding some basting stitches to you sections to help when piecing them together. This is important and something I always do as well, however, I put my stitches in the seam allowance as you can see above in the left photo.
Another tip is that when trimming sections to the seam allowance after piecing, do not trim any sides that are on an outer edge (above right). This way you can trim your final block to size after it is completely pieced. It is not uncommon to lose a little bit in each seam, so this ensures you can have the correct sized block in the end, and also lets you trim the block to a slighty larger size, if desired.
After piecing sections, I always remove the paper from the seam allowance only before sewing sections together. This just helps with bulk and allows you to press a flatter seam before adding the next section. You can also see this in the above right photo.
All the steps for creating the selvedge pockets are included in the pattern PDF. I don’t have any additional tips for this step, but if you have any specific questions that I did not cover, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment here or contact me through my website.
I discussed a few variations for creating these pocket panels in my original post, but will show a few more examples here. You can substitute any paper pieced block or patchwork design, or use solid pieces, for all the pockets. On the above left you can see a pocket panel created as the pattern outlines on top, and the one below shows a pocket panel made using only whole cuts of patterned fabric. It’s an equally adorable outcome and a perfect way to use a fun fussy cut, like the horse!
On the above right you will my Love Story pattern used in place of the butterfly block and solid pieces used in place of the selvedge panels. You can also embellish any of these panels with some additional trim as I did on the small one to the right of the heart.
The above left pocket panel was made by my pal Mathew (Mister Domestic). He also used my Love Story block, but check out how he replaced the selvedge pockets with solid strip piecing. Love this look! It’s an excellent option if you don’t have selvedges to work with or simply want a different look for your piece.
Also, I will talk about the rest of the pocket panel and trim next week, but one thing I mentioned initially was that you can use fabric folded like bias tape in place of trim, and that is also what Mathew did here. The fussy cutting makes it look like ribbon, doesn’t it?! Love.
The above right picture is from Holly Hughes (Holly Hughes), she made a mini squash blossom block in place of the butterfly, and check out these geese in place of the selvedges! Also, that is faux leather bias tape that she’ll be using for trim. Say what?!
I’ll wrap this up now with a few more examples of accent pocket variations and I’ll be back on Monday to talk about constructing the full pocket panel.
Please keep posting your progress photos and using the tags #undercovermaketmatSAL and #undercovermakermat, I am SO enjoying seeing all your work! And remember, no pressure her! Sew at your own pace and have fun. Have an awesome weekend, friends!
(p.s. Thank you for all the well wishes! I’m in the middle of some tests to figure out what’s going on inside my crazy body, but I so appreciate all the love!)