Sew-A-Long Tutorials for Beginners

Hello, my Sew-A-Long friends! Today I’ll be sharing a few tutorial links for those who are joining in the Undercover Maker Mat SAL, but may not be familiar with basic quilting or paper piecing (which is an optional element!). There are a lot of step-by-step photos in the pattern and many basic techniques, but it does require basic knowledge of making a “quilt sandwich”, binding a quilt, and paper piecing , if you choose. If you haven’t viewed my Instagram stories, please pop over and take a look. I’m saving all the SAL stories in a highlight which you can access anytime from my main profile. You can also turn on notifications for my posts and/or my stories so you don’t miss anything. I shared a few tips and examples yesterday on how to simplify or customize your mat, so this can help you with the planning stage.

Onto the tutorials! If you’re new to quilting, you will need basic knowledge of how to layer your top, batting and backing for the main mat body (aka the “quilt sandwich”), and how to do the quilting stitches. This tutorial from Suzy Quilts covers all the basics. It applies to a large quilt, so working with your main mat body will simply be a smaller and simpler version! Straight line quilting is a great design for beginners, or a crosshatch is a always a nice option, too. I’m not sure its mentioned in the tutorial, but I love using a Herra Marker (a bone folder or scoring tool also works similarly) to mark my quilting lines, especially for something like a crosshatch. Here is a video on using a Herra Marker.

Another quilting technique you will need to know comes at the very end of the project, but it is binding. This is the little edge “wrap” that goes around the entire piece and seals everything up. Here is a helpful tutorial from Craftsy.

Lastly, we have paper piecing. If you’d like to create the butterfly pocket panel as shown in the pattern, but have never paper pieced before, don’t be intimidated! This is a great time to learn! Cassandra Madge did a wonderful two-part tutorial for beginners using my Butterfly Charm Blocks pattern and you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

As always, feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions along the way, and stay tuned for more helpful tips here and on Instagram!

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Brimfield Meadows + EPP Tips

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Howdy, friends! Sheesh, this blog has been neglected. Some days I feel bad and others I don’t because most people have the attention span of a goldfish these days and blogs aren’t what they used to be. Still, I love to have a space to share more than a few words and one photo of something, regardless of who ever reads it!

Life has been extra crazy lately, but I squeezed in a few days of hand stitching recently because I needed to create something beautiful for myself. I stitched up the new Brimfield Meadows block from Brimfield Awakening and HOT DOG! I couldn’t be happier with it. It was quick and fun to sew, it came together like a dream and it’s such a unique and beautiful shape. I used Sleeping Porch lawn to match the bed quilt I’m working on and plan to make a pillow out of this block to go in my bedroom.

While I’m here, I just wanted to share a few things I loved about this pattern and how I sewed up the variation I chose. I’m also going to talk a bit about some of my favorite notions for English Paper Piecing, because I often get questions in my social media posts. I am by no means an EPP expert, but I have experimented with a variety of threads, basting techniques and stitching methods, and definitely have my favorites that I think yield nearly flawless results.

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Above are just a handful of the fabric placements I was playing with for this block. My final block matches the top left diagram above. You can see all the separate segments of the pattern and how I chose to combine two or three pieces in areas to create one larger piece. I love how you can do this to change the final look of there block, use larger fussy cuts, and make the stitching go quicker!

I simply taped some of the segments together to create the larger units. Note that the outer most tip of every “petal” is perforated on the paper so you can use them whole or split them as I did. Also, another design variation that isn’t shown above is different arrangement of those center “orange peels”. You can flip them 180° from how I used them, sew them up as one unit or even leave half or all of the segments out completely, letting your background show through. You can check out the hashtag #BrimfieldMeadows on social media to see some beautiful examples of all these variations.

While this photo above may look like someone’s unmade bed, it’s how I audition fabrics. If you look close you can see the method to my madness! I’m a total planner, so even when I say I’ll just “wing it”, I always end up making diagrams and taking pics of piles of fabrics to help me plan things, or at least start in the right direction.

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TIPS & TOOLS

Basting curves was new to me, and it took me a couple tries to figure out the best order of basting down the sides, but once I did, it was really easy! I basted the concave edge first, then pulled the convex edge as needed to make it smooth, and did the two straight sides last. I cut small notches to help with the concave curves which you can see below. As I mentioned above, I used small pieces of tape to connect the paper pieces and create the larger units, which you can also see below.

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When I first started EPP, I would thread baste, mainly because I didn’t have glue basting supplies and didn’t feel like researching how to do it! I tried glue basting because it seemed to save time and it did not work for me AT ALL! The problem was that I was applying the glue all the way to the edge of the paper and I couldn’t grab my fabric to stitch it. I watched some amazing tutorial videos from the queen of EPP Karen the DIY addict and it changed my glue basting life! I watched her apply the glue a bit in from the edges and it was like a “why didn’t I try that?!” kind of moment, but it works like a charm and I’m all glue now! I prefer to use a glue pen (such as Sewline or Fons and Porter).

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When it comes to stitching all those pieces together, I also tried many methods and many threads! If you know me at all, you probably see what a perfectionist I usually am, so visible stitches drive me BONKERS! Though I have learned that sometimes this is on purpose to show consistency? Regardless, it’s not for me. Once again, Karen saved my EPP life with her flat back stitching tutorial. You can see in the photos above of the back of my block that my stitches are by no means consistent or perfect, but you can see directly above how they are not visible at all from the front. This is the only stitching method I use and while some people think it’s slower than others, I find it very easy and quick. It helps to line up pieces and I love that the stitches are hidden so well.

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Last but not least, my favorite thread and my favorite thimble! Hands down, I love InvisaFil thread from WonderFil. It is 100wt polyester and virtually invisible. I do double the thread over and sew with two strands simply because I like a secure thread on my needle, rather than a loose tail, but it’s strong enough to be used as a single strand. I have tried 80wt cotton threads and they also work well, but I’m a tight puller and am much more likely to break the cotton thread, but I’ve never broken the InvisaFil. I match my thread to my lighter fabric when possible, but as you can see in my detail shots, it’s not too important since you can’t see the stitches!

My favorite thimble, which I cannot stitch without these days, is the Natural Fit Leather thimble shown above which is from Clover. It comes in three sizes and I wear a small on my middle finger, but I have pretty tiny hands 🙂

So, that’s all I got for now! I hope some of these little tips and resources have been helpful to you. I’ll be sure to share my finished Brimfield Meadows pillow once it’s complete, and you may very well see more blocks popping up because I am in love with this pattern (which you can find here if you’re interested)!

happy stitching!
~ nicole

Maker Pin Co. Collaboration

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I was so excited when Amanda at Maker Pin Co. asked me to be her next collaborative artist! It was really hard to decide which of my paper piecing patterns to turn into a pin and I knew that two patterns I had in the works, a honey bee and a luna moth, would be super cute options, so I quickly finished them and we put four designs up for a vote. But, in the end, no one else could decide either so we produced all four and I just received the first batch. Aren’t they the cutest?!

We just opened up a second round of preorders through August 30, so if you’d like to snag one of these pins for yourself or as a gift or swap extra, pop over to Maker Pin Co. here!

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If you haven’t heard of Maker Pin Co. yet, let me introduce you! Amanda, formerly of Stash Builder Box, recently began this new adventure. She works with different artists to create enamel pins using their designs and, just like with Stash Builder Box, maker Pin Co. is all about helping those in need with $1 from each pin sale being donated to a charity of the artist’s choice.

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The charity I chose is the Pollinator Partnership. Founded in 1997, the Pollinator Partnership is the largest nonprofit in the world committed to protecting pollinators and their ecosystems and promoting conservation efforts. The charity works throughout North America and globally to safeguard birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles and other pollinators.

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We donated $280 so far from the first round of preorders and I’m hoping we can more than double that! What do you think?

The Bee pin measures 1.5″ wide and the rest measure 1.25″, making them perfect for jacket lapels, hats, bags, pouches or as push pins on bulletin boards!

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If you don’t follow me on social media, I’ve been a little behind on blogging lately (summer is so busy!) and you may be wondering about the Bee and Luna Moth patterns. They are new and coming soon! I typically don’t share my new designs until I’ve sewn them up myself, but I really wanted to include them in the pin designs, and am so glad I did!

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My goal is to have the Bee pattern, named Honey Maker, out in October or November, with the Luna Moth (Moon Dancer) released shortly after, but likely early in the new year. I hope you’re as excited about them as I am!

Thanks for stopping by today! Remember, pin preorders are only open through August 30, so head over there now and support our pollinators! Be sure to check out all the other awesome collaborative designs while you’re there, too!

~ nicole

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Fabric.com Fall Block Party

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Fall is officially in the air and I’m closing out the Fabric.com Fall Block Party with my contribution, Flutter By! If you’re just joining the party, you can find all the free blocks shown above on the Fabric.com blog here. This collection of quilt blocks is an excellent skill builder with traditional piecing, foundation paper piecing, english paper piecing, and appliqué.

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Though many people typically associate Butterflies with Spring, some of my favorites appear as Fall blows in when the monarchs emerge and the Painted Ladies make their migration. Plus, we all know I love them, so I’m always game to share a new pattern 🙂

My Flutter By block is foundation paper pieced and sews up quickly with just three simple sections. The pattern includes the butterfly as shown and reversed so your butterfly can head East or West!

You can download the free pattern from Fabric.com here!

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I wanted to use an unexpected mix of fabrics on my block, with a variety of prints and textures, and am so in love with the result! I started with the focal floral print, which is Liberty of London Lawn. Many people do not think about using Lawn when quilting, but it’s quite dreamy, especially when paper piecing because it is lightweight.

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The pink stripe fabric is a woven from Loominous by Anna Maria Horner, dotted line coral. The stripes are raised and add such a lovely textural element. The remaining prints are quilting cotton from different designers – Indah Batiks Herringbone Coffee, Dear Stella Trail Mix Feathers Mustard, Dear Stella Honey Bee Scallop Dot Corn, and Cotton + Steel Ombre Pigment Aqua for the background. I love how the gradient of the ombre prints plays subtly in the background. It’s so perfect for sky!

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I have a few fun quilt layout and other project ideas in mind for this block, so keep an eye here and on my instagram page for those! I hope you enjoy my contribution to the Fabric.com Fall Block Party! Please share your projects with the hashtags #flutterbypattern and #fabricdotcomblockparty!

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‘lil monsters treat bags

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Fall is in the air and Halloween is right around the corner! I usually don’t have any ‘lil monsters in my life, but since one of my besties happened to be in town for an extended visit, I couldn’t resist whipping up some new treat bags for her littles.

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I used the midnight bite treat bag tutorial that I shared last year (find the free pattern here) and some ‘lil monsters fabric from cotton + steel, which was absolutely perfect. This line has a little more of a playful feel to it and I was able to pull prints and colors to make both an older boy and a little girl equally happy! Also, our Aurifil Sariella Thread Collection had just the right colors I needed for yet another project! #win

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I used solid pieces for the top panel, instead of the pieced bat as in the original, making this project really quick. I used a spider pom pom trim on one and metallic skulls on the other, both of which I found at Joann’s.

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I hope this inspires you to whip up some treat bags for the ‘lil monsters in your life! I’d love to see what you make. Tag your pics on social media with #midnightbitetreatbag or email me! Happy Haunting!

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I may be underdressed, but at least I’m not late.

Earlier this year, Art Gallery Fabrics asked if I wanted to play with any of their new collections, and when I first saw Lower the Volume, I immediately knew I had to make a quilt. I have been wanting to make a low volume quilt for some time and this was the perfect opportunity to finally do it. Shortly there after, Mister Domestic asked me to be a part of his sewing party showcasing the new AGF Capsules and Fusions lines, to which I replied, “of course!”, seeing as I already had this plan in the works, and who doesn’t want to party?! But then I went into panic mode…

I knew there was no way I could finish this quilt “on time”. My thought was that I should make something else so I would have a beautiful finished product to show off when it was my day on the tour. This is what I typically do and how I always think. The problem with this is that I never let myself do the “big projects” that I really WANT to do, because I never have enough time to complete them.

I am a slow sewer, and I mean SLOW. This is partly because I just physically move slow and meticulously when I create, partly because I’m always working on about 13 things at once, and partly because I just don’t have a lot of time to sew, especially when spring hits and it’s time to tend to the land, or when my husband gets extra busy at work because sh*t is hitting the fan somewhere in the world.

So, there you have my little chunk of a quilt top in progress. I have no idea when I will finish it (though I’m super excited to because I am LOVING it!), because I’m not even done typing this blog post and already stressing about the new deadlines I have ahead of me next week.

Showing off this unfinished top for my day on the blog tour is painful and embarrassing for me. I’ve been feeling disappointed in myself all week and I know that’s just ridiculous, right?! We are always striving for a picture of perfection, even though every one of us knows that is never what life is actually like behind the scenes of social media. But, despite these feelings, I’m really glad that I chose to continue with this selfish sewing project, to let myself make something that I really wanted to, and to try and be more comfortable with being “less than perfect”. I do hope you like what you see thus far, though, and help cheer me onto the finish line!

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ABOUT THE FABRIC & PATTERN

Lower the Volume is one of four new Art Gallery Fabrics Capsules collections, and I think its awesomeness speaks for itself! We all use low volumes in nearly every project we make, but what I love about this line is how it’s interesting and lively enough to stand all on its own. I originally planned to use the line exclusively in the quilt, but decided that a small pop of color would be a really nice accent.

I chose the fantastic plaid shown above from the new Mad Plaid capsule collection for the backing (because it matches my living room perfectly!) and pulled the accent colors from there, which are Art Gallery Pure Elements and Solid Smooth denims (my favorites!). Aside from a single row of blue and yellow hexies, the rest of the quilt will be all low volume.

The pattern I’m using is Sari’s and my Sariella Deco Hex pattern that we created for the April Stash Builder Anniversary box. If you saw the mini we originally made, you’ll see I’ve rotated the pattern 90° counter-clockwise here for use in the quilt. I also enlarged the pattern a bit. If you missed the pattern in the Stash Builder box, it will be available from Sariella later this year, so stay tuned! I will also share more about my process in making this quilt when I finish it.

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STOP by the party!

Today wraps up week one of Mister Domestic’s Sewing Party, but be sure to check out the other posts from this week (shown above, links below), and also the Fusions portions of the tour beginning next week. I’ve already seen a few of the projects and they are legen… wait for it… DARY!

Capsules (April 17 – 21):
Monday: Cristy Stuhldreher (@loveyousew_) http://www.iloveyousew.com/
Tuesday: Kitty Wilkin (@nightquilter) https://nightquilter.com/
Wednesday: Sharon McConnell (@colorgirlquilts) http://colorgirlquilts.com/
Thursday: Stephanie Palmer (@latenightquilter) http://latenightquilter.com/
Friday: Nicole Young (@lillyellasworld) That’s me!

Fusions (April 24th – 28th)
Monday: Nicole Daksiewicz (@modernhandcraft) http://modernhandcraft.com/
Tuesday: Tara Curtis (@t_jaye, @WEFTYneedle) http://www.tjaye.com/
Wednesday: Melissa LeRay (@ohhowsweetco) http://www.ohhowsweet.com/
Thursday: Sarah Thomas (@sariditty) http://www.sariditty.com/
Friday: Jennifer Rossotti (@jennrossotti) http://gingerpeachstudio.com/

Have a fabulous weekend, friends!
~nicole

p.s. bonus points if you can guess what show I’ve been binge watching this week!

Blithe Fabrics Blog Tour

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I first got to play with Katarina Roccella’s newest line, Blithe,  when I made my Bias Weave pillow for the Lookbook last fall. It was love at first sight before I even had the fabric, but you just cannot help but fall head over heels in love once you start piecing it together. Something about the palette and the way it plays with the Art Gallery Fabrics denims just melts your soul. I had a few bits and pieces left from my first project and knew exactly what to make for my stop on the Blog Tour.

I see cathedral windows as a quilty bucket list item, you know? I’ve always loved them (even before I was quilting), and recently watched a friend make a Christmas pillow and it really sparked my fire. It was time. I spent hours looking at and trying various methods and tutorials and decided that the Faux Cathedral Window tutorial by Diary of a Quilt Maven was the way to go for me. The method is pretty much the same as the Missouri Star easy cathedral windows tutorial as well, in case you prefer it in video form.

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What I liked most about this method was two things – first, it used small pieces of fabric, and that was all I had, and second, it felt very precise to me. Being a perfectionist, this is key. It’s also super easy to adjust the size of your windows to anything you wish and to create any shape piece you wish. I won’t walk you through the steps, because that is what the tutorial is for, but below are a few progress photos that may help demonstrate how I translated the tutorial into my finished pillow. Please excuse the bad lighting, it’s been a “work all night” kind of month! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below or send me an email anytime.

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The solid fabric I used along with Blithe on my pillow is solid smooth Art Gallery Fabrics denim in Cool Foliage. It is absolutely perfect with this line and always a dream to work with. I made my window foundation pieces 3″ to start, versus 2.5″ as in the original tutorial, and I pieced 8 units across and four units down to create the window panel. I chose to use the text print inside the petals and the denim for the petal edges, but I also really love the look when these two elements are the same fabric.

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After the full window panel was complete, I pieced on the top and bottom strips that included a 1″ strip of the text print to help carry the design over, and then a 3″ strip of denim. I kept the back simple to showcase the beautiful owl print, but I think it would be really lovely to make a second window panel so the effect wraps all the way around the pillow. The finished pillow measures 20″ wide by about 18″ tall.

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The end result was exactly as I envisioned and there was nothing I did not like about the method I used to make it. l definitely be using it again and may actually have a cathedral window obsession after this experience. I already have two more projects planned!

Now that I have these two gorgeous pillows, I guess it’s time to make a bed quilt! It won’t be cathedral windows. I love them, but not that much 🙂

Be sure to check out all the other *amazing* projects in the blog tour by visiting Katarina’s Instagram feed and through the hashtag #blithefabricsblogtour!

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Beautiful Blithe (and a new pattern)

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Happy December, friends! Gosh, has this year flown by. I always have such big plans at the start of each year and then beat myself up at the end when I’ve barely touch my grand to-do list. But, life happens and I’m trying to teach myself to not stress about the things I don’t accomplish, but rather enjoy the time I spend on the things I do!

Easier said than done though, right?

I drew up my Bias Weave quilt pattern at least six months ago, probably longer. I designed it specifically for my Stash Fabrics Design Star Bundle and got as far as cutting everything and piecing a few rows, when things got really out of control around here, so on the back burner it went. But, when Katarina Roccella asked if I’d like to create a piece for her Blithe fabrics lookbook, I just could not say no because I love her and her fabrics!

I decided that an oversized pillow version of the pattern would be a great way to showcase the fabrics and get me motivated to keep working on the full quilt.

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I created this a couple months ago and the Blithe Lookbook is now out so I’m excited to share it with you! The pillow measures about 26″ x 23″ and is living on my bed right now. It’s a really nice sham size and it’s perfect for propping myself up to read. I’ve also used it on the floor when I’m crafting.

My husband put it best though, I have to say, “This is like a fancy person pillow. Like someone buys it out of a fancy magazine to put on a fancy couch that no one sits on. It’s all high class and sh*t.”. I’ll take that as a compliment, I think. (Disclaimer: My husband doesn’t always speak like a redneck. The first part was serious, then he started being a smart ass 🙂

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ABOUT THE FABRICS

Katarina has done it yet again, she is a true artist! Blithe is so dreamy and gorgeous. Deer, owls, birds, butterflies, tall trees, soft blenders, it feels like your taking a trip into a majestic winter wonderland. In addition to quilting cottons, the line includes canvas, knits, voile, ANNNNDDDDD Art Gallery Fabrics first printed linen – it is amazing! (It’s the antler print on the right below.)

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The line also pairs beautifully with the Art Gallery Denim Studio collection. I used the vanilla mist yarn dye and wicked sky smooth solid denims for the border strips on the front and incorporated the nectarine sunrise smooth solid into the back. The cool foliage is a perfect match, as well.

Click here or the pic below to check out the entire fabric line and all the amazing projects in the Blithe Lookbook >

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ABOUT THE PATTERN

My Bias Weave pattern will be for a full quilt and include a few sizes, but like the pillow I created, you can make a variety of pieces using the “block”. I wanted to create the full quilt sample before releasing the pattern, but I’m considering releasing it with just a diagram and the directions before I finish the quilt. I will (unfortunately!) be having surgery soon and I will have a lot of down time where I can work on the computer, but won’t be able to cut and sew for a bit. What do you think? I know this isn’t uncommon, but it’s just not something I’ve done myself. Give me your feedback, please!

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The pattern isn’t technically difficult to sew, but does require precision in cutting and piecing, so I’ll call it a skill builder! I did, however, build a little overage into the blocks to allow for trimming, which makes that precision pretty easy to accomplish.

There’s so many fun ways to play with color and fabric placement, I’m really excited to get this pattern out to testers and see what everyone comes up with!

I hope you’ve enjoyed a peek at this amazing new line, Blithe, and please take a second to leave me some feedback on the pattern release!

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Rip Strip Weaving: Using your Loom

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Now that you’ve built your loom (you can find that post here), it’s time to use it! I touched on options and materials a bit in the first post, but will cover all of that again. I will start here with stringing, then move on to weaving, and will do a third and final post about finishing options.

I will also write additional posts in the future on different things you can do with your loom and make with your woven panels as I make them myself, so be sure to check back for those!

I started this project with the intention of using ripped strips of cotton fabric for the weaving, and that is how I created my rainbow runner below, but the possibilities of what you can weave into your piece really are endless. Consider various fabric substrates, yarns, ribbons, etc.

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I need to begin by saying that not every aspect of weaving is science. There are some things that can’t be definitively explained. Some things come with a “feel” or by simply doing it once and figuring it out from there. So, please excuse some of the looseness of this post. I will provide all the information I can about this project and will post updates as I use my own loom more.

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STRINGING YOUR LOOM

The first step in using your loom is to run the warp threads. These will run with the length of the rails between the cross members and wrap around the nail posts. As with every aspect of this project, you have many options for stringing the warp threads of your loom, from the material you use to the way you run the threads. I will show you two options in this tutorial.

On my rainbow sample runner, I used one yarn in a continuous string. It was slightly off white with tiny metallic flecks in it. I wanted a strong contrast against the rainbow fabrics and love the way it looks. You can use any sort of yarn, thread, floss, cord, twine, or even fabric strips for your warp threads, and I will show you a few different options later in the post.

To string your loom with one continuous thread as I did in my rainbow runner, you will first begin by making a large loop with a secure knot on one end of your thread (I’m using yarn in this instance). You want to make sure you have enough to string the entire loom, so do not precut any lengths, just work from the skein or whatever amount your string comes as. If it is not long enough to make one continuous piece, you can simply knot an additional piece on and continue.

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Hook your loop over one nail post at either end of either cross member, it does not matter where you begin. You will now run your thread down to the other cross member, around the first nail post and back up to where you began. Loop around the next nail post and continue this until you’ve wrapped around all the nail posts. You will now end at the last nail post on the opposite cross member from where you began. Secure your thread by making another knotted loop and hooking it over the nail post.

If you’d like your warp threads to be farther apart, giving a “looser” look to your finished weave, you can loop your threads around two nail posts, vs. just one, as shown in the bottom right photo above. Just remember that you will only see half the warp threads on each side of your woven piece. So, when you are looping on each nail post, the fabric will be on top of one thread and underneath the other. You can compare how the threads look strung on each nail post in the diagram above to how my finished rainbow runner looks. I strung my threads around each nail post on that piece.

Now here’s the important (and slightly loosey goosey) part, you DO NOT want your strings to be tight. When I started this project and just blindly jumped in, I strung my threads as tight as I could pull them. About five rows into my weaving, I realized the error of my ways. You will be amazed at how much slack is taken up by weaving the fabric strips through the threads, so you need them to be LOOSE when you begin. I’m sure you are asking, “how loose?”. Well, that’s the part I can’t really answer. You do not want them sagging to the table through your center loom opening or falling off the nail posts, but you otherwise want as much slack as you can have without those two things happening. Once I finish stringing my loom again for my next project, I’ll see if I can take a video that may help a bit.

STRINGING VARIATIONS

If you would like to use a variety of different materials or colors for your warp threads, you can do this a couple different ways. First, you can use the same continuous string method that was described above and knot your various threads together at any point you would like to change. Alternatively, you can create separate thread loops, rather than one continuous thread.

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In the diagram above I have one green thread loop and one white thread loop. Each spans between one nail post on the cross members. You can also double the spacing on these as I described above, and even skip a nail post between loops for a more symmetric spacing.

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RIPPING STRIPS

Before I started this project, I had never torn fabric. I had received fabric with torn vs. cut edges, but had never done it myself. I wanted my woven piece to have a bit of a raw feel to it, so the frayed edges of ripped strips were the perfect option. Below I will show you how to tear fabric strips to achieve the look of my rainbow runner, but you can also use cut strips of fabric for your weaving.

I used 2″ strips throughout my piece for a consistent look, but plan to use a variety of different widths on my next project to achieve a scrappier look. The length of my most of my strips was the width of the fabric, but I also used some fat quarters and smaller pieces. You can use ANY size scraps you like for this project. Later in the post I will show you how to knot your strips together as you weave, but you can also seam your strips together with your sewing machine or hand stitches as you go.

The beauty of ripping fabric, and why some shops choose to do it, is that you will always have a perfectly straight and square edge. If you are beginning with a cut of fabric that already has a torn edge, you can skip the first step, but if you are beginning with a cut of fabric with a cut edge, you will first need to create a torn square edge.

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Depending on how straight or crooked your fabric is cut (you may be amazed at how off some cuts are!), the placement of your first snip will vary. You will start by snipping a small slit on a slevedge edge of your fabric about 1/2″ to 1″ in from the cut edge of your fabric and then simply hold the fabric on both sides of you cut and tear the strip off. If your tear does not run all the way to the other end of your fabric, you are still not square and need to move in farther with your initial snip.

Once you have your first fully torn edge, you can now measure to the width you’d like your strips, snip and tear. The result will be perfectly equal torn strips. It’s like magic! Ok, not really, but it sort of feels like it.

tearing2

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WEAVING

Now it’s time to weave – hooray! Though it’s not necessary, I found using a Dritz Elastic threader as a “needle” made the weaving process much easier. They come in a three pack for about $2 – $4 online. I ordered mine from Amazon, but you can also find them on Craftsy and a variety of other websites. The Wefty needle also serves the same purpose.

needle

When weaving your panel, you will begin at one cross member and weave to the middle of the loom along your rail length. You will then stop and start again at the other cross member and work to where you left off previously in the middle. You do this because it is much easier to squeeze the last rows into the middle of the loom than it would be to fight with the last rows along your cross member.

You will want to begin your weaving a few inches in from one of your rails. It doesn’t matter which side you start on or which direction you weave. Weave your fabric strip above every other warp thread and be sure to watch this carefully, as it’s easy to miss one or make a mistake and not notice it until later. Pull your fabric strip through the warp threads until the end of your strip is where you began weaving and work toward the anchor rod. When you get to your anchor rod, you will treat it just as another warp thread, going the opposite of your last thread. You will see below that my fabric was on top of my last warp thread, so I wove it under the anchor bar.

weaving1

Wrap your fabric around the anchor bar and continue weaving to create the first full row. Once you cross over where you began, you can pull a bit from the end of your strip and tuck it under your first full row. Alternatively, you can just leave it as it, it will hold tight once your weave is complete and I will also talk about stitching the ends in place once you are done weaving.

You will now continue in the same manner of weaving, making sure to check your work as you go. Your fabric should always wrap around the anchor rod in the same way as your previous row, so that is one way to double check that you are still on track. When you get to a screw eye, be sure to not wrap your fabric around the post of the screw eye or you will not be able to remove the piece from the loom. Just weave the fabric on either side of the screw eye. It’s alright if you have to squish or stretch a bit to make it work, it will all even out when you remove the piece from the loom.

rip strip weaving | lillyella stitchery

As you’re weaving your strips, you will find they twist and fold and bunch in different ways as they’re pulled through the warp threads. You can try to control this as you feed the strips, such folding the fabric on itself a certain way, or you can simply let it do its own thing!

You will also need to push your rows together toward the cross bar as you work. You can do this every row or every few rows, it’s just something you’ll get a feel for as you go. You can push your rows together as tight or as loose as you wish, depending on the look you are going for.

Also, you do want to pull your strips too tight as you weave. The anchor rod will keep your piece stable and square, but if you pull too tight, you can start to bow the anchor rod. This will make it hard to remove your piece from the loom and possibly cause irregular edges.

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ATTACHING STRIPS

When you are ready to attach your next strip of fabric (or other material), there are a couple ways you can do it. I used a knotting method, which I will show you below, or, as I mentioned above, you can machine or hand stitch materials together. You do not want to weave with too long of a strip at once, because it is just more to pull through the warp threads as you weave. It is best to attach the strips as you work.

When you are close to the end of the strip you are weaving with, leave about 5″ – 7″ loose. Lay a new strip on top of the end of this strip, lining up the ends as shown below. Fold both ends over about an inch and cut a small slit through both pieces.

rip strip weaving | lillyella stitchery

You now want to place your new strip, right sides together, on top of the strip in the loom, lining up the cut slits as shown in the photo below. The scissors are just to show the slit in both pieces. Next, take the loose end of the new strip and run it through the cut slits from the bottom. This new strip should be going first through the slit in the strip that is woven into the loom. Pull the piece through until it tightens into a knot. You can now continue weaving.

knotting2

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FINISHING THE WEAVE

As mentioned previously, you will start weaving from one cross member of your loom into the middle. You will then start again at the other cross member and work to the middle where you left off.

The photo below shows what your panel will look like when you meet in the middle. Continue weaving until you close the gap and overlap your ends a few inches as shown on the right.

rip strip weaving | lillyella stitchery

Once you are finished weaving, you can hand stitch these loose ends to surrounding fabric or you can do this after you remove the piece from the loom.

You’re now ready to remove your panel from the loom! You will first remove two screws at the end of the anchor rods on one cross member using a screwdriver and then slide the anchor rods out. They may feel tight and you can use pliers or vice grips to start pulling the anchor rods loose. Twisting them a bit can also help. Once the rods begin to move, they will slide out easier. Next, you will lift the woven panel carefully off one set of nail posts, and then the other. Be gentle as you do this to not tear your warp threads.

Now that your panel is off the loom, admire your work and give yourself a hand!A couple more little things and you’re done.

If you wove your warp threads as one continuous piece, your initial looped ends at the beginning and end of your thread will need to be secured. When you first remove the piece from the loom, use a safety pin to hold the ends in place, otherwise the warp thread end can get sucked down into your weave. To secure them permanently, use a needle and thread to secure the loop onto a lower portion of the thread. Start by knotting your thread onto the loop then run your needle through the warp thread one row below and knot to secure.

rip strip weaving | lillyella stitchery

Also, If you did not stitch your final loose fabric tails down before removing the panel, you can do so now. You can also do this with the fabric ends where you began weaving at either cross member, if you wish.

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Now that your piece is woven and off the loom, you can call it complete as is or you can add various finishing touches, such as cuffs or tassles, or use the woven panel on something else, such as a bag or pillow. Since this post is already quite lengthy, I will address that in a separate one.

If you have any questions about this tutorial, please contact me anytime, just be as specific as possible so I can best assist you.

I so hope you enjoy this process as much as I have! Please use the hashtag #ripstripweaving so I can see what you are making!

Here’s a shot of the materials I’ll be using for my next project. I plan to use a variety of threads for the warp threads and add a mix of yarns and other materials into the weave along with the fabric strips. I’m pretty excited about it and I’ll share more soon here and on Instagram!

fullsizerender

Maker Mat Sew-a-long: Main Body Panel

Undercover Maker Mat Sew-a-long | lillyella stitchery

Good morning, friends! I’m so excited to officially kick off the Undercover Maker Mat Sew-a-long and have loved seeing some of your fabric pulls already! If you’re just tuning in, you can find all the details and the free pattern in my previous post (scroll down or click here). Please be sure to use #undercovermakermatSAL and #undercovermakermat on your photos so we can all inspire and motivate each other!

As mentioned, I’m going to follow the schedule that I shared, but you are welcome begin and end anytime, and sew at your own pace. I will try to share a few extra tips and suggestions at each step, but everything you need to complete the project is in the pattern.

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Today, I’m going to talk a little about some options for the main body of the mat, but first, I want to talk about PRIZES! Because who doesn’t love prizes?

prizes!

First up, I have some super awesome, generous donations to giveaway! I have FIVE 6-month subscriptions to Make Modern Magazine, a three month subscription to Stash Builder Box and a $25 gift certificate to Stash Fabrics!

I’ll also be giving away three bundles of all my lillyella stitchery patterns AND a bundle of fabric, notions and other fun stuff that I’m putting together, which I’ll share soon, and possibly a few more things that get added along the way!

I’m thinking that I will pick my three favorite finished mats and then draw the rest of the winners at random. What do you guys think?

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Alright, onto to business! I talked about the overall size of the mat and how to modify this to fit your machine on my original post, so be sure to check that out. Now I’m going to talk a little about fabrics and design options.

On the previous mats I’ve made, I have chosen a simple, low volume for the main body, so that the colors and prints used on the pocket panel would really pop. My very first one was a solid piece and on the next one I made for the Paperie Fabrics blog tour shown below, I pieced a thin strip of accent fabric in and really love the look.

two-mats2

On the Tula one shown above, I added an applique moth peaking out from behind the pocket panel, and I think it’s so fun.

Because the main body is 20″x23″, you need yardage for this piece, but if you are working with scraps or a FQ bundle, you can simply piece it together any way you like.

Even if you choose to use a low volume background, another fun option is to add a print to the “back” of the cover, what would show on the back of your machine when being used a cover, such as on this one:

purebredback

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Another way to approach this project is to make the main body bold and vibrant, and keep the pocket panel simpler. Below are a few examples I found on the #undercovermakermat hashtag on Instagram using fun prints or patchwork designs. I hope these, and all the examples I shared in the original post, will help inspire you!

undercover maker mat examples

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I am making two mats during this sew-a-long (at least that’s the plan), but after unexpectedly spending all night in the ER and heading back to the doctor shortly, I have nothing to show you yet! Hopefully I can make some progress later this evening and I’ll share my final fabric pulls and finished bodies on my instagram page. And as long as I’m not under the knife, I’ll be back here Thursday to talk about the paper pieced and selvedge pocket panels!

ADDITIONAL POSTS:

Undercover Maker Mat Sew-a-long: All the details

PART TWO: September 6 – Kickoff, prizes and main body panel variations

PART THREE: September 8 – Accent Pocket Panels

PART FOUR: September 12 –Full Pocket Panel & Assembly