Maker Mat SAL: Pocket Panel Tips & Tutorials

Hello, Hello! If you are just joining the sew-a-long, please scroll down a few posts to find the kickoff and all the tips shared in previous posts or scroll to the bottom of this post for direct links.

So far we’ve worked on the main body of the mat and how to add a machine handle opening, and today I’m going to talk about the pocket panels. If you’re just getting started on your mat, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time!

Before you begin your pocket panels remember that if you changed the size of your main body, you will need to also adjust the size of the pocket panels! You can do this by changing the size of one pocket or adjusting all the pockets equally. Don’t forget to think about seam allowances when calculating cutting sizes.

One thing to note about the pocket panels is that there are SO many ways you can customize this entire project, but especially this part. You can adjust the sizes, add more or less pockets, you can piece them all with any block you love or you can eve use one solid cut of fabric to make it really quick and easy. Be sure to check out the #undercovermakermat hashtag on social media to see tons of creative inspiration!

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Above you can see just a few variations from mats that I’ve made in the past. The top left follows the pattern as written, which the bottom left follows the same sizing and layout, but uses full cuts of fabric (rather than piecing) with cute fussy cuts! On the right, there is a little mix of both. I substituted my Love Story pattern block for the butterfly and then used solid fabric cuts for the other pockets with some added lace trim details.

First I’m going to share some tutorials and tips on creating the accent pocket panels which are the paper pieced butterfly and the selvedge pockets, then I’ll cover a bit more details on piecing the panels and trim options.

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.

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PAPER PIECING TIPS

You can find the pattern for my Butterfly Charm Blocks here. All three butterfly designs are the same size and any can be used. 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.

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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!

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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.

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SELVEDGE POCKETS

For those who are new to sewing or do not know what a selvedge is, it is the finished edge on a bolt of fabric. There are finished edges on both sides along the width of the fabric, but only one will contain printing and this is the side I use on this project. I cut my selvedges off with about one half inch to one inch or so of the fabric print included, just to make sure I always have enough extra to work with them. The directions on how to work with the selvedges to create the pockets are included in the pattern.

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VARIATIONS

Below are more variations from makes on Instagram to help inspire you!

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TRIM

This pattern uses trims or ribbons for securing the secondary pockets and hiding the raw edges, and also for creating the side ties when using it as a machine cover. Below are some trims from my collection that I’ve found at Joanns, Hobby Lobby and even Walmart. Anything between 1/4″ to 3/8″ width is best. If it is too small then you will have trouble enclosing the raw edge of the pocket, any thicker and you cut into your pocket space. Trims that are more solid are best to hide the raw edges, but some lacier style trims can work ok, too.

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If you don’t have any trims on hand, you can also use a thin bias binding strip instead. Start with a 1″ or 1.25″ cut strip, fold the raw edges into the center, then fold in half and press and use this as you would a piece of ribbon. You can also you another selvedge with the cut side pressed under. Lots of possibilities!

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Undercover Maker Mat | lillyella stitchery

POCKET BINDING

I like the look of the binding on the pocket because I think it balances the piece nicely, but if you prefer, you can eliminate this step and instead attach the lining to the pocket panel just as you did on the small secondary pockets. Just lay your lining piece, RST, on top of your finished main pocket panel and sew across the top with a 1/4″ seam. Flip the lining to the back, press, and top stitch along the top edge. You can include the fusible fleece when you do this, add it after tucked up to the seam, or skip it all together and use some lightweight interfacing on one or both pieces instead.

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Above are a couple examples I saw on the #undercovermakermat hashtag on instagram that demonstrate this variation. If you have any questions about doing this instead of the binding, just let me know and I’m happy to help!

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Once your full pocket panel is complete, you will baste it to your mat body and bind the entire piece as covered in the pattern. BE SURE TO ADD YOUR SIDE TIES BEFORE BINDING! If you do not plan to use your mat as a cover, you can leave them off. I did forget to add them once and just had to unpick a little bit of my binding and tuck them in, which was not hard to do, so it’s not the end of the world if you forget, or even decide to add them later!

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Just as with trim used to secure the secondary pockets, you can instead use a binding strip for your side ties, or even additional selvedges. If using a binding strip, simply top stitch along the folded edge to close it up. You can tie knots on the ends or stitch them closed.

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Stay tuned next week for one more post talking about the thread catcher before we wrap things up on October 28!

ADDITIONAL POSTS:

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

PART ONE: Kickoff! Sizing your mat and tutorials for beginners

Sponsors and Prizes!

PART TWO: Adding a machine handle opening

Maker Mat SAL Kickoff – Sizing your Mat & Tutorials for Beginners!

It’s time to kick off the 2019 Undercover Maker Mat Sew Along! I’m thrilled that so many of you are joining in. This is my favorite sew along because I love seeing all the personality that people put into their projects, plus it’s just awesome when I hear how much everyone loves having it and using it!

If you’re just tuning in, you can download the free Maker Mat pattern here. This sew along is open to everyone, there’s no sign up or obligation and anyone is free to join in at any time. I’ll be following the schedule outlined here sharing tips along the way, but you are welcome to sew at your own pace. There will be some amazing prizes up for grabs, too, and everyone who posts their progress photos and finished pieces on social media with the #undercovermakermatsal2019, #undercovermakermat and @lillyellastitchery will be eligible to win! Every post counts as an entry and winners will be drawn at random.

This week we’re pulling fabric and sewing up the main body of the mat. Today I’m going to talk about how to customize the size of the Maker Mat to fit your specific machine and then later this week I’ll be sharing a tutorial for adding a machine handle hole to the body. This is also something you can do to any finished mat if you’ve made one previously.

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SIZING YOUR MAT

The finished mat as it is designed in the pattern measures 20″ wide by 23″ long. This size was based off a couple machines I had on hand and what felt good to fit on a variety of tables. This size can be easily changed if you find that you need a larger or smaller mat to cover your machine or fit on your work surface. I just got this adorable little travel machine, so I’m making a tiny mat to fit it. Aside from determining the size of your main body, the only other change you’ll need to make to the pattern is adjusting the width of the pocket panel, which I will cover next week.

A couple things to consider when sizing your mat. If you plan to use it as a mat under your machine and also a cover, you will follow the steps below for measuring your machine, but you will also want to think about the table you’ll be on when using the mat under your machine. You may need 25″ or more to fully cover your machine, but may find this leaves too much mat on your table that you don’t have room for. If this is the case, perhaps consider a happy medium. The cover does not need to fully cover the machine to be functional.

To customize the size of your mat, start by measuring the width of your machine and deciding if you’d like any “extra”. The base of my machine measures 13″ across, but since the hand wheel sticks out a bit farther, I’m going to make my body 13.5″ wide.

Next you will measure up and over your machine. You will want to leave a little slack in your tape or add a bit to your measurement to account for a little bulk in the body once it’s quilted. I left some slack in my photos above, so I’m going to make my mat 24.5″ long. If you do not plan to also use your mat as a cover, then you do not need to worry about this measurement and can stick with the original 23″ length in the pattern, or measure your table and decide what size you like.

I’m a visual person so I like to make diagrams of my measurements. Above you will also see my handle hole measurements, but I’ll cover that in more detail later this week. So, to fit my machine, I’ll be making the main body of my Mat 13.5″ wide by 24.5″ long vs the 20″ x 23″ specified in the pattern. (I may choose to add a bit more to the width, just to have some extra pocket space, but I don’t want the sides too “floppy” when it’s covering the machine since I’ll be traveling with it.)

As I mentioned, if you change the width of your mat, you will need to equally add or subtract measurements when making the pocket panel pieces. I will cover this in more detail next week, but for those who like too work ahead, an easy way to do this is to simply add or subtract from one of the end pockets and keep the inner pocket dimensions the same, but you can, of course, adjust them any way you like.

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FABRIC PULL

This is a piece to have fun with! I usually go with a subtle background so that I can really have fun with the pocket panels, but I’m going to change things up this time. Since my mat will be smaller for this machine, I’m going to make my pockets a little simpler. I will use some prints and perhaps piece one panel of stripes, but I’m going to use that super fun focal print from Alison Glass Handiwork as the body with the bright blue mariner cloth binding.

This is pretty much how I make decisions on fabrics, I try to lay things out as best I can and just step back to take a look. This time when I stepped back, I tripped right over my space heater and conked my head, but I don’t really need ALL of my scalp anyway.

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TUTORIALS FOR BEGINNERS

If you’re a sewist, but new to quilting, don’t fear! The body of the Maker Mat is a great first project to dip your toes into the world of quilting!

To create the main body of the Maker Mat, you will need basic knowledge of how to layer your top, batting and backing 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 end of the body and that is binding. This is the little edge “wrap” that goes around the entire piece and seals everything up. Here is a helpful tutorial from Bluprint.

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So this week share photos of your fabric pulls and your main body progress and be sure to use #undercovermakermatsal2019, #undercovermakermat and @lillyellastitchery when posting! Tomorrow I’ll start sharing some of the amazing sponsors and prizes I have lined up!

Upcoming Sew Along Schedules

Welp, it’s September already, so let’s get this party going! It’s time for the 2019 Mini Maker Station and Undercover Maker Mat Sew Alongs! More specifics on each will follow soon, but I wanted to get the initial schedule out there so you can start planning. Both of the FREE patterns are available here.

You don’t have to do anything to join in either or both Sew Alongs. There’s no sign up or obligations, you simply sew along with others and have fun! This is a perfect opportunity to make something for yourself that you’ve been putting off or to whip up some holiday gifts! Sew Alongs always give me the motivation I need to get something done and I love being inspired by everyone else along the way.

The SALs will be casual and while I will loosely follow a schedule to share tips and help those who need structure,  you are free to join in at any time and work at your own pace. We will share photos on social media with SAL hashtags as we go and there will be fun prizes and giveaways, too.

First up will be the Mini Maker Station and we will kick things off September 16. Since this project requires hardware, please read through the pattern and source your materials or purchase a hardware kit from my shop here. You will not need the hardware in hand to start the project and can actually get very far on most of it without the hardware, so don’t worry if you don’t have yours by the kickoff.

MINI MAKER STATION SAL SCHEDULE

September 16 – 24: Sew Along Kick Off! Start pulling and share your fabrics. Work on the Maker Station Main Body and Thread Catcher.

September 25 – October 3: Blog post with tips about making the fabric basket and pin cushion. Work on basket and pin cushion.

October 4: Share your finished Maker Stations!

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Next, the Undercover Maker Mat Sew Along will kick off on October 7 and run thru October 23. You can find the free pattern here. I will be following the schedule below but again you are welcome to sew at your own pace and join in any time! There are many ways to customize this project and adjust it to your skill level, so please note that many specifics indicated in the schedule are optional. Before the SAL begins, I will share a blog post discussing some of these options, variations and customizations to help  you plan! You can also check out the hashtag #undercovermakermat on social media to oodles of inspiration!

UNDERCOVER MAKER MAT SAL SCHEDULE

October 7: Kick off! Make main body panel

October 11: Make paper pieced butterfly and selvedge pocket panels

October 14: Make full pocket panel, assemble to body

October 18: Make optional thread catcher

October 23: Share your finished projects!

Stay tuned here and on social media for more information to come, but in the meantime, download the patterns and get ready! See you soon!

~ Nicole

Good Vibes Only Blog Tour

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When Shayla Wolf of Sassafras Lane showed me her newest collection, Good Vibes Only, I knew it would be absolutely perfect for some summertime Wrap and Go Cozies! If you’re new to my blog or a recent follower, you may not have seen this pattern before, while I know many others are so patiently waiting!

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One of my obsessions is vintage Pyrex casserole dishes, collecting them AND using them. I take them everywhere! Parties, potlucks, picnics. Decades ago, Pyrex created  a promotional fabric cozy that came in three patterns with three different dishes, and it was GENIUS! I have no idea why it didn’t become a staple, but after I saw one, I knew I had to recreate it – and improve upon it!

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So I began designing patterns for easy-to-sew cozies to fit all the vintage Pyrex shapes and sizes that are large enough to be worth wrapping. They’re insulated and have optional straps (which I’ll be adding to these later this week!) and can also be easily customized to other similarly shaped casserole dishes.

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I’ve been procrastinating on these patterns for YEARS (what the heck, Nicole!), but the first set of patterns in what will be a large series will be available later this month, so stay tuned if you’re interested! The first pattern sizes released will be for Pyrex 473, 474 and 475.

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When I saw the COMPLETELY PERFECT rainbow gradient of this line, I instantly knew how I’d use the collection. I created a bias stripe rainbow gradient between two cozies and used the awesome text prints for the side panels, insides, and will also use a black and white text for the handles.

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There are even four additional colored prints I didn’t use in my stripes (plus many more LV prints in white, gray and black), so you can really see how full and versatile this line is! Plus, it just makes you happy! Literally, nothing but GOOD VIBES here!

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You can see more amazing projects using Good Vibes Only during the three week Blog Tour (details here!) and in the Good Vibes Only lookbook. Also be sure to visit me on Instagram for a chance to win some Good Vibes Only fabric for yourself!

Here is the Blog Tour lineup for you to check out all the amazing makers and have more chances to win some fabric!

Monday, June 3rd: Shayla Wolf | Sassafras Lane Designs

Tuesday, June 4th: Emily Dennis | Quilty Love

Wednesday, June 5th: Nichole Vogelsinger | Wild Boho

Thursday, June 6th: Irene Sytema | Sugaridoo

Friday, June 7th: Sylvia Schaefer | Flying Parrot Quilts

Saturday, June 8th: Robin Long | Robin Ruth Design

Sunday, June 9th: Jessica VanDenburgh | Sew Many Creations

Monday, June 10th: Nicole Young | Lillyella

Tuesday, June 11th: Sherry Shish | Powered by Quilting

Wednesday, June 12th: Tara Curtis | Wefty Needle

Thursday, June 13th: Jo Westfoot | The Crafty Nomad

Friday, June 14th: Janet Nesbitt | One Sister Designs

Saturday, June 15th: Natalie Barnes | Beyond the Reef

Sunday, June 16th: Elisabeth Hardy | Elisabew Quilts

Monday, June 17th: Sarah Sharp | No Hats in the House

Tuesday, June 18th: Joanne Hart | Unicorn Harts

Wednesday, June 19th: Elise Baek | Elise & Emelie

Thursday, June 20th: Kaitlyn Howell | Knot and Thread Design

Friday, June 21st: Nicole Daksiewicz | Modern Handcraft

Saturday, June 22nd: Sarah Thomas | Sariditty

Sunday, June 23rd: Shayla Wolf | Recap

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Mini Maker Station Sew Along Schedule

I’m really excited to get the Mini Maker Station SAL going and can’t wait to see all your projects! I will officially kick things off on Monday, February 4 and it will run for two weeks (plus a weekend) through February 18. I’m going to keep it very casual, like the Maker Mat SAL, but I will be following a loose schedule and will be sharing some tips along the way about materials and working with the magnets. I encourage you to share your progress photos along the way with the hashtags #minimakerstationSAL and #minimakerstation!

If you’re just joining in, you can find the required hardware list in the pattern (download it here!) or in more detail two blog posts back, and I also have kits available in my Etsy shop here. Don’t worry if you’re still waiting on a kit or sourcing your materials when the SAL begins, as there is quite a bit you can do on the project without it.

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SCHEDULE

February 4: Sew Along Kick Off! Blog post about selecting fabrics and the proper interfacing materials needed, as well as notes about measuring and customizing your station.

February 4 – 10: Start pulling and share your fabrics. Work on the Maker Station Main Body and Thread Catcher.

February 11: Blog post with tips about making the fabric basket and pin cushion.

February 11 – 17: Work on basket and pin cushion.

February 18: Share your finished Maker Stations!

I will have a couple prize bundles up for grabs at the end of the Sew Along that I will share next week. One will be awarded to one winner chosen at random from all the posts in the #minimakerstationSAL hashtag and the other will be awarded to one winner drawn at random from all the completed maker stations posted by February 18.

If you have any questions now or along the way, feel free to email me anytime through the contact button here on my website or through social media.

I’ll see you back here next Monday!

Sonata Fabrics Showcase + Mini Maker Station

I first met Amy Sinibaldi right before her debut fabric line came out and I can’t believe she now has seven amazing collections under her belt! I always love playing with her new designs, so I was excited to join the Sonata Fabrics Showcase along with a handful of really really talented ladies!

Amy has always made THE cutest little, functional items for organization and storage, so I knew that this blog tour and her Sonata fabrics were perfect for the release of my Mini Maker Station pattern!

I had so much fun creating this pattern and am really proud of it. I can’t wait to see how you all customize your own maker stations! You can download the free pattern here. The hardware list is included in the pattern and kits are available in my Etsy shop here.

Shown above is the large 9″ version of the Maker Station using primarily the Ludwig color way of Sonata. That hot pink floral is TO DIE FOR!! The balance of lights, darks, focals, and blenders in this line is perfection. The touches of Navy and the red in the Beethoven color way make it so rich and striking.

If you’re seeing my Mini Maker Station pattern for the first time, it’s like an armchair caddy with a twist! There is a piece of thin sheet metal in the body and magnets sewn into the interchangeable accessories, including a small fabric basket and a pincushion, so that everything stays put! The optional scrap bag can also be used for additional storage. There is a smaller 7″ version of the maker station that will be included in the pattern.

I’ll be hosting a sew along starting in February and will post more details about that soon!

You can also use other magnetic accessories with the maker station, such as magnetic bowls, shown below. There is a lot of room for customization with this pattern and I hope you love it as much as I do! It’s perfect for any type of handcraft from sewing to cross stitch to embroidery and more.

I can’t wait for the sew along and to show you more beautiful Sonata fabrics as I sew up the smaller version of the pattern with you.

Stay tuned for more on the upcoming sew along and be sure to check out the rest of the Sonata Fabrics showcase with the hashtag #sonatashowcase on Instagram and in Amy’s feed!

p.s. Don’t miss the adorable Sonata strawberry pin collaboration that Amy did with Maker Pin Co. – check them out here!

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!

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

Santa’s Chimney Basket

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I can’t remember what spurred this last minute idea, but OHEMMGEEE is this adorable or what?! I used my free Sturdy Basket Pattern to make a snow covered chimney to hold my Christmas cards. Now I need to make another to hold Santa!

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I used the brick print from Grafic fabric for the basket outer and lining and some faux sherpa for the “snow”. The sturdy fabric basket pattern (find it here) includes directions on making any size basket you wish, so you can customize your chimney, but I made mine 6.5″ wide x 6″ high x 3.5″ deep. In the photo below, I did put a little padding inside the bottom of the basket to make the cards sit a little higher. I didn’t want to make the basket shorter because I wanted to see enough brick.

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I made the basket as specified in the pattern, but I did not press the exposed top of the lining in half before folding it over the top of the basket , I just folded it over so the raw edge was exposed. It gets covered by the sherpa so it doesn’t matter. You really don’t even need to make the lining larger than the outer piece since it is covered. I did it because I wasn’t sure if I would fold the sherpa inside or wrap it on the outside just around the top.

To make the snow top, I cut a piece of the sherpa 20.5″ wide by 5″ high then simply wrapped it around the top of the basket and folded half to the inside. The backing of the sherpa clung to the brick fabric really nicely so I didn’t even need to secure it in place, but you could use some glue if desired. If you make your basket a different size, you’ll need to adjust the size of your sherpa cut. Simply add width x 2 + depth x 2. I added a half inch on top of this just to be safe.

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This project was so quick and fun. I definitely want to make some for gift giving next year! I’d love to see what you make! Please tag me on social media or use the hashtag #sturdyfabricbasket.

Happy Holidays, friends!
~ nikki

‘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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