Blogs


The Gemstone Pillow: English Paper Piecing PDF Pattern


blog-hop-175x175It was one of those creative kismet stories…

I was noodling in my sketchbook, playing with octagon shapes for a new English paper pieced quilt block. I drew an octagon that was a little elongated, and the thought drifted through my mind: "Huh. That looks a lot like one of those emerald-cut gemstones."

…So I kept noodling, and before long, it looked exactly like one of those emerald-cut gemstones. And I had the makings of a new EPP pattern.

The very next day (I kid you not), RJR Fabrics asked me if I'd like some of their Cotton Supreme solids to work with and blog about. And I was all: "Ummm, YES PLEASE."

The Gemstone Pillow: English Paper Piecing PDF PatternAnd here's the result: The Gemstone Pillow, my latest EPP-and-applique pattern. And I'm part of RJR's What Share Are You? Blog Hop.

I do love how this project turned out. If you've played with some hexies, this is a project to challenge your EPP skills a little. We're working with odd shapes here, but fear not – the pattern templates tell you everything you need to know in order to get all the pieces arranged correctly. Really, if you can thread a needle and sew a straight machine seam, you can absolutely make this pillow.

I could see this design in so many cool variations – you could make those gemstones all the same color. You could use just two colors. You could use shades of grey and make them all resemble diamonds. You could put your gemstones on a print background. You could arrange them differently. The patten gives you all the templates and techniques, and you can take off from there.


The Gemstone Pillow: English Paper Piecing PDF Pattern


You can get all the pattern details over at my shop. And you can see what my fellow blog-hoppers have made over here.

The Gemstone PillowIt was awesome to work with the Cotton Supreme colors here. The success of this design relies on having enough contrast between the light and dark values of each color, and RJR has so many hues, I was able to get a perfect set. At left is a list of all the colors I used, and these are available many places, including Pink Castle Fabrics.

The Cotton Supremes are lovely to work with for EPP. They're nice and soft, and hold a finger-pressed crease beautifully, which makes for easy, precise basting. I've got some scraps left over that I can't wait to use in other projects.

(As you can see, Pushkin found them nice for Laying Upon as well.)


The Gemstone Pillow: English Paper Piecing PDF Pattern

  


The Magic Pattern Book Review


Amy Barickman runs a well-known pattern company called Indygo Junction. She also authored one of my all-time favorite crafty books. And now we have her newest book, The Magic Pattern Book: Sew 6 Patterns into 36 Different Styles. It's one high-value sewing book!


The Magic Pattern Book Review


The concept here: six basic patterns, each of which has been customized six different ways. So you have 36 garments in total. Interestingly, the idea of "Magic Patterns" comes from a vintage source, which you can learn about in my review my favorite Amy Barickman book.

The patterns are presented in a CD in the back of the book. Once you've loaded them onto your computer, you print them on your home printer in "tiled" form – that is, there are keys to help you assemble all the 8 1/2" x 11" (or A4) sheets into the full-size pattern pieces.

Honestly, this isn't my favorite way to get pattern pieces, but you have to realize that trying to put 36 garments' worth of patterns onto large pattern sheets would have been very costly and bulky.


The Magic Pattern Book Review


The presentation of patterns here is just stellar. First, let me show you the sketch pages with all the variations. Here's the tank set…


The Magic Pattern Book Review


…The skirt set…


The Magic Pattern Book Review


…The cardigan set…


The Magic Pattern Book Review


…The coat set (yay coats!)…


The Magic Pattern Book Review


…The accessories set (yay hats!)…


The Magic Pattern Book Review


…And the dress set. So as you can see, there's a wide variety of looks here. And I think they're very intelligently designed for a sewing book – there's just enough fittedness (true, not a word) that the garments look trim on the body, but would still be pretty simple to construct.

I'm also loving that these garments are great fashion basics that would look pretty on a wide range of ages. They also offer wonderful opportunities to add custom details.


The Magic Pattern Book Review


So, having shown you the dresses, let me walk you through one so you can see how thoroughly each pattern is presented. The instructional-quality nerd in me is very happy.

First, you get a nice full-length photo of the garment on a model. You even get a notation of the model's height, which is an awesome fitting clue that should be in all sewing books.


The Magic Pattern Book Review

The Magic Pattern Book Review


Then you get a detailed cutting diagram, and a very thorough presentation of the construction directions, liberally sprinkled with diagrams.


The Magic Pattern Book Review


There's a little sidebar with suggestions for ways you could customize the garment (which is such a lovely extra).


The Magic Pattern Book Review


…And finally, there are six fabric suggestions for each pattern, prettily presented. I love being able to see each garment in lots of guises like this – sometimes, I find it hard to visualize design possibilities beyond what's on the model, so these illustrations are so helpful.


The Magic Pattern Book Review


Speaking of fabrics, I loved this index of all the patterns. listed by compatible fabrics. So if you have a couple yards of something on hand, you can easily find the best patterns for it.

I'm also loving the variety of fabrics this book encompasses – and this ties in with my recent rantings about the scarcity of sewing books for people who aren't beginners. These patterns offer a sewist opportunities to explore working with all kinds of fibers, and there's a nice section in the book explaining the qualities of each fabric.

Also, each of the pattern sets features one design that's made from a repurposed fabric of some kind - an old curtain, tablecloth, garment, etc. That's an inspiring touch!


The Magic Pattern Book Review


There's the usual chapter of basic instructions, detailing the tools you'll need, how to access, print, and assemble the pattern pieces, how to make a muslin, and how to alter the patterns. All of this is very thoroughly and encouragingly presented. I'd definitely call this book beginner-friendly, as long as that beginner has a little machine-sewing under her belt.

This is an awesome gift book for someone who wants to sew their own clothes, and a great investment – you can make things to wear for years from these Magic Patterns!


(Disclosures: Workman Publishing sent me a review copy, and the title link above is an affiliate link. Now, go forth and sew!)

Categories: 

mr-darcy-watchwhilestitching



Once again, I'm working on a whole bunch of hand-stitched projects at once, and that means logging some hours in front of the iPad. Here are some awesome things I've been watching. As always, if you're an email subscriber, I hope you'll click through to the post so you can see these video embeds.

(Mr. Darcy, incidentally, is only here for the eye-candy.)


The Verse: a Firefly Fan Film

In the last roundup, I shared my favorite Star Trek fan adaptation, and my friend Arielle emailed me a link to this film. It's made by a group of fans of Firefly (which, if you haven't seen it, get thee to Netflix and binge-watch the whole thing. I'll wait here.)

I'm so impressed with this production – amazing costume and set design, lighting design, and a really good script. Even though the characters are amalgams of those in the original series, the whole thing feels completely at home in the Firefly world. Thank you, Arielle!


Isabel Allende on TED: How to Live Passionately No Matter Your Age

I love this TED talk dearly. Author Isabel Allende speaks honestly about what aging means to her – the fears it raises, and also the freedoms. I'm a lady who's inching into middle age and nowhere near ready for it, so her words spoke directly to my heart.

(Fair warning: there are a few slightly adult references in here. Including a perfectly hilarious one about Antonio Banderas.)


Crash Course: Literature

You're very likely already familiar with John Green, author of The Fault In Our Stars. Well, he and his brother Hank have a wonderful YouTube channel called Crash Course, where they present fast-paced, visually engaging lessons in a great many subjects. But John's videos on literature are especially worth watching.

The video above is one sample. Visit this playlist and see him dig into The Great Gatsby, Hamlet, Jane Eyre, and more. I love John's analyses, and the beautiful, passionate way he speaks about writing and reading.


Komaneko

OMG, IT'S A STOP-MOTION CAT WHO DOES CRAFTY THINGS!!!

There's a whole freaking playlist. Watch all of them and your whole life will get better. I know. It happened to me.

A Quilter's Mixology Review



The Drunkard's Path quilt block is such a cool thing – incredibly simple on its own, but it can be combined in an amazing number of ways to create gorgeous designs. Angela Pingel has written a very inspiring book on the Drunkard's Path, called A Quilter's Mixology: Shaking Up Curved Piecing.

A Quilter's Mixology Review



Here's the Drunkard in question – a quarter circle in a square. This block dates back the early 1800s. As you can see, Angela Pingel uses it two ways in this book: in its traditional form, and in a more modern cut, with the circle consuming more of the block.


A Quilter's Mixology Review


If you're a quiltmaker who fears curved piecing, the process is very well documented here, with several different methods and a whole section on fixing common errors that arise. I learned several new tricks I'm eager to try out.


A Quilter's Mixology Review


I am a bit of a nerd about color-and-fabric chapters. Since I look at a lot of sewing and quilting books, I'm always comparing how different authors handle this subject. And Angela's chapter is excellent, especially because it has so many photographs documenting her thoughts on scale, prints vs. solids, color schemes, and incorporating directionals and fussy-cuts.


A Quilter's Mixology Review


There are 16 project patterns here, 12 of them quilts (I'll show you a couple small projects in a moment). And I think it's in the project designs that this book really shines. Angela has an original eye, and has managed to turn the Drunkard's Path into a surprising range of looks.

She's also a very adept combiner of fabrics, which really makes these designs sing. Some of the designs are repeating patterns, like the quilt above...

A Quilter's Mixology Review



…And some of them combine the Drunkard's Path with larger straight-sided shapes to form big, splashy modern quilts. I'm really loving the use of small textural prints with these big shapes.


A Quilter's Mixology Review


Here's another repeating pattern, and again – what an awesome fabric selection!

A Quilter's Mixology Review



…And here's another of the large, modern designs. I honestly loved every design in this book, and could go on showing them to you all day. To me, the diversity is a big plus, but if you're a quilter who likes a more specific design bandwidth, it may not be your cup of tea.


A Quilter's Mixology Review


As a quilter who doesn't own a longarm and doesn't have a lot of free-motion quilting confidence, I'm always looking to see how quilt books handle the subject of quilting, and whether the designs will take well to simple quilting techniques.

Angela did simple straight-line quilting on some of the designs in this book, and sent the others to a professional longarm quilter. I do think that the bolder, simpler designs in this book would benefit from the intricate work of a professional longarmer, while the more complex ones could work with straight-line or domestic free-motion quilting.


A Quilter's Mixology Review


The chapter on the finishing steps covers Angela's favorite techniques, but points out that beginning quilters might want to seek out other, more in-depth works on backing, basting, and binding. There is a nice illustrated step-by-step on making a double-fold binding, and some useful diagrams on making pieced backings.


A Quilter's Mixology Review

A Quilter's Mixology Review


Here are a couple of the book's small projects, and you can also see some simple quilting at work in these designs. I really love that table runner, and isn't that little print border on these pillows a beautiful touch?


A Quilter's Mixology Review


The project instructions are well-presented, with text steps and lots of assembly diagrams for both blocks and full quilt layouts.


A Quilter's Mixology Review


…And this is a nice feature I haven't seen in too many other places: for quilts that need lots of large pieces, there are visual cutting diagrams.


A Quilter's Mixology Review


In the back of the book you'll find a template sheet with all the full-size templates you'll need for the book's projects.

If you've got your quilt-making legs under you and are ready to tackle a new challenge, A Quilter's Mixology is an excellent portal to the world of curves.


(Usual disclosures: F+W/Interweave sent me a review copy, and the title links above are affiliate links.)

Categories: 

What to Do When Your Hand-Sewing Thread Knots Up


Sooner or later, every hand-sewist ends up getting an unexpected knot in their thread. This doesn't mean you're any kind of a bad sewist! It's just simple physics at work.

Luckily, though, there are some ways you can do magical counter-physics and either prevent or solve those knots. And that's what this post is all about.


It's all in the twist…

The number one reason your thread ends up in knots is that you're twisting it. You're not doing this consciously or anything – it happens in tiny little increments during those moments you let go of your needle and pick it back up again.

Most of us, in those moments, turn the needle just a little. And those tiny turns add up, over a lot of stitches, into twisted thread. This is especially true with stitches like whipstitch, where you're moving the needle the same direction over and over.


How to Knotted Thread While Hand Sewing


How do you know your thread is twisting? Try this: Hold your work in one hand and your needle in the other. Let the thread hang between them. Now, bring your hands slowly together. Does that hanging thread immediately begin twisting up on itself? Then you're twisting it while sewing, my friend!

If your thread is twisting upon itself like this, imagine what happens when you try to pull all that twisty mess through your fabric. Twisted-up thread has no choice but to get wadded-up and knotted-up.


How to Knotted Thread While Hand Sewing

Preventing that twist

…So, the easiest way to keep your thread from knotting in the first place? Counteract that twist. Cultivate a habit of spinning your needle in the opposite direction until your thread smooths out. And do this any time you see that twisting start to form.

How do you know which direction is opposite? Easy: if the twisting gets worse as you twirl your needle, you're twirling in the wrong direction, Twirl in the opposite direction, and you'll see all that twisting fall out of your thread. Then, proceed with stitching.



How to Knotted Thread While Hand Sewing

What if the danged thread knots up anyway?

Don't worry – luckily, the knots that form from twisted thread are almost always one of two kinds, and both are quite fixable.

The first and most common knot looks like a mess of thread, as you see above. Often, this thing isn't really a knot at all – it's just a tangle. But I've seen many sewists turn it into a knot when they yank on the thread and try to force it to pull through the fabric. Don't do that!


How to Knotted Thread While Hand Sewing


…Instead, the minute you see that messy tangle forming and the thread starts resisting your pull, stop! Set down your needle and gently take the tangly stuff in your fingers. Then pull it gently toward you, and away from the fabric, This usually untangles the tangle and prevents the knot from solidifying. Then you can ease the stitch through and then un-twist your thread as we discussed above.


How to Knotted Thread While Hand Sewing


The other common knot looks like a little loop of thread with a knot in it. It's also easy to fix.

Again, the minute you see this knot happen, stop what you're doing! Take a deep breath and relax. The more gently you handle the thread at this point, the better chance you have of fixing this knot. If you get all angsty and try to force that thread through the fabric, you'll end up tightening the knot and making it irreparable.


How to Knotted Thread While Hand Sewing


So, insert your needle in that loop. (If your thread is very twisted, it may take a little doing to locate the loop. If you have some reading glasses or a magnifier, grab 'em – they really help.)

With your needle through that loop, gently pull the needle away from the fabric, You should see the knot begin to slide toward that needle. When the knot reaches the needle, stop pulling and remove the needle.

What remains now looks like a knot, but is really just a tiny clump of twisted thread. Take it gently in your fingers and continue tugging it toward the bend in the thread. You should feel that knot untangle itself under your fingers. Neat, huh?


What to Do When Your Hand-Sewing Thread Knots Up

If the knot won't come out…

Hey, it happens. The best thing to do in these cases is figure out how to move forward. Sometimes you can cut the thread so that you have two fairly long strands – one hanging from each side of the work. Then you can tie those in a double-knot with your fingers, cut the ends, and start sewing again with a freshly-threaded needle.

Sometimes your knot can't be cut. You're stuck with a tangle of thread on the back of your work. If you still have a length of usable thread on your needle, you can always lay the tangly stuff flat against your seam line, and continue your seam right over the top of it as shown above. That's not a pretty fix, but it secures the seam and saves you from having to rip the whole thing out and start over.


What to Do When Your Hand-Sewing Thread Knots Up

Other little tricks to try

Use shorter strands of thread! It's very normal to want to use the longest strand of thread possible, so you won't have to stop and re-thread your needle anytime soon. The problem is, the longer your thread, the more room there is for twisting – and also, the more beat-up your thread can get over time. Think of it this way: your thread is getting repeatedly dragged through itty bitty spaces, and being abraded by the fabric (and paper templates, if you're EPP-ing) all along the way. That abuse adds up, and thread that's beat-up is much more likely to tangle.

So, learn to love re-threading a little more. Get yourself one of these dandy needle threaders. And work with strands of thread that are no more than about 18" in length. It makes a huge difference.


Get some thread conditioner. I adore my Thread Heaven, which is a mix of wax and oils. You pass your strand of thread over its surface, and then rub the thread a few times to work the stuff in. This gives your thread extra smoothness and resiliency and really cuts down on tangles. With this stuff and the needle-counter-twirling technique above, I almost never have to deal with knots.

OK, holy crap – when I sat down to write this post, I had no intention of writing a doctoral dissertation, but I see I have. Is there some kind of award for Nerdiest Blog Post About Thread Knotting EVER? Because I want one.

Flower POW Mug Rug: an EPP Pattern


So, today I finally get to announce something I've been working on behind-the-scenes since January. I've opened a little pattern store for English paper piecing patterns!

As you may have gathered – ahem-hard-to-miss-ahem – I'm pretty besotted with EPP. It's one of the most soothing crafts ever. It's simple to learn, and lets you turn out perfect patchwork without having to do any measuring or point-matching. The paper does all that work for you, and you just get to chill out and stitch and watch West Wing.


Flower POW Mug Rug: an EPP Pattern


The one thing I've always struggled with in EPP, however, is the time commitment. As much as I love my hand-sewing time, I also want to finish my projects and use them! I've started no fewer than four hexie quilts, and ended up giving up on all of them. I figure there have to be others out there like me.

That's why I started developing patterns for smaller EPP projects – things that let you enjoy this delightful process, and also have an awesome finished item within the same calendar year. :-)


Flower POW Mug Rug: an EPP Pattern


I'll share my patterns in detail one at a time over a series of posts. This one is the first one I came up with – and I call it the Flower POW Mug Rug. I love hexies, but EPP lends itself to all kinds of different shapes, so I wanted to make some things that let me play with that.

…So in this pattern, you get to piece with diamonds and triangles, and then add an outer border of scallops. (Can you make curved edges with EPP? Oh, absolutely - it's easy!)


Flower POW Mug Rug: EPP Pattern


This project is also fun because it can be entirely hand-sewn. As in, you don't need a sewing-machine to make it, unless you want to machine-quilt it.

And it's a pretty quick project – I can make this from start to finish in about 5 1/2 hours. (Remember, hand-sewing moves at a different kind of time-scale than machine-sewing. Hand-sewing is also why Netflix was invented.)


Flower POW Mug Rug: an EPP Pattern
You can get your copy of this pattern at my online store. And if you're into EPP and want a heads-up when I release a new pattern or have a special offer, you can sign up for my new EPP Pattern Newsletter.

OK. I'm going to go have a mid-day coffee to celebrate!





  






Basic Black Review



I suppose at this point I could be called a Sato Watanabe fangirl, having reviewed two other books of hers here.

Well, so be it. I do like her design sensibility very much, and the instructional quality of her books. And Basic Black: 26 Edgy Essentials for the Modern Wardrobe is a really interesting collection of garments, all made in – you guessed it – basic black.


Basic Black Review


I like the concept, although it's not always easy to see all the details in the sample garments. So I'm showing you some of them alongside the finished diagram from the pattern instructions, to give you a better idea.

Sato Watanabe has done books of very simple garments, but in Basic Black, she makes great use of trims, tucks, gathers, and darts.


Basic Black Review


It's not that you have to make your versions of these garments in black, of course. I could see any of them rendered in all kinds of colors and prints. Every design has good "bones" that would let it adapt to different interpretations.


Basic Black Review


Each garment has a detail or two that sets it apart, like the pocket detail on this dress. And the collection encompasses a wide variety of fabrics: jacquard, tweed, chambray, corduroy, chiffon, wool gauze, lawn, and so on.


Basic Black Review


The book's 26 garment patterns include 7 blouses, 9 dresses, 3 jackets, 3 vests, 2 skirts, and 2 coats. I was excited to see some more advanced-level patterns here – we know how angsty I've been getting lately about the lack of good sewing books for intermediate and advanced sewists.

(OMG, love that hand-stitched detail!)


Basic Black Review


This is definitely not a beginner's book. You should have some experience, I think, with tracing and altering patterns before you attempt something like this pretty fitted jacket. I was also happy to see several lined garments. These are things that would take some time to make, but would become wardrobe favorites.


Basic Black Review


Just had to show you one of the two coat designs. I love everything about this coat.

Basic Black Review



The instructional presentation is much like we've seen in Sato Watanabe's other books: each pattern has a cutting diagram, and the construction steps are presented mostly in diagram form. There's an envelope in the back of the book with two pattern sheets to trace from.

Basic Black Review



What's different from previous books is this very detailed measurement chart for sizing. The collection is divided into three silhouette types: loose, garments with darts and shaping seams, and fitted, Measurements are given in both U.S. and metric, and the author suggests using metrics for the best fit.


Basic Black Review


If you know your way around a dress form and want to venture into some fashion-forward pieces, check this book out.


(Disclosures: Tuttle sent me a review copy, and the title links above are affiliate links. Happy Weekend!

Categories: 

Pages