15 February 2018

How I made my Perfect Pairs Heart Quilt

A couple of weeks ago, I reached the point of no return and before I could embark on any more sewing the time had come to tidy my Sewing Room...to say it was a pit would be an understatement!

I had a huge sort out and gave two massive bags of fabric to a friends daughter who is embarking on her Textiles GCSE .  Despite this, I still have a mountain of fabric left over, no surprise since I own a quilt shop and as a perk of the day job, I get to bring home pretty snippets and end of bolts adding to my ever growing personal stash.  I set to sorting and folding, a somewhat therapeutic activity, and as you do I started putting together pretty combinations, one light, one dark...perfect pairs in my eyes.  

Before I knew it... a new quilt was in the making...my Perfect Pairs quilt.  The design was simple, pretty hearts appliqued on to a low volume background..... and in less than 2 weeks I had a completed quilt top.   Ok I admit that I did become a little obsessed and this was all I sewed, every evening and every spare moment during that time.  Here's my finished little quilt.........
The intention had been 160 different fabrics..however spot the duplicate heart, which I only noticed once I had sewn the blocks together...this will soon be rectified!!!

My Perfect Pairs quilt measures a sweet 40" x 50".  I had thought before I sewed the rows together that I would add some low volume borders, but in the end I decided I liked it just as it is.  I think Poppy also has eyes on it and is envisaging it as a lap quilt in her bedroom once it's been quilted and bound. 

The nice thing with this is design is its total flexibility, it could be smaller, imagine it as a sweet pram  or crib quilt or indeed larger, by either adding more blocks or adding some pretty borders.

If you fancy making one, here's what I did.....

First off I grabbed the heart template I had made for the heart block in my Penny's Sampler Quilt.... however whilst making this quilt, I decided it would be really great to have an acrylic template...so I soon remedied that and look at these fabulous two part templates I had made......

The templates can be used in various ways depending on your choice of applique.  So for the Interfacing Method, which you can read about HERE or Raw Edge applique you would simply draw around the solid heart template or if you prefer the inner edge on the frame. 

For needle turn, use as above to mark your finished size applique on the fabric and then draw around the outer edge of the frame to give you your 1/4" seam allowance and cutting line.  Personally, I found a 1/4" seam allowance great for this size applique (the heart measures approx 3" wide and tall).  If however you prefer a more scant seam allowance then simply eyeball and cut as required.

Did you also notice the additional guide lines I had etched on the template and the hole in the centre...these are particularly helpful to aide fussy cutting.

For my quilt, I chose to needle turn my appliques, which meant that I could do the whole process sat on the sofa!  I tend to machine sew at the weekends, so that my evenings can be spent with Andy, all be it always with a sewing project on my lap and in my hands.  I'll be sharing  'a little happy' tutorial next week on how I like to needle turn my appliques.

Before moving on and if the thought of needle turn applique fills you with you horror....just to say that on Penny's Sampler, where the heart is exactly the same size..see below... I used the interfacing method, so honestly go with which ever applique method you feel happiest with!!

Once prepped, using my Clover Applique pins, I pinned the hearts to the centre of a perfectly coordinating 6" background square. 

To applique, I used threads to match the colour of my heart fabrics, which were a mix of 50wt and 80wt Aurifil threads.  I have to say 80wt is a dream to applique with and we will be increasing our colour range very soon.  I used a Clover Black Gold applique needle.

To join the hearts, I had originally thought that I would make 4 patches at random and then sew these together to make the quilt top.  However on Saturday, I couldn't resist laying them out to see what they looked like all together.... I went for a 10 rows of 8 heart blocks layout..... 

....I then had a change of plan and decided to stitch them together in rows BUT before doing so, I needed to trim each of the blocks to 5 1/2" square.  Hands up, this is not the most exciting of jobs and yes it's a little bit of a chore...it must be done!  Not only will it help with accurate piecing, it also ensures that the hearts are positioned dead centre.  Just think how annoying it would be if one little heart was out of line...ok so maybe you wouldn't find it annoying but for me with my OCD..no I couldn't cope!

To make life a little bit easier, I marked up my 6 1/2" ruler with washi tape.  I marked up the 5 1/2" finished block size and also a 3" square to indicate the central position of the heart, with an additional drawn line to show the centre point for the top and tip of the heart.
I was then able to place the marked ruler on top of each block, line up the heart, trim away the excess on one side.....
turn the block (or rotate the mat if you have a rotating cutting board like mine ...it's a OLFA one) then reposition the ruler before trimming the remaining two sides....
I estimate that I probably halved the time it took to trim the blocks by taking the extra time to add the tape... so it was well worth it!

Once trimmed I sewed my rows together with a 1/4" seam allowance.  I pressed the seams in alternating directions on each row, which allowed me to nest the seams when I joined the rows together.  I pressed this seam open to reduce bulk.

Nesting the seams really helps with nice matchy corners....

I've chosen a pretty ditsy Sevenberry floral to back my quilt with and of course I want to hand quilt. I'm thinking that I'll use a mix of colours in my favourite Aurifil 12wt to add to the scrappy feel.  I'm planning on quilting around each heart, the same as what I did on the Penny's Sampler block.  I may quilt around the squares too, but I'll wait and see how I feel and how much time I have.

That's a little happy tip by the way..... do the essential quilting so that your quilt is functional, after all that is the purpose of quilting to join together the quilt top, wadding and backing. Then once the essential quilting has been completed go back and add more if you wish!

Sadly, as this was an impromptu project... I don't have the time at the moment to hand quilt, but I'm thinking that this would be a super lovely project to take with me to sew on our family holiday to Yorkshire this May.  I will of course share it with you once completed.
I ended up with some pretty scraps from the 6" squares that I cut my hearts from, so I couldn't resist playing...these are 1" squares finished.  I'm not quite sure what they will become, but sweet aren't they...again I'll keep you posted!!


If you would like to make a Perfect Pairs quilt exactly like mine, mum and I cut some extras and have made up a gorgeous bundle of 160 x 6" squares, half low volume, half a rainbow of colours, all super pretty!

You can find the bundle HERE
There is an option to add an Acrylic Heart Template to your bundle or if you're planning some scrap busting, you can find the template for sale individually HERE
Aurifil Thread is available HERE
Clover Pins and Needles can be found HERE

Thank you to everyone who has already purchased a bundle and /or template from us already, mum and I really do appreciate it!

8 December 2017

English Paper Pieced Christmas Star

Every year I like if possible to make a new Christmas Decoration, last year I made my Tilda Pixies (you can read all about them HERE).  This years decoration, an English Paper Pieced Star...was inspired by one that I made about 20 years ago for a friend who was having a baby boy... it was obviously in a time when you didn't really photograph your sewing makes prior to gifting, so sadly I can not share it, but I remember that it was all baby blue fabrics and at the point of each star I glued in a glass headed pin.  I am assuming that the 'mum to be' did hang it well out of reach of said baby boy!!

I am reliably informed the following by Wikipedia......my Christmas Stars correct geometric name is a Rhombic Hexecontahedron, n geometry, a rhombic hexecontahedron is a stellation of the rhombic triacontahedron. It is nonconvex with 60 golden rhombic faces with icosahedral symmetry. It was discovered in 1940 by Helmut Unkelbach.

In plain English my star has twelve sides made using sixty 2" x 72 degree Diamonds.  I made the individual stars/sides exactly as I would any other English Paper Pieced star (see this A Little Happy Tutorial)....I glue basted and then hand sewed 5 diamonds together to form the 5 point star.  I use 50wt Aurifil Thread in a lovely silver grey #2600 with Clover Black Gold needles size 9.

Obviously time had dimmed the memory of how fiddly this was to make...not  fiddly enough that I won't say never again, but if I were, I would construct it slightly differently... here's what I would do next time.........

When joining the stars together, rather than adding continuously to the 'Mother Star'  I would make up three sections each one comprising of four stars /sides...like that pictured below.....
The reason for this being that I found that as I added further stars /sides the 'Mother Star' structure became increasingly wobbly and consequently more awkward to sew.....

Having thought about this only after I had slowly added eight sides to the 'Mother Star'.  I made the final section of four stars /sides separately and it was noticeably easier to then join these two larger sections together.

Obviously what I haven't mentioned yet but what you can see from the photo's is, that unlike normal English Paper Piecing, I did not remove the papers and the stars / sides were sewn together with Wrong Sides Facing.
I used bakers twine to hang my star...I simply folded aprox 1 metre of twine in half and tied a good size knot near the raw edges.  Then as I sewed my final seam, I slipped the knot inside a point of the star and then sewed up the gap tightly sandwiching the knot inside.

I am so pleased with it and it is amazing how it has gone from a flimsy structure to a very strong one, but obviously light enough to hang from the ceiling with just a drawing pin holding it up.

So in summary although at various points during the making and having said never again...... of course rather predictably, I'm now thinking how sweet a star would be, made with 1" 72 degree papers, but maybe that's an itch I'll have to scratch next year!!


If you feel inspired and would like to make one you will need:

(60) 2" 72 degree diamond papers available HERE (you'll need two packs)
(12) different fabrics, this would be a great scrap buster, alternatively you can find a fat eighth bundle of the 12 fabrics I used HERE
Bakers Twine to hang, I used THIS ONE
Thread to sew together, I used THIS ONE
My favourite needles are Clover Black Golds available HERE

I hope that you are finding a moment to enjoy some festive Happy Stitches!  See you next time!

29 November 2017

Introducing our NEW Block of the Month Club ~ Penny's Sampler

I'm so excited today to finally reveal what I've been working on over the last couple of months........our brand new Block of the Month Club 'Penny's Sampler'    I have had so much fun making this quilt, it was such a joy choosing all the pretty fabrics.  I used my favourite mix of low volumes, choosing text prints, blenders, dots and solids from across the shop.  The stars of the show however are a gorgeous rainbow of Tilda fabrics from various collections, including the up coming Lemon Tree due to arrive in the shop in early January.

As with my previous Block of the Month quilts, I used a range of techniques including English paper piecing, machine piecing and pretty hand drawn applique blocks and combined some of my favourite traditional blocks with some unique ones I created for the quilt.

Here's a little close up of some of the blocks.......

Having learn't my lesson from my original Block of the Month design 'A Little Happy Year' where I am still only half way through quilting....by the way I am planning on releasing this as a pattern book in 2018.... I made sure that Penny's Sampler was quilted and bound before I shared her!!

As usual I decided to hand quilt in my favourite Aurifil 12wt, I used a super charcoal grey #2630 ... I'm so pleased with how by using the charcoal it has added so much extra to the design.  I am tempted to maybe add a few more stitches over Christmas...
Penny's Sampler is going to be a 12 month Block of the Month club.  So each month starting in January, you will receive a gorgeous parcel full of loveliness directly through your letterbox.  This will include all the fabrics and if required, English Paper Pieces and/or applique templates for you to sew that months section of the quilt, plus of course detailed instructions for how to piece the block will also be included.   At the end of the year you will have will have received enough pretty fabric and instructions to make your very own 'Penny's Sampler' Quilt Top. 

For more detailed information and to sign up click on the link below, which will take you to our website

P.S. If you're wondering where the name for the quilt came from, when I first showed my design to mum, drawn out the traditional way with a pencil, ruler and graph paper .... mum quickly said that she loved it and claimed it for herself...hence Penny's Sampler!

Whilst talking Block of the Months...did you hear ...... 'A Little Happy Christmas' is back!

We received so many requests, we decided to run our popular 'A Little Happy Christmas' 9 Month Block of the Month club again in 2018!  

For more detailed information and to sign up, click on the link below

Phew....so much news!  I hope that you love the quilts as much as I do!  Any questions as always, please do get in touch!

Happy Stitches!

10 November 2017

A Little Happy Sew Along ~ Advent Calendar ~ Finishing Touches

Welcome back to the final instalment of the A Little Happy Sew Along to make the Advent Calendar I designed.  You can read the introduction post HERE.  Here's a recap of what we have done so far.....in week 1, we cut out all the different fabrics and trims required, we then embroidered the 'Christmas Countdown' panel and the little numbers for the pockets and prepared them for adding to the calendar.  In week 2, we added all the trims to the individual pockets and sewed them together.  In week 3 we pieced the front of the Advent Calendar.  This week we'll be adding all the finishing touches!

BEFORE STARTING Always Remember to:

1. Read all instructions before you begin.
2. RST means right sides together.
3. All seam allowances are 1/4”.
4. FWOF means width of fabric.
5. If you need any help, please do get in touch!

Lets Get Stitching

This week, you will need:

Fabric F -  Backing Fabric
Fabric A - Binding
Ribbon Ties

First off you will need to layer up your backing fabric / wadding / Advent Calendar.  The wadding and backing fabric, should be slightly larger, about an inch all round, than the Calendar front.  For convenience, I normally use a basting spray.  For more information on making a quilt sandwich, take a peek at THIS BLOG POST.

Next you need to add some quilting to hold the layers together.  I chose to hand quilt using Aurifil 12wt in a complimentary colour.

I added a line of quilting around the edge of the Christmas Countdown panel and then added a large button to the corner, which I hand tied.....I love doing this on items that are decorative!

I then added a line of stitches below each of the rows of pockets....

Once you've finished hand quilting, trim away the excess wadding and backing fabric.

I chose to hang the calendar using ribbon ties.  For these, you need two pieces of ribbon approx 40cm (15 1/2") each.  Fold the ribbon in half, then place the folded edge against the top edge on the back of the calendar.  I lined these up with my quilting stitches around the 'Christmas Countdown' panel.  Just a little note for the observant ones...you will see that I didn't bury my finishing knot at the end of my hand quilting stitches.....I must admit that I don't tend too do so on items like this, that are going to be hung against something....obviously I would on a quilt or if the back side was going to be on display!!!  

For added strength, add a couple rows of machine stitches to hold the ribbons in place, approx 1/8" from the edge, for neatness, you want these 'holding' stitches to be concealed under the binding.

Finally all that is left to do is to add the binding.  I always machine my bindings on to the front and then hand sew the back.  For a detailed 'a little happy tutorial' for how I do this, take a peek HERE.
That's it....you should now have a very special homemade Advent Calendar ready for use this Christmas and I hope that it becomes part of your family tradition for many years to come.

Please remember, so that mum and I can follow your progress, if you're sewing along and sharing on social media please use the hashtags:

#alittlehappysewalong or/and #prettyfabricsandtrims

Thank you so much for sewing along!

Happy Stitches!

3 November 2017

A Little Happy Sew Along ~ Advent Calendar ~ Piecing the Front

Welcome back for week 3 of the A Little Happy Sew Along to make the Advent Calendar I designed.  You can read the introduction post HERE.  Here's a recap of what we have done so far.....in week 1,  we cut out all the different fabrics and trims required, we then embroidered the 'Christmas Countdown' panel and the little numbers for the pockets and prepared them for adding to the calendar.  In week 2, we added all the trims to the individual pockets and sewed them together.   This week we'll be piecing the front of the Advent Calendar together.  

BEFORE STARTING Always Remember to:

1. Read all instructions before you begin.
2. RST means right sides together.
3. All seam allowances are 1/4”.
4. FWOF means width of fabric.
5. If you need any help, please do get in touch!

Lets Get Stitching

This week, you will need:

Fabric B - Front Top
Fabric D - Linen Front
The 'Christmas Countdown' panel (from week 1)
(4) Rows of pockets (from week 2)

First off you position the pockets on to the Fabric D Linen Front, using the photo below as a guide.  (Don't worry if your gaps in between the pockets are ever so slightly different!!)  

Sew the pockets to the linen front along the bottom edge.  You want to try and get this line of stitching as close to the edge of the pockets as possible....

Now 'stitch in the ditch' in between each of the pockets.  Make sure you sew from the bottom all the way to the top of each pocket.  This will prevent any wrinkles in your pockets!

A few little happy tips for a neat finish...... 
  • When stitching in the ditch...which basically means that you are going to stitch on top of the seam line of where you joined the pocket fabrics together....I find it helpful to pull the fabrics apart slightly on both sides of the seam as I sew.  Traditionally to help hide the stitches you would use a thread that best matches your fabrics.....as my fabrics were a mix of red and off white, I stuck with Aurifil 50wt #2311 that was in my machine.
  • Make sure you do a couple of backwards and forward stitches at the beginning and end, so that the pockets are nice and secure.
  • Also allow a healthy amount of thread at either end and if like me you have an auto scissors on your machine DO NOT use it.  This is one of those cases when you need to have enough thread to be able to pull it through to the back and knot...leaving the front with no loose ends showing!

Next sew the Fabric B Front to the top of the Linen/Pocket Front, press the stitches to 'set them' then press the seam open.

Sew the lace trim across the seam and then add the ribbon on top.  I did this on my machine, but feel free to hand sew if you prefer! (Sorry I forgot to photograph this step!)  Finally, position the 'Christmas Countdown' Panel centrally 1" above the ribbon/lace.  Whip stitch in place.

That's it for this week, next time in the final week, we'll be adding all the finishing touches!

Please remember, so that mum and I can follow your progress, if you're sewing along and sharing on social media please use the hashtags:

#alittlehappysewalong or/and #prettyfabricsandtrims

Thank you for sewing along!

Happy Stitches!