Foundation Paper Piecing

 

20170209_084530-2 My favorite, so far!

As mentioned in my last post, quilting has become one of my very favorite pastimes. One of the new skills I have been working on is foundation paper piecing. It creates perfect points and is like working a puzzle (something else I like). Well, it is like working a puzzle only backwards!

There are many tutorials available online (linked here is a free tutorial from Craftsy), so I am not going to try to teach you anything new here, just give you a few pointers and hints from my growing experience.

  1. Start with a simple pattern! Getting the hang of when to place the pattern and fabric right side together or not is the first thing to understand. It requires that backward thinking at first…at least for me. Again, this link (Craftsy) is a very simple straight-forward and basic pattern. You can find lots of free patterns online too. Check out Pinterest.
  2. Selecting solid fabrics can help. In the beginning, selecting solid-colored fabrics will help, as it makes no difference about right side out or in. That said, you will still have to learn to deal with prints at some point, so perhaps mix in a couple of them in your early work.20170201_114708
  3. More on fabrics…be sure to use preshrunk cottons. If they shrink after the fact, or even as you press them, you will be very unhappy.
  4. Don’t try to scrimp on the fabric too much…especially when you are learning. I hate to waste and I am cheap, but it is very disappointing to find that you have stitched your seam and the fabric does not cover the area required. You will get better as you practice! Then you can try to save!
  5. About specialty fabrics and fussy cutting…this is fun and works on many paper-piecing patterns. However, be sure to THINK and rethink your plan and placement. I find that the first piece is the easiest to fussy cut. When you hold your pattern and fabric to the light, you will easily be able to see where your design will fall in that first section.  20170208_123210-2
  6. Learn to LOVE your seam ripper! That sounds intimidating, I know. I hate to rip out and would often prefer to start over, but you will very likely make some mistakes. I would hate to think that I am the only one!
  7. In order to avoid the seam ripper though, think before you stitch! You have heard “measure twice, cut once”…well, this calls for hold it up, look at it three times, fold it back to get a rough idea, think again, then sew.
  8. Speaking of sewing those seams…a tiny stitch is recommended so that the paper will be perforated well and tear off easily. I use a setting of 1.5 on my machine. That will vary with different machines, but that trusty seam ripper barely fits into those helpful tiny stitches. I have tried other longer stitch lengths and the smaller ones do tear off more easily. However, I suggest that you start out with a bit larger stitch in the early stages and go smaller as your confidence grows.
  9. More about the seams…most quilting directions do not encourage you to back stitch at the beginning and end of seams. This is just my opinion (and I don’t always do it), but if you secure the beginning and end of the seam with a fix stitch or even one back stitch, it can help when you tear off the paper. You see, the tearing process can cause some of your stitches to come out and when you are working with 1/4″ or scant 1/4″ seams, there is not much room for error. It also bears consideration about the possibility of ripping out…securing the ends of the seams can make that more difficult too. On more detailed patterns, some of the seams might only be about 1/2″, so if you lose any of those stitches, your seam is almost gone!
  10. More on seams…trim as you go. Where the layers build up the project can get quite thick, so carefully trim your seams to 1/4″, as you go. CAREFULLY! Again, this is backward thinking, so don’t cut off the part that will fold back to be the finished pattern! I have done it! That requires ripping out AND redoing!
  11. About the paper. I can’t tell you much here. Let’s face it, as I said, I am cheap, so I use printer paper. It IS thicker and does not tear as easily. You can purchase special papers for this at around $10 per pack of 25 sheets. I will probably do that the next time I can take advantage of a sale. Some quilters mention using freezer paper. The more detail in the pattern and the smaller the pieces, the more this matters.
  12. How to finish these items? I am getting a collection of paper-pieced goodies and have not decided what to do with them yet. They can be used in any way you would use fabric. They are typically quilted…think blocks, wall hangings, table runners, place mats, hot pads, mug rugs…the list is endless. If you are particularly crafty, you might use them to embellish bags, clothing, and more.

Finishing with some simple hand embroidery is also fun and adds interest.

Another saying that applies here is “slow and steady wins the race”! If you are considering trying foundation paper piecing, I do encourage you to give it a go. It is fun and once you get it, you may be just as hooked as I am!

Have you already tried it? What was your outcome?

(all images ©Valorie Webster; patterns not mine)

 

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Recent Project

Have you crafters out there ever tried the magazine (or newspaper) page bowls? That was our craft on a recent Tuesday, craft day for the Sew Mates!

You can Google the subject for many different tutorials on how to go about it. We opted for the roll-up version. I used heavy, shiny magazine pages and my friend, JudeMadeIt, used newspaper. Thought we would compare the two.

Between deciding which tut to follow and getting going, not much progress was made on this in the Tuesday morning craft session…

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Let me first say that this was tedious, not to mention a bit painful if you have arthritis in your hands. I left it sit there to mull over how far I really wanted to go with this trial.

20160120_083901.jpg I had sort of an ah-ha moment, based on reading several different concepts. I thought, “Ok, not really loving this, so I will try using the basket-weave technique just to say I did it”…finished it…because I hate to give up! Can you see this beginning to fail?

Sooooo…back to the wrapping way, but this time I decided to fold the pages, rather than roll them, which I had thought would be easier. Folding was much better, so I kept at it.

 

I rolled and rolled, folded and folded. Only one time did the whole thing spring apart…wish I had taken a picture of that, but I was just so frustrated! Yes, hating to fail, I rewound it all!

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It won’t surprise you to hear that I decided a SMALL bowl would be great for this trial! In the picture above you can see that I have used the ever-useful binder clips to raise the outer edges as I begin to shape the bowl. Heaven knows, I was taking this in baby steps so as not to have the whole thing unwind again. I was also gluing it as I went and discovered I really like the gel glue.

The following picture is after a couple of days of SLOOOWLY shaping the bowl.

20160123_121423.jpg Not quite finished, but it is coming along and I am actually liking it! Could be a cute little hat now…tee hee!

It is finally shaped and ready for the Mod Podge to finish it off…

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This part is easy and (in addition to all the glue I used) makes a very sturdy vessel. Aren’t the colors fun? I decided I would like it better with glossy Mod Podge, but had only matte on hand. That’s okay.

This project had a happy ending. The bowl ended up 6″ wide at the top and almost 4″ tall. Plenty big for a test and good for stashing keys, little things on the desk, etc. The question is, will I do it again? Remains to be seen. I am happy with the outcome though and as usual, glad I didn’t give up.

My friend may not have finished hers yet. She is off doing other things, as am I. Never just one project going. So, I can’t compare notes on the newsprint vs. magazine paper. I can say that I used a very high-quality, colorful magazine and the pages were heavy, which may have made it more difficult to roll, yet more sturdy. I also didn’t have newsprint-stained fingers like she did. If I do it again, I will try to find magazine pages that are a bit lighter weight…AND I might try some painting and lacquering of the finished bowl, like some I have seen online. For now, I am happy with this fun little piece.

What is your latest attempt at something new and how did it go?

 

Jars, Junk or Just Great?

IMG_0658This is an empty jar!  It is a very nice jar though. Bet you expected me to say it was full of something. It was a candle, which I actually bought because of the jar. (I really didn’t like the candle wick…one of those wood wicks that is supposed to sound like a real fire…I digress, that is another story.)

I think this jar with the wooden lid is just waiting for some exciting contents to start filling it up! Now, some would say that saving jars is ridiculous and that filling them is even worse…maybe close to hoarding. I, on the other hand, say “phooey” to them!

button jarThis jar holds buttons. I thought this was quite a cool jar too, so I saved it, of course. You can see that the top is sitting ajar (no pun intended), as it is full, so maybe the empty jar will hold more buttons. Probably not.

cork jarThis rescued jar (also a candle jar) holds wine corks…for now. These are just from this month and this baby is almost full, so the corks will be moving to some BIG jar I am on the lookout to find. And no, I am not a wino!!!

So, why save jars and fill them up? Well, one reason is just to recycle. We need to be kind to our planet! Another reason is because they look so neat when filled and could be décor pieces that speak to your interests. Then there is the fact that I am a crafter and keep all kinds of stuff that I MIGHT want to use later. (I often times do use that stuff too!)

So, the next time you think about getting rid of an empty jar, think of me. Or better yet, think of some cool thing you could use it for…shells, matches, bottle caps, yarn scraps, rocks, screws, nuts, bolts, the possibilities are endless!

And one last little thought…you know another thing that makes me really happy when I find a jar I love? A manufacturer that uses labels that peel off easily! (Maybe that will be another post too…how to get those pesky labels off.)

Happy collecting…jars, junk or just great stuff!!! Thanks for listening to my ramblings. What do you think?