15 September 2014

Fat Quarter Style Book Winner!

Annnnnd… the lucky winner of the fabulous Fat Quarter Style book giveaway was...


Congratulations Two Wednesdays! I have emailed you! wohooo, happy Monday indeed!


Thank you to all that entered, remember you can purchase the book here if you still wanted a copy. Have a great day friends, EPP blog series will resume next monday, sorry! It's been a busy weekend. xo

8 September 2014

English Paper Piecing Basics: Week 5 // Curves + Clamshell Tutorial

This week I'm going to hopefully take the fear out of English Paper Piecing curves! There are endless design opportunities to be had when using curved EPP shapes; they are ideal for appliquéing to a larger quilt design or using them in quilt borders. I'm particularly taken by this and this vintage clamshell quilts, so let's try and overcome this so called 'daunting' method so we can recreate beauties like those shall we!? 

Some of the popular curved EPP shapes include; clamshells, apple cores, Dresden's, circles and hearts - all of which feature one of more curved edges. 

Today we're going to be looking at clamshells, which are a great shape to get started with if you haven't tried curves before - because they feature both inner and outer curves. 

Ok let's begin. So for this tutorial I'm using the Paper Pieces 3" clamshell shape. Start by cutting multiple squares that are roughly 1/4" bigger than your paper pieces template. Stack 4 layers together and cut around the shape leaving enough room for turning over.




I'm going to show you the two main methods for basting curves, glueing and hand sewing.  This is where the nifty little Sewline glue pen is a real timesaver! 






Place a dot of glue on the paper template and press onto the fabric to secure. 

Swipe your glue pen from one side of the outer curve. 

Swipe the glue halfway across the curve and begin pulling down the fabric - be firm when you turn the fabric over to avoid bumps and pleats showing through on the other side. 

Glue across the other half of the curve and pull down the remaining fabric. You will notice pleats to the back of the shape, this is fine - you need these to ease around the curved edge. 

Volia! A nice smooth curve, aaaaand you only need to baste the outer curve, how easy was that?! 

OK. So if you don't have a glue pen and fancy trying it the traditional method - this is how;

Grab a couple of paper clips to hold your template to the fabric in place. Take a length of thread, knot the end. 

Take a running stitch from one side of the outer curve - close the the edge of the fabric. 

Gently tug on the thread to pull the fabric over the template shape. 

Carry on sewing until you reach the other side and pull taut. Take a 3 or 4 stay stitches to secure. This method I find is a little fiddlier, but also gives good results. You may want to press the edge to help keep the seam flat. 

So once you have made enough clamshell shapes for your desired design (mine is going to be x5 wide). Take two, and place right sides together. Find the point at the side of the paper template - make sure they are both lined up precisely as this will make your sewing a lot easier down the line! Thread your needle, knot the end and take 3 very small stay stitches to join your shapes together, tie off. 

TIP: Join your points together in sets of two, it will be easier than a whole line of them, and will avoid over-handling them. 

Now we've done our first row of clamshells we want to add them to a background fabric. Cut a piece at least 1/2" wider on each side than your finished row and at least 1" wider on the top and bottom.

Press the backing fabric in half lengthwise, this will be our measuring guide to line up the top of the clamshells. But first we have to remove the paper templates!

To remove the paper templates, just give it a little tug and slide out. You can see above the traditional hand sewing method clamshells keep their shape perfectly, whereas the glue pen method are a little stretched - just give them those a little press with the iron. 

Take some quilting appliqué glue with a fine nozzle and dab some very small dots around the edge. 

Lay the clamshells to line up with the pressed line. 

Now you need to appliqué the shapes to the backing fabric. Following along the top scalloped line, run small appliqué stitches - we'll cover this in more detail on our 'EPP finishing week' ;-)

Once you've appliquer the whole row we can add the next row...

With the next row I'm making a set of 4 clamshells because my first row was 5. (The next row will be 5 and then 4 and so on). 

Place some dots of glue on the back edge as we did before. 

Line up the row so they just cover the tacking stitches we did to join the shapes together. Make sure they are nice and straight to carry on neat rows all the way down.  

Applique this row and continue again until you have the finished size you need! 

See, not too difficult at all is it? I hope this helped you. See you next week for more English Paper Piecing fun!

4 September 2014

Fat Quarter Style Book Giveaway!

Hello, hello! I'm back in today to share 'It's Sew Emma's' second book offering; Fat Quarter Style. Fat Quarter Shop have generously offered me a free copy for a lucky blog reader. 

It does exactly what it says on the tin, it's all about fat quarter style! There are 12 fat quarter quilt patterns included, all of which have 4 size options; crib, lap, twin (single for us U.K. folk), and queen (I think that's a double to us, right?). It's a great little book with some really eye-catching designs, a lot of them seem to follow this super-size block trend which I love so I think it would make a fantastic book for beginners - and the more seasoned quilters ;-)

I have a lot of wedding planning and 'secret' deadlines at the moment, so I don't have the time to make one of these fabulous quilts right now, but I for sure have 'Tapestry' (image above) on my list! I think this is my favourite pattern from the book. Wouldn't it look so great made up in some Bonnie & Camille fabrics!? April Showers collection, maybe? Oh, maybe even just one block and turn it into a mini quilt for my sewing room! ahh! Must.Resist.

'Raindrops' is another great pattern which caught my eye, quite different to my usual style but I'd love to make this up in a fun 1930s solid colour palette. Cool huh? 'Primrose' is a cute design too, it reminds me something Lori Holt would make :-)


Talking of which, if you have either of Lori's books you will notice the same layout and instructions for making each pattern as they're brought to you by the same publishing house - It's Sew Emma / Fat Quarter Shop. So you can expect very, very clear instructions, diagrams and cutting information just like Lori's - which I completely love so this makes me very happy!


Fat quarters are my favourite pre-cut size so it's great to have this book on hand and know I will definitely have the yardage required for a project. Wouldn't you love to have this on your bookshelf too? Yes? OK. Here's what you have to do.

How To Enter

Drop me a comment on this post below telling me; what's your favourite pre-cut size? Examples: FQ, half-yard, charm pack, jelly roll, mini charm packs, layer cakes? 

Follow the blog (if you aren't already!); On Bloglovin or you can find me on Instagram @messyjesse1

This is open internationally, I'm willing to send anywhere! Competition will close Thursday 11th September and the winner will be announced on the blog Friday 12th September.

3 September 2014

English Paper Piecing Basics: Week 4 // Matching Shapes + Pattern

One of the great things about English paper piecing is being able to match a variety of different shapes together - just like a jigsaw, to create endless possibilities for design. So that's what we're going to focus on today, and the best way to do that is grab a bunch of EPP shapes and have a play around!

This is a design I've been working on recently. I'm calling it the #HexagonSpiralQuilt! It's a really fun design which finishes up in a completed hexagon shape so you can easily create multiple blocks and fit together ;-) This block uses 2" hexagons, 2" equilateral triangles and 2" 6-pointed diamonds.

I won't go into detail of what shapes match what, as I discovered the Paper Pieces website have already done all the hard work! You can find the table here. Instead I thought I would share with you a few pattern ideas for you to try. 




One of the questions I was asked at the beginning of this series was how to deal with tight corners and 'inset seams'. I think I best explained the technical side in this post using diamonds, which follows the same principles. If you struggle with them my best advise is to practice, practice, practice! and try to plan out your route of sewing before diving straight in realising you've left yourself with some tricky inset seams which sometimes can sometimes be avoided. For example, take my Seven Sisters epp project I'm working on. This may look like I had some very deep seams to meet ...

… in fact it was quite simple to piece. I joined my stars just as you see in this picture below. 

Though the fun thing about EPP is there are no 'rules' for sewing sequence, unlike regular machine piecing where blocks are made in stages and a predetermined sequence. So there is no wrong way to sew your designs together! 


TIP: A general rule is to remove the paper piece templates as soon as that piece is surrounded by sewn units on all sides. This allows you to manipulate the block easier when you are adding more shapes. Though there's no harm in leaving them in while you work, if you have enough papers!


How to remove the papers? Easy. Press your block so it's nice and flat to help set everything in place. Turn your block over and pop the papers out with the edge of your finger - nails are great for this! Using the Sewline glue pen can sometimes be a little trickier to remove the paper, so make sure your block is pressed well to keep their shape. If you punch holes in your paper templates, as I recommended on this post you can just pull out the papers with a crochet hook or tweezers! If they're a real nightmare to remove, you may have used too much glue. 


If you're careful when you remove them, you can definitely re-use your shapes again and again. I like to give mine a quick press to iron out the creases and put them under a heavy book to stop them curving from the heat of the iron. 


The Lucy Boston Patchwork Of The Crosses quilt is a fantastic design which has become popular to make again in recent years. I know this because lots of my Sew and Quilt customer's are making it! :-) It's got some tight corner's to meander so it's not the easiest of EPP designs, but oh so beautiful! You can make up the entire design in 1" honeycombs and 1" squaresIf you don't have the book, I found this free tutorial for the Patchwork Of The Crosses quilt, with diagrams for the 3 basic blocks that make up the quilt and full instructions! Below, is a simple sewing sequence guide on completing the main block for the quilt. The method of joining the pieces allows for lots of continuous stitching. This way you won't have to break threads and start from a new section so often, which will speed up the joining process.

Of course, I forgot to photograph the initial stages of putting the centre piece together, so hopefully the diagram with the sewing sequence in numerical order will help. (1) Sew the centre pieces in pairs, and (2) join together to form the X shape (just like we did with the diamonds to make a star shape here). (3) Add the corners, sewing them in a right angle. 


Sew the next 4 pairs together, and join to the main section. 

Repeat and sew the final 4 pairs together and join to the block. 

You may also find that row by row assembly is a more practical to piece. It's a speedy route if you are doing tessellation design. Such as this hexagon flower which will be set on a plain background.

I hope this guide has helped you, and perhaps inspired you! Next week - on time! ;-) We'll be covering curves. See you then!  

22 August 2014

Moda Modern Building Blocks Quilt Pattern

Hi friends! Just wanted to stop by super quickly and remind you all (if you didn't know already) the *completely, and utterly fabulous* Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt pattern is due in very soon (as in; arriving with my U.K. supplier on Wednesday next week, yay! Finger's crossed it will be with me on Friday!). You can pre-order it here in my Sew and Quilt shop



I ordered this as soon as I saw it popping up all over Instagram from Quilt Market earlier this Summer. It's such a show-stopper, I can't wait to start on it! Must get a bunch of secret sewing projects out the way first then I'll be making a start ;-) Apologies for not posting this week's EPP Basics Summer Series post on Monday, I've not had a moment this week. Posting will resume Monday! Have a great weekend guys. xo