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Wisecraft Handstitched English Paper Piecing Pillow

My finished English paper piecing pillow

After a long day at work, picking the kiddo up from daycare, fixing dinner and doing the dishes…I like to relax by doing English Paper Piecing.  I started my EPP journey before Gemma was born by sewing up La Passacaglia (pattern by Willyne Hammerstein).  I’d pick my fabrics in the morning before I went to work (this was when I was still teaching high school), then when I got home, I’d cut the fabrics out as quickly as I could, make dinner, etc., then start glue stick basting all the papers on the couch.  I’d organize all my rosettes into little zip lock baggies so I could just grab and go.  I also had color coded templates I made so I wouldn’t get my little papers confused.  I’d throw a prepped ziplock into my purse when I knew I’d be travelling with students and had some time alone at the hotel at night and sew when I had a chance.  That project really hooked me into EPP.

Fast forward to now…I sew full time and any extra time in the morning is spent prepping for the day’s work ahead.  Now I have a sweet & sour toddler who demands most of my extra time in the evenings, and I’m so wiped after she goes to bed that the last thing I want to do is think about anything.  That is…until I got Blair Stocker’s Wisecraft Quilts book.  It’s such an organically creative book about repurposing and it really pulls at my creative heartstrings.

Wise Craft Quilts
Wise Craft Quilts

There’s an EPP project in Blair’s book called “Handstitched” that made me fall in love with English Paper Piecing all over again.  It’s a project I was confident I could complete, even with my never ending checklist and a needy toddler.  If you’re so inclined, you can pick up a paper template kit from Blair’s website HERE.  (Full disclosure-none of these are affiliate links.  I don’t get anything out of you making a purchase other than the satisfaction of knowing you’ll love this project as much as I do!)  Below is a picture from Blair’s book of the project and my beginning planning phase of the EPP.  Anytime I do EPP, I always sketch out a “map” of the project with a key for what fabric goes where.  I can’t ever remember what my original plan is without writing it down!

Handstitched EPP planning
Handstitched EPP planning

You can see in the finished/progress pictures that I didn’t end up using some of my fabric selections.  I’m a die hard Anna Maria Horner lover, and I ended up mainly using one print of hers that I’m a sucker for fussy cutting.  There’s so much going on in the pattern of that one fabric that you can basically fussy cut it all over and get dozens of different looks.

Handstitched step 1
Handstitched step 1

I started by assembling the center with my fussy cut pieces.

Handstitched step 2
Handstitched step 2

I absolutely LOVE incorporating stripes and straight lines into EPP.  I’m always surprised by the outcome.  See above.

Handstitched step 3
Handstitched step 3

There’s just something about those dull gold and maroons working with that magenta and mint that make them almost glow.

Spray basting onto my pillow front
Spray basting onto my pillow front

So I decided this project would be a perfect throw pillow.  Once I started it, I knew I needed to see this EPP on a daily basis and not just hanging out in my sewing studio.  I grabbed my favorite spray baste and cut a pillow front a little larger than it needed to be finished so I could quilt it as well.  I used Chaco liner to mark the pillow front into quarters to easily find the center and centered the English Paper Piecing piece on the pillow front.  After I used just a smidge of spray baste, I hand appliqued it to the fabric (also AMH fabric-loominous).  All while sitting on my cozy couch with the husband 🙂

applique
Appliqueing the EPP to the pillow front

I used Wonderfil 100 wt. thread to hand stitch.  I quilted some simple straight lines on the pillow front to add a little texture.  The Loominous fabric already has a grid motif on it, so I only did straight lines one way to save me some time.

Quilting
Quilting

 

My finished EPP pillow
My finished EPP pillow

I could have just stitched up the project and made a mini out of it, but we’re a pillow household.  I love how you have to really look at the center to see the English Paper Piecing template shapes.  The stripes really break it up and make you have to search for it.  I’m really hoping to start another of these soon once I get some other projects off my plate because it is so enjoyable to sew.  I put a lot of thought and even auditioned some of the fabrics before I started sewing, but you could just as easily make a scrappy version that would look outstanding as well.  I believe Blair’s version in the book is all Liberty (insert all the heart-eyed emojis here!!!).

Basically, I love this project.  I can sit my fanny on the couch and relax while my fingers do all the work.  And it makes me still feel like I’m being productive (while not actually having to do anything strenuous).  Win-win, right!?

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Sewing for littles – Superhero cape and mask tutorial

If you’re on the hunt for a sweet project to keep your little super hero busy this summer, pick up some satin and felt and sew up this easy superhero cape and mask.  I used the Janome MC9400 to put this project together, and you can find the full tutorial HERE.

This isn’t a difficult project, and you can practice some basic applique skills to put a great finishing touch on it.  Personalize this project with your kiddo’s favorite colors to really make this project pop!

This tutorial was made for approximately 3T-5T.  The mask will fit larger children as well.

My best friend allowed me to have her precious little girl model this for me, and you can tell she’s ready to take on the world 🙂  Happy sewing!

 

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Summer Picnic Quilt

Summer Picnic Quilt tutorial

When summer arrives, I always get the itch to make a quilt.  Nevermind the fact that I live in Texas and it is sweltering, to say the least.  Also, disregard the fact that I have quilts coming out of my ears…what is that saying…you can’t swing a cat without hitting a quilt?  (Surely that isn’t the saying, but I think you catch my drift!)  So when I am thinking about making a new quilt…I need to have a reason for it, aside from just being functional to keep you warm.  I also love to sew with materials that are a little unexpected.  So I teamed up with Janome and American Quilter’s Society to bring you a free tutorial for a great summer picnic quilt.

This pattern is great for many reasons.  It’s layer cake friendly, which makes it a super quick sew.  The blocks are large enough to feature those great prints you’ve been holding on to for a special quilt.  The quilt is large enough to accommodate a family picnic at the park.  The backing can be made from laminated cotton (or regular quilting cotton, if you choose), so it won’t pick up dirt as easily as standard quilting cotton.  You can just as easily throw it in the wash as you can a regular quilt (line dry to be on the safe side).  So grab two layer cake packs and your favorite sewing and quilting notions and get ready to sew your socks off!  Follow the link to the American Quilter’s Society blog to get started on your picnic quilt.  

This is a great quilt to fold up and keep in the back of the car for unexpected outings (and if you have a little one in diapers, you can always use the laminated cotton side as a quick changing station on the go!).  

I quilted this with some large meandering loops on my Janome MC9400, and was done with the quilting in under two hours.  


Since the back of my quilt uses laminated cotton, I slipped a Supreme Slider onto the bed of the sewing machine and it really helped glide the fabric easily under the needle.  This isn’t something you have to do, but it certainly makes the task a little easier.  I tend to use one anytime I’m quilting something larger than a mini quilt.  Put on your favorite podcast/Netflix and get ready to sew up a storm!  Happy sewing 🙂 

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Summer fun and a DIY first aid kit

DIY first aid kit
Now that summer is here, many people are planning day outings or vacations with the kiddos.  It’s a good idea to have a first aid kit with you in case something happens, and I know I haven’t even kept one in my car (I’m learning, though!).  So this pattern has a free zipper pouch tutorial and a free foundation paper piecing tutorial in it.  Two for the price of one! But not really, because they’re both free 😉  Head over to the AQS Blog and get your free tutorial HERE!

finished foundation block

If you don’t feel like messing around with the band aid block and the paper piecing, you can totally skip that part and just cut two slid pieces of fabric for the front and back.  But those little band aids are so cute!  

I filled my little kit up with band aids, some antiseptic spray and wipes, bandage tape, gauze, and antibiotic ointment.  You can personalize yours however you’d like and maybe sew up an extra one for a friend (or for dad’s car).  The little band aids are a great way to use up small scraps of fabric.  I know I have a hard time throwing any fabric away, so I’ll keep this block pattern close at hand for teacher gifts or whatever!  Happy sewing until next time!

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Quilting on unconventional fabrics – Quilted Notebook bag tutorial

Happy, happy 4th of July!  I hope you’re able to enjoy the holiday with your loved ones and make some great memories.  

Today, I’m excited to share a free tutorial that I created with the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400 for an awesome project bag.  I’m always scouring the house for bags to load up with notebooks, sketch pads, folders, or whatever I’m currently working on to squeeze in a few extra minutes of work on the go, and this bag has a little extra depth to really protect all those items.  It’s also reversible, so you can make one side to go with the fall season and the other a little brighter to work with spring and summer!

Reversible Notebook Bag

Plus…we’ll take a look at quilting on a thicker fabric than your usual quilting cotton.  I do a lot of quilting and embroidery on leather and faux leather fabrics, and there is a lot of hesitation when it comes to that from some.  When I started sewing, I didn’t take a bunch of classes…rather, I just dove in and experimented to find what worked for me.  I didn’t have anyone there to tell me I shouldn’t try something, or that it wouldn’t work, so I think that was a huge benefit.  For this tutorial, break out that walking foot (or your free motion foot) and try your hand at some geometric quilting.  

Janome Dual Feed Foot quilting geometric lines on faux leather

If you haven’t tried quilting on leather or faux leather before, I’d recommend getting a few scraps of some cheap faux leather–my local Joann’s has lots of remnants on clearance that I grab whenever I can–and do some quick samples.  I usually do my best work on “trash” fabric when there’s no pressure to mess up expensive fabrics.  I’ll make sure my pieces are big enough to make a little cosmetic bag or something with later on, because 9 times out of 10, I end up wishing I could save my sample!  

This really is a quick sew–and you can easily alter the bag measurements to make the bag any size you like, upgrade it to add some pockets on the interior and exterior, or whatever your needs are.  Check out the full tutorial on the American Quilter’s Society Blog and have fun with it!  Go and conquer your fears of quilting on some different fabrics, and happy sewing!

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Gifts for mom – the generational pillow

A few weeks ago around Mother’s Day, I was contemplating what handmade gifts would be truly appreciated by mom.  As a new mom, I was excited to celebrate my first mother’s day, but didn’t really care about getting any gift (I honestly wanted some house chores done as a gift, and maybe some honey-do’s!), so I was thinking about gifts with meaning.  I was seeing lots of advertisements on social media for jewelry and diamonds and just lots of STUFF.  I’m not much of a jewelry person, but the diamonds got me thinking about birthstones and some of the jewelry I had seen a few years ago.  I remembered one of my friends receiving a ring that had her kids’ birthstones set in it, and how much she loved it.  How could you translate that representation into a quilt?  And how many people have time to whip up a “quick” quilt, by the time they are pondering mother’s day gifts?

I thought a decorative pillow for the couch or bed might be more practical and manageable on a short time frame.  So I teamed up with Janome to create a generational pillow that would be a great design for using the birthstone jewelry idea and making something for the home.  You can view the free tutorial on the Janome Projects Website

I used the Janome Horizon Memory Craft 9400QCP to sew this project, and sewing the curves was a breeze.  I’m completely spoiled by this machine and will be hard pressed to sew on anything else ever again.  It even has an additional light that you can pull out for a better lit area when sewing.  It’s extremely helpful, especially if you are sewing dark fabrics and using dark thread.  Another favorite perk from this machine is that when you stop sewing, the needle remains in the down position.  Which is absolute heaven when you are sewing anything tricky that you don’t want to shift too much when the presser foot is lifted.  
In the free tutorial, there are three options for the pattern–you can select birthstone colors for 3, 4, or 5 people (or even more-but you’ll have to do the math for that on you own 😉
If you have a couple of people with the same birthstone, you can use different tones of that stone for a little variety.  Some months even have multiple birthstones (or so I was told in my reading up on different months…), so you could go that route as well.  Happy sewing, and see you next time!

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Select a size iPad Clutch free pattern

Good morning!  Things have been a whirlwind in the last month!  I have some really exciting things that I’ve been working on at Kustom Kwilts & Designs that I can’t wait to share with you in the very near future, and I’m so excited that I can finally share this free tutorial with you that I teamed up with Janome to bring you.  Find the full tutorial HERE- at the AQS blog



There are some specific things I look for when creating a handmade gift for someone.  I like a quick project that looks like it took a LOOOOOOOOOOOONG time.  This is one of those!  The supply list is fairly short, so you can easily grab a few fat quarters from your stash and get this project going today, in time for Mother’s Day next week, or whip up several for those really awesome teachers in your child’s life.  The tutorial allows for you to select from several sizes of tablets, so you should be able to select the size your person uses and get going right away!  


I’ve been sewing on the newest Horizon Memory Craft 9400QCP, and this machine is a true workhorse.  I love everything about it, and quilting on this machine has been a lifesaver.  It creates absolutely beautiful stitches and really makes my projects look professional.  



I hope you’ll take a minute to check out this free pattern–you’ll love the simple style and elegant finish you can achieve with basic or complex quilting.  You can really make this your own and put your special touch on it to brighten someone’s day.  I hope you enjoy your weekend!  

XO,
Joanna

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Chevron Table Runner free tutorial with foundation paper piecing

So St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner–let’s face it–everything is right around the corner!  I feel like I blink and the week is over ;)–anyway, you probably need some greenery in the kitchen to avoid getting pinched, right?  Well, you’re in luck (like what I did there??), because I’ve teamed up with Janome to bring you a super simple tutorial for a table runner.  If St. Patty’s Day isn’t your thing, you can easily swap out the colors for something more suiting and make it your own.  

So pictured below are a few great supplies to have on hand for foundation paper piecing.  I absolutely love my add-a-quarter ruler.  It has a little lip that you butt up against the edge of your fabric for easy trimming.  I’m also a big fan of Cristy Fincher’s glue basting tips that you can get HERE.  They screw onto the top of a regular bottle of Elmer’s school glue and are fantastic for distributing just the right amount of glue to the fabric.  And some 8.5″ x 11″ newsprint paper–you can use standard printing paper if you don’t have this on hand and don’t want to make a special trip for it.  The newsprint tears away a little easier than the heavier weight printer paper, so that’s why I prefer it.  And a glue stick!  The rest of the supplies are pretty standard sewing supplies.  

Foundation Paper Piecing Supplies

When you foundation paper piece, you sew on the printed side of the paper.  The fabric is secured by using a little glue from the glue stick to adhere it to the opposite side, and the elmer’s glue to add another piece of fabric.  Be sure you shorten your stitch length–a good rule of thumb is to shorten your stitch length to 1.5 or smaller.  This perforates the paper enough to easily tear away later.  If you don’t shorten the stitch length, you could play tug of war trying to tear the paper away once your blocks are complete!


Use a ruler to trim away the excess fabric and paper (you may want to use a rotary cutter that you designate for paper use for this), making sure you leave the 1/4″ seam allowance in tact!


Visit the Janome Website for the full instructions on how to finish this sweet project!


Enjoy the rest of your week!  I know I will–as I type this, my husband has taken our 3 month old for a walk so I can have a little break 🙂  I love her to pieces, but my lanta–sometimes it’s nice to have a minute for yourself!  Happy sewing!

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Quilted Oven Mitt Tutorial (Free project)

Yikes!!  So I’m a little late on sharing this, but it will be here for future reference 😉



Do you love a fun (and quick) project for Valentine’s sewing?  Check out this sweet tutorial I teamed up with Janome to create HERE .  

This is a great project to incorporate some low volumes with a great print that you’ve been saving (I used Liberty of London), but you might now have a lot of! 


The oven mitt tutorial can also be customized–you can leave out the reverse applique option for a simpler finish and enjoy your new oven mitt quicker.

Happy belated Valentine’s Day!

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Valentine’s Day Oven Mitt Tutorial

Are you looking for a great project to showcase that one print that you may not have much of? 


Check out the tutorial that I teamed up with Janome to bring you by clicking HERE!  I know that I just love Liberty of London prints, but gosh…they’re pretty proud of them, am I right?  It’s not often I spend $40+ per yard on fabric…but I will admit to purchasing a couple of “swatches” from fabric.com for a few bucks a piece.  I could almost never bring myself to sew with them, especially considering each piece that I had was less than a fat eighth…hello…!  Not many patterns allow for this!  


So I whipped up this cute oven mitt tutorial and thought that Liberty fabric I had been hoarding for so long would be perfect for the little reverse applique window!  


It’s a great project for showcasing your favorite prints, and also for using up scraps of low volume fabrics (or any scraps, really!)

Have the happiest of Valentine’s Days and take this project into the kitchen to bake up some yummy sweets for the one you love 🙂