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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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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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Mock Stained Glass Mini Quilt Tutorial

Happy New Year!  Well, this post is a day late and a dollar short, but it’s here 🙂
I usually post on Tuesdays, but this one got away from me!  

Sometimes winter blues can get you down (although here, in Texas, it was nearly 80 degrees yesterday and looked WAY more like spring than winter!) and it helps to have some fun and easy projects to get you through the weather.  I hope you’ll take a look at the free tutorial I teamed up with Janome to create.  It’s listed on the APQS blog and is a great free pattern for a mini quilt–or– if you prefer not to quilt it, hang it in a window that gets lots of light for a stained glass effect.  Either way, it’s a great way to add another technique to your arsenal of skills.  



Find the free tut HERE

Have a great week!

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Quilty friends are the best

I may not have come right out and said this yet, but as I type this, I am 37 weeks pregnant with our first child.  I’m kind of a private person when it comes to this kind of stuff and social media, so there haven’t been any baby bump pictures or ultrasound photographs or “facebook official” posts.   

However…I have to talk about my “tribe”.  The group of people I didn’t even know I needed until I found them.  I also have my church family to lean on and love (thank God for that!), but there is something to be said for your sewing friends that other groups don’t relate to.  

I’m a member of the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild, and have been for a little over 2 years.  From the first meeting I attended, I looked around the room, and I could feel something different about the group.  It was mostly (I think ALL, then) women.  They were talking about things they made with their own hands, and they were supporting and encouraging each other.  There was laughter and gossip and friendship.  And they were all very different in their own way.  

Sewing can be a very isolating hobby if you don’t have a tribe.  And I didn’t know what I was missing out on until I went to that first meeting.  I immediately joined and can’t believe the friendships I’ve made in that short period of time.  There has been laughter, tears, good times, and bad.  And sometimes there wasn’t any sewing going on during this.  My point here is that sewing/quilting friends are the BEST.  They get it.  You can be talking about your dog dying one minute and the new quilting technique the next, and they don’t bat an eye.  

I feel like I got a little derailed there, so let me get back to my point.  Our MQG has a tradition that someone will head up making a baby quilt for expecting moms in the guild.  So several of the people in the guild got together and put this amazing quilt together.  I love everything about it, and it couldn’t be more perfect.  They had even finished piecing it back in August.  Which is the month our guild had booked Karlee Porter to come do a graffiti quilting workshop for us.  Somewhere in all of this, they were discussing the baby quilt in front of Karlee and discussing who would quilt it.  (I have to say here that Karlee is hands down the most authentic Sewlebrity I’ve even met.  She is real and such a great person to be around.  And AMAZINGLY talented.)

And Karlee volunteered to take it home and quilt it.  NUTS.  Not only did she take it home and quilt it, she couched my baby’s name in the center of the quilt with metallic yarn.  This post is more for me than anyone else.  I want to always remember how special I felt when i received this.  Emily presented it to me at our October guild meeting, and I had no idea that it was finished.  I wasn’t expecting it, and lately, I have been nothing but a bucket of raw emotions.  So they told me how they put it together, the amazingly special people that planned it, gave fabric for it, gave their time for it, and arranged for Karlee to help as well.  And I lost my shit.   (Pardon the french.  I don’t cuss on the blog, but there it is.)  I cried so hard that I nearly couldn’t recover to do the rest of the meeting (I’m currently interim President).  Ugly tears were seen by all, and I didn’t even care.  Because this group is my tribe.  And wouldn’t you know, I’m crying again while I’m typing this.  Seriously, I can’t wait for these pregnancy hormones to be gone!  

Anyway. I’m totally overwhelmed at the thought of being a new mom and have no clue what to do once Gemma gets here, but I know that she will be SO loved.  And already is if this group is any indication.  
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Anna Maria Horner Quilt and thinking about quilting design

Ahhhhh!  I’m dying a little bit over those Anna Maria Horner Pretty Potent prints.  This is a fabric line that I adore, but never ended up making anything myself with.  So it was a special treat to get to quilt this and ooh and ahhhh over the fabrics and quilt design.  

When I first looked at this quilt, I was literally stumped at what to quilt it with.  I knew it was going to be custom quilted, but couldn’t figure out what to do with all the negative space.  I loaded it on the frame and it sat for a week.  I sketched out ideas in my sketchbook and didn’t really have any great luck with inspiration.  Finally I decided on a simple outlined design with some ruler work, embellished with pebbles and other straight lines to fill in the gaps.  

This picture has a filter on it to try to high light the thread more.  It was quilted with Glide Cloud, so it doesn’t necessarily blend like white thread would have, but it doesn’t starkly stand out from the background, either.  If I could change anything about the quilting, I would go back and double batt the quilt or use a loftier batting.  


You can see here a little better that each print fabric was outlined twice with a small ruler.  Then pebbles were added, along with some straight lines for filler to add more texture.  

I really enjoyed the process this quilt took me through, and I hope to continue to better develop my quilting design.  Usually, I can load a quilt on the frame and I have at least 2 fairly decent ideas by the next day.  This quilt really gave me a run for my money, but all in all, I’m pretty satisfied with the results.    I really love the way a quilt looks finished when ruler work and free motion quilting are combined in the same top.  Sometimes the simplest design can work and really make the fabrics and quilt pop, and other times, it takes some work and elbow grease to figure out the best fillers and accents.