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English Paper Piecing – Double wedding ring style!

Good morning!  So many milestones going on in our household this week–our little girl turned 6 months last week (How has it already been half a year???) I celebrated my first mother’s day, started the baby on her first solid foods, and it’s my husband’s birthday this week.  Needless to say, it’s been super busy, and I feel like I’ve been to the grocery store almost every day this week.  Do they give frequent flier miles for multiple grocery store trips in one day?  I should also mention we live 12 miles from the nearest grocery store…  I’m sure you can relate to the feeling that you’re flying by the seat of your pants on household chores and checklists.  Laundry, dishes, etc., etc., but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

One of the many reasons I love English Paper Piecing is the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the process of hand sewing.  I also love combining multiple parts of the sewing and design process and planning out a project from start to finish.  There is something so satisfying in making something completely from start to finish…even if it sometimes feels like you’re recreating the wheel.  


I started by sitting down with my EQ7 software and designing a mini quilt for our local Modern Quilt Guild.  We recently had our first silent auction event and mini quilt show (SO FUN!).  Then I printed templates onto cardstock for the EPP pieces and started thinking about my fabrics.  I had a great charm pack of Kaufman Kona Cotton Solids that I had been holding onto for over a year, and thought this would be a great opportunity to use it.  I traced and cut out my fabrics, and then had to pause when I selected my background fabric. 


I knew I didn’t want white, and I really like the effect black and white patterned fabrics have with solids.  So I auditioned a few different fabric choices–I really thought I wanted to go with a black and white stripe, but I opted for a more solid-reading print instead.  I pieced together a few of the DWR pieces and then placed them on top of my background fabric choices.  Pictured below is what I thought I was going to go with, but I instead selected a Tula Pink True Colors black and white print.  Because…Tula!!!


From the basic design in EQ7 (They already have the blocks drawn up…I just sized them to fit my needs), printing the cardstock, then cutting the fabrics, I got to take a breath and piece in my leisure time.  HA.  Leisure time…You know what I mean.  The semi-quiet moments in the house when my hair wasn’t on fire 😉


Then I loaded the mini on my longarm and did some simple stitch in the ditch around the wedding rings and some loopy swirl combos on the black and white background that blend nicely.  It may seem kind of dumb to longarm a mini quilt, since you need a little bit more backing fabric than you would if you were to quilt it on a domestic, but I figured I paid for that huge machine and I’m going to get my money’s worth!  Plus, I had just taken a fresh quilt off of the frame, and I had to take advantage of it before I loaded my next quilt.  It made for a slightly quicker finish than if I’d done it on the domestic sewing machine.

I was thrilled with the results, and playing with the color gradation and high-contrast background was really a lot of fun.  But mostly, I was able to really enjoy the process and each step along the way.  I don’t know about you, but from the day I started sewing, I’ve always eyed the double wedding ring quilts.  I’m not sure I have the patience at this point in my life to see a full-sized quilt through, so this mini quilt was the perfect opportunity for me to cross a DWR quilt off my quilting bucket list.  I had also never taken the time to hand piece curves before, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be.  Really, I had built it up to be this super scary moment, when all you really need to do is take a little extra time and carefully mark the centers of each EPP piece prior to piecing it, and make sure you line the centers up while adjusting the curves.  

I hope your sewing adventures take you somewhere awesome this week, and try to slow down and enjoy the process behind what you’re doing.  I know I really enjoy the projects where I can slow down a bit and take a break from the hustle and bustle of life.  Happy sewing friends!

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The first MQG mini quilt swap-are you in?

Who doesn’t love a great sewing swap?  I started my first with a swap hosted by The Sewing Loft.  Soon after, I found out about the Schnitzelandboo mini quilt swap.  I think I started on the second round of that swap and have stayed in it ever since.  I even participated in another smaller themed sewing swap that was a lot of fun.  And in October of 2016, The Modern Quilt Guild announced its first mini quilt swap, open to members worldwide.

To be honest, I was really bummed when I first heard about the swap.  I recently quit my real job to sew and quilt as my full time job and (as I type this) am about to be a new mom.  The odds of me signing up for this swap didn’t look too good.  But then I started thinking about it, and realized I needed something to look forward to in the first few months of being a new mom.  I don’t want to lose myself entirely in my new role and hopefully I will find bits and pieces of time to work on this for my partner (sorry partner… ;).

So I signed up.  I got my partner assignment, and wouldn’t you know…their instagram profile is PRIVATE.   GRRRRRRRR…….Seriously.  If you’re going to do a swap, have a public profile.  You’re ruining the surprise.  Or at least include some other form of social media where you post your preferences.  I was a little miffed.  But my swap fairy came through for me and managed to get a Pinterest profile for me.  This provided tons of inspiration and so I’m currently working on tweaking some things I’ve found to make it my own.

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Scrappy Trip Quilt Project with the San Antonio MQG

Have you ever felt sort of isolated in this “hobby” (or lifestyle to be more accurate) that we call quilting?  I had recently discovered modern quilting and realized there was this whole other world of people that were just like me.  I’m sure we’ve all had a point in our lives where we thought Joann’s and Hobby Lobby were the only places you could buy fabric…I went through this phase for probably the first year and a half that I was discovering sewing (disastrous, I know!).  Once my eyes were opened (along with my pocket book), I needed to connect with other people that felt there was something more than just traditional quilting and subdued fabric.  

I found the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild really by accident when I was trying to register for QuiltCon 2015.   I immediately joined and have missed just a handful of meetings due to my “real job”, but the experience has been nothing short of life changing.  I have made friends and contacts that have enriched my life so much.

We followed the tutorial posted on Quiltville’s blog here: Quiltville’s blog 
You should check it out if you’re interested in making your own Scrappy Trip quilt–the instructions are very well written and easy to follow.

Some of the guild members have started the journey of the “scrappy trip along”.  It’s really a cool technique to learn, and since we all have a bit of a competitive nature, there are prizes involved and a schedule for block completion.   

Somewhere along the way…I got caught up and ended up with 100 completed blocks.  

This was my starting point when I began cutting 2.5″ wide strips to arrange into blocks.  I obviously like very bright, saturated colors 🙂

My only plan for arrangement was to alternate bright, lighter colors with dark, duller colors.  I wanted a very busy, random quilt when I was done with it.

I think the scrappy trip quilt is an awesome project when you are feeling less than inspired and maybe lost your sew-jo, but need to find it.  Especially if you are doing a random arrangement, where you allow the fabrics to just do their own thing and speak for themselves.  It can be a relaxing project to just piece without thinking and enjoy the results and the process involved.  (It is kind of a lengthy process!)

These are some of my finished blocks (before sewn into the quilt, they measure 12.5″ x 12.5″), and I just love the brightness of them.  

And this is the first layout I set prior to piecing my quilt top.  So many times, we face difficult decisions with all the “favorite” fabrics we buy and not having fabrics to coordinate with them. In the scrappy trip, anything goes, and you don’t have to concern yourself with that.  

I ended up with 100 completed blocks…I kind of got wrapped up in the cutting strips, sewing together, cutting, seam ripping, sewing process and forgot that my intention was not to make a king sized quilt…My final layout was a 9 x 10 layout with the finished top measuring 120″ wide x 108″ long.  This was perfect for our bed since we have a little bit of a problem with cover thievery, and allowed for enough of a drop on both sides that neither my husband nor I end up without covers in the middle of the night.  I had 10 blocks leftover and pieced them all together in a 2 x 5 arrangement.  Then I cut them in half in the center of the middle block so they each measured 25″ x 31″.  I put batting behind each one and quilted these so we would have semi-matching pillow shams.  

I will say that I wanted to go nuts quilting this.  But with those super busy fabrics, I knew the quilting wouldn’t really be showcased, so any intricacy would be lost on anyone but me.  I went ahead and did some cool swirls that took me much longer than I should have spent, but I really had fun with it.  If you’re a beginner quilter, this would be a great project to really push your quilting skills, because any mistakes you make won’t show like a sore thumb.  


So, if you’re in the market for a pretty low stress project that you don’t have to think about, grab some scraps and get started on your own scrappy trip!  Enjoy the process and you’ll love the end product.  

I’m excited to show this at our November guild meeting when everyone will showcase their own scrappy trips and share their results.  

Until next time!
Joanna