Monday, 18 January 2016

Hearts Desire: an applique adventure

This week I've been re-loving a quilt I made in 2010: 'Hearts Desire'. Bunny, one of the Moderators over in my BOM Group, shared some of her images (and if you haven't seen them, you really should, they're exquisite) and that motivated me to dig out some Hearts Desire images of my own. 

If Love Entwined is an applique triumph (and I really do think it is), then Hearts Desire is an applique adventure. There's a bit of everything in this quilt and it's one of those projects that leaves you better accomplished and more skilled than when you started, 'just because' you made it. It's the repetition which forces you to make 'your best' your standard. It becomes a kind of second nature. And now, looking back, I recognize Hearts Desire as my most important applique quilt - it took me to the next level, technique wise and forced me to find new ways to consider traditional techniques. It's the quilt that sent me off exploring new ways to do old things - in fact, I started using the 'freezer paper applique method' because of it and that drive to constantly re-consider techniques has stayed with me, even today. In fact, whilst Love Entwined is one of those 'once in a lifetime' quilts, it's really Hearts Desire that enabled me to even consider tackling such a design feat.
 It's completely domestic machine quilted
and the more you look, the more you see
Some people think I'm exaggerating when I describe the sheer magnitude of fabric in my sewing studio. Actually, I mostly underestimate it! So please, excuse the mess in this flash back pic of me working on the central applique blocks. 
And here's the finished quilt. It's won a few awards. People always ask me how many awards I've won. It's over 40.  But you know what? In the last few years I've stopped 'showing' the way I used to. The longer I quilt, the less relevant awards seem to me. I've already accomplished everything I felt I had to prove as a 'quilter'. Now, I just quilt. 
Like it? Make it! 
Hearts Desire is available as a instant digital download, set to print at home on A4 paper.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Hazel: the 8 Point Star

This month, we're making the 8 Point Star. It's a nice start to the BOM and I've broken the central block down over 3 months so everyone can make it at their own pace - successfully. If you're daunted by stars, don't be. It takes practice and patience. And seeing how others make their own helps too.

Here's how I made mine.

First, I raided my Kaffee Fassett stash. I thought I'd only be making 'sample' blocks each month to show BOM members how to do them, but then I realized that, knowing me - I'll probably just go ahead and finish the top (if not the quilt). So if I have a quilt top just lying around, I'm  going to have to love it. That means random sample fabrics were out as an option. And that just left Fassetts. I have a stash - and a quilt top is better than a stash that's for sure. Also, the idea of a Kaffee Fassett Hazel really delights me, so that's how I made my choice. It also helped that my hand dyes fit in perfectly with my Fassetts (like the green you see above) so I'm using two stashes I love at once. So if you see a Fassett Hazel around, it's probably mine.
First things first. Make your templates and make sure that they are accurate. I was teaching a class last week where a student was explaining to me that a pattern she was working on just didn't fit. I took a look at it, and it turns out she was 'correcting' the shapes to create full angles. Don't do that. Simply use the Template exactly as they are.
You'll notice that the Templates have grain lines on them, indicating the grain of the fabric. Follow them. It makes a big difference when you are  piecing. I've even added a grain line for those of you using stripe fabric (just because I'm using stripes in my example and think it might help someone).

I've ironed and starched all my fabrics to make them a bit easier to use. Then I've played around with them just to confirm in my own mind, the shape the block will be taking.
This star blade is TEMPLATE B. 
When stitching TB, stop stitching just before your reach the side corner. Start stitching from the 'centre' (which is marked on your TEMPLATE) down. Always start stitching from that indicated center. Also, mark a dot (you can see that I have below) both left and right. This shows me where to stop stitching. Stop stitching 1/4 inch before the edge. 

This pin indicates where I stopped stitching. This is important because you need that allowance to insert the coming triangles (TEMPLATE A)
See the gap I've left?
Now, when I open my stitched TB, it looks like this
Press the seams down towards left
Stitch 2 x pairs, creating 1 half
Then sew the two halves together
Take extra care to join these together accurately.
Personally, I never pin when stitching these two sides together. I start  in the centre and start stitching from the centre out. Then I turn the block around and stitch from the centre again.
All the seams are 'turned' left, and this creates a kind of pinwheel looking seam which you open so they don't bunch together. Flatten this joined seam bunch as much as you can. It's important to understand how seams come together and how to flatten them at this point. I have not pressed in between sewing.
This is what my block looks like now that the star has come together. I never press between block construction - I only press the fabrics at the beginning (with starch) and then once again when the block is complete.
This is the front view
Now it's time to insert TEMPLATE A
It looks like this. I've used Floriani Stitch n Wash fusible on TEMPLATE A pieces because both left and right seams are on a bias (or cross grain) and no matter how much I starch, it will stretch and distort. The Fassett fabric I am using - the stripe- is a soft fabric and loosely woven. I need more stability - you probably won't unless you are using silks. 

Here's another reason why you might use fusible on this block and it's a great trick for perfect edges. As you can see, here is TEMPLATE A. I have cut TEMPLATE A from the fusible (without seam allowance) and that is the white you see here. The stripe fabric is TEMPLATE A which includes an allowance. So the fabric you can see here is the seam allowance. So, when sewing these shapes into the star, it's so easy to follow the fusible as a template to stitch the perfect curve - all without any markings, because you're simply stitching along to a high contrast guideline

So, I know that the white line below is actually my stitching line and the fabric you can see is the allowance. I knew that already, but when sewing on the machine, this high contrast makes everything so much easier.
To insert each triangle, fold the star in half and then open up the Y seam and position TEMPLATE A along the seam. One one side, I stitch from the centre of the diamond edge out, right next to the fusible. On the other side, stitch from the outside edge in. Pay attention to seam allowances. Repeat.
Once completed, set aside. Don't press. 
Next month we're adding rounds and you don't need to iron in between these stages. 

This post is related to Part 1 of my BOM "Hazel' and 'Little Hazel'
To join, click the image above

Friday, 15 January 2016

FREE BOM: Hazel is Launched: Part 1

Are you ready for a gorgeous piecing adventure?
Hazel and Little Hazel are launched today!

You can download the PDF pattern instantly by clicking on either image you see here below, which will automatically start the download. You can also download the pattern from the 'Files" area over in my 'Esther's Blog: Quilt BOM Group"

Before starting anything, please ensure that you have printed to A4 and have checked the 1 inch square test. This month, both Hazel and Little Hazel are working on the same block - the central 8 point star. Hazel is a diagonal quilt, with the centre block set on point. Little Hazel is a horizontal quilt. These quilts use the same size blocks, so if you get addicted to piecing these blocks, you can carry on and 'upgrade' to the larger quilt. Tomorrow I'll be sharing images of how I made the central 8 point star right here on my blog, so be sure to stop by and have a look!
This is an active link: click to download LITTLE HAZEL Part 1
This is an active link: click to download  HAZEL Part 1


Now you've got your piecing BOM for the year started, 
how about some fabulous applique? 

I've just announced my latest applique adventure 
It's called Sweet 2016 and it's a lot of fun.

Why not join the fabric party?

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Join My 'Sweet 2016' Quilt Along

I don't know about you, but I feel like it's time for some serious fun. Of course, my kind of fun involves applique - the delicious kind and I'd really love it if you joined me. This BOM is like nothing I've ever done before and I have to tell you, I'm in love with it! The blocks are accomplishable in just a day or two and focus on enjoyment - I want you to really look forward to the installment each month. This BOM is do-able and gorgeous. Suitable for everyone who's passionate about playing with fabric and ending up with something fabulous to show for all those hours of fabric fun. It's my first Quilt Along and I'm already dreaming about perfect fussy cut patches from my stash.

‘Sweet 2016’ is a choc coated mystery

An Applique Mystery 

Released over 11 months: from February - Dec 2016

The pattern will be emailed to you directly on the 14th of each month

The finished size is 53 x 35 inches—a perfect wall hanging size and trust me, 
this is one quilt you’ll want to show off!

You already have the gorgeous fabrics and a fabulous sense of fun—make sure you get in on the mystery and brighten up your month, each month!

And that’s all I’m going to say about. It is a mystery, after all!

Sweet 2016 starts on February 14th which is the perfect start date for this gorgeous project

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

WOW: Digging out the Fassett's

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

Should I even be talking about my new BOM Hazel during WOW? Hmmm probably not. It is after all, a whole new WIP project and the point of WOW is getting WIPs done - not starting new ones.

But, I can't resist.

Here I am, sorting through my Kaffee Fassett stash. I've opted for Fassett's fabrics to make my run throughs. And I'm pairing them with my own hand dyes. Luckily a lot of my hand dyes really work with the Fassett's I have, so I can have some fun whilst I'm running up the blocks.

I don't intend on making the whole quilt - I don't have the time. But you never know, I might change my mind. And having a Fassset quilt in the house is a good motivator, so we'll see. Hazel is launching on Friday and I've got a really good feeling about it. Today I'm making up sample blocks to show how I make each month. This will serve as a guide for new quilters and show a lot more of my process - I know everyone is always keen to see process pics. In my last BOM Group, I had a lot of difficulties uploading images, but with the new improved BOM Group, uploading images are a breeze, so I'm more committed to sharing them than ever.

If you haven't already joined my BOM Group, now is a good time. Hazel and Little Hazel are launching on Friday and over in the dedicated Oma's Blues Group, I'm re-releasing Oma as a BOM too. And I still have some projects I'm finalizing this month for release this year, so  stay tuned, there'll be something for everyone. Including an applique BOM due for launch starting February. But, more on that later..

What's Your WOW?

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Would You Please Help Me?

Update 12 Jan, thanks for your help everyone. From now on, I'll be launching current BOM blocks right here on my blog as well as in my BOM Group over on Facebook. 
I need as many people as possible to test whether or not Google Drive is going to work on this blog to download PDFs. To help me, simply download my pattern 'Lily Rose' by clicking the image below. 

The complete pattern should open in a new window, ready to print

If it does, please leave a comment letting me know that it worked. Or not.
That's all. Thank you so much for taking a minute to help me out today!

the link has now been removed, thanks to everyone who took the time to help

I'm testing to see whether or not I can release pattern PDFs on this blog for those of you who don't want to use Facebook to download monthly BOM installments. You probably already know that my Yahoo BOM Group has moved over the Facebook and is therefore not called the 'Yahoo BOM Group' anymore but is now known as Esther's Blog: BOM Quilt Group. It's only been 48 hours, but the improvement for usability, posting pics and sharing is massive already. What a wonderful format. We're never going back. 


There's always a but. No matter how well meaning you are, there are always issues. Some former members just don't want to move to Facebook and I just don't want to leave them behind. So, I'm happy to see if I can release BOM installments right here on the blog post each month. It should be possible, but I don't want to get people's hopes up without some kind of test first. This post is that test.

Thanks again for helping me out 
Please consider your downloaded Lily Rose pattern as my thank you gift

Saturday, 9 January 2016

My Free BOM Group Has Moved!

Phew! What a weekend. If you haven't already heard, my BOM Group has 'moved house'. Previously it was hosted on a Yahoo forum called groups, but there were always issues and the format was difficult to navigate. For myself personally, I could never load 'albums' worth of images that I wanted to share with members and felt restricted each month whenever I tried to share and connect with members.

For the last 2 years, I'd been looking for an alternative to Yahoo, but simply couldn't find one. The popularity of LE really showed us all how the Yahoo format simply couldn't cope with people wanting to share their work quickly and easily and this frustrated me. I wanted to spend my time designing and sharing - not struggling with the site.

Then, a dear friend of mine suggested Facebook Groups. Well, I wasn't keen on the idea at first. I only went on Facebook myself a few months ago. But there's no denying how fast, connected and easy the Facebook Group area is to navigate - it's not just better than Yahoo, it's miles better. So we've moved. And now that it's done, I wish I hadn't waited so long to do it.

Images are a breeze, chatting and answering comments is super easy to follow, share and respond to. I love it. Now I can get back to focusing on what really matters - the quilting!

My free BOM Group is called, "Esther's Blog: Quilt BOM Group" and you can search for it on Facebook or simply click the image above (or on the sidebar) to join. All our Moderators have moved with us and our Group is still Moderated to make sure everything runs smoothly and any stuck members can get the advice they need.

Sounds good? It is!

If you were a member of the Yahoo BOM Group and would like to join us in our new and improved location, you will need to join Facebook and join our Group 'again'. You were not automatically transferred over. To do so would have been a violation of your privacy rights and I would never move our membership lists to the new Facebook home without your consent. Join now by clicking the image above. 

Because the Yahoo Group hosts many images of people's work, I will not close it down immediately, but leave plenty of time for members to clear albums.

Membership is, and always will be, free. Why not join today? We're ready to welcome you to our friendly, creative hub.

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