Thursday, July 31, 2014

Some Paper Piecing Basics

I've been thinking...

Maybe I was being a bit mean suggesting that you alter the butterfly pattern without giving you any hints as to how to go about it. So today I thought I'd give you a few wee pointers regarding the logic of paper piecing, to get you started with your designs.

I'm going to stay away from the Butterfly pattern for my examples as I want you guys to use your own creativity and not just borrow mine.

There are just a couple of golden rules to bear in mind when you are designing paper piecing patterns.

Firstly you need to remember that you can't start and stop one one line without changing papers. Take these simple grid pattern. The ONLY way to paper piece this (not that you'd want to!) is to use two papers.
Another thing to bear in mind is that the order that you sew things matters. Sometimes you can make a block work just by changing the order of the numbers. Take this pattern. It doesn't work.

 But change the order of the numbers and it works just fine.

If you want to design a log cabin block, start drawing your lines from the outside.

But number from the inside of the design.
Clear as mud?

I'm sure that there's lots more that I could tell you but hopefully this will be enough to get you started on your paper piecing design journey. 

I can't wait to see what you come up with in the Butterfly Challenge.

As I said before, ask if you have any questions.
Next week I'll cover piecing those awkward diagonal pieces.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How to Paper Piece

Introduction to Paper Piecing- The Tartankiwi
A lot of people are intimidated by paper piecing, but I'm here to tell you that its really not that difficult. If you can count and sew a straight line, you can paper piece.

It may take you a wee while to get used to the logic of the process, but once you do, you'll be off and running!

Now when it comes to paper piecing, I would encourage you to play around. Try different things, if my method doesn't work for you, I won't be offended, just please don't give up!

Try somebody else's method, they may be a bit more or less exact in their method or explain it in a way that makes more sense to you. There are lots and lots of different variations on paper piecing technique so its important to find the method that works for you.

Here are a few links to different paper piecing tutorials. As you can see, the basis of the technique stays the same, but the details can vary quite a bit:
The method that I learnt first
Glue Basting
Paperless Paper Piecing
A different order of work
Folded Freezer Paper Piecing (I have yet to try this but am intrigued- imagine not having to pull your paper out at the end!?

Personally I love seeing everybody's variations on paper piecing and adapting my technique from what I've learnt.


I've broken my method down into a few simple steps. Its paper piecing at its most basic, but once you've mastered this you can refine the subtleties of your technique.

This tutorial is based on the simple butterfly pattern, which you can find here.

The original pattern creates a 5 inch finished block. You can alter the size of the block by photocopying/ enlarging the pattern as shown below:

For a 14 inch butterfly block enlarge at 280%
For a 12 inch butterfly blocks enlarged at 240%
For a 10 inch butterfly blocks enlarged at 200%
For a 8 inch butterfly blocks enlarged at 160%
For a 6 inch butterfly blocks enlarged at 120%

My patterns all include a 1/4 inch seam allowance around the paper pieces. Remember to cut your seam allowances down to 1/4 inch once you have enlarged the pattern pieces.

Ensure that you reduce the stitch size on your sewing machine. You want the stitches nice and small so that there are lots of perforations in the paper and it is easy to tear away at the end. Don't make them too small though as this will tear the paper and also be a nightmare if you have to unpick anything! Stitch sizes vary on different machines, but on my machine a good paper piecing stitch length is about 1.75- 1.5.

If you like, you can colour your pattern in or write notes to yourself on the pattern indicating which fabrics should be used where.

Measure and cut your first fabric piece to size. I tend to cut a rectangle that is it at least 1/2 inch bigger than the piece that I am working on.

Paper piecing has a bit of a reputation for being wasteful of fabric, but this really comes down to the individual. I re-use many of the scraps that are trimmed away later in the block and I save small scraps for other projects- you never know when a teeny tiny piece will come in handy!

Place your paper pattern printed side down on the desk.
 Place your fabric right side up on top of the paper. (**Please note that with Oakshott fabrics there isn't a right and wrong side, but I am writing it this way for anybody who may decide to use this tutorial for printed fabrics**).

What you should pay attention to with Oakshott cotton is the orientation of the fabric. Because the warp and the weft threads are different colours, the light catches the fabric differently when it is rotated and can appear a different shade. I would encourage you to think about how and if you want to make use of this effect.

Now hold the pile of paper and fabric up to the light. Ensure that the fabric covers the edges of piece number one (which I have outlined in red in the picture) and overlaps by more than 1/4 inch in all directions. If the pattern piece that you are working on is at the edge of the page, your fabric should always cover the seam allowance and have a small amount of fabric overlapping the edge of the paper.

Pin the fabric in place with a single pin. I like to make sure that if I pin, the pin is well away from the line that I am going to sew.

Place your fabric for piece A2 right side down on top of fabric piece number A1. Now carefully lift the whole pile up to the light again. Check that the majority of the fabric is on top of piece number 1, but that the edge overlaps the printed line between piece number 1 and piece number 2 by about more than 1/4 inch.

In the diagram, I have outlined the fabric that I am using for piece A2 in blue and I have highlighted the line that I am going to sew in red. 

If you are unsure whether you are about to sew your seam correctly, gently fold the fabric for piece A2 over and check that it covers the paper shape A2 on all sides.

Carefully manoeuvre your pile of fabric and paper into your sewing machine. You are going to sew down the line between part A1 and A2. Ensure that it is printed paper side UP and that none of the fabrics move as you position it in the machine.

Sew a straight line (again, make sure that you are using a short stitch length). Start exactly on the end of the line and if your fabric piece goes to the edge of the paper, keep sewing into the seam allowance, till the edge of the paper.

Anchor your stitches at both ends (we don't want it coming undone when you take the papers out do we!?)

Gently fold the fabric for piece A2 over. Hold it up to the light and ensure that it generously covers paper shape A2.
If it doesn't, CAREFULLY unpick.
If it does then unfold fabric piece A2.
Fold the paper back along the stitched line. Place your ruler along the seam and allowing a ¼ inch seam allowance, trim the edges.

(This step was especially important for this quilt as without it the colours from the dark oakshott cottons would seep through the cream background fabric.)
see how the darker fabric colours leach through if you don't trim your seam allowances!

Lay your paper flat again. Fold fabric piece A2 so that it covers paper shape A2 of the pattern and press it in position.

Repeat the basic process from "measure" (skipping over "the first piece") until you have pieced all the paper sections that you need for the quilt.

If you need some help accurately sewing you papers together, I have previously written some tips and tricks.

Sewing should be fun! If you are having one of those days where nothing works properly, take a step back, have a cup of tea and try again another day!

If anything is unclear or you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

If I find the time, would anybody be interested in a tutorial on how to cope with difficult angles in paper piecing?

Don't forget to put your new found paper piecing skills to the test and join in The Butterfly Challenge- there are some awesome prizes up for grabs!

The Tartankiwi
This post is based on the paper piecing tutorial which I previously posted on Lily's Quilts. That post also contains the pattern for the oakshott butterfly quilt shown in the Butterfly Challenge button.

I'll be back soon with a few other paper piecing tips.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Lowdown on The Butterfly Challenge

On Friday I had one of those ideas that if I didn't blog about it straight away, I knew it would never happen. I thought about it for a further 2 seconds and then decided to be brave and put my idea out there, and so the Butterfly Challenge was born.

The Tartankiwi
It was such a spontaneous post that I didn't have the time to think through all the details. This is the promised follow up post with all the things that I didn't get the chance to say.

The challenge revolves around my two butterfly patterns (the 12 inch Butterfly and/ or the simple 5" butterfly).

Show me your interpretation of the block. Make it as unique as you can.You can alter the pattern (like I did making the wonky log cabin butterfly shown above); you could use fussy cut fabrics; you could alter the scale, you could make a whole family of butterflies; you could use your quilting to embellish the butterfly- ah the possibilities are endless!

I was tempted to illustrate this post with a few of my ideas of what you can do with the pattern, but I decided not to. This is about your ideas and inspiration after all- not mine!

I have reduced the price of these patterns in my Craftsy store until 10 August NZT (remember we're ahead of the rest of the world in New Zealand).

If you prefer to buy through Etsy, the coupon CHALLENGE will give you 33% off your purchase. until 10 August.

Share your butterflies in the linky at the bottom of this post, which will be open until 8:00pm on Sunday 31st August (NZT).

You don't have to have a blog to enter, flickr pictures are also totally acceptable.

During the month of August, I will post a paper piecing tutorial and also show you how I altered the basic butterfly pattern to create a log cabin butterfly. If there are other things that you want to learn, please let me know sooner rather than later as these kind of posts take time to create.

A few of you may be wondering whether or not this pattern is suitable for people new to paper piecing. I would say yes. I have taught the 12 inch butterfly to beginners with great success. It may have quite a few pieces, but there are very few nasty angles and there are ways to cheat and make these easier! Take it slowly, don't cut your fabric too small and you'll be fine.

If you want to share your progress on instagram. Use the hashtag #tkbutterflychallenge and feel free to tag me @tartankiwi. I really can't wait to see what you all come up with!

The Rules.

Each person can enter up to two times.

Each entry must have its own post which links to the Butterfly Challenge and/ or include a Butterfly Challenge button.. 
One of these two entries may be up to 3 months old, the other entry must be new for the challenge.

Finished items are nice but not essential, finished blocks will also be in the running to win prizes.

The Prizes

Now after all the boring stuff, I guess you want to know about the prizes. As I said before, I started this on a bit of a mad whim, so the chances are that more prizes will be added as the month goes on. That said, I'm super excited about the prizes that we have at the moment.

The first prize (which will be chosen by me) is an Oakshott Cotton Fat Eighth Lipari Bundle. Eighteen fat eighths of Scrummy Oakshott Cotton- ah the possibilities!

The second prize (which will be chosen by my 5 year old daughter Rascal) is an Oakshott Cotton Fat Eighth Ruby Bundle. Sixteen fat eighths of Oakshott cottons which all share a red warp thread. I must admit that I am seriously tempted to try sewing my Little Bear Pattern with this bundle!
The winners of the following prizes will be chosen at random:

A Fat Eight Bundle of Oakshott Cotton Lakes.The wonky logcabin butterfly shown above was made with scraps of this bundle- all the fabrics share a blue warp thread and they are absolutely beautiful!

The final prize is your choice of three Tartankiwi Patterns (this can include the as yet to be published Big Bear pattern if you like). I'll also have a wee look through my stash and see if I can find a nice little something to send to this winner.

So there you have it! I hope you'll join in the fun. I can't wait to see what you all come up with.
Please help spread the word- the more the merrier don't you think?!

The Tartankiwi

** This post contains affiliate links**

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Butterfly Challenge

Those of you who have been around here for a while may have noticed that I like to play around with my sewing. I don't like to repeat myself too much and on the occasions that I do repeat a pattern, I like to give it a new twist.

As such, I'll admit that I wasn't really thinking when I volunteered to do swap for one of my butterflies.

Butterflies again? - yawn!

But then I had an idea- I love it when that happens!

How about adapting the patten to make it a wonky logcabin butterfly and the sew it using oakshott cottons (I had some scraps of a lakes bundle just crying out to be used)?

I was instantly in love with the project and ran off to my sewing room to start sewing.

I will admit that I planned my butterfly in EQ7 but you could easily do the same thing yourself with a paper and pen.

All this got me thinking?

Who would be up for a butterfly challenge?

The idea would be that you use either my 12 inch butterfly or my small butterfly pattern to sew your own block. Both of these patterns are also available from my Etsy Store if you don't want to sign up to Craftsy.

You can alter the pattern (how about a stripy butterfly or a different log cabin butterfly?);
You can alter the size;
You can use fussy cut fabrics

The important thing is that you make the pattern your own- let your own personal style shine through.

I've still got to think through all the details, so I'll be back soon. In the meantime start planning your butterfly and if you have any requests for tutorials or questions about how it would all work, feel free to ask.

I'm off to arrange some prizes and will be back next week with more details- in the meantime get your thinking caps on and spread the word (please).

The Tartankiwi
** This post contains affiliate links**

EDITED TO ADD: For more details on the dates, prizes etc, see this post on the Butterfly Challenge.
I've also provided a paper piecing tutorial to help you get started.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On My Needles

Its been pretty busy around here recently and I've been feeling pretty tired and worn out by the end of the day. I've not felt the inclination to go and spend my evenings on my own in my cold sewing room, but have preferred to sit with my husband next to the cosy fire.
 In addition to this, a small group of us have come together and formed a little knitting group. We generally meet up once a week for a chat, a laugh, a knit and the odd glass of wine.

Amongst our numbers are two talented indie dyers and one uber talented knitting pattern designer, so I have a great source of beautiful yarn and knitting inspiration surrounding me.

All this has meant that I've been doing quite a bit of knitting recently. My knitting is still a bit dodgy, but its slowly getting better with practise.

I'd been meaning to knit a new hoodie for Scallywag for a while, but when I saw this yarn from  Featherbrush Yarn, I couldn't put it off any longer. I love the way it knitted up and I must say that when I put this hoodie next to his old one I can really see the value of using good quality wool.

The pattern is Little Hoodlum by Julia Stanfield
The yarn is No Diggity by Featherbrush Yarns

My biggest project recently has been a knitted dress for Rascal.

I think I'm really going to have to work on the tension of my knits as it has a bit of a droopy neckline, but apart from that I'm really pleased. The yarn is a bit too pink for my liking, but it is soft and sparkles so Rascal LOVES it!

The size is generous so lets just say that she is going to get a lot of wear out of it!
The pattern is Primrose by Julia Stanfield.
The yarn is Devonport Dreaming by Red Riding Hood Yarns.


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