Thursday, 31 August 2017

Lion Quilt

I'm going to start this post with a confession:

When I first started paper piecing, I was scared of printed fabric and top list of designers whose fabric I never thought I'd use was Kaffe Fassett. The bold prints, the high contrasts- it all just seemed too much. I was worried that the prints would interfere with the clear sharp lines of my paper pieced designs.

These days I have conquered my fears. I embrace the challenge of finding the perfect printed fabrics to sew with and I love the extra dimension that Kaffe Fassett's amazing and vibrant fabrics add to my sewing.

When I was given the opportunity to work with Kaffe Fassett's Artisan Fabrics in the new Red and Pink colourways, I couldn't resist!

My first impression on seeing the fabrics was that there were a couple of prints which were perfect for Lions manes. It seemed like a great opportunity for me to make a lion in preparation for my class at the New Zealand National Quilt Symposium.

The lion pattern is one that I designed a couple of years ago using Electric Quilt 7. Returning to it, I quickly realised that my first job was to update the pattern. I have learnt a lot since I initially released it and I wanted to improve the formatting of the pattern pieces and to present the diagrams in a manner that is more representative of my current patterns. If you have previously bought the lion pattern, you should now have access to the updated file.

Once the pattern was improved, I made the first lion. I was initially a bit cautious about the batik mane fabric, but I love how it worked together with the floral background and solid face.

I loved it, but still had a ton of fabric, so I picked another set of fabrics and made another lion.

At this stage, I had to stop and think. I knew that the logical thing to do would be to keep going and sew some more lions, but I have a low attention span for repetitive sewing and I knew that I would struggle with sewing another two lions.

I took the opportunity to play with layouts in EQ7. I tried two block quilt layouts. I tried 4 block layouts both with sashing and without sashing and finally accepted the inevitable, I needed to keep piecing lions.

The third lion went well. I wasn't initially sure if I had made a good decision for the mane fabric, but I love how the flowers work and I think that the contrast between the different aspects of the design is great.

The fourth lion was a bit struggle. I was chronically unsure about the fabrics- they are a lot more busy than I normally use and the repetition of sewing lions was beginning to get to me.

I kept working and got there in the end.
I was still unsure about this final lion when I went to the Canterbury Modern Quilt Group's monthly sew day, but I was amazed to find that everyone responded to this block the best!

On it's own, I think I would have dropped this block, but when put together with the other lions, he works well.

I had fun putting the quilt together and must admit that I really love the finished quilt. Leeanne Hopper- Quiltmekiwi did a great job on the quilting as always.

I am currently in the process of producing a printed paper pattern for this lion quilt, but I have a problem! I can't think of a decent name for it. Please help me, I'd love to hear your suggestions. If you provide a name that I love, I will send you a printed version of my pattern (when it is finished).

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Teaching a Child to Paper Piece

I'm really excited to be participating in the Back to School Blog Hop 2017. Sam of Hunter's Design Studio has lined up an impressive line up of 32 quilters to teach you some handy tips and trick.There is something for everyone, so make sure you go and check them all out.

Over the past few months I have been teaching my daughter how to foundation paper piece. We have both really enjoyed spending quality time together with a sewing machine and we have learnt a few tricks along the way. I thought that it would be fun to share our experiences with you all.

I should probably start by telling you that my girl 8 years old. She has grown up watching me paper piece, so she is used to the idea of sewing with paper and fabric.  She started to show an interest in sewing a while ago, but her interest really took off when we gave her a little blue sewing machine and an awesome Annabel Wrigley book for her eighth birthday. I am really glad that we made this investment as it has given her independence to explore fabric and has given me the peace of mind to allow her to do it (I would not be comfortable letting her loose on my big powerful Juki).

If I'm honest, she is close to growing out of her wee sewing machine, but I am really glad that we bought it as it has proven that she IS interested and that she WILL use a sewing machine if we buy her a bigger one. She has discovered that one of her favourite things to do is to join me in sewing with the Canterbury Modern Quilters Group. Everyone there makes her feel welcome and encourages her. She sees them all as her friends.

When teaching her to paper piece, I have a few important goals:
  • I want her to be safe.
  • I want her to have fun.
  • I want her to be successful (too much frustration will put her off for life). My daughter sets high standards for herself and can be hard on herself when she makes mistakes. This is something that I try to take into account when we are sewing together. I want her to set realistic standards, accept that she is learning and be proud of what she achieves.  
  • I don't want to stand over her and tell her what to do at every turn. This is not because I am lazy. It's because I think that it is important for her to learn the process of what she is doing so that she can anticipate every step and understand fully what she is doing. I am doing her no favours if I deny her the room to learn and make mistakes. As you can no doubt understand, there is a fine line between too much supervision and not enough. The border will lie in different places for different children.
In order to achieve these goals, I have adapted my usual piecing technique. I try to remain flexible and to alter things that I see are not working and I advise you to do the same. Be observant. Pay attention for problem areas and be prepared to experiment to solve any issues that crop up.

Here is a list of things that I recommend that you consider:

1. Pattern Choice

It is essential that the first pattern that you sew together is not too complicated. I started my daughter with my Kingfisher pattern. It consists of three paper templates, two of which require 7 pieces of fabric to be sewn. The final paper template requires 15 pieces of fabric to be sewn.

As well as the number of pieces, consider how easily the sections can be sewn together. Do they need points to match exactly, or does the pattern allow a certain amount of leeway. The Kingfisher pattern is one which does not have any really critical join points, and if the pieces are slightly misaligned it is not a disaster.

Finally, I would say that you should choose a pattern that your child likes. Perhaps you could look out two or three simple patterns and give your child the final decision as to which one they sew. If they are excited about what they are making, they are far more likely to press on and finish.

The pattern that she is sewing in the photos is my hedgehog pattern from the Woodland Quiltalong 2. It is more complicated as it has more paper templates and more pieces to sew on those templates, but she loves the pattern and it is a straightforward one for beginners to sew together. So far, she has had no problems with it.

2. Time

Allow plenty of time and make sure that you are able to give your child as much attention as they require. Be prepared to take a step back as they gain in confidence. It took three sessions for my daughter to sew her kingfisher- one paper template per session. Each time that she started anew, she needed a short reminder as to what she was doing. The reminders became shorter each time.
The third pattern piece was the most intensive to sew and she grew a wee bit tired and frustrated by the end. I offered her the chance to stop if she wanted to, but she was determined to keep going. Towards the end, I had to encourage her to go for a run around the block to clear her head. This was supposed to be a fun activity for her, so when it threatened to turn into a battle, it was time for a break and a change of scenery. 

3. Piecing Order

Take a critical look at the pattern before you start sewing. You don't have to start piecing from section A. I would suggest starting from the easiest template, one with the least pieces to sew and the fewest nasty angles. 

4. Adapt your Technique

I adapted a few aspects of my usual paper-piecing technique for my daughter in order to make it more appropriate for her age and abilities.

Cutting the Fabric

At this stage, I have taught my daughter to cut her fabric generously. I am happy for her to learn more about accuracy at a later stage when she is more comfortable with the technique.  I would argue that beginners need to learn the logic of the technique rather than worrying about scrimping on fabric.
If fabric wastage bothers you, then don't let your child use your most precious fabrics. My daughter has her own fabric stash, but I'm pretty relaxed about giving her access to most of my fabric and she knows that she is welcome to use fabric from my scrap baskets. Remember, if you are stressing about your precious fabrics then your child will feel it and will not enjoy themself.

Checking whether the fabric will cover the paper. 

As I said earlier, avoiding frustration was one of my big goals and there are few things more frustrating than having to unpick the seam of tiny stitches because your fabric doesn't cover the necessary area.
We developed a wee trick to avoid this. My daughter would position the fabric, then place a pin along the seam line that she was going to sew. She often asked for my help with this step as she found it difficult to manipulate the pin with the required amount of accuracy. After placing the pin, she could carefully fold the fabric back and see if it was correctly positioned. By so doing she avoided having to unpick too much and also avoided shredding the paper by having to resew seams over and over.


Although my daughter is quite possibly capable of using a rotary cutter, I am not yet ready to let her try. I kind of like the idea of her having 5 fingers on each hand!
I have taught her to trim her seam allowances using fabric scissors. If anything she errs on the side of caution and cuts the allowances too big rather than too small. In time I will teach her to use a rotary cutter, but for the moment this is ample accuracy for what she needs.


When I am paper piecing, I am a bit of stickler for pressing each seam. I love the accuracy that this step gives and feel that it improves my finished result. Although my daughter is capable of using an iron, I gave her the opportunity to use a seam roller instead. She loves it and now only presses her seams with an iron when she has finished a complete template.

Let's be honest, it can be hard work and a bit stressful sewing with children, but it can also be extremely rewarding and fun, especially if you manage to tailor the experience to suit your child's abilities.

I really do think that the most important message of this post is to remain relaxed and have fun. If you can do that, you will be amazed by the things that your child can achieve. You will also gift them a skill that will serve them well in years to come.

Thanks for dropping by. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the blog hop. There are some really great posts sharing extremely useful skills:

Check out the line-up:
Day 1 – August 15 – Sam Hunter: How to spray baste a BIG quilt –
Day 2 – August 16 – Mandy Leins: Thread Dread: removing stray bits after quilting –
Day 3 – August 17 – Nancy Stovall: The Sweet Creamy Filling –
Day 4 – August 18 – Ebony Love: 7 Indispensible feet for your sewing machine –
Day 5 – August 19 – Michelle Freedman: Machine throat plates –
Day 6 – August 20 – Teresa Coates: Edge/Under/Top stitching –
Day 7 – August 21 – Kelly Cole: Ten ways to regain your sew-jo –
Day 8 – August 22 – Megan Dougherty: Choose to Fuse: tips for working with fusibles for applique –
Day 9 – August 23 – Kim Lapacek: Tricks to being productive while hauling your kids around –
Day 10 – August 24 – Yvonne Fuchs: Circuitboard quilting on Domestic and Longarm Machines –
Day 11 – August 25 – Sandi Hazlewood: Chain Piecing Quilt Blocks Tips –
Day 12 – August 26 – Juliet van der Heijden: Paper-piecing with children –
Day 13 – August 27 – Maddie Kertay: Fabric folding for any storage solution –
Day 14 – August 28 – Cath Hall: Working with Lawn fabric –
Day 15 – August 29 – Tracy Mooney: Tips for the perfect seam –
Day 16 – August 30 – Teri Lucas: How to bury thread –
Day 17 – August 31 – Debby Brown: Securing machine quilting knots – www.
Day 18 – September 1 – Flaun Cline: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 1) –
Day 19 – September 2 – Jessica Darling: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 2) –
Day 20 – September 3 – Trish Frankland: A bigger blade really IS better?! –
Day 21 – September 4 – Lynn Krawczyk: Build a simple design with hand stitching –
Day 22 – September 5 – Jane Davidson: How to make scrappy HSTs –
Day 23 – September 6 – Linda Pearl: Low cost tips for organizing your sewing room –
Day 24 – September 7 – Christa Watson – Top 10 tips for quilting on a domestic machine –
Day 25 – September 8 – Sarah Nunes: To Starch or Not to Starch –
Day 26 – September 9 – Suzy Webster: Testing fabric for bleeding –
Day 27 – September 10 – Sarah Goer: Machine bind your quilts like a pro –
Day 28 – September 11 – Vanda Chittenden: Beginner paper-piecing tips –
Day 29 – September 12 – Cheryl Sleboda: Needle threading tips –
Day 30 – September 13 – Kim Niedzwiecki – Different thread weights and when to use them –
Day 31 РSeptember 14 РSandra Healy: Conquer Your Fear of Machine Appliqu̩ Р
Day 32 – September 15 – Sandra Starley: The Basics of Antique Quilt Collecting –

Monday, 24 July 2017

Woodland Quiltalong2-Block 3- Hedgehog

This week's woodland critter is a hedgehog.

This little guy was the first pattern that I designed in the woodland2 series. I was playing with the idea of a hedgehog design and had tried a variety of different things, when I thought of having him peak round the edge of the block. I quickly realised that it was the beginning of a new series and had great fun coming up with the other designs.

While the pattern has more pieces of fabric in it than the otter, there are those who will find it easier to sew. The joining of the paper sections requires less precision, there is more wiggle room.

You can now find the individual hedgehog pattern in my Etsy, Craftsy and Payhip stores.

All finished hedgehog blocks posted on instagram using the hashtags #woodlandqa2, #tartankiwi and @tartankiwi by the end of 31 July (in your own timezone) will be eligible to win your choice of 6 Amy Friend pdf quilt block patterns. The winner will be drawn at random.

I am loving seeing all the amazing woodland critters appearing in my instagram feed. You lot are a creative bunch! So many fun colours and textures! Keep them coming!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Animal Quilts

I am extremely excited to share the front cover of my newbook.

The book will be coming out in October, but it is already available for preorder from Amazon and the Book Depository.

In coming months I will share more about the projects in the book, but I think this is enough excitement for one day.

This post contains affiliate links

Monday, 17 July 2017

Woodland Quiltalong2- Block 2 Otterly Adorable

 Meet Otterly Adorable- the latest pattern in the Woodland Quiltalong 2.

The Otter is a pattern which has been in development for a long time. When I originally drew it, he had his mouth open in a cheeky expression.

I loved it, but when I sewed it, there were some imperfections in my sewing. I realised that I had made it really difficult by giving the pattern seven points on a single seam that needed to be aligned precisely when sewing the sections together. I felt as if I was setting people up for dissatisfaction and for frustration. I knew that I could improve on the pattern, but at that moment in time I couldn't think how.

I laid it aside and moved onto another project.

When I decided to sew a second group of woodland block, the otter came out of the woodwork. I quickly realised that the easiest way to fix the problem was by simplifying the mouth. I closed the otter's mouth and looked at the pattern again. Granted there will be people who say that the pattern has lost part of it's charm, but I want people to enjoy their paper piecing experience, so I'm willing to accept the compromise.

This pattern is slightly more complicated than the kingfisher. There are eight paper sections. I strongly recommend the use of basting stitches when sewing the sections together. This will allow you to work as accurately as possible and will make it easier to resew seams which are not quite accurate first time round.

The pattern can be bought as part of the woodland bundle. It can also be bought as an individual pattern.

It can be bought from Etsy, Craftsy or Payhip.

Full details of the woodland quiltalong2 can be found here.


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