Saturday, March 7, 2015

Hexagon patchwork : English Paper Piecing

My goal for this year is making a miniature quilt. I found that English Paper Piecing is the recommended way for small geometric shape/tessellation quilts. I started with hexagon patchwork. At first I thought it was time consuming method as we had to work twice (I mean basting and piecing steps) and why the stitches are shown. I had tested and tried in different ways, tools and materials. The tips and technique that I share below was what I found and the way I work.

I: Materials and Tools

Paper Template - My favorite paper is 170 gsm cardstock. I had tried typical printing papers, cardboard and expensive plastic templates and don't like them all. I also printed and cut all paper templates myself.

Needle - I prefer short and small needle like #12 quilting needle.

Thread - I always leave the basting thread in my quilt so white threads/batting colored threads are my choice. I use both polyester and cotton leftover threads for basting. For piecing, I use coordinated color 50 wt cotton threads. At this time, 50 wt Aurifil is the best.
Fabric - Tight weave fabrics as quilting cotton, lightweight cotton are the best. I tried to use lightweight linen and the result is really bad. If I have to use them again, machine piecing and lightweight woven interfacing may help. Precut fabrics are awesome for hexies.

Plastic template - The most fun part of patchwork is Fussy cutting/Crop cutting. I make cutting templates from clear PVC sheet. I usually use square shape. If the prints are close or small hexies( 3/8inch or smaller), I will use the circle. Hexagon with 1/4 or 3/8 seam allowances is my last choice because it is the hardest way.

II : Basting

Just like the traditional way, I place the paper template to the wrong side of the fabric square. Fold the seam allowances over the template and baste.

I use paper clips, small binder clips and plastic binder clips for secure fabric and template while basting. I use a small back stitch to secure the two edge at each corner. If the edges are longer than 1 1/4", I will sew a few running stitches in seam allowances. The stitches will not go through paper template.

III : Piecing

 I use small, short whip stitches. I had tried ladder stitches and I got the weak and crooked seams. My favorite way is whip stitch while holding the folded edges together, not right side together like traditional way. With this way, the needle will catch only the back fabric and the stitches are almost invisible.
I found that plastic binder clips are useful when work with small size hexies. In this photo, they are 3/8 inch hexagons.

 For a hexagon flower/Grandmother flower, I assemble the petals (6 outer hexagon) and then join this c-shaped unit to the center hexagon.

For larger scale hexagon patchwork, I join them by row and then sew each rows together.

IV : Removing the template.
I just use my hands to remove the template. Use left hand to open the seam allowances, then grab the flat edge of template with right hand and pull it off. For 1/2" hexagons and smaller sizes, I use tweezers.

Happy sewing.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Robot head iPad case

I'm back!!
I made this iPad case on April and forget to wrote about it. So sorry for not posting for a long time.

This is the 1st machine project after the coming back of my machine. My husband requested for his iPad case for months and I would like to try the new applique' method that I decided to do by machine. It mixed between back basting method, raw edge applique' and cutwork. I could not find the proper term for this method. Is it "reverse applique"? I didn't use fusible web for this project as I think it look soft and artsy with fray edge. As the design has a lot of small details and my hubby need the durable case. He was waiting for this case for a long..... time. I had to make it as fast as possible so machine applique' was the best choice.
(For back basting  I found the interesting blog posting here (You may find a lot of online articles about this method, just google "back basting". ) Almost of the articles for this method are hand work. I may try it someday, I think it is great for carry-all projects.)
The original picture had seen on my hubby's hobby magazine cover. It was too small and blur edge so I scanned the picture and computer drawed the new outline and add more details. This robot is Gandam RX78-2 from japanese manga.

This is how I made this case.

Resize and print the pattern on tracing paper, reverse the image.Bind the design on the wrong side of background fabric(Black). In this photo I hand-paint black color on the eyes and some spaces that need to cut out the white fabric after stitching.

And bind the applique' fabric(White) on the right side.

Adjust the machine straight stitch length to 15 stitches per inch. Stitch along the printed lines. From my experiences, the longer stitches may loose when we tear the paper off and the shorter stitches are bulky and may ruin the paper pattern before we finished. However the stitch length depend on the thickness of your paper if you use the regular paper (the standard printed paper or photocopy paper), you may use the shorter stitch than mine.

Rip the paper and adhesive tape off. I found the the 3M-Magic tape leave some glue residue on the black fabric so if you want to try this method, basting may be the better choice.

Trim the white fabric next to the applique' edges.

Join the top and back panel to the block. Then place the patchwork unit and backing right side facing together on top of the batting. Stitch around ,leave the opening on side and turn the right side out. Hand sew to close the opening.

To secure the applique pieces and quilting this pieces, FMQ along the outline of the applique' and quilt in the ditch next to the seam of top panel. Then hand assembled both side. Why do I choose to do it by hand? Oh, it is my hubby request, he want the soft, no-bulky seam case and bigger than normal case as it is easier to grab.
So it finished.

Happy weekend

Friday, March 22, 2013

90 minutes Quilt

Alternative way for Square Patch Quilt. For this technique we'll quilt while piecing the stripes. It's so simple and easy, I'll try it someday.

Happy sewing.


Inklingo is alternative method for piecing and applique'. Just iron fabrics with freezer paper, print the sewing line with seam allowances on fabrics cut and join. Just used your inkjet printer. Good for who can find "Freezer Paper" and have ink jet printer. I would like to try this method but can't find the most important thing...The freezer paper. (I can order it online at Reynold website but the shipping cost is is about 2 times of the actual price so I think I should find an alternative way.)

Happy sewing

Useful online articles for sewing

I found these useful links while searching "sewing".

Encyclopedia of needlework
How to Sew By Hand - Basic Stitches

PDF Online
Hand stitches 
Sewing stitches
Stitches and Seam Techniques
Hand sewing
Basic sewing steps  machine sewing for puppet dress. Including with how to sew the zipper, button, snap button, eye and hook and velcro.
Free sewing book : sewing lessons for the beginners from
Glossary of terms
Hand sewing needle guide from 

Google book
Claire B. Shaeffer'book lists

I'll add more links in the future.

Happy weekend

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tortoise Shell Purse : my first pattern

The first pattern is an adorable coin purse that inspired from ...turtle (what else?). I spent a month for it, designing and making the purse are easy steps but using the computer drawing program is not. I can made this purse and take the step-by-step photographs in a day and then spent the other days for drawing, printing and checking ....repeat the process again and again to make sure that had no any mistake.

This purse is the excellent project to the hand-sewing lover, there is only one step that can do by machine. As I had tried to join them by both ways, I found hand piecing is faster and easier. It is also the proper way to use the beautiful scrap fabrics and the leftover batting.

Now available on my Craftsy pattern shop and Etsy shop.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Handmade turtle doll

I made it on tuesday and finished on yesterday morning for my newborn niece. Because of my sewing machine incidence, I have to do it all by hand. Well, I think it is easier with hand sewing as there are a lot of curves and sharp corners ,it is my first time to make all-handmade-cloth doll, so addictive. I will do it again if I find proper fabrics. The doll is made from super soft Korean fleece that cannot be find in my area right now. I bought it from .....somewhere ( blame my short memory) and leave it in my fabric storage box for a long time. I think that I had a plan to make some of children goods in that time.
I try to update this posting on my iPad with blogger app, very difficult, because of a tiny keyboard, why google team do not release the iPad app, typing on iPad with iPhone keyboard is ridiculous.

Happy sewing!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

5-Minute Block

I had seen this technique from Suzanne McNeill's video, make the curve blocks easier than before. I had seen her 10 Minute Block but found it a little bit confuse...OK I admit...I still can't understand her techniques. For this new design, She revealed the block size then I do it. For the large block we need 3 5 1/4" x 10" rectangles and small block need 3 2 7/8" x 5 1/4" rectangles.


I would like to buy her books but they aren't found in my area. Could she make eBook? 

Happy Sewing!!

Stop for machine sewing for a while.........

Today my sewing machine is broken again when I have so many projects in have-to-do-it list. First is my square bag that still in progress (Oh, waiting for the proper zipper, I found it out of stock in my supply shop, why everyone bought the brown zippers?). The second, my husband's Ipad case that my machine is stop during the applique' process. I try new applique' method (for me), reverse applique' that I will show you next time when  my machine come back. The third, pumpkin handbag , I got an idea and draw it in my Ipad yesterday, have a plan to cut the fabric but everything have to stop because of the same reason and I still have no free time to bring it to repairing center.
What should I do?
Maybe I should go back to little hand sewing project, EPP hexagon?

Hope you have a nice day!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Make a potholder in minutes.

Make your potholder in a few minutes, no binding, no piecing. Just fold fabric and stitch. I had try this technique, it's fast but we have to work with several layers of fabrics, so we need a very sharp needles. I used jean sewing needle. If you would like to try, I suggest to choose thin or medium weight fabrics. For the circle pot holder I just sewed the circle and trimmed the excess fabric and turned right side out. For the large patch I joined 6 potholders together. I used the cheap tribal cotton fabrics for this project, I found that they are too stiff for piecing so I used them for making the potholders and table clothes.

Happy Sewing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

3 Pockets Big Square Bag

Last year I designed and made it for my bestfriend as a diaper bag. I have a plan to make it again because I would like to try to sew zipper by machine. It is easy with straight edges but for curve edges a little bit difficult.

Today is cutting time!!...and basting the table runner.

Have a nice day!!