Trying new things – English Paper Piecing

icaniwill

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I recently challenged myself to try something new – using only the the materials I had on hand.  I’d learned the Lori Holt method of machine applique using Pellon sew-in interfacing and now wanted to try something involving handwork. A hexie embellished pillow on Pinterest caught my attention, so I decided to give English Paper Piecing a try.

Yes, I’m a bit late to the EPP party. Better late than never!  The good thing is there are any number of videos on YouTube that will teach you the basics, should your library not have a book on the subject, or you have time to attend an in-person class. EPP isn’t hard, nor does it require much investment on your part to get started.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1″ hexie papers.  (Templates available here.  Print on card stock.)
  • Glue stick (Borrowing your kid’s purple glue stick is perfectly fine!)
  • Needles (Applique or Milliner size 10 or 11)
  • Beeswax/Thread Conditioner
  • Thread (50 wt, 60 wt or 80 wt)
  • 2-1/2″ square fabric scraps
  • Small, sharp scissors
  • Wonder clips or pins
  • Thimble

I used the glue baste method to make my hexies. I experimented with 3 different stitches to join my hexies together to form a flower:  whipstitch, ladder and flat-back. For me, the flat-back stitch was the hands-down winner!

Helpful hints:
* Laminate the entire printed page before cutting out the individual hexie templates.
* Use a small hole punch to punch a hole in the middle of each template. This makes for easier template removal later.
* I found Milliner needles size 11 to be the perfect fit for me.
* Thread preference is 60 wt Coats & Clark Fine or Superior Bottom Line poly threads.
* My Clover desk needle threader was a godsend as the milliner needles have tiny eyes (you can buy large eye Milliner needles, but I was using what I had on hand).
* I detest sticky fingers, so I wasn’t a big fan of the glue stick method until I watched a Sue Daley video where she demonstrated the SewLine glue pen.  That glue pen, along with the laminated hexies, helped minimize the glue reside on my fingers.
*If you are cutting your squares from jelly roll strips, consider picking up a hexie template like this one.  It makes the underside of the hexie a little more uniform and easier to tack down.

Additional Video Resources:
Sue Daley EPP School
Hexie thread basting 
Flat Back Stitch 

P.S. Why EPP?  I’m taking a professional development course for the day job that requires me to watch videos each week. I need something to do with my hands while I watch the videos.  🙂

 

Kid’s Club Schedule for 2019

Believe it or not, Miss Jackie and I have set the monthly classes through December 2019!

January – Hot Chocolate Mug Rug
February – Chenille Heart Door Hanger
March – Fabric Bunny Basket
April – Oven Mitt
May – Big Chicken Door Stop/Tablet Holder
June – no club
July – Drawstring Travel Bag
August – no club
September – Lined Pencil Pouch
October –  Pumpkin Coasters (set of 4)
November – Bowl Cozy
December – Gift Bags/Card Holders

We meet the 2nd Saturday of every month from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Class fee is $15 plus supplies.  Snacks are included.

We prefer that you bring your own sewing machine in good working order.  Stitch N Quilt offers machine service, as do Sewing Doc and Ashby Sewing.

A limited number of sewing machines are available for student use. Please let the shop know when you register. I bring sewing machines with a speed controller.

Policies:

  • Students must be 8 years old/rising 3rd grader to attend classes.
  • Students must be good listeners and able to follow directions.
  • Parents/caregivers are welcome to stay; however, realize your child is going to want you to participate along side them!
  • Classes are limited to six students. Payment is required at time of sign-up.
  • Some sewing machine familiarity is helpful, but actual sewing experience not always required.  That said, the January and November club projects are more involved and best suited for kids who have attended at least 3 sessions with us.

 

 

My Singer Featherweight Must-Haves

In this post, I’m referring to the original vintage 221 Singer Featherweight. 

  •  A name. I’m one of those folks who names my cars, but didn’t really think to  name my sewing machines. When I joined the FW FB group, many posters had given their beloved machines a name.20190101_001219Juliette, my FW, is named for the fiercely independent, diminutive,  80-something years young woman who burst into my life so many years ago.
  • Modern accessories that really make sewing on this vintage machine a pleasure:
    • Scant 1/4″ foot with seam guide
    • Flat mount Thread Cutterz
    • Thread stand (to use with cross-wound spools like Aurifil – makes a difference!)
    • LED light bulb (personal preference is the warm light)
    • Electronic foot control
      Comments:  I always use a scant 1/4″ seam when I piece – regardless of sewing machine used. Some people prefer to use the original Singer presser foot and an acrylic seam guide. I like to use clips/pins to hold my sections together when I sew. The screw down seam guide gets in my way.  The electronic foot control preserves my original Bakelite foot controller, plus I find it WAY more comfortable to use when sewing.
  • Updated Travel Case – Many FW users I know love to take their machines with them whenever possible to sew-ins, classes and quilt retreats. Your options include  replica cases, wheeled bags and/or padded carry totes. If you don’t want to buy a bag, consider making a tote/padded cover for your original case. It will help protect it. I frequently travel with a sewing machine and prefer a padded tote with a shoulder strap. This cute project bag from Blue Fig is a great size for the FW (or any 3/4 size sewing machine) and has a bit of room leftover to hold your project and supplies. I took the bag to a recent sew-in and was able to carry a small folding cutting mat, wool press mat, SteamFast travel iron and my precut project in the same bag as the FW.  The bag will also fit in the overhead bin on an airplane and supposedly fits under most seats.  We shall see!

Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with any of the companies linked in this post. I am merely a satisfied customer sharing which products add value to my vintage FW sewing machine experience. 

Slow and steady progress

Merry Christmas to me!  I wore my new, smaller size jeans to dinner tonight!

You see, I began this journey back in late June.  My original plan was to be at my goal weight by Christmas. Instead, I’ve made it to the half-way point.  That’s okay with me. I’m choosing to celebrate my progress rather than bemoan the fact I probably have another 4-6 months to go before I am at goal weight.  The reality is it’s much harder to lose weight in mid-life than it was in my early 20’s.  From mid-November through New Year’s, I merely want to maintain my weight and enjoy the holidays. So far, so good.

My Christmas present was a trip to the week long Featherweight workshop and Lori Holt quilt retreat in McCall, Idaho in June, 2019.  I WILL be at goal weight when I get on the plane bound for Boise with Juliette, my beloved Singer Featherweight sewing machine, in tow.

In this world of instant downloads, quick quilts and rapid weight loss, we tend to forget how hard it can be to achieve an important goal. Slow and steady progress is still progress and should be celebrated. It gives you incentive to keep moving forward toward the end goal. Last Friday, I went around with the reading incentive cart to reward students who’d read at least 10 books during the 9 week grading period. Several of my second graders had blown the doors off that goal. They were so proud when they showed me their reading logs. All of those readers had advanced by at least two full reading levels during this grading period.  Kind of like my weight loss. It might be slow, but it’s been steady and I’ll eventually get to my goal about the same time my second graders get to their year end reading level goal (Level M on F&P for those who are curious).

Merry Christmas and here’s to an exciting 2019!!

 

 

 

It's Take Your Dogto Work Day (1)

Happy Turkey Day!

Mom asked me to remake my Grandmother’s vintage placemats that were literally worn out.  (She originally asked in 2017, but I am happy to report she got her placemats in time for Thanksgiving 2018.)  I decided to turn this into the November Kid’s Club project. I’m also happy to announce that thanks to numerous requests, an official pattern will be coming soon. 🙂

 

 

Professional Development Day = Reality Check

Today, I got to attend the state educational technology conference. I really enjoyed meeting up with some of the library colleagues whom I almost never get to see and compare notes on lessons, books and what’s working/not working in our libraries.  As much as the “research” shows fixed schedule media centers are definitely not best practice, more and more Cobb elementary specialists are being placed into the specials rotation. It was rather disheartening to learn today that one of my colleagues was placed in the rotation at her school this year.  When my colleague reached out to our district supervisor for help, she shared that she was informed that it was “her [my colleague’s] own fault that she got put in the rotation.”  Ouch!  (I’m sure there’s a lot more to the story on both sides.)  That said, I feel her pain. It’s the same supervisor who responded to my sewing/maker club by commenting “how quaint.”  Now, you see sewing machines as a regular part of STEAM activities and maker spaces. 

At the end of the day, I realized that while my situation isn’t ideal, I certainly don’t have it as bad as some other folks.  Think I will focus on being a little more grateful for the current job instead of bitching about it all the time.

Grateful for:
1. A job that pays decently well.
2. A job I enjoy most days.
3. A certain level of autonomy with what and how I teach.
4. The opportunity to be creative during the day (maker space).
5. Colleagues I really enjoy working with.
6. Admin that encourages professional development and skill building.
7. Opportunity to give back/make a difference (even if the munchkins don’t appreciate it.)

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