Sharing a love of all things patchwork and quilting.
Author: Jane Alcock
I'm a fabric addict who loves all things quilty.
I teach patchwork, have had my designs published in British Patchwork & Quilting and Today's Quilter magazines, as well as appearing on the TV channel Sewing Quarter as a demonstrator and designer.
I have so many things to be thankful for…health, loving family, a comfortable home and a job that I love.
There are many people who I am grateful to, who without whom I wouldn’t have the job that I love…. Chris Franses and Barbara Chainey who have inspired and encouraged me since I first joined their class about 18 years ago (I can’t quite believe it was this long ago and I actually think it might have been a bit longer) Their love of patchwork and quilting was (and is) addictive and they soon became friends, as well as teachers.
When I made the decision to take over our local quilt shop, rather than see it close and have nowhere to buy fabric, they were behind me all the way. Helping me with classes, supplying me with patterns and encouraging me to teach classes myself. Their help and advice was invaluable and always given with love and enthusiasm. All that I am now started with them, everything I teach and demonstrate has been learnt from them, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Without their mentorship, I wouldn’t have had the courage to take on the shop and that wouldn’t have led me to take up a position on Sewing Quarter. My time with Sewing Quarter was an emotional rollercoaster and although maybe with hindsight, I might have done things differently, it is a time that I am grateful for. I learnt so much and met many amazingly talented and creative people, many who have remained friends.
Sewing Quarter led me to meet and make friends with Natasha McCarty, and I was delighted when she asked me to join her at Natasha Makes. Her enthusiasm is contagious and her love of fabric and fabric crafts shines through. Her belief in me was amazing, especially at a time when my confidence was quite low and her determination for me be a permanent member of the team was incredible, she has always supported and encouraged me to believe in myself and I can feel myself regaining my confidence bit by bit. The other members of the Makes Team also support and inspire me, we are truly amazing together.
There is also my mum, who’s love of fabric, crafting and creating has always been an inspiration and her advise invaluable. and Glen, my husband, best friend, number 1 fan and true love, who made it all possible with encouragement, belief and support.
I have so much to be thankful for and I truly am, but mostly I’m grateful to you for following me, watching my demos on Natasha Makes, asking me to give talks and workshops, and for buying the patterns and fabrics, so I can carry on doing the job I love.
Well…. so much has happen since we last spoke, hasn’t it?
This whole pandemic thing has really changed some of our lives hasn’t it? I hope that you’re OK and haven’t been too badly effected.
It’s certainly strange times and boy! aren’t we glad we have our crafting, to help keep us calm and take our mind off things.
Many of us have put our sewing skills to good use, making scrubs and masks – I made some scrubs bags (my dress-making skills are not that good). For many people life has carried on as ‘normal’ – medical staff, care-worker, supermarket staff, delivery drivers and utility workers, all for whom I’m so grateful. I was furloughed for 14 weeks but am now back at work, which feels a little strange at times – it’s feels quite unusual to try to chat to customers with a face covering on and I have even more admiration for medical staff who have to have full PPE on for up to thirteen hours at a time!
I have been working with Natasha on her show Natasha Makes and have been doing some designing and demonstrating – this week I demonstrated the Star Tile wall hanging/mini quilt and used the Creative Grids Kitty Cornered ruler to create the unit to make the ‘Star ‘ block, but I also gave the templates to make the units using template plastic or foundation paper piecing.
I only gave basic instructions in my pattern for Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP), so I thought I would share some more detailed instructions for those who have never tried FPP before.
Foundation Paper Piecing can be a little daunting when seeing it for the first time, as it’s a different way of doing patchwork, working on a foundation , usually paper, but you can use fabric or light-weight interfacing.
You will usually need to print or trace the pattern onto paper and the instructions will tell you how many – use the thinnest/ cheapest paper you can – you can buy foundation paper, but economy printer paper works just as well.
Trim your pattern around the edge leaving a gap around the line for the seam allowance
Following the numbers on the pattern starting with one, cut a piece of fabric that will cover the shape with a generous seam allowance
Turn the paper over and pin the shape to the paper so that it covers that area – hold the paper up to the light so that you can check you’ve got it in the right place – remember you need to have fabric going past the shape lines for seam allowance
Flip the paper back over and cut the piece of fabric to cover shape 2
Turn the paper over and place the second piece of fabric right-side together on top of fabric one, so that the edge of fabric one and two are together ready to seam and hold together with your fingers, turn the paper back to the printed side and place a pin along the line between area 1 & 2 (this will be the seam line), pinning through the two fabrics.
Turn fabric 2 back to make sure that it still covers area two and covers the seam allowance around the the area, flip it back down and turn the paper over and pin the fabric down with pins adjacent to the line, ready to sew
Sew along the solid line between area 1 & 2, using a smaller stitch length than normal (on my machine I use 22) and starting and finishing in the seam allowance area
Turn the paper over and check again that the fabric covers area two and into the seam allowance. Fold the paper back from the fabric, so that the seam allowance is exposed
Place the 1/4 inch mark of your ruler along the seam line and trim any excess fabric away
Fold the paper back down and turn over to the un-printed side and fold fabric two back and flat against the paper, you might want to press it down to get it nice and flat, pin the fabric to the paper, to prevent it flopping about
cut a piece of fabric to cover area 3, making sure it cover at least a 1/4 inch over fabric 1 and into the seam allowance
Turn the paper over and place fabric 3 right-sides together over fabric 1 and hold in place and turn the paper back to the printed side and pin along the solid line, through the two fabrics
Flip the paper over and fold the fabric back to check that it still covers area 3 and the seam allowance, fold it back again ready to sew. Turn the paper back to the printed side and pin through the paper and fabrics adjacent to the solid line between area 1 and area 3.
Sew along the solid line between area 1 and 3, starting and finishing in the seam allowance.
Fold the paper away from the fabric and trim a 1/4 inch seam.
Fold the paper flat again and turn it over to the fabric side, fold and press the fabric back to cover area 3 and pin in place.
Turn the paper over to the printed side. Lengthen the stitch on your machine to the largest you can (it’s only tacking, so needs to be easy to remove) and sew around the square in the seam allowance quite close to the edge.
Trim the square on the fine line which is the edge of the seam allowance.
This is one quarter of your star unit, you will need to have four to make the block. Sew two quarters together and the sew the two halves together, you can use the sold line as a stitching guide.
Once you have made your block, you can then remove the paper, taking care not to pull the seams – I use a dampened cotton bud to run over the line of stitching on the paper side, this softens the paper and makes it easier to remove.
I hope that you will give this method of patchworking a try, you can create some really intricate designs. I’d recommend looking at Jo Carter’s Two Owls Design and Victoria Peate’s Little Black Duck for some fun and quirky FPP patterns to try.
Isn’t life funny? You amble along quite nicely thank you then BAM! something happens and knocks you for six!
It’s not the end of the world and nobody died but my life has suddenly lost its thread…I felt pretty safe and thought I knew what & where I was going and had a pretty good idea what was going to be happening.
However, I’m a positive person, my glass is usually half full (if not over-flowing most days!) and I’m a great believer in thing happening for a reason.
You might be wondering what on earth I’m blithering about and if you don’t know me – let me bring you up to date…..
I used to own a fabric shop The Corner Patch, selling fabric mainly for patchwork & quilting, teaching and hosting classes & workshops and occasionally demonstrated patchwork on a TV shopping channel, Sewing Quarter. In November last year, Sewing Quarter asked if I’d like to become a permanent member of the Sewing Quarter team and I agreed. I was able to sell my shop in May and thought this was going to be the next adventure. However, TV retail is very different from a little fabric shop in a rural town, it’s fast paced and hectic and I decided it wasn’t for me and resigned my position in September. Sewing Quarter kindly agreed to keep me on as a guest designer.
However, Immediate Media who own Sewing Quarter decided to come out of Television Sales and sold Sewing Quarter’s sister channel Jewellery Maker to Gemporia and Sewing Quarter is looking for a buyer and in November, informed all the guest designers they would no longer be having demonstrations.
I am in the middle of doing a Block of the Month series and wanted to carry it on for all the customers who had supported the idea and bought block kits for the first five parts. I’ve set up a website and a new facebook page and decided to do a Facebook live to demonstrate the block, but Sewing Quarter got in touch to ask me not to….. it’s a slightly grey area…Sewing Quarter own all the designs that I did for them whilst an employee and have exclusive rights for 12months for designs I created as a guest designer. The blocks are very traditional and not an exclusive design of mine, so patterns are widely ‘out there’.
Block 6 is a Saw-Tooth Star with a pinwheel block in the centre square.
It is what is known as a ‘stretched nine patch’ – made up of nine units, the middle units are bigger than the top and bottom units. It is made up of a centre square, four smaller corner squares and four ‘Flying Geese’ units.
So, I’d like to share with you how to make ‘Flying Geese’ units – there are several different methods of making Flying Geese and I’d like to show you the ‘Five Squares – No Waste’ method.
To create 3” x 6” units you will need:
1 x 7 ¼” square in cream
4 x 3 7/8” squares in your chosen colour (I’ve used red)
Mark a line across the diagonal from corner to corner on all the small squares.
Place two of the squares, right sides together, on top of the large square, in opposite corners, ensuring that the marked lines run from corner to corner. They will over-lap in the middle, don’t worry.
Sew a ¼” seam each side of the marked line.
Cut the square in half, along the marked line.
Press the two small triangles, up and away from the cream triangle.
Place a small square, right sides together, on top of the large cream triangle, lining up the edges and ensuring that the marked line runs up towards the gap between the two small triangles. Again it will be a bit bigger than the triangle.
Sew a ¼” seam each side of the marked line.
Cut the triangle in half along the marked line and press the triangle up and away from the large triangle. You will have created two Flying Geese units.
Repeat again, with the remaining small square and the other large triangle/two small triangle piece.
You will have four Flying Geese Units.
Next time I’ll show you how to create the centre pinwheel square.