I have so many things to be thankful for…health, loving family, a comfortable home and a job that I love.

Bargello a technique I learnt with Chris Franses

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.


An Update and Foundation Paper Piecing

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.

Star Tile Quilt
Star Block
Star Quarter Unit

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

Foundation Paper Piecing Template

Following the numbers on the pattern starting with one, cut a piece of fabric that will cover the shape with a generous seam allowance

fabric covering area 1

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

pin the fabric to the reverse side of the pattern

Flip the paper back over and cut the piece of fabric to cover shape 2

Turn the paper over and cut a piece of fabric to cover area 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.

pin along the line
pin the fabrics together

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

pin 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

sew along the line

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

fold the paper away

Place the 1/4 inch mark of your ruler along the seam line and trim any excess fabric away

trim the seam allowance

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

fold the paper back
pin fabric 2 down

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

cut fabric to cover area 3 and seam allowances

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

pale fabric right-sides together over fabric 1 lining up edges
pin along the solid line

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.

check that the fabric covers area 3 and seam allowance.

Sew along the solid line between area 1 and 3, starting and finishing in the seam allowance.

sew along the seam line between A1 and A3

Fold the paper away from the fabric and trim a 1/4 inch seam.

Fold the paper back & trim the seam allowance

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.

fold and press the fabric back and pin the loose edge

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.

sew around the square in the seam allowance

Trim the square on the fine line which is the edge of the seam allowance.

Trim the excess paper & fabric along the edge of the seam allowance line.

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.

one quarter unit of the Star Block

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.

Until next time,

Stay safe and happy stitching

Jane xx