My sister asked me months ago to make a giraffe themed quilt, the remit was simply that… giraffe oh and beige/browns. Now my sister knows how much I love a challenge and I will admit to having lost my quilting mojo over the last 8 months or so following some tough personal times. I think she set me this challenge knowing firstly that I wouldn’t say no, and secondly that it would help me to get my mojo back!
So I set about looking for inspiration and I happened upon a pattern by Quilt Art Designs on Craftsy and was completely drawn to the cheeky expression on this little guys face. Problem… I have never done any Foundation Paper Piecing before… I mean I’ve watched hundreds of YouTube videos on the subject and read articles and well you get the gist… I know the theory but in practice…?
Feel the fear and do it anyway!!
Well that was the idea… I had my pattern but I put it off… I needed fabric! So I went online and found fabric, 17 different kinds. I went with fat quarters because I figured that was the most economical way to go about it. Bought the background fabric in yardage/ by the metre and waited for it all to arrive. It soon showed up and I had no other way I could avoid this. Yes I was being a total wimp but the reality had set in that not only had I not quilted in over half a year but this was advanced stuff! I’m an art quilter, nothing I make is planned beyond a central image and being an art quilter gives me room to adjust and adapt a design as I sew. Its haphazard but I like this way of working because I like to think on my feet. This pattern called for accuracy and forward planning…. HELP!
So I set about printing the pattern and giving it a good read so that I could decipher what went where…After the third read through I was slightly less bewildered and ready to dive in.
I cut up all of the paper pieces and took great pains to make sure I was accurate with the cuts. Numbered the fabrics with sticky labels so I didn’t lose which fabric I was using for which number in the pattern and off I went. Now… I made a lot of mistakes, I ripped many seams, I swore profusely at both my sewing machine and the fact that I had ever decided to start this project to begin with. I got turned around with angles and had minor break downs after the third time of ripping the same seam… I had moments where I stitched the wrong fabric on the wrong number allocated and once or twice decided it was close enough and left them there. Now I’m a pretty experienced sewist, I’m self taught and over the last 6 years my skills have grown way beyond anything I could have ever imagined when I started. In fact my textiles teacher at school told me ‘you will never have a career in sewing… don’t ever touch a machine again!’ (hands down easiest way to make me determined to master something) but this project had me standing on my head at times. I say this… however I loved every minute of it! This blog post wasn’t intended to be a ‘how to’ so I wont give you step by step instructions on how I went about it. I can only hope that you enjoy the story of my first try at FPP and the rediscovery of my mojo!
So the idea with FPP is that you stitch the fabric directly onto the back of the paper, trimming and pressing as you go… in the order that the pattern tells you. This worked… mostly…
I must apologise here because I forgot to take a picture of the piece once trimmed, mostly because I roped my partner Chris into the pressing and trimming part of the job! Production line sewing for the win!
After plenty of trial and error with angles and lots of ripped seams I discovered that if you place the fabric right side up and fold the paper piece along the stitch line you can place the fabric in the prime position so that when you open it out post sewing you wont swear and have to start again! (see pics)
I didn’t take any pics of myself putting the pieces together either (I will do better on the next blog I promise!). It is essentially like a jigsaw puzzle but with instructions!
I decided that the way this block went together reminded me of a crazy quilt and chose to echo that in the stitching/quilting. I also wanted Charlie to sit slightly proud of the rest of the quilt so I quilted him on a piece of batting by himself first.
Then I squared him up to 16″ and decided to frame him with a 2.5″ strip. I decided that I wanted to echo the fabrics used on him in the outside frames so went with a simple patch frame. I cut squares at 5.5″ and tested the layout.
I decided on a 5.5″ frame in the background fabric which I also used as the backing fabric. Sandwiched using temporary spray adhesive (fabric safe) and pinned approx. a hands breath apart to make sure he didn’t shift or pucker during quilting. I was nervous about doing the quilting because it has been some time. So I decided to keep it simple and stitch in the ditch plus some additional straight line quilting to add dimension. I am happy to report that I managed to complete him with no puckers or picking stitches or swearing (too much) and once I had trimmed and bound our lovely Charlie I was more than happy with the result! In fact I’m not sure I want to part with him at all!!
I think the moral of this story is two fold, firstly when you lose your mojo sometimes all it takes is a little nudge from a loved one to make you pick up your tools again. And secondly don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! This was a difficult but rewarding foray into the world of FPP and I have to say… I am looking at new designs already!