Getting Ready - Celestial Star Stitch-Along November 30 2017

Celestial Star SAL - Getting Ready

This is Carolyn Pytlik (chesire_cat_quilts) leading the Red Thread Studio Celestial Star SAL.  I've always enjoyed the intricacies of needle turn hand appliqué and of counted cross stitch on linen.  These hand works made adapting to EPP and fussy cutting natural, as they are "slow sewing" and they require attention to even the smallest of detail.  The wonders of creativity you can explore with fussy cutting can be very rewarding. I always make time to fulfill my creative hunger. 

Celestial Star was designed by Sharon Burgess of (LilabelleLane). This gorgeous English paper pieced quilt offers lots of opportunities to play with your fussy cutting. The finished quilt is 59-1/4inches square.

In the first ten months of the Stitch-Along, we will work on the larger color bursts.  For those working with the fabric kits from Red Thread Studio, I will show you specifically how I approached each component of the color burst and how to tap into the potential of the chosen fabric.  For a preview of my fussy cutting method, you can check out my tutorial HERE.   In April, I will also share strategies for working with awkward shapes and specifically the wings in these stars.

At the end of the year, I will share my thought process for working with the smaller star bursts.  You will have enough fabric leftover to either shadow my design choices for fussy cutting or to branch out on your own.  In the last month of the Stitch-Along,  I will share tips for putting it all together and suggestions for finishing.

In the meantime,  be sure to gather up any supplies you may need.  January is right around the corner!

  • Pattern – The Celestial Star pattern can be found in the book Quilting on the Go: English Paper Piecing by Sharon Burgess.
  • Papers and Cutting Templates -  You can cut your own papers and templates but to save time for stitching, you may want to purchase the complete EPP paper and acrylic template set.  This set is already included with the monthly fabric pack from Red Thread Studio.
  • Fabric – If you will be using fabric from your stash, I  will discuss strategies for selecting fabrics in my January blog post including size and repeat of motifs, my process for auditioning fabric and fabrics to avoid. These tips also lend themselves to other EPP projects.   In any case, it's not too late to order a monthly fabric kit from Red Thread Studio.  The first month of fabric will ship in late December.  Whichever path you choose, do not prewash your fabric for fussy cutting.  You can, however, use cold water and a Color Catcher (found in the laundry section at the grocery store) when you wash the quilt later.
  • Thread - I have never used anything as perfect for joining EPP shapes as the Superior Threads Holy Super Bobs Donut.   In all seriousness, it is the only thread I have used that doesn't constantly break, separate, or unravel from rubbing against the papers.  Any "old" thread for basting will do. 
  • Glue Pen – Glue basting is an option, and it is quicker than thread basting.  To get the results I am seeking, I may reposition my fabric numerous times so thread basting makes this easier for me. And, I really enjoy the basting process.  For those of you who glue baste, you will need lots and lots of refills!
  • Needles -  I personally use a 9 (sometimes a 10) straw/milliners needle.  I use the same needle for basting and sewing, so it's a happy medium. If you are new to EPP, I suggest you practice with various types and sizes of needles to determine the best fit for you.
  • Fussy Cut Viewer - I cut mine from plain white cardstock by tracing the paper piece to be used onto the cardstock and carefully cutting it out.  
  • A Marking Tool - My favorite is a Sewline fine mechanical pencil.   You will need a pencil with a very thin, soft lead that does not need to be sharpened. When sharpening a pencil, the lines vary enough in consistency to make a difference. For the large majority of this quilt, I used the black lead and for  the remaining portion, I used another sewline pencil with white lead.  I worked with 2 pencils so I wouldn't have to refill the pen every time I changed a lead color.
  • A Sandpaper Board – I use the board behind the fabric to keep it from shifting.
  • Small Wonder Clips – I use these for holding the fabric to the paper pieces when basting.
  • Sharp Scissors -  I prefer Karen Kay Buckley light blue six inch scissors for the serrated edge which grabs the fabric and her small scissors for snipping threads.
  • Magic Mirror – These a great help for viewing fabric.   It is important to remember that a mirror gives you a reverse image.

Let the fussy cutting adventure begin!

Getting Ready - Girl Next Door Quilt-Along November 26 2017

 Girl Next Door QAL - Getting Ready

This is Charlotte Noll (@kirkenoll) leading the Red Thread Studio Girl Next Door QAL.  I have been quilting for many years and will pass along my knowledge during this project.

This sweet scrappy medallion quilt pattern is written by Louise Papas (@louisepapas) for the Jen Kingwell Design Collective.  Finished size is 71inches square...perfect for that special little girl in your life or to snuggle up with when you want to remember feeling like a little girl!

First let’s discuss the plans and getting ready to sew.  Following will be the order in which the quilt top is created, concentric row by row and then finishing:

  • Center Schoolhouse block (1)
  • Picket fences borders (4)
  • Flower corner blocks (4)
  • Girl border blocks (24)
  • Dog corner blocks (2)
  • Cat corner blocks (2)
  • House border blocks (24)
  • Shop border blocks (4)
  • Tree corner blocks (4)
  • Quilt Assembly, Quilting, Binding

My favorite thread for machine piecing is Aurifil 50wt thread - thin, strong and very little lint.  I will be using #2021 Natural White with a new 70/10 sewing machine needle.

It’s a good idea to clean and oil your sewing machine according to instructions before starting a project.  After do some stitching on scrap fabric to make sure any oil residue is removed.

Before starting to work on any pattern, check the designer's website to see if there are any changes that need to be made. I’ve incorporated the changes for this pattern at this writing but there may be new ones to verify. See Jen Kingwell’s Erratas information before starting.  Still need the Girl Next Door pattern or fabric pack?

Rotary Cutting vs Plastic Templates -  The pattern pieces are mostly made up of templates. However many of the templates are rectangles that can be measured and easily cut using a rotary cutter.  I will provide the template measurements and template tips as part of the QAL so you can easily cut what you need and get to the fun part of sewing faster.  Putting a new blade in your rotary cutter is always a good way to start a new project.

Before cutting the fabric pieces it’s a good idea to press the fabric.  I sometimes use a spray to make the fabric nice and crisp.  My favorite is Magic Sizing that you can purchase in the grocery store in the laundry section.  Other people use steam (I love my dry, no-holes, heavy vintage iron), starch, Best Press or other products to make the fabric easier to work with.

Some of the pieces are not rectangles and you will need to create a plastic template to cut properly. Others simply put the template sheet on a light box and trace the shape on the fabric with a pencil then cut out. When cutting using a plastic template, especially one with a long straight line, put an acrylic ruler next to the template and use the ruler edge to make the cut. It will be more precise and will avoid cutting the plastic template piece.  If your template is slipping put a small piece of non-slip shelf liner between the template and fabric and that will hold it better while cutting. I used 4 clear template sheets.

Precision - For all the rows of this pattern to fit together correctly it is necessary to cut the pieces precisely and make sure you are sewing with a true ¼” seam. If you are a beginner there are online tutorials for precise piecing and checking your ¼” seams. I always use a ¼” seam presser foot for my sewing machine. Along the way I will point out places where you can verify you are staying on target and where you should pay particular attention to matching seams and points.

Pinning - it’s a hot topic! I’m a pinner from way back but it takes time so I’m trying to use less. I find that if I pin at the beginning and end of a seam and only where matching is needed that is enough. These are my all time favorite piecing pins, very thin and sharp - Karen Kay Buckley Short Perfect Pins . It also helps to sew with the side that has the most opposing seams facing you so that you can make sure you keep them flat and open.

Pressing the sewn seams is also very important.

  • For this pattern I’m pressing the seams open (unless directed otherwise) to reduce bulk and avoid shadowing of the printed fabric to the light backgrounds.
  • Sometimes I press the newly sewn seam to set the stitches flat if needed.
  • I use a Strip Stick to help press the longish seams open without disturbing the rest of the block.
  • For bulky seam intersections, I use The Wacker hammer to help flatten them if possible.

When a block is completed I like to give it a final press on a fluffy towel using just a little Magic Sizing to flatten all the seams nicely.

I will be Big Stitch Hand Quilting using Sue Spargo - Eleganza Perle Cotton Size 8 - colors TBD. If you are interested in this method see my Big Stitch Quilting Tutorial.

In January, the first step is cutting and sewing the Center Schoolhouse block. Let the fun begin!

Celestial Star Stitch-Along Introduction October 31 2017

Celestial Star Stitch-Along


We are excited to offer two virtual Stitch-Alongs in 2018!  (CLICK HERE for Girl Next Door QAL).

Celestial Star is a gorgeous English paper pieced quilt designed by Sharon Burgess of Lilabelle Lane that offers lots of opportunities to play with your fussy cutting.

Please welcome Carolyn Pytlik - fussy cutter extraordinaire - who will lead the 13 month Stitch-Along for Celestial Star!  Carolyn has been sewing since she was a child. In addition to English Paper Piecing, she likes needle turn appliqué, embroidery, counted cross stitch, fabric and cats.  You can see some of her other projects in progress on Instagram @cheshire_cat_quilts

Here is an overview of the Stitch-Along.  We hope you join us on this fussy cutting adventure!

In this SAL, there will be lots of tips and tricks.  In addition to completing a beautiful quilt, you will learn how to select fabric for fussy cutting and adapt it to your pattern, to apply cutting diagrams on your fabric, and to deal with awkward shapes.

DATES: The SAL starts January 1, 2018 and will finish January 31, 2019.

MONTHLY PLANNER:  Celestial Star is made from two units:  Color Bursts (9 full plus 4 corner units) and Star Bursts (24)

  • January 2018 - Color Burst (make 1) 
  • February 2018 - Color Burst (make 1) 
  • March 2018 - Color Burst (make 1) 
  • April 2018 - Color Burst (make 1) and Introduction to Wings
  • May 2018 - Color Burst (make 1)
  • June 2018 - Color Burst (make 1) 
  • July 2018 - Color Burst (make 1)
  • August 2018 - Color Burst (make 1)
  • September 2018 - Color Burst (make 1)
  • October 2018 - Color Burst Corners (make 4)
  • November 2018 - Star Bursts (make 12)
  • December 2018 - Star Bursts (make 12)
  • January 2019 - Putting It All Together and Finishing

FABRIC:  Explore the fussy cutting potential of your own stash or use Carolyn's handpicked beauties.  This quilt requires 14+ yards of fabric depending on your fussy cutting objectives.  Celestial Star monthly fabric, paper pieces and acrylic template kits available HERE.

PATTERN:  Celestial Star is one of sixteen EPP projects in Sharon Burgess's book Quilting on the Go: English Paper Piecing available for purchase separately.  See photo of original quilt below.  The finished quilt measures 59-1/4 inches square.

PAPER PIECES AND ACRYLIC TEMPLATES: There are over 1,700 pieces in this quilt!  You can purchase the Celestial Star Quilt EPP and Acrylic Template Pack separately or as part of the monthly kit.

CONNECT:  The majority of the Celestial Star SAL will be run on the Red Thread Studio Stitch-Along Blog and on Instagram.  Follow both @RedThreadStudioOnline and @Cheshire_Cat_Quilts to stay up-to-date and to tag us on your Celestial Star posts so we can share your work.  To connect with others who are also participating, use the following hashtag: #CelestialStarSAL 

If you’d like to connect with people on Facebook you can join Celestial Star Stitch-Along Group where we’ll be posting regularly and encouraging people to share.

PRIZES:  There will be monthly prizes as well as a grand prize for one winner who completes their quilt top.  DETAILS COMING SOON!

Celestial Star by Lilabelle Lane


Girl Next Door Quilt-Along Introduction October 31 2017

Girl Next Door Quilt-Along


We are excited to offer two virtual Stitch-Alongs in 2018!  (CLICK HERE for Celestial Star SAL).

Girl Next Door is a sweet and scrappy medallion quilt designed by Louise Papas for the Jen Kingwell Design Collective that offers opportunities to use templates.

Please welcome Charlotte Noll who will lead the 10 month Quilt-Along for Girl Next Door!  Charlotte has been quilting for many years and will pass along all her tips for precise cutting, machine piecing and finishing to make sure your blocks all fit together properly to create this lovely quilt.  

Find Charlotte on PinterestInstagram, and Facebook.

Here is an overview of the Quilt-Along.  We hope you join us! 

The pattern is mostly templates but many of them can be easily cut instead with a ruler and rotary cutter.  Charlotte has measured each pattern piece and has created labels so you can easily cut and arrange for piecing.  Pictures of pattern pieces and layouts will also be supplied.  The pattern is really special, and Charlotte's notes will make it much easier for you to complete.

DATES: The QAL starts January 1, 2018 and will finish October 31, 2018.

MONTHLY PLANNER:  The quilt will be made in the following order:

  • January 2018 - Center School House Block (make 1) 
  • February 2018 - Picket Fence Borders (make 4) 
  • March 2018 - Flower Corner Blocks (make 4) 
  • April 2018 - Girl Border Blocks (make 24)
  • May 2018 - Dog Corner Blocks (make 2)
  • June 2018 - Cat Corner Blocks (make 2) 
  • July 2018 - House Border Blocks (make 24)
  • August 2018 - Shop Border Blocks (make 4)
  • September 2018 - Tree Corner Blocks (make 4)
  • October 2018 - Putting It All Together and Finishing

FABRIC:  Bust your stash with this scrappy quilt or use Charlotte's handpicked lovelies.  This quilt requires ~ 10 yards of fabric.  Girl Next Door monthly fabric kits available HERE.

PATTERN:  Girl Next Door by Louise Papas is available for purchase separately.  See photo of original quilt below.  The finished quilt measures 71 inches square.

CONNECT:  The majority of the Girl Next Door will be run on the Red Thread Studio Stitch-Along Blog and on Instagram.  Follow both @RedThreadStudioOnline and @Kirkenoll to stay up-to-date and to tag us on your Girl Next Door posts so we can share your work.  To connect with others who are also participating, use the following hashtag: #GirlNextDoorQAL 

If you’d like to connect with people on Facebook you can join Girl Next Door Quilt-Along Group where we’ll be posting regularly and encouraging people to share.

PRIZES:  There will be monthly prizes as well as a grand prize for one winner who completes their quilt top.  DETAILS COMING SOON!

Girl Next Door by Louise Papas