Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-Along: Block 10 Ava

I hope everyone is having a fun time sewing along with us for Farmer's Wife Quilt-along! How many blocks have you sewn? Well, I only managed to make three?! That's really slow I know! But don't worry, I'll try to catch up really soon!^_^

It's week 5 of our Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-along and here I'm back to share a little about Block 10: Ava. This block is SO easy and satisfying to make. I have absolutely no problems handsewing Ava block! All straight line end-to-end sewing. No Y-seams, no curves... nothing. It takes me only about two hours to complete (from printing to cutting to sewing)! 

The story behind this block is very inspiring. Children were seen as angels or treasures to cherish even during the difficult depression period. The author, Synthetic Mother from Ohio, was an amazing lady who adopted two babies whom she loved so deeply like her own. ".... it's the most satisfying experience I ever had - so much better than going through life with empty arms." she wrote. These words etched so deeply in my heart after reading. I found myself so much more willing to put down my sewing very often these days just to be around with my children. To treasure their presence and to enjoy our lives together as a family. 

The fabrics I chose for this block were pure coincidental. I picked the fabrics just by looking at the block diagram before reading the story. Kids, little chicks, grass, flowers... Then after reading the heartwarming story, I realised, don't the fabrics fit so perfectly into the story?? I was rather surprised with myself! 

I really adore how this Ava turned out to be. It looks a lot better than I imagined! It gives me the kind of fluttery feeling in the tummy whenever I look at it. Super love!

Since the templates are all symmetrical, the drawing of templates on the fabrics is straightforward. I have mentioned a point in IG regarding some of the blocks with asymmetrical templates like blocks 3, 4, 5. It's important to note that the templates are right side up, so you have to flip the templates when drawing on the wrong side of fabric. Or, you can flip the page before printing out the templates from your computer! It's your choice.

To answer a few questions sent to my email, I use Clover Patchwork Needle size 8 or 9 (you can get it here and here) and Fujix hand quilting thread in natural cream color for handsewing. The needle size is good for me to catch more than 7-8 continuous stitches every single time before a backstitch. Continuous stitches is important to ensure a straight sewing line and not a crooked or slanted one. You can choose to use normal (machine) sewing thread but I find it breaks a lot easier so I prefer handquilting thread which is stronger. 

One more question is about how I cut the pointy edges of the templates. I have no specific answer to that because I'm still figuring out! But this is what I normally do. I try to align the ruler perpendicular to the pointy edge with 1/4" seam allowance.  It works most of the time but not everytime. A simpler way is to cut the pointy edges only after  you finish sewing. Well, if you do have a good idea on this question, we will be very happy if you can share with us!

Here's how the back of the block looks like. 

So here it is, block 10 Ava of our Farmer's Wife Quilt-along. Hop over to Kerry's blog to read more about block 9 Autumn and previous blocks. She has many many tips on foundation paper piecing as well as information from other talented blogger friends about english paper piecing! Please continue to sew together with us and enjoy!xx

Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-along: Block 1 Addie

Hello everyone! I'm very happy to kickstart this Farmer's Wife 1930s Quilt-along (organised by talented Kerry!) with our first block: Addie. 

fyi: I'll be handsewing all the blocks. Yippee!

Addie is a delightful block with a beautiful and touching story "Happier than ever before". If you read it once, you will wish to read it over and over again just like me. Will you be happy giving up a comfortable life in town and modern conveniences or even material things like electric washer just for two cows, a range and a faraway garage? The author Mrs H. S. L. wrote "... But don't think it's all work and no beauty, for we have a nice garden, sweet smelling pines, and worlds of wildflower..." She definitely sounded so much "happier than she ever have been before".  I can imagine her smiling with contentment watching her kids running wild and free in the farm while she work as a farmer's wife. Now I truly understand, it's really the most simple things that can actually bring the most happiness in life.

Anyway, I handpieced this block without any difficulty using my traditional handsewing patchwork method. There is a diagrammatic instruction in the book for each block on how to piece the templates.  I followed the templates exactly with a seam allowance of 1/4" throughout. And you know what, there is no Y-seam at all! I was mistaken at first sight that there might be Y-seams but actually, all sewing in this block is just end-to-end sewing! Easy peasy! 

For fabric choices, I usually love mixing various or clashing prints and colours. Even for a single colour, I would prefer to choose two or three different fabrics to add to the element of fun and surprise! So you can see from this block, although there are only three colours needed, I chose seven different fabric prints!

When you handsew for some time, you will realise it's almost second nature to know where you should press the seams (more often towards the darker fabric). There's no right or wrong. This is how I did it:

How I prepare each block before handsewing:
- print template to actual size 
- cut out template and paste on cardboard (e.g. cereal box) 
- draw 1/4" seam allowance around the templates 
- use a sharp penknife (I recommend X-ACTO craft knife for precision) and cut around the templates 
- cut out the templates 
- choose fabrics 
- draw templates on fabrics 
- cut fabrics 
- relax and start sewing! 

I love how this Addie block turned out! It looks cheerful, optimistic and really happy!

If you are more keen in paper piecing this block, please feel free to hop over to Kerry's blog learn more! You will be surprised that there's so much you can learn and do with each block!

I hope you will enjoy sewing (english or paper piecing or even handsewing) this Addie block as much as I do! Enjoy!xx

My Pamela Pouch

This pattern is by my talented sewing friend Kristyne from Pretty by Hand and it's an really amazing one. When I say amazing, it means the instructions so easily understandable and follow. I could sew everything from the beginning to the end without stopping to think "hey, is there anything wrong?" Seriously, I'm pretty surprised by myself that I didn't change a thing about sewing for this pattern (I have a bad habit of not following instructions). My pouch looks just the same as the picture (except the embellishments and fabric choice) finally!

I've saved this pretty cheater fabric by Atsuko Matsuyama to make something for myself. It was the best choice for this pouch because I can't stop looking at it everyday.

Embroidery is something I would love to learn well someday. This fabric was great for me to practice!

The back of pouch has a different fabric placement. How can I do without florals?

I didn't realise the most of the zipper part will be hidden but this floral zipper peeking through looks just as lovely too.

I used a simple brown gingham fabric for the lining. It makes the pouch looks very Japanese and very zakka.

This pouch is now my sewing pouch! I carry it everywhere with me. The handles make carrying a breeze (especially from room to room in the house). Look at how roomy it is. I can stuff so many things in one small pouch. Just my ideal pouch size with a giant capacity and functionality.

Definitely a keeper's pattern! I'm all ready to make another one very soon!^_^xxx

You can get the pattern here.

Round zipper pouch step-by-step tutorial (a zakkaArt sewing kit)

Thank you everyone for the overwhelming response for this round zipper pouch sewing kit! It was an unexpected pleasant surprise. There will be more coming to my new big cartel shop soon. 

Above are two of the three kits that were debuted a month ago. I personally love each of them so much. 

As promised, I'm writing a step-by-step tutorial on how to make these adorable round zipper pouches. They are fun and easy to sew, just perfect as gifts for your loved ones!

Each sewing kit is different and unique. Not two kits are ever the same! 

Here is what you will get in each kit, plus a one-page hand drawn instructions. Needle and thread are not included in the kit. All templates are cut as much to precision with hand drawn stitch lines. **THERE IS NOT A NEED TO TRIM ANY FABRIC/BATTING ALONG THE WAY.** The bindings are cut at bias for flexibility during curved sewing and ironed for visible stitch lines. 

#Since each of us uses different tension during sewing, the templates may shrink and seem smaller than the batting or interior fabric when laid on top of one another. It doesn't matter at all. They will eventually match up during binding. And anyway, sewing is not about perfection but enjoyment!#

##If you are new to hand sewing, please feel free to read up #handsewpatchwork series to learn about hand sewing. You will probably need basic sewing knowledge/skill to handsew this round zipper pouch.##

(note: please drop me a mail if you are unclear of any step or picture. The pictures look a little darker because they were taken on a rainy day.)

So let's start sewing now! 

Step 1: Take one of the triangles, pin to match the points and sew from point-to-point. Take a few stitches at a time so you will be sewing a straight line. Do a back stitch at the beginning and end, and also after every 4-5 stitches. Tie a knot at the starting and end points.

Step 2: Repeat the same Step 1 for all the triangles. You don't have to press the seams now.

Step 3: Take the curved template and align it to one of the triangles. Here, there are two ways to sew. The easier way is to sew from point-to-point-to-point again. It's Y-seam sewing here. However, I prefer the other method which is sewing from end-to-point-to-end. 

This picture shows how to sew Y-seam at the point. When you reach the meeting point, unpin then pin the neighbouring triangle before you continue sewing. Remember to give a back stitch at the meeting point. You can read more about hand sewing Y-seam here, here and here.

Then sew all the way to the end on the hand draw line (my preferred method).

This is how the front looks like. Do not press the seams now.

Step 4: Take another curved templates to the triangles using the same method (whichever you choose) as step 3. For my method, the idea of of sewing all the way to the end is to secure the seams down. Here I show the back on how I pin the next curved template.

Repeat sewing for all the curved templates. 

There you go! You have completed the patchwork! Now you can iron down and press the seams towards the hexagon. They should lie on top of one another quite nicely.

Step 5: Now you are ready to quilt the patchwork. Place the patchwork on top of the batting and interior fabric (right side down). Pin in place and hand/machine quilt to your desired pattern. There is no fixed rule to the quilting pattern.

ps: can you see that my patchwork is a little smaller than the batting? It's perfectly ok! Do not trim anything!

Step 6: Now it's turn to hand/machine quilt the back of the pouch. Place the back fabric on top of batting and interior fabric (right side down). Pin in place and quilt to your desired pattern. Again, no fixed rule to quilting this. I used simple lines for quilting. 

*note: I have always emphasised how important it is to learn to hide your knots during hand sewing or quilting so that your work doesn't look messy with knots everywhere. I hide every single knot I have.  To hide a knot, simple tie a knot first then using your needle to go through the same hole as the knot and give a little tug. The knot will disappear into under the fabric.*

Step 7: Next is the binding. This pouch uses single fold binding. Align the bias binding around edge of the pouch and pin in place. Sew along the ironed-line. You can use back stitch to sew the binding but I don't. I just use continuous stitches and back stitch at every 4-5 stitches. They work just as good.

This is the easiest way to sew the binding end is to just fold in about 1 inch of one end of the binding then overlap the other end and sew through the layers.

Use ladder stitch to sew the binding down.

When you reach the end of binding, I find it easier to sew down the bottom layer first then overlap sewing the top layer. It looks neater this way too.

Now you have the front and back of pouch all quilted and bound! The circles do not actually lie flat. There should be dome shape. 

Step 8: Here comes the zipper! It's really not so scary to sew a zipper. In fact, I enjoy sewing zippers a lot! It's really easy. First, align the teeth of the zipper to the edge of the pouch. The tail and head of the zipper should be aligned at halfway mark on both sides of the star patchwork (see pic 2). I chose the length of the zipper for this easy purpose. Remember to pin the zipper tail a little inwards because we don't want the zipper to get in the way later during sewing.

Back stitch the zipper in place.

There are two ways to stitch down the bottom of the zipper. The first way is to use blind stitch  (see pic 1). The second way is to use herringbone stitch (read more about how to sew herringbone stitches here). I always use the latter as decorative stitches.

Step 9: Repeat step 8 to sew the other side of the zipper to the back of the pouch.

Step 10: Last step is to whip stitch the two sides of pouch close! Do a triple stitch at the beginning to secure. Sometimes I do four stitches (see top pic). Be sure to start your sewing just beside the metal catch of the zipper. Use small stitches so your pouch will not have gaps.

For the last stitch, make sure you sew it very very close to the zipper end so when you flip over the pouch, there is no gap.

Flip the pouch inside out and here you are! Your very own finished round zipper pouch! 

Enjoy! xxx