The Honey Pot Bee – Coral Crown Block

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Hello and welcome to Frankenstein’s Fabrics! My name is Marni Franks and I’ll be one of your Queens for November’s block party.

The block I’ve chosen is one I designed, taking inspiration from traditional star and crown style blocks adding a little twist here and there.

When I first designed this quilt it was for a magazine commissioned piece and was sea-themed so in my head it was all about the ‘crown’ feel of the block – like sea anemones and sea urchins.

WARNING: This block has 69 pieces in it. I made 25 of these blocks for my quilt and it can be tedious making so many but making one block is fairly straight forward.

So let’s get started!

Note: Fabric descriptions as per my block

You will need:
Four, 4 1/2in squares of halloween character print
Four, 2in squares of dark sludge green spider web print
Four, 2 1/2in squares of light purple plain batik
Five, 2 1/2in squares of dark purple tone-on-tone spot
Four, 2 1/2in squares of light sludge green tone-on-tone spot
Eight, 1 1/2in x 2 1/2in rectangles of dark purple tone-on-tone spot
Eight, 1 1/2in squares of dark dark sludge green spider web print
Four, 3 1/2in squares of dark dark sludge green spider web print
Four, 3 1/2in squares of light purple plain batik
Eight, 3 1/2in squares of light sludge green tone-on-tone spot

Here we go!

9-Patch centre 
Dark Unit: Take one square of 2 1/2in light purple and two squares of dark purple. Stitch one dark square to either side of the light purple square and press the seams to the darker fabric. Make 2 units like this.

Light Unit: Take one square of 2 1/2in dark purple and two squares of light purple. Stitch one light square to either side of the dark square and press the seams to the darker fabric. Make 1 unit like this.

 

Abutting the seams stitch one dark unit to the side of a light unit. Press the seams. Attach a second dark unit to the other side of the light unit. Press the seams and set aside.

Half-Square Triangles
Pair up 4, 3 1/2in squares of light green with 4, 3 1/2in squares of light purple. With right sides facing, draw a pencil line diagonally from corner to corner across the wrong side of the pairs of squares. Stitch 1/4in either side of the drawn line. Cut along the drawn line and press open. Trim the squares down to 2 1/2in.

Note: I always make my HST units a little bigger than I need so I can trim down to size without any dramas. If you don’t feel comfortable with cutting squares at 3 1/2in go up to the 4in mark.

Repeat this for the remaining 4, 3 1/2in squares of light green and the 4, 3 1/2in squares of dark green.

Corners – make 4
Take one 4 1/2in square of halloween character print and in one corner place with right sides facing, a 2in square of dark green. Stitch across the diagonal, trim away the excess, 1/4in from the seam and press the corner open. NOTE: Please make note of rotation of your 4 1/2in square before attaching your dark green corners, in case you have a directional print like I do.

Tails – make 8
NOTE: Separate your pieces in half (two lots of four). You need to do this so that when you stitch them together you create a left and right-hand unit. 

Take a 1 1/2in square of dark green and a 1 1/2in x 2 1/2in rectangle of dark purple. Place the dark green square, with right sides facing, at the top of the purple rectangle. Stitch across the diagonal (either left or right), trim away the excess, 1/4in from the seam and press the corner open. Make 4 left and 4 right units.

Crown Unit – make 4 of each
Using the photos as a guide lay out the units, checking their orientation.

Take one light green 2 1/2in square and attach a dark green/light green HST unit to either side (check rotation). Press the seams. Piece 4 green units like this.

Take two light green/light purple HST units and piece them together (check rotation). Press the seam. Attach one left and one right tail unit to either side of the paired HST. Check the rotation of the tail unit. Press the seams. Make 4 units this way. See photo above.

Join a pair of the above units together lengthways. Press the seams. Repeat for all 4 units.

Take 2 Crown units and join them to either side of each of the 9-Patch centre. Press the seams.

Finishing the block
Take one of the Crown units and two 4 1/2in halloween character/dark green corner squares and attach one to each end rotating so that the dark green corner is in the bottom corner, use the photo as a guide. Repeat pairing up corners and units to make 2.

Using the above photo as a guide join one corner/Crown row to the upper edge of the Crown/9-Patch row, press the seams. Repeat with another corner/Crown row on the lower edge ensuring you check the rotation is correct. Press the seams.

Ta da!

Below is the quilt I made for Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine – it’s actually the current issue Volume 27 No 8 and is available now. As you can see the use of just two colours in a light and dark tone really reveals the tertiary and secondary designs that the block creates.

If you have any questions about this block you can comment below, email frankensteinsfabrics@hotmail.com, ring me on 0416 023 637 or you can find me in the Honey Pot Bee group on FB.

I can’t wait to see your blocks!

Happy sewing!

Marni xx

 

 

 

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Angled bindings other than 90degrees

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Hello!

Been a little while since I’ve been here in blogland but I’ve been asked for my method of binding quilts with angles other than 90degrees. There are a few ways to do this but this is my method and as always I do recommend that you try a few ways first before settling on the method that works best for you.

I also use a 3in wide binding rather than the usual 2.5in as I find when binding by machine it allows me a little more wiggle room.

So here we go –

Join your 3in binding strips end to end with 45-degree seams, then trim the seams and press them open. Press the binding strip in half lengthways with the wrong sides facing. With raw edges aligned and mitring the corners as you go, stitch the binding to the back of the quilt top, starting on a straight edge.

When you reach the 120degree corner, stop a 1/4in away from the edge, and then stitch off the edge of the quilt top stitching to the point (photos 1-3). Fold up the binding as shown in photo 4. Fold it back down aligned with the raw edge (photo 5) and continue sewing, repeat on each point that is 120 degrees.

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5

 

When you reach a concave (facing inwards) angle, snip a 1/4in clipped notched into the quilt top (photo 6), angle the quilt top so you are sewing a straight line (photo 7 and 8). This is easing the binding into the angle.

Photo 6

Photo 7

Photo 8

 

When you reach the 60degree corner, stop a 1/4in away from the edge (photo 9), and then stitch off the edge of the quilt top stitching to the point (photos 10 and 11). Fold up the binding as shown in photo 12. Fold it back down aligned with the raw edge (photo 13) and continue sewing, using the techniques for each angle.

Photo 9

Photo 10

Photo 11

Photo 12

Photo 13

 

Trim the surplus backing and batting 3/8in from the stitch line, and then turn the binding to the front and topstitch it in place using photos 14 – 18 to finish the 60 and 120 degree corners.

Photo 14

Photo 15

Photo 16

Photo 17

Photo 18

 

Photos 14/15/16 showed how to roll the binding up to finish the 60-degree point.

Photos 17 and 18 show how to position and finish the 120-degree point.

If you have any questions or would like me to make a video of this method, please let me know in the comments or you can ring 0416 023 637 or email me at frankensteinsfabrics@hotmail.com

Happy quilting!

Marni x

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Problem solving #1

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I asked on my FB page a few days weeks ago for followers/customers to let me know what patchwork/quilting problems they’ve been having or would just like to know more about. There were a few requests that I’ll work my way through and if you have anymore ideas to add please let me know in the comments or email me – frankensteinsfabrics@hotmail.com

This blog post is aimed at one question –

“How to arrange a quilt top and backing when both are pieced? To centre both when there’s wadding in the middle and keep them in place while basting.”

Firstly we need to separate your randomly pieced backings from those that have a feature. Also you will need a flat surface to work on, plenty of room, safety pins, thread snips, ventilation if you use spray glues and some patience.

Randomly pieced backings can simply be centred by folding in half and marking the folds top and bottom. Fold in half in the other direction and mark the side folds. Repeat this process with your quilt front and when basting match up the marks. You can make extra marks if you choose – thirds for example – to make sure your matching up is as straight as it can be. Marks can be made by marking pens/pencils or safety pins. I find pins to be better as you can feel them and it just makes it that much easier to locate them underneath the fabric and wadding.

For a backing with a feature you can use the same process but you will also need to mark the centre of the quilt. You can use the folding technique as described above but you should also check the centre mark by measuring from the edges of the quilt into the centre point.

I have helped students baste quilts like this – pieced back and front for reversible quilts – and the easiest option for basting is to use a spray basting glue like 505 (we sell this at Gosford Sewing Machine Centre for $17 per can, it’s unable to be posted). The reason it is easier is that you can spread the quilt and the backing out and spray baste in sections allowing the matching up of marking points as you go. You can always peel back a section that has been basted and re-lay it to realign and match marks.


Alternatively if you want to take matching marks to a whole new level you can use a fabric marking pen and mark grids on your wadding. I have done this a couple of times but only on small projects in a similar way to marking up grids for pixel images. It is more fiddly because marking pens don’t always work well on wadding so it does take longer to draw out the marks you need.

If you are sending your quilt away to be quilted you will need to discuss with your long-armer what you want to achieve with your centred backing and ensure that there is sufficient allowance around all sides of the backing and wadding to accommodate any adjustments.

If you are quilting your quilt on your machine at home you may need to quilt in small sections and then take the quilt off the machine and lay it out again to ensure that there hasn’t been any shifting of the backing/wadding/quilt top. It does mean spending extra time preparing and working on a quilt but in the long run it will be better for it. Take it slowly and don’t rush.

If you have any questions about this post please ask in the comments and I’ll get back to you.

Happy quilting!

Marni x

 

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2017 My Modern Round Robin

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Late last year I signed up for a round robin being run by @cedacanthus on Instagram.
I’ve never participated in a round robin before and I jumped at the chance to tick this off my quilting bucket list.

We had to make our own centre – designing something that we loved and would help the group add to it. We are in groups of 7 quilters, and each of us will add a border of our choosing to 6 centres. Each centre that we receive will mean we add a different border on at each stage – meaning so far I have added a first border and a second border.

My centre, as usual Halloween related –

We posted off our centres at the start of the year. We’ve received the first person’s centre and attached the first border, then posted it to the next quilter in the queue. And at the beginning of March we received the second centre which is currently being worked on and is due to be shipped on the 1st of May. We get two months to receive, design, and sew before the next shipping deadline.

This is @red_flossy’s hot air balloon centre that I added a polaroid block border and continued her request for the film strip edge –

I’m currently working on an appliqué border for the next one. But I’m keeping it under wraps until I’m ready to send. 🙂

This year has brought me some different opportunities and I’ve taken them because life is just too damned short. Last year reinforced that lesson and this year I’m making changes. I’ll be sharing these exciting things with you this year, on this blog, now that I feel like writing again.

Marni x

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Patterns…and a teeny rant…

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Ever since I started sewing – and I’m talking way back when I was learning dressmaking at school – I have had a love/hate relationship with commercial patterns.

I threw in the towel with dressmaking after trying to make a pair of tailored culottes where the instructions told me to sew what essentially amounted to a 90degree seam, which had the unfortunate result of sewing one of the legs shut.

I gave up because it was too frustrating to tackle at the time. I do still own that pattern – buried somewhere in my sewing cupboard – however I highly doubt I will attempt it again. I would be more inclined to ask my work colleague, who has far more experience in dressmaking and bridal, for her help. Thanks Danielle!

But this tale of sewing woe has a point. It may not be pleasant for some of you out there to hear but a recent pattern purchase has made me see that I DO have to say something about it.

If you have ever written a pattern to sell, it NEEDS to be edited before you finalise your files for PDF’ing or printing.

Now I’m not talking just a spell check (that’s a start and you should be doing that anyway), I’m talking about having someone read-over your work so that a) it makes sense, b) flows properly and c) is helpful to those who will be reading it. It also needs to be formatted but I’ll get to that and a few other things later. First let’s tackle the main stuff that’s potentially driving away repeat customers and their money.

a) Making sense: This point should really speak for itself but unfortunately it isn’t always the case. This can be for a variety of reasons – for example; maybe you’re tired or in a rush to finish up the pattern – if you are tired or in a rush please just slow down or take a break. The pattern won’t run away and an hour less of sales while you take a nap or have a coffee WILL NOT HURT. Read through your pattern, read it out loud (to yourself or another person), have someone else read it, whack it into a program that reads aloud text like Text to Speech Reader and listen to the pattern being read out loud. By listening to your words, you will hear and pick up mistakes. Mistakes like repeated words – because you’ve typed too fast and doubled up or been distracted and typed appliqué three times – or things that just don’t sound right in your explanations, descriptions or methods.

Rule of thumb: Fresh eyes and ears help. Start by running your pattern through spell check and then go from there.

b) Flow: Flow and point a) go hand-in-hand, however flow will be more obvious, because what you have written is a set of instructions where it’s more important to get flow right so the progress of what is being made is done in the correct order. This is where many people rely on technical editors or pattern testers. Please don’t let this aspect slide – there is nothing worse than dealing with angry or upset customers because they can’t put together a project when the step-by-step instructions are in the wrong order.

Rule of thumb: Many pattern designers put a call out online for pattern testers – these are people who volunteer to make the pattern as it’s written and provide feedback. There are some who get paid and others who do it for fun and a free pattern. Who you use is your call.

c) Being helpful: This point walks a fine line between giving too much information and not enough to a customer. A pattern should not assume too much prior knowledge of the customer (basic sewing skills, terminology and product names for example) as this leaves out large swathes of information. A pattern should give a brief overview of the pattern’s needs (techniques, skills need, level of difficulty) so that the person making the project can then judge where they sit and what they will possibly need to search out on their own.

I have advised many of the people that I edit for to explain and then point people in the right direction – therefore giving reason for why something isn’t included and then pointing them to where to find such information. E.g. Binding – there are heaps of ways to bind a quilt. Find one that suits your style/taste/skill level and bind this quilt in the way you like, measurements for your binding fabric have included strips of up to 3in wide. Binding tutorials of all types can be found on blogs, YouTube and craft sites like Craftsy.

Rule of thumb: Give the customers the info they need. Don’t be overly wordy. By guiding them in the right direction you make them happy and they’ll come back because they know you can help.

Now for the nitty gritty…

The pattern I purchased recently was from a well-known designer. The pattern cost almost $30 and basically was a few photos with captions and the appliqué templates. In my personal opinion – not worth the money. If I had no prior knowledge of appliqué or quilting I wouldn’t be able to make this pattern.

Now what I am about to say is all my opinion. I am happy to discuss and listen to others however this is me speaking from 10+ years of pattern writing for sale, magazine contributions and editing for other designers.

A pattern could/should include the following:

  1. A title – the name of your quilt, project or artwork
  2. An intro – a brief sentence or two about what it is/inspired you/technique or process explored
  3. Materials list
  4. Important notes – preparation for materials (washing), seam allowances, etc.
  5. Finished size of project if applicable (can also break down into block size for quilts if you want)
  6. Cutting instructions
  7. Preparation (making templates, tracing, ironing etc.)
  8. Assembly – can be broken down into block types or sections – such as sashings, inner and outer borders etc.
  9. Preparation for finishing the project (usually ironing, basting and sometimes embellishments)
  10. Quilting – description of what quilting was done to the quilt, name of quilter if sent to a professional long-armer etc.
  11. Binding and label – how to bind the quilt, suggestions for what to write on the label
  12. Contact details of designer
  13. Blurb for copyright and licensing, terms and conditions for pattern usage

As you can see there is a lot of work that goes into a pattern. So, my question is why don’t patterns seem to get that final touch they deserve? That final gloss to make them as perfect as they can be?

I don’t have an answer for that except for maybe budget and time. Designers are always under pressure to put more patterns out there as fast as they can and many designers might just be a one-person show may not have the budget to spare to send their patterns out for editing.

Now back to the other things I mentioned earlier – formatting, standard text and unusual instances.

Formatting:  Is basically setting out the text/images/diagrams so that your pattern is easy to read and follow. Pick a typeface (font) and size that are clear and easy to read (no Curlz MT please or heaven forbid Comic Sans!!). Make sure headings are clear, maybe you would like them a size larger than the regular text or bold them so they stand out. Sub-headings look good in italics. Ensure lists are numbered or use bullet points or dashes. You can change the colours of the text but keep in mind what it will look like if printed out – pale colours will fade out on white paper for example. Keep regular text black and if needed highlight important points in a strong colour like red (like you need to cut something 6 times). Centre images and diagrams, keep text to the left and for any tables you might have adjust as needed but keep in line with the other formatting you have done. Consistency is key.

Standard text: I have somewhere around 450 patterns that I have typed up over the years and standard text is my time saver trick. I have a folder on my computer with snippets of text that I use all the time. Things that don’t change much or a description that I’ve gotten to a point that I’m happy with the flow of. For example; binding instructions remain the same except I change the fabric description and the number of strips used. Particular blocks like Half Square Triangles – I have text saved for it and once again just change the fabric descriptions, then I change the size of the pieces cut.

Standard text is also useful for things like your contact information, copyright and licensing and your terms and conditions for pattern usage. Once you have these down pat, save the text and re-use for each and every pattern.

Unusual instances: This is the section where I am going to put a few rules that you might not know. Numbers are the most common thing we use in writing patterns – sizes for tools, materials lists, cutting instructions etc. However, there is a formatting rule for numbers that you need to pay attention to as it will prevent confusion.

  • Numbers 1-9 are written as numerals
  • Numbers ten and up are written as words (ten, thirteen, twenty etc.)

You can also write them – “Lay out nine (9) squares…” to help avoid confusion within the text itself however in cutting instructions you need to be extra clear. I like to use the below example –

Cutting instructions –

From the pink floral print cut –
– Seven, 6in x 4in rectangles

The other thing with patterns (mainly quilting ones) is that here in Australia we use both metric and imperial measurements. So, for the ease of my customers when they go shopping, my materials list gives them both. Metric so they can tell the shop assistant what they want and imperial so they know what it is when they start cutting from the instructions.

Materials list –

30cm (12in) pink floral print

————————————————————————————————————————-

I am putting this post out now because this is something that I am passionate about and because I see the other side of it… I teach a class, it’s my most in demand class, called BYO project. It’s aim – for students to bring along a kit or pattern they have purchased from a designer or craft store and despair at making because they cannot decipher the instructions. I decipher the patterns for them and guide them through what should have been written there in the first place.

I have been editing patterns for pattern designers for a few years now and the most common themes I’ve been told are things like they are saving time dealing with people complaining about mistakes answering emails with corrections and chasing reprints. They are also starting to see customers returning, more in sales and feeling like their patterns are more complete.

I have spoken in several groups before about editing patterns and 98% are resistant because they don’t want to pay for the service and they think their work is fine as it is. I can tell you that it’s nigh on impossible to find a perfect document. It can always be better. Small changes can make a big difference.

So to that effect, to those out there that think they don’t need an editing service performed on their patterns… pick one and send it to me as a Word doc, I’ll edit it for FREE and send it back to you, sending you two files – one with tracking (all the changes I will make and suggest to you to make) and a clean file (which will be a final copy of all the changes I make) – so you can see the difference, see how it is done and maybe in time, learn what to watch out for in your own writing.

I will be only accepting the first 6 people to comment. When I have replied to you please email your pattern to frankensteinsfabrics@hotmail.com

If you have any questions please feel free to email me and ask.

Marni x

 

 

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