Why hello there, 2016!

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As we waved goodbye to 2015 last night, like all new years celebrations before it, many of us turned introspective. Minds turning towards the potential of the new year, whether it be personal or for business.

This year things are changing here at FF HQ. In fact they started changing a little while ago but the big jump into the new things is happening NOW.

Firstly – many of you know I am teaching. You might have been to a class or spoken with me about coming to one when you’re ready. This year is chock-a-block FULL of classes. Click here to sign up for class news. I’m running basic blocks for those who want to get started, project classes where we tackle specific quilts or designs, colour theory for those who are struggling with choosing fabrics and one-on-one classes for those who are determined to get to the bottom of the UFO box.

I am also in the process of designing a new range of quilts and unlike many of my previous designs these will not be headed to the magazines. These will only be able to be purchased through my online store. I’m returning to my designing and writing roots this year because that’s what makes me happy.

This year Dawn Lewis from DawnLewisImagery and I will be utilising a new video style platform in order to bring tutorials and unprecedented access to us in an interactive online session. This will enable you to sit in on a Skype-style video call and talk to us live online and with other customers. If you don’t want to be ‘seen’ on the video call then you are also able to jump in the question section and ask us anything you like. All you need to get started is a Twitter account! I have a session scheduled on the 20th of January at 10:30am if you’d like to join us  and see what it’s like. For those who aren’t quite ready for it you can watch online but you won’t be able to ask questions or join in live.

I’m also working on a batch of videos – reworking basic skills and techniques and getting a good bank of videos we can all refer back too whenever we need a refresher or if you want to encourage a friend to join in on this hobby. If there’s something specific you’d like help with please let me know.

I am still contributing to the magazines this year as well – you will continue to see my projects in Handmade and Patchwork & Stitching magazines as well as a few other projects elsewhere, that you’ll see later on in the year.

I’m re-working the shopping cart on this site as I am no longer selling fabrics online, most of the products will be digital and instant download (no shipping!!) as well as copies of Mollie Makes and hard copies of vouchers if people need them sent out.

Machine quilting bookings are filling up. January is full, February – April have some spaces available. Please book ASAP to ensure you get the slot needed for your quilt. I will be introducing a loyalty card system for machine quilting (retrospectively adding quilt jobs), with discounts and incentives for customers.

Currently though I’m having a bit of downtime as January is full of some crazy things that are happening. My birthday, a few health things I need to take care of and my cat requires some surgery so I will be around but if you  miss me I’ll get back to you all when I can. I am working at The Gosford Sewing Machine Centre – usually Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays but if you need to see me specifically please give me a call.

I hope everyone has had a lovely festive season and is now ready for bigger and brighter things in 2016. I also hope that you join me this year and continue to support Frankenstein’s Fabrics and the new direction that we are headed in.

Happy Quilting!
Marni x

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Aspen Frost Table Runner

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So who wants a free pattern?

I’ve made this Christmas Table Runner using only a mini charm square pack and just over half a metre of Riley Blake Honeycomb Dot in grey (available in the store).

I know so many people who pick up pre-cuts thinking that they will make something from them, but inevitably they end up in a box or cupboard and don’t see the light of day for a very long time. I know it happens, I’m guilty of it myself. But this year one of my resolutions was to FINISH things and so in an effort to help you out there in quilt-blog-land finish things as well…here we go…

Materials

Aspen Frost mini charm square pack (42, 2 1/2in squares)

55cm of Honeycomb Dot in grey

14in x 39in rectangle of wadding

 

You will also need

Sewing machine with 1/4in and walking feet

Rotary cutter, cutting mat and patchwork ruler

Iron and ironing board

Pins

Scissors

 

Optional

Spray starch

Camera

 

To start there’s a few little things that I need to make sure you know so we are all on the same page.

  1. We will not be washing these fabrics. Pre-cuts don’t take well to pre-washing and you will lose more of a 2 1/2in square in fraying than you will have left to sew.
  2. There will be minimal left overs as we will have scraps of the grey and a handful of squares that you won’t use.
  3. Starch is optional but recommended. Starch will help your tiny pre-cuts retain what stability they have and will make your finished blocks easier to handle. Starch washes out. Starch recommendation is Mary Ellen’s Best Press, which you can purchase here.
  4. If you have trouble remembering a layout sequence, make sure you have your camera nearby. Snap a quick picture of the blocks once you are happy with the design so you can refer back to it if needed when you start piecing.
  5. The techniques used in this tutorial can apply to any quilted project you just need to adjust your measurements and design as needed.

Preparation

From your mini charm square pack select four lots of nine sets of squares. From the Aspen Frost pack I was able to refine my choice by colour – red, green, blue and white – but whatever pack you have you need to make that judgment call. It could be by print, scale, theme, directionality* etc.

Layout your nine squares in a 3×3 block that you like. Take a photo for reference if needed. See note 5.

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Thread up your machine with neutral colour thread (cream, white, black, grey) and your 1/4in foot. Set the machine for straight sewing, with average stitch length and width. My Janome likes a stitch width of just over 5 and a length of 2.

9-Patch Blocks

Take two of the mini charm squares and place them right sides together. Stitch the squares together down one side. Without taking the stitched squares off the machine continue piecing all the pairs of squares that you can from each block (this is where the photos of the blocks will help). Once you have stitched the pairs (12 pairs) you can remove the strand of pairs off the machine. This is called chain piecing** and saves time and thread.

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Starting with the first of the stitched pairs go along and add the third square for that row.

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Once you have joined the rows of three squares, take everything over to your ironing board, bring your scissors or thread snips.

Snip the threads holding each row together. Set the three rows for one block face down on the ironing board. Check that you have them in the right order (use your photos) and press the seams in alternating directions.

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Taking two rows align the seams as shown. This is called abutting*** the seams and will ensure that you have better matching points. This technique can be used anytime you have two seams meeting.

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Pin the two rows together making sure you have the seams matching.

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Stitch along the edge, remove the pins and check you intersecting seams. Press the rows open and then repeat the process for the third row of that block.

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Assemble all 4 of your 9-Patch blocks.

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From your 55cm of grey fabric cut three, 2 1/2in strips.

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Place your 9-patch block right side down on the right side of one grey strip and stitch along the edge. Attach all four blocks onto the strip in this way

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Place the pieced strip down on your cutting mat as shown in the picture and trim the blocks/strip down to size.

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At this point I like to spray starch my blocks to aid in keeping them straight and neat, it also helps press out the strips that I’ve just attached to the centre blocks.

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Set the seams and then press the strip away from the block.

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Layout your blocks in the order you want them in.

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Piece the blocks together making sure there is a strip of grey in between each block. You can piece one by one or piece in pairs and then piece the pairs together.

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Make sure you have a strip of grey on either end of your table runner length as well.

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Trim down any excess grey fabric and press the seams you just stitched in towards the grey strips. Turn the runner over and press from the front to make sure there are no pleats in your seams.

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Take one of the remaining grey strips and place it right sides together with your runner, and stitch along the length. Pin if you feel you need to.

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Trim the excess fabric strip and then set the seam.

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Starch the strip and then press it away from the centre of your runner.

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Repeat for the other grey strip and your runner top is finished!

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Basting

Press your remaining grey fabric (approx. 35cm). Starch if you like.

Lay the fabric right side down on a flat surface. Tape the selvedge edges down and then tape at intervals along the length, making sure the fabric is taut but not stretched.

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Lay your rectangle of wadding on top of the fabric and smooth out so its flat and there are no lumps, wrinkles or loose threads.

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Place your table runner right side up on the wadding and smooth from the centre out so there are no lumps or folds.

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Pin baste with safety pins, no more than 4in apart. If the pins hurt your hands to close them – use a teaspoon.

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Set your sewing machine up with your walking foot. You can increase your stitch length slightly, I tend not to but it does make it harder to unpick if you have a small stitch when quilting. Test a few sizes to find one you like.

Quilting

I quilted this runner in straight lines – ditch stitching in each of the 9-Patch blocks and then ditch stitching the rows and extending it out onto the border. I also did a 1/4in stitch away from the edge of the border to secure the whole runner edge to make binding easier.

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To tie in the loose thread ends – from the top of the runner thread the ends onto a needle and pull through to the back of the runner. Tie the threads in a knot and let the knot sit about 1/8th of an inch away from the runner surface. Thread all four threads on to the needle and thread into the runner and away from the stitches, hiding the threads and the knot inside the runner. Wiggle the knot so that it slips under the fabric, if you need to. Clip off the excess thread.

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Trim down your backing and wadding to the edge of the table runner and you are ready for binding.

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*Theme, scale, print, directionality

Theme: Christmas, novelty, country, shabby chic etc

Scale: The size of the print – small, medium, large.

Print: Floral, dots, stripes, scrolls etc

Directionality: Stripes, text, arrows

**Chain piecing

Piecing by means of continuing to sew without stopping. Piecing everything that needs piecing before you need to stop and press, cut or attach the next section

***Abutting the seams

Also known as nesting the seams. Making sure that the folded part of each seams is ‘butted’ up to the next seam so that they sit as flat as possible and reduce bulk.

 

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