Friday, April 19, 2019

Adventures in foundation paper piecing

Like many other techniques, foundation paper piecing (FPP) has its share of people that love it and hate it.  I fall into the group in between.  I do not love it, but I do not completely hate it.  For me, it's simply a means to an end - I WILL do it if I must, but I will probably complain about it because I honestly do not enjoy the process.

I've put together a list of a few things that I've learned along the way which help to make the whole thing more enjoyable/less painful for me.  As always, your mileage may vary.

As a side note for anybody that might be new to my blog, you will not find affiliate links in my posts.  If I should happen to use them in the future, they will be noted as such.  Many of these products may be available at your favorite quilt shop, sewing store, or  I'm providing links from the pages of the manufacturers because they are likely to be the most reliable in terms of whether or product is still being marketed/sold/available.  :)

My setup when doing FPP (my iron is to the left of the Wafer)

Let there be light!
In my first FPP projects, I would hold my pieces up to a lamp.  It worked ok, but sometimes it was hard to keep the pieces aligned where I needed them and hold it up to the light.  Buying a lightbox was really a game changer for me.  There are a lot of options available from different manufacturers, but I use the Wafer 1 from Daylight Company, the smallest of their three size offerings.  It's a convenient size to store, and I love that they offer a translucent cutting mat so you can see and cut without moving to a different surface.

You aren't going to get very far without thread.
It should come as no surprise that I use Aurifil thread when I do FPP.  I use the same 50 weight thread that I use for all of my quilt piecing. It is a 2-ply thread, so it's fine enough to not add a lot of bulk in my seams, and it's strong enough to withstand the dreaded removal of paper.

Press it real good.
This is one of the best ways to improve the finish of your sewing projects.  I find that I'm happiest with my results when I use an iron, but I don't use my regular iron.  You want to make sure that you are using a dry iron.  I use a Clover Wedge Iron when I do FPP.  It has a pointy tip which is a feature that is important to me in an iron, and it seems to get suitably hot (and it's a great size when I'm making mini quilts too).  There is no water reservoir, so I don't have to worry about accidentally having water in the iron.  My biggest complaint about the iron is that it takes a while for it to get hot. If I'm working somewhere that an iron isn't available, I will use my Violet Craft Seam Roller.  I think it's the next best option.

Go big.
I try to be as effective and efficient as I can when cutting fabric, so FPP was a bit challenging to get my head around.  FPP is not a method that super low waste.  It's just how it is.  On top of that, unlike a lot of traditional/conventional patterns, many patterns do not tell you what sizes pieces you should cut.  I've realized that I'd rather deal with cutting away more fabric as waste than deal with having pieces that are too small and having to rip the stitches.  Generally, I will cut pieces that are 1" larger than the size that they need to cover to account for seam allowances.  If I have a piece that is rectangular, I won't push it out that far.  It's one of those things that you just have to look at for each piece.  The bottom line is that you should cut to a size that is comfortable for you and adjust as needed.

You rule.
When I FPP, I like to use the Add-A-Quarter Plus ruler by CM Designs.  I love how one side has a beveled edge that allows me to fold my paper back easily and one side with a 1/4" lip for trimming without the need to line up things on a ruler.  Just place it down, butt the lip up to the seam, and trim  using your rotary cutter. You can absolutely use a regular ruler, but I love how much time I can save when I don't have to stop and measure.  They also make a regular Add-A-Quarter ruler without the beveled edge if you don't fold your papers, and there are even rulers for other seam allowance sizes!

It IS worth the paper it's printed on.
There are a lot of different options you can use to print/copy your patterns.  Some people use plain newsprint, vellum, or cheap copy paper.  I like Carol Doak's Foundation Paper by C&T Publishing.  It prints without issues in my laser printer, it tears easily when I need it to do so, I haven't had any problems with line crispness or ink bleed, and it isn't bright white which sometimes gives me a headache if I look at it for too long.  I also like the texture.

Size matters.
When you are printing (if your pattern is a PDF) or if you're making copies of the templates, make sure that they are printing the correct size.  Many patterns will include a size guide on at least one page that you can measure to make sure that things are printing as intended.  If things are not printing as expected, it is often just a simple, easily resolved misconfiguration of your printer settings.  Personally, I also like PDF because it's pretty straightforward if you want to resize the pattern templates.  The last FPP project that I made had blocks that finished at 4" square.  I wanted to make them a little bigger, so I printed them at 125% so they would finish at 5" square.

Write it down.
FPP can be a bit of a challenge to wrap your brain around when you first get started.  You sew on the printed side of the paper, so you sewing everything as a mirror image of how the finished block will appear.  Some designers may shade areas of the pattern so you have an idea of what color to put where, but that's not as common in my experience.  For that reason, I take the low tech approach and grab a pencil and write which fabrics I want in each section (on the printed side of the paper).

Embrace it or don't.
Maybe you will love the process of FPP or maybe you won't. You know what?  It's ok either way!  As I wrote at the beginning, it's just a means to an end for me.  I am glad that I know how to FPP, and I feel confident that I can successfully make something using that method if I felt inclined to do so.  Will it ever be my preferred method?  I doubt it, but things have been known to change.  I guess we shall just have to wait and see.

We've come to the end. I've basically said all I have to say on the subject right now, so let's all go forth and make.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Down the rabbit hole (aka the story of how I got hooked on Aurifil)

I thought I'd take a few minutes to tell you the story of my journey with Aurifil and why it is my go-to thread.

My first Aurifil purchase was a large spool of 50wt thread in color 2600 (Dove) at a local sewing & quilt show back in late February/early March 2013.  I had seen the recognizable orange spool in some local shops, but I had never tried it.  I figured that it was worth a shot, so I purchased the color that I most frequently use for piecing and the rest is history.

Look!  There it is in the pile of things that I bought at Sew Expo on March 3, 2013.

Needless to say, I was totally hooked.  I followed up shortly thereafter with the large thread box from Tula Pink's first collection for Aurifil.  From piecing and quilting to making bags, I used 50wt almost exclusively until June 2014 when I bought my first spool of 40wt Aurifil.

Today, I still actively use both 40 and 50 weight.  I do all of my quilt piecing with the 50wt (including foundation piecing and a little bit of english paper piecing that I've attempted) because it's the great combination of being fine enough so that it isn't bulky in the seams, it blends well into the fabric, and it doesn't generate a lot of lint.  I prefer using 40 weight (on the green spools) for quilting, attaching binding, and making bags.  40 weight thread is thicker than 50, so the stitches become a bit more visible.  The slightly heavier thread also adds a bit of extra durability which I love, especially for binding.  If you are reading this and wondering whether you can you use 50wt for all of those tasks, the answer is yes, absolutely!  

So, why do I choose Aurifil?  
  1. It's really great thread.  The long staple Egyptian cotton used to create most of Aurifil's products is amazing.  Unless you are talking about nice bed linens, I don't think Egyptian cotton is generally part of a conversation.  For Aurifil, it is.  Starting with high quality raw materials, their threads are refined through an extensive process that results in amazing consistency and quality.
  2. I am a big fan of the wide range of colors offered.  With 270 colors (!!!!) available in multiple weights and spool sizes, it's exceedingly rare for me not to be able to find an excellent color match for my projects. As of today, there is no true neon pink. ;)
  3. Aurifil offers a variety of different weights to choose from.  From the heaviest 12wt thread to fine 80wt thread and floss, I know that I can find what I need for my projects.
  4. Multiple sizes of spools are available in the most weights.  I buy some small spools when I need a color that I am less likely to use regularly, and I prefer the large spools for my favorite go-to colors or when I have a medium to large project.   
  5. I've used Aurifil threads in a variety of sewing machines with amazing success.  From a small Singer Featherweight to an inexpensive Brother and my current 7 Series Bernina (with a bunch of Pfaffs of varying ages, multiple Baby Lock machines, and a few assorted other brands and models over the years), I've seen incredible consistency with the thread's performance.  
  6. As I mentioned earlier, I love how the 50wt is fine enough so that it doesn't create a lot of bulk in the seams so my seam allowance stays accurate.
  7. It's low lint.  It's cotton thread, so there will be some lint, but that is easily manageable if you brush out your bobbin area as recommended. I find that most of my lint is often generated from the fabric itself rather than the thread.
  8. My cats really enjoy playing with the empty spools (PSA - string/thread can be incredibly dangerous to a cat if ingested, so please use appropriate caution)! 

Well, there you go.  Now you know the story, and you hopefully understand some of the reasons for why I rely on Aurifil for my quilting and sewing projects.  My name is Leslie, and I'm proud to be a 2018 Aurifil Artisan.  p.s.  There's a wealth of information available on Aurifil's website -

Friday, June 8, 2018

I'm an Aurifil Artisan!

The most amazing thing happened recently - I applied to become an Aurifil Artisan for 2018, and I was selected.  The Aurifil Artisans are a group of men and women from around the world that use Aurifil in a variety of disciplines.  From hand piecing and machine embroidery to garments and quilts, we are bound by our love of thread and our passion to create.

If you've followed my blog or Instagram account, you have surely noticed that I am a huge fan of Aurifil thread.  I first found Aurifil during a class at a local shop back in 2013, and I've been hooked ever since.  With 270 amazing colors to choose from, what is there really not to like?

If you're seeing this because you found my page because of Aurifil, I'd like to take the opportunity to welcome you to my itty bitty corner of the blogosphere!  I tend to post here more sporadically, but I post on my Instagram page regularly.  It's mostly sewing pics with the occasional pet photo thrown in.  

I like to think of myself as a quilter, bag maker, and a maker of whatever suits my fancy at the time.  For the most part, I use the 50 weight 100% cotton thread for piecing quilts, and I use the 40 weight 100% cotton thread when I make bags or for the limited amount of quilting that I do (mostly quilting on the bags to be honest).  When I'm not sewing, I am usually still sewing (in my head) because I also work as a freelance technical editor!  

I am looking forward to having the opportunity to play with other offerings from the company (especially their monofilament) and being able to share those experiences with you over the next year.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Book Review - Child's Play Quilts by Stacey Day

Welcome to my stop on the book tour for Stacey Day's Child's Play Quilts book.

Stacey's book is a whole lot of fun.  Divided into appliqué and pieced patterns, Child's Play Quilts features quilts to delight kids of all ages.  For my project, I selected Swish. While I don't know what caught eye first, the pink and purple fabrics or the design, I just knew that I needed to make it.

Swish. Photo courtesy of C&T Publishing
One thing that I really like about the book is that many of the quilts can be scaled to a larger size without a lot of difficulty.  So, that's exactly what I did.  With a couple of quick calculations, I changed the finished block size up to 6" which bumped up the quilt from kid size to 66" x 78" - a perfect for me to use as a lap size quilt!

Swish in Add It Up fabrics by Cotton + Steel
I'll be the first to admit that I am not much of a scrappy quilter, so I selected 4 fabrics for my project.  Technically, they are 4 colors of the same print, but I did say that I'm not a scrappy quilter, didn't I?  Anyway, I love how it turned out.  It has a very 80s/retro vibe which is really quite a departure from how the quilt appears in the book, but that's part of the fun of making quilts, right?

Pantograph quilted by Teresa Silva of Quilting is my Bliss
In addition to the patterns, there are some really great tips on a variety of subjects, including organizing/managing your stash (a favorite hobby of mine).

Anyway, I'm bet you want to know where you can snag a copy of your own Child's Play Quilts book!  You can order a signed copy of the book through Stacey's Etsy shop or an un-signed copy through and C&T Publishing.

Stacey is giving away a copy of her book to 2 lucky people (one winner via her blog and one via Instagram).  To enter into the drawing to win your own copy of Child's Play Quilts, follow these three easy steps!  The winner will be drawn on April 21st.

1. Read my post here on my blog - you're here, so you've got step one done!
2. Follow Stacey Day on her blog at
3. Comment on Stacey's blog post

I'd like to thank you for joining me today on the Child's Play Quilts blog tour!  Be sure to check out all of projects that the participants made for the tour.  There are some very cool quilts!  

I would also like to say congrats to Stacey Day on the publication of her first book.  You go, girl!

Here's the complete tour schedule:
Stacey Day @staceyinstitches April 9th
Brett Lewis @naturalbornquilter April 9th
Cheryl Brickey @MeadowMistDesigns April 9th
Karen Foster@CapitolaQuilter April 10th
Cathy Mackay @cathysmithmackay April 10th
Fiona Kelly @tangledblossom April 11th
Jackie White @jackiesartquilts April 11th
Jean Jones @sew_catstudio April 12th
Reece Montgomery @reecemontgomery April 12th
Carl Hentsch @3dogdesignco April 13th
Brooke Sellmann @sillymamaquilts April 13th
Kaitlyn Howell @knotandthread April 14th
Amy Gunson @badskirt April 14th
Kelly Bowser @kelbysews April 15th
Karis Hess @themodernsewist April 15th
Sara Lawson @sewsweetness April 16th
Leslie Meltzer @lelliebunny April 16th
Pamela Morgan @sweetlittlestitches April 16th
Amy Garro @13spools April 17th
Stephanie Perrins @stitchandbobbin April 17th
Chelsea @Pinkdoorfabrics April 18th
Michelle Wilke @ml_wilkie April 18th
Tiffany Sepulveda @sewtiffany April 19th
Rachael Riechmann @sewilearned April 19th
Pamela Lincoln @mamaspark59 April 20th
Kate Maryon @katydidklm April 20th

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wayfinder Quilt with revised flying geese construction

NOTE:  I made the Wayfinder Kit (pattern by Stacey Day and Tula Pink for Free Spirit / Coats), I decided to use a revised method for creating the flying geese. I respect the copyright on the pattern and the work of the designer, so I am solely providing you with the measurements and the resulting change to the yardage needed to complete the project.  I take no responsibility for any errors in cutting or with the accuracy of individual work. These methods are oversized to allow for trimming down to their final desired size.

I would highly recommend using a Bloc Loc Flying Geese ruler for this project.  It saved me hours of time in trimming the geese to size using my regular ruler.

For 4 at a time no waste flying geese (used for all w/ Natural sky and non-directional prints w/ Manatee sky):
  • Cut print square at 5.75” 
  • Cut 4 solid squares at 3.25”

For 1 at a time stitch and flip flying geese, aka rectangle and 2 squares (used for all directional prints w/ Manatee sky):
  • Cut print rectangle at 2.75” x 4.75” 
  • Cut 2 solid squares at 2.75” x 2.75”

Following these revised methods requires additional fabric:
  • Natural sky/background geese*:  increase yardage by .333 yd minimum (.5 yd suggested)
  • Manatee sky/background geese:  increase yardage by 1 yd minimum (1.25 yd suggested)
  • Bear Hug in Star Light (pink):  increase yardage by .333 yd minimum OR 1 FQ (.5 yd suggested)

* I decided to create the single flying geese around the center star with solid background rather than the Arrowheads print, so my calculations do reflect that change.  

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Review - Longarm Quilting Workbook by Teresa Silva

Hi and welcome to the 3rd stop on the Longarm Quilting Workbook blog tour. I am so excited to participate.  I met Teresa Silva almost 3 years ago after corresponding via email about something that I wanted to have custom quilted.  We've worked on 50+ quilts since then (including 2 that are in this book)!  If you follow @quiltingismybliss on Instagram, you've seen her work on many of my projects.  Here are a few pics from some of my favorites:

From my Cookie Cutter Quilt
(pattern by Jaybird Quilts)

From my Arcade Game Quilt
(pattern by Jaybird Quilts)

From my version of The Butterfly Quilt
(pattern by Tula Pink)

From my August Stars Quilt
 (pattern by Jaybird Quilts)

I’ll be honest, I harbor no illusions about my lack of a future as a longarm quilter, but this book has a so much more to offer.  Beyond the pretty pictures lies a treasure trove of information.  The Longarm Quilting Workbook is a great reference to help you work with your longarm quilter.  While it’s not written for that purpose, learning more about how the longarm machines operate (as opposed to a regular domestic sewing machine) can make the whole process flow more smoothly if you understand the limitations of working on a frame, including the size of the machine and the frame, and the methods of operation (hand guided, computer guided, etc).

Call it part of my curious nature, but just because I don't want to be a longarm quilter doesn't mean that I don't want to understand how it's done.  I love how the Longarm Quilting Workbook presents text and illustrations that work together to show how the motifs are created.  I've actually watched Teresa quilt in person, but I get mesmerized by the whole thing and forget that I wanted to really watch to see how it's done.

The book also has a couple of fun patterns for you to make.  I opted to do single blocks of two of them so they could hang as mini quilts.  Here are a couple of pictures of my interpretation of the Go With the Flow Table Runner and the Snicker Doodle Quilt:

Mini quilt based on the Go With
the Flow Table Runner

Mini quilt based on the
Snicker Doodle Quilt

Thank you so much for joining me on the Longarm Quilting Workbook Blog Tour.  There is much more to come from my fellow participants, including some fun prizes and the grand prize giveaway that you can enter if you comment on the LAST post of the hop as we rejoin Teresa back where we started at on 10/17/17 (the window to enter will only be open until Friday, 10/20/17 at 4pm Pacific)!

Here is the full schedule for the Longarm Quilting Workbook Blog Tour:

Monday, October 2, 2017
Teresa Silva – Quilting is My Bliss –

Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Nancy Jewell – Free Spirit Fabric -

→ Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - YOU ARE HERE  ←
→ Leslie Meltzer – 50 sq ft studios - ←

Thursday, October 5, 2017
Carrie Nelson – Moda Fabrics

Friday, October 6, 2017
Jane Kinzie – Quilter’s Dream Batting -

Monday, October 9, 2017
Kristen McVane – Instagram: Stashquilts  (Please leave her a comment and come back tomorrow to our blog hop.)  She will be giving away a Longarm Quilting Workbook.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Carl Hentsch – 3 Dog Design -

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Helen Ernst Longarm Quilting -

Thursday, October 12, 2017
Julie Herman – Jaybird Quilts -

Friday, October 13, 2017
Karen Miller – Redbird Quilt Co. -

Monday, October 16, 2017
Linda and Carl Sullivan – Colourwerx -

Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Teresa Silva – Quilting is My Bliss -

You can purchase the Longarm Quilting Workbook at the following sites: (For an autographed copy)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A love letter to my rotary cutter(s) and some first impressions on a new product

Here's my confession for today.  I'm incredibly picky about the tools that I use (shocking, I know).  I expect them to perform consistently over time, and I try to do my part to keep them in good shape.

If the cutter looks strange to you, it's got the blade set for a left handed cutter.
One of the tools that I use most frequently is a rotary cutter.  The first rotary cutter that I bought  when I started sewing was a 45mm Olfa Ergonomic Rotary Cutter (aka Deluxe Handle).  I liked it because the blade automatically retracted when you release the handle (there is a button to lock the blade in place, so it can be locked open or closed).  As a person that can be a klutz at times, I knew that it would be the safest for me.  I have used this cutter or one of its identical siblings (with new blades, of course) almost daily for the last 5 years.  I know that I can count on it.  This is my go-to cutter, and it's designed so that you can easily switch the blade to the other side for those of us that cut left handed.  I will also tell you that I have tried other cutters (other models and other manufacturers), but this is the one that I always come back to.

Over the next few years, my collection of cutters has expanded and they are all from Olfa.  In addition to my original 45mm Ergo, I've added a 60mm Ergo, a 28mm straight handle, and an 18mm straight handle.  The 60mm Ergo is great when I need to cut thicker items, like multiple layers of Soft and Stable or batting.  The 28mm and 18mm cutters work well for small cuts and with specialty templates.  (I wish those sizes were available in the Ergo design, but sadly, they aren't.)  I've purchased additional 45mm Ergo cutters over the years so I would always have one packed in the bag of sewing supplies that I use for classes, and I've bought them to use for cutting paper (the one that has the red x is my paper cutter).  I use slightly older blades that aren't as sharp in my paper handle.  When they are all too dull or nicked,  I keep them in a blade container that is not-so-creatively marked as BAD until they can be safely disposed of in a sharps container.

So, when I ran into a couple of ladies from Olfa on the floor at Quilt Market, I had to profess my love for their products (I have multiple Olfa cutting mats too - the rotating and folding mats are my favorites), especially the 45mm Ergo cutter.  They have recently released a new product, and they asked me if I would be interested in trying it out since I was already using their other products and share my experience.  Without hesitation, I said yes.  

The new product, the Endurance blade, is supposed to cut twice as long as their regular blade.  Wow.  That certainly sounded intriguing.  They handed me a shiny, new 45mm Ergo cutter that was already equipped with the Endurance blade, and off I went (quite gleefully, I might add).  

I'll be honest.  I haven't had the opportunity to cut as much as I normally would have since my return home from St Louis.  My kitty, Tabitha, had knee surgery, so I've been more focused on taking care of her.  However, I needed to cut out a few quick projects, so I grabbed my shiny, new cutter and started cutting.  I was not prepared for what happened next.  I expected it to cut well, but it was even more than that.  The Endurance blade is in-freaking-credible.  It was like I was just cutting through air rather than multiple layers of quilting cotton. The cuts were so smooth and effortless (and this was on a less-than-new cutting mat) that I actually had my husband try it for himself after he asked me what was wrong (I had just been standing there with my mouth hanging open muttering wow several times).  I put a new blade into my regular cutter, so it was a comparison of 2 brand new blades in the same model of handle.  I didn't tell him which was which, but he could tell the difference after making a couple of cuts with each blade (and he was pretty impressed).  As I mentioned before, I haven't cut a lot of things since coming home, so I can't speak to the cutting for twice as long part yet.  Even if it doesn't quite make it to twice as long, I'm still impressed. 

Wow.  Wow.  Wow.  

I'm not going to say that I will immediately get rid of the existing pack of new blades that I have because I won't, but I will be switching over to buying Endurance blades for my future purchases.  They are more expensive than the regular blades, but they are simply just that good. 

As I said in the post, I was actually given this new cutter with the Endurance blade and asked if I would share my experience.  For anybody that has met and talked to me, I will not hesitate to say that I'm not a fan of something (and I will tell you why).  This is my blog.  These are my opinions.  They may change over time, but they will always remain mine.  I am not willing to sacrifice my integrity in exchange for talking about stuff that I don't truly like.  That's not who I am.