Tuesday 25 May 2021

Fiesta Gitana Quilt - English Paper Piecing Tips!

Fiesta Gitana is the cover quilt from the Millefiori Quilts book 4 by Willyne Hammerstein. Certainly not for the faint hearted, this is a pattern for those English Paper Piecer's who have a lot of practice under their belt and love a challenge! At Sew & Quilt, we have created English Paper Pieces to make the quilt, along with matching acrylic templates with a 3/8" added seam allowance to cut out your fabrics and fussy-cut to your hearts desire!

Truth time, I found it tough to begin, unpicking many seams when they weren't lining up and looked miles out!? Then checking that the templates were the right size, checking my basting was tight, not tight enough? As I was sewing more of the shapes together, I realised the slightest millimetre can throw off the next shape and then you can look a mile off where needed, then joining to the sharply pointed kites made it even more noticeable. After some practice and testing out the joining sequence in a couple of different ways, I landed on a way that resulted in neater joins. So I thought it was a must to share with you all incase you fancied having a go too. Please see below the link to click on and download the block assembly guide.

English Paper Piecing Tips

The most important tip is to manipulate your templates to where they need to be. Do this by pulling your fabric basted pieces in the exact position it needs to finish when sewing a new shape onto a previous one. Also make sure to start sewing at the correct starting point, flip the shapes so you look at them from the front side and see how they look, be careful to keep this position and use a Clover Wonder Clip to keep them secure if needed. 

If you've sewn a shape from the starting point slightly off where it should have been sometimes you will have to unpick and start that seam line again as it could throw off the next piece etc. Now you understand why I said this was a challenge! :-D

Download the block assembly for English Paper Piecing the Fiesta Gitana Quilt Pattern here. Do let me know if it proves useful for you, the same tips can be applied for other tricky EPP quilts too. Happy sewing! Links for products below.

Please note you will need a copy of the Millefiori Quilts book 4 to make the quilt, my block construction is simply to help with EPP methods only, full copyright belongs to Quiltmania the book publisher.

Please find a link to the supplies below;

Fiesta Gitana English Paper Pieces

Fiesta Gitana Acrylic Templates

Fabrics used; Selection of Liberty Fabrics for the stars, Art Gallery Fabrics Pure Elements Golden Bronze for background. 

Monday 29 March 2021

Scallop Placemat - Free DIY Sewing Tutorial

What better way to decorate your table for Easter than with these very pretty (and very on-trend!) scalloped placemats. Easter will look a little different again for us all this year, but add some homemade charm to your table setting this year to create a special day. I have used one of our new Liberty Piccadilly Poplin fabrics for the bias binding and Essex Linen for the main part, these are a cotton/linen mix and work so well for a huge range of sewing projects. I'm so excited for our kitchen renovations to be finished so I can create some beautiful tablescapes using these placemats finally! 

Click here to download the placemat template. Be sure to print full size-A4. I have included a 1" square for reference, so you can check you have the correct scale. No major drama if it's a little out, your placemat might just turn out a little smaller/bigger. 


1/2m of fabric for the main section (I have used Essex Linen, Seafoam).

55" x twice the width of the finished Bias Tape Maker (cut on the bias) for the binding. (I have used Liberty Canyon Clover B, Poplin)

Hera Marker

Bias Binding Maker (I have used 3/4", but a wider 1" would be more of an impact and easier to work with)

Fabric Marking Pen

505 Temporary Spray Adhesive (optional)

16" x 16" cotton wadding/batting


1. Print and cut four copies of the template provided. Stick them together (with no overlap) using Cellotape to make one finished scallop shape.

2. Cut (2) 16" squares from your background fabric, and (1) from cotton batting. It doesn't have to be exact, just so long as you are larger than the finished template. I have used regular cotton batting here, but you could also use special heat protective wadding that's used in oven mitts or double up on the layers if you prefer a more lofty look. 

3. Layer the batting between the two outer fabric squares. Use 505 spray adhesive to sandwich them together, or quilting pins. I chose the spray on the occasion for speed. I've not tried spray basting a quilt before, so this might be a good way to road test it before taking the plunge.

4. Line your quilt sandwich straight on your cutting mat, and mark 45-degree straight lines with a Hera Marker along the square with a 1" spacing. To find the 45-degree angle ready for marking, place your ruler so the 45-degree markings on the ruler line up straight with the edge of your cut square. Use this first line as a guide, and measure 1" out and so on. 

5. Sew on your Hera Marker lines. Increase the stitch length for a neater finish (and it goes without saying for most I'm sure, but don't forget to put your walking foot on your sewing machine! I totally forgot, and then wondered why my lines were looking warped!).

6. Flip the square around and mark lines in the other direction, and sew on the straight lines.

7. Place the paper template over the quilted square and draw around with a fabric marker pen.

8. Cut out on the drawn line. 

9. Cut the correct width of bias binding required for your bias tape maker. I have used an 3/4" (18mm) maker, however I think the 1" (25mm) would look better and make more of an impact - I just used what I had on hand. You will need to cut strips on the bias (just how you did when marking out the quilting lines) and join together to make a length of 55", or thereabouts. Run the fabric through the tape maker, sloooowly to make sure you have it nice and centered. 

10. Simply place the bias tape onto the placemat, leaving a tail of approximately 3" and pin at various points, especially at the corners. Very unhelpfully of me, I forgot to photograph this part, but I will add some photos when I make the next placemat this week. Though I found it helps to have the pins placing inwards. Stop sewing when you are about 4" away from the starting point. Join the bias binding together with your fingers to the finishing point and press it firmly. Press this with the iron and then mark a line. Carefully have these unruly ends pinned, so you can sew along the straight line you have just made. Trim off the excess tail. Continue sewing the binding in place as you were. Finished!

Luckily I only have 1 extra one to finish in time for the big day, but I'm planning on a set of 6 matching ones and I should be finished in time for when I might actually get to use them (post-lockdown!). You could also make mix-and-match colours for a unique, homemade look too. Or go to town with coordinating napkins to add charm and set the table for a special day. 

Fabrics and supplies all available from Sew & Quilt

Saturday 14 November 2020

The FREE Jane Austen Quilt Pattern

The beautiful Jane Austen quilt! A remarkable patchwork quilt that is thought to be made by Jane Austen herself, alongside her sister Cassandra and their mother. It was created in the traditional technique of English Paper Piecing, whereby fabrics are tacked or basted to a paper template and then whipstitched together. 
Myself and Robin have drawn up a meticulous reworked version of the original patchwork coverlet FREE for you to recreate this spectacular quilt as well. 

It features a medallion style diamond centre panel with a broderie perse appliqued design of birds and a basket of flowers. Broderie perse is the technique of selecting and cutting motifs from chintz and other such fabrics and needle-turn appliquéing them to different background fabrics to create a new design. We have omitted a specific appliqué design for the medallion centre, so you can create your own. The main section of the quilt top is then made up of diamonds pieced between a cream and navy dot sashing, finished with a deep border of smaller sized paper pieced diamonds. 

We have been asked to make paper pieces for the Jane Austen quilt for many years, and for one reason or another it always ended up on the back-burner. Though when I heard news of a Jane Austen At Home fabric collection to launch I knew it we had to make time! To one of our loyal Festival of Quilts shoppers each year (whose name escapes me now!) that always asked, can we do the Jane Austen papers - this is for you! ;-) 

We are offering a free downloadable 5-A4 page PDF pattern through Sew & Quilt. We also have printed copies if you don't have access to a printer, and prefer a hard copy rather than online viewing. Wow, it was quite the brain exercise to create and draw up the pattern, so much so that I'm not sure we would have done it had I known that from the start, lol! Download your Jane Austen Quilt Pattern here.

Quilt Size: 71” x 89”

What do I need to make the quilt?

You will need the Jane Austen English Paper Piece Kit to complete the quilt top. 

We have created two options for you;

- Starter size kit, which is just one regular size pack of each (+1 extra of one, in order to cut down, details included in the pack and on the product listing) of our standard sized bag options we sell at Sew & Quilt, put together as one item for you to purchase. 

- Complete kit, which includes all the paper pieces required to make the quilt top (though it doesn't include all of the small diamonds for the border, as we thought you could reuse some of those, given the large amount). 

We have all the information inside the pattern on total numbers of pieces, and the EPP kit product page gives details on pack sizes (if you wanted to work out how far the starter kit will get you). 

We also have matching acrylic templates, these include a 3/8" seam allowance. 

What fabric do I need to make the quilt?

We have provided yardages requirements in the quilt pattern, based on cutting rectangles, as noted this will be the most wasteful in terms of fabric usage. However this is the only way we are able to give you an accurate yardage requirement. 

You will need 22 fat quarters for the main quilt top. 

5-1/2 yards ~ 5.25m approx. (large diamonds). For our version, we have used 18 FQ's from the Jane Austen At Home Collection + an additional 4 which are duplicated.

I hadn't even thought to mention in the quilt pattern which ones they were (silly me!), but it's important you should know this information which is not included in the pattern:

The four duplicated FQ's for our design are; Elinor 04, Harriet 09, Margaret 11 and Penelope 15. 

4-1/2 yards ~ 4.25m, approx. (Cream with Navy Dot, for sashing fabric)

9 yards ~ 8.25m approx. (borders, I would advise using up your fabric stash as the pieces are very small so you don't necessarily need the same collection, just stick with on-theme prints. 

3/4 yard ~ 0.75m (binding fabric)

The photo above shows you can cut (24) 3" 5-point diamonds to a (UK sized) fat quarter. Our pattern says you can cut (12) to a FQ, because as mentioned above we have based this on rectangles. Instead cutting this way (using the Jane Austen acrylic template set) you can be more frugal with your fabric. 

The Jane Austen fabrics are sold out? 

If our Jane Austen FQ bundle and the 4 additional FQ's mentioned above are out of stock, don't worry. I would instead suggest you use our numbered key of 0-17 and gather other fabrics and label each print 0-17. That way you can still follow along with our numbered diagram. Remember you will need two FQs of numbers 04, 09, 11, 15, when using our cutting instructions from the quilt pattern. 

Find all our Jane Austen Quilt products online at Sew & Quilt

I really hope you have fun making this quilt, it is a beautiful design that has stood the test of time and will no doubt become a family heirloom - which is what we are all about at Sew & Quilt; 'Creating your future heirloom today!'.

Please share your versions of the Sew & Quilt Jane Austen quilt pattern, using the hashtag #JaneAustenEPPQuilt so we can share progress and updates online!

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Easy Fabric Box Sewing Pattern - Free Tutorial!

I've been after some storage boxes for my Ikea Billy bookcase in my sewing room since the day we put it together, but after much searching I had no luck in finding the right size or style (and spoiler alert, I'm incredibly fussy...). I also wanted to use up some spare fabric I had from a recently reupholstered chair - ok, ok, I bought extra so everything would match... 

So I decided to make some fabric boxes, after a quick google I came across a bunch of tutorials and patterns to make different variations but they either used supplies I didn't have access to, or I couldn't make head nor tail of the instructions, or more importantly I then couldn't work out how to re-work the pattern to re-size them for the size I needed.

So, if you're looking for a really easy-peasy fabric box for storage, which keeps its shape, really sturdy and a simple way of making with minimal pieces to cut you've come to the right place! I've tried to make this particular box as simple as possible, so while there will be better patterns out there which will give you a super neat interior, here you have simplicity. You do have the option of adding bound edges to the interior but I have omitted that in several of my versions for speed (I mean, who has time for that really? Plus it's not noticeable once they're stuffed to the brim, which is a likely ending to this particular shove-it-all-in-until-it's-tidy project).

Example box shown measures approx; 13-1/2" wide x 9-1/2" deep x 8" tall.
To make one box to the dimensions above;

1m Exterior fabric (Liberty Emilia's Blooms B Augusta Linen)
1m Interior fabric (Essex Linen, Natural)
1 yard Bosal Craf-Tex Plus, or other heavyweight double-sided fusible stabiliser
Clover Jumbo Wonder Clips
Gutermann Textile Fabric Glue
Optional: 1m Iron-on Interfacing, Firm

From exterior fabric;
Cut (1) Piece A = 25" x 14"
Cut (2) Piece B = 10-1/2" x 8"

From interior fabric;
Cut (1) Piece A = 25" x 14"
Cut (2) Piece B = 10-1/2" x 8"

From heavyweight fusible Stabiliser;
Cut (2) Piece A = 9" x 13"
Cut (2) Piece B = 9-1/2" x 7"

Use a 1/2" seam allowance.
If your fabrics are particularly lightweight you may want to use some medium or firm-weight fusible interfacing to strengthen up your fabrics, before you begin (my example shown used interfacing on exterior pieces).

Step 1.
Fuse stabiliser between an exterior and interior side piece B. Repeat for both side piece B's. Set to one side.

Step 2.
Place exterior fabric piece A right sides down, place both stabiliser A pieces on top, 1/2" (approx) from the edges. Place the interior fabric piece A on top. Press well to fuse everything together.
Excuse my patched-together interfacing shown here, I didn't have one piece large enough!

Step 3. 
Fold piece A in half along (along the longer side) mark the centre point.

Step 4.
Measure to find the centre point of your side piece B's, mark the point. Place the two marked points together (right sides together). Sew the side piece B to the main piece A.

Step 5. 
Repeat the step above and sew the other side piece B to the main piece A. You will have something that resembles a cross shape now.

Step 6.
You can visualise how this comes together now, so begin sewing the sides together so you have all 4 sides joined. The Jumbo Clover Wonder Clips really work a treat for this part. Before you tackle sewing a side, you can carefully cut into the join of the fabric so it eases out the very corner (as shown in final photo).

Step 7.
At this point you can make your box look neater on the interior side by sewing 2" wide binding strips to the sides. I added it to the 4 vertical seams, but you can choose to omit this step or be cover even more of the raw seams.

Step 8. 
Work out how much binding length you need to finish the top edge of the box. Cut 2" wide strips and sew together in one continuous strip. Use Wonder Clips to position the binding strip right sides together to the exterior side of the box.

Step 9.
Leave a good length of binding tail loose before your starting point, about 7", sew around the edge carefully. This step can be quite tough depending on the box size, but the clips help and so does moving your sewing machine right off the edge of your table, I found you can hook the box round the machine so there is a little less wrangling!

Once you are about that same distance away from the start, stop sewing.

Find where the binding pieces meet, finger press. Pin and sew along the pressed line. Trim off the excess binding and finish sewing the binding to the box.

Step 10.
Fold the binding raw edge inside, and then fold down neatly to the interior side of the box. Use Wonder Clips to hold in place and glue down the edge to finish. Leave to dry with clips in place.

Measure Your Own Box
Work out the finished width, depth and height of the box you want to make.

Use the below as a guide for how big to cut your fabric pieces.

Box Height x 2 + Box Diameter - 1/2" = ?
width + 1/2" = ?
= Fabric Piece A

My example; 8x2=16 + 9.5-0.5=25
= 25 x 14 Fabric Piece A

Box Depth + 1" = ?
Box Height
= Fabric Piece B

My example; 9.5+1=10.5
= 10.5 x 8 Fabric Piece B

For the stabiliser pieces.
Piece A = Box Depth - 0.5 x Box Width - 0.5
Piece B = Box Depth x Box Height - 0.5

I'm up to 9 boxes so far, in 3 different sizes! Be sure to tag me (@messyjesse1 or the shop account @sewandquilt) on Instagram if you make some yourself, I would love to see your organised sewing spaces! Mine is well underway now ;-) I'll share some snaps once I'm finished.

Thursday 19 March 2020

Liberty Charm Square Quilt

Hello friends! How are you doing? During these tough times for so many of us I think keeping ourselves busy with our favourite hobby of quilting is one of the best things we can do :-) so here I am spreading the quilting cheer!

Robin cut these new 5" Liberty Tana Lawn Charm Squares a few months ago and we've just packaged up in these nice cellophane bags (we originally had them fanned out on cardboard, which took a crazy long time to do as you might imagine! Luckily, it just dawned on me to package them like this, so here they are! Finally back in stock!). Each pack includes (40) different Liberty prints in a rainbow colour selection, so you will have one happy looking quilt with these!

I did the math and drew up a few diagrams below for a quilt using two charm packs, so (80) 5" squares total. Your quilt top will finish approximately 36" wide x 45" long, which makes a nice cot or lap sized quilt.

Quilt Assembly
1. Trim and square up your 5" square's. We cut our charm packs a touch larger, to account for any miss-cuts so you can square up at home.

2. It will be an 8 x 10 block layout, so pull your first (8) squares, you can mix up how you like but I personally tend to gravitate choosing light / dark / light / dark etc. Squint your eyes, or take a photo on your phone and change the setting to black and white, so you can see the different values more clearly. 

3. (Using a 1/4" seam allowance) Sew your first row together. Press your seams in one direction.
4. Continue to make 10 rows total. Press seams to one side, alternating from the row above. This allows for seam nesting when you sew the rows together and creates lovely flat seams on the back of your quilt.

5. Sew the rows together. Join in pairs and then continue to add bigger sections until you have one quilt top piece.

6. Give the quilt top a good press, pressing seams open and flat as you go.

7. Finish your quilt in the usual fashion. You will need 1/2 yard of fabric for binding (with some leftover). Cut (5) 2" width of fabric strips, sew together in one continuous binding strip, sew to your quilt top and fold under to the backside of the quilt and hand sew in place with a blind-stitch.

Happy sewing folks, lots of love to you all.

Friday 28 February 2020

Churn Dash Quilt Block Pattern

Hello readers! The Churn Dash quilt block is such a simple but effective block. Always a classic. I have two construction methods to share with you today, regular machine-pieced or using English Paper Pieces, to keep all both camps happy ;-)

My inspiration came from some antique Churn Dash blocks I'd found on Etsy, they have a subtle pink gingham background with handsome 1800s reproduction prints. I'm just gathering ideas at the moment to give my sewing room a little spruce up so I thought some antique quilt blocks framed on the wall would be ideal decor. Then I realised ... wait I'm a quilter, I should probably make these myself?! And they sold, so I really had no choice.

The new Full Circle quilting fabric we have in stock at Sew & Quilt was just the ticket, couple that with the Pink Carolina Gingham I was in business! 

These blocks finish at 6-3/4" square (6-1/4" when into your quilt) so they would work well in a mini quilt, or adding as a border to a medallion quilt perhaps, or a whole quilt of these!

For the machine-pieced method, please follow the below steps;

For each Churn Dash block you will need to cut the following;

From background fabric (Pink)
(2) 4" squares
(5) 1-3/4" squares

From coloured fabric (Green)
(2) 4" squares
(4) 1-3/4" squares

Block Assembly
1. Place a 4" pink and green square right sides together. 
2. Draw a line from corner to corner along the diagonal.

3. Sew a 1/4" straight line from either side of the marked line. 
4. Rotary cut along the marked line. 

5. Press seams open. You will now have 4 HST units. 
6. Trim to 3" square.

7. Sew a 1-3/4" pink and green square together. Make 4 units total.
8. Press seams open. 

9. Your units are ready to sew together!

10. Follow the placement below for sewing each of the three rows. 
11. Sew the three rows together to complete the block. Press seams open. 

For the English Paper Pieced method, please follow the below steps;

English Paper Pieces
2-1/2" Half Square Triangle paper pieces | matching acrylic template
1-1/4" Square paper pieces | matching acrylic template

For each Churn Dash block you will need to cut the following (approximate sizing, which allows for acrylic cutting templates with 3/8" seam allowance);

From background fabric (Pink)
(2) 4" squares. Subcut diagonally to make (4) triangles.
(5) 2" squares

From coloured fabric (Dark Pink)
(2) 4" squares
(4) 2" squares

As a guide, from a UK sized fat quarter you can make approximately 7 blocks per fat quarter for the main coloured fabric (shown here as dark pink). With a US size fat quarter you can make 6 if you're accurate.

Block Assembly
1. Once you have cut your fabrics, baste your fabrics to the paper templates. I like to use the Sewline Glue Pen, but use your preferred method either glue or tacking. I have a detailed EPP basting tutorial if you needed more information.

2. Following the diagram below, assemble your block by sewing each row together using a whipstitch. I have a detailed tutorial on sewing EPP shapes together for further help on this topic.

3. Sew the three rows together to complete the block, easy peasy!

Fabrics used: Full Circle by Marcus Brothers and Pink Carolina Gingham by Robert Kaufman. Get all the quilting supplies on our site.

Thanks for sewing along with me! It's good to be back over here. Tag me on instagram @messyjesse1 or @sewandquilt so I can see your Churn Dash blocks.