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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 7: Assembling the Top

Welcome back to the Fair Isle Sew Along! It’s an exciting moment, because this week we finally get to assemble the top. Home stretch, you guys!

Theoretically, when sewn together, all of your rows should measure 72-1/2″ wide. Theoretically. : ) But in reality, there are a lot of seams in these rows—and of course, being just a tiny bit off on your seam allowances can add up to major differences across all the seams in each row. My zig-zag rows, for instance, actually measured 73″, not 72-1/2″. (My reindeer row ended up surprisingly accurate. I’m sure nobody is more surprised about that than me!)

So my advice for this week is, don’t worry about the size of the blocks or the rows. Don’t even think about it (much). I’ve left some room to trim from the sides of each row if necessary.

So start by getting all of your rows sewn together. This should be quick work, since the zig zag and checkerboard rows should already be done. Next, measure all of the completed rows. For any rows that are too long, trim them down to 72-1/2″. If you find that one or more rows are too short, trim all the other rows to the length of the shortest row (you will need to trim your long sashing pieces as well).

Now you’re ready to assemble all of the rows into a completed quilt top! It’s like Christmas came early (literally)! I found that it worked well to sew the sashing pieces onto the top and bottom edges of the zig zag and checkerboard rows. Once you have that done, you should have only two more sashing pieces left, which go at the top and bottom of the quilt. Then it’s just a matter of piecing everything together and …. done.

Next week is our final post in the sew along, and we’ll be talking about the back and the quilting. Great job, everybody, I have just loved seeing all of your versions of Fair Isle! That really is like Christmas for me. : )

 

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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 6: The Checkerboard Row

Welcome to Week 6 of the Fair Isle Sew-Along! This week we’ve officially arrived at the Christmas season, and all of the busyness that entails, but if you’ve been keeping up with the sew-along, you’re in the homestretch now! This is your last row prior to assembling the top and quilting it, and it might be the easiest and quickest row of all.

As I mentioned before with strip-piecing, pay attention to your seams when cross-cutting the strip sets, NOT the raw edges of the sets. My suggestion is to keep adjusting the long strip sets as you cross-cut, so that the seams are always lined up with the grid on your cutting mat, and cross-cut at an exact 90-degree angle to the seams, not the raw edges. That way, if your seams curve a little, you’re accounting for that as you cut, and everything will work out anyway.

Then sew ’em up, and in no time at all, you’ve got your checkerboard row.

And with that, we’re ready to put it all together into a completed quilt top next week! I know a number of you are ahead and already have your tops together, which is awesome. I can’t wait to see all the completed tops in all the different colorways. It’s so much fun!



Schedule

 

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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 5: Zig Zag Rows

Welcome to Week 5 of the Fair Isle Sew-Along!
So how did everybody do with last week’s reindeer blocks? I saw some really cute reindeer out there on the Interwebs! But I know some people also had some frustration with getting seams aligned. If your seams look puckery or wobbly, or your reindeer generally look like they had too much eggnog at the Christmas party, I’ll return to what I said in last week’s post, which is that your 1/4″ seam is probably not as consistent as it could be. You get that seam consistent, and I promise your reindeer will be perfect and completely sober. : )
It’s not easy though, so above all, please don’t get discouraged. A few suggestions that might help are putting masking tape down on your machine bed to help with alignment, or you could do what I saw from sew-along participants a few times this week and eliminate some seams entirely, and just make your reindeer out of unpieced horizontal strips. That will require a little math, but if you’re proficient in such things, go for it! I went back and forth about whether to actually write the pattern that way, but in the end I decided it would make the pattern-writing too complicated and the pattern would have to be even longer than it already is. It also would have made the cutting a lot more complex, and I’m sure you all agree that cutting this bad boy was plenty complex enough as it was. LOL. But for those of you who are able to do the calculations, it’s a great time saver.
And the bottom line is, the real key to happy reindeer probably just comes down to practice—practice, practice, and more practice. I’d bet good money that your seams were better on the last reindeer than they were on the first, right? So just keep at it, and don’t worry if your deer are a little wonky—quilting covers many evils! : )
Okay, so on to this week’s task: The Zig Zag rows. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about these, other than that they’re really easy and fun, especially right after the reindeer! LOL. It’s just strip-piecing, cross-cutting, and piecing again.
And when you’re done, you end up with this (these are from my first Fair Isle quilt):
So have fun with the Zig Zags, and I’ll see you back here for the next installment!

I’m going to publish the next installment on Friday, Nov. 28, since the 27th is Thanksgiving. Until then, can’t wait to see how you’re doing—don’t forget to either link up below, or use the hashtag #fairislequilt. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with joy, love, and pie!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 4: Reindeer


Welcome back to the Fair Isle Sew Along! It’s Reindeer Week! Kind of like Shark Week, but more festive. : ) (I promise these reindeer won’t eat you alive!)

When I designed this quilt, I wanted the reindeer blocks to be very pixelated, because I felt that was the most Fair-Isle-ish look. But pixelated quilts are a huge pain—it takes forever to sew all those tiny little squares together. And I find it especially frustrating when you’re sewing dozens of tiny squares together that are the exact same fabric! So I’ve incorporated some short cuts into this pattern that could potentially save you days of your life, but we’ll still end up with something that looks like a pixelated quilt. Or as close as we can get to fully pixelated without pulling hair out. : )

My number one tip this week is consistent seam allowance. Say it with me: Consistent seam allowance. An accurate 1/4″ seam is soooo important when you’re making something with so many seams. If your seam allowance is even the tiniest bit off, that adds up across 12 seams.

But even more important (for this pattern, anyway) than a pinpoint-accurate 1/4″ seam is just that your seam allowances are consistent. If your seam allowances are a hair-width off, but they’re all the same hair-width off, you’ll be fine. It isn’t crucially important for your Reindeer row to be exactly the same width as your Fir Tree row or your Poinsettia Rows—I’ve got some extra space built in along the sides of the quilt to trim and even things up a little if necessary. So don’t freak out if your finished Reindeer blocks aren’t measuring exactly what they’re supposed to. It’ll all be good in the end, I promise. : )

On the other hand, if your seam allowances are all over the map, that’s when you’re going to have problems with this block, because that means your squares within the reindeer won’t line up. If you have issues lining up your seams when you’re sewing together the reindeer, an inconsistent seam allowance is probably to blame. Don’t whip through this as you’re sewing the strips together—slow and straight wins the race here. And if you need to, get out your ruler and measure your seam allowance in a few places. Again, consistency is the key, so if you find your seam allowance veering off here and there, try to pinpoint why in order to correct that.

I spent about 2-1/2 hours sewing together all the strip sets, and another 4 hours or so sewing together the cross-cut strips to complete the block. So all in all, this week’s time commitment for me was around 6-7 hours. Plan accordingly, based on how your time spent has compared to mine in the previous steps. (I know we all sew at different paces—my timing is just meant to help you judge yours!)

Can’t WAIT to see all your finished reindeer! It truly is satisfying to finish these guys. And once they’re done, all we have are a few simple rows left. Don’t forget to link up below, and/or hashtag #fairislequilt on Instagram. See you next week!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

 

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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 3: Fir Trees

Welcome to the third installment in the Fair Isle Sew Along! Have you guys seen all the amazing Poinsettia blocks from last week? I’m so impressed with all of the creative color palettes and prints! I didn’t this particular design was one people would change up very much, but I’m loving the creative spins.

This week: Fir tree blocks. I know last week’s Poinsettia blocks were time-consuming—there are lots of little pieces in the Poinsettia blocks, and with 10 in the quilt, it’s not quick. So I think you’ll enjoy the simpler, faster assignment for this week. : ) And in fact, these blocks are so simple that I don’t have many tips to give you this week.

My one tip is that good pinning is crucial when making these blocks. And if you find that the length of any of these units is a little off, just fold the units in half and press them to make a crease. Then line up the centers, not the edges. That will help you compensate for any units that don’t end up exactly 11″ long.

It took me a little over 2 hours to make the Fir Tree blocks this week, so plan accordingly. (Told you they were fast!) Which is good, because next week, we’ve got reindeer on the schedule. : ) Don’t forget to link up your blog posts below, or use the hashtag #fairislequilt on IG! See you next Thursday!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

 

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Fair Isle Sew Along, Part 2: Poinsettia Blocks

Welcome back to the Fair Isle Sew Along! How did all of you do with your cutting? I saw some fun pictures on Instagram of highly organized fabric piles, so it looks like you all did pretty well! : ) (Check the #fairislequilt hashtag to see!)

So this week, we’re making the Poinsettia blocks. This, along with the Reindeer row, is one of the two most time-consuming portions of the quilt. So my recommendation this week is: Chain piece, chain piece, chain piece. : ) I LOVE chain-piecing—when done right, it saves loads of time.

In fact, you may notice that I oversize the cutting for half-square triangles in my patterns and have people trim a bit more off their HSTs than is strictly necessary. I originally started doing that because I appreciated the ability to trim more off when I first started quilting—some of my early HST attempts were, um, a bit wonky. LOL. So the extra trimming room is great for beginners.

But you know what else these oversize squares are great for? Chain piecing! With slightly oversized HST squares, you don’t need to pair up your squares so precisely for sewing. After all, you’re going to trim them down later anyway—so you might as well add a little additional fabric, so that you don’t have to take the time to line everything up so carefully. Check out the picture above—you can see that I don’t bother lining up my squares at all, really. As a result, I can run 20 pairs of squares (two sewing lines apiece) through my machine in well under 5 minutes. Success with a quilt like this is often about being efficient, and this is one way to speed things up significantly.

My other tip this week involves cross-cutting the strip sets. You have to cut up a lot of strip sets in this pattern, so it’s worth taking a minute or two right now to figure out the best way to do it.

The key here is to always cross-cut perpendicular to the seam. See how the 2-1/2″ ruler mark is aligned with the seam in the picture above? That’s what you should worry about. Don’t pay as much attention to the raw edges of the strip set—pay attention to the seam, and cross-cut based on that. If the raw edges are really off after cross-cutting perpendicular to the seam, you can always attempt to even them up later, but as long as the seam is perpendicular to the cross-cut edges, you’ll be in good shape. And as you go along the strip set, keep adjusting for alignment with the seam. So if the seam curves a little, just keep adjusting your ruler accordingly.

I hope these tips help you out as you make your Poinsettia blocks! All told, it took me about 9 hours to make all 10 of my Poinsettia blocks. But I’m pretty familiar with this block by now, so budget at least 9-10 hours for piecing this week, depending on how fast you generally sew. Next week, we’ll be making the Fir Tree blocks, which come together much more quickly than the Poinsettia blocks, so if you fall behind a little this week, no worries. You’ll probably be able to catch back up soon.

Just a reminder, if you’re on Instagram, hashtag #fairislequilt so we can all share each other’s progress! (This goes for whether you’re making it “on time” or much later.) And if you do a blog post about the Sew Along, you can also link up your blog post below.

Can’t wait to see everyone’s Poinsettia blocks! Now get chain-piecing. : )

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

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Fair Isle Sew Along Part 1

Okay, I’m over my my crabbiness from yesterday and I am so ready for our Fair Isle Sew-Along! I’m thrilled that you all are going to make a Fair Isle quilt with me.

 

This is Part 1 of the Fair Isle Sew-Along, which is (drumroll please) … cutting. As a reminder, you do need to purchase the Fair Isle pattern in order to participate in this sew-along, so if you’re still on the fence, get your rear off of there and come join us! You can buy the pattern here.

Now, if you’ve already taken a look at the pattern, you may have noticed that the cutting list is kind of a bear (understatement warning). Sorry about that. But with a quilt like this, with all these different block designs and even different block sizes, there’s really no alternative. Cutting the background fabric can be especially daunting. And cutting efficiently is crucial in order to avoid buying extra yardage!

So today I’m going to take you through the order in which I cut my background fabric. I highly recommend following the order below, and checking off the pieces on the cutting list in your pattern as you go, so that you don’t miss any. If you just stay methodical and organized, you’ll be fine. Once we get through all this cutting, it’s just the fun stuff from here on out. Oh, and if you haven’t changed your rotary cutter blade recently, you might want to now. Just sayin’. : )

(Please note that I’m doing a different color scheme for my quilt than what is stated in the pattern, so my background fabric is red instead of white. Don’t let my photos confuse you! Background fabric in these photos = red!)


Okay, are we ready? Here we go:

1. Divide the background fabric yardage into 2 pieces: 73″ long (we’ll call that Chunk A), and the rest (we’ll call that Chunk B).

2. Cut the sashing pieces first, cutting lengthwise from 73″-long Chunk A. Once you’ve cut your 73″ sashing strips, fold them double and lay them along the 36″ width of a cutting mat, with the fold lined up with the 0″ mark on the mat. With the strips still folded double, trim the unfolded end 1/4″ past the 36″ mark on your mat, in order to make the sashing pieces exactly 72-1/2″—see photo above. (I find it easier to trim down the sashing strips, rather than trying to cut a much larger piece of fabric to a perfect 72-1/2″ length and then cutting the sashing from that.)

3. Next, from Chunk B, I cut all of the 42″ wide strips, cutting the width of the fabric. These are the 1-1/2″ x 42″ pieces for the Poinsettia blocks, plus all the strips listed under the Zig Zag and Checkerboard rows.

4. Now go back to the piece that was leftover from Chunk A after cutting your sashing. You should have a piece left over that’s about 27-1/2″ x 73″. From that piece, cut 37 strips 1-1/2″ x 27-1/2″. From those 37 strips, cut the remaining 1-1/2″ pieces for the Reindeer and Poinsettia blocks, leaving the 1-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ Poinsettia block pieces for last, since you can get most of those pieces from the scraps after cutting the larger pieces. (You might not be able to get all of your 1-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ pieces from these scraps, but you can get the rest from other scraps later.)

5. After cutting your 37 1-1/2″-wide strips, what’s left of Chunk A should measure about 17-1/2″ x 27-1/2″. From this chunk, I cut all of the remaining pieces for the Reindeer blocks, plus the remaining pieces for the Zig Zag rows.

6. Then go back to what remains of Chunk B and cut everything else from that. Start with the 24″ and 36″ long pieces from the Fir Tree blocks, then work your way through the rest of the cutting. (You may need to cut a few remaining 1-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ pieces from these scraps.)

7. Finally, cut your green, red, and pink pieces (a comparatively easier task), and you’re done! As you cut, I recommend grouping pieces by the type of block (i.e., all Poinsettia pieces together, all Fir Tree pieces together). If you’re as anal as I am, you might even want to put the pieces for each block type into labeled ziplock bags. That way you’ll be oh-so-organized and ready to move on to Step 2 next week.

My cutting probably took me a little over three hours total, although I had many interruptions, so I could be off on that. Budget 3-4 hours of time for your cutting this week, and you should be on track for next week, when we will be making the Poinsettia blocks. (But if you don’t stay on track, no worries! These posts will stay up indefinitely, so come back whenever you do have time.)

Hey, don’t forget to hashtag #fairislequilt as you work, so that we can all share each other’s progress! ETA: I’ve also got a link-up below for those who would like to share blog posts. And I’ll meet you back here next Thursday for Part 2!

Fair Isle Quilt Sew-Along

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WIP Wednesday: Grumpy

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Okay, feeling a little crabby over here this morning. It’s been one of those weeks when there have been too many distractions and not enough sewing. I’m behind on my SewOff skirt, behind on another quilt commitment, and I’m not going to Quilt Market. Hmmmph.

Well, I’ll probably get over it. Eventually. Honestly, I’m kind of glad/not glad that I’m not going to Market. Because I do love Market, but there’s so much hassle that goes along with getting there. I’ll just need to remind myself of that frequently when the Instagram pictures start pouring in. LOL.

Anyway. What am I working on this week? Or maybe the more apt question is what should I be working on this week, but for one reason or another am not? Sigh.

Let’s start with this: The Fair Isle Sew-Along kicks off tomorrow! Yay! And it seems like a whole lot of you are joining in! Super excited to get started and can’t wait to see how my new version turns out with the red background. (It’s not too late to join us! Click here to pick up the pattern and you can be cutting with the rest of us tomorrow!)

Sew-Off skirt? Well, I started it. I’m loving how it looks so far, but just wish I would have gotten farther on it. (And taken a picture of it while it was still daylight out—sorry for the crummy lighting!)

Quilts? I’m working on one right now. Let’s just leave it at that. : )

This WIP Wednesday has been brought to you by the one-and-only Fat Quarter Shop. Who doesn’t love the Fat Quarter Shop? It was one of the first places I bought quilt fabric and it’s still one of my favorite online shopping stops, 7-plus years later. They’ve got everything, my friends. Everything. So go show them some WIP Wednesday love.

Giveaway: The Fat Quarter Shop wants to send you this fat-quarter bundle from Frances Newcombe’s new Utopia line from Art Gallery Fabrics! And it’s a good thing they’re not sending it to me first, because I might drool on it before I put it in the mail to the winner. Just comment on this post for one chance to win, and/or link up your WIPs below for a second chance. Good luck!

I can’t wait to see what YOU’RE working on this week! Here’s how to link up:
1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag #wipwednesday and mention me, @freshlypieced.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

 

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Fair Isle Sew Along Starts Oct. 23

It’s official: I will be starting my Fair Isle quilt pattern sew-along beginning Oct. 23! We all just need a little motivation to finish a project like this by Christmas, right? Well, join up with the sew-along and let’s knock this one out together. : )

So we’ll kick things off next Thursday, and then I’ll be posting about it each Thursday after that until we finish the quilt.
Schedule:
Nov. 6: Make the Fir Tree Blocks
Nov. 13: Make the Reindeer Blocks
Nov. 20: Make the Red Zig-Zag Rows
Nov. 27: Make the Pink Checkerboard Row (this is Thanksgiving, so I tried to pick the easiest section for this week)
Dec. 4: Assemble the quilt top and make the back
Dec. 11: Baste, quilt, and bind
Just eight weeks to a completed Christmas quilt! I’ve even given you a couple of weeks before Christmas to just enjoy it. (Or catch up if you’re behind.) Of course, the idea is to have fun and enjoy this, so don’t feel too much pressure to keep up! It is the holidays after all, so give yourself a break here and there.
The first thing you’ll need for the sew-along is, of course, the Fair Isle pattern. You can order a PDF version here or a hard-copy paper version here.
Got the pattern? Awesome. Now just gather up your fabric and you’ll be ready for next Thursday!
 
Yardage requirements:
• 4 yards white solid (background)
• 1-1/3 yards poppy red solid (Kona Poppy is a great choice)
• 7/8 yard Flamingo Pink solid (I used Free Spirit Designer Solids in Flamingo, but Kona solids in Punch or Melon would be great choices too)
• 3/4 yard chartreuse solid (I used Free Spirit Designer Solids in Chartreuse, but Kona Chartreuse would be wonderful as well)
• 5/8 yard fabric for binding
• 4-3/8 yards fabric for backing
The color choices above are to make the quilt in the color scheme I originally used, but I could see this quilt in plenty of other colorways as well. In fact, for my sew-along Fair Isle, I think I’m going to do a red background, and the design elements will be white, light gray, and maybe pale blue. Fun!
Pattern Update
One final note: Some of you who bought your pattern soon after its release should have received an email telling you that the pattern has been updated, and to please download it again. Please take a moment to download the new version and discard any older versions you may have. I made several changes to the pattern—in one of the diagrams under “Make the Red Zig-Zag blocks,” the colors were inadvertently reversed, so I fixed that. There were also two cut pieces that were left out of the cutting instructions, so those were added. And since I was making changes to the file, I decided to tweak the layout so that the PDF page sizes were larger, allowing me to make the quilt top assembly diagram larger as well. I apologize for any confusion, but I hope you’ll find the PDF pattern easier to follow now that I’ve made all of these tweaks!
If you bought your pattern prior to Sept. 26 and did not receive an email asking you to download it again, feel free to contact me and I can get you a link to download it. (If you bought your pattern before Sept. 26 but you haven’t yet attempted to download it, you’re fine—when you’re ready to download it, just use the link originally emailed to you, and you will automatically get the most recent version. And anyone who purchased after Sept. 26 already has the most updated version.)
Thanks all! See you next Thursday for cutting, cutting, and more cutting!
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Chandelier Quilt

 I know lots of you have been looking forward to this, and I sure have too—today’s the day that my Chandelier Quilt-Along starts on the Bernina blog, We All Sew!
I really love this quilt and am so happy with how it turned out. And I promise it’s easier than it looks. : ) It uses the Emmy Grace fabric line by Bari J., which is a beautiful line that I enjoyed using (and it just happens to be on sale at The Intrepid Thread!). This quilt has a lot of half-square triangles and the square-in-square piecing technique, but I’ve got a few tips to make that easier. And all the instructions are completely free on the Bernina blog!
Here’s the schedule:
Oct. 20 – Making the blocks
Oct. 27 – Assemble the quilt top and quilting
I’ve also got a really fun and easy technique for getting the scallop quilting I used on this quilt—no free-motion required! So follow along over on We All Sew, and have a wonderful Monday!