Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Small World

When Kerry emailed me to ask if I would like to be a co-host of the quilt-along she was planning for My Small World, I didn't hesitate to say yes! I had already purchased the Quiltmania Spring edition especially for Jen Kingwell's gorgeous pattern. At the time, I said to Kerry that I didn't think I'd be able to do much more than my allocated part (part 5), but to my surprise I've found this to be one of the most compelling projects I've worked on in a long time and I've nearly finished it! I don't like to gush, but I really have had so much fun working on this one and I'm really pleased with the way it's turned out.

So, onto part 5. This part contains four different versions of rainbows, each appliquéd onto the background - pieced arcs, a half Dresden, hexagons, and a New York Beauty variation. If you haven't tried any of these before, perhaps this part looks a little daunting. But I'm here to reassure you that it's really not, and you should give them all a go! As with many parts of this quilt though, if there's something that's not quite your thing, there's always an alternative way of making it, or swapping something else in that you feel happier making. I've been mainly machine piecing this quilt, apart from the appliqué parts, but for part 5, I've hand pieced three out of the four components.

First - the background. The one thing I did differently to the pattern was to substitute in bigger pieces where these would be covered by the rainbows. I didn't want to go to the effort of piecing tiny square only to cut them away later. It's very simple to work this out by looking at the diagram, simply by counting the number of squares in a row you want to cover in a bigger piece, and adding a half inch (quarter inch at either end). So if it's six squares to cover, cut your piece 6.5 inches by 1.5 inches (instead of six 1.5 inch squares). (Excuse my rather rubbish iPhone pics, by the way).

Next the pieced arcs.

I like to use freezer paper to make my templates. Trace the template onto the 'paper side', cut it out exactly on the line, and press onto the fabric, then trace around onto the fabric with a pencil. No shifting of the template, works beautifully.

Cut around the pencil line, leaving a 1/4 inch seam. You don't have to draw the 1/4 inch line in, but it is useful. Your first pencil line, around the template, is your sewing line, but it helps to keep things lined up if the seam is exactly cut at 1/4 inch, but this isn't super important. The main thing is to pin exactly on the sewing line, on both pieces that are being sewn. And by pin, I mean pin. A lot. Start by finger pressing the half way point on both pieces, matching the creases and pinning at that point. Then gently ease the curve around, placing a pin approximately every 1/2 inch or even closer, making sure that you're putting the pin through the pencil line on both sides.

Then sew with a tiny running stitch, securing with a back stitch at the start (as well as a knot!) I generally load 5 or 6 stitches onto my needle at a time, pull the needle through, then take a backstitch before stitching the next 5 or 6. Remove the pins and hold the edges of the piece taut as you go, easing as necessary.

As an alternative to this method, you could also appliqué semi circles - starting with the largest, then adding progressively smaller semi circles. Or you could cut the pieces as per the pattern, but just appliqué the top edge of the piece onto the background, add the next piece and appliqué the top edge down, and so on.

Next comes the half Dresden plate. Again, I used freezer paper for my templates, tracing ten templates and cutting out, then ironing onto my fabrics. This time I machine pieced them, simply stitching  from the bottom corner straight up the line to the next corner and stopping. As with stitching all small pieces on the machine, a slightly smaller stitch length is useful. I left the freezer paper on for this step, using it as a guide for where to stitch, exactly next to the template.

When they're all stitched together, you can fold the top triangle edges over - it helps to trim them back slightly. I sprayed a little starch into a jar lid, and painted the edges of the fabric with starch before pressing them into place, which helps them hold their shape.

Then the piece is ready to be appliquéd on. To do this, I like to use Roxanne's basting glue - I just dab a little on the outer edge of the piece and press down onto the background. No need for pins!

I'll be back in a few days with some pictures of the next two rainbows. In the meantime, if you're on Instagram you can see a few pics of the tiny pieced triangles in progress. Find me at @petitselefants.

Thanks for sewing along! It's so fun seeing everyone's versions of this special little quilt. :)

Danielle x


  1. This is great Danielle. I have never used freezer paper - does it actually stick to the fabric when you press it? I've found tracing the templates on to template plastic and having to add the 1/4" a little tedious, so would like to be able to use a different method when I get to this stage!

  2. fabulous Danielle - I'm almost up to part 5 so look forward to using your tips !

  3. Coming late to the game but trying to absorb all the great hints and ideas!


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