Sunday 16 October 2016

The Splendid Sampler: First Stitch

Today it's my turn on to share the next block as part of the epic journey of 100 mystery Splendid Sampler block quilt.  (If you are new to the #thesplendidsampler, the basics are  here, there's still time to join in).  My block is called First Stitch and recalls my first stitch stitches from when I began to sew.

This cross-stitch style block was inspired by the beginning of my sewing journey.  I've been sewing for forty years - I started young!  My mum taught me the basics and I was lucky enough to spend my primary school years at an exceptionally creative school.  In my desk tray, along with my reading book, maths jotter and pencils, there was always some sewing and it wasn't just me, everyone in the class would have some sort of textile craft on the go.  The needle book below was a school project from when I was seven or eight, We sewed samplers on Binca canvas with wool and a classroom assistant turned them into needle books.  I'm very sentimentally attached to it and still use it today.  I was obsessed by sewing then, and nothing has changed!  

First Stitch also echoes the traditional quilt block Kentucky Chain.   I didn't know that block when I was sketching out the block but all ideas come round and round in quilting as part of its history and continuation.  To share it, I thought I 'd sew up some variations to show different colour and fabric ideas.  The reverse view below gives you a clear idea of how the block seams lie, the foundation pattern is designed to create nesting seams.  The instructions include dimensions to pre-cut your pieces so you can use your fabric more efficiently and not worry about your fabric being the 'right' size.

My original First Stitch blocks were sewn for this project last year and were made with some mystery fabrics.  Each designer was sent a selection of Moda fabrics and mine was a 19th Century repro collection (I never found out the name) and you can see how those little prints and rich colours change the feel of the block.

Block Top Tips
  • You can find the pattern link here and the  foundation paper piecing tutorials here.
  • When you cut out your paper patterns (there are four to create the four cross stitches that make up the block), you need to cut along the dividing line between sections A and B.  This leaves you with no seam allowance on these diagonal edges so make sure your fabrics extend by at least ¼".  If you precut your fabrics following the instructions, this should be easy!  Once the section is pieced, you can allow ¼" seam allowance before cutting the diagonal fabric and trim the outer edge fabric in line with the dashed paper edges.   The process is the same for section B.  I use an Add-A-Quarter ruler when paper piecing and it's very handy for adding ¼" seams like this but any quilt ruler will work fine.

  • When you join sections A to B, leave the paper intact.  There's a tick mark - a little perpendicular line at the centre of the diagonal seams on sections A and - to help you pin and line up your seams perfectly, just match and pin the tick mark and the beginning and end of each seam before stitching the seam. 
  • Once the seam is sewn, the best way to remove the paper without ripping out your stitches is to tear into the paper a little at the centre of a seam and then tear outwards.  This keeps the start and end stitches of your seam intact rather than straining them.
Here's a few other versions I sewed up, this time as part of my Farmer's Wife 1930s sampler quilt.  the quilt along is finished now and I'm about to embark on assembling the blocks.   I've places this block on point to fit with the quilt layout.

And here's the square-on view.  I love the bright pastels mixed with the 1930s prints!

For this variation, I kept it a little simpler with each cross completed in two fabrics instead of three.

Here's my blocks so far.  Seeing them all together wants me to sew some more.  Part of the joy of Splendid Sampler is that its totally up to you.  There's such a choice of blocks to sew, carrying constructions and methods and you can sew them all or dip in as the weeks' progress and just sew your favourites.  The scale of this project is so vast with over 23 000 members in the Facebook group, but at an individual level, it's just down to you the piecer, and your blocks.  Thank you to Pat and Jane for inviting me to be a part of this project.  I've been more than a little blown away by how it all took off and the management and time commitment from this amazing quilty ladies as well as the other Splendid Sampler designers!



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  2. It looks so exciting to be part of this xx Your work is a joy to see and it looks great how the different fabrics give a totally different look. It's wonderful how you have kept hold of one of your first sewing projects, such a lovely keepsake xx

  3. what a lovely block with beautiful colour/fabric choices. I really like the woven look to this.

  4. Thank you for this block, it is lovely and I can easily imagine making a small quilt using it. I love the fabrics you used.

  5. Lovely SS Blocks Kerry. Loved reading your sewing story. : )

  6. I love how your block fits so well with the others in the Splendid Sampler but also is totally in keeping with your creative story. The origin of your needle book is very sweet. Thanks for sharing your stitching roots.

  7. Is there a way to make this into a 12" block? I have no idea how to translate patterns
    Thank you
    Susan Lambrix

    1. Hi Sue, the usual method would be to increase the print size- so the 3" square blocks that this is based on are printed at 200% but as the four blocks that you need are all on the same page, you would need a printer that could cope with much larger (A3) paper.


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