Monday, 29 February 2016

Perpetual Spring English Paper Piecing PDF Pattern

English paper piecing wallhanging in yellow

I'm so excited to finally be releasing my latest English paper piecing PDF sewing pattern. While I was tempted to just call it 'The Daffodil One', which is how it's referred to in my own house, I'm imagining other sewers may wish to reincarnate this pattern in colours other than yellow! So, the name 'Perpetual Spring' feels like it could represent any number of springtime flowers and echoes the optimism that seems to hang in the air at this time of year, as well as reflecting the recurring flower shapes in the design*. 


One of the main quirks of this pattern is that it involves some curved piecing, which may be a welcome variation for experienced English paper piecers (and to be experienced at EPP, I really think you only need one project under your belt to have grasped all the basics!).  

So here are a few details about what the Perpetual Spring pattern includes:
  • Full-size pattern pieces that can be printed on regular printer paper at home.
  • A mix of photos and diagrams to clearly illustrate how to construct the blocks and sew the pieces together. 
  • Lots of tips for how to english paper piece curves - from wrapping the papers to sewing the actual pieces together.
  • A colouring sheet so that you can plan out a colour scheme.
  • Used at 100% actual size the pattern pieces produce a finished design that measures approximately 24.5" x 25",  but the pieces can easily be scaled up on a photocopier for a full-size quilt. 
  • The pattern includes a 3/4" seam allowance around the perimeter of the completed piece - this means that you have extra room built in to: frame it; bind it; make it into a cushion (which you'd need a seam allowance for); or use it as the central medallion in a quilt. 
  • The more complicated piecing is a suitable challenge for anyone who has successfully completed at least one paper piecing project already. 
  • It's instantly downloadable for you to save and print out from your own computer 
  • It costs just £6 (at the time of writing, that's around $8.40USD, $11.70AUD, $11.30 CAD). 
  • You can buy a copy, here!
Buy the Pattern!


If you buy the pattern, I would love to see how you get on with it, so please do feel free to tag a photo with #PerpetualSpringEPP on Twitter or Instagram or email me a photo at flossieteacakes (at) gmail (dot) com.

English paper piecing close up

If you'd like to read more about my own version of Perpetual Spring (which I quilted before framing), you can find a post about it here

Or if you're looking to read more around EPP, you can find a post on fussy-cutting here; a post on my favourite threads for EPP here; a guide to framing your work here; or a post written for complete beginners when I myself was one too, here (note, use good quality paper, rather than card now!). Or if you're interested in an EPP Pattern that doesn't contain curves, you might like this one.

Florence x

* For me, the name Perpetual Spring is also a nod to the fact that I started sewing this piece as the daffodils were coming out last spring and finished it only as they were coming out again this spring! It's truly not a pattern that takes anything like a year to complete - the actual sewing time was probably just a few weeks in total and I'm sure many people would sew it up even quicker - but I am unhurried in both my stitches and seemingly in my need to complete a project in any particular timeframe. Perpetual Spring has a little more grace as a title to it than Slow Loris though, no? Did you know that the slow loris has the slowest primate life history, with a pregnancy that lasting for six months, only to give birth to babies the weight of a handful of paperclips!

Saturday, 20 February 2016


My yellow English paper piecing is finally finished and the pattern is written and will be ready to go out into the world after a final read-through next week after half term (UPDATED: The pattern is now available here). From both a technical and aesthetic point of view, for me this is definitely a favourite-EPP-thing-I've-ever-made. 

This was my first experience of sewing curves using English paper piecing. I started off using a few techniques to make piecing the curves feel more manageable (these are covered in the pattern!), but it gradually became almost as instinctive as piecing straight edges and I was eventually able to dispense with these crutches and do it entirely by sight and feel. I found the trickiest part of this design was actually wrapping and sewing the curved diamonds that tapered to such a fine point.

Above is the wrapping of the point and below is the sewing of it. I found these quite fiendish to begin with, but again, the repetition meant that it eventually fell into place for me and I've been able to put some tips into the pattern instructions that will hopefully make it a quicker learning curve for anyone else who sews them. 

In the past with wall hangings, I've always left the papers in place and framed the finished piece, but by the time I reached the end of this project, I had such a yearning to do some hand-quilting that I tore out the papers and set to work. It's odd when a longing to do something hits like that, isn't it - it always makes me think of Rapunzel's pregnant mother feeling compelled to encourage her husband to steal the witch's lettuces, as in this case it did feel self-indulgent not to just call it 'done' as there's no real function to the quilting with it being wall hung. I used Quilter's Dream 'request weight' batting to avoid puffiness (request weight is the batting with the least amount of 'loft' and height), some pale yellow King Tut thread for hand-quilting and several episodes of the recently aired BBC adaptation of War & Peace for entertainment.

I then bound the edges, but I think because I usually frame my wall-hangings I just couldn't get used to the way it looked (see the shot below) and after letting it sit on the wall to percolate, I realised that I'd just probably love it more if I framed it, so the binding came off and a frame was ordered and I do feel much happier with it now.

I've hung it over our bed and I really love the way its appearance changes throughout the day; in the morning sunshine it takes on a deliciously warm, golden glow. 

I'm now really tempted to start another one, possibly in pinks or blues, but I'm even more excited to see how it might look if others choose to make their own versions once the pattern is released.

This week has been half-term and I've been involved in a surprising amount of off-piste sewing. My fourteen-year-old wanted to make some pyjamas, so we looked at a few options and she fell in love with Tilly & the Buttons' Fifi pattern. We finished the camisole top in two sessions (I directed, she sewed) and we're now just waiting for a spare couple of hours to finish the shorts. 

I've also been sewing name tapes into all of my grandmother's clothes this week as she's moved into a care home just a few miles away. I've always felt a certain amount of nervous-but-hopeful-butterflies-in-the-stomach apprehension for the year ahead when sewing in my children's school name tapes, and it's odd to unexpectedly be reunited with these same maternal feelings, but on this occasion for my grandmother, as she ventures forth in putting down new roots, embracing different routines and making new friends. She is approaching it all with such enthusiasm that I can't help feeling in awe.

What are you sewing at the moment? 

Florence x

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

St. Louis 16-Patch Quilt

At the start of this year, I decided to finally do something about the fact that we don't have a quilt that's big enough to cover a sofa's-worth of people in our living room. Until now we've invariably snuggled under a patchwork of smaller quilts or more often the beautiful cashmere blanket that my mother gave me for my thirtieth birthday as it's amazingly warm. But after eight years of snuggling, it's starting to show its age and I don't want it to reach a level of wear where I have to part with it, so I'd rather just minimise its use and allow it to go into semi-retirement over the arm of a sofa where I can still see it everyday.

I decided that I wanted something in bright, saturated colours, which automatically makes me think of prints by Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner and Kaffe Fassett. Amy Butler fabrics seem a lot harder to find at many online quilt shops nowadays - I still really love her designs though and really like the more painterly, less geometric prints that feature in her last few collections, Violette and Bright Heart - only Stitch, Craft, Create and Cotton Patch seem to stock a wide selection in the UK. When my fabrics arrived, they really did make me feel completely joyful - I absolutely love these prints and instantly texted photos of them to both my sister and mother as it felt like a great ball of warmth and sunshine worth sharing.

For the piecing, I've kept things completely simple and chose to make the quilt from 16-patch blocks, with two prints per block. Although it's not a complex block, I used a tutorial that I found here as Steffani has done all the hard work in terms of thinking about which way to press seams.

Here's my chair temporarily reupholstered in four inch strips of fabric. The very, very eagle-eyed may notice a curious selection of things appearing on my desk. In addition to sewing paraphernalia, over recent months I have become the proud owner of a replica Mini Cooper (a gift from my husband in lieu of a real one) and a miniature golden retriever in glorious moulded plastic, which my husband thought I might appreciate on the grounds that our loft rooms are a Nell-free zone. I really love these strange little additions and my eyes are yet to become used to them in the way that they can with things I'm expecting to see, so I enjoy looking at them every day!

The repetitiveness of the piecing allowed me to become really obsessive and geeky about the way that I was working (that's a good thing in my eyes!). Building in strict seam matching standards and economies of time in the production line became a really fun part of making up the blocks! I realised that normally whenever I reach for a pin, there's a pause in work flow as I try to avoid being stabbed while finding one that's both straight and is actually a pin (my needles tend to end up in with the pins and because I hand-sew a lot, there are about fifty of them mixed in there!), so I put only the exact number of pins that I needed to sew each seam onto my magnetic pin cushion and loved how much this simple change sped up the sewing!

Although it may look random, I also had a strict fabric pairing criteria for each block: there had to be one lead print and one filler print; the filler print had to contain at least one of the colours contained in the lead print; but the filler print could not have the same background colour as the lead print. I don't think the results of this are obvious, but I always think that details like this make something feel right, even if only in my head.

I loved seeing these mushroom and fill up my design wall. My daughter made the blue and black one at the top left of the wall (and in the photo below) and it's my favourite block so I put it in the centre section of the quilt when I came to laying them out later. I really loved teaching her the clever way that these blocks are made up (as per the tutorial I linked to earlier) so that you don't have to piece 16 individual squares and so that the seams all nest nicely.

I've now completed 36 blocks and I'm at the point of sewing them all together. This quilt is huge and the only room where I could lay it all out was the living room. When I put the blocks down, I realised that it just looked like a giant mess, so I went down the root of trying to give it some order that, again, may not be instantly apparent, but which hopefully helps the whole thing to hang together and look right. I decided that every other block should have either some orange, pink or red in it and that the ones in between would be cooler colours. I felt much happier with this layout even though Nell looks to have grave doubts about it. Please excuse the rumpus of cushions; there is no time for beautifying a room when arranging quilt blocks.

And goodness, did I ever think I could get to the point of arranging a whole quilt top on the floor and Nell just instinctively knowing that she shouldn't trample over it? At three years old she is becoming an incredibly thoughtful little creature who tries really, really hard to control her impulse to bound around willy-nilly and now just bounds when it looks like she won't knock things over or destroy them. Just after this photo was taken she lay down with her chin on the corner block, quietly watching me place the rest of them (I've noticed she will often do this: following my eyes the whole time, she will place just a paw or her nose gently on something that she knows isn't really hers, as if trying to strike a compromise and trying to ascertain that I do love her dearly and so am willing to share a little with her, while simultaneously doing this testing-of-the-waters so carefully that she is reassuring me that if it's permitted then she knows to take care!). Sometimes it really amazes me that we've invited this creature (who at first seemed like a wild animal) to share our home with us and that it's all actually okay and that we all live happily alongside one another and that two entirely different species have formed a family. Do you ever get hit by this sense of how odd it is that there are animals in your house*, but how weirdly fine and normal that feels?

Anyway, back to the quilt. I did quite a lot of batting research and I'll let you know the results of that once I've quilted it, but I'm hoping for super puffiness and softness!

Florence x

* Only applicable if you have pets. If there are uninvited animals in your house then I have everything crossed for you that they leave quickly!
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