Charm Packs Are EPP Friendly

Hello Everybody,

Here we are in March already!  The snowdrops are fading and the daffodils are out. We have had some sunshine but it’s still too cold (and windy) to garden for long spells.  I will have to wait a little longer for that.

In my last post I was looking for patterns to use up fabric I had bought years ago, and among my stash were several charm packs and mini charm packs. I thought I would say a little more about those in this post.

Just to be clear, for anyone who doesn’t know,  Charm Packs are collections of  42, pre-cut, five inch squares, usually by Moda (a fabric designer). The patterns might be a mix of larger and smaller prints, spots, or stripes and some of them are duplicated (which is more useful than it sounds). There are wonderful designs for children and also a range of solids.

Moda ‘Bramble’ Charm Pack

There are new design collections every year and, as all the fabric colours co-ordinate, they are very useful for beginners. One charm pack of 6 blocks across and 7 blocks down will give you a  27″ x 31.5″  crib size quilt. Of course you can add multiple borders to make it bigger, or buy more than one of the same design charm pack. Some fabric shops put their own charm pack collections together and the squares vary in number and price.  Kaffe  Fasset charm packs are gorgeous but  different again in size and the amount of pieces.

Charm Squares are very EPP friendly and 5 inches is a decent sized square to begin with. From it you can cut useful sized rectangles, large hexagons and house shapes. I often use them to make my accordion houses.

Accordion Houses using a Moda ‘Wee Wovens’ Charm Pack

It makes sense to use as much of each charm square as possible. For example, if you are making a quilt using 3″ squares, you are losing quite a bit of your 5″charm square. It would be better to  size up to a 4″ or 4.5″ square or cut four tiny squares out of each one. And of course there are paper pieces are available in all sizes to wrap your pieces around.

Mini charm parks also have 42 pieces but are only  2.5″ x 2.5 ” square. These often contain two or three pieces of the same prints and/or a range of shades in the same colour ways. They are trickier for EPP’ers because we like to leave a larger than the usual 1/4 inch seam allowance to turn in around our paper pieces and this makes your finished pieces, whatever shape, quite small.

A range of mini charm packs by findfabrics on Ebay

I often mix a charm pack with other fabric (solids or prints), rather than buy more than one the same, though it can be useful to buy a Charm Pack and a Mini Charm Pack of the same design, depending on the needs of your pattern. The tiny quilt in progress below ‘ Little Kitties’,  is made up of a black and grey mini charm pack called ‘Liquorice’ that I bought from  findfabrics shop on eBay which I mixed with some of Riley Blakes ‘Meow’ fabric. The pieces are just one inch square though 1.5″ squares are better suited to min charm packs.

It’s actually very difficult to fussy cut small designs. For some reason fabric designers often allow plenty of white space to cut around larger designs but as soon as the designs are small enough to fit a one inch square, for example, there is rarely enough space to omit bits of the design above or below, which is bit disappointing.

‘Little Kitties’

The second mini charm quilt in progress is a traditional pattern called ‘Building Blocks’, where printed blocks zig zag down a quilt against a solid colour background. I chose to use slate grey against this very colourful ‘Simple Marks Summer’ mini charm pack by Moda. In retrospect I would have preferred to have used a paler grey background which would have allowed the colours to pop forward more, but I was trying to use what I already had rather than buy more fabric.

The squares are sewn together in each row but I still have to sew the rows together and take out the papers.  I plan to add a small border at the bottom, none at the sides (only the binding) and a wide one at the top with a large leaping hare appliquéd in the centre. This way it can be used as a baby quilt or a wall hanging. Not sure what colour to make the hare. What do you think? Lime green?

I still have two more mini charm quilts to go and several charm quilts (puff puff). More of those in later posts.

In the meantime I have been carrying on with my Scottish themed blocks/pictures. I have almost finished the tops of two more. The first one was inspired by the fading snowdrops in my garden. I thought it would be nice to see them last a little longer in a quilt.

‘Tiptoe Through the Snowdrops’

The house is slightly padded to bring it forward but it’s not quite straight so it will have to come off and be sewn on again : (

The second one is not as far along as I haven’t completed the house, or tucked in the ‘ears’,  but it’s made to celebrate the daffodils that come after the snowdrops each year.. I have used the back of the yellow fabric for four of the triangles, hoping it would give me a some subtle differences in tone but I’m not sure if it works. What do you think? The blue of my ironing board surface is showing through so maybe it’s hard to tell.

‘Golden Daffodils’

That’s all for now but I feel I am making progress. I have treated myself to a new LED floor lamp with a magnifier which means I can carry it around and sew in rooms where I  there was not much natural light, such as in front of the television, or in bed!

Till next time…..

Just a few snowdrops left now, in sheltered spots

New EPP Ideas for a New Year

A collection of eggs from my family of ducks. Aren’t they lovely?

Hello Everybody and Happy New Year!

I’m sorry there was no blog post from me in December 2019. My  husband and I caught a virus which we  didn’t manage to shake off until Christmas Eve. And then, two days after Christmas, with my son and his girlfriend coming to stay the next day, we lost power from all our sockets. We did discover two sockets on a different circuit and so we ran extension cables, attached to further extension cables, from these to whatever we needed to use. There were cables all over the house and up the stairs where individual items were constantly being unplugged, swapped around and plugged in.  I found I couldn’t have a heater and an iron on at the same time, or the washer and the dryer without overload and the result was a strong smell of burning that sent me running to disconnect  one of them. This went on until well into January.  It’s so easy  take these things for granted until they vanish, isn’t it? And now it feels so wonderful to have all the cables disappear and the power return. Despite the inconvenience it  was an adventure of sorts and certainly a holiday season that I won’t forget.

As we only used essentials my sewing light was not a contender and this is something I really need to be able to sew in the low light of winter. Before the power went, I did make a set of three, double-sided, accordion houses as a gift for my son’s girlfriend and made a start on a few others, which I didn’t manage to finish.

Double Sided Accordion houses with a Spring like theme.

Here are a larger set of unfinished ones, which are double-sided as well:

Above: Larger Accordion houses with a coastal theme Below: Larger Accordion houses with a farm theme

and a mini set of Japanese Indigo ones, also unfinished as yet. They are just one and three quarter inches ( 4  1/2 cm) from the point of the roof to the base!

After Christmas, in the little space between Boxing Day and New Year, I worked on a  block I started a while back and wanted to finish.  January was just around the corner, when skeins of geese fly over our house on their way to warmer climates and I wanted to record that in fabric.

‘Geese Flying Over’ 8 inches square

I chose a blue grey palette to suggest our  overcast January days and added a group of fussy-cut geese (these may actually be swans but let’s not go there), all pieced together in a  traditional Flying Geese block. I have called it ‘Geese Flying Over”. Now I just have to appliqué a house into the bottom left hand corner and the top will be done. Still lots more work to do before it’s finished, though.

What should you expect from this blog in 2020?  My plan is to add some ‘special’ posts between my ‘work in progress’ posts to feature a variety of experiments with fabric. I hope to include flower pounding and leaf hammering, vegetable dying, fabric bead making, the use of crayons, coloured pencils and paint on fabric, weaving with fabric, fabric collage, writing text onto fabric and a whole lot more.  Each of these techniques can be used to enhance any EPP project and I hope to show you how. I will also experiment with more of Deborah Boschert’s Design Guides, flag up some of the best tools for EPP , try out some new wall quilt ideas and make one or two traditional American schoolhouses as I just love them. All these in addition to my usual Scottish-theme- incorporated-into- traditional-American block-pattern mini quilts for the wall.

Till next time….