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Week 1 – Stocking Sew Along

Welcome to the first week of our ‘Night Before Christmas Stocking’ Sew Along. I’m so excited to be hosting my first ever event of this kind.

For an overview of the four week sew along and extra details, please see the orginal blog post HERE. But read on for this week’s focus and about our prize pack too!

Week 1 runs from the 18th until the 24th of November. It’s an easy week, where we make sure we have all our materials ready to go. So we’ll look at supplies and fabric selection. Then you might like to make a start on basting your hexies too.

Sourcing Supplies

The first place to start is to gather your supplies like felt, fabric and English paper piecing tools. Be sure to support your local quilting store if you can. They can offer you wonderful advice with your purchase. Otherwise, look online for stores in your country. I’ll happily share my suppliers, but keep in mind that freight from Australian stores can be expensive and take longer if you’re not based here.

You’ll also need the pattern. We’ll talk about fabric inspiration and more below.

Here’s a photo of some of my favourite EPP (English paper piecing) tools. I’ll explain them below. But if you’re new to English paper piecing and want extra details about the actual process of basting and sewing, see my beginner’s tutorial.

EPP Tools

  1. Precut EPP papers will increase accuracy and improve your finish as they are laser cut. If you’re making your own, light card stock (with a weight of 200gsm) is ideal. Just aim for accurate cutting! I love these ones from Paper Pieces.
  2. Short bladed embroidery scissors are perfect for trimming thread. These are from Amy Kalissa. Use large fabric shears or a rotary cutter and acrylic template for cutting the seam allowance on your fabric before basting hexagons.
  3. A needle minder is terrific to help ensure you’re not losing that fine needle when you put down your work. It’s magnetic. This one was a gift made with a fabric covered button and a magnetic back.
  4. I love to use fine thread when stitching EPP. And using neutral colours means that the stitches are better disguised in the seams. Aurifil 80 weight cotton thread is my thread of choice. This neutral tone blends into the seams well. You can also use 60 weight polyester bobbin thread. It just depends on your personal preference.
  5. Small quilting clips can be used to hold EPP shapes together while you stitch and helps prevent fatigue in your hands.
  6. I love to use a milliner’s needle for EPP. I like a long, narrow shank and a long eye too. These Size 9 needles are perfect.
  7. I love to glue baste my hexies and I explain the process in my beginner’s tutorial. Some people use an ordinary glue stick for glue basting but I get better results from products designed specifically for this purpose. I love this sewline glue pen!
  8. I always have replacement glue cartridges on hand. HOT TIP: If you live in a warm climate like Australia, many sewists keep their pen and replacement cartridges in the fridge!
  9. If you’re stitching for an extended period of time, I find a thimble really useful to avoid injury! I love these leather adhesive thimble pads. I always pop one on my middle finger, where I tend to press alot.
  10. I also use a thread conditioner to help my thread glide through the fabric while I’m stitching EPP. Sharon from Lilabelle Lane has a new product out that you’ll want to try, I am sure.

I hope these suggestions help. Please feel free to ask any questions for clarification.

Fabric Selection and Inspiration

Choosing fabrics for any project can be a fun process but sometimes daunting too! So where do you begin? With thirty-one 1.5″ hexies on the front panel of the stocking, there’s so many opportunities to showcase either an entire fabric collection or fussy cuts of your favourite prints.

For my first Night Before Christmas Stocking I chose to showcase the red and green shades of the latest Tilda Collection, Old Rose. The delicate florals prints were small, there was a range of different patterns and varying colours too. And although they’re not Christmas fabrics, the colours give it a Christmassy feel!

To keep things simple, I used solid fabrics in soft shades for the rest of the stocking. That way the Tilda fabric is doing all the talking, and not the binding and the pocket.

You can’t go wrong making a Christmas project from a Christmas collection either. So I’ve decided to make a stocking for this sew along with the ‘Sweet Christmas‘ range by Urban Chiks for Moda Fabrics. I love the traditional colours! This collection is ideal because there’s a range of colours, patterns, and details. It’s perfect for fussy cutting too (where you feature a small pattern like a flower or a snowman in the centre of a hexagon).

If you prefer the untraditional approach, even using a range of fun and brightly coloured floral fabrics like Liberty could create a very pretty stocking. I think I’m going to make a version in my favourite florals too. Ava and Neve are selling precut fabric hexagons ready for your 1.5″ papers, just for us. Please check them out!

When selecting your own fabrics, here’s some points to consider;

  • Who is the stocking for and what colours, patterns or styles do they like?
  • Will the stocking need to match in with the existing colour palette of your Christmas decor?
  • Does the fabric collection have a range of varying colours?
  • Does the print size vary?
  • Is there a mix of high volume and low volume prints? Are there spots, stripes, checks or geometric patterns to break up the fabric with prints, florals or detailed backgrounds?
  • Are their images or shapes that you can fussy cut to show off their details?

It’s really important to say here that whilst you can take time to consider your fabric selection and look at all the features of the collection, your final fabric pull will be based on what you like the look of. There’s no right or wrong, but I think it’s really important to work with fabrics you love. It’s easy to get excited about a project and stay motivated if you love looking at what you’re creating!

If you like the look of the Tilda Old Rose Fabric, both My Felt Lady and The Fabric Pixie have full stocking kits available in this material.

My Felt Lady is also my felt stockist and Candice has the most amazing range of colours (and glitter and metallic felt too) so it’s worth a look!

When sewing with felt, I prefer 100% merino wool felt. I explain all about it in my Felt Tips blog post.

This Week’s Prize

This Sew Along really isn’t about the prize for me. It’s about building a community and supporting one another. But I also wanted to add a fun element! So if you feel the same way, I’d love you to join me and be in with a chance to win a lovely prize provided by our generous sponsors for each of the four weeks of the sew along. So here are all the details for this week.

Quiet Play is proudly sponsoring our first week by offering a subscription to their Quiet Play Pattern Club 2019 which includes a total of 40 foundation paper pieced patterns, mixing 28 brand new patterns with 12 favourites from the archives. The winner will have access to all the patterns released so far and receive the last patterns sent to their email. Here’s some of the designs. Aren’t they inspiring? Thanks for the generous gift Kristy!

To be eligible to win this prize, I’d love to see a photo of your supplies gathered and ready for stitching. Post the photo on your public instagram account and use the hashtag #NightBeforeChristmasStockingSAL so I can find your entry. Please consider following Quiet Play to show Kristy’s beautiful business some support. In your post or email, tell me about your favourite tools, your fabric selection or who you’re sewing for. I can’t wait to find out. If you’re not on Instagram, never fear. If you would prefer, you can email me your progress too. Use the CONTACT form, or send me a message at hello (at) mollyandmama.com.au. I’ll also be keeping you updated on Facebook, but you won’t be able to enter to win the prize there sorry.

On Monday each week of the Sew Along, I will select one weekly winner and notify you by personal message, or email. If you are the selected winner, your email address will be required to email your prize, or to find out your residential address (to send you a physical prize if that’s offered in your week of entry). By entering via email or Instagram, you are also giving me permission to share your winning photos and your first name on the Molly and Mama social media platforms.

The competition is open to all participants over the age of 18 who submit a photographic entry via Instagram or email. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram or Facebook. I think that covers all the nitty gritty?

EDITED TO ADD: Congratulations to @piwakawakapatch on Instagram for being selected as this week’s winner!

So What Are We Working On This Week?

Each week of the sew along focusses on a different stage in the construction but your weekly entry does not need to reflect the stage that I am at. You might be still gathering supplies, or you may be bounding ahead! There is no requirement each week to finish the stages outlined for the week’s preparation or sewing. We’re all at different stages of competence and we all have varying amounts of time available to us. My hope is that you feel encouraged and supported by sewing along with our community at the same time. Please sew at your own pace.

That being said, this week is a great opportunity to baste your hexagons, ready for stitching. I’ll be sharing my tips for that over on Instagram, so I might see you there later in the week. Stay tuned and thank you for playing along.

Happy stitching, Lauren x

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