Autumn Love Sew Along - Week 1

by Morgan | August 27, 2018

First thing's first: I am completely, 100% new to sewing. Sure, I tried a couple of projects here and there as a kid, but nothing really stuck. I didn't have the proper guidance or my teacher wasn't patient with me, or the techniques were confusing and I didn't want to give it the time it needed. Despite all that, I've always loved the idea of sewing and quilting but it seemed like a skill that was just beyond my reach. Then I started working for Shabby Fabrics.

As the blogger and social media manager, I'm constantly writing about (and learning about) quilting, and I'm always asking questions. I have so many questions about everything. Well, Jen is the type of person who loves teaching new things (you probably love her tutorials on YouTube) and is willing to give me the things I need to succeed. One evening, after another day filled with questions from me, she literally gave me a box with a sewing machine and all the notions I could dream of, and the Learn to Sew Beginner's Quilt Kit, and told me that I was going to learn how to quilt. (I'll document that in a blog series soon.) 

So when Jen saw the Autumn Love Quilt at Quilt Market in Portland, she loved it immediately, and knew that it would be a perfect project for the blog. I was intimidated by it, to say the least, but Jen assured me that I could do it. 

What is a Sew Along? 

A Sew Along is a like a virtual quilting/sewing retreat. It's a fun way to join a group of other makers and do the same project. We get to share our progress, ask questions, share tips, and make new friends. I enjoy the sew along because it helps break a big project like Autumn Love into manageable pieces. Plus, I love being able to learn from other quilters while we're going through the process together. 

How do I join the Sew Along? 

This Sew Along is hosted by Lori Holt on her blog Bee in My Bonnet. The pattern and sewing guide is a free download that you'll want to get from her. If you haven't already gotten your Autumn Love Quilt Kit (or chosen fabrics from your stash) you'll want to do so. You'll definitely want to grab the Sew Simple Shapes even if you're using other fabrics, because they're essential to Lori's method. You can join the sew-along at any time, but Lori posts a new tutorial each Monday, so if you want to keep pace with her, you'll want to watch the tutorial on Monday and work on your block(s) throughout the week.

Jen's Autumn Love Sew Along Video

Week 1 - The Finished Block

Here we are, now, with Week 1 of the Lori Holt Autumn Love Sew Along. And I"m still alive, my block is done, and I think it looks pretty cute! 

I'm really proud of this block, everyone! It took a lot of time, but I learned a lot and I was able to do it all by myself.  Lori's blog and videos have been so helpful, and it's been an extra bonus to have Jen's advice, tips, and tricks to learn from while I'm doing this. So, I've got a few things I learned while putting this together that may be helpful to you if you're following along with Lori. Her videos and blog posts are great, but I thought I'd share how things went for me and anything extra I needed help with or clarity on. Hopefully you'll be able to see that this is totally doable, even for a beginner! (If I can do it, anyone can do it!) 

Some Things I Struggled With

Making the bias tape.

I used a Clover 1/4" Bias Tape Maker. When I cut the bias tape to 5/8" like Lori's instructions say, I got a weird crease in my fabric and it was hard to actually feed through the bias tape maker. I changed the cut to 1/2" and it worked perfectly and didn't give me that crease, so if you're struggling, that might work for you.  You can see in the photo the bottom 2 strips have the crease down the middle (those were my 5/8" strips) and the top 2 do not (those were my 1/2" strips). 

Laying out my pieces

I drew a 10x10 square on my background fabric with my black Frixion Pen so I could lay out my pieces more accurately. To find the center of my block, I folded the fabric (horizontally)  in half and finger pressed it, and then folded it in half again (vertically) and finger pressed it. That center line is the one I used to measure out 5-1/4" to the edge. 

Some things that I liked/went well 

The Sew Simple Shapes 

Using the Sew Simple Shapes was really easy and fun. The shapes are so cute, and durable. I used my black Frixion Pen to trace around the shapes on my fusible and then pinned them to my fabric. In future blocks, I think I'm going to have my kids help me with this part. They'll have a good time with it! ;) 

Sewing Around the Shapes

Though the concept seemed simple to me, the execution was a little difficult, especially on the smaller shapes, but after I got a few pointers from Jen it went well and I actually really liked it. 

Jen told me to use a needle down position when I'm sewing, so I'm able to see where that fabric is going to hit instead of guessing. The first few shapes I did a lot of sewing, ripping out stitches (because I was so far off the line) and trying again. The needle down position helped me a lot. It was also helpful for Jen to tell me that it was okay to sew, lift the presser foot, and (with needle down) pivot my fabric to help me stay on the line. When I did that, I was better able to hit curves properly, and was helpful on shapes that had a hard angle. 

I also used Lori's method of sewing into the stitch from the side (see the photo below, on the right-hand side). It was nice to kind of get into the sewing, land on the line, stop, pivot, and continue on my line. Much easier than guessing where my needle was going to land (I'm new, remember?!) and I didn't have to backstitch to secure the stitches, because I just finished my line with a couple of extra stitches where I started. 


Laying My Pieces out on Lori Holt's Design Board

The design board was extremely helpful for laying out my pieces (and keeping track of them). I just placed them on the board when they were completed and pinned them in place. Then, when all the shapes were done and I was satisfied with the layout of the block, I used Roxanne's Glue Baste It to hold the pieces in place until I could hand stitch them. 

Here's a photo of some of my pieces on the design board (you can easily make these yourself with cardboard, batting, and some binding. This is a 12" x 12" board. 

On to Week 2! 

I'm looking forward to next week's block, which will be the Wagon Block! Lori posts her tutorials every Monday, and I'll share my experience with it each Friday.  See you next week! Let me know how your blocks are going! And share any tips with me! :) I'll take all the help I can get!