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  • Nicola

British Sew-a-Row: Conversation Starter

We've reached the end of week four of the British Sew-a-row and I thought I'd share my progress so far. Firstly, let me remind you of our summer sewing schedule:

16th May - Raining Cats and Dogs - Machine Piecing and Dresden Blocks

30th May - Conversation Starter with Lou Orth - Foundation Paper Piecing

13th June - Royal Row with Yasmeen K Branton - Needle turn hand applique

27th June - Afternoon Tea with Jo Westfoot - Foundation Paper Piecing

11th July - London, Baby! with Sonia Spence - Raw edge applique, curves and FPP

My completed Raining Cats & Dogs row from Weeks 1 & 2

Over the past fortnight we've been making Lou's Conversation Starter row, featuring those icons of the British High Street, red telephone kiosks and post boxes.

Conversation Starter

Lou's row is paper-pieced and I haven't used that technique for quite some time, so I was interested to see how much I remembered (and a wee bit nervous). Lou shared some great tips on her blog and recommended Patterntrace foundation paper which is slightly translucent. As the fabric is underneath the paper as you sew, it was really useful to be able to see where it was as I positioned my pieces.

Someone in our lovely Facebook group suggested using glue instead of pins, so I also bought a Sewline glue pen to hold the tinier pieces in place and actually ended up using it throughout my block. It provides a temporary hold - it isn't as strong as the Roxanne Glue Baste-It I use for applique - so I used it instead of pins for the longer seams too and was still able to 'unglue' my seams and press them open when I needed to.

I was able to chain piece the window sections of the telephone boxes and the repetition really helped me to get comfortable with the technique. Note those tiny stitches: I used a 1.5 stitch length on my Janome, which will help when I've sewn my rows together and can tear away the paper.

First block!

Paper-piecing allows you to use really tiny pieces - like those glazing bars - and add lots of detail, like the adorable fluttering letters on the post box block: my favourite detail from Lou's row.

I decided to make one of my telephone kiosks blue as a gentle nod to Doctor Who's Tardis and I'm going to wait until I've finished all of my rows before I assemble this one so that I can balance out that blue kiosk.

I'd love to know how you're getting on with your rows. You can leave a comment, below, tag your blocks #britishsewarow on Instagram or come and join the British Sew-a-Row Facebook group. My thanks to Lou for her fab pattern! Next week we're joining Yasmeen to make the Royal Row and explore the gentle art of applique.

I hope you'll join us,

Nicola xx


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