Needle, Paper, Scissors…and zippers, oh my!

October’s Island Batik Ambassador challenge was to create a project, any size (thankfully) using either foundation or English Paper Piecing with the fabrics provided by Island Batik in our Ambassador boxes. Did someone say challenge?  Admittedly, paper piecing or foundation piecing is very challenging for me – somehow it is confusing with all that flipping and sewing and trying to cover up seams or making sure your fabric covers the area it’s supposed to, so I thought I’d try my hand at English Paper Piecing! 

English Paper Piecing Project

Fabric and pattern – all set!

Last year at the Houston Fall Quilt Market I visited with my friend Helen Stubbings, of Hugs ‘N Kisses and happened to go home with a shop sample of her work. What a perfect project for my October challenge! How hard can a six-inch hand project be? Surely I can whip that up really fast!!

Hum….so I pulled my fabrics and proceeded to open the package. And that was when I noticed just how many pieces there were and how little! 

It does help to have good tools in the quilter’s toolbox! Last year my friend, Gail Heller, (and fellow Certified Instructor with Studio 180 Design) of ErieQuiltArt in Canada, gifted me with several quilting notions (after our experience with Harvey) and among the items were the best scissors, Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Scissors – and indeed they were perfect for this project.

cutting out English paper pieces
Tiny is faster, right?

As I read through the instructions I discovered that Helen’s paper templates are iron on and stay in – so I decided I needed my Applique Pressing Sheet to protect my iron and I used my Quilter’s Magic Wand to assure I had a quarter inch seam allowance added to the papers.

Time to pull out the tools – did I mention the templetes were TINY!!??!!!


Making progress, all parts and pieces are successfully ironed – time to cut again

It just made sense to glue down the edges and press the edges with my stiletto pressing tool. I felt like I was getting ready to start sewing! I’d watched enough friends at guild sew-ins to have a foggy notion on what I was supposed to do next…

More tools of the trade

A Little Help From An Expert

There’s nothing like a little help from a friend, but when your friend lives on another continent (Helen’s an Aussie) what are you to do! Online classes of course! Craftsy to the rescue! Helen actually has two classes, the “quick and easy” one and a more advanced class (that I will save for a future purchase).

I do think I might have figured out the process on my own by just her pattern instructions but I can tell you that I learned so much by watching on my iPad while hand-sewing. Did I mention that this was hand sewn!!! Oh my goodness, it took much longer than I thought. An enjoyable process but I truly thought I could whip this little project out during my Sunday afternoon sewing…

I felt like Helen was saying “good job Karen, you’ve got this!”


The NEXT afternoon I was almost finished!

I realize that some of my stitches were a tad big and that my “neutral” thread would have been better if it had all been matching thread, but for a first timer, I thought I did pretty good. All the while I stitched I watched my online tutorial and learned so much. I even learned I could have done this by machine! Helen gave excellent instructions on both hand and machine piecing. As I watched I became more appreciative of the special stay in iron-on papers. I would not have wanted to pull out these little papers when complete! Helen also taught me how to hand applique and again, I’m pretty pleased with the result for a newbie.

Presenting my very first English Paper Piecing! Pattern and design by Helen Stubbings of Hugs ‘N Kisses, fabric provided by Island Batik, hand stitching done by The Quilt Rambler (me!)


So Where Does The Zipper Come In?!!?

If you know me, you know I love to say “but wait, there’s more!”  I liked my project but….it was just a little thing, even though it meets the requirements for the challenge…hum…last year when the ambassadors were challenged to do paper piecing I turned my little project into a composition notebook cover – hum…why not cover a binder this year? Why not indeed! I need another challenge!

I was inspired by my Vera Bradly Bible Cover and figuring that I needed to cover the binder holding my 2019 The Quilter’s Planner (it comes as a loose leaf option this year!)….well…the rest, as they say, is history – or at least history in the making!

More tools of the trade!


Against my true nature as a rambler, and since this post needs to be finished before the month is over, I will spare you the Calamity Jane stories of the past two days between my simple Sunday hand sewing to my finished project completed only hours ago. Of course, if it wasn’t for these types of stories I’d be at a loss of things to post on social media while doing my “secret sewing” – I mean, what’s a deadline without the interruption of a sewing machine going down, and how many of you have to stop and sanitize the floor after your son’s cat (who lives next door and enjoys my doggie door) decides to bring you a gift – a dead squirrel!!!  Yep…just a day in the life of a rambler too focused to be distracted! (And if you aren’t following me on Instagram or Facebook you don’t know what you are missing!)

Zippered Binder Cover Featuring English Paper Piecing

Vera Bradly, I’m not, nor Annie of By Annie’s Patterns – but I do believe that I will enjoy carrying my planner in my new Quilted Binder holder this upcoming 2019. And no, I’m not going into mass production (1) it took Sunday to Wednesday to make this and (2) I’m afraid of more squirrels in the studio, I mean, what if it had been a catch and release!! I don’t have time to make more planners as I have other things to ramble about! (grin)

Quilted Binder Cover (front) by The Quilt Rambler


Back View – The Quilt Rambler original Quilted Binder Cover


Quilted Binder Cover Zipper View by The Quilt Rambler (gotta love By Annie zippers!)


Inside the Quilted Binder Cover by The Quilt Rambler – ready for 2019!

Don’t forget to visit the other Island Batik Ambassadors, you can find the links to each of us here.   And guess what! Tomorrow starts a new month and a new challenge! Many of my associates are chomping at the bit to post their November project and I dare say you’ll see some new and exciting posts starting tomorrow!

In addition, stay tuned for a special post on Monday from little ole me with a fun Island Batik and Deb Tucker blog hop – you can read about it here.

This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, enjoying the challenges and joy of being an Island Batik Ambassador!

PS, Of course, I need to share that little Reagan, only 11 days old, says “make no bones about it, I’m not scared of no ghosts”

Reagan’s first Halloween – photo credit Eric Overton (proud Daddy O)
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9 thoughts on “Needle, Paper, Scissors…and zippers, oh my!

  1. Roseanne says:

    Hi Karen! I haven’t done EPP or any paper piecing for years. Next year, it’s on my list! Watch out – HAHA. Aww, little Reagan looks sooo sweet and so very little in her first Halloween costume. Isn’t this just the best?! I found you on IG and have been seeing more sweet pictures. Thank you for sending me the info. Happy Thursday to you! ~smile~ Roseanne

  2. Brenda says:

    Love your EPP (still haven’t tried it!) and your binder cover. I REALLY like your binder cover! You should do a tutorial on how you made that! hint-hint!!

    I’m glad your “present” was not a catch and release. One spring day our cat gifted us as well – with one of satan’s little hand puppets!!! Once I screamed at the top of my voice and my DH came running, we poked it with the broom and when it didn’t move, he picked it up by it’s tail and was on his way out to the woods to throw it away when it suddenly came to life!! I’ve never seen a flying snake until that day – and I hope I NEVER see another one!! LOL Thanks for sharing! And thanks for that sweet picture of Reagan at the end! Adorable!

  3. Susan Smith says:

    Love the binder cover, Karen! I enjoy handwork (sometimes). I need to try EPP. Your friend and #1 customer 10 years ago this weekend!!! WOW how time flies!!! Susan 😉

  4. Emily says:

    Those pieces really are tiny! The end results look great, though! It’s a great pattern. And I love it as a binder cover! Even better that it’s the cover to the Quilter’s Planner!

  5. Pingback: Looking back - Island Batik Ambassador 2018, so far - The Quilt Rambler

  6. Pingback: I've Got A Planner and I'm Not Afraid To Use It! - The Quilt Rambler

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