Sunday, 17 February 2019

Quilt Stamps


Thank you very much to all who linked up to the January Furtling post - I had planned to pop on a few days later to write this post but then my router died and I've had to wait for a new one to be delivered.

In my last post, I mentioned that I got a set of quilt stamps for Christmas and had a few enquiries about them so I thought I'd write a post explaining all about them and where to find them.

I first saw these stamps on Instagram, on Annie's Patch Pix feed in August (she got hers at Festival of Quilts) and had quite a few chats to her about them while I dithered about which set to start off with and which ink pad(s) to buy.  In the end, I decided to get the large Le Moyne Star set because that included a 2" (finished) square and that was the size/shape I thought I'd get most use out of in the initial months - I have plans to sit and stamp my way through my scrap boxes, making postage stamp/nine patch/double nine patch/Irish Chain blocks as well as room in my sewing room (it's a little room with a lot in it). I also bought the small acrylic block to attach the stamps to - the description for each set tells you which size you will need.

Let me first talk about buying the stamps.  If you are in the UK, you need to go to to buy the stamps.  If you are in Canada or the USA, you need to go to  Currently, there doesn't seem to be a way for an individual to buy direct if they're in the EU but not in the UK (you can use the .com site for wholesale orders) or anywhere else in the world, but I think some shops are starting to stock them and you can always see if a friend will have them sent to them and then forward them to you. I found the Rinske Stevens staff very helpful when I used their contact page to make an enquiry, so that might also be a way forward if you don't live in the UK/USA/Canada.  They're also on Instagram and have featured on Hochanda, so maybe that might work for non-UK EU folks?

I didn't buy the ink recommended on their site, but bought Versacraft fabric ink pads from HandPrinted instead because I'm awkward like that! I bought the white one first but soon realised I needed a second colour and couldn't decide so bought the three which I thought would be most useful and have already used them all.

Versacraft fabric ink pads in (clockwise from top left) Sand, Ash Rose, White, Cool Grey.
The stamps are stored between two plastic sheets in the packaging they come in and you simply peel off the stamp you want and stick it to the acrylic block - no glue or faff involved!  When you've finished with it, wash it (I just run it under a cold tap, but you can use soap if you wish), peel it off and put it back in the packaging once it's dry. It's really easy to swap from one stamp to the next, but I can see that additional acrylic blocks could be useful if you're doing a lot of stamping with several blocks to, say, prep a complex block or several blocks.  As it is, I'm only using the 2" square at the moment.

2" square block on the small acrylic block, ready for use.

I tend to work a lot on my lap rather than at a table (I find sitting at a table very tiring and really can't do it for long without symptoms flaring), so I use a table mat as a sturdy but light surface to work on when I'm stamping.  (Which explains the background in the photo above!)

I realised after ordering the stamp set (Mam found the website confusing as each set doesn't have a separate page so I couldn't just email her the link - in the end, I ordered it myself and had it posted to her house so that she knew the right one was ordered) that it would be perfect for my LV scrappy trip quilt - I had intended to machine piece the quilt (it was supposed to be a quick make *chuckles*  I started the cutting in January 2017.  Quick! *laughs so much it goes silent*)

...where was I?  Oh, yes!  I had intended to machine piece the top so all the 2.5" squares (well over a thousand of them) had been rotary cut and I just couldn't face drawing on all the sewing lines so I could hand piece it, but neither could I sit at the machine for long enough to even make one block a week.  Then it struck me that I could use the 2" square stamp to stamp on the sewing lines and actually get the piecing started.  Hooray!  This is my set up for stamping (usually on my knee, but in this case on a piece of white card so I didn't have to crop out my knees):

Ink pad, stamp, coaster (purpose will become clear) on a table mat.
 Of course, because I'm stamping pre-cut fabric, rather than stamping a bigger piece of fabric and then cutting along the (stamped) cutting lines, I can't stamp in the usual wrong-side-of-the-fabric-facing-up-and-press-the-stamp-onto-it method because I can't see the edges of the fabric clearly enough to line everything up.  Instead, I ink up the stamp and place it ink up on the mat:

I've found that one light press on the ink pad on one half of the square and then the same on the other (it doesn't quite fit on the ink pad) is sufficient to stamp two pieces, but it's all personal taste and practice.

Then I place the fabric square right side up on the stamp, making sure I can feel the ridged edges of the dotted lines on the edges of the fabric:

Place the coaster over the top and give it a quick, firm squash with the flat of my hand.

Then, I remove the coaster and peel off the fabric and check that the dotted cutting lines can be seen either on the edge or close to the edge on all four sides of the square.  As I am hand piecing, I will be matching up the sewing lines, not the raw edges or the dotted lines, so that smidge of fabric round the edge will remain there.  (Unless, as in the case of the medium and dark solid aqua fabrics, they will shadow through - those get trimmed to the cutting line before being pieced.)

As you can see, it is a very fine line, but is visible enough to see in artificial light.  I found the white ink to be fine in daylight, but as soon as that faded or it failed to arrive (it is, after all Britain in the winter) and I had to rely on artificial light, I had problems seeing it on the very light fabrics.

It does slightly show through to the front, but no more than a pencil line does, which is what I've been using for years.  And once they're pieced together, that line falls in the ditch and can no longer be seen:

Sewn ink lines are in the ditch and can't be seen, in contrast to the unsewn lines which can still be seen at the top and bottom of the pieces.

Sometimes, I don't always get the fabric lined up quite right on the stamp (usually once or twice for each block - a fail rate of one or two out of forty-nine isn't too bad, I don't think!) and this is where the other colours come in handy.  I wish I could say that I did this deliberately to create a teaching point but...

The sewing line is too light on the left-hand side (which could be worked around as I could just sew with the adjoining piece uppermost) and is too close to the edge because the cutting line can't be seen at all.  (You may be wondering why, on a 2.5" square, there is any leeway at all in the placement of the stamp.  It's because the measurement between the sewing line and the cutting line is a scant quarter inch, so the whole stamp (from cutting line to cutting line) actually measures around 2 7/16ths. This is because, as I've said before, hand piecing lines up the sewing lines, not the cutting lines/raw edges and so the unfinished size of the piece doesn't matter as long as there's a decent seam allowance along all the edges.)

Getting back to my point, if I re-stamped this with the same colour, I wouldn't know which line was which without measuring, but, if I re-stamp with a different colour, I'll immediately be able to tell which one to follow and which to ignore.  I ink the stamp with a different colour and then follow the same procedure as before, but with a bit of extra care when feeling the ridges round the edges and this is the result:

The grey ink (or more white ink on the stamp) would probably have been a better choice, in hindsight, but this is fine for me.
As the lines are so close together, I don't need to worry about the first line showing through on the front, which is another reason to be slightly mean with the ink rather than slightly too generous.

I hope this has helped answer your questions, but please let me know if you have any more queries and I'll do my best to help - I'll also answer them in the comments as well as by email, so that they're visible to everyone reading this post and the comments.

Mini Archie and his chums are very, very busy (I've barely seen them!) on a top-secret mission to escort a VIP to his new home, but found time to pop home for a group photo and to berate me for not finishing loads of things while the internet was down:

I finked you'd have doned thiiiiiis much work while you wasn't distracted by the internet but you hasn't.  I is verrry disappointed in you, BC. 

Thanks for popping in!  

P.S.  (Don't forget that there'll be another Furtling link up at the end of the month - if you want to start writing your post, the code for the Furtling button is always available on the Furtling page - shout if you need a hand getting it into your blog post!)

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Mini Archie's January Furtle Around The Blogosphere

Archie The Wonder Dog

Hello!  And welcome to the very first furtle! I've added a Furtling page to my permanent pages but here's a brief explanation:

Back in the day (gosh, I sound old!), Lynne at Lily's Quilts had a monthly link up (called Fresh Sewing Day) where people shared sewing which had made them happy or which they wanted advice on, or just a round up of all they had done that month.  I loved those posts and connecting with quilters round the world and made lots of friends through them.  As happens, times change and many blogs became neglected in favour of Instagram.  I managed to blog fairly regularly until 2015/16 and I've really missed it.  I decided that having a monthly link up like the old days would help me get back into blogging regularly (well, once a month at least!) so I asked Lynne if I could revive FSD or do something similar and she said generously said yes. With the help of a group of friends (which we named The Furtlers after a comment from one of us) who've been talking about reviving their blogs/have recently started a blog/never neglected theirs in the first place and so are a shining example to us all, I've set up this monthly link up and hope that it helps us rediscover the enjoyment of blogging and the slower pace of life on a blog rather than the often frantic pace which Instagram brings.  (That's not to say that I don't love Instagram, I do, it's just that I find myself longing for a deeper look into a project and to read the story behind it and I think a blog is the best place to do that.)

Please add a link (one per person, please) to your blog post, which could contain: a mosaic of all you've made in January, something you've made/started/worked on, a goal which you'd like to achieve in February (and then in February's post you can reflect on that goal and set yourself another one - I find this particularly handy if I'm in the midst of a big project and finding the making of hundreds of blocks to be interminable), anything crafty you'd like to share.  This isn't just for sewing or quilting, but is for all crafts so if you knit, make lace, make clothes, do anything which could come under the heading of 'craft', then please link up.

If you link up, please visit the link immediately before and after you and leave an encouraging comment - we all know that comments create joy, so let's spread some around. Also, please treat all the linked posts and their authors with respect - I want this to be an inclusive space for all crafters and crafts and all are welcome.  If you're not sure if you're welcome or you belong, you do - this is by no means a closed space and if you want to join, then you are most welcome. If you need help linking up, please leave a comment and I will do my best to help.

To link up, go to the link at the bottom of this page and click on 'link up' (it's a blue button) and then add your link (website URL), a title (this could be your blog name but could also be something interesting to draw people to it (keep it clean!) if you prefer), and your email.  This last one doesn't appear on the link (I will have access to it - I won't use it unless there's a problem and I need to contact you) so don't worry that you're about to share your email address with the world (or the handful of people who find this link), you're not! The link will remain open until 11pm (GMT) on 4th February; if you're seeing this post after this date, I'm afraid you can't link up to the January Furtle, but can link next month if you like.

This month, I have finally started piecing my aqua/low volume scrappy trip blocks.  I've had this project prepped for months (years, possibly) but have never seemed to have the time to sit at the machine and get started.  For Christmas, I requested a set of quilt stamps (find them here) and chose one which had a 2" square so that I could stamp my pieces (they're already cut as I was going to machine piece) and hand piece them instead. So far, I love the stamps (well, stamp - I've only used the 2" square) and it's a lot easier than my usual way of prepping.  Of course, they're no good if you want to create your own blocks made of non-standard pieces, but there are many sets and for the projects I want to hand piece using standard pieces, they're ideal.  I have a fancy to work my way through my scrap boxes stamping 2" squares to make some postage stamp rainbow blocks. At some point...

Here's my first block:

And the back (if you look closely, you can just see some of the stamped lines - for this one I mainly used the white ink pad, but struggled to see the lines at night so have swapped to the sand ink pad for the second block, which I'll hopefully show next month):

Needless to say, Mini Archie is keeping a close eye on progress (which, while slow, is faster than no progress at all!):
Get back to your sewing, missy!

Thanks for popping in!

Inlinkz Link Party

Hazel missed the link up by a few hours, but here's the link to her post: - it would be lovely if some of you could visit her! Thank you!

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Coming Soon...

Hello!  I hope you're well and are keeping your spirits up if you live in the northern hemisphere and haven't seen sun in what feels like years. If you live in the southern hemisphere, I hope you haven't melted...

I have a plan for a revival and renaming of an old blog favourite (of mine, at least), so come back on Thursday (31st) to see what's happening...

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