British Sew a Row, Week 2: Conversation starter

It's week 2 of the British Sew a Row and for the next two weeks we are going to be focusing on whipping up some Conversation Starter blocks.

Before we get going, I'll just share the rest of the schedule with you all:

16th May, 'Raining Cats & Dogs' by Nicola of Cake Stand Quilts

30th May, Conversation Starter by me, Lou Orth Designs

13th June, 'Royal Row' by Yasmeen by Sand and Stars

27th June, 'Afternoon Tea' by Jo of The Crafty Nomad

11th July, 'London, Baby' by Sonia of Fabric and Flower

A British themed quilt wouldn't be complete without our cherished red friends, the post and telephone boxes that are a feature of our streets.

The beginnings of the post box date back to the 1852 in the Channel Islands and began appearing on the mainland the following year.

There are various types of post box in the UK, with my design focusing on the most recognisable, red 'pillar box' style box.

On a trip around the UK, you may notice some gold post boxes. To commemorate British gold medal winners at the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, post boxes in the home towns of the medal winners plus one each on Sark and the Isle of Man, were repainted gold.

I would love to see some different coloured post boxes during this sew a long.

I may have to seek out some gold coloured fabric and make a gold post box cushion!


If you want to delve deeper into the history of our iconic post boxes, there is a great website full of information, run by the Letter Box Study Group, which you can find here!

The British telephone box first began to appear on British streets in the late 19th Century.

Due to technology, the use of the telephone box is declining. British Telecom, who own the boxes, are allowing communities to take over surplus boxes and transform them into something that benefits the community. Many are being turned into mini libraries, defibrillator posts and information posts.

Some have been given a totally new lease of life and have become pubs, nightclubs, art galleries and coffee shops, so feel free to add a little flair to your phone box block!

Both my blocks are constructed using FPP. This allows us to get the detail into those blocks and sew with small pieces of fabric.

You can sew up your row as shown on the pattern of 3 telephone boxes and 2 post boxes, sew a whole row of post boxes, or 4 telephone boxes with one post box in the middle.

It's totally up to you to make it yours!


My top tips for FPP!

*Don't forget to reduce your stitch length!

Setting your stitch length to around 1.5 will help hold those stitches in place, especially when it comes to pulling out that paper at the end. It will also add extra perforation to the paper, making it easier to remove.

*Use thin paper or specialist paper.

Thin or specialist paper is easy to see through and provides less resistance when it comes to pulling out the papers at the end.

I have a blog post all about the Foundation Paper by Pattertrace. You can read that by clicking on the picture below.

A review of FPP Paper


*When you are just about to stitch, double check that the fabric is still in the right place under the template, make sure nothing is folded back or caught.

The downside with FPP is that if you make a mistake, ripping those tiny stitches is no fun!

*make sure to press between steps. I prefer a dry iron to press my fabric. It keeps the seams nice and flat, which is essential for getting a professional finish for the completed block.

*Take your time and have fun!

I cannot wait to see all the amazing Conversation Starter rows you are going to make. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch.

If you haven't already, do come and join our Sew a Row Facebook page. its the perfect place to share your makes, ask questions and meet other quilters!



If you are new to FPP, you can join my FPP Masterclass where I will guide you through everything you need to know to become an FPP pro!


FPP Masterclass


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