What is the #focuscuttingsewalong?
The 2022 #focuscuttingsewalong is an Instagram based, paper piecing sewalong which focuses on weekly prompts for focus-cutting 60° kites. I know there’s a lot of text on this page but that’s because I’ve wanted to include as much information as possible so that you know all about the sewalong and our 2022 plans. Please do contact me if anything isn’t clear or if you’d like the information in a different format.
What is focus cutting?
I use the term focus cutting instead of fussy cutting That is because I think words have power to elevate and power to downplay. I want the sewalong to be a positive one and one which values what we make. I believe that we are not being fussy, we are being focused. Focus cutting refers to taking a specific motif/pattern on a fabric and cutting it in a way that highlights it as opposed to cutting the fabric ad-hoc. You can read more about focus cutting here.
What is paper piecing?
This is not a new technique and it is sometimes known as mosaic patchwork, english paper piecing or EPP. Again, because I believe words have power, I choose to use the term ‘paper piecing’ rather than english paper piecing. You can read more about paper piecing, as well as explore tutorials, here.
Paper Piecing is a patchwork technique which involves paper templates. You place the paper template onto the back of your fabric and baste the template (either with thread or with glue) so that it is held in place. You then hand-stitch these pieces together. I prefer to use whip stitch but you can use whatever stitch works for you. Once the shape is secured on all sides, you can remove the paper piece and reuse it.
What shape are we using the for the 2022 sewalong?
In 2022, we will be using the 60° kite shape.
Each week, we will focus cut and stitch together 6 individual 60° kite shapes which form a single hexagon medal.
Where can I get the paper pieces and acrylic template for the 2022 sewalong?
There are several places that stock this shape. You can tap the links below to be taken through to the websites that sell the acrylics and paper pieces. Each retailer stocks a variety of sizes so you can buy any size that you’d like to buy.
In the US, Paper Pieces stock both the acrylic template and the paper pieces here.
What size kite should I use?
This is completely up to you! You can use any size you’d like to use.
If you haven’t done paper piecing before then either the 1″ or the 1.5″ kite is a good size to start with. A 1″ kite is a kite where the 2 shorter sides measure 1″. When the 6 kites are sewn together, your overall hexagon block will be a hexagon where each edge measures 2″.
What will the format for the year be?
Every Monday I post a photo on Instagram explaining the instructions for that week’s block. I will do this on a wooden framed blackboard (so you can identify what posts are the instructions posts) which will show that month’s overall theme, that week’s focus cutting style and an example of a focus cut block. Along with the photo, I post written instructions on Instagram explaining that month’s overall theme and further specific details about that week’s focus cutting style. Sometimes, there are specifics for that week’s focus cutting style so it is important to read all of the post and not to make ahead of time. Please don’t post photos of your block before I have posted that week’s instructions. The sewalong is not a competition and posting early makes more people feel that they need to post early too and then there is a snowball effect where we lose the focus of staying in the present, easy-going nature of the sewalong.
I don’t give the themes any earlier than a week in advance. This is because I really want people to use the sewalong as an activity for the present moment and not one that becomes a pressure to prepare for and to make in advance for. The themes always have lots of scope for creativity and you can narrate the theme to make it work for you. That being said, if you’re going away and would like to know the theme in advance so that you can take fabric with you then please do send me a message on Instagram and I can let you know the upcoming theme.
I try to keep to a regular format so that people can know roughly what to expect. I don’t want it to be hard nor do I want to add unexpected surprises as the aim is for the sewalong to be an accessible, consistent, fun and creative activity! So, whilst there will be some variations (such as freestyle weeks), you can roughly expect each month to include the following: identifiable motif, mystery sections and pattern matching.
Generally, there will be a new theme every month. Our first theme of 2022, which will run for January, is the Pantone and/or Kona color/colour of the year. After January, there will be a new theme and you can scroll through some of the posts on my Instagram to see examples of previous themes.
At the end of every month there is a celebratory roundup where I invite people to share their blocks from that month.
What do I do with all of these patchwork blocks?
For the same reason that I don’t give all the themes upfront, I also don’t stipulate what you should do with your blocks! The focus is on the making and the community rather than the end result! So it is completely up to you whether you wish to keep them as blocks in a box or pouch to look at every now and then to remind you of your 2022, to make them into bunting, a quilt, coasters, tote bags, zipped pouches, cushion covers, needlecases, or applique them onto existing projects! The possibilities are plentiful! There are lots of options for layouts and you can join your blocks in any way you’d like to. The sewalong is based on focus cutting the kite medal block each week with different weekly prompts….the joining is up to you! You don’t have to join them either, you can absolutely sew along just for fun with no plan for what to do with the blocks (it is a great way to engage in creative mindfulness by focussing on the present moment and not worrying about the future patchwork plans….)
What does it cost to take part?
It is 100% free for you to take part in the sewalong! It is free because I genuinely feel the #focuscuttingsewalong community on Instagram has developed into something positive and something special. I choose to make sure that there is no charge for taking part in the 2022 sewalong so that it is accessible for EVERYONE to take part in no matter what their financial situation. All I ask for in return is that you are kind to one another, kind to yourself (no slating your work), and kind to me (there may be some themes/instructions you don’t like but I will have tried really hard to make it as open as can be so that it suits as many people as possible!)
What does taking part entail?
- For starters, it doesn’t involve signing your life away – you can join in for 1 week, 12 weeks or all 52 weeks! I want it to be fun and to fit in with you!
- Taking part means bringing your humour, your encouragement and your willingness to invest in you!
- Taking part also involves using the hashtag #focuscuttingsewalong on any posts related to your sewalong journey (this might be fabric shopping, placement advice, joining advice, progress photos and, of course, your blocks) as well as tagging me into your posts with the blocks. Using the hashtag helps people to support and encourage one another. Keep reading for more tips on using Instagram (and the difference between using hashtags # and tagging people with @).
- Please, please remember that there is no date on the hashtag – this is because we will be in our 5th year of running and it is useful to have all of the information (including from previous years) under a single hashtag without a date/year so that people can see the progress of the sewalong.
Interested in joining in?
The 2022 #focuscuttingsewalong officially starts on 10th January 2022 but you can join in at ANY point in the year – you do not have to catch up on previous weeks (although if you want to then you are very welcome to!) If you search the hashtag #fcsa2022naomi on Instagram then it will bring up all of my posts from the 2022 sewalong so you can see the year’s instructions and examples!
Just make sure you’re following me on Instagram .
You can also turn on post notifications so that you’ll be alerted whenever I post about the sewalong (go to my Instagram profile, click the three little dots in the top right of the profile and then click ‘turn on post notifications’).
Top tips for using Instagram:
Instagram can feel a bit overwhelming to begin with as it seems like there is so much to do! A lot of using Instagram can be picked up as you go along. The key parts to Instagram (especially for this sewalong) are:
- Follow the people whose work you like! If you follow me, you’ll be able to see the weekly prompts. If you follow others taking part in the sewalong then you’ll see their posts both sewalong related and non-sewalong related. You can follow people by clicking onto their profile page and clicking the “follow” button. All engagement (liking posts, commenting on posts, sharing posts) make such a positive difference.
- When you upload your photos, make sure you tag people by putting an @ in front of their name. This allows the person to be tagged directly into your post and they’ll get a notification too. If you tag me into your sewalong posts directly, by putting @naomialicec into your post (there’s a ‘c’ after the naomialice which gets missed out a lot – in hindsight I probably shouldn’t have included it but I did!), then it helps me to see what people are making and to comment and cheerlead your creations (which I love to do). It also helps other people to know who to ask questions to as they can directly see who is hosting the sewalong and they can then click on the name to be taken through to their profile. You can also tag the fabric manufacturer, the shop you bought the fabric from, the designer, the paper pieces supplier, the thread company…lots of options and it all helps to support other creatives!
- Hashtags! Hashtags are not directly linked to any one person but people can ‘follow’ a hashtag by searching for it and then clicking the ‘follow’ link. Using the #focuscuttingsewalong means that anyone following the hashtag can see your lovely makes as well as like, comment on and support each other. You can add up to 30 hashtags per post and these help other people find your makes through using hashtags like #patchwork #paperpiecing and #focuscutting. There is no year on our hashtag as it enables all of the progression of the sewalong to be tracked in a single hashtag. Alongside using the #focuscuttingsewalong you could also add your own name or initials as an additional hashtag so that, by the end of 2022, you could see all of your sewalong makes as a single hashtag! So, as an example, I will use #fcsa2022naomi for my own posts so that I can see all of my makes under a single hashtag with my name in.