The month of May always brings out patriotism here in the US, with Memorial Day kicking off the summer season then Flag Day and the Fourth of July not too far behind. Right now I have two quilts in the making, a Christmas gift and a new pattern of mine, and I could use a break from larger projects so I set out to find something patriotic that I could finish quickly using left over fabrics.
I usually don’t sew with blue (I don’t know why, I just don’t seem to choose it) but since I made my Americana Stars & Four Patches quilt last year, I had enough blue fabric for something small. Same with red, I don’t use it a lot, but I had some on hand from previous projects plus I got a small fat quarter bundle freebie with some lovely reds included. 🙂
After quite a bit of searching, I decided on a free flag tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew. While she made a lovely pillow, I wanted something for my sewing room door so I added a light blue border and made mine a mini quilt.
For the star and stripes, I used a white low volume fabric with handwriting that reminded me of old-fashioned handwritten letters and historic signatures; I thought it was fitting for a flag. It’s kind of difficult to see it unless it’s close up…
Before I began quilting, I did some ‘thread painting’—my quilting tip that consists of laying out thread on a project to help decide on a quilting pattern. To read more about it, click here. I do tend to gravitate toward crosshatch quilting, especially on rectangular blocks because the end results are diamonds, and I love the look! So yes, I went with crosshatch quilting, yet again.
When basting a mini quilt, I always use my flower straight pins instead of actual quilting pins. Reasons being: they’re easier to put in and take out, they’re nice and sharp and long, and they seem flatter than other pins.
I used my guide for quilting accuracy and it gave me very precise results!
I was happy to have had enough red and white striped fabric for this project, left over from a Christmas tree skirt. And of course, striped binding is always a favorite.
And speaking of binding…how lucky was I to get this tiny stripe to align when I finished off my binding? Absolutely pure luck! Doubt that ever happens again. 🙂
For the back, I had this very appropriate fabric from my Stars & Four Patches quilt. As far as backing goes, it’s easy to match up prints, especially on a small project. I have more information on this topic on my Matching Fabric Patterns blog post.
And…here’s the finished project!
I love everything about this mini—it’s cute, a great size for my sewing room door and I can get it out to enjoy several times a year. Lastly, it was a small but significant scrap buster!
It seems as though a lot of quilters plan out their projects; I see plenty of Instagram posts with lovely planners available for purchase along with planner images of scrawled notes and ideas. While I’m an organized person to a fault, I just couldn’t see myself planning out my quilts. I’m not exactly sure why, I suppose it’s because I just like to wing it from time to time. Enter my Scrappy Nine Patch quilt.
A while back I had been thinking about making something scrappy, mainly because I rarely do and I was tired of looking at fabric left over from so many past projects. One day while working on something else, I completely switched gears and began pulling fabric and putting together scraps in color combinations. Now I know why scrappy projects are so much fun; you don’t need an exact plan (other than a pattern), anything goes and nothing is considered wrong.
I set to work making a variety of nine patches—if a fabric looked good, it went in. It’s funny how I still can remember what projects I used those fabrics for, what collection they’re from, why I bought them, etc. I guess that’s why scrappy quilts are also called ‘memory quilts.’
Here are a few of my block groups.
Had a little fun putting this together…
Upon completion, I was surprised that I ended up using 144 different fabrics! I wouldn’t have guessed I even had that much variety in my stash at the time. In all, I made 48 blocks, added sashing, and ended up with a throw quilt measuring roughly 49″ W x 57″ L. And it definitely helped with my stash down.
I’ve since gifted this quilt, but because it was so fun to make I’m thinking about making another one, with an entirely different selection of fabrics, of course. And I won’t be planning it either! 🙂
Since I’ve made a lot of pillows lately, I thought it would be a good time to show my work on a blog post. I’ve also included a couple of others I made a few years ago.
Starting with my oldest projects first…the next two sets of pillows date back to when I dug out my Kenmore sewing machine in 2012 and started sewing (then consequently, quilting) as a hobby. These two are some of the the first ones I ever made, and they’re still a favorite.
If you read my ‘About’ section, you may recall I was given a store-bought comforter quilt with lovely Laura Ashley fabrics that consisted of a variety of colors and textures, which I slowly and surely took apart, and yes, with a seam ripper.
This ensemble was made from the backing. I followed a tutorial for the foam seat, and as you can see I got really adventurous and made bias binding! I do get this out and toss it on the floor occasionally, so it still gets some use.
Out of all that fabric, those four pillows and the seat cushion is all I have left, and I still have yards and yards of that funky ribbon! The panels in the quilt were about 12″ square, pretty large for a quilt but pretty small for pillows.
This one was made with repurposed half square triangles I had used in a Moda Bake Shop project submission. They were perfectly fine and there was no sense in them sitting in a drawer, so I reused them.
I made it ‘reversible’ so it looks good no matter what side is facing out. I did the same thing with a few others. Sometimes I turn them around just for new look.
The next one is a Dutch Rose block pattern I found in McCall’s online library of 150+ quilt block patterns. All free and a great resource! Here’s the link: The Quilting Company.
Personally, I think this is the prettiest block I’ve ever made. I left it on my design wall for a month just so I could look at it. 🙂
And here it is in pillow form on my bed. Still love it.
The front consists of a mix of Moda fabrics; the yellow is Benartex from a bright collection called Transformation by Sarah Vedeler Designs. As always, I used Kona Cotton for my background, this is Kona Cotton Snow. I put a lovely Art Gallery fabric by Amy Sinibaldi on the back. Such soft and gorgeous colors!
The next two are pillow covers I made for my mom, also with printed fabric on the back. I used mostly leftover fabric from the quilt I made for her this past Christmas. Hope she likes them!
Overall, these zippered pillow covers are fairly easy to make and the quilt block possibilities are endless. If you’d like to create some for yourself, here’s the link to my Zippered Quilt Block Pillow Cover Tutorial.
I’m sure you noticed that none of these quilt block pillows are quilted. I opted not to quilt them because I love the look of fresh, crisp fronts. Sure, quilting is an option, I just wanted to mix things up a bit.
That pretty much wraps up my current pillow collection. I’m in the process of making a queen size Hunter’s Star quilt for my daughter and I plan to make a few throw pillows to go along it. Oh, and of course I have other ideas in the works, so eventually there’ll be a Pillowpalooza II!
One thing that’s for sure is I’m all about recycling and reusing, and I especially enjoy repurposing. With the help of my husband, I turned an ugly unused piece of plywood into a cute, portable lightweight ironing board.
After watching videos of quilters using wooden boards transformed into actual ironing boards, I knew I needed one. I really liked the idea of something lightweight and easy to move around, and it was time to say goodbye to my metal tabletop ironing board (via donation).
So, I did some research and made my own. Here’s how you can make one, too, and here’s what you’ll need:
*A board of your chosen size (plywood recommended)
This DIY = 13 ½” W x 24″ L piece of plywood (reused from irrigation pump packaging)
*Two pieces of cotton batting
*Cotton fabric for board cover
*Aluminum Foil – Enough to cover top with approximately 1″ wrap around back.
*Wood Glue – To glue down aluminum foil edges on back.
*Staple Gun / Staples – To attach batting and fabric.
This DIY = Heavy Duty Staple Gun and 3/8″/10mm staples (a less powerful one would also do fine).
Additional materials: scissors, measuring tape, toothpick, sewing machine and general sewing supplies.
Once supplies are ready, there are just six easy steps from start to finish!
Cut both pieces of batting:
Cut ONE approximately 1″ larger than your board, on all sides.
This DIY = 15 ½” W x 26″ L
Cut ONE approximately 1 ½” larger than your board, on all sides.
This DIY = 16 ½” W x 27″ L
Place the smaller one on top of the larger one (it will be against top of board). When it’s folded around the board, edges will be hidden under the larger one.
Cut approximately 3″ larger than your board, on all sides. NOTE: Subtract 1″ for selvage edge, if included in the cut fabric.
This DIY = 18 ½” W x 29″ L (fabric included selvage edge)
Press a ½” hem along all edges, sew a straight stitch.
Tip: Save time—skip hemming salvage edge, if included.
Cover your board with aluminum foil (like wrapping a present). I used a toothpick to apply the wood glue under the folded edge on the back side. Gluing down the foil really helps keep it in place.
A side note about the foil…I was skeptical if this actually helped to protect the wood, as I had covered this board a while back (this is a redo). Fast-forward a year and a half until now, when I removed the cover and batting. The fabric and batting were water-stained and scorched, but the board was untouched! It definitely works, so I don’t recommend skipping this step. 🙂
Staple on the batting once the glue has dried. Start by pulling in at the point of the corner (helps reduce bulk), staple once. Trim off point. Fold in the sides, staple down each side. You can see what lovely corners you get! Repeat for each corner.
Continue along stapling down the sides, wrapping the batting nice and snug, but not too tight. Once my batting was attached, I chose to trim it back so the fabric would completely cover it when stapled on.
Lastly, center your fabric over the board. Using the same method as above, wrap and staple the fabric onto the board.
As an option, you can apply felt pads to the four corners. I put them on mine as it gives the board a bit of a lift and helps it set even on your table.
I love this DIY project because it puts an unused item to good use, and it uses materials most people have on hand. As for me, I was happy to use adorable stash fabric that I wouldn’t have used otherwise.
I also discovered that my board doubles for measuring. It’s 24″ long so if I need a quick estimate on how much fabric I’m working with; I can use it as a general guide. You might want to keep that in mind when choosing your size!
Enjoy your portable ironing board and kudos to you if you salvaged an unused board and raided your stash!
Recently, a friend asked me about my first quilt, and wow, that brought back a lot of memories! Even though it wasn’t all that long ago when I made it, a lot has changed since then. Our discussion made me think it might be fun to write a blog post about my first quilt and show some photos. Fun…and maybe embarrassing too, but I figured, why not.
If you’ve read my ‘About’ section, you’re familiar with how quilting became part of my life. In a nutshell, nearly four years ago I was making box bags for my daughter’s knitting projects, and one tutorial in particular made reference to ‘getting out your quilter’s ruler.’ After figuring out what a quilter’s ruler actually was, I thought I’d try my hand at making a quilt. It certainly seemed like something I’d enjoy as a hobby. Like most quilters, after one I was hooked, and I haven’t stopped since.
So here it is. My first quilt.
In all honesty, it really didn’t come out too bad!
Since I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I chose a pattern from a Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorial, (I love those, btw) called The Snowballed Pinwheel Quilt. If you’re new to quilting, I do not recommend this for a beginner (it’s definitely for the more advanced quilter). 🙂 I’d love to make this quilt again now that I know what to expect. Nonetheless, back then I was excited and ready to go. I didn’t even know enough to consider whether this was a beginner-friendly pattern or not.
Like all new quilters, I set out to JoAnn Fabrics and bought a small fat quarter bundle and more background, backing and binding fabric than needed. After all my measuring and cutting, it was time for actual sewing. I should mention here at that time, I had a Kenmore (circa 1979) sewing machine. It’s a great workhorse of a sewing machine, but again, from the late 70’s…so there’s no 1/4″ foot, ability to drop feed dogs or anything else ‘quilty’ about it. I’m not sure exactly what I did for my quarter inch accuracy, but if my memory serves me correctly, I put down painter’s tape as a guide.
All seemed to go well until it was time to sew my pieces together. Since I was pretty clueless regarding trimming blocks, I do remember a few tears and plenty of frustration when trying to line up everything, but hey, that didn’t stop me and eventually I got it together!
By the time I had the top pieced, I had purchased a small Brother Project Runway sewing machine. At that time I was eager to perfect my free motion quilting (no longer an aspiration of mine) so I lowered my feed dogs and tried out ‘meandering’. I remember having some fun with that, but shortly thereafter I had lost interest in perfecting FMQ, I simply did not want to practice to get good at it, and I’m more of a ‘piecer’ than a ‘quilter.’
So here she is in all her glory! I chose to make something small, it measures approximately 31″ x 31″ square.
Another MSQC tutorial instructed me on how to get nicely mitered corners with binding!
OK, so overall, not too terrible for a newbie. I haven’t gotten this out of my storage chest in forever; it was kind of fun taking a look at it again. Certainly far from perfect but it does hold a bit of sentimentality for me, I doubt I ever get rid of it.
About a year ago I replaced my Brother machine with a Janome Skyline S7. Oh wow, do I love that machine. I gave my Brother to my daughter and my Kenmore is boxed up and stored in the garage. I wish I had a photo to show, it’s a pretty neat machine and definitely has that vintage vibe!
So that’s my trip down memory lane…oh so many quilts ago!
Looking for a fun and decorative way to showcase your orphan blocks? Make a zippered pillow cover! It’s quick and easy enough for beginners, and it’s a great way to use some of those set aside blocks. If you’d like something new, visit McCall’s online library of over 150 free quilt block patterns.
For a different look, I wanted my pillow front just pieced, not quilted. I also wanted to be able to change the cover for different seasons or holidays, so I added a zipper. And I made it reversible. We put lovely fabrics on the back of quilts, why not on a pillow? I used a fat quarter from the Acreage collection by Moda, it added just the right touch of color.
This tutorial is based on applying fusible fleece to the non-quilted pieced front. I knew that inserting and/or removing the pillow form would make a mess of the raw edges so I adhered fusible fleece to seal the seams and give it a smooth, crisp look. Quilting your block is certainly an option and if chosen, you can use either the batting of your choice or the fusible fleece.
Here’s what you’ll need:
One 12 ½” x 12 ½” pieced quilt block*
Four 3 ¼” x 12 ½” rectangles for borders
Four 3 ¼” x 3 ¼” squares for border corners
-OR- One 18″ x 18″ pieced quilt block (eliminating borders/corners)
One 18″ x 18″ fabric square for backing
One 18″ x 18″ square of Pellon 987F Fusible Fleece
One 18″ x 18″ square of Pellon PLF36 Fusible Interfacing/Ultra Lightweight -OR- Pellon 906F Fusible Sheerweight
One 14″ coordinating color zipper
One 18″ x 18″ pillow form insert
* If using a block size other than 12 ½” square, adjust your border measurements accordingly. The front and back pieces measure the same size as the pillow insert so it will fit nice and snug.
Other materials needed: General sewing/quilting materials such as a ruler, cutting mat, rotary cutter, thread, scissors, pins, iron, sewing machine, zipper foot.
To make the front, I used 36 – 2 ½” half square triangles from the lovely Riley Blake collection, Floriography. I removed most of these HSTs from test blocks for reuse.
I sewed the HSTs in a simple six by six layout making a 12 ½” block for the center.
Tip: If you don’t use a marking system like illustrated here, it’s a good idea to take a photo once the layout is decided; it’s a helpful reference when sewing.
To reach the 18″ needed for the pillow front, I sewed one 3 ¼” x 12 ½” rectangle on each side. For the top and bottom borders, I sewed a 3 ¼” square on each end of the two remaining rectangles, then sewed them onto the top and bottom of the block.
NOTE: If you are new to quilting and need instruction on making half square triangles and/or instructions on block construction, check out my Scrappy Heart Block Tutorial for general guidelines.
Before adhering the fusible fleece, trim threads off the back so nothing will show through the front.
Following the Pellon 987F Fusible Fleece instructions, iron the 18″ square onto the back of your pillow front.
Since I used regular quilting cotton fabric for my back piece, I used lightweight interfacing to give it a bit more stiffness and weight.
NOTE: You always have the option of using your choice of interfacing, or none at all. The same goes for the fusible fleece weight on the front, you can go loftier or with less loft.
Next step, sewing in the zipper. If you’re feeling intimidated by this, don’t! It’s really easy to do.
First, place your pillow front and back pieces right sides together. Make sure to note the direction of your fabrics.
Center the zipper on top of the bottom edge of the pillow. Place a pin to mark each end of the zipper. These will be guidelines on how to sew the bottom.
Set the zipper aside. Using a ½” seam allowance and a standard stitch length, sew from the edge to the pin. Once you get to the pin, take a few backstitches.
At the pin, set your sewing machine to the widest stitch possible (mine was 5). Long basting stitches are used because they’ll be removed later.
Sew with a basting stitch until you get to the next pin. At the pin, reset your machine to a standard stitch length. Sew, taking a few backstitches again, to the end. Your sewn pillow bottom should look like this…
Press seam open. It’s best to use a towel over the seam so you don’t get residue on your iron (like I did).
Place the zipper facing down and centered onto the pressed open seam. Pin in place.
Sew in the zipper using a zipper foot.
If you’re new to sewing in a zipper, here are a few helpful tips:
Leave the zipper completely closed.
Start sewing at the end with the bottom stop (make sure to backstitch).
Sew until you are a few inches away from the zipper pull, stop with the needle down.
Gently unzip the zipper until it clears your foot (place the point of your seam ripper into the zipper head then use it to help slide the head out of the way). Resume sewing.
Sew until you reach the top zipper stops, backstitch.
Repeat on the opposite side.
Make sure the zipper pull is sticking up/out when sewing down second side.
Once the zipper is sewn in, gently remove your basting stitches with your seam ripper.
Once stitches are removed and threads are cleaned up (a lint roller and tweezers help), test the zipper—it should work perfectly! To reinforce the zipper, you can sew vertical stitches at both ends.
Time to sew the pillow cover closed. First, unzip the zipper at least half way. Keeping right sides together, pin the remaining three sides. With a regular foot and a standard stitch length, sew around the edges using a ½” seam allowance. To reinforce your corners, backstitch about a ½” away from each edge.
Almost there! Trim the corners so they’ll look nice and sharp when the pillow cover is right side out. You may need to use a blunt pointed object to help push out corners once turned.
Also, it’s worth the few extra minutes to run a zig-zag stitch around the edges to keep them from fraying, or of course if you have a serger, it’s a great time to use it.
Trim any remaining threads. At last, turn pillow cover right side out and insert pillow form. You’re done!
Note: I am not endorsed by any products I have mentioned or photographed in this post; they are just items I like, use and wanted to share information on.
Finally, my Fireworks quilt is done! Last year I saw one posted on Instagram and I knew I had to make one for myself. As usual, I like to use my stash and my Moda Rustic Weave fat quarters came to mind immediately. I bought this bundle two years ago for my Circus Trio patterns. It’s bright and colorful with a woven pattern that gives it texture, just a bit more than a solid.
Another neat thing about this collection is the light and dark coordinating colors that allowed me to make light colored blocks with dark centers and vice versa. It isn’t widely available anymore, but I did find enough online for the binding.
The quilt pattern (by Thimble Blossoms) wasn’t difficult, there’s just a lot of precision involved. The blocks go together pretty fast despite the fact it took me several months from start to finish. I guess it was all the Christmas sewing in between, given I started this quilt last August.
Sometimes I think of the whole quilt making process and the time involved—going from just fabric, to cutting, to sewing, to a completed quilt. I posted this photo on Instagram after a few hours of cutting fabric.
Not to mention the time spent trimming threads off the back before quilting…
What a difference and well worth the effort!
Because of the white front, I chose mellow backing. This fabric is Tic Tac Go by Sarah J. Maxwell for Studio 37 Marcus Fabrics. It has some of the same colors as the front, and I love how it’s so fun.
I hand-sewed the binding, which I do on occasion.
Here’s the finished quilt…
It’s definitely bold and bright!
It measures 68″ square. I opted for professional long arm quilting with up and down loops to compliment all the angles.
That wraps up my first lap sized quilt finish in 2018. What to do next…?