quilting

My First Quilt

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.

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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.’

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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!

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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!

quilting

Zippered Quilt Block Pillow Cover Tutorial

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:

Materials:

One 12 ½” x 12 ½” pieced quilt block*

Four 3 ÂĽ” x 12 ½” rectangles for borders

Four 3 ÂĽ” x 3 ÂĽ” 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.

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I sewed the HSTs in a simple six by six layout making a 12 ½” block for the center.

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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 ÂĽ” x 12 ½” rectangle on each side. For the top and bottom borders, I sewed a 3 ÂĽ” square on each end of the two remaining rectangles, then sewed them onto the top and bottom of the block.

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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.

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Ironed on fusible fleece
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Since I used regular quilting cotton fabric for my back piece, I used lightweight interfacing to give it a bit more stiffness and weight.

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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.

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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…

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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).

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Place the zipper facing down and centered onto the pressed open seam. Pin in place.

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Sew in the zipper using a zipper foot.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Trim any remaining threads.  At last, turn pillow cover right side out and insert pillow form. You’re done!

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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.

quilting, Uncategorized

Fireworks Quilt Finish

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.

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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.

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Not to mention the time spent trimming threads off the back before quilting…

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before eight+ hours of trimming…
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after eight+ hours of trimming…

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.

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I hand-sewed the binding, which I do on occasion.

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Here’s the finished quilt…

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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.

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That wraps up my first lap sized quilt finish in 2018. What to do next…?

mini quilts, quilting, tutorials

Scrappy Heart Block Tutorial

In the spirit of upcoming Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make a scrappy heart out of fabric I had on hand; then I took it one step further and decided it would be fun to make a tutorial.

Overall, this block is perfect for the beginner quilter because it’s super easy and quick, but that doesn’t mean an experienced can’t quilter can have fun making it! It makes a great gift or a nice mini for yourself…I hope you give it a try.

To get started, choose your fabric. The pattern requires 2 ½” and 3″ squares for the heart section, also for the heart background, so strips, squares or scraps will work. I chose ten different prints as to have plenty of variety.

Materials needed: Equivalent of one fat quarter of color/print fabric in at least 3” strips or scraps for heart; one fat quarter of background fabric. General sewing/quilting materials such as a ruler, cutting mat, rotary cutter, thread, scissors, pins, iron, sewing machine.

I used fabric left over from a quilt I made myself a few years ago, Riley Blake Designs Just Dreamy 2 by My Mind’s Eye. To this day I absolutely love that quilt because the fabrics are so cute and happy, also making them perfect for this project. And the colors are great for Valentine’s Day! For the background fabric, I chose Kona Cotton White .

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Riley Blake Designs Just Dreamy 2 by My Mind’s Eye

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Use 1/4″ seam allowance throughout
  • Press seams open (not borders)
  • RST = Right Sides Together

Once you’ve chosen your fabric, it’s time to cut.

From printed fabric, cut:

20 – 2 ½” squares

5 – 3″ squares

From background fabric, cut:

5 – 3″ squares

2 – 2 ½” squares

2 – 2 ½” x 4 ½” rectangles

2 – 2 ½” x 12 ½” rectangles (borders)

2 – 2 ½” x 16 ½” rectangles (borders)

Next step, draw a diagonal line on the back of all five 3″ background squares in preparation for making half square triangles (HSTs).

To make HSTs: Place a 3″ background square on a printed 3″ square, RST. Sew ÂĽ” on both sides of the drawn line. Make five.

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Cut on the drawn line. Press. One sewn unit will give you two HSTs, you’ll have ten total. Trim to 2 ½” square. For superior accuracy, I used my Bloc-Loc ruler; however, a regular quilter’s ruler will work fine.

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Time to choose your layout. I spread out my colors fairly evenly, but anything goes!

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Tip: It’s a good idea to take a photo of your block once the layout is decided; it’s a helpful reference tool when sewing the block together.

To make rows, sew squares together keeping in layout order. I usually press seams in opposite directions per row for nesting purposes, but because the squares are rather small, open pressed seams will help reduce bulk. The block will lay flatter having done so.

Keeping your rows in correct order, sew together in pairs, and then sew pairs together. I used a pin at every seam so they’ll line up nicely.

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Results from all that pinning!

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With your block sewn and pressed (measuring 12 ½” square), the next and final step is attaching the borders. Pin one  2 ½” x 12 ½” rectangle to each side of the heart. Sew*, press toward border.

*Tip: When sewing on borders, place them on the underneath side of the block (feed dogs side) to avoid sewing pressed seams in the wrong direction. Also, if your border is a bit longer (as mine was), the feed dogs will help ease in the extra length.

Attach one 2 ½” x 16 ½” rectangle to both the top and bottom of the heart block. Press toward border.

And done!

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Block measures 16 ½” square.

I haven’t decided what I am going to do with mine, there are so many options! I could make it into a pillow, a quilted mini or add others to it and make it into a quilt. Also, be sure to trim all the threads off the back before doing anything; it’s a terrible task but makes all the difference.

Tip: Since I used 5″ squares, I had leftover pieces from cutting the 3″ squares. To reduce waste, I cut them into 1 ½” squares so I could use them in future projects.

Happy Valentine’s Day

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.

baby quilts

Another Checkered Baby Quilt

Recently, a friend of mine asked me to make her a quilt as a gift for her friend who just had a baby boy. I don’t usually make commissioned quilts, but of course, for a friend! The baby’s dad is a huge fan of The Little Prince story so I set out to find themed fabric, and to my surprise, I found a Riley Blake collection.

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After mulling over pattern designs and how to best showcase all the fabrics, we decided on the easy, basic Checkered Baby Quilt. I like to use flannel backing on baby quilts, so we chose a cute star print that blended nicely with the others. And because I am one who certainly can’t turn down striped binding, we settled on the blue, with yellow stars and green stripes.

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Upon the arrival of new fabric, I immediately got to work (more like ‘play’). As in making any quilt, I used some helpful techniques. After pin basting and before any quilting, I ran a long basting stitch across the top edge of the quilt, about an 1/8″ down. This helps to eliminate any pull from quilting and it helps reduce shifting. Also, if the stitches are sewn less than 1/4″ from the edge, you won’t have to remove them before attaching the binding.

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Initially, I did the top only but I ended up adding a basting stitch along both sides because of slight puckering when sewing on the binding. It only took a few minutes and solved the problem.

And lastly, if you have labels, be sure to sew one on the backing before quilting!

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Here are a few photos of the finished quilt. My friend was pleased with the results, and I hope the new mom and dad are too.

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I’d also like to mention that if you’re a beginner quilter or know someone who is, I highly recommend this pattern. Not only is it easy, it’s fun! It’s straight-forward, there are no bias edges, no half square triangles, and no cutting if you use precuts!

Last spring I made a Checkered Baby Quilt as a gift, and at that time I made a tutorial. If you or a friend would like to give it a try, here’s the link to my easy-to-follow tutorial: Checkered Baby Quilt PDF

mini quilts, quilting, Uncategorized

Mini Mania

Doesn’t everyone pretty much love mini quilts? I’m a big fan because they’re cute, they’re not a huge commitment, they go together fast and they’re fun! I enjoy whipping one up in between bigger projects when I feel I need a break.  While I’m not one to hang them all over my sewing room walls, I do like to decorate my door with one at a time; as seasons and holidays change, I change my door decor. Since I’m ready to put up a Valentine’s Day mini, I thought it would be a good time to post ones I’ve made. I’ve given some away but I still have a small collection, and of course I intend to add more.

First up are my circus minis. I released the patterns for these nearly two years ago (my first patterns). They measure roughly a foot square each and for sure would brighten up anyone’s room! Patterns are available here: Monday Morning Designs Patterns

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Circus Lion Mini
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Circus Elephant Mini
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Circus Tent Mini

I blogged about these in my last entry (more information if you scroll to my last post). I made them as gifts, using a Moda Concrete mini charm pack for each.

I also mentioned this mini in my last entry; I kept it for myself because I absolutely love this Riley Blake collection, Floriography.

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I found this free pattern on Instagram and had to make one for myself. It’s available from The Family Hearth, found here: Full Bloom Mini Quilt Pattern. I used my absolute favorite, Art Gallery Fabrics, Etno by Pat Bravo—that’s why I couldn’t part with it!

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Full Bloom Mini Quilt

These butterfly minis were given to my mom as a gift. I made them out of scraps and free motion quilted them, which actually came out pretty decent since it’s not a strong suit of mine! The pattern is by Lella Boutique.

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Social Butterfly Mini Quilt

I mentioned these last time too…

My latest finish is this Friendship Star Mini Quilt, found on Pinterest. I couldn’t get the free pattern to download so I made it by looking at the photo. I am going to donate it to my local guild for the quilt show boutique, hopefully it’ll sell, but since I really like the way it came out I wouldn’t mind keeping it for myself…

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That’s it so far. I’m always looking for something cute and fun so if you’ve got any suggestions, please send them my way!

quilting, Uncategorized

2017 Project Recap

After posting my ‘best nine’ on Instagram, I thought it would be a nice idea to recap all the projects I completed throughout 2017. Since I didn’t start my blog until May, a few have not been posted here.  Along with photos, I am including links to patterns and tutorials in case anyone is interested in making their own.

My first finish of the year was my Boxed Candy Toss Quilt and tutorial. I designed the pattern and made the tutorial for the Moda Bake Shop. I used Me & My Sister Designs Rainy Day! Here’s a link to the free tutorial: Boxed Candy Toss Quilt Tutorial

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Next, I made this heart mini, mostly out of scraps. The fabrics used were Riley Blake, Dear Stella and Moda; all left from quilts I made or fat quarters from a bundle purchased for something else. I wanted a Valentine’s Day themed mini to hang on my sewing room door. I searched and found this tutorial Dear Stella Big Love Tutorial and sized down the piecing dimensions suitable for a mini (the pattern is for a larger size quilt). I love the results! And I was pleasantly surprised when it was featured on Instagram in a collage post #makemodern.

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Early in the year my local guild asked for quilt donations for patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Apparently Quilters Dream Batting donates to my guild and in thanks, several quilts were donated back to them. I donated this one.

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I also made the same quilt pattern, using the same fabrics, for a wedding gift for a niece.

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Fabric is Miss Kate by Bonnie & Camille for Moda. I found the tutorial on Craftsy, link here: Large Granny Square Quilt Tutorial

In March I submitted these Sunrise Clock Mug Rugs to Modern Patchwork magazine. Lucky for me they were accepted and published in the September/October 2017 edition. It was really fun to have one of my projects in a magazine!

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I finished another quilt top (I have yet to quilt it) but since I loved the jewel tones in this Basic Mixology collection, I made this mini out of leftover strips. No tutorial, just improvised as I went along.

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Sometimes I like to take a break from making a quilt, so I throw in a smaller project. I decided I needed a sleeve for my laptop. I found this lovely tutorial from Lella Boutique. Both fun and easy!  Lella Boutique Laptop Love Tutorial

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I made this baby quilt for my husband’s coworker. I used leftover Miss Kate fabric and put white flannel with pink polka dots on the back. I think the mom-to-be was happy with it! I made an easy-to-follow tutorial, especially for beginners; here’s the link: Checkered Baby Quilt Tutorial

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I made two of these star minis for very dear friends of mine. I used Moda’s Rustic Weave mini charm packs for both. The pattern is Summer Star, here’s the link for more pattern information: Summer Star Mini Quilt

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I designed this elephant baby quilt last year, but I didn’t want to release the pattern until I had it tested. Thanks to my testers, Ange and Kathy, it’s now for sale, available for a pdf download: Lovable Elephants Baby Quilt. I used Dear Stella Mini Dot fabrics and made my version suitable for either boy or girl.

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Somewhere on Instagram I saw a this block and just had to make it into a mini for myself. I used fabric from a half layer cake I had purchased way back. The block was hashtagged summersampler17 and it was the June block. I used Floriography by Riley Blake and wow, what a great collection! This was also the first time I ever did a fussy cut, it was pretty fun.

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This Stars & Four Patch quilt was a huge undertaking! When I looked back on 2017 projects, I surprised myself that I started it then, I thought for sure it was a 2016 start. I put it aside for several months, but I knew I’d have to have it longarmed for the best results. When I went to pick it up, I was so thrilled with the quilting—I just love it. The free pattern is available from Moda: Stars & Four Patches Quilt Pattern

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Lastly, another version of my Boxed Candy Toss Quilt. It was about time I made a quilt for my mom and she requested this pattern. I started it in October as a leisure go-to project, but soon decided to finish it for a Christmas gift. I was really happy with how the soft pastels rendered themselves in the design. Fabrics are Collette by Chez Moi for Moda and Kona Cotton Snow for the background. And I actually did the quilting myself! Here’s my free tutorial: Boxed Candy Toss Quilt Tutorial

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All in all, it was a pretty productive year! I finished a lot more than I thought I had. I also have to admit that I didn’t finish everything I started. I have a Belle Prairie quilt top that needs quilted. That’s next up, I won’t allow myself to start another thing until it’s done.  Also, my Fireworks quilt blocks are finished, but not sewn together. I’m not sure who will be quilting that one—me or my longarmer (probably the latter). So that wraps up 2017. On to 2018…