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Friday, May 31, 2013

How to make a basic patchwork sampler quilt top - Basics and Block 1

To start patchwork you will need some basic tools. There are some well assorted beginner sets like the Omnigrid Rotary Cutting Kit, that you can get online at amazon, but if you don't want or have that option what you will need is:

- A rotary cutter, the standard version is 45mm.
- A self-healing cutting mat
- A patchwork ruler

Additionally you will need a sewing machine or sewing supplies if you prefer to sew by hand and an iron and ironing surface.

The sampler quilt top will measure 70x70cm/28x28in

You will need three different cotton fabrics. You can either choose contrasting fabrics as you see in the picture below.

or you can choose different fabrics from the same colour family as you see in this picture. Just make sure there is enough contrast to see the patchwork.

This is, by the way, the project for our sampler quilt. To make it you will need the following quantities of fabric (112cm/44in):

light blue       25cm / 10in
purple           70cm / 28in
medium blue 35cm / 14in

The sampler quilt consists of four 20cm/8in basic patchwork blocks, 10cm/4in sashing and a 10cm/4in border.

We will first prepare the 4 blocks, then join them with the sashing and finally attach the border.

So let's start:

Block 1 -Trip around the world

Now  this is how it works:

You have three fabrics, fabric 1, 2 and 3, and you will need 9 pieces of fabric1, 8 pieces of fabric 2 and 8 pieces of fabric 3, that will have to be sewn together as shown below in order to finish the block.
Now decide which fabrics will be 1, 2 and 3 and start cutting the squares. Each square should measure 5.2 cm / 2 1/8 inch.
The finished block measures 20cm/8in, there are 5 squares in any row and column and therefore each square measures 4cm/1 5/8 in. Cutting the squares we have to add the seam-allowance to the size of the finished piece as otherwise it won't be the right size after having been sewn in place. Seam-allowance is usually 0,6cm/ 1/4in per side Therefore you must cut 4.0+1.2 =5.2 cm/ 1 5/8 + 1/2 = 2 1/8in.

Instead of cutting single squares it is easier to cut one strip of the correct height and then divide it into single squares. For fabric number 1 you need 9 squares, therefore your strip must measure 5.2cm/ 2 1/8in in height and 9 times that number 46.8cm/ 19 1/8in in length.

To cut place your fabric flat on the cutting mat, iron it if it has creases, and measure the correct dimensions with your ruler. When cutting strips that are longer than your ruler, carefully fold the fabric (with the rotary cutter you can cut through several layers) and clean off the edge where you will be cutting the strip, so that both layers are perfectly equal.

Now place your ruler on the fabric measuring the correct height all the way along the ruler and, holding the ruler firmly in place with one hand, cut along the edge of the ruler with the other.
Pay attention to holding the rotary cutter in a 90° angle to the cutting mat sliding it along the edge of the ruler in order to cut the shape the way you need it to be. Go slowly in the beginning.

Now take your strip and carefully cut it in 9 perfect squares, placing the ruler and cutting carefully.

Very good, you have cut your first 9 squares. Now take fabrics 2 and 3 and cut 8 squares each, following the steps above. Please note that now you will only need 8 squares and therefore your strip should be 1 square shorter and thus only 41,6cm/ 17in.

When you have finished cutting all your squares we can start sewing.

Place all your squares on the table in the way they will be sewn together.

Then start sewing row by row from left to right.
Take the first square of the first row and place it on the table right side up. Then take the second square from the first row and place it on the first square right side down. You may pin them together if you prefer, but as they are rather small pieces they can be sewn without pinning.

Put one side of your double square under the needle of your sewing machine, and sew the two pieces together. I use a 1/4 inch presser foot that helps me measuring the seam-allowance (as you see in the picture, the edge of the fabrics is aligned with the edge of my foot) which makes it rather easy.

I you don't have an adeguate foot the easiest way of measuring the correct distance is to somehow trace it onto your machine. The 1/4 inch might already be marked on your plate as it is in the picture below.

As a marker would be very difficult to get off later, a good way is to place several layers of masking tape along the 1/4 inch line as the tape will not only show you where the edge of your fabric should be, but if you put several layers it will work as a guide.

Now, if your foot is larger than the 1/4 inch, as it is in the picture above, it will get caught on the masking tape. You can try moving your needle all the way to the right and measure 1/4 inch from there, in most cases that will work. If not trace the line with a pencil or just put 1 layer of masking tape. In the picture below, using the same presser foot, the needle has been moved all the way to the right so that there is a little room between the masking tape and the foot.

Now sew the two pieces together, then flip one piece over and iron open. When doing the first row, iron all seam allowances to the right (you will later iron the seam allowances of the second row to the left, the third to the right and keep on alternating, as that will reduce bulk when joining all rows).

Place the newly created patch on the table right side up, first piece on the left and second piece on the right. Then place the third piece right side down onto the second piece.

Sew in place, then flip and iron open with the seam allowance pointing to the right.

Add the fourth and fifth square and thus finish the first row.

Now proceed in the same way with the other 4 rows. Attach one piece at a time, moving from left to right, flip them over and iron them in place, remembering to alternate the direction in which you iron the seamallowance from row to row.

Now we need to join the 5 rows in order to finish the block. Start by attaching the first two rows together. Place the first row right side facing upwards onto the table then place the second row right side down on top of it. Make sure to make the edges between the single squares meet between the two rows and pin together. 

Now sew the two rows together, flip them open and iron. 

Then attach the third row in the same way and put the piece aside.

Take the fourth and fifth row and join them together. Then join the upper three and the lower two rows to finish the block.

The finished block will later be incorporated into the quilt, therefore it should now measure it's finished size plus seam allowance on all sides and thus 21.2cm / 8 1/2in square.
For now we're done. Continue with the tutorial for the 2nd. block.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How to "fussy cut" fabrics

The term "fussy cut" refers to the practice of using a certain part of a fabric print in order to achieve a particular effect instead of cutting from the edge. That can be done in order to achieve a special combination of colours or light and dark as well as to cut a specific picture.

Here are some examples of fussy cut fabrics for different effects:

The sky of this landscape was fussy cut in order to have the effect of the sun shining through the clouds in the center of the picture. And then there is the special effect of the rays of the sun passing through the clouds being continued in the farthest mountain range using the effect of the mottled lavender fabric (the landscape was made based on Susan Brittingham's design during her class "Miniature landscapes"):

In this crazy block the center piece was fussy cut in order to have the fly right in the center of the block:

In this log cabin the cat in the center was fussy cut as a picture:

When fussy cutting you will most probably end up with your fabric full of holes, but the effect may well be worth the while.

Take a look at these fabrics and all the possibilies they offer for fussy cutting:

SKY - this is the sky from the landscape, do you see how you can use it for a brewing storm as well as for sunny morning sky:

 here are the two pieces "fussy cut"

COLOURS: this is a hand-dyed mottled fabric. You can find so many different shades of blueish to reddish violet so that you can use it for lots of different purposes.

 When you look at the pieces "fussy cut", they don't even seem to be come from the same piece of fabric.

PICTURES: This fabric offers several pictures that blend into the pattern when looking at a bigger piece of fabric, but they can be "fussy cut" and used to achieve special effects.

As you see there is a lot you can get out of a fabric if you're willing to sacrifice the remaing scraps.

Have you made a project following this tutorial? Let me know what you think. Did you like it? Was it easy to understand and to follow? Do you have any suggestions?
Write a comment or send me an email using the contact form at the bottom of the page.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

How to make a Posy Doily

This cute doily measures 50cm/20in in diameter and has been made entirely with the sewing machine. I simply do not have the patience to sew by hand. The binding needs some extra diligence, but it can be done.

In order to cut the petals prepare a template in the desired size. Cut the tip off at the line where the inner circle should end. Now cut 6 petals and 6 triangles from the two fabrics adding the seamallowance in the process. (If you do want to download my ready-to-use template from Craftsy you may do so for a small service fee). The template already includes seam allowance all around the shape, but make sure you remember to add the allowance to both fabrics where you cut the tip from the petal).

Now get the sewing machine out and attach the triangles to the petals making sure you attach the correct edge of the triangle to the other piece.

Flip the triangle over and iron.

Prepare the two halfves of the doily by joining three of the petals Make sure the seams between the two fabrics are aligned when joining two petals. Iron the seams all in the same direction for a clean center where all petals meet. .

Join the two halves to finish the top.

Now use the finished posy to cut your batting and backing leaving them a little larger than your quilt-top.

Pin the three layers into a quilt-sandwich and prepare for quilting. I have quilted a simple spiral starting from the center and going all the way to the edge of the quilt using the presser foot and the edge guide.

When done quilting prepare the binding, pin it in place and attach carefully. Keep the binding stretched while attaching it in order to avoid creases and achieve a smooth surface.

So here's the posy doily:

Have you made a project following this tutorial? Let me know what you think. Did you like it? Was it easy to understand and to follow? Do you have any suggestions?
Write a comment or send me an email using the contact form at the bottom of the page.


How to make a cushion insert from your fabric scraps

I have been thinking about what to do with all the fabric scraps left over from quilting and sewing. You can use bigger scraps for small parts in new quilts, but at some point the pieces will be too small to actually be used for sewing. I ended up having three bags for collecting scraps:

1 -  bigger fabric scraps for use in projects
2 -  bigger batting and sandwiched scraps for warm-up sessions before quilting
3 -  scrappy scraps - all other scraps (small fabric pieces, batting pieces and thread - I don't throw  anything away)

And then I finally ccame up with an idea of what to do with the "scrappy scraps". I had made a cushion cover and did not have any insert to puto into it. I needed the cushion to be rerady the following day and shops were closed so I simply sewed a simple cushion and filled it with all those scraps. At first I feared that the cushion might be less comfortable than the commercial variety, but that was not the case.

Getting started:

First you need to establish how big you want your cushion to be.

You will need fabric for the cushion itself, big enough leftovers will be fine, some simple muslin or whatever bargain you got and never used. Consider that inside a dark cushion cover the colour of the insert doesn't matter, but you would not want it to be seen through a light-coloured cover. The inserts you see below have been made from a christmas print I got at a bargain price, but I never used for anything. I turned the fabric left side out so that the print was less visible for use with lighter-coloured cushion covers.

Consider, too, that bright scraps might be visible through a light-coloured thinner fabric, if you don't want that choose a thicker fabric. I personally don't care very much about the looks of the insert as nobody but me will ever see it. What I do care about are the looks and comfort of the finished cushion.

I will be making a 40x40cm / 16x16 in cushion.

The cushion will be sewn closed once it'll be filled so it is not necessary to enclose the edge of the fabrics with a zigzag-stitch, you can simply sew the seams with your sewing machine, but feel free to zigzag the edges after sewing to give them extra support. I will be using a serger as in one step it cleans and encases the edges while sewing.

Place the two sides of the cushion one on top of the other, the sides you want to be the outside of the cushion facing inside and pin together. Sew around the outside of the cushion leaving an opening of about 10cm/4in that will be needed to turn the cushion inside out and fill it.

Remeber to secure the seam by making a few backstitches at the beginning and the end of the seam.

Now you need to turn the cushion inside out.

When you finished the seam the cushion looks like this, with the seam showing and the opening with rough edges:

 The seam is showing all around the cushion:

Now take one corner and push it inwards and then through the opening. Slowly push the whole cushion through, turning into inside out:

On the turned cushion the seams are no longer visible and the edges are a little rounded:

No we need to fill the cushion. Put your scraps inside the cushion and, if they are not enough, add commercial stuffing. Stuff the cushion as desired: if you put too little material in, it will be flat, if you stuff in too much, it will be hard. Test the cushion every now and then and stop stuffing when it's to your liking.

Fluff the cushion in order to uniformely distribute the stuffing. The cushion takes shape:

Now close the opening using a simple backstitch.

That's it, here's your finished cushion insert. Fluff it al little more, until it's filled in all corners and doesn't have any lumps. Now all you need is a nice cover for it to go into.

Have you made a project following this tutorial? Let me know what you think. Did you like it? Was it easy to understand and to follow? Do you have any suggestions?
Write a comment or send me an email using the contact form at the bottom of the page.