Quilt as you Go Basics

Have you tried Quilt as You go yet? I have to admit that it is one of my favorite time-saving techniques. Quilt-as-you-go allows you to piece your quilt and quilt it at the same time!

Quilt as you go basics

I’m using Fairfield’s awesome Fusi-boo Bamboo batting for today’s quilt as you go demonstration – though you could use other batting, this batting is uniquely suited to the quilt as you go technique. Check out all the details in the video!

 

English Paper Pieced Quilt Block

 

Have you tried English Paper Piecing? EPP is a method for hand-stitching together fabric with a paper template to keep its shape. Most English Paper Piecing you see nowadays uses hexagons (or hexies), but triangles and squares are popular shapes as well.

If you’ve done some English Paper Piecing, you might be wondering what to do with your piece once you have it all stitched together. A great option is to turn it into a quilt block for a larger quilt. I made this block as part of a charity quilt, so it will be combined with lots of other blocks to make one amazing quilt! I’ll show you how I did it.

Start with your EPP piece. You want to measure it to make sure that it is larger than the unfinished size of your block.

block ready for trimming

 

Lightly spray with spray starch or Best Press.

spray with starch

Iron flat. Since you starched the front, be sure to iron from the back – this is the easiest way to not burn the starch!

When it is as dry as possible, it still may be slightly damp to the touch.

still damp to touch

Carefully remove any remaining papers from the back of the block.

taking out papers

Press again.

pressing again

Start trimming up your block. Take as little off as possible, you can always cut it smaller later.

trimming block

Cut all four sides. My block was to be 8″ finished in the quilt, so I made it 8.5″ (to accommodate seam allowances).

back of trimmed block

Be VERY careful with your cut block. Where the seams are cut, it is very weak. Add stay-stitching at about 1/8″ to support the block. This will be inside the seam allowance, and not visible on the final quilt.

stay stitching block

Your block is ready! Make some more if you like, and stitch them together with some fun sashing for a great quilt!

Pieced Heart Pillow

Pieced heart pillow tutorial

I love decorating for Valentine’s Day. After taking down the Christmas decor, the house feels a little stark. It feels good for a little while – everything has been cleaned up and put away. But after a couple weeks I start to get antsy for some cheery colors and fun decor. Which makes these Valentine’s Day pillows perfect.

I actually made three different kinds of pillows. I’ll be sharing the others with you later in February.

pillows for Valentine's Day

To make the pieced heart pillow fronts, you need (enough for both pillows):
6 fat quarters of patterned fabric (my fabrics are all from “Scrumptious” by Bonnie and Camille for Moda)
1 fat quarter of background fabric (I used Kona Snow)

If you want to finish the pillows you need 1.5 yards backing fabric (that’s enough for both pillows), and about 4″ of velcro. You’ll also need a 20×20″ pillow form for each pillow.

I started by cutting my fabric. For each pillow you need:
From the patterned fabric:
70 – 2″ squares (assorted)
4 – 3″ squares of the same fabric (for cornerstones)

From the background fabric:
4 – 2 x 2″ squares
4 – 3.5 x 2″ strips
3 – 5 x 2″ strips
2 – 6.5 x 2″ strips
2 – 8 x 2″ strips

Lay out all the pieces. I like to lay them out on a piece of batting. The batting helps keep them in place a little bit, so a toddler running by is less likely to destroy my work. I put the pieces in a random order to get a very scrappy look.

lay out pieces

R1: 3.5″ background, 2 squares, 5″ background, 2 squares, 3.5″ background
R2: background square, 4 squares, background square, 4 squares, background square
R3: 11 squares
R4: 11 squares
R5: 11 squares
R6: background square, 9 squares, background square
R7: 3.5″ background, 7 squares, 3.5″ background
R8: 5″ background, 5 squares, 5″ background
R9: 6.5″ background, 3 squares, 6.5″ background
R10: 8″ background, 1 squares, 8″ background

I like to strip piece, so to mark my rows as I’m piecing, I use different colored pins.

mark rows when piecing

Here are all the rows pieced:

pieced into rows

I press the seams in alternate directions on the back. One row to the left, the next to the right, the next to the left… this reduces the bulk and also makes the points match up easier.

iron seams different ways

To finish the top, I measured the top and bottom, took the average of the two, and cut 3″ wide border pieces this length. I then measured the sides, took the average, cut 3″ wide border pieces this length. I added the 3″ squares to the side pieces, added the top and bottom borders, pressed, and then added the side borders. Top complete.

pieced pillow front

Quilting the pillow gives it more depth, and helps keep all that stitching in place. I layered a piece of muslin, batting, and my pillow top, and spray basted (we can have the discussion of pin basting vs. thread basting vs spray basting, but spray basting is just so much faster, so I often go with just spray basting things).

layer to quilt

You can quilt your pillow however you like. I did stitch-in-the-ditch around the border, and around the heart. Then I did a cross-hatch in the heart.

pieced heart pillows

To finish the back of the pillow, I measured my finished pillow, and cut 2 backing pieces. Each piece was the height of the pillow by 1/2 the width + 4″.

I folded the long end over 1″, then folded it over again and pressed. I selected a fun decorative stitch (no particular reason… just why not?), and stitched it down. I did the same with the other side. I added velcro to the center of each. Then I connected them using the velcro, put the whole thing right-sides-together with my pillow top, stitched all the way around, clipped, and turned right side out. There are lots of ways you can finish a pillow. This is called the “envelope” method, and I find it is one of the easiest.

back of pillow

I do like adding about 2″ of velcro to the center. Otherwise the middle tends to balloon out. Much prettier with everything all tucked in.

velcro closure

A New Way to Clip Your Corners

Clipping corners using the seagull method

For years, I’ve been bothered by clipping my corners when making projects. Making bags, pillows, whatever, the instructions call for clipping the corners before turning.

The reason you clip the corners is to reduce bulk. If you don’t trim away the extra seam allowance before  turning, you’ll end up with a lot of bulk in the corners, which makes for unattractive corners.

However, when you clip right across the corner, you weaken the seam. After all, part of the job of the seam allowance is to lend support to the seam so that your stitches don’t pull right through the fabric. And cutting away all that seam allowance (leaving just a thread or two to carry the load) has never sat well with me. Especially since the corners of pillows and bags tend to take a beating – so that’s exactly where you would want strength.

I don’t want to start advocating that everyone stop clipping their corners, resulting in a bunch of bulky, unattractive edges. That isn’t a great solution either. So, I’ve come up with a new way to clip corners, I call it “The Seagull Method”. Pretty arrogant, right? Stitchers have been clipping corners the same way for centuries, and here I come along with a new-fangled way to clip. Well, read on, and feel free to tell me in the comments if you think this is stitching genius or sewing blasphemy.

So (or should I say “sew”…), the Seagull Method. Why call it that? Because instead of cutting off triangles, the pieces clipped off the corners look like little seagulls. You know, the little v-shaps seagulls look like when they’re flying way up high? Which is a great way to remember exactly what the method is.

To demonstrate, I stitched a plastic bag to two pieces of fabric, and clipped the corners.

clipped corner in two different ways

On the left is the traditional way of clipping a corner. At an angle all the way across.

On the right is the Seagull Method. I start about an inch from the corner and taper in, getting about 3-4 threads away from the corner, and then do the same on the other side. Clipping off a little seagull-shaped bit. This takes away more bulk, and spreads the removal over a larger area, keeping as much strength as possible in the seam.

But the real magic comes when the seams are turned.

clipped corner - traditional method

When we turn a traditionally clipped seam, we see this on the inside. The two cut edges but up against each other, and the corner lies flat thanks to the removal of the bulk.

Here is what a corner clipped using the seagull method looks like:

A clipped corner using the seagull method

The bulk is removed in the entire corner, making it very easy to insert a corner-turning tool to poke the corner out. There is a small increase in the bulk right in the corner (since we left 3-4 threads instead of only one), but the entire corner has been strengthened.

This corner-trimming method works on all kinds of projects, helping to reduce the bulk without completely weakening the seam. In any case where I don’t plan to top-stitch along the corner, I think the Seagull Method results in a stronger seam. However, if I plan to topstitch along the corner, as you can see from the images, the traditional method leaves more fabric in the corner seam. This additional fabric will help to strengthen the corner when it is topstitched, making traditional clipping better.

two different clipped corners

What are your thoughts? Will you be clipping corners differently from now on? Or will it at least cross your mind every time you pick up your scissors and get ready to weaken a seam?

DIY Hoodie with Rapture from Art Gallery Fabrics

Rapture Zippered Hoodie

I was one of the lucky bloggers who was sent a fat quarter bundle of Pat Bravo’s newest line, Rapture. This is such a fun line, and everyone I know who has seen it has fallen for the fabrics in it. I love that it has a great variety of larger prints and smaller prints, making it a great choice for almost any project. Which is where I ran into a problem…. what to make? Of course I could put together a quilt using Rapture, but while I wanted to be able to wrap myself up in the fabric, I wasn’t up for making another quilt in 2013. So I found a great compromise – a zippered DIY hoodie using Rapture from AGF. I spend most of the winter in jeans and a hoodie, so this way I can wrap myself in the fabrics all day long – and still get my errands done!

My inspiration came from the appliqued sweaters quilters of the ’80s and ’90s made… but an updated version. I wanted my DIY hoodie to be a modern take on those sweaters.

If you want to make your own quilted hoodie, here is what you need:

Fabric (I used FQs of Rapture by Art Gallery)
Zippered Hoodie
Freezer Paper
Fusible Fleece
Pen
Basic Sewing tools, such as a Seam Ripper, Pins, Iron, Sewing Machine

I started by prepping the sweater. This meant using a seam ripper and scissors to carefully remove the front pockets. Then I ironed a large sheet of freezer paper to one of the front panels of the sweater, then used a pen to mark the outline, making a template. I turned the hood wrong-side-out, and made a template of the hood shape as well.

I prepped the fabric by selecting the fat quarters I wanted to use. I cut a variety of different sized strips, including a wide strip of one of the larger patterns. I stitched the strips together to make what looked like a striped piece of fabric.

I ironed the templates onto the fabric. The large front panel was ironed onto the right side of the pieced fabric, and the hood was ironed onto the wrong side of my chosen fabric.

patterns made for quilting hoodie

I trimmed around the outside of each piece, adding a seam allowance as I cut.

I stitched the hood on first. I cut two of the hood pieces, one in reverse of the other. I put the two pieces right sides together, and stitched around the curve (the back seam of the hood), then pulled off the freezer paper. Then I cut the curve and pressed the seam open.

stitch and clip curves

I pinned the hood piece to the inside of the hood.

Pin fabric in the hoodie lining

All the raw edges were turned over and pinned under.

I stitched the fabric on all the way around, then stitched down the center seam (through the sweater and fabric), to make sure the hood would stay in place even after washing.

stitched hoodie lining

On to the body piece! I put it on the sweater, and using my fingernail put a slight crease along the seam lines. I was then able to take the piece to the ironing board, and easily press the raw edges over.

mark edge with fingernail

I pinned the piece in place all the way around.

Pin panel in place

After stitching the body piece in place all the way around, I quilted it down. I did a “stitch in the ditch” on each seam, stitching down each seam where two fabrics meet. On the large strip, I stitched around the motif to secure the large piece in place.

panel stitched in place

top stitch in place

Next was the pockets. I put the pockets I had taken off in place, to gauge the size. I knew I wanted to add larger pockets, so I cut rectangles the size I wanted the pockets. I then cut a second set of rectangles for the inside of the pockets. Using a pen, I drew a curve for the pocket opening, and trimmed the fabric along this curve.

check pocket placement

Two layers of woven cotton don’t provide a whole lot of warmth on a windy day, so I put a layer of fusible fleece on the lining piece of each pocket.

To make the pockets, I put the outside and inside pocket pieces right sides together, then stitched all the way around, leaving a hole for turning. I clipped the corners to reduce bulk.

stitch around pocket and trim corners

After turning, I added two lines of topstitching around the curve to give it a finished look. I also quilted down around the flowers, just like I did on the body of the sweater.

top stitch pocket

I pinned each pocket in place, then topstitched them down, making sure to go back and forth at the beginning and end to secure the stitches.

Rapture Fabric on a Zippered Hoodie

For fun, I trimmed off a piece of the selvedge from the fabric, and top stitched it onto the label.

selvedge on the tag

Once it was done, I ran it through the wash. The washer and dryer softened the fusible fleece so that the pockets were perfect instead of stiff, and the fabric washed beautifully.

My friend Gina from Mom’s Lifeboat was over, so she took some photos of me in my new sweater.

Zippered Hoodie with Rapture Fabric

We also discovered that I have no future as a fashion model. I can’t say that I’m that broken up over it.

I have no future as a model

Zippered Rapture Hoodie

We did manage a few decent photos.

Sweater with Rapture Fabric

I’ve already worn my new DIY hoodie out and about, and gotten tons of compliments on it! I think this is a great way to have some fun with beautiful lines of fabric – ones that are worth living in.

Sweet Tea Picnic Made Easy (and Nine-Patch Napkins)

Sweet Tea Picnic

Recently, I was invited by Davidson’s Organics and Missouri Star Quilt Company to create a picnic. I couldn’t refuse. I’ve become something of a homebody, and anything to get me out of the house is a good thing! Plus, my son loves picnics. I kept this picnic simple, easy, and most of all, fun. They sent me sweet tea and fat-eighths of fabric to play with, in exchange for sharing my experience with all of you.

I packed up a picnic basket so that my son and I could spend the afternoon at the park.

pack up the picnic basket

I kept it simple. Mason jars with ice tea spoons, some snacks, honey for sweetening up my tea, my nine-patch napkins (more on those in a bit), and a juice box… because most 5 year olds aren’t big tea drinkers. Oh… and those big mason jars? Those are my secret weapon for packing an easy picnic.

One large mason jar is filled with ice. The other is filled with hot water and tea. The tea takes 5-7 minutes to brew. Which is about how long it takes to walk to the park from my house. So, while the water is boiling, I pack up the rest of the basket. Once the water is hot, I pour it into the mason jar, add my tea bags, pop on the lid, wrap a towel around the jar, and off we head to the park!

brew sweet tea on the go

By the time we get there, my tea is brewed, and I can pour the ice and tea into the smaller mason jars for drinking! Super easy. And while I sip my tea, my kiddo can do lots of this:

slide at the park

This made for a perfect fall afternoon with my kiddo. He’s growing up so fast!

With the fat eighths of fabric sent to me as part of my picnic package, I whipped up some nine-patch napkins. These are easy to make. Not quite as easy as the tea… but pretty simple.

I started with my fabric and 4 linen/cotton napkins.

nine patch napkin supplies

I cut the fabric into strips, 2.5″ wide, then stitched the strips into sets of 3. I pressed the seams so that half of the sets had the seams facing out, and half had the seams facing in.

two sets of strips

Then I sub-cut these into 2.5″ strips.

cut strip sets

I piled up the sets. The row on the right has the seams pointing out, and the row on the left has the seams pointing in.

I paired up strip sets to make four pairs, each using one strip from the right row, and one from the left row. Because the seams were pressed in opposite directions, they nest into each other perfectly, making for perfect intersections where the seams all meet.

I then added another strip to one side of each pair, making nine-patches.

pink the edges

Instead of leaving the edges raw, or trying to turn them under, I used pinking shears to trim the edges. This will keep them from fraying, and I really like the look of a pinked edge.

I pinned each square to one corner of a napkin.

pin squares in place

Then I stitched each square in place.

stitch down nine patch

It was that easy! We’ve got this picnic basket as a wedding gift, and until now I’ve always used paper napkins. I’m so glad I now have a set of nice picnic napkins to go in my picnic basket!

quilted napkins

Thanks again to Davidson’s Organics and Missouri Star Quilt Company for letting me join in on the fun!

Roots and Wings Quilt using Art Gallery Fabrics

When the wonderful folks at Art Gallery Fabrics asked me if I’d like to play with some fat quarters of one of their new lines, I got giddy. Seriously, playing with fabric always makes me a little giddy, but playing with brand new fabric that magically arrives in my mailbox is cause for extra excitement.

AGF has several new lines coming out, but I love the new “Legacy” line by Angela Walters. First, because I love Angela Walters’s work. She is an amazing long arm quilter, and I’m always in awe of her incredible work with the negative space that modern quilters love to leave in quilts. But also I loved the colors and designs in this fabric. Many modern fabrics have very bright colors. I love bright colors. I really do. But sometimes fabric that feels a little more neutral fits the bill. This fabric reminds me of blue jeans and work shirts. There isn’t a single plaid or rivet, but it has that homey, comfortable look to it. Like Saturdays. If you don’t understand what I mean, check out the fabric in person, I think it’ll start to make sense.

Front room Roots and Wings quilt

I took my AGF fat quarters to my local quilt shop to find a good solid to go with them. I ended up with this great burlap-brown color. Brown isn’t a very modern color, but burlap is very “in” with crafters, and since I’m kind-of a crossover crafter/quilter, this seemed like a fun choice.

Getting to play with fabrics also meant pulling out techniques that I have been wanting to play with. I have had my EZ Dresden ruler for some time, and haven’t had an excuse to play with it. I used it to make a modern, slightly wonky twist on Dresden blocks to use in this quilt, which I call “Roots and Wings.”

Roots and Wings Quilt with Legacy fabric by Art Gallery

I love the name of this line, “Legacy”, which Angela so named because of her Grandfather. As I was working on this quilt, I thought a lot about my boys. My oldest just started Kindergarten, and on a recent Facebook post about my son growing up, a friend reminded me that as a mom, it is my job to give my son roots and wings. I hope you can see the roots and wings in this quilt.

This quilt is fully double-sided, I pieced Legacy into the back as well. I was careful with the placement of the piecing, and let my long-armer know my intent… so the quilting on the curves of the front shows up in these giant stacked-coin pieces on the back.

back of roots and wings quilt

I did the piecing on this quilt, but I handed it over to my friend and long-arm quilter Nichol of A Desert Quilter to do the quilting for me. We decided on the pebbles for the negative space, and I think she did an amazing job. Here is a closer look at some of her quilting.

quilting pebbles

It should have taken her practically forever to do all this quilting – the finished size of the quilt is nearly 60″ x 70″. But, she got it all done for me in less than a week!

I have been wanting to re-cover the throw pillows in my front room almost since the first day we got them. They came with the couch and although they were fine, they weren’t my style. I would have loved to re-cover them with wild quilting patterns, but my husband is more a fan of builder’s beige. Since I had so much brown in the quilt, I knew I’d be able to get away with making pillow covers that went along with this quilt. Nichol did the quilting on these pillow covers as well!

Legacy fabric pillows

I’m loving the style it brings to my front room! This is the first room that guests see when they walk into my home, and it has always bugged me that I don’t have much handmade in there. That problem has been more than solved with this new quilt and pillows! There is now plenty of handmade… but not at all in a kitschy way. I love me some kitsch… but probably not for my formal living room.

Roots and Wings on the Couch

If you want to know how to make this quilt (which, by the way does NOT require any curved piecing), here is how you can make your own Roots and Wings quilt:

Selection of Fat Quarters from Legacy by Angela Walters for Art Gallery Fabrics
3 yards background fabric (also used for binding)
Additional fabric for backing

Start by making quarter dresdens. I used the Easy Dresden Ruler to cut wedges out of 8″ wide strips of fabric, then shuffled up the wedges and stitched them into 16 sets of 5.

I then squared up the edges of each, making one side even, and when evening up the second side I cut away at the hole traditionally left for the center circle of the Dresden plate. On half, I cut the right side off, and on the other half I cut the left side.

trim off excess dresden

Using the basting stitch on my machine (making the stitch length as long as possible), I stitched about 1/8″ from the curved edge, leaving long thread tails.

I then pulled one thread a little, making the edge start to gather so that it curved up. I spread the slight gather evenly across the whole curve.

curve the edge of the dresden

I then gently folded in the curved edge about 1/4″. Try to be accurate, but if it isn’t perfect don’t sweat it.

fold down edge of curve

I pressed this edge down, and had the perfect edge to top stitch down onto my block.

pressed down dresden edge

I cut 16 squares from my background fabric, each 9″ square. I pinned a chopped quarter dresden onto each. One side is longer than the other. That gives the final quilt blocks a little more of a wonky look.

one quarter of the dresden

I top stitched the edge of the dresden down, right on the edge of the curve. At this point you can cut away the excess background fabric behind the dresden, but I left mine on.

Put the squares together into sets of 4.

modern modified dresden plate block

Then sew these blocks into a row to make the roots and wings design.

blocks pieced together

I then added yardage to each side to finish the top. I cut the backing fabric into the length I needed, then cut off the selvedge. I cut 9″ of the fabric off, down the length of the fabric, to divide it into two unequal pieces. The 9″ piece went on one side, the larger piece on the other.

finished roots and wings quilt top

I then pieced together my backing and gave everything to Nichol to quilt. After she got it back to me I bound it with the same fabric I used for the background. I think this gives it a nice, clean edge.

The pillows were made from the leftover fabric. I made several different scrappy pillows, keeping them fun. I even made one with the scraps from cutting the dresdens down! I took all of those pieces and pieced them into a long row…

extra dresden piecesI trimmed up the sides and pieced these little pieces into a pillow!

Couch with Roots and Wings pillows and quilt

Here’s one more shot with my little helper. With his big brother in school, he’s not quite sure what to do with himself, so he “helps” me with my projects. You might have noticed him in one of the other photos… and if you scroll up, you’ll see his hand on the left side of the couch in the 5th photo from the top. So cute!

roots and wings with baby b

New Laser-Cut Fusible Applique Wall Hanging Tutorial

Applique Wall Hanging

I’m sure you’re wondering what a Laser Cut Fusible Applique is! A Laser Cut machine is like a printer, but instead of printing, it uses a laser to cut shapes out of different objects, including fabric. It is doing amazing things in the fabric world – including allowing us to laser cut intricate applique shapes with the fusible already adhered to the back! Nancy Zieman has created a whole line of these appliques with fun words on them. When she approached me to share them with you, I jumped up and down and said YES! There are quite a few Laser Cut Appliques to choose from, I chose the “Fabric Stitch Sew Create” with the buttons. The “Sew” with the tomato pincushion outline was a really close second, though!

The applique looks like this in the package. They are made of black fabric, and the back has the fusible attached, and a paper backing.

 

Before removing the paper backing, I unfolded the applique and gave it a light press to get out the creases. This helps it lie flat when I place it later.

Then I started auditioning different fabrics from my stash. I ended up choosing these fun prints and solid from Art Gallery Fabrics.

Auditioning fabrics for the wall hanging

To make your own laser cut fusible applique wall hanging, you’ll need:
Laser Cut Fusible Applique from Nancy Zieman
Scissors
3 Fat Quarters for the front
Rotary Cutter, Ruler, and Mat
1/2 yard fabric for the back
505 or your favorite basting spray
#5 Pearl Cotton in coordinating colors (or Embroidery Floss)
Needle

Before taking off the paper backing and fusing the applique, I cut the support pieces from the applique. Look carefully! There are three. Once you fuse the applique down it will be permanent, so you want to make sure you cut them all out.

Cut out support pieces

I carefully removed the backing paper and fused the applique to my solid background fabric. The applique is fairly detailed, so as I auditioned fabrics, I found that it looked best on a solid color or a small print.

After fusing the applique to my fat quarter, I trimmed it down. Trimming my fabric after pressing down the applique helped me get the perfect positioning, and I didn’t have to worry about the applique shifting as I secured it.

Trim down fabric

I added a 4 ” strip of my large print to the top and a 6″ strip to the bottom of my wall hanging.

add borders

I prefer to spray baste (rather than pin baste), especially on small projects like this one, so I used my basting spray to put together my quilt sandwich – backing fabric on the bottom, right side down, then batting, then the applique top. I trimmed it down, leaving a few inches on all sides, and added some quilting.

spray baste

I wanted to add a little more fun, so I ironed on a few of the applique button shapes that came with the applique, and quilted around them. I picked out Pearl Cotton that coordinated with my print, and added stitching to the buttons.

number 5 pearl cotton

The thread was tied off on the back of the wall hanging. I tried tying it on the front, but it looked to messy for me, tying it on the back looked cleaner

stitch through button holes

All that was left was to bind the quilted wall hanging, and I was all done! I used 2″ binding that I applied by machine, but you can bind your wall hanging in whatever way you’re most comfortable.

These laser cut appliques are so simple to use, and since I put mine on a wall hanging that isn’t going to get washed or see much wear, I didn’t have to worry about stitching it down. The applique will stay permanently after fusing it with the heat from my iron!

I’m just one of the bloggers sharing fun projects made with these appliques – check out Nancy Zieman’s Blog all week for more fun ideas!

 

Should I Press My Quilt Seams Open or to One Side?

Should I press my seams open or to one side

 

The quilting question “Should I press my quilt seams open or to one side?” comes up very often in my quilting classes. When my students ask me, I think they’re looking for a single, definitive answer. A quilting rule that they can follow or flaunt. The problem is that I believe in very few quilting rules.

I believe that when quilting, you should press your seams. But how you press your quilt seams depends on a variety of factors. You should take these factors into account when you decide if you’re going to press your seams open, or to one side.

press seam open

How are you going to quilt your finished quilt?
If you plan on doing a “stitch in the ditch” on your quilt blocks, your decision has been made – you must press your seams to the side. The quilting technique “stitch in the ditch” is so named because of where the stitching falls. Pressing the quilt seams to the side created a slight raise on one side of the seam – which results in a slight ditch on the other. This is easy enough for a newbie quilter to find and aim at when quilting.
If you try to “Stitch in the Ditch” on a quilt where the quilt seams have been pressed open, you will be quilting along the seam line right between the pieces of the quilt top, and instead of securing the backing, batting, and top, you’ll be securing the backing and batting while tacking the top in place.
If you plan to do an all-over or a stitching pattern that does not closely follow the piecing of the blocks, you can press your seams however you like.

 

How flat do you want your finished quilt top to be?
Pressing quilt seams open results in flatter piecing. This is because instead of pressing all the bulk of the seam to one side, the bulk is divided in half and spread equally over two sides. Your finished quilt blocks are much flatter than a block with the seams pressed to the side. Once your quilt top is quilted together with the batting and backing, much of the flatness created by pressing seams open is lost into the batting, and a quilt with the seams pressed to the side is no more lumpy than one with the seams pressed open.

press seam to the side

What piecing techniques are you using?
Depending on the techniques you are using when piecing your top, you may prefer one pressing method over another. If you are piecing many small pieces together, you may want to press the quilt seams open to reduce the bulk at the individual seams. However, if you are doing intricate piecing where you want to match your seams, pressing the quilt seams to the side may actually help you. If you press one seam up and one seam down before laying two pieces with their right sides together, the ditches of the two seams will “lock” together, helping line up the piecing, and resulting in more crisp lines and points.

 

How do you press best?
What is most important in pressing is that you do it, and do it as well as possible. I have seen new quilters who did not press properly, and lost as much as 1/2″ of fabric in each seam because of poor pressing. So, if there is one way that you prefer pressing because it makes you happier, go ahead and use that method. Because staying happy while you quilt is what it is all about anyway, right?

Hexagon Fabric Bracelet

Do you have some favorite pieces of fabric you’d like to turn into wearable accessories? Or maybe you love hexagons and want to show it in your wardrobe. Maybe you want to try out some of this hexagon madness without committing to a big project. These hexagon fabric bracelets are perfect for you! They make a great gift for a fabric-loving friend, or to mail in a swap package with a fellow quilter. Simple to make with just hand stitching, you’ll get addicted to these fun hexie bracelets!

Fabric bracelet stitched out of hexagons

Supplies:
1″ Hexagon Template
Pellon 71F
Pencil
Scissors
Fabric (I used 4 Charm Squares for each bracelet)
Needle and thread

Start by tracing your 1″ hexagon onto the Pellon. You’ll need 12 hexagons for each bracelet. For reference, a 1″ hexagon has sides that are 1″ across.

trace hexies onto pellon

Cut out all your hexagons.

hexies all cut out

Fuse the hexagons to your fabric, and trim the fabric. You’ll want to give yourself a generous 1/4″ of fabric all the way around each hexagon.

Fold over one edge of the fabric and tack down with a few stitches.

stitch down corner

Fold down each side, and put two stitches in each corner to hold down the sides.

stitch down hexie corners

Add a few extra stitches on the final corner to secure, and cut the thread. Repeat for all 12 hexagons.

finished hexie

Put two hexagons right sides together, and stitch along one edge. You can whip stitch them together, or you can use a ladder stitch to secure the edges. Repeat with all the hexagons to make 6 pairs.

The ladder stitch, I found, is less visible than whip stitching the pieces together. Start by making a stitch on one edge. Where the needle comes up, start a stitch on the opposite side. Keep making stitches on alternating sides all the way across. Your stitches will look like a series of straight lines up and down across the edge of the hexagons.

stitch together pieces

When you unfold the hexagons, and make them flat, you’ll see the stitches. Pull on your thread to tighten the pieces together, then secure with a few stitches.

stitched together hexies

Once you have your 6 pairs, use the same stitch to stitch them together.

stitch into a chain

You’ll want 6 hexagons down the middle, with the extra hexagon for each hanging off of either side.

chain of hexies

Fold over the matching pairs, one at a time, and stitch down around each edge. making a sandwich with the right sides out. This hides all the backs of your hexagons, and leaves just the pretty side.

stitch together front and back pieces

Repeat this with each hexagon, all the way around. When you get to the end, match up the two ends and stitch them together. Line the two pieces up, and stitch the two inside edges together first.

stitch into a bracelet loop

Then go back across, stitching together the two outside edges. Secure the thread with several stitches, and adjust the hexagons to form the shape of your hexagon bangle bracelet.

Hexagon Fabric Bracelet Tutorial

They’re pretty addictive… you’ll find yourself making a whole armful!

Hexaon fabric bracelets tutorial