Winter Big Stitch Mini Quilt

I had to come up with a quilt to gift at our December Modern Quilt Guild meeting, and for once I didn’t wait until the last minute! I still need to add a little label to this mini quilt… but other than that, it is all done!

Making a mini quilt is a fun project, and a great gift. You don’t have to commit to a large project (or commit all the  money to a large project). It also doesn’t take the kind of time commitment a big project does, either. Which is a big deal for me. I have so many projects going that I can’t commit to another big one!

modern mini holiday quilt

I was doing some traveling last month, so I decided to quilt this one using big stitch quilting. I was able to hang out on the back patio at my mom’s house, watching the kids play in the backyard and keep her company doing yard work… and get this mini quilted up! And I think that the big stitch really adds a lot of character.

Making this mini is simple. You need:

7 charm squares (5″ squares)
3/4 yard solid fabric
Perle Cotton
Big Stitch quilting needle.

I started by cutting the charm squares in half, and lining them up to decide their order.

rectangles for mini quilt

I added a small strip of blue to one side, and a large strip to the other. I basted the top, batting, and backing, sketched on a basic snowflake design, and started stitching!

add big stitch

then trim it…

trim up mini quilt

… and bind it!

bind mini quilt

This is part of a series I’m doing with Niki from 365 Days of Crafts… sharing a new gift idea each day… and we’re having some of our blogging friends share handmade gift ideas as well! By the end of the week, we’ll have over 99 gift ideas! Check them out:


Applique Tote

This Appliqued tote is simple to make, and makes a great gift. You can applique any design you like onto the front, quilt it however you like, and customize it for the recipient. I appliqued an umbrella on this tote, but you could just as easily applique their first initial in their favorite color. Or forget about customizing this applique tote bag for someone else – make it for yourself!

I’m sharing this project as part of a week-long series. Each day this week I’ll share a fun handmade project that makes a great gift… and I’ll be sharing projects from around the web. Together with my friend Niki from 365 Days of Crafts, and our creative friends, we’ll be sharing over 99 Handmade Holiday gifts this week!

Quilted Applique Bag Pattern

Let me show you how easy it is to create this tote!

1 1/4 yards of fabric
1 yard fusible fleece
scraps of fabric for applique
fusible adhesive (I used Heat n Bond Lite)
basting spray
Accuquilt Umbrella Applique Die (optional)

cut fabric

Cut 4 pieces 17″x13″.
Cut 2 pieces each 3″ wide by Width of Fabric
Cut 2 pieces of fusible fleece, each 17″x13″.

Fuse the fusible adhesive to the back of the fabric scraps, and cut out your applique. I used the Accuquilt GO! to cut mine, but you can use whatever method you like.

Select two of the 17″ x 13″ pieces to be the outside. Set the rest of the fabric aside. Fuse the fusible fleece to the back of each rectangle. Fuse the applique to the front of one. Center left-to-right. Do not center top-to-bottom. Leave about twice as much space under the applique as above the applique.

iron on applique

Quilt the front and back pieces. I did simple cross-hatch quilting.

quilted front

To make the applique stand out, don’t quilt over the applique.

quilting lines around applique

Place your front and back right-sides-together. Stitch around the sides and bottom.

pin around edges

Box the corners by marking 2″ in from each bottom corner, stitch across, then cut away the excess.

box corners


Using the two pieces reserved for the lining, stitch around the sides and bottom, leaving a 6″ hole along the bottom seam for turning later. Then box the corners exactly as you did in the last step.

box corners of lining

Make the handles by folding the two long strips in half, then stitching all the way down to make tubes. Turn the tubes right-sides-out to hide the seams on the inside. Stitch the handles in three places to secure – 1/8″ from each side, and down the middle. Trim the handles to your desired length.

On the lining, mark 4″ in from each seam on each side. Use these marks to pin the handles in place.

place the handles

Open up the lining. Turn the outside right-side-out, then insert into the lining.

pin on handles

Pin the layers together all the way around the top. Stitch all the way around.

Turn right side out using the hole left in the bottom of the lining. Hand-stitch the lining closed.

Machine stitch 1/8″ from the top edge, all the way around. Your bag is complete!

Quilted Applique Bag

Check out these other fun projects, and enter the giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Christmas Tree Half-Square Triangle Quilt

I was sent a fat quarter bundle of Robert Kaufman’s Holiday Flourish fabric for a fun challenge with the other Fairfield designers. When it came in the mail, I was excited, and full of ideas. But then deadlines came, and the bundle was pushed aside, and so were the ideas.

But, projects have a magical way of becoming important again when their deadline is due… and that’s what happened with this project! I went to Quiltmarket, and when I came back, I had to get started making something with these fat quarters. I picked up a fun half-square triangle ruler at market, and was excited to use it… so I thought I’d make a fun wall hanging that looked fun and scrappy with half-square triangles.

half square triangle christmas tree quilt

finished size: 30.5 x 30.5″


This bundle was perfect for making the wall hanging! And at 2.5′ square, this wall hanging is the perfect size for anywhere in the house.


To make the wall hanging, you’ll need:
4 black fat quarters
7 gold fat quarters
1 yard backing fabric
1/4 yard for binding

From the Fat quarters, make your half-square triangles. They’re all 2″ finished triangles. Use whatever method you like to make them. I used a ruler that makes 24 at a time – you can use triangle paper, or the old method of cutting squares, drawing a line diagonally down the center, then stitching on each side. If you do this method, your cut squares will be 2 7/8″ to make the 2″ finished HSTs.

For the quarter square triangle, cut 3 4″ squares – two gold ones and one black one.
67 black-on-black HSTs
22 black-on-gold HSTs
135 gold-on-gold HSTs
1 quarter-square triangle

quilt supplies

Once you have all the HSTs made, it is time to stitch them together to make the tree shape. You can lay them out on a design wall, or the floor, and stitch them one set at a time to make your rows. Or, you can cheat like I did!

Fairfield has a new line of interfacings that will be available in stores starting January. I pulled out the lightweight fusible interfacing, and drew a 2.5″ grid on the back. Then I fused the squares onto the grid to keep them in place. Once all the squares are fused in place, I was able to stitch down a whole row at once!

stitch down rows

Once the top was pieced, I quilted the top using Fairfield Superior 80/20 Blend batting. I used a walking foot for some simple straight-line quilting. The fabric was already so busy, I decided it didn’t need busy free-motion quilting.

Then I bound it, and the quilt was done!

christmas tree quilt from half square triangles

Applique Zippered Bag

I’m on a little applique kick, making some samples, and I thought I’d show you how to make this simple applique zippered bag. Super fast and easy to make, once you get it down, you’ll be making all kinds of zippered bags!

applique zippered bag

Start with your supplies. You’ll need:
9″ zipper
2 rectangles from outer fabric – 9″x6″
2 rectangles from lining fabric – 9″x6″
Applique shape cut out with fusible web on the back.

supplies for applique zippered pouch

Fuse the heart onto one of the outer pieces, stitch in place. I used a tight zig-zag.

stitch around applique

stitch around heart

Place one outer piece and one lining piece, right sides together, with the zipper between. Stitch through all three layers. If the zipper pull gets in the way, stop stitching. With the needle down, lift up the presser foot, and carefully open or close the zipper to move the zipper pull out of the way.

Press them open, exposing the zipper. If you like, add topstitching along the top of the fabric.

press to one side

Repeat with the other set of lining and outer fabrics.

stitch on second set

Once you press open the second set, lay the fabrics so that the outer fabrics are right-sides-together, and the inner fabrics are right-sides-together, with the zipper in the middle.

put right sides together

VERY IMPORTANT: Open the zipper at least halfway. This will keep you from swearing later. Then stitch around all four sides, leaving a hole about 4″ long along the bottom of the two lining pieces.

stitch all the way around

Trim off the excess zipper, then turn the bag through the hole you left.

finish applique zippered bag

Hand-stitch the hole closed, and you’re all done!

applique bag set


Umbrella Applique Wall Hanging

I was working on a freelance project, and needed some applique samples. I don’t keep a lot of samples hanging around, so I whipped up a couple fun applique projects – including this umbrella applique wall hanging. If you have the umbrella applique die for the Accuquilt GO!, this is a super simple project to make.

Umbrella applique wall hangning


Grab some fabric and the die. I used scrap fabrics I had on hand – these are all Art Gallery Fabrics.

supplies for applique wall hanging


Add fusible web to the back of the applique fabrics, then cut on the Accuquilt GO!. Iron on to your center block.

iron down applique umbrella

I ironed it on first, then cut it down. That made it easier for me to center. This is 10″ wide by 11″ tall. But you can go with whatever size works for you.

center block

Cut fabric for the borders and binding.

strips for borders and binding

Stitch on borders.

sew on borders

Before stitching down the applique, I put fusible fleece on the back, and then spray basted on backing fabric. I then used a buttonhole stitch around the applique. This appliqued down the umbrella and quilted the quilt at the same time.

applique down umbrella

Once it was quilted, I trimmed it down. Before finishing the binding, I tucked a triangle into each top corner. Just a square folded on the diagonal, and stitched to the top corners. These can be used in place of a hanging sleeve – just tuck in a dowel, and hang up the quilt!

hanging corners on wall hanging


Fast and simple – and fun to make!

wall hanging umbrella


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
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.