Glory: Scrappy Flag Quilt Pattern

Happy 4th of July! A couple weeks ago, I had an idea for a Scrappy Flag Quilt. I went to my fabric stash and pulled assorted reds, then pulled out my Tumbler English Paper Piecing shapes. I had plenty of both, and a long car trip perfect for some hand-stitching time, so I got to work!

This quilt is part hand work (the red stripes are hand-stitched using English Paper Piecing), and part machine-stitched (the background is stitched together by machine, and the EPP is machine appliqued and machine quilted). All the beauty of handwork, without being crazy time consuming!

You can buy the pattern on Craftsy here.

Glory: Scrappy Flag Quilt Pattern. Uses English Paper Piecing and traditional piecing techniques.

Tumblers aren’t the most popular shape for English Paper Piecing, Hexagons are the most popular, followed by Diamonds. Both of these shapes have angles that can be tricky to piece, making paper piecing a great choice. Tumblers can be fairly easily machine pieced – but they are so satisfying for hand sewing! The edges line up nicely, and you can get this great zig-zag effect from alternating the directions of the tumblers.

Scrappy flag quilt - simple to make, easy to follow pattern with EPP instructions

The quilt makes a great wall hanging for any room. You can use it as a table topper. You can hang it outdoors for a picnic – or use it on a picnic table or picnic display table.

fun and scrappy flag quilt pattern

I had lots of fun quilting this one… I think my favorite part is the quilted stars in the 13 white tumblers!

close up of Glory scrappy flag quilt

Buy the Digital Download pattern here.

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Block Printing with Fabric Creations by Plaid

Earlier this month I attended the Crafts and Hobby Association (CHA) annual tradeshow in Anaheim. I love going and checking out all the new products that are coming out on the market. Many of the products are crafting products, and there are lots of scrapbooking supplies at the show. I love seeing all the new papers, scissors, punches, and cutters… but I’m always on the lookout for fun new fabric finds. This year, in the Plaid booth,they had these Fabric Creations inks and block printing stamps. I was intrigued, and excited when they sent me home with a bag filled with the supplies!

Block Printing with Fabric

I had the supplies in the craft room, and decided to give them a try last night. I have never done block printing before, and I had not seen a demonstration at the CHA show. I have done some rubber stamping, and figured I would give it a shot on some cotton solids I had lying around. I made a video of the process. Spoiler alert: it was crazy easy!

The inks dried beautifully. The gold has some sparkle to it, all the inks are wonderfully flexible – not at all stiff or crunchy.

Plaid Fabric Creations Fabric Ink

I only had a chance to play with three of the stamps. They all created beautiful, crisp designs on the fabric.

block stamps for fabric printing

There are still several more stamps… I’m looking forward to stamping with those, too!

Additional Blocks for printing on fabric

Stardust Quilt (Free Pattern)

This stardust quilt was made using Fat Quarters of Art Gallery Fabrics’ line “Playing Pop”, which can be found in stores now. I used the lighter prints as low(er) volume background prints, and the darker prints in to make the stars.

Free Quilt Pattern - "Stardust"Stardust Quilt: finishes 48″x48″

It makes for a fun, scrappy background quilt that looks a little more fun and planned!

For this quilt, you’ll need:

4 FQs dark or med/dark prints (stars)
5-7 FQs med/light prints
8-10 FQs light prints
Backing, Batting & Binding

Cut:
From *each* of the dark or med/dark prints:
8 – 4 7/8″ squares (cut in half diagonally)
1 – 4 1/2″ square

From the med/light prints (total from all):
45 – 4 7/8″ squares (cut in half diagonally)
14 – 4 1/2″ squares

From the light prints:
18 – 6 3/16″ squares
36 – 2.5″ x 8.5″ rectangles
36 – 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles

You can lay out the fabrics to make your design:

stardust quilt layout

There are 2 alternating blocks that make up the design. A diamond-in-a-square and a square-in-a-square. Stitch these units together, then stitch them all together to make the quilt.

If you want your quilt to look very intentionally scrappy, you can make the four square-in-square blocks using the dark fabrics for the center, then the 14 diamond-in-a-square blocks using 2 of the dark triangles on each, then make the remaining blocks using the remaining fabrics, and then stitch it together. Depending on what kind of quilter you are (and how much design wall space you have available), you can make this quilt using whichever method you like!

unquilted stardust quilt

Quilt as desired.

stardust quilt front

I pieced my back from the scraps and leftover Fat Quarters in the bundle. You can also see my quilting here. I used my walking foot to stitch-in-the-ditch around the stars, then did dense swirls in the space around them.

back of stardust quilt

Such a fun quilt to whip together!

photo of Stardust quilt

How to Machine Bind a Quilt

Adding binding is the final step in making a quilt. I love the look of binding that has been hand-stitched down. But that takes a lot of time – four hours or more to hand-bind a quilt. And, although that isn’t a lot of time when you consider the overall time it takes to make a quilt, if I’m up against a deadline, or making a quick and easy quilt, I turn to machine binding. It takes a quarter of the time (or less), and although it doesn’t look quite as nice as hand binding, it is possible to make it look very professional.

You can use whatever size binding you like. I like to cut mine into 2″ strips.

Stitch the strips together, on the bias, to make one long strip. Press open these seams, then press the entire length of the binding in half, making it 1″ wide. Stitch the raw edge of the pressed strip against the raw edge of the trimmed quilt top, with a 1/4″ seam. The binding goes on top of the quilt, it will get stitched to the back later.

stitch down binding

When you get to a corner, fold the binding away from the quilt to make a 45 degree angle.

fold away corner of binding

Then fold the binding back to the quilt, so it lines up with the next side of the quilt.

fold corner of binding

When you get to the corner, fold down the triangle so it is out of the way. You do NOT want to stitch this triangle down.

tuck corner as you stitch

Stitch up to the fold. I like to go backward and forward a couple stitches right at the corner, just to make it extra secure.

stitch to corner

Lift up your needle and presser foot, fold the triangle flap back, and start stitching again at the fold. I like to go back and forth a couple stitches here, as well.

move fold

Continue all the way around the quilt. When you all the way around, back to the beginning, secure the two ends together. Then it is time to stitch it over the edge, to the back. Flip the quilt over, and pull the binding around to the back. Stitch right at the edge of the binding, and just to the left of your stitching line. This keeps your stitching off the binding on the front. The closer you get to that stitching line, the neater the front of your quilt will look. If you use a thread that matches your quilting, and it will blend right in to the front.

fold over binding and stitch

When you get to a corner, fold the binding into a point.

fold corner

Before you stitch the corner, flip the point up. I find that pinning moves the fabric too much, so I hold the edge down by pressing a pin down on top of the binding. This slips under the presser foot, and I can move it out of the way before the needle comes down.

stitch corner in place

Stitch to the corner, and with the needle down, pivot.

pivot at corner

Keep stitching this way, all the way around the quilt.

stitch down length of binding

 

 

 

You can see what it looks like from the front – nice and neat!

Stitched on binding from the front

 

 

How to Square up Quilt Blocks

When quilting, squaring up quilt blocks is important. Squaring up blocks helps to keep the entire quilt square. The finished quilt top will lie more flat. The entire quilt will be more even. But squaring up blocks is a pain. It takes time, and sometimes it seems like maybe shaving off all those slivers can’t be as important as getting the project done NOW. But it is. Squaring up is such an essential part of having your points line up.

Here, I’m going to show you how to square up Half Square Triangle, or HST block. Because HSTs are stitched on the bias (an angle across the fibers, instead of parallel with the fibers), it can make the blocks stretch out of whack when you press the block open. I’m trimming these HSTs to 3″. I could use a 3″ ruler, but instead I use a square ruler that is larger than 3″, and just keep an eye on my 3″ mark.

trim block

I also line up the angle of the block with the 45 degree line at an angle across the ruler. This will help all the points line up. I make sure that the block is inside the 3″ mark, then trim off the excess on the two sides, where the block hangs out past the ruler.

The block gets rotated 18o degrees, and then I line up the 45 degree line, as well as the 3″ line both horizontal and vertical. Trim off the excess on two sides, and the block has been squared up!

trim other side

Repeat – over and over and over again… until all your blocks are squared up!

trim half square triangle blocks

That scrappy pile on the right… that’s a whole scrappy pile towards accuracy.

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!

 

Nancy Zieman Quick Collumn Quilts Book

A couple months ago, Nancy Zieman asked if I’d take a peek at her new book, Quick Column Quilts. I jumped at the chance to get a peek at this book before it hit shelves! I love fast quilts, I love quilts that are strip-pieced, and I love new patterns!

As I flipped through the book, I was enchanted by all the different ways that basic strips of fabric can be pieced together to make quilts! I’ve been strip quilting since the beginning – the very first quilt I pieced was a strip-pieced Log Cabin quilt. While many strip quilts use the traditional 2.5″ strip size, the quilts in Nancy’s book take advantage of different sized strips to add variety. You don’t need to buy precuts- you can use the yardage from your stash that you love, but haven’t found the perfect project for yet.

There are several quilts from the book I’d like to make, but after much deliberation, I finally settled on one… for now. This quilt is appropriately called “Heartbeat”, was easy and quick to piece together – as promised! I have been collecting black and white, and black, white, and red text fabrics for a while, and I loved using them for this quilt.

Nancy Zieman Heartbeat Quilt

Like most of the quilts in the book, Heartbeat has a fun, modern vibe.

I also pieced the back of the quilt using leftover fabric.

back of heartbeat quilt

Though I followed the general pattern, I did cut my strips a little narrower. After piecing my top, I felt the quilt was a little disproportionate – too tall for the width.

quilt top

I cut off the excess from the top and bottom, which was an easy fix. However, cutting wider strips would have fixed this.

folded under top and bottom of quilt

I didn’t have yardage for each of these fabrics – a couple were cut from fat quarters. This took a little extra piecing, but was simple to do. So while this quilt wasn’t designed to be fat-quarter friendly, you could use fat quarters for your focus fabrics… though I wouldn’t use fat quarters for the background.

After finishing the top, I had fun with the quilting. You might have seen some sneak peeks of me quilting this top if you follow me on Instagram.

quilting on back of heartbeat quilt

 

Each fabric got a different quilting design – from stripes to swirls, pebbles to feathers.

quilting on back

Quilting took a whole lot longer than piecing. The piecing was done in a day. The quilting was done over several weeks. I could have quilted it in a day, making the entire quilt in a weekend… if I hadn’t decided to be so ADD about my quilting designs. But I love it this way!

There are plenty of other fun patterns in Nancy’s book, several of which I can’t wait to try! Whether you’re new to quilting, and want to try some simple patterns, or if you just love whipping out fast quilts… you’ll love Nancy Zieman’s Quick Column Quilts book!

quick column quilts by Nancy Zieman

I’m not the only one who had a chance to check out this great book… see what others have shared over the last few weeks:

Nancy Zieman

Quilt Taffy and Simple Simon & Co.

Diary of a Quilter  and Stitchin Jenny

A Woman a Day  and Craizee Corner               
Jina Barney DesignzLilac Lane Patterns, and Totally Stitchin’ 

Esch House Quilts and The Cottage Mama

Designs in Machine Embroidery and Pat Sloan

Happy Valley PrimitivesDoohikey Designs, and Quilt in a Day
Quilt Dad and Just Arting Around

Lazy Girl Designs and  Marie-Madeline Studio

Polka Dot Chair

And a few others will be sharing later this week:

09/16/14         Amy Lou Who Sews and Riley Blake Designs

09/17/14         Indygo Junction and Amy’s Creative Side

Hand-dye Shibori Techniques Class

Last weekend, I took a class on hand-dye techniques. Specifically, Shibori techniques. Shibori is a term that covers a ton of different resist techniques to create different dye patterns. We folded, twisted, wrapped, rubber-banded, squished, stitched, and more to create different designs on the fabric. I had a blast. Here are the different fabrics I created in the class, and the night after the class.

 

This triangle design was one of the favorites among the students in the class. I’ll be honest and say it was one of my least favorite. I think there isn’t a whole lot of variety in the look from one student to the next… they all look very similar to me. Even so, it is a very cool look. And you know if this was one of my least favorite, the rest are going to be pretty awesome, right?

cross hatch pattern

This is one of my favorites. A herringbone pattern created by carefully pleating the fabric, and then pole-wrapping and scrunching the fabric. It is fairly labor-intensive, but the result is so cool!

herringbone pattern

These three hexagon fabrics were fun to create. The dark one on the left was done in class. the other two I did at home after rinsing out the first. they were only in the dye for about an hour, which explains why they are so much lighter.

hexagon resist

This one was the most surprising of all the pieces. I absolutely love how it turned out. wrapped tightly in rubber bands, this was one of the first pieces we made in class, and it sat in the dye for most of the day before being washed out. All the contrast is awesome!

large web design

When I first unwrapped this piece, I was disappointed. I was expecting something much different. But as I looked at it, it really grew on me. So many different areas of interest.

organic look

I did this piece in a rush. Accordion folded, and wrapped in rubber bands, I spent about 2 minutes on this piece of fabric before dying it. An awesome 2 minutes. I love how it turned out!

pleated resist

The next piece was stitched into a sleeve to fit snugly on a pipe, then squished down tightly. You’ll notice a light area on the left hand side – that is where the fabric wasn’t fully immersed in the dye. It all turned out pretty amazing, though!

scrunched fabric

The piece on the left is another triangle fabric, done similarly to the first piece. As you can see – they are very similar. The piece on the right was wrapped in sinew to make the circles.

shibori dye class

These little spider webs were made the same way the large spider web was made, just lots and lots of them, and smaller. Still lots of great contrast. I love these mini spiderwebs – they look a lot like stars, or fireworks.

small webs

This piece was made by marking dots on my fabric, then wrapping a small pebble at each mark. Organic, yet organized.

stone resist

This piece took the most time of any of the techniques. Lots and lots of stitching made this design. I only wish I had left it in the dye twice as long to get darker colors.

 

tightly stitched

Wood resist was a technique I was looking forward to learning in class. This piece was created by clamping wood shims in place. Another simple technique, and I love the variety in the results. Each student that shared theirs in class had a slightly different look to their fabric.

wood resist

I absolutely loved learning all the different techniques in the class – my next step is to cut up these fabrics, and turn them into a sampler quilt!

Easter Bunny Pocket Shirt

Bunny Applique pocket

Happy Easter! I thought I’d share my son modeling his Easter shirt. You can find my tutorial for this little Easter Bunny Pocket Shirt over at the Thermoweb blog. My youngest is almost two, and he’s in love with pockets. His older brother was, too, at that age. He loves putting things in, and taking them out. The whole concept of a pocket and its functionality is fascinating to him! Funny how we take these things for granted later in life, isn’t it?

Easter bunny pocket shirt

As I was taking these pictures, I realized how few handmade things I’ve made for my youngest. His big brother got quite a few, and they are doing a great job as hand-me-downs… but cute things like this just for him? Not very many at all. As a second child myself, I feel I have a lot of catching up to do!

hunting for eggs

Especially since this kid is pretty darn photogenic! If I do say so myself (and I do!). He did a great job of putting up with me while posing for these photos…

looking for eggs in bunny shirt

I put together full instructions on making the bunny applique and pocket, you can see them over on the Therm-o-Web blog. A fun Easter shirt for a boy to wear…

make an applique pocket

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