Cricut Maker Block of the Week – Week 1: Nine Patch Quilt Block

As promised, here is the first quilt block for our Cricut Maker Block of the Week, the Nine Patch Quilt Block! Each week I’ll share with you how to make another part of this quilt, until we have the whole quilt finished. The fabric is all cut and marked on the Cricut Maker machine. If you want the details, check out my Introduction to the Cricut Maker Block of the Week. If you want to join in and don’t know where to start, check out the Cricut Maker Block of the Week Reference Page. It will get you current, and give you all the information you need.

Cricut Maker Block of the Week - Block 1: Nine Patch

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Before you start here, you need to have followed along on the introduction, borders, and sashing instructions. Make sure you’ve done that before you continue.

You can watch the video here, or follow along the steps below.

Cut the fabric for the Nine Patch Quilt Block

Open up the Cricut Maker Block of the Week Block 1: Nine Patch in Cricut Design Space. You need to do this on a desktop or laptop computer with Design Space installed. From there, you can save the file, and open it up in Design Space on whatever device you like best.

Nine Patch Quilt Block in Design Space

We are using the fabrics you chose to be your “pink” and your “white” when you labeled your fabrics. Place them on the mats, right side down. Make sure to rub down the sides of the mat, as that is where the rollers can catch the fabric, and lift it up.

Press “Make It” in Cricut Design Space. You will see the two mats with the blue lines.

mats for nine patch

Press “Continue.”

select material

Select Material as “Cotton.”

load machine

Install the Cricut Fabric Pen. I like to put the cap on the back of the pen so I don’t lose it. Install the rotary cutter. Place the mat up to the rollers, and press the flashing arrows key. The mat will load into the machine.

Cut both mats. Peel away the extra fabric, and you’ll have something that looks like this.

cut on mats

Use your tweezers to remove the squares, and lay them out to create the block design. It will look like a checkerboard.

lay out the block

Sew together the Rows of your Nine Patch

Take the first two pieces in the top row – the teal and the red as shown in this image (the white and pink as labeled on the fabrics). Put them right-sides-together, with all the edges lining up. Stitch them together using a 1/4″ seam allowance. You can stitch right on that blue line, going all the way across from edge to edge.

sew rows

Congratulations! You’ve sewn your first seam! This quilt is officially underway!!

**pause for a happy dance**

first seam

Lift up that teal fabric, exposing the red. Put the other teal on top of the red, and stitch down. You now have a teal piece on each side of the red stripe. YES!

Repeat with the other two rows, making sure to keep the checkerboard design.

Press the seams to the side. Have all the seams go towards the “dark” fabric, whichever one that is for you.

press seams

Finish the Nine Patch Quilt Block

Here you can see the back of the block, with all the seams pressed. If you watched the video, you’ll notice that the seams are in the exact opposite directions from in the video. That’s because in the video the pink was my dark, and here the teal was my “dark”. If you’re not sure which of your fabrics is darker, just choose one. It won’t matter too terribly. I pinky promise.

What IS important is that if your seams go out in one row, that in the rows above or below it, they are going in. And vice versa. This allows your seams to nestle into each other, which helps your points match.

press the rows

Place your top row on top of your bottom row, right sides together. Stitch down one side… making sure it is the correct side (the side they are supposed to meet up on).

layer two rows

Then repeat, stitching the bottom row onto the other side.

last seam

stitch last row

Press these seams (I like pressing out, but it won’t make too much of a difference), and your block is complete!

finished nine patch quilt block

YAY!!

Make sure to come back next week. Each week I’ll be sharing another step in making this quilt. Next week we’ll make an uneven nine patch, using three colors! So fun to see what a difference a slight variation makes!

 

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Free Motion Quilting Practice Designs

I am so excited to share these Free Motion Quilting Practice Designs with you!! One of my most popular videos is where I show you how to make  8 quilting designs using one basic motion, I regularly get comments from people who tell me they can’t wait to try the designs. This is going to make it so much easier! Free Motion Quilting Practice Designs This post contains affiliate links which help support this site with no additional cost to you.

 

When you first start Free Motion Quilting, you spend time getting used to working with your machine. You need to “synch” with your machine. Like a mind-meld, but for quilting. My friend Christa Watson calls this the “hum-purr”. (By the way, if you don’t know Christa, go check out her book Machine Quilting with Style. An awesome book for Machine Quilters! And check out her blog Christa Quilts.)

Since you’re spending that time finding your “hum-purr”, it can be hard to also focus on your design, and where you want to go next. So, when I found out that Cricut was coming out with a water-soluble fabric pen, I was EXCITED! I could draw out those designs for you, you can draw them with your machine (any Cricut machine that can operate with a pen – it doesn’t have to be the new Cricut Maker.)

Here is what you need:
Cricut Machine that uses pens and the Cricut Design Space
Cricut Mat (I used a fabric mat)
Cricut washable fabric pen
12″ square of cotton fabric for drawing on (light color that the pen will show up on works best)
13″ square (or larger) of scrap batting
13″ square (or larger) of scrap fabric for backing
Sewing machine with Free-motion foot
Super slider (optional, but I love it)
Basting Spray (you can pin baste or thread baste – but I love spray basting)

  1. Pen draws linesDownload one of my .svg files for Free Motion Quilting. Right now I have a loopy fill and a border file. Let me know what you think, and I’ll add some more.

drawn designs for free motion quilting

  1. Open Cricut Design Space.
  2. Upload the file into Design Space. It is an SVG file, so it is pretty easy.
  3. Resize the file to whatever size square you would like.
  4. Ungroup the image.
  5. Remove the background shape (I have it sitting in a square for easy resizing)
  6. Over in the right-hand panel, click on the scissors, and change that to write (select washable fabric pen, 1.0, Blue)
  7. Your file is ready!

Put your 12×12 fabric on the mat. Load the mat, put the fabric pen in the pen holder, and let the machine draw the design.

Cricut fabric pen can draw free motion quilting designs

 

Once it is done, you can unload the mat, turn this layer into the top of your quilt sandwich, and start quilting! If you haven’t watched my video, I give you all the basics for Free Motion Quilting these designs in my post on 8 quilting designs using one basic motion.

free motion quilting practice

I’m using my favorite Wonderfil 12wt thread here. You can use whatever you like – but I love this thread for really standing out against any fabric!

Once you’re done, admire your work for a minute.

Free Motion Quilting practice - border designs

Then, you can wash away all that blue ink!

washing away the ink

How cool is that?

FMQ Practice Designs on the Cricut Machine

By the end of a practice square or two, you’ll have found that hum-purr, and be ready to try it on your own, without practice lines!

Want to know what to do with your practice pieces? You can save them as reminders of your quilting journey. If you like, you can trim them up, bind them, and turn them into mug rugs and place mats.

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8 Simple Free-Motion Quilting designs – using ONE basic motion

Last year, I created this video showing 8 simple Free-Motion Quilting designs that you can make using one basic motion. If you learned cursive writing as a child, chances are your teacher started you off writing cursive ls or cursive es. Using this same looping motion, you can create 8 simple quilting designs that can be used as quilting fills and border designs.

You might not be able to have this video handy at all times, so I’m sharing a handout that goes with this video. I created this handout for a basic free-motion quilting class that I taught at my local quilt shop. You can download the PDF of this quilting printable here.

8 simple quilting designs from one basic motion

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How to Prepare your Quilt for Quilting

After you’ve pieced your quilt top, it is time to quilt it! But how do you prepare your quilt for quilting? I’ve teamed up with Fave Quilts to make this video showing you how it is done!

If you are sending your quilt to a long-arm quilter, you’ll want to make sure you have your quilt top and quilt back ready to go, so your longarmer can get your quilt done and back to you for binding. If you’re quilting it yourself, you’ll need to baste it. Spray basting is fast, easy, and my favorite way to baste a quilt. I’ll show you how to baste together your layers so that they don’t shift while quilting.

I use Thermoweb SpraynBond Basting Adhesive to baste my quilts. You can find it at JoAnns, many local quilt shops, and online.

Check out all the details on how to prepare your quilt in this post on the Fave Quilts site. And be sure to check out the Fave Crafts YouTube Channel for more fun quilting videos!

How to Prepare your Quilt for Quilting

 

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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Quilt Coloring Pages

I’m heading off to QuiltCon in Pasadena next weekend. If you can’t go, or are inspired by quilts but aren’t ready to take the plunge into actual quilting, I’ve got a treat for you! I made these fun Quilt coloring pages!

FREE Quilt ColoringPages

I’ve made lots of different designs for you to play with… but the best part is that you get to completely customize them yourself. You could print the same sheet dozens of times… and get dozens of different looking quilts by using different colors, or repeating the colors in different areas. It is such a fun way to play with color and intensity!

colored quilt from quilt coloring book pages

You can even change the colors as you go along… it is completely up to you… you can make a very pattern-focused design, or go completely scrappy!

coloring quilts on FREE quilt coloring pages

Crayons, markers, colored pencils, or all of the above – pick your poison as you dive down the rabbit hole of coloring quilts!

Bling
Braided Diamonds
Diamond Star
Diamond Weave
Diamonds and Crosses
Double Double
Millions of Melons
Plaid Braid
Starry Diamonds
Stars Out
Traditional Stars
Woven Diamonds

free downloads of quilt coloring pages

When a Butterfly flaps its wings…

I shared the back of this mini quilt on Instagram several months ago, and wanted to share the whole thing with you here, along with the story behind it.

back of butterfly quilt

Shortly after moving here, I checked out a couple of my local quilt shops. I got on the e-mail list for one, and opened their e-mails every time they came in. I was busy getting the house unpacked, and really wanted to find a place to fit in here in my new community. And one of the most welcoming sub-communities is quilters.

In their e-mails, the shop announced a contest. Make a small quilt featuring a butterfly, either one of the suggested designs, or any butterfly, and bring it in. The project was to be no smaller than 6×6 and no larger than 12×12. I thought about making one, but wasn’t sure if I would have time.

The night before the project was due, I decided I needed to create some “me” time. I needed to MAKE something! This project called out to me. I downloaded the butterfly file, cut it out on my Silhouette, and used it as a reverse applique on a 11×12″ block. Then I quilted. And quilted. And quilted.

Mini Butterfly quilt

My free-motion quilting felt really rusty. Ugh. But it felt great to be quilting again! It made me happy to create! I stayed up until almost 4am quilting. And it was exhausting in all the best ways.

close up of butterfly quilt

I brought the mini to the shop the next day. No makeup, hair unwashed and in a mom bun. I was going to drop off the quilt then go home to take a nap.

It turned out that the owner was in. I’d been wanting to meet her to chat about teaching at the shop, but she hadn’t been in the other times I’d stopped by. Of course, on those occasions, my hair was done and I’d paid some attention to my outfit. Despite not looking my best, I got to meet her, chat with her, and discuss the possibility of teaching at the shop.

I’ve chatted with her since, and am scheduled to start teaching. And one of the things that I’ll be teaching is how I made this fun butterfly! I’ll show how to use the Silhouette to cut it out, how I fused it together, and how to get it quilted up! I have some ideas for additional class samples… and can’t wait to get quilting on them!

In case you were wondering, I did win the contest… but only by default. There were no other entries. Which speaks to the power of showing up. I felt rusty, and didn’t feel this was my best work… but I turned it in regardless… and ended up winning both a prize, and a teaching gig!

 

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 fix a quilt mistake (after it has been quilted!)

Last spring, I made a quilt for Art Gallery Fabrics to hang in their booth at market. They sent me the fabric, and a computer-generated image of what the quilt should look like. And I went to work cutting, and piecing, and laying out, and more piecing, and quilting… until it was all done. After I had the quilt all put together and quilted, I laid it out on my living room floor only to discover… I’d made a mistake. I had placed the wrong block in one of the spots. And, it wasn’t out on an edge of the quilt where I might be able to pick everything out, replace the block, and then stitch everything back together. It was in the middle.

wrong fabric in place

After painstakingly laying out all the blocks, making sure everything was EXACTLY right, checking, re-checking, and double-checking at every point, I was so frustrated to have a mistake slip through! If the quilt was for my own bed, I might have left it. Things that are handmade are not perfect. That is part of the joy of handmade. The imperfections that show that real human hands put it together.

But this quilt was for the fabric manufacturer, and to hang in their booth at a Fabric Tradeshow. I wasn’t willing to let this big of an imperfection slide. So, I decided to fix the mistake.

All I needed was freezer paper, the correct fabric, a needle and thread, and my iron.

I started by tracing the triangle that was the wrong fabric onto the freezer paper.

trace incorrect piece

I cut it out, then fused it to the back of the correct fabric. I then cut about 1/4″ around the freezer paper, and ironed this in towards the freezer paper to make an applique.

remove freezer paper

I pinned the patch into place, lining up the edges of the patch with the edges of the fabric underneath.

pin down the patch

Three quick stitches in place underneath to anchor my thread before beginning…

anchor the thread

Using an invisible stitch (also called a ladder stitch), I stitched the applique piece over the incorrect fabric.

stitch down the patch

keep stitching around the patch

Once the patch was in place, I needed to quilt it. Luckily, I used a very simple straight-line quilting on this quilt, so I just needed to continue the lines across the patch.

quilt on top of patch

Yay! Quilted in place… you’d never know that there is a different fabric hiding under there…

quilted over patch

The last step was to bury my quilting threads. With both threads pulled to the top, I tied a double knot, and buried the thread and knot into the batting.

bury the threads

Although I had to hand sew on the patch, it was so much faster than tearing out all my quilting and piecing to reach the patch, replace the fabric, then re-piece and quilt everything. The extra layer of fabric doesn’t add much bulk, and isn’t at all noticeable in the finished quilt. And aren’t these Art Gallery Fabrics stunning? I just love this quilt!

fixed quilt

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.