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.

Silhouette Quilting Stencil

Last month, I showed you the quilted hearts I made for the Fairfield booth at Quiltmarket. Making 17 identically quilted hearts was a challenge. I came up with a design for quilting the hearts, but wanted an easy way to transfer this design to each of the blocks.

Quilted hearts with feathers

I was able to make a super simple quilting stencil in my Silhouette software. I sketched in the double heart, and the spine of the feather. Each of the fingers of the feather was done free-hand, without an outline.

Silhouette quilting design

The stencil was incredibly easy to make… and made it so much easier to make copy after copy of the same quilted design!

If you want to grab this stencil, you can snag the Silhouette file here, and cut one for yourself.