Ugly Sweater Mug Rug

It's been a while since I participated in an Instagram swap, but this year's Ugly Sweater Mug Rug Swap was too cute to not join in.

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Supplies needed: scraps of Christmas-y cotton fabric, 7" square of cotton batting, thread, fabric for binding

Cost: assuming you work from scraps of fabric and batting, the only cost will be for the pattern - $6.00

Time: about an hour - if paper piecing intimidates you, check out my tutorial for a freezer paper method that won't make you crazy.

Using this pattern from Kid Giddy, I created an ugly Christmas sweater for my partner from scrap fabric I had on hand. The pattern comes with two styles of sweater - a crew neck and a v-neck. Hopefully this is ugly enough for my partner! I had a lot of fun quilting the plaid design, and I like the way it looks from the back almost as much as from the front. You can check out all the photos from the swap on Instagram.

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Foundation paper piecing that won't make you want to lay down in traffic

20-some years ago, my sister was born, changing my life for the better in so many ways. I had a playmate, a friend, a partner in crime. We have had our rough patches, but I love her dearly and couldn’t ask for a better sister. While we’re very different from each other, we have much in common – sewing, for one. She recently taught me a technique that changed the way I was paper piecing (or wasn’t paper piecing, since I was always so frustrated with it that I usually shoved those projects aside in favor of something that wouldn’t make me crazy). The method she uses isn’t radical – instead of sewing through her paper pattern piece, she uses freezer paper, a dry iron, and folding to create beautifully pieced blocks. Now I do too!

Trace your block onto the dull side of freezer paper.  Number the pieces in the same way you would for a regular paper pattern. In the example below, I added my seam allowance to the block. I’m apt to mess that part up – out of sight, out of mind – but you don’t have to. Just prepare the pattern the same way you usually would – just use freezer paper.

Select a scrap of fabric for piece #1. Make sure it is large enough to cover the whole space with .25″ seam allowance on all sides. I hold mine up to the light to check. If it is much larger (like my example), don’t worry about cutting it down to size. By the time we’re done with this block all of your seam allowances will be beautiful and the piece will be the perfect size.

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Hit it with an iron. You’ll want to put the wrong side of your fabric against the freezer paper and tack it in place with a dry iron.

Fold the freezer paper along the line between piece 1 and piece 2. Trim the exposed fabric to a .25″ seam allowance. I eyeball it, but you can use a rotary cutter and ruler if you like…it’s more time intensive, but if it makes you feel better, go for it.

Select a scrap of fabric for piece #2. Make sure it is large enough to cover the whole space with .25″ seam allowance on all sides. Place this piece right sides together with piece #1, aligning the edges. Sew with a .25″ seam allowance, right up against the freezer paper. If you accidentally sew into the freezer paper, it’s not the end of the world. If you can avoid doing that, you can reuse the template 3-4 times before it loses it’s stick, so try not to.

Fold the freezer paper pattern back to flat, ironing briefly over the seam allowances to hold them in place. Then fold piece #2 out and iron as well.

Continue folding, trimming, sewing, and ironing for all of the pieces in your pattern. When you’re done, it will look something like this.

This is the point where I pull out the rotary cutter and square up my block.

Once you’ve trimmed the edges, you can peel back the freezer paper template to reuse until it loses it’s stick. Your block will be beautiful front AND back!

I’m including a printable version of this pattern for you. I’d love to hear what you think of the technique!

Arrowhead Quilt

Perhaps you'll remember my Autumn Arrowhead quilt block. In case you don't, check out this post to see how this SUPER easy block is constructed. (When I say SUPER easy, I mean it...I sewed all of my blocks for this quilt in under 2 hours.) While these blocks can certainly be pieced side by side, I tried something different for this quilt.

My sister and I decided that our favorite aunt should have a quilt made with this block for her birthday this year. We divided up the fabric and each made 10 blocks. We used the same neutral gray fabric for all of the blocks and a variety of solids and prints in a colorway we think she'll like. I added sashing and cornerstones when piecing the top, and I think it really added to the overall design.

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I used free motion quilting in the neutral spaces of the blocks, and some straight-line quilting in the sashing, leaving the prints/solids unquilted. I'm usually a very dense-coverage sort of quilter, so this was a new approach for me, and it makes the prints really pop.

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Now all we have to do is bind it and gift it!

Autumn Arrowhead

Happy October! I'm celebrating my favorite month by sharing a quilt block with you for the first time in a looooooooong time. I'm this month's queen bee for the Columbus Modern Quilters, and I selected the Arrowhead block as my block of the month. This is a traditional quilt block, pieced in a very simple way – my sample block took about 10 minutes to make, and I was pausing for photos.

For those of you in the bee, please choose a light and a dark fabric. As you can see from my block, bright and bold are my thing – just make sure there is some contrast. Please stay away from low volume or solid fabric.

Place two 10” squares right sides together. Begin sewing 3” down from the top right edge. When you're 1/4” from the edge, pivot and stitch to the bottom left edge, backstitching at the end.

Rotate the block 180° and repeat for the last two sides.

Cut the unit diagonally, through the sewn corners. You will have two triangle units.

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Stack the two triangle units with the opening in the bottom left corner. Measure 3” from the left and cut through both units.

Now measure 3” from the bottom and cut through both units.

Open all of the sewn units and press the seams toward the light fabric. (This will help everything nest together nicely when sewn.) Lay out the pieces as shown.

Sew the pieces together in three units as shown. Then sew the three units together to make the block.

Square up and trim the block to 11.5”. Congratulate yourself on a job well done!