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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Quilt binding by machine with a flange

I've always been a fan of finishing quilt binding by hand. I sew my binding to the front of my quilt using a machine, and then use an invisible hand-stitch on the backside of the quilt for a nice clean finish. Practically speaking though, this takes a lot of time. And yes...you spent a lot of time making the quilt so why not spend the time sewing the binding by hand? I (usually) agree, but sometimes quick is good. Also, machine binding can hold up a little better in instances where the quilt will get a lot of wear and tear - baby blankets, for example, will be heavily used and washed over time and machine binding may hang in there longer under that kind of love (abuse).

For the baby quilt I've been working on, I decided to add a machine binding with a flange. I think this is a great way to add a machine binding without it looking sloppy, and it gives the quilt a little something extra.

For a flange binding, you'll be using two fabrics - a main binding fabric and a flange fabric. I chose a red & white scallop print for my main binding and a black & white wood grain print for my flange fabric. I cut my main binding fabric the way I usually would, and cut the flange binding fabric .25" wider than the main binding fabric. It may seem counter-intuitive to cut the main binding thinner than the flange, but I promise it will all make sense.

Sew the main fabric and flange fabric wrong sides together using a .25" seam allowance.

Press the seam towards the main binding fabric. It will look like this front and back.

Now you'll press the binding in half, just as you would with non-flange binding. On one side, you'll be able to see the main and flange fabrics, and on the other, you'll only see the flange fabric.

You're going to attach the binding to the quilt on the back side of the quilt with the flange fabric facing up.

I'm not going to cover how to miter your corners in this post - I'm assuming you've bound a quilt before. If you haven't and need basic info, here's a great tutorial for beginners.

Once your binding is attached to the back of your quilt, fold it over to the front of the quilt. You'll be stitching in the ditch - sewing where the flange fabric meets the main binding fabric. This will keep your stitching even with the binding on the backside and nearly invisible from the front of your quilt.

 

While the binding stitches aren't invisible on the backside, they're even with the binding and if you've chosen your thread color well, they blend right in.

Quilting in circles

One of my favorite things about making a quilt is deciding how to quilt it...what sort of pattern or texture will bring out the best in the quilt top. I recently tried quilting a spiral and loved how it worked with the star shape of the quilt design. I also loved how easy it was to do on my home sewing machine. I used it again for a star-based design and am sharing the results with you today.

I used this great tutorial from verrykerryberry when learning how to quilt a spiral. You start by stitching along a small paper template of the spiral and then work your way out. I printed out her template and pinned it to the center of my quilt.

I used a short stitch length to begin with so that the paper would be easy to tear away, and a walking foot is a must - moving a decent sized quilt in a tight circle like that is no joke, but it does get easier the further you get from the center.

After I got the first few rounds out of the way, I increased my stitch length and added the guide bar to my walking foot. I aligned it with the spiral I had just stitched so that I could keep even spacing between the rounds as I went.

From there, it was just a matter of keeping the guide aligned as I went. The larger the spiral, the easier it was to spin the quilt around and I made pretty good time!

All told, this 40" x 40" baby quilt took about 20 minutes to quilt. It's a dense enough stitching pattern that I know the quilt will hold up well to the wear and tear of a small kid and I think the spiral really complements the quilt design.

Even the back looks good! And yes...that IS minky backing. (Thanks, walking foot...I couldn't have done it without you)

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!

Twin Quilts for Twin Beds

When your teen daughter can no longer sit up in her bunk bed without conking herself on the ceiling, it's time for a bedroom makeover. New furniture was a necessity, new paint just made sense, and that left me with no choice but to make new quilts.

I decided to make the girls the same quilt pattern from the same line of fabric, but did my best to make them look different enough that it felt like each quilt was uniquely tailored to each girl's taste. I selected Tucker Prairie Fabric by 1Canoe2, and this free quilt pattern from Moda's Bake Shop.

The bulk of the quilt is made from jelly rolls - what a time saver! I haven't worked with jelly rolls very much, but they worked great for these quilts. The remaining pieces are made with HST's, so these quilts sewed up very quickly.

For each girl, I selected different focal fabrics from the line, and then altered the placement of my jelly roll strips to look best with those fabrics. I think it worked out well - they look like completely different quilts while still complementing each other!

Honesty is the best policy

It's been a long time since I posted - too long. Life has been busy on all fronts - something I'm sure everyone can relate to. The day job is chaotic, design projects are plenty, and back-to-school is always an overwhelming time of year. Mix in a few emotional life events and you've got a recipe for not doing a great job at all of the things. I decided to give myself some grace when it came to blogging and focus on getting some other s*#$ done. I've been working on some exciting stuff that I look forward to sharing with you soon. In the meantime, here's proof that I haven't been idle this summer - just busy.

No-waste Flying Geese

My to-do list currently includes making a pile of flying geese. I hate wasting fabric, and traditional piecing of flying geese has always seemed so wasteful to me. Flying geese are traditionally made by paper piecing, or by sewing two squares to a rectangle at a 45 degree angle and cutting away the excess. Wasteful either way, no?

I found a no-waste method for making flying geese, which was very appealing to me, so I decided to give it a try. With the no-waste method, you work with squares alone, and the only waste is the itty bitty dog ears that can’t be avoided when sewing HSTs.

To make 4 flying geese, you will need one large square of your main fabric (this will be the central triangle in each unit) and four smaller squares of your complementary fabric.

To determine what size squares you will need to know the finished size of your flying geese, for example 3″ x 6″. For the large square, cut a square that is 1.25″ larger than the finished width of the flying geese (7.25″). For the smaller squares, cut squares that are 7/8″ larger than the finished height of your flying geese (3 7/8″).

Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each small square, just as you would for a half square triangle. Align two of the small squares with opposing corners of your large square, like so:

The small squares will overlap slightly, and that’s ok…they should. Now sew on either side of the diagonal line using a .25″ allowance.

Using a rotary cutter and ruler, cut the unit in half along the diagonal line.

Press the fabric open, and you’ll have two units that look like this:

Place one small square in the remaining corner of your main fabric, and make sure that the diagonal line you’ve drawn on the small square runs up from the corner to meet the center point of the smaller squares you just sewed like this:

Sew on either side of the diagonal line using a .25″ allowance, and cut the unit along the diagonal line. Repeat the process with the other unit.

Press the fabric open, and you will have four flying geese! Pat yourself on the back and enjoy the satisfaction of not wasting fabric!

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!

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone enjoyed a restful holiday with their loved ones. I had a wonderful break from work with my family - I think this was one of my most enjoyable holidays yet!

In the run up to Christmas, I was hard at work on gifts, including quilts, aprons, handbags, and pillowcases. I was most excited about two quilts in particular, for my daughters. These poor kids have a mother who sews incessantly but had never made them quilts of their own. I remedied this situation for Christmas.

The other project of which I am pretty proud is a dollhouse pillowcase I designed. I sewed a few of these up as gifts for little friends, and they were a huge success (if I do say so myself).

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This design is available as a one-yard, easy-to-sew project (complete with dolls and a kitten!) in my Spoonflower shop.

With Christmas projects behind me, I'm ready for an exciting new year! I hope you are too!

The garden is dying but the meadow is fresh!

I was bitten by the project-finishing bug this week, and managed to sandwich and quilt a quilt top I've been sitting on since summer. I have to admit - while I chose the fabrics and palette in summer and it seemed appropriate, I'm kind of glad I held off completing it until the weather got dreary. This quilt cheered me up and added some much needed sunshine!

 

The pattern is my own - Duck, Duck, Goose! It's made with a combo of large and small flying geese using the no-waste method found here. The fabric is mostly from Meadow by Leah Duncan, with some of her Tule collection mixed in as well.

Scrappy Tripping

I'm participating in the Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt bee hosted by Julie over at 627handworks.com. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Scrappy Trip quilt, it's a simple and scrappy quilt that's lots of fun to make. I made my first Scrappy Trip quilt a while back, and it is quite possibly the most loved quilt in the house.

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For the quilt bee, there are 6 members in a "hive". I'm making 5 blocks to send off and in turn I will receive 5 completely different blocks from around the world. This week, I sat down and knocked out all of my blocks and got them ready to ship out. I can't wait to see the blocks that are headed my way!

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