Sunday, December 4, 2016

Star Block Tutorial

Christmas is coming and I wanted a pretty little quilt made from some Moda Juniper Berry fabric. My 25 year old Bernina is in the shop getting a new motor, so I am stitching this quilt on one of my Singer Featherweights. This block is so easy and so much fun to make, you can easily put this quilt together in a weekend! 

The quilt requires 3 Charm packs. I elected to purchase 1 Layer Cake and cut it into fourths.  This way I get my 3 Charm packs and a bonus 4th to use on another project.

Set your layer cake out on your cutting mat and cut in half. A layer cake is 10" so when you cut it in half you will have two 5" by 10" strips.  Now cut those in half and you will have four 5"x 5" Charm squares. I cut 4-6 layers if fabric at a time, I would not recommend that you cut through more layers than that, you start to lose accuracy. Make sure your blade is sharp.

For this project you only need 3 so you will have a bonus Charm Pack to use another time.

I like to use the wrapping that came with the Layer Cake to rewrap the little left over Charm Pack and that way I will know what it is when I go to quilt with it.

For the background fabric you will need 1 3/4 yards. I used Kona Cotton White. Kona Cotton has a wonderful feel and stitches up so nicely. It really is my favorite for solids.

I fell in love with Reindeer Games and will be using that for my backing fabric and possibly my border as well.

So here we go.  First thing to do is sort your charm packs into like fabrics...we have 3 charm packs so we should have 3 of each fabric.
Once you have done that take one stack of 3 like charms and remove one of those to your cutting mat.  Cut 1 charm into four squares that will measure 2.5 x 2.5 each.  You do this by cutting your Charm in half (2.5") and without moving your fabric, turn your cutting mat and cut the Charm in half again (2.5").  You will need two of those small squares for this block and one of the charms...the others will create a second block set for you.  

From your background fabric (I have used Kona Cotton White) you will need to cut 24 strips that measure 2.5" x WOF (width of fabric)

From your strips you will need to cut a piece 7" x 2.5 and a piece 5" for each block.

Take the small 2.5" squares and fold them in half on the diagonal as shown below, you can press them to get a clear crease or if you want to, you can mark them with a marker that will not bleed into your fabric.  This crease is our stitching line.

TIP: if you have directional fabric...lay your block out on your cutting mat next to your sewing machine and make sure you have your 2.5" pieces folded so that you are lining up the direction of the fabric...see below.  Place the 5"x 2.5" strip at the top and the 7" x 2.5" strip at the right of your charm.  Lay your folded 2.5" squares as shown to create the block and check your direction.

Make your fold and check again.

Keep your folded squares where they are and open them up. You can pin them in place if you wish.  Take them to your machine and stitch on the crease. TIP: it will help if you start your stitching from the long edge and stitch out to the point, rather than starting from the point.  If you start at the point, you risk jamming up your sewing machine by having that fabric tip get jammed down into the needle hole.

Take your strip to your mat and cut away the excess fabric leaving a 1/4" seam allowance as shown below.

Open out your piece and press toward your darker fabric. Place the 5" strip at the top of your charm and stitch in place, again, check your alignment to make sure you have your piece laid out correctly.  Press toward your charm.

Lay the 7" strip along the right side of your charm and stitch into place. Press toward your charm.

You should now have a block that looks like this...

Place four blocks as shown below...

Stitch the top two and the bottom two blocks together just as you would a four patch, as shown below...TIP:  start your stitching at the star point. Press your seams to the left.  Press both star halves in the same direction, when you turn them to place them together, they will nest giving you a perfectly matched center.

Stitch the top and the bottom together and you have your final star block as shown below...

Hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial for this star block.  Check back and I will post the quilt when finished.

BONUS: save all of your little triangle cuttings and you can run them through your machine as leaders and enders to be used in your border or your quilt.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Basic Potholder Tutorial

Pretty Potholders can be yours to give or yours to keep! This easy pattern can be adapted to use stray blocks you may have laying around. It's a great way to clean out those pretties that you know you will never finish into a quilt. This is a suitable project for a beginner.

To make two pot holders as shown you will need the following:

8 - 5" squares of 100% cotton fabric
2 - 9" squares of Insulbrite insulated batting (keeps you from burning fingers)
2 - 9" squares of regular 100% cotton batting (thin)
2 - 9" squares of backing fabric
2 - 2.5" x 44" or WOF (width of fabric) strips for binding

Thread, pins, scissors, rotary cutter, cutting mat, 6 x 12" ruler,  12" square up ruler (optional), Sewing Machine

Pick out your 5" fabric squares. For this project, I have selected Moda's Basic Mixologie. You want a little contrast in color or design.  You don't have to run out and buy a charm pack, this is a a great project for using up your scraps too. Just cut your scraps to 5" squares.

Pick two of your squares and put them right sides together, do the same with the remaining two, draw a line using a pencil and a ruler that runs diagonally as shown below (removable marker, chalk, what ever you have that will not bleed into your fabric.) You could also use your iron to press a crease but I find for beginners, marking is easier with less chance of stretching the bias.

Take these to your machine and stitch 1/4 inch from the center line going down one side and then turning and going down the other.  It should look like the example below.  

Once you have stitched both, then cut them on the line as shown below.

Now press these pieces open.  I like to finger press my fabric first, to make sure that the piece is open all the way before I press with my iron.  Your pieces should look like below once they are pressed.

Now take two of your half square triangle pieces placing them right sides together, and match up the seams. You will draw another line running diagonally as shown below.

Same as you did before, stitch 1/4 inch away from that line and turn your fabric and stitch 1/4 inch away from that line on the other side. Again, cut them along your solid drawn line as shown below.

Take to your iron and press open...Take four of your pieces and arrangement to suite your fancy. These are just some of the options.

Pick the arrangement that you like and sew this together, just like a four patch.  Stitch 2 top pieces together and then the 2 bottom pieces together, using a 1/4" seam allowance, press open. Check your design and make sure that it is still lining up properly.

Here is a close up of what your blocks should look like for the center match up. Take a pin and poke it through from the backside of one half into the intersection of the pieces. Then poke that same pin through the right side of the other half, into the intersection of the pieces. Keep this pin perpendicular  and while you hold it, place a pin on either side.  To see this in more detail, I will refer you to another tutorial here: Matching your seam intersection Photo included for your reference below.

Once you have matched up and pinned your intersection, stitch your remaining seam. Press.

Make a quilt sandwich of the follow in this order, backing, then your Insulbrite, then your batting and finally your quilt block.

You will notice that the block measure about 8 inches and your other materials measure 9 inches.  This is purposeful. Center your block on your batting and backing, pin in place and we are ready to begin quilting.

Start from the center of your block and needle down, stitch in the ditch to the outside edge and clip your threads. Do the same in the opposite direction, starting again from the center, needle down and stitch to the edge.  This will keep your fabric from bunching up in the middle like it would if  you try to stitch from one side to the other. Continue to stitch from the middle out until you have anchored all of your seams. If you want you can then go back and stitch in the ditch around the block in the center. Here is the back of my potholder and you can see the stitching. Notice, there is no bunching.  I also stitch very close to the edge of the block all the way around the outside, this helps hold everything together when you are binding.

Cut away the excess batting and backing, this is easily done with your rotary cutter and this is a good time to use your square up ruler, if you don't have one, no worries, just trim off the excess.
It should look like below when you are finished. All ready for binding!

Take your 2.5" strips and fold them in half and press to create your binding. Starting on the TOP corner of your potholder on the face side, lay your binding raw edges matching the raw edge of your potholder as shown below and stitch 1/4 inch mitering the corners as you go. You will either start this edge flush or trim it flush when you are done. 

Before you sew off the end...stop your sewing, fold out your beginning binding and end your stitching just before the edge as shown below. Leave a long tail hanging on this end.

Take to your iron and press you binding away from the top to open the seams before you finish... see below.

Fold your binding to the wrong side and carefully miter your corners, pin them in place. The tail of your binding will fold in on itself. Starting in the same corner as you started your binding, stitch in the ditch catching your binding fabric on the backside as you go. 
Continue to stitch the tail of your binding as this will create the loop for the top.  Five inches is plenty to work with.  Turn and tack into place, clipping off your excess binding tail. Here is a link to give you a closer picture of this process: Binding your potholder and creating the loop

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Spooky Skelly Kat Table Runner Tutorial Plus Bonus Binding Tutorial

You may have already made the Candy Corn Table Topper, this tutorial will teach you how to make this Halloween Table Runner.

To make this table runner you will need to pull some contrasting fabrics. For this runner I pulled these four fabrics. 

Cut 3 strips of each fabric that measure 2.5" x WOF (width of fabric)

Make 3 strip sets consisting of your four fabrics. Using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew your strips together and carefully press your seams to one side. It will help if you will finger press your seam open fully before you press with your iron. Take your time and make sure that seam is pressed open all the way.

To cut your 60% wedges, you can refer to the directions in the Candy Corn Table Topper or you can use the ruler of your choice.
Personally, I love the Hex N More Ruler. There are just so many things you can do with it, cutting your 60% wedges is just one!

Lay one of your pressed strip sets out on your cutting mat and lay your Hex N More ruler as shown below. Alternate your ruler, cutting from one side and then the other to cut as many wedges as you can get from your strip set. Do the same for the remaining strip sets.

What you will notice when you are finished cutting is that you have two difference types of wedges to play with! This will let you create your design.

Take a minute to lay out your table runner and play with the placement of your wedges. This was my first layout and I changed it up in the final layout. You will need six similar wedges for the center and 8 similar wedges for the ends. You will have extras which you can use to make a table topper like the Candy Corn Table Topper.

Once you have your runner laid out the way you want it you can start to sew it together.  As you stitch PRESS ALL OF YOUR SEAMS OPEN. 

Here is the trick to make it all come together perfectly. Stitch your runner together in two halves. See the photos below and you will understand. Stitch together the wedges of each half, if you need help matching up your seams, please refer to the directions in the Candy Corn Table Topper and the Holiday in The Pines Runner

Once you have your two sides stitched together you can make one seam down the middle, matching as you go. We will talk a little about some matching tips below. When you are lining up your seams, where the wedges will come together (there are three of these intersections on this runner), it helps to place a pin perpendicular through the point of your wedge intersection, lining it up with the opposite side. Keep that pin perpendicular and carefully place a pin close on either side. Take a PERMANENT fine point marker, a pencil or a disappearing ink pen and make a mark at the base of your perpendicular pin on the side closest to the raw edge of the seam as shown below.

You can remove your perpendicular pin now. As you stitch your seam, you have a mark on your fabric to stitch on that will help you achieve your perfect intersection. Press all seams open.

You have a perfect intersection, your runner is together and you can layer it with thin batting, (I use Hobbs 80/20) add your backing and quilt as desired. Stitching in the ditch is easy, you can echo quilt or get real fancy with your quilting, your choice. Pick a fun backing fabric and your little table runner can be reversible!

I have had lots of requests from folks about how to bind this table runner so the second part of this tutorial will be on binding.

For the binding, use 3 strips of fabric that measure 2.5" x WOF and stitch them together end to end. Here is how to stitch them together to create the least amount of bulk in your final seam. 

Lay one strip right side facing up and lay the next strip across it perpendicular with the right sides facing together. Leave a little hanging over on each edge as shown below.

Place a pin in the lower right corner as shown and using a ruler draw yourself a line diagonally as shown. I used a permanent marking pen for this, you can use a pencil, chalk, a disappearing marker...your choice. Just make sure what you use will not bleed into your seam when it's washed.

Take this to your machine and stitch on the line.

Once you have stitched your seam, trim off the excess fabric to a 1/4" seam as shown below.

Take your strip to the ironing board and press open the seam you just created. This will help to eliminate bulk in your binding. I do not clip off the "rabbit ears" because I use them to make sure I don't put the seam in a corner. Trim them off later.

Add your next strip to your binding piece the same way and press the seam open. Now fold it in half along the long edge and press...take your time and match up your edge. It should look like this below when you are finished. Roughly lay your binding around your runner, look for those "rabbit ears" and make sure they don't land in a corner.

I like to use a binding tool and I will talk more about that in a bit. From the center of one side of your runner measure a 12 inch opening and mark it with a pin on each end of that 12 inches. Place your binding raw edges together with your runner and leave a 12 inch piece loose beyond your starting point. Start pinning your binding in place. Place a pin about an inch away from your first "corner" as shown below.

Just like when you are binding a square quilt, you will fold back your binding, but we will fold back squaring up to the seam on the runner as shown below.

Finger press your binding so that it lines up exactly with your runner seam as shown above. You can place a pin if you need, then fold forward again, to continue along the next side as shown below.

You will have a flap at the top and should have nothing at the bottom, see below.

Continue all the way around your runner until you get to the 12" mark you made on your starting side and pin, leaving the tail loose. We will close up that 12 inch opening using the binding tool.

Start your stitching at your first mark on the 12" opening and continue to the corner, unpin and fold your flap forward, away from your needle, as shown below, stitch up to the intersection, stopping with your needle down and back stitch off the piece as shown.

Continue by folding your flap back, under your needle as shown and stitching 1/4" along your seam. Finish your stitching at the 12" mark that you made earlier. You will have two loose strips of binding hanging off and a 12" unfinished edge on your runner. 

This is the binding tool, if you don't have one, get one, it is just a wonderful easy way to get a perfect finish on all your quilts. It looks like this...

There are instructions printed right on the ruler, you cannot fail!
To use it, stitch the binding on your quilt and leave a 12" opening.

Leave a tail of binding on either side of your opening as shown below.

Fold back each strip as shown below, place the binding tool, starting on the left side as shown and pull your fabric over the top of it.  There is a line right on the tool, mark your fabric on that line. (pay no attention to A and B at this point, just mark to the line.)

Rotate the tool and do the same thing on the other side, marking to the line on the tool.

Open out your left side binding and line up the point of the ruler (A) with your mark on your fabric as shown below. Make sure your ruler is level with the sides of your binding strip.

Now make your cut along the edge of the ruler with your rotary cutter. Don't get your quilted piece under the ruler when you are cutting! Twist your binding piece away from the quilted piece so you can get a clean cut without cutting the runner.

That's one side done, now rotate your ruler (not flip, rotate) line the line on the ruler with the line that you drew on your fabric.  Notice we are not lining up with the point this time, we are lining up with the line on the ruler (B). Make sure the sides of the ruler are lining up with the sides of your binding and make your cut.

Stitch these two ends together to close your binding strips and then fold in half and press. Waaahooo! Look at that! Perfect!

Finish stitching that 12" opening that you left on your binding. Press from the middle of your runner out, pressing your binding away from the runner. Each corner will have a perfect little miter and as you finish turning your binding you will make the same miter on the back side.  You can finish with either hand stitching or there is sufficient binding to catch with a machine stitch by stitching in the ditch right next to your binding strip. 

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, if you make a runner, please share a photo with me, I love to see your work!

Here are some examples of Table Toppers made using the Candy Corn Table Topper Tutorial

#1 by Charlene Kruger Hall #2 by Lenka Cermakova #3 by Carla J. Finley  #4 by Dotti Steel