Sunday, June 28, 2015

Playtime at the Hacienda (Part 1)

I've got an idea of a new layout for a string quilt, so I'm playing with fabric!

Lots more to make--I'll let you know how the layout works out.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Flowing Flowers

A Spiderweb Quilt With a Different Layout

A spiderweb quilt is a type of string quilt and is constructed basically the same way (previous tutorial with instructions here). The difference is that instead of beginning with a square foundation, you begin with a triangle.

As with the square foundation, you secure your center strip. (I use a washable glue stick.)

Add a strip to one side of your center fabric.

Fold back and crease with your fingernail or an iron.

Add a second strip to the other side.

Press back.

Each of these has a center and one strip on each side.

Continue to add strips until your triangle is covered. Trim as shown in previous tutorial.

Four triangles will be sewn together to create a star. As you line up the stars, the spiderwebs form.

Your eyes are not deceiving you--this picture is of another spiderweb I made!

A basic spiderweb quilt has all the stars in straight rows.

A serpentine layout has off-set blocks. I first saw this layout on the Quiltville blog  here. Note the difference in the rows of stars. While the vertical columns are straight, the horizontal rows are off-set. This is accomplished by adding a half-block at the bottom and the top of every other vertical column.

Rather than creating spiderwebs, this off-set layout creates the serpentine pattern.

 I'm not much of a snake fan (even the word serpentine brings "a tighter breathing, And zero at the bone" to quote Miss Dickinson), so I prefer the idea of the currents in a stream. Combined with the fact that all the prints in this quilt are florals, I chose the name Flowing Flowers for this quilt.

Here are close-up shots that show the backings I chose for each of the spiderweb quilts shown above.

If you enjoy making square string blocks, give the triangles a try. It is fun to see the secondary patterns come together.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


This is a quick, easy project ideal for gifts or for your own use. These can be used as potholders, hotpads, candle mats--really any situation where you wish to protect a surface from heat.

You will need a protective thermal material (I use Insul-Bright), batting or flannel, and the decorative fabric you want for the outside. You will also need a dinner plate, a pen, scissors, a sewing machine, and an iron.

Cut Your Materials

As I mentioned above, I use Insul-Bright as my thermal layer. I'm sure other brands are available, but I've always had good luck with this one. It has a reflective layer in the middle to prevent heat from coming through the pad.

I am not affliliated with the company that makes this.

You are going to cut five circles for each pad:

One of your thermal material,

Draw around the plate. You can use a smaller plate if you want a smaller hotpad, though it can be more difficult to bind the smaller size.

Cut out with scissors.

Two of cotton batting (or cotton flannel),

And two of your decorative fabric.

These may be the same fabric, or you may choose two different ones.

 Layer Your Hotpad

First, place one of your decorative fabrics on a surface, right side down.

Second, add a layer of batting.

Third is your thermal layer.

Fourth, a second layer of batting.

Finally, add your second layer of decorative fabric, right side up.

You can pin or clip these together as you like.

On the right, you can see that I have already prepared my binding strips.


You can quilt these with a straight line grid or with free motion quilting (FMQ). I used FMQ because these small items give me a low-pressure chance to practice the technique.

Here are my quilted pads.

Bind Your Hotpads

I use binding cut at 2.5" wide. I then press it in half, so I have a double layer.

To determine the length you will need, multiply the diameter of your pad by π (3.14):

in my case, 10.5" x π = 32.97",

so one width-of-fabric strip (about 40") will be plenty with a little left over. You may cut bias strips if you wish, but I've done them both ways, and I found no advantage to bias over straight grain strips.

Sew the binding around the hotpad, easing it around the curves. Dont rush; this isn't hard, but it does take time. Join the ends as you would any binding.

Here is one with binding attached:

I promise it won't have a ruffle when you are done!

Trim your seam to reduce bulk.

Now, turn the binding toward the back side,

and stitch it down. You can do this with your sewing machine, or as I do, by hand.

I made several of these in one day; the project lends itself to an assembly-line process. Here are my results:

Most of these are double-sided. Here they are flipped over:

If you decide to do double-sided ones, be sure to choose a binding color that works with both sides.

You may wish to press these with steam when you are done to ensure they lie completely flat.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Autumn Path

Autumn Path Quilt

I love Autumn (She says as she sweats through summer!), so I also love autumn fabrics. I decided to put some together into a quilt using Bonnie Hunter's "Bricks and Stepping Stones" pattern.

Bonnie's pattern can be found here: Bricks and Stepping Stones

Not long after I started the quilt, Missouri Star Quilt Company did a video tutorial on a very similar quilt: Four-Patch Frenzy

My quilt is a different scale than either of these, but the end result is much the same. Here is how I did it.

Choose Your Fabrics

I had several fabrics to choose from--too many, in fact!

I knew I wanted to make the four patches out of constant colors to tie everything together. I chose the reddish brown and the creme that you can see here in the center of the picture.

The brown background leaf print at the top was one I had several yards of, so I chose it for the backing.

While all the prints had colors that coordinated, they seemed to divide themselves:

Brighter and not exclusively leaves

Darker and all leaves except the paisley

I liked the look of the darker group better, so I chose to go with that set.

Making the Four-Patches

Since the four patches were to be all the same, I was able to put them together using strip sets.

First, I cut 2.5" strips of the darker color.

Then I repeated the process with the creme color.

To make a strip set, sew one dark strip to one light strip down one long side (right sides together.

Before pressing the strip set open, sub-cut it into 2.5" pieces.

Press these units open with the seams toward the darker fabric.

You will now sew these together to form a four patch. Because of the direction you have pressed, your center seams should nest snugly together. Pinning the centers can help you keep your seams aligned.

Please ignore the "working hands" manicure!

Press the seam of your four patch. In this case, the pressing direction doesn't matter.

Your finished four-patch unit will look like this, and it should measure 4.5" square.


...and repeat.

My quilt measures 68" x 68" and required 75 four-patch squares.

Cutting the Bricks

The larger portion of the block (the Brick) in my quilt was cut at 4.5" x 8.5". I tried to get approximately the same number of bricks from each autumn leaf fabric, so I could have a good mix in the quilt. I needed 75 of these for my quilt.

Making the Block

Each block of this quilt requires one four-patch and one brick. (These are rectangular rather than square blocks.)

Sew one four-patch to the end of one brick. Take care to always keep your four patches facing the same direction--this will create the mini-chains in your finished quilt.

You can chain piece these--feeding one block in after the other without cutting the threads between them. This can save time and thread. Here is a set of chain pieced blocks.

These can then be clipped apart. I have a handy little gadget for this (I chain piece a lot!) called The Cutting Gizmo. The slot on the top holds a razor blade, so you just pull the thread between units down on it, and it cuts. I like it because I have both hands to handle the fabric units instead of needing one for scissors. This is purely a nice-to-have thing--certainly not a necessity.

The Cutting Gizmo

I am not affiliated with the company that makes or sells these.

After you have completed your blocks, press the seams toward the bricks.

This is your completed block.

Lay Out and Sew Your Rows Together

The layout of this quilt is simple: one four-patch up, one four-patch down.

The next row is the same.

My quilt took five rows of fifteen blocks each.

Finishing the Quilt

You may choose to add borders if you wish.

I quilted mine with a straight line 4" grid--nothing fancy.

I chose the binding from among the leaf fabrics I had left over--a scrappy binding would work, too.

Here are some pictures of my finished quilt.

Notice the mini-chains I mentioned earlier. All my four-patches have the creme color in the upper left corner, so the chains appear. (I could have used the darker color there for the same effect--all that matters is that all the four-patches are oriented the same way.)

This is a pattern that goes together easily, and it would be suitable for many types of fabrics--maybe Christmas prints, or a baby quilt, or a patriotic theme...