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.


Recently, I've been adding hanging loops to these.


Easy to do--just use about 5" of your binding to make a double-fold strip and layer it in when you sew on the binding.


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.