X Sew-Along: Week 6, Catch-up / Improv Challenge

If you’re still working on your quilting or binding, keep plugging away! Or if you want to play… this week is also our improv challenge. We’ve got some lovely offcuts to work with and some leftover fabric, so what don’t we make something to complement the quilt like a pillow? Or just experiment for no good reason other than to do it? Let’s have a look at what we can achieve this week with our improv challenge:

Improv Quilted pillow
Photo by Emma Poliquin.

#1 / Have fun

This is the most important element of the improv challenge. I love that I can just sit down and sew without measuring anything. Just do it. Put to pieces of fabric together and sew! Trim and then add more.

Improv pillow with Everyone's Got an X modern quilt pattern.
Photo by Emma Poliquin.

#2 / Lay it out

Lay out your piece and see what you’ve got. You’ll see some angles that will come together well. You’ll see where you might want to contrast light and dark, or put two similar tones together. You can try and line up your strip sets or you can say, “I’ve already done this precisely for the quilt, so this time I don’t care this time!”

Lay out improv quilt

#3 / Trim as you go

As you put your pieces together trim any funny bits off so you can add your next straight seams. You might have some groups of shapes that go well together. In this case put a few ‘slabs’ together and then join those slabs to make a bigger piece.

Improv (ignore the scissors in this photo!): Three slabs joined together - rectangle with yellow stripes at top, rectangle at the bottom with peach stripes, three longs strips at the right.

Improv with slabs above (ignore the scissors in photo for now). There are three slabs joined together:

  • Rectangle with yellow stripes at top
  • Rectangle at the bottom with peach stripes
  • Three longs strips at the right.

#4 / Experiment

With a lap size, you can easily get one 20″ x 20″ improve piece and with a baby quilt, you can get a 16″ x 16″ piece. Probably more! With this size of work — because it’s small and not too time consuming, feel free to try something new! If you mess up, the investment of time and fabric is low. Don’t even take out the seam you don’t like, just CUT IT OUT and use the fabric again. Take the opportunity to try a new quilting technique, some hand work or embroidery or pieces some improv curves together (see next point).

Modern handmade pillow with hand stitching
Hand stitching with sashiko thread (black) and perle cotton (off-white).

#5 / Try improv curves

I did an improv curve on this one pink and charcoal pillow. I overlapped two pieces of fabric and cut a random curve in the overlapped area with my rotary cutter. Then sewed them together without too much pinning or care. Again, If it doesn’t work out, take your scissors and cut the seam out and use the fabric again. If you want to try these out, start with them and then move on to other more straightforward seams. That way, if it doesn’t work, you haven’t spent a whole bunch of time on the improv only to “mess it up” with a curve that just isn’t quite right.

Improv curves.

Ready… set… play!

Handmade pillow with hand stitching. Improv quilting
Photo by Emma Poliquin.

X Sew-along: Week 2

Here we are at Week 2 — Cutting for Everyone’s Got An X! I hope you had fun picking your fabrics. I was so delighted to see what colours you will be working with! In this post, you will find tips on cutting your X quilt fabric.

You will notice that I have been very generous with the fabric requirements. Many of the cuts we are making are unconventional dimensions, so I wanted to leave plenty of room for errors in cutting. If all your cutting goes well, you will have a good amount leftover! So set these aside and keep them for Week 6 when we do a fun improv challenge.

Tip #1: Swatch Chart.

Use the fabric swatch chart on page 2. Since I purchased my fabric a few weeks back, I had forgotten which goes where. Having this chart will be handy as you cut.

Tip #2: Starch.

Apply spray starch or flattening spray and press your fabric before cutting. This will help keep your strips nice and straight. We will eventually working with bias edges when we trim our quilt top and this added stiffness will help with minimizing distortion.

If you don’t have starch and don’t want to buy any, don’t worry! I made my first two versions of Everyone’s Got an X without. Just handle your fabric as little as possible once it’s cut. Protecting it too much from movement will help, as well as keep any edges from fraying. I have put my cut pieces in a tray.

Tip #3: Use your ruler to measure.

Where possible, use your ruler markings rather than your measurements on your mat to cut. It will give you a more accurate cut. In addition, you will not be consistently cutting on the same spot on your mat for repeated measurements, which will eventually damage your mat.

In the image above, I’ve actually flipped my mat over so that I don’t get distracting grid lines. I am only using my ruler to measure. I needed 3 strips of 1″ x width of fabric so I cut a 3″ strip, then at the 2″ mark, then a last 1″ strip. This allows me to pick up my ruler as little as possible, as well as minimizes me handling the strips.

Tip #4: Be organized.

While we don’t have a lot of pieces for this quilt, you can save yourself trouble later on and label as you go! A simple piece of masking tape can go a long way. In the same vein, label your binding strips and set them aside somewhere safe. Check off each step as you go.

Tip #5: Butt your rulers together.

Yes, butt (my children are laughing in the background). You will have to make one or two cuts across a diagonal that will be longer than your longest ruler. Butt two rulers together to extend your straight edge.

Above: Two rulers are taped together to the left. The ruler on the right are helping me keep their edges perfectly aligned
aking my diagonal cut for Triangles “Y”.

Tip #6: Using prints.

If you are using a print for your background fabric (Fabric A), you will need to pay special attention to how you cut Triangles Y. Stack fabric right sides together, then cut the diagonal to get your triangles in the right orientation.

Mock up for the photo (dimensions do not follow pattern). Two rectangles stacked right sides together and cut on the diagonal.
The desired result: Four Triangles Y in this orientation.

There we have it! Once you’ve cut everything, be sure to handle everything as little as possible to prevent distortion and fraying. I got a pretty tray for this purpose, in an on-brand colour! Be sure to post your progress with the hashtag #EveryonesGotAnX!

Tips & Tricks: Lone Star Quilt

The traditional lone star quilt is the base for Our Song, Your ReflectionThis beautiful classic design uses strip sets cut on the diagonal to create a large-scale pattern. Here are some tips to make this a successful endeavour! First things first: Don’t be scared. Once you get going, it’s a ton of fun with very rewarding results.

Our Song, Your Reflection in Alison Glass’ Kaleidoscope. Photo by Quilt Photography Co.

Choosing fabrics: If this is your first time making a Lone Star, pick fabrics that blend into each other well. That means a gradient, or really busy prints in the same colour family. If your points don’t match perfectly, they’re less noticeable. High contrast fabrics are less forgiving.

Photo by Deborah Wong.

Tip #1: Hands off. Be as gentle as possible with your fabric. This goes for general handling and when you’re guiding the fabric through the machine. Don’t pull on it.

Tip #2: Starch or pressing spray. The Lone Star is based on 45 degree angles, which means that you are cutting fabric diagonally across the warp or weft (straight grain) of the fabric. These are bias edges and can be stretchy and unwieldy. When you are sewing your strips sets together, use your favourite starch or pressing spray to keep your fabric behaving before you starting diagonal cuts. As you continue along, you can continue to starch/spray when you’re pressing but the first time is the most important!

Tip #3: Pressing direction. People ask me which way I press — and I say, I don’t worry about it when it comes to Lone Star construction. My reasoning is that the seams meet at a 45 degree angle and are never going to be outright stacked. The seam is going to be “spread” along a distance of the seam and are not terribly bulky (see Tip #5 for a visual of how the seams meet). If you want to be fastidious about it, you can alternate pressing directions when you are assembling your strip sets.

Tip #4: Checking your 45 degree angle. As you cut your strips from your assembled set, your 45 degree angle may start to stray from a true 45 degree. Check you 45 degree along a few “interior” seams to avoid your angle from “creeping”. If it’s starting to creep, trim off a bit to make it true again.

What a creep! The 45 degree angle is off after a couple of cuts.
Always check at a few interior seams to see if your 45 degree is on.

Tip #4: Diamond piecing. If you are sewing two diamond shapes together, mark a 1/4″ seam allowance on the back of one to get them to line up properly. Finger press the seam before pressing gently with an iron. Using a 1/4″ seam guide helps here.

This is how two 45 degree diamonds go together.

Tip #5: Matching points. When it comes time to join two diamond strips together, mark a 1/4″ seam allowance on the back of one strip. I mark at the intersections only.

Align your strips, right sides together. When you fold back one layer right on that 1/4″ line, your to seams should make a nice diagonal like this:

Want to see that again? Here:

Pin them in place and sew.

See? Lone Stars are so worth the effort. Go for it and don’t look back!

Tutorial: Aligning a Pieced Binding to Your Quilt Top

You’ve made your quilt top. You’ve made it through basting. You’ve got it quilted. It looks great. And now for the binding. I love it when every detail of a quilt points to a unified concept and the binding is the icing on the cake.

For Our Song, Your Reflection, the binding adds a visual interpretation of the music that goes with Meaghan Smith’s song. For Snow City, the binding really made the quilt. For Everyone’s Got an X, the binding adds serifs to the typographic X. These are bindings that not just protect the edges of the quilt, but extend the design idea right to the edge of the quilt. So how do you make the binding line up with the design of your quilt?

Pieced binding matches to the left and right, where the water meets the sky in Our Song, Your Reflection. Photo by Deborah Wong.

General RULES of THUMB

  • However many points have to match is how many separate binding strips you’ll have.
  • Join the binding strips where it “doesn’t matter”.

Here’s a mini-landscape that was bound with different binding on the land portion versus the sky.

I needed to match two key points on the quilt, one to the left and one to the right. So I started by making two separate strips of binding that were pieced.

When piecing binding, use a shorter stitch length to prevent your thread from showing. Press your seam open (I never press my seams open unless I’m piecing binding!). This will be give you a less bulky seam than if you press to one side.

Line up the raw edges with the edge of the quilt and aligning that matched point where the land meets the sky. Pin.

Starting in the sky area, attach the binding with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Turn the corner like you normally would. Stop part way along the bottom edge and backstitch.

Next, you will be attaching the binding in the other direction, but “blindly” — with the binding beneath the quilt.

Turn the corner as you normally would.

Remove the quilt from your machine. Flip to the right side of the quilt and prep and fold your corner. Pin.

Attach the binding, again with the wrong side of the quilt facing up and the binding underneath. After a few inches, stop and backstitch. Remove the quilt from your machine.

Repeat with the other strip of binding

Now you can join the same colour strips with a 45-degree seam, just as you would when finishing a “normal” quilt.

Finish by hand or by machine. Voilà! Don’t forget to admire your handiwork!

Tutorial: Skinny Strips and Inset Seaming for the 2019 QuiltCon Charity Challenge

The call for 2019 QuiltCon charity quilts is twin-sized group quilts in a specific colourway (above) using this year’s theme, small piecing. The guild that I am a part of, the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild, will be submitting a quilt and we will incorporate the theme in two ways: Improv skinny strip sets and “inset seaming” (itty bitty ~1/8″ insets!). First, we will make strip “slabs” and secondly, we’ll inset them into a block. This tutorial is geared specifically to the charity are making as a guild, but of course, feel free to try out this technique on your own.

MMQGers: Each participant will make four blocks, all with the same background colour. The blocks will have 1, 2, 3, and 4 inset seams respectively. We will use the leftover strip slabs in the final composition of the quilt, so please hand those in along with your completed blocks. Please have your blocks handed in by September’s MMQG meeting: Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018.

Stephanie Ruyle of Spontaneous Threads is the authority of the topic of “inset seaming” in quilting and here is what she says:
Inset seaming is a technique I’ve adapted and applied to quilting but it originates from a couture sewing technique used to place delicate thin strips of fragile lace/ other delicate fabrics into garments such as lingerie and special occasion wear. Inset seaming in quilting allows you to place very thin strips of fabric into a larger piece of fabric (or pieced quilt top). Once you get comfortable with this technique you can inset fabric strips of 1/8th of an inch wide (sometimes even less as you get better).”

I have my own instructions below that are specific to this quilt, but Stephanie’s tutorial is a great reference if you need another set of instructions to wrap your head around the technique.

Skinny strip slabs and inset seams

Yields 4 blocks, 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ unfinished

Fabric requirements
  • (4) 10 1/2″ x 9″ background fabric for blocks a single (your choice). This is roughly one fat quarter divided into 4 quarters.
  • (16-18) 18″ long strips of the remaining palette colours in solid fabrics, ranging from 3/4″ to 1 1/2″ in width
  • Spray starch (optional)
  • Disappearing fabric marker (optional)
  • Seam ripper, a key tool for inset seaming!
  • Washable glue stick
  • Zipper foot
  • Standard straight stitch foot
Making Skinny Strip Slabs
  1. Lay out your strips in whatever order you want.
  2. Piece them together. Press in one direction. Don’t worry if the strips are a bit wonky or if the slab is not quite rectangular. Use starch to make your strips and seams lay flat. Your final “slab” will need to be at least 9″ wide. Keep adding strips until you’ve reached a 9″ width.

Cut the Inset Fabric

The strip slab is now your “inset fabric”. Cut (10) 1″ strips.

Inset Seaming

Each block will have 1, 2, 3, and 4  inset seams going in one direction only. We will not cross the inset seams for this design. They do not have to be parallel, but most all go from one side to the opposite side.

  1. Orient your rectangle horizontally. Draw a vertical-ish line where you want your inset seam to go (marking it is optional – you can just wing it in Step 2).
  2. Fold and press along that line.

  1. With the longest stitch available on your machine and a 1/4″ seam allowance, baste a line along the folded edge. Err on the side of a generous 1/4″ seam allowance rather than a scant 1/4″.

  1. Slice the fold off. We want to remove the fold without removing much fabric.
  2. Press the seam open.

  1. Apply a line of glue (gluestick or preferred glue basting technique) on the opened part of the seam allowance. Try to keep the glue away from the centre basted seam. (Trust me, the glue will be revealed if it’s sloppy and although it’s not too obvious to the eye, it’s a bit crusty to the touch!)

  1. Place your 1″ inset fabric on top of the glued seam, face down. Iron from both sides to set it in place.

  1. Install your your zipper foot. And reset your stitch length to normal.
  2. Flip the right side of the background fabric to the left (see images below). You will be sewing through one layer of the striped inset and one layer of the background fabric. The basting stitch should be to your left.

  1. Using your zipper foot, sew a line parallel and close to the the basted seam. The distance basted seam and this line is about half the width of your inset. No need to be fastidious with this measurement for these blocks; we’re just aiming for skinny, no specific width.

  1. Repeat on the other side of the basted seam.

This is what the back looks like when both sides of the inset seam are complete.

  1. And now the fun part! Place your block face up. Use your seam ripper and carefully remove the basting stitches.
  2. Pull the seam and glue apart and iron open with the help of some steam. There might be glue in the seam, which will wash out later on.

  1. Repeat for each additional inset seam in the block, making sure they’re all running the same direction but not necessarily parallel. Once you feel comfortable with the technique, batch each step together to avoid having to change stitch lengths and and presser feet constantly.
  2. Trim your block to 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ square.

Have fun!

Tutorial: How to Chain Piece Rows

You know that moment when you’ve cut all your pieces for a project and you’re ready to sew, sew, sew? It’s the go-time moment. I think we all love this part – when we can just feed that beautiful fabric through the machine in one long chain. We can apply that chain piecing method to rows of a quilt top. It’s a technique where you don’t have to stop to snip your threads between each block. If you can skip a step, why wouldn’t you – right?

This technique of chain piecing rows is sometimes it’s called “web piecing”. It can be applied to a large quilt top, using a design wall or your floor (see note below about a larger quilt). The mini quilt shown above, which measures 9.5″ x 9.5″ unfinished (9″ x 9″ finished), is a perfect little sample to show you how this method works. The pattern is Thorn and Thistle by Briar Hill Designs and is part of their 2018 Coast to Coast Quilt Along.

So here we go.

Chain Piecing Rows [Web Piecing]

  1. Lay out your blocks in the final arrangement.
  2. Sew Column 1 to Column 2 in a chain.
  3. Finger press your seams to one side, alternating directions at each row.
  4. Add Column 3 to the first two columns of assembled blocks.
  5. Finger press these seams in the same direction as the seams between Column 1 and Column 2. We want all the seams in a single row to go in one direction.
  6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 until you’ve added all your columns. You’ll have a “web” of rows, all attached together.
  7. Turn on your iron.
  8. Sew Row A to Row B, nesting your seams.
  9. With your iron, press your seam to one side.
  10. Sew your Row 1/Row 2 assembly to Row C.
  11. Press your this seam to one side, in the same direction as Step 9.
  12. Repeat Steps 10 and 11 until your whole quilt top is assembled.

Check out this quick little video to help you visualize how chain piecing your rows works:

Setting your seams. Some of you might like to set your seams before you press them to one side, which can improve the accuracy of your quilt top. If you want to do that, you can do that between Steps 2 and 3, and then again between Steps 8 and 9. My personal preference is to set my seams when I am assembling the completed rows, but not for the individual blocks.

Larger quilts. When you’re working with a mini, you can lay out your blocks right next to your sewing machine on your tabletop. For larger quilts, lay out your blocks on a design wall or on the floor. You’ll want to stack up columns before moving them over to your machine. Here’s another video where you can see that in action.


English Paper Piecing & Watercolour on Fabric

I took a intro English Paper Piecing (EPP) workshop with Jenn of Quarter Inch from the Edge earlier this summer and found it to be a very satisfying process. Since then, I pondered what project would be good to explore EPP. I dabbled in fussy cutting, more linear rather than radial arrangements, solid colours — but nothing felt quite “me” untiI I listened to an interview with Ashley Nickels on the Crafty Planner podcast. I have been since following her Instagram feed closely and got a flash of inspiration late one night, a few days before my family vacation to California. I “needed” a travel project (right?), so I embarked to English paper piece some watercolour fabric.

First EPP attempt. I thought that the painted fabric would be a good background for it, but the intensity of the solids was too much for the airy watercolours.

Before I started working with fabric, watercolour was my favourite medium. It is quick and portable. The best part of it is the edge – where the colour meets the toothy, water-absorbent, weighty watercolour paper. That’s where some serious magic happens. As I was gawking at Ashley’s watercolour quilts that fateful night, I went down some Instagram rabbit hole and stumbled upon an image of some watercoloured paper hexagons featuring this very beautiful edge phenomenon. When I woke up the next day, I could not for the life of me find that image again. I searched for days and came up with nothing. Maybe it was a dream.

Ashley’s original technique uses fabric dyes to achieve vibrant and intense colours (check out her Creativebug class). I prefer low-stakes experiments when I’m starting out, so not spending a lot of money on paint and fabric helped me jump right into this process rather than having to figure out “proper” or best way to do things. I found this tutorial by Cami Graham of Tidbits and loosely followed it. I used some very old watercolour tube paints and Martha Stewart fabric medium, which turns any paint into fabric paint. For fabric, I used an old white pillowcase that was very much past its prime.

The painting process was quick and dirty.  I modified Cami’s process a bit to make sure that I got those edges that I seeking. It took me very little time, maybe half an hour or so. After air-drying the fabric, I machine-washed and dried it. It ended up losing some colour, but still retained those important edges.

I randomly cut the fabric into squares, then prepared the hexies for my very long three-leg journey from the East Coast of Canada to SoCal. I brought baby nail clippers to cut thread in place of scissors, in hopes that security would not confiscate them at the airport (and they didn’t!). After entertaining my boys for a bit of first plane ride, I pulled out the hexies. Some had the “edge” and some were all painted. I played with them like a puzzle, trying to line up the edge from hexagon to hexagon. And then…A coastline appeared. That’s what I was looking for; I just didn’t know it.

See the tiny islands in the sea to the left?

Inspiration comes from lots of places. This time it came from other artists, rabbit holes, and playing around. What will become of this piece? I have no idea. Will it become a series? I would like that. Will I return to it? I hope so. But for now, it will have to sit on the backburner.

Free Motion Quilting Clouds and “The Quilter’s Path” with Christa Watson

Christa Watson is a quilter, teacher and designer based in Las Vegas, NV. I took her Craftsy class, “The Quilter’s Path”, having only ever taken a 5-hour quilting workshop with Linda Coolen Smith of our local modern quilt guild. I needed lots of help understanding the limits and possibilities of walking foot and free motion quilting, and Christa’s class was a great place to start.

The class is divided into 6 lessons, between 18 and 26 minutes each. The class comes with downloadable resources, including a printable supply list and the Pinwheels Quilt pattern, pictured above (40″ x 56″). The class starts with walking foot designs using basic grids then moves to more complicated designs such as a walking foot spiral. Christa then moves into free motion designs such as spirals and meanders, and then combines the FMQ with walking foot designs.

It’s fun to watch her teach and everything seems to make perfect sense. Two things that I especially appreciate about Christa’s class: 1) The way she uses test block to practise and try out a design, and 2) The way she shows you how to apply the design to a larger quilt. Testing is an approach that I like to use in my own work, but of late, have forgotten about it and have suffered the consequences! Another thing to do before you delve into quilting a larger piece is to plan your path first. I am fine with quilting small blocks but have little experience with manoeuvring larger quilts. Christa shows you how to plan your quilting path to first anchor your quilt and then fill in with more density and detail. This is an error I have made recently with my Color Flocks quilt; I started way too dense and now I have to persevere through to the very end of a density marathon to finish this sample.

Christa also encourages you to sketch your quilting before you do it. This rote motor practice helps when it comes time to actually stitch with your machine.

My obsession with free motion clouds has been greatly helped by “The Quilter’s Path.” I took Christa’s “elongated swirls”, where you echo along the tail of a spiral motif, and doodled about 8 pages’ worth of cloud designs with the swirls as the starting point. It gave me lots of practice figuring out how to travel around the surface of the quilt. Paper is much less expensive than fabric and less of a time commitment, so “sketch twice, FMQ once,” or something of the sort!

Responsiveness is the marker of great service and a great teacher. I asked Christa a question via the Craftsy platform about how to approach the background and she responded within 24 hours of my post. I appreciated the quick turnaround and it makes me want to take another class! It is very apparent that Christa really wants you to succeed with your quilting and feel confident enough to progress to the next level.

For you readers, Christa is offering 50% off her class when you sign up via this link. The discount will show up when you add the class to your cart; it expires October 5, 2017. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Plan the overall quilting design, sketch the quilting design, then quilt away!


Tutorial: Quick Improv Pincushion

Remember the binge I went on last week that resulted in eight pincushions that illustrated a glossary of colour terms? Here’s how I made them. These use the tiniest of scraps; each measures 1″ wide and 2″ to 3″ long. And they’re so quick and satisfying.

I don’t know how you organize your scraps, but my usable strips are in a very classy plastic grocery bag and shoved at the bottom of a drawer. This is what it looks like when you open the bag. It’s like snakes in a can, but colourful. Mostly solids, of course, as I have trouble with a lot of pattern. This is not exactly a scrapbusting project, as you will put only the smallest of dents in your scrap bag, but it’s great to experiment with colour and fabric combinations. Tiny little tests. I like tests, as seen here and here.

Fabric / Supply Requirements:

  • 12 scraps of fabric, 1″ wide by 2″ to 3″ long
  • One (1) scrap for back of the cushion, approx. 4″ x 4.5″
  • Two (2) scraps of batting, measuring roughly 4″ x 4.5″ (You know when you square up a quilt and you end up with a strip of batting? This is what you can use it for.)
  • Crushed walnut shells
  • Funnel
  • Poking device (like scissor tips, chopstick, etc.) for turning
  • Scooping device, for walnut shells
  • Needle and thread

I selected an orange and white palette, mixing in a linen/canvas print from Carolyn Friedlander’s Euclid collection. It was also my backing fabric.

  1. Arrange your 12 scraps in two rows of six. Play around until you are satisfied. Look here for more combos and arrangements. It doesn’t matter that they are not all the same length; there is plenty of room to trim off the differences later on.

  1. Place your first two scraps together at a 90 degree angle. Sew at a 45 degree angle (right, image above), like you would two pieces of binding. You can mark the 45 degree line first if you prefer, but it’s such a short distance to sew that you can eyeball it. See how I line it up with my foot in the photo below; aim for that bottom corner and you’ll be fine!

  1. Chain piece the remaining 5 pairs in the same manner.

  1. Press your seams to one side.

  1. Join each strip to its adjacent one to make three pairs. I try to stagger the 45 degree angles so they don’t line up.

  1. Join the pairs till you have them all assembled. Press.

  1. Trim raggedy edges so that the height of your small panel is 3.5″. It will be not quite 4″ wide.

  1. Cut your batting to slightly larger than your panels, both front and back. (See that strip of batting at the bottom left? It’s an off-cut from squaring up a quilt.)
  2. Time to quilt it! I did quick straight lines just to the side of each vertical seam. Start at the middle and work your way outward.
  3. Repeat with the back piece.

  1. Trim both the front and the back to 4″ wide by 3.5″. You’ll notice hear that your panel is less that 4″ wide. Centre the 4″ so that there is an even amount of batting to either side, as pictured below.

I love that this Carolyn Friedlander Euclid print in linen canvas “fades” toward the selvedge; a leftover from this project.

  1. Sew the front and back together, right sides together, leaving a 2″ opening. Mine was 2.5″ which I found to big to get crisp corners when I turned it right side out.
  2. Trim the corners and turn right side out using your “poking device.” I use a Japanese chopstick, which tapers at the end.

  1. Use your fingers to tuck the open edge into line with the seam line. Press.

  1. Time to fill it up! Crushed walnut shells add some weight to your cushion and also prevent your pins from dulling when you repeatedly poke them into the pin cushion. I use a funnel and something to scoop from the bowl. Fill to about halfway.

  1. Use a whipstitch to close your cushion. Only go about halfway, till the tip of your funnel just fits.

  1. Fill it up the rest of the way. Scrunch down the shells as much as possible with the tip of your funnel. Try to fill it up as much as you can manage, while still allowing a little space to finish up your whipstitch.
  2. Continue with your whipstitch till the cushion is sealed. Tie a knot, bury the thread and trim.

All done! Now isn’t it so unbelievably adorable?

Tutorial: No Waste Flying Geese

I hate wasting fabric. It’s probably a function of my upbringing. The traditional way of making flying geese is pretty wasteful. And there is a better way. It’s well-known, but I wanted to provide my own tutorial anyway. Time-saving techniques such as chain piecing and cutting multiples make these go faster.

I have made hundreds in the last two weeks. For this tutorial, I used a single V&Co Ombre fabric in Lagoon. I wanted to achieve a gradient effect for my Color Flocks pattern without using 30 different solid colours. The Color Flocks pattern calls for 1 1/2″ x 3″ geese; this mini 20″ x 20″ has a total of 53 geese.

The following cutting chart shows what you need to make 4 geese at once. The photos in this tutorial shows 2 sets made at once, for a total of 8 geese. The triangles or “geese” are coloured, and the background or “sky” is white.

 1/2” x 1” 1 5/8” x 1 5/8” 2 1/2” x 2 1/2”
3/4” x 1 1/2” 1 7/8” x 1 7/8” 3” x 3”
1” x 2” 2 1/8” x 2 1/8” 3 1/2” x 3 1/2”
1 1/2” x 3” 2 5/8” x 2 5/8” 4 1/2” x 4 1/2”
2” x 4” 3 1/8” x 3 1/8” 5 1/2” x 5 1/2”
2 1/2” x 5” 3 5/8” x 3 5/8” 6 1/2” x 6 1/2”
3” x 6” 4 1/8” x 4 1/8” 7 1/2” x 7 1/2”
4” x 8” 5 1/8” x 5 1/8” 9 1/2” x 9 1/2”
5” x 10” 6 1/8” x 6 1/8” 11 1/2” x 11 1/2”
6” x 12” 7 1/8” x 7 1/8” 13 1/2” x 13 1/2”

Yields 8 geese, 1 1/2″ x 3″

Fabric requirements:
– (2) 4 1/2″ squares of the goose colour
– (8) 2 5/8″ squares of the sky colour

  1. Mark the white squares with a diagonal line. I like to use a mechanical pencil; the thin graphite leaves little room for error along your ruler’s edge.
  2. Align two white squares on opposite corners on the colour fabric.
    (Alternatively, align your white squares on the colour fabric, then mark a diagonal).
  3. Sew a scant 1/4″ seam to either side of the line. I chain piece along one side, then turn the whole string around and chain piece the other side before snipping them apart.

  1. With your rotary cutter, cut along the marked line. (I wish I had picked an ombre fabric that was not so close to the colour of my cutting mat! Considered it a play on the monochromatic theme.)

  1. Press the seams away from the “goose” colour. (Ooo, a heart!)

  1. Align one white square with the colour corner.
  2. Again, sew a scant 1/4″ seam to either side of the line. Chain piece them for maximum efficiency. Snip the chain apart.

  1. Stagger a row of four units on your cutting mat. To keep them straight, align the marked line along a gridline on your mat (not pictured!).
  2. Using a sharp blade, cut along the marked line. In one single cut, you’ve cut all four at once! Be sure to keep strong pressure on the ruler along the whole length of the 4 geese. I do not recommend doing more than four at a time; the accuracy of the cut decreases quite a bit if you go beyond four.

  1. Press away from the coloured goose.

  1. Square up your geese to the unfinished size; 2″ x 3 1/2″ in this case. I use a Bloc Loc ruler to accomplish a 1/4″ allowance from the goose’s point, but you can use a regular ruler with a marked 1/4″. (Note: I don’t actually have the right sized Bloc Loc, but the point’s 1/4″ seam allowance can be achieved with any Bloc Loc Flying Geese ruler.)

  1. When using a regular ruler, be sure to align the goose’s point with mid-point of your unfinished size. For a finished width of 3″, my unit is 3 1/2″ unfinished. Therefore, I line up the goose’s point at 1 3/4″ on my ruler.

Geese! Four at a time, no waste, as quick as possible. Since I used the Ombre fabric, I arranged a set of five from darkest to lightest to get the gradient effect. Now go make a Canada Geese Flag with your no-waste skills.