This week’s quilt block of the 2019 Summer Sampler is “Altitude” and features a mountainous landscape with the most beautiful sky you can imagine behind it.
I designed this block to help you cut and assemble 45 degree diamonds. The result is a dynamic block that would look lovely in scrappy fabrics or in your most carefully curated collection of hues.
A small hurdle to get this block assembled is learning to cut your diamonds. The orientation of your fabric and ruler is something to get used to. Here’s a video on how to do it, including how to mark your ruler with tape to make it go a bit faster:
An easy way to spruce up your embroidery hoop for display is to wrap it. It brings the final product up a level for a finished look without using too much fabric or effort. When you’ve worked hard on a piece such as Canned Pineapples, it’s nice to give it a little extra touch.
Wrapping the hoop adds a bit of grip to the outer hoop to improve the tension of the embroidered piece. The results will make the framed work look its best!.
Choose a ribbon or fabric that compliments the main piece. In this Canned Pineapples hoop quilt, I used a fabric from the same fabric collection as the main fabric of the quilt block. It automatically complements the main fabric and brings out some of the greens in the quilt block.
Cut your wrapping fabric into 1/2″ strips. For a 12″ hoop, I cut 8 strips off a fat quarter.
Separate your embroidery hoop into the inner hoop and the outer hoop. We will only be wrapping the outer one. Starting at the hardware of the hoop, wrap a fabric strip around the hoop. Start on the inner side, and wrap the fabric around to overlap and secure the strip in place. No glue is necessary.
Adding more strips: When you come to the end of a strip, you can tuck a second strip under the first and wrap it around to overlap both strips.
Continue till you come full circle to the hoop hardware again. Trim the excess off so the end is on the inside of the hoop and hold it firmly. Use a clip to hold the fabric in place while you get your glue or needle/thread ready.
Glue or stitch the end in place.
Snip away any “fly-aways” to get it neatened up. Alternatively, you can do this after the embroidered piece is framed.
In this post, you’ll get an idea of how to make some simple embroidery stitches to complete your Canned Pineapples hoop quilt! We’ll cover a back stitch, woven wheel stitch, and a running stitch. I’m not an expert in this realm, but I sure have fun adding these embellishments to my block.
Looking for info on picking fabric colours and how to finish your hoop? Check out these useful posts:
Most of us imagine embroidery work is done in a hoop. It makes sense: The fabric is held in place at a consistent tension, just taut enough. I found that since I interface my block before I embroider, it’s possible to skip the hoop since the fabric is stiffened. Up to you – do what feels comfortable for you!
To create the outline of the jar to “can” your pineapple blocks, you can use a simple back stitch. You will bring your needle up ahead of the stitch and insert back down at the start of the stitch. As always a picture is worth a thousand words.
Three tricks for the best-looking back stitch:
Make the line as straight as possible.
Keep your stitch length as consistent as possible.
Minimize the gaps between each stitch by inserting your needle in the exact same place as you brought the thread up.
Here’s a video of how that all works:
In the pattern, I suggest that you can use a stem stitch if you’re feeling fancy. The outline of the jar lid in this version uses a stem stitch. If you’re interested in learning more about that, join the 3rd Story Workshop Community on Facebook to access a video on how it!
Woven Wheel Stitch
This little round stitch gives a small rosette look and makes the lightning bugs around the central pineapple block ones. You will start with five spokes and weave them in a circular direction. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures (which… it literally is.)
The simplest of them all, the running stitch is a simple up and down through the fabric in a straight line. For your Canned Pineapples, you’ll go around your woven wheels to get the effect of radiating light!
The binding is a shining feature of the design of Everyone’s Got an X. It adds serifs to the top and bottom of the X, like a serifed typeface such as Garamond or Linotype Didot. It’s totally optional to do a piecing binding, but if want to give it a go, here are some things to keep in mind.
The method I use is attached the binding to the front of the quilt by machine and then hand-stitching it to the back. You could try machine-binding all the way, but this way, you can see that everything aligns well on the front.
When your X is all quilted, we first need to trim off the excess batting and backing. You’ll notice that the bar or the stripes may have bubbled outward a bit. This is because the edge is on a bias and has some stretch. Don’t worry, we can carefully trim it off, using the seam of your side borders as the reference for “true” right angles. Make sure your cut is perpendicular to those seams and you should be good to go. Don’t trim off much, just a tiny bit to correct the bulge. You should not need to trim off any of your background fabric (Fabric A).
What are serifs anyway? According to Wikipedia: “In typography, a serif is a small line or stroke regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter or symbol within a particular font or family of fonts. A typeface or “font family” making use of serifs is called a serif typeface (or serifed typeface), and a typeface that does not include them is a sans-serif one. We will be adding serifs to our X using the binding.
Time to piece the binding. Follow the directions in the pattern to join your binding pieces. Here are some tips:
Press your seams open. This will prevent extra bulk at each of the joins.
Use a shorter stitch length, like 1.2 or 1.5. This will hide any visible stitching as the binding gets tugged on.
You will have two identical strips of pieced binding. After they are pieced, fold and press them in half along the length of it:
There are only two places where we need to line up each binding strip with the quilt: In-between the arms of the X. Mark a 1/4″ from the edge of your quilt top.
Align your binding with the quilt, raw edges together; estimate where it should lie. Fold back the binding and check to see if the edges align at the 1/4″ mark. If not, fiddle until it does, then pin in place. Repeat with other point.
At first, sew only across those points and check to see if you are satisfied with your work. If not, you’ll only have to “unsew” a small section and redo it.
When you’ve got it right enough, sew in either direction and turn the corner as you would normally. One side you will have to do with the quilt back facing up, but you can find out how to do that here! Leave a generous tail for you to join the binding later. Repeat with the other binding strip.
It should look something like this! Join your tails as you would normally. And now sit down the couch, put on a show or a podcast and stitch that binding down on the back.
What is a scant 1/4″ seam allowance? Why do I need it? How do I get it? This post will answer all your questions about this quilting term!
What is it?
A scant 1/4″ seam allowance is a seam allowance that is ever so slightly narrower than one 1/4″ inch. You can notice here that where the seam folds in, the top of the assembly dips a little. A few of the fibres of the fabric that get swallowed up in that dip. A scant 1/4″ compensates for the loss of some fabric in the folds of a seam, so that the dimensions of your block remain true.
Why should I care?
See this block here? It’s from my newest pattern, Striped Scallops. There are eleven vertical seams in this 12 1/2″ (unfinished) block — ELEVEN! If you use a “true quarter inch” seam, you lose a little bit in each seam and by the end of it all, it’s noticeably smaller than that bottom rectangle, which has been accurately cut at 12 1/2″. See the teal block below.
In my experience, ignoring a scant 1/4″ is most noticeable and puzzling when a pattern has seams meeting a perpendicular (such as Banner Year and even a traditional log cabin). Multiple seams meeting at a single perpendicular, like in this Striped Scallops, exacerbate the issue. The tiny bites those seams take out your fabric start to add up!
How do I get it?
It’s a matter of testing! Cut six 2 1/2″ squares. It’s best to use contrasting fabrics and alternate them. Don’t follow my example of this six-squared gradient. Although it’s pretty, it’s harder to see what you’re looking for!
Sew the squares together into a row, using a reference that you think is a good 1/4″ seam allowance. This might be a tape line on your sewing machine, a 1/4″ foot, the edge of your normal foot. Press all the seams to one side or press them all open — whichever is your general preference. Get your ruler out and see what you’ve got.
The six squares above should theoretically add up to a row that measures 12 1/2″, right? It is actually only 12 1/8″! Yikes. If you look at the 8 1/2″ mark and follow the squares going to the left, you can see that each is a bit smaller than 2″. This means that the seam allowance is too big and I need to make it narrower.
Adjust your reference – move your tape line, change your sewing machine foot, or adjust your seam guide. I use a Janome Seam Guide (affiliate link) on my Juki. Repeat the exercise with new squares till you get accurate 2″ widths and the right overall length.
This one is five squares; each colour is 2″ and the overall length actually measures 10 1/2″. This is it! We’ve found it!
Keep a reference
I “recorded” this accurate scant 1/4″ on a postcard so that I can set up my seam guide in a jiffy. Once I found the scant 1/4″, I sewed a line on a postcard and labelled it. I keep it next to my sewing machine so if I have to set up my scant 1/4″ with my seam guide, it’s easy to find.
Pressing seams open vs. pressing seams to one side: This here is not a debate of which is better – open or to one side. Rather, I am telling you if you prefer pressing your seams to one side, make your scant test that way. If you are a press-open type, do your test with your seams open. Each method will yield different results because there is a differing amount of fabric folded under at the seam. No use testing in conditions that are not true to reality!
Different substrates: Different fabric manufacturers and different weights of fabric will have a different scant 1/4″ because of the amount of bulk at the seam. I usually use one manufacturer for a whole quilt and mostly in quilting cotton, so one test for that manufacturer usually suffices. If you like mixing manufacturers (and you should, it’s fun!), it gets a bit dicier. However, unless you are working with vastly different substrates — like cotton lawn and quilting cotton — you should be fine. Art Gallery has a noticeably different “hand” (different tactile feel to the fabric) because of its thread count so this may warrant some experimentation if you’re mixing it in. A linen/cotton blend is also noticeably heavier and will need another test.
This fabric is Spoonflower’s New Petal Signature Cotton. It felt a bit heavier than the quilting cottons I was used to using so I thought I should test it out with 5 x 2 1/2″ squares. And my hunch was right… I needed a narrower 1/4″ to get it to be accurate. This test doesn’t take too long, so if you’re in doubt, do a test with your chosen fabrics before you start a project. Especially if the project at hand is a higher-stakes one — high time or fabric investment!
There you have it. A scant 1/4″ seam allowance. It’ll help you with your accuracy!
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.
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.
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!
The traditional lone star quilt is the base for Our Song, Your Reflection. This 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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!
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.
“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
(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
Standard straight stitch foot
Making Skinny Strip Slabs
Lay out your strips in whatever order you want.
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.
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.
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).
Fold and press along that line.
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″.
Slice the fold off. We want to remove the fold without removing much fabric.
Press the seam open.
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!)
Place your 1″ inset fabric on top of the glued seam, face down. Iron from both sides to set it in place.
Install your your zipper foot. And reset your stitch length to normal.
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.
Using your zipper foot, sew a line parallel and close to the the basted seam. The distance basted seam and this line is abouthalf 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.
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.
And now the fun part! Place your block face up. Use your seam ripper and carefully remove the basting stitches.
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.
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.
School has already started up for many kids in the USA and here in Canada, we’re not too far off. I won some beautiful fat quarters from Stash Fabrics back in the spring. Now many of you know that I choose to use solid fabrics in my quilts over printed fabrics. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the beauty of the printed variety, I’m just less comfortable using it in my quilted work. So I decided to make some beeswax food wraps so I could appreciate their beauty in the everyday.
The ones I made are roughly 12″ square. In my research, I found that this size is pretty versatile. Bonus: This size fits well on my stove next to my melted wax and also fit nicely on my ironing board. I will make some smaller snack-sized ones in the future.
WARNING: This can be a messy process, so protect your kitchen surfaces with newsprint and/or parchment paper!
What you need
Prewashed cotton fabric, cut to approximately 12.5″ x 12.5″
100% beeswax pellets (I got mine from Amazon)
Clean and disposable waterproof can
Line a flat surface (minimum 13″ x 13″) near your stovetop with parchment paper. Lay a fabric square on top of the parchment.
Line your ironing board with a piece parchment paper that is roughly square and gives you a few inches around the 12.5″ square of fabric. My parchment was about 15″ x 15″.
Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup of beeswax pellets into the can. Make sure this can is waterproof; we don’t want any wax leeching into the water – it’s hard to clean up!)
Add a few inches of water to your pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low.
Make a “double boiler” by placing your can in the pot of hot water.
Using the chopsticks, stir the pellets around until they are melted.
Beeswax pellets beginning to melt.
Apply the melted beeswax all over the surface of the fabric with the brush. It doesn’t have to be a really thick layer, but you want to make sure the whole surface is touched by at least a little bit of wax. The wax cools fairly quickly, so work swiftly while trying not to splatter any melted wax around (it’s a pain to clean up!). Reload your brush with wax and apply as necessary to cover the whole surface.
Peel the fabric away from the parchment and let the fabric cool down completely.
Place the fabric on your lined ironing board and place another square of parchment on top.
Carefully iron your parchment-fabric-parchment sandwich. This spreads the wax more evenly across the fabric. BE CAREFUL: Do not let the plate of your iron reach the very edges of your parchment. If you have applied a heavy layer of wax, it will squeeze out towards the edges of your parchment. You actually do want to move your iron from the centre outward to remove excess wax, BUT keep an eye out so that you don’t get wax on your iron or ironing board.
Let it cool completely.
Peel the fabric away from the parchment.
Trim the edges of your beeswax wrap with your pinking shears for a nice finish. It keeps those edges from fraying.
When you’re using your wraps, the warmth of your hands will mould it around the food. Kris Warman from Shipshape Eatworthy notes that these DIY ones are a bit less “clingy” than the brand name Abeego wraps. But as in all things, we use them more if we’ve made them ourselves so I am loving these DIY ones.
To clean your wraps, use COLD soapy water, rinse, and air dry. Hot or warm water can cause the wax to melt and rinse away. I will lightly refurbish mine in a few months by re-ironing them between sheets of parchment to redistribute the wax again. For a more thorough refurbishment, I’ll reapply the beeswax using the same method described in this tutorial.
Enjoy your beautiful fabric while keeping your food fresh!
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