1. scrappy log cabin block
So today we made a scrappy log cabin quilt block, one of my favourite ways of creating a quilt block.
Here are the step by step instructions:
Start with a small ish square, about 1″ is ideal. This will be your central block so a fun picture can be really eye catching. You wiull need to make sure the edges of the fabrics you are stitching together are straight, but other than that there’s no measuring at all! Find a piece of fabric that is at least as wide as the bit that you are attaching it to and line up the two straight edges. I use about 3/8″ seam allowance, or the distance between my needle and the edge of the foot is usually a perfect width too! Now stitch the two together. No need for back stitching! Then whilst your fabric is still laying face to face cut your new fabric in line with the first one like in poicture 3. Now fold open the seam and finger press or iron it open.
Next you will add another strip to the two you have already joined, going out in a spiral. Pick a direction and try to stick to it (as in, clock or anti clockwise). Line up the edges, stitch, cut along tyhe edge of the old block and the new fabric, and fold open the seam. Then cut the width of your new piece to one that worls well with the size of the pieces you are joining. Try to cut a straight edge here, or use a rotary cutter and ruler, or rip it. (photo 4).
Add another strip to the next edge of the unit you have now created, again spiraling our in your chosen direction. If you forget where to add next you should add it to the edge that has three fabrics rather than two! And if you get it wrong that is ok too! Stitch, cut the edges, fold open and cut the new oiece to the right width. Etc etc until your block is a size you love! You can join multiple blocks into a quilt or make mini quilts into pot holders, they make great presents!
For heat resistant wadding I use Insul-Bright, it makes your mini quilt mostly heat resistant and especially folded double its fine for taking hot trays out of the oven etc, and you can use them as trivets too. Below is the link to the wadding on Amazon
Here are some more photos of log cabin blocks
Next week’s class
For next week we shall be learning a more formal technique, and we will be using small squares to join into rows and then into a mini quilt. If you don’t have a fabric pack from me please cut some 2.5-3″ squares, ideally a nice selecrtion of fabrics, we will be using none per block, so at least 2 different fabrics. If you got a pack you may find some of the squares slightly bigger than others, if you can cut them all down to the smallest size that would be grreat. You will also need some sharp pins and if possible an iron and board or ironing mat. But I won’t have one to hand so don’t worry if you don’t either, you can always iron after! You will need some sharp scissors, either embroidery ones or larger fabric shears. I can order these in but will need plenty of notice, or you can find nice scissors on Amazon etc too.
2. Patchwork squares – 17th February class
Hope you enjoyed that! Just to recap, it is important here to be accurate, to stick to a consistent seam allowance so your squares all end the same size after stitching together, and you can get the seams to line up with you stitch the rows together. BUT if you can’t or wont then you can just make up rows of a combo of squares and rectangles and that way nothing needs to line up, hurrah!
I normally mark my seam allowance with masking tape, but for quilting I often just use the edge of the foot, this will normally give you around 3/8″ of seam allowance which I find perfect for quilting. I’d ignore the quilting feet etc that will mark a 1/4″ seam as it is in my experience far too small for a durable quilt although you can decrease the stitch length to 2 or even less to make the seam stronger.
The main thing is to never just line your rows up and start sewing. Even without seams etc this isnt a good idea as fabric is stretchy and you will guaranteed end up with two strips that suddenly arent the same size any more! Always pin the beginning and the end and if there are seam lines also line these up and pin through the stitch line. If you need to strecth your patches between pins then add a further pin in between the two alredy there. You can strecth fabric quite a bit and yet not see this after you have stitched, just use pins to anchor it all.
You can do really lovely things with the nine patch block we made last night, here are just ideas:
This link has tons of cool and easy and FREE quilt patterns for beginners: /https://www.scatteredthoughtsofacraftymom.com/25-free-beginner-quilt-patterns/
Pre-cuts are a quick way to take the pain out of cutting and gathering fabrics for quilts. Shops will bundle together fabrics by theme, colour or range from a designer, so you can quickly get lots of different fabrics that will work nicely toigether without having to fork out for many meters of fabric or spending hours online buying fabric, and obviously they are already accurately cut too! There are a variety of different cuts, standard ones such as jelly rolls (a chunky roll of 40 2.5″ strips, often enough for a small quilt), charm packs are 5″ squares sold in packs of 42, you can combine packs to make up enought for a quilt, packs of 10″ squares, and then you can buy FQ (fat quarters), which is a quarter of a yard, for you to cut up yourself or use whole (A bit big in my view but it would sew up super quick haha!). On Ebay you will find individual sellers who will also sell other sizes and larger packs and will have put together packs from vintage fabrics or their own stash etc so the range is often much bugger than in fabric shops. Some shops I have used are https://www.backstitch.co.uk/fabric/quilting-cotton/bundles-cuts and https://quiltroom.co.uk/quiltshop/fabrics/pre-cut-fabrics/ and I also have used Etsy extensively in the past. But many shops will sell precuts, just have a look.
You can obviously make blocks or as big or small as you want but it really affects how the quilt looks and how long it takes to create. Huge blocks make a quick quilt but need a very special fabric to not make it look too simple, tiny patches can look interesting but take an absolute age to stitch together! There was a craze years ago for 1″ square quilts, someome dubbed them vomit quilts and to me that stuck haha, they looked a mess really. For larger quilts I wouild not go smaller than 4″, 5″ is a good size and easily purchased as a pre cut, 10″ can look good if you make wise chjoices, maye a very large pattern which would be lost in small patches.
When we get a bit further along and start making triangles etc you can find some very traditional block pattern that can look amazing when massively scaled up, see photo below.
Here is a useful link to standard quilt sizes. I do often adjust these depending on how much overhang you want or can accomodate on your bed. https://www.quiltingdaily.com/suggested-quilt-measurements-for-common-standard-bed-sizes/
3 Wonky Stars
In the last session we talked abhout and created triangles. I showed you how to make Flying Geese blocks but we did not practise these as it would have meant you pre-cutting exactly the right size blocks. Here is an excellent tutorial on various ways of making flying geese blocks. They look super cute in quilts so well worth practising them! https://kristinesser.com/2018/07/12/how-to-make-a-flying-geese-block-5-different-ways/
We then made wonky triangle blocks and finally wonky star blocks. Here are some pictures of the blocks you and I created as well as a whole quilt of wonky stars!
3. Instructions for making wonky star blocks:
This is a slightly different method to the one I used but actually it is much less wasteful, so I’m including it here. There is always the danger though that your newly made triangle isn’t quite big enough so if in doubt pin it along the stitch line and flip it open to check, or use whole squares lined up exactly with the back ground square like I showed you.
Ignore me not talking about chosing back ground fabrics carefully , some of you did during the class anyway) because if you use a different, patterned fabric to sew the triangle onto, and not one that is the same as the other outer blocks, what you will end up with something that isnt visually speaking a star at all ask me how I know haha!)
I’ve mentioned in passing that our next session is the last one, I am more than happy to carry on, to convert it to a more sew-along style class or whatever you guys want to do. Please let me know though! Here is the link to the next month of quilt classes: https://ticketlab.co.uk/dashboard/events
Here is a little bit of homework for you all, so you are ready to bind your miniquilts, if that is what you want to do with them. If you would rather not use your blocks you can create some mini quilts to practice on by just using two whole piueces of fabric instead of one being a quilted block.
Mini quilt sandwich: You will need your quilt top, some lovely backing fabric the same size, and some wadding also the same size. It does not need to be official wadding, I have useed cheap IKEA fleece blankets and wool blankets, they work perfectly well! I will have a little bit on wadding below.
Layer your 3 pieces as follows: backing face down, then wadding, then your top facing up. To quilt these together you can just stitch any pattern you want, straight lines, use a zigzag or other fancy stitches, you can do freemotion stitching if you have a darning foot (you want me to do a session on the stitching) I can add the links to the feet you will need or I can supply them as long as I get some notice!
When your mini quilt is done, cut all the edges neatly, maybe use a ruler to square them off, Then create a binding strip 2 wide, about 5 times as long as one side of your block is long. You cn either use one fabric or make it a patchwork one, kee your seam allowances VERY small if so so its not super bulky.
There are lots of different kinds of wadding you can buy, at lots of different price points. There is synthetic of different qualities, natural wadding made of cotton, wool or bamboo or a combination of any of these.Synthetic wadding is a good sturdy choice, it can cope with lots of washing, it can cope with not being quilted too densely, and produces a nice lofty quilt. It is also cheap. But I suggest you buy it in person as synthetic wadding can also be dense and stiff if it actually meant for upholstery and it can be hard to tell what it will be like if you buy it online. Unless you buy it from a fabric shop and it is labeled as specific quilt wadding! Natural wadding is gorgeous and soft and ideal for young children and babies if you worry about them sleeping under something plasticky. It will produce a much thinner quilt than the synthetic wadding and will clump if you don’t quilt the lines close enough together and it is then washed. It will tell you on the packaging but it is usually something like 6-8″ apart at the most. Which may or may not be an issue for you but you have to be aware of it. Of course it being a much thinner wadding means it will be possible to quilt a bigger quilt on a domestic machine, something that may not be possible with a thicker wadding. When you do buy synthetic wadding and there is a choice in weight go for the 4oz one, any thinner and it may be a bit too thin (although you could use it for a larger quilt then perhaps!), any thicker and it becomes impossible to work with or far too dense
4. Week four, BINDING FUN!
I bave also recorded a video and backed it up with photos. Of course there are other ways to add binding and you can certainly do the last lot of stitching by hand but I find this the quickest and neatest. I use a strip ripped from a legth of fabric (NOT cut on the bias, that is only needed if you bind a quilt with rounded corners), and tend to make mine about 2″ wide. This gives me a final binding about 1/2″ wide which visually I find the best size, but whatever size you fancy, cut a strip 4 times that width, less if you are happy to make the final fold much smaller (this is less easy to measure and keep accurate though, when you are folding as you go).
https://player.vimeo.com/video/520019729 password quilt
Next course options:
We have some options. I definititely want to start with the bit we skipped before, because I was eager to get the binding in in case any of you did not want to continue. And that is the actual quilting the layer together!
- You can use straight stitching, zigzags or other funky stitches, free motion stiching, hand stitching, tieying, or a combo thereof. For free motion stitching you will need a darning foot that fits your machine. Most machines have a universal fit but some vintage machines have a longer stem for the foot to fit to (low shank) and some have an angled one. Bernina machines have a unique fit completely. So do ask if you aren’t sure if you can fit a bog standard foot to your machine. I can sell you a darning foot, or I can rent out the darning foot and walking foot (see below), but obviously I will need to know asap! Walking feet are special feet that feed all the layers of fabric through the same, which is especially important if you have a quilt sandwhich. Without this you will find your quilt top stretches and distorts against the wadding and backing and it’s a massive pain. You can get away with it on smaller quilts but definitely not on larger ones.
I would like to make this the first class of the new course. I appreciate many of you won’t have a darning foot by this stage but as there is a lot to cover that isn’t an issue, as always there is videos to re-watch and this may be better to do in a quiet moment alone anyway! Free motion stitching isn’t just a great way to quilt, it is also a fabulous way to create stitched art, I will post some photos below!
- I also want to cover english paper piecing, this is using paper shapes to cut and stitch fabric around, usually by hand, often using hexagons. A very different pace for a class! I will send everyone some paper shapes or hexagons to download and print off, not worked that one out yet! Let me know if you don’t have access to a printer.
- Another thing I would love to cover is foundation paper piecing. Using paper, but also a sewing machine, this is a technique that is quite time consuming, but you can achieve super accurate shapes, and it also takes all the thinking out of your sewing, you just add fabric, stitch, cut to size, and repeat, much like the log cabins but much more precise. Again let me know if you want me to post the paper pattern or whether you can print it off at home.
- It would be cool to cover curved quilt blocks, they look a bit terrifying but are really not that hard and open up a whole world!
- Some people have said they would like to cover applique, I love this too, so that would be great.
- I would like to show you how I lay out and baste a large quilt but I can just film this and add it to this page, it doesn’t need to be in a class.