Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Quilt-a-Long, Part 2

Are you ready to start playing with all the fabric you've been cutting up? Me too! Today I'm going to tell/show you how to make 1 complete Pathway block. It's the only block you need for this quilt, so once you make one you'll know how to make them all.

The first step is actually to play with paper. We're going to draw a template on a piece of paper. Tape 2 pieces of paper together on the short end so you'll have one piece of paper that's nice and long.

1.  Draw a simple, gentle wave across the length of the paper with a pencil or marker. Use the picture below as a guide. The most important thing is to keep the curves gentle. Other than that there is no right or wrong for this; whatever you draw is correct. It does not have to match mine.

2.  Now cut along the wavy drawn line and also make another straight cut about 3" or so below your line. Easy peasy!

 This will give you a template that's about 3" x 16". Don't worry about the length; as long as it is at least 16" long or longer that's okay.

Now it's time to play with fabric! Remember those 16 x 10" rectangles of cream fabric you cut earlier? We're going to call these the B rectangles, that way I don't have to keep typing out those dimensions.

3. Fold a B rectangle 2" in along one 16" side with right sides together. If you wish you may pin this down. I did that at first, but then I just started taking them to the ironing board and pressed down a 2" fold.

4. Place your paper template onto the folded area and trace the wavy line onto the fabric using a water soluble or erasable fabric marking pencil/pen/chalk. I found this much easier to do if I didn't have the pins in the way holding the fold in place - that's why I started pressing the fold. NOTE: Make sure the curve is at least 1/4" from the folded edge to allow for the seam allowance.

A note on the marking pen you use. I am going to give a shameless plug to Pilot. They make a pen called the Frixon erasable gel pen. They may not have been intended for fabric use, but they work for marking fabric like nothing else I have ever tried. The best part is the marks stay as long as I need them and then a swipe of a warm iron and, viola, the marks are completely gone! Some fabric stores carry them, but a better (and probably cheaper, sorry to my local shop!) bet is an office supply store. I ordered a pack of 8 directly from Pilot with 6 different colors - 2 black pens - for a better price than I could find them singly here in Northern Virginia. (They didn't even charge shipping and that's all I ordered!)

5.  Now off we go to the sewing machine! Using a straight stitch, sew along the marked curvy line on the B rectangle. It does not matter if you don't follow it exactly. No one will ever know if you stayed on the line or not (especially if you use those nifty Frixon pens!)

If you wish you may press this stitching. I did it to remove my pen markings now, though pressing later would have done the job too.

6. Cut away the folded edge 1/4" from the stitching line. Remove those pesky pins if you still have them in. Using sharp scissors, clip and notch in the curved areas along the stitched seam allowance being careful not to snip your stitches. (clip in the dips and notch -cut a small vee - in the humps)

7. Carefully turn the stitched stitched facing edge to the wrong side to create a smooth edge. Use something with a blunt end, like a chopstick, to help and press the edge well. Check to make sure that none of your pen/pencil marks show through. Follow your product guidelines to remove the marks now if you have not already done so. Press the facing well so it is nice and flat.
8. Repeat for another B rectangle giving you two faced pieces. Your halfway to the finished block!

Now remember all those beautiful colored strips you cut from the fat quarters? I'm going to call them A strips - for the same lazy reason I call the other fabric B rectangles. Hey, if you know of a shortcut you should USE it.

9. Select one of your beautiful A strips and two faced B rectangles. Any A strip will work. Position and pin an A strip between the two Bs as shown in the photo below. Move the Bs to reveal as much of the A strip as you wish as long as you maintain at least 15 1/2" width (it can be wider not shorter). Pin in place.

10. Now at the sewing machine, edge stitch along the curved edges through all layers. The easiest way to do this is to use an edge stitch foot. It rides along the edge of the fabric and makes it super simple to keep the spacing even throughout. The one for my sewing machine, an Elna, looks like the one in the picture below.  The next picture is a closeup of the finished edges. If you don't own an edge foot, just straight stitch about 1/4" away from the folded edge as evenly as possible.
Here is what your Pathway block will look like from the right side.

Now there's only some trimming to do!

11. On the wrong side of your block, trim the excess A and B piece close to the seam allowance. Any sharp pair of scissors will work, just be careful not cut all the way through your block or you may wind up crying as you have to redo your wonderful block. I use applique scissors also called duckbilled scissors that have a very wide side that helps prevent mistakes like that.

12. Final trimming: Trim the entire block to 15 1/2" x 15 1/2". You may center the A strip or trim the block so it is off-center the choice is up to you, just make sure not to cut the block smaller than the given size. Ta-da! you have your first Pathway block done.

13. Repeat the steps to make a total of 30 blocks. Vary your A strips so you have as many different looking blocks as possible. Or ignore that completely and make them all the same A strips. Also if 30 blocks sound way too much, make yours smaller. It's your quilt, make it the way you want to!

Have fun! I'll have the next part (probably the last part!) in about a week. I want to give us all a chance to get enough blocks done so that you have a feel for the finished product. Happy quilting and keep looking for those things that sa(y) quilt to you!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Quilt-a-Long for You!

Hey there! I've not been writing much lately - or doing much of anything for that matter due to some pesky health issues. But that's not why I write this and definitely NOT why you read this. (Good grief I hope not - despite the fact that a friend or two has said I should write a book on those issues!)

In a fit of mental Fall Cleaning, I discovered that I really need to make quite a few kid quilts. Need, such a strong word; I don't need to make them, but I certainly want to. Then I thought why don't I do a quilt-a-long (hereafter abbreviated QAL, since it's not an easy word to type). For those of you that don't know what a QAL is here's a brief explanation. A QAL (see why I'm abbreviating?) is a quilting project that a group of people do together, but not necessarily physically together. Generally a leader - that would be me in this case - writes out all directions for the others as they are done and publishes them out in steps with time given in between so you can work on the project. The idea is that participants are working on the steps together and can ask questions/comment as if you are all in the same room taking a class. That's all there is to it. Now I'm not claiming to be a quilt instructor, but I hope you'll join along since I think making children't quilts should be fun. I heartily encourage you to post comments to this blog with your progress/questions/brags! I will do my best to answer them for you. I will also try to develop a hard shell as you find my mistakes and help me to correct them.

Remember this is supposed to be FUN. (Sorry, don't mean to shout, but I really wish I had sqiggy line to type out words that are to convey fun things! Someone with a software background please work on that - probably point out that it already exists is more like it.)

So consider this Step 1 of my Easy Kid's Quilt QAL! Definitely appropriate for all beginner quilters.

(This pattern is adapted from the Pathways pattern found in Aug. 2011 Quilter's World magazine, designed by Jen Eskridge for Reannalily Designs. )

QUILT SIZE: 75" X 90"   This is roughly a twin-size bed quilt.
BLOCK SIZE: 15" square

NOTE: If you want to make a smaller quilt, please do so. Another good size would be a quilt of only 20 blocks (75" x 60"), which would, of course not take quite so much fabric.

FABRIC: Please feel free to use whatever colors move you. These are only suggestions - and will help you follow along. All fabric measurements are based on 42" wide fabric. I am using cotton fabric.

7 yards cream solid
10 assorted colors fat quarters
3/4 yard fabric for binding - your color choice
backing fabric - 83" x 98"


Twin-size batting
thread to match project
paper (notebook paper is fine)
fabric marking pencil/pen

Okay, first things first. Prepare your fabric for quilting. For you that may mean washing all the fabric before you use it. For me it means, ironing with a good spray starch e.g., Mary Ellen's

From the fat quarters: Cut  30 strips 4 1/2" x 16"
From cream solid: Cut 15 rectangles 15" x 42" ; then subcut into 60 rectangles 16" x 10"

Here's my background fabric and the assorted strips that I've cut.

That's enough for keep you busy for a bit. I promise to post the next step in a day or so. Cutting fabric is okay, but if you're like me you like to get to the sewing part! Actually I like to get through the sewing part so I can start quilting! I mean, it's not a quilt unless it's quilted in my book.

In the meantime, look around and see what sa(y)s quilts to you!