Monday, October 5, 2015

Tiny Scrappy Circle Mini Quilt Tutorial

A couple of years ago my daughter made some round fabric covered magnets with my scraps. Sometimes I have a hard time letting go of little odd scraps of beloved fabric, so for part of my "leave no fabric scrap behind" project this year, I decided to clean out some small and cut sections of scraps by making an applique circle mini using the same cutting method that we used for the scraps. It's a bit of an odd method, but it worked out well, and it was a great on-the-go and TV project.

Quilt Details

(676) 3/4" fabric circles
20 3/8" square of Essex linen in flax
(2) binding - WOF strips Bonnie and Camille Miss Kate scallops
22" square of backing fabric
22" square of batting
Elmer's glue to baste circles

Cutting the Circles

I used a 3/4' magnet I bought at a craft store to trace the outline of the circle on the back of each scrap. Fussy cutting these little circles is so addictive! Both large and small scale fabrics work well to highlight different details; one fabric print cut in different areas can look completely different.

Tip: Press and starch the fabric well prior to cutting to help the fabric hold its shape during cutting and gluing.

To hold the fabric in place to trace, I set the fabric on my metal IKEA tray, and laid the magnet on top. This help keep the fabric from shifting around. I then used my favorite little Singer scissors and carefully scissor cut the circles. My circles aren't all perfectly round, but they worked in the end.

Adhering the circles to the background

I thought 20" finished would be a good size for a mini or a big sofa pillow. I intended to cut my background fabric 20 1/2" square, but somehow I cut it a smidge smaller at 20 3/8". I'd love to tell you it is because I subconsciously knew this would work better, but it was serendipity because it worked perfectly for laying my circles side by side.

I cleared a spot on my table just like I would if I were going to work on a big puzzle, and laid the background fabric on it. I used a Clover Hera Marker  to score a perimeter line 1/2" from the edge of the background fabric to guide placement of the circles.

The trickiest part was figuring out the best way to attach these without spending a year on it. In the end, I decided that a mini quilt hanging on the wall won't be handled a lot, so I just used Elmer's glue to temporarily baste them to the background. I used a very thin layer Elmer's from a bottle spread across the back - try not to use so much that it soaks through the front of the fabric. I tried a couple using a glue stick and that was not the best method because it pulled on the bias edges of the circle, and also frayed the edges of the circles.

For projects that will get a lot of use - it is probably a good idea to use a product like Heat n Bond Lite to fuse each circle on. I thought I would use it, but the idea of tracing and cutting 1,676 Heat n Bond circles made me sad.

Starting in the lower left hand corner of the background fabric, I laid one circle touching both the side and bottom Hera lines. I then added circles along the bottom row, each side of the circle just barely touching each other, and the bottom of the circles touching the bottom Hera line. Once I figured out that the placement work perfectly, I glued each circle before laying it down and smoothed it in place gently with my fingers.

I continued to work horizontally and sometimes vertically, gluing and placing until all the space was filled, choosing fabric as I went. I worked over the course of several days, little bits at a time when I had a few minutes.

If you look closely, you can see the Hera lines in the photos below.


To permanently adhere the circles to the background, I just quilted it densely - one line in the center of each circle, and lines 1/4" left and right of center, going both directions.

After quilting, I trimmed the edge edge of the quilt to 3/8" from the edge of the circles. Two WOF of strips works perfectly to bind the mini.

I hope this helps anyone who would like to use up some teeny scraps!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Dollhouse Miniature Precuts Tutorial

I recently participated in a small swap with some sewing friends. Stalking my recipients Pinterest board revealed a whole new world of miniature quilt shop supplies. She has a dollhouse, so I decided to make her some bundles. I looked around at various blogs for tutorials. I found several for fabric bolts and fat quarter bundles, but I wanted to make a few adjustments to size/fold. I tried to stay as close to 1:12 ratio as possible. While I saw pictures of super adorable miniature jelly rolls, I couldn't find a tutorial. I also didn't see any pics or tutorials for dollhouse size charm packs or layer cakes; they may be out there, but I missed them.

I wanted to make fat quarter bundles that look a bit like Moda's. Given the thickness of the fabric, it is not practical to make a full 40 fabric bundle. 7-8 fabrics seemed to be just the right height. I forgot to take pics of the individual fat quarters I folded on the long side, rolled up, and tied with perle cotton to store individually, but that is also a fun way to display individual fabrics.

Additionally, I wanted to make the bundles sturdy enough to be handled without coming undone, so I used glue to keep the pieces together. On the jelly rolls, the first one I made, I used only glue stick to glue as I rolled, and it was a horrible sticky mess that was slow to dry. I switched to glue gun for that part on subsequent ones, and I was really happy with the result. I am sharing here to refer back to later when I make more, and for anyone who is interested in making some like mine.

I have also included printables to print labels for charm packs and layer cakes. A link to the document is found in the supplies section below.

I don't have a dollhouse, but my daughter does, and these were such a fun scrap buster that I kept on making bundles. I'd love to show you a beautifully staged dollhouse quilt shop, but we aren't to that stage of the process. (Maybe in the next several years.....)


Jelly Rolls:
Fabric: (8) .25" x 3.5" strips
Perle cotton or embroidery floss to tie bundle
Low temp glue gun and glue sticks
Water soluble glue stick (ex: Elmer's or Sewline)

Fat Quarter Bundles:
Fabric: (7 or 8) 1.25" x 1.50" rectangles
Perle cotton or embroidery floss to tie bundle
Water soluble glue stick (ex: Elmer's or Sewline)

Charm Packs:
Fabric: (8) .5" squares
Cardstock: (1) .5" square
Water soluble glue stick (ex: Elmer's or Sewline)
Labels - printable file download available here

Layer Cakes:
Fabric: (8) .875" squares
Cardstock: (1) .875" square
Water soluble glue stick (ex: Elmer's or Sewline)
Labels - printable file download available here

Fabric bolts:
Chipboard: Cut into .625" x 2" (or .875" x 2" if you prefer a bit wider than 1:12 scale)
Fabric: 3.5" T x 4" W (or wider if you prefer a fuller bolt)
Low temp glue gun and glue sticks - or -
Water soluble glue stick (ex: Elmer's or Sewline)
White acrylic paint

Folded yardage:
Fabric: Each yard approximately 3" x 3.625"
Fold as desired to fit doll cabinet space
Press well. If you want to stay folded, add a bit of glue to hold the fabric layers together


Jelly Rolls:
1. Select 8 strips. Layout in preferred order.
2. Use glue stick on the wrong side of half of each fabric strip and fold in half with wrong sides together. Press with the iron to lay flat and heat set the glue.
3. Stack fabrics, matching raw edges, folded side of fabric on the same side. Using a glue stick, glue 1/3 of the strip from the raw edge between each strip and press with an iron to heat set. This holds the layers in place to minimize shifting when the fabric is rolled, however you do not want to glue the entire length of the fabric because they need to be free to roll and stagger on the folded end.
4. Using the glue gun, add a small bead of glue near the raw edge of the top fabric and on the bottom raw edge of the stacked fabric. Fold all of the strips of the raw end in just a tiny amount to stick to the fabric. (2nd row, pic 1)
Note: You will be rolling with the fabric you want to be the exterior on the bottom. Let's just pretend I was paying attention and had my fabrics stacked in the same order that I laid them out it in the first pic. As you roll, you roll onto the fabric you want to be the inside inside the jelly roll.
5. Using the glue gun, add a small bead of glue on about 3/4" inch of the inside fabric and roll the jelly roll a bit more. Try to keep the jelly roll in a round shape. I have a couple that I made that ended up a bit more oval shaped because I was not vigilant about keeping the shape round as I rolled/
6. Continue adding a small amount of glue to the inside fabric and roll. Add glue to the free edges in small amounts. gluing the inside fabric, then glue the fabric next to it, until you finally glue the top fabric in place. Each layer has a shorter amount to glue.
7. Add a label if you wish. Wrap and tie jelly roll with embroidery floss or perle cotton. (I used baker's twine here, but it was a bit too bulky for my taste)
8. Add fray check to keep the exposed raw edges of the fabric from fraying.

Fat Quarter Bundles:
1. Select 7 or 8 fabrics.
2. Fold 1.25" side of fabric into thirds. Press well with iron, reopen fabric, glue both folds, and press down again to heat set.
3. Fold fabric in thirds again on the long side. Press well with iron, reopen fabric, glue both folds, and press down again to heat set.
4. Stack fabrics in desired order. If you would like your fabric to keep from shifting in the bundle, add a small bead of glue between fabric layers with the glue gun.
5. Add a label if you wish. Wrap and tie bundle with embroidery floss or perle cotton.

Charm Packs and Layer Cakes:
1. Select 8 fabrics. Only the top fabric is immediately visible, but this is a great way to use up tiny bits of fabric that would otherwise be thrown away.
2. Layer cardstock on bottom with the fabric squares on top. To keep fabric from shifting, add a small bit of glue in the center of the cardstock and each fabric layer (do not glue the top fabric). Fray check edges to keep raw edges from fraying.
3. Print attached printable label sheet and cut on black lines. The charm pack label will need to be shortened before attaching.
4. Wrap label around the center of the bundle and glue both edges on the back of the cardstock.

Fabric Bolts:
1. Paint ends of the chipboard white.
2. Fold fabric 3.5" edge of fabric down in half and press. Optional: Glue the perimeter of wrong side of fabric and press back in place. This will help to keep the fabric from shifting. Fray check bottom raw edge of fabric.
3. Using glue gun, add a bead of glue down one side of chipboard and glue raw edge of fabric in place.
4. Wrap fabric around the chipboard, fold remaining raw edge under 1/4" and press. Glue into place on the fabric bolt.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Diamond Star EPP Quilt in Progress

In March I wrapped up a lap size 2" hexie EPP quilt; I am pretty sure I neglected to blog pics of the finished quilt, so maybe I will get around to doing that soon. I felt a bit lost, and so I started sewing some 2" 60 point diamonds in Elea Lutz Milk, Sugar, and Flower. I quickly realized that a mini wasn't going to be big enough to satisfy my enthusiasm, and so I resigned myself to making a twin size quilt for my youngest daughter.

I have a bit over 2/3 of my blocks completed, and almost all of the remaining diamonds cut and/or basted to be sewn. I will wait on the final layout until after I have all of the blocks done. The pic above was hastily laid out to give me an idea of how many more I needed to make.

This will be my biggest hand sewing project to date. I have also really stepped up my fussy cutting game. I usually just kind of approximate my fussy cut pieces for EPP, but that doesn't work as well with diamond stars from the same fabric. It uses so much fabric, but I am having a blast.

This Momo trees diamond may be my favorite ever.

I take my diamonds everywhere, but it is still slow going.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Minis, minis, minis

My sewing space consists of a small corner of our multipurpose game room. Even so, my little corner of mini quilts has been a slow, evolving work in progress. I have a lot of mini quilts from various quilting friends and swaps, and a few minis I have made as well.

A month or so ago, I finally made a little mini I have had on my mind for a long time. I grew up a huge Star Trek fan, especially Next Generation. "Make it Sew" gives a nod to two of my favorite things. I used the foundation paper pieced pattern called My First Alphabet by From Blank Pages. Fabric is a mix of Bonnie and Camille lines on Vintage Modern low volume dots with Tasha Noel Vintage Market navy binding. Let's just pretend that the word "sew" is perfectly centered, or let's call it jaunty.

I originally had it hung in the top left of my sewing corner, but it was too narrow for the space. I decided to move it, and wanted to fill the space left. My quilting friend Ellyn and I decided to do a little mini quilt swap for our respective sewing areas. I was pretty excited about it; Ellyn and I are kindred spirits and I love her work. I was also happy to have a small, short time period swap with no pressure of extras. 

I have been eyeballing CraftyPod's free Cover Girl Rosette Pattern (from the cover of her book on English Paper Piecing called All Points Patchwork). I decided to make four blocks and applique them onto a netural background. Ellyn's only space requirement was to keep the quilt width at 16" or less. To accommodate Ellyn's wall space, I scaled the pattern down to 85%. I am disappointed that I didn't take any decent photos of the blocks as I made them. I didn't set out to fussy cut Bonnie and Camille scallops for each block, but after I did one it just seemed to be the natural progression of things. I love the effect. 

I hand appliqued each block onto a Carolyn Friedlander botanics low volume print. Sorry it is so hard to see in my too-bright pic. Placement of the blocks was interesting. I creased the center and halfway from the center to the edge, measured where each block should be to line up, and then made little dots at where each point should line up with water soluble marker. You can see creases and dots a bit in the pic below. I have no idea if this is a good or goofy way to line it all up, but the end result worked out fine. I tried doing the applique in a hoop, but that mostly annoyed me. I appliqued the last three without a hoop.

I was able to use my new custom rubber stamp on a twill label. 

Ellyn made me an awesome Thimble Blossoms Picadilly Circus dresden plate using Hello Darling (my current fabric line obsession) mini with paper pieced "Create" underneath. I love to have quilty messages on my wall, along with super bright and scrappy fabric. I also requested a bit of an odd size to fit the hole in my space. She nailed it! I love how the orange background makes the dresden plate and "create" pop.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

RASKOG Mini Pressing Board with Removable Cover

A couple of years ago, before I bought my RASKOG cart from IKEA, I made a mini pressing board from a scrap piece of wood in the garage, with a removable, washable cover to use while piecing quilt blocks. After I bought the RASKOG, I learned that my pressing board is the perfect size to fit on top of my RASKOG and create more functional space in my small sewing area. I use both all the time, but for the past several months, my cover has been scorched and ugly. I knew it was time to make a new cover when it transferred brown marks to a hand pieced block I pressed. This time I am making construction notes so I don't have to figure it out when it needs another new one.  

1" thick piece of wood 11.5" x 16"
Fat Quarter cut into 16" x 21" 
Felt or flannel 12.5" x 17"
Insulbrite 12.5" x 17"
Batting 12.5" x 17"
1 package 1/2" extra wide double fold bias tape
1.5 yards of 3/8" elastic (will be cut down to approximately 29" after insertion)
Staple gun 

You can use a different size board to make a pressing board, just make your felt/flannel, Insulbrite, and batting an inch bigger in width and length, and your exterior approximately 5" bigger (2.5" on each side) in length and width. 

Round edges of the exterior fabric using a bowl as a guide; I used a soup bowl.

Attaching the felt, Insulbrite, and batting:
I skipped over pics of all the pics stretching and stapling the felt/flannel to the wood. I went in this order:

Staple felt or flannel to one long side edge of the board, wrap to the other side and staple, cut square notches at the corners to reduce bulk, then staple the short sides. Make sure to pull taut and smooth to remove any ripples.

Wrap and staple Insulbrite with shiny side up, to the top side of the board in the same manner as the felt. 

Repeat with the batting over the top of the board.

It doesn't need to look pretty, just nice and smooth. I chose to staple to the sides of the board, rather than the bottom, to keep from having staples scratch surfaces and reduce bulk on bottom to keep the board flat while pressing. It will look like this when you are done:

Perspective of exterior to board:

Attaching the bias binding:

There are different ways to attach the binding; this is how I did it to make it easier to insert the elastic.

Flip bias binding with the narrow side on top

Open the bias binding on the narrow side, and fold the raw edge down approximately 1/2". Starting on the middle of one long side of the wrong side of the exterior fabric, stitch in the crease of the bias binding.

Work your way around the perimeter, stretching the bias tape around the curves.

Once you reach the beginning, continue sewing for another couple of inches. Back stitch and trim.

Stitching binding and inserting elastic:

The first time I made this cover, I attached a safety pin to the start of my elastic to keep it from moving as I stitched the casing, and then sewed it to the end of the elastic after working my way around. This time I decided to make it even faster. It is on the bottom of the board where no one will see it, so a pretty join is not important to me. I sewed the casing and insert the elastic at the same time. Here is my faster way.

Tack down the end of the elastic near the start/stop of your bias tape on the right side of your fabric. I used approximately 29" of elastic, but kept a much longer length so I wouldn't have to continually stretch the elastic as I sewed. Next time, I will draw a line at the 29" mark so I know how far I need to pull the elastic without fitting it over the board.

Fold bias tape around to front, and cover first stitching line. Stitch near the edge of the bias tape, pushing the elastic to the right. Make sure not to stitch through the elastic; it needs to be free to move inside the casing.

Take special care around the curves.

When your elastic starts getting short, give it a gentle tug and push the casing to the left to reduce the bunching in one spot. Make sure to adjust and flatten your elastic, binding, and the fabric inside the casing as you do this so it doesn't get rumpled as it is stitched. You can see in the pic below where the fabric in the casing is folding and I had to stop and flatten it.

A couple of inches from the start, back stitch and cut your threads.

Gently pull the elastic, and try to make it evenly gathered. It tends to naturally gather more at the corners and that is ok. I put it on the pressing board to get it fairly snug and checked to make sure the cover looked good. Once you have it pulled tightly, attach a safety pin on the end of the elastic so that it cannot get pulled back into the casing.

Leave about 2" extra on the elastic, so that it can overlap the start of the elastic, with some to spare.

Overlap the elastic ends, inserting the cut edge into the casing, and stitch into place across the elastic.

Then sew the rest of the casing. It didn't look perfect, but it was super fast, and better than stapling fabric to the bottom of the board where it can't be removed and can scratch the surface of a table.

And you have a board all ready to use!

 It works perfectly next to my sewing table. Bonus: it's on the left hand side and I am left handed.