2011 November | AllPeopleQuilt.com Staff Blog

November 2011

4 posts.

Pillowcase Dresses

We hope you’ve already been making pillowcases right along with us as we work towards of our goal of 1 million pillowcases for charity as part of the American Patchwork & Quilting 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge. (Learn more about the challenge by clicking here.) But have you considered making pillowcases dresses? These easy garments stitched from finished pillowcases count for the pillowcase challenge too and can be donated to needy kids both in the U.S. and abroad.

Hilltop Stitchers 4-H club members from Georgia, below, recently learned some new sewing skills by making pillowcase dresses for kids in Mexico, Nicaragua, Haiti, Africa, Costa Rica, and the U.S.

Volunteer Deborah Tedder of Chatsworth, Georgia, (pictured below helping one of the children use a serger to finish the edges) taught these kids how to transform pillowcases into dresses by cutting arm and neck holes in the sewn edges of a pillowcase, which allows the open edges to become the hem. They hemmed the arm holes and then stitched a casing along the neck holes so they could gather the neck holes with ribbons, tying them at the shoulders. Some stitchers choose to use elastic for the neck holes to avoid using a ribbon drawstring, which can be a choking hazard.

There are lots of methods and great tutorials and patterns out there to teach people how to transform a pillowcase into a dress. Search for “make a pillowcase dress” or “donate a pilllowcase dress” to find a method and organization that works for you, or check out one of these links:

Learn how to transform a pillowcase into a dress and how to donate the finished dresses to Little Dresses for Africa, a nonprofit group that sends pillowcase dresses to little girls in African countries, by clicking here. 

Here’s a great tutorial with diagrams and photographs from graphic designer, photographer, and former blogger Jen Leheny.

If you’d rather make a dress from yardage instead of a finished pillowcase, Nancy’s Notions has a great free pattern and video that shows you how to start from scratch (with modified instructions for starting with a finished pillowcase).

Happy stitching!

APQ 2012 Mystery Quilt

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Here’s the scoop on the 2012 Mystery Quilt created exclusively for you by designer Monique Dillard of Open Gate Quilts. Throughout the year, you’ll get instructions for eight blocks (one in each 2012 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine and two additional blocks online). Make one of each block in the fabrics of your choice and set it aside for the end of the year. In the December issue, we’ll give you a mystery quilt setting joining all the single blocks together.

Clue #1: Pick Your Background Fabrics: First choose a light color, which will be the background fabric in the blocks, setting pieces, pieced inner border, and middle border. (For her quilt, Monique used assorted cream and tan prints.) Here are the amounts you will need:

  • For blocks: Four 18×22″ pieces (fat quarters) of assorted light prints
  • For setting pieces and pieced inner border: two 5/8-yard pieces and two 1/3-yard pieces of assorted light prints
  • For middle border: 1/2 yard light print


Clue #2: Choose Your Medium Fabrics: Select one or more medium colors, which will be used in the blocks, setting pieces, and pieced inner border. (For her quilt, Monique used assorted red prints.) Here are the amounts you will need:

  • For blocks: Five 9×22″ pieces (fat eighths) of assorted medium prints
  • For setting pieces and pieced inner border: Five 3/8-yard pieces of assorted medium prints


Clue #3: Gather Your Dark Fabrics: Choose one or more dark colors, which will be used in the blocks, outer border, and binding. (For her quilt, Monique used assorted black prints.) Here are the amounts you will need:

  • For blocks: Three 18×22″ pieces (fat quarters) of assorted dark prints
  • For outer border: 1-1/4 yards of dark print
  • For binding: 5/8 yard of dark print

Clue #4: Make Your First Block: Using the instructions in “Start Today, Finish Tomorrow” in the February 2012 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, make one pieced block. (Or click here for instructions for making the first block.)

Having trouble choosing a palette of fabrics? Consider the following sample blocks. This block of batiks is an extra Monique pieced while making the “Start Today, Finish Tomorrow” table runner.


A variety of 1930s prints and solids will make a cheerful quilt.

These are the fabrics Monique’s quilt is made from–they’re from her Memories of Provence collection for Maywood Studios.

Reproduction prints and small florals come together for a traditional look.

Try solids in a variety of colors paired with a light gray background.


I hope you join us for the fun!

Elizabeth Tisinger Beese, Senior Editor

Classic Red-and-White Quilts

One collector, 651 red-and-white quilts, six days, nearly 25,000 visitors. Ponder these mind-boggling numbers and you’ll understand why last spring’s Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts exhibit has left a lasting impression on the quilting community even almost a year later. The American Folk Art Museum’s amazing exhibit at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City celebrated the decades-long passion of quilt collector Joanna S. Rose, who, for her 80th birthday, wanted to share her collection with others. The jaw-dropping, 360-degree installation was conceptualized by Thinc Design (click here to see a quick video showing the quilts being installed). If you didn’t get a chance to see Infinite Variety in person, you can still get a glimpse of all 651 quilts by downloading the free app for iPad and smartphone (available through iTunes and Android Market; search for Infinite Variety). Plus, click here for a video about the exhibit from the American Folk Art Museum.

There are TONS of sites showing fabulous photos of this exhibit. Just search for Infinite Variety or Red and White Quilts and you’ll come up with oodles of sites showing inspiring photos. Here are just a couple: multiple posts from Karen Griska’s Selvage Blog (be sure to click through to “Older Posts” to see the multiple posts on this topic), a slideshow from the Park Avenue Armory, and Leni Wiener’s blog. Pat Sloan also has a good roundup of blogs, videos, and news articles on her blog.

Quilts inspired by Infinite Variety: Quiltmaker Thelma Childers was so inspired by the Infinite Variety show that she spent the summer of 2011 crafting a quilt, Red-and-White Tribute, that simulates the experience of walking into the exhibit hall. Thelma planned her 4,054-piece, 67½x83″ quilt so it appears that 10 mini red-and-white quilts are overlapping. “I was a maniac about the layering of each mini quilt,” says Thelma, who first sketched the project on graph paper. “The center tree quilt is the only piece where you can view an entire mini quilt. The others show at most two borders, because each one “hangs” in front of or behind another.” Visit Thelma’s blog to see each of the mini quilts and how Thelma determined the final arrangement. To emphasize each of the 10 mini quilts, machine-quilter Connie Lancaster used a variety of both traditional and modern quilting motifs.

Details of Red-and-White Tribute: 

One of our favorite designers for American Patchwork & Quilting, Kathie Holland shared her first quilt inspired by the show on her blog. (Be sure to browse around and see what else Kathie is working on!)

Fabrics inspired by Infinite Variety For the Jo Morton enthusiasts among us, check out the Jo’s Variety collection of quilting fabric for Andover Fabrics. Look for this group of thirteen red-and-white fabrics at your local quilt shop now.

Events/galleries inspired by Infinite VarietyIn April 2011, the staff of Temecula Quilt Company in Temecula, California, challenged customers (and readers of their blog) to participate in a red-and-white quilt challenge. They displayed the exhibit during October 2011. Visit their blog and scroll to the October 5th and 11th posts to see photos (check out some of the fun ways quilts were displayed) and to purchase quilt patterns of some of the displayed quilts.

Taryn at the Reproduction and Antique Quilt Lover blog hosted a virtual quilt show; see it here.

On her Material Culture blog, quilt historian Barbara Brackman posted some red-and-white antique quilts and snippets of information about this type of quilts.

Let me know how the Infinite Variety show inspired you!

Elizabeth Tisinger Beese, Senior Editor

The Binding Tool Tutorial

Do you struggle to create binding with perfect angled seams without bulk?  The Binding Tool, a product from TQM Products, makes the task easy. We recently featured this handy product in our Hot Stuff column. See our review in the Winter 2011 issue of Quilts and More (available in quilt shops and on newsstands November 8) and get the complete tutorial below.

1. Leave a 12″ opening and 10″ tails when sewing on your binding. We used pins to help mark the opening before stitching.

2. Butt the tool up to the left edge of your binding where the stitching ends. Transfer the marked line onto the binding.

3. Open up the binding and line up the marked line on the tool with the marked line you just made. Using a rotary cutter, trim around the tool.

4. Rotate the tool and butt it up against the right edge of your binding where you stopped stitching. (Note: Do not flip over the tool.) Transfer the marked line as you did in Step 2. Open up the binding, line the tip of the tool on the marked line, then trim with a rotary cutter.

5. Open up the bindings ends and line them up using the pressed line as a guide. Hold the two ends in place with pins.

6. Stitch using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

7. Press the seam and stitch the binding to your quilt for a smooth-looking edge without any bulk.

Watch a video on how to use the tool here. 

What other tips or tools do you use to make binding easier?