Each month, learn a fun trick or tip to make your quilting easier and more polished! This month, learn to love hand piecing, the technique favored by designer Jen Kingwell of Amitié Textiles. Love her look in the pillow below? Get her tips for making hand-piecing easier!
(From American Patchwork & Quilting February 2014. Buy the digital issue here.)
- I make my templates from template plastic and write the pattern name and any identifying numbers or letters on each one with an ultrafine permanent marker. I store them in sandwich-size ziplock bags.
- For fabric markers I prefer a mechanical pencil with a 2B lead or a fine chalk pencil, usually white.
- When tracing around templates I use a sandpaper board. It holds the fibers firmly, which reduces distortion.
- Good-quality cotton fabrics give the best results.
- I prefer size 11 straw needles from Jeana Kimball. These fine needles have a straight shaft that glides through the fabric easily. They are also long, which allows me to take several running stitches at a time.
- I love Machine Embroidery Thread (also called Broder Thread) from DMC. It is a 50-weight two-ply thread and comes in a fabulous color range. I find the finer the thread and needle, the more accurate the seams.
- The first thing I do is put a quilter’s knot in my thread: I hold my threaded needle in my dominant hand. I take the end of my thread in my other hand and loop it so about 1″ of this end lies on my needle. With my dominant hand, which is still holding the needle, I hold the end of the thread in place. With my other hand I wrap the thread around the needle three to four times. With my fingers holding the wrap on the needle firmly, I use my nondominant hand to pull the needle through the wrap, continuing to hold until this knot stops at the end of the thread. It’s quick and easy and is never too bulky.
- To finish a seam I take a small backstitch: Before pulling the thread all the way through the fabric, I bring my needle through the loop, which effectively ties a knot. To prevent unraveling, I cut the thread but leave about a 1⁄4″ tail.
Fabrics: Nana’s Pantry collection by Mama’s Cottons for Connecting Threads
Here’s a good first tote bag project that will instatntly become your go-to pattern! Plus, the bag is made with a doubled seam so no unfinished fabric edges show. This project is courtesy of our sewing blog, howtosew.com. Visit daily for new sewing projects and easy home decor.
- 4—18×21″ pieces (fat quarters) assorted prints (bag, bag lining)
- 1-1/3 yards 1″-wide webbing (straps)
- 2—17×20″ pieces paper-backed, iron-on fusible web (such as Steam-A-Seam 2 or Wonder Under)
Finished tote bag: 15″w x 14″h (not including straps)
**Sew this project with 1/4″ and 1/2″ seams.
1. Press all fabrics to remove wrinkles and fold lines.
2. Following manufacturer’s instructions, center and press a paper-backed, fusible-web piece onto wrong side (unprinted side) of one bag fabric piece; let cool. Peel off paper backing.
3. Layer a bag lining piece wrong side down on first fabric piece; smooth out from center to edges. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse pieces together.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with remaining bag and bag lining fabric pieces to make two prepared fabric pieces.
From each set of prepared fabrics, cut:
- 1—16-1/2″ each square
From webbing, cut:
- 2—24″-long pieces
Assemble Tote Bag:
1. Turn under one edge of a 16-1/2″-square prepared fabric piece 1/2″; press.
2. Turn under same edge again 1″; press.
3. Insert ends of 24″-long webbing piece under last fold of prepared fabric 4-3/4″ from outer edges. Sew webbing in place.
4. Fold and press webbing toward top edge. Topstitch 1/8″ and 7/8″ from top edge to make a bag unit.
5. Repeat steps 1–4 to make second bag unit.
6. Layer the bag units with lining sides together. Pin in place. Using 1/4″ seam allowance, sew together bag units along sides and bottom edge.
7. Trim corners close to the seam line.
8. Turn to opposite side (lining side out); press.
9. Using 1/2″ seam allowance, sew along sides and bottom edge to complete bag.
10. Turn bag right side out; press.
Once a month, we highlight our favorite free quilt and sewing patterns around the web!
Americana meets French General in this quilt. It adds a touch of patriotic flair (and history) to a table or wall for Fourth of July!
Boutique Bones by Julie Hirt of 627handworks
Using six fat quarters, this dog bed cover is so cute (and easy!). And we can’t get over how fun the pieced bones are!
Each month, learn a fun trick or tip to make your quilting easier and more polished! This month, learn how to add texture to your quilt with dimensional flying geese units!
August 2013 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.)
To make one dimensional Flying Geese unit, gather two 2″ squares and one 2×3-1/2″ rectangle. Lay the rectangle vertically on your work surface. Fold the rectangle in half with wrong side inside to make a folded unit. Place the folded unit on the right side of one square, aligning side and bottom edges; pin. Place remaining square right side down on top of folded unit; sew through all layers with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance. Open stitched unit and press seam in one direction. Refold rectangle so that the center crease aligns with the seam, forming a triangle, to make a Flying Geese unit. Press well and, if desired, baste bottom edges. The unit should be 3-1/2×2″ including seam allowances.
Design: inspired by a design by Taryn Boyd
Wiggle your toes in this oh-so-soft rug. It’s hard to believe it’s made of cast-off T-shirts. Sew knit strips to a canvas backing; the strips flop over each other for a plush effect. This project is courtesy of our sewing blog, howtosew.com. Visit daily for new sewing projects and easy home decor.
- Canvas (available by the yard in fabrics stores)
- Ruler or yard stick
- Heavy-duty sewing machine needle
- T-shirts (number needed depends on desired size of rug)
- Rotary cutter, mat, and acrylic ruler (optional)
- Rug gripper or non-skid carpet tape
Determine desired finished size of rug. Rug shown is 18×24″ (takes about 10 adult-size T-shirts).
- Cut canvas 1″ larger on all sides than desired finished size. (The canvas for an 18×24″ rug is cut 20×26″.)
- Cut T-shirts into 2×6″ strips (see Step 6)
Assemble the Rug:
1. Zigzag-stitch cut edges of canvas. (Dark thread is used in photos; for your project, use thread to match T-shirts.)
2. Fold edges of canvas under 1″; pin.
3. Sew folded edges in place, using a straight stitch about 1/8″ from the first stich line. (Shown is the view of the top after sewing.)
4. Using water-soluble marker or a chalk marker, draw parallel lines across the top of the hemmed canvas (long edge to long edge), 3/4″ to 1″ apart.
5. Fold canvas so four or five lines show; pin. (You will work from left to right across the marked canvas, keeping the unstitched canvas to the right of the needle and the bulk of the covered canvas to the left.)
6. Cut T-shirt into 2×6″ strips. Due to large quantity of strips needed for this project, we recommend cutting strips with a rotary cutter and an acrylic ruler.
7. Fold one T-shirt strip in half so it measures 1×6″.
8. Starting at top left edge of marked canvas, place center of folded T-shirt strip atop first drawn line, just inside the canvas edge. Sew across the center of the strip to secure the strip to thecanvas. (It doesn’t matter if you sew across folded edge or cut edge first.)
9. Without lifting the presser foot, add a second folded strip in the same manner, butting it up close to thefirst strip.
10. Continue adding and sewing strips in the same manner to cover drawn line. (Each line on our marked canvas required 18 T-shirt strips.)
11. Move to the next drawn line and continue adding strips in the same fashion until the canvas is covered. Repeat all the way across marked canvas. Adjust folded and pinned canvas as you proceed from left edge to right.
When the entire canvas is covered, shake the rug and use your hand to brush strips outwards over the rug edges.
12. Place a layer of rug gripper or strips of double-sided carpet tape between completed rug and hard surface floor.