Monday, April 21, 2014

Soft N Comfy Blankie Tutorial

Here is a quick and easy project that is sure to be a favorite with the little ones. Featuring Soft N Comfy fabric from JoAnn Fabrics which is sold off the bolt at 64" wide. One yard of Soft N Comfy can be cut into two pieces to make two blankies with this tutorial. If you decide to make one, be sure to use a coupon and save even more:)

For this project you will need:

30" x 36" Soft N Comfy fabric from JoAnn's
1 yard flannel - prewashed and ironed
1/3 yard cotton quilting fabric cut into (4) 2 1/2" strips
walking foot (suggested)
painter's tape
curved safety pins

Finished size: 30" x 36"

Step 1: Tape flannel right side down to a hard surface such as a table top or floor. Be careful to secure fabric, but not to distort it in any direction.

Step 2: Place Soft N Comfy fabric right side up in the center of flannel. Secure with tape.

Step 3: Pin two layers together using curved safety pins. Place pins a hand's width apart and also pin along outside edge of Soft N Comfy fabric.

Step 4: Beginning at one edge of quilt, center walking foot between "bumps" and stitch a straight line to opposite edge of quilt. Take time to evenly feed the fabric as it passes under the needle.

Step 5: Stitch lines every four "bumps" till top is quilted.

Step 6: When sewing is completed, square up edges of quilt by trimming away excess fabric.


Step 7: Press binding strips and trim off selvedge edges.

Step 8: Place 3 binding strips right side down and press top edge at a 45 degree angle to form a crease.

Step 9: Place two strips right sides together like a plus sign and sew diagonally across the ironed crease, backstitching at both ends. Trim to a 1/4" seam allowance and press seams open.

Step 10: Fold binding strip in half lengthwise with wrong sides together. Press. You may want to use spray starch for this step. Binding is now ready to be attached to the quilt. 

Step 11: Pin raw edges of binding to raw edge of back of quilt. Begin pinning the first side with 8 inch tail left unattached.

Step 12: At end of the first side, place a pin 1/4" away from edge. 

Step 13: Begin sewing a 1/4" seam leaving the first 8 inches of binding unattached. At end of side, pivot 1/4" from edge of fabric and sew to corner at angle. 

Step 14: Fold binding, matching raw edges and pin down side two. Begin sewing at edge of top corner. At end of side, pivot 1/4" from edge of fabric and sew to corner at angle. Repeat process for remaining sides, stopping 8 inches from original starting point.

Step 15:  Place beginning of binding (left side) in center of unsewn space and cut. Overlap right side of binding. Since we are using a 2 1/2" width of binding, we will measure a 2 1/2" overlap. Cut right side of binding.

Step 16: Place an "x" on the bottom edge of the left binding.

Step 17: Place left binding on top of right binding right sides together  to form a plus sign. The "x" should now be in the bottom left hand corner. Draw a line across the binding to identify the sewing line. Pin, and stitch on top of line joining two binding pieces together.

Step 18: Trim to a 1/4" seam allowance and press open. Press and finish attaching binding to quilt top.

Step 19: Fold binding to front of quilt and secure with pins or clips being careful to evenly distribute fabric on both sides of quilt. At corners, form a crease.

Step 20: An extra pin placed in corners will help hold binding in place.

Step 21: Carefully topstitch around perimeter of quilt with a narrow seam allowance. The photo above shows both front and back of quilt edges. As you can see, my stitching isn't totally perfect but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

May you always Sew in Peace!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Flexi Strip Quilt Show

It has been a great blessing for me to be involved in Sew*Quilt*Share at our local church. Our group meets monthly to sew projects that benefit several charitable organizations within our community. It is a wonderful time of fellowship!

During the months of January and February we focused on sewing baby quilts. The quilts were made based on this free tutorial if you would like to make one for yourself. Depending on your skill level, it can be sewn together in a few hours.

Some Sew*Quilt*Share members excel in other fiber arts. The quilts below were hand woven on a loom by one of our members. Such beautiful colors and workmanship!  

This lovely hourglass quilt was also made by one of our members who as promised, 
shall remain anonymous:)

We were blessed to receive the following quilt all the way from New Jersey! Edith, a friend of one of the ladies in our group, wanted to join us in blessing a young mother with the gift of a handmade quilt. Thank you so much Edith!

The quilts will be donated here.

We hope you enjoyed our little display of quilts by the ladies of Sew*Quilt*Share, and that you will be inspired to serve others in your community. If you are looking for place to donate quilts, we are accepting baby quilts and/or cotton quilting fabric. We would love to hear from you!

May you always Sew in Peace!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Flexi Strip Baby Quilt Tutorial

Are you looking for a tutorial to make a quick baby quilt? Would you like to make donation quilts but struggle to find an easy pattern? Hopefully this tutorial will provide you with some options.

The Flexi Strip concept is a "flexible" quilt pattern that takes on a different appearance by simply changing one strip of the quilt...the Flexi Strip Panel. If you look at the diagrams below, each quilt consists of three Flexi Strip Panels, four sashing strip units, and a top and bottom border. Pretty simple right?

The Basic Flexi Strip Quilt uses a focus fabric in the Flexi Strip Panel and a coordinating fabric in the sashing strips. It can be sewn together rather quickly and is a basic vertical strip quilt.

The Basic Flexi Strip Quilt

The Variable Flexi Strip Quilt uses a variety of flannel, denim, and cotton quilting fabrics to form the Flexi Strip Panel. This quilt takes on a scrappy, yet modern appearance. .

The Variable Flexi Strip Quilt

The I Spy Flexi Strip Quilt uses 27 different 5" squares in the Flexi Strip Panels and creates a fun, light-hearted quilt for little ones.

The I Spy Flexi Strip Quilt

Before you begin your project you will want to decide which style of quilt to make. All the quilts in this series follow the same basic instructions except for the assembly of the Flexi Strip Panel.

Choose One Option:
Basic Flexi Strip Panel - 1/2 yard cotton fabric cut into (3) 5" strips
Variable Flexi Strip Panel - (27) 5" blocks cut from a variety of nine coordinating fabrics.
I Spy Flexi Strip Panel - (27) 5" blocks cut from a variety of I Spy fabrics

Fabric Requirements for Each Pattern
Sashing Strips - 1/3 yard dark fabric cut into (4 ) 2 1/2" strips
                          3/4 yard light fabric cut into (10) 2 1/2" strips
Backing - 1 1/3 yard fabric
Cotton batting - 48" x 42"
Binding - 1/3 yard fabric cut into (5) 2 1/2" strips
Heavy Spray Starch
Low tack painter's tape
Basic sewing supplies

Finished quilt size - approx. 44" x 37"


Step 1 - Choose One of the Following Options
For the Basic Flexi Strip Panel - Cut (3)  5"strips to 40" in length being careful to remove selvedge edges. Proceed to Step 2.

For the Variable Flexi Strip Panel - Cut (27) 5" blocks from coordinating fabrics. The sample quilt was made with a variety of nine different flannel, denim, and cotton quilting fabrics. Arrange blocks until you find a layout you like. Sew together with a 1/4" seam allowance to form three rows. Proceed to Step 2.

For the I Spy Flexi Strip Panel - Cut (27) different 5" blocks from brightly colored and/or I Spy cotton fabrics. Arrange blocks until you find a layout you like. Before sewing, you may want to mark each row to help keep your blocks in order. Sew together with a 1/4" seam allowance to form three rows. Proceed to Step 2.

Step 2
From dark fabric, cut sashing strips into (4 ) 2 1/2" strips. From light fabric cut sashing strips into (10) 2 1/2" strips.

Step 3 
Spray sashing strips with heavy spray starch and press with a hot iron. Please note that for this project, heavy spray starch is very important. It will help to eliminate wrinkles and keep fabric from be generous with the spray starch! With right sides together, pin 4 dark sashing strips to 4 light sashing strips and sew with a 1/4" seam allowance. Note that strip lengths may vary and will be trimmed once assembled.

Step 4
Press seams with a hot iron being careful to "press" and not stretch the fabrics. At this point I usually add another dose of the heavy spray starch and press the seam toward the darker fabric.

Step 5
Pin four remaining light fabric strips to the four Sashing Strip units, and sew together with a 1/4" seam allowance. Press seams toward darker fabric. At this point you will want to double check the length of your flexi strip panel.

For the Basic Flexi Strip Quilt- Evenly trim both ends of the Sashing Strip unit so the unit measures 40" in length. Proceed to Step 6.

For the Variable Flexi Strip and the I Spy Flexi Strip quilts- Depending on your accuracy in both cutting and sewing, the length of the flexi strips may vary between 40" and 42". You may want to measure all three of the flexi strips to get an average length or make seam allowance adjustments if necessary. The average length will be the number you use when trimming the Sashing Strip unit. Evenly trim both ends of the Sashing Strip unit to the same length as your flexi strips. Proceed to Step 6.

Step 6
Pin each Flexi Strip Panel to a Sashing Strip unit and sew together with a 1/4" seam. You may notice in the photo below the blue tape to the right of the fabric. I find low tack painter's tape to be quite helpful in the quilting process. It can be placed on your sewing machine bed to mark a desired seam width and easily be removed with no residue.

Step 7
After a dose of spray starch, press seam toward the darker fabric on each section. Sew remaining sashing strips together. Press seams toward darker fabric. With right sides together and matching seams, trim quilt top to 40" in length.

Step 8
Pin remaining sashing strips to the top and bottom of the quilt and sew with 1/4" seam. Placing the seam-free sashing strip as the bottom layer will make it easier to flow across the sewing machine.

Step 9
Press seam away from the top and bottom strips. Press the completed top on the back side, carefully removing stray threads.  Press the front of the quilt making sure all seams lay flat.. and don't forget to use the spray starch:)

Step 10
Square up the quilt top. If you lay the fabric on top of a cutting mat, you can match up the top and side edges of fabric with the lines on the cutting mat. Next, place a large square ruler on top of the quilt. This will indicate how square your quilt is and how much fabric needs to be trimmed away. You will want to square up all four corners.

Step 11
Press quilt backing. Use your favorite method to baste the quilt and prepare it to be quilted. This is the method I often use when I baste my quilts.

Step 12 - Quilting Options

Straight-line quilting
Straight-line quilting is usually done with a walking foot. This style of foot is designed to evenly feed the fabric as it passes across the bed of the sewing machine. I like to use painter's tape as a guide for straight-line quilting. The same strip can be easily repositioned and used many times. It also comes in a variety of sizes. The tape you see in the photo below is 1 1/2" wide. 

Swirls and Pebbles
I wanted to try something different and expand my machine quilting skills on this quilt. Although it was a great learning experience, it was very time consuming. If you are planning to make a donation quilt, I would skip this concept. Although I really like the final result, I'd rather make more quilts instead of spending so much time quilting one.

Once you get the hang of stippling, you can easily finish quilting a small quilt in a few hours. It is a great foundational skill to build upon. It takes a lot of practice, but is well worth the effort to learn.

Step 13 - Trim Away Excess
Once your top is quilted, you will want to square up the quilt as described in step 10. Trim away excess batting and backing from the outer edges of the quilt. 

Step 14 - Binding

Cut (5) 2 1/2" strips for binding. Use your favorite method join the strips together and to attach binding to the quilt.

I'm always looking for a better method to bind a quilt. The other day I ran across a wonderful tutorial on You Tube by the Missouri Star Quilt Company called The Ultimate Quilt Binding Tutorial. This tutorial may be helpful for those who are struggling with any binding issues.

If you end up making a quilt using the Flexi Strip concept I'd love to hear from you! My prayer is that many donation quilts will be made as a result of this pattern.

May you always Sew in Peace!

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