Thursday, June 23, 2011

Binding your quilt

Different prints can add visual interest to a quilt edge. Look for evenly spaced dots, small scale prints, horizontal or diagonal stripes. Audition 1/2' strips across the width of the fabric along your finished quilt top so you know what it will look like before you cut into it!
There's nothing like the feeling of finally finishing your quilt with a good binding! It feels lovely and completes your quilt.

A binding can add visual interest to a quilt, it can also help frame your quilt top. Experiment with using fabric scraps from your quilt, stripes and spots also look great. Sometimes a solid colour binding can hold a busy design together.

I like to use a double binding cut across the width of the fabric as it lasts longer, quilt edges can get a lot of wear and tear if used daily. Bias binding is more often used for scalloped or pointy edges as they are thinner and follow curves more readily.

I also like my bindings to be narrow and plump so I cut them 2.5" wide. That gives me enough to include the 1/2" edge and wadding snuggly. You may prefer a flatter, wider binding, you'll need to experiment to work out your preferences.

Remember to join strips on the diagonal so the seams aren't too bulky!

To work out how much binding you need measure around the outside of your quilt. You will need an extra 10" or so to be on the safe side. There are so many excellent tutorials available showing you how to bind your finished quilt!

This one shows you how to attach the binding by machine and then hand stitch to finish. This is my preference as your stitches will not show through to the quilt front.
If you really can't face 4 metres of hand stitching you will need to practice this machine stitching technique before you attempt it on your quilt. Make sure your top thread matches the binding and your bottom thread matches your quilt backing fabric if you are machine stitching. This technique would only suit bindings made from a continuous colour or you would have to change the top thread often.

Once your binding is finished many quilters like to label their quilts. More about that next time!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On Point Layout, 9 pieced blocks

And finally... here are the cutting and layout instructions for a lap quilt using 9 pieced blocks and 4 plain blocks. This quilt is set on point which makes for slightly trickier cutting and construction techniques...

Square Lap Quilt on POINT

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fabric & Cutting Requirements for your SQUARE LAP QUILT

Print out the fabric and cutting requirements to finish a quilt using 16 x 12" blocks here:

Square Quilt Fabric and Cutting

Fabric and Cutting Requirements for your BABY QUILT

Print out the fabric and cutting requirements for your Baby Quilt here:

Baby Quilt Fabric and Cutting

Week 7, Scrap Busting Blocks

Well, this week we were going to attempt some blocks to use up scraps from this quilt but -we got sidetracked looking at our final quilt construction, quilting techniques and finishing. That's all good but you're probably still wondering what you're going to do with your scraps!

So here are some ideas for blocks that use strips, triangles and other fabric scraps. There has been a trend over the past few years towards improvised blocks .

I bet you'd never thought you'd be looking at quilting trends when you signed up did you?

This image of 2006 Gees Bend Commemorative Stamps from is taken from this website.

A great example of the improvised block style are the Gees Bend Quilts and this modern look has been taken up by many quilters and designers like Denyse Schmidt. In fact, you can attend day long workshops with Denyse to learn how to make your quilt blocks look random and unstructured!

Many quilters aim to use up all our scraps, sometimes it's the only time we practice frugality. And whilst we may think that fabric is a pricey luxury today, historically it was a precious commodity and nothing was wasted. Clothing was recycled into bedding, ribbons pieced together to make tablecloths and bedcovers, old blankets cut up, pieced together and embellished into a new blanket or drapes.

Here are some of my favourite scrappy blocks:

1. The log cabin block, perfect when you have many left over strips. They don't need to be the same width and colour. A wonderful effect can be achieved by mixing colours, tonal value and size. If you have lots of strips you may also want to try a Stacked Block.

2. Spider web block. The neat thing about this block is that you sew the scraps onto a foundation so you can use up even your tiniest scrap, this is called string piecing. Here's a great tutorial on this technique at Sew, Mama, Sew!

3. Improv block. A real beauty, anything goes! Work with a solid or neutral fabric as a base and piece scraps randomly till they are pleasing and the correct size. The Sometimes Crafter has a great post about piecing these blocks.

4. Blocks using tiny squares eg the Postage Stamp block, Sashed 9 Patch and C12 Family Reunion from the Dear Jane quilt.

There is a whole section of the quilting world dedicated to scrap quilting, I can't wait to get my copy of Scrap Republic by Emily Cier later this year. Try Amy at Badskirt and Mari at The Quilting Edge for some inspirational photos.


Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the quilt layout dimensions you asked for. I'll have to upload those tomorrow! Lorena x

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Week 6, Foundation Paper Piecing

Click on the image to enlarge. More details available on my flickr page

Get ready to stretch your mind!

Foundation paper piecing is not an easy concept to grasp for the first time. In fact it can be downright frustrating as many of you experienced on Wednesday night! The fact is that you can get by as a quilter without ever learning this technique but it sure makes easy work of blocks with many angled seams, miniature pieces and precision points.

Once you learn this technique it's just another tool to tackle a complex block. Like most things, you get better with practice and making multiples is much easier than making just one.

Piecing over a foundation of paper or stabiliser fabric lets beginners achieve a difficult look without struggling with seam allowances and questions over which direction to press them.

You will need a few tools by your side when you start: a cutting matt, a rotary cutter, a ruler, some pins and an iron. Don't ever use steam when you press paper pieced block as the ink can ruin your fabrics.

Next you will need to select a pattern and either draft it onto graph paper using a pencil or use quilting software (I use Electric Quilt) to design and print out your foundation pattern.

By breaking down a block into rectangular units and then joining these units together you can make up some wonderful shapes. For example the alphabet, animals and many traditional pieced blocks.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Week 5, English Paper Piecing

This image of an antique quilt is from
English Paper Piecing is a patchwork technique steeped in history and is still used extensively by modern quilters. It's a particularly useful technique for creating one patch quilts (quilt tops made from one tessellating shape) and blocks with many inset or “y” seams.

This is part of a corner block from the Jane Stickle quilt.

Many quilters like sewing over paper or cardboard templates as the project can be carried along and sewn by hand. Piecing a complex shape with straight sides using the English Paper Piecing method is pretty easy and as long as your templates are cut to the right size, the pieces will always fit together. You don’t really need to worry about accurate ¼ “ seams either.

This block was made using The Sometimes Crafter excellent Tutorial, you can download templates there too.
Rather than reinvent the wheel and try to put everything in my own words I recommend you head over to for a definitive guide on English Paper Piecing. They sell pre made templates from lightweight card. These templates are also available from your local quilt store and online.

You can also print out your own templates by using websites such as Alternatively you can draft templates using graph paper and trace the shapes onto card. I've uploaded a couple of graph papers here to get you started:

By fussy cutting the fabric for each shape you can create secondary patterns with just one piece of fabric. Be warned... This can be a lot of fun and very addictive!

The cardboard templates can be reused many times so don’t throw them away. Be sure to sort all your different sizes and label them as a slight change in length of a side means your shape will not tessellate properly. Take care when cutting out your templates too, try and cut in the middle of a printed line and allow for the extra bulk when you are tracing templates.

Once you've made your shape you can either applique it onto a square of your background material or keep adding hexagons, diamonds etc till you have enough to cover the area of your block. It is possible to create a square edge by trimming shapes around the edges, make sure you remember to leave a seam allowance!