Friday, 28 January 2011

Bow Tie Quilt Block Tote Bag

I decided to make this tote bag using the bow tie quilt block because it has such a different look with only  a few minor adjustments to the basic bow tie quilt block.  I also decided to use bought in handles rather than fabric handles, just for a change.

To make the bow tie quilt block panels you will need sixteen 3.1/2" squares in both the dark brown and the light brown, and thirty two 1.1/2" blue squares.  As ever, I found it easiest to cut a 3.1/2" strip across the width and then cut that at 3.1/2" intervals to make the squares.

Place a small blue square in a corner of each of the large brown squares (light and dark) and sew across the diagonal of the blue square.
This is such an easy way of adding a small triangle to a large square.

Trim the bottom two layers of the corner 1/4" from the seam and fold the remaining layer down to complete the square.

Sew a light brown square to a dark brown square and then sew the two pairs together.  Repeat with all the other squares.

You should now have eight of the bow tie blocks - four each for the front and the back of the bag.  Sew these together in pairs and then fours.

In order to frame the bow tie panel, I added a 1.1/2" strip of blue at top and bottom and then down each side, and then the same again with a 1.1/2" strip of brown fabric.
With right sides together, sew the two panels together along the sides and across the bottom of the tote bag.

I have used circular bamboo handles on this tote bag so I needed four straps for them.  I used a strip of brown fabric 1.1/2" by 8" with each long edge folded into the middle and then the whole length folded in half.  Stitch along the length to secure the strap.

Place two straps (folded in half) each on the front and the back tote bag panels.  Line up the raw edges of the straps with the top of the panels, in line with the seam between dark and light brown squares and angled in towards the middle.  The photo on the left shows where to place the straps, on the right shows them with the bag handle inserted, which must be done at this stage.  Pin firmly in place.

For the tote bag lining, cut two 16.1/2" squares and with right sides together sew down the two sides to create a tube.

With the right side facing in, gently pull the tube of lining down over the bag, taking care not to dislodge the straps.  Pin and then sew round the top of the bag.  I tend to use a 1/2" seam for this to make sure that all layers (particularly the straps) are caught in the stitching.

Pull the lining up over the bag so that it is right side out.  Turn under, pin and sew a small hem at the end of the tube.  This will be at the bottom of the tote bag.  Push the lining back inside the bag, gently pushing out the corners.

It's worth running a line of stitching round the top of the bag now just to hold the layers in place. Tote bag complete and ready to take shopping.

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You'll find more ideas for making bags at free patterns bags.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Fat Quarter Quilts - Quilt Pattern For Eight Fat Quarters

I love buying fat quarter quilt packs.  They often include fabrics that I wouldn't have thought of buying, yet they co-ordinate beautifully with the other fat quarters in the pack.  Recently I came across some gorgeous John Louden fat quarter packs from the Tapestry range.  There are eight fat quarters in each pack so of course then I had to think of a patchwork quilt pattern that would use up all eight fat quarters at once.  I hope you like my choice.

The quilt block that I chose is called Lady of the White House.  No, sorry, I haven't a clue why.  Unusually, I couldn't find any other names for it either.  It consists of a pinwheel block in the centre and either a nine patch block or a three stripe block on some edges.

I have made four quilt blocks using two fat quarterrs (one light and one dark) in each block.  I cut each fat quarter along the longer length and from each one I cut one strip 6.3/4" wide and four strips 2.1/2" wide.

For the white background fabric, I used about 1.1/2 yards of fabric cut into eight 6.1/2" strips and four 2.1/2" strips.

Cut the wide strips across at 6.3/4" intervals to make squares.  You should get three squares from each length.  Place one light and one dark triangle with right sides together, mark a line along the diagonal and sew a seam 1/4" either side of the marked line. 
Cut along the line between the two seams and you will have two squares, each made up of one dark and one light triangle.

Repeat with the other two pairs of squares.  You will only need four squares for each quilt block, so the two spare will be used to make another block.

Sew the squares together in pairs and then sew two pairs together.  Check against the photo to make sure that you have the triangles the right way round.

From the remaining 2.1/2" fabric strips select two dark and one light strip and sew them together along the length with the light strip in the middle.  Press and cut across the width to make two 6.3/4" squares and three 2.1/2" strips.  You actually need four of these 2.1/2" strips so the fourth will have to be made by cutting a 2.1/2" square in dark, light and dark from other strips and sewing them together.

Now select two light and one dark strip of fabric and sew them together along the length with the dark strip in the middle.  Press and cut across the width at 2.1/2" intervals.  You will need two of these for the quilt block and the remainder will be used in the quilt border.

Sew together a strip of dark, light dark then a strip of light, dark, light and then another strip of dark, light, dark to make a nine patch square.

For the contrasting fabric I think a coffee colour would have looked better, but I was determined to use up fabric from my stash and this off white was the only one I had that was remotely suitable.  Cut a 6.1/2" strip across the width of the white fabric and cut into 6.1/2" squares.  You will need eight of these for each quilt block.

Take one of the strip squares and sew a white square to one side and two white squares to the other side.  Notice which way the stripes are facing in the photo.

Sew a white square to one side of the nine patch block.  These are now the main components of the fat quarter quilt block.

Lay the pieces out as shown.  Note that the stripe squares and nine patch squares are placed against a dark part of the pinwheel.  Sew the nine patch strips to either side of the pinwheel square and then sew the top row to the pinwheel block and add the bottom row.

Repeat with the remaining six fat quarters to make three more quilt blocks.  You should then have enough pieces left over to make two more quilt blocks.  Press carefully and sew all the quilt blocks together.  I find it best to sew three blocks together in a row twice and then sew the two rows together - that way any one seam is only ever two blocks long, which is easier to sew.

So now the quilt border.  I was determined not to add to my fabric stash so all the fabric left had to go into the border.  I cut all the reamining fat quarter fabric into 2.1/2" squares or where possible I sewed several strips together and then cut 2.1/2" strips.  I ended up with 57 squares.

I needed to split these into eight sections so that I could have one strip either side of each corner, so I sewed together eight strips of seven squares each.  Result - I only had one 2.1/2" square left over to add to my stash which really pleased me.

At this stage the fat quarter quilt top measures 48" by 72".  Each strip measures 14" long.  So to make a border along the short edges I need two strips of white 20" long by 2.1/2" wide (because that gives 14" plus 14" from the squares, plus 20" white to make 48" total).  the strips I cut were 20.1/2" by 2.1/2" to include seam allowance.

Sew one strip across the top and one across the bottom of the quilt.  Before sewing, pin the strip at each end and at points along the length so that one or other of the border strip or the quilt edge don't stretch, leaving you with a mis match when you get to the end of the seam.

The calculations for the quilt border strip going down each side of the fat quarter quilt are similar.  Each strip should be one white square, seven patchwork squares, strip of white 44" long by 2.1/2" wide, seven patchwork squares, one white square.  This gives a white square for each corner of the patchwork quilt (technical term - cornerstones).

I was really pleased with the way the fat quarter quilt turned out - especially as I didn't add any extra to my fabric stash!  I hope you like it, too.

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You'll find more quilting ideas at how to quilt.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Simple Patchwork Cushion Cover

This cushion cover is the simplest form to make with an envelope style backing.  More complicated styles with zips and things can wait for another time.

The front of the cushion cover is made entirely from 2.1/2" squares.  There are nine rows and nine columns making an 18" square.

I used five dark blue squares, sixteen yellow squares, sixteen pink squares, twelve white squares, fourteen light blue squares, sixteen red squares.  The design is loosely based on an Amish design called Sunshine and shadow.  You will also need an 18.1/2" wide strip of fabric for the patchwork panel backing and the cushion cover backing.

Normally I would recommend starting at the top lefthand corner, sewing each row together and then sewing the rows together, but in this case I felt safer starting with the middle row and sewing the rows above and below it.  Check the photo and sew the squares together with right sides together and using a 1/4" seam.  It would be possible to sew two strips together, for example the pale blue and white fabrics, and then cut 2.1/2" strips from the double strip, but I am trying to keep this as simple as possible for now.

Press each row with all the seams facing in one direction and then check when sewing the rows together that the seams of one row face in the opposite direction to the seams of the other row.  This makes your seams less bulky.  Pin each seam before sewing the rows together.  That way you can keep the seams facing the way you want them to and also keep each square in line with the ones above or below it.

For the backing, take the 18.1/2" strip and cut one length of 18.1/2" to make a square for the patchwork panel backing.  Cut the remaining length in half to give two pieces approximately 18.1/2" by 12" for the cushion cover backing.

Sew the square piece to the back of the patchwork panel.  I used a few straight lines running along the seams of the patchwork.  For a more complex design you could quilt it with a design to suit.

Now take the two remaining pieces of backing and along one of the long edges of each one turn under a small hem then turn under again so that the raw edge is completely protected.  Stitch close to the edge.  I have used white thread so that it will show up on the photo.  With right sides together, place one of the panels across the lower half of the patchwork panel with the hemmed edge across the middle.

Place the other panel across the top of the patchwork panel, overlapping the bottom panel by about 6".  This will create the envelope section for you to insert the cushion pad. 

Sew right round the perimeter of the panel, turn the cushion cover right side out through the opening in the middle, gently push the corners out and insert cushion pad.

Having mastered the basics of making a cushion cover, you can repeat the process using any design you choose for the patchwork panel.  This one was made using three strips of 2.1/2" fabric sewn together and then cut into lengths - two lengths of 18.1/2" and three lengths of 6.1/2".  There is an 18.1/2" length running down each side and the centre panel is made of three 6.1/2" lengths sewn together lengthwise.  You will need two 2.1/2" strips of each fabric cut across the width.

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You'll find more ideas for quilting at Ludlow Quilt and Sew How to Quilt.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Rag Quilts - Making a Maple Leaf Rag Quilt

For this rag quilt project I used the maple leaf design quilt block.  This is slightly different from the maple leaf quilt block which has a stem.  The maple leaf design quilt block has two maple leaves opposite each other and no stems.  It's obviously easier to make if you are making lots of them.

For each rag quilt block you will need:
Background fabric:  two 4.1/2" squares, four 2.3/4" squares and four 2.1/2" squares
Leaf fabric:  four 2.3/4" squares, six 2.1/2" squares, six 2.1/2" squares, two 6.1/2" by 2.1/2" rectangles and two 4.1/2" by 2.1/2" rectangles.  You can get all the 2.1/2" pieces from one strip cut across the width.
Two strips of sashing 12.1/2" by 2", and two strips 15.1/2" by 2"
Backing fabric 15.1/2" square, wadding 14.1/2" square.

The leaf fabric for three rag quilt blocks can be cut from a fat quarter so it's a great chance to use some of those fat quarters you have lying around to provide some variety in your quilt.

It's easiest to make the half square triangles first.

Place one 2.3/4" square of each fabric with right sides together and draw a line along the diagonal.  Sew a seam 1/4" either side of the marked line and cut along the line (between the seams).  This should give you two squares each made up of two triangles of each colour.  Repeat with the other three 2.3/4" squares, giving you eight of the combined squares.

The maple leaf design quilt block is basically made up of two mirror image halves.  I found it easiest to lay out the pieces for the block without the combined squares as shown and then add those in afterwards.

The top and bottom rows are made up of a gold square, a combined square, a pink square and the 6.1/2" rectangle.  With right sides together and using a 1/4" seam, sew these together in pairs and then join the pairs to complete the row.

For the next row of the rag quilt block, sew the smaller squares together to make 4" pieces and then sew them across the row to complete the second row.  Repeat for the third row.  do check the photo to see which way your triangles face.  I had a real attack of the gremlins while I was doing this:  I would lay the pieces down in the right way, pick them up carefully facing the right way and then when I'd sewn them the triangle would be facing the wrong way!

With right sides together and using a 1/4" seam, sew the top row to the second row.  the third and fourth rows are the same but facing the opposite way.

I used red sashing for the rag quilt.  sew the two 12.1/2" by 2" strips to the sides of the block and two 15.1/2" by 2" strips to the top and bottom.

This is a quilt as you go project, so cut backing fabric the same size as your quilt block (15.1/2" square) and lay it with right side down.  The wadding needs to be 1/2" smaller all the way round.  I found it easiest to cut the wadding roughly the same size as the backing fabric and then trim it when it was placed on the backing fabric.

Pin the three layers and quilt them together.  I stitched along the outline of each maple leaf and then again 1/4" away from the first line of stitching.  I didn't quilt on to the sashing, but thinking about it now it probably wouldn't have made any difference if I had.  That's one maple leaf quilt block complete.  Repeat eight more times to make nine rag quilt blocks.

Place two maple leaf quilt blocks with wrong sides together.  I really struggled on this because I instrinctively wanted to put right sides together.  Using a 1/2" seam, sew the two blocks together and then sew another line of stitching close to the first line.

The idea of a rag quilt is that you have fringing betwen the blocks, so snip the edge towards the line of stitching at 1/4" intervals.  I prefer to do this with each seam as I sew it because if you leave it all to the end there's an awful lot of snipping to do.

Join three blocks across each row in this way and then join the three rag quilt rows together.  The snipped edges will fray with time and washing, giving a lovely silky fringe to your rag quilt.

You could then sew and snip all round the outer edge of your rag quilt but I always prefer binding so I used a brown binding round the edge of my rag quilt.  Baste all round the edge of the rag quilt far enough in from the edge so that you catch the wadding.  Trim the sashing to the level of the wadding and then bind.
This is one idea for a rag quilt, but obviously you could make a rag quilt from any quilt block pattern.  Just sew the blocks together with wrong sides together and snip the edges of the seam.

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You'll find more quilting ideas at how to quilt.