ABC’s Quilt

Let me start by saying that I never intended to do quilt tutorials on this fabulous Moda blog that I feel very lucky to be a part of. You get plenty of quilt ideas and patterns and instructions elsewhere (and here, too) from quilters more capable than me. But I have a few TIPS and IDEAS that I wanted to share, so follow along, make a quilt, and maybe add something new to your quilt making idea file.

From the Basic Grey Sultry line:
One honey bun
One charm pack
1 yard Fandango Grunge
1 yard Fandango Elite
1 yard Citron Swell
1 yard Friar Swell
1 yard Citron Classy

From the Citron Classy cut 25 six inch blocks. These are what you will set your letters on.
From the Fandango Elite cut 18 1.5″ strips in the 45″ selvage to selvage direction (commonly known as wof for width of fabric)..
From the Friar Swell cut 12 1.5″ strips in the 45″ wof.
From the Citron Swell cut nine 8-inch blocks. Cut these in half on the diagonal for 18 triangles.

Cut your ABC set. There are many ways to do this. You may already have your own method of choice. You may use the method I described here on the Happy Birthday banner I posted a few months ago. You could even make things a whole lot easier and just buy a set here.

TIP: I drew a 6″ square (the size of my block) on a piece of paper, and then drew intersecting lines through it as shown. This gives you a dead center visual on the block so you aren’t left solely dependent on *eyeballing* the center placement for each letter. When you’ve got a lock on the placement, just lift a corner of the block, gently slide out the paper, and then press your letter down (assuming you’ve backed it with iron-on fabric adhesive). Of course, this wouldn’t work so well if using a dark fabric. The TIP for getting all 26 letters in a square is to put two letters on one block. For these on point blocks the I and J fit well together. On regular set blocks I typically put the Y and Z together.

Once all your letters are pressed on the blocks, stitch them down according to your preference. I just LOVE a good blanket stitch, so that’s what I always use now. But for years of course I used a tight zigzag. You can use coordinating or contrasting thread. Depends on the look you’re going for.

Next attach the Fandango Elite (pink print) strips on all four sides of each block. Using a clear square quilter’s rule, square up the ABC blocks to 7.5″ (I’ll show pics of these two steps on the next block).

Now assemble the 16 pieced “in-between” blocks. Pick 16 five inch squares from the charm pack. Pick random strips from the honey bun and sew to charms as follows

Sew one honey bun strip down one side of a charm square. Trim off flush to edge of square. Fold right side over and then sew a different honey bun strip down the next side. Trim off excess.

Sew the Friar Swell (dark brown) strips around all four edges

Then square it up to 7.5 inches with the help of a square quilter’s ruler

If you do the math, or if you just have a really good eye, you’ll see that the blocks and their borders aren’t identical in size to each other, even tho they are (most importantly) the same 7.5 inches around. I ended up having to cut the 25 letter blocks six inches (before borders) to accommodate the letters I have. The 16 in-between blocks are only 5.5 inches before adding the border, but in the end it all trims out and I think it just adds one more level of interest by being slightly different.
Moving on…
This may be a TIP someone hasn’t considered. I wrap a pair of sliding closet doors in inexpensive white fleece. Flannel would work too. This works as my design space. Much cleaner and easier to visualize on than the floor I used for years! I stapled mine on permanently as it’s in my own dedicated space but you could make a temporary installation with the use of velcro.

I put all the blocks up on the wall and just take them down one row at a time to sew together. Then just sew each row one to the other. You’ll see that two of the green 8 inch triangles were cut in half again, for the four corners.

Now, using an 18 or 24 inch long quilter’s ruler, trim the edges down to 1/4 inch from points as shown above. Edge the entire quilt in a one inch border of the dark brown (Friar Swell) after 1/4″ seams it will be half an inch). Then edge the entire quilt in a 3.5 inch border of the green (Citron Swell).

(Oh look! It’s back on the floor. Old habits…) It looks pretty good as is, right? Well, I have an IDEA that will take it up a notch in an easy and whimsical way. Scallops!
Measure the inner (dark brown) border. This one is just about 50 inches so I thought I’d make it easy on myself and draw ten 5″ half circles on each edge. The math was the easy part. Finding a five inch circle (at my house) was the hard part. I finally found a single serving cake pan that worked well. 🙂

Try not to approach this part with precision (using a cake pan helps!). An imperfect “sketchy” look really works best. Once you’ve traced the half circles all the way around, you take it to the sewing machine and sew in a contrasting thread. TIP: use a quilting or darning foot with the feed dogs DOWN. It’ll go way faster. Here’s what one go around looks like

eh..nothin‘ to write home about. Here’s how it looks after sewing three times around

Getting better! Three is actually about all I do on smaller quilts, but these scallops are rather large so I sewed five times around.

You can see that I make a point to sew each line close to each other, but not exactly right on top of each other. Then take your favorite sharp tipped scissors and trim very close to the outermost stitching. Then I wash and dry it to fluff up the raw edge and trim off the resultant loose threads.
Here is a good close-up of the fabrics used and the finished edge.

One final IDEA I want to share is a way to incorporate your label with a hanging sleeve. Just last year I finally realized the importance of labeling one’s quilts, so now I label just about everything I make. On this quilt I figured out the font size I needed for the width of the quilt and printed out the title on iron-on t-shirt transfer paper (buy at any office supply store). I put my name, town and year in a much smaller font at the end of the title.

Wow! You can tell by the glimpse that the back is pretty busy, huh? I threw every leftover bit I had in with two additional yards of brown fabric and worked at piecing it all for a couple of days! Of course it’s terribly busy and took a lot of time, but now that I’ve done it I won’t wonder “what if?” anymore. I cropped this tight so you can just look at the labeled hanging sleeve. 🙂 OH. One more way I’ve done it in the past is to again figure out what size font is appropriate and then print the text on printer fabric. I then pieced the 11 inch (size of paper) runs of text together and appliqued this onto a larger fabric sleeve.

One 55″ square ABC quilt.

I hope I’ve inspired you to make your own ABC quilt, and given you an idea or two that maybe you hadn’t thought of before. I think every home with children ought to have at least one of these! It would be a super gift to make, too. I’ve created a gallery of ABC quilt ideas on my blog, and still have many ideas I’ll be adding as they get made. Have fun with your creativity!
jen duncan

PS: THANK YOU! to PamKittyMorning for helping me figure out how to upload these pics so that you can click them and see the enlarged versions. whew! Sometimes it just takes someone to say it just the right way. 🙂 (hint: html)

Sweet n Shabby Woven Pillow Cover

One Honey Bun – featured Hello Betty by Chloe’s Closet
One fat quarter (for backing)
16 inch pillow form
17 inch square of muslin or other fabric
Heat n’ Bond sewable (light) iron on adhesive

buttons, pompoms, chenille, ribbon

Since the pillow we are making is 16 inches, we will cut the backing fabric 17 inches square. I just used whatever white fabric I had available, as it will not show. Use a clear acrylic quilters rule to mark pencil lines 1 to 2″ apart. Both vertically and horizontally. This will be somewhat of a guide to keep you straight and on track as you lay the fabric strips down.

Cut several 1/2″ strips of Heat n’ Bond.

Apply them to the backing fabric with a hot iron, about an inch apart

Pull all the paper strips off, exposing the adhesive (the lower five shiny rows you see above).

Determine how many strips from the honey bun you need for your square. For this size I needed 22 1.5″ wide strips (11 horizontally & 11 vertically). Pick the fabrics you will be using

and cut them into 17 inch lengths. (nip off those white selvage edges first.)

This next picture shows how I start a strip in the middle, one for each direction. For an accurate measure, I just butt strips side by side starting at the edge and leave the one in the middle.

Now you just start weaving strips in one at a time. Pretty much like we did in grade school, but in this case it is easiest if you start in the middle and work your way out. Alternating one horizontal and then one diagonal.
See how I just flop every other strip back to weave in a new strip? Then lay them back down and go do the same thing on the other side. When you complete the first corner, you might want to carefully slide it onto the ironing board for a quick press of the finished area (I used a large cutting mat to transport it) and then put it back on the worktable to complete the weaving.

When you get to an end piece it’s helpful to pin back the strips that you are weaving under.

When the entire square is satisfactorily woven, go to the ironing board and press the piece well. Except for every other little end piece flapping loosely, it’s relatively secure at this point, but I would suggest you sew up and down each edge for added security (You will see I did that in the next photo). If you are adding a fabric silhouette piece, do so now. It’s easiest if you back a contrasting fabric with the iron on adhesive, cut out your shape, iron it down, then stitch around it.
If you are adding pompom trim to the edge, do so now. For beginning sewers who haven’t yet added trim like this, I’ll give a quickie lesson. Lay the pompom trim down with the poms facing inward as shown, butting the edge of the trim to the raw edge of the right side of your woven pillow top. Then sew a half inch seam all around. I like to sew in a little curve around each corner, rather than turning a sharp 90degree angle at each corner.

(Remember to note in the above photo how I sewed up and down each raw edged strip).

Now take your 18×22 fat quarter, trim it to 17×22, and cut in half so that you have two pieces that each measure 17×11. On one long side of each of those do a scant hem running the 17″ direction. (I fold over once, press, then zigzag stitch). Pin each of these two rectangles to your pillow front, right sides together, hemmed edges toward the center, and corners matching (I flapped up one end to illustrate the overlap you will have)
Now sew around all four sides, and turn your pillow cover right sides out. A lot of people might choose to just stitch a 17×17 backing square most of the way around, leave a little opening, turn right sides out, fill with stuffing and whip stitch the opening closed, but this way you can easily remove the pillow insert and wash the cover as needed.

Make small marks on both sides of the pillow back, for two ribbon closures as shown.
I cut four equal lengths of ribbon, six or seven inches long. With each of the four pieces, place an end on the marked spot with the right side of the ribbon down as shown, stitch back and forth 2 or 3 times,
Then, without taking the piece from the machine, leave the needle in the down position in the fabric, raise the machine foot, flip the ribbon over right side up, and stitch back and forth over the ribbon 2 or 3 times again.

Don’t you agree this is a nicer way to finish a pillow? I thought you would!

The sweet shabbiness happens after you wash it a time or two.

When I pulled this out of the dryer I had to cut off a lot of threads that had unraveled from the raw edges, but because Moda uses a mini zigzag cut on the edges(they think of everything!) it is really quite minimal. Just the right amount of ‘fuzziness’, in my opinion.

I really had such fun making this and kept having ideas for other ways to decorate it so I had to immediately make a second one. I remembered I had some of this instant *chenille* that I’d bought several years ago.

(You can find it here and there online if you google “Chenille-It”)

I did not stitch down each side of each strip as I did above, I just laid two strip of the chenille tape (double layer for extra fluffiness) down over each strip edge and sewed down the center as shown in this next picture

Then, as you can see, I thought about putting pom poms at each or every other intersection, but ultimately I decided to add buttons.

I think for this option to really work you want to have a wide variety of buttons. A real “Grandma’s stash” assortment. 🙂

The *magic* happens with this chenille after a machine wash and dry.

I can’t say it was “fun” sewing down 100 buttons through all the layers, but I am glad that I did it. 🙂

Well, now I have TWO very similar pillows, so I think I’ll give the bird and pompoms one away to someone. Come leave a comment on the pillow post at my blog and it might be to YOU! WINNER HAS BEEN DRAWN. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO CAME AND COMMENTED!

Two pillows with a fair amount of leftover strips and pieces for another project on another day.

21st Century Window Beads

Remember those groovy plastic window beads of the 60’s? They were my inspiration for this quick and easy way to get some great new fabrics in your decorating design. Go to the moda fabric website with your own decorating colors in mind and I’m sure you’ll find they have just the line you need!

One honey bun (I used Sultry by Basic Grey to go in my pink & brown bathroom )
Wood craft beads with large holes
First off, a little bit of math is required. My window measured 37 inches wide. I divided that by 1.5″ (the width of the honey bun strips) . The result was 24 point something so I rounded up to 25 strips. I picked 25 strips from the roll and laid them out in a pleasing manner.

Now, before we do the tiny amount of sewing that is required, I will show you a couple ways you can get this done with no sewing at all. One way would be to tie them on to your curtain rod

Another idea would be to attach each strip with various buttons
For this window I sewed the top “sleeve”. I would fold over the same amount on each, working one strip at a time as I sewed.
After a quick measure, I’d flip it over and sew continuously, never cutting the thread from the previous strip.
You’ll see I applied a piece of low-tack tape to the machine as a temporary sewing guide so that my line stayed straight. Now I have 25 strips sewn together. I then ran them through for a second line of stitches
Mainly because I’ve just always sewn window curtains with that top ‘pleat’. So, in less than 20 minutes you have your strips ready to hang. Now we move on to the beads.

I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to do fabric covered beads for this. OH I tried and tried. Different glues. Different applications. It just wasn’t going to work for me. And I needed fifty beads so for heaven’s sake I didn’t want to spend an hour messing with each one! There are great tutorials to be found online, and you may have better luck with it than I did, but I cut my losses and moved on to spray paint.

The above picture shows how I first started trying to spray in a box (not so great) but then I made a jig with a scrap piece of wood and lots of nails. Over the course of a day and a half I’d go out in the garage and spray a coat whenever I remembered to. True sign of a craft supplies junkie: I already had six cans of paint that would coordinate with my fabric!

You can arrange the beads in an allover random effect, or in a pattern as I did. Then just trim the ends of the strips so they sit nicely on the sill. My window was just tall enough that I only trimmed about an inch off the 45″ length, but if your window is even longer, you could attach strips end to end and hide that spot inside a bead.

Voila! Simple as that; you are done.

submitted by jen duncan

Happy Birthday Banner

They’ll know as soon as they walk in the door and see this cheerful banner that a fun time is soon to follow!

From Sandy Gervais’ Objects of Desire, I used:
one Layer Cake (10 inch squares)
and one Charm Pack (5 inch squares)


half yard white fabric
Heat N Bond, or other iron on adhesive

smaller pompom trims, dress trims, buttons, ric rac, fabric yoyo’s

You will be making 14 individual pennants—the 13 letters that spell HAPPY BIRTHDAY plus one that will act as a space between the 2 words. Select 14 ten inch squares from the layer cake. Trim the squares down to 5.5 inches by 8 inches. Select 14 five inch squares from the charm pack (these will be used for the letters). Lay the pennants and coordinating letter fabrics out in a way that pleases you.

Cut 14 five inch squares of the Heat N Bond

and iron them on to the backs of the five inch squares.

I own a die cut alphabet set, and used it to make the letters for this banner, but here is an alternative way to produce your letters. In whatever computer program you have at home (I’ve always used MS Publisher) create a letter 4 inches tall and mirror image it (flip it backwards). Pick a font that has some width to it. Print on copy paper. Do this for each letter needed. Now create a sandwich in the following order: fabric wrong side up (Heat N Bond paper facing you), dressmaker’s carbon paper (ink side down), and finally; right side up, the paper with the backwards printed letter.

Trace over the letter with a pen, which transfers the marking to your project

Cut out and peel off paper back. Iron it on to it’s coordinating pennant.

From the white fabric, cut 14 rectangles 5.5″ by 8″. This is for the backing (or lining). Pin a white backing fabric to each lettered pennant, right sides together. Sew 1/4” seam up the two long sides.

Turn inside out and press. TIP: I got a fast and accurate straight edge press by inserting a piece of cardstock like this (use steam + be quick = no burning)

Now lay them out in order and play around with placement of different trims and edgings. Sew trims in place. TIP: from this point on I use clear monofilament thread in the upper position and white bobbin thread. That way I don’t have to keep changing thread colors.

Next you will attach the individual pennants to the long piece of pom pom trim. Find the center of the trim piece and the center of your saying (in this case the center is between the B and the I in Birthday) and begin attaching each pennant. You could pin and then sew on the machine, but I get much better results by running a quick basting seam. If you do it in the same color as the trim you won’t even have to bother with pulling it out later.

I found myself using Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue for a few things as seen in the next picture. The buttons on top of the fabric yo yos, applying the yo yos themselves to the pennants, applying the three layered button (on the T) to the fabric, and finishing the edges of the thick green pom pom trim for added security. It was dry enough to work around within 10 minutes. The smaller buttons I sewed by hand.

The amount of embellishments you choose to use is all a matter of personal taste. Here are a couple of close ups for a few ideas

Notice on the D pennant in this next picture I used the scrap strip from a scallop rotary blade cut as a trim piece

If you hang this throughout the year for various family members birthdays you could even start it with no embellishments but keep adding small pictures and mementos here and there as the years go by.

There will be enough fabric for two banners (give one to a friend!) with plenty leftover to brighten up your scrap stash. Approximately six feet long, not including extra length of trim on each side.

Come visit me at my blog! jen duncan