I’m excited to be a part of a week-long blog hop to celebrate the expansion of my friend Bernie’s Etsy shop, Needle & Foot. Bernie recently decided to follow her heart and is now stocking a variety of modern quilting cottons in addition to her made goods, and she invited a few blogging friends to help spread the word and spark inspiration about what can be made using the fabric newly stocked in her shop. She invited me to select some fat quarters from her shop, and I’m excited to show you what I made.
She’s also generously offering a giveaway so that one lucky reader can win either 6 fat quarters or 3 half-yard cuts of fabric! Read on to find out how to enter! In addition to the giveaway at the end of this post, Bernie is offering everyone a coupon code to her new shop. Use the code NANDFREADERS15 for 15% off any order over $5.00, active through Sunday, March 26th.
But first, my makes! When Bernie first invited me to be a part of this blog hop, and asked which fabrics I’d most like to use, it was all I could do to resist her selection of Alison Glass fabrics, since, well… you know how I am with all things Alison Glass! I decided to go with a bit of variety though, with the plan to make a few small things and incorporate her fabrics into my current projects. Stash building is a totally legit way to fabric shop, right!?
I probably could incorporate that Rainbow on White print into every single one of my projects somehow–the colors are just so perfect! I started out by making a half moon zippered pouch with the Rainbow on White and my Sizzix 8″ Half Oval die, and I added a meticulously cut, fused, and stitched bee from Bumble Buzz Blue as a fun embellishment. The colors play so nicely together, and there’s nothing like a little hand-stitched detail to add some extra fun to FUNctional.
I lined the pouch with the Hip to be Square print, and love how festive it is. This pouch now lives in my purse, and contains two spiral bound notebooks and a couple of mechanical pencils so that I know that I will always have entertainment for my two oldest kids no matter where we may be. I will most likely add a few other items (colored pencils, maybe a matchbox car or two), but it is so nice to have a designated “kid pouch” in my purse.
If the kids decide they can’t share, I could always take it right back and use it to smuggle… er, transport… fabric!
I wasn’t quilt finished using that Rainbow on White, so I decided to pair some with the Basically Low Hashtag fabric and Cheerios on Black to make a block for one of my ongoing Sew-Alongs, the Garden Snail Snail Paced Sew Along hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel. I’m using the snails to brighten up my otherwise-entirely-greenery quilt, and I think this little guy will do *just* the trick!
Doesn’t he look great up there!? I have also begun to incorporate both low volume fabrics into my Greenery quilt blocks, as you can see in the bottom left block. Low volumes fabrics are among my favorite to stash since there’s always a perfect project for them!
I’m pretty set on sneaking one of these bees into the quilt somehow, too. Time will tell!
Now, for the giveaway! Bernie has generously offered a prize of your choice of either 6 fat quarters or 3 half-yard cuts selected from any of the available fabrics at the Needle & Foot Etsy shop.
To enter the giveaway today, tell me what fabrics from Needle & Foot you would select if you were to win. Leave a comment and make sure I’m able to get ahold of you if you win. For an additional entry, follow Needle & Foot on Instagram. For a third entry, follow Needle & Foot on Facebook. Leave a separate comment once you complete each entry.
This giveaway is open to US and international participants, but international winners must be willing to split the cost of shipping. The giveaway will be open for one week, until Wednesday March 29th at 8pm EST when I’ll select the winner randomly with random.org. Good luck!Giveaway is now closed! Congratulations to Chris!
*Please note that comment moderation is on, so if you do not see your comment right after posting, do not be alarmed! I try to respond to each and every comment I get on my blog, but with giveaway posts the numbers are usually too great to do this.
Be sure to visit all of the other stops on the blog hop to see the nice variety of modern fabrics now stocked by Needle & Foot, and to see what everyone else made with them, and don’t forget to use coupon code NANDFREADERS15 for 15% off any order over $5.00 in the shop through Sunday, 3/26.
I’m so happy I obliged, because I just love this little hoop!
When the Stitched fabric arrived, I had just completed my Ocean Path quilt for our big Quilt Theory debut, and I was in the final push stage of finishing a quilt that will be in the February issue of Love, Patchwork and Quilting magazine, so picking up a small, no pressure, no purpose, no pattern hoop of Stitched and my 12wt Aurifil thread stash was the perfect brain palate cleanser.
This was back in September, according to my good ole’ Instagram feed, and since that time, ending just a couple of days ago, I’ve picked this little hoop up for 1-20 minute intervals (and 20 minutes might be leaning on the long end) every here and there: a quiet moment when the kids were all playing nicely together, a few seconds here while having a minute lax time while cooking dinner, or just because I needed to MAKE and had not yet had a chance that particular day.
I stitched whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted, and tried many different stitches.
I used Aurifil 12wt thread from my stash, in colors (left to right from photo above): 2530-Blossom Pink, 2435-Peachy Pink, mystery orange–the only Aurifil tag that has ever fallen off a spool!, 2120-Canary, 1147-Light Leaf Green, 2884-Green Yellow, 5005-Medium Turquoise, 2540-Medium Lavender, and 2515-Light Orchid. I used a single strand for all except the turquoise x’s, for which I use two strands. If I were to do it again, I would probably stick with a single strand since I love the crisp aesthetic that results.
Toward the end, I went a little crazy with french knots, but I do love them so and they make a great “filler” around the edges.
Since the pattern is printed on the fabric, there was no actual end, so it was up to me to decide how close to the edges to stitch. At first I thought I’d leave a bit open, but I just couldn’t stop stitching. As it is, most stitches extend to the absolute edge of the hoop. I kind of love it.
I finished it using the methods (minus the plan-ahead phase, since I didn’t plan ahead lol) shared in this tutorial on Sew Mama Sew. I stitched the running stitch around the excess fabric, pulled it tight, knotted and tied it, then trimmed off the extra fabric. Next I cut a 4″ wool felt circle using my Sizzix machine and stitched it onto the back with coordinating 12wt Aurifil thread and a blanket stitch. I’m quite happy with the finish, and definitely plan to make more. In fact, I very well might aim to always have a free-form brain palate cleanser embroidery hoop laying around, since it really worked wonders for helping me get back into a better mental place during especially hectic, crazy kid, too many (mostly self-imposed) expectations-filled days. Making works magic, doesn’t it?
Ahh! Summer is upon us! My daughter has mere days left of school before summer break is officially here! That means all three kids home all day, every day, which in turn means time to take lots of day trip adventures! Summer also means lots more opportunity for slow stitching, and a need to have some hand stitching available at all times. We all know that the day I forget my handwork will be the day all three kids somehow fall asleep in the car on the way to some adventure!
My portable hand stitching kit this summer consists primarily of English Paper Piecing (EPP) hexies and some experimental embroidery-quilting projects.
After a lull in my Carolyn Friedlander modern hexies project progress, I’m ready to pick it up again and baste more hexies! While 2 1/2″ squares work just fine for EPP hexagons, I really enjoy the neatness that starting with a hexagon of fabric provides.
A lovely stack of fabric hexagons ready to baste. I need to cut a few more cardstock templates, but this will do for now!
I am also continuing to add embroidery quilting to my Rainbow Hex Star mini, as well planning a couple small embroidery quilting experimental projects. My goal is to find a way to get the back to look as neat as the front. Practice, right?
Slow stitching on the go is not the only slow stitching I’m looking forward to this summer! I’m also officially registered for the Slow Stitching Retreat hosted by Sam at A Gathering of Stitches this August. I can’t wait to slow down and sew with Sam, Chawne Kimber, and Alison Glass. I’m doubly excited since I will also be leading yoga on the retreat! Just imagine… slowing down, breathing deeply, stretching out, learning from amazingly talented and inspirational quilters, and slowly stitching in the sun, rocking on the rocking chairs out on the porch in the calm, cool woods of Maine. You can read about my experience dropping in on a day of this retreat last summer HERE. I am very much looking forward to spending the full four days rejuvenating my soul with some slow stitching in inspired creative company. Are you coming!? I sure hope so!
Today I’m excited to be a part of the Oakshott Lipari blog hop, your final stop for those of you who have been following along. So many fabulous projects have been made with the fat eighths bundle of the new Lipari line, so I encourage you to also check out the others along the hop, linked at the bottom of this post. Many thanks to Lynne and Michael at Oakshott for including me in the hop!
This was my first time working with Oakshott fabrics, and they are so luxurious! They are a woven fabric and feel almost silky to the touch. They feel more substantial than other shot cottons I’ve used, and the Lipari line looks iridescent since the warp is black and the weft is a bright jewel tone. These fabrics come to life when you see them in person–photos truly don’t do them justice. The Lipari line was inspired by volcanoes and the description from Oakshott says it best: “Lipari perfectly captures the primordial beauty of the Aeolian islands. Its luminous colours mirror cobalt seas, lush greenery, pink bougainvillea and shimmering sun; a beauty shot through with dark, fine-grained volcanic rock and black sand.” As soon as I read this description, I knew my quilt had to be a reflection of this volcanic inspiration. Thus, my Vesuvius quilt was born.
I made my Vesuvius quilt with 60 degree triangles, to elicit the sharp peaks of the mountainous volcanoes. I pulled in some Ruby Red – Toledo for the molten focal triangle, and let the Lipari steal the show. I used my Sizzix die cutting machine to speed up the cutting process. I really wanted to photograph this quilt next to a volcano, but I had to settle for some blueberry barrens and a Maine coast beach.
I quilted Vesuvius with 50 wt Aurifil thread 1246-Grey, which blended wonderfully with the Lipari Pollara (grey) I used as a background color. I used the walking foot on my domestic Bernina 560 to quilt straight lines 1″ apart, switching up directions in various sections of the quilt to provide movement and added interest. I LOVE how it turned out!
The Lipari Porticello (dark green) backing shows the quilting wonderfully, although it’s tough to get the full effect through photos!
I was torn on what color to use as the binding, but decided that Lipari Gallina (purple) frames it nicely.
This quilt finishes at 36″x43″ so would make a wonderful wall hanging or sophisticated baby quilt. You could also add borders to make it larger.
Here’s how to make your very own Vesuvius quilt! (Note that Oakshott Lipari fabric is 54″ wide. Typical quilting cotton is approximately 42″ wide, so plan accordingly)
A fat eighths bundle of Oakshott Lipari
1/8 yard of Oakshott Ruby Red Toledo
3/4 yard additional Lipari Pollara (grey)-negative space
1 1/4 yards Lipari Porticello (dark green)-backing
1/3 yard Lipari Gallina (purple)-binding
42″ x 50″ piece of batting
Sizzix die cutting machine
Sizzix XL Triangle, Equilateral 4 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ unfinished die
Rotary cutter, cutting mat with 60 degree lines, and ruler
Thread (I used Aurifil 50wt 1246-Grey for both piecing and quilting)
Sewing machine with a walking foot (I use a Bernina 560)
Small thread snip scissors
Using your method of choice (see below for instructions for each method), cut the following number of triangles from each fabric:
88 grey (Lipari Pollaro)
9 red (Ruby Red Toledo)
From fat eighth Lipari bundle:
Using a Sizzix die cutting machine
I used my Sizzix Fabi and BigZ Triangle, Equilateral 4 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ unfinished die to speed up the cutting process.
When using your sizzix, cut 5″ x width of fat eighth strips of fabric of each color, fold them over the die blade in the Sizzix cutting sandwich (bottom cutting pad, die with the blade face up, fabric, top cutting pad), and cut 9 triangles at a time. Note that the Oakshott fat eighths are 10″ x 27″, which are larger than a typical quilting cotton 9″ x 21″ fat eighth.
After passing each strip of fabric through the Fabi die cutting machine, you can reposition the remaining fabric and cut triangles from the “scraps”.
If you don’t have a Sizzix, read on to find out how to cut 60 degree triangles with your rotary cutter, using the lines on your cutting mat.
Using a rotary cutter and the lines on your cutting mat
First, cut strips 4 3/4″ by width of fabric. *Note: You can leave the fabric strip folded in half or doubled up if you’re using the width of fat eighth strips, allowing you to cut two triangles at a time!
Find the 30 degree line on your cutting mat. Yes, we are making 60 degree triangles by cutting along the 30 degree line (You have a 90 degree square to begin, trim off 30 degrees, then you’re left with 60 degrees!)
Align the bottom of your fabric strip along the 1-inch line. I use the 1-inch line so that you can see where the 30 degree line extends above and below the fabric. Place the edge of your ruler along the 30 degree line.
Using your rotary cutter, cut your fabric on the ruler angle.
Flip your fabric strip over, then align the bottom edge with the 1-inch line on your mat, so that the bottom point of your cut is on the 30 degree line.
Again, place the edge of your ruler along the 30 degree line. Using your rotary cutter, cut your fabric on the ruler angle. You now have your 60 degree triangle, or two (2) if you kept your fabric strip folded in half. Cut as many as you need.
Piecing the Quilt Top
Once your pieces are cut, lay them out as shown. A piece of batting wrapped around a large wall board works well, but I have been often known to use my design floor to help with layout, too! (SizingNote: if you want a larger quilt, you could add a row of grey (Lipari Pollara) triangles to the right and left sides before sewing the rows together to maintain the outer triangle points when adding borders. Then, trim square and add rectangular borders to the desired size.)
Be sure to keep the grain of fabric running top to bottom (the woven texture of the Oakshott Lipari makes this easy to do since the grain is clearly visible when the fabric is held up to the light). Once your pieces are laid out as desired, it’s time to sew them together! Chain piecing helps the process go quickly and smoothly. Here’s how to set it up.
Label each horizontal row. I began with 1 on the top and ended with 11 on the bottom and used pins to label the first piece in each row (Note that I labeled each row after stacking, so the pins aren’t visible in these photos).
Carefully stack the triangles from each row, with the far left piece on top, and keeping the triangles facing the proper direction (this will help you keep them straight while piecing). For example, for row one, you will have the labeled first triangle piece from the far left on top, and carefully pick up each triangle across the row, adding it to the bottom of the stack.
Once you have your row stacked, use a clover clip or similar device to hold the stack together.
Gather all of your rows in this manner.
Lay them out in order, making a clear mental note of what row is located where. You could label a sticker on the table next to each stack to help, although simply keeping them in chronological order works well for me. Let’s sew! (Note that a table next to you works better than having the stacks this close to the sewing machine. As you add pieces, your strips will drag your stacks around if you keep them here as shown!)
To speed up the process, we will be chain piecing (sewing without stopping) the first piece to the second piece from every row. Note: Be sure to keep the pin labeling each row in the first block at all times!!
Once you have all of your first pieces sewn to your second pieces, trim the threads to separate, and press. All these bias edges means this is a great time to practice pressing, and NOT ironing. Press: up, down, up. Great!
Alternate which side you press your seam for each row. I pressed odd rows (1, 3, 5, etc.) to the left and even rows (2, 4, 6, etc.) to the right. Pressing open also works well!
Next, add the next triangle to each row, chain sewing again. You’ll be sewing the third triangle (which is now on top of each stack) to each row. Double check the number pin on the sewn row before adding the next triangle, since you want to be sure to keep your gorgeous layout intact.
Continue chain piecing, trimming, pressing, and chain piecing again until all of your rows are assembled. As you add each triangle, stack those corners and everything will be right in line!
Sew all of the rows together, pressing seams up toward the grey triangles. I like to pin about 1/8″ after each point where the triangle points will be matching up, and aim to sew *right* through the center of the seam-cross to make sure you don’t cut off any points when sewing the rows together.
Quilting & Finishing
Once your quilt top is pieced, baste as desired. I decided to quilt my quilt before squaring it up because of all of the bias edges. I used 505 basting spray and spray basted for the first time! I used Christa Watson’s design wall spray basting tutorial and can see why people love it.
I decided to quilt my quilt with straight lines 1″ apart using the walking foot on my Bernina 560. I used a hera marker and a long quilting ruler to mark lines 1/2″ from some seams, and then 1″ apart from there. I sectioned the quilting in a few different sections, using straight lines 1″ apart but changing directions in each section. Lines intersect in the Ruby Red triangle, “exploding” out to the sides (like a volcanic eruption!?). The quilting lines don’t intersect anywhere else in the quilt. I really love the finished effect.
After quilting, it’s time to square up the quilt. Using a long, straight edge, trim 1/4″ away from the outer points so that you don’t lose any points when you sew on the binding. Use at least two sets of points to make sure your ruler is straight before cutting.
Square up your quilt, trimming off the excess, then bind!
Viola! Enjoy your Vesuvius Quilt, and please use #vesuviusquilt and tag me @nightquilter if you decide to make one.
Many thanks, again, to Oakshott for providing the fabrics for this project, and for including me in the hop. Make sure to check out the rest of the amazing Lipari projects:
*BREAKING NEWS* Volcanic action alert
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the heart-wrenching fate of this quilt, that I so unknowingly aptly named “Vesuvius”: my nearly-four year old son cut into it in three places (along with a trail of destruction that included my Machinger quilting gloves cut into pieces and cuts into a big chunk of fusible fleece). With the great outpouring of support, commiseration, and suggestions offered by the fantastic community on IG, I’ve decided to make the cuts an added design element, another chapter in the story of the quilt, and sew either black or red patches over the cuts, making them into “fault lines”.
For now, though, I will put the quilt aside until I can dive into the repair with chuckles and reminiscence instead of lingering tears and frustration. I know that my son did not cut into my quilt maliciously, but it still is a difficult experience. I have made it known that if he ever wants to cut fabric again, he can tell me and I will help him make a quilt. We’ll see where it goes. For now, my Vesuvius Quilt (aka Max’s Fault Lines) is smoking and being buried by ash for a bit. It will rise again some day in the future.
Last night kicked off the International Quilt Market, spring edition, which is in Salt Lake City this year. Much of my Instagram feed is flowing with pictures of sample spree booty, gorgeous booths, and peeks at new fabric lines and products. One product that is being introduced at Quilt Market as we speak is a new Sizzix die called Hex Star designed by Victoria Findlay Wolfe.
I got to play with this die in advance and I’m sharing the project I made with it over on the Sizzix blog today! It included my very first y-seams, rainbow hand quilting with 12 wt Aurifil thread, and a fun go at embroidery quilting (I may have invented that term myself–is it such a thing!?) I share a close look at my hand quilting, a tip for even stitches, and many more photos of the full project here.
Although the mini quilt is bound and finished, I am 99.9% sure I am going to do more embroidery-quilting on the Alison Glass Endpaper outer border. I was debating whether to stick with the colors extending from each arm of the star or to mix it up in the outer border, but I think I’m going to stick with the same colors as the center. I shared more detail photos of the quilting and embroidery in my Sizzix post, so head over to see more!
Here are the 12 wt Aurifil colors I used, just in case you want to try some rainbow hand quilting, too:
5002 – Medium Red
1154 – Orange
2120 – Canary
1147 – Light Leaf Green
4140 – Wedgewood
2540 – Medium Lavender
I’ll be sure to show you when I finally decide it’s really finished. For now, I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts since this mini is technically finished (although is anything ever really fully finished when you have thread in your hand?)
My recent experimentation with improv curves has got me excitedly skipping down the path of curved sewing, eagerly trying every rendition of curves I can find. Mastering curves is one of my big goals for the year, so I’m happily nurturing this skill with every try.
I have collected quite a sweet stack of fabric scraps featuring colorful creatures and items (many thanks to my most generous fellow quilters who sent scraps!), and with Allison from Campbell Soup Diary constantly prodding encouraging me to try freezer paper appliqué, I figured it was finally time. Thus begins another new project–an eye spy quilt for my kids involving inset circles, drunkards path blocks, and any other curves I can find.
Since I don’t have an actual mathematical compass in my house (gasp–appalling, I know!), I decided to use my Sizzix die cutting machine to help with cutting circles, since of course the eye spy quilt will need to consist of curves of all kinds. I only have the Sizzix BigZ L die that includes 2″, 3″, and 4″ circles together, so I could use it to cut the freezer paper but not the fabric. You can be sure the solo 2 1/2″ and 3 1/2″ circle dies will be in my next order! I grabbed some freezer paper, my washable school glue with Fineline tip, some appliqué scissors, my Sizzix fabi and circles and drunkards path dies and some fun fabrics.
I used a combination of Allison’s fabulous tutorial for a mini drunkards path block and the techniques used in the six-minute circle and other improv sewing I’ve been trying. I basically followed Allison’s tutorial, using the Sizzix to cut the circle in the freezer paper, and ironing the freezer paper to the wrong side of my background square to get started.
I clipped the curves and pressed them out around the freezer paper, actually gluing them a bit to the paper so that they would stay pressed back better (brilliant tip, Allison!). Then I diverted from Allison’s tutorial and switched into “six-minute circle mode”, running a bead of glue around the tabs.
I then positioned the circle over the strawberry piece, pressing it with an iron to heat set the glue.
Once the tabs were heat set and secure, I gently pulled the background fabric up and slowly stitched around the inside edge of that freezer paper circle using a zipper foot. That way, these inset circles are sewn and secure, but the stitches are still hidden like with actual curved piecing.
Then I trimmed the excess fabric from around the strawberry, creating a 1/4″ seam allowance. I LOVE the outcome! I also think this took even less than six minutes, which is kind of amazing in my book. Only a couple hundred more squares to go!
I don’t have a real firm plan for this quilt yet, other than I’m aiming to use 4″ and 8″ and possibly some 2″ blocks and aim for a smooth rainbow gradient as well as the eye spy fun within the blocks. I have not yet decided whether I will include squares as well as circles, or if I will keep this a purely curvy quilt. What would you do?
As you can see, I did give one drunkards path block a go since I have a drunkards path die that finishes at 4″, but I clearly need more practice with actual curved piecing. It ended up a bit wonky and smaller than 4 1/2″ (for visual reference,the strawberry and cat blocks are about 5 or 5 1/2″ square since I plan to trim them down at the end and I wanted some wiggle room). Next time, I’ll try glue basting for the drunkards path block, too, I think. It’s worth a try!
I’m linking up with Lorna at Let’s Be Social, since I’ve added yet another project to my works in progress pile. After this one, I’m going to focus on finishing what I’ve started for a while!
Today I’m excited to be blogging over on the Sizzix blog, sharing a tutorial on how to piece the iconic Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses (PoTC) block. Lucy Boston blocks allow for endless meticulous cutting fun, the most kickassiduously planned pattern meet-ups, and of course lots of color play. (Translation: You can fussy cut your heart out and the blocks will look even more amazing the more meticulous you get). Since Lucy Boston blocks are English Paper Pieced (EPP), they are also great on-the-go projects. If you’re looking for a new EPP project but are getting a bit tired of hexies, I definitely would recommend Lucy Boston.
As you can see, I really stretched out of my color combination comfort zone with this project. With the Tula Pink Moonshine print as my focal fabric, I went wild with the blue, mustardy-yellow, and a pop of red palette. With my favorite Essex yarn dyed linen in charcoal as the background fabric, I’m really liking the way this is headed!
February is here! For the next month it will be impossible to buy candy that isn’t pink, red, or at least heart-shaped, and ubiquitous hearts are sure to have permeated every commercial establishment. While I’m not a fan of Hallmark holidays, I am very much a fan of love. In our house, February is a month of extra baking, hearts in everything, and of course, arts and crafts.
Today I’m going to share a tutorial for how to make a simple yet festive garland. I used my Sizzix fabi die cutting machine to cut the shapes, but you could also cut them with scissors. We hang our garlands from the beams in our kitchen, but you could hang them from a tree branch, along a mantle, or just along a wall for a fun and festive pop of color. I’ve also included affiliate links to products that I use and love. If you click through and purchase with these links, I will receive a small commission that will go toward funding all that goes into creating these tutorials and keeping my blog up and running.
4-8 sheets of felt in coordinating colors (I used 100% wool felt from Fiddlehead Artisan Supply and it was sooooo dreamy to work with!)
Chocolate!! (okay, you don’t REALLY need this I suppose)
Once you have all of your materials gathered, go ahead and have a chocolate. Now, let’s get started!
First, we will cut the shapes. I like to precut the felt into squares and rectangles so that I can layer it smoothly. Especially with the thickness of felt, the cut squares made cutting super smooth. I was in awe with how perfectly these felt shapes came out of the Sizzix. It gives me renewed desire to try some wool felt applique (but that is a project for another day!)
I found that layering five (5) layers of felt was the ideal number with this 100% wool felt. Note that the top photo shows six (6) layers, and that I did successfully pass the 6 layers through the machine; however, 5 went through much more smoothly so I decided to stick with 5. Either way, you’ll be cutting 5-10 shapes at a time with each pass!
Make your Sizzix sandwich: bottom cutting pad, die with the blades facing up, felt centered over the proper blades, and top cutting pad. I used the largest heart on the Primitive Hearts die and the 2″ and 3″ circles on the Circle die. Pass it through your Sizzix die cutting machine and admire your smooth, perfect shapes.
If you are cutting by hand, you can use the bottom of a glass, bottle lid, or any other small approx 2″-3″ item to trace a circle before cutting. For this project, I used two different sized circles for some visual interest. Either by hand or by Sizzix, once you have a good pile of shapes, it’s time to sew them together! I ended up using 33x 2″ circles, 16x 3″ circles, and 6 hearts but depending on how many garlands you want and your desired aesthetic, those numbers may vary.
Sewing these together is *really* easy. Thread your machine with a coordinating color thread. I used some Aurifil 50wt variegated 3660-Bubblegum that I had left over from a previous project, and it was perfect! Pull out the top thread and bobbin thread so that you have 3-4″ of excess thread held off to the side before you begin sewing (shown above). This excess thread will be simply knotted and used to hang the garlands when they are finished!
Now, just start sewing! Sew right down the center of each shape, backstitching at the beginning of first piece and alternating colors and sizes until you have a garland approximately 18″-24″ long.
I made each garland different by making a point to vary the shapes by size, shape, and color as I added them to the machine. Once you get to the last shape in your garland strand, sew about 1/2″ into the shape, then backstitch to secure your stitches. Simply trim the threads and you’re finished!
I used the hearts only on the bottom of each strand, but you are welcome to include them in the centers, too. I made two “feature” strands with a heart overlaid on a contrasting 3″ circle at the end. This resulted in a fun organic set of garlands that cheer up our kitchen tremendously! Since our kitchen is so dark, I am sparing you photos of the garlands hanging from the beams, but I just attach them with a little piece of coordinating washi tape or painter’s tape. Tie the thread ends at the top of each strand in a knot about 1-2″ above the top felt circle. Put the washi tape through the loop made and hang wherever you want! (Of course, as is the case with any adhesive, always test a bit in an inconspicuous place to be sure no residue or damage is done when the tape is removed.)
If you have little helpers, be sure to guard your snacks!
My little helper absolutely delighted in snatching a snack here and there during my project photo shoot. Gotta love him!
Today I’d like to share a tutorial for a great project that documents the growth of little ones while showing love in a beautiful way: the growing tree. In my case, it will be a growing grove of three trees, so feel free to adapt to fit your kiddos. I initially hoped to make four of these, one for each set of grandparents (we are blessed to have three sets!) and one for us to keep. Now that I’ve finally finished the first one, I’m accepting the fact that I may just stop at one, since I would like to cherish my little babies’ hands, too, and Christmas is less than three (3!?) days away. Since it involves hearts, this project would also be a fabulous Valentine’s Day gift for those doting grandparents.
From the moment I gave birth to my first child, my holiday gift giving style changed completely. Instead of trying to think of the “thing” each family member would like or need most and focusing all of my time on making handmade gifts of love for every family member possible, I acknowledge that presence is the best present if at all possible, and as a busy mom (of three lovely children, now), gift making time is much more rare. I am blessed to have a large family, and to have married into an even larger family, so potential gift recipients abound. But especially in recent years, my parents and in-laws–the grandparents–are usually the sole recipients of Christmas gifts, and such gifts nearly always involve their cherished grandchildren (our kids). This year, grandparents will get a whole lot of love, since time wasn’t on my side with this project. When I had the idea to make heart-filled trees out of my children’s hands, I did my typical google search to see if it had been done before. I found this post, about a creation inspired by another creation, and I knew that that inspiration would need to take one more step into the quilting world to become a quilted gift. Here’s how to make your own Growing Tree.
First, gather your materials. Note that material amounts will vary depending on the number of children you have and the size of the child. I’ve tried to include amounts for a single tree, but feel free to adjust as needed. I’ve also included affiliate links to products that I use and love. If you click through and purchase with these links, I will receive a small commission that will go toward funding all that goes into creating these tutorials and keeping my blog up and running.
1/2 yard background fabric – you may be able to use less if your child is small. A fat quarter should be sufficient for a baby’s growing tree. A half yard is playing it safe if your children are older. (I used Essex yarn dyed linen in light blue)
Children! and a pencil for tracing their forearms and hands!
*These items are not needed if you opt to frame your growing tree instead of quilting it, but you will also need a suitably sized picture frame, stiff acid-free cardboard if the frame doesn’t come with it, and a form of adhesive (glue or tape) to tightly wrap the fabric around the cardboard before insertion into the frame.
Let’s get started!
Gather your children! Have them spread fingers wide and put forearms down onto the Heat’n Bond. With their excited help, trace each child’s forearm and hand onto the non-textured side of the Heat’n Bond. You want to trace from just below the elbow, up around each finger, and then down the other side. If you are making more than one version of this Growing Tree, trace as many forearm-hand tree trunks as you will need. (Because I initially aimed to make four versions of my Growing Grove of Trees–oh my boundless ambition!– I traced each patient child’s arm four times, except Finn’s. With squirmy 6 month old Finn, I struggled and wiggled and waggled until I got a somewhat accurate tracing of his arm and hand, cut it out, and traced THAT three more times. He was not interested in sitting still!)
Carefully cut out each tree trunk, either enlisting the help of your children if they are older and proficient at cutting, or sending them off to play for the next few steps.
Fuse your tree trunks to the wrong side of the tree trunk fabric, following the manufacturer’s directions. Always be extra cautious if using a hot iron with small children around. Toddlers are inherently curious and can not yet physiologically control their curious explorations, despite fervent warnings from mommy–as I’m sure you know! I do my ironing upstairs without any kids underfoot to be safe.
Set the tree trunks aside to cool. Once cool, carefully cut around each forearm tree trunk and set aside.
Fuse Heat’n Bond to the wrong sides of all of the fabric scraps that will become hearts. Remember to have the paper side of the Heat’n Bond facing up, and put a pressing cloth down to protect your ironing surface. Let cool completely.
Once the fused heart-intended fabric has cooled completely, with paper-friendly scissors or rotary cutter (NOT your fabric scissors!), cut your fabric into 2 1/4″ x 3 1/4″ rectangles for ease of quick cutting.. Note that I am using the three smallest heart sizes for my trees, and am not worrying about directionality of the fabric. If you have smaller scraps or want the directionality of the fabric to be level, you can cut 3/4″ x 3/4″ for the smallest heart, 1 1/4″ x 1 3/4″ rectangles for the medium heart or 1 1/2″ x 2 1/4″ rectangles for the large. (I did not use the extra large heart). I mostly cut the medium and large hearts from 2 1/4″ x 3 1/4″ rectangles and then used the scraps from those to cut small hearts.
Next, pull out your Sizzix fabi die cutting machine and Primitive hearts #3 die. Call those children back! Layer the pre-fused fabric rectangles over the desired sized hearts on the Primitive Hearts die, four (4) at a time. The Sizzix can cut up to nine (9) layers of fabric at once, but since the fusible is pre-fused, each rectangle counts as two layers. Make your Sizzix sandwich: bottom cutting pad, die with the blades facing up, fabric centered over the heart blades, and top cutting pad.
Let your kiddos carefully crank them through! If you don’t have a Sizzix, get the kids’ help and start cutting out hearts of different sizes, ranging from 1/2″ to 2″ in size. Depending on the ages of your children, you can either enlist their help or set them up with a different activity while you lay out the wall hanging once all of the hearts and trunks are cut.
Lay out a large piece of your background fabric. I suggest arranging your tree or grove of trees BEFORE cutting the background fabric to size, since every child’s arm is different. Layout your tree trunk(s), arranging the hearts around the top like the leaves of a tree.
Once they are arranged the way you want them, carefully remove the adhesive paper from each component, placing it back in its proper place as you go.
Once you have an iron-surface-sized batch with the paper backings removed, fuse them down. *Note: If possible, lay out your arrangement on your ironing surface so that once all of the papers are removed and pieces stuck, you can simply fuse them down. I used a large foam board beneath mine, and actually pressed onto the foam board since my ironing surface is tiny. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using Heat’n Bond!
If you’re like me and are interrupted during this process, simply flip a row of hearts that haven’t been fused yet, so that you know where you are when you return.
Trim the background fabric approximately 3″ from each edge of your Growing Tree if you plan on quilting. Be sure to use the lines on your cutting mat to ensure your quilt is square as you cut.
Alternatively, after fusing the hearts and tree trunks, you could wrap the fabric tightly around a thick acid free piece of cardboard and frame it in a picture frame. If you opt to frame yours, be sure to give yourself at least 2″ of overhang on all four sides, and plan your tree arrangement to fit into your desired frame.
Back to the quilting option…
Cut batting and backing fabric to extend about 1″ from each edge of your Growing Tree quilt top (For example, if your Growing Tree top measures 27″ x 22″ like mine does, cut your batting and backing 29″ x 24″)
Baste your quilt layers using your desired method (I used pins).
With a thread that coordinates with your background fabric, free motion quilt AROUND the edges of your tree trunk(s) and hearts. I also stitched around a few single hearts (you don’t need to sew around all of them) within the tree. Remember that the Heat’n Bond is NO SEW, so be sure not to sew on top of the fused pieces. Feel free to free motion quilt the background to help hold everything in place. I used a windy spiral design and was reminded at how much fun free motion quilting is! I need to do it more often!
Add each child’s name beneath each tree, either with embroidery or permanent fabric marker. I used fabric marker so that Maddie and Max could include their signatures. Don’t forget the date! (Confession: I copied Max’s signature from a recent art project since I didn’t dare let him and a permanent fabric marker near this finished project. Perhaps a 3 year old with a less impish nature might be able to sign right on the project, but use your judgement.)
Trim the batting and backing flush with the quilt top, square up, and bind as desired. I included corner hang tabs on the back of my Growing Tree Grove using THIS method, and bound the quilt using THIS great tutorial by Cluck Cluck Sew.
Hang this Growing Grove on your wall so that you can immortalize those precious little hands, or wrap & gift to those doting grandparents if you’re superwoman, or if you are already planning ahead for Valentine’s Day!
Enjoy, and happy holidays!
Just for fun, here’s what the vast majority of the photographs of my kiddos using the Sizzix looked like:
Max does not. stop. moving! Enjoy the blurry laugh, and enjoy your holidays!
A month or so ago, I selected a blogger bundle for my local quilt shop Fiddlehead Artisan Supply, and called it Autumn Dusk. The colors made me think of the calm at dusk, and I thought it would be a perfect palette for a pillow. Our couch doesn’t have a single handmade pillow, and that needed to change. In thinking about pattern ideas, I came across my Kaleidoscope die from Sizzix and decided to play. Do you have ANY idea how many different patterns you can make with the Kaleidoscope pattern!? It boggles my mind. Peek at the results from a quick “kaleidoscope quilt” google search HERE to give you an idea of the potential.
Trust me when I say the most difficult part is deciding on fabrics and fabric placement.
This tutorial will include cutting instructions for the same arrangement of nine (9) blocks made from six (6) fat quarters of fabric as I used, as well as assembly and finishing instructions for an envelope-backed 18″ square pillow. If you want to make an identical pillow, you can buy the Autumn Dusk bundle from Fiddlehead HERE, or enter to win a bundle by commenting on yesterday’s post HERE. I have included some affiliate links in this post so that if you click through, I will get a small commission. I only share products I love and use.
If you are creating your own kaleidoscope version, print out this printable provided by Debby at Quilter by Design and start playing with color combinations. Note that you can emphasize a windmill shape, a star shape, or a circular movement depending on where you position your colors and values of fabric. Once your design and fabric choices have been made, it’s time to cut!
For this pillow, cut the following (refer to the photo above for fabric numbers):
For quick and easy cutting with your Sizzix fabi, cut fabric strips 4″ wide for the wedges and 2 5/8″ wide for the corners.
Then you can accordion-fold the fabric over the die and cut 16 of each at a time, since the die has 2 corner and 2 wedge blades and you can layer fabric 8 layers thick. That’s 32 pieces cut per pass, if you plan your fabric cutting wisely! (Note that the image above is to demonstrate the accordion-fold, not the uber efficient cutting!)
Once your pieces are all cut, lay them out in your desired pattern. Tip: Take a photo with your phone or camera once you’ve decided on a layout. Having this photo handy during piecing will make getting everything in the proper place the first time so much easier!
Now let’s sew the blocks together!
First, sew the corners onto the appropriate wedge blocks.
The notches cut by the Sizzix make accurate piecing easy. Center the corner piece right sides together with the bottom edge of the wedge piece as shown in the inset photo above. Then use the little corners sticking out from the bottom edges of the wedge as a sewing guide. Set seams and press open.
You will then have this.
Next, pair each cornered wedge with a background wedge. Be sure to sew along the same side edge for each pair, and begin sewing from the corner edge and not the center point. Set seams, press open. **Note that assembling this block is a perfect time to practice pressing and NOT ironing. Even a little wiggle might stretch sections enough to result in a ripple when the final block is assembled. Press: up, down, up. NOT ironing. Got it!**
Double check your arrangement with the photo you took before sewing pairs together.
You will now have two halves. Aligning the notched corners and pinning just after the center seam match, sew the halves together. Set seams and press open.
Ta-da! You have a kaleidoscope block. Make 9 total.
Feel free to chain piece these blocks, but have your layout photo handy. Lay out your pieces and confirm arrangement before sewing each step.
Arrange your blocks as desired. Double check that all fabrics are in the proper place.
Then sew the blocks in each row together. Finally, sew the three rows together to complete the pillow top.
I love how the notches cut by the Sizzix help with every step of the piecing process–from piecing to matching points in the final assembly. When joining your rows, you can use the seam line as a guide to make sure you don’t lose any points.
Once your kaleidoscope pillow top is complete, baste it to a 20″x20″ piece of batting (or fuse to fusible fleece), find some coordinating thread and quilt as desired. I used Aurifil 50wt 2560-Iris since it was a nice gentle purple and matched my light colors while providing great contrast with the dark background.
Once your pillow top is quilted, square it up with a rotary cutter, being sure to leave a 1/4″ seam allowance from the outermost points.
Next, we’ll make the pillow’s back panels. Cut two (2) pieces of 13 1/2″x19″ background fabric (my finished pillow top actually measured closer to 19″ than 18 1/2″ square. Adjust accordingly based on the measurement of your pillow) and two (2) pieces of 12 3/4″x19″ batting.
Layer the backing panels wrong sides facing the batting, and lining up three edges. The backing fabric should extend about 3/4″ on one side.
Fold the extended edge in 1/4″. Press with a hot iron.
Fold over again, flush with the edge of the batting (approx 1/2″) and press. Pin or clip in place.
Pin along the edges of the backing fabric and batting to help keep them together if you want to, although I found that they stuck together just fine without any pins. Alternately, you could fuse on fusible fleece instead of batting, although this is a great project for using up batting scraps. With the backing fabric right side facing up, top stitch 1/4″ from the folded edge. Sew again 1/8″ from the first stitches. Repeat for the other panel.
Now it’s time to sew the pillow front to the back panels. Lay the quilted pillow top right side facing up, and place the back panels right sides facing down, with the raw edges aligning with the raw edges of the pillow top and the sewn hem edges toward the center of the pillow.
There should be about 6″ of overlap.
Pin securely and sew around the entire edge of the pillow. Be sure to reinforce where the envelope edges meet, sewing back and forth multiple times, since they will receive the bulk of the wear and tear as the pillow form is put in and taken out.
Clip the corners, and turn right side out through the envelope opening, carefully pushing out corners with a blunt chopstick. Insert an 18″ pillow form, or one of your old couch cushions, and enjoy!
Max quickly discovered that there were ponies on the pillow, so he had to run and get his best friend, aptly named Pony.
This pillow apparently now belongs to Pony, since, well… ponies!
I grab a needle and thread once the kids are in bed