I'm starting a new series of blog posts aimed at anyone who would like to make a quilt for the first time and is not sure where to begin. There is already a wealth of information out there but it can be quite overwhelming. So my aim is to break it all down and to make it easy to understand and follow. This post will explain some quilting terminology and there will be subsequent posts about the materials you need, how to make a simple quilt top, how to turn it into a quilt and how to bind the edge.
As with any craft, quilting comes with an array of terminology that might be confusing to you if you are entering the world of quilting for the first time. So let's simplify some of the common terms.
1. Quilt - a quilt is made up of three layers, a quilt top which is created using some sort of patchwork, the middle layer which is some sort of wadding or batting which gives the quilt its warmth, and a backing fabric which is typically one single piece of fabric.
2. Piecing - this means the creation of a quilt top, by cutting fabrics into smaller pieces and joining them back together again in a particular design. This is typically done on a sewing machine.
3. English paper piecing - a style of patchwork that is done by hand. It involves cutting fabrics into small shapes and wrapping them around paper templates, joining them together with other shapes to form a design and removing the paper templates when the quilt top is complete.
4. Binding - a strip of fabric that is wrapped around the edge of the quilt to conceal the raw edges.
5. Blocks - Quilts can be large so they are usually made from small segments that are joined together. These smaller parts are called blocks and they are usually square.
5. Quilt sandwich - this refers to the layering up of your quilt, comprising of your quilt top, your wadding and your backing fabric. The wadding is the 'filling' and the quilt top and backing are the 'bread'.
6. Basting - a temporary way of keeping your layers together whilst they are being quilted. You can baste them together using pins, spray glue or tacking stitches which will be removed when the quilting is done.
7. Quilting - this is the act of using the stitches to sew through all three layers to quilt them together. This can be done by machine or by hand.
8. Walking foot - a special sewing machine foot that helps to guide the layers of fabric through your machine in a way that prevents them from slipping. This foot is essential for quilting, unless your machine has a built in foot like mine does.
9. Free motion - this is when you drop the feed dogs on your sewing machine (the teeth that pull the fabric through the machine) and using an open toe free motion foot, you can quilt through the layers in any direction in which you move the fabric yourself. This opens up a world of design possibility.
10. Long arm quilting- this is done on a special, huge machine. The quilt is put on a frame and can be quilted with larger, all-over designs. This is a professional finish although some home sewers do have these machines.
11. Applique - the application of fabric shapes to a backing fabric. They can be sewn by hand, turning the edge of the shapes under first or they can be stuck to the backing fabric with either glue or iron-on fusible webbing and then sewn around the raw edge. Applique is a lovely technique for creating pictorial quilts.
12. Sashing - fabric strips that are sewn between the blocks of the quilt to space them out and create a clean, fresh look.
13. Low volume - this refers to fabrics that have a more neutral colour palette and have a less busy pattern. Low volume fabrics are important for creating contrast in your quilt design and allowing intricate pieced designs to really stand out.
14. Fussy cutting - when you cut your fabric into smaller pieces for patchwork, rather than cutting anywhere, you can pick a motif or part of the fabric that you want to be the focus of your shape, and centralise it. Fussy cutting offers a lot of scope for creating new designs from your fabric and you can create very intricate patterns this way, but it inevitably creates more fabric waste.
And that's it for now! If you have come across any more terms you are unsure of then please leave them in the comments and I will try to answer what they mean.
I will be back soon with another post about getting started with your first quilt.
Thanks for reading and happy sewing!
After having fun making the mini quilt for the Maileg bunny and creating her a handmade outfit, I decided to make something for my little boy to play with. I'd ordered some flex foam to make a laptop case for myself, but whilst cutting it out (it still isn't sewn together!) I realised how versatile this foam is and it gave me lots of ideas for how to use it to make toys. My first idea was to make a little tent for a Maileg explorer mouse and it worked really well. So here is a little tutorial for how I made it. You can of course play around with the size of the tent and use any fabrics you like. This is a great project for using up leftover fabrics and scraps from other projects.
You will need:
The tent is constructed from two pieces, a rectangular base and a square 'roof' which is folded down the middle to create the tent shape..
1. You need to create two quilt sandwiches, one for your roof and one for the base. To do this, lay one fabric right side down, spray with spray glue and place the flex foam on top. Spray the flex foam with glue and lay your other piece of fabric on top, right side up. If you aren't using spray glue you can use pins to hold the layers in place.
2. Now quilt the layers together. I quilted my base with straight lines about half an inch apart but you can choose how you would like to quilt it.
I quilted the roof every two inches to make it less rigid.
3. Now you need to attach the binding to the short ends of your base and the two opening ends of your roof. To do this, line the binding up with the raw edges of the quilt sandwich and pin in place.
4. Trim your binding to make it level with the edge of your quilt sandwich. Fold it over and sew in place.
5. Fold the roof in half and sew along the top ridge as close to the edge as possible on the right side of the fabric. This will help to keep the tent's shape.
6. Now for the trickiest part, attaching the roof to the base. Line up the long edge of the roof with the long edge of the base, with the insides facing and place your binding on top with the raw edges together. Because there is a lot of bulk, I used quilting clips to keep the layers together.
7. Trim your binding leaving just half an inch extra either end and turn this in on itself to conceal the raw edge. Sew along this edge using a quarter inch seam allowance. If your machine finds it difficult to sew through the layers, try starting in the middle of the edge, sewing along then turning around to sew back to the opposite edge. Sometimes sewing machines struggle to start sewing thick seams at the corners so this technique helps with that. Fold the binding over and sew in place with a half inch seam allowance. Repeat for the other edge of the tent.
8. To make the doors, turn the tent on its end and draw around the triangular opening with a fabric pen onto your fabric. Use a ruler to straighten your lines and add half and inch seam allowance all the way around the triangle you have drawn. You need four of these.
9. Cut the triangles you've just drawn out of the fabric and cut them in half down the middle. You will now have eight small triangles. Take two and place them right sides together. Sew along two of the edges using a quarter inch seam allowance. Turn the triangles right side out and fold the bottom edges in and sew them closed. Repeat for the other three. Sew them in place by hand on the inside edge of the opening to make the doors of the tent.
Your tent is complete! I made some bunting in coordinating fabric to give it an added touch but you could decorate it however you wish. Why not add ric rac or pom pom trim?
If you give this a go, I hope you enjoy making it and I hope the little person in your life loves playing with it too! Happy sewing.
I enjoyed making the tiny hexagon quilt so much that today I decided to make the little bunny a skirt as she looked like she was in her underwear! I thought I'd share this as a little tutorial here as it was very quick and simple to make. It is also a great way to use up scraps of fabric and trims, so excellent for sustainable sewing.
You will need:
1. Press your fabric. Fold over the bottom hem on the long (9 inch edge) a quarter of an inch towards the inside of the fabric and press in place. Fold it over another quarter inch to encase the raw edge and press and pin in place to hold. Machine stitch it in place.
2. Fold over the top of the fabric on the long (9 inch) edge by half an inch and press in place. Fold it over another half inch and press in place to again encase the raw edge. Stitch in place towards the bottom of this fold. This creates a channel for your elastic.
3. Place your ric rac trim on the right side of the skirt hem, covering the stitching and sew in place by hand, just catching each hill and valley with your stitch.
4. Place the two short ends of the fabric right sides together and sew them together with a quarter inch seam allowance to form the centre back seam. Make sure you sew from the bottom hem up to the bottom fold of the channel. Do not sew to the top edge because this will close your channel meaning you won't be able to thread the elastic through it. Turn the skirt right side out.
5. Thread your elastic through the tapestry needle and attach the safety pin to the other end.
6. Push the needle through the channel and push the fabric along, taking care not to push the needle through the cotton. You are aiming to thread the elastic though the channel, not piercing the fabric at all. The safety pin will stop the other end of the elastic from going inside the channel.
7. Once the needle has passed through to the other end of the channel, arrange your gathers equally and pull both ends of the elastic to adjust the waist of the skirt to fit the bunny. Cut off the excess elastic and stitch the two ends in place securely by hand. Feed these ends into the channel So they are hidden.
8. Now you can finish the centre back seam right to the top by sewing the remaining part to enclose the channel and secure your elastic.
Your skirt is done!
I hope this little tutorial is helpful if you are making simple clothes for toys for the first time. I'm now thinking that this little bunny needs a top...and maybe some embroidery on the skirt...the possibilities are endless! Happy sewing!
If you have got the English Paper Piecing bug but would like a quick project rather than a quilt then this is the project for you. The layered hexagon flower cushion is fun and quick to make. Here's how...
You will need:
*Seven hexagon paper templates in each of the following sizes; half inch, three quarter inch, one inch, one and a quarter inch and one and a half inch.
*Scraps of fabric.
*Two 28cm squared pieces of background fabric. I repurposed an old pillowcase for this, which makes this project more sustainable.
*A needle and thread.
Note- I didn't include any fastenings in my cushion. If you want to be able to remove the cushion cover then you'll need to include a zip or buttons and you'll need to add some length to the back piece of fabric to allow for this. You'll need about an extra inch to add a zip.
Begin by wrapping your hexagons in fabric and joining the hexagons to make five separate flowers. For an in depth tutorial on how to do this, check out my English paper piecing video.
Once you have sewn the hexagons together to make flowers, you need to remove the paper templates. Usually, in English Paper Piecing, we do not remove templates until all sides of the shape are joined to another shape and this is because you can distort the shape. For this project, the templates need to be removed even though some edges of the shapes are not joined to any others. To minimise the chances of distorting the edges of the hexagons, I made sure I ironed all of the flowers first to ensure nice, crisps folds along the edges. Next, I removed the papers carefully, pulling from the centre of the hexagon out towards the edge (see photo below). I then used the iron to quickly press any edges under that had become unfolded and this technique worked well.
Once all papers are removed and you have pressed your flowers with the iron, place the half inch hexagon flower on top of the three quarter inch hexagon flower. Centralise the smaller flower within the larger one, making sure there is an even border all the way round. Line up the seam lines of both flowers so they match and when you are happy with the position, pin in place.
Use a blind applique stitch to attach the small flower to the larger one, sewing all the way round the edge. When you have finished, repeat the process by placing this flower on top of the next flower up in size. Line up the seams and stitch in place. To speed this up, you could easily use a sewing machine and either a zigzag stitch or other decorative stitch to applique them in place. When you have layered all of the flowers, position the motif in the middle of your backing fabric, pin in place and stitch it all the way round the edge as you did before.
You can now choose to finish your cushion however you'd like. I chose to make a piped edging and I really like the way this looks.
I hope you have fun making this cushion. If you would like detailed instructions for making piping or for finishing the cushion then leave a comment below and I will make a tutorial for that.
Of course you don't have to applique this flower onto a cushion at all! You could put it onto a bag or you could make it into a wall hanging, or if you did want a larger project, you could use it in a quilt design. It's up to you! Whatever you make, I'd love to see it so if you post it on Instagram, remember to use the #rosepetalpatterns.
I've created a video tutorial showing you the basics of EPP, you can view it here. The video shows you what you need to get started and demonstrates the basics of using hexagons to create flower shapes. I'm currently making as many of these as I can as my aim is to join them together to make a large quilt, hopefully kingsize! If you don't want to make a large quilt, you could make a cushion cover or you could applique each flower to a fabric square, then join the squares together to make a quilt as this would be much quicker. I'm planning on making lots of hexagons in an off white fabric and I will use them between the flowers I've made to make them pop. Of course, I will share pics when I get to that stage, but that's a while off yet! Remember, the paper pieces need to be removed before you quilt your layers together or turn the flowers into a cushion cover or whatever you choose. Anyway, I hope my little video is useful and helps you to get started with this very addictive craft!
Following on from my previous post about sustainable sewing, I'm sharing the first in a range of tips and tutorials that link to the ideas in that blogpost. First up is an idea for using fabric scraps. I had some leftover pieces of Liberty Tana Lawn fabric from a previous project. They are too beautiful to throw away and of course, that wouldn't be good for the environment. The scraps are roughly 3 inches by 4 inches but you could use any size pieces.
I had some lavender in organza bags that I got free when I purchased some wool. However, dried lavender is readily available if you need to purchase some, or perhaps you could dry some from your garden or a friend's? If you don't have organza bags, you could put the lavender straight into the pillow with the stuffing but the organza makes it less likely to spill. Click here to watch the full video tutorial on how to make these lovely lavender pillows. Happy sewing!
About the Author
My name is Emma and I love all things sewing, especially EPP. My little blog is the place where I document what I'm making. I hope you enjoy reading what I'm up to! All opinions are my own and I only share things that I think you will love. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.