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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Amelia's 1st birthday Quilt with Minkee Backing and Binding.

I wanted to give sweet baby Amelia a "Katie Quilt" for her birthday.  I used everything from my stash.  I started with this large piece of minkee fleece that I had leftover from another project.  It's super soft and BIG so I didnt' have to piece fabric together for the backing.   I have used Minkee for  backing before, but I always used batting ALSO, but this time I left out the batting.  For a large, bed-size quilt I think batting is fine, but I wanted something that she could lug around herself, so it needed to be LIGHT too.   

Double Sided Minkee is thick enough that it doesn't require batting.  Also, it gives a very nice effect when free-motion quilted.  However there is a slight downside when you omit the batting.  When there is no batting, there is nothing for the fleece to stick to.  The batting acts as a stabilizer so that your fleece doesn't shift around.  To remedy that problem I just used lots of safety pins in the basting process.  

For the quilt TOP I pieced together feminine prints of pink and grey.  Honestly, I'm not real sure what I was going for here - just scrappy I guess!!  Who knows, it was late when I came up with this design ;c)  I think a quilt looks best when you incorporate elements from the back on the front, and vice versa.  So for the front, I appliqued circles of minkee and also used the minkee as the binding.

** I have a tutorial on how to do self-binding with fleece HERE**

 And for the backing I took one of the pink floral prints and used it to applique her name.
In this last picture you can get a good look at the quilting design I used.   I always want to try these fun large-scale quilting motifs, but am always too scared.   I love the look of all-over free-hand feathers, but every time I attempt them I regret it.   I think maybe it's because I think every tiny bit of space needs to be quilted - and everything needs to be touching.   
So for my last couple projects I have been trying to use more negative space.   I think just as rainbow colors only look good with a good amount of WHITE.   . . . "fancy" quilting only look good when there is some negative space?  Maybe?   I'm working on it anyway! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Quick Quilted Placemats Tutorial

Placemats make a great last-minute gift and they can be more fun than a regular quilt since they are smaller.   Use scraps from your stash or that one piece of fabric you LOVE but don't know what to do with.

Every time I saw this primitive patchwork design at Joanns I wanted to buy it.   I was dreaming of the fun quilting I could do with the patchwork but didn't want to piece together all those 1" squares.  I needed a gift for my secret sister at church, so I decided to make her these placemats.   I get to work with the pretty fabrics, and she gets some placemats! Win-Win!


  • Main Fabric - 1 yard *
  • Accent Fabric - 1/8 yard *
  • Backing Fabric - 1 yard *
  • 4 pieces of scrap batting 15" x 22" *
  • Safety Pins 
  • Quilting Pins 
  • Rotary Cutter and self-healing mat 
  • Sewing Machine
  • Piecing and quilting thread

*yardage is for 4 placemats

Main Fabric:
4x  - -13.5" x 8.5"
8x - - 3.5" x 10.5"
8x - - 3.5" x 21.5"

Accent Fabric:
8x - - 1.5" x 8.5"
8x - - 1.5" x 15.5"

4x - - 15" x 22"

1.  We are going to be making little quilt sandwiches.  Start by piecing together your "top" according to the chart here:

2.  Press your top and layer Top/Batting/Backing as you would a regular quilt.
 3.  Trim the edges of the batting and backing EVEN with your quilt top.
 4.  Remove the backing and set it to the side.
 5.  Pin the quilt top to JUST the batting with safety pins.  Leave an inch or two around the outside edges free.
 6.  Lay your backing piece of fabric on TOP of the quilt top - Right Sides Facing
 7.   Pin all around the edges.
 8.   Decide where you want your opening to be.  It should be about the size of your fist.    Mark the beginning and ending of your sewing line with double pins.  This will let you know where to start and stop sewing.    Choose a section that is not directly in the center of a long edge, but not a corner either.   Sew a quarter inch seam allowance around the edge leaving the opening free.  Backstitch at the beginning and end of your sewing line.
 9.  Flip your quilt inside out through the opening.  (Like you would a pillowcase)  The edges and corners might need some fiddling with.  I like to roll the edges on a hard surface until they are smooth and flat.

10.  Remove the pins in the center first, and iron with steam.   Then remove the remaining pins in sections and press the entire quilt with steam.
 11.  Hand stitch the opening closed.

* I am not a fan of hand sewing at ALL, in fact I avoid it all costs.  But for this project I definitely recommend hand sewing the opening closed.  You need to use a loose whipstitch and you might need to do a bit of fiddling/tucking while you sew so that you have a straight line.   This only takes about 5 minutes so I believe it's worth it. 
 See how the hand-stitches are barely noticeable?  If I had done this by machine the line would not be straight and I would have to stitch all around the whole project and it's not too pretty ;c) 
 12.  Finally, Quilt as desired.

  I've found that I tend to OVERquilt all of my projects.  . . . it's FUN, but it's not the best LOOKING option most of the time.  I am going for a less-is-more approach these days.

 I started by quilting a swirl/feather in the borders.  Then I stitched-in-ditch in the 1" inner border.  Finally I did an echo/crosshatch pattern in the center using the patchwork fabric as a guide.
If you would like to try to use this quilting design -  Start by drawing your curved stem with chalk or erasable marker.  Quilt each swirl, and then add feather or two right afterwards, then move up the spine until you get to the next swirl.  Easy Peasy!

 Finished Placemats!

 I hope my Secret Sister likes them!