Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cutting Bias Strips for Bindings or Applique

I'm in the process of writing my first actual pattern and I'm pretty excited about it! If you follow me on Instagram, you've likely already seen my pie-filled picnic quilt. If you haven't, here's a little preview:

The pattern is currently being tested by some lovely ladies and I'm hoping to release it mid-June.

Anyway, as I was building the pattern and looking for a tutorial for cutting bias strips, I could only find tutorials for continuous bias strips. But I threw a mini hissy fit because I didn't want continuous bias strips--that meant drawing lines and cutting with scissors. I can't trust myself to cut straight lines with scissors. So after watching about sixty YouTube videos, I figured it out. In case any of you want to make bias binding for quilts with curvy edges, or strips for use in applique, or for finishing edges of your handmade garments, I put together a PDF guide for you. Feel free to print it, pin it, share it, or totally ignore it altogether. I made the images for my pattern but I thought they might be useful for other people who don't like the idea of continuous bias cutting. 

I can't get it to embed in the actual post. Oops. But that will take you to my Google Drive page, where you can download it!

Until next time,


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Me Made May 2015

Are you participating in MeMadeMay this month? If you're not familiar, it's a month to wear all the fabulous handmade garments you've made. I'm definitely going to challenge myself to wear something I've made every day of the month. Over the past year, I've been learning how to make garments and I'm excited to show it all off this month. Here are a few of my favorite dresses/tops/skirts:

Bess Top, Simplicity hack, AMH Flirting the Issue, Washi dress.

I'll be blogging this month about sewing with Liberty, using bias tapes to finish garments, and a few other random things. There are a few giveaways coming up, too!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Remembering Nan

About twelve years ago, I made my first quilt. My grandma helped me learn to sew straight lines and rip out my slightly imperfect seams. She taught me how to use an iron and how to choose fabrics. After it was pieced, she guided my quilting. She showed me how to bind a quilt and hand sew the binding. I was eight years old.

When I was eleven, I went to my aunt's house and told her I wanted to make a quilt for my baby cousin. It was simple squares with straight line quilting, but I got it done in time for her birth without the help of my grandma. (The baby is now nine years old and on the right)

A few months later, I told my grandma I wanted to make a quilt for another cousin. His nursery had a nautical theme, so she showed me how to paper piece sailboats and anchors. The quilt was never finished, but I found a few of the blocks when I was looking through a box of mementos from my grandma's sewing room.

Last August, I completed the Forest Abstractions quilt after reteaching myself the same technique my grandma had eight years earlier.

When I was thirteen, I begged her to teach me to read patterns while we were at Joann's one day. She decided on a simple apron pattern and helped me make three. We spent the entire day cutting out patterns, trying to sew hems on curved pieces, and she showed me how to sew on ric rac. I don't think I've ever worn any of the aprons--in fact, I have no clue where to find them at the moment. But I was excited to finish them and be able to say that I'd sewn an actual article of clothing.

When I was seventeen, I decided to sew my prom dress instead of convincing my parents to spend hundreds of dollars on something I'd wear for a few hours. It took me a month to figure out how to work with satin and 16 yards of gathered tulle. But I finished it without the help of my grandma. But this time, it wasn't by choice. She had passed away the year before, and no matter how much I wanted her help, I couldn't go to her with all of my questions.

Today marks the fourth anniversary of her last day. In four years, I've come quite far in my sewing adventures. In the past year, I've made fifteen quilts (and an unknown amount of minis). I've sewn too many bags and added to my wardrobe with apparel made by my own two hands.

I have an unmanageable amount of memories drifting through my mind today, so I'm going to end the post here. My grandma left quite a mark on her local quilting community and on me. As much as I wish I could turn to her with questions, I'm incredibly grateful for the online communities I'm a part of that so kindly offer help when I need it. So I'm going to start blogging what I'm doing in an attempt to give back to a group of people who have already helped me so much. 

Until next time,


Thursday, July 10, 2014

RJR Cotton Supreme Solids - A Summer Sunrise Quilt (free pattern + GIVEAWAY)

RJR Fabrics contacted me and asked if I wanted to try out their line of Cotton Supreme Solids. OF COURSE I DID. And it took me a few weeks to figure out how I wanted to use them--I had the most beautiful stack of solids I've ever seen just sitting on my shelf for a solid month with no clue how to utilize them. I've been participating in #theplacematproject swap on Instagram, and used triangles for my first placemat. I loved the way they looked, so I doodled up a much larger triangle pattern for these solids.

-Rotary mat, ruler, and rotary cutter.
-Fabric scissors
-Template plastic*
-optional: glue + {glue basting tip}

*When I replaced all my rulers a month ago, I went searching for a huge triangle ruler. I couldn't find one ANYWHERE that was bigger than 8" equilateral. What I did manage to find, though, was {template plastic}. After a lot of measuring and marking with Sharpies, I used my dull rotary blade (the one that is used for everything but fabric) to cut the template out. I wanted 14" tall triangles, so my template is 14.75" tall. To find the side measurement, I cheated and used {this website}. All you have to do is put in the height of your triangle and it gives you side lengths--which this non-math major REALLY LOVES.

-1/2 yard cuts of 11 different fabrics--5 of those should be low volume/lighter solids and 6 should be darker/more vibrant colors.
-Between 1/2 and 3/4 yards of fabric for the binding (amount depends on how you do your binding, which I'll explain in a little bit)
-4.5 yards of fabric for the backing.

Cut a 14.75"x width of fabric strip and save the excess. They can be used for a scrappy binding, accents on the backing, etc, but you will need them for one of the triangles.

With your strips, use the triangle template you made (or just cut triangles if you have lots of spare time and you're good with rulers--I am always busy and terrible with rulers, so the template worked very well for me). You will lay it on the strip (which is NOT folded in half) and cut.

At the ends, you'll end up having two halves of triangles. You will need some of these later on! Don't throw them out or sentence them to living in the scrap bin just yet.

You'll end up with a pretty stack of triangles.

Once I had the triangles cut, I made a too-small makeshift design wall with some of my Quilter's Dream batting. The problem lies entirely in the fact that my batting is 60"x60" and my quilt is a finished 72x82… Poor planning on my part. The picture isn't great, but it's important to lay all of your triangles out to make sure none will be too close to similar colors.

While you are planning the design, you also need to make your accent block. I cut scraps and sewed a bunch together, then used my triangle template to cut it to size and place it in the layout. I find that it's easiest to take pictures of your layout on a phone or camera, that way when you've sewn multiple pieces together, you can look back and see where they belong in the quilt top.

As I was finishing up the binding, I came across a tutorial for glue-basting the triangles to make them easier to sew. If you're into glue-basting, I say GO FOR IT! I'm still waiting for my first tips, but I definitely plan on using glue the next time I make triangles. Bias cuts aren't so great for getting the points to be nice and sharp.

Sew each triangle together with your standard 1/4" seam, press toward the darker color, and line your strips up.

Sew each strip together.

Ta-da! You have a quilt top that probably took less than a couple of hours to put together. I found that the most time consuming part was definitely cutting and finding the perfect layout. The triangles are so large that it's a quick, easy finish.

What I love about this layout is that usually, your triangles all have to meet perfectly in the points. With the way these rows are designed, with the half triangles on the side edges, there's not as much stress involved. No need to worry about points matching perfectly if there are no points to match!

If you have the patience to  piece a back, by all means DO IT!

But I am the laziest quilter.

I started doing this a while back to make easy, quick backings. Take your backing fabric, fold it in half (right sides together), then sew about an inch from the edge of your white selvedge. When you get to the fold, use your rotary cutter and ruler to cut the entire fold off. Then use it to cut off the selvedge (and you can save it for crafts and such!. Now unfold, press, and you have a huge quilt back that took less than ten minutes to assemble! Yay!

Now find yourself a good, quality batting and baste!

Here's where I got entirely too involved. I'm new to free-motion quilting, and I wanted to experiment a little bit. I also wanted to incorporate straight-line quilting. I made the incredibly time-consuming decision to quilt each triangle individually. I do love how it turned out, but it was very time-consuming. The lighter colors (the shades that point downward) are quilted with straight lines, and the darker/brighter colors have free-motion quilting. I experimented a little bit by quilting cursive into five of the blocks--I used lyrics from my favorite songs by The Avett Brothers.

Sorry in advance for the photo spam.

(Ignore the marker...It will come right off in the wash)

My cousins were visiting for the week, and they wanted to help me FMQ. We drew designs, then I traced them.

I have so many more pictures I'm restraining from showing y'all.

My binding tutorial is the laziest/quickest tutorial I've ever experienced. If you have one that's even quicker, by all means, let me know!! First, cut your fabric into strips 2 1/4" wide (you'll need 8 of these strips if you use the full width of quilting cotton). Then sew them together on the bias and trim scraps. Press seams, then fold in half. No need in ironing your binding--you're going to fold it over and wash the quilt anyway! Seems like a waste of time to me to press it in half. Leave a 5" tail, then start sewing the binding down onto your quilt with a 1/4" seam allowance. If you sew the binding down to the front, you'll need to hand sew it down to the back. If you sew the binding down to the back, you'll need to either hand sew it to the front or pin/clip the binding down and machine sew to the front.

I like hand sewing the binding, I find it very relaxing. So I usually sew to the front then turn it over and hand sew to the back. It helps if you follow the line of stitches 1/4" from the edge, where you sewed the same binding on the other side of your quilt.

I really wanted to try new quilting designs on this. I am definitely a beginner when it comes to FMQ (I need to take a class but I really am the laziest/poorest college student quilter) so I needed the practice. I'm going to be completely honest with you--this fabric was AMAZING to quilt with. Last summer, when I hadn't yet realized how amazing quilt shop quality was compared to the cheap "fabric" store quality, I had more problems than I could list, but these solids are so amazing. OH and the best part about these solids? I screwed up when I cut a couple triangles, so I went to the store to buy more of one color--AND THEY WERE THE EXACT SAME SHADE. I had so many problems with other solids because the dye lots can be so incredibly different.

 And the best news about this fabric? You can win a fat quarter bundle of all the colors I picked out! I call this bundle "Summer Sunrise" (and the quilt pattern is the Sunrise quilt).

To enter the giveaway, there are two different ways to enter.
  1. Leave a comment on this blog post!
  2. Repost my original post on Instagram. Must follow @hayleysews as well as @rjrfabrics. Use the tag #rjrsummersunrise

Giveaway will open Friday, 7/11 at 8am and end Tuesday, 7/15 at noon EST. Open to residents of the US and Canada only.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Neapolitan Quilt + Half Square Triangles

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while. It was such a simple quilt to make for such a special little girl. My cousins and I are all incredibly close, so when my older cousin's wife found out she was pregnant with a little girl, I knew I'd be making her a quilt (and buying lots of cute clothes). She requested solid pinks and browns, which resulted in this:

Quilted by Kathy Koch of Thread Bear Quilting

Everyone who saw it said it reminded them of Neapolitan ice cream. They're lots of yummy Kona solids--but this was the last time I'm working with Kona. I went to buy extra of the darker brown color, and the dye lots were completely off. I had the same problem with Kona Coal last year, so I've switched to RJR Solids. I have a huge post about this in July though.

I used the half square triangle method my grandma taught me, which I just drew a pretty juvenile demonstration of.

Basically, you just need a whole bunch of these (for a baby quilt, I used 80 total squares--so you start with 40 of your lighter, white-ish color then 40 of the rest of the colors mixed up). The squares were 6" to begin with, so finished, they were around 5.5". This quilt was finished before I realized how amazing trimming HSTs is, so it was a little bit wonky. Oops.

Then lay them out and make sure there aren't two of the same color too close to each other, and make sure you pick a "center" for the white square to be in. You can rearrange them however you want though, that's the beauty of HSTs. They're my favorite. I could make 800 different quilts with HSTs.

(I am desperately in need of a design wall, but for now, it's the design floor to the rescue)

I basted it before deciding that I was going to send it off to a quilter, and the quilting design made it look fabulous.

Then it took me about two weeks to motivate myself to bind it. Do you see how cute that backing fabric is?! Super cheap at Joann's. I usually hate buying fabric from Joann's but it matched the solids so well.

Now, it's being enjoyed by miss Charlotte, my cousin's precious little girl.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Jelly Stripe Sandwich Quilt

I've had quite a few people ask for a tutorial for my most recent finish of 2014, my rainbow stripe quilt. It was actually pretty quick and simple to put together—I’m fairly confident that as long as you can cut and sew straight lines, you can make this quilt.

Mine measures about 58x64 finished; however, I left out a couple of the colors in my jelly roll and trimmed the size in quite a bit.
I used the Westminster Fabrics Rowan Shot Cotton Jelly Roll, which just happened to be in my stash. I can’t seem to find a link to anyone selling more of them, but you could do this with any jelly roll and it would still look beautiful.

You will need:
-1 jelly roll, or 40 2.5” x 42" strips
-1.5 yards of a solid color for the middle pieces (I used Architextures Crosshatch in White)
-the usual quilting necessities—seam ripper, pins, sharp scissors, a ruler, and rotary cutting matt + rotary cutter. (post on that coming next week)
We are sewing with a standard ¼” seam allowance.

First, cut your solid color into 2.5” x WOF strips. Then cut them in half.

Next is the most complex part—and it really isn’t complex at all. For my quilt, I wanted each “step” to be 2”, but you can change it really simply if you have math skills. I don’t, so I’m going to give you the measurements I used, and you can finish the pattern depending on how many strips you have.
Cut your top strip so one piece is 5” long. This leaves you with another piece 37” long (assuming you have 42” strips, which are standard). Pin your solid color (in my case, white) to each side.
Cut your second strip so one piece is 7” long. This leaves you with another piece 35” long. Pin your solid color to each side.
Cut the third strip so one piece is 9” long. This leaves you with another piece 33” long. Pin your solid color to each side.
I think you can see where I’m going with this—if not, I’ve made a chart you can print out. Just check each strip off as you go to make it even simpler! On the chart, the starred rows are to let you know that the direction will shift. There are two direction shifts in the pattern, even though my quilt only has one. It depends on how many strips you’re using and how wide your fabric is.

^I should really make a design wall at some point...

I thought of lots of cute ways to quilt this pattern—horizontal lines, stitching in the ditch, FMQing…. Except I am terrible at FMQing. I’m going to work on it this summer, because I feel weird to be a quilter in 2014 who can’t do free-motion quilting. In the end, I decided to send it to my local longarm expert, Kathy ( I picked a cloud pattern, because what goes better with rainbows than clouds?? 

The backing Lizzy HouseDaisy Pearl Bracelets—the new tonal Pearl Bracelets are my favorite. 

I machine-bound this quilt with some green I had in my stash. Rainbows, clouds, sunshine, and grass all in one quilt… Now if only this Michigan weather would start to be as cheerful as my quilt!

If you recreate this, I’d love to see it. Follow me on Instagram (@hayleysews) or email me pictures—hayleysews at gmail.