The other day (or like, two months ago) on QuiltCast, Amy and I were talking about shortcuts and tools we use in our studio. I mentioned blue painter’s tape, and how I use it for making Half Square Triangles (HST) quick and easy. WITHOUT MARKING. Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t mark the back of my half square triangles. I’m a quilting rebel, what can I say. (By the way, have you been listening to QuiltCast? It’s a podcast for quilters that I’m doing with Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side. We’re getting some great feedback on it, and I’d love yours. Head on over and download it and let me know what you think? xoxo)
Anyway, I figured you’d want to see this awesome little hack, because hey, it saves me a ton of time…and who really loves marking the back of HSTs anyway? *crickets*
That’s what I thought.
So get yourself some blue painter’s tape, and let’s do this thing.
Mark one line right down the middle of the tape, and another line 1/4″ away on either side, for a total of 3 lines.
Put the tape on your extension table, lining up the middle line with your needle. Be sure not to place the tape over the feed dogs.
To sew a standard HST, line up the top corner with your needle and place under your presser foot. Align the other corner with the middle line.
keeping the bottom corner on the middle line as you sew.
Sew all the way to the other corner…
set your seam, trim your excess,
press toward the dark, and VOILA!
To make 2 HSTs, simply align your top corner with your 1/4″ seam allowance (I use the edge of my patchwork foot) and the right or left line.
then rotate and repeat…
on the other side of the diagonal.
Cut between the two seams…
Set seams, press toward dark, trim up, and check it out! Two HSTs and NO marking!
Seriously people, it’s like magic. (However, it is not magic taking photos in the basement.)
On my table, the biggest HSTs I can do with this method is 3″ square–but for those of you lucky ducks who have a custom table where your machine is inset, you may be able to go even bigger. Just make sure your tape is straight out from the needle.
What do you think? Will you try my Half Square Triangle Hack? Do you have any fast and easy methods of your own? I’d love to hear them!
Also. YOU GUYS. New Patterns and a Black Friday coupon code coming tomorrow!! I’m crossing my fingers you love these new ones as much as I do.
Remember that Ooh La la fabric by Anne Sutton/Bunny Hill I showed you last week? I used the blues and whites to make a sweet, simple baby quilt for my sister in law who’s expecting in June–and of course I forgot to take a picture. But the pinks and greys I used for this simple but really really great quilt for my other friend, who is a Disney junkie and even one-time Disney Princess at Disneyland! I threw in a few grey wovens from Etchings by 3 Sisters for Moda, as well as some Hometown by Sweetwater for the name applique and the border.
I wanted to go with something sophisticated and pretty (her color style) but still add a bit of Disney Princess glamour. I used a free Disney font to make her name, and then just freehand drew the Minnie Mouse ears and crown.
A little fuseable web, a lot of machine applique, and a bit of iridescent thread for good measure. I love how this fabric worked out, even though it’s a “baby” collection, it ended up being a nice sophisticated quilt for an adult. I love that.
She loved it, and I’m so glad. I backed it in this super soft grey Minkee. I wanted to keep it for myself, it was so soft.
I machine quilted it with an allover double swirl pattern (because I think it looks magical), and then some fun detail quilting around her name. The binding is a really cute pink and white bias stripe.
I’ve got one more gift quilt to finish for my sweet baby nephew (I’m in love with him) who’s already 3 weeks old (mini-Swoon, anyone?) and then I’m on to spring pattern writing frenzy! I’ve got all the quilts made up, and several of the patterns written and tested, but I’m waiting on fabric for the last two.
Have you made any gifts lately? Or used a fabric collection for a different purpose than it was intended?
Two of my loveliest friends had birthdays last week, and I couldn’t help but pull some things together for them. I could picture in my head exactly what I wanted to make for them, and no matter how many times I tried to think of something store-bought that would be just as good, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t settle.
So I just did it.
First, an oh-so-fun Cathedral window throw pillow in red and lime green, to match her bedroom makeover! (Lucky girl got some really cute beadboard and shelving in there too!) She said it matched just right, and I’m so glad. A few fat eighths of Ruby by Bonnie and Camille for Moda and some white yardage and I was on my way!
I’ve wanted to do a cathedral window pillow for quite some time, and lucky me, there was a great tutorial on the Moda Bake Shop that walked me through it. I was SHOCKED at how much fabric it uses. So much folding! It’s like origami magic with fabric.
Super fun, super time consuming, but super great results. I’m going to have to refrain from making about 5 for my own room, whenever I get around to redoing it. (In case you’re curious, the walls in my bedroom are a striking shade of mauve, a gift from the previous owner. I avoid my bedroom in daylight at nearly all costs.)
I’ve got one more gift quilt to finish for my sweet baby nephew (I’m in love with him) who’s already 3 weeks old (mini-Swoon, anyone?), another for a sweet little girl fighting cancer, and then I’m on to spring pattern writing frenzy! I’ve got all the quilts made up, and several of the patterns written and tested, but I’m waiting on fabric for the last two.
Have you ever made a Cathedral Window pillow or quilt?
PS Stay tuned tomorrow to see the quilt I made for my other awesome friend’s birthday…she used to be a Disney princess.
We had no idea what to give her for Christmas.
Especially because she was quite adamant in saying she didn’t want anything (which is of course not acceptable).
She doesn’t need anything.
But she’s always cold.
Turns out, that, I know how to fix.
A darling layer cake of American Jane’s Fairy Tale Friends (thanks Moda!) some really snuggly backing, and a few hours later?
She loved it.
“Oh, I’ve just never felt something so soft!”
It just might have been the only gift that got her to smile this year.
But I might be biased.
It now lives on her bed along with the matching pillowcase.
That, my friends, is what quilting is all about.
Piecing a perfect four-patch block is just one of those things a quilter should have under their belt, if you know what I mean. Luckily, it’s a quick and easy process (nevermind that it took me about a billion pictures to show how easy it is…). Once you get the hang of it, you can crank these babies out in no time flat, and you’ll want to, they’re in a TON of patterns. I apologize in advance for these colors. They’re pretty much clashing with everything else here…
Take the squares on the left and flip them over so they are face down on top of the fabrics on the right. The “right sides” of the squares should be facing each other. In quilting terms, this is called “right sides together”. I know, we’re a creative bunch. Pin, if necessary. My squares are only 2½” square, so it’s not needed in my case, but if you’re working with squares bigger than about 3″, I suggest pins.
Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew both sets of two squares together using a straight stitch. To make things easier later, do NOT take a double stitch or backstitch on the first and last stitches.
They’ll look like this. Only with your fabrics, of course.
Press the seam allowance with a hot iron. I know this seems weird, but it’s called “setting” the seams. It makes the thread lay more flat so that when you open up the block and press it, it lays, well, more flat.
See? Looking flatter already.
Now, open up your pieces and lay them face down.
Decide which way you will press your seam allowance. Ideally, you will press in opposite directions, toward the darker fabric. So, see how the block on top is being pressed to the left, while the block on the bottom is being pressed to the right? This makes it really easy, later on, to make a perfectly aligned intersection. To make sure you don’t “lose” any fabric in the seam, gently pull both sides of the block away from the seam while using your fingers to press and hold the seam allowance the direction you will press it with the iron. Work slowly and carefully so you don’t skew or stretch your blocks.
Press with hot iron.
Now, place the right sides together again. You will notice that your seam allowances are facing different directions, directly opposite each other. You will also notice, that if you use your fingers to gently slide the blocks against each other, you can feel when the block “clicks” into place. This is usually called “butting” or “nesting” your seams, and is a great way to not only get precise intersections, but also to distribute bulk.
Pin. Usually, I will pin at the top, at each intersection, and at the bottom. If there is more than 3 inches or so between, I will pin there, too.
Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew. Be sure to remove your pins before they go under your presser foot.
Lay flat on your ironing board, and set the seam.
Open up the block, face down on your ironing board. Push the seam allowance in opposite directions on the top and bottom.
Since you didn’t take any backstitches before, pushing the seam allowances will loosen those middle stitches, allowing them to come out and open up, like this. Isn’t it cute? Besides being cute, it is also much flatter than pressing your seam allowance all to one side. (There ARE situations where that is a better option, though, so follow your pattern’s instructions.)
Press it. (And when I say press it, I mean pick up your iron, and place it on the block. Straight down. Don’t move it around. That will just stretch and warp your block.)
Now, flip it over, and give it one more press. Voila! A perfect four-patch block!
I knew you could do it.
Any questions? Tips or tricks? Share!
I got a sweet little gift this week.
“Look Mommy! I made you a quilt!”
Paper and pencil, only, but still just as precious as a fabric and stitch version.
And boy was she delighted when I told her we could make a real one.
(And boy was I delighted that she wanted to!)
I did the pinning with a little help from the boy.
She guided the fabric, oh so carefully. I loved every minute.
It turned out so cute, I’m tempted to keep it, except for the look on her face when I gave it to her.
Over the moon.
Turns out, that’s how I feel about teaching her, too.