Saturday, January 29, 2011

Patchwork is EASY

Tailoring Thursdays™; Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Sewers:


I know a lot of people who think patchwork is difficult and so they have never even attempted it! 

I am here to say, that patchwork is easy!

The only tricky part can be getting your corners lined up, but there are a few tricks to this! 

Here are 2 of my favorite:

The first is 


To practice, let's make a 4 square block.  

Take 4,  3" squares 
(or larger, the ones in the pictures are 5" from charm packs).
Lay the squares out in your desired, 4-patch arrangement (see below picture). 

Lay the top squares on the bottom squares or the left squares on the right squares, right sides together. 

Sew along the meeting side with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Iron the seam with one quick press to set the stitches. 

Open the squares and press the seam toward the darker side. 
Making the seam flat. 

There is a slight "bump" or raise on the front of the seams you just sewed.  

Placing the pieces on top of each other right sides together.
Line up these raises, so that they almost "connect", kind of like puzzle pieces.  

Hold this nested bump together with your fingers and then sew the edge with a 1/4" seam allowance. 
You can pin this as well, if you prefer.  
I usually do not pin when I quilt.  

Press the seam to set your stitches.
Open the seam and press it to one side. 

And Tada!  Look at those points!  

And such pretty patchwork! :) 

Another way, frowned upon by many a professional, is opening your seams.

I actually think this is a good way to learn about matching your seams when quilting.  

If you have never attempted patchwork before, I think practicing like this will actually show you a few things about lining up seams and help you to figure out nesting easier.  

If anything, I think it shows you how much easier nesting is! :) 

***in case you were wondering, this was not a recommended method in the past because seams were not as strong as they are today.  With today's machines, this method of patchwork will hold up just as well as pressing your seams to one side.*** 

To practice, let's make a 4 square block.  

Take 4,  3" squares 
(or larger, the ones in the pictures are 5" from charm packs).
Lay the squares out in your desired, 4-patch arrangement (see below picture). 

Lay the top squares on the bottom squares or the left squares on the right squares, right sides together. 

Sew one side with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Press your seam, to set the stitches. 
OPEN the seam and press.

Line up your two pieces and lay one on top of the other, right sides together.

Match up the seams you previously sewed. 

and pin the pieces together, exactly through the seam.

Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance:

Set your stitches.  
Then open the pieces and press the seam Open again. 

And tada! 

So those are two methods.  I do have one other teaching method, but it is only for the extremely patch-worked challenged. :) 

Friday, January 28, 2011

A day late....

and always a dollar short. ;)

I am NOT a late person, but alas having a child has shown me that lateness is sometimes unavoidable.

Yesterday started off with me getting my normal blood tests and a stop at the hardware store, where the little man informed me we also needed spackle!  How does he even know what spackle is?

It was supposed to continue in it's productivity...however, upon getting home with my new melamine board, the finishing piece to the ironing table I have been working on building for 3 weeks now, I found that I did not have a large enough drill bit for the bolts I bought.  Ughh.

Decided drill bits could wait until later or tomorrow.

Little man went down for his nap and finally, I could be productive again!  But alas, no.  Instead he woke from his nap 4 times in a 2 hour stretch.  Very unlike him.  Normally he goes down and that's it until I come in and tell him it is time to wake up.  That was the first clue.   Needless to say, I did not get much of anything accomplished during nap time.

After getting up from his nap, his eyes were watery and he kept telling me that his, "nose is full of water".  I don't know if toddlers can be OCD, but this child is pretty darn close!  Whenever his eyes or nose get wet, even from his own tears or snot, he NEEDS a tissue.

My day continued to go down hill from there.  Little man got sicker and needed lots of love and attention until bed time.  Which took a solid 4 - 5 hours to get him down for the night, but at least that gave me a solid 4 hours of sleep in between smaller amounts of sleep.

Finally, before I got into bed I was going to get up yesterday's sewing tip.  I was feeling oh so very accomplished after getting all the picutres taken and sitting down to the computer to edit and post.  As I went to load the pictures into photoshop, I got an error.  AND, my pictures were gone from the camera.

After that I called it quits and hit the hay.

Now it is Friday morning and while I was supposed to be picking up my mom at the airport, instead I am at home nursing a sick little one and myself.  My sweet (albeit slightly annoyed) husband is picking up my mom.

Soon my mom will be here and then Grandma time will commence!  At which point, camera cooperating and all, I hope to actually get up yesterday's tip post.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tutorial! Pieced Dump Truck Quilt Block

You may remember about two weeks ago, I entered a little quilting contest and this was my original design entry:

I named this quilt block, ALL Boy, because of how much little boys
loving on their cars and trucks is so boyish. 
It was such a fun piece that I put together, I decided to put together a tutorial for everyone! :) 

Please Enjoy!

What you will need to make 1 dump truck block. 
  • Approx. one fat quarter for the bucket and sky (yellow and blue in the tutorial)
  • Around 1/4 yard or a 10" square of fabric for the cab (red in the tutorial)
  • 2, 5" diameter circles for the wheels (brown in tutorial)
  • Matching Thread
  • Batting, backing and 1/8 yard for binding if making mini quilt.  Not necessary if just making a block. 


1.  Cutting

  •  4-1/2" square
  •  7" Square
  •  5-1/2" x 3" rectangle 
  •  3-1/2" x 1-1/2" rectangle 
  •  3-3/8" square cut in half diagonally
  •  5-3/8" square cut in half diagonally
  •  1-7/8" square cut in half diagonally


  •  3-1/2" x 1-1/2" rectangle
  •  1-7/8" square cut in half diagonally
  •  3-3/8" square cut in half diagonally
  •  5-3/8" square cut in half diagonally
  •  The rest of the material will be cut into strips in the last step. 

  • 4" x 1-1/2" rectangle
  • 6" Square
  • 1-7/8" square cut in half diagonally

2.   Sew the following sets of triangles as the diagram below shows using a 1/4" seam allowance:

3.   Sew all squares and rectangles as each diagram below shows, using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Plus signs are in between the seam edges that need to be sewn together:


4.    Measure the top of your rectangle across.  Then cut a 3" x (measurement +2) strip of blue fabric and sew to the top. 

Repeat with the bottom. 

Repeat with the left and right sides. 



5.  Take your two brown circles and appliqué on where the plus signs are in the below diagram. 

I appliquéd mine on with the normal appliqué stitch only, I did it once on the outside and then on the inside in the opposite direction as shown below. This gave the look of tire treads. 

Finally, quilt as desired and bind or add more blocks!  

I actually wanted to piece in a window for the cab, but according to the rules of the contest I entered when I pieced this I had to keep my 6" square of red in one piece or cut it into no more than 3 pieces.  Adding a pieced window would have violated that rule.  So instead I quilted in the window.  

Here's the modified part of the tutorial if you want your dump truck cab to have a window.


Repeat step 1 of original directions EXCEPT the following:


  • Cut all the same
  • Cut an additional 2-1/2" Square


  • 4" x 1-1/2" rectangle
  • 1-7/8" square cut in half diagonally
  • 2,  2-1/4" x 6" rectangles
  • 2,  2-1/4" x 2-1/2" rectangles

2. Follow above diagrams A - D, stopping at E.  

3.  Follow below diagrams: 




Also, after completing the piecing, I wanted to add a touch of sky between the cab and the bucket.  Here are the modified instructions for adding that if you wish. 


Repeat step 1 of original directions EXCEPT the following:


  •  4-1/2" square -- CHANGE TO 5-1/2" x 4-1/2"
  •  5-1/2" x 3" rectangle -- CHANGE TO 6-1/2" x 3"


  • Cut an additional 1-1/2" x 6-1/2" rectangle

2.  Repeat diagrams from original tutorial step 3, stopping after diagram D.   Sew the new blue rectangle to the bottom of the yellow and blue strip in step D.  
3.  Follow the rest of the diagrams. 

I hope you enjoyed this and will be making all the little men in your life dump truck stuff! :) 

P.S.  If you have never pieced a quilt top before and want a few more tips, then come back on Thursdays!  My next few Tailoring Thursdays™ will focus on piecing tricks! :) 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Straight Seams

Tailoring Thursdays™; Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Sewers:

Sewing a Straight Line

Whether it is online or at a sewing class, I hear people ask, how do I sew a straight line? 

To the non-sewer, this may sound like an odd question.  To the extremely experienced sewer, this may sound like a novice question.  

To the person staring at their finished piece of work wondering why the stitches are slightly crooked or their seams are a bit wonky, this question rings through and through.  

So, How do you sew a straight line? 

Well, here are a few tips.

 if you are piecing quilts, this little gadget is wonderful!  
This is called a 1/4" piercing/quilting foot. 

It is great because you just line up the edges of your fabric with the edge of the foot and you get a perfect 1/4" seam allowance every time.  
Of course, a lot of people will tell you that there is a seam guide on most machines manufactured in the last 30 years.  You can line up the edge of your fabric with the seam guides for a straight seam.  

For Example: Most patterns call for a 5/8" seam allowance, simply keep the fabric lined up with the 5/8" line on  the seam guide line and sew.  

I do find that this is not always the easiest way to sew a straight seam.   
The seam guide on the plate does not always go all the way down to the edge of the machine and it can just be plain old difficult to keep your fabric lined up with these lines. 

As an alternative to the sewing machine's seam guide, there are commercially available seam guides that you stick on your machine.  

You cut out the area around the bobbin and the foot and then you stick on the seam guide and then remove the paper backing to adhere the seam guide to your machine.  

Use this the same way you would use the seam guide on your machine. 

Finally, my favorite way to sew a straight line is simply, by drawing one.


With the amount of tools available today, there are so many options for  writing on fabric without it causing damage to your fabric or finished garment.  

There are air erasable chalks and markers. 
There are pencils, pens and chalks that are water soluble and disappear when being washed or touched.  
There are even pencils and pens that come with their own erasers. 

Using a ruler and a removable marking tool, draw a straight line for the desired seam allowance. 

Sew directly on the line. 

No matter how you choose to sew your straight line, setting the seam is an important step.  Using a hot iron, I prefer steam, press down on the stitches.  

Do not move the iron back and forth, just press down for a few seconds.  If using steam, just steam one or two puffs. 

And tada!  Straight seams.  

I hope one of these little techniques helps if you are having a hard time with sewing straight seams!

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