Step Two: make a back for it. I incorporated some leftover blocks and used Michael Miller’s Eiffel Tower fabric:
I had to piece two widths of Eiffel Tower fabric for the back. To match the design, I used a tip I learned from Elizabeth Hartman in her free class, Creative Quilt Backs, on Craftsy.com. In Lesson 4, Elizabeth demonstrates her technique for matching large-scale prints. Even though the print on my quilt back isn’t large-scale, her technique worked just fine.
See if you can find the seam in this close-up of the back:
Even if you spotted it, I think it will be virtually invisible by the time the quilt is quilted and washed.
Step Three: send it off to be quilted. It’s at the longarmer now, and I can’t wait to get it back!
By the way, when I chose the fabric for the backing, the name of this quilt suddenly came to me: Honeymoon in Paris. Why? Three reasons. One: two of the fabrics I used in the rings on the front are Paris-themed. Two: the pattern is based on the traditional wedding ring block. Three: there are Eiffel Towers all over the back. Choosing a name was as easy as . . . un deux troix!
“Hey, it’s good to be Back Home Again.” Do you remember the song by John Denver? It came out in 1974, so you have to be Of a Certain Age to know it. We are indeed home after a delightful two-week stay in Atlanta with my sister Diane and her husband, made even more delightful by the arrival of our sister Reigh and her husband a couple days before Thanksgiving.
I managed to squeeze in a couple of little sewing projects for my sisters the last week I was there. Reigh said she would love to have a runner for the pub table in the dining area off her kitchen, and Diane said she would love a new set of pillowcases for the guest room on the main floor. My arm didn’t have to be twisted: it meant a trip to a local quilt shop!
Off we went to InTown Quilters in Decatur, Georgia, where both Diane and Reigh selected batiks for their projects. Reigh has a lot of brown and blue in her kitchen and dining area, with touches of yellow and gold. The colors in this simple table runner should go very well with her décor:
Reigh bought enough fabric for me to make two sets of napkins, four in each set.
Because the design of the runner is so simple — just a rectangle of fabric with four borders – I mitered the corners to give it a little something extra:
I used low-loft batting and did some very basic topstitching to finish it. Reigh has promised to send me a photo of the table runner when she gets back home so I can show you how it looks in its designated spot.
Here are the pillowcases I made for Diane’s guest room:
Here’s another view that includes the pleated bedskirt I made last year during my annual Thanksgiving visit:
I love the way the gold fabric in the pillowcase picks up the gold in the bedskirt.
Reigh and Diane joke about shackling me to the sewing machine when we are all together but the truth is I am in my element when creating something with fabric.
When sister Diane and I visited sister Reigh in Idaho over Memorial Day weekend, we went to HomeFabrics and Rugs, a home decorating fabric store in Boise with an incredible selection of high quality fabrics and trims, matched by amazingly low prices. Diane found a beautiful piece of home dec fabric for a dollar a yard. Too good to be true? Well, there was a hitch: she had to buy what was on the bolt. As it happened, there were 10 yards of fabric on the bolt. There went 10 bucks. For another $10, Diane shipped the fabric home to Georgia. She had no idea what to do with it but just knew it would look good somewhere in her home.
She actually found two places to use the fabric. First, she had the two vintage slipper chairs in the downstairs guest room recovered. Here is a picture of one of the slipper chairs before . . .
. . . and after:
The slipper chairs were originally covered in a velvety green plush, with a gathered skirt that went to the floor. The newly recovered chairs are more tailored, with a shorter skirt that’s pleated rather than gathered. The fabric is a brushed cotton, in a medium-scale print that goes very well with the other furnishings in the room.
This picture of the second slipper chair gives you a good look at the front:
I think they are just charming! The best part is that there was enough fabric left over from having the chairs upholstered to recover the four chairs in Diane’s kitchen dining area. She waited till I arrived for my annual Thanksgiving visit so we could tackle that project together.
Here are two chairs, the one on the right newly recovered and the one on the left waiting its turn:
I’d say Diane’s $20 was money well spent, wouldn’t you?
Fewer than 24 hours after arriving in Atlanta for our annual Thanksgiving visit with my sister Diane and her husband Ed, my trusty 1975 Elna, stored at their house, was set up and humming away. The project: refashioning a pair of tab curtains into a valance and panels for the loft in their home.
I made the original curtains for our other sister Reigh’s dining room when she and her husband George moved to Idaho in 2008. When they built their retirement home this year, there was no place for the curtains. Diane was only too happy to take them, knowing I could transform them into something when I came to visit in November.
At her last foray to Scott’s Antique Mall in Atlanta, Diane found a beautiful Italian walnut bench from the early 1920s with a cane seat and buttery yellow silk seat cushion. She realized that the curtain fabric would go perfectly with the seat cushion. By the time I arrived, she had a plan.
Here is the loft before:
(The bench is deliberately set off center, because it looks better when viewed from below.)
Here is the loft after:
Here is the loft viewed from another angle:
And here is a close-up of the fabric (too gorgeous not to be used again!):
I’m back from Quilt Camp and very pleased that I achieved one of the two project goals I set for myself. Only one of two, mind you, but I’m pleased nonetheless. Here is my version of Metro Rings, designed by Jenny Pedigo of Sew Kind of Wonderful:
. . . it’s off to camp I go! Quilt Camp, that is. From Sunday afternoon till Wednesday afternoon, I’ll be at the conference center in Silver Falls State Park near Silverton, Oregon sewing non-stop with 11 wonderful women, four of whom are in my quilt group, the Quisters. I think this is my sixth year. Once we’ve unpacked and set up our sewing gear in the big conference room, we are good to go. We only stop to eat. Seriously! Three meals a day are provided – and they are ample and good.
Every year it’s a struggle deciding what to take. Because I vastly overestimate how much I’ll accomplish, I bring way too many projects in way too many plastic tubs. Some of them never even get opened. This year I’m more focused, more organized.
My Number One goal is to finish my Metro Rings quilt top. After making the test block I showed you in my last post — here’s another look at it –
I set about getting all of the fabric cut for 11 more blocks. Here are my strips of black-on-white and white-on-black for the rings:
I’m using a total of 20 different fabrics. They are sewn into 20″ long strip sets and then cut into curves using a specialty ruler. I got the strip sets sewn and then cut the red and blue corner triangles and the white triangles and strips for the background:
I got the curves cut in the background fabric . . .
. . . but I’ll wait till I get to Quilt Camp to cut the curves in the strip sets. I should be able to hit the ground running!
My Number Two goal is to finish this kaleidoscope table runner, also mentioned in my previous post:
It’s already sandwiched and I’ve done some in-the-ditch quilting. What the runner needs now is some free motion quilting. I’m going to try a plume feather design in each of the 45 degree triangles. Wish me luck! Free motion quilting is not my strong suit but I’m going to give it my best shot.
I’m also bringing a couple of UFOs with me in case I get my Number One and Number Two projects done. Yes, I know: ever the optimist!
I’ve been bouncing from project to project this week like the proverbial rubber ball and boy, has it been fun! First I made this little fabric box, using directions from my friend Viv:
I think Viv’s directions were adapted from a tutorial she found on the Internet. She made a box for me last year that I use all the time. In my sewing room it catches threads. When I go to a quilt class, it holds notions. So versatile and cute!
Then I made a pair of king-size pillowcases for my twin sister, Diane:
My husband and I are spending two whole weeks with Diane and her husband around Thanksgiving; these cases will be a hostess gift. She fell in love with the fabrics when she saw them made into this sewing machine dust cover so I’m pretty confident the cases will be a hit.
This is Jenny’s modern take on the traditional wedding ring block. Those curved rings are made from strip sets! It’s the fourth design of hers I’ve made using her Quick-Curve Ruler, and I continue to be amazed and delighted at how versatile the ruler is. I’m especially excited about this quilt-to-come because I’ll be teaching a class on it at the Pine Needle in January 2014.
I’ve been making pillowcases since 2005, when my quilt teacher Billie Mahorney first showed me how to make a “Magic Pillowcase” with French seams and a nifty way of enclosing the band on the inside with no raw edges showing. You’ve probably seen directions for other versions of this pillowcase, variously called the Burrito Pillowcase, the Hot Dog Pillowcase, or the Roll-it-Up Pillowcase.
Over the years I’ve made dozens of pillowcases — for friends and family, for charity, and for the Portland White House. Over the years I’ve tweaked Billie’s method, fiddling with seam allowances and incorporating ideas gleaned from here and there, winding up with what I think is the perfect pillowcase. Try my version and let me know if you agree!
Perfect Pillowcases from First Light Designs
Finished size: @ 20″ x 31″ for standard/queen cases, 20″ x 37″ for king size cases
Fabric requirements for one pillowcase Pillowcase body: 3/4 yd cotton (for king case, 1 yd)
Bottom band (goes at open end of pillowcase): 5/8 yd cotton
Accent strip: 4″ strip cotton
Flange (folded strip): 2″ strip cotton
Preparation Wash and iron fabrics first. Why is this important? Two reasons. First, fabric does not come off the bolt evenly wrapped. If you don’t wash and iron it first, the fabric won’t be on the straight of grain when you cut it (and this will become obvious the first time you wash and dry it). Second, fabric comes with sizing, the chemical finish that gives it a crisp feel; washing removes the chemicals and makes the pillowcase ready to sleep on when it’s completed.
When you wash, dry, and iron fabric and then fold it so that the selvages meet, the cut ends (perpendicular to the selvages) rarely line up evenly, and you lose a bit of fabric when you trim the edges. The fabric requirements above take this into account.
Sewing machine with ¼” foot or other open-toed foot
New sewing machine needle (I recommend size 80/12 sharp)
Standard sewing supplies (thread, scissors, straight pins, measuring tape, seam ripper)
Rotary cutting equipment (large mat, rotary cutter, rulers short and long)
Point turner or other tool for gently poking out corners
Cutting instructions WOF = width of fabric, usually 42″ – 44″ before selvages are removed
Pillowcase body: cut one piece 25″ x WOF. (For king case, cut one piece 31″ x WOF.)
Bottom band: cut one piece 13″ x WOF
Accent strip: cut one strip 2″ x WOF
Flange: cut one strip 1¼” x WOF
1. Fold flange in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. With right sides together, align the raw edges of the flange along one long edge of the accent strip and machine baste with 1/8″ or 3/16″ seam.
2. With right sides together, sew the flange edge of the accent strip to one long edge of the bottom band. Note that the basting stitches are in the seam allowance to the right of the seam you are sewing. (Don’t worry if the bottom band, accent strip, and flange are slightly different in length – you’ll trim them evenly in Step 3.)
Press the line of stitching to “set the seam.” From the front, press the seam toward the accent strip, turning the flange toward the bottom band.
3. Fold the band/accent/flange unit in half as shown below and arrange it on a large cutting mat so that the fold is on the left and the selvages are on the right. Make sure the fold is next to one of the inch marking lines on the mat. Measure 20¼” from the fold — you should be within an inch or so of the selvage edges — and align an acrylic ruler on the 20¼” mark:
Trim the selvages. Your band unit should be 40½” wide.
4. Trim the selvages from the pillowcase body in the same way, measuring 20¼” from the fold. The pillowcase body should also be 40½” wide. With right sides together, pin one end of the pillowcase body to the other long edge of the accent strip (the edge without the flange). Machine baste with a 1/8″ or 3/16″ seam. Do not press this seam.
5. Lay the pillowcase on a flat surface (I like to use my ironing board) with the seam you just stitched at the top. The band should be underneath and the pillowcase body on top (right sides together):
This is where the magic comes in. Let the edge of the pillowcase body dangle off the edge of the ironing board. With both hands grasp the end that is dangling and start rolling it from the bottom toward the top:
Stop when the roll is in the middle of the band unit:
Now bring the bottom of the band unit up and over the roll and align it with the top of the unit:
Pin the layers together along the top and stitch with a ¼”seam, backstitching at the beginning and end of the seam. You now have a tube with two open ends.
6. Pull the rolled up case out from either end and shake it out flat. Press the bottom band first from the wrong side of the case (don’t press all the way to the fold) and then from the front. Be sure to smooth the fabric away from the seam on both sides before you use the iron to make sure you don’t wind up with folds of fabric at the seamline.
Still with me? Good! Now it’s time to finish the pillowcase with French seams, a sewing technique in which raw edges of fabric are enclosed in a seam and then that seam is enclosed in a second one. French seams are often used on lightweight and sheer fabrics. Using them on regular weight cotton adds a bit of bulk, especially in one corner, but it gives you a beautifully finished pillowcase inside and out. Over time I’ve discovered a couple of trimming and pressing techniques that minimize the bulk.
7. Fold pillowcase in half with wrong sides together. Pin the raw edges and sew a ¼” seam, backstitching at both ends. I find it easiest to start at the fold at the top of the pillowcase and end at the bottom of the band. Slow down when you get to the band unit, as you are stitching through several layers of fabric. (This is why it’s smart to start out with a new sharp needle in your sewing machine.)
Note: before I sew the seam I match the seams on the band unit and machine baste them:
8. Using a rotary cutter and ruler, trim the seam to 1/8″. (This step trims off the small loose threads that can get caught when you sew the second seam and also allows the second seam to be narrower — hence less bulk.)
After trimming the seam, turn the pillowcase inside out and gently poke out the corners with a point turner. Before you press the edges of the pillowcase, press the seam to one side to flatten it. Look carefully at the next pictures to see what I mean:
See how I have pulled the top seam down a couple of inches from the top edge? I can flatten that seam by pushing it to one side (it doesn’t matter which way) with just the point of the iron. It’s not really clear from these pictures that I am holding the heel of the iron well off the pillowcase so only the point of the iron is touching fabric. I can get the point of the iron to within a couple inches from the corners.
Now do the same thing with the side seam. Pull the side seam toward you on the ironing board, making sure fabric underneath is flat. Use just the tip of the iron to flatten the seam by pushing it to one side:
Now press the entire pillowcase with the seam in its proper position at the outer edge. You should find that the seam can be pressed flat without any excess fabric forming folds at the seamline. Another way of getting the seam flat is to roll it between your fingers but I find this to be a very laborious and time-consuming process.
9. Stitch another ¼” seam all the way around, starting at the top of the pillowcase and ending at the bottom of the band, backstitching at the beginning and end. Go slowly where the flanges meet — going a stitch at a time, if necessary — to help your machine sew through the layers of fabric.
Turn the pillowcase right side out and gently poke out the corner at the fold using the point turner. The other corner is the slightly bulky one; you’ll need to manipulate it with your thumb and finger until it forms a gently rounded right angle when it’s turned to the right side. This is what it looks like on the inside . . .
. . . and this is what it should look like on the outside:
Use the same pressing technique described above in Step 8 to flatten the seams. Give the pillowcase a final press. Voilà!
My Little Neighbor, who is working on her very first quilt, finished piecing the back yesterday. She had one block left over from the front and decided she wanted to position it in the very center of the quilt back. Here she is sewing the back together . . .
. . . and holding the completed back:
The back is composed of alternating strips of light and medium blue, the same blues used in the sashing on the front. You may remember this photo taken a few weeks ago on the day she finished the top:
What’s next? Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting will baste the layers together at her longarm studio. My Little Neighbor is planning to quilt this herself!
MLN is 11 now but started the quilt in the summer of 2012 when she was 10. Her 9-patch blocks were all sewn by hand but she moved to the machine to add the sashing and borders. You can follow her journey through these links: