These blocks finish at 12″ square. I’ve decided to make a throw-size quilt with 12 blocks. With sashing strips and borders added, my quilt will finish somewhere around 56″ x 68″ — a good size to display on the back of a couch or over one’s lap.
Here are the first six blocks stuck up on my design wall with some sashing strips:
You can see how the sashing srips and the four-patches in the corner of each block combine to create an Irish chain effect. That’s one of the reasons I like this Quatrefoil quilt pattern so much.
I need to pay careful attention to how I put the fabric combinations together in the final six blocks so that the over-all effect is balanced. Isn’t it funny how hard we quilters work to make a scrappy quilt look effortlessly planned?
Oh, I know I am going to enjoy working on this new project! This is Test Block #1 of a quilt I’ve started with a festive line of holiday fabric called “Holliberry” designed by Corey Yoder for Moda Fabrics. The block is called Quatrefoil, which means “four leaves” in French.
When I first learned about “Holliberry” a few months ago, I knew I wanted to make something with it. Not knowing what to make, I decided to buy a Layer Cake (a package of 10″ squares featuring the entire line) and a few pieces of yardage. I already had my background fabric: a polkadot print from another designer, Lori Holt of A Bee in My Bonnet. I love how the green and red dots are scattered randomly over the white fabric.
The fabrics got packed up last month and hauled to Atlanta so I could work on the quilt while visiting my twin sister Diane over Thanksgiving. I keep a sewing machine there, along with a complete set of accessories, because I always do some sewing while I am at her home.
This year my sewing experience was especially enjoyable because Diane had her handyman make a “Big Board” that sits on top of her ironing board to increase the ironing surface. This Big Board is BIG! Check it out:
My own Big Board is 22″ x 60″, which suits me (and my small-ish sewing room) just fine. Diane’s Big Board measures 26″ x 68″. I had sent her a king-size cotton batt, unbleached muslin, and fabric for the cover beforehand. She and her handyman wrapped three layers of batting and one layer of muslin around the frame and stapled them in place. Then they stretched the top layer of fabric over the surface and held it in place underneath with large 2″ T-pins I had ordered from a wig shop. Because the top layer is pinned rather than stapled in place, it will be easy to take it off for laundering or replace it when the time comes.
My Christmas Quatrefoil quilt will be what I call “controlled scrappy.” I’ll be using different combinations of prints from the “Holliberry” line:
The stacks of squares on either side of the block can either be the four leaves of the quatrefoil or the centers of four blocks.
Despite the wonderful addition of Diane’s Big Board, the block you see at the top of the post was the only one I made on this visit. Diane and I were too busy celebrating a big birthday — our 70th! — and let’s just say that it’s not a good idea to drink champagne and sew at the same time.
After making Test Block #1, I determined I needed to make one change but I didn’t get to it until after returning home earlier this week. Here is Test Block #2:
Can you see the difference?
I’ll give you a hint: look at the four small green blocks with the diagonal print.
Here are the blocks side by side (I wish the colors were the same but the photos were taken at different times of day in different light):
I replaced the four-patch units in each corner so I could change the orientation of the diagonal green lines. The green lines on the right block form a diamond shape that echoes the diamond shape of the red print. The change might not be noticeable to some but I find the revised block much more pleasing to the eye.
Now that I’ve finished the first block, I can hardly wait to make some more!
Hello from Atlanta, where my husband Charlie and I are visiting my twin sister Diane and her husband Ed. It’s our annual Thanksgiving trip. We arrived earlier than usual this year for a special reason: Diane and I turned 70 on November 16th and we wanted to celebrate the big 7-0 together. We weren’t going to let Covid keep us apart.
Charlie and I took extreme precautions on the trip here from Oregon, including wearing safety goggles in transit that made us look like very large insects. Two days after we left Portland the governor of Oregon announced new statewide restrictions because of the alarming increase of Covid cases. We will self-quarantine for two weeks on our return.
In the interim, we are having an absolutely wonderful time doing not very much at all. Lots of Scrabble games, brisk walks outdoors in the fresh air, reading, watching movies, making favorite recipes and trying out new ones. On our actual birthday we got all dressed up — Diane and I in our Little Black Dresses — and went to an early and very properly socially distanced dinner at a lovely French restaurant.
As fraternal twins Diane and I were never dressed alike by our mother but half a lifetime ago, when we turned 35, we bought matching sweaters and posed for this photo:
Fast forward another 35 years. We decided to recreate the photo with new matching sweaters:
Who says you can’t be silly at 70? Of course we can never go out in public wearing these outfits at the same time!
Here’s Diane in her Little Black Dress (which is actually midnight blue) . . .
. . . and here I am in mine:
I whipped up masks for us to wear with our LBDs:
I’ve taken to adding neck straps to my masks after hearing from a fellow quilter, Linda B. No more needing to stuff a mask into a pocket or leave it dangling on one ear. (Thanks so much for the idea, Linda!)
That’s the extent of my sewing on this trip to date but I hauled a bunch of fabric all the way from Portland to start on a new quilt. Here’s hoping I have a couple of test blocks — Quatrefoil blocks, in fact! — to show you real soon.
Most of my quilts sport round quilt labels on their backs. My go-to “pattern” to make a round label is a compact disc, which measures 4⅝” in diameter. It seems to be the perfect size to contain all the information I want to put on a label. I described my method in a couple of posts earlier this year but not with great specificity. That’s why I decided to write a detailed post about it.
This tutorial is a companion to my most recent tutorial on printing quilt labels on fabric. Whether you write your labels by hand or create them by computer, you can follow the directions below to make a perfectly round label.
(By the way, I first wrote about my method of using compact discs to make quilt labels in 2012. Back then I was writing my labels by hand. I’ve streamlined the label-making process since then and have also moved to creating labels on my computer rather than printing them by hand. If you are writing your labels by hand, you can follow steps 1-5 of my 2012 tutorial and pick up the finishing process below.)
My labels are made with quilter’s cotton. I use fusible interfacing on the back because I like to “baste” the label in place by lightly fusing it to the back of the quilt before appliquéing it in place by hand. You can also use non-fusible interfacing and simply pin the label in place to appliqué it.
Supplies ⦁ quilt label printed on fabric (or quilt label hand-printed on scrap of fabric at least 6½”square)
⦁ scrap of light to medium-weight fusible interfacing at least 6½” square (I use Pellon 911FF)
⦁ compact disc
⦁ #2 pencil with a very sharp point
⦁ temporary marking pen or pencil (I recommend the Frixion erasable gel pen)
⦁ pinking shears
Step 1. Print a test copy of your computer-generated label on a sheet of paper. In my example I have created two labels on one page using two different typestyles so I can decide which one I like better after seeing it printed on fabric:
You might prefer to create just one label and center it on the page.
Step 2. Find the midpoint of the label by measuring the longest line and dividing by two, then by measuring from the bottom of the top line to the bottom of the last line. In my label below, the midpoint is the top of the stem on the letter “d” in the word “Portland.” Using a sharp #2 pencil, mark the center with a small dot.
Center the hole in the middle of the compact disc over the dot you marked. Draw a complete circle around the disc:
This gives you a preview of what your finished label will look like. If your circle is slightly off, erase the lines and redraw.
Step 3. Print your label onto fabric:
Step 4. Determine which label you plan to use and trim excess fabric. I decided to use the top label so I measured 6½” from the top of the fabric before making the horizontal cut:
My label is 8½” wide — more than it needs to be — because it’s the width of a piece of paper. A label that’s been hand-printed need not be wider than 6½”.
Step 5. Fusible interfacing usually has a bumpy texture on the fusible side whereas the non-fusible side is flat and smooth. On the flat, non-fusible side of interfacing fabric trace around the compact disc:
This is your stitching line so make sure it’s dark enough to see clearly. You can use a pencil like I did or a Frixion pen.
Step 6. Lay the interfacing over the label fusible side down and center it. You should be able to see the lettering clearly through the interfacing:
The circle you drew on the smooth non-fusible side is on top. When the label is turned right side out, the bumpy fusible side will be on the outside.
Step 7. Pin the layers in place:
I like to put pins in the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions first, adding four more pins evenly spaced. The thinner the pin the better because you want the layers to be as flat as possible.
Step 8. Using a small stitch (2.2 on a computerized machine or about 12 stitches to the inch), sew all the way around the circle, removing each pin as you come to it. Go five or six stitches beyond where you started so you don’t have to knot the thread:
First Light Designs tip: Make sure you are using an open-toe foot on your sewing machine that allows you to see the needle going in and out of the fabric. You need to stitch precisely on the drawn line. If you stray even a stitch or two off the line your label won’t be perfectly round. Any sharp points in stitching will be visible when the label is turned right side out.
Step 9. Trim around the label with pinking shears. Notice that the inside point of the pinked edge is just a few threads from the stitching line:
First Light Designs tip: If you don’t have pinking shears, trim around the label a generous 1/8” from the stitching line. You can probably get away with a scant 3/16” but a quarter of an inch is too much. Clip from the outside edge almost to the stitching line all around the label; the clips should be no more than a quarter of an inch apart.
Step 10. Pull the interfacing away from the label fabric and make a small snip in the middle. Cut across the middle of the interfacing to within a half-inch or so of the edges:
Step 11. Turn the label right side out. From the back side of the label run a softly pointed tool around the stitched line until the label attains its round shape:
In the photo above you see a white point turner (also known as a bone folder) and a multipurpose quilter’s tool called That Purple Thang. Both tools work well for turning a round quilt label. So does a long fingernail.
Your label is now ready to be attached to the back of your quilt.
First Light Designs tip: After determining where you want the label to go — but before lightly fusing it in place — use a ruler aligned with two outside edges to make sure the lines on the label are parallel with a bottom edge.
Step 12. Fuse the label to the quilt lightly — enough to hold the label in place but not enough to completely melt the fusible. Use a press cloth and make sure to use the iron temperature specified by the directions that came with the fusible interfacing. You don’t want to scorch the label!
Allow the label to cool and appliqué it in place by hand:
And there you have it: a perfectly round label securely attached to the quilt.
Presenting . . . Lilacs in September. The little quilt started 12 years ago to use up some leftover blocks is finally finished. I stitched the label on yesterday. But there was one more thing to do before I could call it a wrap: the quilt got tossed into the washer and dryer. I love the look and feel of a freshly laundered quilt, don’t you? Such puckery goodness:
Here’s a look at the whole quilt:
It’s a very simple design: nine patches alternating with snowball blocks. I jazzed it up a little by angling the corners, adding a flange, and finishing it with a narrow and wide border.
Here’s a look at the simple pieced back, jazzed up with a single Quatrefoil block:
Lilacs in September finished at 50″ x 56″ — a good size for a lap quilt. I’ve just moved it to the back of my chair in the TV room. The next time I plop down in my chair to read a book or watch TV, I’ll throw it across my legs to keep myself warm. See what I mean? It’s a wrap!
Back in May — doesn’t that seem like a hundred years ago? — I wrote about a method I discovered quite by accident of printing computer-generated labels on fabric. It requires only two items: fabric and fusible interfacing — no freezer paper involved. I described my method and promised to write a proper tutorial on it. Here is that tutorial. Better late than never, right?
I’ve written this tutorial in two parts. Part 1 is all about getting the fabric ready. Part 2 is about creating the label on your computer.
Part 1, Preparing the Fabric for Your Label
Step 1. Choose a fabric for your label that allows the type to show clearly. The fabric can be a solid or tone-on-tone print in a light to medium-light value. You might also be able to use a printed fabric — perhaps one you used in your quilt – if it’s not too busy or too dark in value to make the printed label hard to read. I’m illustrating this tutorial by making a label for my most recent UFO finish, Lilacs in September, using a medium light spring green fabric with a crosshatch design.
Step 2. Cut the label fabric about ½” larger all around than a printed page. In the United States the standard paper size is 8½” x 11” so you would cut your fabric about 9½” x 12”. It doesn’t have to be exact. I just lay a piece of paper on top of my label fabric and cut around it with scissors:
Step 3. Choose a featherweight or lightweight fusible interfacing. I use Pellon 911FF (the FF stands for featherweight fusible) for most of my labels but other brands will work equally well.
Step 4. Cut the fusible interfacing slightly smaller than you cut the label fabric. I do this the same way, by laying a piece of paper on top of the interfacing and cutting around it with scissors:
Cutting the interfacing slightly smaller assures that you won’t accidentally fuse it to your ironing board cover when you iron it to the label fabric. No need to ask me how I know that . . .
Step 5. Place the fusible side of the interfacing on the wrong side of the label fabric, making sure none of the fusible extends beyond the edges of the label fabric . . .
. . . and fuse in place following the manufacturer’s directions.
Step 6. Place the fabric on your cutting mat interfacing side up. Trim to 8½” x 11”:
Make sure your cutting is precise because the piece of interfaced fabric needs to fit perfectly in the paper tray of your inket printer.
Step 7. Place the fabric in your printer’s paper tray. (Make sure you know whether the fabric side needs to go in the tray right side down or right side up, as it varies from printer to printer. It goes right side down in my HP Office Jet Pro 8620.) Now print the label:
Voilà! It should slide out of the printer just as if it were a piece of paper. (You’ll notice I put two labels on my page; I’ll explain why in Part 2.)
One more thing to do:
Step 8. Heat-set the ink on the label using a press cloth and plenty of steam:
This helps to keep the ink on the label from fading with repeated washings. Irons vary widely so let me caution you not to have the iron too hot as it may scorch the label, even with a press cloth on it. I like to set my iron on medium high and, with the press cloth on top, steam the writing on the the label for 10 seconds. I let it cool and steam it for 10 more seconds.
Now you’re ready to finish your label and attach it to your quilt. You’ll see in Part 2 below that I like to make my labels round but yours can be any shape you want. Squares and rectangles are popular and easy because all you need to do is turn and press the raw edges under ½” or so and stitch the label to the quilt.
Part 2. Creating the Label on Your Computer
Step 1. Open up a new document on your computer and type the information you want to include about your quilt. What you put on your label is entirely up to you. At a minimum I always include:
the name I have given my quilt
my city and state
the name of my quilter (if I didn’t quilt it myself)
the year of completion
Notice that each line is centered.
If my quilt is an original design I might say “designed and made by Dawn White.” If the quilt was made from one of my own patterns I might include the name of the pattern or say “designed and made by Dawn White of First Light Designs.”
If my quilt was made using someone else’s design, I always credit the designer:
If I tweaked someone’s design, added my own design elements, or significantly changed construction techniques, I might add a line such as “based on (pattern) by (name of designer)” or “inspired by (name of designer)”:
Step 2. Determine the point size and typeface of your label. The point size refers to the size of the type, e.g. 12 point, 14 point, etc. The typeface refers to the design, or style, of the lettering. Most word processing programs offer dozens of typefaces to choose from. On my computer these typefaces are called “theme fonts.” (Did you know that font is the French word for face? Now doesn’t the word typeface make more sense?)
The point sizes you choose depend on the size and shape of your finished label and how much information you want to include. My label for Lilacs in September has five lines of copy. I put the name of the quilt in 24 point boldface and italic. The lines underneath are in 14 point. I auditioned a sans serif type face called Arial and a serif typeface called Cambria. Both labels fit on one page so I could make my final decision on which one to use after this page was printed on fabric. (Putting two labels on one page is just an option, of course. You could create one label and center it on the page, which would give you a lot of flexibility in deciding later on the shape of your label.)
Step 3. Save your document.
Step 4. Print your label on paper. This gives you a good sense of what the label will look like printed on fabric. Here is my label for Lilacs in September, printed with black ink:
If you have a color printer you can experiment with different colors of ink. Print the labels on paper first to test the depth of color. You may find the ink doesn’t look quite as dark or as vivid on fabric as it did on paper.
Take another look at the label for Scattered Stars, my cheddar and indigo quilt. I used indigo ink which turned out to be not as dark as I was expecting but I still chose it over black:
Most of my round labels are made using a compact disc as a pattern. A CD measures 4⅝” in diameter so a label with a few lines of text fits inside that circle nicely. My label for Give Me the Simple Life has eight lines but still fits inside the compact disc pattern size:
The addition of the red ring made the label finish at about 6″ in diameter.
Below is a computer-generated label I made in May to replace a label on Ramblin’ Rose, made several years ago. I had omitted two significant pieces of information — the inspiration for my quilt and the name of the longarm quilter — and wanted to correct those oversights. In the photo below the original label is still on the quilt, about to be removed and replaced with the one on the right:
I used to write all of my labels by hand, a time-consuming endeavor. Creating them on the computer and printing them directly onto fabric has turned out to be quick and easy — and rather fun to do. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to hand-printed labels.
I hope you find my tutorial helpful. Be sure to let me know if you have any questions. As always, thank you for visiting First Light Designs!
Note: I followed up this tutorial with a new one, posted Nov. 6, about how I make my round labels using a compact disc. You can find it here.
Off to the longarm quilter’s one day and ready for pick-up the next! I certainly landed in her queue at just the right time. Here’s a great in-process shot of the quilting Karlee of SewInspired2Day did on my 12-year-old UFO, newly named Lilacs in September:
I was surprised and delighted that Karlee was able to do an edge-to-edge design over the flange on this quilt top. I was sure that folded strip of fabric would get flipped back on itself when the needle traveled over it from the center of the quilt. Turns out Karlee’s longarm has a special foot for sewing over flanges. And she also basted the flange down first, removing the basting stitches after quilting.
The quilting motif is called Abundant Feathers. I was going for a traditional look for this very traditional nine-patch and snowball block design. Here’s a look at the finished front:
A couple of close-ups:
The thread is a pale grey, which blends with all the fabrics. The quilted feathers enhance the quilt without overpowering it.
Here’s a look at the back . . .
. . . including a detail of the singleton Quatrefoil block:
After trimming the quilt, I laid it on the floor to measure it (51″ x 57″) and take photos. Guess who appeared out of nowhere? Yep. Princess Cordelia, aka Coco.
If she’s not on the quilt, she’s under it:
Oh, about the name Lilacs in September. I was inspired by a 1995 British film called Daisies in December, starring Jean Simmons and Josh Ackland. Filmed in Cornwall, it tells the story of a grumpy senior citizen dumped at a seaside retirement home for two weeks by his vacationing family. He’s determined to have a rotten time. Of course he meets someone interesting . . . but there’s a complication. I had a copy of this film on VHS back in the day. It’s never been released as a DVD in the U.S. but it can be seen on Amazon Prime via the Hallmark Channel. I actually signed up the other day for a free seven-day subscription to the Hallmark Channel just so I could watch the movie again.
If daisies can bloom in December, I wondered, can lilacs bloom in September? (I pulled this quilt out of my sewing room closet on the last day of September.) The answer is yes: although many varieties bloom in spring, there are some later-blooming varieties. You could say this quilt is a late bloomer, given the number of years it’s been in my closet.
Now on to the binding. My first fabric of choice would be the medium dark blue fabric of the inner border. It would make a nice frame for the quilt. Second choice would be the light cornflower blue print of the outer border. After 12 years I didn’t have much hope that I’d find either fabric still in my stash. Oh, happy day! After looking just now I found a 16″ strip of the outer border fabric, more than enough for the binding strips. How perfectly providential!
Isn’t that a lovely block design? It’s called “Quatrefoil,” which means four leaves, and it’s been around a long time. I’ve had my eye on this block ever since a student pointed me to Jenny Doan’s tutorial on the Missouri Star Quilt Company’s website. Jenny’s demo features a charming quilt made from precut 10″ squares from a single line of fabric.
I made one 12″ block — dressed up with a fussycut center — to add a little pizzazz to a quilt backing:
The block really deserves to be showcased in a full quilt because the four-patches in the corners form a secondary pattern. If you search for “quatrefoil quilts” on Instagram or Pinterest you’ll see some wonderful examples. My singleton quatrefoil really doesn’t do the quilt block design justice.
The backing you see above was made for the the quilt top I showed you in my last post, the one with snowball blocks and nine-patches that languished in my sewing room closet for a good dozen years. It was sandwiched and partially quilted but I never got very far with it. When I decided to have it quilted by a professional longarm quilter I knew I’d have to make a new backing because longarmers require four extra inches of batting and backing on all four sides to make sure the layers of the quilt can be loaded properly on the frames of their quilting machines. Quilters using their domestic sewing machines typically don’t need to do that.
Even if I had wanted to finish the original quilt sandwich myself I would have needed a new backing because there were two fade lines in the backing fabric where the quilt was folded. I have no idea how those fade lines got there because as far as I recall the backing was never exposed to sunlight. Can fadelines occur in dark closets?? Inquiring minds want to know.
In any case, I was able to salvage part of the original backing fabric and added a couple of other pieces from my stash that work well with the fabrics on the front. The quilt top and back were delivered today to Karlee Sandell of Sewinspired2Day to work her magic. I expect I will have something to show you very soon.
Can you picture Frank Sinatra crooning the lyrics to September Song?
“Oh it’s a long long while from May to December . . .”
[never truer than in the time of COVID!]
“But the days grow short when you reach September. . .”
We’ve actually reached the end of September. And until today I hadn’t worked on a single quilt the entire month. Can you believe that? Oh, I did some sewing in September: a few face masks, a pair of pillowcases, a bucket hat. I also worked on a fun home decorating project over the weekend that I’ll tell you about in a bit.
But a quilt? Not until today, when I pulled out this throw-sized quilt top I pieced a dozen years ago:
This little quilt came into being because I had a stack of 9-patch blocks left over from another project. (That’s a lot of leftover blocks, right? A confession: I had pressed the seams in the wrong direction while strip-sewing.) I combined the 9-patches with some snowball blocks, set them all on point, and created this 52″ x 58″ throw.
This project was ready to quilt back in 2008. I had pin-basted it to the batting and backing and had actually sewn a single line of stitching. One line! I have no memory of why I didn’t continue but I have no desire to finish quilting it myself now. My “quiltmaking” today consisted of removing all the basting pins and getting the layers ready to deliver to a longarm quilter.
My plan was to have it quilted with a simple edge-to-edge design. Then I realized that because I added a flange to the interior, the quilt will probably need to be custom quilted. Here’s a close-up of the flange:
Some of the fabrics are ones I would probably not buy now but I like the top well enough to want to finish it.
Now about that home dec project:
My husband and I took our first trip since the pandemic arrived on our shores, driving from Portland to Bend last Thursday to spend a delightful long weekend with my stepmother Shirley. While there I made two tailored bedskirts for her extra-long twin beds. Shirley recently bought new bedspreads with a nautical theme featuring navy and aqua images on a white background. We decided on a solid navy fabric for the bedskirts.
Here’s a look at the pattern I made on graph paper along with the fabric, a navy blender (almost a solid) called “Shadowplay” by Maywood that I like so much I buy it by the bolt:
You may be able to tell from my pattern that the bedskirts have one inverted pleat along the end and two on each side. Because of the dark fabric and the lighting in Shirley’s bedroom I wasn’t able to get good pictures of the completed bedskirts but they did turn out beautifully. You’ll just have to take my word for it!
This is the third and final pair of queen-size pillowcases made from a lovely toile fabric from Timeless Treasures that’s been in my stash for a few years:
The first two pair were made last year, the first pair as a gift and the second for my own home. I made these pillowcases last week as a hostess gift, planning to deliver them to my twin sister Diane when the Dear Husband and I make our annual Thanksgiving trip to Georgia in November. (Of course we will be taking every precaution while traveling during the coronavirus pandemic.)
I made the mistake of telling Diane about the pillowcases and she cajoled me into sending them in advance. I’m glad I did because she promptly put them on the pillows in the main floor guest room and sent me pictures. Here’s a close-up of the cases:
There’s something special about toile. I was really sorry to use up the last of that fabric. I actually searched for more on the Internet but came up empty-handed.
I did not make the accent pillow on the bed; Diane had it made at a specialty shop using fabric left over from the bedskirt. But I do spy four things in the photo above that are “me made”: the pillowcases, the quilt at the foot of the bed, the bedskirt, and — hard to see but look at the reflection in the mirror in the bathroom for a glimpse — the shower curtain, made in 2011 and embellished in 2012. You can read about that here. (There’s one more thing I made that you can’t see in the photo: tailored valances. I wrote about that project in this post, also from 2012. By the way, the pillowcases were made using my photo-laden Perfect Pillowcases tutorial.)
The DH and I will be sleeping on these pillowcases soon! This year’s trip is a very special one as Diane and I will be celebrating an important birthday, one of those big ones ending in a zero. Here’s a hint: we will become septuagenarians.