Category Archives: tutorial

Oven Mitts that Fit: the Prequel

The prequel to the tutorial, that is.

My oven mitt tutorial is almost ready to go. Before I hit “publish” on the post, I want to give you a bit of background (by way of explaining my obsession with making a beautifully finished oven mitt) and a couple of hints on making a pattern for a mitt that fits your own hand.

For the last three or four years I was on the lookout for new oven mitts but was never able to find suitable replacements. The ones in stores were either too big or poorly made, sometimes both. My twin sister Diane was in the same boat. We actually bought our mitts at the same time years ago and they had definitely seen better days. We were bemoaning the lack of good store-bought oven mitts around Thanksgiving last year. At that point I decided to make my own — and make a pair for Diane to boot.

In preparation I went online and checked out several printed tutorials. Boy, was I surprised! Some of the tutorials were way too much work. Some had you cutting out left and right hand patterns. Why on earth . . . ? The mitts are the same shape on both sides, for heaven’s sake.

Others had you make two mitts – one from the main fabric and one from the lining fabric; you inserted the lining mitt into the main mitt and sewed the two together, meaning you were doing twice as much cutting and sewing – and not even getting a mitt that was quilted all the way through. Not one tutorial gave what I considered good instructions for a nicely finished cuff edge made with a contrasting fabric.

There had to be a great method out there somewhere, I thought, and if I couldn’t find one – well, I would just have to figure one out for myself. But I needed a pattern to get started. I downloaded a couple of free templates. When they were printed I could tell they were too big. What to do? Why, make my own pattern.

I simply traced around my favorite old mitt on a piece of freezer paper:

Did you notice that the pattern is flared at the bottom? That makes the mitt easier to slip on if you are wearing a garment with long sleeves.

For those of you unfamiliar with freezer paper, it has a shiny coating on one side that allows it to be ironed temporarily onto fabric. No need to use pins. The freezer paper can be peeled off easily, leaving no residue — and it can be used over and over again. The best place to get your freezer paper? The grocery store! The only brand I’ve ever seen is by Reynolds Kitchens. Crafters and quilters love it.

Combining what seemed to be the best elements of some online tutorials, I made a test mitt. That was the easy part. The hard part was applying the binding strip around the cuff edge. The opening of the mitt is relatively small, presenting a challenge first in moving it under the needle of the sewing machine and then in joining the raw edges neatly. Most tutorials are maddeningly vague about this step or produce results that leave something to be desired.

I experimented with different widths of binding strips and various techniques for joining the ends, making several sets of mitts in the process, including this early pair for Diane:

The results were satisfactory . . . but I was looking for something more. The best solution came to me last month in a “what if?” moment. It seems so obvious now.

Want to know my secret? A partial seam!

That’s right. By leaving one side seam only partially sewn, there was more room around the cuff edge to manipulate the fabric while applying the binding strip. And then I could finish sewing the side seam, which now includes the binding strip, giving me a beautifully finished mitt when the strip was turned down and tacked to the inside:

Are you intrigued? Want to make your own? I hope so!

My tutorial will come with a link to a printable template so you can make your own freezer paper pattern. Or you can do what I did and draw around a mitt you already have. If you use my pattern you can modify it to fit your own hand. If you make your own pattern by tracing around an existing mitt, you can place your hand on it to test the fit as I do in the photo below.

The edges of the pattern should be at least ¾” wider than your hand around the thumb and finger portions. There should also be at least 1” from the notch between your thumb and fingers to the notch of the pattern and from the tip of your thumb to the end of the thumb on the pattern. Note the arrows:

It may look like my hand would be swimming in a mitt that size but you need room to turn the mitt inside out and still have room for the seam allowance.

My tutorial is so detailed and picture-laden that it is coming to you in two parts. Part 1 covers fabric requirements, instructions for downloading and printing the pattern, assembling the layers, and quilting the resulting “quilt sandwich.”

Part 2 covers the sewing of the mitt and band around the cuff edge as well as the final step of tacking the band down.

Look for Part 1 in the next few days!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, oven mitts, tutorial, update | 10 Comments

Oven Mitt Breakthrough

For those of you wondering whatever happened to that oven mitt tutorial I promised a couple of months ago, I have an update for you. I actually started working on a tutorial back in January but got hung up working on instructions for applying the binding.

Each set of oven mitts I’ve made since making my own pattern in December has been nicely finished but applying the binding has been a process best described as “fiddly.” My goal has been to figure out a way to apply the binding for a neat finish that can be effectively illustrated in a picture-heavy tutorial and be easy enough for a confident beginner to follow.

To that end I’ve been experimenting with different widths and different ways of joining the ends. I’ve tinkered with single-fold and double-fold binding. The results have been acceptable. But ease of construction? Not so much. “There has to be a better way,” I kept thinking.

The other day I had a “what if?” moment. Yesterday I tried out my idea. I was on the right track but took one wrong turn. I tried again today — and it worked! The result is the set of oven mitts you see above.

Isn’t that fabric cute? It reminds me of a Valentine card I received as a kid that had peas on the outside. Inside was the message “Peas be my pod-ner.”

I have the perfect person in mind for these oven mitts. She’s Irish and loves the color green as much as I do. She reads my blog so I’m betting she’ll figure out these are for her. I’m planning to visit her next month but don’t want to wait that long to give them to her. If I get them in the mail tomorrow, she might get them by St. Patrick’s Day.

 

 

 

Posted in family, oven mitts, single-fold binding, tutorial, update | 7 Comments

JBB Accessories

A year ago at this time I had just finished teaching a class at Montavilla Sewing Center on the one and only Junior Billie Bag, which I like to call “the quintessential quilter’s tote.” I wanted to test my idea for a new Junior Billie Bag Accessories class and had offered my students a bonus class on making four accessories to go along with their newly finished totes.

My idea was to have the students do advance work on all four projects and then finish them up in the space of a four-hour class. Good thing the class was a freebie, as it turned out I had vastly underestimated the time it would take to complete each project. Fortunately, by the time class ended the students were well on their way and would be able to complete their projects at home.

I was making accessories along with my students in order to demonstrate some of my tips and techniques so I too went home with unfinished projects. One year later, my accessories are finally finished:

At the top is a 4″ x 4″ x 4″ fabric box, which makes a wonderful threadcatcher. On the bottom left is a tool caddy based on the Travel Case pattern by Pearl Pereira of P3 Designs. In the middle is a little scissors case, and on the right is a rotary cutter coat.

I selected the fabrics you see above because they go so well with a Junior Billie Bag I made a couple of years ago for my dear friend Vickie R.:


Naturally these latest accessories were made with Vickie in mind, and I am happy to say they are now in her possession.

Here’s a look at the inside of Vickie’s tool caddy:


I made some modifications to the original pattern, adding a fourth pocket and making the case a little less wide (I’ll explain why in just a bit). The 6″ x 8″ mini cutting mat made by Olfa fits perfectly inside the case. Vickie will choose which of her tools she wants to put in her case; I put some of my own in just for this photo shoot:

As you can see, it holds a lot! Mine is loaded with even more.

The reason I made the travel caddy a bit narrower than the pattern calls for is to make it fit better in this hard plastic brochure holder:

With the flap turned back, all of Vickie’s favorite tools will be right at her fingertips and easy to see. (A huge “thank you” to my guildmate Becky B. for introducing me to the brochure holder.)

That class in February 2020 was one of the last ones I taught before the coronavirus pandemic brought a screeching halt to in-person classes. I miss teaching so much and will savor the day when classes resume. There’s a list of quilters who want to make their own Junior Billie Bag, and I trust some of them will want their own suite of accessories to go with it. If so, I will be ready for them!

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, rotary cutter case, tote bags, tutorial, update | 8 Comments

A New Project!

I know, I know. Why on earth am I starting something new when I have a sewing room full of UFOs? Well, I have my friend Char to blame — er, thank — for this one. Char, who blogs at The Quilted “Q,” wrote a post recently about a video tutorial she found online to create a quick but dramatic quilt made from 2½” strips of fabric. Fabric manufacturers have found a ready market for packages of these pre-cut strips that feature an entire line of fabric. The packages are popularly known as Jelly Rolls, although that name is trademarked by Moda Fabrics.

Intrigued, I clicked on the link Char provided. After watching the video I decided on the spot to make a quilt using a Jelly Roll that’s been in my stash for a few years. The quilt pattern, Tea Time, was designed by Larene Smith of the Quilted Button. The tutorial is by Donna Jordan of Jordan Fabrics and includes a pdf handout:

(Clicking here will take you to the video and the pdf handout.)

In doing a little research I found that Larene Smith’s design first appeared in 2009 as a free pattern called Tea Time in Bali and was offered to promote Bali Pops, the name Hoffman Fabrics gave to its packages of 2½” batik strips. You can see Larene Smith’s striking version here.

The fabrics in my version are very different. I’m using the one and only Jelly Roll in my stash, “High Street” by Lily Ashbury for Moda:

It was an impulse purchase. I really don’t use pre-cuts much (mainly because I like to wash and iron my fabrics before using them) but for some reason this one spoke to me. I do remember buying this while on a quilt shop hop with good friends; no doubt they influenced my decision to purchase it!

The pattern calls for 40 strips, from which you make eight strip sets of five fabrics. This Jelly Roll has five main colors — pink, orange, yellow, green, and grey . . .

. . . and with one exception each color is represented with eight strips. All I had to do was lay out the strips on my ironing board and combine them into eight piles of five strips each:

I tried not to think too much about choosing the piles, just making sure I had one of each color and looking for contrast in value and scale in the strips that will be next to each other. Because of the unique way the strip sets are cut and arranged, each fabric is going to wind up in different places in the blocks for a very scrappy look.

You see only seven piles above because I had already sewn one strip set together. Actually, you sew the strips into a tube and then cut the tube into triangles which open up to reveal blocks measuring 7″ square. Each tube yields seven blocks. Here are the blocks from my first strip set:

They went together really fast, and I’m eager to move on to the next set. Truth be told, I’m in a bit of a winter funk (and darn it, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow yesterday on Groundhog Day so we’re looking at six more weeks of winter). Being able to finish a quilt top quickly is sure to be a mood-lifter, and I will certainly enjoy working with these colorful and cheerful fabrics.

 

 

 

Posted in tutorial, update | 12 Comments

Oven Mitt Giveaway!

That’s right, friends. I’m giving away a set of oven mitts to three lucky winners. Will you be one of them?

I made these oven mitts in preparation for writing a tutorial. The shape of the mitts is the same on all of them — it’s the binding I’ve been tinkering with. I’ve been trying different widths and finishing techniques. Now that I’m finally satisfied, I can get to the tutorial — but now I have to make one more set of mitts to photograph for the tutorial!

The mitts you see above were made of four layers:
⦁ the outer fabric is 100% cotton
⦁ the second layer is 100% cotton batting
⦁ the third layer is Insul-bright, an insulated lining material specifically made for hot pads and oven mitts
⦁ the fourth layer (the inside of the mitt) is cotton with an aluminized coating, commonly used to cover ironing boards. This fabric is not essential but I had some on hand and decided to use it because one of my old oven mitts happened to be lined with it.

To be entered in the giveaway, all you have to do is write a comment at the bottom of this post responding to the question, “What is your favorite kind of food?” If you wish, name a dish you especially like in your favored cuisine. How simple is that? No need for you to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram (though I would be delighted if you chose to do either).

One entry per person. I will mail anywhere in the world so international readers are welcome to enter.

Family members are invited to leave comments but are not eligible to win. (Don’t feel too sorry for them; all they have to do is let me know they want a set and they’ll get one!)

The giveaway will remain open through Friday, January 29. On Saturday, January 30, I’ll use a random number generator to pick three winners. Winner #1 gets the red mitts on the left with the flowers; winner #2 gets the set in the middle with the cherries; and winner #3 gets the set on the right with the poodles.

But wait — there’s more! It it happens that you are a winner and the mitts are totally the wrong color for your kitchen, you can let me know when I contact you and I’ll make you a custom set in the color of your choice. If that happens, I’ll draw a fourth winner for the set that didn’t work for you.

Good luck, everyone!

 

 

 

Posted in family, Giveaway, home dec, oven mitts, tutorial, update | 46 Comments

The Oven Mitt Quilt

Is this not the oddest looking quilt you’ve ever seen?

Actually, it’s not a quilt at all.

I’m gearing up to make a few sets of oven mitts as gifts and I didn’t want to take the time myself to quilt the four layers needed for a well insulated mitt. So . . . I made a “quilt top” using three suitable prints from my stash that could all be quilted with the same color thread and asked Karlee of SewInspired2Day to quilt it for me. The result is what you see above. The quilt motif is “Modern Waves,” one that Karlee has used on another of my quilts, Where It’s @.

Here’s a closer look at those three fabrics, pictured with my oven mitt pattern to give you an idea of the scale of the prints:

I think they’re going to make pretty cute oven mitts!

You may remember the mitts I made last month for my sister Diane. I quilted the fabric for those using a cross-hatch design:

After I published the post I had a few requests for a tutorial. Good news! A tutorial is coming.

And maybe even a giveaway. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Posted in family, Giveaway, home dec, tutorial, update | 3 Comments

First Light Designs: Best of 2020

Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a Best of 2020 Linky Party, inviting bloggers to highlight their top five posts of the year. It’s a fun way to look back over the last 12 months and identify some of the high points. (And wouldn’t we all much rather dwell on the high points of 2020 than the low points?!)

My top five are below, in reverse order. Clicking on the links will take you to the original posts.

5. Uptown Funk. My version of Dresden Neighborhood by Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams. It was so much fun to make!

Uptown Funk (24″ x 26″) by Dawn White (2020)

 

4. Something in Red: New Oven Mitts. Every oven mitt I’ve tried on in a store has been oversized, and every tutorial I’ve found online has included a pattern that’s too big. What’s a quilter to do? Why, make her own, of course! I just started making oven mitts in December and am still tweaking my process but I plan to offer my own tutorial and free pattern in early 2021.

Mitts that Fit! Made by Dawn White (2020)

 

3. A Bee in my Bucket Hat. A reversible hat made using the Sorrento Bucket Hat pattern from Elbe Designs.

Dawn’s Sorrento Bucket Hat (2020)

 

2. Love Rocks. All You Need Is Love, made using the Love Rocks pattern and alphabet (both contained in Sew Kind of Wonderful’s latest book, Text Me) and the Wonder Curve ruler.

All You Need Is Love (38″ x 44″) made by Dawn White, quilted by Sherry Wadley (2020)

 

1. Scattered Stars, an original design using a block first seen in Jenifer Gaston’s quilt Churning Stars.

Scattered Stars (66″ x 88″), made by Dawn White, quilted by Karlee Sandell (2020)

 

Thank you so much for checking out my “top five” blog posts. If you’re a blogger, you can join Cheryl’s party, too. The link is open until January 2. Be sure to check out the top five posts of the other quilting/blogging partygoers — and prepare to be inspired!

 

 

 

Posted in bucket hat, cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, home dec, machine applique, tutorial, update, wall hanging, Wonder Curve Ruler, wonky Dresden neighborhood | 10 Comments

Tutorial: Making a Perfectly Round Quilt Label

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.

Be sure to let me know if you have any questions!

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, quilt labels, tutorial, update | 6 Comments

Printing Quilt Labels on Fabric: A Tutorial

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 name
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.

I used red ink on my label for All You Need is Love:

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.

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, cheddar and indigo, Churning Stars quilt block, Hazel's Diary Quilt, quilt labels, tutorial, update | 8 Comments

Best Tips for Perfect Star Points

Do you love star quilts as much as I do? I’ll bet half the quilts I’ve made over the years contain star blocks. Susan of stitchedbysusan.com, a quilter whose work I very much admire, asked me the other day on Instagram about my “best tips for perfect star points.” I thought to myself, “That’s a good topic for a blog post!”

I’m always surprised — and yes, a little disappointed — when I see star quilts with the points cut off. With a little care that can be avoided completely.

To illustrate this post I’m using a 6″ Sawtooth Star block from my current project. It’s made up of four Flying Geese units which form the star points, a square in the middle of the block, and four smaller squares in the corners:

If you look at the four Flying Geese units you’ll notice that the points of the star go right to the corners, the outer edges of the units. If the seamline is off on either side of the corner by even an eighth of an inch, the star point is going to be off when it’s joined to the other pieces in the block. In a block this small, a sixteenth of an inch can make a difference.

Tip #1: Make sure the seamline intersects the corner precisely.

The easiest way to achieve this is to make the block slightly oversize and then trim to exact size with a ruler. This is especially true with star points because they contain diagonal seams and it’s all too easy to get some distortion when sewing and pressing them,  especially if you use steam and press with a heavy hand like I do.

There are several excellent Flying Geese trimming rulers on the market (I have two that I love) but the truth is you can trim perfect star points with any ruler that has the proper angled degree line going to a corner. Because a traditional Flying Geese unit is always twice as long as it is high, that angle is 45 degrees. Virtually every quilting ruler has a 45 degree angle marked on it.

Tip #2: Don’t forget the No Surprises pin.

I have my teacher and mentor Billie Mahorney to thank for this tip. It’s one of the most valuable things I ever learned from her. The No Surprises pin is the one that goes at the end of every stitching line to make sure the two layers are still lined up when you get to the end. The feed dogs on a sewing machine don’t always feed the layers evenly, resulting in one layer coming up short. This is especially true with longer seams. No matter how short the stitching line, I never fail to put in the No Surprises pin.

In my block the first three seams are pinned and ready to chain sew. Because these pieces are so small I didn’t feel the need to do pinning other than the No Surprises pin:


I have arranged the top and bottom pairs to be stitched so that I am stitching in the direction the diagonal seam was pressed (i.e. with the seam rather than against it).

On the middle pair I’m stitching on the side where I can see the intersection and make sure I cross it in the proper place (see Tip #3 below).

Here are the pieces chain stitched:


Look very carefully at this next photo for a preview of Tip #3:


Do you see how my stitching line joining the two pieces doesn’t cross at the exact top of the inverted V? It’s actually a couple of threads away from the point formed by the V and toward the raw edges.

When the stitching line is right on top of the point or — heaven forbid — a few threads on the inside, the point in the background fabric gets chopped off. This is where an accurate quarter-inch seam is so critical.

Tip #3: When approaching a point (in this case it’s the bottom of the V of a Flying Geese unit), don’t stitch exactly across the point where the stitching lines intersect; rather, sew a couple of threads away from the point and toward the raw edges. This little tip is what gives you a nice crisp point when the seam is pressed.

Tip #4: In order to achieve Tip #3, make sure you are using a foot that allows you to see the needle going in and out of the fabric. Most quarter-inch feet are “open toe,” allowing you to see the path the needle takes.

Take a look at the next photo. You can see that my star points in the top two pieces where the corner squares have been added are a quarter of an inch away from the edge — thus they won’t get chopped off when I sew them to another piece of fabric. In the bottom piece, which is the center of the block, the inside V of the background fabric is nice and sharp.

Tip #5: Sew seams with a regular quarter inch seam. This is not the time to go for a “scant quarter inch” because the point of your star will land inside the seam allowance when other pieces are sewn to the block. That’s another way star points get chopped off.

Now look at the picture again and notice how the seams are pressed. In the top two pieces the seams are pressed toward the outside (toward the corner squares). In the bottom piece, the seam is pressed toward the center square and away from the Flying Geese unit. My seams will nest when I’m ready to sew the units together.

Tip #6: Whenever possible, press away from the points, whether it’s the star points or the bottom of the V of a Flying Geese unit.

Tip #7: Whenever possible, press from the right side of the block. This helps prevent tiny pleats from being pressed in at the seamline, which often happens when blocks are pressed from the wrong side.

I’ve added the other pieces of my Sawtooth Star block and now have three units ready to sew together. Here they are from the front . . .

. . . and from the back:


Even though the seams are pressed in opposite directions where they will meet, I still pin the intersections and add the all-important No Surprises pin at the end:

Do you see how the edges at the beginning of the stitching line (upper left corner) don’t meet? They’re supposed to. To correct this I’ve added a pin at the beginning of the stitching line to nudge that top layer over to meet its neighbor underneath:


These two seams that I’m sewing are the ones that connect my Flying Geese units to the middle section. When I get to the middle of the block I’ll make sure my stitching line is a couple of threads away from the point and toward the raw edges (Tip #3).

The seams are sewn and pressed toward the outside:

This is the way I pressed my star block seams for years. The block still looks good from the front but it feels bulky at the V where all those layers are lying on top of each other. Nowadays I clip the seam at the intersections so that I can press it toward center of the block, minimizing the bulk at the V:

Another option is to make a second clip on the other side of the intersection and press the seam open just between the clips, revealing a tiny 4-patch design. That’s what I showed you in my last post:

Here are my three most recent 6″ Sawtooth Star blocks, including the one starring (sorry, couldn’t resist) in this post:

I hope you found my tips helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions!

 

 

 

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