Monday, September 17, 2012

Trying New Techniques

As the fourth of July approached this summer, I found myself with a couple of free days and an itch to try some new things. Being a newbie quilter, nearly everything is new to me, so I had lots to choose from.

So what did I try? First of all, I wanted to try my hand at making crazy quilt blocks. I liked the idea of starting with a pentagon and working my way around it with strips, but I didn't want to use a foundation and do piecing. So I decided to compromise and do the block log cabin style, but with a pentagonal center.

The three center blocks came together pretty easily. All of the fabrics for the top were pulled from my scrap bins. I pulled out reds, blues, and creams/tans as a nod towards the approaching holiday, and added golds and browns for interest.

The next technique I wanted to try was sashing, but to make it tougher I wanted to add contrasting cornerstones. So after spending some time on the Internet surfing for techniques, I added a neutral sashing and red cornerstones, and was pleased at how they turned out.

Next up, what to do about a border? I'd never tried a piano key border, but decided to give it a whirl. I loved it, but didn't realize at the time it would have been better to put 4x4 blocks in the corners, rather than trying to do the piano keys all the way around. And if I did that, then the cornerstones in the sashing wouldn't really work. Oh well, lesson learned for next time!

Once the top was done, I selected a nice gold solid for the back, layered it up, and was ready to quilt. I'd just done some free motion meandering and felt comfortable with that, so this time I wanted to do something different. So I pulled out my ruler, my chalk pen, and started drawing.

Before long, I had the entire runner quilted with primitive hearts with echoes around center circles, and leafy vines along the sashing. For the border, I made single connected hearts. It was a ton of fun!

Here's how the completed runner finished:

And here's the back:

It's not perfect, but I learned a lot and had fun. And that's what it's all about, right? So be fearless and try new things. You'll be glad you did!

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

My First Pillow Cover

A few weeks ago I decided that it was high time I made tried my hand at making a pillow cover. Since I don't have a lot of places for displaying accent pillows, I wanted to use a single pillow form and change the cover out with the seasons. Lucky for me, Allison at Cluck Cluck Sew had recently posted a tutorial for making a pillow cover that was so adorable, I just had to try it.

The process was easy: cut out one pieces of fabric for the background of the front of your pillow, two pieces to overlap for the back, and various pieces of small fabric to create the illusion of a tree on the front. Not too hard, right?

This was also a perfect opportunity for me to pull out my AccuQuilt Go! fabric cutter. All those little leaves needed to be uniform, right? I sorted through the dies that I have and selected the Go! Round Flower die, which happens to have the perfect-sized leaf on it. Using the Go! made cutting out all those leaves quick and easy.

Photo from

Later, I ran into a little problem when I actually began using a zigzag stitch around all the little background fabric started to pucker. Another duh moment! Silly me had forgotten that it's always a good idea to use a stabilizer fabric whenever you're sewing on applique. So I ripped out the stitching around the few leaves I'd already done, attached a stabilizer to the back of my fabric, and started over. Perfect!

Sewing the front and envelope back together were easy-peasy. For the back, I chose a pretty fabric in fall colors that coordinated with the leaves.

One issue that I had with the tutorial is that my cover ended up being a little large for the sixteen-inch pillow form that was called for. See how much it bunches at the bottom, rather than being all tight and smooth? Or perhaps my pillow form was a bit smaller than the advertised sixteen inches? Either way, the next time I'm shopping at JoAnn's, I'll pick up an eighteen-inch pillow form to try. I think it will be just perfect!

This is a quick and easy project. If you'd like to give it a try, check it out here.
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