Miracle Grow Quilt-A-Long

Introducing our Miracle Grow Quilt-A-Long!

This easy half-square triangle quilt is accessible and fast, even if you have never quilted before! When pulling this together for Craft South and By Hand Serial, my goal was not to be ultimately creative or innovative, but to keep it simple. When first starting out, I found quilting pretty daunting and even the humble half-square triangle (or HSTs, as we’ll call them moving here on out) seemed difficult. I wanted to write up a tutorial that beginner quilters could easily tackle.

While many of our readers and customers at Craft South are very creative and accomplished patchwork artists, I hope that they’ll forgive me for writing such a simple pattern, designed for those of us just starting out. We’ll be quilting-a-long on this via Instagram using the #MiracleGrowQAL tag -- be sure to join us, even if you’re using your Floral Retrospective fabrics differently. Everyone can play along!

Materials

Before starting this quilt, you will need a few specific materials. Everything listed here is something that really every quilter needs, so if you’re just getting into quilting and worried about spending money, these are going to be things you use over and over again.

First and foremost, you’ll need a sewing machine. While you could, theoretically, construct all 64 half square triangles by hand, it would really slow you up, and this tutorial is written with a machine in mind. (Don’t have a machine? We’d love to recommend Anna’s custom Janome!)

You’ll also need a rotary cutter with a fresh blade, a quilter’s ruler, a cutting mat & cutting surface, and a fabric pencil (or fabric pen.) You’ll need an iron set up with lots of steam and an ironing surface. It’s also handy to have some snips so you can get rid of loose threads along the way.

While you don’t have to use pins, they can make the process a bit easier if you’re a newer quilter, so feel free to use them as you like. You will need some safety pins and scissors for the quilt layering portion of the process, and if you plan on tying your quilt top like I did, you'll want Pearl Cotton in the color of your choice, and a hand sewing needle to match.

Fabric

These cuts are written to give you some wiggle room. If you’re cutting from larger yardage at home and know what you’re doing, the amount you use is listed in parentheses.

You can either order these individually or as a kit here.

You need ⅔ of a yard in each of the prints:

  • Raindrops Poppies in Amber (from the Floral Retrospective collection)
  • Overachiever in Mystery (from the Floral Retrospective collection)
  • Echinacea in Berry (from the Floral Retrospective collection)
  • Social Climber in Lichen (from the Floral Retrospective collection)
  • Clippings in Passion (from the Loulouthi collection)

You will need 2 ¼ yards of your background fabric:

  • Illuminated Graph in Fog (from the Loominous collection)

Cutting

Cut these fabrics into the following pieces:

  • 7 - 9 x 9” squares of the Raindrops Poppies in Amber (you have enough fabric for 8)
  • 7 - 9 x 9” squares of the Clippings in Passion (you have enough fabric for 8)
  • 7 - 9 x 9” squares of the Echinacea in Berry (you have enough fabric for 8)
  • 6 - 9 x 9” squares of the Overachiever in Mystery (you have enough fabric for 8)
  • 6 - 9 x 9” squares of the Social Climber in Lichen (you have enough fabric for 8)
  • 32 - 9 x 9” squares of the Illuminated Graph in Fog

I’ve given you an extra square (or two) just in case you mess up! The easiest way to cut this fabric is on a big surface, make sure your selvage edges line up at the bottom, then cut the left-side edge of the fabric to be straight. After doing this, cut at the 9” line and the 18” line on your fabric to make two skinny 9” quarter yards. From here, you can turn the fabric 90 degrees and then cut again at the 9” and 18” line -- this should leave you with 4 perfect squares, plus a little extra fabric to use in a scrappy project later!

After you’ve cut ALL the squares, you’ll start prepping the backs of your prints for half-square triangles.

The coolest thing about half-square triangles is that for each one you sew, you get two finished squares, complete with quarter inch seam allowances. Here’s how you do it:

Step 1: Draw a line from corner to corner on the wrong side of your fabric.

Step 2: Align a printed square with a background square, right sides together and edges even.

Step 3: Use your center line as a guide, and sew a ¼ “ seam allowance on either side of the center as shown.

Step 4: Use your quilter’s ruler and rotary cutter and neatly slice down the center line.

Step 5: Iron the seam out flat on both sides.

 (Need more help? Here's a video tutorial on half square triangles.)

Do this for ALL of your printed fabrics until you have 64 squares, then go through and neatly trim each one to be 8.5” x 8.5” (they should mostly be this size already, but this is a good time just to double check you don’t have any wonky ones! That’s what your extras are for if you run into trouble.)

Sewing the Top

Can you believe you’re almost DONE already? I can’t either. This is a great quilt top because it can come together in one weekend - one day cutting, one day sewing, or all in one day, if you find yourself with an abundance of time and coffee and some good Netflix shows to binge.

Now, you need to start assembling these little blocks into bigger blocks, made up of four individual squares. You do this first by sewing two together:

Press your seams flat, press the front flat. (We’re still using ¼” seams throughout this quilt as before in our HSTs.) Then, assemble these into 4 x 4 square blocks:

Once you have all of the 4 x 4 square blocks sewn together (you should have 16 of these), you can begin sewing these 4 x 4 square together into rows (or, you can sew four 4 x 4 quadrants, if you’re worried about your sewing lines being straight. I personally feel comfortable sewing strips!)

Continue until your whole quilt is sewn up! Keep track as you go of where your fabric placement is to get the diagonals -- I usually lay out the whole quilt on the floor or against pinned up batting on the wall, and then just pull and replace the pieces as I need them to stay in order. Here’s the finished quilt graphic again:

Now your top is complete! The next step is finding the right backing for your quilt. I decided to make it easy on myself and go with a 108” wide fabric. Usually, for a backing, you need to sew together two or three pieces of fabric to get something wide enough, but a 108” wide fabric means that you typically have plenty of fabric to cover the back of most quilts. Luckily, we carry some at Craft South. I’m using Anna Maria’s Halos 108” wide quilt backing, in the colorway Coral. I loved how this pop of pink on the back is unexpected. Since the finished quilt top is 62" x 62", a 60" x 60" batting (throw size) is almost perfect. All you'll need to do is trim 1" off each side of the quilt (which will give you nice, even edges.) I did this by neatly folding my quilt into layers, lining up the rows, and running the rotary cutter 7.5" up from the top seam. Depending on how things line up as you add the batting, you may need to trim more or a little less.

Making a Quilt Sandwich

Next, you'll want to prep your quilt for the quilting and binding. This process of layering the top, batting, and backing is called making a quilt sandwich. I started by laying down the top, smoothing it out, then laying the batting on top of that. Sometimes the edges of batting are a little wonky, so just make sure you get it smooth and as close as possible to all the edges. I then carefully rolled the top up.

From here, you can unroll the top onto your laid out, smoothed back -- and begin the process of pinning. I use quilter's safety pins that have a slight bend in them (for some reason these are easier to get in and out of the fabric.) If all you have is straight safety pins, that will work too, just make sure they're sharp so you don't push batting through the layers -- sometimes it's a bit thick and you have to punch those pins through! Secure your sandwich and smooth as you go, rolling the quilt up until you reach the end, then trim off excess backing about 2 - 4" away from the bottom edge (this way if any of it rides up a bit during quilting, you've got some allowance.) You can find extra guidance on making your quilt sandwich here, and on making bias binding and binding your quilt here. For my quilt, I settled on a purple linen-print that wouldn't compete with my main fabrics.

Tying the Top & Binding

Now it's time to quilt! I used a method called tying for my top, which is fast, easy, and equals a quilt you can use a little faster (and that's what we all want, right?) If you want, you can finish your ties with buttons, or use standard machine quilting or big-stitch hand quilting - both would look great with this top!

For my tying, I used pearl cotton in a bright turquoise. I wanted to really capture the jewel tones of the quilt, and since my bias binding is also neutral, I was going for something bright and unexpected here. Basically, to tie the top, you just thread your needle with a 5" piece, slide both ends through to the front, and tie a double-knot! That easy! If you want, you can get fancy with a double surgeon's knot and then do a simple overhand knot for a clean but sturdy finish. (Have a blast watching this video on overhand knots, as this is a knot they use for fly fishing.) Clip the ends down to about 1". 

Creating your own bias binding and binding your quilt are the last steps. There are so many great tutorials (no need for me to re-invent the wheel here) - check out this one for guidance. 

I hope you'll join us for the #miraclegrowQAL and pick up a pre-order for the fabrics in the Craft South shop, which will ship out near the end of July! 

Folk Flower Quilt

Project: Flower Flower Quilt by Anna Maria Horner the March Block for Creativebug's BOM series

Materials: Folk Flower Quilt, available in our shop batting & backing.  (The Folk Flower Quilt Kit is a combination of AMH's Mod Corsage Fat Quarter stack & 7 yards of her Skipping Stones fabric for background, and 2 yards of solid fuchsia for border and binding.)

Finished Size: Approximately 89" x 105" (notes on smaller options below

Inspiration: This block is simplistic in its design but I was thrilled to play it out in an intense, luscious collection of watercolor-toned florals, against a soft background.  The change from light to dark in the background shades was another chance to ket the bright flowers play hide and seek against the neutrals instead of each block having the exact same level of contrast.

Process:  My Folk Flower Block Class available at Creativebug is a really good intro to machine applique which is much simpler to tackle than you might think.  While I love using the pretty blanket style stitch on my Janome machines, even a zigzag stitch would be charming for this pattern.  The full size quilt as featured required that I make 50 blocks- yes that is a TON.  But it was broken up nicely by designing the rings of background shades changing from center out and auditioning each little flower head and leaf set was fun.  The cutting and prep required for the machine applique sort of cancel each other out in terms of fiddle-y-ness.

Notes on going from Block to Quilt:  The finished block is 12" sewn (12.5" cut) which is set on point in this arrangement.  The order that the background fabrics take from center out is as follows: Observations, Coloring Garden, Coreopsis, Eucalyptus and Overachiever.  For the outer, fuchsia borders I created a new template that is a half of a 12.5" square (cut on the diagonal) for a right triangle piece. I added a 1/4" seam allowance on the angled edge.  The template for the four corners takes the previous triangle template, cuts it in half again, adding a seam allowance back to the cut edge.... again making a right triangle but half the size.  Once your arrangement is decided, sewing the blocks together happens in rows, but on an angle.

Notes on Sizing Down:  I love how HUGE (89" x 105") this quilt is, but maybe you need something smaller.  Just taking off one of the concentric rows of changing background colors, sorta throws off the overall design, so I instead did a little figuring on scaling down so that the smaller quilts can keep the same arrangement and design.  Here ya go pal:

-A second option that would yield a quilt closer to 72" x 89" would be to shrink your flower & leaf templates to about 85%, and change your background square to be cut at 10.5"

-A third option that would yield a quilt closer to 64" x 79" would be to shrink your flower & leaf templates to about 75%, and change your background square to be cut at 9.25"

In both of the above scenarios, I think that leaving the stem cut at 1" wide (yielding 1/2") will still look great.  And if you've gotten the kit (which we only sell in one size) you'll just have more or less fabric leftover depending on which size you make.  There are really so many variations and beautiful things you can do with this block, and we would love to see yours! 

Happy Sewing!  xoxo, Anna Maria

*Get your Folk Flower Kit online or in our shop, and take the class @ Creativebug!

 

Flower Architecture

Project: Polk Block Quilt by Carolyn Friedlander, the March Block for Creativebug's BOM series

Materials: Polk Quilt Kit, available in our shop + binding, batting & backing.  (The Polk Quilt Kit is a combination of Carolyn's charm pack (5"squares) & 2 yards of her Carkai fabric for background, 4 fat quarters of assorted florals, and a yard of solid black.)

Finished Size: Approximately 56" square

Inspiration:  With Spring upon us, this was a sweet way to let little explosions of patchwork color happen on a dark ground that is reminiscent of fossils and earth and maps.  I was hoping for it to feel like soil waking up to new flowers each morning.

Process:  Carolyn's Block of the Month for March is wonderful and she does such a good job explaining the technique.   I was so excited to try out this paper piecing method, but I will admit that it took a bit to get the hang of the forwards/backwards sizing up of each scrap.   I seldom work with such small pieces, but I found each one of the blocks to be like tiny artworks, and started liking each more than the previous.  What first seemed a slow process at the sewing machine, eventually revealed itself as getting your sizing, sewing, and cutting all done at once.  Her method avoids beginning the quilt with loads of cutting, you get straight to the sewing, which I love!

Notes on going from Block to Quilt:  It was important to me that these blocks keep their identity as little treasures within the whole landscape of the quilt, so I decided to only make 16, and space them out with more background.  Each Polk Block is only 7.5" square before being sewn into the quilt, and within the block there is a little play in arranging elements.  I stuck with using the charms and 3 bright floral fat quarters as the patchwork ray elements (templates A & B) and mostly the black/gold Carkai print as background (templates C & D).  But every now and then I snuck in the dark Phillip Jacobs floral for the C & D templates.  

Instead of spacing the 16 blocks out with sashing, you can see in the third photo that I rather cut 7.5" squares from the background fabric to intersperse with the Polk Blocks.  And in two spots, I used the florals to stand in as 7.5" squares too.  This main grid of the quilt is made up of 6 x 6 blocks, and further variety is created by turning the Polk Blocks various directions for multiple outcomes.

My final step was increasing the size of the quilt a bit by using the solid black and scrap of the dark ground fabrics to create a 7.5" wide sashing.  To do this, I cut four width-wise 7.5" strips and made a few cuts in those here and there to insert the scrap pieces.  Then I attached them to the 4 edges of the center grid of blocks, one edge at time, log cabin style, and trimmed off excess.

Still deciding how I am going to quilt it, but I am sure it will involve some pretty Aurifil & my Janome so I can keep improving my machine quilting skills!

Happy Sewing!  xoxo, Anna Maria

*Get your Polk Block Kit online or in our shop, and take the class @ Creativebug!

**Carolyn will be visiting Craft South in early December for a weekend of teaching, join us!

Summer Shawl

Project: Lola's Lace Shawl from Mari Chiba, free on ravelry

Yarn: Alegria handpainted in "Atlantico" from Manos Del Uruguay

Our friend Deborah Greenaway recently knit up a beautiful little 'shawl-ette' in one of our favorite yarns from Manos Del Uruguay, Alegria.  Her's is a more petite version of the offered pattern, and on an adult is more like a generous scarf that could gracefully fall to the shoulder.  But on a child is the perfect shawl!

One of the many things we love about Deborah besides her years of knitting experience is her no-nonsense manner of sharing her impressions about, well, anything.  So I asked her a few questions about her recent knitting adventure.

Tell us about the project you chose and why?

Shawls are wonderful to knit and test a yarn where gauge doesn't matter too much as there is no fitting required and shawls dress up any outfit with a splash of color. This wide narrow style is easy to wear, a 21 century variation on traditional classic.  I was looking for something interesting to highlight this illustrative yarn.
 

And what about the needle situation for this little shawl?

I started with the 12-inch birch wood needles in size 5 and changed to the Addi metal lace extension needles when the shawl's stitches were too many for these needles. I found the points of the wooden needles too blunt to work the lace stitch, whereas the Addi points were sharper and more slippery. This one row repeat lace is not easy to repair, so take care if you do have slippery needles.
 

How did the pattern work out for you?

The pattern is approachable- just rows of garter followed by rows of yarn-over and slip-slip knit-two-together. The slip-slip-knit is good on the first row, however I found on the return row doing the same stitch is difficult to achieve- or at least is an awkward movement. I preferred to knit two together through the back of the loop, which is a slightly different look but is easier to maneuver.

So did you change up the rhythm of how this pattern works then?

After several repeats of prescribed pattern I changed to one lace row and purled back as this was much easier to execute. Slip-slip-knit together is simple enough but when followed again on the return row, the stitches are lying in an awkward position.  I found the knitting and the lace to be greatly improved with a return purl row in between. I have noticed this to be true for most lace knitting.  

That makes good sense.  Did you change anything else?

With the hopes of using just one skein, I continued in this manor until I estimated I had sufficient yarn to bind off, making the shawl about 15 inches deep by 4 foot wide (which is much more petit than the pattern's example photo). 

Are you happy with it?
 

The look and feel of this shawl is beautifully soft and snuggly and the sampler style change in pattern is an interesting variation. I'm unsure about the color play with the lace... the color dispersement of the yarn and the rapid increases in this design prevent any large pooling of color. 

What would you do next with this yarn?

The yarn is soft and smooth and doesn't split, making it lovely to work with. I would like to knit with this yarn for child's sweater or socks as it has cozy softness and appeal, and I would look forward to a varied play with the handpainted color.

Thank you Deborah!  xxo, Anna Maria
 

Project Links:

Manos Del Uruguay

Craft South on Ravelry

 

 


 

Multi-Tasker 2.0

Pattern: Multi-Tasker Tote by Anna Maria Horner, adapted by Brittney

Materials: I 1/4 yard for our panel + patch pocket, 2 yards for Lining & Straps, 1/2 yard for extra inner dividers, plus other notions mentioned below

Traveling with a baby can be an adventure, but the Multi-Tasker Tote and a few simple additions makes juggling it all a multi-tasker's dream. 

Anna Maria's Multi-Tasker Tote is a staple in my days - it's truly the perfect bag for any task on your list. I have used it as a diaper bag, sewing bag, carry-on, beach bag, weekender, oversized purse, and everything in between. So it's no surprise the Multi-Tasker was the answer to my latest desire: a bag that could carry my camera and typical baby necessities, replace my purse, and make it all convenient for airplane travel. 

I started with the Multi-Tasker Tote pattern and hacked it to suit my needs, including:

  • A large patched pocket on one exterior, perfect for easy access to plane tickets, toys and a book.
  • An inset zipper pocket on the opposite exterior to safely store my wallet and other small items.
  • Enlarged inside pocket to hold my iPad mini, plus two smaller pockets on the opposite interior wall.
  • Slightly wider straps, padded with cotton batting for comfort.
  • Magnetic closure to hold it all together.

I cut out all the pattern pieces as directed and added the pockets and magnetic closures before assembling the bag. It's so simple to adapt the pocket sizes to whatever you need to carry. Make them as deep or wide as you want, add a snap or a zipper, sew dividers to hold pens, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Along with additions to the bag, I added a separate insert to keep my camera safe. I used 1/2" foam to make a box with divider, which holds my camera and accessories. The insert is removable, so if I don't want to pack my camera, I can simply take it out or use it in another bag or purse.

My new bag worked perfectly on my recent trip with baby Liam. The padded straps were very comfortable, even when the bag was loaded up with all our things. I like that I can wear it over one shoulder or strap it across my body for ultimate hands-free toting. The linen fabric on the exterior gives the bag nice structure and the lions are fun for Liam and me. It held everything you see above, and more, with ease. Nine pockets mean there's a place for everything and it all stays organized and within reach. People always want to know the secret to traveling with a baby. My answer? An organized bag! 

How will you adapt your next Multi-Tasker Tote? 

:) Brittney

Supply Links:

 

 

Introducing Allison of Shutters & Shuttles

Hi there!

My name is Allison of Shutters & Shuttles and I am a professional weaver based in Nashville, Tennessee.  I have been weaving for nearly 10 years, after being introduced to it through a college Intro to Fibers class at Tennessee Technological University. I was initially a Glass Blowing major, but jumped around a bit before finally landing in Fiber Arts. I bought my first loom in 2010 while I was living in Huntsville, AL with my husband. We needed a small rug in our rental house and it seemed more cost effective to buy a floor loom to weave one than it did to buy a ready-made rug!  I had to re-teach myself how to set the loom up and how to read weaving patterns, but I was able to remember enough to make our rug!  From there I continued to experiment with different fibers while making all sorts of things- kitchen towels, scarves, table runners, etc.  It was only natural to open an Etsy shop, selling the products I’d been weaving! 

Curosty cabin at Rockbrook Camp for Girls in Brevard, NC

My original home studio in Nashville

That summer, I returned to a summer camp where I had worked in college, but this time to teach weaving.  An opportunity to buy a second loom through the camp presented itself and I knew I had to have it.  The first loom I bought and learned on was a 4-harness floor loom which is a really great beginners. The new one was 8 harnesses which allowed me to weave more complex patterns.  I actually still have this loom and still love it! After coming back from camp with my second loom, I knew I was getting pretty serious about weaving. Around this time my husband and I were moving north to Nashville, so house hunting meant looking for a house with a dedicated room for my studio! 

 

Once settled in Nashville, I continued to weave and sell goods and began attending various local (and not so local) craft shows. Porter Flea is a favorite and happens twice a year - one of the best curated shows in Nashville.  I met so many talented people and began collaborating with local designers like Lauren Winter and Elizabeth Suzann. We develop fabrics for me to weave and for them to then sew into garments.  The fun in seeing their ideas come to life in my cloth led me to really focusing on weaving & selling fabrics to designers, rather than creating the finished goods myself. This meant getting a wide enough loom to accommodate basic garment-width fabrics (45-54”).  I decided on a Dobby Loom by AVL (based in CA). I can now weave up to 60” wide and use a fly shuttle! I just pull a cord and the shuttle shoots across to the other side! It also has 16-harnesses, so I can weave incredibly complex patterns! 

Having a loom that large made working out of our house a little impractical. Actually, the new loom wouldn’t even fit!  So if I wanted to expand my business, I knew it was time to start looking for a dedicated studio space.  I was lucky to have befriended designers Jamie and the Jones and Ona Rex through collaborations and they were all also interested in renting a workspace. We found a really great space just south of downtown that has a large open warehouse where we all can spread out.  We even have a huge garage door that can be opened up in nice weather! 

The new studio! 

My newest AVL 16-harness mechanical dobby loom

I am still completely smitten with my 16-harness loom and use it to make pretty much everything. I love weaving such wide fabric.  Still seems magical.  I also still weave on my smaller 8-harness loom and I continue to make rugs on occasion - though they are quite different than the first that I made!  I was taught to weave on a floor loom, so that is where I feel most comfortable.  But the floor loom is a complex process that you really have love it in order to invest the time and money required.  This isn't practical for most people interested in the art, so a great place to start would be a small frame loom (or I-loom). The concept is the same as a floor loom- the yarn alternates over and under, but on a much smaller scale.  The yarn is rather manipulated by hand, and not raised and lowered with pedals. I so enjoy weaving on a frame loom in my spare time because it’s lightweight and portable, relaxing, and relatively quick. Also, I'm not limited by patterns or numbers of harnesses so it is liberating and I can just go wherever my inspiration takes me. 

A handwoven wall hanging I made on a small frame loom

For those of you interested in learning the basics of weaving, I am teaching at Craft South later in the summer, so visit their contact page to sign up on the mailing list.  We’ll be working on a small frame loom and I’ll teach you how to warp the loom to prepare for weaving as well as some basic patterns and techniques to get you started. We’ll be making wall hangings in the class but that’s only the beginning. You’ll leave with the knowledge to continue weaving one of a kind pieces of fabric that can be sewn, hemmed, or pieced into pretty much anything your heart desires. 

Weaving your own fabric is truly magical and I sincerely hope I’ve inspired you to take the next steps and learn more about this wonderfully traditional craft! 

All the best, Allison

Website: www.shuttersandshuttles.com

Instagram: shuttersandshuttles

Twitter: shuttershuttles

Facebook: shuttersandshuttles

A recent in-depth interview:  Woven Magazine

The summer camp referenced above: Rockbrook Camp for Girls in Brevard, NC

Designer Collaborations: collaboration page on my website

Weaving how-to book recommendation: Learning to Weave by Deborah Chandler.

Weaving history & inspiration book recommendation: The Techniques and Art of Weaving by Marylne Brahic. 

 

Into the Wild Quilt

Pattern: Into the Wild, designed by Brittney, details below.

Materials: Cotton + Steel Diorama Stack

This free pattern is inspired by the big cats and bright prints in the "Diorama" Cotton + Steel bundle!  I set out to design a pattern as bold as the fabrics themselves - perfect for your next safari (or just a backyard adventure).

Fat quarter bundles are a quick way to get a diverse mix of fabrics, and this one was calling my name! I had a few general goals when designing this quilt:

  • Use as much of the fat quarters as possible, with minimal waste.
  • Use only the fat quarter bundle for the quilt top.
  • Make the quilt a decent size (as in usable)
  • Focus on a simple block, so  that beginners can play along and experts can take a fun break :)

I am happy to report my goals all have check-marks next to them! And here are the details to for you: 

  1. Cut four 9" squares from all fabrics except the two tiger prints (fabrics I & L in photo above.) We will be using the 9" squares to make half square triangles. Because fat quarters are 18" X 21", please be careful when cutting - you may find you need to cut very scant 9" squares or even 8 7/8". As long as all your squares are the same size, you will be okay.
  2. Cut four 8.5" squares from each of the two tiger prints (fabrics I & L in photo above-total of 8 squares). These will remain whole squares. If you found you needed to cut slightly smaller squares in Step 1, you may also need to cut slightly smaller squares here too. In Step 7 we will make sure everything is even.
  3. Now we will pair up the 9" fabric squares from Step1 to create half square triangles. Follow along with the letter-labels shown in the upper-left photo above. Each pair will yield 2 half square triangle blocks.
    1. 2 pairs of Fabrics A & C
    2. 2 pairs of Fabrics A &H
    3. 4 pairs of Fabrics B & G
    4. 2 pairs of Fabrics C & J
    5. 2 pairs of Fabrics D & K
    6. 2 pairs of Fabrics D & E
    7. 2 pairs of Fabrics E & H
    8. 2 pairs of Fabrics F & K
    9. 2 pairs of Fabrics F & J
  4. To make half square triangles, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the wrong side of one fabric in each pair. With right sides together, sew 1/4" away from middle line. Turn your square around and sew 1/4" on the opposite side of middle line. Repeat with all your fabric pairs. (If you are a visual learner, there are tons of great tutorials on YouTube.)
  5. Press to set the seams. Use a rotary cutter or scissors to carefully cut on your drawn middle line, creating two new blocks. Repeat with all your fabric pairs.
  6. Press the seam allowances toward the darker fabric, do this with all finished half square blocks.
  7. Square up your half square triangles and trim off all those dog ear corners. We are aiming for 8.5" squares here, but if they are slightly smaller, it's okay. Just make sure everything, including your tiger prints from Step 2, are all the same size and square.
  8. Time to sew them all together! Following the layout in the lower-left image above, sew your blocks one to the next using a 1/4" seam allowance and creating eight horizontal rows. Press seam allowances all in one direction on the first row, then opposite the following row, and continue alternating directions between rows.
  9. Sew your rows together using a 1/4" seam allowances to complete the quilt top. Press seams and revel in your victory.

Your finished top will measure approximately 48" X 64" - perfect for couch-snuggling or park-picnicking. The size of this quilt top also makes it easy to finish with a wide backing fabric. I chose a solid linen, which is 55" wide so there is no need for piecing! Two yards is plenty, and the linen will give it a nice weight.  Free Spirit Solid Voile is another great option at 55" wide, and would create a lighter quilt, perfect for summer or warmer climates. I used Pearl Cotton to finish the quilt with ties. I love the way the silver ties pick up on the sparkle in some of the fabrics and the binding.

I love that with just one fat quarter bundle and a few extra supplies, I was able to make a quick, fun, and gorgeous quilt. *Virtual high five* and now go get started on your own! 

:) Brittney

SUPPLY LINKS:

Charley Harper Playtime Tunic

Pattern: Oliver & S Playtime Dress, Tunic, and Leggings

Materials: Jumbrella Charley Harper for Birch Fabrics organic knit cotton

Spring always makes me want to sew for my girl Elsie. Now that she's almost 4, she is becoming much more picky about her wardrobe, but we both agreed she needed a comfy dress made from this adorable Charley Harper elephant print. 

I've made many of the Oliver & S patterns for my kids, and I'm sure I'll make many more. They are the most consistently wonderful children's patterns out there, and I'm never disappointed in the end result. I've even made this particular pattern for Elsie twice before, but never in a knit. 

I love how easy and casual the knit feels- truly suited for a fashionable "playtime." And the stretchy fabric allowed me to take a few shortcuts with the pattern. Normally, it has a three button closure on the back bodice, and the neckline is finished with facings. But I left the buttons off and added a thin, knit neckband so it would pop-over Elsie's head like a t-shirt. Adjusting the pattern pieces for this was really simple- I just cut the back bodice to be one piece identical to the front, but left the back neckline a bit higher than the front.  After sewing the shoulder seams together, I cut a neckband from a scrap of Anna Maria Knits to be 1.5" wide by 2" less than the length of the neck opening. If you've never done this kind of thing, here is a great tutorial.  

I imagine many more versions of this Playtime pattern. This one is a size 4 tunic length, but could be made into the longer dress length or cropped even shorter for wearing over shorts. It would be really cute with shorter sleeves too... or no sleeves at all!  Such an easy Spring staple!

Happy sewing! -Jessica

 

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Appleton Rose

Pattern: Fields Aflutter by Anna Maria Horner

Materials: Rapunzel Wool Palette, 1 half yard of Blush Linen, John James Embroidery Needles, 12" Embroidery Hoop

I've found that nothing comforts the lingering winter blues quite like a wooly needleworks project. And perhaps a rosy subject that promises Spring is really here.

This little project in progress, has developed over nights spent by the fire. I had hoped to work on a crewel wool project that showcases the versatility of this old school craft. Crewel work is traditionally known for it's beautiful fill stitches such as satin stitches, herringbone stitches, short and long stitches, etc (you can read more about these techniques in Anna Maria's Needleworks Notebook), but I was more interested in a design that would be a simple introduction to crewel, which is also a simple introduction to embroidery in general. So far, this piece is made up entirely of back stitches and straight stitches, two of the most used motions in embroidery projects.  So if you know some embroidery basics, but want to venture into the world of crewel work, switching from floss to wool is the perfect first step.

I used the cabbage rose design iron transfer from Anna Maria's Fields Aflutter embroidery pattern. These patterns are great because they can easily be traced or ironed directly onto a surface. And then you can easily save your clipped design and use it for future projects. And if you need a quick refresher course on embroidery stitches (I know I do sometimes!) the inside sleeves are printed with a brief embroidery visual dictionary.

But let's get to the number one reason why I wanted to start this project: Crewel Palettes! Working in the Craft South Studio, these pretty little color curations have been staring me down for weeks. And although a girl can dream of future days with a full palette of Appleton to call my own, these little 12 piece sets are an easy and inspirational way to pick up a few colors that can cover a variety of projects. I haven't used a full skein of any one of the colors for this design, so I'm looking forward to lots of rosy wool in my future, after this project is complete.

I'm excited to watch this project grow and change, and hoping that it may encourage the weather to change for good too!
xoxo - Anna Michelle

SUPPLY LINKS:
-Rapunzel Wool Palette
-1 Half Yard Linen in Blush
-12" Wooden Embroidery Hoop
-Fields Aflutter Embroidery Pattern
-John James Embroidery Needles


 

 

Liberty Spoolish Quilt

Pattern: Spoolish by Denyse Schmidt

Materials: Liberty Spools Kit with Liberty Tawna Classics, Free Spirit Solid in Raven, and Anna Maria's Penmanship in Milk. 

There's just something about Liberty of London fabric, isn't there? I used to think I was immune to its charms, but that was before I sewed with it. And making this striking Spoolish quilt made me fall in love with Liberty all over again.

We decided that the best way to pick up on the moody blues and Springy reds in this Liberty bundle was to pair it with a very dark background- in this case, Free Spirit's Raven solid. The almost black shows, too, how versatile this pattern is, giving it a completely different feel than the classic white background. I love those popping prints in the larger triangles against the darkness.

This was my first time using one of Denyse Schmidt's patterns, and it was a great experience. I made the baby size, but it also includes instructions for twin, queen, and king sizes. The way the pattern is presented in a pretty booklet made me feel like I was being lovingly walked through the steps with an old sewing buddy. I will admit to using my seam ripper more than once, just because there are triangular corners to fiddle with. But honestly, it was pretty painless once I figured out the first couple rows.  Seems the longer I've been sewing, the more I use my beloved seam ripper, not the other way around. Is it higher standards? Quicker draw with the ripper? More humility in the making? I don't know exactly, but I do love that simple little tool. 

I am happiest in quilt making when every little design decision pays off along the way. Each step in this quilt brought that feeling of satisfaction. I mean, could any other backing fabric have been more fantastic than the bold black bows of Anna Maria's Penmanship print? (No, the answer you're looking for is no.) Then for the quilting, I just went with Denyse's classic loopity-loop free motion design and it turned out to be a lovely complement to all the corners and angles of the quilt top. And matching the binding to the background and border was yet another trick we stole from Denyse, but it's perfect for letting the Liberty really shine. 

I think my favorite thing about making a quilt with Liberty prints is that if this quilt is still around in 100 years, it won't look at all dated. It will only look classic and beautiful. 

Happy sewing!  -Jessica

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Charley is in the Hood

Pattern: Baby in the Hood Jacket from Handmade Beginnings (Also available for bigger kids in the All Set Pattern Set)

Materials: Koala Koala by Charley Harper for Birch Fabrics Nurture Collection, Cracking Codes in Turtle, Anna Maria Knits

When I spotted the Charley Harper organic knits, I knew I had to make something for my little Liam.  With Spring on the brain, the Baby in the Hood Jacket is a perfect way to incorporate these cute koalas into his everyday wardrobe. 

The Baby in the Hood Jacket is one of the most satisfying projects in my opinion: it's a fairly quick sew, the instructions are very easy to follow, and the results are always so adorable. Between the book and the All Set Pattern Set, you can make jackets for everyone from baby to big kid. I've personally made them with just about every combination of fabric for every season - quilting cottons, voile, flannel, velveteen, and I've even seen people make it with laminated cotton for a rain jacket.

For this version, I decided the interlock knits are perfect for transitioning into spring. Growing up in Michigan, shopping for Spring jackets meant good times were right around the corner. The snow was melting, the flowers were blooming, and we could go outside to play without our noses falling off. Hope and positive thinking all wrapped up in a simple Spring jacket. Hopefully I made this one big enough for Liam to wear it through breezy Summer nights and even cooler Fall days! I love how washable and wrinkle-free this jacket will be, and the weight is just enough to keep out the wind but still super soft and comfy for a baby on the move.

The pattern worked well with the knits without any alterations. As always, pre-wash your fabric before sewing; the knits especially have a good bit of shrinkage, which you may want to consider when purchasing yardage. I used a ball point needle in my machine and slowed down my stitching. The knits can get a little bulky at some of the seams, so take your time. Anna Maria blogged about sewing with knits and there are tons of other tutorials and tips out there if this is your first foray into knits.

Now if we can just make the sky stop dropping white stuff and encourage the grass to start growing green again, we can all get out and play in our new spring jackets! 

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