Tutorial – Piecing a diagonal quilt back

Have you ever come across the technique of piecing a quilt back diagonally? It’s some cutting magic that means you can use less fabric to make a quilt back by effectively ‘stretching’ it width-ways. Magic, I tell you!

It’s a really efficient way of using fabric (bye-bye buying twice the finished quilt length in backing fabric or spending lots of time piecing a backing together!), especially for those throw sized quilts that measure just slightly bigger than a width of fabric, say 48″-60″ wide.

Picture Tutorial for piecing a quilt back diagonally, a great way of stretching fabric further!

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I first came across this technique about a year ago when I was making the Wedding Quilt – I had some fabric which was Just Perfect for the backing, but not enough yardage to make the size I needed.

From what I can find, the idea of piecing a quilt back diagonally was created by John and Joan Flynn and works best with quilts that are no more than 1.5x the width of the backing fabric.

There is some maths needed to work out what yardage you will need. However, the quilt sizes that I have most often used this for (based on a backing fabric measuring 44″ wide) are;

  • 50″ x 65″ quilt = 75″ (2.1yds) backing fabric
  • 55″ x 70″ quilt = 93″ (2.6yds) backing fabric
  • 60″ x 75″ quilt = 118″ (3.3yds) backing fabric

If you are using extra wide fabric or making a different sized quilt, you can find a calculator here which does all the hard work for you!

For this quilt, I was looking for a backing that measured 52″ x 72″ and used a piece of fabric measuring 85″ (remember, that you want the backing to be bigger than the quilt to allow for basting and quilting).

Picture Tutorial for piecing a quilt back diagonally, a great way of stretching fabric further!

Fold the fabric in half diagonally. This is a little fiddly – I would recommend taking your time and trying not to do it when there are kids running around as you definitely need a flat surface!

Cut along the diagonal line, to give two triangular pieces of fabric. You can do this with scissors, but my preferred method is to use a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat. Place the ruler on the fabric, leaving the fold showing and trim off a slither (about 1/8″) to cut the pieces.

Picture Tutorial for piecing a quilt back diagonally, a great way of stretching fabric further!

If you have a slippy floor (I was working on my tiled kitchen floor!), you can slide the mat along the floor under the fabric easily without ruching the fabric. It’s a lot quicker and more accurate than using scissors.

Fold the top fabric back, and then slide the thinnest point of one half away from the other (this makes the fabric wider and shorter).

Picture Tutorial for piecing a quilt back diagonally, a great way of stretching fabric further!
Picture Tutorial for piecing a quilt back diagonally, a great way of stretching fabric further!

Measure to double-check that the fabric is now measuring what you need (remembering to take into account the fabric that you will lose in the seam allowance).

Picture Tutorial for piecing a quilt back diagonally, a great way of stretching fabric further!

At one end, pinch the fabrics RST and pin – I generally just use one to keep the fabric in the right position before sewing.

Picture Tutorial for piecing a quilt back diagonally, a great way of stretching fabric further!

Using a walking foot and at least a 3/8″ seam allowance, sew along the seam. TIP – because the fabric is cut on the bias, be careful NOT to stretch the fabric as you’re sewing (a walking foot helps with this).

Picture Tutorial for piecing a quilt back diagonally, a great way of stretching fabric further!

Press the seam open.

Picture Tutorial for piecing a quilt back diagonally, a great way of stretching fabric further!

Square off each of the pointy ends – I like to use the grouting lines in my tiled floor as a groove for my scissors to sit in to achieve a straight (ish) line! It doesn’t need to be accurate at this point, I just don’t want the pointy ends getting in the way when I’m quilting!!!

Picture Tutorial for piecing a quilt back diagonally, a great way of stretching fabric further!

And Ta-Dah! You’re finished and ready to make a quilt sandwich! And the seam is virtually invisible, especially if using a patterned fabric.

I’ve found it to be a great way of stretching yardage, it saves piecing a quilt back and is quick too! I hope you’ve found this useful – do let me know if you have any questions,

Speak soon,

S x

Today’s sky::: overcast and grey. Boo!

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Tutorial – Hidden Zippered Cushion Cover

Hellooo! Making cushion covers (or pillow covers, if you’d rather!) is one of my favourite things to do! They make a great gift and, if you’re a quilter, are a perfect way to use oversized or random blocks you have laying around!

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

NOTE: This post may contain affiliate links and you can read my full disclosure privacy policy here. Thank you.

My favourite way to do this is by adding a hidden zip – sometimes called a lapped zip. It gives a really neat finish and allows you to finish the cushion in a number of different ways.

Today, I’m going to show you how to sew a hidden zippered cushion cover in just four easy steps.

Materials Needed

  • Pillow
  • Fabric for front (same measurement as the pillow)
  • Fabric for back (same width as pillow x (height + 4″))
  • 1 x zip a couple of inches bigger than your cushion

I’m using the Mini Charm Medallion Tutorial cushion cover, so I’ve got;

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

Prepare Fabrics for Zippered Back

Decide on where you would like to position the zip on the back of the cushion – I like to go about a third of the way up, but you can go for whatever you prefer!

Cut the back piece of fabric into two pieces measuring;

  • Bottom Back: One (1) 16.5″ wide x 6″ tall
  • Top Back: One (1) 16.5″ wide x 14″ tall

To give a neat finish inside the cushion where the zip is placed, I like to serge the edges of the top hem of the bottom piece, and bottom hem of the top piece. Alternatively, you can use a zig-zag stitch if you don’t have an over-locker, or leave unfinished if the fabric doesn’t fray too badly.

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

Take the Top Back, place Right Side Down and fold the bottom edge up by 1.5″. Press. Unfold.

Sew the Zip

Draw a line an inch or so in from one end on the outside edges of the zipper tape. This mark allows us to attach the zip so that it is level on both pieces of fabric.

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

NOTE – if you’re using a continuous zipper tape like me, I’ve found using a safety pin stops me from accidentally pulling the zipper pull off!

Place the Top Back cushion fabric wrong side down on a flat surface. Take the zip and place it upside down on the fabric (with the right side of zip facing the right side of the fabric). Match the pencil marks with the side edge, and align the edge of the zip with the bottom edge of the fabric.

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

Pin in place and, using a zipper foot, stitch approximately a 1/4″ in from the fabric/zip edge.

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

Before you reach the zipper pull, stop stitching. Making sure that the needle is down, lift the presser foot and gently pull the zipper pull up/down out of the way so that you can continue stitching easily to the end of the seam.

TIP: if you are nervous about moving the zipper pull, an over-sized zipper helps with this! See my post 6 Tips for Sewing Zips Easily and quickly for more tips

Take the Top Back fabric, placing the zipper right side up and fold the fabric back out of the way (no need to iron!). Take the Bottom Back fabric and place it right side down on the remaining side of the zip, matching the side edge with the pencil mark on the zip. Pin and stitch as before.

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

By stitching the zip in from the same end on each side, it means that any fabric creep is going in the same direction!

Press the Bottom back fabric away from the zip. Making sure that the Top Back fabric is not in the way, top-stitch just inside the fabric edge using a zipper foot.

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

Using the pressed line on the Top Back piece as a guide, bring the fabric down so that the fold covers the zip. Pin in place a few times along the length of the zip.

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

Starting at one edge of the cushion, and using the overhanging zip as a guide, align the zipper foot with the teeth of the zip and top-stitch (you should find that the foot easily follows the line of the zip).

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

Finish the Zipped Cushion Back

Although optional, I like to stitch the fold in position along the edges to stabilise the back of the cushion and to reduce any potential zip issues!

Move the zipper pull back from the edge of the cushion cover. Starting from the Top Back, smooth the fold down and pin in place, before stitching just inside the seam allowance eg. 1/8″. It helps to start above the fold and sew down towards the bottom of the cushion back as this stops any puckering.

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

Trim any zipper tape that is overhanging the cushion back from each edge, once the fold is secured.

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

Trim the cushion back to the correct height – if using a patterned fabric, this gives the chance to play with pattern placement!

Join the Cushion Front and Covered Zip Back

Remember, if you are using a directional print to make sure that the hidden zip flap is placed correctly

How to Finish a cushion with binding

Place the front and back fabrics Wrong Sides Together. Pin through both layers at each corner, before adding a couple of pins along each edge.

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

Stitch all around the edge of the cushion cover, just inside the seam allowance that you will be using for the binding eg. 1/8″ if you will be using a 1/4″ binding.

Add binding to finish, as you would for a quilt, attaching binding to the front of the cushion and folding over to the back.

How to Finish a Standard Cushion (no edging)

To make a normal cushion – one without any fancy edging! – pull the zip towards the middle of the zipper tape, so that you will be able to turn it inside out when finished.

Tutorial for an easy sew hidden zipper cushion cover in four steps

Place the front and back cushions Right Sides together. Pin through both layers at each corner, before adding a couple of pins along each edge.

Sew all around the edge of the cushion – if you have a quilted panel, you will probably need to use a 1/4″ seam allowance. If you would like to finish the inside edges, you can go around each of the sides with a zig-zag/serger to stop any fraying. Turn inside out before placing a cushion pad inside.

I hope you’ve found this useful! Let me know if you have any questions.

S x

Today’s sky::: overcast, grey and rain. Meh!

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Tutorial – Mini Charm Medallion Cushion, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Mini Charm Medallion Patchwork Cushion Tutorial! It’s a fun little project that doesn’t need much fabric – just one mini charm pack and one Fat Quarter (or you could raid your scrap bin!) and uses a lot of the basic quilting skills that were covered in #QuiltingTheory.

You can find Part 1 here where the materials, cutting preparation and instructions are detailed.

Mini Charm Medallion Patchwork Cushion tutorial

Today, we are going to finish our cushion top (or mini quilt/table runner….whatever you fancy!) by adding the final borders.

Border 3

  • Take 2 (two) 2″ x 6.5″ strips. Place Right Sides together on opposite sides of the Centre Star, and sew. Press border pieces away from centre block.
Mini Charm Medallion Cushion Part 2, attaching the borders
  • Take 2 (two) remaining 2″ x 6.5″ strips and 4 (four) 2″ squares.
  • Place a square either end of each strip, and sew Right Sides Together. Press.
  • Place strips on the remaining side edges of the star and sew. To help with accuracy, nest the seams of the corner blocks, pressing them towards the strip.

Finished size: 14″ including seam allowance.

Border 4 – HSTs and 4-patch cornerstone

  • Pair 18 (eighteen) mini charm squares Right Sides Together with background squares and make HSTs using the same method as for the Centre Star.
Mini Charm Medallion Cushion Part 2, chain piecing HSTs
  • Sew 2 (two) HST strips to opposite sides of the mini-charm medallion top.
  • Arrange and sew together into 4 (four) strips of 9 (nine) HSTs – I like to chain-piece mine together in rows, as pictured above for speed and also so that I don’t lose my arrangement!

TIPS FOR SEWING HST BORDER: press the seams open to reduce bulk. Sew with the wrong side of the HSTs facing up – this helps to ensure that all the seams are open as you sew, as well as ensuring that your stitching line matches the bottom points of the triangles.

  • Take the 2 (two) remaining mini charm squares and background squares Measure and draw a line 1.25″ from one edge of either the mini charm or background squares (depending on which one will show the line better!)
  • Pair a mini charm and background square Right Sides Together. Sew 1/4″ either side of the pencil line on both squares (A).
  • Cut each pair in two by cutting along the pencil line, for a total of 4 (four) units. Finger press open. Draw a line 1.25″ from one edge at a right angle to the join to form squares and again sew 1/4″ either side of this line (B).
  • Cut each unit in half again along the pencil line to provide 4 (four) 4-patch units to go in each corner.
Mini Charm Medallion Cushion Part 2, joining the HST border
  • Place a 4-patch unit at each end of the two remaining HST strips and sew, before joining to the remaining sides. Press.

Finished size: 17″ including seam allowance.

Mini Charm Medallion Patchwork Cushion tutorial

And there we go – all finished!

I made mine into a cushion with a hidden zip……you can find a tutorial here. It’s one of my favourite, quick ways of achieving a lovely looking zip with minimum effort!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial – do let me know if you have any questions. And don’t forget to use #minicharmmedallion if you do make one!

S x

Today’s sky::: beautifully blue – it feels like summer might be on it’s way!

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Mini Charm Medallion Patchwork Cushion tutorial

Tutorial – Mini Charm Medallion Cushion, Part 1

Hello! So today we are starting the Mini Charm Medallion Cushion Tutorial. Have a read through the instructions first, and if you want some tips on choosing a colour scheme, do check out this post.

Tutorial for Medallion quilted cushion with tips for accurate piecing by fabricandflowers

It’s a fun little project that doesn’t need much fabric – just one mini charm pack and a Fat Quarter, or you could raid your scrap bin to make it!

It also uses a lot of the basic quilting skills that were covered during the #QuiltingTheory series, so is a great way of trying out patchwork if you are new to it.

NOTE: This post may contain affiliate links and you can read my full disclosure privacy policy here. Thank you.

Fabric Needed

  • 1 (one) mini charm pack or 41 (forty-one) 2.5″ squares
  • 1 (one) Fat Quarter of background fabric

Finished Cushion Top Size – 16.5″ square

Recommended Tools

You can read more about these on my Essential Tools post!

Cutting

Press fabrics before cutting (excluding pre-cuts!).

Using the planner sheet as a guide, for border 2 cut 13 (thirteen) mini charms in half to create 26 (twenty-six) rectangles (so 1.25″ from the edge).

TIP FOR CUTTING PRE-CUTS: generally, pre-cuts measure between the inner cuts of the pinked edges. Therefore, for accurate cutting, line up the cutting guides on your acrylic rules with the inner points of the pinked cuts.

For the background, you will need;

  • 24 (twenty-four) 2.5″ squares
  • 4 (four) 2″ high x 6.5″ wide strips
  • 4 (four) 2″ high x 11″ wide strips
  • 12 (twelve) 2″ squares
  • Use this diagram for the most efficient cutting of a Fat Quarter!
Tutorial for Medallion quilted cushion with tips for accurate piecing by fabricandflowers

Centre Star (Making HSTs)

Tutorial for Medallion quilted cushion with tips for accurate piecing by fabricandflowers

When working with small pieces such as these, the key to accurate piecing is careful cutting and seam allowances. Over such small pieces, a slight inaccuracy can make a big difference over the whole border.

For this cushion, I have used a scant 1/4″ seam allowance when sewing the HSTs together (read this post for how to work it out on your machine if you are not sure).

To make the Half Square Triangles (HSTs);

  • Pair 4 (four) mini charm squares Right Sides Together.
  • Pair 4 (four) mini charm squares Right Sides Together with 2.5″ background squares.
  • Using a pencil, draw a diagonal line on the Wrong Side of the top square (you can use a pin to hold the squares together).
  • With a Scant 1/4″ seam allowance, sew either side of this line on each pair of squares.
  • Cut along the pencil line to create two HSTs, for a total of 16 (sixteen).
  • Press the seams open (this will help to reduce bulk in the seams).
  • Trim the HSTs to 2″ squares – a rotating cutting mat can really help with this task!
Tutorial for Medallion quilted cushion with tips for accurate piecing by fabricandflowers
  • Arrange the trimmed pieces to form a star and sew together in to rows.
  • Press the seams open before sewing the rows together.
    • Use pins to keep the matched seams together whilst sewing
    • By pressing the seams open, you are able to see where the diagonal seams join, which acts as a guide for the sewing line.

Finished size: 6.5″ including seam allowance.

Border One

Tutorial for Medallion quilted cushion with tips for accurate piecing by fabricandflowers
  • Take 2 (two) 2″ x 6.5″ strips. Place Right Sides together on opposite sides of the Centre Star, and sew. Press border pieces away from centre block.
  • Take 2 (two) remaining 2″ x 6.5″ strips and 4 (four) 2″ squares.
  • Place a square either end of each strip, and sew Right Sides Together. Press.
  • Place strips on the remaining side edges of the star and sew. To help with accuracy, nest the seams.
Tutorial for Medallion quilted cushion with tips for accurate piecing by fabricandflowers

Finished size: 9.5″ including seam allowance.

Border Two – Mini Squares

  • Sew the rectangles together Right Sides Together in to;
    • 1 (one) strip of 12 (twelve) pieces
    • 1 (one) strip of 14 (fourteen) pieces
  • Press the seams open.
  • Cut each strip in half to give a total of 4 (four) strips.
  • Attached the strips to the block and press;
Tutorial for Medallion quilted cushion with tips for accurate piecing by fabricandflowers

Finished size: 11″ including seam allowance.

Tutorial for Medallion quilted cushion with tips for accurate piecing by fabricandflowers

Join me in the next post when we’ll add Borders Three and Four to complete our cushion top!

S x

Today’s sky::: largely overcast and cloudy, but the sun is trying to peek through!!!

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Mini Charm Medallion Patchwork Cushion tutorial

Tutorial – Mini Charm Medallion Introduction

Hello! Today, we’re moving to the final section of the #QuiltingTheory series, a tutorial for a fun project, ideal for beginners or experienced quilters alike – the Mini Charm Medallion.

Mini Charm Medallion Cushion Tutorial by fabricandflowers

My career – Before Children – was market research. So as you can maybe imagine, I like to do lots of reading and understand the details!!! #QuiltingTheory is all the information that I wish I could have found when I first started quilting, in one place.

The Mini Charm Medallion tutorial doesn’t need much fabric, making it an ideal starter project. It also gives the opportunity to try quilting skills such as a 1/4″ seam allowance, marking fabric for cutting/sewing and different piecing techniques that were detailed in the Technique section of the Understanding Quilting Lingo.

Alternatively, if you’ve been quilting a while, it’s a great way of using up some of the scraps that you might have accumulated!

Here are two samples that I’ve made – it can look so different depending on which fabrics you choose, especially for the background!

Materials needed

  • 1 (one) candy charm pack or 41 (forty one) 2.5″ squares
  • 1 (one) Fat Quarter of background fabric

To make it into a cushion or min quilt you will also need;

  • 1 (one) Fat Quarter of backing fabric
  • 2 (two) 2.5″ x Width of Fabric for binding (equivalent of 75″)

Alternatively, if you already have a stash of fabrics to hand, you can use that for the mini medallion, making it a perfect stash buster!!!

Getting started

I’ve been plotting and planning with a candy charm pack of Zen Chic Moda and linen for the background.

Aren’t they gorgeously bright and colourful?! I’m also thinking there might be lots of quilting opportunity in the background!

During the tutorial, we will cover how to sew Half Square Triangles (HSTs), tiny squares and practise a scant 1/4″ seam allowance, before looking at how to finish it up.

Each of the steps are detailed over a few posts so that it can be done at your own pace;

I hope you’ll be joining in with me – if you do, then please use the tag #minicharmmedallion.

If you sign up to my Newsletter you will receive a free download of the planner sheet so that you can make a start on planning colour placement before we make a start on the centre motif.

And if there’s anything, in particular, you would like me to cover then please do let me know!

See you soon,

S x

Today’s sky::: overcast but some blue skies peeking through!

If you would like monthly news and updates, please sign-up to my newsletter.
To check out my quilt and accessories patterns, visit my Pattern shop.

For my favourite sewing equipment and tools, visit my Amazon store.