Welcome to Part 2 of the Mini Charm Medallion 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 materials needed, cutting preparation and instructions are detailed.
Today, we are going to finish our cushion top (or mini quilt/table runner….whatever you fancy!) by adding the final borders.
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 seamsof 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.
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.
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.
And there we go – all finished!
I’ve made mine into a cushion with a hidden zip…….would you like me to pop back later in the week with a quick how-to for this? 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!
Today’s sky::: beautifully blue – it feels like summer might be on it’s way!
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!
Centre Star (Making HSTs)
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.
So, I started writing instructions for the Mini Charm Medallion tutorial, when it occurred to me: if you have been reading through the #QuiltingTheory series, and about to start your first project, you might be wondering where to start with fabrics and colours.
Today we’re going to look at how to identify the colours and style that you like, using a free app to ‘colour in’ a quilt plan and translating that into fabric.
How to Choose Colours for a Quilt
I remember back when I started quilting, one of the things I was most fascinated/apprehensive about was putting colours together…..it seemed like a magical art (and sometimes, still does!)!
There is lots of information available on Colour Theory – and I am far from an expert.
If you want to learn more about Colour Theory, I can highly recommend the Quilt Colour Workshop. It is a great book which talks you through the colour wheel, colour relationships and tonal relationships, as well as including some fabulous projects!
Having said all that, my top tip would be to go with what makes your heart sing! Try not to get too bogged down by the rules of what should and shouldn’t go together. Have a look on Pinterest/Instagram to see what quilts jump out at you and really look at them;
Do they have similar designs, use of colour, or fabric/colour combinations?
Once you’ve identified some common elements, try introducing some of these to your quilt. With each project, you will become more colour confident and soon will be throwing fabrics together with reckless abandonment!!!
For me, I love making projects that are high contrast (normally between background and ‘feature’ fabrics) using textured/tone on tone fabric and quite geometric designs.
To be honest, I didn’t really think I had a preference until I put together a collage of makes for a magazine – at which point I realised there were quite a few similarities!!! – so it’s quite a good exercise.
Choosing Fabrics and Colours
Pre-cuts/bundles are a great starting point if you are new to quilting as they provide a range of colours and patterns that play together nicely. To make a bigger project – such as the Mini Charm Medallion Tutorial – you can add coordinating background fabric.
If you are using a candy charm pack, it’s a good idea to lay out all the squares to get an idea of what colours you have – quite often there will be duplicate prints within the pack.
Planning a Quilt Colour Scheme
One of the tools I often use when planning a quilty project is Recolor – Coloring Book, available as a free download through the Apple iTunes store.
It allows you to upload your own images to colour in. It’s a great way of quickly trying out different colour combinations to see what works!
If you’ve not used it before, here is what you will need to do after downloading the app;
Click on ‘Imported’ / ‘Import your own picture’ / ‘Open Photos’
Chose the photo that you want to colour in
Click ‘Next’ / ‘Original’ style / ‘Next’
You can now open the Planner Sheet image and chose ‘continue colouring’.
In the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, you will see some little coloured dots – if you click on this, you can select the style of colours to use. Images tend to automatically open with ‘gradient’ whereas I prefer ‘solids’.
Chose the colour that you would like to use from the bottom menu (you can swipe across the bottom to choose different colours) and a little white dot will appear in the colour that you have chosen. Now, place a finger on the section of the picture where you would like that colour to go. And play until your heart’s content!
Colour Scheme Plans in Action
Having looked through the candy charm pack of fabrics, using the planner sheet(sign up to my Newsletter for a free copy) and having had a play with different colour layouts, I had decided on a rainbow center and outside, and a neutral second border (as there were conveniently 14 neutral squares in my pack!).
However, what looks good on the screen, sometimes still needs a little fine tuning when it comes to fabric! My initial pull just wasn’t quite right…
I was really happy with the light-dark (tonal) graduation that I had with the purple and blue. The orange and yellow didn’t work as well, for me: the orange was too dark and the yellow jarred against the green. So I tried a couple of other squares and was much happier with the final layout.
Join me for the next post when we will be starting the Mini Charm Medallion Cushion Tutorial – if you would like to take part, all you need is one candy charm pack (or 41 2.5″ squares) and one fat quarter for the background.
And if you would like to try out your colour schemes, please join my Newsletter and get sent a free copy of the Quilt Planner sheet.
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.
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.
So, if you’ve read through the #QuiltingTheory series so far, you hopefully now understand the quilting language, why seam allowance is important (and how to find it on your machine!), how to buy and use quilting fabrics and what tools you need. Hurrah! So, how do we put all this knowledge together to layer a quilt and make it into a quilted project?!
This post takes you through everything from the layers that make up a quilt, all about wadding and trouble-shooting problems you might experience when you first start quilting.
The Layers of a Quilt
Quilts generally consist of three layers: a pieced top, an insulating fabric, and backing fabric.
A two-layer quilt can be made using something like fleece/minky to replace the insulation and backing fabrics. I’ve made a few quilts like this now and they are a fun alternative, and make great kids quilts because they are so tactile!
Wadding(or batting, depending on whether you are British or American!) is most often used as the insulating layer. There are lots of options available with different sizes, material content and weight, all of which effect the thicknesses, stretch and firmness of the finished project.
Loft refers to the thickness/heaviness of the wadding – the more loft you have, the puffier the quilt and the trickier it can be to stitch. A higher loft often makes a warmer quilt and can show off stitch definition!
Types of Wadding
Generally, it is recommended to use a wadding made from natural materials (or is a blended material with a high % of natural fibres) for warmth, comfort and longevity.
Each quilter will have their own preferred wadding. Some may use a few different ones depending on the project eg. a firmer wadding for wall hangings and thicker for a warm blanket.
Wadding is available in lots of different fibre contents,
Polyester: available in a wide range of weights and amongst the cheapest waddings that you can buy. They are non-allergenic and wash well but being a man-made fibre are highly flammable and non-breathable. It has a tendency to be ‘puffy’ which makes it difficult to handle, particularly when machine quilting. I used it for my first few quilts but much prefer working with natural fibres.
Natural Fibres: natural fibres have the benefit of being breathable. With washing and age, the fibres will experience some shrinkage which gives a quilt its’ used and crinkled look.
Cotton: good for washing and easy to care for.
Wool: a great insulator that can help to regulate body heat. However, it is a material that needs to be looked after carefully: too much agitation or washing at high temperatures could result in a lot of shrinkage/felting of the fibres.
Bamboo: very soft and with anti-bacterial properties. Just like wool, it’s breathable helping to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Silk: very soft, lightweight, silky wadding that is perfect for a very special quilt or clothes. It is very luxurious so not generally used for everyday projects!
Blends: there are many different material blends that are available. My personal favourite is a Hobbs 80/20 Cotton/Poly blend. It has a lovely weight, stitches through beautifully as well as showing stitch definition.
Recycled/Green: with the current environmental concerns, there are now waddings available made from recycled materials such as plastic bottles – you can read my experience here of using it.
There are also a couple of ‘speciality’ products available;
Black Wadding: ideal for projects where only dark fabrics have been used.
Fusible Wadding: one side is coated with a glue which is heat activated when ironed. Very useful when you don’t want to do lots of quilting and for bag/pouch making as it helps give added structure.
Each of these waddings will have a recommended minimum quilting/stitching distance detailed on the packaging. If buying online, this will normally be in the description – although as a rule of thumb it is normally around 8″.
If you are unsure of which wadding to try, it is worthwhile popping along to a local quilt shop if you have one. Alternatively, many companies offer wadding sample packs – if you are in the UK, you can find these at the Cotton Patch.
Wadding can be bought in pre-cut ‘quilt’ sizes(for example, baby quilt), by the metre or by the roll.
When starting out, I would recommend buying a piece of wadding big enough for your project, plus a little bit extra.
However, if you start doing a lot of quilting, it is worthwhile buying a roll. It is quite an investment, and storing it can be interesting (mine sits on top of a unit!) but it is lovely being able to just cut off whatever you need – although it is a little disappointing when it finally runs out!
Putting the Quilt Layers Together
Assembling the three layers of a quilt is often called basting or making a quilt sandwich. There are some people that really enjoy this process, but I confess that I am not one of them!
The biggest problems with layering a quilt can be having the floor space to do so. In my current house, I have a tiled floor where I can make enough space for most quilts, it’s only on the odd occasion that I need to move furniture. It’s also handy as I can use the edge of the tiles as a guide for laying out the fabrics and waddings!
In a previous house, this was not the case though. After a bit of trial and error, I found the best way to baste a quilt on a carpet was to;
Smooth the quilt backing right side down directly on to the carpet and secure with T-pins pushed in at an angle (just as if I was blocking some knitting!).
Repeat this with the remaining batting and quilt top (right side up) layers. I often use normal pins at this stage, as they are a little finer so less likely to damage the material.
The main methods for securing the quilt layers together are;
Pin Basting: Pinning through all three layers using specialised curved pins to secure them together before stitching. Pins should be placed approximately 5″ apart. On a big quilt this can be quite a lengthy process and painful on the knees and the fingers!
Spray Basting: an aerosol spray glue, normally on to the wadding and then smoothing the fabric down. The fabric can be rearranged if it’s not in the right position the first time. Problems with this method can be the smell (it’s best to do in a ventilated room), the layers not sticking together properly and the flooring being quite tacky at the end of the process (and not that easy to clean!). I’ve also read that it is not recommended for projects that are not going to be washed as there is a risk that the glue could discolour the fabrics over time if not removed.
Thread Basting: hand-stitching the quilt layers together. If you are planning on hand-quilting a big quilt, this is a good method for securing the layers together for a long period of time without damaging the quilt. I have tried this method a few times and quite enjoy it, but it can hurt your fingers!
For an excellent tutorial on pin and spray basting, Suzy Quilts has a great post, which covers all the steps that I follow too!
For a Thread Basting tutorial, see the Quilting Hub for lots of detail.
Different Quilting Techniques
Once a quilt has been layered and basted, there is now the fun job of stitching the layers together. This subject is worthy of it’s own blog post, and is something that I am constantly trying to improve. Broadly though, this falls in to three categories
Machine: using a sewing machine to stitch patterns – this can be straight lines, echo and Free Motion Quilting.
Hand Stitching: using a thicker cotton or perle thread to add hand stitches, straight line or decorative.
Tied/knotted: a traditional way of finishing quilts. This is a great way of securing the layers together quickly as well as adding great texture. This is normally achieved with a double surgeons knot;
Trouble Shooting Common Problems when you Start Quilting
At some point on your journey, something will probably go wrong during the quilting stage.
I’ve had a few disasters in my time, the worst one was when I spent a whole day quilting a top only to then have to spend the next two days unpicking it!!! There were tears of frustration, I can tell you!
So, to try and help you from going through this, here are the mistakes I made when I first started quilting;
Not cutting the wadding and backing fabric big enough: always cut the wadding BIGGER than the quilt top c. 4″ in each direction (so that there is a 2″ overhang) and the quilt back BIGGER than the wadding by c. 4″ in each direction. This allows for the inevitable shifting that will happen whilst quilting.
Basting: the layers were smoothed out at different tensions meaning that they each bounce back differently when you remove the quilt from the floor (or wherever you basted it!). This can result in wrinkling between the layers, making it difficult to achieve a smooth finish. This is something that improves with practice and can also vary depending on which wadding is being used.
Fabric shifting: one of the most frustrating things is when the stitching is looking good on the top layer, and then you turn the quilt over only to realise that the back has lots of puckers in it. However, there are a few things you can do to try and minimise this;
Use a walking foot: a walking foot is a special attachment for the sewing machine which helps to feed the top and bottom layers through at the same time! The walking foot grips the fabric at the top at the same time as the feed dogs (the ‘teeth’ under the foot) grip the bottom of the quilt, helping to hold the layers together as the quilt is fed through.
Always start from the same side of the quilt eg. top and sew in the same direction. This means that if there is any fabric shifting, it is all going in the same direction, reducing the likelihood of puckering.
Start from the middle of the quilt and work to the outside edges. This means that if there is any fabric shifting it is all moving to the outside of the quilt, rather than bunching up towards the centre.
Wadding showing/bearding: wadding can start coming through where the needle has pierced the fabric.
Ensure that the wadding is suitable for your project. Inspect the wadding to see if there is a front or back and make sure that it is placed the right way in the quilt.
Ideally, use a new needle at start quilting a new project, especially for machine quilting. As the needle blunts, the likelihood of it dragging wadding fibres through the fabric increases.
And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun and experiment!
Phew! Another long post! I think that’s covered all the main things you need to know about layering up and making a quilt?! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the posts in this introduction to quilting series;