A Black (Copy) Cat Quilt

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Over the 4th of July, my family lost our black cat, Bosley. He might have been a stubborn, little cat, but we sure did love him. Awhile ago, with the help of Pinterest, I stumbled upon mermag.blogspot.com and this fantastic pattern for a black cat quilt. This fall, I decided to make it for my mother’s birthday. I figured that a quilt would help keep her warm this winter since Bosley would not be by her side. The final result was fantastic, and thanks to Merrilee’s pattern, it was quick and easy to make!

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The black cat blocks require 6 pieces.

(Top) Large white rectangle = 9 x 3 inches, 84 pieces
(Left) Medium white rectangle = 3 x 5.25 inches, 84 pieces
(Middle) Black square = 4 x 4 inches, 42 pieces
(Right) Small white rectangle = 2 x 4 inches, 42 pieces
(Bottom) White triangle = 2 x 2 inches, 84 pieces
(Bottom) Black triangle = 2 x 2 inches, 84 pieces

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Mermag’s blog post has a wonderful step-by-step visual guide for sewing the blocks together. You start with the ears and work to create the sweet little face.

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I made 42 blocks in total, and sewed them together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. The quilt was 6 blocks wide and 7 blocks tall.

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I did run out of the white fabric mid-way through. I was using scrap fabric that was this cool, stiff, linen texture, and I struggled to find a matching fabric at the store. So I bought the closest match I could find, and I purposefully spaced the blocks that used the new fabric so the change looked intentional. I think the difference is quite noticeable in the picture below, but with the finished quilt, you really only notice the change if I pointed it out.

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I wanted to keep the quite light and bright, so I selected a simple pattern for the back piece, and I binded the quilt with a  yellow cotton fabric (my mom’s favorite color).

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Excuse the wrinkles. The quilt got a little squished when I wrapped it up. But wrinkles aside, I love, love, love this pattern, and I was so happy to give this to my mother for her birthday.

Modern Plus Pattern Baby Quilt

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Dear reader, I specifically told you in my last blog post to remind me not to start a new quilt. You dropped the ball. I recently made a baby quilt. Okay, okay, so this has more to do with my lack of self control than your accountability. My little niece was born in January, and I had been itching to meet her, so to help temper my longing heart, I started cutting out squares of fabric.

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Ninety squares to be exact. For baby quilts, I base the dimensions on a standard yard of fabric – 36 x 44 inches. So I cut 5-inch squares out of two different fabrics: a navy solid and a light blue print. (Totals = 39 navy squares and 51 light blue squares)

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This quilt is a great pattern for beginners because you’re working with squares and straight lines.

After cutting the 5-inch squares, arrange the pattern on a flat surface (in my case, it’s the floor). Begin sewing the squares together a row at a time (always right sides together). I used a 0.5-inch seam allowance with the basic walking foot on my sewing machine. Then sew each row together. Stop periodically to iron the seams, and after sewing on the last row, iron the entire piece.

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It is important to take the time to iron the seams. For this quilt I used the quilting technique called “stitch-the-ditch” (I explain further down), and you need your seams to lay flat for this technique to work. Before moving on to the next step, also take the time to cut off the loose thread from the seams.

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Now that you have created the front piece of your quilt, the next step is to layer the three pieces together and start quilting. I found an adorable floral print for the back piece. It’s a standard yard (36 x 44 inches).

First, take the piece of batting and lay it on a flat surface (again, I use the floor). (I bought a crib-sized piece of polyester batting.) Take the front piece and lay it on a flat surface, with the wrong side facing up. Spray with temporary spray adhesive and let stand for a minute or two (this step is best to do outside). And then lay the front piece on top of the batting, smoothly the fabric as you lay it down. (It’s helpful to have a friend hold up one end as you smooth.) Flip the batting over and do the same with the back piece of fabric. (The back piece is a larger piece of fabric, but still make sure it lines up with the front piece. Once complete, I pin safety pins around the quilt as a precaution to keep the fabric in place.

The next step is quilting! Using the “stitch-the-ditch” quilting technique, you sew along the existing seam, creating a quilting pattern that matched the front piece. For this quilt, I sewed along the outline of each plus sign.

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Once complete, cut off all loose thread as well as any excess fabric that extends beyond the length and width of the front piece.

The final step is calling binding, the creation of the quilt’s edge. Since I had a lot of blue in a quilt made for a girl, I went with a pink binding. (I think it’s important to pick a color or fabric that helps connect the pattern and colors of the front and back pieces.) First, cut out several 2.5-inch strips, and sew them together so the fabric measure the lengths + the widths of the quilt. (I can’t remember the exact dimensions.) Iron down 0.5 inch on one side, and then pin the strip of fabric to the front side of the quilt (remember, always rights sides together).

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When you get to a corner, keep the fabric aligned with the edge, folding at the corner so the fabric overlaps (hopefully the picture can help explain). With the fabric in place, sew along the quilt’s edge with a 0.5-inch seam allowance. As you approach, stop sewing about 0.5 inch from the corner. Remove the needle from the quilt, and turn the quilt 90 degrees. Because of how you folded the fabric strip, you’ll have a excess triangle of fabric. When you put your needle back into the fabric, make sure that excess triangle is out of the way.

This process is hard to explain, but trust me, there are a ton of YouTube videos out there that are very helpful (especially for those who are visual learners like me).

With the one edge of the binding in place, I fold the fabric over the edge and whip-stitch the other side in place. (It’s a long process, but I find it easier that machine binding the whole thing!)

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Before I finished the binding, I took a moment to embroider my niece’s name. These personal touches make all the difference!

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I love the modern twist to the classic gift of a baby quilt. (And I’m a huge of the navy, blue and pink combination.) I did finally get the chance to meet my little niece, and she looks crazy cute wrapped up in this!

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Piecing Together a Dresden Plate Quilt

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It was about this time last year that I took this picture. It was in the midst of Birmingham’s Snowpocalypse 2014, and with the office closed and roads a mess, I had nothing better to do than start a quilt. Now – more than a year later – I found the motivation to pick up where I left off with the hopes of finishing my first full-size quilt before the end of March.

The pattern is called the Dresden plate. (I also heard it be called the flower or floral plate.) The idea has been floating around in my head ever since I finished my last quilt (as my Pinterest board can attest.) Finally, I bit the bullet (a year ago) and purchased the template blocks and got started.

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Piecing this pattern is a two step process that involves a lot of ironing. Step one: cut out the pieces. I used the template, a rotary cutter and mat to cut out each piece. I then took the top of each piece (where the fabric comes to a point), folded over a 1/4 inch seam allowance and pressed the seams. Step two: sew pieces together in sections. Instead of sewing the ring together piece by piece, it is much easier to work in sections: sewing pieces into pairs – stop and iron – then pairs to quarters – stop and iron – quarters to halves – stop and iron – and finally 2 halves into 1 whole circle.

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With a plate completed, the next step is to applique it to a block of fabric. For my quilt, I cut each block to measure 15 x 15 inches.

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Now some tutorials will show you how to hand-applique the plate in place, but I decided to cheat and use heat n’ bond iron-on adhesive. I cut a piece of adhesive to be smaller than the plate, leaving the outer points untouched. (A downside of using iron-on adhesive is that it will make the fabric stiffer, but I find it so helpful in keeping the fabric in place.)

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After ironing the piece of adhesive to the plate, I peeled off the back side, placed the plate in the center of the block and ironed it in place.

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Next, I cut the center circle. Instead of pressing the seams, I decided to use the heat n’ bond to avoid frayed edges. (This may back fire on my one day, but for now, it makes this step super easy.) I simply ironed the circle in place.

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Finally, I hand stitched the outer edge and center circle to help secure everything in place. (Plus, I think the stitching enhances the overall look.)

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For my quilt, I need 35 of these blocks, and I have made 10 so far. So I have quite the feat in front of me. In the meantime, feel free to visit my Patchwork Pinterest board. (And remind me I cannot start a new quilt until I finish this one!)

Quilting with Moroccan Fabric

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Having traveled to the cold land of the hot sun –  aka Moracco – twice now, I have found myself with several meters of fabric that are calling to be used. On my second trip to North Africa, I purposely bought a meter of a different color of the same fabric with the idea of making a quilt. With such beautiful fabric, I wanted to keep the quilt simple, so I mapped out a basic square pattern – one that could easily be used to make a t-shirt quilt.

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You can see the dimensions I worked with in the picture above. The squares were 11.5 x 11.5 inches, and I used a 0.5 inch seam allowance.

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Since I was working with woven fabric, I prevented frayed edges by using the basic zigzag stitch to act like an overlocking stitch. It  was a tedious process, but completely necessary. Fabric can still fray even after you stitch the pieces together.

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Once I finished the edges, it was a quick process to sew all of the individual squares into the rows and then the rows into a quilt. Again, I used a 0.5 inch seam allowance throughout.

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With the middle squares in place, I used a off-white canvas fabric to act as a margin of color – another simple touch to highlight the beauty of the fabric. The strips were 7 inches wide. I used the canvas fabric to match the thickness of the Morroccan fabric, but for the back fabric and binding, I used cotton. To see how I bind quilts, you can visit my previous post on the matter.

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I couldn’t be more happy with the finished product. It achieved the goal that I wanted – something that could show off the beautiful, hand-woven fabric as well as encapsulate my memories of purchasing the fabric on my travels. You just can’t find fabric like this here in America – well, as least not for the price that I paid for them.

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I found the fabric for the back side of the quilt at Handcock Fabrics, and it worked perfectly.  For the back side, I think the fabric needs to be simple enough to not trump the front, but interesting enough to add to the overall look of the quilt. This fabric did just that.

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This pattern is easy and simple to recreate since pieces are large, and you work with straight lines. Please feel free to ask any questions you have; I would love to help you as you work to create a quilt for yourself.

A World View

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Another quilt, another day. My mother purchased this fabric for me months ago, asking me to make a quilt for her. At the time, we just had heard the news of our my coming nephew, and I was all into quilt making! Little did I know it would take me forever to finish it (mainly because my crafting leave-of-absence over the summer.)

I started with the fabric. The map piece was a yard, so I purchased a coordinating yard of fabric for the back. Basting it together with a layer of batting, I purchased a ton of black embroidery floss for the next step: quilting.

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I traced each contient. Europe would have killed me if I traced each country. And I will tell you this, the process takes a long time (as hand-sewing does), but I think it is totally worth it.

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I did not hide the knots on the back, My initial thought was the quilt would be cute hung on the wall, so hiding the knots wouldn’t matter. By now I wish I took the extra time and did it anyways.

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Once I finished quilting, I cut down the border to prepare for the binding. I only wanted an 1/2 inch edge.

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For the binding, I cut 2-inch wide strips. See how I finish quilts here.

Oh Baby (Quilt)

The day after my brother and sister-in-law announced they were expecting, I found myself in a fabric store freaking out over all the adorable baby patterns. I saw this fabric and knew I had to do something with it. Let’s face it, a baby opens up a whole new genre of crafts that can be made, and I am so ready to embrace it.

Naturally, the first thing that came to my mind was a quilt. So I bought a yard of this fabric, a yard of this amazing plaid fabric (that matched perfectly, I might add), and 4 inches of an orange polka dot fabric (that matched the monkey) for the binding.

To assemble the quilt, I decided to not cut up the fabric but keep the pieces whole. This made it super easy and super fast to make. I used the adhesive spray to stick the fabrics to the batting, and then I simply quilted boxes using the plaid side as my guide.

Finally, I attached the binding (see instructions on earlier posts). I was able to make the quilt in less than a day, and it might be the most adorable thing I have ever made.

I can’t wait for the newest member of this family to get here, but in the mean time, I’m sure there are many crafts I can make until then.

Finishing my Quilt

Wahoo! After 2 weeks of cutting and sewing, my quilt is finally finished!Finishing the quilt was a lot more simple than I first thought it would be. Once quilted, I simply cut off the access fabric around the edges and purchased a 5/8 yard cut of fabric for the binding.

With the fabric I bought, I initially cut 6 strips (for my 60×60 inch square quilt) 3 inches wide. But then I realized I didn’t want the binding to be that thick, so I recut them into 2.5 inch wide strips.

Once cut, I sewed the 6 strips together. Then taking my quilt and putting the right sides together, I sewed the strip to the edges of the quilt (using a 1/2 inch sewing allowance).

For the corners, I found this awesome blog that explains a super easy way to sew them down. (see here)

Next, with the edges sewn in place, flip the fabric over to the back side of the quilt. Use an iron to press the back edge in place (flipping the seam under to create a smooth edge). Then thread a needle and whip stitch the binding in place.

Knot off the thread, and you’re done!