Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Quilters unite

For this project you really don't have to know how to quilt. If you know how to sew, just a little bit, it will be easy and fun. It is a "quilt as you go" process. Now that I think about it, you don't even need to know how to sew! Keep reading.

The goal is for each person to complete as many squares (or steps) as they want to, then send them to me to sew together into the finished quilt. (If any group member is just dying to compile and complete the quilt, I won't fight you for the job.) :) The person that completes the quilt will be responsible for sending it into the Warm Up America Foundation or to the organization we decide to donate to. (We can discuss that later.)

 I'm in the middle of making a quilt right now so I took a few pictures that I hope will help explain the process. I must put in a disclaimer here. I did not "invent" or design this method or pattern. My sister taught me how to do it and she saw it in a quilting magazine somewhere. I wish I knew the publication so I could give proper credit. If the designer of this pattern happens upon my blog, please do not sue me for breaking copyright laws. I'm not selling this idea nor am I selling any quilts.

Now, on with the how-to.

Naturally this is going to be a scrappy quilt since we are all in different places using different fabrics. "Scrappy" is what makes it so charming, right? (100% cotton works best but if you have some blend scraps and don't want to buy something else, they will work.)

Please wash, dry, and iron (if needed) your fabric before you begin. First you are going to need to cut your fabric into 4 1/2" squares. For each quilt block you will need two white squares and two squares of other colors. (4 squares in 3 different colors) (With our next quilt we might just try any light and any dark colors, but for this one, let's stick with white as our base, okay?)
Sew one white square to one colored square. Then sew another white square to one of the other colored squares. Press the seams toward the colored side.
Now lay your pieces out so the white squares are opposite each other.
Next, flip one two-square piece over onto the other so right sides are together. (In this photo, the floral print will be on top of the white square that is above it, and its attached white square will be on top of the pink.)(Clear as mud?)

Now you will sew along one long edge and up both short edges. Make sure that your seams match up along the long edge. If they don't, then when the block is finished it won't look right in the middle. (Hang with me here--it will make sense in a minute.)
Can you see my seams? Down the left, across the bottom, and up the right side. I have basically formed a rectangular pocket.

Okay, now comes a little tricky part. Bring the stitched sides together, as shown, and make sure your seams are lying in opposite directions so they are butted. (Turning all seams toward the colored squares will make this easier.) Again, line your seams up perfectly so it will look right when it is finished.
Pin it together so it doesn't shift during stitching.
Beginning at one corner, stitch across to about 1/2" past the center seam. Backstitch. Stitch from the other corner toward the center for about 1/2". Backstitch again. This will leave about a 3" opening for turning. (In this photo, I will not stitch between the two pins on the right--this will be my opening. The rest of it will be stitched up.

I forgot to photograph the next step, but...trim the corners and turn the block right side out. (Hint: The corners will be on the bias so be careful when turning so you don't stretch them all out of shape. Voice of experience here.) I use a wooden cuticle stick to help turn them. A knitting needle will work too. Using a pin to help pull out the corners on the outside is helpful. Try to get them as sharp as possible without stretching.

You will press it out flat, making sure that you line up the seams on both sides as closely as possible. It should look like this.
See how nicely the points meet up in the middle? If you don't have your seams lined up and butting good when you sew the "pocket" your points won't match up on the finished block. I like to pin through my seams and the center before I press it to make sure it is square and both sides will be aligned the same. After pressing, your block should measure about 5 5/8". It will look the same on both sides which makes this quilt "reversible."

Oh, don't forget that opening where we turned it. You need to press that so that it looks like it is stitched. We'll sew it up in a little while.

Now for the batting. You will need to cut your batting the size of the block. (should be 5 5/8") Fold or roll the batting and insert it into the opening in the block.
 Spread the batting to the edges and corners of the block. A pencil eraser or wooden cuticle stick will help in the process. Make sure the batting is smooth, flat, and all the way to the edges of the block.

Now it is time to hand stitch the opening closed. (I'm hoping you know how to do this. If not, let me know.)
Once the opening is stitched, the block is ready to be quilted. I chose to do my quilting on the machine because I'm lazy and I want things to get done quickly. And because I've never done any hand quilting and I was not in the mood to try to learn how. If you are really into doing your quilting by hand, then go for it. If you do it on the machine, a walking foot will help keep it all from shifting. You can choose any quilting motif, just make sure some of it goes all the way to the edges to hold the batting in place. I stitched along the seam lines and then parallel to the seams with 5/8" spacing.
Now the block is finished and ready to assemble. You will mail your finished blocks to me. I will combine all the blocks and sew them together by hand to finish the quilt.
In this picture, all my blocks are not quilted but I've placed them just so you can have an idea how the quilt will look when it is finished.

 More about batting:
I've labored over this in my mind. There are just shy of a gillion different kinds of batting out there. This quilt needs a thin firm batting. 100% cotton would be best. I'm currently using a poly batting because my sister started me on this project and she just happened to have some thin poly scraps on hand. I didn't have enough so I went to the store and couldn't find exactly the same batting so I bought something "close". I then decided I wanted my quilt a little bigger so I needed still more batting and went back to the store...ended up coming home with some batting that was again, "close" but not exactly the same. So, my quilt is going to have three different kinds of batting in it. They each are minutely different in thickness and texture and body.

Needless to say, it would be best to have one consistent batting in each block. So how can we accomplish that? I think we have two choices. 1.) We can decide what we want to use before we begin and make it our "standard". The only problem with that...what if we all can't find the "standard" in our store? Yes, buying it online is an option but shipping charges can sometimes make an otherwise affordable project unaffordable.
2.) Group members can make the blocks but not stuff or quilt them. I (or whoever is responsible for the final assembly) will take care of the batting, quilting, and assembly.

Let me know if you have any other ideas.

The greatest thing about this particular method is that any member can do as little or as much as she wants to do. For example, if you want to just purchase some fat quarters and send them to me, great. You are doing your part and will be a blessing! If you want to use up your scraps and cut them into 4 1/2" squares and send me the squares, that will be great to! Cutting the fabric is my least favorite part. ;) See, even if you don't sew--don't even own a sewing machine, you can be a part of this group. You can do what you can right where you are with what you have to change someone's life for the better. If you want to sew the squares together but don't want to mess with the turning....well, you get the idea.

At this moment, it seems we have a group of two who want to invest a little time and a little money and a lot of fun into the lives of others. If you are reading this and you want to take part, then comment and give me your contact information. If you know someone else who would like to help, PLEASE, spread the word. I'd love to have enough precious quilters to produce at least 4 quilts in a year. (Wouldn't 12 be great? But that might be pushing it.)

Penelope, let's get started.

(If you want to meet Penelope, the other quilter in the group, head on over to her blog. She has a nice one.)

Crocheters and knitters, drag out your yarn scraps and watch for my next post. I'll post some pattern instructions and we'll get started!

Thank you all for your help!



MdmDragonfly said...

Quilting looks like so much fun. Note to self:
Must get sewing machine and learn how to use it!

Talkin' Texan said...

Mdm, or should I call you Dragonfly?
Or should I be more formal and go the whole thing...? :)

Sewing is fun. Like any hobby, it can be addicting. When I was a kid and my mom was teaching me how, I hated it. But then I grew up.
Isn't it funny how our likes and dislikes changes when we finally grow up? hmmm (That's a whole 'nother blog post.)
Anyway, you can often find "fat quarters" of fabric at craft or quilting stores for a dollar or two (or three). You can grab a few and send them to me and your name will be included as one of the volunteers.
We do what we can where we are with what we have. ;)
I'll get the crochet post up soon. I need to go make a few examples first. :)

Karen said...

What an absolutely awesome idea! I love quilts...notice I wrote "quilts" and not "quilting"...

In my family's gene pool, my dear mom got ALL the talent for needle and thread related activities...she could do something like this blindfolded...in the dark...while sleeping...

I, on the other hand, have no luck whatsoever with needles and thread of any kind...so I applaud this project and proclaim...SEW AWAY, LADIES....

Penelope said...

This project will be amazing. Thanks for the shout-out, Lavonda. :-) I am going to get a post up soon about the quilt that I have been working on this year. I have almost got the squares done for the quilt top and am interested to see how the quilting will go. I want to do this one totally by myself, and the goal is to do all the quilting by hand. :-/ That's my next HUGE challenge.

I'm definitely excited about having these small quilting pieces to work on. It's going to be great! I hope we have a lot of people join us in the endeavor.

Talkin' Texan said...

Karen, Thanks for stopping by. If you want to be a part of our quilting for charity, you can always just send a couple of pieces of fabric. Joann's often sells "fat quarters" for 99 cents. It's a small investment for a good cause. Email me and I'll give you my mailing address.
Even if you don't care to participate, would you help spread the word and help us find others who would like to join us? Thanks!!!

Penelope, (Megan is so much faster to type) lol
I didn't notice...do you have a button for your blog? If you can make one or know someone who can do it for you (I'm stupid about those things but have a good friend who makes beautiful ones if you need someone) I would like to put a button on my sidebar to build a community of crafters for charity.
Yes let's work at getting the word out, okay? I'd like to have a BIG group.

Heidi said...

When are you hoping to get the blocks? During the school year life gets crazy but I could probably do a few.

Talkin' Texan said...

Heidi, I expect this to be an ongoing project. As I get blocks, I'll save them up until I get enough to make a quilt then I'll sew them all together. So feel free to participate any time you want to. :)

Penelope said...

For the record: I think I hate cutting the fabric as much as you do. :-) I'm almost done with the squares that I'm going to use for the current quilt blocks. I'll post pictures once I'm done!