Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Perfect Pattern

fat quarters 2

I chose the fat quarter pack of 1930’s style prints for this first online tutorial.  I think that you will agree the fresh, floral and cheerful look of the prints should put a smile on someone’s face when they receive this nice gift from you – or maybe you’ll like it so much you’ll keep it for yourself!

Let’s start with the rail fence quilt pattern for this first tutorial.  It is easy enough for beginners and will be a cinch to piece together.

According to some online posts this pattern was used as a signal on the underground railroad to let escaping slaves know that they were on the right path.

 The fence rails in each block are made of 3 color choices – this is a variation of the Roman Stripe quilt block made from 4 fabric strips.

A pieced quilt top is pieced together after making  blocks or quilt squares.  Each quilt square is made from strips of fabric.  Since my pack of fabrics has prints in the same color family, I will use three color families to make my quilt blocks; pink, yellow and green. I am also  using a light fabric in each block which will visually link the squares.

Now that I have chosen the fabric, it is time to cut the strips for the quilt blocks.  A fat quarter is 18 inches, so I’ll cut strips 2 1/2 inches wide by 6 inches long from each fat quarter . I stack and iron color sets( 1 light, 1 medium and 1 dark fabric) together before cutting so that the pieces that will be sewn together are cut together.  I end up with about 16 sets of each color set. You can see the pink, yellow, and green sets here.

Fabric for suqares

After the strips are cut, it is time to sew the squares!  Set out your cut strips with one dark, one medium and one light strip together.  Sew these three pieces together making sure to sew right sides together and in the correct order 🙂  light, medium and dark – this is important to the look of the finished square.

                                                               Image                           right sides together                                      chain pieced

I use a method called chain piecing to make this step run a little bit faster.

Once the strips from each color family  are sewn together, you will have 16 blocks made up of three fabric strips from each color family – 16 pink blocks, 16 yellow blocks and 16 green blocks.  At this point in time it is important to square up.  I make sure each square measures 6 inches by 6 inches and use a great little 6 1/2 inch ruler along with my rotary cutter on a cutting mat.

square up

The squares are made!   It is time to lay out the squares into a pattern that suits your taste.  I think I like the way this looks – play around with the orientation of the squares until you find a layout that you like.

squares                 pattern layout

If you have a design wall or a large piece of felt, it will help hold the squares in place while you move them to just the right spot.

I am happy with this layout, so I will stack up the squares in each row, making sure that the rows are labeled and the squares are stacked in the same order for each row.  I stacked the squares from left to right across.  If you are afraid that you will make a mistake, and you have a place to keep your squares in place during the whole process, just leave them – and sew one row at a time.

stacked rows of squares

here are some links I found with information on rail fence patterns:

Sew Easy Quilts Debut

fat quarters 2Fabric Selection Made Easy

Making quilt tops can be fun and easy and doesn’t have to take up too much of your spare time. If you are looking for a great hobby and want some ideas, inspiration and instruction on how to put it all together, then you have found the right spot.

One of the best things about making a quilt is selecting the fabrics. Fortunately for us, fabric manufacturers have made it easy to find just the right combination of fabrics that naturally go together and these are often sold as fabric collections in pre-cut bundles of fat quarters or in jelly rolls at your local quilt shop.

Now, you might be asking yourself, What is a fat quarter or jelly roll? These are ways in which fabric can be pre-cut at a quilt shop. A fat quarter is a piece of fabric that measures 18″ x 22″, it is half of a half yard of fabric, or a quarter of a yard. The difference is how it is cut. In a normal quarter yard of fabric you will get 9 inches of cut with a full width of fabric; usually 44 to 45 inches. This is great if you want a long skinny strip of fabric, but not very useful. To cut a fat quarter, measure 18 inches of fabric from a bolt, and cut that. Then from that cut, open the fabric along the fold and cut along the fold. This will result in two pieces of cut fabric measuring 18 inches by 22 inches.

A jelly roll on the other hand is a rolled up grouping of fabrics from a collection. Each of the fabrics is pre-cut into 2 1/2 inch wide strips, which are then rolled together and tied with a ribbon.  Both fat quarter bundles and jelly rolls provide a nice selection of fabrics and cuts down on the amount of time you spend getting ready to sew your quilt top.

fabric selectionNow that I have purchased some fat quarters and a jelly roll, the next step will be to choose a pattern for a quilt block.  Stayed tuned for the next post!