Gathering Place Pillow - tutorial!

This tutorial was originally written as a guest post HERE for the Benartex blog.

In case you missed out on the tutorial over at Sew in Love (with Fabric), see below to make your own Gathering Place Pillow!

I am also organizing a class for this pillow, along with a few design alternatives! If you're near Glens Falls, New York, contact Patti's Quilting and Fabrics for more information!

Gathering Place Pillow

Supplies:
Fat Quarter of focal print
1/4 yard coordinating print (preferably a blender fabric)
Fat Quarter for pillow back
16" x 16" piece of lightweight fusible interfacing
16" x 16" pillow form
14" zipper (optional)

Let's start cutting!

Gathering Place Pillow

Focal fabric (zigzags): 12.5" wide x 16" long
Coordinating print (black): 8" wide x 32" long
Backing (squares print): 16" x 16"
Lightweight fusible interfacing - not shown: 16" x 16"

We are going to gather the coordinating print, so let's start by sewing gathering stitches down both long sides of the 8" x 32" piece. To do this, set your sewing machine stitch length as long as possible. Leave at least 3-4" thread tails at the beginning of your seam and sew about 1/8" from the raw edge. Leave 3-4" thread tails at the end of your seam. Sew another row of stitches in the same manner about 1/4" from the raw edge. Repeat on the other long edge of this piece.

Gathering Place Pillow

Now find both of the top threads on one side and gently tug those threads to gather the fabric up. Do this slowly and gently so as to not break the thread. Repeat on the other side. Evenly distribute the gathered fabric so that the piece is now approximately 16" long.

Gathering Place Pillow

We are going to fuse this gathered piece to the 16" x 16" square of fusible interfacing so that it is easier to work with. It doesn't need to be perfect, and you will end up pressing your gathering as you fuse. Don't worry, all of the "wrinkles" will look great on the finished pillow!
Begin by aligning one gathered edge to the edge of the fusible. Lightly fuse the piece so that you can lift it and move it slightly if you need to. When you're happy with the placement, press it once more.

Gathering Place Pillow

Next we will prepare the focal print. Cut slits into the fabric as shown with the red arrows below. I followed the zigzag print of the fabric, so my cuts aren't even or uniform. I chose to cut up to about 1/8" from the lime green zigzag so that the cream background would show.

Gathering Place Pillow

Here are my cuts in the fabric:

Gathering Place Pillow

Starting at one corner, fold the corner to the back following the zigzag.

Gathering Place Pillow

Fold one edge and press before moving on to the next fold, always following the print for guidance. Continue up the side of the fabric.

Gathering Place Pillow

This is how your piece should now look! I clipped away that little piece of fabric at the top.

Gathering Place Pillow

Here is how the back of your piece should look:

Gathering Place Pillow

Now place the focal print on the fusible interfacing. Align the raw edges and lightly fuse in place.
The points will overlap the gathered fabric, so they will not fuse down. Pin the points down as shown.

Gathering Place Pillow

Now it's time to sew again! Set your stitch length to about 2.5 and use a thread that blends with your focal print (I used cream here). Topstitch the folded edges of the zigzag. If you'd rather, you can use a zigzag stitch instead of a straight stitch for this step. Remove the pins as you sew.

This next step is optional. Do you see the shadowing caused by the black fabric underneath the cream?

Gathering Place Pillow

If you want to fix that, here's how:
Because we *lightly* fused the pieces down, we can go back and peel the fabric up from the interfacing.

Gathering Place Pillow

Now CAREFULLY trim away some of the  fabric underneath as shown by the red arrows. When you're done, fold the fabric back down and fuse back onto the interfacing.

Gathering Place Pillow

Let's put the pillow together! I like to zigzag stitch or serge the raw edges of my pillow front and back before assembly. You can also quilt the front and/or back of the pillow. I chose to quilt the back with straight lines.

Gathering Place Pillow

To install the zipper, place the zipper down along the bottom edge of the pillow front and sew down using your zipper foot. I start and stop my stitching 1-2" in from the pillow corners as shown below (my stitch line is the white thread on the blue zipper).
**As an alternate to the zipper closure, you may wish to finish the pillow with an envelope-style back or another technique of your choice!**

Gathering Place Pillow

Now sew the other edge of the zipper to the pillow back.
Open up your zipper at least half way. Now line up the raw edges of the pillow front and back, and sew using a 1/2" seam. On the bottom edge of the pillow where you installed the zipper, pull the zipper ends out and away from the seam, and stitch from the corner up to the zipper seam, as shown below.

Gathering Place Pillow

Turn your pillow cover right-side out, poke the corners out nicely, and give it a light press with your iron.

Now you can insert your pillow form, and you're finished!

Gathering Place Pillow 

Pillow front:

Gathering Place Pillow 

Pillow back:

Gathering Place Pillow

Guest Blog Tutorial and Giveaway!

Today I'm guest blogging over at the Benartex blog, Sew in Love (With Fabric)! A few weeks ago Lisa from Benartex contacted me and asked me to write a tutorial featuring a line of their fabric. I couldn't say no to playing with some fun new fabric, and I quickly fell in love with the Cachet collection!

Gathering Place Pillow

Would you like to win a fat quarter set of this collection?

To enter to win a fat quarter bundle of Cachet, do one or both of the following:

1. Sign up to follow Benartex's blog, either via email or a blog reader program like Bloglovin' (both on the righthand sidebar of the blog). Leave a comment here letting me know you did so.
2. "Like" Benartex on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you did so.

For an additional chance to win:
Check out the tutorial and leave a comment here letting me know what you think!


The giveaway will remain open until October 1st when one winner will be selected from the comments here. The Benartex team will select the winner using a random number generator. The winner will be announced here as well as on the Benartex blog!
Thanks so much to Benartex for hosting this giveaway!

Now head on over to their blog to see my "Gathering Place" pillow tutorial!

Perfectly Polished Tutorial - Finding Inspiration Everywhere!

Below is a guest post tutorial that I originally wrote as a guest post at Jedi Craft Girl. Enjoy!

Today I'm going to explain a bit of how the design process works for me and follow that up with a tutorial for the block that I've designed!

I'm a scientist by training and although I've always been a crafter, designing doesn't always come easily to me. In fact, my favorite projects are typically the product of a simple idea (or a mistake! Ha!). While I was working on an idea for my tutorial I decided to take a break and skim facebook for a bit. That's when I saw this advertisement pop up:
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
I instantly knew that I had to create a quilt block based on the photo. I started out by drawing on graph paper (technically this is engineering paper, for fellow nerds and nerd spouses out there!). I like to start with graph paper because it's easier and faster for me than using the computer. I also pulled out my own bottle of Essie nail polish and measured it (1" wide by 1.5" tall) so that I could keep those proportions in my design.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
My first drawing was quite basic. Based on the actual bottle size, I had decided on a finished size of 3"x4.5" for the colored blocks. I liked my first drawing (top drawing above), but I wanted to include the narrow spacing that the glass bottles naturally create between the blocks of color. My second drawing incorporated the spacing. This is also the point when I started to think about the easiest way to piece the block and draw in my piecing lines. If I wasn't quite satisfied with my design I would have continued to tweak my drawings and redraw them as needed until I was happy with the design. In this instance I didn't stray much from my inspiration. Sometimes the inspiration is barely recognizable in the final design and other times it's a near replica. Don't be afraid to play with different ideas!
(Reality check: sometimes my drawings end up in the recycling bin or a binder, only to be see months later. And other times they turn into great quilt designs!)

I had a few math errors in my second drawing, so I made a third drawing but didn't include a photo here. I never start drafting on the computer until AFTER I work out all of the math on paper. For me, it's easier to calculate everything on paper. And don't forget to include seam allowances (I don't draw them in, but keep them in mind when writing out cutting directions!). Once I had my block design worked out on paper I moved over to the computer. I use Adobe Illustrator for my graphics (I wish I could provide a tut on that, but alas, I am still a young Illustrator grasshopper!).
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
I'm calling this block "Perfectly Polished"!

Now, let's sew up the block!
For starters, here are the supplies:
6 scraps for the color blocks, at least 4" x 5.5"
1/4 yd background fabric*

To create a 19" square mini quilt, the following are needed:
1/3 yd background in place of the 1/4 yd listed above*
22" square batting
2/3 yd backing
1/4 yd binding

Cut your fabric as follows:
6 color blocks: 3.5" x 5"
Perfectly Polished Block Tut

Background (it's helpful to label the individual pieces here):
A:  2.5" x 6"
B:  1.5" x 3.5"
C:  3.5" x 4.5"
D:  1.5" x 5"
E:  1" x 5"
F:  1" x 3.5"
G:  1" x 5"
H:  1.5" x 5"
I:  1" x 5.5"
J:  1" x 3.5"
K:  3.5" x 4.5"
L:  3.5" x 4.5"

Refer back to the illustration above whenever needed during the piecing.
For this block I find it especially helpful to lay out my design on a design wall or a nearby table. As I sew and press my seams I place the sections back in the appropriate places within the design.
Press all seams as you go. I prefer to press open, especially when using a light colored background fabric such as in this project.

Start by sewing piece B to the bottom of color 1.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Sew piece C to the top of color 4; sew piece J to the bottom of color 4.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Sew piece D to the top of color 2; sew piece E to the bottom of color 2.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Sew piece F to the right side of color 3.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Sew piece G to the left side of color 5; sew piece H to the right side of color 5.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Sew piece K to the left side of color 6; sew piece L to the right side of color 6.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Now sew piece A to the left side of the color 1 section.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Sew piece I to the bottom of the color 3 section.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Now it's time to start piecing the colors together! Begin by sewing the color 1 section to the top of the color 3 section.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Sew the color 2 section to the top of the color 5 section.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Sew the color 4 section to the left side of the color 2+color 5 section.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Now piece the color4+color 2+color 5 section to the right side of the color 1+color3 section.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Finally, piece the color 6 section to the bottom of the block!
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Your block should now measure 12.5" long and 13" across.
To create the 19.5" mini quilt, continue below.
If you'd rather square up the block for another use, simply sew a 1"x13" background strip to either the top or bottom edge of the block. This will give you a 13" square block which will finish as a 12.5" square block.

To create the mini quilt, do not add the 1" strip to square up the block.
Cut the following borders from your background fabric:
2" x 12.5"
2" x 14.5"
5.5" x 14"
6" x 19.5"

Sew the 2" x 12.5" strip to the left side of the block.
Sew the 2"x14.5" strip to the top of the block.
Sew the 5.5"x14" strip to the right side of the block.
Sew the 6" x 19.5" strip to the bottom of the block.
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Baste, quilt and bind!
Perfectly Polished Block Tut
Thanks so much to Amanda for having me over for tutorial week! I would love to see any projects that you create from this tutorial. You can always contact me through my blog or post in my Flickr Group!

Scrappy Blocks Tutorial

I've been slowly making these blocks with my scraps, and I thought I'd share my process! I cut notebook paper to 8" squares and use that as a foundation for my blocks. This is my preferred method of improv piecing, as the paper makes the process so much easier!

Supplies:
Scrappy Block Tutorial
The scraps don't need to be cut into perfect squares or rectangles, but I do trim 1 raw edge of each scrap piece with a rotary cutter and ruler so that I have a nice, straight edge. It will make more sense later in the tutorial, but the raw edge to trim is the one that you will stitch your seam along. I trim mine as I go.

Begin with 2 scraps. They don't have to be the exact same size.
Scrappy Block Tutorial
Place the scraps, right sides together, somewhere on your paper foundation. The straight raw edge of each scrap piece should be aligned as shown. Stitch 1/4" from the raw edge using a slightly shorter stitch length than usual (2.0-2.2 works well). Stitch through the scraps and the paper; the paper is acting as a foundation for the piecing.
Scrappy Block Tutorial

Scrappy Block Tutorial
Press the pieces open.
Scrappy Block Tutorial
Now add another scrap. Trim 1 edge so that you have a nice straight cut, line up this scrap with your other pieces, right sides together, and sew 1/4" from the raw edge. Don't worry about all of the edges lining up; just sew 1/4" from the cut edge on the piece that you are adding and you will have nice, straight seams.
Scrappy Block Tutorial

Scrappy Block Tutorial
Here's a close up of the stitch line. Notice that the raw edges of the first two pieces don't line up exactly with the raw edge of the piece that we just stitched down. That's fine!
Scrappy Block Tutorial
Press the pieces open.
Scrappy Block Tutorial
Continue adding scraps to fill the entire area of your foundation paper.
Scrappy Block Tutorial

Scrappy Block Tutorial
Sometimes you may be a bit short, especially on the corners. Just add another scrap to cover the corner!
Scrappy Block Tutorial
Here's how I covered that corner:
Scrappy Block Tutorial
After I stitched this corner piece down, I trimmed away some of the solid underneath. Feel free to do that any time you have excess.
Scrappy Block Tutorial
Press the piece open.
Scrappy Block Tutorial
Continue adding scraps to your work.
Scrappy Block Tutorial

Scrappy Block Tutorial
Press each piece open.
Scrappy Block Tutorial
When your entire foundation paper has been covered, it should look something like this:
Scrappy Block Tutorial
Here's the back side:
Scrappy Block Tutorial
Trim off any fabric that hangs over the edge of the paper foundation using a rotary cutter and ruler.
Scrappy Block Tutorial
And now you've made your first scrap block!
Scrappy Block Tutorial
I like to keep my paper foundations on my blocks at this point. This technique results in lots of bias edges, and the paper helps to keep the blocks nice and square. After I sew the blocks together I sit down in front of the t.v. and pick out all of the paper pieces.

You can use this same process to create string blocks. Also, if you prefer straight lines over the wonky look, cut your scraps to perfect squares or rectangles before you add each piece. I love this method because the blocks sew up quickly and there are so many possibilities!
Scrappy Block Tutorial