Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tutorial: Selvedge Block and Quilt

In September I shared this quilt finish. For want of a name, it's my "Selvedges Quilt" that finished at 59" X 72". I designed the block. Several blog-followers let me know they'd like a tutorial to make this quilt, so here you are!

  • Lots and lots of selvedges! I used approximately 560 selvedge strips - only the parts with color, text, and color windows - to make 80 rectangle units, 5" X 9-1/2" (unfinished).
  • Scrap fabrics, approximately 3-1/2" X 6" for print pinwheels
  • Solid white fabric:
    • 12 - 5" X 5" squares
    • 18 - 5" X 9-1/2" rectangles
  • 60-degree ruler
  • card stock, for a template
Assuming you've never cut and saved fabric selvages...

Each selvedge strip should be cut 1/2" beyond where the selvedge ends and the print begins. So most of my selvedges are approximately 1"-wide strips. I've saved them for years - more than 15 years - so I had (and still have) lots to work with. 

Prepare Selvages
If needed, press selvedges.

Sort by color. Six to 8 selvages are needed for each rectangle-shaped unit, so 24 to 32 selvages for one four-unit pinwheel.

Lay the selvedge strip on a cutting mat and select the section with the most color, text, or color windows (those little round circles of color). 

Cut roughly 10" to 10-1/2" long until you have a total of 24 to 32 selvedges of one color family.  

This color range runs from pinks to rose.

Sew Selvedge Strips

With the finished side of a selvage strip on the left, position the finished side of another selvedge strip on top, leaving approximately 1/4" print showing on the under strip. Using a straight sewing machine stitch, edgestitch along the left side of the upper strip to join two strips.

With the finished side of a selvage strip on the left, position a third selvedge strip on top of the right selvedge strip, again allowing 1/4" of print to show. Stitch along the edge of the third selvedge to join.

Continue to add strips to create a rectangle of selvedges that's 5" to 5-1/2" wide. Press.

Trim the unit to measure 5" X 9-1/2".

Note: If necessary, it's perfectly acceptable to piece together two selvedge pieces to come up with a 10" to 10-1/2" length.

Make Selvedge-Triangle Unit

Position a 60-degree ruler along the bottom edge of the selvedge rectangle. Align the left side of the ruler with the left corner.

Note that I chose to arrange all my rectangles "left-readable." It probably doesn't matter which direction you position your selvedges; just be consistent.


The triangle piece that's removed can be your template to cut the print fabric that will become one-fourth of a color-coordinated center pinwheel.

Cut print fabric flush with the bottom and right side of the selvedge triangle, but be sure to add 1/4" along the top/long side.

After making one like this, I got smart and made a paper template that I taped to the back of my ruler.  I used this template to cut the bottom and right sides...

... and made a second paper template, positioning it to a ruler to align the top/long side of the unit with the ruler's edge.

This sure made cutting easier.

The selvedge-triangle unit is pieced this way. 

With right sides together, align the raw edges of the cut selvedge piece and print triangle. Allow 1/4" overlap at the top and bottom of the seam.

Use a 1/4" seam to join.

Press seam allowance toward triangle. 

The selvedge unit should have a 1/4" seam allowance at the triangle end.

Completed selvedge unit measures 5" x 9-1/4".

Choose selvedge colors to continue making four selvedge units using four different prints for triangles.

When you have enough units to begin playing on your design wall, you'll quickly see that though this is the layout you want... 

... the actual block to be sewn together looks like this.

At this point, I  auditioned different solid fabrics as center squares: two grays. I settled on white. 

Piece Blocks With Inset Seam

Assemble the block in counter-clockwise order. Refer to diagram below.

On the 5" X 5" center square, mark one corner 1/4" from two raw edges. 

Position selvedge Unit 1 in the "readable" (horizontal) direction, with the triangle at the right end. With right sides together, place the 5" x 5" square along the lower left sides of the non-triangle end of the selvedge unit, aligning the square with the left and bottom of the selvedge unit. With the square on top, stitch from the 1/4" mark to the end of the block.

Press seam allowance toward selvedge Unit 1.

With right sides together, position Unit 2 along seam 2 of the square, aligning the triangle end of Unit 2 with the edge of Unit 1, and the bottom end of Unit 2 with the bottom of the square. Sew a 1/4" seam along the length of Unit 2.

Press seam allowance toward Unit 2.

In the same way, add Unit 3 to side 3 of the square. Press seam allowance toward Unit 3.

Add Unit 4 to side 4 of the square, being sure to move Unit 1 away from the seam. Do not sew over Unit 1.  Press seam allowance toward Unit 4.

Sew the short 5th seam to join Unit 4 to Unit 1. Press seam allowance toward Unit 1.

From the back, the block looks like this, with seam allowances pressed toward selvedge units.

Each block is 13-1/2" X 13-1/2" with a plain square center that finishes at 4-1/2".

Plain Rectangles

I could have finished the quilt layout with more selvedges, adding 5" by 5" selvedge squares to the outside edges, but instead chose to add plain rectangles so the design seemed more "floaty." 

In the same manner as piecing blocks, mark 1/4" on two ends of a solid 5" X 9-1/2" rectangle. Sew inset seams to join. 

Join blocks to complete the quilt top. Press seams open.

I chose to pin-baste my quilt, using rulers for domestic machine quilting, and embellishing with big stitch hand quilting. 


I used my favorite binding technique: No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine - found here, and here, and a PDF here - to complete my quilt. 

I hope you enjoy this tutorial, and making something fun with your collection of selvedges. Be sure to let me know how it goes! Linda

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Finishes and Starts

Since coming home from retreat, I've tried not to slow down in the sewing room. Though I've had medical appointments right and left, due to anemia and doctors' concerns about finding the reason for it, in between times I try to keep going in my escape room - my sewing room.

Needing to get that 36" X 48" String Diamond quilt finished and sent off to a new grand-nephew, I quilted it this past week. I was happy to do spiral quilting as it's an easy way to create quilting texture with a walking foot. My Bernina 770QE handled it beautifully.

I used variegated blue 40-weight YLI thread for quilting. I've had this fun fleece fabric for years and decided it suited this quilt top. I didn't use batting since the fleece has a nice weight. 

While on retreat I made a tote that's a new pattern from Christina Cameli @afewscraps It's her  "Sunbeam Tote." She asked me if I'd be interested in testing the pattern. The front is foundation pieced onto muslin using scrap fabrics. I love that! 

The tote back is a single piece of fabric and I thought this Kaffe Fassett print was perfect for it. I'm not at all fond of Kaffe prints - I usually avoid them! - but this one has been in my stash for years and needed to be used. 

Did you notice the orange base and detail on the straps? That's "vegan leather" (Ha! It's vinyl) purchased from a QuiltCon vendor earlier this year. The pattern is meant to be piece with cork, but this works too. I like that Christina thought to add the accent to the webbing straps. 

The tote is open - nice and roomy - with two pockets on one side. I'm pretty sure I'll be using this bag fairly regularly. After all, it does look a bit like Florida!

Also this week I caught up on my 2019 temperature quilt. This is every day from January 1 (upper left) through September 30 (lower right). As you can see, quite obviously, the days went orangey-red starting in May. Those pops of "dark days" are amethyst and bordeaux (Painter's Palette solids) and represent the hottest days: 95-97 F and 98-plus F, respectively. I'm sure hoping for some lower temps to give the quilt balance, as I add more days to the right-hand side.

This is my temperature quilt color key. It's apparent that the two hottest temps (upper left) should have been swapped around.

I've begun quilting the batiks quilt I reluctantly made (I really dislike batiks), intending to enter the QuiltCon challenge. However, this is the quilt I made without carefully reading the rules. I added prints to the four challenge fabrics when only solids are permitted. Sigh. But I'm finishing it anyway. I first walking-foot quilted 60-degree angles across the top and am now filling in diamonds with free motion quilting designs suggested in Christina Cameli's "Texture Quilting" book.

And then there's this! The mess I left last night when I went to bed can only mean one thing. Something scrappy! I'm digging through two canvas bins worth of solid fabric scraps to make something new. It takes a lot of effort to sort through these rumpled piles, press fabrics, and cut what I want. I'm not very good at keeping fabric in a ready-to-use condition. How do you keep your scraps neat and tidy?

Monday, September 30, 2019

What I Did in Six Days

Six days away with nothing to do but sew is the best way to be productive. Except for meal pauses and a couple hours spent power-walking, I sewed to my heart's content, and had my hands on nine of the ten projects I'd taken along.

Here are some of them, beginning with one of two quilt tops I put together.

This is Plaidish, a free scrap quilt pattern from Kitchen Table Quilting. Link to pattern. The top is 64" X 82". Making Plaidish is an opportunity to understand value, as dark, medium, and light scraps need to be sorted, identified, and cut to make the plaid pattern appear. I love how this turned out, and I think others like it too. This picture had had more than 600 likes on my Instagram account.

The other quilt top I finished is a String Diamond arrangement from My Quilt Infatuation. Kelly's tutorial is here. It was a good way to scrap-bust green and blue fabrics to make a 36" X 48" baby quilt.

I pieced six more 8" X 8" charming postage stamp blocks, bringing my total up to 17.

It would have been 18 blocks total, but I was two 1-1/2" X 1-1/2" squares short of lime green solid to finish this one!

I've been asked to make travel trays. It was easy enough to choose stashed fabrics, and piece a dozen of them.

But it's much more time-consuming hand sewing four snaps - eight individual pieces - to each of them! Still, I like this tray design best because it's flat in a suitcase, and without Velcro in the corners (an option in the pattern), it doesn't "stick" to clothing. Here's the free travel tray pattern.

This reversible bucket hat has been on my must-make list for several weeks. The pattern is free (are you noticing a frugal theme here?) on the Brother sewing machine blog. Link to pattern. I used my favorite JoAnn Fabrics print for the "fun side." It's the same print I used to make my ukulele case.

This is the plain side.  

Instructions call for one layer of medium fusible interfacing. I used Pellon 101 Shapeflex. When I make another hat, I'll use two layers to give the brim more stability. I'll be sporting this hat whenever I'm on the golf cart, as I've discovered that it keeps my I'm-letting-it-grow-longer hair out of my eyes. 

While my LindaNova quilt is waiting for me to sandwich and quilt, I started a new English paper piecing project - the Prudence Quilt. This is the EPP kit (pattern, templates, and papers) I won from @LilabelleLane on an Instagram giveaway. The two blocks needed for the quilt are the Bloom block (center left) and Cross Block (center right), of which I need 121 total! I EPPed one of each and know I'm gonna love that black and white striped Cross block. More fussy-cut pieces are ready, so I'll be all set when it's time for another road trip. 

I've been listening to one audiobook after another; 30 so far this year. They're fantastic when I'm power-walking (I'm thinking about getting wireless earbuds rather than use the corded buds that came with my iPhone), and are my escape from bothersome medical concerns (due to my oncologist recently diagnosing anemia, this week I will have the first of two iron infusions), and still missing our dear Hogan.

"Those Who Wish Me Dead" by Michael Koryta is about a teenage boy, Jace, who by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, witnesses a murder. Rather than go into a witness protection program where dirty cops will surely find him, Jace is placed in a troubled teen's wilderness program near Red Lodge, Montana. I enjoyed following this setting, as I have been on the Bear Tooth Highway, and in that mountain area. What follows are a series of scary chase-and-escape events that include forest fires. Honestly, this is one of the most intense books I've ever read, and I soon found that I shouldn't listen right before bed. Disturbing, but so well done! 

Linda's score 4.8/5.0

"Missing Molly" by Natalie Barelli is another well done story that takes place in England. The narrator speaks with a British accent, so I'm extra partial to this book. The story is about 12 year-old Molly Forster who witnesses the murder of her parents and sister, and afterward shows up for help at the local police station. She quickly discovers that she must run. In the present day, Molly is 23 year-old Rachel Holloway, working at a small newspaper. To boost their flagging publication, the boss decides that the team will research, write, and air a podcast on an old missing person case: Molly Forster. This was such an exciting read, I couldn't wait to go walking to listen more.

Linda's score: 4.9/5.0

Gosh, but I've had the good fortune to pick up a string of really excellent books! I hope you're keeping notes, and enjoying them too! Linda


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