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American flag Rag Quilt 1

The Fourth of July (American Independence day) has always been a weak spot in my seasonal decorations. Meaning that I don’t have any Fourth of July decorations, or didn’t until a couple of days ago.

That is not my only decorating sin. My children are embarrassed by the simultaneous presence of an Easter Bunny quilt on one wall, a Christmas tree quilt on another wall, and Valentine’s swags over the dining room table. (Yes, it’s perfectly true. Laziness has made me into a multi-holiday decorator.)

This year, though, I’m determined to do better. I found a pattern for this little American Flag rag quilt and made it yesterday. The pattern is billed as a lap quilt, but at 27″ x 42″, it’s actually smaller than the average lap quilt, small enough to hang easily in a window or on a wall. If that is too small for you, the pattern also includes a larger 53″ x 79″ version of the same quilt.

I knew I would want to make this quilt as a wall hanging, not a real lap quilt, so I used a piece of white felt I found in the sewing room as the backing layer. The felt makes the quilt stiffer and I hope will help it hang proudly. The red, white, and blue fabric for the front of the quilt came from my fabric stash.

Quilting this flag couldn’t be simpler. For the stripes, I simply sewed a line down the center of each one. The blue section can be quilted with an “X” or any other simple pattern that keeps the fabric layers attached together. Another option is to sew or iron on little stars, or use star-shaped buttons to decorate the blue fabric. I quilted the blue section by sewing a square all around the section, about two inches inside the outer edge.  I haven’t added a hanging sleeve to the back of the quilt yet, but I will. With the hanging sleeve in place, I can hang the quilt on a dowel that rests on two screws or two hooks in the wall.

The whole project took about five hours. The hardest work was clipping all the seams to make the fringed edges. I’m pleased with myself, because I now I have a patriotic wall hanging I can use year after year, and it took less than a day. What do you use to decorate for patriotic holidays?

American flag rag quilt 4

American flag rag quilt 3

American flag rag quilt 2

 

 

 

 

 

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Fourth of July Table Runner

Fourth of July Table Runner 2When it comes to quilting, I’m all for throwing a project together out of fabric you already have in your sewing room. That’s how I made this quilt-as-you-go table runner for American Independence Day. I used the table runner pattern from my book, Quilts for Beginners, and made it even simpler by omitting the binding and using pinking shears to give the outer edge a zig-zag finish. I found an assortment of reds, whites, and blues in my fabric stash. The stars came from some glittery fabric I had already backed with fusible web to make “paper” snowflakes. I cut them out, ironed them on, and straight stitched around their outer edges. The whole project took just a few hours.

If your sewing machine has a library of decorative stitches, it can be a lot of fun to embellish a simple quilt like this with stitches that match the theme of the day. Here are couple of the stitches I used on this table runner:

Fourth of July Table Runner Decorative Stitches 2 Fourth of July Table Runner Decorative Stitches

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Interfacing in T-Shirt QuiltsOne of the most popular articles on this blog is one we wrote about using interfacings to stabilize t-shirts so you can sew the t-shirts into a quilt without stretching them out of shape. That article provoked this question from reader Stacy:

“I noticed that you state, woven or non-woven interfacing is fine. I know nothing about interfacings. Could you explain the difference between the two? Advantages and disadvantages of each type, please? I heard that some can be very stiff and I really do not want that. Thanks again!”

We thought some of you might also like to see our answer to Stacy’s question.

First, let’s start with a definition. An interfacing is “a moderately stiff material typically used between two layers of fabric in collars and facings.” In t-shirt quilting, the role of the interfacing is to stiffen and stabilize the stretchy t-shirt fabric so it doesn’t get pulled out of shape while you cut and sew it.

You will find three types of interfacings at the fabric store:

  • Woven interfacing looks and feels a bit like regular quilting fabric. It has two layers. The top layer has woven threads that run vertically and horizontally, just like quilter’s cotton. The bottom layer is a thin sheet of glue that lets you iron the interfacing to another fabric.
  • Non-woven interfacing is a single sheet that looks and feels more like felt. It also has two layers: the top layer of polyester fibers that have been matted or bonded together, and a bottom layer of glue that lets you fuse the interfacing to another fabric.
  • Knitted interfacing. Like other knits, this type of interfacing is flexible and stretchy. Because of that, you shouldn’t use it for t-shirt quilting.

Interfacings come in a variety of weights for different uses. The lightest-weight interfacings are very thin and flexible, and provide less stiffening. You will barely notice that the interfacing is there when you use the finished project. The heaviest interfacings are really thick and stiff. They are used to shape purses or make other permanently stiff shapes like petals for artificial flowers. They are much too heavy and inflexible to use for t-shirt quilts.

For t-shirt quilting, we recommend using a lightweight fusible interfacing such as Pellon Shape-Flex® (woven) or Therm-o-Web Heat’n Bond (non-woven). If you find a different brand at your fabric store, just make sure it is light weight and won’t stretch out of shape, and you’ll be good to go.

Information junkies, click here for a much more thorough explanation of interfacings and how they are used in sewing.

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Quilters, start where you are

Start where you are“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Someone posted this saying recently in a Facebook business group I belong to. I was inspired by the simplicity of the idea.

Then I came upon this photo of an American soldier repairing uniforms in Iraq, and saw instantly how well the saying and the photo fit together.

What does the saying mean for you as a quilter? Just this: you don’t need perfect quilting skills. You don’t need all the most expensive tools and gadgets. You don’t have to dedicate every waking moment quilting (although we would all understand if you do!) Just quilt what you can with the fabric, the thread, the sewing machine, and the quilting room you have. Whatever you make will be plenty!

 

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Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt

I like making seasonal quilts, but I rarely get the quilt finished until after the season is over. This little rag quilt is a happy exception! I saw a set of fabric panels featuring girls with sewing accessories in a springtime palette I just couldn’t resist, then found a cheery border fabric in peaches and beige. The result is a medallion rag quilt — a quilt where the focal point is the image in the center.

I made the quilt just for fun, but a friend of mine will be having a baby girl in a couple of months, and I think it will make a perfect baby gift for the new girl.

This quilt uses a couple of my favorite rag quilting techniques:

  • Mixing standard piecing in the center of the quilt with rag quilted borders and outer edges. The fabric panel I started with was rather tall and narrow. Just adding borders to the panel would have created a quilt that is too long and skinny for proper lounging. I widened the center panel by adding a border of flannel roses left over from one of the quilts I made for Rag Quilting for Beginners, then framed the whole thing with a green polka dot border.
  • Mixing quilter’s cotton, flannel, and polyester fleece. Some people feel nervous about doing this, but I have done it many times with no problems. I also mixed three different fleece backings in three colors to create the right color effects on the front of the quilt.

Here are a few more views of the quilt:

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt Border Detail

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt Border Detail

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt

Spring Girl Whole Quilt

Spring Girl Whole Quilt

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt 3

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt Central Panel

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt Central Panel

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt

Spring Girl Medallion Rag Quilt

 

(The fabric panel series is called “The Makers,” designed by Cori Dantine for Blend fabrics, and the main border fabric is called “Hello Bear Follow Me” in the peach color way, by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics. A big thank-you to Mary Heany for giving me the fleece backing fabric.)

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Free Cats and Quilts Coloring Page For You

Free Cat Coloring PageHere’s a little freebie for our quilting friends who like to color: a printable coloring page ready for you to download and decorate with pencils, markers, or crayons. Once you download the page, you can print it as many times as you like. It’s our thank-you gift to you for being a Quilter’s Diary reader. Click the button to download it now. Get it now button

 

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