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I’ve made a lot of Christmas wall quilts, but hardly any Valentine’s quilts. Time to make some more! Looking for something simple and easy, I found a free heart banner pattern on Freda’s Hive, and decided it would be the perfect starting point for my next Valentine’s wall quilt.  

The original pattern I found consists of two scrappy hearts, a scrappy background, and a couple of borders. It’s nice, but I wanted to do something a bit simpler.

I used my Electric Quilt 7 quilt design software to simplify the pattern. I went from two hearts to one, modified the shape of the heart a bit, and eliminated the borders. With those changes, the finished quilt’s dimensions are 24″ wide by 21″ high.

Here’s the revised pattern. Each square in the pattern measures 3″ finished, or 3.5″ before sewing.

To make the quilt, cut the following pieces:

  • Fourteen 3-1/2″ pink squares for the heart
  • Thirty-two 3-1/2″ white squares for the background.
  • Five 4″ pink squares
  • Five 4″ white background squares
  • One piece of background fabric measuring at least 23″ x 26″
  • One piece of thin batting measuring at least 23″ x 26″
  • Three strips of binding fabric measuring 2-1/2″ x the full width of the fabric.

You will use the 4″ squares to make ten  half-square triangle blocks for the angled parts of the heart. Once you make the triangle blocks, use a square ruler (if possible) to trim them to 3-1/2″ square.

Here’s a view of the triangle blocks as I chain pieced them.

Lay out the blocks and sew them together, one row at a time. Here’s my top after I joined all the rows:

Baste the quilt sandwich with the quilt sandwich with the backing fabric face down, batting layer on top, and the quilt top on top of the batting, right side up. I spray basted my quilt.

Then stitch the blocks in the ditch to secure the layers. Your quilt should look pretty good at this point, but I thought mine needed a little something more.

What’s guaranteed to make a lonely heart happy? Kisses and hugs, of course!

I used scissors to freehand cut an “XO” out of a scrap of white print from my scrap box. You can cut your own letters out of scraps you have lying around. Spray glue or pin your letters to the heart in a place you like and stitch them down. (Another option is to cut your letters out of fabric backed with fusible web and iron them to the quilt top. In that case, you don’t need to stitch them down unless you want to.)

I also sewed a decorative floral stitch around my heart in bright pink thread. This wasn’t a complete success — my sewing machine is very finicky about thick layers and has a tendency to bunch up the stitches when it crosses seam lines or thicker areas. But what the heck! The stitching looks pretty good from a distance. Here’s a detail:

After that, machine quilt the area around the heart, if you like. After that, I stippled the background of my quilt with white polyester Isacord thread.

Add a hanging sleeve or hanging triangles so you can hang the quilt on the wall, then bind your quilt. I used a pink-and-white striped fabric.

And here’s the finished quilt:

Making little quilts like this is a great way to practice your quiltmaking technique from beginning to end. I finished this one in just a few hours.

Post first published February 4, 2012. Revised and updated January 2017.

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How should you fold new fabric when you get it home so that it will be ready to cut whenever inspiration strikes you? This helpful video from Nancy Roelfsema of On Point Tutorials shows one good way to fold your fabric so you can just take it off the shelf and have it all ready to start cutting. The video also explains what fabric selvages, fabric grain, and bias are, and shows you exactly what a fat quarter is.

Watch it below:

Stacked fabric photo by Gabrielle, Flickr

 

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You have how many unfinishedThey are the UFOs: unfinished quilts and pieces of quilts that take up physical space in the sewing room and mental space that most busy quilters can ill afford to spare. I have them. You have them. Every quilter has them. They make up a ghostly presence that haunts our sewing rooms.

Here’s how to transform UFOs from clutter that only gathers dust into treasures that gather memories.

1. Decide You Really Want the UFOs Finished

The first essential in finishing your UFOs is feeling a genuine urgency to get them done. Be honest with yourself about this. Maybe designing, piecing, or appliqué are the things you really love about quilting.

Maybe, deep down inside, the basting, quilting, and binding don’t interest you all that much. If that’s the case, it might make more sense to find someone else who really loves finishing quilts to complete your UFOs.

You could offer to swap tasks with another quilter who doesn’t like piecing, or pick up some extra cash by selling your tops on Ebay to someone who will enjoy finishing them, or donate them to a charity group that will make sure they get to people who need them. If you decide you really want to finish them yourself, move on to the next step.

2. Set Manageable Goals: Choose One or Two UFOs to Finish First

You’ll reduce your pile of UFOs much faster if you break down the project of finishing them into a series of achievable goals. Don’t try to confront the whole mountain at once; that’s a recipe for  discouragement.

Instead, pick one or two tops and make finishing them your top priority. Focus only on those tops and don’t worry about the rest of your UFO pile until they are 100% complete. Once you’ve finished your first couple of UFOs, choose the next two tops from your pile and repeat the process.

3. Work 15 Minutes at a Time

One of the great things about quilting is that you can actually make progress by working on your project a few minutes at a time. In fifteen minutes you can sew together a stack of quilt blocks, or cut all the binding strips you’ll need for your top, or pin baste a good-sized section of the quilt sandwich. Give yourself permission to take baby steps towards getting your quilt done. Even 15 minutes a day will get you there much faster than standing still!

4. Say No to New Projects

Commit yourself to finishing at least one UFO before you start any new quilting projects. If you’re a hopeless project starter and find that goal too ambitious, you can set a goal of finishing one UFO from your pile for each new project you start. The key is to link making progress on your UFO pile to the progress you make on other projects.

5. Get Support from Other Quilters

Quilt guilds often have drop-in sessions where you can bring your UFO and get help with any technical challenges that have prevented you from finishing it. Many quilt shops also offer drop-in “finish-it” sessions. You may find that just having other quilters around you will help you make progress. Online groups such as Stashbuster or Quilting with a Passion also give wonderful, knowledgeable support to any quilter who needs a little extra help to get that UFO completed. Don’t be like me and let a quilt that you promised to make for a friend sit around for months or even years because you ran into technical trouble and needed some help to finish.

6. Celebrate Every Quilt You Complete

Take the time to give yourself a pat on the back when you reach the finish line and turn a UFO into a completed quilt. Take a photo of yourself or the recipient with the finished quilt. Write an entry about it in your quilter’s journal. Brag about it on a quilting forum. Post some photos on your blog or on Instagram or Facebook. Enjoy your success! Then you’ll be ready to move on to the next UFO in your pile. You’ll be amazed by how much you can reduce your stack of unfinished tops in just a few months.

Aveena wrapped in rag quilt

 

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Pantone Color Greenery in quiltingFor many quilters (myself included), quilting is really all about color: celebrating our favorite colors, combining colors in pleasing and sometimes surprising ways, and discovering exciting new colors we’ve never quilted with before.

I am always interested and usually surprised by the announcement of the color company Pantone’s Color of the Year. This year’s color is Greenery, a springy green that seems to embody optimism, freshness, and everything that’s new. If you’re serious about colors, you might be interested in Pantone’s long article about all the meanings of Greenery. (I have to confess that it was too long for me to read it all.)

As a quilter, I was more excited by this set of color palettes from Pantone that showed a variety of different ways you can combine this unusual green with other colors. We hear from many quilters that they worry about whether the color combinations they choose really look good together. If your color confidence is shaky, here are some suggestions from the real color experts! Notice how the same color can help create many different color moods. The magic is in the combinations.

Quilting color palette with Pantone Greenery

And of course, there are many, many quilts that use colors similar to Greenery. A light, yellow-gray green is a favorite color with modern quilters. Here are a few examples I found on the Web that cover the spectrum from silly to splendid, and from traditional to modern:

Photo by Cross-Stitch Ninja, Flickr.

Photo by Sonja Threadgill Nelson, Flickr.

Photo by Marianna, Flickr.

Photo by Maria Johnson, Flickr.

Photo by Linda, Flickr.

Photo by larry, Flickr.

Photo by judy_and_ed, Flickr.

Photo by Hoogfive, Flickr.

Photo by Heather Acton, Flickr.

Photo by Gina Pina, Flickr.

A Good Affair, an event planning website, offers one more inspiring look at Greenery. Wouldn’t you feel hopeful about a marriage that starts with this color as its theme? Visit the post to see many beautiful photos of wedding greenery.

 

 

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Done is Better than Perfect

This morning I saw this very sad post in a quilting group I belong to on Facebook:

“I placed a post back last month about the lack of motivation in quilting. I have just lost the desire. I now have figured it out. By looking at your post I’m just not any good. Even you beginners are making quilts that I would not dream of attempting. I have been at it three years joined a guild and I still am no good.  I have lots of stash that might be up for sale.
Just feel so worthless.”

Do you ever feel like this quilter — that your quilting isn’t good enough to spend your time on, or to show to the world? I hope you don’t. But if you do, I’d like to suggest being extra kind to yourself and your quilting this year, and banishing the word “Perfect” from your quilting vocabulary.

Here’s the reply I wrote to the sad quilter’s post:

“I have been quilting for many years and still would not call myself a good quilter. I keep quilting because I love fabric and because it’s fun. I long ago decided not to worry about all the many, many quilters who do it better than I do. I hope you can find a way to get back your love of quilting. I’ll bet that anyone who ever got a quilt from you thinks it’s a treasure and doesn’t even notice any imperfections in your quilting.”

And here are some of my favorite reasons to keep quilting in 2017:

  1. Having FUN. Because what’s more fun than playing with fabric and thread?
  2. Creating something with your own hands and your own ingenuity.
  3. Giving something unique and personal to family or friends.
  4. Contributing something useful to a charity like Quilts of Valor, which gives quilts to wounded soldiers, or one of the many charities that provides quilts for children in need.
  5. Taking a break from housework, or office work, or yard work, or any kind of work!
  6. Taking part in the worldwide community of people who share your love of quilting.

If you think of any I’ve missed, please leave your idea in the comments.

Wishing you a year of happy quilting in 2017.

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I’ve been seeing other people make these simple little mini quilts called mug rugs for months now, and finally decided to make a couple myself.

Both of these are 6″ x 6″, with a layer of backing fabric, a layer of Warm & Natural cotton batting, and for the top, scraps of holiday fabric left over from other projects. It’s important to use cotton and not polyester if you want to put anything really hot on your mug rug.

To assemble, just lay the backing fabric face down, put the batting on top, and then the top fabric, face up. I do think it’s a good idea to put some stitching in the center of the mug rug sandwich so the rug stays together if you wash and dry it later. In the scrap Christmas tree rug, the stitching that attaches the scraps serves this purpose. The one in the lower photo was made from a single piece of beautiful Laurel Burch fabric, so I just stitched a line down the center of the Christmas tree to hold the layers together.

I took the lazy quick route and made my mug ruts without standard quilt binding. Instead, I sewed around the outer edges with a tight zigzag stitch. On the mug rug below, I set my stitching line a little inside the outer edge of the fabric and used pinking shears to cut a zigzag edge around the outside of the mug rug.

Now that they are finished, I can use them to put down a cup of hot coffee or cold water without damaging the surface underneath.

These little quilts took about half an hour to make. If you’d like to try one, you can make yours any size that fits your purpose. A larger one can be a hot pad for a holiday dish. Small ones like these are perfect resting spots for cups and glasses.

 

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