Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tutorial: The Tree Is Trimmed

Read the introduction: Quilty Cross-Stitch Blocks

Fabric Requirements

4 colored jelly-roll strips (I used Basic Grey’s 25th and Pine)
9 solid jelly-roll strips (I used Bella Solids in natural)
3” x 4½” piece for the trunk
⅛ yard of fabric for binding
25½” x 29” piece of fabric for back (this provides approximately 2” of overhang on all sides)
25½” x 29” piece of batting
Thread to match

Finished size: approximately 21½” x 25”
All seams are a scant ¼”

Cutting: The Cross-Stitch Blocks

Cut the selvages off all the jelly-roll pieces.

Take the 4 colored jelly-roll strips, and cut them all at the 20” mark. Set aside the 4 longer strips (the ones that are about 22” long).

Take the (4) 20” strips. Cut them in half length-wise, making 2 strips that are 1¼” wide. Then cut those thinner strips into 3¾” pieces. Each 20” strip will yield (10) 1¼”x 3¾” pieces. These are the main arms of the Xs. You will have a total of 40 of them.

Take the 4 longer colored strips that you had set aside. Cut them in half length-wise, making 2 strips that are 1¼” wide. You will have a total of 8 of them.

Take 8 of the 9 solid jelly-roll strips, and cut them at the 20” mark. Set aside the (8) 20” strips and the uncut 9th one. We will use them later in the tutorial for the background.

Take the 8 longer solid strips. Cut them in half length-wise, making 2 strips that are 1¼” wide. You will have a total of 16 of them.

Hint: Before working with jelly-roll strips, I like to press them with a little starch. That way, I can make sure they’re straight before cutting them, and the starch makes the long, thin pieces more manageable to sew.

After pressing jelly-roll strips and before cutting them, I like to double-check their width; sometimes, they’re a bit wider than 2½”. For the steps above, I made sure the colored strips were 2½” before cutting them length-wise. I didn’t bother doing that with the solid strips because we’ll be trimming off a bunch of that fabric later on anyway. 

Sewing: The Cross-Stitch Blocks

Take the (16) 1¼” solid strips and (8) 1¼” colored strips. Sew a solid strip, length-wise, on each side of the 8 colored strips. Press the seams toward the colored fabric.

Cut each of the strips from the previous step into 2” pieces. These are the side arms of the Xs. Each of the 8 colored strips will yield 11 side arms. You only need 10 from each strip for this project. You will have a total of 80 side arms.

Hint: Instead of lining your ruler mark with the edge of the solid fabric, line it up with the seam between the solid fabric and colored fabric. Doing so will make more accurate Xs.

Take the (40) 1¼”x 3¾” main arms, and sew a matching 2” side-arm piece on either side. Do this by first centering a side arm on the main arm, pressing the seam toward the colored fabric, and then matching the second side arm’s placement to the first. Press the second seam to the colored fabric.

You will have 40 untrimmed blocks at the end of this step. Cut those 40 blocks to 2½” squares.

Hint: I use a 6½” square to trim these blocks. I find that I have more control over the fabric if I use a 6½” square instead of, say, a 2½” square. Also, I like to line up the 1¼” marks on my square with the intersections of the X’s arms.

Sewing: The Rows of the Tree 

Arrange the cross-stitch blocks into rows like the photo below.

Once you’re satisfied with the placement of your fabrics, sew each row together. Press the seams on the odd-numbered rows one way and the seams on the even-numbered rows the other way.

Sew rows of the same length together. That is, sew the (2) 2-block rows together. Sew the (2) 4-block rows together, etc. Press seams to one side.

Cutting: The Background Fabric

Take the 1 uncut solid strip and the (8) 20” solid strips that you had set aside during the initial cutting. You will use these in the background. Cut the 1 uncut strip in half vertically, giving you 2 strips that are approximately 22” in length. Sew the remaining 8 strips length-wise into 4 pairs. Then cut those 4 pairs into the following lengths. To avoid running out of fabric, start by cutting the 10” strips first, then the 9” strips, and so on.

(2) 10” x 4½ strips
(2) 9” x 4½ strips
(2) 7” x 4½ strips
(2) 5” x 4½ strips
(2) 3” x 4½ strips

Hint: Instead of lining your ruler mark with the edge of the fabric, line it up with the seam to make vertical cuts. Also check the width of these strips: each one should be 4½”; you may need to trim a little bit off.

Sewing: The Background to the Tree

Now you have all the pieces for the quilt top. Arrange them as shown in the picture below. (Heads up: I cut the 10” x 4.5” incorrectly for the photo below. The pic is off in that regard, but the measurements are right.)

Working row by row, sew the background pieces to the cross-stitch blocks and the background pieces to the tree trunk, being sure to line up the middle of the tree trunk with the seam between the 4th and 5th cross-stitch blocks in the bottom row of the tree. Press seams to one side.

Sew the rows together length-wise. Press seams to one side.

Square up your quilt top.

Finishing the Project

Quilt and bind your project as desired. I use Jaybird Quilts’ Single-Fold Binding Tutorial.

If you plan on hanging your quilt, a good reference is Stitched in Colors’ tutorial: How to Hang a Mini Quilt.


Quilty Cross-Stitch Blocks

Cross-stitch blocks have been popping up on blogs over the past few months, and I love, love, love them. The quilt that first got my attention was Mr. Fox, by Samantha, of Making Life Prettier. More recently, I’ve swooned over this blue border of cross-stitch blocks, by Jess, of Quilty Habit.

Pile O’ Fabric features a tutorial for those interested in making their own cross-stitch blocks. I haven’t given it a go, but I definitely will: it’s versatile, offering instructions for 1-inch cross-stitch blocks up to 6-inch cross-stitch blocks.

The Pile O’ Fabric approach looks as if it’s especially good for quilters who want to use a bunch of different fabrics and create a scrappier feel to their collection of cross-stitch blocks. What if I chose to use fewer fabrics (because I wanted to justify buying a new jelly roll instead of breaking into my scraps) and took more of an assembly-line approach to making these blocks (because chasing after two little monkeys seriously cuts into my crafting time)?

With those thoughts in mind, I bought a jelly roll of Basic Grey’s 25th and Pine and came up with a different plan of attack. Right now, I’ve used this method to make a table topper. I also have a wall hanging and a table runner in the works. Even after those two projects are done, I’ll still have enough jelly-roll strips to continue the fun.

For more on how to make your own cross-stitch blocks from jelly rolls, see my tutorial: The Tree Is Trimmed.

If you’re visiting from Le Challenge, this is my submission for the “mix” theme, which I interpreted as “mixed up.” Do you see it? I’ve made a “cross-stitch” table topper, but I made it out of fabric, not embroidery floss! I also have a “quilt” that I’m making out of embroidery floss, not fabric. It’s Little Miss Shabby’s Quilty Stitches project. I suspect it will be ready by October 15 ... of next year. : )

Also linking up to the usual suspects, including Needle and Thread Thursday, TGIFF at Simply Pieced, Finish It Up Friday, and Sew Cute Tuesday ...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Q4 Finish-Along

After my triumph of completing the four third-quarter projects I set out to tackle back in July, it’s time to assess my WIP list and think about what I can accomplish by year’s end. (What? You have no idea what I’m talking about? Check out the scoop on the finish-along at the Littlest Thistle and consider playing along.)

This time of the year is tricky, though. I have some super-secret Christmas gifts in the works, and I can’t divulge those details until after the holidays. Well, here are four projects that I can make public right now and hope to wrap up before we welcome the new year …

Amy Butler Pattern and Fabric

I scored this home-dec fabric from Amy Butler for $5 a yard. I think it’s a great fit for the Reversible Everyday Shopper, found in Amy Butler’s Style Stitches. While you’re making heartfelt gifts for your family and friends, I’ll be sewing this for me.

Super Tote

Who needs another bag? I do. That’s why I plan to transform this Deco Floral fabric, from Elizabeth Olwen, into a Super Tote.

Rail Fence Quilt

This rail fence quilt has been progressing at snail speed. (Perhaps that’s fitting, given that the fabric selection includes mustardy snails from Rae Hoekstra’s Lotus Pond line.) I pulled the fabrics in July. I started sewing at the end of September, missing both Stitched in Color’s Purge deadline and the 100 Quilts for Kids deadline. Can I finish by December 31? I’m banking on slow and steady winning this race.

Christmas Table Topper

When I started my Christmas table topper, Christmas was months and months away. I was ahead of the game and feeling pretty darn good about it. Fast-forward to today, and I can’t remember the last time I touched this project. Eek! T minus 78 days until Christmas!

I’m gearing up to end 2014 with a big quilty flourish. How about you? List your goals at the Littlest Thistle, and I’ll cheer you along!