Monday, March 13, 2017

Bloom Where You Are Planted

We're supposed to have a snowstorm here in New Hampshire tomorrow, and with a potential accumulation of 14-18 inches of snow, I can't think of a better time for a little spring stitching!!

These wooden buttons were the inspiration for this sweet project:

I saw them online when I was ordering some homespun fabric from Jubilee Fabric ( and I couldn't resist.  They're tiny—only 3/8"—but perfect for scattering across a background.

Back to the project!  First off, you can find the pattern for this little stitchery here.  The finished project measures about 5" square, but start with a larger background square (8" or so) so you can comfortably use an embroidery hoop.  You can trim the background square later if you like.

After tracing the pattern onto the background square using a light box and a water-soluble marking pen, I used size 8 perle cotton and a wrapped backstitch to stitch the "Bloom" and the big flower stem.  For the rest of the lettering and the little flower stems, I used two strands of embroidery floss and a backstitch—lazy daisies for the little flower leaves.  I appliquéd the felted wool flower and leaves using a single strand of embroidery floss and a whipstitch.  And finally, I used six strands of floss to stitch down the little buttons, making an "x" pattern in their centers.

I went back and forth about how to finish this project.  I thought about making it a little quilt with a loop that could be hung on a door knob or hook, kind of like this project that I made last November :

Give Thanks Mini Quilt

I also thought about adding a patchwork border and finishing it as a small pillow, but ultimately I decided to frame it.  To do so, I layered it with a thin piece of batting (flannel would also work), wrapped it around the glass that came with the frame, and inserted it into the frame.  Fast and finished!!

Happy Stitching!!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How To: Orange Peels

Last month I posted about a mini orange peel quilt that I was making just for fun.  Here's a look at how it turned out!

I love everything about this little quilt—the saturated colors, the graphic design, even the simple machine quilting.  I'm not sure why I waited to so long to give the orange peel a try, but I'm glad I finally did!  Along the way, I picked up a few tricks for making smooth edges and fairly sharp points that I'd like to share with you today.

Here's my method for making orange peels:

1.  Start by adhering two sheets of freezer paper together by lightly pressing one atop the other with a medium hot iron, making sure that the matte side of both sheets of paper is up and the shiny side down. (This step results in thicker templates)

2.  Next, trace the orange peel shapes onto the matte side (not shiny) of the double layer of freezer paper and cut out each shape (through both layers) along the drawn lines.  Lightly press a freezer paper shape to the wrong side of your fabric with the shiny side of the freezer paper down.

3.  Cut out fabric shape being sure to leave a ¼" allowance around the outside edges of the freezer paper template and trim the pointed ends as pictured below.  Pull the freezer paper template off and use a fabric glue stick on the matte side of the freezer paper to lightly glue the template back to the center of the fabric shape.  At this point, the shiny side of the paper should be facing up away from the fabric.

4.  Using the tip of a medium hot iron, press the ¼" fabric allowance to the freezer paper template as indicated below.  Pay particular attention to how the fabric overlaps at the ends of the orange peel shape.  Don't worry about the little dog ears that hang over the shape at this point.  By taking care to overlap as follows, you'll be able to neatly tuck them in when you're appliquéing.  If you're left handed, you should overlap your points in the opposite direction.

5.  Finger press your background fabric square lightly on the diagonal to help with the placement of the orange peel shape.  Align the center of the orange peel shape with the pressed diagonal line of the background fabric and pin shape in place.  (Note:  To help make sure your finished appliqués are centered, cut your background fabric squares a little bigger than necessary and then trim them to size after appliquéing.)

Begin stitching along the lower right side of the shape and appliqué up to the point of the shape.  Once you've stitched the point to the background fabric, gently fold and tuck in the dog ear under the fabric shape and up against the stitching already in place.  Then continue appliquéing the remainder of the shape, stitching around the second point in the same manner.

6.  After you've finished appliquéing your orange peel to the fabric background, use sharp scissors to cut a small slit in the background fabric behind the orange peel shape and gently loosen and remove the freezer paper template from your work.  Press your appliqué from the wrong side and trim the block, making sure the orange peel is centered in all directions.

And that's it!  Perfect-ish orange peels!

Now that I've tackled my first orange peel project, I can't wait to give it a try again.  If you'd like to make your own little quilt, here's a link to the orange peel template I used for 2" finished blocks.

Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Hearts and Tarts

Happy February!

This morning I flipped over the calendar page and ta-da!

It's my Hearts and Tarts table runner and it's the February quilt in the Better Homes and Gardens American Patchwork & Quilting 2017 Calendar.  

This beautiful calendar, available online at The Meredith Store, features 12 gorgeous quilts, complete with full project instructions and even suggestions for alternate colors and sizes.  

My Hearts and Tarts table runner is simplicity itself.  I paper pieced the heart blocks with a variety of pink solids and used candy pink perle cotton to big stitch quilt in the sashing and borders.  This quilt is soft and pretty—perfect for Valentine's Day!

Here's a close-up of the big stitch quilting:

And here's the little quilt I made to test the idea for Hearts and Tarts.  The blocks in this little cutie are 3" square.

And because I can't get enough of these sweet hearts, here's a fun little project that you can make with a single block.  It's a 4½" square pillow that you can use as a pin cushion or embroider with a message and give as a valentine.

If you'd like to make your own little heart pillow, you'll need to print a foundation pattern for the 3" heart block (find the pdf here).  You'll also need some scraps of pink and white solid fabrics.  

From the pink solid, cut:
1 rectangle, 1¾" x 2½" (area A1)
1 rectangle, 2¼" x 3¼" (area A4)
1 square, 5" x 5" (pillow back)

From the white solid, cut:
1 square, 2" x 2" (area A2)
1 square 2½" x 2½" cut once diagonally to yield 2 triangles (areas A3 and A5)
1 square 3" x 3" cut once diagonally to yield 2 triangles (areas A6 and A7)
2 strips 1¼" x 3½" (side borders)
2 strips 1¼" x 5" (top and bottom borders)

Putting this little pillow together is very easy.  Once you've got the block made, stitch a white 1¼" x 3½" strip to either side of the block, pressing seams towards the white strips.  Then stitch a white 1¼" x 5" strip to the top and bottom of the block, again pressing seams towards the white strips.

Layer your pillow top with a small piece of batting and then embellish it as desired. I embroidered the "Be Mine" and "XOXO" using a backstitch and two strands of embroidery floss.  Then I used perle cotton to big stitch quilt in the border ¼" around the outside of the block.  The layer of batting will give the stitching a bit of dimension and will help keep the front of your pillow smooth when you stuff it.

Once your pillow top is embellished/quilted, layer the pillow back atop the pillow top with right sides together.  Stitch on all sides using a ¼" seam allowance, but leave a little space unsewn at the bottom of the pillow for turning.  Press the seam to set it, clip your corners, and turn the pillow right side out.  Stuff the pillow gently using fiberfill and blindstitch the opening closed.  And that's it!  

Before I go, here's another example of the gorgeous photography that you'll find in the APQ 2017 Calendar.  December features my Winter Wraps lap quilt in the most charming scene—I just love this picture!

Happy Quilting!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Just for Fun

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of teaching a beginner's log cabin class at the Upper Valley Food Co-op's Sew-op.  The women I was teaching were all friends and we had a great time chatting and sewing (ok, mostly chatting!).  At one point during the class, one of the women asked me if I still quilt for fun or if it's just for work and while I answered that quilting is always a joy for me, I realized that it's been too long since I made a project just for fun and just for me.

The solution:  a mini orange peel quilt!  I've always wanted to make an orange peel quilt and I love all things miniature, so I'm going to combine the two and make it with fabrics leftover from my log cabin class.

After a couple of nights of prepping leaf appliqués, here's what I've got:

Aren't the colors gorgeous?! I just love these batiks!

Each finished leaf block is going to be 2" square.  My mom will think I'm crazy, but I can't help myself; I LOVE small blocks.  Not sure what I'm going to do for a border yet, but hey, there are no rules here!  This is just for fun — appliqué here I come! 

I'll keep you posted...

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry and Bright - Day 12!

Welcome back for the final day of the Merry and Bright Quilt-along!

Today we're going to talk about finishing touches and, drum roll please, here's a look at my finished Merry and Bright quilt!

I have to be honest—I adore this quilt!  The color palette is so cheery and I love the combination of the simple, graphic blocks and the sweet, pretty embroidery.  This one is definitely one of my faves!

On to the finishing:

Basting Backing Fabric to Quilt Top/Batting Sandwich:

The next step in the process is to layer your quilt top/batting sandwich with a backing fabric panel measuring at least 34" x 40".  Once again, I chose to use spray basting adhesive to baste the backing fabric to my quilt sandwich.  I smoothed the backing fabric out on a flat surface with the wrong side up and used masking tape to hold it taut.  Then I lightly sprayed the surface with the basting spray, placed the quilt top/batting sandwich on top of it with the batting side down, and smoothed it out, starting in the center and working outwards.  Then I pulled up the tape, flipped all three layers of the quilt sandwich over, and made sure it was nice and smooth on the back side.

If you'd like to use a different method of basting your quilt, please feel free to do so!  One way or the other, it's time to baste the backing to the back of your quilt sandwich.

Quilting Inner Border:

I quilted my inner background fabric border using two colors of embroidery floss and a big running stitch.  This method matches the look of the embroidery that we used on the sashing strips, but it is actually quilting because we're stitching through all three layers now.  This helps to hold the layers of the quilt together and because it's a running stitch, it looks just fine on the back of your quilt.

After placing my quilt sandwich in a quilting hoop (basically a big embroidery hoop), I used two strands of floss and the same needle that I used for all of my embroidery to do the big stitch quilting.  I stitched ¼" inside the background fabric inner border seams.  You can mark your lines prior to stitching if you like, but I could actually see the shadow of my seam allowances through the background fabric and just ran my stitching along those lines.  Easy peasy!

Your stitches should measure between ⅛" and ¼", but really the stitch length matters less than keeping them consistent.  And finally, as in regular quilting, bury your knots between the layers of your quilt.

Final Touches:

The last thing I did before binding my quilt, was to machine quilt in the ditch on either side of the 4 embroidered sashing strips with a walking foot and white thread to match my background fabric.  This quilting doesn't really show up much, but I added it to help hold the layers of the quilt together.  Then I decided that because my quilt was sufficiently stabilized and charmingly embellished, it was (finally!!) time to bind!

If you'd like to further quilt or embellish your quilt, please do so!  My mom is thinking of adding a star button to the top of one or more of her Christmas trees and for a while contemplated decorating the trees with additional embroidery (if you choose to add more embroidery, make sure you do it before you layer the backing onto your quilt).  You could also use quilting to add texture to the trees, the ornaments or even the house roofs.  The options are many and an opportunity for you to further personalize your quilt. Or maybe, like me, you'll step back and think "that'll do!"

So that wraps up my 2016 Merry and Bright Quilt-along!  (please excuse the little Christmas pun, but I've been waiting all month to write that!!)  I have truly enjoyed sharing this project with you all and I've especially loved connecting with you via email, Facebook and Instagram!  What a treat to be able to see your progress and to know that we were actually quilting along together!

I'd love to see pictures of your quilts when they're finished!  You can email them to me at or please tag me @jendalyquilts when you post your pics on Instagram or Facebook.

In the meantime, thank you all so much for following along with this year's quilt-along!  Happy Holidays and may all your days be Merry and Bright!

Cheers!  Jen

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merry and Bright - Day 11

Happy First Day of Winter!

And Happy Day 11 of the Merry and Bright Quilt-along!

Today we're embroidering our last sashing strip.  We'll be using the back stitch and French knots for some garland-y stitching.  Here's a peek:

I love today's stitching—it's simple and fast, but oh so pretty!

Let's start with the marking:
  1. Referring to the diagram below, mark a horizontal line in the center of your sashing strip along its entire length.  Note:  the center of your strip should be ⅝" below the upper seam and ⅝" above the lower seam.
  2. Starting at the right edge of your sashing strip, make a mark ¼" below the upper seam and ½" in from the right seam.
  3. Move left 1" from the mark made in step 2 and make another mark ¼" below the upper seam and 1½" in from the right seam.
  4. Continue in the same manner moving left and making a mark every inch along the length of the sashing strip (always ¼" below the upper seam).
  5. Starting at the right edge of your sashing strip, make a mark ¼" above the lower seam and 1" in from the right seam.
  6. Move left 1" from the mark made in step 5 and make another mark ¼" above the lower seam and 2" in from the right seam.
  7. Continue in the same manner moving left and making a mark every inch along the length of the sashing strip (always ¼" above the lower seam).
  8. Draw a gently curving line between the center line and each of the marks created in steps 2-7.  Note:  I started each of my curved lines along the center line ½" right of the mark I was connecting to.

Embroider Garland:
(Note:  if you need a quick refresher on the stitches, we first used the back stitch on Day 9 and the French knot on Day 10.)
  1. Place your marked quilt top/batting sandwich in an embroidery hoop.
  2. Thread an embroidery needle with two strands of green embroidery floss.
  3. Referring to the diagram above, back stitch along the center and curved lines.
  4. Using 2-3 strands of red embroidery floss, stitch a French knot at the end of each of the curved lines on the marks created in steps 2-7 in the marking instructions above.

And voilà!

I think it's the simplicity of this garland/vine that makes it so striking and the perfect way to finish up our sashing strips.

If you've enjoyed embellishing your quilt with embroidery, make sure to check out my free patterns. I've got several fun little projects that incorporate stitching, and if you'd like a slightly larger quilt that's great for stitching on the go, you can find a tutorial for my Happy table runner at the Moda Bake Shop.

I can't believe it, but we've almost reached the end of the Merry and Bright Quilt-along!  Hope to see you back here on Friday for Day 12!!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Merry and Bright - Day 10

Happy Monday and welcome back for Day 10 of the Merry and Bright Quilt-along!

Today we'll work on sashing strip #3.  We're making diamonds with a simple straight stitch and sprucing them up with a French knot in each center.

Here's a look at today's stitching:

First let's mark our sashing strips:
  1. Referring to the diagram below, make a mark ⅜" in from the left edge of your strip and ¼" down from the upper edge of your strip.
  2. Make a second mark ¾" to the right of the mark made in step 1—again the mark should be ¼" down from the upper edge of your sashing strip.
  3. Continue in same manner, making marks every ¾" along the length of the sashing strip (always ¼" down from the upper edge).  The last mark should end up ⅜" from the right edge of your sashing strip.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 along the bottom edge of your sashing strip—this time all marks should be ¼" from the bottom edge of the sashing strip.
  5. Make a small mark at the center of the left edge of your sashing strip.  The mark should be ⅝" from the top and bottom seams.
  6. In the same manner, make a mark every ¾" along the center and length of your sashing strip.

Embroider Diamonds:  
  1. Place your marked quilt top/batting sandwich in an embroidery hoop.
  2. Thread an embroidery needle with two strands of embroidery floss.
  3. Referring to the diagram below, start at the top and bring your needle up at point A and down through point B.
  4. Bring your needle up at point C and down again through point B.
  5. Bring your needle up at point D and down through point C.
  6. Bring your needle up at point A and down through point D.
  7. Bring your needle up at point E and down again through point D.
  8. Bring your needle up at point F and down again through point D.
  9. Continue in same manner until you've stitched diamonds across the lenght of your sashing strip.

Embroider French Knots in Diamond Centers:
  1. Thread an embroidery needle with a least two strands of floss.  If you'd like your knots to be bigger, you can use three strands of floss.
  2. Bring your needle up through the center of a stitched diamond.
  3. Wrap the floss two or three times around the end your needle.
  4. While gently pulling the floss so that the wrapped floss tightens on the needle, insert the needle right next to the point where you brought your needle up through your work.
  5. Pull your floss through to the back until a knot is formed.
  6. Move over to the next diamond center and repeat steps until all diamonds have a French knot stitched in the center.

That's it for today!  Pretty, isn't it?!  One more sashing strip to go and then we'll talk about finishing touches!

And by the way, if you're looking for ideas for a last-minute handmade gift or if the polar vortex is getting you down, I've got the solution!  It's my Posies mini quilt!  You can find the free tutorial for this sweet little project now at the Moda Bake Shop

See you back here Wednesday for Day 11!