Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Peace on Earth - A Mystery Quilt - Day 12

Well, here we are -- it's December 23rd and the final day for our Peace on Earth mystery quilts!  

Today we're going to be adding the finishing touches to our quilts.  I'm going to show you pictures of how I chose to finish my quilt, but please feel free to embellish your quilt however you like!  This is the time to play and really personalize your project.

I chose to use embroidery to embellish my quilt, and if you'd like to go that route, you'll need red, green, gold, blue, and ecru embroidery floss and red and green size 8 perle cotton -- again, you can definitely substitute embroidery floss for the perle cotton.

I used only simple embroidery stitches for my embellishments, specifically running stitch, back stitch, lazy daisy stitch, and french knots.  We've already used the back stitch, but if you're unsure how to do the other stitches, you can refer again to DMC's embroidery stitch guide.  And finally, I used two strands of embroidery floss for all of the stitching unless otherwise indicated.  Let's get started:

Finishing Peace on Earth:


Add candles to the cabin's windows using ecru floss and a straight stitch.  The flames and holly leave are a made with lazy daisy stitches in gold floss and green floss, respectively.  And the berry clusters are made with three french knots each.


To mark a circle for the wreath on your cabin's door, simple use a marking pencil and trace around a dime or a small button.  Use a back stitch and green floss to stitch around the circle.  The bow is made with red floss and two lazy daisy stitches.  Use two longish straight stitches for the ribbon ends.

Roof Line:

Use green floss and a back stitch to outline the cabin's roof.  Then stitch angled single stitches randomly along the back stitched line to look like garland.  Finish up by stitching french knots every so often using red floss.

Pine Tree:

Decorate the tree using gold floss and a running stitch to look like garland.  Then use red and blue floss and french knots to stitch ornaments on your tree.  You could also use seed beads in place of the french knots if you like.


Layer backing, batting, and embellished quilt top together and baste.  I planned to do very little quilting on this project, so I decided to baste my quilt by lightly spraying basting adhesive between each layer.  I then marked a line ¼" inside each of the plain inner border seams and quilted using big stitch quilting.  Big stitch quilting is simply a big (" - ¼") running stitch.  I used green perle cotton on the outside marked line and red perle cotton on the inside marked line.  But remember, if you don't have perle cotton, you can use two-three strands of embroidery floss for this step.  

Here's a close-up of a corner of the quilted border -- I LOVE how the intersection of the green and red quilting resembles plaid.

That's all the quilting I did.  I stopped quilting because I couldn't wait to finish the quilt and because it is so small and light that it doesn't really require more, but quilt on if you like!  You could add texture to the cabin by quilting lines to look like logs or give dimension to the tree by quilting along the garland.  Or you could quilt around the wool leaves and letters and alongside the embroidered vine.  

After you finish quilting, trim your quilt and bind in a dark blue print.  

And that's it!  You've finished your Peace on Earth quilt!  Hooray!!!  The mystery is solved -- and just in time for Christmas!

I've had so much fun rolling out this little project that I'm already planning to do a new holiday mystery quilt next year.  I'd love to hear any suggestions or comments that you might have about how I could improve the experience.

I'd also LOVE to see pictures of your finished Peace on Earth quilts -- you can send them to me at  Let me know if you'd like me to post a picture of your quilt on my blog -- show and tell anyone?!

Thank you so much for following along over the past few weeks.  I wish you all the happiest of holidays and a new year filled with joy and, of course, peace! 

Cheers!  Jen

Monday, December 21, 2015

Peace on Earth - A Mystery Quilt - Day 11

It's Day 11 and today we're assembling our quilt tops!  Finally!!

You'll need to gather the components you've already made and cut just a few more patches/strips before we get started:

Dark Blue Print
4 -- 1¼" x 3½" (I cut mine from one fabric, but you can use different fabrics if you like)
4 -- 2" x 12½" (these should be cut from the same fabric if possible)

Here we go!

Peace on Earth Quilt Assembly:

1.  Lay out the three Friendship Stars from Day 1 as follows:

2.  Stitch together -- unit should measure 3½" x 9½".

3.  Lay out the 10 half square triangles and two 2" x 2" squares from Day 2 in rows as follows -- notice the placement of the lighter dark blue prints:

4.  Stitch together -- unit should measure 3½" x 9½".

5.  Lay out pine tree and cabin from Days 3 and 4 as follows:

6.  Stitch together and remove foundation paper from behind blocks -- unit should measure 6½" x 9½" (oops forgot the photo for that one, but you'll see what it looks like below!)

7.  Lay out the units from steps 1-6 as follows:

8.  Stitch together and pause to admire your work!  Quilt center should now measure 9½" x 12½".

9.  Lay out quilt center and four 2" x 12½" dark blue print strips (cut today) as follows:

10.  Stitch strips to left and right sides of quilt center first and then to top and bottom, pressing seams towards the dark blue print strips.  Now your quilt center should measure 12½" x 15½".

11.  Lay out your two Shoo Fly blocks (Day 5), three Double Pinwheel blocks (Day 6), and the four dark blue print 1¼" x 3½" rectangles that you cut today as follows:

12.  Stitch together -- unit should measure 3½" x 18½".

13.  And now, drum roll please..... lay out the quilt center, the unit you made in steps 11-12, the Sawtooth Star blocks from Day 7, and the wool appliqué components that you made on Days 8, 9, and 10 as follows:

14.  Almost there!!!  Stitch together the holly leaf/vine components and Sawtooth Star flying geese units to finish your side borders.  Then stitch together the "peace" wool appliqué component and the remainder of your Sawtooth Stars to make the bottom border.

14. Stitch side borders to quilt center -- quilt should now measure  15½" x 18½".

15.  And finally, stitch top and bottom borders to quilt which should now measure 18½" x 21½".

Ta-da!  You've finished your quilt top -- pretty, isn't it!  But the mystery is not yet fully solved.  Next time, I'll be revealing the finishing touches that really make this little quilt sing.

In the meantime, pat yourself on the back and pour yourself a glass of wine -- although not simultaneously, that might get messy.  Well done!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Peace on Earth - A Mystery Quilt - Day 10

Day 10 and the last weekend before Christmas -- yikes!!  Lots to do today, so today's post is going to be a short one.  We're doing wool appliqué again and making the final component of our mystery quilts -- so exciting!

In my Day 9 post, I wrote about the two different methods I use for wool appliqué (freezer paper and fusible web) and how I choose my method depending on the project.  This component features appliquéd lettering and because I wanted to be very sure that the letters didn't shift as I stitched them down, I chose to use the fusible web method.  Let's get started:

You'll need:

Dark Blue Print
1 -- 3½" x 10½" rectangle

Brown felted wool

You'll also need brown embroidery floss.

Here's an idea of what you'll be making:

We're appliquéing the word "peace" -- hence the name of the quilt.  Ah, it's all starting to become clear!  

I used a variety of brown wools for my letters, but you can use just one or choose a different color or even use flannel or quilting cottons -- whatever you like.  Click here for the link to the lettering templates.  You'll see that I've provided standard and reversed templates for the "peace" lettering.  If you choose to use the freezer paper method, you'll want to use the standard templates.  For the fusible web method, use the reversed templates.  Refer back to my Day 9 post for detailed instructions about appliquéing using the fusible web method.

Today should be pretty easy -- just prepare your appliqué letters, center them on your 3½" x 10½" rectangle, and stitch them down, preferably with an egg nog at your side and your favorite Christmas movie on in the background. 

Here's a look at my finished "peace".

Only two more days left!  Next time we'll assemble our little quilts and I can't wait for you to see how it all comes together!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Peace on Earth - A Mystery Quilt - Day 9

Day 9 already!  I can't believe how far we've come!

Today we are going to finish up the components that we started on Day 8 with buttons and wool appliqué.

As much as I love embroidery, wool appliqué is my favorite way to embellish a project.  The wool itself is beautiful -- tactile and rich -- and the colors, especially the hand-dyed colors, are just gorgeous.  And appliquéing with wool couldn't be easier.  Once wool is felted, it won't fray like quilting cottons, so there's no need to turn the edge before appliquéing it.  You just cut out your shape, stitch it down, and you're done!

Here's what we're going to do today:

You'll need ten red " -  ⁷⁄₁₆" buttons and ten holly leaves -- click here for the template.

First let's talk about the wool.  I used a variety of green wools for my holly leaves, but you can absolutely use just one.  You can find felted or washed wool in most quilt shops now, but if your wool isn't felted, you'll need to do that first.  I usually felt my wool in the washing machine.  I toss it in with a few pairs of jeans (seems to help work the fibers better), wash it with hot water, and then dry it most of the way in the drier, laying it flat to dry completely.

You can prepare your appliqué shapes in a couple of different ways.  For this project, I used a freezer paper method.  First use your template to trace ten holly leaves on the dull side of your freezer paper.  Using a wool setting on your iron, lightly press the freezer paper to your wool -- doesn't matter which side, there isn't really a wrong side on wool.  Cut your holly leaves out on the line using sharp scissors and remove the freezer paper.  Then simply pin each leaf in place.

To appliqué the holly leaves use a single strand of embroidery floss in a color that matches your wool.  I used a whip stitch to appliqué my holly leaves, but you can use a blanket stitch if you prefer.  Here are some close-up photos to give you an idea of how I stitch my appliqués: 

I'm right handed, so I tend to work from left to right.  I bring my needle up through the wool about 1/16" from the edge...

Then I push my needle back down through the right side of the fabric right at the edge of the wool shape and back up through the wool 1/16" further along, pulling the floss through and continuing around the entire edge of the shape.

Pull your floss through your layers of fabric and wool firmly enough that it holds the shape in place, but not so tightly that it distorts your work.  The stitches will be on an angle on the wrong side of your work, but on the right side, the stitches should be straight and run perpendicular to the leaf's edge.  For the points of the holly leaves, I like to do the stitches to the left and right of the points first, and then do a slightly longer stitch directly over each point.

As I mentioned above, there's another way to prepare your appliqué shapes using lightweight fusible web (and FYI, I use Heat N Bond Lite iron-on adhesive).  Using fusible web can be great because it holds your shapes in place without pins and can help prevent fraying, especially with sharp points or thin pieces of wool.  The downsides are that pressing your shapes in place can make the wool lose some of its texture or dimension and once your shapes are fused, they can't be moved if you change your mind.  I use both the freezer paper and fusible web techniques -- just depends on the project.

To use fusible web, you would just trace your holly leaves onto the paper side of a piece of fusible web and lightly press the fusible web to your wool for a few seconds.  Then cut the holly leaves out on the line and remove the paper backing.  Place your holly leaves on your background fabric as desired and then press in place.  Because the wool is thicker than quilting cotton, it can take a few seconds (10-12 or so) to fuse it in place.  I like to use a piece of muslin as a pressing cloth on top of my wool for this step to prevent the wool fibers from scorching.  After fusing your shapes in place, you can also flip your work over and press from the back for another 10 seconds or so to make sure it's really fused down.  Then appliqué your shapes in place as outlined above.

And by the way, if you don't have wool or don't care for the look of it, you can definitely substitute flannel or quilting cotton and your favorite appliqué method for the holly leaves.  Use what you have and what you like -- this is your project!

Back to today's mystery quilt component!  After you've appliquéd all ten of your holly leaves in place, stitch your buttons down using a thread color of your choice -- I used brown.  Here's another look at the finished product:

And that, my fellow quilters, is it for today!  We've got one more component to make next time and then we're moving on to assembling our quilt tops.  Can't wait!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Peace on Earth - A Mystery Quilt - Day 8

It's December 15th and Day 8!  Time to turn off your sewing machine, make a cup of tea, and find a comfy chair, because today we are going to embroider.

I love embroidery!  I find the slow, rhythmic pace therapeutic and even though I typically use only simple stitches, I think that patchwork paired with embroidery is a killer combination.  So here we go!

Today you'll need:

Dark Blue Print:
2 -- 3½" x 14½" rectangles (these can be cut from the same fabric or from two different fabrics)

brown embroidery floss or size 8 perle cotton

We're going to be embroidering a brown vine onto our dark blue print rectangles -- click here for the pattern.  I drew dotted lines on the pattern to help you center the vine on your fabric rectangles.  Don't worry that the vine doesn't extend the full length of the fabric, we'll be adding more to this component later on.

I used a light box to help transfer the pattern onto my fabric.  Don't have a light box?  Try holding your fabric and pattern up to a window or placing a lamp under a glass table or you could use transfer paper -- there are no rules here.  Transfer the vine pattern onto one rectangle and then flip the pattern over before transferring the vine onto the second rectangle.  Here's what you should end up with:

And now the fun part!  To embroider the vines, use either two strands of brown embroidery floss or one strand of brown size 8 perle cotton and a back stitch.  The back stitch is one of my faves.  It's a fast stitch and perfect for vines, stems, and lettering.  If you're not familiar with the back stitch, click here to check out DMC's excellent embroidery stitch guide for instructions.

Just a quick note:  I don't always use an embroidery hoop when embroidering, but because these rectangles are relatively small and not stitched to anything else yet, I'd suggest using a hoop for this step.  The hoop will keep your fabric taut and help you to make even, flat stitches.  After you're finished stitching, lightly press the dark blue rectangles from the wrong side.

And voilà!  Your finished vines should look something like this:

Fun, right?!  Next time we'll try out some wool appliqué -- yum!!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Peace on Earth - A Mystery Quilt - Day 7

It's Day 7 and our last day of piecing blocks.  Today we're going to work on one of my all-time favorite blocks -- the Sawtooth Star.

Here's a Sawtooth Star in the colors we're going to be using today.

But we're actually going to do something a little bit different.  We're going to make the components for two Sawtooth Stars, but we're not going to finish the blocks just yet.  We'll be making...

Two of these:

And one each of these:

For each of your two "almost" Sawtooth Stars, you'll need:

Red Print:
1 -- 2½" x 2½" square

Green Print:
8 -- 1½" x 1½" squares

Dark Blue Print:
3 -- 1½" x 1½" squares
4 -- 1½" x 2½" rectangles

Assemble Sawtooth Star Blocks:
1.  On the wrong side of each green print 1½" x 1½" square, use a ruler and pen or pencil to mark a diagonal line from corner to corner.

2.  Layer a green print 1½" x 1½" square atop the left side of a dark blue print 1½" x 2½" rectangle as follows:

3.  Stitch along drawn line, press seam open towards the green print, and trim seam allowance to ¼".

4.  Layer a second green print 1½" x 1½" square atop the right side of the unit created above as follows:

5.  Stitch along drawn line, press seam open towards green print, and trim seam allowance to ¼".

6.  Your finished flying geese unit (aka the side of a Sawtooth Star block) should measure 1½" x 2½" (sorry about the low contrast photos, I was working at night!).  Repeat steps 2-5 to make 4 flying geese units for each Sawtooth Star block (that's 8 total).

7.  Lay out one flying geese unit and 2 dark blue print 1½" x 1½" squares as follows (daytime photos, yay!).  Stitch together and press seams towards the dark blue print.  Make one of these units for each Sawtooth Star block (2 total).

8.  Lay out one flying geese unit and 1 dark blue print 1½" x 1½" square as follows.  Stitch together and press seam towards the dark blue print.  For your second Sawtooth Star block, make the same unit, but stitch the dark blue print 1½" x 1½" square to the left side of the flying geese unit.  If this is confusing make sure to read to the bottom of the instructions to see a photo of the end result.

 9.  Lay out two flying geese units and 1 red print 2½" x 2½" square as follows.  Stitch together and press seams towards the red print.  Repeat for second Sawtooth Star block.

10.  Lay out units created in steps 7 and 9 above as follows.  Stitch together and press seam towards the red print.  Repeat for second Sawtooth Star block.

You should end up with the following:

Strange, I know, and hard not finish off these pretty little blocks, but trust me, I've got a plan!

As I mentioned in my first post, we'll be doing some simple embroidery and wool appliqué with this project, and I thought it might be helpful for you to know what materials you'll need.

We'll be using red, green, blue, ecru, and gold embroidery floss.  I used DMC's #221 (red), #936 (green), and #796 (blue).  The gold I used was a variegated Valdani floss that I had lying around.  I also used some size 8 DMC perle cotton in brown (#898), green (#937), and red (#815) because I happened to have them on hand, but you can absolutely use all embroidery floss -- it's cheaper and much more accessible.

For the wool appliqué we'll be using green...


and brown...

You won't need much wool -- a 2½" x 6" piece of green and a 2½" x 8" piece of brown should do.  I actually used scraps of different green and brown wools, but this is not necessary.  And if you don't have access to wool, feel free to substitute flannel or quilting cottons.

Finally, you'll need 10 red buttons.  I used a variety of " and ⁷⁄₁₆" buttons, but if you prefer, all of your buttons can be the same -- whichever is easiest for you.

That's it for today!  Enjoy your Sunday and happy quilting!