Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Humble Rail Fence Quilt

The Rail Fence is not just for beginner's, it's fast, it's versatile, and it looks great in scraps. You can choose any number of rails and the strip width to give you the size block you want or even use your strings which is another version on my to do list.

Hi, I'm Mary Johnson and I blog and quilt over at Mary Quilts - Making Scrap Quilts from Stash. As today's guest blogger I'd like to share some of my Rail Fence quilts and a brief tutorial... brief because they're so simple to make there's not much you need to know before heading to your stash to whip one up yourself.

For me strip size is often dictated by leftover strips from another project. Rail Fence quilts are perfect leftover projects and because I make scrap quilts, I rarely pull all those fabrics out for just one quilt.

Here's a two rail fence made with leftover 2.5 inch strips. Even though the colors of the rails are, black, and white... many fabrics were used.

Here's another variation. Three rails, with a larger middle rail. A little more controlled with a single brown fabric but lots of greens. The middle rail would be great for fabrics you want to showcase, perhaps an I Spy quilt for a child.

How about a three rail fence dressed up with some stars? These rails are 2.5 inches and in these colors it makes an excellent Quilt of Valor.

Or this very scrappy three rail fence with leaves scattered throughout. Again, three rails but this time using 2 inch strips. See what I mean about lots of variations?

I've even made a wonky version as another Quilt of Valor

So now that you've seen some of my previous Rail Fence quilts, let's make a quick gift or donation top. This quilt will measure 45x60 inches and be set 6 x 8 blocks.

I just finished another kiddie quilt in green and purple so while I have those fabrics out I'll make a five rail fence using 2 inch strips. That will give me a 7.5 inch finished block.

Step one cut a bunch of 2 inch strips - I use everything from short strips that will make one block to WOF strips that will make five blocks.

We're going to sew strip sets alternating three purples and two greens, starting and ending with a purple.

Now we'll sub cut those into 8 inch blocks but first measure the width of your strip sets...if you're like me, yours may not measure exactly 8 inches. This is a good time to adjust the size of your blocks to your measurement so the blocks will go together easily and not need trimming or squaring up.
I pressed all my seams to the purple but since you'll be alternating the direction of the blocks there won't be seams to match up until you're sewing the blocks into rows. Throw the blocks up on the design wall, alternating the direction of the rails every other block starting with a block with the rails in the vertical position.

Once your blocks are arranged like you want them, assemble the top, add some allover quilting and you'll have a quick gift or donation quilt from stash!

How easy is that? Click on the links under each of the quilts to go to the page on my website with brief instructions. To see my latest Rail Fence idea check this blog post.

Thank you for having me as a guest today, I enjoyed sharing with you. Hope to see you again!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dot Dot Dash Quilt Tutorial

Hi, I'm Karen Maxwell from Lisnaweary Quilts and I am thrilled that Madame Samm has asked me to be a guest on Stash Manicure, Sew We Quilt.

I'm from Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, where I live with my husband who is a farmer and our four children (a boy and 3 girls).

I love patchwork: modern, traditional, folk doesn't matter..I love it all!

Anyway, I thought I would show you a little wall hanging I made last year from Irish Linen, that just about sums me up!

Enough about me, here is the tutorial for the Dot Dot Dash Quilt, which I made for the Moda Bakeshop! (Its made using Moda's Hoopla fabric range)

This quilt could just as easily be made with scraps from your fabric stash, just add some solid background fabric.

Finished size 66" x 90"


1 Hoopla Jelly Roll

2yds Moda Solid White Bleached

1 1/2yds green floral fabric

1yd green check fabric

backing: 5yds dot fabric

Instructions:From the jelly roll, pick out 15 strips - 5 sets of 3 strips. Trim off selvages. (strips should measure 42 1/2")

Sew together in groups of threes, along the length of the strips.From remaining 25 strips: cut two 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" squares from 11 strips and one 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" square from the remaining 14 strips - 36 squares in total.

From the background cut:

twelve 2 1/2" x 42 1/2" strips

six 2 1/2" x 13 3/4" strips

three 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" strips

thirty three 2 1/2" x 3" strips

Sew a 2 1/2" x 3" white piece and 2 1/2" coloured square together, then alternate white and coloured again until there are four coloured squares. Sew a 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" white piece to the final coloured square. Sew a coloured square to this, and again alternate between white and coloured until there are four coloured squares, finish the strip with a 2 1/2" x 3" white piece. Press well. Strip should measure 42 1/2". Make 3 strips.

Sew a 2 1/2" x 13 3/4" white strip to a coloured square, then alternate between 2 1/2" x 3" white pieces and 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" coloured squares until there are four coloured squares. Sew a 2 1/2" x 13 3/4" white piece to the end. Press well. Strip should measure 42 1/2". Make 3 strips.

For each of the six strips: sew a 2 1/2" x 42 1/2" strip to either side of the length of the strip.

Each strip should measure 6 1/2" x 42 1/2".

Starting with a white background strip with 8 coloured squares, arrange the eleven strips as shown in the photo, alternating between coloured and white strips.

Sew strips together and press well.

1st border: from green floral fabric, cut six 6 1/2" x Width of Fabric.

First sew on top and bottom borders, piece together and sew on side borders.

2nd border: from white solid fabric, cut seven 2 1/2" x Width of Fabric.

Piece together and sew on quilt.

Sew remaining 25 strips from jelly roll together along the length of the strips, press well. (Some will be different lengths)

Fold over, right sides together, sew first and last strips together. This makes a sort of tube.

Place tube flat on the cutting board, trim off selvages, and cut tube into 2 1/2" strips.

You should end up with lots of hoops.

Unpick one of the seams anywhere in the hoop.

Sew on 4 more squares (from one of the other hoops); this gives a strip of 29 squares. Make 4 of these strips.

Make four more strips in a similar way, this time make sure you have 45 squares in each strip! Make 4 of these strips.

For top and bottom chequered border, sew two stips of the 29 square strips together along the length of the strip.

Repeat for side borders using 45 square strips. Press well.

Pin top and bottom borders to the quilt top.

Sew in place. Nearly finished...

Pin and sew chequered border to sides of quilt top.Layer backing, wadding and quilt top, quilt as desired. Sew on binding. Remember the quilt label!

My quilt was long arm quilted by Yvonne McKee with beautiful butterflies.

In Ireland we don't normally have this much snow! Usually, it disappears very quickly, this year it stayed around for weeks! I was lucky - it gave me a perfect backdrop for my photos.

My eldest daughter isn't usually this camera shy!

..and our dog isn't usually this obedient!

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial, pop over to my blog or website for more tutorials, chat and photos of sewing and Ireland!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


  Hi everyone! I'm Cara from CaraQuilts and I am soooo excited to be here!
 Thank you Madame Samm for inviting me! I'm truly honoured!

I'll tell you a bit about me. I design quilts for Moda Bake Shop, and will soon be doing some for sale patterns as well for my company, CaraQuilts Designs! I also am the designer of Stitchin Heaven's Charm school, and Perse-Anality monthly clubs.
Every Tuesday I host a twitter chat, Talkin Tuesdays, from 9-11 pm EST. We have sponsors and giveaways every week and just have a great time talking about fabric, sewing, quilting and whatever else comes up! You can find out more on either my blog, CaraQuilts, or the Talkin Tuesday blog.

And between all that I have a very special 7 year old daughter who has more energy then should be allowed! And the two most adorable Maltese dogs, who absolutely love to snuggle up in quilts, whether they're ready for it or not!

  Stash Manicure is such a fantastic resource for all us quilters!! I love reading everyone's suggestion for managing their stash and scraps. So many ideas!
For me I find it necessary to cut my scraps as I go. Well of course I cut them as I go or they wouldn't be scraps would they? LOL
What I mean is as I'm cutting a project and I know I'm done with a fabric I will take the scraps and cut them into the largest possible piece, to the 1/2". For example, a 4 3/4" x 6 3/4" piece will be trimmed to 4 1/2" square, and 2 2" squares.
If I don't do this as I go I find I just end up throwing all the pieces in a shopping bag, and I forget about them and they never get used. This way they can be put in baskets with like sized pieces and whenever I need them I know if I go to that basket it will have the right size, and all I have to do is look for the right colour or value.
I also throw all my left over precut pieces into the baskets, otherwise they end up lonely and unused! And how sad is that! With so many designers lines being similar in feel and colour, you'd be surprised how quickly you can have a new jelly roll or charm pack, made totally of scraps!!
Because scraps take up so much space I keep smaller baskets near the cutting table and when they're full I transfer to the larger, often less attractive, tupperwares.
Because these are soooo much cuter than these
Which is still better than this!

  Another thing I like to do is stitch scraps together and then use them as yardage. This is especially fun for applique. It give projects a really interesting look, and there is no way two will ever be the same!

I know a lot of people love to make HSTs with their scraps and once they have a gazillion and one turn them into some of the awesome scrap quilt patterns out there. Me? I love nine patches. LOVE them. And the nine patch is so versatile! Here's a cute way to put them together to get something a bit more interesting than just straight ones. Play with the setting, add plain blocks or snowball blocks, and you've got some super easy, and fun, quilts!
 Decide on the size you want your nine patches, it's easiest if it's a multiple of 3, and whenever you have finished a project take some of it's scraps and make up some nine patches. Put them in a basket.  Or raid you scraps for the right colour if you want it to be more monochromatic. If you want to do a checkerboard, everytime you do one switch up the light and darks, so which one has 5 pieces and which has 4, and eventually you will have about an equal number.
If you have strips use them! Just stitch together dark, light, dark or light, dark, light, and then cut them into smaller segments. You don't have to use them all together, you can put them aside until you have enough to make each nine patch from different strip sets.
Here are some setting ideas. The chains use a snowball as the alternate. The boxes one uses plain white strips, the same size as the nine patches. This one require fewer nine patches but also uses smaller ones.

  To make the box of ninepatches, sash the middle nine patch with fabric the same width as the nine patch, so if it's a 3" finished nine patch add a 3.5" square to the top and bottom, and then a 3.5" x 9.5" strip to either side. Alternate dark and light nine patches, for around the sashing. For the sides go light, dark, light. Add to the sides. For the top and bottom go dark, light, dark, light, dark. Stitch to the top and bottom. Make 9 of these blocks and sash them in a 3 x 3 setting.

Now if you read through all that I have a reward for you! Leave me a  comment here and then head over to my blog for a giveaway sponsored by Stitchin Heaven!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Four Patch Pillow Tutorial

Hello there!! I'm KarrieLyne from Freckled Whimsy and I'm here to bring you a pillow tutorial! Thank you so much Madame Samm for inviting me to guest blog here on Stash Manicure!! 

This pillow actually came about because I was asked to make an "angel pillow" for a pillow swap and of course I couldn't say no! I had a lot of requests for a tutorial on this so I am really excited to bring it to you here! 

The great thing about this pillow is that it is simple to put together but also because you can use your scraps! We all need to use those up, right? For my pillow, I had some scraps left from Patty Young's Sanctuary line so I went with that, but feel free to mix up the lines and just use what you have on hand. You can't go wrong. :)


Scraps - enough to cut 64 squares that are 2.5" square. 
1 yard of background fabric to use for sashing and back of pillow
1 piece of light muslin 23" x 23"
1 piece of quilt batting 23" x 23"
thread to piece and quilt your pillow top


From your stash, cut 64 squares measuring 2.5" x 2.5".

From your background fabric cut 3 strips measuring 1.5" x width of fabric
     *sub-cut 12 pieces measuring 1.5" x 4.5"
     *sub-cut 3 pieces measuring 1.5" x 19.5"

From your background fabric cut 2 strips measuring 1" x width of fabric
     *sub-cut 2 pieces measuring 1" x 19.5"
     *sub-cut 2 pieces measuring 1" x 20.5"

From the background fabric, cut two pieces measuring 20.5" x 16.5" for the pillow back


You need to start by making 16 four-patch blocks. You can make these as random as you want or you can lay them out first before you start sewing. It's up to you. 

To make the four-patch, start by laying out 4 squares:

Flip the right pieces over to the left pieces so that right sides are together:

  Sew 1/4" seam:

To make this go faster, you can pair up (right sides together) 32 squares and chain sew them together.

Pair up these two-patches and press them in opposite directions so the seams will nest. 

Carefully match the seams together and sew 2 two-patches together. Press to one side. 

Choose 12 of your four-patches and sew a background piece measuring 1.5" x 4.5" to the right side of each of the 12. Press to the background fabric. 

Lay out your pieces as that the 4-patches that do not have  a background piece attached are all along the right side

Sew into rows.  Press to the background fabric. 

Now sew a background piece measuring 1.5" x 19.5" to the bottoms of rows 1, 2, & 3.  

Press to the background fabric. 

Sew these 4 rows together. Take care to match up your sashing pieces. Press to background fabric. 

Your piece should now measure 19.5" x 19.5". 

To square it up to 20.5" add your 1" strips to all 4 sides, starting with the 19.5" strips adding them to the left and right side. Then add the 20.5" pieces to the top and bottom.  Press to the background fabric. 

Your next step will be to quilt it, just like you would a quilt. I use warm and natural batting and for the back (since you won't see it) I use a light muslin. This makes the quilting part easier.

Layer your pieces just as you would a quilt: Backing face down, batting, pillow top face up. Pin baste if you like and quilt.  

For mine, I used painters tape to create a grid.

Place a piece of tape corner to corner and sew along that line. 

Remove tape and replace along the other diagonal, corner to corner. Sew along that line. 

Now you have guides to sew "v's" into your pillow top. Just sew along these lines equal distances apart. I use a 1/2" spacing .

Now trim your pillow top to 20.5" squared.

For the back of the pillow cut two pieces measuring 20.5" x 16.5".

Along the 20.5" side, fold over the edge 1/2"  wrong sides together and press. Fold over again on itself, press again, and sew 1/8" from the first folded edge. 

Place these pieces right sides together with your pillow top and with the folded edges facing in towards the middle. Pin in place. 

Sew 1/4" around all the edges making sure to back stitch once or even twice over the spots where you have the folded edges. These will be high stress points when taking the pillow out and putting it in so you want it to be secure. 

Now just turn your pillow cover right side out and stuff it with a 20" pillow form and enjoy!!! 


If you make one of these pillows from my tutorial, I'd love to see it! Please feel free to add it to my Flickr pool HERE so I can ohhhhh and ahaaaa over them all! :)

Also, if you'd like this in a PDF to print or save for later, click HERE to download it!

Much Love!!!

 Editors note. I left a message for KarrieLyne that her Pdf file is not linking, you can try it now..she just had to add to PUBLIC
status we are her peeps...thanks KarrieLyne