Friday, November 17, 2017

Tutorial: Handmade Pillows Using a Flour Sack Towel

About a week ago, I shared over on Instagram a pillow I made using a cute Christmas Flour Sack towel I found at Walmart. Yes. Walmart. The response was way more than I ever expected. I honestly think that we collectively as Instagram quilters have caused a run on these towels at Walmart.

In my store they were located in the seasonal houseware section near the new Pioneer Woman Christmas collection. I didn't find them with the main section of dish towels. You can only buy them in store, but you can view them online and check your local inventory.

Here are links to the two deigns I used so you can check inventory near you. There are other designs, but I didn't link them all here. You can find them by searching for 'holiday flour sack towel'.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Meet Me Under the Mistletoe 

I really think they turned out super cute and I hope you enjoy making one, or several this Christmas season!

  To make one 18" pillow you will need:

1 flour sack towel *
3/4 yd of fabric for borders and backing*
* There is enough toweling to use for the envelope back, but you will need two towels. If you do this you will only need 1/4 yd fabric for the borders. If you use the toweling for the envelope back, you can use the existing hem from the towel. Cut two pieces 18" x 13.5". The toweling is thin, so I did reinforce the pieces with Pellon SF101.
14" square of fusible interfacing, I love to use Pellon SF101
2 1/4 yds pom pom trim - I purchased mine from Creative Trims on Etsy, this type specifically

Seam allowances are 1/4" unless otherwise stated. 

1. Unfold the towel and unpick the bottom hem.  Yes, I know I hate using my seam ripper too. However, you need the extra material to square up the design and center everything nicely. It takes about 2 minutes and it's worth it. Iron towel to remove wrinkles and creases. 

2. Measure the design from top to bottom to determine the size of the center.  You want some white space around the design, so don't measure too close.  For the towels I used, I decided on 13.5" FINISHED /14" UNFINISHED. You will cut the towel design to 14" square.

 3. To make this a little easier and to accurately center the design, cut a piece of fusible interfacing 14" square or the same size as the UNFINISHED center. Fold this into quarters, and finger press to crease.

4. Take the towel and fold in half as shown below. You are lining up the top and bottom of the design. When I folded it, I lined up the holly leaves from the top and bottom. The towel is thin enough that you can see through or you can hold it up to a sunny window if needed.  Finger press or press using an iron to create a crease.

5. Repeat in the other direction, this time lining up the sides of the design.  Press to crease.

6. Unfold the towel and interfacing. You will have creases on the towel and interfacing. Place towel right side down and place the interfacing on the back of the towel, adhesive side down.  Line up the creases to center the design. (This was hard to photograph because it also shows all the other creases, but it was easy enough to line up.) Adhere the interfacing following the manufacturer's directions.  After adhering, trim leaving about 1/4" on each side.

7. Do a final trim to square up the center to 14" square. Your design is now perfectly centered! Press well.

8.  Next cut your borders.  I wanted my pillow to finish at 18".

Here's the math incase you want to make a different size
18" (finished pillow)  - 13.5" (finished center) = 4.5"
4.5" / 2 (for two borders) = 2.25" (finished borders)  + .5" (seam allowance) = 2.75" unfinished borders/what you will cut your borders

Cut two 2.75" x WOF strips for your borders. Attach borders as you would for a quilt. Press borders away from the center.

9. I have a serger and at this point, I serge all my raw edges. Totally optional.

You now have a completed pillow top! Yay!

For finishing you have quite a few options. If you choose to add pom pom trim, follow the steps below.  For the other steps in completing a pillow, refer to my post Tips for Perfect Pillows and refer to the appropriate sections.

To learn how to prepare your envelope backing pieces scroll down to section 3.
For an 18" pillow you will cut {2} envelope backing pieces 13"x 18".

To learn how to attach the envelope backing pieces scroll down to section 4.
If you add pom pom trim, follow the steps for an UNBOUND pillow.

To learn how to bind a pillow scroll down to section 5.
First, attach the backing pieces as outlined in section 4 for a BOUND pillow.

Attaching Pom Pom Trim

I love attaching pom pom trim to pillows! It totally gives a fun and unique look and I think it's a little quicker than binding a pillow.

1. First, you want a mark around the perimeter of the pillow to line up your trim. Since I serge around all my pillows, I use one of the stitching lines from my serger as my mark. If you don't serge your pillow top, and most probably won't, I recommend sewing a basting stitch around the perimeter of your pillow about an 1/8" away from the edge. (Do this in a contrasting color so you can see the line.) I do this so the edging from the pom pom trim isn't lost in the seam allowance. You could also mark with a pencil or other marking tool. Do whatever is easiest and makes sense to you!

2. Starting from the bottom center, line up your pom pom trim with your mark and with the pom poms towards the center of your pillow.  Leave a nice tail of pom pom trim free so you can overlap the ends when you finish.  Sew the pom pom trim using a narrow and short zig zag stitch. If you use a wide zig zag, you will pull the edge of the fabric in and you will loose the fabric edge. It's SO much easier to sew it down with a zig zag stitch rather than a straight stitch. Trust me. Use a matching thread color so it blends in nicely if you sew beyond the future seam allowance.  Make sure to sew on the actual trim and not go off onto the fabric too much.

3. When you get to a corner, stop about 1/2" from the edge and remove the pillow top from your machine. Work the trim to follow the corner (it does this very easily) and start sewing from the adjacent side. Continue all the way around the pillow.

4. As you approach the beginning, you may need to clip off a few of the pom poms so you can overlap the ends. Overlap the ends and point the ends away from the pillow top as shown below.

5. Continue sewing over the overlapped trim, maintaining the seam allowance. Backstitch to secure. I prefer to leave the tails long, just in case, so I don't trim.

6. You've attached your trim! Yay! To finish your pillow, refer to my post Tips for Perfect Pillows and scroll down to section 4 and follow the steps for an UNBOUND pillow. When I sew on my envelope backing pieces I use a 3/8" seam allowance. Also make sure all your cute pom poms stay turned towards to the center of your pillow.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Scallop Border Guide

Today I'm happy to share with you a guide I've been working on forever it seems. It's called the Scallop Border Guide and it details FULL directions and printables so you can add a scallop border to ANY quilt. It does require some quilty math, but I've done almost all the work for you by making printable worksheets to workout all the math. Just take a few simple measurements and you'll be off!

I added my first scalloped border to my Christmas Dwell (the Dwell pattern comes from the book Simply Retro by Camille Roskelley) quilt I made years ago. I wanted to add a border to finish off the quilt, but knew a regular border wasn't the look I wanted. After seeing some vintage quilts with a pieced scalloped border, I knew exactly what my quilt needed. After many google and Pinterest searches, I couldn't find a straight-forward method for adding a scalloped border. So I put my math skills to use and tried to figure it out on my own. Wow! That first time was tricky because my quilt wasn't divisible by the same number all the way around my quilt. I had some funky numbers and swore off ever doing it again! Afterwards, I had the thought to add an additional background border to "even" everything out so I could find a divisible number. Sure enough, that was the trick that worked! Now I've added scallop borders to at least five different projects all using this method. I won't say it's fail proof, but I've never NOT had it work out. 

This guide includes directions, diagrams, full-color photos, and printable worksheets. Please, for your own sake, read ALL the directions before beginning. This is not a complex method, but it does involve quite a bit of math and measuring. Take your time and read ALL the directions before beginning.

I hope you enjoy using this guide to make many beautiful projects!  If you're on Instagram, post your projects using the #ecscallopborderguide or tag me so I can see your projects. 

Download the Scallop Border Guide HERE

Disclaimer: I don't claim to be the creator of a scallop border. However, this is my method that I've used time and time again. Feel free to use for your own quilts and quilts to sell. Please do not redistribute this guide. Rather, share a link to this blog post where the guide can be downloaded directly.  

Disclaimer #2: I've worked and reworked my directions and worksheets many, many times. (If you could see all my drafts with marks and edits.) However, even with that I am still human. All directions and worksheets are given in good faith. I will try my best to answer any questions, but do realize that without seeing how you filled out your individual worksheet and not knowing your exact quilt, I may not be able to answer every single question. However, I will try my best.
 Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Arbor Blossom Blog Tour

Thanks so much for clicking over to my blog today! I'm LeAnne Ballard and welcome! Feel free to follow me over on Instagram as I post there much more often than here.  I'm thrilled to be part of this blog tour introducing Nadra's new line, Arbor Blossom for Riley Blake Fabrics.

I love Nadra's designs and always anticipate her new lines.  I have both of her previous lines in my stash and they are just dreamy! When Nadra reached out to me to participate in her blog tour, I was both extremely flattered and excited!

Today I'm sharing with you a simple and classic pinwheel and patchwork quilt showcasing her beautiful new line. 

Arbor Blossom just says summer to me with its bright and beautiful colors and florals. I knew I wanted to use a classic quilt block for my project and kept coming back to either a pinwheel or patchwork quilt. Since I couldn't decide, I just decided to do both and this sweet quilt was born!

Then to keep things summery and vintage, I added another quilting favorite; a pieced scalloped border. I love adding scallop borders to quilts that feature lots of low volume prints. It frames the quilt slightly softer than a regular border and adds the perfect amount of charm. 

You can find the FREE guide to adding a scallop border to any quilt by clicking HERE.

Thanks again for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you in the comments about what you want to make with Arbor Blossom! Make sure you follow me on Instagram as I post there often. Also check out the list below to see other beautiful projects from some amazing bloggers featuring Arbor Blossom. Happy Wednesday friends!

6-12-2017        Heidi Staples  
6-13-2017        Kim Kruzich    
6-14-2017        LeAnne Ballard
6-15-2017        Allison Jensen
6-16-2017        Veronica Am    
6-17-2017        Nadra Ridgeway

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Christmas Economy Block Quilt - How I'm Making it and Fabrics

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably seen my Christmas Economy Block Quilt.

I've always wanted to make an Economy Block Quilt and after I saw Tasha's darling one last year, I knew it had to happen.

I'm currently in the middle of making this quilt and hope to have it finished in the next few weeks. Every time I post pictures, I get lots of questions about how I'm making it, where I get my fabrics, and other general questions.  So today, I thought I'd put all the information in one convenient spot. 

I used Tasha's tutorial over on Instagram. Her directions are simple and I love that the blocks are oversized so you can trim them down perfectly. My blocks are measuring about 10.5" unfinished, which will be 10" finished. They really are the perfect size for a couple of reasons:
1. They aren't too small that I have to make a kajillion.
2. They are large enough that the center print is perfect for fussy cutting larger scale prints.  I'm making 42 blocks which will yield an approximate 60" x 70" quilt.

Besides Tasha's quilt, my inspiration for this quilt came from Amy Sinbaldi's Christmas quilt I saw on Flickr years ago.

photo credit: Amy Sinbaldi from her Flickr
photo credit: Amy Sinbaldi from her Flickr
My vision has evolved over the years to an economy block quilt, but I still love the vintage look and design of Amy's quilt.  About three years ago I started searching for fabrics. I didn't have any Christmas fabrics like that in my stash, so I slowly began to pick up prints here and there.  When I find a print I love, I purchase at least a 1/2 yard if I want to fussy cut. When purchasing, consider the scale and repeat of the print. If it's larger scale, you may want to get more than a 1/2 yard. If I really love a print and see myself using it for other projects I get at least a yard.

The most asked question when I share my progress on this quilt is where I get all my fabrics. I literally have picked them up from just about everywhere. (local quilt shops, online shops, JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby, my mom's garage, etc.) I'm always on the look for fun vintage/vintage inspired Christmas fabrics.  Like I mentioned above, when I find a print I love, I get at least a 1/2 yard. This is mainly to allow for fussy cutting, but also to use in other Christmas projects. I love sewing for Christmas!

Many of the prints in my quilt are out of print. I struck the jackpot last year on eBay when I found a seller destashing many of the Christmas prints I was searching for. Some of them I paid more than I've ever paid for fabric, or will ever pay again, but it was one of those times I wanted to pay more because of the vision I had for this quilt. So if you have your sights set on some out of print fabrics, be prepared to pay more as they are hard to find.

If you are wanting to collecting some vintage or vintage inspirited Christmas fabrics, here are some of my tips for finding them.

1. Search eBay and Etsy regularly for vintage Christmas prints. Search  using "vintage Santa fabric", "retro Santa fabric","vintage Christmas fabric, etc. Or if you're lucky to know the name or manufacturer of the print try that too. Usually around July/August, I see a big increase of "new" prints since Christmas projects are getting on people's radar.  If I'm looking for a specific type of print, for example candy canes, I would search "vintage candy cane fabric" or just "candy cane fabric". I also search by just manufacturer name because many times the person selling knows who made it but not necessarily the name of the print. I often search "Alexander Henry Christmas fabric" because they are great at producing vintage inspired prints. I do the same for "Timeless Treasures Christmas fabric", "Michael Miller Christmas fabric", etc.

2. JoAnn's. The last few years JoAnn's selection of vintage Christmas fabrics has been fabulous. (With the exception of 2016, which has been pretty terrible in my opinion.) Whenever I mention JoAnn's I get asked about quality. When selecting fabrics, I go off the touch and feel of the fabric.  If it doesn't look or feel right, I don't use it. Here's my thinking, these quilts only come out for about 6 weeks a year, then are put away. They aren't being used everyday or going out to be judged. So for me and my purposes, I'm fine with the quality and haven't had any issues, as long as I stay away from fabrics that don't look or feel right.  I have another Christmas quilt with JoAnn Christmas fabric and I haven't had any issues.  One thing to consider. If you purchase a fabric from JoAnn's with lots of red, navy, or other saturated color, I would definitely prewash to cut down the chance of bleeding. Also make sure you use a Shout Color Catcher the first time you wash your quilt. (Which is my practice with any quilt the first time I wash it.) There's my two cents on using JoAnn's fabrics.

3. Basics. For this type of quilt I think some great basics are essential to break up the prints.  You can never go wrong with:
- a good polka dot (my favs are the Riley Blake swiss dots both white and La Creme)
- stripes (Bonnie and Camille and Tasha Noel are ones I've used in my quilt)
- gingham (Bonnie and Camille and Riley Blake)
- metallic gold polka dots from Hobby Lobby that I've loved using
- red and green basics from various Bonnie and Camille lines
- small scale Christmas prints (holly, Christmas trees, snowflakes, etc.)  these I've picked up at JoAnn's and from various designers
- other lines that are currently available that I've used in my quilt are Little Joys by Elea Lutz/Riley Blake, Pixie Noel by Tahsa Noel/Riley Blake, Christmas Kitsch by Anna Griffin

Below you'll find some fabric pictures with sources/manufacturer. I've included the fabrics I get asked about most frequently. This information is correct to the best of my knowledge.  Some of these are near impossible to find, but you never know! Keep looking and you may just get lucky like I did!

The Santa Claus print is currently available on eBay as I'm posting this, but just on the solid cream background!

The Alexander Henry print is near IMPOSSIBLE to find now. If you find it grab it! It's one of my favorites and I finally found it last year on eBay. I saw some a few years ago on Etsy, on the green background, but I waited too long to get it.  The print is much larger scale than I anticipated so I got creative with my fussy cutting. 
The Michael Miller print was available at Hobby Lobby earlier this year (2016). I went and asked the ladies at the cutting counter about it and they said it was a type of fabric they couldn't reorder. They only would get more if the warehouse sent more out. I heard many people couldn't find it at their Hobby Lobby stores. Sorry! It is available on Etsy and eBay, but at insane prices, $16.99 for a HY. I purchased mine at Hobby Lobby. I was on search for this print for years.

Those cute Santas are a JoAnn's print from a few years back. I bought some when I came out initially, but didn't get nearly enough. I was lucky and found some last year on eBay, the person was practically giving it away, so check there. I always see it pop up each year, but it's gone quick.

 Santa's Village is currently available on Etsy. 

There you go, I truly hope this was helpful! Happy vintage Christmas fabric searching and sewing!

LeAnne :)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Lovely Little Patchwork Blog Tour

A few months ago, I was lucky to receive an advance copy of Keri's darling new book, Lovely Little Patchwork. I absolutely loved thumbing through the pages and making plans. I even found my oldest daughter sneaking away with the book and pouring over the colorful pictures and delightful projects.

For the  blog tour, I decided to make the Apple Tree Pillow. Autumn is hands down my favorite season. I grew up on the East Coast of the United States and have lived a good portion of my life enjoying the spectacular fall season that the East Cost delivers.  Now, my family resides in the southwest dessert of the United States where fall isn't the splendor to which I'm accustomed.  I make up for that by decorating my home in oranges, yellows, browns, all the cozy colors I can once this time of year rolls around. Now, these colors aren't my typical color palate, but the fall season brings all these colors out in our home.

I loved making the Apple Tree Pillow because I pulled out all my scraps of those warm, cozy fall colors. I even found a great piece of corduroy for the trunk.  I made an alteration to the  pattern and pre-quilted the background linen fabric. I love the texture of machine quilting  and I knew it would only add to the cozy factor of this project. This was very simple to do and didn't increase the difficulty at all. Today, I'll share my process for this change in the pattern.

1. Cut the Background Linen Fabric
I used a Moda Mochi linen. Depending on the type of quilting you do, you may want to increase the size of the background fabric. This will account for any shrinking that may occur as you quilt. I cut my background fabric 1" larger than called for in the pattern. In the end, my background only shrank about 1/4". After quilting, I trimmed my quilted background piece to the size called for in the pattern. Since I wanted my cross hatching pattern to remain centered, I cut an even amount off from each side rather than trimming all from one side.

2. Baste the Background Fabric
This process is the same as preparing any project for quilting. I usually baste pillows on my kitchen island, but you can use any hard flat surface. I use basting spray, so I baste in an area I can clean and wipe down afterwards.

Tape the backing down with the wrong side up, pulling it taught but not tight. Next, place your batting on top of the backing. Lastly, add your pillow top with the right side facing up.
Note: You certainly can use basting pins if you prefer. I just prefer basting spray with pillows because it's quick and makes the quilting process much quicker. 

Pull back approximately half of the pillow top and batting so you see your backing. Clear the area of any threads or lint. Spray the area with basting spray, then place the batting on top and smooth out the batting with your hands beginning in the middle, working towards the outside. Repeat with the bottom half of the pillow. With the pillow top still folded back, spray on top of the batting and place the pillow top on top of the batting, smoothing again using the same method.

3. Mark Quilting Lines
While the project was nice and smooth, I marked the quilting lines for a cross hatch pattern. I used a straight acrylic ruler and a Hera Marker. Start by marking one diagonal line down the middle from corner to corner. Then mark 1.5" from the center in both directions across the background fabric. Next, mark a long diagonal line going from corner to corner, intersecting the previous lines. Continue in the same manner stated above. Having the lines 1.5"apart was a  great measurement because the lines weren't too close together.

4. Remove the Tape and Quilt as Desired
I used my walking foot to quilt my straight lines.  For a cross-hatch pattern, begin by sewing on one of the center diagonal lines. Then, sew the remaining lines to the right. When you get to the edge, return to the center and sew out in the other direction. Then sew on the remaining center diagonal line and repeat the process again.

Your background fabric is now quilted! (I forgot to take a picture at this step, but you can see it in the applique stage below.) I thought of this later, but there is pre-quilted fabric available at big box fabric  stores. I am not sure about the colors available, but if you didn't want to quilt on your home machine, that may be an option for you.

After your background fabric is quilted, continue on with the rest of the project as outlined.  If you'd like more tips for perfect pillows, checkout my blog post here. I've made dozens of pillow over the last few years and am constantly asked to share tips! I always say if you can make a mini quilt you can make a pillow! It's just a mini quilt with an extra layer of backing! Even if you've never made a mini quilt, a quilted pillow is a great way to get a taste of quilting without a large project.

Another project that I made from Keri's book is her sweet Little Red Riding Hood Doll. However, I added a twist to these dolls and made them Christmas Pixie's for Tasha's booth at Quilt Market. The dolls feature her new line of fabrics for Riley Blake Pixie Noel.  Maybe one day I'll get it together and share the variations for these dolls, but sadly I don't think it will be anytime soon.

As you can see Keri's book is full of delightful projects for your home, friends and family. Keri's projects are perfect just as she designed them. I love that you can easily add your own personal flare to make the project your own. You'll love adding this book to your collection and you'll be sure to use the projects time and time again!

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out the other fabulous makers who are participating in this fun blog hop!

28.08.2016Sarah Edgar @sarahedgarprettyfabrics
29.08.2016 Heidi Staples @fabricmutt
30.08.2016 Megan Jimenez @QuiltStoryMeg
02.09.2016 Cheri Lehnow @tinkerellen
03.09.2016 Ange Hamilton @alittlepatchwork
04.09.2016 Sedef Imer @downgrapevinelane
05.09.2016 Kimberly Jolly @fatquartershop
06.09.2016 Samantha Dorn @aqua_paisley
07.09.2016 Ayda Algın @cafenohut
08.09.2016 LeAnne Ballard @everydaycelebrations
09.09.2016 Sharon Burgess @lilabellelane
10.09.2016 Lauren Wright @mollyandmama
11.09.2016 Kate May @thehomemakery
12.09.2016 Debbie Homick @happylittlecottage1
13.09.2016 Wynn Tan @zakkaart
14.09.2016 Kim Kruzich @retro_mama
15.09.2016 Jennie Pickett @cloverandviolet
16.09.2016 Veronica AM @VividFelicity
17.09.2016 Nadra Ridgeway @ellisandhiggs
18.09.2016 Amanda Woodruff @acraftyfox_amanda
19.09.2016 Minki Kim @zeriano
20.09.2016 Sharon Yeager @daisycottagequilting
21.09.2016 Peta Peace @shequiltsalot
22.09.2016 Sarah Scott @piccolostudio_sarah
23.09.2016 Kristin Cobb @goobadesigns
24.09.2016 Erin Cox @whynotsewquilts
25.09.2016 Kerri Horsley @sewdeerlyloved


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