Tokyo Subway Map QAL – Week 6 White background (2 of 3)

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL week 6 background

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxLet’s talk white today! We’ve reached week 6 (5.-11.10.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL, which means it’s the second week of cutting for the background.

My guess is most people choose a white for the quilt-top background, but there are many whites. Do you have any favourites? How about manufacturers?

To mention one example, I really like the Bonnie & Camille fabrics by Moda, but the background isn’t white-white, but rather a creamy white. You know? In Kona solids by Robert Kaufman, this seems to correspond to the Snow hue. I have a little cut of it for a WIP, but my preference without question is Kona White, when placing the two next to each other.

I’ve heard somewhere that the inuits of Greenland have a huge bunch of names for different shades, tints, and tones of white hue (I suppose there’s just one white hue? never had this thought before). Perhaps it’s a myth only, but then again when I look at my own home, there are so many colours of white that I couldn’t possibly count them all.

What do you think of white in general? If you add a bit of a hue to it, do you prefer a warmer or cooler version of it? “Version” seems like the word to choose now :)

Cutting the pieces for week 6:

  • A second third of the background

How is your quilt coming along?

Video links

There are some nice little videos out there that are both short and sweet for sewists and quilters alike, and I warmly recommend these!

First up is a 2:47-minute long video, The Story of The True Colors Collection, featuring the designers behind the True Colors collections manufactured by Free Spirit Fabric. They are, in alphabetical order, Heather Bailey, Joel Dewberry, Anna Maria Horner, and Jenean Morrison. While the video was made in collaboration with Creativebug in 2013, I’ve seen some of the fabrics in online shops still.

Next we have Sarah Fielke in collaboration with Craftsy in an 8:58-minute long video, Hand Quilting With Perle Cotton with Sarah Fielke, Quilting Instructor for, and I felt like my quilting life changed dramatically when watching it about a couple of weeks ago for the first time. I found her own blog post, Yes, I Hand Quilt, about this tutorial and it’s evident how much she loves hand quilting.

Turns out Sarah quilts with Aurifil 12wt now, which is a 12-weight thread quite similar to perle, but in her experience the Aurifil thread remains less influenced by the constant pulling through the fabric and batting layers (discussion on Instagram). And lucky me, it’s the very thread box that I won last year, containing Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s spool selection. Now I only need a needle threader and a thimble, because I recently got the quilting hoop and good needles.

And here’s a 2:13-minute video called Stash Busters with Jacquie Gering by Craftsy:

I hadn’t seen that one before, and then discovered a bunch more to watch in the side column.

Often I find myself enjoying visual content quite a bit, in particular since I can just relax and watch, rather than actively read blogs etc. Do you prefer one over the other?

I’ve also heard things on Instagram about Periscope, but at some point I read there wouldn’t be sort of an archive for viewing old videos. Can someone confirm or contradict this? Are you on Periscope yourself? Would it be useful for crafters as tutorials? Or would Youtube still be the way to go?

Tokyo Subway Map QAL – Week 5 White background (1 of 3)

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map Quilt week 5 background 1of3 2015-09-28

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxDear Tokyoites, we are moving on to the background of the quilt this week (28.9.-4.10.2015)! I still have a bit to cut for the lines, but I’m getting there. What about you?

Have you decided on your background colour yet? I’ve been thinking it could look rather smashing in low-volumes, too, but have to mull this over for a couple of days still. Another solid than white could also work really well, as long as a possible line of the same colour wouldn’t disappear completely. Maybe an Essex linen, possibly yarn-dyed, could work, too, although not for me, since I have neither the amount needed, nor the skills currently to sew with quilting cottons and mixed-fibre fabrics combined. Oooh, or how about shot cottons? Decisions, decisions…

Cutting the pieces for week 5:

  • A first third of the background

How are you feeling about all this cutting? Is it how you usually make quilts, prepare all pieces first, then sew individual blocks, and finally all blocks together? I must admit I don’t work this way usually, but finish steps here and there, and I rather like this properly prepared method.

Tokyo Subway Map QAL – Week 4 Grey line and black stops

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL week 4 Grey line and black stops 2015-09-21

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxExciting times, Tokyo friends! ‘Tis week 4 (21.-27.9.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL, and on the menu is the grey line as well as the black stops. There isn’t much to cut, so if you’re behind in regards to the rainbow lines (like I am a bit), now is the time to catch up.

And fear not, if you do the nifty solution of cutting the background in batches, with a few strips placed on top of one another, you will proceed rather swiftly. This might give some time to catch up still, should you not have finished cutting for all lines and stops by the end of this week. Please holler either here or on Instagram, if you feel like getting some love to help you through the process! Cutting happens globally, as a matter of fact :)

Cutting the pieces of week 4:

  • Grey line
  • Black stops

Short and sweet!

I’ve cut all black stops and grey solids, so there is a bit left to cut for this week’s prompt. And to thank you for stopping by, I want to end with some more eye candy. I cut all the solids yesterday:

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map QAL Solid fabrics 2015-09-21

Have a nice Monday!

Fresh ideas for bias binding – And six placemats finished

Nina With Freckles - Placemats with bias binding 2015-09-17

My six placemats are probably a bit notorious at this point, but I finally finished them a couple of days ago. They were started as part of a sew-along in 2011 (yes…), but then stuff happened, including having no walking foot, being too much of a newbie still, all of my personal life being thrown upside down in several areas, and a plain lack of inspiration.

An example of the newbieness would be not knowing about needle and thread sizes, or how (not) to combine fabric thicknesses, but on the other hand, without those experiences I’d be a worse sewist today.

Also, trying to find suitable advice for how to tackle bias binding – which I had inherited a ridiculous amount of and which I had enough of for experimental projects like these placemats, not to justify using yardage for double-fold binding – proved a challenge. My first ever quilted project, two mug rugs, were extremely frustrating to finish in a similar fashion, with bias binding, because the explanations and photographs simply didn’t do the trick for me. I always had more questions than the answers given. Do you recognise the feeling of getting completely stuck, because tutorials you find don’t open up the topic well enough? I can’t count the amount of times it’s happened to me already, and then I have to start researching like crazy just to understand what to do.

And so here we are, seeing the fruits of my labour. I won’t leave you hanging, though, but will post photographs and include text, text, text, in case you wish to use these fresh ideas how to bind with either bias binding or double-fold binding, sewn by machine rather than hand. Even if you end up sewing as you have up to this point, I still think it’s a good idea to question one’s choices from time to time :)

In this post:

  • The rambling you already read
  • How to join strips of bias binding and double-fold binding
  • How to deal with a roll of bias binding
  • How to start sewing on bias binding
  • An idea of how to use bias binding on thicker projects
  • How to sew neat mitered corners – Bias binding and double-fold binding
  • How to finish sewing bias binding
  • Fresh ideas for bias binding and double-fold binding

* * * * *

How to join strips of bias binding and double-fold binding

As mentioned above, I inherited an insane amount of bias binding, basically in all colours of the rainbow, but none of the strips were very long. Luckily, I had matching colours at least, but in once case I had to join two shorter strips first.

There are two slightly different ways how to join the strips, and both work for bias binding as well as double-fold binding used to finish quilts. It’s more about preference than anything else, because in the case of printed fabrics, it might be easier to join end-to-end (think stripes for instance), but if a pattern is lively, a 45-degree join may be less visible. In the preference category also goes your tolerance for fiddliness, as end-to-end is quicker and less cumbersome.

Nina With Freckles - Bias binding joining of strips 2015-09-17

In photo 1, the strips are joined end-to-end by placing the right sides together, then sewing with a quarter-inch seam allowance. Press seam open to reduce bulk, and you’re done.

The 45-degree join is done in several steps. As per photo 2, place the strips of bias binding (or fabric for double-fold binding) right sides together, and pin well to hold in place. Draw a line (pencil works fine as you can see) from corner to corner, so to speak. Photo 3: Sew over that line. Photo 4: Cut excess fabric whilst leaving around a quarter inch for seam allowance. Press open.

My tension settings were adjusted for the on-going placemat project, and it was tricky enough to find the correct setting without changing it for this short seam, but I suppose the dark-brown thread would have been challenging to see, had the beige not popped up; an unexpected perk!

How to deal with a roll of bias binding

Rolls of binding can fly here and there unless you find a way to tame them. I’ve seen people stick the leg of an extension table through the middle of the roll, or they might have some necklace thing going on. Yet another way is to stuff the roll in a bowl or mug next to the sewing machine, but I’m weary of that in case I tug more binding too vigorously.

But we have pins and things poking and sticking out. Maybe one of them works for you, too, in your roll management?

Nina With Freckles - Bias binding roll management 2015-09-17

The binding roll was small enough to sit in place when the larger stopper was closer to the needle, and the smaller stopper on the other side of the roll.

Pull binding from behind the machine as much as you will need for a shorter length at a time, and the roll is managed.

How to start sewing on bias binding

Now things get interesting. I’ve looked at many a tutorial, yet only in one (can’t even recall which one) was mentioned how to start sewing the bias binding.

Since my project were placemats, I thought the neatest place for binding overlap would be the side closest to the person sitting at the table, and so I chose an arbitrary point approximately in the middle of that side.

Next, Wonder Clips; they are a miracle, craving to hug lots of fabric at once. And not just those clips, but turned such that the clear half is pointing upwards. Why? Because the clip will be much easier to grab on-the-go when sewing. The clear half is flat, which means it will sit against the sewing machine otherwise, and then the only part you can grab easily is the coloured one. But if you turn the clip “upside down”, both halves will be yours to attack.

Nina With Freckles - Bias binding starting to sew 2015-09-17

Step 1: Fold the bias binding open and place its right side against the project. Fold the corner at a 45-degree angle such that wrong sides of binding are touching.

Step 2: Clip generously prior to sewing. Only clip until the first corner, though. See the clip along the perpendicular side? It’s good to have one in that spot for when you remove the last clip on the side being sewn, to avoid fabrics shifting.

Step 3: Where exactly do you start sewing? I like to put down the needle right before the bias binding, at which time I also remove superfluous clips.

What thread colours should you choose? In these photos, I’m sewing the first binding seam with a thread (top and bobbin) that matches the beige backing of my placemats.

An idea of how to use bias binding on thicker projects

The normal way to handle bias binding is to sew in the fold of it. This is problematic when you are making quilted things with batting in between, because unlike double-fold binding, bias binding is quite narrow.

You’ll see later in this post what problems this can cause, but for now I’ll say that I’ve sewn my placemats with slightly more than a quarter-inch seam allowance. In other words, there is a space created between the seam and the fold of of the bias binding.

Nina With Freckles - Bias binding handling bulk 2015-09-17

See the faint difference in lighting around the binding fold, when I’m using the seam ripper to pull away the binding? The collage is clickable if you want a close-up.

How to sew neat mitered corners

This section on neat, mitered corners applies to both bias binding and double-fold binding. The collage below is clickable.

Nina With Freckles - Bias binding mitered corners 2015-09-17

Step 1: When there’s your seam allowance’s worth of distance left, stop sewing, keep needle down, lift presser foot and pivot 45 degrees such that you will sew toward the corner of your project. Step 2: Sew. Step 3: Remove project and use the grid of your cutting mat for help if you’re unsure. Place the project along lines of the mat, lift the bias binding away from you along a line of the mat, being aided by the 45-degree short sewn line. Step 4: Fold binding back over itself, and clip to keep in place. Step 5: Place more clips along the side to be sewn. Step 6: Start sewing at the very edge. Step 7: Remove clips as needed. The binding bundles up very easily toward the end of the side. Repeat from step 1.

Now I’ll shortly jump ahead to once you’re sewing the other side of the binding in place. That little 45-degree seam will help when you do the following on the placemat top side of the project (apologies for the unsharp middle photo, and please keep reading below for explanation regarding placemat back and top):

Nina With Freckles - Bias binding mitered corners 2 2015-09-17

The binding will fold neatly around the corner thanks to the little seam. The latter will also provide structure to the whole corner area. Once you hold down the side of the binding to be sewn first (with a needle or clip; I chose needle for increased visibility in this tutorial), you can see the beautifully forming triangle. Make sure it stays that way, even and neat, once you fold up the next side of binding to be sewn. You’ll be able to create a perfect point, once you stop to pivot in that corner area.

But we haven’t finished sewing the binding yet!

How to finish sewing bias binding

I got a bit carried away when sewing my bias binding in place, but it is sufficient to overlap about two inches.

Nina With Freckles - Bias binding finishing sewing 2015-09-17

Photo 1: Clip generously. Photo 2: The last part of the bias binding that you sew in place will be hidden by the 45-degree starting point created in the beginning. Photo 3: For that reason, you should stay between the edge and the already sewn seam, when finishing sewing binding. Backstitching whenever possible is always a good idea in projects such as these.

Before sewing the binding in place on the other side (the final seam of the binding), I cut off some of the bulk created, visible in this collage in the overlap areas.

As for sewing the final seam of bias binding, give it a good press to flatten the fold (that we didn’t sew into earlier), and turn the project over. Fold the binding and repeat the wonder clipping, start sewing in the area where you have overlap, stop in a corner, pivot with needle down, and continue until you reach where you started.

I like to pull the thread from the top of the project to the back (tug gently in the bottom thread and help carefully with the tip of a seam ripper), tie a few knots, then bury the threads, and cut excess.

Fresh ideas for bias binding and double-fold binding

The interesting, and possibly controversial, part begins now. You have probably noticed by now that I have sewn my bias binding starting from the back of the project. There are several reasons for this:

  • I’m no huge fan of sewing by hand.
  • I prefer to control what I can, and prefer to live with the lesser of two evils.
  • I like to question “established truths.”
  • And more :)

Bias binding is governed by “do what you please”, whereas how one chooses to finish a quilt with double-fold binding is a different thing entirely. People have strong opinions, but generally it doesn’t seem to extend past pro hand sewing and con machine sewing the final seam (or machine all the way). Since my starting point, however, is to find as efficient and as neat as possible a solution, this will provide the framework for options available.

The usual way of sewing quilt binding in place is from the top of the project. This is fine as long as you do the finishing step by hand, but if you choose the machine, in my humble opinion, prettiness will suffer a great deal.

Why? If you manage not to sew into the binding itself, you will still have this rather unbecoming square of thread next to the binding, when viewed from the front/top. Here’s an example on the right:

Nina With Freckles - Binding from front 2015-09-17

And if you wobble even a tiny bit, this is the result (far right, on top) – because you can’t see what you’re doing, where exactly you’re supposed to be sewing, as the guideline is underneath the binding:

Nina With Freckles - Binding from front 2 2015-09-17

You should obviously, in true top-stitching style, hit the very narrow space between edge of binding and the first binding seam, when sewing this final binding seam. Seemingly, you can be doing a fine job, or not:

Nina With Freckles - Binding from front 3 2015-09-17

Fabric shifts, and in this case, you can keep sewing for miles without being aware of having smashed into the binding on the other side (quilt top) of the project. Would you rip out the whole final seam to fix it, or would you grumble and live with the not-very-pretty end result?

Also, what thread colour should you use? Unless your quilt-top background is even everywhere, you will inevitably have areas where the thread doesn’t blend in. Like here:

Nina With Freckles - Binding from front 4 2015-09-17

Perhaps I’m too picky, but it does bother me that a perfectly fine brown blends in extremely well in some parts of the projects, whereas elsewhere it’s rather ghastly. There’s a complete lack of finesse, to put it bluntly.

So how about sewing the binding, be it bias or double-fold, to the back first?

When the binding has been attached to the back of the project first, then pressed (bias binding), you can test with a pin where to sew. There’s ample room, and if you choose a thread colour to match the binding, it will blend perfectly on the top side of the project. Or go crazy and choose a completely different colour.

Nina With Freckles - Bias binding sewing final seam 2015-09-17

Had I sewn in the fold of the binding, there wouldn’t have been enough of it to keep the bobbin thread away from the binding, in the placemat backing. Now, when I “top stitch” where I’ve pushed the pin, I will steer clear of the binding on the backside. Yet another perk of this particular method is of course that if you’re short on time and want to buy premade bias binding, you can use it even in thicker projects such as quilts.

Choose a bobbin thread that also blends well – but in this case, the not-very-pretty square of final seam will be on the back of the project. Just remember to adjust the thread tension well, so that the top and bobbin threads hook inside the batting.

Nina With Freckles - Binding from back 2015-09-17

Embellishments, yay or nay? If yay, consider ric-rac or other decorative ribbon put in between the placemat/quilt top and the binding at the very last stage, when you can see where it will end up. Or how about small Prarie Points?

If the extra stuff is too much, how about playing with the stitches on your machine? Mine doesn’t have embroidery stitches, but even a simple zig zag can look smashing. Imagine decorative floral stitches in a non-matching colour, quite pretty don’t you think?

Nina With Freckles - Binding from back 2 2015-09-17

I came up with a way to lock the corner of the binding, then repeated the same pattern everywhere.

Nina With Freckles - Placemats with bias binding 2 2015-09-17

So what say you? Hooray? Blah? Feel passionately about a particular method? Ready to try something new?

* * * * *

Earlier posts on the placemats:

Cute as a button! Or four! Or five! – A mini charm friendly pattern

NM Patterns - Cute as Four Buttons! mini quilt 2015-09-18

Hi there and welcome to my blog! Chances are you’ve found your way here today due to the on-going Mini Charm Challenge blog hop.

In this tutorial:

  • What are mini charms and why a challenge?
  • Overview of Cute as Four Buttons! and Cute as Five Buttons! patterns
  • How to make the quilt (Stage 1-5)
  • Where to find the other blog-hop participants

* * * * *

What are mini charms and why a challenge?

Most fabric-crazy quilters out there are already familiar with mini charm squares by Moda Fabrics, but in case you have no idea of what I’m talking about yet, these pre-cut squares are sold as packs of of 40-42 sqares, often featuring a whole fabric line. The original size is 5” x 5”, and those are called charm squares, whereas mini charm squares are 2.5” x 2.5”. Of course you can cut your own (mini) charm squares, too, and in fact there are quite a few swaps online where stacks are sent to others, then received in return, to increase the diversity of one’s stash.

At this point, there are many patterns out there for charm squares, but the situation is a bit different when these newer minis are concerned, and so Kylie of Sew Kylie started a Mini Charm Challenge on Instagram (hashtag #minicharmchallenge, what else :) ). The lovely KviltStina gave me a mini charm pack last year, but I had yet to find the perfect project for it, and here we are.

Overview of Cute as Four Buttons! and Cute as Five Buttons! patterns

As it happens, the mini charm pack I received contains only 40 squares, which is rather unusual today. Most packs consist of 42, and to accommodate that number, I now present to you two NM Patterns – Cute as Four Buttons! and Cute as Five Buttons!:

Nina With Freckles - Cute as Four Buttons 2015-09-18     Nina With Freckles - Cute as Five Buttons 2015-09-18

The four-button pattern will use 38 mini charm squares, whereas if you have the larger pack of 42 squares, feel free to make five buttons to use up all of them.

The number of mini charms per button:

  • Large button: 16 squares
  • Medium button: 9 squares
  • Small button: 4 squares

The mini quilt itself will end up at around 20” x 20”. If you have all tools gathered, and opt to bind the mini by machine, this project is quite a quick one, despite appliqué possibly being a new method to you (as it was to me prior to this project!).

How to make the quilt

Materials you will need:

  • For quilt top:
    • For buttons:
      • A pack of mini charm squares
      • A scrap piece of background fabric for button holes
      • Fusible web, my piece was 45 cm (width on the roll) x 50 cm (approximately 0.5 yards) with quite a bit left – I used Bondaweb / Wonder Under, Vliesoflix
    • Background fabric: 20” x 20”
  • Batting: around 21” x 21” (or larger if you think you need more to work with)
  • Backing fabric: around 21.5” x 21.5” (or larger, as above)
  • Binding: approximately 7.5” x WOF (width of fabric; quilting cotton at least 42” wide)


  • Sewing needles:
    • For piecing, what you normally would use
    • For appliqué, Microtex of size that fits your thread
  • Thread:
    • For piecing, what you normally would use
    • For appliqué, 50-wt or thicker if that’s a look you want
  • Other tools normally used in quilting
  • Compass and pencil (see Simplicity, Block 8 IQCB tutorial for more)
  • Pressing cloth

So how do we make this button mini quilt? It comes together in the following stages:

  1. Open mini charm pack and decide how to spread out squares over buttons
  2. Sew squares into a grid
  3. Attach via fusible web buttons to background fabric
  4. Quilt by doing raw-edge appliqué
  5. Bind

Stage 1 – Open mini charm pack and decide how to spread out squares over buttons

The mini charm pack I received is Eden by Lila Tueller for Moda Fabrics, and the first thing I did after having opened the wrapping was to check the measurements. It’s a bit vague regarding the size, as I’ve heard the 2.5” referring to both the outer and inner tip of the cut zigzag edge. In this case, the measurement wasn’t perfectly at the outer tip but somewhere nearby. But since my sewing machine is really bad at creating an accurate quarter-inch seam allowance, I’ve given up on being completely on “a scant quarter inch” anyway.

NM Patterns - Cute as Four Buttons - 1 Fabric 2015-09-18

Laying out all the squares was interesting, because I wasn’t familiar with this collection, and had no idea of what to expect. A few themes unfolded quickly.

My original layout for each button was scrapped due to an unrestful impression they gave, and in fact this step turned out to be the most time-consuming of all. Don’t be afraid to let your own first choice sit for a while, before you finalise it.

Stage 2 – Sew squares into a grid

Time to sew! The photo is clickable so you can see the collage closer. I’ll start with the large button consisting of 16 squares, so you get the idea of how to chain piece, should you not yet be familiar with this concept of speeding up sewing.

NM Patterns - Cute as Four Buttons - 2 Chain piecing 2015-09-18

Step 1: Place 16 squares (or 9 for medium and 4 for small buttons) on your table. Step 2: Place the second column on top of the first, right sides together. Place column 4 on 3 the same way. Step 3: Sew all seams without cutting in between, remove from sewing machine, clip threads, and place back to where they were before. Step 4: Open as books with right side up, so you have two columns now. Step 5: Place right column on top of left, right sides together. Step 6: Chain piece all four seams, clip threads, and open in original layout.

Now it’s time to press before continuing to sew (collage is clickable).

NM Patterns - Cute as Four Buttons - 3 Pressing 2015-09-18

Step 1: Set the seam by giving it a quick press. Step 2: The seam is flat rather than “tight”. Step 3: Scoot over the row by lifting up the left end of the row (the dot fabric), and set the next seam. Step 4: Scoot over as before and set the last seam. The reason I’m showing this is because the less you have to shuffle, lift, and move stuff, the quicker you finish with least amount of energy lost. Step 5: Once all seams have been set, press them open. I have a nifty tool to reach in between the fabric layers, and it can be used to poke corners out when sewing pouches or such. Since I’m right-handed, I keep it there, poke into the seam allowance, and finger press with the left hand. Then steam press gently with iron. Step 6: I usually work the whole column of seam allowances at a time. Rinse and repeat for remaining seam columns.

The last steps of assembling the button block remain (clickable collage).

NM Patterns - Cute as Four Buttons - 4 Block assembly 2015-09-18

Step 1: Place all rows according to original layout. Step 2: Place row 2 on top of row 1 to sew along bottom edge. Step 3: For increased accuracy at points, push pin through both seam allowances. Step 4: With first pin in place still, place second pin in seam allowance. This will prevent puckering closer to feed dogs. Do remove the pin rather than sew over, though. Repeat pinning of remaining seam allowances and consider pinning also at end of seam (to be sewn). Step 5: Sew rows 1 and 2 together, and rows 3 and 4 together. Then sew rows 2 and 3 together. Step 6: Set seams and press open as before. Step 7: Make remaining button blocks.

Stage 3 – Attach via fusible web buttons to background fabric

Now that all four (or five) button blocks are done, it’s time to work on attaching buttons to background fabric.

NM Patterns - Cute as Four Buttons - 5 Preparing appliqué 2015-09-18

Collage is clickable. Step 1: Gather your supplies. Step 2: The radius for the small button is 2” (4.5” block), medium 3” (6.5” block), and large 4” (8.5” block). I used the cutting mat to find the radius. Step 3: Draw all circles for buttons (four or five) and tiny circles for button holes, however many you want to add. I made 4 for the large buttons, 2 each for medium, and 2 for small button. When drawing button holes, it helps to steady with one hand the centre, whilst loosely floating the pencil over the web (or the radius might shift). Step 4: Cut out roughly outside of the drawn circles. Save the small scraps of web, you might get excited about appliquéing tiny hexies or such! Scissors? There’s fabric and there’s paper and there’s glue, so don’t ruin your best pair. Photo 5: The button sizes chosen were a bit smaller than 1” and 0.75” respectively. I winged it. Photo 6: See how the button circles show the seam allowance of the blocks.

Now we’re ready to fuse the web to the fabric, then buttons to background.

NM Patterns - Cute as Four Buttons - 6 Fusing web 2015-09-18

Step 1: Following manufacturers guidelines, fuse web (sticky side down, paper side up) to button blocks and button-hole fabric (back of fabric). I was told to press shortly (without steam), for 5 seconds, to have the glue stick to the fabric. Step 2: Cut along all circle lines. Step 3: Pick your placement of buttons and button holes. Since my fabric is visibly directional, I went to the next level and oriented the button holes to the background grid, even snapped a photo for the largest button :) The thing you see underneath is my pressing board, to avoid excess handling. Step 4: Carefully peel off paper from web. It can be helpful to start at button seam allowances, and use a seam ripper for the button holes. When peeling, keep buttons in place by pressing fingers on seam allowances as you go, whilst removing paper with the other hand. I also was told to use a damp cloth for pressing, and kept moving from one button to another for a total of around 20 seconds, then did the second batch of buttons. I pressed both buttons and button holes simultaneously. Check that the web holds.

It is quite thick at this point, but this won’t matter if the quilt is a wall-hanging one or a table topper. Consider another method if you’re making a quilt “to use”.

Stage 4 – Quilt by doing raw-edge appliqué

The raw-edge appliqué will double as quilting in this project. I wasn’t sure how it would look once the buttons were done, but the reason for moving around them compared to the original drawing was that I thought I might fit a second small button, quilted only, somewhere on the quilt top, but then decided against it. Feel free to experiment!

Assemble your quilt sandwich and baste, then quilt.

NM Patterns - Cute as Four Buttons - 7 Appliqué quilting 2015-09-18

I chose to circle the buttons three times with a dark purple 50-weight thread. Go slowly, stop with needle down, lift presser foot, pivot, lower presser foot, and sew. Rinse and repeat.

The button holes are trickier due to their small size. If you lowered your stitch length for the button perimeters, consider an even smaller one. Mine was around 2.0 mm, which turned out to be a good setting on my machine. I stopped after every second stitch or so, and it helped to manage the quilt with the left hand, and work the presser foot with the right hand. Toward the end I had a whole dance routine figured out. Since the button holes are so challenging, I circled the larger ones twice, and the smallest pair only once.

This type of quilting hit home. I absolutely loved the freeform messiness of it, and most certainly will do raw-edge appliqué in the future. Earlier I mentioned that this was my first time doing appliqué, and I seriously have no idea of why I thought it would be scary. Have you tried it yet? Like it?

Square up your mini quilt and move on to binding it.

Stage 5 – Bind

To begin with, I’ll recommend the Robert Kaufman quilting app (for iPhone at least), which has several, nifty calculators. In this project, I used it to figure out how much fabric I would need for the binding. Recalling that the quilt top is 20” x 20”, which in itself would require around 80”.

I wanted to try a 2.25” wide binding strip, and had no idea of how wide my fabric would be, so I threw in 42” to be on the safe side. This is supposedly the minimum width of quilting cotton.

NM Patterns - Cute as Four Buttons - 8 Calculate binding 2015-09-18

The calculator suggested I make 90” of binding, using 3 WOF strips of 2 1/4 inch width. In the materials list, I mentioned 7.5”, which will accommodate also a 2.5” wide binding strip. If you have hoarded skinny quarters, this could be a project, as they are 9” tall and WOF wide.

I chose to use the same purple thread to pull together visually the project. It seemed fitting due to the whimsical fabrics and appliqué. The first binding seam was sewn onto the backside of the quilt, and I’ll have a tutorial for fresh ideas on how to bind with bias binding and double-fold binding here on the blog tomorrow, so make sure to stop by again :)

All done! Would you consider this for your collection of mini quilts in the sewing room? If 20” x 20” is a tad too large, simply decrease the background size and tighten up the space between the buttons. Or make fewer buttons, too. Hope you liked this tutorial! Feel free to ask questions and comment below.

* * * * *

Where to find the other blog-hop participants

Nina With Freckles - Mini Charm Challenge 2015-09-18

The rest of the blog-hop participants with their wonderful projects you can find here:

I do hope you’re enjoying this blog hop, because I am!

Get Organised 2015! – A free printable to organise your sewing

Nina With Freckles - Get Organised 2015 printable pdf 2015-09-16

Oh my, I’m so excited that Wednesday has finally arrived! You know, Organising Wednesday! Because I have a printable to share with you, to help you organise your sewing. I have quite a few projects going on currently, and many of them have deadlines I can’t miss, and so I started pondering what to include in a one-page, monthly overview to cover several of the needs that quilters of Instagram might have.

There are bees and block-of-the month quilts, swaps and challenges or competitions, and gifts and other projects to make! And it all is very fun as long as the house of cards doesn’t tumble down in a glorious kaboom.

Today, I put the final touches to this printable pdf (non-editable), customised to the needs of active quilters, and you can download it – for your personal use – at the end of this post. If you want to tip your friends about it, do direct them to my blog, rather than distribute the pdf itself.

So how do you use it? The idea is to check the box at a particular date, and describe the project by name in the “Project” field. For example, if your swap mosaic is due to be posted on 1 October, tick that box on that date, and use the project name in the corresponding column. 1 October is a milestone, but if you finish the task before, it might come in handy to write the earlier (or later, god forbid… :P) date in the “Done” column.

“Directions” in Bee Quilts means the stuff you need to send your bee friends, when it is your turn to be Queen Bee. Are there other confusing things about the columns? Please ask!

I tend to think that I can recall stuff later, but sometimes when there are many balls to juggle simultaneously, it’s easier not to rely on memory at all, but keep consulting an outside resource. And my printable might be just that.

Testing, testing… The pdf has been viewed in both Adobe Acrobat Reader and Preview on Mac, and printed (A4 paper). Everything works beautifully at my end, and if the fonts give you grief, please install League Gothic and Sacramento.

Printing of pdfs made in Scribus, an open-source software, means you may have to adjust the percentage manually to 100%. I’ve heard of other software allowing the designer to set this number to 100%, but it isn’t an option I have. If your paper size is different from the international standard A4, please test with one page before printing all of them, as you may have to adjust the output a bit.

Feel free to add suggestions to the 2016 printable, which will be available for purchase (nothing overly expensive, but just to keep some of my blogging expenses covered) later this year!

Nina With Freckles - Download button 2015-09-16

The printable pdf is © Nina Martin and intended for personal use only. Please do not distribute the pdf itself, but direct your friends to my blog. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation!

Tokyo Subway Map QAL – Week 3 Light blue, dark blue and violet lines

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map Quilt week 3 fabrics 2015-09-14

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500px Hello, hello and welcome to week 3 (14.-20.9.2015) of Tokyo Subway Map QAL! This week is all about light and dark blues as well as violets, purples, you name it. Throw in teal and plum, too, if you like :)

How is your stash looking, by the way? I’ve had a discussion with a lovely lady, who mentioned being a bit short on certain hues, but on the other hand having quite a few browns and tans, and while the original pattern calls for rainbow and greyscale colours, why not make it your own, if your preference is different? There’s absolutely no need to feel like you have to sew a replica of the original, if you think you would enjoy other colours more.

As for my solids, as part of a birthday gift, I purchased a modest bundle of Kona cottons to be used in this project (my stash of solids is measly still), and it finally arrived last week along with the fabrics for Farmer’s Wife 1930s QAL – which as a matter of fact has launched today!

But first, the prompt for this week.

Cutting the lines of week 3:

  • Light blue
  • Dark blue
  • Purple

And now my Tokyo solids, I think I’m in love with Kona…

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map Quilt - Solids 2015-09-14

Since the selection as mentioned isn’t huge, I’ve decided to use the same fabric for all solid patches. I tried to pick hues that would be sort of averages compared to the prints I have, but in the end it really doesn’t matter that much, I suppose.

What’s your decision on them? Have a large stash of solids yet? And how is the cutting going?

Tokyo Subway Map QAL – Week 2 Yellow, light green and dark green lines

Nina With Freckles - Tokyo Subway Map Quilt week 2 fabrics 2015-09-07

Tokyo Subway Map QAL - Button 2015-08-05 500pxTime flies and we are already a week into September, can you imagine? All of a sudden, not only the evenings are rather cool here, but there’s a crispness to the air also during the days. While I love autumn, I still wish a bit that we would have had a proper summer. But since we can’t have everything, instead we get summer colours in the week 2 (7.-13.9.2015) subway lines of the Tokyo Subway Map quilt quilt-along. Oh what a tongue twister.

How did week 1 go for you? I’m still waiting on the solid Kona fabrics, so not all pieces have been cut, but I posted a progress photo on Instagram last Thursday. Perhaps you’re still gathering supplies, getting organised for school and other activities? September certainly has more buzz to it compared to August :)

I’ve decided not to list the number of pieces for solids and patterned fabrics after all, but I’ll still post this weekly prompt for you to stay on track. And if you want to discuss outside of Instagram, it’s also nice to have a place available for that. My blog template allows nested comments, by the way, which I find very user friendly, so go ahead and chime in if you like!

Cutting the lines of week 2:

  • Yellow
  • Light green
  • Dark green

Chop chop :) The hashtag is #TokyoSubwayMapQuilt in case you forgot!

How did you find the first week? Have you developed a nice way to organise the workflow yet? Or are you still tweaking things? Thinking in line colours seems very helpful to yours truly!

Farmer’s Wife 1930s QAL – My fabric palette

Nina With Freckles - Farmer's Wife 1930s QAL  fabric palette

The Farmer’s Wife 1930s QAL, written about in July, will be a theme for quite some time and so it is all right that I’m a bit slow in the beginning. I made a fabric palette for Kona solids a while ago, but only placed my order yesterday. It was late and I was lazy enough not to dig out my color card chips, which means it will be interesting to see what the bundle looks like once I’ve received it.

On Pinterst, I found a bunch of inspirational photos (and supposedly they have been all right to pin. I don’t care much for policing adults and checking where they found something, whether there’s a copyright or not, but have to trust humanity enough to think that a pinned thing was okay to be pinned. Anyway, if there’s a copyright on one or several of the included photos, just yell and I’ll be happy to do something about it!)

So, the palette. I imported the photos into the iDraw app, made a grid of them, and started choosing colours. Screens are different and so are the colours on them, but hopefully what I saw in the shopping cart – a rather harmonious bunch of fabrics :) – will look as delicious in person.

The reason for my choosing a totally different style than the 30’s reproductions and feedsack prints is that I think they are cute, but in my home they simply wouldn’t fit. There I prefer mostly a clean, Nordic style with lots of white, splashes of solids or rather sleek patterns, and that’s it. I wouldn’t mind a girly, cutesy craft room, though, as long as I can close the door on the at times overwhelming colour party :) Lately, I’m thinking it may have something to do with the INFJ + HSP (Meyers-Briggs personality type and ‘highly sensitive person’ profile), because in particular HSPs can be overwhelmed by various sensory input, of which the visual kind is one version.

The status currently, in other words, is that I’m waiting on a pile of fabrics to be delivered, and then it’s chop time. Have you jumped on-board yet?