Peg Spradlin is an award-winning quilter from Cozad, Nebraska. As a member of Quiltmaker’s sewing team, she creates many of the quilts you see in our pages. She also teaches machine quilting, contributes a block to each volume of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks and sews for our sister publications.
By Peg Spradlin
One of my jobs as a home sewer for Quiltmaker is to test a quilt pattern and share any tips or techniques that make the project easier or faster. I had a great time making Minnie’s Hummingbird Update for the July/August issue of Quiltmaker, but because I try to stay away from bias seams, I didn’t cut the 7-1/4″ squares into 4 triangle A’s. Instead, I used the quarter-square triangle technique to make the 6-1/2 ” units.
Pair 2 different colored squares right sides together. Because you’re making pairs, you’ll need to cut 1 extra square for a total of 100, and once the units are pieced, you’ll discard one unit. Mark a line on the wrong side of the paired fabrics diagonally from corner to corner. Sew 1/4″ out on both sides of the line.
Cut on the line and open up the 2 squares. Iron the seam toward the same color fabric in both blocks. Position these blocks right sides together by lining up the seams, opposite color to opposite color.
Mark a diagonal line from the unseamed corner to the other unseamed corner. Sew 1/4″ out on both sides of the line, cut on the line and open up the fabrics to reveal 2 units. Repeat to make 99 units.
I cut my beginning squares 7-1/2″ x 7-1/2″ so that there would be extra fabric to cut away from the completed unit to ensure an exact 6-1/2″ square.
I used heat-resistant template plastic to make the template for the B applique patches. I “paint” the 1/4″ seam of the applique patch with a solution of 1/2 liquid starch and 1/2 water using a small stencil brush, then use a small craft iron to turn under the patch edges.
The small tip of the craft iron works better than the edge of a regular iron. I’d highly recommend buying a small iron if you plan to do a lot of applique. The combination of the heat and starch ensures a crisp edge.
I took a class from the award-winning quilter Sharon Schamber this winter, and she taught a wonderful technique for keeping an applique patch in place until sewn. Use water soluble Elmer’s school glue and run a small line of glue about 1/8″ away from the turned-under edge of the patch. Position the patch and then iron to set the glue. Keeping the glue away from the edge ensures you won’t sew into it when blind stitching the patch in place.
To save money—and I’m a big fan of saving money—I used the colored sale inserts from the Sunday newspaper as a stabilizer for the applique. (Don’t use black and white newsprint because the ink can rub off on your fabric.)
My points aren’t perfect in this project, but the beauty of busily printed fabrics is that they hide a multiple of mistakes.
This quilt has curved border corners and it wasn’t until I’d cut the binding on the straight of grain that I realized I needed bias binding to ease around the corners. Instead of recutting the full length of the binding on the bias, I cut four 12″ to 15″ bias lengths, pinned the straight of grain binding around the quilt, determined where the bias binding needed to lay, and replaced those areas with the bias binding. Problem solved!
I love the optical illusion of this quilt. I look at it once and I see the circles floating above the background. The next time I look, the background pops out. It’s even more apparent when you see the quilt in person. And couldn’t you just see this quilt in a black and white color scheme? Or a red and gray? I hope many of you give this quilt a try and share your results with us.