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Monday, March 4, 2013

A Piece of Cake Quilt Tutorial

So, as promised, here is my very first tutorial ever!  As I said in yesterday's post, it's really very quick and easy.  

Before we get down to business I'd like to clear up a few things.  First, I came up with this idea one afternoon quite a while ago while trying to find something new to do with a layer cake.  Is this an original idea? I can't say for sure that it is.  There are probably similar ideas out there, I've just never seen or used them.  This is simply my idea and how to do it.  Second, it's my first tutorial and I'm quite a bit nervous to even be posting it since there are so many wonderful and talented quilting ladies out there with tons of tutorials and I kind of feel like what could i possibly do that is as great as their ideas?   This morning after pep-talking myself for quite a while I decided I was being stupid and I really should just go ahead and share my idea.  After all, I've already had a few people asking me how to make one of these quilts so obviously there's interest.

Now, let's get down to business.  If anything isn't clear, please leave a comment and I'll answer all questions in the comment section.

Here is the quilt I showed you yesterday all completed.  The fabric used for this quilt was Hullabaloo for Moda fabrics.  It's an older fabric collection so I'm not sure how easy it is to find anymore, but I wanted to make sure and include the information since I'm sure at least some of you will be wondering.

For the tutorial, I'll be using a layer cake of 10 Little Things by Jenn Ski for Moda fabrics.  For those of you that don't know what a layer cake is - it's a collection of 42 - 10" squares from one fabric collection.  It's an excellent way to get all the fabrics from a collection without having to spend a lot of money on yardage.

So, first you have to unwrap your lovely little layer cake.

Next, line up a stack of fabric (as many pieces as you think your rotary cutter can easily slice through).  I pull off between 6-8 squares usually and find that easy enough for my blade to handle.  This would be a good time to replace an older blade with a nice and sharp new one.  I get used to a dulling blade and when I finally change it, holy smokes is it nice!
Line up your  ruler along an edge at 4" and cut.  Continue doing this with your fabric stacks until your entire layer cake is all cut.

I realized this morning I forgot to take a picture last nite of my stacks as I was cutting.  Oops! All I did was make my cut at 4" and then slide the fabric off to the side in two piles.  When you're finished cutting all your squares you should have two stacks of fabric - one 4"x10" and one 6"x10".  

Here's my two stacks laid out next to my sewing machine all ready to piece together.  You'll want to mix up the fabrics some so you don't have a same or similar print sewn together.  Depending on how much control you like to have over your layout you'll either want to lay out all the pieces individually and sew your blocks together that way, or you can do what I do and just grab a small amount of fabric from one stack and mix it in.  I do this by taking about 4 pieces of fabric at a time from the top of the stack and placing them in the middle or on the bottom.  I repeat this a few times until I feel like I have a good mix.

Once you get towards the bottom of your stack, take a moment to look through the fabrics left and make sure you won't be left with two of the same print once everything is sewn together.
 Now, once you are satisfied with your fabric layout, take a 4" rectangle and lay it RST (right-side together) on top of a 6" rectangle.  You'll be sewing down the 10" length of the fabric.  I like to chain-piece here.  It's much faster and you use less thread.  Feel free to use whatever method you're comfortable with though!

Once all your blocks are sewn together and threads snipped, you should end up with a stack like this.  Take your stack to your ironing board and iron all the seams to one side.  It's important all the seams go in the same direction.  It doesn't matter if it's to the larger or smaller piece of fabric, just as long as they all go the same way.  I am left-handed and it seems to work better for me to iron all seams towards the smaller piece of fabric, but as I said, it doesn't really matter which side you pick - just be consistent! 

Once all your seams are pressed you should have a stack that looks like this!  Take this stack back to your cutting table.  Yes, we are going to cut it again!
This time line up your ruler so that you'll be cutting through both pieces of fabric (as shown above) on the 5" line.  Basically, we are taking the two pieces of fabric we just sewed and cutting them in half.  You'll end up with two stacks of identical rectangles.  At this point, you can either cut each one individually or stack a few together and cut.  I stack a few together at a time just because I'm impatient and it takes too long otherwise.  If you have a nice sharp blade, I would stack no more than 3-4 together at a time because your seam will make it bulky and harder to cut.

You should end up with two stacks like this.  Mix the fabrics up as you did before so no block will be matching.  Once fabrics are mixed to your liking, take one stack and flip it so that the smaller and larger pieces are opposite each other.  (Sorry! I forgot to take a picture of this part! If this doesn't make sense to anyone please comment and I'll try to clarify it a little better.  Basically, you want the two smallest blocks to be opposite when you sew these two pieces together).  

Begin by taking one block from each pile, taking care that your small blocks and large blocks are sewn opposite each other.  You should not have any seams butting together at this point.  You'll be sewing along the 10" length as before.  Sew the two pieces together and grab two more (one from each stack) and sew them together in the same manner as above.  Repeat this for each block until all pieces are sewn together.  

You should end up with a stack that looks like this.  Take your new stack back to the ironing board and iron all your blocks.  As before, iron to the same side though it doesn't matter which side you choose.  Once all your blocks are pressed open, you're ready to make them into rows! Congratulations, you're halfway done with a lap size quilt!!!

Here's a picture of mine all sewn into rows.  The easiest way to make your rows is to take two blocks and rotate one 90* so you don't have matching seams.  That's the beauty of this quilt, no seams will have to be matched except where you join your rows all together.

To make this easy for myself I find the last seam I made on a block.  It should be the seam that goes the whole 10" across the block.  I use this to help make my rows easier to piece.  For example, the first block will have the 10" seam facing horizontal and the second block will have the 10" seam vertical.  As long as the two seams are not going the same direction when you lay them RST you will not have any extra seams to match.

I sew two blocks together at a time and chain-piece, repeating sewing two blocks together, making sure my 10" seams are not facing the same direction, until all my blocks are paired together.  Then I snip all the threads, stack the blocks (which should now all be 2 blocks sewn together) and begin sewing in the same way, grabbing a stack of two blocks and sewing it RST with the next stack of two blocks - again, making sure my 10" seam is not facing the same direction as the piece I'm sewing it to.  Repeat this 6 times (you will have some leftover 2 block pieces at this point.  Don't worry, you're supposed to!)  so that you have 7 total rows with 4 blocks sewn together and 6- 2 block pieces leftover.

Now, take one of your 4 block rows and sew it together with a 2 block row, again making sure your 10" seams are not matching.  You should now have a row of 6 blocks all sewn together.  Congratulate yourself, it's your first row!

You'll want to repeat this for the remaining 6 rows with one exception.  Look at the first block in your first row and notice whether your 10" seam is horizontal or vertical.  Now, make sure your next row begins with the 10" seam going the opposite direction. Repeat this process for all 7 rows, making sure you alternate the 10" seam in each starting block.  (For example, your first row starts with a vertical 10" seam, second row with a horizontal 10" seam, third with a vertical 10" seams and so forth).

Now iron your rows so the seams all go the same direction and flip every other row the opposite way so your seams will abut when piecing your rows together.  I like to sew together the first 3 rows separately and the last 4 rows separately and then sew the 2 larger pieces together.  If you lay out your quilt on the floor or a design board, this will be easy to do.  I just find it easier to sew together a few smaller pieces and then sew them both together in one seam rather than sewing one row on to the next over and over.  It just makes the quilt top easier to handle I feel.

Now, congrats! You've made a quilt top! The best part? It looks scrappy and complicated but really it's super easy and quick and you have very little cutting and absolutely no waste!

There are an amazing amount of beautiful layer cakes out there by many different fabric companies and designers so start looking around and find one that suits you.

If you want to make a smaller quilt, just use the same method and only use 20 blocks instead of all 42.  You can get 2 baby quilts from one layer cake that way.  Use the 2 leftover blocks to piece into the quilt backs or border them and make a matching pillow for your quilt.

I'm making another quilt with the same fabrics I used here for my 2 boys.  They *need* new quilts for their beds and these have all the colors they like.  I'll blog about those in another post as I finish the other one up.

So, I'd love to know if you used my tutorial and how you liked it! I will try to update with better (and more) pictures soon.  I was working on this late last nite while the boys were asleep and it was quite dark outside.


The Mrs. said...

So many adorable fabrics!

Call me Cordelia said...

Going to try this. Thank you for explaining what a layer cake is :)