Quilted, bound and washed. Signed, sealed and delivered. It's DONE!
Create an art quilt for Kindergarten teacher to celebrate her marriage and name change. I wanted to the kids' artwork to be the focus, so I choose black and white fabric to frame each square. Hand lettered the name and info boxes with the same lettering I use when writing for my daughter to copy. I thought about doing something on the PC, but I wanted the relaxed, fun look that went with the kids' handwriting. Kept it small (32" W x 40" H) so she could hang it in the classroom.
* 1 yd Kona Cotton (Snow)
* Freezer Paper (avail. at Grocery store, stocked with foil, etc) cut to 6" squares
* Pentel Fabric Fun pastels (avail. at Blick art supply and on line for less than $4 a set) (I bought three sets to make it easier to share, but you could get away with two)
* Elmer's Painters acrylic paint pens (avail. at Michaels)
* 1/2 yd paper doll pattern by Micheal Miller
* 1 yd rulers & patterns from the Moda Peas & Carrots line
* 1 yd backing fabric and 10" of binding fabric, both from an older line by Andover
* 1 package of "craft size" 100% cotton batting
* Clover bias tape maker (1/2" size) (avail. at sewing stores and on line)
* Neutral cotton thread to join and black to quilt
* Basic sewing tools and machine
Making the 6.5" Art Blocks:
* Prep the artwork squares by cutting to 6.5" and backing each square with freezer paper to stabilize for drawing. I cut the freezer paper to 6" to show the seam allowance (and keep the iron clean).
* We did this in class as a center activity (just asked the teacher not to pay too much attention), which meant working with only 5 or 6 kids at a time for about 10-15 minutes. Several other moms were nice enough to come in and help, so we had lots of adult management.
* Before class I did a sample square with the edging fabric sewn on to make the concept of seam allowance concrete. They want to write on the edge, as is usual with K artwork, so you have to make it clear that their name won't show if they do that. I'm making a big point about this here because even with the paper backing cut 1/4" short and all the instructions, we still had to catch a few edge writers. They were all really concentrating and did great work, but it's a new concept to them.
* We had the kids do most of their art with the pastel sticks. They feel enough like crayons that the kids were very comfortable coloring with them. I LOVE these pastel sticks! The color goes on rich and stays that way after heat setting and even after washing. I did just the quilting on one of these projects in the past where the basic fabric markers were used and the color faded miserably. Those kids were bummed and so was I. For this project I wanted bright, vibrant colors that could be washed.
* We encouraged them to fill the square completely with one SIMPLE image and lots of color. We suggested flowers, their hands, butterflies, hearts, rainbows, etc. As you can see, the power of suggestion is pretty strong at this age, but all the artwork is their own. We stressed that it was like making a card for their teacher and they should think of things she would like. Given the thickness of the pen tips and the kids' ages, I said no writing except for their names.
* Outlines and lettering were done with the markers. We discovered immediately that it was best to keep the markers off the table until the pastel artwork was done. The paint pens write well on top of the pastels, but not the other way around. The paint stays wet for a bit, especially if on top of a heavy layer of pastel, and too much paint can saturate and bleed, so again, it's best if these are used last and with adult supervision.
* Came home and ironed the squares with a hot, dry iron to set the pastels and paint. Be sure to remove the freezer paper first. It's important to place a piece of tissue paper under and over each square to soak up the extra pigment. After heat-setting the colors will not blend or rub off. They're permanent.
Making the 10.5" bordered blocks:
Cut 2.5" strips of black & white fabric selvage to selvage.
From each strip cut two 6.5" x 2.5" strips and two 10.5" x 2.5" strips.
Arrange the art blocks to balance the themes and colors. Then match the b&w pattens to each block, again balancing the prints. Don't get too stressed - just avoid obvious pooling.
Sew the 6.5" strips to each side of each block and press seams toward b&w fabric.
Sew the 10.5" strips to the top and bottom of each block and press seams toward b&w fabric.
Cutting the 8.5" tilted blocks:
Tilting the blocks adds movement and keeps the fun feel of the artwork, especially with the strong lines made by the ruler prints. After finishing all the 10.5" blocks, lay the quilt out again and tilt each block right or left, some a touch more than others, and alternating each block.
Cut each block to 8.5" square as described below, double-checking the tilt direction before beginning to cut. I love strip piecing and assembly line work, but cutting the blocks one at a time with the layout in sight is good here so you can check the direction of each tilt against the whole before cutting.
I used a square ruler I had, which was larger than the finished block size, so I marked the center and edges with masking tape to make alignment easy. The swiveling 12" cutting mat (Olfa) isn't required, but it's fun to use and keeps you from having to shift the block between cuts.
NOTE: I'm left handed, so your rotary cutter blade, tape marks and cutting direction may all be reversed. I just thought of this - I don't really know how a right handed person cuts! So, sorry to you unlucky 90%, but you'll just have to work it out to suit you the way we lefties have to do every day.
Using your center bit of tape, find the middle of the block, check the tilt and then make the first cut.
Without moving the ruler or block, turn 1/4 rotation and make the second cut. I put the first cut back for this photo, but you will have scrapped it.
Lift the ruler and turn the block so the two cut edges are under the taped marks. To be sure your block will be square, double check these edges. Don't watch the fabric or seams, which are tilted - watch the cut edges and the ruler marks.
Make the third cut. Again, without moving the block or ruler, rotate and make the final cut.
Finished! Place the block back in the layout and do the next one.
Join the blocks and complete the quilt top as usual. We only have 17 kids in the class, so I ran the teacher's name across two blocks and used the last one as the info block. I just stitched in the ditch with black thread because of time constraints and to keep it simple.
Making the binding with Clover bias tape maker:
This is easy peasy. I'm very happy with this little tool.
For the 1/2" tape size, cut 1 7/8" strips from selvage to selvage and join as usual for binding (with angled joins pressed open to reduce bulk).
Trim one end of the binding to a blunt point make it easy to load into the tape maker.
Slide it through the slot. The slot guides the fabric to a perfect tape fold. There are no moving parts - that little metal bar just flips up to give you something to hold while you gently pull the fabric through the gadget.
Iron the binding as it slides out of the tape maker. DO NOT slide the iron - lift it up and down and press. Sliding warps the fold.
Pay attention to the seams when they reach the tool. Guide them in smoothly while keeping them flat.
I've found it faster to do the second step of ironing it folded over to 1/2" while each section is on the ironing board. (Please excuse my nasty looking ironing board cover - those are just plain water stains from steaming - makes me scared to drink the tap water!)
I cut this fabric on the straight, but of course you can cut your fabric on the bias and get a true, stretchy bias tape.
Just like with purchased bias tape, one side will be slightly shorter than the other. Sew the shorter side up.
Because of the widely spaced quilting, before trimming the quilt I did a 1/4" line of stay-stitching (longest stitch setting on the machine) around the edges. If you do heavy quilting you might not need it.
Trim the edges.
Leaving about six inches at the beginning, place the bias tape around the raw edges and sew the binding around the quilt.
At corners sew to just short of the end (not over) and cut thread (NOT tape). Take the quilt off the machine and fold tape over next side. Tuck the ends to create a mitered corner - it happens naturally, just fiddle with it to make it nice and even. Start sewing again over the mitered corner with a short back-tack.
Finish the binding as usual (check a quilt book if this is new to you).
If you want to hang the quilt with a dowel rod, be sure to apply loops before binding. Space five 1.5" loops across the top on the back of the quilt. Sew the raw edges aligned with the edge of the quilt. The raw edges will be caught under the binding. (That blue fabric isn't part of this quilt, but it does make a nice background for the photo!)
Isn't this backing fabric fun! All this fabric came from the depths of my stash, so I was thrilled to see how well it all went together. This pattern is based on art from the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe New Mexico. I visited years ago and loved it. Definately worth a side trip if you're in that area.
Wash the quilt in cold water and dry on low. The previously stiff artwork squares will soften and everything will come together nicely. Add a $.79 dowel rod and you've got classroom wall art and a great teacher's gift! Have fun.