Pretty Fast Pot-Holders

Do you ever have one of those weeks that turns into one of those months? You think you have everything laid out in a timely fashion and suddenly it’s a few weeks later and you haven’t done half of what you meant to do? That’s been my September! I can’t believe October is almost here. I picked two big buckets full of walnuts out of my yard yesterday, the sugar maples are just starting to turn, and the ragweed (and my allergies) are in full bloom. It’s officially Fall.

I love to bake when the weather gets snappy, but when I went to pull some cookies out of the oven last night, I discovered I was down to a single pot-holder. Our dog, Jaclyn, has been growing up the last year, and I’m afraid a few pot-holders fell victim to her puppy need to destroy.

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Jaclyn doesn’t look like the face of utter destruction, does she?

So today, we’re going to make a pot-holder, perfect for all your cooking and baking needs as well as for gifts! I have a couple orphan blocks I want to put to use today, but you can use any block or piece of cotton fabric.

Supplies:

  • Two squares of fabric or two blocks – approximately 8″x8″
  • Insul-Bright or other thermal batting
  • 3″ of cotton ric-rac or other natural fiber ribbon for loop handle
  • Sewing supplies (e.g., machine, thread, scissors)

To get started, cut your fabric or size your blocks to the desired size square. Cut a square of Insul-Bright batting the same size.

1 Cut out batting

Fold the ric-rac into a loop and place it in the corner of the right side of the fabric, pointing in. Layer the two fabric squares right sides together and the batting on top.

Sew a quarter inch all around, leaving a 2″ opening. Trim corners.

4 opening and trim

Turn.

5 turning

Press opening to the inside and top stitch to secure closed.

6 sew opening closed

Finish quilting on the machine, or get some perle cotton and do some big stitch hand quilting.

7 quilting

Voila! Now I’ll be ready for all my baking adventures.

8 finito

If you make a pot-holder, we want to see it! Share with us over on Facebook or Instagram. And while you’re over on Instagram, join me tonight from 7-8pm (CDT) for a live craft-in. I’ll be playing some tunes, working on a sweet little hexie project that’s near and dear to my heart, and answering any questions y’all have. I won’t get to do one next week because I’ll be in Des Moines at QuiltWeek, but I’ll be back to our regular schedule after that.

Happy creating!

Emily

How to Size Half Square Triangles

The ubiquitous half square triangle block. (Often called in HST.) They’re just about unavoidable in quilting, but many do avoid them! There are so many methods for making them and I could easily write a post just on all those methods, but often the reason a quilter would avoid an HST is because you go to all the effort of making them, and then they easily end up wonky and points get lost. It’s really discouraging to do a lot of work for a result that doesn’t look like you wanted! So today I’m going to show you the most consistent way to get accurate, beautiful half square triangles: sizing.

All you need are some HSTs, a cutting board, a rotary cutter, and an acrylic ruler.

1 uncut hst

Unless a pattern already included instructions to “size” your HST, make your HST bigger than the dimensions given in the pattern. An eighth to a quarter of an inch should be plenty of extra. For instance, a lot of patterns make HST by marking the center diagonal across a square, sewing a quarter inch seam on both sides of the line and cutting that apart to make two HST. The measurements for these squares end in the size of the finished block plus 7/8″ which I always round up to make a whole inch. So for this 6″ finished block, I cut a 7″ square instead of a 6 7/8″ square.

2 lined up ready to cut

Place your ruler over the HST so that the diagonal line of the HST matches a 45° angle, and adjust until the whole block fits within the size of the unfinished block with some hanging out all sides as shown. I’m using an Olfa Frosted 12.5″ ruler, and it’s my go-to for sizing because of that diagonal line and great visibility with no slipping. (Not sponsored, I just love the Frosted line so much and am always surprised more people don’t use them.) If your ruler doesn’t have a 45° line to the corner like mine, notice that the inch intersections also line up, and align to that. Aligning the diagonal to the 45° line is what makes for perfect points later.

3 first cuts

Trim the first side, and the top if you feel confident in your cutting skills. If you’re only comfortable trimming one side at a time, turn the HST now to trim the side opposite your first cut, lining up the 45° angle once again.

4 line up

Line up the ruler to the trimmed sides of the HST. If you trimmed the side and top, your HST will look like my picture. If you trimmed the left and right sides, turn to now trim the top and line up the diagonal again. When you trim the bottom, your HST will resemble this picture.

5 last cut

The HST is all trimmed! A perfect 6.5″ square for my 6″ finished block.

The picture in the header of this post is a closeup of the stack of 68 HST I need to press and size. Far from the most I’ve done in one go, but still a little daunting when I look at it! More than anything though, I’m impatient to get through them, because they’re for a quilt I’m designing just for y’all!  Be sure to check out our Instagram for more sneak-peeks and and behind-the-scenes.

Happy creating!

Emily

Inspirational Pillow DIY

A few weeks ago I gave a tip on using metallic embroidery to up your embellishment game. I improvised a little design of an inspirational phrase, and today I’m going to show you how to turn that into a pillow.

Front and back

The phrase and design can be anything you want. I used my own handwriting for this, but you could type out your desired phrase with a cool font and trace it if you like for everything to be just so.  Once the front of the pillow is made, cut a back the same shape and size as the front.

opening

Layer the front and back pieces right sides together and sew all around, leaving an approximately 2″ opening at the bottom of the pillow. You can see in the picture that I reverse stitched back over my sewing line to secure the opening. Trim corner off for sharper corners.

turn

Reach into the opening and pull the pillow through so it’s right sides out. At this point, use something pointy but not sharp—like a knitting needle—to push out the corners and seams. I like to press everything flat then because it helps set the opening, but it’s totally optional. Stuff the pillow with something inexpensive like Poly-Fil, or scrap batting, yarn, and fabric. I’ve even had friends use plastic bags as stuffing in purely decorative pillows!

ladder stitch in progress

Close the opening with your preferred method. I’m doing a ladder stitch in this photo, but a whip stitch or even a top stitch by machine works fine.closed opening

All closed!

pillow

And all done! A perfect little reminder for myself to enjoy every day, or a great gift for a friend.

Happy creating!

Emily