Fabric is one of the great recyclables. Once you’ve created something out of large quantities of fabric, you always have leftovers, and it’s the leftovers that can make for the best recycled projects.
One of the oldest recycled fabric projects is a quilt, and I have a couple photos of some of the quilts I’ve been working on this past year. The Sampler Quilt is a great quilt for beginners because it teaches you how to make easy pieced quilt squares. Putting them together is a snap and then you get the opportunity to learn the art of quilting on a small piece. Mine is 12 squares, but most of the people who followed along with me only made six squares to create a wall hanging.
Then, for my husband’s 50th birthday, I made him this baseball quilt. He’d been asking for a quilt ever since we got married, 25 years ago, so I felt it was finally time to get busy! I have all the instructions for these if you are interested. Just check out our sewing section under quilting.
But, for those of you who are really just beginning and don’t want to take the time to make an entire quilt or even a wall hanging, a single quilt square can be made into all sorts of things. How about the front face of a pillow? You could make a pretty bag out of one. You can even just frame a pretty quilt square and that’s what we are going to do right now.
To start, you need to select the design you want to make. I suggest you start with an easy one until you have a little more experience. Stay away from curves and appliqué for now. I’ve decided to do the Wheel block and it looks like this. It is put together by making four smaller squares.
Of course the selection of color is critical to making a great looking square. I chose a neighboring color scheme of reds and violets and chose a light, medium and dark fabric for contrast.
To cut out the pieces, use a guide. I LOVE this book I bought years ago, but you can find templates on line to copy and there are thousands of quilt patterns out there, so just go take a look.
Use gridded plastic to make your templates and cut out your fabrics. Many times there are lines on the templates telling you to place the template on the grain of the fabric. This helps when you have all of the different pieces of fabric sewn together. The edges stay straighter and the block won’t stretch.
You can either hand sew the pieces together or if you are impatient like I am, use the sewing machine. I always figure there will be enough hand sewing when it comes time to quilt! I recommend using Coats Cotton All Purpose thread when stitching.
Stitch the smaller pieces together first, then combine them to make larger squares. In my design I put together the two triangles first, then the triangle and strip, and then I sewed the two halves together to make one quarter of my block.
When you are sewing, make sure to use a ¼ inch seam allowance on everything. Then, after every seam you stitch, hand press the edge down towards the darker fabric.
When you have the smaller squares sewn together, take them to the ironing board and press the seams down. This way, your four squares will go together more precisely.
Once the entire block is put together, go to the iron and really press the seams down flat. You’ll be so happy when you see how pretty your quilt square looks when it is ironed!
To frame it, I bought a 12” square frame which is just about the finished size of your blocks. They should come up at 12 ½ inches square which will give you some fabric for overlapping.
Place the backing of the frame on the back of your quilt block and fold the edges over. You may want to press the edges in place. However be VERY CAREFUL not to melt the backing from the frame. Touch only touch the fabric with a warm iron.
To hold the fabric in place, I used black electrical tape because I wanted to hide the fabric and blend in with the black backing.
It worked great, and once you slip it into the frame, you’ve created a lovely piece of art and finished your first lesson in quilt making!