Making a mini quilt 2: ‘Foursquare’ by Jo Morton – completing the quilting, and comparing quilting styles

I’m making the ‘Foursquare’ mini quilt from Jo Morton’s book Jo’s Little Favorites 2  (the middle one on the cover of her book).

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

I got a bit carried away with my quilting after my last blog post, and didn’t take pictures till the end – sorry!

I added wide dark brown fabric borders to the central panel of blocks, then removed all the papers from the little squares (I didn’t make a paper pattern for the wide borders). Then I ironed the quilt top, trimmed the edges completely square, then cut one piece of toning fabric for the back, using the top as a pattern. Using the top again as a guide, I cut a piece of thin wadding (a mini quilt only ever needs very thin wadding, or it would be out of scale). I cut it oversized at first, then trimmed it back as necessary, as wadding tends to ‘shift’ a bit as you pin it into position.

I cut two inch wide strips of the mustard colour print fabric, and made binding for the edges, which I hand stitched in place.

Foursquare mini quilt Jo's little Favorites 2 Jo Morton patchwork

For this quilt, I decided to give it a go and do the actual quilting by machine, which I now think was a mistake. It has come out very neatly, but a bit TOO neatly for me! It doesn’t seem to have much character to it now.

Foursquare mini quilt Jo's little Favorites 2 Jo Morton patchwork

I drew two lines in each direction with a water soluble pen on the fabric top, in each direction, to start me off, then the rest of the quilting lines I stitched by eye, once I’d got used to the amount of spacing to leave each time. I’d thought that would give it less of a ‘manufactured look’.

Foursquare mini quilt Jo's little Favorites 2 Jo Morton patchwork

It’s come out nice, but a bit bland, I think! The quilting is well-defined, but too regular for me.

Machine quilting example

In comparison, here are some other mini quilts that I’ve made previously. This one was a print of quilting squares that I made into a ‘cheater quilt’, as it’s not real patchwork – it’s just printed on! But I did hand quilt it, and it’s come up nice and ‘puffy’ now that it’s been washed.

Cheater quilt fabric

This design is called Lincoln’s Logs, and it’s the second quilt I ever made. My stitching is quite large on this one, but again it’s got a lot of character, so I like this one:

Hand quilting example

This one below is my favourite – the first one I ever made. The actual patchwork is pretty awful – you can see the tips of my triangles are cut off by the seamlines, as I stitched this one the ‘proper way’ by machine, and I kept getting my seam allowances wrong! But as far as the quilting goes, this one came out well – the stitches are small, the thread weight works, and the wadding was very thin, so it’s a flexible little quilt.

Four Fat Quarters hand quilting example

But machine quilting my mini quilts? Don’t think I’ll be trying that again.

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Making a mini quilt 1: ‘Foursquare’ by Jo Morton

Every now and then I take a break from embroidery, and doll’s houses, and make a mini quilt. They make a nice pause, in a way – quite quick to do, and portable, which I often need, as I travel quite a lot.

This quilt is one from a book that I recently bought on Amazon called  Jo’s Little Favorites 2 . Jo Morton has published several mini quilt books, and I love all of them! The quilt I’m going to make is the one in the middle on the front cover. It’s about 20 by 26 inches, when finished.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

I decided to make a few changes to the design shown in the book – I’m going to make it a little bit smaller, with not as many blocks to it, and I’m going to change the colourway so that mine has more red in it, and no blue. This is my planning stage:

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

I don’t stitch my quilts together on a machine – I hand piece them, as I love hand sewing. So, I work out the sizes of each block from the instructions in the book, then draw a full size paper pattern (photocopying multiples, if necessary, as that’s quicker), then cut out each block pattern from medium weight paper. Then I cut the fabric pieces – usually by hand, rather than using a quilt fabric roller cutter, as these are small quilts, and it doesn’t take long to cut each piece with scissors.

I use quilting glue (like Pritt Stick, but pink – and it dries clear) rather than tacking the fabric onto each piece, as it’s really quick and precise.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

This means that each block piece is accurately sized, and I can then decide how I want to piece them together.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

I use these nifty little clips when I’m oversewing two pieces together, to hold the edges in place strongly while I stitch.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

If you get ‘proper’ branded ones, they are really expensive, but cheap versions are available on Ebay, and to me they look the same, and are about a quarter of the cost.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

When each little block is stitched together, I can then assemble them into larger blocks, making sure that the pattern works.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

This is what the back looks like – you can just about see that on some of the pattern pieces I wrote ‘light’ or ‘dark print’ for example, so that I’d know how many of each type to cut from the fabrics. I leave the papers in until right at the end.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

Small blocks are sewn together into strips:

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

…and then the strips are sewn together to make the whole central panel of the quilt.

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

This shows the back, at this point:

Foursquare mini quilt patchwork Jo Morton book

So, now I’ve just got to make the wide border, then bind it, before doing the quilting.

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How to make a quick quilt: 1

I’ve decided to take a break from my embroidery and dollhouse projects for a bit, and make a quick quilt. This because I’m due to go on holiday in a few weeks, and I want to get a project started that will be very portable and simple to do while I’m on the move.

I’d actually been looking around for a simple embroidery project, but then I saw this lovely fabric, and decided that I really wanted it!! It’s a fabric by Northcott, called ‘Stonehenge: A Stitch in Time – Quilt Blocks panel’. I got a half yard piece for £7.50 from The Corner Patch, which is based in Sheffield. They have a really good website. I bought the yellow gingham (a Makower fabric) at the same time. The mustard colour fabric was just lurking in my stash  🙂

cheater quilt

I’m planning to use the yellow gingham for the backing, and the mustard fabric to bind the edges. The quilt is only little – it’ll be about 20 by 25 inches when it’s finished – more like a tabletop quilt than a cot quilt, even. Sometimes these panels that you just do quilting on, without having to make the patchwork first, is called a ‘cheater quilt’. I can see why! I’m planning to use it as a sort of blanket for my reproduction dolls to sit on, at the base of one of my doll’s houses.

I bought some wadding for the quilt from Cotton Patch, based in Birmingham, for £7.95 – they stock loads of different types of wadding, but the kind I bought is cotton/polyester blend, specially for hand quilting. I only needed a small piece, obviously, so I bought their small pack for crib quilts, and I’ll still have enough left over to make several more of this size.

cheater quilt fabric yardage

I sandwiched up the layers, and pinned them one on top of the other, then tacked the fabrics together in both directions, starting from the centre and using long straight stitches, with the rows about three inches apart.

patchwork fabric

Then I just have to do running stitch along all of the lines on the fabric where they have already printed little running stitches! This is so easy, and it’s a great project to do in short bursts, when I only have a few minutes at a time. The ‘patches’ are about four inches square on the fabric, and each one takes about an hour to quilt. The wadding is thin enough to quilt by hand, and makes nice little ‘puffs’ on the fabric, which you can see in the picture above – the patch in the top right hasn’t been quilted yet, but the one on the left has.

I like to use a number 10 size quilting needle for my hand quilting. They are very short, so they are easy to manoeuvre through the layers of fabric. I’ve got a quilting thimble, but I never use it, so I just put up with getting  a hole in my middle finger!!

I used polyester thread for the basting, and 100% cotton quilting thread 50/2 by Aurifil in a deep cream for the actual quilting, which I bought from the Cotton Patch when I bought the wadding.
hand quilting

It’s quite obsessive, once I get going on it – I love the rhythm of just making the simple running stitches, over and over again. It’ll be a good one to take with me on my hols!

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Are you interested in doll’s houses and stitching? Then why not visit my website, where you can buy doll’s house needlepoint kits to make all kinds of soft furnishings for one-twelfth scale dollhouses. There are over 280 kits to choose from, plus chart packs, fabric project packs, tutorials, and lots of eye candy to inspire you! Kits are available on 18 and 22 count canvas, 28 and 32 count evenweave, and 32 and 40 count silk gauze, so there’s something for everyone – from beginners to experts.

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Book review: Learn to do hand quilting in just one day, by Nancy Brenan Daniel

I recently bought this slim A4 size paperback of 64 pages after seeing very good reviews of it on Amazon.co.uk. It was originally published in 1996, but the first edition had about half the pages, and only a few projects. This edition, from 2008, has been expanded to have eight projects (most of them new ones), but the basic text is the same.

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After the large title of ‘Learn to do hand quilting in just one day’ it is easy to overlook the sub-title, ‘…and then practice for the rest of your life’. The author, Nancy Brenan Daniel, makes it very clear from the beginning of the book that basic hand quilting is an easy skill to pick up, but it is constant practice which makes an average quilter into an expert one. There are many tips that Nancy imparts, in a friendly but informative tone. The early pages, describing equipment and materials, give the pros and cons of various things you could choose, rather than being bossy about what you ‘should’ use.

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The ‘Getting ready to hand quilt’ section shows you how to start and end your threads, and detailed descriptions with diagrams on how to make the ‘dimple-style’ running stitch that you will use to quilt. There is a good Q & A section at the end of that chapter about how to improve your technique.

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Then the projects. Personally, I am not into ‘quick and easy’ modern-style projects, even though I can see their usefulness. I want to get straight on with the difficult stuff! There are both types in this book. I was drawn to buy this book by the picture on the cover, as that is the kind of project I want to make – an almost ‘wholecloth’ look, with just a little patchwork around the edge, more like a deep border than a patchworked piece, really. Maybe that’s ambitious, but it’s likely to be the first project that I tackle from this book. The instructions for it are detailed, with template designs for all the elements printed full size on the pages, and suggestions for how to finish the quilt.

HQ 5

At the back of the book are several pages of quilting motifs, to use in your own projects (not just the ones in this book), which make it good value for money, as buying individual quilting stencils can work out quite expensive.

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I can see why this book gets such good reviews on Amazon – it really is a useful book. There are many books on patchwork designs and techniques, and on machine quilting, but not many on the hand quilting side – especially the more ‘traditional’ aspects.

It is published by the American School of Needlework, and costs $9.95 (I paid £5 on Amazon). ISBN 978 1 59012 230 3.

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