We have been doing quite a few projects recently that have used some quilting now it's time for us to venture into some proper quilting blocks and I thought we could start with a nice easy pattern, Log Cabin which is also known as Cathedral Steps. It is a great block to start with as it gets you used to cutting and sewing accurately. I know that the purists may say but you are using a machine but sometimes you need some instant gratification and later we will move on to hand sewing quilting blocks... but lets learn to walk before we embark on a marathon.
So let's get started, you will need:
A selection of fat quarters (I have a pack of six quarters and I know that I can get 3 cushions from this)
1/2 metre of plain contrasting fabric
Rotary Cutting Wheel
Self Healing Mat
Rotary Cutting Ruler
Iron (dry not steam)
Zip - I am using a 9" zip for a 12" cushion pad
Before you start, iron every piece of fabric flat... although it may look flat, it will need pressing.
If you are using fat quarters, cut along the 22" side as this will give you the longest strips of fabric. You need to cut your strips 1 1/2" wide - in quilting we use 1/4" seam allowance - you may hear this called a scant 1/4" seam allowance because it needs to be really accurate and this is a fine seam allowance. Very often you will find that the distance from the needle to the edge of the foot is a quarter of an inch, or else mark it up on the plate of your machine so you can use that as a guide.
Now a safety warning, Rotary Cutter are very dangerous, incredibly sharp, always cut away from yourself... and do not let me catch you leaving the safety catch off or woe betide you... say to yourself, "cut and close."
From your first strip, cut a square 1.5" x 1.5" which will make a square 1" square when you have sewn up the seams.
From your next strip cut another square exactly the same size, and sew it to your first strip, Iron the seam closed to the outside - do not use steam as this can distort the fabric and stretch the seam.
Now cut two pieces the same length as your two squares and sew them on each side and press the seams to the outside.
Next cut a length that fits across the top and sew it across the top - you have created your first round. Remember when you cut, to measure twice so you cut once. You will make mistakes and even after all this good advice that I dish out, I still lose concentration and make mistakes.
Now repeat this in the the same manner - ie, the short piece is always on the same side and the two medium pieces on the sides and the longest piece always in the same place... do be careful because it is easy to muddle them up (says the voice of bitter experience).
Continue until you have a square slightly bigger than the cushion pad you want to use.
We are then going to add a final round but instead of 1.5" we are going to 2" strips to finish off the cushion.
Now cut a piece of wadding that is 2" larger all round and a piece of cotton that is an inch larger all round. You are now going to make a sandwich with the plain fabric at the bottom, next the wadding and finally your pieced piece of quilting.
Starting from the centre and using flat headed quilting pins, pin the sandwich together.
Next we are going to stitch in the ditch - this means sewing close to the seam, Remember how we ironed all the seams to the outside, we are going to sew on the other side of the seam where there is the least amount of fabric (you are only going through three layers and not five!). Again I have used my foot for guidance but this time, I used the inside of my foot as the guide, keeping it running along the seam.
Start in the middle square, when you come to the corner, leave your needle down in the fabric, lift the foot, turn your work by 90' and lower your foot sew down the next side and repeat until you have sewn all four sides. Trim away the excess wadding and fabric
Measure your quilted square, and add 1.25" to one side (to allow for a 5/8" seam allowance), so if the cushion is 16" square, you need to cut a piece of fabric 16" x 17.25"... Now cut it in half, so that your pieces measure 16" x 8.5/8".
Now insert your zip - You want it to sit in the middle, which is just a quick bit of subtraction and division - your zip is 9" long, take that away from 16 = 7, now divide it by 2 = 3.5". This means you will need to mark in 3.5" in from each side and sew a seam at each end up to this point. And now you can press the seam OPEN!
Pin your zip in, remembering to place one side snugly against the teeth of the zip to ensure that the zip is well hidden. Open the zip fully - this will be important - believe me!
Pin the wrong sides together and sew a 1/4" seam all the way around. Cut off the corner triangles, so that when we turn the cushion we will get sharp corners. Remember how I told you to leave the zip open, well that is so we can turn the cushion right sides out, it is a swine to try and undo a zip from the wrong side.
Use your fish knife to create your sharp corner - fish knives are brilliant for this, they have no sharp blades so will not cut your stitches and the soft point of the tip will tease out the point - I am so glad I found another use for them.
Press the cushion and pin the final round together - we are now going to sew around the inside seam, to create an Oxford style cushion with a valance running around the cushion using a seam allowance of 3/8". Sew in your loose ends and sit back and enjoy your cushion.
If you want to you can totally change the effect by working two sides in one fabric, and the other side in another fabric, which really does create the Cathedral steps effect.
I have also thought that it might be nice to give this cushion away, so if you leave a comment on this post during this week, I will pull a name out of the virtual hat next Sunday morning and be in touch to send it to you.
Right, time to take a look at Wendy's Handmade Monday and see what everyone has been making over the last week.
What's that... did I buy... err yes, just a little sock skein. And no, Pierina found a rather lovely Debbie Bliss pattern but she is threatening to make my pink cardie if she finishes her project first...
This is a fabulous hand dyed skein from Chile... soft as an angel's breath... and the last in the shop :)
Good luck with winning the cushion!