Reviews, Sewing Room

Review: Seams-Flat Pressing Bar

I recently attended a local quilt show & conference and spent two glorious days viewing amazing quilts, shopping vendor booths, and taking classes. I learned so much and was so inspired!

In one of my classes, the instructor brought out a pressing bar for us to use when pressing the seams open of the quilt we were making. I had vaguely heard of these before, but hadn’t seen one in person. Pressing seams open has always been a very awkward process to me, as I would try to push the iron to open the seam and use my fingers (close to the iron!) to help open it up and inadvertently press other nearby seams that got in the way in the wrong direction. It would be a battle to repress seams and keep the open seams open!

When I tried out the pressing bar I was amazed! The seam easily opened and I could do it one-handed! Following that, I purchased the Seams-Flat Pressing Bar by Maywood Studio from Fat Quarter Shop. It a 17.75″ curved wooden core bar with 100% wool on top.

To use it, you simply place the quilt block on the bar, wrong side up. You then press the iron in the middle of the seam and glide it to the end, opening it up as you go. Because the seam is resting on this curved surface, it more naturally opens up and the other seams are not in the way. It’s quick and it works wonderfully with no extra fiddling!

I was using it today on my latest project: a Dear Jane quilt. This quilt has 225 different quilt blocks and since the majority are only 4.5 inches finished, pressing seams open becomes necessary! I’m going to get a lot of use out of this pressing bar.

Check out my blocks so far!

Fat Quarter Shop, Shortcut Quilt

Layer Cake Spools Quilt

When Fat Quarter Shop invited me to sew along for their new Layer Cake Spools pattern, I jumped at the chance! I love anything sewing-themed and the unique design of these spools really caught my eye. This pattern is part of their Shortcut Quilts series which is designed to be beginner-friendly and fast by using precut fabric. The patterns provide multiple sizes and best yet, they are free!

The spools quilt uses two layer cakes (10″ squares): one for the main prints and one for background. I grabbed the Starlight Gatherings Layer Cake which is my current favorite new fabric line featuring a range of pretty blues with tiny diamonds, stars, and florals. I stepped out of the “white background” box by picking up some yardage of a coordinating light blue color Bella Solids Glacier for the background.

When I looked over the pattern, I was so impressed with the construction of the spools. The main and background fabric are pieced together in an ingenious way to produce the mirrored effect. The pattern recommended using an 8.5″ square ruler to trim the blocks down to size. Since I wanted to embrace the quick nature of this pattern, I bought the Quilter’s Select 8.5″ Square Ruler (my favorite ruler brand) and was so glad I did! Being able to lay the ruler down on the oversized blocks and simply trim around them made it so fast.

The pattern instructions are very easy to follow, but to make it even easier Fat Quarter Shop posted a great step-by-step video tutorial on their YouTube channel: Layer Cake Spools Tutorial. They are also offering a fabric kit if you’d like to make this in the fabrics they show in the pattern: Layer Cake Spools Quilt Kit. You can find more free Shortcut Quilt pdf patterns at Fat Quarter Shop Shortcut Quilts.

The majority of my layer cake was blue prints, but there were some white prints as well. I decided to separate the colors and make sets of blue spools and white ones. When it came to assembling the blocks into the quilt, I tried out many different layouts and in the end put the white blocks in the center. I like how the blue spools create a nice frame around them!

As I always try to do, I took the opportunity to play around with many quilting designs. I used a back-and-forth line to represent the thread, but chose a different design for the spool caps of each spool. I tried out different orientations of straight lines, spirals, waves, and loop-de-loops, make each spool unique! I thought something more was needed between the spools, so I added a flower design.

For the backing of the quilt I used Starlight Gatherings Navy Starlight and I bought Starlight Gatherings Cadet Diamond Dot for the binding. I love how the backing reminds me of star quilt blocks — perfect for the theme!

I really enjoyed making this Shortcut Quilt. It only took a day to piece and assemble!

Finished Size: 61.5" x 61.5"
Pattern: Layer Cake Spools by Fat Quarter Shop
Fabric: Starlight Gatherings Layer Cake by Primitive Gatherings for Moda and Bella Solids Glacier by Moda
Kim Diehl, Simple Whatnots, Simple Whatnots Club 11

Smarty Pants Mini Quilt

I think I’ll use this little mini from Simple Whatnots Club 11 as decor on a small table or hang it on the wall of my sewing studio as a little work of art!

This mini quilt is only 10.25″ x 11.25″ and the pieces are just as mini: each square in the colorful 4-patches is 0.5″ finished! Whew! Luckily I didn’t have to sew together each tiny square. I used the amazing Creative Grids Turbo 4-Patch Ruler! You sew strip units together and cut the strips into pieces following the guides on the ruler for the finished unit you want to create. Then you assemble two of those pieces together to create a perfectly accurate 4-patch. It was so fun, I’m trying to figure out what else I can add 4-patches to!

Creative Grids Turbo 4-Patch Ruler

I kept the quilting simple so these little squares could be the star of the show. I used a walking foot on my domestic machine to create the diagonal lines. Conveniently the layout of the squares lended themselves well to this and I was able to follow the corners of the blocks to precisely create my lines.

Finished Size: 10.25" x 11.25"
Pattern: Smarty Pants from Simple Whatnots Collection 11 by Kim Diehl
Fabric: Right As Rain by Kim Diehl for Henry Glass
Kim Diehl, Simple Whatnots, Simple Whatnots Club 11

Keeping Room Wall Hanging

The third Simple Whatnots Club 11 project I completed is Keeping Room. Quite a bit larger at 35″ square, it definitely took longer to make. The pattern called for a more controlled color palette limited to the reds, greens, and golds in Kim Diehl’s Right As Rain fabric line. It was nice to try something different colorwise and with the unique blocks and border.

The cross-like shapes were fun to make. They were actually supposed to all be the same design, but I inadvertently changed the pattern of the light green/red blocks and didn’t see the difference until it was all assembled! Oh well — they remind me of ribbon wrapped around a gift!

The border was very intriguing to me. It makes a nice frame around the piece and I love the alternating colors. In general, my block sizes are usually very close to the sizes given in the instructions, but I know they can be 1/4″ off. So, I was a bit wary about attaching the border and whether it was going to fit on perfectly. A solid strip of border is a bit easier to adjust the size if needed without being noticable!

Surprisingly it magically matched up pretty good. I say “pretty good” because I did have to ease it in a little. And because of that easing, the center of the quilt ended up a bit “baggy”… I had spent so much time on it already that I didn’t want to take it apart and try to get it to fit better, so I thought, “I’ll just quilt it to death and maybe it won’t be noticable!” Hence, I progressively added elaborate arcs and dense fillers until it pounded down any loose fabric and made it look like an intentional medallion design. 🙂 (Shh! That’s my secret!) I’m actually very happy with it! The fact that it came out square and hangs on the wall straight (not wavy) gives me a bit of confidence about my long-arming skills!

Finished Size: 35.5" x 35.5"
Pattern: Keeping Room from Simple Whatnots Collection 11 by Kim Diehl
Fabric: Right As Rain by Kim Diehl for Henry Glass
Kim Diehl, Simple Whatnots, Simple Whatnots Club 11

Hayride Mini Quilt

When Simple Whatnots Club 11 started in January, I vowed to keep up with the monthly projects as best I could. We’re in the fifth month and I’m posting my second finish now, but I do have two more that are almost ready to share! 🙂 I’d say I’m doing pretty good — especially since I’m balancing this with some other block of the month programs I’m working on.

Hayride was fun to make! I like the scrappy spinning star shapes and the secondary pinwheel design you can see if you concentrate on the brown pieces. It is the perfect size for a table topper at 16″ square.

Since I had a few small projects ready to quilt at once, I put them on the longarm together! I could have used my domestic machine for such a small piece, but it definitely saved time to not have to baste the layers together and just throw it on the batting and backing I had already set up.

I traced around the star shapes and then added an extra outline to the white background squares to create some additional texture.

Finished Size: 16" x 16"
Pattern: Hayride from Simple Whatnots Club 11 by Kim Diehl
Fabric: Right As Rain by Kim Diehl for Henry Glass
Lori Holt

Flea Market Flowers Cross Stitch

A Flea Market Flowers finish just in time for Spring! I’ve been working on this cross stitch off-and-on for a year and decided to focus on it this past month to get it done. It turned out bigger than I thought it would (11.5″ x 13″), but it’ll be a nice-sized piece to hang on my wall! I love the bright colors and variety of flowers. I used the called-for DMC colors that came in the Flea Market Flowers DMC Thread Pack from Fat Quarter Shop.

I framed it with the Craig Frames 16 x 16 Inch Rustic Copper Picture Frame on Amazon. I chose the copper color to go with the border around the flowers. It gives it just the look I was hoping for!

My approach with this one was to stitch out all of the brown borders first and then fill in the flowers. This was to make sure I didn’t get off a stitch before I put too much work into the flowers and would need to rip them out. It worked really well! No mistakes!

I love working with Lugana cross stitch fabric. So far 25-count is my favorite — small enough holes that give the look I like, but not too small to see when I’m stitching.

Finished Size: 11.5" x 13"
Pattern: Flea Market Flowers by Lori Holt
Fabric: Barley 25 Count Lugana by Lori Holt, stitched over 2 with called for DMC
Edyta Sitar, Pillow Talk

Lone Star Pillow

This pillow came as a special request from my mom who said she could use a pillow for her living room chair. I had her look through the Pillow Talk book by Edyta Sitar which I had been wanting to make something out of but hadn’t yet, and she picked out the Lone Star pillow.

It was my first time making an 8-pointed star and it wasn’t a simple one. 🙂 It was interestingly pieced together from wedges cut from a strip set. These wedges were then combined using y-seams. Luckily I had recently learned how to sew y-seams, so it was a little less intimidating, however, that didn’t mean it was easy! I had to rip it apart multiple times before I got it right. Even then, I had some ill-fitting fabric in the corners that I was just hoping I could add some quilting to disguise.

I put this pillow cover on my longarm with a few other small projects I’ve been working on. I started by analyzing what part of the star I wanted to emphasize and did dense quilting in the rest to push it down. I played around with a couple different designs to add variety. For the border, I tried out to a rectangular pattern to keep it simple and clean, yet give it some texture. I really had fun with the quilting on this one!

I can’t wait to make more pillows from the book!

Finished Size: 18.5" x 18.5"
Pattern: Lone Star Pillow from Pillow Talk book by Edyta Sitar
Fabric: Laundry Basket Favorites by Edyta Sitar for Andover Fabrics
Anka's Treasures

Mr. Frosty Wall Hanging

How cute is Mr. Frosty! This pattern and fabric are designed by Heather Peterson of Anka’s Treasures whom I had the pleasure to meet in August 2021 at her presentation for my quilt guild. After seeing her trunk show of quilts, I purchased this kit (and some other patterns) at the meeting.

I love this classic snowman with some quilt blocks thrown in to look like snowflakes.

The original pattern was designed as a table runner, with the two snowmen placed opposite each other, head to head. As I pieced them together I decided they really need to be featured on a wall where I can easily see them, so I modified them and added a top border to each so they could be separate wall hangings.

Finished Size: 20.5" x 29"
Pattern: Mr. Frosty from Trendy Tables 3 book by Anka's Treasures
Fabric: Snowed In by Heather Peterson of Anka's Treasures for Riley Blake
Fat Quarter Shop, Sew Sampler Box

Fast and Flurrious Table Runner and Wall Hanging

The colors and patterns of this Cider fabric are something I wouldn’t have immediately chosen, but I grew to love them as I worked on this project. The fabric and table runner pattern came in a Sew Sampler box.

This was an easy, relaxing project and it was perfect to bring along to a quilt retreat I attended in September 2021. It’s comprised of two different types of blocks, so it was nice to assembly-line sew these and then lay them out to create the rows.

The table runner pattern was written to be even longer, but I modified it and used the remaining fabric to make a wall hanging.

I cycled through a few quilting designs for each shape and added some simple straight lines to the border.

Finished Size: 18.5" x 58.5" for table runner, 26.5" x 27" for wall hanging
Pattern: Fast and Flurrious exclusive to the Fat Quarter Shop Sew Sampler Box for January 2021
Fabric: Cider by BasicGrey for Moda Fabrics
Kim Diehl, Simple Whatnots, Simple Whatnots Club 11

Twist and Turn Mini Quilt

Last year I discovered pattern and fabric designer Kim Diehl who specializes in traditional style, mini quilts and applique. When I tried out one of her patterns, I was hooked! I absolutely love working with tiny pieces! I learned that each year she releases a new line of fabric and a set of mini quilt patterns for her Simple Whatnots Club. The 8-month club is only available through quilt shops and the shops provide the patterns and the coordinating fabric kits. I signed right up when I found it is offered from a local shop near me.

My shop offers a monthly meeting for the members where we receive that month’s pattern and tips and tricks for how to make it. We also share our projects with each other. In the January meeting we received our first pattern: Twist and Turn. For this project I spent about half of the time cutting out all these 1.5″ wide pieces and pairing them up to create a scrappy, but coordinated look. The main blocks went together pretty straightforward being all squares and rectangles.

Once it got time to assemble the blocks together, I had to think through the steps a bit more. This on-point layout with a triangular border was new to me. I had not done anything like it before. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out correctly!

I experimented with some detailed quilting in the border and some additional outlines in the blocks.

I can’t wait for our next meeting to share my work with the group and get the next pattern!

Finished Size: 16.5" x 22"
Pattern: Twist and Turn from Simple Whatnots Collection 11 by Kim Diehl
Fabric: Right As Rain by Kim Diehl for Henry Glass