I have had so much fun making these little panel quilts, and they have been very popular with customers too! They are a great way to get in a little free motion practice and have something you can finish quickly. Many of them are similar in size, (approximately 11" square) so I will include some measurements, but make sure to check yours for sure! The first two above feature the artwork of Alaskan artist Jon Van Zyle, who I have been a fan of for 35 years!
First of all, they are notoriously printed crooked on the fabric.... I always try stretching them a bit, but not too much, then I trim them square. Because I am putting an accent strip around the edge, up to 1/2" will be covered up, so I can leave up to that much of the black border to maximize the size. However, I can get away with just one strip (width of fabric) of accent fabric if I only leave 1/4" of black.
The second photo shows after stretching but before trimming, the third photo is a different one, but after trimming. You just need to go by the lines on the mat, nothing else is square!
The next step is to cut the flange/accent strip. I cut it 1 1/8", but you can do one inch if you want also. Then press it in half lengthwise. A nifty trick is to press part of it, then put a pin tightly around it on the ironing board as in the first photo. You can just pull it through and press it as it comes through.
Stitch it all the way around the edges of your panel, with the folded edge toward the center, and with anything less than a 1/4" seam allowance...this is just to tack it on. It will get stitched accurately with the border seam. Cut each end even with the panel, no extra is needed. It doesn't matter what order you do them either, I just go around.
The panel in the last photo is horribly wrinkled too, even after pressing, but I knew the free motion stitching would disguise that! See the finished quilt at the top of the post.
The next step is to add the borders. I cut those 3 1/2" wide. I need to cut two strips, width of fabric, but if I am making two panels with the same border fabric, then I only need three for both. Add the sides first, and cut even with the panel, then add the top and bottom. I don't even cut them first, I just take my strip and start sewing, and trim it at the end. On a large quilt, it may get distorted that way, but you can get away with it on these little ones! It's funny that I actually like math, but many of my projects eliminate much of it. It's more about saving time for me! I have learned when I can get away with squaring things up at later :-)
Then I stack my little quilt top with batting and muslin, about 17" square. You could add the back now instead of the muslin if you want, but I like to cover up the stitching in the center on the back.
Quilting the center, using the design as a guide for patterns and colors. Have fun with this! I usually just outline the main shapes, so they puff up a bit. Then I add the back and quilt the borders. You could do the border quilting before adding the back if you don't want any quilting to show on the back too.
Time to finish! Trim it square on the cutting mat. Then I cut my binding strips 1 5/8". This allows me to make a 3/8" wide binding, which is about the width of the needle to the edge of a regular straight stitch foot. I do the sides first, then the bottom. The top edge will get the hanging tabs added first. After the first row of stitching on the binding, finger press or press it from the front, then wrap around to the back, and fold over, making sure it is covering your first line of stitching. Pin in place, then turn to the front and stitch in the ditch, or hand stitch it if you want. For the top and bottom, make the binding strips about 3/4" too long on both ends, and wrap them around at the beginning and end of the first row of stitching. No mitered corners! My card patterns have more details about this binding method, too much to write here.
Now the hanging tabs... Take three 5" squares of backing fabric. (sorry, mine looks crooked in the photo!!) Fold in half diagonally and press, then fold in half again so all the raw edges are on the same side. Place them on the top back of your quilt, two at the ends and one in the center. These can be caught in the binding stitching, then you just have to tack down the three tips by hand. This creates an easy 'sleeve' to put a dowel through. Or you can skip it and use pins to hang them like I usually do :-)
Congratulations, you are done! Let me know if anything is not clear, I'm writing this really fast, ha!
Happy sewing, Beret
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I am a homeschooling mom of three fun kids, who are now old enough that I have a little time to pursue my passion for sewing! After several years of making quilted cards and art quilts, I'm now designing kits and patterns. Some of them have even been in Keepsake Quilting! I teach classes at local quilt shops, and would love to do more traveling and teaching eventually. I also have many tutorials, including some on you tube. I am blessed to live in Alaska where I am surrounded by the inspiration provided by the beauty of God's creation!
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