Diabolical Jane: a Tutorial

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Hi Friends!  If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen the little flurry of activity surrounding this quilt… It’s a copy of a nearly 200 year old quilt that I first saw on a museum tour with the DC Modern Quilt Guild.  I was absolutely obsessed with remaking it in today’s glorious fabrics and it turns out some others are interested in doing the same (have you seen Melinda’s fabulous start?)  I’ll tell a little more of the story of my quilt when it’s finished, but for now I want to get the tutorial up so anyone who’s interested can join in the fun!

In the interest of keeping this free and not too lengthy, I’m going to describe the process I used to lay out and construct my quilt, but I won’t provide a diagram of exactly which fabric went where and which fabrics repeat where.  You can study the pic of the original and my photos for a sense of the design, then go ahead and make it your own!

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The original quilt, circa 1830. Photo from the book “Workt by Hand”

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Center of my quilt- borders yet to be added.

Notice that the quilt has a center X made of 5, 4″ x 11″ pieces on each arm, and then four identical large, layered triangles, each with a square at the apex of each layer and 4″ x 11″ strips radiating out from the apex square in two matching strips.  It’s easiest to lay out your pieces from the middle out, then we will construct the quilt from the sides working in.  The center ends up to be 74″ square and the original had 14″ wide borders.

The heart and soul of this quilt lies in the fabric selections!  The pieces are large and the sewing is easy, so take your time and enjoy playing with the placement of your fabrics.

It can be helpful to start with more fabrics than you need, so you will have options as you work.  This is a great place to use larger scale fabrics that you love and don’t want to cut too small.  Or fabrics that you bought but didn’t know what to do with because they are so bold!

I recommend cutting your fabric in a few batches, rather than pre-cutting the whole quilt before you start.  You are likely to shift things around and make new decisions as you build the layers.


 

Fabric Requirements:

Center:

20, 3/8-1/2 yd pieces (there are a few spots in my quilt where I repeated fabrics, so you may need up to 3/4yd of a few fabrics if you intend to copy the placement of mine exactly.)

1, 8″ X 12″ or 4″ x 20″ piece (middle 5 squares)

Border:

(I give requirements for a border all the way around, no cutouts like the original)

3 yds for a 9.5″ border

OR

4 1/4 yds for a 14″ border like the antique quilt has. (strips will be cut crosswise and pieced)


Begin:

From the 8″ x 12″ piece, cut 5, 4″ squares for the center of the quilt.  Lay these out on your design wall (or design floor!) in a checkerboard.

DJ first squares

Select about 10 of your 3/8 yd pieces that you want to use at the center of the quilt.  From each, cut 8, 4″x 11″ rectangles and 4, 4″ squares.

Cutting diagram

Cutting Diagram

 

Beginning in the middle, arrange your strips for the center X.  There are 5 strips radiating from each side of the center square.

DJ center X

Lay out center X

 

Then begin laying out your large triangles.  Choose one of your sets of squares to form the apex.  Add four strips radiating out from each exposed side of each square.  Cut 4 additional squares of the fabric you choose for the edge and place squares.

DJ step 2

By now you might have an idea which fabrics are working and which are not.  Now is a good time to select and cut more fabrics in the same manner:  8, 4″ x 11″ squares and 4, 4″ squares.  Continue to build your triangles towards the edges of the quilt.  Work in the squares you have cut as you continue.  I had fun and reduced the number of decisions I had to make by matching squares and rectangles in the same positions as the original.  As you get to the edges, you may need to cut a few more squares to fill in the spaces at the edges.

DJ step 3

Center before trimming

Refer to above diagram to see what your layout will look like when it’s done.  Once you are happy with your layout, you can start assembly.

Assembly:

1/4″ seam allowance used throughout

DJ step-outs

We begin in the center of each side of the quilt.  Sew the three squares together as shown.  For the next layer, line up your pieced square unit with one side rectangle as shown and stitch.  Sew the apex square to the other side rectangle, then sew that pieced strip to the other side of the pieced squares.  Continue building your side triangles in the same manner, piecing the strips before attaching them to the central unit.  Always align the pieces next to the apex squares.  The outside edges will be quite uneven.  Piece all 4 side triangles in the same manner.

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Sew the center X together into 4 long strips.  Attach 2 strips to opposite sides of the center square.

Sew 2 side triangles together with one center x strip.  Repeat with the other 2 side triangles and center strip.  Then assemble all 3 large pieces, aligning seam allowances around the center square.

Trimming:

DJ measureDJ step 3

Be sure your top is well pressed.  Measure and mark a dot at each corner, 8.75″ out from the seam and 2″ in from each raw side edge of the rectangle.  These dots should line up with the corners of the center square on each side.  Draw a line connecting these points, using anything you might have to get a straight edge.  I lined up several quilting rulers, which allowed me to also use the 45 degree lines to check that my edge was straight.  But even a broomstick would work.  Trim along this line.  Don’t panic if you have to trim a little further to get it all square. The original has missing points and it really doesn’t matter in this design.

Mathematically, the trimmed top should measure 74.5″.  Measure yours across several points to figure out how large to cut your border!

Add Border:

For a 9.5″ border, simply cut your 3 yard piece into 4,  10″ strips parallel to the selvage.  Trim two strips to the same length as your center width measurement (74.5″)  Attach borders to two opposite sides.  Cut the remaining strips to your measurement + 19″ (93.5″).  Attach borders to the two remaining sides.

For a 14″ border, cut 10, 14.5″ strips across the width of the fabric.  Sew these together in two sets of two and two sets of three.  Cut the shorter strips to your top measurement (74.5″)  Cut the longer strips to your measurement + 28″ (102.5″).  Sew the shorter strips onto two opposite sides first, and then sew on the longer strips.

Note this quilt is susceptible to wavy borders because of the bias trimmed edges.  For more help getting your border on correctly, see this fabulous tutorial from Anjeanette.

I hope some of you will decide to join in the fun and make a Diabolical Jane!  Here’s a downloadable line drawing of the quilt for adult-coloring fun:

Diabolical Jane Line Drawing

xo,

Jessie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to work with Orange Peel templates

Ready for appliqueThis method of preparing shapes for applique will work for any shapes with convex (outside) curves, like leaves or circles.

Orange peel is an applique pattern which means, at the core of things, that a piece of fabric is being cut into a certain shape and stitched down onto another piece of fabric. There are many of ways to get the shape you desire in applique, but I almost always use freezer paper templates, because I find it the easiest way to get smooth curves and sharp points.  By preparing the folded edge in advance, I feel like I can relax and enjoy the applique stitch. And, this method generally involves no extra marking pens or pencils, which I always have such a hard time with.

(Snowflakes die-cut freezer paper shapes are available for sale here)

Choosing a size:

Orange peels are sized by the finished size of the square upon which they fit diagonally. So you can plan on a 2.5” orange peel (which is actually almost 3.5” tip to tip) taking up 2.5” of space, vertically and horizontally, in your quilt.

IMG_5903Preparing the shapes:

First, lay your fabric face down on your ironing surface and give it a quick press without steam. Arrange your shapes, shiny side down, on the fabric, at least 5/8” apart. For curved applique pieces, it will help you achieve a smooth curve if you have as much of the curve on the bias (diagonal) as possible. So when possible I arrange the pieces with the corner points on the two straight grains and that puts most of the curve on the diagonal. This is the ideal method, but if you have a stripe or other design that you want to go a certain way on the pieces, go ahead and follow that instead.IMG_5909

Now press the shapes with a medium-hot iron just for a second or two to adhere them to the fabric. Wait a bit for them to cool, then cut out leaving a generous 1/4- 3/8” seam allowance.

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Now to baste the edges: Thread a sharp, thin needle, with sturdy thread (I use leftover machine or hand quilting thread) and knot the end. Starting in the center of one side, fold over the seam allowance to the back of the paper shape and take a small stitch through paper and fabric.

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Now make several small running stitches through fabric only, until you are about ¾” away from the point. Right handed folk are going counter clockwise around the shape and lefties go clockwise.

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Now take another small stitch through paper and fabric, and pull the thread to gather the running stitches you just made. The fabric will automatically smooth itself over the curve (which is such a blessing if you’ve tried other applique methods and had a hard time making smooth curves!)

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Now make a sharp fold over the point and take another small stitch through paper and fabric to anchor the point.

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Now you are ready to make another few running stitches through fabric only.

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Stop at the midway point, stitch once through the paper and fabric, and pull the gathers again. The shape is now half- basted and you can follow the same steps to baste the other half, ending with a final stitch through the paper and fabric and a knot on the back.

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Cutting background squares:

I always cut my background squares a little bigger than necessary. Just in case the orange peel shifts a bit while you applique, or the square gets a bit distorted, you will be able to trim down to the perfect size. So, for 2.5″ Orange Peels, you add .5″ for the seam allowance, plus another .25″ of insurance, making the cut size 3.25”.   (If you are beginner to applique you may want to go up to 3.5”.) After appliqueing, you will trim them down to 3”.  When sewn together they reach their final size of 2.5” and the orange peels will almost touch at the corners.  Press each square lightly in half on the diagonal to mark your placement line for the orange peel.

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OK, I think that’s enough for today!  Tomorrow I will go over my applique stitch, and then the final post will give some layout options for this versatile shape.

How to add a hanging sleeve to your quilt

Tutorial: How to add a hanging sleeve to your quiltIn preparation for the DC Modern Quilt Guild’s upcoming show, here’s a tutorial for a regulation hanging sleeve.  It has a D shape rather than being flat; this allows the sleeve to accommodate the width of the hanging pole without distorting the actual quilt.  The sleeve will be 1″ shorter than the quilt on each edge in order to hide the hooks that attach the pole to the wall.  This is the same sleeve required by the International Quilt Festival.  I’m using white muslin for my sleeve, but you can use just about any cotton fabric since it won’t be seen when the quilt is hanging.

1. Measure the width of your quilt.  Cut a strip of fabric the exact width of the quilt and 9 inches high.  My quilt is 33.75″ wide, so I’m cutting my strip 33.75″ x 9″.  ( You can piece the strip to get the required length.)

2. Fold each short edge over 1/2″ towards the wrong side and press, then fold over again and press.  Now your strip is 2″ shorter than your quilt.

3. Stitch the short edges close to the loose fold to secure.

4. Fold the strip in half, aligning the long edges with wrong sides together.  Press lightly.

5. Stitch the long edges of the strip together with a 1/4″ seam.

6. Using your machine’s longest stitch length, baste 1/4″ away from the long fold you created in step 3.

7. Refold your sleeve so that the seam and the basted fold are roughly centered.  Press the seam open and press the newly folded edges well.  You can press the basted fold to one side if it makes this step easier.

8. With the basted fold facing out and the long seam touching your quilt, align the sleeve 1/2″ from the top of the quilt, centered across the back of the quilt, and pin.  Hand stitch top and bottom edges to the quilt using a blind stitch, taking care not to stitch through to the front of the quilt.

9. Remove the basting stitches on the fold.  Now your sleeve is 4″ on the side attached to the quilt, and 4 1/2″ on the free side, making a D.  You’re done!

Charity quilt block tutorial

As part of the DC Modern Quilt Guild’s charity sewing event next month, I’m coordinating one of the quilts we decided to work on as a group!  Dear Stella donated a fat quarter bundle of these fabrics:

I decided that it would be perfect to use a quilt pattern I designed earlier this year, which was designed especially to be easy to construct but still interesting to look at:

Volunteers were given fabric packets with three,  6.5″ x 18″ strips of the dear Stella fabric, and a 6.5″ by 44″ strip of solid white.

Following are cutting instructions to make the best use of the fabric that was distributed.  For this quilt, the finished blocks will be 8.5″ from raw edge to raw edge.

Stack the three print strips on top of the solid strip, which should be folded with the selvedges touching.

Trim the selvedges and straighten the edge of the prints.

Spin the cutting mat and cut one rectangle at 5″x 6.5″, one at 4″x 6.5″, and one at 2.5″x 6.5″.

Peel off the top layer of the remaining fabric and set it aside, then make one more cut at 2.5″x 6.5″.

Crosscut this rectangle into two, 2.5″x2.5″ squares.  The leftover 1.5″x2.5″ rectangle is waste.

From the remaining bits of fabric, you should be able to cut one more of each of the rectangle sizes listed above.  You already have enough squares.

Now mix and match your cut rectangles into 6 blocks.  Vary where the white falls in each block, and allow some blocks to have more white space than others.

Chain-piece the blocks together, first in horizontal pairs.

Then sew the pairs together to finish the blocks.

In the final quilt, the blocks will be rotated randomly, and will be much scrappier than this, as everyone received a different strip set.  Can’t wait to see the final results!