The Billboard Quilt-Along is open to anyone who wants to participate and has no set start or finish date. I’ve compiled a list of posts here.
The simple letters I’ll be talking about today are made by cutting each letter from a patchwork panel, without a definite plan for how the patchwork will look once the letter is cut out. This method is faster than the fussy patchwork letters I’ll be showing you next week, but it will probably use more fabric. The fussy patchwork letters are, as their name suggests, fussier to make, but will both use less fabric and allow you to plan the placement of different fabrics on each letter.
Since both methods may use irregular numbers and sizes of pieces, it’s difficult to predict exactly how much fabric you’ll need. Before buying any new fabric, I recommend using one of your templates and some scraps to make a “test letter.” Pay attention to how much fabric you use and use that amount to calculate how much fabric you’ll need to make the rest of your letters. Remember that you may want extra fabric for details on your quilt back and making scrappy binding.
The simple letter method can also be used to make letters from single pieces of fabric cut to the size of your letter footprints. If your letters are on the small side, you may find using a different fabric for each letter is easier than using patchwork.
For each simple letter, you’ll need a patchwork panel/block about an inch larger than your letter footprints. For example, the letter footprints for my quilt were 11” x 16” so, if I were using this method, I would want to start with patchwork panels 12” x 17” for each letter. Keep in mind that skinny letters like “I” may require smaller panels.
For each letter, you’ll also need one piece of lightweight fusible web (see supplies post). Like the patchwork panels, each piece should be about an inch larger than your letter footprints.
Calculate how much fusible web you’ll need by determining how many inches you’ll need for each piece and multiplying that number by the total number of letters you plan to make. For my quilt, I needed a 12” x 17” piece of fusible web for each of my 14 letters. The web I bought was 17” wide, so I knew that I needed 12” for each piece or 4.75 yards total (12” x 14 = 168, 168/36 = 4.66 rounded up to 4.75).
Making the Letters
Before we start, I should mention that fusible web is, essentially, glue. It’s not something that you want to get on your iron or ironing board. You may wish to protect your iron, your ironing board, or both, with muslin or other scrap fabric when working with fusible web.
The fusible web should have one textured, slightly-shiny side (the glue) backed by paper. Trace one of your letter templates (it should be a mirror image of the letter) onto the paper back of the fusible web.
Follow manufacturer instructions to fuse the web onto your patchwork panel. This may sound like a generic thing to say, but there really are surprisingly different instructions from manufacturer to manufacturer. If the manufacturer tells you to use steam, hold pressure for a certain amount of time, etc., do that thing.
Apart from manufacturer requirements, you’ll probably find that fusing the web to patchwork (instead of a flat piece of fabric) requires a little more pressure than you might normally use. Don’t be surprised if your paper backing ends up looking kind of crinkly, instead of the super-smooth post-fuse look you may be used to.
Homework (if you’re making simple letters):
- Make letters
- Fuse letters to block bases
Monday, August 22 – Making Fussy Patchwork Letters: Part 1