The long awaited Around the World potholder pattern as promised from the Beginning Quilting: Supplies post. I decided to split this into 3 posts total: 2 different patterns for a potholder and one for how to do a traditional binding. How to sew on binding is not typically found in most quilt patterns but is needed for all quilts. Therefore, I have decided to separate it out.
Configuring your machine:
Quilting seam allowance is always 1/4 of an inch. This is the distance of the needle to the edge of the fabric. Never set it up to where you are only using one feed dog – you want both feed dogs engaged anytime you sew. If you do not have a 1/4″ setting on your machine typically you want to move your needle all the way to the right.
You can also buy a 1/4″ foot for your sewing machine. This is a presser foot that has a guide on it so that your fabric cannot go past it as you sew.
Review your sewing machine’s manual for seam allowance information.
You will need 5 fat quarters. Fat quarters are cut fatter than long – they are all a quarter yard of fabric.
- 1 light fabric (Fabric A),
- 1 contrasting light fabric or a neutral color (for a 2.5 x 2.5 in square) (Fabric B),
- 2 medium or dark fabric (Fabric C and D),
- 1 dark fabric (Fabric E)
These are the colors I chose:
Cutting Pieces for the Top of the Potholder:
First square the edge of the fabric. You do this by aligning the selvage edge with a straight line on the ruler and cut the edge be straight. You use this edge cut all other strips from.
(Note: Selvage is the edge on either side of a woven or flat-knitted fabric so finished as to prevent raveling.)
Since this is only a 12.5 x 12.5 potholder, I cut as I sewed.
These are the pieces you will need to cut (Note: the number of strips is based on a fat quarter sized fabric.):
- Cut 1, 2.5 x 2.5 in from Fabric B square from the contrasting light fabric
- Cut 6, 1.5 strips from Fabric C and then cut the following lengths of fabric: 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, 5.5, 6.5, 7.5, 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, 11.5, 12.5
- Cut 5, 1.5 strips from Fabric A and then cut the following length of fabric: 3.5, 4.5, 5.5, 6.5, 7.5, 8.5, 10.5, 2 x 11.5
- Fabric E is for the binding and Fabric D is for the backing both are cut after the top is done.
You can cut them at the beginning or you can cut them as you go from 1.5 in strips like I did.
I cut 1.5 in strips from Fabrics C and A first. When you cut, align the ruler and cut a whole strip at a time. You will have pieces of fabric left over – quilting is not like building a shelf and wondering why you have spare parts. 😀 Be sure to press down on the ruler. Any sideways pressure could cause the ruler to slide causing a crooked cut that you will need to redo. It’s important that you are precise. An 1/8 of an inch off multiplied over 10 pieces causes your whole quilt to be off by more than an inch.
It’s time to build your potholder!!!!
Tips and Tricks:
- Square as you go. It’s is a good habit to get into, then you won’t be wondering how to square a larger quilt.
- When you iron, press down. Do not slide the iron since it can stretch the fabric.
- Keep a spray bottle filled with water or Mary Ellen’s Best Press and spray your top as you iron. This helps keep stretching to a minimum and gives you a better top to sew with.
- Use pins to pin the pieces together if you are uncertain about them not shifting or it makes you more comfortable. (Note: Do not run over your pins with the sewing machine. This can ruin the timing of your sewing machine and cause you to need to replace your needle more frequently.)
If you haven’t cut all the pieces, then cut the 2.5 in x 2.5 in square from Fabric B and the 1.5 in x 2.5 in rectangle from Fabric C.
Start your seam on a granny. A granny is 2 layers of fabric where you begin and stop sewing when you are piecing. (If you are used to tailoring, this is one big difference from what you are used to. The other is that there is no back-stitching when piecing.)
Take the 2.5 in square and place the 1.5 in x 2.5 in on top such that 2 straight edges are aligned and sew down one edge (Reminder: Use 1/4 inch seam allowance.)
Then using a hot iron, press the seam closed first to set the seam and lastly press it open. You will iron after each seam. Every seam will need to be set and then ironed open.
All piecing steps will build upon the 2.5 in x 2.5 in square.
Now cut a 3.5 in section from the 1.5 in strip of Fabric C and sew along the top of the piece created from step 1.
Now cut a 3.5 in section from the 1.5 in strip of Fabric A and sew along the bottom of the piece created from step 2. (Note: Finished Step 3 should result in a piece that ins 3.5 in x 4.5 in. If too big carefully trim to the correct size. This is called “squaring as you go.”)
Now cut a 4.5 in section from both Fabric A and Fabric C 1.5 in strips and sew to the piece created from step 3 as depicted in the image below. (Note: The resulting assembled piece should be 4.5 in x 5.5 in. If too big carefully trim to correct size.)
Cut a 5.5 in section from both of the Fabric A and Fabric C 1.5 in strips and sew to the piece created from Step 4 as depicted in the image below. (Note: The piece resulting from completing step 5 is 5.5 in x 6.5 in.)
Cut a 6.5 in section from both of the Fabric A and Fabric C 1.5 in strips and sew to the piece created from Step 5 as depicted in the image below. (Note: Your quilt top should now be 6.5 in x 7.5 in.)
Cut a 7.5 in section from both of the Fabric A and Fabric C 1.5 in strips and sew to the piece created from Step 6 as depicted in the image below. (Note: The top is now 7.5 in x 8.5 in. Almost there!!)
Cut a 8.5 in section from both of the Fabric A and Fabric C 1.5 in strips and sew to the piece created from Step 7 as depicted in the image below. (Note: The size is now 9.5 in x 8.5 in.)
Cut a 9.5 in section from both of the Fabric A and Fabric C 1.5 in strips and sew to the piece created from Step 8 as depicted in the image below. (Note: The size is now 10.5 in x 9.5 in.)
Cut a 10.5 in section from both of the Fabric A and Fabric C 1.5 in strips and sew to the piece created from Step 9 as depicted in the image below. (Note: The size is now 11.5 in x 10.5 in.)
Cut a 11.5 in section from both of the Fabric A and Fabric C 1.5 in strips and sew to the piece created from Step 10 as depicted in the image below. (Note: The size is now 12.5 in x 11.5 in with one more seam to go!!)
Cut a 12.5 in section from Fabric C 1.5 in strips and sew to the piece created from Step 11 as depicted in the image below. (Note: Your top is now 12.5 in x 12.5 in!! Time for the next phase!)
Now, it is time to build your sandwich. (I would like an Italian BMT with lettuce please… well, probably, not that kind of sandwich…)
- Cut your batting to be 0.5 in to 1 in larger than your quilt top. This means you will need to cut a 13 in to 13.5 in square from your batting of choice. I chose to use Insul-Bright (R) batting. (Note: You can cut it smaller just be sure that it is larger that your top and you can see it all the way around when you place your quilt top on top of the batting.)
- Iron the backing fabric smooth.
- Now, cut your quilt backing from Fabric D. It should be 0.5 in to 1 in bigger than your batting — 14 in to 14.5 in square in dimensions. (Note: Like the batting, the backing can be cut smaller, but it must be bigger than your batting.)
- Layout the backing on a flat surface and tape down the corners so that it will not shift.
- Place the batting centered on top of the backing and tape it down. You should see backing fabric all the way around the batting.
- Then, place the quilt top centered on top of the batting. Like the batting and the backing fabric, you should see the batting all the way around the top and the backing all the way around the batting.
- Use safety pins (preferably 1 in safety pins) to pin the layers of your quilt sandwich together. (Definitely, not edible like an Italian BMT, but satisfying in a non-appetizing way. Please do not try to eat your quilt sandwich.) When you pin, the distance from the each pin from another should be no more that 2 in. As you get more practice with quilting, you can skip this step for small potholders/place mat sized quilts. It is not recommended to skip this step for larger quilts, unless you are using a long arm sewing machine.
(Note: Since I have been quilting for awhile, my layer won’t look quite like yours. I cut bigger than the top not to a specific size. As a results, my cuts are not perfectly straight – which is fine since you will trim all the excess in a final squaring step before finishing.)
This is the actual quilting step – sewing all the layers of your sandwich together. For this quilt, we will use a type of quilting called “stitch in the ditch”. Stitch-in-the-ditch is when you sew in the “ditch” caused by the seam.
Tips and Tricks:
- If you have a quilting foot, now would be the time to change out the foot on your sewing machine. Refer to your sewing machine’s manual for details on how to do this. (For these smaller quilts, I use a regular foot. If your 1/4 in foot has a guard, you will want to change out your foot.)
- Fix the starting and end by sewing in place for 3 stitches.
- If you have a needle down setting turn it on. This is a setting some sewing machines have so that when you stop sewing it automatically sinks the needle down. It is a function that really helps when quilting allowing you to turn your quilt without it moving. If your sewing machine does not have this setting then simply use the wheel to sink the needle down before lifting the presser foot to rotate the quilt.
When you start quilting, begin in the center and work your way out. This helps to prevent any odd gathers occurring in your backing as you sew. Pinning your layers together also helps prevent this.
Begin sewing around the center square and work your way around sewing in all the ditches. You do not want more than 2 in x 2 in un-quilted space in any quit. Not enough quilted area insufficiently holds all the layers together and causes more shifting and increases the wear and tear on a quilt.
That, my friends, is how you create a quilt. My next post will be about finishing the quilt, since there are several different ways to finish a quilt.
Until then, happy quilting and enjoy this gorgeous potholder.