Friday, January 25, 2019

Selvage Star Tutorial

I am so excited this morning to share with you my Selvage Star Block Tutorial!!!    I originally had this idea clear back here , and ya, it took 2 Years and a String Along  to finally get this process rolling.   But here it is, and I am having so much fun making these Selvage Star blocks.   And I hope with this little tutorial you will have just as much fun.   So let's get to it!!!


For each Selvage Star Block, you will need to cut 4 Large Foundation Squares, 4 Small Foundation Squares, (and if you are not sure what a Foundation Square is, see this post ) 4 Large Background Squares, and 4 Small Background Squares.    The Large Squares should be 1/2" bigger than the small squares.   So that you can make the size block you want, here is a chart that illustrates the size squares to cut for your desired size block. 

For a 24" Block        Cut 4 Large Squares - 7"                 Cut 4 Small Squares - 6 1/2"

For a 22" Block        Cut 4 Large Squares - 6 1/2"           Cut 4 Small Squares - 6"

For a 20" Block        Cut 4 Large Squares - 6"                 Cut 4 Small Squares - 5 1/2"

For a 18" Block        Cut 4 Large Squares - 5 1/2"           Cut 4 Small Squares - 5"

For a 16" Block        Cut 4 Large Squares - 5"                 Cut 4 Small Squares - 4 1/2"

For a 14" Block        Cut 4 Large Squares - 4 1/2"           Cut 4 Small Squares - 4"

For a 12" Block        Cut 4 Large Squares - 4"                 Cut 4 Small Squares - 3 1/2"


Now your squares are all cut and you are ready to start playing with Selvages.   For the Selvage Star Block, you will need to add Selvages to the 4 Large Foundation squares and the 4 Small Foundation squares.   And if you need to know how to do that, I created a Sewing with Selvages Tutorial just yesterday to walk you through the process.   Handy that is, almost like I planned for these two tutorials to go together ;)


So now we are going to turn the Large Selvage Square into Half Square Triangle units.   Grab your 4 Large Selvage Squares, and 4 Large Background Squares.   The Small Selvage and Background squares can be set aside for the moment.   

On the wrong side of the 4 Large Background Squares, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner.  Place the Marked Background Square on to the Large Selvage Square with right sides together aligning the raw edges and pin in place.   Take care that the diagonal of the Selvages and the marked diagonal are going the same direction as shown. 

You will be stitching a 1/4" seam on either side of the drawn line as shown.   Chain stitching all 4 sets will save you time and thread.

Simply start with stitching the 1/4" seam along the left hand side of the drawn line on all 4 sets.  Then clip the threads between your sets. 

Now repeat the process for the other side of the drawn line.  You will finish with 4 sets all stitched on both sides of the drawn line.  Again. clip the threads between your sets.

Now move to your cutting mat.  Cut the square sets along the drawn line to make two sets of triangles.  Press the seam allowance towards the Background fabric.  You will have 8 Half Square Triangle Units total.

Now trim all the Half Square Triangle units to the same size as you Small Squares.  Be sure to align the seam allowance and the diagonal line on your square ruler to ensure your HST's are trimmed square.   If you haven't trimmed HST's before, you can see this tutorial for more detailed instructions.

And now you have 8 Half Square Triangle units.   And now you are ready to make the block!!!


Layout your 8 Half Square Triangle units, 4 Small Selvage Square units, and 4 Small Background squares as shown below. Take care to place the Small Selvage Square units so that they make a "diamond" in the direction of the Selvages  :)

Once you have it all laid out, it's time to sew the units into rows.   To do this, place the second unit onto the first unit (shown in row 1) in each row with right sides together.   Chain Stitch a 1/4" seam along the edge of each pair in each row.   Put your sewn pieces back in your layout.  And now you just repeat this for each unit in the row.  Place your third unit in each row onto your second unit (shown in row 2) with right sides together and align and stitch a 1/4" seam along the edge.  Repeat for the last unit in each row. (shown in row 3)   Now all 4 rows should be sewn together.  (shown in row 4)

Press the seams open.  This will help to reduce the bulk of all those Selvages ;)

And now, you just have to sew the Rows together to make the block.   Place the first row onto the second row with right sides together.  Place the fourth row onto the third row with right sides together.  Align and pin the seams in place.   Stitch a 1/4" seam along both pinned edges.

And when stitching that seam, take care that you sew directly across the bottom of the Fabric V in the center seam.  This will ensure that you get a nice crisp point!!

Now just one seam left!!!    Place the top half of the block onto the bottom half of the block with right sides together.    Align and pin the seams in place.   Stitch a 1/4" seam along the pinned edge.

And again, when stitching that seam, take care that you sew directly across the bottom of the Fabric V in the two outer seams ensuring  nice crisp points!!

And all that is left is to press the seams open.   And your done!!!!

You now have a beautiful Selvage Star Block!!!  Isn't it just so fun!!!!   I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and if you make your own Selvage Star Block I would love to see it!!  You can email me a picture at or add it to my flickr group here or post it to social media with  #happyquiltingwithmc ;)  I can't wait to see your Selvage Star Blocks!!!

And just for fun . . . this is what I plan to make with my Selvage Stars :)   It will require 23 Selvage Stars and 4 Half Selvage Stars (just don't sew that last seam :)   so ya, it's going to take a while.  But is is going to be incredible when it is done.  I am making my stars 20" so it will finish at 100" square and be perfect for the king size bed!!  I will be sure to share my progress along the way :)

Thanks so much for popping in today and every day!!! I am so glad I got to share this tutorial with you all and hope I have inspired you to Sew with your Selvages!!! 

Linking up this Block finish to Sarah's and Myra's ;) 
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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Sewing with Selvages Tutorial

So I promised back here a tutorial on  Sewing with Selvages, and I am happy to say, that today is the day!!! And I am excited to share with you the basics of stitching with those treasured little selvages that we trim from the edges of the fabric and then save and save.   And I hope to share some helpful tidbits that I have picked up along the way of working with Selvages that will aid you as well.  So the following tutorial is the way I like to work with Selvages (and it of course, might be different than other methods you have read as some of it is simply preference.)   So let's get Stitching Selvages!!!


So the first question you probably ask when starting with Selvages is "how big do you cut the selvage."   And to that I say, "It just depends".   I know, super helpful right.   A good size, especially if you want some of the fabric to show, is about 1 1/2".   But, if I need that extra bit of fabric in my cutting, I make the selvage smaller.   Let me try and illustrate how I approach my cutting to better answer this question. 

First, I want to figure out exactly how many inches of the fabric I need and cut that first, (rather than cutting strips) so that I get the longest selvage piece.   So for example, if I am planning to cut (4) 2 1/2" strips, than I will first cut 10" of fabric. 

Then, I calculate how many inches I am going to need vertically add a 1/2" (because I don't like to deal with the fold at the bottom of the fabric) and then cut my selvage.   So in the same example, If I know want to cut 2 1/2" squares, I figure I can get 8 Sub-cuts in a strip which is 20" add my 1/2" at the bottom, and wham, cut my selvage at 20 1/2" horizontally on my mat.  Each time I get the maximum size selvage, while still getting the most out of my cutting.

I always approach my cutting this way, whether I am cutting Fat Quarters or Yardage.  Just try and maximize your cutting, while still getting the most of your selvage.  And then watch your selvage pile grow ;)   Before long, you will have quite a stack.   I like to store my selvages by color, but you can store them any way you like.


When working with selvages, you need some kind of foundation to piece to.  This can be Fabric or Paper.  If using fabric, you can use a Muslin, a solid, or a light print.   I used some super old fabric that I bought way back when that was way to thin to quilt with.  The nice thing about it being thin is it won't add quite as much weight to the quilt.    And if you are using paper, you can use copy paper or newsprint.  The nice thing about paper is you don't add weight, but you  will have to tear it all out, after it is stitched.  So pro's and con's with both.    Whatever foundation you decide to use, simply cut it to the size you need.   I am making 5 1/2" squares, so that is the size of my foundation square.   It doesn't have to be square, for instance, if you are making a mug rug, make your foundation rectangle.  And I like to cut all of my foundations at the beginning so I can see the progress I am making, and how many I have left.


So now you have your foundation and you are ready to add your selvages.   And you will note, I have 4 foundation squares laid out, because chain stitching is where it is at when piecing with selvages.  It will save so much time and thread and make the process a whole lot more fun!!!    So, go to your selvage stack and look for some shorter selvages.  Place them diagonal on the corner of your foundation, taking care that the ends of the selvage strip overlap the sides of your foundation.  Trim any excess selvage, as it is just easier to work with the size you need.

Now go to your machine and stitch an 1/8" seam along the edge of the print side of the selvage strip.   And this is where one of my preferences come in.  Technically you can stitch the first two selvages strips at the same time, but I just found that they shift and I often missed the under seam.  So I just like to stitch the first selvage strip like this.

And you are chain stitching all of the first selvage strips, so just keep stitching off of one, even past the foundation, and then feed the next strip in until you have done all the strips in your chain stitching.


So now with the first selvage secured in place, you can add your second selvage strip.   Place the second selvage strip onto the first, overlapping the two about 3/8" to 1/2".   This is just something you eyeball, and it gets easier with a little practice.   The main thing you want to remember is you have to stitch on that bottom selvage at the same time you are stitching on the top selvage.

And when stitching, again, I stitch 1/8" allowance, only this time, I am stitching on the selvage side of the strip.    And the inside notch of your 1/4" foot is almost always 1/8" so it makes a great little guide.  And just remember when stitching, you want to make sure you are not just stitching on the top selvage, but the bottom selvage as well.

And like before, chain stitching is going to save you time, thread, and make the whole process more enjoyable.    And that overlap gets easier and easier with practice.  If you miss a few seams underneath, don't get frustrated, just a quick seam rip and try it again.  It really goes fast when you get used to the overlap distance.


And now you are in a routine.  Add the third strip just like the second.  Make sure you are overlapping the foundation edges on the sides, and make sure you are overlapping the second selvage when stitching. 

Adding the third strip and continuing strips is just the same process the only difference is, you won't see a seam on the underneath selvage, so again, just make sure you are overlapping.

And just keep adding selvages until you have covered the entire foundation.  And again, you will find that chain stitching really speeds up the process.  It is just like spinning the pieces around in a chained circle, adding another selvage each time ;) 


So that's a lot on stitching really fast.   So I wanted to share a few helpful tidbits that might make your Sewing with Selvages easier and more fun.    

First, your selvages are not always going to be perfectly straight and sometimes this causes your strips to get a little more Up and Down then diagonal.  If that happens, just angle the next selvage strip so that it overlaps more on one side than the other.  It's a fast and easy way to get back to diagonal.   

And for those of us that are a wee bit more of a perfectionist than the quick fix above, you can always add grid lines on your foundation to keep yourself perfectly diagonal.  This takes a little bit, but will ensure your piecing stays perfect the whole way across your foundation. 

Another thing to watch out for when Stitching with Selvages are the little "fringe" at the bottom of the Selvage. First, don't sew on the fringe, it won't hold anything.   Use the inside edge of the fringe as the edge of the selvage and stitch 1/8" from there.   Also, the fringe can often cause you to think you are overlapping enough, when you aren't because you are stitching farther in.  So take care to really overlap when there is that fringe.

And when you reach the half way point and you are starting to move down the other side of the diagonal on the foundation, you will find you need to start stitching on the previous strip.  It is faster to make a few stitches on this strip than to stop your chain stitching and move your needle to the beginning of the new strip.   And you also won't have to worry about your thread getting tangled.

And we quilters like to use all the scraps right.  So just remember, those little pieces that you clip off the selvage strips, they make great first and last pieces.  So don't throw them away.  I love the tiny starts and finishes, so cute!!

And finally, when you are first starting sewing with selvages, and you might be struggling slightly with how much to overlap.  It doesn't hurt to quickly double check your work.  (especially on the fringe strips.)  Simply pull back the the top selvage and make sure the underneath selvage was caught in the seam and isn't popping out.    Trust me, way easier to find this before you add more selvages.    And like I said, once you have practiced a bit, you will get the hang of the overlap and won't need to double check anymore.

And this isn't so much as a tid-bit as just a note.  I am showing all these pics in a Monochromatic layout because that is the project I am working on.   But don't feel like you can't use any selvages you want.   You can use a whole rainbow of colors in your selvages.   And for that matter, if you don't want the print fabric to show, that is another great option.  Just overlap so only the selvages show. (just know, that is going to take double the selvages and the time ;)   Both are great ways to make your project your own.   


So once you have covered your entire foundation with selvages, you are ready to press it.  And for this, I like to use Starch!!!  It just keeps everything nice and crisp and flat. 

I like to spray a generous amount on starch on the front and then press it, taking care to move the iron in the direction of the selvages.   In this case downward.  You don't want to press all of your little fringes to poke up ;) 

Then I flip my Selvage Unit over, and again, apply a generous amount to the back and press it.  This is just mostly to add a little more stiffness to the unit.  All of those selvages are a bit flimsy, and making the entire square a little stiff makes it easier to piece with later on ;)


So now you can go back to your cutting mat and trim your Selvage Units.   Remember, when trimming these, you want to use your ruler and mat as a guide, not the foundation because it can sometimes shrink a little.

So simply place your ruler onto the foundation centering it.   This is easiest if you have the same size of ruler that you are trimming to because you can simply just cut around all 4 sides trimming the excess.   But if not, you can still trim two sides, and then rotate your ruler and trim the remaining two sides.

And remember, it is okay if you have a little bit where the selvage is stitching out over the foundation.  That is just where the foundation shrunk a little.   Some quilters like to oversize their foundation slightly to compensate for that, but I figure, I am not to stressed about 1/16" of an inch.


One final thing I like to do is run a quick stitch around my unit, just to keep the edges of all those selvages in place.  This again will make it easier when you go to piece with it, and also makes it so you can store the units longer without the edges fraying.     So simply stitch 1/8" seam along the edge of the block.

And again, I find this quickest if you just chain stitch all the units on one side.  Clip the threads and rotate continuing until you have secured all 4 sides of all your units.


And just like that , you have amazing little squares all Stitched with Selvages!!!!   These would make a great little set of coasters, or you can take it to the next step, and piece with them ;)

I hope you have found this tutorial helpful and that you will see how fun it is to Sew with Selvages!!!

And be sure to pop back in tomorrow, when I will share how I turn these Selvage Units into a Selvage Star Block!!!   I can't wait ;) 
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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

New Works in Progress

Sometimes I just feel like I'm going in all directions,  but does that stop me from starting new Works in Progress???  Of course not ;)  It wouldn't be fun if you weren't starting new things at the same time you are trying to finish old things . . . am I right???   I started 4 new Works in progress this last weekend.  Luckily, we got so much snow over the holiday weekend, that I pretty much became a hermit and stayed in all weekend just pressing, cutting, and stitching!!!   It was so much fun :)

First off, I am working on a new sample quilt for my good friends at Moda. They are kitting up this super fun Hallo-Harvest quilt using the same named fabric by Basic Grey set to release in June.  I don't think I have ever made a Halloween quilt before, so this is a fun first.  And how great are those bats and stars!!!   Glad I have my Alphabitties for this quilt, because there are a lot of little pieces to keep straight ;)

My second new project is a Charity Quilt for UQSM.  I will be teaching there in April, (which I am so excited for!!!)  and they hold a quilt challenge/auction to raise funds for Sew Much Hope.  The challenge fabric for this year was 8 prints from  Jen Kingwell's Looking Foward fabric line.  I thought the bright happy colors were just perfect for a fun modern pattern, so I decided on my Back to Basics design.   And I figured, since I had so much fun doing a black background on my bright happy prints in my Pave the Way quilt back here, why not do another black background on these happy, bright prints.   I am loving where this is going!!!

And then I just couldn't not use up every little piece.  So I cut up all the leftover Looking Foward fabric I had into 3 1/2" squares and cut some grey solid squares as well.  I am thinking simple patchwork. Enter new WIP number 3.   It's for charity right, so why not make two quilts ;)   And I haven't made a simple patchwork quilt in a bit, and am excited to see all these prints just pop in it!!!

And last but not least, I started working on a new quilt pattern that I hope to release in early Spring.  I know right, I am still finishing up the typing of the other new pattern mentioned here (which will hopefully be ready next week!) but like I said in the beginning.  It wouldn't be fun if I wasn't starting new while still trying to finish up old.     And I just love the gorgeous prints in this Nova fabric line by Basic Grey.   I mean, you had me at that Purple!!!    I am super excited to see this design come together and am looking forward to sharing more as I get it done.

So yup, that is the new stuff I am working on.  How about you???  What New Works in Progress are you starting up???  Or are you trying to finish up some Old Works in Progress???

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