Quilt Quilt Sew \\ February 2016

Quit, Quilt, Sew

Modern quilting brings design and skill together! Use bright colours, creative blocks and beautiful top stitching designs to draw your students in! Quilting is a great way to teach measurement, grainline, seam allowance and pressing! Students will be able to easily recognize the importance of these skills as they piece together their own quilt. As the teacher, you can create projects for beginners to the experts in your class! Just change the quilt block or maybe have them experiment and design their own block! You don’t have to be an expert in quilting to mentor your students as they go above and beyond your expectations. Simply stick to the basics and let them experiment!

  Baby Quilt using the January Quilt Block from Lady Harvatine (http://ladyharvatine.bigcartel.com/product/january-block). Sewn this summer by Brittney Casavant. FInished size: 46” x 46”

PROJECT: January Quilt Block

Tools Needed:

  • Quilting Fabric
  • Pins
  • Basting Pins (Safety pins with a curve in them)
  • Marking Pen (I used a FriXion pen)
  • Fabric Weights (Washers covered in yarn or paper weights work)
  • Coordinating Thread
  • Top-Stitching Thread ( I just used Coats Dual-Duty)
  • Rotary Cutter
  • Self-Healing Cutting Mat
  • 6”x22” Clear Acrylic Ruler
  • Iron and Ironing Board
  • Spray Bottle
  • Sewing Machine
  • Patience

This past summer was the summer of babies! I did what I love most and I sewed-up a few baby quilts. I love baby quilts because they are the perfect size for my patience level. I love the repetition in quilting, but after a certain point I just pack it in. That’s usually after about sixteen 12” blocks. Baby quilts work perfect for me :)

    I came about this quilt block after seeing a friend on instagram post pictures of her quilt. Instagram has become my biggest source of inspiration. I prefer it to Pinterest because there is a direct connection to a person, rather than just reposting a photo online. Check out who I follow and who MHETA follows, for more inspiration.

    I purchased the quilt block as a digital pdf and printed it at home. I then started my favourite part of the entire process, planning out my quilt! I had already bought fabric, so I started my drawing out my blocks and randomly colouring them in to see what kind of design I could make. This helped me count out how many of each piece in each colour I needed to cut out. When doing this with a class, you could do use 1 - 4 blocks just use scraps! The randomness of scraps is what makes quilting interesting!

   Tip: When I printed this block I had my printer “print to fit” and so the pieces were slightly smaller than the instructions called for. When you go to print, select “actual size”! You may need to search for this option in your printer preferences. The instructions say a finished block should be trimmed down to 12.5”, but mine were less than that before any trimming. Instead of panicking (as I had cut ALL of my pieces out already) I trimmed all of my blocks down to 11.5” and that worked just fine.

I like to mass cut pieces so I can just grab each piece and sew sew sew! As a class you could cut each piece as you go instead. It all depends on how you want to manage your class. If you have enough pairs of shears/pins/machines for each student, you could cut everything at once. However, if your students are sharing, staggering the cutting of each piece may work better for you.

Piecing, Pressing & Squaring Up

    Don’t ask me why, but it never occurred to me that sewing a circular pattern meant pinning, pinning and more pinning! Each piece in this block is curved, so you must pin each piece before sewing. I love this block because it is a great example for your students. They must line up their centres, match their edges and play with their pieces at the machine as they sew them together. I would not recommend this pattern for first time sewers. It can be frustrating, but it is quite rewarding in the end.

    After I completed my first block, I was pretty upset. I’d seen pictures of beautiful, flat, perfectly square blocks online. Mine looked warped and bubbled (add picture).

So, I did what anyone would do… I asked a friend! I sent a direct message to my quilting friend on instagram and asked what I was doing wrong. She gave me two tips that changed everything.

Tip #1: Turn the steam off of your iron and set it as hot as your fabric can handle. Fill a spray bottle with water and starch (about 1tsp: 500ml) or 1-2 tsp of vinegar to 500ml. Spray your fabric, then press. This is much easier to control than the steam function on your iron. As you steam the fabric, it will shrink from the heat. This will help to settle the waves your curves may have made.

Tip #2: Square-up your block. Okay, for someone who quilts, this is the first thing you learn! But I self-taught/teach myself, and I had never learned this. After pressing as best I could, I took my block back to my cutting mat and used my ruler and the lines on my mat to square my edges. As I mentioned before, each block was a 11.5” square.

    I’m not a master at this, but I am pretty resourceful! I took to instagram and searched #januaryblock and direct messaged a few other people with questions. I received replies within 10 minutes! It was pretty cool actually. Feel free to DM me @mscasavanthomeec too!


   When it came time to cut out my backing, I realized that I didn't have enough fabric to make it a solid colour. So i got creative and put one single circle in with the reverse colours in the middle of the backing. Yes this was more work, but it added a little something to the back. 

    I sandwiched my quilt on my living room floor, but individual student projects could easily be done on sewing tables. I used masking tape to tape down my cotton backing. It is larger than my batting and top piece so that I can see where I’m placing my top piece. I also taped the batting to the backing so it wouldn’t shift. Once I centered my top layer, I used quilter’s safety pins (basting pins) to pin all three layers together. As a whole class, you may want to pin baste, then hand baste. Then that student can share their pins with the next student. I always put in as many pins as possible to make sure my sandwich doesn’t shift when I go to quilt it. Roughly 6” - 10” apart in all directions.

    For this quilt I chose to top stitch/quilt with a walking foot around the perimeter and a free motion foot for the interior of the circles. My circle quilting was far from good, but I was becoming impatient. I marked my lines on my quilt using a C-Thru ruler and a FriXion pen by Pilot. The FriXion pen is a dream! It erases using friction, so after you press over it with a hot iron it disappears! WARNING: Always do a test with each fabric used to make sure it actually disappears!


    I cut 2 ½” strips for the binding and used this post from Pinterest to guide me (http://www.canoeridgecreations.com/2013/02/double-fold-binding-tutorial-part-one.html). I clicked through and followed her hand-stitching tutorial as well. This was the first quilt that I hand sewed the back of the binding on. I was not pleased with my top sewing or stitch-in-the-ditch methods, so I thought I would try this out.

    One day I was looking at a few of the many beautiful quilts in one of my colleague’s Sewing Lab and noticed the back of the binding was hand-sewn. This particular colleague strongly dislikes hand-sewing, so I was surprised to see the hand-sewn binding on this quilt. I asked, “Was this a gift?” She laughed and replied, “No, if you want it done right, sometimes you just have to suck it up and hand-sew.” And so, I sucked it up and I’m so glad I did! It turned out WAY better than my previous binding experiments.


    Quilting with a class is as easy or hard as you want to make it! You can take any quilt block and make a project out of it. Simply add a back, and make it a pillow. Add some solid edges to the perimeter and make it a table runner or center cloth. Or have each student make one block and piece them all together to make a large blanket quilt to donate or gift to a beloved staff member or student in need.


There are so many amazing people out there making creative quilts that go way beyond the “log cabin”. On Instagram, search “quilt” and you will not be disappointed. Pinterest is also a great resource for ideas, but not always great for instructions. Do a little digging and you will be surprised with what you can find!

Check out @mheta_mb and @mscasavanthomeec on Instagram and Twitter. Then head to the “Follows” page to see where we are getting our inspiration from!


Share your class social media accounts, project pictures and details with MHETA! Do you have something to share, send us a message at mhetainfo@gmail.ca  or direct message us on any social media platform.


Next month is all about Nutrition Month! We are looking for lesson plans, project ideas and general info about Nutrition! Share with as by emailing mhetainfo@gmail.ca .


And sew on, and sew on…

                 -Brittney Casavant

                  Clothing Design & EAL at J.H. Bruns Collegiate in WPG

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