Tag Archives: sewing tutorial

Sew. Happy. Quilt QAL Week 1 – Woven & Snowball Block Tutorials

Whoa! I can hardly believe it’s here! I’ve been looking forward to the Sew. Happy. Quilt. QAL for so many weeks it kinda seems unreal. I really hope you like the first two blocks and for those beginners out there, I hope you find them fairly easy to construct.

N.B. Seam Allowance in quilting is 1/4″. The better you are at maintaining a precise 1/4″ SA the better your blocks will turn out. Also, I use spray starch on all my pieces before I sew them because it makes precision MUCH easier. Try it!

First up is what I call the Woven Block. Like most of the blocks in this QAL, it’s made of four identical parts. Here are the cutting measurements:

4 background squares 3.5″ x 3.5″

From each of four fabrics: {1} 3.5″ x 3.5″ square and {1} 3.5″ x 6.5″ rectangle

Construction: Lay out your fabrics and decide on placement. Sew your 3.5″ x 3.5″ background squares to the 3.5″ x 3.5″ feature fabric square next to it.

 Then you’ll sew those pairs to the rectangles.

Then sew those rectangles together as above.

And sew those rectangles together. Done!

Here’s the back – I gently press my seams open.

A WORD OF CAUTION FOR BEGINNERS: Let’s talk about what you do with your seams in quilting. When I say I GENTLY PRESS them open, I really mean gently press. You know how when you’re ironing your socks and underwear (isn’t that what people use irons for when they’re not quilting?) you use a back and forth, sweeping motion? You don’t do that when you’re piecing quilt blocks. The fabric is kinda flimsy and can easily stretch, which is what you really DON’T want! So if you are gentle and trust that the heat of your iron will do all the work, your patience will pay off. Now, many quilters will tell you that pressing your seams open is asking for disaster. The thinking is that if you press them to the side, there will be fabric underneath the seam. So if there’s any stress on the seam, the 2 layers of fabric under it will take most of the stress and the seam stays intact. What I don’t particularly like about pressing to the side is you always get this kind of fold thing. I’d rather everything lays flat, and it makes it easier for me to line seams up for blocks so they’re perfectly matched up.  So I guess it’s best to experiment to find what you prefer.

The next block is the Snowball Block.

You’ll need 4 fabrics.

From the snowball fabrics, cut {2} 6.5″ x 6.5″ squares of each as shown above.

From the two other fabrics, cut {4} 2.5″ x 2.5″ squares of each (for a total of 8 squares).

Draw diagonal lines across your squares and pin them in place as shown.

Sew along the diagonal line of each of the smaller squares. Then trim the excess to 1/4″. Press those squares to the outside as shown.

Sew the little snowballs together to make a bigger block.

When you’re lining them up to sew the two large pieces together, check your middle seams to make sure they’re lined up perfectly. Because that’s the centre, that’s where the eye will be drawn so you want to get it as close to perfect as possible.

Ta-Da! Remember to pop a pic into the Flickr group!

You’ve finished them both! I think they’re really quick to put together – even with all the picture faffing I was done fairly quickly, but I’m interested to know how you get on with them. So if you get a chance, leave me a comment letting me know! That makes future QALs easier to plan, time-wise.

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© Copyright J C Excell, 2011. You are welcome to use any SewHappyGeek tutorial for personal use. You are even welcome to make a couple to sell, but you are not given permission to use my pictures or my words without giving me credit and linking back to the original. You are NEVER allowed to copy an entire tutorial or post.
Sometimes my pictures have my family in them and they are never intended for public use. Also, I work very hard to provide free tutorials for my lovely readers, and anyone copying or selling my tutorials is guilty of copyright infringement.
This website is protected by Copyscape and is checked regularly, which means I WILL find you.
Posted in Quilt Block Tutorials, Sew. Happy. Quilt. QAL, Tutorial Tuesday, Tutorials, UK craft blog | Tagged , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Guest Tutorial: Reading/Knitting Pillow from my BFF Bonnie!!

Hello! Happy Tuesday! Did you want to leave a link on Manic Monday Linky Party? You still can! And would you like to enter our fabulous Fat Quarter Bundle giveaway sponsored by JAQS Fabrics? There’s 12 FQs to win! Then get on over to the SewHappyGeek Facebook page! 1 Like=1 chance. We’ll draw when we get to 250, so spread the word.

Without further ado, please let me introduce my awesome friend Bonnie of Wonderfully Awkward. She has been SO good to me – she’s made me 2 videos to help me with my knitting, and in the first, she went back and forth between English and Continental styles so smoothly that it inspired me to learn Continental myself, which is much better on my sore elbow. She is a very supportive Twitter friend and I’m so lucky to get to chat with her and our friend Shanna every day.

Here she is:

My dear friend Jenna has recently learned to knit, and is totally on fire and kicking ass already! This tutorial is in honor of her achievement (you rock, Jenna!) and will hopefully help knitters/crocheters/embroiderers everywhere to maintain better posture for many hours of productive crafting.

Admit it. You had one of those hideous back/armchair pillows when you were a kid or a teen, right? Maybe out of corduroy, or some other bland fabric. Yes, they were comfortable (for the most part), but as we grew up and cared more about “decor”, they got sold, given away, and never replaced.

If I’m at home, I practically live in my bed. Okay, I really DO live in my bed. When you have a room instead of a house, them’s the breaks. Watching tv, knitting, embroidering, web surfing, all in bed. I’m tired of fighting with pillows! Trying to find the right combination in the right conformation is a pain in the ass. Nevermind getting up and the pillows tumble out of formation and having to do the whole thing all over again. Argh! I wrangled with my style conscience and decided maybe one of those armchair pillows wouldn’t be a bad idea after all. Especially since it would support my arms for a more ergonomically correct posture when typing, knitting, embroidering, whatever.

Saturday, I was too lazy to leave the house and go buy one (plus, store bought? Ugly….), so I tinkered around with some measurements and came up with a cute, comfy, cushy design (alliterations are FUN!) that I’m completely in love with.

TA DA!!!

My sister (also a knitter and crochet-er) immediately said “I WANT ONE!!!” so I whipped another one up just for her, and took pictures along the way to make up a tutorial for you good folks. It takes about two hours max, and is very easy. I promise. Here we go!!

Here’s what you’ll need

For a non-directional print fabric (doesn’t matter which way you flip the fabric) – 1 yard

For a horizontal directional print – 1.5 yards

For the arms – about 3/4 yd or piece-together fat quarters

Enough fabric to make a 6″x104″ strip

5 lbs of stuffing

5 lbs of stuffings?! Yes. That’s what it takes. The good news is that your local fabric/craft chain store probably carries a 5 lb box like this: (Use that 50% off coupon they ALWAYS have, and it’s $10!)

Let’s get started. (1/2″ Seam Allowance or 1cm works fine too!)

Here’s the measurements of the pieces you’ll need.

For the strip that adds depth to the pillow, you’ll probably need to sew pieces together to get 104″. Just make sure you allow for seams so you don’t wind up short after sewing your strips together!

This next illustration might make you more confused or clarify. It depends on if you have a brain as squirrely as mine. It shows how you’ll need either a yard or a yard and a half depending on which direction the print goes, or if it’s even a directional print at all. Make sense?

Now that you’ve got all your pieces cut out, you’re going to do just a wee bit more cutting. Take one of your front/back pieces (whichever you want to use for the front) and cut 6″x6″ squares out of each bottom corner like this:

These 6″ squares are going to be the front of the arms. Nifty, eh? I’m all about using every part of the buffalo, so to speak.

Next you’re going to sew the arms into tubes. For my sister’s, I wanted to use a few fat quarters, so the seams you see are just me piecing them together to get the right size.

The correct fabric size – open


You should have two tubes that are 12″x12″ when laid flat. Minus seam allowance.

Take the 6″ squares you cut out of the front and sew them to one open end of each arm.

I used pins just to keep everything neat.




Woo! We have arms!

Next we’ll attach the arms to the front.




Take your 104″ strip and attach to the front and back. You’ll probably have extra fabric in your strip, but it’s easily tucked in during the closing-up part. Better than coming up short!


When you get to the arms, attach the strip along the open edges of the arms


Like this 
Ta da!! The front is finished!

Now for the back


Turn the whole thing inside out, and YAY!! We’re almost done!


Now for the stuffing.

I love the invisible stitch!


You can be finished if you like, but I wanted to add a touch to make it look a little bit more fancy-schmancy.

I used medium size covered buttons, and some buttons for the back

That GIGANTIC needle is a doll making needle, I think. Or maybe it’s an upholstery needle. I have no idea, it came from a garage sale. But boy, it’s definitely what you need for this project!


The reason I’m using the white buttons on the back is to prevent the thread from damaging the fabric too much since the tufting will pull. Another side tip: I discovered through MUCH trial and error that the covered buttons I used will pop apart, so I took some flat-nosed pliars and folded the back edge down more. Problem solved.

Another problem: the button attacher came off, so I took needle-nosed pliars and wedged the loop open a bit more so it wouldn’t come out. Like so:


Use some good strong button thread – I doubled mine up for safety.





Julia loves it!

Another lesson learned: I knew Julia was….er…hard-wearing on things (DESTRUCTOR!!) but I didn’t think she’d mess it up so soon. The places where the buttons are attached are already ripped. So I’m going to try and repair it, and then fuse some fleece to it to make it much stronger. I think all of my future knitting pillows are going to be reinforced with fusible fleece from now on. I also think it would give it a much better overall shape. What do you think?

Sweet! Thank you so much Bonnie! I’m so going to make one in my Prince Charming fabric that I’ve been hoarding! :)

See you guys tomorrow!

© J C Excell, 2011

Posted in Tutorial Tuesday, Tutorials, UK craft blog | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Tutorial Tuesday: Cheating Zig Zag Mug Rug

Hey, did you leave a link or two on Manic Monday Linky Party? Go do that now! Also, I found a whole bunch of awesome SALE bundles at JAQS fabrics - like 12 FQs for only $15!!! So go check out Q’s shop!

My friend and bee mate Cindy of Fluffy Sheep Quilting organised a Goodie Swap and I’ve been busy making my mug rugs, and I thought maybe you might like a tutorial for this:

© Copyright, J C Excell 2011

It’s 10.5″ by 8.5″ finished. I got the idea for this from Crazy Mom’s zig zag quilt tutorial. For this mug rug’s front you’ll need:

  • A- 1} 2.5″ x 1.5″
  • B- 1} 2.5″ x 1.5″ and 1} 5″ x 1.5″
  • C- 1} 5″ x 1.5″ and 1} 7.5″ x 1.5″
  • D- 1} 7.5″ x 1.5″ and 1} 10″ x 1.5″
  • E- 1} 10″ x 1.5″ and 1} 7.5″ x 1.5″
  • F 1} 7.5″ x 1.5″ and 1} 7.5″ x 1.5″ and 1} 2.5″ x 1.5″
  • G- 1} 7.5″ x 1.5″ and 5″ x 1.5″
  • H- 1} 5″ x 1.5″ and 2.5″ x 1.5″
  • I- 1} 2.5″ x 1.5″
  • J- 1} 2.5″ x 1.5″

©, Copyright J C Excell, 2011

Now, you need to sew those longer strips together. They get arranged in the logical way -
  • The two small A and B get sewn together on the long sides
  • B and C’s 5″ strips get sewn together
  • C and D’s 7.5″ strips get sewn together
  • D and E’s 10″ strips get sewn together
  • E and F’s 7.5″ strips get sewn together
  • F and G’s 7.5″ strips get sewn together
  • F’s 2.5″ strip gets sewn to J’s 2.5″ strip
  • G and H’s 5″ strips get sewn together
  • H and I’s 2.5″ strips get sewn together
Now you need to cut your long strips into 2.5″ long blocks:

© Copyright J C Excell 2011

Then it’s just a matter of lining them all up and sewing them together. I sew 4 little blocks together, then start sewing them into bigger pieces. But you can do whatever you’re comfortable with.

© Copyright J C Excell 2011

And here it is, all finished with pretty yellow binding:

© Copyright, J C Excell 2011

And here’s the back, complete with my new small quilt labels from Spoonflower. You can make your own too.

© Copyright, J C Excell 2011

If you make something from a SewHappyGeek tutorial, take a pic and add it to the SewHappyGeek Flickr group!

© Copyright J C Excell, 2011. You are welcome to use any SewHappyGeek tutorial for personal use. You are even welcome to make a couple to sell, but you are not given permission to use my pictures or my words without giving me credit and linking back to the original. You are NEVER allowed to copy an entire tutorial or post.
Sometimes my pictures have my family in them and they are never intended for public use. Also, I work very hard to provide free tutorials for my lovely readers, and anyone copying or selling my tutorials is guilty of copyright infringement.
This website is protected by Copyscape and is checked regularly, which means I WILL find you.

Posted in Mug Rug Tutorial, Tutorial Tuesday, Tutorials, UK craft blog, UK quilt blog, UK sewing blog | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments