Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Collapsible Box Tutorial

What a great idea for the traveling quilter.

This little fabric box has a zipper in the base. When unzipped, the box folds flat to take up less room in your supply bag.

First, the backstory:

My local guild, the South Sound Modern Quilt Guild, hosted a "crumbs" swap this summer. The idea was to swap a bag of small scraps, make something from the scraps, and present it to the person whose scraps you received. Our "Swap Queen," Dianne Saugier, wrote a quickie set of directions to make this little box, a knock-off from a famous retailer.

When I made my box and posted a photo on social media, I received requests for a pattern. Because I didn't create the idea, I don't want to sell a pattern. But I'm happy to provide this free tutorial!

Here's what you need. Ten 5" squares -- I used charm squares from this Uppercase Volume 2 collection, purchased at a charming shop in Port Gamble, WA, Quilted Strait.

Four squares will be the exterior; four will be the interior; and two will be the base.

You'll need a nylon zipper, 9" or longer.  I used the cut-off from another project and a new zipper pull from Atkinson Designs.

For "stiffening," you can use either Peltex from Pellon, or fusible fleece. I think the Peltex makes the box more stable, but if you have scraps of fusible fleece, that will work fine!

 Cut the Peltex or fleece into 4¼" squares. You'll need four.

Cut the two base squares in half on the diagonal.

Check that your zipper is long enough to extend a bit beyond the corners of your base fabric squares.

If you're nervous about inserting the zipper, use one of these products to baste your zipper in place before stitching. I don't baste, I just pin!

Stitch the right side of the interior base fabric to the right side of the zipper.

So that your box will rest stable, it's important that the zipper pull be inside your box.

After you've sewn one side of the zipper. line up the second half of the interior base half-square and stitch.

Next, stitch the exterior base fabric half-squares to the bottom side of the zipper.

 I'm showing you how I make sure I have the right sides of both base fabrics together.

Here's what the completed base with zipper looks like:

Next, stitch the four exterior fabric squares to each other using a ¼ inch seam.  I like to stitch only three seams, then press down ¼ along one long side before I sew the last seam.

[You'll see why in the last step!]

Stitch the last seam and press it open. I have this nifty seam press tool that makes it possible to press the seam open without pressing a crease in the rest of my box.

Now we're ready to put it all together!

Pin one side of the interior to the interior of the base. 

Flip the seam aside and start stitching right on the vertical seam of the interior square. Back stitch and stitch across to exactly the opposite seam, back stitch again.

Be careful not to catch the other sides of the box when you sew!

Repeat for the remaining three sides.

Here's what your box looks like after all four sides of the interior are stitched to the base.

Next, attach the exterior sides to the exterior of the base. It's a little confusing to decide how to place this, but trust me. Just put the right side of the sides to the right side of the base and it will be fine!

Repeat just as you did for the interior. Be sure NOT to catch the seam allowances, and fold the sides you're not stitching away from the side you are stitching.

Here's what your box looks like so far:

Remember, the zipper pull should be on the inside!

Use a point turner to push out the corners -- if you have a tool like this, it works really well!

We're almost there! 

The only thing left is to insert the Peltex and stitch the top edges closed!

Insert a square of Peltex into each side of the box. Smooth the top edge of the exterior fabric over the top of the Peltex and pin all three layers (exterior-Peltex-interior) together.

Topstitch as close to the edge as possible to catch all three layers (about 1/8").  I've found if I stitch carefully along each vertical seam, the box is a little more stable.

To collapse your box, open the zipper.  Yay!

A final note: this tutorial has not been test-sewn. So if you find a mistake, or have a problem with a step, feel free to email me at AuntMarti at 52Quilts dot com!

If you make a collapsible box, share a photo on Facebook at 52 Quilts!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Longest Night: A New Block a Day

Greetings from the new location of 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks! If you don't follow 52 Quilts on Facebook or Instagram, you may not know I've moved to Parkland, Washington. It's wonderful to be near Elder Son, Dear Daughter and the grands.

I missed a Block a Day for Summer -- but here is the new one for Winter. It's an easy one, and a good way to use up scraps. I'm calling it "Framed Nine Patch."

To make the 9-patches, start with either 1½" strips or one white "Honey Bun" and one colored strip roll.  I'm using a Moda Bella Solid bleached white honey bun, and a Kona Cotton "brights" roll up.

Stitch together roughly half one colored and one white strip.

Press toward the colored strip, then cross-cut into 1½" chunks. The Stripology ruler works great for this.

Six "chunks" will make three 9-patch units.

Place three "chunks" on a strip of colored fabric, and three on a strip of white.

 Cut them apart and press toward the colored square.

To make the squares lie nice and flat, cover them with a wooden cutting board (or a book, or a ruler!) and let them sit until cool.

Like the "My Heart's in Colorado" cutting board my friend Joy gave me as a going-away present?

Stitch two 9-patches like this -- one "positive" and one "negative."

Press the seams on the "positive" block (the one with colored corners) toward the outside. On the "negative" block (the one with white corners) press toward the center.

Each block should measure exactly 3½" square.  If your blocks are too small or too large, adjust your seam allowance. Now is the time to make the adjustment, before you've made a pile of too-small blocks!

To frame the blocks, cut:

(2) 2½" X 3½" rectangles
(2) 2½" X 7½" rectangles

Frame the "positive" 9-patches with white fabric.

Frame the "negative" 9-patch with a print fabric.

Here are my first two finished blocks. Each is 7½" square, and will finish to 7" square.

Without a border, 90 blocks will make a quilt 63" X 70" -- generous lap size, or good for a twin bed.

My going-away prezzie to myself was this incredible Koala machine cabinet. It holds two machines and has an electric lift for each.

Notice I'm not showing you the rest of the sewing room!  It's 1/3 the size of my Colorado sewing room, with the same amount of "stuff." It will probably be next summer before I have it organized!

I hope you'll share your "Block a Day" blocks with me. Email AuntMarti at 52Quilts dot com.

Happy Solstice Day!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Spring!

Time for a new "Block a Day" project!

The BaD for Spring is one of the simplest blocks in the quilter's canon. And there's a story why I chose it.

As you've heard me say many times, "I make the quilts I like, and if you suck up adequately, you get the quilt." This is true most times, except for wedding and anniversary quilts. Then, the recipients get some input! The three questions I ask are:

  1. Bed-size or throw?
  2. Traditional or Modern?
  3. What color?

When I asked my nephew in England what quilt his lovely wife would like for their new home, his answers were:
  1. Bed size
  2. Traditional (he actually said "farm house quilt," but I'm interpreting that to mean traditional!)
  3. Purple
And what could be more traditional than the Friendship Star?

I promise you, the dark is purple, not brown!

This block is so easy, I'm almost embarrassed to offer a tutorial! But just in case you've never made one, here's how I made my 9" finished block.

To make the Friendship Star block, you need four background squares, one center (contrast) square, and two half-square triangles made from the background and contrast fabric.

My un-pieced squares are cut at 3½" and the HSTs (Half Square Triangles) start out as 4½" squares.

Make your HSTs by whatever method you like best. I'm using the "draw a line from corner to corner, stitch ¼" from either side, cut in half on the line, and press toward the dark" method.

I do love the Bloc_Loc rulers to square up HSTs. This one makes perfect 3½" HSTs. If you've never tried this nifty tool, here is a link to my post describing how to use it.

Lay out the squares and HSTs like this (be sure the points are "spinning" the right direction!):

Stitch them together and press. I press the horizontal seams outward, and the vertical seams inward. That way, when I sew all the blocks together, the seams will nest nicely!

Presto! One down, 89 to go!

Happy Spring!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature