Making an On the Bubble quilt is a lot of fun because you get to combine solids and scrappiness all in one visually interesting quilt. I named it “On the Bubble” because of the appliqued circles, but also because the placement of the color values of the squares builds an illusion of a curve where none exists. I made mine with shades of gray, but you could easily convert this to an ombre selection of fabrics, or for a different look you could switch the solids and prints to have a layer of solid bubbles floating over colorful scrappy squares. This will make a lap sized quilt about 67.5″ square.
I purchased a yard each of Robert Kaufman’s Kona cotton solids as listed below. Beside them I’ll list the number of five inch squares you’ll need of each:
- White 13
- Silver 24
- Shadow 28
- Medium Gray 36
- Coal 44
- Charcoal 52
- Pepper 28
You’ll also need 225 circles cut from various scraps.
I used a 2.75″ diameter circle template. I’ve made a circle template and a placement template that you can download and print on cardstock: On The Bubble Templates from CoopCrafts_20150206_0001. I traced 225 circles onto the paper side of Heat n Bond Light. (Numbering the circles as you trace will help you keep track.) Then roughly cut them out, leaving a little space around the edge of each circle. Follow package directions to attach the circles to the back side of your fabric scraps, then trim carefully around each circle. You can use the placement template provided (cut out the center square) to help you center the circles, or if you have one, you can add washi tape to your five inch square ruler as I did below. Then, following package directions, attach the circles to your squares.
The next step is to stitch around your circles. If you want to keep your edges neat and free from fraying, use a zigzag stitch that encloses the edge of the circle. For my quilt, I’ve used a vintage hand crank machine that only makes straight stitches (and doesn’t stitch in reverse), so the edges of my circles will lift over time to give ruffly, textural interest. For whichever method you choose, I recommend this trick to keep your applique from unraveling. If using straight stitches, complete about three rounds, as seen below. Try not to stitch over the edges if you’re going to let them ravel, but let the circles “drift” a bit as you sew, kind of like the first few rounds of a Spirograph drawing.
The backs will look like this, with the thread ends neatly tied:
Once all your circles have been appliqued, it’s time to lay out your squares. Here’s the fancy grid I used, direct from my sketchbook, with the color numbers from above to help with placement.
It may help to start in one corner. Once you approach the middle, it’ll be easier to see and follow the pattern.
Mine looked like this, with a couple squares needing to be remade because my hand crank machine gets grouchy as her bobbin runs low.
Begin stitching your rows together, taking time to admire your favorite fabrics as you go. This was a gift from a friend and I love it!
And although it’s not even quilted yet, I’m sharing the tutorial because several Instagram friends are eager to start bubble quilts of their own.
If you make one, I’d love to see it!
Since I am not a pattern designer, I used a program I’m more familiar with for editing photos, Picmonkey.com, to help me create the West Virginia license plate for the American Made Brand Blog Tour. There are parts of this plate that you may want to personalize, so I’ve explained how I made the different elements in the plate so that you can change them as you like. To make it easier on you if you’d just like to print and get on it with, you’ll find the pieces used in this block here: AMB WV License Plate
Here’s a list of the American Made Brand colors I used, in case you feel inclined to use the same as pictured:
- Forest, Dark Green and Olive for the hexagon land background
- White, Light Aqua and Light Sky for the hexagon sky background
- Dark Yellow for West Virginia
- Light Red for the heart
- White for WV lettering
- And for the border, feel free to use any color or colors you like, or you may prefer to simply extend the hexagons and have no border at all. For truer WV colors, I might have made the border in solid Light Navy. For this plate, (clockwise from upper left) I used Aqua, Dark Turquoise, Dark Aqua, Purple, Dark Blue, Light Navy, Dark Purple, Periwinkle, Dark Fuchsia, Dark Tomato, Orange, Light Yellow and Light Denim.
The background begins with English Paper Piecing using 1″ hexagons. I ordered my template papers from Etsy. If you haven’t done English Paper Piecing before, there’s an excellent tutorial from Jessica at Life Under Quilts that can be found HERE. This is an easy and soothing sewing form that doesn’t require a sewing machine, making it great for travel or even sitting in front of the TV in the evenings.
Lay out your hexagons in rolling hills and blue skies to be sure you like the placement and size, keeping in mind that the finished plate size will be 6.5″ by 12.5″. After sewing them together, I cut my hexies down to 6″x11″ to make room for a bit of border, but you could choose to skip the border and trim to 6.5″ x 12.5″ at this point. Oh, and just a tip about English Paper Piecing — before I use my templates, I use a hole punch on each of them. Then I can easily pop out the templates from the finished piece with a large blunt needle.
Trace the backwards West Virginia outline onto some light, sewable Heat n’ Bond. (Kristin from Sew Mama Sew made a great tutorial for fusing fabric in this way.) Roughly cut the shape out leaving a border of extra paper all the way around and iron to the wrong side of your fabric using the instructions on the package. Once it’s applied to the fabric, trim neatly around the WV border and iron it in place on your background. Stitch carefully around the outline with a very short stitch length about an eighth of an inch inside the border, or using a zigzag stitch that overlaps the edge. Since this is for a “display quilt” that is unlikely to go through a washing machine frequently, if ever, I didn’t worry about the fabric fraying and didn’t overlap the edges.
At this point I added my border. If you’d like to use a solid color border, try Light Navy, as blue and gold are West Virginia’s colors. If using multiple colors, you may want to attach them together as you would binding strips, at a 90 degree angle. I cut my pieces at 3″x3″, leaving lots of room to cut them down to my license size of 6.5″ x 12.5″. I was pretty paranoid that I’d mess something up at that step and was overly cautious. (Just keeping it real, this was the first time a fabric company ever asked me to be involved in anything like this!)
After adding your border, trim down to 6.5″ x 12.5″ and start thinking about how you’d like to decorate your plate. I added a heart from the templates available in Picmonkey to show my love for West Virginia. I sized the heart to about 1.5″ tall, but you may feel free to leave it off, or to add a smaller one over your hometown. For the letters, I traced them in the same way I did the outline of WV (reversed, remember!) using the font “Francois One” found under the “T” (for text) to the left in Picmonkey. I sized them to about 2.5″ tall. (I actually measured the letters on a WV plate to be sure that was right!) I kept things simple with just the “WV” abbreviation, since it’s to be part of a quilt of the 50 states, but you may want to use a word, name or year that has more meaning for you. For instance, if I were making this to keep, maybe in a wall hanging of license plates from states we’ve lived in, I might use “1996” to indicate the year we moved back to WV from my husband’s home state of NC. (For more crafty multiple state love, check here.)
At this point you can add a little more detail to the plate with the words “West Virginia” across the top and “Almost Heaven” across the bottom. Cut the words from your printed sheet, pin it in place,
then stitch right through the paper with a couple strands of embroidery floss. I used the font “La Belle Aurore” from Picmonkey, at a little under an inch tall. Feel free to change up the wording or font, or to leave them off all together as you like. “Wild and Wonderful” is another WV slogan I like. “Open for Business” is a slogan I never cared for, but there it is.
After I finished stitching, I steamed the paper with my iron to make it a bit softer, then very carefully tore it away from the stitching. It’s a pain, but it works. (Tissue paper, tracing paper or an air soluble pen might be better, but I didn’t have any on hand.)
Finish the lower lettering in the same way, and you’ll have a beautiful West Virginia license plate ready to add to your quilting project!
If you make one, I would LOVE to see it!
I couldn’t decide if I liked the wristlet better with a gray camera and a floral background
Now I feel a need to go be a tourist!