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!