On the Bubble Quilt Tutorial


On the Bubble Quilt Tutorial Title

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:

  1.  White  13
  2.  Silver  24
  3.  Shadow  28
  4.  Medium Gray  36
  5.  Coal  44
  6.  Charcoal  52
  7. Pepper  28

You’ll also need 225 circles cut from various scraps.

On the Bubble Quilt: Cutting Circles and Squares

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.

On the Bubble Quilt: Circle Placement

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.

On the Bubble Quilt: Detail of Top Stitching

The backs will look like this, with the thread ends neatly tied:

On the Bubble Quilt: Back of Stitching

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.

On the Bubble Quilt Layout Guide

It may help to start in one corner.  Once you approach the middle, it’ll be easier to see and follow the pattern.

On the Bubble Quilt: Laying Out the Blocks

Mine looked like this, with a couple squares needing to be remade because my hand crank machine gets grouchy as her bobbin runs low.

On the Bubble Quilt in Progress

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!

On the Bubble Quilt in Progress

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.

On the Bubble Quilt Top A

On the Bubble Quilt Top B

If you make one, I’d love to see it!

On the Bubble Quilt


Cherry Pit Hand Warmers Tutorial

Cherry Pit Hand Warmers

This beginner level sewing project is quick, easy and low cost and would be great for craft sales or little gifts.

Cherry pits are wonderful to use in hand warmers or heat packs because they naturally retain heat and release it slowly.  Their small, round shape helps them to comfortably conform to the shape of your body, and they have a very pleasant light cherry scent.  They can be purchased in bulk, cleaned, dried and ready to use from many sources online.  (I found mine at The Next Door Down on Etsy.)

To make hand warmers:

  • Stack two charm squares (or scraps of fabric cut to 5″ square) right sides together and cut them in half, so that you have two pieces of fabric 2.5″ x 5″.
  • Sew with a quarter inch seam allowance around the outside of the rectangles, leaving an opening along one long side.  (Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitches to lock them in place.)
  • Turn right side out and press with a steamy iron.
  • Lightly fill with cherry pits.
  • Sew the opening closed very close to the edge of the fabric.  If you find it’s hard to maneuver under the presser foot, remove a few cherry pits and try again.  You’ll want the cherry pits to be able to move around a little when finished, so don’t over fill.

Cherry Pit Hand Warmers

Mix and match all kinds of fabrics, or make matching sets and tie them up with a little ribbon.  To use, pop them in a microwave for 20-30 seconds.  (Don’t overdo it, scorched cherry pits don’t smell nice.)

The packs are small enough so that they can stay in coat pockets all day without being much in the way, so kids are likely to bring them back home to heat up again before the bus stop wait tomorrow.  If your kids are fidgety like mine (and me!) they’ll probably enjoy the soothing feel of the warm cherry pits rolling around inside the warmers.

Make larger packs with the same method to use as a heating pad, or chill in the freezer to use as an ice pack.


Lava Meets Sea Half Square Triangle Quilt (With Tips to Make Your Own)


Lava Meets Sea Finished

This is possibly my favorite quilt, and it’s certainly the one that has had the most “how can I make one” questions as I was making it, so I thought I’d share some tips on how to make your own.

First, the story behind it:  This quilt is a gift for my best friend Kim, who is engaged to Matt.  I wanted to make a quilt for them that would illustrate the blending of two hearts, two lives and two families.  I named it Lava Meets Sea, because when lava hits the sea it makes rock, a strong foundation.

Lava Meets Sea Quilt Tilted

To start yours, decide on the colors you’d like to use.  To make it easy on myself, I bought bundles of fat quarters of coordinating reds and blues.  Both are Colorstory Fat Quarter Bundles by Robert Kaufman.  The red is called Hot Spice, the blue is Grecian Waters.  This gives you a wide range of lights and darks in each color to work with, but keep in mind that this quilt is based on value (the depth of color) as much as it is on color itself.  Be sure when choosing your colors and making your blocks that you continue the pattern of dark and light even as you change colors.  With the bundles of colors I chose, the red bundle is darker than the blue, so notice how the colors meet in the middle of the quilt.  The darker shades of the red are used with the paler shades of blue to keep the dark and light values moving through the center of the quilt where the colors meet.  It is very important that you not rely on the different colors to create the effect, make sure you’re keeping the dark and light values even through the color changes.  That might be easier to see from this photo where I was first laying out blocks.

Kim's Quilt Progress Blue

Here’s my super fancy chart.  Notice that this was not meant to be shared with the public, as I even wrote my optometrist appointment reminder at the top of the page.  *Sigh*  This makes a generous lap sized quilt, big enough to share for a nap on the couch.

Fancy Lava Meets Sea Quilt Chart

If you follow my chart, you’ll want to cut 201 red squares and 195 blue squares for a total of 396 squares.  Then you’ll want to make 127 red blocks, 121 blue blocks and 148 mixed blocks for the middle.  (I’m not sure that I kept completely to the chart, but it is helpful when you first start laying out the blocks.)  You can see how I separated my colors into two stacks each of dark, medium and light, one for the “solid” red (or blue) and another for the mixed (middle) area.

Kim's Quilt Process 3

The blocks for this quilt are the most simple blocks you can make, half square triangles.  Even if you’re new to sewing, with just a little practice you can make perfect blocks.  There’s a full tutorial here if you need to learn the method.  (I started with five inch squares just as in the tutorial.)  The tutorial will explain to separate colors into dark, medium and light and then mix them together to get the contrast you need for each side of the block.  By looking at the photos here, you should be able to lay out the blocks to form the diamond pattern that flows across the quilt.  Remember, if you’ve made half square triangles with contrasting values, you can create many different designs just by changing the direction of the blocks.  Play around with them and you may find a design you like more than this one!

Lava Meets Sea Quilt Completed

I chose a plain black binding, something that wouldn’t distract from the strong pattern of the quilt.

Lava Meets Sea Quilt Black Binding

Please let me know if you have any questions about construction, and I’d love to see your photos if you make one!  Please link me up so I can see what you made.  :)

Lava Meets Sea Quilt

Lava Meets Sea Quilt Porch Swing Cushion

Lava Meets Sea Quilt Porch Swing


Zippy Wallets

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If you haven’t yet made Noodlehead’s Zippy Wallets,

Three Little Wallets

I highly suggest trying her tutorial.

Three Little Finished Wallets

They make wonderful last minute gifts and use up little scraps of fabric.  This is a GREAT way to give someone a gift card!

Last Minute Gifts

As you can see, they’re a little addictive.

Zippy Wallets

Zippy Wallet Stack

All of these have already been gifted, so I may need to make a few more to stash away for future gift giving readiness!


Pixelated Spectrum Placemats: A Sewing Tutorial


Pixelated Spectrum Placemats Tutorial

I LOVE these placemats!  At first glance they might look like a lot of work, but the construction is just simple patchwork.  They’re also less expensive that you might think, thanks to the use of just one pack of Michael Miller’s Cotton Couture charm squares, which makes it easy to have this gorgeous range of colors without the huge investment of multiple yardage cuts.  The charm pack contains 85 five inch squares in an absolutely beautiful spectrum of color.  (For more with Cotton Couture, check out this Spectrum baby quilt I made with one charm pack of Cotton Couture and two packs of white charm squares!  I think it’s my favorite quilt so far.)

Pixelated Spectrum Placemats

To make six placemats, you’ll also need backing fabric (about a yard and a quarter), batting (crib size) and if you decide to use binding, one yard of fabric for that as well.  (Note: you may want to read the entire tutorial before beginning, because there are a couple alternative methods offered.  All seams are a quarter inch.)

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Tutorial

First, separate your colors into six stacks, one for each placemat, with at least 14 charm squares in each.  Think about the way you want the colors to blend from one side of the placemat to the other when dividing them.  Then cut each charm square into four equal 2.5″ squares.

New Project

Line your squares up into nine rows of six squares each.  I added a square of white or cream for just a bit of “sparkle”, as if light were being reflected.  Be sure to blend the colors a bit, but not too much, so the hues shift as your eyes move across the placemat.  Pretty!

Spectrum Placemats

Sew each row of six together, taking care to keep them in order.  It helps to pretend the points of the pinked edges are the top of a flat edge, like this:

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

Then press the seams open.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

Pin the rows together, carefully matching and pinning at the seams.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

Sew the rows together.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

And press the seams open.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

If you are new to piecing patchwork, you may want to take a look at Ayumi’s basket tutorial on Pink Penguin, a legend of internet sewing tutorials, which shows another method of lining up patchwork seams.  This is actually the way I learned to do patchwork and would work nicely for these placemats as well.  I chose the open seams method to make the seams just a little smoother and flatter since drinking glasses will be used on these, and I hoped to lessen the chance of any spills.

After finishing the tops, it’s time to quilt the placemats.  You have a couple choices here as well.  If you’d prefer to make the placemats without binding the edges, quilt only the top and batting together, then put the backing fabric face down on the top, pin in place and sew around the edges, leaving a few inches open to turn.  Carefully trim the corners close to the seam (but do NOT cut your stitches) so that the corners will be less bulky.  Then turn right side out and sew a finishing seam around the edges of the placemat.  (I apologize for not having photos of this method.  I like the way binding frames each placemat and went with that.)

If you are using binding, layer your backing fabric face down on the bottom, then stack batting on top of that and your finished placemat top face up on top.  Your backing fabric and batting should be slightly larger than the placemat top.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

I use a quilting spray to keep everything in place while I sew, but you could also pin the layers to keep them from shifting.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

Using a walking foot (which helps pull the layers of fabric evenly), stitch about a quarter inch from the horizontal seams.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

And do the same for the vertical seams.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

Trim closely around the placemat.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemat Sewing Tutorial

And now you’re ready to bind!  If you’ve never made or used binding before, I think the best tutorial is by Heather Bailey.    I like to cut my binding strips three inches wide.  The fabric I used is “Weave” in Coal from the Summersville collection by Lucie Summers for Moda.   I wanted to keep going with that grid vibe, but a solid black or something with a dark texture would be beautiful.

Pixelated Spectrum Placemats Tutorial

And enjoy!  Here’s a picture before washing:

Pixelated Spectrum Placemats Tutorial

And after they’ve been washed and dried, with all that crinkly, quilty goodness:

Pixelated Spectrum Placemats

Pixelated Spectrum Placemats

Pixelated Spectrum Placemats Tutorial

Finished size will be about 11.5″ x 17″.  If you make them, I’d love to see them — share a link to your pics or post, please!