Quilt-along

Merry Medallion Quilt Week 2: Center Star

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

Alrighty, ready to sew?! This week, we’ll make the center star of the Merry Medallion quilt. That’s the section highlighted below:

Merry Medallion Week 1: Center Star

What You’ll Need

– all of your 7″ squares (five red, three green, eight low volume)
– all of your 6.5″ squares (four low volume)
– general sewing stuff

Making The Pieces

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

First, we’ll make half square triangles from our 7″ squares. (I’m basically repeating this from my Huge Honking Churn Dash Tutorial, pardon the re-run.) On the wrong side of one low volume square, mark a diagonal line from one corner to the other.

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

Pair the marked low volume square with an unmarked colored square (green or red), place right sides together, and sew 1/4″ away from the line, on both sides of the line:

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

(If you have a 1/4″ foot, that’s handy for this step. I use the left side of my foot on this machine, which is exactly 1/4″ away from the needle. You can also mark lines 1/4″ away from the center line if that’s easier.)

Cut down the drawn line with a rotary cutter or sharp fabric scissors, and you’ll end up with two new squares, each made of one light and one dark triangle. Yay!

Press seams towards the darker side.

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

Now, you might notice that your new square is a little wonky. Don’t worry, that’s totally part of the magic. We made those squares a teensy bit bigger than they had to be, so that we can trim them nice and perfect before the next step.

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

Line up the 45-degree diagonal on your ruler, or your cutting mat, with the diagonal seam, and trim each of these blocks to 6.5″. You’ll only end up shaving a wee bit from each side, but you’ll end up with a nice, neat square.

Chain Piecing

To make the rest of our HSTs, we’re going to chain piece them. This concept is key to making the Merry Medallion doable in a month without difficulty. Chain piecing means that instead of starting and stopping for each individual HST, we’ll feed them right into the machine one after the other.

This technique saves a shocking amount of time (and thread) – chain piece a handful of HSTs and then consider how long the same would take if you’d stopped, removed the fabric, clipped the thread and then started a new one fresh each time. I’m sure you’ll immediately see why this is such a great concept for speedy piecing. (You all know I am not normally one for quik-n-ezee projects, and I’d never choose chain piecing over hand-stitching for most projects. But there is a time and place for breezing through a stack of squares!)

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

So, when you get to the end of one diagonal HST line, don’t lift the presser foot or anything, just feed your next HST pair in right after it (like in the photo above). You’ll probably have a few stitches between the two pieces of fabric, and they’ll connect to each other like bunting. Try it out with a few scraps before your HSTs, if you’re unsure.

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

When you’re done, just carefully clip them apart. You will end up with ten red/low volume squares and six green/low volume squares. Trim all squares as described above.

Center Star Layout / Assembly

Now lay out your low volume squares and your HSTs as shown below:

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

You will have extra HSTs (one extra red square and three extra green squares), so you have a little flexibility with your arrangement. Play with the layout until you’re happy!

To assemble the center star, now that you have all the pieces ready, you will simply sew the 16 blocks into four rows, then sew the four rows together to make the star. You can chain piece these rows too, by the way, just take care to keep everything in order!

Press your block seams in alternate directions (top row to the left, second row to the right, and so on) and then the longer row seams all in one direction (it doesn’t really matter which way).

Your finished center star block should measure 24.5″.

Merry Medallion Week 2: Center Star

We’re on our way now! Next Friday: round 2 – see you there!

Merry Medallion Quilt – Free Christmas (in July) Quilt-Along!

Yay! Christmas in July is almost upon us again, and I’m ready with loads of Very Merry Projects!

Throughout July, I’ll be posting full instructions for a jolly, surprisingly simple, Christmas quilt. I call it the Merry Medallion Quilt!

Merry Medallion Quilt design by Julie Zaichuk-Ryan

HO HO HO!

I designed this because, coming up to the holidays last year, I had a chat with some folks who said they’d have to start months ahead if they ever hoped to get a Christmas quilt done in time for the holidays – and I totally know how it is! I originally planned to make this quilt last year, but started thinking about it way too late, and really, rushing to finish by a holiday deadline (when we all have so many holiday and gift crafts going on already) just isn’t festive at all, is it?

And thus was born the Merry Medallion / Christmas In July Quilt-Along! I wanted to make a second holiday quilt for the house anyway (what on earth is cozier than tucking under holly jolly quilts to watch your favorite Christmas movies?!) and figured I might as well make it possible for you all to join along! I designed this quilt specifically to be easy to put together in an organized, week-by-week fashion, with very simple shapes and techniques, over the five weeks of July – I guarantee you a finished quilt top by the end of the month. That leaves you five more months to quilt and bind it at your leisure for a finished quilt by Christmas!

We will be making a 60″ x 60″ lap / throw-sized quilt. This design is perfect for an experienced quilter who wants a relaxing, stress-free project, or a newer quilter looking for the next step up. And I’ve designed it to be fat-quarter friendly, for the most part, so go dig in your stash and gather the following:


Merry Medallion Fabric Requirements:

finished size: 60″ x 60″

– 5 red fat quarters
– 4 green fat quarters
– 8 low volume / background fat quarters (white in the diagram above)
– 3 low volume / background 1/2-meter/yd cuts (for the long borders between rounds)
– 1 mid-volume* fat quarter or 3 7″x7″ scraps (for border corners, where red dots are shown in the diagram above)

* I may have just made up the term ‘mid-volume’ – I mean a fabric that will give a slight contrast to the border fabrics, but not compete with the red and green in the other rounds.

An important note about red and green fabric requirements: This is a scrappy design, meant to give you a scrappy look even in the center star, but even so, the amounts listed are the minimum requirement. I will provide cutting diagrams to ensure that these amounts will be enough, but I think this design will be even cuter with more prints in the mix! It’s a scrap-happy design, so feel free to gather up all of your red and green scraps or just add more fat quarters to the pile for fun!

To finish the quilt later, you’ll also need:
– 3 1/2 meters/yds backing fabric
– 1/2 meter/yd binding fabric
– Batting (amount dependent on width)


Here’s my initial fabric pull, a happy mix of novelty Christmas fabrics and regular prints – you’ll see my two ‘mid-volume’ possibilities at the bottom left there:

Merry Medallion Fabric Choices

If you’d like to play with color layout and go your own way on fabrics / colors, I’ve made you this handy-dandy coloring sheet to doodle on:

Download Merry Medallion Coloring Sheet Here

We’ll start cutting fabric on the 3rd of July, and I’ll post a new tutorial every following Friday in July. Please join in, I really love sewing with you guys! And if you have any questions, ask away – I’m here to help!

Oh, and if you want to play along, but think my quilt design is stupid, or you have other Christmas crafts to be getting on with, join us anyway! Let’s band together to banish December stress and have fun with Christmas crafting! No matter which project(s) you work on, tag photos on IG with #xmasinjulyalong and/or #merrymedallionqal to join in the festive fun!

Orange Peel Quilts Made by You!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

To officially close up our quilt-along, good and proper, I wanted to share your hard work – with each other as well as with those readers who have stuck with my blog through all these quilt-along posts even if they weren’t taking part. My wonderful quilt-alongers did such a beautiful job. Thank you all so much for sharing your photos with me for this post – and for sewing with me. This project happened just when I needed it most and I will adore you all always for sticking with me and keeping me company through this project. And I’m so happy that you’ve all ended up with such beautiful projects!

This WIP is by Andrée, who blogs at Quilting & Learning – What a Combo!, and she’s used Tula Pink’s Fox Field (NOM) for her peels:

Andree-OrangePeel5

Andree-OrangePeel9

Holy yum, I absolutely love those low volume rings peppered in between the busy prints!! I’m a bit of Tula Pink fangirl anyway, so of course Andrée’s peels were going to be just my style!

* * *

Wendy from The Crafter’s Apprentice chose to do a rainbow-arranged wall quilt:

WendyOPQA

WendyOPQA2

It’s so cheerful, Wendy – and you’re almost finished, you can do it!

* * *

Robin C., aka GingerScribble on IG and the interwebs, has become a lovely friend through this quilt-along, and she absolutely killed this project:

RobinC-OPQA
RobinC-OPQA2

Robin didn’t just make her quilt (for her mother, in colors she doesn’t even like!) significantly larger than even myself, she finished first – and made a pieced back! I wish I had prizes, or ribbons, ’cause you’d definitely win this quilt-along, Robin!

* * *

Barbara, who I don’t believe has a blog herself, joined us in spirit, but went her own way – a woman after my own heart! She’s used a different applique method and really went to town with hand-stitching:

BarbaraOPQA

I love the way Barbara took inspiration from this project but did her own thing. So so cool.

* * *

Linda – also blogless as far as I know – made hers similar to my first peel wall quilt, but larger:

Linda-OPQA

LindaOPQA

And hand-quilted it with thicker thread and yummy big stitches. I like how her stitches are very close to her peels, where mine were spaced out from the peels slightly – it’s amazing how that changes the look so much!

* * *

Jenny (jeng_g_nj02 on IG) is the only one of us to have divided backgrounds and peels by solids / prints, and to absolutely charming effect:

JennyOPQA

So cheerful! I love how her choices mean that some blocks are dark-on-light and some are light-on-dark.

* * *

Robin W, who happens to have been the winner of my recent giveaway!, did hers a bit like mine, in that the peels and backs are all in two colors, but in many different fabrics:

RobinW-OPQAL 2015

Robin said that she used the back-sides of a bunch of white-on-white and similar fabrics that she didn’t even really like, but lookit how elegant her quilt is!

* * *

Rebecca (greenandbell on IG) is another wonderful friend I’ve been lucky to make through this quilt-along, and she’s endlessly inspiring as a quilter. Her peels are no different, such a beautiful and delicate combination of solids and prints –

Rebecca-OPQA

– framed in a pair of wide borders. Lovely.

* * *

And last, but of course not least, my very own partner in crime, Karen from Henry’s Shed. You may not know this, but Karen is half responsible for all of this orange peel madness – when I wondered about making a large version of the wall quilt the Mini Bee made together, she laughed at my hesitation and jumped in with both feet. We stitched peels together at the pub and talked peels strategy for hours on end. What a good pal. :)

KarenOPQA

Karen’s still assembling her top, and then she plans on hand-quilting it, but you can see how lovely it’ll be already!

* * *

I love them all, guys, and I love seeing them all in one place, all of our hard work all together. I believe there are a few more WIPs out there in the wild, so if you joined in but aren’t in the post here, leave a comment with a link to a photo so we can see your work, too! I know I promised to show you my finished quilt last week, but I lied – I had to wait out a couple of days of crummy weather to get a shoot in, and I haven’t been able to prepare a post in time because it will be a little more than just FO photos. I’ll be back in a few days to tell you more, cross my heart.

Orange Peel Quilt-Along Schedule

Orange Peel Mini In Progress

Guys! I’m so ridiculously pleased that we have a little Orange Peel-Along group! That’s so damn awesome!

I think there’s about ten of us in total, so far, and nearly every one of us (myself included) said that a Quilt-Along with a fast pace or strict deadlines would not work for them. I feel ya, guys, that’s why I don’t join in with more project-alongs! I always want to, but I know I won’t be able to keep up with so many other things I’m working on.

But you know how I love slow crafts. I try to always have one project in the works that doesn’t need to get anywhere in a hurry. Which orange peels are absolutely perfect for.

The natural way to go is for us to start talking about fabric choices and requirements right away, so we can all think about materials, then follow with tutorials for each step. There will be a few of those, then we’ll just be stitching away on our peels for a goodly while – but I’ll continue to post progress and ask you all to share yours at regular intervals!

I hope you don’t think my schedule looks rushed. I tried to strike a balance between a relaxed approach and steady progress. And I based my scheduling on each task rather than a strict once-a-whatever format. I felt some should be closer together for continuity (where they’re essentially two halves of one tutorial) and some steps need more time to complete. Also, these are not steps that have to be completed in their entirety before moving on like with other sewing projects – you’ll probably prep some, stitch some, prep more, etc.

So here’s our Orange Peel Quilt-Along schedule:


August 20: Materials List and Fabric Choices
September 3: Cutting Background Fabric
September 16: How to Make Orange Peels
September 19: How to Applique Peels
September 26 – November 5: Progress Posts + Link-Ups
(about every 10 days-ish)
November 22: Final Progress Post + Link-Up
November 24: Layout + Prepping Blocks
November 28: Assembling The Top


I’m going to leave it there for now, because I think we’ll have to decide along the way how to progress after that. I’m conscious that we’ll be creeping close the holidays from there on, and we might just want to just take a break until after the New Year. Or perhaps we’ll want these finished quilts to be gifts, in which case we’ll want to get on with it! So let’s decide how we want to continue from that point closer to the time, does that sound ok to you guys?

One thing I want to stress about our schedule: there is no keeping up. I don’t want anyone to feel like they are ‘behind’ if real-life-stuff means you can’t stitch your allotted number of peels on time, or like you can’t join if you’re not ready to start this exact second. We’re not going to be that kind of Quilt-Along, right?! Whether you’re ‘on track’ or not, I really hope you’ll check in and share your progress (or lack of, that’s fine too, you know we’ll all be able to relate!) – it’s not a race!

I’ll put a link-up widget at the bottom of each post so that you can add a link to your blog / Flickr photo / whatever to show your progress. (I considered a social media tag for those of us on Twitter or IG, but I don’t want anyone who doesn’t use those apps to be left out.)

I’ve also made this button for you to stick on your blogs, if you like! (Just right-click, save as, and then add to your blog sidebar or in your related posts like any image. If you add it to your blog sidebar, you can link it to button-button.co.uk, or this post with the schedule, or use this one to link up to all related posts.)

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

One last thing, I wonder if everyone planning on joining would leave a comment below to say hi to the group, and leave a link to your blog / flickr / whatever-you-like in the comments? It’d be nice to ‘meet’ each other, dontcha think?

I so excited for us to get started! Meet back here on the 20th and we’ll start talking fabrics!