Orange Peel Quilt-Along: How to Make Orange Peels

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

Ok, are we ready for the next step? Here’s all of my 6″ squares, 144 of ’em:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Peels Tutorial

But don’t worry if you haven’t cut all of your squares yet – in fact, you’ll only need one to follow this week’s tutorials, and then you can go ahead and cut one at a time if you like, it’s totally up to you.

So let’s learn how to make peels!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Peels Tutorial

First you’ll need a peel template – here’s one I prepared earlier:

Download Peel Template Here

You can print the template, cut it out, then trace it on to card or a thin cardboard (like a cereal box, for example) – or you can simply print directly onto card (which is what I did). The point is to have a sturdy template, because you’ll be tracing it quite a few times.

(Note: when you print, make sure to print to actual size or choose ‘no scaling’ – and the template includes a 1″ block for testing, so double-check that before you continue.)

Using your sturdy template, you will trace the peel shape onto your freezer paper and cut out the applique shapes:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Peels Tutorial

Technically, you’ll need one freezer paper peel per finished peel (so either 36, or 144, or your custom number), but in theory, you *should* be able to reuse them at least once, so I suggest cutting no more than half of what you need to start with. I cut about 60 or so, for now.

In case you’ve never used freezer paper before, here’s how you apply it to your fabric. Check out one of your applique shapes – you’ll see one side is shiny and slick and the other side is papery:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Peels Tutorial

The shiny side is what will stick to your fabric. So press one of your peel fabrics and place a freezer paper shape, shiny side down, onto your fabric with 1/4″ seam allowance all around it. With your iron set to cotton (no steam), simply press down on the shape and it will stick to your fabric. It’s magic!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Peels Tutorial

How long you need to press for full stuck-ness will of course depend on your iron, but I usually hold for a few seconds to get an initial stick, then go over everything a few times once I have a few shapes stuck. As you stick multiple shapes next to each other, make sure to leave at least 1/2″ between them!

(Note: for those of you making the wall quilt, you should have plenty of peel fabric to be casual with your placement. If you’re making the lap quilt, you’ll need to get 12 peels from each FQ, so you might want to lay them all out first to make sure they all fit properly before you press. Also, there’s no reason to lay them out diagonal like I have, just lay them out however you like!)

Now with sharp fabric scissors, cut out each peel with at least 1/4″ seam:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Peels Tutorial

I tend to cut with a slightly bigger seam allowance, just because it’s a little easier to manage and it does no harm to have a bit more fabric to hold later – but it’s not necessary.

Now we’ll baste the seams under. If you’ve ever done any English Paper Piecing, this will be very familiar. Grab your basting / scrap thread and a fairly sturdy needle –

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Peels Tutorial

– and starting at one pointy end, fold the seam allowance down over the freezer paper:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Peels Tutorial

Knot the thread and pull it through so that the knot is on the right side of your peel. This will will make your basting stitches easier to remove later. Now using big stitches (about 1/4″-ish) and folding as you go, baste through all layers all around the peel.

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Peels Tutorial

At the pointy ends, just fold the second side over the first and stitch through all layers. As I said: if you’ve ever paper pieced a hexagon, you’ll know exactly what to do.

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Peels Tutorial

Unlike hexagons, though, you’ll notice that your fabric gathers a little as you stitch. That’s totally fine, we’ll press them flat later.

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Peels Tutorial

Here’s what your peels should look like, right and wrong side:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Peels Tutorial

And that’s it. As always, let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll show you how to applique your peels to your squares on Thursday Friday (the 19th)!

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Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Cutting Background Fabric

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

Ok, I’ve officially decided to swap my fabrics around, so I’m cutting my background pinks. If you’ve picked your fabrics – or some of them, at least* – let’s get cutting!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along

Basically, this is the simplest part of the whole project:

From each of your fat quarters, cut NINE 6″ squares.

That’s it!


– If you are making the wall quilt, you will need to cut a total of 36 squares.

– If you are making a lap quilt, you will need to cut a total of 144 squares.

(And if you’re working on a custom size, you know your number.)

A quick note about square size: if you’re a real smartypants, you might notice that we are finishing with 5″ squares in our quilt, so why a half-inch seam allowance in the cutting process? That’s just to make things extra fool-proof. When you appliqué your peels, you’ll need to position them just so on the background squares. If you’re off just a little bit – and how could you not be, really, it’s hand-stitching – and you have no extra room to account for it later, it could get messy. We will trim away the extra 1/4″ later, based on exact placement of the peels, which takes away the need for exact perfection now.

Also, working by hand will no doubt cause a little fraying and whatnot, so if we’re able to trim them clean later, we don’t have to worry about that as we stitch either.

And that’s that. Get cutting!

(*Don’t forget: you can totally get started cutting and stitching even if you don’t have all of your fabrics picked out. You’ll work just one square at a time, so you always add more squares to the pile as you go.)

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