Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Layout + Prepping Blocks

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

As we established yesterday, we (ahem-me-ahem) aren’t all ready to start laying out our blocks just yet. But those that are can start planning their final layout and prepping their blocks for assembly.

We aren’t actually going to discuss layout – that’s totally up to you, of course. My only advice is to just keep playing with them until you’re happy! Depending on how you want to organize the next steps, you may choose to lay out your quilt first, then pile each row up separately and trim from those piles. I myself am working with a million blocks, so it’s probably simpler for me to just trim them all in a big heap, then worry about layout. So have a think about what will work best for you, and when you’re ready, here’s how we’ll trim each block:

First, press each block well, making it all nice and crispy neat.

OPQA - Trimming blocks

Now we’ll actually trim! If you happen to have one or if you decided to splurge (which I did, because jeeeez, 196 blocks, people!), this will be simplest with a 5.5″ square ruler. If you don’t have that exact size, use another ruler that is at least 5.5″ on each side, this will make it easier to trim two sides at a time and properly line up your peel.

OPQA - Trimming blocks

Positioning these blocks for cutting is easy-peasy: just line up the diagonal marking on your square ruler with the points of your peel. You want to place it so that the ruler corners are positioned 1/4″ outside your peel points – this is your 1/4″ seam allowance.

OPQA - Trimming blocks

OPQA - Trimming blocks

You may notice that it’s not exact, and you’ll probably have a seam allowance that is slightly more than 1/4″. It’ll probably be more like 3/8″ if you center your peel along the diagonal of your square ruler. That’s totally ok – I planned that little tiny bit extra in from the beginning. If your peels really went exactly right up to the corner of each block, it’d be really easy to sew over the points if you do not have a precisely perfect 1.4″ seam allowance while sewing the blocks together. And who is really that precise all the time, I ask you?! It’s just a bit of safety space that will not effect the overall look of the peels meeting at their points.

OPQA - Trimming blocks

So, you’ve got your ruler positioned with the diagonal across the point, so trim trim trim! If you have the 5.5″ square ruler, you can trim on all sides at once, taking care to not to let the ruler move as you go. If you have a different size ruler, position the diagonal so that you can do two sides at once, then flip the block and do the same for the other two.

OPQA - Trimming blocks

That’s it! Trim every block in the same way and then come back Friday (the 28th) for tips on assembling the top!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

Orange Peel Quilt-Along!

Yay! It’s time to get started! Though today we’re just going to talk about getting started, really – what materials we need for our projects and what kind of fabric choices might work.

But first, a little disclaimer: this is my very first quilt-along – as a host or participant! I’m just doing this as it seems logical and pleasant to do, I don’t have any previous experience to build on. Also, I’ve checked out all of your links and I’m sure I don’t have any better quilting / sewing knowledge than you guys do. Seriously, you people have mad skillz, have you seen the beautiful things you’ve made?!? I’m sure you will all have good tips to share or have different ways of doing things – pretty please share those as we go along, either in the comments or in your own posts about the quilt-along! I don’t pretend to know better and learning from each other is definitely part of the benefit of sewing together!

Ok, I feel better, let’s go.

First up, let’s talk fabric. Here’s my choices for this project:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

My backgrounds are going to be the dark navy fabrics, my peels will be the pinks. I haven’t actually come across an orange peel quilt this way, dark with light peels. I really hope it works out as well as it looks in my head!

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

The fabrics for orange peels are all about contrast and how much of it you want. For the original wall-quilt, I went with low volume backgrounds and darker peels in a strict color scheme:

Orange Peel Mini-Quilt

Karen, who is quilting-along with us, mentioned the other day that she likes the low volume backgrounds, but doubted she’d have enough in her stash. I pointed out that at least two of my wall-quilt backgrounds don’t seem like they’d be low volume, but once they are contrasted with a darker fabric, they work perfectly. This Melody Miller horse print would never seem like it could be background fabric, but lookit with this extremely dark fabric from Lizzy House’s Catnap line:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

This combo is a little more typical, but also uses the print style to contrast:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

Or you could go with pairs of light / dark solids:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

Or maybe solids that are different colors but closer in intensity, for a lower-contrast quilt:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

The possibilities are endless, of course: you could make all of your peels from one fabric, if you have a couple of meters of something perfect in your stash. You could have all the peels in solids and all the backgrounds in prints, or vice versa. You could contrast by colors, or use scraps or even vintage sheets!

Whatever you choose, just consider what amount of contrast you want and make sure your fabrics work in pairs to give you the look you want!

Fabric Requirements:

(Two notes: Double-check that your fat quarters are a full 18″ tall, you’ll need every inch of height and a wonky cut could mean you’d need an extra fat quarter to make up the difference. Also, the background and peel fabrics are minimum requirements – you might find that you prefer a layout with more variety in prints, or that you need a bit more of your peel fabrics if you choose any prints that are directional or need to be fussy cut to get stripes even, etc.)

Wall Hanging Size: 30″ x 30″

  • 4 fat quarters (FQ) background fabric
  • 4 FQ peel fabric
  • 1 yd / 1 meter of backing fabric (or a 34″-ish square)
  • 34″-ish square of batting
  • 1 LQ (long quarter) binding fabric

Lap Quilt Size: 60″ x 60″

  • 16 FQ background fabric
  • 12 FQ peel fabric
  • 4.5 yd / 4 meters backing fabric
  • 2 yd / 1.75 meters batting (assuming width is at least 65″)
  • .5 yd / .5 meter binding fabric

Notes for customizing the size of your quilt:

  • Quilt size is based on 5″ finished peel blocks. If you want to change the size of your quilt, simply chose a size that is a multiple of 5″ – or a multiple of 10″ if you want it to be symmetrical (which you probably do).
  • To find the number of peel blocks you need to make, simply multiply the two sides: to make a baby quilt that is 40″ x 40″, each side will be 8 blocks long. 8 x 8 = 64 peel blocks, so you will need 64 background squares and 64 peels.
  • One FQ will give you 9 background squares or approximately 12 peels. Using the example above, 64 ÷ 9 = 7.1, so you will need 8 background FQs. 64 ÷ 12 = 5.3, so you will need 6 peel FQs. Does that make sense?
  • If I can help you customize your quilt in a different way, just let me know!

One more thing about fabric for this project: the nice thing about this pattern is that you really make just one block at a time, there’s no need to have every bit of fabric ready right now. My stack is ready to go because I’ve had this stack pulled and waiting for the right project for about a year. But you can always use what you have to hand and add to it as we go! And if you want to use scraps or other cuts, start gathering and I’ll talk about what to cut next time.

Other Materials Needed:

Orange Peel Quilt-Along: Materials and Fabric Choices

  • Rotary cutter, ruler, cutting mat, sewing machine (for later), iron, etc.
  • Sharp fabric scissors, paper scissors
  • Reynold’s Freezer Paper – if you are in the UK, the cheapest I’ve found (so far) for a roll is right here at the Cotton Patch. If you are elsewhere and can’t find this anywhere, please let me know and we’ll figure out the best alternative. It really is a handy thing if you can get it though!
  • Tweezers
  • A pencil
  • Thread:
    • Machine-sewing thread to match your background fabrics – I’m using Aurifil 50wt
    • Hand-sewing thread to match your peel fabrics – I’m using Aurifil 40wt (shown here as 50wt, for you eagle-eyes, because it had to be ordered) because I want to try it for hand-stitching, but you don’t need any special kind of thread as long as it matches your peels.
    • Any old thread for basting – something that contrasts your peels will be easiest to see. I use the leftover bits on spools or bobbins for this.
  • Hand-stitching Tools:
    • Small scissors
    • A thimble, if you like that sort of thing – I use the sticky leather pad type
    • Hand-sewing or applique needles – I have a different pack shown, but I just ordered these a few minutes ago. I think you want something thin and not too long, but really, needles are personal and you’ll find what you like best as you work.
  • Sewing pins! They sell special applique pins, which are really teensy, but I don’t think that’s necessary myself, we’re not working that small.
  • A 5.5″ square quilting ruler will save you a lot of time if you are making a larger quilt. This is totally optional and we won’t need it for ages anyway, but I mention it now in case you see one on sale or something!
  • Binding clips, such as Clover Wonder Clips – again, optional and not until the very end of the process.

I think that’s it! Other than fabric and maybe the freezer paper, I imagine you’ll have most of this in your standard toolkit already. So go collect your materials and fabrics and we’ll come back on the 3rd of September (in two weeks) to starting cutting up our fabric. In the meantime, when you decide about fabric or just want to ponder some options or whatever, leave a link to a photo or blog post here so that we can all drool over each other’s choices!

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The Little Elves Wall Hanging Tutorial!

The Little Elves - Little Dorrit & Co. Embroidery Pattern - In the shop now!

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m often unsure what to do with embroideries once they’re finished! I love making them into useful or decorative items, which is why we try to share ideas for turning your Little Dorrit & Co. embroideries into finished objects. If you’ve grabbed yourself our new Little Elves embroidery pattern, here’s how to turn it into an easy holiday wall hanging. After all, there’s a lot of embroidery in there – it should be a feature!


Finished size: 19″ square
1/4″ seams throughout
Press seams outward (away from embroidery)

Here’s what you need:

Little Elves Wall Hanging Tutorial

  • Finished Little Elves embroidery
  • Fat quarter for border around embroidery (we used an unbranded red pindot print)
  • Fat quarter for backing (we used Kona Mint)
  • Fat quarter for binding (we used a print from Denyse Schmidt’s Florence)
  • A piece of batting, about 20″ square
  • Standard (machine) sewing tools: thread, scissors, rotary cutter, etc.
  • Thread for hand-stitched quilting (optional – we used DMC Perle No. 8, color 321)
  • Curved basting pins (optional)
  • Wooden dowel for hanging, about 17-18″ long

(Before we start, I want to point out that my tutorial for our Night Before Christmas pillow is basically interchangeable with this one up to a point, but for slightly different measurements. They even have the same finished size – so you can always make the Little Elves into a pillow, or the Night Before Christmas into a wall hanging! Use the fabric cutting measurements for the embroidery you’ve done, but follow the instructions for whichever finished object you prefer!)

Here’s what to cut:

  • Trim finished embroidery to 14″ square, with design centered
  • From your border fabric: 2 strips 14″ x 3″ and 2 strips 19″ x 3″
  • 2 pieces 3″ x 5″ (for hanging tabs – from scraps or leftover from trimming border pieces!)
  • about 80″-85″ worth of binding strips, 2.25″ wide (if you cut from the shorter end of your FQ, cut 3 strips)

All we need to do to make the top of this mini-quilt is sew the border strips to the embroidery. Sew the shorter strips to the top and bottom, press the seams away from the embroidery, then do the same with the longer strips on each side:

Little Elves Wall Hanging Tutorial

Done! Now make a quilt sandwich with your backing fabric (right side down), then batting, then the mini-quilt top you just finished (right side up). Make sure everything is nice and smooth and secure layers with curved basting pins or whatever basting method you prefer.

Little Elves Wall Hanging Tutorial

You might prefer to do a little machine quilting, but I stitched ours by hand. I used DMC Perle Cotton No. 8, in color 321 – a cheerful, Christmassy red.

Little Elves Wall Hanging Tutorial

I simply went around either side of the border’s seam in a fairly large running running stitch. Yum – I do enjoy large stitches.

Little Elves Wall Hanging Tutorial

Trim away excess backing and batting to square up your finished sandwich.

Now we’ll make a pair of hanging tabs for the back of the quilt. (Please forgive that ours is shown hung with washi tape above! There’s no well-lit good-hanging spot in this crazy house!) Take your 3″ x 5″ pieces and fold them with 3″ sides together, wrong sides together. Sew along the 3″ side:

Little Elves Wall Hanging Tutorial

Then turn right-side-out and press with the seam in the middle of one side. Fold again, raw edges together (and seam sandwiched in the middle) and press.

Little Elves Wall Hanging Tutorial

Pin each tab, raw edges aligned with the top edge of the quilt, about 3″ from each side:

Little Elves Wall Hanging Tutorial

Baste in place (less than 1/4″ from edge, so the basting stitches will be hidden by your binding). Now time for binding!

I will send you over to another tutorial for the binding, because I’ve already shown my binding method in my Retro Christmas Tree Mug Rug Tutorial!
Go over there and bind away!

To hang your quilt, hand-stitch the folded edge of each tab down the same as you did your binding, then slide your dowel inside the tabs. Rest the dowel on a couple of nails or hooks and that’s it! Enjoy your Little Elves wall hanging through the holiday season!

The Little Elves - Little Dorrit & Co. Embroidery Pattern - In the shop now!

(Did this tutorial make you want to get your Christmas stitch on? Save 20% on Little Dorrit & Co. embroidery patterns through July with the code CHRISTMASINJULY.)

Sampler #6: First Crewel Filling Stitch

Crewel Filling Stitches - Sampler #6

I’ve been doing a lot of research about what really constitutes a crewel filling stitch (other than long-and-short stitch / shading as a solid filling, which is not included here) and here’s what I’ve learned: most of them are really just combinations of other stitches and there’s no, say, ‘directory’ of them. If you look at historical Jacobean crewelwork, the same combos sort of repeat endlessly but with minor differences.

I’m working up a little chart (above, looking very professional and official indeed) of what stitches I’ll put where, but the most common combination in old pieces seems to be the use of couching to make a simple lattice, then french knots, cross stitches, or detached chains to fill the spaces. This is what you think of when you picture crewelwork filling, am I right?

Crewel Filling Stitches - Sampler #6

So that seems like a good place to start! Here’s a basic tutorial for how to work this sort of filling:

First things first. To start and end a thread in crewelwork, you will make a few teeeensy (just a millimeter or two) stitches in a nearby area that you will cover later. In our case, that will be along the borders between each section. Make a single knot at the end of your thread and go down into your fabric through the top, so that the knot sits on a line. Then take two or three little wee stitches on the line before starting to stitch your section. When you’ve done just a bit to make sure all is secure, you can go ahead and carefully snip that knot off. (This is also called a ‘waste knot’, by the way.) The little stitches will stay there and be covered up later on; you can start this way in any area that you know will be completely covered later. In the photo above, you can see one knot that still needs to be snipped off and my other starting stitches sitting along the other border lines.

I’ve chosen three thread colors (the two brighter colors are actually very slightly different shades, to give a bit of subtle depth). First we make a lattice with long, straight stitches:

Crewel Filling Stitches - Sampler #6

This isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, as the overall look really does depend on getting your lattice squares as even as you possibly can. Honestly, I’m not really happy with the evenness of my first couple of rows there, but I seem to be getting better as I go. A tip (shown above): to help get a straight and evenly spaced line, hold your thread down across where you want it to lay and insert your needle at the end point.

Crewel Filling Stitches - Sampler #6

Once you’ve filled your space with lattice, you’ll tack down each intersection with a little stitch (in a new color, if you like). Again, this is a little trickier than it looks! You want the tacking stitch to be very small, but not so close to the lattice threads that it effects the straightness of the lattice lines. This will take a few before you get a feel for how long and close this stitch should be.

Then stick a french knot in the middle of each square – or whatever you like, really – and that’s the first block of this sampler filled!

The Night Before Christmas Embroidered Pillow Tutorial!

Night Before Christmas Embroidery Pattern!

As I mentioned the other day, the Little Dorrit & Co. Team (ahem, me and Mom) have been thinking about how we can put our embroideries to use. We like things to be used, not hidden away and hoarded! Honestly, nothing makes me happier than to see something I made all beat up and ratty. It means it was loved! So this time, we’ve turned our new Night Before Christmas embroidery pattern into a snuggly holiday pillow cover and here’s how you can make one, too!

(Note: you may need to shield your eyes from the psychotic reds in this tutorial. I can usually wait for a nice day with natural light, but it’s November in the UK and I couldn’t wait any longer. It will be dark and gray until next April and editing can only do so much. Whattya gonna do?!)

Just like we did for our Dracula Trick-or-Treat Tote, we’ll start by trimming our embroidery down to 15″ square. If you haven’t done your embroidery yet, make sure to stitch on a piece at least 16″ square so that you can neaten it up after for sewing. Go back to that Dracula post for tips on getting your embroidery centered nicely, but the best tip is always measure twice, cut once and double-check it about 30 times in between!


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