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Quilted Letters Wall Hanging

Learn how to make quilted wall hangings with these step-by-step instructions

Utilize this technique in gifts for weddings, anniversaries, graduations, photo album and book covers, bookmarks, wooden gift boxes and more! Also great to use with specialty fabrics and works into wonderful ideas for photo transfer projects. Instructions provided courtesy of quilt designer Mary Lou Hallenbeck.

Materials and Tools:

The fabric requirements are on the generous side as some leftover fabric is better than not enough. Make sure the fabrics have good contrast with each other.

Quilted Letters pattern – H. D. Designs
1 yard background fabric
3/4 yard bias strip fabric (letters M & W take a bit more so better to have 1 yard)
1 fat quarter letter inset portion
1 fat eighth (can match bias strip or be a contrasting color) fabric berries
1 yard backing fabric
1/3 yard binding fabric
border fabric-optional (for a 3" cut border (finished 2-1/2") purchase 1/3 yard)
cotton batting cut size of your finished piece plus one inch extra on all four sides.
1/4" wide Steam-A-Seam II on a roll
metal Celtic bias bars
Clover Mini Iron
Roxanne's Glue Baste It (fabric glue)
thread
small scissors
marking pen/pencil for transferring design
safety pins (for quilting)

Designer Note - The size shown on the show was the letter pattern from the packet enlarged to 400 percent which is the size we do when I teach classes. This makes a wonderful size wall hanging that measures approx. 24" x 36" when complete. Other sizes can be done as well and information for doing this is in the pattern.

Steps:

The Quilted Letters (at 400 percent size) are made with 3/8-inch bias fabric strips and some of the letters will need 1/4-inch bias fabric strips in the very tight Celtic areas.

Bias Strips
1. Use the 3/4-yard piece of fabric for your bias strips and press it from the wrong side using spray starch.

2. Open the fabric up to one thickness. Place it onto the cutting mat, lining up the selvage with the bottom line on mat. From the lower corner, line ruler up at the 45-degree angle and cut off an approximate four-inch triangle rendering a bias edge as a starting point to start cutting strips. Line ruler up to the cut edge of the fabric and cut bias strips that are 1-1/4 inch wide. Note: This size strip can be made into both sizes of the bias — the 3/8 inch and the 1/4 inch. Cut approximately three-fourths of your fabric into strips and set the rest aside for additional strips if needed. It is important to be very accurate in cutting the strips.

3. Trim off the points from the ends of the strips.

4. Starting with a shorter strip first, fold strip in half lengthwise with wrong sides together. Insert a 3/8-inch wide metal bias press bar and make a mark with a pen where the sewing line should be. Remove the metal bar then machine-stitch for approximately three inches at this measurement making sure to keep the edges of the fabric even with each other. Insert the bar again and check to the fit — it should not be too loose or too tight on the bar. Redo if necessary. Once the measurement is accurate, repeat for all the strips. Be very accurate in your sewing. Follow the same procedure using the 1/4-inch wide metal bias bar for any narrower strips.

5. Trim the seam allowance to about 1/8 inch on all the strips. Tip - the bias strips are easier to sew accurately if the fabric is cut wider first and trimmed after the sewing.

6. Take the strips to the ironing board and start inserting the 3/8-inch metal bias press bar into each strip one at a time. Wiggle the bias strip on the bar so that the seam is centered. Press this seam over to one side with a regular iron. Move the bar on down the strip, continuing this process. When entire strip is done remove the metal bar and then press it from the front side. Be careful not to burn your fingers as the metal bars do get very hot. Iron all the strips. Tip - Use the next strip to be ironed as a potholder and pull the metal bar out of the strip that was just pressed. Follow the same procedure using the 1/4-inch wide metal bias bar for narrower strips.

7. Iron the Steam-A-Seam II quarter-inch wide tape on to the back of the bias strips. A regular iron works best for this. Don't hold the iron on for too long. This tape adheres very quickly. Store in a zipper-lock style plastic bag until ready for use.

Quilt Top
1. Iron background fabric with spray starch and center it over the 400-percent enlarged pattern. Pin it in place. Trace design onto background fabric with a pen or pencil that will show up. The bias strips will cover the marks.

2. Trace the inset letter portion accurately onto the inset fabric and cut it out. Glue-baste letter inset fabric to background fabric according to the pattern. Roxanne's Baste It glue product works very well for this.

3. Using the Clover mini-iron, start to iron the strips around the letter first, following the design. Go around the longest parts of the letter first and then the longest vine areas, using your longest pieces of bias up first. Remove the paper backing from the bias strip. Line the bias strip up so that half of the strip covers the letter fabric and half of it is on the background. Measure your pieces out as you go along to make sure it will be long enough to do each section before you iron them down. Complete the rest of the design using the medium and shorter pieces of remaining bias. Gently pull up sections of the longer bias that was already ironed down to tuck under the ends of the shorter strips. Re-iron.

4. When the design is finished, iron it with a regular iron from the back to make sure everything is secure.

5. Place circles/berries go at the ends of the vines. You can use buttons or other embellishments if desired. Trace around a spool of thread or coins onto index or recipe cards and cut out to make templates. Cut circles out of fabric, making them 1/4 inch wider than the templates. Knot the end of the thread and sew a running stitch around the outside of the fabric circle about 1/8 inch from the edge. Place the index card circle in the center of the fabric circle and draw the thread tight so that the fabric gathers around the card circle. It will look like a little shower cap. Secure the thread. Make all of the circles and then heavily spray starch and iron and let dry. Snip the gather thread to allow the removal of the index card circle. Glue-baste in place and sew onto the ends of the vines.

6. Square up the background fabric. If borders are desired, add them at this point.

Quilt Assembly
1. Sandwich the quilt top, batting and backing and baste together using quilters safety pins, basting spray or hand basting.

2. Use invisible or matching thread to sew the bias down. Sew a straight stitch along both edges of all of the bias strips. I use my free motion foot to do this. So you have sewn the bias strips onto the background fabric and have done the quilting at the same time! Quilt remaining background as desired using stipple quilting, grid lines or echo quilting.

3. Square up the entire finished piece again and then sew on a hanging sleeve and binding. Add a label.

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